Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Granny’s Blue Axe

My life in appalachia - Granny's Blue Axe
(notice the blue paint on the axe head)

When I was young I thought most of Granny’s ideas and thoughts were crazy. But the older I get, the more I see wisdom laced throughout the way Granny lives her life.

Ever had somebody borrow something and never give it back? Malicious intent isn’t typically the reason for non-returned items, its usually something much more innocent like a forgetful mind.

Years ago, Granny got tired of having folks borrow her: hoes, axes, shovels, mattocks, and rakes (Granny loves to work outside).  I suppose Granny sometimes felt like the borrower had kept it so long that they believed it was theirs-not hers. So Granny came up with a genius idea. She spray painted all of her gardening tools a bright blue. That way if someone borrowed an implement and kept it clean till next summer there’d still be no denying it was Granny’s-not theirs.

A few weeks ago I went walking out the ridge to see if I could find the wind…yes I was really looking for the wind. As I dropped back into the backyard I noticed the axe by the fire pit. The first thought I had was “Chitter has left her Daddy’s axe out and she’s going to be in trouble.” Then I noticed the blue paint.

The axe is old and worn now, yet Granny’s blue is still hanging on in spots. Granny grows older by the day. Every once in a while, I notice how she’s aged and it shocks me. Yet the young Granny is still there too. Still holding on in the spots not touched by time like the blue paint on the axe.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.



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  • Reply
    Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings
    November 14, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Now that’s an ingenious way of keeping track of things! Kudos to your Granny for such a smart idea!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Would love one of your Granny’s lovely creations.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I love that old blue axe! Your Granny is a wise woman. I would love a crocheted treasure from her. I am a subscriber though I’m not getting the emails, so going to go re-sign up right now!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I’d love to have something crocheted by Granny!! She had a good idea for folks that borrowed things. My Dad wouldn’t loan to someone if he had to go back and retrieve what they had borrowed! He was sure to tell them first to bring it back, and if they didn’t then he wouldn’t let them borrow anything else.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    yay! im a new subscriber 🙂

  • Reply
    Elizabeth K
    November 13, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Would love to have anything crocheted by Granny! A nice give-away, Tipper. And yes, I’m a subscriber. ; )

  • Reply
    Carol Isler
    November 13, 2011 at 8:42 am

    This granny subscribes and loves to hear about your granny.

  • Reply
    Marcia Campbell
    November 13, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Love Blind Pig blogs, please keep up the good work!

  • Reply
    Jen Y
    November 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    I already subscribe through google reader & I’d love to have something made by Granny!

  • Reply
    Linda Shupe
    November 12, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Hi Tipper: I have lost about all of my family and it really hurts a lot to have no family. My husband just lost his mom and is feeling at odds with it. But he is the mountain man of my dreams and he scribes his name on his tools and nobody wants somebody’s tools that have someone elses name on their tools. It is a dream to be a subscriber to your links and my youngest memories are of mountain families and relatives and living the cleanest and happiest lives. I sure do miss living like that and hope before I die that I can do some butchering in November with a whole family.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    That’s so cool! My grandpa used to do the same thing only with bright yellow with a red stripe!

  • Reply
    November 11, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I had a grandpa and have many of his tools. Orange was his color. That paint is over 50 yrs old and still shows brightly. Love this blog Tipper!!!!

  • Reply
    brenda s 'okie in colorado'
    November 11, 2011 at 3:11 am

    Tipper, your Granny reminds me so much of my Granny. She raised me until I was 11. She loved to garden, can, help elderly, cooked from scratch, and very frugal. She would can her garden, then go to neighbors and help them put up theirs. She was born in Arkansas, but moved to Oklahoma. I would be so honored to win something knitted by Granny. She should start selling her knitting online.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Mine are all painted neon pink.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    just came back from a fun day away with a dear friend and have just now gotten to read your daily message—reading about granny’s blue paint put a smile upon my face and brought back another memory–my dad and my grandpa were carpenters by trade and grandpa painted all his tools red and dad’s were green and are still hanging down in his basement —if one borrows a tool one MUST return in 2 days and it better be cleaned or else—I’d love to be the winner of something Granny makes for as a knitter I know how much time it takes and sometimes follks just do not appreciated that labor of love. LInda Kerlin

  • Reply
    Darlene LaRoche
    November 10, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    i am a happy subscriber… reading about granny..she had a great thought about painting her things, we have a family member who seems to never return things he borrows….may have to invest in some paint.. 😉

  • Reply
    Sam Ensley
    November 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I really don’t have to paint my tools. Whenever I can’t find a tool, I go across the highway to my son’s house, and I usually find all of my missing tools there. I usually give him tools for birthdays and Christmas so that mine will stay home. My Dad’s biggest gripe was that we kids didn’t put his tools backw when we used them.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I love your description of Granny in that last paragraph, tying in to the bits of paint hanging on. That’s the grace we cherish from our beloved elders still with us.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 10, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Tipper–Your tale for today told me flat-out that Granny has that most useful of mountain traits, a good dose of practicality. Daddy hated to loan things (and with good reason–we had kin who weren’t kind to borrowed things) and I reckon I’ve inherited that characteristic in two ways.
    I have a deeply ingrained aversion to asking to borrow anything, and I hate for anyone to ask for me in turn. There are a few things I almost refuse to loan (with treasured books coming at the top of the list).
    Ben Franklin may have been thinking of money when he wrote: “Neither a borrower nor lender be,” but it is equally applicable to possessions.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    janet pressley
    November 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Would love to have something made by Granny – as always! Nana

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Now that’s a splendid idea! Popa hates to loan things and then have to ask for them to be returned. I guess we all need to learn a lesson from this: if we borrow — return 🙂

  • Reply
    Mary Jo
    November 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I am so fortunate to have found your blog and enjoy each and every post of yours! Think I’ll go now-got to go paint some tools!! *wink* Would consider anything of your Granny’s a treasure to keep forever!!

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    November 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I wish I had thought of painting my tools blue or anything that would help me get them back from my brother Max. He just laughed when I went to his house to retrieve my things. “It’s trouble enough to borrow ’em,” he said, and just way too much trouble to take ’em back.”
    I love the metaphor for Granny and the tools.
    “Yet the young Granny is still there too-still holding on in the spots not touched by time-like the blue paint on the axe.
    Such beautiful words, Tipper.
    I am a long time subscriber.

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    November 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    My husband and I have read this together and he said your Granny had the right idea. He’s gonna paint his so he’ll be sure to get them back.. We will set him up a Goggle account soon..Until then he’ll keep reading your posts..P.S. Me too..

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I just discovered your blog and subscribed. I spent about 3 hours going back and reading posts and am enjoying it so much. I would be honored to own something home made by your Granny. I would treasure it like the things that I have that were made for me by my Grandpa and Grandma, and my Momma and Daddy. Home made things are the best!

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    November 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    You better put that axe back before Grannie finds it.
    Oh ya, I am also a subscriber too.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    November 10, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I would love to have anything Granny made & would cherish it forever.
    I guess we’ve all experienced the tool problem. I’m going to tell this idea to my brother who is extremely possessive of his tools.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 11:54 am

    There ain’t no telling at the tools I’ve had to replace from
    some of my friends borrowing them.
    A few years ago I started etching
    my name on them, especially if they were the more valuable ones.
    I hope you found the wind…Ken

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    November 10, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Blue Paint.. a great idea! for lots of other things too. I do not know why, but this story popped into my head after reading yours. once when I was little I found a quarter with red on it and I showed my mama. She told me that a long time ago, if the waitresses put a little red fingernail polish on the quarter, when the juke box man came to empty out the money, they would give them back their quarters! That way they got to play records for free. I know that doesn’t have much to do with Granny’s blue tools, but your story made me think of it.

  • Reply
    Barbara Johnson
    November 10, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I am a subscriber. Today’s post made me teary eyed. That last line got me. 🙂

  • Reply
    jackie shound ringersma
    November 10, 2011 at 11:12 am

    My Grandad burnt his initials in his wooden handled screwdriver set I love the feel of these tools. They have to be 100 years old. My Mom (we called her Grandmaw) was always crocheting, cherish all the afghans, sweaters & hats I still have. Would love one from your Granny. I’m”Grammy” to my 3 year old grandaughter. I guess I’m “new school” I use a sharpie on tools, dishes, any and everything to make my mark. xoxo

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Your granny is a treasure!! I had heard of a lady who painted her tools pink, thinking no man would EVER keep them! So…I put a little lavendar paint on mine!!

  • Reply
    Pam Moore
    November 10, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I would love and appreciate something made by your grandmother. Handmade items contain a piece of the person that made them.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 11:03 am

    This has stirred some fond memories!
    One of my grandfathers was a first generation Italian-American. He had ten brothers and sisters and every one was a character in his or her own way.
    Grandpa used to laugh at his brother Joe for painting all his tools yellow! It kind of irked Grandpa a little I think, but Uncle Joe always got his tools back!
    Isn’t it funny how the older we get, the smarter our elders seem?

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Granny is for sure one wise Appalachian woman!

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    November 10, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Yes, I am a subscriber and I would be honored to have something made by Granny. I surely do love me some Blind Pig & Acorn oxox

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 10:44 am

    That’s a good idea, and I would love to win something crocheted!

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I inherited my Dad’s tools. I would have said”Now don’t get rid of those tools You will be surprised how often you use them”. Last week I used his axe (with electrical tape on the handle just like Granny’s, to chop down a stump.
    By the way, Granny’s pumpkin bread turned out great yesterday!

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Your Granny is my kind of woman!
    I wanted to let you know that I enjoy being a Subscriber and reading your fascinating entries 🙂
    Have a Great Day!

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    November 10, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I am also going to borrow Granny’s idea too. Great idea!

  • Reply
    tony foster
    November 10, 2011 at 10:14 am

    my dad did the same thing…he painted the handles red and the business end of the tool with, i sware, the same shade of blue as your granny!! he has given me many of those tools over the years, and i cherish them dearly. i still use them, but would be what my pragmatic dad would have wanted…he passed away last year, so i got the remainder of his red and blue tools…they will always remind me of him and i will always keep them close…some are at my new place in murphy as i speak!!

  • Reply
    Katie Byrd
    November 10, 2011 at 10:04 am


  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    November 10, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Don’t we always appreciate our parents wisdom after we are grown and on our on….I used to think my Mom was so selfish for marking everything that was apt to be loaned…books, tools, covered dishes, etc…
    Now that I am older and start hunting for that one thing and remember that it was loaned or was it..ha…I understand it was just common sense…and growing up during the depression anything was hard to come by and expensive to replace…
    Thanks Tipper, Even though I crochet I would love to have something Granny made for me as I give my items away too…LOL

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Dolores-yes someone-someone in my family borrowed it-and obviously kept it!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    November 10, 2011 at 9:22 am

    I sometimes think to spray a bit of bright orange on my tools so my hubby doesn’t add them to his stash! I like Granny’s blue, though. And using nail polish on baking dishes, etc, for pot luck suppers is an idea I’ll steal!

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 8:59 am

    I am so stealing Granny’s idea and painting my tools. What a smart woman she is. I would love to have a hat crocheted by her and if I don’t win one would love to buy one. Does she sell them?

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I love the paint idea! I also find it comforting that these things our elders do will remain with us always.

  • Reply
    Laura Cunningham
    November 10, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Ooooh, I LOVE homemade crocheted scarves, hats, anything. Your granny reminds me of my grandmother from West Texas. We called her Mama Jo. She spent a lot of time cooking for church functions, pot lucks, or showers. She put her name in red nail polish on all of her bakeware and utensils. In her small town, no one could mistake her dish for their own. Every morning when I pull out her old bread box, I love seeing her name in red.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Thanks for sharing two important lessons here: First, they just don’t make things like they used to, so you want to keep those good, old, heavy-duty tools — definitely get them back! We still have a shovel that was my husband’s grandmother’s, and that thing comes in handy for all sorts of things — from edging to chipping through ice, even remember my husband killing a snake with it… Meanwhile I’ve bought 2 brooms since we lived in this house (9 years) — both are broken, one irreparably (it was quite an expensive push broom) and the other is held together by duct tape! Second, grannies are a treasure beyond measure — you are so lucky to still have yours living! Have her tell you everything, especially about your family history — who, when, why and where (we just had to do this for school and it was priceless to hear from my parents and husband parents — would have learned even more if there was a living grandparent). The older you get, the more you appreciate these things — it would be great to get all written down for future generations, a true legacy!

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I love your stories about your parents, as it reminds me so much of how my parents dealt with life. My Mom could can and crochet, and Dad could work on just about anything. I was taught to enjoy work so much that when I got older my Mom would tell me that “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
    I really love Granny’s blue paint idea, and you gotta keep sharing. I never get anything I loan back unless it just gets in their way.

  • Reply
    Thurmon Allen
    November 10, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Ah the electrical tape on the axe handle brings back memories. My dad would just shake his head when he would see an axe handle that had been splintred from me missing what ever I happened to be swinging at. I used duct tape to repair the damage.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Identifiers of tools is a great idea. I wonder what it was doing there. Did someone borrow Granny’s tool, or is Granny still using that ax to chop wood or something else?

  • Reply
    grandpa ken
    November 10, 2011 at 8:33 am

    On that song (Nellie Moved To Town) I heard you use some of that vocab you tell us about. you say YAH when daddy ask you something. LOL Would be nice to have something made in America so put me in for the Granny made hat.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 8:33 am

    I’m a new subscriber. This is a great blog site you have here. Take care!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 10, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Good idea, my husband marks his stuff, but I never thought to mark serving dishes. Hummmm

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 10, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Great and wise story. At my house it went the other way round. Instead of Mama teaching child it was child who taught Mama. The Deer Hunter taught me the value of marking my tools. A certain someone kept borrowing my tools then saying they belonged to him. The Deer Hunter pointed out to me that ALL his tools were marked with his name and suggested that it might work for me too. LOL
    Sometimes I think the Deer Hunter was born with more wisdom and sensitivity that most of the world will ever have!
    Granny’s crocheting is remarkable, she can make anything she sees.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 8:04 am

    My Dad worked for the highway department, so a lot of his tools had highway yellow paint on them, or duct tape, he liked them both!

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    November 10, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Yes, I am a subscribe, and I would love to have something Granny made! What a great post!
    Since lending is a tradition here too, Hubby painted his tools blue years ago and our neighbor painted his orange recently…All the ‘pot luck’ pans and dishes in the neighborhood are marked with names, most of them in nail polish that has lasted on some for years.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 10, 2011 at 7:50 am

    It is amazing how much smarter our elders become as we age, they must be studying unbeknownst to us. I love the idea of the Blue Paint, if I had thought of this I would have saved several dollars replacing tools. I think I’ll go with a Hot Pink since few of my macho friends would be caught dead using a pink implement. Do you or “Granny” have a solution for getting one’s children to return items they borrow? My wife and I attend any yard sales our daughters have to try to retrieve our property before it sells at some give-away price.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    November 10, 2011 at 7:49 am

    A smart woman for sure. Haave a friend who has an orange color on his tools.

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    November 10, 2011 at 7:46 am

    I just used a wood burner to burn my initials into the handles of my tools. The tools that I inherited have my initials and the initials of whomever the tool came from. That way my boys will know which tools were mine, my papaws, my great grandfather, or my father-in-laws.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 7:45 am

    What a great idea to identify something that belongs to you. My hubby and his father are always getting their tools mixed up when they borrow back and forth. I think your Granny is a wise lady!

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 7:36 am

    That was a great story Tipper. Granny’s a smart woman, sometimes we have to learn the hard way. Especially when our hearts want to trust everyone to do the right thing.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Granny is a smart lady to have thought of this idea. I hate to loan anything because most of the time i have to remind folks to return whatever they borrow. It makes me feel guilty and sometimes they get mad at me for it.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Great idea, Granny!
    I’ve been a Google Reader subscriber for over 3 years now.

  • Reply
    Gina Lagaly
    November 10, 2011 at 5:54 am

    I just love your Granny stories but the story of the blue paint is especially dear to my heart. Thank you for sharing.

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