Feral House

Posted on 4/29/2010 05:56:00 AM

There's a house a few blocks over that's been vacant for... pretty much forever... long before the market took a nose dive into the hot, molten pool of metal that is the current economy, at least. It reminds me from that scene in Prince Caspian when they go back to Narnia and everything's overgrown and nature has taken back all the buildings. It makes me wonder if this is where C. S. Lewis got the idea.

See? There really is a house back there.


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Watery

Posted on 4/28/2010 05:47:00 AM In:
Water fountains are big in D.C. and I love all the attention that's paid around the monuments to them, from the Roosevelt to the WWII. I love the peace and solitude you get from sitting next to them - even when there are a hundred other people around. I'm constantly trying to capture the play of light and speed that comes off the water and mostly I fail. But these two, at the Museum of the American Indian and the Botanical Gardens respectively, are my best attempts.



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Mirror Image

Posted on 4/27/2010 07:30:00 AM In:
Remember these guys? Though we do not know their exact birth date, by our calculations, they turned a year old this month. They look like grown up cats now.


Long, rubbery, stretched out, grown up cats.

It's nice to have a couple of pure breeds around to class up the joint.

The KingofHearts went to an allergist this week and found, to his surprise, that he's allergic to cats. (Which is odd because even before he met me
and my Lizzy, he pretty much always lived with cats.) He's also allergic to dogs, horses, cows, ferrets, rabbits and dust mites, so please don't suggest any of those as an alternative pet - we've already looked into it.

Dormouse: "Daddy is allergic to cats."

Me: "I heard that. Guess it means we have to get rid of the cats."

Dormouse: "No!"

Me: "Well, we either have to get rid of the cats or we have to get rid of Daddy. Which do you think?"

Dormouse: "... ..."

Me: "Wow, you're really thinking about this, aren't you?"

Dormouse: "... ..."

KoH: "Which do you think does more for us around the house?"

Dormouse: "The cats. Definitely."

KoH: "Yeah, you're probably right."


In his defense, the cats are not converting the half bath in the basement to a full bath, so I tend not to agree with her. They do, however, sleep on my feet at night and keep my toes warm. It's a tough call.

Don't worry, we aren't getting rid of the cats. As it turns out, he only has a mild reaction to cat dander. So we'll be keeping Maggie and Barker, but picking them up and rubbing his face in their bellies, is no longer an approved way to pass the time. He does, however, have a strong, almost violent, reaction to dust mites. So unfortunately, John, Paul, George and Ringo have to go... along with my dreams of the fame and fortune that accompany running the most popular flea circus in the Western world.

*sigh*

In other pet news,
our prodigal possum has returned.

Though I tried very hard last year to take care
of kitty and make him feel at home, he finally left and hadn't been back until yesterday, when I heard a kerfuffle outside my window as I was getting ready to leave in the morning. It stopped, so I didn't think much else about it until I went out to get in the car and spied this:


I love how the closer


and closer I get


the more still he becomes.

Seriously, I was walking around right under him for a good three or four minutes and he didn't move a single muscle, nor did he even turn an eye to watch me. Not even when I put on the flash and took a picture,



did he flinch or try to run away. I guess that's why they call it playing possum.

He clearly loves us and wants to come back home.

I like to think of it as my own version little
Incredible Journey story, witnessed here by my humble household, and I wonder where he's been and what he's seen. The Obama inauguration? The passage of Health Care Reform? Stayed in the Watergate hotel and reported a break-in? He could be the Forest Gump of the opossum world.

And I know what you're thinking, "How do you know this is the
same opossum?" I don't. But shhhh, The Dormouse might hear you.

I wonder if they tested for opossum dander on the scratch test?

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Tribal

Posted on 4/26/2010 05:16:00 AM In:
This statue of a Kachina stands outside the Museum of the American Indian. The first time The Caterpillar saw it, she looked up at it and said, "It's a monster!"


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Grand Ole Flags

Posted on 4/25/2010 05:02:00 AM
There's a guy with a business in the neighborhood who basically erected the mast from a tall ship to display his flag collection. This is just the top of the piece. I'm thinking he might have a slight affinity toward the U.S. Navy and may or may not have been a Marine, but it's just a guess.


In my last neighborhood, the people who lived in the other side of the duplex we shared erected a twelve-foot wooden cross with a giant spotlight on it at Easter time. So I'm kinda thinking this is better.

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Making the Car Ride More Interesting

Posted on 4/24/2010 08:17:00 PM
Caterpillar: "DAD! I see a tree!"

Dormouse: "DAD! I see a sign!"

Caterpillar: "DAD! I see some grass!"

Dormouse: "DAD! I see a bird!"

Caterpillar: "DAD! I see a building!"

Me *unable to resist*: "DAD! I see some asphalt! I see a car! I see the sky!"

Daddy: "Hey all my girls, I'm looking for some peace, does anyone see that?"

Dormouse *pointing*: "Yes. I think I see it riiiiiiight up there."

Me: "Aaaaaaaaaand, there it went."

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I ♥ Nuts

Posted on 4/24/2010 04:57:00 AM
Ants seem to too.


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Finishing Touch for a Lady Gaga Costume

Posted on 4/23/2010 10:54:00 AM
I'm SO not going to a two year old pedicurist again.


The need to paint Momma's toes must be a developmental stage. At least this color doesn't make me look like I've been dangled off a the back of a crane moving at thirty miles per hour with my toes just grazing the ground. So there's that.

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A Bug's Eye View

Posted on 4/23/2010 04:55:00 AM
Just setting the camera down on the grass and randomly clicking the shutter can sometimes have interesting results.


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Sleepy Sisters

Posted on 4/22/2010 04:36:00 AM
On the last day of The Dormouse's Spring break, I took the day off work, blew off made other arrangements for all my responsibilities and told the girls they'd get one day all to themselves. So I called up another mom I'm trying to make be my friend friendly with and she brought her two boys and met us at an indoor playground.

This place is crazy big and divided into about two dozen different "rooms," each with a different theme. The walls, however, only stand about three feet tall, so parents can see their kids from different rooms. It's like a giant cubicle farm for children. There's a bug room, a space room, a beach room, a school house room, a music room, a weather station room, etc. The fireman room has an actual fire truck in it - that's how extensive this place is.
We spent about two hours there, had lunch at the cafe, and then they played for another two and a half hours before they even started to look like they might be wearing out. Once we got in the car, however, it was crash city and at a stop light, I turned my camera backwards to take this picture:


I love that these girls mostly get along. That they play together. Have meaningful conversations. There is always going to be bickering and that, I expected, but my first thought when we found out that The Caterpillar was going to be a girl was that I hoped they'd grow up to have a close relationship with one another. I don't know how much a parent can really do to influence that one way or another, but every once in awhile you get a glimpse of what might be and this picture gives me hope.

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Lineman of the Neighborhood

Posted on 4/21/2010 07:34:00 AM
Is anyone reading this old enough to remember that old Glen Campbell song, Witchita Lineman? Whenever I look at this telephone pole, that oddball song starts going through my head. I think I've posted photos of this telephone pole on my street here before, but the angles and shapes fascinate me so I keep taking pictures of it. I sometimes stand there looking up and trying to figure out just how many distinct wires are up there and what they are for. And then when my neighbors call the cops about the crazy woman who's standing on their lawn and staring into the sun, I run.


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Unnatural in So Many Ways

Posted on 4/20/2010 10:27:00 AM

I bought these daisies a couple of weeks ago in the grocery store because I was in a particularly sour mood and I needed a lift. The colors were created by putting the cut flowers in dye and letting them soak it up until it showed through the petals. I can tell because the leaves of each flower is similarly colored to the petals.

Also: because when you put one in clear water it does this:


Then they lasted almost three weeks before I had to throw them out. Whoever said,
Red dye#40 wasn't good for you?

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Making the Brothers Grimm

Posted on 4/19/2010 08:58:00 PM
A collection of fairy tales, as told by The Caterpillar. As you can see, she's incredibly imaginative and each story comes alive with unique nuances in her deft story-telling hands.

The Tale of Sleeping Beauty:



The Tale of Cinderella:



The Tale of Snow White:



The Tale of... What's Her Name Again?... Oh Yeah, Rapunzel:




Who needs new plot complications when the one you've got works so well?

But if you insist on something completely different...


The Tale of Benjamin Barker:


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Touched with Yellow Gold

Posted on 4/19/2010 09:23:00 AM
Johnny Jump-Ups are maybe one my favorite flowers ever. They're basically tiny pansies. Tiny, angry looking pansies.


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Southwestern Style Landscape

Posted on 4/18/2010 09:16:00 AM In:
I've been to the National Museum of the American Indian several times and I'm completely in love with the building. I never looked at it from this view across the street though. It's almost like you're in the Southwest - without all the scorpions and rattlesnakes.


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Natural Amati

Posted on 4/17/2010 09:13:00 AM In:
This fern frond I found at the U.S. Botanical Gardens reminded me of the scroll of my violin.


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Signs of Snow

Posted on 4/16/2010 09:53:00 AM
Whenever we have a snowy Winter, the following Spring is unique in that there are potholes and street damage everywhere. Back during the Blizzard of '96, the joke going around was that Mayor Barry had a brand new snow removal plan for the District. It was called Spring. And then that Spring one of the local radio stations staged a "help Mayor Barry fill the potholes" program -- much like a museum donor program where you could purchase a brick with your name on it to help build the facility. But in this case, they would take a brick, write your name on it with black magic marker and then go downtown and throw it in a pothole.


A snowplow picked up this gas main cover in our neighborhood a street over back during our Year of Living Snowfully. The asphalt around it was damaged so if now someone runs over it accidentally, the cover pops up and then sticks up three inches in the middle of the road. Sometimes there's a caution sign over it that stays for a day or two and then disappears, but it never seems to actually get fixed. The neighborhood has gotten used to it and we all just swerve widely around it as we drive through that intersection and go on with our lives. But every time I swerve around it, I have to yell, "ARE YOU TOO GOOD FOR YOUR HOME?"

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Sciency

Posted on 4/15/2010 06:12:00 PM

This is a fun little experiment I saw somewhere on the web and used it to entertain The Dormouse the other day. We wasted a lot of food coloring and a LOT of milk doing this over and over with different variables each time. What will happen if we put extra food coloring in? What do you think will happen if we put warmer milk in? What if we put the drops of food coloring in a line instead of a circle? What if you stir it with a toothpick? I probably should have been more worried about the mess and wasting of food, after all, I hear there are starving kids in China, but I was more interested in what would happen next than The Dormouse was.

For those who wish to replicate the experiment, you need three things: milk, dish washing liquid, and food coloring. Whole milk and Dawn dish washing liquid (or something that claims to break up grease) work better (and yes, we tested that too). The rest, you can see for yourself.



There's another twenty minutes of video that I'll spare you from watching, but I was just interested in how long those colors would keep moving and changing. I finally got bored and tossed it out about minute twenty-six. The world will never know.

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Orchids

Posted on 4/15/2010 07:03:00 AM In:

Some photos of the Orchids: A Cultural Odyssey exhibit at the National Botanical Gardens on Capitol Hill. I've never been a big orchid fan but I think that was because I never knew before how many varieties and how disparate they can be one from another. I've only in recent years, come to appreciate their delicate beauty and the fact that they can take widely different forms. Also: I never saw them displayed along side a Chinese dragon before. That makes all the difference, don't you think?

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What Kinda Cactus Izzat?

Posted on 4/14/2010 07:13:00 AM In:
I thought I knew just about every variety of cactus that existed after living in the desert for twenty some odd years, but I don't remember this one that's at the Botanical Gardens. Googleing cacti heart shaped leaves spiney has been surprisingly unhelpful.

Anyone want to take a stab at it? (No pun intended.)


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Spacey

Posted on 4/13/2010 10:21:00 AM In:

This sculpture, "Ad Astra," stands in front of main door to the Air and Space museum and I snapped this only-minorly-PhotoShopped picture before everything went to hell on Easter Sunday. I never really noticed it before and I've been to the Air and Space Museum a lot... and when I say a lot, I mean, a whole lot. At one point, I knew a dude who was getting a degree in Aeronautical Engineering who gave me a tour of the place and opened up such details to me as "Hey, here's something I learned in my Space Vehicle Atmosphere Reentry class, you wanna know why the burn mark on Apollo 11 reentry capsule is in a different place than on the Apollo 9 reentry capsule?"

Yes, please.

He gave me such a good education that I could probably have been a docent at the museum with very little effort and I began giving tours of the place myself to any out of town guests that happened through town from my former life.

It pays to know people.

"Ad Astra" means "to the stars" in Latin. But I think if I tried really hard, I could make myself believe it meant, "Dude, look up here and check out that crazy-assed blue sky."

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Chagrined

Posted on 4/12/2010 05:53:00 AM In:
So hey... remember when I trashed the Brooklyn Public Library in a public forum? Well, the Director of the Central Library of the Brooklyn Public Library does. Yeah. Turns out when you publish on the Internet, PEOPLE CAN READ IT. Whodathunkit?

Allow me small moment of justification because I feel like I need to stop a moment here and explain myself. I'm a big fan of Sesame Street, mainly because it debuted when I was just under two years old (I'm hoping that no one actually does that math on that one and I can still get away with convincing you all that I'm twenty-nine), just about the exact time I started to be old enough to watch television. This was in the dark ages before there was cable and there was very little children's television programming so I pretty much grew up with Sesame Street. I remember when Snuffleupagus was a kind-of-scary reclusive monster that disappeared whenever an adult walked in so everyone (except for Big Bird and us wise children-viewers, of course) thought he was Big Bird's imaginary friend. I remember when Mr. Hooper was alive, before Gordon changed faces twice, when Frank Oz and Jim Henson still did 90% of the voices, and when Bob was just a young dude who couldn't get a date (OK, maybe I made that last part up).

I also remember when there was no Elmo, before darkness covered the lands of Middle Earth. I know Elmo is a bit hit with the kiddoes, but I can say without hesitation that he is my least favorite Muppet. I think he represents Sesame Street's misguided attempt to cater to the Barney crowd. His voice annoys me to no end and I've really hated how in recent years, a good twenty-five percent of the show is dedicated to "Elmo's World," which he always ends by singing the word of the day to the tune of Jingle Bells, "Nose, nose, nose, nose, nose, nose, nose, nose, nose, nose, nose."::shudder::

But as big a Sesame Street historian and fan as I am, it's nothing compared to Monica. I mean, I actually stopped watching it sometime into early adulthood; I'm reasonably sure she never did. So I wanted to go to New York to see the Sesame Street 40th Anniversary exhibit, but nowhere near as much as she did. And she tried to make me go with her three or four times, but I kept putting her off for one reason or another until we both realized that if we didn't go up Presidents' Day weekend, we'd miss it entirely -- and it'd be my fault. If you've been following along, you'll know by the time that we got there, we learned that the whole library was closed Presidents' Day weekend.

We did check the website, but here's the thing: we never knew to look at the MAIN PAGE of the Brooklyn Public Library, which clearly stated that the library would be closed Presidents' Day weekend. We only looked at the Sesame Street exhibit page and since it had the hours of the exhibit clearly posted (weekends included), we assumed that was good enough. As it turns out, the exhibit pages may have the exhibit hours posted, but they don't necessarily reflect the hours of the library and the special closings of the library itself. So it wasn't our fault we missed the fact that the whole library would be closed. But it wasn't really the Brooklyn Public Library's fault either.

So after we realized we weren't gettin' in through the front door... and when all attempts to sneak in the side door past the security guard failed... (wait, wasn't there something I was supposed to have learned that about publishing stuff in the Interweb and other people reading it? hmmm... escapes me now), we sat around looking despondent and staring up at those big, beautiful doors.

At one point, a hipster mom with a kid in an expensive stroller came up and tried to open the doors. "They're closed," we offered.

"But they're supposed to be open on Sunday," said Hipster Mom who looked more put together than I've ever been in my whole life.

"I know, but it's Presidents' Day."

"Oh, well that's a shame."

"No kidding," we commiserated, "We came up here all the way from Washington, D.C."

She looked perplexed, "You came from D.C... to... go to the library?!?!?"

Clearly, she had no idea of the significance of this moment.

We got over it quickly and had a great weekend anyway, because, as it turns out, Monica and I can't have a bad time in New York City. Then I came home and wrote a big, sarcastic thank you to the Brooklyn Public Library, got it all out of my system, and forgot about it completely. The next day I logged into my email and saw a most unusual comment on that post: from Richard Reyes-Gavilan, THE DIRECTOR OF THE BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY!

Ummm.... Whoops?

Also: Crap!

It was a nice comment, apologizing for our troubles and pointing out what we'd finally figured out: that the closing was noted on the main page of the website but he was sorry nonetheless and was offering to send some Sesame Street stickers and other items for our troubles. I would have written it off as fake except for the fact that he included a phone number and dammit if that phone number wasn't actually real! (I've since deleted the phone number from the comment so the entire Interweb wouldn't have it and make all sorts of crank phone calls - I like to have that privilege all to myself.)

I called a couple of times with intents to apologize, but I could never find a time that Mr. Reyes-Gavilan and I were near a phone at the same time. In the end, I finally just left a message with my information, stammered and stumbled all over myself trying to explain that I wasn't really angry but that the post was really written tongue-in-cheek and I was sorry if it came off any other way and how I love libraries and books are great and if I actually lived in Brooklyn, I'd totally go there all the time and support the library and why don't I just stop talking right about now because I probably sound kind of like an idiot and hey my kids actually would love it if they had something to send but he shouldn't feel like he has to do that because it was probably our fault but it really did say the hours on the exhibit page but not the closings and we didn't know we should have looked at the main page and OH FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY IN THIS WORLD, MAKE ME STOP TALKING.*


::click::

After that humiliation, I figured I should just cut my losses and assume he'd written me off as a crazy person with a mental illness who was just having a conversation with the voices in my head and it happened to occur over his voice mail.

I forgot about it until last week when I came home from work to a package on my doorstep from The Brooklyn Public Library.

::cue sound of needle scratching on vinyl record:: **

Inside the box was, as promised, Sesame Street swag: stickers, bookmarks, empty library card holders (still trying to figure that one out, but the girls love them so whatevs) and an Elmo doll and DVD. There was a handwritten note apologizing (!!) for the lateness of the gift but explaining that his assistant had broken his leg (this just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?) and a lovely letter from Mr. Reyes-Gavilan, saying that he'd guessed that my post was meant to be humorous but he still felt it would be nice to send what was enclosed in the box and he hoped that my kids enjoyed them. He wanted me to know he'd talked to the IT department to look into the possibility that closures might appear on every page of the website so that this wouldn't happen to anyone else and he ended by thanking me... THANKING ME... for blogging about them.

OK - now I feel really bad.***

In a day and age when the concept of customer service doesn't even mean looking up from your personal phone call while you ring up someone's purchases at a cash register, I was completely floored by this whole experience. Even after he knew that I wasn't upset, and was probably wrong to boot, he still took the time to comment, listen to my voice mail message (again, Mr. Reyes-Gavilan, sorry you had to hear that), and send me something. I think he probably had better things to do with his time and I'm certain his assistant did.

So, to the Brooklyn Public Library: You guys are awesome. You are so much better than any library in D.C.**** To Mr. Reyes-Gavilan's assistant: I'm really sorry about your leg. I hope you're feeling better now and if not, I hope you at least got some good drugs. To Mr. Reyes-Gavilan: Thanks. It was awfully nice of you. My two-year-old sleeps with the Elmo doll each night and requests the video constantly... and I'm gonna go ahead and forgive you for that.




*I don't actually remember anything I said; I just know it was long and rambling. Sorry Mr. Reyes-Gavilan, but the fact that I actually picked up the phone and tried to speak to another human being is really a feat in and of itself.

**Does anyone reading even know what that sounds like anymore?

***I don't really have a footnote for this; it just seems like these things should come in threes.

****Does this mean I'm gonna hear from the Library of Congress next?*****

*****I should probably change that ***footnote now, shouldn't I?

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Cotton Candy

Posted on 4/11/2010 07:28:00 AM
We may not have gotten down to see the D.C. Cherry Blossoms last week, but the Eastern Red Bud tree in our front yard is a reasonable facsimile.


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In a Post 9/11 World

Posted on 4/10/2010 07:28:00 AM In:
Allow me to introduce you to Public Enemy Number One 'round these here parts:

The blooming birch tree

In the past three days, I have watched no less than two dozen news reports about how our "unusually heavy snow" this Winter and "unusually warm Spring" have "combined in a perfect storm" to make this the

"WORST ALLERGY SEASON EVER
EVER
ever
ever
ever
ever..."

And folks, I don't even watch the news on television. These have all been special reports broken in to prime time and mid-day programming. Not to make light of the suffering of all those of you who actually have serious allergies; I sympathize with you. But I think the media might, just might, be making a little bit too big a deal about this. Either that or they should take all those missiles in the Air and Space Museum and aim them at this tree outside its front door.

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Blooming

Posted on 4/09/2010 07:02:00 AM
Where I grew up, tulips were just something you heard about and maybe saw plastic reproductions of them in the craft store. You knew that they came from Holland but you weren't really sure of anything else because you'd never seen one in real life. Though I'm sure they were available for a price, I don't really even remember seeing them in florist shops much. There were lots of other lovely flowers - desert flowers are beautiful in their delicate fragility - but as for tulips, they just weren't around. So I love early Spring when I get to watch the tulips bloom here. We've added quite a few bulbs to our flower beds in the past couple of years and our front yard is starting to look like a tiny little botanical gardens. Which is good because it's a lot shorter trip home from that one. I especially enjoy watching how they open and close every morning and evening. It's like nature's version of an alarm clock.

Yesterday morning, The Caterpillar was outside enjoying the cool morning air after The Dormouse got on the bus and I sat outside with her since it's been ridiculously hot for April and I wanted to spend at least some time outside. I set up my camera on a tripod, aimed it at some of our tulips and took a photo every five minutes until they opened up fully. Let's just call it "poor man's time lapsed photography."

Edited to add: I just figured out that if you size your browser window just right and then use the page up and page down keys, you can make it look like a stop motion film. In a related story: Imabiggeek.


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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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