view from the ridge

Encouragement for your week, a vintage recipe, and a “Did you know?” quiz for your Thanksgiving table.

Friends, we set a record last week: Shortest post ever with the most comments! (Let this be a lesson to your circumlocutory correspondent from the Ridge.)

A comment from the week before, though, is the one that arrested my attention. Sue M. of suburban Chicago wrote, “I so often find myself feeling guilty for being exhausted during this time knowing I’m not juggling as much as my mom friends…. I was able to get away for a quick weekend to see friends that was such a spiritual and soulful time of rest…It reminded me I need to do that in smaller bits while here at home doing the daily grind.”

Sue’s perceptive comment spurred me to do a bit of research.

Despite the number of contemporary coffeeshops bearing that clever name, the expression “the daily grind” is age-old, spawned by the need for American farmers to take their wheat or corn to the local mill for processing. “The daily grind” refers to the fact that mills provided the same service over and over and over again.

As a new southerner, I’m learning to make cornbread the way North Carolinians have for centuries, using 100% natural stone ground corn with no preservatives or additives. (I store my cornmeal in the frig). The grain we use is ground by 2-ton quartz buhrstones at the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Nearly 200 years old, the Old Mill is still powered exclusively by the Little Pigeon River, which flows northwest from Haywood County where we live into eastern TN.

Read on for a vintage cornbread recipe to pair with local honey.

Here are some fun facts to share around your Thanksgiving table while slathering your cornbread with honey or digging into Grandma’s savory cornbread stuffing.


· The expression “rule of thumb” comes from the practice of testing the coarseness of ground grain between your thumb and fingers.

· “Grist for the mill” is actually anything that can be made useful or profitable. (It’s also come to mean that which you mull over, the way millstones grind or chew grain.)

· “Run of the mill” is anything standard or ordinary, nothing special.

· When someone inquires as to your health and you respond “fair to middlin’,” you’ve taken the expression from ground grain that was graded from fair to middling to fine. (Fair to middling grain is subpar and often used for livestock feed.)

· And when you remind someone to “wait your turn,” your words hearken back to the practice of mill customers awaiting the turn of the waterwheel or grindstone to grind their grain. *

(*With thanks to Smokies Life magazine, Spring 2020)

Hankering for cornbread that doesn’t come out of a box but you can still make in a jiffy? Here’s a tried-and-true vintage recipe I got from the folks at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


1 ½ cups sour milk or buttermilk* ½ tsp baking soda

2 eggs 1½ cups cornmeal

2 Tbsp. sugar ½ cup flour

½ tsp salt ¼ cup melted butter

Beat the first five ingredients together. Stir in cornmeal and flour. Add melted butter. Pour batter into a greased 8” square pan (or use your cast iron skillet if you have one.) Bake at 425 ° for 30 minutes or ‘til golden brown. [Note: Buttermilk gives cornbread its tender crumb. If you don’t have any on hand, use 1 ½ tbsp vinegar and add enough milk to make 1 ½ cups.]

In this week focused on giving thanks, let’s set aside thoughts of the pandemic, politics and polemic that have put us through the mill and brought our normal activities to a grinding halt. (See what I did there? Shameless.)

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9

Whether you’re feeling fine this week or fair-to-middlin’, whether you’ve physically gathered with your family or are wishing them well across a screen, whether you’ve planted this year in tears or are harvesting joy, let’s thank God for the sun and the rain and the grain.

For food to eat and friends to eat it with.

For arms to offer assistance to others.

For hearts to carry love across the miles.

Oh friends, this Thanksgiving of 2020, I am so very thankful for you.

“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.” Psalm 126: 6

- Copyright 2020, Maggie Wallem Rowe

Maggie's first book, This Life We Share, is available from NavPress.

If you are reading it, please consider leaving a brief review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and/or Reviews and recommendations help get the message into more hands, hearts, and minds. Thank you!

  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

If you are a regular visitor here at View from the Ridge, you've just scored three extra minutes in your day. Normally that's about how long it takes to read one of my posts.

Because you know that old cliche about a picture being worth 1000 words?

In one image, here's my thousand today:

Son-in-law Ben with youngest daughter Rosemary, November 2020

Beloved daughter of God, this is how your Heavenly Father looks at you, too.

"He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." Zephaniah 3:17

He loves you. Oh, how much he loves you!

  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

[The winners of last week’s book giveaway are Keri F of Canton, GA, and Carol M of Glendale Heights, IL. Congratulations!]

"Is there a hole in your bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza?"

Question: Are you feeling more tired than November of a year ago? Despite less travel and more time at home, are you also experiencing less energy and more fatigue? Less patience, more anxiety? Beloved friend, me too.

The good news? This is normal for the abnormal times we’re living in.

I meet online each week with different groups of women. We’re not medical professionals, but we gauge each other’s emotional temperature by sharing how we’re doing mentally, physically, and spiritually. And – no surprise here – we’re all tired. It’s as if this year has drained us totally dry, like a cellphone that’s lost its charger cable.

I’ve asked my author friend Gina Butz to stop by today to help us understand what’s happening to us. The short answer? We’re not living at full.

Let Gina explain.

“Living with the ongoing challenges of the pandemic is like a thousand pinprick holes in the bucket of our lives. Constantly adjusting to a different way of living is exhausting. No, it's not as big as in the beginning when we were stuck at home. But think of the mental and emotional energy that a series of small events in one day can take:

What Drains Us

· Remembering to bring a mask with you everywhere.

· Awkward social greetings because you don't know if your friend is OK with physical touch.

· The isolation of working from home.

· Being surrounded by family while you're trying to work.

· The kids need you for their calls.

· You forgot to mute yourself.

· Or you forgot to unmute yourself.

· Hours of trying to read people over zoom.

· Zoom butt (my husband complains of this daily)

· You just got exposed to someone with the virus.

· Watching people argue on social media.

· You are the one arguing on social media.

· We don't see eye to eye about the pandemic.

· We don't see eye to eye about politics.

· It's unclear where others stands on the pandemic or politics so now it's awkward to have a conversation.

· The date for another event that should have happened passes by.

· And all that on top of normal life events that would be a challenge even without a pandemic.

Every day there are a thousand little things that drain us. A thousand ways life is different, not the way we knew, not the way we hope.

We could pretend it's fine. Just look on the bright side. Console ourselves with, "Well, it's better than it was." But those thoughts don't fill holes.

So what do we do about the drain?

We need more filling. So much has drained us this year, and few of us have taken the time we need to refill. It's hard to find the time, honestly, between zoom calls and online learning and navigating new social situations.

We can't control the situation we live in, but we can be kind to ourselves by recognizing that this "new normal" isn't normal. It's not the way we are meant to be. And we are human. It wears on us to live like this.

We need this grace. Grace to acknowledge that we're not operating from full tanks right now, and that's normal. When we're impatient and tired and it's harder than we think it should be, we need to remember that we're running low. Deep breath.

These days, our buckets drain more quickly. We need to go to the well of God's grace or the well of relationships in our lives more often. Not just daily but even moment by moment. Every hour we need Him.

We need more of God. We need more kindness. More grace. More of that which fills us up while the world drains us. In that sense, there's something good about this season. It can make us more dependent, keep us closer to that which ministers to our souls.

We may not be able to stop the slow drain, but we know where to get filled up again.”

Beloved friends, please comment below and share one step you are taking now or plan to take soon to refill your bucket. I’ll share mine next week, along with a photo that’s shown me how I want to view God, and a recent technique I’ve learned that’s helping me sort through the deluge of misinformation online.

But until then?

That bucket full of slow leaks is not to be kicked or put on a list or discarded. There’s a sweet spring not far away that will fill it to overflowing. And we’re on our way there together.

“For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17