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. These involve fabric recycling or re-use and refashioning of clothes, or other frugalities. I've left up the previous blogs and may occasionally revert to those topics again. May your days be blessed with miracles, surprises and creativity too!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Evening Visit to Congress Or Yielding Myself the Time I Need to Consume

This evening several of us attended a late session of Congress where the U.S. House of Representatives were considering any number of bills before they go out on break (again). Our legislation was number #63 on a huge list so we knew it would be late before our bill was considered. So, after showing our red passes we went through security. This was a thorough search as the guard found a small spray hand sanitizer in my make-up bag and told me to go back outside and throw it in their special bins they have for such items and then made me walk again through the metal detector machine. So after walking through winding paths inside the new Visitor Center we ended up turning in our cell phones & cameras and got into the Gallery and watched the proceedings. It's a very bureaucratic, ritual-laden process and we were in quiet hysterics about how each Congressional Representative gave him or herself permission to speak after the House chair said "Each side will control 20 minutes."  The Member would then say, "I yield myself as much time as I may consume." And then the House Chair would say "the Member is recognized" and the speechifying would start with Members yielding back and forth their time. Most of the bills were of little concern to us although at one point one Member got himself into a good rant and rave about the recent DOJ decision involving threatening of voters, even though the bill under consideration did not directly, or even indirectly, seem to be connected. Things also got a bit lively when someone got worked up about the federal government only paying $1 for land that cost a city government $170,000 but it all seemed a bit arcane and unreal. That is, of course, until they came to the legislation we'd been working on for four years and we sat their agog as they went through the legislative ritual and passed it! Hooray! What a gladness this was!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Evenings Darken Earlier But Roses Still Glowing

All of a sudden it seems like the evenings are darker earlier! As I walk home there have been some spectacular sunsets but my cell phone camera doesn't take sky shots very well. So all I could do was to capture the last of the sun's glow on my roses in the garden. Even though it's 90 degrees this evening, winter is approaching very quietly and stealthily if you just take note of the little signs. Birds practicing formation flights, trees beginning to tinge orange, some bees dead from the sudden cold snap the other day, neighbors taking air conditioner boxes out of their windows, people talking about Halloween and Christmas, wondering when the clocks fall back an hour or when they will stop street cleaning so we don't have to move our parked cars. What other signs are there? .
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beer Til 2 A.M. at San Antonio Grill


View of the bar
For dinner we went out to the local Tex-Mex restaurant called San Antonio Grill as it was one of the boy's birthdays. Although the food was pretty good, and their small margarita does the trick, the service was really slow. It took over 35 minutes to get the special of the night -  a BLT! -- and nachos with black beans. We went through two bowls of hot tomato salsa and chips while waiting! However, the wait was likely because one of our party ordered lobster and steak so we all had to wait for that!  I did complain to the waitress a little but she said it was because they only had one cook that night.  Also, by the time we were finishing up dinner, about 9:30 pm, it looked like the restaurant was closing up. Waiters were scurrying around removing tables and chairs and stacking them in an adjoining room. A little annoyed as it seemed like they were shutting up the shop, I asked the waitress what was going on. She said it was Monday Night College Night and the place would soon become standing room only for the $3 margaritas and $2 beers they serve until 2 a.m. So that's why the chairs and tables were being removed. We also asked where all the pictures we usually see on the walls had gone. She said they take them down as the students get kind of crazy and will take anything that isn't nailed down!  We left soon after this and the manager apologized as we left, presumably for the late food and the furniture disturbance.  We just couldn't figure out why anyone would go out drinking on a Monday night and surmised it was recovery for the students from the first day of the week. Unbelievable! And how badly behaved, taking pictures off the walls!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Side Trip to Philly, Dinner in the Dining Car

View from the diner window
Lamp over each booth
On our way back from visiting our son in Pennsylvania, we occasionally stop at a diner, The Dining Car, for a quiet meal and to avoid the local traffic that clogs up Route 95 during the dinner hour. One of the reasons we like to eat here is that the food is edible and cheap, it seems clean, and the service is quick and they serve just about anything you might want in a diner. It's also barely a stone's throw from the main road so we don't feel like we are getting too far off our way and of course, it has lots of parking and you can tell from the car number plates that it's a local favorite. I can get a nice martini with my Cobb salad or french fries and it seems like the portions are not too large and not too small. My husband can get his onion soup too and he will settle for a Pepsi there, although he'll give the waitress a hard time about it being a non-Coke establishment. The customers don't look like customers in DC restaurants:  there's lots of groups of older people eating together, families with teen kids, twosomes of 60 year old guys, or trios of women in their 70s eating together so the ambiance doesn't feel like the capital city.  It makes me realize how the DC Demographic is quite different comparatively.  What's nice is the decor has some very nice deco elements too, such as in the lamps and the overall appearance of the building. We've also gotten our favorite BLTs and bought cookies in the bakery shop on our way out. So you can see, this is a very useful place for us to go on our travels.100 miles away from the capital city and you are in another part of God's country.  As it turns out, this diner is featured in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip, a book listed on Amazon.com!  Who knew! I never read it but I hope the author gave them a good grade!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11 Garden Update

Monarch on clematis
Begonias, geraniums and myrtles
Roses still blooming
The Creator has been at work in the front garden again!  It is still flowering with begonias, geraniums, marigolds, myrtles and some colorful things whose names I have forgotten. And, there's that amazing rose bush that gives us an unlimited supply of tiny red scented roses as long as I give it gallons of water to drink each week. Now that the weather  is cooler, we can sit on the front porch and notice our other neighbors.  There's a family of monarch butterflies living in the scented wild white clematis and there's some bright yellow and some white butterflies also flitting about.  There are some very giant bumble bees busy doing the nectar thing and for once, the mosquitos and flies seem to have abated. I've also caught sight of some humming birds hovering among the blossoms too, also having a go at the nectar from the Roses of Sharon and the wild clematis. As a basically lazy gardener, I believe the secret to having a garden full of flowers is to only plant things that you can take care of without too much aggravation and that are "easy." It's worth checking out what the neighbors are able to grow as soil and local climate have a big impact, especially on what kinds of trees and bushes are possible. Then sun and water are the main considerations.  I usually bring all the geraniums and begonias in over the winter, sticking them in one big pot each and leave it in a sunny window and water them moderately to avoid root rot during the no-grow winter season. They limp through the winter until I'm able to get them outside again in early spring. I've learned to take cuttings and root things, so I can always have more of what I've already got and I accept all donated plants! And of course, anything that seeds, harvest them and keep over the winter in dry spot in a brown paper bag so you can plant them in the spring, Every year the garden resurrects and it's different every time!
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A Freedom Tower for September 11

View from Hudson River of  new Tower under construction
I was in NYC recently and we took a short cruise on the Hudson River to see the city. There was a Tour Guide on the boat who provided interesting details about what we could see onshore. I was surprised to learn from him that at the site of the World Trade Center Twin Towers a new tower was being built so I snapped this photo of the building under construction. The guide referred to it as the "new Freedom Tower."  I forget exactly what the tour guide said but one of the new towers would be 1776 feet higher which is either one foot taller or one floor more than the original Twin Towers.  I haven't looked this up so if someone reading this knows, please comment below. I think it's significant that this week there's a media frenzy about the mosque and Quran burning but surely the real story is the resurrection of a new huge tall building and its surrounding area, an incredible marvelous feat of engineering. This is evidence of growth and change that is taking place right before our eyes and that may be blinded by media perception wars. Truly, it is amazing that a new building is going up at this site and will be as high or higher than what was there before. It would be with trepidation that I would go up in it;  the tallest glass building I have been in is the (new) John Hancock tower in Boston, MA. That's made of the shiny blue glass and there are floor to ceiling windows in the offices from which you can see all the way out over Boston Harbor. So, if I have the courage, when this new World Trade Center tower is finished, I might go up in it. I bet the view will be fantastic!   I found an animation of what the World Trade Center zone will look like built up in the future. The "butterfly" building is going to be very curious and I look forward to the museum and all the other features they are planning. There is nothing really like this in Washington, D.C., and that's what makes New York so unique.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Union Station

About 34 years ago I came to Union Station and it was a total dump as the renovation had not yet occurred. It was dark and dusty with some sort of plywood paneling with bad posters lining a corridor that funneled train passengers away from the very dingy train tracks and out of the building. However, some federal and private funds were found and it was cleaned up, and redecorated and stores, movie theaters, food court and restaurants were brought in. Today, the station is a totally bustling, busy place with enough of the old features, like this clock and window, and those mysterious figures with shields guarding us at the frieze level to add elegance, charm and curiosity to what has become a city destination. I'm not sure everyone notices all the gilded, sculpted and leaded things when they hurry through from the Metro subway or on to the regional trains, but there's no comparison with Tyson's Corner or any of the super shopping malls, in my opinion, which have some of these elements but none of the history. And  its location near Capitol Hill makes it a great place to meet for drinks after work.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sidetrip to NYC

Times Square
Ellis Island
Empire State Building
Typical Lamp Post
Freedom Tower Half Built
This past week we took a little trip to another city, the big city, the big apple, that is, New York City.. Last I  heard there were at least 8 million people living there and it felt like that. Everywhere you looked there were crowds and large groups of people going about their daily business, or eating or shopping or lolly-gaggling like us.. In comparison, the streets of D.C. seem almost bare!  And the streets just went on and on with little store fronts selling pizza, or clothes and handbags, gadgets, and luggage (just like the street vendors on the streets of DC!) and big store fronts selling Gucci, Versace, Michael Kors and all kinds of brand name expensive labels that I learn about from watching television and that I never buy (sorry Mad Men!). We took a cruise around Manhattan Island and passed Ellis Island and learned a little history about the millions that came through there. Where else can you also see the Empire State building from the river with a yacht passing in front of it! We also saw the site where they are building the Freedom Tower where the World Trade Center towers used to be. I had to admit I had some emotional flashbacks to September 11 seeing this construction site and found myself glancing at the scarfed women on board the tourist boat with us, to see if they had any reaction. They were dutifully photographing the Colgate clock on the NJ side of the Hudson River, however. We had a lovely time and prayed that NYC would last forever!