Tag Archives: DC

Miss Moneypenny Saves the Day

20 Jul

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It was storming when I went to sleep, so my cat, Miss Moneypenny, was a bit out of sorts. A few hours later, she woke me, running across the bed. Thinking she was making a play for mid-night attention, I tried to tip her over and make her snuggle – a move she usually goes with. This time, however, I was met with fierce resistance.

She was sitting near my head, and I could feel the twitch of her tail whipping my face. I nudged her, thinking she’d jump off the bed. No luck. Instead, she made a weird little chirping noise that I’ve only ever heard when she sees a bird out my window.

I turned on the light so I could assess the situation. It was 1am and she was staring fixedly at my bedroom curtains. I followed her gaze and spotted it: high on the curtain rod, her grey toy mouse.

“Miss Moneypenny,” I said. “You just now decided you needed to play with your mousie?” I stood on my bed so I could get high enough to knock it down – and then realized it was NOT her toy mouse. It was a real one, with huge ears and frightened eyes.

What was a mouse doing IN MY HOME? And how did it get up on top of a curtain rod, 8-feet in the air – at 1am?!

Miss Moneypenny was riveted. I considered knocking the mouse down so she could play with it, but decided: a) That would be cruel to the mouse, and b) There was a strong possibility I would lose sight of the mouse.

Decision made, I got an empty trash can and slid it up under the mouse. The mouse must have been wondering how it was going to get down from its high perch, because it (literally) jumped at the opportunity I’d presented. I slid a notebook over the top of the trashcan to makes sure I only had to do this ONCE. Dressed in my hot pink plaid pajamas – I slid my flipflops on and headed out to the DC street to release it.

Job done, when I came back to my bedroom, Miss Moneypenny was in the same spot, tail twitching, pacing to get a better view of a now non-existent mouse. Her obsession alarmed me – was there ANOTHER mouse I hadn’t found? Fortunately not, because after 45 minutes, she finally relaxed and we were both able to go back to sleep.

Who knew I had a mouse(r) in the house? She just covered her rent check for the next year.

 

Going, going – almost gone!

5 May

 

 

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My parents visited from Michigan back in March. I’d been itching to visit the Renwick Gallery since it reopened in November, and my parents were game to check it out.

If you’re not familiar with the Renwick, here’s the quick back-story on it:

  • It is part of the Smithsonian. (And because I answer this question for almost every visitor to Washington: the Smithsonian is a collection of museums and galleries – not a single destination – and they are all open free of charge to the public.)
  • The Renwick was the first art gallery built in the US intended to be used as an art gallery. (A lot of the other older art galleries were originally private homes.)
  • The exterior was completed in 1861 – and then the construction was paused because of the Civil War.
  • In the 20th century, there was talk of tearing it down, but Jacqueline Kennedy led a successful crusade to save it, and it returned to use as an art gallery in 1972.
  • It closed again for renovations in 2013 and just reopened in November.

To re-open the Renwick, the entire building was used for an installation of nine works by different artists, each specifically designed for and filling an entire room. The theme of the exhibit was, “Wonder” and I have to say: Mission Accomplished. I can’t imagine anyone going through the entire exhibit without at least one, “WHOA!” moment.

Here’s the exhibit’s opening plaque, which provides a bit of context for what it contains:

People have debated the meaning and value of wonder for more than two thousand years. It has been described as everything from the origins of our understanding of the universe, to how we respond to something defying categorization, to a naïve emotion delaying us from reason, to a shock to the heart, and a surprise of the soul.

The two rooms that provided me with the most amazement were those where common items were used to create very uncommon results.

The first example was Jennifer Angus’s pink-washed room that used insects for three-dimensional wall decoration. When we walked in the room, our initial reaction was, “Cool,” as we saw the “dia de los muertos” skeletons covering the walls. We quickly followed that by asking, “Those can’t be REAL beetles, can they?”

As it turns out, they WERE. Which then made the whole room a bit more creepy. And I felt compelled to try to approximate how many little insect corpses were pinned to the walls. It made my head hurt. Further, the wall plaque informed us that the pink of the walls was created by using the “juice” from other insects. Ew? And still – ahhhh!

Here are a few photos I snapped that don’t do it justice:

The other example that had me rubbing my chin in wonder was what appeared to be a simple construction of colored thread – pinned to the floor, then running to the ceiling, where it was pinned at a right angle. Sounds boring, but the effect was surprising. As we moved around it, it shifted from being individual clusters of thread to a see-through rainbow that seemed to be made from light.

Again, it doesn’t translate well in photos, but here’s an attempt – and no, I have no idea who that dude is posing in this shot:

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Those were the two creations that I found most provoking, but I heard people exclaiming in delight in every room, whether it was John Grade’s over-sized tree trunk constructed from small blocks of wood, or the glass ball formation created by Maya Lin (of Vietnam Wall fame), that climbed the walls of one room.

In addition to the art work, there were quotes in each room related to the theme. A few of my favorite examples include:

“It is not understanding that destroys wonder, it is familiarity.” —John Stuart Mill

“The mere knowledge that such a work could be created makes me twice the person I was.” —Goethe

The full exhibit is only available through Sunday (May 8), so if you’re in the DC area, if you hustle you can hit it! Even if you’re not usually a fan of art, I’d be willing to offer a money-back satisfaction guarantee. (Did I mention that it’s free?!)

GUILTY! Of being clumsy.

7 Mar

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I had jury duty a couple weeks ago. As it turns out, I wasn’t selected for a jury, so my service was all of eight hours long. On one hand, I’m glad because I had a lot going on at work, so it would have been inconvenient to miss more than a day; on the other hand, if I were on trial, I would hope that the jury would be made up of people like me. And I think I’d find it interesting to serve on a (short!) trial.

Before I go any further, I should knock wood. I can imagine my friend Betsy – who has served on the super-long grand jury twice – wanting to punch me for thinking I’d enjoy “real” jury duty.

Anyway. The exciting part of this story isn’t actually about jury duty (if you can believe that?!). It’s about what happened during my lunch break.

Rain had been pounding the city in waves since I’d woken up and it was still coming down when they released us for lunch. Despite trying to walk carefully, I was fairly drenched by the time I arrived at Cava Mezze for lunch. After grabbing a falafel wrap, I popped my ear buds in so I could continue listening to Stephen King’s latest collection of short stories on my walk back to the courthouse. I raised my umbrella and started walking.

Out of no where, my foot hit the slick sidewalk grate grate and started to slide. The next thing I knew, I was on my butt, rolling around in a puddle like a turtle flipped on its back. My hand and my elbow were screaming as if someone had gone to town on them using some combination of a cheese grater and a hammer. In my ears I heard a woman begging to be slapped, thanks to Stephen King’s twisted imagination.

It was sensory overload, so I combatted it by loudly narrating everything that was happening, thinking (I guess?) that it would help me get my bearings. “Holy shit!” I called out. “How the hell did I just fall? I’m on my butt in Chinatown in the middle of the day! What is going on?”

By this point I was crawling around in a puddle, trying to get my feet under myself. I saw legs approaching and receding. In hindsight, I think people were probably coming to help me – then backing away when they heard my rambling narration of events. I finally righted myself and returned to the courthouse, drenched and disheveled.

I sat there, figuratively licking my wounds as they called the numbers for panel after panel of potential jurists. Yet my number was never once called. I can only assume that they they decided I was too discombobulated to serve.

I was reminded of a previous time I’d been called for jury duty, when I was excused because the courthouse caught on fire. So far I’ve been dismissed due to water and fire… should I assume that my future appearances will be thwarted by an earthquake and a tornado?

Whatever the case, I’ll take it. Proud to serve.

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I reserved a hotel room – and almost left with a television?

4 Jan

2015 Pithypants.com

Alan and I spend Christmas apart each year, so we celebrate on New Year’s Eve instead. Depending on the timing, we like to make a long weekend of it and get away. This year he had his kids for the weekend, so we needed to limit our celebration to just Thursday night. Add to the equation the fact that some dumbass thought it would be a good idea to schedule the Cotton Bowl (in which our beloved Spartans were playing) on New Year’s Eve, so we a bit perplexed about how to celebrate.

What to do, what to do?

Actually, I decided this was the perfect set-up for an easy Christmas present. Since neither of us own a television, and since every bar that might broadcast the game was likely to have either a cover charge or be filled with rowdy party goers, the answer was clear: STAYCATION.

I did a bit of searching and found that – much to my surprise – most hotels in the DC area were running serious discounts on New Year’s Eve. Apparently we don’t have quite the same draw as Times Square. (Who knew?) PERFECT.

So when we wrapped work Thursday afternoon, we checked into a hotel for the night. We took a quick walk to a nearby grocery store for some wine and nibbles, then returned to the hotel for a swim and a spell in the steam room before the game. As 8pm approached, we donned his-and-her Spartan shirts and settled in to watch what would be a very disappointing game. (If you are the only person in the US who didn’t watch it, Alabama throttled the Spartans, 38-0.)

Needless to say, I was asleep LONG before the clock struck midnight.

The next day we made our way downstairs for breakfast, which was included with our stay. It was a leisurely meal, the kind with multiple coffee refills.

Alan had an omelette, and as he stood by that station of the buffet, I could hear him chatting with the chef.

“Where are you visiting from?” the chef asked.

“We’re local,” Alan explained, “We just don’t have a television and wanted to see the Cotton Bowl last night.”

“Oh,” was all the guy said as he handed Alan his plate.

Back at our table, once Alan sat down, I said, “I bet they’re all scratching their heads right now.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Because they’re thinking, ‘How can you afford to stay here if you can’t afford a television?'”

We then proceeded to debate the idea and eventually decided that my interpretation of the conversation was crazy, because pretty much everyone in the United States who wants a television, has a television. Right?

Later, as we were wrapping up our meal, the waiter stopped by to drop off the check. I peeked. The total was outrageous.

“Sorry,” I said, “This should be comped for us. We had the bed and breakfast package.”

“Oh,” he said, “I’m sorry. I got confused! When he,” pointing to Alan, “said you were local, I thought you just came here for breakfast.”

“No,” I explained. “We spent the night here so we could watch the Cotton Bowl. We don’t have a television at home and wanted to watch the Spartans play.”

He looked at me, and I could see his wheels turning. Then, after a short pause, he said, “You know, I have an extra television. I’ve been thinking of getting rid of it…”

I stopped him, not sure where he was going with it. “Oh no – we don’t have a television by choice! We don’t want one.”

Silence.

He didn’t know what to make of us.

After some consideration, he tried a different angle. “You know you can jailbreak your phone so you can watch television on it? There are videos on YouTube that show you how. People used to pay me to do that for them, but now anyone can figure it out on YouTube. You know YouTube?”

We assured him we did, and only after we asked enough questions to satisfy him, did he walk away to adjust our check.

I turned to Alan. “Wait. Exactly what was on offer there? Do you think he was about to try to sell us a television?”

Alan nodded. “Oh definitely. And even worse? He thinks we don’t even know what YouTube is.”

Sigh. So much for a creative Christmas present. Maybe next year I’ll just get Alan a television. I happen to know where I can get a good deal on one…

Star Wars vs. Matilda?

29 Dec

Unlike most of the world, I don’t give two shits about Star Wars. I’ve seen the original three movies, but none of the sequels. Any movie or book that features a made-up creature (like a unicorn, a dragon or a wookie) doesn’t interest me much. Unless it’s Harry Potter – then all bets are off.

Alan is in the other camp and was excited for the new Star Wars release. He didn’t have any firm plans to see it, but by the opening weekend he was concerned that if he didn’t see it soon, someone would spoil it for him on Facebook. So as we made our plans that Saturday morning, he informed me he’d be heading to the theater that night.

“I think you probably needed to buy tickets already,” I told him.

“Nah,” he said. “It’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure? I saw pictures of people still lined up at the Uptown yesterday.”

“Worst case, I’ll drive out of the city a bit. There’s a huge theater in Manassas that is almost always empty.”

Still dubious, I decided to not push it: Not my problem.

I also decided to look around for something to entertain myself since it was officially Day One of my nine-day break from work. A quick cruise around the internet and I found that there were still tickets available at the Kennedy Center for “Matilda” that night. A perfect way to end an all-day “Me Party” (my sister’s term for when you do things you love to do by yourself without worrying about pleasing anyone else).

So I arrived at the theater, relaxed from a day that included yoga and a massage. While waiting for the show to start, I snapped a quick photo of the stage, intending to text it to Alan with a “guess where I am?” caption. No sooner than I’d heard the shutter click than an usher was standing in the aisle, shouting down at me that photography was NOT allowed inside the Opera House. (To be fair, I’ve seen enough productions there I should know that, but I’d totally blanked.)

“My apologies,” I told her, somewhat mortified.

Instead of accepting the apology and moving on, she continued her lecture so that everyone within a ten row radius could hear it. I wanted to melt into my seat and disappear. OK, lady. Got it. Don’t you have people to usher? PS: there is someone behind you taking a photo RIGHT NOW – if you’d stop lecturing me, you could actually stop another photo from being taken.

At long last, the show started. Spoiler alert: It was a disappointment. Mind you, the last performance I’d seen at the Kennedy Center was Book of Mormon this summer, so it’s likely that anything would have fallen short in its wake. And it probably didn’t help that children comprised half the cast, which yielded a lot more shouting than singing. It had potential, and I can see where it would’ve been a great book – it just didn’t translate well to the stage.

When intermission rolled around, I went out to the lobby to text my illicit photo to Alan. When I turned my phone on, however, I was greeted by this picture from him:

Fire! Fire!

While he was, in fact, in possession of a ticket to see Star Wars (score one for his confidence, zero for my pessimism) he was unable to get there because his car was blocked by fire trucks, apparently dealing with a small fire up the hill from his place. Huge bummer. Apparently the Force was not with him.

To make him feel better, I sent him this photo, saying, “I got yelled at taking for taking this.”

Kennedy Center

As I took my seat and waited for the intermission to end, I eavesdropped on two couples sitting below me, who were clearly season ticket holders.

“This show is horrible,” the man said to his wife. “I don’t know if it’s because it’s opening night and they haven’t worked things out or what, but it’s hurting my ears.”

“And those strobe lights,” the other man chirped.

“Thanks for reminding me!” the woman said. “I’m going to send them a complaint. Those lights are triggering a headache. I can just feel it coming on.”

“I hate their British accents,” said the original complainer.

He didn’t get a chance to say any more because the flights flicked and one of the characters took the stage, standing in front of the curtain with the house lights still up. “Folks,” he said, addressing the audience directly, “there are a few things that have happened up here that I need to apologize for…”

“Here we go!” the complainer behind me said, with an excitement that then shifted to disappointment when he realized that the apology was part of the show and NOT an attempt to make amends for the first act.

 

The show might have been a disappointment, but at least it DID entertain me – which is more than Alan can say about Star Wars. As best I can tell, the only person who was satisfied with their evening was the usher who got to bust me.

Glad I could help.