Friday, September 30, 2011

Doggy Laughs

Ah, boxers. Lovely, lovely dogs. Also providers of giggles. This was forwarded by my daughter, who owns a boxer whom we dearly love. And could picture doing this.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

An Excellent Adventure

Once in a while I hit a book that is so much fun that I plow through it in one or two sittings.  Such is Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure, by Matthew Algeo.

When Harry Truman left office in 1953, there was no retirement package for ex-presidents.  You just stopped being president - no income, no secret service detail, nada.  Truman's income was minimal, just a small pension from his WWI service, but the expenses for a former president were large - office, correspondence, etc.  And he and his wife wanted to go to D.C. and New York.  How to do it on a small budget?  Why, drive yourself, of course.  Take a road trip to save money, stay in motels and with friends, eat in diners.  So on June 19, 1953, he and Bess loaded up the Chrysler and headed out of their driveway in Independence, MO,  eastward bound.  What followed probably wasn't quite what they expected.  And, as narrated by Algeo, very entertaining.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Needs no caption...

Ah, the digital age!

From my Nook-reading daughter:  "The problem with reading old books on the Nook is that they are scanned and then digitally converted, so sometimes the conversion is wrong...I wonder what "renioyecl toe towels" meant?"

Dickens probably would, too.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bulldoze and Build

A couple years ago I was in New York for the first time in about 30 years.  Noticed that the UN complex is getting rather gritty and worn looking.  Of course, its "interior" is much, much worse - it has long been a meeting place of thugs, a laughable organization that has placed the likes of Libya at the head of its human rights committees, and a home for vicious antisemitism.  It's on U.S. soil, so I have a recommendation for the next U.S. president and Congress:  since we want so desperately to be seen as open to other cultures, lets bulldoze those old buildings and build something new on the site.  Specifically, an Orthodox Jewish synagogue.  I'll even donate towards it. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

He gets it.

This former Marine clearly gets it. But this country will never survive if more don't.  Too many people think that their quality of life just exists and if they mouth the popular inanities it will remain. 

Granted, this gentleman is divisive, ignorant, yada yada yada (fill in whatever you've been called recently here).  But I'd like to shake his hand.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

And now a word...

"After all, crime doesn't pay - even in television. You must have a sponsor."

I love Netflix...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Forget the survellance camera, I'll take one of these.

What London needed (from the AP):

A Florida company is giving new clients a voucher to buy an AK-47 assault rifle to defend themselves from violent crime.
Sarasota-based is a business that provides small stores and businesses with cash machines and credit card processing services.
Its "No Merchant Victim" program now offers a voucher that can be used to buy a gun such as an AK-47 from a local gun dealer, or upgraded security camera equipment, when clients have had its services for three months.
"We encourage all merchants to stand their ground against attack with lethal force," company president Gino Kauzlarich told AFP "Hence our recommendation they buy a firearm such as a AK-47... (But) what the merchant chooses to do with the voucher payment cash is the merchants choice."
He charged that US federal government plans to increase early releases from prison, particularly in California, will likely fuel violent crime such as assaults on merchants.
Kauzlarich also said that with 400,000-500,000 guns robbed annually in the United States "our goal is to effect a societal expectation shift that every criminal should expect to confront lethal force when they attack our merchants, rather than the criminal justice system protects the criminals well being during the commission of murders, robberies and crimes."
To me the critical line is "our goal is to effect a societal expectation shift that every criminal should expect to confront lethal force when they attack".

If the thugs who brutalized England a few weeks ago had known they would face more of this...

then this...

and this..

and this...

would have been far less likely to have happened.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Mine (with apologies for picture quality):

Now I have to bug Murphy's Law to teach me the proper way to carry.

And I need to scavenge the local Good Will for a couple large shirts to conceal with. Whaddya think?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Range day delayed

Not really - just the report on it.

I had a list of possible activities for my sister's visit - didn't include shooting.  She'd never really evidenced any interest in shooting before, but at one point she said "So, are we going shooting?".  Quick e-mail to the ever-gracious Murphy's Law.  I don't feel that I'm the one to be teaching anybody yet, so I greatly appreciate ML's willingness to do so.  I also think that everybody should be given a chance to shoot at least once under proper supervision so that they understand that guns are fine machines whose actions are based on the actions of the person handling them - they aren't evil, spirit-infested gremlins that hop out of drawers and holsters, randomly mowing down innocent by-standers.

So off we went on a Wednesday, with my .38 and .32, the old beat up shotgun I blogged about before, and ML's usual variety, including a Glock 9 mm and an M-1.

Sis had never shot before - she said jumped with each shot.

But she did pretty well and took her target home with her to show off.

I was happy to get to fire the M-1.  Nice.  Size is good for me.  Loved the sights.  I was really pleased with the results.  The paper plate died from center of mass shots.  I want one.

Time to test the shotgun.  Turns out Murphy's Law tests guns sort of the same way he drives - point it and let 'er rip.  The comforting thing about both situations is (I think), his assurance that "I'm a professional."  He did tell me that I should move away.  And he fired it from the hip rather than the shoulder.  Nothing bad happened except to the target.  Yep, that old gun still works.

So of course I had to do it, too.  I'd never fired a shotgun before and I made the newbie mistake of not snugging it up good.  That thing makes a right good KER-BLAM!

It's all healed up now, so I want to go out and see if I can NOT do that again.  Also, the ejector wasn't doing its job, so each shell had to be popped out with a little screwdriver.  I want to see if a couple weeks of saturation with Rem Oil has fixed that. 

A run to Hedgesville to check out The Arsenal of Democracy, where I was introduced to a CZ (I forget what) that fit my hand very well, then home for cleaning.  And beer.  Guns cannot be cleaned properly without lubricant.

My sister is very artsy-craftsy and I'm not.  It requires a delicate touch.  I'm prone to whacking things with something.  I still struggle with cleaning the .32 because you have to turn things just right to disassemble and reassemble the barrel and slide.  She takes it and just click click.  I take a half hour.  Jiggle jiggle.  Grumble.  Jiggle jiggle.  Grumble.

Of the five guns that were Dad's the only one that hasn't been fired is the Arisaka he brought home from Japan.  Murphy's Law gave it a good cleaning and has pronounced it fit to fire, pending the replacement of a couple parts that were missing.  So, next up:

A very enjoyable day.  Thanks again, Murphy's Law!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Smile

Watch this little girl's eyes as she sees her mended face.  Operation Smile is well named.

Courtesy Creative Minority Report.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Just Beachy

Yeah, that's a horrible title but it was the best I could do in a pinch...

A very fine week at Rehoboth, indeed.  Lee's incesssant soaking didn't follow us, and although we arrived with some clouds, five lovely days followed.  Temps held in the low to mid 80s, the water temps were in the +70 range, the waves were perfect.

Rehoboth Beach, DE, is everything that Ocean City, MD, 20 miles to the south is not:  quiet, uncrowded, clean, residential, small.  Excellent restaurants are plentiful - we're most partial to Hobo's and Planet X - and it even has a great microbrewery, Dogfish Head Alehouse.  Plus the requisite number of places to get pizza and ice cream and whatever fried/grilled stuff you could want.

Our place was tiny, but we weren't in it very much.  It did pose the occasional challenge, though. As much as we would have liked to eat out every night, that's expensive and invariably leads to overeating, so we planned a few fresh and easy dinners centered around seafood.  It never occurred to me to take into account the beach nature of the kitchen,. i.e., it probably wouldn't be stocked with anything but basics.  So Thursday evening found me trying to cut up jicama with a cheap little steak knife and grating it for the slaw with a cheese grater.  And the stove was not a standard size - it was very small. There wasn't a baking sheet that was small enough to fit in the oven.  So it's a good thing we were broiling fish, not roasting veggies.  I had to hold the door and periodically rotate the cool end to the back as the fillets cooked.

Long hours of sitting on the beach and reading and reading and reading.  Some "brain candy", but also Claude Rains:  An Actor's Voice, which is excellent.

I've been a Rains fan for a gazillion years, but knew nothing about him except that he came late to the screen and had trained John Gielgud and Charles Laughton.  I found some facinating information:  Rains was a sharpshooter, and so good at it that he considered making a career of the military.  He came out of the trenches of WW I a captain, mostly blind in one eye, and with the roughened voice that became part of his trademark, courtesy of a gas attack.

A cold front moved in Thursday night, smacking Ocean City with a tornado.  Better them than us.  I've sat through a couple of those, once stuck outside, and I would be happy to never experience one again.  But it was a good excuse to go see "The Help".  Loved it, but was horrified - please tell me that there isn't any place where that many air-headed, idiotic women congregate together these days. 

Rehoboth is connected to Cape Henlopen State Park by a nice rail trail, so a couple long morning rides were in order.  During WW II, the area was heavily fortified, and some of the biggest defensive guns and heaviest fortifications we had were at Fort Miles on the Cape.

The observation towers are iconic along the Delaware coast.  I used to think they were built to monitor U-boat activity off the coast, but apparently their purpose was to allow for tracking the trajectory of the long-range shells from the big guns.

My daughter brought her boxer, Rosie.  Turns out Rosie not only loves hiking mountains but loves the beach as well, particularly chasing the little shore birds in the surf.

All too soon it was over - I could have easily done another week.  But at least it was a grey and drippy day when we left - no call of the beach that morning.  We've long preferred going south to Folly Beach in SC, but you lose a whole day traveling on each end.  Rehoboth will do quite nicely from now on, I think.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Rest in peace, innocent ones.
That day of horror is not yet forgotten.
Our prayers for you still rise up.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Playing again

Another week of play has started.  Posting will be scarce or non-existent.  Eating and drinking will not...

Friday, September 9, 2011

What's on MY Bookshelf?

My turn to jump off the cliff.

It's a mix.  I generally pass light fiction on after reading, trying to use the "Will I ever read it again?" rule.  But periodically I have to do a sweep through and take out the ones that I never actually got back to and have realized I never will.  There's Douglas Adams and Bill Bryson, lots of Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft.  Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dickons, Shaara, Tolkien, and Twain.  Books on Catholisism and Church History.  Science and books on old movies, to which I just added a biography of Claude Rains that I'm anxious to get to.

History and biographies - the Tudors, the Founding Fathers, presidents up through John Tyler.  I've been trying to read at least one biography for each president but have gotten very slowed down - it's sometimes hard to find one for certain presidents. Plus I get side-tracked.  Figures such as Lafayette, Napoleon, and Daniel Boone all are integral to our history as well, and I haven't even gotten to Henry Clay or John C. Calhoun.

Everything that doesn't currently fit on my night stand ends up over here, and right now it's everything from writings of Benedict XVI to a narrative of the hunt for John Wilkes Booth to Dean Koontz's Frankenstein.

And then there would be the cookbooks (and other stuff).  Currently accompanied by a chemistry experiment - my first attempt at homemade peach brandy.

I'll never be a Kindle user - I have to have the feel and smell of books in my hand.  And I will only order so much from Amazon - there is too much pleasure to be had from browsing book shelves, enjoying the smell of a new book, the feel of it in my hands as I open it, deciding do I want this one or that one.  Nope, gotta have a real book.  But that does cause storage problems, so I'm working on cleaning up more shelf space in the form of an antique pharmacy cabinet that was given to me.  My sister helped me anchor it to the wall while she was here and I spent Labor Day going through buckets of Murphy's Oil Soap giving it a bath.  Next is a good polish. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

And on the second day...

...there was exhaustion.  Original plan had been to go to the Air and Space Annex over near Dulles Airport, but we only made it as far as Hillsborough Vinyards, were we plunked down with cheese, bread, and a bottle of their Garnet for lunch.

Hang a right out of my community onto Rt. 9, cross into Loudon County, VA, a few minutes later, and you fall over a vineyard every whip stitch.

And I'm good with that.  Really good with that. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


As Irene ground her wet way up the east coast, four of us hillbilly descendents of E. Scott Felton, circuit judge, farmer, and great-(great)grandpa headed west to Preston County, WV.  Our destination was the Whetsell Settlement for the 90th annual Whetsell-Felton Reunion.

The Settlement is a farm community, the directions to which involve "turn off the paved road".  Sort of.  Repeated efforts to pave the road past a point have proved unable to withstand the winters and so eventually the pavement, such as it is, just peters out as you go up the mountain.  Then you just keep going until you reach Beatty Methodist Church and the grove across the road. 

If you don't have a higher riding vehicle I wouldn't recommend driving up into the Reunion Grounds. Just leave it at the church and haul the coolers over.

I don't remember when the pavilion was built.  I'm not sure why either - there's only been one day when it was wet enough to force a move to the Community Building down the road.  And I don't know what the arrangement is for use - the property technically belongs to the church.  Uncle Walter explained it to me a couple years ago but I can't remember stuff like that worth dooky.  All I know is that the reunion has been held there since 1923 so I guess it's been working out OK.

For several years a photographer was hired to take a group picture.  He used a panoramic camera that allowed Uncle Harold to be photographed at one end and then run around behind to appear at the other end of the group as well.  The last pic of that sort was taken in 1963, and I'm one of the kids seated in front.  I suspect I wasn't happy about it - we were probably dragged out of the woods for it.  This year a photographer came again.  Slightly more advanced technology.  But still difficult to corral the kids for a few minutes.

Come to think of it, the adults were as difficult to corral as the kids, 'cause we were HUNGRY.  And after we squirmed and shifted and said "cheese" for what seemed like the upteenth time we made a beeline for tables that are always amply loaded.  By the way, that lady in yellow sitting in the front row is 99 and perking along just fine. 

Yes, yes I did take antacid before heading out that morning.  Aunt Lottie's apple pies may be missed, but it's not like younger generations aren't stepping in to offer other options.  And the Russian contingent makes a mean pot of hot kielbasa and peppers!

We did have an unexpected guest who delighted kids and adults alike, but not as part of the menu.  Obviously a pet, and very tame and inquisitive.

There's a very important part of this reunion that hasn't been lost, thanks to people like my cousin Bud and my daughter.  We are a gathering of three specific lines who have been on the mountain for nearly 200 years - Feltons, Whetsells, and Calverts.

Bud gives a lesson every year, and every year we work on expanding what we know about the family histories.  Corrections are made, and now pictures are being added.

Seventeen year old Nathaniel Felton arrived from Great Yarmouth, England, in 1633 and eventually established his family in Salem, MA. His house and that of his son by the same name still stand in Peabody, MA, as part of the Brooksby Farm recreational area.  The family was prominent in the area - Nathaniel Felton, Jr. was one of many who protested the unjust accusations against their neighbor John Proctor during the Salem witchcraft trials.

The Felton family owned that property into the 1920s, and has left its name on the local geography in the form of Felton Hill. But at some time sons started moving south, probably along the King's Highway, and records start showing up of births and deaths in the Taneytown, MD, area in the mid 1700s. Then westward, where they settled for a time in the Ryan's Glen area in the western mountains of the state near what is now Oakland.  Finally, they settled at Whetsell, and there some stayed, leaving descendents who still reside on the property that is just over the hill behind the church.  Eventually, E. Scott, my paternal grandmother's father, arrived in the world in 1854, and when it came time to establish his own family he built one of several houses that have stood on the property.

His grand-daughter Gaye, a spry 93, still lives in the house today.

Eventually, a growing family required another house to be built - in 1909 the house that would become "Old Aunt Annie's Place" went up a little way over from "The Homeplace". Aunt Annie, spinster sister to E. Scott, was always Old Aunt Annie and lived out her very long life here (1874 - 1963), using an outhouse, carrying water from the spring up the hill, cooking and heating with coal and wood. The place now belongs to one of the family historians, Bud, her nephew, and he and wife keep it comfortable and welcoming.

The first Reunion was held here, under a favorite oak tree.

I can remember visiting Old Aunt Annie, sitting in front of her fireplace as she and Grandma chatted.  She had two pictures pinned over the mantle of what was then just an open fireplace:  Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee.  She told me once that they were the two most brilliant men the country had ever produced.  Years later that is so intriguing, since several of her uncles served in the Army of the Potomac, seeing action in every major engagement including Antietam and Gettysburg.  Two were killed. One had safely served one hitch but was killed in battle after re-upping.  Another was too old, but dyed his hair and lied about his age in order to get in.  When his ruse was discovered he was allowed to serve on supply trains for the duration.  He was returning home after being mustered out when he was killed in a train accident. My grandmother remembered the stories her uncles who served and returned would tell her.

And no visit ends before a walk up to the place where I want to lay down at the end of what I hope will be a long life - the Felton family graveyard.

The first headstone there is 1844, but there is a row of stones that we believe are unmarked graves, so we don't know for sure if there are older graves than that.  The last burial was Uncle Worley, my grandmother's brother, in 1970. 

The last stop in the Settlement for the day is Grandma's house. It's the house where she and her new husband "went to housekeeping", as she used to say, in 1911, and it is a house full of memories. The property was sold after the last of my uncles died, and now largely serves as a deer cabin. For me, it's rather painful to return because without a full time resident time is clearly taking its toll on the old farmhouse.

So many memories, of sounds, smells, tastes.  The screen door slapping, the happy sound of the chickens pecking in the yard, the creak of the porch swing chain.  Coal smoke, fresh bread baking, Aunt Anne's stuffed cabbages cooking.  Buckwheat cakes, irony water from the spring, hot dogs roasted over the bonfire the night before reunion.  So many memories.

And then home after a long and tiring day.  This trip used to take 8 hours.  Now I can do it in 3 1/2, even with the winding roads off the interstate.  I'll be doing it again soon, probably, since I've taken on the responsibility of scanning the reunion ledger once this years entries are made.  But it's a pretty easy drive considering the roots the trip gifts me with.