Welcome…

Welcome to my home in cyberspace.…

Where you from?

Where I grew up, every­body always wants to know where you’re from? The only excep­tions are the peo­ple you grew up with, and they already know where you’re from because they’re from there too. 🙂

Any­way, as I said, everybody’s got­ta be from some­where, and I’m from the moun­tains of West­ern North Car­oli­na. Asheville, if any­one asks. Or if they know the area, Swan­nanoa. It’s an unin­cor­po­rat­ed blink town on I-40 — what’s left of it, that is. It grew up as a mill town in the thir­ties, but it no longer has its mill.

Swan­nanoa, so named for the Swan­nanoa Val­ley — an Indi­an name the Euro­pean set­tlers adopt­ed once they’d made a some­what uneasy peace with the area’s Native Amer­i­can inhab­i­tants. Swan­nanoa — home of Bea­con blan­kets — that mill I men­tioned ear­li­er that no longer exists. You can find out more about Bea­con, and Swan­nanoa HERE.

Bea­con Blan­kets brought almost all of my ances­tors to Swan­nanoa. The rest of them arrived because part of Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal pack­age includ­ed the cre­ation of the TVA (Ten­nessee Val­ley Author­i­ty) — a fed­er­al agency charged with improv­ing the lives of the peo­ple liv­ing in the great Ten­nessee Val­ley (which includ­ed much of the lost State of Franklin (anoth­er sto­ry) — parts of East Ten­nessee and parts of West­ern North Car­oli­na).

The TVA, in addi­tion to intro­duc­ing fer­til­iz­ers to farm­ers in the area, took con­trol of the Ten­nessee Riv­er and began build­ing dams to pro­duce elec­tric­i­ty. The biggest of those dams, now known as Lake Fontana, was cre­at­ed by flood­ing low lying areas of the Ten­nessee Val­ley, includ­ing the town of Jud­son — where the rest of my fam­i­ly lived before being relo­cat­ed, first to adja­cent towns, and ulti­mate­ly to Swan­nanoa.

Long sto­ry short, they all arrived in Swan­nanoa, and almost all of them end­ed up work­ing in the mill. The Mill, as it was known to the locals, employed the vast major­i­ty of the peo­ple in Swan­nanoa and the sur­round­ing area right up until the Eight­ies, when com­pe­ti­tion from out­side the Unit­ed States and Union wage require­ments inside the Unit­ed States put them, along with most of the South’s tex­tile busi­ness either out of busi­ness or almost out of busi­ness.

Too much infor­ma­tion? Maybe. But I think that if you want to under­stand some­body, you real­ly do need to under­stand where they’re from (bad gram­mar, I know, but it’s a col­lo­qui­al­ism — what can I say?!?).

The bigger picture.

The West­ern part of the state of North Car­oli­na is some of the most beau­ti­ful land I’ve ever seen. Asheville, the region’s only city of size, is called “The Land of the Sky” because its vis­tas are so strik­ing. The scene above is one of those.

I grew up in the heart of all that beau­ty, and nev­er fail to appre­ci­ate it. I left it as an adult, for many rea­sons, but a piece of my heart will always be there, some­where in the mists of the Blue Ridge Moun­tains.

What am I doing here?

This place, this vir­tu­al place in cyber space, is where I share my writ­ings, thoughts, rants and rav­ings. Where I share poet­ry, opin­ions and sto­ries. Fam­i­ly his­to­ry and fam­i­ly secrets. Call it what­ev­er you like — jour­nal, diary or blog. It’s mine and I pret­ty much do it for me. It’s a sort of cathar­sis for my brain. 🙂

You want to look in? Feel free. But real­ize I’m not look­ing for approval or opin­ions.

Blanket Town

I Spent a cou­ple of Sum­mers work­ing here while in col­lege, and made good mon­ey — enough to live on through the rest of the year. Most of my imme­di­ate and extend­ed fam­i­ly worked here, either a lit­tle bit, or all of their lives. When it was good, it was great, but Amer­i­can fac­to­ries could …

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Jumping for Joy at Salvation Mountain

Last week Eyoäl­ha Bak­er and my friend David Schei­de drove down to the Salton Sea, the city of Niland, CA, Sal­va­tion Moun­tain, Slab City and final­ly, to East Jesus. It was just amaz­ing. We Jumped for Joy, did lots of explor­ing and took lots of pic­tures. Here are a few…

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Charlottesville, Virginia

I don’t know about any­one else, but the events in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia were a turn­ing point for me. And I just read that they were a turn­ing point for the ACLU as well. I’ve been a mem­ber of the ACLU for most of my adult life, and I have long been a sup­port­er of the …

Read more

Cracked Corn.

1. Cracked Corn. Cracked corn spills out onto the ground. Yel­low nuggets made mor­tal by the crush of a miller’s tool. This is Scratch — Chick­en feed! That, and a guar­an­tee that tomorrow’s eggs will break to a Gold­en Dawn! 2. In atten­dance. We are wait­ing here for twi­light. Wait­ing… Tread­ing soft­ly, find­ing seats (and …

Read more

Blanket Town

I Spent a cou­ple of Sum­mers work­ing here while in col­lege, and made good mon­ey — enough to live on through the rest of the year. Most of my imme­di­ate and extend­ed fam­i­ly worked here, either a lit­tle bit, or all of their lives. When it was good, it was great, but Amer­i­can fac­to­ries could …

Read more

Jumping for Joy at Salvation Mountain

Last week Eyoäl­ha Bak­er and my friend David Schei­de drove down to the Salton Sea, the city of Niland, CA, Sal­va­tion Moun­tain, Slab City and final­ly, to East Jesus. It was just amaz­ing. We Jumped for Joy, did lots of explor­ing and took lots of pic­tures. Here are a few…

Read more

Charlottesville, Virginia

I don’t know about any­one else, but the events in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia were a turn­ing point for me. And I just read that they were a turn­ing point for the ACLU as well. I’ve been a mem­ber of the ACLU for most of my adult life, and I have long been a sup­port­er of the …

Read more

Cracked Corn.

1. Cracked Corn. Cracked corn spills out onto the ground. Yel­low nuggets made mor­tal by the crush of a miller’s tool. This is Scratch — Chick­en feed! That, and a guar­an­tee that tomorrow’s eggs will break to a Gold­en Dawn! 2. In atten­dance. We are wait­ing here for twi­light. Wait­ing… Tread­ing soft­ly, find­ing seats (and …

Read more