Thursday, November 12, 2009

Greeting Card Moments and Oysters

We all have those special moments we see portrayed on commercials. They just end or start differently for us.  Today, for instance, I was knitting, watching TV and thankful to be inside during a "nor-easterner" which is currently pommeling east coast communities. What appears, but a greeting card commercial referring to a company with "mark" and "Hall" in the name.

It is a warm, family moment with a daughter thanking her mom for seeing her through a difficult year. To thank her, at the Christmas holiday, the daughter offers mom a card as an expression of her thoughts and thanks. Then it states that a card is the most important gift ever.  To this I say, it better have been homemade or have a big fat check inside. I'm not saying that sending a card isn't meaningful, but it can't be the only gesture. 

I would rather, much rather, have a homemade card in lieu of a Markhall card or cheap gift any day. That way, the card certainly is the gift. It is well thought through and time has been dedicated to ensure that it is expressing the right meaning. These Markhall cards are okay, but certainly not the end all.  What do you think?

Is buying a store bought card the best gift that can be given?

Meanwhile, on to MOLLUSKS ON PARADE!
This fall I enjoyed one of the best weekends possible with great friends. We rented a fantastic home, on the shores of the Rappahannock River near Urbanna, VA, complete with a private beach, a generous hearth and a view of the sunset or rise that would entice Van Gogh. As if that isn't enough, there was a festival being celebrated in a nearby community. Not just any festival, mind you, the 52nd Urbanna Virginia Oyster Festival. Click on this link for further details. Urbanna Oyster Festival

To avoid the usual punishment offered to commuters by Interstate 395 south of DC, the drive down was through Maryland Route 301 and over a rather narrow bridge to Virginia's middle peninsula where Urbana is located.  On the way, we stopped a great "Mom and Pop" restaurant called "Bo's" was delightful. Service was flawless thanks to our waiter, Kevin.  This is not only the place to nosh, but the gift shoppe and Christmas store of your dreams. One rule for life that you should know before growing too comfortable is posted everywhere, for your reading convenience.

Please take note of the price tag on the hippopotamus statue in the case.  It reads $45.00!!!! Don't believe me, click on the photo and it will increase in size so you can read it yourself. Unreal!? Is this anything you'd buy just casually on the road? Would you pay for anything shelved behind a sign like this?  Just wondering. Customarily, I prefer to shop around a little when purchasing hippo statues. A gal just can't jump on the first one, can she?

 We arrived too late at night to appreciate much beyond the moon's magnificence in the rippled mirror of the river. The night air was crisp with wisps of wood fires floating through.  The following morning brought a clear view of the every widening Rappahannock on its path to the Chesapeake Bay.  Just brilliant. And, just what the doctor ordered for a weekend retreat. I don't want to swim in it or fish, I just want to look. That is what I need.

All I can tell you is Oysters are the last things I thought I'd be celebrating, but it was a wonderfully uplifting and fun time. No huge crowds. No waiting in line for anything, well at least for very long anyhow. Small town with a big heart feel.  I thought Andy would be riding down the center of the road with Barney, Floyd and Aunt Bea at any second.

The parade began with the leadership of the Knights of Columbus presenting colors.  It is, in all my years in the Commonwealth, the only time I've ever seen the Virginia (Sic Semper Tyrannis/Thus always to tyrants) and the United States flags bracing the Papal flag.  This really impressed me since I've always felt that Catholicism was far from the leading religion of Virginia's smaller towns. I would give that honor more readily to the Baptists or Presbyterians. Regardless, they put on a great show with their feather boa trimmed chapeaus, musketeer capes, and defender of the faith super hero body language.  What is not to love?

Speaking of love, here comes the float carrying the crowned Oyster Queen and Little Miss Spat (the name of baby oysters....yah, who knew? Maybe the Gorton fisherman, but not me.)  The cherry on this sundae is that the beauty queen in the lime green is a down syndrome child.  These kids are so incredibly special and it warmed my heart that she was elevated to be "Little Miss Spat" and wave to her public from the float. Truly, this was a wonderful highlight for me.

 The freshly revealed identity of the OYSTER MAN was sufficient to make me leave before having a second fried pickle. Once he unveiled himself, I yelled from the macadam with all my might "I SUPPOSE SANTA CLAUS ISN'T REAL TOO!"   What a let down.
Remember in the Land of Oz you were to ignore the man behind the curtain?  Well, in Urbanna it is regard the lady potato in front of the port o'potties.  This gal has an incredible investment in her message. It is just a shame that I don't dial in to her frequency.  She is riding on a float built by a nearby church. It had a pulpit, minister, choir...all looking quite like muppets. In each pew there were several rather large "pew potatoes" listening to the minister's speech. And there she was, in all her glory, and in the glory of God, profiling herself with a sign. 'HOT POTATO FOR GOD"  Thankfully, this sign was being saved from certain doom by a page protector, even if the message was lost on me and my friends.  Collectively we had well over 100 years of education among the four of us, so I didn't feel so badly that I missed the meaning.  Anyone out there who can lend a hand with this one?

Just when you thought that Aunt Bea and Floyd were on the road to their Florida winter home, there they are selling the yummiest oysters in town. Paynes Oysters, my friends. THE place to go. She sells 'em, he cooks 'em.  She also yells out the window chanting  "Here comes the Po Po!" when the local police cruisers (cleverly disguised as golf carts) appear in the parking lot they share with City Hall and police headquarters.
Before I leave you, please see if you can answer the question: which of these two photos tell the tale that four teachers attended the 52nd Urbanna Oyster Festival?  You be the judge.
Submit your entry along with a cashier's check for $1,000 and a self-addressed stamped envelope. Then, please see yourself to the door. Remember your coat, if you brought one with you. See you soon. I'll watch you until your car starts.

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