Monthly Archives: July 2015

~ Watch Your Butt! ~

A couple of weeks ago, My Captain’s shift was called out for a fire that had broken out on the back deck of someone’s townhouse.

When the firefighters got to the scene, the fire was already extending into the house! Luckily, they were able to knock it down pretty quickly, and thankfully, no one was hurt.

The same can’t be said for the deck!

2015-07-20 14.07.13

My Captain’s shift threw water on the fire from the bottom, then they took the deck stairs and hit it from the top and when they could better get into it, they began to tear apart the burning elements. In other words, they had to take the deck apart!  They call this a “overhaul,” the purpose of which is to find where the fire might still be burning or smoldering and completely extinguish it.

One thing a firefighter hates is getting RE-called to a fire they already went to put out.  It looks bad (ie, is embarrassing as hell) for the crew, it causes more damage, and worst of all, it leads to unlimited poking from other firehouses.

2015-07-20 13.19.07

Before the crew could put much more of their weight on the deck, they had to shore up and stabilize it, It had already been weakened by age and generally poor construction, and was made worse by the fire! Good thing the firehouse that happens to serve that townhouse houses a special ops/collapse rescue team!

My Captain would take no chances with hurting any of his men.  The fire had burned through structural members that served as connection points to the townhouse, and there were bent, or seriously compromised joist hangers…which are important if something is going to bear any weight!  So Gravy (remember him?  From ~ Something is Burning ~) tightened up some struts at key load points under the deck to support the weight of the deck and the several firefighters working on it.


Then they needed to figure out what caused the fire, as it isn’t always immediately obvious.  This is Andy, he is one of the County Fire Investigators whose job it is to determine the cause of the fire.

My Captain and Andy began interviewing the occupants of the townhouse.  At first, the residents said they didn’t know what happened, but that didn’t add up to My Captain, and under further pressing by Andy, they eventually admitted that they had been smoking and threw their butt out onto the deck.

Side note: My Captain is very good at cutting through the crap. In the early 90’s, he was a gun-toting Fire  Investigator himself, and he put many an arsonist in the slammer.  Our kids have learned that you might as well confess your sins to My Captain in the beginning, because he will grill you until you crack.  He smells a guilty conscience a miles away.  He doesn’t miss a beat.  It’s his dark, brooding eyes that I swear could slice a person in two.  I think it’s sexy. Critter and Varmint, (and the odd arsonist), not so much.

Back to the Fire: With the one-two punch of questioning between My Captain and Andy, they now had an admission and knew for certain what caused the fire.  Andy agreed it fit with the evidence in his findings.

2015-07-20 13.43.50

The occupant had discarded their finished cigarette onto the deck and went back inside, leaving it to smoulder on the wood.  The air conditioning unit below was running on high, and so forcing air up through the deck, which  fanned the flames.  The heat from the blaze got so high it shattered the sliding glass door.  It melted the siding.  It burned into the house and creeped in between the floor joists.

You want to know what else throwing a seemingly harmless cigarette butt onto a deck can lead to?

2015-07-20 14.07.26

Homemade skylights.

This picture is from the basement looking up after the guys had to hack into the floor and ceiling to chase the fire.  All of this from one tiny little butt.

The good news is that no one was hurt.  The bad news is that this family now needs a new deck, a new kitchen floor, and new basement ceiling, and likely a new A/C unit….for starters.

Oh….and an ash tray.

The moral of the story….if you don’t want to see Gravy, and Andy, and My Captain and the rest of his crew at your doorstep, axes and pike poles in hand, watch your butt!

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

~ Banana Spider Horrification ~

New word for the day:  Horrification.

What is it?

The feeling that consumes you when your father-in-law, who has gargantuan hands, holds up one of said hands to give perspective to the size of the freaking banana spider in his yard.

2015-07-23 17.26.39

What is a Banana Spider, you ask?   Go here for specifics.  First, and most importantly, they are NOT venomous (except for the Brazilian kind.)


Secondly, the female’s legs can exceed 5″ in length.  Oh dear God.

2015-07-23 17.26.39

Thirdly, they tend to put their webs (very pretty, which gives them their secondary name of “Golden Orb Spider”) at human eyelevel, which is fantastic for catching flying critters like bees and moths.  It’s also fantastic for encompassing your whole face when you’re walking around, just minding your own business.  When this happens, you will know you’ve been slated by the God’s to be punished for some reason.


When we took this picture, there were four males surrounding this particular female spider.   In case that one enormous insect wasn’t enough to give you complete and utter horrification.


Which brings us back to our word of the day.

Horrification:  The desire to run away hysterically while yelling unintelligible words and possibly peeing yourself a little bit.   Synonym:  the Willies.

To conclude:  Mama doesn’t like Banana Spiders.

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

~ Zookeeper’s Grilled Cheesus Ole ~

My friend Bonnie and her daughter Megan took me to brunch today.  Bonnie and her family are so much fun to hang with.   I bust a gut just about every time we’re together.  And at my girth, that’s saying something.

Bonnie is practically family.  She’s My Captain’s best friend’s sister, which makes her technically my sister twice removed. Or something like that.   I love her to death.  She was Critter and Varmint’s 3rd grade teacher.  They like her a lot more now that she doesn’t give them homework.

They took me to a restaurant called The Buzz, in Monrovia-where-the-hell-is-that-Maryland.  “You’ve GOT to try this!” was all she said about the place.

Friends, she was right.  I had a sandwich called The Zookeeper’s Grilled Cheesus Ole, and it lived up to its name.  Check this out:


This crazy concoction has goat cheese, cheddar cheese, and Provolone cheese, guacamole, bacon, and ‘ghetto lettuce’, which turned out to be Doritos.  I’m not kidding.  DORITOS nestled right up on in there.


Doritos IN my freaking sandwhich.

I ate every stinkin’ crumb.

(Please don’t tell my doctor.)

Buzz by The Buzz.  You can find directions and the menu HERE.



Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

~ Firehouse Feng Shui ~

I was sitting in My Captain’s office for a moment, having just delivered the shift a big ol’ pan of Icebox Peanutbutter Pie, waiting for My Captain to finish his email, and try said pie, when I noticed his desk.

2015-07-26 18.40.17

And I began to look harder at it.




What a piece of crap his desk is.  The man has put 28 years of service into Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, and his desk is a piece of broken down trash.

He doesn’t seem to notice it.  He’s got things to do.  Places to go.  People to save.

2015-07-26 18.41.13

Then I looked at Lt. Tom’s desk.  Its legs were totally rusted.

Then I got up, walked down the hall to the Watch Desk (where emergency information is received) and immediately noticed it was a little worn as well.


And chipped.


Of course Mr. Ward doesn’t notice it, because he’s got work to do, places to go, people to save, that kind of thing.

2015-07-26 18.41.56

And just outside the door into the engine bay is the shelving unit that holds things to be repaired.  It looks about as good as I feel some mornings.


What the heck, man?

And just down the hall in the kitchen, right smack dab in the middle of their eating area is this beautiful view.

0516151720aI found myself wondering why the county allows this station to fall to rack and ruin.  It’s bad enough ANY firemen would have to work in this kind of environment, but that the cream of the crop, the Special Ops team, should be housed like this blew my mind.  Why aren’t we taking better care of our heroes???

Turns out they tend to take care of themselves. Like here in the laundry room….the guys needed shelves for their air cylinders,


and also for other gear.


Did they wait for the powers-that-be to find the money, approve the money, and begin the ordering process?  Nope.  They just built what they needed themselves.  ‘A ‘shift did, in fact (the shift after My Captain’s shift.) They have no time for bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo.  They have a job to do, and so they do what needs to be done.

My Captain tells me that, while the men wouldn’t mind a station upgrade, on the whole they are too busy to be much effected by it.  The money they’d need to fix up the place gets slated for other priorities, so if they can’t make it themselves, they shake their heads, and make do.

And even then, when you’re running out the door to go help someone in a fire, or someone having a heart attack, the state of your desk isn’t high on your priority list.

In other words, they’re too busy getting it done to notice how good it all looks while they’re doing it.

I understand that, I really do.  But I just wish that the people in charge of taking care of these guys would crack open a Better Homes and Garden magazine every now and then.  SOMETHING.  Something to show the love, for Pete’s sake. Matching pillows or mood lighting for crying out loud.  Maybe a lovely center piece on the watch desk, or some nice textured artwork.  Bring in some Feng Shui….

or at least desks that aren’t falling apart.

Categories: Fire and Rescue | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

~ Cracker Jack Love ~

So My Captain and I spent last week visiting his parents, Goggy and Papa, in Southport, North Carolina, and one of the things we did was collect gifts to bring back to Varmint and Critter.  Other than the obvious, obligatory ‘stupid t-shirts,’ we went to Varmint’s favorite bakeries and bought her favorite sweets.   In the process, we came upon a new bakery, and decided to see if there might be something in it she might find new and interesting.


Understand, Varmint is a cupcake aficionado…. One does not simply ‘eat’ cupcakes with Varmint.  One has divine EXERIENCES with cupcakes with Varmint.


So when we came upon the bakery Bella Mae, in Southport, and found something called ‘Cracker Jack Cupcakes’, I knew we had hit a winner.


This mother/daughter bakery was sponsoring a fundraiser for a local baseball team, and whenever they sold these particular cupcakes, donated funds toward those kids’ baseball experience.  They incorporated ‘Cracker Jacks’ in the motif as a nod to the favorite American pastime of baseball! As wonderful as that concept is, you have to see this cupcake for all that it is:

Vanilla cake, salted caramel butter cream icing, Cracker Jack toppings, and caramel drizzle.   What a fantastic combination, and so creative!


(But I’m awfully glad they didn’t go with a hot dog cupcake motif instead!)

Bella Mae also specializes in all kinds of nut brittle, but since Varmint is still sporting braces on her choppers, that was a big, “No.” Maybe next year, sweetheart!


Bella Mae’s in Southport, North Carolina….nestled cozily behind The Smokehouse Barbeque Restaurant.  If you’re in Southport, be sure to hit it!


Now, before you jump on me for getting SUGAR for my kids as gifts, I have to tell you that I expect my kids to GRAB life, LIVE life, and EXPERIENCE as many new things as possible as they grow up.  And if that means the occasional Cracker Jack Cupcake, then I’m ALL IN.   I love my punks to death, and promise I cram a fair share of broccoli and avocado down their throats.  But if something like this special treat comes their way, you can be darn sure I’ll give them that, too.

Life is meant to be LIVED.  There is always a time for discipline, or moderation, and restraint.

This is not one of those times!




Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: