July 29, 2010
bang, walking in the rain, and photo finish
posted by soe 11:59 pm
I’m home! You’ll probably get three more beautiful things from my vacation tomorrow, but, in meantime, I offer you three beautiful things from today:
1. The first crack of thunder from the lunchtime storm is so loud it echoes through the building. It gives a few minutes’ warning of the impending downpour.
2. Getting caught in the rain when I have nowhere to be tends to make me giddy with delight. A few other foot travelers and I smile conspiratorially as we pass each other. The rain is warm. My front ends up drenched — so sopping wet, in fact, you can see the dollar in my skirt pocket — and my hiking shoes squilch with every step — possibly aided by some puddles that proved too irresistible.
3. The rain has stopped and the sun is reappearing. As I get to Mass Ave., I finally get clear of the trees and low buildings to catch the tail arc of the rainbow that heralds a cooler, drier few days.
ETA: I didn’t even realize yesterday that it was Rain Day. How appropriate!
How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?
July 22, 2010
flutterbies, 100, and leaving
posted by soe 10:09 am
Three beautiful things from the week before vacation:
1. As we were driving up to Rudi’s race on Sunday, yellow butterflies were out in force. It seemed that last week was the time to come out of hibernation.
2. I’m savoring the library’s 100th-anniversary copy of The Wizard of Oz. It has gilt edges and the original illustrations and a book ribbon to mark your place. It makes bedtime seem very special.
3. We’re outta here in the next hour. Vacation rocks!
What’s been beautiful in your world this week?
July 21, 2010
it’s okay to admit it…
posted by soe 9:35 pm
How many of you looked at last night’s post, which immediately followed my post about housecleaning, and just shook your head at my optimism? It’s okay. I know it’s more people than just Mum.
As many of you could probably foretell I did not have the dreamy day of lazing about I somehow expected to have. Instead, Rudi and I spent the day putting the Burrow back to some semblance of order after much of our bedroom moved out to the living room over the weekend. And trying to get on top of the things that need to go to Goodwill or that need to be recycled.
We did not run errands. We did not get to the garden. We did not have a tasty meal out or invite friends over (although we did have a nice, long chat with our new cat sitter). We did sleep in and we have hung out with the cats. And my clothes are packed, so we’re definitely moving in the right direction.
Next: Dinner. At 10:30 p.m. Then maybe grocery shopping. Or just collapsing in a little puddle of tiredness.
posted by soe 12:37 am
Rudi and I head out on vacation Thursday. We’re hoping to catch up with old friends and family, go to the beach, watch a play, visit our alma mater, eat good food, listen to music, see a movie, and generally relax for a week.
But first we’re having a one-day staycation tomorrow. We decided that instead of starting our vacation by stressing out about packing and getting out of here after a full day of work and evening activities for both of us, we’d give ourselves a buffer. We’ll sleep in, run some errands, garden, and snuggle with our cats. Heck, maybe we’ll even go out to eat — or invite friends over for a snack. Oh, and clean and pack. We’ll definitely do that, too.
July 19, 2010
the sad truth of the matter
posted by soe 10:26 pm
Rudi and I hate to clean. And we’re lazy. Which means that neither of us cleans beyond the bare minimum (cat boxes get changed, dishes get washed, laundry is done, bed gets made(ish)). But short of that, we’re a piling kind of household.
This is not without problem, of course. As time goes on, I get stressed, discouraged, and agitated. Rudi goes out on longer bike rides to avoid the mess.
Eventually, it all comes to a head, usually precipitated by an impending visit by guests. Or, as is currently the case, our new mattress arrives just days before our vacation. And then we go into a frantic, day-after-day cleaning frenzy.
This is not a pace that a normal human can sustain. This is not behavior we can maintain. Plus, we just have too much stuff, which just means our piles get moved about, cleaned, and temporarily re-sorted.
So after the crisis is over and the guests have gone home, our piles creep back out. (There is that infamous tree-trimming party where after all our guests left, we looked at the bed, covered with stuff from all our public spaces that we’d run out of time to deal with, and just gave up. Rudi unfolded the couch and spend the night there and I shifted a few things and slept amidst the piles. It was a sad night we hope never to have to repeat.)
We don’t aspire to be ascetics. We’re both content and comfortable with a certain amount of untidiness. We like our books and music, our bikes and yarn. But we do seem to require some outside force to keep our messy tendencies in check.
What we really need is a standing weekly date when people come over. Then there’s only a limited time period when we can create new or reformatted piles before we have to deal with them again.
Would one of you mind volunteering to come for dinner every week? Our mental health would certainly appreciate it.
July 18, 2010
news from abroad, recognition, and fly away!
posted by soe 1:21 am
Thursday evening was a bit grumbly for me, which meant I missed noting a couple of things that would otherwise have made the list. So in the interest of not forgetting to share them and of getting to sleep sometime tonight, I offer you three more beautiful things from my week:
1. “There’s a new missive. Do you want to hear it?” Rudi always says yes because letters from my friend Elspeth, currently stationed in Kyrgyzstan for the summer, reliably are filled with laughter, knowledge, and a knack for storytelling that makes you feel like you, too, are stuck on a slow-moving bus that may or may not be heading where you want to go with a grandmotherly woman and her chicken. Although this summer’s letters have been, thus far, poultry-free, they combine an old-fashioned read-aloud feeling with Elspeth’s modern and quirky personality to offer some of the most compelling travel literature I’ve read.
2. As I headed out to pick up a late lunch one afternoon this week, I came upon the Curbside Cupcake truck, where there was not yet a block-long line. I waited behind a few people and, when I got to the front, was greeted by Sam like an old friend. “When was the last time I saw you? Are you wearing your galoshes today?” he asks, peeking out of Pinky’s window. I left with a big smile and a vanilla cupcake with raspberry frosting that was absolutely delicious.
3. Our baby blue jay learned to fly! When we left for work on Monday, we knew lift-off was imminent. He could reliably make it up from the bottom of the window well to the bars (to protect our windows from being broken by thieves) over the a/c unit, but he’d been stymied by the bars in his efforts to get further, repeatedly falling behind the bars rather than flying away from them. By the time Rudi got home from work on Monday, the baby was up at street level, doing short flight bursts around the railing outside the house. Rudi says the parents were harassing other pedestrians who stopped to gawk, but let him pass unaccosted. And on Tuesday morning as I sat on the couch finishing my breakfast, our blue jay landed on the top of the window well, cocked his head, chirped, and, after I waved to him, flew away.
July 15, 2010
fresh churned, nl, and so in love
posted by soe 7:42 pm
So often I’m surprised when Thursday shows up. This week, not so much. It’s been a slow week and I’m glad the weekend is only waiting for one more workday to arrive. But it can’t come before we look back at three beautiful things from the past week:
1. Rudi and I attend a fundraiser at a local hotel that gives us tastings of homemade ice cream. The caramel tastes of butter and burnt sugar. And the mint chocolate chip, made with herbs grown on their back patio, combines a nice mint flavor with bits of shaved chocolate. I refrain from licking out my cups — but only just.
2. The National League won the All-Star Game for the first time since 1996 and the one player representing the Nationals, Matt Capps, got the win after striking out Big Papi. The Mets’ David Wright went 2 for 2 with a stolen base. And for one night, I felt something like appreciation for the Braves and their players.
3. Over the weekend, as I mentioned earlier, we had the good fortune to attend the wedding reception of two good friends. As Phillip got up to give a speech thanking everyone for attending and sharing what good fortune he had to be able to share his life with Susan, his face was alight with love for his new bride. And Susan, sitting at the table next to him, also shone with peace and contentment. It was just one of those moments when everything — and everyone — clicks into the right spot in life and is just where they ought to be.
How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?
posted by soe 2:31 am
Does anyone have a granola recipe they’d like to share?
I made up a batch tonight, and, while it made the house smell lovely, it’s not all I was hoping for. I mean, it’s fine, but it’s not great.
So far, I’ve tried Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio Granola and Mark Bittman’s Crunchy Granola. They’re perfectly serviceable recipes. They just don’t create the sort of granola that you write blog posts about. (Or, I suppose, they do, but not in a flattering way.)
So, anyone got a recipe they love? I would prefer one that isn’t prepared in a crock pot, since we don’t own one, but otherwise I don’t have any requirements. I prefer a bunchy granola, but would be happy with a flaky one if it had superb flavor.
July 13, 2010
ten on tuesday: where i live
posted by soe 11:42 pm
This week’s Ten on Tuesday is focused on things you like about where you live:
1. How protective we are of our identity. Coming from New England, I know how touchy one can get when outsiders confuse New Hampshire and Vermont or try to make New York part of New England. But that does not begin to compare to how a D.C. resident feels when someone tries to claim that they live in Washington, D.C., when, in fact, they live in Virginia or Maryland. Also, that if you are referring to us as “Inside the Beltway” or “Washington” it is obvious that you are not referring to the local municipality and its citizens but to the federal government.
2. Height restrictions. People (particularly our friend John) will tell you that more high density residences are the key to keeping open spaces open. But I still love that in D.C. how high a building can be built is limited. (Contrary to what people will tell you, it is not restricted by the Capitol dome, but by the width of the street the building sits on.) With a few rare exceptions, no building in D.C. is taller than 12 stories, which means that you can always see the sky, unlike in many cities.
3. Green space. The District has a lot of parkland, ranging from triangular pocket parks where three streets meet to the C&O Canal towpath, which runs between a defunct canal and the Potomac River. Plus, we have Rock Creek Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country and where you would swear you’d left the city limits when you’re inside it.
4. Political awareness. Whether it’s because they work for someone in the Capitol or because they have no representation within it, nearly every person in the District knows a great deal about politics. Sure, people elsewhere know plenty, too, but I bet D.C. is one of the few places where half the population can reliably tell you how many electoral college votes we get. (For the record, it’s three.) Plus, we’re a die-hard, indigo coursing through our veins kind of place, where marriage equality was recently legalized and medical marijuana is also likely to become law. We’re so heavily Democratic, mayoral and council seat elections are routinely determined in the primary race, rather than in the general election, and District law has been re-written to force non-majority party membership on the Council.
5. A wide diversity of food. Yes, you can find chain restaurants and crappy hot dog vendors. But you can also find farmers’ markets every day of the week at various spots around the city and Eastern Market handily located on Cap Hill. And the restaurants range widely from New Haven-style pizza (not as good as pizza in New Haven, but far, far better than anything else within 300 miles) to Ethiopian injera to Salvadoran pupusas to chili half-smokes. There is a growing awareness of vegetarian food (finally!). Asian restaurants are starting to filter in from the Virginia ‘burbs. There are always plenty of fancy restaurants for celebrations and we have a growing supply of cupcakeries and independent coffee houses.
6. Free cultural resources. Sure, New York may have more museums, but we’ve got them beat by allowing free access to nearly all of ours. The Smithsonian is an amazing resource to have at your disposal — from the Museum of the American Indian to Air and Space to the National Zoo. We also offer a number of great, free festivals down on the Mall from the National Kite Festival in March to the recent Folklife Festival to September’s Book Festival. And that doesn’t even look at the daily Millennium Stage offering at the Kennedy Center, Friday night jazz, or the plethora of outdoor film screenings during the summer.
7. A well-balanced transit system. Our Metrorail system is clean. We’ve got lots of bus lines. We’re building a street car line or two. They add more bike lanes every year. You can walk lots of places. And you generally can find street parking in your neighborhood if you have a parking permit.
8. Politics and Prose. One of the best bookstores in the nation. Knowledgeable, friendly staff. Daily author readings. A great members’ program. Remainders. And a decent cafe, to boot.
9. Local sports. Our beleaguered Nationals now boast the first winning pitcher of an NL squad in 14 years. I’ve seen women’s world cup soccer at RFK. I’ve seen a friendly match between our men’s club and one of England’s premiere-league teams. I’ve seen men’s and women’s basketball. We’ve got a roller derby team, a tennis team, and a women’s football team. I hear rumors we have an ice hockey team. Maryland has a football team that claims to be from here (note the Washington reference in #1 above). We host one of the largest open-entry marathons in the country. And if you walk around town any night of the week, you’ll see we have amateur-level sports in beach volleyball, kickball, rugby, softball, bocci, ultimate frisbee, crew, and cricket.
10. Dupont Circle. My little ‘hood has grown more … mallified … since we moved down here, but it still offers a fantastic place to live. There are public spaces, bookstores — of both the new and used varieties, a music store, a tea house, two indy coffee joints, two cupcake shops, an ice cream shop, a gelateria, two 24-hour drug stores, and, soon, a yarn shop. Yes, we lost both our movie theaters. Yes, high rents and greedy landlords have driven out a number of adorable little shops we liked. But, overall, you can’t beat the above list combined with the quiet streets that spur off from the main drag as a place to live.
I could go on. But I won’t. But you can. Share in the comments what you like about where you live.
sometimes there’s some truth in those old sayings
posted by soe 12:56 am
You know those sayings: “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Or “When it rains, it pours.” Or “Where there’s lightning, there’s often a thunderstorm.”
Oh, you haven’t heard that last one?
Around 9:30 tonight, Rudi, Julia, and I were sitting out on the Mall, having a perfectly lovely evening. A brief spattering of rain had gone through downtown just around 5, which dropped the temperature down but didn’t seem to raise the humidity or soak the ground, making it perfect for the inaugural showing of this year’s Screen on the Green.
Yes, there was the odd flickering of lightning, but mostly it seemed to be of the cloud-to-cloud variety, so it didn’t bother us at all as we enjoyed our picnic and cartoon short (Marvin the Martian!). We moved on to the main feature, Goldfinger, and had just finished our cupcakey dessert and followed James Bond to America when the drops started to patter down. Julia and about a third of the crowd had already packed up when the emcee came over the loudspeaker to announce that due to a fast-moving thunderstorm, they were very sorry, but they were going to have to cut the film short — oh, and could we please leave RIGHT NOW?!
Which we did.
Except maybe they didn’t emphasize that fast bit enough because we hardly had time to get our bikes unlocked before the rain was pouring down and the lightning was crashing around us. We and about a hundred of our neighbors dashed (dashed is a relative term when carrying a chair and lugging a 45-pound bike) up the steps of the west wing of the National Gallery of Art and hung out on their front porch while the worst of the storm passed through downtown D.C.
We waited for the rain to go into a lull and for the thunder to tell us the storm had moved out of immediate proximity before hopping on our very damp bikes and pedaling home.
Just after we left the Mall to head north, the rain (sans electricity this time) started up again. Rudi and I just pedaled through it, trying to avoid the biggest puddles and to give ourselves plenty of time to brake. And, luckily, drivers gave us a wide berth, probably because they felt sorry for us in our bedraggled state.
Okay, so it might not have made for the best movie-watching, but it’s definitely an evening we won’t soon forget. And that’s kind of cool.
But if I see smoke anytime soon, I’m pulling out the marshmallows…