Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Monday, November 23, 2009

Thought for the day...

Oh my Lord in Heaven, Jesus Marimba and a Jesus Jello mold, will someone please remind me if I ever try to take 209 from Lake Junaluska to Hot Springs, N.C. again that suicide is a better option?

Needless to say--will not be visiting Asheville again until the rockslide on 40 is cleared. So exhausted, I'm weepy.

And by the way, happy travelers--big FYI, the Park Service has gated Harmon Den--just in case you were thinking of taking the Deliverance Special around said rockslide. Thank God, we are safe from those wily hipsters.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I left the balcony door open last night so I could listen to the roar of Big Creek as I slept. It’s always nice to sleep to the sound of violent water. One place I stayed, while working on a Tony Hopkins picture in the U.K., was up in the Lake District. We were shooting in winter—at terrible time to be fell walking and wandering around the Finger Lakes. But we were staying in a wonderful old mill that had been converted into a B & B and the stream ran right below my window. It was like that last night. The rain fell all through the day and into the night so the creek roiled and foamed, sounding as though it were just outside instead of 300 feet down the cliff.

I drove about today for a bit to see the state of the flooding—we are high up enough here that flooding isn’t much of an issue except in the hollers where the creek travels. Water is coming out of every seam. Rivulets flow down the mountains, channel across gravel roads and paths. The waterfall on my property, usually dryish, pours liquid, polishing, punishing rock.

It’s wet. It’s too wet. (Cue spooky music)

And there was another rockslide. Geologists predict more. You can see it on tape HERE.

That's going to leave a mark.

I did stop to talk to Friendly Horse. Who you might remember--he's the horse that sometimes gets loose and stops traffic looking for a sandwich. He snuffled my fingers and let me know that yes, he was indeed wet. And did I perhaps have some potato chips or a Mrs. Freshleys Pink Sno-ball Cake in there for him. I didn't. Not even a stinkin' carrot. Sorry Friendly Horse.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Okay, I know I promised to finish this on Sunday, but I've been distracted by a few craft projects. And I've finally been playing with my drop spindle. I seem to have the hang of it, but thus far it's resulted in a twisty, slubby mess. Which I'm told is okay and once I become proficient I'll be unable to create what's called a "novelty" yarn. I'm going to knit a scarf from it. Or at least that's the plan. I'm really liking it--but I'm suspicious that my sheep have gone to their final pasture--ie--are dead. Haven't seen hide nor fleece of them for a while. Either that--or they've taken permanent residence down the mountain where they were spending the summer. They should have returned by now.

At any rate, I haven't finished the story--but here's the awaited Part Two:


“I know—let’s get him out of there and take a picture of the four of us.”

It was a bad idea whose time had come. They didn’t have too much trouble getting Junior out of the casket. As stiff as he was, he slid out like a knife from a sheath. There was a little wiggling and wedging involved but overall, Junior slid out of that coffin pretty easy. Once out, they were surprised to find that the nice wingtip shoes they’d included with his suit were not on his feet.

“Well, that won’t do,” said Boo. “I bought them shoes special for him for his 80th birthday party.”

Jim fished around in the bottom of the coffin, finally coming up with the shoes. “Here they is. They just put them down there in the bottom. Let’s get them on him.”

They tried to sit Junior in his favorite chair, a green pleather Laz-E-Boy he’d got at the factory seconds store in Morristown. Junior stubbornly refused to fold into a sitting position so they put the chair in the reclining position and laid him out like a board on a sawhorse. The foot part of the recliner kept going down so Boo got a cinderblock from the porch and propped it up. However, they soon found that Junior’s feet would not go in the shoes.

“I’ll get the camera,” said Jim.

What followed next would remain fuzzy in memory for the men, given the state of inebriation of three and the relative deadness of the fourth. When the film came back from the Wal-Mart Photo Center, the record showed that they first took photos of them standing around Junior in his favorite chair, stood him up and put their arms around each other, somehow wrestled Junior into his old hunting jacket and posed him with his rifle, took him outside and leaned him against his old Ford truck, then, for some reason, tried to feed him ice cream. Throughout all the photos, Junior remained agreeably and thoroughly dead.

The real trouble began the next morning when Mrs. Bess Truholt, one of Boo’s high school girlfriends who ended up marrying the late Skeeter Hall after Boo got too fresh with her on the walk back from church one Sunday, knocked on the door the next morning. Not getting an answer, she peeked in the window and what she saw made her drop that wet coconut cake and run screaming back to her car.

Once safely in her car, Bess called her best friend, Trudy, and said, “Junior Mantooth done rose from the dead, kilt all his family and ate them!”

Actually, what Bess saw through the window was the three men passed out in the living room in various states of disarray and Junior, propped in his chair in his hunting outfit, a rifle over his lap, melted strawberry ice cream smeared all over his face and leaking from his mouth like bloody drool.

Her car peeling out of the driveway roused Ed, who looked around the parlor of their house, the recliner where Junior, despite his deadness, seemed to have had too good of a time and said, “Oh shit.”

Sunday, November 01, 2009

There are some stories that start where they should have ended. This might be just that sort of a story. For instance, I might tell you that Junior Mantooth was a righteous man who lived a righteous life and died well. That would be perfectly true. I might tell you that two thousand souls attended his viewing and the streets of Newport City, Tennessee looked like a street carnival that day with all the folks who come down out of the mountains to pay their respects and to visit with friends they hadn’t seen in many a long while. That would be true, also.

When Junior died, Clarence Huff, the funeral director came to the house and respectfully conveyed the old boy to the funeral home where they embalmed him, dressed him in his finest suit and placed him in their white “Gone to Glory” model casket with the pewter fittings. The viewing was set for a Saturday with the memorial following. Then, he was taken back to the family home where the wake was to be held. An old-fashioned vigil was scheduled all through Saturday night with the burial on Sunday at the family cemetery next to his three wives, parents and deceased daughters. All of this was in accordance with Junior’s last wishes. He always said he wanted his final homecoming to be the biggest party the mountain had ever seen.

Junior’s family, whittled down to two widower brothers and a bachelor son, had been taking care of him during his long illness and as anyone knows, menfolk ain’t good for nothing around the sick. Still they managed best they could, making Junior’s final years as comfortable as they were able. But it meant they couldn’t go down to the dump and jaw with the other old boys, couldn’t bear hunt during the season, nor fish and drink like they wanted. So, not surprisingly, Uncles Boo and Jim, and son Ed, were a bit overwhelmed by the social whirlwind that was Junior Mantooth’s funeral.

All the widow women showed up with dishes of food when the boys had been living off cornbread and beanie-weenies. A few came and cleaned up the house for them. An endless string of visitors came by the house and signed the registry at the funeral home. Junior had been a popular man and a generous one. Rumor was he had made a fortune ushering geologists around the mountains. They also said Junior had hidden gold around the place in a fleet of old junk cars and that was why the boys never could get rid of all the junk around the property, so all those widow women were smiling especially bright for all three of the fellows.

The ladies from First Baptist, Edwina Assembly of God in Jesus’ Name and Bridgeport Church of God all got together to help coordinate the wake, following Junior on his final trip from town to his home after the memorial service. The daytime headlights trailing the hearse stretched for six miles on the drive back to the house. Buddy Don’s Barbeque catered the event and was waiting in the yard with three whole hogs for the mourners. The Heavenly Hay Gospel Choir performed. It did indeed look like Junior’s last wishes were observed to the letter and his going away party was a shindig to say the least.

By nine p.m., the crowd had thinned out and by eleven p.m. only Boo, Jim and Ed’s friends were left. Junior lay in his casket in peaceful repose. A few hip flasks were produced and they began toasting Junior and recalling his long life. It started around two o’clock in the morning after many shots of Popcorn Sutton’s finest corn likker.

“You know? I don’t think we ever got a picture of the four of us together.”

“Seems a shame, don’t it?” said Ed, a bleary tear rolling down his cheek. “It’s just been the four of us these past five years since Daddy had the stroke.”

Boo reached in the casket and smoothed the old man’s hair. “Ain’t seen Brother look so fine in a long time. Clarence did a real good job of fixing the droopy part of his face.”

“I know—let’s get him out of there and take a picture of the four of us.”

It was a bad idea whose time had come...

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of "Junior Mantooth's Last Outing!"