Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas to remember

Today is January 9th, 2010. I've been writing this since December 12, 2009! I just retrieved it from draft status....

So here's what I wrote in December:

At the beginning of the month, we went to the Christmas Revels on the campus of George Washington University, an annual DC tradition for the past 25 years. The Revels take place in 10 other US cities, including Houston. It was my father who went to one there many years ago, who turned me on to seeing one someday, so when I found we had one right here, nothing would stop me from seeing it. If your city has one, you must go! They put on spring and harvest festivals also.

This year, it was set in Renaissance Florence, and we, along with every one of Italy's noble families (Doge of Venice, Medici, d'Este, Borghese, et al. in all their sumptuous brocaded and bejewelled splendor) were guests of il maestro Leonardo da Vinci and his hilarious assistant Esmeralda.

We learned all sorts of Italian carols and winter songs, were treated to traditional Renaissance music and dances, as well as one segment to Saturnalia, the Roman winter solstice, and saw some of da Vinci's inventions at work. By the end of the first half, the whole audience was skipping around the auditorium to "Lord of the Dance" and by the end of the second half, we were singing in rounds.


We were supposed to move to our new home this weekend, but that plan was completely ruined by the worst winter storm in nearly 70 years. It stopped short of a blizzard because although the winds did gust a little, they didn't pick up too much. It snowed so heavily for about 24 hours that visibility was reduced to about half a block, and we got at least a foot of snow. The whole world looked as though it had been smothered in whipped cream and meringue and icing sugar.

Stores were sold out of anything that could possibly be used to slide down a hill, and therefore every slope in the city was being used.

We went out in the SUV and wondered at the people who thought they could take their cars out in all that snow. Loads of them were spinning wheels and stuck in drifts. Even the SUVs were challenged, but we managed. It was fun exploring the winter wonderland.

People were discouraged from walking on the plowed streets, and were left to trudge through snow up to their knees. Some smart ones actually cross-country skiied.
Lots of people hitched rides, and when we got to Tenleytown we picked up a woman and dropped her off at the apartments across the road from the National Cathedral. Jeffy told her that someone had done him the same favor 10 years ago when he too was living there.

By 4pm, we found ourselves in Georgetown, which is picturesque at any time of year. We were determined to walk around, fall down, and make snow angels somewhere. We soon found ourselves at Book Hill Park near Dumbarton Oaks, the museum, library, and gardens we visited in the early summer. There were a few people there snowboarding and skiing down the hill beside the steps, and we stumbled and slipped our way up the snow mound to a circle of benches on a plateau. The snow was undisturbed and I was tempted to sit in the foot of snow on each bench. But we were there to make snow angels, my first ever --- or so I thought.......

As I fumbled about in my ski pants and down-filled coat, slightly deaf with my furry hood on, I wasn't properly absorbing whatever Jeffy was saying. This is what I gathered:

"Why is this park important?"
*Thinking....something to do with the Revolution?*
"I don't know Jeffy......because we're in it....?
*He laughs* "Sort of."
He keeps talking, something about how we keep saying we are so well matched, my Mum and God designed him, and his grandmother and God designed me.
I climb onto a bench to face him, just because the fresh snow made me hyper, and place my hands on his shoulders.
He says something something something, how much he loves me, something something, [I get suspicious].......and isn't this a good time to acknowledge how we feel [it registers in my brain]. He puts his hand in his pocket.
I jump off the bench, somehow sensing a little velvet black box is going to appear.
A little black velvet box appears.
He opens it and after the acknowledge part, something about "ask you to marry me".
I say "Oh my bee" followed by "Of course."

How did I know? With us, it was inevitable. But quite often we are thinking the same thing, and often steal each other's lines. So perhaps because I was holding his shoulders as I jumped off the bench, I was again reading his mind. :-)

His best friend wanted him to propose at his 40th birthday at the end of November, with all 20 of his closest friends and relatives at the table, but he told Jay he didn't have the ring yet.

Ah yes, about the ring. It took Jeffy two weeks to choose and design it. He "interviewed" many diamonds at 10-15x magnification and considered many bands, until he finally settled on a stone and a band that went together and said to him "Livvy".

It's delicate, dainty, simple, and sweet. I think "sweet" is one of the first words I used to describe it the moment I could catch my breath. I feel as though I don't deserve such a fiery stone.

I'd love to post pictures but it seems the process has changed - I can't link to pics on Flickr anymore, but feel free to look at them here:

Snow in NW DC:

Georgetown before climbing up to Book Hill Park:

Jeffy just before proposing:

The ring in two lights:

Now I must be off to get ready. When Jeffy comes back from his Baltimore house (which he's just rented out to a nice young couple) we will go out to get a rug and look at furniture.

We moved for 4 days between Christmas and New Year's. It was exhausting, and now we have stuff everywhere and no furniture to put it in though the closets are full. Jeffy has accumulated junk, and repeatedly moved with it in numbered boxes. I've opened his eyes (a bag of receipts from 1987? A video camera that hasn't worked for 6 years? An empty camera box inside an empty box?) so he's promised himself and me that he will de-clutter so we can find space for the things that matter.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stay Tuned

Thank you for the December nudge, Glo!

Stay tuned for an update...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy November

Hello, hello, and thank you Glo for nudging me!

Not only has Facebook made me lazy, but I still can't figure out how to blog with everything going on. Jeffy and I are buying a home! Closing probably at the end of this month, so we'll celebrate for Jeffy's birthday, and be in before Christmas.

It's not too far from here, and in the same "area", but it is about a block from the DC line. I'll be one stop closer to work, and a much shorter walk from home, so I estimate shaving 15-20 minutes off my commute, and saving 80 cents per day. Which means I could stay with the same morning schedule and get in earlier! Whereas he walks now and his office is right above the metro, Jeffy would have to take the metro one stop north. 'Tis only fair...

The condo we're buying is a real gem. The area is considered the Rodeo Drive of the East Coast. (Ironically I don't shop at Fendi, Tiffany, Saks 5th Avenue, Bloomingdales, or Lord & Taylor, but there they are. It lends a nice atmosphere, of course. However, my other favorite stores are also there: TJ Maxx, Filene's, Loehmann's, and all the other groceries and bookstores - a Whole Foods is under construction too!) Our building is in a "village" that encompasses only a few blocks, so, basically, a desirable neighborhood within a desirable area. The village runs a shuttle bus from the residential buildings to the main stores. There is a new village center that has a fitness center, gallery, theater, classes, library, and so on. Lots of twee green spaces, flowers, benches, sculptures, a fountain. Sort of a hidden enclave behind the shops, so I never knew about it when I lived in the area before and used to shop around there.

How do I describe it in short? It's going to be difficult because I've never lived in such a neat place. The building is high-rise and has more amenities than we can shake a stick at - valet laundry, dry cleaner, and convenience store downstairs. Gym and huge pool with lanes on the roof, as well as a roof deck. Beautiful lobby, marble floors, brushed bronze and wood paneled elevators with discreet tinted mirrors.

The 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo itself is nearly at the top and has been refurbished to the highest standard I've seen. Maple and tile floors. High end brushed steel appliances that would be so far out of my price range I'd never look at them in the store. Gorgeous light fittings. Granite counters in the kitchen and bathroom. Brushed nickel fixtures. Tons of storage.

I can't wait, and neither can Jeffy. He is excited about the kitchen.

On Halloween, we went into Georgetown dressed as a buccaneer and buccaneer babe. Pics are up on Facebook of course, clicky here.

Work has been good. I've been working hard. I had the day off today because my company gets federal holidays. However, it was cold and rainy. I bummed around all morning and then met Jeffy for a quick lunch. Then I went down to the shopping area near our new home, and did some shopping in preparation for winter, having grown out of most of my clothes from last year!

Well, it's nearly bedtime and it's back to work again for me tomorrow, so I'd better say goodnight and try to visit your blogs another day.

I hope you all are well. If anyone comes by, perchance, do leave me an update in the comment section! I'd appreciate that. Miss you all!

Till next nudge ;-)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Hi everyone, time for another email blog post!

Thank you Glo for the nudge. I think I need you around to do that from time to time :-)

My dad is in town this week, and Jeffy and I are meeting up with him every evening after work. I haven't seen him in nearly three years. Unfortunately, the DC area has been inflicted with some cooler temps and English rain for the week but that doesn't stop him. He's even more outdoorsy now than he was before moving out to Calgary.

I have posted
a link to my Facebook album of this summer, so I hope you visit and get caught up. Also feel free to add me since that's easier for me to update daily.

Going chronologically:

Early on we spent a weekend at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. It rained a bit but we still got our feet wet and played Skeeball.

Then there was a Tracy Chapman concert in Baltimore where we hung out with one of Jeff's law school friends.

We took a quick trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania where we learned all about chocolate and even ate some, including taking a "chocolate flight". We ate dinner one evening at Jeff's cousin's house nearby. Lovely place, great kids, huge dog, etc.

There was a double birthday at Jeff's sister's house in the Baltimore area, where I met his mom (in town for the weekend) and his younger sister and her 3 very well-behaved boys, though her hubby was out of state at a reunion. We played a bit of pitching and batting with the boys until the mosquitoes ate us alive, followed by Scrabble with his mother (she won).

A couple of weekends ago, we joined Jeffy's mom at her lake house in Traverse City, Michigan. It was cold and rainy but we managed to enjoy ourselves before leaving by climbing the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Also, I beat them both at Scrabble!Labor Day weekend was just that - laboring in the house to tidy up, hang shelves, run errands, and just enjoy having a 3-day weekend.

We went to a wedding near Sugarloaf Mountain, where the groom approved of me and said all the good things about Jeffy that he could think of. He said Jeff had told him I was pretty, but added that I was even prettier than he'd expected. And the bride said, "You're next!" We danced, tried to catch the bouquet/garter, and ate chocolate covered strawberries.

Well, must get back to work now.

I hope you're all well and I'll try to pop by and say hi this weekend.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Email blog

*wind whistles forlornly*

*tumbleweed rolls past half-heartedly*

Is anybody out there...?

This is a quick post to say - I am still here, and I think about blogging more often than I can. But I think I've discovered the problem: I am never home long enough to check blogs, and it's not allowed at work. Email blogs will do. And I no longer stay up till 3am; I keep normal hours instead. I think adulthood has begun in earnest...

Facebook rocks, however. We are allowed to do that at work. Status updates are the way to go.

Blog update, anyone?

Still doing the whole organizing and buying of organizational things. Every weekend consists of going to Bed Bath and Beyond, or HomeGoods, or the hardware store, so it's falling into place one thing at a time. Also, Jeffy is homehunting, well, his colleague-who-is-also-a-realtor is doing so on his behalf, but not fast enough.

As a result of partially re-organizing the kitchen, we're able to cook at home a couple of times a week. Grilled veal with a spicy quinoa-rice blend (by me), and a salad with walnuts, feta, and raspberry dressing (by Jeffy). Or tuna steaks in a soy/honey/sesame chili oil/sesame seed reduction (by me) with garlic wild rice (by Jeffy), and a salad of sliced tomato sprinkled with feta, cilantro, xtra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar (Jeffy). We're still a good team in the kitchen!

But THIS weekend we take a break and are going off to Hershey, Pennsylvania to visit Hershey's Chocolate World - where we will take a ride through the story of chocolate-making, and have a choc-tasting experience, and go to the museum. (There is also Hershey Park, which is a theme park, but that's not what we're going for.) Then we go to another town nearby to meet his cousin and family. We will stay at a lovely Victorian B&B in Hershey, then on Sunday we're off to Baltimore to hang out with his law school buddy F, and catch a Tracy Chapman concert.

P.S. I drafted this probably sometime Friday. I hope to give a weekend update soon - we did remember to take SOME photos, but not as many as usual.

P.P.S. Thanks Glo! Once again you've come looking for me, so I got this out of my Drafts box and sent it off!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Forgotten July

Like some of my fellow bloggers, posts have been few and far between. There is simply too much going on.

Jeffy and I are still setting up house because we can only make progress on weekends. People who accomplish things on weekday evenings after work must be superhuman.

Yesterday I scrubbed the kitchen from top to bottom while Jeffy assembled our fantastic bamboo kitchen cart. Yes, it is made of bamboo! It's quite heavy and substantial, a really nice piece of furniture - the top is half bamboo board and half granite slab.

It looks like we will have to go to London in early September. Some of you may remember that my mother has been suffering for over a year now with an undiagnosed degenerative nerve condition and has been undergoing a series of tests at Whittington Hospital. Her neurologist there had referred her to a leading research specialist in the field at University College Hospital's Institute of Neurology, which has the best neurologists in the country. She was finally diagnosed on Thursday with Motor Neurone Disease, which is progressive and incurable. The outlook could be a few months, or a few years, but unless she is lucky and hits a plateau (like Stephen Hawking), there's likely not that much time. There are 4 types, and after further testing, and just seeing how it progresses, they will know which type it is. Mum herself suspects ALS (Lou Gehrig's). Most of the family has been notified that if they want to see her they must go to London, and soon, just in case she loses the ability to speak.

Essentially, MND is the worst diagnosis possible. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) would have been infinitely preferable. Imagine saying about a parent: "I wish she had MS"...

You may think I sound matter-of-fact, and yes I am - but I have had my moments this week, especially at my desk at work, and I am sure they will continue. In the face of it all, Jeffy has been a godsend. I don't know anyone else who is so full of peace, positive energy, internal strength, and pure goodness. Without him I would probably have been in pieces.


In order to end this on a lighter note, I must share something lovely. One of my most faithful and longtime readers, Moody Minstrel, has composed a delightful acoustic ballad for J and me. Those of you who know of my odyssey will see that the lyrics are perfect. It's called Matching Smiles and was inspired by the photo of us on the tall ship in Old Town Alexandria. I am sure MM won't mind me sharing this with you all, since you are also in the faithful reader circle, and I thank you for that.

Thank you a thousand times, Minstrel-san!

Matching Smiles

What flow of karma, blessed winds of fate
From Heaven's gate
Led our paths to cross?
A scene no artist's brush or author's pen
Determined how and when we came together.
Like an angel dropping from the sky,
You came, and I
Didn't see you coming.
Now I almost fear that I'll
Open my eyes and see
It's all a fantasy.
Nobody pinch me!

A breath ago I fled a grayer place
And turned my face
Toward the setting sun.
I only hoped to sate my wanderlust,
Do what I must to find some warmth and color.
But instead I found a deeper truth
Of rhyme and rhythm
And a brighter promise.
Now the words are dancing
On your lips and on the page
While language sets the stage,
A whole, new age!

We look upon the world with matching smiles
And go in style
Where even words don't go.
We'll hear the music on the 18th Street,
A swinging beat to kiss the week goodbye now.
Turn the darkness to a brighter day,
A place to stay
That is a house, a home.
The candlesticks are red,
The smell of cookies fills the air.
Between us not a care,
As long as we share!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The 4th of July

Happy Independence Day!

And a happy belated Canada Day to those of you in the north :-)

Sorry I haven't been able to check in - here or on your own blogs. I wanted to email in another post from work, but it was busy last week, and I do feel quite selfish, just posting here and lacking the time to come by yours. I really do miss you all and our old routine. [It wasn't so long ago I was neglecting the blogs, while settling in DC and my new job. Now I have to resettle in Maryland and have all that related paperwork/tax forms/HR info/driver's license, etc.] Anyway, my final nudge came from Glo whose last comment I've just read in my inbox, saying she was thinking of me and wondering if I could check in soon. Thanks, Glo - I really was touched.

Well, quick update. I moved in with J last weekend. For the first few days I kept repeating to myself, "Omigod I live with a booooy...!"

He works next to the metro, so we walk to work/metro in the mornings; he's all about holding hands on the 10 minute walk, bless him. It's a neat routine, although if I wanted to work from 9-6 Instead of 10-7 I'd have to leave alone, an hour early. Maybe eventually, eh? Plus since the metro accident (June 22) the red line has been awful, it's just like commuting in London with the delays, and standing cheek to cheek with strangers, where usually I don't wait long and get a seat.

I have a pile of STUFF in the living room through which I am still excavating/standing in puzzlement, although a lot of STUFF is hanging in my half of the closet. We went to IKEA yesterday and I learned, for the third time in my life, why I don't want to buy furniture there again. If you have to find the door, the drawer mechanism, the legs, the handles, the cabinet front, the frame, the countertop - oh the horror! - and can't pick it up on the showroom floor, then we have resolved not to buy it. The lower price is not worth the trouble in the end.

Last week we got some warm lamps. For Jeffy, nice lamps and warm colors seem to symbolize a comfy home, and that's our goal.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Update (short version)

I have written a long version to this update which I will share with you when this is all over, unless it just seems unnecessary and very old news by then.

In short I will say that neither reason nor the law have been enough to promote compromise, and Jeff is taking very good care of me, and has removed the situation from my hands almost entirely.

Last week I was inspired to create a quote:

Hope and optimism are the things that keep you looking past the present darkness
It is the sort of saying Jeff's maternal grandmother Amalie would have appreciated. She wrote a book of uplifting daily passages that I hope to finish reading sometime. It seems to run in the family, for he is never short of encouragement. Negativity is anathema to his way of life, and he follows a strong internal code of honor which is rarely seen in this day and age. It really puts me in mind of the knights of old, that is how strongly he is motivated to do the Right Thing.

I cannot get over how his capacious mind never stops creating, thinking, and considering things from every angle. Because not only does he stand on that reservoir of peace I mentioned last time, he also seems to create time with sheer willpower. He never says, "I can't". He almost always manages it, usually succeeds at whatever he puts his mind to, and never makes excuses on the rare occasions he doesn't accomplish something.

He is a Visionary I think, and when he envisions the future, I can see it too.

And then he goes and says, "But you know everything, Livvy." (When I said "I don't know" the other day to a question about the Atlantic Ocean. We were at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and I was pretty knocked out by sea air at the time, but I think now I feel an answer formulating somewhere in the back of my brain...)

I am also thankful for my job and my supportive colleagues (those who need to know); the environment of sanity that it provides; an escape from the tension of my situation at home.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Life Happens

Hi everyone,

Sorry it's been so long since I wrote here. Believe me, I wanted to, but many things are going on and .... well, I have just realized that I am probably undergoing a major life transition now.

First, I have learned a hard lesson: Current company excepted, I will from now on try to limit my dealings with New Yorkers.

My landlady finally went on the long-awaited rampage, a little earlier than I'd expected. I have never seen such wild eyes in my life.

Jeff turned out to be my knight in shining armor, surprise surprise - although he is sorry that his efforts to protect me from her by - calmly and quietly, as is his way - citing actual DC tenancy laws are what precipitated the drama and we would have been totally justified in calling the police on her.

He is representing me, and her daughter is representing her. He's drawing up a new agreement to end my lease.

He seems to "stand upon a reservoir of peace" (this is the image in my head), and uses words of wisdom, and a tone of reassurance. Within a couple of minutes he had turned her daughter's vicious approach over the phone into a reasonable legal discussion tinged with just the right amount of humanity.

I will move in with him around the end of July - he offered twice in two days, and I can stay for as long as I like, even forever. He wants to make a home, and is intensively looking to buy a place.

He has told me with utmost sincerity that he is here for me; it is a miracle that he found me; he only wanted to protect me and cannot see why anyone would be mean to me; he cares for me unconditionally and limitlessly; that Fate and Destiny have only good and bright things in store for me, and for him, and he can't wait.

And the way he looks at me...I haven't seen that since my father used to look at my mother...just the thought of it takes my breath away.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dilatory Me

I was going to blog much earlier and then 3 people called in a row!

However, the delay between Memorial Day weekend and today is long enough that my blog ought to be nice and succinct.

We went to Cape May, New Jersey.  The End.

Just kidding.

Here are some pictures:

We stayed at the Angel of the Sea, one of the best B&Bs in the country.  J said he chose a place where he thought an angel would sleep.  ;-)

The Pink House

The Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes

A Mustang on Ocean Drive

This is the Fire Department!

This is a bank!

Sunset, Day One

Cape May Lighthouse, Day One

Cape May Lighthouse on 5x optical zoom

On Saturday evening after dinner at the Ugly Mug, we played skee ball, which was a ton of fun.

Tea at the Angel of the Sea

A seaweed-covered jetty on the beach.  It was chilly on Sunday but we ran around on the beach collecting shells and stones, getting sand between our toes, catching our feet in the lapping waves, and digging up baby sand crabs.  Then we played mini golf.  In the evening, we smartened up a little and enjoyed a fine dinner at the Merion Inn on Sunday night, where an old guy played some excellent jazz numbers on a baby grand, and someone sang along.  It was all so good that we wanted to kidnap the old-timer and haul the inn back to Bethesda.

But it was suddenly HOT on Monday!  We had popcorn and frozen custard and got tanned.

The 3 hour drive there took double the time on the way home because everyone else was travelling at the same time.

We passed through Goshen, New Jersey, at a snail's pace, so I got some interesting pictures of classic white churches, there was even an old one-room school house but I couldn't get my camera out in time.

Sunset over an inlet at Cape May, one of the best photos I have ever taken.

This weekend, J and I got some pics developed, bought frames, and put them up in our respective offices.  He's had fun showing us off to colleagues and clients.

Well, it's past my bedtime so I bid you goodnight!  I'll come and see you soon, a few at at time for the rest of the week.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Impromptu weekend

Saturday we went to the Bethesda Strut Your Mutt dog show, but we were hungry for lunch first and so ate and relaxed (digesting is hard work for two small people), by which time everyone was packing up.  But we saw more than enough dogs, met a few, and nearly adopted one.

Then what to do?  As the afternoon was young we decided to check out the Greek Festival and all I will say about the one in DC is it cannot hold a candle to the one in Houston.  It's more like a street market than a festival - no printed guidebook with menus and schedules of shows, no dancing or live music.  Bah humbug!  Good thing we're planning on going to H-town in October!

It was a heavy afternoon so hot and sticky we walked a couple of blocks from the festival to the National Cathedral, where we sat on a bench under the trees to rest, cool down, watch children playing, birds catching worms, and the breeze rustling the leaves.  Then at Evensong time, 5pm, we went to the door only to find out from the chatty guide on the steps that the board was wrong and we'd missed it by an hour.  So now what?  

Jeff has an idea for everything.  Dinner in Old Town.  Old Town where?  Old Town Alexandria.  So we drive across the Potomac River from Georgetown into Old Town and go exploring.

We find free tours of an original creation - a Tall Ship, owned by an interesting commune.

(Somebody looks pleased as Punch in these photos, and I'm not referring to me.)

We found ourselves in a quaint old seafood establishment that had a big walk-in fireplace in the bar.  King Street in Old Town is full of 18th century terraces.  There's also a Queen Street, Duke Street, Princess Street.  I didn't see a Prince Street.  NYC seems to have stolen that one.  Next time I will take more pictures.  We both forgot our cameras though I had my trusty phonecam.

Anyway, I had calamari with the BEST, I mean, BEST, accompaniment EVER.  It was cilantro and sweet chili mayo, emphasis on the cilantro here, and in my opinion you can never have too much cilantro.  That's coriander leaf for my British readers.

I also had She Crab soup.  Not sure about why it's called that, but it's creamy and spicy and full of sherry so there's a warm bite of alcohol followed by a warm flush of spice which builds as you eat.


On Sunday J's mother was in town for a conference over the weekend, which she left early so that he could drive her up to Baltimore to see his nephew, who had been hospitalized earlier in the week but is now fine.  Baltimore is roughly a 45 min drive from here.  They knew he was on a schedule so he was in and out the door, and back in DC to pick me up and take me to Andrews Air Force Base for the Joint Services Open House and Air Show.

Sorry Flighty.  We got stuck in traffic owing to an accident, and by the time we were out the parking at the stadium was closed and the shuttle buses were finished and the air show was closed to further entry.

In driving around looking for a vantage point to park amongst the hundreds of other people lining the empty spaces with their cars and tailgate parties outside the event, we found ourselves turning into the AFB and down past the visitor's center to a checkpoint because we were unable to turn around.  So the guard took his driver's license and he drove round a U-turn to the exit, and his DL was returned by another guard) both carrying machine guns, and we were out.

By then I was starving with a cherry on top and fixing to faint, so he took me to Washingtonian Waterfront in Gaithersburg, where he fed me an excellent Mexican dinner of chile relleno (stuffed poblano chili - the spiciest I've had yet), and when I perked back up again we went to Target.  He bought an electric kettle so he can properly make tea, bought he can...make more tea...even though he already has tea.  And he bought me a vase for the next time he surprises me with flowers.

Then we went to his place, seasoned the kettle, made tea and more tea, two kinds, ate cookies and watched My Best Friend's Wedding until 11pm when I panicked since it was past his bedtime and we had work the next day.

I have not caught up with my sleep since then because my schedule is now pushed back too far...grrrr.

Teaser:  for the long Memorial Day weekend he has booked us a quaint holiday in Cape May, New Jersey.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


A comparison of color in verse:
As she breathed deeply into the scented rose,
she remembered his words:
Only you, dear Ruby, are my love,
my life, the flower of my dreams,
the fire in my heart.

And she blushed as she gazed
into the flaming sunset,
the cherry blossoms wafting
onto her russet locks.


Olivia Klonaris, Red, 1994

And her sweet red lips on these lips of mine
Burned like the ruby fire set
In the swinging lamp of a crimson shrine,15
Or the bleeding wounds of the pomegranate,
Or the heart of the lotus drenched and wet
With the spilt-out blood of the rose-red wine.


Oscar Wilde, In the Gold Room: a Harmony, 1881

Friday, May 15, 2009

What I do

Yes, this is part of what I do.  

Care to guess what language this is?  Facebookers are excluded because you already know.

This is a CDC publication targeted at immigrant communities to prevent the spread of certain communicable diseases.  I look at the English source and the translated target side by side on paper, and mark up anything that I think needs changing.  Then I pass it to my fellow QC spec for back up - she runs her eye over it, adds things and discusses with me anything she finds noteworthy.  Then I annotate our notes in the PDF document that was produced by the Graphics department - with edits for Graphics, and questions for the Translator.

Graphics implements their changes first if possible, otherwise their further issues are addressed by the project manager, then the PDF goes to the PM who passes it to the Translator to have the questions addressed.  

In the photo, I am re-annotating the PDF for Graphics in a second round, according to the Translator answers which came in a detailed table.  This being an incomprehensible language to me, it took a lot of shape-hunting and at times I was zoomed in at 400%.  Here, the translator has addressed my issue that "sick" and "not sick" are not bolded in the translation.  The Translator says he did bold it originally in the document he sent to Graphics, so I have written a note to Graphics here to ask them to either bold it again or enlarge the font slightly, if bolding is not possible.  

Another issue was that the title on the poster used different characters to the identical title on the leaflet, and the Translator then provided a better phrase.  I also marked a LOT of stray characters here and there which Graphics will remove.

So, that's sort of what I do and hope it makes more sense for those of you who are still mystified as to how I perform my job.  Don't worry, you're not alone - sometimes I wonder too!


Last weekend we didn't do photogenic things, probably because we met up with some of his friends on Thursday night to watch the opening of Star Trek.  It was an amazing movie and I recommend you go see it.  Afterwards we all went for dinner so he didn't escort me home until way past midnight.  Obviously, we both paid for that wild episode on Friday and felt too lazy for an epic weekend although we accomplished much.

On Saturday:
  • Ate lunch at Cici's Pizza - yay for jalapenos!
  • We searched high and low at the mall for a Scrabble game, and dropped my boots off at the cobbler's bench
  • Went to the grocery store for baking supplies
  • Baked Magic Cookie Bars, which are delicious by the way, and we have both eaten a couple of squares every night this week, and they're still not finished
  • Ate dinner at a really good Indian restaurant in Bethesda and listened to a young white jazz band (and they were amazing) outside the Haagen-Dazs down the road
  • Played Scrabble and ate our baked goods.  He won.  We're both good with words, but he's a better strategist and I'm a better speller.  So he'd say, "Livvy, how do you spell the word for..." and give the definition and I'd supply the spelling.  And then when I gave up he helped me, and we finished all the tiles, but he still won.
  • On Thursday, Jeff said, "Livvy, we make a good team in the kitchen."  I agreed.

On Sunday:
  • Went for brunch at the Pancake House in Bethesda
  • We hung out at the fountain, watching people out on their best behavior with their mothers all dressed up for Mother's Day
  • Also watched children and dogs, as usual
  • See, told you it was boring but we like it
  • And we had ice cream at H-D
  • Then he went to the driving range for the first time this year.  He's got some snazzy golf shoes.
Not done yet.  On Monday (!):
  • He picked me up after work and we went to the mall to collect my boots and have his shoes shined
  • Had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen.  If you have one near you, I highly recommend the mango tandoori chicken pizza, my new favorite
  • Although I was in one of my nice London outfits, I said he looked so much more presentable than I did in his pinstripe suit and nice tie, and he said, "Livvy, if I look presentable it's because I'm with you."
  • Awwwwwwww....!
OK, that's enough for now.  As I get home so late in the evenings, I can only visit you all in bits and bytes.  I do miss being able to spend lots of time on blogs now, and I'm sorry.  I am still trying to tinker with my schedule so I can find the right balance.  I'd like to go to work earlier so I can come home earlier, but this week I could not effect such a change, so I will keep trying...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A couple of weekends

Oh no!  We have catching up to do!

Last Saturday, I got flowers for no reason...and was speechless for once.

Last weekend was full of rain, but before it all hit we managed to spend some time at Dumbarton Oaks Museum and Garden in Georgetown.

The museum is a Harvard research library filled with Byzantine and ancient artifacts, a stately mansion which used to belong to a family who founded the gardens.  If you've ever read The Secret Garden, it's a magical like that, only not wild and not a secret.

My photos came out quite fuzzy because I didn't realize my camera was stuck between Auto and Scenery, so obviously didn't know what to compensate for.  However, here are some of the best, and a couple from Jeff's camera.

From J's camera - on the Juliet balcony overlooking one of the garden levels

An interior gate between two small gardens

The pebble fountain and wisteria

J and the spewing horse

The back of the library museum

White wisteria?

An urn garden

Pretty, but no public access area.

The rain started as soon as we left the garden!

I don't recall where we had dinner after that, but it was somewhere around Dupont Circle.  Afterwards we went to our favorite haunt the 18th Street Lounge, and oh boy do I have a story, which I already shared on Facebook so for some of you this will be a repeat but for most of you it will be new and "excessively diverting", to somewhat quote Jane Austen.  


The 18th Street Lounge jazz floor is usually host to a sophisticated and level-headed crowd, unlike the young clubber types on the trance floor downstairs.

We managed to snag a sofa that was vacated not long after we arrived, but before the band set up. Jeff went to get the second round of drinks so there was me, a little space, my bag, and the next sofa. Some tall dude came and plopped himself down in Jeff's spot. I tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me, somebody is sitting here." He looked at me like I was lying, asked if he could sit there until my drinks did arrive, and proceeded to introduce himself, "Hi, I'm Bob." He sounded Irish. He put out his hand and I gave him a fingertip handshake, as almost a reflex of politeness. 

He said, "Aren't you drinking?" I said, "I'm waiting for my drink." He said, "Are you here with your girlfriend or boyfriend?" I said, "My boyfriend." He said, "Just checking." Then he said, "Thanks for saving me a seat." I said, "This is not your seat." He looked shocked. By now I'm desperately thinking to myself, "Jeff, where are you...?"

He then proceeded to ask, "Are you in school?" I said, "No." He then asked, "What do you do for work?" I said, "None of your business." And proceeded to shoo him away, like you do with garden critters. And with audacity he proceeded to touch one of my shooing hands. I shooed again with more vigor and when I spotted Jeff approaching very nearly shouted at him to buzz off. He did leave and when Jeff sat down a moment later I told him my story and thought I could point out my "admirer", but he had simply disappeared.

As for Jeff, he too had a story. He said that a guy had bought us our drinks! There was some mix up with the queue so the guy who was mistakenly placed ahead of Jeff was kind enough to order in such a way that the bartender told Jeff that, by the way, the drinks were already paid for. 

Quite an odd evening at the 18th Street Lounge, if you ask me.

The following evening when retelling the story to Jeff's law school friend at dinner, when I was describing how "Bob" had taken hold of my shooing hand (I think I'd forgotten that part when first telling it), Jeff said with surprised cuteness, "He took your hand??? Nobody touches my Olivia...!"


This past Thursday we joined 4 of his friends to see the opening of the Star Trek movie.  It was excellent!  I know prequels usually have a bad reputation but this one was perfect, probably not least because it had J J Abrams at the helm, he who created Fringe.  It was a great mix of drama, romance, action, and comedy without losing balance.

That is all I will say, since it's so new yet.

J and I ordered one medium popcorn and medium drink to share, and unsurprisingly, despite working hard at it, we didn't even finish quarter.  Next time, we should order small and perhaps get half of it finished ;)

We enjoy what we eat or drink but can't always finish, and waitstaff are continually surprised.

After the movie, we all went to a brewery restaurant which was alive and kicking at 10pm on a Thursday night.  I don't know how.  J didn't drop me off at home until past 12.30 - this was very wild of us, and I paid the next day by having waking dreams in front of my computer.


We decided to have a relaxing weekend, so there are no adventures to recount.  We ran errands, ate lunch at Cici's Pizza (my first time there since leaving Texas!) scoured the stores for a game of Scrabble, and bought ingredients for baking.

We used my nice kitchen to bake Magic Cookie Bars, had a cup of tea, then left them to cool while we went up to Bethesda for a light dinner at an Indian restaurant.  I had the most intriguing tamarind margarita.  Didn't get a buzz off it, but it was an exciting blend of tart and spice with a latent burn in the throat, like an authentic cup of masala chai would give.  And the papri chat starter will probably haunt me this week, I liked it that much.

As is our wont, we shared the starter and the entree (tandoori shrimp with naan), so as to leave room for dessert.  While we were eating outdoors, a jazz band down the street caught our attention so we ambled down there to check them out.  They were playing on the raised patio outside the Haagen-Dasz place so customers and passersby were sitting and standing around, expressing their appreciation with generous tips.  The amount of stray quality bands on street corners in this area is amazing!  These boys were very white, kinda preppy, kinda geeky, and college-age, but that was some of the best jazz I've ever heard.

Dessert consisted of magic cookie bars with tea.  We played Scrabble.  He won by a long shot.  We're both good with words but I'm a better speller and he's a better strategist.  Girl vs Boy.

Today was an even quieter day, the usual Sunday tradition of hanging out in Bethesda watching people, children and dogs - and today it was quite a show because of Mother's Day.  
We were defeated by our brunch - buttermilk pancakes, eggs, sausages, bacon - but had room later on for one scoop each of Haagen-Dasz ice cream.

Tomorrow I see him again because he's taking me to the mall to pick up my shoes at the cobbler, and we'll have dinner at California Pizza Kitchen.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Haiku by email

Just wondering if I really had enough down time at work, perhaps I could blog via email.

Today, after a string of intense days where my eyes nearly popped out, I was faced with nothing to do.

So I wrote a haiku:

Birds sing in the trees
Sunshine warms the earth and sky
Smell the sweet springtime

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Annapolis Adventure

It's not often I wait until Wednesday to blog about the weekend, but it's been a busy week and I can't quite figure out evenings.

I work from 9.30am-6.30pm.  I've worked those hours before in London, with an equally long - but much more tiring - commute.  Perhaps the reason I'm confused is that back then I stopped planning as soon as I got home.  Now, the 9 o'clock hour is reserved for talking to Jeff, so I like to get chores done beforehand and internety things afterwards - and weekends are also no longer laundry-filled lolling about in pyjama days.  I have things to see, and places to explore, with somebody!

So anyway, this has been a hard week so far, mainly because of this one English project.  I got one phase of it QC'd and handed over but it was mind-boggling because the client gave it to us so mangled up the project managers and graphics department are in overdrive.  And I have to sift through that confusion.  I tell you, it was such a relief to turn to the relatively simple Italian documents sitting on my desk all morning.

You know what I like hearing when I am on the metro?  Leaving the Foggy Bottom-George Washington University station, the driver often says, "This is the last stop in the District of Columbia.  Next stop is Rosslyn, the first stop in the Commonwealth of Virginia."  I'll have to tell you more sometime about Virginia, the Old Dominion founded in 1607 as the first English settlement in North America.  And of course you know it's named after Elizabeth the Virgin Queen?


But you want to know about Saturday, of course.

It was a lovely nearly-hot day which was pushed a little late because J had training to do at the office.  When he picked me up, we went to get a hat for me (which I couldn't wear because it was so windyu) and a pair of sunglasses for him (which he wore because it was so sunny).

On to Annapolis.  It's only about a 45-minute drive so we were there around mid-afternoon and wandered about a bit, taking in the atmosphere and watching the people, including midshipmen (male and female) in their summer whites.  It is a quaint, pretty, quirky town full of arts and crafts, seafood bars, galleries, antique shops, cafes.

Then we came upon a 40-minute boat cruise on the Severn River, which took us past the US Naval Academy, towards the Chesapeake Bay.

Up the Severn River with the US Naval Academy to the left

A pretty sailboat

Afternoon skies over the USNA

Sunset over the Severn River

Sunset over the USNA dorms and chapel dome.
The dorms are the second largest in the world, housing 4,000 midshipmen.
The chapel dome has a gilt cupola on top.

Returning to dock after the cruise.

Jeff's cool new sunglasses and my old ones

McGarvey's Saloon and Oyster Bar on Pinkney Street, Annapolis.
It was all wood-panelling, tile floors, marble tables, Tiffany lamps.  There was an atrium room where we ate in the left building, which had a real tree growing out of the floor and it reached the glass ceiling.  I couldn't take a pic as by then it was too dark.

I was taking a photo of the chocolate marquise we shared to round out the 3-course seafood dinner.  Even this we couldn't finish.  We rarely finish anything.  And yes, J is well aware that any photo I take could end up here, which is kind of why he did that.

The Maryland State House and Flag on State Circle, Annapolis.
Built in 1772, the state house is the oldest continually-used capitol building in the US, and for a short while even served as the nation's capitol.
The Maryland flag is unusual and probably the only one in the union to be based on heraldry:

It represents the quartered Calvert and Crossland family crests.  MD was founded in 1639 as a English colony by Cecil Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore.  Crossland was his mother's family and as she was an heiress he was entitled to use her family crest in his own (the red and white cross bottony).  The yellow and black palisades represent a fortress.  Maryland is the only state to display a gold cross on its flagpole.