Appalachia Through My Eyes - Creek and Holler Folks

Creek and holler folks

Creek and holler folks is one of many synonyms used to describe people who live in the mountains. A few others that come to mind:

  • Hillbilly
  • Branch water people
  • Mountain people
  • Ridge runners
  • Hill people

I don't care what you call them, I just call them my people.

Tipper

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

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Way Up In The Middle Of The Night

Way up in the middle of the night

The other morning Granny asked The Deer Hunter if he heard someone shooting way up in the middle of the night. He didn't hear it nor did Paul or I so I'm thinking Granny heard something she thought was a gunshot. Or then again, maybe we all slept through it leaving Granny to wonder about the shot. 

Anyway, my mind latched onto the way Granny described the time she heard the gunshot: way up in the middle of the night.

I've said those very same words to describe the exact time one of the girls called out to me because they were sick at night or to describe the time of night that I heard an unusual noise.

Not to long ago my unusual noise was a towering pine tree out on the ridge that finally succumbed to the beetle damage and fell during the night. I kept thinking someone was doing something with a piece of tin I guess it was the tree settling and sliding down the steep side of the ridge.  By morning I had forgotten about the noise until The Deer Hunter asked me "Did you hear that tree fall way up in the middle of the night?" See he says it too.

What exact time is way up in the middle of the night?

Even though I describe the time of night that way, it's still hard for me to say exactly when it is. For sure past midnight but before dawn is the best description I guess.

The phrase is so very typical of our lovely Appalachian language. Instead of saying during the night we feel the need to offer the information in a very descriptive detailed manner so that the listener knows exactly what we mean. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. at the JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

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Appalachia Through My Eyes - Brasstown

Brasstown NC

Brasstown is all a buzz with the preparations for the biggest doings of the year: the John C. Campbell Folk School's Annual Fall Festival. This will be the 43rd consecutive year of the festival and I believe it gets bigger every year. 

Blind Pig reader, Rooney Floyd told me he attended the first festival and there wasn't but about thirty people there. These days the two day festival draws well over 10,000 people. 

I always heard the name Brasstown came from a corruption of an Indian word that meant fresh green place or something like that.

The community of Brasstown is unique in that it is split between two counties. My portion of Brasstown lies within the boundaries of Cherokee County while the area down around the post office lies within Clay County. This anomaly causes some interesting tax mix-ups. One time years ago Clay County put a warrant out for Paul's drivers license because he didn't pay his taxes...only he didn't owe taxes to Clay County because he lived in Cherokee County. 

Brasstown is unique in other ways as well.

It's the home of the annual New Year's Possum Drop, its one of the areas you can readily find fairy crosses, and hey it's the home of the Blind Pig and The Acorn too. 

If you make it out to the festival The Pressley Girls will be playing on Sunday October 8 at 2:00 p.m on the Festival Barn Stage. We'll be hanging around the stage before and after so please come find us to say hello. 

Tipper

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

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Appalachian Sayings - All Vines And No Taters

All Vines and No Taters

all vines an' no taters
Used to describe something or someone very showy but of no substance. "He'll never amount to nothin'. He's all vines and no taters." Probably was suggested by sweet potatoes, which produce a lot of vines and, if grown incorrectly can yield few sweet potatoes. 

Mountain Range A Dictionary of Expressions from Appalachia to the Ozarks written by Robert Hendrickson

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Lots of folks have been busy digging the last of their taters as they prepare for the coming winter. As I watched a couple along the roadside gather theirs I was reminded of the old saying all vines and no taters

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. at the JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

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Canned Sweet Apples

Canned sweet apples

I came across this apple recipe in the cookbook Mountain Cooking written by John Parris. When I read it I was immediately intrigued because it sounded almost exactly like the way Granny taught me to make pear preserves.

Uncle Henry used to bring me Pears and Miss Cindy had a friend with two different kind of pear trees who gifted me with pears. In those days I had plenty to make the pear recipe that's been handed down through Granny's family. Unfortunately I no longer have access to pears, but when I read the apple recipe by John Parris I knew I had to try it. 

You'll remember the squirrels ate all my apples this year while I was sick. Thankfully Miss Cindy got more than enough apples from farmer Tim down the road for me to put up applesauce and to try this recipe. 

Canned Sweet Apple Recipe

Canned Sweet Apples - Mountain Cooking - John Parris

Peel and slice enough sweet apples to fill a large dish pan. About a half a bushel. 

Cover with about 8 or 10 cups of sugar and let set overnight.

Old recipe for apple preserves

Next morning cook until tender, then pack in hot jars and seal.

Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.

If old-time sweet apples are unavailable, use Golden Delicious. In preparing the apples for canning, never add water to them. The sugar draws the juice from the apples and they cook in their own juice.

Old fashioned recipe for canned sweet apples

The apples turned out so tasty! I do believe I'll be making this recipe for years to come...if I can keep the squirrels out of my apple trees!

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. at the JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

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Wish You Could Have Been At The Concert!

Historic Union County Courthouse

We always have a great time when we perform at the Historic Union County Courthouse, but somehow our recent concert there seemed especially enjoyable. Like Pap used to say it had a good spirit about it. 

There were several Blind Pig readers who got to attend, but I know most of you live to far away to think about coming to one of our performances so I wanted to share part of the concert with you today. 

Chatter and Chitter have always bantered back and forth on stage, but in the last year it seems the back and forth have become an integral part of their show. They were in rare form on Friday night. They had the place laughing like it was a comedy show instead of a music concert. They've also become quite the storytellers, as you can tell when they share the story of my birthday chairs

I hope you enjoyed the peak into the concert! I'll share more of the show with you in the coming weeks. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. at the JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

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Storing Onions

Stringing onions for storing

We never grow onions to store through the winter. We plant the type of onions that are best eaten as spring green onions. Most of them get eaten quickly once their green sword shaped leaves shoot above the fresh spring ground.

As the garden progresses from spring veggies to summer veggies a few onions always get forgotten under the foliage of the growing plants. I usually find them as I weed in the garden or pull up the rest of the spring planting of beets and radishes. 

Since I don't have many onions to worry about storing, I get The Deer Hunter to string them up on the front porch for me. I use the onions for cooking.

Stringing up the onions on the porch always makes me think of Little House on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls Wilder's books were by far my favorite thing to read when I was a young girl. I remember wishing I could see the attic where Laura and Mary played between the rows of braided onions that hung down from the ceiling. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing TODAY Saturday September 30, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. and at 1:00 p.m. at the Tractor Parade/Ag Day celebration - Hayesville NC and on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

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Getting Scratched By Sawbriers

Sawbriers in Appalachia

Have you ever gotten tangled up in a sawbrier? I have and let me tell you it hurts like the dickens.

I know there are scientific names like Brown Sawbriar or Woodland Sawbriar, but to me there are basically two kinds of briers: berry briers which are definitely worth fighting the serrated teeth for the sweetness they produce and sawbriers which as far as I can tell serve no purpose other than inflicting pain.

Sawbriers seem to grow over night by the feet. Sometimes they grow up up up till they can no longer support their weight of height and fall over.

Sawbriers are sneaky too.

I swear I can weed my garden one day and the next I'll be walking through admiring my work when I'm grabbed by the sharp teeth of a two foot high sawbrier  and left wondering how in the world I missed seeing it the day before.

Most everybody has heard the story of Brer Rabbit. My family was also familiar with another story related to the aggravation of briers. We were taught the fault of sawbriers lay with Adam and Eve and should serve as an important reminder not to stray from the narrow way.

Maybe I've got too much time on my hands, but lately I've been thinking about sawbriers and how they could be used to symbolize the hardscrabble life that my Appalachian ancestors lived.

Just when the fields are ripe and full with summer's harvest making you think you're living in the land of milk and honey you can walk through the bounty and be scratched by a stubborn sawbrier as a reminder trouble may be waiting just around the corner.

The same reasoning could apply to our lives today and to the lives of folks all over the world. Appalachia does not hold the reins of heartache and sorrow alone.

Those same Appalachian ancestors who endured the sawbriers of life also knew how to pull them up or at least put them on a shelf at the back of their mind and enjoy life. Sitting a spell on the front porch to watch the evening fall; hearing a fiddle tune; or simply holding a grandbaby on your lap are all good things for taking those ornery sawbriers off your mind at the end of a long hard day. 

Earlier this summer as we were weeding Pap's garden one of the girls said she couldn't pull up a sawbrier cause it hurt too bad. I showed her how if you reach all the way down to the bottom of the brier right where it goes into the ground you can sometimes grab a hold right there and pull without getting stuck.

The dogged determination to enjoy life to the fullest is one of the traits that's seldom listed under the typical mumbo jumbo credited to native Appalachians, but I assure you it abounds from one end of Appalachia to the other. Pap taught us from an early age to step on the sawbriers you couldn't pull up and to look for the sunshine up above.

Tipper

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn in August of 2010

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday September 30, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. and at 1:00 p.m. at the Tractor Parade/Ag Day celebration - Hayesville NC and on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

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Appalachian Vocabulary Test 104

Words from Appalachia

It's time for this month's Appalachian Vocabulary Test. I'm sharing a few videos to let you hear some of the words and phrases. To start the videos click on them and then to stop them click on them again.

1. Marry off: to get married and leave your parents. "I never did want any of my girls to marry off and leave. I knew the life ahead of them would be tougher without me and their Poppa to look after'em."

2. Mast: a season's accumulation of fallen nuts, seeds, berries, etc. "The amount of mast produced each year is supposed to be an indicator of the severity of the coming winter."

3. Meadow muffin: cow dung. "I went traipsing through the yard in the dark and stepped right in a big old meadow muffin. Ole Jo's cows got out last night and left me a mess and half to clean up."

4. Meanness: mischief. "Granny said in the old days folks were too busy to get into much meaness. They stayed busy getting food and water and getting wood to stay warm in the winter."

5. Mend: to improve in health. "Granny is on the mend and I'm so thankful!"

All of this month's words are beyond common in my area of Appalachia except meadow muffin. I've never heard that one. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday September 30, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. and at 1:00 p.m. at the Tractor Parade/Ag Day celebration - Hayesville NC and on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

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You Can Save Your Flower Seeds

How to save flower seeds
One day this week I came by to see Granny after work. She was waist high in her zinna patch, cutting the seed heads off for next summer's garden.

When I was growing up she taught me to gather all sorts of flower seed during the last days of summer so that we'd have them on hand for the following year's flowers. While I helped her collect the seeds I'd think we were storing up pretty flowers for the cold winter days-even if they were only in our minds.

I've read detailed instructions for seed saving in gardening books, but I use the simple method Granny did. For most of the flowers I look for dried blossoms to cut off and then pull them apart to reveal the seeds. This method works well with Marigolds, Zinnias, Purple Coneflowers, Black Eyed Susans, and Cosmos.

Once I have the seeds pulled from the seed pods, I let them dry a few days in a sunny window and then put them in paper or plastic bag till next spring. 

Saving impatient and nasturium seeds

I also save Nasturtium seeds. I love their huge flowing leaves and bright flowers. They're even edible-you can't beat that. To find their seeds just look down through the vining leaves. Sometimes two seeds are together like in the photo. I take the seeds indoors and lay them on a piece of paper or paper towel and let them dry until they're shriveled and brown looking then I put them in an old envelope or bag and save them till spring.

Saving seeds from Impatients is fun. Look for seedpods that are swelled. Usually as soon as you touch them they POP-children love to help with this one. Once the pod pops open it curls in upon itself. You can discard the green portion and save the tiny seeds. Let them air dry on a piece of paper and store till spring. 

Sometimes I take the easy lazy way of saving seeds. I cut the entire dried flower, stem and all, then lay it where I want it to grow next year. In most cases it works.

Back in the days when the girls used my flowers in their mud pie making enterprise I ended up with flowers in some strange places, but I say a flower is nice no matter where it grows.

Blind Pig readers save their flower seed too. Here's a few comments from the archives.

Pamela Moore: Tipper, I dry the cosmos flowers in the microwave. Lay between paper towels and run on high in ten second intervals until crispy dry.

Ethel: I too use the envelope method of seed saving. Every year I save some seeds from the prettier colored hollyhocks, the moonflowers and some Trail of Tears beans that a native american woman gave me about five years ago. I haven't found it necessary to save seeds from coneflowers or black-eyed susans; even with the gold finches gobbling up their seeds each fall, I still end up pulling hundreds of unwanted starts from these flowers every spring!

Shirla: Mom always saved her seeds in a baby food jar and then froze them till the next year. I save seeds from my Star Of Bethlehem and Zinnias. The Angel Trumpet seeds are in a big pod with stickers that are hard to deal with. I pull the pods and bury them in the same area to avoid having acres of them the next year. 

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Tipper

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p.s. The winners of the JCCFS Fall Festival Tickets are...

Lori who said: Well it may be too late to win the tickets but I do want to express how much I am enjoying your blog! We are just getting introduced to your music and love the stories of family and Appalachian history. My husband and I have talked about taking a class at the Folk School and thought attending the fall festival would be a fun way to look around the campus.

And Lorie Thompson who said: Hey, Tipper. I would love to win the tickets to the JC Campbel Folk School's Fall Festival. In past years I never missed coming, but it had been quite some time since I had been there until I came last year. I was shocked to see the size of it! I did not allow enough time to go through as I had my old dog with me and my husband. The dog was really worn out about half-way through and my husband was finished when we left the music area, as he admires arts and crafts in small doses, only. So, I would enjoy coming back this year with a friend who loves festivals as much as I do. We will leave the husbands and the dogs at home and plan the day to see everything. Hope to meet you! I am your neighbor over the mountain in Georgia and feel like I already know you from your Blog and your emails. Happy Day to you!

How do you like that! The random number generator picked two Loris! Email me your address to me at blindpigandtheacorn@gmail.com and I'll send the tickets to you. 

p.s.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday September 30, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. and at 1:00 p.m. at the Tractor Parade/Ag Day celebration - Hayesville NC and on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC.

Tipper

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