Normantown News: Why Did it Have to Be Germs?

Just as I was getting used to quarantine, the push to end it comes barreling along. At my age, I’m a proponent of the “better safe than sorry” perspective, but I also know we can’t stay home forever. Our economy cannot bear it. I watch the numbers of those infected, of those who have died, but I also watch the state’s revenue numbers, the numbers of people applying for unemployment, “forgivable loans,” and other assistance.

When a human being experiences a traumatic event, that person is permanently changed. We may wish to return to normal, to the being we once were, but we have been altered by the event and there is no reclaiming our former self, no un-doing of the changes made to us. Just as it is so with human beings, I believe it is so for human cultures.

During quarantine, I have heard and myself have expressed, a desire to “return to normal.” But in a world contaminated by a virus that is 1000x more contagious than others we have dealt with, zero percent human immunity to it, at least 15% error in the testing data, and no sign of a vaccine in sight, I believe our society has been permanently changed. There is no “back to normal” after this socially traumatic event. Even when the vaccine comes (and it will, though predicted to take up to two years), telecommuting, telehealth, remote work, video conferencing, and an entire generation of children who have been trained to social distance will continue to exist and propagate. I have read articles that note that the ingrained social handshake of greeting will become as frowned upon as smoking.

My father was a Navy Medic who served with the Marines in the Korean War. As a result, personal hygiene and cleanliness (and thus sterility) were important to him all his life. He showered twice a day, every day, and washed his hands more than any man I have known. He had hand cleansers, degreasers, and soaps, and little scrubby brushes that cleaned in the creases and beneath his fingernails. My father was not above getting his hands dirty, but they certainly never stayed so for long. I was raised knowing the proper way to wash my hands–twenty seconds at least and including the thumbs, which are most often overlooked.

During 9-11, I often wondered what Daddy (who left us the year before) would have thought of the events. I longed for his advice, input, commentary for comfort. During COVID, I know how freaked out my father would be. I think of Indiana Jones when he realized the floor of the tomb was covered in snakes. I can hear Daddy saying, “Germs, why did it have to be germs?” (“Germs” being a catch-all term that covers bacteria, viruses, etc.) I imagine he would have had us all on lock-down, with military attention to all methods of sterilization and safety. I know what Daddy would say. Wash your hands, wear a mask, social distance, clean everything constantly, stay home. I have no doubt Daddy would be wearing masks and gloves. I can even imagine him in a homemade protective bodysuit of some sort just for a run to the grocery store.

As a library director, it falls to me to develop a plan to re-open the library with the virus still out in the world. Along with my board, I am suddenly responsible for ensuring that our employees and patrons are protected from an invisible enemy of which none of us are immune. I can honestly say, this is the heaviest burden ever placed on me when serving in a leadership position. I cannot insist that our employees wear masks to return to work, but they have all expressed willingness to do so, and the library has purchased n95 masks for all of them, and a cloth mask to wear when washing the other. We have also purchased disposable gloves and masks and will be asking patrons to wear them while interacting inside the library. This is my father manifesting in me. This is me, following my father’s advice.

This morning, I almost cried when I read that two governors re-opening with “mandatory masks” in their guidelines were withdrawing their mandates for masks due to rioting and the concept of violating personal rights. As a librarian and a child of a war veteran, I carry a respect for personal rights that ranks even higher than my personal respect for safety. Like everyone else, I have “thrown caution to the wind” a time or two (likely too many) in my life. But I have been suddenly saddled with the burden of protection. Protection for myself, my employees, their families, our patrons, their families. To my count, that includes about 2,000 people—many of whom will not want to wear a mask to execute their right to library access.

This is not a time to throw caution to the wind. Trust me. I’m a librarian. I’ve done the research. We will not be “returning to normal” any time soon, and masks quadruple protection if BOTH parties interacting (not just one) wear one. If you are not wearing a mask, bandana, or scarf in public, you should be. As West Virginia re-opens, please respect those who ask you to wear protective gear in their establishment. Of course, you have a right to go without one, but don’t the rest of us have the right to feel safe?

From Normantown Historical Community Foundation president Blair Wright:

NHCC will be giving EMERGENCY FOOD BOXES on May 8th, 2020. All workers will be selected volunteers and volunteer firemen. Don’t come before the scheduled time, and if you are not from West Virginia, do not come at all. All special health regulations apply–no loitering, visiting, etc.. You must remain in your vehicle; do not get out of your car until you are told to do so.

ALL VEHICLES MUST LINE UP ON THE WEST (STUMPTOWN) SIDE OF RT. 119. If you are traveling West towards Stumptown, after you pass NHCC, turn around in a safe and legal location, and join the client line from that side. Traffic flow must be maintained as much as possible.  Have your vehicle’s trunk clear or your truck bed reasonably empty. Food dispensing will begin at noon or as near as possible to that time. Questions? Call 304-884-6962.

A special thanks to Calhoun Banks and to Parkersburg Area Community Foundation for contributions to purchase food and to fund operations of the NHCC Food Pantry. The pantry averages nearly 100 families each month. NHCC was recently awarded a $2000 grant to assist with the operation of its pantry by Kroger Company. These donations are greatly appreciated.

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.

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.

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 4

Frank and I have now been home and off work for two weeks. Early in the second week, I started taking naps in the afternoon around three o’clock, that time of day when I get drowsy. On my third day of napping, I slept until almost 8 p.m., and now my sleep schedule is all wonky. I get up at my usual time, nap in the afternoons, and then I’m up again until one or two in the morning. About the same time the napping started, I lost track of what day it is. Not that it really matters, since I have nowhere to go.

I am so grateful that this quarantine hit during a time when the weather permits comfortable time outdoors. I have cleared all the flower beds and the herb beds, and Frank brought out and serviced the riding mower. I’ve been spending more and more time sitting on the back porch overlooking the lake. This is my Zen time, my calming space… My reprieve from the world, the news, the life that happens inside the house.

Spring is the return of light. In my heart, I celebrate the time change more than any other holiday. Suddenly time makes sense again, and the days adorn their evening accessories for the season. Evening walks are no longer dim adventures in the darkness, morning sunrises include sun rays that shine from the hilltops down into the valley. The gray of winter is gone, and I am glad. The coronavirus was confirmed in West Virginia the day before spring’s official arrival. COVID-19 may have dampened spring plans for humankind, but the West Virginia hills are unaffected and are bursting forth with life and color.

Spring is the return of sound. The peepers sing first, a nice change from the winter cawing of crows. Then slowly, different bird songs sing out to join them. Robins, red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, thrushes, finches. Somehow, I feel as though I can breathe better when the birds are singing. The birds bring activity back to the hills, flitting from hither to yon. I know the sound of the finch landing on the rim of the gutter, of the blackbird fluttering into the air to snatch a bug in flight. I know the sound of a duck coming in for a landing, the splash of their successful set-down upon the water.

Wild ducks come and go on the water all winter, and the geese joined them for a few weeks, until the regular pair chose their nesting spot on the island. After that, the spring turf wars began, and all geese but those two are forbidden at this body of water. The pair doesn’t mind the presence of the ducks, or the gray heron, the kingfisher, or the muskrats. But if another goose tries to stop by for a visit? Oh, the ruckus. Frank and I have observed this spring rite now for 21 years.

Spring is the return of color. My forsythia bushes are just glorious this year. They’re like botanical suns glowing at each end of the porch. The undergrowth in the forest glows light green at the base of the trees all in various stages of budding. After a day of rain, the hayfields were suddenly green again, no longer that faded beige they wear during winter. I see hues of pink here and there on the hillsides and in my yard—the redbud getting ready in the woods, the quince blooming along the fence.

The lake out back is a stopping point for white egrets on their spring migration, and two of them appeared two days ago. Their stark white was such a contrast to the background that their presence in the scenery as I passed the back door window stopped me in my tracks. Their purity almost glowed. The same day, I read about egret sightings on the Ohio River, and in Tucker County. The pair stayed for one afternoon, and moved on. In previous years, they have stayed up to a week. I have not seen Mr. Holiday, the eagle, in weeks but I have seen a hawk fishing—dive bombing the water like the kingfisher, from the branches of the ancient hickory tree on the far edge of the water.

My daffodils are blooming, daylilies and what I call Easter lilies are all up and growing, the hostas are peeking through and the sedum looks strong and steady. When I take Daisy (beagle) and Dandelion (yellow tabby) for our walks, I make sure to stop and check on the asparagus patch. A peeking sprout today could be a harvestable stalk tomorrow.

A friend and I recently discussed how painful and unfair it can be that life goes on following tragic events. We’re given no time to recover, no time to grieve, process, and adapt to the drastic change. But at the same time, how comforting that when the world of humankind screeches to a halt (individually or worldwide), the redbud will keep on blooming. Egrets continue to migrate, geese continue to nest and lay eggs. The robins and finches are not social distancing, the hawk is not afraid. How blessed we are to be quarantined amongst the spring beauty of these West Virginia hills.

Social distancing does not mean “stay inside.” Unlike those in urban areas, we have the space to wander and walk. This year, spring seems especially magnificent. Don’t let current events cause you to miss it.

While all other events have been canceled at this time, the Food Pantry at Normantown Historical Community Center will still be held the 2nd Friday of April. They are working on the guidelines for doing the pantry on April 10, which will include traffic control, taped boxes, etc. If you aren’t aware, the National Guard is helping Mountaineer Food Bank continue serving these community food banks, and how thankful everyone is for their assistance in keeping folks safe and fed. Keep an eye out for the new guidelines. Last month’s pantry fed 87 families with 217 people included in those families.

Vendors who paid for tables for the to-be-rescheduled Spring Vendor Event at NHCC will have their payments returned to them. Donkey Basketball has been rescheduled for

Thanks to Rose Beall for the freezer moved to NHCC, and thanks to George Rose for purchasing another freezer and refrigerator. 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.

If you have any 25267 area news you would like to share with community readers or any personal messages you want shared in local media, 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.

What Day is It? Update

Wednesday. It’s Wednesday, right?

As far as I can tell, our phones have finally been repaired. For a good while, we could not receive or make long-distance phone calls. That basically means that for nearly a week, I couldn’t contact my family. Keep in mind also, we live in 354, and work, stores a majority of our friends, etc. are in 462. So, the first week of our (self-imposed) quarantine, I couldn’t contact anyone I really felt the need to speak with.

Governor Justice gave us just a little over 24 hours to get ready for the state-imposed quarantine. I went to the library yesterday. I watered the plants, filled the birdfeeders, took out the trash, checked email. Libraries across WV (and the US) are pumping out all kinds of posts and links for free digital entertainment and education. You can follow Gilmer Public Library for the ones I’ve been sharing, or visit the WV Library Commission’s site for a list of links that’s being updated several times a day.

Since we were already set for a big bug-in, I hit the liquor store on my way out of town. I’m not much of a drinker, but …. well, it does help me sleep when I’m stressed.

The house is already the cleanest it has been in years, and no one will witness it. Such a shame. I was tempted to run to Ohio and grab Mother on Sunday and bring her here but didn’t. I’m still not sure if that was the best decision. Since then, a case has been confirmed in her county in Ohio, and in one of the WV counties I would have to cross to get to her. I know that cousins and neighbors there are keeping check on her, but I would feel so much better if she was here with us.

I also have this huge impulse to find a way to get family in Southern Virginia here. In all my prepper scenarios, family came to us. We have free gas, free well water, and pretty much all you need except a cell phone signal (and reliable landline service). We have satellite internet, and I expect will be adding to our data package this month.

I spent one evening online shopping. Not too much damage–a ring light for possible future video broadcasts, more wooden stamps to decorate the letters I write, and four pullets (chickens just past the chick stage) to arrive in May.

It’s just my luck that we were ready for the apocalypse (or economic crash) for ten years, and three years after we relaxed a bit about it, this happens. When I announced I had ordered hens, Frank said, “I thought we were going to wait on that.” Yeah, well… I’ve got that “We’re not ready for impending doom,” panic going on again in the pit of my gut. I’ve been sorting our pantry, lamenting all the empty canning jars that could, and should have been full. I’m sure within the next week I’ll order the converter that converts our gasoline generators to natural gas — the last and only item left on the prepper list we set aside a few years back.

Frank watches COVID-19 news all day. West Virginia’s number of cases damn near doubled yesterday. It churns my stomach hearing the constant bad news and reminds me why we disposed of our mainstream television service after 9-11. I was tired of the daily doses of new terror. The lack of air traffic overhead also reminds me of the time following 9-11. Air traffic here is quite common, but the skies are unmarked now. At some point each day, I steal the remote from Frank and pop in a movie or TV series (currently binging Supernatural, Star Gate, and Star Trek: DS9; checked in with movie classics including Hunger Games, Hobbit, Fellowship of the Ring, Lonesome Dove, Forrest Gump, and The Stand, of course).

Reading? Currently “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris, and all kinds of articles I’ve printed out from the Internet.

Projects include working on a new non-fiction book, teaching myself watercolors, prepping to launch an online writer’s workshop/retreat, purging and organizing the file cabinets. You guys know I’ve unfriended lots of people on Facebook over the last few years. I check on some of them now online but am relieved I’m not getting all of it in my news feed.

I also make sure to catch the almost daily press conferences by our governor.

I’ve never been a Jim Justice fan. And, I admit, on TV he comes across as a bit of a twit. “Now” (my father was a “Now” person), “and everything,” (lots of folks say that), and “shape, form, make, or measure,” (yeah, getting tired of that one). BUT! All that being said? I’m proud of him. I am comforted by his simple down to earth approach. Jim is Jim. He knows this state I think. He knows his and our weaknesses…

I’ve come to the conclusion that “Big Jim” doesn’t have the ability to bullshit us. And Jim has sense enough to surround himself with experts. He doesn’t need to pronounce right, doesn’t need to speak the details. He has folks to do that for him. I’m okay with that.

Today, West Virginia has a non-denominational day of prayer. It may be corny, but that’s WV too. I’m okay with that as well and will be watching. You can catch it on the WV Governor’s web site or YouTube channel at noon.

I had planned to return to town on Friday, to help hang a new hand-made door on the library’s outbuilding. I may or may not do that. Next week, I had hoped to order sand for the library’s paver-patio project. I will likely still do that. My need to see progress “in spite of” is damn near overwhelming. Besides, our board quickly voted to continue paying employees during this closure and I need to go in and do payroll.

I’m not capable of staying home for weeks anymore. Ten years I did that. My daily walks with the cat and dog help but I can only go so long without checking on the library — 19 miles away. (These visits to the library are permitted under the current stay-at-home order, by the way.) I have the road to myself on the commute now, and there’s no traffic at the county’s solitary stoplight. I see few, carry sanitary wipes, etc.

Last week I noted I would not stay home for weeks on end, “Coronavirus be damned.” I still will not. I’m not going to go out willy-nilly, and won’t be licking packs of toilet paper in the Dollar Store. But, stagnation is not in my nature. I am one of those people who can barely sit still for 30 minutes. I was completely relieved to learn that I have a legal reason to leave the house, to check on the library. I am quite grateful for that.

Right now, my stay-at-home skills seem to last about five days. Frank has taken up the habit of pointing out how many times I touch my face during the day. I’m pretty sure that’s going to cost him dearly very soon.

So. We’re surviving it, and will be fine. I’m a little antsy, but it is what it is. But, if we lose our long-distance phone service again, I may have to drink some liquor and post a slam against Frontier.

Stay well folks. My love for those who are homebound, and to those “essentials” who are still out there.

Peace and love.

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.