Sunday, August 31, 2014

The National Book Festival, City Tap House, and Metro

It was a dream day for my husband - a metro ride to downtown, a walk downtown to the Convention Center, dinner downtown, and a metro ride home. He is the "downtown" urban side of the family and I am more suburban with a touch of urban. If the Library of Congress National Book Festival did not change it's usual venue from the Mall to the Convention Center this year, I'm not sure when we would have taken this little trip. Since we moved here, we have attended the book festival every year. It was easy to just walk over from our house, amble around, and come home soon after. We really don't spend a lot of time listening to the authors or getting books signed - although we did the first couple of years. And we don't have kids to drag around to all those children events. We also have the advantage of hearing and seeing a lot of this type of thing on a small scale all year round by attending sessions at the Library. I just heard Doris Kearns Goodwin talk about her new book a few weeks ago. The Convention Center was an "okay" place, but it felt sterile to me. I liked the views from the third floor - you could see the Washington Monument and Capitol in the distance through the high rise structures. I prefer the flat Mall rather than three stories, but the air conditioning and acoustics were better suited here. Things started wrapping up around 5:30 even though there were events planned through 10 PM. I asked one of my colleagues there what the verdict was about the new location and he said it was fifty/fifty. We decided to stroll back towards the Mall and stopped at City Tap House for a burger. It seemed a lot of others had the same idea. We knew because they all were carrying their bright green totes from the event. For being a holiday weekend, it was very busy. When we reached the Smithsonian Metro station we descended down the squeaky elevator to return home. I'm glad we went, but it didn't do much for me.  I'm more in to all things digital, and I don't care for crowds. But I'll do just about anything for my husband. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

New Feature Opens at the US Botanical Garden

The construction is finally complete. It seems it has taken a very long time for the new section of the Lawn Terrace to open in the US Botanical Garden. We have been watching the construction over the last many months wondering what was taking so long. This is probably one of our favorite places to walk through and every season brings with it a different variety of plants, flowers, and landscapes. The new feature is on the west side, nearest to the American Indian Museum. Since a lot of folks in the neighborhood do not have yards or patios, this is a great place to come and sit and observe not only nature, but the variety of visitors that pass through. It is very serene and feels like you are far away from anything urban, except when you see the Capitol building in the distance. A pair of ducks usually takes over the pond right in front, and there is a bridge that takes you to a covered area to sit and rest. In Milwaukee, we had Grant Park a couple blocks away that sits on Lake Michigan. It was not man made, but was also a great place to stroll and enjoy the four seasons. The difference is there was primarily one season there, and I am happy to have escaped it. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gypped out of a Holiday or Two

When I worked full time over the last almost forty years, it was a pleasure to have a three day weekend.  In the private sector, we had eight holidays. But working in health care twenty four hours a day seven days a week, you didn't always have off on the actual holiday. It had to be worked in to the schedule so that you got it within that two week pay period. Gradually I made my way in to an office setting and at least had a more reasonable schedule and consistent holidays off.  Since moving to DC, I had the additional benefit of getting ten paid holiday days off instead of just eight. Since I went to part time in March of this year, my schedule changed to three days a week and from nine hour to eight hour shifts. Sunday evening is is no longer a torture. By Monday, the work week has already started. But when it comes to holidays, I gypped myself out of at least four by having every Monday off. Now when I see the holiday sign at work it doesn't mean so much to me anymore. In the end I would rather have every Monday off rather than just a few during the year. Maybe I can change a fixed work schedule to one a little more flexible...and schedule a work day on a Monday Holiday. Or maybe I can adjust six days down to five. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I Love My IPad - Just Not on my Foot

Just as "Wonderful Country" started, Robert Mitchum was thrown from his horse when a tumbleweed startled him. The horse landed on his leg and broke it. At the same time I stood up from the couch and my iPad slipped out if it's cover and landed edge up right on my foot - all one and a half pounds - just above the big toe joint. It was just last year on Labor Day Weekend that I caught my left foot on something and tore a toe ligament. It took months to feel normal again. Just yesterday I was thinking I hadn't broken a toe lately. It was getting to be an annual and irritating event. Maybe I've been lucky because I have purposefully kept my closed toe shoes on wherever I walk in the house. Luckily, after packing the injury with ice for awhile I knew the joint wasn't affected, so I felt a little better. Today it feels like a bruise and hurts when it gets touched and is black and blue. Then I think of my poor mother who just tripped and fell and needed hip surgery two weeks ago. I should just shut up. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

American Ballet Theatre Exhibit at The Library of Congress

I'm not sure how it is today, but when I was young it was pretty routine to take ballet lessons. I actually preferred tap dancing because I simply didn't have the right kind of arches in my feet, but I was certainly tall and skinny enough to play the part. I was also introduced to lambs wool and stuffing toes in to the special pink slippers and tying the ribbons just so. Perhaps the names of the dance moves influenced my decision to take French in high school and college. When we lived in Milwaukee we saw the Bolshoi Ballet on a road trip to Chicago. On my most recent afternoon walk in the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, a new exhibit was set up in the performing arts reading room. It's called "American Ballet Theatre: Touring the Globe for 75 Years." It explores the history of the dance company using some of the more than 50,000 items in the collection. The exhibit is open until January 24, 2015. Probably one of the biggest perks of working in the  Library is coming across exhibits and interesting programs throughout the year. And all I have to do is walk around the halls to find and see them. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

GW Parkway Emergency

There are always sirens going off around us. Police, fire, ambulances abound.  Lately there seem to be an unusual number of mishaps along the George Washington Memorial Parkway. This time looked a little different. It wasn't a vehicular accident blocking the path. I saw a police boat in the water and a camera crew perched on the other side of the drive. It's not uncommon to hear about drownings in the Potomac related to undertows. Unfortunately someone had deliberately driven their car right in to the river. I may have a down day here and there, but how horrible it must feel to want to do something as drastic as this. There's not a lot the police can do about it. It just reminds me that every day matters. How sad for someone who can't seem to make that sound right. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

DC Taxes and Service Requests

Two things are for certain as they say - death and taxes. Twice a year we receive the obnoxious letter in the mail letting us know it is a privilege to pay for property tax. We know most things that arrive in the snail mail are generally items we dislike - junk mail and bills that can't or aren't sent on line. I like the way it is spelled out in several languages. But at least rather than having to write a check, you can pay for it on line using the on line banking system. The property taxes in Milwaukee were quite steep compared to what we pay in DC. But our home is considerably smaller here. And I do have to say the services in Milwaukee were far superior to the services we receive here. It's always a chore to get something done around here. Some routine maintenance shouldn't require reminders. I guess we wouldn't mind paying taxes if we felt we got something out of it. Let's see how long it takes for the grass to be mowed, the garden bed to be weeded, and the hedges to be trimmed on the city property adjacent to our building. I sent a request last week asking for the work to get done and received a tracking email soon after. That unsightly mess makes the building look tacky sitting right next to it. Based on that alone the property value should decrease, but I doubt if the taxes would.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

An Afternoon With The Madison's and Roger Mudd at McLean Community Center

We learned about the event a couple weeks ago when we went for breakfast at our favorite place at McLean Family Restaurant right off Dolley Madison Boulevard. The announcement was posted in the window and looked like an interesting idea. So we asked our friend to join us and we rode out to McLean Community Center to visit with Dolley and James Madison. The McLean Community Center was packed with people waiting to get a free ticket and enter the auditorium. We ended up in the balcony and had a good view. Roger Mudd gave the introduction. He was very charming and his voice sounded so familiar. From then on I can only say that I was glad that we went but was so happy when it ended. It was really warm, I couldn't hear a thing, and was just hoping it would end. I do have to say that the fizzy lemonade at the reception was quite good. All in all, I'm glad we did go having just been to Montpelier a few months ago. We saw where the real James and Dolley lived. It is hard to believe that this city was burned, and the Capitol building is only two blocks from where we live. Sometimes using your imagination is more interesting than going to these types of things. I need to keep that in mind the next time we see a flyer for an event.