Sunday, July 31, 2011

"The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" Outdoor Drama, Big Stone Gap, Virginia


"The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" is the official state outdoor drama of Virginia.  Now in its 48th year, it is the longest running outdoor drama in Virginia.

                                                    Original painting by William Botts, Jr.

The drama is based on a novel by John Fox, Jr.  It tells the love story of a lovely Appalachian Mountain girl, June Tolliver, and a handsome mining engineer, Jack Hale, from the East.  This is a musical  drama that (to quote the brochure) "depicts the story of the great boom in Southwest Virginia when the discovery of coal and iron ore forced the lusty, proud mountain people into making many drastic changes in their way of life."

" The drama, interwoven with beautiful, haunting folk music, some of it original, is performed before a magnificent 72 foot panoramic painting of the valley."

(For more detailed information, please see the web site listed below.)

As I mentioned in last week's blog post (Please see the Sun., July 24 post.), the drama is dear to my heart due to my years of involvement.  In fact, earlier in my life, my whole family enjoyed participating in the drama for several years.  My father Bill Botts was one of those who helped get the drama started.  In addition, he, along with some other artists, painted the original large backdrop that depicted a local scenic view.  (The  backdrop has since been repainted by other local artists including Nancy Ball.)  My mother Jean was an efficient stage manager for several years.  She also wrote weekly articles about "The Trail" in the local newspaper.  My brother Nick and I have had various roles in the drama at one time or another.  (Nick has played Willie and young Dave Tolliver.  I was Helen Hale, and June Tolliver for two years.)  (Throughout the years, other whole families have participated in the drama, as well.)

While Nick and I no longer participate in the drama itself (since Nick and his family live several miles away, as do Greg and I), we still enjoy performing our folk music during the pre-show one night each season.  This year, we'll be there on Friday, August 26.  Please come by to see us!

   This is a collage I did of some of the scenes and participants in the drama through some of its earlier years.
   (The actors, etc. in the production are volunteers from the surrounding area.)

   The collage is located in the Barbara C. Polly Center for the Arts.  (Below)

Greg told me that he had been to see the drama with his family (from 55 miles away in Tennessee) before we even knew each other.  I was probably a square dancer in the homecoming scene around the time he was there.  It seems strange that my future husband was sitting right there in the audience while I was on the stage, and I didn't even know it!

A few weeks ago, I went to Big Stone and met with Barbara Polly, the show's executive producer (and first June Tolliver), and Susan Herndon (who's in charge of the drama gift shop) to give them some of my coal jewelry and magnets for the shop.  The souvenir shop is full of great mementos of the drama as well as of the area.  Be sure to check it out during intermission!

As it states so aptly in the brochure, come see a "superb evening of family entertainment."  I would have to say that pretty well sums it up.

Also, while in Big Stone Gap, you might enjoy visiting the John Fox, Jr. Museum (not pictured), and the Lonesome Pine School and Heritage Center. (See photo below.) 

"The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" outdoor drama
518 Clinton Ave. E.
Big Stone Gap, Virginia
8:00 PM (Pre-show entertainment starts at 7:15 PM), Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through Aug. 27

Just click on the link below to see Greg's and my latest photos on iStock:

Positive thought: Volunteering in local theater can be a rewarding experience!

Thanks for visiting!  Until next time (Sun., Aug. 7), Becky

Sunday, July 24, 2011

June Tolliver House, Big Stone Gap, Virginia


A scenic forty-five minute drive from our house is the unique town of Big Stone Gap, Virginia where I grew up.  A part of me will always be there largely due to my family's and my involvement with the June Tolliver House and the adjacent outdoor drama, "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" (which is based on a novel of the same name by author John Fox, Jr). 

As it states in the Tolliver House/drama brochure, "The heroine of "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" actually lived in the (June Tolliver) house...while attending school (in Big Stone Gap).  See the restored 19th century furnishings of the parlor, June's bedroom and the John Fox, Jr. Memorial room."

Be sure to browse through the gift shop in the Tolliver house which features items such as paintings, wood crafts, corn shuck dolls, as well as other mountain handicrafts made by the people from the Appalachian Mountain area, and local books.

Barbara Polly, pictured here in the gift shop, is the executive producer and a powerhouse behind the       tremendous success of both the Tolliver House and the drama.

On a personal note, I have prints of some of my art work and coal jewelry and magnets for sale in the shop.  Before me, my grandmother, Mema (Fannie H. Botts) used to sell her lovely hand-painted plates featuring images of the Tolliver House as well as other subjects.

In another part of the house are my original wax sculptures depicting various scenes from my imagination such as ice skaters on a pond.

                                                Greg, Mama, and Nick visiting the parlor.

In the parlor, are portraits which were done by my mother Jean Botts of people who were involved with both the Tolliver House and the outdoor drama.

There are several paintings on display throughout the house, mostly portraits of the characters from "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" outdoor drama as well as a portrait of John Fox, Jr., himself, which were painted by my father Bill Botts.

When I was a teen, I felt fortunate to be one of the original June Tolliver Debs.  As a Deb, I enjoyed taking people on tours of the house while dressed in period costume.  As a tour guide, I especially liked people's reactions as I related a couple of stories which I'd heard about the ghosts that supposedly dwelled there.  (In fact, around that same time, my brother Nick took a picture of the outside of the house in which a large ghostly figure appears to be in one of the windows! The image in this now locally famous photo is often referred to as the "June Tolliver ghost.")

Now, adult volunteers work in the gift shop and take visitors on tour of the Tolliver House.

The June Tolliver House is a fantastic place to visit.  It would be well worth your time!

And, in addition, check out the official state drama of Virginia, "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine," which I'll discuss in more detail on my blog post next Sunday.

F.Y. I.
June Tolliver House
Clinton Avenue
Big Stone Gap, Virginia
10:00AM-8:00PM (Thurs.- Sat., June 24-Aug. 27)
(Days and hours vary on other days and during the drama's off season.)
Call (276)523-2727 for more info.

Positive Thought: Enjoy being a volunteer (like for the June Tolliver House!)

Thanks for visiting!  Until next time (Sunday, July 31), Becky

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Visit to the Smoky Mountains


Greg and I recently spent a wonderful day in the Smoky Mountains (also known as The Smokies) a couple of hours from our home.  The Smoky Mountains got that name due to the often hazy look of the mountains.
We visited the Tennessee Smokies, but they are in the state of North Carolina, as well.

We took several photos of the scenery to give you an idea of the beauty of that area.  We'd like to share those with you today.


For more detailed info, check on line about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as information about the very enjoyable, must-visit Smoky Mountain vacation hot spots of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville, Tennessee.  Bet you'll be glad you did!

Positive thought: "...what is so rare as a day in June? " ( from The Vision of Sir Launfal" by James Russell Lowell)  (or ...July!) (Becky Arnott)

Thanks for visiting!  Until next time (Sunday, July 24), Becky

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Mustard Seed Cafe, Kingsport, Tennessee


Today, it's The Mustard Seed Cafe (in a new location), revisited!

If you liked The Mustard Seed Cafe in Gate City, Virginia (which I wrote about in my April 13, 2011 blog post that I've since deleted), you'll be pleased with the new version in downtown Kingsport, Tennessee.  People seem to be flocking there.  It, apparently, is a very popular place!  As before, the food is good, the staff is friendly, and the decor is lovely.  One of the owners, Debi Tabor (Her husband Glen is the co-owner.) described the cafe as " homey."  I would have to agree.

Greg and I recently took my mother Jean there to celebrate her 87th birthday.  (Next week, other family members who couldn't be with us at the cafe, will join us for another birthday celebration for Mama.)  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal.  Mama had the cranberry chicken quiche with a garden salad.  Greg had the grilled cheese on wheat, and I had the spinach quiche with potato soup.  Sweet muffins came with all of our meals.

To top off everything, Mama was pleasantly surprised when Debi Tabor graciously presented her with a large piece of chocolate cake as we all sang "Happy Birthday."  (They generously supplied the cake [free!], and we supplied the candles.)  Mama kindly shared the lovely confection with Greg and me.  It was every bit as delicious as it looked.

For more menu listings, please visit their excellent web site.  (See F. Y. I., below,  for web address.)

Also, in addition to their regular cafe fare, they have a coffee bar, Seeds Coffee Le Bistro, which has smoothies and all kinds of tasty beverages.

Sam Hoskins, our helpful and efficient waitress, took time from her busy job to fill us in on the latest at the cafe.  (The owners were also helpful in answering our questions.) 

The Zumba classes with instructor Micah, the Tabors' daughter, will not be at the cafe as they were in the Gate City location.  Instead, they will be held at the Gate City and Colonial Heights Baptist churches.  (Please call the cafe for details.)

An area in the back of the cafe can be used to accommodate meetings and parties.

I'm happy to report that starting on Monday, July 11, they will be serving breakfast!  The menu items will include breakfast casserole, omelets, and muffins, to mention a few.

As we left the cafe, with images of croissants and other breakfast treats (which were so beautifully described by our waitress) dancing in our heads, we vowed we'd soon return, perhaps earlier in the day, for another delightful visit.

Other options: carry-outs and dining outside

F. Y. I.
The Mustard Seed Cafe
118 E. Market St.
Kingsport, Tennesse
Phone: 423-765-2940
Fax: 423-765-2941
Mon.-Fri., 7:00-3:00 (Some Friday nights open during downtown concerts)
Sat. & Sun., 9:30-3:00

Just click on the link below to see the latest photos that Greg and I have on iStock:

Positive thought: "Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life." (From sign in The Mustard Seed Cafe)

Thanks for visiting!  Until next time (Sunday, July 17), Becky

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Farmhouse Gallery & Gardens


If you like back to nature, you'll love this place!  Farmhouse Gallery & Gardens is on a 75 acre farm on the edge of a one acre pond in the Appalachian Mountains of Unicoi, Tennessee.  The scenery, complete with a charming covered bridge and seasonal flowers, etc. is lovely, and wildlife (including peacocks!) abounds.

This is a photographers dream!

And, if that's not enough, there's a lot more to this unique place than meets the eye.

It's actually the home of wildlife artist Johnny Lynch and his family.  His wonderful art work is on display and for sale in his studio/gallery which is one of several buildings on the farm.

In addition, to quote their excellent web site (Please see their website address listed below for complete details), "Farmhouse Gallery & Gardens hosts a variety of functions...including company picnics, seminars, retreats, weddings, fund raisers, dinners, dances, festivals and much more."

For your event there, they can also provide a variety of entertainment options including live bands, storytelling, hayrides, etc.

To again quote, "A comfortable and relaxing atmosphere created by nature and enhanced with relics of our Appalachian heritage.  Perfect for any event, formal or informal."

Greg and I always look forward to visiting Farmhouse Gallery & Gardens, which is about 35 miles from our home, to take pictures, and to relax as we enjoy their delicious lunch which we order and pick up from their kitchen window.

The last time we were there, Greg had the bbq sandwich and slaw along with an old-time root beer.  I selected the gourmet grilled white cheddar sandwich with bacon and apple on homemade sourdough bread.  The dessert of the day was peach shortcake.  While dining, don't be surprised if a curious peacock decides to come by to check you out!

Greg has been to a couple of business meetings at their large pavilion which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Yes, Farmhouse Gallery & Gardens is full of delightful surprises, some of which are not even mentioned on this blog post.  You just might want to go discover them for yourself.  Bet you'll be glad you did!

F.Y. I.
Farmhouse Gallery & Gardens
121 Covered Bridge Lane
Unicoi, TN 37692

Gallery and grounds open year round Tues.-Sat., 10-5
Lunch at window Thurs.-Sat.,11-2 warmer months
Events by appointment

Their web site has a map with directions on how to get there, as well as bbq sauce and Johnny Lynch's art work which are available for purchase.

Thought of the day:  Happy 4th! and happy week!

Thanks for visiting!  Until next time (Sunday, July 10), Becky