Posts Tagged With: friendship

Sights from the Mountain; A Look Back at 2016

So to keep from bitching about how disappointing 2016 was from my point of view and keeping my mind off another medical procedure I am planing to have this week. I wanted to lighten up and share what good things did happen in 2016 and skip my reasons to complain and just share my Joy for life, Friends, Family and Creativity.

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Tom sanding floors of Christopher’s bedroom 2016

 

finished Master Bedroom with new bed and paint

My finished Master Bedroom with new bed and paint

One of the few things I did actually accomplish after Tom and I both spent the spring recovering from surgeries was redoing two bedrooms.This is the first time Tom or I had re-finished hardwood floors and learned tons and will be doing more of the house over the next couple of years. The biggest think I learned was sometime imperfect conditions lead you to perfect resolutions. The floor in Christopher’s room had several places with water damage and some were very dark.  We learned from Dan Antion a fellow blogger at “No Facilities blog” how to lighten them without having to actually remove the damaged sections if they were not rotted.I also learned, more about polyurethane then I ever hoped too this year between this project and the following one.

I poured my heat and soul into a public art project with my AmeriCorps site in Elkins, West Virginia. I helped to plan, paint and install three large 8 X 8 foot quilt block panels on downtown city buildings. It was some of the most fun I have had in years. Not only did I get to work with a great groups of volunteers I got to spend time doing art in a way that I never imagined.That Art degree finally paid off and my mom is so proud.

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“Maple Leaf” installed on the side of the YMCA in Elkins WV

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installed “West Virginia Star” on wall of Davis trust company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Log Cabin” installed on back of the YMCA Elkins WV 2016

The summer was full of time out side whether we were working, traveling or just trying to spend time together as a family. For that I am really thankful and we were able to see some wonderful places that were new to my family this year. One of my favorite hobbies is hunting mushrooms and I think I missed all of the best foraging days this year but was able to find and photograph several that I had not seen before. This photo is from the Monongahela National Forest.

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I got to beat the summer heat at Cannan Valley Ski resort with some of the wonderful co-workers. Picking wild blue berries for a work Team Meeting was one of the most refreshing trips outside I made all year. We rode the ski lift up the mountain, hiked out to a point and sat on rocks over looking  a valley where we ate the berries we had picked. I will never look at work meetings the same again.

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summer wild blueberry picking team meeting July 2016

We ended summer with a trip deep into the mountains of West Virginia with a trip to Green Bank and Cass State Park. In all the years that we have traveled the state I think the trip to Cass is on my top five places to see in West Virginia. The train, the town, the hiking and river all combine to make this a must see place.

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Scenic over look at the top of Spruce Knob by way of Cass Scenic Rail Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then fall arrived and my friends and family descended on our house for almost the entire month of Oct we spent time with people that we had not seen in years. First my brother came for a week to visit. We spent time sight-seeing, eating and drinking are way across the state.

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The Powers family with brother Bill Lowrey at the Mystery Hole just West of Hawks Net State Park, West Virginia

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Road side view of the Mystery Hole Rt#40 near Hawks Nest  State Park,WV

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Mystery Hole front doors… We needed to see what was in that Hole!

After a morning at Bridge Day in Fayetteville West Virginia everyone traveled the next 16 miles to the town of Ansted  to see the World Famous Mystery Hole. One of the most silly and fun road side attractions in the state. This place is something you just can’t really explain unless you have been there. The fun part is trying to explain how they do what they do in the Mystery Hole and joke about what drug induced night mare inspired its construction.

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Street side view of the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Oct 2016

Then a life long friend and Haunted House expert Alex came to visit for my birthday and Halloween. It had been years since we got together and it was the perfect time to take him sight-seeing at West Virginia’s most haunted location, the Trans  Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and Haunted House. We had a great time on the VIP tour and got to see every floor of the old mental hospital and take hundreds of photos.We laughed and screamed inside their annual haunted house and spent time taking classic old building photos around the surrounding counties.

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A Beautiful Mess in a Plaster Repair room second floor of the TALA.

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Alex Smits taking photos inside the TALA. This room is supposed to be haunted by a little girl named Lilly who will play with the toys.

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Long corridors along the third floor of the TALA. This is floor was used for farm workers.

Then we also added the most time-consuming project of the year! Doc takes up almost all of my free time with his walking and play times. He is not the dog for everyone but perfect for my family.

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“Doc” Holiday our sleepy puppy at about 3 months old

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“Doc” trying to share a chair with Tom at 5 months old… getting sooo big.

 

“Doc” has been a very active and funny part of our year and If I can just survive the next year with him,he will make a wonderful friend for many years to come. As of today he is 6 months old and weighs about 48 pounds. Full grown he should be about 60 pounds. He is the reason I get out walking every morning and the reason all the neighbors now know me as the lady with the big red dog. Doc will start some  kind of training in just a few months. I hope to see if he is able to be used as a search and rescue  dog for our local county. Time will tell if he is going to help find lost hikers and children in the mountains of West Virginia or of if he is just going eat everything insight and keep Christopher company on our trips planned for next year. I will let you know!

It was a long year in many ways. Health issues were my main topic of worry this year and some seem better while others seem to just keep me from enjoying my life as much as I would like too. So here is to a healthier 2017! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: "Doc" Holiday, Bridge Day, Cannan Valley Ski Resort, DIY projects, family fun, ghosts, hiking, Monongahela National Forest, mushroom hunting, Mystery Hole, New Years Eve, photo review, Photos, puppy, Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Travel, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Snowy Farm Mornings With The Mares

The one thing that I still miss about the farm is the silent snowy mornings. Moving to town has its advantages in snowy weather… streets get cleared a lot faster and the grocery is a lot closer but something is just not the same, let me explain.

My horses on in the top pasture on a snowy morning.

My horses in the top pasture on a snowy morning.

When you own livestock you never get a snow day. So the mornings for me always started early even in the cold. I would get up early, like all farm families do, so I could get the feeding done before work and school would take the day.

Dressed in my coveralls, hat, and gloves, I head out of the back door of the farm-house. I cross the back porch and hear the first crunch of the snow on a step. Walking my way to the barn across the yard I look for them but can not see them in the top pasture. Even though the barn doors are always open the herd of four quarter horse were never in the barn until feeding time.

Even if they heard me tracking slowly through the snow they never moved. They stand at the farthest point away from the barn on the top of the hill. I holler at the top of my lungs”Here Girls!” and get no response. Just the quite… no cars or trucks, no snow plows (sometimes for days), no other person for miles was outside on a 12 degree morning. I reluctantly fill the feed buckets with two heaping scoops of sweet-smelling grain. I Complain to myself about walking up the bank into the pasture to looking for them.

You do it to make sure that everything is alright if they do not come in. Horses trapped in fences, cases of colic and babies born in the open all happen when humans are not looking. Today was not going to be one of those days. I open the gate with the frozen chain and hear it bang as I swing it through the snow and across the frozen ground and into the pasture. The hill blocks my view. No knickers or neigh for me to hear from the group, just my snow boots crunching up the slope to the orchard trees.

Annabell in snow at the farm in Jane Lew

Annabell in snow at the farm in Jane Lew,West Virginia.

Past the orchard trees, I finally see the huddled mares in the upper corner of the field. Snow only ankle-deep and they still do not want to move. “Come on Girls!” I yell again, this is ridiculous I think as the wind blows the quiet snow in my eyes.  I give in and walk to top of the hill and discover I am out of breath and breathing hard. The steam I blow matches the clouds that surrounds them. They breath in and out almost in time and the moisture from the four 800 pound bodies rises into the air. They see me and two heads turn as I finally come close enough to actually touch the snow-covered beasts.

Their winter coats are such good insulation against the cold that snow flakes dance on top of the longest hairs of each animal. Icicles form on the whiskers of each damp muzzle and each wet eye lash. The mares do seem to mind the cold and seem more at home in the winter snow.

Daisy with skippy in snow

Daisy with Skippy in the snow on the Jane Lew farm.

For the small herd, standing and sleeping is more comfortable than slipping down the hill to the barn. I can’t blame them, they have stood together most of the night and have melted some of the snow on the ground . I sneak up close to the oldest mare and slide my gloved hand across her back and talk softly and she murmurs back to me. I get close and feel the warmth of her 100 degree body against me. Warmth and friendship, could life get better for her?

The others push closer to me, nose to nose, they breathe me in and I, them. The smell of the mare’s breath and coats is warm, round and deep. It is the smell of the summer dirt, fresh-cut hay and dark warm stalls.They smell of old barns and fresh shavings,of carrots and cookies, of sunshine and creek water. I kiss each nostril in turn.

Hidden in my coat pocket is a lead rope that I slide around the old mare’s neck. I clip it under her chin… more imagination than rope. I lead her and she willingly follows me down. The younger horses gallop back and forth across the field, bounding, bouncing, jumping and twisting.

Horses Playing in the snow

Horses Playing in the snow

Play time for the young and feed time for the old. I walk her through the gate to the barn, each following her lead without a fight. Her head lowers into the bucket and she blows out the air in her lungs as if to sigh. The rattle of those buckets is the only sound for miles. The sun rises to the shifting sounds in my barn. I toss hay into each stall as the last of the gain gets lipped out of old buckets.

My chore is almost done. The water is thawed and waiting when they finish their meal. The gate is locked up tight. I am alone again in my walk back across the large yard. My cheeks are cold and frosty but my heart is warm. I think to myself…. “Love You Girls” as I hear the squeaky snow under my boot.

 

Categories: Country life, Farm work, Friendship, Horses, Jane Lew, Memories, snow, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Concentric Circles of Life and Death

Well it should come as no surprise that things here on the mountain are changing again. The spiritual head of our family is making the slow transition from the world of the here and now to the land of forever. It is a shaking off of the old skin and the trying on of the new freedom of the spirit that we are watching. It is emotionally stretching everyone in the family to the limit. This transition into the concentric circles of life and death, where there is no beginning or end.twirl-bluegrey-web The cancer has moved to the bones and a hip fracture has made her bedridden. So with other complications to her overall health the Dr’s know that she will not recover. The body worn out and now only a cocoon for the vibrant, fiery, giving, helpful, spirit that is still very much alive. It is a slow and often painful process to see the soul finally be released from the body. Yet, as amazing to watching as a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. This experience has only one drawback, this butterfly will one day fly off with out me……

There is no time line of events. It is day by day, hour by hour,breath by breath. It is ups and downs and moments of clarity and others of total delusion. The pain comes, then the drugs, then the weakening of the vale between the worlds. She talks with those she loves who have departed, she sees them and knows they are close. The chorus of angels then fades and the drugs wear off, she is with us, clear, focused and even agitated with us. She is happy to see the men of faith that come to pray with her. They remind her that it is only for a little while and she will be healed. Healed and free from pain…. free from being trapped in a broken body…….. Ahhhh the final release.

She is my best friend, she is my spiritual rock, and the cancer is taking her away from me. I find some comfort in the words of the great writers, thinkers and spiritual believers.For generations we have survived this awkward step in understanding and some have left words for us to fallow.This is just one of many quotes that I have found some comfort in:

“The Prophet” by   Kahlil Gibran

from the section on friendship,

“And let your best be for your friend.”

“If he must know the ebb of your tide,

let him know its flood also.”

“For what is your friend that you should

seek him with hours to kill?

“Seek him always with hours to live”

“For it is his to fill your need, but not

your emptiness.”

“And in the sweetness of friendship let

there be laughter,and sharing of pleasures.”

“For in the dew of little things the heart

finds its morning and is refreshed.”

 

Our relationship has always been more than “married into the family” we have always been friends. So as I finish this post I am waiting on word that she is released from the hospital to go home. To spend her final days in the place she feels most comfortable and safe. I will sit with her when she settles in and read to her while the hours pass. So I can share the last few days or months that we have together, before she flies away.

Butterfly at Holy River State Park, WV

Butterfly at Holy River State Park, WV

Categories: Cancer, Death, Family, family health, Friendship, grandma, poem | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

True Love is always found over Pie: My recipe for True Love Apple Pie

close up a green apples

close up a green apples

Every time I make apple pie I remember how just one slice changed everything between Tom and I. It was  Thanksgiving day in Baumholder West Germany ( at the time they were still East and West) my first holiday away from home and on an Army Base. A couple of us girls with off Post housing thought we would make dinner for our friends who were either single or home alone while their husbands were out in the field or doing other assignments.The food and company had to be better than dinner at the Mess Hall so the plans were set. We were a loose bunch of friends from the 363rd mechanized unit. Some were Gunners, Recovery Specialist, Mechanics, Tankers, Mortar Men, Radio Controllers, but  most of all, we were part of the United States Army family.We were brought together from all over the country. We had friends from small towns and big cities, from the green east to the sunny west from the cold north to the deep south. Our dinner party had a random mixture of accents, stories and colors of skin. We were all from the U.S.  and we all wanted to have a traditional American Thanksgiving even if we were thousands of miles away from home..

My friend Angie was the hostess that Thanksgiving, making most of the main course of the  dinner, the rest of us girls just helped out. I have always liked to bake and worked in a bakery for several years so I volunteered to make the traditional pies for the dinner two pumpkin and one apple. I made the same recipe that I still fallow today. Around 1 p.m. in the afternoon I walked the fresh home-made pies to Angie’s midsize two bedroom apartment. We lived only about 4 blocks away from each other in white stucco apartments. The crowd arrived and I think we had about 15 for dinner and the house was full. We ate sitting on the floor, on dinning chairs and on sofa arms . The food was great, the music was the 80’s metal bands and smoke-filled the room as dinner was over and deserts got cut. I help to serve pie, ice cream and cake. But what caught my attention that day was Tom. After a few bites of pie he returned to where I stood and asked me where I learned to make the apple pie. I said from my mothers old cookbook and we continued to talk. The talking never really ended.

granny smith apples sliced

granny smith apples sliced

That afternoon we spent hours talking about our families and that we both loved home cooked food and Christmas fudge that our families would send over to us from home. He talked about his dog and I talked about my cat. We eat another piece of pie and spent the rest of the evening sitting together in the living room playing Gun and Roses, Ozzy, White Snake, AC/DC  on the stereo turn table with Tom as D.J. Our friends moved in and out of groups of conversations and beer bottles hissed and dancing happened. We never moved from that old soft recliner where I sat on the floor watching him change albums. Hours passed, dishes needed cleared and beer bottles clanked in the trash bag as ashes got dumped in from a hundred cigarettes. We were still talking and cleaning and neither of us wanted it to end. Finally around 11 p.m. I had to walk home and Tom offered to walk with me. In the glow of street lamps, on the cobble stones we walked the 4 blocks from Angie’s apartment to mine where we said good night.

apple pie filling is ready to bake

apple pie filling is ready to bake

He never kissed or  hugged me at that old wooden door. He only said  he was happy that I was safe at home and that he loved my pie. He turned and started to walk up the steep cobble stone hill in front of my apartment building. I watched as he reached the crest and he turned and waved good-bye to me on his 2 mile walk back to the barracks. I spent to rest of the night wondering what in the world was so good about that pie and how he would have to get up in just a few hours and go to work. I was happy to see him the following evening after he got off work so we could talk more over a beer or two.

I never did understand why that pie was so good. I never did forget that walk home in the misty night. I am just thankful that I can still make it for him. Today I am preparing for a fruit pie contest at the 4-H fair. I have made other things for the fair but this will be the first time I have made a pie. So I am making a couple of TEST apple pies today and want to share the recipe with you just because this pie is why my husband and I are still in love.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do making them.

Apple pie ready for the oven

Apple pie ready for the oven

My True Love Apple Pie ( deep dish)

1  Double Pie crust… store-bought or home-made.

5 to 6 large Granny Smith Apples ( 2 pounds),peeled, cored and sliced very thin.

1/2 half cup packed dark brown sugar

1   tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup salted real butter

add lots of love.

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes until filling is bubbly. Always put pie on cook sheet to prevent juice from running over into oven.Cover edge of pie crust for about the first 20 minutes with tin foil.

True Love Apple Pie

True Love Apple Pie

Categories: Apples, cakes and family deserts, family memories, friends, Memories, nostalgic, Pie, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Home Remodel # 2 Filming Barn Demolition with the Barnwood Builders at Jane Lew West Virginia.

If you are just dropping in, I am working on a home remodel with a company from Lewisburg WV. They happen to have a television show titled the Barnwood Builders.  They invited me and the blog to take part in not only a large amount of barn lumber but also in the filming of the episode at a barn in Jane Lew, W.V. The process began with Tom and I scouting out the barn and getting to know the producers. You can see more of that post at                            Home Remodel #1 .

Lets just say the I was thankful when Katie one of the producers, canceled Tom, Christopher and I from coming out to the site on Saturday. The rain was bad and the temperatures cold. Generally a typical dreary spring day in West Virginia. This also meant that the filming of my portion of the show was already a day late. Sunday morning Tom, Christopher and I packed into the truck and headed out  for a long day at two different locations. When we arrived the shed and outside wall of the feeding area of the barn are gone and they are working on getting some of the interior wood ready for Tom and I to take home.

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

We greet the producers and some of the staff as we walked up to the old house that is on the property. The sitting room is full computers and cases, it is now “Head Quarters” for the crew. With in minutes I received  a microphone and transmitter. On a morning that started out about 38 degrees this was the worst of the entire experience. The cord, microphone and box were freezing cold. It took my breath away to have an ice-cold cord dropped down the front of my sweater and run around my waist to my back where the sound engineer clipped it in place. BURRRRR!!!

I then headed over to met the director and star of the show. I walked across the yard to the fence in this photo and waited. Tom and Christopher waited on the porch and watched in the distance. I had no idea of any of the plans for story or lines. I was flying blind, alone and cold. I had not really realized how cold it was and had only worn a sweater and a wind breaker… no hat, no gloves, just rubber muck boots that would later fail me.

Eventually from the field that you see in the photo two men walked up to me at the fence and introduced themselves. Mark Bowe is the star and owner of Barnwood builders and Steve is our Director. They proceed to explain what we were going to do and what was going to happen first. Mark Bowe would pretend to see me standing at this very fence and walk across the field to see what I wanted and the story would run from there. The story for this episode is that a local woman writer is curious about the strangers taking down a loved local barn and wants to learn more. Pretty close to the truth and totally possible where I live. They begin filming with in minutes of our conversation. I stumbled through a few opening sequences, but get my stride and we film at the barn for the next 3 hours straight. All the while the rest of the crew continues to work at removing boards that I will eventually take home.

Johny Jett and Tim loading wood on to fork lift . the wood will  is for my house

Johnny Jett and Tim loading wood on to fork lift . the wood will is for my house

As you can see in the photos the ground is wet rutted mud. Making it a tricky place to walk,talk, think and “Act” in. It was all I could do not to fall. Then as Mark and I walk away from the barn, I do it, I find a rut with the tip of my rubber boot and trip. Still filming, I reach out and just grab his arm and we laugh. I say “It’s OK you work out” as he laughs and has some charming reply(that I have no memory of now) and keeps me from falling face first into the mud. We walk another 20 feet almost to the fence and the unthinkable happens. My boot gets sucked into the wet mud and I totally lose it. I just holler ” Shit!”…. “My boot is stuck in the mud!” as I pitch forward about falling on my face again. Twice in less than ten minutes, I have made it in to the blooper reel. Mark and I finally make it up into the yard laughing when the director and camera man reach us at the gate. Steve the director at this point complements me on my abilities ( of what I am not sure) and says I am actually good at this ( I am a basket case) and wants to give me a hug. “Wow, third hug in just three hours must be doing something right” I think to myself. I am free to return to seeing my family and friends at the  house as the crew finishes moving piles of lumber.

The time off camera is good, we all eat lunch from my friends Josh and Andrea Evans’ restaurant. They own The Second and Center Cafe’ in Weston, West Virginia.  Sitting around the yard and porch of the house,I finally get to take some random photos and spend time with Christopher and Tom. We are all getting excited to load lumber into our truck and watch the barn go down.

Grahm from the Barnwood builders gives Christopher his personal hat

Grahm from the Barnwood Builders gives Christopher his personal hat

Josh Evans owner of Second and Center Cafe with Bryan from the Barnwood builders

Josh Evans owner of Second and Center Cafe with Bryan from the Barnwood Builders

 

 

Lunch break Mark Bowe and Andrea Evans

Lunch break Mark Bowe and Andrea Evans

Loading up only one truck load of lumber for the shoot is great, it gives everyone the opportunity to get filmed even my little Christopher. Mark Bowe, Johnny Jett, Tim and Sherman, help Tom and Christopher load up the truck. Christopher is loving all the attention and steals the show when he dances with Mark in the muddy road.

Christopher with Star of Branwood builders Mark Bowe  loading lumber int o our truck

Christopher with Star of Barnwood builders Mark Bowe loading lumber into our truck

With the lumber loaded we drive away from the location only to return on foot. Tom parks the truck out of sight and  we all walk back to see the final moments of the barn going down. It is a happy and sad feeling watching part of my community being torn down. I have included a short clip of the last few seconds of the barn going down with sound. The cheering and talking is a little loud so please excuse it. I have no skills at editing video.

We  finished our trip home to unload this pile of lumber and head back to Jane Lew where we met the film crew at another location.The production company also wants to film at my  friend Sue Ann Spikers’ farm. She owns a beautiful property with several old buildings, a house and an old cabin. The Barnwood builders want to see the cabin and talk about its history and visit Sunny Pointe Guest House. Sue Ann is always ready for guests at her restored 1860’s Guest House and 1700’s cabin.

Sue Ann Spiker and her 1700's cabin

Sue Ann Spiker and her 1700’s cabin

This is where I will leave this Blog post. I will continue the story of Tom shoeing a horse for Sue Ann’s and share photos of the farm, guest house,and my pile of lumber. I want to explain more about what we are going to do with all this wood and the treasures we found inside the old barn.

I still can not believe that I was part of this experience and that the Barnwood builders will be back at my house this summer again to shoot footage of the after part of my living room.Hope you are enjoying a behind the  camera look at a TV show and who would believe that this all happened because I write a blog.

 

Categories: Barns, Barnwood Builders, blacksmith work, blogging, family fun, Farrier work., friends, heirlooms, history, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, Jane Lew, nostalgic, recycling, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Have Books and Friends that Travel

Chandelier of Louise Bennett Library

Chandelier of Louise Bennett Library

Some of you may know that I am a member of a small book club that started about three years ago. That we have a monthly meeting with a new selection every month to discuss. It is one of things that I look forward to each month. We usually meet at our historic county library that I just love but with the many things that have been going on in my life I was just not able to go a couple of times this year and the book club met at my home. Wonderful that I have book loving friends that will travel.

 

 

front of Louis Bennett Library

front of Louis Bennett Library

a 4 story mansion donated to the city of weston  for use as a llibrary

a 4 story mansion donated to the city of Weston for use as a library

 

Woman who live in the country are sometimes limited in their ability to socialize. Distance and lack of events makes it hard for us to get together in places other than church or school functions. So my little book club is a wonderful place to build relationships and share ideas. Country living just makes our trip to get a good book a little longer. From my house it is about 25 minutes to a book store but for my friend Sandy it is closer to an hour to get to a place that sells real paper books. So when my friends found out about my foot surgery and my lack of ability to walk comfortably they were happy to stop at my house instead. In true county fashion the girls showed up with sweet treats to eat during the meeting and Sandy had even gone out of her way and made our family a pot of warm beef stew for dinner that night. Really aren’t all problems better when some one shares their home cooking with you!

Janice, Sandy and Christopher at our Thanksgiving Book club meeting

Janice, Sandy and Christopher at our Thanksgiving Book club meeting

Our book club reads lots of regional authors and we try to support  West Virginian’s who continue to try to share a positive image of our area. One of those authors Joshua Dyer who has written a novel titled “Finding November” about not only our county ( Lewis county West Virginia)  but about a fascinating time period, the  Great Depression and finding the meaning of family and love. He and other authors from Appalachia like our latest author Lee Smith and her book “Saving  Grace”  explore the hardship of living isolated from the outside world and how the traditions of this region are some times surprising and wonderful all at once. In the future I hope to add some posts about some of these traditions to add  my voice to these authors attempt to share and explore life in the rural mountains.

So with my new book club selection packed safely away in my carry on,I am ready to head to St. Louise for my birthday. I am spending some time with my Mother and Brothers family. I am so glad that I have  some thing to read in the airport that will remind me of my home and the friends that I have made. The trip is a short one, but a much-needed break from the 4 months that Grandma Powers lived with us and the couple of weeks that I have been trapped in this cast. The idea of spending time in the Ozarks with a good book and with family is just what a tired girl needs.

 

 

 

Categories: Birthday, Books, Family, Louis Bennett Library, Ozark mountains, regional authors, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My 1ooth post mile stone!

It is hard to believe that I have actually posted a 100 times since starting this adventure. Blogging is one of the best things I have tried to do as an adult and I am really enjoying it. I have learned so much over the last couple of years and can only say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reply with a comment or a “like” to my posts. I am thankful that all of you just take the time to stop in a read once in a while. It is amazing how many wonderful people I have met through this adventure. I am lucky to call people from all over the world my friends, from several  down under in Australians to a hard-working Canadian, a few transplanted Americans who are in Bosnia and Chile and people from all over the USA who share my interests. It is a wide wonderful world and I am soooo glad I write with all of you!.

Christopher and I out mushroom hunting in my cast... life really slowed down with it

Christopher and I out mushroom hunting in my cast… life really slowed down with it

This year has seen much less travel, hunting and fishing then I had hoped to write about here at Mountain Mama. Things here have changed as things always do. I have had a broken bone in my foot for 12 months and when every thing is done I will have been in a cast 14 months. Who in the world would have thought that a bone around the size of a dime would cause this much pain and hassle. Then we were informed that my mother in law has throat cancer and we have gone through treatment and she is now living with my family. The cancer alone has changed our whole family and all of our lives. It is a constant struggle to maintain her health at this point and I spend much of my day waiting on her needs and wants. It is worth every struggle to see her regain her health and independence over the next few months. I have gone from a career woman and mom, to a full-time care giver, house wife and homestead gardener over these last 100 posts.

I had high hopes when I started blogging that in some way I would find a way to make an income from my posts and be one of those bloggers who travels the world for free with their blog. I was thinking that blogging would some day be my work but instead it is my love. I would not want to get payed and sponsored into some kind of box. I love that this is a limitless space where I am free to share things with like-minded friends. I love to share my failures and gains with all of you. I love that like a stone thrown into a clam water the ripples that my words create flow away in never-ending rings…. that some where in cyberspace I have found all of you and you have sent your ring of words back to me.

Reflection of Stone Bridge on lake at Black Water Falls State Park. Wv

Reflection of Stone Bridge on lake at Black Water Falls State Park. WV

 

So as I look back over the last 100 times that I have sent messages out in to the Cyber Universe I can see so much improvement in my blog and my posts. It has been a great therapy for me and my creative soul and I just hope to keep sharing, learning.

Faerie mushtrooms

Faerie mushrooms

~THANK YOU FROM WILD WONDERFUL WEST VIRGINIA~

Categories: blogging, Cancer, Family, friends, Friendship, gardening, Healing, writing | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Letter Writing in the Electronic Age

Letter from Mary and Ron 2009  

Lets get this straight from the beginning, I am completely guilty of not sending out enough real cards and real letters. I still try very hard to make a physical holiday card/letter every year and have for well into 10 years now. I am not sure if the recipients of those letters love them as much as I do, but they are so fun to make that I do it for the sheer joy of creating them. I also send out cards, I make home-made ones, others are store-bought with the recipient in mind. I always write a nice note or add a funny photo or even confetti to the cards. I know  what you are thinking …Really who has time to think about a card the much? I do! I  want the people in my life to remember how wonderful they are to me and this is how I do it. I take the long road and write on paper or print it out and put it in the mail with a lovely stamp and doodle on the back and let the my joy spread slowly with anticipation about what is in side. I am telling you good letter writing is a lost art.

birthday card from my mother

birthday card from my mother

  I love e-mail don’t get me wrong. Inside the work place it is the very best way to communicate with co-worker and it is so much easier and cheaper to sending a thousand letters to people around the globe. I get that, but what I don’t get is why we would Facebook the words …. “Happy Birthday” to 46 different people in a year. It is fun the frist year… adding up the number of sentiments, comparing it to your friend who has 1100 friends and some how got 800 “Happy Birthdays” compared to your lousey twenty six.  But the following year you are disappointed with the fact that very few people take the time really say anything of value and you certainly don’t remember in a month who even typed the standard line on to your wall. If you are lucky some one might drop you a short note via E-mail about your plans for the weekend or the party you are planning but it is not the same.winter wishes holiday card

  I have a friend who I communicate with regularly in every way that is possible. We send letters, cards and talk on the phone we like home-made letters and we have both been known to save, for years, the letters and cards that we have sent each other. Do you do that with e-mail? How often have you gone back 10 years and looked over your best friends e-mails about their divorce, or pulled up a Happy Birthday e-mail from high school. It does not happen and no one stops and cries over a love note on Face Book.  Thank you card

I have and will again look over love letters and poems that I have received over the years. The torn corners of blue lined note-book paper, the napkin from a bar with a note and home-made cards all mean the world to me. I love them they take me back to a time, place and person who took the time to write them. Remember that you are making memories when you take the time to not just write your blog or that e-mail but write something on paper. You are physically touching another life when a letter arrives in the mail box. If that person on the other end of your gesture does not see the importance of your words and toss them in the trash, then forgive them and do it anyway. Any normal person will still smile and linger over your gift more than if it was electronic.chicken card

Yes, it is slow and more expensive for me to send out  holiday cards and letters. Many things are so much better when done slowly and when they cost a little more. Paper and ink are such a wonderful combination why not share them.

  As I am sure you can already tell I am in the process of sending out more than three dozen letters for the up coming Christmas holiday. It is tradition and it is fun for me to get responses from those that receive them about how they enjoy them and the photos I enclose. In my world I have friends who save and reread some of them and I keep copies for myself. I still cry at times over a holiday letter that  friends send out about their  very tough year where a family member dies or a relationship ends.

   I will not say that I am a skilled writer to anyone. I can barely use this blog most of the time due to my dyslexia. But I am good at getting to the heart of things and seeing things that others over look. So when I  write that letter, note or card, it is hard work. It is painful for me … I hate that I misspell and forget grammar rules but I put it out their.. I stick my neck out and take the time to share my love in a real way.  I made a difference to some one a thousand miles away  who is taking chemo today… did  you? All with a letter I sent.

Categories: dyslexia, holiday cards, letter writing | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Jane Lew,West Virginia, my little town

   recently I have been thinking about how to share more about what I love about my rural life. I realised to do that I should really start at the beginning. The beginning of my experience here in a teeny town in central,West VirginiaWest_Virginia_State_map

Please do not confuse with the state of Virginia.                                                              

      Ok, yes  we were at one time one state. The civil war and topography spilt the state and I reside in the historically confederate and more rugged portion that became West Virginia. Looking at this simple map my location is off of interstate 79 near the city of Weston. The actual name of our town is Jane Lew. A Town of 547 people if you go by the 2011 census records. My family doesn’t actually count in this number as we do not live in city limits. Several thousand live within the zip code and that puts us up to say 3800  people who call Jane Lew home.  The town does have several amenities that we all love and share but we have NO stop lights only a couple of stop sign intersections and a nice off ramp from the interstate. 

main street Jane Lew, Wv

main street Jane Lew, W.V.

Other end of main street taken from the park

Other end of main street taken from the park

Hackers creek road entering into the town of Jane Lew from interstate

Hackers creek road entering into the town of Jane Lew from interstate

The actual town has a nice city park and a very small downtown area with a couple of shops for car repairs and two funeral homes, a gas station.  Several of our historical buildings used for the senior center, VFW,water and gas companies. On the out skirts of town we support three or four gas exploration companies, Two log home builders, a truck stop, two diesel repair garages, a dollar store, a hotel and 3 restaurants.  The town does offer two doctors offices and soon a pharmacy. We are really booming here.

  Off the interstate about five miles is where my husband has spent 45 or his 49 years of life. He grew up in the same house that we raise our oldest son. We farmed, worked and hunted the same property that his father bought and cared from the 1970’s. But recently we made a change and we are now remodeling and restoring a 1920 general store into our forever home. We still live about 5 miles from the interstate but in a more developed community.

the powers farm in 2001 Jane Lew wv

the powers farm in 2001 Jane Lew,W.V.

Photo of the house we are remodeling after years of neglect.

Tom removing old back porch

Tom removing old back porch

   Moving to a small town from a big city was a huge change for me. (My home town was around 20,000 people a true suburb of Denver Co). One of the very first things that was new to me was that everyone is friendly. People wave as you drive past their homes from the front porch or out mowing the grass. Old men wave as they drive down a country road. Everyone  just waves for know real reason. One of my first conversations with my husband was ….. “who was that?”… a woman waved at us while we drove past, she was collecting mail from the families road side mail box. My husbands replied “I have know idea”. Confused I said ” Then why is she waving at us?” Tom laughed and responded….”thats just what you do here.”

  That example explains my whole experience, Confused.  It me took a while to learn to love it. If you see a car passing your home, some one you have never met is waving at you. It is also expected that you will wave back. If you are in an area that you don’t know, I suggest that you do wave and wave to every person you see on that porch. It is bad manors not to and you do not want anyone to think you are there for any reason other than friendly ones… Remember you are in the second leading gun ownership state in the US. Friendly is fine, strangers on the other hand take some getting used to.

   In summer you may wave 5 or 6 times in 4 miles. You wave to the farmer out cutting hay, the neighbor walking her dog,  the mail man who passed you in his personal SUV (No U.S. mail trucks  here) as you head to town. It is a strange and wonderful habit and it makes me smile when I think about how many strangers I have now waved to in passing.

Mr Hicks and Mr Randolph putting up hay

Mr Hicks and Mr Randolph putting up hay

  It is also impossible in a small town like mine to teach children to “NOT TALK TO STRANGERS”. I am not sure if it is a southern thing or just a small town thing, but its expected that you speak to everyone you see. From a simple nod of the head to an involved conversations with people you have never met before. As the new girl in town I used to dread going places with my husband… no one knew me and everyone wanted my story. It was hard to repeat the same information over and over.  No, I am not from around here… No, I don’t have a church yet,…. No, I have never lived in a small town… No, I am not from California… no… no… acccck. Please stop asking me Questions.

   Time moved on and I became just one of the many faces in “town” so it got easier. Then people assume that you know everyone they know or that you need to hear the details of the problem they are having that day. I have heard stories about cheating husbands, injured farmers and animals, children that have school problems all from total strangers. I  love and embrace that West Virginians love to ask questions, butt into conversations if they think they can help, and share a sweet hello… like “good morning sunshine” while shopping at the local   Dairy Mart. I never once remember anyone calling me sunshine at home! I also don’t ever remember someone over-hearing that my debit card didn’t work offer to pay for my gas. I just pumped 7 gallons at the local 7-11 and darn it, it was payday, I just knew that meant money in the bank… was I wrong!

   Danny, only met me once, but offered to cover the 20 dollars to make sure me and the babby got home ok. Embarrassed and totally over whelmed at his kindness as he handed the woman behind the counter a twenty. I drove home in tears and promised to repay him the next day when I got the mess at the bank figure out. He wasn’t worried about it at all….. He said “He had been their, and new what it was like to be short on cash.” and continued “when ever was fine to pay him back.” I went the next day to his repair shop and gave him back the twenty and thanked him until the tears were in my eye again. He hugged me and said that he had lived his whole life in this small town and knew my husband most of his life and knew that he was good for it.  This was a lesson for me and one that I build on still today. People here are good people and are willing to help when they can and I now understand that it is my job to pass it along to others when I can. “Pay it Forward” has been working here a long time before Ophra made it trendy.

    The stereo type that there is nothing happening in a small town maybe true. Three places are open after 8pm here in Jane Lew.  The 24 hour truck stop is one and the other two are a gas station and a Dairy Mart. We have no video store or Red Box , no all night laundry, or even a 24 hour Wal-Mart. But, Jane Lew does have little league baseball, churches, the largest craft fair in the northern part of the state, a best rated elementary school, a national rodeo every summer and lots and lots of friendly families. It is the families, rich, poor and in-between that make this my home. It’s the Dr’s wife out volunteering at the elementary school, it’s the Paster cooking hot dogs to raise money for vacation bible school. It is Danny the tow truck driver paying for my gas, the sweet sound of  children on the play ground, and the fire fighters community Pig roast that make it home. It is the way that some one I have never met will stand at the ice cream shop and tell me stories about how their Mamaw and Papaw lived near here and had a farm, that makes the roots grow deep in this place. A small sweet southern place to call home.

Christopher riding in puddles at Jane Lew park

Christopher riding in puddles at Jane Lew park

Pair of boots forgotten after rodeo and left on a stump

Pair of boots forgotten after rodeo and left on a stump

Categories: family fun, Farming, Friendship, Home, Jane Lew, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Blogger Who Can’t Spell

   For those of you who are reading this blog for the first time, I will explaine a little more about myself.  I have been recently contacted again about my blogs spelling and grammitcal errors… let me put all the rummors and helpful statments to rest… I CAN’T SPELL…This is my disablity.

people who love us dont see our disablities just our ablity to love

people who love us don’t see our disabilities just our ability to love

   Ok,  now that we understand each other, let me also explain why,I have a form of Dyslexia called Disgraphia. It causes problems with short-term memory and graphic recall. I can read fine and really enjoy it as a hobbie. But the same skills that it takes to read are unrelated to spelling. Hard to beleive, I know, but when I read I only identify only about half the word and by its shape and size and context  my brain is able to understand its meaning and moves on. I never really see each individual letter while reading. Then, add in the fact that my brain recalls letters and numbers in the wrong order and presents them to me in a jumble, I have a terrible time remembering what words look like. So I have spent my life trying to hide, correct, learn, memorize… millions of words that no matter what I try to do end up coming out of my damaged recall system… in a mess.

    The fact that I even attempt to write on my Face Book wall or write on a blog is maybe a little on the crazy side. I constantly miss spell simple third grade words that anyone in the world knows are the basic building blocks for communication. But I continue to gain friends and readers of my blog. I at some point in my life I made PEACE with myself and my situation…. I am not a technician of language, I am not a professional writer (thank GOD) I am a Mom who has, in some strange twist of fate,  found that she LOVES to write. Yea,  kind of like  having no legs and learning that you love to ski.

   You find a way… I have found a voice and a place to, lets say improve, my skills. Word Press and its freedom and tools have allowed me to have a space in the universe where I can share my world and stories.It is freeing to write without a person leaning over me ( a thousand teachers) saying with red pen in hand, “you misspelled this or that” or  “that is not the correct usage for that verb”. I do try to correct what I can and manage my  grammar, but let’s get real… I am not good at it! I don’t get paid to reread my own words forty or fifty times. So Please stop informing me that I have spelling and grammar errors, I already know. 16 years of education didn’t fix it, I am positive that rude statements will not either.

  I have lovely friends and family that are grammar Nazi’s. They chose to not read my blog and I am fine with that. it is grating on their nerves to read and try to not correct every one of my mistakes. I love them for their honesty and wish that I had their skills. I also have die-hard fans who read and enjoy my stories and photos without much comment about my spelling. I love their support and understanding and am glad they “GET IT”.

   Maybe to your surprise I am educated, I have a B.A. degree and graduated from college with honors… my lack of spelling skills has never stopped me from pursuing my dreams and attempting to share what I love. It also does not lower my intelligence. Dyslexia has actually given to me many wonderful things, one of  the most important is tolerance. I know what discrimination feels like. I understand being segregated from others because you are different and I have learned to work around my disability and at times over come it.

   Word Press is the perfect place for me. I can write when and where I want. I can write about any topic and share what is real and important to me. I can write with my own misspelled voice. Word Press is freedom from over bearing institutions,where my words fly out of my finger tips. I love my blog and that I can find a creative freedom here that was lost in the 4 years of college and the twelve-years of public education. It is my freedom from the grammar Nazi’s in the world.    Finally, I hope that this has enlightened my readers.That maybe it is something deeper than laziness and lack of attention to detail that causes a person to misspell. Thank you for your time reading this,  it is my goal to improve my skills. I just hope that in 5 years I am a better writer then I am now.

JoLynn Powers

Categories: About me, Dislexia, Friendship, history, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

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