Before anything else, let me ask for your help. My father-in-law has not been well at all, and doctors are in the process of nailing down the problem. Prayers for strength and healing are greatly appreciated. Being former Special Forces, he knows how to kick butt, so I’m betting on him…and God!

THE COOLER WEATHER IS HERE!!!! Yes, I am yelling and jumping up and down. Last night it dropped to 35 degrees and is in the 60s today. That just makes me happy, happy, happy! Now the bad news…our winter clothes are buried in storage. I’m not going to grouse about it though, because I’d much rather be cold than hot! We will make do with the handful of long-sleeve shirts we have and our light jackets and be content.

Since early October, with the exception of a side trip to North Georgia to help clean out Windover (more about that in a minute), we have been hanging out in Tennessee doing a LOT of waiting. One of the issues with building in a very rural location is the lack of vendors. This happened when my parents built her house in Rockmart, Georgia, too. In Sneedville, if you ask what builder you should use, everyone answers with the same name. That also applies to an electrician, a plumber, a grader, and almost any other trade you can think of. As a result, those people are VERY busy causing delays at various stages of construction while you wait for their schedules to clear. For example, we’ve been ready for wall board for more than a week (and really could have been ready a week or two before if pushed), but that crew can’t get here until next Monday. We waited for weeks for the grader to have time to come finish up the hillside and work on the pond. He finally showed up last week, but is still not finished because he is pulling time from another large job to come here. On and on it goes, leaving us very frustrated. We try to stay upbeat, but some days that is SUCH a chore! On the upside, we have managed to gather most of the stuff we need to work on the apartment when they do finish their part. (We are going to paint, install the cabinets and countertops, lay flooring, etc., ourselves.)

Another positive thing about spending time here is just really spending time here: sitting outside in the mornings watching the deer in the field; talking to the cows when we take our walks (They haven’t decided whether I’m crazy yet, but I really do it for MW’s benefit. In all fairness, he claims to know how to speak Chickadee, so what can he really say??!!); attending the Hancock County Fall Festival, including the old time gospel singing (great!); running into a neighbor and sitting down at Hardees for an impromptu visit; finding Maypops growing wild up on the hillside; sleeping with the windows open and hearing no cars, but all manner of night birds and other animals; finding a random crawdad walking across the gravel nowhere near the creek; and enjoying the gorgeous scenery everywhere we go. We have truly been enjoying the community and the peace this little valley offers.

A little more about the Fall Festival: I’m pretty sure everyone in town showed up, and for a tiny place it was a pretty nice little fair. There was a bluegrass gospel group playing some of the time, and the old gospel singing that I mentioned earlier was nice. They also had some fair food, including pretty darned good grilled chicken plates. My favorite part, though, was the tractor parade. Here is a sample, but there were a LOT more.

We also changed up our seating in Petunia. She originally came with a triple theater couch and a double couch. (The table option was one of those giant booths, and we didn’t want to waste all that space.). The smaller couch folded out into a bed, BUT my BFF Tina said it was REALLY TERRIBLE! Since she is the only one who has slept there thus far, she is the expert. Truly, it didn’t even look comfortable when you folded it out. In our original RV search, I wanted a small table and chairs so that we would have room to play games, do a puzzle, or eat inside. I also wanted a place for someone to sleep if we needed it. So, I found a pretty solid little table and a nice air mattress at Amazon, then purchased a bench storage ottoman and a single storage ottoman from Target. That gives us the table and seating AND a bed, AND storage for the bed plus a few other things. Win, win, win! Here is the result:

As I mentioned earlier, we did take a quick trip to Georgia. My mother-in-law sold her mountain house (Windover) near Helen. We headed down to pick up some furniture and help her clean out to prepare for the closing. It was a good visit, but bittersweet with more than a few tears. Windover was Art Jones’ (MW’s dad) favorite place. He spent most of his life coming to the Sautee-Nacoochee valley, first at Sautee Manor (his step-mother’s family home) and later at Windover. Construction finished in 1993, which is both the year MW and I were married and the year my Mom’s house was finished. Homes become a part of us. Our memories are not only filled with the people, but the backdrop. (I once read a book called A Wayside Tavern that illustrated this very well. A roadside inn was the main character, and the story was about its life. It was very good.) Windover has been witness to countless family visits, a couple of our anniversary trips, quick weekends with friends, and many other occasions. One of the most special visits was the last with Art, just a few weeks before he died. All of his boys were there, as were laughter and tears, sadness, and joy. We all knew what was coming, but spending those few days watching him take in those mountains made it a little more bearable. As when we sold our house in North Carolina, we will miss this place and mourn it’s loss.

One extra picture from Georgia…while there we went out to eat several times (mainly because everything in the house was either packed up or being packed up). One night we went to Catch 22 in Helen. We’ve been to this place a couple of times before with the Florida Jones crew, and it has never disappointed. They have amazing burgers, Brussels sprouts, well, seriously everything we’ve ever eaten. This time I decided I wanted a hot dog. Theirs comes with pimento cheese and candied jalapeños. (Yes, Jennifer, I’m developing a taste for pimento cheese!). It was delicious, but I only ate about 1/3 of it. I just had to share a picture with you guys.

Today we are headed out to spend a few days visiting the kids and Boogers and my BFF Tina. I’m pretty excited to see them all! I’ll leave you with a couple of RV pics that make you go hmmmmmm. The first two are of a little park on the lake on the way to Morristown. The last is between Sneedville and Kyle’s Ford on the Clinch River.

See you on the road!


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