Monday, July 29, 2013

Southern Living, Sweetie

My favorite morning happy place
Out to dinner in Wisconsin with about 10 close friends, one of the men in our group chatting with our waitress called her "hon" (as in honey) and let me tell you, the head of every woman in our group did a quick, in-unison turn in his direction as our jaws dropped.

Now this was years before I even considered living in the South. But this friend, Mike, is a salesman and at the time, he traveled extensively in the South and spent the rest of that night defending his "hon" remark to five women who had some seriously ruffled feathers.

Fast forward five years, and now I'm a shopgirl in Chattanooga. In the past four months, I've been called "sugar," "sweetie" and countless times "honey." The first time it was a young woman, bottle-blond with bubble-gum pink toenails, who called me "sugar," and all I could do was squint my eyes, cock my head and recall that night in Wisconsin. 

But now when a customer drops that Southernism on me, I flash a quick smile, slip into a Southern twang and move on with selling them that starter fertilizer or some other upgrade. Now, don't get me wrong: I can't imagine I'd ever use the lingo myself. And I think what works in the South doesn't necessarily work in Wisconsin. And maybe it doesn't "work" in the South, but believe me, it's here to stay.

SO, back at the homestead. ... The endless rain has finally ended and the power of the sun continues to amaze us, now in our third month of relying only on our solar panel for our blender drinks, evening TV and lights. The native black-eyed Susans are in full bloom, as are the coneflowers, and the grass lawns remain fairly lush. I've been well-behaved, saving my money rather than bringing home new plants; we'll see how long that lasts.

And life -- the good life -- goes on.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

9-Plus Inches of No Outside Time

In the past eight days, we've endured more than 9 inches of rain. Our doors are swollen. Our cabinet drawers are swollen. Our skin is sallow. A waft of mold creeps through the cabin. The giant fire pit in the front yard is full of water. We've been stuck inside. Arrgh!!!

I took a photo of the worst part of our road, which in good times is a series of loose, rocky shelves of sandstone, but in rainy times is a small waterfall.  Mason managed to kill the photo off his 1990s-not-so-smart phone in our attempt to download it. Trust me, it was a sight.

OH, and it's supposed to rain tomorrow. And the next day, too. The first day that I see half of a sun in the forecast is Saturday. Sweet Mohammed, help us!

In related news, we've managed to limp along this past week with just our solo solar panel charging the batteries (OK, OK we watched TV in the dark on Friday night, but we made it). We got just enough sunshine the past two days to bring the batteries back up enough that we may just make it to Saturday's half-sun and not have to generate any power for our evening lights and TV. Kinda cool, huh? Free electricity!

In unrelated news, I made homemade ranch salad dressing tonight and my world has been turned upside-down.

In more unrelated news, Nick turned 9 years old last week. I took a photo, but he didn't smile.

In further unrelated news, I'm greatly disturbed by the growing number of car commercials using hit songs from my college years.

And on a final note, I love these red gladiolas:

And in one final unrelated note: Mason says, "Why am I still cutting and splitting firewood for next winter? I'm retired. dammit! These are my Golden Years. (Golden Days?) Whatever.
Oh well. We got solar, a full propane tank and about nine cords of firewood. Bring on the apocalypse!
Cheers, y'all.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Little Miss Apologies Here

My 21-year-old nephews Scott (left) and Justin
Well THAT was a long bout of silence from your favorite mountain dwellers. First, I assure you that all is well on Flat Top: The blackberries are ripening along the roadsides, and my "gardens" are looking fuller by the day. My utmost apologies for no updates. Let me list all of my excuses for our blogging silence:

1. Work. Add in my hour commute each way, and the day is basically shot. But now I'm only working three days a week, so I've got more free time!

2. Visitors: First was a surprise visit from our former newspaper co-worker Ken Chia, who had been in Atlanta watching his beloved Twins playing the Braves when he found himself with a spare three hours and somehow persuaded his fine travelmates that a side trip to Flat Top would show them the real Tennessee. Then came my sister Maggie and her family of men, who took quite well to life in the woods, especially when it came to splitting firewood and military-style (i.e. short) showers. We also dragged a few of my new garden nursery co-workers to come see where we live. And last week, our old boss from the L.A. Times National Desk was vacationing in the area, so we kidnapped her and brought her up to our shack.

3. That pesky septic system: It waited until the first week of 90-degree temps to give us trouble, and we ended up having to dig a trench (60 feet, in hard Tennessee clay) and install a new drain line. At least it was kind enough not to break down while the visitors were here.

4. Solar success: Our solar "system" has been such a success that a neighbor hired Mason to install the same thing at his cabin, keeping him busy while I've been working at the nursery.

Well, that's enough excuses. It won't happen again. And I leave you with some photos of spring's bounty!
My front porch "color"
My only rhododendron, so far.
Caesar's Brother siberian iris. Only three blooms for their first spring, but I'm remaining confident in continued success.