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.

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.