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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Visiting Suzy

Greetings and Salutations to All my Kith and Kin and All the Ships in Outer Space:

During the wee hours of Sunday morning, I loaded up my white 2004 Ford F-150 XLT pickup truck and began driving to Windsor, Virginia to visit my sister, Suzy, and her family.

It was still dark when I arrived, so I sat in my pickup truck listening to music and waiting for daylight.

Shortly after dawn, Louis Stephens, wearing his police uniform, walked outside to get into his patrol car, and told me it was okay to go ahead and ring the doorbell, as everybody was now awake.

As we visited during the day, Suzy cooked me up a huge plate of her homemade lasagna, with three (03) slices of her garlic bread, washed down with a cold bottle of O'Doul's alcohol free beer.

They had fed me a cheeseburger and potato chips earlier, so I didn't think I could eat it, but it was so delicious, and the company so enjoyable, that I easily cleared my plate.

My big plan was to find a nice dark open area where I could unfold my chaise longue and set up my telescope.

The chaise longue was so I could lie back and enjoy viewing the Perseids meteor shower, and the telescope was so I could look at Mars, all of which was supposed to happen during the wee hours of Monday morning.

Well, they figured I could probably see everything from their backyard, and I agreed.

So, for the very first time since I'd purchased it, I unpacked my Meade ETX-60 telescope, and I thought I'd correctly followed instructions for orienting it towards Polaris.

Things didn't quite go as well as I'd hoped.

I never could get my telescope properly aligned.

I still don't know why.

Anyway, Mars was below the horizon, and by the time it did appear, clouds had formed to block the view.

There were tall trees in every direction, so the horizon was blocked, leaving only the sky directly overhead available for clear viewing.

It dismayed me to learn, that due to adjacent businesses and surrounding communities, there was also as much light pollution in the back yard of a private home in Windsor, Virginia as there is right here in the middle of Washington, D.C.

I did use my chaise longue to lie back and look at the sky, where I witnessed a few meteorites, including three (03) that were spectacular celestial fireworks.

They were beautiful white fireballs, and behind them was a tiny gap, followed by a long firey trail, seeming to try to spray sparks

But, before the meteor shower could peak, clouds formed overhead, so I gave up and went inside to grab a few zzzzzzs.

During the time I was stargazing in the back yard, I enjoyed listening to freight trains rumbling through the area.

The passing trains caused the neighbor's dogs to bark and fuss.

I was imagining the poor puppies were probably quite frightened.

Imagine you're a dog, sleeping in a cage, under some dark trees, while your human is away, sleeping in their house.

All of a sudden, you're awakened by a deep, ominous rumbling, along with some odd wailing and howling, and the whole earth shakes, as this great invisible monster moves from one point to another, with your kennel right in the middle of the invisible monster's path.

You're just a pooch, all by yourself, with no human to comfort or reassure you, and it's dark, and you can't run away.

Those doggies must have been traumatized with terror.

Back in the house, the kitty cats didn't fare so well either.

One of the kitty cats, Pumpkin, kept me company, curled up comfortably snoozing in an easy chair as I stretched out on the sofa.

At one point, I started to get up, but in doing so I kicked over a wooden TV tray, making a sudden loud clattering noise.

So, I started to rise to my feet, in order to pick things back up.

Terrified, Pumpkin ran from the room, never to return until next day.

Yes, imagine you're a comfortable kitty cat, sound asleep in a darkened room.

All of a sudden, you're rudely jolted awake by a loud sharp noise.

Then this stranger, who is BIG, with hairy bushy whiskers all over his face, begins very slowly (due to arthritis) rising up in the darkness, with creaking, crackling joints and bones, all the while, mumbling, muttering, groaning, and moaning.

I'm sure that poor puddy tat must have thought it was seeing FRANKENSTEIN, WOLFMAN, JEKYLL AND HYDE, or NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, all suddenly come to life, and looming right over him.

Because Washington, D.C. is such a dangerous place to drive, I always time my trips so I leave during the wee hours and arrive during the wee hours, in order to avoid the greatest amount of traffic congestion.

So, I spent all day Monday visiting with Sue, her husband Mike, their daughter, J.J., her husband Louis, and their boys, Tyler and Ryan.

Sue and Mike, who both recently retired from teaching school, took me to Smithfield with them, and showed me houses where they used to live and schools where they used to teach, and it was a pleasant diversion crossing the James River into Newport News.

That afternoon, when Louis had donned his police uniform and was going to work, I used my Kodak Easy Share Z710 digital camera to make a video of him saying goodbye to the baby, getting into his patrol car, and driving towards town.

Later, I made a video of the two little boys gleefully giggling and romping on the carpet, as Mama and Grammaw looked on.

I even managed to get one of the kitty cats, Pumpkin, into the film.

Still later, I filmed Mike playing his twelve string guitar and singing a rock ballad.

After that, I filmed Mike feeding his beagles, Bounce and Gypsy.

I then experimented with the computers trying to store and play the videos I just recorded.

Since every computer is different and every computer operator is different, this didn't go so smoothly.

But, eventually, I was successful, and now we have some nice home movies to watch.

They did request that those home movies not be shared on the Internet, and I agreed.

I'm keeping them in my computer and on my flash drive.

Maybe I'll burn a CD or DVD.

I've never done that, and there's no reason why I shouldn't.

Driving back into the District of Columbia became a little more complicated, as the information being given by my Tom Tom GO 510 apparently was out of date, due to recent changes from highway construction.

Luckily, I had plenty of fuel, and after a while my GPS guided me onto the correct route back to the Soldiers' Home.

I even was able to stop at a gas station to top off my tank, a survival habit one should always practice in this city.

Exhausted, I slept through the day, waking in time for supper.

I was going to just eat in my room, but the menu said they had rice pudding in the mess hall, and boy, do I love rice pudding!

So, now, I'm back in my room, writing this all down, to be posted in my blog.

Ain't the Internet plumb wonderful?

Thank you.

John Robert "SAIGON" Mallernee, KB3KWS
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

NOTE: "My unpopular and controversial personal opinions are independent of my Scottish clan."

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