January 28, 2013

Perspective on Success from a Southern Gal

"It is better to be young in your failures than old in your successes." - Flannery O'Connor 

January 24, 2013

Why the Dirt Road?

Long has been my desire to live along a Dirt Road.

I can only muse that it represents adventure down a less traveled path, living outside the box or perhaps my long rebellious nature resisting modern life’s intrusion on every blade of grass.

It is, in reality, all of these and more.

Life on the Dirt Road embraces a simpler set of rules than those of the electronic, fast-paced modern world.

When driving and riding along its deliberate trail – the pace is much slower; otherwise, you will surely miss something. Countless are the times I’ve stopped to move turtles from the middle of the road, rustle wildflowers from a ditch, or simply sit and gaze across a vast pasture. The air smells sweeter along this unpaved path and rare is the time that a horn is honked. Days can pass – often drifting two and three in a row – that a car is not. seen.

How can modern life compete with that?

I often reflect on the decision to move here to the Dirt Road, remembering the largest question from friends and family, “…why on earth would you want to move on a dirt road...”

My answer remains, “Why not?”

The Dirt Road is my beach, my quiet path, and my thinking journey on cool, crisp morning walks with the occasional armadillo encounter. Bluebirds dot the fence lines as if escorting my way up the hill and back. Cows are scattered across the fields greeting the new day while a new born calf’s first morning is safeguarded by the sacred landscape of this Dirt Road.  No matter the time of year, the early morning air washes over my face, lifting my spirits and strengthening me for the challenges of the day before me.  At a day’s end, this Dirt Road becomes embraced with intimate, soft ribbons of low lying fog that weave through the fence posts and scattered hay bales. And at night, this road fades into a gently worn path through a sleepy hollow that lies at the basin of seemingly endless pastures.

It represents withdrawal from trend and the ability to retreat to seclusion, to be seduced by nature and  captured in awe by our Creator while living surrounded by His Creation. To discover traces left behind of those who first roamed this land; to uncover the history of this once cultivated expanse; to be blessed with the privilege to dig my hands in the long, untouched soil; to steward the surrounding habitat for its wildlife…..  these are among the many reasons the Dirt Road has claimed me.

I embrace modern convenience and mingling with the masses on occasion – I truly do.


I can not wait to feel the tires of my truck leave the asphalt pavement and meet the earthen path that leads the way home.

Copyright © 2007, 2013
All Rights Reserved.

January 21, 2013

"Life" from a Southern Gal

"Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect."

- Margaret Mitchell

January 18, 2013

Gravy: A Confession

I was born at the tail end of a long, long line of Southern women who were strong and savvy way before savvy was even a word.  Very little swayed their resolve including feeding their family with a kitchen well stocked or with whatever was on hand at supper time.

As a child standing at their heels, my grandmothers amazed me with their cooking skills.  Either woman could easily look into a sparse pantry and whip out a meal of a meat and three with dessert for her family plus company!  Many traditional Southern menus always include the staple companion sauce to the meat and certain sides:  GRAVY.  My mother and both of my grandmothers could make gravy in their sleep.  It always had the same sumptuous smoothness and tasted like heaven drizzled all over everything on my plate.


I can NOT make gravy.

There; I said it.

Brand me with a scarlet letter “G”.

I voluntarily hang my head in shame.  I simply did not get the gravy gene.

Just say the word “gravy” and I begin to perspire.  I guess you could call it gravy anxiety.

It’s quite the awful predicament.  I am, in fact, gravy-handicapped.

I have often wondered if perhaps my gravy disability is due in large part to my being a Southpaw.  Based on my peek up into the canopy of the family tree, it appears that I am the only left-handed female for quite some time – if ever.  And, being an ambidextrous Southpaw also lends to a certain amount of confusion when approaching new or “awkward” tasks.  One thing you can take to the bank: making gravy is awkward for me. (Or am I just too right-brained?)  For those of you who hold the gravy gift, most will agree: a person can not have a sense of confusion, much less anxiety, when making gravy.

On those rare occasions when I have rolled up my sleeves, stood at the stove (talking out loud to myself) and cooked what appeared to be a gravy-like substance, my family would smile their most gracious smiles and politely say, “Please pass the gravy.”  Then they pass it down the table and reach for the butter.  My family eats their rice with butter.  

The disgrace was becoming unbearable.

After countless failed gravy making efforts, I came to this conclusion:  I’ll cheat.

Now despite the fact that I have never actually witnessed anyone buying them, why would the grocery stores stock gravy mixes if there wasn’t a need for them?  I wondered in my painful silence, “Is it possible that I am not alone in my shame? Are there other gravy-challenged Southern gals suffering like me?”

Humiliation in the Public Square

While we live out in the rural countryside, we do have a local IGA grocery store that is just down the road and is our ‘go to’ for any quick or last minute grocery needs.  While perusing the isles one day, the gravy mixes caught my eye.  I studied the variety for a few minutes and finally settled on one to try the next time I felt the need to attempt gravy [again].  However, as one might have predicted, when I arrived at the check-out, guess what one item would not ring up when scanned.

The gravy mix.

Of course it was.

It’s deeply embedded within the unwritten rules of life that a Southern gal must face her cooking demons in the public square.  Not only would the gravy mix not ring up, there was a record line of locals behind me waiting to check out.

Cashier:  “Um, there’s no price for this?  What is this anyway?”  (She may have been, at best, 17 and my mind was racing trying desperately to grab a magnificent “Bless your heart” scandalous remark – but nothing would come to me.)

Me:  “Um, uh, well, I don’t remember, but that’s okay, I really don’t need it.”

Cashier:  [LOUDLY] “OH! It’s a gravy mix; you buy gravy mix?  Who buys gravy mix? Who doesn’t know how to make gravy?”

(Blink, blink.)

The silence behind me was deafening.

The line was getting longer and I am convinced that all the best cooks in the tri-county area were there right behind me.  (All that came to mind was, “Dear Planet Earth, please open up and swallow me…”)

Cashier (now on the intercom):  “Ms. IGA, I need the price for this X,Y,Z gravy mix!”

Now everyone in the ever growing check-out line is lOOking at me – not so much because I was holding them up but more so because I was buying gravy mix and holding them up.  It was at this moment that I began to perspire heavily.

ME:  (With tightly gritted teeth) “I really don’t need the gravy mix.  Please. Just. Keep. It.”

And with that, I swiped my card to pay for my handful of items and out the door I fled.  

By the time I got to my car, right on my heels was the lady who had been waiting in line behind me.  She said, “Baby, here’s this gravy mix.  It was only thutty-five cents and I don’t won’t yo family to suffa ‘cause you can’t make no gravy.”

My mouth dropped (somebody just shoot me now).

So there it was – now all out in the open and ugly: my lack of gravy skills exposed to the entire [IGA and tri-county] world.  I hadn’t felt such shame since bringing home the wrong dead cat.

As I have reflected over the re-launch of South of the Gnat Line and all my organizing of the foods I actually can and do cook to share with readers, it occurred to me:  How on earth can I possibly share my family’s recipes and love of Southern foods without having first confessed my culinary short-comings?

So for those of you who are blessed with the gift of gravy proficiency, I ask this of you:  the next time you are standing at your stove whipping up gravy for your family’s meal, please think of me and send up a little prayer to the gravy gods so at the very least, my grandchildren might miraculously inherit the gravy gene that skipped me.

Copyright © 2013
All Rights Reserved.


Refreshed.  Renewed.  Refocused.

It is often said that change, renewal and moving forward are all good things. 

A blog that began as the awkward ramblings and occasional tall tale stories of a Southern city gal who fled the suburbs of Atlanta to a Dirt Road in Rural Georgia is now renovated, revamped and – well, relaunched!

It is my innermost hope (while holding my breath and with one eye closed) that the more organized approach to content of SGL.com and its fresh new face will allow you to continue to join me on this trip of a trip I refer to as ‘Real Life in the Real South.’

We’ll revisit some familiar stories and hear some new ones; see some of the rural remnants I stumble across; share good things to cook and eat; and discover lots of back roads stops along the way.

Life, Food & Things to Do in My South!

Peace, Love & Hugs!