how not to sound like you’re not from here

“You don’t sound like you’re from here.” I get this a lot. I open my mouth, and my squarish accent betrays my Midwestern upbringing. I’d try to speak more Southern, but the fact is I can’t/won’t. The dialect is far too pretty and wonderfully varied throughout Mississippi, and I’d hate to do it an injustice.

The above stated, there are ways to lessen your squarishness, if you’re like me. Let’s begin with basic courtesies. Ma’am is square one. If I’m running errands and a woman helps me, I always say, “Thank you, ma’am.” Always. In Chicago, to address a woman as ma’am means she’s old, and I always wince when I’m called ma’am. In the South, it’s a sign of respect.

In Mississippi, there are correct pronunciations for city/county/street names, so follow me on this:

  • Biloxi is buh-luck-see.
  • Lafayette is luh-fye-yet.
  • Starkville is stark-vull. Any city that ends with “ville” is pronounced “vull.”
  • Amite is am-mitt.

In the Midwest, any summer backyard gathering that involves grilling meat is called a BBQ, but that isn’t the case here. Barbecue is a food science and practiced differently, depending on what part of the South you’re in.

This next difference I really love. If someone does something really nice for you in the South, you say, “I appreciate you.” It’s a wonderfully personal way to express one’s gratitude. And with this biscuit/post, I should say I appreciate you, blog readers of mine.

give me tacos

I was hungry. Not exactly hangry, but could use a bite to eat. Tacos, I was thinking. I knew where to head after a day of exploring Saint Petersburg. Over the bridge and back to Empamamas in the Tampa Heights neighborhood. This sign had me at Roses Are Red.

Empamamas Armature Works Tampa Heights Florida

What makes a great taco? In my opinion, it needs a proper foundation (foundation as in tortilla), and flour just doesn’t cut it. Too soggy, too limp. The tortilla has to be corn, and Empamamas checked that box. Deliciously cooked proteins. Empamamas checked that box as well. Add to the above fresh vegetables, pico, and street corn, and my meal/day was made. Give me tacos. The end.

the gestalt gardener

I’m a sucker for great public radio programming, and Mississippi Public Broadcasting does not disappoint. My favorite show, if I had to pick one, is The Gestalt Gardener–a 60-minute call-in show about plants, flowers, trees, landscaping, you name it–with Felder Rushing.

Each week, Felder fields questions from all over the state, with a few inquiries from neighboring states mixed in for good measure. And he always offers incisive, thoughtful feedback. I’ve learned oodles as a listener and newbie gardener. To listen to archives of this show, hop on over here. You and your garden can thank me later.

clang clang clang went the trolley

Last day in #Tampa and it’s been a fun visit. My friend Audrey and I took a trolley yesterday from downtown to Historic Ybor City for dinner.

Tampa Florida trolley Ybor City

The trolleys are free and easy to board. Also tidy, broom swept clean.

Although you can’t take a trolley to Armature Works in the Tampa Heights neighborhood, this is well worth the trip. It’s a 73,000 square foot streetcar warehouse that has been reimagined and repurposed as a mixed-use center and restaurant marketplace. The space is massive and thoughtfully designed. Good stuff.

Armature Works Tampa Heights Florida

the florida botanical gardens in largo

Places I could easily fritter away hours: garden centers and botanical gardens, seriously. The Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo are pretty neat-o.

A beautiful selection of camellias (thoroughly smitten with this shade of pink):

Camellia Florida Botanical Gardens Largo Florida

The Princess Flower from Brazil. Crazy-cool stamens on this flower.

Princess Flower Florida Botanical Gardens Largo Florida

And then this pale orange hued hibiscus. To spend a life surrounded by flowers is a pretty enviable one.

Hibiscus Florida Botanical Gardens Largo Florida

sunny side up

One of my dearest friends invited me to come hang out in #Florida for a couple days, so I got in my little car and headed south and east. The drive from Jackson to the Sunshine State is a bit long (about 11 hours), but the experiences and sights are pretty interesting.

Got brunch at Shore in #Sarasota, and it’s impossible to go wrong with a sunny-side up egg, avocado, and tomato sandwich.

Shore Restaurant Sarasota Florida

Stood under some beautiful Spanish moss.

Spanish moss Sarasota Florida

Also stopped at Bradenton Beach, and the sand is powdery soft. This little guy didn’t seem to mind us taking photos. Life’s a beach.

Egret Bradenton Beach Bradenton Florida

old balance due road

If I told you that Lexington, #Mississippi, has a road called Old Balance Due, would you believe me? Believe.

Old Balance Due Road Lexington Mississippi Deep South

I was hustling up to Greenwood last May to interview some members and spotted this sign. Had to stop and take a photo. The person responsible for naming the streets in Lexington must have had a wry sense of humor, or perhaps there is debtor on Old Balance Due who needs to pay up.