Monthly Archives: January 2016

The 1800’s Mansion on the Hill, The Lewis County Library,Weston WV

Time stands still every time I have the opportunity to spend time in this historic mansion. Lewis County, West Virginia is one of a few communities that have taken on the major task of making one of their county’s most historic buildings useful in modern times. The Louis Bennett Memorial Public Library is a grand house built by local craftsmen with local materials between 1874-1876. It represents the “Can Do Spirit” of the West Virginia people. With its massive size (4 stories) and grand features(12 foot ceilings) it allows visitors to imagine what life would have been like for the very wealthy who could live in such large homes.

front of Louis Bennett Library

Front of Louis Bennett Memorial Library from the Court Street View. The white enclosed porch was the normal family entrance and the grand double front doors were rarely used.

4 story mansion donated to the city of Weston,WVG for use as a llibrary

4 story mansion donated to the city of Weston,WV for use as a library in 1922.

 

Senator Jonathan McCally Bennett had the huge home built overlooking the downtown area of Weston, West Virginia after his home at the same site burned to the ground. The  replacement home is in the Italianate style with 20 rooms and built by the Parkersburg architect Columbus B. Kirkpatrick. At the time this may have been the first house in Lewis County the used a real architect for its construction. The construction contained 125,000 bricks and 209 handmade windows, one that is round and ruby-red in the tower. The large house is heated with two main chimneys with 6 fireplaces not including the kitchen chimney with two fireplaces used for cooking in the rear half of the house.  The home became plumped for illuminating gas at the end of 1875 making it one of only two buildings to have gas lighting throughout at that time. The other building with gas illumination at the time was the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum only a few blocks from main street and easily visible from the front porches of the Bennett’s new home.

On June 21,1875 Jonathan and his wife Margaret moved into the residence while some construction continued on some of the finer details. The cost of the mansion is stated as $4,000 in 1876 and converts to about $450,000.00 + in today’s market. Sadly after a decade of life in the grand house Margaret Bennett succumb to heart problems and died in 1886. Then to the dismay of their 4 children Jonathan M. Bennett passed away a year later. The house was left to their 4 children and eventually placed into the care of their son Louis. The home remained in their hands until the death of Louis Sr, and of Louis Jr, his son during World War I. These two deaths within a month of each other drove Mrs. Bennett to make arrangements for the houses donation to Lewis County for use at the first Public Library. In 1922 the home transferred hands and Mrs Bennett moved to Europe. The home has since been used as a Library and meeting area for the community of Weston and all of Lewis County.

When visiting the massive building your first view of the inside of the building is of the grand hall on the main floor with the staircase and upgraded chandelier that was once a gas light fixture. The County has tried very hard to leave the home as close to “lived in” condition as possible adding only what is necessary to make the building safe and warm.

Main hall with a view of the front doors and Chandelier

Main hall with a view of the front doors and chandelier at the Louis Bennett Memorial Library.

The remaining rooms on the main floor are two parlors, a dining room, kitchen, and small library. The two parlors are home to the circulation desk, the main collection of fiction books and computers. The library room is used as a small meeting room/ reading room. The dining room and kitchen areas are for the children’s books and the nonfiction collections.

Main staircase and entry of the Louis Bennett Memorial Library

Main staircase and entry of the Louis Bennett Memorial Library.

The second level of the mansion includes what the Bennett’s used Bedrooms. Again off of a main hall the second floor housed 4 bedrooms two for the parents and two for the girls and boys. Today the wall between two of the rooms is removed to make a large meeting area where we have our book club meetings. The other rooms are now two offices and a bathroom.

My book club meeting in the second floor meeting room with Christopher

My book club meeting in the second floor meeting room with Christopher.

The third floor housed the servants quarters with three main rooms and a bathroom and door way for the tower. The third floor has individual rooms for selling used books and is full of donations for fund-raising for the library.

Christopher in the Attack of the Louis Bennett Library. Front peak room full of used Children's books

Christopher in the Attack of the Louis Bennett Library. Front peak room full of used children’s books.

Third story bathroom in the Louise Bennett Library

Third story bathroom in the Louise Bennett Library.

The tower also held small rooms for servants or children. The middle room of the tower has two balconies for viewing the sights of the growing town and a small drawing-room at the top surrounded by windows on all  four sides. The public is not allowed into the tower any more and the head Librarian states that its maintenance is major concern.

Rear view and main entry into Lewis Bennett Memorial Library

Rear view and main entry into Lewis Bennett Memorial Library

This small library serves a county of about 16,500 people and is one of the most beautiful buildings along the downtown area. For our family and many others this is the only library with in the county and is one of the very few places that the public had free access to computers and internet. This old house serves a very vital role in Lewis County and I happy to see is still open to the public and being used everyday. I am proud user and supporter of this wonderful building and hope that more people of my local area see how important it is to try to preserve it.

Entry way of the Louis Bennett Library

Entry way of the Louis Bennett Library

All factual information on the construction of the house is gathered from a booklet by Otis and Betty Reed of Weston West Virginia, Titled ” The Building of the Jonathan McCally Bennett Mansion in Weston”. Copyrighted 1997,by the Friends of the Louise Bennett Public Library,inc. The information is used with permission of the the Head Librarian Karen Enderele, 2016.

Categories: Books, Country life, historic locations, Lewis Bennett Library, West Virginia, Weston | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 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

Lives of Service, The Gulf War and Americorps

Thomas Powers In Germany in Recovery Tank

Thomas Powers In Germany in Recovery Tank

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

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

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

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

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

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

New River Gorge Bridge with fall folage 2000 by jolynn powers

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

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

Poblano Peppers and Home Canned Chili Verde.

Last year after our move, I was finally able to get a small garden in the back yard. The year was rainy and not everything that I planted grew well but the peppers seemed to like the wet, hot weather. I had wanted to add chili peppers to our garden for a couple of years but worried that the amount of rain in West Virginia gets would hinder their growth.Usually people think of the high arid deserts when you hear about chilies and hot peppers. Well let me say that my Ancho/Poblano chilies did very well last summer and by the end of Sept. I was over run with chilies. Here is a photo of the largest pepper plant I have ever raised it stood 4 1/2 feet tall and at one time had 22 chilies growing on it branches at one time. Eventually, Tom and I had to stake the pepper due to the fact that they were so heavy with fruit we were afraid that the stocks would break. In this photo you can see our plant touches the top of a 4 foot fence and we had not staked this plant yet.

Pablano/Ancho pepper plants in the Buckhannon, WV garden 2015

Poblano/Ancho pepper plants in the Buckhannon, WV garden 2015.

So what do you do with all these Chilies…. you make Chili Verde Sauce. Chili Verde is a stew like dish that comes from Northern Mexico. Green Chili is traditionally made with pork, hot to mild Chili peppers and Tomatillos . It can be eaten as dip, stew, or condiment like its brother Salsa. Our family loves it over burritos and over eggs in a dish called Huevos Rancheros. I also make a slow cooker pork roast with a Chili Verde dressing.

This winter when I broke open a jar of the Chili Verde, I remembered that wanted to share how to pressure can Chili Verde with all of you, using home-grown peppers from your garden. The process requires a pressure canner due to the use of pork in the ingredients.

Poblano peppers are a medium heat  chili pepper and these are still at the green stage.When fully ripened and red it is an Ancho pepper and is often dried and used as a crushed hot pepper. I used 12 to 15 peppers for this recipe.

2 1/2 pounds Pork butt or shoulder cut into small cubes

1 large onion

13 small Pablano peppers or 6 large peppers, roasted, seeded, skinned and chopped = 2 cups

2 Jalapeno peppers chopped whole for heat, remove seeds for mild

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic =to about 3 cloves of garlic

1 pound Tomatillos, roasted,skinned and chopped or 16 oz jar Tomatillo salsa

1/4 cup wine vinegar

3 cups chicken stock

1 can diced tomatoes

2 Tablespoons salt

1 Tablespoon black pepper

2 teaspoons cumin, oregano, dry cilantro… if using fresh Tomatillos double these.

makes about 8 pints, cook time 75 minutes for pints and 90 for quarts,prep time 15 mintues.

Sink full of pablano chili peppers read to roast.

Sink full of poblano chili peppers read to roast.

The first step in cooking with any chili pepper is to roast them. I roasted trays of peppers in the oven this summer. The main requirement is to char the skin of the pepper on all sides and then place them in a container to sweat, making the skin easy to remove. Some people use paper bags some use a bowel with plastic wrap, I use a bowel with a tight lid and cook my peppers at a temperature around 400 degrees. Watching carefully to make sure I am not setting the broiled peppers on fire. It takes about 10 minutes to roast 12 to 15 peppers on a cookie sheet at one time.

Peppers chard and bowl with a lid to sweat after being removed from my oven.

Peppers charred and bowl with a lid to sweat after being removed from my oven.

I then remove the stems, most of the seeds and skins from the peppers. Letting them cool as I prepare the canning portion of this project.

1. I prepare 8 pint jars, lids, and rings for this batch of Verde sauce. Washing and sanitizing the jars and keeping the rings and lids in hot water until ready to used.

2 1/2 pound pork shoulder or roast.

2 1/2 pound pork shoulder or roast.

2. I dice the pork meat into bite size pieces making sure they will pass through the neck of a canning jar. I add  the meat to a 8 quart stock pot with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and cook over med heat. The meat does not have to be done all the way through, the rest of the cooking will  finish while in the canner, but this does remove excess fat from the pork. Add salt and pepper and stir before setting aside. Drain away all fat but one tablespoon.

3. To the Tablespoon fat add chopped chilies, Jalapeno peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute this mixture for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, tomatillos, vinegar and spices.  Simmer on med heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

chili verde simmering on stove

Chili Verde simmering on stove.

What I used instead of fresh Tomatillos

What I used instead of fresh Tomatillos.

Where I live in rural West Virginia it is hard to find fresh tomatillos and if you do find them they look like this. I did not want to drive 30 minutes to see if I could find them so I used this canned salsa to add the mild richness that they provide in a dish.

Cut tomatillos

Cut tomatillos

They would need  roasted and chopped before being added to the stock pot.

4. After simmering for 15 to 20 minutes it is time to blend the sauce. I do not own a hand held blender so poured  mine into a blender a little at a time. I think this batch filled my blender three times. Blend for several minutes until smooth.

Blender full of green Chili

Blender full of green Chili

return to the stock pot and heat to boiling. The sauce must be hot when added to the jars so that the jars do not break when added to a pressure canner full of hot water.

5. Place browned pork into clean pint jars, filling at least half way to the top. We like more sauce so I use only fill mine 1/2.

6. Next ladle hot sauce over meat using a canning funnel and leaving a one inch head space. Use a rubber spatula to remove any air bubbles between meat. Wipe rim of jar and top with warm lid and rings. Process at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.

cleaning rim of jars before canning

Cleaning rim of jars before Canning.

Home made Chili Verde 2015

Home made Chili Verde 2015

This recipe can be made without the added pork if you do not want to add meat to the sauce. I never found any information on how long to process a meat free version so I would continue to process it for the recommended time.

So this weekend my husband and I were able to eat a wonderful breakfast with this sauce. I made two large plates of Huevos Rancheros with Chili Verde. I made them with a warm tortilla on the bottom, topped with refried beans, two fried eggs, chili verde, and shredded cheese. A spicy way to start the day and a great way for my family to eat up all of those hot peppers!

Huevos Rancheros for breakfast on a cold morning.

Huevos Rancheros for breakfast on a cold morning.

Categories: canning, gardening, pepper /chilies, peppers, Pork, seeds | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Adventures of Pruning an Old Grape Vine.

Over the last 25 years trying to live close to the land in West Virginia, I have had several adventures with grape vines. I love the vines for their wildness. I sometimes wonder if the wild muscadine vines here are kin to roaches or coyotes because of their staying power. I think one day they will take over the world after some crazy annihilation of the human race. They are truly the winding, twirling, fast growing vines of folktales and do real destruction if left on their own.

Twisted grape vine hanging in tree. Webster County, West Virginia

Twisted grapevine hanging in tree. Webster County, West Virginia.

Tom in front of broken tree covered in grape vine, Lewis County West Virginia

Tom in front of broken tree covered in grapevine. Lewis County, West Virginia

Grapevine taking over ball catch at Jane Lew Park 2013

Grapevine taking over ball catch at Jane Lew Park,West Virginia  2013.

They also produce an easy to grow fruit that almost everyone likes, grapes. Grapes make so many wonderful tasting things that is almost impossible for me to picture my country life with out them. So when we bought the “new to us house” last year, one of the things I wanted to grow was concord grapes. We had been able to take care of the family farm for several years and Tom’s dad had several concord grape vines established when we moved in. I quickly learned how to make grape jelly and concord grape juice from the old vines. So, some kind of grape vines were on my wish list when we were looking for a new home. The exciting part for me is that this house had a grapevine… what kind of grapes no one knew. The vine was over grown and not well staked. So I had part of my wish answered but a lot of work to get it into shape.

A Single tangled grapevine at the house in Buckhannon

A single tangled grapevine at the house in Buckhannon,West Virginia.

I started my pruning at the recommended time ( late fall to late winter) after the vine had gone dormant. The temperature outside was around 50 degrees when I started working on getting the single vine back in shape. The vine had been let go so long that I found several vine tendrils had re-rooted on their own over the years.These sprouts needed to stay attached to the ground if I wanted over half the vine to remain alive. This complicates things, none of the gardening guides or books said anything about this problem.It often happens and is natures way to reproduce another grapevine. I did the best I could with the off shoot and attempted what the guides offered for advice(not much on old vines by the way). I followed the main vine and marked off with tape three main branches from the original root-stock and tried to keep them and remove the rest. One of the re-rooted shoots was from the main three branches so I really needed to keep it. That shoot was going to make trellising the vine almost impossible.

The vine had grown so long that it was actually attacking a small ornamental tree in the yard. When we moved in I had cut all of the vine from the little tree in the early spring to stop it from covering it and knew I would need to do more work this winter. In the course of 6 months the tree was under attack again. Tendrils had reached to top of the 10 foot tree and covered half of the trees branches.In a matter of 3 years the tree would die from lack of light reaching the leaves and the choking action of the vine. Even domestic grapevines can be destructive if not maintained.

Knowing grapevines only fruit on year old stems, I had to keep some the young shoots if I wanted any fruit at all next year. I literally pulled, tugged and untwisted most of the vine on to the ground to find were each branch went. Most of the vine had no outside support so this made pruning easy. I started to cut back everything that was old, dead or just to long. I removed about 3/4 of the old growth off the vine. The photo below shows the freed end of the arbor, ready for new growth.

Pruned concord grapevine

Pruned concord grapevine.

I will likely only get five or six bunches of grapes this year because I removed so much of the vine this winter. Then the following year ( year 2) I should have 20 bunches of grapes if the weather allows.  After the third year I will be back to prune the vine again. My local extension office suggests pruning  almost every year on wine grapes or grapes that have been well-tended. I think in my case every two or three years should keep the vine healthy and looking full.

I plan to add another vine to the other end of the arbor this summer. A grape that could be used for fresh eating and wine making. Concord grapes are hardy in the cold but grow small and sour fruit. Just try eating the beautiful purple fruit raw…ooo… it takes a heck of a person to chew the tart skin and chew up the large seeds. I am hoping that adding a pink or red grape will add to what I can do with them.

In the future I hope to write a post about my home-made concord grape jelly made from the fruit of this very vine. I will be working hard to remove all the weeds and briers that moved in under the vines.I will be using our bunnies for fertilizer to help them grow stronger.I just hope the summer proves my pruning was a successful, that the vine is now healthy and providing my family with fresh fruit and juices.

Categories: Country life, DIY, Grapevines, Homestead, Jelly, pruning, rabbits | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Believe Me, I am not a Journalist!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

German beer glass Circa 1987 Happy Beer New Year 2016

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

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

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

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

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