Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Falls State Park, Honeybee/Corbin, Kentucky


**PLEASE NOTE** - I use no other social media and my comments are closed due to persistent harassment and impersonation by one individual - sorry :(

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Shh, You Didn't See Me Here - I Never Existed ;)



*Important clarification - For the record, I had nothing to do with bringing this genealogist and Rita situation about.  I was contacted by the genealogist that Rita's family hired, the same way you all were - I was just the first to receive the letter and the first to respond. Also, I've never spoken or corresponded with Rita or her family, only the genealogist - because as I said, I felt it was mom's place to first.

The reason I'm getting the DNA test is because the genealogist asked me to - no one else had responded yet - in order to either rule out or confirm their suspicions, because Rita deserves to know, and I also thought connecting she and Mom over Aunt Elizabeth would be a good thing for both.  Believe that or not.

__________________________________________________


ORIGINAL POST


 (*Edited - removed redundancies and verbose details lol.  Also, an important direct quote from a family member added)


So I've been thinking about discontinuing writing here for some time, beginning just before my vacation - and I think I'm healed enough, I'm ready :) 

I started writing on Blogger in 2005 (this wasn't my original blog)  to have a voice - because I was literally being bullied/threatened out of everything and everyone in my life  - first by my ex-husband, then my family when my grandmother died. 

At the time, efforts were going on to discredit, gaslight, and silence me by both, as well as expensive gifts or sudden support in interests to anyone left in my life trying not to take sides.

(Addendum added) None of it was done through legal means, of course - but I was too broke and powerless to fight them legally.


Plus I just kept thinking once they calmed down, it would all be okay.

They didn't. And it wasn't.

It was my message in a bottle, my flare - I liked the thought that somebody unknown out there was listening.

I didn't talk about the situation for a long time, just ya know, talked about whatever - just so my voice wouldn't be silenced.  


But then I realized that since I started this blog, I now have people in both my work life, as well as my personal life, to whom my voice matters, I am valued, respected, and I am believed - so I don't think I need this place anymore :)


I wrote quietly in my corner here, for years, even if no one was reading - and though there are a few friends and a couple of members of Mark's family who read here from time to time, mostly, the only people here reading regularly are a few people who I know are only here because they're terrified I might tell my side of the story -   and that God forbid, somebody might actually listen and believe me lol;) 


So though I won't be here on this blog anymore, or any social media actually, rest assured, I AM still here in the world - despite some best attempts otherwise ;)

I'm doing remarkably well, in fact, especially considering what you all put me through - I'm stronger than I believed - clearly, strongly than some of you believed :)

In fact, despite past pain sometimes rearing up, I'm happier than I've ever been :)


I will also continue to practice writing in a private journal, as well as fight for social justice in my private life and community, and of course, continue to vote.


However, I'm not erasing what I've written, parking posts in draft, or marking my blog private - because it's truth, it's my history, and it's helped ground me, as well as to evolve into the person I've become today :)

The one thing I'm learning through this family genealogy situation is that the truth always comes out eventually, no matter how well you lie (even to yourself) or how well you think you've hidden it - even if it's long after we've gone, whether people want to take a look at uncomfortable, inconvenient truths VS what we want to believe or not - but at least we're starting to confront what is true or not, for a change?


However, I also realize that no matter what I do, I will continue to be my family's heretic, their witch, their "demon" - because God forbid, I was telling the truth and they ever had take responsibility for anything, especially things they blamed/projected on to me - things that we both know very well that one of them (or a couple of them) actually did themselves.

As the family scapegoat, I'm blamed for things that don't even make sense, sometimes things I'd have to be supernatural to do lol, when I'm not that powerful and I was especially powerless then.

There's nothing I can say or do to change those beliefs.   In fact, any self-defense, pointing out discrepancies in stories of things that don't add up,  even trying to get people to take a look at verified documented fact only makes it worse and gets flipped back on me as "attack."


However, I do have one last thing to say to address the persistent myth that my great-grandparents raised my daughter, and that is this:


Yes, I lived with my grandparents the majority of the time when my daughter was growing up, while struggling, making minimum wage -  that's not unusual for single moms - but that does NOT mean they "raised" her. 

Because as you all know, I had extreme social anxiety  -  I didn't go anywhere except work - taking her to daycare and paying for it myself  - eventually working from home by the time she was 4.  

I didn't drink or do drugs, and I didn't go on a single date until she was in first grade.  

Other than work, I was there 24/7, she was my world.

So do the people who've filled her head with this nonsense have any explanation for where I supposedly was? :)

Here's an even better question - where were they?

(Despite what they say now, from guilty consciences ;)


I am very grateful to Granny and Pap for letting us stay there and their help, of course -  especially when 8/10 of you wouldn't even wouldn't lift a finger, making all kinds of excuses.


However, the truth is, they were ages 77 and 86, when she was born, so ...

They rarely watched her while I worked - I paid a daycare center in Nicholasville, then worked from home by the time she was 4.
They never, ever changed a single diaper - literally never. (In fact, Granny stayed in the other room, she couldn't stand the smell).   
They never gave her a full bottle after she was 2 months old (most people didn't, they usually asked if they could until she was 2 months).   
They never gave her a single bath (though sometimes Granny would sit in and play with her and her bath toys, while I bathed her, just because it was fun).   
They never bought her clothes (with the exception of paid half for her first dress to her first semi-formal school dance).  
They never stayed up with her when sick, carrying her to the toilet to vomit and staying awake long after she went to sleep to watch over her - in fact, they were afraid to get near her, as they were elderly, which I don't blame them for.   
They never once helped with homework, went to one single teacher conference, class field trip, schools parties, chaperone school dances, or hosted  and watched over a single birthday party or sleepover.   
They never comforted her when her dad didn't show up, because they didn't want to get involved, just like with Dad -  nor when or her heart was broken by her first crush in Florida.   
They were not even in the room for her first word, her first steps, her first tooth pull, caring for her first scraped knee or bee sting. 

 

There's a lot more to raising a child than playing and singing, walks, reading books, and cooking suppers - that's normal grandparent stuff - in fact, even less, mostly because they couldn't, they were elderly.

Then again, since the loudest mouths pushing this "alternative fact" have no children themselves (but imagine they know better how to raise children), of course, they wouldn't know what it takes to raise a child, plus they were barely around to even know who raised her.

But yes, unlike the rest of you, Granny and Pap are the only two people in this world who I can honestly say did help raise her, as much as they could.

The rest of you breezed in occasionally for the fun stuff, until she became a teenager, when she needed less care  - then you  bought her fancy stuff, trips to Paris, etc. - stuff you know I could never afford and couldn't compete with, didn't want to - because fancy gifts and trips, money, and free rein are NOT love.

But now you try to take all the credit, as well as say Granny and Pap raised her, as if I wasn't even there?

"Kill it now, before it's born and grows up to be a loser, just like you, and wants to kill itself - and if you don't, I'll never speak to you again."

Do those words sound familiar, Kim?

They should - your words used to haunt me - until I finally realized, they shouldn't be haunting me - they should be haunting you.


But I didn't, and now you're glad she's in the world (as am I).

Guilty conscience, much? :)

And lucky for me (but your worst nightmare), I didn't suicide, either - I'M. STILL. ALIVE :)

But despite all your ultimatums, your demands for her appreciation and her loyalty -  your guilt trips, your bribes which you call "gifts" that actually come with lifelong obligations -  despite teaching her some of your scary tricks (which she misinterprets as "strength," as opposed to my "weakness") - - she will still  never, ever be your daughter. 

You chose not to have children, remember?

Regardless, there is no one is left alive, who was around much, who could vouch for me - but even when alive, Granny benefitted from people thinking that she provided all the care - Pap even confronted her once on lying to someone about that. 

(Yes, Granny had flaws, just like we all do, and yet I loved her anyway.)


But in the end, my daughter turned out well, didn't she? 

A college degree, good job, hard working, no drugs, rarely drinks, no unwanted pregnancies, an activist for social justice - but I'd rethink crediting any of yourselves for that, since you were barely interested in her until she was a teenager.


But if y'all need to believe otherwise to ease your consciences, then by all means, continue to "erase" me from the family and blame me for all your problems, if it helps you - but I doubt it does or will, in the end.

Though I have every right to be angry, I'm really not anymore (except momentarily, but it passes quickly) - at most, just sorrow and pain after even brief contact, but even that is healing.

But I can't live like that anymore and still function, nor will I continue to be a distraction from your own problems and a measuring stick for  biased dysfunctional-family assessments of your own mental health.


I don't care how many people you convince, who haven't heard both sides or looked at verified documentation, mob rule doesn't make the mob right -  I mean, look at Trumpers lol.

Things like the actual amount of child support I received versus what Zack, and later Kim, said.  It was $424 a month, I still have the last check stub.  The amount was not even enough to cover child care while I worked, but was never raised -  and I never asked for it to be raised -  despite his making over $100K by the time she was a teenager. 


I am slightly encouraged by the fact of this genealogy situation that the truth will come out, even if it's long after I'm gone - but for now, you didn't see me here, I didn't exist  - just a figment of your imagination -  just like you need me to be ;) 


FYI, I used to believe you, you gaslight well.

I guess you learned from the best - Dad - right?;)

Gaslighting does work - unfortunately for you, it's horrible thing to do to anyone, just because you don't want to tell the truth/anyone to find out what you said or did. 

I believed you for the longest time that I was sick, I was a monster and that I didn't deserve any of you - but not anymore :)


However, I'm going to leave a final gift for the family anyway - I've ordered the DNA kit to get my DNA tested, to confirm suspicions about Aunt Elizabeth, Rita and Mom - mostly because Rita deserves to know.


Otherwise, I leave you with the lyrics to "Carolina" by Taylor Swift, from the movie, "Where the Crawdads Sing"  in the video below.


Only unlike Kya, I'm not going to seek vengeance and make honest people of you, you will note that I never have - I'm going to continue to to walk away and let you believe whatever you want, because I can't and shouldn't control what you think or believe. 

Also, I already don't do any other social media and won't be - so though it's been a long time since a hack or impersonation from you know who, they're still around so we can't rule it out - just know it's not me - but hell, you already believe it was me doing it to myself anyway, so never mind lol. 

Lastly and most importantly, when I signed off on all rights to the estate, I meant it - and I never will contest it, you're welcome to it still. 


I love you all, always have, always will, but it's time I disappear completely now, just like you've always wanted me to - and  to give less fodder for gossip and force you to focus on yourselves and your own issues, without blaming me for them.

If any of you change your minds and are willing to meet me halfway, listen to my side of things, listen to possible uncomfortable truths, you can always contact Marian, and she will give you my contact info - but only when you're truly willing to consider the possibility that what you were told to believe about me, or needed to believe about me to justify your actions, may not actually be the truth about me. 

Love,

Chrystal








Oh, Carolina creeks
Running through my veins
Lost I was born, lonesome I came
Lonesome I'll always stay

Carolina knows
Why for years I roam
Free as these birds, light as whispers
Carolina knows

And you didn't see me here
No, they never did see me here
And she's in my dreams
Into the mist, into the clouds
Don't leave

I make a fist, I'll make it count
And there are places I will never ever go
And things that only Carolina will ever know

Carolina stains
On the dress she left
Indelible scars, pivotal marks
Blue as the life she fled

Carolina pines
Won't you cover me?
Hide me like robes down the back road
Muddy these webs we weave

And you didn't see me here
No, they never did see me
And she's in my dreams
Into the mist, into the clouds
Don't leave

I'll make a fist, I'll make it count
And there are places I will never ever go
And things that only Carolina will ever know
Oh
Oh
Oh

And you didn't see me here
They never did see me here
No, you didn't see me here
They never saw me


Oh, Carolina knows
Why for years they've said
That I was guilty as sin
And sleep in a liar's bed

But the sleep comes fast
And I'll leave no ghosts
It's between me, the sand, and the sea
Carolina knows






Tuesday, July 19, 2022

My New Personal Anthem: Pink's New Single, "Irrelevant" :)


Clarification added:  The song (and video) is not just about women -  it's also about the hypocrisy found in protecting the unborn, but doing nothing to protect children from school shootings (thus the lyrics "the kids are NOT all right" ),the number of deaths of people of color at the hands of police, LGBTQ legal rights, and the right to peacefully protest - as well as the fear that we all have now, either to go out in public for fear of gun violence or to even exist as one of these marginalized, voiceless people in America.

It's about us theoretically believing all should have a representation voice and rights, as well as equal justice under the law, in America - but applying those rights subjectively and in a biased manner in practice -  even finally giving all the above representation voices and rights, only to take them right back again.





ORIGINAL POST: 

I hadn't planned on a second post today - and I don't want to draw attention away from this morning's post about the Kentucky pack-horse librarians, but in a way, it's ... well ... "relevant" :)

So I just now heard/watched the just-released video of Pink's new release yesterday of "Irrelevant."


Truth be told, I needed this today - maybe wallowing just a tad in self-pity over something (nothing to do with my husband, he's great :)


The video is filled with powerful imagery, and the music ... well, not the best Pink song musically...  it's the lyrics.


Not melodic or poetic in the least, but apt - this song still hit me like a timely, much-needed, inspirational lightning bolt today - both with the state of affairs of the world and personally.


Due to this personal situation, which pricked some old stuff, at first, I felt hurt, fearful, and the old familiar feeling of powerlessness - followed thereafter by numbness.

However, the one thing I forgot to feel was angry -  that it was okay to be angry over this continuing saga, it was quite justified.

That's right, folks, brace yourselves - a woman is angry.


*Gasp* -  I do declah, whatever shall we do -  call the cops in riot gear?  The national guard?

;)


Yeah, um - settle down, that won't be necessary - because I'm not going to do anything with that anger, but sing along with this song  :)


Thus, "Irrelevant" is my new anthem :)

(For the record, it used to be Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" - until I realized some things truly should be chalked up to lost causes lol.)


I hereby dedicate this song to the Supreme Court of the United States, Donald Trump and the Trumpets -  and certain members of my family :)



The certain members of my family are, ironically, women themselves -
who claim to be feminists that support the rights and voices of women, but are completely oblivious to their contribution to the problem by "suspending" those values subjectively, selectively, and in a biased manner with other women -  particularly me, the family scapegoat -  gaslighting, dismissing, discrediting, and invalidating, every bit as much as they claim the "toxic males"  in their lives have done to them. 


#BreakTheGaslightingCycle  

#Can'tEraseMe/History


"

You can say that I'm irrelevant, insignificant
But I've been here all along
I'll be your heretic, you fuckin' hypocrites!


Sticks and stones and all that shit
Does Jesus know I'm innocent?
I'd like to think he'd gladly take us all"


"You can call me irrelevant, insignificant - I won't call on you at all ..."






The Pack-Horse Librarians of Kentucky

 




(These are actual photos taken by new photographers traveling with them for stories) 

I don't know why I'm just now learning about this, but I never knew about the women of the Pack-Horse Library until now, after I just bought a a historical fiction novel based on them (more on that later). 

I mean, I knew there were midwives and doulas that traveled via horse or mule later to Eastern Kentucky, but I had no idea there was a traveling pack-horse (mule) library from 1935 to 1943.  At first, they traveled in groups, but eventually had to travel alone, come hell or high water.








Not only did they deliver them, but if there was time, they would read to adults and children alike, as well as try to teach them to read , if there was time (they often started at 4:30 a.m. so they could go and return by sunset, which is earlier in the mountains.




So the history - by the time of the Great Depression,  only 31% of Eastern Kentucky was literate.

(As an aside, both of my paternal grandparents in Harlan were remarkably among the literate).

However, these isolated mountain communities no longer had access to any libraries at all, as the few that remained were closed due to lack of funding, and even the schools had no books for their children.

Thus, Eleanor Roosevelt (LOVE her, who doesn't?) pushed for more  literacy in this area, so under her husband's WPA government work program, women from Kentucky's more literate communities were hired to travel by horse or pack-horse (mule) with a load full of books to distribute to the people of Eastern Kentucky in Appalachia - to individuals, to later makeshift libraries and public schools. 








They women were paid $28 a month and oftentimes, during the Great Depression, were the sole income-earners in their families until WW2.

In fact, here is Eleanor Roosevelt visiting the women in May 1937.




I guess they figured a woman outsider coming in was less of a threat, plus it was mostly women's clubs donating the books, etc.

But can you imagine how dangerous that was for them?  

Not only from nature (bears, wildcats, mountain lions, etc.) and the elements (ice and snow), but from gun-toting Appalachians - which is what this new book I'm reading is about.

Additionally, the men in particular didn't care for these "book women" to educate their women, they though it was unnatural and not Godly lol.

(My paternal grandparents, however, I'm quite certain, did NOT share that mentality, as they pushed for our education lol)

Regardless, the women did not carry guns and had no mode of self-defense but in addition to being literate themselves, they had to prove being skilled riders through any conditions!











Amazing!  And thank you, brave ladies!


So the historical fiction novel I just received is called "The Giver of Stars" by Jojo Moyes, and I can't tell you much about it because I just started it last night.




HOWEVER, while I'm writing this, I just learned that there was another historical-fiction novel published just a month before called "The Women of Troublesome Creek," by Kim Michele Richardson

 ...



... and there was apparently a controversy, after an accusation that Jojo Moyes stole Kim's story in some way, some sort of plagiarism?

I haven't seen anything since, though, and apparently both women interviewed real pack-horse librarians and used their stories, so it makes sense that they'd be similar anyway, but who knows.

But there you go, take your pick or read both :)


If you choose neither over the controversy, a better choice might be a nonfiction book about the pack-horse library called "Cut Down Shin Creek" (which I'm ordering next). 





Also, here's an NPR article and interview from 2018 with one of the still-living "book women," 97-year-old Mary-Ruth Dieter :)


(Unfortunately, Mary-Ruth passed a year later in 2019.)


What a little gem find of Kentucky history I never even knew about: ) 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

The University of Kentucky Aboretum/State Botanical Garden

Although I could be either a city girl or a country girl, the city I'd live in must have trees, I'd suffocate with them.  For instance, I could never live in NYC, because it literally is a concrete jungle except for Central Park.  Boston, Chicago, DC all made sure to keep many streets tree-line, so I could deal - but NYC, fuggetabout it lol.

So in Lexington, we now have an increasing tree-shortage problem.  It was already largely this way semi-naturally, providing a perfect pastureland for horse and cattle farms, but with all of the development projects that have gone on here in the past 20 years, many were just cut down.

The problem was becoming so noticeable and so bad that that last year, when the local electric company, Kentucky Utilities, began cutting down more for power lines (cutting tree limbs back to the trunk or cutting down trees entirely), there was a public outcry, and KU just relented a few weeks ago to doing a better assessment job.  Because in fact, there is no need to cut the limbs back as far as they were cutting them, to the trunk or cutting trees down completely.

In 1991, the University of Kentucky established the UK Arboretum, specifically to grow more trees in Lexington.  However, it remained largely a barren wasteland, or more accurately, a grassy field, even up until 10 years ago, when Mark and I took walks there.  

Walks became difficult on hot summer days, though, because despite the fact that it was named specifically an "arboretum" - literally meaning a home for trees - there were few except in one back corner - and there was literally no shade for hot summer walks.

In 2000, in addition to UK and Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government funding, it received funding from the state government to become a botanical garden.

I realize trees take time to grow after being planted, but there still weren't many new ones being planted.  In fact, it wasn't until the past 10 years that private donations and volunteers came in, and finally - we have trees!  And flowers!  All labeled so you can learn :)

It's finally coming along, right? 





































Still a long way to go, but a far cry even from what it was 10 years ago, even 5 years ago - and at least there is shade and more to see on this walk :)


Thursday, July 14, 2022

Ivana Trump Dies (UPDATED) ...


(Updated)

 

Okay, so I know what everyone's thinking and saying, and I get it (and I admit, it's what first ran through my head, too)  - the timing is almost too coincidental, with her children to testify in the NYC civil trial, next week, and the ongoing January 6th congressional hearings  - but let's wait until there's more info, yes?   

I know, I know -  Trump-Republicans jump to conclusions based on even less proof, like with Seth Rich - but the point is that we do NOT want to do the same, and instead, we need to continue to follow the evidence, rather than jumping to conclusions/believing our own wild speculation as fact, despite the odd timing.


HOWEVER - not helping is the fact that there are basically two different reports circulating that drastically differ, depending on your sources, which is a bit odd. 

In the first version, there was an initial report of cardiac arrest called in via 911, prompting the NYC Fire Department paramedics to show up, finding her unconscious and unresponsive.  

The second version states that her death was "accidental" and she may have fallen down the stairs. 

Regardless, both versions of the story say she was found at the bottom of the stairs. 

*Cue music from "The Staircase?"*

 Just kidding - kind of?


I guess both of those things could be true - she could've gone into cardiac arrest AND fallen down the stairs.


But then here's a couple of questions, about the first version ...

If this version is true -  that someone called 911 and reported a cardiac arrest - why wouldn't this person also mention her fall down the stairs?

Also, how would the person calling 911 already know that it was cardiac arrest, rather than a heart attack?

Because yes, there is a difference - a heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is stopped, but a cardiac arrest is when the heart itself malfunctions and stops beating altogether. 

Unless someone had foreknowledge of cause and effect, the distinction between a heart attack VS. cardiac arrest would otherwise take a medical professional - and if one was present and knew it was cardiac arrest, why not perform CPR until the paramedics arrived? 

Thus, I'm inclined to believe the second version, it was a fall - but then that leads to all sorts of other questions lol.

And still, someone called 911 for the paramedics to show up, so ... why?


I'm not sure, maybe that info is forthcoming.

Not that if it was foul play,  I'd trust the NYC-FD's report of anything regarding the Trumps, considering they'd clearly lie and die for the man, or even necessarily the NYC medical examiner -  but let's at least wait until the official cause of death is announced, credible or not.

Regardless, I think we should pause on the January 6th and NYC civil stuff for a while - because it's likely the trial, and any resulting charges, would appear heartless and vicious - or worse, result in minimized charges.

Yes, of  course -  if there was any foul play, that would be the goal, and the timing is convenient - but the fact is, it doesn't matter - let's  at least hold until the children bury their mother, am I right? 

______________________________________________



UPDATE:  So the official cause of death was "blunt force trauma to the torso" from a fall and that "no foul play" is suspected, and it is said to be the last comment on the subject.  

No word if a toxicology report would be performed.

Okay, so ... typically, falls on stairs resulting in death are from blunt force trauma to the head and neck, not "the torso" - that's a bit unusual. or at least an unusual way to put significant enough internal bleeding to cause death .

Because  though the torso does include the back, it most often refers to the chest, abdomen and pelvis - particularly the abdomen and pelvis - like when you say someone has a "long torso."



Also, falling, your arms go out instinctively, specifically trying to break your fall and protect the more vulnerable parts of the body, like the torso.

Okay, so - a few questions, if I may?


1) Would falling on dull, repetitive stairs actually be enough of a "blunt force" to the torso to cause death?

 

2) Would they care to explain how a person can receive "blunt force" trauma directly to the torso, during a fall, without landing directly on an object?   

 

3)  I could see internal bleeding to the torso from a fall might, but then why not instead say "internal bleeding from internal injuries sustained during the fall?"

 

4)  This implies enough internal bleeding to cause death, which takes time - how long did she lay there before someone called? 

 

5)  Why did initial reports say someone called 911 due to cardiac arrest?  

 

6)  If there was significant enough injury to the torso to cause enough internal bleeding to cause death, there would be blood from the mouth - did the person calling 911 not see that?  
Of course, this depends on the organ, but blunt-force trauma to the stomach, liver, gallbladder or spleen, to that degree , will eventually result in bleeding, and even lungs would cause bleeding up through the respiratory tract eventually - but like I say, depending on the organ, that takes varying amounts of time depending on the organ.  Only the heart wouldn't eventually result in bleeding through the mouth, if I'm not mistaken?

 

7)  With such an an unusual cause of death for a fall given as "blunt force trauma to the torso," how can foul play automatically ruled out so quickly?

Because you know what else can cause "blunt force trauma to the torso" that caused enough internal bleeding to actually kill you?

Something like, oh, I don't know -  being hit with something like a baseball bat first? 


So at this point, I am going to say - that is an extremely odd way to state the cause of death for a fall. 

But unless the family presses for more information, and a toxicology report, there won't be any more information - how likely is that?

Sad situation.




Tuesday, July 12, 2022

"Where the Crawdads Sing" - The Movie

 (Edited - content added) 




So the movie version of this book just premiered, this week, produced by Reese Witherspoon - and I'm almost afraid to see it because I don't want to be disappointed after reading the book! :) 

(I hate dat, when a movie ruins a good book, right? With a few exceptions, the movie versions of books aren't usually as good.)





Plus the reviews aren't so great from critics (although audiences loved it). 

I haven't read the actual reviews yet, I'm just judging by the scores - and I'm wondering if the critics read the book first and if the score isn't based on that, or they haven't read it and were disappointed with the end, which you're supposed to feel conflicted about. 

In fact, I, myself, was disappointed with the end, though I get it, and still a good read.


Without giving too much away, I was like, "After all the tall tales about her, the lies, why would she now make honest people out of them?" right?

In fact, I even talked to my (now retired) therapist about it - perhaps overly identifying with the character and also worried about social perceptions of women - who had also read the book. 

I can't remember exactly what she said, but something like, "Right, well, it's not what you or I would choose, but you can also understand that for someone raised without guidance or even offers of guidance,  completely powerless in society, only observations of natural justice make sense to her - and we know that ignored social justice sometimes leads people to seek their own justice - which becomes fantasy poetic justice in novels. We don't condone it, wouldn't do the same, but we do understand it."

"I think we all can relate to Kya in certain ways, that's why the book is so popular -  and I can see how you, in particular, can relate to her especially, with your background - but the fact is, you're NOT Kya - you would never do the same -  but you do understand the temptation to finally make honest people out of some, right, since they already believe it anyway and nobody would either believe you or help you, especially with lack of justice, right?"


I guess I do - and at times, snapped back at them hard, with that exact thought in mind of making honest people of them, but it only made things worse - plus, in addition to a very strong sense of morality stopping me from ever considering any other options, I personally would never give them the satisfaction of making honest people of them - better to just let them think what they want and walk very far away and not let their gossip and behavior control what happens to the rest of my life :) 


I accidentally did see a piece of a review, though while trying to avoid it, which said that it's very Hallmarkish/Nicholas Sparks-ish -  which was my worst nightmare that might happen to this story and a shame - because the love story is a side story, really, to her story and the bigger societal commentary, and actually takes a back seat as he disappears from her life for years?

I mentioned this book after reading it almost a year ago, and it ended up being one of the best books I'd read in a while (close tie with "All The Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr) - neither book could I put down, which is always a good sign with a book :)

Though perhaps not a high-brow, technical masterpiece, it's written in the tradition of the great Southern novelist storytellers, particularly the female variety - Harper Lee, Flannery O'Conner, Barbara Kingsolver. 

I can "hear" Harper Lee as a big influence, in both the social commentary regarding the rigid social constructs of gender and race in the American south, only less centralized to the story - but Lee, O'Conner, and Kingsolver held up a wall mirror to society, very shockingly and directly, whereas Delia Owens is more subtle - essentially the same social commentary, updated for today, but it's feels a bit more like she is slyly taking out a small compact mirror from her purse, feigning the need to powder her nose, but in actuality, holding up the same mirror to society as her predecessors, then putting it back in her purse for a while until she needs it again :)

(Also, the above three would need to originally be a wildlife biologist, before becoming a novelist, like Delia Owens was, which is the aspect of her writing that most differentiates her, especially clear when she details Kya's relationship with nature.) 

So the plot ... 

It's about a young girl abandoned by her family, raising herself in a shack in the marshes of North Carolina, and the rumors of her of course taking on a life of their own - add a dash of a love story and a murder mystery. 

As for the theme and subthemes, so many books today seem to "dumb down" the theme or supposed subthemes so that they slap you in the face -  but not Delia, again, holding up the small compact mirror. 

She weaves in what are actual several adjunctive subthemes and social commentary into one rich tapestry to the main theme - i.e. how uncomfortable society becomes with women who are deemed too unconventional, too nonconformist, too independent, too natural, too authentic, or too "free-spirited" - the assumptions and harsh judgment that is placed upon them, and how such women are often mistaken for "wild," insane, sexually immoral, or stupid, their motives presumed the worst and often projected (rather than it being possible that what motivates them is far simpler)  -  particularly if they are poor - and the accompanying power abuse, injustice, and lack of social support that result, particularly in the American South. 

Another related subtheme is how the supposedly "good Christian" white people in town have no compassion or mercy for her or her circumstances, too concerned with propriety, without ever considering that she had no guidance  - thus, mercy, compassion, and guidance are only displayed by people of color towards her,  who know all too well what it's like to live in such a society, and thus watch over her - as much as she will allow herself to be watched over and guided. 


But the main theme is the reason I think women in particular fell in love with this book - because there's a little "Marsh Girl" in all of us, or a longing to be that surrounded by nature, that independent, natural, authentic and free - but knowing all too well that Kya's story is a cautionary tale of what will inevitably happen to any woman who dares to be, whether by choice or necessity  ;) 


As I mentioned, I felt super conflicted about the end, wishing it didn't end that way, but knowing it was inevitable - and I'm wondering if they gave it a Hollywood ending instead?

I missed one of my favorite shows, CBS Sunday Morning, this past week, as we went to the park for a long walk - and just caught this clip of author, Delia Owens, who, don't you know, now lives, of course -  in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina :)




(Who knows, we might have even run into her in town, over the holiday there, and never known it?)

Regardless, I'll hold out a while before seeing it, just because I don't want to be disappointed lol. 

However, I will say that I love, love, LOVE Taylor Swift's haunting, mountain-folk influenced song released for the film, simply called   "Carolina" ... 


.


Perfect - well, it's at least an Oscar-worthy theme song, if nothing else?  :)






Monday, July 11, 2022

Appalachian Vacation Highlight-Reel Video, 2022


So here it is, my new 2022 vacation video, which I'm also placing in the side bar :)




PS -   I only realized after it was finished and I'd sent it out to a few people in RL that there were typos in the captions - whups! 

So I'd have to redo the whole video to fix them, which would change the link ;/

Oh, well y'all know how I am, type fast and go back to work, I rarely proofread my personal stuff until later, when I have time, since I proofread all day for a living lol. 





Sunday, July 10, 2022

Biggie's Big Appalachian Vacation, Days #4 and #5: Blue Ridge Parkway/Cascade Falls, Purlear, NC, The Trip Home, and Roadside Oddities ...


(*Edited - content and pics added)


 


So with Mark's knee getting better each day, we decided to try an actual hiking trail today, to Cascade Falls at E.B. Jeffries Park, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, in Purlear North Carolina. 


Just to the east of Boone, near Deep Gap, you can hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway, making it about 20 minutes from our cabin.

Before the trail was a  lookout point on the BRP, so we stopped and I took a panoramic. 

At the end of the video, you can just just a trace of Aaliyah, being filmed by her boyfriend, David, who ended up being our hiking buddies - super nice, super fun people :)





However, first, of course, Biggie insisted we take a pic of him with the view ...






















Just a bit down the road from that is the Cascades Trail to Cascade Falls ... 






Where we pulled in at exactly the same time as David and Aaliyah.  We chatted for a minute, but Mark and I had to make quick bathroom trips, so they went on ahead - much to David's chagrin, who wanted to wait.  They were from coastal Carolina and said he "Doesn't do woods," he's scared of the mountain lions and bears.  

I reassured him this trail was very populated, making it very unlikely for either to bother, so on they went and we said we'd catch up.

Once Mark and I were finished, here came back Aaliyah and David and I said, "There's no way you saw them that fast, what happened?"

Aaliyah said, "My 'girlfriend' wants you all to join us, it's safer" LOL!

David just shook his head and laughed.

I told them I was afraid of heights, plus sharks, where they're from, so it's cool, everybody's afraid of something, and then showed him Biggie to make him laugh, which worked.   

They got a big kick out of Biggie traveling in Mark's hoodie (as everyone did) and I believe they took their own pic of him to tell people they saw Bigfoot too lol.

That's David in the left corner of the pic ... 





So it's Aaliyah first, then David, then me, then Mark behind.

Me:  "I see what you're doing, you're staying in the middle so as not to get picked off first, smart lol."

 

David:  "Lol, right?  I'm not stupid."
 
Aaliyah:  "Okay, but I'm telling your mama" lol.  

 

Me:  "Well,  I won't be of much help behind you both.  Mark will, though, bad knee and all.  He seems all mild mannered, but he's a bad ass - he was an Army ranger and actually trained in this territory, he's got you - PLUS - he's got bear spray lol. " 

As we're walking along the trail, David stopped for every little sound, and once it was a couple who walked off the trail, clearly trying to spook everybody else.

David:  "Wait, what was that?"    

 

Me:  "Just some 400-lb white man, in a MAGA hat, sitting over there on a log behind the tree, trying to be funny,  probably hiding out here from January 6th, nobody's caught him yet lol - now THERE is something we should ALL be scared of LOL" 

David:  "Hahaha!  Didn't you say you all are from Kentucky? What do they think of you all there?"   

 

Me:  "Lol, yes.  Well, he's originally from Detroit, I grew up in Cincy, but my whole family is from Kentucky, and Kentucky now, yep.  Yeah - we're super popular there, as you might imagine *pfft* lol."

(David and Aaliyah laugh). 

Me:  " ... AND we don't care lol.  Wrong is wrong.  We don't go along with wrong, just so people will like us - because it's not just about us, right?" 

 

David:  "Amen." 


Good to keep him laughing, more at ease in the woods - he eased up, as we went.


Except he did keep looking up at the treetops.


Me:  "Why you keep looking up there, what do you think is going to come from there?  Bears and mountain lions aren't gonna be up in trees that high, I promise. Are you looking for a pterodactyl or what lol?"   

 

David:  "I don't know, a pterodactyl, a dragon, bigfoot, who knows? lol"  

 

Me:  "Lol, a dragon.  You know what, you've been watching too much Stranger Things, right?  

 

Aaliyah confirmed, with a laugh, they'd both just watched the last episodes of Stranger Things.

Me:  "I promise you, there's no demadogs or Veccna in these mountains or woods lol.  Just pretend you're Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett exploring uncharted territory lol.

 

David:  "Yeah, but Daniel Boone had a Kentucky long rifle."
 
Me:  "True, but I'm glad we don't, because I know with as skittish as you are here, you would've already shot any number of innocent birds, deer and rabbits out of season, by now, and probably that MAGA idiot, trying to be funny and scare people, too."  

 

David:  "LOL, that's true, I don't like the noises in here." 

 

Me:  "But like I say, this trail is too populated for bears or cougars/mountain lions, though.  But FYI, bears usually walk up behind you, but Marks's back there with the bear spray." 
"If you ever do see a black bear, don't run, don't climb a tree - back away slowly and make yourself seem and big and as loud as you can, but again, this trail is too populated. " 
"Grizzly bears - which are only in the west and northwest - if you see one of those, run like hell lol - climb up as high as you can in a tree, they're too heavy to climb." 
"Mountain lions are probably hiding way up in the rocks in the day, they're nocturnal, it's too hot for  them in the day to hunt, they come out at night"  

 


A little bit further along the trail, we see a bee hive, which I explained was something I was scared of and and needed to keep a safe distance from, considering I'm highly allergic to bees (carrying my EpiPen with me at all times on hikes ;) 

Pretty though, right? 





And a little bit further down the patch, we reach the upper part of the falls ...










And then looking down ...

And a little further down the path is the best view  of the cascade ... 







Which I took video of, because I love the sound of a waterfall, helps me sleep :)






At the very end, you can hear me say, "All right, c'mon, Daniel Boone, let's get a picture of you all" and Aaliyah saying, "Right? lol"

Then they took some pics of us :)





Forgive the lack of makeup, I knew it was going to be a humid day for a hike, so what would be the point lol ...







Aaliyah reminded me, after taking a few pics that I might want one with Biggie, and I said, "OMG, I almost forgot about my baby, how could I forget the baby! lol"  - so we decided to do a pic where it looked like Biggie was creeping up behind us in the woods  ...









After which we hiked back and parted ways, thanking each other for making it a fun hike :)

As a matter of fact, we came up with a new term for a man who behaves like a Karen, because there isn't one, but we all agreed there were plenty around. 


David:  "Let's call them Kens, Kennys" LOL.

 


Me:  "OMG, YES -  "Kens," like Barbie and Ken, I LOVE that!  Kennys and Karens!  Hahaha!"


On the way back to Boone, we stopped at a little roadside former pioneer camp (recreated), where Biggie wanted to now live? 
















Then he stole my hat to look the part! 




Mark, trying to explain to Biggie why we cannot, in fact, live there, as well as why it's not okay to take Mom's hat (while curiously now wearing it himself ;)
















On the next day, sadly, it was time to go home, and we decided to take a more scenic back route home, rather than the main highway. 

So we took some pics of some sights along the way, including some roadside oddities, particularly in East Tennessee. 

First was Watauga Lake, which we plan to visit more next summer ... 

















Eastern Tennessee is also very beautiful but ... 





But has some interesting roadside stuff, which Mark and I love to stop and enjoy the kitsch ...






Biggie was now super excited  to reconnect with family!







Then we saw this, no lie, in Eastern Tennessee ...






LOL - how many people do you think vote for Jack Daniels in Tennessee based on name and location alone? LOL






I also have to say, as beautiful as East Tennessee is, it scares me with how political they are.  You may remember us passing, in disbelief,  "The Trump Store" in Pigeon Forge, last year.

This year, I give you "MAGA Donuts" in Tazewell, TN ...






Which you will note is three doors down from "Liberty Arms" gun shop, at the strip mall, with a life insurance agency in between (and a pawn shop across the way). 






You know, for all your Capitol-storming needs - bad food, pawning your wedding ring for guns, and life insurance in case anything happens to you? ;)

Eastern Tennessee is very beautiful, but scares me - slightly more than Kentucky and Arkansas, but still a lot less than Texas, I guess lol.

Like our honorary son, B, put it yesterday ...

B: "E TN is lovely, but then you come back into civilization and want to run back into the woods lol."


Me: "Lol, right? It's like, which is scarier -  an East Tennessee Trumper or a black bear? I think it's a toss-up."
 


B: "Lol, well, one is a big, hairy, brutish beast with no respect for human or animal life, and the other is a bear, so ..."

 

Me: "Haha! Well, except the unborn, don't forget, but then they don't want to/can't pay to help raise it, either - and  other white Christian Republican males, of course."


We're just joking - sort of - because actually, I feel super sorry for them - very poor people always looking for a savior, right? :(

This explains their almost idol-like worship of Trump :/

Also, I'm probably related to most of them lol. 




Next was passing through the Cumberland Gap - which you can read more about here, but was the passage Daniel Boone used through the Appalachian Mountains, the easiest route past them, found in the tri-state area of Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky ... 








From the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Middlesboro, Kentucky ...












An authentic civil war cannon, used at the Battle of Chickamauga ... 










And then, pulling Biggie back in the car, kicking and screaming, we finished the trip home. 

Ahh, another memorable Appalachian vacation complete :) 

Hope you enjoyed - video of the trip on the way, after a morning walk!