Thursday, June 29, 2006

Playing in the Dirt

I have been spending time trying to create a sub-tropical garden. I think I have a few more flowers to add before I can actually call it a flower garden. Not too bad considering that when I began earlier this month there were only two sago palms here. I know my neighbors are elated that I've finally taken an interest in the yard. I've always had an interest in gardening, but I have had a difficult time finding the time to do it. At the moment I have no excuses - so I set to work.




This is Sally dog. She is a good girl and decided she needed to oversee the gardening project. What interested her most was the digging of the dirt. She wondered why her human was digging in the dirt. It was plain to see that there was no fence in the way and after careful inspection it was also obvious that no bones were buried.




Papa Bear assured Sally dog that everything was alright. If Mama Bear wanted to play in the dirt while enjoying a sudsy cocktail, then everything was OK in our little world.

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Mamma(w) & Pappa(w)

This past Sunday was a little more lively at Mammaw & Pappaw's. Papa Bear's brothers and sister joined us for dinner. I think it is the first time in the fourteen years that I have been with Papa Bear that I have seen them all together at one time.



Lizzy enjoyed spending time with her cousins,




....and at the end of the day Mammaw and Pappaw were in need of a break.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Summer Bug

I have developed quite a Summer bug. The main symptom is that I am doing anything and everything but hanging out on this here computer. I'm reading more, gardening more, sleeping more, playing with the family more ..... and the strangest part is that I'm even cleaning the house more. It's almost like I'm trying to avoid this virtual world that I have so lovingly created.

Not to worry though, I'm sure that I'll be back to my old self in no time. With July just around the corner, it will soon be to hot to go outside.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Short Jaunts to DC and Charlotte

I promised pictures from my recent trip to Washington DC, but I wasn't to happy with the results and I have worn myself out from travel. I'm feeling quite crotchety today, but surely I'll bounce back after a couple good nights of sleep at home in my own bed. I will give a brief recap. I flew to Washington, DC for two nights for a GSO Assessment with the State Department. As I eluded earlier, I did pass the assessment, but it will be a few weeks before I know my placement on the hiring register. When I got back to Charleston, my family picked me up at the airport and drove me to Charlotte for a family reunion. No rest for the weary.
When I arrived in DC I did take this photo of Ronald Reagan International Airport (DCA) from the Metro Station. At the time I did not fully appreciated the symmetrical lines. It is quite pleasant to view.



After my GSO Assessment, three friends met me in Clarendon for dinner. While I waited for them to get out of class, I stopped in this park to relax and read. The one thing that was nice about this trip was that it was quiet. I didn't turn the TV on once and had lots of me time.


The kids always enjoy going to family reunions and rediscovering all their cousins. One of the cousins decided to try her hand at face painting as you can tell from the fierce blue dragon on Milesaball-Z's face.


No hotel stay with kids can be complete without a trip to the pool. My little cub was pouting because I took him out of the pool because he was feeling ill. I think it was from a cross between too many cannonballs, too many reunion sweets and swallowing chlorine. His tears turned to laughter when daddy suggested that he shed a tear for the camera.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

WOOHOO! A GSO ICO!!!!

Just a brief, pictureless post today. I'm in DC. I received an ICO (Immediate Conditional Offer) for the GSO (General Services Officer) position. This pretty much means that I'm now on the hiring register for two specialist positions.

The reason this post is pictureless, is because I seem to have lost the powercord to my laptop. It was there when I went through airport security in Charleston, but there was no sign of it by the time I reached my hotel. I have spent much time either walking or riding the metro here in DC. I now have this sensation that I am on a constant escalator - rather bizarre.

Well, gotta run. I'll post a few pictures when I return.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Birthday Times Two

Today is a VERY special day. Milesaball-Z is sharing his birthday with Papa Bear! OK, so they do this every year since Papa Bear turned 40. It makes it rather easy for me to keep track of ages now doesn't it. Our plan for the day is to have the usual Sunday dinner feast at Mammaw and Pappaw's and then it's off to The Joe for a Riverdogs game. Even if you are not a baseball fan, this stadium is well worth the visit. It is nestled in the crook of the Ashley River and the marsh. The views are spectacular. Our seats are front row, behind home plate and next to the Riverdogs dugout - Sweet! (Thank you, Jay with BTT!)

Remind me to take my camera so I can post some photos later :)

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This was dinner at Mammaw's. It is typical of what we eat every Sunday. In case you can't tell by this blurry image, it is chicken, corn, broccoli, yams, squash, fried okra, salad and fruit (combined so I can skip the dressing) . If anyone ever leaves this house hungry, there's something wrong!


Next we have the birthday cake with my two birthday boys in the background. Lizzy had to doctor the cake with extra icing because someone in this picture couldn't resist dragging his fingers through the delicious goo. Of course, dessert is another typical course offered after dinner every Sunday.



We made it to the game - a little late, but we made it. This picture was taken while walking to our seats. As you can tell, the tide was out and there was a nice breeze. For those of you who can't tell the tide with only a glance, I'll show you a comparison in a bit.

Here's the view from our seats. We had the entire section to ourselves. It was a dog day, too! By this I mean that dogs were allowed at the ballpark. It seemed too hot to bring our Salleydog - so I'm not sure how the other poor dogs managed. There were several field events for dogs between innings. One was a bone eating competition between man and beast. Another was musical sitting - when the music stopped, the dog who sat down last was out.


The Charleston Riverdogs, a minor league of the NY Yankees, were playing against the Savannah Sand Gnats. Lizzy walked over to the Riverdogs' dugout to take this picture. She was asked to move because she was not allowed that close to the players during the game. Later, an official came over to her to apologized. He gave her a baseball that had been in play.

Turns out attendance is down on Sundays. I attribute this to the heat. On Sundays, the game starts a little earlier at 16:05. It is still full sun and steamy - even with the coastal breeze blowing. The last two innings were the most comfortable. By then, the sun was beginning to set and we were finally in the shade.

After the game was over, Milesaball-Z ran the bases several times to expend some of his pint up energy while Mary got about 20 autographs on her baseball. I didn't thnk to take a picture of the ball. I'll do that later if I think of it.



This picture was taken as we were leaving. As you can tell, the tide did come back in.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Too Cool for an Interview

I am not in to shopping- not for food, not for clothes, not for presents. When I enter a store, I find that I am actually entering a time warp. Hours pass unnoticed. I think maybe the issue I have is that I spend my entire day thinking of other people's needs and wants and it is only when I am shopping for myself that I start to consider what I want. Clotheswise, I generally know what I want. The problem is that I have a difficult time finding what I want. I generally prefer to order off the internet where I can buy what I want when I want. For me to walk into a brick and mortar, I want something within my own mental time constraint.

In my late teens and early twenties, I LOVED JCPenney's. The clothes seemed fresh, young and classy. I also liked Thalhimer's where the clothes were classic, conservative and I could get an employee discount. I barely remember shopping for me from my mid-twenties - early thirties. I was too busy getting married, and having kids. Now, in my mid-thirties, I'm back to focusing on what I want and what I need. What I want and need are department stores as they were in my early twenties!

I really believe that casual Friday's led to the demise of taste. When I first started working for my current employer in 1995, I had to dress up every day. After a few years casual Friday was introduced...then casual Mondays, too. The next thing I know we were given a casual summer. The second summer that happened, casualness was made a permanent fixture. The dress code has diminished ever since. Once you've gone that far, what's so wrong with going to work showing your belly button and wearing thongs - err, I mean flip flops.

Three months ago, on a whim, I decided to refresh my wardrobe. I drove to JCPenney's on my lunch hour. It was not MY JCPenney's anymore. What I saw was young, hip and casual. Nothing reeked of classic classiness to me. In desperation, I did get a couple items that I had to do some in-depth scanning to find. I am OK with never going back there.

Today I began to panic. I have an interview in DC on Thursday. Even though I have clothes that will be just fine, I got it in my head that I had absolutely nothing to wear. A new blouse would give me that little extra boost I need- right? WRONG! I knew better than to go to JCPenneys...so where then? Dillards? No, not Dillards. The last time I went to Dillards - three hours passed unnoticed just because I had been invited to a little party in Savannah. So, I went to Belk's. My mother-in-law practically lives there and she is classy. It turned out not to be a good idea. Yes, Belk's does have suits and formal dresses. I have suits, but I wanted a new blouse to wear under one of the suits - is that too much to ask? Obviously it was. Everything was just too cool for an interview. I wandered in disbelief thinking there had to be something and I was willing to pay a little more for that something. Where were the silks, or linens, or comfortable fabric with a collar?

I imagine this is what culture shock must be like - the constant looking for normalcy in chaos. (Sigh!) Would I have faired better sticking with the internet and paying for express shipping? Or should I have gone to Dillards?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The No Fly Zone

A few days ago, I was reading a very entertaining blog by Geoff who is an Englishman in Charleston. What is most entertaining is that his commentors are from all over the world and many have participated in his past shenanigans. Hmmm shenanigans is a bit harsh…antics isn’t quite right either…intense fun may be more appropriate. The comments left sometimes get off track of the actual article and they banter back and forth to one another.

The particular article in question was on the Southern H-Word and OXO cubes, but the comments veered toward the definition of a Yankee based on regional perspectives and issues involving flying the confederate and union flags. The main line of questioning that piqued my interest was
…why did they ban the confederate flag in America? I read somewhere that it is an offence to display it… is this true? Bit like the Union Flag over here:(
My response to this comment was that
…as for the confederate flag - SC did take it off her capitol building in 2000 and place a similar one at a memorial on capitol grounds…Displaying it can be offensive, but I don’t believe it is an offense.
I do find the confederate flag offensive. It is offensive because it brings about painful connotations to many southerners. It is offensive because it brings to my mind wild rednecks who claim it as a symbol of Southern pride and who seem to want to act like mindless teenagers or at least a character from the Dukes of Hazard. It is offensive because it depicts the South with imagery that is hard to overcome in its presence.

I am curious about the Union flag comment mentioned earlier. What is the deal with the Union flag? The only ban I can find is one that bans flying it on civilian boats. There does seem to be some sort of controversy with flying it upside down. Until I realized this, I really thought the Union Jack flag was more symmetrical.

On the topic of flying flags, I am reminded of another article I read last week by Consul-At-Arms. The author is a Foreign Service Officer currently posted in Kingston, Jamaica. Prior to entering the Foreign Service, he was a soldier serving in Iraq. The article, called Surfs Up in Babylon, mentions that Iraq bans flying the American flag. Not to worry, the troops find other flags to fly.

Looking more in depth into this alternate connotation of the no fly zone, I came across an explanation that included policy excerpts from FrontPageMag.com. The policy is
No one may fly, display, post or place the U.S. flag in, on or over vehicles, command posts, captured equipment, structures, buildings, monuments or any other location in Iraq.
I encourage you to read this article and consider the official explanation of this policy.

This ban on the American is one we should not find offensive if we consider the perceptions of the Iraqi people. We are occupiers of their country. We want to send a signal that this is a temporary situation. Flying our flag would send a mixed message. To those who are eager to find fault with our motives, flying our flag may be interpreted as a sign that we may are there to stay.

People fly flags for personal reasons that are not always known to the observer. In SC we are accustomed to seeing Clemson Tigers or Carolina Gamecocks flags everywhere, but some people seem to fly flags more for decoration than for any particular meaning.

What flags cause you to take offense?