Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Rallying Cry For Reason

This weekend blowhard du jour, Glenn Beck, and his air headed cheerleader, Sarah Palin, are rallying the country to "take it back."

Some folks are cheering them on. Some folks are scared. Some are indifferent. Me? I'm just incredibly sad. What has this country come to?

Here is a quote from Beck:

"My role is, as I see it, to wake America up to the back-sliding of principles and values and, most importantly, of God. We are a country of God. As I look at the problems in our country, quite honestly I think the hot breath of destruction is breathing on our necks."

From Palin:

"What else do we have, at the end of the day," beyond faith in God."

Well, Sarah, that's a good question.

I'm sure many of the people reading this are asking, "What's wrong with what they're saying? God is an important part of my life and how dare you tell me it can't be. You're Christian bashing."

Let me assure you that I am not. I believe strongly that everyone has a right to believe what they wish as long as they do not harm or control others. I will defend your right to be a Christian with my dying breath. What I don't like is that politicians are using religion, something that should be deeply and profoundly personal, to further their own ends.

Many Christians have the strongly-held belief that it would be a better world if everyone were Christian. Why should they not believe it? If you find happiness, inner peace, and a moral compass in your faith, it is natural to want to share that with everyone. My question is do you believe it is the role of government to bring all of us down that very personal path?

I will out myself right now as an agnostic who often leans sort of pagan and sort of atheist depending on my mood. I don't believe in the Abrahamic patriarchal God/Allah figure, or should I say that I believe He exists because human belief has called him into existence and given Him power. I don't believe that a radical Jew, executed for treason by the Romans in ancient Palestine is somehow responsible for the state of my soul after I die. I consider myself a skeptic on most things, but I'm always interested in hearing about the bizarre and unexplained.

Although I don't consider myself better than anyone else, I don't think I'm terribly immoral either. I consider myself a pretty empathetic, compassionate, and ethical person. There are those who would say my liberal beliefs are due to naivete` or even plain stupidity, but I think they are more due to the fact that I long for a just world. I want a world where children don't starve, where the air and water aren't poisoned, and where people don't kill each other over land, personal honor or differing beliefs. I believe everyone benefits from a well-educated populace and that education should not be a privilege of the wealthy. I believe that the traits that genetics hand us should never hold us back from any opportunities we pursue. Is that immoral?

I have seen during my lifetime a scary political trend. Growing up I lived in a world where those who witnessed massive social and political changes in society were becoming apathetic, jaded and disappointed after Vietnam and Watergate. They weren't politically motivated anymore. Opportunistic politicians began to turn their attentions elsewhere. They saw a group of religious people who were not swept up on the tide of change of previous decades. They felt left behind and disenfranchised and saw a world on the fast track to Hell. They saw society as becoming morally bankrupt. Then there were young people who simply saw a broken world around them. They never knew war or institutionalized racism, or the Depression or the horrid fallout of the Gilded Age. They only saw the past through the filter of television and wished they could be a part of that world too.

The politicians fed on these fears and these wishes. They pandered to these religious groups, and to these hopeless young people, promising a more morally sound world. Our country would return to its nonexistent religious roots if only they could have those votes. The promised the overturning of Roe V. Wade, the reinstatement of prayer in school, and later on, Constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage along with tough immigration laws that played to their fears about strangers taking over their country. They plied them with scare tactics that the opposition would overturn the Second Amendment.

In my lifetime I have seen 26 years of Republicans in the White House and 14 years of a Republican-dominated Congress. Not once during any of this time has anyone introduced legislation to over tun Roe V. Wade. George W. Bush talked a good talk about his marriage amendment during his campaigns, but that fizzled out pretty quickly once he was re-elected. I have also seen 26 years of a Democatic Congress and 14 years of a Democrat in the White House and never once has anyone ever introduced legislation to overturn the Second Amendment. No one has made religion illegal either.

Yes, I know it's supposed to be about taxes, but whose taxes are being protested here? The first of these silly Tea Parties took place when Americans were still paying the taxes imposed by the Bush administration. Since then, I haven't seen any real changes in the tax structures - at least none that affect me personally. I can't imagine anyone else is truly suffering (or not) more than I am just because we have seen exactly one year's worth of Obama's tax structure. It seems to me the protests are really more over imagined taxes rather than real ones.

Let's take a look at who is sponsoring these rallies. As grassroots as the whole organization is meant to look, they are being sponsored by the large corporations who stand to lose the most from a change in the tax structure. We're talking about the top 1% of wealth holders in this country who are controlling the 90% of the wealth. They want to keep their piece of the pie.

Ordinary citizens, particularly those of the Tea Party variety are being played like a country fiddle at a hoedown.

These corporate-funded tea-parties are not a true, grassroots citizens' revolt. They are a joke. They are simply a venting of rage, but they are raging at the wrong organizations. They're raging at the government instead of at the corporations who are pulling the government strings. The peasants will never revolt against their true oppressors. Doing so would be seen as anti-capitalism and that is considered anti-democracy (or perhaps just pro-communism).

Republicans promise to legislate moral values in exchange for votes just long enough to bring a certain segment of the population to the polls. However, once they have the votes, they hardly ever bring it up again until it's time for re-election. They know if they actually enacted any of this legislation, many "values voters" might stop coming to the polls if they had what they wanted. They dangle the carrot in front of the religious right, but they have no intention of giving them what they want and losing their vote in the future.

They promise lower taxes, but taxes really aren't lowered significantly for most segments of the population. They simply cut government programs, which gives the illusion that they're lowering taxes and spending less money. What they're really doing is lowering taxes only for a lucky few and continuing to spend money on things like defense contracts - a far different thing from spending money on properly outfitting our military or seeing to their family needs and health benefits as many Americans might believe. The problem is that once someone needs the programs that have been cut, like education or Social Security, they realize after it's too late that some government programs are serving a vital purpose.

The other boogieman is immigration. I noticed immigration becoming a huge issue when the Iraq war began spiralling out of control and was losing popular support. The Bush administration needed a smokescreen, a scapegoat for the state of the economy, a focus for people's rage. 9/11 gave Americans a fear of the scary brown people from across the sea. Now we could fear scary brown people from directly south of us. So what does the government do? It riles up that fearful segment of the population who are going to look to the government as a protector from the scary people. They have someone to blame for the economy, for their own joblessness.

I wish people would wake up and realize that dictatorial border patrols are not the answer. They're a security blanket and a Band-Aid solution. Illegal immigration is here to stay and it's here to stay for one reason. Companies like Monsanto, ADM, and every other large agribusiness depend heavily on the slave labor of illegal immigrants. They need desperate and impoverished workers to work their fields and processing plants and slaughterhouses. These companies can pay substandard wages and keep their workers in the most deplorable working conditions knowing that their workers can never complain. Whom would they complain to? If we managed to do away entirely with illegal immigration, the prices of our food would likely skyrocket as the labor costs would grow. If that happened, I'm sure most of the population would consider illegal immigration to be a good thing.

Stronger border control is never going to stop illegal immigration. Desperate people will always find a way in. If you want to stop illegal immigration, the government needs to start punishing the corporations that hire illegal immigrants. Since the government is in the pockets of these corporations, this is never going to happen.

If you really have issues with illegal immigration, let's ask why the government isn't doing more to end illegal immigration from human trafficking? Think of all of the women and young girls suffering under such brutal and inhuman conditions. There's a moral values issue for you right there!

But let me get back to the God issue for a moment. How do folks like Beck and Palin conceive of making the government, and the general population, more godly? What would be the structure for such change? Plenty of Americans believe in a god of some sort. They don't all believe in the same god. Even those who do worship the same God as the blowhards claim to worship, they may not worship Him the same way. There are as many ways to worship one God as there are gods in the pantheons of all other religions combined. Isn't the point of the First Amendment about the idea that the government is allowing Americans to choose these things? Yes, for some Amercians, freedom of religion does mean freedom from religion because some of us choose not to have a religion at all. No government should take that away.

So what if the dominionists truly did win? Then what? We establish a religious government based on what religion? The blowhards say "God" in a way that is inclusive right now. Say "God" and most Americans can get behind you because God can be Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. These people aren't really about extending a hand to Jews and certainly not to Muslims. They want a Christian government, using the excuse that the Founding Fathers were all Christian (although most of them were actually Deists). "America is a Christian nation" is the rallying cry of a few. Well, you can say that if you mean numbers-wise as the majority of the population identifies as Christian. In a dominionist world, the Christians will reign supreme.

So the Christians are in control, but what type of Christianity prevails? The religious leaders lusting after political power aren't Catholic. They're not Episcopalian (the ones who ordain women and accept and ordain gays). They're not Quakers (God loves war. Down with pacifists!). They are a very narrow-minded sect of evangelical Christians whose beliefs seem so far away from the teachings of Jesus that they seem like a different religion altogether. I'm sure in the beginning other Christians would be willing to band together with them because they're Christian, but once the dominionists have control, they won't have much use for other types of Christians. Catholics are useful for anti-choice and anti-gay support, but if we overturn Roe V. Wade and legally force gays back into the closet, there won't be much use for Catholics and their belief in aid to the poor anymore. Even Glenn Beck himself would be in serious trouble as he is a Mormon. Christians will accept Mormons as Christians only when it's politically expedient to do so.

Will a Christian government truly bring us to a better country? Will it make us all more morally sound? History doesn't prove that. Some of the most heinous deeds of humanity have been done in the name of God. I know I am not saying what hasn't been said a thousand times before, but it wasn't atheists who were behind the Crusades, or the Spanish Inquisition or The Holocaust or the burning of "witches". The 9/11 hijackers weren't atheists either. If you think a theocracy is the right thing to do, I will ask you if you would like to live under the Taliban. Religion doesn't guarantee morality. What is the one standard of morality that everyone should follow (other than those already in our code of law)? Who should enforce that code, and how should it be enforced?

Here is a quote on a website that opposes religious dominionism.

"In the 19th and early 20th centuries, people thought they could create utopian societies where all of life’s problems would be solved and everyone would be blissfully happy. The only problem with making people happy was the people themselves. They needed to be fixed and changed and molded to fit the ideal, so the ideal society would actually work. But it never did, somehow. . ."

I believe we're a better society if we embrace a diversity not only of race, but of religious beliefs, and yes, even of political beliefs. It makes us better, stronger, happier people if we acknowledge and accept each other's differences.

This is why I implore my fellow Americans to please stop this insanity. Stop these rallies of thinly-veiled hate. Let's take our true power back, and welcome the return of reason. Remember, our Constitution was written during the Age of Enlightenment. Let's enlighten ourselves once more. Let's truly take our country back from those who want to divide us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

OMG! I Did It!

I’m on my way. I have booked my trip to Paris. Kevin and I will be spending October 2-9 getting fat on French food and acting like crazy American tourists in celebration of our 9th anniversary.

I’m staying at Hotel Les Rives Notre Dame (once the residence of John Steinbeck). I’m hoping this hotel is as great as it looks. It’s a 10-room boutique hotel in the Latin Quarter with a view of the Seine and Notre Dame. The guide books and TripAdvisor all seem to have positive things to say about it. I’m hoping it’s as pretty and convenient as it looks online.

It goes to show you that perseverance does pay off. Just a few dollars here and there really can add up to the things you want. I will admit I did have some help from my family though, and I thank them for that because otherwise I think I might have to put this trip off for a year or two. Even if that happened, I still believe I could have made this happen even if it did mean waiting.

I can’t stop putting money away though. I need money for things like food and entertainment. This is Paris. I need to see museums and Versailles and the Eiffel Tower and boat trips down the Seine and SHOPPING! I have to try to put away a bit more than the $20 per week I’ve been putting away for the past year. I need to start scrimping on everything else so I can save everything for Paris. Let’s hope Kevin doesn’t mind eating beans and tuna for the next 7 weeks.

Yes that’s it. Seven weeks. Can you believe it? All my life I have wanted to see Paris, but I never really imagined the day I would actually make it there.
What’s next? A riding trip through Tuscany? Maybe a riding trip through the Provence or Carmauge. Once you make one dream a reality, so many other things seem possible.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I am not one of those virtuous people who says, "food is fuel and nothing more," then never eats more than necessary to maintin daily living. I don't eat to live. I live to eat.

I'm sure I would be much thinner and healthier if I didn't take quite so much pleasure in eating. Unfortunately that's the truth. I love preparing and consuming food. My kitchen is the center of my world. It's not as if I don't have other pleasures in life. I love riding and performing and reading and blogging and the sweet sound of my husband's voice. Eating and cooking, however, for better or for worse, rank up there with all of those other pleasures.

I think at times the "Food is Fuel" food police are a little too stringent. Food is a major part of so many cultures and sharing a meal with loved ones is a universal pleasure. What I'm trying to understand is why such a pleasure has become so toxic in our culture.

Earlier this week I was at the gym and I picked up a magazine off the rack to read on the bike. It had an article about what real women eat all over the world. The women came from such diverse cultures as South America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The article listed everything these women ate in a day along with the number of calories each woman consumed.

What shocked me about the article was just how much these women ate in a day. The smallest amount of food consumed was about 1500 calories' worth. The women ate up to 4000 calories per day. None of them looked to be particularly overweight. Compare that with some of these dieting reality shows where participants can drop down to as low as 1200 calories, or the mentality that pervails in this culture of how anyone eating more than 2000 calories per day is a big fat glutton.

What is so unique about Americans and their diets that we collectively put on so much weight and do it so easily?

Is it simply because Americans are just so lazy? Would we all be a lot thinner if we just disconnected and threw away our TVs? What if we stopped living in our cars? We have these cars that are more like living rooms on wheels and I'm not sure that's a good thing. (Stop me now before I go on one of my car rants.) Is it really that simple? Is it really just a matter of physical activity? Let's not forget those of us who hang out on the internet constantly, creating funny Facebook statuses and writing blogs. Is the solution to the obesity problem simply that all of us need to get a hobby that doesn't involve a screen?

Is it something in our food? Most of the women featured in the article ate mostly fresh food. They did eat white rice and couscous, but for the most part, the food was unprocessed. I definitely saw more fruits and vegetables than convenience food. There was an occasional reference to snacks of chips or cookies, but they were in the minority. One of the lowest calorie diets listed contained chips and cookies. Perhaps it's the chemical makeup of the processed foods we eat. There is a big difference between a truly free-range chicken and Chicken McNuggets, or those heavily processed soy-based chunks made to look and taste like chicken. There just may be some truth that the powerful food industry in this country is making us fat.

It all just makes me wonder.

I also think there is a huge problem in our relationship with food. Humans have not evolved much since our days on the savannah. We have a reason to want to consume large amounts in one sitting. We had to prepare for the next inevitable famine. Humans likely gorged themselves on fatty foods in prehistoric times because they never knew when the next calorie-dense meal would be. In many ways we still eat by that instinct.

It just seems that Americans take that mentality to the extreme in a way that other cultures don't. We want to have food everywhere. Events of all kinds are required to serve or sell refreshments, because goddess forbid we should ever feel the slightest bit hungry. When I'm at play rehearsals, there are often doughnuts or Munchkins hanging around. When my niece made her first confession, there was an ice cream party for the kids afterwards.

This weekend I was staying at hotel that provided a free breakfast. Sunday morning I was planning to go out for brunch, but as it was going to be a little later in the day and I had awakened early, I wanted to just grab a snack so I wouldn't be too hungry. (Hmmm...there is that, "I can't ever let myself be hungry" mentality again.) Other hotel guests had practically formed a blockade around the buffet. Every time I tried to get in line or grab something, someone would just shove his or her hand right in front of me and stand there grabbing everything. I just wanted to shout, "Excuse me! Please just let me grab a biscuit so I can get out of here." Adults and children alike were just taking up as much space and food as possible.

My dance teacher has multiple horror stories like this. At Christmas time she holds an open house where classes show off special routines. Attendees are welcome to bring food and it results in a pretty impressive snack and dessert buffet. The teacher told me at last year's open house, parents were standing at the tables shoving and hoarding food into their bags to take with them. It was as if these people never had cookies before.

She had yet another story for me in a similar vein. The studio has ballroom socials on weekends. Once again, as custom seems to require these days, refreshments are served. The teacher usually provides them, store-bought or homemade, but students will often bring stuff as well. One night, a regular student brought a shrimp tray because the teacher liked shrimp so much. They put it on the refreshment table and a few minutes later another couple, who weren't regulars, walked up to the table, and without even taking off their coats, ate almost every shrimp on the plate. Now did they really need to do that?

What is it about food that makes us all so nuts? We turn into animals whenever we're presented with free eats. It's sort of scary. Are we all hoarding fat for the winter?

There are no easy answers I guess. The best any of us can do is stick to fresh food, get plenty of regular activity, and show a little restraint at the free buffets.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Utterly Boring and Completely Unnecessary Vacation Recap

Well, you know I have to tell you all about it because that’s how I roll.

Day 1 – We were off to a good start. We left home right before 7AM and had a quiet ride the whole way down to Virginia. We stopped at a turnoff on the causeway so we could get our first glimpse of the new bridge. It was strange coming onto the island right on Maddox St.

When we arrived at our hotel, it was two hours till check in time so we thought we would walk around a bit and check in later. Then our room suddenly was ready.

Once we unpacked, we headed to the beach. On our way there, we stopped at the pony pens. Only the southern herd was there at that point, but we could at least say hi to Surfer Dude.

I saw my mother and Don there. They were on their way back from the beach. Mom warned me the water was quite cold. She was right. It didn’t stop me though. I just grabbed my boogie board and took the first good wave. When you have something to concentrate on, the water isn’t so bad.

We had dinner at Chincoteague’s only Mexican restaurant that night. I had never eaten there before. It was pretty good, but there are better ones at home.

Day 2 – We were up early to watch the firemen run the northern herd down the beach and lead them to the southern pens. Our goal was to park at the pens and walk to the beach. It’s a bit of a schlep, but it means that you don’t have to wait an hour to get out of the beach parking lot after the ponies come by. Well, when we tried to park, a bunch of park rangers chased us away. That never happened before. We were early enough to get a spot close to the entrance of the parking lot, so we were among the first on line to leave after the ponies ran down the beach.

We saw a beautiful sunrise while we waited.

It took well over an hour for the ponies to come. It’s always a pretty spectacular site though. For a few years the joining of the herds had become a huge event. There used to be hordes of people on the beach in the morning. I suppose people liked to go to it because it gives you a better view of the ponies than you would have at the Swim (if you stand on shore at the Swim and not on a boat). This year there weren’t nearly as many people and there were many tourists who said they didn’t even know about it. I think the fire company stopped publicizing it. For many years it was a little-known event. I was probably going to Chincoteague for 4 or 5 years before I heard about it. I think it just grew too much. The crowd control was becoming a problem. If they keep the merging on the down-low, they get a smaller crowd and they need less security.

Kevin and I did some shopping after breakfast and then it was back to the beach for the afternoon. Once again the water was really cold.

That evening my aunt, Su Mei came from her home near Ocean City to have dinner with all of us. It was a nice evening.
Day 3 – Tuesday is one of the few leisurely mornings you get during Pony Penning week. After breakfast I didn’t know what to do with myself. I took a long walk just for some exercise. It was nice to see the town while it was still waking up.

Later that morning we had riding lessons at the Chincoteague Pony Centre. They know us pretty well over there now. I joke we should make Tuesday at 11 a standing lesson every year. They know my favorite horse – Chincoteague Cowboy. He’s always waiting for me when I come. Kevin’s favorite horse, Raindrop, was not there this year. He rode a young horse named Misty’s Morning Glory instead. She is a great-great-granddaughter of Misty. He wasn’t too fond of her. He said she was too lazy.

After lunch it was back to the beach of course. The water was warmer today, but it was also rather calm. I noticed there were better waves at a sandbar a little farther down the beach from where I was sitting. I decided to swim out to it.

I began to swim dragging my board and found I was getting tired quickly. It was a long time since I had done that much swimming or swum in ocean waves. I had to stop on the board and rest once or twice. I finally made it to the bar and caught some awesome waves. However, once I started riding them in as far as they would go, I realized just how big the sandbar was in the middle. There was hardly any gap between the sandbar and the shoreline. I didn’t need to swim all the way out like that. If I had gone out to the right spot, I could have walked almost the entire way!

Mom and Don were at the beach with me and Mom told me that I was out there an hour and a half. What can I say? I get so in the zone sometimes. I was out there floating on my board, the sun was shining overhead, the waves were nudging around me in their beautiful sea-green glory, the sky was blue, and the world could not have seemed more beautiful or perfect. It was just one of those “Life can’t get any better than this,” moments.

That evening before dinner we headed to the Beebe Ranch. Billy Beebe is cousin to Maureen Beebe and the late Paul Beebe who were featured in the Misty of Chincoteague books. His family’s farm was right next to the farm where Misty was born. After Marguerite Henry owned Misty for a year or two, she was returned to the Beebe family and she moved to Billy’s farm and was Billy’s pony. Although the events of Stormy, Misty’s Foal use the characters of Paul and Maureen from the first book, the book actually took place on Billy’s ranch. After his parents died, Billy and his wife put everything they had into preserving the ranch and they took back the stuffed bodies of Misty and Stormy (previously being kept by friends at another facility on the island). The ranch is filled with memorabilia and is open to visitors during Pony Penning week.
People always tell me to say hi to Misty for them, so I took this photo.

We had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant on the island. Yes, there is actually a Vietnamese restaurant on Chincoteague. It’s very successful too. Whouda thunk?

Day 4– The word on the street was that slack tide would not be until around 11AM, so we did not have to wake up and board the boat quite as early as we sometimes do. We met Captain Barry at 5AM instead of 4 like last year. What a luxury!

We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise at the swim spot and then did the usual waiting around for hours. Things are never dull on Barry’s boat of course, and time passed quickly. There is a group of us that is permanently booked for Pony Swim on Barry’s boat, so it’s like hanging with old friends.
One of the group had brought her nephew with her on the swim this year and he was passing the time by crabbing. He caught one around the time that our friend Roe, the Chincoteague Pony Association PR guy, came by with some media people on his boat. Barry started joking around with him and grabbed the crab that the boy had just caught. He threw it at the boat. I don’t think he meant to aim it as well as he did. It headed straight toward a photographer sitting up front. Not wanting to be hit in the face with a crab, she shielded herself with her camera. It hit the end of her telephoto lens. She had a protector on it, but she was really unhappy about that.

The weather was hotter and sunnier than it had been in year’s past, so it was becoming a bit uncomfortable, but finally the flare went off, and the ponies were in the water.

After we head out of the swim site, Barry docks the boat at a friend’s dock and we get out and watch the Saltwater Cowboys parade the ponies down Main Street on the way to the carnival grounds. It’s always fun to watch.

Once the Swim was over, I was feeling queasy from all of the junk food I had snarfed on the boat (every try pepper relish potato chips?) and was feeling rather tired. The sky had become overcast. I gave up on it being a beach day and tried to just do some shopping. I wasn’t into it. I was in a terrible mood. The sky cleared up and the weather grew hotter and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Kevin offered to drive me to the beach for a couple of hours before dinner. Once I was there, I was immediately cheered up. The ocean can do that to a person.

I was still queasy though. I had been wanting to go to Woody’s Barbecue Shack *drool* for dinner, but I couldn’t stomach it. We ended up at the carnival where Kevin could have his favorite crab cake sandwich. I just had a sno-cone.

Day 5 – Auction time! I didn’t go to the auction. I’ve seen it enough times. It can be really dull sitting there for 3+ hours while they bring out pony after pony. It can be fun to see what they go for, and the auctioneers can be entertaining, but I’m not really into it anymore. Kevin and I went out for a nature cruise on Captain Barry’s boat instead.

The other couple that was supposed to be on the cruise with us that morning never showed, so we had Barry to ourselves. That meant we could control where we wanted to go. Kevin’s priority was to take wildlife photos, so Barry took us to popular bird hangouts. He said it was much easier to take us around since he doesn’t have to put on the same show or tell the same stories he always has to tell (we heard them all before). One thing I have to say is that Barry’s language is way saltier when he’s among friends.

We saw all kinds of birds and also explored some of the little islands on the back bay. One of them was pretty well developed and had a lovely beach, which Kevin and I had all to ourselves. We took a walk and I had a brief swim. I joked with Kevin that Barry had given us free rein to take as much time as we wanted on this totally deserted beach and that we should take advantage. He didn’t bite.

We had lunch at the Chincoteague Inn where Barry docks his boat. I felt frisky and had a margarita with lunch. It felt like another totally perfect day.

We were back to the beach in the afternoon with Mom and Don. There was more great surf and warm water. At the end of the day we had our first rain all week. At least it waited until dinner time to start.

Day 6 – It was our last full day. I wanted to do our laundry as soon as I woke up. I know it sounds weird to want to do laundry on vacation, but I like having it done before I come home. That way I can just put everything away when I unpack and I don’t have to worry about having clean clothes the day after I come home. It’s just one less thing to worry about. I always like it when I can find a drop-off service, but there wasn’t anything like that in Chincoteague, so I had to do it myself.

I started at 6:30. Someone had the same idea and was already using the dryer when I entered the laundry room. She was finished with the washer, but she was using the dryer. Unfortunately, the dryer was extremely slow to dry clothes. I think I had washed two loads before her clothes had dried. Then it took another two hours for my laundry to be dry. I had hoped to be finished before breakfast, but I wasn’t finished until about 10 AM. It’s a good thing we had no interest in watching the ponies swim back to Assateague that morning.

The day wasn’t lost. Kevin and I contemplated either going miniature golfing or going to the Oyster Museum (which is being renamed Museum of Chincoteague even if the signage on the museum doesn’t currently show that). It took us all of 20 minutes to go through the entire thing. We ate lunch and Kevin dropped me off at the beach and Kevin went to Roe’s house to look at duck carvings (Roe is a carver, which is how we became friends with him).

The water at the beach was really cold that day. It was colder than it was on Sunday and Monday. I had some trouble going in. I had to tough it out though because I knew I wasn’t going to be swimming in the ocean for another year.

In the early evening I went on a sunset kayak tour. Jay, the guide I have been going out with for years, is no longer on the island. I had to try out a new guide. His name was Ray. He wasn’t bad. He wasn’t a Chincoteague native, or even a resident, so he didn’t have that local color thing going on. He did take us to some placed I hadn’t ever kayaked to though. We went to the bay side of Assateague and saw some great birds (green herons, ospreys, ibises, blue herons, and egrets). We even caught a glimpse of a pony. The sunset was spectacular. It was the perfect ending for the week.

We had a late dinner at our favorite restaurant, Bill’s, and then went to bed.

Day 7 - *Sob* *Sniff* Time to go home. Kevin and I had a leisurely morning. We ate breakfast late (after I had a swim in the hotel pool) and then decided to check out some local real estate listings. Going to Chincoteague always gives us the bug to move down there. We took one last drive to Assateague to see if we could see the ponies back on the island (and we did). Then we stopped at Pony Tails for taffy to take home to our friends.

On our way home we discovered a great diner in Delaware for lunch. We hope to make that a traditional drive-home-from-Chincoteague-lunch spot in the future.

So now I’m home and getting insulted when people compliment my tan. Everything is back to normal.