Welcome to my blog!

I used to blog here mostly using local photos about my neighborhood or Washington DC or other places I visited. But I took a break from the blog for a few months and then found myself posting about crafts and sewing projects I have done or are doing. More recently, my spare time is taken up with selling collectibles and things on Ebay as a seller called Mugsim7. Having a lot of fun with it so far! May your days be blessed with miracles, surprises and creativity too!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fountains are Cool

My neighbor has a fountain in his front yard and I've been thinking about adding one too. Some little splashy thing, perhaps one that birds can also bathe in. The fountains pictured here are up on Capitol Hill and are a delight to walk past in the morning, if my job compels me to go to the Hill in the morning. One fountain is slightly hidden on a plaza between the Senate buildings and the Korean war monument.  I was up there again recently and saw the other more famous fountain with those very nude Neptune and Nymphs boldly splashing in front of the old Library of Congress building. When I got home, the temperature had dropped even more from the 80s into the 70s and it just was so much cooler and more comfortable. There was even a good breeze as well so I watered my plants and the tree in the street and hosed off the birdie doo and flower pollen from the car and generally had a good time squirting water about, pretending to be a water goddess. Thank God for living in a watery zone!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Not Your Typical Watergate

It took me 45 minutes on the bus this morning to get to work because of some tie-up along H Street NW just before Chinatown, but it did give me time to look out the window and notice how the building height limitation in D.C. (less than 10-21 storeys?) means that the streets haven't become canyons and you don't get the sense of being in a "downtown" area. That is, since all the buildings for the several square miles of DC are about the same height, there is no concentration of sky-scrapers. By the way I love the french word for skyscrapers (les gratte-ciels). All the streets have the about the same height and the a rchitecture is quite varied. The Kennedy Center and the Watergate apartment buildings are examples of older styles of "modern" architecture subject to the same limitation and I snapped them together recently using the miracle of a cell phone camera.. However, now there's a lot more glass and modern buildings than when I first came to DC 25 years ago. There's still  lots of older brick and stone buildings and quite a few churches scattered about downtown but it's changing. Apparently, at one time, the churches were the tallest buildings in town! Chinatown is always interesting as that corner is looking more and more like New York City with the live video screens and huge crowds crossing the road and the general hurly-burly there. I do remember when that section of the city was quite run-down and bedraggled, that is, before they built Verizon (used to be MCI) Center and restored some of the buildings on 7th street. Growth and change is not so strange when its incremental!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Watching the Gardening Flower

On Sunday mornings I usually have an hour or so to relax since we usually go to Church at 5 p.m. and this morning was no different. I sipped my coffee and watched my garden grow from the front porch and it was just a delight. The new rose bush has the brightest crimson flowers, the pink crepe myrtle is about to peak with its frothy fronds, the roses of Sharon are blazing away, the little red gold marigolds are starting up and even a few day lilies are still hanging about. An interesting smoky dark blue bird, slightly larger than a sparrow, hopped along the neighbor's fence with something wriggly in his beak, catching my eye due to his (her?) lovely color. There was an amazing breeze that swept into the tree across the street making the leaves rustle and rattle and making me think of rivers and trees. Feeling energized, I watered every plant that called out to me, "Me thirsty!" and then transplanted a few seedlings into bigger spaces so they could grow better, taking care to make sure I didn't rip my back out again. But it was glorious and sunny and stayed that way all day even when I went inside and cooked Sunday dinner.
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Back in the City after Visit to Greener Virginia

Driving back into the city today after visiting family members in Virginia I noticed all the tourists in town and how they were enjoying themselves looking at all the spectacular monuments and buildings that there are to see. In particular, I seemed to get stuck behind at least three open air double decker red buses loaded with lolly-goggling out-of-towners looking at all the sights. I'm not sure if these buses give an audio tour for them but judging from the number of times I got stuck behind one of these red former London city buses, it would seem like the tour goes all over the Mall area, where most of the critical sights are located. Even though it was past sunset the tourists were on the bus, cameras flashing from the bus upper deck, at the views of Congress and the Korean war monument nearby. I just don't see how they got a picture at all! Earlier in the day, on my way out to Virginia, I'd seen crowds of tourist groups all over the Mall. One group of 12 year old girls, all dressed in lime green T-shirts (so they could find each other?) crossed Constitution Avenue in unison while there were also families pushing children and babies in strollers in the 90 degree heat, standing at intersections, wondering which way to go next. I marveled at their willingness and persistence in clambering up all the steps at the Archives building and the Lincoln Memorial, both of which seemed to attract many visitors today. After spending most of the day in the green rolling fields and suburbs of Virginia, I thought how interesting and pleasant and historic Washington, DC looked in comparison. I'm so glad to live in this city sometimes!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Buses Are Hidden Secret of Getting around DC

Even though I sometimes grump about the Metro bus system here in DC, I have to say overall I really enjoy going by bus because I can pretty much go anywhere I want and not have to wait too long. Also, I'm slightly claustrophobic in tunnels so the underground Metro isn't for me. And busses are cheaper by at least 75 cents per ride. Because I'm familiar with at least five or six bus routes I know which ones to hop on for short rides across town. Today, rather than take a cab, I left a meeting, crossed the street, a bus was waiting, I got on and it took me to within a block and half of where I wanted to go. That's fine by me. Door-to-door is luxury and doesn't help me get the daily walking exercise I need. Bus riding really isn't for when I'm in a big hurry as it requires a little planning and allowance for time. With the new "Next Bus" system, you can call and find out when the next bus is going to arrive at a particular stop, but you have to know the bus stop Code Number and if you are not standing at it you won't know it. I've got the Next Bus phone number programmed into my cell phone and use that to reassure myself I won't be waiting forever. Most of the buses on the routes I take have been upgraded or are the new models so the air-conditioning is spanking cold and the seats haven't been messed up by CARELESS INSENSITIVE people spilling their drinks so the condition of the bus is good. See blog on Thirsty Bus Passengers. The worst is to get onto a bus in the summer without air conditioning, with the windows jammed shut by CARELESS INSENSITIVE people sticking their chewed gum into the window ledge, and somehow the HEAT IS ON. That's murder! The buses are all accessible too so it's easy for wheelchair users to get on and off with the newer folding-out ramps. I also like the view from bus windows and see and learn more about the city that way. Thank God for buses that work and are cool in the summer!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Aggravating Glitches in the Ole City Today

I should have known when I missed the bus this morning that this was one of those days when things would go wrong. Once at work it turned out my computer was infected with some nasty virus that SOMEONE had sent me so I couldn't use it. I tried to use another available computer but all the settings and seating and configurations were not familiar so I gave up and took a break. I went to the bank to deposit some checks and guess what, there was no pen to fill out the form that goes with the deposits and I hadn't carried my bag with pen with me as I'm trying to carry less with the slipped disk I have. There was no one around to borrow a pen from so I trudged back to my office for a pen and tried it again. Lo and behold there was a pen at the bank by then and which I didn't need. Some trick that! Then I went down to the Metro station to see if I could get loaded on my Smartrip card the money that WMATA owes me -- from when a bus ate my $40 when attempting to add money to the Smartrip card on a bus. Guess what? I waited too long at Step #3 of the Smartrip reload process and it timed me out. Guess what? I tried it twice more and it still said 'Transaction Canceled.' Determined to get MY FORTY DOLLARS, and at the suggestion of the Metro station manager, I trudged again, in the heat, back aching, to another Metro station, and Lo and Behold, the card loaded the $40. So something worked. Determined to see if I was now on a good luck roll, and looking forward to lying on my back on a nice soft bed, I went home and found all the electric clocks blinking again --a sure sign that PEPCO turned the power off again. The neighbors tell me they do that to save power but I think it's because this is an old neighborhood with old wires and overloaded transformers and the demand is high (all those YOUNG PEOPLE with their always-on battery charging laptops & iPhones & iPods & iPads, air-conditioning on all day set high and X-boxes and TVs going all the time). But fortunately for PEPCO, they had the power on and I was able to lie down in some cool air and gather my wits from all the glitches of the day. Then I looked at my garden and thanked God for green and pink things.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

World Cup Connections

The World Cup Finals have actually got me watching sports, something I usually don't do but these games are quick and diverse and it's clear millions of people the world over are engaged in this. For my own part,I've noticed how despite being in America, people are drawn to supporting their home country team. Half a dozen people have initiated talking to me about how disappointed I might be because of the U.K. team's lost goal. I found myself high fiving one of the guys in the garage where I sometimes park the car; his car had an Argentina flag hanging from the rear view mirror and I said, "Hey, Argentina go!" or something equally stupid. But he lit right up with a big proud smile, and said "Yeah, we're good" or something -- my Spanish isn't that sharp. Another colleague whose parents are Italian was raving about the Italian team and my neighbor whose father is Nigerian talked about how Nigeria didn't get into the finals. Since our satellite TV basic package doesn't get the cable channel with the games, we've been watching on Telemundo, the Spanish language channel and finding it very enjoyable; we may even be learning a little Spanish alongside. If only all patriotism were worked out through football! Maybe God works that way too, sometimes.

Rear Window View during a Tea Break

A look out of the three windows from my downtown office is all about reflections. Real reflections, not my rambling thoughts, that is. I'm on a corner and look into a courtyard at the backs and sides of half a dozen buildings. Since reflective glass is now the norm every window stares back at me with a picture of yet another building or roof or satellite dish or antenna or air conditioning unit or balcony or brick wall or light fixture or flags or some kind of building equipment. In some cases it's a reflection of someone working on the roof of the building I'm in; he's walking about talking on his cell phone, arm akimbo, possibly concerned about the air conditioning unit he's standing beside. Occasionally some birds nose-dive through the space and are reflected multiple times, tripling their number. Of course, I can look upward and see a beautiful June blue sky with puffy white and grey clouds scudding westward. I get to see them twice too, as they are also reflected in all the upper story windows on the buildings around the courtyard. It's a mistake to think that a rear window has no views. And I haven't even started to try and think about this from a theological perspective.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sounds & Sights of the City at Solstice

You'd think things would have quieted down about 8:30 pm on this summer solstice eve but I just sat down on the porch and listened to a loud assortment of sounds. This is the front porch on this glorious evening in the city. Firstly, there's the dull roar of the NORAD planes up there in the sky over Washington DC doing some drills. Now a helicopter makes its blade-noisy way over to the nearest hospital. A motorcycle just roared by, slowed down by the Fedex truck groaning along looking for the right house. A bunch of birds are tweeting somewhere and a bunch of others are making coo coo noises while a few seem to be cawing and squeaking conversations about the street's residents. They're probably sated from the large assortment of bugs flitting about annoying us humans. Then there's two batches of cicadas grinding and clattering away in chorus at either end of the street. It's always hard to tell which tree they are in or where they are located but they usually all stop at the same time. Quite mysterious. Somewhere in the distance a siren goes off, perhaps it's police or an ambulance and one wonders momentarily what the disaster is, and then, martini in hand, I just forget about it as I'm distracted by some fireflies lighting up the myrtle. And with every breeze -- and there's more than a few -- wind chimes on people's porches are jingling and dingling in the erratic breezes sending soft tinkles out. Closer to where I'm sitting on the porch is the roar of my electric fan -- set up to blow away any flies or mosquitoes that dare trespass in my personal space. Some neighbors have someone banging on their door and the dogs are barking, not recognizing it's the owner's sister visiting. Every once in a while a car does it double toot as the driver locks it up automatically and double clicks the key. A porch door slams tinnily as someone goes out to work the night shift. I can even hear the noise of the TV as someone else watches the World Cup game tonight. Earlier, there were some little girls giggling on their way from the car to their house with their dad telling me how pleased he was that they made it through the first day of summer camp. Thank God for giggling little girls.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Keeping City WIndows Open

One of the nice things about having the windows and doors open, as a result of our foregoing air conditioning the whole house, is that you hear the neighborhood. For instance, there are a surprising number of tweetie and singing birds, even though we are essentially in a busy city neighborhood. This is because the city finally trapped all the feral cats that were decimating the birds so I think the bird population is up a bit beyond the pigeons and sparrows. Also the rat population was nicely assassinated by the city and I think that helped though I'm not sure rats eat birds (?). We did spy a very tiny little humming bird sized tweetie on a neighbor's tree at dinner tonight when we ate on the porch. Earlier in the spring every morning there were cardinals flashing about the front garden and I swore there was a blue jay or two hiding in the privet hedge. We also hear the children play, cars going by with rap or gospel or talk radio or pop music. And we hear snatches of conversations from passersby or people talking to themselves (on their cell phones, most likely). In fact, sometimes our conversations drift out the window and someone will join in. Hubster in the kitchen was calling out to me in the living room about how cute the home grown tomato was and a neighbor outside heard him and she called from her back yard saying "ooh that tomato is so cute;" very funny! Sometimes of course there are some dratted dogs in the neighborhood that set up a barking cacaphony but heck, with the windows open, you can just yell "SHUDDUP" real loud a few times and it seems to work. What an interesting world God has given us~

Hot Times in the City Neighborhood

We've decided to forgo air conditioning as much as possible so we only turn the AC box on in the bedroom where we sleep if it's just too hot and sticky but the rest of the house we leave the windows open, fans on and wait for the breezes. And drink A LOT of iced tea or beer. This is partly because we are frugalistos but also because air-conditioning really dries you out and as we are aging, we don't want to speed things up.I don't know where we got this idea from but it seems to make sense.
Of course, I'm leaving out the car which is new and has the iciest full blast chill- you-to-the-bone-in seconds air conditioning. Any excuse will do: "Honey, do we need anything? I'll go get some milk (or chocolate, or ice cream or take some mail to the post office or return the library books early)?"
We're doing pretty well with this here in late June but things might change in the muggies of August... I asked hubster "What would God say?" and he said "Why of course, 'Welcome to summer!'"

Drivers' Inappropriate Hand Gestures

The flag of Washington, D.C.Image via Wikipedia
Four times yesterday, while driving on Route 95 to and from Pennsylvania to Washington, DC I saw young people drivers who were driving sticking their left arm out of the driver's window and waving it about. Clearly, they were enjoying the feel of the sun and wind on their arms and hands. But what they don't seem to know is that the gestures they are using are actually driver hand signals. Apparently, hand signals are not taught anymore or at least these careless drivers were oblivious or never had driver training. Driving in the left late, one driver was pointing her arm directly out as if she was going to make a left turn! She then slowly moved her to an upright position from, the elbow, a sort of L-shape as if she was now signaling a right turn! Another driver was slowly waving his arm back and forth as if beckoning people to pass him. Of course, this was impossible as he too was in the left lane and there was no way a driver could pass him without going off the road. Another young man, in the middle lane, was keeping his arm upward, again as if indicating a right hand turn but once again there was no right turn to be made. I decided that these YOUNG PEOPLE didn't have a clue about their effect on others, which seems to be the normal state of young people these days, especially when driving. God bless them anyway!

Glasses Needed for Views Reading

A modern pair of prescription glasses with a h...Image via Wikipedia
No matter how I try to keep track of them I lose my reading glasses. The solution has been to have multiple pairs in multiple locations since they are cheap enough, usually less than $20 a pair and in some cases I've bought three for a dollar! For cooking and detail housework I only need 1.75 or 2.00 magnification but for reading print I need 2.25. Anything higher tends to make me a bit nauseous. But this morning, all I could find were the red 2.25's kept together with staples at the hinges and which I only use for reading in bed. Why do the hinges break so easily! If the pins come out I can put a staple through and hold the hinge together that way even if the raw metal ends do occasionally catch on my hair or a scarf or something. I did come across two pairs of usable reading glasses on the way down the stairs but one was missing the ear holder and the other had mysteriously got two cracks in frame around the lens. And they were my favorite as they had rhinestones in the frames! So I ended up at CVS buying some dark pink ugly things so I could at least read what the number on each dollar bill is! My best organizing tactic is to put any glasses I find in the little drawer in the dining room side table and hope they all migrate there instead of underneath pillows, at the bottom of handbags or underneath the bed. This includes the various sunglasses I have collected over the past few years and which also seem to be experiencing a bout of lost lens or busted hinges or cracked lens holders. You'd think plastic things would last longer! But Thank God for glasses (or was it Benjamin Franklin?)
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Pizza For Friday Dinner in DC

I made homemade tomato, onion, and cheese pizza this evening using a dough that was pre-made that I pressed out to make a Chicago-style pizza crust. First, I brushed both sides with olive oil and then added on the ingredients. These were chopped fresh tomato and diced onion, grated mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and Italian spices. I then cooked it for 15 minutes at 425F in our gas oven. We ate it piping hot and it was delicious, said my husband. It also looked very good.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ate the first tomato from my DC garden

On this beautiful sunny day with a blue sky, 80s and a breeze to keep you cool --if you stood still and let the sun soak you --I ate the first tomato that ripened in my DC backyard garden. Totally deelish. I ate it with some of the lettuce I had grown and my favorite Ranch dressing. Sheer bliss. I can hardly wait for the rest of them to ripen. Last time I looked at the two tomato plants I have there were over 2 dozen tomatoes that were still that lovely bright green that they are before they tinge yellow and you know that they will ripen soon after that. Huge clumps of tomatoes ripening in my garden! Such a gift from God! I'm already thinking about how I will cook or eat them. Such as sliced with mozzarella. Or chopped into garlic and vinegar. Or cooked with eggs and cheese. And maybe I'll get some bacon and make my very favorite sandwich, a BLT. I'm really not that much of a foodie, but anything I grow myself is inspirational in terms of cooking. Obviously, I have to grow more food! Thank God for sunshine!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thirsty Bus Passengers

It's summer and I've had it with the large paper cups of slushees, slurpies, and other icy cold drinks people are bringing on the buses with them. Not only are they not supposed to do this as the sign on EVERY SINGLE BUS says this but they suck away through straws oblivious to the concerns of those around them that the drink might slop its way onto us next time the bus lurches to a stop or as they get up. I just don't want to deal with the person responsible or the cleaning bill. One woman put a LIDLESS paper cup of some foamy orange drink on the baggage rack and just left it there not in the slightest bit concerned about how the liquid was tilting and about to splash over every time time the bus turned a corner and slowed to a stop. Another passenger put her half filled (half empty?) paper cup of some sweet syrupy sugary thing on the floor. Of course, it fell over when the bus stopped suddenly. The liquid trickled its way across the bus floor towards my feet and bag. I pulled my feet up annoyed. When she got off the bus I told her off and she just glared at me like she had a right to have a drink on the bus and to leave it unfinished on the floor for someone else to pick up. Not a single bus driver has asked a passenger to put the drink away or drink it up before getting on the bus. So I wonder how the bus system thinks the requirement not to drink or eat on the bus is to be enforced. God only knows, that's for sure!

Those Careening Bicyclists of DC

Today it was the bicyclists that got on my nerves. While driving in to work, a fast-moving object whizzed by me on the left side practically taking my side view mirror with him. A closer look indicated it was one of DC's crazy bicyclists. Then, while I was walking on the side walk a bicycle rider came charging at me and then suddenly veered to one side so he wouldn't crash into me, thank you very much. My cab driver commented on the new bike lanes down Pennsylvania avenue stating that the "mayor did that, he's one of them, it's such a waste of space, causes all the cars to use one lane while the bike lane is empty." And that did seem to be the case!
Going home I saw a child perched on a child seat with dad dutifully pedaling away behind him as they made their way through heavily fumed buses, trucks and cars on a bike. While both had little plastic helmets on they would have been no match for a sudden stop or turn by the gleaming gas-driven behemoths around them. I was just glad bicycling dad was in the far right lane alongside the curb,thank God!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lazy Bus Passengers

I was waiting for the bus on K street to my therapy session, disgusted by the litter left at the stop. Underneath the passengers' bench was the freshly opened peel of a large orange fruit, bright orange and pale yellow, curled up in coils, emptied of its juicy fruit center by whoever last had sat at the bench. A few feet over was a carefully placed Starbucks paper cup for coffee, straw poking out the top, and cardboard hot grip still clasped neatly around the cup. It was standing upright, obviously left there intentionally by someone else who had been waiting at the stop. So they think they are doing the right thing, not taking food and drink on the bus itself (the subject of another blog!). BUT what is so hard about taking one's trash away or putting it in the public waste bucket just a few feet away? Do these people think there is maid service, someone going around and picking up after them their moldering orange peels and discarded half-drunk cups of coffee? Who are these lazy bus passengers who must eat and drink at the bus stop and who can't remember to trash their trash? Don't they see that at just about every bus stop there's a trash bin nearby? It is too much! God save me from yelling at someone!

Blogging and Ads

I had no idea that this blog could lead to me making money. That is, when setting up this blog there's an option to "monetize" the blog. So I clicked on that tab and filled in my name and address and slam bam wham, thank you God for the ham, I could get paid depending on if people click on things in the right hand column. I'm not supposed to click on them, so I won't. But the question is, why can't I click on the ads I'm serving up to readers too? If I am interested in the product or service or whatever. Oh, well, seems to be one of those blog mysteries. But don't let that stop you from clicking on them all. Don't worry, you don't have to buy anything, it's okay to look. It's because we don't read newspapers anymore. Or watch the ads on TV.

Stinky DC Taxi Cabs

Today was too much. I often take cabs in DC because my back hurts from a slipped disk and I can't take the buses as often as I used to. Today I got stuck with three different cabs, all of which were stinky. The first was a ride to the Hill for my job, to meet with some Hill staff on some policy issues I am working on. This cab didn't have air conditioning, the inside of the passenger door was duct taped together, there were fingerprints and smears on everything and the cab smelt dirty. Worse, the brakes were snatching so at every light or stop, the cab lurched, jarring my spine. I thought I'd get better luck in the cab back to the office, but oh no, even though it had air conditioning, something was very wrong. It smelled of fresh nauseating gasoline, like someone had spilled fuel in the cab or there was some sort of leak. I staggered out of that one practically barfing on the sidewalk from the odor and with the taste of gasoline lingering my mouth. My last cab of the day was to go home. It had air conditioning. No duct tape. Brakes worked. BUT once again this one stank. Of driver body odor, half eaten food on the front seat and a dozen air freshener cards dangling from the rear view mirror. By the time I got home my stomach was churning (again) and I had to lie down to recover. I've had good and new clean cabs in DC but today took the cake! Maybe I should just calm down and thank God I have the means to take cabs. Note: the image above is NOT an example of a stinky cab but is an example of one of the good cabs -- clean, AC, courteous driver.