If you ever want to strike terror into the heart of your kids, I can recommend two ways:  One is to yell, “Where’s the Midol?” and watch them scatter.  The other is to sing the opening theme song of the old TV show, “Hee Haw.”  The words are simple, but the delivery is everything:   “Hee hee, hee haw haw! Hee hee, hee haw haw! Hee hee, hee haw, haw, haw, haw, haw, haw, haw.”  This has, at least on my kids, an effect similar to what I imagine that of a stun gun to be.  They gape in horror at the donkey-like sounds coming out of their mother’s mouth.

The thing is, as I sing it, I can hear Roy Clark’s banjo and Buck Owens’ guitar kicking in.  That show was a hoot, and if you are of a certain age — and if, like me, you grew up with only four channels and very limited TV options — you may have watched it, too.  When my kids were little, I used to sing, “We’re not ones to go ’round spreadin’ rumors. Really, we’re just not the gossipin’ kind.  Oh you’ll never hear one of us repeatin’ gossip.  So you’d better be sure and listen close the first time.”  There was Grandpa Jones, and Minnie Pearl, and then Archie Campbell, who would sing, “Where, oh where, are you tonight? Why did you leave me here all alone? I searched the world over, and I thought I found true love.  You met another, and (raspberry), you were gone.”  That was a big hit when my kids were babies and I would rock them and sing.  And Junior Samples, at BR-549.  The man was a genius.

I grew up in the South, in Texas and then in Mississippi and Kentucky.  My childhood was punctuated with regional Southern ads that were folksy and sweet — dinosaurs compared to the slick commercials that everybody sees today.  There was a cartoon for Domino’s sugar with a little train chugging along.  “Domino’s sugar, so pure and fine, best sugar on the Sugar Town line… whoo hoo… Sugar Town line.”  There were Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, hawking Breeze Detergent with the special enticement of a lovely dish towel in every box.  “But you cain’t buy ’em,” Dolly would say, “You can only get ’em in boxes of Breeze.”

Remember Tennessee Pride?  There used to be a cartoon hillbilly who would sing, “For real country sausage, the best you’ve ever tried, pick up a pound or two of Tennessee Pride…” and at the end, somebody would say, “And they CALL the packages Tennessee Pride!”  I was a pretty good mimic, and I could drive my mother nuts with that one.  Also, in a huge Southern accent, “It’s not fried, Momma, it’s Shake & Bake!”

When I was at college at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee, there was an extremely local commercial for Emma’s, a florist.  A man would say, “Emma’s, the supuh-lative florist!”

I love local ads, because they show the heart and soul of a town.  In an age when restaurants and grocery stores are largely interchangeable from place to place, it’s so nice to see something not corporate, not fancy, pretty low-budget, made by the people who live nearby.

For that matter, I miss hokey old shows and the respectful nod to our rural heritage like “Hee Haw,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Petticoat Junction,”  “Green Acres,”  and my favorite, “The Andy Griffith Show.”  It’s a shame that I can’t go up to someone much younger than myself (except my kids, whom I’ve indoctrinated) and say, “I’m a-pickin’…” and have the response be, “and I’m a-grinnin’!”


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

It’s summer.  Time for escaping to somewhere… how about the fictional town of Bristol?  It’s got a little bit of everything — murder, bribery, jury tampering, vote buying, and gambling!  And it’s a fun read!   Part John Grisham, part Tom Clancy, a page-turner that’s also got a lot of humor, and unforgettable, richly drawn characters.

Silent Partner is the first novel by Brad Farrar, a lawyer and Lt. Colonel in the U.S.M.C., who in his day job is a deputy county attorney in Columbia, South Carolina.  Like his protagonist, Sean Piper, Farrar (a Lt. Colonel in the U.S.M.C. Reserves) is a Marine judge advocate — but he says the similarities stop there.  “I’ve  drawn on my experiences with the Marine Corps, but I am not Piper. I can’t run as fast as he can, and he’s already figured out what he wants to do when he grows up.”

Farrar hopes Silent Partner will be just the beginning for Sean Piper.   “The plan,” he says, “is for Piper to appear in adventures that track his military service and civilian career as a federal agent. I’m finishing the second story now. We’ll see what happens from there.”  Set in Bristol, a fictional southern city, Silent Partner begins with the death of District Attorney Michael Pomerantz.  The list of suspects includes every thug he put away, jilted lovers, jealous husbands, and even disgruntled members of the defense bar.  The list narrows in a hurry when staff attorney Piper—home awaiting orders to active duty—hears Pomerantz’ killing on a supermodel’s answering machine. What’s on the tape can destroy a mega-law firm, its in-over-his-head senior partner and his billionaire client.  It could also cost Piper his life.

One of the plot threads involves gambling and a Native American tribe being exploited for the tax breaks to its casino.  “About the time I began to think about fiction writing, an interesting trend was emerging,” says Farrar. “States that traditionally had avoided gambling were getting into the business.  So you had things like government-run lotteries to fund education. That way it wouldn’t be a vice since it was ‘for the children.’  Now you see absurd commercials where the same officials promoting the games tell people how to get help if they become gambling addicts.  You can’t make this stuff up.”

So, where is Bristol?  “Anyone familiar with Atlanta or Charlotte or Tallahassee or Mobile will be able to identify with the setting,” Farrar says. “There’s hot weather, cold beer, beautiful women, uneasiness with the federal government, a slight inferiority complex and more than slight money problems. Gambling is the easy way out, which leaves Piper to follow the money.”  And also find a killer.

Silent Partner is available in paperback on Barnes and Noble.com and Amazon, and also in Kindle form on Amazon.


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.


Green DonutAs Sister Margaretta confessed in “The Sound of Music,” Reverend Mother, I have sinned. Except her crime — tampering with a Nazi car to save Julie Andrews, and let’s face it, who wouldn’t do whatever it took to save Julie Andrews — was more forgivable than mine.

I ate a doughnut.

Not only a doughnut, but an especially unnatural one with St. Patrick’s Day green icing! Oh, sweet mercy, I’m going to hell.

I have a house full of healthy food, and instantly, I attempted to cancel out my crime by zapping and eating a “Sweet Earth Natural Foods” Greek Burrito, “a savory blend of organic white beans, fresh baby spinach, feta & oregano. Hemlock-free!”

Now, I don’t know if the part about it being Hemlock free means that hemlock is an issue with organic Greek-themed products, or if it’s a reference to the Greek thinker Socrates, who was tried and found guilty of impious acts and forced to drink a poison containing hemlock.

Speaking of impious acts, in our crazy world we don’t actually talk about moral sin anymore. We don’t want to be judgmental. But boy, howdy, do we have manufactured sin out the kazoo.

Have a carbon footprint — you can buy carbon credits, or virtue points to offset your carbon footprint (selling redemption like the Church used to sell Indulgences in the Middle Ages, not that I’m judging) — or use an environment-destroying plastic grocery bag, or eat at McDonald’s, or drink a Big Gulp-sized soda, or wolf down a green doughnut (and, even more heinous, actually enjoy it), and you are screwed.

Bad, bad person! I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that when I go to meet my Maker, the green doughnut is not going to come up, so to speak.

But I may have to eat my weight in kale and do a whole lot of recycling before they let me back in the Whole Foods again.


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

We know the right way to talk, but in our family — in private, not out in public — we often choose not to do it. I can’t explain it, but we think purposefully mispronounced words are funny. I don’t think it’s just a Southern thing; Mark’s grandfather was from Ohio, and he liked to say, “eduma-cated” for educated. It’s not like saying “nuclear” instead of “nuclear,” which we would never do. Duh!

But when we look for paint, we could go to “Sherman Williams,” or the Home “de Pot.” Not to be confused with that high-end kitchen store, “William Somona.” If you’re into architecture, you’ll know that there are three basic types — Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian — of Greek “col-yums.”

We live in Arizona, and love driving about an hour over the mountains to “Sedonia.” If it’s winter, you might want to use a “tarpole-yon” to cover up your outdoor furniture.

Still, it was just a mite embarrassing last week when we were at a furniture store looking at leather chairs, and Mark saw some that were “bonded leather,” which basically is just ground-up cow fibers and vinyl. I said, “They’s vin-yel!” right as the sales guy showed up. I’m pretty sure he heard me, but I don’t think he knew what I was talking about.

Not sophisticated enough.


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

Small town problems:  I don’t know my mailman’s name.

He has told me, and I instantly forgot.  It is a terrible flaw I have, and I come by it honestly. My dad, for years, had a default first name of Fred for men whose names he couldn’t remember.

My mailman has gone out of his way to be friendly and helpful, and I wanted to get him a small Christmas gift, like a Starbucks gift card, but I didn’t want to just put an impersonal, “To Our Mailman” on the envelope.

Today, I was on the treadmill at the YMCA, our small town’s major gym, and who showed up on the treadmill next to me but our mailman.  I was oblivious, as usual, until he said, “Do I know you?” with that smile meaning, “Obviously, I know you, because I am sensitive to others’ feelings and I remember everyone’s name and I deliver your mail.”

I was ready for my big chance. I pointed to myself and said, “Janet,” as in, “I’m sure you don’t remember my name.”  He said, “I know,” but didn’t offer up a name of his own.  Darn it!   I said, “And what was your name again?” and instantly cringed.  He was hurt!  He was hurt that I didn’t remember.  He said something and darned if I didn’t catch the first syllable.  —something Val.  I smiled and nodded, and jogged for the next 22 minutes in silence broken only by my out-of-shape breathing.

Deval?  Lavalle?  I have no idea!  I texted my husband, who was working out in the weight room, to come introduce himself and get another shot at the name.  But Mark got all sanctimonious and said, “I don’t want to interrupt his workout.”  I kept running, spending 35 minutes on that darn treadmill in all, and finally —val was on his cool down.  I texted Mark again, but basically, he was hungry and just wanted to go home and eat, so we left, seeing —val on the way out, who wished us a Happy New Year.

”You, too!”  I called.


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

In a non-endorsed, side-by-side comparison, our three kids voted Cuties as the overwhelming favorite.

“What are Cuties®?

No….they are not your young child, your relative or your beloved pet…they are a part of the Sun Pacific family!”

We found Halos drier and not as tasty. I don’t know if our experience is unique, but in our house, Cuties rule.


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

Mr. Chilly looks a lot better nowNew to Arizona, we put him out on the porch last winter and did not realize that even in cold weather, things can fade in the sun. Mr. Chilly was looking washed out and sad…

But no more! All it took was two coats with a Sharpie. Now he’s Mr. Chilly yet Vibrant!


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.