Monday, April 30, 2012

Cornbread Festival

A perfect day in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.

Some new friends working on old crafts. . .

Homemade bass with an amazing sound.  Look closely at the back.

My friend, Matt Downer, fiddling away.  Matt and I wrote a song together in 2004 that is still sung when certain people gather.  And it is always a good time. :)

The beautiful Bluegrass Queen Rhonda Vincent and her band, The Rage,  was there.  She never disappoints.

You never know who might show up.  With his bullet. We were warned not to litter.

There was lots and lots of cornbread:  pizza cornbread, raspberry cornbread, confetti cornbread, and a sweet one with pecans.

There are many festivals in the spring that are close enough for a day trip.  This is one of my favorites.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Celebrate Saturday: Wait

But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

As you are waiting (serving) this Saturday, kind friend, breathe in the abundance of God and be thankful. This day won't come again.

Friday, April 27, 2012


The first time I heard it, that dire prediction of extremely severe weather across North Alabama, a gentle April breeze was stirring the newborn leaves and the jasmine by the porch steps was emitting a fragrance that sweetened the house and yard. Nothing to worry about, I thought, the weather people and their hyperbolic predictions were wrong more times than right, especially when it concerned a forecast seven days ahead. I continued potting the new herbs and relished the springtime Wednesday surrounding me.

Exactly one week later, it was a different world.  From before dawn to dusk, tornadoes pushed, churned, and killed across Alabama.  On April 27, 2011, sixty-two tornadoes touched down in Alabama.  Out of the 67 counties, 41 were hit with storms.  More than 240 people were dead, real people, not those abstract ones we hear about on the nightly news, people that drove the same roads and shopped at the same stores that I do. There were approximately 2800 reported injuries.  Homes were people had eaten and brushed their teeth and gone to bed the night before, 23,500 of them, were damaged or completely destroyed.

We gathered and prayed.  We were thankful for food and water and the people who came to help.  Some learned to live for several days with no power and Internet.  We saw people worship on a concrete slab where their church used to be.  We saw ancient trees twisted and lifeless, some with mangled tin and fabric in their branches.  We saw seasoned news reporters cry.

Our family was spared the worst of the storms that swept our state one year ago today.  We had no injuries except our broken hearts.  Now, a year later, we are a different people, a group who knows first-hand what can happen when heavy, angry air masses collide.  We all pray that there will never be another day like that one.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blackberry Winter

Sunday and  Monday were cold and windy, more like February than April.  Could it have been blackberry winter?

It's true, the blackberries are in full bloom, and this usually doesn't happen until the tenth of May.  I suppose everything is running two or three weeks ahead this year because of our mild winter and spring.

The big wood stove that heated our house was always taken down during the summer and stored in a back room out of the way. It didn't matter what the thermometer said, we couldn't take that stove down until after the tenth of May and blackberry winter was over.  After that, the stove was taken down, the insects came out, and the shoes came off.

The frost threatened but didn't make it to our house this week.  The wind has settled and the air is balmy again.  It looks like there is going to be a bumper crop of blackberries. 

 It's all good.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are not common here, so the visitors I've had for the last 3 or 4 days probably came by to 'fatten up'.  Two of them stayed on the feeders about all day yesterday.   They ate all the food in the full feeder, one that we usually refill only about once a week.

 I've watched the feeders since I got up this morning, and they haven't appeared.  I fear they have moved north.

So glad they stopped by.  It is so worth the amount we spend on bird seed to see beauties like these.
 Have a good journey, and be sure to stop back in the fall!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Deutzia scabra

Slender deutzia is a dense, rounded, deciduous shrub with slender, broadly spreading to arching stems. Typically grows 2-4' (less frequently to 5-6') tall and as wide. Tiny, fragrant, bell-shaped, white flowers (to 3/4") appear in spring in numerous loose racemes (to 3" long) which cover the shrub for about two weeks. Opposite, ovate to lanceolate, deep green leaves (to 3" long). No fall color. ~from Missouri Botanical Garden website.

We bought this house in August of 2002, and this bush was just something green on one end of the house.  You can imagine how happy I was when it bloomed out the following spring.  It wasn't something I had seen before, so I took a branch to our local expert, Margie, and she identified it for me.  We severely pruned it after blooming last year, and just look!

It usually blooms the first two weeks of May, but with our warm spring this year, it is in full bloom now.  I love it, and so do the birds.  Some even nest in the branches.

We went on an extended trip one spring and I missed the blooming.  Since then, I have been more careful about planning springtime trips.  This is too good to miss!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Celebrate Saturday: Sing

Celebrating a refreshing rain on the new seedlings....what a day for singing!

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. Psalm 104:33

Friday, April 20, 2012

Folklife Friday: Whippoorwills

Have you ever seen one?  I haven't, except in pictures. I have heard them countless times.

Most Southerners born before air-conditioning shut off the world fell asleep to their plaintive cries.  They nest on the ground, sleeping during the day. From dusk to dawn, they use their superior vision to find and devour flying insects, repeating their name between bites.

They are the stuff of folklore. American Indian legend says their song was a death omen. Their habit of flying near cows and goats in search of insects caused them to be called "milk suckers".

My daddy would sit on the porch in the early spring and listen for the first whippoorwill's call. He said that it was safe to plant cotton without fear of frost killing the seedlings after the whippoorwills started singing. Because their breeding habits correspond with certain phases of the moon, he was most likely correct.

Somehow, the call makes us lonely, and has become a symbol for melancholy.  Hank Williams mentioned the whippoorwill in his song, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."  Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, and others frequently use the emotion-evoking whippoorwill in their songs.

Sadly, they are not as common as they once were, due to loss of habitat and insecticides.

 They are as much as part of my youth as blackberries and cotton fields.

I listen for them now, standing on the deck, trying to block the noise pollution of sirens and traffic and planes.  On those nights when I am blessed and able to separate what is made by man and what is made by God, I hear them.

Sometimes, it makes me cry.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Good Night, Mr. Bandstand

I was saddened to hear of the death of Dick Clark yesterday.  For some of us, it is another piece of our childhood gone for good.

Bandstand was on from since I can remember, and we loved watching it.  Remember, we had no music videos back then and didn't get to see singers of the songs we loved very often.  My lil' ole sister and I just couldn't wait on Saturday to see who was going to be on Bandstand.

And couldn't those teenagers with their teased hair and white boots do the jerk and mashed potatoes and twist?  Dick Clark was always gracious to them, even after hundreds didn't like the lyrics but loved the beat.

Strange that I can remember watching the show and the dancers and Dick Clark in the sixties clearly and can't remember what I wore to work yesterday.

I am aware that Dick Clark was well known for the New Year's eve shows and other things, but he will always be "Mr. Bandstand" to me. 

Thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Looking to the Hills

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber or sleep.

The Lord is they keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Psalm 121

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chicken and Egg Festival

What a fun way to spend a sunny, lazy afternoon!

The white rooster in the center was painted by Erin McNutt, my DIL Rachel's sister.

The festival is an annual event; put it on your calendar for next year!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Celebrate Saturday: Sow

We have to sow before we can harvest.

Psalms 126:5-6 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Folklife Friday: Quilt Show

In the middle of March, we went to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for the annual Quiltfest.

We have been to quilt shows all over the country, and this one is my favorite. It isn't the biggest, or the best to some folks, but I absolutely love it. We have been so many times, the people who put it on are like old friends to us.

Unfortunately, none of the quilts from the show were made by me. Several years ago, I actually won a ribbon in the large wall quilt category. But this year, time wouldn't wait on me so what I had planned to enter is still unfinished.

 The photos are some of my favorites, just a sampling of what was there.

Mountain Quiltfest happens in March. No doubt, I will have my entry finished by next March.

Or not.

You can check them out online at