Category Archives: Words

Normantown/Stumptown News: January Week 2

The wind not only has my wind chimes ringing consistently, but is also bringing down many of the dead trees on the hillsides, most of them being ash trees hit by the Emerald Ash Borer a few years back. The wind has been consistent all week, though the weather? Snow, rain, sunshine, and temperatures varying between 34 and 68 degrees. I’m not a big fan of winter, but this doesn’t feel like winter.

I saw Mr. Holiday (the resident eagle) Friday evening when Daisy (beagle) and Dandelion (tabby cat) and I took our evening walk around the lake out back. He flew over the farm, and then landed at the edge of one of the lower ponds and began picking minnows out of the water. He was across the water from the horses in that penned area, and I could see he was clearly as large as a horse’s head. Mr. Holiday is definitely an adult, and though I’m convinced he carried off our last hen, he is a magnificent sight. Someone recently saw an eagle over on Spruce, and though I know that’s not too far from here as the eagle flies, I’m wondering if it’s the same one.

With the eagle on the lower pond, the ducks came to the lake out back as dusk, as they usually do, and their arrival is one of the highlights of my day. I love to watch them arrive and fuss about when they all swoop in every evening. Dozens of ducks come to spend the night, my favorite being the Buffleheads, which remind me of saddle shoes. Buffleheads don’t “quack” like you would assume, they sound more like Fozzy Bear on the Muppet Show—“wokka wokka wokka.”

I have also noticed a new cat has been dropped off and adopted us. This does not make me happy. Dandelion, our tabby, was the kitten of a “drop-off” who had several litters in one year. Frank agreed to let me keep her, provided she would be an “outside” cat. Well, she spends a good amount inside, but she doesn’t require a litter box. She asks to go out when she needs to, just like the dog.

We do have another cat as well, but don’t tell my husband. Another drop-off adopted us several years ago–a “tuxedo” cat, black with a white bib and white paws that I named “Bandit.” Bandit survives on his own for the most part, and only appears every now and then. I think he might live around the neighbor’s house somewhere.  In the winter, I may put out some food for him (again, don’t tell on me), and both Daisy and Dandelion have come to ignore him (I won’t go so far as to say “accept” him). He’s no trouble, and as I said, minds his own business and causes no trouble.

The new drop-off is an ugly mottled brown, hangs around too close to the house, and fights with Dandelion and Bandit both. I can’t get close enough to see if it is male or female, and Dandelion is tired of getting her butt kicked in her own yard. I wish all animal owners were responsible animal owners. We don’t want your discard cats.

I hear basketball is kicking up again at Normantown Historical Community Center again on Tuesday nights at 6 p.m., and Zumba is Monday and Thursday.  Sandra Beall will be leading a Dish Garden Craft Class on Saturday, January 18 at 10 a.m. which sounds like a really cool craft to me. Sandra will be providing the dirt and the plants, but you need to bring your own container (a glass, cup, bowl, casserole dish, even a flower pot if not too deep) and your own embellishments (rocks, dolls, sea shells, small toys, broken jewelry, little figurines, etc.) Sandra would really like to know if you are interested in coming, so she can better prepare. You can reach out to her on facebook, or comment on her announcement on the NHCC facebook page at facebook.com/groups/Blair58/.

Dues to join and support Normantown Historical Community Center are $10.00, due this month. Donations can be made online at https://nhccwv.com, or mailed to: NHCC, 3031 Hackers Creek Road, Jane Lew 26378, c/o Margaret.

If you have any 25267 news you would like me to share, send email to hayesminney@gmail.com, or leave a message on our machine at 304-354-9132.

Normantown/Stumptown News: December Week 3

When I first moved to this area twenty-plus years ago, I did not give the Little Kanawha River the respect it deserves. I grew up in Marietta, Ohio where the Muskingum River flows into the Ohio River—where barges, paddle-wheels, houseboats, speed boats, canoes, and blow-up rafts can all share the waters. I looked at the Little Kanawha when I moved here in August and saw that I could walk across it without getting my knees wet.

“Pfft,” I said. “That’s not a river.”

“Big” rivers, like the Muskingum and Ohio are impressive in many ways, but they are predictable. They rise and fall slowly, and by calculating rain amounts and river levels upstream, one can easily determine how high the water will get and when. The Ohio River will never “sneak up” on you. My father had a business on the main street near the Muskingum, and I remember having an entire day to lift and move valuables, “just in case,” only to watch the slowly rising water crest just below the top stair at the front door. I was almost disappointed. We spent the evening putting everything back where it belonged.

When I heard the tales of the flood of ‘85 (and again in ‘86 here in Stumptown), I imagined those floods were flukes, freak occurrences that happen once in a blue moon. I have since learned that like blue moons, floods are more common than I thought.

When Frank and I moved to the farm and he told me how high the floodwaters could get on the property, I was still skeptical. I simply could not imagine the creek below the road ever reaching my house. And then the floodwaters came, and I found myself wading up the driveway, watching a hay bale float by.

The Little Kanawha River and area creeks and streams can easily be underestimated. They are sneaky creatures that can rise overnight, become powerful, and spread with a speed that quickly catches you off guard. And run-off water? You never think about how water flows across fairly flat land, how it can create new stream paths and puddles that grow into ponds.

My memories of flooding along the Ohio are timed in the spring. Those were the days when feet of snow fell in winter, and spring melt with spring rain spelled bad news. But my memories of flooding here all seem to be when it’s cold and gray and not the best time to be wet. I often wonder if it’s because winter brings more rain now it seems, and is more a season of mud than snow. My insulated mud boots are now some of my most valued possessions.

This time of year, especially when precipitation seems to last for days, I find myself tuned in to the fork of Steer Creek that flows along Rosedale Road. Even in the dark of night, I can tell by the moon’s reflection on the water’s surface if the creek is flowing high or low. I can estimate, by evaluating the water’s depth, the amount of rain that has fallen, and the amount of rain yet to come–if I need to get out the mud boots. I also know, when a large amount of rain falls in a short period of time if run-off waters might seep through our basement.

The 169-mile Little Kanawha River drains approximately 2,160 square miles of northern and central West Virginia. It is the largest watershed in the state, and in the mid-1800s, was also known as the “River of Evil Spirits” because of the number of people who died when canoes capsized in the river whirlpools. I think of that sometimes when the water’s up.

While it may seem odd to think of flooding during the winter season, a significant number of the record flood levels for the Little Kanawha were recorded November through January. The famed flood of 1985 occurred on November 5, and record-high waters were recorded in Decembers of 1944, ‘45, ‘48, ‘49, ‘56, ‘70, ‘71, ‘72, ‘73, ‘78, ‘79, ‘90, and ‘91. In fact, more historic floods have happened here between October and March than in the spring.

No matter what time of year, we have our lives prepared for high water. I no longer want carpet in the basement, and I work with area rugs that can be rolled up easily if (when) necessary. We have 4’x4’ planks of wood the width of certain appliances, and keep them handy in the basement closet for when rains pour more than an inch in a few hours and we need to lift things off the floor. If the rains keep coming, then we venture out to check on the creek below.

When rising, this fork of Steer Creek first crosses Rosedale Road at the end of our driveway, and we take note of the time and location of the water’s edge. We contemplate the factors and try to determine if the mailbox will disappear and we kick into high gear, or if the waters will crest before we reach that emergency mode. We watch the waters rise, and wait for the rains to cease. There’s a balance point in those moments that valley-dwellers recognize as the difference between another round of high waters and a serious situation.

Not much of a holiday message is it? Happy holidays and high water, ho ho ho? But wet weather like we’ve been having of late brings my watershed concerns to mind. Even so, colorful lights, Christmas carols, and smiling faces are enough to lift my spirits and I’m looking forward to visiting my family this season.

Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise.

Normantown Historical Community Center served 92 families representing 216 people at the monthly food pantry in December.  Thanks to Mountaineer Food Bank for their contributions, and to the local volunteers who make it happen. Dues to join and support the organization are still $10.00, due in January. Donations can be made online at https://nhccwv.com.

Kudos to the folks helped their neighbor out of his burning home on Rosedale Road. You’re heroes in my book, and that just shows what kind of folks live here in our community.

If you have any 25267 news you would like me to share, send email to hayesminney@gmail.com, message me through facebook, or leave a message on our machine at 304-354-9132.

Normantown / Stumptown News December Week 2

    My wind chimes on the porches have been active this season. In the still of summer, I almost forget that we have them. How nice that their music is whipped up by the winds that come after all the songbirds of summer have gone. The only bird sound now is the call of crows and the squawking of starlings. The bald eagles that visited the farm for Thanksgiving left right after the holiday, and we have not seen them since. As I expected, the ducks, heron, and kingfisher returned once the eagles moved on.

      I recently learned that 400 songbirds have gone extinct in my lifetime, many of them due to rat and mouse poisons. Traditional rat poisons dehydrate the critter, sending it out in a slow, torturous search for water. In their weakened, slow state, they are prime prey for birds. There is a different option – a poison based on an overdose of synthetic Vitamin D, Cholecalciferol.  This poison is toxic to children and pets as well as rodents, but not to birds who eat the dying rodents. Please consider the Vitamin D option in any future purchases.

     My evening commute is now after dark, but I was tickled by the Christmas lights folks have put up in Normantown when I rounded the bend one evening last week. Albus Dumbledore (from Harry Potter) said, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Frank and I don’t put up outside lights, but for the first time in several years without, I put up our Christmas tree this year. Our artificial tree is huge and takes several days to assemble, attach lights (I like lots of lights), repair and place the ornaments (some were my grandmother’s), and then apply the icicles. I’m an icicle girl, and I remember when those suckers were lead–REAL metal with WEIGHT. Now, I’m lucky if I can find a pack of cheap plastic ones that are drawn to pets, passers-by and my vacuum cleaner by static cling every time we come near. Pretty soon metallic, shimmery tree icicles will fade completely into the past, and our Christmas Tree will never be the same again.

     Normantown has five boys who compete for Calhoun Youth Wrestling. Their program is having a Pancakes and Pictures with Santa Fundraiser Friday, December 13, from 6-8 p.m. at the Arnoldsburg Community Building to help cover costs associated with competing across the state. The pancake dinner is $5 per plate, and photos with Santa are $6 each. These boys work hard all season and are great representatives of Normantown. Don’t pancakes sound good? You should go have some.

     Normantown Historical Community Center is planning to have Crafts for Kids every month. The first class was held on December 7. You can follow their Facebook page or visit nhccwv.com for details on future classes. Good things are happening at the center, but more help is always needed. The facilities need maintenance and repairs, and all efforts need funding. A membership form is available on the web site, and a page where you can donate funds online. Members receive a 25% discount at Center events.

      Jeff Lowe has some lovely slabs of cherry wood for sale, visible when you pump gas at Fred’s Store. With the bark still around the edges, they also have an interesting grain. One slab is 25x56x4” and, in my opinion, would make a lovely coffee table.

      A local father and his young son spent more than 80 hours in the woods recently, waiting patiently for the right buck to come along for the young one to get. The son scored his biggest buck yet. Several traps in the Stumptown area were tripped by deer or were intentionally tripped for the safety of hunters coming in. However, the coyote population of the area is still being reduced. Trapping coyotes is a service to all of us, for the safety of our pets and local livestock. More than once my beagle and I have happened upon a lone coyote on our walks, and one time we happened upon a pack – puppies being trained to hunt in the deep hollow. Another time, we spooked a doe who, in bounding away from us, leap-frogged over a coyote who was drinking from the water. There simply is just too many of them, and for me, they’re getting a little too close.

      Daytona Wine called to wish our region and all of West Virginia a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  If you read the obituaries, you would note that our community has lost significant loved ones recently, through illness and accident. Please take time this holiday season to spend time with your family and friends, and let them know how much they matter.

     If you have any 25267 news you would like me to share, send email to hayesminney@gmail.com, message me through facebook, or leave a message on our machine at 304-354-9132.

Normantown/Stumptown News – Week of Thanksgiving

I have been asked by some folks affiliated with the Normantown Historical Community Center if I would report on our community’s news and events for the local media outlets, and I am more than happy to do so. I hope everyone in the 25267 region will feel free to send me their announcements, news, prayer requests, community questions, whatever to share. You can send your information to me via Facebook messenger, to my email at ‘hayesminney@gmail.com’, or leave a message on our machine at 304.354.9132.

I am reluctant to suggest calling, because our phone service was a bit wonky this past month. We were unable to receive incoming calls from long-distance phone numbers or cell phone numbers. When someone outside 354 tried to call, our phone would ring about half a normal ring, and then disconnect. If I was lucky and caught the phone right after the half-ring, I could catch the call before it disconnected. Since so many of our friends are 462 or 655 and all my family is long-distance, this was quite frustrating for me. Also, this is not the first time this has happened over the past several years. I was once told by a previous Frontier Communications repair man that the problem is at the hub at the end of Rosedale Road. I’m prone to believe him, since the last two times this issue was corrected, a repair man never came near our house.

Since trapping season started, a local fellow has caught five coyote and one red fox on property on the town side of Normantown Hill, and two coyote and one red fox in the Stumptown area. We have had trouble with coyotes here on the farm in the last few years, and I’ve come to believe we have a pair who mate and train their pups here. Two years ago, I was walking with Daisy (our beagle) and we came upon two full size coyotes and five young. That was the year I began making sure I was prepared for anything when Daisy and I go off for a walk.

Last week, during our walk, I heard a rushing of air over my head, and turned to see a bald eagle fly over. An adult bald eagle is 2½ feet in length and has a wingspan of 6½ -7 feet, and this one was beautiful, wings spread as he flew through the treetops on the hillside, rising and rising until he circled over the hay fields. After surveying the farm, he rode the wind even higher, and within minutes was out of sight towards Russett. I have heard folks say they have seen eagles around Cedar Creek State Park, and since that’s not too far from us “as the crow flies” and the eagle came from that direction, I assume there’s a relation somehow. This is not the first time I have spotted eagles here. This summer, I saw a pair in the treetop on the island in the lake here on the farm. The local heron was quite upset by their presence and raised a ruckus, and within a few minutes, they flew away.

It’s that time of year, and Log Cabin Crafts will be having their annual Christmas Open House Saturday, November 30, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. This is Deloris’ 30th year of business and she will be open this holiday season Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. unless appointments take her away for the day. Feel free to call ahead if traveling long distance: 304.462.8341.

In December, Zumba starts again at Normantown Historical Community Center! Mondays and Thursdays from 6-7 p.m., the suggested $5 donation per class goes directly to supporting the center. On December 03 from 6-8 p.m. NHCC is hosting a Winter Paint Party, where attendees can paint a lovely winter scene. The cost is $35 per person and includes art supplies and instruction. There must be 20 people minimum present to hold the event, but there is only room for 30 seats total. A large portion of the profits will support the center.

The Little Free Library at Fred’s Store was recently stocked with books. The mini library is nearly overflowing with adult fiction, young adult fiction, westerns, romances, and kid’s books. Many of the new additions are hard back books, and as of Friday of last week, two Bibles were available. All the books in the mini library are free for the taking, and you can add books as well!

Also, Michael Moore is offering a $500 cash reward to anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who stole a 700 Artic Cat ATV (camo) from the Moore Camp at the head of Wolf Pen Run between September 01 and 20. If you have information for Mr. Moore, call 304.549.4025.

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that I have been selected to write for our community. I assume most folks ‘round here know who I am, but if you need to know more, visit Lhayesminney.com. Again, please feel free to contact me with any news or announcements you would like to share.

Back in the Groove

After finishing my graduate work in Creative Writing, I was completely sapped, and didn’t write anything for a good long while. (Except personal letters, I’m a dedicated pen pal.) I share this because several others who have graduated from the low-residency program at WVWC I attended have had similar dry spells.

My personal “writer’s block” was compounded when ten months after graduating, I relinquished a dedicated audience of an average 40,000 readers a month that took me ten years to build. Who is my audience now? Three hundred facebook page followers? Ouch. What next for Stumptown Publishing? What next for me as a creative? As a writer? I had, by giving up the magazine and trimming my personal friends list to develop a professional page following–pretty much wiped the audience slate clean. All I can say is, “It had to be done.”

Three years. Three. Years. Three years I’ve been stuck in a creative impasse. Three years of adult coloring books, crappy writing prompt responses, bullet journal work to prompt something… anything. No sewing, no writing, no physical response to minute flashes of inspiration.

I rearranged furniture. Got a new laptop. New pens, new notebooks, new nail polish, new hair color, new hair cut. New clothes. Three years seeking any method that would crack the dam and open the flow again. I’m a project person who had no creative projects or output for 1095 days.

I asked questions. Am I good enough? Am I an academic? Have I written myself out? Is the well dry? What to do with my business? What to do with what I’ve done? Should I teach? Seek a publisher? Self-publish? What to do with what sits unfinished? What now?

Damn. It’s been a long three years.

Last month, the block cracked. I updated my web site and relaunched my quarterly email newsletter. (You can sign up for that on here on this web site.) Behind the scenes I began working on a book–a collection of my favorite columns from ten years of Two-Lane Livin’. I expect to have it available before Christmas.

I also have a book previously published that I’ll be reissuing–a collection of my columns from four years as a small-town newspaper reporter and columnist. I’ll be adding thoughts and reflections to those for this issue. I expect that to be completed by spring.

I have two other books (a poetry collection and a photo book) I will also be reissuing at some point, and I’m drafting a non-fiction how-to book I had outlined before entering graduate school.

In the background, the long piece from my thesis sits. It’s been through two revisions, and has been presented to three editors/reviewers for feedback. It’s percolating right now, and I’m okay with that.

And–I’m at the early, early phase of a multimedia project. A gonna-take-me-all-winter project. A gonna-have-to-do-some-research project. But I’m totally lit about it. It’s a new creative/career direction I’ve been presented little hints about over the last few years when nothing else was happening.

This project-driven person has got some projects going! W00t! I finally got my groove back.

You have no idea how good it feels to be working (creatively) again.