Monthly Archives: July 2013

Between Reading and Writing comes Drawing

    Between Reading and Writing comes Drawing. In recent years I have struggled to find  time to do what I love. Moving off the big farm and having a baby 4 years ago  just disturbed the genital balance of my life…. Well my creative life that is. My art work took a back seat to all the changes that were taking place in our lives.

   Tom and I spent about two years in the transition from the big house and yard to the little house and yard. While we moved Christopher was two.. The terrible twos and potty training what a mess. We attempted to buy a “finished” old home and the sale fell through the last day of our lease on the farm. We were homeless and everything we owned headed to storage. Toms mom just happened to have a one bedroom furnished apartment that she rented and did not need at the time. Tom, Christopher and I spent almost 5 months living there while looking for a home. In the end we took on a 1920 old store that had over the years been turned into a home for a couple of families but was never really updated and then abandoned for a couple of more years. Crazy, right! We worked nonstop for two years to make the house livable. It was one of the most emotional experiences of my adult life…to be homeless and working and with good credit. How does that happen? It was the most out of control I have ever felt. It was as if we had no say in what was happening to us and we were a boat adrift. It has been almost three years now  the house and I am finally starting to feel at peace enough to start drawing and painting.

    I used to draw pictures to regain my piece of mind, if things were to tough in the outside world I withdrew from the world and created pictures. If I was trying hard to recover from some loss, I took time out to put pencil to paper. If I was in love I poured my heart on to paper. While in college I worked very hard on my draftsmen skills and spent hours and hours exploring pen, paper, ink and canvas. Yet, when Christopher was born I just kind of stopped. I guess this always happens with a new life in the house but the rebound from his birth to me wanting to create has been a very long 4 and half years.

    Much to my relief I still have the skills to draw… just a little rusty but after a few scribbles I think I will be fine. The whole process is different now. I need peace and quite and time, lots of time to unwind my mind enough to sit quietly and put an idea down on paper. As a teen I only needed something to draw on, the energy was pushing its way out. This is why my mother finally gave up on trying to remove all the doodles that I embedded into a faded pairs of Levis. I could not stop myself, drawing was a constant habit. As if my hand was always in motion without any sign of me thinking about what or where the ideas came from.

nut and leaves drawing crop

nut and leaves drawing crop

   Now with adult problems, a toddler and work, I find myself constantly distracted from that free-flowing source of inspiration. Writing the blog helps, reading books saved me from a total melt down over the last few years but Thiers something more satisfying in the release that art and drawing does for me.

   First off, I never have a plan when I draw…. I use it as a form of meditation … free association really. Start with an image and let that image bring me to the next one and then the next, filling the space with images. Thiers is no way to remove a mistake in this form of drawing. Every line is part of the whole and incorporated into the drawing as I move on to the next line. It is these random doodles that grease the wheels of my mind and allow me to actually plan a piece of art work,something I have not done in years. I am sure to find the time to draw this fall when Christopher heads off to school.

 So with our month of  rain keeping me inside, I finally got out my favorite colored pen and sat down. I love blue and white together, so I started with that and wondered where should I begin? Then a leaf appeared and it needed some friends,well if you have leaves you should also have nuts, then a flower joined in and she wanted to have a friend so another one filled in the space that remained.  

  This is just a doodle and  creative 35 minutes of my life. It is in some of my doodles that I have found ideas for other projects.It is where I find my meditation Zone. I felt so much better when I finished for the day. Funny the drawing is in a state of “needing some more work” but a doodle is just a doodle… it needs nothing more does it? This is my way of warming up and restoring my skills… It is nice to know that not everything is lost over time.

Categories: About me, Drawing, Personal art work | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

A New Passion… Mushroom Hunter.

    This has been an idea in my head for years…. Hunting Mushrooms. I find that my passion for foraging just grows year after year. I spend more and more of my free time in the woods looking for wild edible foods. This year my son bought me two mushroom hunter guide books for Christmas. He bought them after a conversation we had about how we should take up the hobby so that we can spend more time in the woods in the summer. Summer is our OFF season, trout fishing is over and deer hunting is not in season, so we really had no reason to go into the woods in July. That all changed a couple of weeks ago when we began Chanterelle mushroom hunting for ourselves.

   With help and encouragement from my husband’s friend Mark Metzger, Tom and I took off on a Saturday morning to a woods that my husband has hunted for years. We had photos and seen real examples of the mushroom we were looking for. We read where these tasty morsels grew but you never really know what you will find until you try. Our hopes were high that the mushroom hunt would fill our bags, we were not disappointed. We ended up with about two pounds if bright yellow flesh ready to eat.

Here is a photo of our friend Mark with a mushroom of a life time,a portion of a 100 pound “Chicken of the Woods” mushroom found in a drainage ditch while at work. Working for the DOT sometimes has its advantages… Mark Metzger with huge chicken of the woods

    It was this photo and story that pushed me into this new adventure. I wanted to see, find and eat something like this. I knew that edible mushrooms were just waiting for me to find and enjoy them. We started off looking for some of the easiest to identify wild mushrooms so that we were sure to stay safe and get an easy start on this new project.

  Our first steps were to pack up for the trip. I read and reread the ways to ID  the Chanterelle, the mushroom type we wanted to find. We packed several “green” grocery bags, a roll of paper towels, a couple of pocket knives and water bottles. We all dresses very comfortable yet in jeans. This time of year you tramp through wild roses and brier batches along every hill-side. We did not travel along pathways or trails, we brush busted through groves and thickets. I also took along our “for beginners” identification book just in case of confusion and of course my camera.

  It took Tom, Christopher and I  several minutes to get to the proper location for chanterelles. They only grown in the darkest part of the woods under mostly oak trees. To find an area with the correct environment took about an hour of hiking. GE DIGITAL CAMERA

We past thousands of mushrooms that morning of every color, style and size. One of the most interesting ones was this beauty, possibly a Morgan mushroom.

what we think was commonly known as a morgan ploypores mushroom

what we think was commonly known as a Morgan polypore mushroom

  Since we were not totally sure what this thing was we left it to grow and just took a photo of it. I at some time hope to use the photos in paintings and drawings. 

   The grove we found our mushrooms in is old and thick. The canopy was full,  making the ground dark and damp, very little vegetation lived on the ground. Only the wondering grape vines and the yellow of the chanterelle were visable.The chanterelle’s bright yellow trumps are hard to miss in the dark of the woods. We literally passed from one level to another on the hillside picking as we move down. Of course I was so excited to see the little guys I forgot to stop and take a picture of the hill-side covered with little yellow flower like mushrooms (live and learn). We ended up with about two pounds of mushrooms from this location. We also left some of the smaller ones for later and to make sure that the spores dropped on the ground for the next generation of chanterelle.

Tom passing fallen tree to area where we found the Wild Mushrooms

Tom passing fallen tree to area where we found the Wild Mushrooms

   Also while wondering in the woods, we found another type of edible mushroom in a random passing of dead trees called  boletes. I collected them also but made sure not to mix the mushrooms in the same bag and rapped each in a paper towel to remove some of the moister that was on all of the mushrooms. Some were still water-logged from the weeks of rain we had just gotten through.  This type of mushroom also has no gills but has the shape of any common mushroom, but it does have a more flattened cap and velvety appearance.

frist botele mushroom found that day

first Bolete mushroom found that day

  We brought home about 6 Bolete mushrooms and was able to identify them as Bragger’s Boletes and will look for them again when we head out next time.

     The most popular mushrooms that also grow in West Virginia are Morels. They are an easy to spot spring mushroom that also grows in the dark oak groves of the Appalachian mountains. Tom and I did not have time this year to pursue hunting them but our friend Mark was able to find some. We have added this to the list of things we hope to do next spring.

Mark Metzgar with Morels and a Lewis County, West Virginia widow sign

Mark Metzger with Morels and a Lewis County, West Virginia widow sign

    Edible mushrooms are fun to collect, spending a day off in the woods is refreshing, but it is even more enjoyable to eat what you have found. I have always been a fan of trying new things in the kitchen so cooking up a batch of wild mushrooms is not hard.  Tom, Bill(a family  friend) and I cleaned and fried up our treasure in flour and butter.I added a little salt and pepper for flavor cooked them over low heat. The taste was a rich and strong mushroom flavor… and they melted in you mouth. I really wonderful way to start a meal.

flouring the mushrooms

flouring the mushrooms

  I can’t really put into words what it is that I love so much about foraging for food. It is like treasure hunting for me. I get an idea about what I want to find and some how God and the earth provides me a place and time of year to find it. I enjoy my time in the wilderness it recharges and invigorates me. Foraging also allows us to see lots of wild life. On this trip to the woods we found a spotted fawn, several song birds, what Tom and I believe was a Bob Cat sleeping in a tree and lots of squirrels. What a wonderful way to spend time with those you love,sharing time in the woods, finding wonderful treasures, then taking them home to eat a fun meal together. Dose life really get any better than this?

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Foraging, Hardwood forest, Mushrooms, organic foods, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 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: , , , , , | 16 Comments

Big Bend Camp ground, Cabins West Viriginia

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Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Big Bend camp ground, Camping, Hardwood forest, Monongahela National Forest, Potomac river, Seneca Rocks, Smoke Hole Caverns, State Park activities, West Virginia | 4 Comments

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