Saturday, July 14, 2012


Yesterday I met my friend for lunch at one of Laurel's finest restaurants:  good food, fine wine, ice water in goblets, wait staff dressed like penguins, white table cloths, napkins, etc. After our waiter brought our salad, Carol, who lives in Florida, said she'd been following the Penn State story with great interest since coming up to Maryland this week. The coverage in their paper at home had been sketchy.

Carol was saying, "Joe Paterno liked to say he was just an ordinary guy living in a little brick house, but actually he had ---" 

"Yes, that's right," chimed in our waiter who was passing by at that moment. "The ones who get the big pay at these schools are the athletic coaches, but it's another story for the professors . . ."  He continued on in that vein for a moment, then remembered he had salads for another table. He moved on, but stopped on his way past us again to pick up the thread. A few more remarks and he was off again to the kitchen. But he wasn't finished. At the doorway, he wheeled and returned to our table to deliver his concluding statement. 

After he left, we could only look at each other and grin in amazement.  When it was time to get the bill, we had trouble attracting his attention. "Try mentioning Joe Paterno again," I suggested to Carol. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fifteen Seconds of Fame

WAMU-FM, a local affiliate of National Public Radio, asked Washington-area listeners to e-mail stories about childhood memories of summer. I sent a story about walking to a tiny neighborhood store with my friends to get popsicles at age seven. Pretty tame stuff, but to my surprise, I got a phone call from a woman wanting to set up an interview.

She came at 8:30 AM on Monday, June 25th, with a recorder and a notebook. All this for a five-sentence story! Just as she began recording in the living room, my son-in-law entered the family room through the garage to drop off our grandson. As usual, he yelled  "Bow Wow Wow!"  to greet the dogs, one of whom is deaf. We moved to the porch, only to be interrupted by the arrival of the cleaning ladies. A bit flustered, I began again.  This time, I called Mrs. Porter's store "Mrs. Porter's school." Well, the store was across the street from our school.  Finally, we were done. What a production! By 9 AM, to my great relief, she was gone. She said the story would air at 5 PM on Friday afternoon and at 7 AM Saturday morning. 

I forgot to tell our kids and I forgot to listen on Friday afternoon.  Around 10:30 that evening, we had the "derecho." The power was off when I woke on Saturday morning (having slept through the storm), so we missed it again.

Only one family member happened to hear the story. Across town, our younger daughter, also without power, turned on her car radio and was surprised to hear a familiar voice. She told me later, "It sounded like you, but not exactly." 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Holiday Hothead

We live in Montpelier, a subdivision of over 700 Levitt-built houses. We're the original owners of our house, which we bought in 1967. Lots of holiday memories here.

One Fourth of July morning we awoke to find that someone had placed a small American flag at each driveway, near the curb. A small note was attached to each flag wishing everyone a Happy Fourth, compliments of a local realtor.

Our community maintains an e-mail listserve. People report lost pets, break-ins, announce garage sales, ask neighbors for the name of a good doctor, etc. 

Well, one man was so annoyed at the sight of all the flags that he sent out a nastygram via the listserve, publicly scolding the realtor for using Old Glory to increase his listings. Crass, tasteless, offensive and possibly illegal, he fumed.

Soon the listserve brought a reply. The general tone was, "Sorry the sight of all those little flags upset you so much.  I liked them. I also appreciate the time and effort involved in placing a flag at each house.   However, if you will send me your address, I will gladly come and remove the offending item from your property."

Monday, July 2, 2012


We have a new word in our vocabulary. A derecho is a  storm that travels in a straight line at high speeds. One hit the Washington area around 10 PM on Friday night, bringing down trees and power lines, snapping telephone poles in half like broken pencils. We woke on Saturday with no A/C and heard that we might have to wait a week to get power again. The weather forecast called for "hot and humid" weather through the Fourth of July. The temperature reached 100 Saturday and Sunday. 

It was a trying weekend. The younger daughter (Becky), husband, and four-year-old checked into a motel Saturday night. That meant their horse of a mutt, Sophie, had to come here. She was here last weekend while they were away and she leaked the whole time. I began calling her Mademoiselle OuiOui. She was put on an antibiotic, which seemed to stop the leakage. However, she is fiendishly clever at spitting out pills, so maybe she skipped a dose at our house. Anyway, she started leaking again yesterday. 

The older daughter. husband, and nine-year-old son went to a relative's house in Saint Michael's, on Maryland's Eastern Shore on Sunday morning, not knowing when their power would be back on.  Before they left, they brought us a huge bag of ice.

Nothing thawed in our freezer, fortunately. The leftover chicken in the refrigerator had to be thrown out on Sunday, but we put the milk and other perishables on ice. We have a mini-fridge in "the addition"--what used to be Mom's room--which I had been meaning to defrost for months. Well, the storm initiated that project, but I didn't know about it until I found the soaked carpet. 

The power came on at 2 PM on Sunday. The land line worked again, the A/C came on, the LCDs on the oven and microwave began blinking merrily. Our younger daughter and her family were back home. Their power was restored on Sunday morning. The Tree Hugger and I left two dogs and a cat in a cooling house at 4  to take "Mlle. OuiOui" home. After dropping her off, we stopped at Baskin and Robbins for an ice cream cone. They were closed. The Chinese restaurant next door was open, so I bought some General Tso's chicken for myself. (The Tree Hugger avoids  Chinese food because sodium raises his blood pressure.)

On the way home, I held the hot dinner in my lap because I no longer had the sense to put it on the floor.  We noticed that one or two of the traffic lights near home, which had been working when we left, were now dark again. So were all the houses on the way to our house. Uh oh

When we got home, we found we were completely locked out. Couldn't raise the electric-powered garage door,  couldn't get in through the patio doors, couldn't get in the front door. We'd started locking the storm door because of all the recent burglaries. Neither of us had thought to add the key to our rings. Our neighbor said BGE promised to have the power back on again around 7:30.  So we went back to Becky's, with me still hugging the hot carryout. The Tree Hugger decided to hell with his low-sodium diet, so he, our daughter, and I shared the carryout.  Around 8, we left for home, worried about the pets.

The power was still out. The Tree Hugger was getting ready to break the garage window when I saw that one of the front porch windows was unlocked. It took a lot of pulling and tugging, but the TH finally got it open far enough for to wriggle through. Quite a feat for a 72-year-old to enter his house head first.  So we were in.

An hour later, the power came on. That time for good, we hope.