Archive | June, 2018

Last Night; Part Two

29 Jun

About 10:00 last night, The Squire came inside and asked me to come with him.

We live on the edge of a state park, and are surrounded by huge, tall trees. Every tree within sight was loaded with fireflies, as far up as we could see! The entire yard shimmered with thousands of blinking lights. It was absolutely enchanting! It was all the more ethereal because there is no way we could have captured it with a camera.


Last Night; Part One

29 Jun

Last night, a representative from the county sheriff’s office came to our church to discuss how you should respond when confronted with an active shooter.  Essentially, “Run, Hide, and Fight Back”.

The one thing he emphasized was that the traditional Lock-Down procedure does not work.  Hiding under your desk can be fatal. When the Virginia Tech gunman went to target practice, instead of placing his paper targets out in the field and aiming at them, he laid them in a circle at his feet.  Virginia Tech used the traditional procedure, and the gunman simply went around the classroom, shooting under desks as he walked along.  The deputy asked how many of us were old enough to remember the air raid drills from the 50s. Hiding under the desk looked good, but it wasn’t much help. I can remember my dad, who served in WWII, grunting. “If it comes through the roof, it’ll come through the desk.”

So – when you come into a place, look for the exits. Restaurant, library, doctor’s office, it doesn’t matter.  When trouble starts, RUN. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Leave your personal possessions behind.  Climb or jump out of a window; you can easily survive a drop from the second floor. Move it!  Get out of Dodge. Exit the building with your hands raised – and empty. The police are also on edge, and anything in your hands can be mistaken for a weapon.

The second option is to hide. While you’re looking for exits check for likely hiding places. Cement blocks and bricks can withstand bullets. He told us the average bullet can penetrate thirteen sheets of plasterboard! (Living in a cinderblock house suddenly seems to be a Good Thing.)  Head for the bathroom, if nothing else, although they do not usually have windows. He reminded us that we were supposed to have left our belongings behind. “The last thing you want when you are hiding from a Bad Guy is to have your cell phone ring with your sister calling to see if you are OK. ‘Well, I was, Sis, but not now.’ ”

And if all else fails, fight back. Obviously this works best in a crowd, but crowds of victims are what a Bad Guy is looking for.  If he comes into a church, throw books at him. Pencils, erasers, staplers, car keys – whatever you can grab. And you can try to rush him. As a rule, shooters are carrying a handgun; they can only aim in one direction at a time. A crowd of people can take him down, can throw his arm into the air, all sorts of things. The deputy reminded us that the Waffle House shooter was taken down by an unarmed man.

He did not recommend carrying a gun yourself. All of these shootings have been well-planned. The Columbine gunman had books upon books with notes, floor plans, and schedules. The Virginia Tech shooter had also carefully planned his attack. They have probably already killed several people, and he won’t hesitate to shoot you. In spite of what you may think you will do, most civilians are too “kind” to kill somebody else.

So there you have it. Check and see if your local police department office this sort of seminar. It’s free. There are companies that do this, but they charge an arm and a leg, and the local officers can do the job just as well.

My Grandfather’s Lunchbox

27 Jun

My grandfather’s appetite was the stuff of legends.

His dad worked on the railroad, and when he’d been away for a while, he’d often take both of his sons to a restaurant for a fancy meal. One particular time, Julius asked them if they were full. Floyd said yes, but LeRoy admitted he was still hungry. “Waiter, bring the boy another meal.” After the second meal, he took my grandfather to a second eatery because he was embarrassed to order a third time in the same place!

When he was in France during the Great War, my grandfather told me he had to run and be first in line at the mess tent, eat quickly, and then get in the back of the line, just so he could get enough to eat. After the war ended, the United States did not bring all of the soldiers home – many of them had to pay their own way. My grandfather was on one of the few troop ships to make the crossing. The family joke was that France couldn’t afford to rebuild the country and feed LeRoy Porstmann, too. When he did get back, my grandmother’s grocer thought she’d opened a boarding house.

A quarter peck of potatoes and eighteen eggs for breakfast, and thirteen sandwiches for lunch – two each of six kinds of meat, and one jelly sandwich for dessert.  Mind you, he was a fireman on the railroad at that time, back when you shoveled coal into the boiler.

When I worked for Blue Cross we could tell that some subscribers were railroad retires from their membership numbers, and I would sometimes ask what line they had been with. One elderly man did tell me he was with B&O, and I asked him, not expecting a positive response, if he had know LeRoy Porstmann.

A brief silence on the other end of the line, and then “Child, do you eat like your grandfather?”

You can get an idea of the kitchen table, here:


Under the Eagle

26 Jun

I am about halfway through a book by the above name, written by Samuel Holiday. Mr. Holiday was one of the last Navajo Code talkers, and just died on June 11 of this year, at the age of 94. It is a really interesting book, talking not only about the war itself, but about his experiences growing up.  The first time he ever met a white man, and his time at an Indian boarding school are something we could never imagine. I went to a boarding school, and it was quite different. But then, nobody was fussing with me about my language. He was also captured twice by American military, thinking he was Japanese. He described the experience as “degrading”, but led him to be much more sympathetic to the Japanese. It is a fascinating book, but please don’t judge it by its cover!

The cover of the book must have been designed by the same people who do the cover art of science fiction.  The Squire enjoys sci-fi, but often remarks that the cover doesn’t have any connection with the story. The cover of Under the Eagle shows a man wearing a breechcloth and war paint, carrying a quiver of arrows – but no bow – and holding an eagle feather in his hand. The soldier beside him is wearing full GI battle gear.

Now, tell me – why would anybody march into battle in 1944 wearing a breechcloth?





That’s Me, All Over

24 Jun


AND, She Glows in the Dark!

19 Jun

I found this picture in a box when The Squire and I were cleaning off the picnic table on the patio. We were married in November 1974, and this was taken sometime shortly afterward.  I bought that red coat right after he proposed to me, as a celebration of my new life. I’d never owned anything quite that wild, and it expressed my joy and elation.

I wore it until it fell apart!


Well, It Sounded Good

18 Jun

This morning The Squire announced that we were going to clean off the picnic table on the patio, so he can put it on Freecycle.  Now, cleaning it off is a good idea, but I am not too crazy about getting rid of it.  It would be lovely to be able to sit out there in the evening and watch the foxes play in the Back 40, or just enjoy a cuppa and a good book.

We dragged over the trash can and the recycling bin, and had at it. It really didn’t take too long to get most of the junk off there, and we found quite a few things that were either MIA or would come in handy.

And then, yours truly began the sneaky process of piling it up again! Back when grandson Matthew was about five, he and I collaborated on putting together a McKinley doll house.   After it was finished, we decided to work on a lighthouse, but that project somehow died a-borning, so the kit went into the barn. Recently, Eldest Daughter, who is in the process of moving the South Carolina, offered one of my nephews a roll-top desk and chair that had belonged to my mum. He accepted and we brought the desk here, as it would be a lot more convenient for him to pick it up. Besides, he can collect his kids’ Christmas gifts while he’s at it. And by the way, would your sons want to build a lighthouse? The Squire and I spread out and checked out all of the pieces that are in that kit, and wrapped it back up.

“You know, with this table cleared I could bring Matthew’s McKinley down here and work on it here on the patio.” The Squire was not pleased with that suggestion, but the patio is cooler in the evening than the workshop, and I really do need to get on with this project. We shall see. It’s been sitting around, first in their basement, then in our barn, and now up it the workshop, and if I’m going to get it finished before Austin graduates from college, I need to hustle. he’s pushing two, already!

We also went through several of my parents boxes that had been stashed here and there.  Lawsy, the stuff my mum kept! A quart zip bag full of keys. A bunch of receipts for donations to every cockamamie organization in the world. A huge bag of L’eggs eggs – which are probably worth a fortune on eBay.

And books! Another of my nephews is giving serious consideration to following in his grandfather’s footsteps and going to seminary, so I pulled all of the books I figured he could use and packed them up. He’s going to have to come get them, as mailing this thing is going to be very pricey.

All in all, it really looks good out there. It may not be obvious to the untrained eye, but we filled two trash bags and two recycling bins – and we’re not really finished yet!




Baltimore Sun, June 10 2017

10 Jun


It Worked!

7 Jun

Last night, I trundled the wheelie bin out to the road, and put it carefully beside the mailbox. I lowered the handle so the lid wasn’t locked in place and moseyed back to the house in the dark.

When I opened the shades this morning I was annoyed to find the bin was exactly where I’d left it last night. Either the recycling crew hadn’t been around yet (they normally come through about half past four) or they were in a snit and had passed us by. The latter more likely than the former, frankly.

Mea culpa, and all that jazz. The bin had been emptied, and was positioned – upright and with the lid on – a few feet further up on the lawn. Maybe the expression “over my dead body” really meant something. I’ll have to leave them a box of cookies or something next week.

So Far Out I’m In

6 Jun

A few weeks ago I wrote about an article I’d read that listed the things that made your house look dated.

I had all of them except shag rugs.

One of the blogs I follow (http:/ had a list of things we all had ten years ago that are obsolete. Among them are bookshelves (say what?), drip coffee makers, alarm clocks, file cabinets, desktop computers, printers, printed phone books, answering machines, fax machines, paper shredders, a Rolodex, CD racks, CD burners, china cabinets, home phones, entertainment consoles, DVD players, calculators, takeout menus, incandescent light bulbs, and cable TV.

Well, now. We still, obviously, have our bookshelves, an alarm clock, file cabinets (four of them!), two desktop computers, a printer,  and a couple of old paper phone books. I guess the part of the home phone that takes messages is an answering machine; that’s what I call it, anyway.  Where will I put my dishes, if not in a china closet?  A calculator sits in the corner of the desk; it’s plugged into the same “octopus”  as the paper shredder. The takeout menu is on the side of the fridge; I can read it and call the number faster than looking up the restaurant online, if only because I can never remember the name of the place.  And of course, we have cable TV. I guess you could say “The Squire has cable TV” as I don’t particularly like TV and he does.

I’m so far behind I think I’m way out in front!