15 September, 2019

Haint Misbehaving

Haint Misbehaving


"You'd better stay close to us or Soap Sally will get you. Mama, don't tell her that." The memory of the exchange between my mother and grandmother isn't exactly vivid but it has stuck with me for over 60 years.

"Who is Soap Sally?" I asked. My Appalachian grannie was only too happy to introduce me to the hag that roamed the mountains in search of wandering children. "If little children don't stay close to their parents, Soap Sally steals them and makes..." My mother quickly diverted the conversation so that her mother could not give me the full, gory scoop on old Sal. My mother knew that if I heard the entire account of that long-told Appalachian lore, she'd have me sleeping with her and my dad until I was 30. If you've any interest in just how evil Soap Sally was, you'll have to Google her. The havoc she spread is just too gruesome for our website.

Did you know that a spider webbing down is an omen of unexpected company? Well now you do. Of course everybody who is anybody knows if a black cat crosses one's path, bad luck will befall. If the ebony feline darts across the road while one is in an automobile, a lick on the finger to make a quick X on the windshield will circumvent the ensuing siege of mishaps. In my youth I heard that if you sweep under someone's feet it will make that person lazy. Even at a tender age it seemed if a person sitting on their fanny had to lift their feet feet so the floor could be swept, that person is already a bit lazy. I did not point that musing out to my grandmother. Placing a hat on a bed, well let's just say do it at your own risk.

Not all tales from my heritage are cautionary. As a kid, my parents moved several times. Each time we left a house, my mother cleaned that sucker from stem to stern. It was her gift to the new occupants. She also left a penny (heads up) over the front door to bring them good luck.

Appalachia is not the only culture to rely on oral histories to explain and control. It has been occurring for centuries. The forerunner to Soap Sally was the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, teaching children to stay close to home for safety. Walt Disney's movie, Bambi, was lauded and loathed for its cruel reality. Appalachian parents could not park the kids in front of the TV for Mr. Rogers to raise while they planted, cooked, hoed, reaped and sewed. They loved their babies and did what had to be done.

I don't believe everything my grandmother told me but who knows, maybe I'm here to opine because I stayed close. Soap Sally wouldn't go near a child under the watchful eyes of an adult who loved her.

Come up and see us and we'll keep the Haints at bay.

17 August, 2019

M-E-O-W




M-E-O-W

She had never laid eyes on me before. To fondly recall an old saying used by my mother, she didn't know me from Adam's house cat.

I wasn't there to browse. I was on a mission. I'd stopped to buy stencils for a project at our newly purchased bed and breakfast inn in Hiawassee, the county seat of Towns County, GA.

She greeted me warmly and when asked, told me exactly where to find the object of my desire. After selecting, I placed the stencils on the counter to begin our transaction.

Obeying the edict from the never leave home without it crerdit card company, I proceeded. "We don't take credit cards" she politely said. I had, however, left home without money. I had not a penny to my name. "I'll dash home for the money and be right back" I said. "Just take them with you and pay me when you're back this way."

Did I hear that correctly? Yes, I had. I drove home in a state of shock with the stencils. I promptly took the money for the items to Noblets 5 & 10. Now, those stencils didn't cost much, but the kindness and trust extended to me, a total stranger, made me feel like a million bucks.

I don't know a thing about Adam's cat but I was the cat with the cream. What a great place John and I had chosen to live. Purr, purr.

Fun abounds in Towns.

 

29 June, 2019

Ten Years - WOW!


Ten Years - WOW!


At times it is hard to believe Dale and I have been here ten years. Sometimes it seems like we've only just begun.

We have met so many wonderful people over the years (and a few not so wonderfuls as well), and have developed friendships with many of our guests. We see some here when they come back to stay with us, some just stop by for a visit if they're passing through the area, and several that we've stopped by to see when we're near where they live.

Being innkeepers has been a learning experience for us in so many ways. And about so many things.

My idea of cooking when we opened the inn was to stick my head in the kitchen door and yell "is it ready yet?" Dale thought I should learn to cook some breakfast menus. With her patient instruction I've learned to cook quite a few breakfast items that appeal to our guests. Either that or they clean their plates rather than tell me that it is dreadful.

I still have a way to go when it comes to cleaning bathrooms. My business partner is meticulous about the bathrooms and they are always spotless.

We received some sage advise when we were getting ready to be innkeepers. It's called a bed and breakfast for a reason, so have comfortable bedding and satisfying breakfasts.

And that's what it's all about! Hope to see you soon here in the beautiful North Georgia mountains.

John

 

13 May, 2019

Get Ready 'Cause Here It Comes


Get Ready 'Cause  Here It Comes

 

Happy Spring. When did my semi-obsession begin? Oh, I remember now. Before attending Culinary School in 1992, I knew about boat ramps, handicap ramps and runway ramps. I've had and seen my share of rampages that caused running amok and going berserk. I knew that greedily spread gossip and some diseases run rampant and the ramparts cited in the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem, were gallantly streaming. I was totally ignorant of what was causing some of my fellow students from the Appalachian area to be so howling-at-the-moon giddy.

It was, of course, the upcoming ramp season. Ramps, so called mainly in the Appalachian Region, and wild leeks elsewhere, would soon be ready for harvesting. "What are they and what's grand about them?" I asked. The exuberance and euphoria from those "in the know" made me feel like a heathen who had inquired about their religion. Conversion time was nigh. No more questions were needed. Once the bits were champed, the horses ran rampant.

Being a liker of leeks, onions, shallots, and other allium species, my interest was peaked. Trying to listen with attention to six voices at once, I gleaned that the eagerly awaited ramps were available for a short time. Aside from being used in zillions of recipes from pickles to pizzas, they were foraged. Foraged! I knew what that meant but had never done it. I guess my tribe had been hunters, not gatherers. Finding good food still in the earth where it grew with the Blue Ridge Mountains as the grocery store sounded a pleasurable romp. Arrangements were made. My classmates and I met and motored to ramp land. We foraged.

Some people taught and some people learned. Hunting wild game requires stealth and silence. Ramps don't run no matter how much chatter is chatted. Warm sun, blue sky and interest-stimulating companions made my first foraging foray far-out fun.

Now is the time to plan your own Ramp Romp. If you've never foraged or eaten ramps ask around for guidance. Proper method in harvesting will help ensure a great crop next season. If you're a veteran "ramp tramp" please share your knowledge and company.

Ramps aren't the only delicacies to be foraged in these here parts. A beautiful Chanterelle Tart, shared with my selected sisters, Anne, Grace and Maggie and served with a fine white wine, made me a true believer. Hallelujah. Dr. Phil is right about two sides to everything so if you don't know without a doubt what it is DON'T EAT IT! Next, don't plan a first date for a day or two after enjoying ramps. Trust me on these.

Thanks to Joan Crothers for sharing her ramps with me. They froze beautifully.

24 April, 2019

True Confession


True Confession

Okay, here it comes. Real dirt. On July 27, 2018, I stepped out on my Husband John. I feel no remorse or guilt.He had been warned, and even invited to join me for my heavenly encounter.

Fact is, I had hoped to make a "polite orgy" of things. Minus the debauchery, of course. The time had been prearranged, and because my date has such a structured calendar, could not be changed for my convenience.

Wanting to share in my ecstasy, the emotion not the drug, a mock invitation was run up the flagpole. To be held at Hamilton Gardens at Lake Chatuge, hot beverages, a nibble or two, and activities for a dark summer night were planned. The mock invite was nixed.

Though disappointed, I remained undaunted. Fifteen minutes before the appointed 2 a.m. tryst, I eased out of my bed as silently as possible and made my way to The Elixir of Life making machine.

Outside dew had fallen and the chairs on the deck were wet. A thick, folded towel took care of that. I lit a softly scented candle for the fragrance. No additional light was needed because the moon was at its radiant best. The stars often clustered around the moon, were timid and gave a wide berth. They seemed to sense that they shouldn't try to compete. With my hands wrapped around a mug of steaming coffee I spied him. Mars, my date, the fourth planet from the sun. His orbit path was swinging near Earth, something it does every 17 years or so. Named for the Roman god of war and sometimes called The Angry Red Planet, my visitor wasn't the least bit menacing. He was a charmer. His larger than stars size and his orange tinge won my heart.

What I had hoped to share with husband and friends turned out perfectly without them. I know I am not the only person in the world and am nothing special, but when Mars caught my gaze and held it, I was. He was there just for me. My date and I vowed to meet again in 2035. He'll be there for sure. I'll try my best.

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower (August 10 - 13, with the best days August 12 and 13) wll benefit from darker-than-usual sky, due to a tiny crescent moon. It should be prime shooting star viewing conditions. I'd love to share my stars with you. Of course it will be early, early morning, but The Big Sleep is coming soon enough.

John, I'll never leave you for a mere mortal (like there's a chance), but watch out for those kids of Zeus and Hera.

Dale

04 April, 2019

Scared Tickless


Way back in 1954 when The Creature from the Black Lagoon was released, my entire family piled into Kelvin, the 1951 Studebaker, our only car, and away we went to the movie theater.

The dripping reptilian-looking being that climbed onto the land to terrorize the countryside put my mother to sleep. Thinking back, the movie house was dark and cool (we had no air conditioning at home), and it was the first time she'd been able to sit for more than 20 minutes all day. My father, just a tall boy that shaved, loved watching the wet peril. My sister ate Raisinettes and planned her wardrobe for the upcoming week - always the princess.

Filmed in black and white, and as fake looking as Tammy Faye's eyelashes, that Lagoon Dude is laughable today. On that evening long ago he traumatized me. Later at home in our twin beds my sister dreamed of spotlessly polished Saddle Oxfords and I waited, wide awake, for that death-is-coming-for-me night to be over.

Fast forward several decades to my having seen and lived to tell about it - movies in which bats were dapper dressers speaking proper grammar in fancy British accents and all sorts of dead things returning with ravenous appetites. I hardly flinched.

The tick, tick, ticking of the clock in a dark and otherwise silent house doesn't bother me at all. Did I just say that ticks don't bother me? What a whopper. With warmer and hotter weather finally due for Spring and Summer, blood-sucking, disease spreading, disgusting arachnid relatives (ticks) will be making their appearances in all the contiguous United States of America and Hawaii. These terrorists are bearers of maladies known, and still being discovered.

I'm not ashamed to say that ticks scare me. Staying inside is not an option (for me). Insect repellents are strongly recommended by the CDC. Head coverings are too.

In trying to keep this from sounding like a sermon, it may seem I'm making light of a serious issue. Not so. People who have contracted Lyme's Disease from tick bites suffer long term - some for a lifetime. Protect yourself, your kids, and your pets.

We'll see you in the mountains.

Dale

11 February, 2019

Appalachian Roots



My maternal grandmother, a bright, beautiful Cherokee/English woman, was born in Dahlonega, Georgia in the mid-eighteen hundreds. In a region isolated by a wild and glorious terrain, natives and tenacious immigrants coaxed sustenance from rock. Deer, wild turkeys, and other critters supplied protein needed in diets necessary for hard work. Streams and rivers provided cold, clean water and additional protein of fish, frogs and turtles.

Hot and cool weather crops were eaten fresh in season and "put away" for tough winters. Initiatives to bring electricity to Southern Appalachia did not begin until the 1930's. Life sustaining meats and produce had to be canned, cured, or dried. No easy tasks. The multi-cultural settlers quickly adapted the beloved recipes from their motherland to their new homeland. Where different flora and fauna flourished and familiar ones did not exist, resourcefulness became an important commodity.

John and I consider our Southern Appalachian Cuisine breakfasts, served the third Wednesday of the month, an honoring of the past and an embracing of the future. Although all or part of the meals will be borrowed from Appalachian recipes, like Frank Sinatra, we'll do it our way.

Dale