Cream Pies = Comfort Food

Faye, Granny Gazzie, Granny
Aunt Faye, Granny Gazzie, and Granny

Aunt Faye was Granny's oldest sister. She was the second born child of Gazzie and Charlie Jenkins-and she was their first child to live. Faye married Woodrow Rogers. 

Faye and Woodrow were fixtures at Granny Gazzie's house. They lived nearby, but as Granny Gazzie got older they stayed with her more and more. Pretty much anytime we ever visited Granny Gazzie they were there. 

Granny's father (Granny Gazzie's husband) died when she was pregnant with me, so in my lifetime there was never a grandfather on the Jenkins side of my family. Well I should say there was never a grandfather in the strictest sense of the word, but there was a grandfather-it was Woodrow.

Since he and Aunt Faye stayed with Granny Gazzie I always thought of them as grandparents too. Woodrow was like the Papaw and Aunt Faye was like a slightly younger Granny Gazzie in my mind. 

Aunt Faye always met us at the door with a hug, a smile, a kiss on the cheek, and a “How are you doll?” 

I remember being shocked when she died suddenly.

The week before she died, Granny and I went out to visit-a thing I did less and less once I became a teenager.

I don't remember how, but Granny convinced me to go with her out to Granny Gazzie’s on a weekday. I'm positive I drug my feet and went on about all the important teenage things I needed to do, but like always I enjoyed the trip once I got there. 

As I sat in a chair and listened to them visit, Aunt Faye brought me a poem she’d cut out of the back of a local tv circular that used to come in the mail. She told me she really liked the poem and thought I would too. I still have the poem tucked away.

I’ve heard Pap say on more than one occasion "Faye Rogers was one of the finest women I ever knew." Pap's statement sums up all you need to know about Aunt Faye-other than she was a fantastic cook too.

Many of Granny's hand written recipes say "Faye's" at the top of the card. One of my favorite Aunt Faye recipes to make is her chocolate cream pie.

Cream pies are tasty for sure, but there's something else about them. When I think of cream pies I think of comfort. I remember how excited I'd get when I came home from school and Granny had made cream pies. She almost always made 2 flavors when she was making them-one chocolate and one butterscotch. 

Aunt Fayes Chocolate Cream Pie

Aunt Faye's Chocolate Cream Pie

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sifted flour (plain)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks beaten (reserve egg whites for meringue)
  • 1 prebaked pie crust

Mix sugar, flour, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt in a large pot. Gradually add milk while stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken. Stir mixture often to prevent scorching.

Once mixture has thickened, add a spoonful or two of it to the eggs to temper them. Add tempered eggs back to pot and stir until mixture is very thick. Stir in vanilla.

Remove mixture from heat and beat well. Aunt Faye said beating the mixture made the pie filling light and fluffy. Pour mixture into a prebaked 9 inch pie shell.

Use the 2 reserved egg whites to make meringue for the topping and brown it in the oven.

Place pie in refrigerator to chill…if you can resist eating it! As you can see from the photo we can't resist cutting into the pie before it's cooled. This recipe is one that firms up very nicely if you give it time to chill. 

Print Aunt Fayes Chocolate Cream Pie (right click to open link and print recipe)


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Whiskey Before Breakfast

Whiskey Before Breakfast - The Pressley Girls

The girls learned the fiddle tune Whiskey Before Breakfast from Lynn and Liz Shaw in the spring of last year. Well, I should say they were introduced to it by the Shaws. Its one of those tunes that's tricky to play until you get it-then you wonder why it was so hard in the first place.

The girls played it for Paul and he said he'd heard it before, but never really learned it. 

Throughout the summer the girls would bring the tune out at every practice and play around with it. Their hopes were that by the time they met up with Lynn and Liz again they'd be able to join right in on the tune. That isn't exactly what happened. 

It was September before we got to spend time with the Shaws again. There was a fairly large group of musicians jamming and when Whiskey Before Breakfast was mentioned as the next tune the girls got ready. Chitter said "They took off so fast I was left in the dust. I couldn't even pretend to keep up." Chatter agreed they better practice the song some more, so the girls continued to try and learn the song on their own.

Over Christmas we really solidified our version of the song and once we all got it down pat it was so much fun to play!

My nephew Mark aka mandolin man was here for Christmas and he got to play along with us. I was so proud of our accomplishment on Whiskey Before Breakfast that I shared a picture of my notes about the song on the Blind Pig and The Acorn Instagram page

One of my friends commented "Lord preserve us & protect us!" 

I thought "Oh my goodness she's worried about us! We don't drink whiskey before breakfast-heck we don't drink whiskey anytime of the day!"

Turns out there are lyrics to the song that we didn't know about and my friend was referring to them...not to our non-existent drinking problem.

Here's the lyrics:

Words from Mike Cross album "Live and Kickin"'

Early one day the sun wouldn't shine
I was walking down the street not feeling too fine
I saw two old men with a bottle between 'em
And this was the song that I heard them singing

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey'fore breakfast

Well I stopped by the steps where they was sitting
And I couldn't believe how drunk they were getting
I said "old men, have you been drinking long?"
They said 'Just long enough to be singing this song"

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey'fore breakfast

Well they passed me the bottle and I took a little sip
And it felt so good I just couldn't quit
I drank some more and next thing I knew
There were three of us sitting there singing this tune

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey'fore breakfast

One by one everybody in the town
They heard our ruckus and they came around
And pretty soon the streets were ringing
With the sound of the whole town laughing and singing

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey'fore breakfast

Lord preserve us and protect us,
We've been drinking whiskey'fore breakfast


The song is most often played as an instrumental and that's how we'll continue to do it I'm sure. Give our version a listen and see what you think.

I hope you enjoyed the song! To read more about the history of the tune you can go here. From what I gather the tune is much older than the lyrics. 


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Fiddling George Barnes, Last of the Copper Haulers

Today's guest post was written by Ethelene Dyer Jones.

TCC teamsters @ 1912 Polk County News 

Photo provided by Polk County News

Fiddling George Barnes, Last of the Copper Haulers 

By Ethelene Dyer Jones

A considerable amount of romance (meaning legend, mystery, adventure) is tied to the days of early mining and copper exchange in the Copper Basin. This is especially true of the men who were known as the copper haulers along the Old Copper Road. Perhaps none of them were as well known or had as many admirers as George B. Barnes.

We have perhaps heard stories of him, and if we have visited the Ducktown Basin Museum, we have seen displayed there the fine old fiddle that once belonged to this copper hauler, citizen and fiddle-player, George Barnes.

James Barnes (June 13, 1811-August 9, 1859) and his wife, Susan (maiden name unknown – September 23, 1813 – October 14, 1886) had five known children. Daughter Emaline (August, 1836 – July 9, 1885) married first, Enoch Farmer about 1854, and after he was killed in the Civil War, she married, second, John W. Headrick. George B. Barnes (March 20, 1840 – November 5, 1919) married Sarah Gassaway about 1860. They had a daughter, Amanda, who married William Leander Dalton. Nancy was born about 1842, but whether she lived to adulthood is not known. Martha Ann was born about 1844 and married Samuel J. Moore, Jr. in 1869. William C. Barnes, known as Billy, was born January 21, 1872. This younger brother worked with George in the copper mines and as a hauler.

Captain Julius Raht, who had a great influence on the economic growth of the Ducktown Basin area, purchased a fine violin on his travels to Cincinnati or elsewhere and made a gift of the violin to George B. Barnes. Endowed with a natural talent with music, and with the mountain gift of making the strings sing, George was much in demand as an entertainer and a fiddler at various parties throughout the Basin area.

Copper haulers wagon3 polk county news
Photo provided by Polk County News 

The copper haulers would often stop off at what was known as the Halfway House, about mid-way between Ducktown and Cleveland, Tennessee on their journey along the Old Copper Road. Mr. Roy G. Lillard, historian, in his book, Polk County, Tennessee, 1839-1999, gives a list of the men employed as copper haulers. There may have been more, but these were documented: George Barnes, I. A. Gassaway, James Rymer, W. C. Barnes (George’s brother), R. Boyd, W. P. Barker, A. J. Cloud, J. H. Williams, R. M. Cole, James Lingerfelt, John Lowry, William Center and W. A. Center. From time to time others joined in the hauls:  Major J. C. Duff, Taylor Duff, Parker Duff, Pen Jones, Jim Ingram, Asbury Blankenship, Joe Dunn, Joe Hasking, Reuben Carver, Samp Orr, Ephraim Woody, Jim Hughes, Jay Fry, Tom Bates, William Williamson, Quint Gilliland, John Hutchins, Posey Parker, Rev. W. H. Rymer, John Moody, Joe Cain and a Greer boy who lost his life along the route. (See Lillard, page 166).  These surnames read like a roster of present-day citizens still in the Copper Basin.

The load limit, strictly enforced, was no more than 500 pounds of copper per draft animal in the team. If a hauler had two mules, his cargo could weigh at 1,000 pounds. But four, six and eight mule teams were not uncommon, and give an idea of the weight of copper these haulers moved. The road was through rough terrain and of poor quality. It was not unusual for the wagon to sink into a rut, and with the grade difficult anyway, the poor mules would stall.

Some of the copper haulers, not as gentle and humane as George Barnes, would use a black snake whip to coerce the mules to move. Mr. Barnes was noted for getting out his violin to play music to soothe the mules. Legend holds that his method for getting the stalled team to pull the load out of the ditch and to get back onto the road worked every time.

At the Halfway House, guests never seemed too tired to hear George Barnes play his fiddle.  A little hoe-down never hurt anyone, and especially the copper haulers. Their spirits were lifted and the music made their stop-over more enjoyable. Captain Julius Raht himself purchased the Halfway House after the Civil War in 1866. He made it into a fashionable place to stop for overnight stays, to eat and to be entertained. Who knows but that it was during his period of ownership of this boarding house along the Copper Road that he gave the violin to Fiddler George Barnes.

The Greer boy who assisted the copper haulers, probably as a groomsman for the mules or a general helper, met his death while he was working as a hauler’s helper. He requested that he be buried along the road so he could see and hear the haulers as they passed by. Is it any wonder that legends evolved about this lad whose likeness could sometimes be seen at twilight, keeping his vigil along the mile-long stretch where his grave overlooked the Copper Road?

During or immediately after the Civil War, George B. Barnes met misfortune at the hands of the notorious John Gatewood, leader of the infamous gang of bushwhackers. Gatewood shot at Uncle George Barnes, hitting him in the eye area and permanently damaging his sight.  But Mr. Barnes was not killed by the blast. In fact, he was able to live for several more years, dying in 1919.

I recently had a delightful call from Mr. Pat Terry, former citizen of the Copper Basin and now a resident of Atlanta. He commented about Captain Julius Raht, and we went from that to talking about Fiddler George Barnes, his wife’s uncle. He knew the violin came as a gift from Captain Raht. Mr. Terry told me that the violin was damaged, its neck broken badly. Mr. Barnes got cherry wood and carved a new neck to attach to the old violin. The workmanship was so perfect and the mend so flawless that the violin looked as though it had never been damaged.

Fiddling George Barnes had the distinction of taking the last load of copper from Ducktown to Cleveland just prior to the change from mule-drawn freight to railroad shipping.

I wonder, during the cold December hauls, did Fiddling George Barnes play Christmas carols to soothe his mules stranded in the ruts of the Old Copper Road? Were the evenings near Christmas at Halfway House filled with strains of “Silent Night” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem”?  I like to think so. I can almost hear him now, making that violin talk.


I hope you enjoyed Ethelene's post as much as I did. A fiddle player that could sooth the mules-pretty neat uh? Wonder if Chitter's playing could calm them?

Fun fact- Copper Hill is the small town which surrounds the copper mine and that's where I was born.


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The Milk is Blinked!

The milk is blinked or blinky

blinked, blinky
A adjective Usu of milk; soured.
1956 Hall Coll. Del Rio TN You cain't drink it. It's blinked. 1961 Seeman Arms of Mt 38 We are a long way from a cow; besides, without ice, the local milk turns "blinky" almost at once. 1973 Pederson et al. LAGS blinked (Cocke Co TN); blinky (Cocke Co TN). 1975 Chalmers Better 66 Souring milk is blinky. 1986 Pederson et al. LAGS 18 of 27 (66.7%) of LAGS speakers  using blinked were from E Tenn; 4 of 11 (36%) of LAGS speakers using blinky were from E Tenn. 1995 Weber Rugged Hills 37 When we first moved here, Ruby-Noah introduced us to an expression that took us a while to figure out. Eventually, however, I realized that when she said "blinked milk" she meant milk that had gone a little sour. "My father truly enjoyed blinked milk," Ruby-Noah told me. "He'd put it on a big piece of corn bread for supper."
B noun Soured milk. 
1917 Kephart Word-list 408 blinky = milk slightly soured. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I grew up in a family that used the word blinked for describing milk that had gone bad. Pap and Granny both used the word to describe milk that had spoiled or just had a funny taste to it. These days there's so many preservatives in milk I wonder if it would ever go bad!

I never gave any thought to how the term originated, but a few weeks back I found the following description in an old Foxfire Magazine:


"Blinky milk-that's sour milk. Turning milk creates eye-bubbles. When the bubbles start blinking at you it's read to churn."

Foxfire Fall 1988 - Mountain Horse Sense 165


Wonder if that really is the origination of blinked milk? Makes sense to me.


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5 Things

Appalachia for real

1. Just like the rest of the country, Snap Chat has taken Appalachia by least the younger generation anyway. One day Chitter entertained Paul and me with the latest filters that were available. Things like turning yourself into a deer, a dog, or the Statue of Liberty. I said "You should show Granny and see what she has to say about that mess." Paul said "Well it will be one of two things: she'll either be scared or thinks its cute." A few days later Chatter showed Granny the filters on her phone. Paul was almost right. She thought some of them were cute and she thought some of them were scary. About one filter she said "Oh who'd want to make themselves look that awful!" I don't snap chat nor am I very fond of the idea of it, but its like one of my co-workers said "It is what it is. Whether we like it or not-it's here."

Vogel State Park - Generations of Music from the Pressley Girls

2. The girls have performed as part of Vogel State Park's Summer Concert series for the last several years. After last summer's gig we were thrilled when a family member shared the photo above with us. Back in the day The Coleman Family held their yearly reunion at Vogel. I'm not sure who the lady with the accordion is, however it's very clear that Big Grandma (Carrie Coleman Elliott Wilson - Pap's grandmother) is standing against the tree and I'm pretty sure the man with the hat is one of her brothers because I've seen him and the hat in other photos that are noted with the names. Big Grandma played the piano in church. Although her piano playing days were over by the time I came along, Pap had fond memories of her banging out the songs as the congregation sang along. Pretty cool piece of history for The Pressley Girls and me.

Decoration day and crocheted flowers
3. Granny made crocheted flowers to go on the graves of her family member's at Shady Grove last spring. You can see the navy blue one she stuck in the bouquet on her brother George's grave. I've been wondering how the flowers have held up through the weather. She made a crocheted wreath for every season for Pap's tombstone. I've barely been to Pap's grave since he died. It's like I don't think he's there, so I don't think about going. When I feel like I need to be a little closer to Pap I go to Granny. I know Paul and Steve keep a close check on his grave though and that makes me feel better about not going myself.

Gene watson 14 carat mind
4. Chitter and Chatter both have music saved to their phone. Most of the time if they're working on something they wear ear buds and I'm shut out of hearing the tunes...sometimes that's a good thing especially in Chitter's case. Chatter's more likely to be listening to something that I like and recently I've heard a whole lot of Gene Watson coming out of her phone. I've been reminded of how much I love his voice and reminded of how I used to listen to 14 Carat Mind over and over. I wasn't even a teenager yet when the song came out, but somehow it drew me in. I was certainly familiar with men who had a saw mill occupation and even at that young age I suppose I was already familiar with the fact that adults had problems to, some of which they seemed to bring upon themselves. Go here to give the old song a listen. 

My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow
5. The girls and I were headed out one evening before Christmas and we spotted this rainbow before we even got to the main road. They made me stop so they could take a picture. After I looked at it I was glad they did. Dark and gloomy below but the wonder of the rainbow says it's not so bad after all. 

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
[Wordsworth, 1802]


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Blind Pig & The Acorn in 2017

Blog about the people of Appalachia Blind Pig and The Acorn

It seems only yesterday I was telling you about the goals I had planned for the Blind Pig & the Acorn during the new year of 2016 and now that entire year is gone and behind us.

I've been studying on the things I'd like to accomplish during the year of 2017 here on the blog.

  • I'm still working on the idea I shared with you for the past 2 Januarys-the idea of celebrating Appalachia in a bigger way involving the voices of people like you and me. I haven't made any real progress on the idea other than collecting thoughts and tid-bits, but I'm still dreaming about it.
  • I hope to add new folks to my monthly vocabulary test videos. Up to this point its mostly been the girls, The Deer Hunter, and me that you've heard saying the words.
  • Paul and I are still trying to find our way through the maze of making the dvd about Pap's music that I told you about. We have made some real progress on a new cd of Pap and Paul. Well I should say Paul has made some real progress since he's done all the work. He's also made real progress on the first Pressley Girls cd.
  • Speaking of Pap, I hope to share the story of his death with you in greater detail. I feel like you would want to hear it since you really cared about him.
  • I have a secret plan for the coming year. I hope the girls will become a bigger part of the Blind Pig and the Acorn...I haven't talked to them about this idea-so that's why I said it was a secret. 
  • I'm still studying on a cookbook full of Appalachian foods and a book on Appalachian language, but I mostly feel overwhelmed when I think about them. I am happy that I've been able to add the option of printing to the recipes I share.
  • I hope to meet more of you in person this year. I met more readers in 2016 than in all the years before combined. It was so much fun to put a face with a name.

I'm hope each of you will continue to visit me here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn during 2017.


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Making Snow Cream

Making snow cream

I got some snow over the weekend-and I'm still excited about it. We got 4 inches of white and everything was just beautiful!

I usually don't make snow cream when it snows now, but we always did when I was a kid. We'd sled till we were tired out and frozen till we couldn't feel our fingers and toes then we'd come inside to sit in front of Pap and Granny's big oil heater and warm while we ate snow cream.

We never had a recipe, Granny added milk or cream along with a little vanilla and sugar to a bowl of clean snow till it looked and tasted right. If it was us kids doing the mixing and adding we sometimes ended up with a drink instead of a cream. But it was still tasty after a day of sledding. 

The first time I remember eating snow cream was with Mamaw, Pap's Mother, Marie. She babysit me for Granny so I spent lots of time with her, but she died suddenly of a heart attack when I was in 5th grade so my memories of her are sparse.

As I think back to my snow cream memory, I wonder where the other kids were? Mamaw took me by the hand and led me around the side of the house. While we walked carefully through the snow she told me it was important to remember the first snow of the year was poison and I wasn't to ever eat it. I held tightly to her as we looked for good clean snow to fill our bowl.

Once our bowl was full, we went back to her tiny kitchen, and she let me sit in the special chair to watch her make snow cream. The chair was like a swivel office chair except it was covered in a bright yellow floral pattern. All us kids wanted to sit in that chair because it turned fast like a merry go round. Mamaw and I ate the snow cream and I decided it was very good, and somehow even though I was very young, I believe I knew staying with Mamaw when no one else was around was very good too.

Snowcream from appalachia

A quick google search will turn up all sorts of snow cream recipes. I like thinking about the smiles snow cream has brought to children through the years and it's nice to know it's still bringing smiles today.

If it snowed at your house-leave me a comment and tell me how much you got.


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Oh Little Momma your Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues

Deep Elem Blues Deep Ellum Blues

After Pap passed away I couldn't bear to watch any of the videos we've filmed over the years. I guess I was afraid it would be like pouring salt into an open wound. Right from the start Granny and Paul both drew great strength from watching the videos and listening to the cds. 

Once I got passed that initial feeling of not wanting to see or hear Pap, I became slightly obsessed with watching all the videos we've made. Hard to believe but we've uploaded 255 videos to my Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube channel

Although I'm a huge fan of our music, my favorite thing about the videos has nothing to do with the music.

I love the...well I love the love caught by the camera. Whether it's Paul and Pap, the girls, or a mixture of all you can see them nod at each other, smile at each other, and sometimes even frown at each other if they don't think the song is going so well. Sometimes you can hear the phone ring or someone knocking at the door. Often there is a piece of conversation at the beginning or end of the song. 

For today's Pickin' and Grinnin' in the Kitchen Spot I'm going to share a video we did way back in 2012 Deep Elem Blues (also Deep Elm/Deep Ellum). The song has been around since the 1930s and has been recorded by various artists over the years including The Grateful Dead. Deep Elm was a red light district in Dallas Texas you can go here to read more about the history of the song.

As is the case with many old songs, the lyrics vary depending on the person performing it. Here's the ones Paul sings:

Well I went down to the bottoms to see my Mary Lou She was dancing with a stranger she had taken off her shoes Oh sweet Momma your Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues Oh sweet Momma Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues

Well I told that trifling woman Told her what I was going to do If she don't quit her rambling I'm going ramble too Oh Little Momma your Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues Oh Little Momma Big Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues

Well I once knew a Preacher preached the Bible through and through till he went down to Deep Elem Now his preaching days are through Oh Little Momma your Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues I said oh now Momma Poppas got the Deep Elem Blues

Well I wish I was an apple hanging on the tree Every time Mary Lou came by she could take a bite of me Oh now Momma your Daddys got the Deep Elem Blues I said oh now Mommason Daddyson got the Deep Elem Blues

Paul's flat-top picking is outstanding in this video and his vocals are top notch too. But the reason I love it is because of the little smile Paul throws towards Pap as he says Mommason Daddyson got the Deep Elem Blues.


Mommason was one of Pap's terms of endearment for Granny and that's the reason behind Paul's smile. Hope you enjoyed the video!


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What Do You Say When It Snows?

The old womans losing her feathers

old woman is losing her feathers, old woman is picking her geese phrase It is snowing, esp in large flakes.
1931 Combs Lg Sthn High 1307 The old woman's a-losin' her feathers. (Snow is falling.) The old woman's a-pickin' her geese. (Snow is falling.) 1952 Brown NC Folklore 1,499 The old woman is picking her geese. (It is snowing.) 1997 Montgomery Coll. old woman is picking her geese (known to nine consultants).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I found the saying about the old woman losing her feathers in the dictionary, but I've never heard anyone say it. What do I say when it's snowing? I say YEAH WHOO HOOO YIPPEE WOOOO HOOOOO!

If you can't tell I love snow! I've always loved it.

When I was growing up if there was any mention of snow I got so excited Granny and Pap probably wanted to smack me. I'd wake up early and run to the kitchen to turn the porch light on and see if it really did snow. 

Since our county isn't set up to deal with a lot of snow the schools always close when it snows here. A day off school was certainly part of the appeal of snow for me, actually it still is. But there's more than that. 

I love the way snow blankets everything and no matter which way I look-it looks like a Christmas card. I love the way it makes the inside of the house seem cozier as we sit by the fire and sip hot chocolate. I love sledding with the girls. I love eating snow cream and reading a book by the heater. 

All day I've been jumping up and down wishing for a big snow while other folks were wishing for 70 degree weather and shorts. I know everyone doesn't love snow like I do. Pap never did care for it, probably because he still had to get out and go to work even if it did snow. And I know if I was like you folks up north who had snow all winter long I'd most likely get my fill of the white stuff...maybe!

It was coming down pretty good for a little while earlier today, but so far we only have a small skiff of snow. So while I'm sitting here typing I'm also hoping the old woman will lose her feathers tonight and I will wake up in a winter wonderland. 


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