Monday, February 28, 2011


I'm not used to hearing about this type of foul weather here. It was rather routine, particularly in the summer time up north, to hear the tornado siren go off and head to the basement. But the torrential rain and hurricane force winds are very unexpected here. There is something odd going on. Maybe it reflects the mood of the country, or the city, as everyone is working to come up with a budget scenario that will actually work. The rumors are flying, and people are scared. I've seen it so many time before! I'm just happy that we have lived our lives in such a way that we can maneuver through these unexpected surprises.... if one day I come home with a pink slip, we could survive- we think! A while back, our son asked if we would all like to move together in to one big place.... I hope we never need to test that option out. On another note, the metal piece that pierced the tire last night on our way home from Georgetown was not bad enough to cause any real damage or cause a flat tire. My husband took the car in to the gas station down the street. a couple blocks away. They were very charming, and did not charge a dime. But they got a good tip in case we need them in the future.  The gas station down the street from us in our old neighborhood always acted like we owed them something. Here's one for the folks here!


We had a birthday party to go to in Georgetown this afternoon. One of my family member's hit a major milestone. The nice thing about it was all three siblings got together, along with spouses. After dinner we took a walk to the River, and then around Georgetown proper. On the corner along M street was the Georgetown cupcakes place, with a line of eager cupcake lovers cascading several blocks. We crossed the street and noticed a stretch limo and a lot of cameras. Not sure who was there, but Bill Maher passed us by on the way to where the commotion was. Interestingly enough, this is the same area that we just had lunch in after the DMV license renewal episode last week. Maybe an Oscar party? We were never able to get together in the cold country up north, so being together today was another good reason to move here. But of course, the day could not go by without some headache- we picked up a metal piece in the left rear tire. It will probably be flat by the morning.

A great evening for a stroll...we stumbled across the cupacke place

Not sure what the fuss is about....

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Driving around downtown can be confusing. It was just noted in yesterday's entry that we are able to find our way home easily by using monuments on the horizon to guide us - as lighthouses of sorts. But it is still important to have road signs that point one in the right direction.
Do I turn right or left?

Friday, February 25, 2011


The GPS system really comes in handy. But a sure sign that we are close to where we live is when we can see the monuments on the horizon. Just keep heading in that direction, and home is not far away.
A wonderful sight to see- and it means we are close to home

Thursday, February 24, 2011


The need to be efficient and cut back has reached us here in the work place. The idea of being accountable and maximizing resources has been on my radar screen since the 70's. All during my "first" career in healthcare, that lasted 30 years, we were managing productivity, looking for best practices, and monitoring outcomes. I thought I had escaped the constant conversation about budget talk when we moved here to DC and I started working for the federal government. Today we had a meeting where the likelihood of consolidation and improving processes is being tauted. I feel like I'm back where I started. Darn it! But it always made sense to me then, and it makes sense to me now. I'm not sure others feel the same way. Time will tell.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The postal service here has a lot to be desired. If our "regular" guy is not around, the mail gets delivered very late in the day- by that I mean 10PM or later, or not at all. I never heard of having to place signs on the pick up mailbox to remind the postal worker to take letters that need to be removed. Voicing a complaint to the post office rarely results in an improvement, or at least a recognition that something might be amiss. We know items are lost or not delivered, because we received late payment notifications for the cable bill. It is impossible that we are late with any payment because we always pay the bill immediately. This lousy service has prompted us to step up our on-line banking resource for auto payments and bill notifications. We simply have no confidence in the post office. We do however, have a great relationship with the UPS man. Because our family members live down the street, they happily leave items there or here, if the recipient is not home. When we do get the mail, most of it is junk anyway. If my 88 year old mother can use the Internet for email and other things, the post office needs to get with the program, or go the way of the horse and buggy whip. On the other hand, our postal service was excellent in the Midwest. Not sure why there should be a difference. And there is a lot more rain, sleet and snow there.

Not just one reminder

Four reminders to empty the mailbox-
but the mail person needs to show up first

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


It was a very busy evening in Old Town, Alexandria. As we were walking out of the restaurant on King Street, a young man staggered across our path. As he fell over in front of us, I noticed that he did not have a jacket on (it was quite cold), was wearing a wedding band, and was clutching a cell phone. After he hit the ground, my husband and I went over to see if he was okay. He was very pale and sweating. He said that his wife "S" was across the street in the restaurant, and that he had left the restaurant because he felt hot and needed to get some air. My husband put his jacket under his head to make him comfortable. I then went across the street to find "S." I asked the maitre d if she could find "S" in the restaurant after describing the situation. They could not find her, so I went back to see if my husband had learned any more details. I went back over to the restaurant and talked to another person, who obviously succeeded in finding "S." She came running over to her husband. She thought her husband had gone to the restroom, so was not concerned that he had left. Because the young man was "stable" we did not call for an ambulance, though strongly advised that "S" take her husband to the hospital. After assuring "S" that her husband was in good hands (my husband is a retired physician, and even offered to pay their bill so as not to worry them needlessly) "S" and I walked over to our car... along the way I learned from "S" that they were from Maryland and had relatives in Alexandria. Thank goodness they were not tourists! I told "S" where I worked and that we lived on Capitol Hill. "S" and I then drove back to the scene, picked up the "boys," and drove "S" and her husband to their car, which was parked several blocks away. We gave him some candy, thinking he was hypoglycemic, and escorted them to their car. It's always good to have candy in the car! "S" asked for our names, and we said goodbye. My husband told me that the young man and his wife were out having dinner, away from their 4 children. One teaches physics, the other is a special ed teacher. The incident reminded me of another unexpected situation in our old neighborhood. After seeing a play on a Sunday afternoon, my husband and I witnessed a man collapse in the middle of a downtown street, and immediately performed CPR until an ambulance arrived. The elderly gentleman was moved by ambulance to a hospital, and we were told that he had survived the incident. Most people who saw the young man that evening thought he was drunk, when in reality, he was quite sick. We were glad we did not pass him by, and could be of some help.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I never had this day off working in the private sector. It makes for a nice three day weekend. Thanks George! We've been told that the mules that pull the canal boats in Georgetown vacation on the Mount Vernon property over the winter months. Mount Vernon is a great place to visit any time of the year.
Mount Vernon is just a few minutes away

Sunday, February 20, 2011


It is not unusual to see magnificent horses with police riders strategically placed along the mall, particularly during major events or high tourist season times. It may be a little more unusual to see where the horses may be found while "off duty."
Seems reasonable enough

But under the freeway and next to the train track?

Saturday, February 19, 2011


It appears that the sidewalks of Capitol Hill are a never ending flea market. Just within the last two month, we have come across a couch, 2 mattresses, another mattress along the GW parkway, and now a headboard. Maybe we could put together a whole bedroom suite by summer. Keep your eyes peeled!
Would you like a headboard to go along with that mattress?

Friday, February 18, 2011


We made sure we got to Georgetown before noon so we could get the driver's license renewed. It has to be done in person, rather than on line, because of the medical documentation required. We parked in the garage below the mall on M street, because the DMV is in the basement there, of all places. There is a guard who directs you to the official waiting line, and of course, someone always ignores the process and goes right to the front desk without standing in line and waiting his turn. Why should everyone follow rules? There are always exceptions. Thank goodness a lot of people take advantage of using online options when they apply, or the place would have been a zoo. We got our turn, and were given a number - took a seat and waited to be called. It did seem reasonably "orderly." When our number was called, we handed the documents to the clerk. She greeted us with a snarl, and grunted at us the whole time. She asked to see a passport, which my husband did not bring. She glared at him, then said, "it doesn't matter.".... okay, then why did you ask for it? I think she heard an accent and thought he was an illegal immigrant or something.... I had suggested to my husband that we should bring everything PLUS the kitchen sink before we left to avoid this uncomfortable situation. In the end, a new picture was taken, $44.00 was exchanged, and the ordeal was complete. Afterwards, we walked along M street (the tourist trap) and went down by the canal and had lunch. It was a beautiful day today except for $44.00 for the license RENEWAL+ $13.00 for parking + $55.00 for lunch = $112.00. I'm not sure any if it is worth that price. I really wanted to get home so I could whack the garden back before it snows again next week. Plus, I like my neighborhood so much more.
The DMV is in the basement of the Georgetown mall

I can see why this sign is necessary given the exchange we had
How do you serve two people at one counter?

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Once someone turns 70, things change. You don't automatically get your driver's license renewed. And you need to go in person to the station. Last week we were at the eye doctor and had the documentation required for the driver's license completed. Right after that, we drove over to the medical doctor's office to have the medical section completed. But we did not have an appointment, and just needed to drop it off. It was with great hesitation that we left the document there for the doctor to complete, because we have not had very good luck with this place. The front desk staff have not had a lot of customer service training.  Both my husband and I can actually be critical about this stuff because health care was our occupation prior to moving here. They said it would take 5-7 days. When my husband walked over this morning to check if it was ready, not only was it ready, but he was greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm. We thought for sure it would have been lost, or not ready. In the old neighborhood, we were both used to being treated with great kindness and smiles (because everyone knew us at the clinic). It felt like home today. We are, however, both dreading the trip to the motor vehicle location, since this renewal can't be done on-line. The place is in Georgetown, no metro, and awful parking. In the old neighborhood, it was down the street, ample parking, and typically fast in and out.
It's hell getting old

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Working in a very big government building has it's advantages and disadvantages. Living 2 blocks away makes it even better. In order to stay "fit," I never take the elevator, always take the stairs, and plan a vigorous walk in the afternoon. Sitting at a desk, in an office without windows is like being in jail. So, when  3 PM comes around, I get out the IPhone, turn on the music, put on the walking shoes, and travel 0.2 miles per floor X 8 floors, which ends up being about 1.5 miles. Not bad, and it is about the same distance as walking to and from work the the morning and evening, and for lunch in the afternoon. The additional benefit is that it can be done all year 'round, and there are other interesting paths that can be taken, all under cover.
The long, un-winding road that equals a city block

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The mattress saga continues- to the point where 2 people have forwarded pictures of more mattresses floating around the neighborhood. What makes it even funnier is that it is the same mattress from 2 different angles. We used to have junk picked up in the old neighborhood- I think two times a year you could call the city and let them know there was stuff on the curb. There was also the junk disposal place that you could drive stuff to any time. All you needed to do was show your driver's license. But a lot of people don't have vehicles to cart stuff off in and don't want to pay a fee for somene to come and get it. So, ultimately, it appears there will always be some place in the neighborhood for someone to take a snooze or enjoy the view. Is this why there are so many mattress ads on TV?
Yesterday it was standing tall and proud
Today it looks like someone put it to good use ...
what a deal- a carpet too!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


While driving home along the George Washington Parkway, we were stunned to see what appeared to be the same mattress - the one that had been decorating our sidewalk over the last month - on the side of the road. Either someone had lost it as it flew through the air from the back of a truck and didn't know it happened, and/or someone really needed a free piece of furniture. My husband tells me that when he first moved from overseas to the Midwest, he was traveling from one city to another in an uncovered vehicle full of furniture and housewares. Several people were making gestures at him as he drove, and he thought they were being friendly- waving and saying hello. What they were really trying to tell him was that he should pull his vehicle over because he had lost several pieces of bedding along the freeway. There is a law against traveling on the freeway in an uncovered truck full of junk- doesn't look like every one pays attention to it no matter where you live.
The mattress saga continues......

Saturday, February 12, 2011


We drove past the airport on the way to Alexandria this afternoon. It only takes about 15 minutes to reach the airport, when there is no traffic or construction. It also took about 15 minutes to get to the old neighborhood airport, and the only incident that could cause a delay was a train track - and I think that is now avoidable because of a new overpass. Even though the time to get from the house to the airport is the same, the scenery in between is certainly different. This airport is good for domestic travel only. If you are taking an international flight, that is another story.
On a good day it takes only 15 minutes from home to airport

Friday, February 11, 2011


I was enjoying the view from the cafeteria when two workers appeared.
There are flower pots on the top floor that require attention. One
worker was pushing the water container and the other was actually
doing the watering. It is not uncommon to see two people doing the
work of one....but I'm sure there must be a really good reason for it.
If you know what it might be, please let me know.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


We've been searching for another eye doctor since we moved. We like the one we have, who was recommended to us, but the time it takes to get to the office is not only long, but unpredictable. It's only about 3 miles away, but it takes almost an hour to get there. It's not on the metro line, so we have to drive. Early morning is very difficult because of rush hour, so we try to make the first appointment after lunch. The problem is, is that the physician office building is located right next to a major medical center, PLUS the Children's Hospital, PLUS the VA grounds. It reminds me of the major medical center in our old neighborhood that we intentionally avoided, unless it was needed for a unique issue. We still want to find someone in the neighborhood, and need to try a little harder. If you have nothing else to do, and want to spend time  going to and from one point to another - in traffic with major construction delays - this is the place for you!
A huge medical center campus-
a great place for trauma & emergency care

It's only 3 miles away but takes an hour to get there

But an interesting ride along the way


Today we had an opportunity to go to a "free" public lecture. There are usually several that we attend throughout the year. The nice thing about it is all we had to do was casually walk over to it, and enjoy the views along the way. I do remember going to seminars and lectures "up North," but none were housed in such magnificent buildings as these! A lot of the entertainment in the city is free, and there is a lot to choose from. Living so close to all of it makes the experience even nicer.
The most beautiful building in the city

This really is a room with a view!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The mattress that was first standing and then laying on the sidewalk behind our house next to the bus stop has disappeared! (Please refer to "Another Day in Paradise" and "The Mattress Saga" entries from  January '11).  I thought the bedding would be left on the street at least one month before it vanished. I'm really impressed that someone else thought it was an eye sore too. On another note, "It'll Reach Out and Grab You" has also bit the dust. Gee, I didn't know I had such influence over things like this.

I think it's gonna grow back!

Around the corner were the remains of the day...RIP


Since we moved here, construction has been going on across the street, and it was supposed to be completed LAST October. The latest FINAL projected due date is March 2011. This we learned after I not only badgered the company responsible for this project, but also the Councilman's Office, to try and find out when we would get our lives back. On top of that, the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) has been doing egress work all along the streets we frequent, further limiting the tight parking spaces and making it difficult to travel, by car or on foot, in one straight line to maneuver two blocks. At least what looks to be a sidewalk is beginning to take shape between here and work. When we will get to use it is anyone's guess. I never heard of anything taking so long back home, with absolutely no accountability.....I think the pyramids were built in less time.

The person who makes these signs hit a goldmine- they are everywhere

Dig, re-dig, and dig again- the same place over and over!

A room with a view- and I'm getting very tired of this one

Sunday, February 6, 2011


My faith in mankind has been restored, at least for today. We received an email from a neighbor in the building notifying us that he thought he had seen a package with our name on it, but noticed a few minutes later that it had disappeared. He was concerned, because he thought we were out of town and was just checking in with us to let us know. Luckily, it did turn up. This is the same neighbor who frequently monitors that the entry doors are closed because very careless people never bother to see that the door not only closes but also shuts behind them. These half open doors make it very convenient for critters (and other unwanted pests of the human kind) easy access to the building. It's nice to know there are still people out there who are just as concerned as we are about the little things in life. We had such wonderful neighbors in our old neighborhood and have maintained that relationship. It's not something that should ever be taken for granted. Good neighbors can be very hard to come by.
Sometimes it really is nice to know your neighbors

Saturday, February 5, 2011


After a few layers of salt and grime, the car needed to get some attention. After all, we want this vehicle to last as long as possible since it sits on the street instead of in a cozy garage. It's difficult to vacuum the interior of the car because there is no driveway or electric outlet nearby, and we no longer have the "car stuff," like a battery operated hand vacuum, that we used to keep in the garage. So we drove over to the neighborhood car wash, where both the interior and exterior is cleaned. There were at least 6 people wiping the newly washed car down at the end of the production line, and they did a nice enough job drying it off and cleaning the interior windows, vacuuming, and quickly dusting whatever could be dusted in one pass. But the car seemed to look more sparkly and got better attention whenever we took it to the full service car wash back home. Maybe they just knew us better, or maybe they had stricter guidelines and quality controls.
One thing stays the same- it always rains the next day

Friday, February 4, 2011


I read a story today about the vanishing job markets of certain professions. These jobs included seamstresses, office support personnel, jugglers, magicians, and postal workers. For sentimental reasons, I've been wanting to have a pair of 30 year old earring posts cut back so I could wear them all the time without sticking me in the head. I never was much of a jewelry fan, which has saved our household an untold amount of money! I think the jewelry store owners and sales staff could be added to the list of soon to be extinct professions. First of all, it was very hard to even remember where a jewelry store was located in the neighborhood. We went to Alexandria, and found a shop next to a frequent lunch stop. The average age of the sales staff working in it were in their 7th decade, and the customers (like me) were at least in their fifth. Fewer and fewer folks wear watches, or need them repaired. Nevertheless, the place looked old, archaic, and out of place. Kinda reminded me of the buggy whip owner who really hated the idea of seeing the automobile. The place in our old neighborhood looked just like this one. I wonder if it is still open? I suppose there will always be the need for engagement rings... but what was that recent story about the future of marriage?

My soon to be one and only pair of earrings


Growing up, we were taught to plan out and prepare our wardrobe for the next day, and this approach to life has stayed with me to this day. Every night, we listen to the weather report, or check the internet to have an idea what the next day will supposedly bring. Accordingly, adjustments are made to the clothing choices based on the forecasted temperature and precipitation.  I NEVER think the next day will be a carbon copy of the day before, especially because of the extreme variability in the Midwest weather as well as here. (OK, -10 degrees feels about the same as 0). Yesterday was unusually sunny and warm by mid afternoon, a sharp contrast to the wintry ice and snow mix from last week, and winter temps expected to arrive again this week. There were several purple faced and blue fingered individuals scurrying to work this morning who thought it was still 60 degrees outside. I particularly love the short skirted, no stockings, 3 inch heeled House staff. They are definitely making an impression! And, it's even more outlandish, or pathetic, when it's raining. I always carry an umbrella, and it has come in handy on many occasions. If I'm planning to wear heels, I sure don't wear them on these sidewalks - they are carried and a pair of "safe" shoes are worn. My husband always asks why my handbag is so heavy. It's funny that whenever he asks for something- VOILA- it appears!
Keep the umbrella handy! Just in case....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Every month the community magazine "Hill Rag" is published. It gives the neighbors an opportunity to read about upcoming and past events, learn about real estate values and new restaurants, etc. Our grandson's pictures are oftentimes in it because there are always stories about the Hill schools. My husband usually picks up the latest copy on his way home from his daily walk. I generally read most things "on line;" however, for this publication an exception is made. We do peruse it, but I really enjoy the cover art, which is displayed and appreciated in our family room. The best thing about it is that it is free, lovely, for any taste, and changes every month. I've known people who actually mat and frame the art.

Cover art for every taste

Beautiful, whimsical, and free!

A few of our favorite things

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I have a habit of eating an apple a day. The symmetry and definition of the "leaves" and the sharp color contrasts on this one today made me think of spring! It really stands out on a dreary day like today.

Nature at it's best- couldn't paint something this pretty


Usually it is very quiet in the neighborhood and in the building, especially on the weekends. We can sit on the patio in the summer and it is sometimes hard to believe that we are living in an urban sound scape because it is so very peaceful. But this weekend was indeed an exception. The fire alarm was triggered on Friday night, and turned off by a person who has a key; it sounded again on Saturday night, and reset by a person who has a key; and it went off again on Sunday night, and remained on all night through to the next day in to the afternoon. It may be that we are the only ones who hear the shrill noise, report it, and try to have it addressed.... By this evening, we were given a key to reset it ourselves until a technician fixes the obvious malfunction. I can't believe that others do not hear it (?) or maybe they do and choose to ignore it. Community living can be interesting. When we walked out of the building this morning, the noise continued outside and my ears were now on overload- the construction across the street has been going on for the last 4 years, the emergency vehicles are typically racing by, and then the door to the apartment was squeaking. At least one of these items I do have some control over. The hinges got a squirt of WD40 this evening, and I was very happy! Speaking of noise pollution, there is an escalator directly above my office. Whenever someone walks in, they are astounded by the racket. I, on the other hand, have grown accustomed to it. Is this why my ears are ringing all the time?
Please give us the key!
We'd be happy to reset the darn thing.