The locksmith eyed this birdfeeder and mentioned it might attract more bears than birds...oops.

Monday, July 26, 2010

There's Adventure in Them Thar Hills

Today began with an an adventure up into the hills to search out a man using Mr. Tom's most wonderful directions: Drive up Boardtown a-ways and turn on Bushy Head right by a car shop and go on up a-ways till you see a firewood for sale sign. So I'm driving and looking for Bushy Head and come up upon Mr. Turtle moseying down the highway. "No, no, Mr. Turtle! You're gonna go and get yourself runned over!"

Silly turtle.

I drove and drove till finally, there was Bushy Head Rd. I stopped and took this picture just as the farmer on a tractor had his back to me. Folks in shiny Japanese cars taking pictures are eyed with suspicion around these parts.

 (Note to self: drive the dodge truck next time)

I'd stuck a Red Rock ginger-ale in my purse in case I needed a prop to convince any local folk I could be trusted. You just can't be too careful in the mountains.

There isn't a picture to show what happened next. It's not that I didn't want to take a picture... I did.

 Truly I did.

 When I pulled into the gravel drive and saw the folks on the trailer's front porch, smoking cigarettes and wearing John Deer caps, as the chickens rooted around in the bushes and the little goat kicked up his heels, I reaaally wanted to take a picture.

 But all conversation had stopped when me and my import car pulled in so the timing was a bit off.

I helloed the house, again no conversations..just stares, and asked if someone named Claude lived there. The distinguished older gentleman with the one tooth right smack in the front leaned forward and said that would be he.

 Again, the other four folks on the porch just stared at me and I'm quite certain the chickens were also staring too. "I, uh, um, well....I, um..TOM BALLEW sent me!!" Whew, thank the good Lord for folks like Tom who have lived in these hills all his life and knows everybody's uncle.

 The whole porch seemed to settle a bit after that and I explained I was looking for some tree work.

We talked trees, chickens, firewood, goats, horses.... copperheads, rattlesnakes ... I was disappointed he had seen more rattlers than copperheads, didn't like that news.

 He went on to tell about all the deer in this here parts and got up, opened the squeaky screen door and said "Come on in and look at all the deer I got me mounted on the wall!" Now, let me just say that as I followed him into his house, every cell of my body was fully aware I had no business casually walking into a stranger's house to see his dead deer.

 I mean, didn't my daddy raise me better than that? But, no...I just walked right in after him like nobody's business. Honestly, though, I was impressed by the virtual herd of deer on the wall. He was right proud and I could see why. They probably hadn't eaten beef in five years for all the venison.

I went back out onto the porch talking about all the guns my husband had and figured it was safe to make a polite exit. I'd not even had to pull out the Red Rock. They had welcomed me, showed off the house-o-deer, and treated me like a regular local. I said my goodbyes, and walked to my car, aware of the five folks staring at my back.

 All I had to do was put in the key and drive away. And I'd have liked to have done that...but when I went to pull out my car key, it wouldn't come out of my pocket. The ring was somehow tightly wrapped around the threads deep in my pocket!

 I stayed calm, smiling and waving...closed the door behind me, still tugging with all my might at the key. But it wasn't budging. "Bye now! Bye!" Come ON key! "Bye-bye!"

 They were all just sitting still and staring by now. I finally had to meticulously move the threads through the rings of the key chain and rip it off. I drove out of the drive feeling sooo embarrassed!

Next, on to the hardware store. Hardware stores in the mountains carry different things. You can buy all your clothes, shoes, furniture...just about anything you'd need.

I asked the gal working what folks put in these barrels and she kinda smiled with a twinkle in her eye.

Look at these beautiful bowls!

And walking sticks! I always wish I had a stick when I walk up here in case there's a dog, or snake or bear.

I think I've seen this exact china pattern. It was the size of a dinner plate!

Late in the day, I stopped to meet a neighbor who lives on the corner. A sweet dear lady named Billie Jean. She's caring for her husband, Clint, who has Alzheimers. She said it was the hardest thing she's ever done.

 When I knocked on the door, she hollered out, "Let me git my clothes on!" Oh dear. They have a fresh and fast-growing vegetable garden being farmed by another man. Billie Jean said Clint thinks she planted it and he keeps wanting to cut it all down. I got to pray for her back which had been broken years ago and left her in pain. I'll be back to sit on the porch with Billie Jean soon.

One thing Anna and I noticed about this town is there are no pretentions. No one puts on airs. Just look at this menu. They're actually advertising Campbell's soup. No airs at all...

And although it's not on the menu, I asked if I could have some corn hoecakes. After my dinner, I sat on the porch while an evening thunderstorm rolled through and felt the temps fall so much that I needed a sweater. In fact, it got so cold, I had to go inside and watch the Bachelorette. I love the mountains!

My, How Boys Have Changed...

Today I talked with my Ellijay neighbor, Jack, about his boyhood. After his daddy passed on, he worked to earn money for the family by getting up each morning at 4 am, that's right 4am...the time when many teens are just getting off their cell phone nowadays....and riding his bike out to the country to walk the creek and check his muskrat traps. Then he would ride back, skin the animals and sell the pelts.

He also had a paper route. He was just a lad but he did what needed to be done to take care of his family. I know my own husband also got up at 5:30am on the weekend mornings to deliver papers and during the week, worked every afternoon after school.

All the kids who grew up on farms had to feed the chickens early in the morning...

Work in the garden, pulling weeds and harvesting vegetables and I'm sure hulling peas and shucking corn...

And every boy was responsible for providing the family with ample kindling. They had to know how to handle an axe, knife and .22 rifle by the time they were five.

This was also back in the day when all young men...that was ALL young men joined the Navy, Air Force, Army, Marines or Coast Guard after high school or even dropped out of high school to join the forces to help support their family. My own daddy joined after his junior year and sent all his pay back home to his mama and five siblings.

So...that brings us to the youth of today. Who stay busy. In fact, quite busy. They trap and kill things too....

And stay involved with the family food supply...

And deliver news....

All this work wears them out...

Our nation was built with hard work, sweat, tears, long hours and sometimes spilt blood. It was called sacrifice and it didn't always feel good. Our parents had character, integrity and a faith they'd die for. We're consuming the fruit of our parents' labor. It will sustain us a little while longer and then it's time for the youth of today to step up as the leaders. They probably think they can do a better job. Every generation believes that. I hope to God they're right.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Miss Bumble!

Today I was browsing in Miss Bumble's Shop on Etsy. With a name like Miss Bumble you know there will be wonderful, creative tiny things that you must take home! Why just look at these little cutesy pies!

What a different morning you would have if you woke up with these tiny felted friends perched on your bedside table!

This little renaissance bunny is obviously about to pen a romantic poem... And doesn't it look like he crafted his pen from a dried carrot? Smart bunny!

And this little green-eyed kitty has a tiny cream mouse tied up in rope. Naughty kitty...

And I'm quite sure when Wooley Lamb stands up, her sweet little pink dress won't even begin to cover her fuzzy little bottom. Don't stand up in the garden Wooley Lamb! Those taters have eyes!

And just look how Cocky Rooster is lifting up a sharp clawed foot! Reminds me of when Beau went in the chicken coop and tried to make friends with mean rooster. Run for your life!

I think I would carry all these little felt friends with me everywhere I went. The doctor would come in to see me, and I'd have to gather them all off of the examination table. Or the teller would say, "Next?" and in a flurry they'd be lined up like new customers waiting to deposit their shiny pennies. There's probably a new droid application that makes peeping little clucks, moos, baaas, and mews from deep inside my purse. Come to think of it, I'm quite certain I heard a rooster crowing in Anna's room just the other day. She must have found that very thing!
Oh, the possibilites!

Friday, July 16, 2010


Today, Fed Ex was delivering my much-feared (by me) Droid X cell phone. I was to stay in the house all day waiting for the knock on the door. However, an unexpected emergency came up in the form of hearing Mama and Daddy were eating at Matthews Cafeteria today because it was catfish day and "would I like to join them?"

Matthews Cafeteria.

 Just saying the name makes me sigh, and want to loosen my britches to make room for more vittles This family-owned establishment has been nourishing me and my kin for as long back as I can remember.

 In fact, the very first outing my son went on was to Matthews. He was all tucked in a snuggli like a papoose and I kept dropping fried chicken crumbs on his head. Not much has changed at Matthews. Ever since Diners, Drive-ins and Dives featured it, the crowds have increased, but the food is still the same. Fried chicken, green beans, macaroni and cheese, catfish, black-eyed peas, biscuits and tea, oh the ecstasy!

They always have a big ol' mess of fried chicken! Becky, if you're reading this, can you even count how many times we took the kids here for a big night of eating out?

And when you're done with supper, you can do a little produce shopping. Tomatoes, $1.75 a pound.

I found a tomato that was bigger than a man's fist. It was almost two pounds! I remember reading about a couple who ate tomato sandwiches for a month. The husband lost 15 pounds.

 Mmmm....a bacon, tomato, and lettuce sandwich with mayo on white bread. That's right...white bread. There are just some things better left alone.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mr. Nub

It seems there's a new fresh organic locally-grown fairtrade fruit and vegetable market opening in every town nowadays. All the suburban families pull up in their hybrid Hondas and peel off twenties to purchase organic cage-free chickens and rosemary/lavender blocks of soap.

I'm thrilled these places are popping up like weeds, but let's not forget who set the example for these oh-so-quaint and cute markets. The local farmer. His stand is a mess of wooden crates,corn husks and handmade signs. There's usually some homemade fig preserves for sale and most likely some mason jars of rattlesnake beans hidden away for his special customers.

The stand wouldn't pass a health department test and you might step on a snake, but thank the Lord for farmers. Next time you drive by a true farmer's stand, stop and spend a few dollars. They might not be the prettiest 'canlops' you've ever seen, but I guarantee they'll be the freshest!

Nub's is really puttin' on the dog with his new fancy sign!

Bless his sweet, ever lovin' heart. I asked him once where he got the nickname, 'Nub' and he lifted up a stump where there once was a finger. Publix could only hope for that kind of branding... (although Mama once referred to it as 'Pubic's', it's just not the same)

So fresh corn tonight for dinner...and hopefully I won't hear rattling from inside the brown paper bag. ( Last time there were apparently some of those big ol' corn worms that live in the tassels. I had to quickly run outside with the bag at arm's length and throw all the corn on the deck table.)

*It's been years since I wrote this blog post and Nub has since passed on to the great By and By. I think of him every single time I drive past his spot on Highway 54. God Speed Nub. Have some rattle snake beans waiting for me when I get there.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Melts in Your Mouth

Alright, alright....I'm well aware there has been a virtual flurry of blogging today but there's lots to say when Dirk isn't around to absorb some of the words.

Speaking of salmon patties ~ Apparently, I have been cooking up these little crispy delights all of my adult life and no one, repeat no one else likes them. How can you not like red salmon mixed with crushed crackers, garlic, olive oil, basil, mustard, lemon juice, worchestershire, flour and egg? I mean what is there not to like?

Just look at the golden brown crispy edges...and don't you know there's those little round bones mixed in, like little prizes just waiting to be discovered. Reminds me of Cracker Jack. Mmm Mmm Mmm.... But alas, I eat alone.

Anna was talking about 'branding' in her blog which reminded me of M&Ms.. Remember how they reminded us "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand" even though us kids knew that wasn't the truth.

Not only were we certain they would indeed melt in our hands, we found they could melt in our pockets, cars, and purses too. Even today, I find no improvement has been made in the realm of M&M melting claims.

How to Wash Your Clothes For a Nickel Per Load!

I love to save money AND do crafts!

When a new big box of Tide costs $16.99, it's time to make homemade laundry detergent. (Yes, honey, I returned that $17 box of detergent you just knew I would..) It's easy and only cost 5 cents a load. First, google coupons for Arm and Hammer Washing Soda, Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, Fels Naptha bar soap and 21 Mule Team Borax. You won't believe how cheap the ingredients are!  I have found all of these ingredients at my local grocery stores and also Walmart.

First, measure out 1 cup of the Borax. This is safe for the environment, including septic tanks. Sometimes the borax will clump in the box so just mash those lumps up.

Then, measure 1 cup of Washing Soda. (Washing soda? Who knew!)

Add to that, 1 cup of Baking Soda. (make sure to refill your baking soda box in the pantry!)

Add the last of the powders into the jar.  Next, get out the cheese grater for the laundry bar. Fels Naptha soap is found on the laundry aisle and is usually around 99 cents.  ( And did you see my jam jar funnel?  Love, love my wide-mouth funnel for this!)

Grate about 1/2 a bar of Fels Naptha with a cheese grater (the fine side) or a food processor if you know how to use it. (I don't)

Pour all the pretty bits of soap into your jar. This is my favorite part. It looks like shredded cheddar cheese and smells all clean and soapy!  If your husband happens to walk by, resist the temptation to ask if he wants some cheese.  That wouldn't be nice.  Funny.  But not nice.

Everything is now all there and is ready to be shaken up.

This batch will do 32 loads of clothes using 2 Tablespoons per load. That's right. 2 Tablespoons!  You can add an extra tablespoon if your load is large or especially dirty.  And how pretty does it look in an antique Ball Jar?  If you like a stronger scent to your clothes, you might add about 1/2 a teaspoon of that new Downy Unstopables. It's a laundry scent booster and comes in a tall bottle that will last you practically ALL YEAR and make you feel better about your own occasional misspelled word.  I'm guessing they're acting like they MEANT to spell it wrong but hey, maybe they haven't noticed.

Enjoy your new laundry detergent knowing you made it and are saving your family massive amounts of money while getting the clothes clean!

My Sandwich Love Affair

I am having a love affair with a sandwich. Daily, we're having a clandestine meeting at lunch. Oh, the ectasy! Grilled grainy bread in olive oil with sharp cheddar cheese, avocado, tomato and fresh basil leaves. It's a culinary symphony in my mouth!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The 4th in Ellijay!

Last evening we went to downtown Ellijay and attended the 4th of July parade. It was a far cry from the parade we usually attend in PTC, where folks are claiming dibs on spots literally the day before. Here, folks moseyed up an hour before the parade and set up their lawn chairs. The parade was made up of fire trucks, boy scout troops, local search and rescue dogs and the local famous barbeque restaurant represented by a little yellow car 'oinking' as it went around the roundabout.

There was a flatbed float with elderly ladies sitting next to black and white photos of loved ones from WWII, and there was also a float with the local mentally challenged adults waving as they said the Pledge of Allegiance. We ate our chili dogs and drank Dr. Pepper and waved to the smiling parade participants, so thankful we weren't having to dodge frenzied children risking their lives for candy.

This was what 4th of July parades should be...local folks celebrating soldiers, old folks and boyscouts with the odd oinking car thrown in. Next year, though, I'll leave off the chili dog...

Friday, July 2, 2010


Today I picked blackberries and a rooster crowed while I was gathering for my fact, he crowed the whole time. The sun was way up, and there wasn't any reason to crow, so I guess he just wanted to hear himself. I wonder if the other chickens were like, "Shut UP already!"

And..a dog down the lane tried to attack me. She growled and barked, which is fine, but then.....she began snarling and her back hair rose up like Cujo and she started lunging WHILE she snarled and frothed at the mouth.

 I actually got scared. I thought about throwing my blackberries at her, but I really wanted that cobbler. Betty White would have just sprayed her in the face with mace and kept picking berries. I gotta get some mace... Thanks Dirk for saving my life!

Midnight on the Mountain

So today we take ownership of a 3.9 acre plot of trees. We'll sign the papers, walk the land and promptly take an ax (or is it axe?) to some of the tallest. They're blocking our view of the mountains, and while it seems quite the necessary thing to do, it doesn't feel like a noble cause for the trees to die.

I wish there was logs-for-love like the locks-for-love, so we could at least donate the felled wood for some suffering carvers....or ukulele makers.

I have a new favorite show...Hot in Cleveland. Betty White and three other women share adventures in life. It's hilarious!

Last night there was intrigue on the mountain. At precisely 1:20 a.m., the sound of crunching gravel woke me from a fit sleep and I knelt by the open window to watch headlights slowly move up our road. Most all good christian folk are tucked tightly in their beds in the wee hours on Friday mornings, so the chances this was someone up to no-good were quite high.

The car paused by the entrance of our driveway, backed up (thank God) and headed down our neighbor's long driveway that leads deep into the wood down to their farm. They must have visitors coming in for the holiday weekend, having driven in from New Jersey or some other far-away land, I figured.

Satisfied, I crawled back under the covers. Two minutes later, the whine of an engine in reverse echoed through the night and I knelt by the window again and watched the car, moving backwards quickly, turn around, and leave the mountain.

 We discussed how someone must have been lost and most likely was surprised when they drove that long distance in the woods and ended up at someone's farm. (I'm thinking the farmer was at the door with a 12 gauge shotgun to emphasize that they were indeed at the wrong house).

So I got back in bed. However, not five minutes later, lights flashed on the walls and the car came up the mountain again, this time driving with purpose back down the long, wooded farm driveway. Someone was convinced this was the right drive. I stood by the window, listening for gunshots, hearing nothing but the whippoorwills, frogs and crickets. The air was literally vibrating with a cacophony of night noise, so I'm not sure I would have been able to hear any middle-of-the-night mayhem anyway.

 Two minutes passed and the car was back again, up out of the woods to head down the mountain. What was this? Late night pizza delivery? A lost holiday cabin renter? I'm guessing the farm family wasn't too happy.

Betty White would have just gone out, sprayed mace in the driver's face and happily crawled back under the covers.

So I'll be taking a nap later today...