sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

June 5, 2019

washington nationals mural
posted by soe 1:23 am

Nationals Mural

The Nationals have a new mural that they were just finishing up when Rudi and I were last at the ballpark. It was designed by Peter Chang and Brandon Hill of D.C.’s No Kings Collective, a creative arts agency that has done some other major murals around town.

The mural feels very local. For instance, the angle of my picture doesn’t do it justice, but the “i” is the Washington Monument. The batter is Ryan Zimmerman, who was the team’s first franchise player after it moved to the District from Montreal, and who is our aging and oft-injured first baseman. “See you later!” is the catch phrase of our tv announcer following all home runs. The image of the Washington Senators is based on a poster from the team’s game versus the Yankees in 1957. Some of the colors harken back to the Homestead Grays, D.C.’s Negro League franchise.

I really like it.

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June 3, 2019

posted by soe 1:22 am

This afternoon got more dramatic as it went along.

It started with a quiet trip to the farmers market, followed by brunch with the cat.

Fava Beans

I went to the garden, where I picked and ate peas and marveled at the fact that my fava beans are legit. I mean, there are only two plants (I swear there used to be three) and there are only two pods on each plant (a bunch of the flowers shriveled up, rather than growing into pods), so it will be a meager, but cherished side dish when Rudi and I pick them next week. Unless the bunny my next-door gardener informs me is living under his squash plants eats them first. Do you think rabbits like fava beans? I mean, my neighbor is growing carrots, which years of watching Loony Toons suggests should be its first choice…


I then headed to the pool, where Rudi joined me after his bike ride. It was cooler and less crowded than yesterday due to today’s overcast skies, cooler temps, and impending storms. But it felt lovely in the water, which was the key thing. Until the thunder kicked in, at which point that felt like the key thing. Understandably and responsibly, the lifeguards kicked us all out.


At which point we started walking home. The rumbling was getting louder, but it wasn’t crashing and there was no visible lightning, so it felt like a medium paced stroll was suited to the occasion. I even paused to take a photo of the mimosa tree outside the local bar.

It was then that giant splotches of rain started dropping. Except that they rapidly (like within 30 seconds) turned into hail. Nickel-sized hail. Here is some of it, since we had to stop for the traffic light on the way home.


It paused briefly, to rain really cold rain on us, then the hail began again in earnest, by which point Rudi and I were pretty much home. Except that a rather impertinent hailstone managed to scoot in the crewneck of my sun shirt and down the front of my bathing suit, where in lodged in the shelf bra. I mean, really!

There were reports of golf ball-sized hail, but we did not have to deal with any of it. (You can see it here. You can also see the rainbows that because we were inside we also missed.) And it should be noted that when the hail began we were only two blocks from home. And if it had been the larger hailstones raining down even with that distance, we definitely would have sought immediate shelter in a doorway or some such, rather than continuing home, because hail can be very serious. Even the smaller ones stung!

After that, the day calmed back down. We had teatime to warm back up, watched some bike racing, read, and concluded our day with French bread pizza and daiquiris. All in all, a nice, quiet end to a dramatic afternoon.

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May 15, 2019

another trio of embassies
posted by soe 1:59 am

Saturday afternoon, Rudi and I headed out to take advantage of the European Union Open House and managed to fit in three embassies:


Maltese Embassy

The Maltese Embassy is nearby and opened its doors to the public. Its emphasis was on the role Malta played in 1945, when they played host to Churchill and Roosevelt as they planned the final stages of World War II, as well as on the rescue of the SS Ohio, a tanker under the British flag carrying oil to Malta for anti-Axis activities.

The Czech Republic

Czech Embassy

Next we headed uptown to the Czech Republic’s embassy, located in rolling forestland along Rock Creek Park. They were celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, which marked the end of Communism in the nation.

We went inside the chancery and got to experience augmented/virtual reality exhibits on the Communist gulags, which was very cool. We picked up some jam from a Czech baker and an English translation of Viktor Dyk’s classic folk adaptation of the story of the Pied Piper, The Ratcatcher, before heading outside so Rudi could enjoy a pilsner. We then headed up the hill to the ambassador’s grand stone residence, nestled amongst the trees.

Czech Ambassador's Residence

Czech Residence

The ambassador was busy chatting with some Czech-Americans, so we didn’t get a chance to say hello, but we did get to peer around the first floor and admire some of the treasures and artwork and old maps. Some of the most beautiful were the Bohemian crystal chandeliers and sconces, each of which was commissioned for the residence.

Czech Crystal


Unfortunately, because we were so enjoying ourselves in the Czech Republic, we did not leave ourselves enough time to get over to the Dutch embassy before the event concluded. We were feeling slightly peckish, though, and I recalled that the Hungarian embassy, which we visited in 2013, had at that time featured snacks. Since it was just across the street, we wandered over and they confirmed their event would continue on an extra half hour. So we walked out back, where they were selling a variety of Hungarian snacks, including kurtosh kalach, a type of cake cooked using a spit.

The dough is rolled thin and then wound around a wooden cylinder attached to a long handle. It’s allowed to rise for a few minutes and then is put into an oven for ten minutes or so. When it comes out, it’s rolled in cinnamon or sugar or walnuts before it’s taken off its spit. It’s then allowed to cool slightly and you can fill it with a spread.

I opted for cinnamon flavored with maple cream spread inside, while Rudi opted for plain filled with imported Nutella. Both were delicious!

Hungarian Bakers

Hungarian Treat

While we were waiting, we got to enjoy watching Hungarian folk musicians and dancers perform. This guy, in particular, was excellent! It was a great way to conclude our 2019 tour of embassies!

Hungarian Folk Dancing

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May 7, 2019

places in d.c. i’d like to visit
posted by soe 1:57 am

I’ve lived in D.C. for 16 years now, and you would think that I’ve been everywhere already, but to my continued surprise, that’s not actually true. Since the weather has become pleasant and since this is a good spot to record things I aspire toward, here are some of those places I’d like to cross off my District Bucket List:

  • The National Arboretum: I should go soon, since they are especially noted for their azaleas, which are currently in bloom.
  • Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens: Technically, I biked through part of this during the fall, but not the actual garden part. I want to see the water lilies and lotus flowers, which typically flower in July.
  • Anacostia Community, Sackler, Freer, and African Art Museums: All run by the Smithsonian, these are the four local museums of the system I have yet to visit. The last three are all on the Mall, and I’d like to cross them off my list on the late-night Solstice event planned for next month. The Anacostia Community Museum is a cultural institution dedicated to the diversity and social dynamics of the local community. I’ve been to the grounds of the museum, but not inside. It’s currently closed until fall, but after the renovations are complete seems like a good time to check it out.
  • Library of Congress’ Reading Room: I’ve seen it from the tour loft, but the advantage of having a (free) reader’s card is that you can totally go and hang out and ask them to bring you materials.
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island: Weirdly, although this small island in the Potomac River is accessible from land only via a footbridge in Arlington, Virginia, it’s technically part of Washington, D.C. You can see it from the Georgetown waterfront, and I’ve been meaning to go over there forever.
  • Bellevue, Parklands-Turner, Deanwood, Francis Gregory, and Capitol View Neighborhood Libraries: These are the last of the 27 branches of the D.C. Public Library I have yet to visit. I’d also like to get back to the Anacostia Neighborhood Library, which has been renovated since I last visited. I had plans to visit them last fall, but then life happened (and that aforementioned trip to Kenilworth that ended up including a major missed turn), and I now get to cross them off in 2019 instead.
  • Lincoln’s Cottage: Did you know that when President Lincoln (and Presidents Buchanan, Hayes, and Arthur, too) wanted to get away from things at the White House during the heat of the summer, he headed toward the northern edges of the city to a cottage on the grounds of the U. S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home. This is where he drafted the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • The National Archives: Probably more important now than ever to refamiliarize myself with the foundational documents of our nation.
  • Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument: The D.C. home of the national women’s equality movement, it includes mementos like Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s desk chair and Susan B. Anthony’s desk.
  • Frederick Douglass National Historic Site: This is where the Abolitionist lived during the final 18 years of his life and is apparently a beautiful hilltop location.

Are there places near where you live that you’ve always meant to visit, but haven’t yet?

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May 5, 2019

a trio of embassies
posted by soe 1:38 am

I caught three of the embassies holding open houses today:


Indian Performers

Mahatma Gandhi

Indian Dancing

2019 marks the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth and the Indian embassy had a nice exhibition focusing on his importance to their nation — and to the world. They also had performers, sari and turban wrapping, henna, and chai.


Kenyan Dancers

Each embassy does things a little differently. While India kept us all doing a tight loop of their first floor space, Kenya decided just to keep us out in the yard. They turned their backyard into a marketplace, had henna in front of the building, and had dancing and food, including mahambri, their delicious version of fried bread, in the courtyard.

and Haiti:

Haitian Backyard

Haitian Artwork

Haiti led us through their gorgeous back courtyard and across two floors of their mansion. They’ve decorated with gorgeously colorful artwork and have profiled the contributions of Haitian Americans throughout the first floor. They also featured djs and performers, wine samples, and native collage artists.b

Embassy weekends are always a lot of fun. EU Nations are open next weekend, and I hope to cross off a few more from my list then.

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May 1, 2019

indie bookstore day haul
posted by soe 1:57 am

Indie Bookstore Day Haul

Saturday was Independent Bookstore Day, the annual biblio-holiday celebrating the small, community-based bookstores around the country. D.C. booksellers put together a crawl that included discounts, and if you visited 10 of them, you’d get a tote bag commemorating the event.

I did not make it to all ten, having not finished my job application early enough to leave me time to accomplish the task before our movie showtime. Getting around town by bikeshare just takes the amount of time it takes — you cannot make bikes magically appear at deserted docks and I am a slow cyclist — and I would have needed another hour to check off the two other neighborhoods I didn’t make it to.

However, I made it to five shops and came home with a modest, budget-friendly haul — three books, a magnet, a sticker, and some birthday cards (not shown).

First the books:

  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a special signed copy available for Independent Bookstore Day. I read it a couple years ago and loved it, and owning a copy seemed like a nice idea so that I could reread it periodically at my pleasure.
  • archy and mehitabel is a 1927 collection of poems from a column at The Evening Sun purportedly written by a cockroach (archy) about his early 20th-century adventures with a his alley-cat pal, mehitabel. I mean, of course that had to come home with me!
  • And, finally, Paroles is a collection of poems that came out just after the end of World War II about the French youth experience of growing up under German occupation. Because I’ve been working on my French comprehension, it seemed like a good fit for me. It was translated by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and the French and English poems sit opposite each other on the page, so I can make sure my understanding is accurate.

And, finally, the ephemera. The magnet reads, “Tea fixes everything,” which if not true, is at least the closest to true as one can get around here. And the sticker is a Langston Hughes quote: “Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink and be in love. I like to work, read, learn and understand life.” Seems about right.

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