Where No One Stands Alone

Where no one stands alone

Mosie Lister, of Southern Gospel fame, wrote the song Where No One Stands Alone in 1955. Lister wrote, sung, and arranged many gospel songs that have become standards in Southern Gospel circles. Lister was born in 1921 and passed away about this time last year. You can jump over to his website to read more about his musical career. 

Ken Shamblin, one of Pap's good friends, comes to mind every time I hear the song Where No One Stands Alone. Ken enjoyed singing the song and even recorded it on one of Pap's cds.

After coming up with the trio arrangement of Rock of Ages , Pap is always trying to think of other songs that would work in the same manner. Recently we had a go at the song Where No One Stands Alone. 

 I hope you enjoyed the song and the three-part harmony. Pretty cool when you think about each part being from three generations of the same family.


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I'm Sending Zelma a Cow

Old cow dish from appalachia nc

I greatly enjoyed all the comments left on the post about the cow that kept turning the light on. Nice to know many of you need a little help with your eyes too. The cow I'm sending out is the one you see in the photo. I'm not sure where I picked up the little covered dish but I've had it for quite sometime. It seems totally appropriate that the handy dandy number generator picked Blind Pig reader Zelma as the winner. This is what she said:

"My hubby and I had beef cattle for 23 years. Some people say cattle are dumb, but I've seen enough to know that is not true. They can be smart and wily, so I'm not surprised to hear of a cow that turned the lights on and off. I, too, have the drugstore readers. I keep a pair in most rooms, so I don't have to worry about carrying around a pair, then laying them down and forgetting them. Both the eyes and memory have good days and bad days! I collect cow things, so a BP&TA item would be cherished."


Here's 2 more Blind Pig and The Acorn posts about cows-jump over and read them if you have time!

Life On Wiggins Creek

Appalachian Sayings - Fly Over A Field To Land On a Cow Pile


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Do You Ever Lose Things?

Losing things shed lose her head if it wasn't attached to her shoulders

Do you ever lose things? Seems like some people are more prone to lose things than others. The old saying about losing your head if it wasn't attached was made for Chitter. That girl can't keep up with nothing! 

Both Paul and I used to be bad about losing things -  like the time he drove off with his baseball cleats on top of his car or the time that I literally threw my pocket book under my car (missed the back seat I was aiming for) and drove off.

We were lucky in both instances-the cleats were found along the 4 lane leaving the high school and a dear sweet soul found my purse and called me. The pocket book had my meager check from Catos in it already cashed and ready to spend. When I got the purse back all the money was still there. For anyone who lives in the area-remember the collection of hub caps along highway 141? Those were the folks who found my pocket book. 

Paul and I both seemed to have out grown our propensity for losing things, so there's hope for Chitter.

John Parris has an interesting article about the Old Man losing his lucky buckeye. If a buckeye is carried in your left pocket its supposed to ward off the rheumatism. In the article Parris describes the despair of the Old Man losing his buckeye right when he needed it most during: "...rheumatic weather, chill rain and fog, a time when a'body's blood gets thin and the miseries set in." Turns out the buckeye was right where the Old Man left it, on his dresser.

Of course things we lose are always right where we left them...if we only knew where that was!

As I said I don't lose things as often as I used to, but boy when I do it bugs the living daylights out of me!

A few weeks ago I had a meeting in town, since it was after work I took along my little make-up bag to powder my nose. Once I arrived for the meeting I set inside my car, whipped my make-up brush over my face a few times, and painted my lips as Granny would say. I put everything back in my little zipper bag and laid it in the passenger car seat.

After the meeting I headed for home. Since it was a Friday I never missed my makeup until Monday morning when I was getting ready for work. I thought "Oh I left it in the car I'll just run get it."

A hundred car searches later I still can't find my make-up bag. I haven't a clue what could have happened to it nor what I could have done with it. 

Ever lose things?


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Best Type of Wood to Use for Heat

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in January of 2011.

When folks burned chestnut trees in appalachia

The Deer Hunter and I only have to worry about wood for our heat. When Pap was a boy wood was needed for heating, washing, cooking, bathing, and the list goes on.

I'm sure you've heard the old joke where a man says he thought his name was Git Wood until he was nearly grown.

What wood works best for heat

Pap said when he was a boy most folks planned ahead and cut wood for the future. They ricked the wood up around their house and barns. When they needed wood it was already cut and stacked, ready to be used. Other folks, like Pap's family, got their wood from day to day. They had a wood pile nearby, but someone had to go out and split what was needed for the day and carry it in the house or at least onto the porch.

Best wood to burn for firewood

There were still native Chestnut trees when Pap was a boy, not living ones but skeletons of Chestnut trees that were killed by the blight. Pap said wood from them would burn even if it was wet with no kindling to get it started. He said women especially liked chestnut wood because it was so easy to start a fire with it. Back in those days, Pap said, every once in a while he'd come up on a big dead Chestnut back in the mountains. He said he always thought they looked like white ghosts shining through the woods.

Much like today, when Pap was a boy, oak was one of the top choices for wood to burn. Oak burns hot and doesn't burn too fast. Other top choices when Pap was a boy were locust, hickory, and any other wood that was handy.

The Deer Hunter likes to use locust-which is almost impossible to find around here, oak, and hickory. He thinks poplar burns too fast to do any good and pine is full of creosote.

A few months ago someone had me ask Pap what was the best wood to burn for heat. Pap rattled off a list much like the one above and then said "But the answer to that question really depends on how cold you are."

Pap is doing good and continuing to regain his strength after his recent heart attack. He truly appreciates all the prayers and well wishes sent his way!! 


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Cows that Turn off Lights

Cows in appalachia 2

U. R. Pate of Pigeon Roost, our retired mail carrier, reported that his milk cow for the last several weeks has been switching on the electric light in her barn stall every night. The reason she turns the light on, he just can't figure, unless she is just afraid of the dark. 

Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Whitson have moved from their home on Pate Creek to the Big Ball Mountain to cook for Ralph Masters' sawmill work hands.

Some awful big hogs was slaughtered in the Pigeon Roost section this hog-killing season which is now over.

According to the farmers' estimation on the weight of their hogs, some of them went over 700 pounds. This is exceptionally good for a hog of about a year old.

1/12/56 Harvey Miller


The 1974 Winter Edition of the Foxfire Magazine contains a compilation of newspaper articles written by Harvey Miller. At the time of the magazine's publication Miller's weekly column had been around for sixty years and was till being published in the Tri-County News located in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. Jump over to the Foxfire website and poke around. They are still publishing the magazine and those wonderful Foxfire Books too!

Lately, like the cow, I long for light. I was blessed with good eyesight and only started wearing glasses to read with about 3 years ago. I buy the glasses over the counter, The Deer Hunter calls them readers. He wears them too.

Back in the day I'd be sitting off in a dark corner of the living room with my nose stuck in a book and Pap would say "Tipper don't you need a light? You surely can't see to read." But I could back then. These days I find myself asking the girls if they need a light turned on. 

Leave a comment on this post and I'll send you a cow. It won't be as big as the ones in the photo above and it won't give no milk either, but on the bright side it won't care if you leave the light on or off. 


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Appalachia Through My Eyes - A High Mountain Holler and Silent Coon Dogs

My life in appalachia high mountain hollers and silent coon dogs

This high mountain holler used to echo with the deep mouths of trailing coon dogs; the woods rang with the whistles and shouts of the dogs' masters who tagged along  after the chase on cold winter nights.

The holler lies silent now. All in the name of posted signs and progress.


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

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Apple-Nut Cake from the JCCFS

Apple Nut Cake from the JCCFS in brasstown nc 2

I inherited Granny's copy of the cookbook Favorite Recipes of the John C. Campbell Folk School. The book was published in 1971. My Mamaw Marie (Pap's mother) worked at the folk school and I believe she gifted Granny with the book back in the day.

The book is packed with great recipes, a few photos, verses of the blessings sung before each meal in the folk school's dining hall, and prints like they one you see at the top of the photo above. 

I'm going to share one of my favorite recieps from the cookbook with you today: Apple-Nut Cake.

Apple-Nut Cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cooking oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups finely diced apples
  • 1/2 cup nuts (I use pecans)

Apple Nut Cake from the john c campbell folk school

Combine flour, soda, salt, sugar, and oil; mix well.

Add eggs one at a time beating after each.

Add vanilla, apples, and nuts.

Pour into a 13 X 9 baking pan. Bake at 325° for 1 1/2 hours or until done. It only takes an hour in my oven. Pour glaze on while cake is still hot.

Apple-Nut Cake Glaze

  • 1 stick margarine or butter
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Combine all glaze ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. Pour over hot cake.  

Print Apple-Nut Cake Recipe (Right click on link to open recipe and print)

Apple Nut Cake from the JCCFS

This is a quick and easy dessert to make-the hardest part is chopping the apples, which isn't really that hard. The cake is very good especially with a hot cup of coffee or scoop of vanilla ice cream or both! 


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Like Desperados

  Kids you remember

Spending any amount of time at the VA Hospital in Oteen makes one think of old men.

The hospital certainly serves female vets as well as young veterans...even younger than me. But the majority of the patients are old men. Many are shaky, pale, and sickly. 

Sometimes when I walk the out patient halls with Pap I wish I had some sort of story vacuum. Just think, if I did, I could suck up all the stories that belong to those old men. My what a treasure that would be!

The entirety of Pap's recent hospital stay was in the ICU part of the hospital. It didn't seem to be as busy as it usually is somehow, but maybe it was. 

You can't help but notice the other patients.

There was an old veteran to the left of Pap's room. I don't think he even knew where he was. I'd wager he was spending his last days on earth right there in the ICU. I never saw anyone visit him and that made my heart hurt.  I could hear the nurses as they talked to him. I guess he was nearly deaf because they had to yell at him to get him to hear. I was comforted by the love and compassion every last nurse showed for him. In this case, I could literally hear it in their voices. 

Another one was there because he'd overdosed on meth. He wanted to know if Pap worked there or if he was the Chaplain. The man finally decided it didn't matter who Pap was he just needed him to listen to him talk.  

There was a young man suffering from the same heart problems as Pap. I never saw him, but his family told me shoveling all the snow that Asheville got last week brought on heart pain that resulted in bypass surgery. I tried to comfort them by sharing Pap's story.

Pap was 42 years old when he had a triple bypass. Six weeks later Pap was back at work. Those bypasses cured him for the next 25 years. The Deer Hunter likes to tell people about how Pap was in his 60s when they worked together building houses. The Deer Hunter says "Even though I was a young man and Pap was in his mid-sixties he worked circles around me every last day. Why at the end of a long hard day he'd pull sheets of plywood up on the roof of a house when I could barely get them above the fascia board."

We've always been pleased with the nurses and doctors at the VA Hospital. But this time, they just seemed extry speciaal as Pap would say. 

I'm convinced the 2 docs that cared for Pap could head off to Hollywood to be in the movies if they wanted to be. Two very powerful, kind, knowledgeable, women who just happen to be beautiful in two completely different ways. When I called their name Pap would say "Now is that the one with the amber eyes or the one with the black hair?"

His nurses were just as special. I wish I could remember each of their names because they were all great. Nancy took care of Pap like she'd known us our whole lives. We finally decided she seemed like family because she reminded us both of Nina Chastain. 

There was a night nurse named Dewayne. He told Pap to call him De-wayne and encouraged Pap to get through the night time pain and worry of being in a hospital. Pap told him "Son you've got a good spirit that's helped me through this." It was easy to see that statement probably pleased
De-wayne more than his next paycheck would. 

I set in Pap's hospital room and thought about the old men in the VA, the song Desperados Waiting for a Train came to mind. There's a line in the song One day I look up and he's pushing 80. As I sung the song in my mind that line made me realize Pap is pushing 80 too. He'll be 79 in July. Even though I know Pap is an old man, I'm sometimes surprised by the fact.

I first shared Pap and Paul's version of the song Desperados Waiting For A Train back in 2013. Guy Clark wrote the song. If you've never heard it, the song is about the relationship that occurred between a kid and an old man. 

According to his website, "Guy Clark was was born in Monahans, Texas, on November 6, 1941 and grew up in a home where the gift of a pocketknife was a rite of passage and poetry was read aloud." 

Desperados Waiting For A Train grabs your heart from the first line: "I'd play the Red River Valley He'd sit out in the kitchen and cry."

Clark wrote the song in the late 1960s about an oilfield worker who stayed at his grandmother's hotel. The song was most notably covered by The Highway Men. 


I hope you enjoyed the song-I thought you might like Pap's ad libing at the end. The song makes me think of:

  • learning to play Red River Valley on the piano-how one note seemed sweeter than all the others
  • sitting in the kitchen making music with Pap and Paul
  • all the people who've sat in Pap's house and made music over the years
  • Paul telling me I can find the chords in the song better than most of The Highway Men
  • Papaw Wade and his tobacco
  • how the snuff Pap used to use would leave stains on his chin every once in a while
  • A 14 year old Deer Hunter pulling a loaded horse trailer home from Cataloochee because everyone else was too drunk to drive
  • the old men who visit the VA Hospital in Oteen and the nurses, doctors, and other staff who take care of them
  • the impression we each make on others-even when we don't know we're making it


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January 1870

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in 2010.

January 23 1870 andrews nc

Several months ago, Peggy, a Blind Pig Reader, asked me if I'd be interested in reading a letter that had been handed down through her family. It seems to have been written to folks who lived in my county near the town of Andrews. Peggy said reading W.C. Penland's Civil War letters reminded her of the letter in her possession. 

The letter was written by Susan Lunsford and her husband, Mat Lunsford. Susan was Peggy's Great Great Grandmother's sister. The letter touches me on so many different levels. Give it a read and see what you think.


January the 23 the 1870

Dear father and mother i this evin seat my self to drop you a few lins to let you no that we are all well at present hopin my few lins will come safe to hand and find you all enjoyin the same blessin and to let you no that I have got a fine boy I call him Jousep Henry after his Granpap Pendergrass he was borned October the 4 1869.

Whet is 20 cents per bushel corn is 3 dollars a bushel we have got 69 bushels of corn. We have kild one hog that wade 3 hundred and 48 pounds at 18 teen months old an one we didn’t way and I got one to kill that will go about 2 hundred and fifty and got 18 hogs left We have 2 cows one will have a calf in March the other I don’t know when we have settled down her to stay 2 years or longer if we want too but I git more and more dissatis fide ever day if I was back in ole north Carolina I never would say Mat less move again. tho we have plenty to do us this year and plenty more comin on for another year but what satisfaction is it to me if I ain’t satisfied and all that dissatisfides me is to want to see my old father an mother and can’t I want to see you all I want you all to writ as soon as you git this letter not one but all

Susan Lunsford

Margaret I want you to write to me one time if you pleas if you hant for got that that you ever had one sister called Suzy. Nin and forn and rocksy and lasy all drop me a few lines I would take grate pleasur in readin a few lines from you all tell Jissy Baldwin and Joy to write to me I will send pap and mother a stran of little francis hair I send the girls some scraps of our dresses but if you have forgot my name look at the top of the letter I will write you my name in full I will close so no more at present only I remains your child till death I still remains you sister so good by to you all from Susan Leunsord to her ole father and mother to her sisters all so

A few words from Mat to let you no that I am well and well sadisfide and tryin to do the best I can suzy has got dissadisfide here lately she sez she would be sadisfide if she could sho nanny and pap her fine boy the resen I am satisfied I recken is am so much like the … ???... Bill an his family is well we live about half mile apart we have rented land and both work to gether this year we have sod ten bushel of wheet and hay all it makes free of rent 30 achorks (acres) of lan to tend in corn four acres to tend in tobacco you might not think hard of me for not ritin no sooner for we was a while that we did not no wether we would go on or stay her as soon as we got our minds settled we had to build our cabins to move in too I thought it would be no use to rite till I got settle we have made a contract for 2 year I would like for sum of you to come and see me next fall I will send you a way bill to come by if you node the situation of the country you would be willing to leave north Carolina tomorrow. Susan hole study is on the friends that is left behind it is true I would like to see you all but my mane study is to do the best I can for my self and family I pass off the time at work through the day at nite I nurs my too baby for pleasure so I take up no time in idles I will close for this time so no more at present only remaining your son till death. From M.M. Lunsford to his father and mother write soon and fail not.


What I liked about the letter:

  • The similar phrases used by the Lunsfords and W.C. Penland- "at present only remiaing your son till death", "I this evin seat my self to drop you a few lins to let you no that we are all well at present hopin my few lins will come safe to hand and find you all enjoyin the same blessin", and "I will close so no more at present only I remians your child till death."
  • I love how Susan gives them a hard time about not writing her. She tried to shame them into writing her by calling out their names, and she even went so far as to say she'd write her name at the top of the page just in case they have forgotten it! She must have been a spitfire. 
  • I like the contrast between what she writes and what her husband writes. Through his words you can feel the determination that he is going to make it for his family. And from her words you can hear how much she misses her family and her North Carolina home. 
  • Susan missed her family, but she mostly wished they could see her boy that she was so proud of. She tells them she will send a stran of little Francis's hair. Makes me wonder if she sent the hair and if her family passed the little strand around and talked of how they missed little Francis and of how there was a fine baby boy named Jousep Henry who they might never see but would love from afar.


p.s. Pap got to come home! And he is continuing to feel better! THANK YOU for the well wishes and prayers I could never repay you for them and I appreciate them more than I could ever explain. Blind Pig Readers are the BEST!

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Sayings by Way of Blind Pig Readers

Colorful mountain speech from appalachia

Back in January of 2011 I shared some of the comments Blind Pig Readers had left about sayings. One reader, Kris, pointed out every region of the world, Australia in his case, has their own unique sayings. Whatever the area, I believe people ought to hold on to their unique sayings so they'll be passed on to the coming generations. I hope you enjoy this re-post of the comments. 

  • John-who lives over the big pond said this in reference to my "If you're going to dance you'll have to pay the fiddler" saying: "He who pays the fiddler calls the tune" may well be the original saying, that's what I used to hear when I was small, in other words "when you start to pay your way around here you can have things how you want them!" Since so much of our language came from the British Isles-I bet John is right.
  • Brian Blake said: "For the love of Pete probably refers discreetly to Saint Peter, without taking the Lord's name in vain." A few of you mentioned the saying For Pete's Sake-bet that one is in reference to Saint Peter too.
  • Pam Moore told about a saying I've never heard-one with a very interesting story behind it: "My mom would always say that we had "enough food to feed Cox's army". I asked her who Cox was and she said she didn't know, it was just something that her parents said. I did some research and found out that there were two Coxs. During the Depression, in 1932, a priest named Cox led a march on Washington, DC consisting of unemployed men from Pennsylvania. In 1894, another depression year, Jacob Coxey led a protest march into Washington, DC to ask that jobs be created. I thought it was interesting that there were two "Cox's armies". 
  • Ethelene Dyer Jones gave a wonderful explanation for the old saying-its raining cats and dogs: "How about this one: "It's raining cats and dogs!" By researching this old saying, I found that it dates back to thatched-roofed houses, when straw was piled high to keep out the elements from the crudely-built dwelling. The cats and dogs (and other creatures) would sometimes crawl upon the thatch and sleep. When a heavy rainstorm came, the weight of the rain on the straw, plus the added weight of the poor animals (that were surely getting wet!) made the animals fall through the roof and land inside the hut. Therefore, "It's raining cats and dogs!" We still say it. But who has ever lived in a thatched-roof house?"
  • Bill Burnett shared a saying he had just heard and his thoughts on it:  "I heard one yesterday that was new to me "I'll be the son of a Motherless Goat."  just what does that mean? A lot of these are used in place of some vulgar swearing but why do they catch on and pass from generation to generation?"
  • Rachelle had a cute comment: "We are forever more telling Landon we are gonna jerk a knot in his tail, and he says "Nannie, I not have a tail."
  • PinnacleCreek shared one I've never heard but loved:  "I learned a new one from a lady I once worked with. She used to say to coworkers "Don't sit there like Ned in the Primer!" I sure hope these are forever preserved."
  • Ron Banks had one I have heard in the past but had forgotten: "In regard to a good church sermon: Now, if that don't light your fire son, your woods wet!"
  • Bradley had this one: "The one that used to make all the young boys mad was when he would act like he was trying to cheer someone up. He would put his hand on their shoulder and say, "Now son don't worry its always darkest right before it turns pitch black, besides it could be worse it could have happened to me."
  • Martina had some good ones: "Grandma said of her grandson, an extreme procrastinator: "He doesn't ride the horse the day he puts the saddle on" Mom used to have comments while driving of "great grandmother's corset stays" and "stars and garters". I don't know if they were substitutes for naughty words or were just vintage expressions."

 I shared your comments with The Deer Hunter who believes strongly in using sayings to spice up his conversations. A few of his favorites:

  • deader than 4 o'clock
  • happy as a pig in slop
  • drunker than a 9 eyed spider

One of my very favorite sayings came from one of you. Back in February Linda left this comment on one of my Appalachian Vocabulary Tests: My mother used to say: "Your milk of human kindness has turned to bonnie clabber."

That saying has stuck with me ever since she left the comment. I'm not sure if its because its probably really old,  if its the firm sound it has, or because its so descriptive. Whatever the reason- I love it.


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