My World and Welcome to it…………..The parade before the fair

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  • 2014-03-09 11.27.58I began writing this post two months ago but several things got in the way of me finishing it. Anyone who has followed my work will know that I am not a fan of southern time except of course for now! I am only two months behind on finishing this post so based on southern time I am not behind I in fact am completing this post early so for the readers who are annoyed with me for waiting so long to post another post…………………… thank you.

In my world everyone looks forward to the Fair. I suppose that our fair might not be the best fair in the USA but it’s not the worst and that’s ok with us here in southern Georgia. Our fair is called The National Fair. It is really more of a state fair than a national fair but that name was already taken by a fair not as good and down the road a spell, Ours is better so if it wants to be called a national fair that’ too is OK with the people in my world.

Almost everyone in my world has fond fun memories of the fair. We just had our fair 2 weeks or so ago give or take several weeks. It was another good fair. Before every fair two or three people in my world will get together and swap memories. I hope most who are reading this post have read at least my last post where I shared a secret about story tellers. In that post I pointed out that most story tellers don’t pay much attention to whatever story is being shared  because they are far too interested in the stories they are about to tell. I am one of those story tellers but I am always willing to listen to a good story that I might even hear a little of.

Most good fairs have parades. The parade I remember best is the one where my youngest daughter stumbled in to and through cow or horse droppings (we never took the time to determine which it was). The Yankee in me brings out a quicker walk than most people walk especially in the south. I walk fast even when I am walking with small children though I do try to slow it down some, but when I do I can never slow it down for very long. My mother-in-law had joined us for the parade and surprisingly enough was actually helping us out with the kids.

The parade that I remember had almost ended and I wanted to get to my car as quickly as I could to avoid as much of the traffic jam as possible. I picked up my youngest son and took the hand of my oldest daughter and began to walk a big bit quicker than most anyone else on the parade route. My wife saw that glint in my eye and took the hand of my oldest son moving a little slower which is understandable since I walk kind of like I drive. (After a lot of years of living in California where the only way to get around is by doing it fast looking for and moving into whatever pocket of space one can find. Quite frankly I am very good at this, my wife is almost as good but in the south no one really understands the benefit or even the purpose in this. My mother-in–law had and still has even after 32 years a major challenge understanding anything I did,do or say but I digress.)

When I began to walk away my mother-in-law noticed it and with a look of terror in her eyes, (or I assume that she did since she always looks that way when she tries to follow me.} grabbed my youngest daughter’s arm and more or less pulled her after us. In her haste to catch up to us, she kind of pulled my daughter through the biggest pile of excrement that any cow or horse had ever left on a city street. (I write it this way so as not to offend the older readers since younger readers have a much shorter word meaning human/animal waste material than the one I use here.)

To be sure I did not see the actual clash of the little girl’s legs with the mountain of manure but I did hear the twin siren like wails of a little girl and a little bit older than middle aged lady along with an odor that wilted the flower pattern on my wife’s skirt. The stink was so overwhelming that it made me wonder what on earth those animals were fed at the fair. At that moment I would have given anything for an onion to peel right beneath my nose. I swear to this day that my sense of smell is still affected by the odor that wrapped around my daughter that day. As the wall of stink hit my sense of smell my fast feet came to a crashing halt. I was at a loss as to what to do quite frankly.

In the seconds that I stood not knowing what to do the odor caused my glasses to steam up and my eyes to water uncontrollably. Just as the situation had grown impossible my mother-in-law took charge and not a moment too soon. She had noticed that the only business open was a beauty salon. Like General Sherman she marched our band of seven to the salon. Our source of odor had two of us on either side of her, two of us in front of her and one of us behind her all of us marching in a sort of staccato beat trying desperately to get some relief from our little stinky cheese girl.

For the male readers who have somehow escaped the twenty-first century a beauty salon is full of noxious odors. For the most part any additional bad odor would be immediately swallowed up as soon as it enters the salon, even the odor of a week old dead possum would seem like a whiff of perfume if it was thrown into the salon, but when our band entered the salon the eight women having their hair done pulled their heads out of the sinks and out from under the hair dryers and made a collective sound that as near as I remember was much like “gaack” and to a woman they sunk to the floor. Meanwhile the six beauticians all attempted to take a breath and said, “What on earth.”

The manager showing the bravery of Robert E. Lee with tears rolling uncontrollably down her face met my mother in law and squeaked out, “Can I help you?” My Mother-in-law while breathing through her mouth said, “My granddaughter stepped into some parade poop, we need to use your restroom…….NOW!” The manager still with tears rolling down her face and with an amazing amount of bravery squeaked, “Not a chance, you go there and we will never get the odor out of the salon. Just having you in here for a few minutes is a memory none of us will ever forget. Here is a case of disinfectant wipes, now get out…………………oh and have a nice day.”

My mother-in-law and I have only liked each other for the most part for the last 5 years of the past 33 years, but I will never forget the kindness she showed in using every last wipe to clean up my darling daughter. She even used several wipes to dig out the inch or so of horse/cow ca ca between each toe. Of course she didn’t have a lot of options since I had climbed half way up the nearest sign post near the salon until she was finished. (I might be a coward but I ain’t stupid). My daughter was good natured about her experiences, at least she was several years after it happened but before that she cried a lot.

The good news was that when we finally got in to the car two hours after the parade there wasn’t any traffic jam to speak of. Even with my daughter being odor wiped the odor was still pretty bad which explained why those who sat near the windows of the car had as much of their heads out of the window as possible. The most amazing thing to me about our ride home was that if you scrunch your head just so it is indeed possible to drive with your head out of the window.

I am sure that there are plenty of stories about parades told and written by others but I can never seem to remember any.

My World and Welcome to it…………………………………………..Festivals

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Dear DaysMost everyone knows how Georgians love their football. Football games are events, festivals if you will. It is difficult to say how many people at the games actually know the score or even who wins the game but there are always side shows to watch. For example the restroom races and the concession stand dash occurs all through the games. Football Games are such a part of my world that it will be addressed in a later post but not right now.

The thing is that as much as Georgia’s love affair with football is common knowledge their fondness for festivals is less well known. Georgians love their festivals so much that they are always creating new ones. Here is a sampling of just a few of Georgia’s festivals:  There are insect festivals like a gnat festival (I am not making this up) and a mosquito festival. There are animal festivals like Donkey Days, Deer Days, and Turkey Days. There are flower festivals like the Camilla Festival, Cherry Blossom Festival and the Crepe Myrtle Festival.  There are fruit festivals like the Watermelon Festival, the Strawberry and Peach Festival. There are food festivals like the Chicken Pot Pie Day and the Big Pig Jig.  There are weather related festivals like Beaver Creek Day (a celebration of a town surviving a flood 23 years earlier).There are music festivals like the Mossy Creek Music Festival and Civil War reenactments. There are a lot more festivals going on throughout the year but these are just the ones that come to mind off the top of my head.

To the relief of my readers I won’t be addressing most of these festivals but if there is one that I do not address message me. Even if I don’t know much about I will make up what I don’t know. It should make a pretty good story.

In Georgia when you talk about festivals you have to talk about family reunions. Family reunions are a lot like festivals in that they are annual events and can last up to four days. Some families are so large that cousins can know each other for years and not know that they are related until they meet in the community one day and discover that they are cousins only after they talk about a family reunion that they both attended some 4 months earlier. I won’t do more than just touch briefly on family chalk (Kaolin) eating festivals that more than just a few families participate in. I became aware of these festivals 3 months after we had moved to Georgia. We had just had our first visit with our new family doctor when he asked us if we ate chalk. SAY WHAT? He kindly very slowly said, “I only ask you this because if you do eat chalk it thins your blood.” I found out later that eating chalk won’t make you high it just makes you feel real fine and when you are feeling that fine  all ya wanna do is just sit around doin nothing.

20141018_123952 A festival that is memorable to say the least is “The Big Pig Jig”. This is a three day barbecue contest with usually about 50 beer drinking barbecue cooking larger than life good ol boys barbecuing away. Unfortunately the only people who get to taste the barbecue are the good ol boys and the staggering judges who taste the barbecue between beers. The beer trucks travel in and out of the 2 acre site for all three days as quickly as cars going through a fast food drive in. Red necks and good ol boys are everywhere at this festival. This is the ultimate way to see the underbelly of the human condition. At The Big Pig Jig there is the highest amount of testosterone in the smallest space of anywhere in Georgia and we are just talkin about the women!

A festival that drips gratitude for all the people who came together to rebuild a town that was devastated by a flood some 23 years earlier is The Beaver Creek Festival. The way they do this is to send hundreds of plastic ducks 500 yards down a creek named after a large rodent. Most of the ducks are bought for $5.00 each by anyone or most everyone who comes to the Beaver Creek Day.

In our part of the USA the Civil War commonly called the illegal uprising forced on the south by the evil Yankees from up north is still being fought, at least by some. When the unfairness of it all becomes too much for the genteel folks down here they can always come to Andersonville for a Civil War Reenactment where the brave armies of the south almost always beat them da*** treacherous Yankees from the north. Before the battles one can walk around town drinking sweet tea and eatin gator on a stick, drink cokes from metal schooners (authentic like) see a western gun fight which is about 2,000 miles east of where these things usually occur. Just for the record the South’s gonna rise again.

Not far from where I live is a blue grass festival that I have gone to for the last two years. I keep hopin to hear blue grass music. I have heard a lot of good guitar pickin, dulcimer and auto harp playin, even some flute and celtic harp playin but no blue grass. There is glass blowin, quilt makin, corn husk furniture makin, and fishin lure makin but no blue grass playin……………….sigh

There are other festivals worth stopin by some I have even gone to. There are a few that there just ain’t no way I will ever be found at, like the dadgum gnat festival or the Mosquito festival. As I think about it I don’t think that there is a Cockroach Festival…………………………….hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. If we had a Roach Stomp at night, maybe a cockroach costume contest, possibly even a cockroach callin contest. Well so that’s how these festivals get started………………………………wow.

Mossy Creek 1

My World and Welcome to it……………………..Youneek Fire Ants……THIS IS NOT A DRILL Part II

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Close Encounters With The Worst Kind

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When this story really began we were busy lying I mean reminiscing while he was preparing the grill. He almost had the fire just right but asked me to go get some more wood from the wood pile. He either forgot to warn me or assumed I knew to be careful of fire ants in the wood pile. I had never heard much less seen ants of any kind in a wood pile. He chose that moment to tell a particularly funny story. I half looked at the logs I was picking up. I quickly brought six logs that I was cradling in my bare arms to my friend. I set the logs down near the grill just when the story got to it’s funniest when I felt what can only be described as every inch of my arms were tickling.

I looked down desperately trying to find the source of my discomfort. My skin is not pale white but it is not then or now red but when I looked down at my arms, they were very red. I looked closer and my arms were alive……I was at a loss at what was happening but suddenly when I should have been laughing the feeling in my arms turned from ticklish to being on fire. I had come in contact with “Fire Ants.” The good ol boy was absolutely right I would never forget my close encounter with the worst kind.

My friend is very much like me when it comes to telling a story. He pretty much is unconscious of what his audience is experiencing especially when they are on fire. I am told that I did not cuss ( though I desperately wanted to but with women and children who could cuss better than me I did not want to embarrass myself) instead I began to run in circles trying to get the “Fire Ants” off of my arms saying over and over again, “I really think I have a problem.” My friend’s 8 year old son said, “Hey look Dad, he’s got “Fire Ants” on his arms.” Ya think? I have never in my life felt anything like the pain I felt at that moment. This was not a time for anyone no matter how young they were, to state the obvious. At the moment my attention was focused elsewhere. I was seeing red. Shoot, I was on fire.

Looking back I am amazed when I think about how the fire ants did it. Hundreds of ants climbed off the logs that I was carrying on to my arms. They waited until as many as could fit on arms arrived before a chemical signal was given and they all stung/bit me at once. Theoretically and on paper it is an interesting concept but experiencing it is another story. I was able to get the “Fire Ants” off of my arms more quickly than I would have thought possible due to my extreme panic I suppose, thank goodness. Almost as soon as I got the “Fire Ants off of my arms huge blisters formed on to put it bluntly arms that were probably not my best feature to begin with and after the “Fire Ant Attack became my worst feature. On top of that I was still on fire. My friend’s wife had me put vinegar on it which helped for some reason and made me smell like a cucumber it eased the pain though…………some. To make things worse I felt hot and cold and sick to my stomach.

I was glad that Sunday was the next day because it gave me a day to heal. This helped but not much. I teach students who have profound mental challenges. One of the best things about my students is that they say what they think. I came to work in a short sleeve shirt since long sleeves stuck to my arms. As my students got off of the bus one of the students took one look at me and said, “Mr. Ewing, I don’t mean to be rude but your arms are ugly and I can’t look at you with your arms so ugly please cover them up. She began to cry. I quickly borrowed a long sleeve shirt from the football coach (why he had one I will never know since he always wore a t-shirt and shorts). I was to have to wear a long sleeve shirt for a month until I completely healed. I did obviously lose this battle but I have never lost another one quite like that. I regularly get bit/stung by ants of all kinds including “fire Ants” not often but sometimes. When I do it doesn’t do anything other than to strengthen my resolve to win this war, a war that can only be called “The War of the Ants in my World.”

The thing is after my encounter with the worst kind I do not hate ants especially “Fire Ants”. In fact I greatly admire them. One could say that I even respect them and approach any “Fire Ant” with caution. I am however at full and complete WAR with them. I now know of their cunning and deviousness. I know that they are ever watchful ever careful always on the lookout. I might be called paranoid but I have seen their ANTics. I have been ANTagonized by them. They may not be giANTs but they are large in their ANTicipation of every any enemy’s moves. I have seen how these ANTs are everywhere. There are lots and lots of uncles and ANTS with lots and lots of dependANTs. Their military tactics are anything but ANTiquated. Oh I have had my victories I guess and they have been sweet but there are always a few left who are quiet defiant. They will never accept defeat and become compliANT. It is time for me to stop this rANT before it becomes redundant.

Next Football and Fairs in My World

My World and Welcome to it………………………….Youneek………..FIRE ANTS THIS IS NOT A DRILL

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Ant Colony 1

Not to repeat myself but ants truly are unique. Each ant has a specific job to do and each one does it. As far as I can tell each ant does their job as best as they can do it, never arguing with other ants, never complaining always doing their job.

Well most of the time they don’t complain although I remember one time after I had drunk 6 straight large Mochas I had just taken the top off an ant colony to apply chemical warfare. I was watching all of the ants hurrying and scurrying about. I saw the ant EMTs and ant law enforcement checking for external danger. I saw the ant engineers and architects assessing the damage. I saw the ant carpenters and road crews already moving earth about to repair the damage. I saw the preschool teachers/hospital workers moving ant eggs about and then I also saw one lone ant whom I assume was trying to talk on his cell phone but was in dead zone.

I got down on my hands and knees and snuck up on the ant which wasn’t that easy seein as how shaky I was from all those mochas. Just as I was about to squeeze him I heard him say or at least I think that I heard him say to no one in particular “Just when I didn’t think my day could get any worse a big monster has to show up to murder me, what else can happen to me today?” I looked around and didn’t see any other ant or anyone else (he had to be on a cell phone, what else could it be?). Of course by this time my eyes were having difficulty focusing as there seemed to be something wrong with my vertical hold. It was all I could do to hang on to my 7th mocha but I digress.

For those who are not familiar with fire ants the best way to describe them is just as in the insect world where gnats are the air force, ants are the army, and fire ants are the commandos/ green berets all wrapped up in one. They are the best organized, best lead most disciplined army in the insect and animal kingdom. If they were human size they would be a formidable opponent of any military, especially since they have chemical weapons and are not afraid to use them.

When I first arrived in Georgia people kept asking me if I had been around fire ants yet. I figured that it had to be some sort of trick question. To be fair over the years I have had a fair number of these questions asked and a fair number of tricks played on me for whatever reason. To list just a few: I have been on snipe hunts (late at night), jackalope trapping (they had to be real I saw a sort of rabbit head with antlers on two or three of my friends’ walls) and grunion fishin which surprisingly enough turned out to be real but for the most part is just an excuse for drunks to roll around on a beach after midnight giggling like crazy. In addition I have been given a really hot pepper and told that it was a pickle, given anchovy juice and told it was lemon lime soda so after a lot of gullible moments I take great pride in being very cautious. I was even more suspicious of the so called “Fire ants” when I considered that Georgia seems to has a great fondness for red food coloring. It can be found in red velvet cake, hot dogs and pickled pigs feet. For me it made sense that fire ants had to be like red ants. They had to be a joke. I was to find out how terribly unfunny fire ants could be.

One of the last times I was asked by one of three old fellas if I had met any fire ants I said, “No but I just bought some red hot candy.” The man that asked me turned to the other two and asked “What did he just say? I swear if I didn’t know any better I’d say that boy’s a Yankee.” The third old guy pointed a finger at me and said, “Boy when you meet them fire ants you aint never gonna forget em. You be careful of em or you just might not be able sit for a very long time. Once again everyone laughed. I had become just more than a little annoyed at being laughed at. Looking back I realize now that these good ol boys were making fun of me and warning me at the same time. I wish that I had taken their warning seriously.

To this day I am still not sure if my buddy from childhood, my best man who I thought so highly of, to the man who convinced me to move my world to Georgia set me up for what was to be one of THE MOST PAINFUL EXPERIENCE of my life or if he just assumed that I had already met fire ants before I came to his house for a barbecue.

It was 4 months since we had moved to Georgia, a typical October Saturday. It was not terribly warm only in the mid-80s so was a perfect day for a barbecue. I was old even back then. When 2 old boys get together they tell stories (kinda like this). Most of them began with “Do you remember” and then you make up the rest. Of course we always said, “Oh ya that was a great memory but do you remember ………….” and then it was another turn at lyin but it was and is great fun. To be truthful I think I might have lied a lot more than he did that day but it’s impossible for me to know since I remember very little of what he remembers.

A brief caveat here: Some guys get together and open adult beverages to help with the ambiance. As I think about it I wish that I had as it would have helped ease what I was to experience shortly after this story began.

End Of Part 1                               Next Part II Fire Ants This is Not a Drill.

My World and Welcome to it…………………………………..Yuneek………….Ants Oh Man the Ants

20140923_161455As I think about all that is unique in my world it occurs to me that just because something is unique does not mean that I have to like it. Take ants for example. Ants are an amazingly interesting and unique insect. They are found in every continent on earth except antarctica. There are about 22,000 species of ants and somehow most of those species can be found in my yard. An ant can live up to 30 years but not within a mile of me. Ants can have huge colonies but not in my world.

To say I am not a fan of ants is like saying that sometimes it gets a little hot in Georgia. It’s not that I dislike ants………………..oh it’s way more than that. It’s war. To the ant lovers who may be reading this post I have just one thing to say…………..They started it.

*** Caveat  I interrupt this fine story to post the following disclaimer: For those of you who know me know that one of my 15 careers was as a pest controller. Any who have read my work would know that I have written about gnats and cockroaches in a not too positive way. Some readers may have read my story about learning to dance from a cockroach by reading my account in a fondly remembered writing group called Gather and an outstanding book written by Pam Brittain. To a degree I do but since I am allergic to pain of any kind or for that matter excess itching I am in fact prejudiced against many insects but not all (I really do like butterflies and bees). To be fair I am also prejudiced against some plants (like poison ivy, oak, stinging nettles and any vine that has thorns and grows over 20 feet). Now back to the post that was so rudely interrupted.

I haven’t always been at war with ants. When I was small I had an ant farm for a little while until I accidently tilted it to where they all made a clean escape. As far as I could see they headed towards my parents’ bedroom then made a bee line to their bed where my father was taking a nap. When I saw the line of ants leaving my room it looked kind of like they were heading towards my parents’ room but I wasn’t altogether sure. I became certain of it when my dad who was wearing just his tidy whities ran out of his room with his arms flailing around trying to reach his back,brushing his arms and legs with his undershirt. While doing all that he was also jumping up and down like he was on a trampoline and then rolling on the floor while yelling what sounded like abs, ans, ants or something. My Dad had just gotten after me for my room being a pigsty or something at least I think that was what he was getting after me for but I rarely listened. The thing was those were my ants so my sympathy was with the ants.

If you read Pam Brittain’s book you would read about how a cockroach taught me to dance. I wrote how that until the roach made laps in my pants I was unable to dance even a few steps and that how I drove 1 choreographer to tears and another to drugs when they attempted to teach me to dance………………….well I have a confession to make, in that story I lied. I had in fact danced once before a long while earlier and I did really well though I would not think of it as dancing for some years to come. What I did wasn’t really dancing anyways, it was more of a partial strip tease. It happened on the day I had ants in my pants.

As a pest controller I always felt like somewhat of a hero. I could take care of problems that would make a grown man scream and a grown woman climb chairs. The day I had ants in my pants was a day I felt particularly heroic. I arrived at a house of a beautiful young newlywed. She and her husband had ant problems and it had been going on for over 5 weeks. The problem was that even after 3 pest controllers they couldn’t find the nest. I was pretty good at that sort of thing, a little too good.  I located the colony with out a lot of effort, even without knowing that I had. I not only found the colony I was in fact standing on top of it. I was had in effect become the ants new tower. Unknown to me as soon as I had planted my feet on top of the colony ants from all over entered my pant legs for whatever reason. By the time I understood the situation the part of me that will remain unmentioned was under attack…………..in a big way. I knew that I had to make a major change…………. soon.

I was there to do a job even when I was under attack. As soon as I did it I ran to my truck but the attack had become very personal by this time. There was no time to lose, my pants simply had to go. I tried to run to my truck. My truck unfortunately was parked in front of the house in a very busy neighborhood. If there had been just a few less ants I might have been able to avoid my dance and make it to the cab of the truck where I could remove my pants discreetly but the attack had grown more vicious and more intense. I had run out of time before I could get to the truck.

My dance was more of a partial strip tease than an actual dance. I did not waste time doing any of my actions in tempo or even rhythmically. What I did was to unbuckle my belt, unsnap and unzip my pants in a matter of seconds. In another second my pants were off and I was beating them against a tree with the fervor of someone at the edge of panic. As I was beating my pants I was jumping up and down (somewhat like my dad did all those years ago) and crying aiiieee over and over again. Crying aiiee was a strange since I didn’t know what aiiee meant and had never even heard that sound before. At risk of seeming immodest I can say that my dancing may not have been much but I sure could scream aiiee really well.

When I finally settled down enough to think clearly I examined my pants for any stragglers, finding none I put them back on gathering what was left of my pride (though there wasn’t much left). As I did so I distinctly could hear sounds of laughter from more than one direction. I looked back at the Ant colony and thought ANTS THIS MEANS WAR!

Up next FIRE ANTS THIS IS NOT A DRILL

My World and Welcome to it…………………………………..Yuneek plants and snakes

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20140318_165321The first posts on my blog focused entirely on where my world is but this post and others to follow are about some of what goes on in my world. Too often we spend our time focusing on our work a day, school a day world to a point where we miss the unique experiences happening all around us, we fail to see the unique animals and people who cross our paths every single day. We even trample some very unique plants under our feet missing the parts of life that  truly makes life worth living. As a writer and world observer I have had the privilege of meeting some pretty unique people and animals while having some unique experiences over the last several years and I hope continue to have those privileges for years to come. For the next three or more posts I want to share some of the most unique experiences, people and animals in my memory (not necessarily in time order).

The title of this post has the word Yuneek in it. There is so much in our world that is unique all we have to do is open our eyes to it. Even spelling words differently like Yuneek is in itself a measure of creativity except of course in public, private pre-k through 12th grade schools, colleges and most forms of literature. A few poets like e.e. cumming have made a career out of creative spelling and punctuation but that has not happened often, not often enough in my opinion.I wood reely likee to write a boook come pletely with creatively spelled worrds inn itt but who wud reed itt? Who cood?  I believe that creative spelling is a sign of a brilliant mind. It must be I spell creatively a lot and I am brilliant, at least I think that I am. Being unique should be something we all strive for. It should be a badge of courage, of enlightenment even but it’s not such positive thing any more…………………………sigh. it is for me though.

The photo at the beginning of this post is that of a common ordinary weed, a dandelion. This is a plant that some wage war against when it is found in their yard (well maybe not in Georgia but in a lot of other places). Some use it to make wine though I can not imagine why (this is not unique it borders on redneck), but few would ever call it pretty, yet when I placed that dandelion bloom in the center of a log partially ax chopped, it became the belle of the ball.This is a weed that most certainly should be called unique.

Snakes are unique as far as I am concerned. One might even say they are fascinating. When  was a child I would be drawn to snakes at reptile houses at zoos. My fascination with snakes came to an abrupt end when 20 or so years later I was doing pest control and almost jumped into a utility area that had several rat snakes swirling in and around the utilities. I probably should have called a pest control man, one who had at least a bat in his truck…………. the kind baseball is played with that is.

A few years ago after some weeks of my children playing practical jokes on their old Dad for reasons I will get into in another post. I found myself being extra careful everywhere I went.  I was gazing out over my  large front yard and saw what I thought was a 3 foot long rubber snake. I had to take care of it as quickly as I could to keep one of the girls from screaming and all 8 of the dogs from howling. The dogs and one of my daughters needed very little incentive to scream and howl. For 5 days or so I had a steady diet of both. To prevent this from happening by a carefully placed rubber snake I  walked out to it with the purpose of getting rid of the toy. I am not sure to this day why I picked the “rubber snake” up and swung it around above my head like half a lasso but I did. For a minute or so it was a lot of fun. I will admit that I am easily amused but still swinging that snake somewhat like I was doing a hammer throw was kind of relaxing. It was that is until I saw the head of the snake open and shut it’s mouth several times. I am not sure exactly when the dogs began to howl or who screamed. I am not even sure how high that snake went when I released it. I only know for sure that if there was an Olympic snake hurling event  I would have earned a gold medal. (PETA members who might be reading this, please forgive me.I just didn’t know.) Do snakes bounce? This snake was truly unique. I have always heard that snakes can blend in with their surroundings but to look like a rubber snake is truly remarkable.

A friend of mine a high school football coach shared with me this account about snakes. I know it must be true because he doesn’t lie more than 5 or 6 times a day, besides that he goes to church most Sundays so that’s something. We live near the Flint River which is famous for it’s brown green water (impossible to see what is eating your toes should you choose to swim in it), it’s world class bass fishing, it’s alligators and it’s water moccasins, though outside of Central Georgia not so many know about the later two.

Coach or as the say in Georgia Coa had invited his father in law, two teachers (but not me) and two old men to fish with him on his new boat. They had been fishin for a good long while and had only caught one bass worth keeping. Finally after being skunked for so long and being out of beer they decided to motor down river a bit. After a while they saw what appeared to be an island but might have been a pile of garbage. As they got closer they found it was indeed an island.

One of the old guys who had been complaining more than just a little suggested that they pull up to the island let him and his folding chair get off the boat and onto the island to fish for an hour or two. The rest of the fishing party completely agreed as his whining had gotten so bad that they all considered trolling for a spell and using him as bait. Very quickly he got his chair out of the boat, set up and his fishing pole out. He was sure that this was going to be a fishin experience of his life. He was not going to be wrong but not because of the fish that he caught. He had just settled in on his chair and had his line in the water when he began to look around. He looked left and was impressed by the beauty of the Flint. The problem occurred when he looked right. When he looked right he saw that just 3 or 4 feet away from him were 6 of the largest water moccasins, he had ever seen or anyone else on the boat had ever seen for that matter.  As he gazed in horror the snakes suddenly becoming active and with a delighted look on their snake faces. As they looked at him they saw a new addition to their food supply. They must have thought, “Oh good food from heaven and it’s a buffet lunch for everyone.” Coach said, “As God is my witness, the old man and the chair jumped from where he was on the island to the same spot his chair was in on the boat not 8 minutes earlier. Not only that but the old man seemed to forget how to speak since he didn’t say another word until we got back to the boat loading zone  some 2 hours later, plus within 5 minutes after the old man reentered the boat  the bass really began to bite. Funny thing is when those bass started to bite the fishing was as good as I have ever known.” I said,  “Look this is a great story but it’s the biggest whopper I have ever heard. I know that I am a yankee but come on………….” He said,”If I’m lyin I’m dyin.”  It must be a true story since there are only three things he won’t lie about unless he absolutely has to, football of course, fishin and huntin. Now this fishin story is a unique one as are the fishermen that remember it though most fishermen and women are unique in their own right.

The thing is what is unique is totally subjective. For us to see the uniqueness in something depends upon our outlook. There is uniqueness even in communication. For example the other day I was asked if I knew the time. I replied yep and continued walking. Now he might have thought that I was rude by my response but I really think that what I said was actually unique. Just as my response is when I am asked what my watch says and I respond, “Nothing my watch doesn’t talk.”  These are two examples of unique comments though probably not the best ones to make to people I want to be friends with.

* This post would have been published hours ago except that am still trying to understand Word Press and hit a button that completely deleted my post, granted that the deletion was unique (I hope) but it did cause me to sing a very unique song some of which might even be OK for children to hear. Please forgive me for taking so long.

My World and Welcome to it…………………………………Georgia Time

Southern timeIn my first post of my blog “My World and Welcome to it” I referred to “Georgia Time” in a general way when I described the difference between Yankee time and Georgia Time. For those several hundred thousand or so people who did not read my first post I shared in it how that what makes “Georgia Time ” so different from time in the north and the west is that for Georgians time is relative.

A set time for a true Georgians is what you aim for much like the bulls eye in a target. Yankees see time in a slightly different way. They too see time as a bulls eye in a target but the difference is that for Yankees the bulls eye in the time continuum must be always hit in the center or as near to the bulls eye as possible. Hitting the bulls eye of the time continuum is so important that missing the bulls eye even a little bit is embarrassing at the very least to most and for some like my older brother even shameful. To a Georgian hitting the bulls eye is more or less an ideal and I think most will even aim for it but if they miss it they are not real worried about. If they hit the outside edge of the target it is cause for great celebration.  A real source of pride might be heard if a good ol boy shared this, “You know I got there only an hour after I was supposed to, pretty cool huh?” High fives would be shared all around.

The thing of it is how we use time works fine as long as we are on the same page. When Yankees and Georgians try to work together gears grind and sparks fly (figuratively). If a group of six Georgians set a meeting time for say 10:30 they may actually sit down in fancy chairs around a beautiful oak table at say 3:00 and the one who called the meeting will look at his watch and say, “3 PM good our meeting is starting right on time.”

As a born again Southerner as much as I would like to think that after ten years I would be able to assimilate into the southern way of doing things. I have for the most part but as far as Georgia Time is concerned until recently I had not yet truly assimilated.

As a special educator I have to schedule a fair number of meetings. Sadly as hard as I try I always seem to schedule them as a Yankee would. The following is what usually happens on the day of any of my meetings. The meeting is scheduled at 10:00 AM.

1. From 10:00 to 10:10 I clear my throat, check my watch and clear my throat again. 2. At 10:10 from one to three people arrive (usually ex Yankees)  3. I spend from 15 minutes to 30 minutes talking about the people who have not arrived at the meeting yet, some of it is even flattering. 4. We spend 15 minutes talking about football in general with no team in particular being the focus. 5. We spend 15 minutes talking about the weather which is always interesting. 6. The parties arrive about 90 minutes late. When they arrive they say, “Whew it’s 11:30  thank goodness I wasn’t late.” Now to be fair I don’t always conduct meeting in this order. Sometimes we talk about football and the weather before we talk about the people who have not yet arrived at the meeting but it pretty much happens like this.

Now as I wrote earlier I am a Yankee by birth I get a bit hot under the collar when people are late to my meetings so I very sternly say, “The meeting was suppose to be at 10:00 you know.” The person or persons will say, “What did I miss/what did we miss?” I share what they missed in 10 minutes and then it hits me………………..they were 90 minutes late and I could tell them what they missed in just 10 minutes…………….

Maybe Georgia time is right and I have been wrong all along. Was it possible that this phenomenon only occurs in my meetings or could it work in other people’s meetings What if it worked the reverse like for me as a tardy meeting participant? I had to know for certain so in interest of science I arrive at my Principal’s called meeting 90 minutes late being greeted by a severely disappointed look on my Principal’s face He stops the meeting and says, “You sir are 90 minutes late.”(I think that he is at heart a Yankee but that is my little secret, please don’t spread this.) I say, “Oh really, what did I miss?” In 10 minutes he briefs me on what I missed. I missed the time continuum bulls eye by 90 minutes and my Principal could get me up to date in 10. This means that “Georgia Time” actually saves time, Yankees all y’all got this time thing wrong. Viva la “Georgia Time”. Now if you will excuse me I need to take a break. I will be back to writing in say 30 minutes give or take a few hours. Ya really gotta love the south.

My World and Welcome to it……………Sweet tea, cracklins and boiled peanuts

Foods in Georgia Photo 2If you have never been or rarely been to the south especially Georgia spending time in Georgia is like stepping back in time for some yankees or westerners (like me). It is at the very least a culture shock and almost like visiting another country. I have already shared the different words/language that are used/spoken here. Even living here after 10 years I can be involved in a 30 minute conversation and not understand a word of it, nope not a clue. To keep from being viewed as a complete idiot I nod my head a lot and say yep sure every so often. I have volunteered for more things this way unfortunately, but I digress. I have also shared the unique customs of my world with my readers. This too is like visiting another country. I mean let’s be serious how many areas outside of the south have people who find it great fun to catch huge catfish with their bare hands knowing that the same fish have painful barbs that can attach to the soft part of a human’s hands or arms. I realize that those who do this are a unique group of southerners and no one but these folks actually take part in this sport or suicide attempt.  They are the few, the not so bright, the proud, the beer inspired southern red neck but I digress again. Even the cuisine is different in Georgia.

When I came to Georgia for my interview my principal wanted me so badly that he bought me lunch in the cafeteria, I wanted the job too badly to refuse his kind offer. I had been a teacher long enough to not be excited by cafeteria food so inspite of my misgivings I accepted his offer. As I stood in the cafeteria line I had two choices for my main course. Neither looked real appetizing but I chose what appeared to be tuna salad. I didn’t figure tuna salad could be messed up too badly. I was wrong. I didn’t see a lot else that I felt that I could safely eat. With this kind of a lunch I knew that I had to have something, anything to drink and I was very thirsty. All I saw was milk which would have made me more thirsty instead of less. The kitchen worker kindly said, “We have tea.” “Would you like tea,” she asked?. “Iced tea.” I asked. She kind of stared at me with a look like duh, what other kind of tea is there? It was 92 degrees at 11:30 AM so I suppose the look was understandable. I personally knew of only two types of tea, hot or iced. I was to learn painfully well that in the south there is a third kind of tea, sweet tea.

As I had mentioned I was thirsty when I entered the cafeteria I was. I took a look at the tuna salad and gave it a few more looks took a deep breath and dipped my spoon into the mess to discover what pretended to be tuna salad was 95% mayonnaises with sprinklings of tuna (for color I think). My problem was that before I could stop myself I swallowed the glop. I had never needed a drink more than I needed one then. I took a big gulp (almost half of the glass). As it went down my throat I though I was dying. my eyes bulged out,I began to perspire even more than I had when I was in the cafeteria line,  I lost the ability to speak or to even breathe out. I had never in my life tasted anything so sweet. I could breathe in all I wanted but to breathe out was impossible. I had sugar paralysis. When I could breathe out again and when my eyes stopped watering long enough I looked around to see if this was someone’s idea of a practical joke (like wouldn’t be funny to poison the guy from California even before he starts teaching here?). As I looked around not only were the adults eating the slop and slurping the sweet tea but a few comments were made about how good the tuna salad was, better than most times that it was served, but how the sweet tea wasn’t sweet enough. All I could do was to shudder. I am convinced that true southern sweet tea is a whole lot of sugar with just a few drops of tea stirred really well.

As soon as I had accepted my teaching position I had to find a place to live. As luck would have it there was a very old lady who was renting her daughter’s house. I went to look at it and was very pleased with what I saw. The old lady was very pleasant. I shared some of my life story she shared some of hers. After about 10 minutes she asked me if I wanted to rent the house and I told her that I did. Well then all we have to do is to go back to my home and have some coke and cracklins.

At this point I hadn’t quite gotten over my experience with the sweet tea and tuna salad but I had to find a place to live preferably within three hours as I had a plane to catch. I had no idea what cracklins were or by this point wasn’t sure what coke was. I took a deep breath, made my peace with God and went inside this southern lady’s home. She brought out a hundred or so photo albums with most of the pictures of people who were long dead but looked nice enough. She presented me with an honest to goodness glass bottle of coke and a bunch of shriveled up deep friend pieces of quite frankly I wasn’t sure what they were. I learned later that what i had been eating was in fact pieces of deep fried pig skin (I am not making this up). If there was a way of deep frying a pig oink I am convinced southerners would eat it too but I digress. I took a swig of coke, man after what I had experienced food wise that swig was just soo good!  I then took one of those shriveled things and put it in my mouth and bit into it. I first heard and a second later felt crunching sounds inside of my mouth. i couldn’t spit it out the old lady was looking right at me while she was showing me yet another photo album. For a second or two I wasn’t sure weather it was my teeth being ground up or whatever it was that I was eating. After I swallowed whatever it was I was relieved to find out that it wasn’t my teeth so I put another one in my mouth, this time along with a swig of coke. I spent 90 minutes drinking coke, more or less chewing cracklins and looking at photos. About 5 minutes before I left the old lady brought up the house for the first and only time by asking, “When will all y’all be movin in? Y’all sure must like coke, y’all drank  12  bottles.”

After surviving this experience I was sure that I would never again be surprised by any other”delicacy” in Georgia. As soon as we moved in we noticed signs everywhere  for “Boiled Peanuts.” My kids asked what they were. I had no idea so I said what any good father would say,”Oh they are just the normal run of the mill boiled peanuts.” They followed up with, “Do they taste good?” I said, “Take a deep smell of that boiling peanut smell. Could it not taste good?” Of course that was a wrong thing to say. They all wanted some. We ordered several orders. As we waited for them I noticed piles of boiled peanut droppings everywhere (peanut shells). When the order came out piping hot to us the rest of my family dug right in adding to the boiled peanut droppings everywhere. I waited a bit enjoying the experience just enjoying the wonderful smell of all of them boiled peanuts just laying in a paper sack staring at me. Everyone told me how good they were so I popped in a boiled peanut expecting it to be something special but by golly was I ever surprised. I was eating what tasted to me like a cooked bean, what a let down! This was so much like cotton candy for me. The smell for both were such a big build up and then phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht nothing. Every true and good southerner even those who came here later in life, love boiled peanuts. Anyone who asks me what I think of boiled peanuts will hear me say, that they are incredibly good to eat even as I am fighting not to gag. I hope no one finds out my true feelings about them. It was bad enough when I was at a fair and said that I didn’t like cotton candy,out loud in front of a cotton candy booth, a little girl asked her mother if she had heard what I said and asked if that wasn’t unamerican.No little girl her age should even be able to say the word unamerican.

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My World and Welcome to it…………………… Still More Customs

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House with a historyThe other day I was driving on a country road when I came across a road sign that said “Quiet Death In The Family.” I immediately started whispering forgetting that the sign wasn’t referring to the noise level inside of the car. My first thought was that Georgia is such a kind place to live that they post signs to help ease grief for people who have death in their family, that is I felt that way until I realized that there wasn’t a comma after quiet so maybe the sign was just notifying the public that someone died without a struggle. If this was the case I thought that maybe I should honk my car horn, throw confetti or cheer for the fact that at least someone died easy that day but felt that it might be a good idea to just drive on by this time until I was able to get a better understanding of what the sign meant.

Soon after we moved here my family and I all visited a doctor just for a well patient exam so that we could have a doctor for when we really were sick. For all of us the exam was routine until he got to the question, “Do any of you eat chalk?” “Say what”, I asked? (My youngest son had eaten a lot of things especially when he was a toddler including but not limited to my wife’s contact lenses, a toy soldier, dog food and more. In the interest of tactile learning he just might have tasted dirt but never chalk. As I think of it the only items my son would not eat if given the chance was fruit but I digress). No one and I mean no one in my family then or now has ever knowingly eaten chalk as far as my wife and I know. The doctor continued, “Well good, don’t start because if you eat chalk it thins your blood.” I asked,”Do you get a lot of folks eating chalk around here?”  “Yep”, he said they make a regular party of it. I followed up with, “What does eating chalk do for them?” He said,  “Not sure but what ever it is they sure do like doin it and they do it right regular.” I had to know, “Does it make them high,” I asked. “Not so’s you’d notice, some of these people act pretty high even when they ain’t.” I have not been sure of very many things in my life but I am as sure now as I was 10 years ago that there will never be a time when my family and I will feel the need to eat chalk. The doctor noticed our discomfort and tried to change the subject  by asking, “So do you reckon you will stay here long?” I asked, “What’s a reckon?” For some reason he looked me up and down 3 or 4 times and stopped talking to me. Within minutes we were escorted out of the office by his nurse who said as we left, “Stay well” and I believe with all of my heart that she meant it.

When I lived in Southern California I learned to use my car horn to communicate with other drivers. For example a couple of quick beeps meant hey I am here in your blind spot so don’t hit me. One quick beep was a greeting. Several beeps with a head out of the side window with a huge grin meant want to go out?……………..well it could have meant that if  even one girl would have stopped laughing at me long enough to get the message. A long heavy hand on the horn meant you butt head you almost hit me and so on. In Georgia a honk of any kind is not just an insult to the person you were honking at but to each of their ancestors and even a few who weren’t their ancestors like Stonewall Jackson but a single middle finger extended  straight out while the other fingers are curved in towards the palm is more or less a greeting……………………..well more or less except that  it means see ya you butthead I ain’t never gonna drive faster than 40 even when the signs say 65. I ain’t even 65 yet so I can’t go that fast. Ralph Nadar said “Unsafe at any speed.” about the Corvair. I have an idea that if he ever visited my world he would say the same thing about many of the drivers her abouts.

My World & Welcome to it- Customs

Southern transportation  A custom in Mexico is Siesta time. Everyone down there knows that at a certain time of day it is nap time. In Georgia time is nothing more than an approximation. This is a concept that people in the north and west could not fathom. To be on time for most here means to arrive later than the set time for anything. If, as I found out during my first week of school a meeting is set for say 9:30 AM those invited to the meeting might not show up to it until 10:00 AM. and still be considered on time. At football games (which I will get more in to shortly) games start at 7:30 officially. Georgia has some of the most dedicated football fans of any area even in the south, still no one can be sure exactly how full the stands will be until 9:00. I have been told that in most churches arriving an hour late is considered being on time. I was raised in an area where being on time meant being 15 minutes early. When I was in college in Washington State if the prof wasn’t in class by 15 minutes after the time the class was suppose to start students could leave. Shoot in Georgia even most of the students wouldn’t arrive until more than 15 minutes after the class had started. I am afraid to think of when a prof might arrive. I realize that this is the south and that time moves slower but certainly not as slow as folks have become accustomed to in my part of Georgia.

I mentioned in my first blog about the word “Fixin.” As I think about it “fixin” is more a way of life than a word. Southerners could no more be “about to do” something than they could ice skate. Being “about to do” something would require much more speed than most southerner could muster even in a life or death moment. “Fixin” is a much more relaxed motion. It is like when you wake up after sleeping in on Saturday. You look at your watch and the small hand is on the eleven while the big hand is on the twelve. You lean over to who ever you are sleeping with (With me it is my wife, what were you thinking of?) and say “I’m fixin to cut the lawn and paint the porch.” You then turn over and go back to sleep for another hour. This time you really are “fixin to, “that is if the gnats ain’t to bad.”

Speaking of football southern people especially in Georgia  are born with a special love for the game. I swear that the first toy a boy or girl is given after they are born is a small football. You can say what you want to folks here even about their mothers but do not ever speak badly about the University of Georgia’s football team or Georgia Tech’s football team. If you do, them’s fighting words. You can say what ever you want about Bama, FSU or the Hurricanes.

In my 1st blog I think I wrote about how Georgia women can say the meanest things if they follow it up with “bless his/her heart.” Somehow in spite of the meanness with this matter of speech there is something charming about their ability to slam someone sweetly. This could not happen in other part of the world because down here everyone is truly friendly……………….to your face. We never ever say “Hi” to people we meet. We always say “Hey” or Hey y’all.” We wave to most anyone driving by friend or otherwise. However as soon as  we pass those people we may say something else, not always but sometimes. It would be nice if I could say that it’s a lady thing but I cannot in all honesty. It is a sport enjoyed by both sexes. The crazy thing is that I really don’t mind the thought of people talking behind my back, at least they are talking about me. I like  being said, “Hey” too me. It’s friendly even if it isn’t.

 

Coming up still more customs, traditions and food in my world.