Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Movie Night Review: "The Last One"

Jenna and I had another snowy movie night. Our mom suggested that we watch "The Last One," about moonshining legend Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton who passed away last year. The movie was a 60 minute documentary which followed Popcorn and his helper (whose name I missed) in the building and operation of supposedly the last wooden still that Popcorn would ever run. In a nutshell, the movie is recommendable. Most of the footage was filmed on site in the woods by a cold creek, and the movie is all business. Popcorn talks about his family legacy of making liquor while he expertly assembles the rig and runs the batch. Interspersed in that process are old photographs of moonshine history and also old time music. Every time Popcorn appears on the screen, he is smoking a cigarette. He also says, "damn" a lot, and his eyes have a unique appearance. I enjoyed the movie and learned some interesting tidbits about making corn liquor. The most interesting technical feature to me was the "tempering" of the liquor. Some other dude came in at the end and used his fine tuned stills to dilute the alcohol to the proper proof, using a bubble analization technique of which he seemed to place the utmost confidence. I loved that part. All in all, I could have really gone for some more anecdotal action, you know, more tall tales and such, but I can't complain. After all, what's not to appreciate about a man talking about (and only about) exactly what it is he is doing? That's something to be admired in its own right. Perhaps it is better to leave the tall tales to the amateurs...

Monday, February 22, 2010

It takes a village to raise a cow

To most Madison County citizens, Monday February 22 seemed like just another pre-spring mountain day. The sky was mostly grey, with occasional momentary displays of fragmented sunlight, a few drops of rain were spit, and by afternoon the wind was blowing colder air in from a new front. No one knew quite how to dress for the weather or what to plan for. Indeed, it seemed like a typical February day.
But in the barn just below the Chapel Hill Church (on Starling Gentry), a heart warming story of the courageous journey of one injured milk cow unfolded beneath the light of the wintry sky.
Maude, our milk-wielding heroine, assisted by the kindness and ingenuity of family and neighbors, took another step of courage in the 10th day after her "big accident."

Flash Back: It was Friday night, February 12. The night was dark. The air was cold. The ground was a solid sheet of thick ice, ice that could have been deadly to a thousand pound grazer should she have slid just a few more inches. Maude was making her way, slowly and steadily, back to the barn from the milk stand. She slipped on the ice and fell with a crash to the ground, then proceeded to slide down the icy driveway to the edge of the bank that drops off to the creek. After several unsuccessful attempts to get up (which caused her to slide even closer to the edge of the bank), she gave up.
"Dark was the night. Cold was the ground." Every time she moved, she slid a little closer to the edge. The Mecho family stayed out in shifts of 2 with her throughout the night, and every time Maude moved to attempt to rise, they leaned against her with all of their body weight to keep her from falling down the bank and into the creek.
"If she went in the creek, that would have been the end of her," remarked neighbor Todd Mahy in hindsight.

Saturday morning found the entire family cold, exhausted and nervous. And Maude was still down. Neighbors came to assess the situation and "lend a hand." "CR," another cattle man was "worried she broke her back." The vet was consulted on the phone; the prognosis looked bad. Fortunately, "Freddie" Nichols arrived with his trusty tractor, and he and others were able to carefully relocate Maude into the shelter of the barn.

For the next week, the Mecho family attended to Maude every 2-3 hours "around the clock." The injury was still unknown, although it was deduced that there were no broken bones. Maude needed to be "turned" every few hours so that the weight of her body wasn't applying too much pressure to one hip for too long. She also needed to be fed, watered and propped up to be "milked out."

Selena, the youngest Mecho explained the situation like this: "OMG! It was so much work! I was like 'WTF!"

Moonie, the eldest daughter, described the texture of the udders as "slimy and gross." (After all, an injured cow still needs to "eliminate like the rest of em."

Rosemoon was comforted by the strong support of both her internet and her "meat" communities.

By Saturday, it had been 8 days, and Maude still was unable to stand. "She needs to stand because her muscles are atrophying," explained the Mechos. Over the weekend, family and neighbors alike rallied together to "get Maude up."
Carpenters Charles Mecho, Todd Mahy, and Greg Adams designed and built a frame specially outfitted for Maude's dimensions. Other neighbors, such as James and Iliana Wilson, were on the scene for "consultation and general assistance." Rosemoon and Greg measured Maude's girth and found a simple design for a cow sling on the world wide web. Greg utilized some heavy duty nylon material he "keeps on hand" to sew a custom made sling for with which to hoist Maude up into the frame so that she could get some time on her feet. Come alongs and pulley systems were used and on Sunday, Maude was successfully hoisted to a standing position by many loving hands. There she stood, on atrophied and shaking legs, for 30 minutes before she collapsed in exhaustion.
Another attempt to hoist her up was made later and was unsuccessful, as she made sudden jerky movements which caused the frame to break.

Today was a new day. The carpenters reconvened to rebuild a reinforced edition of the cow frame. Neighbors gathered and assisted the exhausted Mecho family in hoisting Maude up to a standing position again. This time, she stood for nearly 3 hours! She drank many gallons of warm water which was carried to her lovingly from the house, and she enjoyed snacks of oranges, carrots and hay. Neighbors and family stood around in the barn, visiting with each other as neighbors do and watching Maude, quite literally, chew her cud. By the end of 3 hours, people were getting hungry and Maude was getting tired. Anxiety was high as the support sling was loosened and Maude began to attempt to lie down.
"I just don't want her to fall again," everyone seemed to be muttering.
The Lord was looking down on Maude today, probably from the church, and granted yet another small miracle. She laid herself down gracefully, with all of her bones (and her custom built frame) safely intact.

"I think recovery from here out will be a lot quicker," Rosemoon commented at the end of the afternoon.

And God willing, I think it will be too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Medicine of Consistency

Being naturally inclined toward routine and ritual, I find myself to be quite the fan of consistency. Since Jenna and I got home from China and she went and got herself a big ass flat screen TV and set up a special movie room, we have been having Movie Nights on Wednesdays. We didn't even really set out to make it a routine, but because of my inclinations, it has evolved that way. Every Wednesday I call her up and say, "Hey Jennatrix, what's up?" and She says, "Hey Danatrix, what's up with you today?" Then we tell each other the mundane things that we are doing. Drinking tea. Sitting in a red chair. Looking at the dog. Trying to stay busy. Being lazy. This and that. Then I say, "Well, I was wondering if you want me to come over tonight and have a movie night?" and she says, "Sure Dana, why the hell not?" Then she informs me that she would like me to bring a movie of my choice (usually a comedy) and we make a time (usually 7:00).
At 7:00 or thereabouts I show up at her house, with a movie, which she approves of, then without much ado, we settle in to the cozy movie room and fire it up. Jenna usually shuts the door, and sometimes Joey the dog gets to stay in with us. We watch the movie and I knit. I usually drink a hot toddy and Jenna has a smoothie. I always offer her a beer, and she usually says "No, but thank you anyways." We take lots of breaks in the movie to go to the bathroom, talk, and such, and usually it is over at 9:30.
We have done about 6 or 8 movie nights since China. The consistency of our little routine is noteworthy. But I think really important. The consistency (and even repetition) provides us a comfortable and familiar 3-d canvas within which we can make jokes, express our opinions, tease each other, laugh, and connect. I have experienced many surprising little moments during movie nights where I realized I was getting to know my sister better. A candid comment. An extrordinarily witty joke. An offhand remark. A question. It makes me realize that it is through the hum drum daily grind that life is most often revealed. If I can stay aware and alert through my routine, I can learn what is going on through the subtle gems that are hidden within the ordinary.
I am sure that our Movie Night ritual will run its course. I will not live 2 blocks away from my sister forever, and when I move out to the land, I will probably not be in Hot Springs available for a movie every Wednesday. But hopefully we will settle into a new consistency. A new routine that will be one of many steady, reliable stages which we can live out our tedious yet slowly evolving stories as sisters.

Some movies viewed by the Nagle sisters:
Legend (unicorn flick)
Barber Shop (hair cutting flick)
How She Move (Dance flick)
Harold and Maude (young man old lady romance flick)
A Good Year (Russell Crow in France)
Some Jack Nicholson romantic comedy whose name I forget

Some of our favorite movies:
Dirty Dancing
Karate Kid

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Cupid shot me through the heart with a double pointed arrow. Lillian Wren (Lily) and Forest Nathan have stolen my heart in a serious way.

They were born on the night of February 3rd to Julie and Jeremy, and really, they couldn't be sweeter.

When they get older, they will be sent to Camp Dana up here in the mountains. They are already infusing my dreams with visions of mushroom hunting, drinking pure cold water,picking spring wildflowers and talking to the birds. Forest might even be part bird. I think this because he cries out to his mama just like a little screech owl.

Lily is pure and lovely, just like her name. Their sweetness and perfection is absolute.

Julie and Jeremy are rockin it, of course. Julie is nursing both babies at the same time (called the tandem football hold) and Jeremy is already a master swaddler. He taught me about the five "S"s- the secret to having the "happiest baby on the block." Swaddle, Shush, Side (turn the baby 45 degrees), Suck, and Shimmy.

Now, to answer some questions. Yes, Julie will have a lot of help. Her mother, the "peepatrator", will be there most of the time, alternating out with Jeremy's mom. Their friends have a long-ish term meal delivery schedule already planned out, and I am sure I will be in and out of the mix this spring. Hopefully the twins will get on somewhat of a feeding schedule, and Julie can get some sleep in between feedings. My goodness.