Portrait of a Small Town: Clarksburg, WV

I remember having a ball with my camera in a tiny little rundown town in Preston County when I first moved back to West Virginia. I've gotten a little better with the camera since then, so it seems like time to make the small town rounds again. First stop: Clarksburg.

Above is a fountain I remember from chlidhood, right next to the bank where I opened my first savings account. (This is a big deal when you're raised by a fiscally conservative New Englander.)

Downtown has some beautiful buildings, but I've also been intrigued for a while by the little subsection of town known as Glen Elk. The homeless shelter known as the Mission is there, but otherwise there's a quiet, abandoned air to the place.

I was surprised to see a large bag of good-looking salad greens in the front seat of this car.

And I think this may be a Slim Jim wrapper. At least, I really want this to be a Slim Jim wrapper. 

Apparently a former buggy for a soccer team?

Love the unexpected spot of color from these cute yellow chairs . . . and I hope they mean that people actually sit on this little balcony.

Just around the corner from what appears to be a residence is an old doorway that looks to be a former entrance to Julio's. I haven't been in years, but it's one of those semi-secret places that everyone raves about. Despite being next to the railroad tracks with nothing else around, Julio's has always had the reputation of a fine dining establishment, known for the lack of prices on the menu (much to the chagrin of my aforementioned fiscally-conservative father). Apparently prices have since been added.

I can imagine a really great outdoor beer garden in the grassy space above. If you could somehow convince a bunch of creatives to re-locate en masse, they'd find some really cool (and cheap!) places to inhabit here.

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.