Appalachia Through My Eyes - A Normal Appalachian Family

My life in appalachia a normal appalachian family

When I saw this photo I took of Chatter and The Deer Hunter on my computer I really liked it, but couldn't figure out what I wanted to say about it. Chatter was walking by the computer so I asked her to take a look and tell me what she thought the photo was saying to her. She said "It looks like a normal Appalachian family to me." I said "Yep that sounds about right to me."


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing this Friday August 26 @ 6:00 p.m. at the Crane Creek Vineyards in Young Harris, GA

Appalachia Through My Eyes - A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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5 Things

Pap was Carrie Coleman Elliott Wilson's grandson

Pap at the Coleman Reunion 2015

1. The second Sunday in August was the Coleman Reunion. It's always good to see the family who attend and there's plenty of good food to go along with all the fellowship. Although I've been enough times to know, I had forgotten they read aloud the names of family members who've passed away since the previous year's reunion. As soon as the reading begin I knew they'd call Pap's name and I knew I'd cry. He loved being with his people. I did cry, but I smiled through my tears.

I've been smiling and studying on the exact way Pap's name was read since hearing it. 

Jerry Marshall Wilson grandson of Carrie Coleman.

Grandson. How long has it been since Pap was called a grandson? A long long time. He loved his grandmother Carrie and had so many fond memories of her. I know he would have been happy to have been recognized as being her grandson once again even if he was no longer here to hear it. 

Yellow jackets on the rise in western nc
The Deer Hunter scoping out a yellow jacket nest under Granny's porch

2. This has been the year for yellow jackets and Granny's back porch has been the place for them. First there was the nest I noticed in an old pair of shoes. Then the nest Granny discovered under the porch while she was standing talking to me and The Deer Hunter while we worked in her garden. Granny was standing over top of their nest and they stung her 4 or 5 times before she could get in the house. The next nest was in a paper box and just for good measure there was one more under the other side of the porch. Yellow jackets love Granny's porch. Paul had to take care of the nest in the box after dark one night. Since I was the one who first noticed it I asked Granny if Paul got rid of it and if the nest was as big as the box was. Granny said "Yes and Lord there was enough bees in that box to sting everybody from here to Murphy and back and all the way to Copperhill TN." 

Blooper from the Blind Pig and The Acorn
3. Over the years we've uploaded well over 100 videos to youtube. Every once in a while I'm reminded of a video I've almost forgotten about when someone comments on it. Recently I was reminded of a bloopers video I made back in 2010. I had high hopes of doing more blooper videos-but somehow I never got around to it. If you'd like to see the bloopers video-go here. Hard to believe how young the girls look-and that neither one of them played an instrument well enough to play and sing back then. 

Apothecopie natural health products from appalachia
4. Earlier this month, Chatter opened her own Etsy Shop - Apothecopie. This is what she had to say about it: 

"I started making soap as a hobby, but after researching skincare products as a whole I was shocked and saddened by the chemicals that are used. I decided to raid my cabinets and get rid of all the harmful products and gradually replace them with all-natural products. I quickly learned that all-natural products purchased at retail stores are expensive and in fact most of the time are not really all-natural. I decided I would start making my own all-natural products. My goal is to make simple skincare products, therefore keeping the price down and ensuring my products can be available to a wider audience. To me all-natural does not mean a bunch of fancy ingredients, it means simple recipes using quality materials. I believe that since our skin is our largest organ we can improve our health by simply being aware of what we put on it."

It’s Almost Time for School to Start

  Jenkins family Culberson NC
Geneaieve, Louzine (Granny), and Mary - Culberson NC

County Schools are gearing up to start a new school year. Most of the colleges in the area have already started their fall semester.

Even though I no longer have children in the K-12 school system, I still feel the excitement of getting ready for a new school year. I’ve been hearing other parents talk about buying school clothes and rounding up the supplies on the class lists for a few weeks now.

A few months ago the local school board published a book:  A 90 Year Historical Journey of the Cherokee County Board of Education February 11, 1926 – February 11, 2016 compiled by R. Gregory Chapman.

The book takes a fascinating look at the history of public education in Cherokee County NC. It brings to light many schools that no longer exist, most of which I’ve never even heard of.

Since 1859 there have been 75 established schools in the county. 

Soon after the book was published, Paul purchased a copy and while we were looking through it I was reminded of a story Granny told me about school.

Granny loved school like nobody you’ve ever seen. Homework was a joy for her-she couldn’t wait to get home and get her lessons each night.

When Granny was in third grade she went to Walker School (one of those 75 established schools-I've never heard anyone mention it but Granny). For homework her teacher asked her to make an apron. Granny wasn’t really capable of making the apron so Granny’s mother, Gazzie, helped her make it.

Granny didn’t want to go to school and admit her mother did her homework and she didn't want to lie about it either. Granny said she hardly slept a wink, tossing, turning, and worrying about what she was going to do. 

The next morning as Granny stood at the bus stop with her sister Geneaieve and her niece Mary she prayed something would happen to keep her from going to school that day.

As the bus came into view and begin to slow down for them to get on Granny dreaded seeing her teacher even more.

Just as they were about to step up on the bus the driver said “No school today girls. The school house burnt down last night.”

When Granny tells the story she says “Was I ever happy!” Of course she wasn't really happy the school burnt, but as a third grader who didn't want to lie or admit she couldn't complete her homework she did feel immense relief. 

After things were sorted out Granny’s school moved into the Ranger Church for a while and then into Colis Church which was on the road to Hiwassee Dam. By the time Granny was in 5th grade the Ranger School had been built and Granny finished out her elementary years there before moving on to Murphy High School.

If you’d like to purchase A 90 Year Historical Journey of the Cherokee County Board of Education February 11, 1926 – February 11, 2016 compiled by R. Gregory Chapman you can find it on Amazon here.


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The Easiest Blueberry Pie and a Giveaway

  Easy blueberry pie

Mary Jo is my great aunt. She was Pap’s mother, Marie’s, sister. Mary Jo was one of the younger siblings and Marie was one of the oldest. That family logistic meant that Mary Jo was more Pap’s age than his mother’s.

Mary Jo used to hold the Elliott family reunion at her house every summer and one year she taught Granny to make a delicious apple pie that was quick and easy to make-go here to see the apple pie recipe.

The other day Miss Cindy brought me a bunch of blueberries.

Blueberries are my favorite fruit and let me tell you I can put them away-eating them by the handfuls throughout the day. But the amount Miss Cindy brought was unrealistic for even me to eat before they went bad. I was trying to think of a something to make with a few of them when I thought of Mary Jo’s Apple Pie. My next thought was why couldn’t I replace the apples with blueberries? I did and the pie was very good.

Blueberry pie -the easiest recipe

Tipper’s Blueberry Pie

  • 2 cups of blueberries
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon of plain flour (all purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg (slightly beaten)
  • 1 unbaked pie shell

Place blueberries in a small sauce pot with 2 tablespoons of water. Cook for 5 minutes with lid on, checking to make sure they don't scorch. 

Pour cooked blueberries and liquid into an unbaked pie shell.

Melt butter, remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon plain flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a slightly beaten egg.

Pour mixture over blueberries. Bake in a 350 oven for 35 minutes.

Print Tipper's Blueberry Pie (right click to open link and print recipe)

Best recipe for blueberry pie

See my pretty pie server in the photo above? Its the Rada Pie Server.  This is what Rada says about it: 

"This stainless steel pie server is designed with a wide, serrated edge that makes it ideal for cutting and serving delectable desserts. Pies, round cakes, and other desserts are a snap to handle with this cutter pie server. The serrated pie server is also a must for serving pizza and quiches."

Rada was nice enough to send me a pie server to try out. The Deer Hunter and I have been married for over 20 years and this is the first pie server I've ever had. I guess I waited all those years to start with the best because the Rada Pie Server is better than any of the ones Granny ever had when I was growing up or the ones I've used at potluck dinners over the years. 

The nice folks at Rada generously offered a free Rada Pie Server to a Blind Pig and the Acorn Reader. To be entered in the giveaway for the pie server, all you have to do is a leave a comment on this post. *Giveaway ends Friday August 26. 

Jump over to the Rada site and look around. You can order directly from them-and if your kids or grand-kids are looking for a fundraiser for school events they can help you out with that too!


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The Sweetest Land Outside of Heaven

I published this post back in 2013. I've been enjoying Pap and Paul's lovely harmony on the song Kentucky over the last few weeks and thought I'd share it with you again. They make it sound like a lullaby.

Pap and Paul picking and grinning

Paul and Pap picking in the backyard

"Karl [Davis] and Harty [Taylor] recorded the song ["Kentucky"] first in January 1941 for the Columbia label, and the record was especially popular with lonely southern servicemen who found themsleves thousands of miles from the land they loved. But in 1947 the Blue Sky Boys (the Bolick Brothers) recorded the song, and it really became a bestseller, reportedly running up sales of almost half a million copies; it has since been recorded by dozens of country singers, including later Kentucky groups like the Osborne Brothers and the Everly Brothers. On the strength of its beauty, and its popularity, Karl Davis [who wrote the song] was made a Kentucky Colonel in 1970. It was one of the few tokens of recognition he received in later life for his immense contributions to country music." (Charles Wolfe, Kentucky Country: Folk and Country Music of Kentucky, University Press of Kentucky, 1982, p. 56)

Pap and Paul have been singing the song Kentucky for many years. Pap says we try to do to many songs-but we all agree there's just so many songs out there that need doing!

As we add new songs to our repertoire, some of the old standbys inadvertently fall by the wayside. A few weeks ago, Paul and Pap pulled Kentucky out of their hats and dusted it off to see if they could still do that high sweet harmony. Turns out they could.

The quote at the beginning of this post mentions the variety of performers who have recorded the song Kentucky over the years. My personal favorite is The Louvin Brothers-but a mighty close second would be Pap and Paul's version. Hope you enjoyed the song.


*Source: Charles Wolfe, Kentucky Country: Folk and Country Music of Kentucky, University Press of Kentucky, 1982, p. 56

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I Finally Got a Little Rain

Rain in Brasstown

While people in Louisiana have had way too much rain, we've barely had any over the last month. The weather folks have forecast rain for the last 2 weeks but this summer's wet weather has been choosy about where it falls.

Thursday afternoon it fell a flood while I was at work. We had an outside gig to play that evening so I thought well that figures when it finally rains its on the day I don't want to get wet. I need not have worried. Not a drop fell in Andrews where we played and not a drop fell in Brasstown either. I reckon all the rain decided to stay in between the two.

A week ago Steve told me the same story. He was working in Bellview, which is a community or two away from Brasstown. Steve said it rained so hard the ditches filled with water and ran over into the road. As he finished up and headed for home he quickly drove out of the spot of heavy rain to dry roads and dusty ditches. 

One day this week a girl I work with swore it was raining on one end of her car but not the other. 

Yesterday we finally got enough rain to at least wet the ground, but we need more. Makes me wish I could wave a wand and take the excess water from Louisiana and spread it around where it's too dry giving them some much needed relief in the process.


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Dog Days And Weather Signs

Today's guest post was written by Susie Swanson.

My life in appalachia Fogs In August

A foggy August morning in Brasstown

Dog Days And Weather Signs written by Susie Swanson

The forty dog days of summer begins in the United States on July 3rd and end August 11th according to history and The Old Farmer’s Almanac. They’re so often said to be the hot, sultry days of summer, July and August being the two hottest months of the year.

The older generation had a lot of sayings about Dog Days. One being, “it’s dog days and snakes are blind, ye better be careful cause they’ll strike at anything that moves.” We surely did listen to that one cause we were reminded enough, especially while playing outside after dark or catching lightning bugs.

Another one is getting Dew Poisoning which means if you get a cut on your finger or hand and get the morning dew in it the cut will never heal. My daddy got dew poisoning one summer. He’d cut his finger with his pocket knife and was picking beans one morning and got dew in it and he went around all summer with his finger bandaged up and it finally healed come Fall. Mama told him, “ye know what done that and ye should have bandaged it up before ye hit the dew.”

I heard daddy and mama say it was hard for a cut or any open wound to heal during dog days many times. This pertains to anything even getting one’s ears pierced. I got mine pierced in the summer months after I got up the nerve to have it done. Mama told me, “ye shouldn’t have done that. They’ll never heal.” I can honestly say she was right about that. I had one to get infected and I thought it was going to rot off. If it hadn’t been for lots of peroxide and alcohol and babying, I would have given up and let them grow up. I still have to baby my ears and bathe them in alcohol quite often. I very seldom take my ear rings out except to change them.

There were a lot of weather sayings as well and I don’t know if any of them pertains to dog days but thought I’d add a few.

Here’s one,
If you’re hoping for a nice, dry day check for dew on the ground.

When the dew is on the grass
Rain will never come to pass
When grass is dry at morning light
Look for rain before the night

There’s also one that helps to tell what the weather is going to be pertaining to cattle and horses, which means if you see a cow or horse take notice of which way the wind is blowing their tails. Cows and horses prefer not to have the wind blowing in their faces so they usually stand with their backs to the wind.

Tails pointing west
Weather’s at it’s best
Tails pointing east
Weather is least

Summer fog means fair weather is on its way and you can look for a sunny day.

Summer fog for fair
A winter fog for rain
A fact most everywhere
In valley or on plain

And the one I like the most is,

If the rooster crows at going to bed
You may rise with a watery head

I just don’t know about this one but my mama sure hated to hear one crow at bedtime. She’d throw a rock at it every time just to get it to stop. She claimed it meant bad luck.

Just a little folk lore and I hope you enjoyed. I’ll try to post more on my blog later as they come to me.

Thought I’d add a little poem for some humor as well, concerning the fogs in August because of the most heard one of all. “For every fog in August there will be a snow come winter.” This one is kinda worrying me this August cause we’ve had fog just about every morning so far.

I counted forty, foggy mornings in August
an old lady once said
I wondered how can this be
as I scratched my head

Thirty one days in August
is all I’ve ever known
unless the calendar has changed
and the months have grown

I worked so very hard
to try and figure it all in
But the forty, foggy mornings
I didn’t know where to begin

And then I thought to myself
and I came up with a good try
When summer’s heat lingers on
there’s forty, hot days in July

In January’s snowy weather
there’s at least forty flakes
that lies on the ground
forty days for goodness sakes

How can I forget March
with so many windy days
The wind probably blows forty
I just don’t count the days

No, that can’t be right
I thought to myself
When thirty one days are gone
in a month, there’s none left

So I’ll just keep on waiting
August has just come in
If there’s forty, foggy mornings
Will winter ever end??

© Susie Swanson, 2016


I hope you enjoyed Susie's guest post. She lives across the mountain from me. Susie's post reminded me I wrote about Dew Poisoning a few years ago-you can read the post here

Susie is a dear friend and our family friendship goes back several generations. Jump over to her great blog Country Side Poet and look around, I know you'll be glad you did.


p.s. If you've been reading the Blind Pig for a while, you know I'm hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that those forty snows show up this winter : )

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Appalachia Through My Eyes - Passing the Knowledge On

My life in appalachia the knowlege has been passed on

The tradition of raising chickens for eggs and meat is continuing to be passed down to the next generation in Appalachia. 


Appalachia Through My Eyes - A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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Ever Ate a Ground Cherry?

Growing ground cherries

All my life I heard Pap talk about ground cherries. He told me they grew wild alongside most everyone's garden and that they made a tasty snack for children who were working in the garden or playing close by.

There are several varieties of ground cherries, one of which is native to North America. Some folks call them husk tomatoes or tommy toe plants.

Ground cherries in western nc

The plant usually grows fairly low to the ground, but this year mine are taller than they've ever been before. Once you have a plant you're bound to have more the following year. Ground cherries are self sowers and one plant turns into many many volunteers in the years to come.

Tommy toe plant - ground cherries 
The cherries are covered with a husk. Once the husk has dried and turned a light brownish color they are ready to eat.

Growing ground cherries to eat 
This is what they look like once you remove the husk. I've read a variety of different descriptions about how they taste-everything from citrus to pineapple. There's a sweetness to ground cherries along with a note of acidity or tang.

A few summers ago, Jim Casada asked if I had ever heard of ground cherries. I said "Yes, but I've never seen them or tasted them."

Jim packaged up a box full and mailed them to me. I was so excited to open the box and see what Pap had been talking about all those years. And after Jim explained to me I could grow my own the following summer by simply throwing a handful or two out in the garden I was doubly excited. Jim's explanation was right and every year the ground cherries spread farther around my garden. 

Have you ever had a flash of a memory that is so real yet so fuzzy you just can't put your finger on exactly where or when it took place?

As soon as the first ground cherry rolled out of Jim's box into my hand I had a flash of memory.

I was in the garden with Big Grandma (Pap's grandmother Carrie-my great grandmother) and she handed me a little round yellow ball and encouraged me to eat it, but I refused, at least I think I did. I would only have been 3 or 4 years old. Big Grandma died before I started school.

Funny all those years I listened to Pap's memories of ground cherries-when my own ground cherry memory was hiding somewhere deep down inside just waiting for Jim's generosity to bring it to light.

Have you ever tasted ground cherries?


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