Here’ in the mountains it’s getting to be the season for curling up with hot cocoa and a good book while the temperatures drop outside. And what could be better than a Christmas story? Oh wait–I have one of those! My novella, A Shot at Love (the one nominated for a Christy Award!), is now available for download for just a few dollars. It’s shorter than my novels and I think it’s sweet without being sticky. If you’d like a taste, here’s a Christmasy snippet to whet your appetite: Hank tried to pay attention as James and Grace showed him their favorite holiday traditions. They’d all trooped out into the woods the day before and cut not one, but two evergreens. The prettier of the two had been stabilized in a bucket of rocks and sand, then Abram drilled holes into the trunk, cut branches from the second tree, and inserted them to fill out the first one. The result was a remarkably full and uniform Christmas tree. Hank marveled at the ingenuity while continuing to kick himself for upsetting Fleeta. “Stepped all over her pride,” Abram said when Hank shared his tale. “What can I do to fix it?” he asked. Abram shrugged. “Women,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure Lydia out and she’s not half so contrary as Fleeta Brady.” Now Hank gave his host family about a tenth of his attention as he pondered what he […]
My home state’s motto is: Mountaineers are always free. There’s a serious thread of independence running through the mountains I call home. And what better day to celebrate that than the Fourth of July? And what better way than by shooting off some anvils? Wait. What? Yes. Anvils. I wrote about anvil shooting last July, but couldn’t resist mentioning it […]
Last Thursday was WV Day. To celebrate, I sent out a quiz to help readers determine if they could pass as a Mountaineer. The results were interesting! The first question was whether or not you’ve ever used an outhouse. I was amazed that almost EVERYONE who took the survey had done so–92%. Only one person vowed that they never would. Guess it wasn’t as big a deal as I thought when we got married at a church with no indoor plumbing. Next, I asked readers to identify the state flower of WV. This was a little bit of a trick. The choices included Magnolia–wrong! Mountain Laurel–wrong, but doesn’t it sound right?? and Rhododendron–the correct answer with 35% of folks getting it right. Sixty percent chose Mountain Laurel. This was the second most missed question. Third, I asked if WV is The Mountain State, Hillbilly Nation, or Coal Country. Two thirds know it’s The Mountain State with just one smart aleck choosing Hillbilly Nation. Okay. The what does “watch out for deer” really mean question was also tricky. If you’d read my post about this, you’d know it’s code for “I love you” (just 14% chose that answer). But I gave out a point for “be careful” as well which tied for the obvious answer of “watch out for deer” at 43%. Question 5 also surprised me with 72% of quiz takers enjoying wild game. Only 10% would turn up their […]
Today is WV Day. But you probably already knew that. My home state is turning 156 and in honor of the day I thought I’d share some unusual facts about the Mountain State. The largest diamond ever found in North America was discovered in Peterson, WV, by the Jones family. They kept it in a cigar box for 14 years before realizing that it wasn’t just a piece of quartz, but rather a 34.5 carat diamond. About 75% of the state is covered by forests with nine state forests and 37 state parks. The New River in WV is actually among the world’s oldest rivers and runs from south to north instead of north to south like most other rivers in the U.S. The first woman to dunk a basketball in a college game was WV University center Georgeann Wells in 1985. In the northern panhandle the city of Weirton touches Ohio on one side and Pennsylvania in the other. In 1972 spelunker Bob Addis set the world record for stalagmite sitting in New World Caverns in WV. He stayed up there for 16 days. When it seceded from the Union, plans were to call the state Kanawha, but they went with a shortened version of Western Virginia since that’s what everyone was already calling it. And cursed natives to hear, “So you’re from Western Virginia–right?” from then on. Happy birthday, Mountain state!
Memorial Day is a day set aside for remembering those who have died in the service of our nation. Originally, it was proclaimed in honor of the Civil War dead by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. The order became official on May 5, 1868, and was first observed on May 30 of that year. Memorial Day has also been called Decoration Day because it was the tradition to decorate the graves of those who died in the war. The day was moved to the last Monday in May in 1971 to ensure a three-day weekend. In 2000 a resolution was passed to try and help remind Americans of the true meaning of the day. Signed by Pres. Bill Clinton it includes the statement: “Encouraging individual department and agency personnel, and Americans everywhere, to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.” So I encourage you at 3 p.m. this afternoon, to stop whatever you’re doing and say a prayer of thanks for those who have died to protect us and for those who are, even now, willing to do so.
Monday is Memorial Day–the unofficial start to summer. And in Appalachia it means time to start planning for Decoration Day. Usually held on a Sunday in June, this is a day when cemeteries would be tidied and flowers placed on the graves. I’m not talking about those silk monstrosities either. I’m talking roses and daisies and mountain laurel. Maybe some […]
Yup. That’s right. The woman who invented Mother’s Day was born in Grafton, WV. Anna Jarvis campaigned for the holiday in honor of her own mother Anna Reeves Jarvis. Mother Anna was a social activist who organized Mother’s Day Work Clubs during the second half of the nineteenth century. The clubs raised money to help needy families and nursed those […]