"They can do exactly what people do in the Haitian slums and hills - organise - and in Haiti, which is the poorest country in the hemisphere, they created a very vibrant, lively civil society, in the slums, in the hills, in conditions that most of us couldn’t even imagine. We can do the same, much more easily."
Jonesborough has been my favorite small town since I attended East Tennessee State University in the mid to late 60s, and I was fortunate to find, through friends from that era, an apartment here on Main Street pretty quickly. It, and the one I rented subsequently, had been part of the old apartment of one of my best and dearest friends (Mike Crowe) where I had stayed off and on years ago, so it really felt like home to me immediately. The town itself is now a National Trust Distinctive Designation, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a Tree City USA town, Preserve America Community, and received the Dozen Distinctive Destination Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation of which it is a partner. It is also well-known internationally for its annual Storytelling Festival, as well as its lively restoration of once decrepid buildings, sidewalks and streets into cheerily diverse and friendly shops, residences and restaurant/cafes with reknowned and enjoyed festivals, live music, library fairs, and town yard sales. During my residence, National Geographic chose it also as one of the 100 Best Small Towns in America. It has received other awards and positive recognition from regional to worldwide sources and, of course, from its resident citizens who are fortunate enough to have all its charms and goodnesses right at our fingertips.
-- Noam Chomsky
I had moved from an atmosphere of provincial xenophobia to one that welcomed newcomers with unsought and unexpected assistance, warmth and welcome. The differences were immediately vivid and enlightening. In the Valley, attitudes of natives -- meaning those who'd lived there for generations -- was that outsiders who didn't know the written and unwritten local rules were just stupid and amusing to laugh at without helping. For instance, in 1983 when I'd nailed up my first rural mailbox, a younger neighbor happened by. I asked him if he thought it was all right; he grinned and nodded his head, saying, "Sure." A few days later a gruff note inserted into the front door of the A-frame notified me officially of what the neighbor knew very well -- that, of course, the mailbox needed to be within easy reach of the mailman's arm as he drove his personal car with its right-sided steering wheel up and down backcountry roads. That atmosphere didn't change during the ensuing 15 years, although there was a false veneer of openness in some venues in interests of luring out-of-town tourists and their vacationing dollars. For that reason also public dissemination and discussion of such problems as air pollution on the Blue Ridge or in the Shenandoah River was frowned upon and muted.
In contrast, on the day in Jonesborough that I wrote out my first rent check, Carolyn Moore wrote down without my asking or expecting it the names, addresses and directions for utility companies I needed to notify. In Asheville, when parking on a weekend, a shopkeeper waved his arms from inside a store window. I thought he meant to indicate that it was his parking space and walked back toward my car to move it, when he leaned out through an open front door and said, "You don't need to put any money in the meters on Sunday! It's always free that day." I laughed and thanked him, of course. One place treats what it considers to be outsiders with subtle hostility and contempt, including frequently in its pricing. The other enjoys and celebrates company and consumer possibilities of diversity from everywhere around the world and does its best to make the area affordably pleasant. Persons, organizations and educational institutions interested in and exploring solutions for problems of environmental degradation are given media attention and affection for their caring concern of the region's natural beauty and bounty, which are recognized as part of its attraction for natives, settlers, and visitors in creating a healthy, viable biosphere.
As ever, I enjoyed the company of my best friend, her husband Joe, their daughter (my Goddaughter) and her brother, Nick -- both of whom were attending ETSU and all of which reminded me of college years quite awhile ago and what I'd learned that had helped carry me through various vicissitudes. I'd been lucky in the two main colleges attended to have, or sometimes choose, "difficult" professors who required a lot of reading with proven comprehension of textbooks and secondary source literature and sometimes other media. I wanted a real education and received what I paid for, and way more since tuition was very affordable, cheap at the time, under the theory that a well-educated citizenry would best serve national interests. Some rquired courses like Biology, Statistics, and Advanced Algebra filled me initially with dread, but I was determined to earn the highest grades and forced the focus and concentration of my mind on understanding the information presented in lectures through copious notes, which help in memorization and incorporation by involving more total physical involvement, and reading materials. In the process, I discovered that stereotypes of women's brain capacity and structure were totally wrong. I loved the sciences and math! They were fascinating. Whole new worlds opening to me for comprehension and examination. Geology and Physiological Psychology blew me away with the intracacies of natural phenomena. And the Anthropology classes of Helen Lewis, feared and avoided by all but the most intrepid for her very demanding reading assignments and class participation, introduced me to cultures and cultural realities I'd never had a clue existed before. Three Philosophy courses including Logic and Ethics presented the greatest thinkers of the ages on the nature of man and community. Without really intending it, I received a very well-rounded humanities education covering nearly every discipline of the arts and sciences, including national, world and mythological history. Perhaps studies in Linguistics and Comparative World Religions rounded it all out for me and directed my attention on two enduring personal interests and explorations.
I'm forever grateful to those professors and universities for changing my life and consciousness, perceptions in positive, experience-enhancing ways and in teaching me how to teach and how to learn. There's no greater gift to give a child or adult than that, in my opinion, along with a mind open to accept or reject with trained attention to detail and objectivity previously unencountered concepts and actualities. So, thank you ETSU and VCU. You, along with many other educational institutions, have been lights in a sometimes very dark universe and world. Our national support by finance and acclamation of that, including student affordability and accessibility which have been declining precipitously in some areas, is crucial to the healthy and progressive future of country and planet. Along with physical health and faith, it's critical to our sustenance and survival as species. As in the Middle Ages with Catholic abbeys, our colleges and universities, denominational and otherwise, may find themselves more and more repositories and guardians of civilization and civilized values in dark times existing now and possibly for awhile to come in the future. Financial support -- including funding of new, innovative and humanely daring research to expand knowledge, understanding, abilities and positive activities overall as individuals and collectively -- from public and private sources is a very important essential to maintain through good times and worse. As taxpayers, voters, and private citizens we can all contribute to and insist upon that.
Soon after moving to Jonesborough, I sent tourism brochures from the Visitors Center to mother along with e-mail letters describing charms of "one of the best small towns in America," with an invitation for her and my stepfather to visit. She responded that they couldn't do that because of responsibilities in caring for their four pampered and cherished mixed-breed canines. A few of their neighbors later took her to Page County Court for keeping "vicious dogs," as one in particular named Candy, although small, is hostile, threatening and a biter. At the time the pack ran loose, but mother promised Court to keep them restrained thereafter and my stepfather built a fence around their heavily-mortgaged property for that purpose. Although still allowed to run free for short periods of time daily, the enclosure generally contained their propensity to frighten and/or attack adults and children. Candy scared me, too, as she was unapproachable except to the extent of barking, growling and making nipping motions, mostly toward my ankles. Generally, mother held her in her lap or beside her on the couch when there was company. Her precious two Pomeranians had been inveterate and disruptive barkers, but not biters, too and, when I would call weekly while mother and George lived in Florida, she spent at least as much time talking to and about them as anything else that might be happening.
One of their Valley dogs for awhile had belonged previously to a neighbor there who accused her of stealing the purebred to which mother replied indignantly that she'd done no such thing. Instead, she'd seduced the dog with affection, attention, treats, and specialties inside her home until finally it chose to stay there voluntarily and permanently, although it was frequently free to return to its original owner. Another dog had belonged basically to the general community of Page Valley Estates. A large, beautiful, black and white part-Collie with thick long fur, Pete stayed with different residents kind of on rotation as he pleased. I believe he wandered off eventually from mother and George, too, to explore other venues and their offerings. Loving and friendly, Pete never treed, chased or killed cats, as other neighborhood canines sometimes did, but lounged in the sun from wild and manicured spaces, roaming lazily also the varieties of his home. Welcome all around, everyone loved Pete.
What follows is an apocryphal tale of deductive reasoning and logical powers exhibited continuously by my mother and stepfather over too many years to enjoy recalling:
After all of the money and work I, and my third husband, had spent on fixing up the Page County VA rental house to be comfortable and pleasant for them -- maybe around between $15k and $20k, although I haven't the figures available to me now -- my bankrupt mother and stepfather arrived there completely broke, without even enough money to pay movers who helped us unload their U-Haul truck and car trailer, so we did. They borrowed more over a period of a few weeks until at $600, I said we couldn't afford anymore, although at that point they had actually asked for an additional $5,000. Mother later tried to repay me with $300, and always referred to that amount later as what they'd borrowed, but I insisted at the time with backup data that they repay the complete and accurate amount. They then asked a few months later for use of my/our credit, refused to agree to a $5 increase monthly in their rent to cover the cost of what they wanted with our purchasing it for them, and quit talking -- but not writing scurrilously and insanely -- to or visiting me. (I was medically one hundred percent disabled by that time with a badly broken ankle.) While waiting to go to Court so many years later on the trumped-up E911 charge, George changed the lock on the roadside door of the A-frame and bought me some cough syrup because I had a terrible cold, both at my request. A month or so later, mother exoriated me terribly for not having repaid them for that or voluntarily offering to do so. It had never occurred to me, in light of all the assistance and generosity we and I had shown to them over the years. However, I told her to take it out of the next rent check. The amount was something like $12.16. She said, as if she was being wonderfully thoughtful and generous, that she wouldn't do that at the time because of obvious problems I had created in my finances by my ex's misuse of property, not paying any bills while I was gone, work disabilities related to the specious charge and bond restriction, and credit conundrums. This is a completely meaningless gesture to someone whose net worth is over $100k and still has considerable credit available to her personally as well as cash funds. Moreover, it's significant to recall that, at the time mother was righteously indignant about my not offering to repay $12.16 and then generously allowing me to keep it until my financial situation was more settled again, she and George were living in a house owned by me and my ex, worth maybe $80,000 at the time, which could have been readily sold (a fairly liquid asset) as it's a desirable and relatively convenient location and the house itself pleasantly remodelled and maintained, so $12.16 divided by $40,000 (my half interest in that joint property) is .000304, and it might have seemed 99.97% probable that I or we would yank the roof off of her head and sell it at that instant. But we didn't. We're forgiving and patient people. However, after Joe Sottasanti was finally able to get the house sale through some months subsequent to my residency legally and full-time in Jonesborough, mother wrote and said she'd heard that A-frame had been sold and I'd received the purchase price for it, so she'd deducted the $12.16 from that month's rent, since I could afford it now and expected me to be appropriately grateful for her patience and forebearance during it all. The only intelligently cognizant response to all that, undelivered at the time, is: Hello, down there. Do you have any functional brain cells left at all? A decade later I saw and heard musician Lightnin' Charlie tell a similar story in regard to a gig in Memphis TN to an appreciative crowd, gave him the $1.12 that he and his band had been shorted, and wished him, compatriot, Godspeed. Hopefully over the intervening years he got more than his money's worth out of recounting the story and regaling audiences with the persnickety stupidity of some ingraciously inane people.
In the mid-60s my first husband and I, and sometimes friends and/or family, visited The Old West (now Highlander) Dinner Theatre way out in the countryside northeast of Johnson City. At the time owners served a hearty, plentiful buffet to relaxed, informal crowds awaiting performances of popular musical comedies and other light dramatic plays. The acting was well-rehearsed amateur local thespians in a homey and accepting atmosphere where the prix fixe included both meal and entertainment. It was one of very few venues for celebrating New Year's Eve and other special occasions. Still extant and much-enlarged Peerless Steakhouse, then isolated amidst miles of farming fields, with its smaller private party rooms and the old hotel downtown, once reputed to be crime central for the region's southern version of the mafia and now converted to low-income housing, were the other two.
Around late fall of 1998, I was fortunate to visit The Old West/Highlander Dinner Theatre again, this time without entrees but with the always brilliant and endearing dramatic performance of my Goddaughter Leah co-starring in "Steel Magnolias." The theatre is now somewhat dimmer, and tiered seats from the narrow back aisle down to the ample stage have replaced some of the food tables and dining area. A full house watched appreciatively through antics to angst, anguish to acceptance as that iteration of a circle of women now known and beloved by many unfolded without noticeable flaw as the audience grew to identify with and care about those southern ladies from rich to poor dealing together with their lives' tumults and triumphs. It's always a heartwarming story to see enacted and to remember, another example of art developing and delivering a message that's universal regardless of race or gender or creed: sticking together and sharing through good times and bad makes the pebbled to granite path frequently fun and, when necessary, bearable for the while. After the applause, bows, curtain calls, and ovations, we clustered to chat and look forward to whatever might be next in the repetoire of drama that speaks to our history, hopes and curiosities about people and places other than ours and ourselves before heading out into the dark weather and to our cars for driving out that country road to the main drag that leads still to Main Street Johnson City.
A few months after moving to Jonesborough, I drove to Nashville on the super-highway to meet Pene Lane there and stay for a few nights in her newly-acquired home in suburbs south of Franklin. A good-natured recipient of jokes and quips about her Beatles-song-related name, she was working at the time, having recently earned a masters degree in Anthropology from ETSU, as Assistant Director of the Tennessee Humanities Council. She traveled around the state in that capacity to collect and organize exhibits of historic artifacts and give lectures about state heritage and the importance and methods of its preservation. Before that, she'd run the University's special, limited enrollment high school, as Program Director I believe, and earlier still had owned a restaurant called "The Soup Kitchen" with her ex-husband.
Pene led me to the Hard Rock Cafe downtown where we had drinks and dinner in its neon eclectic and electric atmosphere before heading out toward the country. She let me examine the runes, ancient Irish spiritual magic symbols, tattoed around each ankle, and we enjoyed the company of her very large late teen son, a man with learning disabilities and enamored at the time of Goth styles and interpretations. Pene herself is small with very long, thick and wavy, deep red hair which she would braid or let fall loose. We talked and drank in her comfortable living room until late into the night and lounged around the house conversationally next day. The following one we drove the half hour or so into Franklin, an old and carefully restored upscale town with a funky, lively, artistic atmosphere amidst the historic buildings, gardens and streets. Spending most of our time in a narrow, deep, two-story gallery of varied and innovative art in many media, we paused briefly to inspect a beauty parlor where the front half was dedicated to antiques and art, while the supply and work equipment were installed on a raised platform of sorts in the back surrounded by ornate mirrors and with glittering chandeliers hanging from the ceilings. After window shopping and store browsing for awhile, we returned to her home for relaxation and celebration generally.
I left the following morning, deciding to forego the highways for scenery and sights along backcountry roads, a choice that ended me up accidentally for that night and next morning near Sevierville and Dollywood in the Smokies and a small town with two non-chain motels and a neighborhood grocery store atop a mountain with a two-lane road and friendly, helpful people. Pene and I have kept in touch off and on since, including a few visits from her here, and through mutual friends. So many years later, after being laid off from the Humanities Council, Pene moved to Georgia, resumed pottery-making for awhile, and earned her PhD there. Her primary interest at that time had become sustainable living environments. Pene taught herself with help from friends to play guitar ten or so years ago. Her interest in kilns and creating ceramics is long-standing.
Very shortly after moving to East Tennessee, I also met and became friends with Carolyn Moore, subsequently renting two apartments from her in buildings she owned on Main Street, Jonesborough, as well as visiting by myself and jointly her home on top of a mountain in Boone, North Carolina. Of the many things we did together, perhaps my favorite events were the Tibetan monks performing at Tusculum College one evening, an afternoon of alternative therapies presented as a fair at the Visitors Center, and services and buffets at the Presbyterian Church. Visiting her 19th century local home, called "The Castle" by some, has always been a treat with its art, antiques and wonderful, humorous and educational company. Very soon after moving into the first, two-room plus bath rental, artist and teacher Margaret Gregg knocked on the door, introduced herself carrying a homemade dish, and came up to visit for awhile on the second floor. At the suggestion of other women who also became friends -- Ginger Stone, Doris Dean, Dorothy Wood and Vera Jones, most particularly -- I took two chapbooks, "Gifts" of poetry and "Senedo Seasons" of short stories and poetry, to the manager of the Visitors Center, a friendly and encouraging man who somewhat disorientingly compared my poetry to that of Maya Angelou and bought up front ten of each to put on display at a $3 per profit there.
My two apartments in Jonesborough overflowed with art, mine and that of other people, artists and antiques, inherited and acquired. In the latter, two-floor domicile I made and hung huge colorful abstract acrylic mobiles because the ceilings were very high, and in one area two-story, as well as propping original canvases against the furniture and walls. Interesting postcards, attached to dangling ribbons, from different destinations also became mobiles here and there. Professionally excellent nudes that my grandmother had drawn, mostly in charcoal, lined the staircases and her paintings, as ever, were hung everywhere. Other art objects arrayed in different places I either inherited or purchased and a few were gifts, including from my painter friend, John Charles, who also wrote poetry and short stories and provided some painting supplies for me during the last year I was there, and recently since I've moved back to the area. I bought a room-sized oriental-style rug, a somewhat smaller handmade and floral designed crewelwork one from India, and some little throw rugs of various colors and textures. A hand-sewn multi-textiled crazy quilt, also from India, became a wall-hanging on the top floor, which was in part my "studio." The tall, old-fashioned windows looking out on Main Street and the southern part of town with mountains in the distance remained without curtains so as not to spoil the view or obstruct daylight and stars streaming through.
For my regular dose of nature in the rough from town I drove west on outstandingly scenic back or main roads to public parks like Davey Crockett to wind along its overgrown riverside footpath by the tumultuously intriguing Nolichuckey on the curling, mountainous way to our other "first town" of historic Greeneville, also in contention with the outpost of fascinating Rogersville for that distinction. Choosing an alternative southerly direction I might aim toward mountain-ringed Erwin, uncomfortably famous for having once hung publically to the death a rampaging and murderous adult circus elephant, on old route 81 as it meanders in two-lane glory through domesticated farmlands and landscaped surburban order to a wild side of the island-splattered Nolichuckey and on to the neatly-maintained forested public boat landing on the river and into the cliffside dirt road leading to the dead end of a private riverfront commercial campground edging Appalachian Trail grounds.
As I became comfortable again with the environs of East Tennessee and met more people, particularly artists and the politically involved, ACR's design brightened and abstracted while the nature of its content broadened. Heather Jett and Carolyn Moore agreed to be editors and introduced me to other regional artists. When Encyclopedia Britannica redesignated the site as a "Best of the Web" covering all of Appalachia with its multiple and varied search engine listings, Steve Cook announced that from Jonesborough Courthouse stairs before a crowd gathered on Main Street and its sidewalks to enjoy artists appearing for 2000 Music on the Square performances.
Maybe a year or so after moving to Jonesborough, Carolyn invited me to be her roommate on a cruise through Alaska's Inland Passage, sponsored and organized by alumni of Appalachian State University, Boone NC, where her husband had been Chair of the Law Department until he died. With some last minute confusion and scrambling, I obtained a copy of my birth certificate from the City of Angels CA for entry into Canada, where we would stay for two nights in the process of meeting and boarding our Royal Caribbean ship. That mode of travel was a new adventure for me, and I was very excited anticipating the prospect, which lived up to its billing of fabulousness. Carolyn's three daughters -- Susan, Diana and Cassandra -- and one son-in-law, Gary, accompanied us as we flew from Atlanta GA to Vancouver BC, via Dallas, and checked in to a tall, modern hotel overlooking the bay with its myriad boats and barges and surrounding snow-capped mountains. Vancouver is very cosmopolitan with signs in five languages (English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese, I believe) and warmly interesting with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants and generally friendly, laid-back people. The atmosphere was great in every way: beautiful, fascinating, lively, and open.
Our top-tier stateroom had a huge floor-to-ceiling window looking out on water, islands, mainland, orcas and seabirds. The main atrium lobby was usually entertained by a small group of classical musicians on a small, very highly raised round podium, and an all-glass round elevator ran up one side. All the windows, and ones along outside halls, were also floor-to-ceiling affording clear and spectacular views. In the formal large terraced dining room a pianist played a grand piano each evening as we ate sumptuous courses requiring diverse silverware. The pieces are placed by stewards to conform to the order of offerings and are to be used from the outside in. Smorgasbord buffet breakfasts and lunches, as well as mid-meal snacks, were set out in a semi-circular, all-windowed and two-tiered room with variously-sized tables and chairs. When the captain pulled up for a scenic iceberg viewing, we gathered there where an informational ASU lecture was broadcast about those awesomely monumental and glimmeringly blue natural occurrences, plentiful in Alaskan waters and on land, too.
There were several comfortable and gay small lounges with views and music, and one large and dark two-tiered one with a performance stage, as well as a good-sized theatre where we enjoyed a pops musical tribute. Interior walls were lined with very good, original art, and one afternoon a well-known professional house auctioned off diversely sized and stylized framed paintings in the central lobby to an enthusiastic passenger crowd. On the top two decks were amply-sized outdoor and indoor swimming pools, the latter of Eqyptian design with angularly-created tiles and wide steps descending into the deepening water. Both were encircled with tables and lounging chairs with stand-up bars. From various outdoor observation decks, we could observe wildlife and habitat as we glided noiselessly by. Weather was pleasant and rarely interfered with our enjoyment of cruise amenities and land explorations. Many of the islands we passed toward the Atlantic side had one or a few buildings erected where homeowners resided in an ultimate recursion from everyday working worlds, urban to rural, of mainlands, countries and continents into the whims and wonders of God and unbounded, unfettered nature.
We all got along well, mingling and separating as we chose mutual and divergent destinations. Every morning, I brought a plate of breakfast foods from the buffet to Carolyn, as she's somewhat older and arthritic and enjoyed extra time to rest, relax and observe the enchantments passing by our twin beds and soft chairs with a table between. Once, when Diana, an Army Judge Advocate at the time (later promoted to General, she retired when her full service commitment ended, returned to university, and became what she is now professionally, a Presbyterian minister), and I were standing by the lobby's picture windows with their couches, chairs and small tables arrayed before them, I asked the name of an island we were passing. She looked at me in some grounded wit and amusement and said, "I don't know, Jeannette. They don't put signs on them, you know." She'd never been there before either. Tall Susan, an investigative officer with the NC state police, put her arm firmly and tightly around my shoulders as we stood together in emergency life jackets on deck railings for a group photo. The evening before, in the Vancouver lounge of an elegant seafood restaurant after dinner celebrating Carolyn's birthday, Susan began to cry as the pianist played one particular love song. She was in the throes of a disorienting and dislocating divorce and unusually, demonstrably emotional. In consternation, the pianist, along with us, soothed and consoled her sympathetically, as he altered his routine to play cheerier and more upbeat songs. We all ended up smiling and laughing instead and enjoyed the rest of the evening. Exquisite Cassandra, a nurse and major in Army Reserves who had served a year in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, was the dressiest of us with absolutely gorgeous designer clothes and jewelry. Her husband, Gary, a musician and potter, remained his casual and humorous, sometimes off-beat self, saying once jokingly as we stood in a line somewhere, "Get out of my way. Can't you see I'm an American?"
The ship made three ports of call at distinct and isolated waterside mainland villages -- rural and farming, cosmopolitan with buses to ride around the environs, and quaintly small-town -- where we walked the sights, including constructed homes and vegetation, on narrow streets, browsed small shops and restaurants, and interacted with residents who spend their long winters in close, mutually dependent and supportive community without the infusion of guests and tourist commerce. Our excursions lasted ten days from which we arrived back in Jonesborough enlightened and exhausted, as ASU generally planned our daily schedules from early morning until dinner including, for instance, a formal Elizabethan garden visit and excursion through one native Alaskan outdoor park with authentic tall and thick, colorfully carved and painted totem poles. Before driving down the mountains from Boone NC, we ate an early morning last meal together with the few left somewhat bleary-eyed from our tour, including the university president and friend of Carolyn's who had accompanied us, at International House of Pancakes.
Back home again, in addition to Jonesborough's Davy Crockett State Park, I also visited off and on the main area river at Erwin's Nolichucky Campground, whose very skilled woodworking owner is a friend of friends. Offering tent spaces, new cabins, and older miniature A-frames for rent by the water or national forest, it also affords easy access to the Appalachian Trail. Both sites have wooded and wild paths by riverbanks and opportunities to slide into chortling or serene sandy-bottomed waters for cool swimming, wading or relaxing on rocks in the heat, busy or unoccupied. Large rafts and colorful canoes pass through the relatively calm waters by the campground for lively encounters with rapids in sight just below. There's a good-sized pond with a fishing ramp, and visiting seasonal waterfowl, for sunning and talking beside and a large covered open-sided building where great area musicians play weekends under the moon and stars to comfortable and enthusiastic crowds.
One day Carolyn Moore invited me to go with her on an automobile excursion to visit with her neice, Karen, and her husband in Asheville NC. Also a friend of Margaret Gregg, Karen had purchased my chapbook Gifts from her, primarily because she liked the love poem "Beyond" so well that she wanted to set it to music on her guitar. The neice and her husband owned a large, modern, sprawling, two-story home built into the side of one of the hills surrounding "The Paris Of The South." They followed spiritually a guru in whose ashram in India they stayed fairly frequently for as long as three months. Although wealthy, the husband was particularly proud of art objects they'd found and purchased inexpensively at auctions, including a very commodious and beautiful oriental rug, which he enjoyed showing off and using.
We talked and ate with them and spent the night in guest bedrooms on the first floor which opened out onto a long, narrow patio and woods. The large main basement room was decorated in one corner with a Christmas tree and some presents. Next morning after breakfast the weather turned wintry and snow began to fall, so we decided to leave in a hurry for getting over the mountains to Johnson City. As we climbed in sleet and snow, more and more cars, pickups and trucks slid off to the side of the old two-lane road, stuck in drifts and unable to navigate the ice. "Can't we pull over and get a motel room?" I asked naiively. Carolyn made a face and explained that there were no turnoffs, no side roads for about 30 miles, of which we'd traversed maybe 10. As she concentrated determinedly on steering her Volvo and talked of various things, I prayed silently and very intensely that we would make it unharmed and alive to our destination. As we pulled with relief onto cleared city pavements, Carolyn commented, "You're a very good pray-er." We stopped at John Steele's for a little rest, hot chocolate, and relating of our adventures before continuing on home to Jonesborough.
As continually uncooperative developments ensued from the Shenandoah Valley, I determined to cut my ties, as I'd mentioned as a necessary intention much earlier to Sam Price, with that area and its residents. The culmination of my life there to date had been very unpleasant, demeaning and difficult. I wanted and intended to put all of that behind me and get on with my personal and professional life healthily and happily elsewhere. It took a few years after moving back to the Mountain Empire to delete completely link references to the Valley from ACR's main static sections, replace them with others from the Appalachian region generally, and cut personal and professional ties to Shenandoah art contributors. Without making an ostentatious or obvious fuss, I worked as diligently as possible on having no contact, or as little as possible, to an area with whose criminal and highly discriminatory directions I profoundly disagree, excepted and protested through every outlet I could think of and increasingly. I couldn't with a clear conscience recommend it for living and working or even visiting as a consequence of my knowledge and experience and became increasingly successful in learning about and representing an area instead which earned, and still does, my highest regard, admiration and gratitude as well as thorough enjoyment.
In the meantime, however, Ron Elliott of Shenandoah 2000 Galleries contacted me about using some of their photographs in ACR with a link to that commercial site. I did use them and suggested additionally that he and his wife, Diane, might write an article about techniques of photography that I believed readers would find interesting. The one result of that is in ACR's archives. Discovering that he had that and one written subsequently published also on shenandoah.com, I objected to their simultaneous appearance on-line, as would any publisher desirous of material unique to it, which is one method of drawing readers to a particular hardcopy or internet publication. There is absolutely nothing unusual about that intention and choice in the world of business, or personally. In response, and rather than responding directly and exclusively to me, Ron sent a vociferously castigating e-mail of objection to quite a few ACR contributors, nearly all of whom were personal friends of mine and absolute strangers to him. None of them corresponded with me in that regard, and Ron proceeded to have the remainder of his articles published on that alternative site instead.
We had no further contact. His behavior toward me and ACR, however, might be construed by a Court as criminal interference in my business and professional decisions by someone with no formal, official or historic connection with ACR, or me personally. I never met or corresponded with his business partner and wife, Diane. As I recall, Ron is an ex-government computer programmer, so perhaps he knows what's been wrong with their accounting systems to date. Maybe he's even one of those who wrote their cost allocation systems misleading and unnecessarily upsetting officials and citizens into believing that the government paid $1,372.13, or whatever it was, for a hammer rather than accessing costs per item with some reference to reality, sanity and standard practices.
Ruth Guitierrez, a native Arizonian of recent Spanish descent and an RN at Johnson City's VA Hospital, volunteers now for Appalachian Voices newspaper. When I had an appointment initially to meet Gary Carden at a well-known restaurant up in the Smokies, she suggested that she drive her commodious van up through that winding vista for the occasion. Ruth raised four children, including fraternal twins, and lives with her husband, a PhD professor at ETSU, in an older home with an upright piano in the crowded, smallish living room on the outskirts of Jonesborough with her chickens and a creek close by. She's an afficiando of native arts, music and spirituality, and a regular attendee of the town's beautiful heritage Baptist Church, which I've also visited infrequently along with a few other local acquaintances.
Arriving at the restaurant having no clue how Gary looked, we asked the hostess, telling her the circumstances and that we were supposed to meet him there. She raised her eyebrows, said glowingly, "He's a very good-looking man with white hair," and led us to a table with the assurance she'd advise him where we were. Both excited at being in Qualla Boundary for the first time, we talked and examined the environs until Gary showed up with what turned out to be his usual fascinating conversational stories, information and courteous insistence on introducing interesting friends and places. After lunch, he led us to a nearby native crafts store to examine their merchandise and to the Museum of the Cherokee with which he is very familiar. We had a wonderful afternoon and arrived back in Jonesborough tired after the six-hour round trip but much enlightened about tribal history, cultural artifacts and current manifestations of that civilization.
On first moving to Jonesborough, the little apartment was meant to be temporary until I secured full-time employment and bought another house, but unpredictable and unprecedented events intervened, including extraordinary difficulty getting the sales contract for the A-frame legally closed by Page County attorneys. The message conveyed to me was that Joe Sottosanti's lawyer had performed finally a heroic and herculean feat in accomplishing that. I have no idea why, as the right of an owner to sell unencumbered property should not be a problem, except that the mental direction there was to erect roadblocks in front of me of every and any kind to anything, large to small, I intended and worked to do. "We're not going to let you," seemed to be the mantra there. "We're not going to cooperate in any detail."
A position I could have accepted with Dawn of Hope, a Johnson City daycare rehabilitation facility, was met with negativity by trusted friends here, so I worked instead on ACR with their approval and support and stayed put at 133-1/2 East Main Street, an address also prominently displayed for contact on the website, until 131-1/2 was vacated by Vera and her husband so I could move across the hall to large accommodations with much light and life streaming in through nearly floor to ceiling windows and a back patio and garden area. The sense of permanence, stability and security a house brings had turned out to be illusory. Even without a mortgage, neighbors and natural environment change, taxes and fees increase, restrictions are erected through zoning laws and other legislation, maintenance at all levels never ends, and general atmosphere, including marital, evolves in unknowable directions. I'd had nine habitations from birth through high school graduation and, like an "army brat," had anticipated the statis of owning my own home with satisfaction and relief, believing that I needed it. The actual origin of my first home ownership was a co-worker at the Virginia Employment Commission in Richmond, who had just signed a contract for her first house and expanded on that daily during lunch hours until all of us felt that we too should have one. It turned out that I'm much happier back in an apartment which is more honest in its subtle fragility, but offers here the joys of good and diverse neighbors, convenience to necessities and events, and minimal maintenance.
Around the year 2000, Johnson City attorney Stan Givens, who'd also represented me here in divorce proceeding, sent without charge for consultation or anything else a letter to my ex-husband proposing a fair and equitable division of our jointly-held real estate: two Virginia properties in Page County and one in Nelson County. In response he received and showed to me a letter from a Luray attorney, hostile in tone, agreeing in my ex's name to those terms with a proviso at the end that I admit to having committed federal tax fraud by signing joint IRS returns previously without my ex's knowledge or consent, implying that I had somehow benefitted from that also, and providing a place for my signature. Shocked and alarmed, as ever, at the continuing efforts to malign my character, motivations, and entrap me in perceived criminality past or present, I thanked Stan for his efforts and dropped the last of several attempts at more-than-fair property settlement that might in any way involve the Valley "legal" system.
Not only had I done no such thing -- had filled out due to their complexity and my ex's educational inadequacies at his plea, direction and insistence and with his complete knowledge and acquiescence along with my showing and explaining them to him before sending in signed forms -- but he had also lived in my house freely without cost for fourteen years, some of that without my permission, and had access to my savings and excellent credit throughout, which he wrecked by not paying any bills at all during the three months he "squatted" there against my expressed will severally but with compliance and encouragement from Page County lawyers and Sheriff's Department employees. In fact, a completely equitable settlement would have turned most if not all of our joint properties over to me for ownership as I had also initiated their purchase, managed their upkeep, use and rental subsequently, and kept their financial records. It is not, however, possible to communicate reasonably with those intent on smearing someone in intent and activities with patent lies. Actually, I did my best in every conceivable way to assist my ex in healthy learning, work and life, going out of my way repeatedly and consistently to achieve those ends with increasing resistence and insistent criminality from others in that pathetic place.
In all three of my marriages, as I believe is common with many, we signed each other's names as a convenience, both being mutually responsible legally and in agreement personally on what we were doing at the time. Forgery, or uttering, is the criminal signing without knowledge of another person's name with malicious intent, usually of theivery. For instance, my mother signed my grandmother's name on some documents following Marjorie H. Scranton's death to transfer investments in ways to avoid inheritance taxes that were also beneficial in inheritance to her and my stepfather rather than to me, my grandmother's intended recipient through decades of formally prepared and signed wills of all her unencumbered investments, properties, and monies -- a fact which was common knowledge among many, including my mother who once hired a lawyer to dissuade without effect my grandmother from that direction, and still is for at least a few still living.
I had met Kentucky-born Ray Arrowood through Penne as the manager of Erwin's Nolichuckey Campground complex, an amazingly diverse construction between the rolling to roiling river, sand-bedded and cliff-defined, and wild-wooded delights of the storied and awesome Appalachian Trail of which Ray, a naturally-gifted multi-instrumentalist who'd played in many bands from high school to private commercial and service-related, had hiked 400 challenging and lofty miles. Part-Cherokee, degreed in Biochemistry,innately interested in the natural world, he recognized easily and plucked ginseng from a nearby sheltered grove for me, discerning quickly beneficent from toxic, healing to nurturing plantlife. A fine craftsman, he'd built his two-story A-frame and its tiered wrap-around decks and stone fireplace within comfortable walking and viewing distance of passing waters and boats. I faltered on the suggestion of moving in with him there, torn between friends and fineries of Jonesborough, and fate landed me in Carolyn Moore's mountain retreat ouside Boone NC, the weekend I'd have had to finalize that tempting ce. Believing it made, Ray left for adventures in British Columbia Canada the following week. A Navy vet, his dream was to design and build a floating commune of houseboats within some friendly lagoon. Dean, spirituallly-inclined mutual friend living in an unusally interesting, secluded modern home in Johnson City where a few Green Party informal and upscale get-togethers were hosted held not agreeing to marry Ray against me in a softly elucidated harangue one day before the Jonesborough Library shortly before filthy criminals in the Shenandoah Valley lied under oath and by false pretenses secured my extradiction there.
Ray had been very much in love with his first and only wife -- a small woman with short dark curly hair and ordinary appearance in photographs -- who inexplicably hadn't appreciated or enjoyed his intelligence, education, wit and humanity, or his natural and enthusiastically controlled talents in romance and the affectionately mindful kindling of flame and knowledgeable fire-tending. He had raised race horses on an Ohio farm and run another business there. The youngest of four brothers, he was compactly well-built with a thick head of gray-white hair and referred to his current favorite musical instrument, acoustic bass, as his guitar. Proficient in software and hardware tech, he ran for awhile an alternative-style social networking site.He described his personal philosophy as "pagan," meaning that he had a native American's affinity with nature as a source of meaningful spiritualty and insightfulconnection.As a Navy (band) veteran of the Vietnam War, he used his G.I. benfits for schooling and medical assistance and emergency housing when his ex-wife claimed and got legally all of their joint property.
My name is not and never has been Dorothy Harris Scranton Gerlach Scranton Alterio Baillie, nor have I ever been anything like her in values or behavior or personality or financial management, nor very much either in skills or education or work experience. She never owned real estate by her own efforts legally until her mid-80s and then with a very substantial mortgage and which she and my stepfather sold with lifetime rights for themselves to my stepsister and her husband around the time of declaring bankruptcy to give them more spendable income. I have owned five, two without mortgages. She dropped out of a two-year college after three years; I have a bachelor's degree with high honors. She and my stepfather declared bankruptcy three times; I never have singly or with any husband. Her highest paid employment was as an executive secretary to a Vice President of Honeywell. Mine was as a programmer/manager for accounting systems at AMS. My legal name is Jeannette Harris Gerlach Scranton Gerlach Marion Howes Harris. It is not an alias and is easily traceable through public legal documents throughout my lifetime. I have never had or used an alias nor had any reason to do so, nor have I ever been "on the run and hiding out" except from Valley criminals in hotly persistent pursuit of various things that belonged to me, including my true identity. They lose.
My legal name by papers prepared and filed by an Arlington County VA attorney in that jurisdiction during the spring of 1984 changed my name legally to "Jeannette Harris," for the sake of simplicity. That is the name I have used privately, publicly, legally and professionally ever since and worldwide as well as nationally and regionally. My physical location has never been a secret of any kind, but rather has also been well-promulgated including on the pages of my website throughout its existence on-line. There is, therefore, absolutely no way I could be considered "a fugitive from justice," although one might say that I have been and to some extent still am a fugitive from injustice at every hand by too many individuals in Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley to count and name reasonably -- from physical neighbors through deputies, magistrates and attorneys to numbers of various individuals in business and government communities. I've always found this perplexing since I was generous, considerate, and helpful toward all with love for people and place and their best interests at heart always. The rationale for nearly fatal and very harmful attitudes and behaviors has never been clearly apparent to me, but they are undeniably true by every documentation and sane knowledge and remembrance perceivable. That they caused mass and irremediable harm over my insistent protests for years to the children and the flowers, also everywhere, is additionally verifiable. It seems to be a place and people set on random and insatiable hatred, of itself in a way and any other who might unfortunately pass through. I wish with all my heart for everyone's sake that I'd never lived or worked or owned property or business there, but I did and there's no escaping all the consequences of that personally or for anyone else. Lies can't prevail forever; they reverberate everywhere and remain in common parlance "a pile of shit" for all to see in its teeming, steaming, ugly and stinking realities of past and present and future too. Killing someone, or trying to, or bankrupting them or nearly, doesn't change any of that one iota. No one can change past lives or decisions or activities. I wish we all could but time/space doesn't work like that really. To quote Shakespeare, "What's done cannot be undone," and to paraphrase my mother's favorite murder mystery novel, that's a place and people best "left to heaven" for its answering, which will not be beautiful or pleasant naturally. Real law just doesn't work that way. It's very sad and very heart-breaking to anyone who really cares about any people or any place any where. There's no excuse or justification, or plea for salvation that could be effective now. It all just is.
For awhile, I became friends with and dated the divorced campground manager with a BS in Biochemistry and part-Cherokee heritage, who had built his own two-story, fairly spacious A-frame with wrap-around decks and stone fireplace close on to the Nolichucky River. He'd been a high school, Navy and private band musician -- playing drums, piano, trumpet and bass -- and a race-horse breeder, as well as a techie. As time went on, he became addicted to an on-line fantasy adventure game with avatars, treasures, and evil warriors to duel and defeat. Once we camped for two nights at the largely diverse and beautiful Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, Kentucky and went to a nearby horse track and betting establishment, where I watched an assortment of characters leafing through record pamphlets and testing their latest theories, since I seldom gamble at tracks or machines and then very sparingly. The beautiful Kentucky scenery was marred repeatedly by mountains with their tops blown off for accessing coal deposits easily. You'd think companies involved would level and reseed the ground so that the land would be pleasant and usable again, even if just hilly and flat, but they don't. Huge, ugly craters filled with rubble and dust stand out on the landscape ever-reminding residents and visitors of corporate disregard for people, animals, birds and beauty. Obviously those executives don't live or travel there, but return forgetfully to their gated communities and pristine golf courses reserved for the very wealthy, but not rich.
When Ray moved briefly to Bellingham WA -- a fascinating, vibrant, historic city on the Pacific Coast, I flew to Spokane, rode a bus north, and stayed for a week, including an excursion by myself across the Canadian border, staying in one of the loveliest hotels I've ever experienced, and a visit through the Native American reserve there, as well as restaurant meals from Indian to organic, sight-seeing and browsing locally-owned shops, and inexpensively convenient and comfortable city bus explorations. The British Columbia resort had a good-sized plank sauna, hot tub shaped like a small lagoon nearby a very good-sized pool with diving boards, an open bar with stools next to it, and a cafe beside that with umbrella-covered tables and chairs. The whole thing was a 2-1/2 story atrium with glass ceiling open to the sky and weather, balcony-lined second-story rooms so you could look down on all that. It was lavishly decorated with lush tropical vegetation of various heights and thicknesses, and the architectural style was Spansih. As absolutely the most gorgeous place I've ever stayed, it was also set way out in the scenic countryside. The Pacific Ocean was probably pretty close by and it was maybe an hour south of multi-nationally interesting, historically and otherwise, and open Vancouver with its snow-capped ring of mountains circling the inland bay all dotted with many, many watercraft from many-storied ocean liners to rowboats, barges to masted sea-bearers, and side streets lined with small shops and restaurants. We also traveled to Spokane one afternoon to enjoy and participate in a well-attended Earth Day info-celebration held within a two-story conference center there, also with a balcony on the second floor overlooking the spacious main lobby area.
Finally, back in Jonesborough, Ray wanted me to move with him to Kentucky but, after an afternoon of my crying while he observed in alternating frustration, anger and mystification, I insisted without explanation on staying where I was. Most profoundly, I felt, saw and remembered Hank and thought, at worst, I'd just stay by myself. Ray left the next morning for his blood family and home state, leaving behind the "good luck" black leather Cherokee necklace with dried chicken feet and hand-hewn crytal inside that he'd made for himself a few years earlier. It's hanging on the inside of my front door now.
One afternoon, wandering in awe and fascination through the Cherokee Museum in Qualla Boundary, an older tribesman introduced himself as one of a few full-blooded elders and began escorting me, with commentary, through his favorite parts of the galleries. On parting in the front lobby, he insisted that I wait while he carved for me a small diamond-shaped light wooden object with features notched into it, which he said was a piece for a traditional child's game. I showed it later to my Apache friend in Jonesborough, who handled it as a special treasure and wrapped it with a piece of supple brown leather for me to keep. On a few later visits up into the Smokies, I showed my "Cherokee passkey," explaining its derivation, to natives who would then share interesting myths and stories of the Land of the Blue Mist and its history. It didn't hurt my being treated as a friend that my best one throughout the past forty years, and my goddaughter, are part-native blood, belief and background.
During much area traveling amidst Appalachia's peaks and vales, I attended the Appalacian Women's Association two-day conference one year in Knoxville, giving me an opportunity to board luxuriously in the center of downtown, meet up again with some old friends -- Pene Lane and Dr. Helen Lewis most particularly -- and explore an unusual and lively historic district and museum. An earlier, pleasantly informal, friendly and felicitous meeting of a few days' duration had been held at a Southwest Virginia college campus -- Pene also in attendance there along with Margaret Gregg and both leading symposiums -- which featured seminars and workshops on regional environmental and atmospheric conditions, the history of labor union creation and activities in the coal fields, indigenous arts and crafts, and live area music. The final lecture to a packed auditorium was given by Jo Carson, a small, energetic, insightful and prolific woman much admired and loved and author of Thieves and Other Sinners on the Bench amongst many, many other works in various media. Invited to lead a workshop the following year, I became too enmeshed in other interests and responsibilities to follow through on that, but it was an excellent introduction to Appalachian concerns and activists here in working toward healthier, more independent and prosperous years in what is now known as The Mountain Empire. Another Knoxville trip in the company of Dr. Frances Lamberts involved federal environmental legislation and policy and presentations by a number of activitist organizers in those areas. A similar trip with her, but to the Smokies, focused on air quality exclusively.
During an ETSU Book Fair, Dr. Gwen Fortune (whose writing appeared at the time in ACR and is now its President and Literary Editor) drove up from the Smokies and stayed for two wonderful nights in my apartment, sleeping on a mattress on the second floor without apparent notice or complaint. We talked and laughed about a wide range of topics and parted with regret. During my last five months in town, Heather Jett (then ACR's Literary Editor whose writing also appeared within its pages) lived with me, and we also had wonderful, diverse, often humorous and interesting times together. She's the next generation down from mine, but that didn't seem to make much difference. Once we drove with her ex-husband to North Carolina to pick up some of her things and clean out her office in the college where she had been an English professor for the past year after earning her ETSU master's degree. All the way home, we three harmonized on songs, mostly folk and some rock, stumbling sometimes on words or music and laughing as we did. When I first stayed with my best friend in Johnson City for nearly three months before moving to Jonesborough permanently, we also sang to her accompaniment on ukelele and both of us playing together her old piano. One pleasant afternoon, she, her mother and I sat on the front brick steps of her home singing in harmony old folk songs and hymns for ourselves and whoever might pass by. Back in Page County earlier, I'd struggled somewhat with sheet music for popular songs while playing the upright piano of John Waybright (OSCR's Literary Editor), as we sang along. Also in that environment, I played the grand piano on its raised living room level for the mountaintop-dwelling artist Robert Kuhn (some digitized replications of whose statues appear within ACR/OSCR), who encouraged and enjoyed listening to classical pieces, appreciatively.
With Carolyn Moore and artist John Steele, among others, I attended one year free evening ETSU classes on Jungian philosophy and psychology, and a few wonderfully interesting and lively party get-togethers at john's house, a Johnson City converted store, wher guests ranged from students to the current Asian-heritage Art Department Chair to recent Russian emigres who spoke sadly and in horrified despair at the condition of their country. Food ranged on the long kitchen table from traditional southern to foreign delicacies while conversation and wine flowed freely around all the innovative artwork displayed. At the last one I attended John, long-divorced father of four sons and their progeny, gleefully showed off the large-screen television and exercise equipment he'd won in a local store raffle. A sometimes crusty individual, he once apologized to me later for a thoughtless remark by referring to himself as "just a fat, old man." An endearing, talented and hard-working one, even in retirement, too.
One evening, John Steele introduced me to his long-time friend and one of Carolyn Moore's, author/publisher Lewis Green, treating me to dinner at Johnson City's Firehouse Restaurant while we got acquainted conversationally. Having written a few sweepingly poetic novels, green had left his job as an Asheville newspaper journalist and devoted himself to publishing a frenetic weekly "rag" full of polemics against his church there for allowing the absorption of gay congregants. His earlier insightful humanity had narrowed to a somewhat incoherent near-vendetta against what he saw as the unraveling of tradition, meaning and values. Twenty-first century clashes and conflicts in his hometown had scattered his mind just as had been "the proud" in his best book.
In the midst of all these enticing and exciting ground activities, I was still gathering material, creating graphics and writing, mostly for ACR monthly updates. Over lunch one afternoon, Frances Lambert's ex-husband, a Johnson City Press reporter and sometimes ACR writer, commented, "You have a big ego," which surprised and dismayed me. It turned out he meant an unusually strong and disciplined mind. We had been discussing fiction writing and my original method of conceptualizing short stories, which was to choose randomly and blindly a word from the dictionary and let it play around in my head for a day or so in creating characters and plot line before writing whatever my mind had finally come up with. That's why an early short piece for OSCR is called "T is for Tides." I probably chose the "T" section and then landed on "tide" initially. I did that not wanting whatever I wrote to relate to personal, present events in my life but to be closer to pure fiction unassociated with intimate current details or public happenings, and to be a shield of sorts that protected my privacy from prying eyes and minds which had no business knowing it. Despite insistent and invasive attempts to destroy that, it's interesting all the personal truths that aren't known widely despite it all because I don't chose to share them, except perhaps with close friends, and because some aren't communicable in the English language, which doesn't mean at all that they don't exist and aren't true.
Essence precedes linguistics, and languages are limiting to the concepts and constructions of the culture that created them, differing each by each in vocabulary and verbal action, as well as delineation. "Wonderful, fabulous, awesome, marvelous, incredible, amazing, innovative, creative, excellent...." We could use more degrees of difference and scope, like the French having 13 or so words for love because it's always been a dominant feature and influence of their history and culture. There are plenty of examples in other languages too of what aspects of heritage have been and are most important to a particular ethnicity and/or nation. In some frustration with my inability to describe adequately in English the behaviors and kinds of people I'd encountered during a long series of criminalities, I began later making up my own words for those experiences with longer descriptions in explanation following each one. They're codified in NOW, a kind of addendum to Chameleon.
During the 2000 Presidential campaign, friends and I participated in various ways. Carolyn Moore, for instance, gave a rousing speech on the steps of Jonesborough's courthouse and, of course, we all had bumper stickers and large Gore/Lieberman signs in our windows. A diehard Democrat, I kept mine up until the final Supreme Court ruling in favor of Florida's original official vote tally. Prior to that, I worked as a volunteer in the Johnson City headquarters, a storefront, calling registered Democratic voters to remind them to go to the polls on election day and asking if they needed rides there. On one occasion, along with other area activist party members, I rode in a chartered bus to Knoxville where bands played, Gore and his family appeared, and he delivered a speech on many topics, including his favorite: the environment, its degradation and the importance of cleaning and preserving it. I also sent a check for $100 to national headquarters to help a very little with the usual staggering costs of advertising and other campaign issue presentations required by candidacy contention now.
Before embarking on her annual visit to Scotland, Carolyn Moore, among others, gave a rousing speech in support of Al Gore -- a personal friend, along with the rest of his family, since he was born basically and occasional guest over the years in her house -- and the Democratic Party from Jonesborough's Courthouse steps. Knowing her disposition, it was quite amazing, inspiring and instructive to see and hear her "rise to the occasion" with strength, eloquence and heart. Of course, she'd had years of practice as a statewide leader, among other responsibilities, within the party and it was probably just second nature to her by then.
On election night an African-American woman friend, who had created and run a Nashville social service agency but recently retired back to her home area due to health problems, and I watched returns come in on giant screens arranged in the two-tiered ballroom of the Carnegie Hotel with other local Democrats. As Florida voting irregularities and then the official tally were announced, she fidgeted and finally pushed her chair back, stood up throwing her napkin onto our table, said, "They stole the election!" and stormed out. I waited with others for the rest of the returns to be counted and drove home in some confusion and dismay. Finally, there was a kind of sad but "chins up" buffet dinner with speeches by local leaders in the large conference room of Jonesborough's Visitors Center, where Democrats had held a cheerier annual dinner meeting earlier in the year. TACA held their regional meeting in the same venue, soliciting input from area artists on new directions and older ones that were working to support the arts and its practitioners in Tennessee.
After the Bush-Gore election campaign and along with other disaffected voters, two of my best friends, a professor of Biology and a Fine Arts instructor/practitioner, in Jonesborough organized a local chapter of the Green Party and invited me to attend with them its first statewide convention, where I was eventually appointed the first woman co-chair. Well-regarded African-American Fulbright scholar and Vanderbilt professor Jonathan Farley, who became a good personal friend, was chosen the party's candidate for the federal House of Representatives from Tennessee. Other local friends accepted other official positions and during Jonesborough Days we had a booth handing out informational literature and selling imprinted green coffee mugs to raise money. Our small monthly meetings were held in a coffee house owned by a community friend and PhD of Philosophy from the University of Hawaii who liked to encourage mental excursions and verbal discussions of various topics. Perhaps the most colorful, if garrulous, member of our group was a retired university professor who had once been an active member of the Communist Party USA and had many stories and opinions to share verbally and on the party's bulletin board. Along with other environmental and social protestors, members of the Green Party nationwide became sometimes targets of Bush Administration restriction and retaliation, including refual to allow their passage across the Canadian border.
In conjunction with many other area activist groups, members of the Green Party attended a protest in Unicoi of nuclear facilities, in the Smokies against air pollution, in Greeneville for cleaning up the Nolichucky River, and in the far southeastern mountains of Tennessee for the construction of windmills as an alternative clean energy souce. Speaking briefly for the Green Party's support of that option, a middle-aged woman realtor in the audience, who felt windmills would degrade scenic views and property values, spewed spittle in my face as she engaged close up in enraged rhetoric against "outsiders" inserting their opinions into local concerns. I was in the company of friends distributing pamphlets and handouts in the lobby outside of the large and full town meeting room where representatives from the electric company presented their opposition to wind power. We survived the occasional onslaughts from them and some citizens with relative surprise and good humor as we shared stories on our way riding home.
As a volunteer for Jonesborough's small and excellent historical museum, housed in the Visitor's Center and with a minimal admittance fee, my favorite fund-raising projects were working on the road tour of older area homes and a celebratory exhibit featuring African-American musicians playing traditional instruments including drums. The tour involved soliciting, securing and scheduling greeters and guides at each home where the owner had agreed to an open house for that occasion. A map was provided to those who bought tickets as the venues were widespread, including a country house converted to an eclectic and cozy gourmet restaurant. The circuit itself was an opportunity to meet a diverse group of generally wealthy and dedicated preservationists, all of whom were friendly and individually interesting in a variety of backgrounds, genders and family setups. One was a published male author in a rustic converted farmhouse, another a charming, elderly widow -- now a part-time volunteer at the local library -- with a stately, pillared white mansion, and yet a third were a middle-aged couple in the process of restoring their purchased country estate with low-level brook and sculptured landscaping.
A later fund-raising walking tour of downtown sponsored by another civic organization introduced ticket-holders to formal gardens structured and maintained by devoted resident horticulturalists. As part of that, a physician and his Austrian-born wife allowed guests to roam their block-sized and extensive formal gardens nearly eclipsed by a designer tiled and period-style outdoor pool as well as the gabled Victorian mini-castle reminiscent in decor and architecture of much earlier days. For the later museum celebratory event, I first contacted suggested musicians to encourage their donation of time and talent; ticket-buyers enjoyed displays accompanied by posted explanatory notes of area artifacts and history from pre-settlement by Europeans to the present. Both events were very successful in money raised, enthusiasm, and participant enjoyment. The town has a tradition of honoring and thanking volunteers with informal and deliciously diverse homemade buffet dinners where gregariously polite and jovial, involved and cuisine-attentive citizens meet and mingle, sometimes to the accompaniment or performance of live regional music.
Lindy, my only friend here also raised as a Christian Scientist, has been a grade school teacher primarily. A few decades ago she organized well-publicized protests against some unfair and anti-progressive educational practices. Subsequently, she lost that position and let her certification lapse while working with my best friend in an ETSU-sponsored detailed survey of historic Washington County homes and other structures. They had an enjoyable time together exploring and learning more about area architecture, meeting residents along the way too. Funding was cut to that eventually, Lindy re-earned her teaching certification, and found employment near her home in that. She and her husband, a carpenter, raised one son where they live on a farm with sustenance gardens and cows that backs into a winding backroad country hillside. The house is a comfortable two-story rustic restored with a small barn close by. Living in South America off and on during some of her childhood and familiar with Spanish, Lindy earned her certification to teach English and other subjects to immigrant children from Central and South America and did that for a few years until she was involuntarily retired completely during a funding cut. Aside from occasional visits back and forth between residences, we also viewed films at the local multiplex, most notably perhaps "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." She also writes children's stories and keeps in touch by letter and visits with South American friends. Concerned by a stalker, Lindy picked up my best friend one day with the announcement that they were going to get concealed weapon permits, which they did. My best friend shot best of all on the target range, and they both passed the written test. The female chair of the ETSU department for which my Goddaughter's mother works is an official marksman, too, who practices frequently in the woods on her off days and hours away from teaching and administrative duties.
The youngish museum Director became a personal friend, and finally he appointed me Chairperson of Cultural Events, a position he created on the spot. One day, walking down Main Street in a kind of haze from various experiences, I met him coming in the opposite direction. He called my state of mind "The Void" and asked how I liked my new job. I said, "It's great. But I don't really do anything. And I don't get paid for it." He laughed and said, "That's next."
Friend and expert licensed massage therapist Chris Mysinger did her best to lower my stress levels over those years with great company and gifts of her educated talents with a clay bath, which draws out bodily toxins, on the acreage of her country home overlooking southern mountains, and a massage, steam bath, and hot stone therapy in her town studio. All are wonderfully relaxing as is the soft music, healthily positive and spiritual conversation, and aromatherapy which accompany them. Since my Goddaughter was and is a beloved and well-respected, professional and degreed, long-time starring actress in the region, I attended quite a few dramatic performances in different venues. My favorite was "Steel Magnolias" in a large, old Johnson City theatre with pew-like benches, tables and an elegant old-fashioned ladies room. I also enjoyed with friends wonderful, humorous to serious presentations at Jonesborough's historic Repertory Theatre with its landscaped gardens for relaxing and conversing during intermissions.
I don't remember exactly how I met the marvelously amiable and talented Susan Lachmann, but she was and is a friend of and to nearly everyone in Jonesborough and many in Johnson City, as well as elsewhere. Susan played dulcimer at Cranberry Thistle, Music on the Square, and during an art reception at the ETSU Museum. She also strummed guitar and beat drums in various places and visited me in the two-story apartment conversationally, as well as supporting and supplying ACR with interesting and well-researched articles accompanied by photographs. Owning her own innovatively creative and educational business, she ended up waitressing briefly at Cranberry Thistle and as a teacher's aide in Johnson City public schools due to funding problems before securing more suitable employment, working all the while to pay off student loans from acquiring her masters degree in addition to supporting herself and her daughter. She's had her share of other predicaments, too, including a house that caught on fire and losses ensuing from that experience. In the midst of that, she's managed culturally-enlightening visits to Europe and, as a single mom, has been especially involved in childhood education and health of all kinds. Susan's also volunteered organizational and other efforts to numerous worthy causes, including the well-received Good Goddess art exhibits and Gear Up!, preparing youngsters for educational opportunities. Her "Women On Air" weekly radio broadcasts have introduced listeners worldwide now via the internet as well as through a local station to regional female artists and entrepreneurs of all kinds for many years. Where Susan gets the energy for all this, in addition to family obligations, is a mystery to me, but good women are secretly Amazons when called upon to be.
Birthdays were a special treat and I don't recall spending any alone. One year Doris Dean, widow of a long-time Reece Museum Director, hosted a small party in her art-enriched large home where she'd arranged a fairly formal dinner buffet, wine, cake, presents and photos. Another time, it was just me and Margaret at a table with goodies and wine by the creek that winds by her Mill art gallery and home (or did, before she sold it recently and moved back to Chicago for awhile). Once, my best friend, goddaughter and I celebrated at Alta Cucina's with Italian specialties and wine. There was a dinner in the scenic dining room of ETSU Biochemstry Chair, Bill Stone, and his artistic wife Ginger, who also provided piano tutoring and volunteered as a group leader for Girls, Inc. One year we toasted Doris Dean's birthday in an antique-filled small private room of Jonesborough's Windows-On-Main-Street, my best friend's at Cranberry Thistle, which refused to charge us, mine again, the last one here during that residence, at Main Street Cafe, right around the time Ginger and I also ate there for a farewell luncheon and Chris Mysinger took me to Amigo's on Route 11 for us to say goodbye to each other for awhile, and Carolyn Moore's birthday too around that time at a Johnson City Greek restaurant.
Of many outstanding dining experiences in regional restaurants and lounges, two highpoints stand out as being perhaps the most delightful and unusual. With a small group of women friends, we enjoyed English "High Tea" at Jonesborough's friendly Cranberry Thistle -- run by two sisters and a brother who's an ex-prison guard -- with appropriate brewed leaves and two-tiered tray of homemade pastries, one leisurely afternoon, sitting at a table by the large window overlooking lively and interesting joys of Main Street. The other special treat was Johnson City's Cafe Pacifica on several occasions with small and larger groups of adventurous eaters, where each differing china plate is hand-painted and artfully arrayed with unusual Eurasian delicacies. Each table, too, is also differently constructed, sized and decorated, and there's a small covered porch to the side overlooking brook, lawn, and stands of trees. There are many standouts really, but I'll mention a few in my favorite town for now. Jonesborough's historic, venerated and memorable Main Street Cafe has a mysteriously unique way of finding the right customers, inside or on the outdoor sidewalk tables, after they order freshly-prepared fare from the side counter and its enticing display. It's the traditional "power place" to be some days, as well as thoroughly enjoyable. The Bistro's two-story establishment with small back patio offers a cozy European atmosphere, hors d'oevres and entrees, as well as an ice cream counter, while the new Dogwood Lane by the town creek and its park has an old-fashioned stool counter and serves one of the most uniquely best salads I've ever eaten. Area Chinese buffets offer a wonderfully generous variety, including my favorite food, ocean shellfish. There are many more excellent, original and unique Mountain Empire restaurants where prices are low to moderate and service usually efficiently friendly, as the region supports their originality with patronage and civic encouragement. Another joy of town life is the 24-hour shopping possibilities, conveniently located, from groceries to megastores.
Steve and Tava Cook live in a deconsecrated historic brick church, within easy walking distance of Jonesborough's Main Street, that they've renovated into an unusual and comfortable home. It has high ceilings, of course, and large rooms with a bricked, enclosed patio that opens onto a side street. In the process of helping me with digitized photographs for ACR, they showed me around a little, particularly in the busy room turned into an artisan's studio. They also raise a particularly conformed breed of small canines whom they love dearly and spoil a little. To stock their extraordinary, small but wonder-full art glass shop, they travel out of state to choose original work ranging from very humanely humorous and inspirational to beautiful and spiritually uplifting. Steve is additionally a musician playing bass with whomever he pleases basically, in addition to all the organizational rigors of scheduling, organizing, promoting, "m.c."ing, and securing funds for the now regionally famous weekly Music on the Square during fair-weather months and the indoor winter performance series at the local Visitors Center, always presenting a lively array of musical talent, technique and innovation to appreciative and enthusiastically participating crowds. Tava especially minds the shop and assists in and supports all of their other work efforts. Her niece is the fabulously dramatic and unusually talented singer for The Penny Dreadfuls, an entertaining band that mesmerizes audiences with its interpretive uniqueness. At one time, Steve also initiated the now-interrupted but extraordinarily delightful, diverse and memorable Pangaea International Music Festivals. All of their activities bring in healthy joy for residents, tourists, and town shopkeepers. They're true, dedicated, determined and very special lights in the world, as well as open and approachable -- if sometimes preoccupied with many responsibilities, personal and public -- privileges to know and endow a community with multiple blessing.
One despondent day, after receiving more insanely abusive and disorienting communications from a few people in the Shenandoah Valley, I left a dreary message on my friend Charlie Dyer's answering machine. He showed up at my apartment within an hour equipped with wine, a new digital camera taking a disk-full of candid shots which he gave to me, humorous and interesting conversation, and a pick-you-up dinner at the local Arby's. On my initial expression of surprise at his appearance there, he simply said, "When an old friend leaves the equivalent of a verbal suicide note on your answering machine, you have to rush out and do something real quick to fix it." He had previously treated me over the preceding few years to meals at Kingsport's fairly elegant Moose Lodge, his favorite pizza restaurant there, Johnson City's Olive Garden, and my favorite Japanese restaurant for sushi -- which he can't stand the concept of and doesn't like to look at, nevermind eat, and a popular and well-known seafood restaurant near Boone Lake with its scenic drive from the lowlands halfway up a mountain toward North Carolina. He also provided an evening under the stars sitting on the grass of his building lot in Jonesborough overlooking the lights of Kingsport and drinking wine from a five-litre box, and a few nights sleeping on the couch of his comfortable home with its full basement art studio listening to CDs, watching great TV programs, dining on homemade meals, playing on his computer and admiring the art hung from the walls of his house. Once he brought to my best friend's house his latest woman friend, an attractive 20-year-old who looked like she was going on 14, for about an hour as we kept straight faces and polite, sane discussion going while he grinned and they finally left, after which we collapsed in somewhat stupefied, relieved laughter and giggles. Charlie at the time had a long, gray-white ponytail and owned several rental properties, including a Kingsport church housing an old congregation there, active and involved attendance at his local Methodist church, as well as broker and auctioneering businesses, and his artistic explorations in pen and watercolor. We had all been friends since 1968, and he was the first person I dated after divorce here years ago, meeting at a concert he took me to at Lees-McCrae College in the North Carolina mountains a guitar player, with whom I soon lived for a few years at his suggestion, the subject of a fair amount of good-natured ribbing off and on and bantering over the years between Charlie, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran who uses the excellent services provided by Johnson City's VA Hospital, and me, and some others.
Around 2001, with both of us beset by Shenandoah Valley harassments entailing physical and psychological consequences, I developed gangrene-looking, flesh-eating brownish, deep pocks of various sizes on my calves while my best friend's legs swelled to twice, at least, their normal size, so she could barely walk and gained quite a bit of weight as a result. I treated my condition, which disappeared in a few months leaving no scars surprisingly, with aloe vera gel and body cremes. After many fruitless medical tests, her legs returned to normal size in about a year. With very responsible full-time employment, a house and car, two grown children, three small grandchildren, an ailing mother and mother-in-law, and three off and on sick younger siblings, my widowed best friend has other undiagnosable illnesses now, which entail more tests, medication, and sick leave from her job. My beautiful Goddaughter, also employed full-time and part-time, mother to a young son and wife to her loving husband, with a home and vehicle to care for too, has become prone to anxiety attacks and was recently hospitalized for one. Other of my friends and ACR associates have, and have had, various serious ailments, as the Shenandoah Valley took its toll on healthy and productive lives there and elsewhere with vicious and out-reaching illegalities.
After 9/11 bombing destructions of Manhattan's commercial World Trade Center twin towers and partial blitzing of Arlington's federal government military complex, the Pentagon, some individuals, preachers and ministers warned that God's wrath had been roused by America's dedication to material pursuits and militant expansionism, but most citizens were content to follow the Bush Administration lead of concentrating on Saudi Bin Laden as the ringleader of terrorist expression against prevailing values and directions in America. Incidence of rebellion against those were pursued as suspect worldwide and in the homeland.
Through new structures of training, funding, tracking and containment freedom and privacy of citizens traveling and on/in their own properties and businesses diminished as traditionally accepted Constitutional guarantees weakened and strained. Any criticism of America as she struggled to regain market stability and physical security from attack, along with her image and identity as invulnerably strong, was viewed as unpatriotic rather than helpfully and/or constructively insightful. The suggestion that we might rethink priorities and dedications in light of Biblical law and precepts was ignored or vilified with angry disdain. America was, and was supposed to be "the greatest nation of earth" in every way by preordained manifest destiny. The situation was unprecedented and necessitated as part of its solution abrogation of some principles basic to its founding and previous growth and ascension amongst other countries of the planet. It was war on fronts here and abroad and suspension of civil liberties justified by that exigency.
Racial and other profiling techniques were employed to single out potential threats to internal safety with which alarmed and discomfitted citizens complied in identification, employment and commute. Our focus narrowed to terrorism by internal and/or exterior strategies in targeting funds and effort at locus and eradication. Other threats to national comfort, sanity, balance and achievement were downgraded or ignored. Survival as a physical entity surmounted all other concerns. Our very existence had come into question. That this may have been somewhat blown out of proportion or vengeance exacted inappropriately was an observation unwelcome and squelched wherever it might arise, although our ineffective pursuit and non-capture of Bin Laden has been noted publicly from time to time. He is not, of course, in Iraq nor even most likely Afghanistan, as his traditional bases have been Saudi Arabia and environs there, parts of Africa and very rural and clannish parts of Pakistan.
In some ways we've killed the baby -- America is a comparatively very young country -- to save it, presumably. As a consequence we have witnessed the near-destruction of it as a healthy, vibrant and progressive socio-economic and political environment previously known historically and in our lifetimes -- a generally loved and prized light of responsible freedom worldwide -- as our stature as moral leaders and a commercial powerhouse has declined by prominent rankings down to perhaps seventh among nations organized in this year on the third planet from our sun, one of many in the populated galaxy of the Milky Way and amongst countless in the known and unknown cosmos of God's making. Perhaps arrogant pride in our standing preceded this fall from grace, as it has often throughout history of the human race. Ensuing periods of reflection, meditation, reorganization and reactualization to better-conforming expressions of truth and reality may occur as we work toward being "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" -- a longing and journey toward higher aspirations universally on and for Earth.
Afflicted intermittently by uncontrollable repetition in speech and prose about events surrounding my calling EMERGENCY 911 for assistance, I finally wrote a three-page typed explication called "Spoilers: Killing The Dream," xeroxed many copies, and disseminated it. Hand-written and individualized cover letters apologized for its "lack of grace," since I was dissatisfied with its level of insight and fluidity but felt there was something important for myself and others about the story. Among the organizations to whom I detailed and protested Valley criminality with regard to me and my property in that manner were the Virginia and American Bar Associations, as well as the Association of Women Police Officers. The former replied there was nothing they could do about unsubstantiated charges and the next two never responded at all. Neither did the Virginia Attorney General's office or any of all the federal women senators and representatives to whom I also sent "Spoilers: Killing The Dream," or the Association of Women Police Officers. It didn't matter apparently enough to even send out a somewhat responsive form letter, or maybe none was available, nor did the Virginia or Tennessee federal representatives reply except for that of my local residence in Washington County. The utter disregard of one small business owner's civil liberties and Constitionally-guaranteed protections, or recompense of any kind for harm caused person or property, made absolutely no difference to anyone presumably in officialdom -- except to collude in further silencing, bankrupting and murder if at all possible -- of what is the tattered remnant of our country, and world, led now by none of them most powerfully. We'd become a nation and world run by the criminally active and compliant for money, personal gain exclusively, with no real allegiance or patriotism in the main to our nation -- its history, people and principles. Government officials were busy enjoying the largesse of mega-lobbyists and seeking more perpetuating funds from wealthy campaign contributors, largely corporate. Business executives were too engrossed in their perks and bonuses to care either. No one in the Valley to whom I complained personally responded with any kind of correction, or even support or acknowledgement of reality and facts either. The Constitution of the United States of America was "just a piece of paper," and many were becoming rich and powerful by ignoring it. An employee of the office of my local Washington County federal representative called and sympathized but explained there was nothing they could do about events that transpired in another state. When she asked what I wanted her to do with the piece, I answered, "File it, I guess." In the early spring of 2002, Dr. Jonathan Farley, feeling that the second half dealing with business implications was a separate tale, edited the beginning, which recounts details of the 1997 arrest, deleting a reference to menopause and making the whole sound poetic, and had it published in a few on-line African-American sites with both our names as by-lines. It was also printed in a summer 2002 Vanderbilt Women's Newsletter under the title "Spoilers: One Woman's Story of Violence and Abuse," with a companion article by Sandra Harrel, Project Safe Director, on "police protocols, federal grant requirements and important do info."
Around that time, I had an appropriate photo taken and sent it, along with my completed application for a passport to travel through Canada and a check covering the necessary fee, to the United States Department of State. Within a month, they were returned with the advice that I had "too many aliases" and would have to assemble documentation difficult to impossible to procure for reapplication and approval. I finally received my passport, valid for ten years, in the spring of 2007.
During this residence in Jonesborough, I enjoyed visiting atop the Smokies with Gary Carden and sleeping on his couch in the day room on different occasions as we shared lunches at his favorite mountain-gourmet restaurants, wandered around a shop that carried some of his paintings and books, explored his vegetable garden and barn/studio with chickens and three-acre grounds, watched "Girl Interrupted" on his dining area VCR and listened to Leonard Cohen pluck out his "sexo-religious" (Mike Crowe's appelation for them so many years ago) songs, met with his variously talented friends from writers to one woman sculptor on her beautifully landscaped and gardened, sloping holler lawn, attended live performances of his plays and meandered through his colorfully interesting collection of art books. He loved introducing me to new vistas and once we met in Asheville where he guided me to the Used Bookstore, one of his favorite places, carrying glossily intriguing magazines from around the world, inexpensive to free volumes of popular to seldom-found literature, and interesting regional paintings hanging crowded on its walls. All the while we talked, despite his hearing loss, energetically and educationally about life, literature and philosophy.
Carolyn Moore and her oft-times companion John Steele -- well-known regional painter, retired Chair of ETSU's Art Department, and recent coordinator of a Reece Museum show collection -- introduced me to Lewis W. Green, a sometimes lyrical novelist and publisher of an off-beat and explosive Asheville rag. We had dinner together at Johnson City's Firehouse Restaurant, visited otherwise, and he gave me a signed copy of And Scatter The Proud. A signed copy of Gwen Fortune's Growing Up Nigger-Rich went to my Goddaughter and Gary's Mason Jars in the Flood is stored with the rest of my lifetime collection of new to antique literature and art in Virginia's Page County.
Susan Lachman, a multi-talented and wonderfully-directed woman writer, musician, educator, radio broadcaster and creator/coordinator of events like The Good Goddess art exhibits, visited the two-story, too, and became a good and much-admired friend. Three of her original articles appear in ACR and she's also been published in Marquee Magazine. Vera Jones, another visitor and close friend who gave me a few small and treasured remembrances of her art, as well as entertaining me in her country house, received a statewide award around 2001 and was celebrated in Nashville with a very well-attended exhibit and reception by area friends and new acquaintances. Gail Rohrer, another artist/educator, invited me to accompany her to Greeneville SC, a great restored town, where we wandered happy and inspired through their awesome and architecturally unusual museum and collection. One time she called again with a home invitation saying she "wanted to see if Jeannette could come out and play today." In addition to apartment visits and art advice, Margaret Gregg invited me to numerous socio-art happenings including Abingdon's Barter Theatre and buffet get-togethers with friends there, and parties at a riverside country holding in Wise VA of our mutual friend Helen Lewis. It was approached and left by a narrow, winding, dirt-to-mud mountain road with steep dropoffs to the valley below and I babbled non-stop on our trips until Margaret finally asked calmly, "Are you nervous?" No, I'm hysterical. "Maybe a little bit."
Carolyn invited me to visit with a neice and her husband in their high hillside modern two-story home with glorious imported handmade rugs and other art outside of Asheville. They were followers of a guru whom they visited at his Indian ashram annually at least for quite a few years, and she is a musician who once set the poem "Beyond" to music because she loved it, thought it was awesome and inspiring. In addition to many back and forth visits between residences, Ginger Stone invited me twice to accompany her to the family's childhood home in Parkersburg WV at the very northwestern tip of that state with a wonderful river convergence and old, empty and abandoned mansions lined back with their expansive lawns from an original main street. We stopped at New River Gorge once, an incredible site, on the extraordinarily scenic drive there, attended introduction of a new symphony to and for America by a regionally famous composer, and participated in the crowded and festive home marriage of one of her neices and reception following that.
In the early summer of 2001, the Bush Secretary of the Interior was scheduled to speak atop the Smokies at Klingman's Dome. Various Appalachian environmental groups planned a protest meeting there and march to garner media attention for increasing pollution, lack of visibility, and harm to the most diverse and oldest biosphere on the planet -- and one of the most storied along with Tibet for its continuous human habitation and spirituality. Frances Lamberts invited me to go with her, and Carolyn Moore warned that, due to the visiting federal dignitary, the FBI would be there and taking names at the very least and watching us carefully. She disapproved, frowning and shaking her head, and wanted me to stay home safe in Jonesborough. I'm not sure I believe the information, had other friends making the trip also -- some of whom I'd met at an earlier friendly and generally non-confrontational protest against nuclear waste disposal methods near Lindy's home -- and enjoyed the drive there and back with Frances and me chatting all the way.
Being Natural Resources Chair for the League of Women Voters in Washington County for many years, and with a doctorate in clinical psychology, Frances is a font of background data about environment and experience, an enlightened humanist raised within West Germany's countryside. A few times at her request I "babysat" her one-acre eco-example of how one might live in beautifully interesting harmony with nature on a suburban lot, tended her two sheep and the mating ducks at home in their constructed pond by terraced raised vegetable beds and an orchard of fruit and nut treets, and settled comfortably into her contemporary two-story home heated with a basement woodstove.
Regional media from as far away as Atlanta, Georgia swarmed the event and talked with protestors amongst which were a few Cherokee in native dress offering insight on their ancient paths of living in balance with the natural world. We were provided signs, of course, and a program of fascinating speakers from different organizations and counties proceeded peaceably by the information center building. From there we drove and then walked to the Dome observation area and back, a trek worth the view. Leaders of the amalgam of large and small organizing environmental groups had obtained the necessary permits for our activities, so Park Rangers accommodated us with attitudes that ranged from surly to garrulously sympathetic. Reporters sought more background information from a few for their forthcoming articles which we all hoped would bring more attention and active concern for Smoky Mountain health and that of the environment generally.
Less than a year later, Frances was cited by a branch of the federal government for postal violations -- returning junk mail in postage-paid envelopes provided to business senders as a protest against resource waste and privacy invasion, and as she had done for years. A decade or so my senior, she became visibly nervous, upset and pale in dealing with the unexpected and sudden charges. As a long-time and prominent Jonesborough citizen with many working friends and acquaintances in and out of local governments, Frances spoke particularly wih the town's Postmaster a few times. A somewhat tenuous calm between Bush Administration corporate advocates and environmental activists ensued for awhile; however, the war against our having a healthy environment on all levels makes absolutely no sense to me, including for those who've fought so intrepidly for its maiming and murder. I can't quite believe they're all childless and loveless, but maybe they are. Only those on that unreachable and unreasonable dark side really know for sure.
In the spring of 2001, Dr. Bill and Ginger Stone invited me to go with them to Standing Stone State Park, a wilderness area with cabins and buildings for visitors, in helping to organize a statewide Green Party of Tennessee. Bill had already begun to structure an area chapter, which met at the popular local coffee house in Johnson City owned by a mutual Jonesborough friend -- Dr. Don Garcia whose PhD in Philosophy from a Hawaiian University led to businesses strewn with enticing journals and books and newspapers for clientele as well as conversations -- although that entrepreneur was originally from the North and Florida. Ginger had become an especially good friend with whom I traveled and played piano duets and took painting lessons informally. The drive was pleasant and uneventful and we settled comfortably into our cabin rooms without any problem. A large open building was a meeting and partying place, although on the last day, we met in one divided into a few conference rooms of various sizes. Originally perhaps there were 60 or so attendees altogether but by Sunday afternoon that number had dwindled to little more than two handsfull, from which officers of varying degree were chosen and Dr. Jonathan Farley accepted as the Party's candidate to run for federal legislature. As the titles were divied up, the last left became woman co-chair for the state. I believe I was the only one left without a formal Party position and so it became me. Or I became it. The major functions I was asked to perform were writing letters to media on behalf of the Green Party and its platform, addressing specific issues as they arose on the socio-political horizon, raising awareness and recognition for the worldwide Green Party generally and its main tenets, and occasionally speaking publically as the party's "mouthpiece." Many Jonesborough town citizens from clerks to shop owners were in sympathy with the directions, philosophies, outreach and goals of the Green Party, so the atmosphere was supportive and friendly, as it always had been otherwise. The 2000 federal election had left many, including me, feeling disenfranchised by balloting irregularities, particularly in Florida of course. As luck and incorrigible criminality would have it, I turned over my official position to a young woman ETSU student two years later while being held and drugged by force in Virginia's Staunton facility for holding those the Shenandoah Valley doesn't care to treat in person or property with respect, civility, dignity, legality, humanity, sanity, or decency.
For 2002 Jonesborough Days, Ginger Stone constructed a kind of tiki booth wherein we gave out pamphlets and information to Main Street passers-by, and artist/friend Margaret Gregg was also involved officially, although she later resigned for reasons not totally clear to me since she does and did agree with the general direction of that Party. She's a staunch Democrat, like all the rest initially, and there was some conflict with members and friends who believed that splitting the influence of those ideas two ways is an unaffordable dilution of efforts and energies. Amidst this activity, Luray attorney Sam Priceand his wife Paula presented me with totally unsolicited interference and advice that I "not bother with politics and concentrate on women and children," which was completely inappropriate, out-of-context and out-of-whack with situation and reality. There is, of course, no conflict at all between the interests of conscientious political involvement and concern for youngsters and ecology, the actual basis of the Green Party. In view of my lifelong personal and professional concerns and interests, and current responsibilities as requested and obliged to real, close friends in a treasured community, it was absolutely dissonant and berzerk, really. However, Paula once "sympathesized" with me as being "lonely and confused," so the mirage of my personna and situation -- never once apparently checked against reality in my writing or by asking me directly or anyone else here -- held sway in some dementedly psychotic minds. There was and is now a determination in some quarters to find a dark underside to otherwise popular, loved and/or revered public figures, along with an insistence that intimate and personal details of their lives are of valid inquiry and examination by essential strangers. I am completely at odds with that view, which is destructive and detrimental to healthy life and personal relationships as chosen. I did not choose to know Paula and Sam Price personally. They knew nothing about me, or next to nothing, very obviously and actually never really asked. Once, when I expressed happiness about some personal truth, Paula exclaimed, "Oh! We have to bring you down!" I responded in astonishment and some alarm that I was and am not "a druggie" -- however apparently the concept of genuine, normal comfort and happiness within one's life and friendships generally is just not an acceptable concept with some. It harkens back to the Page County magistrate saying I was "drunk," when in fact I was non-alcoholically joyous about some accomplishments and progress. It is not abnormal, or un-Christian, to be happy for good reasons. It is not the business of the uninvited and uninformed to give unsolicited advice and/or expect that it be taken, since it is most likely errant by definition to begin with.
One weekend, artist John Charles -- having kept me supplied with painting implements and materials like canvas and a box of intriguing oil pastel "crayons" and watercolor palettes ( with which I showed no natural talent or promise) and a stream of uninspiring meals from local franchises like Tastee Freez and MacDonald's --- picked me up for a drive out into the countryside familiar to him from his growing years where we attended a small older white clapboard church presenting a conservative sermon based, again, on the writings of Saint Paul regarding the correct place in society of women, which was in his view quietly and submissively. My couture and coifs tend to be at odds accidentally with the messages of these occasions. Earlier, I'd found myself at another church where the minister expounded at length on Paul's exhortations against the evils of women braiding their hair. Not pre-warned of the topic in any way, I found myself in natural, unintended rebellion all during that service, as the everyday style for mine at that time was tiny, thin braided strands tied with something interestingly native american usually before each ear. John took me then to visit a friendly couple, one of whom was a male cousin, in a comfortable country suburban home for a generous Sunday afternoon buffet-style dinner.
John and I became excellent, close friends and would sit knees drawn and together facing each other, discussing and laughing about a wide range of topics and experiences, on the loveseat by the tall Main Street windows. Like my grandfather pre-Depression, John had lost a million dollars of paper assets in the boom-and-bust bubble years. And a wife. And his house and furnishings. And his hearing, by and large. Once a successful small business entrepreneur in California and the Smoky Mountains and Knoxville, he lived then in an apartment provided by his brother, a local attorney and investor, in return for some maintenance assistance and one weekend set up shop for his self-framed paintings on the streets of Asheville. He also found himself thrown in jail for a few uncomfortable days and evenings on unsubstantiated charges by relatives of his ex which were later thrown out of Court. At my suggestion in return for his friendship and largesse, I posed for a series of bath drawings and paintings which he later rediscovered and found interestingly worthwhile, as has a professional artist friend from Elizabethton also.
Both members of the popular and ubiquitous Wataugua Art League, a regional association encouraging artistic expression and exploration and community exposure through regularly scheduled classes and well-organized, unsually pleasant juried group shows -- featuring local musicians from fiddlers to pianists and long, sumptuous buffet tables of predominantly home-prepared gourmet fare -- open freely to the public at convenienly comfortable venues like Carter County's Sycamore Shoals and Jonesborough's Storytelling Center, they have experimented in styles from abstract through representational, mixed and matched the astounding array of media available now to the curiously adventuresome. This is not a group interested in the kind of financial capitol that Virginia's P. Buckley Moss has made of exploiting in corporation one stylstic approach only found to be commercially appealing but rather an assocation of alert and questioning seekers of meaning and message through personal growth in insight and knowledgeable style.
In most places throughout the country except the rural South, I've used public transportation to get to work and back. In Massachusetts at 17, that was the streetcar and underground to and from Boston. In Manhattan, it was a maze of subways and buses, trolleys in San Francisco, metro and buses in the Washington D.C. area, and buses again in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Constantly acquainted with weather exigencies while waiting at a stop or walking to a pickup station, I shivered bundled up against sleet and chill winds or enjoyed soft, promising breezes of early spring. Fallen leaves lay around my high heels or boots in autumn and I sweltered in mid-summer suns, all the while talking with fellow passengers and frequently jostled amongst them as I sat or held onto an overhead rail or strap. In Richmond Virginia sometimes I hitchhiked or browsed shop windows on my way to various employers, from private like the News-Leader newspaper with its computerized press runs and the two-to-eleven shift through public ones like the Board of Elections with its clunky metal machines and cautiously designed paper ballots.
For work in rural and suburban areas of Virginia, Tennessee and Massachusetts I took Driver's Education courses in each state to pass their certification tests and bought usually small cars foreign and domestic, depending otherwise on friends and family, as well as taxis and airport shuttle buses, for automotive transport. Frequently throughout I walked home from grocery stores laden down with a few too many products and pausing sometimes to regain my breath and rearrange current holdings. Neighborhood pets, and neighbors, got to know me and vice versa through these determined perigrinations as they became over the years less and less common generally. During my childhood walking was the rule rather than exception and always comfortably (or not, depending on temperature and precipitation) interesting and challenging. Amidst the wilderness of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, I walked daily, ground and skies permitting, to animal coops, the river, deadend of the dirt road, its natural salt lick, peaks of the Massanutten and points in between. Life in Jonesborough lends itself to that and it's a blessing in exercise and healthy environmental interaction, as well as a boon when the car breaks down.
Amorphous friendship circles of women coalesced, intersected, and overlaid each other as I met and got to know more and more of them regionally. Most particularly, they included over time my best friend, of course, and Heather, Sherry, Leah, Margaret, Carolyn, Diana, Cassandra, Doris Dean, Ginger, Susan, Frances, Pene, Lindy, Celia, Vera, Karol, Chris, Kay Byer, Gwen, Carolyn and Dorothy Wood, Tava, Helen Lewis, and a group living in the Abingdon VA area. Dorothy Wood, in her late 70s and early 80s, lived in a first floor spacious condominium that had been converted from an earlier two-story brick, collonaded Jonesborough high school building. The ceilings are very high, with chandeliers hanging in commodius rooms and tall wide windows looking out on the hill down toward Main Street. The decor was formal but comfortable and art-y with books, paintings, china and reproductions. Her family is "old money" East Tennessee and her parents owned the well-remembered downtown department store, expanded from a clothing shop originally. Deceased for the past five years, diminutive Dorothy was charming, interesting, lively and friendly. There's a photograph of her at a birthday party Doris Dean planned and gave for me in her artfully-decorated older home one year. She's with her daughter, Carolyn, a live wire and very unusual, somewhat large-boned and athletic-seeming woman, married and living in downtown D.C. with her husband and visiting Jonesborough frequently. Another photograph shows Dorothy dancing on Main Street during a performance at Music on the Square one Friday evening. She dressed immaculately and perfectly without wrinkles and held herself erect, similar to my grandmother really, always poised and self-controlled in a fairly relaxed and natural way. She was a joy, a very intelligent and well-educated woman. I think she may even have written a book on area history. Other times she joined a small group of us in attending orchestra presentations at Milligan College. Doris, Margaret and I were the most frequent visitors to ETSU Music Department's monthly arrangements of guest, professor and student performances in their small theatre and once I even saw an excellent and elegantly performed opera in full formal attire at the V.A. Memorial Theatre.
Toward the end of my stay in the two-story apartment, John Charles, who visited frequently as well as taking me out for meals and events and for whom I allowed numerous natural drawings and paintings of myself there and in his over-flowing two-bedroom Johnson City apartment, created a small imaginative oil of me he called "By The Fire" at the time and then later gave to me titled on the back "The Vision Seeker" with a signed inscription reading, "To my great friend, Jeannette Harris, with much respect," now framed, inappropriately he says, and hanging on the dining room wall of my third Jonesborough apartment.
Being "the new kid on the block" amongst established Jonesborough and East Tennessee entrpreneurial internet techies, as well as constitutionally and circumstantially unable to participate in the viciously competitive and anarchic atmosphere of "the internet boom," I polished up my professional resume yet again to seek and secure salaried employment. Having acquaintances connected with the International Storytelling Center and the Jonesborough Museum, I approached those two exemplary institutions and their equally laudable personnel first, enjoying the conversations as pleasant and encouraging. However, they had no position vacancies at the time. Retaining a fair reserve of savings and property, my quest was somewhat casual, relaxed and hopeful -- accompanied by diversions into music, painting and friendly regional excursions and activities -- until interrupted completely again by Shenandoah Valley and Virginia criminal misdoings subsequent to relentless and mindlessly abusive harassment from individuals in that remorselessly greedy, unsaveable, unreachable pit of hell.
The supreme commandment there seems to be, "Hate God and hate your neighbor as yourself," along with "Hate the ideals and principles of the United States of America as codified," most particularly by quite a few of the Commonwealth's own native daughters and sons (e.g. George Washington, Patrick Henry, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson). As far as I and some others are concerned, the end of the world starts right there where the lawless and loveless "superior white man" with his abused and slavish cupie dolls and Stepford wives nodding and smiling into the Godless and traitorous air there stare into the void permanently. The fact that women have successfully led flourishing civilizations and nations (e.g. Egypt, Britain, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia), armies (France), empires (e.g. Britain, Russia), corporations (Estee Lauder), legislatures and parliaments, religions (Christian Science), and conserved and expanded family fortunes totally escapes those narrow, ignorant, egomaniacal and egotistical, greedy, violent, and profoundly malevolent minds. The same is true in accomplishment, of course, of ethnicities that are minorities in this country (e.g. Cherokee and other indigenous tribes, Africans and Asians). The ultimately pitiful arrogance of "white men" in asserting otherwise, and totally ignoring the real teachings of Jesus and other religious leaders throughout history, in an attempt to claim all the planet's resources for themselves, as well as all those innate and educated talents and abilities did not bode well for this country and the world.
During one of her unsolicited and unwelcome telephone calls to my unlisted telephone number in Jonesborough during year 2002, Paula Price offered the completely uninformed and errant assertion that, "You must be very lonely and confused." In fact, I was at the time surrounded by friends new and old, young and elderly, who gave me sometimes elegant presents, parties, free art lessons and supplies, home-cooked meals and entertainments, supportive and enjoyable company, occasionally gourmet and otherwise good restaurant meals and guided trips around the region, while I was also engaged in volunteer work for the museum, local and statewide environmental groups (Friends of the Nolichuckey, Washington County Environmental Action Group, Tennessee and Washington County Green Party affiliates) on request, and the international music festival and creating artwork from mobiles to paintings in addition to "babysitting" as a personal friendly favor the home and grounds of Dr. Frances Lamberts -- retired Director of Greene Valley Residence for the Handicapped and long-time Human Resources Chair for the area League of Women Voters -- while she traveled to her native Germany and Carolyn Moore's house, called here "The Castle," while she -- a past Chair of the State Democratic Party, devoted mother of three high-achieving daughters (including two career military as well as attorney/minister, R.N., and investigative police officer as professions), and delegate to a national convention -- visited her ancestral areas of Ireland. I was also posing as a model for a fairly well-known and successful national artist, and luxuriating with antique furniture, artworks, designer clothes, fur jackets and coats, and good jewelry while not sharing sexual favors, or even kisses except occasional cordial ones, with any of my escorts and company, male and/or female. John Waybright once referred to me here sympathetically as "poor Jeannette," but I never was really, more inundated with diversions of riches than bereft or neglected actually, living in a two-story apartment with 10' ceilings lined with high old-fashioned windows looking out on mountains and town, for which I paid $500 per month plus utilities, in an historic Main Street building divided from a private home into two apartments, mine with a backdoor enclosed courtyard with raised brick patrio, and two ground level shops. Addendum 2009: Taped to the window glass in the door of that apartment entrance now is a zeroxed copy of Joe Biden and Barack Obama holding their hands up and smiling and waving. Underneath it is handwritten: "Ms. Moore, Thank you for your remarkable commitment to our Party. Warmest regards, Joe Biden."
I had put ACR on "sabbatical" due to some exhaustion in regard to working without remuneration on it and was also inquiring off and of about town employment opportunities and traveling by myself to other areas, including the Smokies to enjoy a luncheon with Kay Byer, now Poet Laureate of North Carolina, and Gary Carden's wide-ranging hospitality and Nashville, staying with Alan and Caroline Ross south of that city in their mountain-view A-frame for a pleasant evening and morning and stopping overnight in an historic Chattanooga hotel to enjoy that city's market streets and fantastic three-story aquarium on the way home. Not a day went by that I recall without the company of at least one good friend and quite frequently a new acquaintance also. After being kidnapped to Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and released, in their view to a homeless shelter, some three months later, I had here a good woman friend, with a masters degree in literature, as a full-time roommate in addition to the other activities and pursuits in arts and entertainment. If all that is "lonely and confused," I wouldn't want to see what "busy and embraced" are. On another occasion, Paula called with the inappropriate advice that I confine my behaviors differently. "Not politics," she said, "but children and flowers." There is nothing mutually exclusive about those three very historic interests and concerns by women, or by men, although it does conform to her area's viewpoint of the "proper place and prospects" for the "weaker sex." Dr. Condoleezza Rice, of course, an amateur concert pianist and Democrat-turned-Republican, had just been appointed National Security Advisor (and would later become Secretary of State, the first African-American and second woman to hold that office) under then-President George W. Bush. On yet another occasion, Paula called but couldn't finish her first sentence, beginning to sob loudly and uncontrollably instead for quite a time until finally hanging up without conveying anything but that misery. Considering her husband's record of attitudes and behaviors toward me, perhaps someone should check on the welfare of his wife also, as well as his ex-wife and daughters, since his abusive criminalities nearly killed this woman, and some others concommitantly.
In June of 2002, I continued e-mail and occasional telephone correspondence with Nancy Rosenfeld, independent book publisher, and Janet Tabin, writer/editor/professor as recommended by Dr. Gwen Fortune who had been published by that house, regarding a possible autobiography and publication of other writing, including of current commentary articles like "Spoilers." Under discussion was one to be submitted to on-line and hardcopy Freedom Magazine through Tom Whipple, with whom I and Dr. Jonathan Farley had also corresponded, entitled, "The Enemy Within." Dr. Tabin had a fairly extensive list of suggestions which centered on abuse of Emergency 911 services: ".... Or one or both of us can engage in the research necessary to ferret out evidence of a pattern of 911 misuse -- knowing that that is going to be a good deal of work.... the mission will be to determine if the 911 system is being widely misused and, if so, to reveal that reality ala investigative journalism.... The 911 issue could be a very interesting and worthwhile project, particularly if your experience is part of a widespread pattern...."
It's obvious from that collection of correspondence and content of "The Enemy Within" that there was at that time, just a few months' prior to my arrest by Shenandoah and Page County Sheriff's Departments and subsequent institutionalization and forced medication for four years subsequent, nothing at all incoherent, unreasonable or insane about my cognizance, comprehension, analysis and verbal cohesion and cogent fluidity. Nor has my message and concern changed from 1997 through 2002 to this moment in conveying incontrovertible verities for which there is an unusually extensive personal, professional and legal documentary trail over those years particularly.
In the late winter of 2002-2003 during a month or so around the holidays, I was arrested three times on warrants from the Shenandoah Valley and Commonwealth of Virginia by Jonesborough police officers. Although the warrants listed harassment and stalking against Sam Price, Hank, and Elizabeth Cottrell as the felony charges, none of those three individuals ever contacted me with a request, direct or otherwise, not to communicate and, in the case of Sam, it was he and his wife Paula who initiated and continued unwelcome and uninvited contact with me, not visa versa, over the preceding months and years. I had dismissed him in dissatisfaction with his services as my official and paid legal representative in 1998 and had no reason or desire to interact with him, personally or professionally, during any time subsequent. I would have desisted from contact had it been requested by any one of the three immedidately since I, if not Sam, am very cognizant of civil and sane laws regarding that and would not have violated them voluntarily. One of the warrant charges brought against me by Shenandoah County in the names of Hank Zimmerman and Elizabeth Cotrell was extortion. It was based upon my repeated suggestion in e-mails that Shenandoah Telecommunications Company and/or its employees buy the real original Valley's home page for $1 million, since they claimed to have it and had caused much financial and psychological disarray for myself and ACR/OSCR's artistic contributors over the past five years. Realizing that they were misconstruing the nature of those communications, I forwarded several copies of e-mails sent also to quite a few wealthy and prominent publishers nationally whom I believed might be interested in purchasing the site also, along with an explanatory note to Shentel of my real intentions and motivations. I also posted ACR's sale proposal, along with some site history, on the bulletin board of Shentel's OTC market site, hoping I might find someone interested and financially able to assume that responsibility there too. In addition to a sale notice on ACR's Table of Contents page, I finally listed it with two on-line commercial sites specializing in the public auction of websites. In other words, Shentel, along with many other people, was very well aware that extortion was not a valid charge. Briefly, Caroline Freedom Ross, now a member of ACR, Inc.'s Board of Directors and a very excellent personal friend, with a few of her artistic/technical buddies took over the site and then returned it to me because of its unusual coding and display technology.
Later, the Page County charges were reduced to misdemeanors but Shenandoah County insisted on maintaining the level of felony of those four, thereby disenfranchising me and negating my Constitutional right to "have and bear arms." The first two didn't handcuff me for walking to the police car on a Friday afternoon and delivering me to the Washington County Jail, where I was mugged, booked, fingerprinted, relieved of my clothes and jewelry, showered, and given a uniform, including shoes, to wear. Driven to Court where I appeared with some others handcuffed and ankle-shackled in the jail outfit of pants and tunic, the Judge approved my release on a $15,000 bond. Returned to jail, two friends put up their houses in lieu of cash. My personal possessions were returned, I dressed in street clothes, and was driven back by them to my apartment within a few hours. The second officer, a friend of a friend, assured me that everything was okay and then read a warrant from the Shenandoah Valley stating that, if I contacted the individuals who had been harassing me despite my written and verbal protests, my bond would be forfeit and I would be returned to jail. The third team of three officers handcuffed me for walking to their police car, I was held overnight in jail on the same charges as before, and released on my own recognizance by the increasingly astonished Judge the next morning, all under the same circumstances as the first time. The Governor's Warrant was served by four hostile and denigrating officers who had been convinced by Virginia authorities that I was a dangerous criminal. They searched my apartment fruitlessly for weapons, rifled through my handwritten and typed papers, taking an arbitrary pile along with my computer (all of which were returned subsequently about six months later, by mail). One male officer looked at my acrylic paintings and commented that I'd been doing too many drugs. When I told him I didn't use any and suggested they test me in any way to prove it, he laughed and said, "Too many when you were younger then."
The guards at Washington County Jail were Amazons, gorgeous women and humane. Once, when I was walking around untimely, one beckoned me over to her stand with an index finger and, leaning over, whispered protectively, "These are dangerous people. You get back in your boat and stay there." They'd let the women in lock-up out for exercise, and the rest of us were supposed to stay out of their reach and way. A "boat" is a somewhat narrow and short heavy plastic rectangle with a thin mattress put on the floor to accommodate over-crowding. The guards could be strict, too. The older, badly balding jailmate who lent me long underwear against the chill was locked down for sneaking aspirin she wasn't supposed to have and walked resignedly toward the thick steel door with its small, high window. In mid-winter, we were issued one thin rough wool blanket each. Long underwear came, with other supplies, by order and price through the weekly canteen. The first day, Gail Rohrer, a retired teacher and friend, walked by to lead crafts with some of the prisoners in a separate room. As she passed my boat, I grabbed her right hand and said, "Tell someone I'm here." The one telephone had been crowded and I hadn't been able to use it yet. Dissheveled and in an unlikely place, she barely recognized me, but nodded her head in somewhat shocked assent. I'd been invited to her home several times, accompanied her on a trip to Greeneville SC and their outstanding museum, displayed her professional artwork in ACR, and her husband, a tuba musician with the Johnson City Orchestra, had played "Melody" on his basement piano, pronouncing it "haunting," once he got used to the unusual key.
Following my extradiction to the Shenandoah Valley, a few artists associated with ACR (Gary Carden, Wil Roberts, Margaret Gregg, John Quinnett, Harold Janzen, Carolyn Moore) wrote beautifully written letters to my two Virginia attorneys recapping background information and pleading to no avail for my release from authorities there. Gwen Fortune sent letters and modest financial support, and John Charles and the Stones, among others, sent inspiring notes and gifts. In addition to handling every day matters of bill-paying and forwarding requested supplies, my best friend endured daily calls from me of description and despair. She said later that she felt like she was there with me. With others, she researched use of the Governor's Warrant, usually reserved for extradiction of mass murderers and others previously convicted and/or suspected of severe capital crimes, and long-term ravages and side-effects of psychotropic medications prescribed. My goddaughter, with durable power-of-attorney since 1997, requested and received all related documents from Western State Hospital to determine the adequacy and efficacy of therapeutic interventions. Chris Mysinger went through clothes in my Jonesborough apartment to find and send some appropriate for Court appearances and comfortable for incarceration, where we were allowed to have two personal outfits in addition to the two jail suits of long pants and tunic. When released from jail, I had two large garbage bags full of accumulated sundries and clothing. Western State gave, rather than lent us the colorful and stylish clothing they provided, and I passed one particularly lovely, feminine and frilly blouse with matching skirt to an area companion that they fit. A Jonesborough friend picked me up, with the two garbage bags for which he bought a plastic covered container, and we stayed overnight at a local hotel in a two-room upper floor suite with king-sized bed, couch and jacuzzi. Before driving the whole six-hour trip south down Route 81 and back to East Tennessee, we stopped at New Market's Civil War Museum and learned some new history from its authentic dioramic displays and explicative notations.
On returning from Shenandoah Jail, Diana Moore in particular gave me an unusually demonstrative long, warm hug and her mother Carolyn took me for lunch at Dogwood Lane, an excellent local restaurant, whose owner is a friend. A few evenings after settling back in to my apartment, Margaret had a small party in one of her Mill gallery rooms with John Lysle, an art history professor friend from long-ago ETSU years and Richmond VA, driving me there and back. When I visited with Beth Yarborough, the strong and inspired minister of Jonesborough Presbyterian Church, we talked and then she asked if it would be all right to pray with me, which we did. She insisted that I walk down with her to the church's basement pantry where she filled for me to overflowing two grocery bags with staples and delights, also referring me soon thereafter to a woman parishioner who might be of assistance in meeting terms of probation requirements that I be employed fully. Frances Lamberts fixed one of her delicious organic lunches and a patio dinner with an out-of-town friend. Chris entertained me at a Mexican restaurant and gave me a steam bath in her studio, John Charles took me to Ryan's -- a franchise chain with an extraordinarily large and varied buffet, and for my birthday Heather and Chris treated me to the buffet, which includes a lot of fresh shellfish, sushi and other ocean delicacies, of my favorite Chinese restaurant.
The jovial and smart Johnson City lawyer who had represented me in seeking successfully a divorce was a long-time friend of friends. I had just visited for a free hour of consultation a short, insightful Jewish woman attorney in Abingdon VA, who advised me to establish residency (six months) in Tennessee and go through the legal system where I lived. For $350, my Tennessee attorney guided me instructively and considerately through the Court process, at the end of which the Judge issued a divorce decree, and later wrote one letter, under advisement, concerning joint property without charging me. Still later, he represented the Town of Jonesborough during a civil suit, which I watched and he won. My lawyer later representing me against Virginia charges in 2002-2003 was a very pleasant and reassuring Court-appointed attorney, also from Johnson City, who led me into a private room off the main chamber and talked with me before the extradiction case was heard and denied, twice, by the Judge, an old friend of Carolyn Moore and her late husband, Chair of the Appalachian State Department of Jurisprudence for many years, who later expressed fascinated interest and astonishment at the issuance of a Governor's Warrant from Virginia, against which local jurisdiction had no authority, and followed closely subsequent events for awhile as more unusual legal precedents were established at the instigation of the Commonwealth.
A newer, divorced, red-headed friend who owned a large house in the county invited me to her parents' home in the country mountains outside of Erwin to celebrate Christmas day, after Page and Shenandoah Counties had already once incarcerated me around the Thanksgiving holiday. Rosemary, a friend of other friends here, visited the apartment a few times during which we had long conversatios about life, love and work. Although she'd had professional jobs while raising two children, she currently worked as a clerk at the newest, large used book store on Route 11E Jonesborough, her home for quite a few decades. She'd quietly "taken a fall" for her daughter to keep her out of jail as an errant teenager, a decision that had caused various dislocations in her experience and interactions over the past few years. Rosemary's plan was to sell everything and move to the beach as manager of the store's planned outlet there. Her parents' home, built into a hillside, was very modern and open. I believe her father was a retired Naval officer. An older friends of theirs stopped by and talked about the year she'd just spent volunteering as a teacher in China -- the material deprivations and spirituals rewards -- as part of an international organization devoted to spreading education and culture. A few other family members showed up, including Rosemary's daughter and grandchild briefly, and some others remained non-communicatively absent. Her mother fixed and served a delicious traditional holiday meal, including ham, and we all talked for awhile afterwards in the two-story-ceilinged living room with its stone fireplace and balcony overlooking it, all glass on one side facing grasses and woods. It was a very lovely and interesting day that Rosemary treated me to during an off-and-on very unpleasant time in my life, thanks to the criminalities and insanities emanating from the Shenandoah Valley toward me and many others, really internationally.
Some authorities tried to keep me from seeing, and therefore knowing, the warrant charges against me, which is of course illegal, unconstitutional. I caught a partial glimpse of one in Hank's name accusing me of, among other things, extortion and harassment, although he had never asked me to stop writing or calling (except once around the year 1999 sending a cryptic email with only a subject title of "unsubscribe," referencing ACR's monthly newsletter, which I honored by removing his name and internet address from the mailing list), nor had anyone else except my mother, who continued in the process to write me and call and write my best friend, tending to elicit responses as her communications were intended to do. She didn't seem to be aware that I'd been issued a legal order not to have any contact with her, crying and saying when she finally got my stepfather to pick me up quite a bit later, "Where have you been?" All the warrants (six plus the Governor's), and that order, should be a matter of public record and it might be instructive to match the signatures on them to those of record for the complainants shown (Sam Price, Dorothy Baillie, Hank Zimmerman and Elizabeth Cottrel) on each. Forgery, of course, would be another in a long list of crimes against me and others and a further blatant violation of civil liberties and due process, as would knowingly framing anybody for crime(s) they didn't commit. It would also be interesting to know under whose name(s) and upon whose signature(s) the Governor's Warrant, usually reserved for those known to have committed truly heinous crimes and not attainable by "everyday" citizen(s), was pursued and issued. It truly astounds me that anyone, or group of people, would go to all this trouble over me, that I seemed that important to go to such extreme criminal lengths in trying to silence and annihilate me permanently but that was, very obviously, the intention and successful temporarily.
During all of that six-year sojourn in East Tennessee, my mother's unwelcome, unsought, and inappropriate professional and personal advice came to me via e-mail messages because she never had, or asked for, my unlisted telephone number, nor did she visit, despite a few early invitations and enticements to her and my stepfather, accompanied by area brochures of events and tourist sites sent to them by regular postal service. She did, however, e-mail and call my best friend quite a few times, including at work, with disoriented complaints and criticisms of which she refused to be disabused by anyone or anything real and true and legal.
After a few months of being back in Jonesborough, I realized financially I couldn't afford to make it through probation as the situation was. Naturally, I couldn't find employment at my age then and with a felony record, on probation for trumped up crimes committed against me rather than visa versa by people who had long needed intensive psychological and legal attention to straighten out their minds and their behaviors in conforming to acceptable standards that have been honored and followed elsewhere for decades or centuries. Additionally, my prescribed medications as a condition of probation cost around $700 a month. Finally I had to admit to myself there was no viable alternative but to give up the apartment I loved and return to the "rental" house I still half-owned legally in Virginia.
I wrote my ex-husband, explaining the situation as well as I could, and stating that I'd like to move back into that place for the duration. He wrote me immediately saying that he'd love to have me back and included his telephone number with a request that I call him, which I did. During the few weeks it took for me to get legal permission from my Shenandoah County probation officer to move there, he called daily and we talked for half an hour or so each time. He has a very pleasant and soothing voice, and it actually eased my mind to hear from him and chat about different things that had happened and how we felt variously about them. He also made one visit to Jonesborough, staying with me while my roommate Heather stayed elsewhere, for maybe four days during which he paid for us to eat at my favorite restaurants and I introduced him to my favorite visiting spots also, such as Erwin's Nolichuckey Campground and Greeneville's Davy Crockett Park. Perhaps a week or so later he returned in his truck with a friend who would drive a U-Haul full of my furnishings back to Page County. With Heather's help, we loaded everything up that I'd packed in boxes where needed, including all of my books which take up quite a few, as well as the furniture old and new and artworks of which there were also quite a number from my family and others I'd purchased or made over the past six years.
At our destination another friend pitched in to unload everything into the spare bedroom which was at the end piled nearly to the ceiling, but I hadn't wanted to rent storage space for any of it in the interests also of not wasting any more money than necessary on a frivolous and vacuous enterprise forced upon me to begin with by completely irresponsible residents of the Shenandoah Valley with absolutely no respect for other's rights to privacy or property or reasonable exercise of freedom, rights codified for over two centuries in the Bill of Rights disregarded and abrogated without surcease or apology by all there for reasons they will need to explain because the genesis of all this catastrophe, destruction of self and property is incomprehensible to me and every other sane person I've ever encountered anywhere.
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