Monday, January 26, 2009

We're Not Hillbillies, We're Appalachian Americans

I love living in East Tennessee. Anything you want to see, you can. Some days, I love the modern city that I live in with all it's modern conveniences and way of thinking. Other days, I think I might really be in Mayberry, expecting Ernest T. Bass to throw a rock through the window at any minute.

I love the traditional ways of our mountains. It really is one of my favorite things about living here. The old way of life is getting harder and harder to find but it's still there if you know where to look and how to ask nicely. These are proud people who live the way they do by choice. They are resourceful and resilient and most of them are characters.

Meet Popcorn Sutton. He is the most famous moonshiner in the Smoky Mountains and it is said that he makes the best moonshine in the country. There are people that know. There are festivals. He is famous. And now he is in jail.

You have to understand . . . Popcorn works hard and makes very safe, very good illegal alcohol. He doesn't have any patience for those shiners that try to do it cheaply or for the quick money. They can kill themselves taking shortcuts with their equipment or they can kill the customer with careless preparation of their product. He will have none of it. He only sells quality. He makes custom made stills for others and they are exceptional. Who knew there was a market for custom made moonshine stills? And as stated by many . . . he makes excellent moonshine.

Popcorn lives in Tennessee but spends most of his time in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, just across the mountain from where he lives. Most people just say he is from Maggie Valley since that's where he operates. He rides the streets in a Model T Ford with a still on the back. He asks for cash to have his picture made. He will sell you a copy of his book "Me and My Likker". Oh yeah, and he will sell you some moonshine. He brings a lot of tourism into Maggie Valley. Stores and restaurants advertise they are "The Home of Popcorn Sutton". The law is . . . ummmm . . . understanding.

Popcorn was arrested again last year. You see, every now and then, the ATF comes calling. He has been arrested before. There is just something about selling your book and making an instructional video on making moonshine that just ticks off the ATF. But this time, it looks like it's going to stick. He is supposed to be sentenced today for possibly 15 years and fined half a million dollars. He is not a young man.

There is a Free Popcorn movement afoot. People point out that rapists and pedophiles serve less time in prison. Those convicted of making crystal meth serve far less time. Some suggest the government should set him free, set him up in a lab, and let him work on fuel additives. I have to say that things are a little messed up.

Popcorn is a part of the history of these mountains and a way of life that is slowly disappearing. Some say that's good. I will miss it. It's a little discussed fact in my mother's family that her father served a short time in prison for moonshining before she was born. He was a good man, a poor man trying to feed his family as a farmer and coming up short. Popcorn is a business man. A pretty good one. I hope he gets to do business again one day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fat-shionista Update

I have been having so much fun with this Fat-shionista group. Fat girls love clothes too. In a recent blog post, I shared that I would be trying to spiff up my wardrobe and get out of that boring black and brown thing I've had going on. I'm still using the black and brown but changing it up a little bit.

Spiffiness does not have to cost money. Well, not a lot at least. I like to have some good quality basics and I tend to spend a little more for those pieces. I love Talbot's Woman because their clothes are good quality, they fit well, and almost everything can be thrown in the washer and dryer. Those peices hold up well and last for several years. And I hate spending money on dry cleaning. Why buy a beautiful dress on sale then spend more on dry cleaning than you spent on the dress??? But I digress.

I decided that my best bet would be to spiff up using accessories. I love belts and have many. I bought some very inexpensive jewelry at a local department store that is going out of business - chunky colorful necklaces for $3 and $4. I found some scarves that were bright colored and made me happy. And straight up cheap little shoes, $4, $8, and $11.99 . . . gotta love that.

As a member of the Fatshionista group on Flickr, you take photos of your various outfits and then describe each peice, telling where you got each one. That way, other fat girls hear of stores, both online and brick and mortar, that carry plus sizes. It also gives some inspiration and ideas for getting outside the box and trying something new.

Now . . . some of those outfits will never be found on this fat girl. They are a little too far outside my small, very compact box. But I have tried a lot of new things. I bought some boots and colored tights. I tried footless tights with ballet slippers and a dress. I quit worrying if something didn't exactly match.

These are not groundbreaking ideas. This is not really even important. We have a cease fire in Isreal and Gaza. That is important. This week, we have an exciting new president. That is important. There is a feeling of hope and of pride in America. My sister, who has never felt proud of her country before for various reasons is swelling with pride. I like that. And it is important because many people in this country feel the same way.

But in my little corner of the world, I feel good. I am having fun. Again, it's that whole thing about feeling good about yourself.

So right now, I feel good about myself. And I am lookin' for some sales, ya'll.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Toilet Paper Tuesday

It's kind of weird how much of my thoughts center on toilet paper. What does that say about me?

One of my first posts on this blog was about toilet paper. And every time I am in a public restroom, I vow that I will write another Toilet Paper Testimonial with more thoughts on giant toilet paper rolls that stick so far out from the wall that they rest on your legs.

I think this recurring theme in my life can be traced back to early high school. Here is a secret alert . . . I was suspended from Gar-field High School for stealing a case of 360 rolls of toilet paper. I would not lie to you. But of course there is an explanation.

Way back in the mid 70's, some friends and I had been practicing to become juvenile delinquents by toilet papering other friends houses. We had gotten pretty good at it. We were on a perpetual hunt for more rolls.

I played on the girls basketball team and my best friend, Luanne, was a cheerleader. At an away game at a rival school, Luanne and I noticed that a closet just outside the locker room had a door that was slightly ajar and inside was the motherload . . . cases and cases of toilet paper!

We formulated a plan. I don't really remember just how we did it but we managed to empty a whole giant case of rolls into our bags and snuck them out to our cars. Then we went out to play the game and cheer, giggling at the thought of our nights of rolling to come.

I'm really not sure how we got caught. All I remember is that we were called to the principal's office the next morning and told how much we had embarrassed our school, how we were stealing (for some reason we never thought we were stealing - go figure), and how we would be calling our parents to tell them we were suspended for a day and not allowed to play or cheer at the next game.

It was all really quite embarrassing. But it helped us realize that we really didn't like being juvenile delinquents. That whole "bad girl" image was a little overrated. And it made people REALLY mad at you.

So I guess Karma has been following me on the toilet paper trail ever since. Now you know.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Step One

As I start down the road towards my 2009 goals (see below), I recognize that the theme seems to be change. Change to my home, change to my clothes, change to my attitude. Change is good.

My Mom used to say she never knew what I was going to do but there was one thing that she knew would be the same . . . that every time she saw me I would have a new hairstyle. She was right, I change my hair a lot.

One of my 3 goals was to become a "Fat-sionista" and to start dressing to my personality. Since it was time for a haircut, it was time for a sassy new do. This hair cut really does fit my personality. My old haircut - the "Posh Spice" wedge style pageboy cut - was one that I liked but I really did it more because it was professional but fun. And practical. And easy. This one will take more time to style and I will definitely have to use more products but it will be fun.

I ordered some fun, colorful scarves, some funky necklaces, and some cute sassy shoes (all on sale) to spice up my basics and raise them out of the boredom basement. I am so bad about looking in my closet and the conversation in my head goes something like this: "Hmmmm, I wish I had another pair of khaki pants, anything goes with khaki. Here are my brown pants. There's a brown shirt. Brown goes with brown. Grab the brown shoes. I guess this will work."

No more. This week I have broken out of the "just try not to look to fat" attitude and added some color. And accessories. It's been fun. And when you feel better about how you look, everything is better.

I am all for things being better.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Slightly On Target

I generally don't make New Year's Resolutions and I am not a goal setter. I know all about goals and how to set them. I have taken several workshops on how to set goals and to break them down into specific, measurable steps. But the thing is . . . I think way too much to use goals as a motivational tool. I try to outsmart my goals. I rationalize my lack of dedication. I change my goals, which really is okay but doesn't do much for reaching them. I just do better if I work on a day to day basis, setting goals for that day only. It's all about the freedom of flexibility.

But lately, I have been assessing my life and doing a lot of thinking about how I want things to go. I spend way too much time thinking about where I am and things I want to do. But I never seem to actually do those things. I'm always gonna do them, I just never seem to get around to it. I need to evolve.

So I am going to write three of them down now and, hopefully, I will be checking them off here over the next year.

1. Redecorate my guest bedroom, den, and bathroom. I have lived in this house for 11 years and this has been one of my plans since I moved in. Something that really reflects my personality. Paint, furniture, curtains, knick-knacks that all have some similarity to each other rather than just stuck there because it didn't go anywhere else in the house. This must be done cheaply and with the help of my son's friend Steven who has a background in interior decorating.

2. Become a "FATshionista". I am so bored with my clothes. Fat girls are limited by choices and my job is a bit limiting but everyone's wardrobe should reflect their personality. Mine says boring mom that buys stuff because it's practical. That is NOT me. So inspired by others, including my Flickr friend, Dyxie, I will dress according to my personality. Once I remember what that is. I'll let you know when I figure it out.

3. I am going to say YES to more things. Have you seen the movie "Yes Man"? I need to say yes more often. I sometimes say I'm busy or avoid a new situation just because . . . I don't know why. Maybe because it's easier to say no than to put myself out there? Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter because I am going to start saying yes.

That's it. I will keep you posted here on how it's going. Evolution coming soon.