Operation Foamhenge: Mission Accomplished

by Anonymous

ABS_1669We watch the Smithsonian Channel on our Roku. What does this say about us? Well, this means we don’t have cable TV, we are nerds, and we will watch nearly anything. Recently, we came across a show called Aerial America in which various structures and geographic features are photographed from above. Nearly napping, we were jolted awake by the image of Foamhenge, a life-sized replica of Stonehenge located in Natural Bridge, Virginia. As connoisseurs of American roadside attractions, we were both shocked and excited to learn that this gem not only existed but was located less than two hours from our home. We knew instantly that we must go there. In fact, we looked forward to it perhaps more than we might an actual visit to the real Stonehenge in England.

ABS_1676Foamhenge is the brainchild of creative genius Mark Cline. He designed and built the foam facsimile in 2004 and debuted it on April Fool’s Day. It is located atop a scenic hill surrounded by beautiful Blue Ridge views, just minutes up the road from Natural Bridge.

Natural Bridge is a famous and real rock formation located on land that was actually purchased by Thomas Jefferson from King George III. It is a National Historic Landmark and its beautiful image appears in much of Virginia’s state tourism advertising. However, it is not located in either a state or national park and, if you want to actually see it and you don’t have a spare $18 per person, your best bet is to look at pictures on the Internet. This past year the ownership of the property changed, but no word yet on plans for making the site more accessible to the public.

ABS_1660That is all beside the point because we did not have $52 for the Caverns and Bridge Combo Ticket—what we did have was the burning desire to see a giant foam facsimile of a 5000-year-old wonder of human construction. Our dedication to journalism was challenged, however, when we ran into a fence and a padlocked gate rather than the entrance to Foamhenge. What to do? What to do? After an excruciating half hour of debating the various entry methods and the consequences of each, we rose to the demands of the occasion. Yes, we put on our big-boy pants, parked our car discretely, and sneaked over hill and dale, through tick-covered briars and through poison ivy patches to witness the grandeur of this closed roadside attraction. (Important Legal Notice: Anything written herein shall not be misconstrued as an admission to any state, federal, or local offense.) Really, we got ticks, four of them. And it was quite a hike, but once we got there, it was magnificent—a true monument to human achievement in artificial materials.


We really admire the kind of a man who dreams up something like this. The original prehistoric men who built Stonehenge likely did so as a burial ground, something powerful, spiritual, and culturally significant. A thousand years later, it was a handy calendar. But Foamhenge is something better. A roadside attraction is about joy and wonder, and the builder is to be admired for his contribution to human happiness. It is unfortunate that an achievement like this is being kept from the public’s enjoyment.

photoA representative of Naturalbridgeva.com reported to us that they “do not own or operate the Foamhenge display.” Further, they occasionally open the gates to allow landscapers to maintain the property. So…if you want to see it, bring your riding mower and bolt cutters. That’s our plan for our next visit.



Congratulations, Graduates: Now Get Out

by Bryan Ward and Catherine Breese

ABS_1605Living in a small town with a medium-sized university has some advantages. At this moment, however, we cannot think of any (unless you consider the wide availability of ping-pong balls to be a big advantage). All I can think today is, “Yay! They’re leaving!” These fine young graduates have taken their exams, sold their textbooks back under the tented street corner, drunk their last cheap beer or flavored vodka drink from a red solo cup, and snap-chatted their final “whoooooo!” pic with all their friends.

ABS_1621Hung over, they have helped their fathers load their unbroken furniture onto a truck while their mothers scoured the counter tops and cleaned out the microwave oven. They have hugged their friends and waved good-bye. Awwwww. So congratulations, Class of 2014. Now, good-bye and get out.

Here are few highlights from the year in review:

Catherine at the garbage dumpster: “You know, kids, the goal is to get the garbage inside the dumpster, not just nearby!”

Bryan driving through town: “Look out for that oblivious idiot walking into the street!” Catherine: “Which one?”

Bryan in the backyard: “Hey, maybe you boys down there could take your mouths off the bong long enough to come down here and pick up your dog shit.”

Catherine driving through town: “Please ladies, get your tanning-bed orange faces out of your iPhone long enough to see the giant rolling automobile already in the crosswalk!”

ABS_1608Bryan driving through town mid-winter: “I am certain that these kids’ parents sent them to college with a freaking coat. It’s 12 degrees out here. Wtf.”

Catherine in grocery store on first warmish day of spring: “Oh, I didn’t know Food Lion was clothing optional.”

Farewell, students. Bon Voyage. And thanks for vacating all those parking spots. Yes, we know a new crop will be back in August, but until then, adieu, adieu, adieu.

Love ≠ Bucket of Chicken

Mother - drama 2By Catherine Breese

“I long ago quit praying and took to swearing. If I pray I will have to wait until I am dead to get anything; but when I swear I get things here.” Mother Jones

The original title for this article was, “Why I Hate Mothers Day and International Women’s Day,” so any adept reader can deduce that I have a bad attitude. In fact, I can get downright livid when I hear the annual platitudes thrown around about how wonderful women are. Seriously, if we’re so damn great then why do we need a day to remind people? Here’s another question. Why did the very creator of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, dislike Mother’s Day as much as I do?

My anger on this topic was aroused of late when I learned that Mother’s Day is the top selling day of the entire calendar year at…Kentucky Fried Chicken. Seriously. Is that the best we can do for the person who brought us into the world?

Let me pause here to list the many advantages of being a woman: 1. longer lifespan 2. lower car insurance rates 3. significantly larger selection of shoes and accessories at department stores 4. wear hats indoors without offense 5. free drinks on ladies night 6. can have babies. So, there you have it. Certainly, it is not terrible to be an American woman in 2014. But I’d say there’s a wee bit of room for improvement in the equality department.

Don’t worry, Gentlemen. I am not going to lash out at you. It’s not your fault you have almost all of the power and most of the money. You can’t help it if you are the heirs to a deeply rooted tradition of inequality. And, I like you. I really do. And why not? I grew up in the same patriarchy that you did. Men are the best.

But let me also point out some facts. First, women comprise somewhere between 50% and 51% of the world’s population.

Second, women earn a lot less money than men do. Disagreement exists about how much less, but nobody suggests that women do not earn less money than men do. According to some figures from the United States Census Bureau, women make about 77% of the income that men do. In Virginia where I live, a woman employed full time makes a little over $41,000 a year; a man employed full time makes $52,125.[i]

A majority of this country’s poor children live in households headed by single-mothers, again, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Another interesting recent study compared the United State against other wealthy countries in the world. This study “shows that single mothers in the United States—most of whom are either separated or were previously married—are employed more hours and yet have much higher poverty rates than their peers in other high-income countries.”[ii]

A couple weeks back, 44 United States Senators voted against a law strengthening a woman’s right to equal pay. Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that these fellas aren’t outright sexists and perhaps thought that there already were enough laws protecting women…then why not make yourself look good on paper and vote for another one that will do little or nothing to actually rectify the situation? (Women do have the vote, now, you know?)

In terms of power and authority, women are still on the porch. Of the 435 member of the US House of Representatives, there are 79 women, about 18%. The 113th US Senate has the most women in history: 20, or about 20% according to some pretty straight-forward math. Of the Fortune 500 Corporations in 2013 that are headed by women, there were 22. Another 21 female CEOs held their ground in the 500-1000 category. That’s less than 5%, if you’re interested.

I could go on. But, I have to save something for next year’s manifesto.

Listen, I’m not asking for anything we haven’t earned here, but I think a bucket of chicken is just a little light in the reparation department.

The founding woman behind Mother’s Day was West Virginian, Anna Jarvis. Thanks to her tireless efforts, the second Sunday in May was made a national holiday by Woodrow Wilson back in 1914. But quickly thereafter she realized something horrible about her creation—it was a shallow, commercialized piece of crap. In a complete reversal of sentiment, she spent the rest of her life and her family inheritance campaigning against it. She organized boycotts and was even arrested protesting a Mother’s Day carnation sale. As hard as this is to believe, the inventor of Mothers Day hated it. Here is just one of the things she said about it, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”

Now, I, like the vast majority of my fellow XX Chromosome Club members, have learned being the subjugated sex is rarely worth complaining about. It gets you little other than a reputation as a feminist, a very derogatory term in many (most?) circles. But, I, for one, would appreciate a little less patronizing. So, you can keep your damn flowers. They aren’t enough.

I want to live in a world where women don’t have to try harder to get to the same place in life as men, one where they don’t have to be everything to everyone, one where the decision to have children doesn’t cost anyone in the family his/her career and livelihood. I want to live in a world free of rape and abuse. I want a world where half of the people running the show are women and mothers. Men have had their chance. Women could hardly do worse.

However…my common sense tells me that my dream world is deferred, likely beyond my lifetime. Ok. At the least, then, let’s stop saying things one day a year, be it International Women’s Day or Mother’s Day, that we don’t fulfill the other 364.

Like most of the women I know, I believe that working hard and loving others are what we’re here for, and I like doing both those things. I just have to cuss a little bit along the way. It gets the bad mojo out and makes me feel better.

[i]U.S. Census Bureau. (2013). Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.

[ii] Timothy Casey and Laurie Moldanado. “Worst Off: Single Parent Families in the United States.” Legal Momentum: Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund. https://www.legalmomentum.org/sites/default/files/reports/worst-off-single-parent.pdf