Tuesday Tunes: Here Comes Santa Claus…

Farmgirl with Santa–Circa 1975   The calendar just rolled over to December, and I can now officially start listening to Christmas music. Growing up, it wasn’t Christmastime at my house until a certain LP or 33 1/3 rpm vinyl record hit the turntable:  “The Elvis Presley Christmas Album.”  The lovely sounds of Elvis crooning festive tunes, both rock and gospel, was an integral part of my holiday experience, and thank goodness, I was able to find it on CD a number of years ago.  All I can say, is this music completely takes me back–way back. I remember listening to these songs year after year at Christmastime:  while wrapping presents when I was a little child, dancing around the kitchen while making cookies with elementary school friends, decorating the basement for a slumber party as a teenager, having a cup of hot chocolate after marching with the band (Drill/Dance Team) in an evening parade, opening presents on Christmas morning, driving home for winter break while in college, decorating the first Christmas tree in my own home, and now, sitting by a cozy fire with a glass of wine. I absolutely love these songs and memories. And, I have to say, EVERY song on this album is either fun, beautiful, or moving. If you’re not familiar with the “Elvis Presley Christmas Album,” it’s on YouTube.  In my opinion, it’s a true treasure.  I can’t imagine the season without it. Here’s wishing you […]

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The Other

*This is simply an account of a personal experience.  I shall not debate any aspect of politics, religion, or cultural issues on this blog.  Disrespectful comments will be deleted.  Thank you.   Not too long ago, I visited a quaint town north of the Rappahannock River in Virginia—a place with lovely architecture, scenic views, upscale shops, galleries, and restaurants.  One day, as I was exploring the town, I decided to go into one of the art galleries.  I entered and exchanged a few niceties with the salesperson. Accustomed to tourists, she asked where I was from. “Virginia,” I answered. “What part of Virginia?” she probed. “I live between Roanoke and Lynchburg,” I said. To which she responded, “Oh, you’re from the other Virginia.” Let me just say…..I knew what she meant.  Her tone and facial expression conveyed arrogance and superiority.  It was a comment that carried a negative connotation regarding a particular view of the political, religious, and cultural identities of people living south of the Rappahannock River–what some historians call the “grits line.” I glanced in her direction and smiled.  Because, y’all know in the other Virginia, many of us are taught the old adage:  “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”  So, I continued to walk around, viewing the artwork silently.  As I made my way through the gallery, these questions crossed my mind. “Is she trying to be offensive? Or, bless her […]

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Green Hill Farm: A Retrospective #3 — Faith

This is the third and last of the Retrospectives on restoring my family’s home.  Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂 Looking back on the experience of saving my family’s homeplace, I’ve realized that not only was it a gesture of love, but more importantly, it was an act of faith. Faith, or wearing my rose-colored glasses as I like to say, sustained us through difficult times and propelled us forward. I don’t know where we would have been without it. At the beginning of this journey, shortly after my parents offered us the homeplace, my mom and I took a walk through the house. I remember walking through the dark, dimly lit downstairs hallway, the musty smell of rooms left undisturbed for too long, and cobwebs carefully covering yesterday’s treasures. I remember slowly climbing the stairs, counting each one as I went up. It made me think of Granddaddy. He once shared a story of the time his Grandmother Rieley visited when he was just a boy; she asked, “John, how many steps are there?” He quickly replied, “16!” He told me that he knew the answer because of the many, many times he had carried firewood up these very same stairs. So, after climbing all 16 steps and arriving at the top, I began to look around. Metal and plastic buckets, and maybe even a pot or two, sat strategically placed to catch any drips of water. I glanced around […]

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Friday Farm Favorites: The Beginning of a Journey

Green Hill Farm: A Retrospective #2 — Perseverance   “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~Lao Tzu (c 604 bc–c 531 bc) Tao Te Ching, Chapter 64 There’s a sign that hangs in our vestibule or small covered porch that reads “PERSEVERANCE,” and it’s been our mantra since moving to Green Hill Farm.  Farmguy and I were in our early 30s when we decided to take on this project. Sometimes when we look back at pictures we say, “WHAT in the world were we thinking? Were we INSANE?!!” Whatever the answer, it was the path taken. This path has lead us on a journey that has been difficult and challenging at times but rewarding and enriching, too. Anyway, we all know that anything worthwhile isn’t easy. Which brings me to the next piece of our story.  The first day we visited the house after construction started was surreal. It was a hot, humid day in June, and the grass was starting to need cutting. I could smell the fragrance of something blooming that I didn’t recognize, and the wrens were singing away–weedeater, weedeater, weedeater, tweet! As I walked toward the house and started to process what I was seeing, I felt sick to my stomach. The large, white columns that had stoically stood sentinel in front of the house had been removed from the front porch; and where they’d majestically once stood, skinny, dark, wooden […]

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“The Weekly Bleat: Winter Wonderland”

It doesn’t quite feel like Christmastime in my community until the Christmas Lighting Ceremony has taken place at the Bedford, Virginia landmark formerly known as the Elks National Home.  The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks is the fraternal organization that has operated the facility for over a century.  The Elks National Home was recently sold and the new […]

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