Saturday, December 31, 2011

Flowers in December

With the unusually lovely and mild temperatures during most of December, the garden has remained in a state of suspended animation. The mums are still blooming, the rose that flowered in a pot has not lost the petals and looks like it did several weeks ago. The rose buds on the rose bush continue to bloom! The very hearty ivy continues to climb along the fence. We actually could have just sat out on the porch today. This is one of the main reasons we moved away from the snow and ice of Wisconsin. The last few winters here have been very cold with more snow than I can remember - there was two feet of it and a week off from work two years ago! So this is really a treat and a great way to start off the new year.
The rosebuds and the ivy are thriving

This little rose has lasted weeks

And the mums think it is Fall although they look very "Christmassy"

Friday, December 30, 2011

Arlington National Cemetery

It was a beautiful winter day, so we took the metro to Arlington Cemetery.We have been to the Cemetery several times over the years. But this visit we watched the Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and then witnessed a funeral with horse drawn carriage and riderless horse with the Army band and a very long procession. The drum beat played while the procession meandered to the final resting place. It reminded me of President Kennedy's funeral that we watched on  black and white TV in 1963. We paid respects to all three Kennedy brothers, Jackie, and Patrick, who are buried at the foot of the hill below General and Mrs. Lee's home. The view of the city is magnificent from this vantage point. It is interesting to visit this place at different times of the year. In winter, the trees look sad - which only seems fitting.
Eternal flame at President Kennedy's grave site

Robert Kennedy's grave site

Tomb of the Unknown

Funeral Procession with Riderless Horse - it was very moving

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Coldwell Banker Window

Even though Christmas is over, the festive window at Coldwell Banker along Pennsylvania Avenue stays in season until after New Year. The window reminds me of the old time windows we used to see when we were kids. And it takes a very long time to get them just right. Unfortunately this year, the trains, the ice skaters, and the down hill tobogganers are not moving! But, the idea remains. Having been born in Massachusetts and moving to Connecticut until 6 years of age, I do remember the snow, and the forts, the frozen ponds, and the ice skating. There is a little bit of that feeling here in DC, and absolutely none of it in Florida if Disney World is excluded. But it all brings back very warm memories - in spite of the cold.

A reflection of Pennsylvania Avenue in the window

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Edward Scissorhands He Is Not

Before Christmas, someone decided to saw off the hedge that sits on the city land next to our building. But, as is typical, whoever did it only trimmed/sawed off half of the length. Yesterday, they came back and trimmed off the rest... but the results are brutal. If the trimming had been done with a little more consistency, there would be more leaves than limbs. These things are never done all in one session, so this morning someone was hacking off the limbs on the hedge across from the one that was just completed. But they were only trimming branches along the sides. However, when I came home for lunch this afternoon, it looks as though there may be an attempt to also trim/hack off this hedge too. It only makes sense because it would match the other side. But I'm not holding my breath as long as the city is in charge.
It looks like they might be starting to cut the other side

The hedge on the right is very short now, and the one on the left is not

All branches and no leaves

It really is a good idea to trim things once every 10 years!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Capitol

Our nine year old grandson is visiting from California and the best place to take him on a very cold, windy and rainy day is the Capitol. And the best way to reach it is underground through the tunnels. So we walked over to the Library of Congress and walked through the tunnel over to the Capitol Visitor Center. We had to pass the security check point twice. It was busy, but nothing like we see in summer and during the school year with busloads of kids. So we got a bite to eat first, then easily got passes for the tour. I always wear my Library ID whenever we visit these places because it is easier to pass through security and it's just a good idea. We got in line, watched the movie, and started the tour with Doug. While in the old Supreme Court Room, where Thomas Jefferson was sworn in as president x 2, we saw our neighbor, who is a guide, and took her picture. I always love visiting he Capitol because it really is a remarkable place, and so much has happened there. During the Civil War, they made bread in the basement. We were all definitely tired by the end, and headed back through the tunnel to the Library, checked the Gutenberg Bible, the real Jefferson Library filled with his books, and the first map of the US from 1507. Then we stopped by my office, and made our way home- just 2 blocks away. And THAT was the best part! I'm not sure how much our grandson will remember, but I know I never forgot visiting this place when I was just six years old.
The "mold" of Freedom, who sits atop the dome

The old Supreme Court Room deep within the Capitol

The Dome

In the Rotunda

Statuary Hall

Our guide Doug

Looks like the Library of Congress!

Monday, December 26, 2011

DC Bound

After the last two days preparing the Turducken and running around like the rest of the world, we had one final errand to run last evening. Our nine year old grandson was flying alone from California LAX to DC. We had to be sure all the documentation was in order, and started to track his flight as soon as the plane took off. I'm not sure what we would have done without our dear friend - who dropped us off at the baggage claim area, parked our car so we could get to the office on time to pick up the passes to get through security, kept us company until he arrived, and took some memorable pictures. Because it was after hours, the airport was really quiet. There were several snafus along the way, but luckily he arrived in one piece, was able to meet the guests who were still at our son's house just down the street, ended up staying with his cousin overnight, and is off doing who knows what today. We may never hear from him again until the day he goes back! It reminds me of the times I got to fly to Boston from Florida to visit with my cousin, and we have maintained a long lasting relationship since we were their age. I hope that happens to them too. We are doing absolutely nothing today, and it feels great!
Washington Airport terminal on Christmas Day

The flight was ahead of schedule

Sunday, December 25, 2011

LIT's Turducken

It started yesterday when my husband went to pick up the pre-orderd parts of the turducken at Eastern Market. When he brought it home, we made up the brine in a huge zip lock bag, and dumped the de-boned turkey, duck, and chicken in to the bag and struggled to get it all in to the refrigerator to remain overnight. Last night we made the cornbread that went into the dressing this morning. Then the hard part started- actually preparing the birds layer by layer. It was like a three ring circus getting all the pieces to fit. Our dear friend documented the whole spectacle in videos and pictures - better ones to follow! Finally the skewers were placed, and it was sewn up to perfection using surgeon skills. It finally made it in to the oven, where it will sit over the next 3 hours. Then it will be taken down the street to our son's HUGE neighborhood open house, where it will be devoured within seconds.
Was sitting in the brine over night- now it's ready to prepare

Tying up the thighs and legs
Ready to hit the 500 degree oven!

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Old Town Alexandria Christmas

Alexandria is my favorite neighborhood and I try to find excuses to go there as often as possible. We went out for brunch this afternoon with our dear friend, and afterwards, took a tour of Old Town to check out the Christmas decorations. The decor is typically very traditional of the time and very pretty. There remain a few original cobblestone streets, which are not very good for your car! Imagine how it was riding on them in a horse and buggy! The gas lights add some additional ambiance. George Washington worshipped in the Church here, and General Lee's boyhood home is here. I'm sure it would all be even prettier in the evening, so we'll probably come back and visit within the next week. We actually stayed in Old Town at Christmas time about 15 years ago. I knew then that we might end up somewhere around here - and we did.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Paula Dean's Turducken

Every Christmas since we moved to DC, we are challenged with a request to prepare something interesting for the open house our son has at his house for all the friends, family, and neighbors. It is not unusual to see 100+ people pass through the door. In Wisconsin, our holidays were very quiet affairs. Two years ago we were asked to bring a turducken. It was a very lengthy affair to prepare, and we were up until the wee hours of the morning sewing it into place. My husband is the chef of the house, and has spent this week getting all the ingredients for the recipe and the stuffing, following Paula Dean's instructions. It was an overwhelming success, even though the stuffing wasn't quite right. But none of us had a chance to even try it. It was picked off the platter so fast all we saw was a few shreds of remains. So this year, we will attempt it again. Tomorrow morning it will be picked up at Eastern Market (a favorite and one of the oldest markets in the country founded by Thomas Jefferson I'm told)... it will be soaked in a special brine bag for 8 hours, and we plan to start earlier in the evening putting it all together. Let's hope it all goes well- and let's hope we get a chance to taste it.
Just a hand full of all the required ingredients

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Freddy Kreuger- not Edward Scissorhands

On the west side of the building is a triangular patch of land that belongs to the city. On the very end of the triangle, there is a lovely garden maintained by some ladies who live across the street. On either side of the triangle are holly bush hedges that are the homes of many birds. As you approach he hedge, the birds are silenced, only to resume their chatter once you pass by. And the blossoms smell so sweet when they are in season. When I came home for lunch this afternoon, something drastic happened. It looked like Freddy Krueger was let lose on the hedge. On one side only, it was cut in half- but only along half the length. And the line of cutting was not parallel to the ground. It looked as though someone started the project and suddenly stopped it- maybe because they cut off a finger? I did not notice any blood, but did see all the branches that were cut down still scattered about on the ground. Since it is such a mess, I am certain this is the city's doing. And whatever the plan is will take several days to complete - so it will stay a mess for awhile. I feel the worst for all the birds who have lost their winter homes. Any thoughtful homeowner would never do such a thing. When we need the city to cut the grass in the summer, they never show up. Why on earth would they do this? Because it makes no sense at all.
A half- "a" job

why only half the length?

More branches than leaves and berries

An ugly mess

The Library of Congress Christmas Tree

I took a detour on my walk this afternoon through the underground tunnel over to the Jefferson Building. I missed the Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the reading of The Night Before Christmas by the Librarian to all the children that typically attend. But I wanted to see the Christmas tree before the holiday passes. And it was really pretty with the backdrop of the historical building interior and stunning workmanship behind it. There were a few visitors hanging around, and a few tours being conducted by the docents. I am always struck by the history of this building, and directly across the street stands the Capitol Building in all its splendor. The other day, I passed by the Librarian on my daily walk- and we exchanged greetings. I'm not sure how many Librarians have been appointed by the President since the first one- not more than 15 I think- so it's always a treat to run in to living history. This type of experience didn't happen that often in my past work places, if at all. And that's one of the reasons why I really like it here.