Sunday Top Ten List – Culture Shocks for a Relocated Yankee

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I grew up in New Jersey, and moved to North Carolina when I was 26.  There are many things about the South that are vastly different from what I grew up with.  Here are just a few.

1.  Everything is slower, except the traffic.  People talk slower, walk slower, conduct business slower.  But there is so much less congestion on the roads that traffic generally moves pretty well.

2.  A ‘toboggan’ is a hat, not a snow conveyance.  See pictures for comparison.

A Southern Toboggan

A Northern Toboggan

3.  Country Ham.  Do not ever confuse this with Taylor Ham.  The former is very Southern, very salty, and very popular as a breakfast meat, generally served on a biscuit.  The latter is seldom found outside of New Jersey, and is generally served on a hard roll with egg and cheese.

Country Ham Biscuit

Country Ham Biscuit

Jersey Slider

Taylor Ham, Egg & Cheese on a Hard Roll

4.  Snow Days.  Here in the South, it is customary to close schools, churches and daycare centers if the weatherman says it might snow tomorrow.  I kid you not.  Snowfall in excess of 4″ inches is considered a major storm.  I have seen as much as a foot of snow on the ground here; everything shut down for a week.  I mean EVERYTHING.  No mail.  No banks.  No work.  No school.  I understand that it is not economically feasible for us to have the kind of snow removal equipment that is mandatory up North, but it was quite a culture shock the first couple years I was here.  I can remember sitting in school watching the snow pile up.  They didn’t even CONSIDER closing until there was at least 6 – 8 inches on the ground.  Also, at the first hint of Southern snow, your presence is required at the local grocery store to purchase bread and toilet paper.  It’s a rule.

5.  Clothing.  Growing up, ‘school shopping’ meant buying bulky sweaters, a new coat, wool pants, and the like.  Here, it’s shorts and tank tops.  Up north by mid-September you usually needed a light jacket to wait for the bus in the morning.  The first year I was here, I made the mistake of packing away my summer clothes over Labor Day Weekend.  Ha!  It is not at all unusual to still being wearing shorts well into October.  Last year, we went to the beach in October, and went swimming!  I’ve attended New Year’s Eve parties that were held outside.

6.  Barbeque.  Up North, ‘barbeque’ is an event held in the back yard, where you cook hot dogs, hamburgers, or maybe a steak.  In the South, ‘barbeque’ is a dish made by slow roasting pork (I understand in Texas, it’s beef) in an outdoor oven, seasoned with various sauces or dry rubs.  The sauce or rub depends on your particular region, and can be tomato-based or vinegar based.  A Pig-Pickin’ is a backyard gathering where they serve barbeque made from a whole or half pig which has been cooked overnight and painstakingly sauced and coddled by the chef.  Generally, this is accompanied by coleslaw, watermelon, and a keg (or two!) of beer.    I went to a wedding last month which was followed by a pig pickin’.  The picture below is my boss at the last pig-pickin’ we hosted, in 2007.  Time to have another one (in the fall, when it cools off!)

The Guest of Honor at a Pig Pickin', and the chef.

7.  Chiggers.  Now there’s a scourge that brings to mind words you won’t hear in church.  I never heard of chiggers until I moved south.  You can’t see them. The larvae, which are only about 1/100th inch long, are mites that feed on cell tissues. They don’t suck blood, but, instead, bore holes in the skin and inject enzymes that dissolve cell tissues. They feed on this “soup” from the skin surface. They favor areas where clothing is tight, such as ankles, waistlines, the elastic around the legs of your underwear, use your imagination. Places that REALLY itch.   Strong human immune reactions often force chiggers to leave within minutes, but of course, by then it’s too late. Their bites elicit swelling and intense itching that usually becomes noticeable about 4-8 hours after the attack. Then, you can expect five nights of misery.  Knowing a chigger’s biology, it’s pointless to expect that showering upon return from the woods can stop an outbreak. By then, chiggers have done their dirty deeds and gone. For you at this point it’s simply a matter of survival.  The books say not to scratch. That’s a good one!   While it’s true that scratching will nearly always lead to secondary infections, scratching is impossible to resist.   If you’re into power tools, a rotary wire brush on a Black & Decker might work!

They don't look like much, do they?

I believe they are a major cause of spontaneous insanity

8.  Personal Property Taxes.  This is not ‘Southern’, it’s just North Carolina.  Here, you are required to pay taxes on personal property annually, just like you do on real estate.  Taxable items include cars, boats, trailers, and even your dogs in some jurisdictions.  Every year.  This is in addition to what you pay to register or license them.

9.  Friday night football.  High School football games are held on Friday night, not on Saturday afternoon.  Saturday afternoon is reserved for college football, which is generally televised.  College football is very, very big here.  Professional football, on the other hand, is only followed by relocated Yankees like me.

10.  Language.  We have different words for the same things, and the same words for different things (See ‘toboggan’, above).  Also, words are pronounced differently.  My New Jersey friends tell me I sound southern (I’ve been here for 26 years!), but my Southern friends have informed me that there are certain words that I pronounce ‘Jersey’ that will give me away every time.  Coffee.  Oil.  Fire.  Simple words, but my mouth just will not produce them with an acceptable Southern accent.  Oil and fire have two syllables, not one.  There is a ‘w’ in ‘kawfee’.  The past tense of crank is cranked in New Jersey, not ‘crunk’.  You mash potatoes up north.  In the South, you cream potatoes and mash buttons.  I have discarded ‘youse guys’ in favor of ‘ ya’ll ‘.  It’s just easier, and gender neutral.  ‘Pin’ and ‘pen’ are pronounced the same in the South, so you must precede them with a descriptive adjective so people know which you mean.

Ink Pin

Pig Pin

Safety Pin

Sunday Top Ten List – Least Favorite Household Chores

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I almost forgot to do a Top Ten list today.  I’m not really ‘back in the habit’ of blogging.  Lucky I remembered, or all my hordes of fans (all three of you!) would have been devastated.

Since most of today has been dedicated to housework, I’ve chosen my least favorite chores for today’s list.  Since I’m an empty-nester, I do both the inside and outside chores around here.  Therefore, both are eligible for the list.  I’ve not included home improvement chores like painting.

  1. Rolling up the garden hose.  I have no problem with watering the garden, but I despise rolling up the hose when I’m done.  It’s always wet and muddy and I can’t seem to get the job done without getting mud on my clothes, or my legs if I’m wearing shorts.
  2. Dusting.  I make it a point to not have a lot of bric-a-brac crap around the house, because it’s just something else that needs to be dusted.  My mother was the QUEEN of bric-a-brac.  Every flat surface in her house had some cutesy/hokey ornament on it.  Dusting took her all day.  As for me, you could easily write your name in the dust on most of the flat surfaces in my house.  Just please don’t date it.
  3. Cleaning the ceiling fans.  This goes right along with dusting.  I have ceiling fans in the living room and my bedroom.  They collect dust and cat hair, and it’s impossible to clean them without getting the mess all over the floor/bed/couch.
  4. Cleaning the refrigerator.  I habitually save leftovers, even when there’s only a tiny bit left, telling myself that I’ll use it in soup or take it for lunch or something.  But I never do.  So when the time comes to clean out the fridge, there’s no telling what I might find, and in what state I might find it.  Sometimes, I’ll just toss the container and all.  And will someone please, please tell me how the cat hair gets into the fridge?  Are they cruising in there when I’m not home, looking for bounty?
  5. Cleaning the bathtub.  I have a garden tub and a stall shower in my bathroom.  I use the shower daily.  I almost NEVER use the tub.  I noticed the other day that there were  actual COBWEBS in there.  So today when I vacuumed, I just vacuumed out the tub, too.  Cobwebs and dust.  And a dead spider.
  6. Folding sheets.  I’m not fond of folding ANY of the laundry, but I particularly dislike folding sheets.  Especially the fitted ones – there’s no way those suckers are going to come out anything resembling square.  An irregular polyhedron is the best I can do.  I’ve learned to wash them, dry them, and put them back on the bed.  I do this till they’re worn out, then I buy a new set.
  7. Collecting the trash.  From the bathrooms.  And the bedrooms.  And the den.  And the kitchen.  The laundry room.  Getting it all together, bagged up, and out to the car to take to the ‘convenience center’.  Generally, I can get a week’s worth of garbage into one of those big black bags, which is why I don’t pay $20 a month for once a week pick up.  Then I have to haul it all the way to the curb, in their special cans that they can lift with the lifter thingy on the truck, and then haul the empty can all the way back up to the house.  Keep in mind that my driveway is about a quarter mile long.  PITA.  It’s ever so much easier to only have to take it to the car, then toss it in the compactor when I get to the center.
  8. Emptying the dishwasher.  I hate this job so much that, since my son moved out in November, I haven’t even USED my dishwasher.  It’s easier to just rinse up my couple of dishes by hand, put them in the drainboard to dry, and then use them again the next time I eat.
  9. Cleaning the litter box.  No explanation needed.  I had to have my oldest cat put to sleep last month.  The other two don’t use a litter box – they prefer to go outside to do their business.  So, the litter box has been officially retired.  Good riddance.
  10. Putting away the clean laundry.  I swear, I live off the top of my dresser.  I’ll wash it, dry it, fold it, and carry it into the bedroom.  From there, it gets piled onto the dresser and seldom, if ever, sees the inside of a drawer.  I have no excuse or explanation.  Just a bad habit I got into years ago, and have never been sufficiently motivated to break.

That’s it.  The ten things I’m most likely to not do if I can see a way out of it.

Sunday Top Ten List – sort of

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In keeping with tradition here at MG2, I thought a Sunday Top Ten list would be appropriate.  Just to mix it up a little bit, it’s actually two Sunday Top Five Lists.  Ain’t no difference in no pigeon and no bird (as Coach P was fond of saying).

Top Five Foods I Won’t Eat That Everyone Else Loves

5.  Cilantro.  I read somewhere that this is genetic, and that people who don’t like cilantro think it tastes like soap.  That would be me.  I find even the tiniest little bit of cilantro completely overpowers, and in my opinion ruins, any dish to which it’s been added.

4.  Mango.  Tastes like pine sap.

3.  Watermelon.  Oddly enough, I do like things that are artificially watermelon flavored, like Jolly Rancher candies.  Weird, I know.  Deal with it.

2.  Ranch Dressing.  Just eww.  Blue Cheese for me, whether on a salad or for dipping.  I know people who put Ranch Dressing on Buffalo wings.  That’s just wrong.

1.  Cucumbers.  I do believe that if offered the choice between eating cucumbers or starving, I’d choose to starve.  Most of the time, if I don’t like something I’ll just pick it out, but with cucumbers, even that won’t work.  They leave an after-smell on everything they’ve touched.  I think the main reason I don’t like watermelon is because it smells like cucumbers.

Top Five Foods I Love That Everyone Else Thinks are Gross

5. Beef tongue.  The first time I ever had tongue, I thought I was eating corned beef.  Boiled and sliced on a sandwich, you really can’t tell the difference.  And the price – way lower than corned beef.  Mind over matter people.

4. Liver and onions.  Calves liver, please.  With gravy and French fries.  This is about the only time I think about putting gravy on my fries.

3. Eggplant.  Especially eggplant Parmesan, but even just breaded and fried, dipped in marinara sauce.  Good stuff!

2. Rutabagas.  Mom always called them turnips, but she was wrong.  Two completely different vegetables.  Boiled, mashed with butter and lots and lots of black pepper.  It’s just not Thanksgiving dinner without mashed rutabagas.

1.  Pickled Herring with Sour Cream and Onions.  This is a family thing.  Mom loved it, Sis and I love it.  Robyn’s kids love it.  My kids wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.  Actually, I don’t think they’d touch it with somebody else’s ten-foot pole.

Underhanded

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Sis and I had lunch today at Woody’s Sports Tavern. I mentioned them before in my Favorite Sandwiches post, and honored them with the #1 position on my list of favorites.

Of course, that’s what I had today. My check is below – check it out. Take your time, I’ll wait.

Notice anything flaky about this bill?

I realize that things have changed since the days when we had to chisel our arithmetic homework onto granite slabs, but I’d be willing to bet that $9.50 + $0.74 = $10.24, and not $10.43.

Being somewhat attached to whatever money Uncle Sam and his cronies see fit to leave me after I pay my taxes, I questioned the server about the apparent error on my bill. It turns out that Woody’s has recently started adding a 2% fuel surcharge to all their bills, to cover the additional costs they incur from their food vendors, who are charging them a fuel surcharge.

On the surface, I have no problem with that. I understand that all cost increases are passed along to the consumer – that’s Econ. 101 at it’s finest. What I do have a problem with is them not printing it on the bill. They seem to be operating under the fallacy that their customers can’t handle simple arithmetic, and will never notice that the bill doesn’t add up.

And what really frosted my cookies was that as I was leaving to come back to work, I saw the owner’s (identified by it’s WOODY’S #1 license plate) Cadillac Escalade parked in the lot. Exactly whose fuel costs is the surcharge covering?

Sunday Top Ten List: Gunny’s Choice

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To collect his “prize” for having the correct answer to last week’s contest, Gunny has asked that I put together a list of my Top Ten Favorite Quotes – Celebrity or Political. I have more than ten from just Ronald Reagan alone. Decisions. I hate making decisions.

Here goes …

seuss-big.jpg10. Be who you are and say what you feel. Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter. – Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss)


burt_prelutsky.jpg

9. To suggest that combatants who fight without a flag or a uniform; who wipe their feet on the Geneva Convention; who disguise themselves as women; who hide in mosques and marketplaces; who slice off the heads of their prisoners; and who use children as shields; are entitled to the same safeguards as soldiers is sheer lunacy. – Burt Prelutsky


reagan.jpg8. The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant: It’s just that they know so much that isn’t so. – Ronald Reagan


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7. I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of women were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war. I will close by saying, God bless the women of America! – Abraham Lincoln


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6. We didn’t lose Vietnam. We quit Vietnam.Alexander Haig


kdt.jpg5. Our Bill of Rights is not negotiable. Not one single word, not ever. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the range. – Kim Du Toit*


arnold8335.jpg4. As long as I live, I will never forget that day 21 years ago when I raised my hand and took the oath of citizenship. Do you know how proud I was? I was so proud that I walked around with an American flag around my shoulders all day long.Arnold Schwarzenegger


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3. …when we draw lines in the sand with regard to certain basic things that are vital to our interest and to the interest of democracy and our friends around the world, we have to be willing to back that up. – Fred Thompson


theodoreroosevelt.jpg2. In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag. .. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room forgeoprentice.jpg but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people. – Theodore Roosevelt


1. What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn’t much better than tedious disease. – George Dennison Prentice


nor600.jpg* I wasn’t able to find a picture of the esteemed Mr. Du Toit; however, if you click on the picture of the T-shirt with his quote on it, you will be taken to the website where they are for sale.

UPDATE 05/23 – I found a picture of Kim and posted it above, but here’s the link to the shirt, nonetheless.

We Have a Winner, Folks!

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Gunny from Jarhead’s Firing Range  has answered Sunday’s contest question correctly, and has won the dubious honor of naming a blog topic or Sunday Top Ten topic for me.  I’ve sent him an e-mail and I await his pleasure.  Congrats, Gunny!

Sunday Top Ten List: A Contest

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Something a little different this week, folks. Below, I’ve listed the titles of ten popular songs, and linked each one to it’s lyrics.

There is a theme here. These songs have something in common. The first reader to determine the common thread and post it in the comments section will win the privilege of naming the topic of my next post, or my next Sunday Top Ten List (winner’s choice).

Sean, you and Lillian are disqualified, because you helped me with the list and you already know the answer.

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