Sunday, October 3, 2010


So, here's the situation. There have been things going on, both in my head and actual events, that certain friends and family might possibly find interesting . . . if only I could force fingers to keyboard & post about them. But I seem to be having a spell. It's not writer's block. I can think of all sorts of things to write about - BS's new job, Team Hoyt, Brandon & the Blacksburg trip, the St. Mary's record-breaking 5k, my overall dissatisfaction with life in general. It's a motivation thing. I can't seem to squeeze out the effort to push the "Publish Post" button. Sometimes I don't even want to check on my friends' blogs, and when I do, I can't muster the energy to comment. It's all kind of a big blah.

So, that's why there hasn't been anything up here in a few weeks. I keep thinking about why I started writing this blog in the first place. Haven't been totally successful in those lofty goals, so what do I want to do with this thing? When I figure it out, I guess I'll hit "Publish Post" with some enthusiasm. Until then, the button will get pushed to post this, but I guarantee I'll do it with blah blah blahiness.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Finding Family

I have a boatload of cousins -
first cousins on my father's side.
The kids of my dad's brother & sisters.
Problem is, I don't know most of 'em.
Never met 'em.
Wouldn't know 'em if I hit 'em with the car.

That started to change a few years ago.
I got to meet the Texas bunch & now I love 'em more than my luggage.
(movie reference. I know Sista G knows...)

Last weekend I got some more.

Even though we were strangers,
we have a shared history and heritage that somehow takes away the strangeness.
You are oddly comfortable with them.
Especially if one of them has your grandmother's nose.
Family is funny that way.

Okay, okay, we're friends on Facebook, but still . . .

It turns out that Cousin K lives in the DC area kinda near BS,
who I went to visit last weekend.
And even though any weekend spent with my li'l spawn is a good weekend,
meeting Cousin K & Husband A made it even better.

We started out at Ray's Hell Burger, Obama's favorite hamburgers.

I must say, they were very tasty.
And if you don't like them, you can . . .

We ended up driving out to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
at the confluence of the Potomac & Shenandoah Rivers, site of John Brown's raid in 1859.

From Wiki:
"In 1750 Robert Harper was given a patent on 125 acres (0.5 km²) at the present location of the town. In 1761 Harper established a ferry across the Potomac River, making the town a starting point for settlers moving into the Shenandoah Valley and further west. In 1763 the Virginia General Assembly established the town of "Shenandoah Falls at Mr. Harper's Ferry"... Thomas Jefferson called the site "perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature."

This view from Wiki shows the town in 1865.

If you look at Google Earth, this is what you see.

You can see the 2 train trestles diverging as they come out of the mountain,
at the right of the image.
one turning northward to follow the Potomac
and the other following the Shenandoah to westward.

Just where the 2 rivers come together, you can see 5 piles of something in the water.

Those are the original train trestles, as seen in the 1865 picture.
This is what they look like today.

Harpers Ferry has been the site of some devastating floods throughout the centuries.
You Tube has some videos of the 1985 flood.
The Harpers Ferry coverage in this one starts at 1:12.

Some other pictures of the area, which is just dripping with history.
The levels in the rivers were kind of low, inviting swimmers & waders.
It is also a popular spot . . .

Oh look, a spider web on the train bridge . . .

Sorry, a touch of ADD.

Anyway, it is a popular spot for rafting and tubing,
although I imagine it would be a bit more exciting if there was, oh I don't know,
enough WATER to make some rapids.

Darn, too early for the war.

The next day, BS & I headed for a newer attraction in the area, National Harbor.
It's just across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (on I95) in Maryland, right on the river.
It was FULL of Hokies because of the game with Boise State at Fed Ex Field,
which we LOST!
It also looked like money,
and it was full of places wanting you to part with too much of yours.
BS & I chose this place to eat because of my brother's love of ketchup.
There are only 3 in the world - LA, Saudi Arabia & Maryland.

Now, I'm not normally much of a wine drinker.
Wait. Back up. I'm hardly ever a wine drinker,
but this place had a white wine sangria that was heavenly. Fabulous. Sweet.
Look at it.

Oops, sorry, I already drank it.
The sweet potato fries were lightly sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar
and served with their signature '5 ketchups' - ranch, chipotle, maple, mango & raspberry.
Sweet potato fries dipped in maple ketchup. Raspberry & chipotle mixed.
Oh my.

The interior decor was ugly so we ate outside, but the food was very good.
Beautiful clear breezy day, not too hot.
A thirsty fly found its way into BS's empty sangria glass.
He didn't make it out alive.

A terrific weekend.
I think the cousins had a good time,
especially seeing as they didn't know us from Adam.
(HAHA - inside joke)
Husband A said he was afraid he might be stuck with douchbags all day,
or something like that.
Wait, he didn't really say we weren't douchbags, did he? Hmmm . . .

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Much Ado....

Photo by Sun Realty Outer Banks Vacation Rentals

Whalebone Surf Shop is an Outer Banks business in Nags Head, NC.

Anytime the wind blows, the OBX sees the invasion of stern-faced storm reporters
in their fleets of satellite trucks,
risking life, limb, hair & makeup to stand in the wind & rain & floods,
sacrificing themselves to the greater glory of 24-hour storm coverage,
running down the locals who decide to ride it out for gripping person-on-the-street interviews.

"So Bob, why did you decide to stay instead of evacuating? Aren't you afraid?"

"Wellsir, we went to the Food Lion and got us some batteries and beer. Anyways, my house ain't never been blown over by a hurricane yet, so I 'spect it'll be okay. 'Sides, I'd rather stay in my own house than be stuck in the high school gym with a couple hundred smelly people and no TV."

"But Bob, I don't think you'll have TV either.
Excuse me ma'am, how 'bout you, are you going to stay?"

"Why, of course! Our little dogs just hate riding in the car."

Ad nauseum.

Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel has perfected this particular art form.
He is the master.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Day In The Life . . .

Chris Tyree, an incredibly gifted photographer, came to St. Mary's last week for a day.
Just one day.
(He has been here before.)
Mind you, this was not just someone taking snapshots.
He has a gift. He is an artist.
His pictures are gorgeous - the angles, the light.
I'm a little jealous. I've never made our kids look so beautiful.
He captured the goings on in the Home,
and a surprising number of the pictures were NOT posed.
They were serendipity.
He showed nothing that doesn't occur there during an ordinary day.
Any day.
Every day.
These pictures show our kids as any other kids -
pensive, happy, engaged, active, busy, having fun.
With people they love and that love them.
They are our family.

Chris, thank you for capturing that so well.

Chris works with a group that focuses on capturing images of & for non-profits.
Hopefully, the pictures will shine light on the good work
that goes on all around us, sometimes unknown & unseen.
They bring those lights out from under the bushel.
Their website isn't finished yet, but when it is up, I will link it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Greatest Television Of All Time

Boy, isn't that a grandiose statement, especially considering this will be solely my own opinion.

I got an email from my brother tonight with a link to an article written by a his friend Tom. It was Tom's opinion of the 10 greatest television shows of all time. I read it. I disagreed. Too many of his shows were modern series on the premium movie channels, shows that aren't available for all to watch. This can't help but lessen their impact.

Brother M responded with one of his own. I read his. I disagreed.

Maybe my definition of "greatest" isn't the same. Anyway, I complied my own list. I am of the first generation (I think) that was raised on television, so I remember the groundbreakers - those shows that set the stage for those that would follow in their footsteps, the rule breakers - the ones that changed the social climate, and the ones whose impact has become indelibly ingrained in American culture. Oh, and I couldn't limit myself to 10.

These aren't necessarily my favorites. They are included because of the scope of their influence on culture and the impact they had on the television as a medium. In my opinion.

So, in alphabetical order . . .

ALL IN THE FAMILY didn't care whose toes it stepped on. It slapped racial, ethnic & political issues right in our faces without worrying about political correctness. It took a sitcom about a bigot that tackled issues previously taboo on TV and made it one of the most popular and successful shows of all time.

COSMOS is one that was on my brother's list, and I have to agree with him on this one. Never before had hard science been so entertaining. I could still watch it over and over, even though some of the information has been supplanted by newer discoveries. I don't know that I ever saw the stars the same since. All billions and billions of them. But I like Brother M's rationale for its inclusion much better: "...Carl Sagan’s exploration of the elegance of the universe was more than the typical Discovery Channel show about killer asteroids. It was a sweeping documentary of what it means to be a curious animal endowed with the creative spark and covered literally everything from the evolution of the brain and the destruction of the ancient library of Alexandria to the discovery of the twin paradox and conjectures about the beginnings of space-time. Plus, if you watch Cosmos, you’ll understand a lot more of The Big Bang Theory."

DALLAS gave the primetime soap a perment place on television, paving the way for all those shows on Tom's list. Even though Peyton Place was the prototype here, it never attained the cult following Dallas did. I still remember the summer of agony waiting to find out who shot JR.

HILL STREET BLUES / ST. ELSEWHERE are lumped together for a couple reasons. They were on at the same time and accomplished the same task. They ushered in the ensemble cast (now copied by just about EVERYONE), and showed the cops and doctors not as clean, shiny heros, but as fault-filled humans who were sometimes heroic and sometimes failed.

I LOVE LUCY broke the ground of television comedy. It was, at various times in its run, the most watched program on television. It was the first to be shot in front of a studio audience and consistently earns a place in greatest TV lists from both TV Guide & Time Magazine. It was also the first show to feature a "biracial" couple - a 'white' woman with a 'brown' man. It was, simply, the prototype of television comedy.

LEAVE IT TO BEAVER gave us the quintessential, yet impossible to live up to and completely unattainable, definition of the all-American family of the 50's. It became the image of the ideal life and set the tone for so many ideal family shows to follow. I wanted to live there.

M*A*S*H let us see the horror of war in prime time. It was the first program to regularly have us laughing and crying at the same time, often every week, and no one can dispute the anti-war messages it delivered so well.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE has never cared who it poked fun at, and the biggest names in TV, movies, and politics have gamely gone along with the skewering. It was the first of the non-prime time shows to come back on the air after 9-11 and show us that we were allowed to laugh again. It has also launched more successful careers than just about any other show.

SEINFELD added a whole lot of entries to our lexicon of catch phrases and terminology. Who doesn't know "Yadda, yadda, yadda", "Not that there's anything wrong with that", "Master of my domain", "No soup for you!"? For a show about nothing, it became a whole lotta something.

SESAME STREET let the classroom into the living room and became the babysitter of generations of kids while setting the standard for educational programming. Its fuzzy puppets with their distinctive personalities have been part of every American household since. It debuted in 1969, meaning that it has been bringing smiles to our kids for 41 years, making it the longest-running program on television aside from news shows and soap operas (I think). Not even the death of Jim Henson could stop it, and it has the distinction of being the most widely watched children's program in the world. And no, the Cookie Monster will never be replaced with the Veggie Monster.

STAR TREK broke so much ground I can't begin to list it all. Not only that, it also set the stage for countless spin-offs and movies. It is undoubtedly one of the most successful franchises of all time. And let's not forget the first interracial kiss on television.

THE DAILY SHOW is another one that doesn't care who it makes fun of. But aside from that, it is done with so much intelligence that politicians regularly pop in to try to curry favor and ask for Jon Stewart's opinion. What other fake news/comedy show can claim that?

THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW was the first to really focus on a successful single woman. There were no husband & kids to define her character, and the program centered around her job, not her family or her hobbies or her boyfriends. Probably the first real feminist program.

THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW took a chubby black woman and turned her into one of the richest and most influential people in television. She paved the way for countless knockoffs, none of which could match up. If Oprah endorses it, it sells. Period.

THE SIMPSONS always surprises me when I realize how long it has been on the air - since 1987. It successfully skewers aspects of American society, some of which we are a little uncomfortable admitting hit a little too close to home.

THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JOHNNY CARSON didn't start it. Jack Paar was the first host, but Johnny Carson became the face of the Tonight Show and he left a whole lot more people with a whole lot more memories during his tenure than his predecessor or his successors. He paved the way for the successes of Letterman, Leno, and Conan.

So, that's my dashed-off list. No doubt tomorrow I'll want to add or delete or change the wording and make it sound as good as Brother M's, but if I keep thinking about it too much, I'll never finish. What would you add or delete?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Another Cloudy Sunrise

Found this in my drafts. It's from June. Forgot to post it. Oops.

Whenever my old friend RAD is in town for some family business (or monkey business),
he'll call and see if I want to get up before the crack of dawn and go take pictures of the sunrise.
10 years ago, I would have told him to take a hike, but as I become older and more decrepit,
it's getting easier to get up early. Huh?

We've done this before when it was cloudy and not particularly colorful,
although there's nothing like a deserted beach all to yourself.
And son of a gun, we had an encore of cloudy. The pictures were completely uninteresting.
Even the sea oats were bare and dead looking. I think this is the best of the bunch.

Anyway, he made some whiny noises about broken promises of muffins
the last time he was here, so I dragged out the bowls & muffin tins & my finest groceries.
Had to shut him up about it (just kidding RAD).
No, really, it was my pleasure.

First were some peanut butter, banana & chocolate chip muffins.
I had some nice bananas,

some nice whole wheat flour,

and chocolate chips.

They turned out very well, considering. At least he said they were good.

I also decided to make some cheesecake muffins . . .

. . . with a dollop of strawberry jam in the center.

I think I liked those the best.