Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Words You May Never Have Uttered

Today's guest post is by Brandi Creasman Watkins, aka Bonnie Sherrill. Brandi was born and raised in the mountains of western NC. After being away for nearly a decade, she returned to her hometown and spent the next decade working in victim services and social work. She retired so that she could focus on her family, Thirty-One Gifts Business and her writing. She started blogging, writing & even published her first book, Mountain Notes to Grant-Writing in 2016. She is now working on the 2nd book in this series, Mountain Notes to Parenting, while she homeschools both of her youngest children. You can find more of Brandi's writings at her blog, A Country Girl Surviving.

Words You May Never Have Uttered

You may need a passport to enter another country, but you just need an open mind and some gas to reach the South. However, you may experience the same culture shock that you would endure in the Congo or African Sahara – we have similar language barriers and mating habits. You will certainly encounter those that think you should just turn around and head back where you came from. But…just maybe, if you are in the right frame of mind, you will find us just as fascinating as the Amish, the Cherokee, New Yorkers or the Mormons.

The single defining characteristic of any foreign culture is language and for real, the Southern language should count for a language in college prep. For example:

Befuddled. Definition: confused with a hint of ignorance to the reasoning that X topic is even being discussed. Like…why do you have to discuss ear wax when you could instead discuss the ramifications of Billy Bob thinking that he could fix the leak in his house with anything other than duct tape? This word MUST accompany the gesture of scratching your head at least one time during the conversation.

Flabbergasted. Definition: shocked with a hint of anger. You may hear this when a redneck stubs his toe and blames the wife for placing the incriminating obstacle in his path. Apparently, the wife thinks that if something is static for 50 years, her husband should learn to walk around it. Whatever!

Spirits. In the south, we refer to all alcoholic beverages as ‘spirits’ because it lifts our spirits to partake. Very simple. However, southerners don’t get the whole wine connoisseur mess….we make our own wine from the fruit that God gave us…right here in our backyards. The idea that ‘wine tastings’ happen, definitely befuddle us.

Tattoos. We all run into people and ask them about their tattoos and some get very upset if we insinuate that they had a personal experience with image that they later marked themselves with because they just get tattoos. BUT, in the South, our tattoos mean something. Period. Most may say MOM, some may say F-Obama, but they all mean something to us that will still mean it tomorrow (unless we were drunk.)

Mountains. Some may believe that this is a geographical distinction or even a place where they “vacation.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. ‘Mountains’ is a way of life. It’s a religion. It’s a people.

Helldamn. Although Webster does not recognize this as a compound word, it is the only compound word that can succinctly describe something that went wrong. This something could have been intentional, stupid or just plain fate.

Waterlogged. Definition: a state of being after too many hours in the water. In the olden days, logs were transported via the rivers and they stayed in these rivers for quite some time before they reached their destination. See, our words make sense to us!

Church. Definition: The single reason to defuse any argument under the sun. This word is synonymous with the Good Book, the people attending or the very argument that you can’t win. Church is the end all, be-all in the South. You don’t wear jeans to church….ever….under any circumstances. TV Shows do not have any place in a Southern Church – no divorce, no Modern Family, no Law & Order, no Teletubbies. Criminal Minds and other murder shows would be acceptable.

Caddywompus. Definition: describes when something is askew or off-centered. For example, I have this retarded tree in my yard that has limbs that are caddywompus and drives me to the brink of a misdemeanor. I would include a picture, but I don’t want to ensue riots, because we don’t have the parking space.

Oh Fresh Hell. Definition: A new ‘alternative’ way of thinking, acting or being. A southern woman might exclaim this after seeing her teenager come downstairs in all black attire and make-up or maybe hearing her son exclaim about the newest way to talk to his girlfriend. ‘Oh Fresh Hell’ may be timeless, but the shit it explains is not – just grab a homemade wine, get flabbergasted, drag them to church in the mountains and scream a Helldamn to those that are caddywompus.

This post is brought to you by the my personal friends on Facebook! I hope you enjoyed and please let me know if you have some Southern Terms that weren’t included!


I hope you enjoyed this guest post as much as I did! Brandi and I grew up in the same small town in western NC. I tried to think back to when I first met her but if you were from Andrews, NC everybody just always knew each other. She is still just as funny as ever! She reached out to me during my last hospital stay and decided that we need to team up to share some of our posts with us both being "small town Appalachian bloggers". I look forward to working with her again and sharing more of her hilarious posts in the future

This is a pic from the area where Brandi & I grew up. Pretty, huh? 
This was taken by my friend and fellow Andrews girl, Tammy West McCoy. 


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Sweet Lesson In Life

Today's guest post is by Jequeta Mullins Briskey. Jequeta was the youngest of 11 children and she grew up in Clintwood, Virginia. She didn't start writing until after she was married and most of her short stories and poems are centered around growing up in southwestern Virginia. She currently lives in northwestern Ohio with her husband, John, and they have 3 children, 8 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.  


A Sweet Lesson In Life

It started back in the early 50s when I was in the fourth grade. My dad decided that he would go into the strawberry business. He thought that it would be profitable and would bring in some much needed money for our family. Not only did he have the space and the know-how to plant the seedlings and bring them to life, but he also had the extra hands to help him with the task. Those extra hands would belong to me and my siblings.

He picked out a prime spot on our little mountain side farm and prepared if for planting, naturally with our help. I don't recall actually helping to do any of the prep work with the soil, the planting, weeding, and care of those tender plants but somehow they survived. The first year is never great for strawberries but the second year found us working hard at picking the nice red ripe fruit every other day. 



Most of those strawberries were four our personal use and we really enjoyed them. After working all morning in the blazing sun on our hands and knees, picking the fruit from those verdant green plants, one would think the last thing on our minds would be eating that fruit. But, knowing that Mom was in the kitchen baking an old fashioned strawberry pie for lunch would make our mouths water. These pies were not like the pies of today with their glaze and piled high with whipped topping. Her pies were made with sweetened cooked strawberries thickened with a flour mixture and poured into a handmade baked shell. They contained no topping and we never asked for a topping because in those days, we didn't know that anything of that sort existed. We accepted what we had and were thankful for it. 

By the third year, Dad's strawberries were producing in abundance. We started letting other people know that we had an excess amount of strawberries and that we would be willing to sell some of them. So, off we went to the fields early in the morning to pick the fruit. We had attained gallon buckets over the past two years in anticipation of this day. These buckets were most likely gallon lard cans or anything of that sort. Each of us would carry a bucket along and we would take what my Dad called a "swath" which was our individual portion in which we were to remove all the ripe fruit, leaving the green ones to ripen for another day. And we were cautioned not to step on the plants as this would likely damage them from producing again. 

Dad had told us that we would get paid for helping him with this task. We were allowed to pick one green berry for each gallon bucket we filled and he warned us that he knew our capacity for picking and he would know if we cheated. In one day, if we picked well and fast, we could make a dollar for picking ten gallons of berries, That was a lot of money for us in those days. We felt rich! We didn't think about how long it took for use to make that much money but just having the money was joy beyond compare. 

When we had filled one of the buckets we could pour them into a larger container to be carried down the hill to where our home was. This would eliminate several trips up and down the hill. Eventually, my brother rigged up a pulley system from the house to the top of the hill so we could hang a bucket of berries onto the pulley and lower them down to the house by way of a handle. This sure saved a lot of steps and time for us. 

Word got around our community that we had strawberries for sale and people started placing orders with us. Whether it was only one gallon or a huge order of twenty to thirty gallons, we could always fill those orders. Dad would fill the gallon buckets heaping full until the berries were falling off the sides. Then he would transfer the berries over to the containers our customers had brought with them, all the while he would make sure the customer helped him count the gallons so as not to short them on their order. And when it was time for them to pay up, the price was always $1.00 a gallon. In all the years we kept that business going, he never changed the price. Word got around that Dad was very generous and fair and that made more business come our way. Eventually we got to the point of selling thousands of gallons of berries each season.

Mom would never want the first berries in the spring. These were the ones that were bright red and huge. Just looking at them would make your mouth water. Most people would ask for those but not mom. She would always wait until the end of the season when the berries were smaller and a deeper red. Then she would ask for her share of the crop. These late berries had a sweeter taste. Sure, it took longer to clean and process them but it was well worth the effort. The jams and jellies she made from this fruit was the best and it was always a great treat to pull a box of sweetened berries from the freezer on a snowy winter day and taste summer sunshine. I think back on this now when I go out to buy strawberries for myself, might I say at a ridiculous price, and I try to choose the smalls berries in the bunch because I know they will taste the best. 

This business for us lasted about twenty years. By the time I graduated high school, there were no more children left at home to help Dad and his age had slowed him down. Eventually, he let the strawberry patch go but even after our crops had gone and we no longer kept it producing, we would get phone calls asking if we still had strawberries for sale. I guess Dad had a good idea after all. That business kept our family going for many years all for the price of a few plants, some fertilizer, and several strapping young kids capable of picking their share of red summer sunshine. Oh, the memories it brings for all of us. Thank you, Dad, for teaching us another lesson in life.

I hope y'all enjoyed Jequeta's short story as much as I did. She couldn't have sent it to me at a more perfect time because I've had strawberries on my mind for the past month! I agree with Jequeta...they do taste like summer. If you missed my post last week and would like to make some jam with all of the strawberries that seems to be poppin' up, you can find my post and recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Jam here. Does strawberries taste like summer to you too?