An Impolitic 4th

All I can say after this 4th of July weekend is, “Burp!”.    I went to three, count ’em, three picnics.

The first one was on Friday afternoon and work related. It had nothing to do with the 4th.  Still, it had pizza and soft drinks.

As I stood there eating the only pizza that was left, I told one of my colleagues,”I don’t even like this.”  She replied,”Then why are you eating it?”. A very good question. I had spent the mornng during our meetings to eat candy. It could have been worse.  I missed out on the muffins and pastry. I also munched on a McDonald’s egg biscuit I had brought with me. 

I was so wiped out on Friday that I went to bed early and arose late on Saturday.  We had to get ready for another picnic, this time at a cottage belonging to one of my colleagues. She and her husband have a place right on a creek here in Southwest Virginia.

Before we left I went in search of a chair. My colleague had suggested bringing lawn furniture.

I refused t opay the stiff prices they wanted at the local CVS Pharmacy and at the last minute, I spotted the Second Time Around off of Ellet Rd. in Blacksburg.

I went in there, and a nice senior citizen lady asked me if I knew when the parade started in Christiansburg. I told her I didn’t know and headed into the store.

I spotted the only chair in the place, an old thing holding up a couple knick knacks. I wondered if it was for sale, and did notice a little strip with “-3″ written on it.

I dragged it to the front and asked the lady behind the counter if it was 3 dollars. She shook her head ‘Yes’ and I bought it.

On the way out the same senior citizen lady told me,”That chair looks like it came over on the Mayflower.”  I believe in staying with a theme.

We took the scenic route and arrived at their place a little afte 3 pm. I passed it by, but figured I had the right place because there was a “Ron Paul for President” sign on the road next to their home. They’re very active with the Libertarian Party.

We weren’t supposed to eat for a couple hours, so I goofed around. I watched one of my boys take a dip in the creek. I took a political quiz my hosts had in the house. My colleague asked me the results. When I told her, she exclaimed,”Oh, you’re a Libertarian. I knew it.”

As I chatted with some folks, I learned they were Libertarians. One of them said he worked for the “evil county government.”

I tried to be humorous, yet polite when I talked with people, but per usual I put my foot in my mouth. One lady was holding her husband’s cigar for him and I joked,”Now, that’s really Virginian, a woman smoking cigars.” The lady responded in all seriousness,”I used to smoke cigars, but I quit.”

I then mentioned to this couple that my last name was one of honor in Europe because it belonged to a famous soccer player. However, here in America, I spouted, our last name meant you owned a mechanic shop or a dry cleaner. A couple minutes later this couple replied to my question concerning their occupation with,”We’re in the dry cleaning business.”  I am sure I was a big hit with those two.

One fellow I met, when I told him my name, asked me,”Do you know Ginny Ann?”  I said,”That’s my cousin.” It turns out this man in his 50s went to elementary school with both my cousin and my sister.  His first car was insured by my uncle Claude. He spent part of his time growing up off Williamson Road in Roanoke just as we did. It truly is a small world.

I relax next to the creek in my "Mayflower" chair, along with my son Matt and Mike, the old classmate of my sister and cousin.

Finally, we begin to eat: hot dogs, soft drinks, chips, brownies.  When I missed out on the hamburgers, I took my hamburger bun and put the chili for the hot dogs on it to make a Sloppy Joe.

We left about 8 pm, missing the fireworks my colleague’s husband was going to shoot off.  We passed, as we had a good drive and knew we would see some at our local high school on Sunday, the 4th. I willed my new old chair to my colleague Liz.

Craig's Creek

I slept past noon on Sunday and got up in time to get ready for our next picnic.  This one was at the pasture of the stables behind our house.  My youngest daughter works there mornings, so we got an invite from her boss to come watch the fireworks from there.

I learned that the Blacksburg parade was kicking off near our house at 3 pm, so I made plans to go.  In my usual fashion, I got there early before it kicked off just to watch the preparations.

Local Boy Scouts prepare for the Blacksburg 4th of July Parade

The Grand Marshal, an Eagle Scout, awaits the start of the parade.

It was the usual small-town parade, loaded with fire engines, Boy Scouts, the military and yes, candy. I didn’t eat it though because I knew it was for the kids.

Youngsters demonstrate their love of country during the parade

Every parade has to have a beauty queen... trucks...

...and balloons.

The parade was full of another typical American tradition, that is hot air, and I’m not talking balloons. I mean politicians. 

The mayor of Blacksburg waves to onlookers.

There were the local congressman, and a man trying to take his post in the next election.  I was in usual day dream mode when I looked up and saw the latter gentleman looking at me and saying,”Hello, I am so and so and I am running for Congress.” I sputtered some nonsensical greeting and he moved on.

He was a Republican. Ironically, I would discuss his last name later in the day.

The Republican candidate for Congress, shortly after he woke me up from my food induced stupor.

I got a couple small flags from a vet handing them  out.  They later adorned the corners of my driveway.

We may have had the best seat for fireworks in the whole town.  The pasture sits on the crest of a ridge overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west and the New River Valley to the south.  The fireworks would be easily viewable off to the northwest.

Our fireworks would later be seen off in the distance, coming from Blacksburg High, hidden by nature.

Our viewing point for fireworks. The sun sets over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

While waiting for the shootoff hour, I did what came naturally. I ate. Our hostess had tables full of pot luck offerings, including chips, brownies, cookies, and casseroles.  There was wine and beer, and some folks were grilling hotdogs and hamburgers. This time I got a hamburger.

This time I got a hamburger!

Our host's spread on July 4th!

My oldest son said to me, “The count for the weekend for me is six hot dogs. But I’ve only eaten one hamburger.” I think I was about with him statistically, probably worse.

The effects of a July 4th foodfest. My son Matt takes a snooze while awaiting the start of fireworks.

As with the Saturday picnic, I chatted with some people. One man introduced himself as Dave Grifiiths. I told him I had a cousin named Dave Griffin. We discussed the etymology of the name. I am sure I endeared myself to him when I mentioned that I had just finished watching some episodes of Andy Griffith. A high culture type, he must have figured.

I was introduced to one woman who was on the town council.  She was a second generation American, the daughter of Indian immigrants.  She had even written a memoir of her years growing up in Blacksburg.

I chatted with this couple. The lady on the left is on the Blacksburg Town Council and has written a memoir on growing up here. I gotta buy her book!

In my normal suave and debonair fashion, I brought up the hottest button in town: what to do with the Blacksburg High School kids who don’t have a building.  Their gym collapsed in the winter and the school has been deemed unsafe.

Here she is in the parade I viewed earlier in the day.

Everyone has an opinion on the matter. Fortunately for my new acquaintance, the local school board has juridsdiction over where the children go. So she was off the hook. I tried to be gracious, saying that we elect our officials to make these hard decisions, and we should trust them.

The fireworks were great. I had really been looking forward to experiencing the ambience of the 4th since I had been overseas the last several years and this was my first Independence Day since I had moved back from Finland.

After they were over, I waddled my way through the pasture in the darkness back to my car.  This morning I went to the office to get some work done, even though it was a holiday, and I was greeted by an unopened package of chocolate chip cookies.

All I can say is, “Burp!”.


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