Thursday, July 11, 2019

**GRIOT** Devil Beating His Wife

Being the child and grandchild of Southerners, I grew up hearing a lot of odd phrases. To be honest, my relatives just talked plain funny. They had weird phrases and they painted the English language with a beautiful array of colors. My people used language in their own way, just as they put a unique spin on living life.

my mother in her late 20's-early 30's (?)
 For the longest time, I thought that only my mother said things like "You don't believe fat meat's greasy". That was for when I was being warned that my misbehaving was about to get me a whooping. Modern mothers threaten to start counting to ten, my mom had more colorful ways of warning me.

 While a lot of the phrases I heard had to do with consequences of my behavior (for instance, my butt was constantly in debt from all the checks my mouth wrote), there were some to go with everything from the weather to someone being sick.

I remember whenever it rained while the sun was shining, my mother would say that the Devil was beating his wife. I was surprised to learn just now how commonly that saying is used - and in a lot of cultures. I'm going to have to go take a closer look at that website.
one of the aunties

When my Yankee friends were "about to" do something, I was "fixing to". When Yanks were not paying you any attention, I wasn't "studdin" (or studying) you. You might be going to Heaven, but I'm going up "yonder". We also go over yonder, back yonder, or way yonder.

I'm not sure if this one is Southern or not, but where others might say someone had you wrapped around their finger, we'd say that they had your nose wide open. Another way to put that is to say that someone has your drawers (underpants) hanging on a bedpost. That, I think, had something to do with voodoo (or "hoodoo"). Another one from the voodoo files is to say that someone must have "worked a root" on you.

an uncle with a church group
Maybe right here is where I can get into my Big Mama's fear of all things pagan. Big Mama wouldn't eat food if she didn't know who cooked it. If she didn't know you, she wouldn't eat your food unless she had watched you prepare it. Why? Cause she was scared of hoodoo. For that same reason, she never left her comb or hairbrush laying around where just anybody could get to it. As Christian as she was (which is why she didn't like voodoo/hoodoo), she wasn't ashamed of her superstitions. She was one of those people who, after accidentally spilling salt, would toss some over her shoulder. Yes, my Bible-believing grandmother could be so unconsciously paranoid that it was kind of hilarious.

 These are some random photos from an old
photo album of my mother's

I don't know most of the people except that they are aunts, uncles, extended cousins, or 
very close family friends.

 I thought it would be cool for my younger nieces & nephews to see these photos. I just now started posting links to this blog of Facebook because that's where the kids hang out!

 I love the hair & clothing fashion of the '30s, '40s, and '50s.

Maybe because of their cultural ancestry, or maybe just because they were very practical and thrifty people, my relatives even dealt with health issues in their own ways. I've already talked a lot about my grandmother using asafetida poultices to deal with chest colds. I suppose there's a reason 'fetid' is in the name, but I just learned another thing: that asafetida gets its name from being funky. Wow,. At any rate, my mother never tortured me or my siblings with it but our Big Mama made up for it by giving us daily tablespoons of Castor oil. You might want to throw up every morning after your dose of oil but you were never constipated around Big Mama.

On my mother's side of the family, it was less about the countrified 'slanguage' and more about the Texan lifestyle. Where back in Hope, Arkansas where our Big Mama took us fishing with worms for bait, my West Texan grandfather let us enjoy his walnut and pecan trees. My mother would make homemade, fresh-churned ice-cream right in the front yard of Grandaddy Bud's house. Back in Arkansas, we ate bacon from pigs my grandmother's husband, Mr. Brown owned. We had fresh eggs and meat from his chickens.  In Texas, we ate peaches and apples and crab apples fresh off Granddaddy Bud's trees.

My granddaddy Bud always owned a pickup truck of some kind. My cousins and I would ride in the back while he went around to different homestead's taking care of business and sharing the goods from his trees. I remember one time when he took us on a long ride out "in the country" and showed us fields of cotton ready to be harvested. He told us to ask our mothers about their time spent picking cotton as kids. My mother told me that it was one of the ways she and her cousins made money as young girls. They would spend hours in the field, filling bag after bag with the cotton. I was absolutely horrified, but my mother had good memories of the time spent with her cousins and friends out in those fields. Even though she explained to me that there was a difference between being forced to pick cotton and being given a choice to get paid for doing it... I never could handle it. Years later, when I went through my stage of being a junior revolutionary and idolizing Newton and Seale for being bravely defiant, I would just cringe when I thought of my mother picking cotton.

Back when I was young, church and religion was a different experience depending on which grandparent I was visiting. My dad's mom (Big Mama) was deeply religious but didn't attend church on a regular basis. Nevertheless, if there was a heavy storm, she made everyone (kids and adults) get still and quiet. If there was any lightning or thunder involved, well, forget doing anything but taking a nap. You weren't going to disrespect the Lord in Big Mama's house by doing much of anything until the storm passed. To this day, during a heavy storm, I will sit my tail down and try to be still until the weather calms down. Unlike Big Mama, I don't go around unplugging everything, but I'm not trying to party down.

I didn't realize it until I was writing this post, but apparently, I carry a lot of my recent ancestors around in my behavior. Yesterday, I was cooking some sausage in my new cast iron and I flashed back on my mother standing in front of the stove, cooking something in her cast iron. I understand that people we love don't go ever completely away. They are in our memories of them. They are in the lingering memory of their touch or the sound of their laughter. They are here with us in the ways they affected us, changed us, or made us love them.


For the video pick, I think this one is just about perfect.