Over the long weekend we did what a lot of folks do- watch TV. I've always been a big fan of tv watching. In Milwaukee we had one of the first plasma televisions at 52 inches. When folks came over to visit they preferred to look at it rather than talk to us. I must take after my Dad because he got the first color TV, and the first big screen big box TV. But I love gadgets. I am also a huge fan of the original Pride and Prejudice Series with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle which we initially saw in Milwaukee in 1995! We even have the CD box set but can't use it anymore because we no longer have a CD player. So my husband surprised me by taping the series on the Ovation channel via Comcast DVR. So we watched the show again - probably the tenth time - and loved every minute of it. Now we're waiting on Downton Abbey, but in the meantime laughing along with Shahs if Sunset, Fashion Police, and Project Runway All Stars. I love TV - now on HD but only a 45 inch screen in our small space.
Trying to decide where to go for brunch on Saturday can be difficult sometimes. But today it was obvious that we should go to Southside 815 in Alexandria because it was rainy and snowy and this place is not too far away. Days like this unfortunately remind me of Wisconsin. We stumbled upon Southern when we first moved here. But at that time, brunch was not an option. It seems everyone is on that bandwagon now. It is but a short drive over the bridge, on to the George Washington Memorial Parkway, towards the airport, and down Washington Avenue just past Old Town. I can understand that in the city, like DC, the old architectural structures are tall, three stories, narrow, and cling to each other. It does seem odd that the same would apply to a "suburb." My understanding is that DC is one of the few places, aside from North Dakota, that had an increase in population. The number of new housing, apartments, and condos is astounding. Just before we reach Southern, there is a small condo complex by the name of Mount Vernon, and it looks strikingly like the original just down the street. We had our usual veggie scramble and pancake of the day. There is so much food there are plenty of leftovers, which makes it really easy for Sunday brunch - at home.
Within the past week we have stumbled upon a couple notable and potentially notable characters. The first was on Christmas Eve, where we went for brunch in McLean at the McLean Family Restaurant. It's a pleasant drive from our house along the George Washington Parkway, and reminds us of the Greek breakfast places we came to know in Milwaukee. The snow was lightly falling and the scene was reminiscent of past Christmas Eves. Once we were seated at our table we noticed everyone around us pointing fingers at someone who just walked in. There was Newt Gingrich making his way towards his wife, who had already been seated in a booth at the other side of the room. We have seen John Huntsman and a TV News personality there on different occasions. The other day I was walking in the hallway of our building when a woman by the mailboxes asked if I could be of some help about where she could empty the trash. Since my husband handles that activity and knows the recycling bins better, I grabbed him from the apartment and introduced her as someone who had just moved in. Upon returning to the hallway, and some chit chatting, we learned she was a new congresswoman from Illinois. The swearing in ceremony is next week, and we may have an opportunity to attend the celebration party in the House Office Building. You never know who you might run in to here, and in some of the most unexpected places.
Yesterday I wrote about the halls of the Library being empty on the first day of work after Christmas. It was so awful outside I didn't have the energy to try a take a photo of the streets that were equally deserted. Bullfeathers was closed and Tortilla Coast had just a few takers last night. I saw a lot of folks packing cabs with overloaded suitcases making their way back to wherever they originated from. Today there is a little more activity. Someone decided the sidewalk needed to be ripped out again so the jackhammers woke up whomever thought they could sleep late. But from the sixth floor of the Madison Building it looked like a steel town in the grey windy morning except the landmarks gave the landscape away. On the roof of the House Office Building was a poor soul in a bright green safety vest checking on something. Off in the distance the National Cathedral is seen. Scaffolding still surrounds the site to repair earthquake damage. The parking lot of the House Office Building sits relatively empty. There is little to no traffic. I know this quiet of sorts won't last very long. But it still feels weird all the same.
Back in August I wrote a blog about the empty halls and streets of August. Since it is so dreadful outside I did not capture the empty streets today and passed maybe one poor soul on my way home for lunch. The streets were deserted and the restaurants were empty. But I hardly looked up from under my umbrella as the mix of rain, sleet and snow was hitting it. I was reminded of Wisconsin for all the wrong reasons! When I took my usual afternoon walk around the halls it was even more obvious that a lot of folks were still celebrating or stuck in an airport somewhere. I felt like the only person in the building. I really enjoyed my holiday and having five days off. But that makes it even more difficult to get back in the saddle. Being surrounded by retired folks, school teachers and others who work from home makes me wonder even more why I am here. I don't mind work, just not this week.
It seems every year on Christmas Eve we take a ride to Old Town Alexandria to see the decorations reminiscent of the era. Some are more authentic than others using fruit above the doorway, and plenty of green garlands along the stair rails. The cobblestone streets, the ironworks, the front door entryways that are level with the sidewalk, and the gas lights make for a charming atmosphere. It feels like everyone conforms to an unwritten rule to stay somewhat true to the city where George Washington had a townhouse that he would stay in on his way to Mount Vernon. Alexandria is one of my favorite places. We stayed at Morrison House one Christmas before we moved here from Milwaukee and visited it many times before that. Even through the raindrops it looks lovely and so appropriate for the season. I can't tell you how many drivers were irritated behind us whenever I asked my husband to slow down or stop to catch the perfect photo. He gets the prize for being the most patient and helps me capture the photos for the blog. Not sure what I would do without him, and this is the perfect time to be thankful.
With all the holiday shopping and football games going on, we thought this afternoon would be the perfect time to get our Christmas food shopping done. And we were right. It was empty. My husband always does the grocery business, but I needed to go this time to pick out some sort of cake for a family birthday, which we will be celebrating on Tuesday, even though it was actually yesterday. I have always hated going to the grocery store. I remember growing up in Florida dreading the commissary at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. So we headed out to Harris Teeter on Pennsylvania Avenue. It really is quite convenient to park underground, and even more for all the residents who live above it in the relatively new condo complex. My understanding is that another store is going to be built in the Navy Yard neighborhood by the ball park, and another is currently under construction in Old Town, Alexandria. I never heard of the name Harris Teeter before we moved here. Sendik's was our store of choice in Milwaukee. But to me, they all look the same, and I don't like going to any of them. But I have no problem eating any of the stuff we get there. And the cakes looked yummy!
Talk about last minute decorating. For some reason I just didn't get to it this year. We usually go to Gingko Gardens in the neighborhood for a wreath and some branch material. But we were on the other side of town today and ended up at American Plant. We go there to get the Betta fish, Moby, plants for his aquarium in the summer. They sometimes carry some unusual stuff for my purpose. Since we don't have any space in our tiny place for a tree, I improvise and use a wall vase instead. I get a bunch of things like magnolia leaves, and a variety of evergreens. I especially like the branches and twigs with berries. It all starts with a bunch of pieces in a box from the store, ends up looking quite lovely, and is just enough for us to sense the delightful Christmas smell of the tree. And of course, a colorful string of lights as added. What's ironic about all of this is when we lived in Wisconsin, I just went out to the backyard and started chopping things that looked useful. The only thing I didn't have was magnolia leaves. Every room would have something in it. That process would take a lot of time and I started the day after Thanksgiving. There is something to be said about living in small spaces, especially when you get older.
Mrs. T's usually does the trick for us, but we decided to go on a little adventure to Rockville where the Kielbasa Factory resides. Once in awhile you'll find pierogis on the appetizer menu, but not much else. In Milwaukee and Chicago, there are several restaurants, along with Polish Fest on the lakefront in summer. We lived in a primarily Polish Community in Milwaukee. My mother tells me we spoke Polish before English, and she attended grade school in both languages in Massachusetts. Her Dad owned a grocery store in Fall River, and you can bet they had Polish sausage! We traditionally had pierogis on Christmas Eve, and kielbasa on Christmas Day. This year it will be both on Christmas Day. At least now we know we can always get the authentic stuff if and when we need it. It reminds me of the old butcher shops we would visit in the old neighborhood. They have all kinds of kielbasa, pierogi, and a variety of canned stuff, etc. The place was packed with people stocking up for the holiday. I don't blame them, as making pierogi is a long and tedious process. Incidentally, the Kielbasa Factory is practically right across the street from Yekta, the Iranian restaurant and little grocery store we like. So both my husband and I get something out of the trip.