Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dark Side

I always looked forward to coming to West Virginia.  But this year is different.  I have seen a dark side of West Virginia.

First off, so many of my relatives have died.  All the good ones are dead.  Heck, even the bad ones are dead.  Not too many are left.  All my younger relatives with any sense have moved away.  Those without sense that have stayed are ones I wouldn't associate with anyway.

I didn't get to see any of my first cousins or their children.  It has been very depressing.  But then I think, the two first cousin I have here, don't actually live near Branchland.  They live about two hours drive away.

Crystal Meth has really destroyed the community.  It didn't matter if you locked the front door or not.  Now, I was told not to leave anything on the front porch that I didn't want stolen.  You look at some of the people around here, and they look awful.  Not only due to bad health/ healthcare, but the meth has wrecked their teeth, brains, and bodies. 

My Grandmother is not as I remember at all.  This is the first year she really seems old to me.  She has become much more judgemental, angry, and hardheaded.  Her memory is going, and she can't seem to understand much of what I say to her.  She is also much more frail.  The first day I arrived she had the heat cranked and the house was 88 degrees inside.  No I am not making that up.

It seems all the people up here are getting older and meaner.  Family feuds that were long put to rest are now resurfacing.  The rumor mill up here is just awful.  It's either keep a secret to yourself, or just figure if you say something, you better understand the whole town will know. 

I don't like what's happened up here, and I don't think I want to come back.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stupid Butterflies

I was moving maple around when a butterfly zoomed by my face.  Instead of smushing it, I decided to take pictures and film it.  So here's some footage of it.  I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pointing! Part 2

My inside joke is catching.  If you saw the first post you know that I like to point aimlessly into the woods while taking pictures.  Now I have relatives doing it too.

Me and Grandma:



I can even get Mom to do it.  She swears she's pointing to Heaven, but it's really the woods.




If only I could get my Uncle Wallace to point, but with a twist!  Maybe use tomatoes or something....




I tried to get my sister to point, but she won't let me take her picture.  She's probably afraid I'll put it in a blog.  She'd be right. 

So stay tuned.  I'm sure more pointing blogs will be coming.

A Field Full of Relatives

Last year my Girlfriend (at that time) Roxy came with me to West Virginia.  She came from a small family.  Small as in, she counted four relatives.  I don't think she understood the magnitude of the size of my family on the Long side.  At least until she visited the Long cemetery with me.  Here's a picture from two years ago of me at the Long cemetery.



Last week I visited the Adkins cemetery.  I can only think if Roxy thought the Long cemetery was big, she wouldn't believe the number of relatives in the Adkins cemetery.  Here's the thing.  If a person lives in the Tri-state area, and has the last name of Adkins, I am related to them.  No, I'm not making that up.  They may be a distant relative, but I am related to them.




I know it may be tough to see, but just about all those gravestones say Adkins on them.  There must have been over 50 gravestones with Adkins on them.  There may have been as many as 100 Adkins there.  It's kind of tough when you see that many.




We were visiting the cemetery to make sure one of our relatives graves was okay.  While we were there we also visited one of my Grandmother's sister's grave. 




A lot of people may say they have a big family, but let me show them around West Virginia.  Here's a weird fact, my sister has documented 7000 relatives with the help of the Internet.  Now, that is counting relatives both alive and dead, but you have to admit that's pretty impressive.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Some Things Are Cuter In West Virginia

On Saturday in West Virginia that means one thing.  It's Flea Market day!  I like going to the markets and antique stores in West Virginia since the area is so old, there are a lot of vintage items.  But it's also rural with a lot of farmlands.  That means one thing.  Lots of farm animals. 

Sure, there were a lot of puppies for sale, but I don't want one of those.  Especially since they were all lap dogs.  I was able to find something that speaks to my and your inner 5 year old.  Baby ducks.



Ducks.  Nature's naturally curious animals.




And there are cute chicks in West Virginia.  Oh no.  Not those type of chicks.  These type of chicks.




Well, any old Flea Market could have antiques, but it takes a special kind of Flea Market to have farm animals.  And no, none of them followed me home.  But it would be funny if I build a pond in my back yard just for baby ducks.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Timber! The Maple Edition

Yesterday from 9AM to 8PM, Dad and me cut up a fallen maple tree.  Dad did really well.  He only broke one chainsaw bar, and only went through two chains.  By my estimate this tree weighed 7 and a half tons.  Like the smart person I am, I made sure to take plenty of photos of what happened.  Here we go.

First, this is what we were up against, a fallen Silver Leaf Maple Tree.



To show you the shear size of the base of the tree, check this out.




As you can see here, the bottom/ base of the tree was rotten.  That's why it fell down.




Then we cut the tree into usable parts.




Then, even Dad had to get into the pointing thing.  (If you don't get it, you missed the pointing blog.)  But what's up with that hat?  I guess it's ok to get chainsaw grease on it.




Then, even I got a little silly.  I start pointing, but with a twist!  But what's up with my face in this photo?  It looks like I got a piece of cake in my mouth.




Here's the final tally.  Dad had 35 pieces of wood for wood turning.  I had five for instrument making.  Two for guitar bodies, two for cello sides, and one for a guitar back.  Here's the picture of the wood, and a really tired Adrian.




A lot of you might be wondering if that pile of wood should be a lot larger.  You have to figure that we had to throw away a lot of the rotten wood.  We also got rid of the outside bark on a lot of the pieces.  Also, when the tree crashed it cracked some of the wood on the inside so we couldn't use that part.  But it should be noted that any waste wood got put into the ditch so that it would hold the riverbank. 

So the next part is going to be fun, and deserving of it's own blog.  The wood has to be carried up the hill so that we can put it into the blue trailer.  We can't bring a vehicle down the hill since it is so wet and steep.  So Dad and me will have to use a wheelbarrow and hand cart to bring the pieces of wood up the hill.  And understand this, that hill is insanely steep and slick.  I know of a few pieces that will have to be carried by hand.  But we will wait until we are healed up from our hard day of work before we start hauling that maple up the hill.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Little Blue Wagon

You can't play with my little red wagon
The wheel's broken and the axel's draggin.....

Well, my wagon isn't red.  It's blue.  But the wheel blew out and the axel was definately dragging the ground.  But let me start at the begining.

My sister and I came up to West Virginia first.  My parent's followed up a week later.  My Dad towed our blue wagon/ trailer/ wood hauler behind the truck.  He drove 900 miles to get to Grandma's house, and only 20 miles from the house trouble happened.  Or rather, blew up.

A bolt snapped which let the springs bend, which in turn bent the tire.  The tire then touched the wheel cover, which acted like a knife as the tire touched it.  It pretty much cut the tire in half.  Dad ended up getting it to where it would work until he could make to Grandma's house.

Luckily, my Uncle Wallace and Lek helped to get the trailer repaired today.  So far, my Dad has put enough money in this trailer to make himself mad.  He said for that amount of money he's put into it, he could have bought a decent trailer.

But again, my relatives did a great job repairing it.  It should be able to hold that maple tree we will be cutting down tomorrow.  Here's a picture of it.



Oh, and here's some West Virginia humor.  My Uncle Lek saw the trailer, and asked my Dad, "Why didn't you paint it blue?"  I didn't get the joke.  It's that it really is that blue, it more than stands out. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pointing! Into The Woods!

I like to take pictures.  But I hate the standard smile for the camera kind.  I think it's very artificial.  So I always find a way to make my pictures unique.  Of course, that means that some people will absolutely hate them.  Generally that is most of my family.

I remember one time when Mom got her new camera, and was taking lots of pictures.  I started doing a thumbs up in every single picture.  It's funny how some little things can drive a person up the wall.  Well, the thumbs up would do that to her.  It got to the point where I could give a thumbs up at the dinner table, and it would make her mad.  So of course I kept doing it.

One time during hunting season our hunting buddy John (not to be confused with my Dad John) kept asking us where we wanted to hunt.  Dad would just point and say, "In the woods."  So I had a picture taken with me pointing to where I was going to hunt.  Namely, in the woods.  This is it.



So it became this ongoing joke.  Hence, my newest hilarious picture.




Then, I even got Dad in on the act.




In the following days I hope to get a lot more pictures of relatives pointing into the woods.  I'm sure I can get one of my Grandma pointing.  She will do anything for me.  I'm the good Grandson.  Actually, maybe I can get a whole family tree of relatives pointing.  One can only dream.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Getting My Goat, And Loving It!

On Saturday I attended the Arts and Crafts Fair at the Huntington Civic Center.  But the excitement wasn't inside the building.  It was in the entryway.  There was a group that rescued farm animals and had three baby goats on display.  These goats were bottle raised and friendly as a pet beagle.  And the greatest part, they were so cute.  I know it's hard for some people to believe, but Adrian does have a soft side.  I have been described as a giant teddy bear by certain female friends.

Anyway onto the great pictures!



Is that adorable or what?  I'm a natural humanitarian.  Now check out this picture.  Goats, nature's naturally curious animals.



I don't know what's cuter, a baby deer, or a baby goat. 



Here are the other two goats.  They were just as friendly and cute.



They also had a rescued chicken there. 




But back to the goats.  All these years I thought I needed a pet dog.  But maybe all I needed was a pet goat. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Adrian Yells At The Local News

As I sit on Grandma's uncomfortable couch, I can't help but yell at the TV.  The local news has been on for just 15 minutes, and 10 minutes of it have been about the weather.  It turns out that something terrible has happened.  It seems that there is water falling from the sky around here.

Since I am one of those "tourist types" no one listens to me.  I try to explain that I'm from Florida, and water falling from the sky is quite normal.  In fact, it actually helps us.  I know it's hard to believe, but we actually got 60 inches of water falling from the sky last year.  I remember back in 1985 we has Hurricane Elaina sat out in the gulf, and water fell for a solid week.  25 inches of water fell from the sky during that week.

You would think that this being the Appalachian Mountains water from the sky would be a normal thing.  But apparently it's not.  So, to show my disgust for the reaction to something that we call RAIN way down South, here is a picture of a goat.

...And the Cannon goes, "Boom!"

So far, I have loved my blog move from Myspace over to Blogger.  It has allowed me to post pictures that look very crisp, and in a very nice order.  It also allows me to post video. 

Last week I attended a Civil War Reenactment.  It was pretty entertaining, but I thought the Union was supposed to win that battle.  The Confederates won this reenactment.  I wonder if someone got their history wrong? 

My video camera mysteriously did not have a tape in it, so I recorded some of the battle on my regular Kodak camera.  So if I do this right, this is some great footage from the reenacted battle.



Wasn't that cannon blast awesome?  Oh yeah. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Triumph!

I have a friend in Shawn Kyle.  You may or may not know him from his band, "The Beauvilles."  We have a bit in common in that we both love old beat-up guitars and motorcycles.  I don't ride, but I do admire the machinery of motorcycles. 

It struck me as weird when I came across a motorcycle show in the weirdest place.  It was in the "bad" mall in Ashland, Kentucky.  Half the stores were empty, and the half that had merchandise were closed in the middle of the day on a Wednesday.  But in this mostly empty mall was a store with about 50 vintage motorcycles.  Unfortunately, the store was closed, but it did have see through panels letting me view all the motorcycles.

In the front was something that stood out so much it reminded me of Shawn.  You see, Shawn has a thing for vintage Triumph motorcycles.  There in the front, was a completely restored 1967 Triumph motorcycle. 

Cue the pics!!!









I don't imagine Shawn as the crying kind, but I do think he might tear up if he was on one side of the glass, and couldn't touch it.  I'm having trouble remembering, but I think that the 67 is his favorite year of Triumph bikes.  Even if it isn't, this was a pretty impressive specimen of a motorcycle.

Someone's in the Kitchen With Adrian

As I spend vacation here in West Virginia I notice it's a simpiler way of life.  I decided to throw myself into the country life by making a handmade pie.  Since this is an Adrian pie, I used Splenda instead of Sugar. 

I told my Grandmother that I would make a Strawberry Pie.  Of course, she started to worry. 

"But I don't have a crust," she said. 

I said, "That's okay, I'll make it by hand."  Which made her worry more. 

"How are you going to make it?" 

"Well, I figure I'll use some flour and a few other things."  Okay I know that was a smart ass remark, but really it's not that hard to make a crust.  Oh, and I'm not giving away my secret ingredients.  So I chopped some strawberries and other "secret ingredients" and this is what came out.



And I didn't even have a rolling pin.  How my Grandmother could not have a rolling pin I don't know.  But back to the point.  This could be the greatest pie ever made.  Not just by me.  The best pie period.  That's something to think about.

Gravestones: West Virginia Style

Life is different in the Appalachian Mountains.  From the way the people live to the way they die.  Take for instance this gravestone:









For those who can't read the hand chiseled stone here is the translation.

Mickey
Donald
Mahone

Born 5-5-1945
Died 4-19-2004

Though (sic) I Walk
Threw (sic) The
Valley of Death
I Shall Fear
No Evil Cause
IM The Meanest
Son Of A Bitch
In This
Valley

That kind of says it all about this section of the country.  But hey, Mickey must have had at least one great friend to put that in stone for him.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Overpriced Couches and Insulting the Locals

I was touring around the Huntington, West Virginia and Ashland, Kentucky countryside.  I was busy looking for musical instrument and pawn shops, while my evil twin sister was looking for antique shops.  She had made a list of places she wanted to go in the area.  We happened to drive by one while going to a guitar shop I was going to.

So after we visited the guitar shop, we drove back down the road to the antique shop.  It seemed normal enough.  First we had to find the door.  It was hidden on the side.  As we walked in the shop the first thing I noticed was that it was packed, as in packed with junk with barely any place to walk.  I was having to tip-toe through the store to avoid knocking things over.  I’m not kidding.  I was moving very slowly since things were piled up one thing on another.

As I went to walk up the stairs I had to get a hold of my evil twin sister.  She was going to go around the side to get to the second floor.  I had to tell her there was a staircase inside the building.  The staircase was mostly covered with overpriced jars.  In fact, even though there was nothing of interest to me it all seemed overpriced.  Not just a little overpriced, it was just a ridiculous amount overpriced. 

As I made my way upstairs I noticed an old time couch.  I then noticed the price of the couch.  I should have.  It marked ever so eloquently on a sign. 




For the record, it says: 

Couch – New Padding
And New Upholstery – was
$1,295.00 – On Sale Now!!
$995.00

I got to thinking.  First, that couch is way overpriced.  Second, why is there so much stuff on and around it?  Don’t believe me?  Look at this.




Then I wondered, if I were to buy it how the hell was I supposed to get it out of that shop.  All sorts of stuff would have to be moved off it.  Then a path would have to be cleared to the stairs.  I don’t know how it would have to be turned to get down the stairs.  Then, all the overpriced jars would have to be cleared off the stairs.  Next, a lot of stuff would have to be cleared out of the way at the bottom of the stairs to get the couch straight.  Then a path would have to be made so that it could reach the door. 




The woman who was at the front desk was kind of bossy.  She was telling us that there were two other buildings that had things in them, but she just kind of pointed out back.  There were three buildings, and I asked her which ones.  She grabbed me by the sleeve of my shirt, and started to drag me over to it.  I resisted the urge to yank my sleeve out of her hand.  To say it mildly, she was getting on my nerves. 

I checked the other two buildings of increasingly overpriced junk.  There was nothing I could even pretend to be interested in.  As we were walking back to the car she came out, and started asking us, “Wasn’t there anything you could find that you couldn’t live without?”  I told her I was looking mainly for musical instruments.  She started yammering on, and I just kind of faded out.  That is until she said that her sister owned the store, and she ran the front desk.  Since she had so far insulted me with bad prices, grabbed me, and bored me, I did the only thing an Adrian would do.  I asked her if the other lady next to her was her “life partner.”  She was like, “Not hardly!  That’s my adopted sister!” 

This of course completely embarrassed my evil twin sister.  I just thought with all the crap that lady was slinging that I would give a little back.  If I had to do it again, I would have told her that it was okay, and that I was completely understanding and supportive of her and her life partner’s right to be here, queer, and that I had gotten used to it. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bitch'in Camaro! Part 2: The Other Cars

I recently wrote about going to a Civil War reenactment, and running into a small car show there.  There were roughly 10 vehicles there, and 6 of them were Camaros.  So this leads to the question, "What were the other cars?"  Well, here you go.

1.  A 1955 Chevy Bel-Aire.  I thought the paint was terrible until I realized that it was probably the original paint.  Not bad for a 50 year old car.


2.  A beautiful red Ford Torino, like in the movie with Clint Eastwood.




3.  My dream truck.  A 1953 Chevy Pickup.







There was a Corvette and a Mustang that were not vintage cars, so I didn't get pictures of them.  I guess for being in a small town it wasn't a bad turnout.  I'm glad they had a few cars there.  But I really liked that truck.  Someone should make a truck like that now a days.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Adrian: Good Christian Boy

So I am up here in West Virginia on vacation.  On Sunday I decided to be a good Grandson to my dear Grandmother Betty.  She is my last remaining grandparent, and is soon to be 82.  I realize I only have so much time left to spend with her.  So I decided to take her to church on Sunday, and stay for the service. 

She has a friend who sits next to her by the name of Macie.  My Grandma started telling me that Macie helped her become a better singer when my Grandmother was 17.  Grandma Betty is 81 soon to be 82.  Macie is dang near in her 90's.  They have been friends that long.  That just blew my mind.  Macie is as sweet as can be, but now has a bit of confused memory/ loss of memory.

Macie asked me, "Do you know how long I have been on this Christian path?"  I said, "72 years?"  To which she replied, "72 years!"  I said, "I know because you have told me a couple times."  Which is true, she told me about four different times.  My Grandmother told me that she'll do it to me next week too.  But I do want to add that Macie was as sweet as could be.  She was just amazingly nice.  Instead of being angry at people, she said she really liked young people.  To me that was a real surprise.  So many older people I know just hate young people.  She was genuinely nice.

She was so happy to see me.  She said, "It's so good for you to be here.  You're a good Christian boy."  Then my Grandmother said, "He's the best of all my Grandchildren.  He'll come to church with me."  Oh, she said this to a lot of people, as in, 20.  A lot of them replied, "Well, that's one way to tell."  In other words, you could easily separate the best of the bunch by which ones came to church. 

The funny part of all this is that I don't consider myself Christian.  Now, I didn't bother to correct anyone.  I kind of thought the whole thing funny.  But I do want to spend time with my Grandma, so I didn't mind driving and going to church with her.  But I do want to be voted the best of the Grandchildren.

When my Sister told my Mother that I went to church with Grandma, my Mother said, "Praise the Lord!"  To which my Sister said, "Mom!  He's not going to stop being Pagan just because he went to Church with Grandma."  Mom said, "No, I'm just glad that he made sure that Grandma got there safely, and that he kept an eye out for her." 

Of course, I think that's total b.s.  I think Mom is hoping I will repent from my ways.  And probably shave and get a haircut.  And stop cursing so much.  And stop cooking such spicy food.  But I digress.

I was glad to spend some time with Grandma and her longtime friend Macie.  Here is a picture of them  My Grandma Betty is on the left, and Macie is on the right.

Bitch'in Camaro!

So while I was at the Civil War reenactment in Kentucky, they had a car show for the car enthusists like me.  "That's great!" I thought.  I walked over to where the cars were, and was kind of disappointed.  There were only 10 vehicles, and 6 of them were Camaros.

I mean, you know you are in the South when you see that many Camaros bunched together.  There was an old joke when Chevy discontinued the Camaro.  People asked, "What are the rednecks going to drive now?"

But a lot of people reading this know me.  They know that I tend to joke around/ gag people a lot.  Well, for your viewing pleasure, here are six vintage Camaros.

1.  The Silver Camero



2.  A different Silver Camaro (1969)




3.  The Blue Camero.




4.  The 1968 Black Camero.




5.  The 1969 "Other" Black Camaro.




6.  The "Yet Another" Black Camero from 1968.



So all these Cameros lead me to one thought.  It's time for a mid-life crisis, and for me to buy and fix up and old muscle car.  I prefer Early 70's Dodge muscle cars like the Charger and Challenger.  But yeah, it's a perfectly good time for me to have a mid-life crisis.  Especially if I can get a car to look like any of the six above.

Putting a Party Hat On a Horse Does Not Make It a Unicorn

So I was at a Civil War reenactment in Kentucky.  It was awesome.  Not because of the reenactment, but because of everything else.  For the kids they had pony rides.  I suspect it was a gay pony.  Why?  Well, look at the picture, and figure it out:




But what of this unicorn I speak of?  What about it?  Ok, here you go:



But for guys like me, they at least had a regular horse.




I know what you are thinking.  "Don't they have fun animals like goats?"  Yes.  Yes they do.




Or a goat in a bucket?




Llama, llama, llama, llama.




It was better than just the animals.  But it can't be contained in just one blog.  This blog shall be followed by an even greater blog.  And that blog will be followed by a blog even greater than it.  Epic.