Friday, February 29, 2008

New Age Irony

A bunch of college boys rent an apartment on my floor. They love to party and never seem to miss an opportunity to get it on. Booze and pot are standard fare amongst them and their friends -- nothing new to this college student from the 60s. The kicker is that they're afraid to drink D.C. tap water! Every week they have several huge jugs of bottled water delivered. I can't help but chuckle every time I see the empties accumulating outside their door.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Patrick Henry has a new neighbor. . .

. . . in a manner of speaking. My dear friend, Thelma, was just laid to rest next to her husband of 60 years and around the corner from Mr. Henry's grave at Rock Creek Cemetery. She was born September 11, 1910 in the wilds of Oklahoma and died quietly in D.C. last Sunday night. She was proud of the letter she earned on her high school swim team and remained a tomboy all her life. She married the love of her life during the Great Depression and had to learn to cook on a tiny wood burning stove. She had never been interested in cooking, so had to learn as she went along. She and her groom, Paul, considered themselves lucky to have the use of a small cottage with a water pump in the kitchen, something most didn't have in those days. Once she mastered the wood stove, she learned to can everything from fruits and vegetables to meats and fish. She made bread and churned butter, selling some to neighbors so she could buy flour, salt, sugar and other staples she couldn't grow herself. As a girl, she rode bare-back and drove a car at a young age. She, her best friend/sister, Mary and their friends would tie baskets of food, blankets and quilts onto the running board of a car and go camping. In those days roads were mostly old wagon trails and there were few gas stations and no motels. After she married, she and her husband continued the camping tradition, added fishing and golf to the routine. Thelma and her husband moved many times as he was promoted in the IRS. Every place they lived from the high plains of Oregon to the east coast, she established a home for them. Unable to have children, they cultivated strong friendships everywhere they traveled and lived. During her volunteer life, Thelma learned to sew. She developed a considerable talent and made many of hers and Paul's clothes. When she and Paul settled in the District in 1967, she volunteered with the District Chapter of the American Red Cross, meeting and working side by side with women from several embassies. She also served with distinction in the Smithsonian's Visitor Information and Resource Center. In her free time, she liked to observe cases argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and sessions of Congress. She took full advantage of what the District had to offer. Well into her 90s she was a familiar figure as she took daily walks around the Watergate complex and the terrace at the Kennedy Center. She met and befriended people of all ages and from several countries. She had the kind of smile that welcomed camaraderie. She traveled several times a year and made friends with hotel bartenders, maids and wealthy clientele alike. Flight attendants fussed over her because she was so open, funny and unassuming. Since it's impossible to sum-up a fully-lived life that spanned nearly a century I'll just hope that you, the reader, go away with the knowledge that she was far more than a survivor of hardship, occasional illness and loss. She was always interested in learning more, helping more, doing more and giving more. We, her friends, will cherish the memories she made with us.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Eschew Obfuscation Part II

Some prefer a straight forward approach to familiar phrases. Just to keep it interesting, here are a few in terms not quite so easy to figure out. 1. Individuals who make their abode in vitreous edifices would be advised to refrain from catapulting petrous projectiles. 2. The stylus is more potent than the claymore. 3. Scintillate, scintillate, asteroid minific. 4. An ocular delineate equates to a chiliad locution. 5. Within multitudes of dun cumulus exists a sheathing of argentum. 6. Specie originating in Valhalla. 7. Lasciviousness rarely renders baksheesh. 8. The person presenting the ultimate cachinnation possesses, thereby, the optimal cachinnation. 9. A revolving lithic conglomeration accumulates no diminutive glaucouse byrophitic plants. 10. Wherein resolution endures, a mode exists. If anyone enjoys these and has others to offer, I'd love for you send them along for my collection. Thanks!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thought I'd add one more pic from "The Awakening" because it symbolizes the grip an ice storm has on some parts around here. Foggy Bottom seems to have escaped the worst of it.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Nefertiti vs. Norskiheifer

There's no contest!

Once in a while I receive a clothing catalog that is so completely NOT my style. The latest contains striking, beaded, sequined and ruffled fashions modeled by gorgeous women of color. If I tried to wear any of them I'd be laughed out of town. As the title of this post infers, I'm a large lady of Norwegian descent, so I pale in comparison to these women.

Still, these catalogs tickle my fantasy of flamboyance. I imagine myself sweeping into a glamorous crowd decked out in four inch heels with ankle straps, wearing layers of diaphanous, brightly hued fabric and feathers fit for a goddess. But then reality sets in -- Queen Latifa, I ain't.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Through the car window. . .

As I was driving back home from Hains Point, I noticed this view out of the corner of my eye and decided to snap it.

The Awakening. . . no more

Within days, this beloved sculpture will be exhumed or resurrected from his resting place. His creator cannot be blamed for selling his work. He most graciously loaned it to the National Park Service for many years. Still, I wish something could have been worked out to keep the gentleman where he seems to belong.
His dramatic perseverance during floods and heavy snows were awe-inspiring not to mention fabulous photo ops. A flooded K Street under the Whitehurst won't be nearly as inspirational when the river rises again. And who didn't cheer when receding waters revealed that the gentleman was still there? It's sort of analogous to DC residents' relationship with the U.S. Congress. It does it's best to keep us in bondage and we just keep fighting for our rights!
Politics aside, I would hazard to guess that millions of photographs have been taken of the gentleman. His head, with it's gaping mouth and wild beard has been a particular favorite for youngsters because they could connect with it on a physical level. However, thousands of little feet and not so little feet climbing on the gentleman's parts probably were not a good thing. And then there were the dreadful damages caused by careless drivers. I do hope his new stomping grounds will be warm and welcoming and safe.

Godspeed, Sir. Hains Point will never be the same without you.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I just want to say that . . .

. . . not all white people are out to screw people of color! I had an incident the other day in which I was automatically accused of causing it by someone calling herself a witness. The other driver's "witness" was a belligerent black woman who seemed determined to protect the other driver, who also was black. Past experiences may have convinced her that white people couldn't be trusted, but it hurt and angered me to think this woman automatically saw me, a white woman, as an enemy. I had no witnesses and the driver who actually triggered the accident was long gone. I've lived in downtown DC since 1971 and travelled throughout my city. I've seen the stunned looks on young black mens' faces when I've stopped to ask for directions -- a lone white woman, at night, in a neighborhood where she didn't belong. Without fail, each offered excellent directions and I got to my destinations. The sting of discrimination hurts whomever it's aimed at. I don't know the woman, yet I understand her need to protect a brother. I also pray for the day we will be able to get beyond suspicions based solely on skin color. Whether one believes in evolution or creationism, we are all related. ALL of us need to work harder at embracing that fact.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Kinda Dog

Tucker LOVES the snow -- or did you guess that? Seeing him like this reminded me of my own childhood.

Snow suits were cumbersome, but necessary for kids like me who liked to get down into and under the snow. Cheeks would be red and numb, and mittens caked with snow. We didn't worry about numb toes in boots filled with melting snow, but Mom did. She'd entice us back indoors with hot chocolate made from scratch. I can remember the smell of cocoa and wet woolen mittens draped over a radiator. Scent memory: another of life's homey gifts.

Friday, February 1, 2008

What the. . . .!

Has Fannie Mae moved to another planet? The government-sanctioned mortgage company took a 30% loss in earnings and share price last year and so far this year, it's earnings are down by almost half. Might this indicate that leadership isn't doing a good job? The proverbial buck usually stops with the C.E.O., but somehow many of them seem to have some sort of non-stick covering when it comes to taking responsibility or blame. Frankly, I don't know how they sleep at night. They are already paid way more than they're worth -- an opinion held by more people than just me -- and yet their golden parachutes allow them to escape with nary a scratch when they screw-up! In Fannie Mae's case, Dan Mudd had to take a 15% cut from his 2006 compensation -- from $14.4 million down to $12.2 million. To help offset their financial losses, Fannie reduced its work force -- such a polite way of saying hundreds of people lost their jobs -- but not the C.E.O. Not too long ago, being appointed to a board of directors was prestigious. You got free travel and meals to attend board meetings in great places and deferential treatment by company exmployees. Rubber-stamping what the C.E.O. wanted made the job quick and painless -- didn't require that much thought. Governing boards can't afford to wash their hands of responsibility. New regulations will start holding them accountable and stake/stock holders are finding it easier to get crucial information about what actually goes on in board rooms and they're not happy. The stock market is ruled as much by emotion as by thoughtful analysis. Emotions are running high and angry about all the shenanigans in the business world. I would advise board members to get some back-bone and do the right things: 1) lower the outrageously high compensation packages for executives; 2) make sure they fully understand what they are deciding; 3) seek out the insights of frontline employees; and 4) stop allowing the spoon-feeding of misinformation and outright deception to the public. We'll be watching!