sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

September 1, 2014

september goals
posted by soe 11:11 pm

Oh, August… I had such grand plans for you, but the results were underwhelming:

  • We did see a show. Two, in fact, while we were on our fantastic New York trip. Bullets over Broadway was well paced and tightly acted, while Rock of Ages was charming, if sexist. We agreed that we missed doing this, so will make an effort to see more traveling shows in D.C. and to regularly catch the bus north to see more things in their original runs on Broadway.
  • I barely eked out a single pair of socks, although I did touch two others. On one, I started the second sock before remembering that the yarn had been a poor choice for the design and rapid progress was hindered by that and my inability to actually read a pattern. On the other, I’ve found contrasting yarn for the toe and am ready to bind off the first sock. (This would be more impressive if I hadn’t picked it up with only the toe left to knit.)
  • I left my bike ride too late in the month, although in part that was due to being out of town most weekends. So when the final day of August was hot and hazy and humid with thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon, I’d run out of deferment time. I did go out. I should have eaten better beforehand. And I should have left earlier in the day. I made it to Old Town, but it took me nearly two hours to complete the 10 miles. I was so slow, molasses sped past me. There was a headwind, but that can’t have been all of it. I was just sluggish. And then because getting out there had been such an ordeal (and because I wasn’t looking in the right direction), I spent more time there than I should have and only made it a quarter of the way back before detecting lightning in front of me. (I am stupid about many things, but riding a metal vehicle through trees and along and over water during an electrical storm is not my brand of it.) Ultimately, I turned back to Braddock Road metro and took the train back to D.C., ending the day sopping wet and still about 3.5 miles short of my goal.

But the point of this goal-setting exercise is to not be bogged down by failure and ineptitude and weather and slow fingers, but instead to come up with new things each month to attempt. Here are my three goals for September:

  1. Exercise twice a week. Last year at this time I was doing something active four times a week (admittedly as the final step in a three-month challenge, but still…); now I just feel sluggish and slow. I’d thought the pool being open during the summer would help, but I just didn’t make it over there during the week, although I was there nearly every weekend of the season. Volleyball starts back up again soon, so that’s once a week. Now I just need something else: at least 30 consecutive minutes of something else.
  2. Update my resume. The grant that funds my job is coming to an end, and, while my boss continues to attempt to secure funding to keep us all employed, there are no promises past the end of the year. To keep as many options open as possible, it’s time to start looking at what else is out there.
  3. Talk to a far-off friend once a week. It’s been ages since I’ve spoken with a couple of my friends and it’s time to get back in touch. Even if the conversations are short, at least the connections will be re-established.

What are you hoping to do this month?

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August 29, 2014

neighborly, office flowers, and bright
posted by soe 2:10 am

Three beautiful things from the past week:

1. In the 10 days I’ve been away, sunset has slipped to before 8 p.m. without my realizing it, which means I arrive at the garden later than I should have. Our plot neighbors are out in the field, playing with their toddler and dog, and it’s clear to me as I quickly fling water on plants, that they are lingering so I’m not out there alone. I’m grateful.

2. There is no corn at the Tuesday lunchtime market, but one farmer does have bouquets of flowers. I buy a bunch to cheer up my desk:


3. The nail salon in the center of my parents’ town gives me what may have been my most relaxing pedicure ever. He has his doubts about the color I’ve chosen, but I assure him that as long as it’s bright, it’ll make me happy. It is exactly the color I’m hoping for, and later in the week, I paint my nails equally loud hues:

Bright Nails

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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August 21, 2014

hummingbirds, misidentified, and repeat season
posted by soe 5:14 pm

I’m writing from Connecticut, where I’m spending a busy week at my parents’ house, working remotely and hanging out with my grandmother and the family pets while my folks are visiting my brother on the other side of the country.

Here are three beautiful things from my time here this week:

1. My folks have a hummingbird feeder and at least two species (one green and one black) who zoom around the house on a daily basis, drinking deeply from my mother’s flowers. It’s impressive how chatty they are and how curious.

2. What I thought were several ticks on the dog’s leg turn out to be small, round burrs. I’ve never been so glad to be wrong.

3. Coming north means that blueberries are still in season here. Gramma and I have been enjoying them as a daily afternoon snack.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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August 15, 2014

gift-giving, get-away, and giclée print (& greeters)
posted by soe 1:50 am

Three beautiful things from the past week:

1. Delivering a present I hoped would be loved and having it be oohed and aahed over by the assembled company.

2. A long weekend out of town with Rudi where everything from the (unbooked) bus to the hotel to the weather to the planned and unplanned activities works out well.

3. Tucked amidst the popsicle sellers and beer vendors on the High Line was a Russian-born artist selling vibrant giclée prints of architectural and nature scenes. We come home with a large print in vivid oranges, blues, and purples of a 7th Ave. building during a nighttime snowstorm.

Bonus: After three days away, being met at the door by three cats who are over the moon to have us home.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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August 14, 2014

top ten authors in my collection
posted by soe 3:42 am

I’m tired and out of inspiration at the moment, so I’m stealing a Broke and Bookish Tuesday topic from a couple weeks back:

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

  1. Carolyn Keene: Although they are all in my parents’ attic, the plurality award goes to my Nancy Drew collection, which was started by a gift from my mother when I was in 3rd grade. There are probably close to 20 books there (although I loaned one out once to a friend of a friend who lives on the West Coast and never got it back…)
  2. L.M. Montgomery: I loved the Anne books and the first one was definitely a present. But I can remember using my saved allowance to buy copies of the subsequent books in the series and then the Emily books and either bought or received as gifts several of her other titles. Some of them are up in Connecticut still, so I can’t give you an exact count, but I’d guess somewhere around 14.
  3. Jasper Fforde: I have every book he’s published thus far in the U.S., which according to Wikipedia now numbers at 12. I will continue to buy them, so at some point, he’ll overtake the Nancy Drew team.
  4. William Shakespeare: He’s another one I can’t give you an accurate count for, since I buy them used for cheap, but I’m probably somewhere around 10 or so…
  5. J.K. Rowling: Seven Harry Potters in English (and possibly one in French), plus the most recent Cormoran Strike novel. If we count household copies, we have duplicates of the last three HP novels and Rudi is in possession of at least three in foreign languages: two in German and one in Welsh.
  6. Barbara Kingsolver: 7 or 8. I can’t quite remember how many short story/essay collections I have. One of my favorite authors.
  7. Louisa May Alcott: My grandparents gave me a set of six of her books when I was a kid and I received a second copy of Eight Cousins as a prize in third grade. With Harry Potter and the Anne books, Little Women is the book I’ve re-read most during my life.
  8. Laura Ingalls Wilder: I know I don’t have the full collection, since I’ve been picking them up over the years as I find them (having read the library’s copies as a kid), but I’d guess I’ve got six of the ten Little House books and then a collection of her newspaper columns.
  9. C.S. Lewis: 6, although I’ve never read the final book in the Narnia series, since a friend told me doing so runs the risk of ruining all of them. Since she doesn’t mess around about that kind of stuff, and since I thought the quality had tapered off after the first three or so, I’ve taken her advice thus far.
  10. Toni Morrison: 5 or 6. Many of these were read during college, so I don’t quite recall whether or not I’ve read (and thus own) all the titles I think I have.

How about you? Are there specific authors you collect and/or read above all others?

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August 13, 2014

nyc: three days in the city
posted by soe 1:45 am

As I mentioned on Friday night, we headed up to New York City for a mini vacation.

We caught the bus up on Sunday morning and arrived shortly after noon. We wandered around Times Square for a bit, catching part of the Dominican Pride Parade and EcoFest before heading to Broadway for our first show of the day, Bullets over Broadway, starring Zach Braff (from Scrubs and Garden State). Luckily, when I first heard about the show, I hadn’t realized it was a Woody Allen piece, because I wouldn’t have agreed to give him my money if I had. That notwithstanding, I really enjoyed the musical about a writer looking to stage a pure version of his play until he discovers that it’s only going to be produced because a gangster’s girlfriend wants to be a star.

Rock of Ages Stage

Because it was Sunday, most theaters were dark that night, but Rudi discovered Rock of Ages, about the Sunset Strip in the mid-’80s, was playing and procured us tickets. I enjoyed singing along with all the heavy metal tunes/power ballads of our youth and found the characters likeable, but was not enamored of the rather misogynistic storyline.

We stayed on the Upper West Side at the Hotel Belleclaire, which I highly recommend. The room was large and comfortable, and the neighborhood is quiet, located a short walk from Central Park and several museums, and located doors away from an all-night bakery/deli that sold decent tea and a French bakery that offered a raspberry almond croissant that was to die for.

Hotel Belleclaire

Hotel Room in Manhattan: Bigger than My D.C. Bedroom

We headed to Central Park first thing for a late breakfast picnic and stroll, which ended with a surprise meeting with my cousin, who was joining classmates for a pre-finals picnic.

Raspberry Almond Croissant in Central Park


Rudi in Central Park

We partook ourselves of CitiBike and biked down to the High Line, the elevated-freight-rail-line-turned-park. We walked south along the park, stopping along the way for slices and local soda, caffeinated beverages, beer, and popsicles, as well as a quick romp through the water feature and the admiration of art and plants.

The High Line

Mural below the High Line

Tracks and Plants along the High Line

The park runs down to Chelsea, so we walked from there to the Village to buy coffee beans and tea leaves from some of our favorite purveyors and to shop at some of the record and cd stores that still exist there, before hopping back on bikes to head down to The Battery (at the tip of Manhattan) to meet Eri and Eric for a delicious dinner with a view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We biked past the new skyscraper at the World Trade Center site. (It is MASSIVE; you can’t actually see the top of it when you’re standing at street level next to it.) After dinner, the four of us walked back to Midtown along the river, chatting and catching up. It was a really good day, full of food, parks, and friends — and by the time we reached the hotel in the wee smalls, we were exhausted.

Today, I, at least, was lagging a bit. We slept in, which meant we didn’t get back to Central Park, the way I’d idealistically hoped to, checked out of the hotel, and lugged our bags down to Herald Square to meet Eric, who suggested we park our bags with his concierge. Less encumbered, we biked down to Chinatown, where he introduced us to an Australian café he’d discovered.

Madison Square Park Art Installation

While we mulled over how to pass our final few hours in the city, it started to rain a bit, and, not wanting to be forced to sit in sopping wet clothes (I hadn’t brought a second pair of pants/skirt/shorts to change into), we opted not to bike over to Brooklyn to see the new parks they’re building out of defunct piers. Instead, we took a leisurely stroll through SoHo and other neighborhoods on the Lower West Side, chatting our way back to Times Square and our bus. Eri, who’d had a late afternoon work meeting, raced back uptown, arriving just minutes before we boarded to head home and letting us end our vacation with hugs and friendly faces waving us off.

Packing It In

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