May 31, 2006
summer has arrived
posted by soe 11:46 pm
I spent a very nice weekend up in Connecticut, arriving home last night with much less fanfare than with which I left D.C. (The trip north Thursday involved one mis-set alarm clock, one turned-off alarm clock, two missed trains, two train tickets, a track power outage up and down the Eastern seaboard, a cab ride, a missed flight, mismatched sandals not discovered until the airport, and a very helpful and sympathetic Southwest Airlines who didn’t charge me extra when they could have easily done so).
As noted in the last post I got to spend some time with old friends, eat Connecticut pizza, and see the family.
I did some knitting and some reading. I watched some videos. I sat in the sun, lazily drinking iced tea. I bought some new clothes. I played Scrabble.
Lest you think me too indolent, I did do a bit of work:
I washed my car.
(Okay, you’re right, that may not actually qualify as work when it’s 95 degrees and you have to turn the hose on…)
But, seriously, I did help the folks work on clearing Gramma’s property of old debris and filling a dumpster of stuff deemed unwantable by anyone. The dumpster was filled, but the yard wasn’t yet empty when I left. Mum and Dad did more work today.
Three members of my family managed puncture wounds over the weekend. (Gramma avoided injury, but I’m still waiting to hear if Josh had some weird sympathy injury out in California.) Interestingly, the two of us whose injuries involved stepping on rusty nails got off scot free. Poor Mum did not, though, as the tree she was helping to cut down apparently took offense and tried to defend itself by attacking her. If you’ve never seen a hawthorn tree’s prickers, they are as long as some needles I’ve had at the doctor’s office. Seriously nasty piece of work. And you thought it hurt when you accidentally pricked yourself with one rose thorn. Try imagining those after an engorgio spell and having a whole limb of them fall on you. Nasty piece of work. Luckily Mum seemed to be sporting only an ugly bruise and welt and was back in the garden by the time I left. She’s a tough cookie.
Today went as well as the first day back after a nice time away could go. No fires to put out. Time to sit and talk at lunch with friends. And also to discuss Wicked with a friend who also just finished reading it. And an ice cream cone tonight to wash down the first day back in the routine.
Vacation is already just a dream of how spring transitioned into summer. Luckily I have about four dozen bug bites to prove that it really did happen. I won’t be able to forget as long as they keep itching. And with Shakespeare in the woods scheduled for this weekend, it seems unlikely I’ll be bite-free for a good while yet.
May 27, 2006
flip flops, vintage radio, and old friends
posted by soe 4:46 pm
I’m in Connecticut, so I thought I’d write a bonus Three Beautiful Things from the first half of my vacation:
1. My feet stopped growing when I was in the fourth grade. And I was never so grateful for that fact as I was when I arrived up in Connecticut after a harrowing morning of traveling on Thursday. I’d overslept and so darted out of the house in about 10 minutes after I woke up. It wasn’t until I reached the airport several hours later and was going through security that I discovered I had slipped on two different sandals — one brown and one red. Luckily, amongst the stuff that lives at my parents is a pair of flip flops from middle school. They are not pretty, but they are wearable.
2. I have spent the last few days doing quite a bit of traveling and my car does not get fantastic reception. Luckily, because of that I am able to listen to my iPod through the stereo and on my early morning drive home from Milford last night I was able to listen to two podcasts of vintage radio shows. The episodes kept me entertained and awake while I drove up 91.
3. I like my friends in D.C., but they know only the D.C. me. Thursday night afforded me the privilege of spending an evening with Di (whose parents kindly fed her dogs so she could stay late) and Shelley (whose husband and kids let Di and me come eat pizza and hang out in her kitchen and backyard). We worked together for a number of years and it’s nice to be able to dish periodically and to catch up on old times, particularly since we missed them at Easter. And yesterday I got to spend the whole day with Karen, just her and me. I like Michael and I assume she likes Rudi, but it’s a different dynamic when the guys are involved. I have known her now for half my lifetime (boy, we’re old, Kare!) and we have a long history. It doesn’t matter that I talked with her on the phone three hours last week and three hours again earlier this week. We still managed to go 12 hours (and probably could have gone another 12 if the need for sleep and a 90-minute drive hadn’t interfered).
May 25, 2006
freezer, substitute eateries, and cat hat
posted by soe 3:50 pm
Three beautiful things from the last week:
1. I picked up rhubarb at the farmers’ market a few weeks ago as well as the farmer’s favorite recipe for rhubarb-ginger sauce. Last night I went to make it and was able to because I’d frozen a hunk of fresh ginger last summer.
2. We’d made plans to meet up with friends for a get-together at a downtown pizza joint, Matchbox, at 5:30 on a Saturday evening. When we arrived, it was already packed and couldn’t accomodate our party of five for 45 minutes. We put our names down on the list but decided to see what else was available. We wandered down H Street into Chinatown and ended up at Tony Chen’s, which is divided into an upscalish Chinese restaurant and a Mongolian barbecue. We opted for the latter and no one seemed to miss the California-style pizza we had originally planned to sup upon.
3. Recently, Jeremiah has returned to one of his periodic sleeping spots — curled up on my pillow. I don’t know what makes him choose that spot — or what makes him vacate it — but it’s very reassuring to awaken to a snuggly kitty by your head.
May 24, 2006
posted by soe 3:40 pm
I’m heading up to Connecticut tomorrow morning for a short break (okay, a longish break of five and a half days). I will post some from my folks’ house, but probably less frequently than usual. Please continue to romp and frolic as if I were here.
May 23, 2006
best of the independents
posted by soe 12:39 pm
I have mentioned before how jealous I am of those living in the U.K. because they have access to The Guardian in its hard copy format. It is possibly the best book paper in the world and easily surpasses anything I’ve seen here in the U.S.
This week they look at what makes a successful independent bookseller: “The Best Sellers”.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of independent bookstores. I will patronize the national chains when I’m looking for something I know the smaller shops in my area won’t have (crossword puzzle books for Gramma, for instance), but if I’m buying a book for myself, it’s not going to be at a huge mega-bookstore.
Looking for quality independents in the D.C. area?
Olsson’s is a local chain with two stores in D.C. and three in Virginia (including one at National Airport). I’ve not visited their Courthouse location, but I can recommend without hesitation, any of their three other stand-alone stores. Dupont lacks a cafe, but you’re not missing it in that neighborhood. Over the last few years they have expanded from just selling books, cds, and dvds to include renting out art house/BBC movies and series. And they offer a free membership that nets you discounts over time.
Politics and Prose is what you envision when you envision a local bookshop — or what it would be if it regularly appeared on Book TV on C-Span2. It feels cosy, even if it has expanded over the years. New books and an area for readings are located upstairs and the downstairs is devoted to remainders, a great kids’ section, and a tasty coffeeshop.
You couldn’t go wrong with either one.
worst possible weekend activity planned
posted by soe 11:40 am
A preliminary note to my male readers: You likely will not care about this post. Come back tomorrow after I’m done reaping the sympathy of my female readers.
Now that it’s just us girls, let’s talk breasts. More specifically, bras.
In the last two weeks, two of my bras have given up the ghost — one had a strap snap and the other’s underwire broke. I’m devastated. Nevermind the fact that the latter bra was my favorite — the only one that looked good under all my light colored tshirts, of course. Now I have to face the dreaded task of … bra shopping. ::Evil organ chords::
Clearly this bra-shopping procrastination is why the bras broke. With the exception of the black bra I bought in England last fall, every bra I own is three-plus years old and gets worn frequently. It was time. It was time a while back. But I just couldn’t face up to its necessity until the bras literally had to start breaking. I’m sure if I put it off any longer the rest will also give up the ghost.
Luckily, I’m heading to Connecticut for a long weekend, where I have access to Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Target, and Kohls. But I know this means I’m going to have to try on nearly every white and off-white and ecru bra in my size in each store.
And why is it too much to ask for them to be supportive and non-weird and comfortable and pretty all at the same time? I’m no longer horrified by the peek-a-boo bra strap; I can see that it’s not really that awful for someone to know you are, in fact, wearing a bra. Call me old-fashioned, though, but if you can see the pattern on my bra through my shirt, you have too much information about me … particularly if we take the previous post into consideration…
And why would people with larger cup sizes want excessive padding? Please. Manufacturers, please understand: we come with our own.
Okay, I’m done ranting. Just think of me with pity this weekend as I spend several hours under unflattering dressing room lights.
anyone have a killer line?
posted by soe 2:20 am
You know, the one that shoots down the person hitting on you in a public place?
Guys approach me on the street with some regularity, asking me if I date “brothers.” Usually if it’s that innocuous I just reply that I would, but that I think my husband might have issues with it. I laugh. They laugh. Everyone has a polite out. As if you’d accept a date with a random stranger leering at you from a car window or a street corner.
I’ve learned when I travel alone to wear a ring with a jewel-like stone. It doesn’t stop everyone from hitting on me, but I feel like it cuts down on it.
Other encounters, however, are harder to brush off. There was the guy in a church courtyard/public lunch spot who touched my toe and told me I needed a ring for it. There were the elderly men (old enough to be my father, if not my grandfather) who made dirty comments about me as I sat obliviously reading my book in a “family-friendly” pocket park next to Eastern Market earlier this spring. When I noticed, I bolted, and it freaked me out for weeks. In London, a certainly drunk and possibly homeless man kissed me — with an astonished Rudi and a snickering security guard standing right next to me. My cousin later told me I was taking politeness a bit far.
I used to think I was the only one. But then I talked to a few girls at work and it seems to be a cultural thing. One colleague was so irked by an encounter on her walk to the Metro one morning that she learned PowerPoint by creating a presentation containing her response. Another once had someone come on to her at a bus stop. He licked her. She belted him.
Tonight Rudi asked me to pick up beer for him. I had already passed Whole Foods by, leaving a liquor store as my option between there and home. I knew when he asked that it wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience. I was wearing a skirt. I thought about saying no — particularly since I wasn’t going to drink any of it. On the other hand, Rudi doesn’t shirk from buying personal things for me, so that didn’t really seem to be a fair excuse.
Ultimately, though, I didn’t want to feel powerless. I don’t want it to be my problem. I don’t want to have to alter what I wear and where I go and how I conduct my life just because I’m a woman and some stupid git can’t keep his comments or his leers to himself.
But there’s always one. Sure enough, some guy comes up to me as I’m paying for the beer. “Wow, look at those legs. Are you a kickboxer?”
“Yep,” I replied, remembering Amani’s advice to look as if the person hitting on you is remarkably laughable and inconsequential.
“No, you aren’t.”
“Then why did you ask?”
“I just got out of the army. Where did you come from?”
I bet if I’d threatened him with the drop spindle and US6 knitting needles I had in my bag, he would have left me alone. Of course, I bet if I’d done that the liquor store clerk who idly watched the whole encounter would have called the cops.
Instead, I just walked home, getting madder and madder as I went along until I arrived at home fuming.
Maybe next time I’ll ask him if these sorts of encounters ever work and why he bothers if he’s guaranteed rejection every time.
Maybe I’ll ask him what he’d think if some skeevy old guy were hitting on his daughter.
Sadly, I bet he wouldn’t see the correlation.
So, anyone have a killer line to end those sorts of encounters?
May 20, 2006
posted by soe 11:45 pm
We just got back from watching Akeelah and the Bee, and it was easily the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. If you have not already seen the movie, put down whatever you’re doing, stop reading this post, and run to the closest movie theater and see it right now. Seriously. I mean, I ended the movie with a huge grin. Even the most cynical amongst us (and we’re a pretty cynical bunch) found the movie sweetly touching.
The story centers around precocious 11-year-old Akeelah, the youngest child of a harried widowed hospital worker. She is bright, but tries to pretend that she’s not in order to stay out of trouble with the other kids at her South L.A. middle school. Her principal forces her to participate in the school spelling bee, which she wins with ease, qualifying her to move on to the regional bee. Akeelah then must figure out what to do and whether her principal’s friend, the grumpy former head of a college English department, can help her find some answers.
Lawrence Fishburne is compelling as the professor who sees Akeelah’s potential. Angela Bassett gives a gritty performance as a mother trying to do well for all of her children while holding herself together. And Keke Palmer is delightful in the lead role (and seems to be, from her night show appearances, equally charming in real life). She really captures the ambivalence that a lot of smart kids feel about the balance between using their brains and fitting in.
Are you still reading this? If so, I’m guessing this means you’ve already seen the movie. If not, did you not read what I wrote in the first paragraph? Seriously, people, the movie will bring a grin to your face. Hurry up, go make yourself happy.
May 19, 2006
water, water everywhere
posted by soe 1:20 am
Apparently the water gods are aware that I am a transplanted New Englander. While the good folks of Massachusetts and New Hampshire are floating away on thriftily devised rafts of submerged car seats, I want them to understand that I have personally been siphoning my own allotment of water from the storms.
In the course of a week, we have battled water thrice. The first arrived in the form of a persistent leak through our bedroom window and onto Rudi. He did not care for this brand of Chinese water torture, and our handyman has patched the problem.
The latter two leaks seem to have come in the form of a bad water heater (which lies perilously close to our subterranean Burrow) that has, thus far, left the laundry room soaked but our own apartment untouched. My hopes remain that the water is not planning on a sneak attack in the form of mold in the walls later this summer. If you can spare dry thoughts from the Northeasterners, please send me one or two small ones…
May 18, 2006
kick, vacation-planning, and birthday
posted by soe 12:21 pm
How did it get to be Thursday already? Today is Clare’s second blogiversary and my hat is tipped in her general direction today for providing the inspiration for my oldest (and best) recurring feature.
Here are three beautiful things from the last week off the top of my head:
1. We were heading to a trece de mayo party on Saturday night and I wanted to bring a dessert. None of my usual desserts piqued any interest, so I headed online to see what sorts of spicy-sweet concoctions I could make. I found a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that included cayenne pepper and pine nuts and decided to give them a shot. They were surprisingly tasty and a big hit at the party. People were stumped by the mystery ingredient, which didn’t alter the taste but instead added just a hint of warmth at the end!
2. I looked at the schedule this week and figured out when I’d be taking some vacations over the next few months. It’s necessary to recharge the batteries — and good to know that I’ll have time to see friends, as well. Now if I can just fit a trip to the beach in…
3. In between Rudi’s many well-wishing phone calls and emails, we managed to fit in pancakes, a trip to the zoo, a late lunch at Open City, take-out Thai, presents, Walk the Line, and strawberry shortcake. I like birthdays — even when they aren’t my own.
A bonus beautiful thing: Secrets. It’s not my beautiful thing to share. But suffice it to say, that beautiful news for one person is beautiful news for all. I’m glad to share in everyone’s happiness.