If you’ve never heard of Southern Living, I would first say that I don’t believe you, and then I would say, “Bless your heart.” That pretty much means, “You are so stupid, I feel sorry for you.”

If you’ve never heard of Southern Living, I would first say that I don’t believe you, and then I would say, “Bless your heart.” That pretty much means, “You are so stupid, I feel sorry for you.”

Let’s pretend you really don’t know about the Southern Living magazine. It was started back in the 1960’s by The Progressive Farmer Company which changed its name to Southern Progress Corporation.

The Southern Living magazine made it really big telling folks about Southern cooking, nice homes in the South and gardening. In the mid 1980’s Time Inc. paid about a gazillion dollars for the company and Southern Living.

The magazine is now the largest regional lifestyle publication in the United States. Women love it; men sneak and read it, particularly in doctors’ offices.

The bottom line is this; if you, your cooking, your house or your prized roses have been in Southern Living, you are a pretty big deal.

My cousin Toni – her house has been in Southern Living. If I’m not mistaken, it’s been in there more than once.

She lives in a small town in Randolph County, Alabama and everybody knows her. Her home with the wraparound porch to die for is kind of an area attraction.

You should understand now… Cousin Toni has a nice home, is also a good cook and is second to none when it comes to entertaining. She is a sweet lady, but she is also on the list of relatives you call when all hell breaks loose. In other words, she’ll do a little more than “pray for you.”

People make the mistake of thinking proper Southern women are all standing there waiting for you to throw your coat in the mud puddle for them to walk on.

They are not.

Cousin Toni would simply say “Bless your heart” if you decided to throw your coat in a mud puddle. Again meaning, “You are so stupid, I feel sorry for you.”

She’s sweet when she needs to be, but she will not back down from a fight.

She is my cousin; this makes good sense to me.

Her Daddy was my Uncle Harold. Uncle Harold was a doggone good man. He and my Daddy raced cars and were more than brothers-in-law – they were good friends. “You can depend on Harold,” my Daddy would always say. There was no greater compliment that my Daddy could give a person.

Uncle Harold also taught me how to cut my toenails so as to never get an ingrown toenail.

You don’t forget things like that.

I’ve never had an ingrown toenail.

My Daddy’s baby sister – my Aunt Ruby, had to call cousin Toni in the other day on an assault mission.

Aunt Ruby has been visiting “the spa” quite a bit lately, so folks keep an eye on her and make sure she has everything she needs. She is a treasure and we protect her as such.

By the way, “the spa” is what Aunt Ruby calls the hospital.

Aunt Ruby has a cat, “Sister Sarah,” that is always trying to entertain her with tricks and various other good deeds. Sister Sarah and Aunt Ruby sit in her famous yellow porch swing a lot and enjoy “All of God’s gifts,” as my Aunt Ruby puts it.

It seems Sister Sarah has a thing for chipmunks, or “ground squirrels” as folks down there call them. Sister Sarah wants to catch them and bring them in the house to play with for a while.

You know where all this is going.

Sister Sarah got the ground squirrel in the house, things got crazy. Sister Sarah brought it in the house and then she took it out. Then she brought it in again…

The ground squirrel was loose and running around all over Aunt Ruby’s house.

Knowing Aunt Ruby, I’m sure she didn’t worry too much about it. She just called Cousin Toni to come over and “save the ground squirrel” from Sister Sarah the cat.

After a NASCAR like chase all around the house, Sister Sarah and Cousin Toni finally cornered the ground squirrel in a bathroom behind a cabinet.

If I had been there, I would have advised Cousin Toni to just “Roll up a Southern Living and whack him in the head.” Cousin Toni is not that way – not unless she has to be.

According to Aunt Ruby, Cousin Toni was taking more of a ladylike approach, talking really sweet to the ground squirrel cornered behind the bathroom cabinet.

“I see your two pretty eyes shining.”

“Come on out, I’ll help you.”

At this point, Sister Sarah was also ready to “help.”

Cousin Toni finally hemmed the ground squirrel up and gingerly took him outside. On the way out, the ground squirrel bit Cousin Toni.

I cannot get a report on what happened to the ground squirrel once it got outside.

I do know this ground squirrel didn’t know about Aunt Ruby being a treasure or Cousin Toni’s fame with Southern Living, he was more concerned with not getting his head bit off by Sister Sarah.

Aunt Ruby says, “Sister Sarah just wants to play with the ground squirrels. However she usually plays with them until she harasses them to death.” Many a Southern man has died that same way… (At the hands of a Southern woman who just wanted to play with them and ended up harassing them to death).

I suppose there are worse ways to leave this world.


Find more stories at www.CranksMyTractor.com.