Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Vegetable Garden

We put the tomato plants in a few weeks ago on our tiny patio garden. The cucumbers were not yet available so we left a spot for them later. Since most of May was very cold and dreary, neither of the two tomato plants progressed very far. So finally after three weeks of dreariness, the sun came out and we headed to the nursery to pick out a couple cucumber plants. It's amazing what a couple days of heat does for the tomatoes! One of the plants is doing much better than the other, and has flowers blooming. The cucumber leaves are already sprouting. And rather than have the vines grow on the ground, we rigged up a trellis of sorts to get them to make their way towards the top of the fence. That way they won't get lost in the weeds and we can keep a better eye on them. We always had a garden in Milwaukee, but it was on the north side of the house and the growing season was more limited. The last couple of years have not been nice to the tomatoes. Our crops were stifled by extreme heat so it will be interesting to see how things go this time. Hopefully we will at least get something out of it. There's nothing better than a fresh tomato and cucumber right off the vine. We are really looking forward to it! It's nice to have a tiny space to live and plant in an urban environment. It just feels more like home. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Concert and Parade - Washouts?!

I forgot that the dress rehearsal for the Memorial Day concert was Saturday. It was a beautiful evening too. So we missed that. We thought about going to the televised concert last evening, but it was pouring rain. I wouldn't have minded seeing the Beach Boys - after all, theirs was the first concert I ever went to! So we watched a bit on TV instead. The crowds were really sparse. I felt bad for all the visitors and performers. This morning we took our usual morning jaunt on the mall. It was much busier than yesterday, and the crews were already dismantling the stage in front of the Capitol. But all along Constitution Avenue and the mall the streets were already closed for the parade at 2:30. Folks with large badges and t shirts touting Memorial Day parade 2016 were seen everywhere. The VIP section in front of the archives was all ready for whomever gets a perfect seat there. It used to be when we walked later in the day we would run in to these events as they were in progress. But in the hotter months we try to walk earlier to avoid heatstroke. And wouldn't you know the weather forecast is for 100% right around the time of the parade. I wouldn't be caught dead sitting or standing in rain. But I'm sure it won't stop most people from going. I wish I was a bit more adventurous - but I'm just too practical. Maybe next year?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Avoid Rolling Thunder at All Costs

As it becomes warmer in the morning, I need to get up earlier to avoid heatstroke during the AM walk. I hate mornings and have developed a habit of getting up at 9:30 AM since I retired in February. But that doesn't work in summer. In the past, we somehow ended up walking later in the day on weekends and have always run in to the rolling thunder mess around the mall on Memorial Day weekend. Luckily, we didn't see a bit of it because it was so quiet at 8:30 on Sunday! After breakfast, we thought we could outsmart the mess, and decided to search for a lampshade that needs replacement and wanted to get to McLean. That was the biggest mistake! Aside from the exit closures because of all the motorcycles around the pentagon, and the baseball game, we were stuck in a big way. So we changed over to the opposite direction and headed to Alexandria to the target store for a few items, then towards Mount Vernon just for the ride and to let the time pass so we could safely return without all the turmoil. In the meantime, we were getting thirsty and stopped at McDonald's for our favorite lemonade - which was refreshing on the way back home. We were going to go out this evening for dinner but have decided against it unless it is within walking distance. It's nice that everyone comes to the city for events and such, but it can be a real pain for the locals. I thought when we left Milwaukee we also left rolling thunder behind. Thanks goodness it's not every weekend - but there's always something else. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Portrolio for an Interview Ten Years Ago at the Library of Congress

It was exactly ten years ago to the day when we flew in to DC from Milwaukee for my interview for a job at the Library of Congress. It was on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. I had a telephone interview in February, and it took three months for a face to face interview to get scheduled. During that time I started to put together my portfolio of work to bring along with me. All of it was health care related - clinical articles I had written, articles about implementing the first bedside computer system, and all the work about performance measurement as the regional director of performance management in a very large heath care system. What did any of this have to do with the Library of Congress? It so happened that the skill set I had matched the needs of the infrastructure support services requirements to implement a performance measurement system. My little portfolio came in handy as I was later told it was the icing on the cake. It's hard to believe it has been ten years since that interview. In looking back I have fonder memories of all my health care days. But I will always be thankful to the persons who offered me the job at the library. It literally changed our lives what will moving from the Midwest to DC. I retired in February and we continue to think about where we may eventually end up. Since we already downsized to our tiny place here, we don't have any reason to change right now. It's time to enjoy the city we live in without having to work in it. I got used to that idea three months ago and have never looked back! 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Chicagoland Eskie Rescue Auction Portrait on Display

This is the second time I participated in the Chicagoland Eskie rescue spring fling auction. The winner of my custom portrait sent to me the photo of her Eskie that she wanted to have made in to a digital portrait. So I worked on it and posted the final product on my Facebook digital paintings page. She told me that she was very happy with the painting and had also posted it on a variety of Eskie sites with a lot of positive reaction from her fellow Eskie lovers. Then I received a note yesterday containing a photo of the actual painting in her frame choice as well as a photo of where it is displayed in her house. It's always so thrilling to see that something that I created is actually hanging on someone's wall, and is also eager to share her experience with everyone. It's also fun to see how customers choose to display the image - from traditional mats and frames to coffee mugs and even a ring bearer wedding pillow! Thanks so much for the positive reaction. It was a pleasure to donate the painting to the auction. I couldn't have hoped for a better outcome! 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Senate Hearing on Iran Sanctions at the Dirksen Building

We took our friends from Milwaukee to a senate hearing a few weeks ago when they were here in DC visiting. Before and since then we always look for various programs to attend during the week to get out and about, and may be even learn something to boot. Generally we go to the Library of Congress for programs and topics that we find interesting. Lately there have been a few about Madison, and the last one was about the presidents and the relationship they had with their children which was really good. So yesterday we decided to head to the Senate Dirksen building to observe the hearing about the Iran sanctions. All I can say is that it looks a lot more impressive on tv than in real life.  It was well attended, but the people who were supposed to be listening and asking questions kept leaving, particularly when they were finished with their turn. So the same questions were asked by several people because they weren't around to hear either. Some people showed up just to make a point and storm out of the room. As an observer there were a lot of flaws in this process. Makes me wonder if this is all for show. Oh - I forgot where I live! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Persian Carpet Critters and Flowers

When we lived in a big house in the Midwest we needed big carpets for all the rooms. So we had several Persian carpets that were made of silk and other materials. We even had a wall hanging in the dining room. They were simply lovely! When we moved to DC we had no space for any of them and we left them all behind. Now we have collected three over the last ten years - all about the same color scheme, with some common elements. I especially love the whimsical animals that are incorporated somehow and the beautiful flowers. The horses and birds are cute, and the Isfahan carpet we brought home from Iran is probably my favorite. The creatures look mythical but bring a smile to my face every time I look at them. I do miss our carpets but they unfortunately would not have fit in this house. I just read something today that people with less possessions are happier? I tend to agree with that and am content that we downsized to this tiny space. But I can't help but think about them once in awhile. I guess I'll need to look at some old photos and continue to appreciate the ones we live with now.