2016, an update in video clips

I posted earlier about my effort to document a second of each day to make a video of it. I’ve  still been doing that. March was kind of thin, though. I forgot more often than not. I’ll going to make more of an effort this month.

Also, I think iMovie hates me for all of the tiny clips I keep giving it. It’s getting hard to deal with.

But anyway, here are clips from the three months of my year.



The picture

Note: Found this in my drafts recently. It made me thankful for water under burned bridges. 

Deciding the pieces were not small enough, I picked up your picture from the gravel-covered ground and began to tear again — limb from limb, head from body, clothing from flesh.

It felt good to make you smaller, if only a paper you.

(Dog) funeral blues

I answered the phone in a tone that sounded more frustrated, angry, than I had intended. It was 10 till  9 on a Friday morning and I was late for work. She caught me in the bathroom trying to run a straightener through my unruly hair in an attempt to look like less of a total mess.

“Hey, are you busy?” My mom had asked. “Yes. What?!” I had snapped.

“I  just called to let you know we’re taking Maggie to the clinic on Tuesday.”

I immediately regretted my response. I’d been waiting for this call. It wasn’t that she was taking our 9-year-old golden retriever/lab mix dog for a vet appointment, it was about what would happen there.

Maggie had been sick for a while and we were nearing the end. A tumor on her throat had grown to the size of an orange, something her sandy blond fur made it difficult to see. It was easier to notice with your ears. The tumor made it hard for her to eat or drink. Each time she tried she went into a coughing fit.

I hung up the phone and made plans to be in Kentucky Monday, Maggie’s final day.

Everyone says this about their pets but she really was the best dog. She was good with kids — even with three  little girls clamoring around and sometimes catching rides on her back.

She used to visit me in Charleston on weekends sometimes. She got along with my jerk cats. She won over my coworkers, who gave her cheese fries and  belly scratches. I don’t think she met anyone she didn’t like.

She loved you, too. It doesn’t matter that you never met her.

That night my parents and I kept a strange and modern death vigil — me with my laptop, headphones and the new season of House of Cards camped out next to a blanket on the floor where Maggie rested. Mom and dad sat near by, watching TV.

I went to bed, but Mom couldn’t stand the thought of Maggie alone like this. She slept on the couch by her. It wasn’t the first time she’d done it,  but it would be the last.

There’s nothing like a dog’s love. We should all be so lucky to experience it, a friend posted on my Facebook the other day. And I can’t stop thinking about the truth of that.

Our love was mutual and not complicated. I never had to earn it.

When I arrived in Ashland Monday afternoon, she didn’t ask me where I’d been.  I went to see her in the hallway where she slept behind a baby gate, separated from my little nieces, who were visiting.

“Hey girl,” I said. She perked up a little at my voice. That stump tail of hers began to wag. So I laid down beside her, ran my fingers through her fur a little. She lifted her leg, an invitation to scratch her belly that I accepted.

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The next morning, Mom and I loaded her into the back of their SUV, picked up my dad from the office on the way into town.

Getting out of the car, I couldn’t bear to put a leash on her — I don’t know how much pain the tumor gave her. Instead I lead her through the parking to the clinic without it.

It felt a little strange, taking her in past the other dogs in the waiting room. One owner made a comment that I can’t quite recall,  something about her own dog looking like Maggie when it gets older. And I wondered if she saw the tears that streamed down our faces — by then we’d stopped trying to disguise them.

The vet tech explained things to us in calm, compassionate tones.

No, she won’t feel anything. Yes, it will be quick, probably even before the injection is done. Yes, you can pet her while it happens. 

They lift her onto the table and before long Maggie has drifted off.

“I don’t know how you all do this everyday,” I say to the vet and vet tech after everything is over. You have to think of it as helping them, she says, and I know she’s right.

Taking her into that vet’s office was the last loving thing we could have done for her.

All you can do with a love like that is return it, and hope you’ve done right by it.

January in (roughly) 30 seconds

I’m doing this thing this year where I record one second of my day (mostly) everyday and I’m editing it together to make a video of the year. I shoot video on my iPhone at random, mostly, so they’re not particularly special moments. They’re just regular moments.

And sometimes I forget until right before I go to sleep so I end up taking another cat video. I saw the idea from a New York Times reporter. I’d like to think recording a second from my day will push me to do interesting or fun things so the video turns out better. (Not sure that’s happened yet but we’ll see).

Anyway, here’s January.


When the president comes to town

Being a reporter has afforded me lots of interesting opportunities over the past few years, but none so cool as sitting in a community center gymnasium in my hometown while the president of the United States spoke.

President Obama visited Charleston for a few hours earlier this week to address the state’s opioid epidemic.

I found out about the visit last Wednesday and was sworn to secrecy for 9 whole hours before we published the story. (Longest hours of my life. BTW, your friends won’t like it if you tell them you have a secret but you can’t tell them what it is).

I looked forward to sharing the news all day, and when I finally posted the story, I was disappointed in the comments that people were making. I’m not sure why I was expecting anything different, but some of the comments were just hateful.

President Obama and his politics are divisive topics in West Virginia, but if anything should unite us, it’s the problem of drug abuse, which has killed thousands of West Virginians over the past few years. And regardless of your political leanings, the man was elected to the highest office in the country. He deserves respect.

The day of the event, I and scores of other journalists got to the event a couple hours early to go through security. Part of my job that day was to live tweet the president’s speech. I nearly had a heart attack when my cellphone battery died. Luckily a couple reporters let me borrow their chargers (it happened twice).

(Note to self: bring one with you next time.)

Anyway, if you’re interested in reading about the event, check out our coverage herehere and here.

Here are a few grainy (sorry) pictures from the event.

President Barack Obama speaks to a crowd in Charleston earlier this week.

“Country Roads” played over the speaker as Obama left the building.

This guy was holding a sign welcoming the president to West Virginia. Others weren’t as friendly.

Obama greets guests at the East End Family Resource Center Wednesday.

The little gym at the East End Family Resource Center looks a lot grander all dressed up for the president.

This was the line for the media to go through security and receive or press badges.

An update in pictures

I’ve not made time to write for myself lately and that’s a shame because I love to write. But here are a few happenings.

The garden plot is full of tomatoes and it’s great.

Just waiting for them to ripen.

My cats are still jerks.

Summer is in full swing as evidenced by these blackberries.

Summer is also the best time to live in Charleston.

One reason for that is we have a lot of fireworks, like these from the Fourth of July.

I’m working on a lot of freelance stuff from home to make some extra cash.

OK the cats can be cute sometimes when they’re not being jerks.

I’m dreaming of building my own tiny house and living somewhere where the cats can run free outside. (Photo credit Tammy – Weekend with Dee.)

Also currently: reading “Eat, pray, love,” and saving money for my own journey someday soon. Send me travel ideas if you want.

What I’m into: April/May


My niece looks out the window during a trip through Cades Cove in Tennessee.

For anyone who’s interested, here’s what I’ve been digging lately:

What I’m reading:

I’ve been making an effort to read outside of work more, so it’s a good thing there have been some great book releases lately.

“Wearing God” by Lauren Winner: I’ve been a fan of Lauren since I read her memoir “Girl meets God” (which I can’t recommend enough). In “Wearing God,” Lauren writes about the biblical metaphors for God including the familiar ones of bread and wine and fire and ones given less attention including a woman giving birth. It’s a good read.

“Do Over” by Jon Acuff: Definitely the best career book I’ve ever read. I will more than likely give this one out as graduation gifts and to anyone experiencing a “career bump” or looking to better their situations. Acuff’s book is good even if you’re happy with your current job but want to invest in your career.

“Searching for Sunday” by Rachel Held Evans:  Rachel is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. That’s mainly because of how well she writes but partly because we seem to have had similar stories in the church. Both of us grew up as evangelicals, doubted and have ultimately stuck with Christianity (although not the faith of our youths). Searching for Sunday is for anyone who’s had to answer the question, “With everything the church gets wrong, why are you still a Christian?”

Looking forward to reading “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson and “Minimalism: Live a meaningful life” by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus.

What I’m doing:

Learning to garden: As I mentioned here before, a friend and I rented a plot in the local community garden and I’m really excited to start to plant things soon. So far we’ve just weeded it out and we’re getting ready to plant soon.

The garden plot is ready to grow things.

Visiting Tennessee with my family: Just got back from a week-long trip to Pigeon Forge with my family. We saw the aquarium, we hiked, and we saw Cades Cove, an old Indian hunting ground turned settlement after the Trail of Tears. We hoped to see bears, but just missed seeing a mother bear and two cubs. A bunch of cars had pulled off the road to get a peek of them, but they were gone when we rolled by.

Hiking Chimney Tops was two miles straight up the mountain, which I found difficult. The view was nice, though.

It was great seeing my family, too. It’s rare to get a solid week with all of us in the same place.

One of the many beautiful streams in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

My family explores an old cabin.

An old church in Cades Cove, Tennessee.


The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee on a rainy day in late April 2015.

What I’m watching: 

Not enough Mad Men. I’m a couple episodes behind and that stinks.

Mountain Monsters: I was also introduced to the beauty that is Mountain Monsters this week while on vacation. I really can’t tell if it’s intentional, but that show is hilarious. It stars a crew of Appalachian men who travel to different areas searching for Big Foot — only these guys, remarkably, actually always find him. I’m only half joking when I say it could be the best thing on TV.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie “True Story” as soon as it comes to Charleston. I love journalism movies.

What I’m listening to:


Joe Pug’s new album “Windfall.”

Sufjan Stevens’ new album “Carrie & Lowell.” Love, love, love.

Also I’m stuck on a Lecrae’s song “Messengers,” and Sufjan’s song “John Wayne Gacy.” The latter my brother and his wife turned me onto this past week.  It’s hauntingly beautiful and sad.  I can’t getting this line out of my head: “And on my best behavior, I am really just like him. Look beneath the floorboards for the secrets I have hid.”

Podcasts: The Liturgists, the Robcast, Grammar Girl, Story Corps, That God Show.


Lately I’ve been into reading about minimalism and tiny houses. I’m looking to sell off a bunch of stuff I don’t need and live more simply.

What are you into?