Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Summer of '69

After a quick visit to Kansas, I flew back to Maryland for one last weekend of summer fun. I'm including some highlights from the weekend here, beginning with Thursday evening's baseball game. We went to see the Frederick Keys (named for Francis Scott Key, who is buried in the cemetery across the street from the stadium) play against the Lynchburg Hillcats. This is the mascot, Keyote:

Leah doing the Chicken Dance:

A view of home plate:

I love it when there are three strikes:

A view of the field:

Instead of singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for the seventh inning stretch, the Keys have you shake your keys while singing the "Shake Your Keys" song, so here I am shaking Leah's keys:

Yay--a Key hit a double!

And, finally, the man who sat next to us all game making comments (I am a magnet for these people). We called him "Willie" because he looked so much like Willie Nelson.

The next day, I went into DC to visit the National Gallery of Art. On the way, I walked past the Sackler, which is the gallery where I worked when I was an intern at the Smithsonian.

The Sackler is on one side of a large garden along with the famous Smithsonian Castle:

The gardens are really pretty and they replant them every season--I always like to walk through here not only because it is quiet, but also to see the creative things they do with the gardens.

I walked through the gardens and out to the Mall toward the National Gallery and passed this concession stand.

Check out the menu--they sell alcoholic beverages here. Some day I'd like to hang out here and see who comes away with a beer--parents with screaming children? Locals trying to wade through the tourists? Smithsonian employees?

Finally, I reached the National Gallery, where I spent a few hours wandering around looking at art--not a bad way to spend a Friday. This is the west building, where I started. I also went to the east building to see some of the works of art that were saved from the museum in Kabul.

Once I left the National Gallery, I went back through the Smithsonian gardens and stopped in this little area to call my grandmother from the bench on the left. This is just outside of the Sackler, but it is kind of hidden, so it is a quiet and cool place to take a break.

As I made my way back to the Metro, I stopped at the USDA Farmer's Market where I bought peaches, focaccia bread, and some lunch before I got on the train to head back to Frederick.

On Saturday evening, we went to a summer concert at Tarara Winery because they had an '80s tribute band called The Reflex playing. Here is The Reflex performing on the stage--you can see the Potomac behind them.

A view of the Potomac from where we were sitting:

A sign next to the river:

We brought food (the bread is from the farmer's market) and bought a bottle of Tarara's chilled red, which is fabulous:

Once everyone (including the band) started drinking, things got a lot more fun. The lead male singer was awful until he had a few drinks. Unfortunately, he butchered "Billie Jean" early in the evening. Later, though, we all got to "Walk Like An Egyptian":

Brother of Ken and I used to do this dance as kids--we were very good at it.

I even braved the crowd of dancers near the stage to bring you another installment of "Where is Ken?"
Well, that's it, gentle readers. Now I'm back in New York and back to my regular life...for a little while at least.

Dust in the Wind

Many of you may have noticed that I haven't been blogging lately and that is because I've been traveling over the past ten days or so. I don't feel too bad, though, because I was able to see many of my most gentle and devoted readers during my travels. The journey began almost two weeks ago when McKenna and I drove down to Maryland where I dropped her off at her Aunt Leah's house to stay while I got up before the crack of dawn the next morning for a flight from BWI to Kansas City.

Father of Ken greeted me at KCI and we drove to the apartment of Brother of Ken in the giant metropolis of Baldwin City, Kansas to gather the remains of his latest move and take them home to Parsons. In the process of gathering these things, we had to go to his storage building, which is apparently a secret Soviet killer spider breeding ground. We finally arrived home in Parsons and I officially began my visit with my family.

Friday evening, I had dinner with with Mother, Father, Brother, Uncle, and Grandmother of Ken and Saturday I spent with Best Friend of Ken, who graciously came from Lawrence to see me. I made her go with me to see Mamma Mia (my second time, her first) and she made me see the new Batman movie--both were awesome.

Sunday I got to see St. Timothy's in person for the first time and was very impressed, of course. Then, Mother of Ken and I made a beeline for the Tulsa area to go shopping. It's funny that even though I live in New York, I get my best shopping done in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. I didn't take as many pictures of our shopping as I had planned to, but there are a few. Mother of Ken and I have a shopping strategy that has been well honed over the past 27 years--we can sniff out a 75% off rack like you would not believe. We even keep records of who has gotten the best deal--currently, I hold first place with 97% off. So, if you see us shopping, you should stay out of our way ;-)

Here are a few of the places that we went, starting with Kohl's:

Part of our strategy to shop efficiently is to gather everything that we think we might want to try on before we hit the fitting room--here's our cart as Mother of Ken attempts to pull it toward the fitting room.

The fitting rooms:

We frequently make fun of ugly clothes we find--these are a particularly awful pair of satin formal cargo shorts:

About halfway through the shopping trip, here's what the trunk looked like:

Then we moved on to other places, such as TJ Maxx and Dillard's:

As we headed home, here's what the trunk looked like:

I spent the next day at Mother and Father of Ken's house relaxing and playing with the dogs. These are Mother and Father of Ken's two Boxers, Boomer (the fawn Boxer) and Piper (the brindle Boxer)--they are McKenna's uncle and aunt.
Boomer impersonating a frog:

Boomer on the couch--they are allowed to be up on the couch as long as at least one paw is still on the floor.

Piper, waking up from her post-dinner nap long enough for me to take a picture:

Pipey again:

The next day, I went to visit Grambi and Papaw (you'll remember them from this entry). We had a lovely, if too short, visit before I had to get back to Parsons, meet Father of Ken, pack my things in the truck, and head north to have dinner with Mother and Brother of Ken. On the way, I took some photos of the towns between where Grambi and Papaw live (Baxter Springs) and the town that I am from (Parsons). Don't worry--I took these when I was going very slowly or stopped.
Gentle readers, I give you Melrose, Kansas:

This is pretty much all there is to see of Melrose.

The next town is Chetopa, Kansas--here's the river outside of town:

The town of Chetopa itself--you have to be very careful while driving through Chetopa because the cops have little to do but look for unsuspecting "foreigners" who might dare to drive one or two miles per hour over the speed limit. Once I was driving through on my way home after my first visit to Dallas before I lived there and I got pulled over for going 50 mph in a 45 mph zone right before you get to the 65 mph sign. I was driving Mother of Ken's car and Mother of Ken did not have the most current insurance card in the glove compartment, but the cop let me go because one of Mother of Ken's priest books fell out with the insurance card.

I also had to drive through Oswego, but forgot to take pictures there. Anyway, on my way back into Parsons, I was stopped because of road construction and took this picture of tonight's dinner:

"Mmmmmm....cow," as McKenna's Aunt Leah would say.
Next up: highlights of my weekend in Maryland.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Change of Heart, Part III

For part three of the story of the transformation of this house, I present the kitchen and the laundry room.

First, the kitchen. This photo is a view into the kitchen from the living room before I moved in. It not only shows you the dining area in the kitchen (on the left), but it also gives you a taste of just how craptastic the decor really was--you'll see this photo again soon.

Here's what it looks like when you walk into my kitchen now:

And the dining area:

A view of the south side of the kitchen before--note the baskets hanging from the ceiling. Last summer, I took my hammer and crowbar to the nails that were in the beams. I removed 35-50 nails and didn't even get them all.

Here's what things look like now:

The north wall of the kitchen before I moved in (those shadows come from all of the hanging baskets):


And now onto the laundry room.

The south wall of the laundry room:

A detail of my new organizational tools--one bag holder for small bags and one for large ones as well as a special rack for mops and brooms. I love this kind of thing.

On the other side of the south wall, I have my utility area with my toolboxes and my extension cord hung on the new hook that I got just so that Father of Ken would stop complaining every time he comes here about how tangled it gets.

Pretty curtain hung on the new window:

The shelves on the north wall, newly organized:

My pretty new washing machine that I had to buy when the transmission died in my old one from c. 1980. I just couldn't have this lovely machine in a dingy, disgusting laundry room, so I knew I had to paint it.

I found some old hooks that I think I took out of a closet in one of my Hood College dorm rooms and screwed them to the wall to hang my aprons and my wood gathering coat.

And there you have it--another taste of the amazing transformation that has happened here over the past three years. There's more to come, though, so keep coming back!