Saturday, May 27, 2006

CAUGHT MY EYE....My camera and I took a little walk around the yard today, and these are the things that caught my eye.........

A happy Buddha.....His message: smile.. do no harm...stay close to the Source.....keep your hands in the dirt...contemplate the beauty of compost! :0)

Japanese irises...I love the purple.....

Rhododendron.....reminds me of the mountains in North Carolina.....

Colors and curves in my lettuce patch......

The first rose cut and brought in the house.......

Off to clean.....Happy Saturday to all!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

SIGHTINGS AROUND THE FARM ~ The third week of May, 2006

~wild daisies and asters in bloom
~lots of yukky, repulsive ticks on dogs and cats (sorry, I know that's gross..)
~lots of cute, adorable baby bunnies
~roses about to bloom
~sunflowers and zinnias sprouting from the seeds I planted
~gladiolas and dahlias from bulbs I planted
~pansies that are still beautiful
~pale lilac irises in bloom
~a pink flaming azalea and a beautiful white rhododendron in bloom
~orchids in bloom in the house
~kale, onions, and lettuce that are ready to eat
~a Texas Star hibuscus popping through the ground
~mockingbirds, red-wing blackbirds, hummingbirds, brown thrashers, phoebes, and yellow warblers
~incredible sunsets
~beautiful Eliza twirling her flag

It's quiet's beautiful's peaceful here...and I love being at HOME!

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Today, I'd like to honor all those women who have made and continue to make an incredible impact in my life. The list would be long, for in some way, every woman I have known has expanded my understanding of myself as a woman / mother / daughter / sister / friend. So, I'll keep it short, well, sort of.....

I am especially fortunate that my paternal grandmother, Dulcie Ruth Michael Shook, who turned 104 in January, 2006, still lives in her small house back in the mountains in Pigeon Roost, NC. Grandma Shook had 10 children, nine of whom are still living. Although she drifts in and out of reality from time to time, on a clear mental day "Miss Ruth" can still tell a good story and remember days when she and her sister, Ada, used to climb trees and play tricks on the pigs. Moon pies and mayonnaise sandwiches rank right up there as her favorite snacks, and her advice on living a long, fruitful live is to "tell the truth, and don't trust doctors." She's been known to take her medicine out of her mouth when no one is looking and stash the pills and tablets underneath the cushion of her chair. When her youngest son was killed in a car accident involving a drunk driver, Grandma insisted upon going to the trial of the man who was responsible to let him know that despite her sorrow, she believed the higher thought was forgiveness. In her forgiveness, deeply rooted in "ole' time" mountain faith, she found her healing.

About three years ago, I went to visit her, and Grandma told me of a vision she had in which Jesus appeared to her. She said she woke up one night to a very bright light and was getting up to get her gun because she "knowed it was one of those no count Rupperts from down the road" trying to get in her house. When she sat up on the side of the bed, the entire room filled with the light, and as she looked toward her bedroom door, she saw Jesus standing there. I asked her what he looked like, and she replied, "Well, he looked like that picture that's a hangin' right over the sofa in the other room." Then she proceeded to tell me that Jesus told her that she would live longer than Ada and that he had other plans for her. (Aunt Ada died about three months later at the age of 98, I think) In fact, despite her insistence that she was ready to "go to the promised land," Jesus told her to get used to the idea that she would live to be 105. And indeed, Grandma is still with us today.

When I walk in through the front door of her house and see her across the room, sitting in her overstuffed chair like a little Buddha of the "holler," I feel totally safe, totally loved, totally embraced. If I could beam myself to any place in the world today on Mothers' Day, I'd be sitting on the old green stool at a corner place around her table, listening to her say grace, and settling in for a home-cooked mountain meal There'd be some good greens, and chicken and gravy, for sure. Uncles, aunts, and cousins would wander in and out of the house all afternoon, and Grandma would smile and love each one of them, whether or not she understood who they were.

I always tell Grandma Shook that she's the most beautiful woman in the world, and for me (along with my mom), she truly is. Often times I close my eyes and feel her hand in mine, and I feel strong and loved very deeply.

And then there's my mom, Petie, as her my children call her. Mom's life has been one of giving to others, and in doing so, she finds her satisfaction and greatest joys. Mom's the solid foundation of our family; she's a woman who has spent the last thirty years of her life patiently caring for my father through the progression of his Parkinson's Disease. Petie is loved by many, but her #1 fans are her grandchildren, for they adore her as much as she adores them.

The 7th of nine children, Mom, who's real name is Mary Macintosh Stevenson Shook, is also known as "Shook," "Nurse Shook," "Steve," and "Mary Mac." At a time when many women never considered a career, Mom decided to become a nurse, travelled away from home to attend nursing school, and subsequently, graduate school. She was the first person to give a shot of penicillin in the hospital where she worked, and she established the Student Health Service at Appalachian State University. As the only nurse on campus for many years, she attended to everything from homesickness to childbirth. Within the community, Mom was always the person called when folks got sick. Our kitchen served as her clinic, from which she dispersed her advice and gave allergy and B12 shots. She did private duty with many, many people while working full-time, simply because she was the person people trusted in times of great need. I can't begin to recall all the people for whom she cared in their final moments; it was as if Mom's presence with them during their final breaths allowed them to make their transition into the world of spirit without fear and peacefully.

My mom is beautiful. As she advances in years (she's now 87), her beauty increases. I love to look at the light reflect off of her snow white hair, and I love to hear her laugh when she gets really tickled. After we talk every afternoon as I am on my way home from work, I feel complete and safe. And on Mother's Day, today, the little girl in me would love to be with her mom. I love her so!

And then there are my girls, Bobbi and her daughter, Isabella, and Eliza Caroline. Bob's off in Philadelphia, so we connected by

phone a couple of times today. She's a great mom to sweet, bright, energetic Isabella. Bobbi didn't come through my body, but she certainly came through my heart. Bobbi is one of the strongest, most passionate, most beautiful, most loving women I know. There may be no other two on earth who enjoy life like we do when we're together (and apart, so far as that goes.) Forget anything traditional or conventional in our presence; we don't fit those molds! Our beloved Joe Davis says the energy on the planet takes a huge shift when the two of us are together!

Eliza Caroline and I spent the Mother's Day together. My baby's now 14!- - - she's my best buddy! For a mom and daughter, we get along more like best friends. We both have an "Inspecteur Clousseau" sense of humor and love to watch movies together all snuggled up in my bed. As I witness her transformation into a young woman, I watch her grace and beauty unfold, and my heart bubbles over with happiness and delight. She's bright, witty, kind, loving - - the farm's social butterfly. Watching her from across the table this evening, I could see the woman she'll become, and it was a incredibly amazing vision. The self-proclaimed beauty / princess / most intelligent person at the farm, Eliza delights in life and those of us who live with her delight with her along the way. How could I be so lucky!

Today I also think of Myra, Miss Hal, my aunts Joyce, Linda, Mildred, and Audrey, Nina Martin Baker, Peg, Aunt Lera, Aunt Lib, Betsy, Gladys Greene, Aunt Kate, Mami Alonso, Elena,Anita Eppley, Diane, Caroline, LoriBeth, Dana, Meera, Laida, María Luisa, Liana, Hermana Marta, Hermana Nora, Mary Ann, Deb, Gail, Charlotte, Sharon......

Happy Mothers' Day to all women - -to all mothers, to all daughters, to all sisters, to all girlfriends!

That pretty much covers it all...

Sunday, May 07, 2006


He calls to say, "Soup's on. Come on over."
He laughs with me over really silly things that others don't get.
He likes to garden and can.
He's a great cook.
He likes killed lettuce, beans, "taters," and some good cornbread.
He understands the need to season things with bacon grease. :0)
He understands mountain talk, and he knows mountain ways.

He takes the time to go watch Eliza's softball games on days I can't make it.
He loves the farm animals, and they love him.
He takes care of the farm when I'm away.
He surprises me with flowers and cards.
He listens to me blubber on the phone when life gets crazy.
He gives sound, good, loving advice.
He always says, "Love ya!" whenever we are about to hang up on the phone or head in different directions.

He's the brother I never had.

He's one of my very best and closest friends.

He's one of the few people in whom I place total trust and confidence.

He is a genuine, real, good, loving person in every way....He's goodness personified.

I love him..

He's Tom Jackson, a.k.a. "Will" of the Appalachian Will and Grace duo, and ...

it's my priviledge to be " Grace...."

Monday, May 01, 2006

MAY DAY 2006

I remember this day from my childhood as being almost as special as Christmas or Halloween or Easter. Every May 1st, students at the college where my parents worked put up beautifully decorated May Poles around campus, adorned them with colorful ribbons, and danced around them from early evening into the darkness of the night. The May Queen and her court got as much coverage in the college yearbook as the Homecoming Queen and her entourage; the college symphony held an outdoor concert and played waltzes while students wove their ribbons under and over one another as they circled around the pole. Flowers were placed all over the campus in honor of this rite of spring, and folks from all around the region came onto campus to celebrate as well. As a young girl, I journeyed to faraway places in my mind on this special occasion. One year, the May Queen placed a garland of white and pink flowers on my head; in my imagination, I became her princess. It was magical!

I now know and celebrate the day as Beltane--an acknowledgement of the union of the masculine and feminine within us all--a day to honor of all that is coming alive in Nature as we move into greater light, a day to witness the maternal care with which the Earth nurtures what we sow, literally and figuratively.

Today at the farm, Eliza and I confirmed that the hummingbirds have returned as they dive-bombed by us while we were eating our dinner outside. Later, on my walk, I listened to the conversations of the red-winged blackbirds, yellow warblers, brown thrashers, phoebes, and wrens in the field and woods. The trillium, mayapples, wild geraniums, wild mustard, and jack-in-the pulpits are in full bloom, and we've had our first spotting of one of our resident (huge!) blacksnakes in the back woods.

While the busy-ness of life in my daily routine diverts my attention on more occasions than I might want to admit, the Earth remains my constant, and the natural world unfolds to embrace me tenderly with its beauty and grace.

So tonight, on May Day, 2006, I again connect with feeling like a princess and give thanks for the serenade of the peepers in the distance while I compose at the computer.

Today, I am grateful for the sweet smell of the Russian olives, the beautiful green color of the back field, my bright yellow pansies, the pink bleeding hearts, and weather that is warm enough for me to go barefoot on my walk.


(Above: Art credit to Jennifer Hewiston / May, 2006 / Llewellyn's Witches Calendar 2006
Photo: Mayapple blossom-taken by yours truly)