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Friday, April 6, 2012

Sniffles and Sneezles

The only drawback that I can think of when it comes to living here in the Appalachian mountains of Eastern Kentucky is that with the profusion of flora and fauna that arrive with every Springtime, we also have the coming of the dreaded...  ALLERGY SEASON!! (que the music from the movie, Psycho).  What was a nondescript "post nasal drip" on Monday has now become a full, dry, bronchitis/asthmatic cough by today on Friday.   And so I have taken a much needed day of rest and stayed home from work and am sitting here in my bunny slippers and pajamas.  I caught a glimpse of the illusive blue jay this morning.  He likes to visit my family room window sill but I seldom have my camera ready when he arrives.  But I still have hopes that I will capture him on digital so that I can share him with you here soon.  From my window where I sit typing this, I can see a brilliantly blue sky and beautiful sun, but my cough is so bad this morning that I am not venturing far from my steam room or cough meds.  Hopefully soon, I can be back out enjoying the beauty all around us here on the river and sharing it with y'all via this blog.  Until then, I'll leave you with a few pictures take at the lake near here just a week or so ago. Enjoy !     

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sweet Retreat

I often felt that if you sat on my deck long enough, the world would eventually pass by.  Well, maybe not the whole world, but at least some fairly interesting characters. You see robins and blue jays.  There are dusky red cardinals and the occasionaly blue jay.  If you're quiet you see the deer and the squirrel playing in the back yard and in late evening you might catch a glimpse of a fox as it heads over the river bank.  I suppose the reason that I am so enamored with my life here on the river is because it is so far removed from my nine to five world.  In the legal business, there is never a quiet moment.  All day long folks are bringing you their problems.  No one comes to a law office when they are happy.  The best you can hope for in my business is the occasional pre-nuptial agreement or an adoption.  Those, and a couple closing on their first home are about the only "good news" you ever hear.  The rest of the time it's people who are in trouble and need help.  Usually their lives, or the lives of those the love, are in a mess.  A big tangled mess that they bring and pay well to dump in your lap and have you unravel and try to make smooth again.  So from eight in the morning til whenever you get the chance to turn out the office light and go home, your every thought belongs to someone else's need.   And if you're not careful, you'll end up bringing it home with you.  Things like the sound of a mother's voice as she tells you that her husband has been placed on hospice and is there any way that their son, who is incarcerated, can come see his dad one more time?  And things like you having to tell them that no, that's not possible but we can most likely help get permission for the funeral when the time comes.   You carry the sound of that mother's voice as it breaks with you if you are not careful and that, coupled with so many others can weigh you down so heavily.

Is it any wonder then why I love my life here on the river.  Here on the river, it's quiet.  No jarring phones.  No one else's problems.  Just the chattering of the birds as you walk beneath the canopy of trees.  Here on the river there are no court dates that have to be changed, no schedules to live and die by, no one pecking at you for something....always something.   Here, time stands still.  The world and the river move at a much slower pace.  And here you have things you can count on.  Like the old pear tree out back.  Every year she blossums out right on time, and every year those juicy heavy pears ripen and wait for my husband's deft hand to serve them in a red wine reduction that will make you weak in the knees. 

So when the last phone call has been made and the office has been locked up for the night--when the file cabinets have been shut and it's time to go home and live to fight another day, I head to my respite. I head home--to my life here on the river.   As close to paradise as you can get on a daily basis.  Come sit a spell with me on my deck and let's watch the world go by.  Or at least all the "important" folks.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Life On The River...

So I've decided to rename my blog here, from Home and Hearth to "Life On The River".  I feel that name more aptly describes my home and my hearth.   We live in the beautiful Appalachian mountains of Eastern Kentucky directly overlooking the river here.   And for us right now, Life on the River is all about SPRINGTIME!  Spring is bursting in full force here.  It came early this year due to the extremely warm temperatures.   In March, temperatures hit in the low to mid 90s.  Yes, I said 90s.   It's been averaging about 83 degrees here the past couple of weeks.  So gone are the sweaters and the jackets and out have come the flip flop sandals and crop pants.   So come feel the thick, soft carpet of grass on your bare feet and the feel the cool canopy shade of towering trees over your head.  Look to your left and see the robin perched on a limb and the squirrel frozen for a moment on the grass before he scurries up a log.   Here the gentle whiny of the horses as they graze.   Look to your right as the late afternoon sun sparkles and dances on the water and flickers through the trees.  This is my world.  This is my home.  This is my.... Life on the River.    Welcome.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Deck the Halls!

I love Snowmen.  I don't collect anything much but dust...but if I did, I would collect Snowmen figurines.  I think I love them because they always make me smile.  You can't really look at a snowman (or snow woman) and not smile.  I have a few from over the years...not enough to make a true collection and not expensive ones by any means.  But still, every time I see them, I smile.  I also have a couple of what I call "Christmas boxes"...little, inexpensive trinket boxes that I set out for Christmas.  These, along with my wreath and now my new Santa figurine, make up the majority of my "decking the halls". 

We have a small place...and so the decorations are small scale too.  But as I said, I enjoy them despite their small number and stature.   This year, I hope to have my nephews here (ages 7 and 9) and make some new memories and decorations with them.  My college freshman son, Sam, and his now 15 year old cousin, Connor, and I used to do that when they were younger.  I look forward to continuing the tradition with the younger ones. 

My friend is getting ready for the "parade of homes" in our town.  She agreed to be part of this charity event at the request of a friend.  Her home is spectacular!  And I'm sure her halls (and they are truly halls!) are decked in the finest array.   But whether you go very small scale like me, or very grand like my friend, may you and yours be blessed this holiday season and may you remember the reason for the season.  Merry Christmas!  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Beginning Again...

My Start on a New Tradition of Christmas Decor
thanks to my friend, Kim.
Well, it's that time of year again.  Time to get up in the attic, or down in the basement, or in the garage and dig out the holiday decorations.  You know ...that love/hate thing you do every year.  Lights.  Tinsel.  Garland.  Tree that's never straight.  Bows and Bulbs and those homemade and collected decorations over the years that make up your family's particular "tradition".   Or for my Jewish friends, it will soon be time for your Menorah and decorations.  Whatever the case, this time of year makes us remember back to days gone by and holidays come and gone.  And most of us love "tradition".  But what if your traditions, or at least the symbols of those traditions had been lost?  Completely gone.  That's what happened to my son and I.  For more than two decades, our family had collected ornaments.  Tiny little symbols of people and places that we had loved along the way.  There was the personalized bell from my students when I taught job training classes in WV.  There were the little colored-bead angels that we bought from the two elderly ladies one holiday season in Ohio.  There were the decorations that Sam had made in elementary school..the pipe cleaner Rudolph and the Christmas Tree Ornament he had made with his cousin, Connor.  There were the "stained-glass ornaments" we had melted and made in the oven one Christmas. And there was the ornament that my penpal in Greece had sent to me one snowy season.  So many years gone by and so many symbols of that time.  Every year, Sam and I would break out the boxes and remember when as we put the Oreo ornament on the tree.  Or the fishing man that represented his dad. 

One divorce and one natural disaster with our house later and all our traditions were gone.  Not one survived.  Gone was pipe cleaner Rudolph.  Lost forever was the little bell that had made me smile.  Not even our nativity scene or our beautiful Martha Stewart tree had survived the damage.  I mourned that loss deeply.  Not because of the "things" but because of what they had meant.  It was just one more way in which my life had changed forever.

Last year, Sam and I once again went to the out building to fetch what we had for Christmas decorations.  My new mother-in-law had been kind enough to gift us with some left overs from years gone by from her daughter's collection.  I didn't have the heart to begin again that first year anyway.   So we used the things my mother-in-law gave to us and it wasn't decorating as we remembered it, but we were so grateful to have some Christmas back in the house and looking back from a year's perspective I realize that it is the time spent together and not the "things" that make the tradition and keep it alive.

And so it is with a determined heart that I begin again to collect decorations and make new traditions.  And so I was delighted when a friend gifted me with some of her collection so that I could add to what my mother-in-law gave to me as we make a new start.  And although I miss Rudolph and the little hands who made him, I'm delighted with my new Santa and reindeer and proud of my son who is now a young college man, and who delivered Mr. Claus to me and helped me set him up.   Love, family, and friendship...and time spent together. Those are the TRUE traditions that last.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Days Gone By...

Daddy and Mom in 1949
 My 86 year old mother sits beside me and talks of days gone by.  Her short-term memory is shaky at best but her longterm memory is sharp and clear on certain things.  Things such as her wedding day.  She and Daddy did not have a church wedding back on that third day of December in 1949.  Instead they went to the Justice of the Peace, Noah Hobbs, who was officiating in the Pike County Courthouse in Pikeville, Kentucky.  Mom was 23 years old and Daddy was about 28 years old at the time.  The two of them "dated" approximately three months before getting married.  Dates in Williamson West Virginia consisting of a "picture show" and the blue-plate special down at the diner afterwards.

But when Daddy became serious about Mom he decided that they had to save money because he was building them a house.  The house didn't take long to build as it was only a four room cottage but it was theirs outright with not a penny owed to anyone for the materials or the land.  It was to this little house that Daddy brought Mommy that cool December evening after their wedding.   Mom fondly recalls their no nonsense approach to things... that they stopped at the store on the way home from Pikeville and bought a can of Happy Family Baking Soda and some Eight O'Clock Coffee in a familiar red tin.   They brought some bacon and some flour and milk so that Mom could make Daddy a breakfast the next day - which she did.  And she continued making him breakfast practically every day for the next 49 years until he passed away in 1995 at the age of 75. 

Waterfall Furniture of the 1930s and 40's
Mom pauses for a moment and has a soft look in her eyes as she remembers.  "Your daddy had already bought and furnished the house", she says.   There was the mohair sofa and chairs and the little dinette set with the folding leaf in the table and of course the bedroom suite. And I know exactly what she speaking of.  Even though I could not remember "the little house" about which Mom was speaking and even though I grew up in the "new house" they built after they moved to Lawrence, County Kentucky, Mom brought those first treasures along with her when they moved.  The little dinnette table still sits in her kitchen these 60 years later.  The 1930's era "waterfall bed" was their bed for years until it was passed down to me.  And growing up, how many times had I sat at that waterfall vanity and brushed my hair?  The vanity that is still in Mom's bedroom today.   How many times had I looked at Mom's lovely vintage dresses and suits that hung in the matching armoire which my southern mother called a "chiffarobe"?

Even the Baking Soda Can and the Eight O'Clock Coffee tin had made their way to our new house and had become fixtures in our lives for as long as I can remember.  The Happy Family Baking Soda Tin was my mother's button holder for as long as I could remember.  How many times have I seen her reach for it in its place on the chest of drawers and remove the lid and spread out a mish mash of buttons all over the bed for us to pick out the one that would best match the outfit she was making for me.   Every time I see that can I think of Mom and her sewing my clothes over the years.  Everytime she reached for the can she thought of Daddy and that young girl she once was on that very first day they married.

That Happy Family Baking Can sits proudly in my own home now.  It's button holding days are over and it's original contents long forgotten but it is a constant reminder of what hearth and home is truly about... family, love, time, and ties that bind.   A tiny treasure and tangible reminder of a legacy of  love that my parents left to me.   It is one of my favorite pieces in my house and each time I look up and see it, I smile.  And so does my mother.     

Friday, November 18, 2011

Little Treasures

One thing I love is collecting little treasures for our home.  Please understand that this was not always easy.  For many years there was simply no budget for such.  So if I was fortunate enough to find a nice piece at an estate sale, I counted it a blessing indeed.  Sometimes, it fit my tastes and likes and budget so well that it almost felt as if providence had left it there just for me to find. I counted each one of these things as "little treasures".  My sculpture here is one of those little treasures.

"The Ring" is a fairly well-known piece by Russian-born Sculptor, David Fisher.  Fisher studied at a Greek Art College in Odessa.  He is known for his works in marble, granite and wood.  He has 15 pieces in museums throughout the USSR.   His latest works include a tribute to the Holocaust Victims, with one sculpture in the Hollywood Musuem and one in Boca Ratan.  Born David Fedorovic Fisher, the artist turned 83 in 2011.  He's lived in the United States since sometime in 1970 and one of his latest works was a bust of President Obama.    Fisher designed my sculpture, "The Ring", over 30 years ago, in 1980. Because it depicts the lasting bond of love and committment between a man and a woman, it instantly caught my eye.  Although many of Fisher's work are huge pieces, he is also known for pieces, such as this, that promote love, and women. 

Fisher once said, "Of course I have in mind woman as the embodiment of all that is beautiful."   

To learn more about the artist and his work, you can visit his website at