Thursday, May 29, 2008

Daytripping - Raccoon Creek State Park, Pennsylvania

Before I tell you about my trip, I want to insert some gratitude for my wee little gas sipper:

I get about 34mpg just zipping back and forth to town, but on the highway it easily gets 40mpg. I've always thought tiny 4-cylinder engines were smart, but now that gas prices are so high more people understand why I like it so much.
Alright, I'm done talking about gas prices. For now. But, yes, I plan to revisit the subject...

Raccoon Creek State Park is located in Pennsylvania just to the east of the northernmost tip of the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. And, being as close as it is to West Virginia, it is beautiful.

So what did it take to get me to go? To get me to leave West Virginia, even for such a short time? To take me away from my writing, my coffee house construction, my kids, my daily chaos routine?

Part of it was the lure of a walk in the woods, but there's no need to go anywhere for that. I am very blessed with plenty of woods and plenty of walking space right here at home. Plenty of that West Virginia beauty, too.

Really, the reason I went? Friends. Good old friends.
They drove down from Ohio and Raccoon Creek State Park is just about exactly the halfway point (now that we know this, we should get together more often).
And it was worth the trip.

Walking up a hill, Nancy spotted this:

And from the back side of the tree it looked like this:

I wonder how many years it's been there?

It was just enough further north that jack-in-the-pulpit still sat in his pulpit:

All those beautiful pictures of green and now I have to throw this one in:

I've never seen a giant M&M vending machine.
Maybe I'm just not paying attention.

Thanks, Lisa and Nancy, for being my friends and loving a walk in the woods as much as I do.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

One more reason...

...I love West Virginia:
This tractor was stopped at the stoplight at 4-Corners in Grafton - the intersection of U.S. Routes 119 and 50.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Spring = Mud

Spring = Mud
Anyone who lives outside the realm of concrete and asphalt knows this is true.

This is one good reason that I am the queen of practical footwear. 'Practical' really means sturdy, comfortable and waterproof:

Screech, however, is not so practical.

To her, springtime means freedom from footwear:

Minimal footwear:

Or cute, pink and girlish footwear:

Screech may not be practical, but she is stylish.

Tracking mud into school is apparently not stylish (maybe someone should have told me this before now).

So, rather than succumb to her mother's boring and mundane solution (boots), she has come up with her own ideas about how to keep the mud off her feet between here and the bus stop:

[Look closely at these pictures and you'll see that I have not been as inventive in the quest to keep the mud out of the house.]

Screech demonstrating the tying-plastic-bag-handles-around-ankle technique:

And the not quite stylish results:

If it doesn't warm up soon, I may suggest adding some sort of practical insulation to these bags to prevent frostbite.

I just discovered a new site -Picture West Virginia- and their current topic is 'Spring,' so I decided to submit this post over there, too. Go check out the robins eggs and cherry blossoms (and if this muddy post gets linked, I'll let you know).

Friday, May 23, 2008

'Shoot to Win'

I followed this down Route 50, coming back from Preston County:

I've always said that I am going to get a bumper sticker made especially for PC that says "Weird Load," but this guy wins for the day because, for once, our load wasn't all that weird.
What were we hauling? You'll have to wait until I get time to post about it over at The Grafton 123 House of Coffee blog site.....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Flying Silver Tricycle

Every once in a while I drive by this tricycle.
Every time I drive by, I say I need to stop and take a picture.
Yesterday I finally did.

I was kinda' hoping someone would come out of the house and ask me what I was doing, but the driveway is long and no one did.
I still want to ask if there's some significance or symbolism in a suspended silver tricycle.

Maybe they just couldn't bear to part with it when their child grew up and eventually moved away.
Maybe they couldn't stand to find another home for it, so hung it in the tree to keep it out of the way but close at hand, waiting for grandkids perhaps.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Quit Smoking Ad from 1900

Strategic placement in advertising is apparently not a new phenomenon.

Here is a newspaper clipping from The Grafton Leader in July 1900 (yes, that's right, 1900):

I think it's interesting that the Insurance Company is listed right before the tiny ad for "No-To-Bac." I'll bet they sell life insurance.

Okay, putting cynicism aside -or at least pushing it to the backseat- it's a fascinating ad:

"To quit tobacco easily and forever, be magnetic, full of life, nerve and vigor, take No-To-Bac, the wonder worker that makes weak men strong."

These selling techniques must work because we are bombarded with the same messages in modern advertising. Today the wording is not quite so blatant, but it's the same thing, only with a shinier, brighter, louder delivery - subtlety that's harder to laugh about.

Fifty cents or One Dollar. That's a ton of money for 1900; I'm not sure how to figure it out in today's dollars, but it had to be a lot of money back then.

I've been going through old, old magazines and books and I've come across lots of interesting things. What I find most fascinating, though, is the consistency and persistence of advertising. Nothing, really, has changed in more than 100 years. The only real difference is the mode of advertising - there are a hundred, possibly a thousand or more, new ways to target an audience.
We are targeted with effective, time-tested, honed techniques.

It's no wonder we've become a consumptive (yes, I meant to use consumptive) society with a serious credit problem.

***edited to add:
I forgot to tell you where I found this paper and why I was looking at it.
I'll tell you more later, both here and on the Taylor County blog.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pink Shoe Puddles

"Does Gatorade stain?"
I wasn't sure how to take this question seeing as how it came from a kid who puts his shirt on backwards everyday.
"It can, yes," I answered from the driver's seat.
I wanted to say, "Does Gatorade make a puddle on the floor or does it soak into the carpet?" but I refrained. There had been worse stuff in the back seat: a flattened, oozing banana with a halo of fruit flies, moldy peanut butter sandwiches squished inside a baggie (hopefully inside), green string cheese, and the occasional dog biscuit that was overlooked in favor of something tastier - rotten-er.
We have a dog because it's easier than using the vacuum cleaner - she can really get into all the small spaces without the inconvenience of an attachment.
"Will it come out of my socks?"
It's red Gatorade.
I'm sure the socks are a lovely shade of pink.
They'll go well with the inside-out and backwards underwear.

***I wrote this last summer and never posted it.
Relevant updates:
My son doesn't put his shirt (or underwear) on backwards everyday anymore, just every once in a while; he's growing up.
By now, you've already become acquainted with the dog.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Springtime - Leaves and Weedeaters

Even with the fickle spring weather, I've been spending a lot of time outside. The leaves are coming along nicely and the hills are softening with new growth.

With the nice weather and gardening comes grass cutting season, too. I am not the most diligent lawn care provider. As a matter of fact, it gets done in the slow minutes between everything else that needs done - patchwork lawn care. One section of the lawn will be freshly cut and another, adjacent section will be shin high.
The trim is particularly neglected. I was blaming that neglect on the heavy, unwieldy string trimmer. I finally bought a lightweight Weedeater that's not so hard for me to run. It is lighter, it is easier, it will probably not be a miraculous cure for lackadaisical yard work.

The first time I ran it I was very pleased with its light weight. I was able to wander around the entire yard and trim most of the worst edges without the muscles in my forearms and shoulders screaming at me (the trimmer itself, however, screams just as loud as the older, heavier tool).

When I finally turned it off and set it down to come in for a drink of water, I was surprised to see this follow me in the door:

A walking box!
Now if I could just figure out how to make the weedeater use itself....

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Of course I like Vultures.

Alright, while we're on the topic of Vultures, I'll tell you the latest about Vultures, my novel.

I didn't make it into the finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, but placing in the semi-finals was enough to get an agent to actually read the entire manuscript. I'd never gotten past the query-letter-to-an-agent stage, so that was a step forward. And then the agency agreed to represent it. That was a huge step forward.


I have an agent representing Vultures.

I am very pleased.

Yes, I was excited and I still am, but now it's just waiting to see what happens. So, really, it's like having it on the shelf because I'm not working on it. Only this is better because someone else is.
When I know something else I'll tell you.
However, that's not what this post was meant to be about. This post is about Vultures. Black Vultures in particular. Turkey Vultures -the ones with the bald red heads- are the species in Vultures, but around here the Black Vulture is more common.

Here are 3 close-up shots (photo credits to T & S - Thank you!):

T & S went for a hike and came across this young vulture. He perched quietly and watched them watch him.

This last week, before the sun was up much at all, I spotted a big bird in the tree in the front yard.
My picture-taking ability and the strength of my camera leave a lot to be desired, but he's there. Really.

See him?

Did you know that Vultures will not eat rotten meat?
Really. They only eat freshly dead carcasses.
Weird, but true.
We think of Vultures as ugly, nasty birds, but, in fact, they are beautiful and graceful, at least while in the air. They are one of the most common big birds here at my house. I'll snap a few pictures of them flying overhead next time I think of it.
We need Vultures - they're nature's road kill cleaning crew.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mother's Day and Other Postings...

I've been blogging, but in other places...

  • If you have a mother, go check this out: The Home of Mother's Day

  • If you have an interest in (or a picture of) The West Virginia Industrial School for Boys (officially named The West Virginia Reform School prior to 1914), check this out: Industrial School for Boys - Call for Pictures

  • Check out Grafton's streetscaping project: The New Sidewalks in Grafton

  • And, of course, The Grafton 123 - I have avoided posting about the boredom of the drywall mudding marathon, but the mess in the parking lot has gotten some attention. There's more activity happening out there, too, so keep checking in.

And me? What am I doing?

Building peanut men, of course:

***cross-posted at The Grafton 123 blog