Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beware Those Critters on the Patio

We've always had good luck with our vegetable garden - until this year. It's not the plant we have a problem with. It's the critters that found the plant. Because we added some grass to the larger section of the patio garden the space is now quite limited. This year we only have one tomato plant rather than two, tried a pea vine that didn't work out very well, and decided not to have cucumbers. So we put all our eggs in one basket and waited for the first tomato to ripen. It did, and we found the shell of it neatly placed on the top of the fence. I've seen a squirrel or two sneaking around there every once in awhile and I think they think they've hit a gold mine. Not so fast! My husband has been plucking the less ripened tomatoes and sitting them on the kitchen table and staying one step ahead of those critters. It seems to be working. Let's hope the furry creatures find another spot with more to offer. Until that is the case, we'll keep a look out and hope for a bumper crop. It's not so much about the yield but the process. That's why we like it here. We can even have a garden but on a much smaller scale. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

PetSmart Fish Plants Without the Fish

It's been a couple months since we lost our little Betta fish Moby Dick. I didn't think we would ever go back to a pet store for the time being anyway. We are in that phase of trying to decide if a pet is a good idea. We do however have a plant holder that can be used for a variety of things. At Christmastime I use it to decorate by filling the containers with live greens and adding a string of holiday lights. Lately it's been looking a little bare, so my husband was commenting about getting something to might it look more respectable. Most of the outside water plants are rather large and somewhat unsightly. We always had live water plants for Moby, so we decided to see what PetSmart could offer. We agreed on the usual variegated plant and then found a plastic plant that could pass for something authentic if mixed with something real - a great trick that can be used any time. When we got home my husband carefully filled the glass containers with rocks and plants. If one them should break we hope that Gingko's in the neighborhood has replacements. We really don't have a lot of greens in the house, but this is just enough. Unfortunately my flower garden was quite the bust this year. Otherwise, fresh flowers are simply the best. Maybe next time we should consider air plants. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Library of Congress Gift Shop Items - a Futuristic Display?

During my afternoon stroll along the Madison Building corridors It is not unusual to come across new displays and events. I saw Danny Kaye's daughter by his exhibit, have run in to the Librarian of Congress, and seen lines waiting for annual flu shots. In the lobby are bunches of hydrangeas for the spring and Easter season and chrysanthemums in winter at Christmastime. There was a new display being erected last week. When I went to check it out, it was a display of items that are available in the gift shop. I was expecting something a little different, but it's probably not a bad idea since the gift shop is located in the Jefferson Building across the street. The one item that caught my attention was the birdhouse made with a book roof.  I know it is probably odd and unpopular to say, but I'm just not in to hard cover or paperback books anymore. My 90 year old mother buys her books and downloads them on her iPad. Our household has only a few books in the house - everything else is digital. We left a house full if books in Milwaukee when we moved. I'm glad we did. I suppose it is appropriate that they really do belong in display cases - because it just seems so old fashioned to me. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Smithsonian Urban Bird Habitat and More on a Monday Morning Walk

I am not a morning person. But since I started working a part time three days a week schedule in March, I have forced myself to get up early on Monday to walk with my husband on the Mall. It is dreadful getting up, but I know it is a good habit. Along the way there is usually something of note. The Canna flowers are in full bloom in front of the Capitol. We used to grow them in our Wisconsin garden. The huge sunflowers stand erect in front of the US Botanical Garden. What looks to be a bus disguised as a steamboat sits by the Air and Space Museum. The newly renovated Arts and Industries building spires are striking against the morning sky. Mr. Smithson overlooks the mall as the early morning residents - including us - pass by. In front of the Museum of Natural History are two huge chunks of 200 million year old petrified wood. Between this and the Sculpture Garden is the Urban Bird Habitat. Supposedly there are 300 species of birds that live, stop by, or pass through DC. The most frequent bird we see is the lowly pigeon. The Art Museum facade is finally complete with trees growing on the roof. The US Senate Sergeant at Arms has his own private parking spot right in front of the Capitol.   Before pressing on to Pete's diner for breakfast we stop at the Library of Congress across from the Supreme Court to cool off and catch our breath for fifteen minutes. On our way back home are the black eyed Susan's or daisies draped around the metal fence peculiar to the neighborhood. Only after a shower does it feel like a huge accomplishment. And it isn't even noon yet.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Passing By the Billy Joel Concert at Nationals Stadium

It was just announced that Billy Joel would be receiving the Gershwin Award. Working at the Library, these announcements are routine. I personally never get to attend any of these events, but some of my coworkers have - Paul McCartney to name one. And in the Jefferson Building are posters displayed with all the past winners by the Coolidge Auditorium. Last evening Billy Joel had a concert at Nationals Stadium. It started at eight, so we decided to take a walk in that direction. That end of town has been transformed completely since we moved here, and there is a lot more construction going on. Several new apartments, condos, restaurants, and shops are in the works all near the stadium to South Capitol Street. We passed by several demolitions on our way over. When we reached the stadium, we heard it was a sell out concert. Many folks were bustling in while the opening act performed. We wanted to hang around and wait to hear the first couple songs. Of course, none of what we heard was familiar to my ears, and I know quite a few of his hits. I haven't been to a concert in ages, but this was the next best thing to actually being there, even though we couldn't see the stage, the performance, or even recognize the music as it bounced off the metallic stadium. So we retreated to our house only a few blocks away to the quieter, suburban Capitol Hill neighborhood. It's nice living close enough to all that action, but I wouldn't want to actually live in it. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Total Wine Store Aerator Cleaning Brush Has Other Uses?

Every couple of months the wine supply dwindles. That means a trip to The Total Wine store in McLean. Because we are usually in the neighborhood, it's only a couple blocks from our favorite Saturday morning brunch place McLean Family Restaurant. We usually get a dozen assortment of red wines. Six bottles are always the same, and the other six are various labels...but all are priced around $10.00 per bottle. We like just a bit of wine every evening - it hardly fills an eighth of the glass. We even have recyclable wine bags to carry the dozen bottles in with room enough to stuff in a cheese or two.Everything at the wine store is much cheaper than the grocery store and worth the trip. We also have a few insulated water glasses that require tricky cleaning where the junk collects in the filter/aerator parts. Lemonade clogs the vent holes more than water, but the glasses really need to be scrubbed out. Today we found a brush that might do the trick. It's for wine stuff, but it can also be used on similar type pieces. So we thought we would give it a try. A simple pipe cleaner would also work. On the way home, we thought of another use for the brush. It could be promoted as a nose cleaner... I didn't come up with that - my husband did - in jest. But maybe he is on to something big!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Southern on Washington Street in Alexandria

We have been there many times since we moved to DC. But for some reason, nothing went right today at Southern Restaurant on Washington Street in Alexandria. Maybe it's because we really didn't want to be there. We weren't sure if our grandson would be stopping by with his mother and father one last time. They would be closing on their house sometime today. The operative word is sometime - they were driving in from Virginia and we didn't know what time the close was scheduled. Today would be the absolute last day they could be considered a part of our Capitol Hill neighborhood...they bought their house eleven years ago and sold it last month on the first day it was on the market. Any way, I digress.... We asked for a table instead of a booth because we like to sit kitty corner rather than across - it's easier to share food that way. We ended up at a table that we sat across from each other which is what I wanted to avoid.  To make matters worse, I was sitting directly under a vent with cold air blowing on me. My salad looked stale and limp and was drenched in dressing; the chicken was cut in cubes rather than slices; my husband's fried chicken was mostly dark meat - one piece was white meat and was difficult to stuff in to a tiny styrofoam container; there was more gravy than mashed potatoes; the music was loud and awful. It was everything bad, except for the waiter. We will probably go back, because it's usually quite good. I think we just weren't in it today. When we see the new owners of the house we've known for 11 years, we'll need to give them our key to their front door. We've hung on to it to feed the fish in the pond out front and empty the garbage after the moving van left. This chapter is now closed - time to start a new book.