Tales from Appalachian Woman’s Deck

This tale from Appalachian Woman’s back deck is brought to you by: Butterflies, and Hummingbirds, and Goldfinches; oh my!

The armpit of summer in the South; who doesn’t love it? Wait, actually, “who does love it?” is the better question. As Guitar Dude would say, it’s hotter’n satan’s anus out there.

Summer in the South is the time of year when I keep my super-sweet, lily-white self in the house for fear of melting or burning to a crisp. The only reason I go outside on a regular basis is to water my flower garden… and maybe go buy beer. A girl’s gotta have priorities. But this isn’t about beer, as much as I love it… this is about my lovely flowers.

Early season… before everything REALLY got going.

I’ve been working hard on my green thumb this season, and it’s really paying off. My deck looks like the cover of a Better Homes and Gardens. OK, maybe I’m a bit biased… and maybe stretching the truth a tiny bit. But heck, I even got my African violet to bloom, again. I brought an aloe plant back from the dead, too. I am the plant whisperer, hear me roar!

Sorry, I’m kind of outta control this morning.

I planted certain flowers knowing they would attract certain critters. Once I fended off all the beetles, my zinnias started to attract so many butterflies. My petunias started to bring hummingbirds. (My green onions are bringing caterpillars that eat the green onions thereby guaranteeing that Guitar Dude and I will never get to eat any, but hey… I’m feeding something, right?)

When the season started, I got to watch bees happily picking up as much pollen as possible. I even learned not to be terrified of them which is a pretty big feat for me. Usually when I see a bee, I run screaming and flappin’ my arms everywhere. But after standing out there watching them busy themselves without a single wicked glance in my direction, I realized they were just doing their thing.

Once the bees started to move on, then came the real treats – the reasons why I planted these particular flowers. I love looking out my kitchen window to see what’s visiting my flower garden at that moment. I’ve been keeping my camera on the kitchen table so I can capture and share some of these simple pleasures with you fine folks.

My zinnias have drawn some of the biggest butterflies I’ve ever seen. Butterflies are special to me because they remind me of my mom. When I see one, I can’t help but feel like she’s visiting me.

Appalchian Woman

One of the biggest butterflies I’ve ever seen…

The best part is, the butterflies keep coming back. This is the first time I’ve planted zinnias, and I’m hooked. At our next house, I may get really out of control and plant an entire butterfly garden. I just love them so much.

That right there is Mama Nature at her finest.

One day, I looked out and saw the sweetest looking goldfinch making a huge mess of my spent blooms. It was so pretty, I couldn’t even get mad at it. In fact, I’ve left a few spent blooms out there in the hopes it would come back, but so far no dice. I guess I’ll count myself lucky I got a visit at all.

Appalachian Woman

“Hmm…. what can I eat next?”

The one creature that flits in and out before I have a chance to grab my camera is a hummingbird. Man, them thangs are fast! I was a woman on a mission, but each time I would fail. Then, one day I was doing the dishes and saw one actually hanging around a bit. So, I grabbed my camera and started shooting through the glass. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

This time, I actually got it. I was over-the-m00n excited! Guitar Dude walked into the kitchen, and I was like “LOOK!” and shoved my tiny camera screen in his face. He squinted at it and said, “Cool.” I was like, “It’s a HUMMINGBIRD!” so he squinted harder and gave me a slightly more emphatic, “Oh, cool!”

Appalachian Woman

Ain’t it purty?

So, that’s about it. I’ll call this one Tales from the Appalachian Woman’s deck, I reckon. I’ve just been enjoying the beauty so much, I thought I’d share it with y’all.

I hope you’re having a great summer and staying cool. This heat ain’t no joke, y’all.

’til next time… xoxo

Appalachian Woman

My Little Stomatitis Kitty

Oh, hey! It’s been a while, huh? I have so many things going through my poor brain these days, but today I wanted to post about my little stomatitis kitty. Most of y’all probably have no idea what that is, and I’ll explain here in a few, but for those who have cats suffering from stomatitis my hope is this post may help.


You see, when I first moved to Georgia some 8 years ago, I had only one cat. A few days before I moved, I had to put my beloved Alabaster down due to cancer which only left Loki. Without another cat to keep her company, Loki became fat, spoiled, and lazy. So after a few months I decided to get her a companion. I went up to the humane society, and this little kitty Sweetpea totally suckered me in. I took her home where Loki proceeded to make it know that she was top dawg, err kitteh, in our house. Eventually, they settled down and actually began to like each other.

After having Sweetpea for quite a while, she began to paw at her mouth and even cry out every once in a while. Being a good kitty mama, I took her to our vet only to find out she had stomatitis. I’d never heard of stomatitis before, but the vet explained what it was and most of the treatment options. I say most because what ended up working for her wasn’t among the first options presented to me. At the time, the best option was a combination of antibiotics and steroids, thankfully given in shots, that usually lasted around 6 – 8 weeks. We became regulars at the vet, Sweetpea and I.

Eventually, we moved to TN which meant starting over with a new vet. It was a rough start, too. The first time I took her in, the vet yanked open her mouth which caused her cry out in a way I’d never heard. I cried. Seriously, I immediately started to cry and could not get myself together. I left feeling like the worst pet parent in the world, but at least Sweetpea had her shots so she’d feel better (and hopefully forgive me some day).

After a while, I settled on a different vet at the same practice who had a gentle nature (it helped that there’s also a HUGE note written in Sweetpea’s chart that says “DO NOT TOUCH HER MOUTH”). The new vet and I decided that we’d done the whole steroids and antibiotics dance long enough, so I took the plunge and let them do a dental exam on her with permission to remove the worst of her teeth to try to calm down the stomatitis and give her some relief.

You see, stomatitis is an auto-immune disease where the animal’s gums attack their teeth as foreign bodies. Basically, her body turned on itself. The gums become very inflamed and painful making it difficult to eat or, really, just enjoy being a cat. The steroids would knock down her immune system enough for the stomatitis to subside between visits, while the antibiotics would ensure any infection in there would heal. It was a painful, God-awful cycle for her.

So, the day of her dental procedure, I dropped her off and went home to wait out the dread of wondering how the procedure would go. When the surgeon called, she said her mouth was a lot worse than they thought it would be, so they removed all but her 4 canine teeth. My heart sank, my eyes filled with tears. Just the idea that my poor kitty had all of her teeth but four yanked out made me feel terrible. They said I could pick her up that afternoon. By the time I got there, I was flat out devastated.


Sweetpea always snuggles when she doesn’t feel good. Poor girl!


We had a helluva time with the recovery. She got an infection. I couldn’t figure out how to get her to eat anything. Nerves were shot, stress levels were high, and my poor kitty was in so much pain. I had syringes of pain meds to give her (and, by the way, if you happen to stick yourself with a dirty syringe after giving your cat her pain meds, most likely nothing will happen but you’ll wonder for days if you’re turning into a cat now that you share DNA with this little creature), but they only seemed to make her lethargic and even less inclined to eat.

Eventually she recovered, and she also began to eat canned food only again. After she fully healed, she even started to eat dry food. Can you imagine? A cat with 4 teeth eating dry kibble?

Then it happened.

The stomatitis came back. I was devastated that I put my cat through the pain of having all her teeth removed only to find out that it didn’t solve the problem. Removing the canines was not an option for me, and the vet also agreed. We started the steroids and antibiotics again, and he vowed to find another solution.

He called me one day and said he’d found it. It was an off-label use of a well-known medication called Atopica. It was a liquid and would need to be given orally. Crap. How in the world was I going to manage to give oral meds to Sweetpea when her mouth was in pain? At first I tried mixing it with her food, but she’s pretty smart (and it smelled pretty bad). Eventually, I sucked it up and gently placed the tip of the syringe at the side of her mouth until she smacked it open. Then I squeezed. She became accustomed to the routine, and still today allows  me to give her the medicine.


Now she’s feeling good and always up to something!


Here we are about 6 weeks later, and I’ve seen absolutely no sign of the stomatitis yet. The Atopica appears to be working miracles for my sweet little girl. She takes a dose every day, but eventually the vet is hopeful that we can move her to an every-other-day dose. The difference in her is amazing! She’s a happy little kitty, again. She’s mischievous again (much to the chagrin of our other cats), and she’s enjoying a mix of wet AND dry food!

I hope you’re still reading, and I hope this gives a little glimmer of hope to all you fur-parents out there with a cat suffering from stomatitis. Please talk to your vet about Atopica. It may not be the solution for your kitty, but it has changed my life and the life of my little Sweetpea.

Chasing Waterfalls in the Appalachians

I spent a lot of my time in North Georgia chasing waterfalls throughout the Appalachian Mountains. Yes, I did just plant that earworm in your head. What do the kids say? #sorrynotsorry I’m not very good at hashtagging.

Anyway, once I took up photography, I decided I wanted to figure out how to get that smooth, silky flowing look, and that takes some practice. Some of my favorite shots I’ve taken were during this timeframe because I was trying something new. Do you ever want to just try something new without knowing whether or not it will work? It’s a cool feeling. If you haven’t already, you should try it! Here are a few of my favorite shots from what I’m as of right this minute referring to as my ‘chasing waterfalls’ period.

My first try… it’s not so much a waterfall as it is rocks in the middle of the creek but, either way, I missed the mark with the flowy-water stuff.

Appalachian Woman

The next time, I got much closer to what I wanted to achieve.

Appalachian Woman

Then, I finally nailed it. This is what I like to see when I look at waterfalls. Nice, flowing water. Sure, it’s not realistic because what it’s actually doing is crashing down and making a huge racket, but they still bring me this kind of peace and serenity. The people who were also trying to view this waterfall were getting all persnickety with me taking up the best spot, but I paid them no mind. They were tourists from Atlanta anyway.


Everywhere I went with water after that, I wanted it to look soft and flowing. This makes the trip a bit more cumbersome because it requires a tripod. And a shady day.

Appalachian Woman

By the fall of that year, I was an old pro at this flowing waterfall thing, which means I promptly lost interest in it. Does that ever happen to you? Once the challenge is over, it’s like, “OK, next!”

Appalachian Woman


I took a while off from the camera, but this spring has renewed my interest in photography. I’m not sure what my next challenge will be, but you can be sure it will end up here.

Hope you enjoyed these photos!

‘Til next time, xoxo

From the Appalachians to the Outer Banks

Y’all know I love the mountains, but last summer Guitar Dude and I decided to take a little vacation to the Outer Banks (that’s in North Carolina, for those who aren’t fortunate enough to live in the Southeast) with my brother and his girlfriend.  The hubs had never been to the Outer Banks, and I hadn’t been in so long I pretty much forgot what it looked like. If you’ve never been, the Outer Banks is a 200-mile long stretch of barrier islands off the coast of NC. Days before we were to leave, a hurricane blew in as they’re want to do over that’a way. We set out for the coast anyway because we figured someone would’ve called if the house wasn’t still standing. Now, let me pause in my story about this ridiculously beautiful place to tell y’all that if you ever decide to drive from East TN waaaaaaaaaaaaay on over to the Outer Banks, do yourself a favor and stay the night halfway. North Carolina is a wide state. Like, really wide.

Okay, with that out of the way, we got to our house and the only real damage we saw was to the screens on the porch. So, we got a box of thumbtacks, and my brother fixed it right on up.  Our house was beachfront which in the Outer Banks means the ocean is just over a dune. Dunes are very important on barrier islands.

Outer Banks Dunes

Outer Banks dunes are sandy making it hard to carry a cooler with 48 beers in it.

Once we crested the dune, this was the first thing we saw…

Outer Banks

Ocean View at the Outer Banks (as seen through my crappy cell phone camera)

So, we quickly went back to the house and slathered up in sunscreen so we could hit that beautiful beach and ocean. Our crowd included three pasty white folks and a Latina. I’ll let you figure out which sunscreen is whose.

Outer Banks, Sunscreen Required

If you’re pasty and you know it, spray your skin.

My brother has a Jeep so after we were properly sun baked, we decided to head up to Corolla which has wild horses and a 4wd beach that is absolutely breathtaking. It’s supposedly not all that common to see the horses along the shoreline, but we sure got lucky. If you’re a horse lover, or just a nature lover in general, consider giving the fine folks over at Corolla Wild Horse Fund a likey-loo on Facebook. Those folks work long and hard to protect these wild beauties.

Wild horses couldn’t drag me away….

I love lighthouses. I suppose part of the draw for me is that I’ve always lived in the foothills and mountains, so I’d never seen one up close. We didn’t get to see all the lighthouses in the Outer Banks because part of the roads were closed to the south thanks to that dang hurricane. But, I can tell you the Currituck Lighthouse is really cool from the ground. We got in line that day to climb to the top, but I ain’t even going to lie, y’all. It was hotter’n hades, and there are like 10,857 steps (rough estimate based on absolutely nothing), so we just decided to look from the outside and be on our merry way.

After that adventure, we were starving. So we set out to find some vittles. There’s a great little restaurant in Duck where we sat on the sound side and watched the sunset as we ate supper. I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant if I had to, and I couldn’t tell you what I had to eat or drink, but I will never forget this view as long as I live.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Sunset over the sound in the Outer Banks (as seen through my crappy cell phone camera)

Well, that’s been your little beach break in the middle of our cold winter. I hope it warmed you up a tad bit. I know it warmed me up. If you’ve never visited the Outer Banks, please do so. It is a treasure that should be appreciated by all.

’til next time, xoxo

Old Barns of the South

I grew up in what was once a rural county filled with dairy and horse farms and all the old barns that go along with that kind of thing. My step-mom was a horse trainer and she and my dad spent most of my childhood living on this farm or that, so I guess that’s where my obsession with barns began. Whether I’m driving or riding down the road, barns never fail to catch my eye. If I can safely get to the side of the road, I usually stop to take a photo. I figure some day this rural slice of American Pie may fade off into a distant memory so I try to preserve them in photos as much as possible.

One of my very first barn photos was shot with a Canon point-and-shoot. This barn was about a mile from where I grew up, and it’s no longer there instead being replaced by over-development a.k.a. city folks invading the country and turning it into another city. Hmph.

Loudoun County Barn

Loudoun County, VA Barn

This old barn is now part of a park in Dahlonega, GA, and it has most definitely seen better days. I guess when there are swing sets and baseball diamonds and soccer fields to maintain, old barns get overlooked. Of course, the often overlooked stuff is always what catches my eye.

Dahlonega Barn

Old Dahlonega Barn

Sometimes it’s not the barn itself that catches my attention but the entire scene. On this particular day, I just got in my car and decided to do a little country exploring here in East Tennessee. I have no idea where I was when I took this shot, but I know the fluffy clouds and shadows caught my eye so I stopped right there in the middle of the road. Thankfully in the country, you can do that sort of thing.

East Tennessee Barn

East Tennessee Barn

These next two are among my favorite barn photos. I was at the tail end of my drive home to Virginia to visit my family, somewhere in the vicinity of Orange. That’s a place, not only a fruit and color. I saw this barn while still on pavement, so I wheeled onto the dirt road running adjacent to the barn, climbed up on the fence and started snapping away. The grass really was that green, no enhancement there.

Virginia Barn

Virginia Barn

Virginia Barn

Close-up of the Virginia Barn

On that same drive, cutting across Virginia, I stopped at a scenic overlook because, well, I like scenic things. You never really know what you’re going to get at a scenic overlook. Sometimes they’re so overgrown, you can’t see a dang thing. This time, I was pleasantly surprised to find this beautiful farm nestled at the base of the mountains. I’m sure there are tons of photos of this thing floating around, but I wanted to share it here because I feel a deep love for my home state and the rural beauty of these rolling hills really represents why I love it so much.

Central Virginia Farm

Central Virginia Farm

I guess you can take the girl outta the country, but you can’t take the country outta the girl, huh? I hope y’all have enjoyed these photos as much as I enjoyed sharing them with y’all.

‘Til next time… xoxo