Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Grandma's Catalog

(Classic My Hometown Column)
(published in Picayune Item)

Have you ever received in the mail one of those catalogs that has all kinds of stuff for sale mostly items your grandparents would buy?

I call it a grandma’s catalog because the merchandise displayed page after page is mainly items an elderly person would purchase, or has already, like girdles, hearing aids, and liniments.

Granted, I am not that green behind the ears and will be in need of such items in the near future.

One example is Dr. Leonard’s, a healthcare catalog which for some strange reason arrived at my door.

Is someone trying to tell me something, like maybe I need to start stocking up on senior citizen paraphernalia? Am I sliding over the slope of the hill?

You've seen these glossy catalogs which always specialize in undergarments, those body shape girdles to squeeze in what doughnuts have spread out. They got real full figure bras that fasten with dozens of reinforced hooks and in a special eye catching box advertises that it comes in sizes up to 56DDD.

Is that a Dolly-sized contraption?

At first glance, many of the items appear to be about comfort, like the Dr. Scholls shoes that are not as fashionable but sure could take you a few extra miles. The fleece cover for your recliner could be useful.

Then there are the uncomfortable items, such as the urine gone product which effectively removes new and old urine stains from surfaces. (Let’s assume that it’s for pets.)

Electronics that are hard to find are also in the catalog, such as a record player which plays your favorite 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM records…or albums.

Can you imagine one of our teens getting a hold of that and trying to play a CD on it? Or even worse, doing that DJ scratchy thing the rappers and like use them for!

I can’t say I miss scratch sounds but it is kind of nostalgic, the sound of a LP, skipping, scratching and spinning.

Grandma’s catalog has miracle drugs for those who are worried about aging. It advertises instant face lifts. It can make you look years younger in minutes, it states, no need for surgery, injections or painful procedures. Is this a good ideal? To sell plastic surgery replacement products?

On page 22 another ad claims you can transplant hair in 30 seconds by shaking tiny hair fibers over your thinning spots or on the same page a product that can clean out your colon with a pill. Across the page, you find surgical steel sharp scissors specially designed to cut the toughest toenails easily.

I can’t take the visuals playing in my head.

Keep shopping and you find toilet seat risers. What are they used for? For the days when rising from the throne is hard to do, this keeps you two inches higher from the fray.

The Wart, Mole, and Liver Spot Cream might be a seller for us younger folks if it were marketed a little differently, like not mentioning the fact about warts, moles, and liver spots.

Near the end of the catalog, there is an ‘adult’ section included in the catalog, and I mean adult!

For mature audiences has been the theme throughout the publication, but these products want to enhance, enlarge, and other things I just can’t mention in polite conversation! Yes it’s in grandma’s catalog. This section advertises videos that can instruct or remind those about more intimate activities. But never fear, one page over brings you back to redemption advertising the easy to read Large Print Bible in the deluxe King James Version. Oh, and don’t forget the nude aerobics video when you turn to the following page.

Senior citizens sure do have a lot of help aids, like the attachment for canes so that you can walk in snow and ice, denture repair kits, incontinence systems, and a nice basket for your walker.

Items us young-lings never think we will ever need.

We need our own catalog, for the not quite there yet group, with helpful products for those of us in the fast lane, rat race, children challenged life we live in.

Products like Super-industrial Calgon bubbles that repel children. Every time I try to let Calgon take me away I have to listen to a knock on the door, a question, a fight outside the door, and a whinny voice asking how long am I going to be?

What about toilet seat hydraulic suspensions that lower the seat whenever it has been left up by the special man in your life.

I love the miracle products for hair loss and face lifts, but what about one that replaces all the brain cells I seem to have misplaced after birthing children, or for husbands who are unable to find whatever they are looking for.

Could Dr. Scholls please provide an extremely padded and comfortable shoe that also looks like it weighs less than a pound and has a heel to it?

Women need comfortable shoes however we don’t want to look comfortable?

Just like the overly supportive undergarments, just add a bit of lace and color and I’m there. Victoria Secret all support system with ribbons and lace but fully functional. Now that would sell in a not-so-old grandma catalog.

Instead of devices to raise you out of chairs and beds, we in the prime of our lives, need devices to raise our children out of their beds and chairs. Cattle prods could be packaged, renamed and sold to parents tired of dragging their offspring from leisure positions. Maybe ‘Off your lazy butt pad” would suffice for a title. Guaranteed to lift the bottom and stand it erect, just requires a couple of double A batteries for the tiny charge of electricity.

We could use some energy pill that keeps us going and going and going like the Bunny. I’ll buy that miracle drug.

But for now, I will glance through grandma’s catalog and be thankful I am not there yet. But my body keeps saying as if it were a kid in the back seat, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Some days I’m not sure.

At least I am not a grandma …yet!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I was country, when country wasn't cool

I was country when country wasn't cool

Country singer, Barbra Mandrel made the bold announcement in one of her major hits, “I was country when country wasn't cool.”

At that time, Urban Cowboy’s popularity had mainstream teenagers wearing boots and dancing the two-step. It was cool at the moment, to be country, or at least dress the part.

Like all fads, it faded and those who were really country continued to be real and did not care about the fashion trends of the runways of American style.

Lately I have noticed, a resurgence of being country has hit the closets of American teens again, as young, girly girls are wearing cowboy boots as trendy fashion statements.

But it is what’s on your television screen that is driving the re-popularization of being country, redneck, or maybe more specifically, Southern, it’s the driving force of reality television.

Sure, some of its pretty extreme and scary! Have you seen My Redneck Wedding on CMT?

These are the kinfolks you want to remain hidden, but someone decided to promote, box it up and sell it on television. It’s highly entertaining and somewhat disturbing.

Is it a good idea that being Southern proud is being displayed in all its glory?

I am country born, as South as you can go, before hitting the Gulf. I have the pleasure of country and Cajun influence in my cooking because of my unique Southern roots. All those Swamp people shows, I grew up with those kinds of folks.

I have grown up with Honey Boo Boo’s family, not literally, but many like them, they are familiar to me. While many watch in amazement, I am thinking, what’s the big deal, no big reveal for me.

Plus, I now have the recipe for Sketti. However, I am not ever going to make it.

My sons watch all the Southern bred shows, Diggers, Swamp People, Billy the Exterminator, Moonshiners, Ax men, Rocket City Rednecks and now they have a new one, Swamp Hunters.

As I have said, these shows not only are like the types of people I grew up with, but are actually, people I grew up with, from my own high school. These Swamp Hunters sit on my local country store porch and plan their daily excursions. Dustin, D’Roy, James, Bo Bo, Big Al, and Kacey Taylor are the actual people I grew up around.

Yet, as popular as Southern is, there is one show that is atop of them all, and is making Camo clothing sexy, Duck Dynasty.

Last week’s premiere smashed its competition both on cable and broadcast stations. Over ten million TV’s tuned in to see camo-wearing, bearded men go duck hunting.

It’s the characters on the show that drive the popularity. Who doesn't have a few of these guys in their family?
I feel like I am related to Uncle Si who is filled with colorful stories which he claims are 95 percent real and his fun sayings, “There are things you just can’t fix. Can’t fix stupid, can’t fix a neutered dog and you can’t fix junk!”

Who on television carries his own glass of Sweet tea every where he goes? Uncle Si does.

The Learning Channel has brought us Honey Boo Boo and now because it’s surprising success has ordered more southern style reality shows such as Myrtle Manor about the drama of people in a trailer park.

Really? Do we need to air all our dirty laundry?

I hope they don’t title one, White Trash Southern Style, because they are basically snickering behind the camera and insinuating this on a few of these reality shows.

Would you want a camera at your family reunion? Should we reveal all to the public, warts and all?

Am I ashamed of my heritage? No. Just don’t want those who do not understand this culture and subculture to make fun of that which is not as sophisticated as the city dwellers opinion of what is refined.

In their opinion do they look down on the earthy people of the world?

Yet, it’s those country music loving, hunters, gardeners, pea-picking folks that make this world great.

I was born country and maybe our conversation is not laced with specks of highfalutin words, our clothes are missing fancy labels, and our lifestyle strange and exotic to the city life, but look pass the exterior because true Southern country-folk are some of the best people on earth.

They are loyal, faithful to their God, will lend a helping hand and clean up their own messes. Family is cement and fervently valued.

The country family is a strong powerful unit and though life is throwing them the same hardships and temptations: financial crisis, drugs, and moral depletion, there isn't a Southern family that doesn't have a praying mom or grand mom somewhere in the midst.

I miss living amongst the country folk as it seems I am to live in a metropolis, although a nice one with many transplanted country folks which helps, but it’s not the same.

I miss my front porch. I miss simple, country folks.

As I visit home often as I can, I get a giant dose to keep me going, by sitting on our rustic cabin’s porch, listening to the farm sounds, smelling the hay and cow manure mixture, talking to my very country Granny (mother-in-law) and eating home cooked dishes.

It is these things that feel real. It is these things that seem to matter. Watching my sons, camo-upped, traipsing through the woods and being country boys for awhile.

We ain’t city folks, just visitors.

So, let the worlds watch our country folks on television, learn to appreciate what we know is real, is good, and is a special thing.

On Duck Dynasty, they bring it all to a hilarity filled conclusion by gathering the family over good home cooking and prayer.

Now that is what I am talking about.

Country is always cool to me and it’s always the most popular fashion trend to me and though Nielsen folks may grow tired of it in the long run, its what’s on my playlist forever.

You haven’t lived until you pick peas, shell them and eat them all in the same day. You haven’t really lived until you breathe in farm air and run through a field and listen to the sound of crickets at dusk and the frogs around the pond at night while gazing up into a dark, starry sky.

Now, God is very real and it’s in these moments that I understand why country folk cling to their God. He is given them an amazing gift of being Southern born and bred, and country to the roots.

Of course, the nation has many country folks that understand, from New York to the plains and beyond that are just as country. I am more partial to the Southern ones.

Apparently, so is America. They can laugh at us, but we got the last laugh.

My Hometown USA begins

My Hometown USA

For over a decade I have been writing a weekly newspaper column titled My Hometown Column. As the printed page begins to slip away, so does the printed column. I have threatened for a couple of years to turn my column into a blog, so this is my effort of procrastination.

My hometown is not just a geological destination which represents my specific location and origin, but rather its a sense of being, a place that resides more in our hearts. It is something we all share, a hometown, a community, a place we call home, whether we live there in the present or in the past.

My journey has brought me miles away from home. Yet, as the world has shrunk, our nation is in itself a hometown. I have a social media hometown, via Face Book, Twitter, or plain email. We discuss the weather, the local gossip, who died and who is in the news as if we were standing over a giant water-cooler chatting about the subject du jour.

Although my friends are in Seattle, back home in South Mississippi and New Orleans, in Lake Placid, New York or Naples and Key West Florida via the world of virtual hometown I can listen to conversations, respond to statements. Its as if we were all in the same living room watching the same football game or American Idol.

Did you hear that note?  What was that ref thinking? WHO DAT!

I represent in some ways the small town philosophy, yet an open mind to the more progressive views because this is not avenue to point fingers and vent. This is about reflection and yes, opinion, but I choose, like Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm to not be selective in who I may critique. Larry chose to insult all, so I choose to pick on both sides of the issues because no one and no side is completely in the right.

Life has given me its challenges, from them I gain some insights, some knowledge and hopefully wisdom which for some reason I think I must pass along.

Widowed at 34, raising two sons, I have met some of those challenges with some imperfect choices, and with some surprising strength of character. My decades on this Earth have shown me three major catastrophic events in which nature has hit hard.

I experienced a Category 5 hurricane, Camille, went through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and then as I moved away from the coastline, went through the worse tornado outbreak in Alabama history in which F-4's and F-5's and hundreds of other lessor tornadoes zipped all around me, destroying viciously the surrounding neighborhoods of my new hometown of Huntsville.

I have changed professions, relocated and remarried, so my stress-or chart has me in the grave fairly soon. Oh, and by no means, lets not forget birthing 14 pounds of twin boys while pushing 40.

A mother of four boys should have a special place in Heaven, and that is a JS...just sayin.

Hometown theology, you should relate, whether you agree with all I state, or just want to see how the other side thinks....whatever your motivation, I hope you will visit and stay awhile.

Happily ever after, that's what I am working on, the present is ever and spiritually, is the after. I am a work in progress.

I hope that you will join me as I spread the thoughts and advice and life reflections of my writings.

As a lover of the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, I consider every day, 'another adventure.'