I Get a Little Texan When I’m Angry

I have a childhood friend named Kathryn who I regularly chat with online. (Facebook Messenger chat, though I wish we were rocking it old school and using AIM like the cool kids we are.) We were a few years apart in school and didn’t become real friends until we were adults, but we are bonded for life over the fact that we both grew up in the same tiny Texas town and now currently live in the north. I’m in Ohio, she’s in Michigan, so our experiences of being Texpats (that’s the Texan equivalent of being an expat, obv) are the tie that binds.

Some might say our bond is forged over both similarly warped in our youth. We say that we’re right and the rest of the world just doesn’t get our particular brand of weird which consists of frequently referencing Texas history, sharing clippings from our hometown newspaper, and recalling all of the childhood phone numbers we can remember. As I type this I realize how old lady-ish we sound. I assure you we’re real cool. Or at least Kathryn is.

Anyway, our coolness isn’t the point. The point is that we’re the only two people in the tri-state area who know what it was like to grow up in Canadian, Texas. (Yes that’s the name of our hometown; no, it has nothing to do with Canada and we will roll our eyes at anyone who suggests such nonsense.)

For example, Kathryn messaged me the other day to ask me if I could recite and/or sing all fifty states in alphabetical order…which obviously I can because Marilyn Wilson drilled that business right into our heads in 5th grade music class. We had to sing it alone in front of the whole class for a test grade. So, yeah…I can do that. Apparently all of Kathryn’s MI friends think this is bizarre. They also can’t sing their state song, bless their hearts. Not knowing your state song is just blasphemous if you’re a Texan. We just canNOT with these northerners sometimes, I swear.

So anyway, today Kathryn sent me a message asking me if I ever, “get more Texan” when I’m disciplining my children.

Y’all. Is that even a question? Does Chuck Norris kick bad guy ass when he’s angry? Is the name Ladybird acceptable for both your child and your dog?? Do we vehemently protest the addition of beans to chili?? Yes, yes, and yes. So, yes. Can confirm. I do get a little Texan when I’m angry.

I mean, most people who talk to me on a normal day genuinely wouldn’t guess I’m Texan. I think this is due to the fact that I took a kajillion speech and film classes back in the day and the Standard American Dialect was drilled into my skull just like, “Aaaaaaaalabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas…” was in music class. Honestly, I’ve found myself developing a Parma accent lately and if you’re from the greater Cleveland area, you know how dire a situation that is. Gracious. I need to have an intervention from Stephen F. Austin is what.

But, if I am absolutely losing my mind on the kids, the Texas for sure comes out. My voice drops into a drawl and I start in with the southernisms. My children know they’re in for it when the twang starts.

I get Texan when I’m angry, which means I also get louder. That’s probably hard for some to believe given how loud I am on a regular basis, but it’s true. I like to think it’s due to the fact that my ancestors’ own hollering had to be heard all the way across the Great Plains when their kids were acting like fools because y’all know the wind’s so bad down there. My loudness is purely an evolutionary development that allows my voice to be heard over a tornado, which obviously gives me a survival edge over non-Texans.

Either way, I go from Parma to Pampa in zero seconds flat and before I know it I am using words like, “dadgummit” and full on hollering at my kids. ‘Tis a delight to behold, just ask my neighbors.

Speaking of “dadgummit,” I used that one the other day and our youngest took a liking to it and decided to try it out himself. He was building with blocks and every time his tower fell down he’d try to yell, “dadgummit!” Only his version was, “DAMN-gummit!” and I have to say I think it’s an improvement on the original.

Fun story, one time after he had first moved to Texas to marry me, my husband was trying out some local colloquialisms and got them all mixed up. So instead of saying, “hot damn” and “boy howdy” he definitely said, “hot boy!” and it was my favorite thing that ever happened.

Another favorite Texplative from my childhood is, “son-of-a-buckin’.” As in, “Y’all need to git in here and clean up this son-of-a-buckin’ floor; we’re fixin’ to have company!” It really rolls of the tongue nicely. I’ve never used that one with my own progeny, though, as I’m afraid of the subsequent changes they’d make to it.

So anyway, here’s to old friends who knew you when and all the times our pasts make themselves known in the present. Here’s to being a little Texan when we’re angry and inspiring another generation to carry the torch of weird expletives into the future. And also, y’all go learn your state songs right this minute or William B. Travis will haunt your dreams.

Trash Day

Y’all. I have a problem with Trash Day.


I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. You’re totally, totally right. What’s so hard about Trash Day? You bag your trash, you put it out, the gentlemen pick it up, you take your can back, you’re done. Super simple.


Except I didn’t grow up with trash day, so…yeah. I mean, I grew up in the middle of nowhere. The thought of trash pick-up services coming to my parents’ house is laughable. If you look at their house from Google Earth, you’ll see an alien landscape. The Texas Panhandle is a gorgeous place, perhaps a bit of an acquired taste to some, but it’s beautiful. Google Earth did us no favors, though. I’m pretty sure they chose the driest, most dismal looking time of the year to photograph my parents’ house and it looks like they live on Tatooine. Seriously.



Because I couldn’t get the actual Google Earth pic to work, here’s an old-timey view…


…and present day. Well kinda. This was taken during a drought in 2011, which is basically what the Google Earth pictures look like.



And so my parents won’t yell at me for such harsh depictions of our homeland, here’s the Canadian River which runs through my hometown. Now if that isn’t beautiful, then I don’t know what is.


So, yeah. Garbage pick-up didn’t happen at our house. And honestly, I’m assuming garbage pick-up happens in the actual town of Canadian, but I’m too country to even know if that’s a thing. Guys, do you hear me? I’m so country I don’t even know if the town of 2,000 people had trash trucks. Surely they do. But I don’t know. Geez. All I know is Dad would load up all the trash in the back of his truck and take it to town to one of the many public dumpsters that were around, toss it in, and that’d be it. No big deal.


Here’s the thing about me. I know Trash Day is every Thursday. My problem is that I’ll remember this fact on Monday, Tuesday, and on Wednesday morning at approximately 3 a.m. After that time, Trash Day escapes my mind only to re-enter it when I hear the actual truck passing my house. I think it’s probably a serious medical problem.


And get this…there are no public dumpsters around here. So, when I miss Trash Day, I toooootally miss Trash Day. The Panhandle girl in me is irritated by this, simply for the fact that I’d like to be self sufficient. I mean, I can dump my own trash. It’s really no big deal. It’s nice of y’all to offer to pick it up, but I got this. Thankyouverramuch.


And then there’s the fact that our deep freezer was accidentally shut off the other day. (Thank you, dear children, you precious cherubs, you.) So we had some meat that went bad. So basically, I could not miss Trash Day this week.


And then there’s the fact that one of our trash cans needs to be thrown away. Now, if this was the middle of nowhere, I’d just toss my own garbage can and be on my way. But noooo, here in the city I’m left figuring out how the hell to get rid of a trash can with no bottom. 


I tried leaving a note, but the gentlemen who take our trash apparently don’t read politely worded notes on the pizza boxes they’re ramming into the back of their truck. Who knew?


Also, in the winter the garbage truck comes around in the afternoon. In the summer apparently it’s earlier. And it’s taken me all summer to realize that this is not just a random, “hey, they’re early today” kind of thing and it’s more of an, “oh, that’s just what they do” kind of thing. I’m thick.


So this morning, as I was attempting to get Senor Wiggle-Britches to take a nap for the love of all that is good and holy and refereeing the squabbling girls, I heard the melodic sound of the garbage truck at my doorstep. So I dumped the baby into his crib with his bottle, the way they tell you never to do, you know? And I ran outside in my bare feet like a bra-less wild woman to haul the rotting meat filled crap can to the curb.


And I made it. I was even able to ask the young man to just toss the whole damn thing in the truck and I thanked him for his troubles. Win, win, and win!


I was congratulating myself pretty heavily as I made my way back to the backyard. Because, I won Trash Day today, guys. I. Won.


Except that I totally didn’t.


Because there sits our other garbage can, completely full of trash and waiting for that magical journey to the curb.


I’m sorry, old buddy. You’ll have to wait till next week. Or the week after that. Or whenever.



Image 1 Source. Image 2 Source. Image 3 Source.

Home Sweet Home

Now, I’m no mathematician, but to my calculations it has been 1 year and 20 days since my feet have been on Texan soil. That’s 67 weeks and five days, or 474 days, or if we want to be really melodramatic, it’s 682,560 minutes.


Basically, an eternity.


I don’t know of many other states that have as loyal a following as Texas. This is probably due to the fact that few other states invest as much time and resources into indoctrinating their youth. We had Texas history in school for as long as I can remember. Eighth grade social studies was devoted entirely to Texas, in fact, and I’m sure Sam Houston would be proud.


It also doesn’t hurt that Texas happens to be the Promised Land, something that we natives don’t take for granted. Wide open spaces, incredible food, as many tumble weeds and cow pies as you could ask for…what’s more to want?


Funny story: Vin’s precious Grandma Delagrange, who hasn’t left Ohio like, ever, came to Texas for our wedding, which was awesome. At one point she had to travel through some relatively rural area to get to the reception. I don’t know that the scenery dazzled her since she’s quoted as saying, “Do people really live like this??” Apparently parts of the Homeland are an acquired taste. Also, I’m sure Grandma, who is a devout  Catholic, was totally confused when my mother described the Panhandle as “God’s country.” Lost in translation, folks.


We Texans forgive outsiders for not getting it, though. There’s a saying at Texas A&M that goes,  “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.” There’s just something about Texas that makes people crazy for the state. I don’t know exactly what that magic is, but it’s powerful.


One of my best friends growing up had very devoted Texan parents. So devoted, in fact, that though they were living in Michigan at the time of her birth, they had a jar of dirt sent from home, took it to the hospital and put it under the bed so that she’d be born over Texan soil. True story.


Suffice it to say that I’m definitely missing home these days. So much so that I basically broke into tears when my mom sent these shirts for the girls.





And the glory of the Texas flag made me think about all of the other things I’ve been missing about home…mostly foods, apparently since I’m pregnant and the cravings are continuous. Like snow cones. Guys, I didn’t realize it, but they don’t do snow cones in the North. At least not in Ohio and not outside of the fair. Yeah, yeah, we’ve got Honey Hut here, but it’s just not the same as some stellar syrup covered shaved ice in the form of a Frosty Cone. Also people up here have no concept of flavors like Dill Pickle or Tiger’s Blood, which is a crying shame.


I don’t need to even mention the lack of Mexican food or fried okra. And “barbecue” here is all kinds of smothered in sauce. I’m genuinely excited that there’s a Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar restaurant coming here soon since they’ll have calf fries on the menu…not that I regularly consume calf fries, but it’s comforting to know the option’s out there.


And, gosh, I miss those never ending sunsets. I miss the smell of the wind on the prairie and the feeling of being so, so small under that gigantic sky.


Now, I don’t want to sound like I hate living in the North, at all. I do recognize the merit of other states…I’m not totally  biased. I truly love it here and wouldn’t trade our time here for anything…except maybe some tamales.


Seriously, I’d kill for real tamales right now.


So, what about you? Anyone else living far from home and missing it? What do you miss the most?

Seven Things: Part 10

She liiiives! She liiiives! I’m totally not comparing myself to Our Savior, however, recovering from being ill with two (also ill) little ones makes me feel like miracles have happened around here! Sorry we’ve been so quiet, but we are back…with a vengeance!


Okay, not really “with a vengeance,” but it’s Oscar season and I have a movie trailer voice in my head 24/7 this time of year.


So. Seven Things! Whip crack sound effect! (Did I mention I also have a foley artist in my head, too? That’s all year long, though…)


1.) Have you seen this movie? It’s my favorite.

What’s Up Doc, 1972; Barbara Streisand, Ryan O’neal, Directed by Peter Bogdanovich


Funniest. Movie. Ever. There’s no way to describe it, really…it’s only the most glorious screwball comedy ever. This film will make you have a crush on Ryan O’Neal, which isn’t hard to do in the first place.


It may also make your very conservative, non-movie loving husband laugh out loud and develop a crush on young Barbara Streisand. Be advised.


It also has hilarious appearances by Madeline Khan (ohmysweetgoodness, I love her so much) and Austin Pendleton, who may be my new Awkward Celebrity Crush.


2.) Mags and I made a Valentine garland out of an old book that was falling apart and I larve it.

I think the garland does a lovely job of accenting our avalanche’o’toys, don’t you?



3.) Lils is starting to pull up on things, specifically the things that are most likely to maim her and get me turned in to the authorities. You know, like the side of the crib or bathtub, or the zoo animal activity block. Nothing like the shriek of a child being impaled by a wooden giraffe to really accomplish that “Home Sweet Home” vibe. Sheesh.


Good thing she’s so cute…



4.) I get to go to a Violent Intruder Training at work on Valentine’s Day! This fits perfectly with our new-ish tradition of celebrating the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. I’m sure I’ll be amped up to watch a great mob movie with the hubz when I get home. Any suggestions of good ones? Mayhaps we’ll go old school this year and get some Jimmy Cagney?



5.) So, I like Instagram. You should follow me! I’m ohblessyourheart…original, I know. Here are some good ‘uns I’ve shared as of late.

Bahahaha…This is like the gift that keeps on giving since I’ll get to enjoy it all over again in ten years when she discovers it and freaks out…


Eatin’ some pancakes!





6.) My sweet Mama and my dear sister, Mara, are coming to visit soon!! I am so excited I can’t even handle it! If you are ever lucky enough to have a Southern mama, please make sure she’s the type who sends you Valentines even when you’ve got kids of your own. Even more importantly, make sure she’s the kind who makes Jalapeno Peach Jam and sends that to you. And then make sure you marry a guy who makes the best homemade bread of all time. Combine the two and, I’m telling you, you will not be sorry. I’d share a picture, but I ate it all.



7.) Best link of the week, hands down, goes to Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas. She wrote this beautiful post, “A Letter to My Former Self On the Day I Became a Mother” to celebrate her eldest turning four. Hold on to your tear ducts, mommies, cause this one is honest and wonderful and so, so good.

Much love to all!

-Mary Susan

The Greatest Gift

So, I don’t know if y’all know this, but my mother is just the most wonderful person ever. I will never understand how, when we live literally a country apart, she somehow knows exactly what I need. We are truly kindreds, my Mama and me.


She recently sent me this blog post just in time for the New Year. You really need to read the whole thing and then explore this amazing woman’s site and then get her app for your phone so you can count things you’re thankful for throughout your day and hopefully not use run-on sentences like I do but if you do, that’s totally cool and I’m so, so sorry if you’re reading this, Mrs. Fulcher.


Anyway, here’s an excerpt of my favorite part of the blog post. It’s after the author, Ann, tells of her daughter, Hope, and the dreadful agony of a botched, but recovered piano recital, something my Mama and I lived through on multiple stomach-lurching occasions. Hope’s adjudicator tells her:

“We are all going to botch it some days. We all sometimes get the notes wrong. But the song only goes wrong when we keep thinking back to the wrong notes.”

When a piece starts to fall apart — fall forward. Fall forward into the next bar. Moving forward is what makes music.”


I’ve been going back and forth a lot between falling apart and falling forward these last few weeks. And, after many conversations with my mother, I find myself falling back to the greatest gift my parents gave me.


I am the baby of the family, the third child of four siblings. This is possible because of the greatest gift. My brother is adopted. The sister closest to me in age was born via cesarean, I was natural, and the fourth to join us was my oldest sister, a student of my mother’s who had nowhere else to go. There has never been a doubt in my mind that we weren’t all meant to be together.


Growing up, our house was always full. There were times when a random classmate or two would stay with us for weeks at a time because their parents were away. Or times when my daddy’s friends would stay awhile while they transitioned from lost jobs, divorce, illness, life.


Our house was always a stopping place for the hurting, the lonely, the people who needed a respite from whatever it was that was hounding them. It was also a sharing place for the joyful, the place people went to spread good news and celebrate successes.


There was the Mexican carpenter who spoke no English but joined us for Thanksgiving and incidentally, brought the most gigantic pan of spaghetti I’ve ever seen, ’cause you know, Mexicans are known for their Italian food. And there were dear friends whose kids left town for the holidays. And there are the many, many students who just felt that my mom and dad “got” them.


Mom and Dad always fostered a community of people who were accepted regardless of where they had been or where they were going. They encouraged, they built up, they poured out. They loved, they loved, they loved.


And that is the greatest gift. The gift of understanding that we’re all falling apart. We’re all hurting. We’re all struggling. We’re all reaching for something. But if we create a community, a safe place of re-purposing and rebuilding, then together we can fall forward.


Just like in music, sometimes a rest is required. Sometimes you need to linger over the notes and let them fully ring out until that part of the song is finished. And then you can fall forward into scales and triplets and codas…and you can begin a new song.


I only hope that I can give so great a gift to my own children.

Mom and Dad on a well-deserved trip to Ireland.

Daddy with Lily in July.

Mama with Mags in Orlando. Nov. ’11


What about you?


What is the greatest gift your parents gave you?

Mommy Rodeo

I have two words for you: Mommy. Rodeo.


And one question: Why doesn’t this exist?


Seriously. Think of how awesome this would be.


-Event 1: Baby Wranglin’  In this event Mamas are required to bathe a baby -preferably one who has been specifically bred to kick violently, just like in bull ridin’- in a bathroom in which all of the bathing supplies have mysteriously been covered with Crisco and hidden. The baby will probably be rubbed down with Crisco, too, for good measure. After the baby is bathed, the Mama has to dry, lotion, diaper, and dress the little darling. 8 second time limit. Extra points if the baby pukes and has to have a new outfit.


-Event 2: Lunch Makin’  This one requires Moms to make Kraft Mac’n’Cheese while cleaning up spilled dog water and simultaneously singing to the baby who Will. Not. Stop. Crying. 10 minutes. Extra points if no lyrics get skipped because of the whining older sibling. Extra extra points if the song is “Call Me Maybe.”


-Event 3: Bedtime Routine  Mama has to nurse a wiggly baby while reading “Fancy Nancy” and getting a visual location on one or more loveys. No time limit, but extra points if it gets done before 9:30.


-Event 4: Showering  The challenge here lies in the fact that the mother has to realize in the middle of loading the dishwasher that, ack!, the kids are napping and this is the only opportunity she has to shower. She must then race to the shower, side-step the bath toys without slipping, and bathe her entire body. Time limit: as long as the young ‘uns will sleep…mwuahahaha! Extra points for even considering shaving her legs.


-Event 5: Nighttime Navigation  The object of this event is to successfully navigate a completely dark bedroom to get to a crying child in another room. Imagine Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment, but instead of dodging lasers you have to dodge piles of dirty laundry, toys with wheels, and the occasional dirty diaper all while avoiding the other sleeping inhabitants of the room. Time Limit: 8 seconds. Deductions for waking up bed fellows. Extra points for creatively whispered swear words.


-Event 6: Sunday Go to Meetin’  This is a team event involving both Moms and Dads. Duos are required to sleep through an alarm, wake up panicked and attempt to ready the family to attend church services. They must complete the following tasks withing the thirty minute time limit and in no particular order: burn toast, make coffee but not drink it, coax the toddler into appropriate church wear, locate matching shoes for the entire family, locate car keys, struggle with car seats, forget the diaper bag at home, forget to put snacks/toys in the diaper bag, apply makeup in the car. Extra points may be earned if the children’s hair requires brushing and/or braiding. Extra extra points may be earned if the father is able to resist his urge to shake the frazzled mother back into a semi-logical state. Even more points are available if the family makes it to church before the first hymn is finished.



Event 7: Potty Racin’  This is a good one, my personal favorite these days. In this event you have to take the two-year-old, who refuses to give any verbal cues, to the potty. The contestant must race the child into the house, pants them, perch them on the potty and pray to the Good Lord that they actually go. 2 minute time limit. Extra points awarded to Moms of children who go in their pants immediately after having the opportunity to go on the potty.


I could go on and on.


Other possible events are “Poo or Chocolate?” and “Blog Postin'” in which you must complete a blog post with a child sitting on your shoulders.


I think this could really take off.

Names My Mother Called Us

My mother is a lunatic. And I am just like her.


These are both facts that I’ve known for quite some time now. Since becoming a mother myself, I’ve found that these two facts have been reinforced to me over and over and over again.


Take, for example, the fact that I currently only have one child. I somehow still manage to call Maggie by the wrong name. When I was growing up – heck, even to this day – my mom couldn’t seem to get all of her kids straight. Aside from calling us by our siblings’ names, the pets names would sometimes slip in there, too.


In her defense, though, most of our pets did have human-like names, like Cassie (best cat on the planet), Annie (red-colored rescued dog…get it?), and Sophie (the Christmas kitten, which is a story for another blog). I’m not sure what it says about me that I sometimes refer to my child as, “Banjo”. Sheesh. I’m looking forward to Baby Lily getting here just so I have another human name to throw into the mix.


The other thing I’ve really noticed myself doing lately is using the same bizarre terms to describe or deal with my daughter’s bad behavior. I’ve also noticed people looking at me strangely when I use such terms. I’m telling you, these are weird things to call your child. However, in the heat of the moment, I’m sure they were preferable to the things that my mother would’ve preferred to call us. Like the time I used scissors to cut tiny holes in the arm of her new chair.


  • dog butt – Yes, I’m serious. You can ask any of her former students on this, too. Many an adolescent has been told to, “get in here, get to work, and stop being a dog butt,” by my mother.
  • dog breath – Along the same lines, but nowhere near as serious as being called the butt.
  • pill or pill pot – This is used for when your child is being, well, a pill. Or a brat, or whatever.
  • rat fink – This one is my favorite and the one I’ve been currently using on Mags. Any parent of a two or three-year-old would probably agree with me that, at times, their little darling is, indeed, a rat fink. It’s a fact of life; people just don’t know the proper terminology to describe it.
  • rat’s rear – This was more of a phrase, really. As in, “I don’t give a rat’s rear, get in there and practice the piano!” Can you tell she was constantly having to tell people to “get in here” or “get in there”?
  • While we’re on the subject of phrases, we were also threatened at times to be spanked “within an inch of our lives” (which never happened) or “smacked into the middle of next week” (which also never happened). Though we were spanked on occasion, my mother preferred more creative punishments, like having us pick up rocks and sticks from the yard or picking tomato worms off of plants in the garden, or driving for weeks on end to look at a billion antique stores in Oklahoma. I might be blurring the line between actual punishment and activities that merely felt like punishment, but who can really be sure?

I’m sure that, one day, my daughters will be having conversations about how insane I am and was when they were growing up. And, you know what? I’m not one bit sorry about that. After all, mama’s have to do something to release frustration and preserve what little remains of their sanity. And, for the record, I’d like to submit that I am proud to be carrying on such a fine lineage of weird name calling. I learned from the best.

Texas Trip Part 1: The Pharmacy

I am from Texas. Not only am I from Texas, but I am from Canadian, Texas, home to approximately two thousand people, give or take. Unbeknownst to an alarming number of people I’ve met, Canadian, Texas, doesn’t refer to a little-known province of that nice country up North. There’s a Canadian “river” in Texas and it is for that little stream that my hometown is named.


So we went to this loverly little hamlet for a few days since the hubz was on spring break and we hadn’t been there since July. Gosh, I love my hometown. Even more do I love my husband, whose idea it was to drive twenty something hours with an almost-two-year-old and a heavily pregnant woman to vacation in a town where you can’t buy beer. The man’s a saint.


When you’re from a small town and you’ve been away for a while there are lots of “sights” one simply must not miss when visiting. One of these attractions in Canadian is the Pharmacy. Now, some people might think that a pharmacy is just a place where one can go to get medications, flu shots, etc. People who think that have obviously never been to The Pharmacy in Canadian, Texas. It is so much more than just a pharmacy.


For example, would you expect newly-engaged gals to jet to the neighborhood CVS to start their bridal registries? I didn’t think so. However, if you live in Canadian, the Pharmacy is on every bride’s registry. Period. Chalk it up to the fact that, back in the day, the Pharmacy was the only place people could purchase fancy gifts without having to drive two hours to the Dillard’s at the Westgate Mall to pick out place settings. Nowadays, registering for wedding gifts at the Pharmacy is more of a deep-rooted tradition than necessity, what with the new-fangled internets and all. However, it’s also considered in good taste to register at a store that the ancient old ladies who will be attending your wedding shower (and who probably attended your mama’s shower, too) can get to without much fuss. Plus, we like to shop local.


The Pharmacy is not the only place in town where people register for weddings, I might add. When my brother got married, I distinctly remember tagging along on a registry-making trip around town which included such stops as The Peppermint Tree (another staple) and True Value. I am not lying about the last one. They have fudge there. And Yankee candles. I sincerely regret the fact that I didn’t just register for fudge when I got married.


When we got engaged, I’m sure my sweet husband was thrown for a bit of a loop that we were required to register at the Pharmacy, but he was a good sport and I, in turn, let him pick out some dishes with cowboy brands on them. T’was an early lesson in marital give and take.


The only problem with registering at the Pharmacy is that sometimes there are just so many people buying you gifts that they run out of things you’ve registered for. At that point, the sweet ladies who have worked at the Pharmacy for centuries call your mother and she goes in to pick out more stuff. This can be either really good or absolutely horrendous, depending on your mother. When all of those things run out, the sweet ladies take the liberty of finding a few more things that “go with” what you’ve already got. In our case, this explains the plethora of crystal bowls and platters we received as gifts. We literally use crystal all the time. I figure, we might as well use it since we have it. Also, it makes the Kraft Mac’n’Cheese look so classy!


Part of what we got for wedding gifts in C-town were a lot of gift certificates to the Pharmacy. That way we had the liberty of choosing exactly which crystal accessories we wanted to add to our growing collection. We kind of had a hard time finding enough things to purchase, to be honest. So much of a hard time that we bought my brother-in-law, Dan, a 12″ armadillo piggy bank. The armadillo was dressed like a sheriff. That was a real selling point.


Suffice it to say that we were greatly surprised when my mother produced a gift certificate from the Pharmacy when we arrived at the homestead last week. I mean, we worked really hard to use all of those up. Plus, let’s be honest. We’re one and a half kids and almost three years into this marriage. The last thing we’re expecting is to be doing the last of our wedding shopping. My assumption was that we had actually used the fifty bucks and just had the paper memento left over. I was dubious, to say the least.


After one of the Pharmacy ladies looked in her file – and by file I mean spiral bound notebook – she confirmed that, sure enough, we actually had fifty dollars at our disposal! Now, it was a hard decision to make between buying more crystal and hoping against hope that they had another one of those armadillo piggy banks. Lucky for us we were able to narrow down our selections to some real winners. We got a cowboy cookie cutter and a couple of boxes of ammunition, both obvious choices. And, since Granny was having a birthday party for Mags that night, we got the little cowgirl a stick horse that makes real horse sounds and, best of all, a 3-D clown fish kite! If that’s not fifty dollars well spent, I just don’t know what is. God bless the Pharmacy, that’s all I have to say.


Also, we went to the grocery store that day and got an Elmo pinata for the party…but that’s a story for another day, like tomorrow. Stay tuned!


Since meeting my husband few things have become more apparent than the fact that the North and South are really two different cultures. We’ve known each other for five years and have been married almost three and yet this continues to reveal itself on a fairly regular basis. I mean, you’d think we’d have covered all of that ground by now, but, alas, it seems that we really were brought up worlds apart. This is never more apparent than in regards to food and language.


One of the first times I visited my future in-laws someone brought up stuffed cabbage at the dinner table. When I said that I had never heard of such a thing (because who the heck would stuff a cabbage and what with??), Vin’s dad, who had said nary a word to me the entire time I’d been visiting, looked up at me with the face of a man who has just seen a small-scale alien invasion and practically shrieked, “Have you never been to a wedding reception?!?” (I later learned that it’s a staple here and is totally delicious. Sounds gross, but, oh my stars, is it yummy.)


Also, I recently found out that none of my in-laws have ever had cheese grits. This kind of makes my heart hurt. A lot. It will soon be remedied, though, so don’t you fret.


Since I grew up in Texas it is obvious that I was subject to the obligatory brainwashing that prevails in our state. And let’s have a moment of silence to consider the greatness thereof.




Many people in the North think that Texans are arrogant and overly cocky about their state. This is entirely true. However, you must admit that there’s something to be said for a state that garners such devotion. Especially when that state has as few trees and as many cows as Texas does. (Not all parts, I know, but I’m talking about the Panhandle here. If you can love the Texas panhandle, you’re a special breed. The kind of breed who thinks 100 mph gusts of wind makes for perfect track meet weather and driving 45 minutes to the Wal-Mart makes for a romantical date. You know who you are.)


Part of the Texas indoctrination that is taught in elementary schools across the Lone Star State is the lingo. A good Texan’s vocabulary will be peppered with weird sayings and odd expletives that make people from other states wonder what in the wide world of sports we’re talking about. (I have a personal belief that Texas is not the only Southern state to do this. I once had a roommate from Alabama who completely put me to shame in the lingo department. She was brought up right.)


What I have discovered since moving to the North Country is that in Texas nobody takes notice of these sayings in the least. At the most, these little Southernisms are considered cliché, overused and are a dime a dozen. But here, here people think they’re funny! People like them, have never heard them before, and are tickled to death (yes, that’s one) to learn them and quickly add them to their own vocabulary. At least this goes for my mother-in-law and maybe two of her friends, but I foresee it catching on…


I gave this little lesson on Southernisms to my mother-in-law partially to translate what I’m saying to her and also so that she can use them on the ghetto kids who attend the school at which she teaches art. Did I mention the woman’s a saint for teaching art in a Cleveland public school? She’s a total rock star. So, as you’re reading this list of definitions and uses please please please imagine her spouting these off to the thugs in her kindergarten classes. Amen and amen.


Ugly: Being or acting ugly has nothing to do with your looks. It’s all about attitude. I very frequently use this term when speaking to my daughter:

“Margaret Rose, we do not kick the puppy! That’s ugly!!”


Sweet: The opposite of being ugly; being nice.


Oh, bless your heart: This one is very common in the South and has multiple uses. It’s also my favorite. If you’re a sweet person and you hear about some calamity that has befallen one of your friends, or even a remotely known acquaintance who was a friend of a friend of your mama’s, you’d use this phrase to denote how you feel about their current situation. For example:


“Did you hear about Karlene Franklin’s cousin’s cat? Well, the poor thing got lupus and lost its hair and now Charlene – Karlene’s cousin – she loves that cat, you know – is gonna have to put it down!”

“Oh, bless her heart! I am so sorry to hear about that!”


This use of the expression is genuine and kind. Unlike the second use. The second way to use the phrase allows the speaker to say something ugly about another person in a very sweet sounding way:


“She is just the homeliest looking girl I have ever seen, bless her heart.”

“Those boys are just dumber than rocks, bless their hearts.”

“Well, bless her heart, she can’t help it that she’s a skank! Look at her mama!”


You get the picture.


Jesus, take the wheel: This is one that I picked up from that roommate from Alabama. It is the perfect expletive to use when you feel like you are absolutely going to lose it on someone or something. The best way to say this is with a zillion exclamation points after it and while looking up to the heavens imploring our God to intervene. It’s especially useful when your child has emptied an entire package of baby wipes and strewn them about her room when she was supposed to have been taking a nap. (Claaaassic Peg!)


Lordy be: I picked this one up from my sister-in-law, Becky. She’s brilliant in pretty much every way, Southernisms especially included. This can be used much like “Jesus, take the wheel” but it’s lots quicker and a bit more flexible in its use.


Dadgummit: Don’t quote me on the spelling of this. It’s phonetic. Or something. Use it when you’re trying not to cuss in front of a small child or elderly relative…or when you want people to look at you real funny after you stubbed the business out of your toe.


…in my heart where Jesus lives: I only use this one on very special occasions because I really can’t do it justice. Another one from the Alabaman roommate, who used to say this when she was very, very excited, which was about every five seconds.


“We’re going to Zaksby’s for dinner? That makes me so happy in my heart where Jesus lives!!!”


If you’re going to use this one, it’s best to employ the most ridiculous Southern accent you possibly can. “Heart” should sound like, “hart”; “Jesus” like “Jeeeezzzuuuhs”; and “lives” needs as many syllables as humanly possible. Just saying this once will make you happy in your heart where Jesus lives. I promise.


There are about a zillion other Southernisms out there, so feel free to add your own and remind me of the ones I’ve missed. These are just those which come up the most in my daily conversation and have made their way into the mouths of my Northern family. Now for those grits…