Appalachian Thursday–Winter Entertainment

The long, dark, cold days of winter are upon us. It’s just getting light when I take Thistle for her morning constitutional and I can barely squeeze in a quick trot with her at the end of the workday. It’s just dark. And cold. Which got me to thinking about how we used to entertain ourselves when we were kids in the mountains of WV. Or, more specifically, how my grandmother entertained us. There were no video games or endless cartoons. We got three, maybe four television channels and there wasn’t much on to appeal to kids. SO . . . we played games! My favorites were Old Maid; Crazy Eights; I Spy; and Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button? These were simple games that required few props and engaged our imaginations. Even now I can picture the floral fabric of the sofa where we played cards and all the little knick knacks around the room that we would spy with our little eyes. It was warm, it was fun, and it made me feel important when my grandmother took time to teach me games and play with me. Grandma’s been gone for a while now. The photo above is probably ten-years-old. She would have been totally up for a game of Crazy Eights even then. Maybe, on one of these cold, dark nights, we’ll round up a button or break out a deck of cards and play a game […]

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Christmas is Over–Now What?

It’s over. Christmas is done. Anyone tempted to take the tree down? Oh, the kids are still out of school and maybe there’s still family to visit, but for so many people these are the days when the blahs strike. The anticipation has been building since Halloween and maybe the day met your expectations–or maybe it didn’t. Regardless this is the, “what now?” moment before New Year’s crashes in on us. Well, there’s a song for that. Good King Wenceslas was the king of Bohemia during the 10th century. You’ve probably heard his song–a Christmas carol. Except there’s no mention of Christ and the song is about the day after Christmas, also know as the Feast of St. Stephen. It’s about a king–a rich ruler–seeing a poor man and reaching out to help him. And better still, the king encourages his struggling servant in helping the poor. Hmmmm. Sounds right to me. Sounds like a lovely way to spend the days after Christmas–reaching out to help someone. You could: Clean out your closets and donate good, gently used items to a charity. Speaking of charities–there’s still time to give financially and get a credit for your 2015 taxes. Volunteer–at the animal shelter, a nursing home, a children’s home, a food pantry, your church–options are plentiful! Write a note to someone . . . on paper . . . and mail it. We’ve all eaten too many sweets–make a pot of chicken […]

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Appalachian Thursday–The Best, Last Thanksgiving

I like Thanksgiving almost as much as Easter. It combines gratitude with amazing food and those are two of my favorite things. And Thanksgiving at our family farm has long held a special place in my heart. When I was a kid, Thanksgiving most years centered on my Mom’s family. My grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and my favorite cousins would come for the feast. Mom would dig out the one ashtray we owned along with the jar of instant coffee (both for my grandparents), then she’d COOK. For days it seemed. We’d watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade until the cousins came. After that, the only thing that could pull us back to the TV was Santa Claus bringing up the rear. We kids had our own table and although I can’t remember what we talked about, I know we laughed as hard as we ever would. Then my parents divorced and Mom moved to another house and I knew there’d never be another Thanksgiving like that. Eventually, I got to be a pretty good cook and in high school I was the one in charge of the kitchen. Dad’s side of the family would come to the farm and they’d be so proud of me for making dinner (with some help!) and it was wonderful. Then I went away to college in South Carolina and I knew there’d never be another Thanksgiving like that. Eventually, my Dad remarried […]

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Appalachian Thursday–Old Folks

At my church here in the mountains of NC we call homecoming, “Old Folks Day.” I LOVE this. Although there has been some push back in recent years from some of the folks who felt like they were beginning to fall into the “old” category. I see the name as referring to all those people–living and dead–who have brought us to the place we are today. And I really, really like those people. I guess my daddy raised me to have respect and admiration for the “old folks.” I went to a church where most of the congregation was edging on toward senior and although we few kids had our own Sunday School class, we interacted with everyone. And we visited the old folks regularly–my great-aunt and uncle, grandparents, neighbors–they were just people who happened to have been around longer than me. Sometimes a LOT longer. Some of my dearest friends have been or are old folks. Yesterday I went to visit Anne (93). We had a lovely chat about books and farm life and what we like to eat. She was a librarian from Kentucky who spent a year working in New York City–what stories! The day before that, we attended our friend Bill’s (94) funeral. I knew many of his stories, but got to hear for the first time a line from a letter he wrote shortly after he met the woman he would be married to for […]

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Appalachian Thursday–An Author’s Anniversary

One year ago yesterday my first, full-length novel officially released to the wide world. Now, one year later, there are two books out there with my name on them not to mention a novella (which is still free if you’ve been meaning to download it!). And a third book in the editing stages which should release next year completing the Appalachian Blessings Series. So what have I learned in my first 365 days as a published author? I knew this writing gig wasn’t going to be all that glamorous, but it’s even LESS glamorous than I thought. Sitting behind a table of your books at Barnes & Noble desperately accosting strangers who say things like, “Are you the author?” will take any delusions of grandeur right out of you. When I went to conferences and experienced writers told me not to get into writing for the money, they meant it. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s amazing that I get paid for writing, but after the IRS is through with me . . . well. Let’s just say we’re not booking that celebratory, month-long tour of Europe any time soon. On the flip side, tithing my writing income has really been fun. I’ve gotten to send some checks that felt like a big deal to me to some ministries that were kind enough to say it was a big deal to them, too. I actually do better writing […]

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