Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Kindness of Family

We moved to DC from Milwaukee partly because we were tired of the frigid cold winters, but more importantly because our family lived there. Our son and his family lived just down the street - until this summer - when they moved four hours away in Virginia. But my brother, his wife, and my sister have lived in this area for a very long time. Because of their proximity to us, it was a lot easier to check up on the folks down the block. It was a mutual thing...we stayed out of each other's faces, but we and they knew if anyone ever needed anything, there was never any question. For the last week, going on two, both my husband and I could be included in the flu epidemic numbers. We have not been out of the house for several days - until today. My husband finally felt "well enough" to venture out to the grocery store. Prior to this we cancelled first the Christmas Day lunch and now the New Year lunch with my family at our house because neither one of us wants to share this delightful thing with even a worst enemy. They all asked if there was anything they could do. Luckily, it hasn't been required, but it's nice to know they are there. It just feels so comforting to know we still have family around us. And it's something to be grateful for, and not taken for granted, in the new year. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Department of Motor Vehicles Medical Report for Submission Notice

Things were so much easier when you were young and feeling good! The problem is is that you didn't know it at the time. Getting a driver's license was a big deal, and renewing it was a little bit of a fuss. Now when you reach a certain age, proof must be shown that you are both medically and visually capable of driving a motor vehicle. Yes, it makes complete sense. But it is a real pain to get the paperwork completed the old fashioned way. These hard copies look like something from the 1960's. My husband received a notice that his documents were due by February or his license would be suspended. He needs to hand carry the document to both his eye doctor and his medical doctor, and hope that they return the competed form to him. Since it would never be completed at the time it was delivered, he gave the eye doctor a self addressed stamped envelope because our FAX machine doesn't exist anymore. Hopefully when it arrives, he will hand carry it to the medical doctor in the. neighborhood. Let's hope that they don't need to actually see him again in order to fill it in. There is something about "having been seen within the last three months" that worries me. Anyway, it just feels odd to have to run around like this. Maybe in the future we need to make sure our doctor visits correspond to the times we anticipate having to get all this filled in. But neither one of us even thought about it. It's a good thing this happens to probably mostly retired people who may have more free time on their hands. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Maybe I need to check the web site? I have a feeling it wouldn't make any difference. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Behind Bars

We have bars on our first floor windows. We never had bars on our windows in Milwaukee. When we first moved here, I couldn't see anything but the bars, but now they just blend in to the back ground. But now they have even more significance because we have not been out of the house since Christmas Eve. First my husband caught whatever this ugly respiratory virus is, and now I have it. I feel like a prisoner in my own house. The streets in this neighborhood are still very quiet, and I envy anyone I see walking about. In the distance are a few guys ambling towards work, or maybe just out for lunch. The UPS man just stopped by. There is a lady promenading across the street. Being sick gives one plenty of opportunity to think, and too much thinking isn't always good. This has been an unusually dreary December for us, and this just makes it worse. I'd rather be feeling well and working than be at home like this. There is no snow on the ground like there would undoubtedly be in the Midwest. My husband is finally feeling better after many days. What do I really have to complain about? I'm looking forward to 2015. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

DayQuil and NyQuil - Our Best Friends

I came home from France and England in October with and awful cold/virus thing. And as always, every year both my husband and I get flu shots. You would think that that would be enough to deter whatever illness awaits. Well, it didn't.  Since returning home from Florida over a week ago getting things in order for my elderly parents - no - it was not a vacation - my husband started getting sick. And since then it has been downhill. We cancelled our meager Christmas plans, and have stayed home ever since. He only made a run to the pharmacy to pick up more bottles of NyQuil and DayQuil. Luckily we had plenty of aspirin on hand, tea, and whatever liquid felt right. This is the first stretch of time we have gone without our daily glass of wine, and have stayed out of a restaurant. Looking at my Facebook pages made it all the More miserable. This indeed was the worst Christmas I can remember - let's make that the whole month of December. The only thing good about it is that I have had time to catch up on all my pet portrait back orders in between snoozes and coughing spells. We are supposed to have my family over on New Year's Day, but at this point I'm just not feeling like entertaining anyone. It seems every time I travel I catch something awful. I'm not sure it's worth it. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Vaso's Kitchen in Alexandria

This has been the worst Christmas I can remember. Actually, I'll call it the worst December. Both my parents are experiencing elder care issues, and now both of us got sick with this ugly viral flu thing. We cancelled any plans to have family over, and seeing Facebook was getting me even more irritable. Before all this, went for lunch last week at one of our newly found favorite places. We stumbled across it while watching a food show on TV, where the subject was places for Sunday brunch. We haven't been there for that purpose, but have gone regularly for the past couple months for lunch on Friday. When you first see Vaso's Kitchen, you might think you are in the wrong place because there is a Dixie Pig Bar-B-Q sign on top of the small building off the main roads in Alexandria. But once inside, it's quite charming and it's all about Greek cuisine. I always get the chicken souvlaki, and my husband usually gets whatever fish is on special for the day. I understand there is an upscale Vaso's somewhere on King Street. But King Street is more for tourists. So we'll stick to this place because we like it. I'm not sure when we will ever get out of the house again and make another run to Vaso's - this thing is taking forever to go away. So much for flu shots. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Etsy Cash Register

It was a very busy holiday for me. Not because of Christmas preparation, but to fill all the orders for custom pet portraits. As with most "businesses," this time of the year can be hectic. Luckily, my digital art studio is mobile and can travel with me, because all my work is hand painted using my iPad. I can't imagine trying to even attempt that with water colors or any other traditional method! In spite of that I still had to turn down several requests because I could really drive myself crazy, and every portrait requires enough time to do well. Luckily for me, several customers were willing to wait until after the holiday, so I have a few left to do. Every time a request is generated and paid for on Etsy, the sound of a cash register is heard. The other day when I was at work, my husband called to tell me he heard the sound. I thought it was for another custom portrait, but this time it was for two digital images that were already made and available for immediate download. I really like these orders because I don't need to do anything! As with any order, I always thank the customer for their business. And it is doubly nice to see a positive review on any item that is selected, whether it is a "ready-made" or custom. When Christmas came yesterday, I was thrilled to know so many of my art pieces were presented to family and friends as gifts. Many were pet memorials. Getting and receiving direct communications with folks is rewarding. It's hard to imagine where any of this will go. All I know is I really enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Wet Christmas Eve in Old Town Alexandria

We haven't gone outside since my husband came down with some horrible respiratory virus. He felt a little better today and wanted to venture out a bit. Since it is Christmas Eve, and our Christmas Day plans were canceled due to both of us feeling under the weather, we decided to take a ride to Old Town Alexandria. This has become a tradition for us since we moved here. In Milwaukee, it was Downtown Chicago and Michigan Avenue with a stop at Reza's Persian Restaurant. Here, it is Old Town. We stayed in Old Town before we moved here over a Christmas holiday many years ago. There is something about this very quaint and historical place. In fact, we just watched a history of Alexandria last night on TV, and passed by many of the places they talked a about. So many of our famous forefathers hung around here. I'm sure we have come near their footsteps. Today however, is quite dreary in more ways than one, but the raindrops actually create a more interesting backdrop for the festive decorations. It's almost ghostly, and could be even more dramatic as night falls. I do hope all of you have a peaceful evening and joyous Christmas. As my mother always said, things could be worse. We really don't have any right to complain. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

American Plant Christmas Decorations - But No Batteries

I used to just cut off the greens and branches I needed from the yard to decorate our house for Christmas in Milwaukee. There were plenty of pine cones too. Every room had something seasonal in it with twinkling lights aplenty - but they were all of the plug in the wall kind. Here, I can't exactly go in the common area if the condo yard and start whacking down limbs. So we go to American Plant to collect an assortment of greens and twigs. This year we were really delayed in getting anything done, so we waited until Sunday to make the annual trip. We were planning for company on Christmas Day so figured we better get something up. Yesterday I arranged the grouping in our wall vase,  above the picture, and in front of the TV. Then it came time to string the lights. Good grief! Who has double A batteries anymore? Of course the ones we did have lost all their juice. To make matters worse, my husband has a horrible respiratory virus and neither one of us is up for any entertaining. So for the first time in many years there will be no twinkling lights in our house. It will be a very quiet holiday this year.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Visitor Parking Pass

I really miss our two car garage and driveway with enough space for two more cars. We never had to think about or worry about finding a place to park when we lived in Milwaukee. Since moving to DC, we no longer have a garage, or even a slab to put the car. It's all street parking around here. You need to get residential parking stickers, but also visitor parking passes to hand out to guests if they dare to come visit you in the neighborhood. On holidays it's a lot easier because there are no restrictions and usually more space available. It seems like we just made this request a couple months ago. The parking passes expire at the end of the month, but technically they were outdated in September. But an extension was granted because the system wasn't ready to handle the new batch. So last month we requested our visitor parking pass and it arrived in the mail this week. There are several restrictions noted on the back of the permit. Gee, do you think anyone reads the fine print? It also comes with a map so you know exactly where it can be used. The neighborhood is deserted now for the holidays and finding a space is not as difficult. But as long as we live here we will need to continue updating our passes, and permits, and whatever else is required. It's really not that bad, just a bit annoying. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Old Fashioned Christmas Window Along Pennsylvania Avenue

No, it isn't Macy's, or downtown Chicago or New York, but it looks just as magnificent! Every year, the Coldwell Banker shop on Pennsylvania Avenue decorates four storefront windows full of Christmas scene delights. One has a big Christmas tree with snow falling on it; another has a village and a train circling around it; another has a larger complex of traditional Christmas activity. But the one we like the most is the Capitol Hill neighborhood. There are people skating, and walking near the Jefferson Memorial and the old Frager's Hardware store has a prominent spot. The Nationals Stadium is surrounded by other prominent neighborhood landmarks including Splash car wash. The National Capitol Bank of Washington and Mr. Henry's can't be missed. The Hill Center and the Folger Shakespeare Library are front and center. I love the huge colorful bright ornaments that hang from the top. No one passes by this place without stopping, and probably thinking the same things I am. It's a reminder of our Christmas past as children, and just shouldn't be forgotten.