The Tyranny of Time (OR What’s Your Hurry?)

TimeTime is the enemy.

Not because we don’t have enough of it. Not because it passes faster and faster. Not because it’s slippery and elusive.

Rather, because time is an illusion.

I was in such a hurry to be published. It felt like I was wasting valuable time waiting for an agent, an editor, a publisher, a book on the shelf . . . The way I saw it, the sooner the first book was in print, the sooner the next, and the next, and so on.

Because a book in print and in readers hands is the end point–the culmination of my journey.

Except . . . my journey continues. Turns out reaching a goal simply offers a clearer view of the next mountaintop in the range. It’s like our hike last Saturday. We knew we wanted to reach a certain rock outcropping high on the mountain. And we did. But the trail actually continued beyond that point. There’s always more.

I think we’re often fooled by this notion that we’re trying to cross a finish line somewhere up ahead. And once we do, we’ll be . . . finished. Except there’s no such thing as finished while we’re still breathing.

Remember the last time you couldn’t wait for something? Christmas, your birthday, your wedding, the birth of your first child, the first day of school for your last child, vacation, retirement . . . The one thing all the moments we look forward to have in common is that eventually they come . . . and then they go.

And then there’s something else looming up ahead. Some other destination we’re waiting to reach.

Our Bible study group is reading a book by musician Laura Story called, “When God Doesn’t Fix It.” Last week we talked about how the most valuable lessons don’t necessarily come when the hard thing we’re struggling with is over. The value is often in the journey, which rarely unfolds the way we’d like.

So if they journey’s the point–there’s no need to be in a hurry. No need to chase madly after the goal. The lessons will come along the way and if I don’t get where I think I need to go? Well, as a believer, I know I have all of eternity–where there’s no such thing as time and nothing is wasted.

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Appalachian Thursday – Old Folks’ Day

img_1830Last Sunday was homecoming at my church. AKA – Old Folks’ Day. There has been some back and forth on whether we should continue calling it by that name, but I’m a fan. I love the notion of honoring history and the “old folks” who came before us. Maybe once I AM an old folk I’ll change my mind . . .

Homecoming is a BIG deal in these mountains. One of the more “mature” ladies in the congregation talked about how when she was a child her mother always got a new dress for Old Folks’ Day. She also wore her beloved high-heeled shoes, so you know it was important!

The service focused on our 140-year history and our pastor preached a wonderful sermon about the foundation of the church (that would be the standard Sunday School answer–Jesus!). Then we retired to the fellowship hall for a covered dish dinner.

Oh, heavens. I loooooove covered dish dinners. My only quandry was what to contribute? I dithered over dishes, then hit on an idea I think was pure genius. Where better to turn than . . . a church cookbook? So I dug out one of my mom’s from West Virginia and thumbed through until I found two of her recipes that were a perfect fit.

I made corn pudding and pecan sandies (you can also bake them in balls, dust in powdered sugar, and call them wedding cookies–yum!). So in honor of Old Folks’ Day, here’s my mother’s recipe for corn pudding. Cause you can’t go wrong with a stick of butter . . .

NANCY’S CORN CASSEROLE

16 oz. can creamed corn
16 oz. can whole corn, drained
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
8 oz. box corn muffin mix
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheese

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

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Daddy! Rocks!

rocksAh, the wonder of childhood.

When I was in WV a few weeks ago my brother and I went for a walk with my five-year-old niece. We walked over a mile, down to Laurel Fork, where we saw some fish. Along the way we also encountered a herd of very noisy cows, a trickling stream with “dinosaur teeth” (little, white stones), jewel weed with exploding seed pods, tea berries which ARE safe to eat although not very tasty, and a myriad of other interesting things.

After all that, as we approached the farm house, Olivia suddenly stopped in the road, looked down, and said, “Daddy! Rocks!”

And so there were. Much like the rocks we’d encountered every step of the way along our walk.

And yet–Olivia was thrilled, delighted, in awe of the rocks she’d just “discovered” right there in her own driveway. She pounced on them and wanted to take them home to add to her collection.

How often do we fail to see the amazing thing right in front of our eyes (or under our feet)? The sparkling bit of quartz mingling with all the plain, grey stones. Or better yet, the grey stone that somehow stands out from all the others in shape or size or texture.

There are wonders surrounding us all the time. I think the trick to seeing them is simply being willing.

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Appalachian Thursday – Fireflies or Lightning Bugs?

Fall-Foliage-ForecastWe called them lightning bugs when I was growing up. We’d catch them and keep them in a mason jar with holes punched in the lid. We’d turn them loose in the morning, although I suspect there were quite a few casualties.

The wee flashes of light are waning as fall approaches. I wrote a poem a while back when I realized the end of lightning bug season was upon us. I called them fireflies, because it fit the rhythm better . . .

FIREFLY FLY AWAY HOME

I didn’t notice when they left,
the fireflies that danced
all summer in the yard.
But on a September night I saw
the last one lying in the grass,
glowing steady. Unblinking.
An accusing eye
that would not close.
Frozen wide in shock,
or wonder, or dying.

Then as the dark grew darker
and the first of the cold, colder,
I saw it was more than unblinking,
it was slowly burning out.

Like leaving home in a car at night,
the local radio station fading,
gradually,
into static.

 

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A New Adventure – Book #4

pierOne of the challenges of being an author is the overlap between stories. Until the Harvest was recently up for an award, A Tapestry of Secrets released a month ago, and I’ve just turned in the manuscript for my fourth novel yet to be named.

You’ll forgive me if the stories run together.

So, although it’ll be a year before you can officially meet my latest cast of characters, I thought I’d give you a peek into the world filling my head these days and the people who populate it.

The story begins with a mine accident in West Virginia and quickly moves to South Carolina the summer before Hurricane Hazel wiped the coast clean in 1954.

One of the delights of being an author these days is putting together a Pinterest board for inspiration. I’m sharing a few of the photos here, but if you’d like to see more, click on over and check out the images I’ve saved. The photo I’m using for my hero looks so much like I imagined him, I have a hard time remembering Judd isn’t real. The photo is from the National Archives of a miner about to start work in Richlands, Va., in 1974.

juddJUDD MARKELY – “The man dogging Hank’s steps was at least six feet tall with dark hair and an odd, hitching gait. As they drew closer, Larkin noticed he had the most appealing dimple in his chin and blue grey eyes that looked . . . tired she decided.”

LARKIN HEYWARD – “That evening, Larkin bathed and larkinchanged into plaid pedal pushers, flats, and an eyelet blouse. She tied her hair back into a ponytail and curled it just so.”

GRANNY JANE – The cabin was little more than one, big room with blankets for partitions. An old woman lay in a bed in the far corner, a quilt tucked snug around her solid form. Judd eyed her neatly braided hair coiled on her head like a crown. Her veined hands were folded over the covers and her eyes were bright. Somehow he thought someone who was granny-janedying would look worse off.

A year seems like a long time, but I know it’ll be here in the blink of an eye. Can’t wait to carry you with me from Bethel, WV, to Myrtle Beach, SC, and then to Logan, KY. Judd, Larkin, Granny Jane, and a whole bunch of other good people will be mighty glad to meet you when the time comes.

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Appalachian Thursday – Signs of Autumn

fall foliageFall is my favorite time of year. And as I get out and take Thistle for walks, or write with the windows open, I’m definitely seeing signs that it’s right around the corner. Now that it’s September, I thought I’d take a moment to list some of my favorite blessings of autumn in Appalachia:

  • Cool, crisp air that makes me want to breathe deep and turn my eyes to the sky.
  • That brilliant, blue sky!
  • Gorgeously colored leaves standing in sharp contrast to the expanse of blue.
  • Those leaves that land on the sidewalk and leave rusty outlines behind.
  • Building a fire–in the fireplace inside or the firepit outside.
  • Scuffling through crunchy, crackly leaves. Maybe even jumping into a pile of them!
  • Apples! Apple pies, applesauce, apple chutney, apple cider . . .
  • Goldenrod, joe pye weed, ironweed, and asters growing along dusty roads.
  • Milkweed pods!
  • Finally being able to wear sweaters again. (Next spring, I’ll be glad to finally put the sweaters away, but let’s live in the moment!)
  • Trading the lawn mower for the rake.
  • Pumpkins and mums gracing garden centers.

I could go on–and on and on! What’s your favorite thing about fall?

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Filling the Well

Sometimes it’s not about writing or marketing or promoting. Sometimes it’s just about BEING so you can fill the well and have something to say once again. Living life, enjoying family. Hope you get the chance to take time to do the same.

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