Sunday, May 30, 2010

In Which Mt. Droop Is Scaled

We had thunderstorms all week long, and the wild pink Peonies at the end of our stone wall suffered greatly.  I clipped a few to place in my pretty little Ikea vase and brighten up our kitchen window.  It worked, beautifully.  Hopefully the buds which have yet to bloom will recover.  They're the only color in the yard!

I am a fan of thunderstorms.  I always have been.  They simultaneously terrify and enrapture me, much like turbulence of airplanes (don't ask me why).  I was worried about Vista, but she was more alarmed about the sound of my boss, Mr. H, squeezing his empty water bottle than she was about the thunder.  A benefit from spending the first 10 months of her life tied outside, I suppose.  The nice thing about storms where we are is that they fill the mountains surrounding out little valley with the loveliest mist.  Folks here call it mountain ghosts.  The paper predicted partly cloudy weather all weekend, which I have come to realize is about as good as the weather can get around here.  Party cloudy means partly sunny, which means maybe probably no rain, which means heck yes, we can use the clotheslines!

This is my life now.  The days I can do laundry are the good ones.

Our third roommate was set to arrive on Saturday, but Emily (my roommate who's been here since day one--check out her blog almost heaven?) and I decided that a free, sunny day was too valuable to waste. We needed groceries, Vista needed toys and a bed, and we both desperately wanted to get out of the valley for a while.  The nearest "big city" is a place called Lewisburg, in the next county over.  It's an hour away, and the drive takes us over a mountain called--I am not making this up--Droop.  We left keys in the mailbox for Kat to use when she arrived, loaded up reusable grocery bags and a cooler, and started the topsy turvy climb up Mount Droop.

My long-lost Kentucky cousin, who I met at the VISTA Pre-Service Orientation, is stationed in a little town 18 miles from Lewisburg, and was driving in join us for lunch.  We arranged to meet at an itty-bitty bookstore simply called "The Bookstore," which was a wonder of dusty spines and old records, but sadly lacking any romance novels.  I read many other things, of course, but romance novels are a favourite way to lose myself of an afternoon.  I've run into an inordinate amount of used bookshops carrying everything but romance, and have saved up enough indignation for a whole other blog post.  So, you know, something to look forward to.

Long-lost cousin Lilly joined Em and I and we explored the single street which is downtown Lewisburg.  I popped into another bookshop which DID have romance novels, and happily walked out with two old Harlequin westerns which cost me a whopping $1 each.  Joy.  We stuck our heads into cafe after cafe, eventually finding one which wasn't too rich for the budgets of three girls living on the poverty level.  It proved to be a good choice, and we walked away happy.  A continued exploration of the street revealed an organic clothing store with prices unbelievably high for the area, even taking into account the proximity of The Greenbrier.  Emily fell in love with a fantastic pink dress, and has been talking about it ever since.  Knowing her, she'll end up buying it and will find the perfect opportunity to wear pink sequins in rural West Virginia.  We also found a place specializing in West Virginia wines, another oddly pricey clothing store, and a gallery which carries some of the pieces made by the woodshop where I work.

Then, Cousin Lilly headed back to her little town, and Em and I braved Walmart.  On a Saturday.  In West Virginia.  To say I was terrified would not be overstating.  The place was humongous and baffling, and I found myself making big circles, backtracking and cutting across racks of children's clothing to find what I needed.  Unsurprisingly, 90% of my purchases were for Vista.  Seeing her absolute joy in her new toys when we got home was completely worth it, however.  Her main occupation has become running around the house which each toy in her mouth, prancing and gleeful.  Sweet girl.

Kat and her parents were at the house when we returned, and now we are three.  Three VISTAs and a dog.  Named Vista.  Confusing, but happy.

In Which It Is Official

After days of suspense, I finally received an e-mail from my landlord, aggrieved (the first word was "Argh!"), but acquiescing.  He agreed that we could keep the dog.  All that remained was to determine whether or not she was indeed the dog who had escaped her leash outside the humane society or another dog entirely.  I made "Found" fliers and posted her photo on Craigslist, but before I could even begin to post the fliers, the universe intervened and saved me the trouble.  The note which had been left with the dog outside the humane society gave her name as Charlotte, but since the pup never responded to it, it didn't much help the situation.

Yesterday morning we were walking to the farmers market when a man leaned out the window of his bright red pick-up and shouted to me, "Did you find that dog?"

"She found me," I replied.

"Her name is Charlotte.  We left her at the humane society because we couldn't afford to keep her," he continued, smiling.  Charlotte herself showed no sign of recognition, either of the name or the man.

"Oh!  Well, she escaped."

"Yeah."  He paused.  The light he was stopped at turned green.  "Her name is Charlotte."  Still smiling, he waved and drove away.

I looked down at the dog at the end of my purple leash.  "Charlotte?" I tried.  She didn't respond.  We'd started calling her Vista the day before.  I tried that instead.  Tail wagging, she looked up at me and did the happy little butt-wiggle I had come to recognize was her way of saying Gee golly I'm so happy I'm not tied up anymore!  "I guess you're mine now," I concluded, and we continued on to the market.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Night With The Pup

I wish I had more photos of the as-yet-unnamed pup to show off, but one of my cameras' upload cords is missing, and the other camera's battery died yesterday and I was too busy with the dog to remember to charge it.  So, just text.

The dog proved to be golden in the car.  She came with me up the road to Hillsboro to join my roommate for lunch, and sat quietly underneath my chair on the porch of the Pretty Penny.  We went by the dollar store (Nordstrom, for those of you paying attention) and picked her up a collar and some puppy chow, and she spent the rest of the day chilling in the shop.  She even came with me to a meeting in town, where she lay quietly behind my chair for the duration of the hour and a half of discussion.

I was worried about her being at the house, but again (and I'm hoping this will be a theme), she was golden.  As I mentioned before, I don't think she's ever been an indoor dog, but now that she's had a taste of that sweet life, she's unwilling to give it up.  It took a solid ten minutes of me sitting on the porch steps for her to work up the nerve to wander into the yard.  Once she got going, she had a fantastic time, and if she went too far she'd come back as soon as I called.  However, once we went back inside for any length of time, it was like all of her progress reset to zero and we had to go through it all again the next time we ventured out.  Fortunately, I like sitting on my porch steps.

She was wary of the stairs inside until my roommate came home and started to use them (her bedroom, a half bath, and storage are the only things up there).  Dog followed up and down, up and down, and then, when Roomie settled in the kitchen, the dog continued her pattern.  Up and down, up and down.  I don't think I've ever seen anyone enjoy stairs as much as this dog does!  After about ten minutes of this pattern, she descended one last time and dropped the brown bath mat from the second floor triumphantly on the floor.  She was so proud of herself, it was difficult to work up enough scold in my voice to convince her that what she'd done was wrong.  She is a cutie!

She's grabbed a couple of things which don't belong to her (in addition to the bath mat), but once you speak up, she drops them with alacrity.  She slept the whole night through cuddled up to me, with her head on a pillow, the goof.  I half expected her to wake me up early, but she was dead to the world until my alarm went off.

Still no word from my landlord.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In Which There Is Fur

This the little turkey who followed me to work this morning, all the way down 3rd Avenue from the hardware store.  She looked as though she'd spent the night outside, but was fine and healthy-looking otherwise.  She had no interest in any of the houses on the street, and when I invited her in the shop, she acted as if she'd never been in a building before.

A walk to the humane society revealed that someone had left a dog tied outside their building the night before with a note, but when they'd arrived this morning, the rope had been chewed through and the dog was gone.  Our girl found me less that two blocks from there.  That's a bit too much coincidence for me to swallow.  She's been with me all day, and has proven to be perfectly sweet and calm.  She makes friends with everyone and when nothing's going on, plops down and goes to sleep.  If she is the dog from the shelter, then she's about 10 months old, which seems right on the money.

My roommate who's here (the other one arrives this weekend) has fallen in love with her already, so now we're just waiting to hear from our landlord.  I don't want to name her yet, just in case I have to find her another home.  For now, I'm just enjoying her quiet company.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

In Which It Figuratively Rains AND Pours

A few fun things happened in Marlinton this weekend.  A play was put on at the Opera House.  There was a farmer's market Saturday morning.  Nearby, a Civil War battle was re-enacted.  I was looking forward to these things (as well as checking out the Presbyterian church in the center of town), but I was in Charlottesville, VA, watching my little brother graduate from the University of Virginia.  Casey and I checked out some of the MANY used book shops in town Friday afternoon, and I spent far more money than I should have.  His fraternity put on a party for the families in town, complete with a slide show.  On Sunday, fun times were had by all (especially the graduates--the bars in C'ville open at 6 am on graduation day), but I'll admit that it was nice to get back to Marlinton yesterday morning.
I came in to work for a few hours, talked to the guys, and snapped some photos of Larry and Mikey sanding down an old chair to be refinished (those are Mikey's hands above).  Since I hadn't gotten much sleep all weekend, I decided to head home early.  However, once I was there, it seemed a shame not to whip up a batch of blondies (or, as my grandmother called them, "congo bars"), since I finally had all of the ingredients.
Sadly, I have no photos of the finished product.  By the time it came out of the oven, I was too distracted by a bleeding finger and a leaking washer to grab the camera.

While the bars were in the oven, I decided to start a load of laundry, my first attempt since installing the washer myself.  I was feeling pretty good about my housewife-y afternoon, so I tackled the dishes.  It was then that I heard what I thought was water, outside the washer.  I turned off the faucet and checked, but didn't see anything.  Huh.  Returning to the sink, I dunked my left hand in a bowl of sudsy water...and sliced the tip of my finger open on my one sharp knife.

Here's where the massive blood loss enters into the story.  My finger would NOT stop bleeding.  No amount of pressure seemed to do the trick, and I was bleeding all over the place.  And since nothing is ever easy, it was then that I realized that the water sound I'd heard earlier was being caused by the hose coming out the back of the washer spraying water all over the place.  Long story (and lots of bleeding) short, I figured out that someone at some point had jerry-rigged the thing so that while the washer would leak, it would be a CONTAINED leak, draining through a hole in the floor to the cellar below.  Fantastic.

Finally, the blondies were ready.  At this point, I had my finger wrapped in a paper towel and bound with masking tape.  It was the only thing that seemed to work.  I finished the dishes one-handed, cut the blondies into bars, and carried a plate of them over to Mr. McCarty's (a lovely gentleman who let me use his bathroom when we had no water).  I assured him that the blondies contained none of my blood, and the bars got the Charlie McCarty seal of approval.  I delivered the second plate, talked to the dogs who barked at me as I passed, and returned home for my first foray into hanging clothing to dry.
 Is there a proper way to hang clothing to dry?  If so, it's not something that was ever included in my education.  I worked by instinct and the fervent desire to shield my underwear from the road.  I think I succeeded.  It may take a mite longer than just throwing it all into the dryer, but it sure is prettier.
But I swear, if it starts raining, someone is going to pay.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In Which I Conquer a Washing Machine

The last few days have been spent settling in, both at the house and at my assignment. If you're eagle-eyed, you might have noticed the little list of links appear to the right of the posts on the blog, all of them having something to do with my new job or my adopted town.

The Locust Hill Bed & Breakfast is where my parents stayed the night after helping me move in. It's simply beautiful, and the food was fantastic. Dave and Paula Zorn, the owners, are both massage therapists--you can bet I'll be checking out the spa options when my birthday rolls around! All in all, I highly recommend it if you feel like a little mountain getaway.

It rained pretty much nonstop from Sunday to Tuesday, but the ice cream social put on by the Go Marlinton folks went off regardless. My roomie and I attended, and ice cream was consumed, even though it was WAY too cold for it! We also picked up a couple of packets of wild flower seeds, which we'll plant as soon as we're sure the freezes are done for the year. It's been so cold, it seems like that day will never arrive!

Marlinton has two dollar stores, which are referred to by my site supervisor's wife as "Nordstrom" and "Neiman Marcus." I have to say, compared to the dollar stores where I'm from, these are the height of luxury! They have everything from stationary to groceries. Mrs. H, the aforementioned wife, has decided to be my Marlinton mom. Evidently, my lack of pots and pans has been keeping her awake at night, so she kidnapped me this morning for a trip to "Neiman Marcus" to rectify the situation. She treated me to a set of pots, a pan, some bag clips, a dish rack, and a little hand-held mixer. I didn't say so at the time, but all of these things will play a part in the blondies I'm making to thank her and the folks who let me use their bathroom when we first arrived in town to a house with no water. I also somehow came away from the excursion with a hanging spider plant, so perhaps my porch won't be quite so bare now.

My most exciting day was Monday, when we got our water turned on (FINALLY) and I decided to hook up the washing machine, despite having no idea how one goes about hooking up a washing machine. The end result was a slightly damp kitchen, muddy boots, and a comprehensive knowledge of the location of every valve in the house. Oh, and a functioning washer. I suppose that's important. Then, because my back didn't quite hurt as much as I figured it could, I also tackled the bathroom. I daresay that bath and toilet had never been as clean as they are now. Now if we could just get the toilet off the porch, the kitchen faucet fixed, and the internet hooked up we'd be golden.

Because of our current lack of internet, the best way to keep up on my odd little life is to follow me on Twitter. I can update it from my phone, so it's a little more current than this blog at the moment.

Monday, May 17, 2010

In Which I Fall In Love With a Hardware Store

Yesterday I took a walk into town.  It was Sunday, so everyone was either at church or French's, the diner. The only other place that was open was the coffee/bike repair shop, and I was the only person inside.  They have free wifi, and are thus my new second home (and the reason there have been any updates to this blog at all).  But that's not what I wanted to talk about.  I wanted to talk about C.J. Richardson's, the love of my life.
When we arrived at the house, we discovered that not only did we not have running water (completely my fault, I was supposed to call and get it turned on and forgot), but we also had no shower rod.  Deciding only to tackle the things we could, after we moved everything inside, we headed into town, hoping for a hardware store.  What we found was beyond my wildest dreams.

Did they have shower rods?  You bet.  What about the little nails I need?  Those, too.  Oh, but there's so much more.

Need a bicycle?  Look no further.  Washing machine?  Check.  Saucepan?  Aisle 3.  The best part is, despite the sheer variety of product, it's not a huge store.  This is no ACE, no Lowes.  You walk inside and it feels like you've been there your entire life.  But thats not even the best part.

I was standing at the register while the gentleman who had helped me was writing up my receipt and I happened to glance above me.

"Is that a...mandolin?" I asked.

My hardware store friend smiled, and gestured towards the front windows, where there was a display of banjos.  How had I missed those??  "Yup.  We've been open since nineteen-three and have always sold musical instruments."

Which is pretty much the greatest thing I've ever heard.

God help me if they ever hang any ukuleles over the register.  I'll be a goner.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

In Which There Is A Creek

I am in Marlinton. I have so much to say, to tell. Too much. So I’m instead going to focus on one very small, very important thing. My creek.
This is my house. Not the big green one, the little white one hidden by the apple tree.  They are partially connected by a porch, but are otherwise completely separate.

We knew that our house had a creek in the backyard.  What we didn’t realize is that the creek actually flows UNDERNEATH the house.  I’m not going to lie, I picked my bedroom purely because I can see the creek directly beneath my window.  Wouldn’t you?
The window is my bedroom.  The creek is my creek.
The view from the other side.  Oh, and for the record, the water is GORGEOUS.  Clean and wonderful. I'd bathe in it if there wasn't a highway 50 feet away.
The view out my window.  Ignore the grossness, please.  I've only been in the house for about 22 hours.

I love you, little creek.  So much.  Your trickle makes me think it's raining all the time, but I'll get used to that.

Stay tuned: tomorrow it's time to meet the town.

Friday, May 14, 2010

In Which I Hyperventilate

I have not been avoiding you. Honest. I spent the last four days in Atlanta, Georgia at my Pre-Service Orientation, making the acquaintance of some of the most amazing people.  There was the recently returned Peace Corps volunteer who plans to consume a 40 lb bag of rice over the next year while developing farmers markets in West Virginia.  The man who lost his leg in a sudden, tragic turn of a events a year ago and rather than dwell on it, decided to devote his time to a non-profit in his community.  I should also mention that he was CONSTANTLY upbeat, even while dragging me to the front of a bar to sing a Ke$ha song (who I'd never even heard of) in a pub quiz challenge.  So, so many people who, rather than floundering around in the year after graduating from college, have decided to live on next to nothing and do something GOOD.  I feel like a slow learner.

Oh, and--I am not making this up--my randomly assigned roommate turned out to be my long-lost cousin.

Magical things happen at PSOs.

I came home to one part neatly packed trailer, 3 parts chaos.  I have been trying desperately to finish the fantastic packing job my mom has undertaken this week, but every time I go to put more thing in a bag, I get choked up.  Plus, my mother is so frighteningly efficient that by the time I got home from the airport, not only had she left me no clothes to wear tomorrow, she'd also left me no light to pack by.  I ordered up dinner, but in my emotional haze, accidentally sent the pizza to the home of the last people I house sat for.  On the upside, free pizza.

My bed is packed, and I might not sleep tonight.  I would rather have a few more hours to snuggle with my girls than toss and turn in an unfamiliar bed.

Damn, but I'm going to miss my dogs.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

in which I preemptively miss my mother

Lots of girls say that their mother is their best friend.  I know, I've heard them.  Well, my mother actually IS my best friend.  She taught me how to play the piano, mouthed the words to the song that I could not remember at my very first voice recital, and waltzed with me in a doctor's office, when the waiting was driving me mad.  She teaches me to do all of the little things in the kitchen I never learned because I'd always scoffed at her, and she only gloats a little bit.  She's my bad chick flick buddy, my museum companion, and my British murder mystery friend.  She geeks out with me about the latest episode of Castle.

Today we are going to take a walk and see Babies, which seems to me to be fine Mother's Day occupations.

She is my best friend, and I'm going to miss her so, SO much.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

in which things are set on fire

A few weeks ago, I decided that the best way to celebrate moving was to get everyone I could in one place and stuff their faces.  That happened last night.  We had burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, hush puppies, and baked beans.  When it got dark, we lit a fire and brought out the marshmallows.  I wish I'd taken more photos, but my brain was in a million places at once, it seems, and I found I was too busy enjoying myself to remember to grab the camera!  I didn't get photos of everyone, sadly, but I did manage to snap some of The Best People in the World (many of whom were conveniently located in my parents' backyard last night).
Chris and Peter.  Two of my oldest friends.  Christy has been putting up with me since kindergarten (!!), and Peter since 7th grade.  I decided to decorate with my globe collection, which led to a rollicking conversation about politics, cartography, and the mythical "choose your own adventure" globe.
Newer friends.  Marley I met in college when she started dating a friend from high school (to whom she's now married).  She is a fantastic photographer (responsible for last November's photo shoot with my brother), and together with her hubby Alex is transforming a house from something hilariously bad to something amazingly gorgeous.  C I met through similar circumstances.  She started dating my friend Adam and is one of the reasons I decided to stop being so dang terrified and try my hand at cooking.  Clearly I make it a point to surround myself with beautiful people.
Also beautiful dogs.  Leilani made the rounds, but mainly hung out with Adam and Sam (pictured here).  She is half Norwegian Elkhound and it was hovering around 90 degrees outside, so she didn't do a great deal of moving once the food came out.  And yes, Sam IS wearing silly toe-shoes.
It was kind of too hot for a fire, but we lit one anyway.  Sparks flew, marshmallows were scorched, and s'mores were devoured.  Yum.

The evening ended with a fantastic game we usually call "The Drawing Game" or "The Story Game."  It's basically a version of Telephone, only you start with a written sentence, which the next person converts to a drawing.  The person after that, seeing only the drawing, converts it back to a sentence, and so on and so on until you run out of room on your paper and hilarity ensues.  Our game involved poor Adam becoming both Bill Nye the Science Guy and then Hitler in pretty quick succession.  Peter played a part, too, but I think he stayed himself.  That hair is pretty remarkable.

So the farewell party is done, and the packing shall begin.  Just not today.  I managed to sleep in until 2:30 pm (later than I have since high school!), and have spent the day eating leftover hushpuppies and reading.  I'm hoping that if I continue to put off the packing, in the meantime someone will invent a way for me to move all of my belongings from here to West Virginia without actually packing them up.  No? Dang.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

In which things begin and end

Garbage Man
Rock Star
English Teacher
Art Historian
Veterinary Technician

These are all things which I was going to be, at various points in my life.  My earliest ambition was to be a garbage man, because (and I am not making this up) they were allowed to get up a lot earlier than I was. Also the riding on the side of the truck thing was pretty cool.  Some of these things I have studied to be, some I have not.

I am none of these things.

Last fall, I walked away from a graduate program I loved.  I realized that despite my love for the subject matter and people, I was asking my parents to drop a lot of money on something I wasn't sure I would ever use.  I loved it, yes, but wasn't sure whether loving it was enough.  So I did what any person with a degree in art history would do: I got a job walking dogs.  I did that job until yesterday.  Now it is over and I am moving on to something else.

Two months ago, at lose ends, I started casting around for opportunities which would enable me to move somewhere new, do something different, but weren't permanent.  I found VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America).  I applied for a position which actually has something to do with decorative arts, and was accepted.  Two weeks from today, I'm moving to a small town in West Virginia for a year.  This blog will serve as my journal during my time out there.  It will hopefully be journal and correspondence both.

I am unbearably excited.  I am also terrified.

Okay.  Here we go.