Sunday, September 04, 2005
back, after a week, I am. frisked to New Jersey, to deliver Erin to his grandmother, then to West Virginia. we cleaned, fixed and housepainted the house there, which belonged to Beth's father. we didn't stay in the house as it had been fumigated (which is why Erin didn't come along), and it was otherwise not really fit for comfort amidst our work. the Conrad Motel in downtown Glenville became our home on the road. basically, we either travelled or painted. I read little, mostly an autobiography of Phil Lesh. which I liked. I like the Dead well enough, am fascinated by the 60s and that specific counter-culture stuff. not that I was a playa, then or now. I brought books by Tabios, Warren, Eliade but couldn't muster much concentration. and I hardly wrote except for a long piece written on the drive from WV to NJ. I haven't looked at that yet. it is unsettling not to write or read. or at least, when it is a matter of not having time to. I saw no papers while away, and about the only news I heard concerned the hurricane. I like watching the Weather Channel while on the road, the weather where I am and where I was. it looked of course bad for New Orleans as Katrina neared landfall. I mean, the levees, whether in proper upkeep or not, sound like a tenuous situation. at best. but our concerns, I'm afraid, were more local. there'd been a lot of rain since before we arrived in WV, and the creeks were high. we feared the inconvenience of flooding, if the hurricane added to it. Beth asked the desk clerk if Glenvile might flood. the Little Kanawha flowed behind our room, about 20' away and 4' below us. the clerk said she'd come get us if such should happen, as if we were the citiest of slickers. detours could mean hours out of the way in this part of the country. in truth, some people did find their homes surrounded by water, but we weren't affected. I know I sound trivial here, but our lives are generally small, aren't they? Beth has been to NO but I haven't. the facts of that disaster are as difficult to comprise as the facts of the tsunami last Christmas. the sense of tragedy and horror and unstableness gives me a feeling similar to the feeling 9/11 engendered. in Art Spiegelman's book about 9/11, which I read last month, there's a picture of the city waiting for the other shoe to drop. that other shoe then was not another attack, it was the worry as to how the cowboys in office would react. it is the same fear now. plus the anger as to how poor the preparation was for what was a present danger. one morning we stopped to get gas at the nearby convenience store before heading off to our painting. a fellow there also gasing up sounded off about the price of gas. folks hereabouts, he said, making minimum wage, can't afford to drive to work. we heard that another time that day. gas was at $2.69. when we came back it was $3.09. it's like a whisper that there really is no infrastructure. this is whingeing, sure, but colossal criminality is afoot. surprisingly, the area appears to be doing better economically. a lot of locals went down to Florida to work after the hurricanes last year. and the oil biz is lively to say the least. we ate frequently at the Common Place, or whatever it's called, right there on Glenville's main drag. a small diner at which everyone seems to know each other. except us, tho they were starting to get used to us. someone asked if I was a Barton, because I looked like one, mainly I gather by my curly hair. little Glenville is a college town, Glenville State being up there on the hill. you always note at least a little zest in college towns. life goes on here, a fact which seems to need iteration. a couple lives about 1/2 miles from the house (2 houses down the road), who were friends of Beth's father and have been neighbourly to us. he does handy work now, having retired from a county job. she does a lot of arts and crafts. I mean a lot. she captures spider webs on boards, then spraypaints them, producing these odd, fascinating decorative pieces. she uses old windows as supports on which she paints scenes. one painting was primitive-style. various elements in the picture were quotes from paintings that she liked. it was beautiful. she wrote and self-published a novel, something of a romance novel, but with a strong understanding of and sensitivity to Native American culture. she's working on a biography of her mother, who is still alive. her mother ran away to the circus, where she did trick riding and such. she is also an accomplished musician, as is her daughter, in the old timey tradition. it was fascinating to hear her talk about this. part of the population of WV is plugging away, part has given up. you see homes that are not only perfectly kept up, there's an almost obsessive need to decorate. gardens and decorative items and whatnot. next door you might see homes barely standing up, trash everywhere. America's rift, and welcome to. friday we returned to NJ, saturday to Massachusetts. sunday this report. which, you know, I needed to make. thanks for reading.