Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I don't really know anything about LaFollette, except that I am reminded of him every day in the Madison Building when I pass by the Congressional Research Service on the second floor. And there in the hallway are photos of him, and his son. They are both from Wisconsin, so I feel an immediate connection. We lived in Wisconsin for thirty years, but really don't miss it. But there are reminders here and there. They obviously did something significant- something about "fighting Bob"- but I'm too lazy to look it up.
Why is everything named after politicians and generals?

I probably should know who these folks are
But I don't

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How Did the Grandsons React to G's News?

I let both of the grandsons know that my little Betta fish died this past weekend. The fish was brought to life in a little story I wrote about him and the difficulties he faced - and both of the grandsons were a part of the story. They each received a personally illustrated version of the book. Upon hearing the news, the grandson in California knelt down and said a prayer and hoped that G would like being in heaven. The grandson here said he was very sorry and told me I could help myself to his Dad's fish pond and get another one. It is interesting to see how kids respond to this kind of news. I still find myself thinking I need to do something- like feed the fish, or change the water - and I keep looking over to the corner of the house where the bowl sat in front of the window on its glass pedestal. And I'm a little grumpier than usual. I do miss him, even though he was half the size of my pinky finger. And that kind of feeling just takes time to go away and doesn't change regardless of where you live.
G in heaven

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mary Surratt Coincidence

Last night we watched the Robert Redford film The Conspirator, about Mary Surratt and her role in the Lincoln Assassination. I always liked history, was going to actually major in it in college, and was a member of the Milwaukee Civil War Round Table for about 15 years. Yesterday, we were exploring the SW side of town, which included Fort McNair along the Anacostia River.  Little did we know at the time that Ft. McNair was the site of the hangings of Mary and the other three Lincoln conspirators. The site of the hanging is now a tennis court. I believe at the time it was an arsenal. Mary was also kept in the old prison which is the site where the Supreme Court now stands. Her boarding house is still in Chinatown, and it is now a restaurant. At Fort McNair, it was reported in the Washington Post that Building 20 is being restored. This is the building where the trial was held. It was also stated that the furniture from the movie will be placed there, and that the dimensions of the original room were taken to prepare the room that was made for the movie set. The odd thing about all this is that we had been to Fort McNair, and by accident decided to watch the movie, which is the place that Mary's fate was decided... and this takes place only 2 miles away from where we live. Mary saw the Capitol Building as we see it today, as the dome was completed during the Civil War years. It feels weird that she may have passed near where we live today. Just think of all the characters that have come and gone in this city.
The wall around Ft McNair

Building 20- the site of the trial

An etching of the trial from the Library of Congress

Sunday, August 28, 2011

SW DC & Anacostia- After the Storm

We had just about enough of being cooped inside the house after the hurricane passed through. So we decided it was time to go out for lunch with our friends, and then explore the Anacostia River. It was a really nice day, although it was still quite windy. We ended up on the SW side of town, along the Anacostia Trail. To our surprise, this is where not only Fort McNair is located, but also a monument to the Titanic, as well as the Police Water Patrol, the port for all the dining boats that go up and down the River, and a very tacky restaurant replete with plastic palm trees. It felt, looked, and smelled like Florida along the beachfront. On the way back, you could say we were on the industrial (?) side of town. It was quite grungy, but interesting none the less. The sun has now returned, and if we hadn't noticed a few fallen trees and scattered branches along the way, you would not have known that a hurricane had passed through. We were lucky.

The dinner cruise ship port

Could be anywhere- except the Washington Monument gives it away

The Presidential Yacht

Did not see the pink flamingo

The Titanic Memorial

The Anacostia River

An interesting view of the Capitol from SW

In the neighborhood - missed the building

On the other side of the street - missed the building!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Sad Day

My Betta fish, GW, died this morning. He had a very difficult life and was a courageous little guy. He was the inspiration for my first children's book. I will miss him a lot. I hope I did everything I could to keep him comfortable. I did not have a chance to say goodbye... but I did wish him a good night. Now he can finally rest.
G'e first night in his new home

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene and Sandbags

As just about no one was planning to go to work today, I decided to take the day off and make it a long weekend. The city is preparing for Irene... sandbags are available about 6 blocks from our house. We drove by and the line of cars was ridiculously long. So we decided to hope for the best and came back home, parked across the street so the car is within view, and away from any trees. While driving through the city, there is a more obvious police presence. Sandbags have been placed around the vent grids above metro stops, and on top of smaller objects to keep them from blowing away. The Martin Luther King Memorial dedication has been cancelled, but the area was busy with pedestrian traffic and the scaffolding is still up- or maybe they're taking it down? And of course, there is always a nay sayer warning everyone that the end of the world is near. This particular one had a classy burlap sign to remind us all of our sins and scare us straight. The vehicle traffic was very heavy all around- people are leaving to go who knows where. I guess we will just take each day as it comes and hope for the best. There's not much else one can do. Maybe we should fill the bathtub with water.
The end is near

At the Martin Luther King Memorial site...putting up or taking down?

Secure the potential moving objects

Sandbags and police

Too long a line to get sandbags... let's hope the drain works well by the patio

Thursday, August 25, 2011

DC Earthquake Aftermath and Upcoming Hurricane

A sign from the Architect of the Capitol appeared in the hallway today to inform everyone that it was structurally safe to be in the building following the earthquake on Tuesday. There are sticky notes pasted all around the building that identify where the visible cracks are so they can eventually be repaired. They call these cracks superficial and they are no concern. A few folks mentioned that they have felt the aftershocks... luckily I am not one of them. Several folks are taking off tomorrow so they can get their beach houses boarded up in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Growing up in Florida, I've been in hurricanes before, and have seen water spouts. In Wisconsin, we had snow storms, blizzards and whiteout conditions. My left hand was in the snow blower during one of those events and I will always have a reminder of that awful stuff (fractured finger, broken finger, and sliced open finger with 6 months of physical therapy). During the summer we lost power every other week. At least the power lines here are underground. For some reason I thought this area didn't have such volatile weather disturbances. Boy, was I wrong. Or, maybe we just happened to move here when all these things occur every 100 years or so. Now that's what I call luck (?)
Things could have been a lot worse!

Hardly noticeable

The wall across from my office

Right outside my door

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Capitol Hill Uniform? Another Version

Awhile back, it was noted that there appeared to be a "uniform" on Capitol Hill composed of khaki pants and a blue buttoned down shirt. Since then, I have seen many more folks in this combination. But this particular version is not only eye-catching, but maybe even a little strange. Wonder where this guy works? Chances are he is from New England, or ?...... You could not get away with this sort of thing in the health care environment. There are definite dress codes that must be followed, and they are enforced.
Lobster anyone?

What to Write About Today? An Earthquake in DC, Of Course

Just when you think there will not be material to write about for the day, an earthquake arrives. I just returned to work after lunch and sat down at my desk on the third floor, when it felt like the escalator above me fell with a loud crash, then the floor started to sway. As the swaying did not subside, we all ran under a door frame until we decided it was time to evacuate the building. Then the sirens came on. As I have never been in an earthquake, my only thought was it had to be a bomb. We have no windows to look outside, so we thought the worst. Then came word that it was an earthquake. Someone jokingly said Congress finally made a decision, another was passing out religious literature. Obviously, none of our cell phones worked, so after checking in at our designated spot, I went home to see how things were. The wine glasses had swayed, the fish tank had splashed, the chandelier had moved, and a knick knack bird in the kitchen fell off the shelf. Let's hope the foundation didn't crack. But we, our family and neighbors were okay, and that was all that mattered. Things like this always put things in perspective. Since we moved here, we've had more snow than Wisconsin, summer temps higher than Florida, and now an earthquake. Please don't let me see a tornado!
Waiting to hear

Still waiting to hear

All along the street towards home

A calm commotion- the metro stopped running

All the buildings were evacuated

Repent before it's too late

All the buildings need to be checked before it's ok to go back

An earthquake party

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of School

The two grandsons started back to school today - one in California, and one here in DC. One is in the 4th grade and the other is in 3rd grade. Neither one rides the school bus. I rode the bus for about one year in Connecticut - and it felt like the bus stop was so far away from home- until we went back to visit (as an adult) and saw that it was only a block!  Things seem so different from a small person's perspective. Hope the year goes well for all the munchkins out there. Do you remember how it felt going back to school after being off all summer? I don't remember hating it- I think I actually looked forward to it. It hardly matters where you live, these rites of passage are the same everywhere.

I actually rode the bus in Connecticut- for a year, until we moved to Florida

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial

Along Independence Avenue behind a makeshift fence, we have been watching the building progress  for quite some time on the newest addition to the Mall. The dedication ceremony for the MLK Jr Memorial is this coming Sunday. Before that, an event for DC residents is planned for Tuesday. In order to avoid all the traffic headaches, heat and crowds, we thought we would get a first hand look at the site last evening. We walked along the path of the Tidal Basin, and behind the chain link fence, there it stood. Several other folks had the same idea, and all were snapping photos. It was just dusk, the weather was perfect, and it was indeed a very peaceful place.
Along Independence Avenue ~ 2 weeks ago(the back)

Entering on Independence Avenue, a path that leads toward the memorial

A walk along the Tidal Basin to the front

The front entrance
From the Tidal Basin

Not sure about the resemblance (?)

Nicely landscaped and quotes are etched in to stone walls

The fence is still up but it did not deter folks from capturing memorable views

In good company