Monday, December 31, 2012


 On this final day of 2012, I decided to busy myself with an activity that brings back floods of memories. I baked homemade bread. Aunt Rhoda (wife of my mother's oldest brother, Paul Jones) was affectionately called the Betty Crocker of Cedar Mountain. She baked bread, rolls and first for the Cedar Mountain Curb Market every Friday during the summers and later, year-round as an extra income. Norma & I spent almost every weekend during our college years at Western Carolina University at Aunt Rhoda & Uncle Paul's house. Uncle Paul was a real mountain man...hunting, fishing and making a little moonshine. He looked out for the "widow ladies" in the community, supplying them with firewood and digging them out of the snow during the long winters and helping them with household repairs during the rest of the year, because that is what the Bible said to do. He had an infectious laugh, a dry wit, and a warm smile. During my family's summer visits to the 3 Bears' House, he would walk out to our cabin around 5 o'clock every afternoon with his soap in one hand and his towel over his arm to take a cold shower, because his house was only equipped with a tub. He winterized our cabin when we left at the end of the summer and opened it up before we arrived each summer. Aunt Rhoda was a of the well-known families of Cedar Mountain...and was not only a fabulous baker, but a great cook. Her fried chicken on Sunday was to die for! She suffered from crippling arthritis, but that didn't stop her from baking and canning or anything else she wanted to do. She would go to Brevard every Friday (Uncle Paul called it "Push Cart Day" because most of the ladies of the county went to town and pushed a grocery cart around the stores) to re-supply her pantry for the week's baking. The recipe that I use for my bread is her recipe. It was never written down. Years of baking had seared it into her memory. In fact, when she gave it to me, I had to follow her around the kitchen, measuring each ingredient as she put in in the bowl. My written version actually calls for two handfuls of salt, around 4 tablespoons of yeast and 2/3 of a five pound bag of all-purpose flour! As the aroma of the baking bread filled my house, I closed my eyes and was swept back to those wonderful years of growing up in Cedar Mountain, North Carolina, and the happy days spent at Aunt Rhoda & Uncle Paul's house...playing Set Back after supper, helping Aunt Rhoda clean and hiking the woods with Uncle Paul in search of Blacksnake root or Ginseng. The person I am today is a direct result of the influence of those strong pioneers of Transylvania County. How grateful I am to have known them!

 Gather your ingredients: eggs, yeast, sugar, salt & oil.
Mix in scalded milk.

After rising & kneading, shape into loaves & place in pans to rise a second time.

After baking, remove from pans and cool on racks. This is the hardest step, because it smells sooooo good that it is hard to let it cool before slicing and eating!
Rhoda & Paul Jones on the occasion of their 50th Wedding anniversary in 1972.


My 2013 New Year's Resolution

I don't normally make New Year's resolutions because I very rarely keep them.  I have all good intentions of following through with my lofty goals and I usually do for most of January.  However, I soon lose interest and energy and forget all about my enthusiasm for changing my life for the better.  So, you must be asking yourself...why is Melody announcing to the world that she is making a resolution for 2013?  And you must also be wondering how long this is going to last because judging from my history of infrequent posting on my blog...well, you get the idea. 
My 2013 New Year's resolution is to make a positive change in my life.  I know that sounds very nebulous and would allow me an easy out in case I had to "prove" that I was serious about this resolution thing.  So let me expand on it just a little.  Since Steve's death in 2007, I have had to re-invent myself.  Being alone after 29 years of dedication to someone else makes one think very deep thoughts.  I had just about worked through my grief, anger, fear and despair when 2012 rolled around.  During this year, I have faced three more life-changing events...the sudden death of my 31 year old son-in-law, my retirement after 37 years at the library, and the death of my 102 year old mother.  I have asked God many times during the past year why he hates me.  He must hate me for piling all these events on me in one year.  It has taken many hours of prayer & reflection to realize that God didn't do all of these things to me.  They have happened because of the nature of being a human being.  On the last day of this overwhelming year, I have realized that to keep myself out of a very dark place, I need to force myself into a positive attitude.  
So here is my plan.  I am a huge fan of "Pinterest".  I saw an idea a few months ago on someone's board that really intrigued me.  The person started the year with a large jar and scraps of paper.  Every time something worth remembering happened during the year, she wrote it down on a piece of paper and put it in her "memory jar".  On the last day of the year, she took out all of the papers and read through her memories.  I thought that was such a neat idea and decided that I would try it sometime.  Well, "sometime" is here.  During 2013, I plan to use this blog to record my memories and then review them at the end of the year.  I also plan to take it one step farther.  I want to post something EVERY DAY.  That's why I am blogging instead of using a jar & paper.  I figure that if I have announced my plan to the world (or at least to my friends), it will add the pressure necessary to keep me motivated.  But be forewarned...since I will be posting every day, some of the days will probably not be very happy and therefore, the post might be a bit of a downer.  But I hope that this journal will be a journey for me from sadness, insecurity and hopelessness into joy, confidence and optimism.
I hope you will follow my journey this year and encourage me when I need it and congratulate me when I grow.  Happy New Year!