Sunday, January 30, 2011


One block from the House Office Buildings and metro stop, a sign was erected 5 years ago announcing that 8 new condo/townhouses were going to be built on Capitol Hill. The housing market was red hot! The units were actually completed about 2 years ago, and priced from $2-4 Million +. At this time, there appears to be one occupant, and the rest of the units remain vacant. One of the least expensive units is currently on the market for $850,000. Yes, the housing prices have dipped. But this must be a real deal! But gee, do you think the backyard may have something to do with the lack of interest?
They look nice enough........

But what is this about 10 feet from the back of the house?
Maybe they won't notice?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011


One of my very reliable colleagues told the story today of reaching home eight hours after he left work on Wednesday afternoon. He is originally from New York, and lives 50 miles away in Virginia. Because of the "snow," the buses don't run on typical schedules, so he had to take the metro to the bus stop in Virginia. Once there, the bus inched its' way towards the park and ride, only to be turned back or stopped by little "hills" and abandoned cars. From the bus, the passengers watched in disbelief as drivers left their cars facing any which direction, cluttering the streets, making vehicle traffic even more difficult. Because the bus could not climb the hill, the passengers suggested that an alternate route be taken. But the driver did not speak English, and was trying to get approved route directions through the dispatch service. The group of passengers tried a variety of things... in order to get more traction, everyone was asked to go to the back of the bus. But, everyone did the opposite of what was asked of them, causing more confusion. One individual was having a "claustrophobic moment" and demanded to be released from the bus- which the rest of the passengers quickly obliged. In fact, they may have pushed her out the door for being so distracting.  Once the band of frustrated and tired passengers were able to get moving a little more, they finally ended up stopping at a CVS type place to take a break. By now it was 10PM. A few of the folks were now within 1-2 miles of walking distance to their final destinations and walked out. The owner of the store said she would keep it open until midnight. All the while, she was cashing in on primarily liquor purchases, and several of the folks asked to use the power supply to recharge their dead cell phones. Many had made contact with family members, who were attempting  to reach the store to pick up their family/friends. My colleague, however, still had 12 miles to go to the park and ride. His son wanted to pick him up at the store with the old reliable 4 wheel drive. But my colleague said another woman he was with was afraid of being abandoned, so he said he would "do the right thing" and wait with her until her ride came. In the meantime, my colleague's son went to the park and ride, got the car "dug out" and drove it home; when he told his father what a wonderful thing he had done, my colleague asked him "what did he think he was supposed to drive himself home in when he reached the park and ride?" Back at the CVS, everyone was waiting for their ride to appear. A pair of headlights glowed on the very dark road. Everyone was so excited to think that maybe a police presence or someone would finally arrive to help. When the door opened, a women in her slippers and bathrobe entered the store carrying a pizza. She asked the store owner if she could borrow her microwave to heat the cold pizza. You see, her power supply had been cut off, and she was hungry........ I don't think she offered a slice to anyone who was standing there looking aghast at what had to be an even more ridiculous sight. My colleague's son eventually arrived to pick him up. Upon entering his home, he made his way to the wine cabinet and ended the dreadful evening. He did not make it back in to work the next day. But 2 days later he was able to tell this surreal story. QUESTION: if there ever was a REAL emergency, how on earth would this city be evacuated? I don't believe it would.

Call me old fashioned, but we always get the gas tank filled whenever it is at half- to avoid getting in to an emergency situation. Our motto is to prepare and take care of what you have control over, because there is so much that you don't have any control over. The common sense gene has been lost in this town. I do not know how executive decisions are made by some of these same individuals!
How would this city be evacuated in a real emergency?

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Yes, it snowed a good four inches on top of a lot of ice. The neighbors are not very good at cleaning up the sidewalk(s). The "walkable path" abruptly stops where the property ends, and where city property begins.... heaven forbid if someone would just shovel the area for safety sake. Our son typically does the clean up around the whole block, but he is not available this week! The snow piles are particularly bad at the crosswalks. And of course, the mattress that was so proudly standing at the bus stop last week has now toppled over, with a fresh crust of snow/ice and a few dog paw prints across it. Maybe someone will use it as he/she waits for the bus. I am betting this eyesore does not get removed for months to come. Just try NOT cleaning your sidewalk "up north."
If you fall on the slush, there is a nice comfortable place to land

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Another icy, snowy day on Capitol Hill. I never heard of "thunder snow" until today. Walking home was really treacherous, and we all got to leave two hours earlier than usual because it is so awful. We left the great Midwest to get away from this stuff.... maybe we need to keep moving south. Glad to be home!

A view from the 6th floor on an icy,  snowy day

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Our friend "up north" had a metal detector that he used to scour the grounds after the fourth of July fireworks on the lake shore or after weekend festivities. And he usually found some interesting things. My husband takes daily walks to the Mall and typically finds coins. But lately, there have not been a lot of coins to scoop up. However, after big events and rallies on the Mall, it is a wise thing to look down and keep your eyes open. Today it was not just $10.00 lying on the ground - there was another $5.00 folded inside!
You never know what you will find


On the way home from work there was a sign from the Roe v. Wade rally today stuck in a construction fence. There were also several flyers scattered about and lying on the sidewalks. The police reports flashed many incidents of traffic violations around the neighborhood all day, and there was a lot of chatter prior to the event regarding the number to call in case of parking abuses.

One Reported incident: "Well, I called 311. It didn't work. There are dozens of tour buses parked in crosswalks, next to fire hydrants and in bus stops all around Stanton Park. This happens every, single year. So, since it's clear this isn't going to be a subject of traffic enforcement, my question is this: Why is the this group special? I can't think of another group that gets to park tour buses on Capitol Hill. Other groups park buses at RFK and use the metro or (gasp!) walk to get to the mall. Is there something special about this groups permit that lets them use Capitol Hill as a parking lot? Looking forward to a response!"
Response: "We had officers in the area conducting enforcement today to address this as well."

And for tomorrow.....

Traffic Advisory: State of the Union Address Street Closures
On Tuesday, January 25, 2011, President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address will take place in the United States Capitol at approximately 9:00 pm. The Capitol Square will be restricted to event credentialed and authorized pedestrians only beginning at 6:00 pm. on Tuesday, January 25, 2011.  

Additionally, the United States Capitol Police will put the following street closures into effect on January 25, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. and will lift these street closures when this event has concluded: many streets listed......

We absolutely try not to take the car out on days like this. 
The aftermath of any rally held on the Mall

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Prior to navigation systems, and before we moved here, finding the right exit to arrive at our destination was difficult- particularly if it was around rush hour time. The one thing good about rush hour is that it gives you more time to move from one side of the freeway to the other. When the traffic is moving at a fast clip, it is IMPOSSIBLE to get over to the other side of the freeway even when you know where you are going. After merging onto the right side of the freeway, the first sign we think we need to follow is on the LEFT side, so we make our way over from the right side to the left side. Once on the left side, the signage changes to the RIGHT side, so we need to move BACK over from the left side to the right side. Once we figured it out, it was easy enough. But to a novice driving in this town, it was VERY confusing and frustrating. We missed the exit on several occasions and then made sure we had our navigation system in hand before we moved.  A lot of other people make the same mistake. It is not unusual to see an accident at this very exit due to the confusing signs and the confused drivers. Neither one of us knows how we ever got to where we needed to be when we had to rely on maps alone!

We thought we needed to move over to the LEFT lane
only to realize we had to move back over to the RIGHT lane!

There is not a lot of time for all these maneuvers.
The perfect set up for an accident waiting to happen- and they unfortunately do.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


There really is a hill. This is Independence Avenue with the House
office buildings on the right and the Capitol building is on the left.


We went for lunch in McLean Virginia and along the way, on I-395 to the George Washington Parkway, the clouds seemed to be dancing around the monuments. The shadows and sunlight created an interesting contrast on the beautiful structures below.
South Capitol Street & the House Office Buildings

Near the Tidal Basin 

The ducks and geese have a great view

Friday, January 21, 2011


I don't recall anything but 4 streets that meet at an intersection. It is not uncommon for FIVE streets to converge at one intersection here. It can be somewhat confusing to figure out who has the right of way. There have been several near misses at this particular intersection in our neighborhood. There have also been a lot of horns blasted from impatient drivers (can you imagine?) who think they can move forward, but they would actually be going through a red light. Case in point: You are stopped in the left lane at the intersection in road #3 and want to turn left. The driver behind you is blasting his horn at you. What should you do?


Thursday, January 20, 2011


As we were walking to work this morning (me to work, he for his daily trek down the Mall) my husband mentioned that "it's been nice not to have a problem with the apartment lately." As he said that, I noticed the stop light was not working at one of the intersections, but did not think much about it. Then I got a call from him saying that the electricity was out in the building, that the corridors were completely dark because the emergency lights did not work, and he locked himself out of the apartment. Luckily, we have a way to get in to the apartment using another approach. The worst part about it was the rest of the block had power. Fortunately, the electricity was restored within four hours. We used to have the same problem in the old neighborhood. There was nothing more irritating than to not have power and look at the homes across the street that did.  On the way home for lunch, I saw Rep. Barney Frank, and another delightful antique on the sidewalk in the historic district. I heard somewhere today that DC is one of the "rudest" cities. As I think about it, I did have several doors slammed in my face (not unusual), and had to walk around several people on the sidewalk who don't move over even when they see you approaching a mile away. I may start using my elbows because "excuse me please" never seems to work.
Another antique beautifying the neighborhood.
It probably won't get picked up for months.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


With every election comes a major change in office space re locations and unloading & redistribution of supplies and materials. One office move shakes up the whole place. The basement corridors are literally lined with blocks of file cabinets, couches, tables, and supplies. It is really a sight to see. Can you imagine all the manpower it takes to move all this stuff from point A to point B? Only to know it's going to happen again in 2 years? Our offices changed maybe once every ten years.... I guess that is why the new modular wall units would work better in this kind of environment.
Miles of tables,file cabinets, and couches

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


It was a slippery day today. The ice/snow mix always creates havoc here. But in all honesty, it is actually treacherous to walk just two blocks to get to work because there is no salt on the sidewalks that early in the morning. Along with the ice comes the option to arrive to work two hours after the usual start time. You better believe that every federal employee is either on the phone, tweeting, or checking the Internet to see if the federal government is opened or closed on days like this. The option of not going to work never occurred to us "up north." You simply set your alarm earlier and went without even thinking twice about it. But, the side streets, roads, and the expectation that neighbors clear their sidewalks was a given there.  People around here aren't as responsive to clearing their sidewalks, regardless if it is a little ice, or a few inches of snow.

Monday, January 17, 2011


As a Federal employee, it is really nice to have the Martin Luther King holiday off today.  I appreciate it because after 30 years of working in the private sector, we did not have all the extra holidays. The pictures are fuzzy, but they show the status of the MLK monument that is being built off Independence Avenue, across from the WWI Monument (that is currently under renovation).
"Building the Dream"

All construction projects are hidden behind the
specially made in-laid wooden fences,
 regardless of what the project is

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I can't say this is my favorite type of "art." But there was a similar piece located in the downtown area by Lake Michigan. And it was the same color. This sculpture is located on the Mall. We were driving home today along Jefferson street, which runs parallel to Independence Avenue along the Mall. If one prefers to take the car, Sunday is a great day to drive around this area because it is easier to find parking, and is much less busy than during the week. Of course, it is also January.

Sculpture on the Mall

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I'm not talking about the human kind of visitors. Cold temperatures and a LOT of construction going on all around (and below) us disturbs the creatures. Luckily, these critters are not the size of house cats, but certainly we don't want them in the building.  Our little storage shed on the patio is a nice alternate living space for them. They occasionally showed up in the basement "up north."  I didn't like them there, and I certainly don't like them here.
Let us in!

Friday, January 14, 2011


Ah yes... Capitol Hill is noted for it's stately row houses, parks, federal buildings, and monuments. Signs are posted around the neighborhood to designate where the geographic area actually begins and ends.

One must adhere to the strict historic standards
for all renovations

An "historic couch" anyone?

Thursday, January 13, 2011


The last thing I want to do in the late afternoon in freezing temperatures and gusty winds is have to go outside and stand for an hour because of a REAL evacuation alert at work. At least I was dressed for the part. Several folks come to work, park in the garage, and don't have coats. We knew it was "for real" because the drills usually occur in the "pleasant temperature" months.  So the hundreds of occupants trekked down the stairwell and to their designated places, all heads were accounted for, and then we sought shelter in an adjacent building. By the time the "all clear" was sounded, it was time to go home.
The response was quick, but it was COLD outside!


Okay, no one LIKES going to the dentist. But it's never been easier, or better, than in our neighborhood. It is a state of the art establishment, has been in this location for over 20 years, and the outcomes are always favorable. There are 4 dentists, three of them are female. This is not the first time we've needed to make unexpected appointments.  And every time, the office is more than accommodating, extremely efficient, and the explanations of the care being provided are very understandable. The best part is that we only have to walk one block to it. And on a potential snow day here in the capitol city, it was a snap to get to where we needed to be. The streets were deserted for a 7AM appointment. I wish I could say the same positive things about the medical care, but that's for another time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1:11 on 1.11.11

My husband tells me he looked at the clock this morning at 11:11 AM. I told him that was interesting because the date today is 1.11.11! Of course, that sort of thing could have happened here or there. But the chance of it happening again? Probably not in our lifetime.


A "routine" view on an evening walk....beautiful!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Call us old fashioned and generally tidy (or Midwestern), but we have this horrible tendency to follow the rules - particularly when they are clearly stated. You could call it a clash of the cultures. Case in point: disposal of trash and garbage. There is very limited space in the disposal area to support all the occupants of the building, and trash is picked up twice a week. We've had packing "peanuts" fly all over the courtyard and into our garden, huge boxes left opened and filled with rain water (the mosquitoes love it), and large pieces of furniture dumped in this small area.  And oftentimes there are trails of coffee and peripheral trash from the elevator along the first floor leading out to the disposal area. The recycling containers are commonly filled with garbage. When we first moved here, the cleaning crew would have to move all the garbage from the designated spaces inside the building to the disposal area. To cut back on cleaning expenses, but more importantly, to create needed storeroom space, it was deemed appropriate for each occupant to move their own trash. "I might slip on the ice" and "It's dangerous to go out back at night to empty trash" was rationale used to maintain the expensive trash disposal service. At our private residence, we always took our trash and recycling to the curb ourselves. Is this what community living is all about? All new owners and occupants receive the guidelines handbook and bylaws. Doesn't seem like everyone reads them, even when they are plastered in front of their faces.
The "rules" are clearly written and  posted by the disposal area

The rules are rarely followed or enforced
"break down large boxes; if it doesn't fit in a garbage bag,
the crew does not have to take it- and they might not."

Saturday, January 8, 2011


We moved away from the Midwest to escape the snow and ice. Ha! The weathermen here get absolutely frantic and relay such panic if an inch or two of the fluffy stuff is on the way. This morning there was a slight dusting, which was even pretty- especially if you don't need to be anywhere. Last year the snowfall beat all records and was absolutely ridiculous. I never had a day off from work due to the snow. I guess one needs to move even further south to get away from it completely. Don't be so cavalier about leaving your lumberjack hats and full length down coats behind... it FEELS just as cold here. It just doesn't last as long. And they call Chicago the windy city? It's ALWAYS windy here. And it is a trick to land at the airport without feeling it.

A light dusting of snow on the patio - very picturesque!

This record breaker from last year, netted a week off from work!

Friday, January 7, 2011


Although the homes are uniquely beautiful, the sidewalks are not. I know of several embarrassing and painful situations where sidewalks are always involved. One of our neighbors fell on the way to work and broke her kneecap; I slipped coming home from work and split my lip; my husband took a tumble but luckily was "winter padded" enough to break the fall; and a friend visiting from the Midwest landed on her face. Another friend bruised up her face in Old Town. Imagine the surprise to greet your spouse with a mouth full of blood and a possible broken tooth when you thought you were going to sit down for a peaceful and quiet afternoon lunch! So, look down when you're walking or you could suffer the consequences. The only time one of us fell in our old neighborhood was when the dog's leash got tangled up in my legs. Now that is a legitimate excuse! Even at work, on a flat surface, the halls are so slippery that people are sliding and falling all the time. One of my colleagues broke a shoulder and another got a very swollen knee.

High heels anyone?


We love the homes on the Hill. Most on our block were built in the late 1890's.  When we need more space, we take a walk down the strret.
Our son and Daughter-in-laws home

Thursday, January 6, 2011


"ROAD CLOSED" is one of the more common signs around the city. That's not so bad, but they stay up for soooooooooo long.  This one has been up for two years, if not longer.  If you don't have a GPS navigation system, you really need to get one.  This sign sits at the entrance ramp to the George Washington Parkway towards Arlington, a very heavily travelled road. The GW Parkway is one of the most scenic and beautiful parkways. The views of the city are spectacular, as long as you can get on to it.
A too familiar sight

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Yes, the city does cut down dead trees and overgrown hazardous branches in the neighborhood. The city even plants new trees that require replacement. They must have missed this one huge branch that surprises unsuspecting vehicles when the driver makes a right turn on to the freeway.  It's been known to scratch the right side of a car if a tight turn is taken. But, it's quite the conversation piece, especially when it is in full bloom in the summer months. I suppose I could access the city's website and report the nuisance.... I've used the site many times before to report street lights that aren't working and submit requests to get the grass mowed in the public places adjacent to our condo property. Surprisingly, responses to the issues are rather timely.
This tree branch has reached out and grabbed some unsuspecting vehicles

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Is it easier to care for a tiny fish or a big dog? It's a tough call... we went to a dog show in Maryland to visit the borzois.

Don't see a lot of borzois here! We miss her.

"G," short for "GW," even shorter for "George Washington" needs a lot of attention!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


If you need to make an appointment (doctor, car, etc) it's best to schedule the first time directly after lunch. That way, you can avoid all of the rush hour traffic in the morning and late afternoon. And, the likelihood of being taken care of "on time" is greatly enhanced.


We now only have one car, insurance for one car, and don't care if it gets scratched or bumped. We fill the tank maybe every other week, if even that often. The car hardly needs service because the miles driven are so low. We needed two cars to get anywhere in our old neighborhood, and they had to be outfitted with every gadget and comfort item available. Here, the dentist is one block away, the doctor, salon, barber shop, groceries, and every kind of restaurant and entertainment are all within walking distance. The metro stop is less than two blocks away, and cabs are readily available. Zip cars are around, and bicycles can be rented on about every other corner. I walk to work two blocks away, come home for lunch and squeeze in a cat nap. It used to take an hour each direction driving to and from work- even longer in the snow and ice. We could actually get by without even having a car, and maybe one day, we will. We're not quite ready to go that route! We still need a car for occasional day trips, bulk shopping, going to our favorite neighborhood in Old Town Alexandria, exploring the city & surrounding areas, and picking up friends from the airport & giving personal tours of the city!