Magnolia Jane on Southern Phrases

Image from Pixabay

Hey y’all. I’m Magnolia Jane Clay of the Tuscaloosa County Clay’s, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Phi Mu Alumni Association and 1998 Miss Tallapoosa County. I’m here to help all y’all with some common southern phrases. Bless your hearts, I know it can be confusing. So here’s a sweet tea. Just come on up on the porch and have a seat.

Since I already used it, I guess I‘ll start with Bless your heart. This phrase can be particularly confusing because not all blesses are created equal. For example, I heard just yesterday that Azalea’s cousin’s fiance is in ICU after his Razor fell on top of him when they were out riding after the storm we had last week. Bless his heart. That means I feel for the poor man and hope he recovers. On the other hand, I found out Jacqueline (Pronounced Jack- quell- LINE) was not elected to the board of the PTA after that awful incident with the vegan, gluten free bake sale….bless her heart. I think we all know that was a different version of “bless her heart.” As in, what was she thinking??

Another misunderstood phrase by you Yankees (who I am sure are fine people) is I’m fixing to… This does not mean anything is broken, unless it is, and you are fixing to fix it. This means that you are about to do something or go somewhere. Just like, “I’m fixing to go to the store.” Of course, the word “fix” can mean other things too. Like, “honey, would you fix me a sandwich?” My Gerald says that all the time! Most of the time, though, when we need to fix something, we don’t actually say I’m fixing to fix the furnace. That would be too much. We say, “I’m gonna fix the furnace.”

You may have heard a southerner or two say I reckon. Sounds downright Shakespearean, doesn’t it? Well, you can use this phrase to mean any number of things: I guess, I think, Suppose, even plain and simple agreement. In fact, I reckon it’s just about the most versatile phrase we have down here, except for maybe bless your heart. We can even combine them: “I reckon she’s just not too bright, bless her heart.”

The other day, the day we had that storm, I ended up having to pull up some of my favorite mums, and all the lawn furniture had to be retrieved from the back yard. By the time I finished all of that I was worn slap out. Despite its violent implications, being worn slap out has nothing to do with slapping anyone. It just means really really tired. Sometimes people like to change this one up and say plumb worn out instead. Those who went to that other school system might say wore slap out, which is terrible grammar!

Finally, there’s one you’ve probably hear anytime someone is surprised by some juicy gossip: Well, I declare! It’s not really about declaring the news. It’s about being shocked by the news. For example, we all know that Billy Tuberville’s father is a second cousin of a well known football coach. His family bleeds orange and blue. So when he announced his engagement to Suzanne Hightower, who is married to Nick Saban’s former best friend from college, I guarantee you there were more than a few “Well, I Declare!”’s heard around town.

Before I go, I need to point out that these are all real southern phrases. These are not to be confused with thing’s like “Go to the liberry” or “It don’t matter,” which are just plain bad grammar. Not all of us were raised watching Hee Haw, thank you very much!

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go help my aunt Maylene set up for the Daughter of the American Revolution Annual Silent Auction and Bridge Tournament. She’s too old to climb that stepladder and hang the buntings, bless her heart.

If you liked this southern flavor, read my gossip article about the local heart-blesser!

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The Time Is Coming

Surviving the newest batch of Hallmark holiday movies

Photo from Unsplash

Winter is coming…

And with it, the sickly sweet horror that befalls us all during the months of November and December. Like the yearly dying of the trees’ leaves from inside out while the sun hides from the cold a little more each evening, the icy claw of schmaltz and sugar cookies curls around the television set, insidiously spiking the glucose levels of diabetics all over the country.

Yes…..the Hallmark Channel Movie Season is upon us.

But fear not! It is possible to survive this saccharine-filled nightmare fortnight of limerence and cheese with a a few tools and tricks. If you are prepared, you can escape from the endless recycling of plot devices and romance tropes with minimum injury to life and limb.

  1. Learn to Recognize the Signs of a Hallmark Holiday Movie. If two impossibly good looking characters take an immediate disliking to one another, beware. This holds especially true if one of them recently moved back to their unusually small and idyllic town. And if there is an antagonist bent on buying up all the Christmas shops (where, coincidentally, the word shop is spelled “shoppe”), back away from the television slowly, take the remote carefully, and press the “previous” button. it doesn’t matter if the previous channel was on WWE Wrestling Legends of the 1980s marathon. It is your only escape — use it!
  2. Learn to Recognize the Sounds of a Hallmark Holiday Movie. This will include songs with sleigh bells as an integral part of the percussion section, as well as any country/pop slow tune that talks about Broken Roads or Unanswered Prayers. Be especially wary of the tune, “Christmas Shoes,” as this music will attempt to reduce you to a sniveling ball of snot and tears while simultaneously rolling your eyes. Serious dehydration and ocular injury could result.
  3. Learn to Recognize the Smells of a Hallmark Holiday Movie. This is the most sinister of all the signs because it is often not recognized until you are trapped at the home of a friend or family member. If you smell spiced cider, hot chocolate, or cookies on a random Tuesday night “for no reason,” you have likely been led into a Hallmark Movie Night nightmare, much like the fly is led by the spider into certain tortured death. The only escape from this destruction is not to enter. if your host is wearing a shirt or apron bearing the insignia below, you have been chosen by the Hallmark cult to be their ritual sacrifice over snickerdoodles and peppermint coffee. Do. Not. Enter.

4. Learn to Recognize the Feels of a Hallmark Holiday Movie. If you are watching a movie that causes you to suddenly feel inordinately good, especially if there is snow, a small town doctor or veterinarian, and a villain attempting to ruin Christmas or tear down a quaint inn, you may be an unwitting victim. If you find yourself rooting for the “unlikely couple” as strange liquid begins to leak from your eyes, turn off the television. Immediately. Instead, scroll to your Iron Maiden Spotify playlist as an antidote. If applied early enough, you may survive.

Stay vigilant, my friends. Keep these 4 warnings in mind, and may the odds and the eggnog be every on your favor.

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Episode Four: Jack Bikerd, Songwriter

Jack Binkerd

This week I’m talking with Jack Binkerd, a musician and songwriter who lives in Nashville Tennessee. It’s a great conversation with lots of creativity and humor. Jack has released two EP’s and performs in a variety of venues. He’s an accomplished vocalist and guitarist who writes innovative music. Click below to enjoy the interview.

Click below to hear Jack’s music on Spotify

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Episode Three: Final Friday Fiction

Listen now on ANCHOR.

Evil House

Can a house be evil?

In Decatur, Alabama, there sits a house that no one can live in for more than a few days. Years ago, a young couple moved in, only to move out less than 3 days later, refusing to speak of what happened within the walls.Welcome to Final Friday Fiction on Words from the River. In honor of Halloween, this Friday’s fiction reading will come from a tale of horror, Evil House, written by Laurie Nave – hey, that’s me! I hope you enjoy it.

Like Me! A Shameless Plug for My Author Page

You can click HERE or on the image of my carpool friend, Seymour.

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Wonder Woman Is My Mother

Image from Pixabay

“Tell Larry my partner and I won the net in the first flight,” my mom said, referring to the golf tournament she had played in last week. “We won the net in the first flight.” She said it twice because she knew I had no idea what that meant. But Larry would if I said it correctly.

And he did. He was impressed! “How old is your mom again?” He asked.

She’s 77. My mother is 77, and she wins the net in the first flight at golf tournaments, which I sort of understand, but probably not well enough to explain it (smile). She also cooks amazing meals, works out, plays golf twice a week, creates Bible studies, and takes care of my father and her sister. She also wears a size 6, which I manage not to resent because she’s so wonderful. As I drove the rest of the way to work that day, I just shook my head. My mother really is Wonder Woman.

I’m blessed to have been adopted by two wonderful, loving parents. My mom, however, has been and is the kind of woman that other women admire. From the time I was small, I was a bit in awe of her. And teenage and early adulthood angst aside, she’s always kind of been a hero.

My Beautiful Mother

My beautiful mother

For one thing, she’s beautiful. She really is. Dark, almost black hair, beautiful bone structure courtesy of her Creek Indian roots, large brown eyes, olive complexion. And a very pretty nose. I used to look at a picture of her in her early twenties and wish I looked like her. being adopted, I was blond, exceedingly tall, skinny, with a….generous nose. Sigh…you get what you get in the great genetic wheel of fortune. She is still beautiful and, to me, looks frozen in time.

I remember so many things about my mother during my childhood. I remember sitting beside her at the piano while she taught me where middle C was and how to read notes on the staff. I would listen to her play hymns and art songs, her fingers flowing back and forth over the keys. I remember when she helped with our children’s classes at church, creating fun activities for us to do. I have pictures from a Halloween party I had in 6th grade. We had pieces of burlap and felt, googly eyes, shaped, etc. that we used to decorate them with ghosts, pumpkins, and candy. Mom sat at her sewing machine, putting the pieces together to sew trick or treat bags. Then, later that school year, when 3 girls were bullying me and saying hurtful things about me, and I came home crushed, my no-nonsense mom gave me some excellent advice:

“Consider the source.” At the time I didn’t quite understand exactly how wise that perspective was. As an adult, that statement served me well during times that threatened to crush me.

Professionally, my mother began as an English and history teacher. When I was in elementary school, she became a guidance counselor. One of her duties was to sponsor the girls’ social and service club. I remember going along with her to activities and being doted on by the high school girls. I felt so important! I didn’t realize until later how many lives she impacted, including kids who ended up being the first in their families to go to college or young women who had crises and needed guidance.

While I finished high school, my mother finished her PhD. I remember that she defended her dissertation while I was across the country rehearsing for a summer tour with a singing group. I called her that night, and she confirmed that I could finally call her Dr. Livingston. A few months later she became the first female superintendent of schools in our state. We were all very proud of her.

She accomplished many things. But for her, even with all the outside responsibilities, marriage and family were the priority. She was a strong woman successful, independent. Yet I remember so often her bringing my dad a sandwich while he watched football or sweet tea as he worked in the yard. She loved him well and still does. Keeping a warm and welcoming home was important to her. She was classically feminine, and I remember the terms “ladylike” or “not ladylike” being applied to my behavior. I used to joke that I would have “You need lipstick” carved into her tombstone, it was a phrase she uttered so regularly. She celebrated her traditional womanhood; it didn’t scare her or threaten her because she knew who she was.

My aunt, me, and my mother

To this day, there are things I know about my mother. I know she prays for me every day. I know she will love me no matter what, and even when I tested that it proved unwaveringly true. I know she will rise before the dawn, make coffee, and read her Bible. She will make sure my father has a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My morning commute will include a conversation with her – sometimes a long one, sometimes just a hello. And if I am in need of wisdom, she is an excellent source.

I don’t know how long I’ll have my mother in my life. She is in good health, but she is 77. None of our days are guaranteed. I do know, however, that I have been blessed to be raised by a true wonder woman. And for that I will always be grateful.

Episode Two

Toni Crowe: Author

Image used by permission

Toni Crowe was a thirty-year award-winning corporate Vice-President. She worked for such companies as United Technologies, Rockwell and Honeywell. She retired early to pursue her dream of becoming a best-selling author.

Toni wrote her six-book memoir series in six months.  The basis of her books is that working hard and being smart (WHBS) is not enough to be successful. Everyone can use a helping hand. Her books were written to offer that hand.

Her latest book, Bullets, and Bosses Don’t Have Friends was an Amazon Bestseller. The book is an exploration of what it takes to succeed in corporate America. The book offers a collection of the interesting and provocative challenges in Toni’s career. She offers her solutions to tough leadership the problems and invites the reader to participate via exercises at the end of each chapter.

When she is not writing, Toni and her husband love traveling, especially to visit her children and grandchildren. When home in Florida, she sits by her pool reading with two cats, Tall and Dark on her lap.  When the right puppy comes along, he will be Handsome.

Follow Toni Crowe at:

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Episode 1:Words from the River

Click HERE to Listen

Welcome back to Words from the River, coming to you from the banks of the Singing River in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  I’m Laurie Nave, and I’m excited about our fist author interview today.  His name is Lee Hutch, and he released a work of historical fiction in March of 2019.

Lee is a retired firefighter turned history professor and author. Spent 15 years as a firefighter/arson investigator.  He has a BA and an MA in history, as well as an MS in criminal justice.  Since 2004, he’s been teaching college history. He and his wife, Anastasia, live in the Galveston area with their five cats, who I am sure rule the house with a firm hand (smile).  Lee’s debut novel, So Others May Live, was released in March 2019. If you are a fan of historical fiction, particularly World War Two, you will absolutely enjoy it. It follows the exploits of a firefighter in Berlin during the war. Lee is also a winner of American Book Fest’s American Fiction Award.  When he’s not writing Lee loves watching 1940s movies, which makes perfect sense for a history buff, and listening to the Red Sox.  I hope he’ll forgive me for being a Braves fan (smile)
Thank you to all of you for joining us on the Words from the River podcast.  Remember, you can listen to our podcast any time on Anchor, Spotify, Radio Public, Google Podcasts, POcketCasts, and Breaker. To access the podcast from my website, go to

Next week I’ll be talking with Toni Crowe, a former award-winning corporate vice president and Amazon best-selling author.  You’ll definitely want to hear her story.  Thanks again, and have a great weekend!