sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 24, 2013

dc donut crawl
posted by soe 3:36 am

Today was the D.C. Donut Crawl, a recreational bike ride that stopped at four local doughnut shops over an 8-mile course. I signed up as soon as they announced it, because I always tell people I’m perfectly happy to ride my bike if they stick food halfway through the route. My friends Michael and Julia signed up at the last minute to accompany me, which was nice of them.

The ride kicked off up in Brightwood at the Chocolate Crust. I’d gotten off to a late start, which put us at the back of a very slow moving line. It was clear that the number of participants had overwhelmed the small shop, where the employees struggled to serve folks in an efficient fashion.

Chocolate Crust

They were temporarily out of the chocolate doissant, a doughnut-croissant hybrid the shop is locally known for, by the time Julia and I got to the cash register, so I opted for the chocolate-filled doughnut. The dough was a bit greasy (more like a fried dough shell than your traditional Berliner doughnut casing), but the frosting piped in was quite tasty. I combined it with a butter beer, because, really, when offered a drink out of Harry Potter, how do you say no? (It’s very sweet and butterscotchy.)

Because we were so far behind the rest of the riders, the marshal for our group decided to skip GBD in favor of getting to the third stop, downtown’s Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, which Washington Post staffers recently dubbed the best doughnuts in the city. Located near my office, I agree with their assessment, but also recognize these are yuppy doughnuts, each costing approximately $3. Julia opted to follow her piece of fried chicken with the pecan pie doughnut, which turned out to be too sweet for her tastes (she sent it home with me, and Rudi and I split it for dessert tonight), but I liked the Almond Joy, a coconut cake doughnut topped with chocolate frosting and candied almonds.

The tour finished at Union Kitchen, a building used as a collective incubator space for small food-related startups, where District Doughnuts, another new-to-me shop, had two flavors for us to sample: caramel apple streusel (which was delicious) and pumpkin spice (which Julia and Michael raved over). We had a brief conversation with the owners of the business, who explained the key to doughnut-making lies with the dough. As I have found the key to quality pizza lies with the crust, I could appreciate the distinction.

After a few other stops, I decided to conclude the day by running past GBD (Golden Brown Delicious) on my way home. They had put their fritters on sale for the day, so I picked up a gala apple-cinnamon fritter, which Rudi and I split tonight, and a raspberry-ginger fritter, which we’ve saved for tomorrow. I had had mixed feelings about GBD’s doughnuts the only other time I visited them, so it was a real pleasure to bite into the apple fritter and find it so chock-full of apple bits. Rudi and I agreed that it was one of the best fritters we’d had.

So it was a fun ride, even if there were some kinks to work out for the next one. And I definitely should plan to work out tomorrow because one should not, as a general rule, consume as many baked goods as I did today, even if they were interspersed with bike riding.

Thanks to the organizers and the participating shops!

Category: dc life. There is/are Comments Off on dc donut crawl.

November 23, 2013

posted by soe 2:58 am

Dinner tonight — a night in late November, mind you — included tomatoes and greens from my garden. (Admittedly, both were picked a couple weeks back, but still…) And this was not the final supper of the year that will include garden produce.

To this New England-born girl, that is just crazy.

Category: garden. There is/are Comments Off on dinner.

November 22, 2013

catching up, sunbathing, and exploring the cosmos
posted by soe 4:12 am

Three beautiful things from the past week:

1. 11 p.m. and the landline rings. “Karen?” Rudi guesses. “Nah. Your mom?” I reply. In fact, it’s Rebs, calling from Wisconsin, where she’s learning new software. It’s the first time we’ve talked in over a year and it’s really good to reconnect and to hear how she and her family are doing.

2. I leave the office for the first time during the late afternoon and realize the sun is at such a spot that it’s not hidden behind buildings. I stand with my hot drink on the sidewalk, soaking in the rays.

3. MAVEN, the latest spacecraft headed to Mars, launched on Monday. Watching the pre-flight broadcast, it’s surprisingly exhilarating to hear the rapid-fire “Go!” responses from the various system heads. A couple of minutes into flight, I gasp as various parts of the rocket fall away (on purpose).

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

Category: three beautiful things. There is/are Comments Off on catching up, sunbathing, and exploring the cosmos.

November 21, 2013

on my table
posted by soe 3:11 am

In between the skeins of yarn and the mail, ball winder and tins, sits a pile.

I know that Two Boys Kissing will end soon and I wanted to be prepared for its conclusion with something new to read. Despite having a whole list (and corresponding copies) of books I meant to read this fall and towering piles of books I own that sit unread, I decided the answer to this impending scenario was a trip to the library.

This is what I brought home (and why):

  • The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence — This was on my radar, but I saw it on someone’s favorite books of the year list last week and I thought it might help pull me out of my reading funk.
  • Egghead by Bo Burnham (with drawings by Chance Bone) — A finalist in the GoodReads reader’s choice awards. It sounded like it might be a sort of Shel Silverstein for adults.
  • William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher — Because I am a child of the ’80s and because it’s also a finalist in the GoodReads awards.
  • Out of the Easy by Ruth Sepetys — Another GoodReads finalist, this was on my radar, particularly because I thought New Orleans would make an ideal location for a mystery novel when I was there last year.
  • Dog Songs by Mary Oliver — Because she’s one of my favorite poets and because there’s not an audio version of it on Overdrive, which seems like an excellent way to have an at-home poetry reading.
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion — Another GoodReads finalist and another title on a best-of list, this one caught my eye in part because of the cover design. Also, Matthew Quick blurbed it, which seems like a decent endorsement.
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger — The first book in a middle grade series that appeared a couple years back, this one has been on my to-be-read list for a while. Plus, during the National Book Festival, the woman who took me up on my tshirt’s challenge to guess what I was reading said this was the last book she’d read.
  • The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky — This has been on my TBR list for a while, and I put off seeing the movie because I hadn’t yet read the book.
  • Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen — I went to the library seeking M.C. Beaton, but once I was there, she didn’t appeal. Bowen’s first series about Constable Evan Evans is not dissimilar from Beaton’s Macbeth series and this, the first book of her third series, also has gotten good reviews.
  • Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware — An impulse pick-up. I’ve heard good things about Ware’s work, but haven’t sampled it myself. This is a doorstop of a graphic novel, but one with a good reputation.
  • Johnny Hiro by Fred Chao — He was a random author whose session I attended during the National Book Festival and I’ve been meaning to give his food worker-cum-superhero graphic novel series a shot.

This joins Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt, who wrote some of my favorite books as a kid, which I borrowed last week on a whim. The New York Times Book Review liked her new book, but doubted whether its intended audience would, so I decided to assess that myself.

(Thanks to Amanda for the prompt, even if I’m writing about it on the wrong day.)

Category: books. There is/are 2 Comments.

November 20, 2013

yarning along: mid-november
posted by soe 3:11 am

I wrote last week that nothing had been capturing my fancy in either my knitting or my reading. I’m pleased to report this week is much more focused.

On the reading front, I’m listening to David Levithan read his latest novel, Two Boys Kissing. The book’s device of being narrated by the ghosts of America’s gay male AIDS victims in the form of a sort-of Greek chorus really works for me. Because of that, it feels like the first book I can recall that authentically feels like the novel of my generation. I’m only partway through the book, though, so it may be premature to say that. Either way, I will probably need to obtain a print copy at some point to read read. (For me, in my own head, listening to and reading a story are two different experiences.) Since I’m listening to the book through the Overdrive app on my phone, it’s not pictured here.


On the knitting front, I pulled out a bunch of skeins of yarn on Saturday and wound several of them, including these two skeins of stripey Christmas yarn. I think one will be fingerless mitts and the other socks, but it may turn out that both will become socks. A swatch (read: failed start to a project) showed I wanted US1 needles, rather than US1.5, so that’s what I’m knitting with for the red and green cuff. Self-striping yarn has been scientifically proven* to be the fastest thing you can knit, so I’m hopeful these will be done in short order. (That bottom heap of yarn in the bowl is my Éclair shawl, which is nearing the 2/3-completed mark.)

*To my knowledge, this has not really been studied scientifically.

(Yarning along with Ginny.)

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

November 19, 2013

seeking solace
posted by soe 3:44 am

I am an unabashed night owl. While you are lying in bed, slumbering soundly or frolicking through dreamland, I am awake. Most nights, I keep the watch, surrendering to sleep as others start to rise.

That’s not really the right way to say that. That makes it sound like I dislike sleep. I don’t. In fact, I quite enjoy it. But I prefer it during the morning hours, a period of time I don’t fully understand the point of otherwise.

I have always been this way. I can think back to being small and hearing my parents go to bed. Not all the time, but not just the once and not just, as seems to be a common occurrence, at Christmas (although my parents will tell you I had more difficulty on that night than others remaining in my bed). Early on, my parents attempted to address my insomnia with the radio: You don’t have to go to sleep, but you do have to stay in bed. We’ll leave the radio on to keep you company. I suspect this advice is in the parent handbook. I’m pretty sure its hoped-for result is a child who drifts off to sleep listening to quiet music. Instead, it just meant I listened to a surprisingly broad array of nighttime programming — baseball, tv shows, pop music, classical music, evangelical talk shows…

As a teenager, I started pulling all-nighters. Sometimes there was an academic purpose — a test to study for or a paper I needed to finish — but just as often it was just because I enjoyed it. The fact that my room was on the back of the house and my light couldn’t be seen from my folks’ room probably had something to do with my ability to pull off as many off as I did.

College was the perfect time for me, with nearly everyone I knew awake until the wee smalls and usually another hallmate or two with whom to companionably share the pre-dawn hours. Nearly all the sunrises I’ve seen have come at the end of my day, rather than at its start.

People regularly give me (and, frankly, every other night owl) the advice to go to bed early. They offer remedies. They proffer tips. They scold. They cajole. They dangle before us all the wonderful things we can do with those accursed mornings if only we’d get up earlier. But what they don’t do is understand: I love the night.

I love its quiet, even when I choose to fill it with tv, music, a podcast, or an audiobook. I love that it gives me space to expand into it. Living in the city is hard. There are always people around, sharing your commute, your workspace, your elevator, your cramped apartment. You can use headphones to reclaim some of that space, but, just as on an airplane, a really annoying nuisance will find its way to worm its way into your consciousness. The night offers me space to think, to hear my own voices, rather than the cacophony of the thousands around me.

I also love going out into night. Some people find the darkness and the lack of crowds off-putting or even frightening. I find it invigorating. I can find myself out in all that space, in the same way that the ocean re-centers me. I even like the people you encounter in the middle of the night. (I’m not stupid: I remain vigilant about my surroundings and those who share them with me, and I exercise more caution than I would during the day or when others are around.) But the people you find in late-night coffeehouses and working the cash registers of the graveyard shift are friendlier, in a quiet sort of way, than they are when the sun is out. Maybe it’s because they, too, feel more like themselves in the night. Maybe we recognize kindred spirits.

Perhaps we all find our inner peace when the outside lights turn off.

Art All Night DC party at 25 for 25

(Thanks to Amanda for the prompt.)

Category: life -- uncategorized. There is/are 6 Comments.