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.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Coming up for air

Yes, Glo, here I am - I read the late comments on my last post!

Omigosh!  It's raining cats, dogs and a few horses out there!  It started just as I typed the last sentence.  This evening walking home the air was heavy, warm and moist, like a primordial soup, with a few silent flashes of lightning.  Like the rebirth of life was about to happen.

Anyway, you want to hear about the job.  The image of the cherry blossoms above are from the two trees flanking the office entrance in Arlington.  Everyone is so nice and friendly there.  It's a quiet and studious environment, which is perfect for me.  When it's a hectic week, you can hear a pin drop.  When there's not enough work, it gets noisy.

So far, I've edited documents in Latvian, Portuguese, French, and - get this - Azeri (from Azerbaijan) for things I shouldn't tell you about.  But I now know how to say gamma and neutron in more than one language.

I'm a tri-stater now:  live in DC, work in VA, hang out in MD.  I've never crossed state lines so much in my life.


This weekend with J was wonderful!  Saturday was hot - nearly 80F/27C - so we absolutely had to stay outdoors.  We went to Great Falls national park which sprawls across both Virginia and Maryland.  We were in the Md. part of course, on a part known as the Billy Goat Trail.  Being a native Marylander, J knows all that there is to do in that state.

Some rapids where we spotted a few kayakers going sideways

After about a mile hike, resting on the rocks at a small inlet beach

Leaving the inlet and heading back the way we came, we stalked a blue heron.  This is 5x zoom.

At a quiet pond we spotted another heron - can you see it?

There he is - being all still and zen waiting for a meal

Roots of a log that spans the stream

Pretty blue flowers (any of you expert floraphiles know?)

Gritty, sweaty, and icky, we freshened up (good thing he only lives 10 minutes from my place), I got picked up again and crossed back into Maryland where we went to dinner at a very swanky Vietnamese place in Bethesda.  It was some of the nicest decor I've ever seen in an Asian restaurant down to the details - very homey despite the soaring ceilings, the fancy aquarium and the waterfall behind the bar.

As a result of all the clambering and climbing, I was very sore today.  My quadriceps and even my deltoids are feeling it because I used my arms a lot to climb up and down.  It's funny because J feels it in his calves, but mine are fine.


Sunday was very Sunday-ish.  J picked me up and we went to lunch and then Macy's.  My mission failed in that they were out of my shade of makeup.  J's mission was accomplished in that I helped him pick out a new shirt and tie for a client event on Tuesday.  If it doesn't work I accept the blame.  Even though I used to buy ties for Dad, I haven't had that much practice matching them with shirts and suits.  Then we went to DSW Shoe Warehouse where I made up for the lack of makeup by buying two pairs of shoes for work.

We rambled around downtown Bethesda for a while and enjoyed the band playing Led Zeppelin outside Barnes & Noble.  When it tried to rain, we retreated inside to share a big cookie and sat together reading magazines until it got dark and chilly outside.  Finally, we went to Austin Grill for a dinner of starters, enough for two small people.  I think we stayed out much later than I had expected for a Sunday night!

Two interesting cakes in the window of a cupcake bakery:

I shall call this one

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Easter Birthday Weekend

I'm moving quickly here because I know that once I start work I will be somewhat wiped out at the end of each day until I establish a routine and break myself back in to the work process. Certainly I can say that Glo, who recently started a new job, knows what I mean. 

Anyway, if you haven't seen my last post, then make like a tomato and ketchup!

A pic from Claire's camera of dessert at Rosa Mexicano on Friday.  She had three flavors of sorbet:  mango, coffee-Kahlua, and raspberry-rose. I had a tres leches (3 milk) cake topped with soft peaked meringue on a base of lime glaze and garnished with sweet mango salsa.


On Saturday, Claire went to meet an old college friend for lunch and an afternoon outing.  I rested at home,which for me, an introvert and an only child, is always welcome.

After Jeff had his car serviced, gone shopping and had brunch with his mom, and seen her off to Baltimore, he came to me bearing gifts.  I wanted nothing from anyone this year, all the other blessings I've received are enough for me - but I have to say they were exquisite things, handmade items from those Fairtrade cooperatives.

A Nepalese satin jewelry box

A Peruvian bamboo and turquoise necklace

We met Claire downtown and scouted out the Dupont Circle area for dinner, finally settling on Thaiphoon which satisfied the list for an exciting menu, an array of spicy foods, and a decent atmosphere.

It was still barely dark when we left but we were sure the restaurant looks great at night.  We joined the crowds making their way down to the Waterfront to see the fireworks put on the mark the end of the Cherry Blossom Festival.  Everyone oohed and aahed, and then the crowds all headed out again.

I'm sure J wouldn't mind me sharing this picture he took with his phonecam
That's me with a firework coming out of my head, in case you were wondering

And then, as we were really not done with the evening, we headed back up to Dupont for the famed 18th Street Lounge that we'd visited once before, after the Indonesian Embassy evening.  Claire really enjoyed it, specially since unmarked venues are often the best.  It really is just a door to the townhouse and you climb up the stairs into 3 floors of atmosphere.  First there is the ultra-hip floor filled with trawling single types.  But our floor of choice is the live jazz level (or as someone calls it, the Jeff and Livvy room) which is more relaxed and very sophisticated.  We arrived fairly early before the band set up, so were able to snag a comfy red couch, though not the nice Queen Anne we had a few weeks ago.  Just like last time, a couple standing on the open floor suddenly broke out into some fairly good swing dance.
I enjoyed the Nat King Cole numbers sung in sultry style by the band's chanteuse.

The End

P.S. Wish me luck tomorrow!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Birthday Weekend

I don't know where to start.  "At the beginning," most of my friends would say.

I received a call early this morning and.............................I got the job!  
I start on Wednesday and I will be at the top of the stated salary range (woo!).  I must have done a good job on those tests, eh?  Expectations may be high.

I can't believe I have a job, actually.  I feel as though I've been looking for the One for most of my adult life.


My friend Claire, a former colleague at the dental office in NYC, came down for Easter weekend.
She arrived late on Thursday night and on Friday we went downtown to see the few remaining cherry blossoms, and when I say few I mean next to none.  Remember the blossoms I captured a couple of weeks ago at the Smithsonian Castle gardens?  They are all gone now!  Even the weeping cherry tree is becoming bereft of blossoms.  And everywhere the blossoms had been there are now budding leaves.

After that, we visited the Freer Gallery next door.  It's a little gem of a place, filled with all sorts of Asian art and antiquities.  Well, not filled so much as tastefully arranged.


Kongorikishi warrior (Japan, 12th-14th century)

A calligraphy hanging with vase, and a Japanese lacquer box with inkstone

Having rabbit radar, I spotted this before entering the room


James McNeill Whistler

Whistler's Peacock Room - Fighting Peacocks, and the Princess of the Land of Porcelain

Delicate Egyptian relief

One of my aunts looks like this!

Loggia at the Freer Gallery
Top:  Labor supported by Science and Art
Bottom:  Law supported by Power and Love
Why?  I think that Labor requires science in its conception and art in its execution.  Law needs power in order to be carried out but love to prevent it from becoming oppressive.


After the Freer we wandered over to the Smithsonian Castle which is also the SI Visitor's Center.

Despite never having stepped foot in America, James Smithson is interred here.  Why he bequeathed his fortune to the people of America for the advancement of knowledge, we may never know.  There is no way in the early 19th century he could foresee that this nascent nation would become a world power and thereby enable a spread of knowledge worldwide.  Think of all the advancements that have come out of the US in the 20th century alone.

A pier table and mirror in the hall where there is an exhibition of about 6 proposals for the new Museum of African American History, including one from Norman Foster

The Great Hall was lined with exquisite glass cases containing iconic American artifacts, from nature to technology

The Washington Monument

A little something for Flighty


We tried to visit the Sculpture Gardens across the Mall but it was just closing for the evening, so we walked a few blocks to Chinatown

The Chinatown Gate.  Claire noted that, although NYC's Chinatown is much larger, it has no gate

On the way to the restaurant, we stopped in at the Teaism shop next to the teahouse, where the walls were lined with fabric tea boxes, teapots, and teacups

Stained glass at Rosa Mexicano, where we enjoyed a dinner of delights:
1) the best guacamole ever, prepared at the table
2) spicy chicken flautas and crab cakes with mango salsa
3) mini personal pitchers of Sangria
4) 3 types of sorbet, and a tres leches cake covered with soft meringue and topped with a birthday candle!

I was still full more than 3 hours later...

My next post will cover the subtle delights of Saturday, so stay tuned.