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)







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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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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- JUNE BUG

What buzzes into southern Appalachia in the month of June, in copious numbers? Yep. The JUNE BUG.

A JUNE BUG is a beetle that wears a shimmery green armor on its back. It's fairly large unless you compare it with an American cockroach (we called them water bugs in Kentucky). They look almost exactly like what we call a Japanese beetle now. I'm not sure if it's the same variety. I think the Japanese version is much smaller than our JUNE BUG.

The JUNE BUGs uniqueness doesn't end with its size or attractive shiny green armor. For bored kids just out of school for the year, the JUNE BUG held another quality that provided much entertainment.

Fortunately, they were easy to catch. Then you needed a friend, sibling, or mother to help you do the next step.

A JUNE BUG with a string tied to its leg
While one person holds the JUNE BUG upside down (not simple to do), the other person ties a thread onto one of the JUNE BUG's hind legs. This person had to be careful because the wriggly JUNE BUG wasn't thrilled about the process and would dig its claw-like appendages into your skin.

Once the string was firmly attached, you wrapped the end of the long string around your finger and let the JUNE BUG fly away. It couldn't fly far because it was attached to the string.

The JUNE BUG would fly back and forth, up and down, and all around trying to break free of the string.

The kids giggled as they ducked out of the way. It was fun to watch, but they didn't want it to get on them. The JUNE BUG sang a song that sounded a bit like a Jews Harp as it flew. That was my favorite part.

Eventually, the string would loosen enough for the JUNE BUG to fly away. If it was lucky. Now, I look back and think how mean we were with those poor JUNE BUGS. At least we weren't as deadly as with the lightning bugs.

Uncle Junior & brother Larry.
They also like to play with snakes.
I remember well my brother playing with the JUNE BUGS for hours at a time in our front yard. Sometimes, my youngest uncle, Junior, would join in the fun. I always thought it was funny because our nickname for Junior was JUNE BUG.

Did you ever torture ... uh ... play with JUNE BUGS when you were a kid? Do you have a funny story about them?











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