graphic: Sand Cave, Cumberland Mountains, Virginia Photo by Annette Sorah, Vienna, VA
Appalachian mountain and backcountry lingo, colloquialisms, are used and remembered less and less as modern English speech and writing spreads, most particularly through pervasive mass media of all kinds and also through inter-settling from other areas of Americana, particularly cities, on developments of abandoned farmlands and wilderness areas, as original speakers die off -- their mannerisms saved on archive recordings and in the performances of independent storytellers like Dr. Gary Carden and some of those who regularly frequent Jonesborough Tennessee's International Storytelling Center.
Graphic above: Guineas, seldom raised now but once plentiful produce from small farms throughout Appalachia and elsewhere for their prized, "gourmet" meat and raucous warning of ... anything changing at all. They raise their chicks communally in terms of brooding, warmth and protection and are, arguably, the wildest of "domestic" birds ever experienced, heard or seen.
"a few beans short of a poke" -- not right in the head, crazy, demented, imbecilic
"don't pee down my back and say you're sorry it's raining" -- take responsibility for your actions
"a few bolts short of a working engine" -- brain-dysfunctional
"dumber than toad zits" -- a sack of dried beans has a higher IQ
"I was better. Then I got over it." -- wry country response to health inquiry
"if s/he ain't good enough for her own kin, s/he ain't good enough for me" -- humorous reference to too commmon rural inter-generational, inner-familial, bi-gender sexual dysfunction, i.e. criminal incest and child rape
"knows no truth" --someone who can't discern or relate anything real, authentic and honest, e.g. "Don't ask Kenny or Melanie. They know no truth."
love muffin -- endearment
mountain oysters -- animal testicles
"off his (or her) feed"-- not feeling well
"pond scum" -- regrettably reprehensible criminal element in a community
"sorry" -- bad, low quality, e.g. "Jason was a sorry excuse for a plumber."
"sucks toad zits" -- very bad, low quality, e.g. "This duck l'orange sucks toad zits."
"sucks turnip turds" -- no good, bad, low quality
"talking trash" -- gossiping
"varmit" -- vermin, pesky miscreant
"whistlin' dixie" -- promoting/presenting a lost,fraudulent or fatuous cause/idea
Sign of the times: "A sheriff in Limestone County, near Capshaw Alabama ended up transporting a goat and a dog in his cop car. The goat had climbed on top of a woman's Mercedes when she stopped on the highway for a pit stop. It wouldn't come down and she called police. That's when Sheriff Mike Blakely arrived. He managed to get the goat off the car and into his own cruiser. A dog, that was also on the highway with the goat, followed his four-legged pal into the cruiser." -- Coffee News, 7/27/09
Tongue-twister, or Happy Buddha meditation: Say "cub pup cups" three times real fast without looking (Hint: like practicing scales on a musical instrument, you may have to work up to it slowly)
Overheard in Appalachia: "He's facing over 200 years of federal time."
"He'll be an old man before he gets out." "You sure hit yer head on the nail with that one, pal."
"How long do people usually live there?" "No longer than absolutely necessary, I hear tell."
"Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right, But They Do Make it Even"
-- bumper sticker, Ray Arrowood
THE INVITATION Graphic: Black and White #1, watercolor by Vera A. Jones
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing
It doesn't interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love
for your dreams,
for the adventure of being alive
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain
I want to know if you can sit with the pain: mine or your own,
to hide it
or fix it
I want to know if you can be with joy: mine or your own
If you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the
tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
Or to remember the limitations of being human
It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself
If you can bear the accusations of betrayal
And not betray your own soul
I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy
I want to know if you can see beauty
even when it is not pretty every day
And, if you can source your own life from its presence
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine,
and still be on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the moon "Yes!"
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done for the children
It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came here,
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me
and not shrink back
It doesn't interest me where or with whom or what you have studied
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all falls away
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments
-- c. Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Dreams of Desire 1995