Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Late, Great, Smoky Mountains

SGM Husband and I headed up to the Great Smoky Mountains last weekend for a little getaway.  It had been awhile since we spent a couple of nights away from home, and I thought it would be nice to get some fresh air beneath our wings.  While in the Smokies, we decided to drive around Gatlinburg and check out the local artists.  No big whoop, just knock around some shops and browse through some pottery, wood carvings, paintings...you know, down home mountain art kind of stuff.  We took the winding road from our hotel in Townsend, TN (http://www.dancingbearlodge.com/) through Severville, Pigeon Forge, and then to downtown Gatlinburg.  Okay, first off...Pigeon Forge was just gross.  My eyes almost popped out of my head from all of the roadside attractions - the town should be renamed  "tackyville".  If ever you want to hit waterslides, miniature golf courses, pancake houses, and souvenier shops all within a two mile stretch of concrete and neon signs this is your place.  Uh....no thanks.  Dolly, I'm sorry but from what I saw, your town don't look nuthin' like the travel brochures advertise. 

As disappointing as Pigeon Forge was, Gatlinburg was even worse.  What was once a sweet little mountain town, graced with a lovely creek running through the middle of it, is now the white trash capitol of the Appalachian mountains.  Store after store of glaring commercialism, cram packed with stupid souveniers like resin hillbilly toothpick holders and, "My Grandma went to the Smokies and all I got was this crappy T shirt" t-shirts.  The sidewalks of Gatlinburg were strewn with people who kind of resembled human beings, but just barely.  I saw a man and his woman lighting each other's cigarettes, while pushing two baby carriages.  Nice!  This was NOT what I had in mind for a wholesome afternoon, and I was NOT about to park my car and join in on the madness.  However, a couple of blocks later, we did see a sign in front of a nice looking building occupied by Sugarland Cellars, that advertised, "Free Wine Tasting".  I, a self professed oenophile, thought this might be worth a quick stop.  Sugarland Cellars does not produce "fine wine", but hey, that has never stopped me before.  With the help of the lovely wine wench behind the counter, I threw back a couple of swigs of muscadine wine, cherry wine (smelled terrible but tasted just like cherries with a 13% alcohol content), and lastly a nice little rose called "Martha Jane" (named after one of the first settlers in Gatlinburg).  Obligingly, I bought a bottle of Martha Jane to take home - I"ll save it for when SGM Husband's family comes over.

As we departed Summerland Cellars, an angel from heaven threw us in the path of a local tour guide named Peggy.  We asked Peggy where the local artists could be found, and she explained that they had to move out of downtown Gatlinburg to make room for the kinds of stores that the tourists of today were more interested in.  Peggy whipped out her handy dandy little map, and directed us north of town to an area called the "Artist's Loop".  The loop is an eight mile stretch of road that contains over a hundred little shops featuring real live art.  Imagine!  Exhuberant, we jumped into the white steed and headed north. This being a Sunday during Gatlinburg's "slow season" there were unfortunately only a handful of open stores. In an effort to support the local arts community, we made a couple of stops and a few purchases, and made some new friends along the way.  I am now the proud owner of some pottery bowls, a wooden cheese board, and handmade rosemary soap.  


I went all the way to the Smokies to learn this very valuable lesson:  a person has to leave home every now and again to realize that there truly is no place like home.   I can find prettier views, nicer people, and better local crafts in my own hometown of Blue Ridge, GA.  "So long you late, great Smoky Mountains...we won't be seeing you any time soon."   Martha Jane says, "Amen".

P.S.  For those of you who might be worried about the Southern Baby Protector....while we were gone, he hung out at home with his BABYsitter.  Here they are enjoying the view from the front window!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mama Scout Speaks on Stuckey's

I got an email from my Mama tonight.  Here is the offical account on the history of the name "Pecan Log".  Uncle Bubba gets his 15 minutes of fame!

Mama Scout writes:

Hi, baby. I just read your post about Stuckeys. Grandma Freida (not "ie") - and that's another story - and Aunt Dot did not name the new candy "pecan log"; it was their baby brother, Uncle James (Uncle Bubba) Clark. And the story is true. Mr. Stuckey came up with an idea for a contest among emplyees to find a name for this new candy delight. Uncle Bubba was working there at the time and his submission of "pecan log" was the winner. I forgot what he won, but Mom would have remembered. (I think it was $$$, but probably not a lot.) I went to school with Mr. Stuckey's daughter, Linda. She was a year ahead of me. They lived in the big old house on the corner near the First Baptist church that was previously the hotel that my "Granny Clark" worked in as a maid and later sold produce from her garden that graced the dining room tables. Eastman GA was quite the place before the days of I-75. Just a little more history to pass on. Love you. Mom

Monday, January 30, 2012

Haiku Monday - Rain

This week's haiku topic is Rain!  I thought that I would share a take on the subject from  the Musical My Fair Lady

Rainfall in Seville
A tune makes long a's perfect,
Sing Fair Lady, SING!

The musical takes us through the journey of Eliza Doolittle, a cockney flower girl, as she transforms from rough to refined.  It is through her singing of this little phrase, "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain" that she learns to pronouce her long a's properly.  She can walk and talk like a regular lady!  Here's a link to a clip from the 1964 Oscar award winning film, which starred Audrey Hepburn as Eliza.  The film was an adaptation of the1956 Broadway musical starring Julie Andrews. 

Bonus!  Fair Lady trivia! 

My research for this haiku revealed that Spain's plain is not actually where most of Spain's rain falls.  It is Spain's mountainous northern region that receives the most rain.  Here is what wikipedia (aka artificial intelligence) says on the subject:

"The Rain in Spain" is a song from the musical My Fair Lady, with music by Frederick Loewe and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. The song was published in 1956.
The song is a key turning point in the plotline of the musical. Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering have been drilling Eliza Doolittle incessantly with speech exercises, trying to break her Cockney accent speech pattern. The key lyric in the song is "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain", which contains five words that a Cockney would pronounce with an [aɪ] – more like "eye" than the Received Pronunciation diphthong [eɪ]. With the three of them nearly exhausted, Eliza finally "gets it", and recites the sentence with all long-a's. The trio breaks into song, repeating this key phrase as well as singing other exercises correctly, such as "In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen", and "How kind of you to let me come", in which Eliza had failed before by dropping the leading 'H'. According to The Disciple and His Devil, the biography of Gabriel Pascal by his wife Valerie, it was Gabriel Pascal who introduced the famous phonetic exercises "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain" and "In Hertford, Hereford, and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen" into Pygmalion in 1938, the first of which wound up leading to the song in My Fair Lady.[1]
Spanish rain does not actually stay mainly in the plain. It falls mainly in the northern mountains.[2] In Spanish, the phrase was translated as La lluvia en Sevilla es una maravilla (The rain in Seville is marvelous).

I hope that you have enjoyed my geography lesson, and my contribution to Haiku Monday!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Helloooooo Stuckey's

Stuckey's.  An oasis in any Southern road trip back in the 60’s and 70’s.  Gas, clean bathrooms, and a store full of candy.  My brother Gem and I used to search out the window of our family van for the turquoise roofs and bright yellow signs that called out to Mom and Dad for a family pit stop.  Stuckey’s was a chain of convenience stores that was founded in Eastman, Georgia by the Stuckey brothers back around 1930.  

The absolute best thing that Stuckey’s stores offered was the beloved Pecan Log Roll – a confectionery idea that must have floated down to earth from heaven.  Part divinity candy, part marshmallow fluffy goodness…all covered in cute little brown pecan pieces.  What the name “Pecan Log” lacked in creativity, it offered in honest advertising.  My Grandma Frieda once told me that she and her sister (both from Eastman, GA) came up with the name and entered it into a “name this candy” contest; however, I just don’t think that the tale is true.  Sadly, sweet Frieda isn’t around anymore for me to interrogate her over it, so let’s just say that my Grandma really did come up with the winning name for the treat!  The candy is indeed log shaped, and it serves up the classic tasty Southern pecan nut in sugary sweet goodness. To this day, weary travelers can find a Stuckey’s here and there, especially along Interstate 75 headed down to Florida.  It truly is a slice of nostalgia, and in my most recent trip from Atlanta to Ocala, I simply HAD to pull my car off the highway when I saw an exit sign containing a Stuckey’s logo.  I was somewhere north of Perry, GA.  No gas needed, I just wanted to walk inside and check it out.  I steered the white steed (my 2005 Subaru Outback with 170,000 miles on the engine) onto the Stuckey’s lot, parked the car next to the gas pump, and walked in.  The store was totally void of customers, and one lonely clerk stood nervously behind the counter as if to say, “what in the Taj Mahal are you doing here?"  I said, “Hi!  I’m Scout and I haven’t been into a Stuckey’s for a very long time.  Thought I’d look around if you don’t mind.”  Folks, there was nothing in this store aside from lottery tickets, Coca Cola products, Smokey treats, and racks of Pecan Logs.  Behind the candy racks were stacks upon stacks of empty yellow candy boxes that read:  Stuckey’s…Enjoy a Taste of Our Southern Hospitality.  I guess the proprietor doesn’t like to throw away the boxes.  So I grabbed two Pecan Log Rolls, an empty yellow box, and headed to the counter.  $5.78 later, I asked the clerk this question:  “Hey man, where is Stuckey’s headquartered anyway?”  He says…..”Ummmmm, not sure.  I THINK in Georgia.”  Good man.  Sheesh.  So that made me a little sad because if the store employee doesn’t know where Stuckey’s is from, then I guess most other people might NEVER find out about it.  That’s why I am telling you about Stuckey's.   If you see a Stuckey’s logo on one of those exit amenities signs, please go check it out and grab a tasty treat from my childhood.  I am unwrapping one of the Pecan Logs that I purchased on my trip right now so that we can share the experience. 

 Here goes….Hmmmm.  Mmmmmmm.   Not bad!  Fresh, buttery, tastes like brown sugar and Georgia sunshine.  Here’s to you Grandma Frieda!

P.S.  How do you pronounce Pecan?  Pee-can?  Puh-cahn?  Pee-kin? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Haiku Monday Announcement

It's Wednesday night in Ocala - and I have just had a looooong day driving and thinking about this title that I have to honor one of you with!  Truly, there are so many amazing poems this week, I knew from the start that it was going to be a difficult decision.  Everyone, RIGHT NOW.....take your hand and place it on your back and give yourself a hearty pat pat.  Well done, well done!

Originally I was going to title this post:  Charlie used a Bat to hit the Mouse.  Charlie, Bat, and Mouse.  These are the subjects of the haiku that I have placed in my top three.  I had to narrow the consideration set after all.

Susan, who is a new player, posted a haiku that really got under my skin.  I just kept mulling over it...over and over in my mind.  Here it is:

In-country patrol
Dumbass broke light discipline
Charlie owns the night

I was drawn to this one for a few reasons....it's very dark and scary, and also it conjured up some memories I had of my Dad who served two tours in Vietnam when I was a kid.  I remember him telling a story about one night when he was new in country and had to do a night patrol with one of the local good guys.  The good guy looks over at my Dad, sweeps his arm out in front of him and points into the blackness of the night and says, "Beaucoup V.C."  Beaucoup, or "boo-coo" means MANY in French.   Vietnam was subject to French colonial rule at one point and their language contains some French influence.  V.C. is a shortened reference to the Viet Cong.  To hear Dad tell it gives you beaucoup goosebumps.  Anyway, I had to research Susan's references a little bit to fully get the nuances here, but basically what I think we are to learn is that when you're out at night doing patrol in hostile enemy territory, you don't give yourself away by lighting a ciggy or turning on a flashlight.  Nice job Susan...I hope you play again because you got some talent!

Moving on to the bat.  Moi shows up on Monday with this great one:

Caught out at dusk?  Duck!
Echolocating Pallids
pluck insects to death.

What I really liked about this haiku is that it reveals something that most of us are familiar with or have experienced - kamikaze bats.  Duck!  Moi's poem is one of two (Troll had the first) that contains the juicy word - echolocating.  Moi went visuals up with a phenomenal photo of a bat flying off with a creepy crawler. 

Now we come to the mouse.   Chickory served up this clever haiku:

By moonlight she flies
her silent shadow preys; strike!
frosted field mouse treat

I can see it in my mind.  The word "frosted" makes me think Fall or Winter, and when I read the poem, I literally can see myself standing in the moonlight, I can see my own breath in the cold air, and I am watching this BIG, SCARY, STEALTHY owl flying down in slow motion, grabbing a frightened little field mouse with her talons, snatching it up, and carrying it away with her off into the darkness.  Can't you just see that little mouse trying to wriggle its way free?  WHACK....and then he's gone. 

This week's winner not only wrote us a lovely haiku, but her carefully chosen words gave me, your host and judge, the perfect little movie to watch in my mind.  Chickory wins!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Haiku Monday Recap

Well, well, well.  Thank you ALL for coming out to play Haiku Monday.  I think that Troll was the originator of this competition – if so, thank you!  It appears as though everyone gets a lot out of this and it does provide such a great playing field for us all to escape to each week.  This may explain the early start!  On THIS particular episode of Haiku Monday, Nocturnal, we had 22 players and a total of 39 haiku.  I was personally challenged and inspired by your musings and had to look up a few things!   Google and Wikipedia did not disappoint and provided me with insight into:  Crepuscular, Diurnal, Microchiroptera, Echolocation, Moonflowers, and Pallid.
I have before me haiku touching on the following subjects:  the moon, dark waters, insomnia, demons, graveyard shifts, love, grizzly bears, feral cats, coffee, booze, raccoons, bats, wolves, insects, coyotes, puppies (awwwwww…..), owls, flowers, cicadas, donkeys, nuns, fantasy, mothers, children, teenagers, wet dreams, and vampires.  
Y’all referred to the night as a soft warm shawl, something that keeps secrets and keeps you company, it falls on the horizon, and creates a smaller world.
We had some first timers this round:  Queen B (aka Aunt B from my December 30th post), Roland, Susan, and Dutch Boy.  Welcome friends!
 I am really feeling the pressure now….little Scout has a BIG task ahead.  I am heading out on a business road trip tomorrow and will have some windshield time between Atlanta and Ocala to ponder your efforts.   My hope is to post the winner when I settle into my hotel room tomorrow night.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Haiku Monday

Hello everyone!

I am your host for this week’s Haiku Monday.  Thank you Aunty Belle for crowning me the winner for "New Beginnings".   I feel lucky, happy, and honored all at the same time!!    I am very excited to host this week’s challenge!

The Haiku Monday theme is...


…occurring in or relating to the night.   

Pretty much the standard rules apply!  Three lines, syllables of 5-7-5.  A seasonal reference and a cutting word are always cool, as I think that's how they do it in the big leagues, but not required here - I'm not qualified to judge that way YET!  You've got until midnight Pacific Time on Monday to play!  Everyone is welcome, and I’ll limit the number of entries for judging at two.  Please identify which ones are for judging if you have more than two, and if you wish to include a visual on your site, that’s fabulous!   (Side note:  I have this boss who , when referring to pictures, says “pitchers” – that always bums me out because I’m thinking, "How can YOU expect to lead ME, Scout, when you do not know how to speak properly".  Grrrrrrrrrr.)

Last but not least!  The winner gets a Browning Pro Hunter Escape Headlamp – to help you find your way in the dark!  I AM a Scout after all.

Here’s a Haiku to get us started.

What was that?  Who’s there?
Imaginations run wild
Beware….when night falls

Here’s a photo from the remake of the 1985 film, Fright Night.  The movie is set in Las Vegas and is about a teenager who discovers that his neighbor is  a vampire.  I don’t watch scary movies anymore; however, Colin Farrell is dreamy.