How’s your momma and nem

While residing in the Sunshine State, I longed for the simple life of the rural south. My fondest childhood memories are of those simple pleasures: watching the fireflies dance in the moonlight between the tear drop leaves of a weeping willow, the feel of watermelon dripping down my chin on a hot summer day by the glistening lake, and the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from being waved at by a complete stranger. I felt my escape from Yankee land would be my salvation.

Upon returning to my roots in Alabama after two years in the giant rodent and Yankee-infested Florida, I was relieved and shocked. Yes, I said shocked. Despite the fact that my absence was brief, I had apparently forgotten some of the idiosyncrasies of this rural wonderland. Memories are often like that: we remember the past fondly and only the most desirable aspects of our lives long ago.

It has been many moons since I have resided in Sardis, AL. The close and observant neighborhood seems like a foreign land to me now. Everyone knows everyone’s business. If someone does not already know your business, that community member becomes upset that he/she has been left out of the loop.

To those of you who have never left this quaint and charming area–let me explain. In a giant apartment complex in Florida, I only knew one neighbor, and I knew her when I got there. I did not know what went on inside my neighbors’ homes, where they worked, or even their names. People just aren’t that interested in one another in larger cities. Now, I find that people I don’t know apparently know me.

These people also know details about my life. My first experience with this was at the local water board. What I expected was to go in, give the people pertinent information about myself, pay a hook-up fee, and leave. What I experienced was very different indeed. I enter very business-like and in a hurry. I requested the water at my new address be put in my name. The following conversation occurred.

Water Board lady: “What is your street address, darling?”

Me: (address given)

Lady: “I thought your brother lived there.”

Me: “He did.”

Lady: “I seen ya’ll been doing some work on the place.”

Me: “Yes.”

Lady: “I think I heard something about your brother moving to the valley.”

Me: “Yes.”

Lady: “How’s your Momma and nem?”

Me: “Doin’ well.”

Lady: “Tell James that he needs to come get his deposit back.”

Me: “Sure thing.”

Lady: “Unless, he wants me to keep the $50.”

This is only part of a very long and somewhat one-sided conversation that eventually discussed my brother being single and making a good living. Did I mention that I have no idea who this person is? This is only one incident of my culture shock. Everyone–and I do mean everyone–knows we painted our house. I will go to the local store and be asked how the house is coming along by people that I have not talked to in years or do not know at all. I have apparently become entertainment for the community.

My slow but sure transition back into small town life does not end there. Each time I go into my yard someone honks at me. At first, I became annoyed when this occurred. Lakeland was full of New Yorkers, and they honk when the light is red, if you are in their way, or just because they can. Honking is ALWAYS a sign of aggression or agitation in Florida or up North (actually the same thing). When people would honk at me here, I would complain or curse saying things like, “I didn’t do anything asshole.” It took days for me to realize that the “honky honkers” are just saying hi. I wonder how long it will take for me to start honking at people or asking “How’s your momma and nem,” if ever.

—Kristie Barnett

I am Kristie – Noojin Barnett. I am a mother, step mother, and wife. I am a librarian, a yogi, and a nerd. I have a blog called My first book was just published. It is available on Amazon. The tile is As I Walk Through Life With A Stain on My Shirt and My Shoe United: Confessions of a Nerdy Clutz.Facebook13TwitterPrintMore

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Humor Writer of the Month

James Breakwell

James Breakwell is a professional comedy writer and amateur father of four girls, ages nine and under. He is best known for his family humor Twitter account@XplodingUnicorn, which boasts more than a million followers. The account went viral In April 2016 and transformed James from a niche comedy writer into one of the most popular dads on social media.
Since becoming internet famous, James has been profiled by USA Today,  […]

Past Humor Writers of the Month

All Things Erma

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Paint It Yellow

“I see a red door and I want it painted black

No colors anymore I want them to turn black

I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes

I have to turn my head until my darkness goes.”

-The Rolling Stones 

Paint it Yellow

The Rollings Stones sang about painting it black. My motto is paint it yellow. Yellow is happy. Yellow is bright. I did accidentally paint my living room a pale yellow, but I have painted every kitchen that I painted yellow. There is a large margin of error with yellow paint. You can think you have Splenda packet yellow and it is Spongebob Yellow. Since my living room ended up Splenda packet yellow accidently, I decided to up the hue for the kitchen. Bye Bye beige. I chose a color strip. Showed it to my sons. Big one says whatever. Little one says paint it green. I choose a color. When I get to the store, I second guess  myself and go one shade brighter. 

Inner Optimist: Sunshine

Inner Cynic: Best Buy sign

This time , as usual, my inner cynic was right. With every single coat, the kitchen got brighter. The stubborn beige was very hard to cover. The yellow looked streaky. I would finish and think another coat to go. On coat 4 or fifty, I was beginning to need sunglasses. 

The big one walks through. 

Big One: Mom?

Me: Is it that bad? 

Big One: Am I staring at the sun?

The boyfriend ( now husband) comes over. 

Me: What do you think? 

Boyfriend: Was this your intention? 

Me: Should I try a faux finish to tone it down? 

Boyfriend: Whatever you think, babe.  Rolls eyes. 

So, back to Lowes I go. No home improvement venture is complete without at least four trips to the fix it store. 

I have asked the Google , the Pinterest , and the Youtube. Here I should note that if I Youtube it. I am in over my head. Youtube is a clear sign I should stop now. I never do, but it is a sign. 

I buy a sea sponge. I get out the pale yellow supposed to off white paint from the living room. I turn into Bob Ross. I am making happy clouds. 

Sea sponges are odd things. They leave inconsistent patterns. Maybe that is the free incapable help. The help should be fired. Oh wait, the help is me. 

Inner Optimist: That was fun. It is art. 

Inner Cynic: Well, at least it is not the surface of the sun yellow anymore. She  does work for free. You get what you pay for. 

Inner Optimist: Let’s try a backsplash next. 

Inner Cynic: Do you never learn?

Me: That sounds fun. 

The inner optimist talked me into it . For fall break that year, I installed a backsplash. The help works for free. 

Going on a Ghost Hunt

Going on a Ghost Hunt 

I am not a paranormal enthusiast. For those that are, I support your hobby. I do , however , enjoy a historic ghost tour or pub crawl while visiting a city with a rich history. I love the stories. I am Southern afterall. We love to tell stories and listen to them. A gifted tour guide can weave a tale that transports you to another time. I have gone on many of those historic ghost tours. I have paid my admission to ride in a convertible hearse and freeze in Savannah. I swore I saw something move in that cemetery. I am sure it was part of the tour. I have walked the streets of the historic district with a girl that needed to eat a sandwich in a hoop skirt. I listen, make smart comments, and laugh. The hubs and I even stayed in the Foley House on our last trip to Savannah . It is on all the ghost tours. The power went out several times that day in a storm, but I did not see the ghost. Of course, I suppose the ghost could have started the summer thunderstorm. Hmmm

I have had the pleasure of taking a tour of the French Quarter with Tour Guide Thomas. The lull of his southern drawl and dramatic flair make his tours a pleasure. Plus, they start on Bourbon Street across the street from where they sell Hand Grenades. If you are ever in NOLA, take a tour with Master Thomas at Lord Chaz Tours .

Several years ago-(four I think), my hubs and I had just started dating. For our second date, I suggested we go on a  ghost walk that was taking place in Jacksonville , AL. What I expected was some grown folks out for a few ghost stories and exercise on a mild October night. Boy, I was mistaken. We were out for a  walk and some ghost stories. The rest of the group were the for real paranormal kind with cameras. I can not prove this, but I think the tour guide was making it up as she went. Either that or the tiny square is the most haunted place in history. We walked two blocks maybe and heard a dozen vague stories. Most of the tour was pointing out  spots of possible paranormal sightings and enthusiast ghost hunters looking for ghost orbs. One guy stood in the middle of a busy road with an oncoming car taking a picture. Amongst the ghost hunters were two smart ass middle age people on an awkward date. 

Guy standing in the middle of the road taking a picture of ghost orbs – I mean headlights. 

Me: What an idiot?

Date (Hubs): I bet he gets a picture of two ghost orbs. 

As we round the block, we hear a story of how a brothel once stood on a now empty lot and people still smell roses from time to time. 

Ghost Hunters: A chorus of I smell it. 

Date (Hubs): While leaning in real close, I think it is your perfume or I farted. I tell my kids my farts smell like roses. 

Me: Please don’t try to prove it. 

Date (Hubs): But it was funny. 

Me: Why are there no Hand Grenades ?

The only eerie thing I felt or saw was two middle aged smart asses on a date. 

Four years later

Hubs: What are you writing about?

Me: It is called Ghost Hunt.

Hubs: That ghost walk we went on where the idiot almost got hit by the car?

Me: Yep

Hubs: You know if he had been hit that car it would have been natural selection. 

 Yep, we still got that smart ass vibe going on. I also still want a Hand Grenade. 

Hand Grenade Recipe Link

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Collection of Cats

I unintentionally run a home for misfit felines. There are five- yes, I said five felines that reside on my property. I did not set out to be the crazy cat lady. Only one of the furry family members did I initially  seek out and bring home. The others just found their way to my home. Before the PETA people start sending me hate mail, they are all spayed or neutered except the one that is too young. My family is plotting against me, or the cats are just very savvy and manipulative. I am fairly sure the movie Gremlins was written by someone that accidently got a collection of cats. 

If you wish to start your own collection, here are the steps to follow:

Step 1- Give birth to two sons that quickly develop a love for animals and particularly the hostile feline kind. It might be considered an obsession.

Step 2- Let one of the sons become old enough to drive and provide him with a mode of transportation. 

Step 3- Marry a man that saves animals and does not tell his daughters no when it comes to animals. 

Step 4- Live next to a small wooded area where humans drop off cats or cats escape humans to live in the wild. 

Step 5- Sit back and wait. The cats are coming. 

My feline hoarding started with an ex-husband ( the big guy), two sons, and the intention to pull one over on me.  The big guy returns the kiddos home with a cat carrier that contains the ugliest little skinny kitten that has ever walked the earth. The big guy tells me the kids already love him. Sneaky children beg me to let it stay. I relent. I force the kids to compromise on a name. The tall one says Bruce Wayne. The short one says Lightning McQueen. The cat is named Bruce Lightening. Little Bruce did not stay long. I suspect he ran away due to his horrible name. 

Now, I have sad children. I adopt a cat from the shelter. Little kitty has a name, Maxwell. I convinced the children to keep the name to prevent a repeat of the Bruce Lightening incident. Though not the brightest bulb in the box, Max is a sweet cat . He is a little strange , and I am not entirely sure he knows he is a cat, but a weird cat fits into a weird family- right? 

The dog raises the confused cat. Life goes on. One dog, one cat – that is normal. 

My oldest son ( the tall one) takes the girlfriend on a date. They go to the pet store. There is not much to do in Oxford, Al. The tall one decides to adopt a cat that came with a sob story. She has been adopted and returned to the shelter more than once. No red flags there. Her name is Bonnie like Bonnie and Clyde. It suits her. There are many promises that he will feed, care for, and vet said crazy cat. I am still waiting on those promises to be fulfilled. 

Only a few months later, the tall one calls me after going out with the same girl. He says, “ Mom, I got you something.” I respond, “ It better not  need to be fed and watered.” The tall one responds, “ It was on the side of the road. It needs our help. It looks like that cat we used to have named Snickers.” My response, “ You mean it is a calico. Shit, it is a girl.” Tall one, “ Mom, you are on speaker phone. “ The tall one named her Caramel. 

As if the tall one needed help rescuing every homeless cat on the planet , my then finance’ and now husband decided to get in on the act. He let his daughters talk him into not one but two homely  kittens. When I questioned why two, the hubs responded , “ I have two daughers.” They are kittens not toothbrushes they could have shared. The fur balls lived with him a few short weeks until they ended up with me because we were getting married and they would end up here anyway.  If these kittens were human children, they would be in the special class. They are skitties. 

Since apparently the universe thinks five felines is not enough for one family, the feral cats that live in the woods by my house take turns coming to dine at Casa De Crazy Cats. There is a one eyed tom that frequents the fine faire on the screened in porch. There is a scruffy looking earless orange tom that also is a frequent visitor. Apparently, the cats invite house guests. There are many more random strange cats that visit like it is a feline fiesta up in here. They refuse to listen to me   telling them that they don’t live here. On the plus side, we don’t have mice. We also do not have chipmunks, birds in the yard, or squirrels. 


Some days after the completion of this entry, I received a text from the tall one  to let me know that a kitten showed up and decided to keep us. That makes 6. No one claims responsibility for the new addition. I guess there are invisible hobo cat marks on our house. Anyone need or want a cat or maybe 5? 

Seasons of the South

 Picture it Alabama 2019 , the sweltering 90 degree days of summer. Oh wait, it is October. Early October granted, but it is still October. Once again autumn is late. The sweat glistens on our foreheads as we walk to our cars in shorts and tank tops. In other places, people are breaking out their thin long sleeves  and scarves in fall colors. They are sipping a pumpkin spice latte while taking a walk in the crisp autumn air to view the golds, reds, and oranges of the leaves that flutter to the ground. Not in Alabama. The leaves that fell in September died of a heat stroke. They had one color the brown of dead plant life. On the plus side, it has been so hot and dry the grass died. 

Well ,it has been bake cookies in the mailbox hot until one day about mid October. It was October 12 to be exact. Autumn made a rushed appearance. Autumn must have had car trouble or hair trouble. She was late . She also apparently had several more stops to make in other places.  Autumn graced us with her presence approximately two days. Winter was right on her heels. All of a sudden, it started to rain. It rained little bitty rain drops, big fat raindrops, and sideways rain drops. The more it rained the cooler it got. Where is thin long sleeve weather? I had to find my sweatshirts and boots. What the heck Mother Nature? Are you having fever and chills? It was 90 last week. 

 Maybe Autumn’s ugly stepsister , winter,  will let her come back and visit again soon. 

To the ladies at work who were afraid they would die of a heat stroke in October while teaching because your air went out , fear not. It looks like you will need a jacket and mittens on Monday.

My Birth Certificate Lies

In less than 24 hours , I will have to choose a different category on surveys. When choosing on the rolling button , I will go from 35-44 to 45-54. The survey puppet masters have decided what our age milestones are. In the modern culture, I can decline to answer my race or gender. Why can’t I opt out of age? I much prefer the surveys that simply have a are you over 18 button. Heck, I don’t even mind giving my date of birth. I am aware it is the same. I just assume everyone is like me and doesn’t want to be bothered to do the math. 

I do lie about my age if asked in person for a number, but I do it with a wink, wink, nod, nod. I am aware that no one believes that I am 27. That ship sailed a long time ago. My oldest son just turned 20. Even if I was a whore in high school or middle school and got him really early, that math doesn’t add up. I was a mother at 7. That would be Guiness Book of World Records stuff. Until I can get that stubborn man to claim to be a 6’2 ten year old, I doubt anyone would believe I am 27. They probably wouldn’t then. My Cruella Deville streak that I am not always on top of gives me away.  Nevertheless, I claim 27. I was never good at math. We live in a world of self identification. I identify as a 27 year old that is thin, has great boobs , a firm ass, and perfect skin. It is the mirror and my birth certificate that lie. 

Queen of the Nerds

Longing For the Phone To Ring

Every day of my adult life my phone rang at the time I was to be leaving work. On the other end of the phone, a gruff male voice said, “ I was just calling to check on you and the boys.” The conversation was never long and always ended with “ Talk to your mother now.” Insert voice here yelling Nita over and over until mom found the phone. Those brief conversations before he handed me off to mom went something like this: “ How was work?”, “Do you need money?”, “What are you feeding the boys?” , “ How are my boys’ grades”, and “Have you started shopping for (fill in the nearest holiday/birthday here?” One of the very last things he ever said to me was have you started Christmas shopping? I need you to do mine too.” I responded, “ Dad, it is October.” I can’t remember what was said next, but I am sure it was here talk to your mother. It has been one year today since I have gotten that dependable phone call. No one has reminded me to call people on their birthdays, to shop for occasions, and questioned my finances in one long year. I miss that call every day. 

A Life Naive Review

Life Naive by Oliver Phipps

3 out of 4 Stars

Phipp’s novella tells a delightful tale of a young man and his accidental companion’s journey down Route 66. The protagonist, Hershel Lawson, begins the story as a young man in his twenties that has spent most of his life taking care of the grandmother that raised him. Hershel is a man that thrives on consistency and routine. Hershel’s grandmother, Me’ma, has plans to expand her sheltered grandson’s horizons. After her death, Hershel is instructed to take her ashes to California. Thus, Hershel sets off on the journey of misadventures. Throughout the novella, Hershel meets many interesting characters along Route 66 including the cheeky Sally that becomes his travel companion on his misadventures. 

Phipp’s novella was an enjoyable read.  Many of the characters are unforgettable. The story has a nice blend of realism, historical details of 1960s Americana, and comedy. It was nice to read a modern work written for adults that was free from foul language and sexually explicit scenes. It is just a nice , enjoyable read. The only negative note that I have is that I would like to see some more detailed descriptions of Route 66 and the sites that Hershel and Sally come across. I want to be able to see Route 66 in my head despite the fact that I have never been there. On this element, Phipp’s could take some notes from some of the great fantasy writers on description of setting. Despite that, it was a very enjoyable read. I give Life Naive 3 out of 4 stars. 

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