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Posts Tagged ‘Local’

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

I always feel sad to pass this party store 

 meant to share happier times. 

But it is closed and standing barren,

now with cloaked windows,

and empty floors –

a sad little building

with days of  fun left behind.  

I like to think it is just resting. 

But the little store stands empty

closed for recuperation,

waiting, waiting, waiting

in perpetual anticipation

for

a party.

 

Totally Party Sign

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"Sang"

“Sang”

There are odd characters here in rural America.

Cindy of Cindy Knoke, recently commented, “You know the most interesting people.”  She triggered the idea for this post.  By the way, if you haven’t found Cindy’s blog yet, be sure to check it out for fabulous color, beauty and fascinating information from “the Holler” and beyond.

My husband and I moved to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia from the Washington, DC area (which, if you hadn’t noticed, has its own debatable cast of characters).

But, I had no idea the range of oddities among people here in the country.  Rural Virginia boasts fields of wildflowers, which at first seem ordinary, but on closer inspection, have  imperfections to make them  stand out among perceived “ordinaries.”  So it goes with the people here.  In fact, there are so many curious varieties that if you are not a bit odd yourself, you will not fit in.

My Country Cast of Characters (so far):

The Pickle Lady – who insisted on giving us horrible pickles in 5 gallon jars, just because I lied (to be polite) and told her I liked them once.

The Lumberjack Lady – who is handy with a chain saw and is always ready for battle with either trees or people.

The Gun Slinger – O.K., this is the same chain saw lady who also carries a tiny gun in her waistband, supposedly to ward off wild animal attacks.

The Avian Propagator – Who had over 100 finches flying around an unoccupied (except for finches) bedroom.  You could only open the door a crack to witness this fast growing population.

The Crow’s Nest Spy – A woman so worried about trespassers that she built a crow’s nest atop her house and has “seen things” ever since.

The Accidental Dumpster Diver – A friend who fell in a local dumpster, was rescued by the fire department, and still laughs at his own story.

The Tobacco Chewer – A handsome fella who has descriptive slang for any occasion and for every odd character in the county.  Have you ever heard the saying, “He’s hotter than a two-dick dog?”  Do they censor blogs?

The Mushroom Identifiers – A charming couple who could recognize mushrooms – particularly puff  balls (big white beautiful round mushrooms that are absolutely delicious).

The Wild Herb Identifier – Who could show me where to find watercress and land cress.  Who ever heard of land cress?  It grows in my driveway – or so she said.

The Ginseng Explorers – A couple of true country characters (Daryl and Daryl?) who politely asked (every year) if they could search for “Sang” in our woods.  Did you know ginseng is a root that looks like a little man and sells for hundreds of dollars?  It is supposed to be an aphrodisiac and has other health giving qualities.

Had enough?

You have my word these are (or were) real people who in the real world would be considered characters.  Actually, this IS the real world.  I tend to forget that.

There are more characters, lots more.   Knowing these folks, or at least being able to identify them and their stories, has been part of the fun of living in a diverse rural community.

And now – wonder of wonders – I have joined another community (this time in cyberspace) where there is a huge cast of odd blogger characters.

I MUST develop some recognizable idiosyncrasies soon!  I don’t want to be the only one in a group who is labeled “normal.”

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For those of you who have been following my posts on the progress of construction of a neighborhood “Mystery Building”, and who thought the mystery was solved, there is more!

Yes, we know it will be a home.  Around these parts, home is generally referred to as the “homeplace,” (all one word) and this is definitely going to be someone’s homeplace in rural Virginia.  We know this because a friend went over and asked what the building would be!

“So, what’s the big mystery NOW?” you ask.  “I mean, the building looks a bit on the odd side, but so what? We know it’s someone’s home.”

Well, one day I was merrily on my way to town and not thinking of the Mystery Building.  After all, I know it’s someone’s homeplace now, so why dwell on the odd little dwelling anyway?

But, I cannot resist glancing in that direction to monitor progress and when I saw it from a distance I gasped in awestruck shock.  WHAT are they doing NOW?!!!

What does it look like to you?

Mystery Building Being Buried

Mystery Bldg Being Buried 2

They are covering the back and the roof with DIRT!

Now I am going to look up things on the internet about landlocked housing.

Is their homeplace going to be underground?

Mostly underground?

Why?

Will they plant a garden on top?

Does this explain all the smokestacks and domes?

The first article I found in my search gives some very good clues about Underground Homes!  Check out the article below.  The second article below is my own first post, when the “homeplace” emerged as an ongoing mystery.

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Before my husband and I moved to rural Virginia, or “the sticks”, as some people called it, I wore high heels and tailored dresses to work.  In fact, I enjoyed silk dresses for their climate-comfort versatility and timeless style.  Yes, I admit I was rather a stylish and elegant working woman.

So, when I announced our impending move to the sticks, I heard a few guffaws from friends who didn’t want us to go and commented, “You’ll be back.  You won’t like it there.  You will miss wearing high heels and silk dresses in the country!”  This made me dig in my heels (pun intended) even more of course, and I assured them I would always remain my usual elegant self, complete with silk dresses, high style and high heels.

Secretly I had also (romantically) decided to become “Mrs. Mike” – a character in a wonderful book and then film – the story of a girly girl who survived (for love of course) in the wilderness.  I figured – “that’s me, a wilderness lady.  I can be both elegant and tough at the same time.”

And so it went.  Our house was finally built on the red clay dirt of Virginia, and our driveway was paved with chunky, sharp edged black stones.  It was soon apparent that opportunities for elegantly appointed apparel were severely (if not entirely) limited.  And walking in high heels upon a gravel driveway can mean dangerous wobbling.  For even as I conquered balance, I noticed the finish was quickly disappearing from my heels.  Oh yes, the height of the heel lent grace to my stature, but if anyone bothered to look down they would notice the deplorable condition of this poor woman’s shoes!

Then there was the red clay (that would make great bricks).  Thick sticky dirt that becomes thick sticky mud is a deplorable obstacle to high heels.  Think quickmud instead of quicksand and you will have an idea how easy it is for a sharp heel to sink into unsuspected quagmires.  “Thwop” you are sucked in.  And “Thwop” you drag your foot out (hopefully with the shoe still attached).  Is this the same once lovely shoe?  Yuk!

So, as my friends in the civilized world had suggested, I switched to sneakers and jeans. Sneakers do not go well with silk dresses, so the dresses dwindled away as well.   I was consoled that at least my sneakers were brilliant white so I looked, neat, clean and put together in hardware stores.  But, I soon learned that working in the garden for an hour left my sparkling sneakers caked with sticky muck.  And if I didn’t wash my now not-so-brilliant sneakers right away (with a wire brush and in very hot water) they would stay looking forever nasty and smeared, and would not even be appropriate for forays to the hardware store.

Sneakers for Home & Sensible Heels for Special Occasions

Low Heels & Back to Basics

Next, I bought a pair of Wellington boots.  “Wellies” are rubberized boots that can be worn in the rain, maybe in the snow, and yes, in red clay.  My Wellies are always waiting at the back door.  Today I picked tomatoes from Bill’s somewhatextremely weedy garden.  I have a fear of snakes and other critters attacking bare legs as I wade through jungles of weeds and the Wellies come to mid-calf for protection.  An additional benefit is when I forget to take them off.  Yes, they look grungy and they are caked with mud, but they make me feel like a local and that I really belong here as I browse the local hardware store.

My Trusty Wellies

There may be one dress left in my closet now and it is not silk, but a kind of drip-dry thing I drag out for special occasions like funerals or weddings.  And there is at least one pair of my new version of high heels for special occasions.  They are about an inch high but I wobble in them now since I have become attached to the Wellies.

My friends in civilization were correct of course.  I had to give up style, elegance, silk dresses and high heels when we moved here.   And sometimes I do yearn for the old elegant me – but mostly I am content being Mrs. Mike, that not-so-elegant lady thwopping around in the sticky red clay of Virginia.

Today’s high heels are REALLY high!  Imagine these on my gravel drive.  Oh my!

Today’s High Heels

Country Tip for City Dudes:

If you are moving to the country, donate your high heels to charity and buy Wellies.

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Per Ye Olde Faithful, Wikipedia, “An antique is defined as an old collectable item.   It is desirable because of its age, beauty, rarity, condition, utility, personal emotional connection, and/or other unique features.  It is also an object that represents a previous era or time period in human society.”

Ah yes, the above could be a a perfect description of moi, except for condition and beauty.  When one is creaky and avoids mirrors, condition is debatable and beauty must be overlooked.  Certainly age and rarity fit, and utility – definitely utility.  And alas, you could say I represent a previous era in human society.

This morning I went browsing with two good friends at the local antique mall, and  photographed recognizable things from childhood.   Small towns and country roads often yield real treasures and we entered a great warehouse chock full of fabulous old stuff.  I asked the owner how a thing merits the “antique” designation these days.  And she said, “It used to be standard that an object over 100 years old  was considered antique.  But  now anything from the 1950’s on back is in the antique category.”

The 1950’s?????  Wait a minute.  At the rate I am finding familiar objects in this place, I can duplicate our entire house with exactly the same contents as it had in the 1940’s!  I knew there was a reason I avoid antique stores and mirrors!

But, why can’t I just be designated a COLLECTABLE?  The definition of a collectable is something that is less than 100 years old and is possibly an antique of the future.

AN ANTIQUE OF THE FUTURE!  That has a nice ring to it.  I feel slightly better now.

NAME THIS OBJECT

See if you can recognize any of the objects below.  I have invented a NEW game called Name this Object.  There is even a clue list to help you on your way.  And don’t come crying to me if you identify them all.

  • Tabletop Radio (With On, Off & Volume)
  • Brownie Camera
  • Manual Typewriter
  • Apple Cookie Jar
  • Coco-Cola
  • Toy Truck
  • Shirley Temple Pitcher
  • Flatiron Rest
  • Doll House
  • Singer Sewing Machine
  • Old Radio
  • Metal Saws with Wood Handles
  • Washboard

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There’s a restaurant at the south end of  Main Street, just before you head into town.  It has been there the whole 24 years we have lived here and maybe 24 years before that.   It used to be almost the only choice for dining out.  The menu  has not changed in all that time either.  It’s basically a local watering hole where friends meet and greet and take time to enjoy good food and good visits. So why change a good thing?

I stopped by to pick up a newspaper when a car alarm went off in the parking lot and a young woman jumped up and ran out to a very sporty sports car.   Here’s the conversation I overheard among the local country folks watching her from the inside:

Who locks their cars around here anyways?”

“Foreigners maybe.”

She must be from New York.  Only New Yorkers lock their cars”

“ Yep, Has to be from New York.”

 “Figures it’s a woman huh?”

“Think she’s moving here?”

“Probably one of those Northerners.  Yanks always buy two horses and build a house  on a hill.” 

“Yeah, then a big storm comes and they can’t get out of the driveway.”

“Maybe she’ll move to Florida instead.”

“Must be from New York.”

The odd thing is, my husband (originally from New York) and I built a house on a hill, adopted two horses and two dogs,  and then had to get a vehicle with 4-wheel drive to cope with winter storms.  The difference is, we never moved to Florida because we found Camelot right here.

Smiling, I finished paying for my paper and left the restaurant.  Something told me to look at the license plate of the lady’s car.

Sure enough, the woman was from New York.

Country Tip for City Dudes:

–         If you move South in the U.S. for the rural life,  be prepared to enjoy local commentary and smile.

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