Saturday, April 30, 2011

It Can Happen To Anyone

When we first moved here, we got a ticket for parking in a residential area zone in Arlington. You could say we didn't know any better.  In our neighborhood, we usually notice the signs that are routinely posted on the tree trunks that advise the person trying to park to stay away from a certain area for a specific period of time. The time allocation is usually related to someone moving and they need the curb space for the moving van. One of the disadvantages of not using the car every day is that these sorts of signs can pop up out of no where. We got in the car and noticed that we had a big fat ticket sitting on our windshield that had been there already for a couple of days. The city does make it very easy to pay the fine on line. This one was for $50.00! Now we need to make it a habit to check the car and where it is parked every day to make sure this does not happen again. We never had to worry about this in our old suburban neighborhood that had plenty of street parking, that we never needed. 
We usually notice these signs

But obviously missed this one

Don't think there is any way out of it

Friday, April 29, 2011

Miracles Can Happen

It only took at least 4 attempts to get attention around this issue and today it finally paid off. We have been at this since April 6. I made two on line requests, and responded to a customer satisfaction survey about the job that was never done. We also sent a notice and link to all our neighbors informing them that city services can be requested by anyone! (not just us). So, because the tall grass is immediately adjacent to someone else's house, they called or requested service too. In these situations I say, the more the merrier. Although the city told her it would be done the following day, it obviously was not. Then finally today, when we were walking home, I noticed and heard the lawn mower in action. What a pleasant surprise! It's difficult to have to rely on someone else for just about anything here. If we ever had lawn service at our old place, you better believe those folks always showed up when they said they would.
Caught in the act- he even used the weed whacker

It's not even a City truck

Now you can see the house- finally!

A short- cut walking path has been made across the "field."
Across the street is the dumspter that has been there 5 years. One of these days...

Take Your Child To Work Day

There was a big gathering today for Take Your Child to Work Day. I don't recall having this special day at the previous work place up North. I'm not sure what a pre-schooler learns from such an occasion, nor quite understand how it replaces a school day. Hopefully, it turns out being worth while for some folks? Or is it a good day for babysitting?
A day without school

One lucky kid with his Mom

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Architect Of The Capitol

While walking past the botanic garden, the truck was being unloaded. It was full of cactus plants that we assume were going to be planted somewhere in the gardens. When one thinks of the Architect of the Capitol, buildings usually come to mind. But they are also responsible for all the beautiful gardens around the Capitol Hill complex, as well as the power plant down the street from us. And all those other "more recognized" magnificent buildings. I could use a few tips during the planting season!
Caught in the act

A common sight

We know where the name comes from

New plants arriving - final destination unknown

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bicycle Built For Four?

As was mentioned earlier this week, there are several ways to get around town. I forgot to mention by bicycle. Along the Mall are eager drivers waiting to haul a couple passengers short distances. It's a great idea for anyone who can't walk, but also an option once the day gets long and one can't go another step. We were quite amazed the other day when an entire family hailed the "cab" to take them down to the Capitol from the Smithsonian Castle and were curious to see how they would all fit in to the vehicle meant for two passengers. We were certain the the teenaged young man was thouroughly embarrassed that the idea was even considered, and that he ended up sitting on his father's lap. We were surprised they all fit in and that the driver had no problem moving the vehicle towards the destination.
How embarrassing! But what a nice break....there are actually 4 family members-
a child on each lap

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Birthday!

It's another birthday in the family which means another contribution to a grandson's college fund. It doesn't matter whose birthday it is (Mom, Dad, son), the gift stays the same. This year is an exception though, because our wonderful son is not in town for his birthday this year. So, he's getting 4 packages of nonsense spaced out little by little with our love and warmest regards!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

How About A Ride?

There are many ways to get around the city. Our favorite is by foot, followed by car, and if necessary, by cab. For most visitors though, there are many options available when one wants to get the lay of the land or take a load off your feet. I always liked the horse rides in Savannah and Charleston, or even New Orleans- one time at Versailles. When we came to visit the city 25+ years ago, we took a bus tour in the evening, and it was a delight to see the city and sights at dusk. Over the years, we always enjoyed a personal tour of the town when we visited with our family members who live here. And now, when we have guests, we always make sure to take them on a personal LIT tour.

Trying to look like San Fancisco

A great view from the top- but may be more comfortable down below?

A great way to get around

All the way from Alexandria

You can't miss seeing this one from a mile away

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Job Well Done

A request for service was sent to the City on April 6 to have the grass cut on the corner. Here is the message that was received today about this request:

The District of Columbia government is pleased to inform you that your service request for Grass & Weeds Mowing at X STREET SE AND X AVENUE, WASHINGTON, with tracking number 11-00097600 has been completed.  We would like to invite you to complete a Customer Satisfaction Survey to tell us about your service experience.  Please click the link below and you will be rerouted to the DC.GOV website where your input regarding service will help us improve service delivery to our city residents and visitors.  Thank you for contacting the District of Columbia government.

Great Job!

If I had a lawn mower I would do it myself.
Our old neighborhood NEVER looked like this.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Two Trees In One

This is actually one tree...but it has both pink and white blossoms. I'm sure I learned how this may have come about in a biology/botany class. But I neither had the mind nor the desire to understand how it really works. But I really appreciate that it does!
What's behind this splendid combination?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Invitation From...

It's not every day that I receive an invitation from the Librarian of Congress. Because I particpated in the leadership development program, I get to attend the graduation in May. I had a "fellow" work with me over the last several months. He was from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Now I have a contact with him, and his specialty is social security. I had an opportunity to see the Librarian at the  Capitol Visitor Center/Library tunnel connection project, and have seen him at a few events since, and in the hallway. You never know who you might run in to, which makes for an interesting day.
No reason not to attend!

The Old Naval Hospital

At the invitation of a friend and colleague, we went to a lecture about the Old Naval Hospital tonight. It is being restored to it's former grandeur, as far as a hospital goes. It has an interesting history, and will once again become a place for folks to gather and share as a community center. It really was dilapidated when we moved here (it looked like the old house Mary wanted George to buy in "It's A Wonderful Life"), and has become a very striking structure indeed. Going to the lecture reminded me of attending a Civil War Round Table meeting, as a lot of the focus was it's role during (actually AFTER) the Civil War. It also is interesting to note that although it has been a 10 year project to raise the funds, etc, it has actually been renovated in about a year or two, whereas the building across the street from us is taking over 5 years. 
The original structure - it could house ~ 100 patients

Located a few blocks from the Navy Yard

It looks so much better today!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cut The Grass Please!

On April 6, I wrote a request for services to the City about cutting the grass on the corner. I do this every year- in fact, several times over the grass cutting months. Let's wait to see how long it will take to get it done. They usually send a receipt when it is completed. The grass is already over a foot high, and now there are tire treads in it- probably a vehicle skid on to it from the slippery streets from the rain last week, or one of many of the work trucks around here just decided to back up on the  lawn and make a mess.

This is the message I received when the request was submitted on April 6:

"Thank you for reporting your city services needs. Your service request for Grass & Weeds Mowing at E STREET AND "X", WASHINGTON, has been added to the service request tracking system and assigned the unique service request number 11-00097600. This number is the official reference number for your service request if you need to inquire about it in the future. It can be used in conjunction with your E-mail address to query the latest available status via the Internet.
Please click on the following link to check the status of service request number 11-00097600."

So I checked the status of the item by following the link and this is what I got:

"The information provided does not match any service request records. Please verify your entry"

Why am I not surprised?

Let's see if it reaches 2 feet before someone else notices

A little further and this vehicle would have hit the house

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Use Your Imagination

We took a ride on the George Washington Parkway to northern Virginia. We passed by Mount Vernon, Woodlawn, and Gunston Hall to Mason Neck Park. I was sure we would see at least one eagle along the way. The eagle nest right outside Alexandria still stands, but no eagle was to be found. Right before we entered the Park, I did see one flying high above us, but was not quick enough to get his picture. Once we were on the waterfront, all we found were some blue headed birds who were very eager for a photo. The literature said that there are red fox, black bear, blue heron... we saw a few squirrels. We have been to this Park at least 4-5 times and have always come up empty-handed. Riding in the other direction on Friday along the GW Parkway, I did actually see an eagle flying along the Potomac River. The traffic was so snarled that we had time to look around. But, I have nothing to prove it. We had a lot more wildlife in our backyard up North.... deer, possum, skunks, hawks, crows, and every kind of bird. I saw a pair of cardinals by our front window last week. At least it was a beautiful day for a drive. My husband told me I owe him $4.00 for the privilege of getting in to the Park.
There are several eagle nests along the GW Parkway
We have never seen an eagle at Mason Neck Park!
It doesn't matter what time of the year
These guys were happy to pose
An eagle replacement photo
Not a good place to build a nest

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tulip Library

Yesterday was sunny and bright- today is rainy and dreary. BUT, all we had to do was take a ride around town and pass by the Tulip Library. It is located right across from the Washington Monument on Independence Avenue. We drove past it, but I couldn't resist parking along the Tidal Basin for just a minute to get up closer, in between the rain drops. Just about any variation of tulip can be found. A friend from the Midwest said that it is cloudy and maybe snow there today.... we never could plant anything in the garden until Memorial Day. It's nice to have longer Spring, Summer and Fall months!

These were hardly blooming last weekend

A great backdrop - no doubt where this is!

Along a very busy Independence Avenue
In every size, shape and color

This guy actually  picked one- shame on him!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Sky Is The Backdrop

On the way home from tomato plant shopping (which by the way, are not available yet!), we took a different route home. Because it is a Friday afternoon, EVERYONE is heading away from town and the traffic can be more awful than usual. We used to drive here from the Midwest and arrived on Thursday or Friday during rush hour. It would take a really long time to get off I-495 and on to the George Washington Parkway to Capitol Hill. Rather than taking the usual and quite scenic Rock Creek Parkway today, we decided to take River Road to Wisconsin Avenue, then straight down Massachusetts Avenue. It was such a beautiful day today, we opened the moon roof right at the time we were passing by the National Cathedral. The blue sky and puffy clouds became the backdrop for a few interesting spires and steeples along the way.
A lot of major events are held at the National Cathedral

This used to be the Iranian Embassy-
now it is an Islamic Center
Along Massachusetts Avenue

In the Neighborhood- St Peter's.
We heard Mary Surratt, a Lincoln conspirator,
was married here (?)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Civil War Remembered

This afternoon I walked over to the new exhibit in the Library of Congress called "The Last Full Measure." It houses many pictures of civil war soldiers and families for one to gaze upon and contemplate what might have been going on in those heads. I belonged to the Civil War Round Table for many years before moving here, and attended many discussions, and even balls. There is a Capitol Hill Civil War Round Table, but I have not joined it. I did request information about it and never received a response. The lack of response to a variety of questions we ask here is the striking difference between living here compared to up north. Both my husband and I are quick to respond to a request. It can't be a Midwestern attribute because I am from the Northeast and he is from another country! Regardless, the exhibit is interesting, and the setting is beautiful.
The entrance to the Civil War exhibit
in the most beautiful building in the city!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A New Home

I was not expecting to see another new home being built right before my eyes, in an urban neighborhood, where there is a lot of traffic and noise. But it is not surprising either. This area seems to be the best location for a home such as this. So much so, that it can be compared to another one built a few years ago in a similar configuration. Let's hope everyone leaves the tenants alone. I'm hoping most people around here won't even notice it.
A very busy and loud location

Hope no one will notice!

This location worked well "up North" too

Wonder how they're all doing now?

Turn Off The Heat

It's the time of year that the heat gets turned off in the building and the air-conditioning is turned on. We do not have individual unit controls, so you get all or nothing. We received the following notice:

"The air conditioning will be turned on later this week... we are required by DC housing code to have it on no later then April 15th. Please make arrangements to have your own unit serviced in the very near future.  As you know, the AC system in your building has a tendency to back up and cause flooding.  The Board of Directors wants to remind you that this is a unit owner responsibility, and that the Association will not be responsible for damage to your own or other units. If you need recommendations for  HVAC Companies, let us know."

We are very compliant with these kinds of things, but it is very hard to know where and when filters need to be changed. They are located in very unusual places- some are located in someone else's unit! We have had HVAC folks here to address the situation, and have had several instances of water damage which required repair. I suppose that's what community living is all about, but we were not prepared for this type of thing. It used to be one would go down to the basement and have the HVAC unit maintained annually, and it was typically easy access. But come to think of it, we had a separate HVAC unit installed in the ceiling of an addition, and a ladder and a lot of patience was required to maintain it. Maybe our age has something to do with it? We would rather pay someone to crawl around than do damage to ourselves. This is an instance when living on the first floor is not a good thing. Water ALWAYS travels downhill- right in to our house. There's nothing "charming" about this part of the Historic district. Let's hope we won't need the heat on any more this year.

The HVAC system is located above the bathtub
We put in a lot of drip pans because it's hard to see
where the leaks originate

Is this ridiculous or what? Flashlight please!
 Even if you know where to go,
it's not big enough to get in and look around