Monday, March 31, 2014

Congressional Cemetery

We visited here one time when we first moved to DC.  In fact, our daughter in law has roots in DC and her grandparents are buried here. But the reason we came to Congressional Cemetery today was to explore dog walking options. It is known for it's thirty three acres completed enclosed by high fences - the perfect dog run in an urban environment. Our friend lives somewhat near the place and has an annual membership that allows her to wall her dog there. Apparently there is a long waiting list. It would be a far distance  for us to take a pooch, and we are hoping for closer in options. But while we were there, we had an opportunity to get in a good walk on a delightfully sunny afternoon with some spring freshness. We checked out some of the more well known inhabitants there including John Phillip Sousa, Matthew Brady, and J. Edgar Hoover. The DC jail sits right next to the place. The groundskeeper unlocked the chapel door... they used to slide the coffin in a side door, and slide it out the other side. The chapel holds up to ninety people. One of the more interesting stones had an epitaph written by a gay military man. We saw a few dog walkers but apparently they prefer the mornings and evenings more. We stopped in the main office and inquired about the cost of internment - starting around $4,000 on the lower east side to $8,000 on the "higher ground." It was am interesting walk to say the least. It kinda reminds you to appreciate every day as it comes - sort of sad, spooky, and inspirational all at the same time. Maybe the tennis court with the high fence down the block will do. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Driscoll's Strawberries at Harris Teeter and Safeway

We usually go to Harris Teeter in the neighborhood for groceries. Occasionally my husband travels to the Safeway in SW if he is in the mood. After Saturday brunch in McLean, he also stops by the Safeway across the street from the family restaurant right off Dolly Madison Parkway to pick up odds and ends. He loves going to the grocery store.  Yesterday he picked up a big box of Driscoll's strawberries for $3.50. Earlier in the week he got a smaller box of Driscoll's strawberries for $4.00 in DC. I remember a lady from Virginia who was standing in front of us at a grocery store a while ago who said the prices for food in DC are ridiculous. On the surface it looked like she was correct. When we came home, I noticed the more expensive smaller box with the green label was from Mexico and the strawberries were organic. The larger box was from California and non organic. So we took a taste test. If you like firmer strawberries the organic won the prize. If you like sweeter strawberries, then the "regular" and cheaper strawberries were the clear winner. I suppose it depends what you are after and ultimately what you can afford. But what's the excuse for the cherry preserves? For the same bottle of jelly, you get to pay $5.50 in DC and $2.90 in McLean. Yes, the jelly was on sale, but it seems a lot of things there are always on sale. I was talking to a colleague last week and asked him where he might want to retire. He thinks he may return to Texas even though he really likes Virginia, citing how much more expensive it is to live around here. This is just one example of how right he is -  but at least he's paying less for groceries than we are. But Texas doesn't appeal to either one of us. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Plant a Tree - Put Down Roots in your Neighborhood

Every one loves trees. On this soggy spring day there was an event going on in Garfield Park, just down the street from us called Plant a Tree - Put Down Roots in your Neighborhood. Luckily we have underground power lines here, so it is less of a concern, unless one of them actually hits your house. We can say that because it actually happened to us in Milwaukee. A huge tree came down on a power line during a storm, and pulled the cables off the house creating a serious electrical hazard. We had no power for almost a week. But this occasion and signage is very catchy and suits the neighborhood. In the end, the trees probably liked the rainfall making for a good planting. The guy who strung his red hammock between two trees in this park last weekend will have more choices. The kids will have more climbing options. The squirrels and birds have more hiding places. Since most homes around here do not have much of a backyard, the park affords them a place of respite, a place to walk the dog, and have a conversation. As we passed by this place my husband said it would be hard to leave this place. He likes this whole urban vibe and I like the suburban feel. These kinds of things make it all seem so neighborly. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Cookies, Cake, Chocolate and Cards

This week was a milestone birthday for someone in our house. And he doesn't care if the day is remembered or celebrated claiming it is a cultural thing. In spite of that, he gets remembered whether he likes it or not. First was a cake and candle at the restaurant with a dear friend. He absolutely HATES anything public like that. Then came a gift of chocolate. He received two traditional cards in the snail mail from very dear people in Milwaukee that he used to work with, and two e cards from one grandson and our friends and neighbors from the Midwest. Of course, the kids called too. On my Facebook page he got all the hugs and kisses from all our connected friends and relatives. We celebrated with leftovers, a glass of wine and a toast for another happy and healthy year. And last but not least was the doorbell that rang and our grandson, who lives just down the street, arrived with a plate of chocolate chip cookies. He's been doing that just about since the time we moved here - from the age of two to ten - first with mom and dad, and now on his own. We asked him what he will do next year, because for the first time his family will be moving out of town three hours away. He thought about it for a second and then left. Of course, I wished my husband happy birthday about every fifteen minutes and am still wishing it two days later. We like to think every day is a birthday celebration, but it's still nice to be remembered - even if it is a cultural thing. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Illustrating the Persian Book by John Renard

One of the perks of working at The Library of Congress affords me the opportunity to be aware of and attend programs that otherwise might be missed. Today was such an occasion, and the subject matter was all Persian. My husband and two of our friends who traveled with us to Iran five years ago, joined me here at work and we walked over. As a part of celebrating the "Thousand Years of the Persian Book" exhibit currently on display in the Jefferson Building, an all day program was scheduled. The speaker, John Renard, was enchanting and a great story teller. The presentation about "Illustrating the Persian Book: The Happy Marriage of Literacy and Visual Narrative" was wonderful. In the audience were several poets visiting from Iran who would shortly be on their way to New York and LA. My husband spoke to one of them right before the catered luncheon of Middle Eastern treats. The only bad part was I couldn't stay to hear the panel discussion in the afternoon. There will be several more programs offered through September. We've attended so many that we have become friends with Hirad, the specialist who coordinated this event and works in the Library's African and Middle Eastern Division. It all takes place in the beautiful Jefferson Building. I never had this kind of opportunity in Milwaukee. The only thing I missed was an afternoon nap. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Williams-Sonoma and Ace Hardware

For whatever reason a couple of our Apilco cereal bowls got chipped. We purchased a few Apilco items when we first moved here. We no longer had any of our china or every day items from Milwaukee. This dinnerware was the same as our son's down the street and they guaranteed this brand was virtually indestructible - and for the most part they were right. Also, in the rare instance we were ever in need of more items, we could borrow from their plentiful supply. Luckily there is a Williams-Sonoma store in Alexandria right on Washington Avenue. While in the neighborhood we decided to check the Ace Hardware just down the block for shower curtain rings. We just repainted the apartment, got a new shower curtain, and were in need of very simple, clear rings. I always like seeing the customers get treats at the register there. I'm not so sure Willams-Sonoma allows pets in their store. The tails would probably knock over too much of the valuable merchandise. In a hardware store it hardly matters. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Parkmobile in DC

We rarely drive in to downtown DC to park. But I needed to stop at Utrecht Art Supplies on I Street NW and run a few other errands at Staples and CVS while we were there. When I saw the green signs going up in our neighborhood I got the parkmobile app quite awhile ago just in case we ever had to use it. Using a credit card or change is a pain in the neck. So we tried it out for the first time. While my husband was searching for change in the car, I clicked on the app. I couldn't believe how easy it was. You just basically need the zone number to input, then figure out how much time you'll need. I didn't expect the three emails that followed as well as the alerts that document the initiation of the transaction, when you have fifteen minutes to expiration with an option to add more time, and an expiration. The only drawback is a forty cent transaction fee for all this convenience. My husband was irritated I went ahead without him because he wanted to see how it was done. The hardest part will be to remember yet another password. He said he would just call me for it whenever he finds the need to use it.