Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

Fidelia Hall (Spring 2018 Update)

It’s been a little more than a year since I last spoke in depth about Fidelia Hall on this site. Our “we’re really hoping it becomes a yearly tradition” Mother’s Day Plant Swap is right around the corner and with that comes the reminder for an update on all things related to Fidelia Hall.

Long story short: we’re still working on it. We’re a family of five who has one income and with that we’re still living a paycheck to paycheck kind of life. Our big outings these days are to the grocery store (Yay! We can eat!) and occassional visits to the movies (you have to spend a little to have some fun every once in awhile). We spend a lot of time in and around our home and with that we’ve become quite in tune and in love with our little 0.66 acres of land right in the middle of Titusville, PA. You may have read about me searcing for a new job recently. You’re probably wondering how someone so in tune and in love with their home was willing to give it up so easily. Here’s the deal: not everything in this world is so simple. I love my home. I love parts of this small town. I love our gardens. I love the fact that I get to renovate and live in a 145 year old church. I don’t like the fact that I make very little money. I don’t like the fact that I struggle financially to feed my family. I don’t like small town politics and gossip. Combine all those things together, and you get a confusing but very realistic picture of where I’ve been the past year…..At home, enjoying life, but trying so hard to get ahead and thinking about the possibilities out there. A perfect amount of happiness and confusion. A natural curiousity about what is and what could be. A very human thing.

The one thing that has changed is our living situation. 2017 was not kind to the actual house we live in: frozen pipes, leaking walls, mold in the ceiling and walls, and other not fun at all things you want in your house. With that in mind, we’ve developed a plan to move out of our home as quickly as possible and into the hall (aka the old church). While it sets us back from our original idea of Fidelia Hall being a community center for all people, it does something that is needed much more now than a community center: it gives myself, Haley, her mom, Finn, and Aero a happy and healthy place to live. Human beings should not have to live in a home that is falling down, has water leaking everyone, has frozen pipes, and mold in the ceiling. We need to take care of ourselves first before we do anything for the community. SO….we’re moving into a 145 year old church.

With that in mind, we’ve changed our mantra over the past year. Here’s what we’ve been telling people when it comes to Fidelia Hall:

Fidelia Hall is first and foremost the homestead of the Hoenke family. It is our hope that through our passion for family, community, creativity, sustainability, flowers, bees, art, fun, and food, that our contributions to the world will chip a tiny crack in the massive wall of negativity, fear, and greed that drives our culture.

We are not a business. We are not a non-profit. We are not a church. We are not a social club. We have explored every avenue and consulted every consultant and nothing fits. So we’ve decided to just be us.

Here’s a list of what we’ve done in the hall over the past year:

  • The downstairs of the Hall is heated. A big thank you to my father for his work on making this happen.
  • The upstairs of the Hall is heated. A big thank you to Haley’s father and his wife Audrey for making this happen.
  • Half of the downstairs of the hall has been wired for electricity. Thank you to Daniel Stockwell for the work he did for us.
  • My father and I ripped out some flooring and a wall that was damaged due to water. We put in a new floor and an entire new room. Part entrance, part closet, the space is a welcome addition to the dowstairs of the hall.
  • We ripped down the plaster and lathe ceiling in the kitchen. It was crumbling. Thank you to Daniel Stockwell for the work he did for us.

All of these projects were funding by monetary and sweat donations by members of our family. We thank them so much for their love, support, energy, and time.

Here’s a list of what we NEED to do in the hall:

  • Complete wiring the downstairs for electricity. We are so close to being done.
  • Restore water lines to the kitchen and add water and sewage lines to a new bathroom. Basically we have to run water lines to most of the building.
  • Set up an LLC so that we can do some business, run some events, etc as Fidelia Hall.

We still have some stuff to do, but as you can read we are nearing an almost finish line. At the moment, we have some money set aside to get ahead on these projects. If you would like to make a donation that will go towards helping us, you can do so here: paypal.me/justinwilliamhoenke. I don’t expect anything, but if you feel like helping I can promise you that your help will go a long way in helping us get ahead to make the Fidelia Hall space something that we can not only live in but also use to give back to our community.

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For now, we continue being the Hoenke family and doing what we can with what we’ve got. As you can see in the image above, we’re doing our second annual plant swap at Fidelia Hall this upcoming Sunday. We love this event because it not only brings in a lot of people but it also is a good chance to create community, share gardening resources and plants, and all in all it just creates good vibes in the world. If our home falling apart due to busted pipes and the slower than anticipated renovation of Fidelia Hall has been tough over the last 3 years, THE GARDENS OF FIDELIA HALL have provided us with a much needed outlet. Last year I personally became very obsessed with sitting in our gardens watching all of the bees in the borage. The bees gracefully flew around from flower to flower, sniffing and collecting pollen. You can tell they were very appreciative of these plants. It helped me realize just how much of a difference a person can make by doing something simple like planting some borage. Gosh these bees loved it, and in turn I fell in love with Haley’s idea of building magical and inspiring gardens. Heck! I even wrote this song about it:

Curious about our gardens? You can see their growth and evolution here.

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Thank you for your kindness, your love, and your support through the years.

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Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Fidelia Hall, Life, Music, Titusville, PA

Small Town by Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine

I was going to originally release this album on May 2, 2018, but here I am to tell you that the album is out today, Tuesday April 17, 2018. I hope you get a chance to listen to the album and enjoy it. Thank you for your continued support.

I wrote a lot of this album in November/December 2017 when it was cold, grey, two ceilings of ours started collapsing in the house, pipes were freezing on a daily basis, and it was just really cold out. As I recorded the album, two fires swept through our town destroying a good section of a town already in decline and all that was in the news were stories of small town squabbles and little bits of politics that had the potential to seriously affect people’s lives. The album wasn’t born in the greatest of times, but I think that’s OK. It stands as a document for a moment in time that happened, and that’s what all albums are…they’re a snapshot of a moment.

If you’re a librarian and you’re reading this, consider this album to be the aural equivalent of my A New Career In A New Town posts. As I was writing those posts, I was writing these songs. The second half of the SMALL TOWN album is that journey towards a possible new career in a new town.

If you’d like to listen to the album, use the music player embedded in this post or visit abigailfostersphotosynthesismachine.bandcamp.com. The album is free to stream from this website. If you’d like to purchase an MP3 copy of the album, you can do so for $7 through the Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Bandcamp page. If I ever sell any copies of my music, I just then take that money and buy more music stuff to record more songs.

For more information, please visit Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine on Facebook

Thank you for your continued support.

Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Music

Small Town

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Seven months after the release of the album Prozac Is The Dam And I Am The Dynamite, the musical project known as Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine is back with another album titled Small Town. Written and recorded in the Fall/Winter of 2018, this ten song album is a firsthand glimpse at rural small town life in America circa 2018.

Everything is falling apart. Houses falling down. Pipes leaking through the walls. Abandoned lots. Lost dreams. Student loan debt crippling an entire generation. Broken and beaten down humans. SMALL TOWN is for a generation that has been destroyed by those that came before and thought they could rule the world. -JUSTIN HOENKE, April 2018

This album is the third album from the musical project known as Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine in 2 years. As with all albums by Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine, this album was recorded inside and outside on the grounds of Fidelia Hall in Titusville, PA. Fidelia Hall is the homestead of the Hoenke family in addition to being a creative space for the arts and a recording studio for music. All of the songs on Small Town were written, produced, and performed by Justin Hoenke.

  1. Small Town
  2. Give Me The Atom Bomb
  3. This Town Will Destroy Itself
  4. Frozen Pipes
  5. Let’s Go Back To Sleep
  6. Little Paradise
  7. Aeoteoroa
  8. Much Too Late
  9. Atom Bomb (Reprise)
  10. Another Day

Small Town will be available on May 2, 2018 through Arbacarba Records (arbacarbarecords.com). The album will sell for $7 through the Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Bandcamp page (abigailfostersphotosynthesismachine.bandcamp.com).

For more information, please visit Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine on Facebook

Thank you for your continued support.

Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Music, Titusville, PA

Prozac Is The Dam & I Am The Dynamite

It feels really good to create music and then release it out into the world. This collection of ten songs was especially great to create and now release out into the world. I didn’t expect this album to happen. I had already released an album (EITHER WAY I’M FINE) and remixed/remastered my entire catalog earlier in the year. So when these songs started flowing out of me I captured them as quickly as I could. In just a few months time, I had a full album on my hand and I just thought why not put it out into the world? 

The album came together during a weird period in my life. In June 2017 I began weaning myself off of Prozac. It was in the planning long time in advance. My thought was to do this and nothing else in the summer. However just about a month after I began my Prozac journey these songs started happening. I felt a creative fire inside of me that I had not felt in years. The music and the words came out so easily and everything just felt so right. I couldn’t set this stuff aside….I had to record it, complete it, and release it. So here it is…ten songs written and recorded in the middle of a drug withdrawal. I hope that people out there will enjoy this album and those that are going through the side effects of anti-depressant withdrawal can really get something out of it.

The original announcement

Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Library Director, Life, Misc., Three Things, Titusville, PA

THREE THINGS 2017.3

FLAT FUNDING

As I wrap my head around what the 2018 budget looks like at the Benson Memorial Library, I am faced with yet another year of bracing for flat funding. It is slightly depressing to be in a state of mind where receiving word of flat funding is the desired outcome over having your funding cut. It has been this way for many institutions, and it has especially been this way for libraries over the past 5-10 years.

I am thankful for what we receive, as it allows us to continue our service to the community. As a library director, it is my goal to ensure that the community members who use the library do not see the negative effects of flat funding. I want them to have a positive and wonderful library experience, and I will do my best to achieve that with flat funding over a large period of time. However there’s also the other side of me that realizes that I cannot do this forever. While our funding remains flat utility costs and  health care costs are on the rise. The need to give employees a fair wage that is in line with the current cost of living is also something I believe in very highly. At some point, there’s gonna be a line drawn where things need to change. For this upcoming year, we’ll adjust accordingly to the situation in front of us, but in addition to bracing for flat funding I am bracing for the moment where things need to change in order to continue.

RENOVATING FIDELIA HALL

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This summer was not kind to the Hoenke family when it comes to the house we live in on the Fidelia Hall property. Plagued with all sorts of previous “half assed” repairs and renovations and issues that were just covered up (out of sight, out of mind), this summer was the time where the house told us that it was time to move out, fix things up properly, or if need be tear it all down. And that’s where we are right now.

Renovations to the old church in Fidelia Hall have ramped up. The downstairs space is coming along nicely: the tin ceiling is now very shiny and metallic, the new furnace and duct work have been installed, and an entrance-way and bathroom and updates to the kitchen are right around the corner.

All good ideas change over time, and the idea behind Fidelia Hall has changed quite a bit. For the moment, we will be moving into the downstairs of the old church building as soon as it is ready for us to live in it. With that move, we will then be able to gut the house and see what kind of shape it is in under all of the half assed repairs and out of sight out of mind renovations. At some point, we still hope to have Fidelia Hall as an arts and community center, but right now it is the time to focus on our family and get us to a place where we can live. Things change, things grow, and above everything else I have learned that first and foremost the wonderful family which surrounds me is the thing I need to take care of the most.

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Despite how hard it has been recently with renovations, I must say that it sure is neat to be restoring something and coming across a gem like this: this staircase was original to the building and was hidden under a rotting wooden staircase. The stone and foundation are part of the original 1870’s construction of the hall.

AN OVERARCHING IMPRESSION ON WHY THINGS ARE THEY WAY THEY ARE

The overarching theme to this post is the idea that there are so many humans out there who are trying to do something positive in the world yet are faced with quite a number of daunting tasks and obstacles in front of them. At the core, I believe that every human being has a desire to bring something positive to the world. However, with time that desire can be chipped away and eroded….and that is what I believe brings us to right now. We are living in a world where the desire to bring something positive to the world has been chipped out of most people. Flat/slashed funding, crumbling support networks, lack of resources, increasing costs with utilities, health care, school, basic necessities, and to top it off the ever increasing voice we all hear telling us to “buy more you’ll be happy” and what you have is a mix that has led to the current state in which we live. The pressure is there and the pressure can only reach a certain level before it bursts. What I’m thinking is that at least in my lifetime we will see that pressure burst. When it happens, things will be uncomfortable yet it will lead us to meaningful change. This is the way of the world: you have something, that something grows and changes, and when it reaches its point it bursts…and then you being to build things again.

Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Fidelia Hall, Life, Music, Titusville, PA

Prozac Is The Dam & I Am The Dynamite

“THIS SUMMER WAS WEIRD” -Justin Hoenke

Six months after the release of the album Either Way I’m Fine”, the musical project known as Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine is back with another album titled “Prozac Is The Dam And I Am The Dynamite”. Quickly written and recorded in the Summer of 2017, this eight song album is a trip through Justin Hoenke’s three months of removing Prozac from his body and his adjustment to the world.

“After being on Prozac for eight years, I decided that I no longer wanted to live in a muted state. Everything felt stagnant. I could easily exist on Prozac, but I felt like since this was my one chance at life that I wanted to do it properly. I wanted to feel things, both the good and the bad, again”

The journey on “Prozac Is The Dam And I Am The Dynamite” is raw and honest. “These songs had to be written and recorded. They could not sit around. If I didn’t capture the songs in the moment, the things I was feeling and going through during this process would not be honest. I wanted the album to be honest. I felt like a confused mess for most of this album, and that came out in the songs. Prozac Is The Dam refers to the medicine holding back creativity and true feelings. I Am The Dynamite because I was the only thing that could change the course I was set on. I had to make a decision to sail away from the Prozac and onto different things. I had to steer my own ship towards what I thought was honest.”

Fans of raw, honest, and homemade pop rock will appreciate this album. The album zig zags through a number of sounds and ideas. “The first half of the album is rough. I would totally understand if someone listening to it just couldn’t make it can make it through the first five tracks. But if you can, I think it makes the second half of the album even better. You’ve gotta go through the shit to get to sunshine.”

Prozac Is The Dam And I Am The Dynamite will be available on October 24 2017 through Arbacarba Records. The album will sell for $7 through the Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Bandcamp page

This album was recorded inside and outside on the grounds of Fidelia Hall in Titusville, PA. All songs and music written, produced, and recorded by Justin Hoenke.

 

Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

The Summer of 2017

Summer 2017 has been full of ups and downs. The ups always outweigh the downs but it seems like this summer there have been quite a bit more downs than usual. While my journey of getting off of Prozac has probably contributed a bit to the greater frequency of downs, I’m not here to blame it all on that. I knew that with a radical change in my life there was bound to be things I needed to process and understand. I also recognize that it is ok to have these downs and to allow them to exist in my life as part of the entire picture.

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I went to relax and this chair broke as I was sitting in it. I think it is a good metaphor for how life is going these days. Photo by Haley Hoenke because she is good at capturing the best moments.

I have been heard saying “holy shit, we are getting older and our boys are really growing up and becoming independent individuals” multiple times this summer. If I’m having one of my down days, I hibernate away from the world and eventually after I snap out of it. Then when I see Finn and Aero I get a bit down because I’ve missed a very special moment in time with them as I hid my head. The moments that we have in front of us are all that we have and if we miss out on them they’re gone forever. I feel like I’ve missed out on way too many moments with Finn, Aero, and Haley this summer. If I’m already in a down mood this just helps exaggerate that mood. I have to find a way to achieve a balance.

Finn and Aero are growing up into wonderful, unique human beings. Finn has a bit of inventor and engineer in him. We are doing all that we can to encourage and foster his curiosity. This summer he was in a number of camps that did just that and he actually asked us after they were done if he could continue doing them! That’s different than last year, when we could tell that he was itching to get to the end of camp season. Aero still wasn’t into going to summer camps and only ended up being part of the YWCA sports camp (which he really enjoyed). I have to remind myself that Aero is still just 5 years old and that he’s still really excited to have some special extra time with his Mom and Dad. He really enjoyed those moments with us this summer. Here’s some LEGO animations Finn made this summer. Enjoy.

We did a lot of gardening once again but nowhere near as much as we did in 2016. I think that has to do with the fact that Haley’s sister got married in May and that took up a lot of our focus. Nonetheless the gardens of Fidelia Hall were beautiful and bountiful and a lot of the stuff that was established this year will thrive for years to come (bamboo, blueberries, kiwi, and more!). We also finally got to reap in the rewards of our Fall 2016 garlic planting and boy oh boy do we have more than enough garlic to last us for the year.

And work on Fidelia Hall continued. The start of the summer led to a flurry of activity, mostly the beginnings of installing a heating system, an entrance, and painting the tin ceiling. After that flurry of activity things just kind of stopped. I don’t know exactly why. Lack of extra money coming was a factor, as was the reality that some people charge way too much when it comes to helping out with things like repair and renovation. I’m not built for physical labor, so after a lot of it I kind of shut down. It also didn’t help that our paint sprayer decided to stop cooperating with us. Anywho there is still work that needs to be done and eventually we will get there.