Duck in a Raincoat




It's another rainy day on the shore - will it ever end?

Great day for the children's book "Have you Ever seen a Duck in a Raincoat" which teaches children about animals by relating to human behavior. (but really - I was sold at the title!)


The Mid-Shore counties are under flash flood warnings AND coastal flood warnings - so drive carefully! Be especially cautious when driving into water-covered roads - you don't know how deep the water may be!

Stay safe! And keep on treading water - the sunshine should return by the end of the week!

Mother Nature's Dark Side

By Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I never knew the meaning of COLD until I moved into a 1900’s farmhouse.  I’ve spent the last seven years building up an impressive collection of double-lined pants, fleecy pajamas, thick wool socks, and triple-weight sweats.  When the temperature dips below 20 I’ve been known to wear them all simultaneously – to bed.  Then I burrow under sheet, normal blanket, electric blanket, quilt THEN down-filled throw.  I am one WARM, snuggly woman – even if I do need 3 pairs of socks to stay that way! 

This year we moved into another house – no more drafts blowing through the walls. I was excited to finally, finally be warm through-out the winter. One problem solved.

That was my first mistake – thinking everything was perfect.  That small piece of conceit awakened Mother Nature – who has serious control issues. 

Exhibit A: the coldest, snowiest winter in fourteen years.  (I’m choosing to take this as proof we did the right thing moving out of the 1900’s house – or we would be five human popsicles right now!) Still – this much snow is guaranteed to make even the warm blooded go diving for extra blankets.

Unless, of course, you’ve reached THE AGE.

Exhibit B:  I speak, of course, of peri-menopause – and the infamous hot flashes.  It started quickly – Mother Nature is one pushy broad.   I was snuggled deep in my heavy pj’s, socks and multiple blankets.  This was good. Then….without warning…it was TOO MUCH!  The down comforter hit the floor first. The electric blanket was turned off and shoved aside.  The two small dogs, snuggling for warmth, were kicked unceremoniously to the floor as sheets and blankets billowed with as much air as the Flying Nun’s wimple.  The husband’s hand, usually enjoyed for its heat source (as well as the mushy love stuff) suddenly became a branding iron, trying to imprint itself upon my hip.  (and if he complains to you about my pushing him away – remind him he’s just lucky he didn’t wind up on the floor with the dogs)

How to Determine if the crops have had ENOUGH Rain!

How to Determine if the crops have had ENOUGH Rain!

Ok Mr. Weatherman - this is getting ridiculous!!!  [confession - NOT my picture. Found at www.jeffsundin.com/fishing_pictures_2005.htm]

Parking Diagonally in a Parallel Universe

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

One of my dearest friends had a birthday earlier this month - and I wanted to write a column about true friendship...sappy, emotional and dripping with heartfelt tears. Then this friend - we'll call her "Judy" - wrote me about one of her adventures and I immediately remembered that friendship is NOT about the sappy tears - it's about laughing through them.

Judy is Murphy's Law Poster Child - if something can happen it WILL happen to her. I've seen her wear bird crap on her head in the Inner Harbor and toilet paper on her shoe in a Baltimore courtroom. We once shared a home we affectionately referred to as "Hell House" - but that's a different story.  This is a Judy story - and it's 100% true. I wouldn't believe it if I saw it in a sitcom - but from her I can absolutely see it happen.

Pour yourself another cup of coffee, sit back, and meet one of my bestest friends:

Cyn, I have a new story for you regarding how I know God sits up at night just to think of things to do to me for His entertainment.

It was the Friday before my birthday and I left work early to run a few errands before I picked up my daughter up from the MARC station. I was sooOooOoOOOOoooo excited to have a few hours to call my own. So I went to the bank and then I went to pump gasoline...Well, they had some new nozzle that I obviously had trouble working and the gasoline squirted up and saturated the top half of my pants - from my waist to the top half of my thighs...Great!

So I went to ask the gasoline attendent for some water and paper towels and he did not speak english. Finally I got him to give me some of the paper sheets by his sink. So I went outside and thought, "Great...I'll just soak them in the dirty car wash water on the ground." (If I would have known what was coming I would have paid to run the car wash and just ran through it myself)

So I think..."Damn! Do I REALLY want to give up what precious little free time I have and not run any errands before I get J or do I just go to White Marsh and buy a new pair of jeans?" And that is where the adventure began...

Confessions of a "Sucky Halloween Mom"

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Every year I have the best of intentions - I dream of pumpkin cookies, fantastic costumes, a terrific party, good friends and great times.  And every year Halloween descends and finds me scrambling for costumes, buying cookies and breathing into a brown paper bag. (and no...I'm not freaking out because it's Halloween - I'm freaking out because EVERYONE knows Christmas is only 2 weeks later - or at least that's how it seems)

Last year my son dressed as a red ant. He needed a sign to tell people this - because it wasn't apparent from his red pants & sweater - even after we added an extra set of arms! I'm trying to convince him to go this year as an annoying 8 year old - he already has the perfect costume!

This year we're in the middle of moving and are yet again pumpkin-less. We do have the spooky CSI house thing - if you count the sudden last hurrah of nine million flies! But it's NOT the Halloween of my dreams.

I suppose dreams are good - they give us a reason to try harder. Meanwhile - if you see my kids on Halloween wearing trash bags w/ real trash glued to it - please be kind!!! (and send extra chocolate home for me - I'm particularly fond of peanut butter cups!)

Meanwhile...there's always Next year!  Happy Halloween!

아메리칸 룰렛The Great Bathroom Hunt

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

The Traveling Porta-PottyMotherhood is the most amazing experience on earth (not having left the third rock, I can't speak for other places).  I am constantly amazed by the intricate details of life that non-parents would never, ever consider.

Take bathrooms, for example.

For most of us, a bathroom is a simple necessity of life.  Though we prefer to use private facilities, we will, when necessary, seek out the public restroom. For kids - using a new and different bathroom is like a mini trip to Disneyland (and much more affordable).  I expected to spend the toddler years in more public bathrooms than I knew existed - and was not disappointed.  Indeed, with three children we spent more time in restrooms than we did in the stores or restaurants! In fact - we ended up deciding WHERE to go by choosing the best bathroom!

"I'm NOT going to that McDonald's near your parents - the bathroom is filthy!"

"NO! We can't go play at the Burger King playground - they don't have a changing table!"  (this was a NEW BK north of Frederick, complete with playground. I asked the OWNER why there wasn't a changing table in a CHILD friendly restaurant and was told they were "too dirty". I threatened to change my baby's diaper on their front counter, but never got up the nerve to follow through!)

Turns out that high-end malls have the best bathrooms - and the most! Since they also have awesome play areas and multiple book stores it was a perfect family destination for a couple with three kids aged 3 and under.

Then we moved to the country. No malls - but LOTS of cornfields. We started carrying a child's potty chair in the back of the van, complete with plastic grocery bags to line the pot. We had to pull off the road more times than I can count - but it worked. I was VERY excited when the last child became school age - no more traveling potty chairs!!

Turns out their fascination with bathrooms - and need to use bathrooms frequently - did NOT change. The kid's are now 8, 10 & 11 - and I STILL spend more time looking for bathrooms than I spend doing laundry (which might explain why I'm dressed in mis-matched stripes).  Just yesterday we visited Grandma - 75 minutes away. Knowing my children, I made sure they all "went" before we left. [for those without children - this involves telling EACH child at least three times, then quizzing them, then sending them AGAIN (cause they failed the quiz), quizzing again, Repeat until all three kids answer affirmatively.  (don't worry if they don't have shoes - they're only going to Grandma's).

Tales of Rodeo & Bull Hockey!

The QAC Fair hosts a Rodeo the final Saturday. Everyone should experience at least ONE rodeo - here's ours!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Bull RidingI live in the country, surrounded by farm animals and miles of corn and soybeans. I lived in New York City for close to a decade, surrounded by concrete, steel and six or seven million people all wanting to live on the same three square miles. For the remaining years I existed in Suburbia, complete with strip malls, parking lots and overprotective mothers. My point being – I have not lived an isolated life – I’ve been around. I didn’t think there was much left on U.S. soil that could surprise me!

And then my family attended our first rodeo.

The Spoiled Under-30 Crowd!

by John K. Johnson

We all have one (or more) friends who send us every stupid email in the world; every dumb joke, every cause - real or not, every outrage (again, real or not).  Most of us delete 99% of these emails and get on with our lives.  Me, I tend to read them, scream at them, research them and send them back to the original sender with the results of my research telling them just how WRONG the email was.

However, every once in a while, you get one that is worth your time, you read it, you enjoy it, you share it with your significant other, or forward it to you email list - or you post it on your website!


 When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking Twenty-five miles to school every morning....

 Uphill... Barefoot... BOTH ways ...Yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in &*^% I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!
But now that... I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today.  You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a $#^% Utopia!


by Mary McCarthy
If you are a newcomer to Centreville, you will need a little vocabulary lesson. We moved to Cville in 2001, then I served on the Centreville Town Council (2004-2007), so the last 8 years have offered ample opportunity for me to learn the lingo of the land. Here’s a little list to help you get started:

Chicken Necker: This means, according to Urban Dictionary:

“Slang commonly used on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to describe a tourist or someone who is not from that area. Comes from the practice of using chicken necks as crab bait.

Eg: These g.d. chicken neckers always turn 50/301 into a parking lot during weekends in July.”

Although I do not use chicken necks to catch crabs (my preferred method is driving to a crab seller and catching them in brown paper bags), I am considered a chicken necker because I do not have three or more generations of family members in an Eastern Shore cemetery. I embrace my chicken necker-ality. If you complain about something in Centreville, natives are happy to remind chicken neckers that ‘the bridge is free on the way back.’

The Beast Within

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson
I met a delightful older man yesterday, sitting with his equally delightful Pembroke Welsh Corgi. The Corgi wasn't that interested in us - she was content to sit by her master's feet, eying him adoringly. The man chatted about the many attributes of his dog - her obedience, her dedication to him, her calm demeanor.

I mentioned that I was currently going through dog training classes with my less than calm lab pup. He acknowledged that he had indeed taken his lady to puppy kindergarten once - "but she really didn't need it - she just always behaves." In that infinitesimal moment I hated that kind, charming gentleman.

And his little dog, too.

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