Image by Joe Bly


Last Updated 29 September 2004


Time: 9:14 pm EST
Date: 29 Septermber 2004
Reading:
Ulysses by James Joyce, Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Hearing:
"The Mushroom Man" by Vasen
Inspiration:
Terrible Loss

Entry: Missing

Just got the worst news, about some friends of mine who lost their baby due to early labor this weekend. They are both beautiful people, deeply in love and full of love for the world. This child was to be the first manifestation of this in the world. And now he is lost. They hadn't even named him yet, just about 22 weeks into the pregnancy. But they were excited and learning all the preliminary skills required of them. And now, they say they are trying to cope with the pain. Gods, it kills me! I cannot imagine what they are going through at this moment...

Yes, well, apparently I've been away a while again. Busy with my added classes this semester and all the reading involved with it. My writing mind is a bit fallow lately, something I'm having a difficult time dealing with considering the addition of my poetry writing class this semster. I have a lot of things I want to try writing about, but when I pick up the pen and place it to page, nothing comes. I am inspired though, just not quite ready I guess.

On the 22nd, Eric and his co-worker, Dave, and I all went to see the Swedish folk trio Vasen at Duke University. The show was brilliant! We were some of the younger people there, per usual. But everyone loved it, and we could feel the strong chemistery between the band members. I am a bit behind on their CD's, but the two most recent releases are where most of the tunes came from with a few old favorites thrown in for good measure. I'm re-in-love with them. I checked out four books of poetry from various Scandinavian countries for further inspiration, and what I've had time to read is very good. I must have a new poem by Thursday because I'm running out of older stuff (that hasn't already been workshopped, that is) to eek by on. Grr! Where's my Muse?

Maybe what's left of hurricane Jean will blow away the lingering cob-webs from my gears and set my soul to verse. It's supposed to get pretty windy/rainy tonight and tomorrow with possiblilities of tornados! With prayers that no one is injured, I hope to see something fierce tomorrow!


Time: 5:29 pm EST
Date: 29 August 2004
Reading: Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence, Hamlet
Hearing: James' Launch Station--um, Iron Maiden :(
Inspiration: Read On

Entry: My Week's End

This week ended rather critically for me in the terms of my situation at UNCG. As those of you who read this journal know, I have been planning my graduation for this December for some time now. In thinking that I would be graduating in December, I'd begun to plan my future for the following year, to include my wedding later in the year.

I was informed on Friday that I am 23 credit hours short of graduation this fall. How this was overlooked is really irrelavant, it simply was. Apparently this happens often with transfer students, and there is no way around it currently. It has been speculated that I might take the syllabi from my old university classes and discuss with the Dean of English whether they might be re-evaluated to transfer in at a higher level (which I thought they had already, hence my assumption of graduation this December) in order to knock that total deficit down to a more managable number for this and next semester. I have sent an e-mail to a professor imploring her to allow me entry into two of her classes THIS semester, as to not have 23 credit hours next semester. I could manage six, three credit hour courses in a semester, but eight is a bit unrealistic, even for me.

So everybody keep their fingers crossed that this professor does allow me in, though it is two weeks into classes and I will have a lot of catching up to do. Send whatever prayers and good positive energy you can that something good happens to help me out in this situation, as all will help me now. I was so very angry on Friday after my meeting with my temporary advisor (since my usual advisor is out of country on sabattical). I had to take a few minutes to come out of my red rage, then I called Eric and broke the news. He was supportive and encouraging as always, though he understood my disappointment in the oversight.

So we have to accomodate, adapt, make the proverbial lemonade. I'm not so good at that as he is--a lot less practice, one might say. Let me try it: I get to study more in my field, and since the classes don't have to be English classes, I can get a broader perspective on the Medieval period through History and the Arts classes offered. The two classes I'm trying to add this semester are poetry classes, on reading and one writing. That is a step closer to making my MFA in Creative Writing a concentration in Poetry. I'll get to meet more professors and do some networking. I might have the opportunity to completely overhaul the advising system after airing my complaints, benefiting others to come through the system. It will give me many choices of papers to enter into the English Department Essay Contest in May. I'll have another chance to see my work in Coraddi this Fall. That's about it, and I won't list the far longer list of "con's." Luckily, I have the semesters covered through scholarships and grants--I won't have to pay a thing. And the experience, there is always the experience of it all...

Do I feel better? A bit. I'll have to see how Monday goes.


Time: 8:03 pm EST
Date: 21 August 2004
Reading: Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence, Hamlet
Hearing: Nothing at the moment
Inspiration: Sharing the news...

Entry: Shaping of My Last Semester

As I typically do, let me give youa brief overview of my courses this semester:

ENG 340- Shakespeare's Later Plays with Professor Michelle Dowd, formerly of Fordham in the Bronx. We're reading eight plays in total: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra, Cymbeline, A Winter's Tale, and of course, The Tempest. An Act per class is the reading schedule, and not to heavy actually. We have quizzes over the week's reading on Fridays, two exams and one 5-7 page paper. Cake, a cinch really. The professor is a redhead--naturally, not from a bottle--with ivory skin that tends towards irritation, I imagine due to the redness around her chin and neck the first day of class. She seems very suited to the Renaissance, as though if she were to come in full Renaissance regalia she would not look amiss. Though she wore a sensible outfit--a light blue sweater and matching cardigan buttoned conspicuously at the clevage, a black skirt just above the knee, and black heels with ankle straps and ivory hose. She speaks very quickly, excitedly, using "really" more than she probably should as professor of English, but she is young and, again, excited about Shakespeare and that is understandable. Her braclettes didn't match her outfit nor did the huge amber finger ring she sported. I'm certain to like this class--most definately.

MAT 112- Contemporary Topics in Mathematics with Professor Lydia Fritz. Other courses professor Fritz teaches this semester are all along a Computer Science line, and Discrete Mathematics. She complained about the room we were using being changed from the brand new science building to the old, built in the 70's science building--the "ugliest room" she's ever seen. She complained aobu the new edition of the book, and about the way her hands looked on the projection screen since removing her fake nails. She seems nice enough, despite these things, and I can learn math from her, which is all that concerns me. Most of the course consists of very basic maths; sets and set theory, some algebra, consumer math, and geometry. Excellent! I know the basics of all of those, so it's not somehtin I'm so awfully concerned with at this point in time. Apparently, this is the first semester a math tudoring lab is being offered, and I might partake if I get stuck.

I have a three hour break here during Monday' s and Wednesday's, which I use for lunch and reading at this time, perhaps for writing and meetings concerning my impending graduation later in the semester.

ENG 350- The Twentieth-Centurty English Novel with Professor Hope Hodgekins. A wisp of a woman, yet solid with over ennunciated conssoants at the end of words as though she is, or has been, very conscious of being misunderstood or misheard. This class is reading AND writing intensive. I have to read eight novels and a companion book: Heart of Darkness, Sons and Lovers, Ulysses, Passage to India, Decline and Fall, The Power and the Fury, and To the Lighthouse, plus a novel from 20th century Britain that I choose and a companion book to Ulysses. Each week we write a hefty paragraph about a topic suggested to us by the professor (this week's is "why is Sons and Lovers considered a High-Modernist novel?"); two 5-7 page papers, one on Ulysses and the other on our chosen novel; and a final term paper of one of the former papers expanded and supported with research. For this class we also have two exams--a mid-term and a final. I think I will die for the reading load.

So there it is. All my free time has been spent reading, and I've had this week off from the bookstore (though only Friday and Saturday nights will I be working there). I've just finished the assignment in Sons and Lovers, and have yet to read Act II of Hamlet. I'm less worried for the Hamlet, since I've read it six odd times, but I like to refresh. The math assignments have been short and relatively simple, nothing too difficult that I couldn't suss it out by retuning to the examples discussed in class. So far so good. But wish me luck anyway--this is the last semester and I need to do well. Back to reading!


Time: 5:22 pm EST
Date: 10 August 2004
Reading: "Drawing Down the Moon" by Margot Adler, "I Will Not Die an Unlived Life" by Dawna Markova
Hearing: Charlotte Martin's new CD: On Your Shore
Inspiration: Time Flies...

Entry: Updates from the Other Side

This will be a quick and brief entry, just to let everyone know that I am still alive and kicking. Once the semester starts again I will have more time, if you can beleive it. It is built in to my schedule! I finally fixed the links to the last two archived quarters on the Archives page. If anyone has any catching up to do, they are ready for you. I also rededicated and updated my LiveJournal site, which I encourage all of you to read and respond to, if you haven't already. This journal will still be a forum for anything and everything, so continue to read on here as well.

For those of you who feel as though I am ignoring you, I do appologize. It is not my intention and you should be getting an email in your inbox shortly. Work is coming to a close, school will begin and I will have stress, but the good kind. A full update will be here when time allows. Until then, enjoy yourselves.


Time: 10:42 am EST
Date: 17 July 2004
Reading: "Drawing Down the Moon" by Margot Adler
Hearing: Loreena McKennit
Inspiration: The lack of having written due to travels in this land and others

Entry: Notes from the Road (mostly)

Hopefully this won't be the longest entry you ever see from me in this journal--but it is very long none the less. Enjoy!


Road Trip Travelogue (notes from our annual trip to Colorado and Texas)


Date: 04 July 2004
Time: 11:06 CST
Place: The Joyce House, Georgetown, TX

Didn't get a chance to update before now, so here is a brief recap of the trip so far:

Day One: We left Hillsborough a little later than planned. After spending an hour with Nancy doing finances, walking Bosco and leaving instruction for Mark in the care and keeping of our house while we are away, we got on the road about 10:00 a.m. I drove the first leg, until we stopped to lunch at the worst Hardee's in the world. The plan was to go in to get the food faster, but we ended up waiting for twenty minutes-for two burgers and fries! I was kind enough not to say anything to the general manager who was assisting serving. It was pretty obvious that our meal was sitting there, she could have just put it in a bag and handed it to us, who had been there waiting for those twenty minutes. Eric took the second leg through Tennessee. We did hit some rain, but for the most part the weather was kind and the traffic not bad either. We made our final destination stop in Hope, Arkansas in fourteen and a half hours, pretty good. Eric and I had stayed at the Day's Inn there two years ago and enjoyed the fact that we were given a king bed. It was quite nice to stay in familiar surroundings again, even if ever so briefly.

Day Two: I again took the first leg from Hope through Texarkana and down towards Austin, TX. We left the Day's Inn around 8:00 a.m. and stopped for a quick lunch at a McDonald's around 11:00 a.m. Eric had taken over driving for a little bit of I-35, but I took us into Georgetown where we met Ree at the local Starbuck's. We followed her to the Joyce house, a lovely new home in a new development. Shawn arrived on our heels and we made our way inside to unpack and settle in. Shortly thereafter, we headed out for lunch at Chipotle's. That made my afternoon, especially after the hellish traffic on the Interstate. We returned to the house to try and plan the evening and ended up watching "Bruce Almighty." The suggestion was made to purchase fireworks and start celebrations for the Fourth early. We stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up some hot dogs and cream cheese (for cheesecakes Ree was making for her brother's birthday).

Day Three: Shawn took us out to San Gabriel Lake for some early fishing. I took the time to catch up on some paper journaling, copying in some slips of paper written on at work from before Dick's passing before casting a few lures myself. Shawn caught a small bass, but threw it back. Eric and I both got pretty sunburned. We picked up a light lunch from the H.E.B. grocery store before heading out again for the Texas Hill Country. We stopped at a dam before heading to the Longhorn Caverns for another lovely underground tour. Longhorn Cavern was created by underground rivers and the rocks were literally carved out by whirlpools and eddy currents. The Buffet Palace was our destination for supper, an excellent buffet of many different Asian cuisines. This included some of the best kimchi I've had in a very long time. We tried to see some fireworks at the Dell Diamond, but we must have been confused on the times because the place was empty. Then home again to relax off the meal, then to sleep after nursing our sunburn.

Day Four: This morning, Shawn had to work at six a.m., and Ree went to church. So, Eric and I watched the Wimbledon Men's Finals (yay Roger Federer!) and just helping out around the house. Eric is trying to install a scanner on the Joyce computer and I did the dishes and am typing this. A further update to come later this evening.

_____________________________
Date: 07 July 2004
Time: 3:00 p.m. CST
Place: Mom Hansen's House, Colorado Springs, CO.

Another reflection of the past few days in this entry.

Day Four (cont'd): Around two in the afternoon, we headed down to Austin proper. We attempted to go to a store we saw advertised on TV called All Things Celtic, but they were closed due to the holiday. Shawn had wanted to take us to an Irish pub called Fadó's (Irish for "long ago"). Apparently it is a chain, with locations in Denver and Atlanta, but I'd never heard of it before this. The décor was true to most traditional 20th century Irish pubs (unlike Tir Na Nog) with the dark wood fixtures and an eclectic collection of stuff filling the wall space. They served traditional pub fare, fish and chips, shepherd's pie, and bangers and mash, as well as what looked to be light and well put together cuisine, as well as too cold Guinness. But the atmosphere was great, the food delicious and the company was excellent. We walked a few blocks to take off the pressure of the dinner and made our way to Auditorium Shores where the lighting of fireworks was to take place later that evening. A portion of the park was sectioned off for ticked patrons of the concert being performed there, so we went to the Hyatt to partake of their facilities before heading up to the Congress Street Bridge. The bats were far less concentrated than they had been two years ago when Eric and I had visited Shawn in August. Perhaps they weren't fully migrated in as of yet. They were still a sight none the less. Shortly thereafter, fireworks lit the sky from both sides of the river/Lake Austin. The finale was excellent and Eric experimented with my camera to try and get them with some clarity. We'll see how they turn out. After returning from Austin, we headed over to Ree's Aunt's house for her brother's belated birthday party. The cul de sac was already alight with kiosk bought fireworks and Eric and Shawn were soon adding to the festivities. We stayed a little while, long enough to partake of some excellent hot green chili sauce, before heading home for sleep.

Day Five: We left the Joyce house around 10:30 a.m. heading north on I-35 towards Dallas/Ft. Worth. We arrived without incident at James' apartment around 1:00 p.m. after stopping for gas at the local Diamond Shamrock. We unloaded the car and immediately left for Schlotzsky's Deli for lunch. James and I then took the time to catch up on some music playing while Eric read a bit and napped in the other room. When Julie arrived home, we had some wine before leaving for supper in Grapevine (a nearby town) at Baja Fresh. The margaritas were huge and the food was excellent. We talked a lot and I, for one, was really feeling a buzz. The night continued back at their apartment with another two bottles of wine between the four of us, good conversation, and music. James and I tried to record our song "Discovering the West," at least what we had of it, but I can't really tell you how it sounded because hearing the playback I was a bit intoxicated. We fell into bed around 1:30 a.m.

Day Six: After a late rise, a light breakfast on queasy stomachs, and goodbyes made to our hosts, we left the Hines-Uzdavinis house a little after nine o'clock. The drive through the rest of Texas and Oklahoma were a little rainy and a little slow going. But once we reached Kansas we made good time through Wichita to Salina, where we stopped at an IHOP for supper. I took over driving for the remainder of Kansas over the border into Colorado (where thankfully the speed limit is 75 miles per hour). We made good time until Limon where we pick up highway 24 down into the Springs. We arrived around 10:00 p.m. to my mother's house and were in bed shortly thereafter.

Day Seven: I woke early, around seven, showered and had a cup of coffee before Eric got up. We took Ruby for a bath after a light breakfast of eggs and salsa, and then we took mom out to the Super Wal-Mart for groceries for the week. Then we left to have a light Mexican lunch at La Casita, something I've been craving for months. But I got a huge bowl of green chili and home made tortillas with guacamole for lunch and I think I'm over the craving. We'll see if I get some more before leaving town. Tonight, we're grilling pork tenderloin on the grill and having mixed sautéed veggies, French bread and a nice spinach and mixed green salad with Roma tomatoes for supper.

Day Seven(cont'd): Jeremy arrived just in time for supper and joined us without much coercion. We stayed and chatted for a bit before Jeremy left. Eric and I went to see Shrek 2 at the big movie theatre on Powers. The movie was excellent and very witty.

________________________
Date: 16 July 2004
Time: 9:30 p.m. EST
Place: Mom Taylor's House, Hillsborough, NC.

Day Eight: Thursday morning, Eric and I went to the IMAX theatre to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I love the way the films that have been digitally converted to IMAX sound…and the picture is amazing too. We had lunch at Wild Oats Market, a natural/organic foods supermarket like Whole Foods, and they actually had my essence of cayenne in the dropper that I've been unable to find for months. We then drove into Old Colorado City to look for the rubber stamp store I went crazy in last year, but alas, it had closed. We searched another store and I purchased two stamps before heading to Celebrations Bookstore for my annual pilgrimage. I only bought two used books and some cards and incense, but I could totally spend my fortune there. Coletrane Wine and Liquor Market had two wonderful bottles of robust French red wines for our BBQ at Dad and Jo's and we also picked up some ingredients for s'mores. Everyone was at the BBQ: dad and Jo, Ernie and Pauline, Dawn and Allen, Eric and myself, Josh and Linda and the "kiddos," Jeremy, and J.R. We had standard fare hamburgers and hot dogs with all the fixings and lovely watermelon slices. Dad gave us a copy of an old book that has been in the family for years, a collection of poetry signed by the compiler. I remember the book itself, but I've never read it. It was nice to receive a personal heirloom gift like that. I gave them a copy of the Coraddi that my poem was published in, and a copy of the collage Nancy had made of it as well. Eric and I left late, around midnight.

Day Nine: Here is the obligatory visit to my grandmother. My mother fretted about it all week, and being the pessimist that she is, the visit is always stressful. I don't think that my grandmother realizes just how sensitive my mother is to the way Norma phrases things and that anytime my mom's name is used in a sentence, she braces for the worst, often reading into things and jumping to ridiculous conclusions. This visit was much of the same and I have to say that I was glad when it was over. We stopped to pick up lunch at Burger King, one of my mom's favorites. Marisa called shortly after lunch and we agreed to meet her in Woodland Park at the Safeway there. She had to get some water and afterwards we followed her three miles or so towards Cripple Creek where she and Kelcey now make their home. The house is quite nice, certainly the work they plan on putting into it is going to not only make the house a home but also increase the value immensely. We stayed in for the night, mostly because Squirrelly had just returned from surgery on her knee, but also because the new puppies are a handful. We called out for pizza and watched a movie. While Eric and Kelcey were out getting the pizza, I tried to talk with Risa about Dick's passing and the time leading up to and after it. Unfortunately, we were interrupted by the dogs, either Squirrel whimpering in pain, or the pups tearing around the house and being general menaces. I just don't feel like we connected very deeply this trip, mostly due to lack of time and some other preoccupations. Makes me yearn for the day when we are not so far apart for so long. We had supper and watched Kill Bill Vol. 1, which I liked despite the violence. We left around 11:00 p.m. for the Springs with full bellies and smiles on our cheeks. I forgot my sunglasses there.

Day Ten: Einstein Bagels awaited us at dad and Jo's before heading out to Larkspur for the Colorado Renaissance Festival. Dawn joined us, but Allen stayed at home to work on the deck of their house. The faire was crowded, far more crowded than I've ever seen it in all my years visiting. I wasn't let down by the amount of vendors they have squeezed into that tiny little space, and some of the craftsmen were very good at their arts. One man carved the most amazing hilts for swords and daggers out of moose and elk antler and companioned them with beautiful blades made in Idaho. The steel was folded 125 times creating a ripple effect in the blades causing them to look very rustic and detailed. They were also very expensive, a short Scottish dirk running around $700! The long sword he had on display was upwards of $3,000! Of course he does custom work…and that is something to think about for the wedding. We had a lot of ideas sparked in our tour of the vendors, and I made an effort to point out what was "in" and what was "out" for the wedding. I had to leave for Chipeta Park and the rehearsal for Delta's wedding. I was right on time and waited for everyone to finish supper brought in from Chile's before we talked through the rehearsal. I called Eric to find out where we were meeting for supper, and flew to an interesting restaurant called The Elephant Bar. I had a Guinness and some decent jambalaya and shared a dessert with Eric.

Day Eleven: We arrived at dads a bit later than expected, Eric having slept in a bit later than expected. On the agenda was GeoCacheing with John May in Black Forest. It was the first time for Eric and I, though I had been interested in it for some time. We hiked about two miles in all, and had lunch at Panera Bread Company. Eric and I then headed back to moms house to get ready for the wedding. We arrived a bit before they finished setting up and I took my place beneath the gazebo with my guitar. Eric sat on the outskirts of the seating area and took some photos of the ceremony. It was beautiful. The day was slightly windy but not overcast or rainy at all. Delta looked lovely, which isn't surprising, and I was nervous. I was micked but not amped, which was good. The guitar was out of tune, and apparently only I could hear it. Thankfully, my voice was on and mostly all that could be heard. Since I was performing a song that I'd written, I wanted it to be the best it could be for their special day. I felt okay about it once it was over and many guests complimented me on my performance. Eric and I stayed for the photographs, and I got a few that I will compile in an altered book to give later as a gift. In it I will include a copy of the lyrics to "Love Song" as well. The reception was at Mucky Duck, and due to the lateness of our arrival, full to the hilt without a free seat for us. I relegated us to sit in the waiting area until a waitress got kind of snotty with us. Then we moved outside to eat. I got frustrated because it really put a damper on my experience of the wedding, which up until that point had been quite nice. We left shortly after eating supper, heading for the Springs for ice cream dessert at Josh and John's. We hung out at Acacia Park for a bit, waiting for the fountain to go off, but somehow we missed it. In our waiting, we missed the closing of Poor Richard's Bookstore by ten minutes.

Day Twelve: Another early morning with dad and Jo, this time to look at real estate in the mountains of Colorado. It was 105 degrees in Pueblo, CO when we stopped for lunch at Ianne's for grinders. Jo's Mercedes doesn't have AC, so we drove with the windows open for most of the journey. It was fine once we got to the mountains. We drove through San Isabel National Forest, towards Westcliff, where there was a lot of land for sale. I would love to live there, near that part of San Isabel where there are still aspens. We detoured on a county road towards Cañon City and found another property we'd seen in a real estate guide boasting 35 acres surrounding government lands (San Isabel). I think I would like it there too, despite the fact that there are no aspens there and it gets hot like Cañon City and Pueblo. We raided a dumpster along the way and found some books for free. Upon our arrival, Ernie and Pauline had a BBQ dinner waiting for us, and we visited briefly with Dawn and Allen. Jo gave us a gift for Nancy, and Pauline gifted us with a crystal picture frame from Mikasa. Jo also gave a copy of one of the pictures she took of Eric and I last summer to my mother. We said our good-byes, saying we'd see each other again in December when they come out for my graduation.

Day Thirteen: I got up early and showered, packed my things and started packing Eric's before he got up and did the same. We did some last minute things for my mother before getting on the road around nine a.m. We drove, drove, drove, and drove some more, taking I-70 through Kansas and Missouri then across Illinois to stop in Mt. Vernon at the Day's Inn for the night. We ended up with a king suite discounted because it was all they had, and frankly, that was okay after sixteen hours of straight driving.

Day Fourteen: More driving, down through Kentucky and into Tennessee, then across to North Carolina on I-40. We just missed some severe weather as we drove through Greensboro and into Hillsborough-home. Grey and LB were skittish at first, then LB realized that we were his long lost wizened parents and started crying for the "luvins." We unpacked a bit before heading out to the grocery store to pick up some breakfast staples, then quite literally fell into bed, exhausted but happy to be home.


Time: 11:23 am EST
Date: 08 June 2004
Reading: "Daughter of Ireland" by Juilene Osborne McKnight
Hearing: "Breaking the Silence" by Loreena McKennit
Inspiration: Incomplete entry previous

Entry: D.C./Baltimore Trip, Part Two

Sunday

We met James at the Shady Grove Metro Station around 9:00am and made our way out of the D.C. area towards Baltimore. After finding a parking spot (the cheapest we saw was $7 a day, and where we parked was $8 and seemed "shady" to say the least), we made our way down to Inner Harbor and the Aquarium, stopping first at the Barnes & Noble for a bathroom break. It was by far the most unique B&N I'd ever been in, and I'm glad we stopped, even though it reminded us all of work on our vacation. We bought tickets for a 12:15 entrance time with a 2:15 dolphin show. We found a visitor's center and tried to find something to eat, having heard only good things about Philip's. Luckily, it was right across the way from us, so we headed over for some fresh yummy seafood. They had just opened, and we ordered a round of beers and the crab pot, "a feast for two" that ended up being a feast for three. Crab is messy, but fun to eat. And delicious, I'm so glad we could enjoy the time and good food with James. We entered the aquarium a little late, as lunch took longer to eat (and clean up after) than we expected. But we did make a little girl's day by giving her a whole crab to look at--she was too cute! The aquarium was awesome, and huge! Too bad there were so many people there. The exhibits were crowded and hard to stay very long at for clausterphobic reasons. I heard more "Finding Nemo" jokes than I thought possible, and we ended up breezing through the last two exhibits in order to reach the dolphin show on time. The dolphins were well trained, I imagine from performing 20+ shows a day, seven days a week. But it was fun (even though James found himself falling asleep at times). I took lots of photos with my black and white film, so I don't know how they will turn out.

After the aquarium, we decided to walk a bit around Inner Harbor and maybe catch a water taxi to some of the more touristy sights (I wanted to see the Edgar Allen Poe house, but we'll do that next time). Eric and I had promised to bring back some pastries for the Elder Taylor's from Baltimore's Little Italy section. In our search, we passed to old Italian men sitting on the porch chatting in Italian. I thought, well, we should ask them. And wouldn't you know it, Eric crosses the street and asks directions to the nearest bakery/patisserie. "On a Sunday?" comes the reply, and I feel like I'm in a movie. We were directed to Vaccarro's, though Eric felt we might have been told about some place better if it weren't the Sabbath. The Italian final word was, "you'd better have a lot of money." Vaccarro's was an eat-in dessert restaraunt, similar, though smaller, to Durham's Francesca's. They had a display case of cookies and pasteries larger than any I'd seen in some time, and my mouth started watering at the sight of real Italian wedding cookies. But we were on a mission for cannoli, and took a seat in the dining area. I ordered an espresso, and the men ordered coffees. We each had a cannoli, Eric going for the chocolate dipped shell as well. Then we asked the waitress (yeah, a waitress!) to select a variety of their best selling cookies for us to take home. She was delighted to do so. Our coffees came, and the espresso was excellent, and the cannoli was overflowing with super-sweet ricotta cream. It was great, but a sugar overload--even I, a sucre-holic, got a sugar rush to end all; the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end!

Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves walking back to the car. It was close to 5 pm and our lot would be closing. We drove back to D.C. listening to Radiohead and chatting about music and the day. James and I decided now was the best time to play music, something we had talked about doing all weekend and the entire week before our trip. So Eric dropped us off at James' and Julie's hotel, the Allen Lee, while he went off in search of cheaper gas for Ruby. Now, the Allan Lee is an interesting place. It totally lookes like a junky hang-out: the front desk off to the right of the main front door, and a soda machine to the immediate right. As I walked in with my guitar (Mirabelle, in her Martin hard case), an old woman sitting on a chair just before the stairwell in her housedress, barely acknowledged my presence as I excused myself for passing between her and whatever he gaze was trained on. It was surreal! Down the stairwell, around the corner and into room #113, right next to an emergency exit back up to the street. The room was all wood panneling, and it had an odd shape to it. To the right of the door was the larger of two beds, a bedside table and an old chair, all mismatched. To the left, a single bed and another dresser, a window-unit airconditioner that was quite loud, and the curtain-covered half window that inevitably sat at ground level with the street itself. The bathroom was directly across the room from the door (talk about bad feng shui). I thought it was a great place to play/write, as it felt like we were struggling musicians and this was the only place we could get. I was saddened to know the price they had paid for the room, even if it was so convieniently located, especially when Eric and I were paying the same for a room twice the size 50 miles north in Fredrick. Anyway, we got to play and work on the song for about an hour and a half until we were called and told to join the same group from the previous night at a pretty famous bar/pub called the Brickskellar. Eric was on his way to pick us up and we went to sample the place holding the Guinness World Record for most beers available for sale.

The Brickskellar is set up like a typical college bar/restaraunt. But behind the bar proper is a line of refridgerators lined with literally hundreds of different beers. A rainbow of labels, from around the world entices the eye, and the extensive book of a menu entices the senses. I stuck to imports, mostly from the UK. I had an elderberry beer from Scotland called (I think) Elderos, one from England called Abbot Ale, and a third, also from England, who's name I've forgotten. They were all very good, but the elderberry beer was my favorite. After Brickskellar and saying our farewells to everyone, Eric and I drove back to Fredrick and fell into bed.

Monday

Eric and I slept in a bit, getting up in just enough time to catch the tail-end of the continental breakfast and check out. We headed back into D.C. for a bit more sight seeing before heeding the call of real life and returning to NC. Our first stop that misty morning was the C&O Canal, and the Potomac River. Our next stop was Union Station to pick up a creat your own cannoli kit from the Vaccaro's station there, and then to an Irish pub/restaraunt we'd seen across the way from our car. There we had traditional Irish fare to accompany our Guinness, Eric had the beef stew and I had excellent fish and chips, followed by a shared piect of Irish cream cheescake. Next stop was the National Botanic Gardens, adjacent to the Capital Building. We'd recieved a call from Eric's mother by this point telling us that his father had returned to the hospital and that we should try to come home as soon as we could. We thought a quick walkthrough of the gardens would be possible, but we should have known better. We spent too much time in the exquisite exhibits and conservatory, and ended up not leaving D.C. until about 3:30 pm in steadily falling rain.

But the drive back was uneventful. Most of the traffic was on the north-bound side of I-95 and we had a smooth journey until the I-85 construction in north Durham. We made the trip in about 4 hours. Overall, an excellent time was had by all and it was a nice repreve before the stressfull week that lay ahead.

 


Time: 10:24 pm EST
Date: 02 June 2004
Reading: "I am of Irelande" by Juilene Osborne McKnight
Hearing: Resevoir Dogs soundtrack
Inspiration: New Quarter/Memorial Day Vacation

Entry: D.C. Baltimore Trip, Part One

Friday

Left Hillsborough around 5:30 pm after picking Dick up from dialysis and waiting for Nancy to get back from Dr.'s office and picking up perscription.
Ete Hardee's on the road.
Hit a patch of pouring rain (VA "frog-strangler") outside Petersburg, VA, but despite that slowing, a rest stop, and a stop for gas and calamine lotion for old mosquito bites, we made Fredrick, MD in 5 hours. Not bad.
We left a message with Julie and James saying that we would be staying at the hotel for the night and that we would meet them in the morning or early afternoon Sat.
Went to Perkins so ET could have breakfast, and I had a raspberry scone muffin and decaf hot tea.

Saturday

ET and I were up early for showers and the continental breakfast, with plans for viewing the National Arboretum in NE D.C.


We arrived at the Aboretum around 8:30 am, opting to drive around the peremiter and stop when we found something interesting before the 10 am opening of the Bonsai Garden. We saw old original columns relocated from the Capital building, freestanding in an open field of tall grass. They looked like ruins, and it made me think of the cult classic "Logan's Run" and the D.C. ruins they come upon. It was quite striking and haunting. It was here that I saw my first of the Brood 10 cicadas, their 17 year cycle coming to this year. Certainly it was not my last, as they were EVERYWHERE! Next stop on our tour of the Arboretum was the Herb Garden. I could have spent the entire day there alone. The main portion surrounded a traditional knot garden with geraniums and wintergreen, thyme and clover for the knotwork. Everything was fragrant, and just lovely. They had a hundred types of mint, all in outlying borders (very very smart), and the most delicious lemon thyme I've ever tasted. Surrounding the central knot garden were specialized gardens with names like "Colonial Garden," "Dye Garden," "Native American Healing Garden," and so on. I was so excited about this that I had to go through it twice. I didn't read everything, hardly saw everything there was to see, so that means I have to go back--this time with plenty of film and a sketchbook journal and many hours at my disposal. After the herb garden we went to the Native Plants Garden. Much of this was familiar with some variations. There was a little pond surrounded by the deep throaty calls of bullfrogs. The cicadas were humming in the trees, sounding like a distant concrete interstate, less electric than the every other year cicadas, which have a more metalic sound to their mating call. We finally arrived at the Bonsai Garden and spent another 40 minutes there, taking pictures of shrubbery that has been meticulously pruned for 50-60 years on average, with one that had been maintained for 350 years! That was truly a wonder--would that I had that much patience.

After the National Arboretum, ET dropped me off in D.C., right off the Mall, to meet James and Julie at the National Gallery while he parked the car further out and Metro-ed back in. The three of us saw maybe 7 rooms of the gallery, mainly works from the 18th century, before deciding to get something to eat. I had seen many multi-cultural cuisine booths set up for the WWII Memorial dedication festivities, and we decided to go there. They both had Cajun red beans and rice with sausage, and I had some jerk chicken legs with fried plantain. Yummy! Shortly thereafter, ET let us know he was on his way back, and we met him in the Hirshorn Statuary Garden across from the Smithsonian metro station. We then walked to the National Archives and checked out the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and other important national documents. (Don't forget about the hobbit child and the photos in the basement, and the "instant Civil War.")

We made every attempt to see the WWII Memorial, but apparently they had it closed off for the actual dedication and we couldn't get in. ET has mixed feelings about monuments to war, and about ruining the feel of the Mall and the view from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument too. I think the monument is striking, but could have been placed elsewhere. I agree with the premis of the disagreement to monuments of war, but they have always been in Western culture. Some of them are beautiful, others unecessary. I understand the human need to remember in such a fashion. Eventually, we went our seperate ways, ET and I going back to the hotel in Fredrick to change and get gussied up for supper at a yummy tapas resteraunt. We met James at the Metro station in Bethesda, and made a ten block walk (in formerly $300 Franco Scoto heels that I bought for $40!) in the wrong direction, before calling and walking twelve blocks back to the restaraunt, trying not to step on cicada carcases along the way. When we finally reached the resteraunt (gotta double check the name), we met some of Julie's friends from her trip to Spain in 2002, Katie and Alexis. We had good food, good wine, and excellent dessert. It was a great night.

More tomorrow...


 

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