June is nearly upon us, but May is having one final, glorious stand at immortality. Before she fades away, let’s look back at three beautiful things from the past week:
1. Fireflies emerge in the park as twilight fills the sky.
2. Peas from the garden eaten straight from the pod while standing in the kitchen.
3. We clean out the freezer and toss some things that were indistinguishable from the freezer burn coating them. (Note: plastic grocery bags are not adequate for long-term freezer storage.) There is now room for popsicles and homemade ice cream and ice cubes (radical, I know!), and I can see how many baggies of strawberries I have left from last season for daiquiri-making.
How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?
I meant to post this last week, on the actual anniversary, but I lost track of the days and only this morning recalled that I had missed the date. Also, apologies for the quality of the pictures. I found them rather late in the game and, rather than dig out the scanner, I opted to photograph them, and the quality suffered.
Twenty years ago this month, Grey Kitten and I attended my senior prom.
I don’t remember asking him, but it was probably a driveway question. The fact that I don’t remember it suggests that he did not make me wait long before he said yes. [Thank you for that, GK, because the boy I asked to my junior prom said no, albeit kindly and quickly. Karen took pity on me (thanks, Kare!) and went on a consolation date with me to the movies, after which she swore she would never see another action film with me again. She has not broken that promise, although, to my recollection, I have never asked her to.]
Finding the right dress took far longer than finding the right date. I know a number of girls who waited to find escorts until after they found their outfit. I was about to type that I didn’t care that much about fashion, but my mother reads this blog and she would tell you that searching for a prom dress with me was a miserable experience for both of us — and I only took her on a third of the excursions! Ultimately, the dress was found, but not in my size. The shop made some adjustments, but not enough, and Mum and Gramma had to pull it apart and put it back together again. Twenty years later, I cannot begin to fathom how much work that must have been. Thank you, Mum.
I remember walking around the grounds when we got there. I remember getting our official portrait taken, with the awkward hand placement that accompanies such shots. There must have been some pre-dinner mingling, because I have pictures of my friends in their dresses. Our table was served dinner on the early side of the room, and neither Grey Kitten nor I were big eaters at that time, so when the music started, I assume to create ambiance during the meal, we looked at each other, got up, and hit the dance floor — the first and, for a long time, the only couple out there. And while I do recall sitting down at least once, I think we spent most of the evening dancing.
It was a perfect night.
And because my classmates were wiser than I, Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” was not our prom theme. Instead, it was Dan Hill’s “Sometimes when We Touch,” a classic of light pop radio:
So whenever I hear it, I get to relive a fairy-tale evening, now long enough ago to qualify as “once upon a time.”
Following close on the heels of the traditional summer kick-off weekend, this week’s Ten on Tuesday topic asks for 10 Goals for This Summer:
Eat breakfast outside more often. I tend to get a slow start on weekends, so it seems like a natural antidote to that would be to pack my thermos of tea and a breakfasty food item up to the park. Once I’ve left the house, it’s much easier to stay out, even if I do have to stop home once in a while.
Prepare more salads. This will require finding a reliable protein source for Rudi — chickpeas might be an option. They appear in my favorite pre-made lunch salad.
Ride 25 miles on the bike with minimal stoppage. I can bike home from the ballpark without having to stop and rest my legs, but that’s just about five miles. As I really only like to bike to destinations (work, a ball game, a snack), I should pick someplace 25 miles away to go see. Of course, then I’d have to get home from someplace 25 miles away… Does that mean I’ll need to be able to bike 50 miles in a day? Getting to this goal may require some more thought.
Engage in icy treats. I have failed in my plans to make popsicles the past two weekends, but that’s clearly because I was waiting to be able to add them to this list. I also was given an ice cream maker this winter, so I’d like to make some homemade ice cream. I have already worked some daiquiri-making magic, but can you ever have too many strawberry daiquiris in a summer?
Get to the beach at least once a month.
Finish my Ravelympics and Tour de France knitting projects on time, whatever they may be.
Hone my bubble-blowing skills. I used to be able to blow bubbles inside bubbles with some ease. I am out of practice, but did pull it off a couple times Saturday night. After all, who doesn’t need to add that kind of skill to her resume?
Bring laughter to strangers (and friends).
What’s on your summer goals list? I look forward to reading about them, be they vague or specific, selfish or selfless, personal or public.
Memorial Day weekend kicks off the beginning of the summer season, and the weather is clearly well-aware with high temperatures expected to be in the 90s.
In between trying to remain cool, I plan to:
Finish the Mosaica socks. The last round of Sock Madness starts in the morning. I bought more white yarn, as it was clear I was going to run out in the home stretch.
Read The Enchantress, which came out on Tuesday. I am so looking forward to this series finale. I may well take my signed copy of the book, a thermos of tea, and our camping hammock up to the park and read it beneath a tree. [As a side note, if Michael Scott does a reading anywhere near where you live, I suggest going. He is my favorite author to see in person -- and it is not, as he suggested, because of the lilt. It's because he really takes the time to listen to the questions the kids ask him and thoughtfully considers his answer to each one. And when he runs out of time to answer them publicly, he makes sure that kids know they're welcome to come up and ask him while he signs books.]
Have a picnic with John and Nicole, who arrived home from Albany too late tonight for our planned excursion to the Yards.
Pick more strawberries and peas at the garden.
Go swimming. The pools open for the year tomorrow.
Make popsicles. I didn’t get around to my planned trial last weekend.
Attend a barbecue. Megan has proposed one on Monday, and I hope to cross the Potomac in pursuit of fake meat cooked over a contained fire.
Go to a movie. There are several to choose from.
Do a few chores: laundry, change the sheets, put away the winter clothes (the summer ones got taken care of last weekend).
Drink strawberry daiquiris. Because isn’t that what summer is all about?
It’s the Thursday before a long weekend and if that’s not a reason to count the beautiful things that have led up to today, I don’t know what is. Here are three from the past week:
1. A young girl and her mother out for a stroll are sitting on a wall, taking a break. The girl has clearly brought her stuffed dog out to stretch his legs too, since he’s on his leash — a navy blue tie.
2. A storm is coming. You can feel the electricity in the air. It’s almost as invigorating as being at the ocean.
3. Knowing that it’s supposed to cloud over sometime in the afternoon, I head to the park early (for me), taking my thermos of tea and (late) breakfast with me. I get several hours sitting at a picnic table reading before I’ve usually left the Burrow.
And, while strictly this isn’t beautiful, because it made me cry, its beauty lies in its perfection. A line from Sherlock: “I was so alone, and I owe you so much.” Friendship summarized in agonizing clarity.
How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?
Just last night, Karen and I were talking about how confusing it is when two different things go by the same name. We started the conversation with the chigger, which refers both to a mite (which takes a bite out of you) and to a flea (which burrows in you), and moved on to daddy long legs, which can be an arachnid (what I grew up with), a spider, or a fly.
And today I found a third, although this one is admittedly closer than the previous two examples.
I grew up calling this a tulip tree:
That would be a Magnolia Soulangiana. Living in the south, you come to know this is a magnolia, because it rivals the cherry for earliest flowering tree in the spring.
Come to find out, there’s another tree that’s also called the tulip tree. That would be this:
It’s also called the yellow poplar, but it’s not actually a poplar. Instead it’s a Liriodendron tulipifera.
It’s in the Magnolia family, but not in the Magnolioideae genus (where all the magnolias are classified). Instead it’s in the Liriodendron genus.
These particular trees are growing in Rock Creek Park near Woodley Park.
I wrote this down in the statement the policeman asked me to complete:
I emerged from my building to see three police officers running across the street. They were chasing a young man. They caught him and got him on his stomach. [This first part was the first few seconds after walking out my door. I didn't know yet I was supposed to be paying attention to the tableau, so I don't know how he ended up lying on the ground -- tripped? pushed? jumped upon? Regardless, I didn't see that part, so it didn't go into my statement.] One officer was yelling at the young man to stop, but he was already on the ground with an officer on top of him. The young man kept shouting something indistinguishable, except for “in my pocket!” Six more officers arrived on the scene, surrounding the young man. He was then allowed up to his feet.
It was at this point that I decided that I was going to sit myself down on our building’s stoop. It wasn’t out of fascination for what was happening. It was out of fear for the young man. Because nine police officers seemed like an awful lot for one young man. One young man who was really a boy, probably no more than twenty years old, for whom English was not his first language. Either he’d done something terrible, like murder someone or he was a terrorist threat. Except that he was standing up — without handcuffs on.
I’ve seen D.C. cops singly or in pairs take down wrongdoers who seemed far more threatening and belligerent than did this one boy, who had now taken his wallet out of his pocket [I'm guessing that's what he was shouting earlier]. This seemed excessive.
The boy took off his hoodie and let it fall to the ground. I thought perhaps the cops wanted to see it, but they left it at his feet. His sunglasses and his wallet soon followed from his trembling hands.
My neighbor crossed the road to explain that the boy was helping to paint his house and to ask what was going on, but the lead police officer ordered him to back off and chased him back across the street. I don’t know if he went inside then or later because I couldn’t see his building from where I was sitting, but I know when I got up later he was gone.
Some officers retreated to their vehicles, one obviously to check the boy’s id. His back to a waist-high property fence, the boy wept, still hemmed in by five officers who clearly seemed to suspect he was going to bolt. I don’t know what he was saying, but I know he was talking because one of the women officers sharply told him several times to stop and to listen to her.
The paddywagon left, as did the police car that arrived at the same time.
I don’t know if they gave him a ticket, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they cited him for failure to comply with an order (or whatever that charge actually is), because the lead officer then came over to me and asked me if I’d seen what had transpired. I gave him those first three sentences above, and then he asked me if I’d heard him say anything to the young man. “I did,” I replied. “But not until he was already on the ground.” He then asked me to write that down in a statement, the approximation of which I’ve already given you, and not to steal his gold pen.
As I was writing, another cop showed up, but he was dressed in a white shirt rather than blue like everyone else’s. I don’t know if police supervisor uniforms have white shirts, but that would be my guess. Because I was writing, I don’t know why he was there or what he did.
A young officer was sent over for my statement and the primary officer’s pen. They all left.
And then the poor boy gathered his things and continued down the street in the direction he’d been heading when I’d happened upon the scene.
That’s as much as I can tell you. Whatever prompted nine officers to respond to the scene ended up with the suspect walking free.
But that’s clearly not the whole story. I gave you a middle of a story and an ending (mostly). But what was the beginning? Because I have to think that the story feels vastly different depending on whether someone in Dupont Circle accused him to his face of a crime, sending him fleeing into the neighborhood, or whether he suddenly saw the time, realized he was late for dinner at home, and began to run, raising suspicions of officers who happened to be driving past and saw a fully clothed, brown-skinned young man sprinting through a well-off area. Did he have headphones on and not realize he was being asked to stop? Was he, in fact, asked to stop before he was already on the ground?
I thought I’d try something new today and offer you the noises of my neighborhood. Listening to five minutes of audio might be a bit tedious, so I thought I’d try giving you a more wordy version. If you find this interesting, I invite you to play along in the comments or on your own piece of the internet. If you do take part, consider telling us your town, your location (work, home, cafe), and the day and time:
D.C., The Burrow, Saturday, 2:15-2:20 p.m.
The apartment is quiet. The cats must be asleep. The only noises inside are the humming of my computer and the typing on my keyboard. Outside is another story:
Two car doors.
Children talking. An adult woman is with them.
Muffled laughter in the distance.
Woman explaining something to a young child.
A siren in the distance.
A single toot of a horn. The light must have changed.
Motorcycle accelerating and then fading into the distance.
A car idling at the light.
A deep rumbling truck in the distance.
An airplane heading in to land at National.
A woman’s voice, then the child again.
Traffic, including a bus.
A car passes.
A car horn toots.
A loud bird cheeps repeatedly.
Brakes — probably a taxi.
The bird is angry.
Probably the part you’d notice if this were audio, rather than narration is that the cars passing by are pretty nonstop, although not necessarily heavy. And, actually, for my neighborhood on a Saturday, this was pretty quiet.
An interesting study. I think I’d like to try it again sometime.