COWS: If you jingle, they will mingle.

Let’s face it. I’m a country girl and quite fascinated by these big old lugsome creatures. (Is lugsome a word? It should be.) Anyway … as a young girl growing up in Hancock County Georgia, I was always amazed by cows and their, well, lack-of-brightness.

Case in point. On our way to my school, we passed this beautiful green field with a gigantic red barn in the center of it. It belonged to Mr. McCroskie, a friend of my fathers.

Now, in this field were these beautiful brown cows. Now I don’t know the different types of cows, but these were big and brown and were always sort of standing around as if they were waiting for something to happen … like a circus, or maybe for one of them to get up and dance on their hind legs or something. I don’t know … they just always seemed as if something were ABOUT to happen and they didn’t want to miss it.

So one morning we drove to school and it was pouring rain. Sure enough, when we got to the pasture with the big red barn with the door flung open wide …. there were those cows, standing around the barn looking at it as if it were something marvelous. I was thinking all the while, “why don’t they just go inside and get out of the rain”? But Dad said that cows are so polite they’re letting the other ones go first.

By the way, when we came BACK by there after school, it was STILL raining and the cows were STILL being polite.

Anyway … when I was about twelve or thirteen, my cousins Ramona, Dennis, Jan and I all decided to walk to the store for Coca Colas in the little bottles and a Go-Go Bar (a shingle of gingerbread with pink icing on top). While at the store, it began thundering and lightening. We decided to cut across Mr. McCroskies pasture since we didn’t see any cows and assumed they were in another part of the field.

It was close to Christmas, and my cousin, Jan, had tied these little jingle bell things to her tennis shoes. Whenever she walked, they made this jingling sound that we all thought sounded pretty cool. We wanted jingle-bells on our shoes too. ANYWAY, so we were about half way across this field when we heard the thundering rumblings of many MANY large hooves. We turned around, and running straight towards us over the top of a little hill to our right was Mr. McCroskies cows .. all two hundred of them. It was like a galloping bovine rapture.

We took off running … leaving our GoGo bars and Coca Colas flying all over the place. And the harder we ran, the louder Jan’s shoes jingled and the faster those cows came at us. Finally, Dennis, realizing that it was Jan’s shoes they were after, screamed over his shoulder for her to “kick them jingles off”!!! She ran right out of those shoes and we safely managed to make it through the fence on the other side.

Now here is the interesting thing …. when we turned around to see how far back we’d left the cows, we were surprised to see all two hundred heads or so, surrounding Jan’s white tennis shoes with the little jingle bells on them. We surmised, since cows ALWAYS appear to be waiting for something to take place, that they were waiting for those shoes to get up and do something again.

I know for a fact that occasionally when we’d drive by the pasture, you could look across and see a cow or two still studying those shoes (which were never retrieved, by the way). I also know for a fact that later on we learned that Mr. McCroskie called his cows by using a big wooden stick with Jingle-bells nailed to it … that’s why they ran after us.

So anyway … that’s why I’m fascinated by cows. But only from a distance.

And no bells.

New Life in Great Smoky Mountains …

The view at the top of Half Acre Ridge, looking across the valley.

I have awakened many a morning completely amazed that I can now call this place home. The dream I had for ages has now been realized. I live in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Instead of write a long diatribe about how it feels, I’m just going to post a couple of photos of the places I enjoy most.

Soco Falls ….

Soco Falls was one of the most surprising hikes since I’ve been there. Hearing people talk about the rough path and the difficulty of the hike, naturally excited me and sounded right up my alley. So, I packed a day pack with water, an apple for a snack and laced up my hiking boots for the “long rugged” trek to the falls.

I drove about twenty minutes from my house to the pull off to Soco Falls. I was so excited and ready to hike. It was drizzling rain and I’d been told the trail would be slick and rocky. Didn’t care. I was ready to hike, so I scooted around the rail and onto the rocky path. Then I froze in my boots. Approximately one-third of a mile downhill from where I stood were the falls. It took me all of five minutes to descend the steep trail, stand in front of the falls and laugh my head off. I’d unpacked my gear, packed water and an apple for what took about five minutes to get to from the parking lot!

Still, it was beautiful. Double water falls tumble over an incredible rocky foundation. Ice was still clinging to the plants and roots around it and the forest around me was beautiful. Down the creek I could see tents along the banks of the river and wished I had packed a tent as well. After a while of taking it all in the rain began to really fall, but I enjoyed this venture very much.


The Cataloochee Valley ….

I believe my favorite place, next to my property on Plott Creek, is the Cataloochee Valley where one of the oldest settlements in the area used to be. The drive to the Valley is one thing, but getting out and really exploring the area is another! Cataloochee Creek is one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been.

Surrounded by Sterling Mountain, Nolan and Cataloochee which rises close to 6000 ft! Cataloochee fits its name perfectly. The Cherokee called this mountain Gadalutsi, which means “fringe standing erect”… and it truly does! The Cherokee gave up this incredible land in the Treaty of Holston in 1791, but continued hunting and trapping this rich farmland.

This place is one of the most serene places in the Great Smoky Mountains. Green meadows, sharp trails that climb upwards, 1 1/2 lane wide gravel roads, historic homes to explore that show their age through not only structure, but in the newspapers and wallpaper glued to the walls and ceilings. I could have stayed on the bright yellow back porch for hours just listening to the branch flowing and enjoying daffodils that have grown in the valley since the Palmers arrived there in 1854 to set up a farm that included cattle, sheep and various gardens that grew heartily in the dark rich soil.

Game was plentiful and they traded turkey along with an abundance of fur they trapped for luxury items such as indigo, salt, powder, lead, etc. The trading post used to be where the Ranger Station is now.

They were friendly with their Cherokee neighbors, who they protected and hid during the Trail of Tears around 1836. Because the area was heavy with wildlife such as panthers, bear, the Cherokee people taught them how to stalk and trap them for the skins. In turn, the settles traded tobacco, cotton, and vegetable crops with the Cherokee.

As for Me …

Me on the front porch of the cabin …

As for me, I’m quickly finding me feet and enjoying my new life here in Maggie Valley and the Cataloochee Valley … amazingly where my Davis ancestors first settled when they left Europe. It feels as though I’m living “in the family” circle in a way … retracing their steps and realizing my dream is not much different from theirs.

All About Ingles …

Each day I drive over to Ingles and buy a small plate of freshly created Sushi from Richard … “Rich” … who was a fisherman before he settled here. His stories fascinate me and his sushi is the best I’ve EVER had! He and his sidekick Freddy keep me up to date on local news and make me feel as if I’m a native here.

A card from my Dear friend Nessa who is a barista at Starbucks on Barber Blvd … just two miles from the cabin.

Nessa reads my blog but has become a dear dear friend. She remembered how the very first time I saw Waynesville, it was covered in snow. I fell in love with the town at first site and described it here on my blog. Sweet Nessa remembered that and tracked down a painting a friend of hers did of Waynesville in the Snow and picked it up.

Yesterday, she gave it to me and it was as if I was looking back at that moment when I fell in love with this beautiful place!

This Starbucks is located right inside Ingles … lucky for me! These people have become like a family to me. I started off with coffee, and then one day I was asked to try a Strawberry Acai. That simple suggestion changed the essence of my day! This one drink filled me not only with bounds of energy, but gave me a reason to revisit Starbucks day after day.

Even in the dead of winter when the snow was so piled up I’d have to crawl over it to get in the car, I’d be heading to Starbucks for this amazing iced drink! Then one day, I was offered something that one of the girls there actually crafted. It was a Peach infused Lemonaid/White Tea with just a bit of sweetener but loaded with ice! This is THE drink! I have one every day and it’s absolutely the BEST cold drink I’ve ever had in my life!

Me and Nessa ….

Now Nessa is one of the most precious souls I’ve ever met! I’m so blessed to have met her and know that I am blessed just to know her! It was just a lucky happening when we just struck up a conversation and realized how alike we are. She is a HUGE fan of the baby Hippo, Fiona at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio … and I’m an April the Giraffe fan. We both watched for hours during labor … I’m trying to get her interested in Ben Folds … and we have so much else in common!

So … here’s a peek into Nessa’s World:

The Fiona Show … and Fiona Videos

Thanks everyone for stopping in! I’m be posting very regularly now that I’m settled in!

Hugs-n-Junk!

Lynn

The Christmas Santa Came Early … sort of

I guess I was five or six. Mona, a distant cousin was living with us for a while, and being a bit older than me (8 or 9 I think), she was who I depended on when life tossed an unexpected conundrum. A week before Christmas was no exception.

In the hallway next to our bedroom that we shared, was the pull down stairway to the attic. A couple of times, Mona and I came home from school and discovered the attic stairs down, Mom standing at the foot of them and Daddy at the top saying, “Is that it? I think I heard the bus.” Then Daddy would hop quickly down, and together they would snap the attic stair up closed then turn to innocently face us.

Mona was the one to always ask, “Whatcha’ doing up there?”

I figured we must have had more mice in that attic than the Pied Piper of Hameln, because Daddy would always reply, “Just checking to see that we don’t have mice,” and Mom would half-hardheartedly nod her head in agreement.

It was a week before Christmas.

What happened that night was either a Christmas miracle or a Christmas disaster depending on which room you were sleeping in. Mona and I suddenly awoke to a crash and a virtual downpour of Barbies and accessories, skates, puzzles, suitcases, t-sets, clothes, shoes, and dozens and dozens of other things like candy and yo-yo’s, falling through the ceiling. We sat there blinking like two hungry lions.

“What do you think it is?” I whispered to Mona.

“I think Santa Clause just came,” Mona said not taking her eyes of the skates, “And the skates are mine.”

“But Christmas isn’t till a week,” I added, “Will he come again?”

Mona gave me a look as she began hatching the scheme right then and there. “Go down the hall and tell Mom and Dad that you fell out of the bed in case they heard any thing.”

I walked in their room and found them both in a dead sleep, so I went back to our room and Mona quietly closed the door behind me. “They down?” she asked, as if I’d gone in and shot them both with a dart gun.

I nodded while I watched Mona shove “her stuff” under her bed and slide my stuff over to mine. “Stick this under your bed. We’ll put the bigger stuff in the back of the closet.” So in the middle of the night that’s what we did, and between moments of hiding the haul that, moments ago, was somehow sitting in the attic, we took a moment to play with the loot.

Once we were finished, we crawled back in bed and for the first time that night we realized we had a bigger problem we hadn’t thought about. A gigantic hole in the ceiling was right above the foot of our beds. Sheetrock hung from the ceiling in jagged pieces and upon closer investigation, Mona reported she could see a blue bicycle! Now how were we going to hid that hole?

It was Mona who came to their senses first. “I think we made a mistake. We need to put everything back in the pile and pretend we didn’t see it.” I asked if maybe we could just keep one thing, but Mona refused.

So, we pulled everything out from under the bed and closet, piled it in a pile and took the trashcan filled with little pieces of Sheetrock and insulation and dumped it on the pile. I may not remember a lot about Mona, but I do remember how she kept her cool that night through it all.

As I lay there in bed after, what she and I referred to as “The Big Christmas Crash”, I couldn’t believe that the wisest, craftiest person in the world was sleeping next to me. And while she wouldn’t let me play with even ONE toy that night, I found a new respect for her.

Front Row: Me and Mona – the smartest kid I ever knew.
Back Row: – my cousin Brenda ❤

The next day we “let” my Dad discover what happened in our room while we were at school. All the stuff went back up in the attic and he and Mr. Marlow were repairing the ceiling when we got home from school that day. And yes, we put on our game faces and asked what on earth had happened.

Daddy blamed it on the mice.

I don’t suppose I ever told my parents about the fiasco that took place that night … about how Mona took charge of the situation like a boss and how our feigned surprise Christmas morning was a result of many hours of Mona and I rehearsing our reaction in the basement.

Or … how it all somehow led to my deep fear of mice. Wonder how Mona’s doing?

FINALLY HERE!

Jack Kerouac is the first thing I see when I walk in the door.

So here I am.  Surrounded by her books, things that were special to us, photos of us, but mostly with the inspiration she bestowed upon me.  At times it’s hard to believe she has been gone almost a year, I’m still crumbling daily … missing our talks, her gentle way of phrasing things so that I could see her thoughts.  I miss the way I’d use a bland word when describing something and she’s say, “Oh certainly you can do better than that.”  She taught me to think in metaphors and in colors of a box of crayons.  Now that I’m here, it’s as if I’m seeing the world through her eyes and I’m so thankful.

My little log cabin on the hill …

You’ll all have to excuse me, because every sentence is more than likely to end in an exclamation point … probably multiple ones … in bold … possibly italics … in orange or red!  This is a dream I’ve been inching towards for quite a while, three years I think.  I was bolstered forward like a catapult had smacked me in the rear end shortly after my Mountain Mother, Nancy Simpson, passed away after a long illness.  Even though it broke me in half, she had made me promise her during her last week that I would see that dream true.  I answered all to quickly that I would.  Not good enough for the woman who knew me best.  She let out an exasperated breath and grabbed my hand after a minute and made me look directly at her.  “No,” she said. “Promise me. Stop talking about it and go live your dream. Be an old woman on a mountain and write.  It’s the best advice I can give you.”  Tears were rolling down my cheeks and she told me she’d have none of that … “Emotion is meant to be remembered and written down.”

I am surrounded by my Mountain Mother … her books and things that were special to us! I want to be just like her. 
These were in her window … now they sit in mine! ❤ 

My little log cabin is adorable and is halfway between Waynesville and Maggie Valley.  It’s so quiet here you can hear your long forgotten thoughts and silences.  Sleep here is like a coma … you close your eyes and the curtain of the day drops.  When it’s raised the next morning, you can hardly believe your eyes. It wasn’t a dream.  I’m really here!

LOG CABIN CHRISTMAS

It’s been a dream for a long time, to live in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a log cabin … and after 58 years, it finally came true! This morning I sat in the living room and drank coffee while I watched the birds warming themselves in the bright sunshine on my porch railing.

  

The Chrstmas Tree is up …

The tree looks so jolly and happy in the living room!  The birds on the tree look as if they just flew through the front door to warm themselves! Once again, I have added the vintage ornaments inherited from family members! 

 

Table and stockings up the stairs …

The table has never looked more inviting with the stockings behind it going up the stairs.  I’ll have eight people here Christmas and wanting a stocking for each person, the mantle seemed crowded no matter how I arranged them.  It was Eric’s idea to run them up the stairs. 

Yesterday, I made a quick drive up to Serenity Mountain to see the property in Plott Creek where the permanent house will be built.  It was so peaceful and quiet that I didn’t exactly want to leave.  I walked down by the creek and looked up to where the house will be and couldn’t believe it all was coming into fruition. In my imagination, I could almost see the house sitting there in the trees … the noisy creek babbling at my feet.

After I got back home, I had some homemade rustic soup and called it a day.  ❤ 

Nite Nite!

House was rented from Select Homes in Waynesville, NC

Finally Packing to Move …

It’s started.  The first phase of moving to Waynesville has started … packing up the stuff that will go into the storage building at the rental place in Hazelwood (what they call Old Town, Waynesville).

Hazelwood houses some of the most charming shops in the two square blocks the “downtown” Hazelwood area comprises … and I’m lucky enough to have bought property just up the road from it.  Yep … I’ll be the one in my hiking boots tromping into Hazelwood on a snowy day just to buy French Onion Soup and a bar of soap.

Hazelwood will be sort of the home base once in the house.  There’s an old fashioned pharmacy, my favorite place for soup and ice tea … The Bourbon Barrel Beef and Ale, and across the street is the Hazelwood Soap Company   The soap company is my favorite scent shop EVER … the entire house will smell like HSC’s version of Vetiyver … the scent of Sandalwood and Patchouli, musk and vetyver.  So basically the house will smell like a fresh clean hippy!  If Waynesville wasn’t enough to get excited about alone, I get to live a short hike to Hazelwood!

Now about the packing …

I’ve never packed for a storage building before, so all this is new to me.  Taping my precious books up in a sealed box was the most heart wrenching part of the ordeal.  Books, as most of you already know, are my friends, and knowing that I can’t reach over and grab a Ray Bradbury, Bill Bryson, or Flannery O’Connor off the bookshelf until I restock the new bookshelves in Waynesville in approximately four months, is a heart stopper.  I did keep out a few “EMERGENCY” reads in case I need a quick fix and all of them are by my three favorite writers … my Mountain Moms (Nancy Simpson) Poetry Books, “Farewell Summer” and “Dandelion Wine” by Bradbury, and Bill Brysons “A Walk in the Woods”.  I admit, I’ve read all of these at least ten or twelve times each, but these are the kind of books I never get tired of.

I also packed up all my rocks, that friends (and a few strangers) have given me … stuff from the kids … boxes of photographs … art supplies, and a world of other stuff that when I finally unpack it, I will probably hear the theme song from “Chariots of Fire” as I behold my lovely lovely things again!

So, the first batch is loaded and ready for transport during the next trip up to Waynesville,  With that trip is a search for a rental house or condo … and my second trip in to see my new boss at The Mountaineer , ‎Vicki Hyatt.

Oh, did I not mention THAT yet?

Well, it’s happened.  The thing I set out to do from Blog Day 1 has happened … and I can’t be more excited! Once relocating is completed, I’ll start my first assignment … outdoors and “Through the Lens with Lynn” … a challenge to all our readers to find and recreate the photo I post.  The idea is to get people out of the house and looking at Waynesville from a new point of view!  I can hardly wait!!!

So … Waynesville …  here I come. Ready or not!

 

 WALKING IN HEELS IN JANUARY

I hated to admit it, but for once my husband (to my everlasting annoyance) had been right.

“Those shoes look absolutely ridiculous with that pair of jeans,” he had told me while brushing his teeth. I looked at him with horror as the foamy tooth-paste spit rolled down his awkwardly extended little finger and dripped on my carpet. “You should wear boots or something … maybe your loafers!”

I rolled my eyes. Men knew nothing about fashion or how to stand over a bathroom sink and brush. Mine chose to walk around the house doing menial tasks while he brushed his, like flipping channels on the TV, finding a pair of socks, or telling me what I should-or-should-not-do.

“How about you just keep your spit in the sink and keep your fashion advice to yourself,” I’d said with a stomp. Besides, these were an absolutely fabulous pair of high heels that I’d purchased on QVC for only twenty-nine dollars! Supposedly all the movie stars back home were wearing them, and since my know-it-all-husband had moved me from California out here to “Hooterville” North Carolina, I knew I’d never find anything like this in Helen’s Bait Shop & Clothing on Old Riddle Mountain Road.

I looked down to admire my shoes. These were beautiful … black suede, peep-toe wedges with a very narrow 6″ heel, and tiny golden rivets sprinkled down the back heel of the shoe like shooting stars on a deep dark sky. How could anyone not look at these and be impressed?

My husband could, that’s who.

“Bye,” I called as I pulled on my heavy winter coat, grabbed my purse and the leash of our Basset Hound, Bert.

Bert was given to me as an anniversary present from my husband. Actually, Bert was more my husbands dog, but he’d played me like a fiddle that day and tied a little red bow around his neck and placed the incredibly cute five pound Basset Hound puppy in a picnic basket four years ago. I admit, Bert was an adorable puppy … big sleepy eyes, long droopy ears … he was the perfect example of a postcard puppy.

As he grew, however, he’d become a chewing machine and when left alone, he was absolutely determined to destroy anything he could. Our two year old sofa looked like a Salvation Army reject, and my husbands recliner hung in shreds from about a foot down.

Now at a whopping 69 pounds and with a broken leg, unable to walk, he was a little less than “adorable”. I wrapped the leash around my hand and lugged the big gravity-sucking creature up into my arms and carried him out to our garaged car for our trip to the vet. “And thanks for the help,” I called sarcastically over my shoulder as I let the back door slam shut.

It was a one mile drive down the mountain to Dr. Willards Animal Hospital and the part dirt, part gravel road was practically frozen solid all the way down. Luckily our car was equipped for weather like this, and it did a fine job gripping the icy road. Bert lay quietly in the seat next to me, occasionally stretching his neck to peer out. It broke my heart that he couldn’t hop up on the window sill to see the icy woods he loved romping in so much. I patted his head, “Don’t worry buddy, Dr. Willard will fix you up and we’ll go for a walk in a week or two, alright?” Bert looked at me with trusting eyes and then lay his chin on the seat as if he’d understood perfectly what I’d said.

Right then, I heard an unfamiliar thumping beneath my car. Bert raised his head and began to softly growl. What on earth? Since the drive was only a one-lane road, I simply stopped the car and climbed out to see what I’d hit.

Nothing. Instead, I realized that my front tire was completely flat. Great.

The one thing my father had never taught me to do, was change a tire. I could build a potting shed, fix the refrigerator, change the oil, but I had no idea how to change a flat. Climbing back in the car I reached for my cell phone in my purse and then remembered I’d left it charging on the table by the back door.

I knew my husband wouldn’t be coming down the road a while, and honking would do no good. It was over a half mile back to the house. He’d never hear it, and if he did, he would probably never put two and two together. Besides, today his college football team was playing in the playoffs and it could be DAYS before he missed us. I imagined him, eating leftovers for the second day in a row and saying, “Hey honey, when are you going to cook and do some dishes again. Honey? HONEY? Now where the devil did she go?” then looking around puzzlingly at the unfolding mystery of my sudden disappearance.

“Darn it!” I yelled as I slammed my fists on the steering wheel. Bert jumped a bit and dipped his head as if he thought I were about to smack him for some unknown reason. “Bert … we’re stuck old boy and it’s either up or down.”

I crawled out of our warm car and went around to his side to lug him out. It was 21 degrees and if I left him in the car, I was afraid he’d either freeze to death or rip the entire interior of the car to shreds. “Come on you big galoot … let’s get you back to the house,” I grumbled while trying to balance on tiny heels and carry Bert at the same time.

Little by little, Bert and I made our way up the drive, my ankles twitching and wobbling under the weight of each step. Several times my foot would roll completely over and Bert and I would tumble down, both of us wide eyed and panicking. Thankfully, my heavy coat absorbed most of the impact and we’d get up and start all over again … me standing in my fabulous heels, bending over, lifting sixty-nine pounds of dead weight and taking that first precarious step, then another, and another.

Bert seemed to love the whole idea of me getting all dressed up, driving half way down the mountain, and then carrying him back up! His eyes sparkled as he looked around as if he’d never seen our mountain from this angle before, and occasionally he’d give me a little lick on the cheek as if to say, “Wow, thanks Mom … this is wonderful!” … all the while I’m on the verge of double ankle failure as I wobble, stumble and cuss my way steeply towards home.

Finally we made it to the base of our yard, where road turned to concrete. I was certain I was within ear shot of my husband who was undoubtedly engrossed in his game by now, so I yelled, “HELP,” at the top of my lungs.

I paused a moment waiting for the front door to open, but after a moment when nothing had happened, I yelled again a bit louder. Still nothing. So we continued while I shouted the most profane slurs I dared at my husband, happy now that he couldn’t hear me!

Finally we arrived at the foot of the porch steps and had only nine precarious steps to climb. Home at last!

I angrily turned the door knob and kicked open the door. It sprang open like a trap and banged into the wall behind it, causing my husband to practically jump out of his skin and spill his tea all over our shredded sofa. There I stood before him breathing heavily, my light beige coat torn and dirty, globs of mud on my face and arms, my hair hanging in stringy strands all over my head, and my beautiful QVC heels scratched and muddy. “What the devil have YOU been doing,” he shot at me as I stood there looking as if I’d spent the night in the city dump, “I thought you were taking Bert to the vet?”

I lay Bert in his recliner and kicked off my once-beautiful shoes … my feet throbbing from the walk and my toes nearly frozen from the cold. Breathlessly I managed, “We had a flat. At the bottom of the hill. I had to carry Bert. All the way back.”

My husband stood up and jumped into action. If there’s one thing he loved more than football, it was playing the part of the hero. “Leave Bert here,” he said as if he actually thought I were stupid enough to carry him back down the mountain,”We’ll go down in my truck, change your tire and then drive back up for Bert.” I nodded, still out of breath and still somewhat annoyed at my husband for whatever reason.

I was just about to go in the bedroom for warm socks and boots when my husband turned and all-knowingly said, “I told you not to wear those stupid shoes. You should have worn your boots like I told you!”

The January ice entered my very soul as my stubborn I-will-not-be-wrong attitude gave birth to misery right there in my living room. I walked over to my QVC heels, smugly slipped them back onto my sore, cold, aching feet, and on now quaking ankles, precariously followed my husband out into the garage.

-Lynn Hamilton Rutherford c2017

Laughter