Friday, November 27, 2015


Device-free Thanksgiving makes for less pictures but more smiles and conversation.

The basket was passed around right before the blessing, cell phones reluctantly relinquished.

What happened after that was good for the heart, the "kids" table was alive with actual conversation and laughter, we could see their faces instead of just the tops of their heads. They were all connecting the old-fashioned way.

The prime parking spot closest to the kitchen was reserved and one by one cars would slow, then go on by to the other side, even the ELDEST. When Kay came up the long steps on the other side, we said, "But we saved you a parking spot!" She said, "I saw that sign and there is no way in He!! I was going to park there."  

Thursday, November 26, 2015

missing Thanksgiving

Hyatt Regency Westshore, Tampa, Florida
Opening December 1, 1986

The job was almost done but not quite, the big hotel on Tampa Bay had rooms already booked for the grand opening next week, so no stopping work now.

The smells of turkey and pumpkin pie wafted into the big 2-story lobby and up through the tower and made our mouths water, making it harder to concentrate on work and wishing we were home with family and our own Thanksgiving dinner.

Then the word came, passed around from carpenters to plumbers to anyone with a toolbelt or hardhat, Dinner is Served.

The kitchen staff wanted to practice before the opening day, and what better way than to feed an army of lowly worker types like us. The tables in the grand dining room were covered with linen tablecloths and napkins, the china and silver and crystal were all set out. You talk about an instant boost in morale! Nice folks, those kitchen workers.

Yes, we used to build these big skyscrapers that after completion we could not afford to go into again. But not any more. Now we build truck stops, and we can go into them anytime to get a cuppa joe or beef jerky.

And we work on Thanksgiving day to finish the truck stop jobs too. Why? Because that is what we do, we build things and try to meet our schedule commitments no matter what. 

No, there are no grand hotel rooms already rented, but the premise is the same, there is diesel to sell and $$ to be made, so the work goes on. 

"It all pays the same"  "Just glad to have a job"  "It could always be worse"

Today there will be no turkey dinner provided for the workers, but my frozen turkey dinner will be waiting for me in the camper tonight.

And today working out in the cold rain and shaking my head at all the shoddy workmanship by the subs - and seeing (via Skype) my family 900 miles away back home by the warm fire eating Thanksgiving dinner, I am trying but just can't think of a worse thing. 

Retirement is on the horizon, 4 more years...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Ellijay Apple Cake

family favorite shredded apple pies, 
guests don't usually try them as they look weird or like coconut, 
more for us!

baking… why do I always manage to dirty up every thing in the kitchen, including the countertops and myself. I am often reminded of Holly Hunter in Always, the scene where she is cooking a "homemade meal"  putting her takeout chicken and mashed potatoes in her own bowls and sprinkling flour all around with an extra flick on herself for good measure.

If you haven't seen it, you should. Always with Holly Hunter, Richard Dreyfuss, John Goodman, and a cameo by Audrey Hepburn as the angel. A Steven Spielberg film, enough said.

Now to go clean up the kitchen.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

the view

one of the perks of a trip to town, the views - on a clear day like this you can see the skyline of Atlanta with Kennesaw Mountain over to the right and Stone Mountain over to the left, about 75 miles as the crow flies...

or as the hawk flies

then you come back down the mountain toward home

and wonder why you ever left

I have missed these views! You can see forever in Oklahoma, from one horizon to the other - which is pretty awesome in itself, but the reason you can see that far is because there are no trees or mountains in the way.

ahhh.... home

Friday, November 20, 2015

job report - crunch time

down to the wire, paving done, lights on

tire shop

here's your sign

Carl's Jr.

maybe a little more work on the inside the main store :)

the cleaning crew is coming in next Tuesday and will be there over Thanksgiving with Buddy, then the week after that it turns over to Loves for stocking and training, anyone need a job?

Love’s Travel Stop 
**Love’s and Carl Jr.
Now hiring for the new Loves Travel Stop on I-35.
Starting at $9 hourly, benefits, and 401K for full time employees.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


I made a little detour today on the way home. Found MarcyJo's Mealhouse in Pottsville, Tennessee, home of good cooking by Marcy and Joey.

A couple of years ago we discovered the singing duo of Joey and Rory. We liked their music and chemistry, then started recording and watching their TV shows and fell in love with them like all of their fans do. Just down home folks, Rory in his overalls, working on their farm, and making music. Rory has been a storyteller and songwriter all of his life, with some big hits under his belt. The red barn/recording studio was paid for by his hit "Some Beach" which paid for the barn, dubbed "Some Barn".

Joey and Marcy (Rory's sister) decided to open a restaurant, and MarcyJo's was born. For a long time I thought that Jo was Marcy's middle name, but the Jo part actually comes from Joey, they are partners in this venture and seem to love to cook for all the folks that stop by. They even demonstrate a recipe weekly on their show. Find their great recipe videos here.

The story of Joey and Rory unfolds each week on the shows (these TV shows are from 2012-2014, now in re-runs) featuring their farmhouse concerts, road trips, family and friends, and ending when their beautiful daughter, Indiana is born. Shortly after that the cancer hits.

Joey is such a beautiful person inside and out. Her story reminds me so much of our neighbor Robin who struggled with cancer, both ladies sweet young mothers, I remember Robin saying she wanted to make it to age 40, and she did. Joey is now also 40.

Rory the husband and songwriter and teller of stories has been chronicling their life since January 2014 in a blog, This Life I Live

 My blog:  I’m a songwriter who isn’t writing songs right now.  Joey has been encouraging me to write about our lives instead. ~ Rory  

It it started out with stories life on the farm, but has turned into a much-anticipated and often heartbreaking update on Joey's health, like this one from October when the treatment stopped:

The doctors gave us an estimate of how much time they believe that Joey has, and we both looked at the calendar that hangs by our kitchen door, then I took the calendar off the wall and threw in the trash can. ~Enough
When a new blog post is announced, the web-site cannot handle the thousands of fans and many get an error message, but keep trying... and praying.

So today on my way through the rolling hills of middle Tennessee, I veered off my path toward home to stop by Pottsville, Tennessee. With Joey on my mind, I made the short detour to MarcyJo's. I knew it was closed on Sundays, but just wanted to stop by and see it. Maybe someday in our travels we can stop in when it is open and have some of their famous cooking!

Marcy and Joey are changin' lives one bite at a time…

Friday, November 13, 2015

so long Guthrie

Guthrie in my rearview mirror

Guthrie, OK is one of the more picturesque little towns I have ever seen. A photo-op around every corner, and I have enjoyed capturing some pictures of the town and sharing on Instagram. Carrie and Daniel tease me about the hashtags, thinking I don't like the town, but I am just trying to learn this social media language. Daniel even suggested some hashtags for me, a couple of which are actually appropriate on this, my last day in Guthrie, like #nomoreguthrie and #leavingguthrie

I have enjoyed our stay in Oklahoma, the sky is big, the land is flat with oil running underneath, the earth shakes with fracking, and the wind is ever present.

In this little town, the buildings are old and stately, the streets are brick, the history is palpable. The folks here are friendly, they even say y'all.

I will miss eating at the local establishments, Staples' famous steaks and football-size baked potatoes, Katy's huge pancakes that hang over the edge of the plate.

The fabric store sells western material  picturing cowboys and Indians, they invited me to come and sew along in the shop. The lady at the local yarn shop tried to interest me in some OSU orange, I told her that we liked Tennessee Orange. More friendly folks, tried to get me to come on in and sit a spell and knit with them.

So Oklahoma is history for now, heading East to Georgia mountains and home and family. Hurry up Buddy and finish your job so you can follow me.

So long, Guthrie, in my rear-view mirror. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Higher than Yonder Mountain: Book Review

Higher than Yonder Mountain by Deany Brady

The little Deany that we all fell in love with in An Appalachian Childhood is back! In this the second part of her memoir, she tells the rest of the story. Always a dreamer, Deany longed to see all the exciting places pictured on the newspapers that covered the walls of her family's two-room shack deep in the mountains of north Georgia, and after years of hard work on her family's farm she did just that.

She was such a brave and strong young woman to venture out into the world on her own. From the poor red clay of Georgia to the glistening sands of Miami Beach to the bright lights of New York City, all of Deany's dreams came true as she saw and experienced the rich life. Of course there were highs and lows but her spirit sustained her through all hardships, after all growing up poor in Appalachia had made her strong enough to handle almost anything.

Then, coming full circle, she returned to her home in the shadow of Yonder Mountain, to the place that gave her strength. Her wings took her to fancy places, but her roots brought her back home to family. That red dirt wasn't so bad after all, especially when washed off in the cold water of Turkey Creek after a long day on the farm. And where better to raise a child than in the same place that raised her.  

Deany Brady is a master storyteller. Warning - once you start reading, you won't want to stop until done!

This book read like a novel, I often had to remind myself that these stories really happened, to a real person. If you have not read the first book in this memoir, An Appalachian Childhood, you must do so now! Then enjoy the rest of the story, Higher than Yonder Mountain.