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Dateline: Monteagle, July 4 edition

Dear Kay,
It’s 5:07 am, and I was awakened by the racket of every bird on this mountain. I was lying in bed, minding my own business, when this one really naggy-sounding bird let it fly from what sounded like two feet away from my head. Now, it wasn’t in the room as I had thought as I woke up thinking Bird In My Room, but it woke me up so thoroughly that now I am in deviled egg mode. I need to get deviled eggs ready before lunchtime. I gotta start boiling at some point soon. And now that I am 100% completely AWAKE, I’m wondering if sweet relish is really the awesome, crucial ingredient that my deviled egg consultant says it is.
I’ll give you a report back. Somehow, I’m thinking that dill would be the ticket, but there is no dill up here in Grundy County that I can find.
I’m sorry to have been such a sorry correspondent this summer. Somebody ought to write a Balky Computer blog entry, just a generic wail, so that we could all simply link to it when we each have our inevitable reckoning with The Apple Guy On The Other End Of The Phone. It’s boring to write about, so I won’t, but I’m surprised at how frustrating it has been. Do I actually care that much about having my laptop during the summer? Yes, it turns out, I do! How can I live in the real world if I don’t have my little parallel world where all the knitters are?
One Problem Solved
One blogbustin’ problem has been my lack of camera. Which means I can’t show you what I’ve been knitting. Now that I have my computer back, with a new, blank operating system, I just discovered that one of David’s friend’s iPhone pictures somehow mysteriously landed in my computer, so I’ll share some of those with you.
1. (up top) Who is this kid? What are you doing in my computer?
2. Dog on the verge of eating a styrofoam cup.
3. Blurry rock, probably taken on a nature hike. Possible weird bug in there somewhere that prompted the photo.
4. Trooper guy at Safety Day here at the Assembly. The Upside Down Car Demonstration was actually great: it spins around and around and throws out the dummy who didn’t have his seat belt fastened.
What Has Been Going On
We’ve been in Monteagle for almost three weeks now, at our shack in the woods, and it’s going well enough up here. I have a job this summer, president of the Woman’s Association, which means that when my phone rings, which it never did up here before I was assigned this job, it could be absolutely anybody in the whole Assembly, asking any sort of question having to do with the Woman’s Association. It makes me feel very popular and important, even if I don’t really know where to get a Grundy County Vendor Certificate for the woman’s bazaar in three weeks. Or where we should keep the leftover fabric for the new porch cushions for the Woman’s Association library.
I spent one day trying to make sense of the collection of books in the Woman’s Association library. They were sorted Hardback and Paperback. Which meant if you were looking for a Judith Krantz novel (of which we have four, including Scruples Two which is no Scruples, let me tell you), you’d need to check in two places. In the interest of making it easier to find your next Phyllis Whitney (of which we have eleventy four billion), I blew up the library and sorted all the books on the floor by author. I went totally OCD on this project, into a tunnel-like zone, and emerged with all the fiction in alphabetical order. There was, of course, a Thorn Birds in the edition I read back when it was published, and all the John le Carrés my mom loved. It’s pretty much a museum of the ’70s, kind of dispiriting if you ever think it would be fun to write a novel. Such a graveyard!
The Shack of Usher
It’s 5:40 now, and there it is: the morning tapping sound. Somewhere in the walls, every single morning, I hear an irregular tapping sound: tap, tap . . . tap tap . . . tap tap tap, followed by a brief sound like small claws scratching up a wall. It happens only in the morning, in a part of the house I can’t pin down. It really does feel like a Poe story. And NO, I did not wall my sister Buffy up in the kitchen or anything, I promise.
Anyway, sorry to ramble. Off to boil eggs. Happy fourth of July, everybody! I’m feeling very tender about the U.S. of A., feeling grateful for all the freedoms I tend to take for granted. Go read the news these days, and it’ll make you appreciate how lucky we actually are. Even if we do have unidentified and creepy tapping in the walls. And no dill.




  1. Glad to have you back at the blog!
    May I suggest finely diced, sauteed-to-the-point-of-caramelized onions in your deviled eggs? Just a 1/4 cup or so in a dozen eggs offers an unexpected sweetness.
    Happy Fourth!

  2. Sneak around in people’s home gardens and you’ll probably find some dill. But then, you might spend the 4th of July in a cell, so maybe not.

  3. Ann, poor baby, it’s not relish and it’s NOT dill (heavens!), it’s (are you ready, now?): mustard. Got it?
    Somehow I had no idea that you were dealing with all of this, what with the new job and no computer and all, but I can tell you one thing, for sure. That sound that you hear only in the morning, is from a nocturnal animal who’s currently in the military, I guarantee. Why else would he be playing Taps?
    Ditto about feeling grateful for all of our freedoms–you gave me goosebumps, Ann.
    P.S. GREAT blog pictures! I know that boy; he’s the one who’s mom forgot the mustard in the deviled eggs…

  4. Ann, poor baby, it’s not relish and it’s NOT dill (heavens!), it’s (are you ready, now?): mustard. Got it?
    Somehow I had no idea that you were dealing with all of this, what with the new job and no computer and all, but I can tell you one thing, for sure. That sound that you hear only in the morning, is from a nocturnal animal who’s currently in the military, I guarantee. Why else would he be playing Taps?
    Ditto about feeling grateful for all of our freedoms–you gave me goosebumps, Ann.
    P.S. GREAT blog pictures! I know that boy; he’s the one who’s mom forgot the mustard in the deviled eggs…

  5. Diane is right you can use mustard (I usually go with the relish AND mustard, deviled eggs as hot dogs!)OR if you are feeling very deviled egg adventurous, curry is good too! But I am thinking that might be even harder to find than dill.
    (Depending on your weather, dill is probably done til fall, it’s like lettuce, so skip the backyard pilfering.)
    The library gave me heebie jeebies, and as a librarian I am itching to send you the Dewey decimal categories for your non-fiction, but I will refrain.
    The noise in your wall is some nocturnal critter coming home to bed. I won’t speculate.

  6. Perhaps you mean dill relish? I swear by it, put it in tuna salad, potato salad, chicken salad, and, definitely, deviled eggs. I quit using sweet relish years ago.

  7. Deviled eggs: Curry all the way. Best ever!
    Tap, tap, scritch, scritch: Woodpeckers. Ask me how I know, and how much I like my new woodpecker proof siding.
    Happy 4th!

  8. From a place where the 4th means nothing, Happy Day. I think we stopped thinking about you all round about the 5th, seeing as we were so cruel and heartless…..
    And from the land where curry (ok, Chicken Tikka Masala) is the national dish, I have to say it HAS to be curry with the eggs. It’s the only way to devil, you know! And dill is overrated, in my not-at-all-humble opinion.
    Is it Hubbo in the wall? A Boy? Could be Eugene from the X Files. (that one scared me to death. Had to go to bed with the lights on)
    B x x x

  9. Mustard and relish are required for July 4th. Curry, etc. are lovely for a ladies luncheon, but you’re talking Fourth. Of. July! Ignore unexplained noises, you’ll be happier that way. Love the opening pic.

  10. I second the woodpecker.

  11. I second the woodpecker.

  12. I love the library story. You should really have set the kids on it though. Maybe they could do the non-fiction (I bet you have Chariots of the Gods, and that one about how you should talk to your plants). Any good macrame books?
    Now, who can tell this Canadian what actually happened on the fourth of July?

  13. I’m so glad you’re back! That must have been hard to live without a laptop. The library situation would’ve really bothered me too. Happy Independence Day!

  14. Yep, a woodpecker. We have some pecked-out bits on our brand-new cedar siding, darn.
    I’d prefer sweet pickle relish in my deviled eggs, but the other suggestions sound good, too.
    As an occasion former librarian, I would have been right there on the floor with you, alphabetizing as fast as my little hands could grab books. When you get to the nonfiction, go with the Dewey system, not the Library of Congress. Tradition and all…
    Happy Fourth!

  15. Mmmm, mustard AND sweet relish in the deviled eggs. Although curry sounds intriguing, but not with the aforementioned mustard and relish. I’ll get kid2 on it; he likes making deviled eggs.
    I love your description of the library. Sounds like my teen reading. Thorn Birds? Rocked! And they’re not dead; they’re zombies, and someone may read them from the Woman’s Association library, honest.
    The tapping? It’s that kid from the first picture…

  16. happy fourth
    we declared our selves free of
    england after our war of freedom
    the declaration of independence
    was written and we had fireworks
    liberty bells boston tea party
    pauls reveres ride the british
    are comeing itwas a time we grew up
    and rolled the dice for we
    wanted be free happy fourth

  17. Do you have chimneys? If so, the noise might be a bird which has flown down the chimney and now can’t get back out.
    For my personal deviled eggs, I only use mustard, mayo, salt and pepper. Might have to make some today.

  18. I use mustard and chili powder in my reviled eggs. The kids might not love it, but the adults will (though curry is great too) in my last rental apartment, the morning wall scratchers were mice, so I hope woodpeckers is what you have! Happy 4th.

  19. Deviled eggs with whatever spice we relish may be in the Bill or Rights – I’ll have to go check.

  20. Dill relish & dry mustard, as handed down from my grandmother through my mother: they’ve been the secret ingredients in deviled eggs on the 4th of July for over 100 years in my family.
    Happy Holidays, everyone!

  21. Welcome back! So glad your tin shack is providing all the requisite summertime adventures, including waking at dawn with the loud birds, creatures in/on your walls, and deviled eggs. I highly recommend the mustard, dry or prepared (in the jar is what i mean). Curry or some cumin can also be great, and I will have to try the caramelized onions, because if I had time to put them in every single dish I make (except sweets, but then again, balsamic vinegar on ice cream– why not caramelized onions?), I would. But the chopping, the cooking, the stirring to prevent burning– what is this, a cooking show, or my real life?
    Glad my real life includes all of you, this fabulous blog, and the freedom to complain about our precious computers betraying us (my hard drive died beyond retrieval a few weeks ago, with a lot of schoolwork I had not backed up properly—uuugghhhh). Yay for devilled eggsa and the Fourth of July! Yay for rolling the dice of freedom!

  22. just a little dab ‘o grey poupon….so “devilish”, really.

  23. I love that description of the blogosphere – “parallel world where all the knitters are”. Sums it up perfectly!

  24. I celebrated by exercising my freedom to make applique quilts that tick people off.
    Love that crazy kid (photo 1)!
    xoxox Kay

  25. Yay, Kay! Keep ticking!

  26. I am *so* with you on the Scruples Two thing. Blech.
    Dry mustard, and a dash of celery salt; then your usual mayo, pipe it into the wee shells, and dust with paprika.
    Ready to start a deviled egg cookbook now?
    Oh, yes, also with you on the whole USA tenderness feeling, too – it’s a blessed thing.

  27. I wonder how many eggs are boiling around the blogsophere now, in preparation for being devilled? My vote? A touch of mustard (Yeah, I like the Dijon) and sweet relish! I don’t know if it’s necessarily the best, but it is….TRADITION! (bring up theme from “Fiddler on the Roof”) Now I have to make mine. Devilled eggs. Oooh yeah.

  28. I had such a rush of nostalgia! I’m a certifiable old broad now but when I was a kid we used to spend about 3 weeks in Monteagle. I remember every sound (of which there are many) and smell so vividly. Most of all I remember the little ham biscuits from the restaurant that was up at the top of the heap.
    I drove through about a two years ago and so much had changed. Now mind you, it is still a little slice of rural heaven but the years in between then and now had worked their magic. Even in rural America it is possible to see how “progress” has marched on!
    Enjoy it…. and more photos, please!


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