sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

August 13, 2018

posted by soe 1:55 am


D.C. has been a stressful place to live for the past couple weeks. As the calendar flipped over from July to August, locals suddenly realized that today’s date was awfully close. We’d all known for a couple months that the bigots and bullies who’d protested in Charlottesville last year and who killed a young woman there in an act of terrorism had requested and been granted a permit to protest here. We knew there were counter protests planned. But somehow as August arrived, the stress of that knowledge ratcheted up a hundredfold.

Last weekend, I mulled what my own plans were. D.C. has a very large Black population, among others, and I worried that Nazis would target them in some way. I couldn’t stop the Nazis from coming, I figured; that was their protected First Amendment right. But I figured I could be there to make sure they understood they were unwelcome and to make my neighbors know that their human rights were not superseded by what’s written in our Constitution.

I’m not going to lie. I was nervous. Everyone was nervous. Last weekend’s rallies in Portland did little to allay our fears. It didn’t sound like it had been handled particularly well.

Many locals fled the city, like they would on a long weekend when tourists are likely to annoy. Others declared they weren’t going to go anywhere near downtown in an effort to stay clear of both the protestors and the counter-protestors. There were protests on the Mall and adjacent to the White House, which is where the white supremacists would be in.

Rudi and I opted to join the group who would be by the White House, wanting to make it clear to the Nazis that they were not welcome in our city. And apparently the Nazis got the memo, because only two dozen of them ended up showing up, while thousands of us came out to meet them, to say that their hate would be given no quarter in our city.

I did not have to find out today if I would be brave enough to step between a Nazi and another person, and I am glad. But I showed up believing that might be expected of me, and that was enough this time.

I will sleep well tonight.

Category: dc life,politics. There is/are 2 Comments.

July 16, 2018

national ice cream weekend and the beach
posted by soe 1:42 am

Today was National Ice Cream Day, but July is National Ice Cream Month, which means that this was National Ice Cream Weekend, even if only so decreed by Rudi and me.

D.C. Scoop

Friday evening we started out with the D.C. Scoop festival at Union Market, where local ice cream shops sent representatives with free samples for folks to try.

We downed the Trickling Spring (a local dairy) samples too quickly to get photos, but their flavors were a very mild chocolate and a chocolate covered strawberry. Dolcezza, a gelateria around the corner from my apartment, offered peach gelato and lemon opal basil sorbet:


Love ‘n’ Faith Cafe was making liquid nitrogen ice cream on the spot:

Making Ice Cream

They ran out of their free samples, but were selling cups for a reasonable price. Rudi really liked their salted caramel and I was highly impressed by their cookies and cream. (D.C. folks: Their ice cream was delicious, but apparently they are inches away from having to close their cafe, which is located between U Street and Columbia Heights on 14th St. If you’re hankering for coffee or ice cream and are in the vicinity, it’s worth stopping in.)

Ice Cream

Saturday was Bastille Day, so after spending the morning working, I stopped by a French restaurant that was celebrating the holiday for some glace. That’s a scoop of mamey sapote, a tropical African tree fruit, that has a distinctive flavor, and one of pineapple sorbet. I walked my bike until I ate the ice cream down to the cone and then biked (in the bike lane) while eating the rest. I’m pretty sure that negates any caloric intake, don’t you think?

Today, we headed out to the Delaware shore for a beach day.

Beach Day

Toes in Sand

We finished our time at the shore with scoops from one of the local ice cream shops. Mine is raspberry truffle and Rudi opted for mocha chip:

National Ice Cream Day

It was quite a good weekend!

Category: dc life,travel. There is/are 1 Comment.

July 2, 2018

heatwave weekending
posted by soe 1:40 am

We Really Do Care

I know it’s summer, I know that means heat, I know no one wants to hear me complain. I will instead say that I am grateful for the ability to wear very little clothing, for air conditioning, and for the pool.

The weekend started out with a performances of Hamilton at the Kennedy Center. I enjoyed it quite a bit and thought the actors and dancers were excellent. The actor portraying the titular character is a better singer than Lin, so songs like “My Son,” were even better than the cast recording, and sad second-act events, while known to 80% of the audience, were portrayed so movingly, the cast had us all snuffling in our seats. We were fortunate to catch the tail end of the free Millennium Stage act before our show and emerged afterwards to a live karaoke battle.

Families Belong Together March

Yesterday, I headed to the Families Belong Together rally and march, where 30,000 or so people braved the unrelenting heat to express our outrage about recent inhumane treatment of immigrant and refugee families. The organizers did a great job of having large portable toilets that would work for families and disabled protesters, lots of screens and speakers, and several banks of gigantic water dispensers. I also saw the one of the local fire trucks was using its hose to provide a misting area. (I admit at first I worried they were using it as a water cannon, but then I saw kids running toward it and decided that it was a friendly move.)

Catalonian Dancing

Afterwards, since I had not managed to meet up with my friends and since I was already on the Mall and gross, I decided to check out the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, an annual festival where they highlight the cultures of various places around the world. This year, the regions were the Catalonia region of Spain and Armenia. I ate a Catalonian lunch of fava bean salad and Crema Catalana, the Spanish answer to creme brulée, before heading off to see the crafts, speakers, and demonstrations. Because the heat had kept so many people at home, you were able to get up close to every booth and practically every kid I saw was getting a hands-on lesson from artisans ranging from glasswork to pottery. Usually the festival is ridiculously crowded, even in the heat, so that was a real treat.

Lavash Baking

By five, though, it was all I could do to drag myself to the bus stop and sit there eagerly awaiting the nap and shower I thought I was heading home to. And then I remembered the garden. And how it hadn’t been watered. And how no rain was expected. And how I’d want a drink if I were growing there. So I dragged myself down there (and then on to the grocery store, since it was only another two blocks) and it was good I went because things were definitely starting to look parched.

Summer Solstice Torches

These are Catalonian torches used at the Summer Solstice to light bonfires. Every village has a unique design. The big ones are for adults and the small ones are for little kids. The dangling ones are meant to be swung in giant circles, kind of like when you swing a pail of water around.

Today, it was the farmers market and chores around the house and, later, an hour at the pool and then an hour at the park.

July 1 Garden

How was your weekend?

Category: arts,dc life,garden,politics. There is/are 1 Comment.

June 30, 2018

families belong together
posted by soe 3:32 am

In the morning, I’ll be heading over to Lafayette Square, the park adjacent to the White House to take part in the Families Belong Together Rally.

I am the great-granddaughter of an illegal immigrant and the daughter-in-law of a refugee who came to this country as a girl. I know the great lengths people will go to in order to reach the United States. And I also know some of the things they’re escaping from.

Jenny’s story is not mine to share, but I will say that she arrived here as a 13-year-old girl who could speak three languages, including English. I cannot begin to imagine how great her trauma would have been if she’d been ripped from her mother’s arms after landing on our shore, separated from her family indefinitely, or held in a cage.

Tomorrow, I rally on her behalf and on behalf of every other family who comes to this country seeking a better life. Refugees do not come here for a vacation. Parents do not drag their children across hundreds of miles of deserts just on a whim. They come because they face unendurable, dangerous situations in their homeland and because once we claimed to be a country that didn’t believe in letting children suffer.

Please join me tomorrow in D.C. or at a rally near you to send a message to this administration that refugees and immigrants deserve to be treated humanely and that we as a nation believe that families belong together. I’m not positive what extraordinary steps will be necessary to reunite families ripped asunder at this point, particularly of very young children, but I believe we should do everything possible to make it happen. The soul of our nation depends on it.

Category: dc life,politics. There is/are 2 Comments.

June 26, 2018

midsummer weekending
posted by soe 1:22 am

It felt like this weekend moved so fast, in part because of a packed Saturday. I stopped by the library to pick up books and summer reading prizes and the Baltic Midsummer Festival in the Circle, where the embassies of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, were celebrating the arrival of summer.

Latvian Folk Singers

Baltic Midsummer Festival Wreathmaking

There were oak-leaf and flower wreaths (which were being made as fast as the young women could wind the florist wire) to try on, pamphlets to pick up, dancing and singing to enjoy, and cheese to sample.

I headed out to the country to pick blueberries and stopped by the grocery store and the hardware store on the way home.

Rudi and I were going to head over to the production of Twelfth Night, but the skies opened up and we decided not to crowd into the church along with everyone else who was already down there for the performance. Instead we decided to check out a relatively new Mexican place not too far away (it was a perfectly fine little spot and we’ll likely stop in again in the future, although probably on a Tuesday when tacos are only $2).

We then headed down to the Mall where we discovered I had misunderstood the Solstice Saturday event and instead of only three of the museums staying open until midnight, they all were.

We started at American History, where we walked through the Star-Spangled Banner exhibition [N.B. to Karen: Your family’s story is plastered all over it. I think it might have been under construction/restoration the last time you were down.]. We checked out some of the new additions to the collection before heading downstairs to find the tv show displays and an exhibition on food.

Star-Spangled Banner

Quilt Made by Japanese-Americans Interred during WWII

Grover and Prairie Dawn and Captain Kangaroo's Bunny Rabbit

Finally, 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign. I knew it was a thing; I just never realized how huge it was or how long it lasted. The second shot shows a model of Resurrection City, where thousands of people camped for six weeks on the Mall. (For locals, the Lincoln Memorial is at the left; the Reflecting Pool is at the top; the Washington Monument is at the right; and Independence Avenue is at the bottom. The round building in the middle is the District of Columbia War Memorial.) Think Occupy D.C. at McPherson Square, but on massive steroids. Eventually weeks of rain, muddy conditions, and health concerns were used as an excuse for officials to forcibly evict everyone and dismantle the village.

Poor People's Campaign

Resurrection City

MLK Quote: The Ultimate Tragedy

We headed across the Mall to the Arts & Industries Building, where some of the By the People Festival art installations could be seen. There were fabric hangings and cubes you stuck your head into that reminded me of the parachutes we played with in elementary school gym class, and a memorial to a picnic (the “clouds” are actually masses of recycled takeaway containers):

Memorial to a Picnic

Cube Things


By the People Festival Exhibition

It was after 11 when we left there, and we decided that since we’d never been to Natural History, except to see films at their IMAXX theater, we’d head back to the north side of the Mall.

The butterfly pavilion was closed (the butterflies were sleeping everywhere inside), so we peeked in on the animal exhibitions from the second floor balconies and the perused the gem collection (the Hope Diamond is really quite disappointing).

A Night at the Museum


By comparison, Sunday was quiet. I went to the farmers market, the garden (where we planted more than a dozen tomato seedlings I had growing on my office windowsill), the pool, and the park.

But now I need another weekend to recover from my weekend!

Category: dc life. There is/are 2 Comments.

June 10, 2018

d.c. pride
posted by soe 2:14 am

I spent several hours outside this evening watching the D.C.’s Pride Parade. Let me share some of it with you:

Let’s have a parade!

D.C. Pride Parade 2018

The military being allowed to march the parade still makes me so happy:

D.C. Pride Parade 2018

There were young participants (this is the larger DCPS group; there were also individual elementary schools, as well as school bands, dance groups, and clubs):

D.C. Pride Parade 2018

And there were old participants (these are all retirees on this bus):

D.C. Pride Parade 2018

There were even canine participants:

D.C. Pride Parade 2018

There were great signs (I missed snapping the one that read, “I’m the trans teacher I never had,” and didn’t get a great shot of the one that said, “Jesus had two dads and he turned out fine!”):

D.C. Pride Parade 2018

D.C. Pride Parade 2018

There were tutus and tiaras, leather and lace, and feathers and flowers (I did not snap photos of bare skin, but there was a certain amount of that, too):

D.C. Pride Parade 2018

D.C. Pride Parade 2018

The great thing about our parade is how many people want to be in it. I watched for more than two hours and there was probably still an hour’s worth of floats and marchers lined up waiting for their cue to begin when I had to head home. In addition to groups that you might expect to see — support groups, clubs, and nonprofits specifically aimed at the target crowd — you also get local and national businesses, embassies, politicians (both elected officials and those seeking votes), churches, and community groups.

It’s a very welcoming event. And this year, maybe a touch defiant, too.

There were rainbows as far as the eye could see.

D.C. Pride Parade 2018

And candy, beads, and confetti:

D.C. Pride Parade 2018

(In case you were wondering, the street sweepers are the final participants in the parade.)

Category: dc life,gay rights. There is/are 0 Comments.