Saturday, December 3, 2016

Yesterday's Winter





The mountains will soon be covered by a white blanket, a change is coming. Ice crystals will hang like the morning dew, frozen in time
across the wind swept hills of this beautiful Blue ridge.

It’s apt to be a hard winter better carry in plenty of firewood and kindling to keep the fires going in each end of the house. Time to grab the water buckets and tote in enough water to last or do without. Soon the little spring will become frozen over until the sun shines warm and the birds start to sing.

Dragging out the many clean and still fresh line, dried quilts, making more covers for the beds knowing one could be buried underneath such weight and never be found again. Made by steady and meticulous hands on old quilting frames that hang down from the ceiling more often than not, especially during winter’s hardest wrath.

The thought of fresh hog meat hanging in the old smokehouse makes mouths water on a cold winter’s day along with the taters and cabbage buried underneath the ground in that big hole that took all fall to dig, especially for preserving winter’s grub. And those can shelves  packed so full of filled cans ready for many a big table spread . All part of summer’s bounty and will beat a snowball any day.

Sitting around an old oil lamp after dark and listening to the scary stories while the cold, north wind makes its whistling sound around the house with a vengeance.  Playing fox and the geese on a home made cut out game board until eyelids start closing and need toothpicks to prop open.

Bare feet running and jumping in the middle of the bed buried under the covers until the break of dawn. Waking up to knee deep snow, eyes shining like sparkling diamonds gazing through frost covered window panes.

The smell of breakfast drifting through the kitchen door, anticipating  hot biscuits, gravy, fresh ham or tenderloin and occasionally eggs is about more than a body can take.

Slipping out the back door having snowball fights and gathering snow for snow cream, anticipating the sweet, frozen taste of only one of winter’s many treats is sheer heaven.

In one door and out the other never taking the time to warm frozen feet and hands, made for a nice, enjoyable winter even if it was colder than the North Pole.

                   © Susie Swanson, 2016



It's been a while since we can say the word Snow but according to the weather forecast we may be getting some late next week along with an Arctic Blast. It sure will be a big change since we've had a long Fall and such warm weather. Finally got some much needed rain this past week with more on the way. I'm so glad to see it and maybe it'll finish putting out those wildfires that's still raging. Let's continue to keep all of those folks and those weary and tired Firefighters in our prayers. Hope you all have a nice weekend. Blessings, ~Susie

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hog Killin Day




With Thanksgiving fast approaching I can’t help but remember my childhood memories many Thanksgivings ago. We called it Hog Killin Day. It always came at Thanksgiving cause the weather became cold enough by then to keep the meat. Sometimes if there were two hogs to kill, one was done at Thanksgiving, the other at Christmas.
 It all began early in the morning before daylight. Daddy would build a big, roaring fire and sharpen all the knives. We’d get all the pans ready in the kitchen. The kitchen is where I stayed, didn’t want any part of the killing.

Everybody would start gathering in about daylight. Family, friends neighbors and some we didn’t even know but they claimed to be kin. They all took part helping cause everybody wanted a big mess of fresh meat. When it came hog killin Day, everybody pitched in and when it came their turn at their house it was the same.

It was an all day event and the working was hard. Those big shoulders, hams etc. were salted down and taken to the smokehouse to cure. There was nothing wasted but the squealer when it came to a hog. Every part was saved including the feet and I’ll leave out the part about the brains. The head was used to make souse meat and there was always plenty of sausage to can. We never knew what a freezer was till I was almost grown. A big pan sit on the back burner of the stove for days on end, renderin the lard. That sure did save on the grocery bills.

 We looked forward to those big pans of tenderloin with hot biscuits come suppertime. We even had ham or tenderloin for breakfast with gravy and biscuits. Then the next day we’d have back bones and ribs, so on and so forth. And of course the Thanksgiving table was graced by hog meat. To say I was sure glad to get some chicken, is an understatement. That didn’t come to often either, just when we had a bunch of young fryers to thin out. They usually graced the Sunday dinner table when the preacher and all the other folks gathered in. Mama would throw in a big homemade banana pudding for good measure. We cleaned the bowls, regardless of what kind of meat we had or not. In a big family you learn early on to eat what’s on the table. We eat three meals a day and there were no snacks of sweet doings as mama used to call em. Our snacks were a big piece of left over cornbread with little green onions from the garden, especially after we got in from school in the evenings before we done our chores. That was in the warm months of spring and summer.  By the time it came Hog Killin Day our mouths watered for some meat. I can honestly say I’ve never went to bed hungry a night in my life. If we didn’t have anything but cornbread and milk it was more than was promised.


I know a lot of things have changed today, some for the good and some not so good but I can’t help but wonder what people would do if they had to go back to the old ways. My daddy used to say they’d starve to death for lack of knowing how to do. I long for that simple life when it didn’t take much to satisfy and what we had was worth all the money in the world. We were truly blessed and for that I’ll always be grateful.

                                                © Susie Swanson, 2016

Here's wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I'm sorry I haven't been online lately but I've got a whole complicated mess of sickness going on and spend most of my time in bed. Just keep the prayers coming cause God is our only hope. Many thanks in advance. ~Susie

Friday, October 28, 2016

Boogers and Haints





When we were young’uns growing up we were all scared to death of our shadow, especially boogers or haints (Ghosts). I guess everyone can recall an experience or two with that kind of fear. The older generation used it in some ways to get us to do what they asked when all else failed.

We always loved to play outside after dark, especially in the summertime. We’d run around the house playing hoopy hide (hide and go seek) or some other game we‘d invented till we wore ourselves smack ka-dab out.
We played by the light of the moon till we got electricity and had a porch light to see by. But when mama wanted us to come inside and get cleaned up for bed she’d holler, “ye better get in this house now or them boogers will get ye.” We never did tell her but she ran that one in the ground quite fast. But we’d go on in just to suit her fancy bad as we hated to cause we hadn’t come across any boogers lately till we were outside by ourselves or walking in home after dark. Those boogers sure had a way of getting under our skin and scaring the bejebbers out of us then.

We always loved going to church and went every chance we could get, day or night. Back then people walked everywhere they went and sometimes if we got lucky we’d get a ride on the back of someone’s pick up truck.

There was this older couple in the neighborhood that hauled a lot of young’uns to church on the back of their ole truck when their parents couldn’t take em and bring em back home afterwards. Since daddy was away from home working a lot and mama couldn’t drive and didn’t have much of a way of going she’d let us go with em. We sure did like riding on the back of that ole truck, especially with a whole gang.

The older gentleman was a preacher and they went to a lot of meetins (revivals and such) anywhere and everywhere and when school let out every summer they’d haul a whole truck load to Bible schools. Of course we loved going to our home church but we loved going to Bible schools no matter where they were being held at.

Now when it came to the ole timey night meetins and we couldn’t catch a ride with the older couple or someone else, we’d walk there and back. That was mostly our home church cause it was more close. Sometimes a bunch of the neighborhood young’uns would join in and we were really brave till one got spooked and heard a noise in the bushes or some booger walking behind us.

To get to our home church we had to walk through this long stretch of a dirt road that was always called the Ole Lane. There’d been a lot of tales told about boogers and haints in that Ole Lane, such as hearing a baby cry, an invisible horse running through with chains clinking, etc. We’d always hurry to get through that place cause it was always more pitch dark and that made it even more scary. We couldn’t even get a glimpse of the moon cause of so many trees.

I’ll never forget one summer I was about eleven or twelve and they were just starting a meetin at our home church. I wanted to go so bad and for some reason none of my siblings wanted to go, not even the neighborhood young’uns. So I decided to go by myself against mama’s wishes. She said, “ye don’t need to be out by yourself after dark.” She tried to get some of my brothers to go with me but Oh no, they couldn’t take themselves away from playing hoopy hide or whatever else they could get in to. After a lot of persuasion, she finally came around and told me she’d send my oldest brother out to the main road to meet me at a certain time after the meetin was over. We always had to cross the footlog and creek to walk out to the main, road to go anywhere back then.

After the meetin was over I was feeling my oats and kinda proud of myself for being so brave till I got to that Ole Lane. The farther I walked, the faster I got till I started in a good, little run. Every time my feet hit the ground I could hear a booger’s feet hitting the ground, running behind me and I was horrified. I hadn’t given much thought about walking through there when I begged mama to let me go and when I was on my way to church it was still daylight. But it’s funny how fast that can all change when darkness appears. I made it on through and practically run the rest of the way. When I got to the creek there was no one there to meet me and walk out that darkened road on in home. And it was even more dark through there than the Ole Lane. Tree branches hung over the road and the sun never did peep through, let alone the moon. I hollered for my brother and there wasn’t any answer. I said to myself, “I’ve made it this far Lord without them boogers catching me and I can make it on in.” I took off a trotting across that footlog and out that road but every time my feet hit the ground I heard someone behind me and the faster I walked the faster they walked. I got about half way through there and all of a sudden someone jumped off the bank of the road and went WOOOOO. I took off in the fastest run of my life in spite of the water running down my legs and they were right behind me the whole time. When I came in sight of the house I ran even more fast up those steps and jerked open the front door and scared all of em to death. Mama said, “What in this world has happened?”
About that time my oldest brother walked through the door panting for breath and laughing his hind end off. Needless to say, it all came together and unfolded in a hurry. I told mama what he did and she walked in the kitchen and picked up her switch and came back in the living room. She grabbed him by the shirt collar and took him out on the porch and switched his legs good. As she walked back in the house I heard her saying, “I better never hear tell of that happening anymore or I’ll give ye even more to cry about.” She told me I wasn’t going by myself after dark anymore and that she wasn’t stopping me from going to church but if she couldn’t go she’d make sure someone tagged along.


Those boogers sure were scary back then and they’re even more scary today, especially the two legged kind and I ain’t taking no chances, No Sireee. 

                                           © Susie Swanson, 2016

                                             Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Funny Papers





When I was growing up I loved to roam through the neighborhood and visit the neighbors, especially the older folks. Walking by myself down an old road was safe back then. I never had any worries or fret about anything happening. It was a very different time, unlike today. Everybody walked everywhere they went. There wasn’t many vehicles on the roads and the few that we saw were people we’d known all of our life.

 There was this one older lady we called Miss Maude and I loved to visit her every chance I got. She lived by herself and loved to see me coming. She wore her hair up in a little bun in the back and always had on a little apron like both my grandma’s wore.
She always saved me the Funny Papers out of her Sunday newspapers. She subscribed to every newspaper there was and they only put the funny papers in the Sunday editions.
For the ones that don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s the comic strips. We always called them funny papers.
She found out early on that I loved to read em cause when I’d visit her and we’d sit on her little porch and I’d pick up her newspapers that she’d laid down and start reading em. I loved sitting in that little porch swing, swinging back and forth, listening to her talk while she rocked in her rocking chair.
She’d tell me about how it was when she grew up and I could see the sparkle in her eyes when she got in a big way of talking. I kinda figured it out that she got lonesome and that’s one of the reasons I loved to visit. The other reason was to listen to her tell about her memories. That always intrigued me so much. I loved to listen to the older folks talk about the way it was for em in their childhood and the things that happened way back then. They lived in a very different time and saw so many things, stuff that I could only see through their eyes and relive in their heart.

It’d be close to suppertime before I’d leave for home. She’d say, don’t forget your funny papers and I’ll have you some more in a few days if you’ll come on back and see me. I’d tell her that I’d try. I’d head towards home cause mama always told me not to stay so late and be back by suppertime. I’d wear those funny papers out reading em so much.

Then one day she told me to ask my mama if I could help her do some house cleaning chores. That tickled me to death and I asked mama if it’d be alright and she said as long as I wasn’t so late getting in. I never neglected my chores at home. We all knew what needed to be done and we did it without being told.
I’d help Miss Maude put out her wash and hang it on the line. She’d wash one day out of the week and even then she only had an armful compared to what me and mama had. I knew all about washing clothes in the wringer washing machine cause I’d helped mama enough. Sometimes I did her dishes, dusting, etc. She’d give me a quarter or fifty cents for helping her. That was big money to a kid back then. It burnt holes in my pockets till I could get to the store.

Then one day she told me to ask my mama and daddy if one of my brothers could come and mow her yard occasionally. Mama said it’d be alright but she’d only let my oldest brother. He was the only one she trusted to run that push mower. It was the kind of mower that didn’t use gas and ye had to really push. Since her yard was small, flat and not big, it didn’t take him long to do it. I’d be doing something else in the house for Miss Maude while he was busy mowing. She’d give us a little money and we’d run to get home and show it to mama and daddy. It made us feel so big and proud that we’d earned it on our own. I’d put a little back and save it for Christmas, just waiting for the chance to go to the Dime Store in town. I knew mama and grandma tried to go just before Christmas each year. I always had in mind to at least get mama and daddy a present since they hardly ever got anything. Of course, they always said if we had food on the table and a place to lay our head we had plenty.

 That would always be in the summer. When school started in the fall we’d try to go in the evenings as much as we could and we’d sit on that little porch and listen to the crickets and katydids and Miss Maude talk about her memories. It’d be dusky dark when we left for home.

I miss those days and all of the older generation that lived around us. I loved visiting with em and listening to what they had to say. It was a goldmine of wisdom and knowledge.

Today the little house is gone, along with so many more. They’ve all been replaced by new ones. But every time I pass by I can see Miss Maude sitting in that rocking chair and me in the porch swing, swinging back and forth. I can still hear her talking and see her eyes light up when she tells how she walked to that one room school where they said a prayer each morning and the Pledge of Allegiance and how they got by during the Depression. My daddy had told some of the same but it never got old. It always brought sunshine to my heart and food for my soul.

 Back when times were simple people enjoyed life more, and oh how I miss those funny papers.

                                         © Susie Swanson 2016


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Cherished Memories





Fall has always been her favorite time of the year. Pretty blue skies, cool nights and after a hot summer it feels so refreshing. God’s beautiful, painted landscape and scenery takes her breath away and gets more beautiful every year.
 It also brings many memories to mind and October is and will always be her favorite month. Her most cherished memories are of a young woman that just turned eighteen that summer and her soldier and future husband that had just returned from Vietnam a year earlier.

To say they had a world wind courtship is putting it mildly. They met and started the courtship in August while he was on leave from Fort Bragg N.C.
When he left after his leave she was so lonely and heartbroken but they made use of their spare time writing letters. It was in one of those letters that he proposed. It was the middle of September and he told her he could get a ten day leave the first of October. They told their parents and started making plans for a world wind wedding on October 10th. It was to be a small affair with only family and friends since there was no time for anything else plus they didn’t have the money to spend on anything big or expensive.

He was to wear his Army Dress Uniform and she in her white dress. It took her and her mama a couple hours to find the dress and veil. She wasn’t to impressed with the dress till she saw the price tag and it said ten bucks. She told her mama it just looked to plain and her mama said,, “plain my hindend, I got married in a flour sack dress.” Ten bucks was a lot of money back then but they still had to get their Physicals, Blood tests and license so the cheaper the better.

They’ll never forget the day they went for their physicals, blood tests and license. First came the physicals and blood tests and when they walked out of the doctor’s office they were so happy they ran with the paper work straight to the courthouse. They walked into the Register Of Deeds Office and he must have been really busy that day cause he looked up and said, ya’ll here to get ye marriage license? They said yes, and he then said, can either one of you type? They both answered at the same time with, “I Can.” They neither one had taken any typing classes in school but what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.
He told them he had to make a little trip down the hall and he’d put the necessary paper work in the typewriter and they could type in the info. He probably hadn’t eat lunch yet so he took off like a hot streak. They both sit side by side at that typewriter and he’d type a letter and then she’d type one. Needless to say, by the time he walked back in his office they didn’t have it all typed out and there stood another couple waiting to get their license. He finished it up and they paid him the three bucks and both of them tried to get through the door at the same time they were so happy.

They’d already met with the preacher at his house and he gave them a little talk about how important it was to know what marriage meant, so on and so forth. All they wanted was to get married the sooner the better.

The next couple of days they were busy as a bee. They had to pick a place to have the ceremony so both their dads would possibly come cause they knew they didn’t take to kindly to weddings. The groom’s father had 12 young’uns and hadn’t come to either one’s wedding and the bride being the oldest and first to get married in her family, she was also skeptical about her daddy being there too.

They chose her future sister in law’s house cause it was middle ground and that beautiful little fireplace looked like the ideal spot. She was overjoyed and told them she’d take care of the flowers, food etc. Between her future sister in law, her mama and his mama and all those beautiful Fall flowers in the yard they never worried a lick about it. Another reason they chose to have it there was the future father in law stayed at his daughter’s house a lot.  He’d come and stay a week at a time if he took the notion. He loved to work outside, planting apple trees and shrubbery, etc. and her daddy loved to visit and did it quite often. All the while the future sister in law cooked dinner (lunch) and any other meal for that matter cause she loved to feed everybody and could whup up a table full of food in no time, they’d both sit under the shade tree and shoot the bull, the bride’s daddy more so till they heard, “dinner’s on the table.”
 She heard her mama say to her daddy many times “keep your hindend at the house and let that ole feller do his work.” He’d just look at her and grab his walking stick and hoof it up the road.

Come the big, anticipated day, it was drizzling rain and on any other given day it would have been so dreary but no sirreee, not that one. Sure enough, the groom’s father came but the bride’s daddy said he had to slop and feed the hogs. Her mama said, “any ole excuse beats none a-tall.”

That beautiful, rainy Saturday became a day to remember and cherish the rest of their lives and they set out on a long journey following their hopes and dreams. That was forty six years ago come October 10th and the memories are still as fresh as the morning dew and beautiful as an October sky.

They’ve fulfilled their hopes and dreams and then some. Life may have knocked them down a few times but they have been there for one another through it all. Marriage never promises a Rose Garden without the thorns.

 Enduring love that’s meant to be will last forever, especially
when you’re with the one you’re suppose to be. Love knows no boundaries and can stretch into eternity.

                                           © Susie Swanson, 2016

                                       10-10-70-----10-10-2016

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

That Old Screen Door



 We all need to go back to an old screen door
So we can hear the sound of it slamming some more

And those famous words, “stop letting the flies in”
Not giving it a second thought and doing it over again

Catching fireflies after dark and putting them in a jar
And lying out on a blanket and wishing upon a star

Listening to the whop-per-wills calling every night
The serenading of crickets, a special, kind of quiet

Running through the meadows in the sun kissed dew
Climbing high up in a tree with a better angle view

Can’t you just see those June bugs tied with a string
Or swinging really high on that old, tire swing

Going fishing in the creek with that little fishing pole
Enjoying a hot, summer day at that ole swimming hole 

Or riding that old, rusted bicycle with nary a brake
Running through the thickets, never thinking of a snake

Oh the joy of blackberry picking and eating a juicy pie
Worth every chigger but wishing they’d go bye, bye

Playing a good game of softball on a Sunday afternoon
Our mothers waiting supper, hoping we’d be home soon

Running through the broom sage in the cool, fall breeze
Sliding down snowy hills till our hands and feet would freeze

Nary a trail or sapling did we miss, if we had to crawl
 And scraping off that beggar lice was no fun at all

We all need to go back to that special, old place
Where all of our footsteps we can happily retrace

And listen to the sound of that old screen door
Slamming, slamming just like before

© Susie Swanson 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Pine Torch Tale




When I see an old kerosene lantern it brings back lots of memories and takes me back to a place when folks didn’t know what a flashlight was or ever heard of one.
Times were so much different back then that most people wouldn’t even recognize some of the ways people did to get by. Everybody used a pine torch or a kerosene lantern. We never had but one lantern that I recall. Daddy kept it hanging on the wall of the old smokehouse. He used it back in his Fox Hunting Days. It seemed the pine torch became more and more popular for lack of kerosene I suppose.

I remember many a night walking beside my daddy, mama or grandma by the light of a pine torch. Daddy always kept plenty of pine in the wood box to start fires in the cook stove or heater. He’d go upon the hill with his axe and find a big black pine and come back with a bucket full. He had a certain wood box he kept the pine in.
 My grandma was the world’s worst to grab a piece out of the wood box and light it up when she needed to go somewhere after dark. We called her little ma cause she was skinny as a rail. We called our other grandma big ma cause she had more meat on her bones.

My little ma lived with us till she died. She was a Christian woman and really believed in the power of prayer. She could pray some of the most humbling, heartfelt prayers that I’ve ever heard. I know cause when something got to bothering her she’d go up on the mountain above where we built our playhouses to pray and I either followed or listened in. I remember her lifting up many prayers for her two sons.

My daddy and my uncle did worry her quite a bit, especially when they both decided to take a little nip or maybe several when the mood hit em. Now don’t get me wrong, they were good, hard working men and believed in keeping their families fed and looked after but they had their short comings just like everybody else. But when they both quit, they quit fast as they started.

When dark thirty came and they weren’t home little ma would start walking the floors and asking mama, “ye reckon where them boys are.” Mama would say, “don’t fret so they’ll be in after while.” They both knew why they were out late, but just didn’t know the where. After a while little ma would grab a stick of pine from the wood box and tell mama, “let’s go see if we can find em, they may have drowned in that there creek.”
There wasn’t but four of us six young’uns by that time, me being the oldest. The others hadn’t come along yet. Little ma would walk out in the yard and light up that pine torch and mama would put the baby on her hip and here we’d all go out that dark road towards the creek.

There was always a little foot log we walked across to get to the other side of the creek. Little ma always worried that someone would set em out and they’d get drowned in the creek trying to crawl on all fours. The creek wasn’t deep at all and flowed down kinda like a wide branch of water.

 One night in particular stands out in my memory, more so. We were all walking out that little road and us young’uns were hanging on to mama and little ma’s legs like always when we heard something that gave us quite a scare. Little ma and mama heard it first and told us to be quiet a minute. We all listened close and heard it again. By that time we were really hanging to mama and little ma’s legs. Mama said, “here take this baby ma and I’ll go in front.” Ma still had the pine torch and she handed it to mama and we followed behind. The strange noise continued the closer we got to the creek. Us young’uns were absolutely scared to death but mama assured us it’d be alright cause she knew what it was. She said, “uns hush young’uns, it’s just your daddy and uncle.”

When we walked down the little hill and closer to the creek there they were. Daddy was on all fours trying to crawl across the foot log and our uncle was in the middle of that creek trying to crawl across it. They both were hollering, “Help us mommy, come get us”.
While little ma was Thanking God that her boys were safe, mama spoke up and said, “here take this pine torch, I’m gonna break em once and for all.” Mama reached up and broke a big limb off the bank of the road. She left the leaves on it and didn’t take the time to strip em off like she did lots of times with us. She walked up to that foot log and started on daddy first. She whupped him with that limb till he managed to get up on his feet and she made him walk off of that foot log and told him he’d better get towards that house or else. He was hollering, “Oh, Oh, Stop You’re Gonna Kill Me.” Then when she seen him staggering on towards home she walked straight into that little creek and done the same to my uncle. She kept whupping him with that limb till he was crying and hollering, “Stop Her Mommy She’s Gonna Kill Me.” Little ma started in the water with the baby on her hip but mama pointed at her and told her to stay right where she was and to hold that pine torch up a little higher.
 When my uncle seen his mama wasn’t gonna help him any and he’d had enough of that bushy limb he straightened up and walked outta that creek and staggered on towards the house. As mama was takin the baby outta little ma’s arms, little ma said, “you shouldn’t have done that, you just about killed em.” Mama said “If I’d wanted em dead they wouldn’t be up walkin right now and I’m sick and tired of them two birds worryin ye to death all the time and if this doesn’t do the trick I’ll give em some more of their medicine till I break em from this stuff.” Mama knew it couldn’t have hurt em to bad cause she didn’t strip the leaves off the limb. She just whupped em good with it.

Little ma didn’t say anymore and we all walked back to the house by the light of the pine torch. Daddy and my uncle managed to stagger on in home without a pine torch cause when we walked in the door there laid my uncle on the couch and daddy had managed to make it to the bed.
Mama put us all to bed and then I heard her tell little ma, “ I hated to do what I did in front of ye and all these young’uns but I’m tired of seein ye worry yourself to death all the time.” Little ma didn’t say anything back, just went on to bed. The only thing I noticed different the next morning was a few scratches on their face, nose and arms and how nice they talked to mama. Sugar wouldn’t melt in their mouth.

I guess, after many nights of an old mother worrying about her boys out karousin and going to that little creek with a pine torch in her hand, it all came to an end that one night, when mama decided to sober em both up really fast. But little ma kept praying for her boys as long as she lived and anybody else that needed it and those pine torches continued to come in handy every step we made.


© Susie Swanson, 2016