That’s mom on the right doing dishes with Aunt Pat.
I’m at home in West Virginia this week to spend Mother’s Day with my mom and visit with my dad. Which means you’re getting a re-post related to mother’s and daughters . . . Maybe mom and I will tackle a couple of these!
I was winding down the other evening and came across an article link on Facebook with 40 things every mother and daughter should do together. Cool. I clicked. I got about 12 deep and gave it up. Several activities included drinking wine (Mom doesn’t drink). Most were expensive–spa visit, trip to the big city. And some just made me laugh. My mom is SO not doing yoga with me.
So, here’s a list for Appalachian mothers & daughters. Ten things (cause who has TIME for 40?!?) they should do together.
- Snap beans or pare apples on the back porch. Ideally, you should have a metal bowl or a dented pie tin for the leavings. And Mom should peel her apples with a paring knife while Daughter uses a vegetable peeler because she’s “modern.”
- Make grape jelly. This will begin with picking Concord grapes from the vine and will proceed to a hot stove, a jelly bag, and finally to Mason jar lids happily pinging away. If your fingers aren’t purple, you didn’t do it right.
- Pick wildflowers in a meadow. Well, okay, in the edge of the meadow because Dad will holler if you mash down the hay he’s going to cut to feed the cows this coming winter. Arrange your flowers in a Mason jar.
- Make a quilt. Warning–this takes a looooong time even if you machine quilt. If you get all Romantic and decided to set up a frame and quilt by hand–hoo boy–we’re talking some serious bonding time for Mother & Daughter.
- Go to the swimmin’ hole. You’ll probably have to take the boys with you, too. They can’t resist splashing around in the creek. Take soap (Ivory floats) and shampoo to kill two birds with one stone.
- Prepare wild game. My mom taught me how to parboil and fry squirrel, then to make gravy out of the drippings. Yours should, too. If neither of you knows how, find someone who does and learn together!
- Go to church. Preferably the same church your grandmother and great-grandmother went to. Sit close to each other and hold hands during the prayers.
- Churn butter. They have all kinds of fancy butter churns these days. Mom had a glass one with a crank that turned wooden dashers. After she made the butter she’d spread some on a piece of bread and sprinkle it with sugar for us kids. Soooo good!
- Go for a walk. People call it hiking now, but really it’s just tromping around in the woods looking at the trees and the streams and the plants and maybe even the critters. Moms have a knack for finding and pointing out interesting stuff.
- Porch sit with a glass of lemonade. This is the time to hash out the meaning of life because mothers and daughters can totally do that. Do this one more than once. Way more. And if you want a glass of wine instead . . . fine by me.
A sure sign of redbud winter.
We’ve been complaining lately about the weather.
I know, I know, everyone does that ALL the time. But spring this year has really been a roller coaster ride. Windows open. Windows closed. Coats off. Coats, hats, and gloves back on.
I was thinking the weather really is getting crazier. Then, this past weekend, I noticed that the redbud trees had bloomed almost overnight. Suddenly there were all these gorgeous sprays of deep pink in the edges of fields and neighbors’ yards.
Which reminded me. This warm, cold, hot joy ride is nothing new. As a matter of fact, it’s so not new, there are several old-time names for the various bouts of cold that crop up after that first taste of spring.
Like redbud winter. Which is what we had last weekend.
Now, let’s see. There’s also dogwood winter, locust winter, blackberry winter, britches winter, and whippoorwill winter.
Some of these are pretty self-explanatory, but here’s a primer:
- Redbud winter – When the redbud trees bloom
- Dogwood winter – When the dogwood trees bloom
- Locust winter – When the locust trees bloom (see a pattern?)
- Blackberry winter – When the blackberry brambles bloom
- Britches winter – Wait. What? This one is more fun. The full name is linsey-woolsey britches winter which means it’s the last time it’ll be cold enough to wear your long underwear
- Whipporwill winter – (I smell a book title) This one is barely cold enough to call winter, but it’s when the whippoorwills migrate north from Mexico
So, turns out the now-warm-now-cold craziness we call spring in Appalachia really isn’t anything new. It’s been around at least as long as long underwear.
Grandma Burla would be telling me March is coming in like a lion!
My grandmother loved talking about whether March came in like a lion or lamb. The idea being that if the month roars in on March 1 with wind and heavy weather, then the last day of the month will be calm and pleasant.
I was worried earlier today, with mild temperatures and a light drizzle–hardly lionish weather. But the day has taken a turn and we’re now under a high wind warning and the temperatures are dropping.
Normally, I wouldn’t be altogether pleased, but since I long for the weather to improve throughout the month, this is a welcome turn of events. My grandmother would be snuggled under a crocheted afghan telling us not to worry, “in like a lion, out like a lamb.”
The weather will only improve from here on out!
There are a few other March sayings–probably because March is the first time all winter we’ve dared hope spring really is nearly upon us.
- A dry March and a wet May? Fill barns with corn and hay.
- As it rains in March, so it rains in June.
- March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers.
- So many mists in March you see, so many frosts in May will be.
So I guess we’d better start counting rains and mists so we’ll know what’s going to happen in May and June. Today was a rainy, misty day (until the wind blew it all away). So maybe that’s one each for a frost in May and rain in June.
Best not start planting the garden until after Mother’s Day . . .
I suppose it’s odd to feel sentimental about trash.
Even so, I caught a whiff of burning paper the other day and was transported back to childhood days and the chore of burning the household trash.
There wasn’t a trash pick-up service for a farm way out in the country. And if there had been, we probably wouldn’t have paid for it. So what did we do with our trash? Well, for starters, we didn’t make that much of it. When you harvest a fair amount of your food, there’s a whole lot less packaging to mess with.
If it was glass, we washed it and reused it. If it was paper or cardboard it went in a paper grocery sack in the kitchen trash can. If it was foodstuffs, it went in a big bowl and either the dog ate it or it went in the garden for compost. Anything else went in the metal garbage can that was emptied just a few times a year. I won’t tell you where (NOT environmentally friendly).
Back to that bag in the kitchen . . . that was the burn bag. Typically, my older brother got to be in charge of burning the trash. There was a cinder block trash burner beside the garden–tall in the back, mid-height on the sides, low in the front. I’m pretty sure the ashes were scattered over the garden periodically.
We loved burning the trash. We’d find bits of paper, dry grasses, or sticks to make it last longer. We’d poke and prod to make sure every bit was consumed. There was something magical about watching flames eat a page of newsprint with a whoosh. Or watching the slow lick of flames up the side of a cereal box.
I kind of wish we burned our trash even now. I realize burning isn’t automatically better than burying trash in a landfill. But I do maintain it’s pleasanter. And much nicer for toasting a marshmallow.
Plus, it reminds me of being a kid.
I keep hearing folks admonish the world to stop focusing on presents and holiday trappings. Rather, focus on the reason for the season. Which is Jesus, right?
Except I think we get mixed up about the reason for the season. I mean, what would Christmas look like if it really were just about Jesus? Sit with that a minute.
There’s a lot more than presents and fancy Christmas dinners that would go out the window if the season really were all about Christ and him crucified (because crucified is the whole point!). Maybe even some good things like time with family and church programs and nativity scenes.
I think our biggest Christian holidays boil down to two things:
- He is come!
- He is risen!
To take that a bit further. He came to die for YOU and for ME, but he’s not dead. And really, there’s only one way to celebrate that–tell someone.
So, today, I’m telling you. You who are having a remarkably perfect Christmas. And you who’s Christmas is just awful. You who don’t have enough fingers and toes to count your blessings and you sitting alone, steeped in sadness.
Christ came as a vulnerable baby, lived a perfect life without sin, and then sacrificed himself for YOU. And if you want, you can live forever with him. It really is the perfect gift and this Christmas my wish is that we’ll get to spend eternity together.
Jesus loves you. That, I think, is the reason for the season.
Are you ready?
Tree lights twinkle in the window, I’ve finished my shopping, made a pan of fudge, even sent out some actual Christmas cards . . . I guess I’m ready.
Do you remember Christmas Eve when you were a kid? Lying in bed, eyes wide open, listening for reindeer on the roof or the jingle of sleigh bells? Then, somehow, actually falling asleep and waking in the small hours of the morning to wonder if you could get up yet. And finally running to the tree to find all those wonderful gifts.
When’s the last time you were that excited about anything?
Of course, by the end of the day I also remember being tired from too little sleep, worn out with excitement and cousins, and somehow finding my gifts–as nice as they were–less exciting than they’d been that morning. The shine always wore off . . .
Maybe that’s because I’ve typically prepared for the wrong thing. It’s easy to say Christmas is about more than presents and decorations and food, but it’s hard to live that out. It’s hard to hold on to the idea of God incarnate when the world is so determined to draw our attention with all the little gods of the season.
So this week–this week leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth–my goal is to prepare my heart for Christ and him crucified. Which the world would say is a funny thing to think about at Christmas. But which my heart tells me is exactly what I should be preparing and living for every day . . . with excited anticipation.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 – And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
I love talking about my books and my writing. And it’s so nice when friends, family, readers, and others ask for details.
But there’s one question that comes up over and over that I simply don’t know how to answer. It usually comes up in that quiet time after the flurry of releasing a book is over but before I’m really promoting the next one.
The dreaded question is some variation of . . . How are your books doing?
Oh wait, I do know how to answer it. I DON’T KNOW.
And even when I kind of know, I still don’t know.
Here’s the problem. I get statements twice a year. Sure, they list how many books have been sold . . . as of three or four months ago. So I kind of have an idea of how many books moved a while back. Of course, if a new book has released in the meantime, I don’t know much about that one at all.
Oh but wait. The statement doesn’t actually list how many books SOLD, it lists how many books have been ordered by bookstores and other vendors. And guess what–they get to return the books they don’t sell.
For example: Say a June statement shows that 1,000 copies of a book published in January had been ordered as of February. The December statement may show that 250 of those were returned as of August. Does that mean 750 sold? Maybe. But not necessarily. Another 250 might have been returned in September.
So here are a few questions I’d love for you to ask instead:
- How’d you come up with the idea for that last book?
- What are you working on next? (I’ll be vague, but it’s still nice to be asked.)
- What do you like to read when you’re not writing?
- Or any of a dozen what’s-your-writing-life-like questions.
Basically, ask me about writing. Because I really don’t know how my book is doing . . .