About Me

I am Denise Smith and I am the Appalachian Heartwood blogger and admin for Bland County Proud. I live in Appalachia in Southwest Virginia, (the land beyond Roanoke), as have my ancestors since the 1750s or even further back if we go the Native route.

From the age of 15 I've always worked some kind of job. House cleaning jobs, factory jobs, retail jobs, secretary jobs. I went back to school and college on a fluke in my 30's. I ended up graduating from Emory and Henry College with a history degree.  I had worked off and on for over 20 years in the historical research/archives/tourism/ industry in Appalachia.  My last employment was with the Wolf Creek Indian Village and Museum in Bastian, Virginia for 12 years. A job I dearly LOVED!

I was the Museums Program Coordinator. Which was a catchall phrase for that if it needed to be done, pitch in and do it! It is a really small museum ran by our local county government based on an actual archeology site. I've also for the last 20 years volunteer as a board member for Virginia Organizing.

We are a very small populated county with only about 8,000 or so people living here. But one thing we do have is a major interstate through the county. You have to travel through a tunnel to get to us, from the north or south.  We always like to say it took two major interstate tunnels for the world to get to us. Bland County is known as, "the land between the tunnels".

Beginning of my last illness..yep sitting down on
the job. I was having real problems that day.
In February 2012, I had to resign my beloved job because my health took a turn I did not expect. I wrote about my journey with that on this blog. I have heart problems, CFS/ME/Fibro, what ever they want to call it, back problems, just a whole host of chronic health issues. Issues that on any given day can be an adventure in itself to deal with and just function. Meaning there are days it is hard to just walk, talk or even think...period.

Though I am disabled now, I'm not dead, so I am trying my best to be as productive as I can within the physical limitations I have. The blog was the beginning.

West Virginia Coon Hunters band
They played at the Bristol Sessions in 1927
Wesley "Bane"Boyles my Grandfather is
1st row 2nd from right
This blog was created for multiple reasons. It was to share what little knowledge I have of the history of my area and my family. It was to comment on issues that are important to the future of Appalachia and our people (i.e. my opinion and we all know the saying about opinions). It was to share recipes, stories, and the knowledge of crafts that I know how to make.

I am shamelessly now adding another level and using the blog to be an avenue to supplement some of my income while dealing with my disabilities. I hope to sell things I make, maybe selling things on eBay or Etsy, a few Google ads here and there. Bills don't stop when you get sick.

YEP big dilemma on how to survive. I still have taxes to pay, my mortgage, my home needs repairs, and I need to take care of myself and family.

So I am trying this new adventure, out of my home, around my symptoms, since I'm not dead yet, to feel useful again, supplement my income and get off of that public assistance merry-go-round, as much as possible. I signed up with Virginia Rehabilitation services and am good to go.

My blog will now play a part. Ya'll know I'm not a prolific blogger and I don't just post for the heck of it. The majority of the blog will still be what it was intended to be, to share stories and history with occasional links to things for sale. It will take me some time to make or put together some of my crafts. My thought is maybe to record how-to videos for people and monetize those somehow. I would only have to record how to ONCE!

Here is part of a test video I recorded on making primitive pottery a couple weeks ago. Just a test and I will put the old fire pit in the back yard to use to actually do a complete how to later. My nephew is making me a grinding stone, for the way I like to process local clay, though you don't need one.

My health issues mean I have limited energy to get things accomplished. Some weeks it's a real struggle just to take care of personal needs much less write or make something! But I have all this knowledge I've learned over the years, knowledge handed down and I want to share.

I hope you will bear with me, follow me and when I do post something, it's worth your time and worth reading.  If I make something, it's worth buying. So adding this element of a part-time, part-time job I hope will not be distracting.  I have hopes something I do clicks and the income Gods smile with a little here and a little there which makes a whole bunch. I really have brain fog issues!  I hope if you see a sentence that makes NO sense, to please contact me and let me know.

A big thank you to all those who encourage me and read these posts. Feel free to comment and contact me. Blogger has some quirks but I'm sticking with it. Some are very annoying I know but it's free, what do I expect?