I had a horrible flashback a few minutes ago. Just looking at a video on Facebook made my heart hammer and my breathing quicken - and not in a good way. Nope.
My friend posted video of her son's class folk dancing.
Two words I despise. Two words that bring back a flood of horrible memories.
Sixth grade. Everyone in the sixth grade at Cedar Bluff Middle School went to Tremont. What is it? It was called [then] an Environmental Education Camp.
It was 1974. Learning about the environment had evolved from the realm of hippie child stuff to regular middle class suburban kid stuff.
Here's what I remember. The first day, we got off the bus, got something to eat, and went on a hike. Then we went back to the camp, ate a horrible dinner, and then went outside to folk dance in the parking lot.
We couldn't watch TV. There were no TVs there. ACK!
There were many things wrong with Tremont, to me. I didn't learn anything about the Environment. For me, a chubby unpopular kid, it was a NIGHTMARE.
I didn't belong to any cliques of popular girls. I didn't even figure in the orbit of the popular girls. The boys? Well, they either ignored me or barked at me.
I was So Not Cool.
First of all, I didn't have the right shampoo. Every girl who was cool used Clairol Herbal Essence or LemonUp, which had a plastic lemon for a cap. I think I had Prell.
Secondly, the forced marching hikes. In the mountains. Which were always covered in fog. [Hey, they aren't called the Smoky mountains for nothing.]
I didn't like to hike. In the rain and mud. Blindly following the child in front of me, who had better hiking boots and chewed the right bubble gum and had the right shampoo.
My "hiking boots" came from K-Mart. My dad was not going to spend big bucks on boots I would wear... once? Ever? Mine were beige plastic and looked like they were designed for a large doll. My feet hurt all.the.time.
I digressed. Even now, my feet hurt from the horrible memories..
I remember the folk dancing in the parking lot most of all, though, because it involved [HORROR OF HORRORS] boys touching me.
We had been practicing folk dancing in gym just so we could folk dance in the mountains. Just like our ancestors. Except I bet the ancestors didn't hate it.
To a bunch of 12-13 year olds, folk dancing is nightmarish. For me, it was nightmarish times infinity.
Boys didn't want to touch me. I was taller than most of them. I had boobs [scary!] and I was chubby dork. I wore dorky glasses.
My teachers that went with us, Ms. Carey and Mr. Gayle, were extremely ODD. That's putting it nicely. Ms. Carey had no lips, and had Very Bad Hair. Every day. She hated me. She liked to scream at any group of kids that included me. She looked like she had menstrual cramps, 365 days a year.
She screamed at me one day so much my dad had to go to the school the next morning and get ugly, but then, she left me alone. I think she didn't want Mr. Perry to get his ass kicked because I think that's what my dad had to threaten to do.
Mr. Gayle was.... well, a bit effeminate. He taught Social Studies. He liked to pull out his ukelele and sing songs. Right after lunch he liked to sing "I was eating white worms!/ Down by the riverside / Down by the riverside." Folk music with words rewritten by the Addams Family. He had a bad comb-over and he liked certain boys to sit up front, near him.
I actually never had any problems with Mr. Gayle. He made some of the boys uncomfortable though.
Anyway, I digressed...
back to Tremont and Folk Dancing.
I am going to have Flashback Nightmares tonight, I know it. Somewhere, in a box in the garage, I still have the journal I wrote while at Tremont.
It details the list of horrors: the hiking. the food. the FOLK DANCING.
I sincerely hope that other children are not tortured that way any more. I hope in 39 years [OMG it's been nearly FORTY YEARS!! ACK!] some progress has been made.
Now, I love nature. I think kids should be outside, in nature, all the time.Lord knows it's better for their brains than just looking at videogames and phones all the time.
I like to look at nature while sitting in a rocking chair on a screened-in porch, with a glass of sweet tea beside me. That's as close as I want to get.
To be fair, the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is a vastly different place than it was in 1974. Looks like it's actually a fun place, now. Of course, the fact that I am not an oversized, dorky, socially-awkward 12 year old makes a huge difference. I should have gone as a third grader, or a tenth grader. Adolescence is bad enough without the torture of Folk Dancing thrown it.
If you want to see a very cool video about Tremont check this out:
All cooks know what it feels like to slave over some new dish and then it doesn't come out right. Or you undercook it, or burn it. The trick is to make something with enough good ingredients that if you mess it up a little bit, it's still edible.
I just made a "casserole" [I hate that words but sometimes it's the only one that will do] and it weighs 375 lbs. I can barely lift it. Michael will have to put it in the oven.
However, my casserole has Jasmine rice, Tennessee Pride Hot Sausage, sharp cheddar cheese, and some other ingredients. It may not be something you'd find in Gourmet magazine, but it will be tasty.
If I don't burn it.
[Mom and Michael are very tolerant of the fact that when I am writing, dinner will likely be either late or... weird. Often a little burnt.]
I aim for failing in such a way that everyone can still eat. Here are some examples...
The other night I wasn't enthusiastic about dinner but I finally decided on... waffles. I found the old Joy of Cooking and used the classic waffle recipe in there. You mix up flour and egg yolks and milk and melted butter. You beat the egg whites and fold them in. They are heavenly. I remembered eating these waffles and falling into a happy stupor afterwards.
The waffle iron, which was new when I bought it for Mom about 10 years ago, either had never been used or been washed too thoroughly. I brushed some olive oil on it with a pastry brush and slapped some batter on there for the first waffle, what we call the Dog Waffle because that's who usually gets it.
The waffle iron was so unseasoned, I still haven't gotten it clean. Bummer. Mother told me later that Mamaw would've Crisco'd that thing half to death before pouring that rich and delicious batter on there.
Mamaw studied Home Economics at Bessie Tift College and nobody knew more about cooking. I wish I had not lost her so young [I was 14 when she had a massive stroke.]
It was after 8:30, though, and I didn't have time to dig out the Belgian waffle iron and start again. So I used the batter to make pancakes.
They were a little odd looking but very tasty.
I made borscht last week and completely forgot to put in potatoes. There were none whatsoever in there.
It was still tasty.
World's easiest and best Borscht: 1 pkg. shredded [coleslaw] cabbage; 1 red onion, diced - saute onion and cabbage 15 minutes in about 2 tablespoons butter and/or canola oil, plus salt and pepper to taste; put in crock pot; add 4-6 cups of beef broth or vegetable broth, juice of one lemon, 1 tsp. carraway seeds, 2-3 bay leaves; 2-3 cups chopped cooked potatoes, 2 cups shredded beets [I use canned]. Cook in crock pot on low 4-6 hours. / Serve with sour cream for a garnish. We had this for dinner. YUM.
I remember being a kid and getting so annoyed at my mother because she would be on the phone a lot. So one day I took a cake mix and decided to make a cake while she was on the phone, sitting in the kitchen. I put all the ingredients in a bowl and stirred and stirred. The batter looked REALLY weird. I added a little vanilla. Still looked weird. Tasted it. Awful.
Finally, I had to ask Mother what to do. She looked at the batter, and put the phone down long enough to say "Open the box, Dee, take out the plastic bag, and put the actual mix in there, then it will look and taste right."
I made a cake once and it was an epic fail. It was chocolate. I added almond flavoring, which is a requirement in our house for anything chocolate. I went right by the recipe. nope. Took it out of the oven and it was a mess.
I cried and cried. I was 12 year old and I had been cooking since I was 5.
My brother, about 15 years old, heard me crying and came in the kitchen and looked at the mess.
"I can help you get this cleaned up," he said. He grabbed a fork and just sat and ate the entire cake. I ate some of it. It tasted delicious, even though it looked horrible.
Wow, there's a life lesson there.... :-)
I will close with a photo I took today that is now my favorite Lola photo. It has nothing to do with cooking.
OK, I just need to vent here for a minute. I have hijacked Dee's mind and her hands in order to spread my message to the world and my message is this:
I am NOT Little Red Freakin' Riding HOOD!
I am a feline member of the household and I deserve RESPECT.
Am I to be dressed up like a doll? Am I to be forced to play a role in a small child's Theatre of the Absurd?
Do I appear to be HAPPY about this red thing I am wearing?!? Do you read "contented" in my expression?! No?
Well here's a suggestion. Next time your child tries to dress up her cat, STOP HER. In the name of all that is holy, yank the little doll dress or tiny drag queen wig-from-hell or the Santa hat or the cunning nightmare halloween costume OUT of her grubby little hand and talk to her about how wrong it is to assume a cat is anything other than a
Because really, that's what we are. In ancient Egypt cats were given great respect.
"Cats were held in such high esteem that at one point, the penalty for killing a cat-even accidentally-was death."
Did you hear that?
I SO want to go to Egypt on my next vacation.
I hear you can get really top quality catnip there at a good price.
Problem?! No, I don't have a problem. I can quit anytime I want. Anytime.
OK, yeah, whatever. Cape...again.
The kid bribed me. It only took one hit of catnip, and I went all boneless and spaced out and let her put the red cape on me.
Before you judge, put down the iPhone 5 and your $4 cup of coffee and get over yourself. I know about the tat on your left butt cheek. I know what's in your purse, Miss Thang.
Yeah, maybe I do have a problem. But I don't post drunk photos of myself on Facebook and put "In a Relationship" when really my only "relationship" is with my collection of Downton Abbey DVDs and a carton of New York Super Fudge Chunk.
Yeah, who really has the problem, hmmm...?!
No matter how much catnip I do, I am still.in.control!
There are certain things I love about the South, and one of them is our language. In the South we have our own way of saying things, and I reckon you won't ever hear some of these phrases below if you don't live in the South, a/k/a God's Country.
[What inspired me to think about this is a list of Southern Sayings in Business Insider. Seems like an odd story for a business magazine, but so be it.]
My dad liked to say "If that ain't good, grits ain't groceries." At some point when I was a child I said to him "But grits ARE groceries, Daddy," and he said "Exactly."
"Oh my land" / "Land sakes" - My Mamaw [grandmother] used to say this when something was particularly startling or interesting, as in "Land sakes, you ate all the bisquits! You are gonna get hog fat!" (In our world there's regular fat and there's Hog Fat.)
Mama likes to say "Big Rich." We have relatives who are rich, but they aren't Big Rich. To explain further, Warren Buffett and Donald Trump are Big Rich. Our rich relatives go to nice restaurants [ones without TVs] but they don't fly on private planes.
"He likes to live high on the hog." I think this comes from years ago when a hog would be killed in the autumn, and the better cuts of meat would go to the family but the feet, for instance, and innards, would go to the slaves or servants. However, my Mamaw grew up rich and yet she loved pickled pigs feet. [They were just regular rich, not Big Rich.]
Grandpa Hasty and his prize cow
I heard my dad say to me countless times when I was a kid "You better get down off that high horse. I won't have that." He meant I needed to quit being obstinate and uncooperative, or insisting on something unreasonable, like not sharing my cornbread.
Mama and Daddy also used to say "If you don't behave, I'm gonna make you go cut me a little switch." Cutting a switch which would then be used to switch your legs is a particular kind of torture. I bet they don't do that up north where trees freeze in the winter. Here, switches are available year round, unfortunately. So are sassy children...
Of course, there were phrases I had no idea were only heard in the south, until my daughter pointed them out to me. She learned English as a second language after I adopted her, and she pointed out that Mama and I both use "Fixin to" and "big 'ol" all the time.
"He's fixin' to go get a big 'ol piece of fried chicken off the buffet," would be an example. "Look at that big 'ol jerk trying to whip that buggy around and cut in line" would be another example. Up North they are "shopping carts." Here, they are buggies.
Of course, "y'all" could mean one person or a whole passel, but generally a group would be referred to as "all y'all."
I never heard this one until I moved to Tennessee: "That's about as useful as tits on a bull." Of course, my Mamaw would've washed my mouth out with soap if she'd heard me say "tits."
I don't think anyone else says "set" the way we do either, as in "Come on in and set a while."
Of course, I've written about the great Sweet Tea line. Up North, y'all want a restaurant patron to say if they want sweet or unsweet tea. Here in the south there is simply Sweet Tea and it is truly sweet. If you order un-sweet tea, folks might think you're peculiar, or "touched in the head." [There are other, more delicate ways to say "crazy" too, as in "his bisquits never got done, know what I mean?"]
these are the Butler sisters, my Mamaw standing on the far right in the dark dress, around 1920
I know I heard Daddy say "He's gonna be giving his heart to Jesus pretty soon" - as in, he will be scared out of his wits. How scared? "Only my washwoman knew how scared I was," was another saying of Dad's.
My mother has never uttered the word "wash" or "Chicago." When she says those words there is always an extra "R" - "warsh" and "Chicargo."
Well, I hope y'all enjoyed the lesson. Next time, set a spell and have a glass of sweet milk, or a drop of something stronger...
[and yes, there were a few things disturbingly familiar every time I watched The Beverly Hillbillies as a child.]
My uncle Don Hasty sent me these colorful southernisms [thanks!]:
His elevator didn’t go all the way to the top.
When they handed out brains, he stood behind the door.
When you get older, there are two days in every week..... Saturday and 1
Don’t tell Yankees how good it is down South. In no time, they’d all
be here and it would be too crowded.
There’s cokes down south, and pop up
Refined Yankees say “dinner” for the evening meal. Southerners say
You can’t fix stupid. (Ron White didn't come up with that on his own.)
I have never made a secret of the fact that I detest broccoli. I have even declared my home to be a broccoli free zone.
Smelling it cooking freaks me out, too.
However, I have sinus issues which impair my sense of smell, and so lately there are few smells that make it past the sinus barriers and reach my brain, sad to say. Most of them are bad smells.Many emanate from Coco. We now have a lot of scented candles in every room.
I have neighbors down the street, a young couple who just recently moved into their home, and they had twins last week, boy and a girl. I offered to make supper for them last night.
After I got up yesterday I put country fried steak in the crockpot with a concoction I call gravy, although it's more like white sauce. There's a lot of sherry, onions, beef broth, and soy sauce.
I then went to a play in Marietta, a local production of Guys and Dolls. I saw the movie years ago but I had never seen the play. It was fun. I am working on a review for The Edge.
Michael said he didn't want to go to the play. I suggested he work on his English project. When I got home and asked him if he had worked on the project he said "No!"
Ah, don'tcha just love teenagers?!
Anyway, I knew I was going to fix rice to go along with the country fried steak, and I had some fruit for a fruit salad, but I didn't know what to do about a veggie. I rooted around in the freezer and came up with a bag of frozen broccoli florets.
Michael and Mother like broccoli. So it was a win-win situation, I felt.
Since I don't like broccoli I never cook it. So I pondered how to fix it. I decided to cover it with cheese. That's how I first started eating asparagus.
So I made a basic white sauce [flour, butter milk] and added about a cup of Italian cheeses, and it was too thick. I added more milk. Still too thick. I added some Colby/Jack cheese. More milk. Still too thick. Finally I just said whatever and let it be. Michael was watching this process and eating cookies the entire time and I knew he was hungry, though he'd never admit it.
I like to take advantage of his hunger and put veggies in front of him.
Too, Michael has been eating cereal with milk in the morning so I didn't want to use up all the milk.
Finally, I took the food to my neighbors and admired the babies [who were sleeping]. I chatted a bit, then came home.
We had the exact same dinner.
It always takes Mother a few minutes to make the long trek from her room to our kitchen. I told Mother I had gotten a portion of broccoli and eaten part of it already. "Where IS it?!" Mother asked, peering at my plate.
"Under that weird white stuff that looks like mashed potatoes," Michael offered helpfully.
"What IS that?" Mother asked.
"It's cheese sauce. It just was a little too thick," I answered defensively.
I glared at Michael. He smiled. One of the few smiles I saw all day yesterday.
I don't have any earth-shattering news to report, so I thought I'd just throw in some odds & ends here and catch everyone up on what's been happening at the blue house this week.
I went into Michael's bathroom the other day and realized that there is some sort of clear coating on the toilet lid that's peeling in several places.. The lid stays up all the time, naturally, so I never look at the top it. He's supposed to keep it clean. So now I have to buy a new toilet seat. I asked him how long the odd peeling had been there and he just gave me the typical guy shrug, like "who cares?"
Then he was insulted when I asked if he could put a new toilet seat on there. Well, how would I know how complicated that is?!?
We were watching one of our favorite shows last night on History Channel, American Pickers. In the show two guys, Mike and Frank, drive all over the country "picking" [buying] antiques for their shop back in Iowa. They are always crawling around junky old barns and storage units and pulling out some old rusted sign or thing I would never in a million years think was worth anything, and then buying it for half what they can sell it for. I am always amazed because I have no clue about antiques of any kind.
So last night, I DREAM of Mike and Frank. They were just everywhere, hanging out with me. I didn't want that. I was annoyed. If I'm going to dream about guys, why can't I dream about somebody like this?! Hmmm?!
Oh my... is it warm in here!?! Jeffrey Dean Morgan I would sooooo like to see you in my dreams, baby...
I had to work this evening for a little will, a will signing with Kristy. I am a notary. When I left, the laundry was piled on the sofa, right next to Michael. I had been folding it when Kristy got there. It was all Michael's clothes. I figured he would finish folding it.
I come home 2 hours later and.... nothing has been folded. Nada. The laundry is sitting on the coffee table in neat piles, right in front of him, but he doesn't think to fold what's right beside him.
IS IT A GUY THING OR A TEENAGER THING?!?
Pictured about is my great grandmother, Beulah Phillips Butler. She had 12 children. When my mother was in high school she and Granny went to lunch one day at a tearoom in downtown Atlanta, I think the one in Rich's. A couple of handsome businessmen came in and sat down. Granny looked them over pretyt carefully. Young Elva [my mom] was shocked. "Granny, what are you looking at them for? You're too old to think about men!" [Granny's husband had been dead for years]
I love her reply: "I will never be so old that I don't enjoy looking at a good-looking man, Elva." Granny replied.
Yesterday, my mom got a phonecall. We still have a landline, unlike most folks.
This is a sort of transcript of the call. The caller was another lady. I made Mom tell me about the conversation because I think it's so funny:
Caller: How are you feeling today?
Elva: Well, pretty good, I guess. Can't complain.
Caller: You sound hoarse to me.
Elva: Well, I'm fine. Not hoarse. You got to remember I'm almost 80 years old. I prob'ly do sound peculiar..
Caller: YOU'RE NOT MY COUSIN GLADYS!!
Elva: Well, you're not my cousin Boots!
Caller: Where ARE you?!
Elva: I'm in Atlanta. Where are you?
Caller: I'm in Kershaw! [in a tone like everyone knows Kershaw, duh?!]
Elva: Kershaw where??
Caller: South Carolina, of course! How many Kershaws are out there?!
Elva: Well, I don't know. But you know, I've got relatives all over South Carolina.
Caller: Well I knew you were a good southern gal by the way you talked! Where do your relatives live?
Elva: I've got my brother's family in Myrtle Beach, cousins in Summerville, and my son lives in Columbia.
They went on to chat amiably for a while before hanging up. Mother said the lady told her she was 86 years old - so Mom is a whippersnapper in comparison!
After my dad died, Mom lived in Augusta by herself for 9 years. She said one day she picked up the phone and this voice said "What'cha fixing for supper?" and Mom said something like "I dunno, leftovers?" and the other lady said "YOU'RE NOT MY SISTER!" but they went on to chat for a while. Mom gave her the recipe for her wonderful meatloaf, over the phone.
My mom is the only person I know who can strike up a conversation with a total stranger on the phone, and have a nice visit.
I've never done that chat-with-a-wrong-number thing, but I can say with some pride, that I am great on the phone.
Tough day, and I needed to just laugh, so here's one for y'all:
Did I read that sign right? “TOILET OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW.”
In a Laundromat:
AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE
ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT.
In a London department store:
BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS...
In an office:
WOULD THE PERSON WHO TOOK THE STEP LADDER YESTERDAY PLEASE BRING IT BACK OR FURTHER STEPS WILL BE TAKEN.
In an office:
AFTER TEA BREAK, STAFF SHOULD EMPTY THE TEAPOT
AND STAND UPSIDE DOWN ON THE DRAINING BOARD.
Outside a secondhand shop:
WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING - BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC.
WHY NOT BRING YOUR WIFE ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?
Notice in health food shop window:
CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS...
Spotted in a safari park: (I sure hope so.)
ELEPHANTS, PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR.
Seen during a conference:
FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN'T
KNOW IT, THERE IS A DAY CARE ON THE 1ST FLOOR.
Notice in a farmer's field:
THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE
FIELD FOR FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES.
Message on a leaflet:
IF YOU CANNOT READ, THIS LEAFLET WILL TELL
YOU HOW TO GET LESSONS.
On a repair shop door:
WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON
THE DOOR - THE BELL DOESN'T WORK.)
Proofreading is a dying art, wouldn't you say?
Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife
one I caught in the SGV Tribune the other day and called the Editorial
Room and asked who wrote this. It took two or three readings before the
editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!!! They put in a
correction the next day.
Wow, what a busy day. I got very little sleep last night and so I was thinking I'd take a nap this afternoon but there was no time.Working from home ain't always what it's cracked up to be. Unless you count the fact I can wear PJs all day...
Busy's actually good, though. work = money. Yay.
You know what I do sometimes for fun?!?!
I giggle at reality TV show ads.
Ever wonder where they get the weirdos nutjobs loonies delightfully droll individuals you see on Jerry Springer or other "reality" TV shows? Wonder no more!
Now, so my blog won't get picked up all the wrong kind of search engines [cough cough] I have taken a certain word out and replaced it with the word "kitchen" it's a word that means, um, well.... I think you can figure it out. I replaced the word "f*t**" [guess that one too] with the word "sneeze"
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Through sharing your story, this program aims to promote understanding
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[my daughter drew the delightful fellow above when she first came home]