5 Things Appalachia

5 Things


Chatter and her crotchet 

1. Christmas will be here before you know it. Chatter has been crocheting presents as fast as her little fingers will go.


Chitter with a painful bee sting

2. Chitter has done a lot of outside work this summer. She and her sister help several folks in Brasstown with their landscaping needs and she’s tried to spruce up our place by cutting back bushes and small trees that have about took over near the edge of the yard. Along with bruises, cuts, and bites she’s suffered a few bee stings. One was a hornet to the side of the head. By far the worst thing she experienced was grabbing a pile of leaves and sticks which had a copperhead hiding in them. Once she’d flung the snake as far as she could she quit work for that day. Can’t say I blame her.


Tipper – Photo by Teresa Atkinson

3. All of us fully understand the gift of performing together as a family. The camaraderie is there whether we’re playing at home or on a stage somewhere. We’ve made so many great memories traveling around to play for various events. Often Chatter will tell us on the car ride home how special she thinks it is that we get to do this together. Even though we always enjoy ourselves, not all shows go as planned. Sometimes we don’t perform as well as we should. Sometimes the venue isn’t what we were led to believe it was and we just have to make do. Sometimes the crowd is enthusiastic and encouraging and sometimes we wonder why they came to hear us because they seem so uninterested. A recent performance was a perfect example of things not going as planned. On the second song of the night the bridge on Chitter’s fiddle warped. It sounded like a gun went off. There was no fixing it and she didn’t have an extra one with her. We had to finish the rest of the concert with no fiddle. We know enough songs that Chitter doesn’t play that we were able to fill the void, but just as we were getting settled after the fiddle incident we realized we had a very drunk lady in the audience. She was a mess! She cleared out the entire row of people where she was sitting before the show was over. A situation like that is always awkward. You hate to cause a scene or embarrass the person even though they seem to be embarrassing themselves. After the show the folks at the venue called her by name and told her she better get on home right now so I guess they were used to her antics. The venue was a family affair (even though there is a giant still in the photo behind me) with only soft-drinks and water available for purchase. On the long car ride home we discussed every thing that happened in great detail. After we hashed it all out once or twice, we agreed it was a night we’d always remember full of good friends driving from far away to see us, broken bridges, and a drunk lady in a dress. And we agreed we wouldn’t have wanted to experience it with anyone else but each other 🙂


4. Recently I was reminded of an old Doc Watson song “I’m Troubled.” I’ve been listening to it pretty much ever since. I love the simplicity of this version. The guitar runs remind me of home and who wouldn’t love the harmonica. I’m not sure who wrote the song, but it’s got the kind of lyrics I like. Pap and Granny both say Georgie instead of Georgia so I especially like that part. Going to build me a cabin on the mountain so high where the wild birds and turtle doves can hear my sad cry is my favorite line.

folk school

View from the Folk School

5. My daily view has changed recently. I left the college about four weeks ago for a position at John C. Campbell Folk School. My paternal grandmother, Marie Wilson, who I called Mamaw, also worked at the folk school in a variety of positions. In those days, the folk school finished all the Brasstown Carvers’ handiwork on site. One of the positions Mamaw held was in the finishing room. Today the area has been turned into offices and I’m in one of them. Almost every morning as I walk into the building I think of her and wonder what she’d think about me working where she did so many years ago. I feel certain she’d be pleased that I chose to stay in Brasstown where I could be close to my home and to those who walked before me.


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  • Reply
    October 5, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Tipper, I’m about to run outside and start chores (late, because watching Senate speeches) but i just have to take a quick minute to say congratulations on your new job!! What a perfect place for you! Now I’m even more determined to visit the school someday 🙂

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    October 5, 2018 at 1:53 am

    poor chatter I hope she isn’t in pain anymore…you have such beautiful talented and kind daughters…..congrats on your new position…the view looks beautiful..and lastly I love that you do singing as a family…what treasured memories to always have…..and yes..ive thought of starting Christmas gifts myself..its here before we know it..
    much love to you all

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    I love this post. We’re transplants going on 9 years & this post is a snapshot of why we chose to stay & raise our family here. My Missouri kin tease their country cousins for having an accent & using funny words (which I sprinkle in from your vocab tests). The wholesome simplicity & making do are a heritage I’m proud to graft into & pass along.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 4, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    1. If Chatter can do that good with her little fingers imagine what she could do if she used her whole hands.
    2. Dusty was working on my gutter and found a yellow jackets nest behind the siding. How fast do you think a 220 lb young man can back down a 20 ft ladder?
    3. I’ll never understand why someone would get drunk and go to a concert if they aren’t going to remember it the next day.
    4. Doc Watson was a treasure, so was Pap and so is Granny yet.
    5. Congratulations on the new job. I hope it is worthy of your talents.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    October 4, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    A couple of things in this post hit home. I’ve taken care of the grounds maintenance at the Bryson City Cemetery for the last few years. Last year, I had a bit of help from a fine young man, Austin Shuler. Between us, we found 17 yellow jacket nests. I think I may have found one more than Austin, but he found all of his by the sense of sight. I found a few of mine by the sense of feel.

    But yellow jackets can’t hold a candle to a hornet. A half a lifetime ago, when we were living a little ways outside of Raleigh, some hornets built a nest well up in a tree about 25 or 30 yards from the house. When there are rocks at hand and a hornet nest in view, temptations get mighty strong. I threw 4 or 5 before finally sort of brushing a branch not too far from the nest. Well, that apparently was like sounding an alarm, because the next one I threw had gotten about half way to the nest when it passed a hornet going in the opposite direction – namely, headed straight for me. I spotted it about 10 feet before it got to me, but couldn’t react fast enough. He hit me right in the middle of the forehead and – I tell you no lie – it literally staggered me. I thought about trying out some number 4 shot from a shotgun, but got concerned they would dispense one hornet for every pellet, and decided to leave well enough alone.

    Tipper, thank you for pointing out Doc’s (and Granny’s and Pap’s) “Georgie.” It reminded me of a fellow named Winfred Cagle. I’m going to assemble his story with a personal thought or two and send it your way to share with the rest of the crew, if you take a notion.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    Congratulations on your new job, Tipper. What a wonderful place to work. I’m sorry about Chitter’s bee sting. Several years ago at yellow jacket stung me on my calf. It felt like I had been stuck with a hypodermic needle.

  • Reply
    Sherry Whitaker
    October 4, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    I enjoyed this post so much, Tipper. My youngest daughter wants us to learn to crochet. & asked for a kit for her birthday recently. Wish we could go to a class at the folk school! Chatter ‘s project looks so nice & neat. It is always fun and refreshing to read about mountains, singing and y’all each day. Thanks. 😀

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    So Sorry, correction ,that older postI mentioned before was ”Tomorrow Belongs To The Lord”

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Such a sweet sharing ,every single part… I can surely relate to some of that…. thanks so much Tipper and all your family for sharing all y’all do, ….I count it not a lite thing to have the opportunity and even a way to read here. Gonna head on over to that song you mentioned ”Troubled ” and have a listen, yesterday I clicked on an older post,

    ” The Day Belongs To The Lord” and listened to the song, ….what a true and beautiful song.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you for sharing the full circle of a beautiful life in these ‘5 Things’. This, as always, is so inspiring. Congratulations on your new job- and I’m sure your Mamaw is proud.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    October 4, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    Poor Chitter! I picked up a garter snake by accident while cleaning a flower bed! Still gives me the shivers to think about it years later.

    My brother has a lawn service and is often the victim of bees. The worst one, he says was when one stung him on the lip! Says he looked like a monster within a few minutes. I was attacked by a hornet yrs ago while drawing water–couldn’t let go and it got me several times.

    Chatter’s crochet is beautiful!

    I hope your new job is great!

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Congratulations on your new job. What a wonderful place to work. If I ever get back to the Brasstown and the JCCFS area I will certainly look for your office and give you a big hug. Hope your weather holds out for a great festival weekend and an enthusiastic reception of the Pressley Girls and the Blind Pig Gang.

  • Reply
    Michael McConnell Cass
    October 4, 2018 at 10:21 am

    I think this was one of your best posts. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Richard Hopkins
    October 4, 2018 at 10:16 am

    I start every day with your blog. The photo of the view from the folk school is BEAUTIFUL! You should sell prints at Fall Festival.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 9:48 am

    You are indeed a blessed family to be able to enjoy so many things together and to share your talents with others. No wonder we, your readers, feel so blessed that you share your talents, your days, and yourselves with us.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 9:42 am

    Oh, my, poor Chitter! That sting sounds so painful! I love Chatter’s crochet ~ I love crocheting, too, but don’t have a lot of time for it right now. That sounds like quite a night with the drunk woman! LOL! And the fiddle incident, too. Whew, what a rough time, but it sounds like you all made the best of it. It is wonderful that you enjoy doing this together as a family, and I have always felt like music really deepens the bond of a family. Playing and singing with my family will always be a special part of my memory bank. 🙂 SO happy for you about the new job!!! That is so neat that your Mamaw worked there, too! I know she would be so proud of you and all you are doing to keep the heritage alive! God bless all of you, sweet friend.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 9:14 am

    Chatter will be stress-free when it’s time to shop for gifts. Some of us wait until December to get started on making and buying presents.
    Poor Chitter! My big 6′ 3″ grandson was stung by a hornet a few months ago and had to miss a day of work. It happened to be a day he would have been paid time and half. It must have been very painful because he never misses work. He said he felt like someone hit him on the head with a 2×4.
    That drunk female at your show was no lady!
    That picture of Doc looks just like the Guitar Man.
    How could you not love your job when you walk into a place surrounded by all the beautiful things shown in the folk school brochure? Congratulations!

  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    October 4, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Beautiful post, Tipper!…..Like life, full of ups and downs……Sorry to hear about Chitter’s bee stings and fiddle bridge warping, but I’m glad you all pulled together and prevailed…..Also good to hear of your new position and it’s ties to family at the John C. Campbell Folk School at Brasstown……Mary and I will be living about 17 miles southwest of Brasstown in north Georgie (wink) starting next month…..I enjoyed Doc Watson’s song…..Blessings!

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 8:54 am

    I can feel the pain with Chitter. I got stung on the side of my nose by a hornet once. I turned around 3-4 times trying to escape that pain. I took out my chew of Days Work and applied it to the spot to get relief.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 4, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Oh my, yes Christmas is coming, too fast as usual. But looks like Chatter is doing some pretty crocheting. I don’t know how myself.

    Does Chitter wear gloves? I don’t like them much myself but somethings they’re best. What is it with hornets and stinging the head anyway? They may be the original for ‘facial recognition’.

    Very appropriate that you are at JCCFS and in the old finishing room. Your all’s roots run deep in that country and there is something special about belonging where one is.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 4, 2018 at 7:53 am

    I love it when you do 5 Things, snippets of life in the country. They all reflect the life here in a beautiful way. I am so happy to live here in the peace , quiet, and simplicity.
    Congratulations on the new job! I think it’s a good match for you and the Folk School is certainly fortunate to have you and your skill as well as your dedication to the Appalachian Traditions they keep alive.

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