Thursday, August 25, 2005

I can't decide

Not that either one is great, but I couldn't decide which one of these to post, so here they both are.

This is the bowling alley that is across S. Pickett from our building, which you can actually see in one of the shots--the brick one with the flat white roof in the distant, as if atop the hill that our building is indeed atop. To be more specific, this is the back of the bowling alley. I believe that before Cameron Station and other developments were put up in the area, this sign was intended to display the location of the bowling alley down Duke Street some ways. Now, however, it shines down (if they ever light it, which I doubt they do) onto the back windows of a row of Cameron Station townhouses and a little medical strip mall. Nonetheless, it's one of my favorite neighborhood icons. I'm not sure if I would like it so much if the "w" was complete. Something about the missing cover on the "w" makes it perfect.

Barky sometimes wants to come down here, although he's usually disappointed once we do get down behind the bowling alley because there's really nothing back here. However, the addition of the oriental rug place--hey, that's what they call themselves, I didn't make up the "oriental" part--has been a highlight, since they are always leaving food strewn around the parking lot.

It all looks intentionally strewn. I presume it's for birds or squirrels or the like. Barky presumes that it's for him. He would.

Cameron Station

This is actually in Ben Brenman park, which is adjacent to the Cameron Station development. It's one of Barky's favorite places to walk, and it's hard to tell from the photo, but this was a lovely evening. The light glow of the setting sun illuminated the water of the fountain, the air was warm, but the breeze foretold a pleasantly cool night.

Everyone seems to find the changing weather a relief as we do; there were plenty of walkers, joggers, and dogs out enjoying the weather, the light, and each other. People seemed to be taking their time, chatting, strolling a little more slowly than they do on those sweltering summer nights, when every movement is a struggle.

Tomatoes

Here's our tomato plant growing into the sky--it's about six feet tall now--and here's one of the two--count them, two--tomatoes that it has yielded to date.

At first I thought that we were too high up for many bees or other bugs to come around and pollinate the flowers, because there were plenty of blossoms, the plant was growing strong, but none of them developed into tomatoes. They all just dried up and fell off.

As the plant got bigger, however, something else began to happen: the blossoms began to disappear. We aren't here all day, so I can't verify this, but my current theory is that the birds are, for reasons unbeknownst to me, taking off all the blossoms. Barky, our watchdog, has no idea what's going on either.

To be fair, it's not like he could get to the birds even if he did know what was going on. It's not like we can leave him on the balcony all day. The kids who are out there, the tortugas, are not much use either. Depending on the birds, the turtles may be prey as much as the blossoms are.

Anyway, we'll see if these two tomatoes make it. Next year, netting.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Trees

The heat and humidity have broken again, making for beautiful weather again...finallyam at the end of what's been a hot--damn hot---summer.

A good day to walk out here into the Winkler preserve behind work and chat with the trees.

Goodbye, hello

We went into DC last night to Rick's house, behind the Marine barracks, to say goodbye to Emily, Wifey's coworker who is moving to Michigan to go back to school. Conveniently, that's where her man, Scott, is going to school too. He and I are now working on a plan to convince Wifey and Emily to move out to the SF area.

As we left, we got this beautiful picture of little Qwynn Lula and Papa Gene...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

It's never enough

2 dog beds, 2 chairs, 1 king bed with a pillow top, 5 carpets, and the favorite--the couch...but it's not enough...not enough space, that is.

Guess it rained last night

Out walking Barky before it gets miserably hot, although the humidity is already over 80 percent. I guess summer's back.

And I guess that it rained last night after we turned in, which was early because we were both tired for reasons we couldn't account for. We're both looking forward to our long spa weekend coming up. It won't be the endless hot soaks of Steamboat, but it will be a good get away, we're sure.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

More pics from the vigil

As darkness fell, Chuck, the organizer called the Peace House in Crawford. We all listened through the PA as he talked to one of the cofounders of Code Pink who was describing the vigil that was just getting started there. Chuck asked what they needed, and she referred us to the Web site, where they list what they need and have a PayPal link where people can donate money.

A good crowd

Not all the 225 who RSVP'd were there, but I'd say that probably 1/2 that many were there, although it was hard to tell, since people were spread out across the yard, around the pool, and still arriving when we were leaving.

Nice night for a vigil

The weather cooperated, the sun was just setting as we arrived, and everyone was helpful and friendly. It was nice to get together, but it's never nice to have to get together under such circumstances--to have to band together outside the gated preserve of an insulated leader in an attempt to beg just a moment of his time brings to mind some other Americans who threw off the yoke that another king george had laid across their necks.

If Shrub can explain himself, his actions, his reasons for leading us into this war, why won't he talk to anyone outside his coterie of sycophants?

Candlelight Vigil

We headed down to a very nice part of Fairfax County, next to Fort Belvoir, around the corner from Sen. George Allen's house, and attended a nice candlelight vigil in support of Cindy Sheehan.

There were candles and signs. It was a candlelight vigil all right.

Goin' to the vigil...

Got Barky home from daycare; gave blood on the way home from work; now we're heading down Mt. Vernon way to attend our local candlelight vigil for Cindy Sheehan. Turnout is expected to be high; we'll see how many make it. There are also 1,500 or so other vigils scheduled for tonight across the country.

We'll try to take some snaps and share them if they're worth passing along. (They'll be with the phonecam in the dark, so they may not be much to look at.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

WaMo

They lit it up later. Until then, we just had to enjoy the sky and silhouette.

The Big Sleep on the Mall

Some corporate folks sponsor Screenn on the Green every summer, in conjunction with the Nat'l Park Service. It used to be down by the Washington Monument, but now we face the Capitol, probably due to security concerns.

You never know what some clove smoking, beret wearing film geek would do when confronted with the razor sharp wit slicing back and forth between Bogie and Bacall in a flick like this.

The WaMo was also resplendent on this beautiful, (finally) cool evening. Pic of that next.

We had a great Korean picnic from Java Green, although we missed the ice cream cart...so we had to swing by the Del Ray Dreamery to get some frozen custard...cinnamon oatmeal cookie custard in a tin roof sundae. Are you kidding? It doesn't get any better than an evening like this.

Unless you're the dog, who had to wait at home. And sleep some more. Rough life.

Mama!

Mama and Papa had a baby! Little Qwynn Lula is beautiful, as we would expect from two such beautiful people. Now all she has to do is choose between the Avs and the Red Wings. All our love to them. We can't wait to meet little Qwynn.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Kiln sign

Here's the phonecam shot of the charcoal kiln sign. Good luck.

I am my mother's son

So, on our bike ride today I stopped to take a picture of these charcoal kilns. Yes, I also took a picture of the interpretive sign that explains them, but I doubt that you'll be able to read it in the picture I took with my little phonecam. I'll post it next for y'all to check.

We rode on the W&OD trail, which is the Washington and Old Dominion trail. It follows the route off the old W&OD railroad for 40 miles between Alexandria and, uh, wherever it ended. (We've never ridden to the end of the trail.)

These kilns are, if my memory and sense of geography serve me correctly, around Leesburg. We started in Herndon and rode out to about Leesburg or so. The whole ride was almost exactly 30 miles, so we rode about 15 miles west from the old Herndon train station, for those of you keeping score at home. It was much cooler and less humid today than we expected, which was good because we got a much later start than we had planned on. Our sleep cycles are still a little off from our travels, so we were up until 3 a.m. today watching "The Aviator" on pay-per-view. (Good movie. Crazy dude.)

We left home at about 11, which meant that it was hot enough to stop at Dairy Queen when we got back to the car. Bummer.

Friday, August 05, 2005

farewell to Bal

We said our farewell walking around the Big Island with Barky and the fam on Wed. night. Another beautiful night. Did I mention the beautiful weather?

My Balboa Bar's been drinking

You don't think so? Look at his eyes. That's not chocolate sauce he's been dipping into.

Barky's friend

This wasn't the only dog we met on our walks around the island, but it was the only one that was baying. Funny, it was baying every time we went by.

"the waaaaaiting is the hardest part"

As Petty said, this is the hardest part. Barky is waiting for the Barkery to open. It's the gourmet dog treat bakery (and general pet swag shop) next to Dad's Donuts, and it was never open when we went for donuts, so we repeated this scene every morning. It was very sad for the little fuzzball, but he did get to go in when we went by later in the day (no matter what he says to the contrary).

Chris' shoes

Nice Chuck's.

The shoes he graduated in, I believe. Niiice.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

at Ruby's

Now I know that I mentioned the beautiful weather, so I won't belabor the point.

Here we are, enjoying the beautiful weather, at Ruby's at the end of the Balboa pier. Cathy, Julianne, and Cathy's Doug were back at the house, having just returned from Julianne's swim workout at the Y. They met up with us for a walk around the Big Island after dinner.

pretty

That's all...pretty.

U drive. No, U drive.

The U drive lady's hair is still as lively as ever in the 5 knot breeze.

Oh, did I mention the beautiful weather? Did I have to after I wrote "we're in California"?

Perhaps I should say "normal weather." You know, the kind with warm days and cool evenings. The kind of evenings that make you feel like night is coming on, like curling up to get warm, not the kind that make you feel like you're losing body weight due to the volume of fluids you've sweat out.

what's up with this?

You go away for a year, and now the place is crawling with monsters.
First that gull thing, now Cecil the Seasick Seawall Serpent down by the ferry.

that's not a seagull

Apparently, a good way to show a birder that you're not up on your birds is to call any gull a seagull. OK, I don't know what kind of gull this is, but I'm guessing that it's not a seagull. Perhaps, "ferocious, terrifying, faster than the wind, eat you and your little dog too gull," but definitely not a seagull.

back to now

There were many more pics from our trip to Vermont for the 4th, but at this late date, I think it's better to just skip ahead to (almost) today. Brother Doug picked us up at LAX and carted all of us down to Balboa, including Barky, who was disoriented but enthusiastic.

Although we didn't go to Dad's for lunch, opting for Picante Martin's next door, Barky and I did wait on the bench outside Dad's. I occupied myself with the camera while Barky licked all the crumbs he could find off the sidewalk. Niiiice.

after all these years

But I also like the ones like this that are still standing after all these years. The picture doesn't do justice to the stonework, the multipaned picture window across the front wall, the beautiful timbers, and the location of this little gem.

hey, Chicken Little

Here's the house that the sky hit when it fell. (I heard that it didn't fall, that it was brought down by the liberal media.)

I don't know what it is, but something about these collapsed houses fascinates me. Bring me the leaning, the slowly tumbling down, the fallen, and the ruins. There's something about them I can't take my eyes off of.

you'll never know

Two Editors Inn.

With one editor, you at least know one right way to say it. With a dozen editors, you at least know the least offensive way to say it. With two editors, you'll never know what's right, but you will know all about each side of the debate.

back to Vermont

Let's see how much I can mess up the timeline here. Now we're back to the trip to Vermont for the 4th. You can see that we ate lunch in Pennsylvania. Not a square meal. Round pita PB&Js.

"you do know that there's a thing called television, right?"

I think there's a quota system in place in first class on flights from and to LAX. I don't know what the percentage is, but it appears that a percentage of the people seated in first class must be reading a script. I'm presuming for TV or film, since this ain't New York, yaknowwhattImean?

On the flight out and now on the flight back, there's at least a couple doing some script reading. Well, they're holding them on their laps, at least. Some dozing--that's a sure sign of an engaging script--some watching TV.

Ready for your close-up now?

I'm a vegetarian, not a health nut

Gimme that damn french toast!

We're on AA 76 from LAX to Dulles, and we just finished breakfast. This is not our first parade, so we made sure to order vegetarian meals--and, yes, they were serving food since we upgraded to first class. If we were in steerage, where we normally sit, it wouldn't be an issue; we would have just brought food on with us.

We've noticed an assumption in our vegetarian meals on flights. This isn't the first one that's included the assumption, but it's among the biggest letdowns we've had: We were snoozing peacefully after takeoff when the flight attendant dropped off breakfast menus. They offer an appetizer of fresh fruit and three entrees. This is brunch, so there's a pepper jack cheese omlette that comes with turkey Canadian bacon, so we skipped over that to the second selection: cinnamon apple french toast. The menu describes this as "golden french toast filled with a cinnamon apple cream cheese served with maple syrup accompanied by scrambled eggs." Mmm. That sounds good--better than the third option: cereal and yogurt. All of these will be followed by a warm chocolate chip cookie with milk as a snack later in the flight.

So, we were ready with our order when the flight attendant came back and said, "Sorry for giving you menus. I have your special order meals already." That's when we knew the jig was up, the fix was in, that they were assuming the worst about us.

Our suspicion of what their assumption would lead to was based on what it led to on the flight to LAX: a fruit platter. That's right, while everyone around us was enjoying "golden french toast filled with a cinnamon apple cream cheese," we were dining on melon slices, grapes, walnut shards, and raisins. There was also some grapefruit, which spilled its sour juice over everything else on the plate. We didn't eat it because, well, because it was sour."Golden french toast filled with a cinnamon apple cream cheese" or a mouthful of sour citrus? Let me think about that one for a minute.

To be fair, we did partake of the same "baked on board" biscuits that everyone else did, so there's that. (Although "baked on board" somehow makes me think of the flight attendants in the galley with a Barbie oven, baking with the heat of a 40W bulb.) But, again we were subject to the airline's assumption--and it's not just American that does this--that because we're vegetarians, we're health nuts.

The result is that they throw fruit plates with some of what I call "dirt and rocks" at us--in this case, walnuts and raisins. Hey, you know, if we were health nuts, our first complaint would be that they're not providing us any significant protein, like we would have gotten from that egg that accompanied the "golden french toast filled with a cinnamon apple cream cheese." Did I mention the french toast? But, heads up, airlines--and other institutional food servers--when we call in advance and say that we don't want any meat, but that we will eat eggs and dairy products, don't assume that you can throw some dirt and rocks in a bowl and make us happy.

Hell, we're the ones that stopped at Dad's Donuts on the way off Balboa Island to get one last batch (and thanks to Dad's for the three free ones for the road...mmmm...). We stopped in the airport to pick up See's chocolates for our coworkers and ourselves. We love ice cream--did I mention the Balboa Bars we had last night, walking around the Big Island? Maybe I didn't mention all these things, but maybe you should ask before you put together your next set of vegetarian menus and meals.

And thanks for the warm chocolate chip cookie and milk. Please don't replace that with a granola-hemp bar and vanilla soy milk.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

dog days of summer

I think that "dog days" has something to do with the position of the dog star, Sirius, but I could be wrong. It might refer to the temperature a dog has to endure in the back seat on a road trip.

Monday, August 01, 2005

chillin'

There was nothing to do about the traffic, but we were chillin' with the a/c and iced coffee.