Someday in Tennessee

This week a crew from school will be heading to Tennessee to complete in the DI (Destination Imagination) Global competition.  I’ve been trying to think of fun things for them to do, and it has made me long for the day that I get to share East Tennessee with my family.

Someday, I am going to take my girls to the Knoxville Zoo.  I can’t wait to pay for those overpriced day tickets.  I will watch with delight as they squeal with glee over the gorillas and the bears.  I will shiver as they discover snakes through the windows of the reptile observatory.  And I will shell out the big bucks for zoo treats and souvenirs that will I will one day regret buying when I pick it up off the floor.

Someday, I am going to wake my husband up early and stop for coffee at an all-night Pilot service station as we drive up to the Smokies to watch the sun rise.  I won’t know where we are going, but my “map” will be the road.  Up will always be the choice–until we reach the perfect place to park the car and see the sun peek out over the trees as the hills come to life.  (I will probably end up singing some cheesy song from a musical or recite “Tennessee Sunrise” much to his dismay.)

Someday, we are going to be tourists in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  We are going to play mini-golf, and ride all the rides at Dollywood.  We are going to spend way too much money on those tickets, unless some niece or nephew happens to be working there at the time… (hint hint)  We are going to eat funnel cakes and sing along to all my favorite Dolly songs.  I am going to tell my family all about Dolly, and how she is my hero for never forgetting where she came from after she left (but more importantly, for all her work with the Imagination Library… #literacystartsyoung, afterall…)

Someday, we are going to drive down to Cardins and eat hotdogs, cheeseburgers, and drink milkshakes.  I am going to tell stories about my Mamaw, and how we would buy hotdogs on the way home from Wednesday night bible study.  We will fill up on fries AND onion rings, because if you are going to “do Cardins,” you might as well live it up.

Someday, we will go watch a drive-in double feature.  We will stock up on treats at the gas station, then back in to a spot so that we can sit in the back of the truck together on piles of blankets.  We will let the girls go to sleep late that night, and will surely regret it the next day.

Someday in Tennessee, we will get together with our friends on Fourth of July, eat tacos, and shoot fireworks.  We will swat hands that sneak black olives, and will tease each other over how much eating has happened, and we will watch the new generation of kids catch fireflies before dark.

Someday, we will sit on the porch in a summer thunderstorm and watch the waterfall created by the warm rain.  We will read aloud something appropriate for summer storms–something that will make us giggle with delight.

Someday, we will pack up a cooler, and take off for the lake.  We will slather on sunscreen and squish our toes into some Tennessee mud.  Then we will drink sweet tea with our friends as we reminisce about when we were young while enjoying all the babies playing together.

Someday in Tennessee, my sisters and I will stay up late and snuggle together on the couches.  We will laugh and tickle each other like we did when we were young.  We will inevitably ruin that fun time by fighting over something stupid.  Then, we will make up by singing old hymns together at the piano while mama cries because her “babies” are together in harmony.

Someday, we will load up the kids and the bikes and head up to Cades Cove.  We will take lots of water and a picnic lunch to share.  After 11 miles of hilly countryside and kids complaining, we will head back down the mountain to sleepy snores in the backseat.

Some Saturday morning, Mama and I will get up earlier than everyone else and make biscuits and gravy.  We will work together to fry up enough sausage and bologna to feed a small army.  She will make the lightest biscuits ever tasted, and I will stir together some gravy–thinking about Mamaw and her methods.  We will slice some Grainger County tomatoes, and fill up glasses with sweet tea.  After calling everyone to breakfast, we will bully someone else into doing the dishes (but will probably end up doing them ourselves later…)

Some summer day, we will drive up to the farm stands and buy bushels of tomatoes, peppers, and sweet corn.  We will wash and sterilize mason jars that will later be filled with chow-chow, stewed tomatoes, and maybe some strawberry jam.  We will listen to the “pops” of success while warning everyone around to leave them alone.

Someday, we will pack up, and drive 20 minutes down the road to convention.  We will wake up early and help with breakfast.  We will stay up late and drink hot cocoa while eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  We will soak in the heavenly rain and fill up on spiritual food–and we will relish in the fellowship with sweet forever friends.  We will leave that oasis with new purpose for the next year, and promises to keep in touch that will go forgotten until the next spring.

Someday in Tennessee, we will wake up and check to see if school is out because of the flurries that were predicted.  We might get lucky enough to make snow cream and build a snowman.  We will regret having not bought a sled, but we will improvise with garbage bags and clothes-baskets.  We will eat too much, sleep too much, and play until we are frozen solid.  Then we will sit in front of the fire, and thaw out with soggy socks and gloves all around us.

Someday, my family and I will enjoy all that I miss about Tennessee.  But that day isn’t today, this summer, or this year.  So until then, I will make my plans for someday…

 

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How To Beat The Homesick Blues

“I’ll be home for Christmas…” has been running through my head on a repeat-cycle.  Of course, I won’t be “home” for Christmas.  Actually, to be honest, I don’t even really know where I consider home to be anymore.

  • Option One:  It could be my Tennessee house.  That’s where I go now when I get vacation time.  It’s the same home that I spent the majority of my childhood in–so it has good memories.  It’s where the family meets, where my things are stored, etc.
  • Option Two:  It could be Northern Virginia.  I was there for three years–the longest I’ve ever lived and worked in one place after graduation.  That’s where many of my friends are–as well as part of my family.  I equally feel the need to go there on vacation.
  • Option Three:  Or maybe it’s true that “home is where the heart is.”  If that’s the case, then Mexico is my home.  I miss it when I leave.  I can’t imagine living back in the States running the rat race.  I tell people that I must have a Mexican heart–because I sure do love the life and the people here.

In any case, today home is with my family.  I love my sweet family here–but between Skyping with my sisters and seeing pictures of my Mama with my nephews, I’ve come down with a bad case of the Homesick Blues.  The homesick blues are what happens when you start yearning for things that you can’t have.  I’m not one to stay blue too long, and between Ale and Victor that’s hard to do anyway.

This is today’s cure-all recipe for all that ails you (if what ails you is the Homesick Blues):

  • 1 pot of Chicken and Dumplings
  • 1 pitcher of Sweet Tea
  • something Chocolate

It works, I tell ya!

I remember watching Mamaw make Chicken and Dumplings.  She would use the whole chicken–complete with bones for better flavor.  Sometimes all the bones didn’t get removed, and that made eating a chore.  This is how I made Chicken and Dumplings today:

  1. Boil chicken in a big pot of water with a generous amount of ground pepper and a pinch of salt.
  2. After the chicken is cooked, pull it apart with a fork to shredded pieces.  Allow this to keep cooking in the water.
  3. While Chicken is boiling, make biscuits:  2 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup butter or shortening, 3/4 cup of buttermilk.  Mix dry ingredients.  Add butter and cut it with a fork until it is in pea-size pieces.  Add milk and mix–but not too much!  Turn out onto floured surface.  Pat down until your husband walks by and asks if you’re making pizza.
  4.  Give him a lesson on how to properly say dumplin’.  “Dump-lynn.  No, Dump… now lynn.”  Give up on that–but don’t give up on those biscuits!  (The secret is to not mess with them too much…)
  5. Slice the dumplings into strips and drop them into the boiling water.  They will sink–then start floating!
  6. Allow this to cook on medium heat until the dumplings are cooked.  You will end up with a nice gravy broth from the flour in the biscuits.
  7. Add mixed veggies like peas, carrots, corn, etc.  (Mamaw didn’t do this–but it makes me feel better about eating biscuit soup…)
  8. Feed your family hearty bowls of chicken and dumplings–but puree some until it looks disgusting for your baby.  (It just looks that way–it’s actually still delicious!)
  9. Serve with a tall glass of ice tea…sweet, of course!

That’s it!  That’s all you have to do to feel better–and less blue!  Well, it doesn’t cure it completely, but at least you won’t be hungry and blue!