The land of the "rain crow"

The land of the "rain crow"
The old road home. (c) 2014 by RLMT

About the author:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rhonda L. M. Tipton, writer and visual artist, is a lifelong resident of eastern Kentucky.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hell may freeze over, yet home is still the sweetest place to be.

We're watching the weather closely here where I am. Already, we've seen a foot of snow and temperatures of an arctic nature. People all around us have lost their ability to heat their homes and to maintain light to function by. Few people were prepared.

All last summer, we struggled and worked. We raised gardens of an unconventional nature, canned, dried, preserved, and stored all we could of every kind of produce and wild berries. Our shelved sat full, stocked with an eye to long term comfort and health as best we could.

I am happy to say that our efforts have been worthwhile. The people who have helped us to stay in our home, the home we designed and built for ourselves, are wonderful people that we'll never forget. That house, unfinished and snug all in the same breath, has paid us back by remaining economically warm through it all, and efficient beyond any home we ever had before.

In a couple of weeks, again with the help of a friend, I'll be releasing via CreateSpace and Amazon a series of books under the collective name "Tooth, Claw, and Hoof." Titles will include, to start, a collection of dog and cat stories, one of farm animal stories, a re-collection of horse stories (new layout and no images), a collection of wildlife stories, and a fifth is planned that will take selections from the first four  and add all new material in with that. This is a job created out of thin air, as it were. As soon as the books start becoming available, I will post an update, hopefully with a cover shot and ISBN numbers.

Meanwhile, we're staying home. HOME. With luck, it will remain our home for some time to come. I have a lot of work to do, many books planned to follow this series. Some will be fiction (novel, novella, short story), some will be nonfiction.


After this last session of bad winter weather, I am considering assembling a how-to, book (tongue in cheek humor, here): How to Live Like No One Else Can.

Stay warm, stay safe, and keep laughing. A laughing warrior is a frightening thing, after all. (grin)


A recent Facebook posting:

Ivory shadows glinting blue topaz, thin and smoky light fading through nude sunset trees. Ice like diamonds, snow spreading cold pale satin across hills and mountains in endless ribbons, sprawled in velveteen grace where pastures lie sleeping. Brutal, elegant, a ballet of fair dangers. The words of winter come in the secret whispering of snow or the sorrowing hiss of icy skies. Ghostly smoke bows low and then departs for warmer climes. Only the ashes of a dying fire remain, waiting for sunrise, and the hope of spring some fine day.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Peace of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry (a personal favorite)

The Peace of Wild Things


by Wendell Berry



When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.





Wendell Berry, "The Peace of Wild Things" from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998. Published and reprinted by arrangement with Counterpoint Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group (www.perseusbooks.com). All rights reserved.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Once upon a time, children could play fearlessly in a small creek.

Original digital art by RLMT (c) 1990 et al. The Nevvies Playing in a Small Creek. 





It's winter, I know, and cold. Yet there's no sizable snow, and no sign of any coming, according to the extended forecasts of NOAA. 


Then I look at this... and I'm glad I was a child, once upon a time.


~ R.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The year is ending just as I [re]begin.

It has been a long year. A hard one. Every step we've taken has been a struggle, and most of the time, ended up back-lashing on us in some nasty way. It doesn't matter. We still keep plugging onward. 

Why? Well, that may be a longer story. First, let me tell you about a little feral kitten. 

     Once upon a time, there was a beautiful kitten. She was sick, raised feral, but someone saw her one winter's day and later took her home. For several weeks, she enjoyed warmth, safety, good food, and clean water, as well as cuddling. She learned to sing to the people who loved her. 

     Then one day her illness became much worse, and despite the careful care of her people, the sweet, kind of heart, loving little creature declined. She lived through Christmas Day, and in the  night stopped her pained thrashing to sing of love each time her nurses came to check her. In the darkest hours of the 27th day of December, a little precious beauty called "Bebe" passed on. 

     Others will be loved in her memory. 


Bebe was quite real. She died last night and was buried this morning among others of our nonhuman friends. 




Another facet:
     Yesterday we visited my mother in her hospital room; she's 86 years old and cannot talk due to a tracheotomy and machine support to help her breathe. She's recovering from yet another bout of pneumonia, and is very tired of the situation. We sat with her for about five hours, just keeping her company and watching an old John Wayne movie (The Cowboys). Mom can't eat, can't swallow: it's aspiration pneumonia that has her down.

     She slept a lot while we were there, and when my brother called our phone to talk to her, I read her lips and relayed to him her replies... to her great delight. He planned to visit her today, he told her, and her eyes glowed.

     When we left, she asked that we turn on and leave on the little battery powered Christmas tree we had brought, as it comforted her. Neither of her children are good about observing such holidays, and yet we set aside time to merely keep her company. She was frustrated yet grateful.


I'm doing research and putting together components for a novel I've been working on for years. I had given up ever finishing it. The first book I wrote was so... ugh... that I asked for it to be removed from Amazon.com's listings, which has been done. Then I sat down to begin once more on rebuilding a life.

In recent years, things beyond our control have pushed us into a corner. We have resolved to find a way to begin again, and this novel is my contribution. I have trouble with both hands, due to health issues, and cannot simply type for hours as I used to do. I type, and I pay in pain, stiffness, and disability to function for days or weeks. To get the book written, I am using Dragon voice to text software, a gift. To back up the files, I am using another gift: a portable external hard drive. I have a roof over my head and a laptop to use thanks to friends. And therefore, I revere my friends... I owe them deeply. 


Everything is now "grist for the mill." I pick up small things and or a glimpse of something happens, and a story it must be. It's a hypersensitivity of sorts, and as it must be. 



Life, death, and being.

And so I am here. In progress is a book manuscript called Song of the Rain Crow: Psalms from the book of Memories. To introduce you to the pages, here is a randomly chosen "psalm" (no, it is not a religious book, but an Appalachian novel spanning perhaps a hundred years): 




    "It seemed at night that the stars gathered to tell stories from time beyond time, their shared light a blessing on the universe.  The trees reached high, high, waving with gentle patience as a tickling breeze ran among them.  Far off, a good dog called sharp, "Who goes there?”  That warmth, of an early spring night, charmed her to silence.
    A night like this never failed to take her far back into the years.  She would walk old dirt lanes and remember things bitter and sweet, and then move a certain way and her raw old bones reminded her that time is a river beyond the ken of mankind, flowing ever onward, never coming to a safe ford before life is done.
    Memories of youth tasted of tart wild tangles of thorny blackberry and the cloying sweetness of ripe pawpaws, of that mysterious tang from 'possum grapes, and of cool mountain morning breezes.  She could still smell the hum of sunlight on the hay in that dusty old barn, left from that last summer.  Again,  she closed her eyes but a blink, and saw a young man stiffly posed behind a cracked and bubbled pane of old glass, severity of uniform and deadly rifle eclipsed by the resolve in his eyes."





May the stories in your life end the way you dream them, and not until. 


(Last summer's selfie.)


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Observations of a personal sort.

Under the distant eye of a cold moon, the forest sleeps. (c) 2012 by RLMT





Each year, I enjoy watching the seasons change. I learned to do this during a personal tragedy: watching my father die. He was a man of great enthusiasm and curiosity, a watcher and a hands-on person. I'm told that I have his sense of humor and constantly evolving view of the world in general. I would hope so... because the seasons do change, and while a still water may "run deep," a pool remaining still too long stagnates. Dad was still thinking of fresh things when he passed on, wondering what lay beyond this plane of being, which had become hard for him to endure.

Snow in winter, mud casting up flowers to bloom in spring, the heat of summer bringing it all ripe, and then autumn's celebration of the harvest. I must love it all, because I am a part of it, though the human seasons pass more slowly.

Climate change is something I see happening on a personal level, and from reading I've done in the past, I know it isn't the first time climate has changed. As an individual, I can't do anything more than adjust, plan, try to hedge my bets the best I can. It's not a perfect solution. It's not a game, though, and I do take the observations seriously... allowing that others might not.

We live, we age, we die. We eat, and something dies. It's a circle. Some cultures celebrate death and mourn birth; I come from a culture that does just the opposite. Skin color, belief, national origin, skill types... there's room for everyone. There's room to grow, adjust, work together.

Adversity makes strange things happen. War... or understanding? It's a free choice. I prefer peace.

Walking in the snow at night, big fat flakes spinning slow, falling on a thick mat of earlier crystals, each and every one of them different, and yet the same, is an education in diplomacy. Unique design falling into a pattern that will never be the same again, which will melt all too soon into a quagmire of soupy spring mud, where wildflowers will sprout because they can.

It makes me humble. It makes me want to walk in the snow, listening to it whisper secrets to the stones and the trees. I only wish the language could be one I might share.


_______________________________________________


Note to readers: I have voluntarily withdrawn my first book, Thou Shalt Fly Without Wings, from the market. It's no longer available on Amazon.com. Any remnant printed copies will be at the publisher's (www.readwriters.com), where one may reach Jerlene Rose on her cell phone during business hours. The number is (859) 771-3323; the main office's number is (606) 663-1011.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Do you feel dogged?


Do you feel dogged?

  A friend named Simon, enjoying a day's farmland outting. (8-9-2011, copyright RLMT)
























"Dogged." What a word. It brings up some interesting visuals, doesn't it? Giving my imagination free rein, I see dogs from the past. Dogs of every description, each of them with a kind of stubborn faith in strange things.

A dog who knew when his Boss had cancer. A dog who disliked certain people, even if they were familiar and had never harmed the dog. Dogs that ate certain foods or deliberately left certain foods alone entirely, even picking them out of soups and stews shared by generous humans.

The size and the shape of a dog depends on human-shaped predestiny,  varying from Chihuahua to Tibetan Mastiff, from love-sponge spaniels to hard-working collies. They're large or small, long-haired, wirehaired, shorthaired, blue or brown eyed, cold or heat or water tolerant, and altogether devoted to the service of humans by genetic decree... or not. Yet they intrigue us, become part of our "packs" and defend us. They babysit children, herd livestock, help us hunt, or just sit nearby and worship us with their eyes.

I'm thinking I need to devote a little time to talking about dogs. About a book's worth.

What say the readers? Would you like to talk dogs next, or cats? People are divided on the cat-dog issue, for the most part. I'm non-partisan; I like most animals. What I'd like to hear is your personal opinion about this. Comments are welcomed, and even encouraged.



Monday, October 27, 2014

The season of spinning leaves

I love spring, innocent, bouncy, mud-puddle happy, loaded with fresh life and no guilt, little sorrow. I love summer in all its green elegance, its sweaty ambition, its long days of procreation and buzzing activity. I even love winter, the cold minimalist season that so many people find colorless and unwelcoming.

It's autumn that intrigues. Mysterious, spicy, a loose cloak of many colors spinning, spinning. The spiral, that ever-turning circle of life, is at its most brilliant in the season between growing and waiting to be reborn. Anyone who loves the concept of reincarnation cannot help but lift a bouquet of lovely colored leaves to their face and inhale the scent of tomorrow's gardens and fields. Autumn is what it is, ripe and ready, decked out in colors of fire and lorded over by a crown of sapphire or blue topaz sky.

Welcome to apples, cinnamon, pumpkins, whispering corn fodder shocks, heaps of leaves with laughing children and happy dogs, warm sweaters, and a chuckling, happy fire safely contained. Oh, yes, and marshmallows and bonfires.

I stay outside all I can, if I'm able. When I can't go out, I look at the woods and the sleeping garden spaces and think, "Tomorrow." The open spaces call me. I was born to them, grew up with them, and will lay the bones among them someday. The ancestors are here, and many a redtail hawk has flown across this land, many a fox or deer or rabbit has trod it. This place is the place home came to be by accident and perhaps design.

Every falling leaf I see is a prayer, this year. Happiness and satisfaction tells me that tomorrow's hope, the same as today's, rests in the yondering past. Prayers are what the living call on, regardless of religious or faith affiliations, when prayers from those long gone have turned to ash in memory.

Turn with the seasons, spin with the leaves. Smile, laugh, and when it's time, set your foot down and make a stand. The trees know. They throw a wild party before the wind, cast away all they own, then stand and watch it build a new future, beyond snow and ice, loss or sorrow. The Great All has sentinels. Stones and trees exist slowly, with devotion.

Can we do less?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Going home was easy, staying there is harder.

Do what you can with what you have when you can for as long as you can, 
and try to aid the greater good while doing the best you can. That's about as good as it gets.

These mountainsides are my cathedrals. 
There are none finer in all the world that those built by nature's own touch. . 
~ Rhonda

Dirt roads will take you to places of deep learning. (c) RLMT

Autumn's song is played in vivid color. (c) RLMT

What a paintbrush Nature wields. (c) RLMT

Casual art, and the hope of a spring filled with life. (c) RLMT

For the winter months, there must be good, seasoned firewood. (c) RLMT

Rainwater, liquid life. (c) RLMT

From the high places above towns. (c) RLMT

Old time inspiration: the making of sorghum molasses. Acrylic on canvas, 3' x 5', original (c) RLMT

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

To light the fire..


The hills have gone the colors of fire. (c) RLMT




This autumn, this fine autumn, comes treading heavily, awash with rains and morning mist, and it has turned our beloved hills to the colors of fire. Each day that passes brings winter closer, and the scent of woodsmoke in the air rivals the odor of apples and cinnamon, the defiant orange of pumpkins, and a coat of many colors laid chill upon a land. A dragon's hoard of jewels could be no more beautiful than the forests I've called home since childhood.


 
A roadside shop, selling all manner of country-produced goods. (c) RLMT
.




 It is my favorite time of year. Harvest moon, howling thunderstorms, children playing among heaps of leaves, and granny-women stewing up pots of steaming, delicious soup, hot, fresh cornbread, and sweet wonders concocted of pumpkin or apple, and spiced just so. These are the memories of Appalachia, of the Kentucky hills.




An assortment of autumn produce: pumpkins, squash, gourds, and so on. (c) RLMT




Corn fodder shocks still stand for real use in some parts of the country,  stuffed with field-grown cushaws, pumpkins, and other squash, as well as gourds.



The once-busy front porch of an abandoned Mom and Pop type store. (c) RLMT


“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”
Ray Bradbury



In the center of this woodland road scene is the the shadowy outline of a female Great Horned Owl. (c) RLMT/RLT



The forests are awash with mist, silent wings at work among the trees in the low light telling of survival stories still to come, for the Great Horned Owl is our neighbor.  Hard times come and go, and the land stays. Days follow days, nights hallowed nights, and the between times are earthy magic, life and death, blood and feathers on the ground.


This is my home. My homeland. Beleaguered by greed and thoughtless action, it is still my home, and I will defend it as best I can while I may, for I am a part of it. And when I am gone, it will do well to defend itself against all comers, with my blessing.



A small bird will drop frozen dead
From a bough
Without ever having felt sorry for itself.
- D.H. LAWRENCE, Self-Pity



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Transition to harvest time.

Beet pickles. (c) RLMT

An oddly shaped cayenne pepper. (c) RLMT

Tomato juice. (c) RLMT

Several kinds of heirloom tomatoes. (c) RLMT

Sweet banana peppers. (c) RLMT

Every summer, we struggle to plant gardens. We mix in flowers with herbs and vegetables and hope for the best, using no chemicals. We save seeds as we preserve foods along the way. Many of our flowers provide habitat for birds and other beneficial creatures, so that everyone benefits. There are many low-stress, low labor methods of gardening, and we try all of them, including companion gardening, no-touch gardening (Fukuoka), raised beds, and more. The above images represent some of the fruits of our labors, such as we're able to contribute. When possible, we share with those who have less than we have. The earth provides so much. Beauty, peace, food, medicine.