Sunday, October 24, 2010

Starling Gentry Road

The name of the road is Starling Gentry. Starling Gentry was a real man. He was named Starling, like the bird. He lived on the road with his wife, Eleanor (Shorty)Gentry (King), and they lived the best 40 years of their lives in a little house tucked away down in the holler. They have both passed on, but are remembered fondly by those who knew them. Once I get my facts straight about some chronology and such, perhaps I will write more about Shorty and Starling here sometime. For now, here are some 2010 images from Starling Gentry, the Road. This is where I am setting up shop in the world.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Peak of the Week

I came back to the Mecho farm this evening to a most stunning and picturesque display of autumnal Appalachia. I took a couple of pictures, but then I realized I do not have the gear I need to put the pictures on the Mechos' computer. So I'm going to tell you about it. The farm is on a hill, which allows remarkable visibility of the sky and the mountains that border and penetrate Tennessee. (Ooh, I just said "penetrate Tennessee", cringe.) On the top of the hill is the church (see a few posts back for pictures of that). On the hill between the house and the church is a pen with one cow and about 5 or 6 sheep of different colors. When I came home, the pen was in evening shadow, and the top of the church was catching a remarkable a final stream of angled fall light. The mountains yonder beyond the church glowed a stout and bright rusty orange color, which happens to be what I consider to be a perfect color for a sweater. Above it all, the waxing moon was holding its own in a perfectly tinted Carolina blue sky. The only cloud to speak of was a faintly glowing pink wisp that floated close to the horizon. The air held stillness and peace, also hints of memories of the old mountains, season after season. A hefty collection of heavenly blue morning glories bloomed on the garden fence, a perfect contrast to the rusty mountains. The passing of time. The end of the light half of the year.
As night falls very quickly, I sit here in the house warming to a fire in the wood cook stove, sipping Rebel Yell and thinking about it all.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mama gets her milk on

For about 1 week out of the year (or 8 days as it were) I play animal farmer. It is the perfect amount of time for me to enjoy the company of hooved beasts- their personalities, the warm smell of large vegetarian mammals (except the pigs), and the chaos of a specialized high calorie per unit noah's ark of sorts. After one week, I am satisfied and pretty much good for about another 358 days or so, give or take a few. I began my farmsitting duties Sunday morning, and all has been well so far. The only SNAFU has been a sheep getting her head stuck dramatically in 2 layers of differently gaged fencing. Somehow. This morning Mom decided she wanted to come with me and learn how to milk a cow.

It was great fun, and only a tiny bit weird talking my mother how exactly to squeeze a teat just right. I mean, she is, after all, the Mother of mothers- if anyone knows about milk it would be her. With my sister, who was over 10 pounds at birth and was a lot of baby to feed, she still had so much milk she pumped it to donate to La Leche League.

Mom did great. Her form was stellar, and she wasn't the slightest bit jumpy when the cow shifted or moved her leg. Most people are pretty jumpy at first- a 1000 pound animal is a big thing when you are under its back legs... Mom and I shared the milk chores and she was happy to take home her hand milked goods!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We love Angelo

I am proud to annouce the birth of my new godson, Angelo Sacret Talbot! He is the son of dear friends Sally Robinson and Michael Talbot and was born Monday September 27, weighing 8 pounds 4 ounces. He is a precious love bundle who is heartily eating and growing and doing his job well. He is well loved already!

My mom (who is also a godmother) predicted Angelo's birth date, his weight, his length, and she was off of the time of birth by a mere 5 minutes...Uncanny. Real uncanny. And it was her birthday too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sepulture Part Three (sorry Eddie)

Eddie specifically asked me to not write a third part to "Sepulture." I just can't help it. Yesterday LC and JC dug out and piped the spring. I was real nervous it would get messed up or move or get mad. Something. I talked to it and asked mother Mary to watch over it. You see, the water makes the place. LC tells me that over and over and I believe it. He claims that he has drunk a total of a gallon of water in his life- just can't stand to drink it, but he loves water. He said the 3 1/2 gallons per minute that spring is flowing is more valuable than the whole rest of the place. I pretty much agree- that and the kick ass soil!
Anyhoo, they dug back in the spring until it was pretty clear where it was coming up from the ground. There was a rock bed behind it. A thin layer of gravel was laid, and over that was laid a 4 inch closed of pipe with slits in it. That was attached to an open 4 inch pipe and then 3 or more deep feet of gravel were laid on top. The whole ordeal was buried (sepultured) in soil so that the final result is a pipe coming out of the hill with pure water streaming from it at all times. This is the beginning of the branch that flows all the way down to Susie and Todd's and meets up with Gentry Branch, which flows to the Shelton Laurel, which empties into the Laurel, which ends up in the French Broad at Stackhouse. In case you were wondering. God help me Daniel Boone to take good care of that water as best I can.

Sepulture Part Two

Last week I was up at the land sitting by the little fire I had built to stay warm. It was a chilly day, and it was the day LC and JC were putting in the septic system (Sepulture Part One). The cell phone rang and it was RG, my old college roommate buddy calling. Her husband, JK, who is a professor of Appalachian studies at Warren Wilson, wanted to take a group of students on a spontaneous trip to Shelton Laurel to the site of the Shelton Laurel Massacre. She wondered if I knew who owned the land that the graves are on. I didn't, but I figured LC and JC probably did. Sure enough, they did. Turns out, their family owns the land that some of the graves are on. Of course. And they knew about the land that the other graves are on. I put the phone on speaker, and we had a couple of really funny 4 way conversations. It was funny because the dialect out here is strong in person, and really strong over the phone. Between the phone connection, the speaker aspect and the dialect differences, it made for a funny conversation. Finally, RG got some directions she was comfortable with and a name to pass on to JK, who called me later in the day and invited me to meet up with him and his group at the massacre site.

The Shelton Laurel Massacre, in a nutshell, was a real shitty thing that happened back in 1863. Confederates hunted down, lined up and executed 13 men and boys from Shelton Laurel because they had avoided joining the Confederate cause and for that reason were accused of being Union sympathizers. And on top of that, they had stolen salt from some Confederates in Marshall (probably because they couldn't get any and they really needed it to put food by for the winter.) They were killed out in the cold, and their bodies were left out on the ground. A day or two later, a lady from the community- I can't think of how she was related- came with a sled and they piled the bodies on the sled and took them up and buried them.

So I met with JK and the class and had an interesting experience with the people who own the house on the site where the massacre occurred. The woman of the house showed Warren Wilson students this device she has that supposedly reads your body's energy field, while her son stood in the hallway with JK and I telling us ghost stories about the house. He said as a child, a man in a grey uniform walked in with a rifle, aimed at the boy's head and pulled the trigger. He realized it was ghost a few minutes later. Creepy.

Just before dusk we drove down the road a mile or two to the site of the graves of the massacred. First we were told "no tresspassing" by a lady who lives on one side of the grave site, so we travelled around to the backside of the hill and climbed up into the woods that way to visit the graves, which are unmarked stones laying alongside some old Shelton family graves. It was a beautiful dusk, and an interesting journey.

Shelton Laurel way is a beautiful and remote place, and it is fascinating to think of people way back then living back in the mountains like that.

Friday, October 8, 2010


self portrait in septic tank

Sepulture Part One:
I now have a legal septic system. God help us all.

A few notes: The waste goes into the concrete tank from the house. The solids (aka fecal matter and such) sink and stay in one portion of the tank, while the liquids rise and go to another compartment. Then the liquids exit the tank and filter out into the drain field through 80 ft long pipes with perforations. The pipes are surrounded by styrofoam peanuts for some reason, supposedly to assist with percolation. The government maintains their position that this system is better than composting waste, as if mother nature didn't know how to take care of that mess. So I am legal. That won't stop me from composting whatever under the sun I get a notion to compost. So how do you like them apples, Uncle?

Stay tuned for Sepulture Part Two

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Evening falling upon Chapel Hill (Shelton Laurel, NC)

There is something about evening autumn light falling over mountains. I wish I could slow down time. Chapel Hill (Shelton Laurel) is quiet and lovely. The mountains make it so you can't see everything at one glance. I like this very much.

Friday, October 1, 2010


It's been a week packed with all sorts of intense life experiences for me, the theme being "the edge." There is definitely some sort of river of intensity running through my world and making me access strange but potent parts of my humanity. Instead of trying to write about all that, I will divert my attention to something easy and light to share with you: some (that's right-it's not all) of the various projects going on in my kitchen right now.

1. Fruit cocktail wine being racked... This is the process of siphoning the wine off of the sediment to improve the clarity of the final product. I made this wine several years ago when I moved out of the darned Garage Apartment. I took all the fruit I had in the freezer there, thawed it out, mashed it up, added sugar and yeast and let it do its thang. I forgot about it in Susie and Todd's outbuilding for 3 years, but guess what- it's fine! I might even throw in a litte muslin sack of cornmeal in there- Carl Rice recommendation to increase the proof of the fermentation.

2. Usnea tincture being made... I scored some lovely lichens on my recent little trippy-poo to Max Patch, and then I scored some more out at the land from some of the trees that Carl Rice took down and milled up for me. Holler if you would like some to help you ward off intruding winter ailments.

3. Pumpkin pie waiting to be made... A volunteer winter squash (candy roaster-ish in nature) grew out at the land this summer from some compost I put on a yellow wood tree. I cooked it up and am fixing to make a pie crust for it. My mom recently taught me the motherly art of making a killer homemade pie crust.

4. Unicorn/Pegasus hybrid clock with fake roses repair... Mary Helen (bless her) trash picked me this beautiful artifact at the local convenience store. I am going to try to take it apart and clean out the moisture condensation from inside the face. Then I'm going to polish the whole thing up real pretty and hang it in the Airstream. It is obvious why this is worth the effort.

5. Bottling and labling this summer's linden blossom mead, concocted by Sally and me on the summer solstice... It is clear and ready to go. I got my nerve up and asked Heidi (awesome artist) to make a label for them that I can reproduce, and she said yes. They will be in German, and they will be gorgeous. If you are nice you can drink some with me.

OK, that was easy, and relieved the blogger's block (how cheesy can I get?????) Thank you for reading.