impossibleway: (Picking Blueberries)
Iced tea glass


Ginger's been finding the best stuff at antique stores and estate sales lately.  I picked up this lovely glass at Goodwill yesterday. It's my new go-to iced tea glass.  I have a bit of a habit of breaking dishes, bless my heart.  Despite its issues with worker rights, Goodwill is the easiest place for me to find things we need around here. I really did well yesterday. I found four shirts each for Willow and Roan for the Fall, and two for Laurel when she gets bigger. Five were from Gymboree, which always makes me happy (and I love to look up the lines here). That stuff just lasts forever and I seem to have good luck finding it at our local stores.  All I need to do now is find a few pairs of pants for the big ones and see if there are any gaps to fill.
impossibleway: (Boletes on the Ground)
It's a busy week here at the Nichols Homestead as we prepare to visit Mike's family (and Ginger! and [livejournal.com profile] blakdove!).  We're excited and a little overwhelmed.  Nothing like a car needing $700 in repairs right before a big trip.  Oh, well, it's done and here are the May clicks.

*DSC_7482Nature is the Ultimate Sensory Experience :: Yes, it most certainly is.
*The role of purposeful work in a Waldorf kindergarten :: Lots of good information here that can easily be used at home.  I have taken to weeding when the children are outside.  That surely is a never-ending job that keeps me just on the periphery of their play.
*River Cottage videos :: I haven't had the time to watch these, but I always here good things about them.
*Modern Medicine May Not Be Doing Your Microbiome Any Favors :: I was interested especially in the difference in the way babies are born and how their bodies are populated with bacteria.
*Children First, From The Start
*Chewie ::  A pattern for a knitted Chewbacca.  Too cute.
*A Book of Seasons :: I want this book, sigh.
*Public Schools for Sale
*The disappearance of childhood and what we can do to get it back
*Bake Bread Like A Pioneer In Appalachia ... With No Yeast
*My Life in the New American Minimum Wage Economy
*The Prudent Homemaker Blog :: Lots of good frugal ideas here, very motivating.
*Nomadic Play :: Build a tiny yurt!
*The Vimala Alphabet :: Intriguing.  Anyone heard of this?
*Mothers and Fathers :: Thoughts about the gender divide in parenting.
*Nettle's Tale :: Handmade swimwear for normal women.
*Saying Goodbye To A Friend That's Ready To Go Home
*You Can't Bounce Off The Walls If There Are No Walls :: On outdoor kindergartens.
*Debate: Are Kids' Consumer Trends Worth Fighting?
*Mother's Day Is For Peace
*Easy Peasy Santa :: A cute Christmas craft.  Might make a nice gift.
*Yuletide Panettone :: Storing this away for later, too, maybe Christmas in July.
*Guys and Dolls: Veteran Toy Designer Wrestles With The Industry's Gender Divide :: The part about children outgrowing toys sooner was thought-provoking.
impossibleway: (Autumn Fern)
Better not let these slip away. . .

*Chai Tea Recipe :: This is a great one.  The whole family loves it and says it tastes better than the pumpkin spice concentrate we splurged on after last week's prenatal.  I use two Luzianne family size bags for the tea portion and 1/3 cup of sugar, though you could get away with 1/4 cup.
Walnut Baby*Baby Spats :: Or rather, leg warmers that don't slip up.  Might make some of these.
*The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto :: I might be a little slow to find this, but I still like it.
*On Removing Shame :: Another Brene Brown piece.  It's about schools, but having a great place in all interactions with children (and humans, for that matter).
*Snake-Handling Preachers Open Up about "Takin' Up Serpents' :: An incredibly polarizing topic around here.
*The Trendiest Vegetables of the Last 50 Years: From Avocado to Kale :: I might feel a little proud that I've never had kale chips, sort of like I've never watched The Lion King.
*Reading at five: Why? :: Yes, why?  It's not that I'm against young children reading, but it's not pushed here.  Willow is learning the shapes and sounds of various letters the same way she learned the colors four or so years ago, by asking and internalizing on her own.
*52 Weeks of Fairytales :: Lots of good ideas here and the stories!
*Leaf Maze :: It's the prime season to make one of these here.
*A hard film to swallow :: Oxyana, a film about the town of Oceana, WV and its problems with Oxycontin use.  I went there once and the images forever impacted me.  I'd never seen some place so dismal and now I know why.  To think we used to joke about taking Mike's family there (we've had times where they've locked car doors while we've been driving in the woods here).
*Haunted House Torte :: I can't help myself.  I want this cake.  Willow does, too.  Petit fours from an Atlanta bakery for her birthday will fill the gap nicely, though.
*Why U.S. Taxpayers Pay $7 Billion a Year to Help Fast-Food Workers :: It's time people start talking about the ways we truly pay for cheap goods and foods.  I was told by a Wal-Mart worker that learning to apply for assistance is part of how they welcome new employees.  I believe it.  What might be called "unskilled" or "entry-level" is no more.
*Flourless No Nut Chocolate Brownies :: On a lighter note.  Easy, tasty, fudgy.  Roan loves them.  Me, too.  Fetal love break.
*Turning a Page Inside a Rural One-Room Library :: We have several of these around here.  One's in a church.  In fact, I learned to knit a balaclava in one.
*First Listen: Death Cab for Cutie, 'Transatlancticism' Tenth-Anniversary Edition :: For nostalgia.  The soundtrack of the Autumn and Winter when Mike and I met. The rest flew fast.

One more:
*Keeping Advent :: All of October, preparing for the journey ahead.  I'm really enjoying this series, especially its timing!
impossibleway: (Autumn Fern)
End of Summer Nature TableOfficial Autumn is just hours away and it looks like tomorrow, the first day, will be just beautiful.  Sunny and cool.  Today, though, will be plenty wet and the children have built a hotel using the cosleeper and playstands.

*The Search for "Lost" Heritage Apples :: We're eating primarily homegrown and heritage apples this year, simply because there are so many and they're free.  Here's a list that shows off the varieties found in backyards, many of them coming from our area.
*Julia Child Was Wrong: Don't Wash Your Raw Chicken, Folks :: This is a no-brainer.  I've always been told to wash chicken and I've never done it.  No thanks.
*Drying and Harvesting Sunflowers :: I'm losing steam on the garden, which is good as all the tomatoes are done.  Don't know if I'll dry this year's seeds or not.  May just leave them for the birds.
*Elite Native Firefighters Join Crews at Yosemite :: Must be an interesting place out there.
*Marvelous Mushrooms :: Lots of neat handmade stuff to admire.
*4-Year-Old Overstimulated on Play-Dates :: No, your child is not possessed by demons.  Understanding over-stimulation helped me to lighten up quite a bit.
*Reversible Bucket Hat :: Free pattern!
*How to Soften Wool :: Thinking of trying this on some items.  It would surely increase my ability to knit if I could use up some of the scratchier yarns.
*Swing Your Partner: W. Va. Circles Back to Square Dancing :: Mike and I used to go to contra dances.  They were such fun (and such exercise!).  Makes me think ahead to the Molasses Festival.  I hope we get to go.
*Our Cultural Addiction to Phones, In One Disconcerting Video :: Ouch!  I don't have a phone, but Mike does.  Sticking with only free apps for the free phone keeps things in check, mostly.
*Why School is Like a Coloring Book :: I've never been a fan of coloring books.  Willow likes them right now, the ones that have crept in, but mostly we do blank paper.
*Wild Strawberries, a reusable produce bag :: Another free pattern and a possible Christmas gift for Willow's market.
*Beeswax Acorns :: Modelling beeswax can be hard to use sometimes, but this sounds like an easy activity (and cute!).  Scroll to the bottom of the post.
*Barnard President: Today's "Wonder Women" Must Reframe Feminism :: Lots of thought-provoking stuff here.  Must be why I cringe any time I hear "You can be anything you want to be."  It's not that easy.
*The Sour Cream Apple Pie :: I have made so many apple pies (and filling) this year, but I think I have time for one more.
*Coughing Shirt :: An interesting idea.  We surely dealt with a powerful cough last Winter, among those of us done nursing.  Hoping to dodge it this year.  This reminds me an awful lot of the Pebble Vest, without buttons.  This is a translated link, hope it works!
*Put Your Own Mask on First: Why Public School is Not the Answer :: I have had several teachers reply with great disappointment that my children will not be attending school.  I can't agree with everything on this blog, but this dissection of logic is thoughtful.
*8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance :: I've got a pretty good resistor over here, as Ginger would say.  I want to keep it that way.
impossibleway: (Hooded Girly with Basket)
Late Summer Nature TableMaking that long-awaited apple pie filling today.  I think there's another batch coming tomorrow.  Here are some links for August.

*A Hotshot Bit by the Shutterbug :: A Forest Service firefighter documents life fighting wildfires.  I briefly considered being a volunteer hotshot.  And then I put on the pack.  My petite body simply couldn't handle the weight.  Thirty pounds was my limit at the time.
*Real Waldorf and Homeschool Guilt :: Nice encouragement.
*How Midwives Have Become Critical in War Zones :: Mike knows someone who went to be a midwife in Sudan, so this is a special read.
*States Vary on What They Allow Midwives to Do :: Highlights Virginia.  If I test positive for Group B strep and want antibiotics during labor, I'll have to drive 47 miles to the state line to have them administered.
*Miracle Cleansing Bentonite Clay :: This made me think of Carrie.
*Turkey Wellington :: This sounds so good.  Not so sure about those jerk ham hocks, though.
*Why Millennials are Leaving the Church :: Interesting thoughts, not too unlike what Mike and I feel after spending our lives in church.
*Buttermilk Makes Everything Taste a Little Better :: Why, yes, it does.  Except I use kefir.  Kefir makes everything taste a little better, too.
*Lemon Lavender Tea Bread :: This sounds good.  I think I may have let my lavender get away from me, but there's always the next wave of blooms.
*Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Biscuits :: Sounds fun.
*The Dirt on Dirt: How Getting Dirty Makes for Healthy Kids :: I have to remind myself of this a lot.
*DIY Nursing Cami in Under 10 Minutes :: Might be a wonderful solution for my struggle to find nursing tank top that fits well.
*Cobbled Together: American Fruit Desserts :: Mmmm.  The differences between the various cobblers and crumbles.
*Dancing Butterflies :: These are just so sweet.
*Resources for Altering a Bra :: Good to have on hand.
*Are Snapshots Dead? :: A new way of looking at old, botched photos.
*Three Ways Cooking Had Changed Over the Last 300 Years :: Makes me think of The Victorian Kitchen.
*On Mount Everest, Sherpa Guides Bear the Brunt of the Danger :: How the people who carry gear for the "heroic" climbers fare.
*Natibaby Star Magic :: A sweet wrap that reminds me of Willow and Roan..
*What Should a 4 Year Old Know? :: Just enough.
*Ramen to the Rescue: How Instant Noodles Fight World Hunger :: I must admit that I especially enjoyed the bit about Michael Pollan.  There is a true different between the standards of folks who have been genuinely hungry and those who have not.
impossibleway: (Northbound)
Foggy VistaThe time of The Fog has arrived, and each morning is shrouded in clouds.  I forgot all about it, oddly.  Here's what I've been saving up for July.


*Needlefelted Ladybug :: Willow would just love this.  I am always so bad at Christmas stockings and we've never done gifts for St. Nicholas day, so I'm collecting ideas now.
*Say Yes to Outdoor Play in Winter :: Enough said.
*A Rural Struggle to Keep the Family Fed :: An NPR story about our local food bank, which is celebrating 11 or 12 years in operation.  The story is still much the same today.
*Mapping children's chances
*Alex's Chicken and Mushroom Marsala :: On a lighter note.  Maybe I'll make this some time.
*One Hundred Dollars a Month :: A frugal food and gardening blog.
*Bee Sting Cake :: Goodness, this looks good.
*Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake :: Making this for our Christmas in July tomorrow.  I even have the pan!
*Why I didn't quit sugar :: I don't think I could ever quit sugar.  Interesting post and articles.
*Blueberry Dumplings :: Made these and they were wonderfully easy.  Not too sweet at all.
*Take Along Mouse House :: So very sweet and inspiring.
*Waldorf Inspired Unschooling :: Maybe this is us.  I don't do a lot of direct teaching, but I do have a fair amount of environmental controls in place.
*Family Budget Calculator :: Find out how much The Man thinks you should be spending on food.  Our estimate was about twice what I think we really spend.
*Sheet Pan Pizza :: Wonderful crust and sauce.  This is what Pizza Hut ought to taste like without all that grease, light and airy, slightly crunchy.  It may have redeemed thick crust pizza for me.
*Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup :: Hoping to make this if Carrie has a surplus of squash this Fall.
*Simplicity Monday: Too Much :: Good reminders about keeping it simple as our children near adulthood.
*Black Bean Bisque :: Always looking for more things to do with beans.  Interesting blog, too, about feeding babies French foods.
*Soft Boiling an Egg :: Instructions found within this post.  I've never had one.
*Fighting Fire with Fire: Why Some Burns are Good for Nature :: When I was working for Smokey, he'd just started to turn his thoughts from avoiding all fires and using controlled burns.  Bless his heart, that dear bear is costing us now.
*On Minimizing :: Always nice to have reassurance.  I take toys downstairs every single week, always thinning and trading.
*My Take on Cronuts :: I'd not heard of these things, but it seems they are a Big Deal.  Huh.
*The Times They Are A-Changin' :: I know Bob didn't want to be a topical songwriter.  Still, I like this speech and photo compilation.
impossibleway: (John & Yoko)
Roan readsI cannot believe June is almost gone.  I've got a lot of links this month.  You'd think I'd spent all my time on the internet, but I think I've spent less time here.  My mind is more focused and each day has many things to keep me moving.  It is nice, but exhausting.  I am looking forward to High Summer, for once.

*Salisbury Steak :: My mother made this recipe and it's really good, though I halved it and that was plenty for several meals.  I think the simple gravy is the best part.  Willow even ate it.
*Inflation Calculator :: Helpful for when you're watching old television and want to know how much something would cost now.
*Pointer Hickory Stripe Overalls :: I'd love to have a pair of these for Roan.
*Toddlers: To Tame or to Trust :: I really like this.  It can be hard to keep the trust going when we are inconvenienced or have unrealistic expectations for our children.
*Clary Sage Essential Oil :: Wondering about using this for labor.  I need to ask Christie.  (Turns out, she thinks it's awesome!)
*Why is homeschool good? :: A very intellectual approach.
*Coming Home: The Woody Guthrie Center Opens in Tulsa :: I'd love to visit this.
*Retro Renovation :: Lots of great photos and ideas for those with mid-century homes.  Which is not us, but hey.  Still neat.
*to ramble about culture and christian status :: Encouraging to me as I stand on the fringes of my faith.
*An Update on Our Homeschooling :: A look at one family's way of learning naturally at home.
*Seeking a Slow and Special Summer :: About finding balance with the plethora of activities available to fill Summer days and allowing children to just be.
*Summer Solstice Traditions :: It's coming.  Like day after tomorrow!  Sure wish I had some daisies to make crowns for the children.
*Starting Your Starter :: Yup, still can't get sourdough pancakes out of my head.
*8 Safe Sunscreens for Summer Fun :: For now, we try to avoid strong sun and eat foods that strengthen our natural defenses.  I do need to get something for that mythic day at the lake that Willow is dreaming of.
*Why Finnish Babies Sleep in Cardboard Boxes :: I need one of these.  And now that I have family in Europe. . .
*Rainbow Doll Clothes :: These are just too sweet.  Of course, we do pretty well with our dyed silk hankies.  One note, Sarah's silks are not the weight I would prefer, just a little too light for long-term durability.
*Summer Stories and Summer Nature Table :: Sweet ideas for various ages.
*25 Ideas for Merrymaking Your Summer :: A great list.  We saw someone making giant bubbles in our neighborhood just last night.
*(What Is) A Successful Day :: Even with all this accomplishing I've been doing lately, I am working to enjoy the lazy hours, too.  Like this afternoon, a rest between the grassy flurry of mowing and going out to the Old Davis Homeplace to pick berries and get the mail.
*Natural and Logical Consequences in Non-Punitive Parenting :: I was once asked what we did when things went awry.  Well.  This is it.
*Highlander Resource and Education Center :: I bet this would be a really powerful place to visit.
*On Staying Calm and Centered with Children Under 7 :: How our home operates when things are at their best.  A good reminder on a day when I am feeling worn.  I think the respite of naptime is doing well to recharge me.
*Garden Hobbit House :: Too cute.  This is why I store links away.  I want to remember this when the children are older.
*Cooking Guide for Dried Beans :: Came across this while looking to see if I could substitute cranberry beans with red kidneys.  Put some on to to soak and then I came across the red kidneys.  Guess I'll have plenty for the freezer.
*Epic Hot Chocolate :: It is pretty epic, must say.  Makes a good dip for Taco Bell churros.  I avoided Taco Bell for five years until I heard about the churros.  The defining moment of my high school trip to Disneyworld was when I ate my first one.
*The Swell Season: Tiny Desk Concert :: Loving this.

The end.

Oops.  One more.

*The Craft of Midwifery
impossibleway: (Mike Panorama)


Roan waits for Thankgiving

Turkey on Wednesday.

Thanksgiving sandwich

Sandwiches and cemeteries on Thursday.

At the cemetery

And today?  Hay bails and protests.


impossibleway: (Sunset)
Indian cornMiraculously, everyone else here is asleep.  It's been a doozy of a day, a lot of energy flying in different directions.  I've found moments of peace, though, and am remembering those as I sit here and enjoy the quiet.  Roan and I went out to the Old Davis Homeplace to feed the horses this morning.  It was beautiful--sunlight sparkling on the trees, little bits of lingering frost here and there, and remembrances of times past. 

There's been a piece of cardboard nailed to a signpost hanging for a couple months marking the way to a local church for a wedding.  It's interesting that we live in a place where folks put up torn cardboard to direct wedding guests.  It might be considered redneck, but I think there is some charm to it--that folks are not above such things.  Those things would never fly in the big city.

Speaking of signs, I have noticed that the landscape is decidedly void of election signs.  Usually, they hang around for a few months afterward, but people brought them in, it seems, the night of the election itself.  We live in an area where 2/3 of the voters chose Mitt Romney, so that's a lot of signs.  Regardless of the outcome and my thoughts about it, it is nice not to have to look at all the advertising anymore.  I think I can count on one hand the ones that are left.

I am looking forward to this week.  I've roast the last pumpkins and am ready to make pies.  I'm going to make bread so we can have Thanksgiving sandwiches on Thursday.   We'll celebrate on Wednesday due to Mike's work schedule.  Black Friday won't include shopping here, but maybe we'll do something fun outside.  Just have to see what the weather holds.

impossibleway: (Autumn Fern)

It's that time again! 

  • Red OakHow a Home Birth Works :: My account on the logistics of having a baby at home for Stacy's dear friend, Erin.
  • Spotted Toadstool Beret :: Super cute!
  • Homemade Chocolate Syrup :: I've made this recipe two times now.  I like it much better than Ovaltine or hot chocolate mix.
  • Make your own rainbow dollhouse :: From Sarah's Silks.  I think this would be a wonderful way to have a house that would be seasonal and a wonderful alternative to some of the more complex versions out there.
  • If gentle discipline isn't working, this might be the reason :: A lot of great ideas here, especially for when you're having a day that makes you think you might have fouled the whole thing up. 
  • Lunch is served :: A thoughtful look at how to make everyday meals more special.  I think it also touches on our feelings about childhood and the ways we can honor it by being deliberate in simple ways.
  • Waldorf Doll Hospital :: The process of repairing worn dolls.  Shoowee.  Having just made two dolls, I must admit I winced a little when I was reading over this. It does, however, make me glad that I don't put noses on my dolls, since that seems to contribute to a lot of the wear.  Take good care of your dolls, people!
  • The Weavers: Wasn't That a Time :: A documentary made about The Weavers' reunion in the early 80's.  Willow and I are big fans and their greatest hits album is often our soundtrack to clean up times.
  • Pine Cone Gnomes :: Very cute!  If you're looking for the wood components of this or other projects, visit Casey Wood Products.
  • A People's History of the United States :: This is the full text of the book I finished reading a few weeks ago.  It's history written from the perspective of the common person, finally making it interesting and relateable to me.  Affirmed my beliefs, but also changed my life.
  • Magda Gerber's RIE Philosophy: Basic Principles :: Simply good ideas.
impossibleway: (John & Yoko)

Golden leaves

Sometimes, I remember my Old Self.
I figure out that it's not gone like I thought it was.
New things come along, new people.
But, I'm still there.
That sense of optimism I had in college.
It's still there.
I look to my aging friends and see the future.
It is not as bleak as some would lead us to believe.

Sometimes, I remember my Protesting Self.
I wonder how I made it there, the forces that guided me.
The chance meetings.
The singing in circles.
I speculate if That Self is the one that got me fired.
The Man wasn't man enough to handle me.
That Self is still there.
More years, more knowledge.
Someday, wisdom.

Sometimes, I dip down.
I bottom out and ride the valley.
I see that what They say is wrong.
Time won't get me down.
The world is bigger than my fiefdom.
Challenges improve my optimism.
It's still there.
Seeing it grow in this first third--
I can't imagine the next two.

Sometimes, I get glimpses of my Future Self.
The one that looks back on golden mornings playing with piles of pillows.
The one that loses the memory of my babies.
They are foreign to me, this early in.
They're fleeting these days.
The crawl and they run.

Boy blur

impossibleway: (Peace can do better)
This picture makes me think of Susan--if you see it full-size, there are little bits of dust sparkling in the sunlight.  If you're out there Susan, it's for you.  The rest of you, well, here are some links to keep you busy.  We're headed out for our long-awaited blueberry expedition, tin pail in tow.


And one more very special click. . .

  • I am proud to announce the arrival of Stacy's little boy this past Sunday in the very wee hours of the morning.  My first doula experience was really wonderful, just perfect.  Head on over and offer your well wishes!
And now, to greet the day!
impossibleway: (Barefeet)
Wow, five years of blogging.  Can I share with you what prompted me to start writing again? 

DSCN4029Well, it was the infamous Thanksgiving of the Twelve (or Thirteen) Side Dishes and an argument over Gone with the Wind and how I avoid most things with war in them.  The Fall after Mike and I moved into our own home, we began making plans to host his family for the Thanksgiving meal.  I would cook and they would bring the pecan pie.  I ordered a massive turkey from Earth Fare that had been apologized to before it met its end.  We drove 3 hours round trip to bring that bird home.  That was only the beginning.

Mike's oldest sister is a vegetarian, so I felt the need to accommodate the absence of turkey in her meal.  I did this by planning the largest meal I would ever cook.  I began cooking in advance, of course, not unlike the Wilder family in Farmer Boy as they prepared for Christmas.  It seemed rather romantic to me at the time, days of preparation for a special occasion.  I felt excited as I watched the kitchen and refrigerator fill with food for my guests.  Let me see if I can remember all the dishes I cooked.

Turkey, of course
Stuffing, or "dressing,"  if you are so inclined
Green beans
Homemade cranberry sauce
Fresh pineapple
Fresh pomegranate (have you ever disassembled one?)
Mashed potatoes
Homemade rolls
Stuffed mushrooms
Palmiers
Wedding cookies
Pumpkin pie
Pecan pie

Christmas 2006 - Brandy 01Yeah, I think that covers it.  While my mother did help with seasoning the stuffing and mashed potatoes, there were no disasters.  But, I bet you can guess that I was really too tired and overextended to take joy in the day.  At the end of the day, one sister sat in a parking lot, too angry to come back to our house to go to sleep.  All I could do the next morning was get up in the icy cold and walk six miles around the lake to unwind.  I tried writing in a paper journal to sort it all out, but my hand could not work fast enough.

I've been reading over posts from the early days, back when this blog was a fairly private place with about three readers.  I talked about snow and knitting, but politics took up a lot of my time then, as I had most of my life to make up for.  They were never a big deal in my family--my mom has never registered to vote.  My dad and I discussed presidential elections a time or two, but my family did not (and still does not) watch the news.  But when I met Mike's family--shoowee.  I was on the tail-end of finding out how I really felt about war and social justice and then I added in-laws.  

Those early days, in the midst of such strong opposing opinions, felt isolating.  I admit I've been feeling those same things afresh as I've been thinking over these past five years.  Time has changed me, for certain, but it has also not changed me.  My body has brought two new people into the world, forever changing it, but those ideals I expressed in the early days haven't changed.  My choice of voluntary simplicity has now become necessary simplicity.  My preference for pacifism over violence has helped my parenting of a young child.

brandy2The collective "we" often looks on youth as a time of ignorance, "young and dumb" as some have called it.  Perhaps it is because we are so envious of who we were before all the cares of Real Life set in.  What I think, instead, is that we were more blessed than we could understand at the time, seeing as how we could not know the future.  I wrote about parents storing their children, not knowing how important important an attached, present parenting style would be to our family.   We bought this little house, with no idea of what we were doing.  Now, I see that spending within our means has allowed us to have a tiny mortgage payment as these lean years outnumber the wealthy two times over.

I've spent a lot of time lamenting my Old Self versus my New Self.  Inner work is a constant task for me, as I suppose it is for the rest of you.  It's often something we don't talk about.  I have a hard time with my new hips and bust, but they brought forth and cared for people.  They have done their ultimate work, I tell myself, trying to feel better about it.  I have a hard time with this impoverished life we now lead, even though I praised simple living.  I didn't know my biggest tests, my biggest inspirations for creativity would be a life on a quarter of what we used to earn.  My Old Self could not yet know my New Self, and yet there was so much in the past that makes sense for now, preparations made that see their fruits in the present.

FH000018If I am to be an optimist, I tell myself that God is infinitely smarter than we are--that we are made better than we can imagine.  That this life-journey is so amazing that the years behind compliment the years ahead.  I cannot help but believe, or choose to believe, that all of these things really do work together for good.  I just wonder what's next.

Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now.

impossibleway: (John & Yoko)
from Pete Seeger, what he says when people despair:

"In the early 1970s, did you ever expect to see President Nixon resign because of Watergate?" "No, I didn't," people answer.

"Did you ever expect to see the Pentagon leave Vietnam the way it did?" "No, we did not," everyone answers.

"In the 1980s, did you expect to see the Berlin Wall come down so peacefully?" "No, never."

"In the 1990s, did you expect to see Nelson Mandela released from prison, apartheid abolished and Mandela become president of South Africa?" "Never," they say.

"Well, if you can't predict those things, then don't be so confident that there's no hope! There's always hope!"

 
borrowed from [livejournal.com profile] gannet.  I used to be so hopeful.  I need to find my way back there. . .
 
impossibleway: (A Winter's Solstice)
Mike called (!) from Uganda yesterday using Skype.  He was asking permission to get Willow some cute Dutch toys he saw in Amsterdam (for $10), among other things.  It was good to hear his voice and I was glad I had not gone out that morning with Mama Lutheran to look at yarn.  One week till he starts his long journey home.  They're in Sudan now, so the real work and meditation of the trip is under way.  Mike sounded very energetic and upbeat.

Back at the Blackberry Bungalow, things are humming along and I'm feeling that the timing of the trip was very good.  At a year, Willow is starting to be more independent than say, standing in my lap all the time or needing constant stimulation.  I'm all for being involved with children, not leaving them to television and battery-operated toys.  It is nice to be able to make phone calls while she "farms," which she LOVES.  Also, it's a good time for us to refocus and find a new rhythm for home.  The past couple months have been full of tension as we've come to grips with our incredibly tiny budget.  It will be pleasant to have a little break and start fresh before winter.

It's been frosty most mornings this week.  Tuesday I cut off the leaves of the lilies, irises and so on and piled them in back.  The only thing left is some broccoli and the mums.  The leaves made a dramatic fall earlier in the week and now the red oaks are the last remaining deep red color.  We've hit that time of fall when the fan fare is over and we all start to settle for the winter.  I wonder if it will snow before Mike comes back.  The forecast is very optimistic for the weekend--upper 60's--so it's not likely it will happen.  Last year, it snowed all November!

I'm contemplating going to the cabin tonight to take in the bareness of the trees and the crunch of the forest floor.  My mom's been awful micro-manage-y of Willow and me lately, so that gives me pause.  Of course, I'm the grown-up in charge of Willow, so I must find reasonably polite ways of asserting my authority.  Isn't it funny how we humans get all bent out of shape just because other people like to do things differently.

I've been thinking a lot about that lately.  That, and how Bob McDonnell is going to make a dreadful governor.

impossibleway: (Northbound)
Saturday was the Whitetop Maple Syrup Festival and as always, we went with Grandad.  The sausage was superb this year, though sometimes it is cooked into submission.  The school where it is held, the Mount Rogers Combined School, is closing soon and this makes us rather sad.  We're hoping that they keep up the building as a community center.  Most things about the festival have never changed and it would be disappointing to crowd into a fire department instead.

Okay, enter rant here.  The link above, which gives a cute little synopsis of the school, has a link to a 20/20 special about Appalaysha (as those city folks call it).  Makes us sound so pathetic, drug-addicted and backwoods.  The article about the school says most kids haven't been out of Southwest Virginia and makes it sound super sad that the library only has three computers.  You know why?  Because most graduating classes are less than five!  Why would you need labs full of them?!

This is the plight of Appalachia--the depiction of us, starving and stupid.  Boy, this was going to be a sweet little post about our weekend and now I've gone over the edge.  I blame the captions below the woman featured on the special, as if you couldn't understand her.  I've heard accents MUCH thicker than that one.  Eight miles both ways, no umbrella.

Truly, we are poor here.  Even Mike and I are under the poverty line.  But that is not all we are.  I could surely take dozens of photographs of houses fit for condemnation that are very much inhabited, but that is not the point of life here.  I suppose that's why I do the Forgotten Virginia series, to show away from the glitz of Northern Virginia, a real and special place exists.  It's rough around the edges (and not totally paved over yet), but isn't all life?

impossibleway: (Peace can do better)



My favorite song about America. :-)  Happy Inauguration Day!
impossibleway: (Peace can do better)
Rarely, an opportunity comes up that begs you to take it.  When Mike and I heard that Bill Clinton was coming to Abingdon's Higher Education Center, we were on it.  I was nervous about waiting in a large crowd, but the prospect of seeing someone so influential gave me the stamina and courage to do it.

And it was crowded. . .



Hours of waiting, crowds pressing in closer and closer, emotions running high, sore feet and tired legs. . .

Was it worth it?
 


Oh, yes. 

We were twenty feet away, right up front.  I cried when he came on stage, and I usually never allow myself such emotions.  I've had times where I was a little disappointed about getting to meet someone "important," but this was absolutely not one of them.  He gave a wonderful speech, so articulate, so down home.  Mike got great photos and we even got to shake his hand.

No disappointment whatsoever.

How often do moments like this come along?  Once.
impossibleway: (Feet at the Lump)
Saturday, Mike and I took the long way over past Dungannon to the Falls of Little Stony.  Instead of oppressing ourselves with the interstate and the long stretch of US Highway 19, we took the scenic route over US Highway 16.  We curved over the mountain and down the other side to Rich Valley.  The valley is huge and deep with profound rocky outcroppings at every turn.

Then we turned onto US Highway 42 and headed West to Saltville.  Old Saltworks Road took us to Route 80 and through Poor Valley, through Hayter's Gap and over Rich Mountain.  In the valley below, it was quite peaceful and we found lots of people out working in their yards and gardens.

The landscape in extreme Southwest Virginia is very profound and not very much like the lush valleys and steep hillsides in our part of the Forgotten Virginia.  When we came into the valley of Elk Garden (not the hillside on the AT where we were married), it was like stepping across the continent to the West.  Rusty fences and rocky fields gave an impressive feeling to the land.  Mike and I stopped to admire the uniqueness of it all.  In one field, where they were probably growing hay, people had picked up all of the rocks and it was a smooth contrast to the lumpy landscape.

After a stop in Lebanon at a drive-in that claimed to "the best burgers in the USA," we traveled on to our destination.  Once inside the National Forest, we saw the results of the prescribed burn that was taking place back in April or March when we came to visit Anna and Mark.  The forest floor was bare of leaves, but new green life was springing forth everywhere.

Finally, the falls.  Mike and I swam for two hours and played with some of the children who had come with their family to the secluded spot.  The water coming down the falls was quite warm, compared with the pool below and felt like a very rough shower on my back.  The water was much lower than the first time I had come there.  It was, however, just the right depth for swimming.

When I was a sophomore at Emory & Henry, Dr. Davis asked me to fill in as secretary for a committee he was serving on.  It was a committee appointed by Congressman Boucher to advise concerning a new National Recreation Area in the Clinch Ranger District.  It was full of interests from all sides and had met many months debating the issues.  There were many fears, including takings like the ones that happened in the formation of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. 

I took 22 pages of notes at the meeting, and we went on a field trip.   We piled into a bus and traveled many back roads to the Falls of Little Stony, Bark Camp Lake and High Knob Fire Tower.  A hubcap even fell off the bus at one point because of the rocky roads.  We also went to the Guest River Gorge and walked its trails.  I saw my first solar composting toilet there, and met wonderful people like Steve Brooks and Tom Davenport.  All the while we were followed by a caravan of protesters against the National Recreation Area.  Some places we couldn't even get out because the crowds were too threatening.  After it was all over, no such High Knob National Recreation Area came into existence.  The political climate was just too unsettled.



I wonder what it would have been like
if things had been different.
impossibleway: (Default)
Okay, so it's happened.  Actually lots of "its" have happened.



  1. My head is really starting to swell.  I'm on the front of the Bristol paper, according to Maggie.  I'm in Wytheville, where Bristol papers are scarce, so I'll have to wait till I get home.
  2. My mother told me she's really proud of my letter to the editor.  She's a non-political woman, so this means a lot to me.  She says she's been showing it to clients at her office.
  3. My grandmother's neighbor brought her the paper that I was in.  She knew who I was!
  4. Mike spoke very well last night at the joint session of the Smyth County board of supervisors and planning commission.  He's from Gwinnette County, GA, which was the fastest growing county in the US for  15 YEARS.  He knows the aftermath of unchecked growth.
  5. I saw NASCAR people and still cannot manage to respect or be awed by them.  I feel there is something sinful about driving around in lots of circles, it channels the devil or something.
  6. I spoke in favor of more information about Sheridan Ridge Private Reserve and against the idea that such a resort community would help young people.  There will be no place for Smyth County residents there, except to serve the occupants by clipping grass and scrubbing toilets.  No thank you; I do that gladly at my own little house, but not at yours.  (I didn't say the part about the toilets and grass)
  7. I heard lots of real estate agents support it.  I could also hear their mental calculators predicting their commissions.
  8. This Bristol paper article is very biased and only shows support and a local extremist.  Ouch!
  9. The planning commission passed bending the rules for the developers.  There are more steps to go.
  10. And lastly, there was a man who said he was concerned about us floating down the river into a sea of mediocrity.
I learned a lot about my county and town last night.  And I learned that Appalachia is the perfect place for me to work for good.  I now know why I do not have a job in Smyth County and why I don't work for the Forest Service.  I couldn't stand up for my place if I did.

Blessings in disguise and prayers on my lips.

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