January just flew by in 74 days

January felt even longer than usual. I think it is because the 21st century has just been the hardest century and that’s saying a lot since the 20th century was filled with wars. Wait…maybe that’s just a constant?

The better-half and I were talking about taking a weekend trip and we’re SOL for doing that in February thanks to all the crap I have going on at work. We may be able to slip out in March but good grief who even knows? Allow me to stop this whine right now.

Yesterday we had a splendid day taking a walk around our local botanical garden and we found one huge granite sculpture we have no memory of ever seeing before. It isn’t hidden so we’re wondering if it is newish? We also found a wild and woody trail that we had never known about and it is right there on the map so OK. Clearly, it is good to go to a pretty familiar place and then open your eyes like a tourist on occasion. After the lovely walk, we hit our local brewery and grabbed some quesadillas from the shop a few doors down. Primo day.

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End of year roundup

We saw 22 shows. Everything from Depeche Mode to Roseanne Cash.
I read 33 books.
I went to Orlando, Denver, San Diego, and San Antonio for work.
The better-half went to Nashville for work.
The better-half and I went together:

  • to DC three times either for a long weekend or concerts
  • we spent a few days in Duck
  • an overnight in Charlottesville
  • a handful of trips to Amherst
  • a long weekend to Philadelphia


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Philly was full of love

We went to Philly this weekend. We left Richmond on an early morning train, but not too early. We arrived in early afternoon and then bought Septa cards and promptly got lost and confused. A Septa employee took pity on us and got us moving in the sort of right direction (it was more direction than we had before). It turns out Septa has regional trains and what passes as a Metro, aka local trains. Once we figured that out, we were golden. DC’s metro is way more clean than Philly’s subway and Philly’s is way more clean than NYC’s system.

We ducked into Reading Terminal Market thinking we could get some lunch and OH MY GOOD LORD. Nope. We found our way back out and then made our way to the hotel. We checked in and then found the Sassafras Bar. Saints preserve us, Danny took great care of us. We had a soft pretzel, fries with garlic aioli and marinated olives. Lunch of such health. The drinks were kicking too. Then we napped. It was rainy and gross so spending time in a bar and then an hour nap totally felt justified.

Dinner was at Karma and it’s been too long since we ate Indian that we decided we need to go more often. The neighborhood where we stayed was pretty happening. Lots of bars, restaurants, museums, things to do. Although, at some point we were clearly the oldest people at Karma, but that was OK.

Saturday we packed all of our sightseeing into a few hours and walked nearly 10 miles. By the time we called it a night, I was struggling to walk up a flight of stairs. Quick list:
Liberty Bell

Schuylkill River walked along it to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and watched the end of a Rocky Run–we did not run up the steps, but we did walk up them and also did not make the gesture of the double fist pump.
Mutter Museum which was fascinating and wigged me out.
Lunch from Campo’s–pretty good cheese steak and a classic Italian hoagie which we split in half and then ate the remainder on the train home today.
Walk along Penn’s Landing

Cocktails and excellent popcorn at Royal Boucherie
Dinner at Spasso Italian Grill. The veal porcini was delicious. The better-half enjoyed his chicken parm.

Easy peasy trip home on the train and a happy cat at the door.

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Slide right into fall

Somehow it has become October.

I finished up my travel for work with a trip to San Antonio. I was last there in 1996 for my honeymoon. Not much resonated with me or sparked a moment of oh yeah I remember that. I mean the Riverwalk is still there. I didn’t see the Alamo this time. I arrived on Monday mid-day and left Wednesday mid-afternoon so there wasn’t much I saw besides the inside of a conference room.

The food was excellent, even the hotel food was good. Speaking of good food, the better-half went to the State Fair while I was gone and I’m so glad he went.

My mother was able to go on her trip to Pittsburgh. My FL sister came up to spend the night with my father. The three kids were around so he was never by himself for long. I think by the end of the weekend he was tired and out of sorts because of all of the unusual activity.

This month is chock full of activities as the weather breaks and we get outside more. Fall is my favorite.

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Another month of summer

I’m headed to San Diego in a couple of days. I don’t want to jinx anything, but the hurricane looks to be much smaller than anticipated. I know California doesn’t have tropical storms so they may not be prepared, but that storm is smallish to my East Coast eyes.

I’m happy to say our upstairs air conditioning is working this Sunday. The last two weeks, at almost the exact time, we’ve discovered it wasn’t working. The safety pan alarm turned off the system both times. There was a blockage somewhere in the unit as well as in the tube that draws the water away. $400 later and the problem seems to be fixed. Of course, we could just be kicking the can down the road. The shelf life of the system is coming up. I’d rather spend the money on something else. We live in Virginia so there’s no way we aren’t going to have air conditioning.

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Movies and sand

We have taken this week off. Yesterday we went to see Asteroid City. It was weird and very Wes Anderson and we really liked it. There’s something to be said about going to a matinee and munching on too much popcorn. There was only one other person in the theater with us. It felt slightly decadent.

Today we leave for the beach and will be back on Saturday. It’s a shorter trip than usual for us and in a different spot on the Outer Banks, but we have big plans for doing nothing. Sleep, sitting on the beach, sleep, diving into the ocean, sleep, taking walks and eating terrific seafood.

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We found a 3-4′ snake skin in our garage. It was dangling from the chain track for the garage door opener. It seemed like a clever way for a snake to pull itself out of its skin. Other than a snake that climbed up our basement stairs and then went out our back door, we haven’t seen a live snake on premises the entire time we’ve lived here. Our rat snake visitor from several years ago:

It’s nice to see evidence there are actually snakes around. I think our little corner here in the neighborhood is trying to bring back habitat. Our three yards are pretty hands off when it comes to clearing brush (there’s a wild area where all three yards meet) and I get the sense that no one is relying on heavy chemicals for much of anything.

A friend at work is leaving and that will likely mean a lot for me as I take on her responsibilities. It remains to be seen if my job just got bigger on a permanent basis or if it is an interim thing. I’m hoping for permanent and have shared a plan with my manager. Lots of change happening at work right now so we’ll see how everything goes over the next few weeks. I have mentioned this change in duties to two people and this is how both of those conversations have gone:

Me farting would have generated more conversation. So it goes.

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Songs, Movies, Garden, Oysters

On Thursday night we had dinner and then caught a show in Hopewell, VA. For people of a certain age, Hopewell will always be known for its chemical problem. I can’t say I’ve ever been to Hopewell, but dinner was lovely and the theater was a beautiful older building. The performance was Suzanne Vega and her guitarist. It was intimate and I’m so glad we went.

Friday, I took the day off and the better-half wrapped up early so we could go see Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret. I recently re-read the book for the first time since I was 12 or 13. The movie was pretty faithful to the book and it hit all the right nostalgia points. I smiled through most of it. Then, we went over to Lewis Ginter to see the members-only opening of Incanto. I’m looking forward to seeing the sculptures later this summer when it’s a bit darker and not so drizzly. It was nice walking through the garden with limited people and the plants in the middle season (not quite full on blooming and not dormant either).

The better-half cooked dinner last night and we started with fried oysters with a dipping sauce (we weren’t fans of the batter, but the dipping sauce was excellent). He is going to add some of the flavorings into his usual batter and we’ll see how it goes next time he fries oysters. The rest of the oysters went into oyster stew and, dang, I love that dish.

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Weekend trip

We took Friday off and caught a northbound train to DC. We have wanted to visit the African American history and culture museum for years and booked tickets for Friday afternoon.

What an amazing place. It was packed with visitors but we enjoyed the exhibits. Enjoyed is a weird word because that museum presents how awful the experience has been. So in this sense enjoyed means it’s good to be uncomfortable sometimes especially when seeing the world from a different perspective.

Afterwards we went for a drink or two at Allegory.

We had dinner at Corduroy and it was fantastic.

We laid around in bed reading on Saturday morning because we never get to do that and it was raining pretty hard. We went to Unconventional Diner for brunch and then we scoped out the Wharf area. In spite of the rain we were able to see some of the cherry blossoms across the water.

Then it was off to the Rubbel museum. As soon as we walked in, one of my favorites:

We took the metro out to Arlington and visited the the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington. It is a small venue but powerful art. We were feeling peaked and since it was a Saturday we took the train to Foggy Bottom, and sat at the bar at Circa. We watched people, the TVs, drank a couple beers and split a mushroom flatbread.

Dinner was at Tortino’s and they surprised us with a happy anniversary dessert. I had forgotten I put that information into my Open Table account. I guess the reservation got flagged. It was surprising and the gelato was delicious.

Breakfast on Sunday was at Baker’s Daughter which was pretty good. Then we got to Union Station via the metro and caught our train home.

The food got high marks this weekend. The low spot was a restaurant in Chinatown that was pretty mediocre. Good hot and sour, but otherwise meh.

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Waffle Hose

We had breakfast at Waffle House for the first time in over a decade. It’s still tasty and I love watching how efficient the team is as they hustle out breakfast. It was also nice to see the regulars in the seats and how they bantered with the staff.

I’m pretty sure the last time we ate at one of the restaurants we were served coffee whitener, but it was half and half today. I’m still unclear what coffee whitener is.

The title of this post is an ode to a former co-worker who talked about a Waffle House in his neck of the woods that always had it’s U unlit.

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