Journal Entries

Buffalo Mountain as seen from our property in the Blue Ridge Mountains of South West Virginia.

On Mondays, I am offering excerpts from my personal journal.  The past weeks entries are as follows:

I walked the property yesterday morning before it got too hot.  Our pastures at our Rural Retreat are currently rented out to a neighboring farmer whose property line adjoins ours.  This is a great arrangement for both parties as he has the ground he needs for his livestock and our pastures don’t become overgrown and unruly.  The land here at our mountain retreat is so different from our land in the Shenandoah Valley.  Both are breathtakingly beautiful.  The Valley land is more groomed and while it inclines and rolls, it is more flat and suitable or crops and hay.  Our Southern Property is steep and only at the very top does it offer a section of semi flat land.  Planting crops or hay on that flat spot might seem like a good idea at first, but with the amount of rains that we can get in these mountains, disking up the soil would not be wise as it would lend itself to quick erosion.  Both properties offer views.  Our home in the Shenandoah Valley sits on top of a knoll and is open, offering views of both the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountain ranges.  Sunrises are particularly spectacular at our home in Central Virginia.  At our Rural Retreat, we sit within the Blue Ridge Mountain Range and we don’t witness those glorious sun rises from where I our home sits at the bottom of a “holler”.  As I walked yesterday, I thought about how the old timers built close to the road and how the roads took the path of least resistance through the hills of the Blue Ridge.  These homes were also placed near water because who wants to haul water any further than necessary?  In addition, it seems to me the homes were intentionally placed so that they did not utilize prime property that was necessary for farming.  Today, we mostly want to build houses where we have a view, but I can appreciate the fact that our Rural Retreat is nestled at the bottom of the “holler” on a piece of the property that isn’t otherwise functional.  The spot farthest away from where our house is built is where most people today would put a home.  From that vantage point, when I take my morning walks, I am high enough in elevation that only the peaks of the blue ridge are higher.  Buffalo Mountain sits distinct, beautiful, and close.  In the Shenandoah Valley, I see house after house surrounding ours, hear the traffic, and the trains going through Verona.  From my vantage point at the top of our Southern Property, I can see but a couple of houses and they are distant.  I can hear the cars passing on the black topped road down below, as the sound carries up the “holler” and while it is a well-travelled road, it does not begin to compare to the traffic outside our front door in Staunton where the Valley has built up with people even in the last dozen years that I have lived there.  My Mike was raised there in the Valley his entire life but I come from mountain stock, my paternal family having dwelled in the mountains of Northwest Georgia for generations and my maternal family transferring and living there for approximately a decade.  Those mountains of Georgia are where my parents found each other and started a life together.  Maybe for that reason, the mountains are in my blood.  I find flat lands suffocating.  The times I have travelled through the flat, western states, I could not wait to get see the land rising once again and the hills and mountains beginning to form.  In the mountains, I have always found peace whether that was the Alaskan Range, The Canadian Rockies, The Rockies,  or the Appalachian. 


How is it that life can be so sweet and yet be filled with such hurt?  How is that we as humans can allow so much love to flow through us, only to be instruments of hurt and destruction?  The pain we see on a grand scale, the kind that promotes death by war, or murder, and abuse of every kind are but a concentration of the selfishness we see in ourselves and others.  How we dare to hope that there is a human who will not disappoint and hurt and while we cling desperately to that hope and pray that the love of another will be strong enough for them to be our hero, our knight in shining honor or our pure and untouchable Princess; but it is a false hope.  Broken pieces of human flesh is what we are.  All of us having been worn and used like an old piece of pottery.  Some of us have been stomped so badly that we have had to be glued back together.  It seems that every time I trust, I am disappointed and hurt in some way. 

 It seems Grace is the only thing that will save us.  I am not exactly thinking of the Grace of which we were taught in Sunday School, although those stories of Jesus do serve as a model.  I’m talking about the grace we give each other.  Perhaps we are only truly able to give back grace in the measure in which we recognize what we have received.  When I hurt someone and they offer forgiveness and I recognize that grace and it changes me, then I am able to offer grace to someone else when I am hurt.  I’ve had to offer a lot of grace recently but I have received a lot as well.    


How are time flies when we are at our Mountain Retreat!  No matter how many days we are here, it is never enough.  I am so thankful for the changes we have made in our life to intentionally slow down and take time for each other.  One of the things Mike and I enjoy doing is going to public auctions.  We sort of fell into a joint venture with a friend selling antiques, vintage items and collectibles.  Our friend lives out of state and needed someone to help him with a booth he has at a local antique mall.  Mike began helping him and although I swore last summer that I would have no part of their crazy obsession with buying and reselling these timeless treasures, they sucked me into it.  When Mike had rotator cuff surgery, he was unable to use his arm adequately for a good while and a lot of things were left up to me.  As I began helping pick up items that had been purchased, research, and price them and eventually attending auctions, I began to really enjoy it.  I’ve always loved antique and vintage items but I have never been interested in reselling them and I definitely wasn’t interested in the additional work it put on my already full plate of responsibilities.  However, over the last year, we have found that the auctions we attend and the antiques and vintage items we sell are a wonderful hobby that we enjoy together, and one that we have been able to manage so that it supports itself. 

We have a couple of favorite auction houses close to our second home and one of them has multiple auctions in a week.  Part of the fun for me, as an introvert, is to sit back and watch people who attend the auctions.  Those attending the auction clearly represent the divide of individuals who reside in the area: a portion having been born and raised here and the remainder coming to the mountains as a retreat or place to retire.  We fall into the later category of transplants.  Unlike some places I have been where outsiders are treated suspiciously, the folks born and raised here in the Blue Ridge Mountains are accepting, welcoming, helpful and friendly.  As I interact with people here, I wish I had the talent of Mark Twain to describe people, places, local mannerisms and dialects.

One little auction house we attend is almost always filled to capacity and the majority of the people seem to be there to socialize rather than to bid.  There are a few children and teenagers that come on occasion, but mostly the attendees are our age and most are even older.  Having been to a number of professionally run auctions, this little auction house makes me smile.  It’s about as laid back as one can get.  When you enter the auction house for the first time, you might be greeted by one of the auctioneers as they sit in a booth elevated a bit above the floor where the buyers sit.  They will tell you to sign in, get a number, and feel free to bid.  At the front are boxes of snack cakes, drinks, maybe some cleaning products and the occasional box of seasonal vegetables.  Bulk items like these are sold cheap and folks can get them before, during or after the auction.  Folks will meander up in front of the crowd bidding on items, sometimes blocking the view, to grab their snack cakes or tomatoes.  To the left of the auctioneer box and all the of the bulk items for sale, is a concession stand with homemade desserts like German chocolate cake, peach or strawberry cobbler, and the biggest banana splits you have seen in your life.  There are the typical things such as hot dogs, French fries, mozzarella sticks, pretzels and quick foods that are easy to sell at a concession stand.  It makes me smile though to see the huge salads that come out of there on plates piled high.  The salads seem to be a favorite especially for those who come frequently and are not eating at home.  When the auction begins,  an announcement is often made that anyone who wants to help show the items can come on up.  A few of the regulars will go up and start grabbing items and parading them across the front for buyers to see.  The place is crowded and a little bit dirty.  Not the kind of dirty that’s disgusting but the kind of dirty from so many feet walking in and out of a small area many nights a week.  The items for sale are packed into a small space and are not neat and organized like some of the auctions we attend.  A lot of flea market and yard sale type items make their way through this auction house but the occasional older or unique piece surfaces most nights.  Week night sales are less attended but the Friday and Saturday night sales are packed to standing room only.  Slightly disorganized, slightly dirty, slightly crowded, this local hang out has become one of our favorites, not so much for the sales, but for the atmosphere.   Last night I sat in the back beside a man who seemed not to be paying attention to the auction and unaware that I was there.  He was engrossed in a book and didn’t even look up when I sat down.  When the auction began, he continued to read.  Then I saw him raise his hand on a bid, and again, and again on the item until he won the bid.  I don’t know that he even glanced up as he bid and appeared to continue to read.  Eventually, he laid his book in his lap, his hands still holding open the page and looked at me.  He asked me if I liked Fire King and Pyrex glass and I told him that I did.  He told me he had just come across a lot box of it when he cleaned out a lady’s house.  He said he would be happy for me to come by and look at it to see if I was interested in purchasing it.  I thanked him and told him I might.  He gave me his card.  He went back to reading his book but would occasionally bid on an item, occasionally have a short conversation with Mike or I, and occasionally would throw out a joke about what was happening at the auction.  Eventually I asked him if he had a favorite author, since he seemed to be an avid reader and he flipped over the book in his hands and showed me the cover.  “Louis Lamour”, I said.  “I’ve read most all of his books.  My grandfather collected them and I would borrow and read them.  They are great books.”  He nodded his head and acknowledged that he too had read most of Louis Lamour’s works.  At eight o’clock, my new friend laughed and pointed out the people milling around the auction house and headed toward the front to check out.  There was obviously still plenty to sell and the auctioneer was working hard to keep everyone engaged but half the room probably got up and left.  I asked if the majority always left at eight and he smiled and said “yes”.  “Good,” I laughed.  “Better deals for me after eight o’clock.”  Shortly thereafter, he got up and left without saying goodbye. I didn’t take his abrupt, announced exit as being rude


Deborah said...

Thank you for sharing this part of yourself, my friend. I almost felt like I was there with you. Mark Twain certainly was talented, but so are you! Good enough, my dear, and greatly blessed. <3

T. Cupp said...

Deborah, thank you. I appreciate your kind words and the fact you take your valuable time and spend some of it here with me. oxox