Monthly Archives: March 2014

~ Smokin’ Guns and Hot Dogs ~

I’ve been begging My Captain to take me away for a day or two….to take me on some adventure that didn’t include laundry or dishes or the same four walls of the little cottage.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my little cottage in the woods and am deeply grateful for it, but it’s been a long, cold, white winter and I need a change of venue to straighten my perspective.

I’m married to a good listener.  If there is one thing my Beloved can do, it’s fix things.  So yesterday, having heard my plea for a change of pace, he drove me three hours to Kingwood, West-By-God-Virginia.

In the rain and sleet.

Why?  Why did he take me to Kingwood?  Was there a romantic restaurant or Inn there?  Did he have some creative date planned for me?  What was up this guy’s sleeve?  I envisioned roses, chocolate, soft music, perhaps champagne.  Whatever the reason, I just knew it would be beyond my expectations.

Turns out,  I was off by a little.  We went there for…..


Guns, and all-you-can-eat smoked meat, to be exact.

Apparently My Captain’s best friend, Ty, was helping to run the gun raffle for his In-Laws’ Ambulance Company’s fundraiser.

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My Captain, being the quintessential pragmatist, and expert in efficiency, decided to kill three birds with one stone, and take me there for a surprise change of scenery while simultaneously supporting his old friend, and supporting a good cause.

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I was right.  It was different than anything I may have expected.

We were there for 6 hours.  Six. Long. Hours.

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(Which was nothing to Ty’s poor daughter, Nicole’s time there.  She’d ended up waiting for her dad for nearly 10 hours! Nicole, who had never shot a gun before in her life! Now THAT is a supportive daughter!)

Six hours of guns, and more guns, and more guns.  If it had not been for meeting Ty’s fabulous in-laws, and the fantastic smoked (as in, cooked IN a smoker!) hot dogs which were, Get This, FREE, I’d have been disappointed. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I like a raffle as much as the next guy, but guns are not the thing that floats Mama’s boat.  Had he taken me to a gourmet kitchen tool raffle, THEN we’d be on to something.  But guns are more my Beloved’s arena.

My Captain knew what he was doing, though.  He distracted me with the all-you-can-eat smoky, salty deliciousness all day, he got to drool over different kinds of firearms, Ty felt supported by friends, and Ty’s in-laws made money for their ambulance company.  Sure, it rated low on the romance scale, but we DID get to spend 6 hours alone together in the car listening to Blue Collar Radio on XM, and laughed and laughed and laughed.

(and farted.)

But that’s another story, altogether.




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~ What Kids Really Need ~

I took Varmint and Critter to see the movie Mr. Peabody and Sherman a couple of days ago, then afterwards stopped at My Captain’s fire station to visit.  We hadn’t been there long before the munchkins, who were fired up after eating precisely 5.356 pounds of gummy bears, each, during the movie, began to be raaawwwwthar annoying.  You know…..

“I’m not touching you!”

“Quit it!”

“I’m not touching you!”

“Quit it!”

“I’m still not touching you!”

“Mom! Tell him to stop!”

“Critter, stop it.”

“Mom! I never touched her!”

That kind of thing.  I was tired by that time of the day, and wasn’t in the mood to deal with it well.  I begged the guys on the shift to help corral the brats.

One of My Captain’s Shift’s Master Firefighters, Craig, has kids of his own, and knew exactly what to do.  He walked into the office, and said, “All right, kids, time to wash the truck.” And then he turned and strode confidently to the engine bay, without looking back, as if there were no question that his order would be followed.

Both kids looked at me, perplexed.

“Well, Go On!” I nodded.

They whined and griped, but reluctantly followed him.

I waited a couple of minutes…just enough to let Craig get them started, then snuck into the bay to catch this on film.

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They spotted me and glared at me.

I snickered.

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“This is so unfair!” one muttered.

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“We’re not even getting paid.” one whined.

Craig chuckled and pointed out spots they missed.

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And he kept them at it until it was done.

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And then, something wonderful happened.  Halfway through, the whining stopped.  You could see my brats start to take pride in how clean the truck was.

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Some of the other guys on the shift stopped and watched.  You could tell the kids knew they were being observed, and made a show of putting extra elbow grease in.

It was attention, for the right reasons:  They were helping.  Being productive.  Being selfless.  They felt like a part of the team, like their efforts mattered.

And they were proud of it.

THAT is what kids need.  They don’t need more toys or channels, or more Ipods and x-boxes.  They need to be put to work, so they can prove to themselves that they matter, and what they do matters.  You can tell them until you are blue in the face that it’s not what they say in life, but what they do that makes them, but until they actually do, DO, it can’t really register.

Master Firefighter Craig has several kids of his own….he knew what he was doing.  This wasn’t his first rodeo!  He turned their negative behavior around…morphed it into positive, self-image-building work, and, quite possibly saved their lives in the process.

Thanks, Craig!

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~ You Need To Know Why You Are Standing ~

I was at our little town’s High School Basketball games a few weeks ago.   Yessirree, I actually got out of the house, free as a jaybird for one glorious evening!  Out to cheer during a fun game of local sports, and then maybe share a meal with good friends and family at Bassett’s Restaurant afterwards.

I love the corny, campiness of an evening like that.  Maybe it’s the time of life I’m in. Maybe it’s the fact that I appreciate the Mayberry, old-fashioned Americana in which we are lucky enough to live.  Maybe I’m just an uninspired, lack-luster dork.  Any or all of those are possible, but whatever the reason, I was in heaven.

The game was fairly well-attended; the bleachers 75% filled.  The PA turned on with a pop and crackle, and all were asked to rise for our National Anthem.

This is where the trouble started.

I was near the top of the bleachers, and a few rows down from me were some high-school aged, good looking young men.  A group of them, sans parents.   They were eating pizza and laughing amongst themselves, enjoying the evening much like I was.  When the announcement for the National Anthem came, and everyone stood up, the young men eventually did so, but one young man didn’t put his pizza down, and another continued to talk to his friend, with his back turned to the flag.

Now, you see, I have a family history rich in patriotism.  One of my brothers attended the Naval Academy and became a Navy pilot.  My father paid a brief stint in the army in the ‘50’s.  My step-father was a colonel and retired in the ‘80’s.  I have ancestors listed in nearly every war going back to the French and Indian War. What I’m saying is that my family has paid its dues to keep our nation together.  Our freedom was won partly on the backs of people whose very blood courses through me and my children.

So facing the flag respectfully with your hand on your heart during the National Anthem?  Taking an ever-so-short moment out of your day to consider the people who died so that you can enjoy a campy evening of high school basketball unhindered by communism or socialism, or any other ‘ism that would come and take our hard won freedom…..yeah, it’s a big deal to me.

I didn’t clear my throat.  I didn’t give a polite “Ah-hem.”  I leaned forward on my newly-built knee, snapped my fingers in front of their faces, and jerked an angry, pointed finger at the flag.  The two, who had the courage to look back at me, received a most disconcerting stink-eye, not only from me, but from every ancestor who sacrificed, or ultimately died for that flag, and everything that it stands for.  I could just imagine the hurt those dead men and women would feel, having been forgotten so quickly, having been rendered irrelevant, for even the mere moment of a song, by children who live in the very spoils of their past battles.  Friends, I was peeved.

Critter witnessed the whole, and asked me why I had done that.  I looked at him with an “Et Tu, Brute?!” incredulousness, and his innocent eyebrows told me all I needed to learn about my own shortcomings.

Those boys could not respect the depth of meaning of that flag and its anthem because obviously no one had told them everything that went into it, past a textbook story.  My son could easily have been one of those young men, had that exact moment not shown me my own negligence in teaching him about our family’s sacrifices, our country’s sacrifices.  My son could have been the kid noisily chewing the pizza during that quiet minute of selfless respect we are asked to take out of our day.

Holy Crap.

We talked.  I tried to draw a picture of life as it could have been for him. I attempted to illustrate life as it is today in other, less fortunate countries.  I tried to tell a story of sacrifice and the gift of freedom paid for with blood, or health, or ultimate happiness.  How do you tell this to an 11-year-old boy during a basketball game?

You can’t.

So when I started to lose him, I gave up and concluded with, “…and if I EVER see you not take your hat off, or not put your hand on your heart, or eat pizza when the anthem is being played, so help me God…..” because as any good parent, we default to the unfinished threat.

Obviously, my son has the movie “The Last Of The Mohicans” in his near future, and maybe an evening sitting on the couch with his Grandma Jane going through the 200-year-old family bible.

And the next time that anthem is played, by golly, he’ll know WHY he is standing.

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~ Doh! ~

It was in the 60’s this past weekend….for the first time in just about forever!  (Or three months.)

The sun was out!  My arthritic knee has been totally replaced!!  Baby, we were going on a walk!  (Is it alright if I call you Baby?)

My Captain was working, you guessed it, overtime.  We had to buy replacement windows for the Little Cottage, AND we had to buy a new mattress, AND both of our vehicle’s windshields are cracked.  It was either he worked overtime, or we sold a kid, or I started pole-dancing.

We weighed our pros and cons.  But we couldn’t decide which kid we’d sell, and the whole pole-dancing thing didn’t work out for me.  Turns out I’m vertically challenged.  All I could do was swing circles around the bottom like some kind of over stuffed, garlic-scented tether ball.

So My Captain shrugged his shoulders, and, like a trooper, signed up for overtime, leaving the three of us to hit the wilds of suburban Maryland on our own.

Having just recently vacuumed the car, I admonished the kids to ‘keep it clean back there!’ as I packed them in, and off we went to the Great Falls at the C & O Canal National Park.  This part of the Potomac River is rocky whitewater gorgeousness on any normal day, but add weeks worth of massive snow melt, and you have a hell of a show.  Believe me, as a former (kayak) paddler, I wanted to see the flow!

We paid our park fee, wrestled 80,000 other people for one of the two available parking spots that were left, and set out to the falls.

After a good distance of hoofing it, we came upon this.  There was NO way around it.  My brain immediately went back to my newly vacuumed car floor.  ACK.

Hey Kids, waaaaaaiiiiit!


What, mom?



Uh, never mind.  ***sigh***


I was right, though.  The flow was amazing over the falls.  And I even got a cheese-ball, fake-smiley picture out of it from my munchkins.


But I’m not going to bother to vacuum the car out again until July.

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~ Zee French Sweets ~

So my friend Jeff travels a lot.  As in all the time.  He is always posting pictures of himself on Facebook at cafes around the world.  Were it not for the fact that he is posting pictures of himself on Facebook all over the world, I would suspect he’s an American version of James Bond.  I can’t picture James Bond posting selfies.

Frankly, I have no idea what the man does for a living, other than drink dark espresso in postcard perfect venues.  Can you make a living doing that?  How did I miss that boat?

Recently he posted that he was on his way to Paris.  Then he posted several pictures in Paris.  Then he posted that due to weather in the U.S., he was stuck in Paris.

I sent him a snarky comment that I’d better see some French Chocolate when he comes home as recompense for teasing us all thusly.  Or maybe I begged.  I can’t remember.

I was kidding.

But then he sent me this:


That is a gift bag he’d left at our firehouse.  In it I would find this:

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In an Eiffel Tower tin, no less.

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Lovingly wrapped in gold-foiled hearts.

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Stuffed with chocolate-hazelnut ganache.

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At this point, I don’t give a rat’s butt what Jeff does for a living.  I’m just glad he does it.

And I’m glad he shares!

Thank you so much, Jeff!  C’est Manifique!

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