29 February 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Shiny

I seem to have a thing for the shiny. Beautiful rotary motors, whimsical stainless steel trees, airplanes with polished aluminum skins - these are just a few of the glittery silvery pictures that I took in Washington DC last week.

27 February 2012

Just Who Is Coming To Dinner Anyway?

I was totally channeling my mother this morning when I ripped a scrap out of the newspaper, sputtering. She'd have done the same, and circled the offending bit in red pen, and left it for me to read the next time I visited.

I'm just sharing it with you.

(And yes, I checked.  The oh-so-egregious error was fixed in the on-line edition of the Times.)

26 February 2012

February Break

Home again, home again.

We left Tuesday, and came home last night after four nights in Washington, DC and driving through seven states to get there and back.

[New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. West Virginia was not strictly necessary, but we left DC and went to the Dulles branch of Air and Space and ended up in Middleburg for lunch and then up 81 and you know how it is.]

Other than the hotel reservation, and a spot on a White House tour at 7:30 one morning, we had no plans. It's a good thing we didn't have any plans, because our Friday would have been totally FUBAR by the fact that our Capital tour was aborted by an "incident" - not midway through, we were asked to leave. So we detoured over to the Library of Congress for an hour, and got back to the Capital just as they were resuming tours.  The words "white powder" were heard. Who knows? When we asked the guard at the x-ray station what had happened, he said "just stuff". Perfect answer.

[My Danskos set off every single metal detector. Every one of them. At least they're easy to slip on and off.]

The hotel was ... odd. It bills itself as a luxury boutique hotel - but what it really is is eight furnished apartments. Nice, tasteful, even stylish - but with no maid service, no doorman, no lobby, no elevator, no room service, and hardly any staff. They do empty the trash daily, but they don't make the beds or straighten the towels in the bathroom. There's a kitchen with a fridge and a microwave and a coffee pot and enough dishes for two people - and a supermarket across the street, and a Starbuck's almost next door.  If you're looking for a fancy hotel with lots of amenities, this isn't it - but it was $150 a night, with a Jacuzzi and very nice sheets.

[Gas at the Exxon station in the shadow of the Watergate was $4.99 a gallon for regular. High test was $5.19. No, we didn't buy gas there, but I checked in on Foursquare just so I had an excuse to take a picture of the price sign.]

Because the hotel was a little off the beaten track - in Georgetown, a ten-minute walk up the hill from M Street - we ended up taking cabs into the middle of DC (instead of trying to find parking). Friday morning, we were picked up by a chatty older guy, who asked our daughter her name and proceeded to launch into a karaoke rendition of "Hello Dolly" using her name. Yes, a singing cabdriver. He entertained us all the way to the Capital and told us to check him out on YouTube.

[People in DC, especially the docents and volunteers and tour guides, were polite and helpful and refreshingly engaging.]

The Lego room at the Building Museum was fabulous. I loved seeing the First Ladies dresses. Little airplanes make my heart sing. Thomas Jefferson's library made my husband tell me he felt uneducated. Mount Vernon is a really nicely done historic site; when you're wandering around, there's almost no evidence of the 21st century. Arlington Cemetery is - like all of our national cemeteries - incredibly moving. The National Park Service does really good didactic literature.

[We didn't make it to the Mint because at 2:06 on Friday, I realized that the last tour was at 2:00. Oops.]

We had a few really good meals, spent some time with our niece (who's a senior in college which was part of the impetus for doing this trip this year), had dinner with a friend of mine from college, stumbled on a fine restaurant in Alexandria thanks to Yelp, stumbled on another fine restaurant in Middleburg by asking a guy on the street, and ate at a McDonald's in the middle of nowhere on the way home last night because it was ... easy.

[Actually, it was the first time I've ever had a Shamrock shake. It was like ice cold toothpaste, but kind of nice.]

Visiting in February turned out to be a good time to there. There were people everywhere, to be sure, but nothing was hugely crowded. We didn't have to wait at Mount Vernon, or at the Capital. It wasn't hard to find cabs or get dinner reservations.

[And the weather was unbelievably nice. Well, except for Friday when it poured down rain while we were ensconced in the building museum. But that doesn't count, right? We were inside for the rain.]

Yes, we had a good time. We'll have to go back - for the Spy Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Newseum, the Mint, and the Holocaust Museum. And probably some other things.

22 February 2012

Wordless Wednesday: School Break

Yes, we're in DC for a few days. Today: White House, Smithsonian Castle, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington Monument, Air and Space, American History Museum. Also, endless traffic because it was Washington's Birthday and there was a cornerstone being laid - these two things were unrelated. Tonight, my feet plan to fall off. Still to come: Archives, Building Museum, Jefferson Memorial, Mount Vernon, Arlington, Alexandria, The Capital, and I'm sure we've forgotten something terribly important.

The only reason i can remember any of this is because I am checking in ferociously on Foursquare. (I'm winning!)

Oh, and anyone have dinner suggestions?

20 February 2012

Cottage Industry

When we moved in, the house came with a (nothing wrong with it) nice but boring (brass neo-Georgian) chandelier in the dining room. I hung things off it from time to time, to make myself like it more, but when a friend emailed me the do-it-yourself plans for a fetching modern deconstructo fixture by Lindsey Adelman, I became obsessed. I kept thinking about it. I sent it to my husband. I haunted the website and coveted the fittings.

And then, my husband surprised me - totally and completely - by making it for me for Christmas. How the hell he hid the fabrication and the finished object until Christmas Eve, I'll never know.

The finding friend is in the middle of renovating an apartment, and really wanted the fixture for her new living room. So she asked whether my husband would help her make it. She bought all the bits, had them shipped to our house, and arrived this morning with (fresh, warm, NYC) bagels and the two of them set to work.

She went home happy, chandelier in hand, and I think we might should start a cottage industry. Anyone need a chandelier?

17 February 2012

Grammar Policing

Back in the day, before cell phone cameras, I would have stood on the subway sighing deeply to myself about the decline of English grammar as we know it. But in the new and improved world in which we live, I can take pictures and share my dismay with everyone.

Yes, note closely: there are two errant apostrophes: one in it's, and another in don''t.


The exclamation points might also be worth mentioning. Of the six sentences in the bubbles, five end with two exclamation points, and the sixth ends with one. Six sentences, eleven exclamation points!! I would suggest that it's a record, but my 8 year old uses a prodigious number of them in every single email she sends!!!!!!!

15 February 2012

Death and Taxes

Now that it's well after the end of last year, I mean, it is February 15th today, my thoughts have turned to death and taxes. I spent a few hours last night scanning things and printing reports, and packed them all off to the accountant. (Yeah, I know, I could probably do it myself, but I just don't trust TurboTax any more, especially since Intuit screwed over Quicken for the Mac and forced us to change to Moneydance, which might be the stupidest name for a serious program ever, but hey, it works.) As for death, I'm not planning to die anytime soon, but I do want to print my blog so I can bring it out and sharing embarrassing stories about my child with her future suitors. Or something. I'm semi-current: last summer, I printed up 2006 to 2010. And when I get home tonight, I plan to dive into Blog2Print to get 2011 done - especially because I just found a 10% off coupon - huzzah!

It's good for two days only, and expires on Thursday 2/16 at 11:59PM Eastern. If you too feel the need to print out some or all of your blog for posterity and grandchildren, go to Blog2Print and use coupon code savetenb2p - it'll get you 10% off between now and the tail end of Thursday.

Disclosure: Blog2Print didn't pay me to tell you any of this. There is, however, an affiliate link in that there url - if you click over from here and make a book there, I'll get a little referrer fee. Is that okay with you? I'll pay taxes on it next year and everything.

14 February 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

The best valentines are the unexpected, right?

I extracted all the pink/red/purple cards from the box of Pantone postcards, stickered them up into unsigned valentines, and winged them out with 32¢ in postage, because I do love to amuse myself.

13 February 2012

Eat Me!

The girl wanted to make cookies for Valentine's Day, so we did. We got flour and sugar all over the kitchen, we used six different colors and textures of decorating sugar, and four different colors of royal icing, and several icing tips, and pink and red edible markers.

I had to rein in my inner control freak, because, well, my cookies would have been tidier and far less gaudy. But I let it go, for the sake of the girl. She's ever so pleased and is taking them to school tomorrow.

But don't worry. Daddy ate the one that says "Eat Me!"

10 February 2012

Spanish Spam Salad

I am confused. Why do you suppose it is that all of the spam in my blog email account is in Spanish?


Also, do you love how when you open the spam folder in gmail, there are ads for spam related products - like spam casseroles and ginger spam salad?

Right. I'm over-thinking it. Okay then.

09 February 2012

Mock Mocha

How to make a mock mocha latte:

  • Work for an employer with a fancy Keurig machine in the kitchen.

  • Convince the office manager to stock hot chocolate pods in addition to coffees and teas.

  • Get a nice big mug.

  • Into it, make a pod of hot chocolate with 8 ounces of water.

  • Now, add a pod of the strongest, darkest coffee using 4 ounces of water. (If there's some caramel vanilla flavored coffee, use that.)

  • Add a splash of some of the milk your co-workers rescued from the school's cafeteria.

  • And enjoy a hot caffeinated mock mocha without even leaving the office!

07 February 2012

Lavender teardrops

Yesterday morning, I put on a pair of earrings, thinking nothing more than I need dangly today since my hair's pulled back. From time to time during the day, I fiddled with them, feeling the facets of the little glass drops, swinging them on their silver hooks.

Late in the afternoon, I heard that Susan had died. And all of a sudden, it came to me. I'd bought the earrings on Etsy, from a woman that Susan had blogged about, another mother with cancer. Susan was trying to help her, because that's who Susan was.

The first time I met her was at the BlogHer conference in 2008. She made me cry. My mother was in hospice care then, dying slowly of lung cancer, and Susan found exactly the right thing to say. Because that's who Susan was.

Susan gave advice freely and without sentimentality - like in this post about hair loss and hats, which inspired me to buy a Buff wrap for my mother.  She educated countless people about inflammatory breast cancer, the kind that can present without a lump. She was a rocket scientist, with a PhD in Physics. And she mothered her two little boys, and loved her husband, and lived her life with joy, because that's who Susan was.

The world is a smaller place without her.

* * * * * * * * *

If you'd like to honor Susan's memory, consider making a donation to the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Or do what her husband suggested: "Please choose to make a difference somewhere, anywhere, to anyone." Because that's what Susan did.

06 February 2012

The Week Begins

In one move, I
Push through the swinging door
Spin my chair around
Drop my bag on the seat
Slip my coat off my shoulders
Flip on the power strip
Brush past for the light switch
Turn on the computer
Another day.

02 February 2012

Tree Man

On Sunday, the girl had a friend over. And then another kid called, so she came over too. Because three kids meant that the noise level in the house went up exponentially, I took them all out to a nearby museum. Partly I went because I have a friend who had two little monotypes in a juried show, and I wanted to see her work. But I also really wanted to see the tree figures by Joseph Wheelwright. They're really cool. Full sized trees, dug up, judiciously pruned, and set back in the ground, upside-down so that the roots become hair. It'll make you look differently at the forest.