Friday, July 8, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
My daughter's dog, Arjun, rests beside Byron, although they didn't get along terribly well. Arjun was rescued from a hellhole of 40 dogs kept for years in wooden crates and cages. The man responsible for this prison was a hoarder, as the vet. described him. We've had similar instances of this sort of hoarding in our mountains. Arjun was one of only 3 dogs who could be saved, the others being so misused and anti-social that they couldn't be adopted. A luminous spirit, he lived among us for nine years.
Pooja, above, looked like a little furry bear when I adopted her at 8 weeks. She has grown into an interesting looking dog. We like to think she has coyote in her. Her coat looks undomesticated! She often acts undomesticated, too!
Too many dogs and cats are left to wander our roads, unspayed & un-neutered. They are abused and abandoned. We must begin to take better care of our animals, and joining our local Humane Societies is the responsible action to take, along with adopting homeless animals. We wouldn't have any other breed of dog than ARF.
Now that Byron has left us, we may get another one. But don't tell my husband!
Monday, July 4, 2011
I was awakened around midnight by early fireworks from the house below. They sounded like bombs, which set me thinking about patriotism in its worst forms, its attitudes, actions, and even its bumper stickers. But more about that later.
I love the principles upon which this country was founded, even though I know that large groups of people were left out of the frounders' vision--Native Americans and African slaves chief among them. We have widened the hoop of our democratic vision to include them, though the racism that tainted our past still haunts us. And Native Americans still remain by and large invisible in our culture.
I love the vast landscape of this magnificent country. Seeing some of it from the air has intensified that awe, that love of place that we all should cherish. Below, I watched Mount Hood and Mount Adams rise up out of the clouds as I flew toward Portland, Oregon two years ago.
This beautiful mosque on our walk back to our hotel always impressed me with its elegance.
I love the cultural diversity of our country. Even crowded Chinatown!
Sunday, July 3, 2011
My grandmother raised chickens and turkeys. The former deposited their pyramids of leavings under her house, which rested on brick pedestals. It was an old farm house, surrounded on one side by cornfields, on the other a dirt road and sandy yards. Now that I remember those aromatic pyramids, I'm amazed at their construction! And frightened, too. I used to have nightmares about being trapped under the house!
Her sandy yard was home to grasshoppers and bees who couldn't resist her lantana, petunias, and other assorted flowers. She would go out to the chicken yard, grab a chicken, and well---wring its neck. She was good at it. Then she plucked and singed it, brought it inside to her kitchen counter, and turned it into a fryer, its assorted parts ready to be dipped into seasoned (highly salted and peppered1) flour and fried.
Yesterday I found a bargain at Ingles! Organic hens reduced by nearly 75% so that they could be sold by the 4th of July. I couldn't resist, so I bought two. This morning I got to work quartering, sawing through joints, doing the old-fashioned work that women no longer do, buying their chickens already boned, skinned, turned into portions ready to fry, grill, and bake.
What my grandmother did every single day, I did this morning, as if learning a new skill. A revelation, really, when I think of the time it took. Preparing a chicken would have taken time my grandmother could have spent on facebook or twitter. Or checking email if she lived today! Left over bones and giblets I boiled to make stock.
My poor grandmother. Standing in her kitchen cutting and dredging chicken parts when she could have been surfing the internet!
She made jelly and jam this time of year too, sweating into her pot of plum or mayhaw or blackberry juice. I'm not going to sweat over the plums I bought yesterday. I'm making freezer jam. No stirring and stirring until the syrup spins a thread. We like freezer jam, and as long as we have electricity, I'll keep making it, but what would happen if we no longer had the electrical grid to depend upon? Would I know how to can? I would know, I think, how to put away preserves and jellies, but as much as I love them, how could one survive on jam alone?
I marvel at how much my grandmother knew how to do, how much I once knew how to do but now no longer have the energy or the facility with which to do it. I sit here typing text into a blog whose workings of which I have not the slightest understanding. So much of my world seems beyond me, a technological mystery. My grandmother's world remains that richest of mysteries, one to which I can return in memory, marveling at how the the window light transformed the ancient linoleum, how the door still opens onto ways we can survive and beyond that, live within our means in a landscape in which we are no longer strangers.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Way Back in Weyahutta
Every yard blooms a fine Rose
of Sharon, mere shadow
of Delphia’s embroidery floss
stitching her way around
all the rough edges.
So began a poem years ago celebrating the "pretties" blooming in the yards of mountain women who lived in the section called Weyahutta, or "Worryhut", just off the Tuckasegee River. The woman mentioned in it, Delphia Potts, has become in my imagination a guiding spirit, one of those "prophetesses" that Emma Bell Miles writes about in her classic book, The Spirit of the Mountains. Her daughters Annie Lee and Willa Mae became two of my dearest friends, and they too are among my guiding spirits. Annie Lee's daughter Norma Bryson sat in my first freshman composition class at Western Carolina University. I will be writing more about this lineage later. All three women were excellent seamstresses; their needles did indeed stitch their way around many rough edges. This website will honor them and their indomitable "spirit of the mountains." Here is an excerpt from my poem "Mountain Time," in which Delphia sets us straight about the work we are called to do, no matter how difficult the circumstances, how crazy the world around us becomes.
From "Mountain Time"
All roads seem to lead
to Millennium, dark roads with drop-offs
we can't plumb. It's time to be brought up short
now with the tale-tellers' Listen: There once lived
a woman named Delphia
who walked through these hills teaching children
to read. She was known as a quilter
whose hand never wearied, a mother
who raised up two daughters to pass on
her words like a strong chain of stitches.
Imagine her sitting among us,
her quick thimble moving along these lines
as if to hear every word striking true
as the stab of her needle through calico.
While prophets discourse about endings,
don't you think she'd tell us the world as we know it
keeps calling us back to beginnings?
This labor to make our words matter
is what any good quilter teaches.
A stitch in time, let's say.
A blind stitch
that clings to the edges
of what's left, the ripped
scraps and remnants, whatever
won't stop taking shape even though the whole
crazy quilt's falling to pieces.
from BLACK SHAWL, LSU Press, 1998