Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hula Girl, Cheesecake and Shawarma

Today in the Washington Post was an article about what the city plans to do about regulating all the food trucks. Apparently it is a rather new phenomenon that started in 2009. They all just started to appear. The brick and mortar restaurants are upset about the trucks parking right in front of their doors, that the food truck customers don't have to pay some sort of sales tax, and obviously the vendors take business away from the lunch crowd volume. The other issue is how does one know if safety standards are maintained - though I am not certain folks around here think of things like that. What I do know is that the vehicles circulate regularly between my work place and home, which is two blocks away. And there always seems to be a line of people looking for a change of pace from the usual fare. This week, Hula Girl returned with a new Cheesecake truck right behind it. Another new truck pulled in to the scene called Shawarma. I would never have guessed that it is Lebanese. I bet that is giving Tasty Kabob a run for it's money.
A little teriyaki steak and a cheesecake to follow
A nice day to stand around - right across from Tortilla Coast

DC Shawarma is a newcomer

Has a few customers too

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do You Need A Lift?

We walked over to Tortilla Coast for dinner the other evening. It is only about a block away and is a very convenient place for us to go when we want a quick bite. It was about 7 PM when we finished. Two women approached another couple passing by, asking them where the Safeway was. The visitors obviously missed their metro stop, as there is not a Safeway near here, but there are two several blocks away in either direction. If they listened to where the other guy said to go, they would really have gotten lost. His partner was texting on her phone and offered no help, and when she said something, it had nothing to do with the issue. So, we stepped in and offered a known route. However, it was already dark, and not such a great idea to be walking around in unfamiliar territory. We offered to walk with them to where we live and then provide additional directions from there. It became very clear that they were way off base, and as is typical of my husband, he offered to drive them to their destination. At first, they refused. But as we walked further and told them they would have to walk another 6-8 blocks, and that it was quite cold, they accepted. Once in the car, we learned they were from Saipan, on a business trip. You never know who you will run in to, and in the end they got to where they needed to be safely.  We got back in time to find the last parking spot, and we learned a little bit about Saipan.
Where is Saipan?
Not very familiar to us

Can only imagine how beautiful it is!

Monday, February 27, 2012

I Need Your Help!

The Library is sponsoring an art/arts and crafts contest where artists can submit their work. If chosen, the items are displayed for six months or so on the sixth floor of the Madison Building. The problem is is that only two items can be submitted per person. Over the last few days, I've been asking a variety of people to select the two images they like the most. I started out with six, and have narrowed the field down to 3. But I am really stuck now and wonder of you would be so kind as to offer your opinion! In no particular order: Capitol Hill, Cousins, The Joy of Retirement. Thanks so much!
Capitol Hill


The Joy of Retirement

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Turkey Buzzards Are Back

We were driving along Dolly Madison Highway, also known as 123, on our way to McLean. It is a highly travelled road, as it is just off the George Washington Parkway. Right in front of a large building was a deer that had just been hit by a vehicle. And for the second time along this stretch of road, we saw a bunch of turkey buzzards chowing down on the remains. It's not like this doesn't happen all the time, but that it happens in such a metropolitan area is somewhat unexpected. But, there is a huge deer population here and not a lot that can or has been done to manage it. We oftentimes see eagles and hawks flying overhead- in fact, we counted three eagle nests along the GW Parkway yesterday. Maybe some of those birds flying around are actually turkey buzzards- but they tend to travel in groups. In Wisconsin, we always heard about deer crashing in to cars, and always had them in our back yard. It's a sad sight to see, but when you read about turkey buzzards, you get a better feel for their side of the story. But there is something about Bambi - no matter how many of them there are. 
Before they noticed us, they were having a feast- and ignoring all the traffic
Then they ran for their lives when we stopped to see them-
they are a lot bigger than it looks here

Two were left, but the male sent the female off and guarded the prize-
he must have drawn the short stick
But he was getting a snack in between guard duty

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Check Out the Backside

All around Capitol Hill are beautiful townhouses and row houses  that are connected to each other all the way down the block. Each home has a unique appearance in spite of being side by side with a neighbor. What's more interesting, but certainly less appealing to look at, is the backside of these homes. Taking a car through the alley brings with it a totally different perspective. Some cars simply would not fit. But if the coveted parking space is located behind your house, you'll need to travel through the alley to get to it. The garages in back are also as unique to each house as the front. Most parking spaces simply have a door, but no garage per se. Others are just slabs of concrete. Still other serve a dual purpose of patio and parking space. Some have nothing but a fence to mark the property lines. All the power lines are hidden in the alley too, along with all the recycling containers. Probably the hardest thing about living in an arrangement like this is trying to get your lawnmower or garbage to the front from the back- unless you live on the end. Otherwise, do you suppose it is taken through the house to get to the other side? It's really very impractical to live in such vertically oriented houses- but they sure look lovely.
A typical front facade
The parking lot of the Democratic Headquarters faces the back of these homes

The Architect of the Capitol has a gas station in the backyard too

The alley has a dead end
Does this go with the front?

A variety of garage doors with no garage

Slabs, doors, and place to park to call your own

Some choose a patio over a parking space

Or a wooden fence to brick and mortar

Enter at your own risk

Friday, February 24, 2012

Please Look Around Before You Leave Your Vehicle

Because parking is at such a premium in the neighborhood, we continue to be amazed that people just don't pay attention to their surroundings. By that I mean trying to leave whatever space for someone else to use as much as possible. But that would mean thinking outside of yourself. It is especially crowded during the week from Tuesday through Friday morning. Just a few inches makes such a difference - especially when you park at the beginning or the end of the line. This morning we could not help but notice that at least two spaces would be impossible to use because someone did not move far enough one way or the other. Yes, we understand that sometimes it can't be helped based on when people come and go. But this is such a routine occurrence. I wish there was a fine for this "infraction," but no one would care or pay it. We keep hoping for common sense and a little courtesy, but keep getting disappointed. These are the days we really miss our 2 car garage and very long driveway.
It may look like it from this angle, but there is not enough space

Someone could have parked to the end- there is not enough room here either

Some moron parked way past the end and pinned in the guy in front-
but what would he care?

For Sale- Sold!

Even before it hit the market, this house was sold. Apparently it was under water from a broken pipe that no one knew about until a month later when the water bill was outrageous. Someone went over to check the damage, and found an utter mess that resulted in a quick sale at a bargain basement price. The owner was an elderly lady, who lived primarily in Virginia. And as the story goes, was quite the hoarder- and they say she was a spy (?). So the place was gutted, and rebuilt and moved in to the 21st century. No one seems to know what it was actually sold for, but we all know it was probably worth every dime. This place is on our block, and one of the last homes that had not been renovated. It has the same facade as our son's home just down the street. We're just happy that it was cleaned up, and sold very quickly- which is not at all unusual around here. What is unusual is that it has parking- which makes it even more valuable. Getting through the alley in the back can be a challenge, but it is a priceless option in this neighborhood. Since we moved, we no longer have our 2 car attached garage. We do miss it, but we did not have the Capitol building just two blocks and I did not walk to work. Priorities do change!
An added parking perk- priceless!

A great improvement from the broken glass and dingy exterior

Now it fits right in
With a recently updated sidewalk that is straight and flat!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Convenient Ash Wednesday

When we walked to work this morning I was reminded that it was Ash Wednesday, as several folks had obviously been to church and their foreheads had the dark ashen cross on them. Some crosses were more obvious than others. St. Peter's Church is just across the street from the Library of Congress, where another Ash Wednesday session was held over the lunch hour. When I walked back to work, a LOT of people had obviously attended that service. But when we were dropping our grandson off for his wrestling practice after work, we passed by the Eastern Market metro stop. Right in front of the escalator was an interesting sight. There were 2 priests, or one priest and a helper, distributing ashes right at the metro stop. I asked them how business was, and they said it was a really big hit. I heard about the drive by/drive in ash distribution, but this is really taking your service to another level.
The bus stop at the  Eastern Market metro stop
Business was hot

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fed Ex

We needed to mail some tax papers at the Fed Ex store that is located across the street from the Library of Congress on 2nd street. If you walk a few more steps you'll be on Pennsylvania Avenue. While there at the Fed Ex store, 2 young gentlemen were struggling with several boxes of materials and having a serious conversation with the clerk about the importance if getting this shipment to the destination no later than a certain date. A sample of what was in the boxes was sitting on the counter next to us- The Annual Report To The Utah State Legislature, United States Senator Mike Lee. One of the young men said I could page through it if I liked. I really didn't. All I could see was how expensive the printing of the materials was, the cost of shipping them all to Utah, and have a good idea that no one will read any of it. I might be wrong, but I doubt it. I suppose it looks impressive, and keeps some people in business, but this whole process looks archaic at the same time.
Looks impressive?

Never heard much from Senator Lee

The typical blue suit "uniform"

A convenient location
Our bank is on the corner along Pennsylvania Avenue

Presidents Day

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Capitol Hill Suites

Before we moved to Washington, we always stayed at the Capitol Hill Suites. The location is perfect because it is just a couple blocks from where our family lives, one block from Pennsylvania Avenue, and very close to Capitol South Metro. Because we could show proof that we had relatives living in the neighborhood, we got a neighbors discount. It was home away from home. The location was far better than the interior accommodations. You could never control the heat or the air conditioning regardless of where you moved the dial. Since we moved here, the hotel has been taken over by new owners, who renovated all the rooms and updated them to the 21st century. When our friends visited, we checked out the new digs and it was indeed far better than what we were used to dealing with. Now, additional renovation is going on to update the lobby and registration area- which was rather quaint, but very small, and for all practical purposes pretty useless. It must be a "downtime" to pursue a renovation now, because most of the rooms around the construction area are out of commission. This is one of the few places that the weekday rates are higher than the weekend- but all that is seasonal too. Nevertheless, we are glad there is a place so close to us in case any one may want to stay nearby. We don't have a lot of space for guests - which in the end may not be such a  bad thing.
Waiting for the grand re-opening

This side of the building is not available to use

Wrapping up the day's work

The Library of Congress is across the street

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Kim

Del Ray Alexandria and the Hunt for P'tit Basque

My husband found addresses for three cheese shops in the area with the hopes of locating our favorite P'tit Basque. We do rely on our friend to pick it up at Costco, but in between it's nice to know it can be found elsewhere. So we checked out a place on F Street downtown near the Verizon Center and the National Portrait Gallery- no luck and VERY inconvenient. There is also a corner market on East Capitol in our neighborhood, which we will check out at another time. After brunch this afternoon in Alexandria, we drove to Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray- a little suburban area right next to or a part of Alexandria to a little shop called Cheestique. The neighborhood was very quaint, and reminded us a lot of Downer Avenue in Milwaukee. Inside was quite a variety of cheese selections, wine, and a little cafe. And there it was- right in the middle front of the assorted cheeses. So we got the cheese, along with some rosemary bread and jam. The place reminded me of the old butcher shops - when the bell rang upon opening the door. My grandfather had a grocery store and was a butcher in Massachusetts. We used to visit the butcher shop in Florida to pick up the old dry bread for the ducks.There is something about living in these quaint old places- as long as they are close to a big city.
Front and center

Something for everyone

A very brisk business

Looks good!

Along Mount Vernon Avenue

Cute little bag

Mount Vernon  = Main Street