Generic All-Purpose DC Snow Post

Well, snow has come to the Washington DC region again, and of course . Not that you should be too surprised. The chill in the air , and it's always a great excuse for .

Hand-Cut Paper Snowflakes

Right now the snow , and I couldn't be more . Who doesn't snow? If all goes well and maybe . They're predicting , after all.

In the meantime I'm just . If you don't like snow, . Oh, and now I'm wishing I'd bought some . Oops. Oh well.

Five Things That Make Me Happy (part 18)

Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Unreal and the Real
One of my all-time favorite authors is Ursula K. Le Guin. I fell in love with her books ever since I first bought a copy of The Wizard of Earthsea at our library book sale in 4th grade (and read it so quickly I managed to buy copies of The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore before the week-long sale ended), and that enjoyment of her writing hasn’t ceased. Now, one of my favorite small publishers (Small Beer Press) has issued a two volume collection of her short stories. And while I buy ebooks more often than print ones these days, I had to make an exception for this handsome volumes.

I also appreciate that they even came up with a way to theme the two volumes in terms of location (the titles should give it away) rather than just an arbitrary “these are two volumes worth of stories” division. Oh, in case you’re wondering, there are ebook editions too. But for now, I’ll be reading these copies, just calling my name. Good times ahead.

SiTea: The Spice Boutique
Just down the street from me is SiTea: The Spice Boutique. Now, in the back of my head it’s always been a place to buy dried teas and supplies. They have an amazing selection, lots of original mixtures, and in general it’s a great place to visit. But it was only recently that my friend Randal reminded me that it’s also a place you can go to sit, have a pot of tea, maybe a snack or two (cupcakes, samosas, and vegetarian chili are a few of their regular offerings), and relax. On a stressful day, it was a real delight to stop and hang out with Randal for an hour. We both had a wonderful tea, enjoyed the quiet music and inviting surroundings, and each other’s company. I won’t forget about SiTea’s option as an oasis of enjoyment again.

Grandpa’s Meatballs
My grandfather’s meatballs were the stuff of legend. Seriously, they were that good. There was something about the way he cooked—no doubt taught by his Italian immigrant parents—that just made everything taste a little better, but especially when it came to the meatballs. My aunt Jackie once sat down with him and dutifully recorded everything he did, step-by-step, to try and replicate them. And while we still can’t get them quite as good as his… they’re awfully close. In November I ended up making about 600 cocktail-sized meatballs using his recipe, more or less. (I drew the line at pan-frying all of them, due to the sheer number, so they were baked in the oven instead.) And while they were indeed absolutely delicious, what really made me happy… was just the act of making them. It was a very calming, pleasurable experience. I put some music and podcasts on, rolled up my sleeves, and just cooked for about five hours. A great way to spend an afternoon, and a way to remember what a wonderful guy my grandfather was in all aspects of life.

“Get Myself Together” by Robyn
Seriously, I can’t stop listening to this song. Why was this not released as a single? So good.

Unseasonably Warm Weather
For a couple of days this week we had crazy warm weather for December in the DC area. Monday and Wednesday morning involved wearing shorts (with a long-sleeved shirt) while running outdoors at 6am. That’s not normally something that happens again until March. A cold front has since swept back in—and to be fair, this warm weather is probably not a good thing in terms of the future for the planet and things like that—but it was great to break out some polo shirts to wear to work and just enjoy a couple days of semi-warmth. But now, back to the winter gear it seems…

Storm Damage Photos

Just a couple of glimpses of what my neighborhood looks like, after Friday night’s storms… Sadly, these are somewhat typical for the area. (We were quite lucky. No power loss or damage.)


This is actually one of the less-bad examples. As you can see if you look on the right-hand side, the tree actually snapped right through the trunk. Happily, when it came crashing down it did NOT hit anyone’s house or car. (There are a lot of totaled cars in the area.) This is about three blocks away from our home.


This one happened just a block and a half down the street; the tree when it came down managed to straddled three properties; it started in what we’ll call property #3, destroyed the fence between it and property #2, and stretched across all of property #2 to even extend into the right-hand side of property #1. This tree took out power lines with it (ack) and completely blocked the driveway (and even walkway) of property #2, where Alice and Tony live. Ugh. And unlike the previous photo…


…this one wasn’t just the trunk snapping. As you can see here, the entire root system came up with it. Yikes. Still, at the end of the day, a hole in the yard and a destroyed fence is much better than a smashed house or car. (And since then, chainsaws have cut up the portions of the tree blocking the driveways to properties #1-2, so that’s good. Still no power as of this morning though.)

Dark City

As most people who were following this particular news story over the weekend will know, Hurricane Irene did thankfully little damage to the Washington DC area. Our cable/internet/phone service went out for about 24 hours, and a lot of Takoma and Takoma Park was without power as well. But aside from a walk up to the farmer’s market on Sunday morning, I hadn’t gone out until late in the afternoon when I hopped the Metro to downtown and caught The Help. My metro station had no power, so all the gates were open and we were told to get the station conductor at our destination to get our cards scanned there. (Happily the person running the exit gate at Gallery Place just let me out without having to pay. Free ride!)

But it was after the movie, when we were driving home (Charlie had driven down earlier in the day to get some work done) that we discovered that a lot of DC still didn’t have any power. It was around 9:30 at night, and as we drove up North Capitol Street/Blair Road, the one mile stretch between Madison St and Whittier St was almost completely dark.

It’s initially an eerie sensation to drive through a completely dark city street. Never mind the lack of street or traffic lights, there are no porch lights, or glimmers from people’s windows… nothing. And there were remarkably few cars out on the road, either, which plunged our ride home into even further darkness.

It was rather beautiful. It makes you feel like you’re the only people out there (even though it’s of course patently not true), gliding quietly through the darkness. Occasionally a car going southbound would pass by, but otherwise we were all alone in the night, the city to ourselves, our surroundings shifting back and forth from a purplish-black to complete darkness.

When we got to Aspen Rd (and power), it was almost a bit of a disappointment. Sure, I was glad that we still had power at home, and felt bad for my friends and neighbors that were going without. But it was a pleasant, brief experience that is rarely duplicated.

So in all sincerity… thanks, Irene. You really were good for something, after all.

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.

“The stormmaker says it ain’t so bad…”

After going to the gym this evening (I’ve missed you too, rowing machine), I was confronted by rain… Well, make that a downpour. And rumbles of thunder in the distance. Oh, great, I thought. They’d been predicting storms for the afternoon, and it looked like they were arriving a bit late.

But I was already sweaty and gross, so if I could just keep my iPod from getting drenched it was no big deal. After stalling for a minute or two, and tucking headphones and iPod into a shorts pocket as best I could, I sprinted through the rain. Someone ran by me in the opposite direction, running shoes in one hand and sqeulching along in flip-flops, a big grin on his face. I smiled back, dodging streams of mulch residue finally made to the car.

It was about ten feet away from the car that I noticed the direction I was running had utterly clear skies, even as the rain continued to come down in buckets all around me. That’s odd. I’d wisely put the keys in my hand before heading out the door, and I jumped into the car and pulled the door shut behind me.

The rain instantly stopped.

Not a slow lessening, or a shift to a drizzle. One second, rain so strong it was hard to see. The next second, gone.

I probably laughed for a good two minutes before starting up the car and driving home, waving to everyone now leaving the gym nice and dry.

Here We Snow Again (or, Snowverkill)

I do find it funny that when it snows an awful lot, my gut reaction (no pun intended) is to cook. I have actually run out of one size of plastic container, between all the leftover cream of cauliflower soup, chicken and oregano chili, and sun-dried tomato chicken that I’ve been making. (The latter two in my trusty crock pot, which I love to death this time of year.)

Meanwhile, they’re calling for more snow today and tomorrow. We’ll see what happens. I’m hoping at this point they’re over-predicting and it will just be five inches. (Just five inches, he says. An attitude normally shared by people who live much further north than me.) I suspect the 25″ is some wild-overshooting. Or is that just a nervous whimper in my voice?

SNOWVERKILL

At the rate we’re going, I won’t see my office all week. I am still working, though; the government may close but our deadlines don’t change as a result. So I’ve got the laptop set up and I’m plugging away. I did have a nice lunch with Karon today though; we couldn’t take being in our homes any longer and needed a change of scenery. It’s always nice to see something different even for a few hours. (I ate way too much, though. I’d say it would be salad-for-dinner time except that salad ingredients were apparently the first to get wiped out locally. Oh well.)

I’ve also decided that if I ruled the world I’d get all of the major highways heated. Or perhaps twenty feet tall hairdryers at strategic locations to melt all the snow. Seriously, where the hell are we going to put it all? I have mental fantasies of the snow getting airlifted into the Potomac River, but it usually then ends with the Potomac overflowing and sweeping Old Town Alexandria away. Oops.

Fingers crossed for no more snow. Please, please, please no more snow.

I Am Half Sick of Snow

They’re predicting snow again for the DC area, and a lot of it. After our mid-December snowpocalypse, I’ve noticed that there’s been a distinct shift in attitude when it comes to snow in this area. Normally those who hate snow curse bitterly at the mention of it, and others jump up and down with varying degrees of excitement. When we had snow last weekend, though, I didn’t spy anyone outside frolicing in the snow. No one trying to sled, or build snowmen, or even just walk around and enjoy it. The only people I saw outside were firmly heading towards a destination, usually to or from the Whole Foods down the street.

Red and White and Green

I can’t say I blame them, to be honest. I hated snow with a white hot passion (no pun intended) for many years, thanks to working at a grocery store. Snow meant everyone would rush into the store and buy up all the milk, eggs, bread, and toilet paper. (I believe I’ve mentioned this phenomenon before as “french toast and diarrhea season.”) And whenever people would start to finally get normal about the weather and their reactions, we’d have something crazy like the blizzard of 1996 where two feet of snow dumped onto the area.

Mind you, that was fairly nuts. Our trucks were immobilized for several days and all the stores actually did start running out of products (thanks in part to people coming in and buying 12 gallons of milk all at once; no lie, I saw it on far too many occasions) and we had lines going all the way to the end of the store. Once the trucks were able to finally get out again, mid-week, they could only stop at one store in each region. So I’d take the seats out of my parents’ mini-van and drive it to the drop-off store and fill it up with boxes of eggs and bring them back to our store. (By Wednesday I started to wonder if the only actual food we had left in the store was butter-flavored cooking spray.) It was, easily, the most memorable part of working at Giant Food after graduation from college.

Anyway, the madness has begun here once again. They’re predicting a snownami for Friday and Saturday, and people are freaking out. I’d actually forgotten about it while on the way to work this morning, and thought I’d stop by Trader Joe’s and get something for lunch. Eek. Well, at least it was only 9:30 when I got there, so while it was busy for that time of day, it wasn’t totally-insane levels of people. Yet. (A co-worker went to the grocery store an hour ago and said it is running out of food. Oh come on people, how can you not have food for several days in your home already?)

So, here’s my hopes for the snow, in order of my hopes.

  1. Psych! Only a couple of inches of snow.
  2. It’s not so bad that the movie theatre up the hill closes, as I’d like to see Invictus this weekend.
  3. Entire Eastern Seaboard gets so much snow that it snaps off and plunges into the ocean, thus meaning that everyone who bet that sort of thing would happen to California first looks awfully surprised.

Really, #1 or 2 would be fine. Too much to ask for? Oh well, maybe I’ll finally get to re-arrange the contents of my kitchen cabinets.

Frozen Florida

*blows dust off of the website*

Er, yeah. It’s been a busy month. But I suppose I should at least briefly mention my trip to Florida two weeks ago, to run the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge at Walt Disney World. It probably would have been an unremarkable trip (aside from running 39.3 miles over the course of a weekend), except for one little problem… that horrible cold front that ripped through a lot of the country, including Florida.

When we signed up for these races a year ago, I honestly didn’t imagine us bundled up with three layers of clothing, winter hats, gloves, and still being cold. Which is, of course, exactly how we felt.

Brrrrrr (pt 2)

Yeah. Cold. Very cold. So cold that on Sunday we bought additional pairs of gloves, rain parkas, and towels for additional insulation for before the race started. (Once you’re running, it doesn’t so matter that it’s 25 degrees out. And sleeting. No really, it sleeted on us on Saturday for the half marathon.)

On the bright side, we did get to pose for all sorts of silly photographs with various Disney characters; for the full marathon we stopped at literally every single one we saw. We figured it would be a good way to combat having run the half marathon the morning before.

Stitch!

I mean, hello, it’s Stitch! Only from my favorite (non-Pixar) Disney animated movie Lilo and Stitch, after all. As the race went on, we got a little sillier and punchier, too. So we ended up with photos like this:

Launchpad McQuack

So yeah, we froze during the races. But it was a ton of fun. And the other days were nice, too. We went to all four parks over the course of three days, which was a blast. We ate at two of the nice restaurants in Epcot (Le Cellier and Teppan Edo), something I’d never done before and quite enjoyed. And thanks to an iPhone app that tells you wait times for rides, we went on a lot of rides.

Oh yeah, even when it wasn’t 6am, we still froze. Oh well. It would have been nice to wear t-shirts instead of coats, but it was none the less a great trip. But now I need to go back sometime when the weather is a little more cooperative, right?

The Gang