Saturday, February 10, 2007


Today started a little before midnight last night upon discovering I could no longer use the internet. The ongoing problem seems to be mine alone: all night I beat my head against the digital wall (restored, cleared, defragged, and combed the event logs of my computer; tested, pinged, and IP-checked the network itself), while Sunshine's computer accessed the network just fine four feet away. My good mood crumbled early and never recovered. I tiptoed around whispering frustrated invective and softballing breakables into the overstuffed couches and stomping the carpet silently with bare feet. I took breathers on our sub-freezing slab of windy balcony. I laid in bed mad, I woke up late, and resumed my frustrations this afternoon, only louder. By the time Sunshine returned from class I needed to flee the house, so we attempted dinner and a movie in the District. We thought we'd try the cleverly named Ten Penh (at the corner to 10th and Pennsylvania Avenue, serving, I suspect, pan-Asian food). I got the bright idea to detrain at the McPherson Square stop, since that's near the Whitehouse, also famously on Pennsylvania. The Whitehouse is, of course, on the sixteen hundreds block, so we had to walk six blocks in twenty-degree city wind-tunnel to where 10th St. happens to be located, one block from the very next Metro stop down the orange line. These little growing pains are funnier when it's warmer outside. This is a short story: Fridays are not the time to straggle into the District's tony little boutique eateries without reservations. We eventually ate blessedly-nearby Texican fast food instead, finishing about eighty minutes before our movie was scheduled. So we gave up, walked the block, and came home to watch TV. Thank you Qdoba for one romantic uptown Friday night experience! [Cavin]

Friday, February 09, 2007


We made our first foray into the District on Tuesday. That's when I timed the Metro ride down the orange line to Smithsonian at twenty-two minutes. I was unable to time the walk from our unit to the East Falls Church stop, though--my watch was under too many layers. It was so cold that my cheeks started hurting acutely about halfway there. Once we arrived, we had to take off our gloves to use the fare machines, and I started timing. We waited on the platform for about seventeen minutes before the train finally came. The platform was outside. I remained cold until well past the Foggy Bottom stop on the way to L'Enfant Plaza, where we picked up the red line to Mt. Vernon Square to meet our friend Holly, just back from Honduras. That's just one more stop north from Chinatown. We decided to eat at the local brewery that day, where they had pretty good black and tans, but terrible rum and Cokes. After dinner, we attempted the same transit in reverse, but we boarded the right train heading the wrong way when we changed lines again at L'Enfant. We seem to have zoned out or something, because realization hit us both the moment the train started to move out of Stadium-Armory station, five stops in the wrong direction from where we'd started. This is the sort of thing that happens to new people in the city, and we had really only been here one day at this point. We both felt kind of dumb standing in east DC's Minnesota Avenue stop waiting frigidly for the return train. Minnesota Avenue platform is outside. It was very cold out there, too, but we had the bumbling warmth of slapstick subway mistakes to keep us warm. [Cavin]

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Our new home is pretty much what I thought it would be: a characterless corporate extended-stay hotel suite with a kitchen. Our model is the 820 square-foot, one bedroom one bath variety. We have two-tone beige and less-beige stucco-patterned walls, a twelve by nine stainless and Formica kitchen hymned by a serving bar, and a little oblong bedroom totally maxed-out by its ridiculous king-sized bed. The living room is tastefully decorated in dark laminates and low, serious corduroy couches with wine throw pillows. There are vertical blinds between the couch and the cement slab patio. We're on the fourth floor of a seven story building, one of several arranged around a recreation yard. Add a few watchtowers and we'd have a serviceable upscale white-collar corrections facility. The worst thing about our new unit is the bathroom, which suffers the usual unfortunate division: mirror and sink in a little foyer to the closeted toilet and tub. When will they learn this is a terrible idea? This design means we have to stand right out beside the ridiculous bed while brushing our teeth, shaving, or picking our noses. Guests will have to access the bathroom through our bedroom. Its disastrous. Otherwise, and all in all, this was what I'd expected, however, and I'll be satisfied to spend the next eight months of my life here. We're about a half-mile from the East Falls Church metro stop (on the orange line), which is about twenty-two minutes from the Smithsonian stop at the National Mall. That makes it about eight miles to the Washington monument from here. It is three minutes by car to our old stomping grounds around Ballston and George Mason University, where there's an Italian restaurant we like, an IHOP, a little Korean-run deli, and a good public library. [Cavin]

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Yesterday morning we left Kentucky for Falls Church and our new District Metropolitan Area home. We'd mostly packed our stuff up into the car Sunday, leaving only our day-bags and high-priced computer technology in the warm farmhouse overnight. Right before bed I noticed that since I'd let the dog inside a half-hour before, clouds had covered the stars and a fine sand of dry ice was howling from the sky. I went to bed concerned about the coming drive. Later. several hours earlier than I'm used to waking up, I looked out the window: it was sunny and clear. I showered, drank a cup of coffee, and ticked-off the last packing details. On the porch it was eight degrees, and the previous night's weather was all piled along the switchback mountain roads. The wind was still howling. Loading the computer technology into the car made the hollow parts in my head chap. The battery had gone dead overnight; the car had been jumped. The heater was slowly warming its sheets of ice. Even so, we were on the road by ten. It was cold enough outside that the wind froze the inside of the window panes. Although the heater was enough to roast us, it was unable to melt the frosting humidity accumulating inside the car. Mostly, the swervy roads looked clear when I could see them. Just before Cumberland, Maryland the snow on the low shoulders vanished without a trace, but there was no time when the temperature rose above twenty degrees. We finally arrived, newly home, at six thirty, after only eight-and-a-half tedious, half-blind, boiling, jammed upright hours driving the back-ends of West Virginia and Maryland. It was about ten degrees in DC. We made record time moving-in, inhaling good Vietnamese food, and going to bed. [Cavin]

Monday, February 05, 2007


I can tell it's blisteringly cold outside by the horses across the street. When they're all huddled up together in whatever spot of sun's nearest the barn, I know it's about twenty degrees. If they are letting the mule stand with them, there's dramatic wind-chill factor happening, too. The mercury's only poked up above freezing once since we arrived here last week. Today the mule has been really close to the horses. The wind-chill has been a cozy, sunlit twelve-ish, and just lately that wind has been filled with little sparkling crystals from Friday's snowfall. Today the sky is clear; a good thing because we get up early tomorrow and drive to our new home in Falls Church, about six miles outside DC (see the Oakwood complex here, though we won't know which unit is ours until we arrive tomorrow evening). I'll miss hanging out at the farm, but I'm really looking forward to hitting an urban area. As cold as it has been here, it's often difficult to motivate myself into going outside where most of the neat things to be done are. It's been difficult to motivate to town, too, since that's a half-hour away. The capital area represents an opportunity to go see movies, eat spicy ethnic cuisine, and look at world-renowned objects of art. The same is true here in Kentucky when there is a little less ice in the air. Here's an example of the fine art in the yard, taken back before Christmas when it was warmer. All indications point to an easy eight-hour trip to the DC metropolitan area tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed against new accumulation between now and then. Loaded down, bitter-cold driving is just fine as long as we aren't crawling along at twenty mph over highway ice. [Cavin]