Grannyisms: Like We Say Back Home

My great-great grandfather, Sylvester Kinchen, driving Granny and her little sister somewhere in his wagon, with a very hungry horse.

A tree full of owls, a calf at a new gate, a mouse peeing on cotton — my mom and I disagree on many things, but one thing that brings us joy together is remembering my Texan granny’s expressions. Grannyisms, my mom calls them. Granny was born into poverty in Dallas in 1905. She was no stranger to subsistence farming, and her expressions reflect that. Here are some favorites.

  • She looked at me like a calf at a new gate. A calf is unable to recognize a new gate in its pen until it’s led in and out a few times.

These are culled from a series of posts I did on my blog starting in 2009 (warning: extreme early aughts design): Talking Texan; Like we say back home; Like we say back home, volume 2. The second of those includes some great contributions from readers.

Writer. Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation coming from Random House, March 2022. Opinions mine. She/they.