Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kitchen Timer

I received this smoke detector for Christmas. I was told it is a kitchen timer. I considered this to be a direct affront to my cooking skills. Now that I've had some time to think about it, maybe it's not unfounded after all. Ever since we married, Keith has serenaded me with "Something's Burning" whenever I putter around in the kitchen. In The First Edition's version, what was burning was love - in Keith's version, it is my cooking.

I was reminded of my culinary insufficiencies this past holiday. I have long since stopped trying to make breads and cakes from scratch, so the boxed Cinnamon Bread mix should have been easy enough to prepare. My temperamental oven turned into a blast furnace and, long before time to take out the bread, the aroma of burning crust filled the air. I managed to salvage most of it and Amanda concealed the top with glaze.

Then there were the Sausage Wads (what others call Sausage Balls). No matter how much time and effort I put into shaping them into perfect spheres, they always come out distorted. Let's not forget the Peanut Butter Fudge either. I had to answer the door during the crucial "stir until thickened" stage so the candy set up in the pan. I was barely able to scrape it into the dish. The top of it resembled corrugated cardboard.

So perhaps I should accept this gift in the spirit in which it was intended, but I will never forgive him for getting my dad a bicycle bell for his walker.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Wonderland

I have to show you this shot of our driveway that I took yesterday. It sure doesn't look like this now. Keith went to work this morning then Amanda and I went shopping. When we got back, my car got stuck in the driveway. I'm not one to admit defeat so I tried every trick I could remember. I rocked it, went from reverse to drive and vice versa, backed up for a running go - it still stuck at the same place every time. After several attempts, sliding, spinning, and getting sideways, I managed to back up all the way to the road. I looked at Amanda. She was texting her boyfriend, perhaps to tell him Goodbye. I put the car in low gear and gave it gas. It spun all the way up the driveway but it kept its forward motion. The new load of gravel that we had put down last week is now scattered all over the top of the snow, but my car is at the house. I won.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge

As we were traveling on US-17 north toward the eastern side of Charleston, I realized we were getting too close to this bridge. I told Jim we weren't supposed to cross the bridge before we exited. There was no exit. We had no choice but to go on over to Mt. Pleasant. We turned around at a service station. We crossed the bridge again and found a southbound exit to Morrison Drive which took us downtown. We toured the beautiful historic homes and had lunch at a local restaurant. On our way out of Charleston, we headed northward on US-17, crossing the bridge again to Mt. Pleasant. We visited Fort Moultrie and the Charles Pinckney plantation site. We were ready to get back on US-17 toward Myrtle Beach. Jim missed the northbound entrance to the highway so, once again, we crossed the bridge. We exited in Charleston and had to drive around for a bit before we found an access to US-17 north. Crossing the bridge for a fifth time, we were finally on our way to our supper destination.

Linda said when anyone asks her if she has seen this bridge, she's going to tell them she has crossed it several times and if they say, "Oh, have you been to Charleston a lot?" she is going to answer, "Nope. Once."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Keep Praying Gate City

This sign is displayed in response to an event that occurred last month at a football game at Gate City High School. Before the game began on September 11, a prayer was delivered by a student member of the school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes during a ceremony that included a moment of silence for a Sullivan South (opposing team) football player who died earlier in the season and a remembrance of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This prayer resulted in Gate City High School receiving a letter from the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. In the letter, the ACLU informed the school that it believed the prayer was unconstitutional and asked for the practice to cease immediately. According to Rebecca Glenberg, Legal Director for the ACLU of Virginia, the ACLU and the person who filed the complaint did not object in any way to the memorial services, just the prayer. Glenberg wrote in her letter, "After a moment of silence to honor a deceased football player (to which we have no objection), the student delivered a prayer which concluded in, 'In Jesus' name, Amen'."

"We were just trying to reach out and honor (Sullivan South)," school principal Greg Ervin said. "This was a special case - we wanted to honor our neighboring community and the memory of 9/11, and I was proud of my students for doing so."

The students reacted to the letter by producing more than 1,000 T-shirts, which they planned to wear to a later game. The front of the T-shirts shows the school's initials, a cross, and the words, "I still pray..." On the back is, "In Jesus' name." The ACLU of Virginia's Executive Director Kent Willis asked the principal at Gate City High School to honor the free speech rights of students to protest the ACLU at the school's football game. He said, "This means that Gate City High School officials may not permit sectarian prayers over the public address sytem at football games, but that they must allow students to protest the ACLU's effort to stop those prayers." Willis further stated that free speech demands that the government allow individuals to express their views.

Excuse me - I thought the student was exercising her right to free speech on September 11.

Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion. The United States Constitution, Amendment 1 states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Pat Robertson explains it thusly: "In the days of the Constitution, an established religion meant just what my forefathers fought about in Virginia. An established religion was a religion where the state paid the clergy and where there were civil liabilities to those who did not belong to that religion; where such things as marriages could only be performed with a blessing of a particular church; where, unless a person was a member thereof, he or she was denied the right to hold public office, etc. That's an established religion." He continues, "But in no way would that have been considered by the framers of our Constitution to prohibit a child from saying grace in the first grade or kindergarten over milk and cookies."

When a Wall Street Journal / NBC News poll conducted October 22-25 asked Americans if they believed the United States was on the right track, wrong track, in mixed conditions or undecided, 52% responded that the country is headed down the wrong road. Really? Well, if you're waiting for somebody to do something about it, remember YOU ARE SOMEBODY.

Snap out of it, America!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Brown Mountain

Daddy has long talked of a song he used to hear about the Brown Mountain Lights. We chose the weekend in early October to try out his new knee on a road trip and also see if we could find Brown Mountain. Jim, Daddy, and I traveled to North Carolina and found an overlook near Linville Falls called Wiseman's View. Jim pushed Daddy's transport chair down the paved trail toward the overlook. We were disappointed when we reached the end of the trail because the viewpoint was not handicapped accessible. The scenery was spectacular and Brown Mountain could be seen in the distance, however Daddy wasn't able to see it from there. Jim pushed Daddy back up the trail and we loaded up in the car again. We got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed south toward Asheville, stopping at overlooks along the way including one where we could see Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River. After lunch in Asheville, we went on to Morganton and found a road called Brown Mountain Beach Road. We followed this road to a recreational area popular with ATV riders. It was too close to the mountain to actually be able to see it so again we continued on our journey. As we were climbing a mountain back toward Linville, we came upon an overlook near Jonas Ridge where we all could easily see Brown Mountain. The view (shown above) was spectacular. Daddy enjoyed the trip, he fared well, and he looked forward to hitting the road again.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Owe My Soul To the Company Store

Trammel, Virginia, was a coal mining town that was built by the Virginia Banner Coal Corporation in 1917. The last spike of the Carolina, Clinchfield, and Ohio Railway, which was completed in 1915, had been driven near here.

In the 1970s, coal resources started drying up and coal companies began laying off employees. The economic conditions hit coal mining towns hard. The company that owned Trammel eventually went out of business and became an estate. In 1985, the estate decided to sell the town, including 50 homes, the company store, post office, and water and cable systems. All were put on the auction block. Local residents, most of whom were unemployed and disabled, banded together with the help of churches and foundations to raise money and form a homeowners association. They purchased the auctioned homes and saved their town.

While their efforts gave them possession of their homes, conditions have not improved in Trammel. There are no businesses or industries and therefore no jobs. Unemployment is extremely high. Many of the residents are elderly and depend on black lung compensation or social security. The economic outlook for the residents of Trammel is grim.

Information from In Motion Magazine and Dickenson County by Victoria L. Osborne & Dr. Ralph Stanley.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mahala Mullins' House

Mahala Collins was born in 1824 and died in 1898 in Hancock Co., TN. She married John Mullins. Mahala was probably the most famous Melungeon in the Newman's Ridge area. Haley, as she was called, openly sold moonshine in her log house high on Newman's Ridge. Legend has it she weighed about 600 pounds, but most people agree her weight was actually around 400 pounds. Another legend tells that, since her house was built on the Tennessee-Virginia line, when the Tennessee authorities came looking for her she would go to the Virginia side of the house and when the Virginia authorities came she would go to the Tennessee side. In reality, her house was in Tennessee about two miles from the Virginia line. She undoubtedly was too large to be taken out of the house if the authorities tried to arrest her. One deputy reportedly told the sheriff, "She's cetchable, but not fetchable."

When Haley died, she was carried from the house through an opening left in the wall for a chimney. According to one source, she was buried in her bed which had the legs removed and boards added to the sides to form a coffin. Another source claims she was buried in a piano crate. She now rests in a small cemetery that had been started with the deaths of some of her infant children.

According to an affidavit signed by Haley's son, Reuben, Solomon D. Collins (Haley's father) was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. The affidavit states that "Solomon Collins is said to crossed into Tennessee and married Jincy Goins and settled there because he was afraid the chief would kill him if he returned to the tribe."

Mahala Mullins' house was moved to the Vardy community and is now open to the public. Newman's Ridge can be seen behind the house in the photo above. Haley's brother, Bailey Collins, was my g-g-grandfather.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Clinch River Bluff

In April 1777, a group of young Indian men devised a plan to lure the militiamen from Blackmore's Fort in southwest Virginia. They climbed Copper Ridge and the bluff (shown here) across Clinch River from the fort. They could see inside the fort from this vantage point. One of the men climbed a cedar tree while the others hid in smaller shrubs. At daybreak, the brave in the tree cupped his hands and gobbled like a male turkey. He repeated this call every five or ten minutes. When the militiamen heard this, they imagined how good that turkey would taste for breakfast.

As they were planning how to climb the bluff and retrieve their meal, an older, wiser man named Matthew Gray advised them to leave the turkey alone if they wanted to keep their scalps. He took some of the militiamen to the river and had them splash around to distract the Indian party. While this was going on, Gray took his long rifle and one that belonged to another man and sneaked down to the river. He forded the Clinch, climbed Copper Ridge and the bluff behind the Indian party where he waited until the next 'turkey' call from the young man in the tree. At that moment, his shot rang out and the Indian crashed to the ground with a lead ball in his head.

With the Indian party in pursuit, Gray ran for his life to the ford where he crossed the Clinch back toward the fort. The militiamen gave him cover as he dashed up the river bank and through the gate. The war party, unable to besiege the fort, turned toward Castle's Woods (modern-day Castlewood). Gray grabbed two rifles, jumped on a fast horse, and headed off toward the party. Firing a shot to confuse them, he sped past the war party and made it to Castle's Woods in time to warn the settlers who sought shelter at Moore's Fort.

Source: "Benge!" by Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jett Ford

On April 6, 1794, Chief Benge and six warriors raided the home of Sarah Livingston near Mendota, Virginia. They killed Sarah in her garden where she was working. They tomahawked three children, killing one of them. They set fire to the Livingston home, forcing those inside to come out. They took three women, two men, and three children hostage and retreated across the North Fork of the Holston River here at this location. They stopped for a while near the home of Abraham Fulkerson where they watched as settlers had gathered there for a house raising. When they continued on, they crossed Clinch Mountain at Hamilton Gap. At nightfall, they camped at Copper Creek.

Source: "Benge!" by Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Abraham Fulkerson House

From the application for National Register of Historic Places: "The two-story Fulkerson-Hilton House, built around 1800, is of mixed log construction consisting of oak, pine, and poplar hewn logs. The logs are joined using half-dovetail notching. The house rests on a limestone foundation on its original site. The south side of the house, which is the front, has a roofed veranda that was added in 1936. In 1949, a kitchen and dining room shed-roof extension was added to the north side of the house. At present, the exterior of the house is covered with yellow-poplar siding painted white. The west side of the house has a two-story sandstone chimney. Single-beaded tongue and groove vertical boards divide the interior of both floors of the log portion of this house. In addition, the two log rooms constituting the first floor are lined with similar tongue and groove boards. The two upstairs rooms are not lined. The lean-to added in 1949 is of frame construction with a sheetrock interior. Both rooms have pine floors and are structurally unaltered to this day."

The house was built by frontier settler Abraham Fulkerson for whom the Fulkerson District of Scott County, VA, is named. Fulkerson, who "fought in the American Revolution, purchased the designated land in 1782, and subsequently operated a mill there before becoming one of the first Scott County commissioners at the time of the creation of the county in 1814."

Frontier preacher Samuel Hilton "established two Baptist churches in the area and purchased the designated land and house in 1816. The Fulkersons and Hiltons intermarried, and the house remained in possession of their heirs . . . until 1871." Samuel's grandson, Enos Bird Hilton, built a house nearby that would serve as a post office, thus establishing the name of "Hilton's."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Scott's Station

This beautiful valley lies between Powell Mountain and Wallens Ridge in Lee County, Virginia. The Wilderness Road, which Daniel Boone helped widen for migration to the western lands of modern-day Kentucky, passed through this valley. The rich meadow, through which Wallens Creek flows, was settled by Archibald and Fannie (Dickenson) Scott in 1782. The Scotts planted ten acres in corn and, by the "corn right law," received a land grant for 100 acres for each acre of corn. They build a blockhouse, which became known as Scott's Station, on a hill beside a creek.

In the spring of 1785, a band of Cherokee and Shawnee warriors led by "Chief" Benge started from what is now northern Georgia and made their way to this area. They were outraged when they found what had once been a meadow where deer grazed was now occupied by the Scott family. Late that evening, the war party attacked the house, shooting and killing Archibald Scott. His four children were killed, three of them were tomahawked and had their throats slit as they lay in their beds; the fourth was tomahawked in her mother's arms as Fannie pleaded for the child's life. The Indians then tried to attack the home of the Ball family some distance away but were driven off. The party then returned to the Scott house, stole what property they could carry, burned the house, and kidnapped Fannie. They took her with them through Powell Valley by Big Stone Gap, forcing her to walk endlessly and slapping her with the scalps of her husband and children. Their destination was the Shawnee towns on the Miami River in Ohio.

About eleven days into their journey, Fannie managed to escape from her captors when she was left alone with the oldest man in the group. For days, she wandered in the wilderness, hiding in a hollow log when the party came looking for her. She became lost, she was starving, and she was weak from exhaustion. Still she trudged along, eating berries, cane, bark, and herbs, until she came to the Big Sandy River. She followed the river to a fork and had to decide which way to go; if she took the wrong fork, it would certainly be a fatal decision. She chose the left fork but, as she started up the trail, a bird lit on her shoulder and then flew into the valley of the right fork. A moment later, a second bird did the same thing. Fannie believed these birds were the spirits of her murdered children so she turned around and took the right fork. Two days later, on August 11, she reached the settlement at New Garden in present-day Russell County. Newspapers as far away as Philadelphia told of her ordeal.

Sources: "Benge!" by Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr. and Virginia historical marker K-5

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hurry Spring!

What is there to do on a rainy day in February? It's much too damp and dreary to ride around looking for subjects to shoot. It's still too early for flowers to be blooming in the yard. I did, however, find these snowdrops in the back yard. They're the earliest to bloom here and I'm afraid they might get covered with snow overnight. Freezing rain and snow flurries are in the forecast. I'll be so glad when Spring finally arrives.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Seed Sower

Millions of alfalfa, fescue, and lespedeza seeds have flowed through this device. It was made by the Cyclone Seeder Co., Inc. of Urbana, Indiana. My dad has been using it for over 50 years. Before that, it belonged to my Papaw Hargraves. It has been patched, undoubtedly by my mother, and repaired in several places. My dad would walk through the fields with the strap around his neck, turning the crank which broadcasts the seeds. Walking is something that doesn't come easily for him nowadays so he drives his truck through the field while spreading the seeds out the open door. However, not all the seeds end up on the ground. We had to take his truck to the carwash today to vacuum it. We bought another bag of seeds, too.

I posted the above paragraph yesterday, February 14. I got a call this morning that Daddy had fallen and broken his hip. He is currently in the hospital and will undergo surgery on Tuesday. Please keep him in your prayers.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I Took a Spill

Keith and I went out yesterday to take pictures since the weather was sunny and warm. We headed over to Miller Yard, an old railroad yard near Dungannon. We had to walk up the trail since there was a gate across the gravel road. We ducked under the gate and headed up to the tracks. Between the trail and the tracks was a berm of fine coal and gravel. I climbed the slope, reached the top, and put my foot on the apex. The fine, moist coal gave way and the gravel slid under my foot. Usually when I slip, I can stumble around and regain my balance. This time, however, my foot was going downhill and I had to way to stay erect. I fell "face fomest" (as the older generation would say) to the ground. It wasn't in slow motion either; it was a split second crash. First my knees, then my hands, and then my face landed in the side of the gravel railroad bed.

The pain was indescribable. I felt like I was going to pass out, but I never lost consciousness. By the time I raised my face off the ground, Keith was beside me. He helped me roll over to my back. My first thought was that I had knocked out my teeth. I ran my tongue across my teeth and found that none were missing or chipped. My next thought was that my camera had broken. I couldn't open my eyes because the sun was shining right in my face. I felt Keith dab my upper lip with something. I mumbled, "Is it bad?" "Not too bad," was his reply. I wasn't sure what this meant. He kept telling me to lie still. There was no problem there. I couldn't move my hands or legs.

I remained on the ground for a few minutes then Keith asked me if I could sit up. He helped me raise my head and torso to a semi-sitting position. He gave me the handkerchief he had been using to wipe my lip and told me he was going to take my camera to the car and be right back. I turned my head to see the camera on the ground, still intact. While he was gone to the car, I looked at the handkerchief and saw several spots of blood but I couldn't tell if it was my nose or lip that was bleeding. I looked at my hands and my left one was cut in two places. It was the hand that had my camera cupped in it so, when I fell, the back of my hand hit the gravel. I felt of my sunglasses, that had somehow managed to stay on my face, to see if they were broken or imbedded in my face but they were neither. I started feeling weak again so I laid my head back onto the ground. I tried to find a comfortable spot on the gravel but that wasn't possible. I had excruciating pain in my face.

When Keith came back, he helped me to my feet and lead me carefully down the embankment. I saw my footprint in the coal and the long slick spot made by my shoe as it had slid downward. I could feel Keith was shaking and I knew it had scared him. He later told me that, when I didn't move after falling, he thought I had broken my neck. He said there was nothing graceful about the scene and that I "fell ugly."

We made it back to the car but my shoes and the seat of my pants were covered with mud and coal. I keep a blanket in the car during winter so he threw it across the seat before I got in. Once settled, I looked in the mirror and saw the cut underneath my nose. The inside of my nose was swollen but the pain in my face was subsiding and a sort of numbness was setting in. Keith told me to keep my wits about me for a few more minutes so I could tell him how to get out of there because I had driven in and he wasn't sure which turns to take. I assured him I was alert and got him back on the main road.

My knees are skinned but didn't bleed. I have cuts and bruises on my elbow and wrist. My right upper arm is sore - I can't figure that one out. My nose is so sore that just touching it causes pain. I am really surprised it isn't broken. I slept restlessly last night. Keith had to work today and he made me promise not to get out to take pictures so I've been walking around in the yard until he gets home.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mildred's Dishes

There were only a few unbroken pieces left when my mother-in-law passed away - three plates, a little bowl, a platter, and a couple of cups and saucers. I knew the story of how she purchased them, piece by piece, at the A&P back in the late 1950s. Now that she was gone, each dish became even more treasured.

While browsing through an antique store one day, the familiar pattern caught my eye. I wondered how many other housewives on a budget had purchased the same set of dishes years ago. I decided to do some research. I discovered the pattern had a name - Currier & Ives - and had been manufactured by the Royal China Company. The number of pieces that had been available seemed endless. In addition to the teacups, there were coffee mugs and cocoa cups. I learned the little bowl was called a berry bowl. I also found cereal bowls, soup bowls, vegetable bowls, sugar bowls, creamers, gravy boats - it was almost overwhelming. The prices were as varied as the dishes. The more common pieces were reasonable but items like the teapot and covered casserole were expensive.

The more I saw of the beautiful pattern - each depicting a different scene from a Currier & Ives painting - the more I felt compelled to try to finish the set she had started nearly fifty years earlier. I began buying a few pieces at a time. I purchased some at local antique stores. I won the more rare pieces on eBay auctions. Finally, after several years, I put my acquisitions, along with her original pieces, on display in her antique china cabinet. Even though I don't have every piece available, I think she would be proud of this collection.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I've Got Cabin Fever!

Along about this time of year, I start getting the urge to travel. Actually I have the urge to travel all the time, but during winter I get stir crazy. I'm counting down the days until I can hit the road. I've got one big trip planned for early summer (more details about that later) and then the rest will probably be long weekenders. Until then, I'll have to just put up with the cold, occasional snow, and being stuck at home. :-(