Tag Archives: normantown

A Good Year for Tomatoes

Finally, it’s tomato time. We haven’t had a garden in a few years, but 2020 seems the time to revert to some of our prepper tendencies. The four hens I purchased this spring should start laying soon, and I hear the “pop” of jars sealing on pizza sauce downstairs.

There’s a comfort in a full pantry, one that many in this world do not have. Pizza is my go-to meal when I’m feeling too lazy to cook, and I know from past years, we simply cannot can enough. Every pint jar is enough for three or four pizzas, three or four meals.

Normantown Historical Community Center recently held an online auction as a fundraiser, selling off all the things Gilmer County Schools left behind when they closed Normantown Elementary School. Desks, books, file cabinets, lockers, sinks, shelves, chalkboards, and whiteboards, etc. When I visited the center to make arrangements to pick up the item I won (a set of lockers for 20 bucks), I was offered a tour of the facility.

The Community Center was cruisin’ along when COVID came along. Monthly craft classes, weekly basketball night, exercise classes, and more. A clothing closet, and also, the food pantry. For the most part, everything came to a halt in the spring–and all focus turned to the food pantry.

After seeing the set up for the food pantry, I now understand why people begin lining up at 7 a.m. on the second Friday of every month. I understand why traffic has lined up on Route 33, and why Normantown draws people from at least four counties on pantry days.

The food pantry in Normantown is a tremendous operation. Without restriction, anyone can drive through and be provided enough food–meats, cheeses, pasta, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, pies, cereals, and more—to last at least a month (depending on the size of your household). I cannot even imagine the volunteer effort required to manage the pantry itself, much less the one day a month the pantry is open.

During my recent tour, I was also told they are considering re-opening the Clothing Closet. While the room that serves as the closet smells a tad musty from being closed so long, the items I saw available were in good shape, even though they may need washing. Though it is 93 degrees today and tomatoes cook down on the stove, winter is coming, and I saw a variety of nice coats available.

I work when the food pantry is open, but I am comforted by the full jars lining up in our pantry, and knowing if I truly need the pantry, it is there. Here, in my community. I am comforted knowing that others in our community have no need to be hungry, no need to be cold. Volunteers in our community are making sure of that.

As is in most places in West Virginia, the volunteer group trying to maintain these services and resources is older, from generations ingrained with the concept of giving back, of service to others. They can use assistance. At Normantown Center, a volunteer mows the yard, while another repairs pantry freezers, another writes grants to get the roofs repaired. Clothing donations for the Clothes Closet need sorting, rooms need the dead ladybugs swept out of the windowsills and up off the floor.

I have to wonder: how many of those who line up for the pantry those second Fridays ever return to give back?

If you need the Food Pantry or the Clothing Closet, I urge you to make use of them. What I witnessed was the set up of quality efforts, with significant choices and options. And whether you make use of them or not, I can see that our Community Center needs more volunteers. Can you push a broom? Run a weed eater? Unload a truck? I started this column to help promote the center, and though COVID has sidetracked some of their plans, it has done nothing to dampen their dedication or their efforts. Their organization meetings are the 2nd Tuesday of every month, and the 2nd Thursday and 2nd Friday—food pantry day and the day before—must be their days of greatest need.

When we look back at how COVID has changed us, and our society, I hope we can look back and say that 2020 was the year we stepped up, the year we recognized the importance of community, of family, of friendships, of time outdoors, of giving. In a year that seems destined to divide us, I hope the opposite is the actual result. I hope this becomes a year we can look back on as a time of fresh beginnings, and as a good year for tomatoes.

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If you would like information on Normantown Historical Community Center, visit nhccwv.com or facebook.com/groups/Blair58. You can subscribe to Lisa’s seasonal email newsletter at tinyurl.com/two-2020.

Thank You Very Much, But I’ve Had Enough Fear

I have recently been thinking a good bit about fear. When teaching Public Speaking to college students, my goal is to help them overcome their fear of speaking in front of people, their fear of judgment, of making mistakes. And over the last few weeks and months, we have all been facing and processing pandemic fear—infection fear, election fear, fear of losing our freedoms, fear of returning to school, fear of those who don’t wear masks, fear, fear, fear.

I have to say, I’ve had about enough of fear.

In 2017, Mary D. Moller, (Ph.D., DNP, ARNP, PMHCNS-BC, CPRP, FAAN), spoke at a session during the Neuroscience Education Institute (NEI) Congress. She discussed the physiology of fear and its long-term effects on human well-being. I recently read a summary of her presentation, and I learned what extended periods of fear can do to us.

There are three predictable stages the body uses to respond to stressors, called the general adaption syndrome. The first is, obviously, alarm. The first reaction to stress recognizes there’s a danger and prepares to deal with the threat. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system and autonomic nervous system are activated. Primary stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and nonadrenaline are released. This is the “fight or flight” response. I felt that in March when Governor Jim Justice shut the state down. I remember where I was, who I was with when I watched his quarantine press conference. Do you?

The second body reaction to fear is resistance. Homeostasis begins restoring balance in the body, and a period of recovery for repair and renewal takes place. Stress hormones (that fight or flight response) may return to normal–but there may be reduced defenses and adaptive energy left. We feel tired, less inspired, and our immune system is weak. I went through that too. All that quarantine project energy I had in March and April? The manic energy of May? Yeah, well, all that petered out about halfway through June. In July, I became a slug, sloughing through my days, binge-watching Netflix, and avoiding the heat. And now here we are in August.

The third stage of processing continual fear is exhaustion. At this phase, the stress has continued for some time. The body’s ability to resist is lost because its adaption energy supply is gone. This is often referred to as overload, burnout, adrenal fatigue, maladaptation, or dysfunction. I don’t think I’m in the third stage yet. Yes, I’m tired. Tired of masks, hand sanitizer, my due diligence to others’ recklessness. I’m tired of politics, tired of press conferences, tired of video meetings, tired of talking about it. I think of Madeline Kahn in the movie Blazing Saddles singing, “Tired, tired of playing the game, Ain’t it a crying shame, I’m so tired.” I’m tired of it all, but I’m not yet exhausted.

So, Dr. Moller, with her numerous degrees, also tells of the physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms of long-term fear. And you know, it isn’t good. The potential effects of chronic fear on overall health include immune system dysfunction, endocrine system dysfunction, autonomic nervous system alterations, sleep/wake cycle disruption, and eating disorders. I am sleeping well, but I’ve gotten quite tired of cooking. I had a boil (infected hair follicle) during July’s dog days, the first I have had since childhood. It was as unpleasant as I remember.

The potential effects of chronic fear on emotional health include dissociation from the self, inability to have loving feelings, learned helplessness, phobic anxiety, mood swings, and obsessive-compulsive thoughts, continued fear of leaving home because of paranoia. The potential consequences of chronic fear on spiritual health include bitterness or fear toward God or others, confusion or disgust with your higher power or religion, loss of trust in your higher power and/or clergy, inactivity or lack of responsibility while waiting for a higher power to fix the issues, despair related to a perceived loss of spirituality. Without making this into a sermon, I must say that I still have faith. I have always believed in some higher plan, though I may not understand it or like it. Plus, I’m more likely to place blame for most messes in this world to human error, narcissism, or greed.

I have a t-shirt in my closet that is now too small for me to wear, but I cannot part with it. On the front, it says, “fear less, hope more.” I’m trying to make that my mantra. I want to get past my defeatist prayers of “thy will be done,” and get to the point where I’m making plans and decisions – not based on fear but based on hope. I hope this virus ends. I hope for economic stability. I hope for a smooth election, a safe school year, more tomatoes, Christmas travel. I hope I don’t have to take the vaccine, I hope our country survives the election. I hope all of this passes. I hope.

I know that sounds cheesy, even as I write it. I’m a cynic at heart, with an inherent distrust of authority, traditional medicine, and government. I have faith in some people, but little faith in mankind. I see no reason to believe a higher power would favor us over the animals of the land and sea, or the flora and fauna we trample on. Even so, I cling to hope. I have had enough of fear this year.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not an anarchist or radical. I have every intention to remain vigilant and cautious. I have masks of all kinds and colors, and several face shields. I’ve got multiple bottles of hand sanitizer in my car, purse, home, and workplace and I use them. I will work, I will vote, I will live. Caution and diligence are not fear, and if there’s anything I am tired of–truly tired of–is fear.

Hope with me. Don’t lose your faith. I know you are scared of the classrooms, the virus, and the decisions our leaders are making. I know you fear being infected, quarantined, hungry, homeless. I don’t mean to dismiss any of that. But I try to remind myself, “this, too, shall pass away.”* Nothing, good or bad, lasts forever. The current situation will not last forever. “Fear not,” is in the Bible 365 times, and now that I know that long-term fear can do, I can understand why. The Renaissance followed the Black Plaque, and the Roaring Twenties followed WWII and the Spanish Flu. So we can hope that brighter times are coming.

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       *From a speech by Abraham Lincoln: “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: ‘And this, too, shall pass away.”

If you would like information on Normantown Historical Community Center, visit nhccwv.com or facebook.com/groups/Blair58. If you have any submissions for 25267 news, send an email to hayesminney@gmail.com. You can subscribe to my email newsletter at tinyurl.com/two-2020.

Normantown News — Martha and Her Goslings

I have named the goose nesting on the island in the lake behind our house Martha. As I have mentioned before, she took her position on that nest about the time we were quarantined. Martha laid one egg every one to two days, usually early in the morning, as geese do. She has not left the nest, to eat, drink, or bathe once the eggs started incubating. The gestation period is 28 to 30 days, so there should be some activity over there pretty soon.

The appearance of these goslings will be one of the highlights of our quarantine, right up there with painting the bedroom and putting purple highlights in my hair. I’ve been told only boring people get bored, but I am grateful for that goose and her pending goslings and monitor her every day from the back door window. A few days ago, I noticed that she had turned around on the nest, something she had not done in a month. The next day, she was fidgety, plucking and tucking the ground around her body.

I knew, when the male took up a guard position three feet from the nest, that something was happening. The female on the nest had poofed out her body, but remained with her head tucked back into her wings, but the male did not move. He did not pluck at the grasses, did not paddle around the lake, did not falter. For the most part, he had left the female alone for a month, but now he was diligently by her side.

The next morning, the nest was empty, and no geese or goslings to be seen. But, after 22 years of observing this spring ritual, I did not panic. Instead, I looked to the yard and the fields. Geese mate for life, and nest close to the same spot every spring. There has been at least one nest on the island every year since we moved here, so I go on the assumption that this couple has raised several broods on this lake. I likewise assume they know what I know: at least one massive snapping turtle lurks beneath the lake’s waters.

We witnessed the day, several years back when the snapper tried to pull a chicken-sized gosling off the bank of the island. It was large enough to dig into the mud with the free leg and flap its wings enough to keep from being pulled into the depths. But the turtle did not let go. To our amazement, the larger parents took turns, jumping on the turtle’s back, stomping on it, and pecking its head. This battle continued for nearly thirty minutes, and that was the day I learned: a snapper WILL let go. But, it takes a long and brutal beating before the turtle will admit defeat. That gosling grew up with a dysfunctional leg joint but is still living a normal goose life.

To my count, two snappers keep residence here in the warmer months, but the one is truly huge. The last time I caught him crossing the yard in the spring on his return to the lake, his shell alone was 15 inches long. Throw in the head and the tail and you’re looking at a two-foot snapper. Like most snappers, he has a surly attitude, and he can pull a gosling beneath the waters without so much as a ripple. This is why ducks don’t nest here. They have never adapted to the danger beneath the surface, and lose all ducklings, silently, within the first week. They’re just there paddling on the water, and then, with the slight sound of a raindrop, they’re gone.

But the geese who raise here and were raised here know the danger, and freshly hatched goslings are not taken to the water. Today they pluck around the yard, splashing in the puddles made by the second day of rain. Right now, the clan is high on the bank that runs the lower side of the lake, the father tall and diligently watching, the mother resting with her head partially tucked under her wings. But her eyes are open and she keeps them on the five goslings waddling around her body. Another goose has nested on the lower ponds, and that clan will keep their goslings closer to the water at first, though I haven’t seen signs of hatching yet at that nest. Eventually, when the goslings are all big enough, both clans will bring their young to the lake out back. Each year I watch to see if the turtle has goose for dinner.

So, the next phase of goose observation is just that – to see how many survive. This phase comes with mixed feelings because, in truth, geese are a nuisance around here. Goslings are cute for a very short period, then go through a rather ugly phase. Then they become geese. Geese are noisier than you can imagine and prefer mowed grass. Thus, goose poop is an issue in the yard. Also, their defecation in the lake increases the water’s nitrogen level, promoting the growth of problem water plants and duckweed. Duckweed looks like algae on the water’s surface but is actually a plant. It is spread by birds flying between ponds with the tiny plants clinging to their feathers. The plant is prolific and given enough nitrogen, can produce a new plant every 24 hours. In two weeks, a single plant can produce up to 17,500 more to cover the entire surface of the water.

It is difficult to root for the survival of all the goslings when I know I will come to hate them later. Sometimes, in years when the geese have especially large broods, I root for the turtle.

Normantown Historical Community Center’s May food pantry will be on Friday the 8th, for emergency box distribution. They will need the same volunteers as the April pantry, likely because they know the safety procedures. Thanks again to Parkersburg Area Community Foundation for their donation of food, and for the previously awarded grant to repair the roof on the brick concession building. Also thanks to Ken Roberts for his contribution.

Donations to NHCC can be made online at https://nhccwv.com/donation or mailed to NHCC, 3031 Hackers Creek Road, Jane Lew 26378, c/o Margaret. Donkey Basketball has been rescheduled for October 17th, 2020.

The Normantown School Alumni Association Reunion has been canceled. They are currently looking at Labor Day Weekend, Saturday, September 5, 2020, as a possible reschedule date. It will be appreciated if you could remit your Scholarship Fund contribution now so the program can grant its award on schedule rather than waiting. For more information, contact Gary Smith. I see also that the Gilmer County High School All-Class Reunion has been cancelled.

Have you submitted your 2020 Census questionnaire yet? This is the first time in my working-age life that I have not worked for the Census when it came to town. The results determine how much federal funding flows into West Virginia each year, and your completed questionnaire can be worth more than $22,000 in federal funding to our state. You can respond online, via phone, or by mailing in your questionnaire. https://2020census.gov/

If you have any 25267 area news you would like to share or any personal messages you want to be posted in local media, send an email to hayesminney@gmail.com or leave a message on our machine at 304-354-9132. I also have a seasonal email newsletter that includes links to this column online. You can subscribe at tinyurl.com/two-2020.

 

Quarantine Week 6: Easter Sunday

     I spend my time on the back porch gazing over at the Canada goose nesting on the edge of the island in the lake behind our house. She took her watch about the same time we quarantined, and I wonder who will be released first–her upon the eggs hatching, or me upon the passing of the plague. The goose has been more vigilant than I at social distancing—I have only seen her leave the nest once, briefly. She has remained on the nest through freezing temperatures, hail, rain, high winds–just kind of hunkered down and flattened out. We should all learn quarantine methods from her.

   The male goose doesn’t bother her, but plucks the grasses around the lake, waiting and watching for any invaders. If another goose arrives or hawk circles overhead, the male flies down to the water in a ruckus. The female lowers her body and watches his defense. For some reason, the male permits the ducks to visit, and the white egret popped in again this week for a day or two. I still have not seen Mr. Holiday, the eagle, but perhaps since it is Easter, he will make an appearance. I don’t think the male goose would welcome him though.

       We are about six weeks into this stay at home experience, and since West Virginia is supposedly at the peak of our curve (a month earlier than once predicted), I guesstimate we have about six weeks to go. I’ve found my quarantine routine, and my sleep schedule is almost back to normal – down by midnight and up by nine. I say I guesstimate we have six weeks to go, but in truth, I am mentally willing our little micro-climate to reopen by May 30. There’s a vibration in the center of my chest that thrums only for that purpose. I wonder if that’s how long-distance runners endure to the finish line–a central concept of energy within that works to draw them forward.

        When I do go to town, I have my plastic gloves and my makeshift mask created from a white bandana and two hair ties. A friend has promised to bring me a lovely hand-sewn mask with a wire inside the top to form tightly over the nose. That way my glasses won’t get foggy when I breathe.

       This is the first Easter in many, many years that I haven’t been sitting next to Mother on the pew in her Parkersburg church, her beaming with excitement over Christ’s resurrection and with pride of her daughter at her side. In recent years prior, my aunt Sybil also sat with us. In not so recent years, we sat on that same pew with my father, grandmother, and grandfather. If we were in that church this morning, many of the Easter lilies along the altar would be donated in their memory.

        Last year, Easter service was Mother’s big return to church after many miserable weeks of recovery from back surgery. After the service, it was quite the to-do to get Mother (purse and Bible), her walker, and six Easter lilies out of the sanctuary, down the chair elevator, and out into her car.  And then, of course, out of the car and back into the house. She wanted me to come this year, to drive from here (with zero confirmed cases), through Wirt (two confirmed cases), and Wood (recently noted as a cluster), into Washington County, Ohio (30+ cases). I shivered at the thought. Here, in my home, in our small rural towns, I am not very fearful. But the thought of traveling into an urban area brought back that childhood fear of the cooties. As internet comedian Heather Land would say, “I ain’t doin’ it.”

        Upshur’s Strawberry Festival was canceled right after the state-of-emergency, and now Calhoun’s Wood Festival has been canceled, as has Gilmer’s Folk Festival. I’ve been told the last time the Folk Fest was canceled was during World War II.  Since these festivals both have annual June dates, this troubles me about my May 30 goal… (Of course, you can’t truly prepare for such large events while social distancing either.) I suppose I’ll have to focus and pray harder for a Back-At-It June.

       While all other events at Normantown Historical Community Center have been canceled at this time, the Food Pantry was still held for April. Volunteers from the Glenville Fire Department included: Billy Jenkins, Mae Bailey, Tina Frymer, Herb Frymer, Mike Hess, Debbie Hess, Bobby Moore. Volunteers from NHCC included Jennifer King, Patricia Stump, Anna Carpenter, Dianne Jenkins, Carolyn Keaton, Molly McLaughlin, Diane Goodrich, Chris Dean, Roxanne MacKatee. Thanks for all the great help.

       HEY! If you have a cell phone with a 304 area code (and a cell signal) you can access Overdrive, Gilmer Public Library’s digital book collection, without a physical library card. Get your free digital library card instantly, and access thousands of online eBooks and audiobooks! Available at the top right of this web site: https://wvreads.overdrive.com/account/ozone/sign-in.

       Donations to NHCC can be made at https://nhccwv.com/donation, or mailed to NHCC, 3031 Hackers Creek Road, Jane Lew 26378, c/o Margaret.

 

Normantown News – March Week Two

The return to Daylight Savings is one of my favorite holidays. Technically it’s not a holiday, but it is to me! While spring sneaks up in little doses, that one-hour shift makes a noticeable difference. Morning commuters may lament that early morning drive in the dark that comes temporarily with the change, but I celebrate that extra evening hour of daylight. It means winter is over. I now have more time in the evenings for outdoor projects and adventures. Time to sit on the porch.

Outdoor projects have already begun. The Division of Highways guys came along Route 33 in our area trimming trees and branches back from the road. Candidates have also been out, and the collection of campaign signs at the intersection of Rosedale Road and Route 33 is growing. I’m rather impressed at how long the David Walker sign has lasted in that deep turn on top of Normantown Hill. It’s been there since the last election.

It wasn’t much of a winter, and my recent walks with Daisy and Dandelion have already brought fleas back into our home. None of us are happy about it. Pretty soon we will have to bring out the lawnmower, and the first mow will smell like onions. Right now, you can smell the soil. You may not be able to see it from afar, but the forest is budding. Soon the hillsides will take on that pink hue and then the bright green shimmer. Crocus are up, some lucky folks have daffodils in bloom.

A gentleman in the 655* area called the other day to ask where I got the ootheca (praying mantis egg sacs) I placed around our garden. If you missed that previous column, I bought and hatched them to combat the stink bug population in the garden, and we did see a decrease. The caller was not familiar with ebay.com but did have someone who could help him online. A quick google search brought up ootheca for sale on Walmart.com and ebay.com, but the original source for both was Hirt’s Gardens. Hirt’s is based in Ohio, and for those out there without the Internet, you can contact them at 1-330-239-0506.

Normantown Historical Community Center has some great upcoming classes and events! The Food Pantry is held on the 2nd Friday of each month, this month on March 13. Last month’s pantry fed 94 families, including 221 people. The folks there are really needing some additional freezer space.

Most classes at the center are held in the brick building close to the school—no stairs. A Freezer Meal Class will be held on March 14 at 10 a.m. Learn to make freezer meals that you can easily thaw and serve on busy days! The class fees are by donation. NHCC Clothes Closet is held Wednesdays, 11-2 p.m.

NHCC is planning a Big Spring Vendor Event on Saturday, March 28 at 9 a.m. Crafters and vendors are invited.  They ask that each participant has a small item to give away for a drawing. The tables are $15.00 each. I see the list of vendors is growing – Easter Mini Photo Sessions, Avon, Tupperware, Pampered Chef have all been mentioned so far. RSVP by March 26 to 681-495-5960 or 304-462-7042.

Donkey Basketball is happening! Do you have it on your calendar yet? Come on out on April 4 at 6 p.m. to NHCC. Now, they just need a few teams to ride — three teams of at least seven people. Riders must arrive for a mandatory meeting no later than 5:30 pm.

Donations were recently made in memory of Ethel Roberts and the cooks at Normantown High School, and in memory of Urma Sprouse-Hull, a 1941 graduate. Donations to NHCC can be made online at https://nhccwv.com/donation, or mailed to NHCC, 3031 Hackers Creek Road, Jane Lew 26378, c/o Margaret.

       (*Hello out there to readers of The Hur Herald! Bob and Dianne began running this column in their publication last week. For those not familiar with the area, the 655 telephone-prefix reference above would typically mean in the southern area of Calhoun County. Northern Calhoun area is 354. Gilmer County is mostly 462. The generalization gets blurry along county lines. For example, in the Normantown/Stumptown/Rosedale region this column is about, our community has a mix of all three prefixes.)

If you have any 25267 area news you would like to share with community readers, by Sunday morning for the upcoming week, send an email to hayesminney@gmail.com or leave a message on our machine at 304-354-9132. I also have a seasonal email newsletter that includes links to this column online. You can subscribe at tinyurl.com/two-2020.

Normantown/Stumptown News – Late February

February is almost over, and I have to say I am glad. February always strikes me as the longest month of the year even though I know that isn’t true, and this being a leap year, the month was a day longer than usual. Thankfully, the sun has been shining.

While sunshine and warmer temperatures were a blessing for those mourning the passing of Harold (Red) Allen, the weather made the trip to Minigh Cemetery on Little Bull Run a bit of a challenge. As a solution, a tractor was brought in by a neighbor and a bluegrass band played “I’ll Fly Away,” while the tractor pulled hearse and Red up the hill to his final internment. This is why you make sure to take your gum boots to Appalachian funerals. Much love to the Allen family, who inherited Red’s sense of humor.

I recently heard someone refer to an eagle as a “Freedom Buzzard,” and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. Mr. Holiday (the local eagle) is seen more often on carcasses than actually hunting. Perhaps he’s just lazy, as the amount of road kill is enough to keep him fed. I was traveling through Normantown one evening and clipped a small barred owl who was swooping down to grab a field mouse running across the road. I turned my car around, and the owl was sitting in the road stunned. I stepped out of the car to wrap it in a towel (thinking I could at least offer some recovery time and space in our now-empty hen house), but as I approached, the owl flew away. I hope it survived.

Frank and I would like more hens, but we don’t want to raise them from chicks, and certainly don’t want any roosters. (I had a bad rooster experience as a child.) Also, that minimum order of 20-25 chicks when you get them through the mail is just too many for us. We’d like just a few laying hens. If you are ordering chicks this year and don’t want the full minimum order, consider us in for a couple of them when they become pullets.

Although I have not given any trapping reports, the traps are still out there, in the mud. A 35 pound coyote was caught, hopefully sparing the flock of turkeys it had been tormenting.

As spring grows near, Normantown Historical Community Center gets more active! They will be having their second Rag Rug Class on March 7, at 10 a.m. You will need a size Q or a large crochet hook and some material cut or torn in two inch strips. The longer the strips the better–an old flat sheet torn into strips works well.

NHCC is planning a Spring Vendor Event on Saturday March 28 at 9 a.m. Crafters and vendors are invited and Avon, Tupperware, and Pampered Chef are already listed.  NHCC will have yard sale tables set up. Each will be in separate room. We ask that each participant has a small item to give away for a drawing. Tables are $ 15.00 each. NHCC also will have tickets for grand prize drawing and refreshments will be available for purchase. RSVP by March 26 to 681-495-5960 or 304-462-7042.

I see on the NHCC online calendar that there is a flower/seed swap on Wednesday, March 25th from 8-9 a.m. and an all-day flower/seed swap on Saturday, April 25. It may seem a little early to think about seeds and flowers, but spring is less than four weeks away. Gilmer Public Library will soon be receiving an old card catalog, which they will be turning into an heirloom/heritage seed exchange for public use. If you have any heirloom or heritage seeds to donate, please stop by the library.

Basketball at the Community Center is on Tuesday nights at 6 p.m., and Exercise Class is every Monday and Thursday at 6 p.m. The Food Pantry is held the 2nd Friday of each month, and in February  94 families were served totaling 221 people. NHCC Clothes Closet is held Wednesdays, 11-2 p.m. And don’t forget: Donkey Basketball is coming on April 4.

Gary Settle donated a large chest type freezer (many thanks for that), but the Center still could use another large freezer and another refrigerator. The conversion to natural gas for heat has saved them a bundle in electric but, it’s still expensive to keep all the freezers and refrigerators running, so any financial help would certainly be appreciated. Donations can be made online at https://nhccwv.com/donation, or mailed to: NHCC, 3031 Hackers Creek Road, Jane Lew 26378, c/o Margaret.

I appreciate the compliments I have received from folks who read this column. Hi to Janet and Bill, who regulars in the world of the morning commute, and Hi to Tracy, whom I rarely see but love talking with when we bump into each other in town. I enjoy knowing my reports are reaching folks out there in the hollers who are bundled in for winter and maybe are just a few hollows over, but I never see. Some hate this time of year as much as I do. Spring is coming. In two weeks, we will be turning our clocks forward an hour and get our evenings back! We’ll make it.

If you have any 25267 news you would like to share with community readers, send an email to hayesminney@gmail.com, or leave a message on our machine at 304-354-9132. I will be happy to list yard sales, anniversaries, birthdays, reunions, etc.

Normantown/Stumptown News: Late January

(Note: Only select installments of this weekly column are posted here on the blog. To have access to all installments, you’ll need to read The Glenville Democrat/Pathfinder in print or visit The Gilmer Free Press online.)

I was flying along on my way to work one morning last week when I passed a man walking along Route 33 near the entrance to Cedar Creek Road. He had a coat, hat, and gloves, but even so, the thermometer on my dashboard noted it was 26 degrees outside. I don’t leave my cat outside very long in those kinds of temperatures. I immediately turned around in the church parking lot, returned to him, and told him to get in the car.

Did I know him? No, but he also lived in the Stumptown area, past the county line on the Calhoun side. Though his car broke down, he had business in town and had to be there, so he started hoofing it. He started walking in Lockney, so he had walked that morning, in those temperatures, more than 10 miles. The moment he told me that, I realized how many other drivers had passed him by that day.

Two+ miles later, when I dropped him at GoMart, he reached out to shake my hand and thank me for the ride. His hands were still as cold as ice.

I’m not in the habit of picking up strange men along the road, though I’m prone to give rides to folks I know. But when I see someone walking in temperatures below freezing, miles from any destination, it doesn’t matter who it is, does it?  What excuse is valid enough to pass that person and not offer a warm ride? I was late? I was busy? I was in a hurry? Twenty-six degrees. If it was warmer outside, I would likely have kept on going. But below freezing temperatures? No. I’m not able to do that.

I’ve been that person. The one with the broken down car. Of course, I don’t walk when my car lets me down, I call my husband on my cell phone. If I walk anywhere, it’s only far enough to get a cell signal. But what if you don’t have a hero? What if you have no one to come to your rescue?

Community isn’t just the people we like or the people we know. That evening, when Frank and I sat down for dinner I said, “Before someone tells you they saw me with a man in my car, I gave some guy a ride to town this morning. It was 26 degrees.” Frank, who is prone to give roadside assistance, didn’t blink an eye. “Okay,” he said. I told him where the fellow lived, and Frank was familiar with his family. It’s a shame the guy didn’t encounter Frank that morning. Frank might have fixed his car.

*****

      Kay Allen will be teaching a Rag Rug Craft Class February 8, at Normantown Historical Community Center. Further details are yet to be announced. Basketball is kicking up again on Tuesday nights at 6 p.m., and Zumba is Monday and Thursday. The Food Pantry is held on the 2nd Friday of each month, and the NHCC Clothes Closet is held Wednesdays, 11-2 p.m. I have a quilting frame I’ll be donating to the Center, as soon as they find someone to teach a quilting class. Do any quilters out there want to teach? And don’t forget: Donkey Basketball is coming on April 4.

Normantown’s Yolanda Goss (a recent transplant) has a free belly dancing class starting at Gilmer Public Library in February, on Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. Sounds like fun to me! Speaking of the library–have you seen the library’s new web site at gilmerpublib.org? You don’t need to drive to town to make use of the library’s services. You can search the library’s catalog online, make use of the online databases and tutorials, even access free ebooks and audiobooks.  I see also that the Mini-Library on the front porch at Fred’s Store is just bursting with books. Help yourself to those!

We’ve survived January and now face February. Organizations like the library and the community center have great programs happening to help stay off those winter blues. So if you’re feeling a bit restless or down, venture out for belly dancing, crafting, or to volunteer. I know both organizations will gladly welcome you.

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.