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, June 23, 2015

George Slept Here

Since it's too hot (mid-90s here!) to do anything, I'll just post pictures of what George the cat does on days that are too hot for him to do his cat-work. He sleeps.

If it weren't so hot, he might sleep outside. But when temps hit the 90s, George heads indoors. Sometimes he sleeps with a friend.

But usually he sleeps solo.



Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Solstice Storm

In my part of Virginia, we've had rain almost daily for the last couple of weeks. The rains, which started the day after we'd finished haying, sometimes began  like this.

Some days we've had rainbows.

Often light rain falls, but we've had several thunderstorms. With the daytime temperatures in the 90s, we've had both heat and humidity, so the air-conditioning has been running a lot. We've lost power a couple of times and had it flicker other times.

Here are some pictures from Sunday, the first day of summer. We actually had two storms that day. The first storm rolled in from the west in the afternoon. It brought wind and rain to the north before it hit us.

Rain beat against the front windows, and wind over-turned some of my porch plants.

The clouds lifted . . . 

. . . and blue sky appeared overhead.

But clouds hung around and soon we had a bit more rain.

The rain moved to east of Smith Mountain.

The setting sun caught the clouds above the mountains in Bedford.

When the sun dropped even lower . . . 

. . . a rainbow appeared in the southeast.

More clouds appeared as night came on.



Thursday, June 11, 2015

Smith Farm Hay

Hay was cut yesterday on Smith Farm. It was raked and baled today.

The tractor is in place and ready to start raking the front field.

Unraked hay in front field.

Hay partially raked.

Close-up of raked hay

Same field, different view.

Finishing a row.

Hay raked in side field.

Smith cabin behind the side field.

Close-up of hay rake in back field

Raked hay in back field.
The edge f the trees leads downhill to a spring.

Baled hay in front field.

Close-up of a fresh bale.

While clouds piled up during the day, no rain fell. Part of the hay is baled on the Brown Place, but some was too wet to rake. Maybe tomorrow. . . .

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Thursday, June 04, 2015

King's Mountain, Cats, Etc.

When I was in school, my history books mentioned major battles in American wars, particularly if the Amricans won, but the accounts of the battles were bloodless and bland. Sometimes hardship was mentioned—Washington crossing the Delaware with all that bad weather, for instance,  but the history books didn't dwell on misery. History, it seemed, was all about glorious victory.

I recently finisheded read Sharyn McCrumb's historical novel, King's Mountain,  which is about victory in a Revolutionary War battle—the Battle of King's Mountain in October 1780. But McCrumb's battle account isn't like the history book ones—hers has plenty of hardship, blood, and difficult choices. While the battle itself actually lasted about an hour, getting ready for it took some time. Frontiersmen had to band together, recruit unpaid militia members, acquire provisions, and travel to where the Tories posed a threat. This battle, while not widely known, was important in America's winning the war.

Reading King's Mountain took me some time, too, because there was a lot of information to digest. I read a few chapters a day. The cats kept me company while I read.

Sometimes I read in bed at night; sometimes I read outside in the gazebo or under a tree.

I enjoyed the book for several reasons. One is McCrumb's scholarship. It's obvious she'd done her homework. Another is that the King's Mountain battle took place in the Appalachian Mountains and involved  settlers on the North Carolina and Virginia frontier, so it chronicles an important part of Appalachian history. And one of the folks involved on the frontier was an ancestor of mine—my 4th great-grandfather, General Joseph Martin. 

While Joseph Martin doesn't play a significant part in the book, Crumb does an admirable job crediting Martin with his importance in dealing with the Cherokee as well as dealing with his "marital irregularities." Here is part of p. 151 where he is mentioned . . . 

. . . and more on part of p. 152.

Another reason I liked King's Mountain is that the story was told in first person using alternating narrators—frontiersman John Sevier and camp follower Virginia Sal, though Tory leader Patrick Ferguson narrates one chapter. The alternating viewpoints give the story more depth and make it more up-close and personal.

The characters—mostly based on real people (except for one who's supernatural)—are complex and face  difficult choices. I like how McCrumb handles both description and dialogue. The language flows naturally, and the rhythm of Appalachian speech is evident. Both dialogue and description work to keep the narrative moving while letting the reader understand what's happening.

Because I'm descended from one of those involved at King's Mountain, Sharyn McCrumb sent me a special bookplate.

I enjoyed King's Mountain, and recommend it to those who enjoy Appalachian literature and historical fiction. 

The cats haven't expressed their opinions yet, though.

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