Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BRITISH HIKER: JAMES


It was supposed to be chore day.  I told Kenzie that we would do a little laundry, shake out the rugs, sweep out the cabin, and then go into town for some groceries 

Well, the laundry got done and the rugs got dragged to the deck before those plans were dust in the wind. That is just the way some days are.  Someone says good morning with a British accent, and you are compelled by some unknown  force to just let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be.  


My new British friend, James, unlike the others, was coming down the trail, heading to Damascus from Atkins, Virginia.  It is about a 75-mile hike, so he had been at it for a while.  He had spent the last two cold nights in shelters with some AT hikers and appeared to be over it.

I offered James some tea--because I assumed that is what any good Brit would drink in the morning--but he surprised me by requesting a cup of coffee.  Coffee?  I had not made a cup of coffee in a very long time, but I somehow managed to serve up something that did not resemble sludge--which is more important than you may think since I poured it through a cobweb on the top.  When will I learn that cabin living means you check the cup before you pour?

From my vast experience of getting to know hikers on the Creeper Trail, I can tell you that it takes time to uncover the fascinating in a person.  James is a very fascinating fellow.   If he had stayed ten minutes, it would not have been enough time to find that out.  Even one hour would not have been enough time to find that out.  It took a couple of hours to peel back the layers of this young man.

He is in the United States because something popped up on his Yahoo news page one day about a program called Workaway.  

From the Workaway website:

Workaway.info is a site set up to promote fair exchange between budget travelers, language learners or culture seekers and families, individuals or organizations who are looking for help with a range of varied and interesting activities. A few hours honest help per day in exchange for food and accommodation and an opportunity to learn about the local lifestyle and community, with friendly hosts in varying situations and surroundings.

James made connections with people in many different states before leaving the UK and has been "working" his way around the country.  He has lived with all kinds of people and has done all kinds of work.  I met him today because he took a week off to take a long walk--I mean, a hike.

He started his trek in Boston, and from what I remember, he has traveled to Manhattan, the Catskills, somewhere in Pennsylvania, somewhere in West Virginia, and will finish in New Orleans after a few more stops.  

He just completed his university studies in illustration, and will be going to London for some more schooling when he completes this trip.  He is an amazing artist.  I mean amazing.  This kind of amazing:



You don't learn these things about a person in a ten-minute visit.  It took time for him to realize that I cared to know about his art.  It took time for him to become comfortable talking about his experiences.  So I took the time, for him and for me.

It's a win-win situation when opportunities like these present themselves.  I am able to validate these amazing sojourners and encourage them to keep going--if only through my interest in their stories and enthusiasm for their adventures.   In exchange, I am validated and encouraged to keep going, to keep showing myself friendly.  Proverbs 18:24


I am getting better and better at weaving His story into the conversations.  Hikers have a lot of time to think, so I try to give each of them something to contemplate when they leave the Little Cabin on the Trail.  I try to plant a seed or water a seed, trusting that there will be harvesters up ahead.


James left me with a lot to think about as well.  We discussed the impact social media has had on this generation.  We discussed the growing desire by many for simplicity and how this hike and his entire trip has confirmed the beauty in the uncomplicated.  He shared his concern about returning to his "other" life. He recommended some books for me to read. 

I enjoyed getting to know a young man from across the sea on a day I planned to do chores, a day ordained by God that our paths should cross. 

In my guest book, James wrote, "People like you restore my faith in humanity."

People like James restore my faith in a God who is intimately involved in our lives, a God who knows our coming and our going.

May his journey be blessed.

You can read about AT hiker, Chef John Wayne, here.

You can read about AT hiker, Spectrum, here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER: CHEF JOHN WAYNE

The day after our visit with Appalachian Trail hiker, Spectrum, we planned to visit a local attraction, Backbone Rock, on our way home.  So we tidied up the cabin, loaded our things into the car, and headed out.  

We did not get 50 feet before I noticed a hiker coming up the trail.  I turned to Tessa and said, "I have to stop and ask him if he's walking the AT, and if so, what his trail name is.   I promise, it will only take a minute."  Imagine my surprise when he told us that his name was Chef John Wayne.  Tessa knew then and there that it was not going to take a minute.

I could hardly contain my excitement.  "The Chef John Wayne?" (Really? As if someone else had hijacked his identity on the trail.)  "We know all about you." 

He, momentarily, looked skeptical, which quickly turned to what I believe was somewhat impressed that his fame had spread all the way to Hoot Owl Holler. (That really is what the locals call our little neck of the woods, by the way.) I may or may not have read a bit into his expression.  It all happened so fast.  

It did not take long for me to get to the part about Spectrum's visit the day before.  And before we knew it, I was turning the car around to open the cabin back up so that Chef John Wayne could take a shower, wash his clothes, eat some food, and share a few tales of his own.

Chef John Wayne's visit was much different than Spectrum's  though (and for the record, I enjoyed both immensely).  Of course, since they both were hiking the trail, many of their stories shared similarities. His were just a lot more contemplative and philosophical in nature. Chef JW is an observer of all things and very much in tune with the finer details and nuances of his experiences on the trail.  He has the spirit and eye of an artist.

Even now I am having a hard time writing a list of facts  about him, even though I know I asked him a lot of the same questions that I had asked Spectrum.  It seems more appropriate to tell his story with broad strokes as I feel he has chosen to live his life.  


He did not just tell us about his experiences, he attempted to share them with us in a tangible way through his photos--his art.   And we took the time to fully glean from the experience by pulling out our field guide in hopes of identifying a moth he had photographed.  

source:  chef john wayne

And in a comfortable exchange, he asked about Tessa's poetry hanging on the wall and her photographs.  He requested that we play the song, "Live Like That," after noticing the autographed picture of the Sidewalk Prophets. He asked and he listened, and then he asked some more and he listened some more. 

And we did the same.

source:  chef john wayne

Broad strokes.

He struggled to call Florida his home, as if in doing so, he was limiting his options.  I understood that.  He is a free spirit refusing to land--just yet.

source:  chef john wayne

He prepared for this hike by hiking the coast of Florida:  wise.

He was attempting to learn how to play guitar while on the hike.  Fellow hiker, Bach--who gave him his trail name--was teaching him:  willing. 

His brother is a missionary in China:  prayed for.

His family was following his travels:  loved.

He got his boots at a thrift store, already broken in:  blessed.

Someone gave him his walking sticks:  provided for.

He did, in fact, carry spices in his pack:  interesting.

It was he who sprayed his fellow hikers with bear mace--totally on accident:  forgiven.

source:  chef john wayne

Chef JW also took us up on the offer to drive him to the next Appalachian Trail entrance. Certain that at least one of his friends was now ahead of him, he had some catching up to do.  I made sandwiches for him--and for Spectrum, just in case, and loaded him up with the few provisions we had left.  And then we took a few photos.



The ride to the trail provided us even more time to get to know one another.  Tessa and Kenzie agreed that they were not disappointed at all that we missed our trip to Backbone Bridge.  Meeting Chef John Wayne was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  


So he checked his map, and we marveled at how little one needs to hike in the wilderness.  


And we took a few more photos.  And then we prayed.

For protection.

For revelation.

For God to speak through His creation.


And then we said good bye to our new friend. 


But it was not final.  A week later when I returned to the cabin, I opened our guest book; and it was just like Chef John Wayne had come back for a visit.




Monday, July 28, 2014

APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER: SPECTRUM

We will have owned the cabin two years this coming October.   I can hardly believe it. Two years.  

Almost the entire first year was spent renovating, so I was up there pretty sporadically. Since the almost completion of the renovations about a year ago (Are renovations ever complete?), I have visited our home away from home quite regularly.  This summer I practically lived there full time.



I am still amazed at how each and every time I go to the Little Cabin on the Trail, I have the opportunity to meet the most interesting people.  I don't know why I am so amazed since I specifically prayed that God would send us people with whom to share His love.  

Two weeks ago, Tessa, Kenzie, Jett, and I had just returned from creek glass hunting and were having some lunch when a hiker passed by on her way up the trail.  Jett, who is just three, has gotten quite friendly with the folks going up and coming down.  He mimics us and yells, "One more mile, just one more mile to the cafe."  Quite often--and I am not exaggerating--people just open the door to our screen porch and enter, thinking that our little cabin is the Creeper Trail Cafe--which is famous for its chocolate cake ever since Southern Living did a story about them years ago.  So Jett feels it is his job to keep everyone straight and moving in the right direction--toward the cake.  


On this particular day, Jett shouted a greeting to the hiker, and she offered him a friendly salutation.  I turned to see who he was talking to, and I asked her if she was hiking to the top of the mountain, about 11 miles.  When she told me that she was actually hiking the Appalachain Trail, I was shocked, intrigued, a little concerned for her, and instantly willing to become invested in her hiking journey.  

I invited her in to visit, and she said, "Really?  Are you sure?"  Of course, I was sure. I needed to know why in the world a young girl would want to walk from Georgia to Maine, apparently by herself!  I needed to know how long she had been walking, what kind of shoes she was wearing, what she was eating, and what her mother thought of her adventure.

  

I grilled her, and she didn't seem to mind one little bit.  

She had been walking for about five and a half weeks.  She was from Louisiana.

She is 24 and had never hiked before.

She had started with a friend who quit after a few days. Her friend left the hike, apparently not a fan of sweating and climbing, so took a beach vacation instead.  

She had just loaded up on ten days worth of food.  She had been eating a lot of Ramen noodles.  

Her pack weighed about 40 pounds.



She ditched her tent and all but two outfits.  

She found out that cotton clothing took too long to dry.

She should have bought her shoes just one size too big instead of one and a half.

She slept in the shelters along the trail.

She had been chased by a bear.

She had been sprayed with bear mace by another hiker (completely on accident).

She had mice crawl all over her while she slept--or attempted to sleep--in the shelters.

She was going as far as her money would take her.  It cost her about $1.25 a day, and she had enough to get to West Virginia at that point.

Her family did not seem to have much of an opinion about what she was doing.

Her trail name is Spectrum, given to her by another hiker, as is customary.  It means colorful, which she is.

She had been traveling with friends she met on the trail:  Chef John Wayne, Bach, Nails, Wounded Knee, and Crazy . . . something or other.  I forget his last name. 

Chef John Wayne traveled with spices and cooked using green peppers and wore an awesome hat.  

Bach played classical music on his guitarlele and was writing a book about a blind man and his dog on the Appalachian Trail.

I don't know about the rest.  Well, I think Crazy . . . was . .  . well, crazy.

Spectrum's real name is Amanda.

She had veered off of the AT onto the Creeper Trail to make up some time after taking a break in hopes of catching up with her friends.



I asked her what she needed, what we could do to help her on her amazing journey.  I wanted needed to help her achieve her goal, if just her goal of the day.  I felt such admiration for her.  She was determined, confident, polite, and somewhat fearless.  Spectrum was who God sent that day for us to serve.

She asked for a safety pin.  A safety pin?  Surely, we could do more that give her a safety pin.  I was feeling generous.  Take a shower, have a popsicle, eat a nectarine, load up on some granola bars.  Please, let us serve you.
  
And after some convincing, she did.  

We traded all of the above, including a safety pin to break her blisters and some cash to enable her a few more weeks on the trail, for her priceless stories.  I think we ended up with the better end of the deal.  I really do.

The neat thing about Appalachian Trail hikers is that they are as fascinated by and as interested in the people  they meet along the way as the people are about them.  When they start the hike, they are well aware of the part that others will play in their journey.  People serve hikers all along the trail.  They are called trail angels.  

So when I was done asking her a gazillion questions, she asked us a few.  And as we gave her a ride up the mountain to the next entrance to the AT, we shared about God's love for our family and His provision for healing through the Little Cabin on the Trail.  And when I asked her if we could pray for her, she said, "Yes."  

After we prayed together, we said goodbye to Spectrum and watched as she walked past  the 2"x6" painted white blaze marking the entrance to the trail and disappeared under the canopy of trees.



 Coming Soon

APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER:  CHEFF JOHN WAYNE

Sunday, May 18, 2014

LITTLE CAMPER ON THE TRAIL

At the cabin a few weeks ago, I took some updated photos of the camper at her new semi-permanent home.  We now use her as our guest quarters when we run out of room in the spacious cabin. It is quite possible that she may never travel the highways and the by-ways again.

You may remember what she looked like when we found her a few years ago.  You can click on the Vintage Camper tab above to read all about the renovation.
vintage camper
Originally, I hung the curtains with twine, but that did not work so well.  
I am so much happier with real curtain rods.  They look a lot neater.

Out the door, there is a nice view of the trail and the creek and grandson Jett riding by.
This is how close it is to the cabin. 
So if you come to visit, you may get to spend the night in the Little Camper on the Trail. Wouldn't that be grand?

Friday, May 16, 2014

SUMMER HAIR: EASY PEASY

Every now and then I hit upon something that changes my life, and I just want to share it with everybody.  Well, actually, whether I want to share my latest something or not is beside the point since everyone keeps coming up to me wanting to talk about it.  I am serious.  I even had a lady approach me at a rest stop in the bathroom. She was on her way to D.C., but I digress.
 
See my hairdo in the photo below.  Yes, I know that I am standing next to the Sidewalk Prophets, but try to focus on the hair.  You are going to want to know how to do this to your own hair this summer, because it is going to save you oodles of time and make you lots of friends. Proof of that is in the photo below.  It does appear like we are discussing my hair, doesn't it?
 
 
 
I could make a YouTube video showing you how easy it is, but there are a gazillion already made.  I really like the one below because, unlike most, it is only two minutes long.  A YouTube video on a two-minute process should not be eight minutes long, and it certainly should not contain annoying music.  I digress again.
 
 


I would suggest you use a headband with those gripper things on one side to prevent sliding.  I got mine at Walmart, but I think there are some at the Dollar Tree.
 
The great thing about this hairstyle is that if you invest the two minutes on day one, you are set for three days.  I put mine up on the day I wash my hair.  Sometimes it is still pretty wet, sometimes it is almost dry.  I do not put any product in it.
 
Then I sleep on it that night.   The next day and the day after are my curly days.  I love my curly days.
 
Now, my hair was a bit frizzier this time than usual, but I think it was because I put it up pretty wet and pretty tight; and I took it out the night before at the Sidewalk Prophet concert to show someone how to do it.  I was kind of in a hurry, so I just shoved it back in the headband.  I do use some hairspray on my curly days, but I don't think it would matter much.  Those curls last!


Just look at them peeking around the side.  I told you:  easy, peasy. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

LIVE LIKE THAT

As I write this, it has been 679 days since the accident that rocked our world and changed our lives.

People told me then that some things would get easier--like breathing.

And they were right.  I can now go days without panic attacks and fighting back the tears.  I can now close my eyes to rest and not have to visit that place--most of the time.

As I wrote about in a previous post, good things do indeed happen after such a tragedy; but they never, ever will make the tragedy worth it.  They will, however, make the tragedy more bearable.


The Sidewalk Prophets never set out to make our personal tragedy more bearable.  When they wrote and recorded the song, "Live Like That," they surely did not have our family in mind.  But God has a way of weaving lives together as He sees the big picture.

In the chaos that followed the accident, I have no idea the exact moment that the song we would sing on the way to school many mornings became our theme song--our hope to hold on to.  But it did.  And just like that we became connected to a band--a small group of followers serving the Lord through words and music.



We never imagined that we would be invited to attend one of their concerts in Knoxville a few months after the boys' deaths.  I would not be honest if I did not say that it was a bit awkward as we toured their bus.  Reconciling the moment with the reason for the moment was no small feat.  There was no separating the two because without one there would not have been the other.  I admit that I was personally too raw to thoroughly "enjoy" our brief encounter with the guys, but God still used it as a salve to add another layer of healing.


And when the band played "Live Like That" a short time later; and Dave (intentionally or not) looked me in the eyes, God again reminded me that He was not leaving me or forsaking me. 

Our family has faced many, many moments of hurt over the last 679 days; and there have been many times I wished that I had had the freedom to momentarily exact my own kind of justice through words or actions or both.  But then I would remember that I have committed to LIVE LIKE THAT.

Today, we once again will have the opportunity to meet with the Sidewalk Prophets since they are holding a concert right here in our own little part of the world.  This very moment I am feeling anxious; and a part of me wants to just crawl back into my bed, because once again, I have some reconciling to do.  

But isn't that the whole point of the Gospel?  Reconciliation. It has never been easy.  It comes at a very great price.  

To God be the glory.

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I'm only just a memory
When I'm home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of us
Was my worship more than just a song

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

Am I proof
That You are who you say You are
That grace can really change a heart
Do I live like Your love is true

People pass
And even if they don't know my name
Is there evidence that I've been changed
When they see me, do they see You

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

I want to show the world the love You gave for me
I'm longing for the world to know the glory of the King

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

HOME OFFICE: IKEA STYLE

I am finally getting around to taking some photos of the almost completed office.  

Since it is very much a working office, I seriously doubt that it will ever be done to perfection.  I would love to have it look like so many rooms I see that apparently nobody uses, but we run two businesses  in this space as well as sew, craft, iron, and put up guests. It is more important that this room be functional than photo-worthy. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

TAGLINE OVERLOAD



When I first started blogging, I did not have a tagline for my blog.  Honestly, I did not even know what a tagline was.  Maybe you still don't know what a tagline is. 

A tagline is a brief description or recurring theme of a blog, typically found under the title.  Taglines have been used in marketing for years because catchy phrases stick with people.

I vaguely remember someone talking about taglines when I attended the first Blissdom way back in 2008. Who knew the importance of such things in the early days of online journaling?   Who knew that one day millions of people would be living vicariously through the lives of everyday people and developing friendships with folks that they most likely will never meet IRL (in real life)?  I sure didn't.

When I started blogging in 2006, I thought my title said it all:  Living Life Creatively.  It would be years before I realized what made my creative different from everybody else’s.  And when I did, I added a tagline. 

In today’s world of social media, where folks flit and fly around looking for a place to land, a tagline may very well be the hook that reels them in. I don't know about you, but I need to land or be reeled in from time to time.



I am sure that some popular blog writers have chosen their taglines carefully with marketing strategies in mind; but at least one may have picked the first thing that popped in her head.  (see below)

I truly am inspired by my fellow bloggers’ taglines; and just to prove it, I have set what I think are some pretty realistic goals based on them.

I would really be thrilled if someone could share her talent by setting my goals to music so that I could remember them when life gets crazy.  It would also make an awesome YouTube video. 

Taglines are a lot like commercial jingles.  Some just have the power to haunt.  You shouldn't underestimate their power.

#taglineoverload

Click here to read about how my family took a risk and bought a cabin to make a memory.

Click here to read about the vintage camper that we found in a field filled with hay.  No, no, no.  The camper was filled with hay, not the field.