Buckhannon West Virginia

Being a Hellion for a Good Cause

As a teen I am sure that my Mother often thought I was a Hellion. I was a free spirit, with wild friends and an artist heart. I dressed in the fashion of the Punks and Goths, stayed out way to late and had to many boy-friends. I loved reading horror novels and watching dark movies. I never really caused much trouble and did not fail out of school. So most of the problems I caused were minor. Actually I ran with a pretty smart crowd, kids who were just the misfits of our high school. You know them, every school has them, the theater kids, the artists, the poets, the gays, the rebels and musicians. The ones who were creative and always looking for an outlet. So many of my Halloween’s were filled with parties and costumes. That all ended as I grew up, working most holidays and getting kids ready for their costume parties. That all ended last week, my 2017 Halloween was as full as any child’s and it was all for a good cause.

Cody Powers and Jolynn Powers head to Haunted River Walk 2017

Hellion and Insane Chainsaw Man ready to head to the Haunted River Walk 2017

I was recently asked to help with a fundraiser for my sons after school and summer program (Stockert Youth Center). I was happy to help out and even happier to find out that they were putting on a haunted house themed event. The Haunted River Walk was planned for the weekend before Halloween and I was asked to be a monster in the woods of the walking trail. It had been years since I had made a costume and years since I had taken my creative monster making skills out of the closet. This was going to be good.

test run of the Hellion with woody

Test run of the Hellion costume Elkins WV Down Town Trick or Treat 2017

So as a fan of old Hollywood monster movies, I knew that I wanted something that was more old school then resent horror films offered up as characters. So with a quick look through my closet and a trip to Party City, I came up with the Hellion. Not really the Devil himself and certainly not the naughty she-devil that young woman play but a beast with horns, claws and skin of red. Something that was possible to put together in a few days. So with a lot of hair spray and some top quality black lipstick and some body paint, I became for the first time in many years a creature of the night. The fun had just begun.

 

The Haunted River Walk took about two weeks of planing and a few hundred hours of donated time from the local city workers to pull together. Our location was part of a city park that needed dividing walls and crowd control methods installed. We needed volunteers for set up, makeup, scary monsters and ticket sales and late night clean up. So the call for volunteers brought together families, students from the local college, city workers and our Mayor.  All people who wanted to see our local non-profit after school program/ summer camp program, continue to supply the much-needed support that our children need and deserve.

 

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College girls ready help out

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asking the new volunteers into the meeting

 

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Planning our costumes

The planing meetings included settling on masks and costumes. We looked over the site, picked locations for the mazes, tents and places for scary monsters to hide. Each day the excitement in me grew,  I had never been the source of the scare in the haunted house before. I was always a willing victim in a haunted houses imaginary world. This would be my first time trying with all my heart to scare the crap out of people and I was not sure I could do it!!

The day came for setting up the trail, the tents were delivered on the backs of roll back trucks. Loads of scarecrows were staked out in what was a soccer field. Rubber body parts and  fake corpses were hidden and hung in trees. Strobe lights were located in the most important places and we all prayed for no rain.

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Real structure walls were delivered and placed at the beginning and end of the trail . Cody my son was placed at one to use as a backdrop.

That afternoon my older son Cody, joined me at my home, saying he was ready to volunteer too.  So with my daughter in law’s help, we spent a couple of hours putting together our makeup. We covered my son in his first ever, white make up and teased my hair and sprayed it high. Cody had volunteered to be the insane chain saw welding character. He brought along his chain less, real chain saw. He was willing to stay out late and help clean up, so I had a partner in the long night ahead. At about 5 pm  we were ready to head out the door and take our places in the woods for the first shift of scaring visitors.  The first two hours was for children, we were instructed to not be tooo scary.

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view of the trail and in the back ground The Woods

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Tote of body parts and dead animals

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Flo is that you? Evil Scarecrow

At our arrival I was informed that I was supposed to warn the children about a slippery bridge that I was guarding. I had not even thought about how my character would sound. I had thought about hissing, and growling but never the voice of this Hellion had. Somewhere in my imagination I found a voice much like a hissing witch to let the families know that the bridge was slippery. Within those two hours I had found my scaring style and timing. Scaring children is not hard but with groups of adults it is all about timing and it took some skill to hide well enough and let people get close enough to scare them without getting punched. There is always the risk that a guy will feel so threatened  that he would try to punch you.

The night grew darker and the rain started, I think all of us hid under whatever cover we could find. I wrapped my cloth shroud around me and stepped off the gravel path into the cover of the trees and underbrush and waited. I lowered my head and let the rain wash over me. I watched dark rain drops drip from the tips of my horns. Finally after a short break the adults and full families slowly worked their way through the tents, a field of old broken scarecrows and mutilated body parts to the woods.

Over the course of the night I found that I was able to do two scares from my location. I was placed at the left side of a bridge that had a black plastic divider down the middle. I had placed skull decorations and lights around the ground and would leap out off to the side of the decorations. Then when the visitors returned to cross the back side of the bridge, I would tuck myself up close to the black plastic hiding the horns. In the dark I was almost impossible to see. I would make this guttural scream and leap out at them again with arms raised high with the shroud flapping. This was a fantastic location as the trail turned a 90 degree turn away from me at the end of the bridge. People were often much more worried about making the turn and staying on the trail than looking for me. A distant light allowed me to see them coming yards before they were within reach, so I had time to plan my attack.

Taking the advice of  a friend, I took my time when I planned my scares.  He commented to me that most haunted houses frights always get the people in the front or back of the group, never the middle. So often times, I would wait for the one moment when the whole group was near by or just past me so I could scare the whole group. In one case the group was about 7 people who appeared to be one large family group. In the lead was a young preteen girl with her mother and maybe an aunt. Behind them was a grandma with a female friend walking behind a few paces. Following the older women were three men  most likely fathers and or husbands. Hiding in the folds of the black plastic fencing I waited. I knew how the group was moving through the park by my first passing with them. I knew, I wanted to scare not only the little girl but the older women if I could. So as the mother, daughter and aunt passed me, talking quietly to themselves, the older women crossed the bridge a few steps behind them. With a large clear plastic umbrella in hand they came slowly off the wooden bridge and took three steps towards me in the corner of the turn. From the darkness, all at once I screamed like a creature from the depths of Hell and leaped at them. The umbrella flew into the air backwards and all 4 sweater covered arms flew up wards. The women’s screams rang out in the darkness and I had achieved success. The two women broke out in uncontrollable laughter with huge grins.  I had frightened the two older woman so hard that they had to turn around to recover the lost umbrella from the ground.  The men behind were laughing out loud and congratulating me on a scare well done. In the dark one man said “good job someone finally got them”. My heart sang at his words. I felt that I had finally given over to the actor in my heart. A smiling Hellion returned to the black rain covered woods to wait  for the next group willing victims.

The night continued with groups of teens and college kids passing and backing away from the horned monster who I had become for the night. I tried to find better and better hiding places and often times laughed right along with the victims of my scares, but two other encounters stand out in my memories.  The first was an older man and woman in their 60’s who may have only come to the river walk to donate money to the youth center. They seemed like locals who did not seem the least bit frightened in the dark of the walking path. They passed me the first time with controlled interest but no real fright, but the second time they never saw me coming. The couple was on the second pass of the bridge and the husband was in front chattering away at the wife who trailed behind him a step or two. As they left the edge of the bridge instead of turning up and away from me, he continued to walk straight… towards me….. in the dark. He continued  looking back over his shoulder speaking to his wife not aware how close he was to a demon. As I watched in the dark his foot left the path and he stepped onto the soft forest floor. That was my cue, a second later I flew at him, hissing arms spread wide, horns aimed at him. He turned shocked, he let out the scream of a woman and jumped back into his laughing wife. The man had actually gotten scared in our little haunted river walk. The wife thank me over several times for scaring the old man, who was always so smug about his lack of fear. He left my portion of the trail beaming and giggling with his wife. It felt good to know that men scare just as well as women, you just need good timing.

But my favorite moment of the night and the reason I will return to the woods again next year if they need me, is the memory of a young family with two children. The older of the two was a girl who looked about 7 or 8 years old walking hand in hand with her lovely mother both dressed in matching rain coats. Following behind was a father, tall and bearded holding a small boy in a hooded coat maybe 3 or 4 years old. They had come to the adult portion of the haunted river walk and I had mixed feelings about my amount of effort to put into my scare. I knew they did not see me in the dark bushes as they just about passed me. I slowed my jump and hissed like a cat at the right arm of the father as they passed. The mother and daughter squealed and leaped forward several steps as I stopped next to the young boy in his fathers arms. The father froze… and stopped moving altogether, I stood behind them by then. When the father knew my fright was over he moved to join his wife and daughter who were ahead of him on the path. As he passed the little boy in his arm turned around to face me and over his father’s shoulder yelled out, ” YOU ARE A BUTTHOLE for scaring me and my Dad”. The family tried to quickly correct the boy by saying things like “You can’t say that! and”That is not nice!” but It was too late. I was not offended  at all. It was all that I could do to keep from rolling on the ground with laughter. That boy was mad at the monster and let me have it in his 4-year-old way.

The night ended early, the rain had poured down for 3 1/2 hours and the temps dropped to about 38 degrees. We were all soaked to the bone, even my son who was wearing heavy clothes and a hood was cold and wet. The group in the woods had gathered at the exit of the river walk where my son was charged with standing with his chain saw. We all agreed that the fun was over and the night was to cold and wet to continue. As if by magic a herd of monsters,  the insane and dead emerged from empty spaces in the woods. We walked under the rain and fog of the field lights like an army of the dead. 15 creatures of the night, carrying skulls, bodies, cauldrons, chain saws, headed to the main tent to begin the long night of finding warm, dry clothes and washing off face paint. It had been the most fun I had in years!

In the end Stockert Youth Center’s Haunted River Walk had 96 visitors, in the pouring rain and cold. We had 20 or more volunteers who worked that night in costumes, 3 city workers who set up and tore down the event and lots of fun. We raised around a thousand dollars in 3 hours for programming, healthy snacks and field trips for all the children who use the center. In my heart I know that this Hellion was a force for good. So many good things came from this event, so many smiles and giggles were shared, so many children will benefit and so many friends were made in the dark that night. I can only hope to be asked to dig out my monster making skills for next year.

Jacob's Ram skull .jpg

Jacobs Ram skull use as a prop at the Haunted River Walk

 

 

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Categories: AmeriCorps, Buckhannon West Virginia, Halloween, Haunted House, public art, Uncategorized, volunteering | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Man with a Passion for Glass

When meeting West Virginia native and glass artist Ron Hinkle you are talking with a craftsman who has spent a life time working in West Virginia glass. A man who is passionate about keeping the tradition alive and educating every one he comes in contact with about its importance to West Virginia history.glass tank with pipe close up

West Virginia was once known as the number one producer of tableware glass and crystal in the United States. Early in the 20th century, Fostoria glass company of Wheeling, West Virginia employed more than 900 workers, making it the largest glass tableware factory in the country.In addition to table wares, factories across the state produced plate-glass for windows, pressed glass bottles,jars and marbles.Fortunately for workers in West Virginia, the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company located one of its plants in Clarksburg in 1916, and the Libbey-Owens-Ford Company established a plant in Charleston in 1916, sustaining the industry in the Mountain State into the 1970’s.  Buy the mid 1950’s Louie Glass in Weston,West Virginia is said to have made over 50% of all the table wear glass in the United States. Even with reduced production caused by the importation  of cheep glass from Mexico and China some companies continue the tradition of hand blown glass in the state.Ron Hinkel in his glass blowing studio 2-17-17

Blenko Glass in Milton,West Virginia is known for its vivid colors of hand blown glass. The  historic business has faced many challenges in its 100 years of production. Ron says “The thing that makes them[Blenko Glass] endearing,is the same thing that makes them struggle.”So today Ron Hinkle works diligently as Vise President to make sure that the history and tradition of West Virginia glass continues into the future. With years of experience in every position in the factory, from bit boy to blower, Ron has a unique view of the factory glass business. His success as a glass artist within his home studio also brings the company a creative way of looking at its historic products.Together these skills work to keep blown glass alive in West Virginia.

blenko glass

vivid colors of Blenko glass over the years

Ron’s fascination for glass began at the age of twelve when he discovered the mysterious qualities of melted glass, melting glass tubes from a chemistry set over his mother’s kitchen stove. Following that interest Ron took a job at a local glass factory while in high school and continued to work  near by,in Weston at the Louie Glass for the following twenty years. Working every job in the factory, Ron learned a wide verity of skills and  soon was experimenting with art glass.Ron found making the intricate designs within paper weights  fascinating. With little money and over 4 years Ron personally built his own glass blowing studio,the holding tank and glass furnace. He refurbished tools and struck out on his own.Ron says,” never make choices that you can’t recover from.” Building and expanding  his art glass business slowly even when at times he was overwhelmed with orders.

Ron Hinkel spinning a dish of glass

Ron Hinkle spins a blue candy dish at his home studio in Buckhannon, WV.

Child's Vase 2

Beautiful examples of Ron’s Work available on his website Child’s Vase 

Ron Hinkle bottels

Small potion bottles available on-line at http://www.ronhinkleglass.com.  

 

The quality of the glass products that Ron creates has made his work collectible around the county and is available in 37 states and at times internationally. In 2005 the company changed names and simply became Ron Hinkle Glass. His work has appeared numerous times on the West Virginia’s Governor’s Christmas tree and the Christmas Peace Tree at the White House in Washington D.C. He is the creator of “While You Were Sleeping” a massive glass installation in the grand hall of the Culture of the WV State Capitol Complex that was then moved to its permanent home at the Archaeological  Complex at Moundsville, West Virginia. He has been written about extensively and gained many collectors over the years.Ron Hinkel display moundsville

Ron Hinkle represents what is best about West Virginia  Artists in so many ways. He is a man of faith that has taken a historic craft that at one time incorporated 474 factories in our state and brought it to the community in a new way. He took time to learn from past masters and kept our culture and history alive.He is currently passing those skills on to Aaron Harvey,studio assistant and co-worker at Blenko. He is a family man who is welcoming to every one he meets and he shares his passion with all of us.

Aaron Harvey assisting at Ron Hinkle glass

Arron Harvey learning about glass from Ron Hinkle at his home studio and newest employee at Blenko glass as designer of new products.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Art, Buckhannon West Virginia, gifts, Upshur County West Virginia, West Virginia artists | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

All things Strawberry, The Strawberry Festival 2016

So here in Buckhannon, West Virginia, every May we have a week-long festival dedicated to the Strawberry. At one time Strawberries in West Virginia were a large cash crop and it was great way to celebrate the spring. Now 75 years later…. there are less homegrown strawberries but the festival is larger than ever. This year Christopher was even part of three days of  the week-long festival events.

The spirit of the Strawberry Festival really found my family this year. Our excitement grew when Christopher became part of the Royal Court. He rode on the Strawberry Queen’s float with other 1st graders picked for this role from all the elementary schools in the county. He was also the King’s crown bearer for the coronation of the Queen. It was so much fun to see him in a tux being part of all the pageantry.

Christopher waiting backstage for the Coronation 75th Strawberry Queen 2016

Christopher waiting backstage for the Coronation 75th Strawberry Queen 2016

The week starts with the Coronation ceremony practice, with lots of photos and trips to the stage trying to get everything timed right before the afternoon Coronation event. Then there are 6 days of parades, live music events, strawberry food sales and outdoor activities like a 5k run and a canoe race down a local river.

The Strawberry Court waiting on the Queen to arrive

The Strawberry Court waiting on the Queen to arrive. Christopher is holding king’s crown 4th little boy to the left.

Strawberry Queen 2016

Strawberry Queen 2016

The following days are a blur,  4 parades, carnival rides, craft sales and lots of silly contest.

WVU's Mountaineer mascot takes time to walk in the parade

WVU’s Mountaineer Mascot takes time to walk in the parade

 

ROTC drill team passing Friendly Way during the Strawberry Festival

ROTC drill team passing Friendly Way during the Strawberry Festival

 

Christopher and friends riding the first of two floats for the Strawberry festival 2016

Christopher and friends riding the first of two floats for the Strawberry festival 2016

 

Mules pulling a mini pony express stagecoach

Mules pulling a mini pony express stagecoach

 

Sea of people at the Strawberry Festival Carnival 32016

Sea of people at the Strawberry Festival Carnival 2016

 

Chocolate drizzle funnel cake at the Strawberry Festival 2016

Chocolate drizzle funnel cake at the Strawberry Festival 2016

We ate lots of fair food, ice cream and strawberries over the course of the week and had a great time until my surgery interrupted the schedule of events. I was lucky to get to spend both nights watching Christopher pass by on his float ( Thursday and Saturday). I could only watch about an hour of the Grand Feature Parade,on Saturday before getting too tired from the surgery the day before.

As we headed home Thursday night ( the first of the parade nights). Tom and I both noticed that a 10 pm the carnival was still going strong and families walked the streets with stuffed toys and corn dogs on sticks. Friends stood in groups all along main street talking.Old men stood next to their classic cars in front of mains street restaurants talking while and wives eat ice cream in the front seat with the top down. Something seemed different  to me that night, it was like our childhood was happening all over again. It was the best feeling I have had in years. My  young son had somehow reminded me of what it was like to feel young again. We eat fair food and heard live music and walked back to the car long after dark under the street lamps. It was good to be part of the Strawberry Festival again!

Categories: Buckhannon West Virginia, carnival, Country life, Fairs and Festivals, family fun, Strawberry Festival, Upshur County West Virginia, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Rock Through Sickness and Health

If life is a river as Robert Redford narrates in his movie ” The River Runs Through It”…. then my husband is the river boulder that we all fly fish from.

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

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

As my life takes another unexpected turn I am so glad he is always so strong and steadfast.He is unmovable in his faith that we will get through any issue large or small. As I face another surgery, this one scheduled for Friday the 21st,to remove a cyst and ovary that have been causing me pain. I am so thankful to have someone to take over all the chores and child care for me. If all goes well you will be seeing several blog posts next week while I recover and try to catch up with all the stories I have been wanting to tell.

I did some traveling to my AmeriCorps Stakeholders meeting and that is a two-fold story. The first is about the work AmeriCorps is doing in that small town and the Second is about mummies… I know when you think of West Virginia you always include mummies, why wouldn’t you.

I also have a story about the 75th year of the city of Buckhannon’s Strawberry Festival where little Christopher is part of the minor court and is the crown holder for the king. He is so excited to ride on the official float in the Grand Parade.The fair lasts a week and we will get to take part in a lot of the events.Cute kid photos are on the way and fair food photos will be in the post for my friend Dan at No Facilities.

I have also wanted to write about the house and the bee projects and  how this surgery is derailing both of them. I am not sure if the bee project will gain ground this year and the door should be ordered next month if nothing else goes wrong.We finally got a quote that we feel comfortable with and a door that we both like!

Christopher Power and Kaylee Hall leaving coronation of Strawberry Queen 2016

Christopher Powers and Kaylee Hall leaving the Strawberry Queens Coronation 2016

It has been a long year for the whole family, both Tom and I having surgery and Christopher needing to have a tooth removed have sidetracked just about everything I had planned for spring. The only thing that is going the way I planned is the garden. I hope get a chance to write about the newest addition “Garlic” soon. It is already doing well this year in an old flower bed that was amended with all natural Bunny Poop.

So now everyone is up to date and I have many more stories to write over the next couple of weeks. So if you get tired of hearing from me the next two weeks,forgive me.  I will be back to my one blog post a week as soon as I return to work and get on my feet again.

As always thanks for stopping in it is always fun to share my stories with all of you,

Mountain MaMa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: AmeriCorps, Beekeeping, Buckhannon West Virginia, Bunny, Christopher, DIY projects, Fairs and Festivals, Healing, Marriage, sickness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Legend of the Dogwood Tree, Spring in the Hollow

Like so many things in Appalachia, legends surround almost everything and many are held as truths still today. One of my favorite folktales told over and over in West Virginia is the Legend of the Dogwood Tree.  (This is a wonderful copy of the poem that tells the story)

Dogwood blooms in Buckhannon, WV

Dogwood blooms in Buckhannon, WV

As the story was told to me over two decades ago… Jesus was nailed to a large wooden cross made from Dogwood timber and as he died he blessed the tree because of it sorrow for its master’s death. The blessing held that the tree would never again grow straight or tall enough to be used for a  crucifixion cross again.  The flowers would be a symbol of his life, death and resurrection, to everyone who looked on them. With the white blooms standing for Christ and the red tinged edges being the symbol of his blood. The petals of the flower would shape a cross with two long arms and two short and the center in gold is the crown of thorns that he worn on that day.The notched edges of each petal are a reminder of the nails the held him on the cross and each spring we are reminded of his being raised from the dead when the Dogwood blooms again.

So is the story true? No, not really. The evidence pretty well shows that the story is just a tall tale. Do the people of the mountains and hollows still look forward to seeing the Dogwoods bloom every spring… and do they remember this story, Of course!

Dogwood berries ready for winter

Dogwood berries ready for winter in our back yard

The legend moved me so much when we lived on the farm, that while my neighbor was clearing the fence line between our two properties, I stopped my car along the road where he worked. I asked  the older man “please not cut down the young dogwood tree”. I shared the legend  with him while he looked on in amazement and put down his saw. For the following 10 years that same farmer never cut down the dogwood tree that stands in our shared fence row. At that moment I understood for the first time the power of the circuit ministers of the 1800’s in Appalachia. They must have had a lot of time to think when they rode these hills and hollows. They needed ways of reaching people so that they could understand the ideas of crucifixion, resurrection, sacrifice, forgiveness and love. So they used nature as a teaching tool(just like most folktales) to keep a story alive in a way that everyone could understand.

This tail is still heard in churches and at picnics here West Virginia. In spring as the forest slowly returns to life, it is the dogwoods blooms that remind me to tell this story again to another generation. So that my children will one day will share the story that holds many in these mountain hollows together.

Dogwood tree from Wikimedia commons

Dogwood tree from Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Buckhannon West Virginia, Church, Country life, Folk tails, spring | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

I am Thankful for Pumpkin Pie!

I know, I am late…. Thanksgiving day is usually a very quite and reflective time for me. The boys hunt and I cook and everyone gets together for dinner around 5:30 and we spend the rest of the evening watching the little ones play and  talk shop. So I usually have the day to myself, and Tom the turkey, but some how this year it just did not happen. One reason was the new bread maker that I received as a birthday present earlier this month.  I will be posting what I made yesterday once I have mastered ” dinner rolls”  they tasted great but looked a little funny.

So, like most people I just ran out of time to share that I am thankful for Pumpkin Pie. 

Yes, I know it sounds a little childish but pumpkin pie is really what I was thankful for this year and I will tell you why.

It all started with a my husband Tom… He really is my hero in life and on my Barnwood Builder episode. He helped me till a small garden at the other house that we were living in last summer. In that garden Tom and Christopher help me plant 3 pumpkin seeds. From those seeds grew 13 pumpkins, I think, if I can remember correctly.

Wagon full of sliver moon pumpkins 2014

Wagon full of sliver moon pumpkins 2014

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

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

Then after a long summer I was so thankful that Cody my older son and my granddaughter Paige and daughter-in-law Jamie were able to come help us harvest everything in the garden including the pumpkins. It took hours to bring in everything that grow well that year. We had sweet potatoes to dig, pumpkins to pull and tomatoes and peppers every where. The baskets were full,the wagon was full and I had a lot of work getting these pumpkins ready to eat.

Home grown white pumpkin carved for Halloween 2014

Home grown white pumpkin carved for Halloween 2014

I aged the pumpkins in the cool of our porch until Halloween came. I had my foot surgery just days before Halloween and I was off my feet when the holiday rolled in.  Again Tom help me out with the most important Halloween tradition of  carving at least one of our pumpkins.  Christopher and Tom spent one evening craving a couple of pumpkins and decorating the porch with them. I was so Thankful to see them and see the smiling face on my little Christopher’s face when he lighted them up.

bowel of pumpkin pie filling made in 2014

bowel of pumpkin pie filling made in 2014

From the rest of the pumpkins I made pie filling. So in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving I cooked and canned most of those pumpkins. The house smelled wonderful for days as I roasted on the first day and pureed the next. Finally I cooked and added spices to the mixture and put it in the jars with love. Thankful that Christopher had a school to go to and Tom had a job to work at, as the huge mess in my kitchen grew. 2 days and 6 hours later the jars sealed and I have jars of home-made pumpkin pie filling.

New House in Buckhannon, WV

New House in Buckhannon, WV

Then after moving our family over the long cold winter,we  stared working on the house.  I am so thankful for our new home. This was my first Thanksgiving in my new to me kitchen and the first time I drug out the good dishes and glasses in years. It was a wonderful reason to take out a jar of that pumpkin pie filling and make a pie to celebrate.

home made pies pumpkin and mock mincemeat

home-made pies pumpkin and mock mincemeat

Finally, I am thankful for every person who sat at my table, for every opportunity I have to spend time with them. I am thankful for those who are missing this year and the ones that are in heaven. I am thankful for the money to buy the meal we ate and most of all I am thankful for pumpkins and pies.

4 generations of the Powers family together for Tom birthday 2014

4 generations of the Powers family together for Tom birthday 2014.

Categories: Buckhannon West Virginia, canning, Christopher, Cody, Country life, foot surgery, gardening, Paige, pumkin puree', pumpkin, pumpkins, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

This Sunday is the Airing of My Barnwood Builder Episode.

Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham

Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham

 

I am sorry that I did not share this information sooner, but here is your reminder. Sunday night on the DIY network at 9:00 pm will be the airing of my episode of our family room remodel. It has been a very long and very busy year. As some may already know we lost Grandma Powers to Cancer on Sunday( Oct 25 2015). Making a long story short the funeral was yesterday and we are moving Grandma out of her apartment today and I am sick… So I plan to enjoy a weekend of rest and relaxation. I have even given up the idea of taking Christopher Trick or Treating myself and plan to let his older brother Cody and his wife have all the fun this year. I just hope to not sleep through the episode and hope you all enjoy the story.

Mark Bowe hanging in the living room after shooting with the Barnwood builders

Mark Bowe hanging in the living room after shooting with the Barnwood builders

Categories: Barns, Barnwood, Barnwood Builders, Buckhannon West Virginia, DIY, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, Lewis County | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Completed DIY Network Project and Last Visit with The BarnWood Builders

So today I think I am a little sad, the project is complete and the Barnwood Builders on the DIY Network have driven off to another barn or cabin. The Barnwood Builders shared something with me and my family that I can not easily explain, it is a gift of course, a new family room, but it is something more also. It is when kindred spirits come together things get magical and create some thing better than if we were doing things alone. My family room would not have been half as beautiful without the lumber the we received from that old barn. Their show needed a willing and able family to take  truck loads of old lumber and make it into something. My blog would have never gotten the recognition it has without them finding me in cyber space. I would have never learned so much about the way TV production works and is filmed. Mark would have never put a shoe on a horse if it was not for people who deep down love West Virginia and the beautiful life this state has given us.

Barn in the Valley at Kenchelo road, Jane Lew< West Virginia

“MY” Barn in the Valley at Kenchelo road, Jane Lew,West Virginia

I have never in my life worked with a better group of people, the respect that is given to each person on the set from the littlest.. ( Christopher) to the Assistants, Caterers, and barn or cabin owners, to Tom or I and the real stars of the show is higher and deeper then I have ever seen at any place I have ever worked. The amount of team work these people have to put into creating a one hour show is hard to understand and they do it day in and day out.

Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham

Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham

It took almost three days to film the demo of my old barn and Toms farrier segment (it’s not mine by ownership but mine in my heart). It took three more days to film my house and cut in clips of landscapes and animals. Then 4 or 5  weeks of planing and travel ( We joined the band wagon a month before shooting started). Now 6 weeks to edit this one show and do voice overs and graphics before this show will air. All for a one hour on the DIY network. What an amazing experience, I am still in disbelieve that It all happened … it was a dream right?

Travis director of photography setting up on last day of filming

Travis director of photography  with his assistant (back to you)setting up on last day of filming

I am a fan of Mark Bowe for his love of this State, its people and its rich history. It is his vision that I share and will continue to pour into my blog. So that maybe one day people outside our hollers will see that we are not trapped in the past or unlucky.That we have made a choice to slow our lives to remember our past and see the beauty that is our countries rich history. With out our past we have no future and it takes time to build a solid foundation to live on. ( Notice: West Virginia was barely impacted with the housing crisis or the recession that followed something to think about as most states finances are in the red while West Virginia is financially stable.)

Mark Bowe hanging in the living room after shooting with the Barnwood builders

Mark Bowe hanging in the living room after shooting with the Barnwood builders

On the last day of filming our house Sean Mc Court(the executive producer), Travis( head Photographer) and his assistant arrived about an hour before Mark Bow to set up lights to make the room bright and homey. Well nothing ever goes as planed and the lights that Sean rented were really no help for us and Travis worked hard to get as much natural light in the room as possible. I still think you will see in the final cut that the room looks dark …… like well the inside of a barn… kinda hard to get past that.

Christopher look out on the light bounce screen

Christopher look out on the light bounce screen

 Mark was happy to hear all the stories of our home in a way that I have not seen any other episode. I have no idea what ones will be in the show but I am pretty sure you will see my art work, the Mason jar Chandelier ( how we made it here), Toms Elk and lots of neat things we took from the barn to decorate with. Travis even took closes ups of my family photos and bear skin rug. It is strange to tell my family stories in front of a camera, the tail of packing out our Elk and getting it mounted by an oral surgeon not a taxidermist, the print that my brother made from a lake not but a block from my mother’s house in Longmont, Co. and the story of Toms grandfathers 28 point buck photo are pieces of my family that I just shared with america and the world… strange feeling really.

The show works unscripted and is a very open to the nature of the people and places they are working with. The weather and moods of the cast and”guests” is real more real than you can imagine. The producers gave me a general over view of what they wanted us to cover in the show…  new floors, walls, the DIY chandelier, and my art work. Then turned to Mark and said “we will shoot this in reverse order and will shoot from this door way”. That is all the direction we got… seriously I just followed along…. if he asked a question or pointed any thing out I just told the story that I have been telling everyone for the last 5 months. Then we moved out side for the “Greeting” portion of the shoot… yea a little strange but this made it easier for the lighting set up and is the only acting my family did…. Christopher was a ham and Tom was nervous  and I thought it was all funny.We had to film the greeting three times over to get all the information into the shot that Sean needed us to say or to keep hammy Christopher from blowing the high-five that he gives Mark.

Then they filmed Mark giving us our gift and I get to finally see the photo present that they made for me. For a photography nut this was the very best gift I could have been given. I know the story behind the photo, the location, and the photographer and am so happy they got some blue sky in the photo. All I remember about that morning was cold and rain… It now looks lovely in my country kitchen and will be a treasured gift for the rest of my life.

Photo of my barn portrait gift from Mark Bowe

Photo of my barn portrait gift from Mark Bowe

 

Barn wood about finished on wall with windows

Barn wood about finished on wall with windows

Just like these treasured photos of the work we did and the time we spent together to make this all happen. It has been worth every moment of rain or mud, every long day of hanging wood boards in a 90 degree family room and hours of time on our knees with tile and grout. I think Tom, Cody and I logged 70 hours on the floor twice that of the walls.

drying slate tiles

drying slate tiles

Cody Power stripping old floor tiles

Cody Power stripping old floor tiles

Family room from the laundry room door

Family room from the laundry room door

Some how it all come together and is better than any thing I could have imagined. We now have a family room my family is proud of! Thank you to the cast and crew of the Barnwood Builders…. I cant wait to see episode# 5 of the new season that starts Oct 2015. I may just have a viewing Party with my family and friends in November when my show airs… who’s up for popcorn?

finished family room from laundry room

finished family room from laundry room with Jinn.

Categories: Barnwood, Barnwood Builders, Buckhannon West Virginia, family memories, Home Decor, home improvement, Mason Jars, slate tile | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Fighting All My Fears with Karate.

It may seem a little odd for ( to quote my son) ” for an earth muffin hippy wanna be” to go find my health both mentally and physically in the art of Shotokan Karate. I know that on the surface my  lifestyle seems to have no connections to my current studies of Marital Arts. Well lets just talk about all this for a minute. If you have been following along for any length of time you should know that I had foot surgery last year and quit my physically active job when my beloved mother in law came to stay with us after her surgery and radiation treatment for throat cancer.

Well after the 13 months in an air cast and 6 months at home I had lost a lot of physical strength,tone and balance.  I gained a lot of weight somewhere in the area of 40 pounds. I hear that this is totally normal for some one who has to sit down and rest as part of the recovery process. But I was not going to go back to work any time soon and my foot was now with out a bone. That little bone meant that I was not running. jumping or doing aerobics any time in the future. But the Dr did say that I could do exercise that was less stressful to my feet like walking, bike riding, swimming, yoga and most of the Marital Arts. The key here is “Most”, Shotokan is not really on the list of gentle activities. So after getting back on my treadmill and not really loving it, I was lucky to met Larry a 5th degree black belt in Shotokan. After a very long talk and a beautiful smile Larry said that I was perfect for Karate and that my age (46 is a little old to start Karate) and foot would not be a problem at all. The conversation in my head argued with him for a while with everything we always say to our selves,”I am to old, I am in terrible shape, I may get hurt, I am not good at this”. Then after a few minutes, I thought to myself with a deep breath “so who are you going to trust in this life a 68-year-old black belt who does this every week or your Fear. I put my hope and trust in Larry and started a new journey that following week.

Karate image used with permission

Karate image used with permission

I am not usually a fearful person, I am not shy and I am alright with making a fool of myself. So no need for fear as the new student in class but I was and still am on some days. I have in the past been physically assaulted, I have been a victim of  domestic violence ( not from my current husband but my first) and intimidation. I do not like men to touch me and I certainly do not like the thought of fighting them. The class is full of large male strangers and strange men mean that I get a little unsettled. To become a Karate student I would at some point have to face all of these men in an active aggressive way and fight with them. This was harder than just showing up for a work out. This was training for my mental strength and my emotional strength too.  Facing them in sparing is still unnerving and will be for a long time. I have not totally fallen apart yet but I am sure at some point I will. The best part is that it is a safe place to fall apart, I have nothing but support in my Dojo.

Most people generally understand the amount of time and energy getting physical fit takes, it is a part of a process. Some people want to lose weight to look good for the appeal from the outside world and that is fine. Some want to get fit for the health benefits (me included). But Karate is about strength, not so much about fitness. Strength of mind, body and spirit. Fitness is a huge part of the training but it not the end result that we trying to achieve. It is a place to push your limitations to the edge and find that the limitation has moved and you are stronger and have new limitations. Some things in this life I can not change, my age for example, or my sex or some physical limitations, but just about every other thing is under my control to change. If I am fat I can eat less, if I am sad I can doing something to make myself feel better, If I am weak I can work out to gain more strength. If I am frightened  I can discover what it is that is making me scared and face it. This is my journey to strengthen everything about myself… my body, my mind and my spirit.

sprititual practice image used with permission

spiritual practice image used with permission

I hope that with the help of my new training I will be better able to face what is coming in the future of our families life. That as the sun is setting on one life that I will be better prepared to face the future of my life with out my best friend and mother in law. That in the future I am tempered by fire, hardened and strong when I need it most. That my Karate student life will continue and I will be able to have another year of breaking my own barriers.

In the immortal words of band the Eagles from the song: Already Gone…

Well I know it wasn’t you who held me down,

Heaven knows it wasn’t you who set me free,

So often it happens that we live our lives in chains,

and we never even know we have the keys,

:chorus:

And I am already gone,

And I am feeling strong,

I will sing this victory song… Whooo.hoo,hoo, whoo,hoo,hoo!

Jolynn Powers with Gi top 1st Kata

Jolynn Powers with Gi top 1st Kata

Categories: Buckhannon West Virginia, foot surgery, friends, Healing, health, hobbies, Karate, wellness | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What I Saw on The Way to The Grocery Store.

I know most people do not get excited to go grocery shopping, but every once in a while I just enjoy driving the back roads to shop at a little tiny grocery store in the country. I stop at this store for a lot reasons, one is they have a ten pound meat sale every month and they still cut their our own meat. I know that sounds like a silly reason but when you get tired of buying Wal-Mart and Kroger prepackaged meats and start thinking about butcher controlled quality and quantity it is a big deal. So I drive out of my way ( 18 miles) to a family owned I.G.A. in the middle the woods in a town called Rock Cave. But my trip was a little more beautiful today then normal. The sun was out and the fresh fallen snow was beautiful so I took the my camera along for the ride.

I headed off with an idea of taking a new self-portrait  for the “About Me” portion of the blog and getting a load of groceries. What I did not expect was to take an hour chore and 36 mile drive into a 5 hour 80 mile photo adventure that included shopping and meeting some wonderful strangers along the way.  Who knew that I would see so many beautiful things on my way to the grocery.

As I left Buckhannon I stopped at a local church to enjoy the snow-covered cemetery yard. Some thing about a church with a cemetery just speaks to me.

Reger United Methodist Church Buckhannon. WV

Reger United Methodist Church Buckhannon. WV

Then through French Creek to a huge southern home with hay roles in the front yard. You know you are liven in the county when you bail the front yard.

French Creek house with hay bales  fadeout

French Creek house with hay bales fade-out

Then to Rock Cave to see a house that a friend of mine said they were tearing down. The cabin for years had white vinyl siding and today I finally got to see what was underneath.

Log cabin along Rt#4 Rock Cave, West Virginia

Log cabin along Rt#4 Rock Cave, West Virginia

The temperature was running about 15 to 18 degrees as I stopped at every interesting place along my journey. So it was fast shooting and trying desperately to keep my digital camera working in the cold.

full front view of cabin on rt#4 Rock Cave, West Virginia

full front view of cabin on rt#4 Rock Cave, West Virginia

After filling my hatch back full of staples and meat at the I.G.A. I then drove down the road to a wonderful cattle barn. Not as old as the cabin above but just as wonderful. I thought sepia would make the barn more interesting.

Cattle Barn in Walkers Vill, West Virginia tinted to look old

Cattle Barn in Walkersvill, West Virginia tinted to look old

Then off to Napier an unincorporated town where frozen water falls formed along the rock walls everywhere.

Rusty Ice along the road

Rusty Ice along the road Napier. WV

Water falling on icy rocks at Napier. WV

Water falling on icy rocks at Napier. WV

Then finally to where I thought I might get a nice portrait for the blog. I wondered around Falls Mills Park for a while just looking at the water and the beautiful snow before trying to get this photo. I took several shots to get this one but in the end I think I got some thing I can use.

Self Portrait of JoLynn Powers at Falls Mills, Braxton County. West Virginia

Self Portrait of JoLynn Powers at Falls Mills, Braxton County. West Virginia

Lovely how the fresh snow makes the water look such a beautiful color.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

I drove on further from home and ended my journey at Heaters, and Flatwoods, West Virginia about 46 miles from my home one way. Here I found a lovely house that I would say is the typical farm-house of West Virginia. Built during the 20’s and 30’s there are thousands of these homes hiding in our hills. This one is also has a working cellar in the back. I love old stone construction so I had to get a photo of it too!

Farm house at Heaters WV

Farm house at Heaters WV

 

root cellar behind house in Heaters West Virginia

root cellar behind house in Heaters West Virginia

Finally I reached the interstate junction and thought I better eat and head home from my grocery trip. It had taken almost all day to explore a long winding road and the things along it . I finally stopped to get a hamburger and fries when I discovered on the way back to my parking place that a Crow had taken up a resting spot next to my car. I think he was wondering why I did not have anything to offer him.

crow in snow

crow in snow

I hit the highway and headed home thinking about my car full of goodies and great day spent really looking at the wonders of where I live.

I am going to keep trying to do photo projects like these in the future. I just need to learn to slow down and see all the wonders around me.

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Braxton County, Buckhannon West Virginia, photo review, snow, traveling, West Virginia, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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