Patterns about Town

You know that elated feeling you get when you're finally well after being sick for some time? That's kind of how I felt when I finally picked up my camera after a long break last week. Oh, the joy of having an instant art-maker in my hand!

Being a visual person is a blessing and a curse. Almost every room I enter I re-decorate in my head, and I've been known to swap two pictures in a public bathroom that just were not in the right place. True story.

On the other hand, I see interesting compositions everywhere. I found so many lovely patterns on my walk downtown last week.

I think Morgantown could use more public art, and I've been brainstorming ideas of how that might happen (please comment below if you have some!), but meanwhile, I'm trying to remember to notice the beauty in what already exists. It's here amid the gritty winter dirt.

A Weekend in Boston

This activist honey bear featured prominently in the last college apartment I shared with my friend Sarah--a fine (firetrap if you ask my mom) place we affectionately dubbed the Pearl Palace.  His message seemed ever-relevant on my recent trip to see Sarah in Boston the weekend after the election.

I could not resist snapping some pics of Sarah and Ed's adorable apartment when I woke up Saturday morning. Everywhere you look is an interesting little vignette or a lovely piece of art. Plus, who can resist an affectionate multi-toed cat named Unicorn? No one. Clearly.

And then, because this is Boston, where things go on, we went to check out a new community center of sorts that Harvard opened recently. A ceramics class was in progress, and they let us wonder through and check things out.

What better to follow that then a fancy-pants grilled cheese (goat cheese, arugula, fig jam, yum) and beers?

I also could not resist a street selfie here, a la Vivian Maier. If you've not seen this woman's work, you must check it out. She took huge numbers of photos for years while working as a nanny in Chicago and printed very few herself; her work was discovered posthumously and is absolutely amazing, as explained in this documentary.

Sometimes small town life makes me forget how big the world is. Luckily, even a short weekend trip is enough to remedy that.

The Way Forward

Here in West Virginia we've been wondering about the way forward for many years. People feel desperate about the state of things--the widespread loss of jobs, the incredibly scary drug epidemic, the tendency of young people to leave the state. As a Charleston attorney explained in a blog post that went viral last week, it's these lost opportunities and jobs that account for our state's recent election results.

Last week I listened to a documentary called Cedar Grove, produced by Catherine Moore, who says: "There's just kind of a feeling in the air, right now, in central Appalachia, that we have reached a moment, or a crossroads, where we're gonna have to choose a path for our future." Her piece is worth a listen, and her conclusion simple: it starts with us.

And while I like that sentiment (take the power back! be self-reliant! don't wait for someone to save you!), it does leave me wondering. What does that mean?

For my part I say, hey, check out our beautiful state. We got to see some terrain you can't access except on foot by taking a ride on the Cheat Mountain Salamander train outside of Elkins several weeks ago. Which I mention because tourism is one option we have here. Social entrepreneurship is another.  Regular entrepreneurship could also work. But how do we make that happen? Should we recruit?