As often as possible we make the excuse to ride over to Alexandria. It is just over the bridge and it is one of my favorite places. The gardens along the sidewalks are generally spectacular, and the architecture is unique. We always have luck finding a place to park, and this time it was in front of a home with an interesting entryway. We went about our business, and on the way back to the car, I noticed as usual, how LONG the house was. But I didn't care for the location in that it was sitting right next to a paid parking lot. If you can get past that image and move on to the flag draped sidewalks that are typical of the town, you can step back in time and imagine what went on back in the day. George Washington's townhouse is right across the street from this house. The little fall flowers in their seasonal pots are placed particularly on the steps, and the entryway is so inviting. The tiny space provides just enough cover to get out of the rain or inclement weather, with a beautiful tile floor beneath. I wonder what famous feet may have stepped this way? That's the charm of Old Town. Our house in Milwaukee was built in the 40's, and the building we live in in DC was built around the 1880's. Neither place can compare, if you like that sort of thing.
One could argue that you need not spend a lot of money on shoes. Since I have a very large foot, most of my life it was not a matter of what would I would like, but rather, what do you have in my size? And the options were generally bleak. And I learned quickly to get whatever fit sooner then later because it never failed to be gone if I waited too long. These days it is so much better, and I have found that Cole Haan generally meets the need. My first pair was bought on Michigan Avenue in Chicago many years ago. And they all last forever. Since then, I've had a very cozy relationship with Cole Haan. The silver ballet slippers I bought about two years ago are beginning to wear down. They have Nike insoles, and were worn in Copenhagen and lasted two summers. When my husband finally replaced his 3,000 mile walking shoes at DSW, I looked to see if there was anything around that could remotely replace the ballets. I found a pair from Kenneth Cole that had the same general features, and were significantly less expensive. Turns out they are no where near the comfort of Cole Haan and quite flimsy. But they are probably a lot better than what my husband had as a child in Iran. His dad took he and his brother shoe shopping, and ended up buying them both a pair of shoes made from tires, that were grossly glued together with more rubber by a sidewalk cobbler. When they got home, Mom came to the rescue and threw them all out of the house and made them return the footwear, only to buy a regular pair at a regular store. In the end, there is something to say about you get what you pay for no matter where you live.
Winding our way past the House Office Buildings down Washington Avenue towards home, I noticed an extraordinary number of police vehicles and motorcycles. I thought it was change of shift because it was 2:30 PM until I saw that all the streets were blocked off heading in the opposite direction. We were passing by the National Democratic Headquarters, as we usually do. My husband and I both decided someone of importance must be inside the building. We made a lot of guesses. Then we came home, and I checked the internet to see what might be happening there today. What I learned was that Mr. Obama has been using the site for debate preparation. I'm not sure how long he was there in total, but everything cleared out by 3:30. I only know this because I could see one of the many police cars from our front window. It just seems funny to know that I can look out my front window or step outside the rear of my building and know that the President of the United States was just two blocks away. I know that would never have happened in Milwaukee.
Since I can remember, my mom always took us kids to a real hair salon for a style and cut. I remember John to this day. The pixie was the cut of choice. And there was nothing more nerve wracking for me about moving to Capitol Hill from Milwaukee. I'm sure it sounds ridiculous, but I didn't think I would ever be able to replace the hairdresser I went to for almost thirty years. We went through a lot of things together. I was hoping to locate something close to home. I was lucky to get a tip about Mickey Bolek, and am happy to report that he not only replaced Nadeen, but it really is a very pleasant experience at Michael Anthony Salon. It is located on the second floor above the Capitol Hill Cleaners in the Eastern Market area on C Street. I always look forward to the visit. Everyone is so very nice and I schedule it to coincide with the start of my three day weekend. What better way to start a "vacation" than to be pampered and come out looking just "mahvelous." I'm not the only one who thinks so, because it is reinforced not only by the compliments I get from my husband, but routinely from perfect strangers. Thanks Mickey! Capitol Hill is so lucky to have you.
There is no better way to see how quickly time passes than to witness children around you growing up. In my case, today is my grandson's 10th birthday. That is somewhat of a milestone. I'm trying to recall what was going on ten years ago. We still lived in Milwaukee, I was working at the corporate office of a very large health care system, and I was 10 years younger. It is true that when you are young you want to be older. I still don't mind the age I am, but wish I was more conscious of how grateful one needs to be to have good health. Every little ache and pain and pill reminds one of getting older too. But, as a way to celebrate those early years is a collection of mom and baby art. All of the paintings have a special meaning for me. It's interesting to see how the little ones change from year to year. Wonder how they will be ten years from now?
We always HAD to get flu shots when I worked in health care. Now, it is an option. The annual flu clinic kicked off today at the Library. Based on customer feedback, it started with last names at the end of the alphabet this time. It is probably one of the more elegant environments to have a flu shot. The Madison Hall is right off the Independence Street main entrance in the Madison Building, right by the security check point. There, one stands in line until an employee emerges from behind one of the three screened off areas. Since it was the first day, the line was longer than typical, but did not take long at all. The whole thing reminds me of my clinical days. I handed out a lot of shots in my time...most often in the intensive care unit and in places not readily accessible. I've kept my license in the event I would ever have the inclination to do this type of work again. On the way out, I passed by the Marine Corps Honor Guard. The requirements to be in this elite group must be tall and really fit/skinny! I'm not sure why they were there, but it is interesting to come across these sights so unexpectedly. My arm was quite sore later on this afternoon, but well worth the pain if it keeps the flu at bay. And there is no escaping that wherever you live.
It is not unusual to see food trucks around town. Tasty Kabob seems to be in our neighborhood the most. We have never tried any of them, but they seem to be a big hit with the lunch crowd. I am in a great position to be able to walk home from work for lunch and much prefer that to depending on fast food or routine restaurants. Yesterday on our walk to the Mall, we spotted a different kind of truck that was parked in front of the American Indian Museum. But it was not for food, it was for coffee. And it was free. The Mobile Turkish House must have something up it's sleeve as this is a nifty advertisement for drink. A young woman with an apron and a tray of coffee cups was circulating along the sidewalk distributing coffee. My husband loves coffee, but it all tastes the same to me. When we came back home after the National Book Festival, we took our usual route. And there it was again - the Mobile Turkish House was parked in front of Bullfeathers. It was funny to see it once, but to see it again was coincidental. I guess even they need to have lunch, but Tasty Kabob was nowhere in sight.
The National Book Festival means more to me since I wrote two children's books, and because I work at the Library of Congress. It was the perfect weekend for the event, so we walked over after lunch from 1st to 14th Street and back. Last year we saw a few notables, like the Librarian of Congress, and Julianne Moore. This year I didn't even recognize anyone I work with. Nevertheless it was jammed and there was a little bit of everything for everyone. We didn't have any particular author in mind to see, but enjoyed the walk and the scenery in general. And of course, the pink satchel is an absolute necessity. It comes in handy for a lot of stuff around the house. I can't think of anything quite comparable to this in Milwaukee, because it really is a one of a kind event. On Friday the Jefferson Building was closed early to prepare for the grand gala that is typical at the start of this festival. And a lot of people I work with set it up, drive around and serve the dignitaries at the grand dinners, do all the print work, and may even help provide emergency care. The behind the scenes staff don't always get the recognition they deserve. It goes without saying that it is always noticed when something goes wrong- but you know you did a good job when you don't hear anything. I'm just glad I don't have to do the take down and clean up after something like this!
Coming home to Capitol Hill from Tyson's along Independence Avenue was unusual at best. I knew about the Library of Congress Book Festival on the Mall near 14th Street, which contributed to a huge bottleneck. We are planning to check it out tomorrow when it cools down. I feel a commitment to show up since I work at the Library. Folks with pink Book Festival satchels were seen carrying their goodies all over the city. But the police presence was intense. The Aryans were kept in check on the Capitol grounds with the civil disturbance unit and canines out in full force. In front of the Supreme Court were the Smash Racism participants. Along the House Office Buildings were police standing a few feet apart in anticipation of something. We were the last car to pass before a barricade went up to allow for a HUGE and very noisy motorcade to travel up Pennsylvania Avenue. It included a bus and an untold number of motorcycles. The streets were all blocked off at Barrack's Row for the Fall Festival, making it impossible to travel directly to our house. We were trapped in our own neighborhood. My husband said we would really miss all this if we ever moved, which is why I have a feeling we never will.
As summer draws to a close, there will be less and less duck boat sightings. It is a very popular way to see the city on land and in the water. They can be boarded at Union Station and they actually dive in to the River at Gravelly Point near Reagan Airport off the George Washington Parkway. My husband says we will get on the boat about the same time we get the Mini Cooper I like so much. Neither one will ever happen, so I will continue to take photos of both and admire them from afar. Many, many years ago we actually did ride in the duck boat at the Wisconsin Dells. None of us knew any better. And one summer in Boston, there was another opportunity thwarted. As for the mini, the diehard Subaru Forester will be the automobile if choice. It's simply more versatile for every day living and can tolerate just about any kind of weather condition. We have never owned a car so long. Nevertheless, the duck boat reminds me of summer - which sadly ends far too soon.
Our vegetable garden did not do very well this year. But we did get a few tomatoes and cucumbers. The eggplant is still growing, but didn't produce one eggplant! Behind our building lives a neighbor who maintains the corner garden that is on city property, but kept up by her to make things look nice. And it really looks nice, thanks to her. I think she is a retired general. The city garden mirrors her garden that is also meticulously updated and cared for. I had not noticed that she has a peach tree, or what looks to be a peach tree, on the side of her lot. I'm not certain that the fruit is good enough to eat, but it looks fairly decent. We had apple trees in our yard in Milwaukee. The deer loved them. In fact, the deer hunters we knew used to collect all the apples that had fallen to use for their purposes. I never quite got that, but it is a BIG thing in Wisconsin. We had orange and grapefruit trees in our backyard in Florida. I always take an apple or nectarine, or peach to work after lunch. Our neighbor's plant/tree reminded me that just about anything grows around here. With the price of groceries these days, growing anything sounds like a great idea.