Friday, November 19, 2010

5 Virginia Treasures!

5 Inspirations for the creation of this Deacon's Bench!

Hand-painted on this deacon's bench is  five of my favorite wildflowers from the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. The pattern, framing each of these hand painted flowers, is a tedious country paisley pattern done in a pretty shade of blue periwinkle. Soft white and yellow stripes are the background for each flower.

The first flower I decided to paint was, indeed, my favorite!  It was the Mertensia virginica commonly known as the Virginia Bluebell. Other common names for this woodland flower is Virginia Cowslip, Roanoke Bells and Lungwort Oysterleaf. As it's name implies, it resembles a blue bell. Or like a very old fashioned dress (with bustle, of course!) and frilly lace along the bottom. Its clustered blossoms start as pink buds and as they bloom graduates from various tones of pinks into various tones of blues.

I truly fell in love with this flower when it mysteriously appeared at the wooded edge of my vegetable garden, behind my green house, under a tree that I had buried my precious dog the previous Fall. She was 6 months shy of 20 years old. And after 9 years, I still miss her so...

The second wildflower I chose to include on the seat of the bench is Chicory, Cichorium intybus. Chicory may also go by the common names of blue sailors, succory, and coffeeweed. Some mistakenly call this flower Corn Flower (Centaurea cyanuswhich is a separate variety of flower all together. This wild plant has many uses including a coffee substitute, livestock crop and intestinal wormer. According to old European folklore has the ability to open locked doors! So be careful where you plant it and where you leave your bouquets! The colors worked perfectly in this piece, in ranges of blue lavenders. In the wild you may be fortunate spot a few white blooms in the mix and on rare occasions even pink!

The Rhododendron Maximum commonly referred to merely as the Rhododendron was my third choice in this project. It's also known as the Great Laurel and is in the heath family and often compared to azaleas and laurels. The color of their bloom ranges from paper white to pale and deep pink to a rare rose which includes green-yellow spotting.  I think what I love most about these plants, along with the luscious  blooms, are the dense evergreen foliage. Have you ever hiked through the Appalachian mountains of Virginia and had to maneuver through these bushes?   Rhododendrons are extremely toxic. Deadly to humans, cattle and deer! The Xenophon mentions that Greek soldiers in Asia Minor were poisoned by honey made from these flowers! And I was worried about copper heads on my hikes!

The pink Thistle that grows wild in these parts of Southwest Virginia are dear to my heart. To me they remind me of my Celtic heritage. Other NamesCarduus lanceolatusC. vulgareCirsium lanceolatum, bank thistle, bell thistle, plume thistle, spear thistle. Originally from Eurasia, bull thistle is now established on every continent except Antarctica. The species was introduced to northeastern U.S. during colonial times and is now widespread throughout the U.S. and Canada. According to Wikipedia, "the leek, the thistle, and the shamrock, stand for the other three divisions of the British Isles. In the language of flowers, the thistle (like the burr) is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth, for the wounding or provocation of a thistle yields punishment. For this reason the thistle is the symbol of the Order of the Thistle, a high chivalric order of Scotland." Bull thistle roots are sold commercially in Australia for rabbit bait. Some people find roots and young leaves tasty, providing the spines are removed. They are a favorite of our local Yellow Goldfinch, who pair for life.

"Sweet, Sweet violets. Sweeter than the roses..." Why some folks work so hard to eradicate these little beauties from their yards, it's beyond me. Back in the "olden" days, folks made use of nearly everything they could. And I remember my grandmother talking about making jelly out of wild violets! I ran across this link that shows just how to make violet jellyCan you imagine how beautiful they must of been in the canning jars! I've always been told that white, yellow and blue violets are edible (all but too much of the root), but according to the Peterson Field Guide, some of the yellow species are mildly cathartic. "The corm contains the polysaccharide inulin and thus must be cooked to be edible. Native Americans wrapped the bulbs in cattails and reeds then cooked them in a pit covered with earth over which a fire was burned. Ten to twelve hours in the hot pit would render the corms delicious."  They are often consumed as teas, greens, salads and the blossoms are made into candies! The yellow flowers can even be used to make wineI'm told!   

The next time your wandering in your yard or on a hike, try to view the wild flowers and local plants in a different light. :)

"And Botany I rank with the most valuable sciences, whether we consider its subjects as furnishing the principal subsistence of life to man and beast, delicious varieties for our tables, refreshments from our orchards, the adornments of our flower-borders, shade and perfume of our groves, materials for our buildings, or medicaments for our bodies." 
(October 7, 1814, to Thomas Cooper)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hayter's Gap, Virginia

It's hard to believe Hayters Gap was a booming community at one time. Although,  I do still recognize two buildings in this old photograph, everything else is remotely the same. Whether in a car or cycling, if you have the pleasure of riding though Hayters Gap and the Poor Valley area stop just past the community center and look for the church and the little wood frame home by the road. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Clinch Mountain Christmas

The Play will be on Sunday December 19th at 7 PM.  The evening will include the play

A Clinch Mountain Christmas and Nativity Pageant all played by children 18 years and under. I'll update this blog with more info. (photos, cast, etc.) as the play progresses. The event will be held at the Hayters Gap Community Center in Washington County, Virginia. For more info. please leave me a message here or call 276-944-4442 (Hayters Gap Library).

We are also looking for folks who can build three walls for our set. And I will be posting a list of set and wardrobe props that are needed if anyone wants to donate or loan them for this event. Thank you and check back often for updates!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Meet Greyfriars Bobby | Composed Volcano

My daughter is doing her varsity letter in reading on Greyfriars Bobby and I came across this wonderful blog that is worth taking a look at!
Meet Greyfriars Bobby

" knows not its own depth until the hour of separation."
(Kabil Gibran) 

All Pets Go to Heaven | Blogs |

After visiting several sites about pet grieving, I stumbled across the blog below on All Pets Go to Heaven. I realized that history shows that many times our pets grieve for us just as deeply.

Below is a memorial I did for a heartbroken lady of her beautiful Shetland Sheepdog, Candy. She wanted a memorial stone made for Candy's grave and asked if I could come up with something on stone that looked hand drawn. This is what I came up with. It's a slab of marble that I used a Dremel tool with a special bit for stone etching. She cried when she saw it. It was a bitter sweet moment for me.

This was the epitaph she chose for the stone. 
"A heart of gold stopped beating,
Two shining eyes at rest.
God broke my heart to prove,
He only takes the best." Author Unknown

Friday, November 12, 2010

Leaving her mark...

Over the past 25 years, Linda has been commissioned to dream the most timeless creations from restaurant & children's murals to garden & interior furnishings and decor.

" I try to blend a bit of the out-of-doors into what I'm working on.
I don't see a plain wall or worn piece of furniture as useless... I tend to let the pieces 'evolve' on their own as they are already old, and Father Time has already allowed them to age to a patina of their own choosing... it's fantastic! It is much like a blank canvas to me... I tend to do extensive research on my projects... even when it may not make sense to others why I may do so... and my mind is always busy with so many ideas...!"
Ahhhhhhhh, variety IS the spice of life..."
L. Costello Hinchey

Hand Painted TV Hutch of a charming Row House.

More about the artist...
L. Costello Hinchey was born in Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid, Spain. She now lives in the breath-taking Appalachian Mountains of Washington County Virginia.
Her formal education began at Virginia Highlands Community College, going on to an academic scholarship at Virginia Intermont College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts. 

Between Hayters Gap & Big Tumbling Creek, Virginia of Poor Valley.
Since then she has been doing a variety of personal and commissioned artwork. Presently she divides her time between her devoted family and her home studio. Her work has found homes in many states and has been sold in various marketplace shops and outlets along the east coast region. Her work is equally as popular with interior designers and decorators in the area. Much of her work is inspired from her mountain home environment! And my family supports and inspires me more than anything.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

15 Best & Most Famous Veteran's Quotes

  • "I think there is one higher office than president and I would call that patriot." -Gary Hart

    Thomas Costello, Sr., US Air Force, Disabled Vet/Korea, 21 years
  • "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." -John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Harold Hinchey, Sr., US Army

  • "The most persistent sound which reverberates through men's history is the beating of war drums." -Arthur Koestler
  • "I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, 'Mother, what was war?'" -Eve Merriam
  • "Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul." -Michel de Montaigne
  • "In war, there are no unwounded soldiers." -Jose Narosky
  • "We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." -Cynthia Ozick
  • "The more we sweat in peace the less we bleed in war." -Vijaya Lakshmi Pandi
  • "Freedom is never free." -Author Unknown
  • "How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!" -Maya Angelou
  • "When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?" -George Canning
  • "Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die." -G.K. Chesterton
  • "This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." -Elmer Davis
  • "But the freedom that they fought for, and the country grand they wrought for, Is their monument to-day, and for aye." -Thomas Dunn English
  • "Lord, bid war's trumpet cease; Fold the whole earth in peace." -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You are my Sunshine!

"My Son, if I Could Have One 
Wish in All the World on Your Birthday… 

I’d wish that you would always be happy, forever healthy, and that your life would be filled with all the things that bring you laughter and love. I wish you a life where your dreams come true and your goals are achieved; I wish that I could always wipe any tears from your face and make everything okay again. I hope you will always know that I am thinking about you and forever wanting nothing more than your complete happinessin life. It’s your happiness that brings me such immense joy, because you are my son and I love you so much."
~written by Shelly Gross~

We're celebrating the birth of my firstborn, our son, our sunshine, our Sunny. He is the first grandson to be born in our crazy family. He is an "Old Soul". A true Scorpio. We gave him the nickname Sunshine, which has evolved to Sunny because of the lullaby I sang to him as an infant. Interestingly, he is a Sun Scorpio because he was born on the 10th. From the day he was born I've always prayed for him forever happiness, health and a long life. I have to say how proud I am of Preston and so thankful for him. All my love on your birthday, Sunny!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Murdered while playing...

 In September of 2010, our sweet sweet beautiful boy was shot and killed in his own fenced in yard by a neighbor with a high powered rifle. My heart is crushed. We are devastated.  And we will miss him for always. The monster that shot him did it for pleasure. The only residence near to us is within a stones throw directly adjacent to us only separated by a deep ravine type hollow.  The trailer is not a permanent residence for anyone.  Or hasn't been for about 15 years. It's rented out more often than not to trash that move in and out about every 6 months or so. The woman who was renting it at the time of Jaker's death, had frequent parties with male visitors who frequently set up "targets" in the back yard that crossed over onto our property from the side and across the back. The shot that took him down could have ONLY come from the direction of that yard and only with a scope could they have taken him down through the sparse trees. This was confirmed by the deputy that came to take the report.  And the scariest part of this is, our children frequently played all along that area of our property. Nothing was done. The deputy said that this was an unfortunate incident but that nothing more could be done by them.  Of the 35 years I've lived here, I've never had a pet shot by any of our long-time neighbors. The "renter" has since moved and it's devastatingly quiet outside now. And for several days following, it even seemed as if the birds and other wildlife were silenced by the shooting.

"One last word of farewell, dear master and mistress. Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my... ...happy life with you: 'Here lies one who loves us and whom we loved.' No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail."

~Eugene O'Neill, from his Dalmatian, Blemie's, last will and testament (click here for the full version of Blemie's last will and testament)


About the above image: This was the perfect day for playing in the snow.  Jakers, was one of our rescues, constantly dodged and chased the sleigh riders ALL day.  It's a hard job, but somedoggies gotta do it! (Btw, you may not be able to tell here, but he is further off the ground that it appears and his floppy ears don't normally stand up on their own! We're fairly sure he was part foxhound but not sure what else. ...Maybe, beagle...? (Snow Storm of Dec. 2009, Southwest, Virginia in the mountains of Washington County near Big Tumbling Creek and Saltville.) 

Jakers was a sweet dog. We said he had an "old soul" despite being only 4 years old when murdered. He was kind beyond words and had a deep adoration for his family. Okay, maybe he wasn't so kind to skunks. BUT, I have to say on behalf of his integrity, we never knew him to kill a skunk. ...Just harass them!  And even now, if we get a whiff of that horrid odor we instantly think of Jakers.  It's amusing to think that the smell of skunk can invoke such pleasant and endearing feelings.

I plan to use the above photographs for future pet portraits.  ...Maybe one in graphite and the other in watercolor...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Costello Hinchey Studios

Costello Hinchey Studios

CH Studios ( can commission for you fine art, portraits (family & pet), sketches, nudes, etc. in various mediums like graphite, pastels, pen & ink, oils, acrylics, etc.
Maybe it’s a gift you require? Certainly, some of the best treasures and gifts should have the feeling of fortunate happenstance about them. In a high-tech world dominated by massed-produced merchandise,there is an important connection that is made when we discover things created by hand. We can even create one-of-a-kind gifts and products right here on Redbubble!

This is a large commissioned oil portrait of the customer's pugs. It was done from several individual photos. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Virginia Highlands Community College SGA Presidents!

Check out 1985-1986 Student Government President!!! Yep, that's me!
From left to right- Lee Cox, vice president; Mark Anderson, secretary; Mary Ann Smith, treasurer; and Linda Costello, president.  "Moe" Curcio, SGA sponsor, sitting at the desk. Those were good times!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Art, ideas & thoughts...

"In the mountains, we forget to count the days..."

Greetings! I'm excited to say that This will be the first post of many more to come. I have been thinking about creating a blog for a while now but it was too difficult to manage, as we are forced to deal with dial-up. Yes, saddly, there are still those who can only access dial-up internet. Although I still am on dial-up, I felt it was time to start my blog and to struggle through the endless page loading times and constant "bump off's".  Please, kindly, bear with me during these dark times of dial-up. Maybe, one day?...