Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- JAR FLY

Do you know what a JAR FLY is?

Did you ever hear them singing their song in the trees (their LOUD song) and search for them?

I loved to find them. And look at them. They were a fascinating bug. A BIG bug. With clear wings. That was the cool part of them for me.

But I never touched one. They were big, remember, and I was fearful of what must be big teeth inside them.

Now the problem with being afraid of something, especially if you have a brother, is that they think the greatest fun in the world is to catch the creature you are scared to death of and chase you around the neighborhood with it. Threatening to let it bite you.

My brother chased me with a JAR FLY
The JAR FLY, as we called it in Harlan County, is also called by other names in other locations. When I lived in Columbus, Ohio, I went outside one summer and the trees were alive with a similarly sounding bug. Not quite the JAR FLY song of my youth.

I soon learned they were Cicadas. Cicadas generally only show up every thirteen years or so.

The JAR FLY, however, comes every year, in the late summer. Some people call them DOG DAY CICADAS. Yes, they show up around August, during the dog days, and then disappear when autumn arrives.

I enjoyed the JAR FLY song. Some people complain that it is annoying.

Recently, in Atlanta, I walked outside and heard the familiar song coming from the Pine trees behind my house.

I smiled. Memories of youth rushed back. I even miss my brother being here to chase me around with a JAR FLY. If he was still alive, I might even let him catch me. Wonder what he would do. As I recall, he never caught up to me when we were kids. Probably on purpose.

Did you catch a JAR FLY when you were young? Do you hear them where you live today? Do you have a funny story about them?

If you'd like to see and hear a JAR FLY, click on the link below and it will take you to a Youtube video.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- GEE-TAR

Have you ever played a GEE-TAR?

There are several types of GEE-TAR. Acoustic, Electric, Electro-acoustic, Twelve-string, Archtop, Classical/Spanish, Flamenco, Steel, Resonator, Bass, Double-neck, Red-neck, and a few more.

Most of the GEE-TARS I knew of when I lived in the mountains were Acoustic. Of course, there were others being used a lot in Bluegrass, Country, and Gospel music.

GEE-TARs are quite versatile and easy to learn. If you don't mind getting sore fingers and calluses, that is. You can take them almost anywhere with you.

Playing GEE-TAR around the campfire
I remember going camping with church groups. Someone always brought a GEE-TAR so we could sit around a campfire and sing songs--right before someone started telling scary stories.

There's one type of GEE-TAR, though, that a lot of people don't know about unless they are fans of the old (as in my era) music of the Grand Old Opry style. I'm talking about the Hawahyer GEE-TAR. (That's Hawaiian Guitar for you city folks.)

My mom told me she used to play one. I never heard her because she didn't have the money to buy one just for her own entertainment. I thought it would be really cool to have a mom who played the Hawahyer GEE-TAR.

Some people also referred to them as a STEEL GEE-TAR. Or a SLIDE GEE-TAR.

I've given you a link here to listen to one in action: Click on the link. A blue bar will appear. Click on the blue bar and it will take you to the video.

Do you love GEE-TAR music? What's your favorite type of GEE-TAR? Can you play?

I'd love to hear your stories.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- PAWPAW

Do you remember the song about sweet little Sally being way down yonder in the PAWPAW patch? We sang it often in my school.

Do you know what a PAWPAW is? Have you ever eaten one?

This time of year is harvesting season for the PAWPAW. I kept my eyes open for a PAWPAW tree while I visited my hometown of Harlan, Kentucky last weekend.

Unfortunately, I didn't find one and I'm not able to roam the mountains anymore to search for one growing up on Pine Mountain. Besides, the mountains are full of black bears, rattlesnakes, and copperheads these days.

I came home from my trip regretting I have to wait at least one more year before getting to sink my teeth into one of those luscious fruits.

If you don't know about PAWPAW, I'll give you the details. They grow mostly wild on a scraggly looking tree with large leaves.

In appearance, they are similar to a mango. The flavor of a PAWPAW seems to be a combination of banana and mango. Of course, I never heard of a mango until I left the mountains. So, my only comparison to the flavor was a banana.

The flesh is smooth, sweet, and yellow/orange. Inside the PAWPAW you will find large dark seeds. You don't eat the seeds. Or the peeling. The peeling is a tad bitter.

A Harlan County friend
decorates with PAWPAW
leaves and Buckeyes
I remember fondly a friend of my daddy who had a PAWPAW tree growing in his yard in Loyall. Every August/September, we would stop by and pick a few from a tree he had growing in his back yard. I smile when I think of it.

I found a video on YouTube that describes the PAWPAW and current research on how to make them more marketable. Apparently, they are too delicate to sell in bulk at grocery stores. You can use the pulp, de-seeded and mushed, in recipes in the place of bananas. It can also be frozen for later.

Here's the link if you want to watch the video about PAWPAWS:


Have you ever eaten a PAWPAW? What did you think about it? Do you live where PAWPAWS grow today? Tell us about your PAWPAW experiences.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- VY-EENIES

Did you grow up eating VY-EENIE (Vienna) Sausages?

Whether you pronounce the name VY-EENIE, Vee-inner, or Vienna they were a staple in most of our homes. They were also handy to carry with you for a snack with a pack of Saltines.

Remember those little cans you had to open with a key to reveal seven perfectly formed sausages in a mostly clear juice?

I thought they looked like a flower stuffed into that can. A VY-EENIE weenie flower.

Capturing the first VY-EENIE
Of course, after getting the key to work on the can wasn't always an easy task. Neither was the next step--getting the first VY-EENIE out of the can. A fork helped. But if you didn't have a fork with you, you had to dig into the VY-EENIES with your fingers and wrestle one out.

VY-EENIES are the poor man's caviar. About as appetizing when I think about it now.

Funny how we didn't think about what was in those little sausages then. We just ate them. Now I realize how disgusting a combination of ingredients made up those beloved VY-EENIES.

Just one bit of a VY-EENIE
In spite of my new-found knowledge of the ingredients, I had to try one as I prepared this post. So I took one bite.

The memories flooded back.

However, I could only eat one bite as the gritty flavor lingered in my mouth.

Do you still eat VY-EENIES?

What do you call them? VY-EENIE sausages? VY-EENIE weenies? Vienna Sausages?

Love or hate?

We want to know.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- OKREE

OKREE (Okra) is one of those foods you either love or hate.

During my childhood, I could only tolerate it if it was dusted with a mixture of half flour and half cornmeal and fried in a black iron skillet. Of course, as in all things, we added a sprinkling of salt and pepper to the mix. Then it fried until all the slime was gone and it was golden brown.

Later in life, I attempted to eat it in soups or combined with stewed tomatoes. Nope. My OKREE (I called it okra) had to be fried. I could not handle that slimy mushiness. YUCK!

Although I and many of my friends called it okra, the older folks (like my dad) referred to it as OKREE.

OKREE (Okra) flower
Daddy always planted a row or two of OKREE plants in our hillside garden. The plants grew quite tall--taller than me. I loved the soft yellow flowers that preceded the pods of OKREE. I wanted to pick some, but Daddy wagged his finger at me and said, "If'n you pick them flares, you won't get no OKREE." So, I controlled my urge and admired them from a distance.

When the pods were just the right size, according to Daddy, we picked a mess and took them inside to Mom. I got to rinse the dirt off before Mom sliced them. The sensation of the tiny hairs on my fingers made me think they would stick into my fingers like tiny needles. They didn't hurt, just felt weird. After rinsing, I remember having to sop up the water so the outside of the pod didn't get slimy. The tiny white seeds inside fascinated me as Mom sliced the OKREE.

The smells of OKREE cooking made my tummy gurgle with delight. No matter what else we had for supper, I dug into the crispy morsels with gusto.

At the end of the growing season, like about now, there wasn't enough OKREE left to gather a whole mess. So, we'd search for a few scrawny green tomatoes still clinging to the vines and combine the tomatoes and OKREE into one fair-sized mess. Instead of slicing the tomatoes, Mom or Dad (he was a fabulous cook) would dice them into cubes and add them to the OKREE. Of course, they first dusted them with the flour/meal mixture.

Sometimes, I make a mixture today, even if I have plenty of the ingredients to make a full mess of either one. The tomato adds a tanginess to the mix. Makes for a satisfying dish, for sure.

Sliced OKREE (okra)

After writing this post, I've decided I need to fry up a mess of OKREE for my dinner tonight. It's sitting in there waiting for me. Come to think of it, I've got a couple of green tomatoes in the fridge, too.

I'm going to have a fabulous supper.

How about you?

Did you grow up eating OKREE? Or okra? Did you love it or hate it? Do you ever eat it today? I'd like to hear about your memories.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

When Life is Like Wilted Flowers

Recently I brought home a pot of miniature daffodils from the grocery store. The anticipation of pert yellow blooms gave me hope for spring and warm sunshine. Though we’ve had more rain than snow this winter in Atlanta, I needed a boost of hope.

For several days, I watched them grow and then bloom as they sat on the corner of my desk. Whenever I looked at them, I smiled.

And then… they began to wilt. The leaves turned brown and drooped until wrinkled and faded blooms lay helpless on my desk.

I no longer smiled when I looked at them. I pined for the days of perky yellow happiness.

Then I realized… I can relate to how the flowers must feel about their decline.

I’ve had a tough year or so. I’m getting old. My prime is passed. I have wilted.

Circumstances beyond my control have left me drained...



Is my life almost over, too? Can I only expect to be treated like a flower that no longer matters? Will I be snipped off and tossed in the trash? Dismissed and forgotten?

And then, I remembered…

The flowers may be gone, but the plant is not dead.

The bulb, the life source, is still as strong as always.

After a brief rest, new stems will emerge from the soil and new flowers will bloom.

Just like me.

My life source is still strong and alive and growing, even though I feel the effects of my current wilted existence.

I have more flowers to share. All I have to do is rest and let my power source take over for me, to re-charge me and revitalize me.

I don't know when those new flowers will grow and bloom,


The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. —Exodus 14:14

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- CRICK

Did you ever play in a CRICK?

Some of my most wonderful memories of childhood are times spent wading in a CRICK, splashing in the water, lifting rocks to see what was hiding beneath, and wiggling my toes in the pebbles that usually covered the ground.

Know what a CRICK is now?

I'm not talking about the CRICK in your neck when you sleep wrong. Or when you spend a couple of hours craning your neck to watch a TV screen in a restaurant because your favorite team is playing.

I'm talking about the CRICK out back that splashes white water as it rushes across smooth rocks and stones as it flows. The CRICK that washes away your troubles by the sound of its rushing. The CRICK that cools your toes and your whole being on a steamy summer day. The CRICK where you and your childhood friends gathered and spent hours together laughing. A place where memories were made.

Family reunion at the CRICK
My family used to take a picnic lunch down to a CRICK in the mountains. We all sat around on rocks and ate our food. The children played in the CRICK. It was the place to take visiting family members who had moved away from the mountains.

The CRICK whirls through your mind and takes you to a place where everything in your life is happy and carefree--even if for a brief time.

I remember the more seasoned residents of our town saying "Lord willing and the CRICK don't rise" in response to making plans to see each other again. Of course, if heavy rains caused the CRICK to rise, you couldn't get to the other side. It would turn muddy brown, the power of the water would possibly knock you down and carry you along with it, and your footbridge across the CRICK could be swallowed up by the water.

A few years ago, I attended a writers workshop at Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky. Behind the school, Troublesome CRICK flowed gently past. I never knew why it was called Troublesome until one afternoon when the clouds opened up and added so much rainwater to the CRICK that stirred it up muddy, caused it to overflow its banks, and spread out onto the property. Truly a Troublesome CRICK at that point.

CRICK flowing from mountain
There are days now when I dream of a CRICK. A CRICK that originates from an underground stream that flows down the side of a mountain and gains speed to propel it through the holler. When life's troubles overwhelm me, I search for a CRICK. The place where I can relax, splash in the cool water, and let the CRICK wash away all my troubles.

Do you have a place you go to wash away your troubles -- like a CRICK?

Do you need a CRICK today?

CRICK behind my first apartment in Cumberland, KY

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- TATER

One of the most versatile staples in our Appalachian family was the TATER. Easily accessible and cheap, the TATER easily adapted to nearly every meal.

No matter which variety of TATER we used or what we did to it, it excelled as a lip-smackin' part of the meal.

My brother or I often had to make a quick trip to a nearby roadside store to pick up some TATERS for dinner. Dad usually told me to get Arsh (Irish) TATERS. Sometimes he preferred the I-dee-ho (Idaho) TATERS. There were other varieties for special times--like new TATERS and sweet TATERS.

One of my favorite methods of cooking TATERS was fried TATERS. Mom always sliced some onions and put them in the iron skillet with the TATER slices. Oh, my goodness, what the fragrance would do to my nose and stomach!

We mustn't forget the other fabulous TATER dishes, though. Mashed TATERS are necessary for chicken or turkey meals. A baked TATER is a perfect side for a pot of homemade chili. Diced TATERS add the filler for a pot of homemade beef and vegetable soup.

French Fried TATERS
Of course, when we got to go out to eat at Creech Drugstore or the counter at Newberry's 5 and 10, we loved getting an order of French Fried TATERS and dipping them into ketchup. Later, when I was at school and could go out to eat lunch at Goldie's Corner Store or Mike's Drive-In, I loved having a corndog, hamburger, or hotdog with an order of steamy hot French Fried TATERS sprinkled with salt.

Whenever I was sick, my mom made a big pot of TATER soup. It seemed that when nothing else would go down -- or stay down -- that soup would hit the spot and heal me. Still today, when I feel under the weather, I yearn for TATER soup.

Homemade Fried TATER chips
Dad used to make a special treat for us by slicing TATERS really thin and dropping them into our deep fryer until they were golden brown. Yep, homemade TATER chips. Even Grippos don't compare to my daddy's TATER chips.

On those rare occassions when we had leftover mashed TATERS, Mom would use them the next day to whip up some fried TATER cakes. Oh, my, they were amazing with their pieces of diced onion and flour mixture, fried until golden brown in an iron skillet.

It's disappointing that as I age my dietitian instructs me to severely limit my intake of TATERS. I pray that when I get to heaven TATERS will once again be readily available, with no limitations. I'm dreaming of a breakfast of fried TATERS smothered in gravy.

What's your favorite TATER recipe? Do you have a special memory of a TATER dish?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week - TAR

Do you know what a TAR is? I don't mean the tar you use to turn a gravel road into a paved one. It's also not the TAR they used to use to patch holes in the roof or make TAR paper. Man, that stuff would stink to high heaven -- kind of like a polecat (we talked about those a few weeks ago).

I'm talking about the TARs you put on your car to make it roll. If you're not from the mountains, you might call them tires. When I was a kid, I wouldn't have known what you were talking about.

TARs stink, too. I remember going with Daddy to buy a new TAR at the Sears a couple of times. Those TARs were stacked up all over the place and they stank like crazy. When I go to a TAR place to get my new TARs these days, the memories of shopping with Daddy come back. After all these years, TARs still smell like TARs. I'd much prefer the smell of fried chicken to a room full of brand new TARs.

I do enjoy the memories, though. Like when Daddy got out with his sledge hammer and beat on the old TAR to get it off the rim and then had to put the new TAR on. It was hard work. He'd be sweating streams that dripped off his face and his white t-shirt (they called them wife-beaters back then) would be soaking wet.

That reminds me of some of my friends back then who misbehaved so much that their dads beat the tar out of them. I think they meant a different kind of tar.

TARs on a bicycle
TARs are used on more than just cars. We can't forget that bicycles, motorcycles, and even tricycles use TARs.

Used or damaged TARs that were past the ability to re-tread didn't end their usefulness, though. My mom convinced my dad to cut a zig zag design into the inner edge of a couple of old TARs for her. She put them in the front yard, filled them with dirt, and planted flowers in them. I'm sure it wasn't her idea originally and she'd seen them in someone else's yard first, but they were rather pretty. I especially liked the spicy smelling petunias she planted inside.

One year she saw some painted white TARs in somebody's yard over in Corbin, KY and decided to paint hers, too. It did freshen up the old black TAR look a bit.

TAR Swing
Old TARs are often used to entertain the kids, too. All you have to do is tie a rope through one and then hang it over the limb of a big tree. That TAR swing gave us hours of fun.

Sometimes I wonder if I went into a TAR store here in Atlanta and asked for some new TARs for my car if they would know what I meant. I might try it if I need some amusement one day.

Do you remember TARs on your car? Do you still call them TARs today? Do people know what in the world you're talking about? Did your family have a unique use for old TARs? I'd love to hear about it.


Appalachian Word of the Week - TAR (Click to tweet)

Do you have TARs on your cars? (Click to tweet)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week - GAUMED UP

Have you ever heard the term GAUMED or GAUMED UP?

Although it can refer to a lot of things, my dad used it most when he worked on his cars.

He would go out and buy a car from somebody for practically nothing and tow it home by a rope or chain. They very rarely ran, so he couldn't drive it into place in the garage to work on it. Somehow, he managed to successfully get it into our driveway and positioned just right in our little garage. He had to either back into it and push it backwards with a car that ran or get out and push it in--all by himself. My dad wasn't very tall, about 5 foot 6, but he was a determined sot. Sweat was his cologne.

I remember watching him as he started working on a new car. He rigged a wench in the garage to pull the engine out of the car so he could get access to everything. As he took the engine apart, piece by piece, he complained. "Just look at that mess. It's all GAUMED UP. That man didn't know how to take care of a car.
Dad used gas to get things UNGAUMED

Then he'd get his gasoline can, an old worn out t-shirt he had ripped into rags, and a stiff metal brush and go to town cleaning the GAUMED UP part. To me, it looked like black sludge. I didn't think he could ever get it clean, but he did. By the time he finished, that engine was shiny and new looking. No GAUM anywhere. He always got it running, too.

When he ran out of gasoline, instead of going out to buy some more, he'd siphon a bit out of his working car. I remember him sucking on that hose until he got the gas coming out into the can. Then he'd commence to spittin' and sputterin' until he got the gas out of his mouth. Nothing stopped my dad. Not gasoline in his mouth or GAUM in his car.

Of course, GAUMED doesn't only refer to filthy grease or caked on crud in cars.

after the flood of '77
I remember how our house and yard got GAUMED UP after the flood of 1977. It was a real mess. All the furniture was GAUMED UP with river sludge. Actually, the entire house was GAUMED UP with it until Daddy took up some floor boards and shoveled it under the house. Then he nailed the boards back in place. He and Mom scrubbed the GAUM off of the walls and floors and hosed down the house, inside and out.

Children have a special gift for gettin' GAUMED UP with food and anything dirty. My little sister had a knack for gettin' GAUMED UP with her food. It was especially disgusting when she got hold of peanut butter or chocolate.

A lot of adults get their houses or storage buildings all GAUMED UP with stuff they should have thrown away a long time ago. I suppose my son would put me into that category, too. I guess he'd be right. Seems the older I get, the more GAUMED UP my house becomes. My excuse is that it's getting too difficult for me to gather it up and UNGAUM my life on my own steam.

Do you have things that have GAUMED UP your life? How about we all try to get UNGAUMED a little bit this year? It can be the nastiness that needs to be cleaned up, the stuff that slows us down and keeps us from being productive, or it could be the GAUMED UP relationships that make our lives miserable. If those GAUMED UP people aren't willing to clean up themselves and keep trying to put a nasty GAUM all over us, maybe it's time we kicked them to the curb, too. Of course, we should first offer them some gasoline and a stiff wire brush to clean up their act.


Appalachian Word of the Week - GAUMED UP (Click here to tweet)

Is your life all GAUMED UP? (Click here to tweet)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- GIGGIN'

Do you know what GIGGIN' is? Have you ever been?

GIGGIN' was a favorite pastime for my dad when the weather was right. He pulled on his waders, grabbed his can of carbide to put in his miner's cap, grabbed his GIGGIN' pole, and went hunting.

You may be asking what he went hunting for. Bullfrogs, of course. One of the delicacies we enjoyed in Appalachia was fried frog legs. The bigger the bullfrog, the legs. And yes, they tasted a bit like chicken.

Frog GIGGIN' pole
I remember those nights my daddy went out GIGGIN' and he came home with a large bucket full of bullfrogs. I knew we'd have a mess of frog legs for dinner the next night.

Now, when I was a little kid, I loved frogs. I searched the mountain side behind our house for frogs of every size. I played with them, even though my mom said they would give me warts. I never had a wart, by the way.

My biggest joy in life was finding a nice juicy frog, putting it into my shiny black pocketbook and taunting the boys. I offered to show them what I had inside and when they got really close, I'd open my pocketbook and show them my frog. I laughed at the boys who jumped back and let out a yelp. One of the worst was my uncle Jerry. He was a sailor and supposed to be a tough guy, but when I sprung my frog on him, he yelped like a girl and ran away.

Playing with a bullfrog
Apparently, Mom and Dad bored of my games because one night when Daddy went GIGGIN' he managed to catch a huge bullfrog without having to GIG it.

He put it in the bucket with the GIGGED ones and brought it home. The next morning he told me he had a surprise for me. Daddy thought he was being so smart. As Mom looked on, he told me to get close to the frog bucket, which was really an oversized fish bucket with a lid. Just as I leaned over, he flipped open the lid to reveal the giant bullfrog.

Bucket for collecting frogs while GIGGIN'
I squealed. Not because I was scared, but because I was thrilled! Before you knew it, I had that Goliath out of the bucket, tied a string around its neck (or as close to a neck as it had) and commenced hopping him throughout the house.

Right about then, Mom and Dad shook their heads and probably wished Daddy had GIGGED that bullfrog.

So, did you ever go GIGGIN'? Did your dad? Have you ever dined on fried frog legs? And did you know frog legs jump when you fry them?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- LIGHTNING BUGS

You're a child in the mountains of Kentucky and the sun is setting above the western ridge. You've spent the summer day playing games, going fishing on the Cumberland River, walking or riding your bike to meet up with friends, reading a book, or another way of whiling away a steamy summer day.

With the setting of the sun, though, comes one of your favorite activities. Catching LIGHTNING BUGS. You get an empty Avon jar from your mother or a mason jar. I liked the Avon jars best because they were usually translucent white, pink, or another color and when you put your LIGHTNING BUGS inside, the entire jar glowed.

Giggles filled the growing darkness as you and your friends rushed across the yard to locate the last flash you saw and swoop up another LIGHTNING BUG.

One thing I learned quickly about LIGHTNING BUGS--they stink. When you get them on your fingers, your hands stink like crazy. But it didn't matter. We ran across a lot of stinky things in the mountains.

LIGHTNING BUGS are blessings
After you gather your jar of LIGHTNING BUGS, you sit in the grass or on the porch swing, while other flying bugs are attracted to you from your sweat and take a bite out of you, and watch the miraculous show from a little bug.

When boredom sets in and you are tired of the biting bugs, someone comes up with a great idea--making sidewalk art out of the LIGHTNING BUGS.

Now I hate to admit I participated in this activity. It's a shame. It's also probably one reason why we don't have as many LIGHTNING BUGS these days as we did back then.

Usually, a boy started the whole thing by taking a LIGHTNING BUG and smearing its glowing tail across the concrete, road, or front porch. I admit it was pretty to see it glow like neon glitter. But, it also meant the death of a LIGHTNING BUG. The evening darkness helped us ignore that part of it. We wanted to see the pretty glow.

When mamas called the children inside for the night to take a bath and wash off the grime of the day, I often took my jar inside and placed it beside my bed so I could watch them flash as I drifted off to sleep. My nightlight. The next day, I took my LIGHTNING BUGS outside and released them to flash again.

Recently, my first book of Appalachian Fiction sold. The publishing company's name is Firefly Southern Fiction. I thought that only fitting. I recently celebrated my dream-come-true by purchasing a new pair of earrings. LIGHTNING BUGS, of course.

Did you catch LIGHTNING BUGS as a child? Did you slime the sidewalk with LIGHTNING BUG essence and murder them? Did you teach your children about the glories of LIGHTNING BUGS?

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- BUGGY

This week’s word is BUGGY. 

No, I don’t mean a baby buggy. 

I also don’t mean how it is when you go outside to sit in the swing with your sweetie on a steamy summer evening and you’re swarmed with biting, buzzing, flying bugs that have a hankerin’ for a taste of your blood.

I mean a shopping BUGGY. If you’re citified or from another part of the world, you might call it a shopping cart or just cart. In my family, we called it a BUGGY.

I loved pushing around the BUGGY at the A&P and trying to slip a few extra treats in while my Mom and Dad weren’t watching. They usually caught me, though.

I loved the BUGGIES where you put the baby of the family in it facing you so they can teeth on the handle of BUGGY that has a collection of every germ and disease known to mankind. Yesiree, we mountain folk are a healthy lot because we became immune to any disease you can imagine by the age of two from gnawing on that handle. Our BUGGY was nothing like the ones we have today.

Today, we coddle our youngsters in molded plastic BUGGIES that look like racecars or spaceships. 

Even worse, some grocery stores (like Trader Joe’s) provide miniature BUGGIES to their mini-me kids of customers. Those things are downright dangerous. If you’re not careful you’ll leave the store with bruises from a mini-me that flies down the aisles without looking, doesn’t stop when you do, and then stops right in front of where you want to go and won’t move out of the way. I don’t know where they learn … oh, yeah … they learned it from their parents.

I never wanted to push the BUGGY when my sister was sitting in the baby seat. Not only could she splutter baby juices all over me, but she could also kick me in the gut as I pushed her. I gladly took my place behind Mom during that phase.
I always thought how nice it would be to have one of those BUGGIES to cart stuff around. It wouldn’t have worked too well in our driveway, though, since it was full of gravel and ashes from the coal stove.

Taking a ride in a BUGGY
My brother and I tried to get away with racing with the BUGGY while one of us was inside. Dad didn’t let that happen for long. He’d be in our faces, wagging that finger, and saying, “You’re gonna get in Dutch.” (We talked about that word a few weeks ago)

Homeless person with BUGGY

We had one old lady in Harlan who had confiscated a BUGGY from A&P and used it to cart her worldly possessions around town. I remember seeing her often near the Court House. Summer or winter, she wore several layers of clothes and had on a winter coat—as tattered and dirty as they were. I always wondered what all she had in that BUGGY. I could see a lot of newspapers (probably the Harlan Daily Enterprise). I imagine she had some food hidden away in there. After she died, I heard the story that she had a lot of money stuffed in the bottom of that BUGGY. That was a surprise. I’m still not sure if the story was true or just one of those urban legends.

Do you remember pushing a BUGGY at A&P or Cas Walkers? Have any funny stories about something you or someone else did with a BUGGY?


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- QUEERY

Do you know what a QUEERY is? How about if I spell it the way it is on paper? QUARRY. Yep, some people also call it a GRAVEL PIT. But I always thought it was a QUEERY until I left Harlan County.

My experience with a QUEERY was the one on top of Pine Mountain in Harlan County. When we visited my grandmother, who lived right down the road from the Pine Mountain Settlement School, we sometimes took the paved road (instead of the graveled, hair-pin turned, one-laned Laden Trail).

On the main road, we passed the QUEERY. If they weren't working and it was a fairly decent day, we sometimes stopped to take a look inside. That place was HUGE! I loved standing there and yelling to hear my voice echo off the sheer stone walls.

Sparkly Quartz from the QUEERY
I also loved walking around inside and looking for gravel remnants that had a little sparkle to them. Limestone, the type of QUEERY we had, contained a lot of quartz. What joy when I could wander around inside the QUEERY and load my pockets with sparkly quartz-infused gravel. At home, I gathered my rocks, dipped them in water, and watched them sparkle as I turned them in the bright summer sun.

Fossil fern from the QUEERY
Limestone also contained fossils. What fun when I came across an ancient fern or creature that left its impression in the stone. I could have spent the entire day roaming around and picking up treasures from the QUEERY. Unfortunately, my young pockets would only hold a certain amount. That, and my parents weren't quite as excited about rocks as I was. My mother preferred diamonds.

This QUEERY is where my deep love and appreciation for rocks, minerals, and gemstones must have begun. I still swoon for anything that sparkles.

I remember the huge trucks that used to transport gravel from our QUEERY across the mountains. Smaller stones were used for roads and driveways. The Railroad workers spread larger ones up and down the miles and miles of railroad tracks as a base for the ties and rails.

Walking the tracks for Quartz rocks
Those railroad tracks and the sparkly rocks strewn there kept me walking the rails often during the warmer months. Of course, I came home with my pockets crammed with the sparkliest rocks I could find.

We have a QUEERY here in Atlanta. Sadly, they don't allow anyone to get anywhere near it. When I drive by, though, my mind travels back to that amazing QUEERY on top of Pine Mountain and the fun I had there as a child. Funny how the best memories of childhood are the ones that didn't cost a penny.

Did you ever visit a QUEERY?

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week - IN DUTCH

How many of you have been warned that you're "this" close to getting IN DUTCH? Do you know what it means? It means you've said or done something that causes disfavor with someone or is offensive. So, if you say or do something that irritates your parent, you will get IN DUTCH with them and they will respond in kind.

Was it a look your mom, dad or teacher gave you that warned you?

Did they make you go out and cut your own switch from the bush in the yard? If so, you knew you'd better get a good one, not a little wimpy twig, or mom or dad would go out and get one that wouldn't be so easy to forget.

Was the warning enough to set you on the straight course? Or did you test it to the limit?

My folks never used a belt, but I had friends who whispered about one being used in their homes. I wondered if their parents were ogres or if my friends were really dumb to break the rules even after their warning about getting IN DUTCH.

For me, all it took was my dad looking at me with that serious, but sorrowful hound dog expession on his face, pointing his finger, and saying, "You're gonna get IN DUTCH if you don't watch it."

One more second and you'll get IN DUTCH
All my mom had to do was look up at me (she was only 5 feet tall), with her head surrounded with metal-clamped pin-curls, and give me her basset-hound eyes. She was little, but she was a stick of dynamite that I never wanted to ignite.

Getting IN DUTCH, was the term used in my household for when we had almost gone too far. We knew it meant a whippin' if we crossed that line. I guess it was like our early warning system.

I almost always chose to heed that warning and stay out of DUTCH. My brother wasn't so smart.

You're gonna get IN DUTCH!

Thankfully, my son was smart and I rarely had to go beyond a warning that he was gonna get IN DUTCH. He learned his lessons quickly and well. Just like his mom.

Was IN DUTCH used in your house? Did you often find yourself IN DUTCH? How did your parents deal with your behavior that caused disfavor?

What did your parents call it when you were on the verge of getting the switch? (Be family rated here)


You're gonna get IN DUTCH (Click here to tweet)

Appalachian Word of the Week - IN DUTCH (Click here to tweet)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- PICKLED BALONEY

One of my earliest memories is of a general store on top of Pine Mountain, Kentucky. On our way to my grandmother's rustic cabin hidden below the main road near the Pine Mountain Settlement School, we always stopped at the store. I still remember the bang of the screen door as we entered the dark room packed with an assortment of staples and foods. A cooler stood near the counter, humming as it cooled a variety of soft drinks (pop) -- Nehi Grape, Peach, Squirt, RC Cola, Coke, and Chocolate Soda come to mind.

A variety of sweets tempted me, but I skipped right past those to the rough-hewn wooden counter. Candy didn't cut it today.

The main reason we always stopped at this store sat on the end of the counter in a large glass jar with a red lid. A rope of PICKLED BALONEY.

My dad chatted with the proprietor as I anxiously waited for the big purchase. Finally, the grocer unscrewed the lid and pulled the PICKLED BALONEY rope out of the jar until my dad said, "That'll do." A knife neatly sliced the rope and he wrapped our piece in white butcher paper.

Saltines to tame the PICKLED BALONEY

I barely controlled my anticipation as Daddy paid for the PICKLED BALONEY and a sleeve of saltines (crackers).

Back in the car, Dad handed the PICKLED BALONEY to my mom to rip off a piece for each of us.

I grabbed my piece and peeled off the casing (pork gut) and bit into the PICKLED BALONEY. Heaven! Saltines were passed around, too, to calm down the pickled exuberance in the PICKLED BALONEY. The strong flavor of the pickling spices are what made it so glorious, but it was a tad strong on the tongue.

The last bite, with licks to my fingers, always brought sadness. I LOVED my PICKLED BALONEY.

I loved PICKLED BALONEY so much that I often received a jar of it (smaller than the one at the store) as one of my Christmas gifts.

My health has caused me to slow down on my PICKLED BALONEY consumption the past several years. I truly miss it. Thankfully, I don't have many options to be strong and resist its charm, since it's not as available in Georgia. But there are days when my mind wanders back to that dusty old country store and the joy I received from that PICKLED BALONEY. I truly believe it was the very best PICKLED BALONEY in the whole world.

My son never acquired a taste for PICKLED BALONEY. Whenever I ate it, he stood back and pinched his nose in disgust. PICKLED BALONEY never made it past his nose. Ah, well, it meant more for me.

Pickle some boiled eggs
You never throw out the juice from a jar of PICKLED BALONEY. It can be re-used. My mom often used it to pickle boiled eggs or beets. I imagine a few other things were pickled in that juice, too. I preferred PICKLED BALONEY.

Do you have a love affair with PICKLED BALONEY? Share your story.


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Appalachian Word of the Week - PICKLED BALONEY (Click here to tweet)