November 20, 2009

  • Friday night

    Hey, friends,
    I don’t have any photos tonight – just a quick note to say I hope you’ve all had a good week and that you’ll be able to have a refreshing, rejuvenating, FUN weekend!

    We just got back from going out to eat catfish with D’s mom, Ruby, who shares our home. D was in Nashville almost all week on business, and we were glad to get him home last night. I missed my sweetheart!

    In the morning, we’re going to meet some new friends for breakfast at the Ozark Cafe’ in Jasper – one of our favorite spots in the world, in the HEART of the hills, near the Buffalo – then the four of us are going to hike up to Tim Ernst’s photography studio at Cloudland, near Whitaker Point (also known as Hawksbill Crag, one of the most photographed spots in Arkansas) for an open house. It’s a hike we’ve never made, and we’re looking forward to being with our friends and seeing some gorgeous scenery and the work of one of the finest photographers around.

    Wish you could all come with us! Hopefully I’ll have photos before long …

November 18, 2009

  • Raking leaves

    Raking leaves might sound like a chore, but it’s something I secretly
    love to do. Like all yard work, it’s a way of interacting with your
    very own little piece of nature. A kind of dialogue, if you’re
    imaginative and your heart yearns toward outdoor things. A conversation
    that involves trees and squirrels and breezes and watching the clouds
    while you’re working.

    Last week’s weather, you remember, was sunny and warm and October-like
    — and it was hard for everybody who loves the outdoors to have to stay
    inside of four walls during the short daylight hours.

    The weekend weather was an Indian summer gift, so I grabbed the chance
    to get outside as soon as I could. Doyle was tied down doing teaching
    chores, but I enlisted Hagrid, our Great Dane, to be my yard-work
    companion. Wearing my favorite baggy hiking pants and comfortable
    boots, I headed outside, with Hagrid racing in happy circles. I grabbed
    my gloves and rake and clippers, and got to work.

    There’s just something soothing about raking leaves, to me, because it
    means being outside in the healing fresh air and sunshine.

    Raking, like mowing, is satisfying because you can see that what you’re
    doing is making a difference. When all the maple leaves were freshly
    fallen, three weeks ago or so, our front yard looked like it was awash
    in gold, but last weekend, the yard just looked dreary and unkempt,
    with a tattered coat of ragged brown leaves that had seen better days.
    As I raked, the uncovered grass looked fresh and green, in its last
    spurt of growth before the inevitable freeze finally browns it for the

    Raking is a way of making friends with every nook and cranny of your
    yard. When you rake, you discover every low place and every slight
    slope, every new volunteer privet bush, every dandelion. I had to turn
    my rake sideways to scrape dried leaves out of their snug little
    crevices between the roots of big trees, like the elm that towers next
    to the driveway and the regal maple that presides over the front yard.
    I raked leaves out from their hiding places under the spireas next to
    the alley, and brushed them off the tops of the yews in the front beds.
    My rake snagged in Virginia creeper around the trunk of the elm tree,
    and in the lowest branches of the forsythia. I raked around the baby
    azaleas I planted last winter, my first gardener’s mark on Squirrels’
    Leap, and around my confetti lantana, still blooming at almost

    I raked elm leaves from around the dying hostas, and gently nudged them
    from the pansies that border the walkway to the side door. I raked dead
    leaves from the base of the yellow climbing roses and fading hyacinth
    bean vines we planted to grow up the pergola — the one that Doyle
    rebuilt after it was smashed during January’s ice storm — and from
    around the still-green native fern that’s nestled next to
    lipstick-colored impatiens, still valiantly blooming their pretty
    little heads off.

    Our first year at Squirrels’ Leap has come full circle. It was almost
    exactly a year ago that we first looked at the house, when the
    neglected yard was covered in dead leaves, and overgrown vines tangled
    in scraggly bare shrubs. As we walked around the property then, we
    discovered the naked rose by the driveway, and spotted the
    winter-stripped forsythias — and wished for azaleas. We imagined what
    the stark maples would look like in October, and dreamed of an April
    bride’s dress on our very own dogwood tree.

    Over this last year, we’ve begun making our yard our own. I’ve trimmed
    and cleaned up and pulled vines and raked and pruned, trying to bring
    out the best in the pretty growing things that somebody else planted
    with love in this yard years ago.

    And Doyle and I have made our own mark already. There are azaleas at
    Squirrels’ Leap now — because this Mississippi girl had to have
    azaleas. And on the north side of the house, the row of hydrangeas I
    had dreamed of  — like so many pretty old homes back home have — has
    been planted and lovingly tended since last spring, and those big old
    purply-blue and pink blossoms delighted us all summer, and can still be
    found, dried, in pitchers and bowls all over our house.

    We’ve had our sweet Dogwood April, and our longed-for Maple October at Squirrels’ Leap. And they were good.

    I enjoyed raking leaves. It was good to visit with my plants, to tuck
    pine needles around the little azaleas, to watch the fat squirrels jump
    from tree to tree, and to laugh at Hagrid plopping his big self down in
    the piles of leaves like a little kid, grinning his happy doggy grin.

    Simple outdoor pleasures. Soul-soothers.

    By Celia DeWoody
    Published Nov. 18, 2009, Harrison (Ark.) Daily Times
    Copyright 2009 Neighbor Newspapers, Inc.

October 30, 2009

  • I’m back!

    Dear friends,

    I haven’t blogged here on my dear old Annie Mockingbird Xanga site since March 22, and tonight, I just had to face the facts and admit to myself that I miss blogging here.

    I stopped mainly because I had gotten hooked on Facebook, which is “Blogging Light.” You don’t really blog – you just write quick status updates of a sentence or two, but mostly what I find myself doing is reading lots of status updates from my friends, and the comments others put up. I can’t explain why it’s so addictive – but it is. Maybe one reason it is for me is that most of my many, many  Facebook friends are people I know in “real life,” many of whom I had lost touch with for years before reconnecting on Facebook, and it’s been lots of fun to see their photos of their children and grandchildren and their homes and their vacations
    . But I’ve missed posting blogs here about our rambles in the hills and things like that, and I’ve missed reading your blogs. So I’m back – at least for a while!

    Here are a few of my favorite photos from our delightful ramble last Saturday with our good friends Joe and Katherine in the October Ozarks!

    Falling Water
    Falling Water

    Celia and D on rock

    Celia and Katherine with birch leaves

    Celia and D at Haw Creek Falls
    Celia four-wheeling

March 22, 2009

  • doorway 2 Here are some photos from today … we took a drive down into the Boxley Valley in Newton County, a beautiful spring day. Then came home and worked in our yard for a few hours. It’s taken a lot of work to get it all cleaned up after the ice storm. We’re making progress, and are so excited about our first springtime at Squirrels’ Leap!

    Elk by gate
    Would somebody please open this gate for me ?
    The Rocky Mountain elk were imported into the Ozarks back in the 80s, trying to re-establish an elk population. The native elk were all gone from our old hills. The experiment has worked almost too well …. the farmers complain the elk eat their crops, and in certain places, the highway is often lined with cars, sightseers and photographers stopping to see the elk, which in some spots are getting as tame as cows, they’re so used to people stopping to look at them all the time!

    side of store with forsythia

    I loved the way the forsythia looked against this abandoned old store in Deer, Arkansas…

    old rock store

    doorway 2

    Back at Squirrels’ Leap …

    January 28, 2009 …

    south side

    Doyle has almost finished rebuilding the pergola, which we will paint white, and plan to plant a climbing yellow (or maybe pink) rose on….there’s a big old wisteria vine on the right front side, which we may let grow as long as it doesn’t try to take over the new roof! There’s already some hostas and native fern along under the pergola, which I’m adding to. Can’t wait to have a pretty shade bed going there by the door we go in and out of …and picture walking under an arbor of roses!

    fern bed

    forsythia in yard

    Ruby (Doyle’s mom who lives with us) enjoyed sitting outside this afternoon while we were working in the yard .. she even pulled some weeds for us on pretty afternoons earlier this week, as she sat in her chair.

    I planted some azaleas that are already budding out! Hope they’ll do well here in the Ozarks…this Mississippi girl longs for azaleas in her yard!


     Doyle tilled us a vegetable garden spot …garden spot

    Are you enjoying the early springtime where you live? Have you planted anything yet?

March 13, 2009

  • Freed from the fear of tackiness

    Has the concept of “tackiness” been just completely wiped out of our culture?
    my youth, it seems like I spent a lot of my time worrying about whether
    or not something was “tacky.” Now that I’m eligible to join AARP, the
    concern about tackiness rarely crosses my mind.

    Maybe it was just
    living in the Deep South. Maybe other parts of the country just aren’t
    as concerned about avoiding tackiness as I was in my growing-up years,
    being raised by two expatriate Mississippians, and later in my college
    and younger-adult years living in the Magnolia State myself.

    and Daddy had both been raised in what would be considered “genteel”
    Southern homes, where good table manners were stressed and linen
    napkins and sterling silver flatware were part of daily life. Having
    each graduated from Ole Miss, where they had lived in the rule-bound
    Greek culture of the Fifties, and then living the etiquette-bound lives
    of a U. S. Naval officer and wife, they were very aware of the dictates
    of polite society. Neither of my parents were the least bit snobbish or
    snooty, but they were products of their upbringing and culture, and
    they each had firm ideas about the “nice way to do things.”

    family ate dinner together at the dining room table most nights. We
    always enjoyed visiting with each other at the table, but we were
    taught never to talk with our mouths full, and we were encouraged to
    put our forks down after each bite, and to carefully place our knife
    and fork across the top of our plate when we were finished. We kept our
    napkins — and our left hands — in our laps.

    Putting the ketchup
    bottle or the mayonnaise jar on the table was tacky, and was just not
    done except in the most hurried-up, emergency situations. Mama would
    spoon relish or mayonnaise into a little dish and put it on the table.
    We learned not to butter our rolls with the butter knife, but to scoop
    some butter up out of the dish with the butter knife and put it on the
    edge of our dinner plate (my grandmothers used bread-and-butter
    plates), and butter our roll with our own dinner knife. Mama did break
    with our grandparents’ family tradition and stooped to using paper
    napkins, but with five kids and no household help to iron the napkins,
    our grandmothers didn’t blame her.

    The concept of not being tacky
    encompassed not only table manners, but almost every area of life. For
    example, tattoos, especially for a girl, were so tacky they were off
    the chart. My daddy even thought pierced ears were not for “nice
    girls.” As the oldest of his four daughters, I was the one who asked
    first if I could get my ears pierced, probably when I was about 14. He
    grinned and told me I could only get my ears pierced if I got a tattoo
    first, which in those days was a totally outlandish and horrifying
    idea, so I knew he didn’t mean it. The only people we knew who had
    tattoos were older Navy enlisted men — certainly not teenage girls.

    was okay for children to go barefooted when we were at home or playing
    in the yard, but for a child to go to the grocery store or anywhere but
    the swimming pool barefooted was tacky.

    When I went down to Columbus
    at age 17 as a freshman at Mississippi State College for Women in 1973,
    I learned a whole new set of rules of propriety. We were not allowed to
    walk around campus with our hair rolled up. We could smoke in our dorm
    rooms — and I’m not proud to say I burned through a whole lot of
    Virginia Slims Light Menthols in those days — and we could smoke
    outside on the campus, but the rules said we had to be sitting down,
    not walking around with a lit cigarette. So my well-groomed friends and
    I would sit down on the curb under one of the ancient magnolia trees
    and fire up a cigarette anytime the urge hit, and for some reason, that
    WASN’T tacky.

    Most of us “’W’ girls” had been raised by Mississippi
    mamas, and as hard as we tried to be cool, we still couldn’t get past
    the major rules that were tattooed into our genetic code. We were so
    terrified of being tacky, you couldn’t pay us to wear white shoes
    before Easter or after Labor Day. If we had on a skirt or a dress, we
    had on pantyhose — it was REAL tacky not to wear stockings. At least we
    were a little more liberated than most of our own mothers and all of
    grandmothers, who were still under the impression that a lady wore a
    girdle at all times, no matter if it was 104 swelteringly humid degrees

    And for goodness sake, wearing pants to Sunday morning
    church would have been the tackiest thing we could imagine. Up until
    the 90s, we were all wearing heels and our best dresses  — and of
    course, stockings — to the First Methodist Church. I can still remember
    my shock the first time I saw an out-of-town visitor at a church
    funeral wearing a dark pantsuit. A lady wearing pants to church! Lawdy,
    Miss Scarlett.

    We’ve come a long way, Baby. Most of the time these
    days, I live my life free of the burdens of being worried about
    tackiness, but I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing, or a loss. We
    use paper napkins at our house with impunity. I’ve been known to put
    the ketchup bottle on the table (forgive me, Poppy). I wear pants to
    church all the time, and sometimes even jeans.

     I even finally got my ears pierced — but no tattoos for me, Daddy, I promise!

    By Celia DeWoody
    Published March 11, 2009 in the Harrison (Ark.) Daily Times
    Copyright CPI, Inc. 2009

February 28, 2009

  • Mysteries continue to pile up at our old house, “Squirrels’ Leap,” like broken limbs after the ice storm.
    hesitate to blame it on a ghost, because I’m still not sure I believe
    in ghosts. But there’s something fishy — well, squirrelly — going on at
    Squirrels’ Leap.

    Okay, here’s the latest.
    During the ice storm, a
    huge limb from our venerable elm tree fell and demolished the pergola
    next to our breakfast room, which is in a one-story addition that joins
    the old two-story house to the garage.

    The branches also punched
    several holes in the roof, and one skinny branch poked all the way
    through the breakfast-room ceiling, where it is still part of our decor.

    the ice storm, like a good homeowner, Doyle dragged a ladder over to
    the one-story section and climbed up to spread a plastic tarp over the
    shallow peaked roof of the breakfast room. He secured the tarp on the
    north side of the house by hooking the grommets over nails, then draped
    it over the peak of the roof and down the south side, where it
    completely covered the holes and came neatly down over the entrance and
    part of the smashed pergola, where he attached that side of the tarp.

    day last week, after our insurance adjuster had come, my husband tore
    down the ruins of the pergola, which left the south edge of the tarp

    A few nights later, a big windstorm came along. The wind
    blew the tarp from the south side of the roof all the way over the
    shallow peak, and left a big, wet wad of plastic hanging by one nail
    over the edge of the north porch. To spread the tarp back out was going
    to involve climbing back up onto the roof, which Doyle had every
    intention of doing before it rained again.

    My son Jamie, who had
    been living with us temporarily, is always willing to lend a hand when
    he’s not at work at one of his two jobs or out pursuing one of his many
    other interests.

    Friday, before we went upstairs for the night,
    Doyle asked Jamie if he would mind taking Hagrid, our Great Dane,
    outside one more time before going out later that evening. Jamie
    cheerfully agreed.

    The last time we looked Friday night, the tarp
    was still hanging sloppily over the north edge of the porch roof, only
    attached by one corner.

    The next morning, Doyle looked out of our upstairs sitting-room windows, which overlook the breakfast-room roof.
    must’ve climbed back up on the roof last night and spread that tarp
    back out for me,” Doyle said with a big grin. “I really appreciate him
    doing that for us. He must’ve done it late last night.”

    I looked out the window to see the green tarp spread back over the whole section of roof, neatly smoothed out, no wrinkles.
    a little while later, Doyle thanked Jamie enthusiastically for going up
    on the roof in the dark the night before and spreading the tarp back
    out for us.

    Jamie looked blank.
    “I didn’t fix the tarp,” he said,
    puzzled. “When I took Hagrid out about 9:30 last night, it was still
    all hanging down over the edge of the porch, just like it has been.”

    were all just bumfuzzled. Jamie and I even walked out to see if the
    ladder was where he had left it the last time he had used it, several
    days before. It was — on the far side of Doyle’s shop building, lying
    on its side.

    Okay, we know Doyle didn’t get up on the roof and
    spread the tarp out. I didn’t. Jamie didn’t. Ruby certainly didn’t. We
    don’t have a pet chimpanzee to do handy chores like that for us. The
    only other alternative that occurred to us was that one of our friendly
    neighbors had decided to do us a good turn and spread the tarp out for
    us. But would anybody come over to a neighbor’s house late at night and
    climb up a ladder and get onto their roof — in the pitch-black dark —
    without letting them know they were going to be up there?

    Oh, one
    other possibility was that the wind blew the tarp back over the house.
    But the wind couldn’t have spread it out perfectly neatly, with no
    folds or wrinkles.

    And I’m pretty sure the wind couldn’t have hooked
    one of the tarp’s small corner grommets back over the nail to hold it
    in place.

    Who spread the tarp back out on our roof? If you’re the
    kind soul who did it, please call me at 743-0613 and let me know, so I
    can thank you, and so the mystery will be solved.

    If it wasn’t one
    of our neighbors, who was it? The same “person” who bakes apple cakes
    in an invisible oven to fill the house up with their aroma, and
    snitches hard-boiled eggs out of our kitchen, and pushes our Christmas
    tree over in the middle of the night, and plays faint music even when
    the radio is off and walks across the floor in empty rooms?

    We’re still scratching our heads in puzzlement.
    How in the world did our blown-off tarp get spread smoothly back out on the roof in the middle of the night?
    The Mystery of Squirrels’ Leap continues …

    By Celia DeWoody
    Copyright 2009 Harrison Daily Times

February 26, 2009

  • A powerful prayer for our children – from “St. Augustine’s Prayer Book”:

    “O Heavenly Father, I commend the souls of my children
    to thee.  Be thou their God and Father; and mercifully supply whatever
    is wanting in me through frailty or negligence.  Strengthen them to
    overcome the corruptions of the world, to resist all solicitations to
    evil, whether from within or without; and deliver them from the secret
    snares of the enemy.  Pour thy grace into their hearts, and confirm and
    multiply in them the gifts of thy Holy Spirit, that they may daily grow
    in grace and in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; and so faithfully
    serving thee here, may come to rejoice in thy presence hereafter. 
    Through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

February 15, 2009

  • Here are a handful of photos from our afternoon’s jaunt down into the hills of Newton County, our favorite place to escape to on a Sunday afternoon. The thermometer was hovering right around freezing, just enough to rime the weeds in white …. as always, we found “sermons in stones” out in God’s creation. Wish you could’ve come with us!

    Ice Lace good

    frosted weed in front of barns

    icy parasol 2

    icy spiderweb

    pretty weeds 2

  • Catching up …

    Hey, friends,
    I’ve been away from Xanga for a while, and wanted to just peek in and say “Hey” to you all.
    I don’t have any photos to share today, but we’re hoping to get out this afternoon after church into the woods. It’s not looking too promising right now – a little light rain mixed with snow, and cloudy, but we’re both jonesing for the woods, so we’ll probably go anyway!
    No special news  – I’ve been working at the paper every day, and some evenings when I have meetings. I also spend one evening a week working on that week’s column. It was my turn to be in charge of today’s Sunday paper, so that meant I worked about half a day yesterday (Saturday), too. Hmmm..maybe that’s why I don’t have much news except newspaper news!
    Family news: Doyle’s son Robert and his wife Christine are expecting a little boy, our first grandson (Robert Parker DeWoody) any day now! They live in Bradenton, Florida. They’ve been married a year, and already have three girls – Robert’s Morgan and Madison, and Christine’s Madison. So we’re all every excited to have a boy join the crowd. Please keep them in your prayers.
    Hope you all had a nice Valentine’s Day with your sweethearts. Doyle and I were able to spend most of the afternoon and evening together yesterday after I got off work, and ended up driving over to Mountain Home to eat dinner. It’s nice to be married to your best friend.
    Next time, I’ll update you on our ghost. He’s done the weirdest thing yet this weekend!
    Love to everybody,

January 31, 2009

  • I have a Picasa web album of ice storm photos, but can’t remember where to paste in the code for the slideshow when I’m using themes – help! My memory is apparently going fast … I just did this a month or so ago. Yikes.

    Here’s a photo or two:

    An empty lot down the street on Wednesday:

    ice neighborhood

    Our pergola and part of the roof smashed by falling elm branches…thank the Lord the huge branch over the house didn’t fall. Our cars were moved just in time before another huge branch fell in our driveway…


    icy north side of SL


    Fire and Ice

    Some say the world will end in fire
    Some say in ice
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire
    But if it had to perish twice
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    - Robert Frost