Wednesday, July 27, 2005

West Virginia Art Camp

Finally, I have some time to post about our vacation.

On the 9th, we headed down to Kentucky for a party at J's brother's, in honor of her aunt visiting from Florida. We hung out & talked to them, ate bbq, and watched the young cousins play in the pool. I made 2 key lime pies for it. Love that stuff!

We excused ourselves after dessert so that we could hit the road. We went down toward Lexington & over to West Virginia. The trip was not so bad & we arrived at Lenore's just in time for dinner. We ate lasagna & watched an old Mickey Rooney movie. Then, we went back to my mom's. The road to her place was actually dry enough that we took the truck in, which made getting our luggage & art supplies back there easier, especially at that late hour.

Sunday, we spent the day just visiting. My mom & Graham subscribe to Elle Magazine & J was horrified when I spent time poring over it. It's interesting, though. Graham also provided us with a huge pile of books to check out.

Monday, we made concrete casts of large leaves (hosta & skunk cabbage) for garden decorations and birdbaths. We had some leftover concrete, so we did some sculptures, too. J made a candleholder & stuck bits & pieces of things into it. My mom made a simple candleholder/bowl to hold a fire in honor of Brigid. I made a concrete nani. When Graham guessed who made each thing, he only got my mom's correct.

After lunch (my mom had actually picked up tuna for our lunches, even though they're vegetarians), J & Graham had naps while my mom & I looked at art books in the garden. When Graham arose & went back to the blacksmithing, J slept on. I was so glad to see her getting some rest. When she woke up, my mom taught us to make wire sculptures. I made a fairy, J made a Goddess-y figure, and my mom made George Washington as a hipster.

After our workshop, we hiked out & went to the grocery for foods for J's workshop. Once we hiked back in, it was dinnertime. So, we lit the lanterns & pumped the water & made dinner. I wish I had written down what we had each night. It was all very good...spaghetti one night, chili another, Russian sandwiches & corn on the cob, pasta salad.

Tuesday, J led a writing workshop with a mythology theme. I wrote a creation story about all the goddesses getting together to create a new superhero called Super Femme (clad all in pink, with a glittery tiara). My mom wrote a fictional childhood memory with some mythological references. J wrote a poem/prayer. We feasted on hummus, pita, olives, dates, berries, and marinated feta while we wrote. Graham joined us when he finished in the shop. He shared a piece he's been working on...I read it aloud...that's very good. Part is about a woman & her baby caught in a flood, the other about a woman who is in a Dali-designed water exhibition tank at the World's Fair. Really interesting stuff. I wish I could remember the name of the exhibition...I will find out when I'm done writing. Dream of Venus, maybe?

Oh, we also took "showers" out there. It was very hot & unbearably humid. We ended up getting nekkid & pouring water from the rainbarrels over each other, lathering up with soap & shampoo between drenchings. It was fun, but that water sure was bracing! Graham was nice enough to go hang out in the garden across the road while we did this.

Wednesday, we did my artist trading card workshop. My mom & J each created 2 & I made 3. I need to get my supplies organized so that they are easier to get out & put away. I often feel like doing art, but don't feel like going to the trouble of getting everything out & putting it all back. I was so envious of Kerry's great storage system when we visited them in Pittsburgh. I wonder if she has something comparable at her new place.

Wednesday evening, we went into town to spend the night at the hotel. It poured rain on us as we were walking out and the road out to my mom's was a giant mud slick. We arrived at the hotel filthy & soaking wet. They were thrilled to see us, anyway. I guess they have fond memories of our wedding, too. We checked in & immediately changed into swimsuits. We luxuriated in the hot tub & pool, chatted with a Charleston cop & his wife & kids who were staying there because their water was off for some reason unknown to them. I sipped an amaretto sour that J brought me. Then, we went back to the room for some serious intimacy. Afterward, we picked up some dry shoes for J & had dinner at Friday's.

In the morning, we had breakfast in the lobby & checked out. My mom & Graham met us & we all went to the farmer's market. We saw all kinds of beautiful flowers, eggplant that had a gorgeous sheen & color, and fresh veggies of all kinds. We picked up some veggies for dinner & my mom bought a few plants, too. We poked around the bookstore inside, as well as all the other shops. My mom bought some wasabi peanut crunchies that ended up being too hot for everyone but Graham & Lenore. We considered lunch at the Italian place in the market. It looked great, but I didn't see many non-meat alternatives & it seemed pricey, so I suggested we go elsewhere. We ended up trying a new Mexican place close to the mall. From there, we walked over to Taylor Books & poked around. There's a new couture shop in the basement & my mom ended up getting a top there. It looks great on her & Graham was so happy that she got it. We stopped in the mall on the way back (well, we had walked through & gotten good coffee on the way, too). I wanted to show my mom & Graham Hot Topic. They liked it. Then, we all went into Lane Bryant while I tried on some clothes. Interestingly enough, Graham was the most helpful in helping me decide about the clothes. What he didn't like about them was what I didn't like. I ended up just getting some faux pearls.

It felt so good to sleep on the air mattress on my mom's porch again. Honestly, it was much more comfortable than the bed at the hotel. I love sleeping on the porch, too, feeling the breezes & gazing at the night sky through the screen. It was hard-won rest, though. I was only wearing Keds on the way back in & going down the big hill, with all the slick clay mud, was hell. I got really cranky with my mom & J while we were attempting the hill. I made it down without busting my ass, but just barely. Man!

Friday, we hung around the house for awhile, then headed out for an afternoon of antique store exploring. There are a number of antique stores & malls in Nitro. We hit two of the malls & had a grand time. One of them had a book section, with paperbacks 3 for a dollar. We got $12 worth & my mom & Graham got $15. J got a bunch of West Virginia made preserves for her co-workers, too. Oh, and some "movie candy"...Junior Mints, Sugar Babies, & Charleston Chews. We grabbed lunch at a cool little diner-type place. J had a great burger, I got a hot bologna sandwich, my mom & Graham had grilled cheese. After we ate, we looked around at the interesting memorabilia covering the walls (I coveted a pink toy cowgirl gun). Then, we hit the other mall, where we lucked into a treasure trove of old photos. I seriously considered an old suitcase with travel stickers, including one from Havana, and a traveling bar set. I did get a daintily monogrammed hankie.

J & I had decided to stay at the hotel another night. Well, J had decided & I agreed to because I adore her. We invited my mom & Graham to swim. Graham opted to hang out in our room, reading & napping. My mom came in the pool & hot tub with us. We had great fun until hordes of children descended. At that point, we headed for the room & sat around talking to Graham. After they headed home, we went shopping at Goody's & found some clothes for the fall. I scored a pink tweedy blazer for under $10, originally $64. I plan to wear it with jeans & pearls this fall. We had Cracker Barrel for dinner.

Saturday morning, we had another hot tub soak and swim. A pair of dragonflies kept skimming the pool & were neat to watch. We found a little goldfinch that had run into the window & appeared to be dead. But, when we went to look at it once more, it was sitting up. Its legs looked splayed out too far & we weren't sure it could move. Worried about little ones trying to play with it, J decided to move it to the bushes. But, when she got close enough, it flew away. We were so glad it was okay!

We had breakfast & checked out, meeting Graham & my mom in the parking lot. We had lunch at Gino's in Sissonville, then drove up to Parkersburg to check out book mecca, Trans-Allegheny Books. It's in an old library, with several levels and cases & cases of books. The ceilings are high, the windows are enormous, and one wing features glass floors! That wing has all the fiction and is anchored by a metal spiral staircase. It is such a neat place, even without all the books. There are also 3 resident cats, Logan, Page, and Dust Jacket. We all explored to our heart's content, then my mom, J, & I hung out in the cooking room on the leather sofa talking & sharing what we had found. As we were getting ready to leave, I leafed through a haunted West Virginia book. I found Trans-Allegheny in there. I had thought 2 things about the place. One was "Wow, this would make such a cool house!" & the other was "Man, you couldn't pay me to be in here alone at night!" Turns out they have at least 2 ghosts. One is an 8 y.o. girl who hangs out on the main staircase, the other a middle-aged man who seems to be looking for something in the History room. Glad I didn't see them!

On the way home, we picked up pizza from Gino's & took it to Lenore's for movie night. We watched Elektra & then talked late into the night. It became my birthday as we were slogging back the lane. I was so impressed the whole time we were there by my ability to make the difficult walk without stopping much to rest. Some walks, I stopped once. Others, I didn't have to stop at all. What a nice surprise!

We all stayed up for a bit talking, then collapsed into bed. Sunday morning, I made fried eggs while my mom baked my birthday cake. She even made the frosting from scratch, a great coffee icing. J spent the time planting my mom's new plants. It rained every hour, starting to get dark around 10 til & pouring on the hour. We weren't sure Lenore would be able to come back without getting soaked...and dreaded trying to tranport the cake unscathed to her place. But, it was clear long enough for her to arrive on the ATV, looking adorable & toting the ice cream. We had a delightful party, with all kinds of good snacks (it was so humid that the chips wilted after about 45 minutes out!) & several rounds of Scattergories, played with much hilarity. Lenore headed out between the 5 & 6 o'clock storms, Graham taking her back to her van at the top of the hill. My birthday dinner was spaghetti, with sourdough bread. Yum! I did Daughters of the Moon readings for everyone on my birthday, too. Oh, I got gifts...forgot. Several neat books & magazines from J & a book of stories about sea creatures/people from my mom & Graham. I'll be reading them aloud to J.

I was sad to leave, but the leaving is always much easier now that I have J to be with at home. None of my exes ever made leaving my mom's any more bearable, but J does. I finally found someone I love as much as I love my mom. I never thought that would happen & yet here she is.

We had an uneventful trip home, stopping at Bennigan's on the way. Rosemary dropped by in the evening, thinking she needed to feed the cats one more night. So, we got to have a visit with her.

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