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THE BOOKEND: Goin' to Hancock County!

Dear readers, howdy, how are you this week? I am getting excited because I bought a little cute red car. It will be my adventure car. The first adventure that I plan to have is to visit Hancock County, Tennessee. I have been dying to do that.

My favorite place in the world is as you already know … Tennessee! And especially East Tennessee. I was raised outside of Chattanooga on a mountain. I know Chattanooga like the back of my hand, the spirit of Chattanooga is old Southern money, and is very sophisticated.

My daughters thrive there. They whip around the city, enjoying coffee shops and five-star restaurants. They take me with them when I’m visiting. I have a blast! But I am like the story of the city mouse and the country mouse, I am more the country mouse and am anxious to get back home to the country.

As I get older I much prefer the country, slower pace of East Tennessee. Give me some fried okra and mashed potatoes and I am one content little girl. I prefer my life to be like a slow sweet country song. A good day for me is a view from one of our breathtaking rural mountains, do you agree?

I love the precious nature of country people. People that run little farms and call their family everyday just to say, ‘Hi, just checkin’ on y’all to see how you are” Just like my Aunt Zada, my Uncle Lowell and my Aunt Norma, they are in their 70s and 80s, brother and sisters and connected every single day.

Joy to me is red clay dirt on Hwy. 93 on my way to Aunt Zada’s. Rolling farmland that my family either farmed or were friends with the people who farmed it. It is the heat hanging in the air on a July summer day. It is sweet tea on ice sipped through out my day. This country is in my blood. I always feel sorry for folks that aren’t connected to the land here. Part of my life has been like the Blake Shelton song, “I Lived it.”

I thought I would share some of the places that are dear to my heart so maybe you can visit them again or visit them for the first time. I’ll play tour guide and hopefully put these places straight into your heart dear reader.

If you want to feel Tennessee proud, and connected to the beauty then you need to see Viking Mountain in Greene County. Laws a mercy, that is one high mountain. If you have a fear of heights I would not go. The road that goes up it is nine miles, yes, you read that right, nine miles. You will need a vehicle that will do this road, preferably a truck or a four-wheel drive. At the bottom of the mountain you begin to wind up the mountain on the blacktop part, through a hardwood forest with evergreens. You’ll see several log cabins along the way. It isn’t long before you run into the gravel part of the road. I would recommend a slow accent because on many parts of the road there is only room for one car. The drop off is treacherous.

The drive seems to take forever, once you reach the summit the view is breathtaking. I like to stand there and reflect on who in history summited this mountain, the Cherokee? Our Scotch-Irish settlers? Davy Crockett was from this county; I feel sure with as fearless as he was that he was at the top. Maybe even while he was hunting a bear or two.

After your slow decent down this mountain you might be hungry from the fresh air. On the Asheville Highway, which you’ll need to take home there is a great restaurant called, “Ma and Pa’s.” It has good old southern cooking. The Band Perry likes to eat there when they are home visiting their parents. They are all from Greene County. My Uncle Lowell likes to eat there and has taken me. Ya’ll stop in there, you might have a celebrity sighting!

Well, I will write about some more Tennessee things to do in upcoming columns. Until next time dear reader’s, have a beautiful week, and have a literary week.

DAVID CARROLL: Confessions of a lifelong hugger

True confession: I am a hugger. There, I said it. It is out in the open.

There are only two sides to this debate. Pro-huggers will react to this by saying, “Well, good for you! There’s nothing better than a good hug!”

Anti-huggers are more likely to say, “Eeewwww.”

I cannot explain why I am a hugger. I don’t remember how it started. Maybe I got a lot of hugs when I was little, and I liked that. I am an equal opportunity hugger. Young, old, male, female. Watch out. If you’re in my zip code, you might get hugged.

I hug my wife, of course. I hug my sons, and thankfully, they hug back. I hug my friends and co-workers when they have accomplished something, or when they just need a little encouragement. I hug total strangers who say nice things about my work. Hugs can console, and they can congratulate.

But I don’t hug as many people as I once did. Not everybody wants a hug, and not everybody likes hugs.

I have two co-workers who are among the friendliest, hardest-working folks I know. However, they have made it clear: they reside in a no-hug zone. They consider such contact to be an invasion of their personal space. One is male, and on the frequent occasions when he merits more than a pat on the back, I give him a “virtual” hug. I will approach him, fake a hug, and say, “Here’s your virtual hug.” He smiles, and expresses his appreciation that I didn’t cross the boundary.

Another is female. “I’ve just never been a hugger,” she said. “If I let you hug me, what’s next?” For her, hugs are off-limits, and she firmly lets you know.

The hugging process can be awkward. In my efforts to be more cautious, I will approach a woman I haven’t seen in a while, and offer a handshake. Sometimes that gesture is accepted graciously with no incident. But what if she expects a hug, and is insulted when one is not given? “What? I don’t get a hug?” That leaves me feeling like a jerk, because truth be told, I wanted a hug too. I just wasn’t totally sure the feeling was mutual. Of course, I’ve been on the other end of that quandary too: expecting a hug, and then settling for a handshake. It is a letdown.

You have surely noticed the different types of hugs. We hug a friend or relative like we mean it: a full-bodied, affectionate hug. For a more casual acquaintance, there’s the neck-hug. For someone you don’t know that well, there’s the side-hug. Our “guy” friends get the bro-hug. The most embarrassing hug is the head-knock. Neither side is sure what to do, so in the midst of all the clumsiness, while trying to decide between the full-body, the neck-hug, or the side-hug, your head collides with the other person’s noggin, creating a massive headache for everyone involved.

Much like a handshake, your fellow hugger can either commit to the hug, or leave you limp. (And there’s nothing worse than a limp handshake). Most people know how to hug appropriately. Firm, yet gentle. Brief, yet meaningful. Still, there are potential surprises. One of my most memorable hugs happened a few years ago. On the scene of a news story, an attractive young reporter from a competing station greeted me warmly. I barely knew her, but soon became very familiar with her. As I offered my hand, she pulled me in for a bone-crushing hug. She was about half my size, but mercy, she was strong. That’s when I learned the meaning of the expression, “She took my breath away.” When I regained consciousness, I vowed I would be ready for her next time. There would be no more sneak attack hugs.

My wife had a similar experience in her news reporting days. An elected official would darn near crush her ribs when he saw her. After a few of those bone-breakers, she learned to head the other way when she saw him coming.

My grandfather Floyd Carroll was widely known as a hugger. He lived quite well until the ripe age of 94. He was cooking, driving, and hugging until the day he died. Maybe hugging kept him young.

When his wife (my grandmother) was alive, I asked her if she was offended that “Pap” was always hugging the ladies. She paused for a moment and said, “No, he’s like that old dog out there. He likes to chase cars, but if he caught one he wouldn’t know how to drive it.”

David Carroll, a Chattanooga news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,” a collection of his best columns. You may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405 or RadioTV2020@yahoo.com.

MY VIEW: Left-wingers' efforts to unseat Trump are gonna backfire

Democrats and RINOs in Washington have totally lost all grasp on sanity and reality.

After two years of wasted time and more than $35 million in my tax dollars and yours on the fake “Russian collusion” investigation, the clueless ones inside the Beltway – including Republicans In Name Only — have now decided they will impeach President Trump.

Geez! Yet another waste of time and money.

What about the REAL PROBLEMS that they were sent to Washington to work on?

These idiots – and yes that textbook definition of the term ... an utterly foolish or senseless person ... fits them like a glove — are now bent out of shape and going into hissy-fit contortions over a conversation Trump had with a leader of Ukraine in which the president asked that official to help look into allegations of alleged improprieties involving former VP Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.

I see nothing wrong with the request. It was totally legitimate.

Biden’s son is up to his ears in questionable junk involving his being named to serve on the board of a Ukrainian gas/oil concern, even though he personally has no experience in that area whatsoever, at a cushy compensation of some $50,000+ per MONTH ($600,000+ per year) … a position which he got while Daddy Joe was then Vice President of the United States.

There are also now concerns regarding his connections to Chinese interests … again, while Daddy Joe was VP and ... did anyone forget, while Junior was hitching free rides on Air Force Two???

Does that not raise your eyebrows as it did mine?

I realize that “Daddy Joe” is now a Democratic candidate for President, and the Dems are steaming mad about Trump trying to “dig up dirt” on their current frontrunner.

Ohhhhhh but … how quickly they forget!

Recall, please, that it was then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, deep state hacks in the Obama administration (from top to bottom, including the Justice Department and FBI) and the Democratic National Committee that not only tried to “dig up dirt” on Republican candidate Donald Trump, actually BANKROLLED and pawned off as the truth the so-called “Steele Dossier” on Trump, which has been debunked from front to end as totally bogus.

My wise old MamMaw would have said, “that’s the pot calling the kettle black”.

As a sitting president, Trump has every right to call for investigative help on any matter that involves alleged wrongdoing or that threatens the security of this nation.

Sorry, Democrats and RINOs, but you are totally clueless and out in left field (literally) on this one.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has called for impeachment hearings because that incompetent, hypocrite’s strings are now being pulled by The Squad – radical, left-wing, liberal, loud-mouthed, uninformed fanatics made up of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Rep. Rashida Tlaib – and certifiable bottom-dwelling nut-job Rep. Adam Schiff, who from all indications, wouldn’t know the truth if it jumped up and bit him in his lying, liberal, left-wing behiney.

A conservative writer whom I respect greatly – Gregg Jarrett – hit the nail on the head in a recent op/ed piece in which he wrote that “Ukraine is just the latest ploy in the ‘witch hunt’ to drive Trump from the White House”.

That it is.

It is more than that … it is nothing short of a blatant attempt to stage a coup to unseat a legitimately-elected President simply because they can’t stand the air he breathes and are so consumed with bitter hatred of the man and his policies that they will stop at nothing – literally – to unseat and destroy him.

As for impeachment, what does the CONSTITUTION say? After all, that’s the only document here that matters.

Article II, Section 4 states that impeachable offenses are acts of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.

Trump has committed no such offenses.

No, not one.

All Trump did in the Ukrainian situation was to introduce to them Attorney General William Barr and ask for cooperation into an investigation … which is LONG overdue.

What scares the pants off the Democrats and RINOs alike is that Trump is no spineless wimp and won’t cow-tow to their ridiculous and childish games.

The left is also scared out of its collective wits that the DOJ under Barr is about to kick the support beam from underneath their little castle of Deep State delusion, collusion, illusion and obstruction of justice and bring that stinking mess crashing down around them.

Personally, I can’t wait for THOSE indictments and hearings to begin!

I have sources in DC and from what I am hearing, the “impeach Trump” crowd is trying so very hard to hide from public view the fact that they are running scared, and my prediction is that when American citizens – true patriots with common sense and intelligence – see through this “smoke and mirrors” charade of fraud, deceit and outright lies, the end result in 2020 will be a landslide re-election for Donald J. Trump.

Factually, Trump has done more good for America in the less than three years he has held office than every president since Ronald Reagan.

That’s no brag, just fact, but you’ll never get a single Democrat or RINO in DC to admit it.

America’s economy is absolutely booming, unemployment is so low that if anyone doesn’t have a job its because they don’t want one, we are a much safer nation because our military has been re-built and strengthened, our taxes are lower, and we have thousands fewer federal “BS” regulations to burden our lives, our businesses, and our pocketbooks.

Trump has done most of that on his own with with no support whatsoever from the Democrats and, sadly, from many in his own party.

He was elected primarily because people were sick of the career politician stooges in DC and wanted an outsider to drain the swamp.

Well, I think we see being played out every day on our TV’s the fact that the bottom-feeding swamp dwellers don’t want their cushy little political kingdom to be drained and their crooked, underhanded maneuvers to unseat one of the most accomplished and determined Chief Executives this country has ever had proves it.

Oh, I know, it ain’t over yet, but when it is, I fully expect Trump to emerge victorious.

If laws were broken, yes, let’s investigate! But let’s begin with Hillary Clinton, fomer FBI Director James Comey and the rest of the leftover Obama “Deep State” hacks, shall we … cases where EVIDENCE and mountains of proof actually exist to justify such inquiries.

I would go so far to say that all of this “collusion” and impeachment nonsense is going to backfire in a big way, and could result in the GOP retaking control of the House in 2020, too.

Donald Trump isn’t perfect, and I’ll be the first to say that, but the man has more backbone in his little finger and a willingness and desire to help the American people than every one of the left-wing liberal clueless crowd of self-serving phonies in DC .. regardless of their party affiliation.

That’s my view.

What say you?