Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I know I've talked and pondered and daydreamed out loud about wanting to live in a more lively place. A city, with people close to my age and all the perks of public transportation, close proximity of home & work & fun, eating out, entertainment and nightlife. In theory, that all sounds ideal. I certainly appreciate these aspects of more urban places when I go for a visit.

Tonight the peepers have come out and are singing their little hearts out from all sorts of soggy places here on Judy Branch. The wind is teasing the tips of trees and playing tunes on the wind chimes that hang all along my porch. It's times like this that I must be honest with myself (and with you, my two or three blog readers). There is no place I feel better than way out in the country, preferably mountain country, where the neighborhood noises are the sounds of the wind winding it's way through trees, dogs barking across the distance, cows munching on grass, peepers and bullfrogs celebrating a temporary escape from winter hibernation. Here on Judy Branch, I love how the sound of coal trains mingle with the sounds of insects and people working outside and the creek bubbling over roots and rocks. I love how I can feel somewhat alone but also in comfortable distance of the handful of neighbors living in this hollow. In the day and early evenings I love how I can hear (but not usually discern the words) of my neighbors sitting on their porches or working out in their yards. The chickens and horses down toward the head of the hollow. These sounds seem to bounce around the bowl in which we live, so that you can never really tell how far away that four wheeler or that newly weaned calf really is. You feel like you have your own space and privacy, but you also have the comfort of knowing there's good folks around should you need some help or some company.

My nearest neighbors are a young couple, just one year older than me. Whenever they see me, they tell me that one of the things they love about the warmer days here is when the sound of music drifts over from my porch into their windows. I love to practice my banjo on the porch swing, and I've been known to host a few all night jams on spring or summer nights. It's nice to live in a place where the neighbors get up in the middle of the night to open more windows to let the music drift in rather than calling the police and filing a complaint!

In my heart, I am such a country girl. I love that I cannot hear the sound of traffic from a busy road and that I know well in advance if anyone is approaching my house - whether by four-wheeler, car, horse or by foot. I love that there's no street lights, and that on cloudy or moonless nights, if I forget to leave on the porch light, I have to use my keychain flashlight to find my way to the house. I love that if I'm preparing a meal or working on a project, that if I don't have something I need - like a cup of all purpose flour or a socket wrench - that instead of running to the store, the first thing I do is call my neighbors and see if I can borrow. Going to the store and back would take up so much time, and when there's an option of staying here on Judy Branch, I'd much rather do that almost any day.

So tonight, accompanied by a chorus of peepers, windows and porch doors wide open and surrounded by my furry family, I give thanks and sing the praises for my life here on Judy Branch.

Edge of Winter

As I was driving home last night, I was thinking about how my life really isn't that bad. The desperation I've been feeling to move on to something new basically comes from a severe case of depression. Those feelings are not based on my situation so much as my psyche.

This weekend was pretty full, but all with familiar things that blur the line between my professional and personal life. I suppose that a lot of my time is spent with half my head covered by my work hat, the other by my time-off hat. We had a really great old time jam this Saturday, followed by a square dance that night. Life has gotten quite a bit better in our county since the county seat began allowing liquor by the drink a few months ago. First time alcohol has been allowed to be served or sold here in 40 years! That's a big change, and I think it has mostly been positive. At least my experience of it. A new cafe/coffeehouse opened up downtown that seems like it came straight from Asheville or any of these other downtown-revitalized places. Nice atmosphere, original artwork on the walls that rotates every couple of months, very nice sandwiches and a selection of beer, wind and spirits that is atypical of this region. I can now eat out and have a hummus sandwich instead of my usual grilled cheese. And I have my choice of a cold PBR or something a little fancier. I even have the option of trying beers whose names I've never heard nor could I ever pronounce! These little details may not seem that special to some folks, but they are pretty novel for folks living in deeps of Eastern Kentucky.

Sunday I worked in my garden, clearing out the tomato cages and various fences that, without success, I attempted to deter last year's deer population. As soon as the ground dries up a little, I need to get it turned over and plant my peas. I spent the later part of the day over at Lee and Opal's house. Learned a couple of really nice tunes, had a good dinner and sat around and talked for a few hours. I'm putting together a couple of big celebrations in honor of Lee Boy's 80th birthday, which falls on Easter Sunday this year.

Yesterday was a pretty busy workday, but it felt productive. Had a home-cooked country dinner at the community center at our monthly board meeting and then had a relatively new experience. I went downtown and saw a great band, the Felice Brothers, play at the little coffeehouse/cafe. Just a few months ago, going out on a Monday night to hear live music- with the exception of bluegrass- anyplace other than somebody's living room was unthinkable unless you drove a couple of hours to the nearest "city." So life IS getting better here, and I am aware of it. I wish I could fully feel the joy of these parts of my life. I'm hoping the combination of a new garden season, the anticipation of festival and camping season and trying out this whole therapy thing will pull me out the dregs and allow me to feel a little more than a watered down version of happiness.