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.

Captain Crunch’s Peanut Butter CRACK.  That’s what it should be called.  I have a problem.  I love this cereal.  I’m Sherlock Holmes, it’s cocaine.  I’m our dog, Roxy, and the Captain is rawhide.  I’m not going to lie; the Captain and I have a history.  I thought it was over long ago.  Then, my son, Andy, bought some, I had a couple pieces and all bets were off.  We reconnected.  That box is gone and I just went and bought another box.   I don’t even put it in milk, I just eat it right out of the box.

Don’t  judge me.  Carl Jung would judge me.  He said:  “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine, or idealism.”  Way to bring down the room, Carl.  Go sit on the downer couch with Edgar Allan Poe, who said, “I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge.  It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.”  Edgar — or do you prefer Edgar Allan, or simply Mr. Creepy — you missed out, buddy.  If you had self-medicated with the Captain, maybe you would have cheered up a little and not written about tell-tale hearts, brick wall tombs, and ravens.  Also, you could have worked a fun maze on the back of the box.

Remember the loser couch in the snobby Omega fraternity in “Animal House,” where Larry Kroger and Kent Dorfman are taken to sit with Jugdish, Mohammat, Sidney and Clayton?  “Don’t be shy about helping yourselves to punch and cookies.”  Maybe Edgar and Carl could sit there for fun party smalltalk.

My diet is not without balance.  Because I also have Whipstone Farm.  Here in Prescott, Arizona, we have great local farms, and we bought a farm share with Whipstone.  Every Tuesday we pick up a huge bag of fresh vegetables.  We got the flower share, too, so in addition to eating greens, carrots, turnips, tomatoes, and broccoli just about every day, we will have fresh-cut flowers in the house until October.  Pretty nice!  My younger son, Josh, is my farm buddy.  He goes with me to pick up the veggies, and then he helps me find recipes.  His favorite vegetable is kohlrabi.  We never had it before we started the farm share last year.  It’s in the cabbage family, a funky-looking bulb with long stalks sticking up like antennae and leaves at the top.  We blanch the greens and then toss them in sesame oil and soy sauce, and we cut up the bulb and make a quick pickle, with rice vinegar, a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

In the movie, “The Natural,” Robert Redford plays this kind of mythic baseball player, Kim Basinger is a temptress out to ruin his game, and Glenn Close is his childhood sweetheart, who stands for all that is right and good.  She stands up as he is batting, and when he sees her in the crowd, he hits one out of the park.  I’m not saying the Captain is all bad, or that kohlrabi is Glenn Close, which would be weird.  I’m hoping for moderation in all things.

And maybe another handful of Peanut Butter Crunch.


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


Forget the NSA. For real experts in constant monitoring and surveillance of the smallest details, turn to a dog.

At night, if I get up to go to the bathroom, I make sure never to put on my glasses, because our Lab, Molly, who only pretends to sleep but is actually watching somehow through closed eyes, knows that if I put on my glasses, I’m getting up to fix her breakfast.

We currently have four dogs in the house. We can’t make a move without being watched. Fortunately, I’m pretty sure the only ulterior motive they have is to go outside or get a treat.


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

I am really proud to say that our entire family shoots well.  Josh, age 9, is completely relaxed as he aims for the target and pulls the trigger.  Blair and Andy are great shots, as is Mark.  I am a good shot, too, although I take a while to get my aim just right.  I think I can cut down that time with more practice.  

Thanks to a friend from church, we have joined a gun club, and the older kids and maybe Mark are going to start competing in contests that combine speed and accuracy.  On our farm, we had a .22 rifle for varmints.  We never used it to kill anything, although if I had seen that fox that killed my beloved rooster, The Baron, and our two favorite hens, Mrs. Priddy and Lady Peckinstraw, I would have taken a shot.  

Instead, we went to the shooting range, and also put up targets on trees around the farm and just plinked.  It is only recently that we have started target shooting with smaller guns — heck, I’m going to say it, that dreaded word — handguns. “Ze gun of ze hand,” as the Amish patriarch, Eli Lapp, who believed guns are evil, cautioned Harrison Ford in “Witness.”  I don’t think guns are evil.  

In fact, the people at the gun club and at shooting ranges are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  Unfailingly polite, respectful, and totally obsessed with safety.

Two friends, both shooting instructors, spent three and a half hours with us last week, helping us shoot better.  The entire three and a half hours was also one relentless course in safety.  They drilled it into us, as they always do.  Layer on layer of redundant safety procedures, so if you forget one thing, you’ve got two or three more safeguards in place.

These are not the people who need to have their guns taken away.  Instead, these are your best bet for someone to save your butt if you are ever, God forbid, in a situation where someone starts shooting in public.

I would much rather have my kids learn about guns from guys like these than to keep them in misguided ignorance and have them accidentally get shot or shoot someone else because they didn’t know what they were doing.  In fact, I think everybody should take a gun safety course, even if you’re Amish, even if you’re the most fervent gun control advocate there could ever be.


Because guns happen. If you take them away from the people who are law-abiding and safety conscious, then only the people you really don’t want to have guns will have them.  Having just the fear of guns, without the practical knowledge of how to disarm one, is kind of useless, and it promotes the wrong kind of fear — like in Harry Potter, where people actually give Voldemort more power because they are afraid even to say his name.  Instead, he’s “you know who,” or “he who must not be named,” and he has a lot more power than he deserves.  I’m sorry that in our culture, this is even a controversial position.

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

This is the farmhouse house in Virginia before we bought it.  I know it’s before we bought it because the owner cut down the flagpole when he left, leaving us a stump of PVC pipe.

We bought the house for the land:  Rolling hills, the Blue Ridge mountains in the background, the willows along the driveway, the woods off to the right and up ahead.


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