Thursday, March 31, 2011

Out like a Lion

What's this? Snow? After our spring Down South last week?

Goodbye March! Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Down South

Today is cold, damp, and gray, with just the hint of a mist in the air. I've caught the thermometer lying several times. So I've decided to revisit last week, at least in my mind.

Last week we visited our son and his family Down South. Spring was in full force there.

The camellias were already a little past their prime, but the dogwoods and azaleas were at peak.

Here we have to hang on while spring makes it usual two steps forward, one step back approach.

Surely we'll see dogwoods and azaleas bloom by mid-April. Surely.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Barns, Part 1

One of my favorite blogs, Vanishing Eastern Kentucky, consists of photos of structures once commonplace but now in danger of disappearing altogether. The blog appeals to me because I've been taking pictures like that for much of my life.

Barns, in particular, appeal to me because they represent so many aspects of our history and culture. Their architecture tells us much about the ethnic heritage of the people who built them; German barns are different from English barns.

They can tell us if they were part of a large, prosperous farm or a small subsistence farm.

They tell about the crops that were important to people that built them. Tobacco barns and livestock sheds are different from each other, and both differ from dairy barns.

But most of all, they remind us that ways of making a living have changed and we have to preserve them if we want to hold on to the memories of that time.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Roadside Salvation

 Patchwork Nation calls our area Evangelical Epicenters, and I guess that fits. The casual visitor driving through can't miss the tell-tale signs. These first two are historical, now preserved at John Rice Irwin's Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee.

Other signs remain.

This barn, located in Glenmary, Tennessee, has always reminded me of the "There's still time, brother" banner in the 1959 film, On the Beach. Sadly there's not still time for this barn; it collapsed this past winter. But then, that's consistent with the movie, isn't it? Don't fret, there are lots of similar signs throughout the area.

This barn is still delivering it's message.  You'll find it on U.S. 25 just south of Newport, Tennessee. We pass it every time we visit Hot Springs, North Carolina.

You can enlarge each of these pictures by just clicking on the picture.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Can you hear color?

Can you hear color?  If so, today it sounds like

The daffodils and Forsythia are screaming at the tops of their ................lungs?

This is the roof of the car I washed just yesterday afternoon -

Can you hear coughing and sneezing, blowing and wheezing?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

One step closer

It's up!

After more than a year of helping organize a quilt barn trail for our home county, we finally have gotten our own quilt block painted and hung on our car barn. The pattern is Ohio Star, which commemorates our meeting and marrying in Cincinnati where we each had gone to teach. (Yes, we did both "come down from the mountain.") The colors in the quilt block repeat the colors of our 1880s-looking "railroad" house. Ours makes the sixth quilt block in the village, each of which commemorates something in the history of the family that erected it or of the village itself.

Eric & Vi's Pennsylvania block recalls Eric's heritage.

Butch & Cheryl's block is from a quilt they own. Butch's grandmother made it for her son, Quentin, when he was called to service in World War II. The quilt was shipped home among the contents of his footlocker after he was killed in the war. Butch, who is named for his uncle, received the quilt from his grandmother.

The nine-patch on the Harrow Road Cafe reproduces part of a quilt that was made by an early resident of the village.

Sadie's Quilt on Boyd & Barbara's garage building reproduces a block from a quilt the Rugby Quilters made to hang in the Historic Rugby, Inc., Visitor Centre, which honors an early resident, Sarah "Sadie" Walton.

The Crazy Quilt on the Historic Rugby Commissary Museum Store contains references to the village's history, starting with its founding in 1880.

These blocks and more will be part of the inaugural tour of the Morgan County Heritage Quilt Trail on April 9, 2011.  There will be an opening ceremony at the courthouse in Wartburg, Tennessee, followed by a bus tour. The bus tour to see approximately 20 quilt barns, admission to a quilt exhibition at Historic Rugby, and tea at Grey Gables Bed & Breakfast Inn is only $15.00. Contact the Chamber of Commerce for information and reservations at 423.346.5740.  For more on the Rugby Quilt Exhibit on April 8 & 9, 2011, visit the Historic Rugby web site here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Silly Saturday

Spring has arrived.  My inner child has demanded to be set free, to run barefoot through my mind. Here's what he found:

The Liars' Bench


Bath time

Who really watches television

Clean energy

There, wasn't that fun?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Down from the mountain

We call it "on the mountain." It's the Cumberland Plateau and its elevation only becomes apparent on approaching it, or in reference to one of the many gorges carved into it. The escarpments, and especially the gorges, provide a seemingly endless variety of landforms that form the backdrop of my life, but also speak of something deeper. It's home.
Our ancestors came here more than 200 years ago. They raised families, divided the land, raised more families, and further divided the land. When there was no longer enough land to feed new families, many came down from the mountain to cities and jobs.
Some came home on weekends.
Some came home to retire.
Some came home to be buried.

But like the water flowing down from the mountain, we always come back. It's home.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Tombstone Project

"Are you kin to ......?"

That was almost always the first question after you were introduced. Family was important. Family defined you, or at least bought you time to define yourself. You knew who you were kin to because of closeness and the annual family reunions. Genealogy was an oral tradition.

Families are now dispersed and genealogy is something done mostly in libraries and courthouses by the serious, and on-line and in newsletters by the rest of us. Yet it is still made easier and more personal by access to family elders who remember the stories handed down.  When the last elder has died, how do we make the data personal?  How do we feel the presence of those who gave life to us, to our parents, and to our grandparents?

I'm grateful to my sister who asked me to write down all of the family stories I remembered. And also for filling in the gaps that I left. The result was a small volume that each of our children received for Christmas. The consensus, especially from our children's spouses, was "Man, you sure have a weird family!" So be it.

The stories still only tell a small part of their lives.  To better know them, I think it's important to know where they lived, especially since we no longer live there and our children never have. They are buried near where they lived, sometimes on the very land they owned and farmed. A visit to their graves can sometimes shed light on how they lived and how they fit into their communities.

One set of great grandparents was affluent,

another wasn't.

One great-great grandmother shared a maiden name with President Lincoln's mother.  Were they kin?

The Tombstone Project seeks to find as many ancestral graves as possible, photograph them, give directions to them, and record their GPS coordinates.  This information is then compiled with the family stories, old family photographs, and family-tree genealogies.  We won't answer all of the questions, but we'll leave behind our best volume of collected memories. When the child or grandchild becomes interested, they will know where to start looking, whether there are any family elders around or not.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Shaker, Part 1

'tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free.
'tis the gift to come down
where we ought to be.

In August 1774, a small band of immigrants fleeing religious persecution arrived in New York City. They were led by a charismatic woman who would become known as Mother Ann. The church they would become would hold all things common; would live a celibate, monastic life; would treat work as worship; and would flourish in the 19th century only to nearly become extinct in the 20th. They would leave behind art and artifacts that would inspire designers, artists, and architects. And for those who listen, there would be lessons on how to live your life.

The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing is now embodied in a small group of practitioners at the Sabbath Day Lake community in Maine.  Commonly known as Shakers, they formerly had significant communities in New York, New England, the Midwest, and Kentucky. Several of their former communities have been preserved as museums. Our nearest one is the Pleasant Hill Shaker Village, which is on U.S. highway 68 between Harrodsburg and Lexington, KY.

Although celibate, the church was organized into families incorporating both men and women.  Each family had its own large dwelling, with the men living on one side and women on the other. Often there were two front doors, one for men and one for women. The doors opened to a common hallway, but stairs on either side again separated traffic by gender. Common dining rooms were segregated by table assignments, and men and women sat on opposite sides of common meeting rooms for daily worship and conversation.

The museums today seek to give visitors a peek at Shaker life, in addition to displays of artifacts and buildings.

A highlight of any Pleasant Hill visit is an interpretation of Shaker worship through song and dance, given by talented, costumed performers. Shaker church services, which once drew crowds of spectators from "the world's people," are described, and re-enacted as well as can be done in solo performances.  I still want to see one of the rare performances by a group simulating a full worship service.

Most of a tour is self-guided, which we take as license to take our time; to linger over things that appeal to us. Admittedly we're deep into this stuff. But for us, at least two days are needed for a satisfying visit, and each visit offers up more than enough to hold our interest. The Inn at Shaker Village offers overnight accommodations in several of the original Shaker buildings, in rooms furnished with Shaker reproductions. Dining is offered in the Trustees' Office. 

Occasionally we get lucky and catch a glimpse of Shaker life that humanizes the story. One such was catching two "Shaker sisters" ringing the bell atop the Centre Family dwelling to summon worshipers (visitors) to services (performances) in the Meeting House across the road.

The Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is open year around.  Information may be found on their website, which can be found here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Joe's Place

I never knew him; he died before we moved here.  When we first noticed his small, two-room, shotgun home it was already being taken over by unchecked vegetation. 

The interior was, as they say, just as he left it,

right down to the calendar that still displayed the month and year that he left.
With permission from the heirs, community volunteers have now cleared the overgrown vegetation around the house, removed the contents from inside, and repainted the outside.
Joe's spring bulbs are now up and flowering.  Soon the big cherry tree will fill with blossoms, and then the lilac, Rose of Sharon, and Gladiolus will follow.  Once again they will be welcome color in the village.
Rest in peace, Joe.