Archive for November, 2008


November 25, 2008


We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.                                                                       –Thornton Wilder

I know, I know…ridiculous that I should be writing a post saying goodbye to summer when we’ve had several snows already and are bidding adieu to fall.  But that’s me—always one step, one week, one season behind.  A day late and a dollar short. 

But, after all, it’s only been three weeks since my summer flowers reluctantly yielded to Jack Frost.  It was miraculous really how they stood fast against the bitter cold for so long.  But there came a day when there was a certain rawness in the air, and I knew my flowers wouldn’t last the night.  So I gathered some of my favorite blossoms and moved them indoors where, amazingly, they stayed fresh for two weeks!  So I still had summer on my kitchen table, at least.  🙂  

And, after all, as Thanksgiving draws near, it seems appropriate to feature some of the things I’m most thankful for.  So, here are some images (taken here at the doublewide ranch) of my own summertime treasures, for which I am most grateful. 

My Thanksgiving prayer for all of us is that we may always have a grateful heart—because a grateful heart is a full heart.  My hope is that we may be always “conscious of our treasures.”

As W. J. Cameron said, “A thankful heart hath a continual feast.”  So, may we always have a feast for our stomachs, a feast for our eyes, and a continual feast for our hearts.

Happy Thanksgiving.












The Joys and Pleasures of Foolishness

November 18, 2008


When we decided to follow our hearts and move to our true home in the mountains from Raleigh five years ago, not a single person in our extended families supported us or, for that matter, even seemed to wish us well.  Yes, we had our own personal Prophets of Doom, who issued all manner of dire predictions, including the certainty of financial ruin—because our moving was not “financially prudent.”

And I had not a single word to offer in our defense (except that our spirits were weary and we yearned to go home).  Because, the truth is, they were right.  Leaving a good job and a decent home for an uncertain future was indeed not “financially prudent.” And, just as they predicted, we did experience financial hardship, though we’ve always had plenty to eat and a warm place to lay our heads.

And, now, five years later, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man is making $12.17 an hour, whereas five years ago in Raleigh, he made $17.00 an hour.  So, still, I have no rational argument to offer my still critical extended family.  How do you make a case for riches of the spirit?  Is there really a rationale for choosing a full heart over a full wallet?

Probably not, at least from a logical viewpoint.  But perhaps instead I could offer these photographs.  They were all taken in a 48-hour period this past weekend from our front yard.  Yes, in just two day’s time, we saw: a double rainbow arcing over the valley, snow that frosted the peaks and made the Appalachians look like the Alps, and a sunrise over the mountains that took my breath away. 

So, we count our blessings instead of our cash.  And we’ll show our relatives in the flatlands these pictures and congratulate them for their financial prudence.  And we’ll try not to mind that they think we’re foolish, irrational, and a little crazy for what we did.  Because, really, maybe we are. 

But if we are mad, we are content in our madness.  And if we are fools, we are joyful—and most grateful—fools.  

“They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; and I deem them mad because they think my days have a price.”  ~Kahlil Gibran




The Coexistence of Joy and Sorrow

November 13, 2008


What makes me happy:

That my beloved North Carolina transformed from red to blue in this election,  when my fellow North Carolinians expressed their faith in Barack Obama by a margin of 13,693 souls.

What makes me sad:

The spite, malice, and ill will I hear in the voices of some of those in this state who didn’t vote for Obama and refuse to support him now, many of whom call themselves Christians.  I offer the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:25 and 36, 37:

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand…I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words, thou shalt be condemned.”

What makes me sad:

That our persimmons this year are just slightly larger than grapes (likely because of the drought) but they have huge seeds, which means that the persimmon pulp I get from one persimmon is about the size of a grain of rice, which means that I won’t be able to make my Grandma’s persimmon pudding this year.

What makes me happy:

That my bird friends don’t mind that the persimmons are small.  They dine daily in our persimmon trees and their chirps and chatter cheer me, so my heart is full, even if my stomach isn’t.


What makes me sad:

That most of my flowers are gone now.  I especially miss the happy, bright Crayola colors of my zinnias. 


What makes me happy:

The amazing seed heads of some spent flowers, like Queen Anne’s Lace, and the seed pods of the morning glory.



And now…what makes me happiest:

When my sweet babies are home.


“A Certain Slant of Light” (thank you, Emily Dickinson)

November 10, 2008


It’s been a lovely and lengthy fall here in the Blue Ridge—the leaves are just now beginning to surrender to the inevitable.  So perhaps you’re wondering why I haven’t posted the obligatory mountain autumn splendor shot that is the responsibility of every mountain blogger. 🙂 

Well, for one thing, it’s been a busy fall at the Blue Ridge Blue Collar doublewide estate.  We haven’t had a chance lately to make it up to the Blue Ridge Parkway or any other of our usual favorite hiking spots.  And the truth is, although I’ve taken a number of shots in my community, I haven’t felt as though a single one did autumn justice.  So often I fail to convey in my photos what I actually see.  How do I capture the purity and holiness of the light this time of year?  How do I communicate to you that the way the light shone through the golden leaves made me catch my breath? 

Last week, we had a couple of those days where the clouds tumble swiftly across the azure sky, and cloud shadows and light play across the hills and the light swirls and sweeps across the red, yellow, and orange ridges of the blue mountains, and it’s all so beautiful that you feel like crying.  And how can you capture that?

Nevertheless, there’s something to be said for just the effort of trying to share a bit of my world, even when I feel I’ve fallen short.  So this is my closest approximation of what I saw as I walked down my driveway as the sun set, and the golden light broke through the overcast and illuminated the valley and the trees and left the mountains, who usually dominate the show, in darkness.  And it pricked my heart and made me catch my breath.  I wish you could have been here.  But since you weren’t, I hope this suffices.  



A Sense of Sober Optimism

November 5, 2008


(On my porch this morning)

What can I say about last night—and the triumph of Barack Obama?  It was historic, it was inspiring, it was transcendent, and it was moving beyond words.  So I’ll keep my own inadequate words brief.

It was impossible to watch history being made last night and not be moved and swept up in the jubilation and sense of hope and joy.  This morning, my jubilation is somewhat tempered by thoughts of just how far our country has to travel in the journey back to wholeness and just how rocky and steep the road will be.  I guess you could say I feel a sense of sober optimism.
One thing is for sure—no matter who you voted for, in order for real healing to take place, the healing must begin in our own hearts and minds.  One man alone cannot bring about change—it must begin in us.  We must be the change we want to see. 

John McCain said it well in his concession speech last night:

I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences… to leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.”

And, of course, as always, President-Elect Barack Obama inspired us with his words:

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek — it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers — in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long….. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth — that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Indeed.  And it is my prayer that God not only may bless us, but that He may heal our souls and spirits and the soul and spirit of our nation.  And it is my most earnest prayer that God may keep Barack Obama and his family safe in the palm of His hand.

The Audacity of Hope

November 4, 2008

(Can we fix it?  YES, WE CAN!)

Well, Election Day is here at last.  But Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I won’t be going to the polls.  Why?  Because we already did.  Last week at our local branch library. 

We had to wait about half an hour, but we didn’t mind.  I’ve always enjoyed waiting in line to vote, studying the faces around me, wondering what their stories are, and pondering who they might be voting for and why.   Everyone was quite somber—it seemed we were all aware of just how important this election is and how much is at stake.  I was very nervous as I began to fill in the little ovals with the provided pen.  And so afraid of making a mistake that, of course…I made a mistake. 

I didn’t think it was a serious blunder, but I had to make sure, so before I fed it into the machine, I showed my ballot to the nice man standing beside the machine and asked him if my mistake would affect my votes.  He took my ballot in hand and studied it.

“So…I see…you voted a straight Democratic ticket?” he said in a booming voice that seemed to echo throughout the small library conference room.  The low hum of conversation in the room stopped.  People looked up from their voting booths.  Faces turned in my direction.  And from the look on some of those faces, you’d think he had said, “So…you and your husband are flesh-eating zombies from Hell, are you?” 

I felt my face turn red and whispered, “Yes…yes, I did.”  He studied the ballot further, then handed it back to me with a smile and told me it was fine. My hands were shaking as I fed it to the machine and fled. 

Not that I was surprised to see those hostile faces.  We live in a very rural and very conservative community.  There are McCain/Palin signs everywhere, but almost no Obama/Biden posters.  Not that the Obama supporters aren’t out there…they are…but we all know that a campaign sign for Obama would last about five minutes here.   And most of the people who live here are truly fine people—very earnest and sincere in both their spiritual and political beliefs. 

Anyway, I don’t generally write political posts (because others do it so much better), but I just wanted to stand up and say that I am proud to have voted for Barack Obama.  I am proud to have voted for change, for hope, and for the possibility of the healing of our country.

I read two news items in the paper a few days ago.  One of them said that Sarah Palin was seriously considering a run for the Presidency in 2012.  The other said that “Joe the Plumber” had hired a publicity team and that a book would be forthcoming.   Dear God. 

I suddenly envisioned a horrible scenario:  Sarah Palin running for President with “Joe the Plumber” as her running mate.  Yikes.  You may say it couldn’t happen and I pray you’re right, but with the circus that politics has become, it would seem that nothing is out of the question.  By Golly, you betcha. 

I do pray that “Joe the Plumber” will soon fade back into his well-deserved earlier obscurity.  I find his ubiquity more annoying than Paris Hilton’s, and that’s saying a lot.

I mean, really, is he seriously the best the Republicans could offer for an example of “the common man?”  Well, I’ll grant…he does seem common.  But let me offer for your consideration my husband, “Tom the Carpenter.”  He works hard for his $12.00 an hour, he pays his taxes, and if he ever made over $250,000 a year, he would be happy to “spread the wealth.”  Because that’s what Jesus told us to do and that’s what Jesus Himself would do.  You know how McCain and Palin keep belittling the idea of spreading the wealth?  You wouldn’t find Jesus ridiculing the notion of sharing.  He spoke frequently of our responsibility to help the poor.

Or, instead of “Joe the Plumber,” how about “Bob the Builder?”  For any that might not know, he’s the little cartoon hero contractor/fix-it man who, when there is a problem says, “Can we fix it?”  And all his friends and co-workers shout, “YES WE CAN!”   And, yes, I know it’s not that simple and that our problems are so daunting as to seem almost hopeless.  But we must start somewhere.

So let me add my one small voice to the growing chorus of hope.  And let us all raise our voices for change.  For healing.  For our children’s and grandchildren’s futures….

Can we fix it?  YES WE CAN!

Yes, oh yes…we can.