Long Man: A Novel

I wanted to feature Amy Greene’s latest novel #1 because she is an East Tennessee local author, #2 because she writes so beautifully about this region, and #3 her stories are so real they will have you googling for more information to unearth the fiction from the truth.

Long Man is set in 1930’s East Tennessee, during the height of TVA’s progress building dams and bringing electricity and modernity to many rural parts of Tennessee. The fictional town of Yuneetah rings like Loyston, a real town that was uprooted during the creation of Norris Dam. The book centers around a family whose little girl goes missing in a bad storm, just moments before they are set to evacuate and the flood waters are rising. She uses those family members and extended family, a drifter returning to the area, many townspeople, and TVA representatives to paint this picture of a town on the brink of extinction and the indecision in the face of the unknown.

Greene perfectly captures the pride of these impoverished people and the Cherokee influence on the region. Through the voice of Ellard Moody, the town sheriff who is investigating the lost child, her description of how he plans to move forward and what he wants to remember of the town of Yuneetah rang so beautifully true to me. She writes that he wants to remember “how a fresh crewelwork of snow dressed even the dustiest of their farmyards. How leaves shaped like hands of their babies sailed and turned on the eddies of the river. How an open meadow sounded when they stood still. How ripe plums tasted then they closed their eyes. How cucumbers smelled like summer. How lightning bugs made lanterns of their cupped palms. How it felt to come in from the cold to where a fire was built. These things they hadn’t lost. But, like Ellard, they had grown too weary to see them anymore.”

The narrator in the audio version has a Southern raspy accent, and it helped shape the story at first, but I grew frustrated near the end because it felt too slow. Just as TVA wanted to ignore the voices of the town of Yuneetah in the name of progress, I too wanted to see progress in the narrator’s accent. I ended up returning the audio version and getting the actual library copy so I could read faster.  If you like reading about East Tennessee, both Amy Greene’s Long Man and Bloodroot are excellent books to add to your reading list.

Snapshots

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(Clockwise) Early morning run around Downtown Nashville, Wildfire damage around the Bud Ogle cabin area in the Great Smoky Mountains, Daffodils blooming in Metcalf Bottoms, Hyacinths coming up around our local library and park

Extend this Season of Giving

I felt the urge to give this holiday season, possibly more than in my entire life. Some seasons are like that, more forgiving or more selfish, more giving or taking.

Whether trying to build a better relationship for the kids by modeling a good sibling relationships, or just being kind and serving others, my husband and I have decided this year we will try to “walk the talk”.

Here’s how we plan to extend this season of giving for our family:

Food: Food ministry is very important to me. Food is my love language and it pains me like no other to think that someone doesn’t have this basic need. In our area, we have the FISH ministry, KARM, and Second Harvest among so many others. All need donations and volunteers.

Clothing: Oh we are blessed. And so very blessed in particular with clothing. Hats, gloves, and coats are in short supply and I try to find a place to donate that distributes them rather than resells them. Our local elementary school is having a coat drive in January that we will participate in.

Shelter: Our area took a major hit this fall with wildfires. Gatlinburg is taking volunteers to clean up burnt structures and to help the distribution centers with all the many donations for those displaced. You can sign up for shifts at volunteerETN.org . Our church also works with Habitat for Humanity to help build a home for someone, and Blitz Day is coming up soon.

Animals: We rescued a dog two years ago through a local small breed rescue organization, and we joke that we won the dog lottery. He was fostered with love, and screened to be good with children so we knew he would be a good fit for our family. There are so many rescue organizations and shelters that need money to buy food and vet care for the animals, and volunteer help to care for them. I’m not sure my husband will be up for another dog to foster, but we might create a service project for the girls that involves volunteering to walk and play with shelter dogs.

Prayers: Sometimes both time and money run short, but we can pray for those who have dedicated their lives to helping the needy, lonely, displaced, and hurt.

Our church is our main partner in finding ways to serve. Although a church sometimes makes it easiest to plug into service opportunities, discovering the needs of your local community might be as simple as asking your school principal, or googling “volunteer opportunities in Your City”.

Best wishes to everyone for a kinder 2017.

A Special Visitor

Hello there! My name is Rudy the Christmas Elf, and I visit this family every Christmas season. This is a very busy week for them, so I wanted to guest post with some of the gift-giving that I am seeing and hearing around their house.

Give

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Looks like Stephanie finished the map that she is going to give her dad for their lake house. A thoughtful gift does always make a good gift. Especially a thoughtful gift that answers the location question that her dad gets from every new visitor at the lake.

Eat

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These are Stephanie’s favorite indulgence. And if you are in Knoxville, stop by the French Market to grab some real ones. But decorating the tree with these is sugary perfection.

Get

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Stephanie loves stoneware and these beautiful tumblers are perfect for some evening hot chocolate. Or wine. But I prefer the chocolate.

Knit

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I saw Stephanie reading this one early this morning. I am pretty sure she would knit this for herself if she ever found the focus (and the yarn!) to complete so large a project.

Listen

Stephanie listened to this podcast this week while she made cookies for her cookie exchange with her friends. It was hard to take my mind off those cookies she was baking, but… Emmanuel, fully God and fully human. It’s mind-blowing.

Sweet wishes for a Merry Christmas,

Rudy

 

 

Forest Floor

hat

I literally finished this hat as we were pulling into the parking lot to camp at Big South Fork and it was wonderful and timely because those nights were quite chilly. The yarn is my absolute favorite for hats. It is so soft to knit and even softer to wear. Just be careful, it felts easily. My last favorite hat met that fate when it was stuffed into a jacket pocket and washed/dried.

Pattern: Forest Floor, Never Not Knitting

Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted

twin-arches

Our group hiked to Twin Arches and the view was wonderful. My fearless, animal-loving daughter was especially excited to see another hiker with his pet kinkajou. Crazy, right?

Fall Bucket List

The beginning of fall is officially September 22nd, and after the hot summer we had, I’m wishing I had a fast-forward button. Here’s where my mind is:

  • Camping – backyard campout or taking the tent to a real campground
  • Family Hike –  so blessed to have this practically in our backyard to see the beautiful fall colors
  • Football – Go Vols!
  • Apple Cider – How much is too much? Because I might be toeing the line.

go-vols