Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Adventures In Hillbilly Plumbing

Our house out here was built either just before or just after World War I, which means it's getting up on 100-years-old.  The house originally ended at the creek, and a later addition added the whole straddling-the-creek situation.  Remember this photo?
There are three rooms which sit over the creek: my bedroom, Kat's bedroom, and the main bathroom.  Which brings us to my story.

On Saturday, after our adventures at the swimming hole, Vista, Greer (who works at Snowshoe and is one of the ladies in this post), and I were lazing around on the porch with the roomies.  In the midst of this afternoon of sloth, I roused myself to hang a load of laundry to dry on the line.  Kat had gone inside to take a shower, and a few minutes after the screen door closed after her, water began streaming steadily from beneath the house, into the creek.  It was odd, so I wandered over to investigate.  When I determined that the water was coming from the approximate location of the bathroom, I may have panicked.

I ran to the porch, and somehow conveyed my distress earnestly enough to Emily and Greer to draw them over to check it out.  Emily was the first to take the initiative and actually look underneath the house to assess the extent of the damage.  What she saw was pieces of the house dangling down directly beneath the bathroom.

I'm afraid I did not handle myself well.  The house was rotting.  Pieces were hanging off of it.  This was bad, oh was it ever bad.  I was certain, absolutely convinced that the next time I stepped into the shower, my weight would send it crashing through the rotted floorboards and there I'd be, naked and mortified, standing in the creak surrounded by the wreckage of our bathroom.  The world was ending, and I would never be clean again.

Fortunately, I held it together long enough to call Handyman Dave, who has already been our savior on several occasions.  In addition to the precarious shower situation, our sink hadn't been draining very well, so he looked at that first.  From the next room, I listened to his exclamations of disgust has he went further and further down the pipe.  I don't know what we were expecting he'd find, but it wasn't what he did find: a bright red and blue child's toothbrush.  Which would be odd enough, except that our sink drain isn't exactly open.  Getting a fat little toothbrush all the way down into the pipe must have been a serious feat of engineering.  But the question of why someone would purposely put a toothbrush down a drain was only the beginning of our bathroom mysteries.

Handyman Dave turned to the shower.  He hemmed, he hawed, he walked purposefully from the bathroom to the creek and back, turning the water on and off.  I sat on the couch and chewed my fingernails.  Finally, he had his answer.  First of all, the house was not rotting.  The stuff we saw hanging off the house were pieces of cheap cardboard cover that someone had installed at some point.  Structurally, the house was sound.  There would be no crashing through the floor, no naked mortification.  But what was causing that water?

"Hillbilly plumbing" was Handyman Dave's answer.  What?

Apparently, when the shower was installed, oh, thirty years ago, the drain was never actually attached to any pipes.  The shower drains directly into the creek.  It has always drained directly into the creek.

Here's the part where I laughed myself half to hysteria.  Fortunately, Handyman Dave thinks it will be fairly easy to correct, and soon enough we will be polluting our little creek no more.  When I joked about bathing in the creek, all those weeks ago, I had no idea how close I'd actually be coming.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Swimming Hole In The Light

The day after my wonderful nighttime swimming hole experience, I returned with some friends to see it in the light.  And to cool off in the 90 degree sun.  Vista was much more enthusiastic about swimming in the daylight, and even jumped off the smaller rock a few times (I may have tossed her off once, too--she loved it!).  I wish I had photos of her swimming, head just above water, eyes concerned as she paddled around, checking on each of us in turn, but you'll have to settle for gorgeous water and happy people, instead.
And a bonus, from earlier the same afternoon: Piggy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Swimming Hole

I neglected to bring a camera with me tonight (and it was too dark to have made any difference anyway), but I'm dying to show you what I saw. So, if you'll bear with me, I'm going to try and paint you a picture instead. With words. Here goes nothing.

You park on the side of the highway, gravel crunching, first under your tires, then under your flip-flops. At the end of the line of chattering people, towel clutched to your chest, you stumble and slide down the embankment towards the river. You know this river, it runs along the road for miles, but you've never seen it like this.

The water is black, black and still. The rocks along the opposite bank are pale and imposing in the dark. You move closer to the black river and the moon suddenly clears the trees. It's bright and near-full, almost blinding to look at directly, and in its light you can just barely make out your companions as they kick off shoes, shuck off shorts, and slide into that black, black water.

The dim scene becomes blurry, almost dreamlike. You've left your glasses on the shore, perched atop a crumpled dress. The rocks are slick and unmoving as you wade clumsily into the river, then there's nothing beneath your feet, just cool, black water. You slice your feet happily through the unexpected depths, and nothing has ever felt freer than cool, black water between your toes. Across the river you move, cutting steadily through the surface of the still water. There's a rusty ladder tied haphazardly to the side of the largest, highest rock. In the light it would likely give you pause, but it is dark, the world is soft and fuzzy, and you find yourself clamoring up, up, up the rock, knees and elbows knocking against iron and stone.

You reach the top, and everything focuses. A car rumbles by on the nearby highway, but the sound is muffled, as if miles away. The forest is at your back, dark and still. The water below you is black, your companions' voices soft. You can just make out the sound of your dog's paws as she runs up and down the opposite bank, uncertain of the dark water. The diving board is a thick plank, slick with moss and water, but it is solid and you have no fear because the water is black, the moon bright, the trees quiet.

Then you are in the air, and the ten foot drop goes on, and on, until an eternity has passed and you are still falling, suspended in the air between the moon and the water. The river envelopes you, covering your head, surrounding your gently flailing limbs in cool nothingness. The breath you take as you surface is sharp, smelling of river and dirt and tree, sky and moon, and just a hint of happy, wet dog. Every part of you is breathing a sigh of relief. This is good, so very, very good.

A Visit To The Humane Society

Just a little friendly warning: if you don't like dogs, turn away now.  This post is ALL about dogs.

My boss, Mr. H, and his wife love Vista.  Like, they offer me large amounts of money and threaten to dog-nap her love.  Since I'm clearly not giving her up, we took a little walk over to the Pocahontas County Humane Society (where Vista originally escaped from, if you recall) to visit the dogs.  Because the PCHS doesn't have its own building, just space in the local rec center and a trailer for offices, the dogs are kept in runs when it's nice outside.  They were still outside when we arrived.
I didn't get photos of all of the dogs, but I did get a few.  Aside from one frightened fellow, every one was good-tempered and friendly.
 This dude was young, enthusiastic, and SO sweet.  Reminded me a lot of Vista, actually.
Sorry for the blur--this guy was hard to snap a photo of, he couldn't keep still!
This pretty girl was so calm and sweet.  She's clearly a lab mix, but much shorter and stockier than a lab.
And this is a rotten photo, but it's the only one I got of Gizmo, and I had to include her.  I am a big dog person.  I think large dogs generally have much better personalities than small dogs.  However, Gizmo is as sweet, calm, and un-yappy as they come.  She looks like a beagle, only miniturized, and is the smiliest little thing.
Another sweet girl, with the bluest eyes and prettiest brindle coloring.
The larger dogs are mostly kept in the runs.  There are a lot of gorgeous hounds, like this fellow!  He and his companion were so sweet.
These guys were obviously siblings--a boy and a girl, both short, stocky lab mixes with sweet personalities.  Amidst the mad barking of their neighbors, these two were nice and quiet.
I believe this is Jasper.  Such a handsome boy!  He was very enthusiastic, but responded promptly to my "down" command.  All of the big hounds did, actually.
Finally, Everest.  Everest is, as you might expect but probably can't tell from the photo, huge.  Huge, happy, friendly.  He likes to jump, and his size makes that a dangerous prospect, so whoever adopted him would need to correct that right away.  But oh, he was so sweet.  He and Reesie, another pit mix, just about stole the beating heart right out of my chest.  I have a weakness for big, sweet, block-headed dogs.

If you are in the county or environs and are on the lookout for an ideal canine companion, I highly recommend checking out the dogs at the PCHS.  I was so impressed with their temperaments--each and every one of them is so deserving of a forever home.

As for Mr. and Mrs. H, they're considering.  We'll see how it goes!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In Which Love Is Lavished

We had a little shelf-making class at the shop today.  These lovely ladies were waiting for us when Vista and I arrived early in the morning, which made for a very happy dog.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In Which I Have A Redhead On My Arm

This past weekend, I hosted my first non-family visitor!  My friend Laura, who grew up 2 blocks from where my parents live now but herself resides in New York City, flew in for a long weekend in the mountains. We had a fairly boring few days, at least as compared to my parents' visit, because of the storms and my own oddly somber mood, but we hit The Pretty Penny for some DELICIOUS homemade-from-scratch lasagna and berry cobbler and adventured to Lake Moomaw the next day.  These photos are mostly from that excursion.
Perks of flying into an itty-bitty airport: they let you sit on the ground with your dog while you wait.
Sorry for the slanted, taken-from-the-car shot.  Lake Moomaw is actually in Virginia, surrounded on all sides by the George Washington National Forest.
The lake was gorgeous and HUGE.  It's formed by the Jackson River and Gathright Dam, and has plenty of room for swimming, fishing, and boating.
It's a little beach, but it does the trick!
We'd gone wading in the Greenbrier the day before, but it was so nice to actually be able to swim!  Here's my redhead.
The sky was incredible.  We'd had ominous clouds all day, but we managed to find our own little pocket of beautiful.
Yes, I was there, too.  Sadly, we weren't able to stay terribly long, as dogs aren't permitted on the beach (boooooo), and I was worried about Vista in the car.

Laura came bearing gifts, including a pair of sandals from Greece (identical to a pair I bought in Athens years ago which fell during Leilani's initial reign of terror) and a pretty little coat hook for me.  For Vista, there was a gigantic bone, which she is alternately enthralled and baffled by.  It's a little too much for her to carry, but she keeps trying anyway!

Aside from our trip to Moomaw, Miss Laur and I mostly lay about and read.  Laura works for HarperCollins, and is singlehandedly responsible for my current love of romance novels.  Most of the books I own (and there are quite a few), she's read before, but she still is constantly picking them up and flipping through.  Once she's done, she leaves them in little stacks scattered through the house.  I spent last evening tripping over unexpected piles of books.

Laur and I both grew up on the outskirts of Washington, DC, but we developed into very different people.  I'm from Northern Virginia by way of the South (Tennessee and North Carolina), while Laura is from NOVA by way of the North.  So while I consider myself a Southerner and have always felt hemmed in by urban areas, Laura is undoubtably a Northerner and, after going to high school and college in urban areas, feels right at home in the big, bad city.  While country living is new to me, the country itself is not.  For Laura, it was ALL new.  Case in point (taken from an actual conversation):

Laura: Oh my God, that guy is on a tractor!  How cool!
Kelly: Um, yes.
Laura: What, it isn't cool?  Am I making a fool of myself?
Kelly: I mean, I guess it's cool.  But mostly it's...normal.

(For the record I should state that I learned to drive on a John Deere tractor.)  The weekend was peppered with conversations like that one, and the occasional observation that our green was "so much better than Central Park."  An opinion I certainly don't disagree with!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Another Happy List

This has been an interesting week, full of sleepless night, broken cars, torrential downpours, and bored, destructive dogs.  That says it's time for another happy list to me.

the light-up globe
my covered-with-clouds, supersoft bathrobe
promising new shows
wonderful, tragically cancelled shows
arriving tomorrow best friends
live recordings of Flight of the Concords
leftover carnival cotton candy
Mom's zucchini quiche recipe
my flowering cucumber vines
making plans to swim in the river

Okay, that's plenty of happy for today.  Should tide my over until Laura (the aforementioned best friend) gets here tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vista Weighs In

As Vista comes into her own not just as my dog, but as a family dog (versus a resident dog), she's figuring things out.  She's still very clingy and makes a ridiculous amount of noise when left alone, but at least she's finally learning to play.  The day she came home with me, I gave her a plastic bottle to chew on because they were Leilani's favourite toys when she was a pup.  They're recyclable, small enough to carry around, and make a TON of noise.  Vista wasn't interested in it, however.  Not then.

This week, all of that changed.  Vista got her jaws around an empty water bottle and a new toy was born.  To give you an idea of what I put up with because it makes my dog happy, I present the following as evidence:

On the upside, she can keep herself busy with a tennis ball for an hour.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pioneer Days

Here in Marlinton, we've got two big events: Pioneer Days, and the Autumn Harvest Festival and Roadkill Cook-Off.  No, I am not making that second one up.  Promise.  As the name implies, the Autumn Harvest Festival doesn't occur until September.  But last week, ah, last week was Pioneer Days.  They technically began on Wednesday, and by Friday, the town was in full fair mode.  A big flea market popped up next to the trail, a carnival appeared by the Humane Society, and all down Third Avenue, it was corn-dogs and fries, far as the eye could see.

Tamar came up Friday night and brought Jake, a VISTA from further afield in West Virginia, who we hadn't seen since PSO.  Friday night was all about shenanigans, first in our house, then up the mountain a ways at another VISTA's house.  Much trouble was gotten into, and fun had by all.  Saturday was our fair day.
First up, after a pancake breakfast, we went to the library to see if I'd won anything.  Guess what!  Unfortunately, there was nothing saying just WHAT I'd won the ribbon for (there were several categories).  I can only assume it was in the black and white category, but I didn't see any other black and white photos with ribbons.  Ah, well.
On to the flea market!  Tamar and Jake were completely perplexed by this pen holder which may or may not have shown the World Trade Center in flames.  For my part, the flea market was good to me.  I scored a vintage Rock City commemorative plate, a Pyrex bowl in a pattern I love, and, wonder of wonders, the holy grail of my growing globe collection: a light-up globe (which I have always, always wanted).
On to the craft hall (housed in the opera house).  Tamar had tons of quilts to look at, while Jake debated the merits of buying a mushroom log.  He decided in favor of mushrooms, then carried the log around for the rest of the day, prompting many looks and explanations that it was a MUSHROOM log, no, not just any log, it's going to sprout MUSHROOMS.

After a return home to rest, hydrate, and abandon Vista, we returned for the parade.  It was supposed to rain, so I didn't think much about how much skin I was showing.  Now I am just very grateful that my skin fades sunburns very quickly.  Still, ow.
This year's Pioneer Days theme (which baffled me a bit, since I assumed that PIONEERS were the theme) was the 1967 Marlinton High School football team, who had been the state champs that year.  Here the guys are on the float.
We ended standing behind Patch Adams at the parade, who was all decked out.  I liked the dude with the spoons best, however.
Finally, finally, Kat's float arrived, and she was...on a horse?  Surprise!
Apparently there was an extra horse hanging about, so Kat got to ride him!  Emily got recruited to be on the float as well.  Here she is tossing out candy!  The girl on the left is Ashely, another VISTA.
Best part of the parade?  I think so.

Renee arrived in the late afternoon, and after a pizza dinner, we headed out to the evening concerts.
Renee also wears TOMs, stylish girl that she is.
She was also pretty excited to be here!
As it got dark, I finally walked over to check out the carnival.
I grabbed a cotton candy here, then headed home, whereupon I collapsed and did not move for over a day.  Or so.

My crippling exhaustion aside, Pioneer Days were wonderful!  We had a full house of folks from all over, and so much fun.  So glad I got to experience this event, in this town.  The Autumn Harvest Festival will have to do some fancy footwork to measure up, that's for sure!

Pearl, Droop, and Beartown, Oh My!

I had big plans for Saturday the 3rd.  We were going to go all the way up Droop Mountain and back, all before lunch.  We did it, but then again, lunch was at 3 pm.  Still!  The first challenge of the day was rousing my roommates in order to meet my parents for breakfast.  Emily and Kat are more averse to looking like a bum than I am (spend some time as a dog-walker and you'll feel the same), but fortunately they agreed that a Saturday morning at the Greenbrier Grille didn't warrant dressing to the nines (at least as compared to my daily -4) and we were there plenty early.  Bellies full, we went our separate ways for the day.
First up for the parents, dogs, and me was the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace in Hillsboro, which happens to also be where Emily is a VISTA.  We had a lovely tour of the house (one which I'll happily recommend, and not just because Emily pays a third of the rent), then trundled on through Hillsboro.  We made a quick stop at the newly opened "Brier Patch," where I picked up a plate made by Eric Stahl, a local potter.  I've taken to eating off of it almost exclusively, which certainly cuts down on the number of dishes in the sink!
From Hillsboro, we continued up Droop to the Battlefield, where we checked out the museum and lookout tower, than paused for some family photos with the view.
Next stop: Beartown!
I had a feeling I would like Beartown, and it turned out that I adored it.  For some reason, I love boulders.  I can't even begin to explain it, but my favourite hike to take whenever we visited the Blue Ridge Mountains as a kid was FULL of boulders to climb over or navigate around, and I adored it.  But on to Beartown.
If you're interested in a tough hike, Beartown will not provide one.  It's about a 20 minute walk along the boardwalk to see it all, but it's a heavenly 20 minutes.  I'd love to go back some day when it could just be me and the rocks.  Having to flatten yourself and your dogs to the side railing every few minutes to let a family of 8 pass is irritating, to say the least.
View down to the boardwalk below us.  There's a photo of the very place the fellow in the orange is standing further down this post.
I LOVED the rocks.  The holes, the moss, I loved it all.
This gives you a better idea of the way Beartown is navigated.
Here's where the man in orange was standing in the earlier photo.  This little pass here reminded me of Rock City more than any other part.
One thing I love about the sepia tone of this film is how it automatically dates things in a way color film doesn't.  I see this and could easily believe it was taken 100 years ago, in a jungle somewhere.  Love it.

So that was our Saturday!  After lunch, which was sandwiches on my porch, I started a book, then fell asleep and accidentally slept for 3 hours, dogs lying all over me in bed.  It was a pretty full morning!  In the evening, Mom and Dad drove up to Snowshoe to watch the fireworks, but I wimped out and fell back to sleep.  They left Sunday morning, taking their dogs and greatly reducing the chaos level in the house.  You've already heard about our Sunday evening activities!

For my first official stint as a Pocahontas County hostess, I feel I did pretty well!  I kept everyone fed, exercised, and entertained, and didn't collapse from exhaustion until almost the end of the visit.  Thanks for coming, Mom and Dad!  It was great having you and the pups!