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Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday's Talk About the Book

Last week I shared that in Chasing Sunsets, Patsy tells Kimberly that most people take photos of only the sunset. But, if you wait fifteen minutes, the best colors come out.


Looking toward the west from 1st and G toward the airport.

I'm not sure what this structure is in the water. It seems to be a little more worn every time I come. At high tide, you cannot even see it.

Same view

The most photographed location in Cedar Key. We'll talk more about it later. It's known locally as
"The Honeymoon Cottage."

Before going completely dark, the sky actually grows brighter.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Musings on All Things Southern

"I'm going to tell you right now, if that girl doesn't come home by the strike of ten, I'm gonna have a hissy fit they'll be talkin' about for the next hundred years."

"Mr. Bannings had a conniption fight right there in front of the class. I'm talkin' he was stompin' his feet and pounding his fists against the desk like you would not believe."

You may not know it--especially if you are from the Northern United States, but there is a difference in a hissy fit and a conniption fit.

A hissy fit involves a lot of yelling and drama. A conniption fit requires some physical display.

Y'all got that?

What are your best "hissy fit" or "conniption fit" stories?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday's Talk About the Book

Chasing Sunsets, book one in the 3-book Cedar Key series, tells the story of Kimberly Claybourne Tucker who, in the second half of her life--confusing as it is--returns to Cedar Key where, years before, she "chased the sunset" with her high school sweetheart. All that was necessary was a truck and a camera and the spirit of adventure.

Recently my friend and assistant, Cheryl, and I went to Cedar Key. We did a little sunset chasing. I thought I'd show you a few pix:

The clouds start to change from white to pink. It's time.

We decided not to go to our usual place to begin with, but to start near the airport.

Now we're at Bridge 4. Sunset on the marshes. Gorgeous.

The treeline of a nearby key is swallowing the sun.
Bye-bye ... until tomorrow.

In the book, Patsy tells Kimberly that most people only photograph the sunset. But if they will just wait fifteen minutes, the best colors will come out. Next week, we'll look at some of those.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday's Recipe of the Week

It's Wednesday! And that means another recipe from "Miss Betty's*" handwritten recipe book dating back to somewhere in the late 50s/early 60s. 

Broccoli Souffle w/Cheese Sauce


1 10 oz. package frozen broccoli
3 T butter
2 T flour
1 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 t salt
Dash nutmeg
Dash white pepper
1 t lemon juice
4 eggs, separated


Cook and chop the broccoli into small pieces. Melt the butter in a double-boiler and add the flour. Blend well. Gradually add the evaporated milk. Stir until thick and smooth. Stir in the salt, nutmeg and pepper. Mix in the broccoli and lemon juice and remove from heat. Beat the egg yolks and add a small amount of the hot mixture to them. Add this to the remaining broccoli mixture. Beat the egg whites until stiff and add to the broccoli mixture. Turn into and ungreased 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Serve at once with cheese sauce.

Cheese Sauce


3 cups grated cheese
2 T flour
1 cup evaporated milk


Mix the grated cheese and flour in the top of a double boiler. Add the milk and cook until sauce is smooth and thick. Yield 1 1/2 cups.

*Miss Betty was my mother. This recipe book was among the things I found in her kitchen after her death in 2010. I distinctly remember it being opened out on the kitchen countertop and her cooking recipes from it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Southern-Style Tunes

Ever tried to make a video
with a dog,
a truck,
a creek
a railroad track,
a steep incline
and a big snake?

This one will leave you laughing!
David Phelps: The Fall

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Musings on All Things Southern

I traveled to the north this past week ... all the way to Ontario, Canada. I was there to launch a Christian Writers Guild Word Weavers (Christian writers critique group), which is part of what I do.

The launch was set for Tuesday night. We had dinner at Swiss Chalet in Mississauga, and, after an hour of gabbing, I began my presentation. When I was done, I asked if there were any questions.

The first one asked about experience. "How much experience do you need to be in this group?"

It was a good question. I said so ... and then answered it.

The second question asked if we allowed for the critiquing of poetry.

"Absolutely," I answered.

Another hand went up. "Yes, Denise," I said, having just met the young woman with the long, wavy hair an hour earlier.

Her large eyes lit up, her shoulders rose to meet her ears, and she said, "I don't have a question. I just want to say, 'I love your accent.'"

Everyone giggled and agreed. Then Larry (who I'd also just met) said, "She probably likes ours, too, eh?"

And I did!

Funny how the way we say our words helps denote where we're from, dunchathink?

I say "HOW-se" for house.
They say "HOE-se."

I say "uh-BOUT" for about.
They say, "uh-BOAT."

But I'm thinking the "house" is still the place we live in ... and "about" is still what this message is in regard to. And that message is simple: make sure, no matter how you say the words, that the words are uplifting and true.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday's Recipe of the Week

Another recipe from Miss Betty's* Daily Diary Cookbook...I remember Mother making this...

I don't know who Ethel is or was. For some reason, the name is resounding within me as being the first name of one of the State Trooper's wives of which Mother was a part in those days.

Or maybe it's Ethel Mermann. LOL

Ethel's Punch


1 gallon water
4 lbs.sugar
3 T almond flavoring
1 T vanilla
1 large bottle lemon juice
3 large cans pineapple juice
2 quarts gingerale


Mix ingredients together making sure to add the gingerale last.
Makes 50 5 oz. servings.

(Miss Betty was my mother. These are the recipes I found in her penmanship, written in a Sexton's Daily Diary from c. 1955.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday's Southern Style Tunes

During our road trip, we started talking about old movies. REALLY old movies but also modern day classics. Debby H brought up watching Smokey and the Bandit (staring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, and Jerry Reed) with her husband and kids recently. For about an hour later, this song played in my head.

There are about three "words" here, so be aware of that. I chose this particular video because it has clips from the movie...and oh! What a movie!

If you'd prefer to just hear Jerry Reed sing the song without the video clips, watch the video below.

Debby H, thx for the memories. While you can recall watching this with you kids just last week, I went to the theater, stood in a very long line, watched and laughed with the rest of the South...way back when in

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Musings on All Things Southern

I had an interesting experience this past weekend. I traveled ten states in three days. Okay, technically, I traveled five states in three days but I drove them first forward and then backward. Thus ten states.

At 6 30 on Friday morning, three other women and I met in my driveway. The air was cool but humid. The sky was still dark but growing lighter. Insects swarmed around the lamppost in my front yard. We loaded up Debby H's Saturn Outlook to the absolute brim, climbed in, and headed out the driveway. Goodbye house, humidity, and insects.

Together, as the sky grew increasingly lighter and our coffee kicked in, we--Debby H, Debbie B, and Patsy B--started to chat a little, discovering how alike we are in our differences. Debby H has a husband and two teenage boys. Debbie B is experiencing empty nest for the first time, now that all five of her kids are out of the house. Patsy B has been a widow for 11 years; she loved her husband dearly and misses him like mad, even after all this time. And then there was me.

Florida became Georgia. The sun was now gleaming over the marshes along the coastline as we sped up I-95. We had already made I don't know how many stops--potty breaks and grabbing a little something to eat or drink. Our conversation was opening up along with the day. Debby H, who was the Driver # 1, and I had switched places;I was now behind the wheel of the luxury suburban.

We got to Savannah and decided we were hungry. It wasn't quite lunch, but we had all agreed on Cracker Barrel, of which there are a ga-billion along Southern highways. I ordered chicken and dumplin's, as always. Turnips. Fried okra. Patsy said she had never had okra fried so I remedied that. She and I both agreed, better fried than boiled. Yuck.

Georgia soon became South Carolina. We drove about halfway up, cut across toward North Carolina, and then entered the incredible Great Smoky Mountains. Majesty rose on both sides of the highway. We oo-ed and ah-ed. Our conversation continued to grow with the same intensity of the landscape. Four women in one vehicle cannot be quiet long.

We grew quiet at the sight of a pretty serious accident involving a car and an 18 wheeler. Traffic backed up like crazy.

We had to make, ah-yet, another potty break. This was our fiftieth of the day (or so it seemed) and we had gotten badly lost at one point. Okay, two points. Not really lost...we just couldn't figure out how to get to where we wanted to go. I don't think that really counts as lost.

So...we needed gas and restrooms. We got off the interstate, and drove up the driveway of a gas station/convenience store. And I do mean drove "up." We were taking turns putting gas in the car; it was Patsy's turn. But there were a lot of bikers milling around the pumps, not pumping gas and not really moving out of the way either. Debby H got all gutsy, rolled down the window and basically told a burly biker to "move it."

And he did.

We went inside for the potty break but, alas, their well was broken. Interesting. So we got gas and drove across the street to another convenience store, whose well was not broken, to use the restrooms, then felt all guilty that this was our only reason for being there. So we bought stuff. Junk nibbles. We got back on the highway.

Our conversation soon turned silly...and I do mean silly.

We turned on the music to XM radio. For a while, we grooved to the 70s, then the 60s, then the 50s. At one point, Debby H--who doesn't know the words to too many songs but can figure out the chorus after she hears it a time or two--got her groove on...and I got out my camera. (see video)

We came to a tunnel. Debby H said, "Everybody scream!" And we did that too... (see video) although I admit I couldn't hold my scream for laughing so hard.

By the time we arrived in Gatlinburg, TN (we were attending Cheri Cowell's marketing retreat in her lovely mountain cabin), we were positively loopy. In awe of our surroundings, but loopy.

But wouldn't you be if you had been in a car with four women from all walks of life for nearly 13 hours?