Thursday, November 30, 2006


"IF you live in or long for the southern mountains-- IF you find yourself drawn toward the pace and pleasures of unhurried, out-of-the-way places-- IF you hope for a home you are waiting to find, then you will feel at home in the pages of this "memoir of place", Slow Road Home ~ a Blue Ridge Book of Days."

I just finished this book by Fred First, a fellow blogger friend. For anyone who lives in, loves, or longs for the Blue Ridge mountains or just enjoys nature and a slower pace of life, this is a must-read! Fred has an incredible gift with words and an eye for the ordinary and small things that most of us pass by and take for granted. The book is made up of short essays and vignettes about his life on his farm in a little narrow valley of southwest Virginia. He takes the reader along with him as he discovers the wonders that are just outside his back door.

I loved the book, which is best read slowly, one essay at a time, to take in the thoughts and imagery of each entry. It would make a wonderful winter read and a wonderful gift- and I'm sure Fred would be more than happy to personalize each copy. For more info on "Slow Road Home" and Fred First, click here. And while you're there, check out his blog- it is my daily must read blog and he posts wonderful photographs along with it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


For those who love traditional Appalachian music, or who know people who do, I want to introduce you to
Anne Lough...... also known as "Mom". Yes, I am blessed to have a wonderful musician as a mother and grew up with a childhood full of music...........

My mom has several wonderful albums..... I am currently listening to "Leading of the Star", her instrumental Christmas album. She teamed up with her friend, Karin Lyle, who plays harp, and the album is made up of traditional Christmas carols and hymns on hammered and lap dulcimer, and harp. It's the one Christmas album I allow myself to start playing before Christmas because it is so beautiful and relaxing. A great CD to play on a cold, dark winter's night.

She will also have a new traditional album coming out soon with friends who play banjo and fiddle. I'll post about that when it is released. To check out all her recordings, go here. Then you can click on the "recordings" link. Any of the CD's would make a good gift for friends or family who love traditional Appalachian music. My mom specializes in the old mountain ballads and folk songs, so don't expect bluegrass music (just wanted to put in that disclaimer). I think she is one of the best dulcimer and traditional artists out there- but, of course, I could be a little biased :) . So go check out her site and tell her I sent you!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go........ here's some photos I took during an evening stroll in a nearby downtown.... (they're not the greatest as I don't have a good camera for nightshots). It's a lovely "oldtown" area with brick streets for pedestrians only and quaint stores, restaurants and coffeeshops. I wanted to post these to get everyone in Christmas mode as I'm going to plug some friends and family who are musicians and artisans in the coming week :) . For those who like to stay away from all the big box stores and buy more personal gifts, tune in over the next several days......

Friday, November 24, 2006

MAKING PIES.................

Pumpkin pie is Sir Laughsalot's FAVORITE kind of pie. I think he would eat a whole one if I let him. This year he wanted to make one from scratch. And not from the can, scratch.......fom a pumpkin. He begged and begged at Halloween to make one from our Jack-o-lanterns innards, but I explained that you had to use a special kind of pie pumpkin and we would make one for Thanksgiving. And, of course, I saw plenty of pie pumpkins for sale during October, but when we tried to find one for Thanksgiving, none could be found. We tried farmer's markets, fruit stands, grocery stores, etc. to no avail. I held out until Thanksgiving Eve and went to one last grocery store, but no luck!!! So Sir Laughsalot, much to his disappointment, had to make one from canned pumpkin. We actually made two, one to share and one to have all to himself! :) He was a very good pie maker and was very excited about the outcome, as you can see. I also learned that next year, we need to buy the pie pumpkin early. Any tips on preserving it until Thanksgiving time? Or any advice on where to get a pie pumpkin closer to Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

HAPPY THANKSGIVING.................... (I probably won't post the next couple of days with all the preparations and activities. Have a wonderful time with family and friends!)


The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,

The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway ---Thanksgiving comes again!
~~Old Rhyme.~~

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Heeeeere's Joooohnny.............

Johnny Staats that is! He came to our little town last night and all I can say is WOW!!

He is a mandolin phenomenon! He brought along a guitar player and bass player, all incredible musicians. Both Johnny and his guitar player are flatpicking champions on their respective instruments. The crowd loved them and they received a standing ovation and came back on stage for an encore. And bluegrass fan or not, he is worth going to hear- his playing is so unique you don't have to like bluegrass to enjoy it- the musicianship alone is worth going to see.

The cool thing is Johnny drives an UPS truck full-time to support his family- he even wrote a song about "the big brown truck". So that makes his accomplishment on the mandolin even more incredible. And he still lives in a small town in his native West Virginia even though he's been offered the opportunity to go to Nashville. So I highly recommend checking out his tour schedule and going to hear him if he comes near you. And that's my plug- more to come on other musicians and friends of mine ! :)

Click here for a sound bite..

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The B. Street Band.........

Here's some summer photos of sir laughsalot and his neighborhood buddies doing some pickin' and grinnin' of their own. The girls' dad and I were practicing on our front porch and the kids decided to start up their own band. They even put a hat out for passersby to drop a coin in. I guess you can't start too young!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Winter Gardening

The garden is dead.
Not one leaf shows life.
Not a single blossom survives the winter chill.

You are tempted to simply wait
for the warmth of spring
to begin the garden anew,

but you know the soulful work of gardening
done in these lonely hours of winter
spell the difference between a few spring flowers

and the rich abundance of June's brightest promise,
and so you step into the cold,
shovel in hand,

seeing not the frosted frozen soil of now,
but the passionate flowers of tomorrow.

This is a poem by
Tom Atkins that was posted on his site a couple of days ago. When I read it, I immediately associated it with the children I have worked with for the past 8 years- children with severe behavior and emotional problems due to the trauma of abuse and neglect. That's what I love about poetry- it's like beauty, the meaning is in the eye of the beholder (or reader, in this case). Instead of a physical garden, I thought about the frozen and deadened hearts I see in the children; children most other people have given up on and don't see any potential in. But using God's vision, I can see in them the potential and hope for the future: "the passionate flowers of tomorrow". Without seeing that, I wouldn't be able to do what I do. I have to continue to pray for God to help me see them through His eyes, as many of them do everything possible to be unlovable and to push people away. So it's the type of work where again and again during "these lonely hours of step into the cold, shovel in hand." So thanks Tom! This will be a poem I'll go to over and over as I work with "the passionate flowers of tomorrow"! And a big "Hurrah!!!" for the other people I so admire, working in the trenches, doing the very same thing!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Orphan Crisis .....
"143 million children worldwide have lost one or both parents ... ... from AIDS, war, ethnic cleansing, natural disasters ... ... and now many are condemned to lives of crime, prostitution, and killing in order to survive."
This quote is from an e-mail I received recently from Focus on the Family. For those who know me, it is an issue that is close to my heart, and also an issue that is close to God's heart: "... You are the defender of orphans ... LORD, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will listen to their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so people can no longer terrify them.- Psalm 10:14, 17-18
The case of orphans is a global epidemic that will only continue to get worse, especially with the AIDS epidemic. It is estimated that by the year 2010, there wil be over 25 million children orphaned by AIDS. And statistically, kids that grow up as orphans, even in the states, have little chance for a decent life. Several Christian organizations are teaming up to bring awareness to this issue, help people learn more about this crisis, and offer ways that the average person can help. It is an issue that affects all of us, so if you have time, please visit this site and learn more: .

Monday, November 13, 2006

November in Appalachia........the last installment :)
(again, you can click on a photo to enlarge)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

November in Appalachia continued...............

Thursday, November 09, 2006

November In Appalachia............ I took these on a recent drive on a foggy, overcast November day and will follow up with more. You can click on an image to enlarge it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Country Boys and Girls Getting Down on the Farm.......

A growing trend in our area is for local farms to do elaborate corn mazes in their dried fields. It is a really fun fall activity and we went with friends to one of the best ones recently. You can even do it at night with flashlights and they have bonfires going and provide hot dogs and marshmallows to roast. These are the things that i hope will make for lasting family memories.....
(you can click on the pics for a larger version)

1. Getting lost in the maze

2. View from bridge in the middle of the maze

3. Me with my fellow mountain momma's

4. Guard your hearts all ye lasses

5. How tall in the fall?

6. Winding down at dusk

Monday, November 06, 2006

(I've had this on my fridge for the past 8's tattered and has survived several moves. I don't know the author...but it means a lot to me as it is a daily reminder to step outside of my comfort zone, think about, and pray for these children.)
A Prayer For Children...
We pray for children who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
who like to be tickled, who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
who sneak popsicles before supper, who erase holes in math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes.
And we pray for those
who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who've never squeaked across the floor in new sneakers,
who never "counted potatoes",
who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead,
who never go to the circus, who live in an X-rated world.
We pray for children
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who sleep with the dog and bury the goldfish,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunchmoney,
who cover themselves with Band-aids and sing off-key,
who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink, who slurp their soup.
And we pray for those who never get dessert,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind,who can't find any bread to steal,
who don't have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser, whose monsters are real.
We pray for children
who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories, who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
and never rinse out the tub,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who don't like to be kissed in front of the car pool,
who squirm in church and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at, and whose smiles can make us cry.
And we pray for those
whose nightmare come in the daytime, who will eat anything,
who have never seen a dentist, who aren't spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being.
We pray for children who want to be carried, and for those who must.
For those we never give up on, and for those who don't get a chance.
For those we smother,
and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Well, we got bit last night from the first stomach bug of the season. Needless to say, Sir Laughsalot was not laughing as he managed to utter, "This is the worst day EVER!" as he leaned over the toilet. So today will be laundry day, washing the pile of clothes, sheets, and towels from the nights foray. And enduring the gurgly stomach in anticipation of it getting passed along..... ahhh..... the joys of motherhood!!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This new, technologically illiterate blogger has a question for all you seasoned bloggers out there. How do you post a live link within your blog? Say I'm talking about a band I really like, and want people to be able to click on their name and go to their website. I've noticed on other's blogs, the link is usually in blue with a line under it. Can you help me?