My dear friend, Ruby, has a thoughtful husband who wished to concoct a big surprise for her 50th birthday. I was privileged to benefit from his plan as he flew me in to visit her for a few days. Spencer, and Ruby, along with daughter Joy, moved to Tennessee almost 2 years ago...We miss our formerly frequent coffee chats at Woods, but have kept up our friendship over the miles. It was too dear to give up!!! So I was excited to get the chance to see her world for a little bit – and get to talk with her until our throats were sore!! And I love surprises – so does Spencer – though we weren’t too sure if we might be overdoing it for Ruby...nonetheless we put the plan in motion.
I arrived Sunday evening and Joy picked me up at the airport. Her cover story was that she was at a friends house for the night. We made the drive from Knoxville to the Hinds’ beautiful home (think Southern Living – a whole neighborhood of them!). We crept to the front door, where Spencer greeted us and said, "Ruby just went to lay down...just go into the bedroom and say hello!" Thinking that such an awakening could bring on cardiac arrest (though Spencer IS a cardiologist...still not a good way to start a birthday celebration), I decided that Joy & I would ring the doorbell instead. We rang and watched through the sidelights of the door to see what would happen. Ruby came to the door with a quizzical look on her face, focusing on Joy, who was standing to my right. Ruby was wondering why Joy was there with her friend, ringing the doorbell...Joy LIVES there! She then turned to greet "Joy’s friend", that’s who she expected to see anyway, and she looked me in the eye for a second or two before it registered who "Joy’s friend" really was. Her eyes got HUGE and she jumped back from the door! I don’t think she could believe what she was seeing! OH it was fun!!! I wished her Happy Birthday amidst much laughing with Spencer beaming from behind her. She hadn’t an inkling – we had pulled it off! I think it took the rest of the evening for Ruby to believe it was really happening.Spencer & Ruby's Southern Living home! :D
The view from the front porch...
What fun I had there! Tennessee is beautiful! It was so green, and little rolling hills everywhere. I was surprised how rural their location is...We drove on windy, rollercoaster-y roads amongst fields and hills and along Douglas Lake for quite a few miles before we’d come to an interstate, or highway. People there could rival Lynden for they way they keep things up...except they have acres to mow, hilly acres – and they do mow a lot of it.
And then the people – oh what fun I had listening to them talk! Truly down home topics, with lots of honey’s, sweetheart’s, darlin’s thrown in. Things don’t "bug you"; they’re "aggravatin’". People aren’t irritating; they’re "aggravatin’". You can say anything you want about anyone as long as you preface it with, "Bless your heart!" "Bless your heart! You surely are no good at drivin’ now are ya..."
One of my favorite moments came with our stop at Tinsley Bible Drug & Soda Fountain. This is in the Hinds’ current hometown of Dandridge, which they described to me as "a large intersection". At Tinsley Bible, I purchased some Tennessee Chow Chow – a cabbage, onion, cuke & pepper relish that is very good. While a young gal there was ringin’ us up, well now, an older gal she came along and started talkin’ to us. She said (to her co-worker first, and then including us): "Ya know Ben’s little gal?..well, she been so sick and in the hospital, and she got to cum home now, and she was in her little bed and she said, ‘I got to go poo poo’, so they took her to the bathroom, and then she said, so cute, ‘Hol’ your nose Jesus! I’m goin’ to make a stinker now!’ Now wa’nt that cute? She is a sweet little thang..." Oh! We maintained our composure as we left the store, but once on the street and then in car, we laughed and laughed. It was just like Mayberry RFD – but it was for real!!! Ruby said, "I was hoping you’d get a good taste of it..." I certainly did!
We walked around little Dandridge – beautiful historical buildings and their Revolutionary War Cemetery where most of the headstones are so old the carving has worn off.
We browsed antique shops where the antiques were much older than what we find out here! Neat, neat stuff – all too big to come home with me...too bad! We visited Spencer’s office, and I met all of his friendly staff. I got to see the school where Joy was a second grade teacher last year.Lunch @ Java Garden...yum!
We went to Morristown and spent a great afternoon at the Crockett Tavern Museum with a wonderful tour guide and learned about Davy Crockett’s boyhood home – from the 1790's folks! We celebrated Ruby’s 50th in style with a limo ride to Gatlinburg, gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains. Dinner at the Peddler Steakhouse was delicious. The view from our table there....
We observed Pigeon Forge and the Dollywood entertainment empire on our drive that night...The amount of dinner theaters, hotels, restaurants, tourist activities of all sorts is unbelievable. No wonder Tennessee loves Dolly Parton! She’s created their economy! We even went to Bass Pro Outdoor World, simply because it held the closest Starbucks. :D (While @ Bass Pro, Leslie decided to do some shootin'...spent the first minute shooting before I realized I needed to put in another quarter...then shot & shot & hit nothing...finally figured out I was closing the wrong eye...no huntin' for me!
Still my favorite activity was that every night we sat in their screened porch at twilight, watching the fireflies over the ravine behind their house, and talked and talked...It was just the best!
I loved Tennessee, and want to go there again sometime. I definitely want Randy to see it. But I have to admit that part of it is that I want to get a chance to talk the way they do...I just love that! Bless my heart! I’m getting good at it too.