Sunday, February 7, 2016

Let this be the year

Let this be the year that we more 
than survive
we thrive
Let this be the month that we look forward from

to when
Let this be the day we throw off our

worn long days since
Let this be the hour we 

stand up
step out
stride forth
Let this be the moment we 

grasp for it too shall soon be just 
a then, 

a remember when, 
a what might have been and 
we cannot have that slice of now again

~ ellen apple 02/07/2016

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

the umami of us

the sensuous touch of 
skin to skin
soul to soul
your breath mine
my ecstasy yours
touch finer than spun-silk
smoother than satin
softer than velvet
taste more intoxicating than wine
sweeter than honey
take flight with me 
plunge the depths
lie sated and replete
in the umami of us

~ Ellen Apple 12-02-2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

October - Eight More Days

The end at the beginning ...

This is my recipe box:

This is Roger at six (Ellen at six is at the bottom of this post)

A picture of a sculpture by Roger, along with a poem we wrote about it.

October 8 

I have a problem - a pecan pie problem. I could basically eat a whole one by myself. DO not care that much for pumpkin, sweet potato is OK. But my favorite is pecan, with apple and buttermilk close seconds. So this time of year is such an onslaught to whatever part of the brain is triggered by all of these pictures of pies... I seldom bake pies, because I bake good pies, with from scratch pastry, and then eat too much. sigh. I want pecan pie.

Recipe for Brown Bag Apple Pie

October 9 

I have a wee problem ... watching Tech on ESPN and following Richlands Blue Tornado Football on Twitter ... Blues are whooping some Bulldogs tonight, Hokies need to take care of the Wolfpack as well!

October 10

from my father - not sure of the source, he said it every time we cursed in his presence -
" Any use of profanity is an outward indication of an inner lack of education"

Searching for the
… I so want to
say …
No, I cannot
I must not
use that word
in this
For shock value?
In raw reaction?
Daddy always said -
I know, I know
“what Daddy always said”
why do you have to
Well, it worked, didn't it???

 October 11

In quietude the light does fade
Blessed benediction for a sacred day

No stirring breeze or raindrop disturbs
Whispers of farewell from unseen fae
Blanket of solemn reflection now rests
Upon hours of toil
Be blessed

A comment I made to a friend:I mend as well. And love the zen of the act as you have so beautifully expressed. My sweet Roger bought me a new sewing machine for Christmas several years ago, and it is the third Singer I own. The first is from circa 1945, in a beautiful cabinet, electric with amazing attachments. A legacy from my father's oldest sister. The second I purchased second hand in the mid 80's, and it too has all kinds of bells and whistles, and is in a cabinet. My latest is "portable", which is fine to sit atop #2, because where would I fit a third sewing machine in a permanent cabinet??? I am a sewing notions junkie, and love the selection of pins you show us here ...

There are no unsacred places. There are only sacred places and desecrated places.- Wendell Berry
The divine is within
Where I
What I
Who I
When I
Why I
How I
This is my
This firmament
And all life
Depends on me
And I on them
All is sacred
All is to be cherished
This is what I believe
and how I strive to live

October 12

"It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful." ~ Brother David Steindl-Rast
*David Steindl-Rast OSB is a Catholic Benedictine monk, notable for his active participation in interfaith dialogue and his work on the interaction between spirituality and science.*
I am not Catholic. At one time I vigorously professed Christianity. Now I simply tell people I am not a religious person, but a deeply spiritual soul. For me, this is a natural, personal evolution. We are each on our own path in life, and mine has been thus.
Things matter, often too much, and more than people in most of the industrialized world. It is always about money, about power, about who has the biggest and shiniest toys. We seem to be caught in a maze, where we work to get and get so we have to work ...
This quote struck a chord with me, and I have keep it in my little file of quotes that I hope say something about me, and what I believe. After two marriages, numerous jobs, friendships that have bloomed then faded, feelings of deep elation and despair, exposure to people from a respectable variety of cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, and belief systems I find that my concept of what constitutes joy, contentment and happiness is more complex than when I was in my 20's and 30's.
For me, this quote, along with a few others, puts into words some of my deepest and, in a way, most fragile beliefs. Fragile insofar as being precious, not breakable, but cherished.
I am grateful for the people I have met, and learned from. I am grateful for the hard lessons I have learned, for the trials and triumphs, for the challenges and graces extended. My life while not perfect provides me with a joy in living that is less tied to "stuff" than in years past.
I so eagerly await what is yet to come!

October 13

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” ~Anatole France
Even those things I never thought I would miss, the tangible and the intangible, are woven into the fabric that is me, are part of real events. Being mindful of the now, this journey we are sharing here in Small Stones, what I see us doing is helping one another with that melancholy. I admire all of you so much.

 October 14

I would like to write
Inspiring words
thoughtful observations
midday at mid-week
midway through days off (3)
All I can mindfully observe is
My middle toenail on my left foot hurts
Must have stubbed it in the night
Oh Well

We are one species. We are starstuff.
Carl Sagan

The night sky, here in my beloved mountains, cozied down by the river as we are, has very little light pollution. I pause as I go out the door for work, oh so early, 4:10 AM most days. I tilt my head back, and gaze at the immensity above me, see the stars and planets and satellites and airplanes floating and twinkling overhead. Yes, we are one species, we are starstuff - and my spirit keens for home briefly, then I come back to ground and set about my day.

October 15

This is me in the first grade. I remember that dress - it was brown, and the buttons looked like butterscotch candies. I think I was smiling crooked because of missing teeth. Looking at me then, I can see that the fatty area above my eyes has always been there, all droopy. My Daddy's eyes were like that. Mom would put bobby pins in my hair to keep it out of my eyes. My hair had actually been long until I was about 5, when my grandmother had it all chopped off one summer. I remember being glad - my hair ties itself in knots overnight and having it brushed out hurt like the dickens. My Daddy's brother JT used to act like he was going to cut my ponytail off with a pocket knife and I would throw fits, so when the hair was gone I was no longer afraid of Uncle T. Daddy was not happy to see my hair gone - for years I thought MawMaw decided on her own to get it cut, but I think Mom probably colluded with her, having it cut when I was out of town and Daddy not being able to protest. I was a very bouncy little thing, always running and getting into mischief. Not a calm child at all. First grade was the year I got into trouble at school for answering a question from the teacher honestly. Bess Buskill was my first grade teacher, and she asked if anyone knew who the president was. I raised my hand and answered, "Long Nose Johnson!" because that was what my father called him at home. I was paddled in the cloak room for that one. Amusing the things you remember from your early childhood.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

October Bids Summer Adieu

National Poetry Day

October Bids Summer Adieu

Shadows deepen across the way
As trees their foliage shed
Wagons groan by laden with hay
As the harvest is laid abed

Crisp air unravels the spider's thread
Belies warmth promised by view
Cotton ball bunnies cavort overhead
In a sky impossibly blue

Night knocks early upon the door
Evening chores beckon anew
As once again as in years before
October bids Summer adieu

~Ellen Apple 10/08/2015

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Seven Days of October

October 1 

October, October what is going on? I thought you were supposed to be a mellow, things winding down from the Summer sort of month? Oh, no - you have to act up on us. Oh yes, a hurricane? Seriously? Floods and rain and high winds? Not nice, not nice at all! And what is it with a shooting in Oregon already? Upwards of 10 dead? No, not liking this day at all! Now it is time to get back on track, and fast! We want our sunny afternoons and pretty fall foliage and sweater weather evenings around a bonfire. Can you please do that for us?

October 2 

So, if I followed all the hacks and tips I read on Facebook ...

I would have to invest in industrial sized containers of hydrogen peroxide, vinegar (white and cider), rubbing alcohol, and Dawn dish detergent.
The nooks and crannies of my house would look like the remnants of a food fight because of the coffee grounds, walnuts, salt, crystals, black pepper, and eucalyptus leaves left scattered for pest control.

I would need to have the kitchen rewired to have space for all of the slow cookers.

I need to find a restaurant supply store, or at least take a trip to Sam's for big containers of pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and turmeric.
My yard would be decorated with paper towel and toilet paper cores, cut out to resemble scary critter eyes and lit with glow sticks. And ice balls with glitter in them.
Lord, I am tired just thinking about it!
Guess I'll just do my laundry, clean, cook, and decorate the way I have been doing for years.

Facebook - where you learn that hard-boiled eggs are baked in the oven and baked potatoes are slow cooked for hours ... Hint: You can bake the potatoes in the oven for a significantly less number of hours, and once the water boils for 3 minutes you can turn the burner off on those eggs. Save your time and electricity, people.

October 3 

HA! I just went to the mailbox in fleece pajama pants, an old CWA shirt, a lavender hoodie and wearing Birkenstocks and socks. I looked like a refugee from reality.

The weather while to many may be a "downer" to me prompts introspection, and a different perspective on things in the yard, and I do enjoy a brisk feel to the air as opposed to a heavy one. All of the wind and wet have washed the atmosphere, for me, and my allergies are taking a respite this afternoon. I am enjoying my afternoon quite well!

Random thoughts about me and food and diet:
  • I am trying to develop a habit of not getting something to eat every time I feel just a wee bit hungry. Even if it is a healthy alternative, I find if I wait a bit the urge will abate.
  • I have noticed that when I do eat it is taking less for me to feel "full". This may sound silly to many of you, but it is a major accomplishment for me.
  • I have always been a stress eater, as well a boredom or a restless eater. Often, if I occupy myself cleaning the kitchen it will work as an appetite suppressant.
  • I have almost completely quit buying chips (crisps to some of you) over a period of time. Another major move on my part.

Probably more than any of you really wanted to know!

October 4 

One heartbeat, one breath, one step, one decision at a time. That is how life is lived. Not in the regrets or glories of the past, not in the dreams and dreads of the future. But in the here and now. Today.

It is what it is ... Today would have been my 29th wedding anniversary had I not divorced my first 2001 He passed away about six months after our divorce was final. Life sure is interesting sometimes.

Sentimental Sunday
Driving home from work this morning, I was listening to Tavis Smiley on NPR. He was having a conversation with Johnny Mathis. Made me feel sentimental because Sandi and I spent many teenage angst sessions listening to a tape of Johnny Mathis. Chances are ...

October 5

Monday Morning Musings 
A new week, a new month - a new resolve to be in the now. Just finished gathering up to throw away 3 large bags of stuff that accumulated over the past months, years even - hidden in nooks and crannies throughout the house. Taking a truckload to the dump, and then running a few needed errands in town. Trying to make the most of this day off. Tomorrow is 3 weeks since Roger's surgery. He is doing really well, and keeping to the restrictions he is under. He has more side to side mobility in his neck day by day and the derma-glue is coming off of his incision well.

When I first started out on Facebook, I think it was about 6 years ago, I was Facebook friends with mainly a few people I went to school with and a smattering of people from work and a relative or two. In the intervening years my Facebook "family" has expanded in places and ways I would have never imagined. Coast to coast and border to border in the US, plus several countries other than the US and at least three continents in addition to North America. I have become good friends with such an eclectic and fascinating group of people. In the space of just a few hours I can read multiple viewpoints of just about any topic you can imagine, and I try very hard to respect the full spectrum. I have reconnected with a few friends from years passed that I had reconciled myself to never hearing from or of again. I have found acceptance, humor, and compassion. I have had my views and beliefs challenged, expanded, and changed. Facebook can be a pain, and there are times I could scream in frustration, but at the end of the day Facebook for me has become a rich and fertile form of interaction and information. Wow. Quite the post, huh?

I think if I would just quit plucking my chin whiskers (I call them my crone hairs) I could grow a very respectable goatee.

October 6

Thoughtful Tuesday
Life happens. The unexpected. The unanticipated. Moments of inspiration. Shooting pangs of remorse. This is not revelation, knowledge previously undiscovered. This is life. Whether by rote, by instinct, or by outside influence we all face, and deal with myriad situations and decisions daily.
There is no magic formula, no easy path. We sometimes look at others and judge their lives and actions. We always know what they 'should' have done. We always know what they 'should not' have said. Yet when others turn that same judgmental eye on our lives, our words, our actions we bristle.
The fault lies in seeing only a part of a situation, knowing only what is above the surface for public ingestion. Jealousy, envy, regret, greed - these also play a part. Resentment at times of the perceived advantages and privileges that another may enjoy while our own life seems to be in a constant state of flux and struggle.
How often do we miss opportunity for encouragement, increased empathy, deeper personal connection because of this? I cannot see in your heart, I do not know your bank balances, your complete medical (physical and mental) state. I was not there for all of your previous struggles, defeats, victories. I do not know the prices paid for you being where you are at this point in your life, just as you do not know mine.
When we do not reach out, pause for understanding and a more complete accounting of the situation we are seeing, we are harming ourselves as much as the other person.
Just a few of the things banging around in my head this Tuesday afternoon. Be blessed, and bless others in the blessing.

October 7

  1. you are not afraid to let others see your need
  2. your first instinct is often to share, not keep
  3. you try to see yourself through eyes that love you 
  4. you will cuddle a cat or a dog with no hesitation
  5. you are brave enough to let others read what you write
  6. you still hold concern for others when they have none for you
  7. you unwittingly say things in a humorous way, causing others to laugh
  8. you can transport yourself to other worlds within the first paragraphs of a book
  9. you tell the people that you love that you love them
  10. you have learned to watch your words more carefully

*** ten things I have learned to love about me, because if I cannot love me, how can I anticipate anyone else can ***

The world is going to end today
Some prophets have decreed
Engulfed in fire and smoke they say
Judgement on sin and greed
Somebody's world will end 'tis true
Of this I have no doubt
With crack of heart and toss of shoe
Being left of love without
Someone else will fold in pain
Crushed by news of health
Wondering if they will ever again
Put all their trust in wealth
In all this grief and sorrow is born
Portent of hope and light
Bringing a smile to a soul forlorn
And joy where once was blight
A world will end, another burst forth
It happens day after day
From south to east and west to north
People at work and play

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Plaintive Cry from Distant Shore

Plaintive cry from distant shore
Too wearied to wage battle more
Calling home
Calling home
Outstretched hand a silent plea
No bed for rest on storm tossed sea
Calling home
Calling home
Echoing through each endless night
Besieged by life searching for light
Calling home
Calling home
Each face a tale by terror worn
Each tear a frozen promise to mourn
Calling home
Calling home
Who will offer the sojourners rest
To be called citizen not just guest
No more to roam
At long last home

~ Ellen Apple 09-30-2015

Calling (Me) Home

September 27

I  traveled distance to meet my friend only to discover I was travelling in time as well. Being early as I often am, and my travelling companion being early as well, I took opportunity to visit a few scenes from my early life. As we drove towards Bluefield, Va., I impulsively said, "Turn right at the next road". 
The distances had shrunk over time. The narrow road now paved that in my youth had been a teeth-rattling washboard of compacted gravel and water worn potholes all too soon revealed the sturdy white house perched on a level spot on the hill. 
The now century old farmhouse perched on the mountainside where my mother grew up, and where my grandparents lived until age and ill-health forced them off the land and into a "more reasonable" situation in town.
This place in distance not 100 miles from where I now sit, this place in time holding clear memories some of which are 50 or more years ago. The barn where I learned to milk, the orchard that at this time of year had trees hanging heavy with fruit. The impossibly large limestone rocks that hosted our picnic lunches with dolls and dogs. The mountain spring that poured forth the coldest, sweetest water to quench a laborers thirst. The wide and deep porch from which MawMaw would stand, calling with hands cupped around her mouth "Roy! Boys! Dinner's On!"
This place, these mountains, these ridges and valleys and farms and rivers that were calling me home for the 20 years I lived "away".
These memories that are calling me home still as I try to make sense of where I was then and where I am now and why my life has transpired as it has.

September 29

Today has been one of those Fall days here in my beloved mountains. The clouds were thick and low this morning by seven, and by ten there was a steady fine rain falling across the ridges and hollows. The thermometer may have indicated 70 (21) most of the day, but there has been a chill to the air, that harbinger of the December and February that lurk just around the corner. 
I moved away from home in the Spring of my 24th year. I missed home, and honestly thought that the pangs would lessen, but they did not. My father was in his late 60's, retired, and ill. My mother worked in the County school system and Daddy was home alone during the day. I soon discovered that the best balm for my homesick heart was to call Daddy, oh about ten in the morning, and chat for a while. Ha always gave a brief weather report, and I would respond in kind. I mentioned February above because it was the relentless gray, brown, wet late winter rains of February that I had anticipated I would miss least about home, and those were the weather reports that pained my heart the most. 
Daddy passed away in April of 1986, three years after I left home, and 15 years before I would come home again to stay. On mornings like this morning, when the clouds drape heavy and gray across the mountaintops, and a fine steady rain settles in for a nice long visit, I miss calling home, and hearing that voice. Calling home was a gift I never appreciated until he was gone.

September 30

Today my thoughts have once again turned to my childhood years, and how deeply I enjoyed this time of pause between the heat of August and the gradually chilling days of late October. Football Friday nights. Afternoons still warm enough and daylight late enough to begin end-of-summer chores outside. There is a particular beauty to the trees and flowers as the time of Fall color is almost, but not quite here. The green changes hues, and some  impatient leaves are already swirling through the air, propelled by unseen currents. Shadows are longer and darker, and when the sunlight filters through the partially disrobed trees the patterns on pavement and grass are delicate and ephemeral in their beauty. 

Apples and pumpkins are the star of the dining table. Cider, apple butter, and molasses will soon be for sale by those who still honor their heritage and toil in orchards and fields here in the mountains, It was during this time of the year that there would be held a Fall Festival of sorts in Tazewell, VA. at the County Fairgrounds. The Lord's Acre Sale. I believe it was called. Now this may still be held, I am not really sure. I live in a different county now, and my memories of The Lord's Acre Sale are at least 40 years old. In my mind's eye I can still see the booths, attended by various church and civic groups, with such a selection of items for sale. Hand crafted, home made. Apple butter. Fried apple pies. Honey with and without the honeycomb. Hot dogs. Molasses. Quilts. Aprons. Crocheted and knitted doilies, dishrags, and dolls. Aprons and potholders in gingham and calico. Hot chocolate and coffee. Cakes and pies and candies on paper plates covered in plastic wrap. Ham biscuits and homemade 'light bread'. A precursor to the Farmer's Markets of today, but extra special because it only came once a year. Without all of the entertainment and other bells and whistles of the festivals and such that many towns and communities 'put on' now. 

Now keep in mind that these are memories from decades ago, and the details and particulars were more than likely outside my ken at the time, but I believe the purpose was for fundraising and not individual profit, The members of civic groups and churches would bring the first of their harvests, the best of their labors, and sell them to fund the at home and at large missions and projects that were so germane to their existence. A time of community and fellowship that was in preparation and highly anticipated weeks in advance. 

As the calendar turns and we head into the last quarter of 2015, these have been my thoughts.