Friday, February 25, 2011

Look how lovely!

Since it's February, it must be time for "Sonnets," the Bulldawgs' annual Drama Club fundraiser. For two days right around Valentine's Day, members of the group roam the halls of the high school in full Renaissance garb. They have permission to burst into classrooms unannounced and recite Shakespearean sonnets to unsuspecting recipients. Boyfriends and girlfriends buy the service, of course, as well as friends who want to make a pal's day. But a big chunk of the clientele is made up of secret admirers making their crushes known for the first time. Fabulous!

The girl in charge loved sailing through the day dressed so regally. Doesn't she look lovely?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Intrepid reporter -- until I ran from the scene

So the drama around here last Saturday was pretty dramatic; our part of the world seemed to burst into flames in every direction all at the same time. Dry, dry air and high, high winds combined to create a day just ripe for combustion. Pals from California or western Canada might laugh and say, "how quaint!" But fire fighters throughout the Washington D.C. area were working it all day long.

Well, I shock myself that I took these pictures: I am never on the scene when drama occurs, or if I am, the drama is occurring to me or to one of the urchins -- so photographing the historic events is usually the last thing on my mind.

tangent: When the sunny girl was born we had to borrow a disposable camera from the midwife who helped her into the world, because by the third child we were not so much about checking and re-checking the "Baby Being Born" hospital bag to make sure we had everything. So: camera -- yes; batteries -- not so much.

But I took the sunny girl and a pal to the movies, and we drove into smoky air that was thick enough that I turned on my headlights and the sunny girl reached for her inhaler. After I dropped the two girls off at the mega-cineplex-o-rama, I decided to check out the source of the smoke.

Plumes rose from a wooded area right behind my beloved Borders Books. I kept thinking, "How hard would it blow to be one of the stores that escaped the corporate bankruptcy axe, only to see one's entire inventory go up in flames?"

tangent: Pipe down, book lovers -- Borders is all right by me. Yes, yes -- we should all support our local independent booksellers. They support the new, the quirky, the overlooked. But you know what? So does my Borders. And I can tell you right now -- there ain't no independent booksellers in Prince William County, Virginia; if Borders goes, we are SOL. Virginians all know that stands for "Standards Of Learning."

OK, so the fire caused businesses up and down the suburban strip malls to evacuate, as it spread north and east through a large wooded area. These woods are bordered by things like a Home Depot, the Department of Motor Vehicles, Best Buy, and -- scary -- an animal hospital. All evacuated their customers (and patients).

As always, the firefighters walked forward to fight the blazes (and yes, I do mean blazes; these brush fires were everywhere) while everyone else fled. As I took these pictures I was shocked at how quickly I stopped needing the telephoto feature on my camera as the fire raced through the woods towards my vantage point; I kept thinking, I should not be here . . . I am where I should not be . . . this is really, really stupid . . . . I am not Christiane Amanpour -- or even Brenda Starr . . . . I need to go now . . . . And the firefighters geared up, and did what they had to do, and stopped my town from burning.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Snapshot: tall boy, a.k.a. goofball

The goofball tall boy was home this weekend, and as he was rummaging through some of his junk he happened to find some of those chew tablets they give you at the dentist to show you how well or poorly you are brushing your teeth. His teeth looked pretty good, which made him inordinately proud -- although it's hard to see how he can demand praise and accolades for this: those tablets are aimed at eight-year-olds. His tongue, however, remained bright pink for hours. He reported that the tablets tasted weird but in a good way.

He amused himself greatly.

He's weird, but in a good way.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Snapshot: Book bag

So the girl in charge carries this book bag, which is one of my favorite pieces of art. She took a messenger bag, and decorated it with quotations from songs and poems, and with pithy sayings that either tickle her fancy or inspire her. How awesome is that? To give creativity its due, she follows in the footsteps of the tall boy, who did the same thing a few years ago. But there's something about the girl in charge's choices that just makes me grin.

She has quite a few songs from Disney movies represented -- "Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally; golly, what a day!" "I'll get that arrow, pretty boy -- and I'll get it with my shirt on!" Simon and Garfunkel make an appearance as well. In addition to some of the classic angsty teenager S&G lyrics ("And a rock feels no pain/And and island never cries.") the girl in charge has also included, "Life, I love you! All is groovy!" Gotta love that!

I love particularly that she has Jean Valjean's prisoner number on her bag. But here's why my girl is all that and a slice of peach pie: While her brother wrote the Hail, Mary across the strap of his messenger bag, she has written the entire Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel in a winding ribbon all around her bag:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, oh Prince of the heavenly host, by the divine power of God, cast in to hell Satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

People, I love that girl!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And can you really say "Cream of Mushroom" and "gourmet" in the same sentence?

So the fabulous neighbors had us over the other night for pizza and beer. As usual, I spent too much time laughing to actually take any good pictures. And I will also report that there were no stories told that night that can be repeated on this blog. My urchins read this, people. My Aunt Carol Jean reads it! [Actually, my Aunt Carol Jean has been known to tell a bawdy tale or two . . . but we won't go there tonight.]

Let's just say that in this particular instance vulgarity and hilarity are integrally related. You can tell because of the look on my own street sister's face. Her eyes are closed because really, the pals are telling the most scandalous story, using words that are making me blush right now -- and I'm not even typing them; I'm just thinking them. But you do see that she is laughing her ass off, right?

Don't get me wrong -- it wasn't all genitalia jokes and strippers. Actually there were no strippers that I remember. And we did discuss the merits of various fine dining options. Some of us are enamored of "Cream of Something and Something Casserole" while others seem more intrigued by the new cuisine being touted these days, which consists of instant rice topped with a can of delicious Chunky Beef with Barley soup. Your thoughts?

Well, it was swell to get together with the fabulous neighbors -- it always is -- and I feel particularly honored that they wanted to bond with us, since the next morning he left for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. You know how I feel about my fabulous neighbors, so you know how much I will miss my friend while he's gone. His wife is just as dear -- my wonderful pal, my earliest and staunchest blog supporter, and a heroine to all REAL real housewives of D.C. Just so you understand how hard she kicks ass, she will spend this coming year finishing her Master's degree. Suck on that, Michaele Salahi.

Well, if I were more eloquent I would offer a pithy and moving commentary about the bravery and selflessness of the men and women who volunteer to go to war for us -- and about the sacrifice we ask of their families as well. But really, all I pray for is for my friend to come home safely. So I guess that's what I would ask you to do, too. Pray for my friend. Or pray for someone you know and love. Pick a specific soldier, or marine, or sailor -- and pray.