The Secret Language of the Universe

I’m naturally a very positive person and extremely sensitive to energy. Someone told me that’s because I’m an empath, but after reading the definition of an empath I’m not exactly sure that’s true. I’m just spiritual and I believe in signs and in using positive energy to manifest good things into your life – to spread good vibes.

I like having a part time job alongside Rusticity and I had one recently that sucked all the positive energy out of me! I enjoyed the work – I was learning a lot and the schedule and pay were right where I needed them to be, but it was a toxic work environment. I felt belittled and unappreciated most of the time and I started soaking up all of the negative energy in the office. Being in that toxic environment was really wearing on me – I felt emotionally drained and I wasn’t happy. Something had to change, but change is scary and I was in a vicious cycle struggling with the decision. Did the good outweigh the bad? Couldn’t I just muscle through it since it was only part-time? I always talked myself out of quitting and I needed a sign.

One day I was going for a walk on my lunch break and I peaked in one of those “Little Free Library” stands to pick out a book to read. One of the books that I grabbed was called SIGNS – The SECRET LANGUAGE of the UNIVERSE written by Laura Lynne Jackson who happens to be a psychic medium. I started reading the intro and this is what it said:

“I want you to understand that this book has found its way into your hands for a reason. That you are reading these words right now is not an accident. It is an invitation from the universe. In whatever way this book and these words have found their way to you, please know it wasn’t a random event. You are meant to be reading these words. The central principal of this book is that the universe brings the people, information, and events we most need into our paths. Powerful guiding forces exist that steer us toward happier and more authentic lives.”

After reading these words I knew what I had to do – it was the sign that I was looking for! The next day I gave my notice and I immediately felt a weight lifted off of me. I became the architect of my own life that day.

As soon as all of that negativity was out of my life, it freed up space for so much positivity! I took a little break and did all of my favorite soul-feeding things! I focused on Rusticity projects, went camping, and just took some much needed time for ME. Flash forward one month later and the perfect part-time position landed right in my lap and I couldn’t be happier. I’m so happy I listened to the universe (and Laura Lynne Jackson) that day! Read the book – it’s life-changing!

TRUE AID


I was one of five kids so getting quality time with your parents when you have that many siblings is a very rare thing! One night I had a nightmare and my dad met me downstairs. We ate cookies and took shots of Red Eye Whiskey (but really it was just milk). Then he told me a story and it was the most amazing story I had ever heard! Years later he turned that story into a poem…

True Aid
It’s been a long time since this story’s been told so I’ll put it in print before the scent gets too cold. I told you the story, but I didn’t tell it all. I left out some facts that I didn’t recall. As I tell my tale you’ll understand why it took so long to take pen in hand. 

It was Autumn night back in ’73. We had been out on a date, but we didn’t stay late. It was a full moon sky and the air was clear and kind of warm for that time of year. I had to run by the house, had to feed the cat, but my story don’t start until after that. I heard the motor wind as I drove down the hill across the swamp past the town of Mechanicsville.

It was a magnificent night for a top down ride, not a cloud in sight where the moon could hide. I had to cross White Oak Swamp to get home that night. Not a barn or a house or a car in sight. I heard the barking of some far away dog and felt the dampness of the cool night fog. I glanced at my gauge, she was laying on E as I rolled to a stop beneath a big oak tree. 

I was looking for a light in my car floor board when up rolled a man in a ’47 Ford. I said to myself, “I must be living right or it’s my good luck!” As he pointed to the junk in the front seat of his truck, he said, “Just toss it in the bed on top of the load, my store is just a little ways down the road.”

A song from the barn dance played on that truck radio. It was a song I had heard many years ago. I said, “I haven’t heard that song since I was a child.” And he said, “It’s only been out for a little while.” The radio played another country song and before I knew it we were singing along, the old Philco sounded mighty fine blaring out a tune by Patsy Cline. He said, “I like to hear those Texas boys, I like the way they sing. I like to hear those yodeling songs and to hear that flat top ring.”

As we pulled in the drive of his one room store, I thought to myself, I’ve never seen this place before. He said, “I’m thirsty.” I said, “I know what you mean.” As I fumbled for nickels for the soda machine, I put in the change and heard the nickel drop. It’s been a long time since the 5 cents pop. I ain’t seen a water filled cooler since I was a kid. Then I drank that Tru Ade and I was glad that I did. 

He walked to the pump and in his right hand he was taking a new top off an old red gas can. He cranked the handle on an antique pump, lowered the hose and it began to dump. Five gallons later, it said one dollar and four. I said, “man at that price, pump a little more.” 

He said, “You know you are standing on hallowed ground. They paid the price in this swamp and in all the farms around. I know lots of stories about the Civil War. I know some that’s never been told before. I’ve talked to many of the boys that died that day. They thought they’d go to Heaven, but there’s been some delay. From Cold Harbor and Gaines Mill to Seven Pines and Malvern Hill. Some was blue and others gray, but they all the same color on judgement day.”

I said, “how is it you’ve talked to the spirits of the dead? Their lives are over, why’d they stay behind instead?” He said, “I hear their voices in the wind, mostly young boys trying to go home again. They call to me from out beyond the evening fog and the misty dawn. They say it’s a mortal sin to take your brothers life when civil unrest turns to civil strife.” 

I thought to myself, help or no help, he’s out of his gourd as I crawled back up in the seat of his Ford. We talked a little more as he drove to my car, It didn’t take to long, it wasn’t very far. I said, “I’ll drop by tomorrow and help with the load.” He said, “Never mind son, just keep it on the road.” So I shoved that Tiger into gear and put some space between me and here.

As I pulled away I heard those tires spin. I moved through the night just like the wind. Early next morning I was on that road again trying to find the store of my new found friend. After an hour of looking I pulled into another store and asked about the man from the night before. I told the clerk my story and to my surprise, there was a look of belief in that storekeepers eyes. 

He said, “that would be my Daddy or my Uncle Phil. They used ta run a store down the road a spell, but the store burned down back in ’53 and nobody survived except by cousin and me. Judging by his stories and the cigar he had, I would definitely say that was my dear old dad. Daddy always felt a special kin for the boys who lost their lives back then. He knew the position of the pickets and lines from down Cold Harbor up to Seven Pines, and every once in a while when someone needs a helping hand he comes back to help ‘em any way that he can.

Daddy always said he heard voices in the wind, but they were never a threat, just another kind of friend. He told me one time that he was a gleaner of souls, a watcher of men and he held open the door so their lost should could come in. He was a compassionate man, always willing to lend a helping hand and without judgment or fear he was always ready to lend an ear. They could relate to him, they would tell their story. Not so much about the war, the valor and glory, but about homesickness, their loneliness and fears, about the loss of loved ones, and about families in tears. They needed someone to help along the way. He helped them then, just like he helped you yesterday. 

Every once in awhile somebody like you will come in and tell us about the old man who was their friend. I expect that just for fun he jumps in that Ford just to talk to someone. We opened a new store at this location. Nothing left there but the old burnt foundation.

I drove down the road to the old Sycamore tree and turned where he said the old store used to be. I got out of the car and closed the door, and walked over to the shell of the burnt out store. I kicked the bottle caps in the drive from the night before. What my mind denies I can clearly see which my own two eyes. I can’t explain what I don’t understand. In the weeds by the gas pump sat that old red gas can.

I could still detect the aromatic blend of the cigar smoke from my new found friend. And I still feel the urge to hum along when I recall the tune of that long forgotten song. As I dropped in the seat and pulled the door, I saw our tire tracks the drive from the night before. I started my car and sped away thinking about what that storekeeper had to say. I was driving along, but I hadn’t gone far when I saw that Tru Ade bottle in the floor of my car.

As I turned on my radio it started to play, an old southern bluesman who put it this way: “The reaper knows what the mad man sows, and the harvest is mine come pickin’ time, but the gleaner collects what the reaper neglects. He gathers up souls who don’t want to be lost in the swamp of eternity. Sometimes da lord can use a helpin’ hand when he’s roundin’ up souls for the promised land. They think of themselves as a morning star and they watch over their friends where ever they are. So be careful of the seeds you sow today you’ll have to harvest their fruit come judgement day.”

If you break down in Cold Harbor, then you’re in luck. Look for my friend; he drives a ’47 Ford pick-up truck.

-Jim Hiner 

Notice that the title of this poem is a play on words – and my dad certainly had a way with words didn’t he? The old man that helped him was a “true aid” and the old soda pop was called Tru Ade.
At the flea market recently, I found this old Tru Ade bottle and bought it for $1. To most, it just looks like an old bottle, but to me it was my dad letting me know that he is still with me. I see you Daddy. I see you.

Tips for the Flea Market

They lovingly refer to me as the “Flea Market Girl” at my local swap meet. I ALWAYS find something! Here are my go-to-tips:

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

This one is obvious and honestly the hardest one for me since I am NOT a morning person! I love to sleep-in on the weekends and most of the time I don’t even get to the flea market until around 10am. Whenever I do arrive early it has paid off! It’s not as busy and of course it’s less picked over. I will say that if you go later in the day you are more likely to get a deal since the dealers don’t want to pack it back up.

Cash Is King

Dealers are more willing to haggle with you if you are paying with cash; plus not everyone accepts cards at flea markets. Always bring smaller bills and whenever possible pay with exact change – they always like that!

You Get More Bees With Honey

This is my go-to-tip and one that a ton of people don’t follow. It’s so easy to be a kind human. Just be nice… say good morning before you ask for their best price on something, compliment their set-up, listen to their story about a particular piece, remember their name… easy stuff people! Kindness goes a long way.

Make Quick Decisions

If you see something you like and it’s a good deal then you better get it! These markets are usually fast-paced and well attended. By the time you do a lap and think about a purchase, it could be gone by the time you circle back and IT WILL HAUNT YOU! Trust me on that!

Bring A Bag or Cart For Your Finds

This is a must! There is nothing worse then lugging around your finds without something to put them in and having to make several trips to your car. You can usually leave something you’ve purchased with the vendor and swing by to pick it up later, but then you have to remember where they are set up. I have driven away and forgotten to pick up a piece before and it’s the worse feeling. DON’T DO THAT!

Don’t Be Afraid To Dig

I have a great eye for what I’m looking for and I can typically walk fast and scan a booth or table pretty quickly. Of course this saves time, but I am risking missing out on a treasure because I didn’t take my time to dig through boxes. If you have time, I recommend doing two laps. Walk fast and scan the first time, buying your must-haves. Slow down on the second lap and do some digging.

Happy hunting y’all!

DIY Firewood Holder

Anyone looking for a easy/cheap way to corral firewood in a small space? This one is easy, cheap and good looking to boot! Here’s how to make it:

  • Two 2x4s cut in half
  • Two cinderblocks
  • Wire
  • Scrap wood
  • Nail gun
  • Primer and paint

  1. Prime and paint the cinderblocks
  2. Wire the two cinderblocks together
  3. Cut the two 2x4s in half
  4. Wedge the four 2×4 pieces into the holes of the cinderblocks
  5. Cut and attach scrap wood to the 2x4s using the nail gun.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

This Christmas I was in quarantine and so I was determined to make it magical! Bringing the camper and camping at my moms was the perfect solution – I could be home and keep a safe distance from family at the same time. Decorating the camper for Christmas was so much fun and it definitely kept me in the holiday spirit! Stay cozy everyone!

Wine and Wreatha Party

To celebrate her 65th birthday, my friend Resa put together a wreath making party and it was such a great idea! She asked everyone to bring a wreath form and foraged trimmings like pinecones, natural greenery and berries. She put together individual charcuterie boxes for everyone to enjoy and treated us with sangria, wine and hot chocolate. We laughed. We danced. We sang. We ate cake. We told funny stories by the fire pit and we celebrated a beautiful human!

DIY Pampus Grass Wreath

This is a simple DIY project that anyone can do and it makes such a statement! Spray the picked plumes with hairspray so that the seeds stay in tact and insert them into a straw wreath form. Heres a thrifty tip – you can usually find these straw wreath forms at your local Goodwill or thrift store for under $3!

Love me some Lucketts

I HAVE SO MUCH FUN AT THIS SHOW! It just never fails! The vendors, the inspiration, the happy shoppers, the organizers – all of it is top notch! I met up with old friends and even made some new ones! This year I almost sold out of treasures, which made clean up a piece of cake! I can’t wait until Spring 2022!

Farm Family Reunion

We had a family reunion up at the Hiner Farmhouse in the mountains of Highland County. It’s where my grandfather grew up and I am so thankful to still have it in the family. Only a handful of people were able to make it to the reunion, but we shared stories, laughed and ate delicious food, including Donna’s delicious rhubarb pie. It was perfect. I know my dad and grandfather were smiling from above.

I feel extremely connected to this place and I am making a conscious effort to learn about my past, get to know and enjoy my family and to take care of the house and property so we can all enjoy it for many years to come. See how happy the old farmhouse seems with her newly painted porch? She seemed to be alive that day, with the smell of delicious food cooking in her kitchen and with the sound of the slamming screen door and children laughing and running up and down the steps.

See the post below to read the blessing that I wrote just for the occasion.