47 Years Young Today

An Appalachian husband

Today is The Deer Hunter's birthday. He's 47 years young. We were in our early 20s when we met, set up on a blind date by one of my cousins and her husband. 

As with all marriages there have been ups and downs, but I'm grateful to say for us there have been mostly ups. 

I could never fully describe the manner in which The Deer Hunter takes care of the girls and me: providing for us, doing all the hard things that need doing, forever making sure we're okay. He's always treated the girls and me like princesses-even though we know we are far from that. 

He has barely left my side since Pap died, and when he has had to leave, he's called to make sure I'm okay throughout the day. 

Pap's death has been hard on The Deer Hunter too. They worked together for many years and they shared many of the same interests. 

On our wedding day I was determined not to cry. I dressed in the basement of the church and the plan was for Pap and I to wait on the first landing of stairs until we were motioned to come up and into the sanctuary. 

As Pap and I stood together he said "Tipper I want you to know I couldn't have picked a better choice than Matt for you to marry." Of course there went the whole I'm not going to cry thing. 

Over the past year Pap spoke to me more than once about his passing. He always told me it was a comfort for him to know Matt would be here to take care of the girls and me and that since Matt was so good at fixing things he was glad to know he'd be here to help Granny, Paul, and Steve and his family should they need him. 

Several weeks ago the girls got to make some mighty fine music in the Dutch Cove community of Canton NC where The Deer Hunter grew up. It was a neat experience for us all, but seeing his girls play in the very community that made him who he is today especially pleased The Deer Hunter.

I never had a chance to show Pap the video above, but I know he would have liked it. Pap was smart, on our wedding day so long ago he saw the man Matt would become when I was still only seeing the handsome young fellow waiting for me at the end of the aisle. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls got a nice mention on the Seeing Southern Website go here if you'd like to read it. 

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Wild Iris

Wild Iris

These tiny Iris grow prolifically around my mountain holler. Their shades vary from pale blue to a deeper purple. Wild Dwarf Crested Iris can be found growing from New York to Florida and as far west as Arkansas.

Miniature iris

Their leaves are the same sword like shape found on large Bearded Iris-just in miniature form.

Wild iris growing in appalachia

Dwarf Crested Iris usually grow in small clumps, you can see the rain we had last week almost washed the blooms right off these. Wild Dwarf Iris are like Bloodroot in the sense that by mid Summer they've completely disappeared waiting till next Spring to make their presence known again.

Dwarf crested iris in wester nc

Years ago when The Deer Hunter and I moved into our house I transplanted a few clumps of Wild Dwarf Iris into my flower beds. My Uncle said they'd never live, but he was wrong they're still going strong all these years later.

There are also Wild Dwarf Crested Iris that have white blooms, although I've never seen any in my area. 


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5 Things

The real appalachia

1. A light in the darkness always speaks of comfort and home...even when you're only walking up the driveway from just down the road.

  The magic of bees

2. The blueberries are blooming. If you stand beside them you can hear the hum and buzz of hundreds of bees. Those bees are magic I tell you! They go to and fro working as fast as they can so that I can reap the rewards of their labors. 

Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three my favorite band

3. I've been too sad to listen to a lot of music. Seems like every group or every song is related directly to Pap. I have been able to listen to Pokey LaFarge. Most of his music is so upbeat and fun that I can hear it without any tears. Here is one of my favorite Pokey LaFarge songs. Not sure if it was Paul or Ben who introduced the rest of us to Pokey several years ago, but I'm grateful to whichever one it was. Pap especially enjoyed the faces Pokey makes while singing and the amazing musical talent of Pokey and his band the South City Three.

Columbines in western nc

4. Every year I'm surprised by the beauty of my columbines. It's like I forget all about their sweet nodding heads until BOOM there they are again bringing color and loveliness to my yard.

Cousins in appalachia family ties are strong
5. Its great to meet up with a cousin you never knew. Its FANTASTIC when the cousin likes history as much as you do. 


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Green Up Time

Green up in spring

"Have you noticed? It's greening up!" That was a common expression among my Scots-Irish folks in the mountains of Choestoe Community, Union County, Georgia. I like the time of early spring, even maybe seeing some green-up happen when frosts and/or snow still threaten. One year in May, my father had his fields of corn planted and the rows looked lush with green-up growth, the plants abundant, an inch or two high. Then a hard freeze--frost and maybe even snow--came to obliterate the green. The whole field had to be planted again after the cold snap passed. That's part of the unpredictability of spring weather in our beloved mountain area. Green up can occur early; and then have to burst forth again."

~ Ethelene Dyer Jones 2015


I have heard the phrase green up used to describe the greening of spring my whole life. The Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English has this entry for green up:

green up, green-up time noun Springtime.
1976 Dwyer Southern Sayin's 23 = springtime. "It's comin' green up." 1991 Haynes Haywood Home 56 Springtime, just at green-up time, was the time for making popguns and willow whistles....It's the time when buds come on the willows and elders along the branches and creeks and their bark gets loose.  


Every Spring I wish that I could put my finger on the exact moment green up magically occurs. I know it's not an instantaneous thing, instead it happens in small increments until finally it arrives. 

Green up happened sometime since Pap's passing last week. As I looked out my car window this morning I thought "The world is green again." And it is. 


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How Does My Garden Grow?

Growing heirloom tomatoes from sow true seed
Our garden is coming right along. The tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse seem to be growing an inch every night. It always seems to take forever for them to germinate and get their first real leaves but from then on they grow by leaps and bounds. 

Purple asparagus growing in wnc
My purple asparagus is spearing its way through the earth and my is it tasty!

Apple trees in western nc
My apple trees are blooming and their sweet smell is perfuming the backyard. We've only had our grapevines a couple of years, but they are looking great! Maybe this is the year I'll finally get a few grapes.

Growing mushrooms in western nc brasstown
You may remember we used a few of our old mushroom logs to build a new bed in the backyard. Apparently the mushroom logs like their new location. I've been gathering mushrooms from them. I guess they showed me they weren't quite through after all. 

One row of my Sow True Seed Radishes didn't come up. I planted the bare spot with more green onions. Chatter got most of her herb/medicinal seed planted in the greenhouse and they have sprouted.

A few days before Pap passed away he felt like getting out in the garden for a while. He discovered something had eaten most of his cabbages. He thought it was a deer that's been hanging around, but The Deer Hunter said it was likely a groundhog since there was more damage than rabbits usually do but no deer sign. I checked on Pap's little garden today and the cabbage seem to be making a come back so maybe Granny will be able to make kraut this summer.

Please tell me how your garden is doing.


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Appalachia Through My Eyes - The Music can Continue

My life in appalachia heritage is passed on

Oh the thoughts that have been running through my mind since last Tuesday when Pap died. We've all been on a roller-coaster of highs and lows. I've cried till Granny told me I was going to ruin my face. Actually we've all cried like that so I guess I won't be the only one with a ruined face. 

I dreaded playing music together again. I kept thinking how can we without Pap? To be honest I wasn't sure I could do it and I sure wasn't in any hurry to see if I could. 

Granny said she wanted us to do our picking before the boys (my nephews, her grandsons) had to head back home. I brushed her off and hoped she'd forget about it. If you've ever met Granny you'll know she doesn't give up on nothing. She kept insisting we play till I said "Okay okay okay" just to get her to be quiet.

As we gathered together in Pap and Granny's living room I figured we'd all fall apart one by one. There were a few tears, but there was also lots of laughter and plenty of Pap stories. From the start Ben said he'd take Pap's place of keeping us on track. And just like Pap used to do he'd nudge us along every time we got to talking instead of playing by telling us "Now we got to do something."

Ben's sweet wife Rachel took the panoramic photo above. Granny is on the couch behind Paul and if you look behind Chatter and her guitar you can see my elbow and my bass. 

I'm glad Granny made us play. I made it through just fine and the picking gave me assurance that we can continue making music just like Pap would want us to. 


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

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Far Side Banks of Jordan

Granny and pap
Granny and Pap Thanksgiving 2015

Pap and Granny's 52 Wedding Anniversary would have been tomorrow. That's a whole lot of years. The Deer Hunter and I passed our 20 year mark a few years ago. He teases me that it seems a whole heck of a lot longer than that! He and I both agree the years of our marriage have flown past at record speed and I'm happy to say we both agree our lives have been better because of each other. Pap and Granny felt that way too.

Seemed like the older Pap and Granny got the closer they became and the more they held onto each other. I think Granny told every last person who spoke to her at Pap's funeral that she'd lost her best friend and I know she has. 

As we talked about what songs Pap would want played at his service Granny teared up as she told us they'd recently seen Jimmy Fortune sing On the Far Side Banks of Jordan on tv. She said Pap told her "Now you remember those words and think of them when I'm gone." Over the last few months I know Pap knew his death was drawing nigh. 

Pap had told my brothers he wanted the Robbinsville Quartet to sing for his funeral. We ask if they knew the song On the Far Side Banks of Jordan but they didn't. The only folks I'd ever heard sing it was The Marksmen. I used to have a cassette tape with their version and it always made me sad and happy at the same time. Terry Smith wrote the great song and although I didn't know it, the song has been recorded by lots of folks. 

Far Side Banks Of Jordan written by Terry Smith

I believe my steps are growing wearier each day
Still I've got a journey on my mind
Lures of this old world have ceased to make me want to stay
and my one regret is leaving you behind

But I'll be waiting on the farside banks of Jordan
I'll be sitting drawing pictures in the sand
And when I see you coming I will rise up with a shout!
And come running through the shallow waters reaching for your hand

If it proves to be his will that I am first to cross
And some how I've a feeling it will be
When it comes your time to travel likewise don't feel lost
For I will be the first one that you'll see

But I'll be waiting on the farside banks of Jordan
I'll be sitting drawing pictures in the sand
And when I see you coming I will rise up with a shout!
And come running through the shallow waters reaching for your hand

Through this life we've laboured hard to earn our meager fare
It's brought us trembling hands and failing eyes
So I'll just rest here on this shore and turn my eyes away
Until you'll come then we'll see paradise

But I'll be waiting on the farside banks of Jordan
I'll be sitting drawing pictures in the sand
And when I see you coming I will rise up with a shout!
And come running through the shallow waters reaching for your hand

Here's the Jimmy Fortune version Granny and Pap watched.


I could never repay you for the kind words you've sent about Pap. Words that have and will uphold me during this sad time. 

Paul and Pap's new cd Shepherd of my Soul contains 13 original songs written by Pap. What a comfort all the songs Pap wrote will be for us as we go forward. Even though Paul has listened to the songs on the cd hundreds of times as he did the mixing of the recording, he said when he heard them yesterday he heard them anew. I haven't been able to listen to any of Pap's songs yet. But I know they're there when I'm ready.

If you're interested in purchasing a cd you can buy one directly from me (go here for the details) or jump over to my the Blind Pig and The Acorn Etsy shop and pick one up there. 


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When Pap was a Boy

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in 2013.

Benjamin Wilson and John Mule

Benjamin (Bird) Wilson and John Mule

The other day Pap and I made a trip over to Blairsville GA. On the way back he told me about visiting the Dockerys as a boy.

Pap showed me the little holler where Homer Dockery and his family lived at one time. There wasn't much to see now. A power line goes right through the middle of the area and it's so overgrown with trees and bushes you can hardly see the mouth of the holler unless someone points it out to you. 

Pap's Grandpa, Benjamin, and Grandma, Carrie, took him along with them to Homer's. Pap liked to go so he could play with Homer's sons Frank and Jack. Pap and his family lived in the same area we do today. I asked Pap if they went through the woods from our house to Homer's or if there was a road that came around like it does now. Pap said he didn't remember if they went the shortest route through the woods or came around. He said they walked or rode a mule because none of them had a car in those days.

Grandpa Wilson had a mule called John Mule. Pap said he was the meekest pet of a mule you ever seen. More like a big dog than a mule. 

Pap has memories of visiting other Dockerys too. Caney who lived at the head of Pine Log, Chester who lived across the mountain from Pine Log in Smyrna GA (or Smyrnie as Pap calls it) and Dewey Dockery who also lived in Smyrnie. Dewey ran a small store and corn mill. 

It would take about 5 hours to get to Chester's house. Grandpa Wilson walked while Pap and his Grandma Carrie took turns riding John Mule. 

I asked Pap what they did once they got there, you know what was the purpose in them going on such a long trip? He said "Oh the grownups would talk and the kids would play. And there was usually some sort of trading going on. Grandma would take something and trade it for something the Dockerys had. Grandma was always fooling with quilts and she might take a bunch of old scraps over there to trade. Sometimes she carded wool to take and trade from Grandpa's sheep." 

Pap said usually they'd visit with Chester a while then head back over the mountain to Caney's where they'd spend the night before heading home the next day. 

I asked Pap if he slept on a pallet in the floor; he said it seemed like Caney had an extra cornshuck bed and they slept in it. 

Pap said when he was just a babe Homer Dockery sharecropped the Harshaw Farm with his Grandpa Benjamin. At the same time, Pap's father, Wade, sharecropped the land just below the Harshaw Farm which was called the Richardson Place in those days.

I grew up going to visit the Dockery's too. The main difference being I road in the back of Pap and Granny's car instead of on the back of a mule. Pap and Granny would load us all up and head over to Moccasin Creek. Sometimes we'd pull up at one of Homer's son's house other times we'd visit with Homer's daughter just up the road. Didn't matter which house we visited, there was always grown ups talking and laughing, kids playing, good food a plenty, and fine music being made.

It's comforting for me to hear that Pap grew up going to the Dockerys like I did, but it's slightly sad to think of those days being gone. As our lives and times have changed, my kids won't have memories of visiting the Dockerys. But someday I can take them to Moccasin Creek and show them where I used to visit the Dockerys; and along the way I can show them where their Pap rode John Mule to visit the Dockerys when he was a child. 


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I'm Traveling the Road that Leads Home

Pap Jerry Wilson

Photo of Pap courtesy of Ed M.


Just Going Home written by Jerry Wilson

I may be bowed down with sorrow Trouble where ever I go
Yet in my heart I'll be singing I'm traveling the road that leads home

Oh nothing could thrill my heart more than to know that my trials will be o're
To this world my soul don't belong In this life I'm just going home

Though I may not have great riches In this world I own no great thing
Yet at the end of my journey I'll be rich as the greatest of kings

In this world no treasures I'll seek I've lain them up where they will keep
To this world my soul don't belong In this life I'm just going home

Oh nothing could thrill my heart more than to know that my trials will be o're
To this world my soul don't belong In this life I'm just going home




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