Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nothing but blue skies...

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long

Have a blue sky, daffodil kind of day!

Friday, March 19, 2010

All of a sudden...

Open the windows and open the door
And let the fresh breezes blow in, blow in.
Jack Frost has gone to his home in the north
And all of a sudden it's Spring!
~Author Unknown~

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Antique Card Catalog

For as long as I can remember, I have had a love affair with books. Not just books, but libraries filled with books. As a child, I enjoyed going to our small town's library and getting lost in the stacks of books, reading the back covers, having a difficult time deciding which I would check out because I wanted to check out all of them. In elementary school, our class would go to the library one day a week. I would check out the maximum books allowed and carry them home with me. My favorites I checked out over and over again. Many years later, the woman who had been my elementary school librarian decided that Harold and the Purple Crayon should be retired. Since she remembered that this was one that I checked out over and over again, she signed the inside of the well worn cover and brought it to me. Of course, I was thrilled. Now that little tattered book is among my collection of first editions and author-signed books, as it is as important to me as any of those...perhaps even more.

Another thing I loved about libraries was the old card catalogs. I loved reading them! So, imagine my delight when poking through an old junk store, I spied in the back corner under piles of "stuff" a dusty antique card catalog that called out to me louder than if it could speak. I got so excited over this scratched old cabinet with it's twelve drawers that I could barely ask the price of the old man who ran the store. Fifty dollars. He actually said fifty dollars. I couldn't believe it. Of course I yelled, "Sold." and went up to immediately pay him, and I couldn't get it loaded in my car fast enough. It barely fit across the back seat, but it if it was meant to be. When I got home and asked my husband to help me unload the car of a true treasure, he looked at me as if I had lost my mind when he saw it. "Where in the world are you going to put it," I remember him asking. "I don't know, but I have to find a place!"

The photo above is not my cabinet, although this one has twelve drawers. Mine is two drawers high and six drawers wide! I love it!

I believe I know the perfect place. In my new studio. It will look wonderful in there and serve as a great cabinet to hold paint brushes, tubes of paint, pencils, etc. I cannot wait to take the orange oil to it and see how that old wood shines. I bet the patina is amazing. For now, it sits among the other furniture all piled in our guest bedroom awaiting the finish of the remodel. I can't even get in there to take a photo of it right now, but soon....

This will be a project that will touch my heart and lift my soul. I can't wait to see it in its new home.

Monday, March 15, 2010

First Signs of Spring

The first signs of spring always bring a smile to my face. After a long winter's sleep, it is always so promising to see those first signs of life - the crocus and the daffodils beginning their journey toward the sun, rising up through the soil to greet the warmer weather and the new spring light.

I love taking drives in the country during the early spring and seeing the newly born calves beginning to walk under the close supervision of their mothers. With an early spring chill still in the air, I love to take my camera to the edge of the fields, stand by the fence posts and watch the activities of these youngsters as they become more self assured and frolic in the warming of the season.

I can say goodbye to the winter with little remorse as the new season offers so many delights of colors and scents and sounds. As I draw up the blinds that have for the last few months helped to keep the artificial warmth inside my home, I welcome the sun through the window panes and feel a sense of renewal as it dances around the rooms.

It is time to begin again.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


The Childless Mother's Lullaby
By Ella Rhoads Higginson, 1925

Oh, many's the time in the evening
When the light has fled o'er the sea,
That I dream alone in the gloaming
Of the joys that are not for me;
And oft in my sorrowful bosom
Swells up the mother-love flame,
And I clasp with my arms that are trembling
My child that never came....

The hours swim on the midnight
The moon looks over the hill,
And the u-lu-lu of the night owl
Sinks mournfully and shrill;
The solitude aches with rapture,
And my heart with the mother-love flame
As I sing alone in the gloaming
To the child that never came.

From A Book of Lullabies (Elva S. Smith ed., 1925)

Today I am sinking into the depths of sorrow...I feel it happening, as if a giant wave is enveloping me; it has been another difficult day.


Once again, it all feels so hopeless. We have explored adoption, surrogacy, donor egg programs, foster care, and still we do not have a child. I called Department of Children Services earlier. The lady on the telephone was cold and harsh. "If you are looking to adopt a baby, this is not for you." She said, matter-of-fact. "People just don't hand over their babies to DCS, and when they do under the age of 18 months, they usually end up being placed back in the home." She also said that we would have to foster a child for a period of six months or more before we could be considered as potential adoptive parents. It doesn't matter that we have gone through home studies and background checks before with agencies and attorneys. I also found out today that surrogacy is not an option for me... because my ovarian reserve is low and I am over 42. The nurse said, it is "unlikely." "The doctor won't even consider harvesting eggs from a woman your age," I was told by the nurse. "The odds are against it," she said. She added that she was not trying to be mean...that she was just explaining the facts to me. It seems that every path we look down, there is someone slamming doors in our faces.

Sorrow. Today it is all that I know.
Painting: Joy & Sorrow
by Zhong-Yang Huang

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Anger, "Justified?"

Here we go again. As a native of Harlan, Kentucky, I am used to stereotypes. I run up against them all the time. As soon as someone knows where I was born and raised, they feel compelled to make remarks like: (looking down at my feet) "'re wearing shoes!" Or...(squinting as they pretend to take a closer look at my mouth) "You have all your teeth!" Or they ask me if I grew up with indoor plumbing. If my family tree actually forks. Do we have electricity? Phone service? Are my daddy and grandaddy and brother coalminers? I have even been asked if we have television in Harlan. Usually, I would make smart comments like, "Well, we only have ONE television in's down at the courthouse, and all of us go down there on Saturday nights to watch 'HeeHaw'." You would be surprised at how many people believed me.

If you have followed this blog for long, you will remember my anger over the Diane Sawyer piece, "Hidden America: Children of the Mountains." Oh, I was upset...and justifiably so! But now I have a new one to focus on...the latest in the long list of (inaccurate?) portrayals of my hometown.

FX will present a new series, Justified, beginning March 16th. My husband keeps saying, "Paula, watch the first episode before you get so upset." I do not need to watch the first episode to tell you how it is going to represent us. It has been done before. We know. It will make us all look like gun toting, barefoot (or boot wearing), uneducated, unethical, primitive-living, moonshine making hillbillies. I will be shocked if it is anything BUT that.

I did managed to calm down enough to watch the trailer and their video on the History of Harlan. What did I see within the first couple of seconds? A flannel-wearing man carrying a shotgun, running through the woods, looking behind him like he was running from someone. The only thing missing was his hound dog. Oh wait...they had that, too.


I was born in Harlan County to a middle class family. My father worked for the state, my mother owned her own business. My grandfather was president of a local wholesale company. My grandmother was a kindergarten teacher. All of us wore shoes. I was not allowed to use the word "ain't." If I spoke with a double negative in my sentences, I was corrected. I was educated. I grew up with a telephone AND a television in my house. I did not know any moonshiners.....well...that I knew of. My mother's father and grandfather were coal miners. Nothing to be ashamed of there! They were honest men who earned an honest living. That I know of, neither of them carried shotguns with them on a regular basis. Please.

I hope that this newest series set in Harlan does not portray the entire population with the same mentality that we are used to seeing when it comes to the media. I hope that someone did their homework and has enough intelligence to look at the place as a whole and tell your made up stories that do not portray the area as a wasteland when it comes to IQ's and morals. I am skeptical...again.

I believe the media thinks that telling the positive aspects of Harlan County won't bring them ratings. Perhaps the world would discover that our problems in Harlan are not very different from those in any other place in America. The myth would be exposed, and then who would the media have to exploit?! We cannot fight stereotypes in Eastern Kentucky with this kind of thing out there! This series is just one more nail in the coffin of my hometown...and one more slap in the face of the place and the people I love.

Come on, FX and Mr. Leonard....prove me wrong. I dare you.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

God's Language

"Silence is the first language of God; all else is a poor translation." Thomas Merton

In this world full of noise and chaos, are you taking the time to listen to that sweet, small, subtle voice of God?
Photograph by Christopher Talbot Frank


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In Praise of Winter Trees*

A closed heart can't greet
a winter sky. Even a rain puddle
is filled by it, and a horse trough,
and the slow current of creeks.

Winter trees, sycamore and oak,
reach for the sky to offer praise –
stark, hard praise, born from all
those rooted years of bearing

the sky's weight. Some nights
an open heart is filled with vast
spaces between stars the mind
can't grasp. The thought of heaven

is not so much mammothed by
the sky's grandeur, but mystified
beyond our silly notions. Winter
trees aren't arrogant; they praise

no flags, no denominations,
they owe allegiance to the soil.
My sister, when she was younger,
awoke in winter to hold her arms

up to the sky, shiver in the wholeness
of it, let shadows of winter trees
dance sunlight across her face.
Oak, beech, sycamore, maple, and gum,

reenact creation, drop their seeds
from the sky, make their homes
in star dust, and reach back
toward heaven. Trees suffer

drought and freezing rain, accept
the annual tilt toward shorter days.
Some ancient hope, like winter light,
is allied with the gravity of stars.

*Excerpted from Late Winter by Bill Brown, published by Iris Press. Bill Brown is a part-time lecturer at Vanderbilt University. He has written four poetry collections, three chapbooks and a textbook. The recipient of many awards and fellowships, Brown lives in Robertson County, Tennessee.

I have always found beauty in the starkness of winter. Something about the winter light and proud trees with their entangled branches against a gray winter sky speaks to my heart. The pure white of a fallen snow with its shadows of violet and muted silver, flashes of diamonds in the rays of a winter sun. Asleep. At rest. Peaceful and waiting.

Hoping you're enjoying the beauty of Winter, wherever you may be...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom

As a child, I used to love to pick flowers for my mom. I thought she was beautiful and smart and funny. I liked to make her smile. I liked when she talked to me and made me feel that what I said was important.

It was not until years later that I found out she was highly allergic to those little raggedy flowers that I thought were so beautiful. Even though I brought her weeds, she always smiled as if I had brought her roses.

My mother is still beautiful and funny....and smarter than I ever imagined. And I still like to make her smile, because she has always made me feel that what I had to say and what I thought mattered.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.

How Lucky Am I?!?

I won this beautiful work of art through the One World - One Heart Giveaway from a truly gifted artist, Katie, over at Ragamuffin Gal. You really MUST go visit her and take a look at all the beautiful creations she makes. I adore her blog, and I know you will, too! She and I have a lot of things in common: we are both animal lovers, both from mountain states (she from Arkansas and I originally from Eastern Kentucky), and both love OWOH and all the wonderful people we have met through participating in this great event!

I was so lucky, don't you think?! These gorgeous girls are going to take center stage in one of our newly remodeled rooms, and I cannot WAIT to hang them. Pictures will soon follow once all the work is done...which hopefully will be in another week or so (keeping fingers crossed).

Thanks so much, Katie! I love this adorable piece of work!! These cuties will be well cared for in their new home. :-)
Photos courtesy of Ragamuffin Gal

Monday, March 1, 2010

I have a dream

I have a dream that one day I will come home each day to an organized and clean house. I dream that the pantry will be a thing of beauty, with each thing in its place and no dog food bags turned over with food spilling out because we forgot to close the door and the dogs got inside. I dream that the shelves will be neat without things tossed carelessly on them. I dream that each closet in our home will have only what belongs inside. They will not be stuffed to the gills with things we simply wanted out of the way in our attempt to hide a messy house from our friends and family. I dream that our laundry room will not have clothes stacked waiting for washing. A couple of laundry fairies would be nice. I dream that every porch would be clean and free of dust and spider webs. I dream of an organized clothing closet where all clothes are neat, ironed and perfect. And since I am dreaming big, I would like to see a craft room without storage cabinets stuffed so full that I can't find anything. Oh, those cleaning supplies need to have some organization, too. Preferably one so that I can find what I want when I want. No more guessing "Is it upstairs or downstairs? Under the kitchen sink? Or maybe under the sink in the laundry room?" Oh, but since it's a dream, I want to dream for someone else to do the house cleaning for me. How about a couple of housecleaning fairies? Or one really good housekeeper. I dream of a clean, dust-free car with no crumbs that have fallen from my breakfasts during my mad dashes to work. I dream of there being a time when all the drawers in our laundry room have what are supposed to be inside them there, and I don't have to search all over the house for light bulbs or Mighty Mend It or an extension cord. They will simply be where they are supposed to be. I dream of being able to find a writing pen when I need it.


What are the chances?!

I have to tell you this, because perhaps you will find it as ironic as I did. When we cleaned out our storage area for the workers to begin construction on our new master closet, in the back of the room behind several boxes and under some stuff we had thrown back there to get out of the way......I found, not one, not two....BUT THREE books on organizing one's life. That's right. Three books. I obviously had lost them. Two went into my yard sale stack. I did keep one, however, because....I have a dream.