Archive for May, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

May 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, the abysmal news re: Fiance’s iMac has been semi-resolved. We checked, and it’s still covered under Applecare until August, so we’re going to be taking a trip to the nearest Apple Store to have a conversation with a Genius and decide what can be done to fix it.  To highlight the difference between my life in Pittsburgh and my life here: in Pittsburgh, a trip to the Genius Bar would have meant a 4 block walk. Here? We have to drive an hour and twenty minutes (assuming we don’t hit traffic) into Reston, VA.  However, all the major components of his machine are covered under the extended warranty and the consultation is free, so it’s worth the drive. While we’re there, we’ll also have the joy of getting our iPhones, which are a very generous present from my parents for our graduations.

Anyway, it’s been a relaxing Memorial Day weekend here. The Brother-in-Law came over on Sunday to hang closet bars, so we’re in the final stages of unpacking, now that we’re able to sort clothes meaningfully. We also spent our Sunday night over at Other Mom’s, which is always an enjoyable time.

I didn’t bring the camera, but their house is magical in a way that I don’t think pictures would capture.  They’ve essentially rebuilt the house since they moved in in 1984, and made it their own. It doesn’t have air conditioning or a furnace (they use a wood stove), but it’s perfectly them. And on hot summer nights, like last night, everyone sits out around the fire pit playing Scrabble, drinking good beer, and talking about everything and nothing, and alternately petting or cursing the cats, depending on if they’re behaving or not.

It’s a little family, the people who show up regularly, and Other Mom mothers us all. We were sent home yesterday with a CD of Patent Pending (the bluegrass band Other Dad is in), a book, and a pineapple.

Today was significantly lazier, and consisted mostly of putting things away, and some studying. We did, however, make a trip to Lowes, where we picked up more permanent pots for our two little fledgling herb plants, as well as a more mature basil plant and some sage.

Mature basil, rosemary seedling, basil seedling, and German sage.

I’ve consulted with my mother, who has the green thumb in the family, and she assured me that there was very little I could do to kill these suckers. I’m hoping to prove her right over the next few weeks, but I am solidly skeptical.

Here’s hoping that your MDW was also relaxing and productive. And to those families of those service men and women who have given their lives: my thoughts are with you.

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West Virginia Hates Me

May 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Since moving, The Fiance and I have lived in a comedy of errors. The past week has been a series of small yet costly mishaps or realizations (i.e. all the windows in the house are custom sizes, and therefore we can’t just buy shades/blinds at WalMart).  Nothing has been too bad, really, but it adds up when neither of us is working, we’re not sure when his job will start, and we’re not sure when I’ll be able to find anything non-retail to do for a living.

And then, today, The Fiance’s iMac desktop has been malfunctioning. Happy Memorial Day to us.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be drinking on my couch for the rest of the evening.

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Shepherdstown Farmer’s Market

May 29, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s Sunday in the Eastern Panhandle, and that means: local organic goodness at the Shepherdstown Farmer’s Market. But before those photos, how about a very quick photo tour of the teeny tiny little town?

One side of downtown Shepherdstown.


Side 2 of downtown Shepherdstown. Full of little craft shops, semi-swanky restaurants, and wine and cheese stores. They come and go, and every time one closes, another opens up.


This white building ahead is the Shepherdstown Public Library. It's got crazy hours, and seems to be mostly historic. Soon, I will investigate the inside, and hopefully get some photos. The farmer's market is located directly behind it, and the Sweet Shop is directly to the right of it.


Before heading into the farmer’s market, we got breakfast at the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop, which The Fiance tells me is one of the few constants on the main drag in town. The others include Stonewall’s (a pizza place/bar), the Lost Dog (a really good local coffee shop) and Betty’s (a local diner open for breakfast and lunch).  While enjoying our ham and cheese croissants, we spied some evidence that we are, in fact, living near some very environmentally  conscious/crunchy people:

This is a protest flier for a local industrial site. It talks about the noise and hazardous chemicals and machinery that are being used.


This one is a flyer announcing appeal hearings for a mountaintop removal/strip mining operation that they want to put in near us. We're planning on going to them. Strip mining is bad, bad bad. For tourism and the environment both.


And then there was this guy. He was protesting in the middle of town. I know you can't read his sign from here, but it says "War is not the Answer." And then, that little white addendum on the left says, "Who will we attack next?" It's a pretty liberal place.

After breakfast, we headed over to the farmer’s market, which looked approximately like this:


We spent a total of $32.50, and purchased the following items:

2lbs of grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free sirloin steak, from Kearneysville, WV, which is approximately 10 miles down the road from us. $18


2lbs red potatoes, from the same farm as the steak. $2.00


One quart of local strawberries. $5


Basil and rosemary starters. Sold to me by two people with dreadlocks. $5.50 for both. I'll be getting real pots for them this week.


Homemade macaroons, $1 each. Enjoyed with milk upon returning home.

And there you have it – a very successful trip to the farmer’s market.  I had the actual camera with me this week, so I felt awkward about taking photos of the vendors’ stands.  Hopefully this week after I get the iPhone, I’ll be able to more subtly take photos of the crazy things I see around town.

Small Town Saturday

May 28, 2011 2 comments

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera when we went into Shepherdstown today to do some shopping/meandering. But don’t fear – we’ll be back there tomorrow, so you’ll soon be bombarded with photos of organic foods, artisan breads, local meats, and hippies.

However, I *did* remember my camera when The Fiance and I ventured across the street to try the new taco place. And while the entire apartment isn’t ready for photos (So. Many. Books.), I figure that the least I can do is show you some of the areas that are mostly organized.

So, without further adieu, here are some photos of the place:

View of our building from across the street. Why yes, we *do* live above an AAA agency.

Entryway of our apartment, as seen from the second floor. That image is of the building, and indicates that it used to be a rather fancy dress shop.

Kitchen. Please excuse the dishes in the sink and my keys on the counter. Not pictured: HUGE walk-in pantry that I'm standing in, the refrigerator, or all the empty space where the kitchen cart will eventually go.

Bathroom. Rather unexciting, except that it's long and skinny. That's kind of awkward, but the garden tub makes up for any space concerns. I didn't realize how fantastic a larger tub was. Now I'm spoiled.

The "bar" in our dining room. In reality, it's a salvaged and repurposed nightstand that I saved and refinished the summer before 1L. Up front is the bottle of Carmenere that I found in Shepherdstown today. I may have squealed and hugged the bottle. Don't judge.

This evening, The Fiance and I found ourselves hungry, but not really interested in cooking. We thus decided that it would be an excellent time to try the Habanero Grill, which is located near our new place.  This required stepping out of the building into “downtown.” Behold its … metropolitan? splendor:

"Downtown" looking to the left coming out of our place.

"Downtown" looking to the right, across the street.

After getting to the grill, we noticed some interesting wall art on the side of the restaurant. I’m not really sure of the significance, but it’s evidently folksy.

This mural is on the side of the Habanero Grill. Evidently it's supposed to celebrate the folk history of the area? I'm mostly confused by the violins. Do a lot of people in this area play them? Are they particularly folksy? I NEED ANSWERS.

And then, delicious tacos were procured:

I obviously forgot to record these tacos until I'd already taken a bite. They're beef with hot salsa, onion and lettuce. The Fiance got chorizo with the same. We also shared chips and queso, and an order of sopapillas. All were fantastic.

Finally, on the way back home, we decided to stop in at Lupida’s Groceria, a Mexican grocery down the block from our place. We didn’t spend much time browsing, but were able to locate some Mexican Coke, much to our delight.  For those who are unfamiliar with the difference, Coca Cola in Latin America is still sweetened with real cane sugar, and has a different taste. It also comes in a glass bottle, at least in some varieties, like the ones we found.

Delicious cane sugar sweetened goodness.

And that was our day! Stay tuned tomorrow for photos from the Shepherdstown farmer’s market.

Cast of Characters

May 27, 2011 3 comments

I’ve got a few stories on the way, but before I dive right on it, I thought it might be useful for you to get the lay of the land with the characters and geography I’ll be talking about (probably ad nauseum) in this little corner of the internet.

First, I live in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. I’m about 20 minutes from both Maryland and Virginia, and about an hour and a half (on a good day) from D.C. proper. The towns out here range from suburbs-without-a-city to “full of cute, rich hippies with sundresses” to “absolutely terrifying and depressing.” I live somewhere in the middle of all that.

I share an apartment with The Fiance. We’re both law school graduates and both studying for the bar (though I will not be talking about that at all. It bores even me, and I can’t imagine anyone else wanting to read about it). We’re that disgusting couple that met the very first day of law school orientation. He was really drunk. I wasn’t. I thought he was creepy. Turns out he’s just weird, but in an endearing kind of way that allows him to put up with me on a daily basis. He’s 9 years older than me, on his third or fourth career, depending on who you ask, and very sensitive when I tease him about being old. No, we do not have a date set for the wedding. Stop asking.

The Father-In-Law lives about 20 minutes away in one of those hippy-dippy small towns that’s dripping with money. Only he’s not hippy-dippy. He’s a hermit who loves his Lazy Boy, satellite TV, and the History Channel. He was the prosecutor in his county for roughly 30 years, is now in business for himself, and has an MA in history, to boot. He’s an all-around fantastic and charming human being, who I basically adore. He loves telling stories and teaching me things, and I’m basically convinced he knows everything. He’s also stereotypically a Boomer in that he’s stoic, but every once in a while, like when The Fiance and I told him we were engaged, he gets sentimental.

The Mother-In-Law lives about 30 minutes away in another small town. She’s divorced from The Father-In-Law, and is very devoted to all things churchy and old-fashioned. She’s a retired elementary school teacher. Until very recently she was NOT my biggest fan, because The Fiance and I are “living in sin.” However, upon our engagement, she seemed to stop hating me, and now refers to me by name, instead of “the living situation.” At graduation she expressed an interest in becoming “my new best friend.” I’m not sure if this is better or worse than her hating my ever living guts, but I’m betting on worse. She also has Opinions about how the wedding should happen, and is way more excited than is normal or appreciated about the coming event.

The Brother-In-Law lives with The Father-In-Law. He’s VERY handy, and has made himself a man-cave in the basement of his childhood home, built entirely with his own two hands. He can also drink a heroic amount of alcohol in one sitting. He comes off as pretty bro-tastic, but has a really good heart, and has a lot more to him than you may initially think. We’ve been known to stay up until 4am drinking, listening to music from the 90s, and watching random documentaries.

Other-Mom lives about 25 minutes away, and is the person who helped us find our gem of an apartment. She’s incredibly maternal, insightful, and loving, and will unofficially adopt anyone, including Father-in-Law. She also loves a good glass of wine or a beer, teasing you, and shooting the shit. She’s fiercely loyal and optimistic, and has never met a stranger. I kind of wish she’d adopt me officially. She and Other-Dad have gatherings almost every Sunday at their place. The mix of people changes every week, but there’s always good food, good beer, and games by the fire pit. Other-Mom also has three biological children and like, 30 cats.

Other-Dad lives with Other-Mom. He shares her kooky sense of humor and love of a good beer. He’s a fantastic cook, and a quiet but gracious host. Like Other-Mom, he’s also optimistic, and values his family and friends more than anything else.

The Neighbor lives across the hall. He’s the one-man welcome wagon. Very helpful, very nice, and very willing to include us in building activities, since everyone appears to get along. He’s also the unofficial building super.


And thus ends the list of the major players in this little tale. Hopefully soon I’ll have more stories, as well as photos to share with all (3) of you.

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Insult to injury

May 25, 2011 Leave a comment

We have a deal worked out with our across-the-hall neighbor to use his secure internet network, in exchange for splitting the bill. We moved in on Saturday, and all has been well.

Then last night around 8, it simply stopped working.

Today we’re in PGH getting the last of the things moved out of the old apartment, so it’s no great loss, at least for the next 16 hours or so. The neighbor texted me this morning to tell me that he’s reset his modem. But if that doesn’t work, I’ll have to get another cable jack installed and call Comcast again to come out and hook up internet.

So, if I’m quiet here for a few days, it’s because getting ahold of the super to get another cable jack and scheduling another Comcast appointment may take a while.  Until then, I’m sure I’ll have access to the wireless at various and sundry establishments in the small town.

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Introducing Myself

May 24, 2011 1 comment

This time last week, I lived in a city. I had a new, lofted apartment with two decks, a tiny kitchen, and a huge master bedroom.  I had a phone full of people I could call at a moment’s notice to go get Thai or Ethiopian food, or to try the new burger joint that serves spiked milkshakes. I was within driving distance of the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had, brewed at a hipster-run independent coffee shop. I had no idea where the nearest WalMart was, and could walk to most of the things I wanted on a daily basis, including my gym and the grocery store.

But I also had a fiance. And he had a job opportunity that, while amazing, would take us away from that city apartment and, at least temporarily, to a small town in West Virginia, while we wait for him to start his job about 45 minutes away.

Now, I have a larger (and cheaper!) apartment in a building built in 1920. It has original doors, hardwood floors, and a brand new kitchen and bathroom (I peeled the plastic off all my appliances when I arrived).  I have an office, and an extremely great neighbor.  There is no Thai food, let alone Ethiopian, but there are some pretty good Mexican restaurants (as well as a TON of chains). I can walk to not one, but two courthouses. On the third floor, my apartment is a “high rise.” I’ve purchased most of the supplies for the new apartment at WalMart, and marveled at how cheap everything is out here. I drive everywhere.

So, while I dearly miss my city life, I’m attempting to adjust to life in a small town. Along the way, I’ll chronicle the good, the bad, the ugly, and the just plain weird here, probably with plenty of terrible iPhone photos.  Consider this my own personal Green Acres, and you’re all invited.

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