This is the first day of the rest of my life and I'm marking one item off my "bucket list." I love telling stories, yarns, etc. and for the past 25 years have written weekly articles for the DeKalb Newspapers and now I get to try blogging. It has been said of me that I write about old days and old ways, along with modern tales of our adventures here on The Windy Knoll, our home place. Drop in just any time to see what's going on. Now let me say up front I'm no Julia Childs or Paula Dean - not even a distant relative - but I will be writing about cooking now and then. As best I can remember the only thing considered fast food in this house is a cake mix. I cook from scratch like the old timers used to do. I'll be posting old and new articles and in most cases the published date will be to the right of the title. That way you can read along (with a few pictures) and see what the aging process has done.

Gardening Pros and Cons June 2009

Before John and I returned to the country to live, we had a clear understanding about a few things such  as row crops and large gardens.    And at this writing I’m reminded of that understanding.

I recently received a litter from a quilting friend who has moved to the lovely north Georgia Mountains and among other things, she asked for gardening tips. One thing I strongly suggested was that she start small – it’s a lot of fun to till the soil in the spring, plant and watch it come up and grown, but weeding and harvesting in July and August can get old in a hurry.  I remember one year we had an over-sized garden and about August 15 I was so weary from the gathering and freezing/canning that I commented at church that I was praying for frost.  A young man who had just moved to the area from the North was overheard asking someone why Mrs. Crumly was praying for frost in August.

Another time I remember was when a city fellow moved to our Georgia neighborhood and decided he wanted to make a garden.  He was a frequent visitor to the seed store where our friend worked.  This man made many seed purchases and asked many questions.  He goes home, plants and waits for the plants to come up – after a couple of weeks he returned to the seed store to tell our friend that something was coming up that he didn’t plant! Boy, did he have a lot to learn.

Every year about this time I make a vow to have strawberries at home next year – I love to eat them right off the vine – grit and all.  But to keep the strawberry bed weed free in the summer months calls for more work than I’m willing to give, so I suppose I will always buy what berries we eat.  Another crop we have tried to grow is peanuts – the grass will take this crop over in a flash.  We wanted to grow peanuts from seed given us by Mr. Ivan Scott – they had come originally from Jr. Gus Spence — you guessed it, grass ate them up. I’ve decided my peanuts will have to come from Planters cans/jars from now on.

This year’s garden has a few beans, two tomato plants, two pepper plants and chickens.  Short of shooting them, we have decided that it’s impossible to rid this farm of chickens – they are part “game” and can fly over the moon.  There is a young man who would like to have them, but so far he has only been able to get one and she was setting on a nest of eggs.  Oh well, live and let live.

So often I’m reminded of what John’s Aunt Myrtle says, “It’s fun to live on the farm when watermelons are ripe.”

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

Snow and Birds. Birds and Snow. (Updated)


UPDATED 3-2-2015. Forgot to add my little poem)

The snow is falling,
The feeders are full.
All the birds have gone to rest.
And the best is yet to come.

It’s not Christmas in Dixie
But it sure feels like fun.
Eight inches of snow,
And the heaters full of coal.

With the snow still falling,
It’s time to go.
God Bless you all,
and most of all, thank you Lord for the snow.
Russ Austin

My view from the bed. The backyard.

My view from the bed. The backyard.

CLICK on the photo to enlarge.

DSCN2738-001UPDATE: Mr. John is doing very well now. That man still has so much energy it is almost like he is still a 20 something instead of 91 years old. Mr. John is a great man. Always keeps you on your toes. And if you think you know the answer to anything and he also knows an answer, but a different one, then you just better give up because his answer is the correct one. I have nothing but RESPECT for Mr. John Crumly. DSCN2631-001

Both Donna and Beth have settled back into their ‘normal’ life routine. That is IF there is a normal routine to everyday life. I know that both of them stay really busy. We don’t talk as much as we used to and that is just because of everyday life and we just run out of time in each day before we take a nap and start over again. Just like many of you reading this. Why do the days seem to be getting shorter the older we get?

This little bird must have flown into my window. I looked out and saw it dazed. It stayed in my hand for about 15 minutes in the house. I then took it outside and sit it on a box just outside my door. I told it to "go be free" and it took off like a lighting bolt. Thank you God for the chance to  hold your little bird.

This little bird must have flown into my window. I looked out and saw it dazed. It stayed in my hand for about 15 minutes in the house. I then took it outside and sit it on a box just outside my door. I told it to “go be free” and it took off like a lighting bolt. Thank you God for the chance to hold your little bird.

Time is moving on. It will soon be 0ne year since Mrs. Crumly passed away, June 22, 2014. And still, just like today, I shot a photo of a bird and the first thought I had was, “I can not wait to show Mrs. Crumly this bird.”  DSCN3071-001

WARNING! This will be picture overload.  (I can’t even get all this written because every time I look up I see a great chance to take another photo of a bird. The red bird I just shot)

DSCN2783-002I know for some of you reading this, snow is not a big deal.  For us on Sand Mountain, it is.

Oh but for the people up north around New York and Boston it is a much bigger deal than anything we have had to endure around here. Snow like we just had is a really big deal to us. We had 8 inches at my home and some places had more. Needless to say, yes, everything was shut down. Schools were out almost all week, some business were closed and we did not dare to get out on the roads for about 3 days.

DSCN2900-001Now for me, this time, I really enjoyed it all. I am considered ‘disabled’ with MS, meaning ‘considered’ I still get around good most days, drive and do what I want most days. I just have to pace myself and long walks are no longer an option. I love my life and I thank God everyday for the blessings he gives me each and every day. Life is good. NO, life is GREAT!  DSCN3052-001

As most of you already know there is nothing I enjoy better than to be able to just lay in my bed and make pictures out my big glass sliding door in my bedroom. The winter time I have my birds I feed. The summer time I have my humming birds I feed.

DSCN3078-003Somewhere around 21 years or so I had a ‘professional photography studio.’ I still am not sure what a “professional photographer” is I just always tried to do my best then and now. I  loved my job right up to the very end on February 14, 2007 when I had to walk away from it because of the MS. DSCN2724-002

It took me over 3 years to even think about a camera. As much as I loved having a camera in my hand all day and some times all night, I just could not bring myself to even think anything about photography. And now it seems like I have the thrill again and I love to take all the wonderful God given beauty out of my big ‘ol sliding glass door. My window to the world. My window to my kind of country living.  DSCN2701-001DSCN2971-002DSCN2807-001DSCN2814-00220150223_124033-001DSCN2728-002BLUR 20150225_171020

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

A New Language 1999

Computer language — it’s a whole new ball game for me.  Somebody sent me a list of country computer terms and I’ve rearranged some of the terms to fit my way of thinking.  I’m having about the same luck learning that I had a week ago (new computer), but maybe someday I’ll be educated and then there’s no telling what I’ll write about in the Country Living article.

Here’s the list — maybe this will help you learn about your magic machine:

Log On — To make far in wood stove hotter
Log Off  — Don’t add no more wood
Monitor – Keeping eye on the far
Download – Gettin’ wood off’n the wagin
Megahertz  – If’n ye ain’t kerful gettin’ the far wood of the wagin
Floppy Disc  – Watcha git fer tryin’ to tote too much far wood at one time
Ram  – When ye didn’t stop the truk in time
Hard Drive – Had a bad time tryin’ to git home
Prompt – What the mail ain’t in bad weather
Windows – What ye shut when hit’s cold weather
Screen – Put ‘um up to keep the flies out
Byte – what skeeters do
Chip – Munchies for TV (or any other time)
Micro Chop – What’s left in the bottom of the munchies sack
Modem – What John done to the hay fields
Dot Matrix  – Old Butch Matrix’s wife
Laptop – where the kitten sleeps
Keyboard – Where you hang the keys
Software – Plastic forks and knives.
Mouse -  What the cat catches
Main Frame – It holds the roof of the barn up
Port – Fancy wine
Enter  – Northerner talk for “Ya’ll come in”
Mouse Pad – That’s hippie talk fer the rat hole
Default – Sumpin’ you don’t want no part of
Server – She works in the café.



Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

Midnight, the Cat 1994

Spud - One of today's cats

Spud – One of today’s cats

It was early morning and we were in our usual places on the sun porch, when the show began and what a spectacular show of nature we witnessed.

The 15-foot-tall stump, just outside the window, was the stage.  Enter Midnight –  our beautiful black mama cat – with her long bushy tail. The cats often climb the stump hoping to catch a bird, and Midnight gracefully climbed to a flat spot at the base of a sawed-off limb and crouched down for her wait.

The wind was quite gusty and we feared she might even be dislodged, but she had no such thought.  Showing her impatience, she began to climb higher.  This old sump is hollow, at least part way, and it can only be entered at the highest point.  Earlier we had regrettably watched several Starlings as they investigated the opening for their nest, and the starling is certainly not our favorite bird.

In fact, we hate Starlings and Sparrows because they occupy the gourds and apartment house we provide for the beneficial Purple Martins.  The Martins many times send out their scouts in mid-February; however, as of this writing we have not seen one.  (March 3)

With her glossy, black fur furiously blowing in the wind Midnight decided to carefully crawl around a stub of a limb and enter the  hollow stump.  About that time the prospective victims saw what was happening and such an attack we had never seen before.

The birds flew at Midnight in droves or coveys, or whatever, but she continued on her way.  When she stopped we could only see the top of her tail.  Surely at the very first of March there are no young biards in there — I wouldn’t think there would even be eggs at this point, but something of interest kept the cat busy and she kept the birds busy.

Apparently, this is not the first time Midnight has been in the cavity, and when she emerged she did so with much caution, as though she expected he worst.  The birds by now were  lined up on the electric wires chattering away at the happenings.  We saw no sign of her finding breakfast this morning, but wouldn’t really care if she did help wipe out these pests.

Without incident, Midnight’s descent was much faster than her ascent – she jumped the last several feet, but as cats always do, she landed on her feet, and the curtain was closed on this performance.

As in a three-ring circus, our attention was quickly drawn in another arena – this time it was the hay ring where one of the smaller heifers decided pickings would be better on the inside of the ring. She maneuvered herself to the center so she could eat undisturbed. When John bought these two white heifers, we tried to come up with an appropaiate name and and for some reason the “Brown” girls (such ladies lived in Crossville many years ago), came to mind.  So we named these heifers Pearl and Frannie (pronounced as though it rhymes with rainy) after the girls of old by the name of Brown. Then in order to give the right heifer the right name, we had to ask some old-timers who ws amaller — Pearl or Frannie.  The Brown sisters attended Crossville Methodist Church and during our inquiry we heard some great stories of their eccentricities, sinking spells and so forth. There’s nothing to compare with country living.


Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

Bird Watching

NOTE: Click on each photo to enlarge.


On a scale of 1 to 10 I would have to say this week has been a 1. One Lord. One Savior. One way to get through a hard week, ONE day at a time with the Lord.  DSCN2630-003
I am so glad the birds are back full force at the feeders now. I have enjoyed watching them the last few days.
If the rest of the winter is going to be like the last two days, those little boys and girls are going to eat a 5 pound bag of black seed every day.  DSCN2608-001DSCN2650-001DSCN2613-001DSCN2618-001DSCN2600-001

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

The Puzzle — Tools and Life

Tool Puzzle

Tool Puzzle

Puzzle Nears Completion

Puzzle Nears Completion

We dragged out a puzzle John got for Christmas 2012 and put it out on the table that stays on the sun porch just for puzzles.  The puzzle was of tools hanging on the wall and was only 275 pieces.  The box stated it had large pieces and was easy handled.  Duh!  I thought we could throw this little jewel together in nothing flat. Was I wrong.  I almost had to search for a place to put the last piece.

We sat there for hours and struggled with that one (I finally finished it last night).  Over and over I asked John what this was or that was and he always had an answer.  One time I said, “John, Daddy had one of these — what is it?”  He very quickly told me it was a drawing knife.  He told me during all this that he had used every tool in the picture at one time or another during his lifetime.  Wow!

As I sat there mulling over placing a puzzle piece in the right place I couldn’t help but think that life is much like trying to put a puzzle together.  So many times we aren’t sure just how to place this little bit and wonder just where this piece goes. Sometimes we even drop a piece and have to look for it — just like the jigsaw puzzle.  On occasion we think we can fit this certain piece in the right place when it turns out that it won’t fit — or even put it where we think it fits and find later we have to take that one out.

As we’ve gotten older we definitely can compare our lives to the puzzle — it’s almost finished, but where do the remaining pieces fit? It gives us something to think about while enjoying country living.

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

Another Way to Use A Quilt.

NOTE: Please click on each photo to enlarge.

I used an old hand quilted top to reupholster a chair

“I used an old hand quilted top to reupholster a chair”, Vickie says.

Mrs. Crumly loved to quilt and talk about quilting more than anyone I know. I think she would really love this way to get those great looking quilts out of the closet or chest and be able to enjoy them everyday.

Antique child's rocker project I reupholstered with quilt

Antique child’s rocker project I reupholstered with quilt

I want to introduce my good friend Mrs. Vickie Wilson Hancock from Fyffe, Alabama and show you some of her wonderful work. Mrs. Vickie is an artist/art teacher at Geraldine High School in Geraldine, Alabama and also artist/art teacher in the Dekalb County School System. She is one of the most talented artist, thinks outside the box, sweetest people I know.

Your not seeing double ....Yes there are two child rockers

Your not seeing double ….Yes there are two child rockers

Mrs. Vickie is also owner of  The-Yellow-Cupboard in Fyffe, Alabama. Here is a link to her Facebook page. Booth rentals with clothes, gifts, furniture, antiques, hand made items & much more. Open Wed. 1-5 Thursday – Saturday 9-5

10959772_905903929440223_5429554729472668294_n-001“My style of Art is basically symbolism, Vickie says. I love to bring the feeling of a wonderful memory into a piece of art as well as a piece of furniture. We all have treasured quilts made by our grandmothers and most of them lie on a shelf in a closet never looked upon. So I take these treasures and use them to create visual art and functional art that can be enjoyed everyday.”

This is just a few pictures of Vickie’s “treasured quilts” work. And just another part of country living. 10962180_904519706245312_1486770944_n-001 1502537_894010153962934_4090702781690356873_n-001


Newest treasure washed and ready to become a chair

Newest treasure washed and ready to become a chair

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

Neighbors Visiting Neighbors 1992

Reflecting seems just the right thing to do as I bake cookies on a drizzly morning.  As I roll out the tiny dough balls and place them on the baking sheet, I remember that morning during the week past.  It could have been a morning fifty years ago — my quilting friend I were  engaged in serious quilt conversation.  We both belong to a new network quilting organization called, Quilt Alabama, and that opens up lots of room to talk quilts.  Also this friend is to teach the workshop for the Quilt Show on the Farm to be held here the first weekend in October, but it was loud barking of Jake that told us someone else had arrived.  As I answered a knock at the door, I saw the smiling face of a lifetime friend, who had stopped to visit a few days before and asked about how my Everlastings had turned out. I planted Everlasting seed last spring, but they didn’t come up.  As I opened the door, my friend stepped inside laden with blossoms.  He had a huge bouquet of zinnias,(which I took to the public library for many to enjoy); however, the real prize was the bunch of Everlastings — also called Strawflowers.  It was so typical of what my mother, or his mother, might have done many years ago — visiting a friend and bearing a gift of love by sharing flowers from their own yard.  This visit was so special and thoughtful; I shall never forget it.  I tied the Everlastings in a bunch and hung them on the sun porch to dry.  They will act as a reminder of this day for a long time to come.  Following a brief exchange of words and that friendly embrace we have shared over a lifetime, he was gone.

This friend is a wonderful teller of stories, and when he visited earlier, I asked him to again tell about his neighbor of many years ago. It was an old couple and they often called on my friend to do chores to help out.  This was before telephones, and they would send word by someone passing by that they needed this man’s service.  Frequently, he’d “jump” their car off, as batteries always seemed to be dead — especially on cold winter mornings.  It was this kind of day, cold and blustery, when a passerby brought word that the elderly couple needed help, but they didn’t say what kind of help.  With many chores of his own to do, my friend did not hurry to answer to call, thinking it again was a dead battery. When he did go, the lady of the house invited him into the sitting room.  Her husband was leaning back in the high-backed rocker with his eyes close — a plate of cold breakfast food setting nearby.  Friend touched the husband and looking at the wife, said, “Mrs. So and So, I think he’s dead,” and her calm reply was “Yeah, I think he is” – showing absolutely no emotion.  My friend felt remorseful that he had not gone immediately to see what his neighbors needed, and he never forgot that day.  My friend’s brother stopped by during this time and saw the cold breakfast food setting by the old man’s chair. The brother conjectured that the hard biscuits on the plate could have been the cause of death!

Living at the home place, unexpected visits of friends who share stories has to be the very best part of country living.

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

Aunt Rambles — vegetable soup

NOTE: Wow! This soup was for my family. It was for my mother’s 82nd birthday that just happens to be on February 8th. and we are about to have the family over once again. Mrs. Crumly’s soup was the first thing to be eaten (except for the part I had hid). I sure wish we could have just one large container of Mrs. Crumly’s soup once again this February 8th.

Try as I might I couldn’t come up with a subject to talk to you’uns about this morning and John said to tell you what we wuz a-doin’.  A good friend and his mother is having a bunch of their kinfolks in fer dinner today and we’re a-makin’ vegetable soup fer ‘em.  Now you know dinner here in Alabama means the meal in the middle of the day.

Lots of what we use in the soup wuz growed in our garden and people that eats it says it taste-is different from other vegetable soup.  We have a big roaster that we allays use when we make soup — I can’t make a little.  First off John digs in the freezer and brings out two packages of tomatoes, one package of field peas and a package of okra.  We put hit in the roaster with a little water and I add salt, garlic powder and dried onion.  For some reason we don’t lack to see fresh onion a-floatin’ around in the soup.  Ain’t that silly? But hit jest the way it is.  We put one pod of very hot pepper in — I break hit in two and tell the ones eatin’ that the ones that finds the two pepper pieces gits to wash the dishes.  You can bet yore bottom dollar that nare one will admit to findin’ the pepper pieces.

Atter that simmers a while, I add a large can of Veg-all and some peeled and cut up Irish potatoes.  Then later I put in a can of whole kernel corn and a handful or two of macaroni.  The corn and macaroni is last to go in ’cause they are prone to stick and I don’t want that.  Lately I add a tad of sugar and I ain’t allays done that.  An old lady told me some years ago that sugar would change the taste — I couldn’t believe that.  I ast my friend in Georgie that has her education in foods and she said, “Yes, it does enhance the flavor.”  Duh!

This here is country cookin’ and country livin’.


Posted in Country Life – Then and Now

Baby Clothes of Days Gone By 1991


The Baby -- 1929

The Baby — 1929 (added by Russ, This is Mrs. Billie Crumly)

Recently a friend told of a visit from a relative and how the four-month baby was dressed. It seems the father was a recent graduate of Yale and a New York native, so this may explain it all.  After all, what does a Yale graduate know about clothing a youngster?

This four-month old had on jeans and his dad refuses to allow him to wear baby clothes. Imagine having to be clothed in those rough clothes at such a young age.  Why the very idea!

Of course, this caused me to reflect on how it used to be.  One of the most important items for a young baby in by gone days was a belly band.  Ladies made bands from soft fabric – whether it be a worn out sheet or maybe a flour sack.  It was about three inches wide and long enough to wrap around the tiny stomach.  If I remember it correctly the child was to wear a band for six weeks.  This was to allow the navel to heal properly.  I’m told babies no longer wear bands.

Diapers were another big item on the list and in those days they were not disposable either.  Instead of calling them diapers, they were called hippins.  Maybe because they were used around the hips?  I don’t know about that one.  Anyway, these items could be made from flour sacks because of the softness.  Birdseye fabric was the choice fabric for diapers and before our oldest was born I ordered Birdseye from the Sears, Roebuck Catalog to make diapers.  As I recall the fabric was the correct width and all I had to do was cut the diaper off the desired length and hem it.  The size escapes me.  Now remember that folks back then had no washing machines – many did not even have electricity – so washing was not easy to do.  In the summer time some mothers would hang the used and wet diapers on a bush to dry and reuse them.  In the winter time they would hang them across the back of a straight chair in front of the fireplace to dry so they could be reused, too; however, after the second using the diaper became somewhat rank smelling though.  To me there was nothing prettier than a line full of pretty white diapers blowing in the wind.  In the winter they would freeze as fast as they were hung out, but then one could tell when they were dry by the way they swung in the breeze.  There was an art to the folding of diapers, but they were folded, stacked and ready for use when they came in off the line.

Gowns, receiving blankets, etc. were made from a soft cotton fabric we called “outing.”  When the baby arrived the washing picked up, as most times when the diaper got wet other wearing apparel was wet, too.  Patterns were available for tiny dresses and gowns.  The receiving blankets were square and simply hemmed around the edge, but most times there would be a blanket stitch done with a different color embroidery thread around the edge.  These items would be made in advance of the birth, of course.  Little dressesm made from batiste,  would have dainty tucks in the bodice and/or maybe embroidered flowers and leaves – sometimes done with soft colors, but many times done with white thread.

Knitted and/or crocheted booties were common back then, too.  Oft times grandmothers, a relative or friend would do this type thing.  Babies worn a tiny homemade sweater called a “sack” which had been knitted or crocheted.  We don’t see that type dress for the babies anymore.  Under shirts were the norm back then, too, because houses were not heated as well as they are today.

Shawls were another knitted and/or crocheted item made especially for the new baby.

Of course, it would be blue for the boy and pink for the girl; however, one didn’t know ahead of time what the baby was going to be, so they had to wait for the birth to decide what color to use.  Of course, white would do for either.  In fact, there is a baby due in our extended family – I just may get my crochet hook going soon.

Toddlers all wore what we called “little aprons.”  They were so cute – boys and girls alike wore them and Sis and I made lots and lots.  For the winter the little apron was a long sleeved dress buttoned down the back.  They had Peter Pan collars (round) and the boy’s apron would have a belt that went across the back and buttoned, but the little girls had sashes on their aprons.  Many times the aprons would have two pockets on the front and this was a good place to appliqué a duck, rabbit or something similar.  Appliqué was done in a color and embellished with a different color embroidery thread.  White was the most popular color for the aprons, but many times a tiny check would be used – pink for the girls and blue for the boys.  They would “do up” beautifully.  You don’t know what “do up” means?  That means they were washed, starched and “arned.”  It was much easier to change a diaper with a toddler wearing an apron than it was if they were wearing pants of some kind.

Summer time aprons had short sleeves – straight sleeve for the boys, but puff sleeves for the girls.  I remember a pattern my sister-in-law and I had for the summer and it was cut in sort of a circle and had no sleeves with a simple tie at the neck.  Wish I still had that little dress pattern.

Oh well, my space has long since run out, but this is how I remember days gone by with its style of country living.

Posted in Country Life – Then and Now
Billie & John Crumly 1945 Part of what Tom Brokaw called "The Greatest Generation"