Monday, October 31, 2011

Leaf peeping and snow creeping…

Dear Mother Nature,

I’m not sure who put you in charge of the weather, as well as mood swings, but I would seriously like to speak to him, because you are obviously mucking it up.

Scorching heat, hurricanes, earthquakes (all in one week!) and now, now you’ve gone and brought snow. Really? was it necessary to bring into my life yet another nuisance? Menopause didn’t give you enough grins and giggles?

My husband and I took a leisurely road trip through the beauty of Virginia to see the fall colors, which I will admit you do with panache, when we decided to see another one of your beauties, the Appalachian Trail via Skyline Drive. When we got there, it was closed because you fricken SNOWED on it!!   In O.C.T.O.B.E.R.!

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What the hell, man?

Lucky for you, Skyline drive is also in the middle of Virginia wine country (don’t even try to tell me that is your doing, because I think Dionysus would heartily disagree) so we made a right instead of a left and ended up in a lovely winery, and all was right in our world.

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For now.

I know we have had our quarrels in the past, but this goes beyond menstrual cramps, midlife acne and menopausal weight gain (don’t even get me started). This is just messing with the natural order of things. Haven’t you heard the song White Christmas? That is when it’s supposed to snow. Not on Halloween! Duh.

Seriously. You need some in-service training on the ways and hows of the four seasons. They are individual, not interchangeable.

Disconcertedly,

Dawn in DC 
(Which is south of the Mason-Dixon line, in case you have forgotten.
The south has always been considered a no-snow zone. I’m just sayin’)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Heaven must be a dull place if your friends end up elsewhere…

On the last full day that my hens girlfriends were here, we lounged around the house, just enjoying each others company. We talked about all the other girls we know our husbands, jobs, lack of jobs, kids and impending grandbabies, just like women do when you get more than one of them in a room together.

Scottish Woman and I took the dogs for a walk at their favorite dog park. She was mightily impressed with the fall leaves. She said it reminded her of Scotland, because as I may have mentioned, there isn’t much in the way of fall colors, or autumn at all for that matter, in Texas.

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Later in the afternoon, we went to the Kennedy Center for one of my favorite all time plays, Shear Madness. The play is the longest running, non-musical in the history of theater. I love it. It is a comical murder mystery set in a unisex beauty salon. The audience participation keeps it fresh every single time. The audience gets to spot clues and even question the suspects before making the decision as to whodunit. It is filled with improv and sly quips involving current topics and people. We laughed until we cried. I may even have peed a little, it’s that funny.

During the intermission, we stepped onto the terrace to take some pictures. The views from here are stunning.

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Oh yeah, and the views of the surrounding area, those are stunning, too.

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After laughing off all of our mascara and wishing the little gay hairdresser was ours to keep, we headed to the mussel place. I had promised the girls we would go there because every time I go, I send them pictures of the table covered in mussels with little taunts of neener neener neener! or some such mature thing.

On the way there, they asked what the name of the place was, so they could look up the menu. Well, I always call it the mussel place because why would you even want to order something else when they have 5 different flavors of mussels? Which is my way of saying (yet again) I don’t know.

The mussel place is, in fact, called Granville Moore’s, but for me, it will always be the mussel place. We ordered all five flavors they had that night and three (3!!) large orders of frites. OMG, frites! Sharon was not a fan of the mussels, so she ordered a chicken wrap that looked great, you know, for not being mussels. Oh well, more for me. The only picture I got of the evening was of Chef/Photog Craig, hogging all the truffle mayonnaise to dip the frites.

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On the way home, I drove slowly past one of my favorite photo stops, so the girls could get a picture:

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Beautiful, isn’t it?

The next day, the last day, we made a stop at the Newseum before heading to the airport. It was a perfect day to go as there weren’t a lot of people there. I tell you, in the summertime, the place is overrun with tourists. Sheesh. Oh gawd, how snobby do I sound?? Especially considering all of those tourists, including my two, know more about DC than I do!

Anyway, the Newseum is awesome and I totally recommend it. It’s a little pricey, considering the Smithsonian museums are free, but it’s a two day pass. I learn something new every time I go. It covers all aspects of news and journalism. It also has every Pulitzer prize winning photograph, along with the stories that go with them. There is an awesome, not to be missed, exhibit featuring the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including the antenna from the World Trade Center.

After that, it was time to go. I didn’t want to. I figured if I didn’t take them to the airport, they couldn’t leave, right? But leave they did. I think we all sniffled a little. I cannot wait for the next time they come to visit. I plan to know quite a lot more about this great city before they get here!

We had a great weekend, and as I said before, no shortage of laughter. One of my favorite moments though, was walking back from the mussel place. This is the conversation I overheard between Scottish Woman and Sharon:

Sharon: I’m sorry I didn’t eat the mussels, I just couldn’t do it.
Scottish Woman: Don’t worry about it. It’s just cannon fodder for me to use on you later.
S: What’s cannon fodder?
SW: You know, stuff you fill the cannon with before you shoot it off.
S: Well! No wonder you Brits lost the war! Our people used bullets!

I tell you, I almost fell off the sidewalk. Those two did stuff like that for four days. Non. Stop.
I loved every minute of it. I miss them already.

Until next time, ladies!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money…

- Thomas Jefferson

After many discussions over a glass of wine…oh wait. Let me start again. After a discussion over many glasses of wine, we girls decided Saturday would be a good day to visit the Thomas Jefferson memorial and then come back across the bridge to Arlington National Cemetery, to see the changing of the guard.

I got up early that morning and set about finding out how to get to the memorial. It’s not far from my house at all, it’s the parking I was worried about. After all the walking we had done the day before, I was hoping to keep the traipsing to a minimum. Thank goodness for Google maps and of course, my new GPS girlfriend in the car. (I love her. Srsly.)

I had never been to the Jefferson Memorial before, so of course, knew nothing about it and could answer not one single question. Oh wait! They wanted to know which of all the trees we had seen in DC were the cherry trees. I was able to point those out to them. It was rather easy because they rim the tidal basin in front of the memorial. AND! I was able to remember the story about the beaver invasion.

A family of beavers decided to make the Tidal Basin their home and were chewing down the cherry trees. It took a while, but they were finally caught and moved to a secret location. They received quite a lot of attention and made watching the news kind of fun.

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I know, I know! Pick me!

And that was about it for my wealth of knowledge of the Jefferson Memorial. But we did take a lot of pictures and unanimously voted it the prettiest monument. There is also a very cool exhibit underneath the memorial where you can learn so much more about Thomas Jefferson. (How was I supposed to know?? I’d never been there!)

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It was so quiet and peaceful here. The fall colors were amazing. The girls from Texas were a bit envious of the cool weather and the pretty colors.

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Our next stop for the beautiful fall day was Arlington National Cemetery. It is one of my favorite places. I don’t go through the front gates very often, but I do see the back of it just about every day, as the joint bases of Fort Meyer and Henderson Hall, back right up to the cemetery and is home to the Old Guard Caisson unit. We walked through the cemetery past President Kennedy’s gravesite up to the Memorial Amphitheater and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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It was about this time that the questions started. Are all the Kennedy’s buried here? How come they’re not all buried together? Why are there rocks on some of the headstones? How do you get permission to walk across the graves to put flowers down? Do you have to be related to do that? How many graves are here? How many acres is the cemetery? Why the 21 in a 21-gun salute? They were making my head numb.

We finally made it to the top of the hill to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is my favorite place in all of Arlington. We sat on the steps in the first row and watched how proudly the soldier performed the task of standing vigil.

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The soldier walks 21 paces in front of the tomb, turns and pauses for 21 seconds, changes his rifle to the other shoulder and walks 21 paces back. This is done 24 hours a day, every single day. During the summer, the changing of the guard happens every 30 minutes. In the fall through the winter, it’s every hour.

The guard coming on is inspected before he is allowed to take on his duty. Every step and movement is done with perfect precision.

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It is very moving to watch, and we three enjoyed it very much. There is so much more to say, but I’ll leave this link for you, so you can learn about it at your leisure. I think you’ll enjoy it.

This was a wonderful afternoon on a beautiful day, so then we went to the mall. Hey! We are women, after all. What did you expect?

That evening, we turned to our trusty GPS girlfriend to get us to the restaurant just inside China Town (another place I haven’t been!) We couldn’t get into Old Ebbitt Grill so we went to Clyde’s, which is owned by the same group. It was yummy.

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I cannot tell you how much I laughed having these two around me for four days. The Brit and the Texan quipping back and forth kept me in stitches. Laughter is indeed the best medicine and I was in sore need of a big ole dose!

Tomorrow, a walk through the dog park, a walk with Will Ferrell on the red carpet at the Kennedy Center and dinner at the mussel place.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The fool wanders, a wise man travels…

Oh what a weekend! I had what CGMan calls a hen party! My two girlfriends (who had words, none of which can be said in polite company, to say about the pictures I posted of them last week) flew in from Austin to visit me. They didn’t actually fly, because they are are not birds, they are hens but they did fly on an airplane.

One of the hens girls, Sharon, had never been to DC, so she was the tourist. Technically. You see, what happened was, as I was driving the girls around my new hometown of Washington DC, it became painfully obvious that I know little about DC. Very. Little. I can’t tell you how many times I answered their questions with “I don’t know” or “Gee, I wish I knew”. But then, they did ask some pretty dumb weird questions, like, “What time do all the DC workers typically go to lunch?” or “Where does Bo go poop and do the girls have to walk him?” It actually worked out well, because I learned so much and am now ready for the next set of visitors. (We found the answer to the first question to be around noon. The second, I still don’t know)

I showed the girls how savvy I am by taking them on the bus and the metro. I may have looked like I knew what I was doing, but Scottish Woman saw right through that and helped make sure we got on the right line.

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Yes, that is me flossing my teeth at the metro stop. The girls thought this hilarious, but I reminded them that it’s never a bad time to have good oral hygiene. That and I had a piece of meat stuck between my teeth. Nice.

We did the standard tourist stop at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, during which the newest American put us to shame with all her knowledge.

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Dummies and Dumbos

We saw Julia Childs’ kitchen, which was really amazing. They had a video running with scenes from some of her shows and from various interviews. She was a remarkable woman. We also saw the First Ladies’ dresses. This has always been one of my favorite exhibits.

The last time I was at any of these museums was about 12 years ago. This one has since been remodeled and I really like the layout. It was very easy to maneuver about and see everything.

We skipped the $3.50 soda and $9.00 BBQ sandwich at the museum cafeteria for a hotdog and fries out on the mall. It was a beautiful fall day, perfect for the almost two mile walk down to the Lincoln Memorial.

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We stopped at every statue and memorial in between, so Sharon could get a picture (and ask who is the man on the horse). We saved my favorite for last. The Vietnam Wall.

There is something so beautiful and moving about this wall. Sharon’s dad served in Vietnam and is thankfully not on the wall, but for the grace of God. My dad missed having to go to Vietnam by a very slim margin, also by the grace of God.

Having a son serving in the military during a time of war, brings it painfully to the forefront of my heart, that every name on this wall was someone’s child. I cry every time I walk past.

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Another question from my little tour group; Are there any women’s names on the wall?
I did not know, but it was a very good question, so I asked. The answer, of the over 58,000 names on the wall, eight are names of women. They were all military nurses. Of course, there were plenty of other women nurses killed in Vietnam, but they were civilians. If you are interested in learning more about the Vietnam Wall, go here, it’s fascinating.

After all that walking, we decided it was time for a rest and a cup of coffee, before making our way across the front of the White House. This being where the girls (and I) wanted to know where Bo goes outside to potty, and who is the official pooper scooper to the First Dog.

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Oh, and they were fascinated by the sniper guy on the roof.

 

Who wants to see three girls try to take self portraits all at the same time?

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After the park police were done laughing at us, we headed over to do something I have never done before. I hailed a cab. All by myself! Of course, he scared the beejeezus out of Sharon because we was very obviously of Middle Eastern descent and you know, a cabbie. He was great, though. Got us right where we needed to be without scaring us with his mad driving skillz, like the New York cabbies.

Where did he takes us?

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Bill Cosby eats here, as has President Obama. It is on U Street in DC. This area was known as “Black Broadway”, because of the theaters and jazz clubs. This place has witnessed so much change in the 53 years it has been open. I suggest reading this page to learn more. It really is a piece of history, and I enjoyed it very much.

It was a long day, but full of laughter and non-stop chatting. I loved it.

Stayed tuned, because tomorrow, we go to the Jefferson Memorial and Arlington Cemetery.