Thursday, August 30, 2012


When you see a buzzard say this rhyme:
Poor old lonesome turkey buzzard,
Fly to the east, fly to the west,
Fly to the one I love the best.
If the buzzard flaps his wings, 
you will see your sweetheart before Saturday night.

A hoot owl crying at night is bad luck.
To counteract the bad luck you can try:
putting a broom across the doorway, 
or throwing salt in the fire, 
or turning your pockets inside out

When you see a redbird, throw it a kiss and make a wish.
The wish will come true.  

If an owl's hooting is driving you crazy, 
grasp the wrist of one hand with the fingers of the other. 
This will choke the hoot owl and make him hush.
(I need to try this because our house is surrounded by hooting owls!)

Some folks believe that the jay bird is the devil's bird.
Supposedly on every Friday they gather sticks 
and carry them to hell to keep the fires going.

If an owl speaks or hollers "WHO?" at you, 
always answer with your full name.

And a riddle for you!  Do you know the answer?
If my peacock lays an egg in your yard, who owns the egg?

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Death of a Friend

I hate to see a tree being cut down.  Especially big trees because I always think about everything that the tree has seen in its lifetime.  Once when I was a small child, my grandpa was having two huge trees cut down in the yard. I begged and begged him to please not cut those trees down.  He tried to explain to me that he had to have them taken down because they were getting so large that they were blocking out all of the light, plus they were a danger to the house, grainery, hay and woodsheds.

This past Friday, I cried and cried on the way home from work, because, you see, I lost a dear tree friend.  I have lived in my current home for twelve years and on my way to and from work, I always passed this certain large oak tree everyday. Sometimes, when I would get caught by the traffic light, I would be stopped right next to this glorious old tree.  He had a bit of rot going on around his base though, but that gave me even more to admire. During rainy weather, he would have beautiful shelf fungus growing at his base. His shade would provide a cool place to wait for the traffic light to change which at this particular intersection could take quite a while. In the fall, his leaves would provide a splash of russet which looked beautiful against the yellow and oranges surrounding him.

Isn't he a handsome tree?
I wish this photo was not blurred, but
I took the photo while driving by.

However, progress changes many things. Traffic is terrible at the intersection of Bennington Street and 116. The powers-that-be decided that a traffic circle would be the solution which is undoubtedly costing taxpayers millions of dollars because they have been working on this area for months and months. Evidently this is going to be a HUGE traffic circle because they are bulldozing down the side of a really big hill.  Cutting down not only my dear oak tree, but all of his surrounding friends too.  I fear this new development because I have seen how the people in the Roanoke Valley seem to have a problem figuring out how to proceed through a three-way stop that is near my home. I'm sure that a traffic circle will totally befuddle them and there will probably be plenty of accidents.  

This was when I became afraid that he was
going to be cut down

On Thursday, they had taken down every tree on the hillside except for my dear friend.  I knew that he would probably be taken the next day.  I tried to take a photo with my cell phone as I drove by. Of course, this would be the one day that the traffic light did not stop me. On Friday afternoon, as I approached the stop light, I could see in the distance that the beautiful oak tree was missing from the skyline.  I instantly started crying.  It looks like he didn't give up easily, hanging on as long as he possibly could.

All of his friends were cut down today.
He looks very lonely.
It makes me think of my Grandmother saying that
growing old was sad because all of her friends
and family were already dead.

I'm sure that some of you will think that I am being silly, but I will always keep that oak tree in my memory and think of him when I drive by the spot where he spent his life from the time that he was a tiny acorn until man decided that he was just in the way.
He tried to hang on.

One way that this glorious old tree could have been honored was to use his wood to make something or to at least use him for firewood to provide heat and comfort.  But the most demeaning thing happened to him. All of the trees on that hillside were run through one of the largest chippers that I have ever seen and now there is a MOUNTAIN of mulch where there used to be beautiful trees of all varieties.)

 I will remember you.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Elizabeth (?) Waller

Well, now that I am back into digging around my family tree, I discovered that a family photo may not be who we always thought it was.  There used to be two portraits hanging in the living room of my Grandpa & Grandma Vaughn's house.

Elizabeth Waller
Lindsey Gray
I was always fascinated by these two old tintypes even though they were 
dark and faded and the people looked a tad scary to me as a child.

The gentlemen's name was Lindsey J. Gray and the lady was his wife, Elizabeth Waller Gray. My grandmother noticed my fascination with those two portraits, and she knew how much I loved family history, so she told me that when I grew up, she would let me have them. Unfortunately, as things often happen when statements like that are made and deaths occur, things are given or taken by others that didn't know about the original promises.  It is all good though, because I was finally able to get copies of those two portraits, which is the reason that I can post them above. As long as the originals are cherished, protected, and do not end up in an antique store somewhere, I am happy.

Facts about Lindsey & Elizabeth:

Lindsey J. Gray was born about 1835 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
He was the son of Jeremiah & Elizabeth Gray. 
He was listed as a farmer in census records.

He married Elizabeth Waller on November 16, 1868.

Elizabeth was born about 1845 in Patrick County, Virginia.  
She was the daughter of Edmund Waller & Mary Ann McKinney. 
She is buried in the Dobyns Church Cemetery in Patrick County.

Lindsey and Elizabeth had seven children: 
John W., Edmond, Jeremiah, Mary Elizabeth, George, Casey, and Alexander.

Their daughter, Mary Elizabeth (b. October 24, 1874), was my great grandmother.  She died when I was four years old. I can remember her being at my grandparent's house, but I cannot remember too much about her, except that she was very nice to me. Mary Elizabeth was married to William Hardin Dollarhite on July 11, 1894.

Back to the mystery that I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  The whole family has always referred to her as Elizabeth Waller. This past week, I really started digging through census records, birth, marriage, and death records.  I CANNOT find an Elizabeth Waller. However, I CAN find Sallie Ann Waller. Sallie Ann is the same age as Elizabeth. She was married to Lindsey J. Gray. She died in the same year that Elizabeth supposedly did. She even had children by the same names!  Because of all of that, I have to think that the lady in the above portrait is actually Sallie. (Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, its probably a duck!)  Oh, and I also found reference to a Sarah Ann married to Lindsay J. Gray that fits just like Sallie Ann does.  Sallie is a common nickname for Sarah, so that is not really surprising.

So, did we just have the name completely wrong since an Elizabeth does not appear anywhere? Was her real name Sarah?  Sallie?  Elizabeth? Sarah Elizabeth? Elizabeth Sarah? Why did my grandparents say that her name was Elizabeth?  There is some indication that this lady's MOTHER'S name was Elizabeth.  Is that where the confusion comes in?  This is still a mystery that I am working on.  My cousin, Jeff is checking with some other relatives to see what they know.

To be continued . . .

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Family History

Hardin Columbus Vaughn, Cecilia Belcher Vaughn and family. 

Back in 1977 when I was in the seventh grade at Meadows of Dan Elementary School, our teacher, Phillip Barry, gave us an assignment to investigate our family tree.  I was very lucky because my Grandpa & Grandma Burnette had always told me many stories about my ancestors and they both could remember SO much and SO far back that it was a piece of cake!  I also talked to my Grandpa & Grandma Vaughn and they told me quite a bit about that side of the family. Both sets of grandparents took me to see all of the family graveyards and they pulled out bunches of old family photos.  Without hardly any trouble at all, I got my family tree back to all 16 of my great, great grandparents. 

That school assignment fired me up to try to find out more and more about my family tree.  I remember my mom taking me to Stuart to the old library that was in a two story house just west of Moody's Funeral Home.  I remember pouring through records there and making some copies of documents that they had available.  On the Burnette side of the family, I could NOT get past my Great, Great Grandpa Burnette.  All that I knew was that he was called "Bill".  Yeah.  That narrowed it right down to about a dozen possibilities! I gave up on family research for a while after that.  

In college, I was talking every Appalachian Studies class that I possibly could and those classes stoked up the fires of my genealogy research again. This time, I made copies of lots of old family photos and made some progress on several different branches of my family tree.  Slowly, the fire died back down as I became involved with all of my college classes.

In the mid 1990s, I found a wonderful software program called "Family Tree Maker" where I could start plugging in all of my family tree information.  What a fabulous program!  I could add photos, stories, and documentation.  Plus, I could create booklets and charts.  I was in heaven!  I also started digging even harder to get more information to add to my family tree.  I visited graveyards, courthouses, relatives, special library collections and looked up things online since more and more people were starting to preserve their family histories online.  Of course, one has to be very careful when getting information from things posted on the Internet, but it can always give you ideas where to look and how to verify information also. 

A couple of weeks ago, I started getting the genealogy itch again.  I ordered some books through inter- library loan to start digging again.  Then, strangely enough, just this week someone started a group on facebook called "Mountain Top Families" for families in Floyd, Carroll, & Patrick Counties, Virginia.  I think that it is meant for me to start digging again!

Genealogy is looking mighty good after I spent all afternoon knitting only to realize that I made a HORRIBLE mistake 500 stitches back. I am totally disgusted. Perhaps I will take a break from knitting and work on my family genealogy once again.  

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I won!

Last month, I participated in the Tour de Fleece 2012 on Ravelry.  
I spun so many yards of yarn, that my left hand is just now starting to recover!

I was a team member on the following teams:
Team Kromski, Stashbusters, Climbers, Rookie, and Peloton.
Each team had goals to meet in order to be eligible for the prize drawing.

I won the following items from Team Kromski in a random drawing.

Upper left:  Beautiful Merino fiber "Swamp Thing" from  Bon Fiber
Upper right: Magnetic Chart Markers from Mommabear's Creations
Lower left: Another bobbin for my Kromski spinning wheel from Ragnarok Farms
Lower right: Scrumptious Merino/Silk blend top from Ragnarok Farm

Please visit these folks at their websites by following the above links to purchase wonderful fibery things!

Another view of the wonderful prizes!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rain Signs

When I woke up this morning and glanced out the window, there was a glorious sunrise. Grandpa always told me that if there was a red sky in the morning that there would be rain later in the day, (Red sky in the morning, sailor's take warning.  Red sky at night, sailor's delight.)

Then, when I stepped outside to get a better look at the sky, I heard a rain crow just singing its heart out. Grandpa always said that it was sure to rain when you hear the song of the rain crow. For years, I had no idea what a rain crow's true name was. One day I heard one and commented on it to a co-worker.  He looked at me a bit strangely and asked me if I was referring to the yellow-billed cuckoo! I told him about the lore surrounding the rain crow and then it became a game each time that we heard one to see if the bird's predictions came true. It usually did rain!

I never do see a red sunrise or hear a rain crow without having an immediate flashback to my childhood and all of the wonderful lore that Grandpa passed on to me.

Two rain signs this morning.  Let's see if it does rain later today!

UPDATE:  By noon today, the trees were starting to turn up their leaves, which is another sign of coming rain.  By 2 pm, the skies were dark and it started POURING around 2:10 pm.  Of course, then the sun came out and the humidity was somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,500%!  Now, at 4:05 pm, it is getting dark again and I can hear thunder rumblin' in the distance.

Maybe the local television stations need to hire that rain crow . . .

(Here is a Linkto  a good audio of the cuckoo's song.)

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean.