sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 3, 2022


circling
posted by soe 1:04 am

D.C. is an interesting place, because while there is an airport just over the river, less than five miles away from my apartment, there’s also generally a no-fly zone over much of the city. This means it’s rare we see airplanes overhead (and it can cause panic when they do occasionally have to approach over the city because of the wind).

But we do have periods when we have helicopters circling overhead at low altitudes. Inaugurations, for instance. Massive protests. Increased times of security threats. For much of Trump’s presidency, it seemed like he had helicopters keeping an eye on things. (That may be an exaggeration, but he definitely had more than Obama or W or Biden.)

And other times, like tonight, you just have to turn to Twitter to ask if anyone knows. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and it’ll be someone you’re friends with info. But other times, you just have to turn to the Twitter accounts that specialize in local helicopter circling or copter spotting in the hopes that info will let you focus on other things, such as sleep.

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October 4, 2022


top ten favorite bookstores of d.c.
posted by soe 1:55 am

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is to share ten of our favorite bookstores.

I’m lucky enough to live in D.C., where we have a ton of great indie bookshops, so I thought I’d share my favorites of those with you:

  1. Politics and Prose: With three locations around the city and daily author visits, this is the first place I’d recommend visiting, particularly their original and largest location (which boasts a cafe). They have a great kids’ room, the broadest nonfiction section of any store in D.C., and a music section. Plus, they have a whole room dedicated to remainders, and who can resist that?
  2. Bridge Street Books: This narrow townhouse bookstore in Georgetown often gets overlooked, but it’s our oldest indie (42!) and now a nonprofit. If you’re looking for philosophy or poetry, I’d definitely stop here first.
  3. East City Bookshop: Recently expanded, East City takes pride in its calling as a neighborhood bookstore for the residents of Capitol Hill. They’ve got a vibrant book club scene, great pre-order opportunities, and a well-stocked kids’ book section. Plus, they celebrate the dogs of the neighborhood in a nook next to the door.
  4. Capitol Hill Books: If you were going to imagine a used bookstore, what would you envision? Lots of space, with books alluringly arranged to catch your eye? If so, Capitol Hill Books is not for you. If, however, you said, books jammed onto every surface of the three floors of a townhouse imaginable, including the restroom windowsill (although no longer the stairs), with curmudgeonly owners, its own music album, and the sharpest-fingered Twitter account in the District, this is the place for you. (Since the start of the pandemic, they also sell a selection of new books and offer mystery book bundles, but I think they’ve put their monthly patio happy hours on hiatus.)
  5. Loyalty Bookstore: I loved this neighborhood bookstore under its original owner (as Upshur Street Books) and I love it even more in its current iteration, with its Black- and Queer-owned identity front and center. I haven’t visited their Silver Spring, Maryland, location yet, but I understand it has an even broader selection than its Petworth shop. Plus, if you want anti-goliath bookstore swag, they’ve got you covered.
  6. Second Story Books: Dupont Circle’s used bookshop is known for their corner location, antiques, window displays, and the trolleys of used books they put out on nice days to lure customers in. If you were looking for recent ARCs being sold on the not-so-down-low, this is where I’d send you. Also, I once spent a pleasant rainy afternoon alphabetizing their middle grade and YA shelves without anyone asking what I was doing, which means you’ll be free to browse as long as you’d like.
  7. Solid State Books: Another of our community bookshops, Solid State is now integral to the H Street, N.E., neighborhood and its residents. This is a shop I’d send you to particularly if you were looking for kids books or literary gifts and the only one accessible by streetcar. Plus, they have a cafe, so you can buy a book and a drink and spend the afternoon reading away without having to venture further afield if you don’t want to.
  8. MahoganyBooks: Black family-owned, this bookstore currently sports two locations (its original in Anacostia and now at National Harbor for the tourists) and will soon open a spot at National Airport for travelers. This is a small, but mighty community shop, with a robust calendar of author events and a knowledgeable staff. I visited on my birthday the year they opened, and they hand-sold me a book of poetry and then, when the author (Elizabeth Acevedo, before she was so well known) stopped in before I’d left the building, asked her to sign my copy for me.
  9. Sankofa Video, Books & Cafe: Sankofa is the oldest of D.C.’s Black-owned bookstores and it is a pillar of lower Georgia Avenue. Its cafe does brisk business on weekends and if you’re on the hunt for books by Black authors or on Black history or culture, I’d tell you to start here.
  10. Kramers: This is probably the indie bookstore best known by tourists to D.C., which, along with its pandemic-reduced hours, is the only reason my neighborhood shop falls at the bottom of my list. You’ll always find the hottest books here, and their window displays draw folks in. Plus, their bar and restaurant are packed on weekends. I am sad that they got rid of their pint glasses, which had a book-themed version of the D.C. flag on them, and which I perennially included in literary-themed packages, but they will deliver books locally within the hour, which is good for those who live more than four blocks away. (They also offer haircuts, which just seems weird.)

And, no, these aren’t the only bookshops in D.C. We’ve got at least nine more that I can think of off the top of my head, and I might be missing a couple.

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July 27, 2022


ten things i still want to do this summer
posted by soe 1:02 am

There’s still another full month of meteorological summer and nearly two of the official summer season. Here are ten things I think I can still cram in:

  • Kayak on the C&O
  • Explore Theodore Roosevelt Island
  • Get back to the seashore (honestly! not since April!)
  • Watch an outdoor movie
  • Catch a concert at Wolf Trap or Merriweather Post or another outdoor venue
  • Check out the indie scoop shops in D.C. I haven’t visited
  • Swim in a lake
  • Go to Kenilworth Aquatic Garden, the Arboretum, or Congressional Cemetery
  • Find one of the boundary stones
  • Try a new-to-me streetery/patio

What’s still on your summer bucket list?

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July 19, 2022


just checking in
posted by soe 1:00 am

Wanted to let you all know I’m still alive, but that it’s been a busy couple days and I probably won’t slow down until my layover in Chicago on Wednesday morning.

In the meantime, here’s some of what I’ve been up to:

Saturday Evening Rainbow

Saturday night plans were rained out, but I got a rainbow and a conversation with Karen instead. More than a fair trade, I think.

National Ice Cream Day

Sunday, Rudi came home. We celebrated National Ice Cream Day with cones from Larry’s.

Fort Reno Sunset

Tonight, the 2022 season of the Fort Reno concert series kicked off. Rain threatened, but the organizers are more than 50 years into this thing and they know enough to wait it out. We ended up with a nearly perfect night.

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April 6, 2022


cherry trees at night
posted by soe 1:33 am

Cherry Tree at Night

I mentioned last week that we’d stopped by Hains Point one night to see the blossoms as we were driving back from Virginia.

Cherry Blossoms at Night

Going at night made it less obvious that the trees were past peak-flowering — leaves and blooms blended in the more monochromatic light — but you also lost the lovely pinks that draw people to them in the first place.

I’m glad that we saw the blossoms in any format this year and seeing the cherry trees at night had been a bucket list item. But as with many things you look forward to for a long time (like room service), it pales in comparison to the imagination. Next year, I’ll be back in the daylight.

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March 30, 2022


flowering trees in dupont
posted by soe 1:24 am

Cherry Blossoms

I didn’t make it down to the Tidal Basin this year for peak bloom season, which was early last week. While I still might go down to Hains Point, where they have a better distribution of early- and late-blooming trees, I did admire the flowering trees in my own neighborhood. While I put on Flickr that these blooms were cherries, they might, in fact, be crabapples.

Peach Blossoms

These are definitely peach flowers, because eventually this tree, located in the yard of the Colombian ambassador, grows fruit.

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