Monday, July 30, 2007

Well, the garden hasn't been a total loss after all. I'll have to get out and work around that which survived. I've got three tomato plants that look like they are going to make it and the squash is producing. My onions haven't done too poorly despite having the tops nibbled off. So that's okay. It made them bulb really nicely. And I've got potatoes and green beans.

Today I spent most of the day in K-town seeing my kidney doctor. Afterwards I found an Asian grocery store and got some miso and some stuff to fix sushi. Real soy sauce, nori and sake vinegar. Then on to the fish market and got a dandy bit of tuna. So, I'll be endulging in tuna rolls tonight. I might slice some of this just picked squash to roll up with my tuna. That will be nice.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Land of Blue Smoke

Hope you are having a very happy Sunday.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Last year's gourds didn't develop enough wall thickness to use. Not sure why. But the seeds from those volunteered and have been spreading like kudzu up the hillside. I'm just going to let them alone and not touch them until they are dry. Perhaps leaving them on the vine will encourage some wall thickness.

I do stuff like this with them.

And bird houses. You just can't have too many bird houses.

Friday, July 27, 2007

This is really a post about seasonal freshness. But I have this dandy recipe from the Cloister's Hotel on Sea Island in Georgia that uses some of the ingredients found from farm vendors on the side of the road.

If you drive into Newport, most any day now, but especially on Fridays, you will see folks selling corn out of the backs of their pick-up trucks. It's best to take these straight home and prepare them, since corn starts to degrade from the moment you pick it. From stalk to the table in under six hours is highly recommended. Sometimes you'll see an nice bunch of scallions like these shown on the right with the dirt still clinging to the roots.

My father's parents lived next door to The Cloister's head chef many years ago. He and his wife had a herd of chihuahuas who regularly dined on roast squab brought home from the hotel.

My family has a tradition of honeymooning at The Cloister, my parents went there when they were married and my brother went there as well. The food is amazing. My mother loved to talk about her time there and the amazing food that was served. I have quite a few Cloister's recipes, honorably obtained from their old head chef.

Though you can now obtain fresh ingredients year round in most markets, there's nothing like gathering them from local sources. Enjoy the season of plenty.

Cloister's Corn Soup

1 gallon chicken stock
1 cup diced celery
3 cups diced potatoes
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 and 1/ pint coffee cream
1/2 pound diced salt pork
1 cup chopped onions
1 pound fresh corn, cut from cob
2 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 cup flour

In a large skillet, fry salt pork and save grease. Strain and remove bits of pork. Make a roux by adding slowly 1/2 cup of flour. In separate pan, fry onions, parsley, celery and garlic in a small amount of chicken stock. When greens are soft, add to roux, stirring constantly. Add remainder to chicken stock, potatoes and corn. Allow to simmer for one hour in covered pot. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Allow to cook 1/2 hour uncovered; then add cream and serve at once.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oh, John the rabbit, Yes, Ma’am
Got a mighty habit, Yes, Ma’am
Jumping in my garden, Yes Ma’am
Cutting down my cabbage, Yes Ma’am
My sweet potatoes, Yes Ma’am
My fresh tomatoes, Yes Ma’am
An if I live, Yes Ma’am
To see next fall, Yes, Ma’am
I ain’t gonna have, Yes Ma’am
No garden at all, Yes Ma’am

~African American Folk Song

This guy stayed really still for me. He's a bit bigger than most of them out this summer. The rabbits are everywhere. The dogs aren't even paying attention to them anymore.

They look on in boredom as the hippity-hoppities pretty much run rampant all over the place. Guess I should get out my live rabbit trap plans. When I was a girl, my grandfather built me the most wonderful rabbit traps. During the Depression, he trapped wild rabbits then put them in hutches and raised them for food for his family. I think my grandmother passed off hare for chicken more than once at the boarding house they ran in Savannah, GA.

If you'd like to try building your own live rabbit trap....and it is an awfully fun thing for the kids to do....the plans for the same sort of trap my grandfather built me can be found HERE. Check first with your local fish and game department to make sure you are allowed to do this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It's been poring rain again today. But we need it, so it is welcome.

It's the perfect sort of day for reflection. Betsy and I were chatting on the phone the other day and she was trying to recall this quote about lawn mowers and well-poisoners. Except for the lawn mower almost sounded biblical. I was intrigued enough with the idea to try to look it up and see who said it.

The saying goes that there are three types of people in the world; gardeners, lawn mowers and well poisoners. The closest attribution to the saying I've found was that it was something that Walt Disney was fond of saying. I don't know if he actually was the first to say it, or if it came from somewhere else. And he actually said "life enhancers" instead of "gardeners". But "life enhancers" sounds entirely too L. Ron Hubbard for my liking, so I'll keep with gardeners.

I suppose, if the quote was older..."lawn mowers" could have replaced "hay makers".

The gardeners are the creative force. The people who reach out and give. They are the creators dealing with the messy business of making things and making things happen.

The Lawn Mowers are those who take care of the status quo. Who mow the lawns and make the hay and take care of themselves. I understand that Disney was a bit disparaging of the Lawn Mowers. He saw them as being self-centered. I don't necessarily hold with that. The world needs the Lawn Mowers. They give a sense of order to things. I need more lawn mowing in my life.

And then the Well Poisoners. I think we all know who they are. They suck the life out of everything they touch; they spread malicious gossip; they impact the world only in the negative. And it is the only truly great enjoyment they have in life. And for that, they deserve our pity. I mean, can you imagine what it would be like if your only happiness was derived from schadenfreude?

But I'm not sure three types is enough for all the people in the world. I have these giant goldenrod like plants taking over my pasture that nothing will eat. They just sit there and grow to seven feet tall and over run everything. I've tried cutting them down, poisoning them, the damn things are seemingly indestructible. The locals call them "stick plants". Because they leave a hollow giant sticks in the ground when they die. I'm thinking we need a category of people for the stick plants. Those people who just exist and take up resources. They aren't as bad as the Well Poisoners, but they aren't actually good either.

Cousin Pastor Jimmy says Pigs will eat the stick plants...but not much else will. I'm thinking of getting me a few pigs and see if they will clear them out.

So...I'm seeing four types of people in my world. The Gardeners, the Lawn Mowers, the Well-Poisoners and the Stick Plants. I can probably come up with more.

I wonder if Dante started out with this train of thought and just got carried away?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I got nothin'. But here's a pretty picture. Not from's been raining all day.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The storms have been crashing across the mountain on and off today and I haven't been up to much. I walked up to the goat shelter to refill the water and feed the goats during a rare break in the storms. Not much in the way of rain, but lots of rumblings and rushing to yank the the phone cables out of the modem.

Friend Scott relayed a rumor to me that they were getting ready to put new phone lines in. I'll believe it when I see it. It may be much like the now stale 5 year old rumor of proposed DSL. In the meantime...the phones keep exploding.

In other Friend Scott news, he was hanging out his laundry at the pink house in the holler and was stung by a wasp. Normally this would not be interesting at all. But the pink house in the holler is visible to no one because of its secluded location, so Friend Scott often will dash outside completely nekkid to do chores like hanging laundry. He was doing this when the wasp landed on his nether regions. Unfortunately, he made the situation...and pain... much worse by energetically swatting said nether regions with great force and ended up moaning on the grass in the fetal position. He's okay. It was, as usual, perhaps more than I wanted to know.

My netflix movies arrived and I curled up on the couch for my once weekly anime otaku-rama. I've just started D.N.Angel. The dogs go crazy and I see that someone is coming up the driveway.

It's Pastor Jimmy come a callin'! I was really happy to see him and Pam. They are two of my favorite people! I meant to make it to church this past weekend but just didn't seem to make it. I feel a bit guilty since I was in the middle of my book reading orgy with the new Harry Potter book and that is certainly not a good excuse.

He and Pam were out hunting for serpents, but weren't having any luck. So they decided to stop by and see me.

We had a really nice visit and he enjoyed seeing all of my stuff. He really liked my Peruvian grave dolls and is going to make some like them. We compared the versions of stories that we both knew. He asked me about the Green boy who used to live here, way back when, who shot Jimmy's great grandmother. I told him the version I knew and that the family had to leave the area after it happened. It was a really sad story. The boy was only 11, which was much younger than I thought he was.

When they left Jimmy told me he was calling me his "cousin".

I consider that to be a huge honor. I'd be very proud to be Pastor Jimmy's cousin.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I've just emerged from 24 hours of reading, with one break to sleep, to complete the 759 page Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It did not disappoint.

My nephew, Austin, got me hooked on the Potter tales while I was living in Bluffton and recovering from my last bout of illness. We were soon sneaking off to go see the first movie...then the second. At age 10, he could already quote large sections of the text verbatim. We would often get together to discuss the finer points of the story line and where we thought it was going.

I knew from the first time I read one of Rowling's books that I was reading an epic hero tale. So, this last book did not hold significant surprises for me as far as where the tale went. I knew that. Though when Austin and I had our discussions, I didn't tell him that one of his favorite characters had to die, even though I knew that was coming. It had to come since that is the fate of that character in the epic hero tale.

But Rowling has winded the tale up as expected, but with that wonderful tale telling ability of hers that is so makes this oldest story seem so new. So, even an old scarred veteran of the hero tale like myself, can enjoy it once again with fresh eyes.

I'm quite envious of anyone first picking up this series for the first time. As I look up on my bookshelf where the now complete series holds a place of honor next to my Joseph Campbell books, Jung and Graves, I realize how much I'm going to miss this bit of mythos in my life.

I wonder if she will write something else now. She certainly doesn't need to. I wonder if she is one of those people like myself who write out of love and compulsion to the craft, without concern for what rewards it may or may not bring. Will the Harry Potter books be her magnum opus? Or has she got some other wonderful product of her imagination waiting to emerge from her pen?

So....are you reading it yet? Planning to?

Do you have a favorite character? Are you surprised I have a weakness for all things green, silver and a certain potion's master?

Happy Sunday...a good book on a Sunday is a wonderful thing.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sick of me waxing poetic about Carver's Apple Orchard?

Too bad....I got pictures of the food this time!

I just can't help it. This is one of those home style restaurants that is still family owned and operated. It's quite simply the best restaurant in this area in its genre. Part of it has to do with the setting.

Carver's is actually a family farm orchard. The Carver family has been growing apples in this area since the '40's. The restaurant is right next to the farm stand store. During the height of the apple season, you can find bushels of apples for sale there. The kids can watch them sorting the apples as they come in from the orchard. Not only your standard varieties, but also some of the rarer heirloom apples. My personal favorite for making my apple butter is the Mountain York.

If you are vacationing in the Smokies, this is the place to shop for real home grown produce. They buy produce from the small local farmers and sell it there in the store. All in all, Carver's is a true friend to small family farm. Additionally, in the store, you will find a dazzling array of canned goods from relishes to jams that are the perfect gifts to take home to your family. They also have Appalachian specialties like lye soap, apple butters and candies. And, of course, their legendary fried apple pies are available there at the store.

Kyle Carver started his orchard in 1942, hand grafting and planting apple trees in his cornfield. The orchard now sits on 75 acres in Cosby, TN and boasts over 40,000 trees and 126 varieties of apples. There is also a stable on the property and it's fun to watch the colts with their mothers in the orchard.

I took my friends there who visited from Virginia and they went back the next day. It's just that good.

When you pull into Carver's, following the brightly colored signs on Cosby Highway, you drive through a bit of the orchard. The restaurant looks over the 75 acres. The view from the restaurant is spectacular during any season. Vistas of apple orchard stretch towards the horizon where the majesty of the Smoky Mountains meet the sky.

One of my favorite personal touches arrives at the start of each meal. The wait staff brings a basket of these amazing little apple fritters served with apple butter and a juice glass of apple cider. They are sort of like cakey apple hushpuppies, fried golden brown. You will most likely want to order a spare order of these to take home with you.

The wait staff is always friendly and makes you feel right at home. The entrees are cooked to order, so be prepared to wait a bit longer than you might at a chain restaurant. But the wait is enjoyable given the spectacular view of the mountains and orchards.

The menu is very much home style cooking. This particular trip, I had the fried catfish, fried apples and pinto beans. Everything is very reasonably priced and there are many kid friendly items on the menu. Be prepared to wait for seating if you go on a Sunday. This is one of those places that is supported by the local population and is wildly popular with the church crowd.

The prices are reasonable, the portions are just right, and I have yet to have a bad item on the menu.

Be sure to save room for dessert. I highly recommend the fried apple pie with ice cream. Served hot with the ice cream melting on top, this is a real treat. These fried popovers are really you might want to share. The apple filling is spiced just right and covered with flaky pastry. It is, quite simply, the best fried pie I've ever had. Delicious!

Hot Fried Apple Pie with Ice Cream

How to get there:

I recommend taking the scenic route. Exit off of I-40 onto the Foothills Parkway about 10 miles past the second Newport exit. Enjoy the vistas as you wind through the National Park, then turn right onto Highway 321 (Cosby Highway). After driving a "ways" you will see the signs and Carver's is on the right. It's a bit of a blind driveway, so be sure to slow down when you see the signs.

The address is:

Kyle Carver's Apple Orchard
3460 Cosby Highway
Cosby, 37722
(423) 487-2419

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Caidy settled her little brother on her hip and gingerly eased her way down from the loft. He was groggy and starting to cry in great gulping yowls.

“Shhhhh…Shhhh.” She said, rocking him with her body a bit before handing the baby over to her mother.

“I think he might need a bit of tar and sulphur on his head, Ma.” Caidy pulled back the cap from the nursing baby’s head.

“I think you might be right, sweet girl. Can I ask you to take care of that for me tonight?”

Caidy blew her hair out of her eyes and grinned. “Yes Ma’am!”

“Don’t you have some starvin’ chickens waiting for you?”

Caidy grinned shyly and said, “I’ll just get the pone in the oven, first.”

“You’re a good child.” Her Ma said, tucking the hungry baby closer.

Caidy busied herself with the task of getting the breakfast started. She pulled the jar of cold milk and buttermilk from yesterday from the porch. The milk had ice crystals that chugged sluggishly into the earthenware jugs that she then set on the table. She cut slices off of a whole country ham and put them in the skillet to sizzle. Soon the cabin was warming up with the rich smells of baking cornbread, biscuits and ham.

She skittered out into the cold to feed the hens. She hopefully looked into the nest boxes to see if there were any eggs, but it was still too cold and dark for the hens to be laying much. She gathered six precious out of season eggs and secreted them in her pockets. She planned to save these for her Ma.

When she came back in, stamping the snow from her feet, her mother handed over the now full and sleeping Aidin. Caidy put her little brother in the crib and covered him with the baby quilt that their neighbor Lizie had made for him.

About that time the door sprang open letting a blast of cold into the cabin which had just begun to heat up. A tide of menfolk swarmed in, led by Caidy’s twin brother, Alvin.

Alvin heaved the large pail of milk up onto the table. He hooked his thumbs in his belt and said importantly, “It’s so cold that we didn’t get mor’n two gallons, Ma!”

Caidy was the only girl in the family. Her two oldest brothers were also twins, Caleb and Carter. They were out of school and working full time on the farm and favored each other so that you could hardly tell them apart. Each had a shock of red hair and freckles and they were very popular at church socials. Her next oldest brother was Joshua, then Random and Arthur. They all went to school at the Raven’s Branch Schoolhouse, except for Caleb and Carter.

Her father came up to her mother and kissed her on the forehead.

“How’s my pretty May?”

Her mother’s eyes shed the exhaustion and showed a glint of their pale blue as they were in her girlhood.

“Pretty May’s just fine today. And how’s my Jason?”

Her father straightened up and gave her mother a small smile. He was a tall, massive man with weathered hands and a gentle face. The bones of the mountains were etched into the lines on his face.

“Your Jason is in a fine meddle, I reckon. Now that you’re here.”

As many times as Caidy had heard the same words they spoke to each other, it never failed to make her feel safe and loved.

She smiled to herself as she started to get the food on the table.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

SusieQ has tagged me for a meme. I'm to write eight random facts about myself.

Now don't all excited about me doing Susie's meme and think you can tag me for your next meme. I am indeed sort of meme'd out. But, I was really sick all day yesterday and I'm still a bit fragile today, and other than Black's Market getting broken into over the weekend, it's a slow news day in Grassy Fork.

Here are the meme rules, which I am going to totally break.

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts. 2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves. 3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. 4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. 5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

I'm not tagging anyone. Instead, in keeping with the spirit of memes in general, I'll just post some random links of some of my favorite bloggers to spread the free link love. If you want to pick up the's your choice.

Random Facts about Rosie

1. She likes to eat Raisinettes dumped in her popcorn at the movie theater. It's the only place she does this. So if she has a really bad craving...she might actually go see a crappy movie just to have the popcorn and Raisinettes.

2. Christopher Reeve once kissed her. (Okay, it was a friendly goodbye kiss, but it absolutely was a kiss!)

3. She has a much shorter life expectancy than most people....which is why she's trying to write so much, so fast and doesn't care if it gets picked up by publishers...who has time to wait for the submissions process? Not her.

4. She has a huge crush on Anthony Bourdain. We are talking about a giggling, blushing, sighing, sick-making size crush.

5. She was married to a Brit. She has no idea what happened to him or where he is now. But she remembers him fondly.

6. She holds grudges. But she's very tolerant and forgiving, so it has to be something really egregious to pull a grudge into play.

7. She has some letters her mother wrote her before she died. She takes them out and reads them and cries.

8. She wishes people wouldn't waste so much of their precious life on being mean. Or if they must...that they'd leave her out of it. Yes...I mean you and you know who you are.


Here's my little link cloud. I'm sorry if I left some of you out, but there are ever so many of you! Consider yourself tagged if you want to do the meme....or just sit back and soak up the link love. Maybe I'll start a trend with the no strings meme.

BusyBusyMomma, Erica, Bonnie, Mallow, Betsy, Peggy, Kazari-Lu, jbeeky, Kees, Leslie, Momma, googiebaba, Samuel, Paul, Ellamama, BlueMountainMama, Eric, Anne, Erin, Nezua,
V-Man, Manerva, Ron, ThreeCollie, Chad, Alice......

Sunday, July 15, 2007

An Old "Footlog"

I had some old film developed. This picture was taken very early one spring. I don't know if you remember me talking about "footlogs". Basically, bridges over the creeks would be built using two locust logs and then nailing planks over them. The usage of the term "footlog" continues here even for modern foot bridges of metal. I actually didn't quite know what I was photographing when I took this shot. Now I do.

It's the ruin of one of the original "footlogs".

I hope you are having a very happy Sunday.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Half Nekkid Mutton

As it turns out....shearing a sheep...not so different from grooming a cocker spaniel after all.

I didn't do it like the pros do. I didn't flip him on his back or take it off in one piece. We took lots of breaks to cool the blades down and let him catch is breath, but I think he actually enjoyed it. I basically just started at his head like I would a very matted cocker and peeled him out of it like a banana.

So now I have a pile of discarded sheep's clothing. Not sure what to do with it at this point but will stuff it in a bag to keep it separate from the next pile of sheep's clothing that is to come.

And that's going to be the hard part. Mutton is my buddy. He comes up to get his butt scratched and is a general snugglepuss as far as sheep go. He's got a spot under his chin that if you scratch just right, he'll close his eyes and moan. Slutty, slutty boy.

Chops is a different matter. He's not really into the "touching" thing at all.

Fully Nekkid Mutton

Friday, July 13, 2007

On a summer day in the month of May a burly bum came hiking
Down a shady lane through the sugar cane, he was looking for his liking.
As he roamed along he sang a song of the land of milk and honey
Where a bum can stay for many a day, and he won't need any money

Oh the buzzin' of the bees in the cigarette trees near the soda water fountain,
At the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings on the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
~ Big Rock Candy Mountain -
"Haywire Mac" McClintock

It's always been one of my favorite old-time music songs. I remember it playing in my grandparents house and it always brought a giggle. As a child, I wasn't much interested in the cigarette trees or the lake of gin, but the lemonade springs and the not changing your socks bit was intriguing.

I think, though, it was the little box of rock candy that my grandmother kept in her upper dresser drawer that gave the song meaning for me. It's the only sweet thing I remember her giving me. My grandfather and I were always sneaking off together to get Baby Ruth and Butterfinger bars to eat while we fed the squirrels and pigeons at Forsythe Park in Savannah. But my grandmother only kept this little sweet in her dresser and doled the little crystals out like gem stones. We would walk to Clary's Drug store and purchase them. Then they would be put carefully away in the same spot in her bedroom.

I'm not so sure why they were so special to me. It's not as though I was a stranger to sugar. Maybe it's because they came from her and were made to seem so special.

If you'd like a fun project to try with your children, you can make rock candy at home. It's an excellent lesson in crystal formation for those of you who are homeschooling. Or just for fun for those of you who aren't. Michigan History, Arts and Libraries has excellent directions HERE. It's great to add red and green coloring to use for Christmas.

And...after the kids have enjoyed their fun and gone to bed...rock candy syrup is a must have for many cocktail recipes. And if you make your own rock candy swizzles, they are great in coffee, tea or champagne cocktails.

Mojito Andaluso

1.25 oz Rum
0.25 oz Cream Sherry
4 Mint Tops
Juice of 1 Lime
2 Spoons Canned Pineapple
0.25 oz Rock Candy Syrup
Ginger ale

Muddle the mint, lime juice, and pineapple with the rock candy syrup in a shaker. Add the rum, sherry, and ice. Fill with ginger ale, roll, and serve (do not strain). Garnish with a sugarcane stick, fresh mint, and pineapple. could just do your own "Rock and Rye".

Yes...the lake of gin makes perfect sense now.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, you never change your socks
And little streams of alcohol come a-trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats and the railroad bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew and of whiskey too
And you can paddle all around 'em in a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the jails are made of tin,
And you can walk right out again as soon as you are in
There ain't no short-handled shovels, no axes, saws or picks,
I'm a-goin' to stay where you sleep all day
Where they hung the jerk that invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

I'll see you all this comin' fall in the Big Rock Candy Mountains!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I took this photo some time ago during a happier season for cattle. This little guy was with a bunch of other bottle raised calves in a pasture near my house. They all came running up to the fence to beg for some milk when I got out to take the picture.

The drought has taken a terrible toll on the folks raising cattle. And on the cows themselves. Driving around during this time of year, you usually see large numbers of happy, fat cattle contentedly chewing cud and enjoying a variety of summertime cow activities. They are disappearing from our landscape at an alarming rate.

Cows are pretty cool. I like cows. They aren't the brightest of your barnyard animals and they are messy, messy beasts. When I went up to help a friend decorate the graveyard this spring, the entire herd surrounded my jeep. I'd left my door open and when I came back, my car seat was covered in cow slobber. Bessie had evidently been licking the seat.

It's really sad right now. Hay is going for 35 to 50 dollars for a small round bale. UT's Vet School is about to auction its surplus hay off. It's going to be a madhouse. Some guy already went in and offered 35 dollars a bale for the entire lot. The pastures themselves aren't the usual lush green. Wilson's Livestock Market is backed up with cattle trailers every Saturday and the market has dropped out on beef. The farmers are unloading all their stock. The cows that are left are thinner than usual.

But here's a happy cow during a happier time.

Pray for rain and a good fall cutting. For the cows, people. For the cows.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I'm visiting with a friend today and she's telling this story about how her brother accidentally set her on fire with a fat stick. She was okay but it did singe her hair up pretty badly. Her mother put the fire out.

A fat stick is one of those super charged sappy pine sticks that you use to start fires with.

But out of the telling of this story comes a local cure that I had not heard before. It's for the croup or any sort of respiratory ailment that causes shortness of breath.

What you do, is you set the fat stick on fire. Then you wrap it up in a piece of "meat skin".

I'd not heard "meat skin" before, so I asked.

"Like a piece of chicken skin?"

She looked at me like I'd gone out of my mind.

Evidently, "meat skin" is a piece of pork rind...I guess a pretty big one with the fat still attached to the skin.

So, you wrap up the burning fat stick with the meat skin and put a spoon under it...I guess where the end of the burning wood/pork rind burrito is.

What comes out and is gathered in the spoon is a sort of kerosene/pork fat/pine tar elixir.

Give this to the patient and it will open the bronchial tubes.

She swears she's seen this save babies lives.

But it's not exactly kosher.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I went up to the spring tonight after putting the animals up to get a few gallons of spring water.

It's a PVC pipe sticking out of the side of the hill in front of the old abandoned Thompson Branch Baptist Church on Hall's Top Road. Scott tells me that the old fellow who was pastor here used to hold services for years to an empty church. This has only been a few years back. The mountain is already busy taking over the little lot.

It's wonderful water. It tastes like what the bottled spring waters are supposed to taste like. It's hard to describe if you've never had it, but it is sort of sweet. It comes out of the mountain ice cold on the hottest days of the year. My own water was like this before the pump fiasco and hopefully will be again once all the charred plastic taste has faded from my pipes.

This is the spring that Caidy, in my story, Bone Soup, that I'm writing would have walked by on her way to and from school. She might have stopped to have a drink or wash her face on a hot day.

I'm enjoying a tall glass of this water right now. Wish you could join me.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The two of us are piled into Betsy's little S-10 flying down the highway listening to Jethro Tull in the sizzling heat of this east Tennessee Sunday. Damn, it sure is hot. I've got my overalls on and a tank top with every inch of exposed whiteness slathered with Bullfrog sunscreen. My big straw farmer's hat has my cropped hair in a permanent state of bad hat head.

Betsy has her Cowthulhu t-shirt on. She's in love with all things Cthulhu. The dashboard of her truck is strewn with plush Cthulhus. I don't know about her...but I feel like a teenager when we sneak out on these jaunts.

We pull into the lot closest to the animals and farm vendors. Betsy is looking to see if a goat she saw at this past First Monday is there. She's been thinking about that goat a lot and regrets not bringing her home.

I'm mostly along to find more grist for my writing mill.

We check the guy's stall and the goat isn't there. But he does have a gorgeous and brazen display of home canned goods. You can get slapped pretty heavy by the USDA guys if they catch you selling this stuff. But everything was so lovely and I wouldn't have been afraid at all to take home boxes of the stuff for sale there to use on my table. And I'm a strict by the book canner.

They had canned green beans, beats, tomatoes, relishes, chow-chows and pickles. All very beautiful. Whoever put all those jars up put a lot of work into them.

We meandered around looking at guineas and turkeys until we came to the pig guy. Betsy had asked me about how to dig and prepare the pit for a pig pickin'. I gave my best idea of it since I'd only watched the procedure, which is an ancient male ritual involving much shirtlessness and cold beer.

The stoats were in the back of a small truck doing piggy stuff. We shot the breeze with the pig guy and wished we had brought a dog crate since there was a right handsome boar stoat, about at the age for cutting that looked like he'd fatten up real nice. I told the story about when I was seven and helped cut the pigs on my best friend's pig farm. I got to hold them by the back legs while her brother did the actual cutting. For those of you that don't know, you have to geld the young male pigs that you are raising for meat. They call that "cutting".

Betsy bought a gang of plushies from the lady next to the pig guy. She was looking for a goat one. The entire selection was sadly Cthulhu-less. She buys some nice pullets from the plushie woman's son.

We wandered around towards the one building that housed an army-navy store. Betsy bought some cammo shirts for her husband and replaced her army jacket that had gotten left out in the rain.

We only did about half the market since I was getting nervous about exactly how effective my sunscreen was going to be. I get a little paranoid and wonder if I missed a spot. Lupoids don't do so well in direct sunlight.

We found the real treasure trove over in the far corner of the market. I think it this circa 1950-something electric washer that drew us in that direction.

It's just like the one that a local woman told me she got in the 60's. She was so happy to get that thing. I remember thinking she was talking about an automatic one, but when I asked her about it...this beast was exactly what she described. Mangle and all. But this would have been a huge luxury after spending your days hauling water up from the creek to boil your laundry in vats of lye soap and bluing. She says that the modern washers don't actually get your clothes nearly as clean as these big machines or the boiling did. And everything would be hung out on the clothesline to dry. I think we forget that luxurious feeling of sun dried clothing. Sheets especially. Can you all remember that smell?

No, the real find of the day was a 50 gallon cast iron cauldron in really great condition. No thin spots or anything! Perfect for cooking up a big batch of applebutter, scrapple and a must have for any respectable hog killin'.

Or maybe I was just in a particularly pig murdering mood that day.

I've had barbecue on the brain recently. And home cured country ham. And crispy fried scrapple slathered in butter and sorghum. With some salt-risin' bread.

But it was a really good trip, despite the heat and glaring sun. We stopped off at a Chinese buffet to grab a bite on the way home.

I didn't buy anything, but I almost bought a pig, a bunch of guineas and a sheep. But I restrained myself.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Today Betsy, The Goat Yoda, and I took an excursion to Jonesborough to the Jonesborough Flea Market. I'll do a complete post on was hotter than H-E-double hockey sticks.

I got a picture of this lovely woman snapping beans for supper. We talked about how everyone has their own way of snapping beans. If you snap them too long, they don't fit in the canning jars too good. But these were for her dinner that night so she wasn't too worried about that. I thought she was snapping them a mite too small. I like a little more length on mine.

I remember when I was a child that I really hated this chore. I'd get all fidgety and I never could get the strings out. But it is something you get better at. But as I've grown older, I sort of enjoy the chore. It's a chance to sit and do something rather than being out in the hot sun hoeing.

I hope you are having a very happy Sunday. I hope you found a spot of shade to get out of the hot sun and feel a bit of breeze. Or maybe stick a toe in a cold mountain stream. It was a good day for that.

Happy, happy Sunday. The dog days are here.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Enough with the pity party, folks! Time to get back to work. I think it's time for a story!

Caidy rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and tentatively tested the air with her breath. She poked her head out from under the quilts and saw the steam emerge from the warmth of her feather bed.

Her feet hit the icy floorboards of the loft of the old cabin where she lived with her Ma, Pa and six siblings. She jerked her foot back as they encountered the icy coldness and then slowly put them down to adjust to the cold.

Aidin, her brother, snuffled in his crib. Caidy checked on him and pulled his little cap more closely around his ears. She saw the scabs and irritation that was part of having an infant in the fall. But water couldn't touch his head until the 1st of May so the crocheted infant's cap would have to cover the "cradle cap" rash until spring broke. Caidy did think it might be getting worse so she'd ask Ma if she should put some tar and sulphur on it. Though she grimaced at the thought of the smell filling up the bedroom.

Her brothers were already up and about when she climbed down the ladder into the main room of the cabin. But they hadn't tarried long enough to fill stoke the fire before going out to tend the pigs.

Caidy glanced longingly at her school shoes by the door. She sure would like to put them on to go get the firewood, but shoes were for school and not for chores.

Tucking her dirty blond hair behind her ears, she put on her shawl and hat and went out to the woodpile on the back porch. She grabbed as many sticks as she could in her thin arms and brought them in...using her shoulder and her hip to prop the door open.

For just a moment she looked over the frozen landscape of the farmyard and the mountains towering above the holler. It was one of those crystalline mornings where the entire land seemed to be breathing smoke. The creek was frozen solid and the usual murmuring of the creek was silenced as the water rushed, untroubled beneath the ice. The silence was unnerving. Everything felt dead in the pre-dawn light. February in Raven's Gap was a cruel time of year.

Her mother came in from the small lean-to bedroom she shared with Caidy's Pa as she was stirring the firebox of the big old cook stove. The water reservoir was warm from the leftover heat of the embers.

"Mommy!" Caidy said, "You shouldn't be up out of bed. You know what Nanny Hall said!"

Her mother had barely escaped death from childbed fever when Aidin was born and was still very weak. The midwife had gravely taken the 11 year old Caidy aside and told her, "Caidy, you are going to have to be the woman of the house for a while. Do you think you can do that?"

Caidy had looked up with wide blue eyes at Nanny Hall, the old woman who birthed most of the babies in these parts. Nanny Hall had long white hair and gentle eyes in her sun weathered face.

"Yes, ma'am. I reckon I can."

The fire roared to life in the firebox of the old stove. Caidy's Ma lowered herself with effort onto the bench beside the rough hand-made table that they all ate at.

She sighed with effort and said wearily, "I know, child." Her mother's soft brown eyes beckoned Caidy to her. Her Ma stroked the side of Caidy's cheek and patted the strands of hair escaping from her woolen cap.

"You are my precious angel. Did you know that? Did you?"

Caidy melted and grinned a snaggle tooth grin. Impulsively, she wrapped her arms around her frail mother and hugged her tightly. She hugged her with the desperation of a lost child.

Her mother patted her on the back and said, "That's my good girl! Now why don't you go up and get your little brother so I can feed him before he starts a'squallin'."

As Caidy scampered to the ladder to go fetch her infant brother, her mother watched her go. She drew the quilt around her tightly. Though the warmth from the stove was beginning to heat up the cabin, Caidy's Ma didn't know if she'd ever be warm again.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth!

It’s been a busy, busy day! I sure hope all of you had a great 4th.

I attended a large local gathering. The food, as usual, was spectacular!

I thought Scott was working today, which is why I didn’t drag him along with me. Then a woman who was there says she ran into him at the Food City and he’d been hit upside the head with a shovel.

When I came back to the house, there was a long sort of tearful message from Scott asking me to come over, so I bedded down the goats and headed over to the pink house in the holler.

Basically, a tragedy happened during his camping trip up in the Gulf this past weekend. The attempted murder sort of tragedy with Scott as the intended victim. One of the campers, drunk on moonshine and about 20 klonopins, took a shovel and struck three blows to Scottie’s skull. The final blow broke the shovel. The metal part, not the handle. The daughter-in-law of the camper attempted to pull the crazed camper off of Scott and was struck in the forehead. She had to be airlifted to UT where she lays in an induced coma. Scott had a concussion. He did nothing to incite this and was sleeping at the time.

So, Scott is going to move back home to South Carolina. I’ll be sorry to see him leave, my great big buddy, but I agree with his father that he needs to get out of here. It’s just not safe for him anymore.

In other news, the neighbor has been busy committing social suicide by badmouthing me all over the mountain. I’ve heard of three places he’s been kicked out of for running his mouth. My muleskinner friend stood up for me saying, “That’s a real good woman. A real good woman. She don’t hurt nobody!”

I’m going to give that big lummox a huge hug next time I see him. Great big old sweetie.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I wonder sometimes why I’m so fascinated by the nature of faith. Or maybe not. I really know why I stand gape-jawed before the example of people like Jimmy or Miz Kayreen. It’s their ability to stand strong in the face of hardship.

Maybe I think by being next to them a little of that rock solid resolve will rub off on me. That unflinching knowledge that things will always be alright because God is so firmly on their side. They put their trust in something so intangible, so completely ethereal and yet remain confident that all will turn out in the end.

I guess I just want a bit of that sort of peace. Their hardships are monumental compared to mine. I feel ashamed and guilty for being so undone by this whole thing with the pump.

My water now smells strongly of burnt PVC. The fumes are so strong they would probably put my friend Erin, who has MCSD, in the hospital.

The pump guy was here most of the morning. He put a new pump and sunk it an additional 60 feet down into the 400 foot well. The good news is that I had that extra 60 feet to go and that he doesn’t think, as he originally did, that I needed a completely new well drilled. The bad news is the 1000 dollar bill I keep looking at with unbelieving eyes.

But this is nothing compared to outliving your child. Or being one of the last of your kind and watching the demise of your religion like Jimmy. Or waiting for death with the ghost of your husband, twenty years gone, like Mizz Kayreen. Each of these people will tell you how blessed they are.

I drove the jeep up to Hall’s Top where luckily, that spring had not dried up, this morning. I stood there weeping softly as the water slowly filled up my two 6 gallon tanks and two gallon jugs. I wonder to myself how many women with real cause to weep stood at this spring or some other in these hills. Women who did this every single day of their lives and carried that water on bowed shoulders swinging buckets on yokes made for people, not oxen.

So I’m running my taps in the house on full trying to get the dreadful stench from my pipes and water heater. I still have the water I collected from the spring for drinking and hopefully the smell will be gone enough soon to water the livestock. They have a half a bucket left up there, but the geese are starting to get cranky.

So, I feel a little foolish for feeling like I’m forever scrambling to meet the lowest tier of my pyramid of needs. I think water is down there somewhere. I’m just not worthy of women who came before me here.

Someday I’ll tell you about Libby. She and her husband scraped together a meager existence cutting firewood. He would cut it in the deep woods and then pile it on a pallet. Then Libby would harness herself in and drag it up the mountain. She never had enough to eat and the two of them didn’t seem to have the same sort of survival skills others seemed to have here. Skills that enabled them to put together a life in these hills from practically nothing. They were probably a lot like most of us.

But, I’m feeling a bit pitiful. And embarrassed for feeling so.

I wish I had the sort of faith that let me take this all in stride.

I’m such a wimp.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I ended up not going to First Monday today, much to my regret. Betsy, The Goat Yoda, went...she left a great comment on Sunday's post about it. . I would have loved to have gone with her! She saw Red and the Missus and they asked how to get in touch with me. I must go next Sunday...if only to catch up with them.

My well ran dry again, today. My fellow who built my house told me to cut the power to the pump when it did that. All I did was try to fill up the 5 gallon water buckets up at the goat shed. I maybe got 15 gallons of water before it stopped. So...I'm sitting here again wondering what in the world is going on. I've gone over the entire house for leaks except the crawlspace. Will call Clinton to come and look under there....then I guess the next step is to pull the pump up and see if it has something wrong with it. I really don't want to have to redig the well...aside from being hugely expensive...I have a really sweet pocket of water and there's no telling if I go deeper if I'll maintain that quality.

The Dreaded "Grampus"

The first year I lived here, I attended a large 4th of July gathering that went on well after dark. I stayed late to help clean up. I used my jeep to shine light on the food while we were putting things up and left my doors open.

Anyway, it filled up with hellgramites...the evil looking creature on the left there. Those pincers aren't just for show. That's a four inch long bug, too. The locals call them "grampus".

So, I give two lads a lift up the mountain with me and about halfway there, the grampus' start gnawing on my legs.

I do indeed scream like a girl.

The boys thought this hilarious. They get the larvae of these things, huge white grubs with pincers, and use them for trout bait. Even then you have to pinch off its head since they'll bite you.

I want to publicly say thank you to everyone who has supported the Breakdown. It is really appreciated. is.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed my out of town bloggers visit. It's really nice to put faces on the emails.

Last night I took them to Pastor Jimmy's church for service and they really loved it. I kept glancing over to make sure they weren't ...well...freaking out. The music was really wonderful. Pastor Jimmy brought a huge copperhead in, but the anointment did not hit anyone so he stayed in his box. But they found it as charming and delightful as I do. And Pastor Jimmy really liked them as well. I'm a little jealous because he's going to paint them some folk art!

I had a scare this morning. The well had run dry and I thought I was going to have to get a new pump. But it just needed to fill up and I now have water again. I wasn't looking forward to hauling water from Hall's Top over here. The closest spring that feeds the cow pond across from Valley View has already run dry as well.

Hope you are having a very happy Sunday!

Tomorrow is First Monday!