Mr. Schwump Goes Home

November 17, 2010

(Friendly turtle at our house)

Okay, so this seems a bit silly to write since I’m not aware that there is a single soul reading this blog besides my children, but just in case there is…

Mister Schwump is moving.  Or perhaps I should say (since Mister Schwump is just my alter ego), Mister Schwump is going home.  Back to my old blog, the one I quit for all kinds of reasons.  One of those reasons was because I am insecure and neurotic and the terrible anxiety I began to feel in writing posts on my old blog  felt almost intolerable.

But I do want to be a writer.  More than anything.  Which, unfortunately, means I need to write.  (Imagine that!) Sure, I did write on this blog, but I hid here, too, so that no one could find me but my children.  That way, I wouldn’t be judged.   That way, no one would compare my writing to others.  That way, I didn’t have to suffer such anxiety every time I published a post.

But for someone wanting to learn to write boldly and freely, hiding in a small, dark corner of the blogosphere seems a bit of a cop-out, doesn’t it?  So, Mister Schwump is going home.  Mister Schwump is going to teach me, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Beth, how to write without fear.  How to write unburdened by doubts.  If that’s possible, that is.  I guess we’ll find out, won’t we? 

So if you’re reading this, if I actually had more readers than my two children (with all their commenting aliases, haha), then I’d be glad to see you over at Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl.  Mister Schwump will see you there, too.  He sincerely thanks you for reading.


Anthropomorphizing Is Fun

September 2, 2010

It’s possible that many would say I lead a dull life indeed if they heard me say that one of my favorite things to do is to watch birds at our birdbath.  Perhaps they’d even snicker.   But I’ll just go ahead and say it anyway:  One of my favorite things to do is to watch birds at our birdbath.  We operate an equal-opportunity birdbath, so we get all kinds of birds.  But our most frequent visitors are bluebirds.  And doves.

I love doves.  For one thing, I think they’re quite beautiful, even if their coloring might be considered a bit dull by some, with its muted tones of brown, gray, and tan.  It’s a subtle beauty, not flashy or flamboyant, like a blue jay or cardinal.  (Mister Schwump likes quiet and subtle beauty).  And they seem so placid and calm, not all twittery and nervous like so many other birds. 

They visit our birdbath almost every morning, so I snapped a few shots recently of a lovely couple who came for their morning soak.  The pictures made me laugh, and I started to imagine what they might be saying if they could speak our language.  We’ll call the bird on the left Larry and the bird on the right, Lovey.  Lovey Dove, that is.  Forgive my shameless anthropomorphizing—-I hope it makes you laugh.  (To enlarge the photos, you may click on them).

Lovey:  “Oh my gosh, honey, isn’t this bath great?  I love that we share this every morning!  Don’t you just love it??”

Larry: “Yep.”

Lovey:  “Aaahhh…I just LOVE this!  It feels soooo good.  I really love spending quality time with you, honey.  Isn’t this wonderful??”

Larry: “Yep.”

Lovey:  “Omigosh, this just makes me feel like singing!  La,la,la,la,la…do you ever feel like singing, Larry?”

Larry:  “Nope.”

Lovey:  *sings*  “Oh, what a beautiful morning!  Oh, what a beautiful day!  I’ve got a wonderful feeling!  Everything’s going my way!”

Larry sighs and rolls his eyes.

Lovey:  “Oh look, Larry…there’s my sister Dovey!  Come on in, Dovey!  There’s plenty of room!”

Larry:  “Okay, I’m outta here…”


*******If you liked this, you should check out this hilarious post at my friend Martha’s blog.

These Things Make Me Happy #3: Grace, With Wings

July 22, 2010


It’s been unusually hot and dry here in the North Carolina mountains, so I’ve had to water every single evening. Which, with all our flowers and vegetables, means well over an hour of dragging our 150 feet of tangled hose all over the yard only to squeeze the spray nozzle and find that there’s a kink somewhere stopping the water flow, trudging back (usually at least a hundred feet) to unkink the hose, walking back to the original thing I meant to water, then standing there for five minutes holding the nozzle and entertaining myself by making different patterns in the water spray as it sparkles in the golden late-day light. Now, doesn’t that sound exciting?

No? Well, you’re right, it’s not. Especially when it’s still hot out and the mosquitoes are having you for supper and you’re sweating like a politician in hell and even beginning to think longingly of snow and ice and winter.

But every once in a while, there are sweet moments of grace that make you catch your breath and feel grateful that you happened to be out there by the bee balm to bear witness to wonder. Grateful that you happened to have your camera slung over your shoulder. Grateful even for the hot sun that coaxed that bee balm blossom to open so that birds and bees and butterflies could find sustenance and sometimes even rest there.

Talking to Myself

June 24, 2010

(Warning: the following post contains the undue use of parentheses. Good thing the Punctuation Police are not around!)

It’s a curious thing having a blog that no one reads (or, at least, no one comments on). On one hand, it’s a freeing thing. I can write whenever and whatever I like, with none of my usual neurotic worries about whether my post is good enough or concerns that I might offend someone. On the other hand, it’s a bit like talking to myself (which, I must confess, I do on a regular basis). But talking to myself, while not so bad (at least the company is amiable!), is not entirely satisfying either.

It’s a funny thing. I’m not much of a talker, but the posts on my old blog sometimes ran as much as a thousand words. No doubt a result of  my growing up in the South, where listening to someone tell a story is often a long-term commitment. It’s an interesting exercise for me to write such pithy and pointed posts here. (Have  I mentioned that I love alliteration?)

I’ve thought about posting a link to my new blog on my old one (which still exists—I’m just not posting on it). But I know that folks would naturally compare my new blog to my old one and would no doubt find this one lacking. And then I’d be right back to my old neurotic fretting and feelings of inadequacy.

So, for now, I suppose I’ll keep thinking out loud and talking to myself. There’s something to be said for that, even if it seems a little goofy. Hey, at least I’m not commenting on my own posts!

Not yet, anyway. 🙂

Catching Woodchucks

June 21, 2010


When we first moved to our four acres in the Appalachian mountains two years ago, we discovered that we had a groundhog (or woodchuck or whistle pig or whatever you like to call them) living at the bottom of the hill.  We’d often laugh to see him waddle across the driveway–he was remarkably fast for such a corpulent critter. 

But we stopped laughing when Mr. Groundhog’s offspring started looking for new digs (no pun intended) up the hill, next to our house.  And next to our garden.  Groundhogs are notorious for eating anything and everything in sight…and they have a huge appetite for all things green and growing.  So we soon realized that if we were going to have any vegetables and flowers left, we’d need to take action.

Some folks in the mountains where we live do eat groundhogs, but we’ve never developed a taste for them.  So T. borrowed a Havahart trap from work, and we set about catching us a groundhog.

The first thing we learned:  groundhogs are not nocturnal.  So setting the trap at night resulted in this:

And this:

(Never thought I’d see a cute possum.  Especially since I usually see them as a flat and greasy spot in the road. But I’ll have to say this one was pretty endearing.) 

The second thing we learned was this:  groundhogs cannot resist cantaloupe.  Once we started setting the trap during the daytime with a slice of juicy cantaloupe, we caught four groundhogs in quick succession.  They looked a little surly, but I’m sure they enjoyed their first sweet taste of cantaloupe.  And I know they will be pleased with their new home  on the French Broad River, where the succulent green weeds grow tall and lush, the water flows cool and clear, and groundhogs live a long and happy life. 

These Things Make Me Happy #2: Snakes, Entwined

June 7, 2010

When I went out to my back flower garden one evening recently to weed, I was surprised by two unexpected visitors—-an Eastern King Snake couple, entwined.  They were mating, so I don’t think they even noticed my faint girly scream.  Once I got over the shock of finding, not one, but two unexpected serpents in my garden, my husband T. and I enjoyed watching them from an unobtrusive distance.  We thought it quite funny that they chose to be amongst the flowers for their wooing.   I’m pleased that they chose my garden, and I hope they’ll stick around to keep any copperheads scarce.

Here’s where I’ll admit to a fear of snakes—things that slither give me shivers.  But I found a sinuous beauty in their entwining and a lithe and lovely grace in their embrace. 

(Perhaps you like a closer look…)

(A bit closer than I usually get to snakes, but I don’t think they even noticed. They were…umm…happily occupied.)

These Things Make Me Happy #1: Rabbit, Interrupted

June 5, 2010

(I think Mr. Rabbit looks a bit like a goat with his ear down)

I am infinitely grateful for my capacity to find great joy in small things.  I am easily awed and easily amused.  My husband T. loves this because, among other things, it makes me a very cheap date. 🙂 

My son B. and I were walking down to the mailbox when we saw this rabbit, fresh from a bath in the still-flowing ditch.  B. is easily amused as well, so we stopped to watch Mr. Rabbit have his after-bath primp.  He seemed unperturbed at our presence, even when we giggled at the way his ears kept popping up and down as he preened.

He did strike a more dignified pose at the end before hopping away.  Thank you, Mr. Rabbit, for making us laugh.  I forgive you for eating my flowers.  Watch out for the bobcat that lives in the forest behind our house!

(Here, Mr. Rabbit appears to be tending to his dental hygiene)

(Here, Mr. Rabbit attempts to regain some semblance of dignity.)

Mr. Schwump Speaks

June 3, 2010

(Mr. Schwump was always ready with a smile)

I know, I know—it’s a weird name for a blog. I had another blog once with a catchy name, a fair number of readers, and some wonderful commenters, but it got so I felt like I had to produce perfect posts every time, which made blogging a chore. This blog will be different. No pressure, no neurotic anxiety about whether people like my posts, no comparing myself constantly to those of greater talent. Just me—the Mr. Schwump of the blogosphere.

Of course, I’m not really named Schwump. Heck, I’m not even a Mister. I’m a Mrs. and a Mama. Happily so. But, like Mr. Schwump, I am quiet and unassuming—the kind of person who fades into the woodwork.

In case you’re asking, “Who is the world is Mr. Schwump?” well, I’ll tell you. He was that rather ordinary-looking, nondescript fellow on the Andy Griffith Show who never spoke a single word. He was always smiling and nodding in the background—whether standing in the stag line at a dance or sitting on the bench in front of the Mayberry courthouse. He was so nondescript, in fact, that nobody from the show has ever been able to recall the name of the actor who played him. He’s notable only for being so non-notable. And for his awful toupee.

I can really relate to Mr. Schwump. I’m quiet and ordinary-looking, too. Reserved. And people often forget both my face and my name. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have something to say. So here I am back in the blogosphere, smiling and nodding, sometimes bland, sometimes boring, sometimes standing in the stag line waiting to be asked to dance. Just like Mr. Schwump.

But, you know, I think Mr. Schwump had something to say, even if he never got the chance to say it. And I think I do, too. So, in honor of Mr. Schwumps everywhere, I’m again stepping forward into cyberspace.  I’m going to have my say—whether anyone is listening or not. Even if you don’t remember my name. Even if no one ever asks me to dance.

Because just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I have nothing to say.