Friday, November 30, 2007

Are You Connected?

I want to give a very, VERY sincere thank-you to all of you who have been taking action against the destruction of our mountains here in Appalachia. It has been such an encouragement to me and gives me hope. Here is one more step you can take......Enter your zip code above and find out if your electricity comes from Mountaintop Removal Coal. If it does, please take the time to contact your electricity provider and ask them not to buy coal from companies that practice MTR mining. The link will let you know how. This is a wonderful tool and I believe it will have great impact..... If your electricity does come from MTR coal, the link will also tell you what community the coal is coming from. I'd be interested in hearing back from you once you do find out...... It will be interesting to see how many companies buy such coal. Thanks for joining the fight.... the people in Appalachia need your help!
A quick question for my readers..... My header photograph is not showing up on my computer. There is supposed to be a panoramic view of the mountains. Is it showing up for you? And also, what browser do you use?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wordless Wednesday......
Sittin' on top of the World

Taken in Dolly Sods Wilderness.....
For more Wordless Wednesdays, go here.

Monday, November 26, 2007


After spending over 9 hours last night in the chaos of Sunday-after-Thanksgiving interstate traffic, it is good to be home. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, as we exited I-81, to make the hour and a half jaunt over the steep, winding mountain road that separates us from 'civilization', so to speak..... the mountain that keeps us from becoming the tourist and retirement destination that the Blue Ridges of Western NC, my former home, have become. The moon was full, and although it was cloudy, it silhouetted the valley below. The barns, farmhouses, and silos were outlined in the dark, against the mountain ranges behind them. I was keenly aware of the vast contrast of driving a mile without seeing a single light, and the scarred mountains that we had just come from... where monstrous vacation homes line barren ridgetops, and the lights from them seem to be floating in the air. I guess 'progress' and development is inevitable, but I hope our little valley stays pristine and untouched just a little while longer.... that our state can keep its claim to being 'wild and wonderful' and 'almost heaven'......

While I was away, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself featured on a great new blog, called Beauty on the Web. Sheila, the blog's author, describes her goal as this, "This is a blog about beautiful things on weblogs. I found that as I was reading other blogs, a brilliant sentence or a stunning photo would pop out and demand to be shared." Head over and check out some of the beautiful things she has found. The post featuring my blog is Wednesday, Nov. 21st. She has also featured two of my favorite bloggers, Colleen and Fred First.

I also found myself the recipient of a "Community Blogger Award" while I was away....thanks to June, my blogger friend.

Its an award that celebrates "people who reach out and make the blogger community a better one". I'm honored and will share this award with others soon. So much blogging love while I was away! Thanks, girls! :)

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.... and find much beauty and joy today!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Our rural ancestors, with little blest, Patient of labour when the end was rest, Indulged the day that housed their annual grain, With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful strain."~Alexander Pope

"For, after all, put it as we may to ourselves, we are all of us from birth to death guests at a table which we did not spread. The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet.... Shall we think of the day as a chance to come nearer to our Host, and to find out something of Him who has fed us so long?" ~Rebecca Harding Davis

"To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven." ~Johannes A. Gaertner

"None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy." ~Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

"Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now." ~A.W. Tozer

"The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!" ~Henry Ward Beecher

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." ~Thornton Wilder

And a little humor to top it off:
"Thanksgiving, man.... Not a good day to be my pants......" ~Kevin James

(We're heading to the Carolinas for the holidays..... Hope you all have a wonderful feast with family and friends as we acknowledge all the blessings in our lives....)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

dirty, pretty things......

"Miss Amy.... I want to f*** you up the ass", a nine-year old student told me, while I was teaching at the Salem School. This is what he thought he should say to let me know he liked me. T-man, as I affectionately referred to him, had been homeless, eating out of dumpsters. I dared not think about what he had seen, heard, or had happen to him, to make him think that's how you show people affection.

*Denise's record came before she did. We sat at the table reviewing her history in anticipation of her arrival to the residential program. I was a Teaching Parent at the time.... my first role at Salem, and she would be in my house. Denise was nine, also, and had never been able to stay in a placement for more than a couple of months because of her out-of-control behaviors. She had set her hair on fire, tried to strangle herself, and attacked her caregivers. The dolled up little girl that walked in, with her black mary janes, pink purse, and bright red lipstick , belied the disturbed little child underneath. She had no 'honeymoon' period, as most children did... where their behaviors didn't emerge for a couple of weeks. Denise launched full-scale warfare almost as soon as she entered the room. I knew I was in for a long summer.....

So what makes a 9 year old girl try to commit suicide, and burn every bridge that someone puts out for her? In Denise's case, she was born to a crack addict, and was left alone, lying in her crib for days at a time, wallowing in her feces, crying at the top of her little infant lungs for food. Her mother would allow men to come in and molest baby Denise in exchange for drugs. As a toddler, she would eat lead paint chips... the only thing she could find. Then when her situation was discovered, she was placed in a foster home, where she was abused again. Then on to home after home after home.... and finally to a mental health institution before coming to Salem.

T-man and Denise are just a few of the thousands, if not millions of children living a daily nightmare. I tend to focus a lot on beauty and peace on my blog... But I am also painfully aware that the world isn't a beautiful place in a lot of ways. It can be a dark, ugly, evil place. Maybe because I've seen the darkness, I can appreciate the light and beauty that much more.

As we approach the holiday season, a lot of us will relish the comforts of home, family, and abundance. That is all well and good.... I will be doing the same. But let us not forget those who don't have the luxury of a home-cooked meal, a mother's hand to hold, gifts to open, or a safe place to rest their head. I believe strongly that we were not put on this earth just to be comfortable, consume resources, and take up space. There is a needy world out there... a dark world. A world that needs people to come and shine some light into its darkness.

Denise was able to stay at Salem for 2 years before being placed back in her county. I not only was her Teaching Parent that summer, but she was placed in the class where I would be a Teaching Assistant in the fall. I was in the trenches with her for 2 years.... fighting alongside the other staff for her life. And I had the privilege of slowly, but surely, seeing LIFE.... a child emerge from the shell. After months of aggression, defiance, and violence on her part, I got to see her first real tear, when she gave her first sincere apology for hurting someone. I saw the film of apathy come off her eyes. I saw her bond for the first time in years.... first with our classroom dog, then with a fellow student, then with us, her teachers.... baby steps. I got to hold her and sing her to sleep at night. But through it all, I didn't feel that I was doing her a favor..... IN fact, I felt like I was the lucky see this miracle, as she was the bravest little girl I had ever met, to open herself up to love after the nightmare of her former existence.

Denise and T-man will probably never be truly functioning members of society. T-man is now living with relatives. Denise is now 18 and in an independent living facility for young adults. She still calls me on the holidays and wants to know what I am going to send her. She tells me she loves me and misses me. And those are precious words in my ear, because I know she means it in the most sincere way she can.

This season, let us be beacons of light in the dark places in our communities. When we pray and Give Thanks, let us not forget to pray and petition on behalf of those who don't have a voice. Let us not forget those outside our comfortable homes, whether it be the lonely widow or widower, an abused child, a nursing home resident, or even a stray dog. Yes, let us be Thankful, but not forgetful......

(*name changed for privacy)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

"All the Friendly Beasts....."

A friendly young deer seen on a recent outing...which one do you think is more curious about the other? :)

(for more wordless wednesdays, go here. )

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

And the Winner Is.......

Thanks to everyone for all the birthday and blogiversary wishes! I especially enjoyed getting some of you lurkers out! :) Catherine is the winner of the give-away..... And on top of the package mentioned, Sir Laughsalot has added a couple of little extras in his excitement over the whole thing.

And for a little nepotism, info for purchasing my mom's Christmas CD is here. You can scroll down to find 'Leading of the Star'. As I mentioned, it is a wonderful instrumental album and would make a great gift for Hammered dulcimer or harp fans. Just let her know I sent ya!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wordless Wednesday
"Picture Perfect"

view from my living room window.....

(for more wordless wednesdays click here)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Little Cabin in the Woods........

It was quite apt that Sir Laughsalot and I had been reading that first book by Laura Ingalls Wilder when we went to this Harvest Party at Fiddle Girl and her husband's cabin.... I could have sworn we went back in time and were at Half-pint's little house in the big woods....

The bounties of the harvest were brought by everyone..... canned and preserved, baked, or made into other tasty dishes.... the tables overflowed.....

Home-made chicken and dumplings were cooked in the kettle over the fire.....
Even Fiddle Girl's son got in on the action and showed his young entrepeneurial spirit by cooking up Hot Chocolate in his own little kettle..... 50 cents a cup, he said.... to go towards buying a steam engine. I guess you can't start dreamin' and schemin' too young....

And if you drank too much hot chocolate, or enjoyed the fruits of the harvest a little too much.... you had to wait your turn to use the johnny-house, as there was no indoor plumbing or electricity.....

We drew the evening to a close by getting our instruments out and playing by the light of oil lamps and candles that were scatterred about the cabin.... Even Sir Laughsalot played along on his harmonica.

Living history.... or maybe a more appropriate term would be 'Living traditions'......
"Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields, The gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth.
And you walk under the red light of fall..
The scent of fallen apples, the dust of threshed grain
The sharp, gentle chill of fall.
Here as we move into the shadows of autumn
The night that brings the morning of spring.
Come to us, Lord of Harvest...Teach us to be thankful for the gifts you bring us ..."