Tag Archives: Appalachia Rising

Comfort Food

liberian foodI’m in Richmond for a few days to advocate for Coalfields Appalachia. Introvert that I am, trekking up and down the Halls of Power leaves me whacked.

I totally understand how important it is to know, respect, and talk with your legislators, particularly about things that can help your community: roads, school policies that play fair, healthcare access to close a coverage gap. Witness West Virginia; eyes might not have looked the other way, balls might not have been allowed to drop, and the blame game might not now be flowing faster than poisonous water.

So I’m not a cynic about the process of democracy–although when one of the legislative aides I know well winked and said, “Time to make the sausages,” we both cracked up. You know the famous quote, “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.”

It’s not cynicism that leaves me exhausted, but introvertism. (Is that a word?) I’m shy, and advocacy is important, so I do it. At each desk, the secretary asks which axe you’re grinding and the legislative aide wonders what you want; you smile and tell them, shake hands, move on. Smile some more. Once a Senator’s aide could be heard through the wall, saying in an exasperated voice to the secretary, “Well, just find out what she wants and tell her we’ll support it.” I get it, sweet child; it’s a hard job, dealing with people coming all day with their hands out. It’s a hard job, spending the day with our hands out. As one does one’s spiel and watches others do theirs, the place feels like a food warehouse with a thousand hungry people storming it.

Having spent the morning doing what feels vital rather than natural, I went out at lunchtime to recharge. Several restaurants nearby serve everything from barbeque to Middle Eastern lunches. A Liberian diner? Yes, please.  Stepping into the tiny “Africanne on Main,” I beheld a steam table laden with Cassava Leaf  and Smoked Trout and Oxtail Soup. The concept was simple; take what you want, $6.99 per pound. Behind me in the payment line waited a man with skin the color of caramel, salt-and-pepper dreadlocks reaching past his knees. When I turned, we almost collided; I smiled and apologized; he smiled and released my elbow where his hand had steadied my plate.

The meal proved delicious, fresh, hot, and calming (despite its fiery peppers). As I sat enjoying my out-of-the-comfort-zone comfort food, the First Lady spoke from the diner’s TV, rolling out an initiative to help disadvantaged students enter colleges. I thought of my morning in the Halls of Power, of the number of needy people in the Coalfields and other rural places who would honestly give back if given a chance, of the obstacles standing between them and a fair shot. And it felt like swimming upstream, to go back to the Halls of Power and ask, again and again, humbly with my hand out, for help for a whole bunch of people who wanted to give back, if only they could be given to.

And the man from the food line appeared at my table.  Without preamble, he said, “Hi, I just wanna say, in this era of school shootings and people on the make, with all that’s happening in the world, when I see someone with a warm, genuine spirit, I like to say, ‘hey, good for you, someone gets it.’ You have a great day.” And before I could swallow to speak, he was out the door.

Sir, you have no idea how much better you made my day. I flew back to the Halls of Power on wings of golden light because of you.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, blue funks, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

Raffle THIS!

It takes quite a bit to make me angry. Really. Jack and I have developed an even-keeled, let it flow quality of life that we enjoy.

But if you DO want to make me mad, take some decent, kind-hearted people seeking to do good in their community, pit them against a corporation in the same community sucking the economic lifeblood out of it, and throw in some condescending rudeness.

That’s pretty much guaranteed to work.

elissa kissing dachshundMy friend Elissa (yeah, the one who shoots kittens and paraplegic puppies) is spearheading a raffle for IN HIS HANDS SMALL ANIMAL RESCUE. Elissa currently has several fosters for IHH, including Hope, a dachshund who needs a cart because her back legs are paralyzed.

Unsuspecting, good-hearted Elissa went to Walmart the other day, and–crivens jings–left her door unlocked. When she returned, her glove box had been rifled, her seats moved, and the bag containing $40 and the stubs of raffle tickets she’d sold were missing.

She called Walmart and asked to see the video tape of the cameras they have in the parking lot, and told us the manager on the phone informed her that they didn’t want their customers alarmed with rumors of parking lot thefts, and why hadn’t she locked her car, rather than invite this type of crime?

So customer-minded. One can see clearly how much Walmart cares. They don’t want to upset anyone. Except the lady on the phone whose car was burgled. the bag

The bag was turned in to the front desk of Walmart, sans money. The money has been made up by local people who hate that this happened–and who don’t plan on shopping at the Norton, VA Walmart any more. The security tape has been appropriated by the police, who are investigating the theft.

And the raffle is going forward. This is Buddy, our cleaning lady Heather’s dog. Buddy is from IHH, and Elissa found him for Heather. He’s really quite something, as you can see. Buddy

If you’re not in the area but would like to participate in the raffle, send a $5 check per ticket and the name and contact details for the person you want the ticket for. The iPad will be raffled once 450 tickets are sold. I think they were at 220 when the theft occurred. You can send raffle purchases here to the bookstore, and we’ll hold your half of the stub here. We’ll notify everyone of the winner by blog, and Hope will get her cart. And, hopefully, Walmart will get a clue.

The address is Tales of the Lonesome Pine Used Books, 404 Clinton Ave E, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219. Thanks, y’all.

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Filed under small town USA, Uncategorized, VA