Monday, August 30, 2010

A Night At The Drive-In

On Friday, we had a gathering of all of the Pocahontas Communications Cooperative VISTAs.  One might think (as I did) that all of the PCC VISTAs would be located in Pocahontas County, but then one would be wrong.  PCC VISTAs are all over the place--they're even in Virginia!  So a gathering of them all involved folks coming from all over.  We had Jerry, Long-Lost Cousin Lilly, and Lilly's dog Gigi bunking with us and on Thursday night we all drove into Buckeye for a movie at the drive-in.

The Buckeye drive-in has been closed for a good while, but the screen remains.  Recently, after a fortuitous thrift store find (a little device that broadcasts sound on a radio frequency), a local fellow decided to breath life back into the old drive-in.  He picks a movie, sends out an e-mail announcing the show time, borrows a projector from the library, and away we go.  For now, the shows are free, but donations are encouraged to pay for food and to keep the grass cut.  Thursday's show was Return of the Jedi.
Jerry, Lilly, the two dogs, and I were all piled into the back of my Dad's Suburban (as my car was in Virginia through yesterday) with the rear of the car facing the screen and the window hatch popped open.  It turned out to be the best way to watch a film.
We had a blast!  It's so nice to be in a place where folks see the resurrection of a vestige of a previous era as a worthwhile pursuit.  I sure as heck do.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In Which I Continue to Grow

Another from this impromptu shoot: goofing around with my two favourite globes.

As of September 15, I will have been here for 4 months, or a third of my tenure as a VISTA.  I've been thinking lately about what I've learned--about myself, this place, and the universe in general--since May 15th.  As per usual, I made a list.

Things I Have Learned, or Weird Habits I've Picked Up in West Virginia
- Taking laundry off a clothesline after it's clean and dry is one of the most calming exercises I've found. Seriously, try it.  It's all very zen.
- I can no longer go to sleep if I have dirty dishes in the sink.  A little voice which sounds suspiciously like my mother's gets to harping on me and next thing I know I'm back in the kitchen.
- When driving up or down a mountain, if you see a sign telling you to slow to 25 miles an hour, do it.  If it's advising a speed of 10 mph, you might as well stop.
- My brain now translates the words "Thrift," "Goodwill," and "Salvation Army" to SHOPPING SPREE!  And I'm totally okay with this.
- Netflix is God's gift to rural communities.
- A trip to the swimming hole turns any blue day bright and happy.
- I may not be able to fix the broken toilet, but I can apparently diagnose it.  Just call me the Toilet Whisperer.  (Seriously, that's awful, please don't do that.)
- Sometimes a skunk will wander into your yard.  There's nothing to be done except to close the windows, crank up the fans, prepare for an unpleasantly stuffy night, and pray it doesn't take exception to anything while its out there.
- Living without air conditioning, a dryer, or contact lenses has not killed me.  Living without the internet did not kill me.  Luxuries are pretty much just that.
- I really, really love arugula, and hummus, and good Italian cheese.  I had no idea how much until I was denied access to all of it.
- Not having cell phone service is not the end of the world.  In fact, it's often kind of nice.
- I love drive-in movies just as much as I thought I would.  Vista remains undecided.
- I do not mind giant bugs.  I really, really hate cobwebs.
- A good flannel shirt is worth its weight in gold.

That's all for now.  Goodness knows how this list will grow once the snows descend upon us.  I'm already shopping for boots.  In August.  I guess that should go on the list, too.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


It occurred to me recently that there are no photos of Vista and me together.  Granted, I've only had her about 3 months, but considering the number of photos I take on a daily basis, one would think I'd have managed to get the two of us together.  Tonight, ensconced in my room, I decided to set the timer on my camera and give it a try.  The following series is the result.
Okay, now look...look at the camera...what are you doing?
If you could just maybe sit up?  Maybe?
Alright, maybe if I look at the camera and ignore the fact that you're impersonating a corpse...
Oh, come on, now.  Please?

And that was the end of that.  To be fair, it probably would have been wiser of me to attempt this BEFORE her nightly ear cleaning, the thing she hates most in the entire universe, no matter how many treats I bribe her with.  So the self-timer experiment failed, but I'd like to think that enlisting someone else to man the camera might help...sadly, I think her reaction will mainly be confusion regardless.

I did manage to get some other photos, minus Vista, all pretty and lit by the globe, which will probably show up in a subsequent post.  Until then!

Monday, August 23, 2010

What Vista Does In Her Down Time

This is what Vista did this morning:
This shows me pitching in, but she can do this with just about any toy for ever.  She is really, really good at entertaining herself.  It also helps that she is the first dog I've had who can see things on tv.  To date, here is the list of her favourite things to watch:

1. Dinosaurs (like in this show--she really loved the sabertooth tiger episode)
2. Horses
3. Car chases
4. Sword fights
5. Anything animated (she loved Futurama)

Clearly it mostly has to do with movement (she gets really excited when I move the Wii curser around onscreen), but it's also sound, I think.  We haven't watched any sports, but I'm betting she'd love that, too.  Her absolute fav are horses, for sure.  When there are horses, she puts her paws on the middle shelf (the tv sits on an old bookshelf) and gets her face right up close.  Just one more way that having this dog around makes my life a little bit interesting.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In Which I Muse On Love And Loneliness

I've been thinking lately about loneliness.  I've been single since February of '08, and before that relatively short relationship I'd been single basically since high school.  I'm used to being single.  I do pretty well alone.  I have some of the best friends a girl CAN have, but most of them are in wonderful, committed, long-term relationships, and that can wear you down if you think about it too much.  It doesn't help that I got an e-mail yesterday from a dating site I signed up with a few months ago, and 2 of the 6 suggested matches were gay men looking for "marriages of convenience" with lesbian women.  Gotta admit, that was a little depressing.

Then I made things worse by deciding to watch my current Netflix movie this afternoon, which happened to be The Young Victoria.  And then, misty-eyed and sniffling from that, I clicked on a link and stumbled across this video, an animation of two StoryCorps interviews with the same couple, Danny and Annie, about the beginning and ending of their life-long love.  If it doesn't make you laugh and cry, then you probably don't have a heart.
The sweetness and sadness of it reminded me of how much I'm missing out on, being single.  But it also reminded me of how much, hopefully, I have to look forward to.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In Which I Am Famous

The local paper, the Pocahontas Times, has been running these columns for the last few weeks.  Each week, they run a little bio piece on each of the VISTAs working in Pocahontas County and this week it was my turn!  So, here I am.  I should point out, however, that while I may have balked initially at the question about my goals, I did answer.  I have no idea why it's blank.  So, for the record, I do HAVE goals.  They're just a bit more amorphous than other peoples' might be.  (Be happy, own a used book shop by the sea, marry a fabulously wealthy man, etc.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another Weekend Home

So, home!  Photos first:
It took Vista a long time to get used to my dad's monstrous car, but after about an hour and a half of pacing its (not inconsiderable) length, she settled in.
But the realization that she was at the perfect height to watch the world speed by was irresistible.
Mama took me to this fantastic little bookshop.  Lord only knows how long it's been there, but this was a first visit for me.  It's equal parts comics and used book shop, both halves coexisting peacefully.  The place had a haphazard feel, but I quickly realized and was incredibly impressed by someone's diligent alphabetization of every section of books.  Mama had to drag me out of there, practically kicking and screaming.  We also went to another shop, home of the aforementioned Macabre section, which, said shelves aside, was basically disappointing.

Books in hand, I grabbed coffee with a good friend and then scuttled off to these guys to get 5 inches (and it feels like a solid pound) of hair chopped off.  After that, I finally got the Thai food I've been craving (Pad See Ew with chicken, if you're curious), and caught a late showing of the eagerly awaited Scott Pilgrim with another good friend (my SP avatar--pre-hair chopping, his SP avatar).  I am choosing to forget the agonizing car troubles and conclude with: Good, good times.

Finally, the wedding.  Laura (not this one; I know a few Lauras) is someone I can't ever remember not knowing.  We grew up in the same church, went to the same schools, and frequently haunted the same hang-outs.  The week before my 16th birthday, as I was just about to leave for Mexico for 2 weeks, Laura gave me a miniature Audi convertible and a hand-made pin which read "It's My Birthday!  So You Better Be Nice To Me," to take along with me.  The car lived on my desk for YEARS, and made me so very, very happy.  Laura's the sort of gal who thinks about the stuff that will make other people happy.  She's pretty awesome that way.  So even though I didn't really know anyone at the wedding (I was the only friend from way-back-when invited, it seems), it was still so wonderful to see her, all dressed in white and glowingly happy.

Sunday, I had a fantastic brunch with a fantastic couple of friends for one of their birthdays, and then--after a short period in which I was trapped in a Metro station upon realizing they'd hiked the fares without changing the website and I was 20 cents too poor to get out--I threw dog and paraphernalia in the car (my car, finally, although now the sun roof rattles ominously and the interior lights NEVER TURN OFF) and headed back to the mountains.

Which brings us to today.  Lovely, quiet, boring today.  Vista was apparently so exhausted by her canine cousins that she might actually sleep all day today.  Would that I could, too!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Snippets From Home

Snippets of my weekend so far:

On unsolicited magazines.
Me: Why are you getting Architectural Digest?
Mom: I don't know, it just appeared one day.
Me: Well, that's odd.
Mom: Why are you getting Bon Appetit?
Me: What? No, I'm not. I am?
Mom: Yes, you didn't order it?
Me: Are you kidding me? No.
Mom: Wanna trade?
Me: Yes, alright.

On failed packing.
Me: Dang!
Mom: What'd you forget?
Me: What?
Mom: You always forget SOMETHING, so what is it?
Me: Oh, um, cell phone charger and...pants.
Mom:  Pants??
Me: ...Yup.
Mom: Wow, Kel.

On yet another broken car.
Car guy and family friend Nacho, upon sighting us in his shop: YOU'RE CURSED!
(later in the conversation)
Me: So what are you going to drive, then?
Mom: I'll take the Jag, I guess.
Nacho: No!  Whatever you do, DON'T TOUCH THE JAG.

On books and being oblivious.
Bookstore guy: Wow, you're only buying books from the Macabre section on Friday the 13th?
Me: What? I...oh...I guess...yes?

On haircuts.
Brandon the stylist: Okay, so how much do you want off the length?
Me: Oh, I don't know.  I'm bad at this! what you think is best.
Brandon:  No.
Me:  What?
Brandon:  No.  I am not psychic.
Me:  I know!  I know.  Okay.  You cut, and if I hate it I will not blame you.  Cross my heart.  I will lie to your face and tell you I love it.  Deal?
Brandon:  ...Fine.  But you're going to hate it.
Me:  I won't!
(I didn't)

On more broken cars.
Me: The food's inside.
Sam: Great!  Now, what's wrong?
Me: The stupid interior lights on this car won't go off and the sun roof is rattling and whistling and I HAVE to be able to drive this thing home on Sunday, there are no other cars to use!
Sam, while hugging me:  It's okay.  Calm down.
Me:  I swear, everyday I inch closer to homicidal mania.
Sam, still hugging:  I know you do.  There, there.

Today: wedding!  Woohoo!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In Which I Have Apparently Angered The Universe

The three days since I left the beach have been eventful.  Here, I made you a list of reasons why (surely you've realized how I feel about lists by now):

- My car is in the shop in Vienna, and my mother's (which I've been driving for a month) decided to have a melt down in North Carolina, so I drove my father's Suburban, which is easily twice the size of my little Jeep, back here.  The combination of the unfamiliar (and MASSIVE car) and a new, supposedly easier route had me lost in Norfolk for an hour and a half and turned a 5-6 hour drive into 8.
- The bag of dog food I brought back with me protested being removed from the car and retaliated by exploding as I lifted it, leaving me covered in several pounds of kibble.  I'm sure the local bears were THRILLED by that development.
- Today at the shop, something was tickling my hair, and when I reached up to dislodge it I inadvertently angered the bee that had apparently taken up residence there.  My reaction to this was so extreme that Mrs. H worriedly demanded, "Are you allergic to bee stings??" to which I maturely replied, "I am allergic to PAIN."  Then I went home and spent the rest of the afternoon alternately cradling my aching arm and whimpering, and standing with my hand in the ice box.  I may or may not have called my mother to whine in the middle of the afternoon.  Now, hours later, the pain in my arm has ebbed, but only because my thumb has swollen to twice its normal size.
- Also this afternoon, my father called to tell me my cat has been in the hospital since yesterday.

All I can think is, if this is the universe's response to my taking a vacation, then the above photo might actually have to last me the rest of my life.  I don't think my car, pets, or fingers (not to mention my wretchedly low pain tolerance) could take another three days like these.

(Random--rare--awesome tidbit from today: my supervisor paid me a visit, during which I discovered that he had accidently stumbled upon Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his famous "I Have A Dream" speech while interning in Washington, a story he followed up with a casual mention of having seen The Beatles in concert, the very last time they performed together.  How ridiculous is that??)

In Which I Escape

My goodness, I've been neglecting you, blog.  To be honest, I haven't done a ton of exploring for a bit, mostly because I was feeling suffocated by the mountains.  I had a yen for the ocean, so last weekend I escaped to North Carolina.
There were endless beaches.
Ice cold surf.
Scrubby dunes.
Gorgeous little girls.
Gorgeous bigger girls.
Baxter and Howard.
Oh, my heart, Tripp.
And Mama.

Just like that, my soul was restored.

Also helpful:
Beloved bookshops
Familiar thifting stomping grounds
A salt water pool in the back yard
Ice cream shops on the waterfront

I thought that it would be hard, this trip, because my dad, brother, and our dogs wouldn't be there.  I almost didn't go.  But I needed an escape, and the result surprised me.  I lived in my aunt's beach home all last summer, and somehow being back felt more like coming home than my last actual visit home did.  My heart laid claim to this place, in an odd and wonderful way.