Wendy Thurston

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Wedding and Handfasting Services Offered
Thoughts and Ramblings

Welcome to my rambling site of memories and thoughts. Good luck not getting lost!!

On this page…

Who am I? A teacher, minister, writer, photographer and mead maker.
Quotes from The Magnificent Seven
What's currently on my mind: That camping trip with Dad...


Who am I? A teacher, minister, writer, photographer and mead maker.

~ I am a High School Teacher ~

It has become much more than a job for me; it is how I define a big part of who I am. It can make my heart sing one day and the next day it can break it in two. Sometimes at the end of an exhausting day I know that I have accomplished something good. I have made a positive difference in the life of a student—they might have developed more self confidence or a sense of self worth they did not have before or maybe just started to look at their world a different way. On these rare occasions I do not need to drive my car home—I can fly and my kids are the wind beneath my wings.

Other days I find myself frustrated, disappointed and wondering what in the hell I was thinking of when I decided to do this to myself. Did I decide just after falling down some stairs and getting a serious concussion? It would be so much easier to have a job where I go in at 8, leave at 5 and actually LEAVE. Instead, I find myself staying late for meetings and Fun Nights with my FFA students, working late to catch up on work I could not find time for during the day, spending weekends at the school or on field trips, laying awake at night worrying about a student, lesson plan or project.

But then a student tells me she is going to go to college so she can be an Agriculture Teacher, another student receives a community award and I get to go to the banquet, others are called up on stage to receive Federation and Region certificates and others draw a picture of me on the board and write “we love U, Ms. Thurston.”

Then I realize that I am the luckiest woman in existence to be privileged to be with these incredible young people.

I am a National Board Certified Agriculture Teacher and received the honor being Elkins High School’s 2008-2009 Teacher of the Year.

~ I am a Minister~

I am a legally ordained minister and have walked my path for many years and served my communities in many capacities, from working with small groups to leading big group ceremonies. I was very active in my spiritual community before moving to WV, but have not quite found my place here. I would love to again be active in a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, but there is only a handful in this state and none are close.

The UUs I was a part of were beautiful rainbows of many faiths, several varieties of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Pagan, Indian, even humanist and agnostics. We came together and did not tolerate or put up with each other’s faiths, but celebrated our diversity. We learned and shared our faiths, finding that so many basic beliefs are universally shared, and beginning to appreciate and respect the differences. I so miss my spiritual families…

For the time being I am just giving a few workshops, am involved in services elsewhere when I can get to them, and performing handfastings and weddings. There is more information on my ministerial services available on the above link.

~ I am a Writer ~

Or perhaps, I just ramble a lot. I have been published in several magazines and had a regular column years ago. Most of my work is nonfiction and concerns spiritual matters and practice. I may someday publish a fiction novel or two.

~ I am a photographer ~

Maybe not a good one, and I certainly do not make any money from it, but it has fascinated me from my early teen years. My work has hung in galleries in Georgia and West Virginia, but only small time shows; nothing professional.

I am currently considering publishing a book of some of my photographs and my father’s. He was a full fledged Photographer and his work is breathtaking. He had a sense of composition and texture that was awesome. I am lucky in that we were both into photography for a few years and talked about technique, subject matter and a host of other details.

~ I am a mead maker ~

I used to go to many gatherings and get togethers and always brought a bottle or two of my mead as my contribution to the pot luck. Folks started to actually look for my tall green bottle. Since I’ve moved, I’ve been much less social and so have bottles of mead stacked up. I always have a recipe or a slight variation to try, so when I do (even if I just make a gallon), it just sits there looking at me. I don’t drink very much, hardly at all when I’m by myself, so there’s no ready source to drink and appreciate it. Right now I have a 3 gallon carboy waiting for its final racking, but what to do with it after it’s bottled? My mead making has slowed a lot. I won Third Place in the NC State Fair for my mead... I know there were at least 4 entries!

A couple of my favorite quotes from the movie The Magnificent Seven…

“It took me a long time to know my elbow from a hot rock…”
“Nobody throws me my own guns and tells me to leave. Nobody.”

~Steve McQueen and James Coburn, The Magnificent Seven

This is the only western ever made worth watching. Yes, yes, I have seen the movie it was based on, The Seven Samurai, all 12 hours of it (well, it seemed that long!), way back in college. But this movie is far superior. How can it not be with the likes of Yul Bryner, Robert Vaughn, Steve McQueen, James Coburn and one of my all time most favorite actors, Charles Bronson? But of course, if one is going to follow the trail that Samuri started, it has to end with the incredible Sci Fi movie, Battle Beyond the Stars, staring Richard Thomas. This movie was connected nicely with Magnificent in that it also has Robert Vaughn playing basically the very same character except with space ships and laser guns! Check it out!


Papa and I go Camping

Base Camp has become a fairly comfortable spot over the years. Went from just a fire pit to a tarp covered firepit, then my brother, John built the out house (I actually have a photo of John building the john!), with a gas stove. Then came the wooden counters followed by shelves. Then Papa had a metal building put up, so we have very comfy digs now. But it wasn’t always so…

The first time just Papa and I went up there (I think I was 16) it was simply a deer trail. We pulled out our cots and sleeping bags, ate a couple of trout caught that day cooked with butter in aluminum foil stuck in the coals of the fire, and I think, sitting there with Papa, feeling the cool breeze, smelling the Earth and watching the smoke from the fire take different shapes that it was one of the most special times I have experienced up there. Never has trout been so juicy and delicious, never a day so perfect, the sky that shade of blue.

I woke up in the morning and heard something move. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a doe. I whispered very quietly to Papa and he woke, too, but did not move. Incredibly, the deer had a fawn still in spots by her side. Evidently the deer trail that we had camped at was one she used. She hesitated, then slowly walked to us, BETWEEN our cots—I could have literally reached out and touched her she was so close—then continued to the other side of the small clearing. She stood there a moment, looking back at our little campsite, then walked off.

“There is spirit all around us,
There is spirit all around us,
There is spirit all around us,
Awaken, rejoice and sing.”

This is such a vivid memory for me that I finally made up my mind to try to recreate it. I asked Papa if we could camp away from base camp one night and reminded him of our adventure. He was very interested in it.

So… got up there late Wednesday night and Papa and I went out Thursday night.

First we had to pack up everything we would need for that night. Papa is a master at packing, whereas I forgot to even bring my back pack (duh!!) and had to use a shoulder bag for my stuff. We camped just above the Maze. It took us just a little while to find the right spot, but it was beautiful!

We had to find small trees that were already down—we did not want to kill any trees for our shelter—that were the right diameter and length. We did that by comparing the tarp we brought with the downed trees. All we had was a big bowie knife Papa had sharpened before our trip.

Then I got a good, hands on lesson about how to build a temporary shelter. It was so cool! You think you know your own Dad, but then he does things to surprise you.

But—aha!! Finally caught him using the wrong tool for the job!! He used the bowie knife to pound in the stakes with. Actually got it on film, so I can harass him about it for years to come! Then we had to put on the tarp (no, we did not use deer skins or buffalo pelts!) and stake it down.

One of the hardest parts was starting the fire. It was damp, as it had rained recently very hard, so most of the stuff was wet. We huffed and we puffed, and we finally got it started.

When it had burned down to coals finally, they were some of the most beautiful red, glowing coals in the dark night I have seen in a long time. We talked about love and how to recognize it and what to do with it once you find it, travels, teaching, kids and other life matters. We talked through the red and orange of sun set, into the dark of night. Skye was with us and kept going out and ranging, then coming back in and laying down.

I stayed up after Papa went to sleep, just looking at the coals and letting my mind wander. At one point I heard an animal loping near by in the woods and thought it was Skye. But when I shown the flashlight where she had been laying, she was still there.

I slept deep and peacefully. Skye crawled into the shelter between us during the night. I guess our snoring didn’t bother her. I am renowned for the loudness and length of my snoring, but I am just a pale shadow compared to my Dad.

We packed up and went back to Base Camp the next day.