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» Wednesday, November 20, 2013From Country to Christmas to Chocolate
Yay! The cough syrup worked. Yeah, I had to take it, too. At least it has no alcohol in it. Still tastes wretched, but that's any cough syrup. At least I got some sleep, and James did as well.
We had breakfast in again, and shared one whopper of an apple; it looked like a professional-sized softball. Outside it was chilly, but warming rapidly--it jumped ten degrees while we were eating--so I just wore a long-sleeved sweatshirt and tossed my pashmina over my shoulders and across my chest, and carried my light hat, and that was discarded pretty quickly. (Did bring my jacket, and I did need it later on.)
Today we were just going to bum around and check out places we hadn't gotten to yet. When we'd asked the people at the bird store if they knew what hours the hobby store on Winfield Dunn Parkway was open, we heard different things: James heard 10-5, I heard 2-5 (which I thought was weird; open three hours a day?). So we drove out to the needlework place in Wears Valley first.
I am just in love with this place! You leave "Glitter Gulch" and in a mile have even left the trolley stop and the Winterfest decorations behind. Then there is along the road a dotting of antique stores and even more occasional country stores, and even a place on the river where you can have weddings, but mostly it turns into country, with fields covered by round hay bales, divided off by fencing, with the soft peaks of the Smokies in the distance looking like dark blankets laid in folds, occasionally interrupted by a little knot of businesses. The needlework shop is between fields laid in hay bales, with an old barn and a farmhouse across the street. It's a lovely little shop, too, seemingly larger on the inside, mostly cross-stitch. I found "Stony Creek" magazines; I haven't seen them in years! They are quarterly now, and I got three of the four issues for this year. Picked up a pattern of state birds/flowers/trees for five of the six New England States, and a small holly heart pattern, and some plastic buttons that you can put cross-stitch into (never seen those at all), and also a piece of photographic artwork they were selling in the back, a beautiful fall scene (I bought a card of a different scene, with mist on the mountains). I could have bought so many more things: bell pull hardware, boxes with tops made for cross-stitch, scraps of fabric to be used as bookmarks. They alo carried crochet yarn, had a back corner for needlepoint, and when I walked in, there was a display of tatting and tatting equipment. My mom used to tat and it brought back pleasant memories of her metal shuttle snicking in and out as she sat under the floor lamp in the living room. Meanwhile, James had a good read sitting on the comfy porch while waiting for me.
By the time we got back to Pigeon Forge it was lunchtime, so we ate at Mel's Diner, which had great ratings on Trip Advisor. It was a keen diner, all chrome and bright paint on the outside, and someone had painted the big windows with winter scenes: horses and sleighs, drifts of snow, houses with smoking chimneys. Inside there were framed old magazine ads from the 1950s through the 1970s, and tin signs for bread sponsoring The Lone Ranger, radios, motor oil, etc. The waitresses were all peppy and friendly, and we had a great meal: James a big cheeseburger and chili fries, me an open-faced roast beef sandwich and onion rings for me. Everything was delicious, and the crowd at the restaurant seemed to confirm that this was standard. Almost every booth was full, and there were many of them.
By then it was after two (we had called up the hobby shop at ten, and no one seemed to be there), so we drove there. No lights, no nothing. We went on, and stopped at the Incredible Christmas Place for a while. James sat and read his tablet while I wandered about. The Incredible Christmas Place isn't anywhere near as large as Bronner's, but you can get lost in there for a while. There are rooms devoted to various themes: children, cooking, old television, German pyramids and smokers, vintage-looking ornaments, a wall of Christopher Radko things, and also some Kurt Adler, a big room with Nativities, a room of Christmas trees and of lights, and, my favorite, the room with all the Christmas villages. I bought a few things: a prim Santa and a vintage-looking bottle brush tree to go with it, an Irish Christmas music CD, a small Jim Shore sculpture of a cute cardinal, a reindeer salt-and-pepper set on discount (it has some paint chipped, something easily fixed with some paint pots), and a [mumble] for [mumble].
It was getting late in the afternoon, but we decided to check out the Books-a-Million that was behind the strip. The GPS on the phone had a weird hiccup, and it tried to direct us up a church driveway that was blocked off, so we used the regular GPS unit and were directed to the correct place (on the other side of the highway from where the phone GPS placed us--wicked bizarre). Wasn't really looking for anything, but checked out the magazine stand--this BAM had an outstanding one that covered almost the entire back wall of the store!--and looked at the Christmas books. Then I sat down with James at the Joe Muggs cafe and we had some of their "intense dark chocolate" hot chocolate. It tasted like someone liquified a Lindt dark chocolate bar! Quite delicious.
By now it was late into sunset, a fading red smudge on the edge of the mountains. Both of us were running "out of gas," so it was a rather quiet ride home, but I was picking out little details of the Winterfest lights: a mare and a colt romping near a restaurant, the pattern of the "snowflakes" falling on the Parkway, bears doing this and that in various scenes, the long view of the initial stretch of lights in Gatlinburg that wouldn't be visible if the trees still had leaves. Took a last look at the antique store with the extraordinary crystal chandeliers in each of the windows before we turned up the East Parkway.
When we emerged from the car, something extraordinary was above: we've had light clouds almost every night, and have missed the Hunter's Moon everyone else has been raving about. But tonight it was clear (and cold! glad for my jacket I was!) and the stars were picked out above like cold white ice on black velvet, and you could see the flurries of the Milky Way faintly (too many lights from the cabins to make it really dark). Lovely!
Not sure what happened after that. I took Willow outside while James started supper; he was using the leftover chicken breast along with leftover KFC potatoes, some mushrooms and onions, to make a kind of hash for dinner. As I waited, I started consolidating our purchases, and as I did, I started feeling queasy. Perhaps it was the onion rings; I really shouldn't eat them, but these were excellent and not greasy at all. James served the hash hot, but I couldn't eat it. I did have some milk, and some bread, and later some peanut butter on gluten-free crackers. Watched a Nova about long-ranging electrical inpulses called "sprites," which pilots first spotted when bolts of lightning struck the canopies of their jets. Didn't listen very well, however, as I was listening to the BBC on the netbook. They are doing two episodes of a series called The Radio Detectives, and the first two were about Paul Temple and about Sherlock Holmes. (I believe I have one downloaded about Lord Peter Wimsey.)