When we were hit before Christmas with a major snow storm, I wondered if it was a harbinger of what was yet to come. Heavy snows in early December are unusual for the Mid-Atlantic Piedmont. El Nino years tend to produce more snow, and yes dear readers, this is an El Nino year. The December storm brought 13" of the white stuff, some of which only finally departed a week ago.
Well, another major snow storm is on the way. The National Weather Service is calling for 8-12" in my area. Come Hell, ice, or deep snow, I am prepared. The larder is well stocked. The whirlpool tub is filled to the brim, in case the power goes out and my well pump is rendered useless. I have two kerosene heaters standing by, 20 gallons of kerosene, plenty of batteries, candles, several bottles of propane for my camp stove, and an untapped 3 liter box of wine (well...untapped until a few minutes ago). Whatever happens, I shall survive!
Today I drove into the western most edge of the Richmond metropolitan area, to get a few necessities. It is an area called Short Pump, and it's a very congested, major shopping area for people living in the western reaches of the Richmond area, north of the James River. Short Pump was long the brunt of jokes in Richmond, because of it's strange name. Decades ago, long before urban sprawl, when our family moved to Richmond, it was a mere crossroads at Pump Road and US 250. There was nothing there, but an old country store. I remember a friend and I riding our bicycles out there one summer, when I was just 13 years old. It was probably a good 10-12 miles from where we lived. It was stinking hot, and extremely and humid, a typical Virginia midsummer day. We stopped in the Short Pump country store to look for something cool to quench our thirsts. It was a very old country store with wooden plank floors, and it had an old Cocoa Cola cooler in the back, that was stocked with root beers, Cokes, orange, grape, & lemon-lime sodas, all soaking in icy cold water. The bottles were all held secure, by a mechanism of rows of metal bars, that only allowed you to remove one bottle at a time, after inserting the proper change in a coin slot. You had to reach down into the icy water to retrieve your drink, and depending on how far back the bottle was located, it could take the better part of a minute to grab the bottle and fish it through the metal bars to the opening, where you could pull it out. If the bottle was way in the back of the cooler, your hand would be nearly numb by the time you fished it out! Those were the best tasting, most refreshing sodas I ever drank, especially when paired with a warm hot dog, or toasted ham and cheese sandwich, which the store also sold.
Rehydrated, and our bellies sated with warm hot dogs, we took off and rode back down Pump Road toward home. Logging is a source of income for Virginia land owners, and once all of the hardwoods have been harvested, the acreage is usually replanted with pine seedlings, that reforest the area in another 30 year or so years. The Virginia country side is full of these pine forests, and on the way home we encountered one that was on fire. Naturally all of the fire trucks and firemen caught our attention and we dismounted out bicycles to investigate the conflagration. This was in the days before everyone was paranoid about liabilities and litigations, and to our immense joy, the firemen said they could use our help! They outfitted us with backpack water tanks, with hoses and pump handled nozzles attached, and into the smoldering forest we went, hosing down hot spots. Unless you are a 13 year old, you can't even imagine how important that made us feel! We refilled our tanks, and re-attacked the flames several times, but soon it was approaching supper time, and we had to bid our fellow firefighters goodbye, and race home, or face the wrath of angry parents. Of course my smokey smelling clothes were cause for immediate suspicion, upon arriving home. I'm still not sure my parents ever actually believed I spent the afternoon fighting a forest fire. They probably thought I had been up to no good with a book of matches!
My sister's birthday is on Monday, and she has said she would like to go to the Olive Garden, so I hope everyone is in agreement and able to go. I can't tell you how much I love her. She may not be aware of it, but I have always felt so close to her. Some boys look up to an older brother while growing up, but I never had one, and even if I did, he would have to have really been something special to replace my older sister, in that respect. She was so unlike the rest of the family. She is very intelligent, has her own way of thinking, and isn't the least bit interested in kissing anyone's ass. Of course this caused her problems with my mother and father. I love my parents, but dad was a prude, and mom was a flaming neurotic! Both demanded conformity. My sister wasn't about have any of that, and she rebelled against it. She had so much more courage than me. Well....at least it seemed that way. She was almost five years older than me, so she was able to break free of our parent's control long before me. I remember once while in the 10th grade, I was getting ready for school one morning, when I passed by my mother on the way out the door.
"What do you have on?" she demanded to know, "You smell like a queer!"(Yes, my own mother actually said that to me!) It was only English Leather cologne, but to my mother, anything other than Old Spice, was totally inappropriate for a male. Remember, this was a woman who thought that shampoo was far too feminine a product for men to use, and that all males should wash their hair with a bar of soap instead! Imagine, your own mother, saying those words to you!
I was so insecure then. I tried to defend my choice of fragrance, but mom was in one of her moods, and started laying into me. My sister was upstairs listening to it all, and came down to defend me. I'll never forget it! Mom got right up in my sister's space, and started giving her a self righteous ration of crap! My sister looked her straight in the eyes, and slapped her right across the face! I couldn't believe it! Neither could my mother. She was such a bully, and wasn't used to being challenged.
My sister and I fought like cats and dogs when we were young. Reference the time when she chased me around the house with a butcher knife , but from that day on, I knew that she loved me, because she was willing to stick up for me, and I have loved her ever since!
I hope we do all get together and go to the Olive Garden on Monday, my mother included. I still love her, in spite of her past neurotic behavior. She just had her 89th birthday, and has been so much more mellow, since she went on Zoloft a few years ago. Thank God for psychotropic meds!
Before I sign off, I want to give a shout out to two genuine sweethearts, for their blogs this week, encouraging transgender and LGBT unity. A very big warm hug to the lovely Chrissie of Wales, and to the eminently sweet Shandy of Kentucky!
Tonight's blog has been brought to you, courtesy of Pink Floyd, who have been filling my auditory canals with the sweet vibrations of, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall....Is There Anybody Out There?