Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Grandfather Ed.......
Another Hero fighting for his family and community..... Ed Wiley. After seeing his granddaughter and her classmates getting steadily sicker from attending Marsh Fork Elementary School, sitting below a huge coal processing plant and Mountaintop Removal Site, he committed to walk 455 miles...... from Charleston, WV, to Washington, D.C. to try to get our politicians to take notice and build the children a new school.

A blog chronicling his journey is here . You have to scroll down to the bottom for the first post. For more info about Marsh Fork Elementary, go here.
It's been a year since Ed's march and despite commitments from state politicians, nothing has been done.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Keeper of the Mountain......

Hello my friends..... I am back from the Stream Buffer Zone Hearing with a renewed passion and energy to fight the evil of Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining. I finally got to meet some of the heroes of the battle.... the people in the midst of the struggle, enduring great hardships because of Coal, but standing up to the giant. I am not quite done processing the whole experience yet.... but after seeing everday folks stand up and testify, bring filthy water in from their wells and creeks, despite the jeering and laughter of big, intimidating men all around the room sent out by the coal companies, I see the need to fight even harder. I, myself, was jeered as I spoke and was able to see the true nature of the industry that we are fighting. They had absolutely no respect for any of the speakers, even a little 71 year old lady who spoke on behalf of her community.... they constantly interrupted her and one even yelled out: "You're senile, Sit Down and Be Quiet!"

So while I am processing it all, I am going to feature some of the heroes fighting for their land, lives, and community. Firstly, Larry Gibson , a.k.a. 'Keeper of the Mountain', whom I was so honored to meet. Here is his story:

Larry Gibson's family has lived on or near Kayford Mountain since the late 1700's. More than 300 relatives are buried in the cemetery on Kayford Mountain. Larry and his family used to live on the lowest lying part of the mountain, and looked "up" to the mountain peaks that surrounded them. Since 1986, the slow motion destruction of Kayford Mountain has been continuous -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Eighteen years after the "mountain top removal" project began, Larry Gibson now occupies the highest point of land around; he is enveloped by a 12,000 acre pancake in what was previously a mountain range.

(As a sidenote.... just recently, part of Larry's family cemetery was bulldozed through, even though the coal company knew it was illegal..... )

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Apple Butter time........

It's that time of year in the mountains..... time for making apple butter. On any given Friday or Saturday, you can drive the backroads of Appalachia and stumble upon families, churches, and community groups gathered around huge kettles, sitting in lawn chairs, tables piled with home-made food cooked by the womenfolk to sustain the workers through the 24 hour process.

This weekend, it was our turn for stirring the big pots at Sir Laughsalot's little, rural school. It was a perfect fall day for the venture.... cool breezes and blue skies.

Selling apple butter is our school's big fall fundraiser along with an ice-cream social in the spring. We feel extremely blessed to live in an area where the small, community schools have been able to remain open due to community and parental involvement. I am a strong believer in small class sizes and parental involvement.... there are only 13 children in the whole Kindergarten class at this school, which ensures a lot of individual attention and more time and energy for creative teaching.

For this particualr venture, we worked in shifts, parents and kids. It was a great opportunity to meet other parents and the kids enjoyed helping out.
When their arms got tired, they played
on the school playground or climbed the woodpile...

I cherished the morning.... the sense of community, coming together to support our kids and school.... the smell of woodsmoke and apples... kids helping and learning to work together.... stirring a huge kettle full of apple butter, outdoors, surrounded by the beautiful, fall-hued mountains......

Our mountain ancestors might have been doing the very same thing on a similar weekend, over a hundred years ago.

Connection, Community, Family, Simplicity......

Life is good!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Received in my e-mail box last week:

'You are receiving this email in response to your request relating to the proposed rule that the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement published on August 24, 2007. Among other things, the rule would place additional restrictions on the construction of excess spoil fills and clarify the stream buffer zone rule.

After reviewing the requests that we received, OSM has decided to extend the deadline for receipt of comments on the proposed rule until November 23, 2007. We also will be holding public hearings to accept testimony on the proposed rule at four locations on October 24, 2007. All hearings are scheduled to begin at 6 pm and end at 9 pm.

The hearings will be held at the following locations:

· Holiday Inn Charleston ( Charleston House), 600 Kanawha Boulevard East, Charleston , West Virginia .

· Hazard Community & Technical College , Hazard Campus, Jolly Center , Room 208, One Community College Drive , Hazard , Kentucky .

· Pellissippi State Technical Community College , Goins Auditorium , 10915 Hardin Valley Road , Knoxville , Tennessee .

· Ramada Inn Washington, 1170 West Chestnut Street , Washington , Pennsylvania . '

It's still not too late to comment. The link is HERE. Hubby's taking off of work next week so we can go to the hearing nearest us to voice our concern on this new Concession to the Coal Industry. If any of these locations are near you, please go and let your voice be heard.... or just show up for support.

P.S. Blog Post of Note:
Here is one blogger's first-hand encounter with Mountain-top Removal... It's worth taking a look and really shows the scope of the devastation....

Monday, October 15, 2007

Do you know where your eggs come from?

In my college Ecology class, back in the mid 90's, I discovered the horrors of factory farms. Before that, I had a picturesque view of where my meat and eggs came from: cows lazing about in fields and chickens roaming around looking for worms, just like on the farm I grew up on. I was so horrified at getting an inside look at factory farms that I switched to vegetarianism.

When I got married, I conceded to eating meat again, but I wanted to be assured of where it was coming from. Unless you shop in a Whole Foods/Organic store or buy off of a local farmer, the meat, dairy, and egg products you are consuming most likely come from animals that have lived a miserable life. To find out more about Wegman's Cruelty and urge them to let their hens be free-range, go here. This link also provides information on egg guidelines and making sure you are buying true Cage-free eggs. Another good link is Local Harvest, which can guide you to family farms near where you live.

So next time you are at the grocery store, send a message and buy Cage-Free Eggs!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Haunting.......

the whispers come.... in the night...out in my yard...

in the mountain breeze that blows through my hair...

"come, Beloved, there is something more"...

my Lover calls from the mountain, from the hills...

"awake....Awake... can' t you see that I've led you here?
don't turn away...I've been preparing you for this...
this wild romance....you know...your heart knows..."

He's beckoning... "come....I'm waiting....it's time....."

Oh, my heart! There IS a place for a wild, passionate heart in this Christian journey. It's not something that has to be tamed or tempered..... My God put it there to lead me to Him....

(Journal entry while reading "The Sacred Romance".... a MUST read for anyone who has felt the haunting and has embarked on this journey of faith..... )

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Morning Has Broken......

"Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word....

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass...

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's re-creation of the new day... "

- Traditional Hymn by Eleanor Farjeon

(photo: morning view from my front porch..... )

Sunday, October 07, 2007

If They Play It, I Will Come.......

One of the first things I do when I move to a new town, is seek out fellow old-time musicians. This was a difficult task when we lived in Maryland, as the Appalachian culture wasn't quite thriving there, even though we were still in the Appalachian mountains. But it didn't take long in our new town....

Old-time musicians are usually some of the friendliest and welcoming folks around... and they love to have other people sit in and play with them. Traditional music lends itself to group playing...sitting around and 'jamming'... and the more the merrier.

At the dawning of our second month here, I met my new friend, Fiddlegirl, at the church we've been attending. We immediately hit it off, and she gushed that I was an answer to prayer, as she had wanted to start an 'all-girl' group and had yet to meet many female musicians that loved traditional music. She already plays at local coffee shops and jams, but wanted some others to sit in with her.

We spent some time playing and picking on her porch in preparation for this Friday night jam and we made our big 'debut'. To tell you the truth, she's an answer to my prayers, too, as playing music feeds my soul... but I don't do it regularly. I only tend to play if I have others to play with.

It may not be the Friday Night Jamboree, but I am so glad to have found that the music scene is alive and kicking in our little community..... and will hopefully continue to grow!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Morning Visitors......
My first stop every morning (after the potty ), is my kitchen window. I always drink a glass of water first thing in the morning and gaze up at the early morning light playing on the mountain. Today, there was a strange silhouette on the window..... from a distance, it looked like a feather.

I approached and took a closer look and saw that it was a praying mantis.... one of my favorite insects. It brought back a flood of memories as they were abundant on our farm in Kentucky growing up. They are one of the more elegant species of the insect world. He was as curious about me, as I was about him. I don't have a good camera for micro shots, but you can see his little beady eyes checking me out.....

While I was out getting a photo of the little guy, I turned around and looked up at the hill behind us, and saw some of our regular morning visitors...... buzzards. We have two trees on the hill with dead branches, and they love to roost there at night..... sometimes I've seen as many as twenty at a time... their bald, bright red heads tucked into their chests in slumber.

Since I had the camera ready, I thought I'd go see if my other little morning friend had a productive night. I went to the front of the house, to our shrubbery, and saw she had been quite busy last night. She's always by the front porch when I sit and drink my coffee there in the mornings. Sometimes I give her a little treat by leaving the porch light on for a while in the evenings. :)

It seems I am surrounded on all sides.........
Some might find these creatures quite icky, but they all serve a purpose, and keep me company out here in the country....

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Things that make me smile....
Small town parades....