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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shoes! A fabulous sweepstakes win...

Known (at least to myself) as the Sweeps Queen of Landgraff, West Virignia, I've made entering online sweeps and contests a kind of late night hobby. I have won a few things over the years, mostly tee-shirts & the like, but also a few goodies, including a wonderful long weekend with Dan at the Boulder's Golden Door Spa in Arizona from Oil of Olay, & that Intrepid trip in Italy earlier this year... After the Italy Fiasco, however, I vowed to Dan that I'd never enter a "trip" sweeps again unless the prize was for 2 people and included flights and Everything Else, & I've been true to my word. I enter a lot of "stuff" sweeps, but I'm careful to enter only those hosted by well-known, reputable companies, and for prizes I really want to win... (The big box of condoms that I had to sign a notorized affidavit to claim taught me that...)
For some time now I've had a feeling that I was about to hit "critical mass" in the sweeps-entries-department, at which time the Big Prizes would start rolling in... (Anyone else see the movie "Real Genius"?) Well, this week they did!
A lover of fabulous shoes for many a year (Long before Sex & the City was a gleam in anyone's eye), I'm always perusing fashion sites & mooning over "dream shoes" I'd want to own should I win the Lotto someday... (In 1985 I once spent my entire monthly Army pay check on a pair of high-heeled fur pumps- if that gives you an idea of where my head is at...) This is a woman, after all, whose husband wooed and won her heart with a present of a pair of black, patent leather, 6"
stilletto pumps...
Last week I found and joined a fun fashion site devoted to "all things shoe":, and entered their weekly sweeps. I took one look at the fabulous pair of shoes they had up as that week's prize- $595 Mary Norton peep-toe, high-heeled, fur pumps, embellished with Swarovski crystals!- and I just Had to enter! If ever there were a pair of shoes that "spoke" directly to me, and in a clear, loud voice, it was these! And then I thought no more of it until the next day... when I got a call from the shuzsociety gal telling me I'd won them! She must think I'm nuts, because I nearly went out of my mind right there on the phone! No big, clunky, flat Uggs for me- I had just won my Dream Shoes! Then I got a call from Mary Norton herself- and her website has THE best sales on THE most gorgeous, hand-made shoes and bags that the likes of JLo, et al, are wearing on the red carpet: - and within days I had them on my little feet- see above- positively THE most gorgeous pair of shoes I think I've ever owned! They arrived in a chic, ribbon-bedecked, pink and brown Mary Norton box, with a lovely shoe bag & a personal note
from Mary, and I truly treasure all of it!
But then a new problem arose: where to wear them?!
I mean, like, you know, Seriously: even in a little black dress, the Kimball Wally World just ain't "worthy"...
And then I won the Grand Prize in another sweeps- with a 3-day trip for 2 to California, including flights, hotel, and a party! I have no idea if Dan and I will be able to go, but if we do, I'll definitely have the shoes for it! :-D

No water - again. The McDowell County PSD fiasco continues

Unfortunately the "lack of water in winter issue", since Mavis Brewster & the McDowell County PSD (Public Service District) took over our water supply, is still alive and well in McDowell County.
Those of you who saw the first post on this blog last January, may recall that the county was without water for 26 days until the media came & "miraculously" got us our water back. At the time I took & posted photos of Dan shooting a water line across the creek with a bow & arrow, something he wound up doing 6 times last winter. It seemed humorous the first time, but less and less humorous as he had to do it again and again, as the McDowell County PSD repeatedly let the water pressure drop so low that there was no way to keep the water from freezing. And now it is humorous no longer. It is a criminal fiasco of epic proportions. We are not living in the "3rd world"- and yet we are.

Today- for the 5th time in the last month- we lost water again, literally watching it go from a full flow to nothing. This time the McDowell County PSD's excuse- relayed to us by the 911 personnel, as no one answered the telephone at the PSD- was that the ENTIRE COUNTY was without water, so at least we know 100% we're not alone. A few days ago we were in the kitchen at 3 a.m., when the tap water (running full force, as we now have to let it do all winter), slowed to a trickle, and then stopped. Mavis Brewster of the McDowell County PSD was not only in absolute denial that there was anything wrong- as always- she lied to us repeatedly. When we called her she expressed-again- disbelief- that we had no water, saying that we are the "only" people who called to report not having water, something she states every single time we call to report that we have no water, when it is known across WV that most of McDowell County is now often without water during the winter.
We had to cancel weekend reservations for the Inn, and on Friday, Jan. 16 we again turned away guests because we had no water. We then learned that the local motel was closed as well; there was literally no lodging available for these tourists anywhere in the county!

This is not only grotesquely embarrassing for the county, it is humiliating to the State of West Virginia.

That time we had no water for 5 days- until my husband, Dan- aged 62 with a bad back and an aneurysm- was able to dig a trench and lay yet another water line. He has not yet been able to complete the project as the weather has been too cold, and as a result of this we are now also dealing with busted pipes, resultant flooding, and at least one toilet that must be replaced. We hold the McDowell County PSD and Mavis Brewster personally and totally responsible for this entire fiasco and all its costs, both physical and financial.

Mavis Brewster of the McDowell County PSD twice told us that "someone was coming to check the meter to see if there was water pressure" and told Dan that this had been done and that there was "nothing wrong" with it. Not only did we never see anyone from the McDowell county PSD on our property, but in the process of working on our water line again, Dan opened the meter and there was a hole in it with water shooting out!
This winter the no-water situation, coupled with the lies and refusal to rectify it, has been devastating- and this was NOT the case when Kimball Water controlled our water for the first 5 years of our lives here.
I again emailed everyone I could think of in the WV media and the Rural Water Association, as I still have a glimmer of hope that they can put sufficient pressure on Ms. Brewster and the McDowell County PSD to rectify this fiasco. If you would like to help, and know of appropriate people to contact and to forward this blog post to, please do so.
Elisse Clark

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy New Year 2009! Gary Bowling's House of Art, & Trains!

New Year's Eve 2008-2009: Gary Bowling's House of Art, Bluefield

New Year's Eve was fun- for the first time in 6 years we left the Elkhorn Inn on New Year's Eve-
because there was finally someplace worth going to! Friends and family from Virginia, North Carolina, and Minnesota came in, and we all got duded up & went to Gary Bowling's House of Art in Bluefield, WV, the area's only professional art & music venue, for their BYOB Dinner-Dance. Gary Bowling and his friends have truly created a great creative space in Bluefield- a professional art display space with a great and eclectic selection of interesting artwork (much of the best, in my opinion, being Gary's 3-D installations), a professional music venue with a real dance floor, and a fun place for dining, exhibit openings, and special events.
I really have to hand it to him, as after 6+ years here here we'd both truly given up hope that there would Ever be place within several hours driving distance of the Inn worth going to.
The food was served downstairs, at tables situated amongst the art displays: a pleasant pasta buffet with Caesar Salad & desert cannolis, it wasn't exactly what I'd envisaged as a gala New Year's Eve dinner... but we broke out our wine, and had a nice meal. Then we went upstairs where The Emeralds, a very good oldies band, was starting to cook, and spread out the contents of our cooler along our festively decorated table: more wine, Bushmill's Irish Whiskey, Applekorn from Germany... The band played a great deal of fun dance music, mostly 60s & 70's, & everyone had a great time swing dancing, slow dancing, even line dancing, for hours. We took "smoke breaks" and wandered around looking at all the art work (Mel loved the "biggest Skateboard in the World"!), got make a few new friends, and congratulate Gary on pulling off a great party! I got to wear the beautiful hand-painted silk Ao Dai Dan had made for me in Vietnam, & so, even as fat as I am right now, I at least felt as pretty as possible! (The long, floaty Ao Dai tunic, slit up both sides to the waist and worn with slim plants, must be The most flattering outfit ever engineered!) Our niece Mel from Minnesota got to spin around the dance floor in a wonderful iridescent purple ball gown, and she truly was the belle of the ball!
Happily, when we finally had to do the long drive back to the Inn in the wee hours it was uneventful, with no traffic stops, little traffic, and no problems. A Very nice way to start off 2009! I wanted to soak in the hot tub in the wee hours of the new year, like Dan & I did last year, but everyone else was too pooped!

"Chef Dan" made a fine dinner of Poached Salmon on Pasta with Alfredo Sauce at the Elkhorn Inn the evening our friends arrived, and we served on our festive New Year's dining table, complete with our giant, 6' inflatable New Years Baby!

The night of Jan. 2 we finally saw our "first trains of the New Year": The Pokey stopped in front of the Inn for an hour! It was a beautiful railfan scene, the lights of the train softly illuminating the track and landscape ahead in a gentle rain, but but try as I might, I couldn't get a decent photo of her with our little point-&-shoot digital camera! AAAUGH! We really do need to get a Real camera- a digital SLR that I can take night shots with! The photos of "our" little train- the inflatable Santa Express- came out just fine, however! It's been so rainy, gray, & ucky lately that we've decided to leave up all our big, colorful inflatable decorations (see previous post) until the first Inn guests of the new year arrive this week!
And so begins 2009!