Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Brown Cemetery

On Sunday, my cousin Joyce Jones and I visited the grave of our great-grandparents—William Daniel Brown and Julia Franklin Forbes Brown. It was the first time I'd seen their graves, located in a small cemetery on Bluewater Drive in the Scruggs area of Franklin County. Joyce had spent the afternoon putting fall flowers on family graves, and she planned to decorate these, too.

Joyce's family had put some markers in the cemetery, so Will's grave was easy to find.

William Daniel Brown was the son of Dock Landon Brown (in some records, he's called Doctor Louden Brown) and Landonia Cobb English Brown. Dock Brown's parents were William Daniel Brown Jr. and Martha Joyce Snider Brown. Landonia was the daughter of William English—a son of George Lewis English—and Elizabeth Richardson.) 

Here is a picture of Will Brown when he was an old man; the child on his lap is Cecil Brown:

Behind his grave was a grave marked "Infant Son" and the graves of three of his four wives. 

His fourth wife (Betty Elizabeth Parker Smoot) had divorced him, so we were pretty sure that none of the graves along the back edge of the cemetery were hers. His first wife was Katie Starkey, whom he married on January 11, 1877, when she was 15. She didn't live long, and her daughter Laura lived only 11 months. His second wife—my great-grandmother—was Julia Franklin Forbes (daughter of Green Berry Forbes and Mary Wright). Will married her on Dec. 30, 1879, when she was 21.  She died on April 5, 1887. His third wife was Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Kessler. All three wives' graves were originally marked with field stones. Now small stones with "Brown's wife" identifies them.

It made sense to think that Julia's grave was the middle one. In the picture below, it's the one in the foreground.

It's to the right in this picture:

Here's a closer view:

Will and Julia had three daughters—Sallie Lee (my grandmother, born Nov. 9, 1880), Bertha May (born 1882) , and Cora March (Joyce's grandmother, born 1884). 

Here's Sallie and Cora:


Cora March Brown Saunders died in childbirth in 1911; her daughter Laura (Joyce's mother) was raised by Sallie Lee Brown Smith, whose new-born son—William Everette Smith—had died earlier in 1911.

Adjacent to the Brown Cemetery was the old English Cemetery where some other Saunders are buried.

Here are the graves of Parmenas English and his second wife, Tabitha Musgrove. Parmenas is the brother of William English, who was Landonia's father and Will Brown's uncle. So Parmenas is Will Brown's great-uncle.

After we left the cemetery, Joyce showed me where some of the Brown farmland used to be. Some is under Smith Mountain Lake, but some is owned by various Brown descendants. The name of the road was certainly fitting:

Before long we came to where the Brown land is.

This old house, which was moved up the hill before the lake flooded the area, might be where William Brown lived. You can see the lake behind it.

Part of the house has been repaired.

Not far from the old house is what's left of an old barn. Would this have been Will Brown's? I don't know. 

Visiting family-related sites made for an interesting afternoon. 

Rest in peace, Will Brown—and all your wives and children.


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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Best Laid Plans & Ill Winds

I'd planned to go the Binding Time Cafe's bookfest today. I always have a good time at Binding Time events, and I looked forward to hanging out with some writer buddies. Yesterday, I packed the car with everything I needed to set up my display.

Last night, I had my clothes hanging up and ready. I put the iPad on charge. Because I haven't had much energy lately, I went to bed early with the clock set for 5:30 AM to give me time to feed critters and get ready.

I arose well before dawn, showered and dressed, fed Melody and assorted cats in the dark, got the newspaper, made breakfast, and packed a lunch. It had rained during the night, but was only misting as I put my lunch-bag in the car. A few minutes after 8, I left. I figured I had plenty of time to get there and set up before 9:45.

About two and a half miles from home, my car began going slower and slower. I gave it some gas, but it continued to slow down. I couldn't figure what the heck was going on, but I knew I should get off Route 40. When I turned onto a side road, the power steering went out and the car stopped. Luckily no traffic was on the road, so no one plowed into me. I turned off the ignition, waited a bit, and tried to start the car again. Nothing. I tried again. Again, nothing. The car and I were both powerless.

From the depths of my purse, I retrieved my Tracfone. Before I called my husband, I tried once more. This time the car started. I turned around and headed back home. I didn't want to get onto 220 and have the car stop again.

At home, my husband checked the car. There was some corrosion on the battery terminals (plus the battery is old), but nothing seemed out of sorts. His theory was that maybe some moisture had been the problem. I still didn't want to chance driving it on the highway—plus I'd be late getting there, so I decided to stay home. I figured maybe there was some reason I shouldn't be on the road this morning.

Meanwhile, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped a bit. We have a big storm blowing in—Hurricane Sandy—that'll be here in a few days. Already the governor has declared Virginia in a state of emergency. Throughout the day, clouds blew across the sky.

A lot of trees lost leaves today.

A few of my flowers have been holding on. They likely won't last more than a few days.

And the wind keeps blowing. An ill wind, no doubt. . . .

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Colors II

Two Farms
I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.—Carl Sandburg
I think maybe the beautiful fall colors are at their peak. Because they will not last long, this morning I drove along Blacksmith Road and took pictures of part of my woods, which are to the left in the following pictures.

At the end of Blacksmith Road is one of my hayfields.

The hay, cut last month, is lined up along the edge of the woods. Soon it will be moved closer to home for Melody to eat.

After I left Polecat Creek Farm, I drove to my Union Hall farm and snapped a few pictures from the road.

There's an old tobacco barn hidden in the trees. See it?

Look closer.

The red leaves seem to float in the air.

The autumn woods are beautiful. But the beauty will not last. 

October's Party 
By George Cooper (1840-1927)

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came—
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly hands around.


Fall Colors I

I walked around the yard this quiet mild October morning and noticed all the fall colors. Beyond the woods across the road, I could see the Peaks of Otter.

My little oak tree sported burnished leaves. 

The big crape myrtle by the deck has turned bronze.

We haven't yet had frost, so the zinnias still provide a bit of color.

The burning bush beside the bottom driveway glowed in the morning sun.

When did the redbud become a goldleaf?

Leaves from the pin oak have fallen.

Before long these green branches will be brown, too.

Today fits the following poem by my favorite poet, or perhaps the poem fits the day:


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.