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This is a video that made me so happy to see.  Leave it to Sesame Street to help us all have a positive, pure respresentation in the media of this world.  This clip is of a mailman who delivered mail in our area (not too far from where we live, in the same county) in the 60s/70s.  Roads like we have today are relatively new here.  Most of our parents and grandparents grew up kind of like our girls are growing up on our holler.  No “true” road, or a creekbed for a road.  Because of this, horse was still the most convenient means of gettting from here to there.  In the county where we live, many women were still having their babes at home, doing the doctoring for their families, organizing church meetings, and teaching the children the 3Rs at this time.  It has not been that long ago that many of us lived in intentional communities where most of our needs could be met within a few miles from home.  This was out of necessity, but something that, if you were to talk to the elders in our hills, was a thing of pride.  I think our future will look similar.  Our economy will eventually return to our own two hands, and be ours to create.  The truth is that Appalachia is not urban, and cannot be made urban, and any effort to do so will only continue to bring ruin to our people.  OK, off my soapbox.  I hope you enjoy the video.

This week John and I are both working at the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School.  I am co-teaching Kids on the Creek, and John is the faculty coordinator.  Both of the girls are attending this year, and are with me in Kids on the Creek.  It’s a busy and exhausting week.  So many personalities in one place, lots of music and dancing, smiling, and fun.  It is in its 9th year.

It seems though that our family always has a bit of a crisis during the time of the music school.  Last year it was our van breaking down.  This year, it is the dogs killing the diddles (chicks).  They have killed two, and yesterday, we realized that we had to get the mama and the remaining seven into the old coop for safety.  They have been totally free ranging since they were born.  We hadn’t been able to touch their mother since she left the coop months ago.  I figured I’d have to have John to help me catch all of them.  In fact, I wasn’t even going to try without him.  His duties keep him at the school from morning until wee morning, and we see him in glimpses.  I had resigned to grieve the diddles and resent the dogs.

Deladis on the other hand, resigned to get the chickens into the coop come hell or high water last night.  After a thunderstorm that knocked the power out, Deladis chased the diddles all around the yard in the steady rain.  Ivy was asleep inside.  When I stepped onto the front porch to check on Deladis, I realized she was catching them!  She had a diddle in her hands.  She handed it off to me and I rushed it to the coop.  When I returned, she handed me another diddle.  “Get the mama,” I said.

They were all huddled under the front porch, and it takes quite a bit for me to maneuver under there, so I wasn’t too hopeful that Deladis could get her hands on the mama, but I knew that if she were caught, the diddles would be easier.  “Oh, she’s pecking me!”  I hear.  Then, I see my four year old turn around, her arms full of hen.  “Hang on!” I say.  We rush her to the coop, and proceed to round up the last five diddles.

The proud look on her face said it all.  Her eyes round and wide.  Her smile open and full.  “I did it, Mama,” she said.  “Are you happy at me?”  She was determined to get those chickens to safety with or without her daddy, and that she did.  I was beyond joyful at her accomplishment.  She did something I thought wasn’t doable.  Something I thought it would take our man to help us with.  Deladis taught me something last night.

What/Who am I waiting on?  I have been waiting on John to have time for barn repairs for months, so we could move the chickens down there once again.  I have been working so hard on advertising my birth work that I have neglected my housekeeping and writing.  I have been waiting on acceptance to a known literary journal before sending off the collection of stories to small presses for consideration.  I’ve been submitting those stories for two years.  I have 25,000 words on a novel that I am waiting for time to finish.  There’s no waiting.  There is just now.  Now.  Right now.  There is nothing that exists to wait for.  All that is, is present now.

Miss Angie, over at The Artist, The Mom, and mine and Deladis’s former Parent/Child (Waldorf) teacher told me once that I was exhibiting some sanguine traits.  At the time I thought – no way.  But, I couldn’t just put it off.  She had really studied the temperaments after all.  She gave us an article on parenting and temperaments.  I thought – sure, I’ll accept melancholic, even choleric, but sanguine?  I had always thought, if only I had some sanguine tendencies.  I am not the life of the party by any means.  I’m lucky if I can approach you for conversation after knowing you for some time.  I’m one of those who gets shy and ducks in and out of store aisles trying to avoid eye contact.  Not because I don’t love conversation, or crave it even, but when I’m not prepared for it, it is very hard for me to initiate.  I want to be assured that someone wants to talk to me before I approach them.  I also remember things, and have been notoriously good and holding grudges (though not any more.  What a blessing!).  I have strong opinions about a lot of things, but I don’t go declaring most of them everywhere, and in most situations my opinions aren’t such that it makes me dislike anyone or confront anyone.

However, I see what she means in that I have my hands in so much at once.  My focus changes so often, I don’t think I give anything time to really be what it is going to be.  Just go through this blog and you will see that I have this and that then that and this on my mind.  Does it mean that I need to find just one thing?  Does it mean that I need to give up my little work for the important work of mother and homemaker, so I can do those better than I am now?  I don’t think so.  I really don’t.

I think it just means that I need to focus on what needs to be done in any given day.  What work do I wake to?  What work lends itself well to the feelings of the day – mine and the girls?  Does it mean that I will take the conventional approach to things?  No, I’ve never been conventional. Does it mean that the path I had set out on will be the one that gets me to where I am going?  Nope.  In fact, I think it is most doubtful.  I need to always consider alternatives.  Always consider now.

I wonder if I can do the work down at the barn.  I wonder.  I wonder how much time and advertising to put into my birth work.  I wonder which small press I should query first.  I wonder what it will be like to pick up my novel again.  I’ve been wanting to switch this blog over to one that will allow me to do the Amazon Affiliates program, and post links to my book when it is published by a small press or myself.  I wonder if I’m computer literate enough.  I wonder.  Deladis didn’t sit and wonder.  She just did it because it needed done.

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.  🙂

Here is one from Letcher County native – Lee Sexton.  This is a clip from the documentary Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus.

I truly believe that it is John’s utmost dream to one day play in the band that is fronted by his two little girls.  He is getting them started early, and they are loving every minute of it.  They were born with the music of these hills in their souls.  This is why we love the evenings when Daddy is home.  This is the perfect after bath, before bed activity.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Hear John’s music and the legacy that has been with our people for hundreds of years at www.myspace.com/haywoodbanjo or visit his YouTube channel (Renegade Hillbilly) under the links section in my sidebar.

John has spent much of the day working on his YouTube Channel. He uploaded a new video that Derrick Poore shot a few weeks ago here on the creek. There are also many more videos of friends and acquaintances playing old time mountain music and such. Take a gander here.

I can’t say enough about the fall festival held annually in my hometown.  I anticipated it every year as a kid and continue to do so.  The cool nights.  The slurry of conversation.  Faces of all sorts, eyes connecting with yours and some not.  The carnival and the multi-colored lights on the rides.  The carnival operators with their strange American dialects and accents.  The aroma of traditional foods in both senses of the word – old-timey recipes and usual southern American fare.  The craft booths with work from mountain artisans.  Gliding through them because you can’t move quickly through the crowd, listening to the Mountain Idol contest on the main stage.  It’s plain fun.  I am taking the girls this weekend coming.  We’ll ride rides, hear the music, and taste the air. 🙂

I can’t say enough about the two costumes hanging in the hallway waiting for the girls and Halloween.  I’m looking forward to it so much.  They are going to have a great time.  Next month is also  my birthday month, and I always am grateful to have been born in October.  It couldn’t have been more perfect to have come to life in that month, and I continue to come to life in this season every year.

I can’t say enough about what I have learned in this last week and my little 40 days commitment.  The rules are reforming, adapting, and falling away, but the goals remain the same.  Commitment is seeing something through to the end.  It doesn’t mean perfection, or bullying your way to the end result.  It means knowing where a road lets out and being confident enough to see that there are different paces with which to travel and seeing that their are different means through which you are guided to the end.

I can’t say enough about modification.  To realize that committing to too much is a bad thing when you know you can’t be successful, but understanding the commitments you have already made are wonderful and redefining the new ones to work with the old.  I know as a mother to two little ones I can’t expect myself to practice yoga every day, every week.  I have already committed to five days a week and that is a huge accomplishment – it really is – I will admit that to myself.  What I can do is a 40 day consecutive meditation.  I can do that anywhere I am.  In the place I am now, it might be exactly what I need.

I can’t say enough about what simple awareness can do.  To actually be able to catch myself becoming reactive to stressors.  To see triggers.  To anticipate the needs of my girls, and attempt to be prepared.  To have a plan for the “next time.”  It allows me not to have solutions now, but to still see that I have made a huge step.  I’m not walking through the day blindfolded feeling helplessly tied to chaos, and not understanding where it comes from.  I can actually see why!!  I’m getting better at it as the days go on too.  It’s not the kind of stopping awareness that I anticipated.  It is an awareness that says in the moment, this is what is happening and it can stop now, or this would be a great time to…

Wrap it up in Calico

Wrap it up in Calico

For more Wordless Wednesday visit Wordless Wednesday.

I am exhausted yet I keep on going… somehow.  Ivy has been having trouble sleeping at night and last night was a bad one.  All four of us were up by 5:00 this morning.  Ivy tosses and turns all night, then she wakes, sits up in the bed and cries and/or babbles.  I wake up feeling like I’ve been in a tag team wrestling match and my hopes of quitting coffee in the near future have changed to sometime in the future.

I have also been informed by some bloodwork we had done that Ivy is slightly anemic.  So, I’ve been reading up on that at Nourished Kitchen and Cheeseslave.  Then, comes the decision of whether to use the supplemental drops along with the multivitamin with iron she already eats everyday.  I don’t want to overdo it.  The optimal choice would be to try to get her to eat more iron rich foods, but see… her appetite is hit or miss.  Not sure.  You gotta love those difficult mothering decisions.

The other excitement keeping both John and I busy is the preparation for a duo presentation to a group in Louisville on Appalachian culture.  John is presenting art and music of the mountains. I will be presenting Appalachian literature, and I am so excited to get to share information about authors from the Kentucky mountains.  I love talking culture and I can’t wait to give my take on the literature of our area in terms of where it has been and where it is headed.  I’m also going to share the URLs to some Appalachian themed or written blogs.

Mountain Muse

Blind Pig and The Acorn

The Breeder Files

Thrifty Southern Mama

Hazard’s Glory Years

Appalachian Lifestyles

Appalachian History

I’m even more thrilled that I get a day with my husband that is just the two of us.  A long car ride, we’ll stop at Whole Foods to stock up on those grocery items we can’t find here, and then home again.  Time to be a couple with John is something I’d like to experience a little more often than we do.

I have to admit that there is great satisfaction in having this opportunity to work a little and help John provide for us.  I believe I have accepted that right now isn’t going to be the time that I will have regular pay coming in.  Being an at-home mother is a choice I will never regret.  My job as a mother is the one that needs my full attention at this stage of our lives.  However, though my progress may be slow and staggered out, I am not hindered from working toward my goal of eventually working as a part of Haywood Art – the writer part. 🙂  Things will fall into place when the time is appropriate.

I sit here writing with heavy eyes and so many thoughts of things I need to do, should do, and would like to do.  I’m thinking of family I haven’t gotten to email or talk with in awhile, books I want to read, research on homeschooling and yoga I’d like to do,  and stories, essays, and novels I want to write.  I’d never in a million years have thought, when I sat bored in my room wishing for a way out of the holler and to the movie theater with my friends as a teen, that a person could be this busy here.  I love it that we live and learn.

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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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