Memory From Good Old Days

Once, when I was a young girl at the age of nine, I dreamed I wrote a book. When I saw the title on the cover with my name beneath it, I was amazed! For days afterwards I would try to remember the title, but couldn’t. Although the dream had planted the idea in my mind I told nobody about it. I believed it was foolish to even think I could do such a thing. Others would shame me if they knew of my conceit, that I even dared to dream I had written a book! Who was I to think I could write something others would want to read?

Forward thirteen years to age twenty-two. I had recently married and was also expecting my first child. I confided in my new husband, telling him I’d always wanted to write (the first time I’d ever dared to tell anyone!). “Then why aren’t you writing?” he said, as if what I’d said was not outrageously ridiculous! Duh! Don’t ask me why I didn’t know that if I wanted to write I should be writing! Perhaps it was the result of an inferiority complex. But after that I began taking pen to paper. When I later read what I’d written I blushed with embarrassment. The writing was full of cliches. As much as I had read, and I’d always been an avid reader, I knew too many cliches meant poor writing.

Forward to age thirty-three, the mother of four young children, all in school. I dared to enroll in a writer’s workshop. We had this wonderful teacher who had us put our writing on a large blackboard and the class would critique what we’d written. Thankfully, sharing our writing with the class was not required. Perhaps Mr. Young (bless his heart!) knew I was very insecure about my writing and did not draw attention to me or pressure me. I remember thinking one evening that my writing was just as good as some of the other writings on the board and I began posting mine.

That’s how my first written piece (besides all the ones I’d rejected and thrown away, of course) was written. Mr. Young told me it was publishable and to send the mss to Good Old Days magazine, a nostalgic publication. My piece was called “The Log Train,” a short story about my siblings and I watching for the log train to come out of the hollow where we lived in the Kentucky Mountains, how we played in the meadow beside the old tracks and called “Log Train’s Coming” when we heard the screeching of the iron wheels on the metal tracks. It was during a glorious yet short time in our young lives after our dad had died leaving a widow and eight children, the older children caring for and providing for the younger ones, my baby brother age six and me age eight.

March 1973 Issue

I cannot tell you how that short piece of writing, taking up only one page in the magazine, changed my life. No, I didn’t become a “writer”, so to speak, except for a few pieces here and there and finally a family book in 2006 called “Stories of a Kentucky Mountain Family As Told by Two Sisters and a Brother,” in which I also included many of my eldest brother and only sister’s writings.

Back to the day I received two copies of the March 1973 edition of the magazine: I hadn’t heard back about my submission until the day I received the copies. My little story was on page 11 (my birth path number in numerology). I looked at the printed page in wonder (I later received a check for $9.00). What it did for my self-esteem was unimaginable. As if it confirmed to me that I was still alive. And I still marvel at the change it made in my life, which is too much to go into here. But the latest thing that’s happened regarding the outcome of the story of The Log Train may be hard to believe. Although I saved the magazine for a while, during several moves and interruptions it disappeared. I had lost track and forgotten how important it had once been in my life.

Click image to read the story

This July (2019) 4th my daughter Teresa, her husband and two of my grandchildren went to Des Moines to celebrate the 4th with my son-in-law’s family. On the way home they stopped at a place called Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Altoona, Iowa, and were browsing. They came across some Good Old Days magazines and Teresa called me to find out what year my little story The Log Train was published in the magazine. I can’t believe it took me awhile to remember (I’m getting old so I had to dig deep!) but I finally timed it because I suddenly remembered that when I began studying Astrology I learned I’d had a progressed New Moon that began the very same month the story appeared in the magazine, which was March, 1973.

Teresa learned someone on eBay had the Good Old Days magazines for that year. She bought them for me. I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to hold the copy with my story in my hands. I hadn’t realized fully until now how such a “small” thing (in many ways) had changed my life for the better. It’s also amazing that Teresa, who was only nine years old that year remembered that pivotal time and that she sensed how important it was to me. I am blessed in so many ways.

Lost Yet Found: My Inner Journey – Part 3

“We are born at a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the years and of the season of which we are born.  Astrology does not lay claim to anything more.”    The Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung was one of the major forces responsible for bringing psychological(having to do with the mind and its processes) thought and its theories into the twentieth century.

My timid search for what lay behind the door in the back of my mind eventually led me to the study of Astrology: I’m now an advanced student, still learning.  Over the past few years professional astrologers have explored the meaning of newly discovered bodies called Dwarf Planets or  minor planets, along with specific asteroids and Trans-Neptunian (Kuiper Belt) Objects.  When I checked the ephemerides for their positions at the time of my birth I was amazed at how they tended to explain my natal chart.  Indeed “as above so below”.

Today Huya the Rainmaker, a TNO,  is transiting both my Lunar Return Midheaven and my natal Moon.  A New Moon arrived a few days ago, following my Lunar Return.

Although Huya was named for a Venezuelan rain god, different tribes of indigenous peoples throughout many countries have been adept at making rain.  The shamanic or spiritual way was once practiced worldwide. It used intention, prayers and ceremony to open the heart and mind of the seeker to contact unseen forces that exist in nature.  Most Native American tribes also included a rainmaker. In the shamanic tradition a person could become a rainmaker after a long apprenticeship.

I have a long way to go but I feel I too am working on an apprenticeship. Whatever gains I may make in this life, I hope to carry over into my next incarnation.

My American Indian heritage is very scant. As far as I know it began when a great grandfather took a young Cherokee bride way back in the pioneer days in the southern mountains of Appalachia.  Her name did not survive in our genealogy yet a legend was born.  Traces of her has appeared ever since through one descendant or another.  Not only in physical traits but also in spirit.

For instance I had a great grandmother who was a “Bee Charmer”.  My mother told me Great Grandma Polly Stamper could walk among the bee hives unprotected, talking gently to the bees and they gave her all the honey she wanted.  Whereas Great Grandpa could cover up from head to toe and still get stung. 

I’ve never felt an affinity with bees but I have always loved the rain.  The crashing thunder sending a thrill through my body, flashes of lightening across the sky bringing anticipation of things yet to come.    

I have hope for the future.

To be continued.

Gypsies on the Mountain

Mama and I sit on the front porch in the growing dark, watching a string of lights move along the side of the mountain.  I ask her what they are.  “It’s the Gypsies,” she says, “they always come back this time of year.”

“Where do they go off to?”

Mama tilts her head and pauses for a moment. “Someplace on the other side of the mountain, I reckon.”

A storybook picture fills my mind, of a tall covered wagon with pots and pans banging against its sides, drawn by large dark horses and led by dark-skin people in brightly colored clothes, barefoot children with tangled hair dancing along behind.

I see myself, one of those dark-skinned children, not the coming but the going, to that mysterious place on the other side of the mountain, in a Gypsy caravan with twinkling lights.  I wonder if I am really a Gypsy child.

“Why do they come back,” I say.

“Why, to steal our eggs.”

Did they leave me here?  I wonder.  Maybe they traded me for the eggs.

The house is small and dark; we go to bed early to make the lamp oil last longer.

Lying beside Mama in the growing dark I force my eyes to stay open to keep away the monsters that hover in the darkest corner of the room, waiting for me to go to sleep.  When they will invade my dreams and chase me through the terrifying night …..

 

Bless Her Heart

While walking Winston in the park today I realized I owe you an apology for my recent rants. Time was I never ranted but swallowed my ire and pretended the world was always a happy place. For this reluctance to express anger I blame my mom (God Bless Her Heart, as we say in the hills when speaking ill of someone – to show we really love the ornery person). My mom was, of course, a wonderful woman (God Bless Her Heart) but she was of the “turn the other cheek” variety.

Well, of course I could say the other cheek I was thinking of was lower down on the body and I forgot which one she meant. I tend to get things mixed up that way. You aren’t buying it? Mom wouldn’t either. She raised us to not “Act the Fool” (Bless Her Heart) and to Mom facetiousness was never funny.

But this isn’t about Mom. It’s about me apologizing for sending out negative vibes instead of positive uplifting ones, about me trying to make amends for my angry rants. The best way to do that, I think, is to give you a list of a few of the things that I’m truly grateful for:

1) That my eldest daughter just bought six baby chicks but can’t have a rooster, which is okay as she’s only going to have them lay eggs (in the garage until she can get a chicken shed built). They are already counting on 42 eggs a week after the chickens become hens. This is part of her answer to the coming food shortage she keeps hearing about. (Bless Her Heart)

2) That my youngest daughter has given up feeding her family grain, anything made from wheat, oats, soy, or even corn. That’s right. She now makes pizza crust from coconut meal, brownies from black beans, etc. They really do taste good, Bless Her Heart. I just hope Michelle doesn’t hear about it!

3) Which brings me to the last item for today. We still live in the good old USA where my grandson can buy a green wig with his birthday money, have me make him a strange-looking cape and go to an anime convention where everyone looks like they just stepped off an intergalactic vehicle traveling through unknown worlds to visit planet Earth, and nobody thinks it’s odd. My Mom would be appalled. Bless Their Hearts, she’d say. Ain’t it wonderful!

Bless Your Heart!

A Boil on the Presidency?

If you’ve ever suffered from boils you know how painful they are. They have to be lanced and drained in order to heal.

Although I don’t remember the following family story as I was only a toddler, an older brother told me about the days when we lived in poverty due to the early death of our father.

The trouble began with an outbreak of boils. To bring the boils to a head and give relief from the pain our mother applied hot compresses, probably from a solution of Epsom salts, and/or soda and boric acid powder in boiling water.

But more boils continued to break out. Finally, Mom sought the advice of a wise old hill woman who told her we were all suffering from an evil in the blood. She said to have the older boys gather burdock, a weed that was plentiful in the hills, and make a tea from it. Everyone in the family should drink the tea and it would soon remove the evil that was tainting our blood. At last we found relief.

I researched and found that burdock has been used since the Middle Ages as a blood purifier and treatment for boils. As well as a host of other ailments. Interestingly, the article’s advice was: “Do not gather burdock in the wild.”

Evidently because “The roots of burdock closely resembles those of belladonna or deadly nightshade”. Now was that a narrow escape or what? One mistake and the solution to our problem might’ve killed us. Not unlike, I think, some treatments for cancer today that kill the good cells as well as the bad.

What a mixed-up world we live in! Everything appears to come down to trial and error. Pure luck appears to determine the outcome.

I can’t help but wonder what evil force has infected the blood of our country. Rising like a boil to the surface with hate messages running amok.

I can’t help but wonder if there is a boil on the presidency.

Upon the Tinkling Creek

Cousin Charles SwearenginI just learned my cousin Charles Swearengin passed away this morning. He’s pictured to the right. The following poem is excerpted from our Kentucky book and was written and addressed to Charles by my brother many years ago. May they both rest in peace.

Upon The Tinkling Creek
Composed By Byrd Adams, Jr.

Let’s talk across the mountain, Charles
And down the hollow road,
Passing by the old graveyard
Remembering tales of old:
How Granddaddy built his house
Upon the tinkling creek,
Adding rooms as babies came
To fill a mansion, sweet
Aunts and Uncles now grown old,
And I along with them,
To fill this sacred country with
Our voices growing dim.
Pause to rest a moment here,
My rifle on my knee,
To take a rabbit on the ground,
Or gray squirrel in a tree.
I’m in no mood to fire a shot
Upon this sacred day,
Where rabbits hop, and stop, and hop,
And gray squirrels come to play.
I’d rather pause among my kin
To spend a day or week,
Here where Granddaddy built his house
Upon the tinkling creek.

Just Call Me Scrooge

Just call me Scrooge, but I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I love the love but hate the hate. Don’t preach to me about it being a celebration of Christ’s birthday. I know that. That’s the love part.

And I don’t hate the Santa Claus and gifts part either. It’s the memories that part brings up and the realization that many children will soon learn too early there is no Santa. That’s what I hate. And don’t preach to me about that part, either, about Santa being the spirit of giving, blah, blah, blah.

The memory of those children from the past blend with knowing that many children in the present will have no Christmas this year. They’ve joined the little ghosts that walk in the back of my mind. Like a Greek chorus. A mute one— because what can they say?

So now that I’ve made you indescribably sad let me add that phrase the elitists like to use: it’s the human condition. Distance yourself from it. What else can you do? Provide for your own and put some change in the Salvation Army’s bucket after you buy your Christmas turkey or ham.

But for God’s sake, don’t whine and carry on about it. If there’s anything I really, really hate it’s a whiner! Merry Christmas.