Victory from Jaws of Defeat

Ok, this is getting a little silly.

Last week I had the first week of my lap swimming class, in which only two of the eight participants (including myself) showed up, and the other was a 13-year old kid. (We were also joined by someone who was signed up for the beginner class but was afraid it was too basic.) This is out of eight people total that were signed up.

Well, tonight? Beth and Megan were back from vacation, so they were there. I was there. And that was it. Including a lack of instructor.

Now, our instructor had said she wasn’t going to be there. But she’d also said there was a substitute that was supposed to teach us that week. Oops. (The guy who wasn’t signed up for our class actually did show up, but he decided to try the beginner class and afterwards said he’s going to stick with it because it’s a better fit.)

The thing is, I’m actually pretty happy about this. Since the instructor didn’t show up, they’ll have to make it up to us on one of the make-up-dates that are reserved for that very reason. And it meant that Beth, Megan, and I got to swim a little, then stop and chat, then swim some more, chat some more… Very relaxed, and super-fun because they are both adorable and a blast to be around.

All in all? A pretty great evening, in what could’ve just as easily been disaster. So, so, so very nice to see my favorite pair of running sisters! Now I’m off to e-mail Arlington County to let them know our instructor no-showed…

Glub Glub Glub

Last night I started up my lap-swimming class, which I did last summer when I discovered where I normally swim was taken over by summer camp classes. I loved the class last year, and it definitely got me into a much stronger swimmer. One added bonus was that while the class started with eight people (including myself), by the end never more than 2-4 people tops would be there, so I would often get my own lane to boot.

I knew that my friends Beth and Megan (who both signed up, yay!) wouldn’t be there last night while they’re on vacation, but I wasn’t expecting the grand total of people appearing to be a whopping… two. Including me. And the other was a 13 year old. Apparently it’s vacation season for everyone this week. Then, we got joined by a third person who had been signed up for the beginner class but it was too basic for him. (Gee, I guess he should’ve signed up for the intermediate class.) So part of the class got ursurped by our instructor trying to figure out what to do with this sudden addition.

Fortunately, about halfway through, she was able to really focus her attention elsewhere, and then I got what I’d been wanting from the class. Ended up swimming some intervals and sprints, and it totally kicked my butt. So in the end it worked out well, but about 15 minutes into class I found myself seriously wondering if I’d wasted my money this time around. But things are looking much more promising for the remaining classes, though, now that everything seems to be falling into place for the class.

I do think the funniest part of the evening, though, was the instructor telling me that she was a little boggled by the teenager being in the class, and who could she talk to about drinking cocktails and such now? I think I like her.

(Also trying out a new import-blog-posts-into-Facebook option since the built in one has been erratic and untimely as of late. We shall see…)

Ah, Peanuts

There are only a handful of comic strips that I adore; Calvin & Hobbes and Mutts, for example, are two that just make me smile at the thought of them. And another one of my all-time favorites is the old, classic Peanuts from the ’50s through the ’70s, thanks to reading the collections from my local library back in the day. So when Tom Spurgeon linked to this advertising flyer from the 1950s with ads for the strip? Love it. Here’s one of said strips for your amusement, too:


So Long, Freecycle

Thanks for becoming useless, Freecycle.

When I first heard about Freecycle years ago, it was fairly brilliant,  a way to offer up things that you don’t need, so that instead of throwing them away someone else will come and take them off your hands. No payments, just giving things away to someone else who wants them. Over the years I’ve given a lot away on Freecycle.

For the past few years, though, the DC-area Freecycle groups have become slightly… well, draconian. They were splintered into lots of smaller groups, which made sense. But suddenly they started demanding that people prove that they were in that small geographical focus, something I always found silly because does it really matter if I live on one side of a town line or the other if I’m going to keep things from being thrown away? This is an area with enough communities and towns all up alongside one another it’s not like I’m in Topeka signing up for things in Chicago. I had to actually fight to get onto the group where my office is; it’s easier for me to have people pick up things here, based on location and hours, than where my home is.

Today, the group for where my office is located sent out a note saying the following:

The Freecycle Networkâ„¢ made a structure change from groups serving large geographic areas to local groups serving local communities several years ago. This “local focus” helps us create a close-knit, local giving community of neighbors helping neighbors that makes a real impact.

In an effort to maintain our local focus, we need to reserve membership in this group for folks who live in McLean, Vienna, Great Falls, and Merrifield.  Local charities are welcomed (and encouraged) to join. Working here isn’t enough to qualify, you *need* to live here.

If you don’t live within the community we serve, we need to ask you to unsubscribe from this Freecycle list and join the Freecycle group where you live. This will ensure that you are participating with your neighbors, and building community there. Over the next several weeks, we moderators will be doing a clean up, and in the process, might actually take care of this for you.

It’s nice to see this local group go completely opposite against this statement from Freecycle’s “About” page: “The Freecycle Network is open to all communities and to all individuals who want to participate.” In an area where the majority of people work and live in different areas, this message is loud and clear. “We don’t want you. Throw away things rather than try to give them to us.”

Well done, Freecycle. Every time I see a landfill from now on, I’ll think of you.

Force of July

Yikes. Is the holiday almost over? It’s a little startling how fast a three-day-weekend can whip by even with that extra full day available.

The temperature started rising in the area on Saturday, so I knocked out my run early in the morning even though I was flying solo for a change. (I did run into Teresa on the trail, though, which was a pleasant surprise.) After cleaning up and lying down for about an hour, I pulled myself back together and went to check out the Smithsonian Folklife Festival down on the National Mall. It’s running through today, but I knew that this was probably the best weather I’d get.

Finally broke out the camera again and took a lot of pictures… most of which I hate. Well, hate is a strong word. But it’s frustrating when you take photos that you think turned out really well, get home, and discover that what you thought you took and what you actually took are two quite different things indeed. Most of them are already relegated to the trash bin. A few were deemed all right, at least.

Strike a Pose

On the bright side, it was a nice time overall. I watched a Laotian cooking demonstration and a Malaysian dance troupe in the “Pacific Asian Americans” section, then headed over to the “Mexico” section where I received a traditional blessing and watched a bunch of artisans create some gorgeous tapestries, baskets, and fake flowers.

Below is the woman was creating the flowers, but doing so out of old corn husks. Just great stuff, and with the help of an interpreter she was chatting away with people who came by to see her works. (Click here for a picture of some of the flowers.)

Husk Artist

Afterwards I’d decided that I’d leave via the L’Enfant Plaza metro instead of Smithsonian (I knew that station would be a disaster area) and on my way over, stopped in the African Art Museum. It’s been several years since I last visited and I forgot how much I like it. Not only is it well-curated (and with ever-changing exhibits) but it was also almost completely empty. I wandered around at my own pace, and it was a perfect way to cool down from the heat and and enjoy my time there.

Yesterday was pretty quiet; Charlie’s home but with came back sick, so there wasn’t much going on like we’d hoped.  On the bright side, after six months of planning to do so, I finally hauled everything out of the cabinets under the bar area of my kitchen, as well as the mountain of stuff that needed to go in there, and re-arranged it all. I suddenly have counter space again—such a relief!—and everything is put away and easily usable once more.

I was hoping to get my carpets shampooed today (fun fun fun) but considering I’ve yet to get off my butt today I doubt that’s going to happen. But it’s been a mostly relaxing (but surprisingly unsocial) weekend, and for that I’m glad.

(Oh, as for the title of the post? It’s utterly silly but it’s one of my favorite “government superhero team” names, from Suicide Squad back in the ’80s. Led by, if I remember correctly, Major Victory.)

Gorgeous Weather

Days like today are my absolute favorite, in terms of weather. Low humidity, the temperature isn’t supposed to get above 80 degrees, and while it’s sunny there are still clouds in the sky. I’d love to have this year round. (Yes, I know: move to San Diego.) Even though I’d run last night after work I did so again this morning just to take advantage of the great weather. (Between two runs in 24 hours, plus PT this morning, I’ve been unable to stop yawning this afternoon.)

Of course, once the weekend arrives the temperature and humidity are both supposed to rise, but until then I’m going to be loving it. As it is I’m tenatively planning to try and hit the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on Saturday, and to pull the camera out and dust it off. After working on a self-portrait-a-day series last year, I slightly burnt out on photography and took some time off. Over the past week or two I’ve started to miss it, though, and that means that the rest period should come to an end. We’ll see how long I last before deciding I don’t want to bake any more.

Finally resumed reading Poppy Z. Brite’s Second Line, which collects two short novels about chefs G-Man and Rickey, the stars of Liquor, Prime, and Soul Kitchen. I’ve only read Liquor but I adored it, reading about their attempt to start their own restaurant in New Orleans and using the theme of alcohol in all of their dishes. I’ve been meaning to read the other books for a while, and now that I’m about a third of the way through Second Line I’m pushing the other books up to the top of the to-read list.

Oh, still no progress on my kitchen reorganization, but the week isn’t over yet.