Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rockin out to "Ain't that America"

So, I have been living down in "The Holler" at SM's and TM's place for a year now, and to mark the "anniversary" I took SM and TM out on a secret "Anniversary GALA" trip last Saturday night. I planned a sequence of 3 interesting stops, each one stepping it up a notch on the party meter. They didn't know where we were going, but presumably they trusted my judgement because they showed up. I borrowed JN's car so there would be enough seats for everyone, and we were off. First we went by MH's house for a pre-baby visit. We admired the clear, organized fresh house that had a very nice peaceful vibe for the baby boy, who is due be born in 2 weeks. We also (well not MH) drank Bushmill's (Irish whiskey) on the rocks.

Next stop was Hillbilly's, a bluegrass joint down in Del Rio, TN. You turn at The Shack and go what seems like a long way, and follow the signs around many curves through beautiful country and ultimately across a narrow bridge and down a one lane dirt road through the woods to a clearing. You park in a field and go into the barn, where you will find a couple handfuls of old people and a bluegrass band. There was an old man at the door who told me it was $2 a person, and I gave him a $10 for the three of us. He couldn't figure out the change and got a younger girl to help him. We sat and listened at off key bluegrass, watched some really awesome 2 steppin, and marveled at the beauty of the scene. There was a cake walk, which SM and I jumped up to do (yes, I think we are addicted). SM bought some microwave popcorn for a dollar, and apparently she told the snakc bar guy where we came from, because after a while the owner of the place got on the mic and said "We have some new faces here tonight from North Carolina- I believe from Shelton Laurel." And everyone clapped for us. Several people came by and personally welcomed us and asked us to come back again.

Last stop, steppin it up a few notches, was The Shack. Let me just say that Saturday nights at The Shack involved lots of American beer, loud live music (rock and country covers), lots of cigarette smoke, and a whole lot of "special" East Tennessee style. The band of the night was Stryper, and they played rock and country covers. Ladies and men with mullets and other special hair styles danced to both the slow and the fast song. Apprently the bass player had a girlfriend, because some lady was dancing in his face and kissing him the whole time. I decided to drink Miller High Life, which was gross and fun. I admired the scene for a good long while, while SM and TM sometimes had nice slow dances with each other. After 2 or 3 High Lifes, when the band started "Ain't that America," I couldn't contain my excitement any longer and I danced like crazy with a handful of tough looking East Tennessee women. It rocked. I also danced the Electric Slide to "When the Sun Goes Down." SM and TM were really impressed that I knew it. Even the bar tender came out. I wanted to crack up but everyone else was taking it seriously so I didn't.

We left at about midnight to head home, tired and happy and satiated with East Tennessee goodness. I woke up the next day pondering the night before, my latest adventure of my quest to find culture and belonging in this place called The South and this place called America. Somehow, being welcomed at these regular po-dunk places where regular ole people gather for regular ole American music and drink felt really comforting- like maybe I am a step closer to actually beginning to have a clue what all the hype is about.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cinquefoil yellow

Check out this very lovely specimen of a wild flower that I allowed to naturalize in my garden. Cinquefoil (Potentilla) produces one of my favorite little flowers this time of year. Please notice the most pleasing shade of pale yellow. (That's right, SM, I'm talking about colors...)

Also, I think this is a lovely forellenschluss (spelling?) so I'll stick this photo on there too. Today is a very pleasant and mild spring day. Sunny, slight breeze carrying the smell of wild roses, and the spooky lull of locusts (technically cicadas) singing "pharoh! pharoh!" They hatch in significant quantities every 13 years...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A few of the reasons why my sister is the coolest person on the planet

1. She is the only person I know who can be so endearing with such a dirty mouth.
2. Her sense of humor rocks the galaxy.
3. She does not spend much energy worrying about the past or the future.
4. Her gratitude for the people around her is constant and unfailing.
5. She can ride a horse like nobody's business.
6. She will rag on daddy with me any time, any place (very fun activity).
7. She knows how to get great pleasure out of common everyday stuff.
8. Her brain, sense of humor and general vitality have majorly beat the odds.
Majorly. Basically, she's the toughest cookie I know.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Balm of Gilead

"There is a balm in Gilead, that makes the wounded whole.
There is a balm in Gilead, that heals the sin-sick soul"
-lovely song I remember from church

So I don't know if it's because I'm getting older or because I'm working my body too hard with landscaping, but my joints have been really sore and achy lately. It's to the point where sometimes I wake up in the night aching. I decided to take the bull by the horns and make some special ointment to rub into my joints to try and help with the soreness. I collected some balsam poplar buds (balm of gilead) and decided to make a salve using the otter lard I've been saving in S and T's freezer (bless their vegetarian hearts). I pulled it out and thawed it and then made a double boiler with a tin can on my little camp stove. I heated it up for a long while and then realized it was cooking. Apparently the hunk of lard had a hunk of meat attached to it, and it cooked in there... A little grease came out, but not enough. Luckily, I had a quart of bear lard that Rosemoon gave me, so I added it and the buds and cooked it up for a while. The lard turned a beautiful golden coppery brown. I added a little beeswax, and the whole concoction set nicely. If anyone needs some, just ask. As for the hunk of otter (tail)meat, I tasted it and decided not to eat the rest...