About Me

My photo
Heart of Dixie, United States
Just a Southern man who believes men should act like men and women should be treated like ladies until they prove themselves otherwise.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sweet tea or not sweet tea?

I was recently in Dallas, TX with my son and we were at a restaurant and he ordered tea.  In Clay county, Alabama (where we're from), you usually just ask for "tea" and you get sweet, iced tea.  He got his tea, which was not sweetened, and said, "I thought Texas was a Southern state!!"  The jury must still be out.....

Sweet tea is as Southern as it gets.   Made by adding sugar to bags of black tea brewing in hot water while the mixture is still hot, the tea is served over ice.  I'll never forget the first time I ordered "tea" at a restaurant north of the Mason-Dixon line and they brought me a cup of hot, unsweetened tea.  I immediately realized my mistake.

Sweet iced tea hasn't always been as easy to get as it is now.  In the early 1900s, tea, sugar and ice were all expensive commodities.  Ice was especially hard to come by, often having to be shipped great distances.  The oldest known recipe for sweet ice tea was published in 1879 in a community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree, who was born in Texas (ironic).  Sweet tea was once consumed as a punch mixed with hard liquor with flavorings of mint and cream (awesome!)

Most restaurants in the South, including fast-food and other national chains, offer a customer the choice of sweet tea or plain iced tea (usually referred to as "sweet tea" and "unsweet tea", respectively). It is a signature drink of the region to the point where the Southern use of the word "tea" is largely used to refer specifically to cold sweet tea and not to hot or plain varieties. In non-Southern States, many restaurants do not offer sweet tea as defined above....as I learned the hard way.

Anyway, next time you reach for a tall glass of sweet tea, remember how your granny and papaw would have loved to have been able to run through the drive-thru and grab a glass like you can.  Ain't times good..?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Is Chivalry Really Dead?

Kenelm Henry Digby gives us the following definition: "Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic actions, and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world."

Yeah, OK.  That's too over my head.  When I use the word, I mainly think of men treating those around them with courtesy and respect.  I say "men" because that's who we normally think of when we use the word chivalry.

I was raised to say "ma'am" and "sir."  I still do it, even to people younger than me (those are getting more numerous every day.)  I say, "thank you" and "please."  I hold a door for anyone and I give a chair to a woman or someone older than me.

Now I'm not tootin' my own horn because I'm not the only one that does that...many of my contemporaries do.  I am noticing, however, that our younger generations are slacking off in the "politeness" area.  I can tell when a kid has been raised right by the way he treats adults.  And I'm not afraid to call one on their behavior.

One of the things that make the South wonderful to me is the graciousness, charm.....and manners....of it's inhabitants.  We lose that....we lose "my South."  I mean, heck, lots of us are polite to people we can't stand!  Where else do you see that?

For better or worse, our traditions and manners have made us what we are....and I, for one, don't intend to change.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Clay Bowl - End of an Era

The Clay Bowl...the annual meeting of the Ashland Panthers and the Lineville Aggies...comes down to a final meeting this year - and the end of the rivalry.  Unless you've been under a rock, you've heard that the two schools are combining into one high school located between the two towns.

Now I'm not gonna sit here and spew facts about the games.  You can look that up somewhere else.  I want to talk about change.  The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said, "There is nothing constant but change."  We are in the midst of a prime example of this.  I dare say there are friends of mine who thought they would never see the day when Lineville didn't play Ashland in football.  There are friends of mine who are so mad about the consolidation that they could spit nails.  But, guess what?  Things change...

So what do you do?  Well, if you're wise, you embrace it.  Accept it for what it is and move on.  Remember the Glory Days each team had and how it affected your Senior year in high school.  Talk about it with your buddies at class reunions.  Then go and support the new Volunteers football team and root for them against whoever our new rival turns out to be,

Change, itself, is inevitable.  But your attitude towards it is entirely up to you.  And there is a whole generation waiting and watching to see how you handle it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stranger in a Strange Land

I was walking yesterday and I did a strange thing...I shook hands (vine) with a Kudzu plant. 

I know that sounds odd but the vine was on the side of the road, sticking up about waist-high and, being the tactile person I am, stuck my hand out and introduced myself.  Then I though, "I really don't know that much about you, Mr. Kudzu, even though you are EVERYWHERE!"

So I set out to find out more about my neighbor.  Did you know it took a lot of work to get Kudzu all over the place?  It was introduced to the U.S. in 1876.  Florida nursery operators, Charles and Lillie Pleas, discovered that animals would eat the plant and promoted its use for forage in the 1920s. Their Glen Arden Nursery in Chipley sold kudzu plants through the mail. A historical marker there proudly proclaims "Kudzu Developed Here."

During the 1930s, it was promoted for erosion control and people were PAID to plant it!  The problem is that here in the Southeastern U.S., it grows too well.  And some herbicides were discovered to actually make it grow better!

Well, it's here, free and abundant so many folks have attempted to use it for everything from food to basket-weaving.  But, mostly we just sit around and gripe about it.  However, in my opinion, it's one of the things that makes the South "the South."

So take a closer look at this stranger that lives right next to you.  Like most strangers, you may see that there's more to them than meets the eye...once you get to know 'em.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stay Out of There...That's the Living Room!

"Stay out of there...that's the Living Room!"

Did you ever hear that growing up?  I realize some of you may not have had one of those growing up but you may have SAID that to your children because you probably had one in your "grown up" house.

I remember ours...it was the first room you came in to at the front of the house.  Therefore, I always had to enter the house through the carport.  The living room (which I always thought was an odd name for it, since no one ever got to go in it) was reserved for, as I remember it, preachers or other church folk and insurance men....even relatives weren't allowed to stay in there...they could pass through it's hallowed walls but that's as far as it went.  Maybe that's one reason I went into the insurance business...because I secretly wanted to get to go into the living room.

Oh, yeah...I do remember one other vistor to the living room.....Santa Claus.  He not only left gifts under the tree we had in the living room (because it was at the front of the house, we put the tree there so the lights could be seen...which didn't really matter because we lived half a mile from the highway).....but he also visited me once when I was about 5.  The living room was always a magical place for me after that.

Living rooms have fallen from grace, I think.  Most newer houses are more "family-friendly" and have skipped the formal living room in favor of the more casual "family room."  But I will never forget that forbidden place (to me) where only the most important guests were allowed to venture......

Friday, August 5, 2011

What are you holdin' on to?

I dislike Yellow Jackets....probably more so than skeeters.

You can learn a lot from watching things in nature.  I was out walking this morning and came across a Yellow Jacket trying to pick up some object on my driveway.  He was so obsessed with this object that he never saw my size 12 running shoe coming.  (I realize I may catch some flack from some of you for killing defenseless insects - let me tell you...Yellow Jackets ain't defenseless...mess with their nest by accident and you'll see.)

Anyhow, it set me thinking....how many of us are struggling with something that keeps us from seeing what's coming next?  Failed relationships, troubled childhoods, financial struggles - these things can keep us rooted in self-destructive behaviors and prevent us from seeing the big picture.  Life is what YOU make it.  You're not a product of your past.  You're influenced by it and, if you're smart, you learn from it...but it doesn't determine your course for the future.  Let it go...

Now after I squashed that ol' Yellow Jacket, some of his buddies came around to see what was happening.  Too late.  Moral of the story....it's good to have friends but when it comes right down to it, you've got to be watching out for yourself.  You are responsible for you.

What are you holdin' on to?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How are they gonna remember you?

"Everybody dies famous in a small town..." - Miranda Lambert

Most everyone is remembered by someone after they're gone....good or bad.  There are some people, though, that always stand out in your memory.  They are the ones that helped you when you were down, provided inspiration, or were just interesting characters in general. 

Then there are those that you are glad they are gone.  I know...that sounds bad.  But you know it's true.  They were a thorn in your side, always up to no good - you know the type.

So....the question is:  How are they gonna remember you?

Are they gonna remember you as someone who always had a smile on your face, a spring in your step and a kind word for everyone you met?  Or will you be the one that people avoided in the grocery store because you always looked like you'd been sucking on a lemon or were always pushing your unwanted opinion on them?

I have so many fond memories of those "characters" that made growing up in the rural South fun and interesting.  I would give some examples but I still live here and some of you might be able to figure out who I'm talking about.  I do know that I want to be remembered that way.  I don't mind being called eccentric, odd or unique...those are compliments as far as I'm concerned.  But the main things I want to be remembered for are:  being a good husband and father....someone who was willing to help when help was needed.....and for bringing a smile to someone who needed it, either by word or deed.

How are they gonna remember you?