Friday, June 23, 2017

Episode 34 - Author, Author!

A Little Sweet...

Crochet Stitch Markers

Teamoy Organizer Case for Circular Needles

Crochet Hook Set

Knitters Pride Interchangeable Cord Variety Pack



Summerleaf Shawl by Nim Teasdale

A Little Tart...


Mark Twain and his bed
Authors found on antique postcards.

"For Auld lang syne" - Robert Burns

"The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will. - Charlotte Bronte

"Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs." - Charlotte Bronte

"When the Frost is on the Punkin" by James Whitcomb Riley

Louisa May Alcott
"I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in." - Robert Louis Stevenson

"Wine is bottled poetry." Robert Louis Stevenson

"What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Postcards given to Beth by authors
"Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Easy reading is damn hard writing." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Bodice Ripper novels

A Little Unexpected...

La's Orchestra Saves the World

As Meat Loves Salt



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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Episode 33 - Words We Love to Hate

Greater Roanoke Postcard Show

Olde Liberty Fibre Faire

Courthouse Tragedy Play

Easter weekend in Meadows of Dan

High school students get a visit to Virginia Tech

A Little Sweet...

Leslie's OLFF Loot
Steampunk spinning wheels by Terry Clark

Beautiful bags by Twisted Yarn and Fiber

Uluru Queensland yarn

Beautiful yarn by Knitting Notions

Greenberry House opening soon!

Welcoming Samuel Ellis Shelor, son of Sammy Shelor and his lovely wife, Jordyn.

A Little Tart...

Words that annoy us (and others)

Suggestions by our Facebook friends

A Little Unexpected...

Netflix series to knit spin, and work on postcards by

Murdoch Mysteries


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Friday, March 24, 2017

Thoughts - March 24, 2017

“Of all the things I am not very good at, living in the real world is perhaps the most outstanding.” 
― Anne Tyler, "The Accidental Tourist."

Raised in a most realistic household (and the Almond kin-line are some of the most realistic folks I know), I really had to work hard to fit in. Of course we don't realize that at the time, even if we know we're different. I was a daydreamer, though I seldom got 'caught'. I could weed a row of green beans, yet be miles away/continents away/centuries away in imagination. In my careers over the years, it's not surprising that as a nurse I worked best with folks suffering from Alzheimer's or doing 'medical detective work' for insurance companies. As a bookseller, I could fill any one's arms with a pile of books, exciting them to buy the whole series ("or you'll be back tomorrow or the day after to get them!"). But...the very real world...not so much. I touch tax forms and break out in a sweat. I pull into a mechanics or make a business phone call and my stomach is in knots. I listen to "Market Place" on NPR not for the financial savvy (the good Lord knows that's where I'm totally befuddled), but for the people who call in and share their stories. Anne Tyler understands. She, too, is an Accidental Tourist. - Beth Almond Ford

Friday, March 17, 2017

Episode 32 - Perceptions of Worth

Virginia Association of Museums Conference
Chasing the Powhatan Arrow by Michael Abraham
Martinsville, Virginia

A Little Sweet...

Leslie made a baby blanket, modifying the pattern Cluster and Shell Baby Blanket by Sharon Frazier

A Little Tart...

Russia (The Old Regime) 1903 - 1919 "Personal Recollections" by Madame Olga de Smolianinoff
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery, 1908 - L. C. Page & Company

Photo of Beth's mother in a very special frame

Beth's special and personal valuables

How to easily clean silver plate and sterling silver

A Little Unexpected...

Jalna series of books by Mazo de La Roche

Music Attribution

Drops of H2O ( The Filtered Water Treatment ) by J.Lang (c) copyright 2012 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/djlang59/37792 Ft: Airtone
Don't Be Scared ft. Christine Autumn by Calling Sister Midnight (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license.http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/romancito/50155 Ft: Klaus Neumaier, Christine Autumn.


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Thoughts - March 17, 2017

“We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.”
― Thomas Moore
It does, you know. Involve courage and risk. That first time we are betrayed after sharing something with childhood friends or adults we admired, sets us up for choosing our words later in life. Yet, we yearn for folks to be open with us and vice versa. How many times have we thought...."if they only really knew me?" How treasured are those friends and family who excuse the quirkiness, who get right to the heart of the matter, straight to the soul. Give and receive. Perhaps the most honest and true thing one can do in this life. Thomas Moore, thank you for your Irish wisdom on this day! - Beth Almond Ford

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Thoughts - March 15, 2017

“I always knew looking back on my tears would bring me laughter, but I never knew looking back on my laughter would make me cry.” 
― Cat Stevens.

There is little doubt there are some of us who spend our lives 'looking back' - I write stories based on my memories, I help folks collect stories from their pasts, I work in a plantation home and tell the tales of long gone people. Laughter defines, laughter helps one cope, laughing moments make a day precious. My mother loved to laugh, enjoyed puns and knock-knock jokes. Our's was a house of laughing. But as I realized this was her birthday (they do creep up on us, don't they....those days that take us back...), I see her laughing and merry - and that image brings tears. - Beth Almond Ford

Friday, March 3, 2017

Episode 31 - Lending Hands and Hearts

Strange February weather
Subject is Volunteers
Great Volunteers in Meadows of Dan
Reynolds Homestead's incredible Volunteers

A Little Sweet...

Volunteer knitting and crocheting

A Little Tart...

Lots of quotes on volunteering

A Little Unexpected...

Granny D: Walking Across America in My Ninetieth Year

In Pursuit of the Common Good

The Voluntourist: A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem

Music Attribution

Drops of H2O ( The Filtered Water Treatment ) by J.Lang (c) copyright 2012 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/djlang59/37792 Ft: Airtone
Don't Be Scared ft. Christine Autumn by Calling Sister Midnight (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license.http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/romancito/50155 Ft: Klaus Neumaier, Christine Autumn.


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Monday, February 27, 2017

Thoughts - February 27, 2017

“It's a funny thing about love: you don't need to have it returned to love somebody. Loving's enough. -- A Prologue to Love”
― Taylor Caldwell.
My immediate reaction is "yeah...right....". But deep inside what I like to call my soul, I have finally gotten a glimmer of what this means. Simply loving is more than enough. And this encompasses all the types of love -- brotherly, eros, and the 'spirit' type. Our pets teach us this, as does much of nature ("how I love the bubbling brook"). Many people do, too. And the one certainty I have about the Creator (and it came with such force that I have never doubted it) -- is that we are all Loved. Regardless. - Beth Almond Ford

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Thoughts - February 25, 2017

“I've about decided that's the main thing that separates happy people from the other people: the feeling that you're a practical item, with a use, like a sweater or a socket wrench.” 
― Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams.

This made me smile, thinking about the practical. What am I? Probably not a very common item, alas, because I am not nearly as practical as I would like, spending way too much time with my head in the clouds. Maybe I am an umbrella - nice to have around if you can find it under the car seat or on the floor of the closet. We all like to feel useful, I think, and need to find our niches. I am not the one you want cleaning or organizing or even doing your grocery shopping, but I'm great for sitting with grandpa while you take a break, or working the election polls, or doing the children's sermon, perhaps. It is good to think about these things...and just might be a great writing topic for class! - Beth Almond Ford

Friday, February 24, 2017

Thoughts - February 24, 2017

"I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma." Eartha Kitt.
As the years roll by (and they do 'roll' these days), I am often amazed at how many things I am still learning (and not just patience and perseverance and the like...those seem to be forever lessons). For those of us of a certain age (baby boomers and up), we learn technical things all the time. Many choose to learn through such activities as the College for Older Adults at the Reynolds Homestead (where I work and teach memoir writing during those weeks of fun discovery). I love to hear someone say "Wow....I didn't know that!" I said it myself the other evening evening when I was having a chat with my friends Peter and Leenie Beenie. We were talking about Patch Adams, M.D. and his clinic in WV, which is called Gesundheit. Peter asked if I knew what that meant and I said, "Bless you?"!! No, it means Health. Duh. Wow...I didn't know that! -Beth Almond Ford

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thoughts - February 23, 2017

"The closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped." - Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher (22 Feb 1788-1860).

I've been sitting out on the front porch (wrapped in a throw, though 40+ degrees feels nice), pondering this quote. I've spent a large part of my life with the oldest of humans, starting with my grandparents moving in with us when I was 12 y.o., taking care of dad in his last years, working in nursing facilities, having many older friends, etc. And, in many ways, I am now 'there.' So, I determined I was qualified to agree or disagree whether masks are dropped or not! Most folks who are open, have always been that way. I think if we make the time to sit, listen, and ask questions (and folks in the 'closing years' now have this time), we hear and see a greater picture of the real person. It is more a willingness to delve into getting to know another than an age matter. And it is more if a person, whatever his/her age, has listened to their lives and is willing to share. What do you think? - Beth Almond Ford

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Thoughts - February 22, 2017

".....all self-pity is rooted in people taking themselves too seriously."
Tom Robbins.

I need this reminder every once in awhile. Granted, taking myself seriously is rather important for self-preservation, but there is that depth and balance thing. My grandmother, whose life couldn't have been easy though she had a positive attitude, taught me lessons for dealing with this very thing. She was always there for a hug and a hot homemade roll when life slammed me - and then a "little job" to do for her. The jobs took my focus outward -- taking flowers to a shut-in, reading for the blind, working in her garden, fetching something at the corner store, carrying the freshly made bread the quarter mile home for the family's supper. I know now, when I start the pity party, that I need to get out of my self-imposed wilderness - and go and find a "little job" to do. - Beth Almond Ford

Friday, February 17, 2017

Thoughts - February 17, 2017

“There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.”
― André Gide
We all seem to have some 'monsters' in our lives - phobias, certain people, insecurities. Some fears are warranted and even healthy, but this morning I'm thinking about those bugaboos that paralyze us beyond reason. At one time, I had a fear of bees. Any kind of bees. I was attacked by an entire hornet nest as a child (reaching under a pine for a 'softball' that turned out to be the nest). And from that time on, I could tell you horror stories of bees in my bed, flying in the car window, going down my blouse or up my skirt (truly). When I was in my mid-40s I decided I'd had ENOUGH!! So I went and worked in my friends' apple orchard for a few weeks as a 'cure' of my fear. There are thousands of bees around apples and the cider making process. It worked. Something that had made me a prisoner most of my life was now gone...and so have the crazy attacks. To confront a fear, I learned, is to take the sting out of it. (yes, I'm feeling punny this morning...the sun is shining, the crows are cawing, the song birds are full of music). - Beth Almond Ford

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Thoughts - February 5, 2017

“It is always quietly thrilling to find yourself looking at a world you know well but have never seen from such an angle before.”
― Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life.
When was a time you saw your familiar surroundings from a different angle? I remember being aware of this as a child, when my dear Cousin from the big city came to visit our little town in the hills of WV. I must have been 7 or 8 years old as I proudly walked her down our Main Street, pointing out the movie theater and Dairy Queen. And the first time I brought home a 'serious' boyfriend - seeing my parents and home in a new light. Or, being ill, seeing the daytime view from my upstairs bedroom. And most dear to my heart, the first time I share our "Wilderness" (cabin and woods deep in the mountains) - seeing the small river and waterfalls through new eyes, sinking down into the thick moss as if the first time. Am I grateful or do I see things as alien? Disturbing or relief? And, yes, a tingling of thrill as if seeing it for the first time. - Beth Almond Ford

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Book Review - A Year in the Maine Woods by Bernd Heinrich

A gentle memoir about living in a remote cabin in the Maine woods through the seasons of one year. I suppose many of us have the dream of doing this, but Heinrich's resources for the exploration of nature and knowledge of its many aspects make for a fascinating book about the inner world of a man and the outer world of his surroundings. This book might not be for everyone, since there are a lot of scientific terms, but even for a casual naturalist like myself, it was interesting. I once lived very near the area described in the book, but I discovered little about the area. I worked two jobs most of the time and just didn't explore and learn about the region. It was fun to see the names of places I knew something about and to find out more about the natural world there. - Leslie Shelor

Thoughts - February 4, 2017

"Because today, I think I'm leaning on the side of wonder.”
― Melina Marchetta
Because today, I want to look at things and people and ideas and marvel! I want to ponder 'why.' I want to be amazed, surprised, astonished by the very stuff I take for granted. I want to truly see my friends and appreciate their quirks and qualities. I want to sing along with the creek and birds and wind and awaken that little child who once lived in this old body. I wonder if she's still a resident? - Beth Almond Ford

Friday, February 3, 2017

Thoughts - February 3, 2017

“Know this. I think you could be special if you only thought there was anything special about yourself.”
― Pat Conroy, My Losing Season: A Memoir.
There is nothing that quite aggravates me more than someone saying 'they're nobody special.' It's not that I'm peeved with them, but the fact they can reach the age of talking - or after decades of living - and they've never been told the secret of life. We are all unique and special, given gifts to share with others, a road to follow. Somewhere down the line, a person who feels this way has been thwarted - or at the least - taught a false definition of modesty. Even those of us who were raised with love and encouragement need to be reminded we are special. When I was an awkward teenager, my dear friend Geoffrey looked me in the eye and said: "I wish I could be around when you realize how special you are!" Whew. Words that often reawaken in my mind when I am aggravated with myself.... - Beth Almond Ford

Thoughts - February 2, 2017

"An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine,
but because people refuse to see it." James Michener.
When I first started on FB - gosh, it's been a number of years now - I chose this quote as one of my 'favorites'. It speaks of the frustrations I feel when folks put forth a gloomy and negative attitude concerning our world. Perhaps I've been a pollyanna-type a few periods of my life ('life is always sunshine and roses'....), but for the most part, it is simply a recognition that God is light. And God shines that light all the time. It's a promise and I've known it. Through grief, pain, and aggravation, there is light. Through heartache, separation, and judgment there is light. And it is up to me to reflect that light. If I am mean-spirited or cruel, the light is deflected. If I am focused on proving my way is right, the light is splintered. "Let me be" an example, a torch, a tiny glimmer of the Creator. At times, it is a whisper of a single candle. Or the quick whoosh of a match. At other moments, I am merely an ember in the old fireplace, waiting for the wind of the Spirit to fan the spark. And so it is for all of us. Hide it under a bushel? No!! - Beth Almond Ford

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Episode 30 - Old Age and Eldercare Are Not for Sissies

Ferrum College

Honoring Reynolds Homestead volunteers

Great Books and Great Conversations

Pearl Buck

A Little Sweet...



PussyHat Project by Kat Coyle



6-Day Kid Blanket by Betty McKnit

A Little Tart...

Living as caregivers to aging parents

"I believe that most caregivers find that they inherit a situation where they just kind of move into caregiving. it's not a conscious decision for most caregivers, and they are ultimately left with the responsibility of working while still trying to be the caregiver, the provider and the nurturer." - Sharon Law Tucker

"The best people are the good old wrinkled people with a sparkle in their eye, a wink when you walk by or a toothless smile saying you are doing just fine." - Robert Wesley Miller

"Never tease an old dog; he might have one bite left." - Robert A. Heinlein

"I've never stopped wanting to cross
the equator, or touch an elk's
horns, or sing Tosca or screw
James Dean in a field of wheat.
To hell with wisdom. They're all wrong:
I'll never be through with my life." - Rita Dove

"Even eighty-odd is sometimes vulnerable to vanity." - L. M. Montgomery

A Little Unexpected...

Books:

The Mindful Caregiver: Finding Ease in the Caregiving Journey by Nancy L Kriseman
The Inspired Caregiver: Finding Joy While Caring for Those You Love by Peggi Speers and Tia Walker

"My caregiver mantra is to remember: the only control you have is over the changes you choose to make." - Nancy L. Kriseman

"Embracing a healing presence requires you to just be in the moment together." - Nancy L. Kriseman

Music Attribution

Drops of H2O ( The Filtered Water Treatment ) by J.Lang (c) copyright 2012 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/djlang59/37792 Ft: Airtone
Don't Be Scared ft. Christine Autumn by Calling Sister Midnight (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license.http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/romancito/50155 Ft: Klaus Neumaier, Christine Autumn



Download this episode (right click and save)

Thoughts - February 1, 2017

“People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.”
― James Baldwin.
As anyone who has read my thoughts for awhile, you may notice I'm not too fond of sayings e.g. "she made her bed, now she can sleep in it" or similar ideas on choices directing our whole lives. It makes life sound so dire and the result of a few bad immature choices (and who didn't do that?). But I see a truth in Mr. Baldwin's words when he says 'what they have allowed themselves to become.' Every single day we have the choice to be kind, not to be bitter, attentive to others, nice to ourselves, to be in awe of Creation, and to be respectful. Even if at one time we were not. We may have a history of things that make us hang our heads in shame, but today we can turn them towards the Sunshine, ask others to forgive us (or we forgive, as the case may be), and do what we need to do. - Beth Almond Ford

Monday, January 30, 2017

Thoughts - January 30, 2017

"I have read the story of a tribe in southern Africa called the Babemba in which a person doing something wrong, something that destroys this delicate social net, brings all work in the village to a halt. The people gather around the "offender," and one by one they begin to recite everything he has done right in his life: every good deed, thoughtful behavior, act of social responsibility. These things have to be true about the person, and spoken honestly, but the time-honored consequence of misbehavior is to appreciate that person back into the better part of himself. The person is given the chance to remember who he is and why he is important to the life of the village." Christina Baldwin, "Making Sense of Our Lives Through the Power and Practice of Story."
What's our immediate reaction when we read the above quote -- what foolishness, naivete, must not have been something 'too wrong', could never work in our modern society...? Well, the second time I read it - and looked at it as a 'story' - I realized I was raised hearing the same types of stories from the Bible. It's called reconciliation, go and sin no more, love others as you love yourself, forgive 70x7.... How about it - foolishness? Would never work? Then, why oh why, do we mouth the words? - Beth Almond Ford

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Thoughts - January 29, 2017

“Everything that anyone would ever look for is usually where they find it.”
― Margaret Wise Brown.
When I was a child, I loved the books written by Ms. Brown, especially the one about strawberries. And who doesn't whisper on ocassion, "Good night, Moon!" As for the quote, her wisdom of 'geography,' is just about right. We find what we are looking for....the good, the bad, the mediocre. Some of us have gone searching and we have found it there, too. Some of us have walked no further than our front porch and discovered everything we ever desired. The lesson is to keep looking, of course, but also to recognize it in the everyday, the simple and the profound. - Beth Almond Ford

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Thoughts - January 28, 2017

“It doesn’t take much to surprise others, but to surprise oneself- now that is a great feat.”
― Kristen Hartley.
As for it being a 'great feat' to surprise one's self, I guess the author of the quote must be talking about giving one's self a surprise party or a wrapped present or a blindfolded trip....since that's quite the feat! However, when I first read this quote (on my first cup of coffee), I thought - "well, B., you surprise yourself all the time....good and bad....no great feat there!" I surprise myself sometimes when I get a burst of energy and clean house. I surprise myself when I start working on postcards and realize hours of time have elapsed. I surprise myself when I realize an entire sleeve of Girl Scout cookies have been eaten...and I don't think it was the cat! I surprise myself when I watch a movie and the tears roll down my cheeks. I really surprise myself when I lash out at someone.... I surprise myself when a story unfolds and I know (know!) it wasn't me, even though it was my fingers doing the typing. I surprise myself when _________. You fill in the blanks. We do it most every day, don't we? - Beth Almond Ford

Friday, January 27, 2017

Thoughts - January 27, 2017

“Complex things are easy to do. Simplicity's the real challenge.”
― Robert James Waller.
Ah, "Simplicity" was the name of our old VW van during our first year of marriage. Sim was equipped with shelves, a small stove, a bed only newly weds could appreciate, a place to store buckets and the big kettle for heating shower water - and wooden bumpers. Instead of heading off to graduate school as I had planned, we took to the road, earning our living at the thoroughbred race tracks - living a dream, chasing a dream? Attempting to live simply in a complex world. Frankly, I'm not so sure these days that I understand what 'simplicity' really is. Even the dictionary definition in my huge dictionary on the stand goes on for row after row. I do like the one explanation that ends with - '....used to be considered a deficiency, but now considered a merit...' And the equation of simplicity with humbleness. I can live with that. - Beth Almond Ford

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thoughts - January 26, 2017

"In middle age we are apt to reach the horrifying conclusion
that all sorrow, all pain, all passionate regret and loss
and bitter disillusionment are self-made."
Kathleen Norris (1880-1966).
Perhaps there are a few of you out there who, like me, have made a couple wrong turns in our lives and blames ourselves - horrified that we royally screwed up this or that. For 50%, it might have been a wrong marriage. Or financial issues. Or recklessness with food, smoking, exercise, drugs, sex. Regret over how we treated our friends and family. Or...letting our hopes and dreams for our lives lay dormant. Now, there are many folks who do not have these regrets - they got life 'right' and I am in awe of them. One of the reasons I am a believer in God is because I have not become bitter. Years ago I read the words, "Love God, and love your neighbors as you love yourself." I knew then, it was Personal - the Creator knew and knows and loves me right back. "Ah-ha" moments in an otherwise desultory/aimless life make all the difference. - Beth Almond Ford

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Thoughts - January 25, 2017

"Sometimes people carry to such perfection the mask they have assumed that in due course they actually become the person they seem." W. Somerset Maugham.
I worry about this - and have since I was a youngster. I know, I know - what a strange thing to say! But from the beginning, people saw me as "Doc's daughter", Greenbrier's little sister, is she smart like sister K , is she as 'fine a Christian' as her mother.....the list is endless when one grows up in a small community. I rebelled as best I could, but was shy when the mask got askew. At the age of 17, I headed over the waters to Western Australia....as far from home as one could get. I was totally unknown, though as a Rotary representative there was a label of sorts. But I felt the freedom to actually be Beth - to say and do and act as 'me'! Frankly, it was life-changing. I've had my memoir writing class students write their tales of discovering their true selves....some can't put their finger on it, some don't feel the need, some wont admit it, but many know exactly when they discovered themselves - and they've never looked back. - Beth Almond Ford

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Thoughts - January 24, 2017

“Life is a drama full of tragedy and comedy. You should learn to enjoy the comic episodes a little more.” 
― Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle.

Through the years, I've sometimes had to remind myself about 'comic episodes.' They can be as simple as watching the baby animals jump and play with abandon in the snow. Or as profound as a surprise party. Sometimes they creep into the tragedy times, too. That is when they buoy the spirit. Right before one of my surgeries in 2015, moments before, the anesthesiologist laughed at the band on my arm letting the whole world know I was allergic to crab. I quipped, "Yep, I had to divorce my hubby from Baltimore." (Crabs are their passion....). The whole operating room chuckled. Life didn't seem so scary anymore. - Beth Almond Ford

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Thoughts - January 22, 2017

“All children mythologise their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won’t be the truth: it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story. ”
― Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale.
I have never thought about asking my writing students to tell about their births. It sounds like an interesting idea. Since none of us actually remember our births, it will be a retelling of the family myth. It will take some creative thought and descriptive words to describe how my mom and dad took their jeep up some bumpy very back roads in WV to attempt to get her labor started...."they crept slowly over the bank and crossed the slippery, rocky creek, mom holding tight to the window edges of the old WWII jeep, her hair flowing out in the wind, a big grin on her face. 'I think it's working, Harold!' If my son ever decides to go into politics (heaven forbid!), his will be the perfect birth for the campaign trail....the old wooden farmhouse, with an outhouse, deep in a West Virginia holler. This could be fun! - Beth Almond Ford

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Thoughts - January 21, 2017

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
― May Sarton.
Of course the question of who that self may be is what many of us wonder. We take FaceBook quizzes to determine our color, our animal in a previous life, our personality type, what cartoon character best describes us.... But do we stop and be still and ask ourselves the questions that just might reveal more than we want to know? At the group I attend every Tuesday evening, one time we asked ourselves the question: "Where am I spiritually today?" 'Today' was the key question, at least for me. What am I believing at this very moment...not what I believe on Sunday morning or in the scary dark of the night or during the awe of a sunrise. And spirituality is only a part of me, what about the physical, mental, and practical me? Do I dare to be me and is it really necessary (and safe for others and myself?!) to let that facade down? - Beth Almond Ford

Friday, January 20, 2017

Thoughts - January 20, 2017

“Don’t you want to be alive before you die?”
― Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See.
What is it that makes one "alive" or even feel alive? Is it simply the act of waking up, breathing, looking around, plodding through the day? The first time I even thought about the concept of "alive" or "dead" people walking around our communities was the first time I read "The Education of Little Tree" and the young boy looked around and said, "why are there so many dead people amongst the living?" (or something like that). Anyway, it made me pay attention to how I felt deep inside, the aura or light that surrounded me at various times during the day. Do I live in the moment when pumping gas in my car; do I expect good things when I walk down the road; do I approach each person as though he/she had a piece of the Creator within; do I smack my lips and eat this pie as if "it's the best piece of cherry pie I've had today?!" (as my father used to say when asked if he liked something)? It takes effort (sometimes) to feel alive and appreciate the moment. Sometimes it even takes work. Other times, it's pure grace and a shiver of delight! I want to be alive before I die, yes. - Beth Almond Ford

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thoughts - January 19, 2017

"People's memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive." -Haruki Murakami, writer (b. 12 Jan 1949)
Sometimes I will look at long ago photographs of my son (who will be 35 y.o. in a few days) and I have to really concentrate on bringing those memories to the reality of today. Or photos of the various houses where I raised him, put him on the school bus, cooked all those meals, took long walks on those roads. I've not forgotten, yet the memories are sometimes like a movie I saw decades ago. And then, like yesterday, I see a young child who tugs on his parents' sleeves a certain way, asks them a question with that look in his eye, walks with a certain firm swagger -- and I'm immediately transported back to real moments. Those are the memories that are fuel, that ignite tears and smiles..that keep the home fires burning. - Beth Almond Ford

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Thoughts - January 18, 2017

"It is a mistake to regard age as a downhill grade toward dissolution.
The reverse is true. As one grows older one climbs with surprising strides." George Sand.
When I read this quote late last night, I pictured two of my older friends, both men in their early 80s, both people who walk miles every day. They don't just walk, they stride. And both are thinkers, planners, dreamers. I don't think I ever had that kind of physical energy (and probably never will), but unbeknownst to these two fellows, they stand on top of pedestals in my mind - statue figures in motion. My life/work has been intertwined with many older folks who cannot still walk, whose minds are wracked by dementia, whose bodies are full of disease. But even in these people, there is a spirit, a certain cache of wisdom, a strong will that has been shaped by years of living. Their lives help in the reflection of my own passing years. - Beth Almond Ford

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Thoughts - January 17, 2017

“The superior man leads not by violence or by coarse physical acts but by the pure intelligence of a wise mind.” Pearl S. Buck
I harbor just a tad bit of pride that Ms. Buck was born in West Virginia, raised in China by her missionary parents. Her writings range from the profound to simply entertainment - vast quantities of stories. Many of her tales take place in other lands, but many are set right here in the U.S. Some deal with the big issues of life, ranging from politics to complicated relationships - and others are stories wrapped around the holidays and family life. She's on my mind this week as I'll be leading a discussion about her and one of her stories. You'll probably see some other quotes from her as I try to wrap my mind around her's..... - Beth Almond Ford

Monday, January 16, 2017

Thoughts - January 16, 2017

“Take care of your life force and always keep it streaming. Always be active and creative, and never ever stop dreaming.”
― Suzy Kassem, Rise up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem.
I'm not usually partial to the 'cheerleading', self-help kind of quotes. They tend to make my lip curl up and a little snarl come out. They seem to be telling us to do thing we already know are helpful. But (yes, the "but"), it seems like several folks have been feeling down and a bit bored with life. I've never understood boredom (and have little patience for it). There are dreams to dream, books to read, movies to watch, and people who need us. There are books to write, dreams to fulfill, art to complete, and people/animals/communities who need us. And there is that 'life force' within that especially needs us. I don't care what you call it -- God, soul, conscience, awareness, brain, heart, or the force within - it is there. It is unique to you. It is your responsibility to respond and nurture it - and to enjoy it. Keep dreaming those dreams! - Beth Almond Ford

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Thoughts - January 15, 2017

“I suffer because my interactions with others do not meet the expectations I did not know I had.” 
― Jim McDonald

Although I had to read the above quote three times to fully appreciate it (coffee is only slowly sinking into my brain this morning) - I finally gave a small chuckle. Yes, indeed, that is me. I am the queen of expecting others to be a certain way. I don't consciously do this, most the time, but I am easily disappointed when 'let down'. "How could they do that?" "They're smarter (kinder, better, insert word - ) than that!" Sometimes having high expectations is a good thing, of course, and works well into that "self-fulling prophecy" of teachers and favored students. But face it, even the best of spouses or great friends or obedient pups or teenagers or our very selves .... we just don't make it over the high bar every time. Inner peace learns to laugh at such expectations - and let them go. - Beth Almond Ford

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Thoughts - January 14, 2017

“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.”
― Anaïs Nin.
Ah, when we learn at an early age that Santa Claus is not 'real', does it kill the sense of wonder and mystery surrounding this jolly fellow? Maybe. Maybe not. How about when we learn that Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character? Or those on a soap opera are simply actors doing their job? Or that airplanes fly because of rockets and thrust or whatever engineering terms describe it....does it make it less a source of wonder? Or when the Spirit speaks in our ears loudly and clearly - is the mystery killed? Of course not! Well...maybe....a little. But that is when we delve a little deeper, 'study on it', as I would hear my elderly kinfolk say. And, yes, there is always more mystery. Don't let the possession of knowledge slow you down from the quest, especially for the Holy. - Beth Almond Ford

Friday, January 13, 2017

Book Review: Provence, 1970, by Luke Barr

Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr
Friends that know me realize that I simply don't cook. So why did I chose to read a book about a group of culinary geniuses that met in Provence in 1970, at a time when attitudes in America were changing toward food and cuisine? The main reason was that the book was written by the nephew of M. F. K. Fisher, who wrote sensuous cook books during the 1920s, 1930s and beyond. Yes, I'm one of those people; I will sit down and read a cook book, without any intention of cooking a thing, if the material is interesting.
I think Barr did a good job of conveying the changing attitudes of the members of cooking high society, although occasionally things got a little repetitious. I remember most of the players as famous during my childhood and teen years and it was interesting to visit that era again. And Provence, after all! - Leslie Shelor Allen

Thoughts - January 13, 2017

"To move freely you must be deeply rooted." -Bella Lewitsky, dancer (13 Jan 1916-2004)
Many years ago, I learned about the taproot system of plants, especially trees. This is the root that keeps the tree firm and strong, able to grow tall and straight, having many branches, and able to sway in a storm. For many of us, our parents, family, and communities were our taproots. Throughout our lives, we depend upon the taproot for continued sustenance. There are way too many people who were never firmly rooted, fertilized, nourished. Some are lucky and find fertile soil on their own or with the help of others. Some never do. The amazing thing to me is how, unlike trees, someone with deep roots can tap into that foundation wherever they find themselves, especially in a storm. - Beth Almond Ford

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Thoughts - January 11, 2017

"Passion crashes into obstacles; Reason peers around them."
Mason Cooley
I love to watch someone ponder a 'problem', take their time to think things through - be it a mechanic, a child, an artist. My father always said a good doctor is like a detective, unraveling the clues of an illness to reach a diagnosis. I think he came up with many a solution while working in his strawberry patch. In this day and age, patience is not considered the virtue it once was. We expect the broken to be fixed immediately (think of all the IT folks...heaven knows I want a problem on a computer fixed NOW!). But life truly doesn't come unraveled when things slow down a bit...waiting for the 'real' answer. Obstacles are chances to use our reasoning powers, one of the greatest gifts of life. - Beth Almond Ford

Monday, January 9, 2017

Thoughts - January 9, 2017

“Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.” 
― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Laughter is such a universal language, as are smiles. Right or wrong, I tend to trust people who have "laugh lines" around their eyes. Of course laughter comes in many guises and some of those are maniacal or satirical, but we recognize those folks and call it as it is. True laughter is music and soothes the soul. It is contagious. It lights up those around. There is no medicine that heals like a deep belly laugh (and even science has discovered this to be true). So, how do we keep our laughs and stay sure-footed? First, surround yourself with people who aren't afraid to let loose with a big guffaw. Make it a point to read or watch something funny every day. Practice laughter - it's actually a tool for group counseling (hold hands and start laughing until all are doing the same). And remember the old Yiddish saying, "We plan and God laughs." I used to think this sounded mean, but I look at it differently as I age -- God is laughing with glee as we live our lives to the fullest. - Beth Almond Ford

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Thoughts - January 8, 2017

“Sometimes grace is a ribbon of mountain air that gets in through the cracks.”
― Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith.
Simple elegance. Unmerited favor. To recognize God (or anyone, for that matter) as "gracious" is a high compliment, in my book. Along with compassion, mercy, and a refined eye, graciousness (and grace) is the ability to be generous of spirit. One of the fruits. Having lived in many an old farmhouse, in a variety of mountains, I always welcomed that little ribbon of cold air coming through a crack, even as I would shiver and wrap a blanket tighter around my shoulders. I can hear my father's voice, spoken on a long ago winter morning, "the cracks probably saved those folk's lives from carbon monoxide poisoning..." Grace appears in the strangest of ways. - Beth Almond Ford

Thoughts - January 7, 2017

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.
It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."Albert Schweitzer.
Isn't that a lovely sentiment - and makes me appreciate those who keep my spirit lit - and often times blazing! Thank you, my friends. - Beth Almond Ford

Friday, January 6, 2017

Episode 29 - Breaking Up Christmas

Holiday happenings: friends, games, and Beth's loot!

A Little Sweet...

Grazzka's Andrea's Shawl
Most favorited pattern on ravelry for the year. Andrea's Shawl by Kirsten Kapur.

Babaruda's Mandala Madness
Mandala Madness by Helen Shrimpton

Leslie talks about knitting needles; varieties available and materials for aching and aging hands.

http://www.swallowknit.com/

http://www.glasspens.com/

A Little Tart...

Mountain Christmas past and present.

“You can always tell what kind of a person a man really thinks you are by the earrings he gives you.” - Audrey Hepburn

A Little Unexpected...

"The Birth (Near Port William) by Wendell Berry

Music Attribution

Breaking Up Christmas by Jump Steady Boys

Reverie (small theme)
by _ghost
featuring Pitx
Drops of H2O ( The Filtered Water Treatment ) by J.Lang (c) copyright 2012 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/djlang59/37792 Ft: Airtone
Don't Be Scared ft. Christine Autumn by Calling Sister Midnight (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license.http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/romancito/50155 Ft: Klaus Neumaier, Christine Autumn



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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Thoughts - January 4, 2017

“Now listen to me, Buddy: there is only one unpardonable sin - deliberate cruelty. All else can be forgiven. That, never.”
― Truman Capote, The Thanksgiving Visitor.
After hearing these words in a play at the Barter Theatre one evening a few years ago, they have danced around in my mind. I didn't toss and turn in my sleep, but I pondered times I may have been deliberately cruel or been visited by such cruelty. These words were said to a very intelligent 7 y.o. boy who had taken advantage of a hated person's weakness. Buddy was a youngster who took this admonition from his best friend to heart and no doubt they resonated in his mind throughout his life. Let's face it - we have probably all done or said something in our lives, even or especially in our early years, that we would give anything to 'take back'. What we have is today. - Beth Almond Ford

Thoughts - January 3, 2017

"To be capable of embarrassment is the beginning of moral consciousness. Honor grows from qualms." -John Leonard, critic (1939-2008) 

I thought it was simply my Irish and Scottish genes which causes my easy blushing and even, perhaps, my predilection for embarrassment, but maybe it's actually the beginning of moral consciousness. Stop and think why and when you get embarrassed. For me, it is usually when I don't know an answer or I'm not as prepared as I should be....or when I'm attempting to tell an untruth. Or I misjudge a person or situation....Maybe, just maybe, I need to beware of the qualms, that sense that something I'm doing is wrong. The word itself so aptly describes how one's stomach feels at those moments, eh?! - Beth Almond Ford

Monday, January 2, 2017

Thoughts - January 2, 2017

"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope." Barbara Kingsolver.
Hope is one of those words we banter about like the word 'love'...."I love your scarf!" "I hope you're coming to the party!" But the concept of hope is so much more. It is often as strong as medicine. There are days when it is the only thing that gets one out of bed. It is the inspiration which propels us toward goals. It is the opposite of despair. As we dive into a New Year, hope is one of the strongest emotions, perhaps even instinctual for survival. I'm giving a lot of weight to this little four-letter word....it has kept me company for a long time and my goal for 2017 just may be to figure out what I'm hoping for! - Beth Almond Ford

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Thoughts - January 1, 2017

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”
― Jessica Hische
Staring off into space and pondering? Picking up a stack of old postcards that I bump off when I go by a table and end up sorting for an hour afterwards? Walking along the back road, enjoying nature, forming essays in my mind? Stopping to listen to a good segment on NPR? Taking time for a little exercise via a baton and a rock n roll song...or two? Reading a chapter here and there in between trying to clear off the kitchen table? Dashing off a note or a quick phone call to touch base with a friend? Getting out the laser light and having a play time with Clue-kitty? Deciding now is the moment for some meditation/prayer? Oh, I am the queen of procrastination and, alas, none will put food on the shelves, but they do add the joy and light and wonder to life! - Beth Almond Ford