Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why Am I Fainting?

Hmm.... Four hours of intensive instruction each day, afternoon workshops, evening concerts, and late night jams. This low-key, homebody, mountainmama isn't used to that kind of schedule.

But the vibrant energy of the Dulcimer Week kept me going. I learned enough to keep me occupied for months and months to come..... which was exactly my goal. My wonderful instructor, Jeff Sebens (below), met us exactly where we were.... and taught in just the right way. He challenged us and took us to the next level on our instruments, but didn't give us so much new information that we became glassy-eyed and overwhelmed.

Of course, it didn't hurt that all our classes were held on the gorgeous Davis & Elkins College campus with its historic buildings and lush greenery. Our class was held in the Victorian Halliehurst building:

And this was our classroom... the parlor of Halliehurst, with its ornate fireplace, high ceilings, beautiful paintings, and old woodwork:

Spring was in full bloom and sights like this greeted me on the footpaths between classes and events:

Another added bonus was that my mom was one of the instructors, and we got to room together. We've never had a whole week together like that.

Good medicine, folks..... good medicine......

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Seneca Spring.....

This was just one of the many beautiful Spring sights I saw in my travels this past week. The mountain roadsides were lush with Redbud, Dogwood, Phlox, and many other blooming trees and wildflowers. These lovely trees happened to be at the base of Seneca Rocks.... majestic in every season.

I'll post soon about the Dulcimer retreat..... after I unpack and unwind from my intensive, but fun week.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Strains from a dulcimer........

....will be flooding and surrounding my senses this week. I am off today to cash in my birthday/Christmas/Mother's day gift, wrapped up in one intensive week-long Dulcimer workshop.

I hope to come home next weekend no longer an 'advanced beginner'.... taking the step to the intermediate level.... woohoo! :) And Fiddlegirl and I, (above on Easter Sunday), will have some new repertoire.

Dulcimer is literally translated 'sweet melody'..... and it's haunting and sweet strains have been echoing through these ancient mountains since the first Scotch, Irish, and English settlers settled here. If you have a moment, stop over and read this beautiful poem from a post that a MySpace friend so kindly dedicated to me. Thank you, Little Pup.

See you next week!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


when i tried to sit down and write this last year, on the first anniversary, i couldn't.
the tears flowed so heavily that i couldn't even see the computer screen.
the words weren't ripe yet.... it was too soon.

in this season of quiet in my heart, where i have been trying to sort through some sadness in my life , the words have finally come.
i told your sister i would write about you. and now it's time.

when she called me that morning and told me, she was so calm.
i didn't believe her at first. but then i understood. i think we all knew it was coming.
all my childhood memories of us came flooding back....

the most prominent, when you really established a permanent place in my heart, was a time when we were sitting in my bedroom together.
i was crying because my big sister had locked her door and wouldn't let me come in and play with her and your sister.
i thought she was trying to steal my friends.
you put your arm around me, looked in my eyes, and said,
"don't worry, amy. no one will ever steal me away from you."
that's just how you were. even though you were younger than me, you wanted to be my protector.

we spent almost a decade together, trodding back and forth on the forest path that we had made to connect our farms.
one day, while playing in the hundreds of acres of woods, we stumbled upon our special place and we named it 'paradise'.

it was a little clearing in the woods, where water pooled beneath a small, trickling waterfall.
it was our secret spot. we gathered old flowers that people dumped at the back of the cemetery and placed them in the ground, and weaved them through tree branches.
we cleared the brush and thorns away. it was beautiful and magical to us. we spent almost every day there.

but when we were older, my family moved away. your family stayed.
our paradise got overgrown, and the thorns grew back.

we talked regularly, wrote letters, and visited. we grew up.
you grew into a tall, handsome, caring young man.
but we both struggled with inner turmoil and poor life choices in our later teen years.
during those years, i thought the best way to deal with my problems was to run from them.
i ran away from home, and ended up on your front porch once.
your family took me in, and provided comfort and reassurance. my parents knew i was safe there.

once again, you acted as my protector.
we spent long evenings on the couch, talking into the wee hours of the morning.
we talked about the realities of growing up, our disappointments, the bittersweetness of it all. we longed for our innocent, carefree days of childhood.

one morning, after a very late night, i awoke to hammering.... and found you outside, hammering a dent out of my car that had been there forever.
you wanted to surprise me before you left for work.
you tried to give me your hard-earned money during my stay, because you knew i had little.
you brought me gifts to cheer me up. you wanted to know i'd be okay.

eventually, i garnered the courage to return home. i was able to sort through my problems, heal, and take control of my life again.
but, dear alex, you weren't so lucky.
i'm not sure what the difference was.

i guess big boys don't cry.... they just turn reckless to hide the pain inside.
you fell into the oppression of that area where we grew up.
you turned to drugs.
and the next time i visited, i found you in a place that scared me deeply.
all i could do was plead with you and pray.

shortly after returning home from that last trip, i received news that you were in jail.
i wrote to you..... probably one of the longest letters ever.
and you wrote back, and sent me a picture of you and your family.
you said it was the only picture you had with you in jail, but you wanted me to have it.
you ALWAYS wanted to GIVE...... that was your true heart.
we wrote regularly during that year.
you wrote of your regrets... and your hopes and dreams for when you got out.
you were confident that you could reclaim your life, and i believed you.

those letters were our last regular correspondence. you got released early for good behavior.... and you started your own roofing business. you began carving out a life for yourself, and working to find inner peace. but you were never quite able to find it. but it wasn't drugs anymore.... it became speed. your dad warned you about your motorcycle, and your recklessness on it.
he even called my dad and voiced his fear for you.

and one evening, almost two years ago, your dad's fears were realized. a beautiful soul, taken too soon.

' i got the call today....
my childhood friend has gone away.
he took that ride that took his life...
friend, i hope you've found your paradise.'

Alex (1978-2006)

Rest in peace, Alex....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I finally told someone about you.
I said your name out loud.
I whispered it into the universe....
and I told my closest confidante.

It made us real.... not a figment of my imagination.
Not a secret to hide.
It felt good.

But when I got home, you were gone.
And it made me sad.

But now someone knows about you.
They know you came and perched on my windowsill,
even though it was only for a short while.
They know that somehow you made me believe that I'll fly again...
that I may be able to find my song again.
And that's how I know you were real.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The best pick-up line, EVER!
or 'How you know you're raising a country boy'......

Sir Laughsalot, my son, takes great pride in our compost pile. He has put himself in charge of emptying the big yogurt container that I use for kitchen scraps.... and if he catches me trying to throw any organic matter in the trash can, he intercedes, saying in an exacerbated voice, "Mommy! You can COMPOST that!!!"

He spends hours gathering grass, pine needles, leaves.... and adds them to the pile and stirs it faithfully with a big stick.

Sir Laughsalot also loves waitresses. Everywhere we eat, he befriends the waitresses with his charming good-looks and friendly banter. Recently, one young, friendly waitress particularly caught his eye.... and when she sat down at the counter to take a lunch break, he saddled up next to her...leaned in close.... smiled, and said with all sincerity, "You wanna share my compost?"

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wordless Wednesday
"Children and Nature"...

"Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight and habit through life."
-Charlotte Mason

(A great article on what has been termed 'Nature Deficit Disorder' in kids is here..... a worthwhile read, especially for parents and educators. For more Wordless Wednesdays, go here.)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Wine and Secrets...........

..... both poured forth at the table. The corner table with the scent of weeping cherry tree blossoms tinging the air, Ray LaMontagne playing on the laptop... that table in our little, rented room became our confession box.

Whispering into the late evening hours... laughing... sharing our hearts. Nourishment for our aching and weary souls. Burdens revealed and lifted for a sweet, short while.

After being apart for nearly a year and a half, a weekend of bliss with my sister........

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

"I think the extent to which I have any balance at all, any mental balance, is because of being a farm kid and being raised in those isolated rural areas."
- James E. Jones

(more wordless wednesdays here.)