Saturday, May 29, 2010

Raised Bed Gardening

Memory Garden

Kaye and I are enjoying raised bed gardening! David and I made some partial raised beds when we first landscaped the house, but my tradition was that vegetables were grown in rows.  Part of Kaye's dowery included raised beds that Jason had made for Kaye's backyard on Winthrop.  I reconstructed those and have added more.  We could have named this blog, "Absentee Gardening" because it seems we can manage the raised beds more effectively than we could a conventional garden.

These three beds were Kaye's. They now contain broccoli and cabbage; beets, lettuce, radishes, and kale; and onions.

Sugar Snap peas- probably followed by green beans.

This 6'x2' bed is a good size and shape, especially if you could only work it from one side. Three feet width is good if you can access both sides.

Railroad ties seem to make an optimum size. Ties are 8 feet long and half ties as ends make a bed 8'x3'
which allowed us to use landscape fabric as a ground cover/ weed and moisture barrier.  We are trying bush type zucchini,  yellow squash, and cucumber.  Rhubarb is in the background and we haven't tried it in a raised bed yet.

I am pleased with this new addition. It should last for a long time since it is made from locust logs.  I salvaged these from the burn pile.  Our neighbor is an arborist and had removed this tree from another garden. Little pepper plants, an egg plant, a container tomato plant and several "guard" marigolds are in this 5 day old bed with zinnias planted in the corners.

This is the newest of the raised beds. The big logs were heavy to wrestle into place.  Similar plants as the first log bed without the zinnias.

Our most productive beds are the patio beds that David and I constructed soon after we moved to the Hill.

The bed to the left has cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, and peppers. The bed to the right is our herb bed.

Lemon Balm can get out of control- we can't drink enough tea made from its leaves.  We also have cilantro, dill, common sage, rosemary, basil, oregano,  and thyme.

The bed below the patio has produced a good crop of tomatoes and can be watered by a soaker hose connected to two rain barrels.  Reused tree tubs are used to grow lettuce and spinach.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Community Garden at Refuge Health Center

We enjoyed working with a dozen or so others on Saturday to put in a vegetable garden for patients at the Refuge (free) Medical Clinic in downtown Lexington.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


My Sister-in-Law, Eileen Jones, sent this to me and I thought it was good enough to put wher I could find it:

Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure. Standing near the security gate, they hugged, and the mother said, 'I love you, and I pray you enough.'

The daughter replied, 'Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I pray you enough, too, Mom.'

They kissed, and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there, I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in by asking, 'Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?'

Yes, I have,' I replied. 'Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?'

'Well...I'm not as young as I once was, she lives so far away & has her own busy life.  I have some challenges ahead, and the reality is - her next trip back will be for my funeral,' she said.

'When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, 'I pray you enough.' May I ask what that means?'

She began to smile. 'That's a prayer that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.' She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and she smiled even more. 'When we said, 'I pray you enough,' we wanted the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.'

Then, turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory.

     I pray you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.

     I pray you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.

     I pray you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and

     I pray you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

     I pray you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

     I pray you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

     I pray you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

     Then, she began to cry, and walked away.

They say, it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but an entire life to forget them.

* Only if you pray, send this to the people you will never forget, and remember to send it back to the person who sent it to you.  If you don't send it to anyone, it may mean that you are in such a hurry that you have forgotten your friends.


To all my friends and loved ones,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In My Daughter's Eyes

For a very long time, I have been trying to figure out how to post this tribute to my nieces (as I obviously have no daughters!) If this works, turn up the volume and I hope you enjoy!

By the way, I started putting this together about 5 years ago. My plan was to give it on a DVD to the mothers of these girls for Christmas or Mother's day or something. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans. . . Anyway, I got sidetracked and didn't do it and about three years ago or so, I updated it a little. I started trying to upload it to this blog about two years ago, and until yesterday had been unsuccessful. I did use it in a Homemaker lesson about Gifts from the Heart, several years ago. So, lots of ladies in South Central Kentucky have seen this, even if it has taken me all these years to get it to a place where family could see.

Monday, May 17, 2010

W. J. Absher Chapter 1

William Jesse Absher was born on September 29, 1920, although his birth certificate marks the date as Sept 21.  His sisters who were "walking family encyclopedias" were sure the 29th date was correct and attributed the error to a country doctor who was sometimes slow about getting birth records filed.  He was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, but was moved to Montgomery County as an infant.  His dad, William Avery, was an entrepreneur and owned and operated sawmills and general stores about everywhere he went.  He moved his family to Montgomery County after buying a stand of timber.  He bought a house and General store on the Catawba Road in the McDonalds Mill community about a mile from the Roanoke County line.
            The Absher family was already large when W. J. was born.  His older brothers were Tivis, Frazier, Limuell, Harold and Creed. The older sisters were Helen, Viola, and Willie.  Two sisters, Fannie and Thelma, were born in Montgomery County.  William A. was a traveling man and was not always faithful to the mother of all those children, the former Dallas Allifair Cook.  Apparent infidelity produced a half brother for the Absher kids, Avery.  Avery Absher was taken in and raised like a son by Uncle Tivis’ family.  It is an interesting side note that W. J, and his half brother, the youngest of W. A.'s sons, finally got the names William and Avery.  Records indicate that these were both family names used over several generations.  William Avery used the abbreviation, Wm., to designate himself and used "Wm. Absher and Sons" for his business title.

  Bill’s mother, Dallas Allifair Cook, was from Richlands, VA.   Her brother, B. J. Cook, served as mayor of Richlands for several years.

  Much happened in Bill's early life but the tragedy of his father’s murder had to be a major obstacle for the young boy to overcome.  There was always speculation as to why  William Avery was murdered but the story William J. told me is as follows:

Wm. was working in Tazewell County.  He had a half sister, Cynthia.  Cynthia married John McGee, but their marriage was troubled.  John attempted to patch up the marriage by purchasing a nearly new Model A Ford for her to drive.  Must have been "too little, too late," since she told John that she was going to sell the car.  John’ response was that he would kill anyone that bought the car.  It’s unclear why Wm. proceeded to buy the car; had he known about the threat, did he think it had been retracted, or he just didn’t think it would happen?  At any rate he purchased the car and was driving Cynthia, her mother and a young boy up the dirt road from the coal tipple at Raven in Tazewell County toward Buchanan County.  They met a logging truck and pulled over to let it pass.  The truck was driven by John McGee and when he saw who was in the car he got out of his truck rather than passing and pulled out a gun, aiming it at Wm..  Wm. Raised his arm or reached for the gun but John pulled the trigger shooting William in the chest, killing him instantly.   John, in his enraged state, shot his estranged wife and her mother as they sat stunned in the car. The young boy was spared John’s wrath. The two wounded women survived the shots but at the scene, it appeared to be a massacre.  Wm’s brother, Charles, was first on the scene, and he summoned the law.  A deputy sheriff and a posse came and followed John to his house that was nearby.  John took refuge under his porch and began spraying bullets at the approaching posse.  Gunfire was returned and a bullet, allegedly from the deputy’s gun, struck and killed John.  This ended the case, so there was never a trial that may have detailed the events that led up to the shooting.

This all took place in the Spring of 1931.  Wm. was buried in a lonely grave at the crest of a ridge just up the hill from where he died.  His grave and head stone were moved to Blacksburg on October 31, 2003.
The tomb stone name is W. M. Absher but should have been "Wm." or "Wm. A. "
Growing up fast.

Bill was 10 years old when his all happened.  He lived at home with his mother and the younger brothers and sisters.  Most of the Absher kids left home to find work in their teens so it wasn’t long until Bill was the man of the house.  He felt the responsibility of caring for his mother and doing what he could to keep the subsistence farm producing something that they could eat or sell.  Bill grew up hunting, not as a sportsman but as a provider of food for the meager Absher table.  He always spoke of fried squirrel as a delicacy on the Absher table.  When the garden wasn’t in, cornmeal mush might be all that was on the table besides milk and butter that came from their few cows, unless Bill had shot a rabbit or a squirrel.  Their farm flock of chickens produced an occasional Sunday dinner.  This made the family look forward to Thanksgiving, since that was generally hog killing time.  Butchering was a community activity.  Hogs were fed to get heavy and fat so that there would be sufficient lard and cured meats to last most of the year.  Dressing hogs as a community activity made a lot of sense, since the hair had to be scalded and scraped off the pork carcasses.  Water was heated over a wood fire, and it took a lot of manpower to handle, scrape and hang the big carcasses.  Most farms had their own smoke houses, so the bellies, hams and shoulders were salted and smoked so they could keep for a long time without refrigeration.

Bill’s formal education began pretty informally in the old building that still stands
 (2010) on what used to be the Stanley Wright place, across the road from the home place and up the road a short distance toward the church.  The building was a church (before about 1880) and became an Odd Fellows’ Lodge.  The Lodge allowed the room downstairs to be used as a school.  The second school he attended was near Dry Run.  As the name implies, Dry Run is a streambed that is dry most of the time.  A dirt and/or gravel roadbed sometimes follows the streambed, and in wet weather the stream may use the roadbed.  Dry Run is a connector lane between the Catawba Road  (VA 785) and the Back Road. The Dry Run School was remodeled and a brick veneer was added by Bill Grub, fully disguising the old seat of education.  The third building in which Bill attended school also still stands and has been converted to an attractive home by Lonnie Agnew.  The lines of the building suggest a well-built structure.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Lady in the window

For as long as I can remember, Dad got most of the attention in the family.  Not that I am complaining for the lack of attention, for I had plenty, but my point is about how Mother always cared for him.  In my early years that I can remember,  Dad was a carpenter.  I suspect he was the only carpenter that had brogan shoes polished by his wife.  I remember that his overalls or coveralls were always clean and pressed, probably had a crease and they may have been starched. When Dad moved to mostly inside work as lumber company manager and, later, the manager of his own business, he wore khakis and colored shirts, all carefully washed, starched, and pressed by Mother.  Dad liked shirts with two chest pockets; most new shirts had only one.  Mother would cut enough material off of the excess shirt tail and sew on a second pocket that perfectly matched the first.  And his soiled clothes hardly hit the floor because she grabbed them to go to the washing machine.  A lot of the time clothes were washed in a wringer washing machine and dried on a clothes line.  Dad always had a hot breakfast and a cooked supper ready for him as soon as he came home from work. While money was tight, Dad did not want  Mom to work outside the home. But she worked long hours at home.  She kept the house spotless and our clothes clean and starched. The family didn't have money for a lot of expensive clothes, but my sister and I had some of the fanciest clothes in school.  I was a cowboy fan with the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers being favorites.  Movie star cowboys wore fancy clothes.  Mother made me a fancy western shirt with hand-embroidered flowers all over it.  Sounds a little gaudy, but it was not;  Mom didn't like anything too flashy.  I wore that shirt in several early school pictures.  I remember  Mom made  Barbara Jean plaid dresses with a lot of lace at the seams.  She also polished our shoes like she did Dad's.  She demanded we respect people in responsible positions.   It worked on us kids but her tidiness left me being pretty sloppy.  I had not learned to pick up after myself.

Now about the title: Dad built the family a new house in 1950. A feature is the picture window that looks over Harding Road and across the hollow to the Teske Orchard.  The picture window was a favorite vantage point to check the weather,  observe local traffic, and check on pedestrians going up or down the road.  We were among the first to see emergency vehicles headed toward Luster's Gate, and a few phone calls generally yielded a report as to how far  the vehicle went and why.  Mother was home the most, so she used the window most.  After she needed to lead a less active life, she has generally been at the window in daylight hours except for meal times.  She and undertaker  Kenneth McCoy like to kid each other.  He told her he wanted a picture of her at the window with a phone in her hand for her obituary !

Mother told me one time that the two things she liked to do best were writing notes and cleaning house.  When I married and left home long-distance phone calls were expensive and we didn't have a phone in Oklahoma so correspondence was mostly by USPS. I think mother wrote us a letter every Sunday afternoon.  I wish I had kept them all or at least a sample.  Her notes were fun to read.  If she had a thought on a subject other than what she was writing about, she would just insert the thought.  It thrilled her the year we got postage stamps with her picture on them-but she wanted to keep them all!

Mom has always had an open ear for almost anyone.  She listened to people who had few friends and many complaints.  This endeared her to people that otherwise felt neglected.

Even as she has begun to have short-term memory loss she has maintained a cheery disposition. She loves to laugh with sisters and grandchildren.  She loves to pick on Pastor Reggie and she is constantly concerned about Dad's comfort and health.  She has to have her hair done once a week and she likes to wear the nice clothes that  Barbara Jean buys for her.  But other than that her thoughts are rarely on herself.

Pay it Forward

My Dad, Bill Absher is one who always paid it forward.  I have been reminded of that fact frequently in the last several years.  We bought the Poff house next to the folks 3 or 4 years ago and needed a lot of assistance in remodeling it.  At least two craftsmen that we used gave Dad credit for helping them get started in their respective trades. I've had several conversations with Jewel at the Bug Shop about how Dad worked with him to replace one window at a time in his starter home.  A neighbor that Dad allowed to use his pasture stops by frequently with eggs.

I hope the Blacksburg United Methodist Church gives all their senior citizens the care my folks get, but I don't  see how they could.  Since my parents have been pretty much homebound, the broadcast of the Sunday 11 A. M. service has been important to them.  The church needed to stop that, but the pastor knew how they counted on hearing the service.  He brought them a speaker phone, and the sound technician at the church used the same set-up he used for the radio to give the senior Abshers their own broadcast.

This reminds me of the service Dad provided to BUMC as a trustee and as an unpaid maintenance man. He was always at the church.   One of my favorite stories is about Mother calling the church and asking the secretary to add some home chores she had to Bill Absher's to-do list.  Dad got to be friends with Mark Smith soon after he and his family moved to Blacksburg.  Dad let the Smiths have a garden on his property and coached the son in woodworking for his Eagle Scout project. Mark taught Dad's Sunday School Class for years but moved from Blacksburg 2 or 3 years ago.  Now when he comes back for a visit, he teaches Sunday School in the folk's living room.  He has taught classes of 3 to 15 in that room.  A week rarely goes by without visitors from the church.

Diane Tony is a good friend of my sister.  Her dad operated a saw mill in the valley. She has organized private concerts and sing-alongs in the Absher living room.  And I have cousins that are faithful in their visits.  Of course, my sister's care is constant.  These examples are just a few of the reminders of how Dad served customers, family, church, and friends and they remember to pay back.

This is not only a reminder for me to "pay it forward" but to pay back those that have done so much for me.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers Day Celebration

 Kaye and I celebrated with Mom, Karen and Neal, Evelyn and Donna Jo. Mom is 89 so each celebration is a special occasion.

Mother loves flowers so we went to Crow's Nest and got her some more.

 We added a pink azalea , a mop head hydrangea, and interspersed  cream marigolds to repel deer( we hope).

We filled her tea cup with plants that will tolerate shade.
Karen represented the grandchildren. Thanks for coming Karen and Neal.