Apr 27, 2006

Five Things about the Gutter Guy

I've been planting and watering and weeding most maniacally and trying to get a bunch of other things done before summer. And the longer I go without blogging the longer I go without blogging. Thank you for stopping by, dear friends and pleasant acquaintances of the blogosphere. Would you care to sip a mug of warm milk with me? No? I drink it now every night before bed to discourage insomnia. Because I refused to fill my doctor's prescription for Ambien. Seeing as I already back the minivan into the fence as it is, think how badly I'd ruin both fence and van if I was sleeping. Ah. Warm milk isn't that bad. Really.

To answer Scrivener's question of two weeks ago (Where does the time go?), yes, we did go to the National Museum of the American Indian. It's a spectacular curving building surrounded by prairie grasses, very refreshing after all the manicured rectangles of lawn and monolithic Federal bureaucrotecture all around it. (Made up a new word!) They have food from native tribes in the cafeteria. The "Eye of the Storm" display and the surrounding exhibits about exploitation of Native American Tribes was heartbreaking and profound.


We had our gutters cleaned yesterday, and the gutter guy cleaned up 70 or 80 lbs of debris thanks to the tall trees that ring our house. Here's what I learned this gutter guy in course of a short conversation:

1. His wife died of ovarian cancer three years ago. But he's not looking to marry again.

2.He has seven children in their twenties and thirties, who aren't allowed to ever move back in with him.

3.He's very religious (the REPENTT license plate is a clue), but he's not picky. He plays the field, attending Catholic Mass, Seventh Day Adventist churches, and black Baptist churches.

4. To him, the worst job is being a roofer.

5. He keeps a 90-pound pet lynx in his house, who eats 50 lbs. of raw meat a week.

OK, so maybe that's why the kids don't move back.

Apr 10, 2006

Walk See Eat

We're back. You know how the Hirschorn and the Lincoln Memorial may look only two inches apart from each other on the map? And you know how when you are actually walking it, you say "Geez, I should have worn more comfortable shoes?" Well, when you have a four-year-old and a six-year-old, you feel yourself to be a tiny speck on a nearly endless green plain. You realize that just finding a bathroom before a nasty accident occurs, and finding a hot dog stand before complete debilitating weakness sets in, are goals lofty enough for your family. We did succeed.

More respite was provided at the Hirschorn, blessed Hirschorn! We happened upon the Hiraki Sawa video project at the just the right moment. Because we were tired of walking in the sun, a few minutes sitting in a darkened room was just the thing for all of us. Slowly, the images themselves began to transfix us. Filmed in a bleak apartment, these black and white videos show shadows of camels parading around the circumference of a sink drain; airplanes flying dreamily through halls, taking off from and landing on tables; cups, saucers, and a cheese grater (Will's favorite) sprouting human legs and walking away. A half dozen or more teenagers were lounging on the floor of the tiny theater, adding their own layer of performance art. From what we could overhear, they had three more hours to kill before their bus picked them up, and they were glad to have found a carpeted dark place upon which to do whatever it is they do with cell phones. (If there was anything else they were doing, it was below my sight line.) About the show? "This is so weird."

That night we had dinner at Raku, "An Asian Diner" near Dupont Circle. I ate there once years ago with an old friend, and once with John before kids. I propose a name change to Raku, "An Asian Diner That Discourages Small Children from Ever Coming Here Again by Serving Their Ice Cream in Martini Glasses." Yes, the glass fell and shattered on the table because Jack didn't know to hold the stem and we forgot to tell him because we were too busy watching Will with his glass. And yes, he's OK and nobody got glass shards in their eyes. Previous to this little disaster, the boys were occupied for quite some time eating bowls of plain rice noodles with a little soy sauce, while we sipped huge cocktails and ate spicy seafood. I had a Mai Tai in a pint glass, if my memory serves me correctly, and John had a super spicy Bloody Mary. Most of the evening was truly pleasant. We're used to being high maintenance and loud and making people wonder when we'll leave. The waiter did bring out more ice cream for Jack. Not in a precarious, fragile vessel for serving trendy cocktails, a real honest-to-God bowl.

Apr 7, 2006

Off to Our Nation's Capital

Thanks to Sugar Mama for the excellent flower advice.

Tomorrow John, the boys and I are going to Washington to be tourists. I got a deal on Priceline for a four-star hotel on Lafayette Square. We're going to see the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of the American Indian, and roam around the Mall looking at monuments. Jack thinks we're going to the Spy Museum after hanging out at the hotel's fitness center. (Maybe we'll visit the White House after that megalomaniac is forced to resign and it resumes its status as a respectable institution. Wait, this isn't a political blog. Nothing to see here, folks.)

Jack and Will packed a bag this morning and this is what they plan to bring:

1. Will's nighttime companion: blue and white striped bunny (its name changes)

2. Jack's nighttime companions: a trumpet swan named "Swanny" and a multicolored pastel bunny named "Bunny" who may fall apart with the next washing

3. Magic Tree House research guide: The American Revolution (that makes sense)

4. Bailey School Kids: Hercules Doesn't Pull Teeth (I'm nixing this, it's a library book and the fines are mounting as we already can't find two of those mediocre Bailey School Kids books)

5. The Official Knock-Knock Joke Book (I let Jack buy this yesterday at the library book sale, which I am already regretting)

6.E. B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan (Jack has great literary taste--also goes with Swanny)

7. Beverly Cleary's Ramona and Her Father (I liked the original illustrations better with Ramona's hair sticking up)

8. Our cat Kato (No, wait, I guess he just now crawled in there)

9. Not a stitch of clothing. This promises to be a cold wet vacation with a few charges of child endangerment thrown in. I'd better set this situation right.

Apr 5, 2006

The State of the Garden

Thanks for all the emails from individual readers about "Hawaiian Delight." No one wanted to write an actual comment, for some reason. My husband wrote a comment but I deleted it for complicated reasons. That's OK, dear, right? If you want to critique my transitions, you can just come downstairs, no?

Dear readers, blogging has languished because I've making big plans for the garden. The best part so far has been paying someone else to clear out all the old leaves and branches. All gone in one day, and ready for mulch. This was much better than me fiddling with the chipper for weeks on end and creating a possible Fargo situation. (Fargo is to "chipper" as Psycho is to "shower." Sort of. Well, not really. Never mind.)

So far I've planted some "Asiatic" lily bulbs around the sundial in the back yard. I made a little circle around them with broken bits of slate from the patio, which made me feel terribly clever. I also have white and pink "Oriental" lilies, which are somehow different from "Asiatic," that I need to plant somewhere, and sedum. I also got seeds for planting in the "children's garden" in the back, sunflowers, nasturtiums, white "dahlia" zinnias, radishes (John thought they'd be successful), marigolds. I'm starting some multicolor morning glory seeds indoors soon to transplant by the fence in back.

Oops, I just remembered that my neighbor Hazel thinks morning glories are pesty invasive vines. She was none too pleased when our Evil Bamboo Thicket, eradicated two years ago via the local nursery's Bobcat, sent out a couple posthumous runners under the fence to her yard. My question for the Internet is: Am I ethically bound to ask her if I can plant morning glories by the fence? If so, then does that mean she is ethically bound to cut down the rest of her arborvitae that have had their top branches all cut off, and are standing there, limbless and tragic, looming darkly over the future home of the "children's garden" like giant tombstones?

We're having a huge load of mulch delivered on Monday. Maybe Hazel will be so pleased that we do give a rat's ass about the garden, after all, that she won't take offense at the morning glories. Hazel has a barking Pomeranian and an annoying bright movement-detector light that shines in our bedrooms. So we have morning glories, it's live and let live, right? As long as the morning glories don't poop in her yard or leave cigarette butts in her strawberry patch, I think we're cool.