Snowfall

Another snowstorm hit the northeast over the weekend, thus successfully closing schools and granting teachers and students a five-day weekend.  Wahoo!  Teachers are not known for laziness during their days off.  No siree!  I’ve built a kickass Paladin deck in the Hearthstone Beta, leveled my ranger to level 30 in Guild Wars, cleaned my room of excess clothes, filled my room with books, watched the excellent Lego Movie, and beat ‘Ganon’ in Link between Two Worlds.  Many of my students’ papers still need . . . correcting, but considering that I’ve accomplished so much I can afford to give myself the day off.  Oh, and I also managed to engage in some amateur photography as well.  At night no less.  ‘Cause let’s face it, I’m a badass.  Continue reading

Fire and Ice

As I sit and write, the teachers in the science department are jamming out, banging their heads to Pink Floyd’s “Brick in the Wall.” Besides the obvious irony — my coworkers practically screamed ‘Teacher, leave those kids alone!’ — those students that have dropped by wrinkle their noses as if they caught us cooking chocolate-covered crickets.

Winter proves a difficult time for school.  Too little snow yields a figurative eternity between Christmas and Spring Break, while too much and you may as well cancel your summer holidays.  All in all, I’d to stay indoors by the fire with a good book and a pot of tea, a schedule broken only by my writing, gaming, napping, and jogging to the bathroom — all that tea, you know.

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This Little Job of Mine

The first day of our Disney vacation (as appose to our ‘road trip vacation,’ ‘St. Augustine vacation’ or ‘cabernet-induced vacation’) found Tropical Storm Debbie hovering over our resort like a large fly buzzing a particularly spacious picnic.  Other families may feel flummoxed by the gloomy weather, bolting themselves inside until the sun should emerge to chase away the gloom to some other, less entertaining state . . . like Ohio, but the Murphey clan does not shrink from natural calamities.  We simply bought a quiver of over-priced Disney umbrellas and trod to the local cinema . . . like men! Continue reading

Pit Stop

Okay, sooooo . . .  for the next week or so the Fam and I will be traversing through Orlando and Disney, sowing havoc in our wake like a pretty girl at an anime convention.  During this interim, I’m temporarily transforming the Pub into a photoblog, detailing our adventures like a children’s picture book with as few ‘writing’ as I can manage.  For some of you, who never really enjoyed ‘reading’ anyway (I’m looking at you Brigid), this will prove a chance to visit my blog again; for others, a chance to criticize my poor photography skills.

The take-home message: everyone wins. Continue reading

The God of Rain

By Thursday even I was tired of the rain. The storm continued its assault on the Maryland for the fifth day in a row; by Wednesday torrents of water formed rapids out of what were once community roadways. Old Ellicott City several miles away had nearly been washed clean, houses and all. The Murphey household suffered a few nights without any internet, crippling many of the kids’ online assignments. Katie swelled with anxiety at the lost of her Facebook, while Ryan scooped an extra pint of ice cream and flipped on a few Errol Flynn swashbucklers I had tucked away in the basement.

Typically, the sound of the rain pelting the roof, a cup of warm coffee and a few dozen books negated any impending disasters, but as flood water cascaded through the trees from neighboring plots flooding our small pond and plugging our sewage pump, I began to worry. Newly christened 4×4’s, stacked carefully some weeks prior near the barn, floated off into the mounting surge, never to be seen or heard from again.

If only the chicken coop would have made a similar escape, I thought to myself, pressing a handkerchief to my nose. God, I can smell them here! Actually, the stench from the sewage tank had already engulfed most of the basement and threatened to ruin lunch, when my cousin Paul woke from his mid-morning nap. While finding a new job, babysitting has become my new occupation of choice, and I agreed to watch Paul while his mother did some errands.

After an intense session of PB&J, we sat in an alcove in the family’s “Man Room” – our new addition that because of its beautiful wood flooring and dark mahogany cabinets was absconded by the house’s females, who replaced the sport’s memorabilia with baskets and ‘antique’ washboards (That’s right! You can make something too good!) – and watched the brown waters cascade down our neighbors hills. One of our boats slid from fence into the flood; skeletal tree limbs emerged from the depths of the pond scratched the boat’s hull like drowned corpses; the dog left its shelter and barked as the craft disappeared into the woods. Continue reading

West Coastin’: From L.A. with Love

“The one you said was haunted?”

So having arrived in California, our first task was to get lost.  For some reason the roads leading into Disney and thus the hotel had been blocked by the Anaheim police department.  We circled the block several times, analyzing the various routes, double-checking our GPS, wondering if our room had somehow exploded and left us lodge-less for the remaining week.  On our third try, the cop moved off, allowing traffic through; Dasad and I looked at each other, shrugged, and drove on to the Disney Paradise Pier Hotel.

Upon checking in, we discovered a gas leak had closed the street when a gaggle of construction worker busied themselves with repairs at the resort.  Our concierge assured us nothing was amiss and although flammable material spewed onto the road, we were perfectly safe.  After nearly seven hours in flight and nearly one attempting to enter the resort, I would not have cared had they admitted digging for uranium with dynamite.

Now before delving into the details of our travels, I want to say something about California weather.  In Maryland, humidity can sap nearly all of one’s energy, leaving one lethargic and crawling toward the nearest air conditioner like a drowning man clawing at the sea breeze.  Yet on the West Coast, sunshine and blue skies dissipate morning fog each and every day and nearly constant breezes found us rolling down windows and anticipating long walks through nearby shops and gardens.  It’s no wonder that many of the environmental reforms stemmed from the Californian coastline; with the constant seasonal threat of humidity, hurricanes, blizzards, and floods, East Coasters have a love/hate relationship with Mother Nature, at times indifferent to whether she’s healthy or near-death.

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Salad Segregation

. . . like optical illusions and car commercials.

. . . like optical illusions and car commercials.

It was all a very odd day to begin with. The strange thing is that oddity flows more from the details not the larger issues. Wars shock but they don’t surprise us. Yet if you discover the lady standing next to you had worn her blouse on backward or worn two left shoes, then your eyes might blink and stare like an optical  illusion which you can’t quite figure or a car commercial.

The morning had began quite blustery. The kind of weather that brings storms and fells trees, that sends trash cans rolling into traffic like sage in old Westerns, the kind of wind that uproots homes and small children, catapulting them to far lands atop old wizened women. I removed my coat and soaked in the Zephyrs like sunshine.

Up the road I passed a man donning the green-copper robes of Lady Liberty, trying hard to stay upright. The bearded monument had traded in his tablet for a large cardboard arrow, inscribed with ‘Tax Service,’ which he would twirl every now and then for the benefit of his mobile highway audience. Yet with every twirl the arrow caught the wind, pulling the robed mascot like a large kite, his long beard tangled among his thorny crown.

Further on, plastic ads for SAT classes and law firms once staked deep into the earth before the winter thaw, wobbled and teetered in the breeze, hanging onto its terrestrial station by metal threads. Nearby road signs bowed and bent by the winds, warn any falling aircraft to yield and stop before colliding with the ground.

"I hate segregation of any kind"

"I hate segregation of any kind"

For some reason the day started out well until it came time to checkout. The lady behind me in line quickly positioned the plastic divider between her lettuce and frozen orange juice and my milk jugs and a small vial of cumin without even glancing up from her cart. I never appreciated segregation on any level even among fellow produce; thus her actions irked me some. Had my wares been more abundant (today was a rare occasion) I would have understood. Typically we aim for art, piling our boxes and bags in strange orientations in order to recreate something by Rodin or the Empire State Building. We cast a spell to keep it all stable . . . until our backs are turned: apples rolling off boxes of Fruity Pebbles into another shopper’s mountain of cheese and hemorrhoid crème. Yet my small troop of spices and low fat milk posed no threat of invasion, no cause for rowdy mixers with another man’s fruit and salsa dip. “Good fences make good strangers,” she might lecture if I considered protesting.

Walking outside bags in hand, clouds drift silently across the sky like German zeppelins, ready to bomb the planet with ice and snow. The setting sun blew sparks on their hydrogen-filled sacs; I nearly walked into a yellow Beetle waiting for the explosion. Near the horizon, swarms of fleeing birds hop from tree to tree as if feeding off skeletal fingers, reaching for the sky in prayer or supplication.

I got in my car. Surprisingly the lady had parked her Yukon beside me. While I edged backwards, she slipped in and opened her door, blocking my mirror while she buckled and checked fumbled with her keys. I waited. Once the door closed, I sped off. Enough distance makes good fences too and when cars fail to properly segregate can lead to major health risks and damaged groceries.