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.