Monthly Archives: August 2015

You Too Can Live Scared in Fayette County

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If you don’t yet live in Fayette County and would love the opportunity to join us here, now’s your chance…

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a house that’s recently been put on the market here in Fayette County and it’s one that you’ve probably even seen on the inside already.  And that’s because it was in the movie The Silence Of The Lambs.  Granted, it wasn’t exactly featured in the film, but it was where the serial killer lived (and where Jodie Foster’s character figures out that he’s the killer).

What cracks me up is that, when they were looking for the right house to use in the movie, they were tooling around Fayette County, certain that they’d find the right look here.  So they knocked on the door and asked the owners if they’d mind letting them do a little filming there.  And now, that house can all be yours…

Of course the infamous cellar and pit aren’t included as those scenes were filmed elsewhere on a movie set, so the house isn’t all that scary.  Especially when you’ll have to tell your guests about it as there will be no way they recognize the house from the movie without being told.  But if you sneak out of the room and shut off the lights and don’t provide them night vision goggles, you can give them that horror movie feel.  Maybe get a white toy poodle, name it Precious and continue to live up the fear factor of the place.  Of course your family and friends will appreciate it, why would you be worried about that?  It’s all in fun… 😜

Jame Gumb & Precious

Jame Gumb & Precious

The house is on the market with the starting asking price of $300,000.  If you talk to the realtor, I’d recommend starting your bargaining with “Yeah, but it’s in Fayette County”.  Maybe that will get you a bit of a discount…

So what if it’s not actually recognizable from the movie and is rather expensive.  And, so what if by living here you’d need to become comfortable with the Wal-Mart world kind of entertainment value of the area.  There are still positives.

It has a pool…

Hot Times in Fayette County

The front "lawn"

The front “lawn”

It’s been a hot week in Fayette County, made more so because it has been completely dry.  Ten miles to the south they’ve had rain.  Five miles to the north they’ve had rain.  But it’s all passed us by in this area.   It’s been such a bad dry stretch that I haven’t needed to mow the lawn in over a month and the grass crunches under your feet when you walk outside.  So it’s been a time for muscle shirts and cammo cargo shorts, flip flops and denim cut offs.  I’m not admitting to wearing any of that myself, but that seems to be the fashion trend you see around the area.

One of the neighbors has been continuing to mow regularly, regardless of the weather.  He pulls out his big ol’ riding mower (for a yard that really isn’t big enough to need that), and drives across the dry grass that hasn’t grown in weeks, simply because it’s his weekly habit.  He’s kicking up more dust and dirt than anything, but at least he’s keeping that tan going as he bounces around the yard without a shirt and entertaining anyone who drives by.

Graham doesn’t even really care to go outside in the daylight lately.  When he does, he dashes into the shade underneath my car and lays there getting some hot fresh air and watching for birds that might wander by without seeing him in his dark hiding spot.  He’d rather wait until the sun goes down and it’s a bit cooler and dark before venturing out into the yard.  While we’re out there, I’ve been trying to remember what I used to know about the constellations when I was a kid.  Since we’ve been put on the waiting list for rain, the skies have been perfectly clear each night.  The liquor store across the field has some pretty strong lights shining from the back of the building, but if you block that out, you can see quite a bit up above you.

But how does anyone find any of those constellations?  Aries is what, a set of four stars that are basically in a line?  That doesn’t look like the ram or any kind of shape whatsoever.  I did manage to find the Big Dipper a bit easier last night, but then there was the blinking red light of a plane flying through.  As I looked across all of the sky that could be seen, there were another three planes passing overhead from someplace else to another someplace else.  Sure, there’s an airport in Fayette County, but it’s too small to have flights that pass by that far overhead.

It’s relaxing to just look up into the dark sky and watching the flickering lights overhead.  But it would be nice to see something out of place up there.  At this rate, I’m not going to have any good stories for the UFO, Bigfoot, Paranormal Expo.  But…at least we’re in for clear skies for the next week at least.  And Graham will want to go out.  So who knows what I might yet see in the skies over Fayette County…

Make-A-Wish

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Hey everyone…

Just wanted to share a quick post with you this afternoon about something that’s on my mind…

A couple weeks back, Brett Taylor from Bleacher Nation held a blog-a-thon on his site to raise money for the Make-A-Wish foundation – 38 straight hours of blogging to raise over $26,000.  Hard work for a great cause.  As a fan of his blog – it’s all about the Chicago Cubs, something incredibly near and dear to me as I went to my first game in Wrigley before I could walk and have been a complete diehard fan ever since – I was more than happy to help out and force him to miss out on some much-needed sleep to support Make-A-Wish.

Then, after some time went by, it kind of faded from my mind as things tend to do.  Other things happen, the present takes priority over the past (well…in some cases anyway…). And yes, I forgot about it and moved on.  Until this afternoon that is.

It’s such a simple thing, but it simply turned my mind around.  I took Graham outside for a little walk and headed down toward the mailbox.  Inside was an envelope with my name and address handwritten on the front.  How often do you see that anymore?  Maybe once a year you receive a wedding announcement or graduation announcement or an invite to a niece or nephew’s birthday party written out in pen and dropped off in the mail.  But it’s rare.  So this caught my attention.

Inside, there was a simple piece of paper – not even a full sheet of paper -with the Make-A-Wish logo and a picture of a child with a bright, energetic smile.  Beside the picture was a handwritten note of thanks from Ashley.  It was just a few sentences, but, more-so than any computer typed message ever could have, it made clear how personal it really is to be involved in projects such as these.  And it motivated me as well…

It’s long been my goal to have the proceeds from the first novel I wrote to go toward helping battered women and children receive the help they need to get a fresh start in life, and to know that children in horrible situations will be given the opportunities to achieve everything they possibly can with their lives.  So…the longer it takes me to write, and publish and get my writing out there, the longer before anyone is impacted by my goal.  I can only imagine the smiling faces on handwritten notes sent out to thank others for what they did to change a life.  And I hope that those of you reading today will be a part of that dream when it eventually comes true.

I love supporting great causes, but in the meantime, my own isn’t quite there yet.  So…I need to make sure that I’m cranking out 1,000 words a day and really pushing myself to reach that goal.  So I’d better get to it.  After all, Chapter 38 won’t write itself….

The Curse of Crow Hollow

imageI absolutely love receiving books in exchange for a review – despite what they do to the amount of memory on my iPad or the shelving space on my bookshelves –  but wow, it’s easy to start falling behind…  So this time, even though it was an ebook, I still went with the cover that jumped out.  And this time around, that belonged to The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey.  The rest will just have to be patient.

Here’s a quick description to give you an idea of just what the novel is about:

Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she’s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Alvaretta swore at her husband’s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse. Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves.

The one problem that I have with novel pretty much hit me over the head as soon as I started reading.  The narrator.  The voice of a hillbilly from the hollow who’s your insider for the story he’s about to tell.  Okay, there’s a reason behind the use of that narrator that becomes clear at the end, but the hickness of the language is a little off-putting until you get used to it.

I also had a little bit of an issue keeping the characters straight as there are quite a few people living in the small town of Crow Hollow that are a part of the story line.  And sometimes they’re referred to by first time, sometimes by last.  In that way it reminded me of Russian literature, where you have to put in some work remembering everyone and just who they are.  Outside of those two issues, it was a fun read.  And it was character-driven, despite all of the action surrounding secrets and revenge and misunderstandings and relationships formed over years together in a tiny mountain area.  And, of course, the possibility of a witch and dealings with the devil.

As I went through the book, I kept thinking that this was a pretty good book – a solid 3 out of 5 (still working on a better rating system to use…).  But then, the farther I made it through, I realized that I was reading when I should be writing, reading when I should have been sleeping, and generally reading another chapter or two, or just another few pages before setting it down.  And that’s a sign that it was better than average.  It’s the connection that writers want to develop with their readers.  It’s what I’m hoping to have with the people who read mine.  Even whoever reads my rough draft I hope misses out on hours of sleep…

Until then, it’s time to flip through the list to find the next cover that sucks me in.  Sure, you can’t judge a book by its cover.  But you can choose a book to judge by its cover.  That’s completely fair…

 

Bigfoot From Spaaaaaaaaace

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I haven’t figured out yet if it’s cool or crazy…

On October 17th, less than ten miles up the road, there is going to be a Bigfoot Expo.  But that’s not it.  It’s going to be The First Annual Fayette County, PA UFO, Bigfoot & Paranormal Expo.  Am I living in the right place at the right time or what?

I wouldn’t have known a thing about it if someone hadn’t seen an announcement about it on Facebook and told me about it.  Hmm…I guess Facebook can have its positive moments after all.

I have to confess that I like to watch those shows about all of these things…  Bigfoot sightings, UFO conspiracies, and the paranormal make for great television, even if the people on those shows never catch sight of anything.  At least they have interesting local people telling their stories.  And, if you’re a fan of those kind of shows, you’ve probably seen this area highlighted more than once.  I’ve told you about the Bigfoot show that called for a town meeting in the State Theatre last year.  But there was also an event that has been discussed on those shows – an event that occurred near Nemacolin here in Fayette County – when people reported seeing both Bigfoot and UFO’s in the same area.  So they wondered if Bigfoot is from space or if aliens come here to catch them.  I know…you’re checking your guide now to see when that’s going to be shown in your area, aren’t you…?

So I think it’s about time that Fayette County has an Expo like this.  We’re that kind of area where this needs to happen.  It just fits in so well.  And of course I need to be there and check it all out, even if it’s just to people watch and listen in to what everyone has to say.  I’m thinking it could inspire me for another novel somewhere down the road if nothing else…

Maybe if I get motivated, I could even rent a table there and get some “Books, Beer and Bigfoot” t-shirts printed up.  You interested?  I think that could be incredibly fun and oh-so cool to see people from the area (and beyond) walking around with those on.  Oh to be waiting in line at Walmart-Mart or Target and see the person in front of you wearing one, right?

Let me know if you’re interested in being a part of the fun that day and I can give you some more information about it.  Heck, if we get a group together to pass out t-shirts, listen to some speakers and then go have a couple of drinks afterwards and talk all about our experiences, I think that could make for an incredibly fun day…  One that could only be repeated the next fall at The Second Annual…etc…etc…  Because you know the first one is going to be a blast!

 

Fayette County Errands

www.peopleofwalmart.com

www.peopleofwalmart.com

It makes me feel a bit hillbilly-ish to put it this way, but I drove into town today to run some errands. Makes me feel like I should have been hitching the horses to the buckboard wagon rather than checking the gas gauge on the SUV before heading down the road.

I figured that, because of the places I had to go (one of them with a name that ends in ‘mart’), I could dress pretty casual. I’m usually a jeans kind of guy, but I’m not usually one to just wear a t-shirt when I’m out and about.  But today, thinking Fayette County and the ‘mart’, I threw on a t-shirt and headed out the door.

It cracks me up when I catch myself worrying about being underdressed around these here parts (can you read that without hearing the country twang in your head?).  After all, I had a woman in front of me in line wearing sweat pants and flip flops. And I’m talking gray stained sweat pants and flip flops from the dollar store.  No Victoria’s Secret ‘Pink’ sweats.  And there was another in her pajama bottoms and fuzzy slippers.    I was overdressed.

Then I had an old guy wheezing behind me. No, not a few feet behind me, only a few inches behind me. He was a shorter guy and I could literally feel his breath on the back of my arm. I tried to subtly move up a little to put a little distance between us and he actually kept up with me. I’d slide a few inches forward, he’d slide a few inches forward. I’d lean forward a bit, he’d lean forward a bit. I’d take a half step forward…well you get the idea. And, since the woman in front of us was have 10 minutes worth of trouble with coupons, finding her checkbook, finding a pen, dropping her pen, finding her checkbook, etc, our little dance could have made for an interesting YouTube video if the store had working security cameras. Especially since I kept moving forward until I myself was no more than a few inches from the woman in front of me. “Hi. How’ya doin’?” 🙂

But, when the old guy started coughing and I could feel it on my back…? Eaugh…..  I thought I was being punked. I hoped I was being punked. I prayed that I was being punked and that the hidden cameras were going to pop out any second.  But guess what. I wasn’t. And they didn’t.  Just another day in Fayette County.  One that made me glad to only be wearing a t-shirt.  Because it’s so cheaper to replace when you rip it off as soon as you walk in the door and throw it in the trash…

 

Word #50,000

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

I’ve done it.  That one huge milestone that’s been in my mind from the very beginning as I write a novel – reaching the 50,000th word.  And today’s the day that the goal has been reached.  And the first thing that comes to mind is “Whoo Hoo!!”

I don’t know why 50,000 is such an important number for me.  It’s not like I’m finished yet.  And it’s not like there aren’t a lot more words yet to be added.  Sure, word 60,000 and 75,000 will deserve their own pats on the back, but 50,000 just means something special to me.  It pretty much means that the rough draft is completed and now “all” that’s left is to take the bones that have been created and flesh them out.  It’s time to add depth and beauty and the parts that really make you laugh and cry (hopefully, if they’re done right anyway).  It’s time to take the story and make it complete – the version that it’s going to be in forever and ever (hopefully on bookshelves all over the world).

If you’re curious, the 50,000th word is “them”.   Sure, it’s not going to mean a lot to you out of context to you like that.  You’d need to read word 49,999 first.  And word 49,998.  And probably the sentence before that, the page before that, and the chapter before that.  But it’s not ready for all of you to read just yet.  So I’m just giving you a taste and a tease with “them”.  Curious yet…?

The only problem is that I haven’t written this novel from beginning to end.  So there are sections that I need to find the right place for.  Entire chapters don’t have a permanent home yet.  They’re there on the page, but they can’t get comfortable where they’re at yet because they’re going to be on the move.  Once I figure out where they belong that is.  But the words are flying now that I have most of the story complete (in some shape).

Now that there are 50,000 words, I can really picture it in book form.  And I love that.  Now, I just need to quit slacking, get back to it and add the rest of the words that are waiting to join the story.  And dream about the tens of thousands of people I hope will be reading it someday…  After all, creating it is an accomplishment in itself.  But, if a book gets written on the laptop and no one reads it, does it really make a sound…?

 

Camping and Squatching

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It’s a perfect day outside here in Fayette County. It’s finally cooled off, clouds are blocking out most of the sun and there’s a nice, constant breeze. Perfect camping…err…Squatchin’ weather. The right weather to make that quick trip up into the mountains, pitch a tent, dig out a spot for a campfire, repeatedly reach into a cooler full of beer, and see if there’s anything living out there in the hills other than scary mountain folk.

We’re supposed to get thunderstorms this evening – the first rain around here in weeks. But that’s okay. We need it and there’s something beautiful about being inside a tent and hearing the rain tapping down overhead. Just pack some food that doesn’t need to be cooked over a fire, and keep that cooler within arms reach. After all, did you know that the odds of experiencing a Bigfoot sighting increase nearly 100% per every beer you drink in the woods? That’s according to very scientific research I just made up based on common sense and experience watching C-grade movies on cable TV.

But sometimes you just need to get away, and what better excuse than Bigfoot hunting?  Okay, there’s probably tens of thousands that would work better, but it’s one of the more unique excuses and I don’t like to be boring…

Obviously I don’t live in an overly developed area.  Uniontown is the biggest, closest city to me and it’s a 10-minute drive if the weather is nice.  There are 14 houses down the street past where I live before the road comes to an end.  There’s no where to go if you drive past me except for one of those houses. So why is it that when I’m outside, doing yard work, or walking Graham the cat, a car passes by every 30-60 seconds?  It just makes me feel like I’m living in a more crowded area than I am and fuel the need to get away…

i wonder about my neighbors.  Do they get lost easily?  Do they get confused?  Two of them have golf carts so when they’re cruising past me down the road I expect to see them coming back soon – at a safe, reasonable speed.  But if I’m outside for an hour, why would I see the same vehicle passing by 13 times?  Where are they going to/coming from/going to/coming from that’s so exciting to see for no more than 3.5 minutes before they need to come home again?  Is it the combination of dementia and driver’s licenses in action?  I’m tempted to flag them down and ask where they’ve been going, purely out of curiosity.  But I’m already the strange neighbor who walks his cat, so they might be a little put off by that.  If they even stop.

But for now, Graham just took off for one of the neighbor’s yards as I was looking down at this screen for a few seconds too long.  And last time he headed that way, he came back covered with so many burrs he looked like he’d come down with a nasty case of chicken pox.  And if I have to spend the next hour picking them out of his fur, I’m really going to need a mountain getaway.

Friday Night at the Fair…

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Yep, I did make it out to the fair last night.  You’re jealous.  I know it you are. Well, unless you were there too…  I that case you had just as much fun as I did. 😀

Actually, I was in shock.  It was the first weekend night of the fair and it wasn’t even the slightest bit busy.  It was like someone threw a party and no one came.  There were no lines for food, you could walk right up as the pig races started and still have an unobstructed view, it looked like there were about 4 dogs entered in the dog show, etc.  It was so quiet it was downright spooky…

It was still fun to people watch, but I didn’t take any pictures because it was far too hard to be sneaky without anyone around.  But I did see plenty of shorts and leg tattoos, muscle shirts and camouflage.  And the unofficial  Fayette County Fair dress code for women – jean shorts and cowboy boots.  Sure, some women can pull off that look and look good doing it.  But there were just too many that reminded me of the old ‘Hanker for a Hunk o’ Cheese’ character –

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I didn’t stay too long, but was there long enough to grab a baked potato and an order of fried pickles for dinner.  I was planning to finish it off with a fried Twinkie but didn’t think it would go well with pickles.  I guess that means I’ll just have to go back again…

I’m curious if tonight will be busier.  After all, there’s better entertainment than there was last night.  The Clarks are performing – a semi local band that has a pretty good following even outside of Pennsylvania.  Ever heard of them?  And who would want to miss Buffo, the World’s Strongest Clown?  Plus it’s beautiful out tonight so maybe more people will feel the need to be out and about.  Just not me.  Not yet.  Two nights in a row is just a little too much.  I don’t want to come across as a regular.

But I’ve got another free admission ticket in the car that needs to be used.  And I can’t stop thinking about that fried Twinkie.  Mmmmmmmmm…..