Monday, July 23, 2012

Going Home to Blue Plum (or, Things I’d like to Avoid)

by Kath Rutledge from Last Wool and Testament, 
the first in the Haunted Yarn Shop mystery series by Molly MacRae
Pub date: September 2012

How does it feel to be back in Blue Plum? You know you’re not the first person to ask that, don’t you? But that’s okay. Nobody means any harm. It’s a throw-away question, pleasant small talk. Maybe a way of avoiding less pleasant talk, like the whole reason I am back, but that’s okay. I’m happy avoiding unpleasant. For instance the Spivey twins If they were to show up right now you’d find nothing but a void right here where I’ve been sitting. That was probably mean, though. I’ll add “mean” to my list of things to avoid, right under “Spiveys.” 

But back to being back in Blue Plum. Do you know where in Tennessee it is? About as far north and east as you can get without being in either North Carolina or Virginia. It’s tucked up in the corner, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The landscape reminds me of an appliquéd quilt with ridge behind ridge behind ridge and each layer of hills is a deeper color, shading from jade to emerald to cyan to amethyst, and the last disappearing into an indigo so black you can imagine infinity.

And the town itself? It’s small, it’s old, the buildings are quaint. It’s laid out along a creek valley and the creek runs behind the courthouse. The sidewalks downtown are brick. The curbs are limestone. There’s Mel’s on Main, the best café your nose will ever lead you to. And there’s the Weaver’s Cat, Granny’s yarn shop that’s so much more. And Ardis who runs it now that Granny is gone. And that’s why I’ve been avoiding really answering your question. You noticed that, did you?

Because I can talk around it. I can get out the maps and the snapshots and give you a copy of the Blue Plum Bugle. Buy you lunch at Mel’s. Take you in the Cat and introduce you to Ardis with her honeysuckle ways. But that isn’t really telling you how it feels to be back in Blue Plum. And that’s because, with Granny so suddenly gone, I really can’t feel. Because to me, Granny was Blue Plum.

Well, now see, ending on a low note is another thing I need to add to my list of things to avoid. Granny had a good long life. She was a spry old thing. I spent most of my childhood summers with her and loved every minute. So let me try again.

Being back in Blue Plum is like being handed a glass of sweet tea and a piece of homemade pie and sitting with one of Granny's cats in my lap. Is that better? Of course, if the Spiveys made the tea it’s too sweet. And if the pie didn’t come from Mel’s it isn’t worth eating. And if it’s too late in the afternoon they’ll both spoil supper and the cat will scratch me. But that’s what it’s like being back in Blue Plum. The good, the bad, and the avoidable.

Okay, the microphone’s off now, right? And you can talk? So, I told you some of what’s on my list of things I’d like to avoid, what’s on yours? 

P.S. You can visit my author, Molly MacRae at her website and read about some of her other books, or find her on Facebook, or follow her the first Monday of every month on Amy Alessio’s vintage food and crafts blog. 


  1. Things to avoid? Heat stroke, stinging nettle, and the gossips down at the Emporium!

  2. I'm not as brave as you are, Kath. I've never gone back to what was once home.

  3. This is going to be a book that will get moved to the TOP of my TBR list. You're talking HOME to me!!!! Being raised in the furthest SW corner of Virginia and just across the state line from Tennessee, I'm sure this is the book/series for me. Can't wait!!!

  4. Sue, so nice to meet you! I passed through Abingdon on my way to Blue Plum for Granny's burial. Isn't it a beautiful part of the country? My author, Molly, lived in Jonesborough and Johnson City before having to uproot and move to Illinois. She misses the hills and hollers!

  5. Great things to avoid, Jaymie! Although gossip can be useful, too . . .

  6. I'm avoiding any and all forms of housework! It's too hot, isn't it? At least that's what I tell myself when I finally notice the cat fur dust bunnies in the corners.

  7. Good plan, Lizzie! My advice? Avoid cleaning until there's enough cat fur to felt a whole new cat.

  8. Uh oh. I believe I know Blue Plum! I'm not too far from there. What do I avoid? Washing floors. Don't mind laundry, though. Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Even though I turn my head and push my shopping cart in the other direction, they insist on jumping into my cart. I don't know how that happens. I try to avoid them, really I do!

    ~ Krista