If you’re Rhinebeck-bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night–details here.

“Is Ann in Distress?”

Dear Ann,
I had a fab time in Monteagle. You lucky duck, getting to spend time in an old-timey cottage community, Est. 1882. Monteagle out-Bloomsburies Bloomsbury. In Monteagle, the furniture has 12 coats of paint, and busted-out cane seats are cherished. (Friends Don’t Re-Cane Friends.) The slipcovers have slipcovers, and the porches are hung with Sunday painter paintings and signs that say things like “Come Sit on My Porch.” (Which we interpreted as, “Come Over With Four or Five Friends To Take Pictures On My Porch at 7 a.m. When The Light Is Just How You Like It And Please Feel Free to Move Everything Around.”) You know how, when one is styling a picture, one has to scrounge around for “props” like gracefully rotted beadboard? In Monteagle, there is no scrounging. The beadboard flows, like Ro*Tel and white wine at Girls’ Night Out. Monteagle is the place good screen doors go when they die. I’d like to end up there myself, when my last coat of paint wears through.
A snapshot from this idyll: yesterday morning, we lit a fire in the fireplace. (For reasons that cannot be gone into in any detail. Suffice it to say, we felt like having a fire this fine June morning. We’ll do whatever the heck we wanna do! GOSH!) Five minutes into this experiment, the phone rang. I picked it up.
Mellow Gentlemanly Voice (Surely A Regular Ken Burns Narrator): “Why, hello, Ay-ann?”
Me: “No, this is Ann’s houseguest, Kay. Hello.”
MGV: “We noticed smoke coming out of Ann’s chimney and were wondering if she was in distress.”
Me: “No, no! No distress! We just lit a fire—long story. So sorry! We’re fine! Thanks for calling!”
As you know, I’m a little harried, and have a touch of the iron-poor blood, but I couldn’t resist signing up for DISH RAG TAG. Sign ups are limited! Rules are strict! Competition will be as tough as a Brillo pad!
I have until July 6 to take my Knitting Geritol, locate my lace mojo (I know it’s around here somewhere), and sign up for Melanie’s fabulous Mystery Stole Along for 2007. Be the first on your block to knit a brand-new Pink Lemon Twist pattern, and it’s free. Fabbywabby!
Love, Kay
P.S. Back home, I am feeling insufficiently “ma’am”ed. Revel in the ma’aming.




  1. Is “in distress” polite-style talk for “non compass mentos” or “had a few too many pulls on the Booker’s”?

  2. I do love me a good “ma’am.” There is nothing that can soothe a towering motherly temper than a well-timed, meek-voiced “yes ma’am.” Ask me how I know.

  3. Look at those ferns! so lush and green! so beautiful!

  4. Monteagle, Tennessee is DEFINITELY a fabulous place to be ma’amed, and rock the summer away on the porch with a lap full of knitting.

  5. well if you had been out here no one would have thought anything of a fireplace going in the morning it has been cold!! Looks like it will be warming back up this weekend though.

  6. I’ve got houseful of chairs with canes flying off here and there and agree-re-caning is for sissies! and the other day I was in a parking lot and was behind a “creative” driver and said right out loud “gosh! idiots!” I think I need to stop reading your blog, it’s affecting my vocabulary-I’ve never even considered quoting Napolean Dynomite before!

  7. I loved the idea of the Dish Rag Tag, I made her let me and my friends play. We are so going to kick some behind with our pathetic post service! Wanna lend us some of those not-expensive, speedy, reliable USPS people for a while?
    Love the house! I think I could end up there someday. Banjo on my knee and all.

  8. In this area, being ma’am’ed means that one has reached A Certain Age. Sadly, I was recently ma’am’ed by a young whippersnapper of a cashier. It’s like finding your first grey hair (which was so long ago, I can hardly remember!) 🙂

  9. I have my Midwestern-bred-now-being-raised-in-New-England using “ma’am” and “sir”, and have been told it’s been a dead giveaway that I was raised by a Proper Southern Woman. Use of those words also gets them lots of praise for their manners, so there you go.

  10. Okay, Kay!
    I’m feeling a little odd here — last night I signed up for the Dishrag Tag AND the Mystery Stole 3 KAL. (Granted, I put the Dishrag Tag in my comment here yesterday, but NOT MS3!) If I find out that you signed up for the new Yarn Pirate Sock Club yesterday too, I will start to wonder. (I’m guessing I’m safe there, perhaps.)
    Actually, all it means is that we read some of the same blogs, I guess! Not so odd, perhaps. And info moves through the blogosphere with the speed of lightning.
    And, as implied by another commenter or two, I think you should teach your children sir & ma’am. Then you could be ma’am’d as much as you like in the comfort of your own home! All Southern children seem to ingest it with their mother’s milk, and it does give them a delightful air of good manners. “Ma’am” doesn’t make me feel old at all; however, the first time I was called Madame (in a French-speaking part of the world) instead of Mademoiselle, it definitely took me aback. Because “Madame” is what we called the teacher in high school French, who of course seemed ancient. And the last time anyone had addressed me as anything in French, it was as Mademoiselle. [We’ll skip the part about how many years ago that was. Completely irrelevant.] After taking a deep breath, I reminded myself that Madame was perfectly appropriate, in fact de rigueur for a married woman and did not mean I was old.

  11. I’m all for a good “Yes Ma’am,” and “Yes Sir!” Of course I grew up in the South too.
    Thanks so much for the Mystery Stole 3 shoutout! I’m just reeling that it merits a mention on your blog! WooHoo!

  12. The Ministerial Home….that is where the pastor’s get to stay if we do worship in the village for free?
    (This is how my parents could afford vacations when we were little – CA State parks let pastor’s come free if you preached on Sundays. I got to press “play” at Dad’s cue on our battery cassette recorder for the music!)
    What a great picture.

  13. “non compass mentos” is Latin for “I don’t know which way my mints are pointing”. Definitely a valid cause for smoke signals of distress.

  14. Pastors – NOT – Pastor’s
    I need my vacation NoW!

  15. It’s a good thing the dishrag one is closed. Special delivery takes four freaking days up here.I can do a dishrag quick, but not into negative time-space yet.
    The mystery stole? I don’t know.
    I don’t do a lot of ma’ams in my customer service existence, but I do call a certain group of men, “Sir.” It’s almost a secret code – even I’m not sure exactly what it means.

  16. dang! the dish rag tag is closed! it osunds like fun! i’ll have to see if they do it again! can you announce it earlier next tmie, lol? (and no, i can’t type. i’m sunburnt, and sweaty, and have been ‘HUZZAH’ed to death!)

  17. Oh, that’s pretty much normal for Monteagle. At a certain age around there, you transition straight from “missy” (as in “you better get your tail into that car right now, missy”) to “ma’am” (as in “can we help you get your groceries out to the car, ma’am?”, down at the Piggly Wiggly).
    Have you visited the Pig yet? Is the disturbing chicken that clucks and pogos up and down before it spits out your gimcrack ring still there? It must be seen to be believed.

  18. Thanks for the mention of Mystery Stole 3. It gave me just the excuse I needed to buy some Malabrigo laceweight today.

  19. I love how my name becomes Ay-unn when I go south. Beats the nasal one-syllable Eee-an I get up here sometimes.

  20. Ooh! You were taking pictures for the new book, right? Can’t wait to see it!

  21. Only 2nd time looking at you website – and I got a little bit of a surprise on seeing the photo of the “Durris Ministerial Home”. I live in Durris in Scotland and didn’t think we had any “twins”…..

  22. Hey, Ay-ann.(god i love it). Looks like Kay experienced the quintessential Assembly moment. This winter we’ll have to order a truck load of ice and have it delivered and wait for the inevitable call. We can ma’am each uthah whilst we wait. Actually, living one town over from the Assemby, I have a cardload of ma’am’s I could send you, Kay, as I’m up to my ears in them. I once made the mistake of asking a college student here at the U of S not to call me ma’am…to which he replied, (you guessed it), “yes ma’am.


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