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broodings from the burrow

November 20, 2016

getting toward the end
posted by soe 4:02 am

Just after I headed out on my bike ride this afternoon, storm clouds moved in and the wind picked up. Rudi mentioned that as he was returning from his bike ride that he was being pelted by falling gingko fruit. So, I’m thinking we must be getting close to the end of D.C.’s foliage season. But in the meantime, here’s a shot of our local color, this time from Virginia:

Across the River

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

November 15, 2016

coffeeneuring #6, 7, and 8
posted by soe 1:37 am

Coffeeneuring #6: Grace Street Coffee and Dog Tag Bakery (3210 and 3206 Grace St., N.W., Georgetown)

Sunday, Nov. 6; 6 miles
Masala chai and roasted pear and ginger tart (split with Rudi)

Rudi under Taft Bridge

Rudi’s and my plan was to ride up to Beach Drive, enjoy the fall colors of Rock Creek Park, and then find someplace for a drink. It started out fine, but at the Taft Bridge, cyclists were coming up the hill to say that the gate was locked at the zoo, making that route impassable. I didn’t fancy going up and around, just to get back down again, so I decided we’d seen enough foliage and, after fooling around on the exercise equipment and snapping a few photos, that we should just skip to the hot drinks.

Mugging for the Camera

Rudi said a friend had recommended Grace Street Coffee, a new coffeehouse in Georgetown, so we decided to check them out. Located down the street from Dog Tag Bakery and Chaia Tacos, Grace Street shares its modern space with a juice bar and a gourmet sandwich shop. They also have a back garden with seating, which probably gets some nice sun in the early part of the day.

Grace Street Coffee

Grace Street Coffee

Grace Street Coffee

We took our drinks across the street to the park along the canal, and I ran into Dog Tag to get us a munchie. The ginger-pear tart was delicious and substantial enough I didn’t mind sharing with Rudi. My masala chai was, however, the spiciest drink I have ever had; I’m pretty sure there’s now hair on my chest. (Ew!) While this makes a nice change from the overly bland chais I often encounter in D.C., it would have been inedible without a snack and water to clear the palate.

Coffeeneuring along the Canal

Grace Street has hardly any space for bike parking, which is really its only drawback, and its sidewalks are very narrow. Rudi and I ended up finding an alcove and locking our bikes together. If you end up going, I’d suggest bringing a cable lock, rather than a U lock. (Or, even better, there’s a Bikeshare station at the end of the block…)

Viv and a Leafy Hat

The knitting is a hat I hadn’t picked up since fall, with a complicated pattern, a misplaced stitch marker, and no notes on a pattern stored on my phone. The book is the second part of the Vivian Apple series of apocalyptic, feminist YA fiction. (more…)

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

November 6, 2016

coffeeneuring #5
posted by soe 2:39 am

Coffeeneuring #5: Grassroots Gourmet (104 Rhode Island Ave., N.W., Bloomingdale)

Grassroots Gourmet

Saturday, Nov. 5; 5.2 miles
Hot chocolate and mini bourbon chocolate pecan pie

I eschewed the sunshine of Big Bear’s west-facing patio for the shady sidewalk of Grassroots Gourmet, a new-to-me bakery just up the street.

At this point, I don’t think I’d say Bloomingdale is a transition neighborhood anymore, but it’s definitely more of a economic mix than my corner of the city. And I think Grassroots Gourmet reflects that, selling their baked goods at local market price, but their drinks for significantly less than you’ll get them elsewhere.

To be honest, I wasn’t blown away by either my drink — my cocoa was perfectly adequate, but nothing to write home about — or my mini pie, where the crust seemed to overwhelm the three-bite snack. (I totally recognize that a thinner crust would probably have created a dessert that wasn’t sturdy enough to handle, so this was probably just my being overly picky.) However, both staff members I met were super friendly and clearly went out of their way to know their local neighbors, and that would be enough to bring me back earlier in the day when I could catch some sun from their sidewalk seating and try one of their other baked goods (they also sell cupcakes, muffins, normal-sized cookies, and bars and quick breads, as well as being a retailer for local bread) with a cup of tea. As it was, they let me hang out outside there with my knitting (my Christmas fingerless mitts) and my book (Not Your Sidekick, from my Ninja Swap package) even after they closed up, even specifically telling me that if anyone hassled me about it to let them know.

Coffeeneuring #5: Grassroots Gourmet

There are several bike racks out front that they share with the bar/restaurant next door, that I’d imagine would be very busy during brunch hours.

The ride was fine, except for two things on the way back from the cafe: first, the light at R and Florida did not trigger for my bike, causing me to have to wait an extra cycle until a car triggered it), and second, at one point a flatbed truck moved partially into my bike lane to get around a car, causing me to shift too close to a piece of heavy equipment covered in orange mesh netting in the curb lane. My handlebar snagged in the holes of the mesh and I came up very short, but stayed upright (the light was red and I was going slowly; if it had happened at speed, I would have gone down). I may have gesticulated and yelled vigorously at the truck driver about rights of way before pedaling the adrenaline off the rest of the way home.

Category: dc life,sports. There is/are 3 Comments.

October 27, 2016

coffeeneuring and yarning along
posted by soe 3:07 am

I thought I’d share some recent bike rides, part of the annual Coffeeneuring Challenge, along with the reading and knitting (none of which is complete to date) I was doing for each one as today’s Yarning Along post:

Coffeeneuring #1: Baked and Wired (1052 Thomas Jefferson St., N.W., Georgetown)

Coffeeneuring #1: Baked and Wired

Saturday, Oct. 15; 3 miles
Chaider and ginger pumpkin bread
Baked and Wired used to be a great under-the-radar place, with Georgetown Cupcake scooping up the crowds. Alas, that hasn’t been the case for more than a year, with long lines to be found outside most of the day. However, locals know you can usually sneak inside to the right of the door and order drinks and quick bread at the coffee counter, rather than waiting in line. This visit, though, was slow-moving even in the drinks line. I left my bike locked to a street sign (Georgetown is notoriously bad for bike parking) while inside, and then rode down to the Georgetown Waterfront Park to sit in the waning daylight.

Coffeeneuring #1: Reading and Knitting

That day, I had my Andrea’s Shawl with me. I’d meant to alter the shape of the shawl, but forgot to when I started the stripes. I’ve seen some reports that the weird shape blocks out, so I’m hopeful it’ll still turn out okay. I should really just finish that up this coming weekend. At the time, I was reading Fannie Flagg’s The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion. I enjoyed it, as I do all her books, but found it less uproarious than her novels usually are.

Super Moon

On the ride home, I enjoyed the rising Super Moon in all its massive glory. (It was not actually this dark, but I had to dim the ambient street light to get any contrast on the moon.)

Coffeeneuring #2: Teaism (2009 R St., N.W., Dupont Circle)

Coffeeneuring #2: Teaism

Sunday, Sunday, Oct. 16; 13 miles
Chai and a pecan-chocolate chip salty oat cookie

So, this wasn’t supposed to be where I went. I played volleyball at Malcolm X Park, biked home, then over to Capitol Hill, where I dropped off some cider with Sarah, before heading to the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital. I was there to see a Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy film I’d theretofore never seen, Keeper of the Flame. However, I was supposed to arrive with enough time to pick up a drink and beignets at the adjacent Bayou Bakery. Alas, I arrived a few minutes late, and they close at 4, so I watched the film and then planned to stop someplace on the Hill on my way back. But I was tired (that’s a long ride for me) and I just wanted to get home, so I biked back to Dupont and then stopped at Teaism, which is a block from my house. This is another spot where there’s inadequate bike parking, so I tethered to a sign and then watched as a van nearly backed into the bike (which was wholly, but just, on the sidewalk) while I was sitting outside.

Coffeeneuring #2: The Mall

Coffeeneuring #2

It’s a little dark, but you can see I was just starting the second sock of the vanilla pair currently in my purse. I’m still reading Kathering Zoepf’s Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World, but only have a couple chapters to finish up, which is good, since it’s overdue to the library.

Coffeeneuring #3: The Coffee Bar (1201 S St., N.W., Shaw)

Coffeeneuring #3: The Coffee Bar

Saturday, Oct. 22; 2.6 miles
London Fog and Peach raspberry muffin

I spent the afternoon cleaning and really needed to spend an hour outside, so biked over to The Coffee Bar for their last hour of operation for the day. They have their own bike racks, which had empty sides to them, and empty tables at the patio, which made me happy.

I decided to finally get around to reading Magic in Manhattan, by Sarah Mlynowski, in time for Halloween. That’s the first two books, Bras and Broomsticks and Frogs and French Kisses, of that witchy YA series packaged together. I’m not loving it so far, but I’m hopeful it’ll pick up. I’ve started a pair of stripy pink and purple socks for me & love how the yarn coordinates with the book’s cover.

Coffeeneuring #4: Bourbon Coffee (621 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E., Capitol Hill)

Coffeeneuring #4: Bourbon on the Hill

Sunday, Oct. 23; 12 miles
Maple cocoa and a chocolate chip cookie

Another volleyball practice, followed by a trip to Capitol Hill once more, but this time in pursuit of a book for my Ninja Book Swap. Again, I just missed Bayou Bakery, but I knew I’d find something else in this neck of the woods. I wandered through Eastern Market and visited Labyrinth Games’ expansion and East City Bookshop, before settling down on Bourbon’s back patio.

Malcolm X Park

Constitution Garden

That’s the second of this year’s Sock Madness socks and Meg Cabot’s Size 12 and Ready to Rock, the fourth book in her adult mystery series. (I hadn’t realized it was the fourth book until I finished last night and kept being surprised as I was reading when they referenced previous murders.)

When the coffeehouse was ready to close, I biked back across town, watered the garden, and headed home for the night.

Category: books,dc life,knitting,sports. There is/are 4 Comments.

August 5, 2016

ten on friday: local songs
posted by soe 10:52 am

A couple weeks ago, Carole’s Ten on Tuesday topic asked for 10 Songs about the Place Where I Live. I ran out of time to deal with the subject adequately at the time, but it’s a fun topic, and I thought you might enjoy checking out some of the music local to or focusing on Washington, D.C., the hometown of John Phillips Sousa, Duke Ellington (he and his piano appear on the D.C. quarter), and Marvin Gaye, among others:


“Washington, D.C.” by The Magnetic Fields
This has nothing to do with D.C.


“The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” by The Postal Service
After the Magnetic Fields song, this is one of the D.C. songs locals can probably give you. If you think the vocalists sound familiar, you may know them from Death Cab for Cutie and Rilo Kiley (Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello are the band itself; Jenny Lewis provides backing vocals). Bonus points for it actually being about the District, which is our local municipality, as opposed to the moniker Washington, which we concede to the feds. (It’s really one of those tell-tale signs of poor fact-checking in tv shows, like the mispronunciation of Oregon and the addition of an article before interstate numbers anywhere away from the West Coast.)


“Bustin’ Loose” by Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers
Let me say right at the outset that this song does not have anything to do with D.C., other than that Chuck Brown, known as the Godfather of Go-Go, lived, wrote, and performed here for many years and that go-go as a genre was developed here. I thought about instead including “D.C. Don’t Stand for Dodge City,” by the The Go-Go Posse (of which Brown was a member), but ultimately needed to go with this song, which nearly every resident of the District knows and which could be said to be our unofficial anthem.


“Work” by Wale
Wale, who was nominated for a Grammy for his last album, is D.C.’s hippest rapper right now. While “D.C. or Nothing” would be a more obvious choice, this video, which features colorful language you may not want small children or your coworkers listening to, may not have anything to say about D.C. specifically, but is filmed across the District and features plenty of scenery locals will recognize.


“Welcome to D.C.” by Mambo Sauce
Mambo (or mumbo) sauce is an orange-hued, barbecue-sauce-like topping ubiquitously applied to wings, fries, and Chinese food to the D.C. area (although apparently it originated in Chicago).


“Chocolate City” by Parliament
Chocolate City is one of D.C.’s nicknames.


“Cashout” by Fugazi
The MacKayes are one of D.C.’s modern musical families (Amanda runs the free Fort Reno summer music series), and Ian is the frontman for one of the best-known punk bands of the 1990s.


“The Washington Post March” by John Philip Sousa, as performed by “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band
We all know this one, even if we didn’t know its name or that it was commissioned by the local newspaper for its 1889 essay contest awards ceremony.


“Concerto in E Flat (Dumbarton Oaks 8-v-38)” by Igor Stravinsky, as performed by Orchestra della Radiotelevisione della Svizzera Italiana, Igor Stravinsky, conductor, at Lugano, April 29, 1954
Mildred Barnes Bliss commissioned the famous Russian composer to write a concerto for her 30th anniversary with Roberts Woods Bliss and to subtitle the song after their Washington, D.C., mansion and the date (August 1938). As you might imagine, the song is better known as the Dumbarton Oaks Concerto, and the score to the full piece is in the library of the estate, now a museum (with beautiful grounds and gardens). Stravinsky wrote a version of the concerto for two pianos, and Jerome Robbins choreographed a ballet to it in the 1970s.


“D.C. Cab” by Peabo Bryson
I would be surprised if a whole lot of people know this song, but locals all know the 1983 movie about cabbies working for a taxi company in the District. It stars Mr. T, Adam Baldwin (in one of his earliest roles), Max Gail (Wojciehowicz from Barney Miller), Marsha Warfield (Roz from Night Court, Gary Busey, Paul Rodriguez, Irene Cara, and Bill Maher (did you know he was an actor before he was a commentator?).


I want to acknowledge that my list is male-heavy. Many women artists are associated with D.C. (Sweet Honey in the Rock has called D.C. home since its inception in 1973; Marion Anderson performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when racists at the DAR concert hall canceled her appearance; Roberta Flack and Jessye Norman are both Howard University alumnae, and the was discovered at a club/restaurant on Capitol Hill; Eva Cassidy’s Live at Blues Alley (located in D.C.) album is one of her short career’s seminal works; Meshell Ndegeocello grew up here performing on the go-go circuit.), and I wanted to acknowledge their contributions, even if they didn’t quite fit the assignment as I saw it.

There were a few songs that didn’t fit within the parameters I set that I still thought ought to be included:

The NOT Actually D.C. Award:
“(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville” by REM
: Rockville is a Maryland suburb of D.C. and is a stop along the metro line I live along. It was a plea from Mike Mills to his then girlfriend, who was returning home. Although Michael Stipe recorded the vocals, Mills took over singing the song after a while.


The Washington Awards:
“I’m Just a Bill” by Schoolhouse Rock
: You’d be hard-pressed not to sing part of this song while hanging out near the Capitol.


“The Theme from The West Wing,” composed by W.G. “Snuffy” Walden: I mean, really. (I wanted to include the theme from St. Elmo’s Fire, which is about Georgetown grads and a real-life bar called The Tombs, but the song was actually composed for something else, so I thought it was too much of a stretch, even for me.)


“Christmas Eve in Washington” by Maura Sullivan: Sappy. White-washed. Conservative. Overplayed on local radio stations at the holidays. But still.


Too D.C. Not To Include Award: Trombone Shout Bands: There are a couple groups that perform locally, most of them affiliated in some way with the United House of Prayer, a church noted for the style:

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May 16, 2016

mid-may weekending
posted by soe 11:06 am

This weekend was pleasant, but oh, so short!


On Friday after work, we celebrated the sun by taking our books and beverages up to the park. This park is one of my favorite things about my neighborhood, and I ended up there on Saturday, too, when it was a bit less fair out. But there’s a little caretaker cottage that gets used during the summertime with a generous overhang, so as you can see I didn’t let a little rain stop me.

Saturday Reading in the Park

I’m really pleased with the camera on my new phone and I took a bunch of photos on my walk home”

Buttercup after the Rain

Spider Webs


Saturday also included a visit to a couple embassies for EU Day, when members of the European Union open their D.C. embassies to the public for a few hours. I visited Cypress briefly, where things were winding down, but then moved on to Slovenia, which was far more lively.

Slovenian Musicians at EU Day

In the evening, we had a party for Rudi at our local board game bar. We ate and drank, had cupcakes, and played Trvial Pursuit and Jenga, both of which Rudi won, which seemed only appropriate.

Rudi Plays Jenga

Yesterday, I went to the farmers market and spent three plus hours in the garden. You can see that the violets and the sorrel had been loving the rain:

Spring at the Garden: Before

I yanked violet leaves (although left most of the roots), because they share the plot with my strawberries and had far eclipsed them in height. Now that sun was in the forecast, they needed to be able to start turning red! I also got 20 plants in the ground, most of which were acquired last weekend at Sheep & Wool. It took a while, but I hope this will be my last long day in the garden for a while.

Strawberries in the Garden

Spring at the Garden: After

This morning I was up early to get breakfast for Rudi, since it’s his birthday. After work, we’re going out to dinner at a new-to-us restaurant (a Christmas present from my brother).

How was your weekend?

Weekending along with Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.