About me

Appalachian Food, Trend or Tradition?

So after appearing on the TV show State Plate where my family was featured making traditional Appalachian foods and now that CNN’s Anthony Bourdain  has traveled to West Virginia in his show Explore Parts Unknown, I am a little confused if the food of my home is now trendy or traditional? I wonder what it is that we as people are looking for when we have come back and taken the simple county food that my family eats and made it trendy.

I wonder if our nation has had so much world food exposure that we are looking for something that is truly American, something with traditions and stories that reflect our basic American history. Many Americans have never eaten self butchered meats, home-made breads,home canned fruits and veggies from the garden. So to these people my family and the mountain communities that surround me seem novel. Yet, I view myself and my way of living as traditional to Appalachia and not unique in any way. In reality it is not unique to most  Americans either, just forgotten for a few generations.

Christopher and Cody picking Pumpkins with Paige on the way to pick them up

Christopher and Cody picking pumpkins and Paige on the way with the wagon

Food is just one aspect of a life here that is lived believing you will only be able to count on your family and yourself in an uncertain future. Families still raise gardens to provide valuable nutrition, they hunt, fish and forage as a normal part of the seasons. They can and dry foods for the winter and share the bounty with those they know and love. It is simple and direct to make food from what is growing near by. It saves money and is better for you because it is less likely to have chemicals and pesticides.  It only seems odd or novel to outsiders who would never think of eating wild rabbits or making your own wine from plants that grow like weeds. It also takes skills that many have forgotten over the generations. They say time stands still in the hills, so in this way we are fortunate to have kept the skills alive.

To my surprise, I was recently invited to be part of a historical “Foodways” museum exhibit at the Beverly Heritage Center  in Beverly, West Virginia. I shared some of my families recipes and our way of preparing several items that have been in the family for generations. I even shared some of the cooking tools we use for the display, some being over 60 years old.

BHC cooking display board

As part of the display the Museum created this panel about my family’s food history. It will be on display for the summer placed on a dinner table with 5 other panels. Each one sharing a Appalachian food story and a couple of recipes. Then during opening day Jenny the curator of the project will serve several of the foods that the families have shared with her during the collection process. I hope to make the apple sauce cake for her and the visitors and share some more of my families stories. The exhibit opens June 9th in the lobby of the Beverly Heritage Center in Beverly, West Virginia. 

After my interview with Jenny, I began to reflect on the resent fascination with our rural foods. Our interview reminded me of why country families and mountain communities have such attachments to their food. Food is the link to each other and the communities that they value. As Jenny and I chatted, I found myself saying that it is often times food that brings us all together. It is church dinners and family holidays, birthdays and funerals, fairs and festivals, that whole communities will gather together to share in someones pain or celebration. Our foods are about nourishment, not only of the body but of the soul. We have family time, say Grace, and keep in touch with friends, families all with food. It is these connections with food that is different in the world today. Today’s families rarely sit down at the table to eat a meal together. Holiday meals are not home-made anymore. Never allowing everyone to get involved in the preparations.  Here in Appalachia often we know who butchered the meat, made the beer and wine that we toast with, know the woman who made the jams, jellies and the children who made the cookies sitting on the table our Thanksgiving table.

Today people have no idea what the ingredients are in their food or even how they  are grown or raised. Kids eat in the car and we get milk in plastic bottles. We have lost touch with the joy of our food.

Appalachian food is about being authentic and natural, full of stories and traditions. Sometimes it is fancy and other times it is simple and filling, but it is often more about who you share a meal with then the food on the plate that is important.

Advertisements
Categories: About me, canning, cooking, country cooking, Country life, Dandelions, family traditions, Foraging, Hand Pies, history, hobbies, Holidays, Jam, State Plate TV show, West Virginia, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Joy of CreatingCommunity Art

When I graduated from college with a degree in art, I never thought that I would be a public art advocate or a muralist. Of course, I never thought I would be on TV or an AmeriCorps Service Member either. Today working on community art projects is one of the things that gives me the most joy.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

AmeriCorps Volunteer murals start to appear in the windows of the Golden Rule Building, Belington, WV

Art has always been a passion of mine but taking my skills to the size and scale of murals to be displayed in public spaces is new. I have always used art as a tool for my personal  expression, never thinking about doing art for the public. Now as a mature artist, I am sharing the feelings and passions of communities, programs, and groups of people. The change is fundamentally new to my understanding of what it means to create and to be a creator. I see my work now as a tool for positive change in a community. A gift that will have lasting effects in many of the small rural towns where I live and work.

 

Over the last month, two more quilt panels that I was the project manager for and head artist have been installed, 6 window murals have been installed that I helped to create with volunteers, and the beginnings of an office mural, that I am personally painting, is ready for paint application. I am also on the board of an Art organization called Mountain Arts District that is in the process of installing a collection of student art work  in a city park in June. It is over whelming when I stop and look at the amount of people and projects that have passed through my life in the last 3 years.  Yet, this is not my main job and I only do what I can for non-profits who rarely have the funds to pay for such projects. I am doing most of this work as a part of my AmeriCorps service but also as an educational experience to those around me. Public art is a niche skill just like any other field and the leaders of our communities rarely understand or feel comfortable talking with arts, I aim to change that.

31901301_10211599745126077_3454734919668858880_n

line drawing on the wall of my new office Barbour County Development Authority, Philippi, WV

 

I often paint with non-artist volunteers and spend much of my time helping and teaching interested community members skills that they can use to make community art themselves. It is a joy to share in the process of watching an idea come to life, then see people learning to make art, then watch the pride that comes to their faces when they walk through a downtown seeing art that they have helped to make. It is sometimes the only real change that they can point to and say “I did that” in their community.

Community art is best when people who live and love a place take part in the creation of their culture. That could mean painting murals,  taking part in community dances, attending festivals of live music or creation of community gardens. It is when people begin to see that they have the power to create positive change that things begin to thrive.

Even if I never planned to be doing this kind of work and I am surprised everyday that I get paid to create these images, I am thankful to AmeriCorps for allowing me to share my skills.I am fortunate to work at sites that have allowed me the time away from the “office” to work on these up lifting projects and I will have the best memories of my service time.  It is my final wish that as I leave AmeriCorps next spring that I can continue to make a difference in my community with art in some way. I know that it has changed me for the better and I hope it is always part of who I am.

instillation of Quilt block at YMCA 2017

installation of one of the 8 panels I helped to create for the Elkins Main Street project 2017

 

Categories: About me, AmeriCorps, Art, Barbour County, Community Art, Elkins Main Street, murals, Painting, Quilt Trails | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Different Presective on Life: Macular Degeneration.

wildflowers Monongahela National Forest Elkins WV

Yellow Flowers at Stuarts Park near Elkins WV

So about two weeks ago I was told that the inherited eye disease that my family carries is beginning to do damage to my eyes too.The usual end result is legal blindness, although they say I may still be able to see some at the edges of my vision field. I am not sure if we ever knew what blinded my Grandmother but we are positive that my mother has battled “wet”  Macular Degeneration for about 20 years. She began to notice the changes in her sight in her late 60’s with a very quick loss of vision over about three or four years. In my case I have a type of “dry” macular degeneration or Age Related Macular Degeneration. The outcome is almost always the same with either disease,  although the my condition is a chronic slow loss of vision and my mother had a very acute fast-moving loss of vision, we both will end up blind at one point or another.

So far there is no real treatment for this type of vision loss and they can not predict when or if I will go completely blind at any point. So I am faced with the most challenging obstacle in my life. A unknown cloud  will slowly yet steadily take away one of the things I have enjoyed most in my life and make even everyday tasks become almost impossible to do on my own. This new challenge has changed my perspective on things that I can hardly explain here.

How do you quantify the value of your sight, or hearing, or the ability to touch taste or smell??? How do I explain the feeling of loss that is trying to drag me into the darkness without even allowing me to try to fight back. There is no recovery,  rehabilitation, cure or corrective device for this progressive loss of sight. So how do I learn to keep my balance in life when I am not even given something to fight against. I am left with trying to make peace with my situation…. and if you know me at all, making peace is not my best quality, by nature I am at my best when the fight is on.

The Dr. suggest that I change my diet to lower my blood pressure and lower the sugars in my diet to at least slow the progression of my loss. Diabetes and high blood pressure cause all kinds of damage to our vision. If  I can reduce my risks for other complications I may reduce the chances of going blind faster. Strange that I am hoping to just slow down something I can’t control in the slightest.

So you may see posts from time to time about my new situation and how it changes my perspective on things in both a literal way and a figurative way. I have a new pair of glasses which I hate… and can’t hardly use comfortably. I now have to see my eye Dr’s every year with other visits if I discover any changes. I was lucky I went for an annual exam when they discovered the changes were more drastic than I thought or could have imagined.

I now  live and look at things with a more studious eye. Drinking in the colors and textures of the things I love as if I may not every see them again. I will continue to read as long as I can. I will read all of your wonderful blogs and drink in the words as deeply as my heart allows. I have made it a point to enjoy more books too. Real books with paper pages and smells of old books stores with torn edges that I can annotate and dog ear. I will reread and re-watch my favorite books and movies until I know them and they become a part of me. I will create this blog until the time comes when I can not see the words on the page but only get to hear them read back to me with a computer voice. I will learn to work with it, around it  and through it and move forward into what ever wonderful things that God still has for me.

In a decade they guess I will no longer drive or clean my house. So I must have something wonderful to do some other way…. Maybe I will become Agatha Christy who dictated every one of her books and had a wonderful editor who transcribed them for her? Who knows maybe I am to be a painter of impressionistic flowers that tour the world as “works of the blind”?? Or  Maybe a Philosopher who spends too much time alone thinking about the meaning in life and discovers the “One Thing” that explains life as we know it.

So my perspective is changing on many things, but mostly on what beauty is and how we express it; What is Art and how do we enjoy it and what is Joy and how to find it.

 

 

Categories: About me, blindness, blogging, family health, health, Love, wellness | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Serving AmeriCorps and AFHA the Second Time Around

 

Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” 
― 
Fred Rogers, Methodist Minister and Host of the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

As my first year of AmeriCorps service at the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area was quickly coming to a close I found myself feeling like my work in Randolph County, West Virginia was not complete. That I had just started to see the impact of my service and I was not willing to walk away. I was not willing to end the project I was working on and was not willing to leave the many people who I was serving every day. In my heart I knew I was helping and making a difference and just did not want to stop making this community a better place.

So by September of 2016, I signed up for another year of service to AFHA, AmeriCorps, Elkins Main Street and the Community of Elkins West Virginia. It was the same day that a new group of AmeriCorps members were sworn into the program. The day was filled with speeches, group photos and getting to know the other volunteers who would join me in the Appalachian Mountains and small towns. It was also the day that I knew that I would never leave the life of service that I had been building for the last 12 months.director-of-volunteer-west-virginia-2016

Executive Director of: Volunteer West Virginia Heather Foster speaking to new enrollees.

I know that many who join AmeriCorps come for the education awards and the on the job training. Some come to explore job possibilities and some come for the travel to a new place with pay. I on the other hand came because I love the state of West Virginia. I understand my states weaknesses and challenges because for 27 years this is where I called home. I understand its proud nature, where her people do not want a hand out, but a hand up. They want an equal chance at raising a family; have steady work and a chance to live in warm safe homes. West Virginians prefer to do it on their own, on their own terms, and if you want to join them in a battle of any kind, they bless you for fighting alongside them. Together they battle to make things better for everyone.I serve next to them so can add my skill, education, strength and love to help bring a brighter future to a mountain community.

I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”― Kahlil Gibran

afha-volunteer-west-virginia-swearing-in-2016

Members of AFHA, AmeriCorps enrolling for the 2016-2017  year Morgantown, West Virginia.Sign says “Volunteer West Virginia the state’s Commission for National Community Service. AmeriCorps West Virginia.”

I believe that the AmeriCorps program achieves what it sets out to do. It brings together caring, helpful, educated people who want to make a difference in a location where there is need for support. With guidance, service members do the work in areas of our state that most are not willing or able to do. We aid in making a positive change in the communities doing all kinds of work from preservation and redevelopment of historic buildings, tracking trout populations to building non-profit websites and giving historical tours at local sites. We are here to serve the people and enhance their communities and make them stronger.hands-on-team-working-to-reglaze-and-paint-windows-at-the-historic-darden-house-elkins-west-virginia

AFHA, Hands on team members re-glazing windows on the historic Darden house Elkins, West Virginia.

Being an AmeriCorps member over the last year has opened my life up to new people, new opportunities, and the joy of service. I look forward to my second year of service with Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, AmeriCorps and with the people of Elkins, West Virginia. I can only hope to give them back what they have already given to me. A fresh new outlook on what I can do for the people and places that I love.Thank you AFHA, AmeriCorps and Elkins Main Street for the best job this 48 year old has ever had.

Categories: About me, Appalachina Mountains, community service, Elkins Main Street, Elkins West Virginia, Nonprofit, Randolph County | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Holidays Without Our Parents

So,every adult child has to go through this at least once and some of us have to face it 4 or more times if you are married. It is the day you realize that you will not have a Mother or Father around for the holidays.That you are grown up and you have lost the one or two people in your life that you look up too.  This is the first full year after losing my Mother In Law and one of many years since Tom and I have both lost fathers. The Holidays feel different without them and we feel that we have lost the key to our holiday celebrations.

I think I was in shock last Thanksgiving.I do not even remember what we eat and even if we did  eat… some how I just blanked it all out from Oct 22nd to New Years day. I remember the tree and the kids opening gifts and making breakfast for my family but not much more. I was a stay at home mom then… what did I do for three months??

It seems that this fall the reminder of the loss is tangible. It is harder this year, I can’t call up and ask a questions about how to make stuffing, from the father who has been gone 25 years. The holiday craft making for Sunday School kids is just a distant memory. Christmas cookies and candy over flowing from my mother’s kitchen is no more and I wonder how we will continue as adults. Children suffer deeply with the loss of a grandparent or step grandparent,but I wonder if they feel the loss as long as the adults.The pain lingers for years as we share dinners, gifts and reminders that the person is gone. They are not replaced by thoughts of a new toy,an exciting movie or by the first boy friend or girl friend.

The reply to my heart-break most often is “make  your own memories and traditions” share them with the children. The logic seems to work until you realize how many of us do not have children or have only one.The family dynamic has changed and we don’t always have younger siblings or children share the traditions with.

In my case shopping at the mall is nothing compared to the years I spent making cookies with my mother in our kitchen.Tom still misses opening day of deer season with his Dad and Thanksgiving is not the same without having everyone together for dinner at his parents house. My husband and I still continue to share both of those traditions with our own children and try to pass down those memories to them so nothing is lost.

It is tough doing “Adult”sometimes.I guess we keep moving forward the best we can and at times just fall apart when we finally realize that times change and we can’t stop them.Loss is part of living and being a grown up is all we can do. As Dory says” Just Keep Swimming”.

I am finding it hard to be excited for the Holidays this year,even with the little ones around. I will do my best to make our home warm and inviting and we will have friends and family here.The kids will spend time together and we will eat well. But in my heart there will still be an empty chair at our table. I will spend a few minutes remembering and giving thanks for those we have been lucky to know and love,but Thanksgiving is going to be tough this year. empty-chair-at-thanksgiving

 

Categories: About me, childhood memories, Colorado, Family, grandma, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Irony is Not Lost on Me, As a Dyslexic Writer

Jolynn and Christopher

people who love us don’t see our disabilities just our ability to love. JoLynn with Christopher the youngest son

 

I am always grateful and surprised when I find that one of my blog posts is liked or posted on a Face Book page. It makes me feel like I am reaching all of you and writing in a way that others can relate to.The irony of this entire blogging adventure is that I have a learning disability commonly known as Dyslexia.That problem should prevent me from even attempting to be a blogger, let alone a published writer. My dyslexia is actually in the form of dysgraphia very similar to dyslexia but my problem effects….. writing words and spelling rather than reading them….  ironic don’t you think?

My mind finds it very  difficult to memorize or recall the correct order of letter and number sequences. Things just jumbled up in the brain and come out any possible way but the correct way.Making writing a slow process. It may seem strange that I would take up writing as my favorite hobby where I battle with my limitations so much. The irony is that I get a lot of attention and positive feed back from my writing.

This week I was informed that a blog post/story I have written had been republished on a regional Web Magazine. The MiBurg website usually shares stories that are from the Eastern panhandle of the state in the area of New Martinsburg but this time the theme of my  post was about the entire state and about the AmeriCorps that work in the those areas. The post “The Secret to West Virginia No-profits: Collaboration” was a post about my work and I never thought it would go farther than my blog, my work Face Book page and maybe a local Web Magazine Elkinite. If you are looking for the story on Elkinite or MiBurg look unders the tab IDEAS, thanks!

So as I  look on my situation, where the battle of words is a blessing and I curse, I wonder if others with disabilities feel the same way as I do. I often feel that it makes no sense at all  that  I am writing and getting followers to a blog. That my blog has led me to TV and published writing sites and even my job. I live with the irony every time I put a word on a page. That the one thing I have success at doing is the one thing that I am weakest at.

Jolynn holding television camera in my kitchen

JoLynn Powers holding television camera from the Barnwood builders crew Aug 2015

 

So in the wonderful words of Alanis Morissette: because Word Press is now charging me a fee to link You Tube Videos to my Blog posts…. Booooo !!!!

Isn’t It Ironic 

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
“Well, isn’t this nice.”
And isn’t it ironic, l don’t you think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face

A traffic jam when you’re already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn’t it ironic, don’t you think
A little too ironic, and yeah I really do think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
And life has a funny way of helping you out
Helping you out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: About me, blogging, dyslexia, Elkinite, Elkins Main Street, hobbies, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

3 Years of Blogging has Changed My Life

It seems impossible that I have written a blog post at least every week for three years. Today is my 3rd Blogging Anniversary. I look back and see huge improvement in my writing and editing. Although, some things will never change about who I am as a person and how I write. This blog has given me a place to share my life and I am still surprised every time I write something that someone out there thinks it is worth reading. The biggest surprise of all is that this blog has opened so many doors for me.

rainy afternoon at old barn along Johnstown, WV

Rainy afternoon at old barn along Johnstown, W.V.

Over the last three years I have tried writing as openly  and honestly as I can and it seems to paying off. I write about the life I live, the people and places that I encounter and tell stories about the ups and downs of a small town life. These stories have not only given me a chance help create positive images on TV with the Barnwood Builders, they have let me share our DIY projects all over the world and write a few stories for a digital magazine called Elkinite.  The magazine shares stories of the  town I am working to help revitalise. My writing this blog even had something to do with me getting at my current job with AmeriCorps. They needed someone who had skills working with WordPress, ( Seriously Strange) They wanted someone who had the skills to build a new website for their organisation.So even building this blog has helped me in my current job. Who knew writing a blog on WordPress this would lead down this road?

Sign at the top of a flooded road at Roanoke,WV

Sign at the top of a flooded road at Roanoke,W.V.

So when I look back at  my very first posts and how nervous I was when I  pushed the publish button, I am so pleased with the results. I have grown, the blog has grown and my following is growing, who can ask for more. I plan to keep writing and sharing my little country life as long as all of you will have me.

So dear friends, I hope you hang in with me as I start a brand new year writing about my adventures in Wild,Wonderful,West Virginia. Where everyone stops to talk to you even if you a total stranger and where sweet tea and biscuits and gravy are the food everyone craves in the mornings.I love my home,and can’t wait to continue sharing my story with all of you.

rocks covered in moss by the river in Ten Mile. WV

Rocks covered in moss by the river in Ten Mile, W.V.

Categories: About me, blogging, DIY projects, Elkinite, hobbies, rural life, West Virginia, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Lives of Service, The Gulf War and Americorps

Thomas Powers In Germany in Recovery Tank

Thomas Powers In Germany in Recovery Tank

While today ( Jan 17th) is the 25th anniversary of the Bombing of Baghdad and the official start of what was the Gulf War. My family’s service to America comes to mind. My husband served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves for ten years from the age of 17 to 27 serving in the Gulf War until its end in March 1991. His role during the war was as a Military Policeman dealing mostly with POW.The years before the war Tom spent a tour in Baumholder, Germany where he worked as a recovery specialist with the 363rd mechanized division. He was a volunteer enlisted person all of these yearsI also recently have become a volunteer for our country although not with any military function. I have been officially joined AmeriCorps. A domestic federal volunteer program that serves local at risk communities. Much like the military you sign up for contracted amount of time and work for lower than average wages to serve communities that face economic struggles. Some of the problems that AmeriCorps works toward fixing include natural disaster recovery with FEMA, working to help homeless and aging veterans, educational issues in low-income areas, medical and dental issues in rural areas, and economic revitalization of depressed communities. Just like the rest of my family,a father who was a marine and a brother who is a retiring colonel from the U.S. Army and an MP husband, it was my turn to serve the people who I love and the communities I want to see prosper.

I became drawn to AmeriCorps for the same reasons my husband joined the military. If you asked either of us if we would help out a friend or neighbor who needed a hand, making their lives better with the work we are doing, we would jump to help. The other benefits are also a nice incentive.  The army has the E.I. education bill and Veterans benefits and AmeriCorps offers similar benefits. I am actually using my time with AmeriCorps to pay off the final portion of my college loans. They also offer money for college tuition and medical insurance. They both also offer travel with living expenses to new places ( domestic travel only with AmeriCorps). Mostly they aim to help the people of this country in some way and that is something that repays you in things more valuable than money.

I came to this place in my life because the events of the last year. It became clear after helping my husband’s family with the care of his dying mother that I finally felt the draw to serve. I had never given so much of my time to another person in my life other than my own kids. It was eye-opening to see how the healthcare world works and how without a family member or close friend things get missed and care can be inconsistent at best. So I knew after her death, I wanted to work in a field that made a difference for people. So I starting looking into the different ways I could make a difference and that lead to AmeriCorps. Essentially their work here in my state, fit right into what it is that I am trying to do with this blog. To uplift and rise above the problems that we face as community and state.

I will be working with the economic redevelopment of a nearby rural community, under a program called Elkins Main Street. I am so excited to share my skills with a very small non-profit that wants to try to build up an old downtown area. I have no idea where this will lead me but I am sure to learn allot and meet some interesting new people. I am also again surprised that this blog is one of the reasons I received a service offer. That my writing and creating this site had a huge influence on the people in charge. I will be working with them on a new website on WordPress. I will be promoting the work that they do on Facebook and trying to help share the activities we all are working on with my photography.

This new adventure will change my blogging some, I will be writing more on the weekends and evenings. So my posts will almost always be at night. It will also add to the fun that I have, as I work on fairs,festivals, work with historic buildings in Elkins West Virginia. It is a new adventure for me I aim to continue this blog to share what I am learning.

I find it a little ironic that it was this weekend that I joined AmeriCorps, as this is the same week that my husband 25 years ago faced the fact that a ground war was only days away. I guess everything happens in due time and it is just my time to serve. I think my husband is happy with my choice and he understands what it is like to serve. I am so excited about this opportunity and look forward to serving the people of West Virginia. Hopefully you all will be along with me as I see new things and help new people. Thanks to AmeriCorps I get to start a new direction in my life and make a little money along the way.

New River Gorge Bridge with fall folage 2000 by jolynn powers

New River Gorge Bridge with fall foliage 2000 by Jolynn Powers.

Categories: About me, AmeriCorps, Army, community service, Country life, Fairs and Festivals, Friendship, historic locations, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Believe Me, I am not a Journalist!

I had the great fortune in the last 12 months to work with the crew of Silent Crow  Arts Production Company. These are the people who work very hard to make the television shows The Barnwood Builders and many others like the Deadliest Catch. After working with the cast and crew last summer I have been able to reflect on what it is  that I hope to accomplish with this blog. After talking with two of the producers and one photographer last summer (2015) I had a revelation that I would have never come to with out their input…… “I am not a Journalist ! This will never be a Journalistic Blog!

During my college career I wanted more than anything to become a female western artist. I wanted  trained in the highest forms of drawing and painting and to travel the western states of the United States exploring the culture and drama of life. Yet, when I started doing more research about these woman and their histories I found that many had less formal training then I had. That many just created from the heart and found their happiness in just being able to share with their communities. Some of these female artisans shared traditions handed down from generation to generation and others created from spiritual believes. Many traveled to the west and became inspired by the natural beauty of the area. They all  felt that they needed to share what they were seeing in their own way. I knew that I wanted to share my world views also,  I just did not know how it would come to pass.

It took me 13 years to change from painter to writer of stories about Appalachia. The Eastern mountains are the most undiscovered, unappreciated  area of our great country. So I changed my medium from working with pencils and paint to words. I am learning to paint pictures with words and share stories with my photos. I feel as if I must tell the stories I find about these woods, these towns, and in these people.

Before working with Silent Crow Arts, I had thought that I needed to learn more about journalism. That it is was important to get the facts and report the statistics of those facts clearly. Well that idea was TANKED after a short but meaningful conversation with Katie Rolnick on the site the Barnwood Builders episode.  She kindly explained that she had come to television production from a back ground in journalism and that it helped  her some but, it was not the only way to tell a story. Then she went on to remind me that I was a story-teller  already  and that was how I became part of the show. My mind became shocked and confused at the time.It took the last 6 months for me to process what she  meant. Yea, I am slow sometimes…. aren’t we all?

Katie Rolnick Producer of the BarnWood Builders on the DIY Network with Miss Lee

Katie Rolnick Producer of the BarnWood Builders on the DIY Network with Miss Lee

Recently, I finally excepted her description of my hobby as a story-teller (Narrative Writer) only after understanding what that means and the difference between being a story-teller and being a journalist. The differences are huge and I found that journalism leaves the heart and soul out of a story. The soul of my stories would be missing if I only wrote the facts of an event or experience. If I had to cut out the family that I love to write about, the pain and sadness that I experience, our silly adventures we go on, then this blog would not be mine at all. It would be a travel guide to West Virginia. I hope with your support to continue to write about it all… the good,..the bad,.. and the ugly.

So my blogging goal ( resolution if you fallow that way of thinking) is to keep writing about what I love. I want to keep you in the loop of the great things I find here, things that keep me inspired and happy. I want to write about our struggles too, the things that I want to see change and what I think we can do to change them. I want to share my family…. even if they are as goofy as I am. I want to show you photos of the beauty that I see all around me and finally I want to paint pictures with my words. I plan to work harder on editing, and learn more about creative writing so that I can convey things more clearly… ..Sometimes I just do not have the time to do the editing I need to do and that will change as Christopher grows older.

It took almost a year for me to fully understand how and why I am part of a TV show. It has taken at least that long to for me to understand that I am not a journalist but a story-teller and to become comfortable with that title. So here is to all the new stories I hope to tell in the New Year…. May they all be good ones!

German beer glass Circa 1987 Happy Beer New Year 2016

German beer glass Circa 1987  Kirn, West Germany ,         Happy Beer New Year 2016

Categories: About me, Barnwood Builders, blogging, Country life, writing | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

If Martha Stewart had an ADHDD sister.

If Martha Stewart had a ADHDD sister I would be her.I love the holidays it gives me a reason to cook, bake and decorate. I at one time was a professional interior decorator. I worked for J.C. Penny’s custom decorating and I worked with a furniture store doing whole homes of furniture and accessories. So I get into the holidays deep, really deep, baking, candy making, making decorations and trimming trees (this year only three). Yet, as a house wife I don’t have the staff of professionals that people like Martha Stewart does to help me. So what most people do in a weekend I spend all month working on and in the process I make a huge mess. I dream of  someone to clean up every thing for me, maybe a hansom older man to do dishes, a young one to climb the ladder for the roof lights, and a nice granny kinda woman to clean while I decorate the tree. I just wish that I was not so caught up in my disorder ADHDD ( Attention Deficit Holiday Decorating Disorder) that I could say stop all on my own. But  my family all know that the only thing that ends my ADHDD binge is the date Dec 31st. New Years Eve sends shivers down my spine because it is the next day that I start to clean it all back up.

Blue and Silver Christmas tree 2015

Blue and Silver Christmas tree 2015

I feel like the bad sister that Martha would never talks about.  You know the one who suffers from over decorating and over baking. That family member who has a couple of rooms in the house totally covered in exploding  holiday decorations. The one that has two sinks over flowing with pots and pans because on a whim I needed to make candy for the entire 1 st grade class. The one who is making a mad dash to Wal-Mart at 10  pm to get spray paint because you forgot the it 4 times this week. The one who puts more lights on the pre-lighted tree because it is just toooo plain with out blue lights too. The one who has to color coordinate the tree to the curtains and the dinner dishes, you get the picture, right? I have  ADHDD so bad that I can never really finish one project before the next one needs attention. I am usually doing several things at once.

mess of unpacked decorations

mess of unpacked decorations

So this being our first Christmas in the new to us house, I have begun to get things out of the boxes and totes.I  am trying desperately to get a grip on this ADHDD thing and not go over board. I have so much I want to decorate now that we live in town. I never really did much outside before because we lived on a farm.The only people who would really enjoy it were my own kids and making them happy was easy. Now we have neighbors, and  they have begun to decorate outside, leaving me feeling behind in the decorating game. I can’t blame them, the weather was perfect last weekend and I wish I had spent some time trying to make things look festive but in the end we spent time with family instead. It was great too and I hope to write about it soon.

So as I write this I am just finishing up a batch of old fashion hard tack candy and bagging it up. Then putting up stockings and putting out my sons train under a tree. Holiday music is blasting and I cry every darn time I hear someone sing “Mary did You Know?” … something about Mary kissing  little Jesus’s face….. gets me every time.

Sugar covered table and Old Fashioned Hard Tack Candy

Sugar covered table and Old Fashioned Hard Tack Candy

I have three strings of out-door lights that need hung and an inflatable snoopy that needs placed in the yard. I have holiday cards to send out and three holiday parties to attend. I have groceries still to by and two wreaths to make. The silly thing is that in all of this mass of confusion, I am happy, more happy than I have been in years.The ADHDD has kicked in and I will be holiday buzzing for the next month.Maybe it is all the cookies and candy or the extra caffeine but I am feeling grand.

Christophers tree that needs help to finish and a table of trains

Christopher’s tree that needs help to finish and a table of trains

Then as if I did not know it was coming, it will be over, the holidays will end and I have to put it all back. New Years day will come with its lingering effects of staying up to late will make me tired and grumpy. Tom and I will sleep in and  little Christopher will crawl into our bed to snuggle as we say “Happy New Year” to each other. I will be sad, lingering under the covers to long, knowing that a the New Year has begone. I will worry about where to put everything that has arrived at our door over Christmas. I will drink a strong cup of tea in my P.J’s and start the long, slow process of undoing all my hard work in a matter of a day or two. I will miss the blue and white lights, the smell of cinnamon, and the taste of home-made cookies. I will carefully pack away each ornament and place the tree carefully back in its box. I will dust and vacuum up the silver glitter off the floor. The plates of cookies and candy will get tossed out. I will known in my sad heart that my disorder is restrained again for another year. Secretly, I think about my “New Year Resolution”. It will not have anything to do with weight or being more loving, but about taking it easy on the decorating next year. Praying that next holiday season my house will look perfect from beginning to end and Martha Stewart will stop by and be pleased with what I have done. That maybe she will share in my story of ADHDD and secretly nod to me her understanding.. because once many years ago she was a  decorating nut-bucket just like me.

Categories: About me, candy, Christmas, Home Decor, New Years Eve | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

Dreaming Reality

If Existence is a dream, let us dream perfection....

alifeofvanity.wordpress.com/

For anyone who has ever thought of attempting the #vanlife, A Life of VANity is an unfiltered, realistic look at the unglamorous day-to-day happenings of life in a Chevy G20 Conversion van. Unlike other #vanlife blogs, A Life of VANity is here to show you that it isn’t all roadtrips and ocean-side views, and that there’s nothing wrong with living in a backyard or two.

Beyond the Campfire

Stories of exploration

Thrifty Campers

Nature knows no such barriers

Missmackenzierose

Dream-Explore-Discover

Camellia's Cottage

Alabama Lifestyle Blog

Free to express

thoughts, experiences, travel, feelings, stories, diaries and many more...

Appalachian Housewife

The Mullens' Family's Journey Running The Pioneer Farm at Twin Falls State Park

Recipes by chefkreso

Cooking with imagination

Trish the Dish

Keeping Our Family's Bellies and Minds FULL.... One Dish at a Time

Barefoot with Braids ( or long hair hippy with attitude )

Left home, at Uni and finding out about me, what I like, what I don't, what I regret and what I love

Appalachian Histories & Mysteries

Exploring Appalachia's forgotten, neglected, and sometimes mysterious events.

Enchanted Forests

This Blog is about discovering the magic of forests in every aspect of life from a small plant in a metropolis to the forests themselves

Elkins Depot Welcome Center

The mountains beckon visitors to Elkins, a place where artists gather and history lives.

%d bloggers like this: