March 03, 2019

Fear of Driving

After dark. In Tennessee.  What?

I love to drive. From my first driving lesson, in high school, until today, I absolutely love to drive. I like being on the highway flying to a destination; I like driving along scenic routes.  I can ride alone or I can have a partner.  I love to drive. Except after Tennessee.

Why's that, Missy?  No shoulders, no lights, bad signage and, worst of all, drivers who blind you with their high beams. I was taught to cut the high beams when encountering oncoming traffic.  What about you?

I generally avoid going anywhere after dark, even in the town where I live, because of the first three factors so my participation in events is limited.  I decided to conquer my dislike this past week and venture forth.

What happened, Missy?  It rained.  Both nights.  So add poor visibility to my litany of complaints.

The first foray was to Memphis, 60 odd miles away, for a program beginning at 7 p.m.  Here's the game plan: 1) leave early enough to drive during daylight hours. Simple, right? Cloudy; however, no  rain until I hit the highway. Which means...go slow. Why Lord?

Of course, by the time I hit Memphis proper, it was dark and still raining.  Signage is about the size of  a legal envelope. (I decided to see what the regs are for signage. The height of the letters can range from 4 inches to 12 inches depending on placement.  The width of the sign ranges from 18 to 48 inches.  A nice little piece of trivia for you.) Thank God for GPS.  Even then I missed the turn because there were no lights to illuminate the street, much less the sign. Drove to what I thought was the correct building, parked, and then had second thoughts.  Pulled out. Circled the block again, came back to what had to be the correct building and...someone had taken "my spot." On the upside: the program was interesting; I now have a general idea where Nordstrom Rack is located.

The second adventure was to drive to Alamo, a small town about 28 miles from me, for a 6 p.m. meeting.  Again, the game plan is to leave early enough to see where I am going. An easy drive, fairly straight but two lanes all the way.  What's this?  High water?  OMG. We have had so much rain over the last 6 weeks until anything containing water has overflowed. This includes the South Fork of the Forked Deer River which, this morning, is 2 ft above flood level.  As far as I can see there is nothing but water.  Water to the left of me; water to the right; water sitting on the nonexistent shoulders but no water on the roadway.  Lord, you brought me this far....

Made it safely to the courthouse in Alamo.  Yes, Ripley, your town square is very picturesque compared to theirs but...they have retail.  Hmm.

How were the return trips, Missy?  Dark. What is up with not having lights on major thoroughfares? Unless you are getting close to a city?  Even some neighborhoods in Memphis are dark...which explains why I didn't know where I was. Rainy. Hampers visibility during daylight but at night?  And let me explain about the lack of shoulders. I have no idea why they are nonexistent but if your tires stray one iota off the macadam, you are off the road and in a ditch or gully. No kidding. My brother claims that I hug the middle lane. True. That's the reason why.

Anyway, I made it home safely. Tom, my GPS, sent me home from Memphis along a two-lane road although he could have directed me to route 51, a divided highway.  Doesn't matter. It doesn't have lights or shoulders, either. Plus, in some places, the gullys are very deep.

I'm sure that I'll never get over my dislike of driving at Tennessee. I'll check my bucket list carefully and choose which programs I really want to see before I venture out again.

Be safe. Be Blessed.

July 04, 2018

White Squirrels, Grapes, and Roses

Kenton is a little town in northwest Tennessee about an hour's drive from Ripley.  It is the "Home of the White Squirrel."  Now, I'm not going to go into the genetic makeup and the rest of that stuff. It just isn't the focus of this post. Here's a tidbit, however, to get you started: White Squirrel Wars.

Did I really travel to Kenton to see a white squirrel? Um, Nope. They tell me that there are a few in Halls, here in Lauderdale County, so I can drive 20 minutes if I really want to see one. But I did travel there to visit the White Squirrel Winery.

The winery was formerly a Tennessee Walking Horse farm and the land has been in the family for eons. (If you've never seen the TN Walking Horse, you must.) The current owner, state senator, Bill Sanderson, has quite an enterprise going for him. His wife does the graphics for the business. She also makes candles and teaches.  They have a huge building with gift shop and a cute efficiency bed and bath set-up for when you imbibed too much of their product.  Just kidding, good for weddings, etc.

See, Miss Get Involved decided to join the Master Gardener Program (more on that later) sponsored by the state extension program.  So how does a trip to a vineyard factor into the class?  Learning about grapes, silly.

Do you know why roses are planted at the ends of rows?  Did you know that some vines grow upright while others have to be clipped and trained? Were you aware that a grape begins fermenting as soon as it is picked?  Are grapes still picked by hand or by machine?

Don't know why Sanderson decided to turn to grapes but he went all out.  Went to Napa Valley and studied a bit. Brought some folks from the Valley to look at his operation and got their seal of approval.  With the help of a grant, he was off to the races. They turned the family-owned building in the downtown area into a wine-making and storage facility.  They sell the grapes they can't use to folks like Kix Brooks (of Brooks and Dunn fame), who has a winery in the Nashville area, as well as peaches and strawberries they won't use.

We tasted the fruit of the vines before we went out into the vineyard. They make a white wine using the Niagara grapes found in the New York wine region which was good. The red muscadine was awesome; didn't care as much for the white Muscadine. Personal opinion  The peach and the strawberry wines I would serve at a party. Good but not what I want  to
drink regularly.

Came home with an assortment to savor.  Why so many?  TN does not allow wineries to place their goods directly into stores.  Must use a broker. Therefore, White Squirrel may or may not be in a store near me.  And. Sistah Girl is not driving that distance for a bottle of wine. Of course, you can take my assessment and order through their online store. Or, you can take a trip to northwest TN and buy it yourself.

Great place to visit.  Might make their Fall celebration.  We'll see. Oh, roses are planted at the end of the rows because they attract the same diseases as grapes. Rather than inspect each vine, the growers can check the rose bush see what needs to be done to the vines in that row. Fascinating.

My Crop

One squash and six peppers.  However, there are tomatoes coming on the plants; the eggplant is flowering and the herbs are doing well.  We'll see what happens with the watermelon plant. And there's a blueberry plant and a strawberry plant.  Oh, I forgot the carrots. 

This Master Gardener Intern doesn't have what it takes.

February 10, 2018

Eleven Years

Yes, it has been a couple of years since I checked in but this is a special occasion and needs to be noted.  Yes, you've probably lost interest but I am going to post this just the same.

Eleven YEARS!  Can you believe it? I left my hometown, my place of birth, on April 30, 2007. I arrived in Memphis, TN, on May 1, 2007. I moved into Serendipity at the end of May 2007.  What a tale I have to tell.

Some days I feel as if I am pioneer woman or exile moving to a strange land. I've seen wildlife that I've only seen in the zoo.  A hawk with a wing span the width of my outstretched arms made an aborted landing in the backyard, leaving his prey behind.  Nope, I didn't try to see what the poor thing was.  I made my way to the backdoor lickety split.  He didn't return but a turkey buzzard did and proceeded to devour whatever it was.

I've had fox cubs, spent a fortune on having the groundhog family removed, possums, snakes, the largest spiders you ever saw, an invasion of lady bugs, the smallest ants in the world, you name it and they have come through Serendipity at least once.

Repairs are still underway but you wouldn't recognize the place. And just as I thought I was done, I found that the back porch, mudroom, whatever, must be replaced.  Damn.

Still raising hell as needed. Taking the Master Gardener's class. We'll see if I learn when to harvest a zucchini.

That's it for the moment.  You pray for me; I'll pray for you.

Take care.