Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Musings

Again with the musing, you say. Yup. Get used to it. I like to think about what holidays mean, what they don't mean, and how to get the most pleasure out of them.

With Thanksgiving behind us, I turned my attention on "what's next." First, it was disemboweling the turkey carcass and turning it into sliced meat for sandwiches and broth for hearty soups. Then it was pulling the Christmas decorations out of the garage and dragging them to the front porch.

Thank goodness for more football games than any human should watch. With various games in the background, I managed to get the tree up, decorate it, and decorate the remaining hard surfaces in the house. That is, those hard surfaces that I felt like decorating.

Like many people, Terry and I have waaaay too much stuff for the holidays. Not everything comes out every year. A few things stay behind and are not seen for years. One of these days, I'll find them and march them over to Goodwill. Maybe someone else will display them.

Still, I am as decorated as can be.

While all this activity was going on, I realized how happy I am. I love my husband and our life. I might even love it more if I weren't working three days a week. I don't yet know when I'll pull the plug, but having nine days off in a row made having nine more off in a row veeeery attractive.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Musings

I have so much to be thankful for every day of the year. Sometimes, though, it is a good thing to take stock of the list. Today is that day.

I am grateful for my family, in all its iterations and variations. We are not a "typical" family, whatever that is. We all have good health, keen minds, and jobs. In today's environment, all three have equal weight in the plus column. My husband and I will become grandparents for the first time next spring, so we are doubly grateful for the little pink peanut growing in Aleta's womb.

I am grateful for finding my sense of place. After decades of living hither, tither and yon, I am so glad Terry and I found our sense of place at Smith Mountain Lake. I can lay my eyes on still or roiled waters. I can look at mountains near enough to touch. I am grateful for the artistic and literary communities that have embraced me and encouraged me to follow my dreams.

I am grateful that I live in a counntry where I can engage in political discourse and peaceful discord without fear of reprisal or arrest. I may not like everything that is going on, but I pray that cooler heads will prevail and collectively we can move the country forward one baby step at a time.

I am grateful for the turkey roasting in the oven, for being able to put food on the table, for my loving husband, and all my friends.

I wish everyone a loving and restful day. As for me, I plan to spend the afternoon in a turkey coma watching football. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The end of home games

Alas, Saturday was our last home game this season for Navy football. We made the trek north to Annapolis five times this year. And wonder of wonders. Not a single rainy game this time. Last year, we were sodden at least twice.

Saturday's game was a fitting farewell to our senior class. Each senior marched onto the field with family and sponsors to be honored. Having watched these young men play for four years, I can say our officers' core is in fine hands.

Our small community of season ticket holders disbanded until next year. As with any community, our friends had good and bad luck. Death of a parent. Surgery. Success of a son who is going to fly for the Navy. Redeployment for a Marine pilot who taught at the academy for the past three years. We will miss watching his son grow up. Zander is quite a fan at 22 months.

Most of us are skipping the Army-Navy game. At least in person. Something about being wimps sitting out in Philadelphia on December 11 and freezing our tails off. We agreed that hot toddies, fires and home-made chili won out over $9 beers and crummy hot dogs.

Until next year. Go Navy. Beat Army!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fred First on Earthcare

Yesterday, the Friends of the Franklin County Library and Smith Mountain Arts Council worked together to bring Fred First to speak on his love of our planet earth. Fred lives in Floyd County and has been blogging about his exploits there since 2002. I've been reading his blog since 2008 and love it.

Fred drove down and back in dense fog (see his latest blog entry) on a barely two-lane highway unfit for cars or trucks. Even the deer avoid it. The enthusiastic audience loved his presentation, though, so I trust the hair-raising trip was worth it.

Fred read a couple of essays, talked about his passion for the earth, showed us a wonderful multimedia show of photos and music, and even let us complete our Christmas shopping. Yes, he thoughtfully brought copies of his two books, Slow Road Home and What We Hold in Our Hands. I saw many of the guests walk out with copies of each. Wonder how many will find their way into Christmas stockings. Mine belong to ME.

BTW, I filtched Fred's picture from his blog.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Old Time Virginia

This weekend our daughter, son, and daughter-in-law came down to Smith Mountain Lake from New York for a pre-holiday, post-summer visit. Our daughter lives in Orange County, and our married kids live out on Long Island. We always try and do something that they can't do in New York. This weekend presented some terrific opportunities.

First, there was the annual chili festival at the lake. We sampled really good and very ordinary chili. The weather cooperated, so we soaked up a fair amount of Vitamin C.

We planned a drive through the Blue Ridge to Floyd on Sunday for lunch. We took the long route, Rt. 40 to Rt. 8 into Floyd. Again, a perfect day for driving through the mountains. And no one got car sick, although a couple admitted to being a wee bit queasy. More likely, it was from hunger. We ate at a local cafe and headed over to the Floyd Country Store. We couldn't figure out why people were standing along the sunny side of the street.

As always, a pickup band was playing real mountain music at the back of the store. Just a jam session with people who love the old music sittin' and pickin'. I caught movement and turned to see the start of the Veteran's parade. Took us seconds to stand outside and salute our veterans (Terry and son are both veterans). What you don't see on Long Island are parades with tractors, pets from the animal shelter, a bus honoring local warfighters lost, and girl and boy scout troups.

Now, you tell me where you're going to get a taste of real Virginia like this.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


One of the greatest things about living in the U.S. is our ability to vote without intimidation or threats. Unfortunately, we cannot vote without lies, slurs, mudslinging, and character assassination. That's become axiomatic. It's what politics has become.

I watched the election results until way too late. Depending on what side you are on, it was either a landslide or a shellacking. Either way, a seismic shift changed the balance of power. Good people won. Good people lost. People you agree with will be our leaders. People we don't agree with as a populace probably are looking for a job.

Term limits would have helped, but we can't expect our leaders to vote on a bill that would put them out of a job. Not going to happen. Even if that is what Jefferson believed. So, we the people have to do our job every two years and vote for the people we want to lead us.

I hope the new guard listens carefully. Some of the old guard did. My Congressman did. He was out in the district nearly every weekend, listening, asking questions. When he voted on major legislation, he knew my position. He didn't have to talk about me as a generic "the people want me to vote for/against" a piece of legislation. He knew, because I told him. He listened.

I wonder if the new guard realizes that it too is on thin ice. If it doesn't listen, if it doesn't connect with me as an individual, not as a "people" he's never met, then he too may be out of a job in two years. My warning to all of the winners: Be careful what you ask for. You may get it.

And one more thought about connecting with the voting public. What's with this teleprompter? Obama, are you listening? Lose the teleprompter. There is no better way to connect with me, the "people," than to look straight into the camera, straight into my eyes. Then and only then will I know you are talking to me, not to a generalized blog.

Get the message, all, and get to work. This infighting has to stop. No more family feuds. No more fingerpointing. We need you to run the country, not play the blame game. Stop whining and GET TO WORK. You owe it to us. We sent you to Washington. We can send you home.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jury Duty

I've been called to jury duty before. And I've been called to grand jury duty before. Yesterday was the first time I actually sat on a grand jury.

A bit of background. I was called for grand jury while still living in LA a loooong time ago. At that time, the county grand jury sat every Friday for 18 months. Yes, you read that right. I was in process of moving to NY at the time and would be leaving in two months. So, naturally, I was excluded from service. Glad I was. The jury heard the prosecutor's case and reviewed evidence from the Hillside Strangler case. I have a strong stomach, but that might have been overboard, even for me.

Next, in Northern VA, I was called for jury duty. Just plain ol' jury duty. We had a call-in number to use the night before we were asked to appear. I called, only to find that the perp had pled out. Great. Service satisfied.

I was intrigued by county grand jury in VA. Wondered what it would be like. Part of the nearly 50 cases we reviewed were ridiculous. Petty theft (case of beer, a can of Coke and $20 from a vending machine), lots of Walmart thefts. And then there were the dog fighting cases. Not an actual fight, but arrests of people selling pit bulls trained to fight. (I now know what a good fighting pit bull goes for. Must work that into a novel someday.)

And then there were the slimy cases. Child pornography. Murder. Elder abuse. Child abuse. Having sex with a minor. For the life of me, I have no idea what drives people to commit some of these crimes. Still, I got plenty of "material" for future novels. None of it will take place in VA, so I'm safe. Besides, by the time I get around to writing about some of this stuff, the cases will be closed and I'll be able to use the newspaper accounts for research.

You'll have to excuse me. I need a hot shower to wash away alime.