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I am all alone for a few hours.  All by myself.  John’s mother is keeping the girls.  John is settling things at the house in Louisville, which we are preparing for selling.  We have a buyer!  I am supposed to be cleaning.  Cleaning in this silence with thunderstorms on the horizon.  Doing things that are truly impossible when the girls are here, like mopping and sorting junk.  Somebody must be kidding me.  A cosmic joke.  Because the only thing that I can think about at this moment is writing, songs with the word silence in the title, and reading good books.  My current read is Pushed by Jennifer Block.  Playing is…

Words are unnecessary unless written and/or thoughtful.  Good point this song makes.  Listening is much more necessary.  This song has grown better as I have gotten older. 🙂

Next, we have a classic.  A most beautiful classic.  I remember listening to this in the dark as a teenager.  My room hot with no air conditioning.  Fan blowing.  Sticking to synthetic red satin sheets that wouldn’t stay on the bed.  Alone, listening and staring at the ceiling – most of the time lamenting something (you know those melancholic teenage years), but in this case not.  There was no thinking to do when listening to this song.  This song always touched my soul.  It’s nice, even now, in the quiet.

It is on such rare occassion that there is no one calling my name.  Asking me questions.  Suggesting I do something.  Asking me to do something.  I dare not waste a second.  Not one slice of a second.  I will write, read some, and then if I can muster up the energy after a couple, few more cups of coffee… I might do the dishes. 🙂

Have a nice holiday weekend folks.  It is a time for celebrating life.

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Pictures coming as soon as John comes home with his banjo case where the USB cord for the camera is located.  Why?  We don’t know. 🙂

It has been quite awhile since I have written anything about our efforts with the homestead.  The Confluence (the name of our homestead, homeschool, and educational organization) has grown since last year.  Instead of the one garden plot that we had next to the cabin last year, we kept it and added two more down by the barn.  The two new plots get full sun, so our corn, tomatoes, peppers, berry bushes, watermelons, peas, broccoli, cabbage, onions, swiss chard, and spinach is there.  Here at the cabin plot, I have put in the potatoes, carrots, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, cilantro, basil, and dill.  We still have some more tomatoes, lettuce, lavender, pumpkins, several bean varities, and sunflowers to plant.  I haven’t decided exactly where they will go.  They will be in the ground either this evening or tomorrow.  However, I will not be planting while the sun pours down across my back.  My shoulders and forehead are sunburned and I have the hot chills.  Our planting takes quite awhile, because we do it all by hand, scooting across the ground, pinching and dropping seeds.  Someday, we’ll have more equipment.

We hope to have enough produce to sell a bit this year.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that John will get a chance to work on the barn so we can get a chicken flock that will be protected from predators, and eventually a few goats.  I’d like to be able to sell eggs as well.  John has mentioned wanting to spend more of his time on the homesteading, and for it to work as we have dreamed, that will have to be the case.  Our friend Nathan has been helping us along, but he will be leaving on a year long, around the world trip in August.  Another friend Brett Ratliff has been helping as well.  He is a musician and travels quite a bit as John does, so his time exists a bit of everywhere.  Both of them are bachelors with nothing tying them down – free spirits those boys, and huge helps as they can be.  So, then there is me – mountain mama of two under five. 🙂  I can get a lot done, but not enough.  If John is able to be here a bit more, then it will be a huge help for the homesteading dream.

The Confluence in it’s current existence is our home and Nathan and Brett call the cabin at the mouth of the holler home.  The four of us are working on this project together as our time allows.  We are planning to bring it into a place where we offer workshops on sustainable agriculture and traditional music.  John’s art studio is here, and he plans to open that to the public.  We may host some small group events as we are approached to do so for traditional music, arts, sustainable living, natural family living, and childbirth preparation.  Eventually, when Nathan comes back from traveling the world, we may apply for non-profit status.

So, this year, we are slowly moving forward, and we are happy with that.  John is so good for me in that regard.  I’m like a wild filly out of the gate.  I want to do everything in short order.  But, we are moving just as fast as we are supposed to.  Any faster would be overwhelming.  We have heard rumors of Farmer’s Markets organizing, so my goal is to participate in those as we can.  I am prepared to do a lot of preserving food too.

I’m excited about the opportunities this brings to my life.  I am scattered all over the place right now, and if you asked me what I wanted personally, the list would be ridiculous.  My goals are in some sort of transition period.  I started simple when I began this blog, and then at some point realized that something wasn’t working or wasn’t enough.  I’m still trying to set on what that something is, and at this point it is taking the form of many projects.  I will figure it out.  It’ll be a dang good thing when I do.  🙂

I’m going through one of those times again when thoughts aren’t rational and I am making myself anxious over silly things, one being social media.  Nothing real and nothing important to my life, work, or relationships.  Why?  Who knows.  But, it is those times when we discover where we’ve been clinging to the wrong things, and trying to fit ourselves through openings we weren’t meant to pass through.  Where instead of listening we’ve been pushing.  Instead of waiting we’ve been putting the pedal to the metal and grinding our wheels only to see we’ve moved but a few inches.  We would have moved those inches without the wheel spinning.

I’m pulling back once again, and I’m going to try so hard to wait for that still small voice before making any steps forward, even if that means waiting months and years.  I’m going to do the small things that count for big things, and leave the big things that count for not much alone.  My girls need me fully present mentally.  My husband needs me.  I need me not to scatter hopes in a million directions searching for some kind of satisfaction that I’m not even sure I would recognize when I received it.  I’d probably call it something else and continue the struggle.

I hope to be back here more often recording the progress of little things.  Really little things.  Seconds of moments.  Living now, my life.  Not my past life, my future life, but the only life I have – my present life.

There is no need to run outside

For better seeing,

Nor to peer from a window.  Rather abide

At the center of your being;

For the more you leave it, the less you learn.

– Lao-Tze

The kingdom of God is within you.

– Jesus of Nazareth

In the meantime, meet our newest addition to the family.  Goldie, a 2 month old mixed breed female found stray.

It's as hard to take a picture of a pup as a 2 year old child.

A week ago we went with our homeschool group on a field trip to a new zoo that opened 2 months ago about 2 hours from our cabin in Snowflake, VA.  The zoo is called Creation Kingdom Zoo.  I will let my pictures speak for the most part, but I have to say that this was the cleanest, friendliest, and most hands on zoo I have ever been to.  The girls enjoyed it greatly.  I wish I could have gotten pictures of more of the animals, but my camera has been on the fritz, and Ivy was having a terribly difficult day that day.  The animals are kept in very clean and spacious enclosures.  They don’t stink of wallowing in their waste.  They don’t display the neurotic behaviors you can see, especially large cats, display in zoo exhibits.

The two things I wish I could have gotten a picture of and didn’t was the little spider monkey that we fed fruit loops.  She grabbed Ivy’s juice cup and wanted a drink!  Her hands were so soft and felt human like.  She would wrap herself in a little towel and swing in a baby swing. 🙂  We also got to pet and hold an albino python (very large) and a Coatamundi.  For $8 a piece (group rate) we got a guided tour.  We were allowed to feed most of the animals from feed bags we purchased for $1.  We were allowed to bring in our own food and drink.  It was a very pleasant experience.  A great time!  I am so happy we have this opportunity so close to us now.  You would never think a zoo would be out where this zoo is. 🙂

Little lambs

Bottle for the baby...

sweet!

Some very large porcupines? Ivy was crying I couldn't hear the presentation.

White tiger - 1 year old

Apparently a 2 humped camel is a rarity at a zoo!

So gentle... used in nativities across the east coast.

It can be a little nerve wrecking, watching an ostrich eat out of your baby's hand. That beak in large!

The zoo also has a Noah’s Ark building for reptiles, fish, a kangaroo, and some rabbits.  They also have a room for showing films.  The owners are available for questions and if I am not mistaken at least one has a PhD in zoology.  I’m really excited about going back there as a family.  It makes me proud that in Appalachia we don’t let our location or stereotypes squelch our possibilities in all situations.  Really proud.  A zoo in the valley.

After my prenatal yoga training in Asheville, NC a week or so ago, I feel like I have come full circle spiritually and in my path of becoming whole.  Not only did I get some girly time to myself, I got to immerse myself in yoga, birth, and teaching, three of my most favorite things.  I am back to the Hatha style of yoga.  I’m following my heart.  It led me there, and currently I’m into Baron Baptiste and Vinyasa.

In the video I’m doing, Baron at one point says, “struggle less, breathe more.”  Friday of last week it just clicked.  He also says “breath is free.  breathing is free.”  Struggling is not free.  Efforting can feel so much like forcing.  Efforting feels like impatience.  Why not breathe?  Why not let go of the struggle, and allow the Creator to work?  Living now is all we have.  Doing our best in the moment.  Living in the moment, instead of rehashing the past or pushing for the future.  The time is now.  If we don’t live now, we are missing life.

I quit trying to push myself into asanas (poses), and instead I grounded myself through my feet and hands, and I used the breath.  I felt peace rush over me.  There was nothing I had to do.  I felt my muscles release in the work.  I was connected to earth through my body and the life force through my breath.  I felt free.

I think of all I try to do with my life.  All the time tables I give myself, and the preconceptions of how I think things should go.  I analyze little things – glitches – and read into them much more than is there.  I don’t trust that the Creator will lead me through.  I don’t trust that where I am is exactly where I should be.  I don’t wait for the Creator’s time.  I don’t live in the time I’m given.  I keep struggling, thinking that I must push myself, or try this or that to see if it brings me forward.  I keep doing this despite the fact that I see it mostly resulting in wasted time.  I keep doing this even though most of my moving forward happens through the Creator bringing connections to me, and none through my efforts.  It’s like an addiction almost.  A need to have my hand in the mix, as if somehow I can influence anything through effort.

No, we make changes, progress, and find ourselves by letting go.  By breathing and doing only the work that is ours to do in that moment.  By being mindful.  Listening for that still small voice.  By not judging success by numbers, but by quality, and giving the glory where the glory belongs.  Snatam Kaur sings in “By Thy Grace” – “one day the day shall come when all the glory shall be Thine.  People will say it is yours and I will deny not mine.”  What a happy and amazing day – the day we can acknowledge that.  Know it with our hearts and live in that peace.  Living not to in and of ourselves make changes, or influence events, but to let it pass through us in the moments we are given and the connections brought to us.

It is – “Be still and know that I am God.”  That is what it is.

Well, it’s warm again and I’ve seen my first copperhead of the season.  The post I did last July about nearly stepping on a copperhead keeps my blog stats hopping all Spring, Summer, and some of Fall with around 150-200 hits on that post.  There’s been some heated discussion there too… lol.  I have noticed over the last few days that things are picking back up in the copperhead blog post department, so I thought I’d take a minute to share my thoughts on the copperhead once again.

I’ve grown up with the reality of copperheads amongst a variety of other snakes that live in these hills.  From a young age most mountain children are taught what the copperhead looks like, and where they love to hang out.  We are taught not to sworp at them with sticks, and not to run from them.  We are to keep our cool and walk slowly away, keeping our eye on the snake.  They aren’t aggressive snakes unless you provoke them either by accident or on purpose.  They are very poison, but it would be rare that you would die from one bite.  It will cause you a great deal of pain and maybe a lost limb, depending.  After being taught these things, us mountain kids were turned loose to play in the yards, hills, and hollers.

Most of the time as a youngster, I spent on the mountainside amongst some large rocks.  My mother never went up there, didn’t know where I was, and probably couldn’t have found me if she wanted to.  I was truly a free range kid.  I think that was a huge benefit to me in many ways.  As many of us were trusted to know better, my mother trusted me.  Because of that, I think we were a much safer bunch of kids… not that I would be comfortable not knowing where my girls were, but I’m more likely to follow along than my mother was.

I used the same advice when I came upon a copperhead sunning on top of a pile of leaves while searching for dry land fish (morels) with John a week or so ago.  Unfortunately, we only found one morel.  I did however see a slue of salamanders, snails, fungi, bugs, and the copperhead.  He was enjoying the rays of light seeping in through the canopy of new leaves.  He could have cared less that I was there, and didn’t even raise his head to take a smell or look.  I was only about 2 feet from him.  I was thankful I had my eyes on the ground and could maneuver myself up and around, after taking a pause to admire him.

You should have killed it, some might say.  My response is, I will leave well enough alone.  I had nothing to attempt to kill it with, and the safest thing for me at the time was to walk away.  I was in its habitat.  It’s a different story if they are in the yard where my children play, and I have a tool I can use to do away with the snake nearby.  Really, if you know about a copperhead, it isn’t that big of a deal – unless you step on it, or stick your hand in their den.  Then, well, God help you.  I hope you keep your finger.

Happy sunshine folks!

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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.

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