Showing posts with label Appalachia - Upper East TN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Appalachia - Upper East TN. Show all posts

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Synchronous Fireflies Show, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: You're Kidding, Right? (published 4-29-2023; article #408)

5/24/2019 photograph, by Tony Phan, on Unsplash. Free to use under the Unsplash License.


First, they are called lightning bugs -- not fireflies! Blame Mrs. Appalachian Irishman. She had the TV on early this morning, not me this time.

The flexibility of this “public journal and commentary” website is that I don't restrict myself to one topic or to only a few similar topics. That's why “Topic Sections” has twenty categories. I can add or change categories.

Early next month, the plan, Lord willing, is to publish two very serious articles on family and heritage. The articles will honor the recent sorrow and joy, of 4/26/2023, and the sorrow and joy, of 4/30/2023. The articles are in my mind only at this juncture.

Writing this humorous article about Appalachia will lift my spirit, in the context of the recent sorrow and joy. I hope that it lifts the spirits of family. Well, I hope that it brings laughter, to everyone, who reads it.

Firefly Lottery” - You're Kidding, Right?

Let's divide this section into the lightning bug lottery facts and then add a little “you're kidding” humor. Shall we?

The Lottery

I don't really know why the morning TV news is inspiring recent articles, including this one. This is the third article this month! The other two are the articles of 4/19/2023 and 4/25/2023 (the day before the sorrow and joy, of the next day).

I'd completed the routine early morning stretches -- which I do while still in the bed, to unkink my “bionic” body -- from a night's sleep. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, like the good and “long-suffering” wife that she is, was making the weekend breakfast (eggs, biscuits, gravy, bacon, and coffee). Having greeted my wife and enlightened her with my usual Irish blarney, I poured my first cup of coffee. As I walked to my home office, the local morning TV news had a segment on the “synchronous firefly lottery.” I kid you not! I had to pause and watch enough to laugh, before continuing to my office.

In case you think that I'm still joking, the online version of the story is: “Park officials announce synchronous firefly lottery, viewing dates,” on WATE TV, Knoxville, TN, by Melanie Vásquez Russell, posted 4/25/2023, updated 4/27/2023. The article begins by stating:

The dates have been announced for the 2023 viewings of the famous synchronous fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A limited number of park visitors will have the opportunity to watch the “lightning bugs” in their late-spring flash patterns up in the Smokies.

At least “lightning bugs” is in quotation marks! That's what anyone, born and raised in northeast Tennessee, calls them! Only Yankees say “fireflies!” Fact check: meteorological summer starts on June 1st, so the lightning bug show starts in early summer, not late spring!

According to the article, “the lottery system for synchronous firefly viewings” started in 2006 (the same year that my new ol' truck was manufactured). This year, the “viewings” will be June 4th through 11th, eight evenings. Each evening, 120 vehicles are allowed, totaling 960 in eight evenings. Only seven folks are allowed per vehicle. Apparently, the bureaucrats have all the details lined out.

Any Yankees or southerners, who have no sense, may buy a lottery for a vehicle pass -- but only from April 28 at 10 AM to May 1 at 8 PM. It'll cost you a dollar to play the lightning bug viewing lottery game! Time's a wastin'! Better hurry!

The lucky winners of the lightning bug viewing lottery will be notified, on 5/11/2023. Those lucky winners will get a parking pass and have to fork over another $24.00 for a reservation fee. Ain't they goin' to be lucky!

You're Kidding, Right?

Well, that's the facts, such as they are. My sarcastic Irish wit has verbalized its eloquence, every year that the lightning bug show comes around. This time, my wit is in writing!

Who created this money-making racket? Inquiring minds want to know! How can you, dear reader, avoid that scheme? Let me preach on.

If you live in a rural area, with no street lights, just step outside, on any given evening in June. You will see the synchronous lightning bug show -- without cost! Growing up in the country, we watched many such shows, right in our own yard!

Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I live in a fairly rural area of northeast Knox County. We have an acre of ground, in a small subdivision. Street lights don't bother the view. We have seen, every year, since 2003, the synchronous lighting bug show -- in our own back yard! It's great! If family and friends come over, then we don't charge them to watch the show! No lottery ticket is required.

If you are a city dweller, then I suggest that you find some country friends, who will invite you to their yard, to watch the lightning bug show! Being country, they won't charge you. I'd suggest that you move out of that city, to a quiet place in the country, of course.

I still wonder who created the money-making racket, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I ain't a betting man, but I'd bet a crisp and fairly worthless dollar bill that other locations are doing the same. They're just taking money from folks, who don't have any common sense, y'all!

The Couch Spring

How did I jump to a couch spring? I guess that it's the debate on meteorological spring (June 1st) versus astronomical spring (June 21st). Last evening, my side of the recliner couch popped a spring.

I took the above photograph this morning. You can't see the missing spring, unless you look hard. This is my work in progress. Yes, my bionic right foot and I pounded asphalt and hard tile, in both the Home Depot and Lowe's. I found a potential replacement spring.

I might just ask a neighbor, who has an automobile restoration shop, to let me use his fancy tools, to make a new hook out of the damaged spring. All it needs is an improvised hook!

Don't worry! I won't spring another couch story on you! Rest assured that, in educated country boy fashion, I'll fix it.


My adoptive sister and I had another good long phone conversation this afternoon. Sis, my wife and I will be there in spirit, on Monday! We plan that visit in June!

Remember, y'all, they are called lightning bugs -- not fireflies!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Response to 'Why Appalachia’s Substance Use Problems Have Systemic Roots' (published 4-12-2023; article #402)

7/10/2015 photograph, by Zack Spear on Unsplash. Free to use under the Unsplash License.


Greetings, to each international, national, regional, and local reader -- especially to you, dear reader. My hope, in the Lord, is that you are well. By the Gregorian calendar, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday (Easter) have passed. Иисус воскрес! Воистину, Он воскрес! My brother, next in age to me, attained age 60, on Resurrection Sunday. We enjoyed a good phone conversation. His family and he are doing well enough, thankfully.

On Monday, family remembered my mother-in-law, Phyllis Ann House Gordon (4/10/1941 - 4/30/2017). Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, my father-in-law, her sister, and I disassembled my sister-in-law's bathroom sink faucet. The new faucet assembly required new water line, which we didn't have. That “work in progress” completed today. My mother-in-law would have enjoyed the “fun” on her birthday. The effort, to help my sister-in-law, honored my mother-in-law, whom I look forward to seeing again, where she is now, with the Lord.

This twenty-fourth article, on Appalachia - Upper East TN, is my response to the article of 2/16/2023, on Appalachian History. The excellent website “has been digging up stories, quotes and anecdotes about the region since 2006 . . . with an emphasis on the 1880s - 1950s.” The articles, about one a month, are usually informative, historical, and entertaining. For example, the article, of 4/4/2023, shares an excerpt from an author's book, which is quite interesting! Apparently, a man, thought to have been dead, was not. This article, by no means, critiques the body of work on Appalachian History!

The guest article, of 2/16/2023, however, had raised my Irish dander, when I read it, initially, in late February. I happened to notice it again, while reading the excellent article of 4/4/2023. My Irish dander arose again! This article is how I speak my mind. The conclusion will explain the true source of and solution to problems -- in Appalachia, Oregon, this once great nation, and the world in general.

The 2/16/2023 Article

The guest article that rekindled my Irish dander today is: “Why Appalachia’s Substance Use Problems Have Systemic Roots,” on Appalachian History, written by Amanda Winstead, published by Dave Tabler, 2/16/2023. The guest writer, as Dave Tabler notes, in his introduction to her, is from Portland, Oregon.

The guest article, of over a thousand words, has five sections: an introduction, “Poverty and the 'Diseases of Despair,'” “The Economics of Addiction,” “The Legacy of Big Tobacco,” and “The Takeaway” (or conclusion). First, I summarize those sections. Then, I state my response and conclusion.

The Introductory Remarks

Properly, the introductory remarks compliment the beauty of the Appalachian region, disapprove of the stereotype of the region's inhabitants, and state, “Appalachian peoples are not more 'prone' to addiction than any other regional, cultural, ethnic, or socioeconomic demographic.”

The final paragraph, of the introductory remarks, states the theme of the article:

Addiction in the region has deep, complex, and multigenerational roots. It is a systemic plague that will only be addressed through comprehensive interventions.

Three sections continue the theme. They are as follows.

Poverty and the “Diseases of Despair”

The point, in this section, is that poverty in Appalachia is a root cause “to a lack of access to quality health care,” “uninsured and underinsured” folks, “a dearth of healthcare providers” -- especially “mental health care” and “addiction recovery services.”

Apparently, Appalachia suffers from “diseases of despair” (which links to a 5/31/2021 Forbes article). This is explained as “excessive rates of suicide” and “significantly higher risks for substance use disorders.”

This section embeds links to four other websites, three of which are not noteworthy. One, however, is to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), which proclaims itself to be “an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region.” Its mission is “to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.” (Interestingly, the guest writer's notation of poverty in Appalachia does not indicate that the ARC has been doing very well in its mission.)

The section's concluding statement is that a “generational cycle” “continues even when the original catalyst (poverty, lack of healthcare access, etc.) ends.”[C]hildren grow up in a home with substance-abusing grandparents, parents, or siblings. A family legacy of dependency is born.”

The Economics of Addiction

This second section, apparently, attempts to indicate that the economy of Appalachia contributes to alcohol, drug, and especially opioid addiction in the region. It begins by stating:

Farming, especially tobacco farming, and coal mining have long been the principal industries, and one of the few sources of stable work, in the region for generations.

The guest writer theorizes that injuries and illnesses from those dangerous jobs have “been egregiously exploited by the pharmaceutical industry” (or “Big Pharma” as the article states). The exploitation by “Big Pharma,” as the article speculates, caused the “opioid epidemic,” which may have originated in Appalachia.

The Legacy of Big Tobacco

In the third section, the guest writer speculates that tobacco farming “has given rise to generations of smokers and snuff users. From chewing tobacco to cigarettes, tobacco products remain ubiquitous in many parts of Appalachia.”

The section ends with comments on how folks have been turning to e-cigarettes and “vaping” those e-cigarettes. Apparently, according to the guest writer, the government's efforts to control e-cigarettes are driving folks in the region to buy them on the black market.

The Takeaway

The guest writer concludes her article, in one paragraph, by stating:

The story of addiction in Appalachia is far more complex than the stereotype acknowledges. It is a pervasive disorder with deep, systemic roots. It is a pandemic that will only end when, as a nation, we confront the economic, political, medical, and cultural catalysts driving it.

My Response

What is my response? In general, after my Irish dander cooled enough, the guest writer appears to stereotype Appalachia, in a manner similar to the stereotyping done by others, whom she criticizes correctly. I, however, don't think that she realized that she was doing so.

First, was the guest writer born and raised in Appalachia, before moving to Portland? I doubt it. If not, then why, pray tell, did she write a guest article on Appalachia?

Having never been to Portland, Oregon, or even to Oregon, I could write an article titled “Why Oregon's Substance Use Problems Have Systemic Roots.” Unlike the guest writer, however, I am not that impudent. I did search by that potential article title. I discovered and downloaded the “2020-2025 Oregon Statewide Srategic Plan,” by the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission, on Oregon's state government website.

I suggest that the guest writer publish future articles about her “back yard,” not mine. The “2020-2025 Oregon Statewide Strategic Plan,” by my quick glance, shows that Oregon has systemic substance abuse problems -- just as Appalachia does. I am not so impertinent as to publish an article about her “back yard,” while I stay in mine!

Second, the logic of the guest writer argues, incorrectly, that “poverty, lack of healthcare access, etc.” lead to “substance-abusing grandparents, parents, or siblings” that creates a “legacy of dependency.” The writer has committed the logical fallacy of causation, by assuming that the former leads to the latter, without sufficient proof. Correlation does not imply causation.

For example, Mom and Dad raised us four boys on soup beans and taters. As the oldest, I passed down clothes to younger brothers. Doctor Goforth, other doctors, the hospital in town, and hospitals in nearby cities were available. Dad could afford health insurance for us, until the cost became too high to afford. My maternal and paternal grandparents were by no means wealthy. The guest writer, to hear my story, would say that I was raised in poverty or near poverty. Dad was a water well driller. Mom left her job at the telephone company, to raise us boys. We raised garden. We survived well enough.

The “economically challenging” environment of my grandparents, parents, and siblings, however, did not lead to substance abuse! Again, correlation does not imply causation. We, instead, relied on the Bread of Life to sustain us, which He did. Poverty does not, inherently, cause substance abuse.

Third, the guest writer must have gone back in time. Farming, tobacco farming, and coal mining are certainly legacies of Appalachia. They, however, are not -- and have not been for decades -- “principal industries” and “the few sources of stable work” in the region.

The old tobacco warehouses are mostly gone -- replaced by businesses. Farm land has become subdivisions, industrial parks, and office complexes. The Appalachia in the writer's mind existed decades ago. Folks still farm and raise tobacco, often on the side.

My area of Appalachia did not and does not have any noticeable number of coal mines. Apparently, there are no coal mines in Tennessee. For example, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Tennessee, Profile Analysis, Coal (last update, 8/18/2022) reports, “. . . the state no longer produces coal. The state's few mines last produced coal in early 2020.”

Fourth, it appears that the guest writer was running out of vapor, by writing about vaping, near the end of her article. Dad smoked, until he decided to quit. I tried cigarettes, in high school. Dad caught me, bought me a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He said, “I can't tell you not to smoke, son, since I do, but don't hide it.” Dad's eight-grade-educated psychology worked! I never bothered to smoke again! I wonder if folks in Oregon have ever smoked, chewed tobacco, or smoked e-cigarettes.

Finally, the author's “The Takeaway,” or conclusion, offers no solution as to how we, as a nation, can improve the “catalysts,” which are stated. (As an interesting note, the author describes the “story of addiction in Appalachia” as a “pandemic.” I thought that a pandemic was global. Appalachia is a region on the globe.) Don't worry! My conclusion will offer the solution!


The solution to systemic substance abuse -- in Appalachia, Oregon, this once great nation, or the world -- is not found in the United Nations, the federal government, any state government, or any government partnership agency (e.g., the Appalachian Regional Commission). What is my solution?

My solution patterns the inspired apostle Paul. In his first century letter to the church at Ephesus, he wrote (with my emboldening added for emphasis):

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 5:18-20, NIV)

The reading of the entire letter to the Ephesians is encouraged. Ephesians 5:18-20 is a section in the apostle Paul's theme “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Eph. 4:1, NIV), which continues to Ephesians 6:20. The theme to live worthy of Christ's calling follows the apostle's eloquent statements of God's grace, in chapters 1-3. This is an inspired statement of causation.

The solution is to be filled with the Spirit of God -- not wine, alcohol, drugs, or any form of immorality. My parents, maternal grandparents, and paternal grandparents were filled with God's Spirit, as their godly lives demonstrated. Despite impoverished or near impoverished conditions – with hard manual labor and limitations on health care and insurance -- my ancestors did not succumb to substance abuse -- since they filled themselves with the Spirit of God. This is my family legacy of faith, in Appalachia.

This article is also my ninety-second on heritage and is written in honor of my paternal grandfather, Marion Ferrell (4/13/1880 - 11/21/1970). Tomorrow will mark the date of his birth, in 1880.

The systemic solution is spiritual. “Dear Lord, as my written prayer, thank you for your grace, the faith of my ancestors, and your gift of grace to me, through Christ Jesus. May all people, in Appalachia, Oregon, this nation, and the world, in free will, accept your everlasting solution of salvation, which frees us from the systemic evils that plague humankind. In Christ's name, I pray. Amen.”

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Introducing “Donnie Laws: East Tennessee Outdoors” (published 4-4-2023; article #401)

7/1/2007 photograph in Cades Cove, by M. Fearghail, as included in 7/28/2022 article.


Greetings, dear reader! My prayer is that you are well. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I are doing well enough. Thanks for asking!

This brief article introduces Donnie Laws' YouTube channel, on Appalachian history, stories, and more! My 7/28/2022 article, on Cades Cove, referenced, very kindly, his 7/19/2022 podcast about Cades Cove. I'd come across his channel by reading Tipper's 7/27/2022 article, on Blind Pig & the Acorn. Howdy, by the way, to both Tipper and Donnie! We're just trying to keep the Appalachian heritage tradition a goin'!

Donnie Laws' channel is the seventh entry, under the “Appalachian Heritage” section (lower right on the main web page). I added him today.

Introducing Donnie Laws!

I've only met Donnie Laws online. I'd like to meet him, look eye to eye, greet him, and shake his hand! He lives somewhere around these parts, in east Tennessee. Our conversation, with a few cups of strong coffee, would be interesting.

This article highly recommends Donnie Laws' YouTube channel! Earlier today, I commented on his 3/3/2023 podcast: "Donnie Laws Channel Talk in the Studio,” on DONNIE LAWS: EAST TENNESSEE OUTDOORS. His channel started on 1/15/2015. He has produced 646 videos, as of this writing. He has 143,000 subscribers. The quality and quantity of his production work astound and inspire me.

Donnie, as I figure that he prefers to be called, and I look about the same age. We're definitely in the same generation. I do believe that we share the same traditional Appalachian values. Unfortunately, those biblically-based values are fading. Donnie's YouTube channel and Tipper's website are two, of numerous, attempts to uphold those fading values. My website attempts to do the same.

At any rate, you are encouraged, dear reader, to visit and sit a spell with Donnie Laws, on his YouTube channel. I visit there often. I haven't subscribed, since he produces about three podcasts a week. I'd rather avoid getting that many email notifications. I rather just drop in, unannounced, often. Donnie always welcomes my online visits.


By the way, what did you think about my first podcast, of 3/29/2023, on House Mountain? It's only three minutes long, and it's included in my 3/31/2023 article.

Yesterday, a brother in Christ and friend published a reference to the following article. “Unbelievable Poll Shows American Values Are Dying, and Fast,” on The Political Insider, by Kathleen J. Anderson, 3/31/2023. The article states, in part:

Like my parents, if my grandparents were alive today, they would be sad over how life in America has changed, almost as if what it means to be an American has completely changed… and not for the better.

A recent Wall Street Journal poll has found that the core fundamental values that made America are collapsing.

During my routine, monthly chiropractic appointment today, Doc. Art and I expressed similar thoughts on the moral decline in this once great nation.

The conclusion to my 3/31/2023 article states, in part:

My hiking theology is that life has good points and treacherous points, behind and ahead of us. We see several good points. We endure several bad ones. We, however, continue onward and upward.

The heavenly mountain is calling, and I must go! The ridgeline is closer than it was. I see the good and bad spots behind me. I can't see what's ahead of me. By faith, I shall reach the heavenly bluff. The everlasting view there will be spectacular!

Dear reader, if you have not already started, please go to the mountain. It should be calling you. You must go.

The written prayer in this article is that folks will stop slipping and falling at that “treacherous switchback” and keep climbing to the ridgeline. May it be so, dear Lord!

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Church Hayride & the Moonshine Still: It's a True Story (published 3-21-2023; article #397)

Image added by EllieWalker & posted in Alcohol and Old Lace, in The Andy Griffith Show Episodes, Season 1, on Fandom. Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.


For the life of me, I don't recall which year. I was a teenager, probably fourteen or fifteen, and a member of the West View Baptist Church youth group. Mom (Betty Lou Wood Ferrell, 11/24/1932 - 12/27/2000) and another lady, Sandra V., taught and led the youth group. We met, in Sunday School, before the morning worship service. We enjoyed several other activities, such as rollerskating and hayrides. Several adult chaperones helped. The youth group was a wonderful, positive, and formative part of my teenage years, back in the 1970s.

The adult chaperones, around Halloween, had arranged a fall hayride and bonfire, for the youth group. The bonfire -- with roasted marshmallows (marshmellers, as we called them), hotdogs, and Cokes -- followed the hayride.

What do a youth hayride and a moonshine still have in common? This twenty-second article on Appalachia - Upper East TN will explain. It's heritage and humor also. This article is inspired by Grandpa’s Still, on Blind Pig & the Acorn, by Garland Davis, published by Tipper, 3/16/2023. Reading that article, in the context of this article, is highly suggested. (I'll wait here, until you're back, after having read that article. It's a good article.)

Church Hayride

As I recall, a couple dozen or more of us teenagers rode in the big hay wagon. An adult chaperone or two rode with us. I think that Mom was one. A man drove the tractor that pulled us. As dusk approached darkness, the hayride started.

We rode off a two-lane highway and along various dirt roads, which were lined by trees, ridges, and fields. Singing, talking, and joking, we were enjoying a great time! I probably had a liking to a young lady or two. In shyness, I probably tried to do some subtle courting. (Yes, I was shy, until my junior year in high school, when my Irish blarney starting opening my glib, Irish tongue!)

After a good, long ride, the tractor driver hunted an open area, to turn the hayride back for the food and bonfire. He found an open gate, in a field, that was near someone's barn.

Moonshine Still

As we began to circle around behind the barn, to make the return loop, the driver pushed the tractor into high gear and exclaimed, “Hang on!” The wagon jerked, causing most of us to roll backward in the hay! I'm glad that the wagon had wooden side boards; otherwise, some of us could have fallen off the wagon. We rode in high gear, hanging onto each other or to the side boards, until the hay wagon was back onto the dirt road safely.

What happened? Why did we have to go so fast?” -- we had asked and wondered. Just before the tractor jumped into high gear, I'd noticed, near the back of that barn, something that looked like a big barrel, with pipes on it. I didn't know what it was -- at first.

Safely back onto the dirt road, the driver replied, “Did you see that still? Someone has a moonshine still behind the barn! We had to get out of there!” Well, no wonder! I'm glad that no one was making moonshine at the time! Coming upon moonshine making, even by accident, could have been very dangerous -- even on a church hayride.


Almost everyone, who was born and raised in Appalachia, has had a moonshiner in the family or a moonshine story to tell. Thanks, to Tipper, for inspiring this story, as she shared Garland Davis' story.

Fallen off the wagon” usually means that someone has started drinking again. As a teenager, I was glad that none of us young uns had “fallen off the wagon” -- when the tractor driver high geared us away from that still!

Do I hear you laughing? I thought so!

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

HERITAGE DAYS: Age 13, Crossbow, & Sorry, Vendors! (published 10-18-2022; article #365)

Photo by Koray Guler on Unsplash.


I started to write this article on Saturday, but chores and college football overruled. Today, the weather is cloudy and cooler, and we have about an inch of snow on the ground – believe it or not?

On 10/14/2022, Friday, some of the Fearghail clan gathered, at the home of my youngest brother and his family. The gathering included a new teenager and crossbow shooting! The day was wonderful! The weather was sunny and not too warm.

I'll mention Rogersville Heritage Days, before I conclude. I must “apologize” to the out-of-town vendors.

Fearghail Heritage Day

I didn't take any photographs. My semi-intelligent phone was in our 2012 Nissan Sentra. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman had her phone, but she's not the photographer that I am. My youngest brother did record our singing of “Happy Birthday,” which I sang in Russian.

On that Friday, the youngest daughter, of my youngest brother and his wife, attained her first year as a teenager! We drove up to join the celebration!

Before the birthday dinner (or lunch, as Yankees call it), the conversation flowed from topic to topic. By my instigation, the conversation turned, for a “movement in time,” to the use of various words.

The need to “visit the restroom” was mentioned. My humor had asked, “So, you need to go to the crapper?” Thomas Crapper improved the design of the commode. I'm glad that my last name isn't another name for the lavatory – as Crapper's is! By the way, the Good Lord won't spank you for saying “crap,” but your mother might!

After birthday dinner and ice cream cake, we all went out to the back yard. Their two dogs were glad to see us! I enjoyed playing with them. Later, once we returned home, Molly, our doggy, had to sniff on us a while!

The highlight was target shooting, with a compound bow and arrows! I hadn't shot a regular bow and arrow since high school. The Boy Scouts taught me how to shoot a bow and arrow. A high school buddy and I made bows ourselves. We'd cut and shaped either hickory or elm and attached line. We had to buy arrows, since the ones that we'd made were not perfectly straight.

I watched as my youngest brother and two daughters shot his compound bow. I decided to try. I'd never shot a compound bow before. I took some time, to figure out the process. I took one shot. I hit the target, about 30 yards away, a little low and to the left of dead center! I tried to set up for another shot, but the compound bow didn't want to cooperate with me. I need to practice the use of a compound bow. I may do that. We couldn't find one arrow that had been a stray shot. I guess that someone found it, after we left.

That Fearghail heritage day made a good memory – as a straight arrow shot to the target center!

Rogersville Heritage Days

I last mentioned Rogersville Heritage Days, in my 10/10/2021 article. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I had visited Heritage Days last year. That article includes two photographs.

On Friday, my youngest brother and family did not want to go walking around Main Street on Heritage Days. That was fine with us. We had a Fearghail heritage day instead.

I honor the good heritage of my hometown. My 8/7/2021 article – which has viewers almost every day – confirmed that Rogersville is the second oldest town in Tennessee, not Dandridge! (Our Dandridge friends never did rebut my proof!)

I'd like to have seen at least a couple of cousins and some high school friends – if we'd had enough time. We enjoy, well enough, the walk up and down Main Street, glancing into some of the vendors' shops. We might have bought some Winesap apples, if any were for sale. We're not interested in the usual items that vendors sell.

Many, or most, of the street vendors are not local. They come in from out of town. So, I must apologize to those out-of-town vendors. No sale this year! Not even a stop by to glance!


An arrow must be straight, to be a straight shot. A crooked arrow will not shoot straight, even if aimed by the best marksman.

The Fearghail clan gathering affirmed that the daughters of my youngest brother and his wife are growing up straight as an arrow. They will “shoot straight” in life, since they are being raised right.

Are you a straight or crooked arrow? Shoot straight in life. The marksman's target is the heavenly center!

Saturday, September 24, 2022

BLUE HORSE NOTEBOOK PAPER (published 9-24-2022, article #359)


Howdy, y'all! Yesterday, in this neck of the woods, the low was 46F, about 7 AM. The sky was crisp and blue. Fall is in the air finally! It's about time. Today, I hope that the clouds bring some much needed rain.

As a side note, on 9/21/2022, “Microcrap” presented an update, which I installed successfully, in the late afternoon. The next morning, however, my “Winders” Live Mail 2012 wouldn't create or reply to emails. (The software had been working fine before the update.) Yesterday morning, I uninstalled the 9/21/2022 “Microcrap” update. My email software works fine again. I won!

Getting back to the topic, do my northeast Tennessee readers, who have some age on them, remember Blue Horse notebook paper? I hear some readers saying “yes!” To my readers who don't know, please read on! Well, those who know may want to read a while longer.

Inspiration for this Article

I'd started this draft, on 7/29/2022 (a Friday). That morning, Phil Williams (on The Phil Show, NewsTalk 98.7 FM), talked about Blue Horse notebook paper. (I listen to him, at times, while I'm conducting my morning ritual.)

That brought a few memories, from my mental backwaters, to the forefront. I thought: “Blue Horse notebook paper. Hum. What can I find on the 'Interweb?'”

Blue Horse Notebook Paper on the “Interweb”

After my morning ritual, of 7/29/2022, I searched the “Interweb” for “Blue Horse notebook paper.” After scrolling past all the advertisements, the first actual article (that didn't want money) was on the Johnson City Press (Johnson City, TN) website.

The article is: “Remembering when Montag's Blue Horse galloped across the country dispersing Blue Horse label notebook paper,” by Bob Cox, Johnson City Press, 9/7/2019.

The article denotes an old Blue Horse notebook paper advertisement, to girls and boys, for various prizes. The image, below, is from that article.

A photo of the Blue Horse emblem and some advertisements for the big contest the brand put on. Contributed/Bob Cox.

Montag, which started in 1945, made Blue Horse notebook paper. Montag & Caldwell's website article – M&C Celebrates A 75 Year History: The Story Behind Montag & Caldwell, 11/16/2020 – mentions Blue Horse notebook paper, as a note in their historical details.

Deeper “Interweb” Digging - Bob Cox

The 9/7/2019 Johnson City Press article includes a link to: Bob Cox's Yesteryear: Documenting the Nostalgic History of Upper East Tennessee. His latest articles are three, from 8/8/2019. His website isn't active.

But wait! Box Cox has an active “Bob Cox's Yesteryear” personal blog on Facebook! If you have a “Farcebook” – as I call it – account, then you will find him, still writing and publishing, there. I'm glad that he's still active somewhere.

My Blue Horse Coaster

On 8/12/2022 (a Friday) -- while I was shop vacuuming Molly's “basement condominium,” to suck up all the doggy sheddings -- I decided to look through a storage box, where I thought that my Blue Horse coaster was resting. I found it, exactly where I'd stored it, before we moved to Russia (on 10/1/1994).

Well, Tuesday (9/20/2022) was another wonderful shop vacuuming experience. I brought my Blue Horse coaster from the “basement condominium” to my home office. Yesterday, I took the photograph, below, in my office.

I got my coaster as a boy. I don't remember how or when. That coaster has a good degree of wear. At the homeplace, in my teenage years, my coaster sat on my antique dresser – which I had inherited, as I recall, from an ancestor, on Mom's side of the family. Over those years, I'd placed many cups, glasses, and bottles – of warm or cold beverages (i.e., water, milk, buttermilk, tea, Cokes, hot chocolate, etc.) – on that coaster, to protect my dresser. The coaster took the wear.


Thanks, Phil Williams, for inspiring this article! Thanks, Bob Cox, for allowing me to “meet” you on the “Interweb!” I trust that both men know the Good Lord. I've heard Phil Williams state so. Bob Cox writes as if he does.

The inspired Old Testament includes Psalm 90 – A prayer of Moses the man of God.

Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. (Psalms 90:10, NIV)

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalms 90:12, NIV)

As a teenager – with a cold Coke resting on my coaster, I'd thought about the number of decades that I had left to live. It seemed like a long time.

At age 62 – with my coaster in my home office, I realize how swiftly those decades have flown by, to now. Only the Good Lord knows how many hours, days, weeks, months, years, or decades that I have left, in this temporal existence. I number my days. I have a heart of wisdom. I am ready to go Home!

Many readers know what I mean. Some may not. If you don't know what I mean, and would like to know, you are welcome to contact me – on my Contact Form. I'm just one poor beggar, trying to help other poor beggars find the Bread of Life.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022



Howdy, y'all! To my viewers in East Tennessee, don't we need more rain? It's been too dry for too long! Okay, that was my dry humor – on yet another partly cloudy day. I reckon that the rain may hit later this afternoon, as usual, unless it goes around us again.

The inspiration for this article is from “The Bull and Baseball,” on Blind Pig & the Acorn, 7/22/2022, by guest writer, Garland Davis. Please pause reading here, to read that article. It's a down right funny one! Garland Davis explains how the bull “took up the shortstop’s position.” His words created a video image in my mind! I entered a comment on that article, on 7/22/2022. Thanks, Tipper, for publishing Garland's article!

This is Not the Bull

The photograph, below, is not part of my story. It may, however, help you imagine the video that I hope my story creates in your mind.

Free image of “Black and white bull in the barn” by FreePik

The bull is not “in the barn!” He's in the barnyard. That bull does look as big and mean – as the bull that I hope that my mental image video will create for you.

My Hornets then the Bull Story

The Setting

When I was a boy, Mom and Dad rented the old Livesay place – just off dead man's curve, near Highway 11W. The old farm house had an upstairs and downstairs. The coal furnace was in the unfinished basement. (Mom stored her canning on the basement shelves.) The pump piped spring water from the spring house to the house. (The spring house was about 100 yards or so from the house.) Dad heated with either coal or wood. (I busted up a lot of coal and split a lot of wood.) The wood stove in the living room and the coal or wood stove in the kitchen helped the furnace (when it worked). We knew how to sleep under several layers of blankets in winter. Mom and Dad moved us to our new home, in 1974, the year that I started high school. The old Livesay place served Mom, Dad, and us four boys. (My youngest brother was born in 1973, so he doesn't remember the Livesay place very well.)

The Livesay homeplace was part of the Livesay farm. I had a lot of fun, roaming the fields and hills. Two barns, another barn for tractors and such, a smoke house, a chicken coop, and an old two-seater outhouse were meant for exploring – well, except the outhouse. We had indoor plumbing.

I'm the eldest of four boys. I was lucky to have two guys, my age, nearby. We all lived within a few cow fields of each other. One of the guys had a younger brother, who was about the age of my next to eldest brother. The five of us boys hiked, camped, built a couple of tree houses, jumped our bicycles across cow ponds, swung on grapevines, skated on iced ponds, snow sledded, had firecracker and BB gun wars, had tobacco stick wars in barn rafters, and had a lot of fun together. I'm surprised that we survived childhood.

The “Jump from the Barn Loft” Game

One game that we played was “jump from the barn loft.” One of the barns had a way to climb up to the loft. The loft had a door (usually open) that opened to the ground below (where humans, cattle, tractors, and wagons could come and go). Hay bales could be tossed from the ground up to the loft, or visa versa, through that door. The drop from the loft to the dirt below was about six feet or so – as well as I can remember.

My buddies and I played “jump from the barn loft” often enough. It was fun! We often played tag while doing it. Often in who got tagged order, we'd take turns, in a line, jumping from the loft to the dirt below. We'd go back around, climb back up, and jump again – several times – until we got tired.

My Last Jump

On a fine, sunny, summer day, the five of us boys were hard at our game! We'd been at it a while. It was getting close to noon – or dinner time – or “lunch,” as Northerners call it. Mom had vittles for us. We were hungry.

I was the last to jump. My buddies had already jumped and headed to the house. I must have been piddling around a while by myself. (Start your mental video recording now.) I smacked the top of the loft, with my left hand, before I jumped. I remember yelling “Geronimo!” I was feeling my oats!

The Hornets then the Bull

I don't know why that we hadn't seen the hornets nest, up in the dark, left corner! I had smacked their nest. The hornets came after me, as I landed on the barn floor.

The bull greeted me. (We had been warned to watch out for him. We hadn't seen him. I saw him, about a second after I'd jumped!) He was standing near where I'd landed, looking mean. He dug one front hoof into the dirt. He snorted.

I took off running out of the barn, through the field, and toward the house! The fence line was about 40 yards away from the barn. The house was about another 100 or more yards from the fence line. The hornets stung me a few times. The bull chased me. I could hear him snort – as I ran -- while the hornets were stinging me.

I out ran the bull and slid under the barbed wire fence, just in time. (Our dogs, Bandit and Blackie, had dug out a spot under the fence, so they could cross under.) That saved me from the bull!

The hornets were still after me. I had to jump over a gate, to get to the gravel road that lead to the house. (Usually, I'd climb over the gate. I managed to jump over it that day!) I ran into the kitchen through the open screen door. I recall hollering, “Open the door! Hornets are chasing me!” Someone held the door open. The metal spring closed the door automatically, once I was inside. That stopped the hornets. Hornets bounced against that screen door a while but left finally.

Mom, bless her heart, treated my hornet stings – about four or five, mostly on my neck and head. I finally ate my dinner. I had to take it easy a couple of days, so Mom could keep treating the hornet stings until they healed. My buddies and I didn't play “jump from the barn loft” a while – if we ever did again. (You may turn off your mental video recording. Be sure to save the tape!)


Over the years, I have told my “the hornets then the bull” story many times. I've told it to young folks – at youth rallies, at church camps, and so forth – to make a spiritual point, which I will do next.

The inspired apostle Peter wrote:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11, NIV)

The inspired James wrote:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7, NIV)

I “resisted” those hornets and that bull – by running away fast! My “resistance” did not force the hornets and the bull to flee from me. I had to flee from them!

The devil, or Satan, is a “roaring lion,” who wishes “to devour” us. Satan, however, is not as powerful as we think he is. When we submit to God, cast our cares on Him, endure suffering a little while, and resist the devil, then Satan will run away from us! Yes, Satan may “devil” us plenty, but it will be only a little while – when we think in the everlasting perspective.

Lord, my faith stands firm and trusts in you! Devil, I resist you, by faith in Christ, so tuck tail and run away from me! Satan, you lose. God wins. I stand firmly with the winning team.

Y'all are welcome to share my “hornets then the bull” story – either just for fun or, more importantly, to help folks tell the devil to go run off somewhere else and to leave them alone! If folks submit to God and resist the devil, that lying Satan will flee from them.