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Some people don’t believe answers can fall from the sky.  They believe an answer should be studied, researched, and tried before practiced.  I’m sure that’s how the Biblical Israelites felt when Moses was leading them through the desert and they were told they could thrive on manna from heaven.  I’m sure even those who didn’t want to admit it were scared to death, thinking that there was no way they could live with such a simple answer to from where they would receive their nutrition.  I wondered all weekend about from where would I find my answers.  I didn’t have the energy to look for them, but plenty enough energy to complain.

The weekend started on a weird tone.  One of the chickens decided she’d fly the coop while I was filling their water dish.  It was Lucille, named for John’s granny, the same one that got away from us at the stock sale.  She just took a notion to fly out, and it took awhile to get her to a place where we could pick her up and put her back in.  Then, my camera decided to die.  Just when I was getting the hang of taking some decent pictures to add to the posts on this blog, my camera takes a notion to give up its service to me.

I read a post earlier in the weekend about relaxing in one of my favorite blogs called The Breeder Files.  She is such an inspiring and honest person.  Inspired by her writing, I tried to remember my blessings in the areas of chicken tending and digital cameras.  I’m consistently getting three eggs a day from my hens now, which means I’m doing a great job taking care of them.  My free rooster sits on the back porch and crows for me to come out to see him much like my ten year old Dalmatian does when he sits at the door and whines for me.  Sometimes they are out there together.  I’m loved! 🙂  As far as the camera, I’ve had it for around four years.  I have received many comments about the pictures on this blog despite the fact that I never thought the camera took good pictures.  A hobby photographer, Amy, who blogs at Blessed With Three, said she liked my pictures of the aquarium I recently posted.  I love her photography.  It is beautiful art, so that was a nice thing to read.  I got my some worth out of that camera.  Man made things, though we try, can’t last forever.  (Any recommendations on a camera I might find on ebay?)

Then, I decided to do some complaining with a group of writer mamas I talk with online.  I asked how they reconcile their responsibilities to their creative time.  I didn’t get to complain long before a woman recommended I vow to do a blog post a day and one hour of novel work.  I wanted to knock myself over the head… duh.  I already get a blog post 5 days a week which meets my goal.  I can manage one hour of novel writing most days.  I need to decide to be satisfied with that.  Writing, right now, is a part time endeavor.  Motherhood is my job and my duty.  I can find fulfillment where ever I decide to look for it.  Another woman told me to write down everything that I was able to accomplish in a day, instead of focusing on what I didn’t get done.  She said I might be surprised.  I’m going to try that.

After doing these things, I made the decision to be easier on myself this weekend.  Deladis went with John’s mother, I got to read my work at a literary reading where Gurney Norman read from a new selection of Wilgus stories he is working on, and I followed Ivy around the Seedtime on the Cumberland festival, letting her dictate where we went next.  It was good for me.  I had to relinquish control.  I had to give a little.

At Seedtime I got to talk with a friendly acquaintance that we hadn’t seen in quite sometime.  He was showing a version of a film he has been working on for three years.  He said in that time he moved, built a home, started a new job, got married, and had a baby.  The film had to wait for these things.  He said the idea for the documentary didn’t go anywhere.  It rested in his mind until he had the chance to work, and he found it evolved.  Then, he would ease back into it, and eventually it would flow like he had never stopped.  I needed to hear those words so bad.  My writing accomplishments won’t come all at once.  Some can wait.  Some should wait.

Then, I get home and check my email.  I opened my email subscription to The Nourished Kitchen to find Jenny had included me in a list of seven bloggers whose blogs she values for their information and good reading!  I was taken aback by that and overwhelmed with joy.  She is so successful with her blog, and I love her posts.  Her site is a wealth of information for anyone who is trying to be mindful about food.  I aspire to her success.  I was rewarded by someone valuing the time I spend with this blog.

I got these answers.  They fell from the sky.  I found them in places I wouldn’t have thought to look.  I found them when I wasn’t looking.  When I was doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself and complaining.  When I didn’t deserve an answer one.  Blessing are all around us.  Sometimes I think we are too swept up by the pitfalls in life and blinded by the everyday that it makes it easy not to care so much about the good things when our energy is wasted worrying about the bad.

I just posted my entry for The Nourished Kitchen’s “Clean Your Plate Challenge”. This round’s ingredient is honey. Visit The Nourished Kitchen to see the recipe and add your own, or visit my Favorite Recipes at the top of my Home page to see my entry.

Your entry in the contest should be posted today, and voting begins on June 20th.

I’m going to get frank here a minute.  I’m a very private person, but when it comes to writing things down I experience a freedom of expression I get no where else.  I can be summed up in one word – introverted.  That’s me… I’m “in”.  I don’t start conversations in real life, or I at least I  have to work up the courage to do so and have a dang good reason, but there is something about the written word that lets me lay all my inner thoughts down unapologetically.  I’ll air my innermost business to those who read.  Whether that is a good thing or not, it is what I am about to do now.

There’s something wrong with me.  I should be utterly happy and joyful, but I’m not.  I am blessed with all my direct needs met and most of my wants right in front of me.  I asked for two children and I have them.  I have the greatest husband who is also my best friend.  I have been able to move home to my mountains to raise my children in a comfortable place where I feel at home.  My surroundings are glorious.  Waking each day to these hills and my yard cannot be replaced by anything else in this world.  Yet, in my day to day I find myself stressed, rage filled, and down.  I could be being hard on myself.  My people are known for that, but I think my feelings are needless and selfish.

I’m trying to find the source of my problem.  I know at least part of it is something is off with me hormonally.  My bloodwork points to thyroid troubles.  My spiritual life is lacking.  I’m motivated almost to an extreme.  My responsibilities are all ones that I want, but I can’t keep up.  I’m not sure how to help myself because to admit any kind of weakness is so against my character.  It would be a huge step for me.

My Responsibilities:

1. wife and mother of 2 under 4

2. housecleaning

3. cooking

4. tending the garden

5. tending the chickens

6. writing everyday (blogging/noveling or both)

7. exercise (5 days a week)

I look at that and think… That’s not much at all.  What am I?  Why can’t I get it done? I see my time with the girls being stifled, stress filled, and I’m unengaged.  My house is a wreck most of the time.  I keep up with kitchen duties and laundry.  The rest is not looking so good.  I love my outdoor chores.  I manage them.  They make me feel solitary, useful, and quiet.  I’d much rather do them than anything I do in the house.  I keep up well with this blog and I enjoy it.  Blogging is instant gratification for a writer when you can look and see how many people are reading what you wrote whether it is 1 or 80.  I want more writing time.  I want to be a successful writer.  I want to help my husband not to have to work so endlessly to provide us with the simplest things.  Then, the exercise.  I’m starting to admit to myself that I may not have the best relationship with physical activity.  Though if I were to post my schedule it would seem normal, I’m not reacting normally to it physically or emotionally.

I’m motivated all right.  No lack of that.  I lack in the capacity to be all things to myself and my family all the time.  Right now I’m doing a half job in a lot of things and a great job in nothing.  No one can expect of themselves more than they are capable of doing, or is it just that I’m not together enough to accomplish it all?  I think of my sister with a teenager, eight year old, and a toddler all at once, holding down a job, going to nursing school, and keeping a house, while providing a supper as a family every night.  She’s my hero.  But, as another mother wrote to me… that’s an invisible yardstick I’m measuring by.

In all of this desire, I am pushing back my spirituality.  I’m putting my wants first even before my own good.  I’m turning my choices into The Creator’s choices for me… or am I?  Maybe it is the timing thing.  I’m neglecting my spiritual life, but then adding formal spirituality adds another responsibility.  I should re-prioritize.

So, yes, I’m coo-coo for cocoa puffs.  It comes up every now and again.  I am looking more and more to what comes naturally for help.  First my God and the purpose for my life.  Then, the natural ebb and flow of things… food, work, raising children… How do I let things come and go freely in their own time and still accomplish things?  Is it okay to slow down, or is that being lazy?  I’ve got to find a happy medium.

The rhythm I tried, which was really a schedule, has went the way of the dodo.  I need a plan.  I need control of my emotions.  I need rest… I so need rest.

Continue reading this week to see how things can come full circle without great effort.  Sometimes the answers find their way to us whether we actively seek them or not. 😉

The drive from Dayton to Gatlinburg was pleasant.  The van kept doing the quitting thing, but it would start back on it’s own (really weird).  We think it might be some kind of loose wiring.  As much as we don’t want to believe it sometimes, I know driving through the creek reeks havoc on our vehicles.

Driving into Gatlinburg, John brought up that it is funny how we just ended up there almost exactly 10 years after going there on our honeymoon. 🙂  This time with two little girls in tow.  We were all excited as this part of the trip wasn’t in our original plans, but I decided to use my award money from the Gurney Norman Prize to take us there instead of putting the money on my credit card debt.  Don’t tell Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey.  I’d hate to hear what they’d have to say to me. 😉

It has amazed me every time I have been driven through Pigeon Forge.  I remember it as a kid and I felt the exact same way this time – just wow!  John and I both decided after this trip that we would like to have enough money just one time to go and do everything there that interests us.  I love Dolly Parton, too.  I’d like to see her in concert.

The drive into Gatlinburg is pretty.  They knew what they were doing planning that one.  It sets the mood.  We stopped the van at the park and ride and rode the trolley – standing room only- to the Ripley’s Aquarium.  Deladis loved that.  A train on wheels!

The line at the ticket counter was practically non-existent and in no time, we were in and on the tour.  We had visited the Newport Aquarium several times, but hadn’t gotten to it in awhile.  Deladis has always been fascinated with fish and underwater life.  She used to call fish “swishy-we”, because that is what they say as they swim.  My sweet girl is growing up so fast.  Now her funny sayings are more like this:  “Mommy, what is her name?” Deladis says.  I say, “Verushka.”  “I don’t think she’s from around here,” Deladis says.  This coming from a child with the name “Deladis”… and where in the world did she get that.

The aquarium was set up beautifully.  At the beginning, you walk under a waterfall.  Ivy saw the fish and called them “goggie” of course.  To Ivy, everything is either a dog or a cookie.  Deladis spent ample time at each exhibit.

Coral Reef

Coral Reef

It was hard for me to get pictures inside because the lights were low and most of the exhibits were lit with varying luminosity.  I got a few good ones.  Ivy wanted to pet the fish.

"Goggie"

"Goggie"

I really wish I could have gotten pictures in the moving shark tunnel.  They had plenty of sharks, and the girls loved it when they swam passed and over top of us.  It was a great thing to see.  In a large exhibit area, we got to see a diver feeding the rays.  That was a big hit with Deladis.  Ivy was more interested in socializing and trying to drink from other babies’ sipper cups.

I think the girls had the most fun in the Discovery Zone, where it was free play all the way.

Ahoy Captain

Ahoy Captain

Dream Come True

Dream Come True

The neatest thing they had there were tanks with puffers and sea horses that you could crawl under and stick your head up in the middle of.  They made Deladis’s day.  There was also a tree that you could crawl through for “in the dark” exhibit.  It was obvious after getting inside that it was not meant for adults.

My only qualm with the whole thing was we paid $50 for it to end way too soon.  We kept thinking there had to be more.  At the end of the walk, Deladis tried to pet some rays, but her little arms couldn’t reach.

We left the aquarium and found food for the four of us for $16.00 at Shoney’s on the main drag!  I was pleased, and we all found enough food that we felt fit our needs.  We walked in the rain back to the trolley stop and had to bum money to get back to the van on the trolley, after no one had change for a $50.  Some bikers gave us the money.  Thank God for bikers. 🙂

We headed out of town.  John called our friend Joe about the van.  It was decided, when we were passing US 23, that John would take us on home and go to Mt. Airy alone.  He didn’t want to risk us camping in rain, or getting stranded on the highway in the van.  He wanted another night in a bed.  I was okay with it, but really hated to miss out.  It meant he would be gone on our milestone anniversary, but so goes life.

With that, we were on our way home in quiet, tired rain.  Gray clouds covered like a blanket.  And the feeling of an end consumed me with relief and dread.  Arizona surely felt that way on going to Kentucky.  It was an unknown and she and her husband were taking a chance.  I wonder if she could have known in any small way how much it is  home to me – her offspring.  It felt wonderful to see the my mountains again.

Day Six:

We started today by heading up the mountain on Dayton Mt. Hwy. to Walden’s Ridge.  Downtown Dayton was small and filled with a few cafes and some quirky shops.  The mountain began right on the outskirts of town.

About halfway up the mountain, the van quit.  John got out and checked things.  We were a little low on oil, so we coasted down the mountain to the next gas station.  John filled the oil tank, and the van started back up – not an oil problem.  Who knows what now?

We had no idea what we would find on the ridge.  I had some house numbers, but no road names.  Upon reaching the top it was obvious we wouldn’t be finding the house where Arizona lived with her husband.  We went up a road bearing their last name, a popular name in the area.  I took a picture of a house #294, which was on the road and looked older.

294

I have no idea if this was the vicinity where they lived or not.  The ridge is a large residential area and was when Arizona lived there from what I have learned.  It is amazing what can exist on a mountaintop.

Many moved to the ridge for health reasons for it was rumored that the air and water there was pure.  Arizona’s youngest brother was brought to the ridge for tuberculosis treatment.  Mostly, we saw small cattle farms.  The ridge was the picture of country.  It was a slow moving place.  Arizona’s husband didn’t farm, but worked for the Dayton Coal and Iron Company.  I read later that most of the farmer’s on the ridge grew strawberries.  Dayton has an annual Strawberry Festival.

After looking through the graves of two cemeteries, and watching Deladis sniff all the new plastic and silk Memorial Day flowers on them, I decided my best choice would be to see what the town library had in its special collections.  In the library, I found Arizona with her husband in the 1910 census and some basic historic information for the period.  Most of the information was on the coal and iron industry.  I didn’t find much at all on Walden’s Ridge.  No one I asked could provided me with more information than I was able to find.  The ridge is going to be elusive.

Ivy gave John a run for his money while I researched.  She climbed on top of a table while he tried to read to Deladis.  Ivy cried when he tried to corral her.  I had to end my looking before I was really ready, but not before I found a corn meal/peanut butter biscuit recipe from WWI days – wheat free!

We decided the girls needed rest and a chance to play, so we went back to the hotel to eat.  A train travels by the hotel several times day and night – a throwback to the coal and iron days.  Since the meal at Ruby Tuesday we’re eating out of the cooler for all of our meals.  More than likely the rest of the week.

This evening, we took the girls to a cute little park and they played until their hair was wet with sweat and their faces were blood red.  It is still in the 90s temperature wise.  I’m starting to feel guilty myself for only being able to formally exercise twice since we left.  Now, I’m short on patience and exhausted.  I think I have enough to work with for the novel.  I have the names of a few people here who might can help me fill in the gaps later – one is a man from the town historical society.

On the way to the park, the van quit again.  Tomorrow we are leaving for Mt. Airy, NC and stopping in Gatlinburg, TN to take the girls to the Ripley’s Aquarium.  That’s a five hour trip, so the stop in Gatlinburg will be good.  I hope we make it.  This will be the last night with a shower, indoor toilet, and bed until Sunday.

The trip is winding down.  There is always that loss of the rush of anticipation.  Arizona left the ridge with the coal and iron bust that happened here around 1913.  They moved to Kentucky to find work in the mines for her husband.  Completion of a journey that made her never feel settled.  I remember the letter Mamaw shared with me.  A farm in Ohio was on her mind.

I hope the changing gears is refreshing with no more van trouble.  I want the girls to see the Aquarium.

Day Five:

I am sitting in our Dayton, TN hotel exhausted.  We started the day at 7am, eating, packing, and heading out to New Echota Historic Site.  We arrived there right after they opened.  I got teary eyed before we went in.  It makes me wonder about my emotional self, though I was well aware of what we would learn today.

Middle class Cherokee family homestead

Middle class Cherokee family homestead

The morning was lovely, and I was glad to get started before the heat set in.  We did a self guided walking tour of many reconstructed and original period dwellings and meeting houses in what was once the capital of the Cherokee Nation.  To think that the Cherokee were forced to leave their lands makes me think of nothing less than the holocaust.  They lived in log homes and had farms.

Inside a middle class Cherokee home... it was one large room

Inside a middle class Cherokee home... it was one large room

Another view of the same room

Another view of the same room

They had their own newspaper and printing press, printing things in both English and Cherokee.  They worked with a three house government.

The rack holding the typeface used to print The Cherokee Phoenix and other printed materials in both the Cherokee language and English

The rack holding the typeface used to print The Cherokee Phoenix and other printed materials in both the Cherokee language and English

Looking at the different homes was inspiring, especially the kitchens.  From the wealthy to the common, the simplicity felt serene.  I want to go home and work on our cabin.  Clean it out totally.

Lower class Cherokee home - one small room consisting of one bed, 2 gourd bowls, a grinding log for meal, one deer skin, and a gourd ladle

Lower class Cherokee home - one small room consisting of one bed, 2 gourd bowls, a grinding log for meal, one deer skin, and a gourd ladle

Kitchen in the lower class dwelling

Kitchen in the lower class dwelling

My favorite kitchen of the day in the Worcester House at New Echota

My favorite kitchen of the day in the Worcester House at New Echota

The cooking hearth and baking oven of the same kitchen

The cooking hearth and baking oven of the same kitchen

I am beyond hurt at how a people so established and native inhabitants of a land could be so disregarded as the sacrilege that happened with The Trail of Tears.  What many don’t know is that all this disrespect to the native people and their land began with presidents like Thomas Jefferson ( a much beloved man in our country and known as a fighter for equality) who wanted to make the Indian indebted to the U.S. so they could take their land from them and move them west.  People only think of Andrew Jackson, a man of the people, hater of the native peoples, and a president who disregarded the laws of his own nation.  They did this to a people so bent on preserving their heritage – their right to be separate but equal.  A people who, on the white man’s terms proved their civility and capacity to exist as a nation.  It’s unreal what the average American doesn’t know about that situation.

Meeting House at New Echota - where the council held meetings

Meeting House at New Echota - where the council held meetings

Inside the Meeting House

Inside the Meeting House

Courthouse at New Echota

Courthouse at New Echota

The Vann Tavern - New Echota

The Vann Tavern - New Echota

Inside the Vann Tavern - the counter and mercantile area of the largest room

Inside the Vann Tavern - the counter and mercantile area of the largest room

I’m finding it hard to even write about what we saw and learned today.  It was so extensive.  After New Echota, we went to The Vann House, which was a four story European style home built by a prominent Cherokee business man – James Vann.

The Vann House

The Vann House

He had a plantation and around 70 slaves on his land at a time, and up to 110.

View from the third floor of The Vann House

View from the third floor of The Vann House

What was outstanding was that even the wealthy Cherokee who had adpoted many of the white man’s ways were moved to Indian Territory by force.  Their money nor their “civilized” accomplishments could make them exempt from the land hungry white man.  Joseph Vann (son of James Vann and the inheritor of his estate) and his family were burnt out of their home.

The root/wine cellar - where all "cold" food items were stored

The root/wine cellar - where all "cold" food items were stored

The woman's bedroom

The woman's bedroom

There was a spinning wheel and/or loom in every dwelling from the middle class up.

There was a spinning wheel and/or loom in every dwelling from the middle class up.

A little girl's room - very few "toys" - I loved it, so simple and pure as was the boy's room

A little girl's room - very few "toys" - I loved it, so simple and pure as was the boy's room

The dining room

The dining room

When we left New Echota the walking tour ended with two quotes by Cherokee government members Elias Boudinot and John Ridge.  I copied them into a notebook.  In essence, they said that the Cherokee removed from the land God gave them would cease to exist – be blended with the white man.  That is essentially what Thomas Jefferson had promised the native peoples whom would give in to the wishes of the American government – they would blend with the white man.  And there I stood – Cherokee blood in the veins of a white woman.  A dichotomy in the flesh.

Solemn and gloomy is the thought that all the Indian Nations who once occupied America are nearly gone.  In the lapse of half a century, Cherokee blood, if not destroyed, will wind its course in the being of fair complexions, who will read that their ancestors, under the stars of adversity and curses of their enemies became a civilized nation.

John Ridge, February 27, 1826

The time will come when few remanants of our once happy and improving Nation will be viewed by posterity with curious and gazing interest as relics of a brave and noble race… perhaps, only here and there a solitary being, walking, ‘as a ghost over the ashes of his fathers’ to remind a stranger that such a race once existed.

Elias Boudinot, Nov. 21, 1836

I thought about Arizona and her place in this history.  What was she aware of?  I know she knew much of what I learned, but I wonder how she perceived it.  She lived in both Indian Territory and New Echota.  The guide at The Vann House said it was hard to believe that Arizona’s family went to Indian Territory and actually came back.  It makes me think more of her father and who he was.  Why he was what he was.

On the way to Dayton, we gradually entered into tiny rolling hills.  Both John and I couldn’t help but think of Arizona’s walk – over 80 miles from Georgia to Tennessee.  So young and strong.

After such a saturated and fun day we are all tired.  John is working on the van.  There is a hole in the radiator.  The girls are being wild with that tired irritability.  It feels good just to be.

Deladis in a smokehouse at New Echota - orbs or dust particles... you decide :)

Deladis in a smokehouse at New Echota - orbs or dust particles... you decide 🙂

kaclogo Kelli B. Haywood has received professional development funding through the Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, supported by state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Day Four:

Today started early for me.  I woke up wondering why I was wide awake and everyone else was deeply asleep.  I finally raised up off the bed and craned my head to look at the clock.  It was 5:23am.  I laid there for quite awhile before falling asleep again.  Light poured in from around the heavy curtain when we all woke at 7am.

We weren’t sure how the day would go because both museums we wanted to visit weren’t open.  I decided our best option was to start at the local library.

Calhoun, GA is like many other small towns in the south.  The buildings around town are old and in need of repair, but there was character.  Things moved slow like in a haze.  It could have been that running the air conditioner in the van has started to make it leak antifreeze and we are doing without it at a time when north Georgia had its first day in the 90 degree range.

In front of the library in Calhoun...

In front of the library in Calhoun...

John took the girls and I went to the special collections area, while they explored the kids wing of the library.  I found some interesting books that I’ve decided I’ll purchase for my collection.  They were Cherokee history and tradition books.  I was really excited about one I found on Cherokee Cooklore.

I discovered Echota (a big difference between Old/New Echota) was not only the Cherokee capital, but a city of refuge for those who had killed someone.  There were stipulations to that refuge, however.  I found it interesting and useful for my novel in that Arizona’s father went to New Echota after possibly killing his wife and young daughter.  This is speculation as no one has evidence of that, but everyone agreed that he was a violent man.  Echota gave him refuge, but not Arizona.

After looking in a few neat local shops and a folk art exhibit at the Harris Arts Center, we had lunch from the cooler and went to look for the historic sites we’ll visit tomorrow.  I’m excited about what we’ll find tomorrow.  It is bringing me closer to the past that made me.  At the Vann House, I got a short peek at an unfinished, large, woven reed basket that was abandoned in a Cherokee home during the 1838 removal – The Trail of Tears.  It brought to me a feeling of anger and grief.  I mourned for the woman who was forced from her home so quickly that she had to leave her work unfinished.

Overlook on the way up the hill to Fort Mountain...

Overlook on the way up the hill to Fort Mountain...

From Chatsworth, we moved on to Fort Mountain State Park.  Apparently, the Cherokee met up with white folks prior to Columbus who had crossed the ocean from Wales.  These men built a tower fort, which we got to see.

Tower possibly built by Prince Madoc of Wales - predating Columbus

Tower possibly built by Prince Madoc of Wales - predating Columbus

We read of the legends of the moon-eyed people who were fair skinned, light hair, and blue eyed.  It was said they were blind in the daylight and/or during certain phases of the moon.  The Cherokee claimed the Creeks annihilated them during one of their blind periods.

Probably the best thing we say today was a scenic overlook at Fort Mountain.  Flat land met the beginning/ending of the Appalachian mountains in such a way that can only be described as breathtaking.  I know John found it hard to breathe. 🙂

A start/end of the Appalachian Mountains

A start/end of the Appalachian Mountains

Overlooking...

Overlooking...

Back in town, sweaty and tired, we tried to shop at some outlet stores.  Don’t go shopping without money to spend.  It ruins the mood.  Giving up on shopping, we searched for a local establishment to get supper.  Failing at that, we pulled into Ruby Tuesday and had a wonderfully satisfying meal and spent way too much money on it.  It had been while since we had eaten at a Ruby Tuesday – prices had went up!  But, we needed a full meal, and it was delicious.  Deladis ate all of hers and some of ours.

Stopping to smell the flowers at Fort Mountain

Stopping to smell the flowers at Fort Mountain

After picking up some coffee at McDonalds, we went back to the motel for baths and rest.  I feel like things are moving sluggishly, but too fast all at once.  If you can be happy and melancholy together, that’s what I am.

On a tower window ledge at Fort Mountain

On a tower window ledge at Fort Mountain

kaclogoKelli B. Haywood has received professional development funding through the Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, supported by state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The following series of blog entries are compiled from my journal writings during my recent trip to research the historical background of a novel I am working on loosely based on the life of my Cherokee great great grandmother.  There are seven days and each has an abundance of pictures.  Hope you enjoy the ride.

Day One:

Preparing our little home for us to be away for ten days was more work than I had expected.  We woke to rain and weird red bugs all over the potato plants, feasting away.  I worked non-stop all morning and through the afternoon.  Our departure time of noon was shot down.  We left our holler around 5pm.

The trip to Spartanburg was wonderfully uneventful.  Driving through the mountains brought an easy peace to us.  The girls were happy and quiet.  My body released all the aggression I had been holding onto all day.  We had a nice dinner in Johnson City at a Cracker Barrel.  Surprisingly, I found suitable food there (or just inside good enough), and we all ate good.  Dark clouds threatened rain that never came.  We arrived at my family’s home around midnight.

Day Two:

Today, the plan was to be with our kin.  That’s exactly what we did.  Ivy and my Papaw hit it off as I thought they would.  Deladis spent hours playing with an Ewok village that I had spent hours with as a child.  She did some painting too.

art

I took a three mile run, and came back with an awful headache.  Lack of sleep really gets to me.  We didn’t get in bed until almost 2am.  That, coupled with weak coffee brought on a migraine that progressed in intensity through the day.

We lounged and talked.  My Mamaw showed me the best picture of Arizona (great great grandmother).  It gave me chills to see her in such a regal stance.  She was amazing to look upon.  Her native features were clear.  Her unsmiling lips just soft enough to reveal a proud contentment.

I found out she married around age 16 on Walden’s Ridge.  Looking at her brought new face to my journey.  I’ll never know the real story, the whole true story, but the one I will imagine will be inspired.

reconnectDay Three:

We arrived in Calhoun, GA around 7pm.  The four hour trip was interesting and felt very commercial.  When we got close to Atlanta, the interstate was lined with billboards.  Some were digital and changed advertisement every few seconds, which is something I had never seen.  Overwhelming – almost.

There is always a little insecurity that comes with traveling to a place unfamiliar.  We left my family this afternoon after a yummy lunch.  I fought tears, the urge settling somewhere in the spot where my head connects to my neck.  Deladis didn’t want to go and I didn’t want to take the girls from them so soon.

familyfamily2

I wonder how Arizona felt.  A young girl of 14 or 15 setting out alone through the mountains in an unfamiliar way.  Leaving her brothers.  The mountains here are more foothills.  I’m looking forward to seeing how they grow as we enter into Tennessee.  The motivation was apparently too strong and overshot any fear she might have had.

Mamaw shared a letter written in Arizona’s hand in 1919 to her brother Walter that she had left behind.  Her husband had been killed in the mines in 1918, and she was writing of wanting to move to a farm in Ohio from where she was in east Kentucky.  She had to be attached to the land.  She lived in town in Hazard, KY.  I know I was always finding safety and solace in the hills as a kid, when I was troubled.  I can imagine her wanting that comfort back, seeking it.  I don’t think she saw Walter again after she ran away.  It had to feel lonesome sometimes.

Now, as the girls play on the hotel beds.  I think about where she slept her first night on the run.  I’ve been disappointed with this establishment since we got here.  The place is in poor shape, the pool is closed and unkept, our coffee was an empty wrapper, so we have none, and there is some kind of reddish brown bodily fluid splattered on the bathroom door.  I wouldn’t have expected that of a hotel in this chain.  At least we’re together and safe – joyful.  I think of Arizona, alone – so young and totally alone.

First, I want to thank the 3 great women who did a guest blog for me this last week.  The posts were really inspiring!

We cut our wonderful trip short and came home Thursday.  The van kept quitting on us and it is supposed to rain in Mt. Airy, NC the rest of the week.  John left out today to go to the festival alone.

We came home to almost all of our potato plants having been eaten by red bugs.  I think about half of them are lost.

dead plantI spent much of today filling a yellow paint bucket with the nasty things, picking them off with my hands, and cursing them in my head.

nastyWhen I gave some to the chickens, and even they thought they were nasty, I decided to drown them.  I am beyond upset.  I don’t know how to get my plants back to their glorious condition again, or if I even can.

Salvageable?

Salvageable?

Our chickens are sopping wet and living in mud.  It has rained here almost non-stop since we left.  John didn’t have time to help me straighten things out before he left again.  I am here working alone with the girls on our ten year anniversary, which marks fifteen years together.   We both feel bad that we can’t spend this momentous day with each other. 😦  John has been my man since I was fifteen years old.  He is truly my other half and very best friend.

My evening was spent replanting the corn that the birds and squirrels eat out of the ground before it has had a chance to sprout.  This makes the third time.  I’m not sure how to remedy that.  I know the old timers had some way with no chain link fences and pesticides.

Since there will be so much to do around here this week for many reasons, I’m going to post my journal entries during the trip starting on Monday, along with pictures.  I may do some current posts in between.  I’ll be updating daily, so feel free to leave comments.   We have had a great time and learned so much.  I think it will be interesting reading… 😉  Now, in homecoming I’ve been knocked back to earth… trying not to cry over my potatoes.

by Ida Lee Hansel

regular guest blogger at http://1939blog.blogspot.com

I feel blessed in so many different ways because God gave my birth time and place in 1930’s Eastern Kentucky, heart of Appalachia, (to me at least). I would have wanted it no other way. My mother was part Cherokee from Walden’s Ridge, Dayton, TN.  My father was of Irish descent, and between those two grandmothers I was steeped in folk tales growing up. Children were fortunate in that Mothers were hard working, God fearing (most of them), excellent cooks, awesome seamstresses, and knew how to encircle their brood with unconditional love they learned from Bible reading. How many times did I get told to me, “The Bible says, ‘train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it’”  That was the basis of their rearing formula. Oh, it erred that is expected, but for the most part the training they gave, along with the hugs, kisses, and motherly pats, kept this child in tow and it has made for the retelling of many stories to my grandchildren.

Living in Appalachia, I learned as a small child what it meant to toil and labor, for we had a garden, made lye soap, made “lasses”, even homemade wine from grapes they grew. My Irish granny always said that a little wine on getting up and a little wine on lying down would keep the blood flowing. I laughed at that, and they smoked clay pipes, cob pipes, roll your own cigarettes from Bull Durham, Buffalo, and so many others that came in draw string pouches or cans. (They lived to a ripe old age too, or most of them did).

I found out by being born and reared in Appalachia the meaning of the words “unrequited love” and “neighborly”. People loved people; neighbors loved neighbors; doctors loved patients; time was of the essence for most people for they got up at the crack of dawn and went to bed before the sun set; however, if a neighbor needed help, they were there, no questions asked, no procrastination, they were there. Even upon the loss of a loved one, the neighbor women were called in to “lay out” the body and get it ready for burial because there was no means in the early years of my life for a body to be preserved for a “wake” or “sitting up” ritual, that came later in my childhood. All in all, Appalachian women were the backbone of the early American life, they did the work of men, they carried and birthed the babies, they canned food, they made lye soap, heated their water in big wash tubs, washed clothes, hung them out to dry, gathered them, ironed them with irons they heated in the hearth ashes and by hearth flames; they doctored their families, other families; they cooked meals fit for a king, and enough to pass around in the neighborhood, and even for strangers that passed by; yes, when a stranger passed, I never knew of my Appalachian women not asking, “Come in, rest yourself, and let me give you a plate of food and a good glass of cold milk”. I don’t recall it ever being turned down.

Where did all that love and kindness go with the passing of time; unconditional love was cast by the wayside it seems and now one barely has time to pat their youngster on the head or give their wife a smack as they leave out the door. My clothes were homemade, and there was nothing like a flour sack made into cloth, dyed and laundered, lace added, to make one a beautiful dress that could be worn to a ball. I never wore underwear made of sacks though, or I don’t recall anyone that I knew that did.  I got to go to Uncle Garrett’s grist mill and watch while he took our corn and ground it into meal. I loved going in the back of Uncle Noah’s wagon up the “holler” to the “mill”.  It was a good day and I always looked forward to it. I also loved when Uncle Noah would come by in his wagon loaded with veggies from his garden and he would pick me up and let me ride with him as he sold his veggies.  It was a ride worth taking.  Also, we didn’t own a vehicle, walked everywhere, but on Sundays I got to ride to Typo Ky to visit or to Jeff, Ky. To visit, by train; that is a story all in itself, but all in all not having a vehicle, in the grand scheme of things, never harmed me one bit.When I got sick, Mom or Granny also had a remedy, long before the word Homeopathic (sp); whatever ailed me, they had a cure and if they had to call for a doctor, they did, and paid him with taters, onions, veggies, etc. and he went away happy.

Those were the days, and I am afraid those days will never pass my way again and that is what hurts, my children and grandchildren did not get to live the good life, but they surely have heard about it.  We played in the streams and creek beds, free of pollution of any kind and so clear the minnows could be seen playing beneath the water; we roamed the hillsides looking for wildflowers of all different kinds, and made playhouses using moss as a lush green carpet, stones for furniture, and made belts, tiaras from using leaves and stems, interlacing them until it got long as we needed; we were introduced and acquainted with “critters” and taught at a young age to avoid those that were not to be toyed with; we learned to recognize plant life that could be brought out of the mountains and cooked of fried for supper; we learned the difference between good and toxic mushrooms; we were “home schooled” before that word was part of our language as it is today. Not so much in book learning because mothers had to quit school in early grades to help at home, but “common sense” home schooling which has kept me going all these years. Common sense has drifted by the wayside and that is sad.I could go on and on about the awesome life of a young girl given the chance to be born and reared in an Appalachian home with a Godly Mother, and grandmothers who told us stories brought to Appalachia by ancestors long gone before I was born.  Stories were told around the fires, around the quilting frame, in the swing on a wide open porch, or at the knees of the storyteller, very gifted people, who had time to share their thoughts and memories on to me, so that I one day could do the same. I think I did that.  My life as a child growing up in Appalachia resembles much the same as Laura Ingalls growing up on the prairie, just a different geographical area, and we both learned and passed it on.  Mothers, please take time to listen to your young child, they have so much to pass on, even in their language that years from now you will recall.  As the cliché goes, “Take time to stop and smell…” Well, I have it my own way for you, “Take time to stop, rest a spell, smell nature’s essences that abound, listen closely when a child speaks, take advantage of God’s treasures all around you in Appalachia, walk and talk with your child, and then at night, relate to them a story that you know that has been handed down to you; tuck your child in with a hug and kiss, and lay your head down for a much deserved rest.”  You are blessed beyond measure, Appalachian Mothers!

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

June 2009
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