Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Meeting the Folks

(I just got dsl installed and saved up some episodes for the blog.)

Saturday August 4, 2007

The riding mower’s solenoid that we bought at Lowe’s got exchanged for another at Ace and neither of those did the trick. Dave was getting frustrated and the grass was growing at an alarming rate. We looked in the funny phone book to find a repair place, but most are far away in another county. We are getting to understand the distances, and to be more self-sufficient if possible. At the same time as we searched the yellow pages for repairs we also sought out garbage removal companies. Hmmm. None were listed in the area, so what do we do with the trash?
Now that we have our phones Dave called Eugene, the fellow that originally built our retaining wall (the part that stayed up!) and had an interesting conversation with him. Dave called early Friday evening and Eugene listened intently to our wall collapse problem and said that he couldn’t come over that night (we never expected him to run right over) but would early Saturday morning be soon enough? Well, yeah. Eugene is a nice looking country boy in his mid 30’s and father to two teenagers. He is currently building his own house, as well as doing his regular job and picking up odd jobs from folks like us. Ah to have that kind of energy again.

The two men looked at the wall and Eugene offered a prying bar for Dave to use to get these timbers apart so they can be moved and reassembled. Since we have an escrow account from the previous owner to fix this wall, Dave put both Eugene and himself on the payroll. O boy…


After Eugene left for his homebuilding tasks Dave decided to call the recycling place we saw in Palmer and see what the deal is there. They are open all day on Saturday, so we gathered up the recyclables, and trash and cardboard into the truck and headed down the road. We expected to be asked to prove our citizenship of Palmer but the two old guys there were not the least bit interested in asking for it. They were straight out of central casting as Good Old Boys.

As I stepped out of the truck to introduce myself I found my mouth uttering “Howdy!”
Howdy? What is that? I have never said howdy to anyone before. I mentioned that we had bought the place on 399 and they mentioned the other neighbors who they knew around us. I caught one name, only because I had read the mailbox previously. Everything else they had to say was lost in translation. O, but I did get their proud declaration, “We’re whacha call hillbillies”.
O.K.
Between chaws they helped us unload our trash and tossed it into the awaiting dumpsters. My careful separation of recyclables was wasted effort. It all went to be compacted. The charge for this service? Free.
Quick thinking Dave asked them if they knew anyone who could repair the rider and immediately they offered up Ernie. He lives around the next corner and down to the dead end. We followed the directions and found an open carport loaded with defunct mowers and three guys sitting in the shade tinkering and chawin’. I stayed in the air conditioned truck while Dave asked for assistance. They thought they could come and pick up the mower in about an hour. On a Saturday! Wow.
So we returned home and had some iced tea on the porch. Sure enough the guys arrived in a more hopeful than sturdy pick-up with the trailer attached for the mower.

With that problem under advisement we decided to take a ride to see what was down Stagecoach Road, our next nearest side street. I am not making up this title. The alternate title of our road is Artillery or Cavalry or something similar. No signs to prove it, but we know this only from Googling our address. Nothing of note was found down Stagecoach with the exception of Bill’s house. Bill is a real old mountain man who had stopped by earlier to announce he had Silver Queen sweet corn for sale in his yard. Judging by his dental condition, he won’t be eating any of it soon. “Only house on the left”, he said, “down Stagecoach road”. I had to see for myself, but when we drove by, I demurred from following through. Something about the dark house alone in the dark forest and the sad looking corn crop dampened my enthusiasm.



Our afternoon ride took us away from town down unfamiliar roads that appear and disappear on our map. Eventually we ended up in a big town, Manchester which happened to boast a liquor store (keeping that in mind for when I run out) and several Mexican restaurants. One, El Molcajete was packed with cars so we decided to try it for a bite to eat. The waitress, a chica with very tight jeans had a great smile. We ordered Dos Equis and she asked if we wanted a regular or a tall mug? Feeling parched (really) we ordered the large. O my! They were at least 32 oz. mugs and took both hands to lift to our lips. We didn’t finish even half of the brew, as we ate our delicious dinner.

The ride home was faster than the wandering ride to get to Manchester ( full bladder) and I discovered a Piggly Wiggly store only 10 minutes from our house. Now that made the trip really worthwhile.
As we drove up our driveway, the lawn mower was sitting in front of our garage, fixed and awaiting its use. Dave hopped on and soon was clipping the western lawn. I sat on the porch to watch and heard our phone ring. It was Ernie, saying he would be over to collect payment for the repaired mower. Only $60. That included pick up and delivery on a Saturday. Try that at home in Cary. Ha! It was the starter that was the problem, and Ernie sharpened the blades as a bonus. We are very pleased to have done business with him and hope he uses the money to buy himself a new shirt with more than one button.

I tried to find out what time the service starts at the church I ‘chose to attend’, but there is no sign at the church and no phone number in our funny phone book. The reason I call it funny is that just some of the numbers have an area code, some list the town the phone number is in and some don’t. Finding any listing for Palmer is practically futile. It’s as though if you were from here, you would already know and if you aren’t from here, why would you care? I am hoping to be visited by any of the thirty neighboring church pastors within the next few weeks. I’ll find out from them when to show up.

Just Campin’



Sunday August 5

For part one of our move we just brought necessary items, a small dining table and four folding chairs, two patio chairs, our beds, the two Poang chairs and some end tables. Tools were a top priority but the garden tools didn’t make the cut. Since we knew we needed to set up the kitchen we did bring all the pots and pans, pantry items and some dishes, a service for four. The knives and flatware are included as well as all the drinking glasses, minus the stemware and crystal. One TV and one laptop and the all important stereo and mp3 player are also here. We have been listening to radio as our only source of entertainment, not counting listening to the roosters of course.
It is amazing to me how well we are doing with so little. We are a little media deprived with no internet connection for the first week, and not having Law and Order for several hours of every day has been quite an adjustment.



To fill the gaps we have been shopping practically every day. That doesn’t mean we buy anything. We just go to the store and walk around and discuss the fact that we already have this stuff in our Cary house and will be getting it here by the middle of September.
One newly purchased item was leather palmed garden gloves to help me pull out the many gigantic weeds in the orchard. I unearthed 24 blueberry bushes from the weed jungle obscuring them. Then I discovered we have more than those two dozen bushes, also covered with morning glories the size of hibiscus blooms. O I mean Tennessee hibiscus. Wow. Are those some giant hibiscus! Imagine that this bloom is 12" across. Honest. Not in our garden, yet.
And we did get a garden wagon that has a dumping feature. It can be attached to the rider to carry up to 600 pounds. Of what? Rock, stones and logs. Small logs. I am thinking that as adorable as this wagon is, I still need a wheel barrow and may have to get one on my own, as soon as the opportunity to shop alone arises.

We are doing EVERYTHING together. I have lost the ability to make a single unilateral decision, even down to what flavor ice cream I should get. But this will be offset when I am back alone in Illinois, New Hampshire and Switzerland the rest of this month.
I have very mixed emotions about returning to our Cary house. I’ll see my friends again, get a decent haircut, and get back to work. But I will be missing Dave, the chickens and my new home. The extra two hours of morning sleep will be appreciated, but the focus will be so drastically different. And I will not have a car. Or bike, just my roller blades, which I will not be using to get to the airport twice. It will be limos for this gal.

Dave will stay here and possibly have a guest while I am back at work. I will have to change my pink bedsheets to white to accommodate the manly Dan who will visit from Virginia. I am hoping Dave can pull a Tom Sawyer and get Dan to show him how to uproot the weeds around the pond. This will be good.

The weather here has been hot, but not so bad at our elevation. Upper 90’s in Chattanooga, a town which Eugene says was built atop Hell. (pronounced: Hay-ell) Our house stays cool from the shade of the trees and our porch, but the ceiling fans are always going full blast too. Yesterday it got really hot inside, 87 degrees, so we turned on the air conditioning for the first time and vrooomm instant coolth. We were warned that the summers here would be hot. Like they aren’t in Illinois? At least here no one expects to do anything but sit on the porch with an iced tea and watch the chickens scratch.




Popeye is finally feeling at home and came out on the porch to visit with us. The chickens were in the yard in full view of the lazy old cat. This was the first time he has seen them and they him. The fowl reacted as they should, voicing a loud warning crow. Luckily Popeye is deaf as a stone and wasn’t perturbed. However he was simultaneously interested and cowardly. He stuck his head under the porch fence to get a better look and walked down the steps towards the birds to test their veracity. He may have thought this was merely Animal Planet and not the real thing. We were amazed at his calm demeanor. It is not like our scaredy cat to behave like this. He slowly approached the big rooster and we held our breath. The rooster felt discretion was the better part of valor and scooted off into the driveway, followed by the hens and junior cocks. Popeye took this move as proof of his dominance and returned to the porch steps like the conquering hero. We let out our communal breath and then gave the Pops many congratulatory pets.
Life here on the farm doesn’t get much more exciting than that.

HURRAY!!!We now have dsl and cable tv and are back to normal. I will again be posting daily.

18 comments:

  1. Sounds like you are experiencing a little culture shock in Hay-ell. Your descriptions of the good ol boys is hilarious.

    Great adventure! And fun blogging!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Silver Queen corn really is the best - you should try it!! Wish I could get my hands on some! Hey - if you don't like it I bet the Ducks would!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mel,

    Just a word of caution about your kitty... raccoons run rampant "in these here parts," so please don't leave him out at night! Sounds like you're getting into the swing of country life!

    Peggy

    ReplyDelete
  4. Rhonda12:51 PM

    Mel, I sooo look forward to your blogs in your new location. Sometimes I would like to move away with a minimal amount of "stuff". It seems like it would be very freeing. Love the diary of your days, and I echo Peggy's comments about your kitty. Popeye will be a bisquit for a lot of things wild -- so please watch this old friend.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love these posts, it's like communication from another planet (grin).
    What's a Piggly Wiggly shop?
    When I moved to the country from London (England)our cats used to try and sleep in the hen's nesting boxes. The hens just shoved the cats out of the way when they 'needed' it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hahahah...Mel. When I read your "shirt with more than one button" comment I thought Oh man...that was a low blow, but then I started thinking about something that happened when we first moved to the country. I took my then young teenage daughters and one of their friends into Houston (40 miles away) for a Goo Goo Dolls concert. We picked this little girl up at her house and as soon as we hit interstate 45 to head south into Houston she said "Oh my GOD...we're gettin' on the BIG highway!!!" (pronounced ha-waay). I remember looking at her in the rear view mirrow with total disbelief. Now..after 15 years out here, I avoid the "big highway" like the plague and find most of what I need out here in the country...venturing into Houston mostly for the quilt shops and the Quilt Festival. You'll be amazed at the friendship you'll develop with the local good-ol-boys. We had a tornado go through here once...not long after we moved in, and it took down 27 huge old trees...some of them blocking our work trucks. Before a half-hour had passed, at least 15 men showed up with chainsaws and began cutting them up for us. It was just incredible. They have all become friends now, but at the time....we didn't know anyone! Oh...and you've already learned this, but FORGET the phonebook!! Just ask...they can tell you where to get anything...or get anything done that you need.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh Mel, you are killing me with the tales of your adventures! I am so glad you found a close grocery. Just yell (holler?) when you need something (curry? cilantro?) that they don't carry in Tennessee. I mail order! xoxoEm

    ReplyDelete
  8. It sure is fun to read about your adventures and see pictures of your new location. Wishing you the best in your new home.....

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous4:53 PM

    Ms Mel, sounds like you are somewhere in a time warp....backwards! Or is it another planet?

    Where are the pictures of these 'strangers'? I'd love to see the type of person who walks around with 1 button on a shirt.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think you are going to have to post twice a day. Your stories are too entertaining.
    Sounds like Popeye is going to enjoy country life, too.
    I would love to see more photos of the garden...hint, hint.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Mrs Mel, this is hysterical. I am dying over here hahahhahaha...this is better that a novel.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wait a minute...we have cilantro in Tennessee!!! (And curry!) We're actually joining the 21st century down here!

    but it IS a culture shock--just for a while--for northerners. Then you get so accustomed to life in the slow lane, you wonder how you ever survived "up north!"

    All in good fun,
    Peggy in Chattanooga (formerly from the big city of Washington, DC AND Iowa)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your reports from your new home are are a hoot! And I'm glad to see you and Dave are savouring these moments.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous7:54 PM

    Speak kindly of those who manage to own only a one button shirt. Golden rule...

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous7:57 PM

    Mel...love your stories and can't wait to read your lastest adventure every day. I think you should write about this experience...you're a great writer, besides a great quilter and painter! I think we all agree you need to get this all down and get it published....you're another Erma Bombeck! BTW, there's nothing like "country" life..it's the best! We've lived in So. CA, SC, PA, MI and now TX. We've "downsized" to a town with 70,000 and our next move will be an even smaller place. Good luck to you both!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am loving this picture of popeye vs. the chickens. Hilarious!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Mel... You should go and buy some corn from the farmer. Silver Queen corn is awesome. What is even more awesome and sooooooooo tasty is sweet corn cut right out of the field. It is nothing like what you get at a grocery store.

    Just be humble as humble pie around these country folk. They have learned how to do without things and they will be your best friend in your time of need out there in the country and trust me there will be times that you will have to lean on them until you learn how to deal with country living fully.

    I would advise you two to invest in a 4x4 ATV (not a quad) for doing your heavy hauling around the homestead. You will wear out your lawn tractor quickly using it to do also do the heavy work. (trust me I know)

    Also keep a plenty of plain clay cat litter and rock salt handy for when you do get a sudden ice storm or snow fall. Or find your local farm Co-op and buy some big bags of feed grade Urea which is cheap and will melt ice and give you traction when you need to get out of your driveway in bad weather.

    As far as the trash... ask your neighbors. There may be someone in your area that offers bagged trash pick-up (yep... with a pick-up truck and not with a city style garbage truck)

    Or find yourself a steel drum barrel and start burning it on your own. Also find a place on your property to start a compose pile. (remember no meat in a compose pile)

    Also you should consider subscribing to some homestead style magazines. I bet Dave would love reading and learning from them. You can google "homestead magazines" to get some hits on a few of them.


    BRS
    (ex city gal living in the country for 13+ years now)

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Hello,
So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com