Spanish moss attracts more than just Southerners

There I was, standing in the checkout line at WalMart in Bend, OR.

I looked like a Creole doomsday prepper with a grocery cart full of canned goods; mostly black-eyed peas and French cut green beans. I live in the sticks. When you live way out of town, you have to stock up on certain necessities – my household is never without black-eyed peas.

We do silly things sometimes when we miss home. | StayingSouthern.net

Spanish moss is a perennial epiphytic herb. It is not Spanish, nor a moss, but a flowering plant.

Two checkout lanes over to my left, I saw a woman about my age. In her cart, I spotted a MiracleGro package that said, clear as day, “SPANISH MOSS.”

My heart stopped.

My thoughts began to swirl:

She must be from the South.

Only someone who is desperately homesick for the South would try to grow Spanish moss in this high desert climate. Maybe I should try it in my garden this year.

She looks really happy and smiley. And she’s curled her hair and wearing a lot of eyeliner. Yep. Definitely a Southerner.

She probably just moved here from South Carolina and misses home.

We do silly things sometimes when we miss home. | StayingSouthern.net

(janeluriephotography.wordpress.com)

Hmmm. She might not be very bright if she plans on hanging Spanish moss from Ponderosa pines. I won’t hold that against her. We do silly things sometimes when we miss home.

And boy, do we.

I heaved my cart full of canned goods out of line and pushed it over to the woman.

“Excuse me, miss?” I said.

She interpreted my salutation as a request to get out of my way. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said as she began to wheel her cart backwards.

“I am just wondering… Are you trying to grow Spanish moss here?” I asked.

She worked for a daycare and this week’s craft project was constructing fairy houses. Apparently, fairies have roofs made of Spanish moss. They must be Southern, too.

“Oh,” I said.

I retreated back to my checkout lane.

It’s true – we do silly things sometimes when we miss home, like approach strangers in WalMart. But in my defense, in the South, asking a complete stranger about their gardening plans is perfectly acceptable. Southerners go on living like they are in the South, even if they’re not.

We do silly things sometimes when we miss home. | StayingSouthern.netMy attempt to find a kindred Southerner may have been thwarted, but it won’t stop me from being just as friendly in the future. It also won’t deter me from possibly building some small, Spanish moss-covered houses to attract Southern fairies.

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Transplant Profile: Kera in Illinois

 

Nothing makes you appreciate being a Southerner like living outside the South. Spend any significant length of time away from home and you’ll find yourself attempting to master every classic Southern recipe and being friendlier than ever. And, you’ll learn to appreciate the simple things when you do get back home – like egrets and Raising Canes. Just ask Kera.

StayingSouthern.net | Transplant Profile: Kera shares her take on being Southern and what she does to feel at home wherever she is.Name: Kera Simon Brossette (pronounced “See-maw” “Bro-say” in Louisiana and no where else)

Born: Kaplan, Louisiana

Occupation: Communication Specialist for the county health department

I currently live in: Bloomington, Illinois

When I go back to the South: I look out of the window a lot more than when I grew up there. I find myself getting excited to see an egret. Those creatures I grew up dodging as a teenager driving on my way from school are somewhat weird and foreign to me now, and I hate that. These little things that I took for granted when I was young are so special to me now, more than they’ve ever been. Spanish moss hanging from the trees, sunlight gleaming off the crawfish ponds and rice fields, the smell of crawfish boiling, pulling up at a gas station and ordering boudin– it’s the little things.

When I go back, I always: Stop at Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers first (and will schedule driving stops around the nearest Raising Cane’s).

I miss: Meeting a person for the first time, and then hugging them when you leave!

Being Southern has helped me: Connect with people on a human level. I’m an open book, and I show my faults mostly through humor, because that’s the only way I know how. I’m also honest with people and show sincerity — that’s how I was raised to find a friend in everyone.

Morsel of wisdom to other Transplant Southerners: Learn how to cook the meals you grew up loving! There will be some trials, some errors, and some big fat failures. But, when you finally get it right, it’s all so worth it! Plus, it will help you keep your sanity when your Southern friends post all of their meal pictures on social media.

Would you or someone you know be a great candidate for a Transplant Profile? Contact us!

Read last week’s Transplant Profile here

Dear Miss L’Anne: I’m 30, single and my dating pool is a puddle.

Dear Miss L'Anne: I'm 30, single and my dating pool is a puddle.Dear Miss L’Anne,

I’m a 30-year-old female living in a major city in the Midwest. I feel like I sound full of myself when I say this, but for the sake of the question I need to tell you that I have a great job, I live in a nice apartment, I volunteer, I’m active and I have an easy-going attitude. I’m attracted to a man with a good sense of humor and values. Here’s my problem: I cannot get a date. I have tried going to the bar, the gym, church and joining clubs. But I can’t meet a good quality guy. All my girlfriends are getting married while my dating pool is drying up. Any advice?

Single in the Midwest

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Dear Single in the Midwest,

It’s a real blessing that so many things in your life are stable – your job, living situation, and you seem like a happy, giving person! That is good.

It must be difficult to be around your girlfriends who are getting married, while you see no one on the horizon for you. You think there isn’t anything you can do to make that situation change, even when you try your best to meet someone. And that is true.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “How much of human life is lost in waiting.” When we keep looking for what we think we want, we lose sight of what is right in front of us.

Spending a little time making a plan of things you would like to do now, while you are single, is good. Get ideas by asking married friends what they miss about being single. Do you want to travel? Take some courses? Volunteer in another part of the world or in your hometown? Learn another language? What other ideas do you have? Pick one and work on making it happen. You have freedom to do so many things.

Yes, being single is sometimes hard, but so is being married. The key to life is to become the best person you can be today. Every day is filled with moments to work at becoming a better person. When you are living your life, sometimes Mr. Right shows up where you are. And if he doesn’t, you are living a full life, becoming your best happy self.

Miss L’Anne

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Do you have a question for a tried and true Southern lady? Ask Miss L’Anne via the contact page. She knows everything there is to know about everything. Seriously.

Cascade Zydeco – Portland, OR & Vancouver, WA

(Cascade Zydeco Facebook)

(Cascade Zydeco Facebook)

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, get ready to smile.

Cascade Zydeco is a non-profit association dedicated to bringing zydeco and Cajun music and dance to the Northwest by sponsoring dances with live bands, lessons and special events.

CZ hosts weekly Cajun and zydeco dances and lessons in Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA.

No dance experience? Don’t worry, they say if you’re smiling, you’re doing it right.

Here’s the scoop:

(Cascade Zydeco Facebook)

(Cascade Zydeco Facebook)

What: Basic zydeco lessons
When: Lessons start at 7:15 p.m. with CD dancing from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. (when there is no live band)
Cost: $6 general public, $4 CZ members
Where: First Wednesdays at Alberta Street Pub, 1036 NE Alberta Street in Portland, Oregon
Second and Fifth Wednesdays at Polish Hall, 3832 N Interstate Ave in Portland, Oregon

Check out Vancouver Zydeco Sundays at the Silver Star Saloon, 6718 Northeast 4th Plain Road in Vancouver, WA.

Vancouver Zydeco is a casual evening of zydeco dancing from 7 – 9 p.m. every Sunday. Lessons for beginners are available on request. Admission is free!

“Like” Cascade Zydeco on Facebook for all their upcoming events.

 

L’Angelus On Tour

It was a complete accident that I saw this band at the Oyster Ridge Music Festival in Kemmerer, WY a few years ago. Watch the embedded video below and you’ll understand how happy I was to stumble upon L’Angelus (pronounced LAWN JAY LOOSE). Their music brings swampy Cajun flavor to even the most arid parts of the world.

They’ve even opened for the Pope. Yes, they are THAT cool.

This band of brothers and sisters hail from Lafayette, Louisiana, which explains the number of tour dates at Catholic venues. Even if you’re not religious, seeing this band live will be a religious experience – it’s that fun and they’re that good.

Here are some upcoming tour dates that “out of pocket” Southerners can enjoy. Don’t fret if you don’t see your city – they tour far and wide and often. Check out their Facebook page for the latest news.

April 25 – David Foster Foundation Theater – Victoria, Canada 
April 26 – David Foster Foundation Theater – Victoria, Canada
May 3 – St. John’s Festival – Indianapolis, IN
July 12 – Byzantine Catholic Youth Conference – Emmitsburg, MD
August 1- Midwest Catholic Family Conference – Wichita, KS

How to Write a Thank You Note (and why you should)

In this era, steeped in technology, it’s hard to sit down and hand-write a thank-you note when sending a text, tweet or email is so much easier.

Those forms of thank-yous might be immediate, but they’re hardly as personal as a penned note in the mail.

My mother and her sister exchange thank-you notes practically every day, even though they live less than a mile away from each other. They write cards to one another for things as simple as a good chat during a power-walk around the neighborhood or bringing a quiche to Sunday brunch.

It’s easy to feel like thank you notes are wasted on those who don’t write them at all. But, it’s been my experience that showing appreciation is never lost on anyone.

A thank-you note is a tangible experience. Think about it: what do you do when you see an envelope that isn’t a bill or a pre-approved credit card? You smile. You enjoy the feel of the unincorporated envelope and the hand-written address. Then, you open it… and smile again.

A quality thank-you note should read like this:

Dear _________ ,

1. An expression of gratitude for the kindness/gift/presence.
2. How thoughtful it was/how much it was appreciated.
3.  A mention of the future: When you will be seeing each other again and how lovely it will be.
4. Another brief expression of appreciation, closing salutations and the author’s signed name.

Send one of these and people will remember you for the lengths you go to express your gratefulness. The thank you note is possibly the easiest way to create a positive, lasting impression on anyone.

Good manners and gratitude know no zip codes. So keep on writing, because nothing makes a person feel appreciated like receiving a hand-written piece of mail, sent just to say “thank you.”

(Image Source: Pinterest)

(Image Source: Pinterest)

Live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you no one would believe it. – Unknown

SPOTTED: Zydeco Kitchen – Bend, OR

(zydecokitchen.com)

(zydecokitchen.com)

Zydeco Kitchen
919 NW Bond Street
Bend, OR 97701
(541) 312-2899

This downtown hotspot in Bend, OR has authentic Cajun nuances that a Southerner can appreciate when far from home.

(zydecokitchen.com)

(zydecokitchen.com)

If you’re around for lunch, consider the Potato Chip Crusted Wahoo Sandwich. It’s a sort of an Oregonian take on a catfish poboy. The tarragon remoulade is like heaven in a ramekin and the sandwich is served with a delightful couscous salad on the side.

Zydeco has an extensive cocktail and dinner menu as well.

Champaign Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival – Champagne, IL

Attention Midwesterners!

Mark your calendars for the 2014 Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival, June 27th and 28th in Downtown Champaign, IL.

If you can’t make it home to the South this summer, this festival promises to be an exemplary substitute. 

The music starts at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, with singer, Creole zydeco accordion player and Louisiana native, Rosie Ledet. Enjoy the festival all day Saturday, but be sure to stick around for blues musician Albert Cummings rocking the evening crowd just before the illustrious Buckwheat Zydeco takes the stage until midnight.

And get this — this event is FREE. An optional donation of $5 to support the festival is solicited at the gate.

Get all the latest information at the festival’s Facebook page.

Dear Miss L’Anne: My in-laws call me by the wrong name… help!

Dear Ms. L’Anne,

My new in-laws keep calling me the wrong name by accident. I don’t think they mean to, and the name they call me is really close to my actual name, but it’s definitely not my name. I try not to be offended, but it’s getting old. What should I do?

Susie in Eden Prairie, Minnesota

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Dear Susie,

It must be very awkward to have your in-laws call you by the wrong name, and you are doing the exact right thing in trying not to be offended.  You are beginning to build a lifelong relationship and choosing not to embarrass your new in-laws is the kind and gracious thing a young Southern lady would do.

Having been on the receiving end of many mispronunciations of my name, I’ve learned that people have a difficult time correcting a name they have often used incorrectly. If you can determine why your new family might be calling you the wrong name, it may give you more patience and enable you to find an indirect way to help them learn your name.

One way to do this is to engage your husband in a plan to use your name often when talking or writing to his parents, instead of using “we” or “she,” say “Susie.”  Over time, your problem may be solved with no embarrassment on either side.   In the long run, you will not have to groan inwardly when you remember that you embarrassed your in-laws early in your marriage and they will not have to remember that you had to correct them about your name.

Remember that kindness and grace encourage good relationships.

Miss L’Anne

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Do you have a question for a tried and true Southern lady? Ask Miss L’Anne via the contact page. She knows everything there is to know about everything. Seriously.

Transplant Profile – Lauren in Washington, D.C.

Family comes first for most Southerners. Whether it’s pitching in around the house or enjoying a meal and a glass of sweet tea together, time spent with family becomes invaluable when it doesn’t happen every day. That’s just one of many things Lauren has learned as a Southerner living in Washington D.C.

It's all about spending time with family when Lauren goes home to Louisiana.

It’s all about spending time with family when Lauren goes home to Louisiana.

Born: Hampton, Virginia, but due to my Dad’s military career we lived all over!

Occupation: Public Relations Executive

I currently live in: Washington, D.C.

When I go back, I visit: Louisiana is home because that is where the majority of my extended family lives and where I spent my college years. When I go back to visit, it’s all about seeing family and spending time with them since I don’t get to see them as often as I would like. I like taking my younger cousins to the movies, doing my Maw Maw’s grocery shopping for her, watching the news with my Pops every night, or driving out to the casino with my aunts and uncles for a little boot scootin’.

When I go back, I always:
Over-eat. It’s true – women of the South just know how to cook really, really well. I probably over-drink, too; Maw Maw makes the best sweet tea and my uncles love a good totty.

I miss: So much about the South! The generosity and kindness of strangers, the slow-paced lifestyle, the Southern men and their jacked up trucks! I was home over Thanksgiving last year and I forgot how nice it was to see a sky full of stars. You don’t see that very often with all the city lights reflecting off their buildings.

Being Southern has helped me: To appreciate finding joy in the little things. When someone holds the door open for me at the local Starbucks (even if it was an accident), I appreciate that so much more than the next person who never grew up with that as the norm.

 Morsel of wisdom to other Southerners living outside the South: People outside of the South and the military don’t like to be referred to as “ma’am” and “sir” but that doesn’t mean you should forget your manners. Make it a point to get back to the South at least once a year. Even if you don’t have family to visit, just do it.  It will be refreshing, rejuvenating and will give you the time you need to just relax.

Would you or someone you know be a great candidate for a Transplant Profile? Contact us!

(Image Source: Pinterest)

You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try.
– Dolly Parton

Dolly_smile

(Image Source: Pinterest)

Smile! It increases your face value.
– Dolly Parton as Truvy in Steel Magnolias

Image Source: masonjarsandsoutherncharm.tumblr.com

Charm is a glow within a woman that casts a most becoming light on others.
– John Mason Brown, American drama critic and author