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