Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Old Timey Meetin's




I don’t reckon I’ve ever been in any better church meetings than when I was a young girl and we went to those spirit filled revivals and singings. The whole church house would rock from the preaching, shouting and singing. They were called meetins back then and everybody for miles around packed in those little churches and it was standing room only if one was lucky. A lot of the time most folks would just stand outside and listen.

I’ll never forget the night the Lord spoke to my heart. It was during one of those old, timey meetins that I hit that alter faster than a cat could lick. I was 13 years old and remember it as if it was yesterday. I got baptized in a little swimming hole called the Tadpole Hole.  In that moment in time my life surely changed and it gets sweeter by the day.

We had to walk to get to most of em but that didn’t sway anyone from going. Very few people owned a vehicle and there wasn’t many on the roads. 
I started out walking with my grandma when I was very young. There wasn’t any roads that were to long or wide for her to hoof it on. She was a shoutin woman for sure. She’d shout the hills out come Decoration Day and Dinner on the ground, and when we’d get in one of them kind of meetins she never stopped from the time she walked through the door, never knew when to hush. Mama and daddy went when they could but it was hard on em with a whole gang of kids to drag along.

After my grandma passed away things changed. More folks got a vehicle and were able to haul their families to church. My daddy loved a good old, timey spiritual singing better than anything. When he found out where one was gonna be, he’d always ask me if I wanted to go with him. Needless to say, me and daddy went to a lot of singings together.
He’d put on his Sunday go to meetin clothes which always consisted of his best pair of overalls, best shirt and his cap of course and his polished and shiny slippers.

 Daddy loved to run his mouth outside the church and knew everybody there and they knew him but when he entered the door and pulled his cap off he became a different man. I enjoyed those singings but I enjoyed watching daddy’s reactions too. He’d get in such a way and so caught up in that spiritual singing that it touched my heart so much and oh what joy just to see that smile come upon his face and watch him shake his leg , pat his foot or take his old cap and slap it against his legs. He really enjoyed it so much and had his own way of praising the Lord.

We’d go far and near in that old truck of his, didn’t matter what church or affiliation. He didn’t care how big the crowd was or how small, he made himself at home.
My grandma had her way and daddy had his way but I sure did enjoy going to those old timey, meetins and good, spiritual singings with daddy.


A lot of things have changed over the years but there’s still plenty of singings around and every time I go to one I think of daddy and can just see him there with that big smile, pattin his foot and slapping his cap against his legs. I know he’s there in spirit and enjoying it as much as me. I can only imagine the many singings he’s enjoying in heaven each day and mama’s right there beside him and they’ve both got a big smile on their face. I’ll see you both real soon, save a place for me in the front right beside both of you. 

© Susie Swanson, 2018

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Mama's Tiny Treasures





Many years ago mama found some tiny, odd looking seeds in her bird seed when she was feeding her birds one morning. They looked so strange and she was so intrigued by em that she decided to stick em in the ground and see what might come up.

She decided to plant em by the front porch post on the end of the porch in case they had vines so they’d have something to climb on. She kept em watered for a few days and then one morning she walked by the porch and looked down and low and behold there were two or three little green plants that had topped the ground. She kept a watch on them for a while and found out they were a vine of some kind cause they started climbing up that porch post.

 Out of curiosity, we all got in on the mysterious vines and kept an eye on them every day. They climbed really high till they reached the ceiling of the porch and then they started running across what I call the wall plate (mantle) of the porch. They soon began to bloom and the blooms were white. By that time we were so excited and anxious to see what kind of flower they might turn out to be. Mama kept saying they were Morning Glories cause they had the same kind of leaves but we were all still skeptical. 

Daddy fixed it all when he came in the door one day and said, ye better get rid of them vines, they’re them Ole Japaney vines and they’re gonna get in this house and kill us all. We all laughed till we hurt. Anybody and everybody that ever knew daddy knew he made up his own words as he went along and we never knew what was gonna come out of his mouth next. If folks didn’t know what he was talking about they played like they did and tried not to laugh in front of him but sometimes that was hard to do.
 He even called people’s name wrong, like my cousin Keith. He called him Cheith and it wasn’t cause he couldn’t say it, he never had a speech problem in his life, that was just his way. Keith would answer him and go on his way just like everybody else.

Back to the subject at hand, I’ll never forget the day a tiny gourd appeared on those vines and we were in awe. Daddy was the one that noticed it first and said, these are some kind of gourds, maybe they ain’t them Ole Japaney vines after all. Sure enough, as more and more appeared and grew more large they were gourds but each one had its own unique shape and color. Some even turned out to be very multi-colored and they all had different shapes. They grew about three inches and stopped. To say we were amazed is an understatement cause we’d never seen gourds like that. Mama and daddy had planted and grown many gourds before but none like those and the leaves were even different on the vines and that’s what threw us off. They hung down from those vines clear across that porch mantle like some kind of Christmas decorations and were so beautiful.

That whole summer everybody that visited was so amazed by those little gourds and even more amazed by how mama came by the seeds. She told everyone that was her lucky find. We’d always been amazed at her cause she could walk through the yard and look down and pick up a four leaf clover and I’ve never found one in my life.

When fall came in and it came time to harvest the tiny gourds mama gathered every one and put them in a big bowl. She said she was gonna let em dry out over the winter and keep a few seeds from some of em. 

When spring time rolled around she planted those little seeds in the ground, nary a one came up. We were all as disappointed as mama even daddy, especially after he’d found out for himself they weren’t Ole Japaney Vines. We were looking forward to another summer of watching those gourds come up and grow. 

Mama kept her little gourds for years cause they last a long time and they were her pride and joy. Mama is gone now and her little gourds too, and I only wish I could turn back time and watch her stick stuff in the ground and the enjoyment on her face when it came up. But that one particular summer it didn’t matter how many flowers or how big the gardens were she took the most pride in her little treasures.
She had a green thumb and everything she planted came up in one fashion or another. I know heaven is so much more beautiful with mama there cause she’s planted everything she can get her hands on. I can’t help but wonder how many tiny gourds are growing and hanging from the vines making more beautiful decorations in heaven.

                                            © Susie Swanson, 2018

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Not A Care In The World




Every year when fall starts coming in with that little,cool nip in the air and the skies are crystal, clear and blue as far as the eye can see, it takes me back to some good memories of those long ago falls, when we didn’t have a care in the world.

Having to hit the ole school bus after tromping through the thickets all summer wasn’t something we looked forward to but after we got back into the groove of things we found it wasn’t so bad after all, till we got the yellow bus fever. We found out the hard way after crying wolf a few times, it doesn’t work.
Mama used to say she wished school went the whole year round. But that was because we worried the daylights out of her.
I asked her one time what worrying the daylights out of her meant and she told me it meant driving her crazy as a bess bug and since we were always into one thing after the other, it was no wonders she had so many gray hairs in her head. I never did ask her what a bess bug was.

They had some funny, ole sayin’s back then but we grew up listening to em so much we took em at what they meant, not what they said.

Every year when the remnants of the garden were gone and mama had canned everything she could including the leftovers from which she made the chow chow, ( man was that stuff good with a big pot of pinto beans ) the whole family pitched in and took up all the taters and carried em to the tater hole. Daddy and the boys would get busy clearing off the patches before cold weather set in. They’d be nice and clean come spring when garden planting time came in.

They’d pile all the corn stalks, bean vines, etc. in a big pile in the middle of the patch. Sometimes they’d have to make two or three piles. Us young’uns could hardly wait till daddy decided to burn em. That’d usually come on a nice calm night or late evening when the wind was still. He always said it was better to wait till after a good rain and the ground was kinda damp. He worried about catching the woods on fire. He’d only burn one brush pile at a time and let the others go till later on.
If we were lucky we’d manage to save a little money and have some marshmallows to roast. We sure did look forward to playing in that fire and roasting marshmallows.
Mama would scold us by sayin, “every one of ye is gonna wet the bed tonight, playin in that fire.” I don’t remember any of us ever wetting the bed but it sure got me to thinking sometimes. Just another ole sayin to get us out of the fire .
We loved to poke at it with sticks and throw a little kindling on it as we called it. The longer that fire burned and the higher the flames, the more we liked it.
It’d smolder all night even after daddy got it burnt down enough to risk leaving it till morning.

Before we had to leave to catch the school bus come morning we’d run back out to the smoldering fire, grab a stick and poke some more till mama’d put us down the road before we missed the bus. She said, “uns are gonna ruin your clothes and they’ll smell like smoke all day long.” We were used to that since we had wood heat in the winter we smelled of smoke anyways, didn’t bother us none.

All the brush piles would be burnt by frost and we had to figure out other ways to have fun. We never did have to look far. We made up our own fun as we went along.

We always had to walk out to the main road a purty good ways to catch the school bus. We’d dare one another to stick their tongue to the mailbox on a frosty morning. It’d freeze our tongue to it and it was hard to get lose without pulling the skin off. One morning my youngest brother stuck his to it just about the time the bus came and he tried to get it lose and finally had to jerk it off. When we all got on the bus I looked at him and he was close to tears but wouldn’t let on. I knew he was hurting something fierce.
After that happened and mama and daddy found out about it they put a stop to it in a big way, or so they thought.

When the weather came in even more cold and daddy was home and not off working he’d walk out with us to the road and build us a fire so we could get warm. He’d tote a little kindling out and just enough wood to get it going good so we could warm our hands and when the bus run he’d be the one to put it out before he went back to the house.
My oldest brother kept on till he talked daddy into letting him build it and it’d save him walking out with us. Daddy didn’t take much to that idea at first but he finally gave in. I’m sure he came along behind us and checked on it after we caught the bus.

My brother was always good at building fires in the wood heater and cook stove and he could build a nice little fire, if I say so myself. The only problem was, when the bus came one or two of the other boys like to kick it and send that fire sailing.
After a couple times of doing this, it all came to a kietis and we had to do without a fire. It’s a thousand wonders it hadn’t caught the woods on fire or worse.

When the first snowflakes started falling we jumped for joy. We loved the big snows that came in knee deep. We’d get outta school quite a while. One time I remember schools shutting down for two weeks. It was all we could do to plow through it to get to the barn to feed the cow or to milk, but that didn’t stop us.
All we had to put on our hands was an ole pair of worn out socks. We were in one door and out the other. We’d throw snowballs at one another, make snowmen and slide down the hill in the cow pasture on anything we could find. Sometimes it’d be an ole piece of cardboard or if we were lucky an ole car hood. It’s a wonders we didn’t all get killed with all the chances we took.
We’d run inside long enough to warm up and eat a bite and back out we’d go. We’d eat enough snow cream to get the sore throat but as for playing outside in the cold it never hurt us none. We were used to it come spring, summer, fall or winter.

Some of the stuff we got into and done may not seem like much fun to some but we were just a bunch of young’uns having the best of times and enjoying the simple pleasures in life and putting more and more gray hairs on our mama’s head.
There was always plenty to do and we never had a care in the world.

© Susie Swanson, 2018

Monday, August 20, 2018

Making Do




My mama came from a family of ten kids, two girls and eight boys. She grew up in a close, knit family that believed in working for ye keep and learning early on how to survive and get by. Many times she told how they survived the depression and made do with whatever they had.

Back then everybody grew their own food but the basics were hard to come by. During the depression they gave out coupons and they’d pick em up at the little local store. The storekeeper would hand em out each month according to how many was in a family. He always had to keep records of what he handed out for the government. He helped people out a lot too. They’d bring their canned goods in and exchange em for something they needed. There was always someone in need and he knew he would be able to get rid of it all.

Mama said most of the time they’d just get a couple pounds of coffee to do a month or five or ten pounds of flour, and a bucket of lard with their coupons. If they were lucky to get an extra coupon they’d get a small bag of sugar or an extra five pounds of flour. The flour came in cloth sacks and their mother saved them up and sewed them into dresses and shirts.

Mama said that grandma would boil the same coffee grounds over and over till that coffee was so thin ye could see through it. Even after the depression started easing up and grandpa went to work for the WPA and they had a little more to live on grandma was still in the saving mode and kept boiling the coffee grounds over and over. My grandpa got tired of it and told her one day, now Sarie (Sarah) stop boiling them coffee grounds over so much. What ye doing, straining it through a white rag, you can stop now I want some real coffee not stained water. It was hard for grandma to change. She’d been in the saving business to long.

They always had plenty of cornmeal for bread since they grew the corn and grandpa carried big toe sacks to my other grandpa’s old grist mill every week. She said they only used the flour for breakfast cause they sure did love them cathead biscuits and gravy. There was many a morning they had to eat cornbread with their gravy cause they didn’t have any flour. Of course, cornmeal gravy and cornbread is the best eating around.

She and her brothers used to trap rabbits and take them to the little country store in exchange for some of the basics they needed. This was after they cleaned the rabbits up good and the head had to stay on them. My grandma knew exactly what the rabbits were worth by how many they had caught. He paid by the pound and she knew it. She’d make out a list of what she needed and send them to the store to fill it.

One time she and one of her brother’s that was the closest to her in age caught ten rabbits and took off towards the store with the rabbits on a stick and grandma’s list. On the way to the store her brother told her we’re gonna get us somethin good today. Mama told him, no we can’t cause mommy knows exactly how many rabbits we got, she’s made her list. He stuck his hand up under his coat and pulled out another rabbit. He said, I told you we’re gonna get us somethin good today. The only problem was the rabbit didn’t have a head. Apparently, while they were cleaning them one lost its head someway and he’d stuck it under his coat. The storekeeper always wanted them with their heads intact. He had a little shed over to the side of the store building that people hung their rabbits in.

When they got to the store and hung their rabbits they went in and told him how many they had and gave him their list. He walked outside and went in and looked at the rabbits from the door and counted them. He said, somebody’s counted wrong this time, you’ve got eleven instead of ten.
Mama said her brother spoke up and said alrighty, we got enough to get us somethin good this time. The storekeeper told him ye sure do, so pick out what ye want. Her brother pointed to a big jar of candy sitting on the counter and said we want a whole, paper bag of that candy. He filled their list and the bag of candy and they headed home. The candy was chocolate drops and can still be bought today, especially around Christmas time and they’re rich as can be.

On the way home they eat the whole bag of chocolate drops and by the time they got home they were sicker than a buzzard. They started puking and they puked all night. My grandma didn’t know what in the world to think. She was up with em all night trying to clean up the messes and do what she could for em.
The next morning they felt and looked like death warmed over. When grandma seen they were on the mend she asked em what did they eat to get so sick. They’d been taught all of their life not to lie and knew if they did they’d be in worse shape than they already were so they told her the truth. She marched them back over the road to the store and made em tell the storekeeper what they’d done. He just stood there and looked at em for a bit and then he spoke up and said, well I guess they’ve been punished enough this time but it better not happen again.
From that day forward they didn’t take another rabbit without its head and they never eat another chocolate drop as long as they lived.

To say times were rough is an understatement but they survived the best way they knew how and mama said they never went to bed hungry a night in their life. They always had something to eat even if it was an old possum baked in the oven. I guess that’s why she hated the sight of an ole possum. Back then times were so hard they had to make do.


                                                    © Susie Swanson, 2018

The above pic is one of my mom and her dad and mom (my grandparents) back when she was a young woman. ~Susie~

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Memories Never Age




From the time she was a little sprout
She walked with a happy song
Old dirt roads were the common route
Where so many feet traveled upon

Walking hand and hand together
Her little grandma by her side
Eight short years seemed forever
A happy little girl with joy and pride

She came to learn so much more
As she listened along the way
Visiting many, walking to the store
Was the usual routine each day

Or sitting upon an old fence rail
Eating an apple under the tree
Grandma gathering apples in her apron tail
The taste of that apple, what a memory

Skipping along, looking for a pretty rock
Running through the creek, busting it wide
Hardly a shoe, never a sock
Stumping her toes, she never cried

Her mouth running ninety miles an hour
Asking questions, curious as could be
Grabbing a crabapple, oh how sour
Her grandma warned her aimlessly

Walking to church many a time
Decoration day was an annual event
Dinner on the ground, a sure fire sign
The whole day they rejoiced and spent

So proud of her pretty, little, church dress
Her mama made, especially for the day
And those pretty roses, were the best
Sitting on the graves in a big bouquet

Carrying that little doll her grandma gave
With piercing eyes, blue as the sky
The smallest things are worth the save
Worth more than money can buy

So many memories for a small girl
Tucked away of a few short years
Her grandma was short for this world
Golden memories wipe away the tears

In her mind, she’ll never lose sight
Of her grandma on that distant shore
Her voice she still hears each night
Go to sleep, tomorrow we’ll do even more

Today she smiles with a happy heart
Turning back time and each cherished page
She and her grandma will never part
Although she’s grown, memories never age



© Susie Swanson, 2018

Just a little update. Please continue to keep me in your prayers. I'm having a very hard time and trying to get the right dose of steroids daily in me. They may have to change them to another kind since these are not picking me up at all. This is the life of an Addison's Disease Patient. They're also running other tests to try and find out about my other glands also. I'm waiting on the results of a CT Scan to come back to see if my pituitary gland is damaged or if I might have Hypoptituitaryism which means my gland is not working at all. I'm trying to keep my spirits up and leaning more on God every day. I get out of breath easily when I walk to the restroom and very weak. God has a plan and I'm clinging to his promises. What I'd give to be able to go back to that little girl again that I've wrote about for so long but I cling to my memories more each day. Thanks so much for the prayers and I'm praying for you all as well. I miss visiting with you all and hopefully soon I can more often. May God Bless each one of you.


Sunday, August 5, 2018

I'm From Appalachia





I’m from Appalachia where the mountains are home
And the land is pregnant with age old meaning
The gardens are planted by the wisdom of the signs
The corn grows tall with jointed stalks bending

Fresh winds sweep across these ancient hills
The echoes evoke like fragrant honeysuckle vine
The stars are more nearer and the sun shines brighter
On those old familiar pathways that were left behind

One can never know what lies beyond a hilltop
Clothes on clotheslines blowing in the wind
That dear, sweet voice calling, come to supper
Gathering around the table, where love is akin

Learning very early how to cook, can and preserve
From the rich earth that many wise have laid feet upon
Given freely and worth more than wealth of money
Such joy, knowing that now it has become my own

Such a rich heritage passed down through the years
Sweet as the apples, pears and each juicy plum
A way of life that no one can ever lose, take or break
Fine as that childhood wagon made from a black gum

And those spirit filled churches, oh what joy to be had
Plenty of preaching and shouting echoes across time
Age old faith handed down through the generations
God surely did design it all with his grace in mind

Wonders never cease across this beautiful Blue Ridge
The water runs crystal, clear down every hill and trail
Sweet as molasses from sugar cane stripped at the mill
Such a treat and humbly I accept, this life is so swell

These mountains I call home just beyond the horizon
My spirit dwells and in tranquil peace does shine
I will plant it firmly for those who follow after
In hopes they’ll never leave the chimney smoke behind

© Susie Swanson, 2018

Just a quick update, I got a diagnosis this past week that I didn't expect and sure didn't want to hear. I've told before about having Adrenal Gland Fatigue, well they run a Test on my Adrenal Glands this week and they're barely putting out any cortisol at all which is a very important hormone that keeps the body functioning and our defense against stress. The Endocrinoligist said I had Addison's Disease and I'm having a hard time accepting it but God is in control and he will help me through this like he always has. It'll be Steroid city for me the rest of my life and those things are hard to live through. I'm having a very hard time with them now and I'm just starting out on a child's dose, can't even imagine the how's or what's that's to come. I'm depending on God for that cause he holds the future. I wanted so much to get better news cause I'm not getting any younger. I just want to live my life again and do the things I love to do. Just keep me in y'alls  prayers and I'm praying for you all as well. May God Bless!!  ~Susie~



Monday, July 30, 2018

Dog Days And Weather Signs





The forty dog days of summer begins in the United States on July 3rd and End August 11th according to history and The Old Farmer’s Almanac. They’re so often said to be the hot, sultry days of summer, July and August being the two hottest months of the year.
The older generation had a lot of sayings about Dog Days. One being, “it’s dog days and snakes are blind, ye better be careful cause they’ll strike at anything that moves.” We surely did listen to that one cause we were reminded enough, especially while playing outside after dark or catching lightning bugs.

Another one is getting Dew Poisoning which means if you get a cut on your finger or hand and get the morning dew in it the cut will never heal. My daddy got dew poisoning one summer. He’d cut his finger with his pocket knife and was picking beans one morning and got dew in it and he went around all summer with his finger bandaged up and it finally healed come Fall. Mama told him, “ye know what did that and ye should have bandaged it up before ye hit the dew.”
I heard daddy and mama say it was hard for a cut or any open wound to heal during dog days many times. This pertains to anything even getting one’s ears pierced. I got mine pierced in the summer months after I got up the nerve to have it done. Mama told me, “ye shouldn’t have done that. They’ll never heal.” I can honestly say she was right about that. I had one to get infected and I thought it was going to rot off. If it hadn’t been for lots of peroxide and alcohol and babying, I would have given up and let them grow up. I still have to baby my ears and bathe them in alcohol quite often. I very seldom take my ear rings out except to change them.

There were a lot of weather sayings as well and I don’t know if any of them pertains to dog days but thought I’d add a few.
Here’s one,
If you’re hoping for a nice, dry day check for dew on the ground

When the dew is on the grass
Rain will never come to pass
When grass is dry at morning light
Look for rain before the night

There’s also one that helps to tell what the weather is going to be pertaining to cattle and horses, which means if you see a cow or horse take notice of which way the wind is blowing their tails. Cows and horses prefer not to have the wind blowing in their faces so they usually stand with their backs to the wind.

Tails pointing west
Weather’s at it’s best
Tails pointing east
Weather is least


Summer fog means fair weather is on its way and you can look for a sunny day.

Summer fog for fair
A winter fog for rain
A fact most everywhere
In valley or on plain

And the one I like the most is

If the rooster crows at going to bed
You may rise with a watery head

I just don’t know about this one but my mama sure hated to hear one crow at bedtime. She’d throw a rock at it every time just to get it to stop. She claimed it meant bad luck.

Just a little folk lore and I hope you enjoyed. I’ll try to post more later as they come to me.
Thought I’d add a little poem for some humor as well, concerning the fogs in August because of the most heard one of all. “For every fog in August there will be a snow come winter.” This one is kinda worrying me with August upon us cause we had quite a few fogs last August and quite a few snows. 

I counted forty, foggy mornings in August
an old lady once said
I wondered how can this be
as I scratched my head

Thirty one days in August
is all I’ve ever known
unless the calendar has changed
and the months have grown

I worked so very hard
to try and figure it all in
But the forty, foggy mornings
I didn’t know where to begin

And then I thought to myself
and I came up with a good try
When summer’s heat lingers on
there’s forty, hot days in July

In January’s snowy weather
there’s at least forty flakes
that lies on the ground
forty days for goodness sakes

How can I forget March
with so many windy days
The wind probably blows forty
I just don’t count the days

No, that can’t be right
I thought to myself
When thirty one days are gone
in a month, there’s none left

So I’ll just keep on waiting
August is soon to end
If there’s forty, foggy mornings
Will winter ever end??


© Susie Swanson, 2018