Friday, June 29, 2007

The Friday Five

Again, another Friday rolls around, and again, I'm still ripping off The Rotten Correspondent (go see her here, go on, I'll wait).

So today's Friday Five is......

Five Places I Want to Go Before I Die and Why (in no particular order)

1. United Kingdom

Half my family history originates in Scotland or England. Medieval archaeology was going to be my specialty (had I graduated college). I really dig a good cuppa. And I desperately miss good fish and chips. I've always wanted to go, but not just to see the cities. I would love to rent a small cottage and just live for a bit. My husband and I once fantasized about running off to the U.K. and getting jobs with the BBC, then we realized our families would probably hate us and never speak to us again, so we'll just have to settle for an extended visit.

2. Ireland

Again, a family history thing. My maternal grandfather was from Ireland. I never knew him, because he and my gran split when my Mom was just little. Also, I had planned to spend a semester studying at Trinity College in Dublin. That got disrupted by a guy, who convinced me to move to Alabama. So this trip would also be revenge on him for screwing up that little plan. And I like Guinness.

3. India

Land of extremes and dichotomies. It's one of those places where there are people living in fabulous wealth with all the latest technology, while down the road there are people living in shacks, without basic sanitation. I studied Indian religions for one year as part of my Comparative Religion minor. It was amazing. I'm still in love with the Mahabharata. And even though I'm nervous about travelling anywhere I might contract malaria, seeing the Taj Mahal and eating the wonderful food would counteract those fears.

4. New Zealand

Yeah, sure I'd love to go to Australia, and see the Sydney Opera House, but I want to see New Zealand more. In seventh grade, I had an exchange teacher (he taught science) from New Zealand. I loved the fact the country is still very unspoiled, and while tourism is a major industry, not as many people go there. And of course, Lord of the Rings was shot in some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen.

5. Montana

Okay, I've listed all these international places and I can practically hear the record scratch in your brains as you read "Montana". I want to go to Montana, put a blanket down out on the plain, miles from the nearest town, and look at that sky. I'll be careful not to put the blanket down an a cow patty. It's hard to explain why I want to go there. Maybe because there aren't a lot of people, maybe I'm harbouring some kind of secret cowboy fetish, maybe because I don't have a desire to go to Arizona. But I want to go.

Okay, those are my five, now it's your turn. Where do you want to go? Or maybe you don't want to go anywhere at all? And I love reading your comments, guys. They make the blog better.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

God Save the King

My husband is a nice guy, especially when it comes to kids. He finds it very difficult to turn away from even the most annoying children, something The-Four-Year-Old has no problem doing (she does it to me on a regular basis). So, I was mildly surprised when he told me he actually walked away from a child at the library the other day.

Ray and TFYO had gone to return some books and pick up a few more, when a five-year-old (who is about to turn six) named Abby, with an accent reminiscent of sweet tea, accosted them in the children's book area. To be fair, TFYO opened the door to it, by saying "Hi, what's your name?" which led to an ongoing monologue....

Abby: "Oh, hi, mynameisabbyI'mfivebutI'mgoingtobesixnextmonthandIreallylikebooksdon'tyoulikebooksyoumustifyou'reinthelibrary...."

TFYO looked for a minute with her mouth hanging open and proceeded to try and find a book to put between her and Abby. It just happened to be a Dr. Seuss. The monologue switched gears.

Abby: Oh, I love Dr. Seuss. Y'know he's dead. It's sad that he's dead (pronounce day-ed). He can't write no more books. Just like Elvis. Elvis is dead, too. He died before I was even borned, but he made real good music, I love listening to Elvis, don't you love listening to Elvis?

At this point, I would have told the kid that Elvis wasn't dead, he was living in a retirement community and battling mummies (see: Bubba Ho-Tep, 2002), but my husband, being the sweet guy he is, nodded politely and tried to get a word in edgewise.

"Well, yes, Elvis is dead and made good music, too. Does your Mom listen to Elvis?"

"Oh, no, Mama doesn't listen to Elvis, my Nana does, though, all the time in the car and likes to sing."

"Are you here with your Nana or your Mama?"

"Oh, no, Mama's at work, don't know where Daddy is, Nana is here somewhere, I guess she's reading a magazine. What kind of music do youlistentodoyouhaveanymorekidsdoyouwantsomemoredoyouhaveawifemymammaisrealnicey'know...."

And my husband finally couldn't take anymore. TFYO had already moved to the other end of the room, and he followed her. Abby tried to follow, too. And I know he felt bad, I know he realized this child didn't have anyone, but the constant chatter began to grind on him. He took TFYO and turned a corner into the biographies and never looked back. Well, that's not true. He did go back to make sure that Abby's Nana came back for her, but kept a safe distance while Abby regaled the librarian on the merits of the public library, and how they have lots of booksthatyoucantakeoutandtwocopiesofeverybookandherschoollibrarydoesn'thavethat....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Southern Food vs. Canadian Food

A while back I promised this entry, and I got sidetracked by frogs, lists and children, so here it is.

Being a Canadian living in the southeastern United States has posed some interesting challenges for me: accents, a reeeeeally slow pace of life, and food. The food is really different, but I love it nonetheless. So I got to thinking about some of my favourite foods and how they might stack up against each other in a to-the-death cage match.

Pecan Pie vs. Butter Tarts

This was a toughie for me, as I happen to love both of these almost equally well. Truth be told, they're almost the exact same thing, really. They're both sugar based pies, but where pecan pies have (duh!) nuts, butter tarts have raisins. I love butter tarts. I grew up eating these with a cup of tea on the side (heavy on the milk). While I like pecan pie, I don't think I could gorge myself on it the way I can with butter tarts. The crust is different, more like shortbread. And I like mine just a touch runny. And of course, I can't buy them here, so I have to bake them myself. Oh, and for Americans who have no idea what a butter tart is, here's a linky, although I take issue with Wikipedia's ingredient list. I've never seen these made with nuts before.


Greens vs. Boiled Cabbage

Um, okay, no brainer on this one. Greens, be they collard, mustard, or turnip win this one hands down for me. I grew up eating very English food: bangers and mash (sausages and potatoes) with a side of boiled cabbage was a regular weekly occurrence. It's filling, it's tasty, and it's cheap. I've got nothing against boiled cabbage, especially when it's laced with a ton of butter and salt and pepper. But there's something about biting into tender greens, simmered for an hour with a couple of ham hocks or smoked turkey wings, and seasoned with pepper vinegar that just does it for me. And, if I do say so myself, I make some kick-ass greens.

Winner: GREENS

Sweet Tea vs. A Cup of Tea

I can't drink southern sweet tea. Goodness knows I've tried in order to preserve family harmony (and because a lot of times, there's nothing else to drink). But in my opinion, it's like trying to suck watered down corn syrup through a straw. A word of wisdom to my Canadian friends: be careful if you ever come down here and order tea thinking you're going to get a steaming mug. You'll get a tall, ice filled glass covered with the sweetest beverage known to man. I almost choked the first time I tried it. I now order it "unsweet" and risk the hostile stares from other restaurant patrons. For my Southern friends, if you order tea up north, you're likely to be brought a small stainless steel tea pot filled with boiling water and a couple of tea bags tucked in a mug. Just so you know.

Winner: Cup of Tea

Grits vs. Poutine

Okay, my American friends, here's a quick lesson in strange Canadian foods. Poutine (not to be confused with Russian leader Vladimir Putin) originated in Quebec in the 1950's. It consists of french fries, covered in cheese curd, and then topped with brown gravy. I tried to think of something as weird on the southern side, but instead I came up with my favourite divisive food, grits. Poutine is certainly an acquired taste, so is grits. But I've never been able to wrap my head around cheese curds and gravy. I love fries, I love gravy, and I like cheese curds. I even like gravy on fries. But I can't eat them all together. I think it looks gross. Sorry, but I'll take a hot bowl of buttered and salted grits any day. Regular readers know how I love my grits (see some of my earlier posts if you're new here), so I don't think there's any competition.

Winner: GRITS

So I guess I'm really a half and half mixture now of Southerner and Canadian. Do you guys have foods you think I should have compared? The only other thing I can think of that's really uniquely Canadian is ketchup flavoured chips, which you can't buy in the States. If you haven't tried them, they are yummy, and my friend Jill brings them to me whenever she visits. And Jill, we're out of chips, okay?

Monday, June 25, 2007

1000 Hits!

I just want to say a quick thank you to The Rotten Correspondent. She was my 1000th visitor. When I started, I was thinking maybe a couple of people I know would read this thing, and while I still believe most of the hits on the counter were from my Mom and Dad, I'm still kind of giddy that in the span of just over a month, you guys drove the hit counter up to one thousand. I love you all. No, really. Even you, Guy-From-Germany who always drops by but never comments.

'Cause everybody wants to hide their secrets away...

Lyric courtesy of Good Charlotte, and their song Secrets.

Yes, this is the Four-Year-Old. Don't tell her she's beautiful, she'll tell you she knows already.

Here's a tip for all of you aspiring parents out there: don't tell your child anything you don't want shouted from the rooftops. It's a lesson my husband has yet to learn, and one that my sister-in-law learned this past week while they were in town.

We were all at the condo on the beach where my in-laws were staying. The four-year-old was going to be spending the night there, giving me and the hubby some quiet time for the evening. The Four-Year-Old kept asking me for candy, since we'd all been down to River Street the previous day, and everyone loaded up on goodies from The Peanut Shop. I kept telling her no, since dinner was right around the corner. Ten minutes later, I hear this:

"Well, you see, Brandi, I was a little hungry, so you gave me a chocolate ball. It was yummy. Thank you."

The look on my sister-in-law's face was priceless.

"I didn't think she'd rat me out!" was her reply. To be honest, I should have been irritated that a member of my family countermanded a direct order from me to not let the Four-Year-Old have candy so close to dinner time. But I was secretly gleeful that our darling child had sprung her sense of honesty on another unsuspecting person.

You see, my husband still hasn't learned that the Four-Year-old can't keep quiet about anything, something that amused me to no end this past Christmas. It's why I don't take her Christmas shopping with me, because I know she'll tell everyone what they got. I was treated to this little exchange a few days before Christmas last year.

Me: "So, what did you do today?"
The Then Three-Year-Old: "Oh, we went and saw the nice lady."

Cue me thinking my husband is having an affair and dragging along our child.

Me: "What nice lady?!"
T-Y-O: "The nice lady with the silver key."
Me: "The silver key?"

At this point my darling child looks at me like I'm an idiot and says slowly and patiently: "The nice lady with the silver key that opens the glass box, Mommy. At the big store, with all of the lights and plastic people."

It finally dawned on me that she was telling me that Ray had gone to a department store and bought me something out of a jewelry case. The T-Y-O then went on to tell me it came in a nice black box, and I could wear it on my wrist, but that Daddy told her it was a secret, which apparently is code for : TELL EVERYONE!

So, don't tell your children that you've got a boil in an uncomfortable place unless you want your neighbours to know. And your child's teacher. And his or her friends. And the postman. And the dog down the street.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Friday Five

I'm stealing this idea from The Rotten Correspondent. If you haven't checked out her blog, what the hell are you waiting for? She's brilliantly funny, and she does this list thingy on Thursdays. So, being ambitious, I'm trying out a Friday Five, instead of a Thursday Three.

After my grumpy post about advertising this week, I thought we could use a little self-affirmation. Here are Five Things I like about myself....*note: these are not five things other people necessarily like about me!

  1. I can cook, and cook well, with whatever happens to be on hand. I inherited this trait from my mom.

  2. I may be overweight, but I can also lift fifty pounds above my head and hold it there for more than a minute. My child weighs almost forty pounds, and I can hold her up there for a while! Don't ask why I would choose to do this.

  3. I care. A lot. About everyone and everything. Sometimes this makes me cry and pisses other people off, but I think it makes me a better person.

  4. I'm intelligent. This gets me into trouble sometimes, usually with other people who don't care how smart I am.

  5. I am a smart ass. It's fun. Try it sometime, I guarantee endless hours of amusement.

Okay, those are my five, and just like The Rotten Correspondent, I am encouraging you to post five things you like about yourself in the comments section. Maybe next week we'll try things we don't like about ourselves. Or not.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Spam, it's pink and oval

Lyrics courtesy of Save Ferris.

I recently got a coupon in the mail for this. I don't know why someone thought this was a good idea, but Spam in a POUCH? A single serving of Spam. A Spamlette, if you will.

Just so you know, this is not a sponsored post (although, if there's someone out there who wants to pay me to write, email is in the profile!!), because I'm really not crazy about this stuff. It's very popular down here in the South, though, as it is a pork product, and we do love our pork down here. It's also apparently more popular in Hawaii than in any other state in the union, partly because it was so ubiquitous during WWII. My mother-in-law said they seemed to serve it almost as much as macaroni salad while she was there.

The last time I came anywhere near Spam, I was doing a morning show in Charleston, SC. I had recently found myself hosting the show alone, and our program director thought he'd be helpful by giving me a topic to talk about, rather than us discussing the news of the day. That topic : Spam, the food, not the e-mail trash. His brilliant idea was to get me to eat the stuff on the air.

What I didn't know at the time, was that I was already 3 weeks pregnant, and had just started to feel the first effects of morning sickness. He waved that open can under my nose, and I just about tossed my cookies into his lap. There followed after that a wave of phone calls from people extolling the virtues of the wobbly pink brick, including a lady who said she always made Spam salad on crackers as an hors d'oeuvre, and no one knew it wasn't really ham. I got to meet her a few weeks later at a remote, when she brought me a Spam cookbook. She would call the show once a week and refer to herself as the "Spam Lady". She was always very sweet, but thankfully never brought me any of that Spam Salad. Perhaps my ever-expanding waist line and descriptions of dealing with morning sickness during our morning show kept her at bay.

I still have the cook book, by the way, it was one of the first books my child pulled off the shelf to look at before she could read, I think she was about 8 months old or so. I still can't help but wonder if that first whiff of Spam during my early pregnancy is what turned off the four-year-old to meat.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mother-in-Law, Mother-in-Law

That one's by Ernie K-Doe, from 1961, and does not describe how I feel about my MIL at all.

I'm really lucky in who I married, because I have a fantastic mother-in-law. She doesn't read this blog, so I can gush about her all I want.

When I first met Ray's parents, I was more than a bit nervous. He was wrapping up his divorce, we worked together, and I probably must have seemed like a home wrecker. I was terrified, but if Ray's mom hated me, she never let on, and it's been smooth sailing ever since.

It might be because we are similar in many ways. Neither one of us gets really uptight about house work, we're both a little sarcastic, we both like a good drink, and we both like to laugh. We also both wear the same size, which led to us inadvertently swapping a pair of jeans. She was doing a load of wash at her house, and grabbed some of our laundry (we were visiting) to put in with hers. We just happened to have the same pair of jeans in the exact same size. I'm not sure what that says about my husband...

My husbands parents are in town this week, staying on the island getting a bit of much-needed vacation, and we all went out to eat last night. We had a blast at Uncle Bubba's (brother of Paula Deen, try the char grilled oysters!), her, me and my sister-in-law all laughing and carrying on. I'm sure half the restaurant thought we were drunk, but all we'd had was tea. I swear! It just made me realize how very fortunate I am that I get along so well with my husband's family, and that I like spending time with them, and not everyone can say that about their own families, let alone their spouse's!

My MIL is also like me in that she doesn't like to be complimented to much, it embarrasses her. So, I can just say here "Thanks, Diane. You a great Nana to the four-year-old, and thank you for not calling me a hussy when I started dating your son."

May you all be blessed with a great mother-in-law.
And don't worry, I'll gripe about something tomorrow *grin*

Monday, June 18, 2007

All I Need is a TV Show...

I meant to post about this on Friday, but I got sidetracked b the whole "8 Facts" thing. By the way, thanks again to daydreamsupercollider for tagging me, and to everyone who commented here. Y'all make me feel so loved!

Normally, award shows don't do much for me. I've always thought they were an exercise in narcissism for a group of people whom we already pay way to much attention to. Besides, the people who really deserve attention (i.e. the technicians, editors, make-up and costume artists) get their awards at a banquet the night before the big gig, and they never get the recognition I think they deserve.

But I watched the Daytime Emmy Awards Thursday night for two reasons: Bob Barker and Paula Deen.

Bob Barker won for best game show host, right after CBS aired his final Price is Right. I thought Ellen Degeneres did a great job with the presentation. Paula Deen was nominated for and won two awards, and she's our hometown girl. I'm sure she can be ruthless and bitchy, but I just can't help loving that woman. Even if she does use too much butter and sugar.

What really stood out for me during the broadcast, though, were the ads. I realize most daytime programming is aimed at home-makers and stay at home moms. I'm pretty much a "stay-at-home" mom myself. But it's interesting to see what advertisers think of their primary demographic, women aged 25-54.

What would aliens think of women in our society if they only saw the following commercials:

Lean Cuisine
A commercial for an anti-depressant
Covergirl lip colour
medication for Restless Leg Syndrome
Diet Ocean Spray
and Frontline Flea and Tick Medication

It says to me that I am overweight, even though I always feel like I'm dancing a jig. I'm depressed, desperately in need of lipstick to make me feel better, and I also apparently have a hankering for cheaply produced clothing and electronics. Some of the other ads included hair colouring, antacids, various juices, cleaning products and diapers. I and a lot of other women supposedly need a lot of help. If I believed everything I saw in those ads, I might throw myself off the nearest bridge.

I didn't see a single ad for a pick-up truck, tools, home improvement stores or beer, all things that I happen to like. The only "non-girly" ad I saw was from Hebrew National, basically saying that since their hot dogs are kosher, they aren't made from the hind end of a cow.

I really was just astonished, though, at the number of weight control products that were advertised during the show. Everything from diet food to diet drugs, plus products to make our thighs look slimmer, and our faces look younger. When did it become NOT okay for me to get older? When did the world decide that I can't be one of those apple-faced, ample-hipped grannies, but instead need to be kayaking and rock climbing well into my sixties, skinny as a twig, with a face frozen permanently into an expression of either surprise, or no expression at all? Why does being a woman mean I have to be in competition with everyone else, to be the best mom, the best wife, the best PTA parent?

Damn it, I want to get old on my terms. I stopped colouring my hair recently. I'm thirty-two, and I've had a white streak in my hair for quite a while. I decided that I liked it, I earned it, and L'Oreal can kiss my ass.

However, I'm not quite ready to give up my MAC cosmetics yet. Maybe next year, when I decide to take up kayaking.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Cause and Effect

Which is the name of a tune by the UK band Random Hold. Peter Gabriel apparently once said they were one of the finest bands in Britain.

Which brings me to the word "random", and how daydreamsupercollider has tagged me to divulge eight random facts about myself. So, here goes:

1. I'm really good at remembering band names and song lyrics, which you may or may not have guessed from the various post titles on this blog.
Almost every one of them is a song lyric or a song title.

2. I've broken at least six bones in my body, including my fifth metatarsal, my patella, a couple of ribs, and a couple of fingers.

3. I got whiplash in the sixth grade while "chicken fighting".

4. I only recently learned to appreciate brussels sprouts (eat them roasted with olive oil!!)

5. I majored in archaeology, and had a double minor in history and comparative religion, all of which are very helpful in my chosen job of "radio air talent".

6. I'm terrified of large groups, yet I speak to thousands of people at any given time on the weekends.

7. I'm both scared of heights and claustrophobic.

8. I collect cheesy snow-globes, the more plastic and hideous, the

Okay, there are my eight random facts. Don't you feel better knowing them now? Since everyone I know on Blogger has already been tagged, I issue this challenge: for all of you who read this blog but don't have your own accounts, I say you need to post eight random facts about yourself in the comments section here. So, I tag: Gurnal, Jill, Auntie Barbie, and my Dad, who all read, and occasionally comment. I know I'm supposed to tag eight people, but I don't have that many friends. See number six above.

      Friday, June 15, 2007

      Golf Cart Love

      Which really is the title of an instrumental by Lyle Lovett, from the movie Dr. T and The Women. Cruddy movie, good soundtrack.

      Anyway, golf carts. We don't have a lot of golf courses here in Effingham County. To be sure, there's tons of them around Savannah proper, but not many out here in the boondocks. But we do have a lot of golf carts. Everywhere I go, I see them parked in front of peoples houses, or see them trundling down winding drives, or cruising down the shoulder of our quaint country lanes. For the longest time I couldn't figure it out. We don't exactly live in a resort area. What the hell are all these people who live in trailers, and have giant stables for their horses, doing toodling around in golf carts?

      The answer: getting their mail, and checking their fence lines.

      Really, it's kind of brilliant, if you think about it. If you lived at the end of a half mile long drive way, you wouldn't want to walk that every day to get the post, either. It's also a great alternative to using an ATV or your lawn tractor to scope out a property that's bigger than a couple of acres. Most of the people that own them are older, or just don't like the idea of gassing up a vehicle for a quick trip to grab the mail, check on the livestock, or run over to the neighbouring farm to borrow some sorghum. After all, most of these little babies are battery powered, and you can just plug them in to recharge.

      When we finally run out of oil, these folks may be the only people left with transportation. I foresee a future not unlike Mad Max, but instead of semi-trucks and motorcycles, rural people will be battling it out with tricked out golf carts instead. Can you imagine vicious golf cart gangs, roving the dilapidated country highways of south Georgia, hijacking generator power to charge their carts? The battle scenes could be spectacular.

      Hmmm. Maybe it's time to start scoping out cart dealers now.

      Thursday, June 14, 2007

      Private Eyes, They're Watching You...

      With many thanks to Hall and Oates for the title.

      In the interest of full disclosure, I think it's important that I let all of you know that you're being watched while you're here. Well, kind of watched. You may, or may not, have noticed I have a stat counter at the bottom of this blog. Not only does it tell me how many page loads I have, but it also keeps track of where you all are from, and how you found my page. And I say this now only because apparently I've been turning up in Google searches for "John Deere Bathing Suit", which I find incredibly hilarious. (Try it, and see the interesting returns you get, besides me, of course).

      As far as I can tell, no one actually makes a John Deere bathing suit. Oh, there are a few listings for bathing suits that come in yellow and green, but nothing with the actual logo on it. So, for the PR companies that have visited this site (you know who you are, and I know you've been here!), take note: there's a whole bunch of people out there (at least the 45 that have clicked on this blog) that want a bikini with the John Deere logo on it.

      I've also been turning up in Google searches for Mark Twain, because I used his quote, as well as song lyric searches, because I use song lyrics for the titles of my entries. I'm amused by this, and I also feel sorry for the folks who are inadvertently clicking on this blog thinking they're going to get some good information. But hey, even if you got here by mistake, I hope you stay and read. I'm occasionally amusing, and sometimes irritating. The people who leave comments here are certainly more profound and intelligent than I am on any given day, and they're really the reason you should stick around.

      Now I want to let you know, I don't use your information for some evil plot to take over the world, it's more just because I'm curious about who you are, and to see how many people are actually reading my ramblings. Apparently, there are a lot of you, most of whom don't comment. I've had visitors from as far away as Australia and India, and I want all of you to stay. And leave a comment, even if it's just a note to say "hi" and that you found my blog.

      That way, I can at least say thank you.

      Wednesday, June 13, 2007

      For daydreamsupercollider

      The cartoon is called "One Froggy Evening", and it's always been one of my favourites. My last program director was kind of obsessed with Michigan J. Frog (the character), so it's been on my mind lately anyway....

      Hello My Baby, Hello My Honey....

      I love nature. I love flora and I love fauna of all different types. As long as it's not invading my house.

      For the last couple of days, I've been hunting a frog. At least, I think it's a frog. It makes a trilling sound, and sometimes it appears to be coming from under the sofa. I've heard the sound before, when I've been out walking around the neighbourhood, either in the morning or the evenings. They hang out in the pine forests that surround our subdivision, and with the various birds we have living nearby, it makes a lovely symphony. Unless it's in the house.

      Two days ago, I heard a strange sound, and the four-year-old came running to me in the office, saying "What was it? What was that sound? Find it!" I asked her where it was coming from, and she said it was in the living room. So, we looked. We looked under the sofa, we looked behind the cedar chest. We checked some of the boxes that we still haven't unpacked in the almost two months since we moved in. I couldn't find anything. I told her it was something outside, and not to worry about it. But of course, I began worrying about it. I began worrying about little beady eyes staring at me from a dark corner, waiting to pounce and suck my blood.

      I heard the sound again yesterday, and this time it sounded like it was in the garage. Great, I thought, it's migrating. So, off I went, to check in boxes, poke behind lawn equipment with a broom, and pray that nothing jumped on me. Late last night, it got ridiculous. It was like that scene from the Three Amigos, where El Guapo and his men try to take over the village and it seems like the Three Amigos are everywhere. The four-year-old was shouting from her bed for us to "Find that noise!", and my husband and I were looking in the backyard, the front yard, and everywhere in between. And then we narrowed it down.

      I think our little frog as wandered into the flower bed in front of our house, just under the living room window, and is hiding out in the azaleas. He sat there and chirped happily through the eight o'clock hour, and boy, was he loud. I tried to see where he was, but I think he has burrowed into the pine straw we use as mulch down here. We've had a bit of rain lately, and the pine straw is nice and damp. I imagine he thought it would be a cool place for a bachelor pad, and of course, that's why he's singing his little heart out. He's trying to find someone to move in with him. And that's fine with me, as long as they don't plan to build the nursery in my garage.

      Sunday, June 10, 2007

      It's a small world after all...

      So, a relative of mine who reads and comments on this blog (hi, Auntie Barbie) told me that she likes hearing my take on things, but she was wondering how my husband, Ray, feels about all of this. So, since I'm not the selfish type (or at least, not very selfish), I asked him if he wanted to contribute and how he felt about life here in rural Georgia.

      Ray gave me a funny look, and said "Well, it's pretty much just like my home town." And, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that one part of rural Georgia was just like another. And, thinking about it a bit more, I also realized that one rural area is pretty much just like any other as well, with maybe the exception of whatever the local cuisine is. I figured out that you can compare the area I live in, with just about anywhere else, and you'll find similarities.

      "So what?" I hear you say. "People are people, there are bound to be similarities." Well, that's true, but I think I can prove to you that the people here are just like people I spent my summers with up in Penatanguishine, Ontario.

      For example, people here like to sit out by the above ground pool, and drink beer, and shoot off fireworks, and set things on fire. By some strange coincidence, so do my family who live in rural Ontario. We went up there about a year ago, and both Ray and I were struck by how very much the same everyone was. My family (and I'm related by marriage to pretty much half of the township up there) were all sitting around the patio, sunburned, talking about hunting, how their gardens were doing, where they wanted to ride their ATVs and drinking Coors Light. Yes, they even drink the same beer. The biggest difference seemed to be in the accents, and also in the fact that they use snowmobiles to get around in the winter time.

      On thinking about this a bit more, I got to thinking about other countries, too. I was watching Tony Bourdain's No Reservations on the Travel Channel the other night, and he was in Vietnam. He traveled to a rural area, and what was everyone doing? Sitting around on the floor, getting drunk off the local hooch, and talking about their gardens and hunting. Does everyone in every rural area do this? Do we do this in the city, too?

      Yep, I think we do. I mean, I wasn't riding an ATV or talking about hunting when I lived in the city, but I was sitting at the local watering hole, talking sports, bitching about my life, and drinking a beer. So maybe it's not just a rural thing. Maybe it's just that as people, we all do some version of this ritual. I can almost imagine our ancestors, sitting around the fire at the mouth of their caves, drinking some sort of fermented mashed up yuck, talking about gathering roots, hunting, and who Og was screwing that week.

      Maybe it's less about being rural, and more about being human. I'll see y'all around the bonfire, and save me a Coors Light.

      Friday, June 8, 2007

      Everybody here is a member of the Walmart Parking Lot Social Club

      Thanks to Joe Nichols for the lyric, from the song "Walmart Parking Lot". No really, it is.

      I never really thought much about Walmart before moving here. Every town in the south seems to have one, but I didn't do a whole lot of shopping there. I'm more of a Target girl, honestly. It seems, though, that I was missing out, because Walmart is an absolute microcosm of whatever town it's in, and you can learn a lot about your small town simply by hanging out at the local Walmart.

      First of all, I've learned that everybody, and I mean everybody in Rincon, and the surrounding towns shops at our local Walmart. Why? Well, because aside from the Kroger south of town, and a Food Lion, it's the only place to shop, especially if you need more than groceries. Every time I've been to this one, it's always jam packed. I've always had to wait in line, and the aisles are crammed with people, no matter what the hour, no matter what the day. Sundays after church are probably the worst, and I'll explain more about that in a minute.

      Secondly, everybody seems to be related to everyone else. Case in point, Sunday after church, walking down an aisle trying to get bread, and there is a family reunion going on in front of the hot dog buns. Never mind that they all just saw each other a half an hour ago, sitting in the pew across from them. No, it's like they haven't seen each other for years. "Well, Jessie Mae, how are you! How's your Mama and Daddy? Didn't see them this morning at Sunday school. Oh, they were there? Well, my eyes must just be going. You grillin' out today?" And so on. Ten people, all related, and all probably going to see each other again for evening church, hanging out in the bread aisle.

      Thirdly, you can wear whatever the hell you want to Walmart. Not long after we got to town, our little family took a shopping trip. We were walking in, and walking out was a woman in pajama pants and bunny slippers. At 2:30 in the afternoon. The four-year-old looks at me and says "How come I can't wear my jammies to the store?" I told her she could when she was older, and I didn't have to be seen in public with her anymore. Also, t-shirts with almost witty saying are very popular here as well. For instance, I saw a man wearing a "Smart Ass University" t-shirt one afternoon as I was browsing for toilet bowl cleaner. I saw the same shirt on a different guy the following week, except he was wearing a John Deere cap, and had his little ones in tow. The best one was probably the two women who were wearing bathing suits (one had on a Confederate Flag bikini) with cover-ups while shopping for beer. The cover-ups, unfortunately, weren't covering up all that much.

      The truth is, I think I'm jealous. All of my family live far away, so there's no chance of me and our six shopping carts ever having a reunion in the bread aisle. And I only wish I was bold enough or didn't care enough to wear a bathing suit or pajamas to go shopping (maybe a bikini AND bunny slippers, there's a thought). The good news is, if I ever get up the guts to do it, I can buy the t-shirt, the slippers, the bathing suit, and a John Deere cap at my local Walmart. I'll post pictures when I do.

      Thursday, June 7, 2007

      Middle of the Night, Hold on Til Morning

      As I write this, it is the middle of the night. Well, figuratively speaking. It's just before 4 a.m. and my husband has headed off to work. But my daughter is awake, as sometimes happens, and I'm waiting for her to go back to sleep, so if the post seems to ramble, I apologize.

      Most of my life has been spent in cities, with the exceptions of summers and winter holidays spent at my Granny and Grandad's store, so I'm still amazed at how dark out it can be. So dark, that when I look out the window, the stars twinkle back at me. I used to be afraid of the dark. Things like dark closets would terrify me, and don't even get me started on middle-of-the-night power outages. When I was a kid (and another early riser, like my child) I would sleep with the light on. Sometimes, still, if I've been under a period of great stress, I'll sleep with the light on, which impresses my husband to no end, I'm sure.

      Since moving here, though, I find myself embracing the dark, waiting for it, so I can feel the same peace that seems to descend on this area at sunset. Now, when I look out into the dark street, I feel calm instead of scared. It's like this sparkly, inky blanket has us all wrapped up, and I feel safe, really safe, for the first time in a long time.

      They have yet install the much-promised street lights in this neighbourhood, but I find myself wishing that they wouldn't, if only so I can keep looking up and making friends with all those stars.

      Wednesday, June 6, 2007

      Somewhere Over the Rainbow....

      I'm not as good or creative a photographer as my friend daydreamsupercollider (check out her blog here ), but this was the view out my back door yesterday evening.

      It stretched across the entire sky, perfect and complete. I only wish I'd had the equipment to get the whole thing in the picture. And my daughter loved it.

      Last night's post was kinda angry and crabby. Hopefully, this makes up for it. I love this song, and I love this guy's voice. His name is Israel Kamakawiwo Ole.

      Tuesday, June 5, 2007

      Turn it on, Turn it on again...

      Or maybe off. I'm not a lot of fun to watch T.V. with. I'm the first to admit that, and I think my husband would agree. You see, I argue with people on television, and tonight, I've been at my worst.

      Right now, the Republicans are waging war in a televised debate, giving their basic take on the state of the nation. If I was playing the Republican Debate drinking game at home, I'd be incredibly drunk right now, because "Reagan" has been said at least fourteen times.

      I don't like being this way, really. But it's just not my fault that every time Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee claimed that the US was different because it values every American life, I couldn't help adding "Unless you're on death row in Arkansas." And it's also not my fault that I thought Mitt Romney looked like a Ken doll. Or that every time I looked at Rudolph Giuliani, I kept thinking about how he kicked his wife out of the mayoral mansion so he could sleep with his assistant. Or that I think Sen. McCain may have the American flag tattooed on his ass. I asked my husband who some of the other candidates were (there had to have been 13 people up on that stage) and he said "Well, Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Grumpy..."

      I couldn't take it anymore. I had to leave. Watching the debate violated my "no blood pressure raising television too close to bed-time" rule. And so, I'm sitting here writing, and feeling a little guilty.

      I feel guilty, because this blog was not going to have political rants, and I feel bad that I had to get this off my chest. I'm not fond of most of the Democrats either, and I feel guilty that at times like this, I'm glad I can't vote, because I can't think of someone I'd actually want to vote for. And then I get angry with myself, because voting is one of the most important things you can do as a citizen. Despite what the cynics say, it really is your greatest power. I suppose the biggest problem is right now, that the only people we have to vote for are politicians.

      The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.- Mark Twain in Eruption

      Monday, June 4, 2007

      Look, he's crawling up my wall

      First line of Boris the Spider, by the Who.

      I really hate spiders. I mean, really, really, shudder all over hate them. I have ever since I was a kid, and one dropped down on me from the ceiling while I was laying in bed. But I may never be able to kill one after today.

      We recently got a ton of rain from what was left of Tropical Storm Barry, and goodness knows we needed it, as we've been in a drought for some time. However, when the rains come, the creepy crawlies often seek refuge in a dry place, and I suppose the most convenient place was my house. So, I've squished a few over the past couple of days, and didn't think anything of it.

      Then, this morning, one little black spider ran over my bare foot. I didn't yell, and I didn't shriek, although I wanted to. I played it cool because my daughter was sitting on the couch, and I didn't want to upset her. I did the only thing I could think of, and grabbed my flip-flop sandal, and smacked the thing. And then this conversation ensued:

      4-year-old: "Mommy, what is that?"

      Me: "A spider."

      4-year-old peers at the floor.

      4-year-old: "No it's not, it's a black dot."

      Me: "Well, it was a spider, before I got rid of it."

      4 year-old: "You mean, you crushed him up, you smashed his little body?"

      Me: "Well, yes, I killed the spider."

      4-year-old: "So, killing is a kind of getting rid of."

      Me: "Well, yes, but..."

      4-year-old: "Did Daddy kill the trash this morning?"

      Me: "WHAT?!?!"

      4-year-old: "I hope nobody gets rid of me that way."

      And so, now, I'm wracked with guilt over this poor, tiny, defenseless, and now flushed-down-the commode spider. Strangely enough, my child seems less traumatized by all of this than I am. I'm mortified at what I've apparently taught my daughter with the example of a squished spider.

      I'm not really sure how I'm going to explain chicken fingers to her.

      If I Don't Love You Baby, Grits Ain't Groceries

      Thanks to Little Milton for the title.

      As promised, my recipe for Grilled Shrimp and Grits. I love traditional Shrimp and Grits, but it's not exactly low fat. It has a roux based gravy, and usually has a lot of butter added besides. There's a little butter in this, but only in the grits. The rest of the fat comes from olive oil, which at least is better for your heart. It's a nice summer time meal, and if you've got a side burner on your grill (like I do), you can cook the whole meal outside.

      Grilled Shrimp and Grits
      (serves 4 normal people, or me and my husband)

      1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
      1/4 cup of olive oil
      Juice of a lemon
      Juice of a lime
      1 clove of garlic minced, or 1 tbsp. of bottled minced garlic
      Cayenne pepper and salt to taste

      4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
      1 large red bell pepper, cut into chunks
      1/4 cup of olive oil
      2 tbsp. red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
      Salt and pepper to taste

      Enough Bamboo Skewers for the shrimp and veggies, soaked in water for at LEAST 3 hours (a whole day is better)

      1 batch Basic Grits (see earlier post), substitute chicken stock for the water
      zest of one lemon, zest of one lime
      1 tbsp of butter
      Salt to taste.

      Prepare your grill, medium heat is best for this.

      For the Shrimp:

      Whisk together olive oil and lemon and lime juice in a large bowl. Stir in garlic, cayenne, and salt. Toss the shrimp with the dressing, cover and refrigerate. Don't let this marinate for more than 10 minutes or so, because the acid will start to "cook" the shrimp, kind of like ceviche, which is not what we want.

      For the Veggies:

      Place the peppers and tomatoes in a bowl, and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat. Thread the peppers onto a couple of the bamboo skewers, and do the same with the tomatoes. Set them on a platter.

      Next, take out your shrimp, and thread them on skewers, as well. Place them on a platter, and sprinkle with a little more cayenne, if desired.

      Now, using tongs, place your skewers on the grill racks. Since there's so much oil on everything, the kebabs shouldn't stick, but you may want to coat your grill racks with cooking spray. Close the grill lid, and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Flip your skewers, and cook for two minutes more, or until the shrimp are pink and firm, and the peppers and tomatoes are soft. (If you get flare-ups, just turn your gas grill down, or keep a spray bottle of water handy to dampen your charcoal if you use that)

      Mix the lemon zest, lime zest, salt and butter into the hot grits. Remove shrimp and veggies from skewers and serve over the grits. Garnish with parsley or tarragon if desired.

      I like to drink a wheat beer with this, but a nice crisp pinot grigio works great, too.

      Friday, June 1, 2007

      Electricity, eeeeeeeelectricity!

      Well, I meant to post my recipe for Grilled Shrimp and Grits yesterday, but by the time I got home from work the power was off. Thankfully, it wasn't just us. All thirty of the houses in our neighbourhood were blacked out. For some reason, things like this are always better when other people are miserable with you.

      It's funny, though, how people react when they lose power. Some folks got mad, and stormed up to the builders office at the front of the subdivision, who, coincidentally, was also without power. The guy across the street was in his garage, flipping every breaker in the box, and asking everyone he saw if their power was out, too. Some people were standing on their front porches looking confused, turning the switches for the porch lights on and off as if doing it a few more times might make the light come on. My husband, brilliant human being that he is, immediately headed to the grocery store to buy bags of ice, and a case of bottled water. He also made sure that the propane tank on our new grill was still fairly full. I think it's why I married him. He's so good at taking care of things.

      So I came home to a house that did not have the familiar whirring sound of ceiling fans. All the windows were open, and it was blissfully quiet, for bit anyway. Eventually, our four-year-old couldn't take it anymore and dragged out her electronic piano, which runs on batteries. She's just about figured out how to play "Three is a Magic Number" from School House Rock. But really, for the most part, it was quiet. I could hear mocking birds, I could hear the kids riding bikes out in the street, I could hear people calling for those kids, and their dogs, and their friends who live up the street. I could even hear the traffic from the highway, a couple of miles away. And I got to thinking, we always have this background noise going in the house: the ceiling fans, sometimes the air conditioner, the refrigerator, the computer, the TV, etc. I wondered what complete and utter silence would be like, because I'm pretty sure I've never really experienced it. I wondered if it would drive me crazy, or if I'd go to sleep, or maybe if I'd just crack open a beer and enjoy it. I went with the last choice yesterday afternoon. I watched my husband read his book, and listened to the mockingbirds.

      And it was heaven.