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Signs of Spring!


Spot the bee. [Wildlife photography at its finest!]


Another thrilling action shot.


The birds are also feeling festive, even this normally melancholic raven.


Every year right about this time, people ask me, "How much longer until the start of Porch Season?" And I answer, "It depends on when I get back from South Beach." Because prior to Porch Season there's usually a trip to South Florida. This year no such trip has materialized, sadly, and I'm really upset that I won't have a chance to sit in the sun and blog poolside (sympathizing with those back north who are enduring ice storms and so forth).

Because the weather in DC has turned mild and springlike, there will be some antsy-pants types who will prematurely declare Porch Season already open. I think not. The prudent abjure premature porching. Which is not to say that I won't be out there later today just checking out the facility and making some mental notes for the true opening. It will get cold again this week, but, according to the 10-day forecast, we'll have another unusually warm spell right around the 11th and 12th of March -- dates that, historically, are appropriate for the official Porch Season opening.

I'm predicting the afternoon of the 11th.

[Original Porch Season online Rough Draft column of March 12, 2001 posted after the jump.]

Porch Season

By J.A.

There's no moment more sublime, more refreshing to the spirit, than the opening of Porch Season.

This is an event below the radar of the calendar, unrecognized by the government, still unexploited by corporate profiteers. It usually happens without warning, while you're taking out the trash or exiling a cat. You suddenly realize that the porch has opened for business, that the porch is awake, out of its winter hibernation, that you can now sit on the porch and do porchy things and it will feel every bit as dynamic and flamboyant and thrilling as skiing or sailing.

Those unfamiliar with porching may wonder what, exactly, you do on a porch. Simple: You sit there. Then you sit there some more. You are in repose. You are declaring to the world that you are engaged in the act of sitting on your porch. You cannot be rushed, hectored, annoyed. You have all the ambition of a begonia.

To know that Porch Season has arrived you must rely on your direct sensory experience of the world. You might notice buds on the trees. You'll register the fact that twilight is lingering into what used to be the dark of night. Close your eyes and you'll smell the soil warming up, the juices flowing in the vegetable matter, the bulbs firing green blades skyward. You can hear birds reading each other the riot act. Sit on the porch long enough and you'll see the world is full of dramatic action.

Not everyone has the same knack for sitting on the porch. Those of us with unusual porching skill can run the risk of becoming porch bores, of talking so much about porches, about the relative merits of back and front porches, about the romance of balconies and the elitism of decks, that no one will want to be around us. I can't help it: I'm one of those people who can porch 'til the cows come home. (I know what you're thinking: Is he good at EVERYTHING???)

As regular readers of Rough Draft are aware, my entire life is built around astronomical events -- solstices, eclipses, planetary alignments, supernovas, the retrogression of Mars, etc. My firstborn has endured the derision of her classmates because of her unusual name, Vernal Equinox Achenbach. What I should stress is that this kind of adherence to astronomy does not completely replace a more normal, down-to-earth lifestyle, which is to say, one that is shaped by humidity, temperature and barometric pressure. These things are best measured on a porch, at dawn; no one should start the day without first calibrating one's physical and emotional response to the elements du jour.

The porch is neither inside nor outside. It is, rather, a "liminal" space, a boundary zone. I learned this from my neighbor Mike Dolan, who's writing a book on porches for Lyons Press. He rebuilt his own porch, upon which Porch Season, by his personal calculation, opened one afternoon on February 20.

A porch, Dolan says, "Is the outside rendered inside and the inside rendered outside. It's still your house, but it's in the public sphere."

As such, sitting on the front porch is an essentially social act, he explains. This, no doubt, explains why so many front porches, particularly in fancy-pants suburban neighborhoods, are empty. People are too busy to be social. I'll confess: I have two porches and prefer the back to the front. I use the front porch only when I'm feeling social and have prepared a list of all-purpose entertaining remarks for use in a conversational emergency.

Aversion to the public sphere may be one reason that the deck has become an architectural mainstay. A deck is in the back of the house. Ideally it will have a giant umbrella, a hot tub, chairs and furniture made from the finest endangered hardwood species, and a gas grill that costs as much as a Mercedes and can cook a hot dog in less than a second. Deck people -- deckheads, I call them -- think a porch is too downmarket. They walk onto someone's porch and instantly think, "This needs a deck."

There was a time when a person sat on a porch without any self-consciousness at all. That's just what people did, especially down South. There's a moment in "An Hour Before Daylight," the new book by Jimmy Carter (kids, don't believe this urban myth that he was once the president), in which he talks about the visibility of the residents of rural Georgia:

"One difference between then and now, I guess, was that there was usually someone out in the yard, the store, the garden, or a nearby field who was watching the passing scene. Really old people, those who were not feeling well, and able-bodied folks on rainy days or on Sundays were most often sitting on their front porches. When we passed someone's house, we felt somewhat uncomfortable if we didn't see anyone there with whom we could exchange a wave or a hello."

We shouldn't make a virtue out of a painful necessity. People didn't have air-conditioning in their homes; many didn't have cars. The porch was one of the few places they could be comfortable. That said, it's easy to see that technology and affluence have made a casualty of porching.

Entire neighborhoods now seem empty for much of the day. You drive around and think: Where the heck is everybody? The mall? The grocery store? Soccer practice? Are they hiding out in the basement? Has something terrible happened to them? Did they disappear into the online world and lose their way out?

The world would be better if everyone settled down on the porch and didn't move for a while. And if you don't have a porch, you can always pretend. Ninety-five percent of porching is in your head anyway.

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 3, 2008; 11:09 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: William F. Buckley Jr.
Next: The Permanent Campaign


I cannot possibly be first.


Posted by: bc | March 3, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

That has got to be the coolest-looking fake raven ever. Is it to scare off less stylish birds? Or varmints? Or simply to make the world a more beautiful place.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 3, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm thinking the first two pics could be part of a series entitled "Prelude to unanticipated Anaphylactic shock"

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 3, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Happy Yokirama, everyone!

dr, all the best in your time of new directions.

Election day here. The spontaneous outpouring of support for Our Leader was cancelled due to some un-spring-like weather.

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 3, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Happy Beeday Yoki!

Posted by: Boko999 | March 3, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Happy Spring. Our snow has stopped. Yesterday I had two little crocuses (croci?) (crocs? oh, no, those have teeth) similar to the ones so evocatively photographed above. I also had two full daffodils, which I picked before the hail. There were another handful almost ready to bloom; I'll see whether they made it this evening.

Didn't see any bees yesterday, but it was warm enough for one very groggy wasp.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 3, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

The first sign of spring has most surely arrived in the G house... ants!

Posted by: TBG | March 3, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I see a small flower at the bottom of that Raven, how big is that bird, and are those Halloween lights on the bird?

Posted by: dmd | March 3, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Happy b-day, Yoki!

How will you celebrate? :-)

Posted by: dbG | March 3, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Quoth the Raven "Nevermore"

nevermore to the cold of winter

nevermore to ice and snow that splinter

put away the shovel,the ice scraper ,the sled

think about flowers,blossoms and warmth in my head

after months of cold,a warm day is such a beautiful thing

but wait,it is just March third,just a little bit to early,to be Spring

But it sure is nice to think about

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 3, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for all the good wishes, friends.

How will I celebrate? I'm getting my hair cut at a place I cannot afford more than twice a century, and I'm thinking about getting some fake fingernails, but that is so unlike me I may lose my nerve.

Then all the family plus some friends are coming out to my favourite restaurant here in town. I think (hope) that will be followed by a chocolate raspberry cake from a fine bakery. All good fun.

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Hi Yoki.

Hey everyone, take a look up top. Some new text magically appeared.

Posted by: omni | March 3, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't the trip to Montana provide an adequate substitute for South Florida? True, you were surrounded by ice and snow. But hey, it was a trip, there was sun, you blogged - and can still gloat at the folks back home who suffered through storms while you were gone.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 3, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - go for the fake fingernails, I had them once in my life - also, like you, totally unlike me but it was fun for a while.

Posted by: dmd | March 3, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Montana qualifies as honorary South Florida, except the Montanans resemble the denizens of Prairie Home Companion.

Nice crocuses. I recall planting about 8 pounds of the little bulbs in Portland, then worrying about squirrels. Fortunately, the critters never seem to have figured out the bulbs are yummy.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 3, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I recall reading somewhere that March marks the beginning of "meteorological spring," which is when the weather starts to become springlike even if our celestial coordinates mandate that it still be considered winter. Be it spring or winter I can confirm from my lunchtime walk that, indeed, porching time is nigh.

I don't actually have a porch. I have a deck. A deck that is oddly shaped because the original owners were trying to avoid a cherished apple tree. Which promptly died from some horrible arboreal disease soon after we moved in.

Which was okay in one sense because my wife is terrified of bees, which apple trees tend to attract. There's no risk of allergic reaction or anything, she simply has an irrational fear of small buzzing insects.

Which makes me secretly wonder what really happened to that tree.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 3, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I added that Porch Season column from a ways back. I couldn't find it anywhere on the Web, because deleted all the old online columns. Had to dig it out of internal archives.

Posted by: Achenbach | March 3, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Loved that column then and I love it now. Wow. March 2001. Another world.

Here is a pseudo repost from a couple years ago. (The boodle is going onto reruns. Scary.)

Long ago, I lived in a townhouse. At the time my son was but a wee baby who liked to go to bed early. After we would put the dear lad down for the night, my wife and I would sit on the front steps of our home sipping wine and enjoying the fading light.

We would watch the neighbors walk by pushing strollers and being tugged by large dogs. We would notice when people purchased new automobiles. Based on the stuff placed by the curb we would speculate endlessly about the intimate personal lives of the newlyweds who lived a few blocks over. Life was good.

Things have gotten much more complex since then. We now live in a big house full of constant chaos. Quiet moments are rare. One day I hope to recapture the pleasures of the front steps. Perhaps when the children are off sitting on front steps of their own.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 3, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"The prudent abjure premature porching." Ah, so true, so true. Words to live by. However, according to my desktop thermometer, it is already up to 65 here on the banks of the balmy Anacostia ("Flow, though Mighty River, flow! And deposit the silt of thy byways into the Mightier-still Potomac!" -- Vernal Equinox Longfellow, 1832-1896). That being so, one can hardly be blamed for a bit of premature evacuation (so to speak) to the porch.

FYI, "Melancholy Raven" is NOT, repeat, NOT available as a Boodle handle. Neither is Feral Goat ("Feral Goat: The Other White Meat"). Govern yourselves accordingly.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"because deleted all the old online columns."

Say it ain't so! The fiends! The dastardly fiends!

I shall have to speak harshly to someone about this.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Not to be churlish, but if we can stand one more epipanizing economium on the late Mr. Buckley, here is a fellow silver spoon conservative Bill Kristol describing WFB as "an indispensable figure in the last half-century of American history." Sounds like the opening line of a Gilbert and Sullivan parody.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 3, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

My HS biology teacher had a speech impediment that caused him to speak like Elmer Fudd: "In the spring the crocuses reemerge from overwintering when hormones cause stems and leaves to grow from the underground root." Now say that like EF. Biology was a year long course with a Regents exam at the end. We also had a landlord with thet same problem: "Here's the contract, boys. Read it. And don't think that I'm trying to screw you." Repeat the above excercise. It was hard not to laugh when he answered the phone.

Posted by: jack | March 3, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the thumbs up, dmd. I think I will.

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

No Mudge, out here in West by god it is Possum"the other white meat" and unfortunately you can usually pick up a couple along any roadside.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 3, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Salmon: The Other Pink Meat

"If it smells like fish, make it a dish,
"If it smells like cologne, leave it alone."

Posted by: Anonymous | March 3, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

speaking of signs of spring 9/10

only three guesses

Posted by: omni | March 3, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

How can one resist-

"The Impressive Clergyman: Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam... And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva... So tweasure your wuv.
Prince Humperdinck: Skip to the end.
The Impressive Clergyman: Have you the wing?
The Impressive Clergyman: ...and do you,Pwincess Buwwercup...
Prince Humperdinck: Man and wife. Say man and wife.
The Impressive Clergyman: Man an' wife. "

Posted by: K:LOTD | March 3, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, am wondering how that bird earned those Mardi Gras beads.


Posted by: bc | March 3, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse


Many happy returns of the day, Yoki. Go nuts, as Error would say.

Porching! My colonial porch is too small; perhaps it is a stoop. But a patio might be closer to a porch than a deck for no logical reason I can grab at the moment.

Shall bike today; and perhaps eat the first ice cream outdoors of the season.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 3, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

8/10 on the quiz.

The Raven got those beads in the usual way. He showed them these-

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 3, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, meant to link to this-

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 3, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

You live long enough, eventually some of the stuff comes in handy.

Posted by: nellie | March 3, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

ah yes, The Porch... saves me from the mosquitoes on the deck out back... great for people watching and enjoying dessert on a warm summer evening! but what about screened in porches or winterized ones... hmmmm! is it worth the bother?

Posted by: Miss Toronto | March 3, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

This Miami Herald article (by Georgia Tasker, our gardening reporter) reminded me of the A-blog, and today's kit reminded me of the article again:


Want to become a citizen scientist and help track climate change?

Take a notebook and pencil on a walk around the block or your own backyard and look for the first new flower on the shaving brush tree or the first open amaryllis or the first flowers on the live oak. Write down the name and the date.

Click on Project Budburst ( and enter your findings. You'll join thousands of others across the country who are recording the first buds to open, the first leaves to unfurl this spring. Your data will be used by atmospheric and climate scientists, botanists and ecologists who want your help in tracking signs of change.

Posted by: kbertocci | March 3, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Miss Toronto!! LTNS!! *quick-before-resubmerging-into-the-morass-known-as-work Grover waves*


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 3, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

6/10 on the Spring Quiz.

There's a great scene in Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" where they meet Eostre of the Dawn and all the little kids have no idea that they are keeping a pagan fertility goddess alive.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 3, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Hi everyone.

Glad to hear the S'nukes had a great time. I think "wicked pissah" says it all.

Yoki- Happy, happy birthday! That is so funny because I recently had the f-word birthday (still can't say it OR spell it) and that's exactly what I did. I went out and got fake nails for the first time in my life. It's been fun, but it's one more thing to have to DO when I have to get them re-done, so I'm letting them go now. I went to a fancy-schmancy wedding last Saturday and decided that was that.

68 degrees here and delightful. Our little girl magnolia should be completely in flower by the end of the week. That's when I know spring is here. We've got a porch in front and a patio in back and we are ready!

Posted by: Kim | March 3, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse


Porching season for me is really hammock season. We don't have any neighbors to greet as they pass, but the concept of letting the outdoors unfold is there.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 3, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

kbertocci, Georgia Tasker is a fantastic resource. I appreciate her perspectives on the inevitability of hurricane damage.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 3, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse


Yesterday we had a wee trace of spring here in WI. It was 46 and I was out in a t-shirt removing the ice sheet from my driveway. It was glorious and an excellent way to channel negative emotions.

Last spring we had the decrepit porch that came with the house remodelled into a 3-season porch. On a sunny winter day you can almost bear to sit on out for a few minutes and enjoy the sunlight.
Unfortunately, the porch is crowded with winter accessories, ranges between damp and frozen, and provides an uninteresting and depressing view of our snow covered back yard. Even our stir-crazy cats only come out to verify that there is still nothing interesting to see and then run back inside.

Posted by: MadisonMama | March 3, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Thinking only wistfully of porches here in Mpls, windchill this morning of 8 below. Some rain yesterday that froze onto the deck stairs making the dog say, "yeah, I don't think I'll be climbing back up those" (he got *down* OK, you'd think that would be the scary part). The snow on the deck has melted, that's a good sign, but we still have March in front of us so I assume that's only temporary. But it's great here, really.

Posted by: sbw | March 3, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Dave, the thing I like about Georgia, the gardening reporter, is that she's married to Fred, the wine reporter. Seems like they might have a nice life, eh?

Happy birthday, Yoki, and the same, belatedly, to Kim. I'll chime in because my birthday that dare not speak its name is coming up and one of the things I have planned for the aftermath is my first professional manicure. Yes, that's right, I survived a half century trimming and filing my own nails. Believe it or not.

Posted by: kbertocci | March 3, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

spring has brought me out of hibernation Scottynuke :)... 6/10, pretty good for guessing most of them... wouldn't ya say?

Posted by: Miss Toronto | March 3, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, and Kim, merry birthdays to both of you.

I've a question of utmost importance to ask. Is it legitimate porching if the porch is heated by an outdoor deck heater. With heat our porching season approaches reasonable. Without heat, we just give up and call it the month without curling.

Posted by: dr | March 3, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Er... Ground report for Pat etc.

Seven crocuses
Purple and white-wrapped saffron
Raided by two bees.

Pale wings on petals;
Gold loot busily stripped off
In dark striped shadows.

I and II.
Ineffable mulch
Mighty trees, faint grass, brief flowers
Collasped in brown nests

Metal green-blue wire
Wrapped, cast into raven shape
Guards flowery haven.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 3, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

It's Joel's call, not mine to make, DR, but if I was voting, I'd give all you Canuckistanis special dispensation to use porch/deck heaters if necessary. It's all in the spirit of the thing, right? If that's what you need in order to porch sucessfully, go for it.

Did I miss Kim's birthday? I'm abashed. Appalled. Happy birthday, Kim.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it interesting that so many of us celebrate or plan to a big birthday with a manicure. Is that simply because it is something we *don't* do normally, and so festive? Or is it something about this particular birthday that begins in 5 and ends in O that makes us feel like being especially pampered?

Since, as you know, I look fabulous, it can't be that is the last cosmetic touch that we can pull off!

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it's the realization that you're finally an adult and can do whatever you want to, no matter how silly, Yoki :).

Have fun taking out some "me" time; with your busy family and work it sounds like you need it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 3, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

7/10. I got the ones I care about.
It's a nice day here too. The jogger ran by, can the robins be far behind?
Cute tits.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 3, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"so many of us celebrate or plan to a big birthday with a manicure"

That's because you're all so talon-ted.

Sorry. I couldn't help myself. It's a curse.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I've had two professional manicures. They were both very nice, but the longest lasted about 17 hours. Then it was back to no polish and my own clippers. Perhaps a manicure at 50 is a declaration - your life is finally enough your own that you can have nice nails.

I think some of the attraction of the professional manicure is sitting there, essentially at rest, while someone else does something to you which makes you feel pampered. We are blessed with an excellent dentist, so I get that feeling twice a year when my teeth are cleaned and checked. It lasts longer than my manicures, too.

MadisonMama,sbw, all Canuckistanis, hang in there. It is winter again here after yesterday's spring, but we know it is lurking. And howdy Miss Toronto!

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 3, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, the very happiest of Birthdays to you.

And remember, you're still 800-some-odd years younger than Mudge.

And he *never* looked as good as you.


Posted by: bc | March 3, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Kim if I didn't wish you a happy birthday previously, please accept my belated best wishes.


Posted by: bc | March 3, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Now, bc, I'm told he looked most fetching as Yum-Yum in one of the original amateur renditions of The Mikado. Of course, it was a 5-hour pancake and corset job to prepare...

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 3, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

9/10. One of the times when "ancient pagan rituals" was NOT the answer. Go figure.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 3, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

7/10: Lack of knowledge regarding mythology and Indian culture. Cool link, kb. I can't imagine writing the computer code that will create sense from the data.

Posted by: jack | March 3, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

... well, happy birthday to all of you March babes!! I celebrated a big birthday last summer and of course, had my first manicure. LOL.

I was under the naive impression that I could "do it better"... but alas, I can't compete with that fancy micro-toolkit they use! ... and I got to watch Mr. Bean while I waited. So, it wasn't all that bad!

... the woman also painted a couple of flowers on my thumb nails for $5 extra. Don't forget to ask for the little extras!

Posted by: Miss Toronto | March 3, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Happy, Happy, Birthday, Yoki. Enjoy your special day.

Happy, Happy, Birthday, Kim. I hope your day is all you want it to be.

It is so warm here. I think the temp is around 75. Feels good.

Ivansmom, glad you and family are safe. We're expecting some rough weather starting tomorrow.

Great pictures, JA. And the kit is adorable. Don't see too many people sitting on porches now. And you are so right, in the South, porches and people were everywhere. On Sunday, after church and lots of food, the porch was the next activity.

Posted by: cassandra s | March 3, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Holy Crap! Prime Minister Harper has sued Liberal leader Dion for libel. Dion made the mistake of saying the same thing inside and outside of the House of Commons, where it's considered rude to call a liar a liar. Harper has doubled down here and no matter how this works out there'll be hours of entertainment.
See? Canadians know how to make their own fun.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 3, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I celebrate birthdays as an epicure, m'self... :-)

*wistfully listening to Jeff Healey's "Hideaway"*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 3, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

dr, from approximately the start of JA's Porch Season until approximately the 24th of April we have Torch Season with outdoor heaters assumed.

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 3, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Excellent point, bc (re: your 3:10).

Wilbrod, I had so much pancake on me for that role I was listed simply as "Bisquick" in the Playbill.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Even though I spent 7 years on NoVA I must admit that I do not have a handle on southern porches. Not that I mean to imply that NoVA is southern. :)
Is porching an enclosed sport?

Here in WI, especially in my 1/2 block off the water locale, indoor porches are, I think, the rule for several reasons.
1) You get an extra critter-free freezer/refrigerator in the winter.
2) A place to de-snow before entering the house all winter long
3) In the summer, a nice place to get fresh air and sunlight without being eaten alive by voracious mosquitos.

I don't remember a single mosquito the entire time I lived in various parts of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties. I miss that and the early springs.

Posted by: MadisonMama | March 3, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

It is currently a lovely 13C/55F and sunny afternoon here so imagine my surprise when a red lightning bolt starts flashing on my computer. Sure enough we are facing yet another winter weather warning.®ion=wwcaon0029&ref=wxeyealerts


Posted by: dmd | March 3, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh, MadisonMama... we've got mosquitos and gnats a-plenty. In fact, my parents' 2nd-floor-level screened porch didn't have a solid floor... just decking, so at night the mosquitos would come up between the slats, following the light.

What's the point of a screened porch if it doesn't leave the eeny beeny critters outside?

Screening in our deck is a dream of mine. Sigh.

RD.. I miss the camaraderie of the townhouse stoop, too. We moved from our townhouse to the first single-family house around the corner... same neighborhood, practically same street, but we NEVER see our old neighbors. Sitting on the stoop with Baby Son of G and watching all the neighbors come home and all the kids playing was just heaven.

I guess moving "up" in the world certainly has its disadvantages.

Posted by: TBG | March 3, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Can't believe no one has mentioned the other sure sign of Spring--the arrival of the Girl Scouts cookies order. I'm all for porches--my paternal grandparents had a great screened-in front porch across the front of the house. Great for being out in a rain storm without getting (too)wet.

My materal grandfather had a house up in New York that was on the grounds of the training exercise area for the West Point cadets (He was a security ranger, and the house came with the job). The porch wasn't too big, but it was cool when they were doing manuvers and the tanks would clatter up and down the road. One summer, a pair of barn swallows built a nest up in the inside corner of the porch roof. That was neat.

Only drawback to porching around here is the skeeters. We have a side porch on our house that would be nice to use more, but sit there for 15 minutes and you are definitly dinner! Yeah, the Off helps, but it's a bit of a bother just the same.

Posted by: ebtnut | March 3, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Thermometer here just kicked over to 70. Amazing. And it's windy as all git-out out there.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

EBT, I tend to associate Girl Scout Cookies more with February and miserable cold weather, because that's usually when they come around (at least in my neck of the woods).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Torch Season it is. Nice SoC.

The natural gas torch is due to arrive in a week or so, and the R household fully expects to be doing silly things outside long before we normally do silly things outside.

Posted by: dr | March 3, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

To quote Frog and Toad, 'spring is just around the corner,' and you know it has arrived when you start noticing RHUBARB recipes.

Rhubarb Bread and Butter Pudding

(Makes 6 - 8 servings


1 pound red rhubarb
4 tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted
12 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
4 extra large free-range eggs, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon extra sugar, for sprinkling on top of pudding

Softly whipped cream

A deep 8-inch square or round baking dish
A water bath or roasting pan
Cut the rhubarb into 1-inch pieces. Put into a dish and sprinkle with sugar. Let macerate for an hour.

Butter the bread. Arrange four slices, buttered-side down, in one layer in the buttered baking dish. Scatter half the rhubarb over the bread, and cover with another layer of bread, buttered-side down. Scatter the remaining rhubarb on top and cover with the remaining bread, buttered-side down.

Whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer over the bread. Sprinkle the extra spoonful of sugar over the top. Let the mixture stand, covered loosely, for at least 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake in a water bath -- the water should be boiling and should come halfway up the sides of the baking dish -- in the middle of the preheated oven, for about 1 hour or until the top is crisp and golden. Server the pudding warm, with some softly whipped cream.

Courtesy of Darina Allen via, who says,"don't cut down on the cream, and don't use too much bread."

Posted by: Maggie O'D | March 3, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday to all the boodle old bags, er, I mean lovely, senior citizens. It's my wifes bd, too. I'm in enough trouble with her for things that I won't mention in public. So, I won't be calling her an old bag. At least not in the near future.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | March 3, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I was in San Diego in July and they had the torches on for the patio dining in the gaslight district. It all depends on how fast things cool off at night.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 3, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Oh, jeez. First it was rhubarb. Then it was doilies and knitting. Now we're back to rhubarb.


Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

At least we're not comparing rhubarb sizes, Mudge. Our rhubarb is still under around 7 inches of snow, so don't make me jealous. (You'll regret it).

I had ice cream the other day and I was really slavering for strawberry-rhubarb sauce to put on it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 3, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

My favorite rhubarb is the Turbo XK-58.

Posted by: TBG | March 3, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

That is NOT to be confused with the Disturbo-XL-96, TBG.

That's one dangerous rhubarb to grow... not only does it take over the yard, it clips your hedges and has been known to devour small dogs and cats. And there's the odd report of gardeners reporting that the wind through its leaves make an oddly manical laughter-like buzz.

Of course, they usually wound up in the hospital on freak gardening accidents and refused to talk and denied it all when agricultural inspectors tried to follow up.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 3, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh, jeez, Wilbrod, please don't tell me that when it comes to rhubarb, size matters.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Signs of spring??? I've got a sign of autumn for you - today's the first day I've worn long sleeves since December. Woe is me, I'm gonna miss summer.

Posted by: kiwi | March 3, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, the older the violin the sweeter the music, says Augustus MacCrae.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 3, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Happy happy birthday Yoki. I have a similar story to TLF's, during my 50th year I met "S." Of course that's also the year I got divorced and #1 daughter got married. It was busy but productive and it didn't leave me any time to feel bad about the big five oh.

We had dinner on the porch yesterday. Of course it's more of a 3 season sunroom and it will be a while before we can be out there after the sun goes down. But it's nice to think about.

#2 daughter is finally attempting to set a wedding date (in October). This should be interesting. The bad news is that they are planning to move to Costa Rica for good after the wedding. I am not happy, but it's not my life and she claims she'll come home every summer for a few months. I am already feeling a bit of an ache inside but I know I've been fortunate to have her in the area for this long. I thought she'd go off somewhere right after college, she had wanderlust back then.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | March 3, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm jealous! Here in NH we've still got piles of snow.

Posted by: Kat with a K | March 3, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse


If I had world enough and time, I would reread every word of Lonesome Dove. I loved every word of it, including 'and' and 'the.' Who was it who first said, 'some many books, so little time?'

Posted by: Maggie O'D | March 3, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh thank you for the birthday wishes, very nice, but the day was back in the first of January. I didn't say anything about it at the time because for a few days before and a few days after, I was in a fetal position on the couch drinking wine out of a straw.

No, not really, I'm very lucky, in great health (knock on wood), great kids and hubby and I've got a very sweet life, it's just, as bc so eloquently puts it,


Posted by: Kim | March 3, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Maggie, _Lonesome Dove_is so under-rated, but is a true American novel. My dad is Augustus MacCrae, really. The book and Movie _The Last Picture Show_ are also under-rated.

But I can spin on a dime and settle in with a good Georgette Heyer or Barbara Pym any time.

I also really like A.S. Byatt's four part series about the Potter family from Yorkshire:
The Virgin in the Garden (1978)
Still Life (1985)
Babel Tower (1996)
A Whistling Woman (2002).

I fall into McMurtry's Lonesome Dove community and the Potters of Byatt hook, line, and sinker. I feel them to be relatives and I never tire of reading.

I adore Jane Austen's books; but I cannot really imagine living within them. Of course, we Irishers, Maggie, would have been servants in those houses fifty years after they were set. I feel a bit of classist, anti Brit umbrage coming upon me. Oh forgive me, as I am sinful!

But the western story, is mine; and Frederica, as a modern woman, is mine too.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 3, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I am lifting a glass of rhubarb cordial, decanted with fruit harvested from Raysmom's garden:

To the ladies of the boodle

Ageless, Timeless, Flawless

Beautiful, Witty, Daring

Huzzah to us. Huzzah to those who love us. And Huzzah to those who bear with us.

Yoki and Kim: free rides in BC's Chitty Bang Bang car, when he completes it. Mudge will take you boating but first the ice must pass.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 3, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse

It's getting cooler out right now, but the wonderful smell of somone's dinner on the grill is wafting through the open window. How nice.

Good to see you, Kiwi!

Posted by: TBG | March 3, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Kiwi - true, we are a Northern Hemisphere kind of place. You would be amazed at the number of people who do not realize that the Southern Hemisphere has inverted seasons. (Or, rather, we in the North do..)

I once worked with a fellow from Adelaide. He spent six months working up here and then returned home. He totally missed summer that year. Hard to make up for that on an expense report.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 3, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

What I can't figure out is why you folks down there don't fall off.

CP, re: your 5:42: Oh, I hear ya, I hear ya. And amen.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 7:27 PM | Report abuse

What I can't figure out is why you folks down there don't fall off.

CP, re: your 5:42: Oh, I hear ya, I hear ya. And amen.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

It was a lovely day and I enjoyed it, even if I had to be inside for much of it.

Our screened porch on the back was useless so we enclosed it into the sunroom, which is very useful for all the houseplants in winter. We do have rocking chairs on the front porch, but we seldom sit in them. They look very suburban and pleasant.

9/10 on the quiz. I even guessed the Indian festival correctly.

Mudge, in spite of what they say, you never look a day older than 500. Your smooth complexion amazes me.

Posted by: slyness | March 3, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I am always on the alert for odd flavorings to add to "craft" beers. The latest astounding additive was a hint of grapefruit to an India pale ale. (Don't overreact - it was better than it sounds or I would have chalked it up to a bad experiment. In fact, it was very good and won some prizes).

Rhubarb beer. I will get right on it.

Posted by: Jumper | March 3, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

You're all welcome to stop in for a spontaneous BPH on our porch. It'll seat nearly all of us.

Posted by: jack | March 3, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Jumper | March 3, 2008 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I can see that delicate sour working (in moderation), Jumper. But then most beer tastes like vegan piss to me anyhow, so taste of any sort is an improvement.

Ban "dangerous dogs", and people will just get attack monkeys...

I must admit, I keep thinking that if it was a *dog* that got loose and bit 3 people, you'd see a lot more in the way of punishment than "bad monkey's in jail and needs to leave town."

While some species of monkeys have made suitable service animals (capuchins for one), they're not the ideal companions either, and dogs have been trained to do increasingly complex tasks to replace the need for service monkeys.

Now, all macaque species risk harboring viruses dangerous to human without signs of illness, such as herpesvirus siminae. In fact, up to 90% are estimated to carry this. It can be transmitted to humans by scratches and bites. Infection is rare, but once it sets in, mortality rate is 80%. This infection can rarely be transmitted to other humans.

That makes a single monkey bite or scratch more dangerous than most dog bites. This monkey should be in quarantine and tested for disease, including rabies, for public safety.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 3, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday, Yoki! Many happy returns.

We have been having rain almost everyday since last Nov. It's supposed to stop in early Feb. This is March and we are still having rain. Somebody up stair is not paying attention to past records!

Posted by: rainforest | March 3, 2008 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Shock the monkey. That'll learn 'im.

Posted by: jack | March 3, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Belated happy birthday to you, Kim. Hope you had a good celebration.

Posted by: rainforest | March 3, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

What rainforest said, Kim. Many happy returns. About two months late.

Posted by: jack | March 3, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

For RD:

I once worked with a fellow from Adelaide
Worked up here for a winter, thought he had it made
Went home for the summer
Then found - what a bummer
Oz summer's worth more than he'd been paid


That took me all of five minutes, and clearly shows my inVerse relationship between quality and speed.


Posted by: bc | March 3, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Shock the Monkey, LOL.

That's what I'm calling my pet monkey, Jack. Unless you meant it as an euphenism for something else.

Ah, the monkey IS in quarantine according to this story.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 3, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, you smooth-talker, you.

OK, I can now report on the beef stew recipe I posted yesterday, from "Cook's Country": it was very good. Needs a little more pepper, maybe half the brown sugar, and maybe two tablespoons of A-1 or similar steak sauce. But otherwise quite tasty. I was surprised the recipe didn't call for any celery, and I don't see why some wouldn't hurt. But the overall "concepts" of it-- the Guiness Draught (not the Extra Stout) and the chocolate-- both worked extremely well.

Somebody else here ought to try it and report back.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Bc, that's better than I can do. I'm trying to master the limerick meter, never mind actually being limericky in it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 3, 2008 8:49 PM | Report abuse

"I didn't say anything about it at the time because for a few days before and a few days after, I was in a fetal position on the couch drinking wine out of a straw."

Kim gets the "thank goodness I wasn't taking a sip of my wine" award for today.

Our deck is more like a porch, since we have a community trail running behind our house. A chance to say hello to friends, human and canine.

After a brief connection period this morning, I was unable to access the A-blog, or any WaPo blog, for that matter. Don't know what's going on--just keep getting a message that the connection timed out. Maybe WebSense is going passive aggressive on me...

Posted by: Raysmom | March 3, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

OK, this is weird, and maybe one of you cyber experts can 'splain it to me: This afternoon on my home e-mail, I got a piece of spam from Google Earth links --but it was addressed to me as "Curmudgeon," which I only use here, and to sign on to WaPo. Can anybody explain this?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 3, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I love being tucked down at the bottom of the planet - not only do most people not realise that we have different seasons to the top half, but a horrifically large percentage don't have a clue we're actually here. Makes me feel nice and safe when nasty things are happening elsewhere in the world.

As for having two or three winters or summers in a row - its a very common phenomenon amongst surfers and skiers.

Posted by: kiwi | March 3, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

bc, you' not amused? amazed? at this link, which Mr. T shared with me. How NOT to check the fuel level in a tanker:

This is serious Darwin award stuff.

Posted by: slyness | March 3, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

kiwi, that's funny - and you have a point.

I will just say that I have seen some flowers like those Joel took pics of. Recently. Close to where I live. I have to see what seeds I've got left and make a list for what I need.

Happy Birthdays, everyone. 5-0 - that's nothing!

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 3, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

It's my birthday this month too. However, thanks to the international date line, I miss it altogether - I'm leaving Vegas on the 14th and landing in Auckland on the 16th.

No birthday means no birthday cake, which means no candles, which means the candles from last year's cake apply for another year, which means I'll stay 33 until next year, right?

Posted by: kiwi | March 3, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Works for me if it works for you, kiwi!

Posted by: slyness | March 3, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

6/10 here. Happy Birthdays Yoki & Kim, the Ides of March will be here before you know it.

Porch talk....we have a front porch with four rockers and yes we do sit and rock in warm weather and our younger neighbors jog by, stop for a chat, sometime sit and have a cool glass of something. Sometimes we walk and see neighbors along the way, everybody comes out in warm weather.

We have a dinky deck off the kitchen and it is where I have my potted flowers Spring/Summer (safe from the dear deer) and also our bird feeder. All winter long, the birds come. Even the eastern bluebirds. I put hulled sunflower seeds in the feeder and they are able to eat them. No matter how much seed I put out Mr. Cardinal hops around and says "cheap, cheap".

Posted by: VintageLady | March 3, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

The bird in Joel's photo is a dead ringer for the 17 year cicada, sans red eyes. :)

Posted by: VintageLady | March 3, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Very inspired limrick bc. Just be glad he didn't come from the New South Wales town of Wagga Wagga.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 3, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cardinal says "cheap cheap!" I love it, VL.

Slyness... that was a cool link about the basketball prodigy, but was it the one you meant to post?

Posted by: TBG | March 3, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

TBG, you beat me to it.

The video of the kid showing off his incredible basketball skills was quite enjoyable, but I didn't see any refueling going on there...


Posted by: bc | March 3, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey kiwi! *waving upside down as it's easier to see you* I have an old friend that has resided in Christchurch, NZ for quite some time. He always has something to say about having the choice of skiing or beaching in the winter.

Posted by: jack | March 3, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

In my pile of to-be-recycled WaPo's there was a real estate section article about a housing development in Ellicott City where decks aren't allowed, so everyone gets porches with their houses. A strike for neo-traditional design.

I'll have to check them out.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 3, 2008 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Just so it's clear - I'm always full of crap, except when I'm not!

And I'm not a real big fan of how lightly some folks appropriate the initials "B.S."! It may not surprise you to find that those letters mean something special to me.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 4, 2008 2:57 AM | Report abuse

Sorry. I'm not able to have competently cobbled together that last posting with the proper visual of a tongue planted firmly in some cheek or another. It was almost certainly a silly answer to a question that wasn't really asked.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 4, 2008 3:05 AM | Report abuse

And before we forget the current season...

Pictures of a wonderful winter vacation!!!

*off-to-the-daily-grind Grover waves*


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2008 5:22 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Hey, great pix, Scotty. Um...was it cold up there? I'm shivering just thinking about it.

C'mom, Cassandra, you and I can't let these young whippersnappers get a lead on us.

Good Richard Cohen column (for a change) today at on why Obama should be the one to answer that 3 a.m. phone call.

And there's a fairly good E.J. Dionne column. But I think this is one of the rare times I completely disagree with Eugene Robinson at on why the British press was wrong to keep Prince Harry's service in Afghanistan a secret. I'm glad they did, and I think the Drudge Report, which outed him, deserves to be drawn and quartered.

OK, on with the day.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 4, 2008 5:48 AM | Report abuse

Oh, one prediction: when us East-coasters go to bed tonight, we still won't know the results of the Texas caucuses.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 4, 2008 6:02 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, thanks so much for sharing your vacation with us. Your brother's house is very pretty. I'm glad you had such a perfect holiday.

Posted by: kbertocci | March 4, 2008 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Oh for heavens sake, I can't do ANYTHING right!

Here's the link I meant to post last night:

Good morning, everybody, I hope the link works, it's really rather spectacular in its denouement.

Posted by: slyness | March 4, 2008 6:51 AM | Report abuse

That was some cold, cold weather, snuke. No thanks. I'm waiting for cycling season. Last night would have been great if we had been on DST, so I just went walking instead. I also locked myself out of the house and had to wait for my wife to get home.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2008 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, maybe this is it?

Posted by: kbertocci | March 4, 2008 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Thanks all, and 'Mudge, I'm totally with you on Prince Harry. There was no legitimate reason (and no, there's zero "public's right to know" here) to force immediate coverage that would heap tons of risk on top of not only Harry, but everyone he served with, British or not. What, you think the Taliban wouldn't have tripled their attacks on EVERY outpost in an attempt to get Harry? YES, soldiers accept the risk of combat, but not blatant advertising of a "high-value" target. The not-so-young prince is completely within his rights to try and serve as "normally" as possible.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2008 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Can we review the March 19 BPH, when KB swings up from Florida to see us in the Mid Atlantic?

I feel the sap rising everywhere. At 4 AM a fool-happy catbird started his love anthems. Catbirds sing a one-pattern song, with a burr that sounds like a sore throat.
Brown thrashers sing a two-repeat song; Mockers sing in sets of three.

I have those same darling snow crocus flowers that JA so kindly posted. My dream is to peel back the lawn, insert say 1,000.000 such lavender-silver-chaliced corms, and tuck them in with the zoysia.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 4, 2008 7:18 AM | Report abuse

That's the one, kber! Amazing, isn't it? Thanks for saving me, I don't know what I'd do without you folks.

Today we await the arrival of the weather that sent the Ivansfamily to the basement the other night. I hope we have lots of rain but no damaging winds, etc.

My crocuses and daffodils are up and blooming. I managed to prune the roses Saturday and hope they do well. We trimmed the monkey grass, and Mr. T mowed the lawn for the first time, so the yard looks pretty good for early spring.

Posted by: slyness | March 4, 2008 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Mudge, the young will always have that advantage I'm afraid. I am running so late this morning. We barely made the bus. I went back to sleep instead of getting up. Always the wrong thing to do, except in some situations.

Slyness, Scotty, Martooni, so glad to hear from you this morning, and good morning to all.*waving*

I haven't had time to read those links, but will eventually get to it. I don't have a clue as to how it will go down today with the elections, but the heat is on.

The weather is looking nasty, and it is oh, so, warm, meaning rain. And that is all good, baby, except when it gets nasty.

Loomis, hope you're okay, and taking care.

I have to study some this morning. I have a class this evening. I also need to find out how some of my neighbors are doing that have been sick.

Have a great day, folks. You can do that without the guilt. Christ made it possible.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: cassandra s | March 4, 2008 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Very nice pictures, Scotty. The place does look like a skier's heaven.

Mudge & Scotty, I too am with you regarding Prince Harry. I just don't see how the public's right to know can be more important than the soldiers' lives. I also fail to see why the public need to know that kind of info.

Posted by: rainforest | March 4, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Prince Harry didn't choose to become a member of the royal family. His celebrity is involuntary. Therefore, I think it extremely appropriate to give the poor lad at least a few opportunities for a normal life. Especially when such opportunities are as honorable as serving in the military.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 4, 2008 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Great photos Scotty. I'm glad you went skiing so I don't have to. I'd rather water ski, it's warmer. :-) Windy here with rain coming. Slyness, we are two months away from having to mow the lawn, I'm jealous.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | March 4, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I absolutely agree with you about Prince Harry.

The 'media outlets' who thought public had any right to know should go the way of the National Enquirer.

Posted by: dr | March 4, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Yoki. 73-8! Ouch.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 4, 2008 8:09 AM | Report abuse

SD, did some Canookie sports team FAIL to win one for Yoki, the woman of the hour?

Dash it all (in advance).

Posted by: College Parkian | March 4, 2008 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Sign of Spring, despite the freezing rain of yesterday and the forecast calling for still more snow: the male cardinals have started to sing their territorial songs.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 4, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

CP, I can empathize with you. Birds chipping used to wake me up way before I'm ready to get up in the morning in my old place. I had to tell myself that it could be worse. I could have been woken by loud and noisy motorbikes.

House sparrows are abundant in this area and they are the only birds that make a lot of chipping noises. We won't talk about them pooping on your car just after you've washed it.

Posted by: rainforest | March 4, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse

CeePee, Yoki mentioned she volunteered for the Lib party of Alberta. They lost 8 of their 16 seats in yesterday's election. Tory73-Grits8-Commies2 is the final score.
The Tory kingdom of Alberta trudges on for another 4 years.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 4, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

SD, thanks for the translation. I am a dolt but well-meaning. Tory sounds so wrong, especially on the prairie, but perhaps this is the larger force of conservatism working. Always hard to pick the prairie preference; I believe Montana to be a state more checkered than simply read; purplish, if you get my drift, even if it looks red on paper.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 4, 2008 8:23 AM | Report abuse

And Rainforest, yes, patience with birds is a virtue. Oh my! I hate splat on the car. But even worse is splat on the freshly-coiffed hair.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 4, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Oh my, it really is happenning. *Tim, tune your guitar. You're on the front lines.

Kathleen Edwards from Ottawa Ontario is on the attack. She's taking on the 'Alt Country' Contingment.

In State:

For Wilbrod:

Posted by: omni | March 4, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Some guitar harmonizing: Six O'Clock News:


Posted by: omni | March 4, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Hockey Skates:


Posted by: omni | March 4, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Add my name to those believing Robinson was way off base on Prince Harry's whereabouts.

Another sign of spring: bats were flying about yesterday evening, snagging bugs out of the air. Anyone know where they (the bats) go during the winter?

Over the weekend Raysdad went to the garage to get a scoop of birdseed for the feeder. I heard a yell, and the sound of things dropping. Thinking he'd had a sciatica stinger drop him, I rushed to the garage--to see him standing there, scoop dropped, seed all over. It seems that an enterprising mouse had chewed its way into the plastic bin and wound up in the scoop of seed, startling Raysdad muchly.

For the last three mornings we have found him peering up at us from the bin when we do our morning feeder-fill. I keep taking the bin outside and freeing him, and he keeps running back into the garage. I think I made a mistake in naming him (Little Chef) because it makes me less inclined to seek a *permanent* solution to his presence. I'm hoping he's a bachelor mouse (if indeed he's a "he") and doesn't bring a family to live with us.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 4, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Great pics, Scottynuke.
Glad to see you and your family just as vibrant as ever despite the weather threatening to make Nukecicles of you after just a few minutes on the slopes.

Slyness & kbertocci, I can't see YouTube video at work, but I'll check the tanker vid when I get home.

Count me as one who thinks blowing Harry's cover was a needlessly petty and dangerous thing to do, but unfortunately in these times, it was bound to happen. I don't know if Drudge considered the consequences of releasing the information, but I suspect it he felt it was his duty to report the truth.

Responsible journalism? Responsible to who? An interesting question in this case.

On a final note, I was cruising along the Dulles Toll road yesterday afternoon (pretty close to Wolf Trap, actually) on my way home and noticed a very large brown bird with a white head and tail catching the warm updrafts over the highway. Took me a moment to realize that I was looking at a bald eagle. Beautiful animal.

Pretty darn cool seeing one less than 20 miles from DC. Well, one that wasn't nesting on the Wilson Bridge, anyway (though I suspect that this raptor might have been part of that brood).

I'm glad I keep looking up. I never know what I'll see next.

Now on to Possible PrimoCaucal Final Ultimate Judgement Day... the coffee room debates are firing up already.


Posted by: bc | March 4, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like it's time for a metal pail to hold the birdseed, Raysmom... ;-)

Posted by: scottynuke | March 4, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

That would be the obvious solution, wouldn't it Scotty? As a short-term workaround, I rotated the bin so that the entry hole he created is now a 3-foot leap up, vs. an easy step-over from the adjacent shelving. I expect to find a new hole chewed on the other side, of course.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 4, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom, if there's that much food, a mouse family will appear posthaste.

Spontaeous conMousetion.

I suggest you trap the guy (if he really *is* a male - and don't tell me if you checked), take him far away from the house, and get a metal box (as Scottynuke suggests) with a sealing lid for the seed. Yes, it's a PITA, but likely necessary if you want to avoid sharing your house with another family.



Posted by: bc | March 4, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

SCC: The second "bc," of course.

Bah, I'm not a big fan of the TypePad interface.

Or of me.


Posted by: bc | March 4, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Still catching up this AM. Jumper, I'm not a big fan of pale ales but do love grapefruit. that does sound devine. do let us know how the rhubarb experience goes. I think I'll try some meself.

Posted by: omni | March 4, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

In my experience, taking him as far away from the house as possible and then setting him free doesn't work....he thinks you're playing, and will race you back to the house. He wins every time.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 4, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

"Shock the Monkey" is a love song about jealousy and how it can release one's baser instincts. The monkey is a metaphor for one's feelings of jealousy.

Shock the monkey to life
Shock the monkey to life

Cover me when I run
Cover me through the fire
Something knocked me out the trees
Now Im on my knees
Cover me, darling please
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Dont you know when youre going to shock the monkey

Fox the fox
Rat the rat
You can ape the ape
I know about that
There is one thing you must be sure of
I cant take any more
Darling, dont you monkey with the monkey
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Dont you know youre going to shock the monkey

Wheels keep turning
Somethings burning
Dont like it but I guess Im learning

Shock! - watch the monkey get hurt, monkey

Cover me, when I sleep
Cover me, when I breathe
You throw your pearls before the swine
Make the monkey blind
Cover me, darling please
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Dont you know youre going to shock the monkey

Too much at stake
Ground beneath me shake
And the news is breaking

Shock! - watch the monkey get hurt, monkey

Shock the monkey
Shock the monkey
Shock the monkey to life

Posted by: omni | March 4, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse


Eyes on the road there, mister man...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

bc, I have considered the possibility that "he" actually is a "she" and that her cute little round body (and tremendous appetite) could mean that she's preggers. Meaning many more mousies. So the road-trip-and-metal-storage solution must be deployed. Just please don't tell my mother. She'll think I'm nuts for not trapping or poisoning the rodent.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 4, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

A metal bin with a lid, Raysmom. I believe I'd be looking today and purchase the first suitable item I find.

We haven't had mouse activity lately, but it used to be a ritual of fall for a family to come inside when the weather got cold. The worst was the time a mother mouse built a nest on the grid of our gas grill. It has a cover, so Mr. T didn't see it when he brought the grill out and lit it in preparation for me to cook chicken. The mama got away but the babies in the nest were definitely dead when I opened the cover. The grid spent the next 48 hours immersed in a bleach solution. IIRC, the chicken was broiled that night.

Posted by: slyness | March 4, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

There is no such thing as "just one mouse." When we saw a mouse in our old house in Oklahoma and began live trapping them we caught 23 mice in three days. We "recycled" them- fed them to my brother's snakes and pet skunk. If you don't have hungry carnivores to feed, be sure to take the rodents far far away before you release them. They have found an endless supply of food and are not going to be easily discouraged. And with plenty of food they will breed like, well, like mice.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 4, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Loved the pics Scotty, but don't understand the heading for pic 14: "The hawk was out in force!"

Oh, and agree with kber. Looks cold outside but very cozy inside.

Posted by: omni | March 4, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

When I said "far away" from the house, I meant someplace requiring transportation.

Like an open field several miles away.


Posted by: bc | March 4, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Just got our internet connection up at work so I am getting caught up.

This is for omni, another Canadian femaile guitarist country/rock.

Posted by: dmd | March 4, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

"Drawn and quartered", that's a little harsh isn't it, Mudge?

Read Eugene Robinson, and he brings up some interesting points. And they're not all irrelevant. I can see where such information in the wrong hands was not good for Prince Harry or those that served with him. I can also understand that it was an opportunity for him take part in a military exercise and experience war first hand. All of these are good reasons, and my knowing about his service does not really serve a purpose. Who am I in comparison to a prince? A nobody, a nothing. And that may be the point that is trying to be made. Somebody made a decision, and those were the two tangibles used, hence the action. And my ramblings here do not come from anger, just thinking out loud.

Scotty, the pics are real nice. In fact so nice, I actually got a chill looking at some of them.

The weather here is starting to look real ugly. I'm going to jump in the shower, get dressed, just in case I have to take a fetal position.

Posted by: cassandra s | March 4, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Last grafs from Dana Milbank's reporting from San Antonio (much different than our local paper's coverage this morning--pointing out that Obama, as well as Clinton, have now flip-flopped on the issue of building a VA facility in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Also a mention that Gloria Steinem was in town campaigning for Clinton):

Reporters, however, had a different idea of what was pertinent, and the questions about Rezko, NAFTA and other unpleasant subjects continued to come. An aide called out "last question," and Obama made his move for the exit -- only for reporters to shout after him in protest. "C'mon, guys," he pleaded. "I just answered, like, eight questions."

The questioning, however, has only just begun.

LL: Now this one Q&A from Robert Kaiser's chat the evening of the New Hampshire primary, Jan. 8, which in my opinion was pretty early to offer the opinion that Obama had been pretty thoroughly vetted--of course, when a record is so short...:

Washington: How thoroughly do you think Sen. Obama has been vetted, and what are the chances that he has an Achilles' heel that has yet to emerge?

Robert G. Kaiser: Pretty thoroughly. Of course we never know what we don't know -- one of the pitfalls of journalism.

LL: Of course, pitfalls came be overcome by early investigtive reporting...of all candidates.

I am fine this morning. Doctor explored my aging pipes and what one would expect in aging plumbing. He removed two polyps; I've had some minor cramping. Up and good to go--to go vote this morning and caucus at 7:15 p.m.

Huckabee had a rally with several hundred here yesterday, McCain was supposed to be at a breakfast at Mi Tierra in Market Square this morning, Obama to watch the Texas results from somewhere in San Antonio tonight, Clinton was up north in Austin--the mugs of all four taking up half of our front page this morning.

Prominent story on Metro about C. William Fox, former commander of Brooke Army Medical Center and how his brain injury is similar to Bob Woodruff's, with a long recovery anticipated--it was he, I am convinced, whom Lee Woodruff visited last Thursday--she mentioning a powerful, important commander, who is now "childlike," (she hesitated long and hard before selecting this adjective) who was stamping leather bracelets for his daughters, when Lee spent some time with him.

Of course, Cohen, so typical of late of the Washington bunch, leaves out Hispanics.

Posted by: Loomis | March 4, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the editors held the info about Harry because it was the morally right thing to do? To give him the opportunity to serve without creating unnecessary danger for himself and others?

I am not better off, nor has my understanding of the world improved, nor is national and international security improved by publishing the information on his whereabouts.

He deserves the chance to serve like everyone else, and I hate that Drudge blew it. Jeez, he only had a few more weeks to go.

I believe in the freedom of the press, but there is a fine line between what we must know, what we should know, and what isn't any of our business. Drudge made the wrong decision there.

Posted by: slyness | March 4, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"Who am I in comparison to a prince? A nobody, a nothing. "

Whoa, whoa, WHOA! I'd say who is the prince in comparison to you? I know nothing of this prince except that he seems an OK young rich kid who's probably had a pretty easy ride in life. You OTOH have proved your worth many times over, Cassandra, in your life and here in the Boodle. Don't be sayin' you're nobody!

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 4, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Younger daughter turned me on to this site. Mudge, thought of you when I saw the caption on the first picture:

(THIS link I'm getting right!)

Posted by: slyness | March 4, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse


Not sure how much of a regionalism it is, but when the wind chill's really in effect, I've often said "The hawk is biting today." It was VERY windy that particular day, with below-zero air temperatures at the peaks.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

happy belated birthday, yoki!
hope you had a great day.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | March 4, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm. The weather is behaving strangely enough 'round here that it makes me feel like a freeze might be in the offing.

Posted by: jack | March 4, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I agree that it was right to keep Harry's deployment a secret. Especially after seeing some pictures of him enjoying himself, looking like a normal soldier... probably the only time in his life he's felt so normal. It was a shame to "out" him.

Scotty... your pictures are fabulous.

Posted by: TBG | March 4, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I think I'm in love dmd. with you and Serena, thanks very much. Definately going into my YouTube favorites.

Serena Ryder - Weak In The Knees

The movies 'The Music Man' and 'Ice Princess' were filmed there.

The movie 'A History of Violence' which takes place in the fictional town of Millbrook Indiana was also filmed (mostly)in Millbrook Ontario.
She's from Millbrook Ontario, and her current band is from Regina Saskatchewan.

Millbrook: a sister to County Cavan in Ireland.

Posted by: omni | March 4, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Good morning.

First, Raysmom, kurosawaguy is right. There is no "mouse". There are "mice" which may or may not be visible. I saw a "mice" in my shop this weekend. I'm glad they're there; they can eat and keep warm and it is far enough from the house I won't see them in our pots & pans.

I don't think we needed to know where Harry was stationed. In fact, I'm considering aggressively asserting my right not to know a variety of things, mostly having to do with other people's personal lives. I don't care how famous they are.

Thank you for the splendid pictures, scottynuke. I cross-country skiied (?) near Stowe once. It was gorgeous. I'm glad we didn't have your cold weather though - anytime I see "minus" I want to stay inside.

Ivansdad returned from San Antonio and flatly stated that Obama will win Texas.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 4, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Does he have a good record on these types of predictions, Ivansmom? I, for one, would like for it to be over very soon, as in today. I think it's quickly going to become toxic for the Dems to have this going on and on as the Republicans gleefully add to their sound-bite distortion supply.

Posted by: Kim | March 4, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Never heard that phrase before Scotty. Thanks for the exp tho.

Just found out why Kathleen Edwards sounded so familiar to me. Her song Summerlong is part of the soundtack for Elizabethtown. Loved that movie. And highly recomend it for any who haven't yet seen it. Even good for a second or more viewings...Kirsten quirky and as ever lovely in this

Cassandra, I'm with kurosawaguy. You my dear friend are a somebody. A lot of something good.

Posted by: omni | March 4, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I love this from the Best Of Craigslist... don't know exactly what the "irregular" refers to in the listing title...

Posted by: TBG | March 4, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Just uncovered this: "The hawk" is also a popular slang term to refer to the wind in Chicago.

The first recorded Chicago citation is in the Chicago Defender, October 20, 1936: "And these cold mornings are on us--in other words "Hawkins" has got us."

How it got Boston???Or even how it originated???Mudge???TBG??? any help here!

Posted by: omni | March 4, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I think the the thing I find so sad about Prince Harry and his tour of duty was that he found himself to feel "normal" within that window. He was serving in a war, with all its ugliness and loss of life, and yet he found himself to feel "normal". And not knowing what his definition of "normal" is I can't really draw any conclusion except that I found it quite odd.

I think if I were thrown in a war torn area, normal is not the word I would use. More like, afraid, scared, but then, Prince Harry would never use those words out loud or any other person of the male species, I doubt.

And K-guy, when I say, a nothing, a nobody, I mean in terms of my importance to a situation. I did not need to know anything about Prince Harry or his life for that matter. As Mr. Robinson said in his opinion piece, we get know how many times this young man gets drunk or does something bad, but his serious side or his normal side in respect to our knowing that, isn't really important.

My knowing the number of times Prince Harry get drunk doesn't help me in the least. Nothing about his life does, for that matter. I accept that, and it doesn't faze me one bit. He is so far beyond my radar that it doesn't matter, and not just mine, but so many people.

He is someone's child, someone's young person, someone's family, and they love him and want the best for him. I, want the best for all people's children, not just Prince Harry, him too, but all children. Because most parents love their children and believe them to be their prince or princess. Even those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Especially those serving in those war torn areas.

Yet here in this beautiful and free country there isn't a conversation about when our darling princes and princesses will be coming home. When will family and friends see them again.

And the question has to be asked, why?

Posted by: cassandra s | March 4, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Getting no where fast: A Baltimore Sun series of columns in 1934 attempted to examine the origin of the phrase "Hawkins is coming" for a cold, winter wind.

So Baltimore then on to Chicago.

It seems to be a popular African-American English slang.

Posted by: omni | March 4, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Ivansdad doesn't have a track record on political prognostication. He's never done it before, other than predicting (with me) that Clinton would win the first time around, and that was a gimme.

I have no idea what he learned on his trip which makes him sure. We'll see tonight.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 4, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

SCC: got to Boston.

Posted by: omni | March 4, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: dbG | March 4, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I made my first presidential election prognostication in 1968. I was six.

I've been right ever since until 2000.

But, I wasn't wrong in 2000 either.

I just didn't make a prognostication. I was leaning Gore. He did win the popular vote. Stealing Florida was never on my radar though.

Wasn't right or wrong in 2004 either. I was leaning Kerry big time. Stealing Ohio was never on my radar though.

I obviously need a radar upgrade.

OK, enough bellyachin. going for a walk, then gettin lunch.

Posted by: omni | March 4, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

AP (and a long story in El Tiempo) say Colombia's going to the International Criminal Court to seek charges of supporting genocide against Venezuela's President Chávez for funding FARC, based on documents found in FARC computers seized in the Ecuador raid. Which runs counter to the notion that FARC has more drug money than it knows what to do with.

I suppose FARC is holding seminars on laptop security today.

Meanwhile, Venezuela has closed its border to trade with Colombia. They'll buy from Brazil, Argentina, and Europe instead.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 4, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse


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