I really don’t know where to start. So, I’ll just start.

Last Tuesday, Howard County Fire & Rescue Services hosted some bloggers (and such) for a 1/2 day of awesomeness.

When I got the invitation a month or so ago, I was pretty excited. I love our HoCo blogger community, so that was a draw, but also? The invitation promised some pretty great adventures like cutting metal and concrete and some behind-the-scenes info.

The day started out hot and humid beyond belief. In some of the photos that follow, you’ll see dark clouds and serious gloom. But, the weather got better and frankly, we never even noticed because it was so darn interesting.

What is PODPower, you ask? Well, Pods are what you think they are – they are portable, discrete containers for various purposes. They, along with the transporter system, are ready for anything you can imagine that HCDFRS responds to: building collapse, hazardous events, fires (of course), rescue operations like ditches that collapse, emergency sheltering. Each Pod has exactly what it needs – including generators for some.

Some of the Pods were designed and custom built by the HoCo teams, some bought the way they are. They are clever and remind me of those shows about little houses – every single inch is used in incredibly brilliant and efficient ways. It’s truly remarkable.

And you know what else is really cool? This system is very efficient budget-wise. Makes sense, because if you  have fewer trucks since you don’t need a special truck for each situation, but rather switch out pods, there’d be savings  while at the same time makes the preparedness way better for any situation.

These systems started in Europe and are few and far between in the US. Why don’t many departments in the US do this? I cannot imagine.

Now, to show you some photos and talk a little about what we did. The pix aren’t great, but it’s because I was way to engrossed to worry with the camera! Here goes:

Truck #10
The day did not look promising. Look at the clouds!
When they took official photos & snapped one on my phone. #Posing
The Collapse Pod has tools for breaking and cutting concrete and metal, holding up structures, and more. So fascinating.
Another Collapse Pod photo.
Just thought this was neat. This was with the Collapse Pod, I think!
Peaking inside a pod.
So organized & using every inch of space.
Hey Jessie. (Jessie started HoCo Blogs and now also runs Totally HoCo http://totallyhoco.com/ a free HoCo event site. Check it out.
I like tools.
Another inside look.
Cutting steel. (I got to do that. So awesome!)
Hi Andrew!
#12, the other Transport truck.
Really just included this to show how engaged everyone was. It was really gripping!
Hazmat suit (Hazmat Pod). We were allowed to try it on, but it was so hot out!
I just can’t get over how every bit of space is used so efficiently. It was really impressive.


This is a training building. Trying my hand at being arty. 🙂
Crane operating skills! Yes, I did move that huge, honking concrete barrel. It was kind of like a video game!
This is the crane.
Check out the remote!
Emergency medical pod.
Andrew & I had such a wonderful morning learning and doing. Thank you to HCDFRS for having us.

Follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.

One more note: Another bonus was seeing Fadra Nally at the event – she does special projects for HCDFRS. I didn’t know she was local to me so this was lovely!

Victoria’s Secret

FreeImages.com/Phillip Collier
FreeImages.com/Phillip Collier

Just over 20 years ago, I gave birth to my first child.

Friends and family sent blankets and clothes and bouncy seats and lovely, lovely gifts to welcome our new son. It was truly an outpouring of love.

One friend (who shall remain nameless) sent me a novel to read during labor. I know, right? Yeah, I think I sent it back to her before her first child was born in case her labor was so relaxing that she felt like hunkering down with a war love story. She and I still laugh about it.

But aside from the novel, not many gifts were for me. They were for the baby. Except for the thing my sister sent me.

She sent me a dozen pairs of Victoria Secret underwear. These were not the lacy, racy types. No, they were cotton briefs – not too high cut, not too bikini cut – with a wide elastic, non-binding band. Some were solid, some patterned.

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know what that belly can do to some underthings. Am I right?

So, it was incredible and oh, so awesome to have some spanking new drawers.

Here’s the thing – and the reason I’m writing about this today. I just tossed the last of those panties. That means that they lasted TWENTY YEARS.

Do you have undies that made it in regular rotation for 20 years? That is some staying power. And it speaks to the quality of the goods.

So tomorrow, I’m headed to Victoria Secret to buy some more and I fully expect they’ll last until 2035.

ps: not a sponsored post. totally my own rambling….

Happy Birthday, Andrew

I’m waking up this morning in Vermont. It’s Andrew’s birthday and it’s the 24th of his birthdays we’ve celebrated as a couple, and the first one where we aren’t waking up in the same bed.

I’m headed home tonight, so I won’t miss it completely. But meantime, seems only right to send some birthday love across the Internet.sarahs wedding_3

This photo was not taken on his birthday, actually, but it’s the closest one I can find. It was about a week before he turned 34. Or was it 33. It doesn’t matter. We were young. So young. We were at Sarah & Marc’s wedding, witnessing the beginning of their life together – one that we were honored to see re-committed just a few years back. There we were, looking a bit like characters out of Pretty Woman and daydreaming about where we were headed and if our lives would be intertwined forever. I guess we know the answer to that now.

Happy birthday, Honey. I’ll be home soon.



It’s been an emotional week.
Everything is fine. We’re good. Everyone is healthy. But there is a lot of change afoot.

  • Our middle son is graduating from high school in less than 48 hours.
  • Work is busy. Good, but busy.
  • Patience has been tested.
  • Cars have been in the shop and we’ve been juggling.
  • New jobs have been started.
  • Realizations of deadlines (college med forms!) have been realized & physicals scheduled.
  • Camp is coming and omg we are not prepared.
  • It’s complicated.

It’s all good, but it has all been a bit stressful. So I was wondering, did you know that it’s virtually impossible to cry underwater? Sure, you can have an emotional upheaval. And yes, the rhythmic breathing is interrupted. But there are no tears. Or the cathartic after cry relief. Or (on the positive side) no red nose.

It’s all going to be fine.


Ran into some old friends...

I didn’t go to the Dear Jerry show at Merriweather expecting to see The Dead. Those of us who enjoyed those shows, back in the day, know they can’t be replicated. No, I went to this show because I do really like the songs and I like so many of the artists who were performing.

Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann’s Billy & The Kids, Bob Weir, Allen Toussaint, Buddy Miller, David Grisman, Eric Church, Grace Potter, Greensky Bluegrass, Jimmy Cliff, Jorma Kaukonen, Los Lobos, Moe., O.A.R., Peter Frampton Railroad Earth, The Disco Biscuits, Trampled By Turtles, Widespread Panic, Yonder Mountain String Band And Communion Featuring Phil Lesh, Stu Allen, Grahame Lesh, Ross James, Alex Koford, And Jason Crosby

And I also went – maybe most of all went – because Andrew wanted me to.

Here’s my review in bullet points. I’d elaborate, but I’m very tired (it was way past my bedtime) and I have work to do. But, if I don’t do this now, I won’t do it. So here goes:

  • Beautiful weather and I always love Merriweather. It’s pretty and they have enough bathrooms. And the food doesn’t suck too badly.
  • Our seats were great. I almost got crabby about the guy infringing on my right, but he backed off with the infringing.
  • At one point, I wanted to sit down and needed to nudge him. I said something like, “Feeling old, need to sit a minute. Can you excuse me?” And he replied “Well, for tonight, you’re not old.” and made way for me to sit. I had two thoughts: 1) I walked straight into that ugh and 2) Who says that? I assume he meant get in the flow and feel the youth and energy but what came out was, you can pretend you’re young for a night but, you actually are pretty old.
  • At about the beginning of hour 3, I started to become aggravated with my pavilion neighbors singing badly over the bands.
  • Not everyone sitting near us smelled fresh.
  • O.A.R. was amazing – probably my favorite.
  • Seeing Jimmy Cliff was incredible.
  • Loved Grace Potter on Friend of the Devil.
  • Someone said “Far Out” to me. I had no idea that anyone still said that.
  • If you drop your water bottle on the floor, it’s over. Because there are so many water bottles on the ground, choosing one is like Water Bottle Roulette. I chose to stay parched.
  • It’s fun to get out and do something different – especially smack-dab in the middle of the week. Shakes things up.
  • We saw so many old and new friends. Love those girls in the photo above; some I see semi-regularly. Some? It’s been years.


Set One:

Communion with Phil Lesh: The Wheel > Uncle John’s Band, Standing On The Moon, Liberty
Allen Toussaint with House Band: Get Out Of My Life Woman
David Grisman with House Band & Sam Bush: Shady Grove
Peter Frampton with House Band & Bill Kreutzmann: (I’m A) Roadrunner
Buddy Miller with House Band: Deal
Jorma Kaukonen with House Band: Sugaree
Jimmy Cliff with House Band: The Harder They Come
Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Dave Schools, Bill Kreutzmann & Jimmy Cliff with House Band: Attics Of My Life intro > Fire On The Mountain

Set Two

Billy & The Kids: Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower
Disco Biscuits with Bill Kreutzmann & Tom Hamilton: Scarlet Begonias > I Know You Rider > Scarlet Begonias
moe.: Loser
O.A.R.: St. Stephen

Set Three

Los Lobos with Bob Weir: Not Fade Away > Bertha
Trampled By Turtles: Brown-Eyed Women
Yonder Mountain String Band: Shakedown Street
Bob Weir with House Band: Days Between
Grace Potter, Bob Weir, Matt Burr & House Band: Friend Of The Devil
Eric Church with House Band: Tennessee Jed
Widespread Panic: Morning Dew
Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann & Mickey Hart: Touch Of Grey
Most Of The Evening’s Performers: Ripple

That fresh feeling.

Photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com/profile/sskies
Photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com/profile/sskies

Before we moved to a house with well & septic, I took flushable wipes for granted.

Yes. Let that sit a second.

Okay. So, right, this isn’t exactly dinner table conversation. But, who doesn’t want to feel fresh? As in clean? And sometimes, that toilet tissue just doesn’t do the trick.

Back in my previous life, I snickered at husband#1 for using Tuck’s. I mean seriously…. what 20-something uses Tuck’s? I secretly (or maybe not so secretly… oh my, is this a recognition of my part in the relationship problems?) laughed at this. Don’t even get me started about his desire to take long walks after dinner for digestion reasons. And on that note, don’t ask me about the gas-emissions on said walks. But I digress.

Years later, when the boys were babies, Andrew & I (like most of you) used diaper wipes on our kids. Of course we did. Who doesn’t? But then, then graduated to those toddler diaper wipes.

And you know what? They were awesome. (It’s possible that I used them, too.)

Once the boys were independently handling their bathroom issues, we started buying flushable wipes targeted to adults. (Not Tuck’s mind you.)

But then, we moved from a house with public sewage to a house with well & septic. And now? Those things would totally put a wrench in the system. And so, no more wipes.


At my gym? They have wipes in the bathroom.

I am not suggesting that I have the need at the gym or that I wait to #2 there so I can partake. But…. it reminds me.

I miss my wipes.

Who – really who??? – doesn’t want to feel fresh?

Pie Crust

I’m posting this for my friend Vince. This crust? So easy and always perfect. I’m grateful that Vince asked because I have this recipe on a scrap of paper that I scribbled while watching the video below over and over. Kind of like when we were kids and we’d play the record over and over and write down the words? Ummm, right before the Internet. At any rate, this recipe rocks. One day, I’m going to Brooklyn on a pie field trip.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Crust
Makes dough for double-crust 9- to 10-inch pie

2.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2.5 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 sticks (2 lbs) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup very cold water
4 tablespoons cider vinegar

1. Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl.

2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (don’t overdo it!)

4. Combine the water and cider vinegar & add a little of the water mixture into the flour mixture until it is fully incorporated.

6. Add more of the water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using a bench scraper or your hands (or both) to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining.

7. Bring it together & shape the dough into 2 flat discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.


Sunday night sharing. My head has been full of so many thoughts and I’m having trouble putting it together. So, I’ve decided to share some random thoughts. At least that keeps me writing.

  1. Isn’t this photo beautiful? It’s from a site called Little Visuals with photos from a young man who named Nic who died suddenly at 26. I’m really drawn to his photos.
  2. I started listening to the Love + Radio podcast. The first two I heard were amazing and the third was not. Deciding whether to keep listening.
  3. Speaking of podcasts, I heard this on Invisiblia and I keep thinking about it. I’m not there, yet. Still trying to get my arms around: Fear = thinking + time
  4. We don’t have a doorbell.
  5. I don’t like really windy days (like today). I didn’t mind heavy winds when I was little, but a friend told me years and years ago (in the 1970’s) about his fears and I totally absorbed it.
  6. Having all my boys together last week was so nice.
  7. We went to Hersh’s last night with friends we hadn’t seen for a while and the food and company were perfect.
  8. I have a speaking thing coming up that I’m really excited about. More later.
  9. We bought vintage dining room chairs – the same chair but from 2 different sources – that we’ll have upholstered to all match. It’s thrilling and I love them. Pix when they’re done.
  10. Sunday nights are my favorite. So quiet. So nice. Except that the work week starts again tomorrow, which is a bummer. Of course, this implies I didn’t work over the weekend (which isn’t true) but the pressure and pace are just different. Note: I love my work. But I do love the weekends!
  11. I just wanted to end on a weird number. Good night!