Appalachian Thursday – Lion or Lamb?

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 […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Burning the Trash

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. […]

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Just One Week Till Christmas!

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 […]

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Please Stop Asking Authors THIS Question

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. […]

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Advent – Looking Forward to Christmas

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. Which, in my book, means the Christmas season has begun. Advent is traditionally a time of preparation, of looking forward to celebrating the birth of Christ and to his return. Do you remember what it was like to look forward to Christmas when you were a kid? I know I was on pins and needles. I’d mailed off my list to Santa. We’d be baking cookies, singing carols, and decorating the house. There might have been a visit to some obviously lower level Santa at the mall. The anticipation was building and . . . . . . I was EXCITED!! So how do I look forward to Christmas these days? Hmmmm. There are presents to buy, decorations to put up, parties to host or attend, cards to mail, food to prepare, family to wrangle, and expectations to . . . well . . . fail to meet. Oh, and then there’s all the church stuff. Greening the church, our ladies’ Christmas party, a Christmas program, a Christmas Eve service . . . And somewhere in there maybe, just maybe, pausing to remember what’s actually worth looking forward to–what I really should be anticipating. In a word–Jesus. The Christmas season is upon us. We all know how easy it is to be swept up by our to-do lists and to end up just checking off each day until suddenly, Christmas has come and […]

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