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We were blessed with a sunny day and warm enough weather to get outside and enjoy it.  Enjoy it we did!

We walked down to the barn, fed the chickens, and walked back to home.  As soon as we made it to the yard, Deladis said, “We can swing!”

Then, we walked on up the holler passed our house to my favorite spot in the little valley.

After seeing the emptiness of this valley thanks to Google Earth, I plan to thoroughly explore it with the girls.

Deladis is learning about the root and seed children that spend their time sleeping snug inside Mother Earth through the Winter.  We couldn’t help but notice many of the mosses and lichens have awesome blooms of red and yellow, or simply the brightest green.

Even our animal friends got in on the warmth.

Our dog, Lars, is a bird whisperer.  Have I mentioned they will lie next to him?

Lately, Deladis has been really in to AbbeyRoad by The Beatles.  John has our CDs with him most of the time, so we listen to the record collection.  John’s dad gave us his records and Abbey Road was one of them.  Deladis has Brer Rabbit, Fat Albert, and Chipmunk Punk, but Abbey Road trumps those every time.  Deladis’ favorites are “Come Together,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Something,” and “Her Majesty”(the one about Madge being a really fine girl – I think that is the title).  I won’t forget the day she told me she liked “Something”.  She asked me what kind of song that was and what was it about.  George Harrison moved my four year old.  She’s a thinking girl.

We sang sunshine songs as we walked.  “Here Comes the Sun” was included of course as it is on most days of  our singing.  As well as “The Sun Shines on Everyone” by Snatam Kaur, and “You Are My Sunshine”, which Ivy has learned to sing really well thanks to her new auntie.  🙂

It was a fine and refreshing time.

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The tree next to this rock is my favorite tree in our yard.  I can’t recall ever seeing one before we moved here, but I think I have finally discovered its name – Lynn Tree.  It is a rhododendron of the large variety.  It has lovely white blooms that are larger and less neatly formed than a magnolia.  Its branches twist and turn like my favorite plant the mountain laurel.  This tree is absolutely gorgeous.  Because of an old fence, I have never been able to get close to it, but now that they have made the new road, I ‘ll be able to get a closer look.

My dad took me out for my birthday this weekend.  We took the girls into the city to a Halloween party at the Borders Bookstore and to play in the mall playground.  I got to do a little shopping with gift money for clothes that I have desperately needed.  It was a nice trip.  The girls really enjoy the attention of their grandparents.  But, it was at his house that I tasted Lynn Tree honey and connected it to my tree.  This honey is the best I’ve ever tasted.  It is almost clear, being a light lemony yellow color.  If you could bottle the smell of magnolia and make it perfectly palatable, you would have Lynn honey.  Apparently, it is very hard to find as there aren’t many of these trees left in the mountains for whatever reason.  My dad who is an environmental engineer, confirmed that my tree was a Lynn.  I haven’t been able to find anything about it on the internet.

I was also excited when I went to the calender and found that the end of my 40 Day Commitment ended on my 31st birthday.  It has been a different spiritual experience for me.  I am sleeping better.  I’m off caffeine, at least for the time being.  I am learning how to be still.

The mind is energy.  Regluate it.

– Yogi Bhajan

This lesson has been reiterated to me in so many ways over the last weeks.  What is life, if we aren’t living it currently?  If we are always in the past or the future?

I was happy to be led to a new online journal of Appalachian literature – Still: Literature of the Mountain South.  It is edited by mountain writers, Silas House, Jason Howard, and Marianne Worthington.  It is free to read.  I loved all of their reasoning behind their naming it Still, but this one, again, brought my lesson to the forefront of my day.

To be a writer is to learn how to be still.

Take a moment and do some reading here.  I’m celebrating this journal.

I’m excited that at the end of this week will be my favorite holiday – Halloween!  I can’t wait to write about it.



This is my fourth full day off of coffee!!!  My first day headache and body ache free.  I’m not nearly as emotional either.  It has amazed me what a complete hold something as “harmless” as caffeine can have on you.  I’ve been up and down all weekend.  So, today, my back decides to go out, but that hasn’t happened in awhile so it’s not completely a horrible thing.  I’m used to it.  I love chiropractors!

I felt ease in this day and coming home after a few days away felt really nice.  This afternoon we worked a little to prepare for the activities of the coming week and our homeschool.  We also wanted to make a few adjustments to the play area for the girls.

A pile of rocks for castle building or whatever they may become.

rocks

A pile of pine cones for future winter projects and neat bird feeders.

cone

birdfeeder

All from one tree in the front yard.

pine

We also put the finishing touches on the nature table that I will post pictures of on Wordless Wednesday.  I’m so happy with it.

However, when we came home today we found that a rather large creature that we have been trying to catch for over a month tried to chew through the pumpkin on our table.  We turned on our heater for the first time today as well, and when we pulled back the hearth, we found its nest.  Superman from Deladis’s birthday present of wooden super heroes was missing.  We found him in the nest with the back of his head chewed off.  This creature has the ability to carry baking potatoes to various spots around the cabin for its dining pleasure.  It eats and carries around our apples and our bananas.  It chewed through the lids on my containers of nuts.  I have seen this creature twice.  It is large.  The size of an older kitten, but really fat.  It doesn’t appear to have a tail, and it is apparently intelligent.  It has no interest in the fresh food we leave for it nightly in the live trap.  We added peanut butter tonight as per the advice of my step-dad, hunter extraordinaire.  We’ll see if that does the trick.  I’ll post pictures if it does.

Coming home anytime I’ve spent a night away opens my eyes to my blessings.  I’m blessed to be able to do what I am doing for my girls, live where I live, and have such an awesome adventure of sharing my home with and trying to catch wild creatures. 😉  I’m thankful… so thankful.

An arrangement of wildflowers for yellow Monday

An arrangement of wildflowers for yellow Monday

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For more Wordless Wednesday visit here.

Autumn is our season for hiking.  It is something the four of us can’t get enough of this time of year.  Today, was the first cool day of the season with no humidity.  We decided to celebrate with a hike to Bad Branch Falls.  The falls is a nature preserve in Letcher County, Kentucky and rests on the state’s second highest mountain – Pine Mountain.  The hike is short, but of moderate difficulty.  However, we were able to make it with the girls just fine.  I’ve been making this hike regularly since childhood.

I think I’ll let our pictures do most of the narrating.  Despite the fact that I was battling bad batteries and trying to take pictures quickly, the beauty speaks for itself.

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Much of the trail is tunneled in mountain laurel – my favorite flowering plant.

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Ivy stops to watch the rushing water coming off the mountain after two days of hard rain.

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The water is unbelievably clear and safe to play in, but I’ve always wondered if it is safe to drink.  It’s tempting.

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There is magic in these hills.  Without man’s intervention, nature provided the perfect seat for a rest.

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The reward!  There was more water than I have ever seen coming off that mountain.  The sky rained every last bit of humidity left from summer over the last two days.

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There are hidden spots all over these mountains like this.  The kind that make you stop and be in the moment.  Place yourself within the bigger picture.  Meditate.

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Join me on Wednesday for Wordless Wednesday and my best shot of the falls . 🙂

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For more Wordless Wednesday visit here.

Meet our new flock.  They are little cuties.

chickens

I believe they are some kind of bantam.  We aren’t sure.  Chickens around here seem to be just what they are – chickens.  One thing I do know is that this bunch is much tamer than the last.  They are still only babies and have been petted since hatching.  This makes me hopeful that we might eventually be able to free range these.  That gives you the healthiest eggs and the chickens a more natural diet.

coop

We have moved the coop from the previous location of the massacre of the last flock to right outside our bedroom window.  We are hoping to avoid a repeat massacre,offering the new flock a little more protection.  The coop sat next to the woods before which left them vulnerable I believe.  John dug a trench for the run and filled it in with dirt.  The two of us tied wire around the bottom about an inch between each tie to try to reinforce the chicken wire.  It was pretty obvious the last undoing of our flock was done by a possum because of the total destruction, waste, and nastiness of it.

There is nothing like a home grown egg.  Chickens that feast on clover and quality feed, bugs, and treats from the table give the darkest yolks that are so full of flavor.  You don’t have to worry about serving them runny either, though I’ve never been much to worry about that.  Another plus are the shells are so much stronger.  You can definitely tell that the factory farmed poultry are not healthy animals by their egg shells and yolks.

Right now, we have two baby hens and two baby roosters.  Then, there’s Roy, our left over rooster from the last flock.  He runs free and is scared to death of John, but will sit on the porch with our dog. 🙂  So, we are rooster heavy, but we’ve decided to expand the flock to at least six hens.  I won’t count out the possibility of one of the baby roosters ending up on the table when it is grown.

I rocked Ivy to sleep this evening and heard Roy crowing his head off.  Then, in this viable attempt a little voice screeched what I believe to be his first cocka-doodle-doo.  It was sweet.  I know I shouldn’t get attached.  It’s not healthy. 🙂

shack

This is another thing that has inspired my homesteading mind of late.  This little structure sits right inside the trees in the backyard and inside a fence that the previous dwellers on this property used to keep pet foxes.

shack2

Here’s another view from farther back.  I dare not try to drag it out of the woods because it is almost a guarantee there would be a copperhead nest under it.  Yet, it sits there sturdy and unused, slowly becoming a part of the woods.  See, I’m thinking goats.  A goat family.  I’m thinking this would be a perfect house for them.  John laughs at me and says that’s a project for next spring.

John and Deladis have gone this morning to pick up our new little flock of baby chickens.  I am anxiously awaiting their return and using the time with just Ivy and I to get some computer work accomplished – thus blogging.  From now on, it is a goal of mine to limit my computer time even more than I already do, and to do it at times when the girls are engaged in other activities or sleeping.  Lately, with trying to find our true, tuned in, natural rhythm, I’ve discovered, with John’s help, that this laptop and the work I do on it has become an intruder – no matter how much I value what I do with my computer time.  It has become a source of frustration for me, and I am seeking to find the best time to work without making it hard on myself or the girls.

I have been privy to numerous conversations on the point of blogs and blogging.  I have heard both extremes and everything in between.  It ranges from bloggers are only attention seekers and those who read blogs are voyeuristic no different than those who dig bad reality television, to blogs are the future of spreading true, to the moment news and documenting real history and those who read blogs are seeking to inform themselves from a firsthand source.  A recent conversation that I was a small part of hurt my feelings without anyone intending to.  It happens often in circles of mothers, all scrambling to do it right, that one or another will say something that either knowingly or unknowingly shoots down a woman who is in the boat with them.  It was said that blogs were only self promotion and a strange need of cyber culture to share their personal business with the world, in so many words.

For a minute I thought, oh my gosh, is that what I’m doing without being aware of it? Then, the next minute, I balked and was angry at anyone insinuating that that is what many bloggers do, especially mommy bloggers.  Of course, as always, somewhere in between is the correct place to fall.  Sure, I blog to hopefully gain some readers for the writing I do away from this site and to make folks aware of my efforts with writing and cultural preservation.  If that is self promotion, then so be it.  However, I would blog here even if that weren’t my goals.  Motherhood, for me, here has been sort of isolating.  Finding women to talk with who share similar ideas as mine is a difficult task.  I so value any conversation with other mothers no matter their style of parenting, but the fact of the matter is, there isn’t much of a network going on in my area.  That is the one thing I miss most of all about the city.  I spent so many years without making friends in Louisville and then I had a baby and a wonderful world of networking, attachment parenting/natural family living mothers opened their arms to me.  Now, I read blogs of mothers like me.  There is a need to know that you aren’t alone in the world – that someone is sharing your struggles and victories.  There is a need to be part of conversations with those who share your interests.  I blog to be a part of the larger picture.

I gain so much valuable information from blogs.  I read very few of them actually, and the ones I do are chalk full of information that I can use and digest quickly as a busy mother with little reading time.  If I ever find that my blog is not providing anything worthwhile other than tidbits of things that should be kept to ourselves, like the countless Facebook and Myspace status posts of “I’m taking a shower and then laying down with my man” or “I’ll be at Wal-Mart, then the grocery store, then home”, I’ll shut it down, print what I want to save for the girls to read when they are grown, and take it off the web.

Technology is not as welcome in our home as in most modern homes today.  We limit everyone’s television viewing.  We don’t have cable or satellite.  We have one ancient barely working cell phone.  No Ipod.  No video gaming system.  We don’t miss or want those things, though sometimes a working cell phone would be nice with unreliable vehicles.  I didn’t even know what the internet was until college, so to lump all people using computers into the cyber generation is a longshot.  I squirm at the thought of paper books, magazines, and newspapers being replaced with computer screens.  I’m old fashioned in this way and always will be.  Finding blogging was much by chance, and I’m not sorry.

So, in the meantime, I will leave you with the glorious new flower I’ve discovered around our cabin.

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed

This is Joe Pye Weed.  It stands about 7 feet tall in most places around the cabin.  It is named for a Native American healer who used it to treat typhus.  It has other medicinal uses as well.  All the beautiful foliage around here makes me want to learn what to do with them.  I wanted to share this one with you as I find it exceptional and it has a neat story.

I’m also considering a new look for this site.  I’m not sure if what I have now is boring.  Let me know what you think.

We’ve had wonderful weather this weekend.  It’s been reminiscent of autumns past and autmun to come.  I got to spend some time at Wiley’s Last Resort for MARS Fest.  It was a family friendly event, so the girls got to go too.  I spent quite a bit of time there as a kid as it was the home of a good friend then.  The house he lived in has burnt down and it has changed a lot, but it is just as much a lovely place.  I am happy that I got to share it with the girls.

Here is a video tour of the place.

The girls loved it.  Ivy roamed and I followed.  Deladis played in the sand.  We enjoyed looking at art and hearing some pretty good music, but mostly the air and the mountain.  Pine Mountain, where the resort is located, is the second highest mountain in Kentucky.  It rests in Letcher County closest to the countyseat of Whitesburg where I grew up.  The highest mountain in Kentucky, Black Mountain, can be seen from Pine Mountain.  It rests in Harlan County.

A while ago, the state allowed a coal company to begin a strip mining job on top of Black Mountain.  I got to see the results of that while I visited the resort this weekend.  Looking out over the landscape I couldn’t help but turn my head at the barren top of Black Mountain.  Sure it will be reclaimed in some form or fashion, but forever changed.  I couldn’t for the life of me imagine how a state can allow for a landmark like its tallest mountain to be stripped, essentially knocked off.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth is an activist group that produced this video.  I like the perspectives in this series of videos they have made and posted.  I do very much believe, however, that the solutions to the issues like coal that face the Appalachian people will have to be found within the mountain people.  We are a stubborn sort and often resistent to change.   That quality serves us well at times and hinders us at others. It is very unlikely that we will listen to folks from outside of our area when they are trying to tell us our problems and how to fix them, even if they are other Kentuckians.

I pray that we will take back our culture and stop trying to blend in with mainstream America.  I hope that we will remember the battles of our ancestors and how they were nearly enslaved to the industry once it was allowed in.  I wish that we would open our eyes and realize what our assets are, and learn to utilize them, before more tragedies like Black Mountain take place.  Because, like it or not, coal is not a renewable resource.  It will run out.  Then, what?  A middle ground needs to be found, and a nation wide change in priorities has to take place.

I hope if you are a Kentucky resident or live nearby, that you will take the time to visit the mountains of eastern Kentucky.  We have so much to offer.  I think we also have so much to show that will teach you about the path our country has taken, and how cultures are being lost everyday.

I enjoyed my time on the mountain.  It was time to just be.  I think of all the men and women who are worrying, and can’t just be because they work in the coal industry and their jobs are on the line.  They wonder what will happen to them if the coal industry leaves the mountains.  I think it is time to start creating the answers to those questions.

It has been a healing weekend –  very uneventful.  I got some good news on my own health struggles and have dealt with a little minor blech.  But, we visited family and spent quiet days with each other, eating good food and watching the girls play.

Children are the most interesting creatures.  I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading in Waldorf educational philosophy as prep to teach and better understand my girls.  Most of the reading is on preschool development, and it has given me so much understanding as to why the girls act and react the way they do to things.  I hope it helps me to orchestrate our days.  The reading has made Ivy’s new accomplishments of the last few days even more exciting.  She has worked diligently on expanding her vocabulary.  Our big activity this weekend was to answer her question, “what’s that?”, a million times over.  Before this weekend, Ivy had around ten words that were regulars and a few more she chose to utter here and there.  As of today, she has added the following to her list.

  • ball
  • bear
  • bird
  • banana
  • burp
  • pee pee
  • Elmo

I’m not even sure if I’ve lost track and forgot a few there.  I thought she was on a pattern of Bs until she came out with “pee pee” and then added “Elmo” during a diaper change with her Mamaw this evening.  With “pee pee” and “burp” in her arsenal she’ll be working hard at catching up with her sister’s new love for the word “poop”.  You have to love the preschool potty talk.  Ivy is so proud of herself and has been the happiest baby.  I love watching the girls learn and create their lives.  I stood for a long time and looked at their newborn pictures today.  It is miraculous how quickly they go from completely vulnerable to such learned little things.

The girls and I went on a nature walk Friday.  The late summer wildflowers are blooming and we collected some for an arrangement.  Fortunately, we found a vase under our front porch.

wildflowersDeladis felt pleased with the arrangement and glad to have helped.  There are some red clover, goldenrod (our state flower), jewel weed, Queen Anne’s lace, and some daisies.  I have no idea what the deep purple flowers or the little pink ones are, but they are gorgeous.  I’ll have to see if I can find a book to help me better identify the herbs and plants around the cabin.  They do make for a beautiful sight.  They are my sign that autumn is more near to us everyday.

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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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