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broodings from the burrow

August 8, 2017

a trip to the country
posted by soe 9:33 am

Rudi and I try to make it out to Poolesville, Maryland, at least once mid-summer for a visit to the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management, where they have several fields of sunflowers (as well as fields of other plants). We were late this year, so the first field had mostly grown over, but the third field was still in okay shape. (We skipped the second field, because it requires going through the marsh and I can’t find our bug spray. Given the state of my calves right now, I’m going to say that was an excellent call. So itchy!)

Here are some of the highlights:




Rudi and the Sunflower


Small Sunflowers


We didn’t just see plants. There were lots of insects (in addition to the unseen mosquitoes) and thus a lot of birds. The birds were too quick for me (I’m pretty sure I saw a mountain bluebird, but it could have been an Eastern one, and there were definitely gold and purple finches, as well as their plainer avian relatives), but I caught a few of the bugs:

American Lady Butterfly
An American Lady Butterfly


Dogbane Leaf Beetle
Dogbane Leaf Beetle


Common Green Darner
Common Green Darner

Finally, the advantage of coming out at the end of the season, rather than the beginning, is that you find out that a lot of people have a sense of humor:

Sunflower Faces

Sunflower Graffiti

In case that last shot is hard to see, people have picked out seed coverings to depict crosses, initials, and other designs. Essentially, agricultural graffiti.

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

July 18, 2017

a trip to the african american museum
posted by soe 12:51 am

My weekend began a little early on Friday because Sarah’s sister had extra tickets to the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which remains so popular that you either need to reserve space months ahead or wait in line for a giveaway spot. Being lazy, I’d opted to do neither, figuring that sooner or later all hot spots die down and eventually I’d be able to just stroll in. Or as strolly as one gets in D.C., where walking into practically any venue requires either showing an ID or going through a metal detector or both. (I remain grateful that none of the D.C. libraries requires such ridiculousness.)

Where was I? Right! So we spent the afternoon at the museum, sort of with our friends Michael and Julia and sort of not, since we split up, regrouped, and split up again, which meant Julia was done about 45 minutes before the rest of us, but that’s because Rudi and I stopped and had a late lunch partway through.

Ida B. Wells Quote

Here are just a few of the things we saw during our 4+ hours at the museum: (more…)

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

July 7, 2017

socializing, staycation, and fireworks
posted by soe 3:06 am

A Capitol Fourth

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. This week has held lots of chances for hanging out with friends: Susan & Phillip had us over for a barbecue, Sarah invited me to a ballgame (which ultimately got rained out, but not before we spent two hours in the stadium chatting and eating supper), my coworker & I walked over to the farmers market this afternoon, and tonight our friends invited us to attend a play with them. We also got to spend the evening at the ballpark with a couple of Rudi’s cycling friends, whose company I enjoy.

Nationals Park at Sunset

2. My office decided it was cheaper to give everyone the day off than to expend the energy to open on a Monday just to close the next day. I responded by asking for last Friday off to give myself a relaxing five days out of the office. There were naps, outdoor movies, swims, work in the garden, Tour de France watching, reading, knitting, a trip to the library, and a couple meals out — one at a restaurant that was closing and one that opened earlier this year.

3. Between Monday’s post-game display and Tuesday’s A Capitol Fourth, we got to see lots of gorgeous fireworks:

Neon Display


Fireworks within Fireworks

Sparkly Sky Flowers

Post-Game Fireworks


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

Category: dc life,three beautiful things. There is/are 10 Comments.

June 14, 2017

posted by soe 2:21 am

Yesterday, I had jury duty. It’s fine; it’s my fourth time being called in the 14 years I’ve lived here. D.C. has, in the grand scheme of jury duties, a relatively pain-free system, since although you almost certainly will have to report to the courthouse, unless you’re picked to serve on a trial, you’ll be dismissed to go home. There’s no need for you to remain on stand-by for a month.

My three prior jury duty sessions have ended with one criminal trial (which lasted about a week), one civil trial (which lasted a couple days), and being excused early in the afternoon.

I was in the later pool of jurors, which I appreciated because I am really not a morning person. Almost immediately after the orientation, they called out more than 50 people and took them off to be considered for a jury. Within ten minutes, they were back and took almost all of the rest of us for the voir dire process for a different trial in a courtroom down the hall.

Turns out this was going to be for a murder trial and it was going to last at least two weeks. The prosecution had a long list of witnesses they planned to call. Many of my fellow jurors answered the questions in a way that got them immediately dismissed, but my answers put me through to the end of the process. While I wanted to tell them that I am rather squeamish about graphic depictions of violence, I held my tongue. Should someone ever accuse me of murder, I’d want people to suck it up and listen to my side of things, so the Golden Rule dictates that I do the same.

However, because so many people had opted out, there were no longer enough potential jurors left for them to disqualify any of us themselves. And apparently that’s necessary. So the judge sent us home with the admonishment that we had to return again today, at which point she’d have repeated the process with a second set of jurors.

Instead of going home (or off to sit in the shade and read), I headed back to the office. If I was going to be out of work for two weeks, I decided I should let folks know, set up email and phone greetings, and get a little more work done.

Today I returned to the courthouse, where per her word, the judge had found a couple dozen more potential jurors, from whom she started filling the jury box. At this point the lawyers could start ruling people out, and they did. Of the original 14 people they sat in the jury box, probably only 3 remained by the end. And they’d made a good stab into the group of us returning from yesterday — the final person they picked was the woman sitting next to me.

But in the end, I didn’t find myself on the jury of a murder trial, and I’m really grateful for that.

And now I’m done with jury duty for at least the next two years.

Category: dc life. There is/are 8 Comments.

February 4, 2017

show us what america looks like
posted by soe 3:10 am

This is what America looks like:

No Muslim Ban March

I’d suggest clicking through to see that in a slightly bigger version.

These were all taken at the protest at the White House — which turned into an impromptu march to the Capitol — as a result of the anti-Muslim/anti-Middle East ban enacted last week.

If you are feeling alone in your anger/sadness/grief/rage, know you are not. We are all there with you.

No Muslim Ban March

This protest came together in less than a day. I don’t think anyone, including the organizers, expected this many people to show up. (I do think the surprisingly strong response was due, in part, to liberals in D.C. receiving a week’s worth of emails demanding we call the Congressional representatives that we lack to express opposition to Cabinet nominees and executive orders. We might not have anyone to call (or protect us), but, damn it, we can show up in person…)

No Muslim Ban March

People of all size, shape, age, color, creed, and ethnicity came. A friend brought his children, making it the first protest rally for all of them.

No Muslim Ban March

No Muslim Ban March

The cheer at this point was, “This is only your ninth day. We’re not going to go away.”

No Muslim Ban March

This is the Old Post Office Building, which is now owned by the same family occupying the White House. Locals do not use the new name.

No Muslim Ban March

I wish I could give you a sense of how many people were there. Let’s just say that it’s 16 blocks from the White House to the Capitol. When we reached Pennsylvania Avenue (2 blocks in), we could see crowds seven blocks away, which I guessed at the time were associated with the Chinese New Year Parade. They weren’t. When we reached the Capitol, there were still people streaming all the way back. The best I can offer you is a link to one of the photos of the people taking pictures from the balcony at the Newseum.

No Muslim Ban March

No Muslim Ban March

As my friends and I headed off to find a late lunch, the crowd was chanting, “See you next week!”

(This week, though, instead of hitting up the White House & Capitol Hill, I’ll be taking part in the candlelight vigil tomorrow evening between D.C.’s mosque/Islamic Center and the Vice President’s mansion a few blocks away in my own neck of the woods.)

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

January 25, 2017

women’s march: d.c.
posted by soe 2:13 am

Saturday, I headed down to the Mall to the Women’s March along with 1.3 or so million of my closest allies. I was by myself, so I went a little later and, as such, ended up back in the crowd, far past where the sound system for the rally was capable of projecting. Without being able to hear those in the front, folks in the back got restless and started the march an hour before the program was due to end. According to my coworker, the official march didn’t actually get moving until two hours after it was supposed to, by which point I was already walking. So what you’re seeing in my pictures is part of a march that stretched more than four hours long.

Women's March on D.C. 2017

That first shot in the slideshow is from the teach-in Politics and Prose, one of my local indie bookshops, held the afternoon of the Inauguration. Just after I took this shot, an employee had to come and close the door, since they were packed.

The second shot is of the new addition to the Hinckley Hilton, where President Reagan was shot in 1981, taken the night of Inauguration, as I was walking home from grocery shopping.

The rest are from the march itself. (And, really, the shots are just better bigger, so I’d suggest heading over to Flickr to look at them.

Category: dc life,politics. There is/are 5 Comments.