Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Sin-Eater

Drink full of life
Gulp and swallow the all
The joy and pain mingle
And lie replete 
Full of hope
Feel the truth 
Rest in the nght
To rise again with 
Vigor comes light
The sin-eater has come
and gone

~Ellen Apple 11-02-2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Unanswered Call

The Unanswered Call

A ringing summons
Who misses more
From which side of the chasm
Is the message more
From the sender
The recipient

Abyss in the interim

~Ellen Apple 10-16-2014

Apple (Roger, the calm - the gentle - the artist ) has been feeling under the weather for a few days, and I in my own way have been very concerned. From the time we met his essence was the perfect shape to fit the void in my life, his grounded ways and creative flights of fancy were just what my own oddities needed as a counter balance. We have been pretty much inseparable for over 13 years, and have created a reality for ourselves here on the creek by the river that suits us well. When he is not feeling well, I become very concerned.

I worked last evening, and about half an hour before I was to clock out and come home, I called the house to see if there was anything he needed, some tidbit to tantalize his taste buds, a craving for food or drink that was not on hand here at the house. 

I called, the phone rang ten times and went to voicemail. I hung up, redialled, no answer again. 

When I got home, he was sound asleep, resting well, the cats spread across his body like extra furry little space heaters. The phone was in the floor, I am sure pushed there by Smokie, who has loved the act of clearing tables since she was a wee thing. The back had popped off, and the battery connection jarred loose. Dead phone. That was why he did not answer. 

He was fine, and I was relieved. This small poem was written as I contemplated missed calls.

I hope your day is well. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


My first husband, 25 years my senior, would have been 81 today. We divorced in 2001 and he passed away less than 7 months after the divorce was final. He was an alcoholic, and his disease was the end of us. This poem reflects how hard it was for me to leave, how he wanted me to not go through with the divorce, and how rough that particular 18 months was. We were married for 15 years. 

All the days
All the nights
All the sounds
All the sights
All the words
All the ways

You tried to tell me
I should have listened

Try again
Try anew
Try for me
Try for you
Try for us
Try I beg you

I am listening now

~Ellen Apple 10/15/2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits

It is a rainy afternoon here on Little Beaver Creek - we have had much rain this month, and the creeks and river are fierce in their fullness. These pictures were taken by Apple on Monday afternoon, while I was at work. The weather yesterday was indeed glorious, beautiful skies and mild temperatures. I knew the weather forecast was for rain today and cooler tomorrow, so I am pleased he got these shots.

It is a read a book, sip a cup of hot coffee, snuggle under a blanket kind of a day.

A young girl who would have turned 11 in December lost her life in an accident on Sunday in our area. A tree, root system made unstable by the recent rains, toppled and crushed her as she was out squirrel hunting with her father. Life is a fragile thing, not promised for any length of time for anyone.  We have to live and appreciate what we have now - it may not be here tomorrow, life may be better it may be worse, it may be altered in our experiences forever with just one act. 

I wrote in a message to someone last night "Don't borrow tomorrow, it will be here soon enough".
We do that, you know, we worry today about the myriad what-if''s of tomorrow. We stress, we panic, we theorize, and our now, our today gets wasted, frittered away. I am not advocating a life of not planning ahead. Dreams are planning ahead, retirement funds are as well, along with home purchases, budgets, all manner of things. Setting goals and working towards their completion, learning new skills, expanding our experiences and communities. These are wonderful, marvelous, fulfilling endeavors. I am speaking (or writing) of being so consumed with the worry of all the negative possibilities that we see littered about in the nebulous future that we are not seeing the "now". Prepare for the worst and hope for the best? Yes. Become obsessed with the worst and getting stuck there? No. 

The time shall soon be here when the trees along the mountaintops have shed all their leaves. When the air is cold and clear, the clouds are heavy and gray, the trees in their bare beauty look like fringe on a rug rippling along the contours of the mountains. I am going to try to remember to take a picture of this gift from the season this coming winter - it is especially striking when there is snow or heavy frost scattered along the hightops. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

There is comfort and a wee bit of decadence to my mornings these past few days. In addition to my Kroger French Roast coffee with caramel creamer (International Delights), I have been savoring the taste and texture of Biscoff Lotus biscuits.

I enjoy these coolish mornings, and the variegated colors to the trees that surround us here in the Appalachians. 

I was reminded this morning of how wonderful the world works, in such a complicated synchronized dance of ebb and flow. There is inconsistency and permanence at every juncture, a dichotomy of light and dark, birth and death, that carries us along such a poignant and exhilarating ride that we call living. The moments seem fleeting yet inexorably long at the same time. We think we shall ever remember and then forget. 

Enjoy and savor wherever you are now, because this life you have today cannot be repeated, or kept, or altered. We get through a day, a trial, a joy, and new ones await. Lessons learned, at times. 

Laugh until you cry. Cry until you sleep. Breath deep and full, drink long from the cup of this day because once it is gone you will never have the chance again, but a new one awaits, just as full of possibilities as the ones long since passed.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To my daughter on the birth of her son

I carried you in my womb
Whispered secrets for only your ear
My heart became a tomb
I surrendered you never to be near
My love for you never waned
Days slowly gave way to history
With one photograph sustained
Your beauty was never a mystery
My second miracle years in the making
When I looked at you and saw a better me
My soul was suddenly no longer aching
Now you have a child of your own
Maybe you can understand 
The lengths a woman will go to
How far the heart can expand
When a new life is a part of you 

~ Ellen Apple 10-01-2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Mantle of Guilt and Sorrows - Wearing my Past

On a regular basis, you can see my little red car making the trek from our little acre at Nashs Ford to my mother's home about 25 miles away. If the weather is cooperative, and there is not road construction to worry about, I take what I call in my mind the back way. I drive out New Garden Road to Honaker, turn left towards Swords Creek, drive through Raven and Doran and into Richlands. I timed the drive Wednesday. About 40 minutes. US 460 is the main route through Richlands, there is a 460 Business and a bypass. 460 through town is interesting, because most of Richlands' business district is one way streets. 

I could almost write an unofficial history of that little town. I was born there in 1958, and my father graduated from high school there in 1931(?) Confession time: Details like dates often scramble in my mind, not because of age - I have always been this way. From the house we moved to when I was in the second grade (at The Trinity House) to the middle of town where the old National Guard Armory/current Police Department is located is about a mile. The Mullins Professional Building is across Second Street from the Police Department and was previously part of a complex of about four buildings that comprised the Junior High School where I was schooled for grades 7 and 8. I walked to and from school frequently when I was in Junior High. 

Very close to the old Junior High building (about a block to the east) is Richlands First Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church. We began attending 1st Christian before I started school. I frequently walked to and from the church as well. Further west was the Flannery Theatre, where I saw Gone With the Wind whilst still in elementary school, and the fascinating combination swimming pool/drive-in where I learned to swim as a preteen and watched MASH as a teen. 

There were very few places that were unexplored by that young Ellen throughout the 1960's and 70's. Whether on foot, by bicycle, or 'cruising' with friends in cars, I was intimately familiar with all neighborhoods and most streets and alleys in my hometown.

Now, when I go to Mom's, to that same house I spent about 16 years in, I drive those same streets:Front Street going east through town to go to Mom's and Second Street west to return to the land I now call home. I am usually alone, and I drive through layers of memories each time. Past events drift through my mind. The silly and the sublime. The ecstatic and the pathetic. There are days when by the time I have made that 3 mile drive from the spot where once there loomed a drive-in screen over a swimming pool complete with diving boards (!) I am weepy nostalgic. Other days, I am almost bubbling with laughter. But that drive through town always has an effect. Always. Often, I will return home by another route, because I have picked up too many wisps of the past on the way into town and I am apprehensive of the ones that are waiting for my next pass. 

There is that time of the evening, when the sun had almost dipped below the mountains and night is edging in across the valleys that is called the gloaming. Yesterday I headed down US 19 in the gloaming, thinking to avoid those lingering ghosts of times and actions I had stirred two hours earlier and I knew again a truth I have carried with me for most of the past 30 plus years. I wear my past like a mantle of guilt and sorrows, have done so for years. There are memories so sharp and intrusive that I can hardly allow them to rise from my subconscious long enough to admit their reality. Events and actions that I carry heavy in my core, never sharing or unburdening onto another. Bit by bit, at sporadic intervals, I will gingerly, delicately cup them in my soul's palms, trying to smooth the cutting edges and ease the raw pain that echoes across the years. These ghosts that I drive through each time I am in the town of my youth, they are persistent, but I have decided I am tougher.

I rant and rail against being defined by my childish errors and youthful abandon. In my own way I have been bloodied in battles few will ever know were waged, and my losses though many do not add up to the sum of who I now am. 

So yes, I do indeed wear that mantle of guilt and sorrows, too often it settles on my shoulders, not bringing warmth and comfort but rather a dragging weight I know I can not long bear. It is now time for me to weave a new cloak and wear it well. One of fine spun silk gathered by in the misty promises of hope and comfort that will settle well on the present Ellen, and stand the test of the decades I have yet to add to the beauty I know my life can yield. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Sojourner

A rare Saturday at home, and I need to be doing things, but here I sit at the computer. I have not blogged in a week, the days just seem to pile up sometimes. I was off work my usual Tuesday and Wednesday - but my dear sweet Shirley at work brought me three books last weekend, so I read three books on my days off. Actually five books, because one was a three-in-one softback. Light, easy reading. The 3-in-1 was a trio of modern romances, ala Silhouette and Harlequin. There was also a Nicholas Sparks novel (he always makes me cry!) and a John Grisham book about a quarterback playing NFL-style football in Parma, Italy. 

Here in pictures I present our week at Little Beaver Creek. 

Pendant from a piece of Black Walnut

The back is beautiful as well 
A piece of envelope art 
We now have business cards

Gourd Harvest

Dalek gourd and four baby boos

Mabon is two years old this weekend

Smokie is so laid back

and totally uninterested in the camera

She actually tried to take the Dalek out of the basket

A box for a totem made for a friend

Elephant totem from creek rock - The twine is hemp
Now I am going to shop a bit. We need cat and people food.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fragments from a Friday

Driving across the ridge today, I encountered a slightly scary situation. A pickup truck, in a curve, in front of which was a very startled young deer. Skittering on the pavement. Thankful I have new brakes on the car and I am going very slow. I and the truck both come to a complete stop. The deer makes it to an embankment, and bolts to safety.Later, as I am driving through Glade Hollow, a trio of brilliant red cardinals sweep up and around and into the treeline. Mother Nature thanking me for not injuring that graceful creature just minutes before? I like to think so.

From Buddhist Boot Camp : Yesterday someone asked me a question that I often ask others, "What is your biggest struggle in life right now?" Initially I said that witnessing so many people create their own suffering is heartbreaking, and it is, but upon further reflection, I think that what hurts even more is that it has somehow become socially acceptable for people to publically express frustration by yelling, slamming doors, copping an attitude, giving someone the finger, or storming out of the room. It's true that television depicts this behavior as normal, but it's television, not reality (we used to know the difference between the two), and now we not only accept this behavior as "normal", we actually feel validated because "everyone else is doing it!" And yet vulnerability and sensitivity, which is truly our greatest strength, are still frowned-upon as a sign of weakness (especially with men), with grace and honesty being significantly more courageous than a bad temper, if you ask me! Let's not accept rude behavior as a form of entertainment, it is adult bullying at best, and downright violent at its worst. Treat others the way you would treat the Buddha... always.

I love the serendipitous twists and turns my life takes sometimes. I went to C&R Variety, and found these three HooDoo soaps for $1 each. The Sandolo is sandlewood complexion soap. They were made in Peru. I love the packaging. Yes, they will be put within a wooden treasure box ( I like the term casket for this particular box  ) Shari gave me.

Self-Indulged today. Because I decided I deserve it! Drove to Abingdon to Kroger and bought their store-brand of French roast coffee, my favorite already ground coffee. Browsed around C&R Variety (lordy, I live junked up thrift stores) then went to The Old Pioneer Barn and bought BBQ sandwiches for supper. Came home, made a pot of coffee, and had a mug with Southern Butter Pecan Creamer (omg!!!) and a slice of Sock-It-To-Me cake.

“As long as you fear judgment, there is a sensed lack of freedom to be who you are. Be finished with the prison of others' opinions.” ~ Gangaji

Deer bone, with design burnt in then painted, Arrow head hand knapped and the owl was then carved out then painted, As you can see it fits in the palm of my hand. Native owl design. The "x" on the back of the deer bone is Roger's mark that is incorporated on everything he makes.

“There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading in the same direction, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only one wasting time is the one who runs around and around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.” ~ Hindu teaching

Owl came in from work Thursday night, and Apple had documented his cat sitting success - Smokie is there too, she just isn't as colorful as Mabon!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

bloodless battles

We are entering that time of the year
When both young and old in turn
Search out the spirits to taunt and to fear
Rake up piles of leaves to burn

Haunted houses and listing gravestones
Are suddenly all the rage
Swimming pools give way to bags of bones
As the calendar turns a page

It seems to me as I read scary ads
For pumpkin patch and corn maze fun
Thrill seeking and gore are ageless fads
A way for bloodless battles to be won

I do believe the dead are still with us
They populate cities and farmland in turn
But not that they are here to make a fuss
Rather to help us grow and learn

~ Ellen Apple 09-11-2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September Sojourns

Swirling whirling breeze
Leaves that dance and then are still
Fall lurks in the air

~Ellen Apple 09-07-2014

Last evening, I observed the tenacity of nature once again, as the dauntless spider has spun a larger web where the day prior another was swept away by broom and man. Spanning from canopy to eave, already ensnaring several gnats, Would that I could fearlessly and with great determination keep coming back when my efforts have been summarily dismissed,

~Ellen Apple 09-09-2014 

~Roger Apple 

~Roger Apple

~Roger Apple

Cold Night of Rain

By warmth of day or in cold night of rain
With love and support there for the taking
Just unable to scale that cliff again

Daily routines and dreams keeping me sane
All the while something inside me breaking
By warmth of day or in cold night of rain

The constant spent sobs unrelenting strain
Anticipating more years of aching
Just unable to scale that cliff again

Should each day be such an energy drain
Leaving one's soul numb with spirit quaking
By warmth of day or in cold night of rain

Once again thinking the dragon is slain
Knocked off kilter confidence left shaking
Just unable to scale that cliff again

Deciding at last to have no more pain
Not rash - it has been years in the making
By warmth of day or in cold night of rain
Just unable to scale that cliff again

~ Ellen Apple 09-09-2014

Written in memory of Scott who could not scale that cliff again.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Moth

A jagged peak against the cold blue sky

Reaching forth to claim the promise unknown

So delicately wrought in times gone by

Keening sobs for dreams lost echoing why

Torn and leaking life from a hopeless throne

A jagged peak against the cold blue sky

Is hope so senselessly now gone awry

Can eleventh hour acts help to atone

So delicately wrought in times gone by

Desperately searching with jaded eye

Once young fresh maiden now age burdened crone

A jagged peak against the cold blue sky

When blessed joy returns then hope shall fly

Such depth of resilience will be shown

So delicately wrought in times gone by

The follies of man all nature defy

Look closer - it's a moth wing fully grown

A jagged peak against the cold blue sky

So delicately wrought in times gone by

~~~ Ellen Apple 09-06-2014

Photography by Rachel Westfall Taylor 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fairy Song

I felt a whisper in my ear
A gossamer tickling thing
"Look close to heart and ever near
'tis time to see the wee one sing"
Puzzled a bit? Oh, yes,  I confess!
My senses were all a tingle - 
(I held my breath to acquiesce
With wee folk I yearn to mingle)
A taste of magic on my lips
As shimmers - there to the left -
(Unparalleled joy in my grips)
Then in a twinkle I am bereft
I wanted it too deep
As slowly my vision clears. 
I must have been asleep!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day

Labor Day

Our nation pauses 
takes a rest
Closes the chapter 
on Summer's best
Late night games
of hide and seek
Parades and picnics
Politicians speak
Children prepare
new clothing galore
Backpacks and shoes
and so much more
Crisp autumn days
await the sigh
As August heat
says Good Bye
Seasons change
The page has turned
Time marches on
with lessons learned

~Ellen Apple 09/01/2014 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Awesome August 2014 - and it's a wrap!

A miscellany of items, many from Facebook over the past days, and a few last day of the month musings. Very stream of consciousness, so also a glimpse into how my brain does (or doesn't!) operate without much editing. 

The last week of this month has flown by. I knew I would have problems getting blog posts written, I am in the middle of a 5 day straight stretch at work ( Friday and Saturday combined I worked 20 hours.) I am not complaining - still so grateful for my job, and loving the people I am meeting and getting reacquainted with others I knew from my 4 year stint at Wal-Mart from 2002- 2006. Not just co-workers, customers as well.

One of the joys of rural life in the Appalachians of SW Va is the closeness of community. The person who inspects your car is the cousin of your hairdresser who is the high school friend of the mail carrier whose brother works at  the school where your neighbor's child is in first grade - that sort of thing.  The closeness of community is in great evidence this week (August  29 through September 6 I believe) of the annual Russell County Fair and Stock Show. The county residents turn out in droves, families and friends, co-workers and competitors, for a week of celebrating being who we are in this corner of the Old Dominion. I was told by a customer at the store last night that the fields were packed with cars and the mass of people milling about the rides, horse arena, exhibit halls and live performance stages was an awe-inspiring sight.

49 Winchester is a Southwest Virginia Folk Rock band fronted by the son of my dear friend, Debbie Necessary-Gibson. They were on stage last night. These boys are young, engaging, and so talented. Click on the link and check them out. Issac is so full of energy! I was not able to attend the show, but his mother reports they were very well received.

From Monday: 
Standing outside in the evening yesterday .. the sky a perfect blue baby blanket, scattered with cotton balls masquerading as clouds, fuzzy little circles waiting to be swept up and put back in their canister. Ah, the regret of turning and going back indoors, returning to the labors that pay my bills, when my soul longed to linger and watch the light fade from the sky, morphing to a dark dome littered with twinkling fairy lights.

I participated in a Positive Challenge on Facebook this week. Here are my posts, with my cumulative 15 things:

Day 1 of the "Positive Challenge" for me. Three things that I am thankful for:
1. The legacy of a love of reading from both of my parents.
2. Having had all 4 of my grandparents long enough to understand the resilient nature of my heritage. 
3. All of the tears and laughter (my own and those of loved ones) that have healed me when I thought I was broken beyond repair.

Day 2 of the "Positive Challenge" for me. Three things that I am thankful for:
1. My job at Cargo in Lebanon, Virginia. I had no income for 3 1/2 years, and the experience was not one I ever want to repeat.
2. Siblings. My sister Virginia Carol Hart and brothers Larry Smith, Steve Slade, Danny Slade, and Ed Smith. (and may my deceased brother Gary Smith ever be remembered)
3. My daughter Johnna and her husband CJ, but most of all the grandson that will arrive in November.

Day 3 of the "Positive Challenge" for me. Three things that I am thankful for:
1. Roger, my husband and friend, my mechanic and gardener, my confidant and protector, Meeting him healed me in innumerable ways, and he is the best person I know.
2. Having been able to meet people from so many diverse backgrounds in my life. 
3. Air conditioning. Sound odd? I lived in South Florida for a few summers without anything but a poorly functioning window unit -  believe me, AC is a blessing.

Day 4 of the "Positive Challenge" for me. Three things that I am thankful for:
1. Still having both the mental and physical stamina to work a job where I have to count money, be on my feet for 9 hours at a time, and deal with the public face to face.
2.  The honor of living in a rural setting, where wildlife is the norm and I can see the night sky without light pollution. Some people never see the stars.
3. Sweet Iced tea, my favorite beverage since I was a child. Hot tea to curl up with a book, or when I feel sickly, coffee to get me going in the morning, carbonated drinks on occasion, but sweet iced tea is what I truly drink most of the time.

Day 5 of the "Positive Challenge" for me. Three things that I am thankful for:
1.  Friends, and the kindnesses they show in myriad ways, I see and hear so much negative about Facebook, but the small community I have built for myself here has enabled me to maintain old friendships and foster new ones.
2.  My mother. She will be 82 in January, and I am aware every day what a gift and blessing it is that she is still living in the house we moved to in 1967. 
3. My incessant desire to write. Many words I form into poems and stories may never be read by others, but the process provides a catharsis and fulfills a soul-need that is as much a part of me as my ample build and love of chocolate. 
This brings an end to an interesting experiment. I have struggled with the three things each day, and life has thrown me a few curve balls in the process. Life is interesting. 

The challenges I mentioned on Day 5? The brakes went out on my car, and due to brake dust and road grime, it took Roger about 7 hours total, and retooling a hexhead bolt, to put on new pads. Thankfully, the rotors are not ruined. I drive across a ridge from our little acre to my job and the curvy mountain roads while very scenic are tough on vehicles, especially tires and brakes. And



The day after I listed AC as a blessing, the AC in the house
quit cooling

Roger tried, couldn't repair


Dale's in St. Paul once again came and performed HVAC sorcery, and though we are a bit lighter in the bank balance, we had the funds to cover the unexpected (again I am thankful for Gedie Cox and Cargo!) and we are once again in relative comfort. This is so funny in a not funny way because this week is the hottest we have had all Summer.

A thought I had, and posted at random on Facebook:

It is often just being there at that time that is our purpose - not to fix anything, not to exact revenge - just to be there, a shoulder to cry on or a person to laugh with, a hand to hold or an ear to listen.

Roger the Tall sits outside (weather permitting) everyday and flintknaps, feeds the outside cats, and watches nature in all of her beauty and complexity. He saw this occur this last week in August:

Roger saw an ant rappelling down from a poplar leaf using a spider's silk - it was a carpenter ant and he had killed the spider, had the spider in his jaws, and was using the spider's silk to go down to take food to his colony. Nature is incredible.He said it was like watching Army Rangers rappelling from a helicopter.

This is the final installment in my Awesome August 2014. 

Not sure what I will call September yet, I am thinking you will see more poetry next month, and hopefully more pictures of our little acre here on the creek.