Category Archives: Southwest Virginia

It’s that time of year …

not for celebrations and parties.  Not for get-togethers with good friends and people you may know.  Not shopping for bargains and gifts, not meeting up to have a good time and not for having a nice glass of wine with like-minded folks.

Well, actually, it is that time of year, but not for everyone.

For some, this time of year means eating a cold can of beans alone in an empty room without power because the electric bill wasn’t paid.  It wasn’t paid because the baby needed medication and there wasn’t enough money for medication and electricity.

For some, this time of year means standing on the street, in the cold, wearing street clothes and house slippers because there wasn’t enough money for rent and if there wasn’t enough money for rent, there certainly wasn’t enough money for a coat and shoes.

For some, this time of year brings memories that are bitter and hurtful; thoughts of years past that ran, one into the other, with no happiness or joy.

For some, this time of year means nothing.  It is simply the passing of time while watching the world go by, just like the year before and the year before that.

For some, this time of year means family, food, friends and fellowship.  It is these people who embrace the season and enjoy it as they always have, together with the people they love and are comfortable with.

But what about all the others?

Who, when they set down to their family table laden with food, surrounded by family, warm, cozy and perfect, think of those who have nothing, expect nothing and know nothing different from the emptiness they feel every year at this time?

I and many others call ourselves followers of Christ.  We say with our voices  how much we love and want to be like Jesus.

We sing praises, bless our food and continue on in the same traditions we have followed for years.  We praise Jesus and say we want to be like Him but prove time and again that we recite words we believe but don’t, deep down, mean and we fail the very Jesus we say we want to be like.

He wants us to share what we have; not just home, warmth, family, friends and food, but the very word that would bring others to love and honor Him.

Invite a stranger to Thanksgiving dinner.  Invite several strangers.

Let’s bring someone homeless to our home and make them, for one day, family.

Let’s show them that Jesus is real and that they are loved.

This time of year is our time, the Jesus follower’s time.  Our time to put our money where our mouth is.  To be hospitable, to offer shelter and food for those who are hungry and the ones the world calls outcasts.

It is our time to take in everyone, despite everything, and to show them Jesus.

If we, who claim to be the hands and feet of Jesus don’t show love to the oppressed, be certain that the evil one will.

He will entice and enchant them, then make them slaves to his depravity and hatred of all things good.

Don’t give the devil the satisfaction of beating us to the punch.  Let us be the Jesus we claim to want to follow and lead someone to Christ by being the hands and feet of the Savior.

Make no mistake –  Satan is working hard to win the souls of the lost and if we don’t work harder, he will win because he doesn’t give up if he doesn’t get a response on the first pass.

Be Jesus to the world and don’t give up just because you can find an excuse.  Having an excuse doesn’t excuse us, but overcoming excuses and finding a way to be Jesus to the world shows our true alliance.  We are with Jesus or not with Jesus.  It is as simple as that.

Everyone reading this post is welcome to Thanksgiving Dinner at my mom’s house.  You, for one day, will be our family, you will be warm and your bellies will be full.  Must love, or at least tolerate dogs, though, because our place is lousy with them!  🙂

October is …

unrivalled, my favorite time of year.

It is a month of contrasts for me.

The joy of Autumn.

Leaf-strewn country roads, leaves falling as I drive with the top down, deep colors in the forests, tobacco hanging in aging barns, hay waiting in long fields and orchards full with ripe, red apples.

These are the joyous things that lift me high and make me feel as free as the raptors migrating along the spine of my beloved Clinch Mountains.

The sad parts have a say, but they are muted; dulled by the magnificence of Mother Nature as she concedes, under the watchful eye of Father Time, her reign to Old Man Winter.

Time, which has no regard for anyone, will pass without fail or regard to any of us.

The voice of things past becomes harder to hear as years go by.

That, in and of itself, is a good thing.

If I stumble and fall over what is in the past, then it’s not possible to say that I have moved on, adapted, regained my balance.

I could wallow in what can’t be undone, but to what purpose?

I could brood (I’ve been told that I brood in the fashion of my Irish and Scottish ancestors).

And sometimes, I do, simply because I feel like brooding.

During those times, I throw breakable things at breakable things and have completely awesome meltdowns that leave me purged, yet restless.

Most often, however, I just go with it.

Time doesn’t care about me, mine, you or yours.

It simply passes, and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

I’m claiming this October for myself.

Not for what I’ve lost, but for what it is.

My favorite time of year.

A peaceful, easy feeling.

That, for the here and now, is how I intend to roll.

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My beloved …

much missed and cherished convertible is back.

She still makes noises and currently has no back seats, but she’s running.

I have missed my little car.

I mistreated her by making her pretend she was a Jeep, but she took it.

I will mistreat her again to get to the places I need to go and she, as she always has, will understand.

She knows me, my dreams and aspirations.

She understands my yearning to see and photograph.

I’m very happy to have her back and hope she knows how much I’ve missed her.

She’s mine; she was always meant to be mine.

I won’t trade her when I am finally able fulfill my lifelong dream and get a Jeep.

No, she’s safe here. She will always have a place in my heart (and in my driveway).

I’m pretty sure she knows that.

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She took me to my falls many, many times.

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She took me to the high places at Clingman’s Dome in the Smoky Mountains, where snow fell heavily in October.

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She took me, in the pouring rain, to Hungry Mother Park in Marion, VA

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She took me up and down Big Moccasin every day, stopping often so I could photograph my favorite trees.

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She took me, more than once, to the Outer Banks of NC.

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OBX again …

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and again.

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She took my girls with me many times …

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      many times.

Yes, I’m very happy to have her back.

Very happy, indeed.

Five years later …

or nearly so, I am still sorting through my late husband’s things.

I should be past overpowering sadness by now.

I suppose I am, mostly.

But being a writer and photographer hinders that absolution.

Just when I begin to ascertain peace in my life, words intervene; I write about him and tear those nearly closed wounds open again.

It is as though he died this day, this moment, this hour.

Sadness seeps through the crevices the words carve.

Normal humans move forward, live their lives, make something of themselves from the shattered remains.

I want that, too.

But I’m a writer.

I’m a photographer.

I keep tearing those wounds, just as they’re healing, open.

I love writing about everything and photographing God’s perfect beauty; but it has a price.

I pay dearly through my words for they rip open wounds I’ve desperately attempted to close.

I bleed, painfully, and use photography to heal me.

Each image I capture stitches the brokenness and, simultaneously, pours remembrance on not quite yet healed hurts.

If one is not an artist of some kind, time will ease your pain.

For the rest of us, those with creative pieces in our soul, time simply laughs.

When the words, melodies and images are in our head and heart, there is little time can do.

What it can do is soon undone by what we are.

Sadness is my destiny, peace my hope.

And yet I write.

I photograph.

My hope is great.

My healing never really comes.

I have to ask myself if I would be willing to sacrifice my writing and photography for peace.

No, I answer.

I can live without peace.

To live without words and images would truly and altruistically destroy me.

That which brings me sadness will fuel my hope.

I am a writer and photographer.

Therein lies my hope.

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The obituary column …

is an essential component of living in the South.

Without it, life would take an incomprehensible and irreversible turn.

Every few days, my mom says to me “we’re going to the funeral home”.

The “we” is she and my dad.

I never know what’s going on so, as far as I’m concerned, it could be a relative or close personal friend.

Tonight, it was the wife of a preacher I’ve never heard of.

I don’t take the paper myself and even if I did, I wouldn’t read every word of every obituary looking for familiar names so I’d have a reason to go to the funeral home.

When I was a kid, growing up on a dirt road miles off the “main road”, the obituaries were read on the radio.

You late forty and older crowd, who live or have lived in the South, know what I’m talking about.

There was one AM station on the radio that was only part static and most words could be understood.

First came the Pledge of Allegiance, then the obituaries followed by the madly popular “Swap Shop”.

Since there was only that one discernable station, everyone around our parts listened to it.

They swapped hogs and chickens for mule harnesses and tractor tires, then met at the funeral home to talk about it because someone they didn’t know, who was a relative of someone they hadn’t seen in years, had died.

Congregating at the funeral home; it’s a Southern thing,  I suppose.

Or maybe it’s just a Southwest Virginia thing.

I think we’ll find, however, it’s broader than my little neck of the woods and call it a Southern thang.

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Light, to me …

is much more than simply the absence of darkness.

I watch it.

I chase it.

I adore it.

The golden hour, and there are two, are my favorite times to be alive.

I didn’t take courses in photography, though I wanted to.

I learned through trial and error.

Light is unforgiving.

If I miss the perfect moment, it doesn’t offer a do-over.

It is Edwardian in its boundaries and doesn’t allow room for foolishness.

I love that about it.

It is constantly changing.

Sometimes, it is indescribable and others completely intolerable.

It gives what it gives; therefore putting the burden of catching it on my shoulders.

It keeps me centered.

It makes me yearn for something that, to a layman, is intangible.

As a photographer, however, I understand the language of the light and revel in it.

It is what fuels me, sustains me, makes me who I aspire to be.

I work as a nurse so I can be a photographer.

It is all I ever wanted to be and the light, inexplicably, seems to understand that.

I’m a child of the Creator and He has given me an eye for His magnificence.

I am, beyond description, blessed.

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Light, in every season, in several circumstances and with unimaginable awe makes me fall, literally, to my knees in thanksgiving.

I adore and will, as long as I have breath in my body, seek the light.

It is HIS gift to me and I praise HIM, through photography, for it.

Amen.

A few difficult days …

are, once in a while, good for me.

They remind me that I am stronger than I think and that gives me confidence.

Confidence makes me manic, which is my baseline normal.

I like being manic as it makes me think clearer and feel empowered.

Right now, all is right with the world.

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              My favorite marker

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          My favorite Lighthouse

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               Sunrise in my world