Category Archives: Fayette County

Fayette County Sunday

Not my mountain view, but if I close my eyes...

Not my mountain view, but if I close my eyes…

Is it just me or is the sight of a shadow of a cloud passing over the mountains one of the coolest things to see?

It’s perfect on a relaxing Sunday afternoon when you’re outside just watching the world go by.  Or at least this little part of it here in Fayette County.  The county fair has wrapped up so people aren’t out and about as much as they were through the week and are probably napping off ten- thousand or so calories of fried foods that they took in over the past few days.

Though plenty of people were out shopping today when I needed to be out there.  But that’s always the case when I’m trying to get anything done.  You think you’ve seen a Wal-Mart checkout line go slow?  You haven’t seen nothing ’till I’ve picked a line.  Out-of-date coupons, writing a check to pay for half of the order without a pen, searching for change from the bottom of a ten-gallon purse…?  Whoever is in front of me is guaranteed to do that and more.

People are still wearing their county fair kind of outfits out there too – plenty of camouflage (in hat, shirt, shorts and shoes options), muscle shirts with some version of the American flag, and one guy who’s torn and stained t-shirt read “Out Drinking Moonshine”.  Ahh, Fayette County, I don’t get you at all, but I love you anyway…  After all, where else can you watch an 85-year old man cruise up and down the streets of the neighborhood on his motorized wheelchair with his grandson on his lap acting like they’re in a go-cart and moving faster than half the cars that are going by?  And where else can you see people in short-shorts, knee-length black dress socks and a pair of brightly colored Crocs out for lunch at a downtown restaurant acting like they dressed up for the occasion?  No, I’m not judging, I’m just enjoying all of the local color.  It makes life more interesting.

I’m not sure how Graham (the cat who thinks like a dog) is adjusting to this area of the country so far either.  He’s a cold-weather boy by birth and hasn’t made many friends since leaving “his people” back in Minnesota.  He gets along well with a 20-25 pound groundhog who lives just at the edge of our yard – they seem to have built some mutual respect there somehow – but any other animal he sees he just takes as a threat.  The other day we were outside when one of the neighbors came walking by with her large golden retriever and stopped to talk.  And, seeing Romeo step just one paw into our yard, Graham came running over, punched him in the nose and stood in front of him growling.  This is MY turf.  

I’ve seen feral cats running for the woods like their tail was on fire, with an orange and white blur chasing them until they passed out of the range of our yard and Graham trotting back to the front walk with a smug look of success on his face.  And, just the other day a huge Rottweiler came into the yard barking his head off and Graham just walked up to him with an incredulous look on his face like You really want a piece of me?  

I think that 90-100 pound dog was just a bit out of Graham’s weight class so I had to pick him up and carry him in.  And I think he’s still a bit bitter at me doubting his skills…

what are YOU lookin' at?

what are YOU lookin’ at?

So we each have our own way of adapting to a new area I guess.  I write and he plays neighborhood watch (or neighborhood bully – I’m not sure which one).  I haven’t been here long enough for Fayette County to make it into the writing, but it’s got enough unique characters around to inspire some stories.  And, as if to prove my point on what I thought was going to be a quiet afternoon, remember that grandpa from down the street?  He just got into a race with a couple of kids in a golf cart and I’m putting my money down on the old man if there are any takers out there…

Just One of Those Days

image

I need a drink.

I don’t usually say that but it’s just been one of those days.  And, I guess I have been slacking a bit on the ‘beer’ part of “Books, Beer and Bigfoot”, right?  So it’s about time.

Now I’m usually a positive person.  An optimist even.  Someone who sees life as wonderful and not dependent on the things that are happening at the moment.  At least I think so.  And if you disagree, feel free to write me a comment and I’ll feel free to completely ignore it.  Happily.  And with a smile on my face.

But some days….  They just make you regret all the choices that you made throughout the day (like waking up, getting out of bed, leaving the house, etc.).  Days that could have been spent on the couch eating Cookie Crisp out of the box and playing PlayStation and avoiding things like adult responsibility, appointments and the world as a whole and it could have felt way more positive and productive.  So it’s a day when it’s just mandatory to stop at a certain store on the way home.

Now, since I moved across country to Fayette County, the “right” choices aren’t exactly available.  My beer of choice isn’t sold in the area.  Heck, the guy at the counter has never even heard of it.  And that’s one of the signs that you’re not in Kansas any more, so to speak.  So that definitely contributes to making you feel a bit more out of place on a rough day.  But you deal with it and take what you can get.

What I purchased would go well in front of a campfire, but it’s too hot and humid out there and the gnats keep flying up my nose every time that I go outside.  Yeah, you know it’s been one of those days when even the gnats are conspiring against you with their suicidal runs up each of your nostrils.  Sheesh.

Can you tell that I just want to complain?  It’s one of those days when I’m tempted to write and rip on Wendy Bell’s lawsuit (it’s a Pittsburgh area thing if you’re curious) or politics or LeBron James or Just anything that will get my heart racing and my sarcasm flowing.  But it’s just a day.  That’s all.  After a little complaining the beer will be nice and cold, the sun will be down, Bigfoot will be roaming up in the hills and all will be right with the world again.  Or at least enough of it for another day…

At Least The Mountains Have Rain

Who needs silverware...?

Who needs silverware…?

It’s like living in a B movie science fiction flick. The cicadas that have taken over all of the trees on every side of the house are making a noise that sounds like a cheap ray-gun buzzing.  I feel like I’m under attack whenever I leave the house.  Though, if you look at it in the right way, you can feel like the hero of your very own adventure, surviving the dash to the car and making the gravel fly as you hit the gas and gun it to safety.  Hmm…or maybe that’s just me…

It was supposed to rain all day today – a wet, grey day perfect for staying inside and writing.  But…the forecast was off yet again (where’s Ginger Zee when you need her?).  There were flash flood warnings half an hour north of here, and pea-sized hail ten minutes to the south.  And then there was constant thunder rolling in the mountains fifteen minutes to the east.  But here…?  Bright and sunny with 65% humidity.  It’s like being imprisoned in a dome when you can see the rain in the distance in every direction, but have to keep taking the cat out and sweat because it’s summertime without the gentle breeze coming in off the coast because southwestern PA is completely missing those beautiful beaches.

It’s not that I’m anti-summer.  Not at all.  Sure, it comes in behind fall in my own personal ranking system.  And behind spring too.  And I guess it falls behind winter too.  But summer is still in the top four in the “Best Seasons” category. All I ask is for the occasional rain to hit the yard before the grass turns brown and all of the birds decide that thy didn’t fly far enough north this year.

But maybe it’s just that I’m a fan of the rain…  There’s something cathartic about losing yourself in the writing of a book while water drops continually smack against the windows.  Plus, when the sun is shining brightly, I can barely see the screen of my laptop until after 1:30 in the afternoon when the sun has passed overhead and out of view of my office.  So that gives me too big of an excuse to find something else to do instead of write for that time.  (Like I have A&E’s new show Preacher on DVR and haven’t gotten around to watching it yet).  Wow…excuses are easy to find/create aren’t they…?

But the sun has gone down now, the air conditioning has the inside temperature down to 68 degrees, the laptop is fully charged, Graham has had a snack and is taking a nap, and I’ve run out of excuses.

So I’m opening up Word, pulling up my rough draft, and diving into chapter 42.  And, wouldn’t you know it?  It takes place on a hot, summer day.  Maybe I’ll have the main character borrow a friend’s boat and let him deal with his issues out on the lake.  Ahh…I love being in control…

Where’s My Fence?

image

In his poem Mending Wall, Robert Frost coined the phrase “Good fences make good neighbors”.  And it’s a phrase that I’m sure we’ve all considered at one time or another.  Frost’s speaker in the poem doesn’t seem to completely understand the phrase, or agree with his neighbor about the sentiment, but he does go along with the yearly ritual of mending the fences in springtime along with his neighbor to keep them in good repair.

Now here in my little part of Fayette County, I’m not sure if my neighbors and I need some fences or if it’s already too late. Is there anything that we need to keep separate or do we already know each others’ quirks and unique behaviors well enough that a little extra privacy no longer matters?  Since we’ve seen it all – or at least enough of all of it – do we need fences to keep the few remaining secrets in?

For example, there’s the neighbor who only smokes after his wife has left the house, standing outside on the walkway to their front door taking puffs with a satisfied look on his face.  He throws the cigarette butts out into the bushes where he believes his wife will never see them and collects them all up on Saturday when he mows the lawn.

Then there’s the guy down the street who cruises up and down the lane in his golf cart with a proud grin on his face each day, while his grandchildren zip back and forth in that same golf cart, usually on the wrong side of the road, whenever he’s taking a nap or loses track of the keys.

And, if there was a fence in the way, I’d miss out on most of the long, loud run my 20-year-old neighbor takes on his Yamaha motorcycle, certain that we want to see his bravery and coolness(?) each day as he revs the engine up loud and dashes up the street, certain that no traffic will be coming the other direction as he crests the hill.  Not today anyway.

And then of course there’s me…  I wouldn’t consider myself to be completely boring and uninteresting to the outside viewer either.  For example, last week I was sick.  As in pneumonia and coughing-up-a-lung kind of sick.  And of course I’m too stubborn to let that get in the way of anything that I would regularly do.  So, in the evenings when it was time to take the cat out for a walk (something abnormal enough in its own way I’m sure), this time I wore a mask to keep me from breathing the cool air into my lungs.

So as sunset passed us by here in our neighborhood, and Graham felt more inclined to wander in larger loops around the house and into neighboring – non-fenced in – yards, it wasn’t all that unusual to see me wandering in the dark, mask covering my face and the flashlight app on my phone illuminating the bushes under windows looking for the cat.  And, somehow, none of my neighbors either called the police on me or confronted me with a gun in their hand.

I believe that means that my absurdity has been understood and tolerated throughout the neighborhood.  That they’ve been able to see my eccentricities without the challenge of a wall in the way and have decided to accept them.  And I’m one of them.  Well, either that or we need a better quality neighborhood watch program.

Coming Up On the Next Episode…

image

I know I pick on this area quite often, but that’s just because I’m still pretty new to living here in Almost West Virginia, Pennsylvania.  And my brain responds to new things through sarcasm.  Someone who’s not from around here wouldn’t be allowed to make snide comments any more than I would about Whynot, Alabama, Hackensack, New Jersey, or Sweet Lips, Tennesee.  They’re just places I’ve passed through so I don’t know enough to criticize…

But, coming up shortly, we’ll be showing our good side off to the world, as The Bachleorette will be filming an episode up at Nemacolin Woodlands, which is just a quick trip up into the mountains for those of us here who live only live at the foot of the mountains. It’s beautiful, expensive, and doesn’t look like it belongs in this area at all.  I mean, at all…  So people will see it on their television screens and think “wow, I need to take a vacation to majestic southwestern PA!”.  

But what really cracks me up is the “local” celebrity that they’re bringing onto the show.  The producers thought western Pennsylvania, and the only thing that came to mind was the Pittsburgh Steelers.  And, because the Steelers’ top player is currently on Dancing With The Stars, and their next best player just recently had a little issue with driving down a crowded street while smoking a little something special that made him giggle, they went with the next most recognizable player they could think of.  Yes…Mr. Ben Roethlisberger.  Interesting.  Now I’m not saying that he’s incapable of helping a couple of strangers find love.  But…

image

That cracks me up.  Sure, he’s married now and he’s even a father, so he’s probably not the same man who had such interesting experiences a few years back.  But still…  I would think that there would be someone else who could represent this area’s idea of love a little better.  

Like, ummmm…  Well Jeff Goldblum was born in the area.  But he comes across with a bit of a creepy vibe.  Plus, would you really want part of the show sponsored by Apartments.com?  Does that send a weird message, or is it just me…? 

Okay, Andy Warhol passed away about thirty years too soon to get another 15 minutes of fame on a show like that.  Mark Cuban already has another show.  And Dan Marino might not be able to hit up one of the nice restaurants with them if he’s strictly following that Nutrisystem diet.

So instead of continuing to search through lists of famous Pittburghers who’s names I don’t even recognize, it seems that there’s just one Pittsburgh icon who would have been perfect for the job.  And could you imagine the wonderful advice he would have given while tagging along on dates…?  I’d probably even DVR that show!  It’s just too bad he’s no longer around.  So I guess we’ll have to settle for being represented by Big Ben this time around…

Mr. Fred Rogers 1928-2003

Mr. Fred Rogers 1928-2003

 

Spring/Winter/Spring/Etc.

image

I’ll admit it.  Politics lately have made me grumpy.  Enough so that I’ve thought many a time about going on a rant here and telling you all how you’re completely crazy if you don’t support the person that I’m supporting.  But it’s a beautiful spring day, winter isn’t expected back until it snows again on Sunday, and I’m going to enjoy the moment.  There’s enough ranting and raving on the internet already anyway…

Fayette County has some beauty to it when the sun shines down and the temperatures are above 60 again.  Sure, if you drive out on the highway, all of winter’s trash is exposed in the sunlight and is blowing around in the breeze, but I’m not out there to see it now, so I can simply imagine fresh grass, blooming flowers and buds on all of the trees.  And I’ll make sure that Prince’s song Sometimes It Snows In April isn’t available to play on my iTunes.  Just in case.

The robins are out and making plenty of racket in the trees in the yard.  But maybe that’s just when I’m outside to witness.  Because of the company I keep when I’m out there of course.  There’s one big ol’ robin in particular who absolutely can’t stand Graham.  And he sings out at the top of his lungs every time Graham is anywhere near (like anywhere outside within the County).  Graham usually just sits and watches him (which I’ve found out completely cracks up the woman who delivers the mail) unless that bird is getting cocky and lets down his guard.  Then he gets a good scare and gets chased out of the yard and it gets quiet again for a while.

It seems like spring has been here forever actually.  But that’s probably because I stopped paying attention to “March Madness” a long time ago.  My Purdue Boilermakers were embarrassingly evicted from everyone’s brackets in the first round.  Add in that Easter was in March this year and it feels like it should be May by now.

But, when I take the trash out early next week and there’s snow on the ground, that’s going to completely throw me out of whack.  Then, I’ll probably feel like starting my Christmas shopping or picking out a Halloween costume.  But, until then, it’s warm, it’s sunny, the birds are yelling, and that says spring to me…

Keepin’ on…

Helping hold the hat in place on a windy day...

Helping hold the hat in place on a windy day…

Before anything else, I have to tell you that a weekend without a new episode of The Walking Dead just doesn’t feel like a complete weekend.  Just sayin’…

I’ve been pretty wound up lately with politics, current events, and everyone’s opinions and ideas about it all that I needed a mental break from it all today. Maybe I should run for mayor to start a political run of my own to make a difference, at least in this little part of the world, but not today…

You know it’s going to be an interesting day when your cat wakes you up. Not by jumping on you or by tapping you repeatedly in the face with a furry paw, but by turning on the television. And not just the TV.  Somehow Graham managed to turn on the satellite box this morning and I found him in the living room watching infomercials and looking longingly at the remote control.  If he knew which combination of buttons would tune in Animal Planet, I think this morning’s quirky start could turn into a daily event.

But he’s just been getting a bit stir crazy. We’ve had high winds for the past couple of days and, no matter how much he wants to go outside to play, when the fences, trees and plants still in their pots are blowing across the yard, a twelve-pound cat just doesn’t stand a chance. And, this morning, when he finally pushed his way out into the front yard (helpfully losing about a point of excess fur along the way), the UPS truck pulled up just then, chasing him back inside. Talk about bad timing. And on the last attempt, he made it out under my car before he just couldn’t take it any more and made a mad dash to the door, leaping over a rolling purple mum on the way. Let’s just say it’s windy enough that if I was a kid, I’d be grabbing a sheet and climbing up on the roof to see how far it could take me.  It’s still tempting…

I guess I must be getting a bit stir crazy too. And Graham has always fed off of my emotions ever since he was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. I should really video us watching a Detroit Lions game together. We start out on the couch but then, before long, I’m up pacing the room trying to “calmly” explain to the coaches how to run a slant route or just what a defensive line stunt is, and Graham’s attempting to cross from the far side of the living room through the dining room to the kitchen without ever touching the floor. I get excited, he gets excited.  If I get a bit too worked up, he turns into the living embodiment of the Tasmanian Devil.

But for now, I’ve got to stay focused. I’m hoping that I’ll be starting to send out my query letters to agents, peddling my novel to all of them, before the grass is covered with snow.  But that means getting these finishing touches done soon.  And, when things happen like completely removing an entire chapter – like just happened the other day – it’s definitely a slower, more challenging process.  But it will be worth it.  Because I believe in it and I love the story.  So I have faith it will be published one of these days and finding its way into people’s hands.

Then I can start planning that book release party and start meeting people, shaking hands and kissing babies.  After all, I think it would be interesting to list in my bio on the second novel – “In his part-time, Drew works as the mayor of —— in Fayette County”.  Or…maybe not.

You Too Can Live Scared in Fayette County

image

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…

Bigfoot From Spaaaaaaaaace

image

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!