Monday, March 23, 2009

A funny thing happened down in Georgia . . .

. . . we became a family.

The last week of July/first week of August will mark 16 years for us living in Georgia. The varying dates are because my husband moved down the week before I did because I had to finish my internship in Bluefield.

I try to remember what those young people were thinking way back then. I was 22 and my husband was 24. We had only been married about 10 months. I can hardly remember those people. So much has happened and changed us since then.

I do know we felt limited by options in WV and I do know we saw moving to Georgia as a grand adventure. Not to say we took the decision lightly. We went back and forth about it for MONTHS! We listed pros and cons. We discussed our options. We made ourselves sick talking about it.

And then we jumped.

I had a deal with my husband. I told him I would stay in Georgia for five years and then I wanted to move back to WV.

Truthfully, I wanted to move back to WV after the first month. And I didn't even want to give Georgia a shot.

In fact (and I'll be quite honest here), I wasn't sure our marriage would survive our move to Georgia. We had a hard few years. Yeah, years. It wasn't always talked about, but it was always in the background. I wanted to give up and move back to WV. He thought we should stay and make it work here.

The best piece of advice my mother ever gave me when I called her (you should have seen the long distance phone bills!) and cried and cried about wanting to move back home was this: Your place is with your husband. Your home is with him now.

Yesterday, sitting on the front porch, I thought about all of that. I thought about the years living as a WV Expat in another state. I thought about how much I missed by not living in WV with family. My husband loves WV as much as I do, so it's something we've discussed before.

But what I was watching from my front porch made me realize I wouldn't change a thing. My husband was down in the yard with my son and 5 of my son's friends from the neighborhood. They were playing touch football. It a was beautiful day. It was an even more beautiful moment.

We've had so many experiences here. We've built a life here. I would have never believed it 16 years ago, but Georgia really is our home. I'll always love WV, of course. It's our heritage; it's where our family is. But Georgia is our home.

It's quite a revelation to me that home is where your history is. That's why it was so hard to leave WV. My childhood was there and that was the only history I had.

Now that my husband and I are going on 17 years of marriage, my history is somewhere else.

There are some bittersweet elements to that, but I choose to focus on the sweet.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Now that the weather is warmer, my family and I will spend some time at our favorite place nearby: Red Top Mountain State Park.

It's surrounded by Lake Allatoona and it's a perfect spot to fish, hike, play in the water, or just sit by the lake and soak up the surroundings.

My husband and I stayed in a cabin there the second year we lived in GA. Back then we lived about 45 minutes away from the park. Now we're about 15 minutes away, making it easier to just drive over and spend a couple of hours on the spur of the moment.

This year we are considering going camping there.

In a tent.

My husband and son love to go camping. Usually, they go camping off the Elk River in Webster Springs, WV. That's a spot my husband and his family have been camping at since he was a little boy. It's a beautiful, untouched spot and it's my husband's first choice for any camping excursion.

Hubby and son haven't been there since the summer before my father-in-law passed away. My husband isn't sure when they'll go back there. That place is tied up with memories of his dad and those memories are hard for him to face right now. I'm sure they'll go back there eventually, but maybe not this summer.

I've been to the place where they camp on Elk River, but have only spent a few hours there. The accommodations are primitive. For example, the toilet consists of a hole dug by my father in law with a bottomless bucket and an old toilet seat on top.

Now, I like primitive as a decorating concept, but not as a way of life. So I have not spent the night at Elk. And probably never will. I'll live that joy to the men in my life.

Last summer we camped off the Greenbrier River in Ronceverte. This style of camping was more for me. We stayed at property right by the river owned by my sister-in-law and her husband. They've had the place for years and have equipped it with a building that has running water, with a toilet, shower, and sink. There is also a refrigerator, a stove, and a dryer.

There are no sleeping quarters in that building, but they have their RV parked right beside it. The RV is where we slept while we camped for a few nights.

The RV has a few very comfortable beds, plus the RV has air conditioning if the heat gets to be too much during the day. Honestly, I didn't need the air so much because I'm used to Georgia heat now and sitting under a tree on the hottest WV day feels kind of like heaven to me. Our little pug appreciated the RV, though, and we'd put him in his crate and let him nap when he got tired of running around outside.

So that's my idea of camping, folks. Showers, running water, refrigerators, electricity, and a nice, soft bed.

Kind of like being home.

This year, I stuck my foot in my big, fat mouth by suggesting we go camping a little closer to home when spring came. We are planning to camp in Ronceverte again this summer, but (because of me) we are also planning to camp at Red Top.

In a tent.

Granted, it won't be as primitive as the accommodations on Elk River, but it'll be a whole new way of living for me.

We're only staying a maximum of two nights.

And, if it gets to be too much for me, I'm driving the 15 minutes back to my house and leaving the boys in the tent!

I guess that's another luxury of camping so close to home!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

WV news

West Virginia got hit a couple of times in the media recently. One hit involved a study that placed the state dead last among the happiest states in the country. Another hit came when a West Virginia legislator from Lincoln County, Jeff Eldridge, introduced legislation to ban the sell of Barbies in WV.

My mom tipped me off that our hometown newspaper wrote a good editorial in rebuttal to the stupid assertion that West Virginians are the unhappiest people in the U.S.

I did an independent study recently and determined that studies like the one showing WV is the unhappiest state in the U.S. are a waste of time.

Some people in Lincoln County think that Jeff Eldridge is wasting time by introducing the bill to ban Barbie. According to a quote from the Lincoln Online Journal, he's just interested in making sure girls know there's more to life than a pretty face.

“It isn’t just Barbie,” he said this week. “It is the idea that all a girl has to do to succeed is look pretty. I wanted to emphasize the need for education to succeed in life.”

It looks like he's getting more than he bargained for, what with Jay Leno using the opportunity to make fun of WV and David Letterman wanting him on his show.

The Lincoln Online Journal reports Eldridge won't be going on David Letterman, but I wish he would.

I've thought a lot about this story and I'd like to know what the argument is. Are those giving him such a hard time saying there is no negative impact by allowing our young daughters to emulate Barbie? Of course there is. Young girls suffer from self esteem problems now more than ever. Unfortunately, it's just the tip of the iceberg.

I played with Barbies growing up, but I was surrounded by strong women who looked nothing like the stereotype. Plus, I wasn't bombarded with the perfect body from every magazine cover and television show. I didn't see the waifs all over the movie screen or dancing in videos like young girls see today. And not every woman in my life was obsessed with diet and looks. They had other things to do like live their life.

All of these things have an impact on young girls. Dove built an entire campaign around the problem.

I think Eldridge was making an honest attempt to address the issue. Maybe he could have found a better proposal. Maybe he should have suggested a mentoring program for young WV girls so they could be exposed to real women contributing and making a difference. Maybe he could have helped start a sports program aimed at getting young girls active and keeping them healthy. Maybe going after Barbie wasn't the best thing, but he took a shot.

What bothers me most about this story isn't the fact that Eldridge introduced the legislation, but that the mainstream media used it as another way to take potshots at West Virginia.

Other states have their shares of legislation that seems a little odd or unimportant. A while back a GA lawmaker introduced legislation to make it illegal not to serve sweetened iced tea in a restaurant that is already serving iced tea. (I actually supported that legislation. Unsweetened tea? What's the point?)

WV is an easy target for people and that really makes me angry. Leno went too far. He didn't just take aim at the lawmaker, he took aim at the whole state.

His exact words: "Last week, a West Virginia lawmaker named Jeff Eldridge introduced a bill that would ban the state of West Virginia from selling Barbie dolls. They want to make it illegal to sell Barbie dolls in West Virginia cause they say the dolls give girls unreal expectations. See, apparently in West Virginia, dolls that have all of their teeth are not considered realistic."

That's taking a hit at every West Virginian and promoting a stereotype that hurts the state in more ways than one. Proud West Virginians don't want to be belittled. Teens in the state don't want to be made fun of. This pervasive idea that the state is filled with toothless hillbillies hurts people and can prevent much needed industry from coming into the state.

But what can you expect when the state's own governor takes potshots at his constituents?

Mr. Eldridge, go ahead and rethink the Barbie ban. Seems like people in your area aren't interested. Replace it instead with something more useful.

Ban the transmission of Jay Leno's Tonight Show from coming into the state's TV stations.

Now there's some useful legislation.

** Thanks, A., for the heads up!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What to do with all those WV postcards

I love to buy postcards when I am in WV. I don't send them to people. I put them on my fridge.

So, after many years living away from the Mountain State, my fridge is cluttered with various postcards showing the New River Gorge Bridge, a pretty mountain road in the fall, or some other site that reminds me of my home state when I am opening the freezer to grab the ice cream.

Oh, I mean reaching for the cut up fruit/yogurt/salad. I'm on a diet. Forget that ice cream stuff.

Anyway, Shannon has a good idea of what to do with all those postcards! She suggests framing them as a great reminder of a place that means a lot to you.

I'm going to frame all of mine and hang them in the living room. At least then they'll stop falling off the freezer door every time I reach for the Turtle Tracks.

Oh, I mean the refrigerator door whenever I reach for the fruit, or yogurt, or salad.

Hee hee.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Newsweek article about WV

My sister sent me the link to an article from Newsweek:

The article mentions several things I have talked about on this blog including the Diane Sawyer report on Central Appalachia and the governor's Come Home to WV program, which the husband of the Evil Twin's Wife works on. Guess I should just call him the Evil Twin, huh, ETW?

From the article:

The larger initiative includes temporarily revamping the state slogan (out: "Wild and Wonderful"; in: "Open for Business!"), plowing money into state universities and pushing through tax breaks to encourage in-state filmmaking.

That sounds like old info, doesn't it? Tell me, ETW, that they are NOT going back to the "Open for Business" stuff!

Maybe they just tacked on new information about the Diane Sawyer piece onto an older article.

It's always a bit disheartening to me to hear how other people perceive WV. It's such a beautiful state, with so many wonderful people!

I do have a problem with Manchin (who I am not a fan of) running down people in Pocahontas County with their Road Kill Cook-Off towards the end of the article. Just because we want people to see the beauty in WV doesn't mean we have to change everything about the state to match some white washed version of the rest of America.

Nor does it mean you have to run down your fellow West Virginians, Governor Manchin, who are probably also registered voters.

Just something to think about.

Thanks, Sis, for the article!

Update: I just read Buzzardbilly's take on the article. She's right on the money, as usual.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Georgia snow

You don't often see the words "Georgia" and "snow" together.

Yesterday we had some snow flurries in our area. Nothing stuck to the ground. There were some icy patches this morning, but not enough to call off school in our county.

The county where my husband works did have more snow. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground when my husband got to work this morning. They called off school in that county and a few others too.

We had just gotten groceries a few days ago, so I had plenty of food in the house when our flurries hit. My husband did run out on Sunday afternoon to pick up a Sunday paper and he said everybody was buying up all the bread and milk in our local Publix.

It made me remember way back in March of 1993 when my husband and I were living in Athens, West Virginia. Hubby was working full time at the local movie theater. I was in my senior year of college and working at the campus candy store (MY FAVORITE JOB EVER!).

It was Friday night (as I remember) and my husband and I were in Lewisburg visiting my sister. We were leaving to go back home. We knew snow was expected, but were clueless about how much. We headed towards Alderson to take the "back way" to Athens, but had to stop because those country roads were solid sheets of ice.

We took the long way instead, going on I-64 from Lewisburg headed to Athens. We weren't on that road long before we realized we were in trouble. My husband could hardly see. The interstate was eerily empty. We pulled off an exit to call my parents' house. Those were the days without cell phones! My parents were at my sister's in Lewisburg, but my brother was home and I told him to expect us in a little bit. We knew there was no way we could make it back to Athens that night.

We had a few harrowing moments, with the car doing a perfect circle on the snowy road, but we finally made it to Sophia and to my parents' house. My mom and dad had quite the drive back to Sophia too when they returned the next day! My dad got stuck on the interstate. My mom accepted a ride from somebody to call for a tow truck. They let her know the interstate was closed. Mom said "You can't close it, my husband's out there!"

Somebody rescued my dad and he and my mom made it back to the house. We were pounded with snow and stuck in that house for several days. My dad walked through tons of snow to get bread, milk, and eggs from the closest convenience store, which wasn't close at all or very convenient for that matter!

We survived the Storm of the Century! That very experience may be one of the reasons I panic slightly when the cupboards are bare, even on the sunniest of days. These days I like to have the following in abundance around here: bread, milk, eggs, butter, tea bags, and TOILET PAPER. I keep all the staples like flour, oil, salt, and yeast in abundance too. And sugar. Don't forget the sugar!

I think with those items we could live quite happily if something unexpectedly kept us from making it to the store.

After a few days, though, I would start missing meat. I might have to send the guys out into the woods behind our house to shoot a squirrel or two. It's been a long time since I've had squirrel gravy.

There's two more words you don't expect to see together. "Squirrel" and "gravy."

I think for the next grocery shopping trip, we'll stock up on chicken and ground beef for the freezer.

Just in case.