Another Evening On The Farm


After you’re done driving around the backroads and looking at all your ancestors’ tombstones, what else is there to do in the country than sit on the big porch, watching leaves dance on the breeze? The weather has finally cooled off a bit and we’ve had some rain, making for a perfect evening. Kids, cousins, grandparents, friends and neighbors, lots of cats, and plenty of food and conversation.

I’ve done a lot of cooking this week. Monday was roast beef and smoked turkey sandwiches on homemade croissants. Tuesday was french bread pizza–some with shrimp, some with pepperoni. Wednesday was fried chicken night, and last night, lasagna. It looked like I was running a bakery here.

It was my cousin’s son’s sixteenth birthday yesterday. Is this cake fabulous or what? I was quite proud! (I baked it!)

There was lots of talking and laughing and birthday singing and eating.

And kids hanging on grandpa….

….and grandma.

Me, with my parents.

Neighbors stopped by, who also happen to be our builder and his wife. He said he is getting a lot of mileage out of telling people he is building a house for a romance writer. Apparently no one believes a romance writer could live in West Virginia. Maybe I could earn money by setting up a circus sideshow. I could charge people five bucks to come see the Incredible, Amazing Romance Writer at Work! I could type with my hands behind my back or with my toes or with one finger. Don’t you think people would pay for that?

Long Ago In The Green, Green Meadow


….there stood a tiny church that served the then-booming community along the Pocatalico River called Stringtown after the strings of pipe used in gas and oil production. Gas and oil wells, towering derricks and boiler tanks, still dot the countryside, rusting remainders of the fortunes made here in the late nineteenth century.

We have our own old derrick up on the hill standing not far from our house site. Oil and gas production largely moved away as the twentieth century progressed, as did the population. Even by my father’s day, the hotel, stores, post office and gasoline plant in Stringtown were gone, but the farmers like my great-grandfather who’d profited from the mineral rights on their lands still kept the community bustling until the sons and grandsons grew up, went to war, and moved on to the new suburban landscape beyond these rural hills.

But down in our green, green meadow there are still stone steps, a crumbling memory of the church and tight-knit community that once existed here. Our farm, with the church that also served as a school for many years, was the center of that community.

My grandmother taught at the one-room Stringtown school for many years. My father went to school in the old church in first grade then on through eighth grade at the new school that was built across the river in 1931. Throughout his childhood, he went to church here.

Here, my dad is checking out the old stone steps of his childhood. He grew up just across the river on my great-grandfather’s farm. Did I mention the parental units are visiting this week?

Here is the old church that stood on our farm as it appeared before it burned down about ten years ago.

From the past to the future……. Here, my parents are inspecting the progress on our new house on the hill.

Stringtown rises again…. I think I am going to run for sheriff. I want a long black duster and silver pistols and a big hat. Possums and squirrels will scatter in my wake.

September 20, 2007 - Robey Redux

Open since 1907 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Robey Theatre in Spencer, West Virginia is one of the longest continuously operating movie theaters in the United States. In 1941 when my dad was 16, he could take a date to the Robey for twenty-five cents–movie tickets, popcorn and Cokes included....
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September 13, 2007 - Not Over It Yet

Whitetail deer climbing a bank beside our road. I feel like I’m five years old when I see a deer. There’s something so romantic about deer. Maybe it’s that they look a little bit like reindeer, bringing visions of sugarplums and Santa’s sleigh. Maybe it’s all that poetic medieval imagery that goes with them–knights and...
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September 11, 2007 - A New Farmhouse Is Born

Last week….. The half-built bridge. The perfect site for a home in the woods on the hill. This week….. The finished (except for laying stone) bridge across the creek. The graded driveway up the hill (also ready for stone). The graded site for our new farmhouse, all staked out! I see chickens….. And a horse...
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