We took a day trip to Staunton on Daniel’s birthday a few weeks ago. It’s a scenic 40 minute drive through the mountains. The cold front that weekend let a bit of fall seep in prematurely. We perused antique malls, drank iced coffees, and stopped in at Cracker Barrel for birthday dinner.
The past couple weeks have been busy!
In the past two weeks, I (and sometimes Daniel):
- completed my first and second week at the new job
- made the discovery that I’m mildly allergic to vinyl
- bought some greige nail polish at Sephora
- wore shorts for the first time in 6+ months
- drank at least one cup of iced tea every day
- realized we’ve lived in Charlottesville for more than 8 months now
- went to Staunton to meet Daniel’s dad for breakfast
- took lots of photographs of flowers
- ate at a new Mexican restaurant
- went on a nature walk with a friend
- lamented the fact that my car AC no longer works
- thought about growing out my hair (again)
- attended a portion of the Tom Tom Founder’s Festival
- bought a vintage denim skirt at Low Vintage
- ate at Song Song’s Zhou and Bing with a friend (I really love that place)
- missed my old job
- finally bought some studs to wear in my second and third ear piercings
- made chocolate chip banana bread
- attended a fun potluck
- tried to make a daisy chain
- thought up a few new features for Style Wise
- reduced prices at Water Lily Thrift in honor of spring time
- contemplated how to balance ambition with contentment
- felt sorrowful over the return of house centipedes, sugar ants, and spiders
- talked to a friend on the phone
- got lots of allergy-induced headaches
– Reading: anything and everything on Rachel Held Evans’ blog
– Watching: Treme; King of the Hill
– Listening to: random Pandora stations at work; the Penguin Cafe Orchestra CD my sister got me for Christmas
– Anticipating: life puzzle pieces falling into place so I can take the next steps with confidence
Mockingbird Restaurant and Music Hall in Staunton, VA closed its doors at the end of last weekend for reasons unknown to the public. They’ve been very hush hush about its closing and didn’t announce it until the beginning of the year. They made all of their events free last week so Daniel and I attended both an open mic night and their final concert featuring local folk bands, The Winter Line and Hound Dog Hill.
The Winter Line is relatively new to the music scene. Their music is reminiscent of Mumford & Sons in both lyrical themes and instrumentation. It’s encouraging to see such a young banjo player. We saw them perform at both events and think they have a lot of potential.
Hound Dog Hill is a seven member bluegrass, blues, and country band from the Shenandoah Valley. They played an enjoyable array of covers and originals from multiple genres. Their high energy and casual demeanor on stage made them immensely enjoyable to watch. Daniel even bought a t-shirt!
Since I don’t know the details of their closing, I don’t know whether to say goodbye or hope for a swift reopening. Rumor has it that there are a few buyers lined up to take over the place. We appreciate Mockingbird’s focus on local Roots music. We saw Ralph Stanley there back in August and we’d hate to never be able to visit again.
I think I’ll continue the monthly update in this fashion for 6 months. At that point, I may wrap up each month by its name rather than by how long I’ve lived in Charlottesville. To see my one month post, click here.
This month, I (and sometimes Daniel):
- updated my license and registration. It was surprisingly easy – I got it done in one afternoon!
- actually started calling people my friends, to their faces
- hung out on several occasions with some wonderful people
- started ballet classes
- unpacked and organized (almost) everything
- made 4 curtains
- bought a new mouse; we named her Chantico after the Aztec goddess of “fires in the family hearth.” Yes, we are beginning to realize we are pet rodent hoarders.
- finished the layout and design of the dining room and craft room
- hung up all of our artwork
- made a connection with a local vintage shop owner
- sold lots of great vintage on etsy and eBay
- joined the church choir and learned how to chant the Psalms
- ate at a delicious local pastry restaurant (3 times so far!)
- bought a delightful vintage tea towel
- “celebrated” my 24th birthday
- received a twin lens reflex camera, boots, a candle, various Bakelite pieces, and more cat coins from the Isle of Man (there’s one for every year of my life)
- ate at Red Lobster with my grandparents’ gift card (thanks, guys)
- visited Waynesboro and Staunton
- got significantly better at making lattes
- took and edited photos for my workplace’s website
This month went by incredibly quickly. I’m in disbelief that it’s October already. Things have begun to take on a consistent rhythm, which is nice and makes here feel more like home. I was struck with a small existential crisis last week, however, lamenting over the fact that being an adult is often harder than it is easy, often more annoying than it is enjoyable. There are, of course, many enjoyable moments that take place throughout each day, especially working as a barista and coming in contact with so many sorts of people. But I feel like the last several years have consisted largely of missing my childhood, of envying youth and ignorance. I’m glad to be able to think critically, be aware, and join in the conversation, but it’s mentally taxing and emotionally draining. There is so much to know, to take in, to come to terms with, to change – and we either have to do something about it or waste away. It’s a burden we have to bear if we plan on being responsible, useful adults.
We took a day trip over to the neighboring cities of Waynesboro and Staunton yesterday. While Waynesboro has a delightful Goodwill and a quaint downtown, the historical facades in downtown Staunton can’t be beat.
Brick, peeling with different shades of paint from at least a century’s worth of repairs and design preferences appeal to me because of the visual reminder of their age and history and, more simply, because of their unintended color stories, their unusual juxtapositions. They’re inspiring. I also enjoy the architectural details, so often disregarded in the design of contemporary structures in favor of cutting edge technology.
Last night, Daniel and I went to see bluegrass legend, Dr. Ralph Stanley, and his Clinch Mountain Boys in an intimate venue in downtown Staunton, Virginia.
I didn’t know much about the history of bluegrass until I watched the documentary, High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music, with Daniel the other day. Bluegrass is an amalgamation of folk music traditions, drawing most heavily on Irish traditional music brought over by Scots-Irish immigrants who settled in the Appalachian mountains in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Later on, these poor white southerners were influenced by the syncopated rhythms of African music and bluegrass began to develop into its own genre. Bill Monroe is considered the founder of bluegrass, but the Stanley Brothers took up the sound and feel of bluegrass shortly afterward.
Ralph Stanley has been composing and performing bluegrass music for 66 years. He’s now 85 years old. He has inspired decades of musicians and musical traditions.
We sat in a small dining room with no more than 100 people. Stanley was visibly under-the-weather, sitting on a chair surrounded by his band. After about two songs, he explained that he’d recently been hospitalized and wasn’t supposed to be performing. He didn’t want to let down his fans, he said, so he checked out early and came anyway. His body wasn’t strong enough to sing or play, so he transferred the lead to his grandson, Nathan Stanley.
Ralph Stanley made sure to sing one song all the way through: his Grammy award-winning rendition of “O, Death,” from the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack. Hearing the words, “Oh death, won’t you spare me over til another year,” coming from an ill, 85 year old about did me in. He’s supposed to make a full recovery, but the pleading now seems real. I was only able to capture a small portion of the solo, but I think it’s worth a listen.
Bluegrass has a peculiar, holy quality. It is moaning and dancing. There is much talk about death and misfortune and industrialization. But there’s a grounded joy underneath it all. An understanding that suffering is not the end – that if we just sing loud enough and play with feeling and believe in God we can elevate ourselves to something better.
The music I listened to last night made me feel like I do on the high swings at the fair in November, my eyes closed, aware of my body, aware of myself, but also aware of more. Literally and figuratively elevated, apart from the trudging task of daily life, understanding in my gut that I am fundamentally a part of a living, torrential natural world.