Posts tagged Great Fellow Bloggers

Sleep- Word a Week prompt

Often sleep is my only relief. I relish the moments when I dream of my child-alive, myself-young, my world-hopeful. Although I find it discouraging to look at sleep as the best part of my day, it sometimes is. No pain, no real bad news, I don’t have to be afraid, things are the way I wish they had been, should have been, I wake with a smile.

Sleep, even in happy times, refreshes me, gives me energy and determination. In difficult times, it gives me a moment of relief, a moment where pain is not a constant, a moment with a friend or loved one who has been taken.

We sleep about 1/3 of our life. It gives us the energy and courage to live the other 2/3. Being able to relax enough to go to sleep is a blessing in its self. And no, my friends, goodnight.

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Earth Day, 1969-2013

I remember the first Earth Day. I was in Junior High, in the downtown area of my city for the first time, my generations first step away from our neighborhood elementary schools. It was the year schools were integrated in my town. How excited we were, to be part of this first Earth Day, we were the “babies” of the “hippie” culture and were anxious to be considered part of the idea behind Earth Day-cleaning up the environment, getting back to home gardens and self-sustaining ideas. Of course at our age, our ideas were limited, as the concept of waste and growing up in a throw away society was our world.

We had just begun to think like adults, have our own ideas and concepts. This is one of the very first days I remember with my mind in an “adult” format. I will never forget it. In celebration of Earth Day, our art class went out and sat on a grassy bank in front of our school and were told to draw pictures of what downtown looked like. I am sure there were kids who were just glad to be outside, but for me, sitting on that hill drawing a picture my perception of the small city was eye-opening. I had lived there all my life, but for the first time, I REALLY looked at my city. I noticed the huge church next door with the domed roof, I looked out at the dogwood trees blooming on down the hill on our school grounds I looked back at the small chipped-rock playground where “recess” and P.E. were held.

Suddenly” my city” became more than simply “my neighborhood. There were still rows of 20’s era building lining the streets beyond the school. There were woods and grassy areas behind the area where the old brick school building set. A red brick wall divided our school grounds from the street below. s I took this all in, the world seemed like a much larger place for the first time in my 14 years of life. i noticed a possibly homeless man wandering the sidewalk beyond the school. His clothes were old and tattered and he appeared to be rather unaware of where he was or in what direction he was going. Having grown up a protected only child who spent her time shopping uptown with my mother, I had given little though to life outside my safe urban world. There were no real “malls” in my town, a few “shopping centers”. No drunks staggered down the streets where I lived. Being “Homeless” was something that happened “somewhere else”, not in my town.

We had a speaker on that first “Earth Day” that introduced us to the concepts of taking care of the world we lived in. In 1969, the world was beginning to seem much smaller and it was happening very quickly. I could not imagine, at that time, how quickly those changes would take place. There were three black and white channels on TV, huge, unsightly receptor antennas stood on top of our homes to bring them to us. Telephones had dials and curly cords. No one that I knew had a microwave, although, I imagine some of the “rich” kids” did. Most moms didn’t work unless they “had to” or at least until their kids were old enough to get off the bus and stay home alone until she got there. Now, letting even a 14 year-old come home to an empty house gives moms an uneasy feeling. I lived in a very innocent world.

There were many more Earth day celebrations in my future, all in an increasingly frightening, yet more aware world. We planted trees, cleaned up river banks, volunteered in homeless shelters. We became aware of the world around us. Sadly, the opening of the door to the fact that we MUST start taking care of our world, was the beginning of the end of the innocent world I grew up in. The old brick Junior High was torn down the next year. The hill was leveled, along with the woods and playground. An interstate now “by-passes” the tunnel through the mountain, which long separated my side of town just as the high bridge across the river separated us from the other side of town.

Integration was the rule and we were at its inception. The concept of Middle School replaced Junior High. There were several big race” riots in the remaining years old my secondary education. Surprisingly, I don’t remember having problems with people with different colored skin. I do, however, remember that though we went to “same” schools, we rarely did things with children who were of a different color form u, or from a different part of town. Earth Day songs played by John Denver Appeared. The whole concept of saving our world from pollution and saving our poor from deprivation became a project for various civic groups.

Earth Day, in 2013 is very different from the first Earth Day. The focus, has ironically returned to its roots, but it is now organized, with special events, a more modern focus. As I talk to my grandchildren, who are still young, and to my teen, who is the age I was at earth Days inception, their world is already a much bigger place. News spreads fast, violence is everywhere, most moms have to work, cable TV, cell phones, technology in general are a part of their world from the time of their birth.

Still, I feel something very important is missing from their more protected, more violent, more technological world. There is an expectation of “things”, there are less moms fixing dinner for the family as they talk about how their day went. The is a lack of innocence, a lack of closeness and dependence among each other in families that to me is simply sad. Everyone is in their room playing with their ipods, ipads, computer games or watching recorded programs from Cable TV. They are not together, not reading books to the little ones at bedtime, not growing up appreciating the bonds of family or the importance of relationships with real people.

I would like to see Earth Day become part of a new trend towards family, community, doing things because they are right or good, rather that to get extra credit in school or bragging rights at the office. I would love to spend a day, heck a lifetime with my children and grandchildren able to savor the simple things in life, like sitting on a hillside drawing pictures with a pencil and table. My daughter, now the mother of two, won a regional prize or a report with the topic, “We must learn to ‘baby’ “Mother Earth”.

Today, I feel a good topic would be, “We must learn that ‘family life’ exists beyond electronics”.

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Message from the Past

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Twenty years must have passed since Miriam had walked up that rail to the old Mill. It had been her “Thinking Place” as a teenager, a place where she could go and ponder over things that only the very young or very old have time to contemplate. It was an early April day after a brutally cold winter in the Southern Appalachians. Many of the mountain roads had been impassable for months, so the access road that wound around the mountain had been closed most of the winter.

The thought came to Miriam that it wasn’t really safe to ramble alone in this area, largely abandoned since the turn of the century. She had heard that black bears had been driven to the area by the influx of wealthy retirees from Florida and new England. But memories of the old grist mill, the rusting wheel, still upright within it’s stone walls, the heavy mill stone, encircled with metal, kept her moving.

She had not doubt that they would still be there, but wondered about their condition. How many people were still alive who even remembered the mill? How many of them would bother to go there? She sat on a lichen encrusted stone and closed her eyes to rest. Thoughts of her grandfather telling her about the mill filled her mind. Even in his days, it had been a relic. His grandfather had taken grain there not long after the Civil War. She heard her grandfather’s voice correct her.“War between the States.” he had said. “No use in talkin’ like them Yankees.”

She crossed rivulets of water that cascaded down the creases in the forest floor as they made their way to the larger stream where the mill had operated. Wagon tracks were still visible where animals had walked and horses had strode from the stable that now sat about a mile below the old mill. The early spring flowers huddled under oak trees and thrust their heads up to catch the brief rays of sun that shadowed the forest floor before the leaves began to shade it again.

At last, she heard the rushing of the stream as it spilled over stones lining the river by the old mill. She picked up her step as she came close to the mill wheel. The moss-covered rocks that surrounded the old wheel had always fascinated her, and the vibrant sounds of rushing water made her heart fill with memories of her grandfather’s tales and her prized “Thinkin Place.”

Carefully, she dodged the briars that had gown up around the area where the mill house once stood. She tried to imagine the men lined up along the road, smoking homegrown tobacco in hand carved pipes. She could hear their horses whinny and stomp as they waited impatiently in front of the wagons of corn and grain. Miriam turned as she heard a rustle up the pat, but it was only a squirrel shuffling winter’s collection of leaves. She placed her hands gently on the remains of the wall around the mill wheel and turned, with her legs facing the ancient wheel.

She noticed that on of the square stones across from her seemed to have worked its self out a bit from the others. Curious, she cautiously worked her way down the slope, holding the wheel for support as she walked. She held onto saplings and pulled herself up to the other side. The moss-covered rocks were cool and damp as she placed her hands against them for support.

Miriam looked around for something to loosen the protruding rock with and found a rusted piece of metal, crooked at one end and a small hole drilled in the other. Just for a second, she found her mind wondering what it had been, but the protruding stone regained her attention. She knelt and worked the metal scrap back into the moss that filled the cracks. With a jolt, the stone moved out a bit more and Miriam excitedly worked the metal scrap in a little further.

With a little work, the rock slid out into her hand. It was heavier than she had imagined, but she carefully laid it down beside her feet. Holding to the top of the wall, she bent down and peered inside the opening where the rock had been. Amidst an indention lined with rotting wood, she saw the shape of what looked like a metal box. She gently worked the rotted wood away from the space it had protected all of these years and lifted out a rusted box, complete with a padlock of equally poor condition.

Carefully, she sat the box on the top of the rock wall. Struggled up the mossy side and held her tiny treasure. “What was in the box,: she thought as she rushed through the empty blackberry vines as they grabbed at her sweater. As she reached the top of the trail, she saw him, breathless, wordless staring at her. Hiding the box beneath her sweater, she whispered a breathless “Hi.” Not knowing what to do, she awaited an answer. None came.

He held out his hand to her and smiled, “Let me help you.” Heart pounding, she held out her free hand and he pulled her to the trail way. “Haven’t seen a brown and white hound dog, have you?” He said. With relief, she shook her head. “Sorry, I sure haven’t.” “Went huntin last night and my best dog didn’t come back to the road this mornin.” he said. “Didn’t mean to scare you.”

“That’s ok.” she sighed as she regained her composure. “I’m Aaron,.” the young man said. Live down on the horse farm in the cove. Still guarding her treasure box, she looked at him and smiled. “Miriam” she told him. “Just thinking about my younger days, visiting places my grandpa told me about.” “Come by the farm sometime.” He shouted, as he walked on down the path, we’ll go on a horse ride together sometime.”
“I’ll do that, she said, waving as she went back up the mountain. For a moment, her fear had made her forget the treasure box. She made her way on up the hill, anxious to get back to her truck.

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Requiem for a Sycamore and Poplar Tree

Fifteen years ago, my dad had to cut down a Sycamore, giant and majestic, that he had planted when he built the house in the 1950’s. He left a very high stump, which soon sprouted and the new branches, themselves became a problem. They got in the way of power lines, blocked the view of ‘ and the mountains. Everyone fussed at dad, but he continued to just “trim” back the limbs.

Now my son has built a house next to my father and has become concerned that a tall poplar that dad also planted nearly 60 years ago could fall onto the house or damage property if we don’t cut it down. Not only is dad’s heart broken, I find myself grieving it too. I now understand dad’s feelings. It isn’t just a tree, even a majestic tree, it is a collection of memories, a diary of sorts. They are two trees, one ruined, one soon to be that deserved to be giants in some preserved forest. I see both myself and my children gathering sycamore balls, poplar blossoms, the trees were part of what “home” meant”

I have no answer, I have thought of ways to donate the wood and such but have found no affordable options. When I see a tall tree, still safe in the forest, I smile. And, as with the Sycamore tree, I can’t help but hope that sprouts will appear from that immense root system and at least be a reminder of what was and what should be.

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Dogwood Winter

It happens every March here in the mountains. Right after a cold spell, the sun will come out. It will warm the earth, causing flowers to bud and bloom. Those of us who love to garden will rush to the hardware store. We buy top soil and seeds. We dig up dead grasses, sprouting weeds.

Spring is here at last! A few glorious days of warmth. Fragile lilacs burst forth. We want so badly to forget what the unseasonal weather meant. It is not spring, not really, not yet. Grandpa called it Dogwood winter. I just sigh and call it disappointment.

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Bloodroot

She walked along the well traveled path, only mosses and a shy fern dared to decorate the ground. Underneath the aging oaks, she sat on a stone, wiping a cold tear from her cheek.

“Winter,” she thought. “I hate it,”. She found a lidless acorn and threw it down the bank. She watched as the acorn landed and rolled until it hit a log.

A blur of white peeked out from the edge of the bark. Struggling against the cold, she slid down the bank to see what it was.

“Bloodroot.” she smiled, spring would be here soon. She walked back down the path with a little more vigor. Her hands warmed by a ray of sun as she emerged from the woods.

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Stay

I struggle to live and breathe when I see,

The love that you have for the broken, sad me.

In spite of my pain, you touch me and say,

I love you, my mom,I’m here,It’s OK.

if only you had what you really need.

Your brother alive and the mom I should be.

Hold my hand, my sweet baby, so I won’t slip away.

There’s part of him in you,and both want me to stay.

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Four Delicious Cookie and Icing Recipes!

Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies

¾ cup Jif Creamy Peanut butter
½ cup butter flavor Crisco
1 ¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 egg
1 ¾ cups plain flour
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking soda

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine peanut butter, Crisco, brown sugar,  milk & vanilla. Blend well with beaters. Add egg. Beat until blended, combine flour salt and baking soda, cream together at low speed. Drop by heaping teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten tops of cookies with a fork dipped in flour to make a fork pattern,  Cook at 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes, let cool about 3-5 minutes and remove from sheet with spatula.

This recipe can be doubled.  If you double, you can use 3 eggs. A recipe makes about 2 ½ to 3 pans of cookies.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies the recipe I printed before said
Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies)

¾ cup Butter Flavor Crisco
1 ¼ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 ½ tsp vanilla.
3 cups Quaker Quick Oats
1 cup all purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts if desired

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease baking sheet-or spray with Pam. Combine Crisco, brown sugar, egg, milk & vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer. Combine Oats, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Stir in Rains ( and nuts if you use them)
\Drop rounded tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven when lightly brown and leave on pan to cool-they continue to cook as they cool.

Remove to paper towel on counter. Recipe can doubled. Makes about 2 dozen
cookies.

My Aunt Phyllis’s Chocolate Icing

1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cocoa  (you can use 1 tbsp of dark chocolate cocoa and one of regular or 2 tbsp of dark chocolate cocoa)
1/3 cup milk
¼ cup Crisco
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Mix ingredients and bring to boil in medium sized pan. Boil for one minute (I bowl it for several minutes). Beat with a fork as it cools. Ad vanilla. Add powdered sugar until the icing gains some thickness, You can pur it right onto a cake baked in a 13 x 9 pan and smooth in quickly to edges.  You may also add a little more powdered sugar and ice a cooled two layer cake, putting icing in between the layers.  This recipe can be doubled for thick icing or a large cake.  It can even be poured into a buttered pan and used as fudge! Delicious!

Mary’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees/
Mix in a bowl-
1 cup shortening
(Butter flavored is ok too)\
¾ cup white sugar
(brown sugar can be used as well)
1 tsp.vanilla
½ tsp water
2 eggs

When thoroughly mixed at low or medium speed with mixer, add almost a teaspoon of baking soda and almost a teaspoon of salt.

Slowly mix in two heaping cups of plain flour. Add 12-14 oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chips. Stir in and spoon by heaping tablespoon onto cookie sheet.
Cook at 375 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. Let cool a few minutes, remove from baking sheet with spatula to a paper towel. Makes 3 dozen big cookies.

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My Resolution

“So,” Mr.  Shelburn smirked, as he swayed by my desk, already overloaded with work that accumulated during the holiday. “What is your New Years Resolution?”

I forced myself to breathe in-slowly. I was seething inside.

“Sure,” he laughed, glancing down at the mass of papers that seemed to clutter my desk already.

“Hmm,” I sighed, looking up at his arrogant grin. “You want a resolution? “ I stacked the pile of papers, crumpled them into a  wad, then merrily tossed them into the trash can.

“My promise is to realize what is REALLY important in life, and do away with the rest.”

Suddenly, everyone smiled.

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Halloween Hearts

I planted a seed and from it grew,
A giant, beautiful golden fruit.
I couldn’t bear to cut in apart,
Rather, I gently began to carve,
A ghostly tree, a moon gliding past.
A gravestone  with memories of the past.
A wisp of a cloud above the tall tree-
A witch on her broom-perhaps it is me!
We gather and smile, admiring our art,
Filling our nightmares and Halloween hearts.

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