Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Challenged Writer, Blogging with Dysgraphia/ Dyslexia

Train Bridge at Black Water Falls State Park, WV

Train Bridge at Black Water Falls State Park, WV

The conversation at my resent book club meeting swirled with questions about not only our resent read,”Triptych” by Karen Slaughter but also about how people live and work with learning disabilities.The protagonist of  Triptych, Will Trent suffers from Dyslexia. As I have first hand knowledge, we spent more then the usual time discussing how I survived my education, how and why I even attempted college, and why I write a blog now. I write as a hobby and why I do it is a question that keeps coming up in my blog and from friends and family. So to clarify  I though I would write another post on some of the things that I face when I came to the realization that I really did want to write as a hobby.

The photo above is a metaphor of how most Dyslexic/ Dysgraphics think and how we some times make connections that others do not. Universally most of us with this learning disability are intuitive and can get the over all meaning or concept of an idea quickly and may jump from idea to idea with out the need of fact-finding information or research to support an idea. Like this bridge my mind arches over a lot of numbers, details, research data to understand the over all idea being expressed. I don’t need the support of facts to understand the concept and the more data that is given to me the more confusing the idea becomes. Then to take it a step further, If some one is teaching me something new, and I understand the steps involved to take on the new skill, I will most likely just jump ahead and figure out the next step in the process on my own or may even find a new way to finish the process in a new way. So my mind is constantly linking  bridges over ideas. Touching on the topic and leaping forward to the next landing to get enough information to leap off again. The problem is that you must at some point be able to show how the bridges link. You must support the information or idea that you are using and learning. This is where the problems lie.

To explain and support ideas you have to write about them, prove them with scientific method or mathematics. All of which are troublesome for most of us with this learning disability. My personal problem is with letter and number recall and recognition. My brain translates the world in a symbolic way. Meaning that I read and translate my world more through a group of images and understand their meaning rather than individual letters and numbers. I would have been a perfect scribe in Egypt when hieroglyphics were the modern written language, as this is how I process information.  So I see letters and numbers as more of a shape than an individual character.  So letters and numbers that look similar get confused easily.

Letters of confustion

Letters of confusion

to this list I would add, W-M, M-N, W-V,  Then some of the numbers that are just as confusing are the numbers

5-6, 3-8 and sometimes 9-6. So let me explain this in another way.  If I were to show you a photo of a Yield Sign… like this

yeild sign

You would normal say that you know this shape and know its meaning even without the written words.” Stop” signs are the same way… but what if you turn them on their sides or turn them up side down? Dose that change the meaning of the Stop sign? Dose the caution needed when seeing this Yield sign change if it is on its side or upside down,… not  really. Even if we see an upside down Stop sign or a ” caution sign”  side ways we can finger out the meaning of the sign. This is not true when it comes to letters or numbers, the letter b does not  have the same meaning as the letter d although they appear as the same symbol just back words. So with the confused rules  of reading and writing words become a challenge to decode. Now string lots and lots of confusing letters and numbers into a paragraph. A simple sentence becomes a night mare. The English language fallows very few rules and the ones that they teach are usually broken, leaving us with learning disabilities  hanging. With mountains of words that make us confused, unable to sound out, with no pattern to fallow the Dyslexic/ Dysgraphic is left to tricks and basic rules of grammar to try to share in your world  . So as you could expect reading and writing becomes a monumental tasks of trying to decode the images into readable sentences. It takes forever for me to write on paper.I never even share my grocery list if possible because the spelling is so bad most people would never find what I was looking for. Just think how you spell spaghetti. Well I do not spell it like that! We here at home just laugh and go on with our shopping.

Some how I was fortunate enough to learn to read,the letters do not jumble when I see them just when I recall them from memory. I discovered in school that I could tell you about the story and I could draw pictures of what I had read but could not repeat what the author had done and write about the story they had created. It was exhausting to try to recall all the words and how to spell them and all the rules of writing. I spent my entire education in spectacle education classes until my second year in college. Then I discovered that typing my papers was so much easier than hand writing them. My brain discovered a different pathway with a keyboard and it was easier, not perfect but better. My body memory kicks in and I only think of a word and I type it almost correctly.

Isis drawing done during the worst of high school 1987

Isis drawing done during the worst of high school 1987

I have heard that a person must do an activity about 52 times to commit it to memory…. what if that never happens. What if you can never remember something no matter how many times you see, hear or act out something. That is the challenge, to continue to repeat things again and again well over 52 times to memorize them. The language decoder in my brain is faulty and non-repairable.  I work around the words and letters that give me the hardest time. Some times that means using a totally different word or trying, 4 different spellings of the same word. Thank God for spell check on the Word Press site this has given me a way to correct most of the misspellings and some of the grammar errors.

Most Dyslexic/Dysgraphics are also kinetic learners, meaning that they learn through physical movement rather than reading or through hearing. This leads to most of us being thought of as ADD/ADHD although I was never thought of as hyper until I was an adult. I am like some many others with this disability, happiest when on the move or working with my hands. I discovered Art young and used it to pacify my anger and frustration at school and the learning systems that did not work for me. So I excelled with art, reading and public speaking but still struggled with writing my own papers and speeches. It was later in college that I found that I actually liked writing.I love doing research on Art history and loved the idea of at some point sharing an artist statement with the world. I loved books and reading so I knew that I wanted find a way to share words in a more artistic way but just didn’t see how at the time. This was 1999 and blogging was not something I would have even known about.

15 years pass and I am still struggling to find jobs that don’t focus too much on writing skills. I have sold furniture, done interior decorating, worked in retail and now do merchandise audits from retail chains. I worked on our farm and others and love it, but something was missing. Sharing and creating something of my own was a major part of my daily life. I had spent 4 years in college to learn more ways to create and at home on the farm their was nothing but work. I could have made artist books, painted or worked on my drawings. But the truth is that I had a hard time dealing with the distractions I faced as a mom and farm worker.  The supplies for painting are expensive, and the thing I loved most was engraving and a press was about an hours drive away and taking a 4-year-old into a studio full of caustic chemicals, acids and inks was not a great idea.

engraving of big horn sheep during last years of collage 1998

engraving of big horn sheep during last years of college 1998

Then a friend started a blog and I began to read more and more blogs and it seemed to me that I could do just about anything with a blog floor mat. Their were poetry blogs, cooking blogs, political blogs and even cartoon and artist blogs. I thought that even though I can not spell, I can share what it is I love through all of the options bloggers have. I can take photos, I can write poetry, tell stories and cook and share them, so why wouldn’t I want to have one of my own. The spelling and technical aseptic are all secondary to creating. Creating a world of my own is why I fight to write.  I know it really makes no sense at all, that I would spend  hours every week doing the one thing that is hardest for me. I guess my only answer is that I love a good challenge.

I am in no way saying this is a competition with others. It is a competition with myself, with the inner demons who tries to put me down, saying that what I do is not good enough. This is who I fight, the same self loathing and judgments that any creative person fights. I challenge myself as some athletes challenge themselves, to work harder, reach farther and do your best.  This kind of challenge is good for the soul and I can’t wait to see where it takes me!

Categories: About me, Art, blogging, Drawing, dyslexia, education, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Wild Mushroom ( Hen of the Woods)( Chicken Mushroom) Penne Pasta

One of my favorite things about West Virginia is finding wild mushrooms. I modified the ingredients for this dish around the holidays when Tom and I grew sick of eating turkey and ham. This recipe could use any mushroom but as I have learned more about wild mushrooms it is wonderful for the meaty and almost fibrous Hen of the woods.

Hen of the Woods...Grifola frondosa

Hen of the Woods…Grifola frondosa

Hen of the Woods can range from almost white to almost totally grey.It ranges in size from about a pound to some here in West Virginia that have come in at 80 pounds. This mushroom a choice edible. The Hen of the Woods  should not turn blue/black when bruised  and should not have  an unpleasant odor.  The small mushroom on the left of this photo is the one that we took in the house to eat as it was a gift from friends. Our little mushroom hit the scale at about 5 1/2 pounds. Just as a size reference it took up the entire dish strainer when I cleaned it.  The center mushroom was about 12 pounds and about the size of my kitchen sink.

cleaning and draining a Hen of the woods Mushroom

cleaning and draining a Hen of the woods Mushroom

Warning…  edible mushrooms are easy to mix up with poisonous ones  learn them before you eat.

As with any of my mushroom posts I encourage everyone who wants to start looking for mushrooms to buy several mushroom identification books and find other hunters in your area to help with identification.  Some wild mushrooms are very poisonous and can kill a grown human in a few hours.  Remember to only try one new mushroom at a time.That way if there is a reaction to the fungus, you know what type of mushroom it is making you ill. Cook all wild mushroom before eating this also reduces allergic reactions to the fungus. Always keep a sample of the mushroom in case you have misidentified the mushroom and need medical attention. Get an outside person to look over your findings…. can’t hurt to have a second pair of eye looking at what you want to eat.

I cleaned this large mushroom in a large sink full of warm water. The water needs to cover the entire mushroom and it should ideally soak for about 25 to 30 minutes. This allows the small bugs, slugs, dirt, leaves or any other unwanted matter time to drown or soften and float to the bottom of the sink. Remove the mushroom from water, drain and rinse again with tap water. Place the clump of wet mushroom in dish strainer to drain. The mushroom can now be canned, frozen, or cooked. I cut this big guy up and froze about 3/4 of it for the winter.

bag of frozen Hen of the Woods mushrooms

bag of frozen Hen of the Woods mushrooms

Hen of the woods is one of the few mushrooms that freeze extremely well and does not lose its firm texture  when thawed. So this one is a wonderful winter cooking staple. After cutting up the large mushroom I patted the branches dry and placed about 2 pounds per bag. Using about two cups of frozen branches for the following recipe.

Hen of the Woods Penne Pasta

Hen of the Woods Penna Pasta

Hen of the Woods Penne Pasta

serves 5 to 6  baked at 350 degrees

  1. quart Italian tomato sauce or marinara sauce
  2. 1 pound penne pasta
  3. 1 pound Italian Sausage ( we use sweet or mild)
  4. 1  green sweet bell pepper
  5. 1 med yellow onion
  6.  2 cups Hen of the Woods thawed mushrooms
  7.  2 cloves garlic crushed
  8. 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  9. 2 cups shredded cheese Mozzarella, Cheddar, or blended cheese

Begin with a 2 quart casserole coated with cooking spray or butter the casserole dish set a side. Boil salted water in a large pot and cook 1 lb noodles until about 3/4 the way soft. Drain noodles and set a side. They will continue to cook when baked with other ingredients  in oven.

In a large skillet break up and brown 1 lb of sweet Italian sausage. When browned all the way through remove from pan and set a side. To skillet oils add garlic and thawed mushroom and saute until mushrooms begin to brown at the edges.

saute mushrooms and garlic remaining oils in skillet

saute mushrooms and garlic remaining oils in skillet

Then add in onions, peppers, saute until onions begin to turn translucent and peppers begin to soften , under cook the vegetables so they remain some what crunchy they will continue to cook in the oven when baked.

Hen of the Woods, onions. peppers and garlic saute

Hen of the Woods, onions. peppers and garlic saute

Add cooked sausage to casserole dish followed by cooked mushrooms and vegetables. Mix together and add one quart of pasta sauce, 1 pound of cooked penna pasta.

sausage, onion, peppers, hen of the woods mushrooms, garlic in casserole dish

sausage, onion, peppers, hen of the woods mushrooms, garlic in casserole dish

Add into mixture 1 cup Parmesan cheese and mix well. Cleaning the rim of dish after mixing to prevent burning while in oven. Top mixture with shredded cheese and bake covered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

adding pasta, Parmesan cheese and sauce to mixture in cassarole

adding pasta, Parmesan cheese and sauce to mixture in casserole

 The  topping will appear melted and the filling will appear bubbly when ready to eat. We serve this will garlic bread and a romaine lettuces salad. Making a nice meal that helps incorporate  the woodiness of the wild mushroom without making it distracting in a main dish.  This is one of my husbands favorite dishes as long as I leave the pepper, onion and mushrooms in large slightly crunchy pieces.  

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Just for fun here is a photo of an over grown Hen of the woods that my husband and a friend found while working along a road side for the DOT in 2010.This one was almost to big to eat at 80 pounds and really tough.

Mark Metzger with huge chicken of the woods

Photo used with permission from Mark Metzgar 2013.

Categories: country cooking, Foraging, Hardwood forest, Mushrooms, West Virginia, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Anniversary to me twice

Funny how a life time slowly unfolds. I would  have never guessed the my WordPress blog anniversary  and my wedding anniversary would fall on the same day. I never planned it to happen like this but it is a great way to remember the  things in my life that I enjoy the most.

This year Tom and are officially married 22 years but  I do tend to think of it as 23 years mainly because I was pregnant with our first child  most of that year. We were unable to get married  because Tom was off fighting in the Gulf War and only returned a few days before my oldest sons birth in April of 1991.  We finally made it official and chose to get married on Valentines Day of 1992. I could have picked any day and Tom would not have complained as long as we were all together. I chose this day because like this year it was a holiday that fell on a Friday and we could get married and have a long weekend and the court-house was open and Tom was able to get the day off work. Real romantic? Well, we were young and broke and had a baby to take care of so it was  great fun for us even if it was not fancy, huge and expensive. It was a perfect start to a wonderful life together and some how it  foreshadows our lives and how we would live them the next twenty years.

Tom and JoLynn Powers first wedding kiss 2-14 -1992

Tom and JoLynn Powers first wedding kiss 2-14 -1992

Over the years we have spent most of our time and money on outdoor adventures. We have traveled many miles to hunt, fish, camp, trail ride, and farm over 23 years. It has never been about who has the biggest house or nicest car it was always about learning and trying some thing  new. I am so glad that I have found someone who, like me, loves to focus on what the next mountain has to offer and what we can learn from it. Life is a Journey not a Destination.

The other thing that I am so happy about is being  a part of is the WordPress world. I actually started blogging a full year before I moved to Word Press. I found that the other web sites hard to manage and they did not have the space for large photos . I moved and never looked back . I have  met so many wonderful writers and bloggers, that now just like my marriage, I can’t imagine my life with out all of you as part of it. I continue to work on writing better blog posts and learn more about writing. I have a dream that one day I will fill a canning cook book with stories and memories and recipes the you all help me to compose. I would have never known that their were people out their who love and live the same quite, deliberate way that we do with out my blog.

Word press anniversary-1

Word press anniversary-1

So thank you WordPress, it has been a great 1st year and I hope to keep working towards my dreams and sharing them here. Who knows, in  about 20 more years Valentines day will fall on a Friday again and I will be a published author, a great Grandmother, a wife and a woman who is still trying some thing new!

Categories: About me, blogging, family memories, Marriage, Valintines | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Turning a Blind Eye, Blindness in Horses, and the Choices Owners Make

Winter has really had a terrible affect on my husbands Farrier business over the last few weeks. With temperatures dropping below zero for several days in a row we just could not make our usual January rounds to the farms as every creature big or small was hiding out looking for some where warm. This is the slowest January in the 9 years, But we did make it out to see one of our oldest costumers last weekend. The Peoscek farm is home to 6 wonderful horses and two dogs and a fuzzy cat.

Austrian Shepherd named Savannah and Christopher in barn

Austrian Shepherd named Savannah and Christopher in barn

As a farm hand I met my friend Mark Peosek around 15 years ago. We have spent lots of time together over the years. It was back then, while I worked at the Hill Crest Farm, that Mark stopped in looking for a well-bred Gelding that would make a fine trail horse. He found a nice little guy about 2 that we all called “Tee Sign” at the barn. He was small for his age but he was loving and quite. Born a sorrel with a big bold blaze and white socks was a handsome young horse.  Mark had other horses and  was looking for something easy to train and ride. He got everything that he wanted from “Tee” and more. After taking Tee home things settled into a nice orderly routine. Tee was broke to ride and healthy and happy he lived in a herd with other horses mostly mares that tormented him. But he was happy, well feed and the favorite mount of my friend… ” He’s bomb proof” Mark would add to any conversation about his horses.

After the next 12 years passed  Mark started to notice a change in Tee’s behavior that could not really be explained. Instead of staying with the “girls” like  he usually did in the pasture he would be alone grazing and nickering all afternoon. This continued until poor old Tee would lose his voice from the constant calling to his friends. He would not return to the barn at a fast gallop at feeding time in the evenings. It was summer time so Mark thought maybe he just did not want to come in from the green pasture.Their was plenty of hay in the field and water to drink so he was able to stay outside if the horse wanted to. The questions began a few months letter as Mark noticed that Tee was thinner when he did come down to the barn and was now spending most of his time in the upper portion of the pasture still crying for his friends when they moved away. Soon Mark had to walk the long hill to find Tee and call him to come in as the summer ended and fall began.

This is when Mark  finally realized that their was a real problem. Mark checked Tee’s eye sight by moving his hand around Tee’s eye looking for some reaction, a wink, a flinch or just a tightly closed eye. Nothing happened, Tee’s reaction was as if noting was moving near his eye. He didn’t have any idea that some one was standing to his  side moving a hand within inches of his face. Things progressed from their and Mark new that Tee was losing his sight. He called his Veterinarian and found out that Tee at about age 14 was going blind  from Moon Blindness. That Tee’s case had gone on so long that it was not really treatable. Moon blindness was going to change their relationship forever.

Moon Blindness in 14 year old Quarter horse owned by Mark Peoscek

Moon Blindness in 14-year-old Quarter horse owned by Mark Peoscek

Moon Blindness as described at this link is a general name for many problems with equine eye but most are progressive and about 20% will blind both eyes. In Tee’s case both eyes went blind in a few months of each other. By the end of last fall Tee was totally blind and Mark was facing the hard questions about what to do next.

Mark asked everyone who knew anything about horses  what they though about Tees situation. He asked his Vet, he ask Tom and I, he asked friends and family. What do you do with a blind horse? There is never an easy answer to these questions. Caring for any blind animals is  time-consuming but there is a way to keep them healthy, happy and safe. The answer that Mark got from most of us in the horse industry was a resounding, Yes! Tee could be well cared for and live a happy life with a few adjustments and the commitment of his owner.

Blind horse care is possible and  just as enjoyable if the horse is given some time to adjust to the new world that they live in. This link shares a short guide to a few often asked questions faced by the newly blinded horse owner and those who care for these animals. Blind Horse care changed a few things for my friend and his horse. Tee spends a few more hours in the barn in the winter because of ice, Mark  also watches how the mares treat him more closely and he added a bell to the halter of a mares to aide Tee’s ability to keep track of the herd. All of these things are important changes but, as you can see from this photo of Tom trimming  his feet and Christopher taking time to grooming him, things have not really changed for Tee. He is still well fed, has farrier work done and is groomed regularly.

Blind horse getting groomed by Christopher

Blind horse getting groomed by Christopher

As long as Tee’s health stays good I think we can all agree that this horse has a bright future with people love and take great care of him and there is no reason to think of putting him down. He even still enjoys a little ride time with his friends when they come to visit.

Mark Peoscek with Tee gving Christopher to ride of the day

Mark Peoscek with Tee giving Christopher to ride of the day

I am so thankful that my friend Mark took the time to let this new adjustment settle in before making up his mind about what to do with a blind horse. He did not fall prey to the myths listed below.

  1. Blind horses can not have a great quality of live .
  2. Blind horses are more dangerous
  3. Blind horses are sickly
  4. Blind horses can’t be pastured
  5. Blind horses are useless.

Mark and Tee have gained a deeper more understanding relationship over the course of the last two years and Tom and I are happily a  part of this new part of their lives.

Categories: animal health, blacksmith work, equine health, Farrier work., horse health, Horses | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hill Billy Venison Hot Dog Chili.

In West Virginia there are two staple foods, 1st is the Pepperoni Roll  with a close 2nd being the Hot Dog. Some will say T&L style is the best but I am sure that the Custard Stand would argue both serve wonderful chili dogs with all the fixens. Yet I took what was best about both companies hot dogs and made them better for anyone who eats venison. Below is a photo of the traditional way to eat a West Virginia Slaw Dog. Yes, to any one who is wondering, you eat cole slaw on top of the hot dog chili in West Virginia and it is a wonderful combo.

anatomy of a west virginia dog

We are not going to change the line up of the Slaw Dog we are just going to Change the ingredients in the chili. I prefer the home-made venison version because it is a little more on the spicy side.  This is the final version of what we love to make and eat with a large group in the summer time with fresh roasted wieners.

Hilly Billy Venison Hot Dog or Venison Slaw dog

Hilly Billy Venison Hot Dog or Venison Slaw dog

The idea and basic recipe for my chili actually came from Elkins West Virginia through Toms Dad more than 25 years ago. I worked on the idea with venison and came up with this.

Hilly Billy Venison Hot Dog Chili.

2 pounds ground Venison

1/2 cup yellow onion

1 1/2 cups ketchup

3 tablespoons yellow mustard

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/8 cup white vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1  1/2  Tablespoons chili power

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Hot sauce to taste  I usually add about one or two teaspoons.

3/4 cup water

Ground venison with onions and water

Ground venison with onions and water

1. Chop one half of onion and 3/4 cup water add to ground venison in large skillet. Cooking the meat is a small amount of water keeps the meat for forming large chucks that would make the chili lumpy it also thins the Ketchup some to making the chili have a more traditional hot dog style texture. If you choice to use hamburger in this recipe either use the best burger you can afford or be prepared to see fat floating on the water later in cooking. Cook this mixture over med heat until meat is smooth and brown.

2. Add ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper,chili powder, garlic salt and cloves. Simmer the mixture and blend everything together until a smooth texture is achived.The resulting mixture should look much like this. Cloves added to chili darken the chili and add a spicy sweetness to the salty richness of the venison and I highly recommend trying it.

Venison hot dog chili

Venison hot dog chili

3. Taste the chili and add a little hot sauce at a time to get the desired heat you want from the chili. Red pepper flakes could substitute for hot sauce but they seem to add more heat than flavor.

4. Simmer mixture for about 15 minutes.

5. Serve chili with home-made cole slaw that is on the sweet side. We make ours fresh with cabbage, and a simple dressing made from Miracle Whip, white vinegar, and white sugar. About 1/4 head of cabbage to 1/2 cup miracle whip, 1 Tablespoon vinegar, to 1/4 cup white sugar. We like ours on the creamy side and on the sweet side.

6. Warm hot dog buns and simmer wieners. We split the wieners in half to allow for more chili in the bun add fresh finely chopped onions and a squirt of yellow mustard and eat.

This recipe makes enough chili for ten chili dogs with half wieners you maybe able to get a few more if you use a regular size wieners.

hot dog assembly line minus the chili

hot dog assembly line minus the chili

Coming from Colorado I had never eaten a hot dog with cole slaw before or for that matter I did not really like slaw. It was a pleasant surprise when I tried my first slaw on a pork BBQ sandwich and even better on the chili dog. I think the reason why it is so good together is the salty richness of the chili mixed with the sweet creaminess of the slaw. In my version I get added flavor from the venison against the spices and you have a sweet, salty, spicy,combo.

Categories: Chili, cooking, country cooking, Venison, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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