Thursday, August 26, 2010


We leave DC on Tuesday. I can't believe it's almost here. We've been trying to cram in as much fun as possible to see everyone and everything before we leave.

One of the best places we've visited is PX here in Old Town. I'd heard about this place over a year ago...ironically, I heard about it when my mother, living in South GA, sent me an article on it with a note suggesting we check it out. We finally got there, and boy do I regret not going earlier. It's been described as a speakeasy type bar, and I suppose that's as good a description as any. First, you need reservations to get. Then, once you're appropriately attired (cocktail, or at the least, semi-dressy), you head on down to a little side street off of King Street (our main drag in Old Town) to the doorway with the blue light. Ring the doorbell and wait. Once you're allowed into the inner sanctum, you walk up a dark staircase, turn a corner at the top, and magic! There are three cozy rooms, one with green, velvet-covered sofas, the middle containing the beautiful, wooden bar and small seating area, and the last room of light blue walls and white, leather sofas. All are lit with sparkling, but dim, crystal chandeliers. We sat at the bar for our first visit in order to watch the master work. And I do not use the term "master" frivolously. Watching the "bartender" work was pure enjoyment. Cocktails are very original, bitters & syrups are handmade, juices are hand-squeezed, and so on. Things are set on fire, lemons are smoked by hand to rub around the rim of a glass, ice tinkles as the bartender's assistant (sous mixer?) gets the glasses prepped. The whole experience is just that - an experience. I loved it.

I took a break yesterday from my final rush of projects (organizing photos may yet kill me!) to visit three museums in DC that I've yet to explore: The DAR Museum, Corcoran Gallery, and Renwick. The DAR was fantastic and beautiful. Lots of great examples of 300 year old china and silver, as well as a marvelous quilt exhibit. I'm a traditional girl when it comes to quilts, but there was a phenomenal, abstract one done by a New Orleans artist. When cleaning up her home (or her grandmother's home) from Katrina damage, she noticed the blinds in the windows were still hanging...they were bent and askew, but still there. She took a photo, screened it onto fabric, and somehow made this gorgeous design. Once you know the story, you can see the blinds. Until you read about it, the fabric is just a wavy, abstract design. She placed that fabric in the middle, added a few others for a border, then a final border in black, to symbolize the light in the middle shining out from darkness. Really beautiful. And the museum itself is in a great, old building with marble staircases, mosaic tile floors, cut glass banister finials, and so on.
The Corcoran is a nice art museum - a smaller collection, but has some fantastic pieces. And the Renwick focuses on decorative arts. Their collection has a wonderful mix that goes beyond just paintings on a wall. It was a great half day spent seeing something new in my "hometown." We could live in the DC area for 10 years, though, and not see it all.

Tonight we have our final night together with just the two of us. We've been saving our visit to one of the DC's top ten restaurants for this night, and so at 7:30 pm, you'll find us sitting in the Chef's Tasting Room of Restaurant Eve. I imagine Nathan will have to roll me home as the menu is five or seven courses. I'm also quite excited b/c I just found out that Restaurant Eve is owned by the same folks who own PX, so I have high hopes.

Tomorrow, my sister and brother-in-law are taking us to a going away dinner at their favorite restaurant in Baltimore, The Charleston. So that will be two fantastic dinners in a row. On Saturday, I'm headed off to a girls' weekend in St. Michael's with my sister and her sister-in-law. My brother-in-law started a fun tradition last year for my sister's birthday - for her birthday, he sends her and one or two other ladies to a spa hotel in a quaint town somewhere in our region. I missed last year's trip, so I'm very excited for this year's. Especially as St. Michael's is one of my absolute favorite Chesapeake Bay towns. Monday, my aunt flies in and will spend the night with us, and Tuesday, we head up to Philadelphia to spend a few days visiting with Nathan's family. Nathan's pushing for us to do a Segway tour, mainly for the amusement of seeing me on a Segway. I think me on a Segway is a terrible idea, but I'm not willing to be left behind on any sort of potential fun.

One week from Tuesday, we fly out, and the posts from Italy begin!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Temporary Digs

We're slowly settling into our temporary digs. After the fabulously, fun beach trip out to the shore, we spent a week shuttling back and forth between my cousin's house in a DC suburb and my sister's house in Baltimore, staying a couple of nights here, a couple of nights there, etc. We then had a wonderful weekend visiting friends who live near Roanoke. Great food (thank you, Sherry!), great talks, great outings. We then moved into our one month, temporary rental back in Old Town. We LOVE being back in Old Town. It feels like home. Our house is very cute with quite a lot of space for a temporary rental. We're just two blocks of Old Town's main drag, which has meant eating out most nights, although to our credit, that has included walking to Whole Foods (yes, walking! It's only four blocks to that wonderful, money-sucking, place) for a "pick out some yummy cheese and a baguette)" dinner.

Today, Armageddon hit DC. I haven't watched or read any local news yet, but I'm anticipating some amazing stories. One of the worst thunderstorms I've ever been in hit...and keep in mind that I grew up in south GA, which I'm pretty sure is the inventor of thunderstorms. This one was so bad that I actually took cover in the stairwell, along with the dog, because I was sure that something - tree, construction material, Toto - was coming through the window at any moment. Nathan left work at his normal time to ride home on the metro. At about the two hour mark, he called me from the bus he was on. The metro had stopped at one of its stops and never restarted due to trash across the tracks. He and a co-worker got on a bus to get back to Old Town, but it's route was diverted due to trees and light-poles lying across the roads! What? Nathan and his co-worker eventually made it to the restaurant/bar where they were headed, which is only two blocks from our old house, only to find that all lights were out at that end of town. So they walked twelve blocks to another popular place - and lights out at that end of town, too. So they headed up to the area where we now live for a last ditch attempt at a fancy, schmancy tasting hour wait to get a table. I'd joined them at this point, so off we went to Whole Foods, which has a lovely generator to keep them operational and serving us delicious, healthy meals.

We're headed into our countdown now. At least once/day, I have the thought that it's only "x" days now. I feel all this pressure to see everyone, do everything in these last days. At the same time, I set some goals for myself for some projects I've been putting off for a few years, and on top of those, I'm starting an accreditation class which is going to involve quite a bit of studying. But knowing that we're living in the same house for the entire month has meant I've finally gotten some sleep! Yay! After three months of very little sleep, I'm now back to my much needed 8.5 hours. I thought that meant I would no longer be a crazy person when some moving crisis arose, but today has proven me wrong.

I called the military vet office to make the appointment for Crazy Dog to get his USDA vet-approved, international certificate, only to find that since our military flight has a layover in the Azores, we also have to follow any Azores pet importation rules. Except I couldn't find any instructions on this. In addition, due to the vet's scheduling, the only appointment available is exactly 10 days before our flight, no later (the certificate has to be within 10 days of flight), so nothing can go wrong. No delays, nothing. So I handled it in the calm, cool, and collected way that I've handled all of these irritations along the way - by calling Nathan, at work, in Red Alert panic mode while hyperventilating. He took care of the problem and my blood pressure has now returned to normal. I then spent the rest of day making inroads on one of my major projects and am now off to veg on the sofa with either a book or the TV. Nathan and Crazy Dog have gone to bed - CD is in my spot, which is where he goes every night, then growls at me when I try to move him. He would be very happy if I disappeared forever and he got Nathan, his True Love, all to himself. I think this is very odd, and a little off as well, for a dog, but others have assured me that most dogs pick their Person and this attachment is normal. I'm not convinced.