A Hodge Podge Sunday Blog

What a glorious Sunday in Galax, Virginia! It was 58 degrees here this morning! WOW, and it’s the end of JULY! I’m so thankful to live in the mountains and the woods, and especially in the summer!

I feel like I’ve been neglecting my reading friends – I haven’t posted any new books for you in way too long! So, for the last dog days of summer, here are some to put on your list. I waited for a new novel from my favorite writer, Robert Hicks, for seven years. As you know, he wrote the incredible book “Widow of the South” in 2005 and followed it up with another awesome novel, “A Separate Country” in 2009. His latest, “The Orphan Mother,” is kind of a follow up to “Widow of the South,” but not really. The main character, Mariah Reddick, was Carrie McGavock’s slave while living at Carnton Plantation and this new book is about her life after the Civil War. I have to be honest and say that I was a tad disappointed. Certainly not in Hick’s writing because he is by far the best – but just more so in the plot. But for ME, it would be extremely difficult to top his first two books, and perhaps I was expecting too much. And at the end of the day, “The Orphan Mother” may be Hick’s least appealing book – but it is still far superior to 60% of the other books out there. So give it a chance and let me know what you think!

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Another book I recently read was “The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson.” Again, an “OK” read, but a great one? No, but perhaps a B-.  But gosh, I’ve had a real dry spell the last several months trying to find anything great to read, so these two novels are the best I have to offer from my recent stack of reading material.

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In fact, I’ve consoled myself the last couple weeks re-reading two of my favorite novels from the past, (something I rarely do) and that was “Cold Mountain,” and “Fair and Tender Ladies,” by an all-time favorite author of mine, Lee Smith. Other recommendations I have for you from long ago books I’ve read are:

“Cataloochee” by Wayne Caldwell

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“Into the Savage Country” by Shannon Burke

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“The Good Journey” by Micaela Gilchrist

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“Wish You Well” by David Baldacci

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Many of you have emailed since yesterday to see how the cabin looked that I mentioned in my video from Friday. As you know, the man who crimped the tin for the log house was here last week, and he mentioned his Father-In-Law had a cabin on his property that he would like taken down before it falls. In great anticipation, myself and some friends went to see it last evening. It was a beautiful drive down to Wytheville, Virginia and out in the country. When we first came upon her, it struck my heart at her beauty.

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But this is a tale of, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” The “good” was certainly that first view of her from the road and her overall appearance. The “good” was the awesome staircase, amazing floor joists, and a “few” good logs.

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The chinking was done in the same way as Aunt Cory’s cabin here on the farm – with slats of wood placed horizontally behind the mortar.

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The ugly … well, that is better described in photos. What could have been an incredible cabin to restore and save if someone had just nailed the tin back down on the roof when it first came up on the ends, is now really just a home for millions of bugs to devour. This breaks my heart …

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This was a sweet little nest made between the logs. This little bird found a beautiful red ribbon to decorate her home with!

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So, I gave my book friends some recommendations, and I don’t want to leave out my music loving friends so here are some you tube links I think you might enjoy! In honor of my Texas trip coming up tomorrow, I’m going to give you three Texas connection songs – all in very different genres! The first is a really great project that was recorded live at the Schneider Dance Hall in Columbus, Texas which was built in the 1930’s. It is a tribute to the traditional sound of Southern Gospel. My personal favorites from the album are the tracks from Courtney Patton and Jamie Lin Wilson.

This website link gives you a video experience of just some of the songs on the album, http://themoderntrade.com/revival

I don’t usually listen to main stream country music, but I will confess here that I do like me some Ronnie Dunn, and here is one that I can get rockin’ to when I’m driving:
“How Far to Waco.”

And to make sure I give you a well-rounded list of genres today, some of you might like this tune by Red Steagall, “Fiddle Man.” Red is a Texas native, and when I was in college, I listened to him faithfully. He is dubbed as the “Great American Story Teller.”

One last thing – if you haven’t seen these new Andrew Wyeth stamps from the USPS – run down to your local office and pick up a sheet (or two)! They are a dream for lovers of A Simple Life!

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When I return from my Texas trip, I might have some updated photos of the log house progress for you – hopefully with the roof on! Stay tuned for that! But for now, I bid you farewell as I pack my suitcase and head out to the Lone Star State with my “Texas Tunes” playing along the way!

Thanks for joining me today!


Everyone’s Favorite Farm

It’s the end of the week, and the final home sneak peek in our upcoming Fall issue – Everyone’s favorite farm: SEVEN GATES FARM! Home to the wonderful James Cramer and the late Dean Johnson. As you know, Jimmie is an Editor here at A Simple Life and we love having him in our family. It was an honor that I got to write this special article about someone I love dearly! Coming to your mailbox very soon! You won’t want to miss it!

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Welcome to our 4th home in the Fall issue!

Welcome to Tuscumbia, Alabama and the fourth home in the upcoming Fall issue! Owners John and Bettye Wagner share their southern hospitality with all of us in this great article. Bettye has been an icon in our industry since the 1970s – as a wonderful American Country dealer and decorator. Many homes she has styled over the years have appeared in countless magazines. I can’t wait for you to see this great home in our Fall issue!

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Fall Issue visit to Prairie Rose Ranch

The wonderful Nebraska home of Duane and Sami McNutt will appear in the upcoming Fall issue – due out in a few weeks! You might recall me posting about my trip to this amazing 13,000 acre cattle ranch last summer. Sami just reminded me that it was a year ago this very week I was there! Wow, it seems like last month! If you haven’t renewed your subscription yet – it’s a must, because you don’t want to miss this visit to the Prairie Rose Ranch!

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Sneak Peek Continues in Wisconsin!

An awesome Fall issue sneak peek continues! Jerry and Donna Shepherd have two early log cabins on their farm in Wisconsin and then built another from old materials. Donna is hands-down one of the best decorators I’ve ever witnessed – just wait till you see all her hard work! AND, the best part is, I will get to see her again on AUGUST 12th when I am in her shop “Tailings” at Mother O’Leary’s Cabin, in Shullsburg for a meet and greet!

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The Fall issue of A Simple Life Magazine is coming to a mailbox or shop near you in just a few weeks!

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We have FIVE amazing home tours to share … plus so MUCH MORE!


Dennis and Judith Conrad have filled their early 1800’s Western Reserve/Greek Revival home in Copley, Ohio,  with an amazing 17th & 18th C. collection.

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Stay tuned for many more sneak peeks in the coming week!