Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Wordzzle Mini

As written by our own dear Charly:

The California doctor, an old crank on good days, saw his assistant use his stethoscope to strangle the red-headed night nurse while on duty late one night. The doctor needing alimony money sent a blackmail letter to the assistant the next day. Unfortunately, the letter was returned three days later for insufficient postage. Imagine his chagrin as he opened up the morning newspaper and saw where his assistant had been arrested. Umm, perhaps he could outsmart the cops as he revisited the killing scene in his mind..he reached for the phone to arrange a meeting with his wife. As he left his apartment, he put his stethoscope in his pocket.    

Anyone else? E-mail us!

Wordzzle #3

This is the third week of a "Saturday Puzzle" for the Friends blog. For the 
foreseeable future (subject to pre-emption by FRRL business) the blogger will post a word challenge for our devotees. Let us know what you think!

wordzzle challenge is where you take 10 preselected words and make a short paragraph from them. There is also a mini, where you do the same with 5. And if you're an enthusiast, you can do all 15! If you want more guidance, look here at the blog views from Raven's Nest.

Once you are satisfied with your paragraph, you can post it as a comment to this post, OR, e-mail it to us here.

These are the words you were to use this week: parasite, meals on wheels, crows, it's my fault, everything but the kitchen sink, on sale, patriotism, the love of my life, library card, common sense

For the mini: blackmail, California, stethoscope, postage, crank

Why don't you play along?  Here are the words for the NEXT Wordzzle. You have until next Saturday!

Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: swashbuckler, heads-up, dry martini, recovery, jungle gym, whiskers, bathing suit, spade, circular reasoning, abrasive

The Mini Challenge: butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, stagnation, chart, star crossed lovers, apricot brandy

At the request of some, the blogger brought back the hooded man for her offering this week. Just the challenge, not the mini.

The hooded man hurried through the alleys of the old city, moving steadily as the dark of evening descended. He ducked suddenly through a doorway and entered a room filled with everything but the kitchen sink, all of it the detritus of past civilizations. “Angelo!” he called. “I’m back.” A door in the back, almost indistinguishable in the hazy darkness, opened. A tall giant of a man emerged. He made an odd picture. He was wearing a long red gown, was heavily bearded, and his shoulders served as perches for two crows, one on each side. “Were you noticed?” Angelo asked. “I’m afraid so. It’s my fault for being so close to the site,” the hooded man answered. “Where was your common sense?” Angelo inquired, an eyebrow perched high like a look-out. “I know -- I’m sorry. Those old ruins are the love of my life,” said the hooded man.

“No one followed me,” he continued.” I made sure of that. I came the long way.” “Well,
 Angelo conceded, “it doesn’t matter now. How much time do you think we have?” The hooded man considered, and answered, “Red, Blue and Silver were all there, but they have much further to go to report and receive instruction. So, I think perhaps 3 hours?”

“Alright, you’ll have to find a different look for when you return.  You can wear one of those uniforms.” Angelo gestured to a rack of dusty uniforms representing many countries. All of them were discards from colonial powers who had once occupied their country. “Those aren’t even current!” the hooded man objected. “Just combine enough pieces to look smart, and act like you’re in charge. These idiots are so full of pre-colonial patriotism, they won’t be able to tell whether you’re a military official or a meals on wheels provider,” Angelo rejoined. “Now tell me about the parasites at the dig. Have they figured out what the figure is?”

The hooded man moved over to the uniforms. As he started rummaging through them, he talked back over his shoulder to the giant. “I don’t think so. That lead excavator was practically salivating at the sculpture. They’ve left guards on it for the night.”

Angelo directed, “then find a uniform and you can go back tonight. Sound official and convince them they must show you that the find is still intact. Make lots of noise about foreigners trying to steal our cultural treasures.” The hooded man turned toward him. “I don’t have any identification or credentials to get closer to the site!” he exclaimed. “Bah!” cried Angelo. “Those cretins won’t be able to tell that from just looking at you. Flash a library card and they’ll let you in!” He handed the hooded man a small pen. “This has a camera in it. Use it to take photos of the sculpture. We must be the first to have them. I’ll alert the crew to begin formulation. Time is of the essence.”

The hooded man sighed, and put the pen in his pocket. “Angelo,” he began to ask, “must I wear the hood? I would like some other name in this story than the hooded man!” “Well,” the big man began. “I don’t think you should wear the hood with a uniform. Okay. You can take it off.” The hooded man smiled in relief. “That was getting quite old!”

The next morning at dawn Dr. Hill began his morning walk to the site. As he passed the shopkeepers, he greeted them. Many of them responded with a smirk. Dr. Hill wasn’t quite sure what was being conveyed by those looks. He decided to cut through the market to grab a newspaper, certain that the smirks meant some foreigner had done something grievous again. As he entered the market square he looked around him in astonishment. All over the market place replicas of the sculpture from the site were on sale! “How could this have happened?” he wondered aloud. “Could it be connected with the hooded man that I saw watching us yesterday?” One of the vendors took pity on him. “No, Dr. Hill. Not the hooded man. Perhaps the man with the unusual uniform though.”


Friday, May 29, 2009

Call for Volunteers

Why would anyone want to be part of this?

Because it means that you're part of this...

and this.

We are always interested in friendly, energetic, physically able, DOERS to join our ranks. Our Friends group has one of the highest rates of active participation in the County. We like to think that it is because we have fun together. Isn't it great that we also make a difference for the future? It's easy to join. You can e-mail us. You can use the link on the sidebar. You can get a membership application when you're at the library. Rates are reasonable, benefits are generational.

Photos by Darlene


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Interesting Offers on Amazon

If you know what Towel Day is, and in fact, just recently celebrated it (or considered doing so), you'll probably know what Douglas C. Adams book is on Amazon this week at the Friends of Reston Regional Library site.
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a classic science fiction book full of humor and whimsy. You probably have a copy, but what about someone graduating from high school in a couple of weeks? Doesn't that person need something whimsical to take to college? This copy is a leather bound deluxe edition, in excellent condition, for $60.

Here's something in Japanese. The blogger knows just enough to know that the first word Nihongo refers to the Japanese language and the word Sensei refers to teacher. Other than that, 
you're on your own to figure out why you need this book. Of course, if you can understand the title, you know what it is! Priced at $75, it is a very visually appealing book, and hopefully full of treasures that YOU can unlock!

And, something that has been translated for you already. 
The Five Books of Moses: The  Schocken Bible, Volume 1, Deluxe Edition purports to translate the Torah from Hebrew to English while maintaining the poetry of the original language. It is recommended to all biblical scholars, Jewish or Christian. Our copy is $24.

These are just a sampling of the books on our site. When you get there, take the time to browse. You might find something you'd like to purchase!  Let us know. If you're a local current Friend, skip postage and get it from us directly!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spring Book Sale Take Down

There's a blog called "Wordless Wednesday." It's where people post photos that need no explanation. You'll probably see it here again...when there's no Friends news. The link:

photos by Darlene

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Intelligence Sources and Stories

World War II: OSS Tragedy in Slovakia by Jim Downs (2002): This description of the contents of this book is from Our copy is as unread, and is $40.
This is a dramatic account of the DAWES mission which the Office of Strategic Services ran in Slovakia in the fall of 1944. As the Slovak National Uprising raged, the Americans were caught in the middle. Forced to flee the rebel capital, the Americans evaded German patrols in the Prasiva Range in severe winter conditions. The day after Christmas, a German patrol surprised the main American Party and captured most of the personnel. Heinrich Himmler in Berlin ordered the prisoners sent to Mauthausen concentration camp where they were brutalized and then shot. Maria Gulovich, a Slovak school teacher who had joined the mission, luckily survived. General Bill Donovan brought her to the U.S. after the war and she became the first woman ever decorated at West Point. 

Intelligence and the Cuban Missile Crisis by David A. Welch (1998)
This description of the contents of this book is from Our copy is as unread, and is $42.
Intelligence and the Cuban Missile Crisis examines for the first time the role and performance of all three intelligence communities centrally involved in this seminal event: American, Soviet and Cuban. The ways in which organizational and personality variables affect the political exploitation of intelligence is assessed followed by an analysis of the psychology of intelligence assessment, showing how common cognitive and motivational pathologies can explain crucial errors of inference and attribution made by all three intelligence communities. In closing, the lessons of the volume as a whole are reflected upon for the theory and practice of intelligence assessment, and for our understanding of the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

Sharing the Secrets: Open Source Intelligence and the War on Drugs by J.F. Holden-Rhodes. This description of the contents of this book is from Our copy is as unread, and is $78.
Against the backdrop of U.S. drug policy and strategy, this important work, written by an experienced Intelligence and Special Operations Officer and Scholar, peels away the rhetoric to present an insider's view of cocaine trafficking in the Western Hemisphere. From the Huallaga and Chapare Valleys, through the cocaine transit countries to the U.S. border, this book compares and contrasts the enormous success of the traffickers to the monolithic U.S. drug policy that produces no "end-game" and conceals its failures behind a "classified" stamp. Drawing on his experience as the Counter Drug Intelligence Team Leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory and as a "Black Hat" Team member with the U.S. Southern Command, the author approaches drug trafficking from the narcotraficantes point of view to paint a picture that portrays the cocaine industry as it really is. Arguing that it is impossible to stop drugs at their source, the author builds a compelling case for shifting U.S. assets to the southern borders of the United States, through a strategy that causes the traffickers to pass through a series of obstacles designed to slow and impede their operations.
Identifying drug trafficking as an examplar of the Gray Area Phenomena--the impact of non-state players and organizations on a post-colonial, multi-tribal world--the author brings a currency to his work using Open Source Intelligence as the vehicle by which the drug trafficking world may be assessed and analyzed. Sharing the Secrets offers an "Intelligence" for the new world disorder that enables decision-makers to recognize and define the new threats and suggests how realistic policy and strategy might be evaluated and re-cast. This work will be of particular interest to policy-makers, law enforcement and Intelligence professionals, and scholars as it "opens the book to the right page" and provides for the first time the stubborn facts that they may have been neglecting in the war on drugs. Sharing the Secrets is a body of descriptive, proscriptive, and prescriptive material that will enable serious public discusion to begin on national drug policy and strategy. 

If you are interested in any of these books, and are a current local Friend of Reston Regional Library, you may purchase them sans postage. Just contact us! 


Monday, May 25, 2009


All Fairfax County Public Libraries are closed for Memorial Day May 24 and 25, 2009. Additionally, new hours and new fees have been announced that will be effective July 1, 2009. These changes reflect the state of the budget.

From the FCPL Website:

The Fairfax County Public Library will reduce its hours, increase fines and establish new fees as a result of a county decrease in revenues and a 15 percent cut to the library’s fiscal year (FY) 2010 budget. Changes will take effect July 1, 2009.
All library branches will close earlier Monday through Thursday; regional branches will be open 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. 

The new schedule follows:

Monday - Wed (all branches) 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Thursday, Friday (all branches) 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Saturday (all branches) 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday (regional branches only) 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

*regional branches include CentrevilleChantillyCity of FairfaxGeorge MasonPohickRestonSherwood and Tysons-Pimmit.

The Board of Trustees has also approved the following fines and established new fees; the new fees and fines will go into effect beginning July 1:

  • The daily charge for overdue materials will be 30 cents for both adult and children's materials
  • A charge of $1 will be assessed to customers who do not have their library cards with them but would like to check out materials, place holds or conduct other transactions, but
  • A guest pass will be required ($2) for visitors, non library card holders or those who do not have their library cards with them to use the public computers
An additional policy change will affect some customers July 1. The library accounts of customers who owe more than $15 or who have owed any amount for more than one year will be blocked; customers will not be able to place holds, check items out, renew items or use the public computers. The budget cuts have also required the library to eliminate more than 300 part-time positions, re-align library staff and reduce expenditures on the collection in FY2010 by $1 million. Please visit for information about the county budget.

Your local branch staff members are on the receiving end of these cuts in terms of hours available to work, supply lines getting tighter, and fewer personnel available to do more tasks. Please do not take out your frustration on them! If we all work together, we will get through this in a peaceable manner.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Wordzzle #2

This is the second week of a "Saturday Puzzle" for the Friends blog. For the foreseeble future (subject to pre-emption by FRRL business) the blogger will post a word challenge for our devotees. Let us know what you think!

A wordzzle challenge is where you take 10 preselected words and make a short paragraph from them. There is also a mini, where you do the same with 5. And if you're an enthusiast, you can do all 15! If you want more guidance, look here at the blog views from Raven's Nest.

Once you are satisfied with your paragraph, you can post it as a comment to this post, OR, e-mail it to us here.

If you're ready to begin, here are the words.

Challenge: albino, trench, marble, assistant, Indian, What's that supposed to mean?, sound first principles, the key thing, moat, curtain
Mini: under the surface, doomed, grand design, temple, aspirin
Maxi: All of them

Here's the FRRL blogger's week #2 attempt.  I have no doubt many of you can do better!


It is bittersweet to watch my son grow into a man. I know it is God’s grand design to take him from snuggly, giggly little towhead to an adult who can think ahead and plan his future. I miss the snuggly, giggly one though. I sigh because in the modern temple of commerce it seems he is doomed to seeking a profession that will provide sufficient means for him to provide for a family as well as pay for the economic missteps of his ancestors. As his shoulders broaden, his voice deepens and his gait lengthens, I search for the mischievous grin that lurks under the surface, hoping to see humor retained as one of his great gifts to others. My husband and I try to guide him gently in his choices, fully realizing that this is his own sojourn. We can offer him the benefit of our experiences, but he will encounter his own headaches, and will develop his own aspirin. Will he discover a better way of doing things—one that changes lives for the better? Will he slice the sky like a knife in the jet fighter he aspires to? I pray that he will know the joy of fatherhood and that God graces him with a supportive, loving, wife and many children (okay, that part is for me).  He jumps on his bike to head to school, his lanky frame draped over the mechanical transportation, his helmet firmly in place. To be a mother is to be left. Each day’s parting is a sweet sorrow as he comes home from school a little bit more of ‘out there’ and a little bit less of ‘in here.’ Ah well, we’ve come a long way from when he wanted to grow up to be a puppy.


Dr. Hill, the eminent archaeologist, was musing about the bad fortune he’d had this time out. One stupid accident after another, weather that seemed to anticipate when he needed the opposite of what it was going to provide, and so far, nothing to show for the thousands of dollars invested by his university and private venture capitalists. Working in a career field plagued with Indiana Jones wanna-be’s, and surrounded by superstitious field workers, Hill was beginning to feel twitchy himself. A hooded man had shown up each day at sunrise, watched them all day, and disappeared each evening with the sunset. The scientist thought the man might be an albino, protecting his skin and eyes. The hooded man never spoke, just watched. It was creepy. “Dr. Hill! Come to see!” he heard a call. Stepping over the small moat created by the spring rains, Hill approached the trench with curiosity. His Indian assistant was almost quivering with the excitement of the find. “Sir, we believe the piece is still intact, and sir, it is marble!” Arjen said. Hill got down on his knees in front of the curiously shaped piece. It was the size of his wife’s bichon friese dog and probably more intelligent, even if it was made of marble. The item hung, half exposed, from the side of the trench. It was bulbous in some areas, sheared flat as if cut by a laser in others, and covered with symbols that were unlike anything he’d seen in his thirty years digging. Hill ran his hand over one of the shapes and murmured, “Now what’s that supposed to mean?” He turned to Arjen, “when did you discover it?” “At about 7 p.m. yesterday evening,” the young man replied.  He went on, “Complying with sound first principles, and your explicit orders, we left it in situ, with a guard on it all night until you could return to see it this morning.”  Hill smiled, “Very good. As you know, the key thing is to preserve the site!” Now let’s get something up to protect our work from prying…the weather.” The workers scrambled to get a curtain rigged as Hill continued to examine the artifact. Nearby, the hooded man melted into the onlookers, and disappeared.


Under the surface, Angelina seethed with emotion. She knew that the design was ostentatious. Actually, outrageous was the better description. The grand design of the edifice lent itself to the worst of what outsiders believed Hollywood to represent. The client had insisted on a moat around the property, a subterranean passage (which in actuality was just a trench lined with bright fuchsia curtains), and ended at a massive entrance door adorned with carvings that were faintly reminiscent of Indian pictographs but without any apparent meaning. Worse, the client insisted on the doorkeeper position being occupied by his albino half-brother. They looked enough alike that visitors did a double take, believing they were seeing the negative print of the owner of this temple to decadence. As Angelina prepared for the final installation of a particularly hideous water fountain in the atrium, it was difficult remember that the key thing in the design had been to please the client, not make the designer heave.  “If only,” Angelina began, “if only I had been able to prevail on sound first principles, we might not be in THIS position!” “What’s that supposed to mean?” asked her assistant.  Angelina, not noticing that the client was hovering anxiously in the shadows, answered foolishly, ‘in design, less is often more. We want people to come here and be blessed with a feeling of serenity, not feel doomed to an aspirin-inducing experience!” A shriek and dramatic collapse alerted Angelina to the fact that once again, her mouth had run away with her good sense and she had articulated an unkindness. As everyone rushed around to tend the client, Angelina began to pack her gear to leave. She knew that she’d never get another normal design commission again, and now because of her mouth, she’d probably never get any abnormal ones either!



The Annual General Membership Meeting of the Friends of Reston Regional Library, Inc.  (FRRL)  occurred on Wednesday evening, May 20. The following individuals have been elected to serve as officers of the organization for the next calendar year:

  • Brian Jacoby, President
  • Michael Kenney, Vice President/Membership
  • Jennifer Scutella, Treasurer
  • Judy Konnert, Recording Secretary
  • Pamela Chin, Member at Large
  • Rik Karlsson, Member at Large
  • Kelley Westenhoff, Member at Large

Congratulations and much success to these individuals! We know that with all the upcoming changes in library operation due to the budget restraints, these officers will have their work cut out for them this year. Stay tuned for details!


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ceramics on Amazon

From RestonFriends1 at Amazon, two volumes, freshly posted, to appeal to ceramics collectors.  Published by Chipstone Foundation, these contain a diverse range of essays, new discoveries, and book reviews on the latest research of interest to scholars and collectors of this genre. Both volumes are as new, appear to be unread. The 2001 volume (paperback) is $24. The 2008 volume (hardback) is $36.

If you are interested in them, please click this link! If you are local and a current Friends member and want to avoid paying postage, contact us here.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Tonight, May 20 at 6 p.m. is our Friends of the Reston Regional Library, Inc. annual meeting. During this time we will elect officers for the next year and accomplish regular business. The meeting is open to the public at the Reston Regional Library. Members are especially encouraged to attend.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Brains and Beauty

We have a couple of books at our Friends1 Amazon storefront that will be of interest to those readers in any way involved with counseling.

The DSM-IV Casebook: A Learning Companion To The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th Ed.) (Hardcover) is exactly what its title says -- a casebook that allows students in the field to use the DSM-IV clinical manual with ease and some authority. The comments on 
amazon by people who have purchased this book really say it all. Our copy appears to be brand-new, never used. It is $18 at RestonFriends1.

Also useful to those working in the mental health field is 
Psychiatric  Care Plans: Guidelines for Individualizing Care.  It bills itself as a "quick reference manual on critical thinking and nursing processes." It comes with a CD -- which is still sealed. It appears this book was never used. $18 at RestonFriends1.

And to offer something lighter and more soul-feeding, Reston Friends brings you Annie Leibovitz at Work, a hardcover book published in 2008. One of the strengths of the work is that those reviewers who purchased it expecting a very different kind of "how to" book, were still so enchanted by it that they loved the book. We offer it for $24 at RestonFriends1.

Remember, if you are a current local Friend of Reston Regional Library, you can
 purchase any of these books without incurring shipping charges. Just e-mail us!


Monday, May 18, 2009

Brunetti To The Rescue

A Book Review

When a world famous conductor dies during the intermission of an opera in Venice, Commissario Guido Brunetti is called in to investigate the death. The how, where and when of the case are clear. The conductor died of cyanide poisoning in his dressing room between acts. But who killed him and why are very much in question. As Brunetti investigates, he finds that while the Maestro’s musical talent was much admired, his personal history is so unpleasant that there are many who might be moved to revenge.  Brunetti’s hunt for the murderer takes him to parts of Venice that even most Venetians never experience. He has a plethora of suspects, but Brunetti knows in his heart that he hasn’t reached the real reason behind the murder.  In pursuit of ancient stories that might provide a clue, Brunetti goes out to a ‘reject island’ to talk to a former opera singer. The damp and cold that sink into his bones are magnified by the story he finally extracts from the destitute old woman. Clearly she did not murder the conductor, but can a tragedy 40 years old point Brunetti in the right direction?

If you’ve never met Commissario Guido Brunetti, and you like mysteries, this is the summer you should make his acquaintance. He is a charming character, a man who lives within his means and who is largely pleased with his wife, children, and in general, life. His imbecile boss could be a fly in an otherwise pleasant ointment, but Brunetti avoids taking him too seriously by mentally betting on the boss’s next action or words. If Brunetti wins, he buys his wife flowers. Brunetti is the only one who knows about the bets, but he usually wins. It is another of the light touches author Donna Leon has crafted to endear Brunetti to the reader.  He is a thoroughly likeable, honest, romantic man, genuinely concerned with what the truth in a matter is, yet compassionate and responsible about what the truth might reveal in a public setting.

The setting of the story, Venice, is seen through the eyes of a resident rather than a tourist or researcher. This makes it gritty and real. Except for the opera house, the story largely avoids the tourist attractions, churches and art. Instead, it focuses on regular people and how their lives intersect with Brunetti as he pursues his quarry. I will be forever grateful to the author for introducing me to a wonderful new word in her description of Venice at night. Who would ever guess that a gondola could be numinous? (Look it up!)

This is an older book, first published in hardback in 1992, and paperback in 2002 by Perennial Dark Alley, an imprint of HarperCollins. This copy was acquired at the Spring 09 Semi-Annual Used Book Sale for $2. With a great mystery, a great character and an absolutely brilliant resolution, Death at La Fenice was well worth the price.


Saturday, May 16, 2009


This is the inaugural week of a "Saturday Puzzle" for the Friends blog. For the foreseeble future (subject to pre-emption by FRRL business) the blogger will post a word challenge for our devotees. Let us know what you think!

A wordzzle challenge is where you take 10 preselected words and make a short paragraph from them. There is also a mini, where you do the same with 5. And if you're an enthusiast, you can do all 15! If you want more guidance, look here at the blog views from Raven's Nest.

Once you are satisfied with your paragraph, you can post it as a comment to this post, OR, e-mail it to us here.

If you're ready to begin, here are the words.

The words for this week's ten word challenge are:  Green goddess, shampoo, filibuster, please and thank you, Operation Marigold, throw pillows, up the creek without a paddle, spandex, ubiquitous, wedding ring.

Mini Challenge: Skittles, lamb chops, stingray, chagrin, clever devil

And here are the blogger's attempts:

It all started one day when a young Senate page named Phyllis ordered a salad with Green Goddess dressing. “Why not?” she thought. “Back in Dayton I would have never tried something new like this!” A sparkle deep in the romaine caught her eye. Stealthily digging deeper, she was surprised to see a foreign object nestled in the bowl. Understanding the deeper meaning, she glanced around the restaurant, hoping that her actions were unnoticed. She muttered to herself, “my mother always taught me to say please and thank you, but I doubt she envisioned this scenario!” What to do? Leaning back into the throw pillows on the banquette seating, Phyllis pondered the implication. That late night operation Marigold had involved her in, the one with the chef and the banjo player at the National Zoo, was creating complications. Realizing that items such as the one she had found in her salad are not ubiquitous in Washington, D.C. for young women, she pondered keeping it a secret. If she was caught by the sender, it would take her on a path from single Senate page to life in the suburbs. But if she kept it and hocked it, she’d have a nice bit of cash to get her kayak back on the Potomac. She would no longer be up the creek without a paddle. Motioning to the spandex-clad, big-haired waitress, Phyllis momentarily gagged on the wave of herbal shampoo that ran before the waitress like a bow wave. “Yes ma’am? Did you want something?” the girl asked. Phyllis managed to choke out the words, “I’d like to change my order to a Filibuster Burger.” The waitress started to clear the salad. “No!” Phyllis stopped her. “I still want the salad; I just want something more to go with it! And please apologize to the chef for me!” As soon as the waitress went through the doors to the kitchen to put the additional order in, Phyllis threw a $20 on the table, scooped the wedding ring out of the bowl, thrust it deep into her pocket, and headed for the boathouse.


Skittles wasn’t really a bad stingray as stingrays go. He just liked to scare people. They were the ones who had given him the stupid name. They even posted it over the tank at the National Aquarium where he lived. “Skittles the Stingray” it said. All the other stingrays, and even some of the sharks, liked to tease him about it. “So what color are you today?” they’d ask. Or, “what flavor would you be if I bit you on the tail?” they’d taunt. He had just suffered a vicious bout of teasing from them and was thinking about it as he circled the tank. To be honest, he was dwelling on it, nursing it into a little burn of anger, letting the anger fuel his swimming speed. As he swam under the overhead walkway he saw a small child leaning over the tank. Rolling in toward the child, Skittles winked. The little boy smiled delightedly. He pulled on the hand of the adult with him, but she was too busy working an electronic device to pay attention. The boy leaned farther. Skittles looped around and sailed by a second time, winking twice this time. The little boy pulled free of the adult and clapped his hands as his eyes tried to follow the stingray’s path. His fat little arms looked like luscious lamb chops to the clever devil. The third time around Skittles increased his speed and used the bow wave from a passing shark to increase his upward thrust. As he broke the surface, ready to whip the boy with his tail, the adult suddenly looked up, and much to Skittles’ chagrin, grabbed the boy back from the edge. As Skittles sailed through the air and landed with a belly flop back in the tank, he let out a blue sour raspberry, which caused all the fish in the tank to break out in hysterical fish laughter.  The Aquarium had to shut down temporarily as the humans investigated the massive bubbling in the tank.  As the little boy looked back, he saw a rainbow of taste briefly suspended over the tank…and marveled.


The boys outdoor club members assembled for the beginning of Operation Marigold. “Listen up!” the leader cried. “You need to assemble back here in exactly 8 hours with all the items on the scavenger hunt list. If someone helps you, be sure to say please and thank you! None of these items are ubiquitous so you’ll have to be clever devils to get them all. If you fail, the entire group is up the creek without a paddle!” One boy raised his hand, “Sir, when will we have lunch and what will we eat?” The leader roared, Skittles! You’ll eat Skittles! And if you’re lucky, we’ll have lamb chops for dinner!” Much to the boy’s chagrin the leader added, “and thank you, Simon, for focusing on your belly!” Another boy timidly raised his hand. “Sir, what’s the prize for winning Operation Marigold?” “That’s classified, Filibuster!” answered the leader. (That boy’s parents had conceived him during a prolonged stall of action in the Senate when they both worked on the Hill). “Finally, there is a significant penalty for coming back early! Do not be here before 1800 hours! Now get going!” the leader yelled as he climbed into his Corvette Stingray. He carefully removed his wedding ring and adjusted his spandex shorts. The boys wouldn’t be back for eight hours. Plenty of time to shower and shampoo, go to his tent, fluff the throw pillows, and await the Green Goddess, Marigold herself.

This is fun -- try it!