1. The Deer Hunter got to take a blacksmithing class at the John C. Campbell Folk School and boy did he enjoy himself! He made hooks and fire pokers to get the hang of things and then he got to make what he wanted to: a knife, a fire starting striker, and a blanket pin.
2. I've always teased The Deer Hunter about how hard he is on clothing and footwear. I tell him he'd be a great test dummy for some company that makes shoes and clothes for the working man. Thankfully he's also ingenious about getting every last bit of use out of the things he wears. Case in point: the sheet-rock screws that are holding the soles onto his boots.
3. Paul looking up an old Jim and Jesse song for us to learn on his smart phone made me smile.
Del McCoury and my nephew Ben
4. I've been a Del McCoury fan for the last 20 years. One time my nephew Ben ran into Mr. McCoury at a rental car place somewhere up north. When Ben sent us the photo above it tickled Pap to death-well actually it did me too. Last week Ben emailed me to say he Del McCoury would be playing just up the road in Hiwassee GA later this year and that we should get tickets to go. I've seen The Del McCoury Band before and they put on a great show. Ben's email reminded me of 2 of my all time favorite Del McCoury songs: Mill Towns and Let An Old Racehorse Run. (click on the song titles to go listen to them)
5. The tall yellow violets that grow wild in the woods surrounding my mountain holler always make me think of stately ladies watching over the forest to make sure all is well.
p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday May 20, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m at the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center - Robbinsville NC and Sunday May 21, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. at Mount Moriah Baptist Church - Murphy NC. Their summer is schedule is filling up-to see a complete list of performance dates go here.
1. A few weeks back the girls and I went to a friends birthday party. Right off I saw a lady I'd never seen before with beautiful long wavy brown hair. As the usual crowd welcomed us I noticed the pretty stranger seemed to be taking a real interest in our arrival. I made my way through the kitchen speaking to one friend and another till before I knew it I was standing right in front of the lady. I smiled at her and she said "Your voices, your accent, the way you speak I like it!"
Turns out the lovely lady is visiting from Finland. She told me she learned English in school, but none of the people she learned from sounded like me. She went on to say that although she'd been in the US for the last 3 weeks she hadn't heard anyone here who sounded like me either. She absolutely made our night when she said "Your voices are the prettiest I've ever heard and I want to sit by you tonight so I can hear them more."
2. We had a frog-strangling rain the other evening. While the rain was coming down in sheets Chitter said "You know what this means don't you?" I said "No I don't know what it means." She said "I'm going to the creek tomorrow to see what washed down in all this rain." The girl has good instincts! Look what an amazing piece she found. (Just click on the video to start it and then click on it to stop it) Chitter believes its a piece of quartz that was once part of a larger rock.
3. Chitter has been churning out some amazing pieces for her Stamey Creek Creations Etsy Shop. If you haven't checked it out in a while you need to-her metal smithing skills are growing by leaps and bounds. And who wouldn't love her photos of jewelry floating on a turnip leaf in the Stamey Branch.
4. The 2017 schedule for The Pressley Girls is filling up fast. If you'd like to see if they're playing at a locale near you this year-you can see their full schedule on this page.
5. It's been close to three years since my nephew Ben sent me the link to the video of Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out doing the classic Take Me Home Country Roads. I remember wondering if Ben was longing for those country roads to take him home to our mountain holler. Being a fan of the band and of the song I loved the video from the first time I watched it. Other than the mighty fine music and singing, I especially like the obvious friendship and camaraderie of the band.
1. The Deer Hunter made his first knife. He used an old saw blade and a piece of rough lumbered black walnut. Turned out pretty good if you ask me. I love the shape of it. He said he had an old trapper's knife in mind when he was cutting it out. The metal is pitted but that doesn't effect the usefulness of the knife and I think the patina adds to the appeal of the whole thing.
2. One of my eyes has been giving me a fit since back before Christmas. Well truthfully it's been bothering me on and off for at least 2 years. One of the times Pap was in the emergency room at the VA it was so red one of his cardiac docs asked me if it was ok. Anyway my eye doctor has been treating it for the last 2 months, but not much has helped. At one visit I told him my husband's friend said he had the same problem and his daddy made a liquid from sassafras roots and put it in his eye and it cured it right up. The doctor looked at me and said "So how long have you been putting sassafras in your eye?" I laughed and said "I haven't actually put it in my eye, I'm just telling you what my husband's friend said." I should have shared the Appalachian cure for a stye with him. If you haven't heard it before you're supposed to let a black cat rub it's tail across your eye to cure a stye.
3. We've been thinking about the coming garden, you know making plans for replacing the raised beds and dreaming about what we'll grow this year. Chitter and Chatter cleaned up the greenhouse without even being asked to. I think they're ready to stick their hands and feet into some dirt. Chitter is planning to expand her medicinal herb garden and Chatter hopes to plant some flowers along with our usual veggies.
4. I've been greatly enjoying the old time banjo playing of J.D.Wilkes. I think I originally found him on Instagram or maybe it was Youtube. Either way I'm glad I found him. I especially like J.D. and Charlie Stamper's version of the old song Glory to the Meeting House. You can hear the song here.
5. I was featured in the February/March issue of Smoky Mountain Living. Blind Pig Reader Jim Casada wrote the piece. I had nary a clue that he planed to write it nor that it would be in the magazine until it was! In the coming days I'll share the article with you, even though it makes me turn several shades of red every time I read it or someone mentions it to me.
p.s. Mark Davidson will be speaking in Bryson City, NC TONIGHT -Thursday at 6:30 for the monthly meeting of the Swain County Genealogy and Historical Society. The meeting will be held at the Swain County Business Education and Training Center. If you live close enough, go out and hear him-I know you'll be glad you did!
1. Just like the rest of the country, Snap Chat has taken Appalachia by storm...at least the younger generation anyway. One day Chitter entertained Paul and me with the latest filters that were available. Things like turning yourself into a deer, a dog, or the Statue of Liberty. I said "You should show Granny and see what she has to say about that mess." Paul said "Well it will be one of two things: she'll either be scared or thinks its cute." A few days later Chatter showed Granny the filters on her phone. Paul was almost right. She thought some of them were cute and she thought some of them were scary. About one filter she said "Oh who'd want to make themselves look that awful!" I don't snap chat nor am I very fond of the idea of it, but its like one of my co-workers said "It is what it is. Whether we like it or not-it's here."
2. The girls have performed as part of Vogel State Park's Summer Concert series for the last several years. After last summer's gig we were thrilled when a family member shared the photo above with us. Back in the day The Coleman Family held their yearly reunion at Vogel. I'm not sure who the lady with the accordion is, however it's very clear that Big Grandma (Carrie Coleman Elliott Wilson - Pap's grandmother) is standing against the tree and I'm pretty sure the man with the hat is one of her brothers because I've seen him and the hat in other photos that are noted with the names. Big Grandma played the piano in church. Although her piano playing days were over by the time I came along, Pap had fond memories of her banging out the songs as the congregation sang along. Pretty cool piece of history for The Pressley Girls and me.
3. Granny made crocheted flowers to go on the graves of her family member's at Shady Grove last spring. You can see the navy blue one she stuck in the bouquet on her brother George's grave. I've been wondering how the flowers have held up through the weather. She made a crocheted wreath for every season for Pap's tombstone. I've barely been to Pap's grave since he died. It's like I don't think he's there, so I don't think about going. When I feel like I need to be a little closer to Pap I go to Granny. I know Paul and Steve keep a close check on his grave though and that makes me feel better about not going myself.
4. Chitter and Chatter both have music saved to their phone. Most of the time if they're working on something they wear ear buds and I'm shut out of hearing the tunes...sometimes that's a good thing especially in Chitter's case. Chatter's more likely to be listening to something that I like and recently I've heard a whole lot of Gene Watson coming out of her phone. I've been reminded of how much I love his voice and reminded of how I used to listen to 14 Carat Mind over and over. I wasn't even a teenager yet when the song came out, but somehow it drew me in. I was certainly familiar with men who had a saw mill occupation and even at that young age I suppose I was already familiar with the fact that adults had problems to, some of which they seemed to bring upon themselves. Go here to give the old song a listen.
5. The girls and I were headed out one evening before Christmas and we spotted this rainbow before we even got to the main road. They made me stop so they could take a picture. After I looked at it I was glad they did. Dark and gloomy below but the wonder of the rainbow says it's not so bad after all.
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
1. The trees have put on their pretty fall garments, but someone forgot to remind Mother Nature to lower the temperature. Although it looks like fall in the Southern Highlands of Appalachia it still feels like summer.
Ben and Bryce
2. You've probably noticed the p.s. about my nephew Ben's movie project that I've been sharing at the end of my posts over the last several days. I wanted to share a quote Ben sent me about the movie:
"The film isn't about Appalachia at all per se, but it does include many tips of the hat to Pap. The main character loses his grandfather and, although his grandfather is meant to be a catholic man in Houston, I tried to steal many quotes and stories from Pap (just because he is the ideal Platonic grandfather). I also hope to use his "God be with you" song during the credits."
Ben was the first grandchild born to Pap and Granny. His birth made me an aunt for the first time. We were so excited about his entrance into this world that we could barely stand it. From the minute we found out he was on the way Granny started making things for him and I think I bought every cute outfit I seen that was on sale.
In those days Pap was driving an oil truck and one evening when he got home he told us that he'd had the strangest dream the night before. He dreamed that he was coming home and as he looked out into Whitmire's pasture he saw a little blond headed boy running. Pap thought that he would run and catch the boy, but then he thought no that he shouldn't. Pap thought the dream was meaningful in some way and after Ben turned out to be a little blond headed boy that stole all our hearts he knew for sure the dream was meaningful indeed.
I've always been proud of Ben and after discussing this movie project with him I believe it is a worthwhile endeavor. I hope you'll go watch the short video about the movie and help spread the word to friends and family who you think might be interested in the project. Go here to see the video.
3. Remember the Yonce Bean? It did fantastic for us this summer! The bean produced well and seemed to do well in our unusually hot and dry weather. We harvested the last of the Yonce Beans to use as seed next summer. I put them in a big tub to continue to dry on the front porch. I have no idea why Ruby Sue felt the need to sit on them. Silly dog.
Several weeks back we cleaned off the bean patch. Soon after I noticed 2 new bean plants that had sprouted-I guess we dropped a few beans as we were harvesting the dry ones for next year. Those volunteer plants have a few beans on them and with the warm weather we're having it looks like they'll have plenty of time to grow before a hard frost gets them.
4. The Nashville Bluegrass Band is hands down one of my favorite groups. Their music is outstanding and their harmony is legendary. I've loved their version of The Delmore Brothers classic Happy on the Mississippi Shore for years. Its a song that anyone who had a good childhood can relate to. I've only lived along a mountain creek which is nothing like the massive Mississippi River, but I can sing the words and in my mind I think I love that mountain and I will forever Its calling everywhere I go To that land I'm going never going to go no more I'll be so happy with my mom and daddy on that mountain side by the creek Picking and playing round the cabin door children singing on that mountainside Happiness is with them every night and day and on the mountain they will stay. I've been trying to get Chatter and Chitter to sing that song for me for at least the last 7 or 8 years-looks like I need to get someone else to sing it don't it? Go here to hear the Nashville Bluegrass Band and if you've never heard them before get prepared to be blown away.
5. During the month of November I'll be hosting a variety of giveaways as a way of saying THANK YOU to Blind Pig and The Acorn readers. If you didn't know it, you're the best blog readers in the whole wide world!
1. I think I've harvested the last of the Seminole Pumpkins. I say I think because they did so good for us this year that I keep finding them hiding in the weeds. Blind Pig Reader Sheryl Paul generously shared the pumpkin seeds with me and boy am I glad she did.
2. Remember last fall when John Parris taught us to catch a falling leaf to be free from colds all winter? Well I didn't even have to try this fall. I was walking to my car after visiting Granny and this small leaf floated down around my head and curved right into my hand almost as if someone placed it there.
3. Granny has grown blue ageratum for as long as I can remember. It was one of the first plants she shared with me when I planted my own flowers, so I have it growing around the yard too. It's never really been one of my favorite flowers. It isn't that showy and probably most of my dislike for it comes from the time of year that it blooms.
By the time the ageratum blooms summer is so overgrown I'm ready for cold weather and a hard frost to push everything back. I had never wondered where Granny got her start of the plant, but the other day she told me the story.
She said when her and Pap only had Steve they lived in a house they rented from the Kings in Murphy. Pap's mother, Marie, would come to town and baby-sit Steve while Granny worked. She said the Kings had blue ageratum growing in their yard and Mamaw Marie asked them for a piece of it. Mamaw brought it home to Brasstown and got it established. Years later when Pap and Granny were able to build their own house up the road from Mamaw Marie she shared her blue ageratum with Granny. Granny said "She shared it with me because after all she probably would of never had the flower if I hadn't begged her to come and keep Steve for me." I told Granny "Now that I know the story I'll never again be able to pull up my blue ageratum with such abandon no matter where it spreads.
4. John Mac Kah is an amazing artist who is based in Asheville NC. He also teaches his craft to others. Back in the beginning of the summer the girls did some volunteer work for the John C. Campbell Folk School. One of their duties was to weed the beds outside of the art studio where John was teaching a class. Over the course of the week the girls got to know John and the other folks in the class. Each day Chitter would look at a painting John was working on to see what progress he had made since the day before.
Pap and Chitter had a common love of westerns. Often they talked about the books Chitter was reading and about Pap's favorites that he'd read over the years. One of the last books they talked about was Zane Grey's Lost Wagon Train.
One day as Chitter checked on the progress of John's painting she mentioned that she thought the scene look like it ought to be in a western. She went on to tell John about losing her Pap in the Spring and about the common love of westerns they shared.
Chitter didn't see the painting again util the last day of the class. As the students and instructors across campus were gearing up for the show and tell event that concludes all folk school class weeks, John showed Chitter the finished painting. She couldn't believe her eyes-there in the middle of the painting was a wagon train. She was tickled pink that he took her comment about the scene looking like it should be in a western to heart and added a wagon train.
She is still thrilled, humbled, and honored that he gifted her the beautiful painting in memory of her Pap-a man he never even met.
5. Even though I only stumbled upon it recently, I've pretty much fallen in love with a song called Elzic's Farewell. Go here to hear the song played by Lynn Shaw who is an amazing fiddler and a friend. I've already put my request in for Chitter to learn it so I can hear it any time I want to.
p.s. A few upcoming performances for The Pressley Girls
October 15, 2016 @ 4:00 p.m.- Stecoah Valley Center Harvest Festival Stecoah (Robbinsville), NC
October 22, 2016 @ TBA Cherokee County Fair Murphy, NC
October 27, 2016 @ 1:00 p.m. Wofford College Spartanburg, SC
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.
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."
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.
4. Earlier this month, Chatter opened her own Etsy Shop - Apothecopie. This is what she had to say about it:
1.Pap coached little league baseball for years. He coached the teams Steve played on until he moved on to high school level and he coached the teams Paul played on until he too moved on to the high school level. All those years of coaching means a lot of boys and a few girls walk around with memories of coach Jerry Wilson in their heads. At Pap's funeral more than a few of the boys, now grown into middle aged men with graying hair and deepening laugh lines, walked through the visitation line. Two of them couldn't speak to me. One finally managed a word of condolence the other could not summon one syllable to rise above his sadness. Sadness over a baseball coach that he never even talked to much in the last 30 years. I'd heard about Pap's influence being great in the lives of the players he coached, yet it was only at his funeral that I realized the depth of meaning behind the stories I'd heard.
A few weeks ago a former baseball player posted a team photo on facebook and asked for help in identifying the players. True friendliness showed up in the comments as folks looked back on those years with great fondness for each other, for the sport of baseball, and for one of their coaches named Jerry Wilson.
2. Granny's already working on her Christmas presents. She crocheted cozies for two little round tins for the girls. When I stopped by one day last week she said "I made these for Christmas but go ahead and give them to the girls, tell them I said its Christmas in July."
3. Paul and the girls started working on a cd last week. They already have tracks laid down for three songs. The songs will be on a cd we have planned-sort of a compilation of The Pressley Girls and the Blind Pig Gang. Paul and Pap had been working on several songs in the months before Pap passed away. I'll keep you updated on the progress of the cd.
4. I think I'm growing the world's largest Candy Roaster. I said I think because this one isn't growing no where near where I planted the seed. The giant is growing in my watermelon patch. I added some compost from the front garden to my new watermelon bed in the back garden and I'm guessing I carried along a few seeds from last year. There's several green striped cushaw and a few spaghetti squash volunteering in the bed too. Oh well I guess if my watermelons don't make I'll at least have winter squash a plenty.
Paul and I are still mostly in the planning stages for the dvd I told you about a while back (if you missed that post go here). On the Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube channel there are 3 Front Range covers in the top 20 viewed videos. We won't put all 3 of them on the dvd, we will most likely go with the one that has the most views which is The Hills I Call Home written by Bob Amos-it has over 27,000 views. My favorite of the 3 is further on down the list, Fergus County Jail. I love the song, I believe I've written about it at least twice. The song's got it all: a story that keeps you hanging onto the edge of your seat, a lonesome catchy sound, and a longing to be back on the farm with the whippoorwills singing in the dell. The video is pretty much perfection. Paul could do it another 1,000 times and we'd never capture the sound we did that day. Go here to see the Fergus County Jail video for yourself.
Since Granny started the whole Christmas in July thing-leave a comment on this post for a chance to win one of Paul and Pap's Songs of Christmas cds. *Giveaway ends Saturday July 16 which happens to be Pap's birthday.
p.s. The photo at the top of the page is different from the one circulating on facebook. My best guess at the boys in the photo shared here is: from bottom left-Mitchell Phillips, ?, Corky Anderson, Jan McCoy; from top left-Larry (Lum) Ledford, Keith Williams, Keith (Pickle) Stalcup, ?, Steve Wilson, Curry Penland, ?. If you recognize any of the ? boys I'd appreciate it if you'd tell me who you think they are.
1. Pap was better at running the tv than Granny. They both love to watch the western channel and they love the Andy Griffith Show too. Pap had the tv programmed where it would switch over to Andy every evening. Granny is usually watching the show when I come by after work to check on her. She said she thought it was so sweet that Pap fixed the tv for her since she didn't know how to fool with it like he did. One day she told me "Every evening when it turns to Andy and Barney I think how he's still looking out for me even though he's gone."
2. The Deer Hunter was out working in a field the other day when he spied some dewberries by the side of the way. He cut the top off a plastic water bottle and picked some for me. There used to be a few dewberries down at Pap's big garden, I need to go see if they're still there.
3. Brasstown is a buzz with the sound of children this week-it's Little Middle Folk School at the John C. Campbell Folk School. The girls are too old to attend as students, but they are volunteering. Chatter is helping with all sorts of things from finding out the needs of instructors to directing traffic. The lucky dog Chitter is helping out in the jewelry studio as an assistant. I used to write about the classes the girls took when they were students. You can see the old posts at the links below:
4. Since Pap died Granny has about drove herself crazy going through old pictures and papers. She found Pap's college ID card a few weeks ago. I knew he went to college on the GI Bill, but had never seen the card before. Back then the community college hadn't been open for all that long. The college was started on the site of an old prison and in those days it was mostly technical programs that were offered. Pap took electronics and learned how to wire the house he was building for him and Granny at the time.
5. Paul and I are slowly making progress on the dvd I told you about a few weeks ago (if you missed that post go here). I made a playlist on Youtube of our top 22 viewed videos-you can go here to see/hear it. I've been letting it play in the background as I work. I find myself being amazed at the wonderful music even though I was right there when it was being made. I've especially been enjoying When the Roses Bloom Again.
p.s. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for the book about Grandma Gatewood-it ends tomorrow!
1. These 4 men recently received a well deserved Award of Excellence for the work they do. Knowing the people they provide service for on a daily basis nominated them for the award makes it that much sweeter. Knowing every last one of them is a true Appalachian man born and raised right here in my mountains makes my heart sing. If you didn't recognize him, The Deer Hunter is the third back from the front. If I were going on an epic journey filled with great peril-these are the men I would beg to go with me. They could handle any task, chore, or issue that arose-AND they would tackle it all with an encouraging kind compassionate spirit.
2. We have been overwhelmed by the out pouring of love that has rained down upon our heads since Pap died. Hugs, love, food, cards, letters, emails, texts, flowers, donations to the JCCFS music scholarship in Pap's name, stories, kind words, books donated to libraries in Pap's name, and even rings-all given to us in memory of Pap and what he meant to the givers and to the receivers.
3. I've told you before that Pap was a fan of The Avett Brothers. He liked their music, he liked the lyrics to their songs even more. He said he didn't know about all that jumping around they do sometimes, but he sure liked how they did their own thing and still managed to make it in the music world. Pap was really pleased when he found out their uncle was his friend and fellow musician Wally from right over in Martins Creek. I never know when I'm going to bust into tears over missing Pap. The other morning on the way to work it was The Avett Brothers that caused it. As I listened to one of their songs I started thinking about what a cool old man Pap was. He not only knew who The Avett Brothers were, he could even tell you which of their songs he liked the best. I shared this one with him a few weeks before he passed. Like many of their original songs it has an old sound but with a totally modern interpretation.
4. Years ago Granny gave me a start of an old fashioned pink rose she got from her mother, my Granny Gazzie. I planted it beside the driveway and fell in love with it the first spring it bloomed. The prettiest deep pink you ever seen, but even better than the color is the sweet fragrance. After a year or two I realized choosing to plant the rose by the driveway was a mistake. I had to constantly keep it pruned back out of the way. I finally wised up and started a piece of the rose near the edge of a bank on around the house where it could sprawl and grow to its heart's content. The rose only blooms once in the spring but it's worth waiting on.
5. If you haven't checked out Chitter's Stamey Creek Creations Etsy Shop lately you need to. She's added some especially interesting designs lately. I especially like the snap type clasp she's used on some of them-very easy to put on when you're in a hurry.