Category Archives: The ‘Hood

I’m a (Dancing) Pepper

Hello, my name is Joell, and I am a Diet Dr. Pepper addict.

Around here, we just call it by its real name—crack.


How does my man show his love for me?

He brings me home a 2 liter of DDP. Yes, that works as a bribe for most anything. He’s a keeper, for sure.

Why do I love that liquid gold so? It’s hard to say. It could be that it is so good that you can’t tell the difference between DDP and the real thing. That way, I feel like I am getting all the good/bad stuff  (whichever) without drinking the fully leaded DP. Or maybe it’s how that CO2 bubbles up and tickles my nose.

I don’t know, but I do know that I love it more than Southern sweet iced tea, and, people, that is mother’s milk down here. I love it more than coffee. And I love my coffee a lot, y’all.

If I need to sponsor a 12-step program, let me know, because to be sure I can’t be the only one.

Wait a minute, better just scratch that, I don’t think I’m quite ready to kick the habit just yet. Maybe the fact that Mama doesn’t share her DDP—with anyone—confirms that fact. Okay, so I am not going to be your go-to person for that, after all. How about just a DDP lovers club?

In other news, I would like to give a little public service announcement encouraging the pastime of dancing (badly) in the kitchen to 80s music whilst preparing dinner. Hopefully, your children have friends over and you can embarrass them. If not, at least your children can make fun of you and you can all have a good laugh. And while they are there in the kitchen, they can become educated in the awesomeness of the 80s,  help cook dinner and unload the dishwasher as punishment! Next thing you know, BAM, you’re making memories! Score one for Mama!

And by the way, as you celebrate Independence Day, please do think of my poor, (11 year old) puppy, Jiffy, because over the next few days, there will be heart attacks galore. Down here in South Carolina, where fireworks are legal, people don’t really need a holiday to shoot off fireworks. It could be February 5th or October 10th—no matter—one day is as good as any other. So, when they actually do have a reason, well, they go all kinds of crazy. And therefore, so does my dog. The 4th of July is more of a week-long fireworks bonanza in my ‘hood, rather than a one night only performance. As I type, the Jiffster is running around like the Tasmanian Devil, barking her fool head off. Poor kid.

Well, Happy 4th of July, y’all!

And don’t forget to dance in the kitchen!

“There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.”  ~Edwin Denby


Filed under Family, Humor, Jiffy, Random Silliness, The 'Hood

Love Thy Neighbor?

The mystery has deepened…in more ways than one.

My next door neighbors, who I have written about on a few occasions, have been mysteriously absent recently. We are not especially close, though not intentionally distant. We just don’t talk, or see each other outside the house very often or have very much in common, really. We are busy. We aren’t Facebook friends. We are, what I call, “Hey” neighbors. We wave and say hey on the rare occasion that we actually do happen to see each other.

It is easy to notice when they are gone, because their gaggle of adorable boys is conspicuously missing from our yards—ours and theirs.

I had noticed their absence a couple of weeks ago and did not think a whole lot of it. I figured maybe they were on a vacation; it is summer after all, y’all. But it did make me go, “hmm” because they rarely take vacations.

And then I promptly moved on with my day.

After a few days, they were back—with a trailer that had some little-boy-looking furniture on it, though it was hard to tell whether said furniture was coming or going. And I did not ask. The same day, their third youngest boy stopped his bike in front of our mailbox and said to us as we were headed out to see Madagascar 3 (cute movie, by the way), “We are moving tomorrow.”

What? Um, okay. See ya later.

We took it with a grain of salt, of course, as the news was brought forth by a 5 year old who has been known to say in the past “we are moving”, which really meant “we are going to Virginia to visit our aunt for a week.”

The next day, Emma said she saw one of the older boys loading a suitcase into the back of the car where there were also some boxes. Hmm. Maybe they really are moving, after all?

Fast forward a few days, and the neighbors are, in fact, gone from the house, though it doesn’t appear that they are totally gone, as there are still potted plants out front and playthings scattered in the backyard.

I headed out to a ladies’ book club a couple of nights later, to which I had been invited by a fellow homeschooling mom slash new friend. It was a small group of ladies, the majority of whom I had never met and so the typical questions ensued. Where do you live? Where do you go to church? How old are your kids?

It came up in the convo that a couple of the gals at this gathering attend a particular local church—where my neighbor happens to be the associate pastor. I shared that their associate pastor is my next door neighbor. They proceeded to make the “isn’t it just too bad about…” face. When they saw my obvious confusion, I was told that my neighbor’s mother had passed away very recently.

Heavy sigh.

Their absence was starting to make sense now. And then I felt terrible for them—and for not knowing.

But that still left the “we’re moving tomorrow” mystery.

In response to that, the ladies told me that my neighbors were had moved in with the now widowed father who lived in a nearby town.  Which explained why there weren’t totally moved out.


And ouch.

I had a sudden guilt-and-shame attack for saying a few days previously, “Well, if they are, in fact, moving, I sure do hope they make sure to take their cats with them so they will stop scratching up my car and using my flower bed as their litter box!”

Yikes! The woman who professes to making friends with the lamp post can’t reach out to her neighbor and grow a relationship there? I can chat it up in line at the Piggly Wiggly or when I am at jury duty, but I don’t know that my very next door neighbor’s mother has just died? Why didn’t I know this? Jesus would have known if He had been living next door.

Am I really not so friendly after all? Am I afraid to go deeper in relationships? If so, what is up with that? And what is my behavior teaching my kids? What do I know about love, anyway?

Clearly, I have a lot to learn.

I know the world does not revolve around me and my family, but sometimes it would seem I don’t always live my life that way.

I have a lot to learn about love and selflessness and relationships.

I hope and pray that I can catch the neighbors if and when they come back to collect some more of their belongings, so that I can have the opportunity to share my condolences and offer to help them in some way. And to show them the love they deserve.

Perhaps a little life application of that Love Thy Neighbor thing is fitting. And that, my friends, is not so much of a mystery.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~Matthew 22:34-40


Filed under Faith, Lessons, The 'Hood

Fun at the Four-Way

So yesterday, I got cursed out by an old dude driving a truck. Ironically, he looked a good bit like Santa.

Things that make you go, “Hmm.”

I know! It was rather disturbing.

According to Emma, this seems to happen at regular intervals. Really? I guess I hadn’t really kept count. She reminded me that I had been flipped off and/or sworn at before. At the four-way stop.

Oh, the accursed four-way stop!

Four-way stop

Photo via 9GAG

South Carolina, in my personal experience, is (in)famous for their four-way stops. I find them kind of annoying and feel that there are just way too many of them. Are the DOT people just too lazy to put in a stop light? Or is it because they are too cheap? It’s hard to say. But it seems to me like everyone is sitting there at their own personal stop sign, waiting for the next person to go.

You go. No, really, you go. Okay, I’m going. Wait. No, YOU go….It’s like some weird game of chicken. Only no one seems to know the rules.

Except me. <wink>

Yesterday, at one of our most famous four-ways here in Cackalacky, I was under the impression that it was my turn to go, but apparently the old dude in the big honkin’ Ford F-350 disagreed. So, as he blew on through the intersection he shook his head at me and mouthed some ugly words…yes, I could tell what he said, though I won’t repeat it here. Ford F-350 trumps The Edge every time, so I gladly allowed him to go on his not-so merry way.

I just want to know why people are so uptight and cranky. And what is their hurry?? I tell my kids all the time, you are NEVER in so much of a hurry that you need to drive like <insert your favorite NASCAR driver’s name here—I usually go with Dale Earnhardt for some reason, which is not good, because, bless his heart, he is no longer with us>…that is, unless you have a pregnant woman about to give birth or someone bleeding profusely in your car, in which case you should have called 911 anyway. So again, there is no need to drive like a bat out of hell. Slow Down, People!


What have we learned here? 1. Four-way stops are dumb. 2. Be very suspicious of old Santa-looking dudes who drive big honkin’ trucks.

Moving on.

December rolls crazily along here. I am looking very much forward to the break (Come on, December 16th!) where we can relax and enjoy the sights, the sounds and the joys of the season and celebrate Jesus and family. Meanwhile, we try to finish up school work, scurry to band concerts, get the tree up and finish our shopping.

I am thankful for every bit of it!

“Tradition: sit with husband in a room lit only by tree lights and remember that our blessings outnumber the lights.  Happy Christmas to all.”  ~Betsy Cañas Garmon,


Filed under Random Silliness, The 'Hood