Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Glorious Month of July

Obviously the month of July had special meaning for me. It was my parents 64th wedding anniversary on July 4th, my grandson's tenth birthday, and the most time I have had off work since surgery eighteen years ago. It was documented on four calendars - at home and at work - and no matter which one or what format I looked at, I did not work a full week for five weeks, including the end of June. After looking at these calendars today and looking ahead to August, it became clear to me why I'm having such a hard time adjusting to this extra long week. Going to England for ten days really messed up my routine clock, but putting in a full week after so many not so full weeks explains it all. I don't think I would find it hard to adjust to this kind of thing all the time. Can I have a schedule like that every month?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

English Signage Etiquette

Having just returned from a ten day trip to England visiting friends and traversing the countryside with more friends, we came upon some interesting signs. Some were safety related - looking to the right just doesn't jive with my brain - while many more were doggie related. (By the way, the dogs we met were well mannered, well trained, and always on a leash). What I found most whimsical were those warnings about human behavior - with very specific consequences. These posts are obviously meant to remind folks that a polite society is not only expected, but enforced. Do you suppose they are intended more for the locals or the visitors? 

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Best Use For Magazines

We have embraced the digital age. We no longer have bookshelves with hundreds of books that collect dust, nor piles of magazines on every flat surface in the house. Both my husband and I have iPads that we use for everything. The only magazine I kept was the issue of the New Yorker that coincides with my 2012 Eustace Tilley win. The hard copy of The Hill Rag gets changed over every month and is used as wall art in our tv room. The most recent edition of a magazine cover that will remain unnamed is used for an even more practical purpose. Rather than wear eye shades, it is used as a head cover of sorts during afternoon nap time. It's just the right weight and keeps out the light. When it gets worn it is replaced by the next copy. Who would have ever imagined? 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vacation Photos

I love photos. I take them all the time with my Iphone and use them to help describe a blog entry.  Sometimes it is a challenge to organize them all, especially after coming home from a ten day vacation - this time in England with friends there and with friends from here joining us there. What that means is about 4-5 people's versions of images they saw while they were there. What I like most is that some are more interested in the things, while others are more in tune with scenes, and others with people. Some of the best photos of my husband and me together are taken on these trips, and I really value them all. The unposed ones are the best! What I don't value is getting them transferred from a thumb drive to my almost eight year old lap top, and trying to figure out how I can transfer my iPhone photos to someone in bulk without emailing five at a time. Because the wifi connection was so inconsistent while we were traveling, the photos did not all sync with my iPad, which makes it even more confusing. Luckily it all works out in the end, and it sure beats having to take the rolls of film to get processed and waiting for them to get developed. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

To Hell With the Trees

The electric wires hanging in Alexandria are past ridiculous. And the theme continues when you head out in the opposite direction toward Great Falls and beyond. Whenever there is inclement weather, which seems to be more routine than not lately, the number of people who lose power is remarkable. It doesn't seem to matter what the season is - the ice and snow do as much damage as the wind and rain.  One of the main reasons are all the trees that are sculpted around the above hanging wires. Many of the wires have years of vines growing across them. But people around here love their trees. So much so that they refuse to have them cut until they are blown over, taking the power lines with them, directly into the roof of a house. We learned our lesson well while living in Milwaukee. All it took was one incident and anything that even looked vaguely like it might hit the house was removed. Luckily we have underground lines in DC. So I'm not going to worry about it. But someone else should. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Junior Fellows Projects at the Library

It's always nice to break up the work day with an event or presentation at the Library. I never had this kind of experience working in health care. The Thomas Jefferson papers, the newly illustrated Shanameh, and Jill Biden's children's book are the most recent sessions I attended. It's even better when they are held in the beautiful Jefferson Building, which is by far one of the most distinguished structures in the city. Every summer, the Library hosts about 40 junior fellows from all over the country who spend ten weeks working on projects of common interest. It also provides a great connection for future opportunities. My interest in seeing the projects is to talk with a few of the students and learn about their interests and career goals, see the glitter in their eyes, and remember how I felt at that age. Deacidification projects, cataloging music and newspaper photography, copyright materials, Gettysburg hand drawn maps, the Lincoln life mask, and many more items and research were on display and talked about with great enthusiasm. If you don't have kids in your household, and if you ever have any doubt about the young people in America, this kind of event completely restores your faith in the future. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Barber Shop(s)

When we first moved to DC from Milwaukee, we knew it was going to be hard to replace Joe the Barber. My husband had been visiting his establishment for many years. He first tried a place down by Union Station. He would come home with one side if his sideburns higher than the other. So he switched to a place on 8th Street. He came home with cuts and an earful of foul language - although the haircut was actually pretty good! Wanting to stay in the neighborhood he tried a little more upscale place on Pennsylvania Avenue. They were too upscale and went out if business. The person who cut his hair relocated too far from home. So he now goes to Old Town Barber in Alexandria. We happened to notice it on one of our many trips there and decided it might be worth a try.  The haircut was okay, but the price couldn't be beat. How long do you think this one will last? 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What Baby?

We just returned from a ten day trip to England. My head is still there and my stomach is somewhere in between here and there.  We are not very good travelers and it will take a month to readjust to the eastern time zone. When we first arrived there we waited in the bar at the bed and breakfast we were staying until our friends came to pick us up. Last year we happened to be in England during the Queen's Jubilee celebration. I thought for sure we would be there for the royal birth. Having been out of the loop the previous twelve hours we asked our bartender if she had heard any news about the event, and she didn't hardly know what we were talking about. At the train station the next day, there was one cover story mixed in with all the others. In the end we missed the event by two days. I think we Americans get more out of these celebrations than the locals do, if you take that one response as typical. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hill Rag Contributions

I was the sports and feature page editor of our high school newspaper. Our paper won several awards and we accepted them at Columbia University in New York. Journalism was a possible but impractical major for me at the time. So I studied nursing and made the best of it. So it comes full circle that I attempt to contribute small vignettes of observations, art, and photographs for The Hill Rag - Capitol Hill's community paper that we read every month, and use the front cover as art work in our TV room.  The first story was posted on line yesterday, and I felt like I once did when our paper was published. I'm hoping to contribute as often as possible. There is always something to talk about in this neighborhood. Please take a look and feel free to comment. And thanks Hill Rag for supporting this endeavor. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mondays, Sprinklers and Joggers

I have one more day off from our vacation to England before returning to work tomorrow. Getting readjusted to the time takes me awhile. We went to sleep at 9 PM and I got up at 6:30 AM. That is unheard of on a day off. So I decided to follow my husband's retirement routine of walking in the morning and learn the path he typically takes after dropping me off to work along the way. I've NEVER walked the streets of DC at this time of the day. Things look very different. There was a cluster of new Capitol Police recruits that appeared to be going through orientation. I never knew sprinklers existed until I saw them all going off on their designated schedules. It is definitely a time for joggers and walkers, who take advantage of the tiny bit of cooler air and temperatures, slipping under the mist of the sprinklers. There were definitely more women than men. Then the slugs started to emerge - the ones in the suits and ties trudging towards their work places. The groundskeepers were pretending not to watch as the girls passed by, the streets were empty, the dogs ran after the birds and squirrels along the Mall, and the police dog in the car growled at us! A friend of ours knows how much I like Mondays and sent me a T shirt that expresses precisely my point of view. If Monday had a face it would be slapped - whether I'm on vacation or not. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Return From Vacation Blues and the Sneaky Cucumber

Whenever we return from vacation, short or long, time of day, day of week, my husband must empty the suitcases and check the mail and do the wash before settling down. So was the case when we arrived at Dulles from Heathrow to our house around 10 PM last night. In the end it is a great idea to get everything put away. I'm still trying to figure out what time of the day it is. I do know when we left our vegetable garden was just beginning to thrive. With all the heat and thunderstorms, we were sure it would probably do something while we were away. I also knew that there was more than likely a cucumber hiding out there that would be a monster after nine days. This morning, my husband found the huge thing in the very messy, overgrown garden. We much prefer the tiny cucumbers because they not only look good, they taste better. Once they get to this stage, they look bad, and aren't as tasty. Right now I am about to take a nap, but there are so many things to do! But I suppose that is the trade off for going away. It makes me appreciate what I have, but also makes me think how much I prefer a routine. I have a feeling that cucumber would have stayed hidden out there even if we didn't go anywhere. I'm just too tired to look for any more of them. 

Goodbye England

We had a wonderful time but are ready to come home. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

From Prime to Pig

On our last full day in England we headed to Winston Churchill's birth place - the 18th century palace called Blenheim. My husband loves WC and it was quite the magnificent place and is home to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough today. Our friend has also been wanting to see the speckled pigs at the Cotswold Farm Park. You could say it was quite a contrast from the morning adventure to the afternoon. When it was finally time to head back "home," we enjoyed the beautiful countryside once again. It's been a wonderful trip with wonderful friends. It is very different from Washington DC, and Wisconsin. But in many ways it is very much the same. I need to sort out my thoughts on it all when I get back home.