Sign of the times

  1. I just got back to our home in Martinsburg, West Virginia after spending the morning at my radio newscasting gig in Washington, D.C.
  2. My wife woke up this morning in Charleston, West Virginia’s state capital. She was there for work.
  3. Our teenage daughter woke up in Buckhannon, West Virginia, where she and a friend are touring West Virginia Wesleyan today. I’m trying to ignore the fact that our youngest kid will be making college decisions soon.
  4. I’m still getting used to my son being away at college. I’m not much of a football fan, but I’m watching West Virginia University play Oklahoma State in hopes of catching a glimpse of him. He’s a member of the Pride of West Virginia, the WVU Marching Band.

Guess I better get used this.


Christmas trees mean never having to set an alarm in the morning

Maybe it’s the excitement of the holidays.

Maybe it’s the crazy hours radio people keep.

Or maybe my body clock is simply shifting as I get older.

For whatever reason, twice this week I rolled out of bed at 4:00 a.m.

That’s actually not so unusual when you take into account my 1:00 a.m. workday wake-up call. But I’m whining about it because it happened ON. MY. DAYS. OFF!

The first time, I shrugged it off as an anomaly, flipped on the coffee pot and complained about the hour on Facebook.

I did the same thing the second time.

If it happens again next week, I may go see my doctor.

Then again, my inability to sleep like a teenager lately may not turn out to be a medical condition. Age and work hours notwithstanding, I suspect it may have something more to do with our Christmas tree.

We’ve been cutting down our tree at the same farm for years and this year was no different. The annual trip out there is a pleasant family tradition. It helps mark the start of the season for us.

Other families apparently feel the same way.

The farm was a popular place to be on the day we drove out there. It was crowded with people choosing from among the spruce, fir and pine trees arranged in long rows on the hillsides of the spacious farm. Others had already made their choices and were tying down their trees on top their cars or securing them in the bed of their pickups.

After we finally found a spot to park, I grabbed our saw and set off  with my wife and our daughter. We walked to the same general area we seem to go every year while casting a critical eye over the available trees.

There were skinny ones and plump ones, trees that were too short and trees that were too tall and, to make like Dr. Seuss, others that would not do at all. A few were found wanting because they had a gap in their foliage. Others because they leaned too far to one side or the top didn’t meet our preference.

In the end, we chose what we believed to be a nice looking tree. And if you won’t take my word for it, ask the neighbor who walked by when I was hauling it into the house.

After he complimented our choice, I thanked him. But then I joked that it wouldn’t be such a great tree if it refused to stand up.

We both had a good laugh, but I was being serious. I’ve had all sorts of trouble over the years with Christmas trees falling down and others that made my right eye twitch because they would not stop leaning precariously as if they were wavering on the edge of a cliff.

For now, this year’s tree seems solid enough. It’s standing tall in our living room, fully decked out in the decorations we’ve accumulated over the years.

But I can’t escape the fear of another Christmas tree calamity. And, it’s apparently such a worry that it’s jerking me awake before my time.

Christmas trees make me THAT paranoid, so I guess I’ll just have to get used to rising early this holiday season — whether I want to or not.

Marching band dad

A day after West Virginia University’s Ginny Thrasher won the first gold medal at the Rio Olympics, I’m in Morgantown.

Our son is starting his college career a week early. We’re here for band camp. He’s a freshman member of  the Mountaineer Marching Band, otherwise known as “The Pride of West Virginia.”

Today was registration day.

No more basement living for our oldest kid. Tomorrow, it’s sink or swim. We’re moving him into his dorm room and then I’m leaving him to it.

He probably won’t ever win Olympic gold, but I feel like there should be some sort of prize for parents who have gotten their kids this far.

Ghosts of Shepherdstown

I guess it’s fitting that the moment I sat down to write this, thunder boomed and lightening lit the sky.

The storm made our usually happy home feel as though it belonged in the establishing shot of an old horror movie. All that was missing was ominous organ music.

A more cautious man might have taken the storm as a sign to GO NO FURTHER because something REALLY SCARY was REALLY ANGRY.

But I’m not much of a believer in things that go BOO in the night. I generally don’t lose much sleep over the supernatural.

Lately, however, I’ve been drawn to the TV show “Ghosts of Shepherdstown.” You could even say it’s been keeping me from my busy nap schedule.

I have more than a passing interest.

For one thing, I consider Shepherdstown, West Virginia to be the seat of all Snyder power in the world.

I may not have grown up there (I was raised in Charleston, the state capital), but my Snyder forbears settled in Shepherdstown decades before the Civil War. Some family members still live there.

To steal a line from “Game of Thrones,” you could say there is always a Snyder in Shepherdstown, just as there must always be a Stark in Winterfell. Otherwise, who knows what might happen?

In this case, the dead didn’t exactly rise, but an old family ghost story DID get dramatized in a TV show.

You can thank – at least in part – my late Uncle Jack for the show’s claim that Shepherdstown is the most haunted town in America. Decades ago, he coaxed the old family ghost stories from his Aunts, the three daughters of his grandfather, Harry Lambright Snyder, the editor of the defunct “Shepherdstown Register” newspaper.

“Ghosts of Shepherdstown” is on the Destination America channel, but I initially found the show online after my wife brought it to my attention. A friend told her about an episode based on an old Snyder story Jack preserved about my great-grandmother haunting the old family home.

The first time I saw it, I half expected to see bats take flight and Scooby-Doo and the gang roll into town in the Mystery Machine. Scooby and Shaggy bumbling their way through Shepherdstown to 1970s bubblegum pop songs would have been a pleasure to see.

Instead, I felt like the story of my great-grandmother’s untimely death in a horse-and-buggy accident was ginned up to benefit someone else.

It’s been a few weeks since I first watched “Ghosts of Shepherdstown,” enough time for me to now see the humor. I can also take some pleasure that my Uncle Jack’s work to preserve family lore bore some fruit

Yet I also can’t help but think we’d all be better off if only those meddling kids had turned up to unmask the villain.

I’d go see ‘Star Trek’ but I’m too shook up

All things being equal, this should be a nerdy weekend for me, just not in the way you’d expect.

“Star Trek: Beyond,” the latest movie set in the rebooted universe, is in theaters.

But it’s opening the same weekend that my kids are appearing in the annual summer show at the Apollo Theater in our hometown – Martinsburg, West Virginia.

They are participating in the Apollo’s Youth Summer Theatre Workshop staging of the Elvis musical “All Shook Up.”

The show opens tonight with performances scheduled through the weekend.

I never thought I’d be faced with a choice between “Star Trek” and a musical.

Good thing I’m more nerdy about my kids.

Otherwise, the lure of “Star Trek” might be too much to resist.



I rediscovered my Crocs and now my daughter can’t unsee them

Found these long-lost babies in the bottom of the closet yesterday.

My teenage daughter gave me the side-eye when she saw me sporting them.

Then she asked, “Whyyyyyyyyyyyy”?

I told her comfortable shoes are a must for a man with as busy a nap schedule as mine.


Two things this week – high school graduation and air conditioning

This week started out promising enough.

The cool temperatures and rain on Monday offered perfect weather for a nap. I even had the day off from work, so I should have had more than enough time to slink off for a snooze while no one was looking.

The thing is, though, the opportunity never, ever, presented itself. I was knocked off my busy nap schedule because Monday was one of the most important days of the year at our house.

Our son and more than 250 of his best friends draped themselves in caps and gowns, waited for their names to be called and accepted their high school diplomas. As members of the Class of 2016, they are now part of their school’s history and face the task of figuring out their next moves.

But while they’ve got choices to make, the wet weather Monday evening didn’t give school officials very many options.

Rain has consequences.

In this case, the weather washed away plans for an outdoor commencement. The exercises had to be moved indoors, into the school’s gym. The bleachers were packed to overflowing with parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers and everyone else who wanted to watch those kids begin a new phase in their lives. There was even an indoor overflow area where you could watch the whole thing unfold on a big screen.

Truth be told, I was never going to work in a nap on such a day. Through it all, I was too busy alternating between being proud that our son successfully navigated high school and sentimental about all the milestones that got him to Monday evening.

Our son graduated the same week heat and humidity pushed out the rain and pleasantly cool temperatures that made napping such a pleasure.

Not only did the weather over the past couple of months provide the perfect conditions to catch up on sleep, but it also gave our rickety old heat pump a break. In fact, when I went to get my hair cut this week, my barber was marveling at how long he’d gone without turning on the AC in his shop.

He has now.

And when I finally flipped the switch on our ancient heat pump this week, it seemed pleased to have had a vacation. Instead of collapsing in on itself like a jalopy in an old movie, it’s running much more smoothly than usual.

Some things in life are inevitable. Spring turns to summer-like weather and the AC comes on. Kids grow up and they graduate high school.

I wasn’t necessarily prepared for either this week, but it was time for both.