I wished the Library was open today

This is a common phrase around our home.  We live in the mountains of rural East Tennessee.  It is truly a beautiful place.  We have a creek running in front of our home.  Birds and animals in abundance.  Appalachian Trail hikers carrying heavy looking backpacks walking up and down our road looking for the local hostel to get a hot meal, shower and warm bed for the night.  Where our neighbors stop by and share the news of week.

But living in a rural area and our nearest town, is a small town, there are limitations that come with this lifestyle.  We don’t have a good broadband service.  Which means we can’t stream good podcast or videos.  We can stream a few, but very few before our data plan is used up for the month.

During the week, we can go into our local library in Greeneville and use their free Wifi, which is really fast.  We can download content to listen to later or watch later.  This is such a great resource.  The only draw back to our local library, is that it’s closed on the weekends.

We love to read, consume new knowledge, catch up on current events in many forms today, podcasts, videos, digital books, read our news online, etc..  This is becoming harder to do with the limitations placed on broadband in rural communities and our local library not opened daily, including weekends.

Our state has some really good programs and has proposed some really good plans for increasing education in our state, the state of Tennessee.

One of our education programs is focused on students graduating from high school.  It is called the Tennessee Promise (TP) and its focus is on increasing more college graduates.  TP is a scholarship and mentoring program.

Our governor has outlined a plan early this year to extend the Tennessee Promise program.  The plan would allow adults in Tennessee to attend community colleges for free.

Tennessee also has the “Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act” (TBAA).  At the bottom of the page for the TBAA,  is a note:

The bill provides grant funding opportunities to the state’s local libraries to help residents improve their digital literacy skills and maximize the benefits of broadband. – See more at: https://www.tn.gov/nexttennessee/topic/nt-one-pager-tennessee-broadband-accessibility-act-topic#sthash.REV0eHDw.dpuf

Wow, this would be great if our local library in Greeneville could obtain a grant that would allow them to extend its hours of operations.  This would be great for working families or single parents who may only have the weekends available to them for visiting the library.  Having extended hours of operations for our local library, would greatly elevate our digital literacy skills, our knowledge in general, working opportunities, as well as learning online opportunities.

As a long term goal, it would be great if our local library could expand in size and upgrade their current desktop computers that are used for accessing the internet.  I know that libraries around our country are looking to downsize, but in small towns and rural communities, these valuable resources for learning and growing our knowledge is needed more than ever today.  If we value learning and elevating all our citizens, what a great community service this would be for our local communities in Tennessee.  This would give our children and grandchildren expanded and better opportunities for creating a more successful life for themselves and their families.

Strength of Spirit

A Local Inspiration

Dog-Cloud-2Danny and I stopped by to visit with our neighbor, Irene.  Irene is in her late 80’s.  Her husband passed away several months earlier.

I also wanted to drop off a Thank You card.  Irene made me the most beautiful doily.  It is pink and it looks so good on top of an old dark colored, wood dresser I have in my room.

I was so touched by her generous gift.  I just love it.

While Danny and I were visiting with Irene, I noticed how she has fixed up her place some, to suite her needs.  I commented on how nice the place looked.

Irene began reminiscing about Clayton.  She spoke about his gardening.  Clayton had planted a large garden the last year of his life.  They were able to put food up for the winter, and they also shared some of their bounty with others.  Including Danny and me.

I made a soup last week and I added green beans that Clayton grew.  It made me smile to think about Clayton and how amazing it must be to live up into your late 80’s and still be able to grow a garden, even in your last year of your life. What a wonderful gift, to be able to leave your spouse and friends food to enjoy after you are gone.  He had such strength of character.  Such generosity.  Such strength of spirit.

Irene spoke about how she has taken up crocheting again.  She enjoys doing it, but it also helps her pass the time.  She gets tired of watching TV and doing crossword puzzles.

She also spoke about how she misses Clayton, but that she wasn’t going wallow in grief and feel sorry for herself.  That she was continuing with the business of living.

It is so clear to us, how much she loved Clayton and how much she misses him.  She keeps a couple of photos of Clayton.  They sit near by in the living room, where she spends a lot of her time.

IMG_0736She has such strength of character and spirit also.  But I think she has great courage.  I imagine it isn’t easy losing your spouse in your late 80’s, and picking up the pieces of your life and mending them back together.  Irene has done this with such grace.  I found myself in awe!

If you are looking for examples of inspiration, look around your community.  Visit someone who is sick, someone who has lost a loved or a neighbor.  Sit with them and listen to what they have to say.   Smile back at them and be kind in all things.  You never know what may unfold.

In loving memory of Clayton Cantrell

Live life and enjoy it!

Look at the source of your thoughts.

Where they come from – the essence of your being.

Which is the same essence in all living things.

The place of Connectedness!

By experiencing the essence of your being, then you start to see that all things arise from the same essence and there is no duality.

Then you can start to not hold so tightly to a joyful or sorrowful experience, because you realize they come from the same essence and there for you can return to this place of essence, where it is calm and be content that life is ever changing.  

Joys and sorrows will come and go, but the place of your essence, your being, the oneness of all living things never changes or ends.  It exists in all of life and all of time.  

You can only understand this by directly tasting the experience of life in all of its many faucets and remember to be grateful for being a live and enjoy every moment!

Taking Time

Last weekend I was at a festival – Keep the Spirit Alive – with Danny. He was setup at the Sycamore Shoals in Elizabethan TN.

A woman in her twilight years walked up to the booth and looked right at me and asked “are you Kay?”. I said “why yes I am”.

She asked if she could speak to me in private. I motion for her to step off to the back of the booth.

It was clear that she had something on her mind, so she set right in to talking. She looked me in the eyes and said “you don’t remember me do you?” I took a moment and search her face and looked deep into her eyes, but I couldn’t conjure up who she was and how I might know her.

I said “no mama, I don’t”.  She smiled.

She said years ago, maybe 8 or more, she had come to Sycamore Shoals state park to take a flute making class with Danny and me.

She told me she was only able to attend the first day of the class. She made her own flute that day. On the second day of the class she wasn’t able to attend, because her Aunt had crossed over and she needed to attend her funeral.

She told me that she ran into me at another event, here at Sycamore Shoals State Park. She shared with me what happen with her Aunt crossing over and not being able to attend the second day of the class to learn how to play the flute she had made.

She said that I took her out into the park and we sat under some trees and I showed her how to play the flute.

Then the memory of what she was saying, came flooding back. A smile of recognition lite up my face and I saw in her eyes that she knew, that I now remembered.

I reached out gently and lovingly grabbed her hand and said “how wonderful to see you again. How have you been?”.

She smile and said well. I have been playing the flute ever since that day in park, under the trees. I play at my church and at grave sides. I even downloaded the tabular from the internet to learn how to play Amazing grace and other gospel music.

I smiled at her and said “I’m so glad you are still playing the flute and that you came by to share your story with me”.  I grabbed her hand gently and very lovingly, and held them.

She looked right at me with tears welding up in her and said “you don’t understand. You changed my life and I wanted you to know that”.

I’m sure I must of had a confused look on my face.

She went on to say, “when I grew up I always wanted to play music, but never had the opportunity to.” Then the years went by and she thought she couldn’t play music and that she never would. She never lost her desire to learn how to play music.

When I took my own time that day and sat down with her and showed her she could play music, it changed her life in a way she never thought would come.

Tears were streaming down her face and now they were streaming down mine. I was so touched by her story. I was at a loss for words.

She told me that she is now learning to play the harp and that music is very much a part of her life.

She said, “I have been trying to find you for a while, so I could let me know how you changed my life.  That day under trees, one of the things you shared with me, was that when you play, you close your eyes and allow the music and the spirit of the moment to flow through you.”

She then looked me in the eyes and said “that is what I do and the music and spirit flows through me”.

I hugged her and told how grateful I was that she took the time to find me and to share her story with me.

My dad always said “everyone has a song inside them”. I would add to that “you have trust and believe enough in yourself to let it out”.

It is such a blessing when someone can sincerely touch your spirit in such a loving and kind way, and even more of a blessing when it is someone you barely know.

Bless be!

Summer Solstice

My father started a gathering 28 to 30 years ago, that he named the “Solstice Gathering”.  Part of his vision was to bring people together from all walks of life to fast from food, phones, TVs, radios, and the daily distractions of life and participate in our Native American Indian ceremonies so that a spiritual space that was safe could be created and remind us of/rekindled our connection to our creator and all of life.

Our Solstice gatherings started at Sundown on June 17th and ended the morning of June 21st, with a feast on the last morning.  Our solstice gatherings have always been 4 nights and 3 days.

Solstice gatherings are meant to be difficult and an ordeal as my father like to say.  That is what pushes us outside our comfort zone to look at ourselves and our lives and hopefully to start to glimpse our own essence, and the essence of all life.  By glimpsing the essence of life brings us back to that place of feeling connected with all of life and not separate from it and feeling alone.

I have journals for various purposes and one of my journals I use to write down spiritual things that I don’t want to lose and to help remind me of my way back to my own path, when I have drifted from it.

Here is something I found in this journal that speaks about the essence of life and connectedness (I don’t remember where this comes from, but I wrote it in my journal around the time I was attending some talks that a Tibetan monk was doing in our area and that I found these talks and sharing of information, deeply profound):

Look at the source of your thoughts.

Where they come from – the essence of your being.

Which is the same essence in all living things.

The place of Connectedness!

By experiencing the essence of your being, then you start to see that all things arise from the same essence and there is no duality.

Then you can start to not hold so tightly to a joyful or sorrowful experience, because you realize they come from the same essence and there for you can return to this place of essence, where it is calm and be content that life is ever changing. 

Joys and sorrows will come and go, but the place of your essence, your being, the oneness of all living things never changes or ends.  It exists in all of life and all of time. 

You can only understand this by directly tasting the experience of life in all of its many faucets and remember to be grateful for being a live and enjoy every moment!

We did not have our Solstice gathering this year, so I wanted to post something to honor this sacred time and those who I have shared many, many, many solstice gatherings with over the years.

The Summer Solstice marks the longest day of sunlight for us here and each day after the Summer Solstice the days start to get a little shorter, until we find ourselves waking to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of sunlight.  But hold the dream of the returning sunlight deep in your hearts and never lose your hope and faith that the Sunlight will return and the light and dark come from the same essence of life!

May you all have a blessed year!



The Circle of Life

I’m sitting on my front porch steps and it is a beautiful morning.  The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and there is a slight cool breeze blowing upon me. 

I remember sitting on these same steps 13 years ago when we first moved here.  I would hand write letters to my father and share with him my joy at living here and how I was shifting gears and creating a new life for myself.  A life that would allow me to live more in the moment and live closer to nature.  That seems so long ago. 

As I sit here this morning and I look around my yard, I see that it has been transformed greatly from 13 years ago. 


Elder Berry Flowers

We have raised beds that I grow herbs, flowers and few garden vegetables in.  I have planted trees, blue berry bushes, rose bushes, wild lady slippers and flowers.  

We have chickens up on the hill beside the house that provide us with eggs and meat.  The chickens not only entertain us and our grandchildren, but they teach us some lessons about natural laws, that most of us are disconnected from these days. 

Last weekend my grandson got one of his first lessons in one of these natural laws.  What we call the,  “The Circle of Life”.

Danny and I were standing on our porch talking last weekend, when I looked over at the bottom of our porch steps and I saw our cat, Joe (named after the man we got him from) had caught something and it looked fairly large. 

I pointed it out to Danny and he walked down the steps to Joe and leaned over to take a closer look at what Joe had.  It was a rabbit.  Not a full grown rabbit and not a baby.  I would say it was a teenage rabbit, for a lack of a better term. 

Danny noticed that it was still alive, so he took it away from Joe.  Joe was not happy about his prize being taken from him.  After all, this was his catch.   

Danny handed the rabbit to me and I noticed it didn’t seemed hurt any where, but its heart was racing as fast as a locomotive train. 

I said to Danny,

“lets go down and show it to our grandson”. 


Danny smiled. 

I handed the rabbit to Danny and grabbed my car keys.  We jumped into my car and drove down our road a 1/2 mile to where our kids live.

When our grandson (who is 4 1/2 years old) came out to see us, his face lite up with a big smile when he saw the rabbit in Danny’s hands.  When he next looked up at us you could the wonder twinkling brightly in his eyes. 

It brought a great big smiles to our faces. 

We let our grandson pet the rabbit and we talked about how we came upon the rabbit and the kinds of things that rabbits like to eat and things they like to do. 

Then Danny said to our grandson

“we need to go over to that field and let the rabbit go free, do you want to come with me?” 

Our grandson nodded an agreement that was full of enthusiasm. 


Danny and our grandson freed the rabbit and when they came back, I detected something slightly different in our grandson.  I sensed peace or joy or satisfaction, or maybe all of those emotions in him, I’m not sure. 

Our grandson wanted to come home with us and take a short hike.  It is something the three of us regularly do, when the weather is nice. 

When we got to our house and headed down the road on our hike, I looked over and saw our cat, Joe in the neighbors fields in a crouched position.  His hunting posture.

I mentioned this to Danny and my grandson, and our grandson wanted to go over and see if there was a rabbit’s nest near where Joe was crouched.

When we got within 10 feet of Joe, he suddenly pounced and came up with another teenage rabbit in his mouth. 

He didn’t hang around.  Before we could even think about about what we were seeing, Joe took off like a streak of lightening and headed for our house.  He was determined to keep his prize this time. 

Our grandson wanted to go back home and save the rabbit.  I gently explained to him, that by the time we return back to our house, that Joe may have killed the rabbit. 

Our grandson expressed some sorrow about this.  We explained to him that everything has to eat.  That one of the things that Joe eats, is rabbits. 

We explained to him that we (humans) kill to eat.  We kill cows, chickens and plants so that we can live.  It is what we call

“The Circle of Life”. 


He looked up at me and said “I know what else we kill”.  I asked what that was.  He said “Gorillas”. 

I was so surprise by that comment.  He does watch a lot of nature shows. 

I said “yes, we do Gorillas, but not for food.  This kind of killing isn’t a good thing to do.  Life is sacred, and should not be wasted”. 

He thought about for it a moment and said “yeah”. 

When we returned home, Joe was hiding under Danny’s camper with his rabbit.  Joe had killed the rabbit this time and he had already eaten part of the rabbit. 

Our grandson got down on his hands and knees with Danny to look closely at the rabbit and to get a glimpse of  “The Circle of Life”. 

He thought it was gross, but he seem to understand “The Circle of Life” and he wasn’t afraid. 


A Dream?

PinkQuailShoesMedI had an interesting dream this weekend.  It started off by going for a hike to gather up some of my favorite plants for the first time – Pink Lady Slipper or Quail Shoes.  They are a native orchid, but the Quail Shoes have become very rare in our mountains, that when you run upon them in the mountains, you are lucky to find one and if you find two, it is considered a lot.

I haven’t seen any Quail Shoes in years, but I recently ran upon about 50 of them on the side of a mountain.  It took my breathe away.  I couldn’t hardly believe what I was seeing.  I was filled with just joy at the sight of the mountain side covered with these pink delicate beauties.

When I was growing up, my father use to take me hiking.  He would point out plants and teach me about their personalities, as he called.  He would teach me about the nature of the plants and their medical properties.  I loved these hikes with my father, I not only got to spend time with him, but it instilled a life long love of plants and hiking.

When I found the pink Quail Shoes, one of grandchildren was with me.  I hope that I can impart a small part of my enthusiasm and love of the plant nation 0n him.

I took two baskets with me, a couple of plastic bags, a digging trowel and some tobacco.  It was a quiet and peaceful walk up the holler to the mountain where the pink Quail Shoes are growing.

Cinnamon-Fern-MedOn my way up to the holler I saw lots of plants – Rhododendron, white & purple violets, little mountain Iris’s, lots of Indian Cucumbers, lots of delicate wild Geraniums, Rattlesnake Plantain, Ferns (I saw my first cinnamon fern with its tall slender fronds of cinnamon color), and a dancing lady (a box turtle – if you look close at the designs on the box turtle’s shell, they resemble dancing ladies).

Springs has shown up this year with such vitality and abundance.  Gives one great hope the future.

When I reached the pink Quail Shoes, I selected two.  Even though there were lots of them, I’m still mindful of how rare these plants are and I want to be sure when I relocate them they survive.  It is my wish to help preserve them for generations to come, so I won’t be using these Quail Shoes for medicine.  It is my hope that they will flourish so they can be shared one day with my family and friends.

I carefully removed these two beauties from the side of mountain and placed them in one of the baskets.  I also collected some soil and leaf material and placed it in my plastic bags and placed the bags in my second basket.

I whispered a prayer of thanks and left a gift of tobacco, like I was taught by father, so many years ago.  We should always give back a gift to show our gratitude and to maintain balance in life.  If we only take from life and don’t give back anything, this creates a state of imbalance and that can cause stress, sickness, abuse, bad karma, etc..

Pink-Quail-Shoes-TwoI packed up and hiked back down the mountain and the holler.  When I reached home, I hiked up another small mountain and planted the pink Quail Shoes and gave them a deep drink of spring water.

I whispered another prayer of gratitude and asked that these plants may thrive in their new home.   Then I left a gift of tobacco.

When I got home I felt such a sense of well being.  I do love spring, plants and hiking, but transplanting these rare beauties in hopes that they will flourish and hopefully be around for generations to come, just felt right.  I  felt in that moment like my world was in balance.

Was this really a dream or was I really experiencing this?  Will the dream continue or just fade away..

Enjoy your day!

Note:  In recent years I have had the good fortune of discovering an old author by the name of Herbert Durand.  I have several of his books, but one that I recently pulled off my bookshelf is titled:  My Wildflower Garden.  I love this book.  I love the way he writes in this book and his approach to educating people about creating wildflower gardens with preservation in the forefront.  This book was originally published in 1929.

Anyone who loves wild plants and gardens, I think will find this book still informative and relevant today.  His writing style is a true delight!

A Mirror

I was looking for some paper to write a list of things down on that I needed at the grocery store today.  I was getting ready to head into town and I didn’t want to forget anything, since it had just started to snowing hard on our mountain.  We may need to dig in for a little while, after I returned home.

I picked up a notebook and I started thumbing through it. I noticed that there was something written out in my hand and it was long, like a letter or something.  I started reading it and realized it was one of my own writings, I decided to publish it here.  I hope you enjoy it!

A Mirror

I was sitting on my front porch listening to her share her dreams and thoughts about a new life that she and her younger husband want to create for themselves.  I heard joy and hope in her voice and as I looked upon her face I saw that it was full of wonder.   I could see that she thought unlimited possibilities lay at her feet and all about her. 

As beautiful as this was to see, it was like a mirror for me.  Mirroring back to me a time when I first came to Paint Creek.  I’m sure I must have looked  the same way and I may have had some of the same dreams and thoughts. 

I remembered how wonderful that time felt and how things just seem to flow so easily.  I didn’t know then how hard things would get at times living on the mountain and the new life we were trying to create for ourselves.  I was naïve and newly in love, just as I imagine my new neighbor was.

There was a brief moment when I had the desire to tell her about all the things I didn’t know, that made my transition from my old life to this new life much harder.  I stopped myself and just sat there and listened to her share her hearts desires.  When she would take a pause, I would encourage her to continue on by smiling kindly. 

I understood in that moment that we all have our own path to walk in this great life and it is the walking of the path that leads us to growing in our own experiences, our own wisdoms and our own understandings of the world and ourselves.  Why would I want to prevent this from unfolding for her in the way her life journeys was meant to. 

Update:  This was written several years ago.  Sadly the couple in this story have chosen to go their separate ways, but I loved this story and the wonderful memory from that beautiful and sunny day sitting my front porch.