Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

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Beloved and I took the girls on vacation this past week, which was school vacation week here in New England.

Originally, we were going to go to Spain – primarily Barcelona – but then the Economic Downturn hit the law firms, and our previously-thought-to-be-predictable bonuses were scaled back.  Fortunately, mine was not scaled back by much – we were still able to take care of most of our NEEDS.  It was scaled back enough, however, to make me feel that Spain was imprudent.

So we went to D.C.

We had wanted to take them for a long time, but many things were in place to make this year perfect:  Well, of course, Obama.  Also, E is doing key parts of American History in 7th grade this year.

J seemed considerably less excited leading up to the trip.  We couldn’t get her engaged in the travel books to say what she wanted to do – she kept saying ‘mm, yeah, that’ll be fine.”  So we were a little worried on that front.

We were also a little worried because this was (oddly) our first real “tourist” vacation with the girls.  We’ve gone on weekend trips, and we’ve gone to Disneyland.  But otherwise, the heavy travel that Beloved and I have done has been while they’re with the Ex.

Well, it was a resounding success.

We had a blast.  Oh, pictures, you say? I’ll give you pictures.

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial



White House

White House

And, um, Escalators.

And, um, Escalators.

We did pretty darned close to everything while there (6 days).  It’s easier to list what we did NOT do:  The Jefferson Memorial; the Aquarium; Georgetown.  We did (I think) every Smithsonian museum that was open, the major monuments, the White House Garden Tour (see Michelle, Malia & Sasha’s veggie garden):

White House Veggie Garden

White House Veggie Garden

We also were able to watch the Senate in session, which was high up on E’s list.  It was both our most frustrating and most rewarding experience.  We’d gone all over D.C. — the White House, the museums, the Supreme Court building — and been through many security systems.  To all of these locations, we’d brought our metal (beautiful) water bottles, and in all of these locations, it was okay.  Actually, we thought it wouldn’t be okay at the White House, and so we left our bags in the hotel (2 blocks away), but others had brought theirs and it was okay.

But the Capitol Building was different.  We waited in line for a long time in the morning to get into the building.  When we finally got to security, one of the very official military-esque security guards barked at J to go outside and dump her water and said “have that guard out there check it before you come back in.”  We went outside and dumped them and asked the other barky military man to check them.  He laughed at me and said, “I just saw you dump it, it’s fine.”  So we went back in.  But then the barky military man who was looking at the x-rays told us we had to throw them away.  No bottles or cans in the building.

We were sad.  Beloved was even a little indignant, but I attempted to talk him out of it.  He and J ended up sitting outside the building with our precious (beautiful) water bottles while E and I went back in to see if we could figure out what was going on with the tickets I was told were on reserve for us.  Turns out the info I had was all screwy (thanks Kerry-staff), and what we really wanted (Senate Gallery Passes) had to be picked up at Kerry’s office – across the street.

We did follow through, and were very glad of it.  We were able to see the Senate in session (Beloved went to a photography exhibit elsewhere, with the water bottles) – although we missed the exciting debate over the “Truth Commission” – and the girls almost peed their pants when John McCain walked in to the chambers and engaged in the (unpopulated) debate.  We had fun seeing how many senators we could identify, loved watching the procedure of the vote (where the senators walk in, stand at the top of the steps and just wave at the woman doing the roll call  — she sees them, calls out their vote, and they turn around and walk back out).

The girls also had a lot more tolerance for museums than I thought they would.  J was a lot more into the art than I think she expected to be.  We stuck with modern art, for the most part, and the girls were happy.

We walked a lot, and packed our days full.  I am thrilled with how the girls held up, and think they’re definitely more than ready for a Europe trip.  Hopefully next year …

But in the meantime, we are definitely due for a BEACH vacation. One where we sit in a chair and read a book for 6 days straight.  I’m already choosing a rental in the Outer Banks for August.  Now I just have to see if I can swing another solid week off of work, especially since there’s an October trial looming ….

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Yesterday’s trip to CT was mellow and mostly uneventful.  I hung out with a slightly jet-lagged sister, and took part in a 3-way day-long session of tittering over a baby.  My mother, sister and I made fun of ourselves all day for the way we were hovering over the 4 month old Prince.

He is really an amazing baby, and for some reason, he just adores me.  I was harboring a secret suspicion that of all the tittering aunts (well, one was a grandmother, but we were calling ourselves the aunts), I was by far his fave.  But when his mom joined the fray after her day of work, she confirmed my suspicion, and it was no longer secret or a suspicion.  The Prince loves this aunt!!  His mom said, “Zuska, he seems to have a real special bond with you, I wonder why that is??”  He he he.  Favorite aunt!  Favorite aunt!  I win!!  [Hi, sis!  Yes, as you know, I do know that I’m obnoxious.]

My sis is MY favorite aunt, though, because she did my laundry.  She folded my husband’s underwear.  Well, sort of.  she more “lay them in neat piles” because, well, they’re my husband’s underwear.

We had dinner – later than expected – and I had to be the family teetotaler, since I had to drive home.

When Beloved and I went to Amsterdam this summer, we brought home gin.  A bottle for us, and a bottle for my father – who loves gin.  He said that he has loved the gin.  Upon thinking about the gin, he jumped up and RAN to his liquor cabinet, took the gin (in its cool clay engraved bottle) and went to the basement to HIDE the gin. He came back up and as my brother and his wife were walking in the door, he whispered, “do not mention the Amsterdam gin!!!”

Why?  Because my brother would have knocked it back like so much water.  It’s not like we jet over to Amsterdam on a weekly basis to procure more gin!

I got home at 10:30, said ni-nite to my girly-q’s, and talked with Beloved for 2 hours before drifting off.  I had “hoped”* to wake at 7:30 and get my last pre-job gym session in.  Instead I woke at 9:15, and told Beloved that I would take both girls on my party errands so HE could go to the gym.

We went to the grocery store, and to the indy book store to buy a journal (E’s contribution to the Yankee Swap), and of course to Starbucks.  now we’re cleaning – but there isn’t so much to do.  We have 5 hours until the kids come.  J is leaving at the moment that one of the girls gets picked up.

Hopefully, all will go well tonight and tomorrow a.m.  I’m crossin’ my fingers.  Maybe before the last of the girls go home, my parents and sister will arrive.  We’re going to have cake for E and my dad, and we’re going to my favorite restaurant to consume beer and delicious food.

I realized while lying in bed last night that my beer intake must be severely monitored and limited tomorrow.  It is the first time since February that I’m saying this – but I have to go to work the next day, and don’t want to be nursing a hangover.

And I have like zero time to try on my outfit for the first day, and make sure I’m happy with it.  I’ve over packed this final weekend, to say the least.

* “hoped” here means “these are the words I’m using, but in reality, all I want to do is sleep, and for the forces of the universe – and my ability to sleep through alarm clocks – conspire to keep me in the bed until it is too late to go to the gym.”

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Darkness and Light

Last night, Beloved and I watched Marie Antionette. We had been looking forward to seeing it, since we just spent some time at Versailles last month. He knew that the film was shot on location (perhaps the first time it’s been allowed), and we wanted to see the place we’d been on screen. There were things we recognized: Like this fountain, only in the movie, it didn’t have that outhouse or garden shed behind it, and it actually had water coming out of it:


And this hallway, which appropriately showed up in a rather dark moment of the film:


These trees, which Beloved spent some time photographing, waiting for the lawnmowers and fellow tourists to disappear behind them at the same time:


Otherwise, I suppose the film was just okay. I was sad to think I would have to watch Kirsten Dunst’s pretty neck get sliced through, but Sophia spared us that unpleasantry. I was also left wondering whether the children were also killed.

When the movie ended, we headed towards bed. It was midnight, and we were tired. As I was setting my alarm and Beloved brushing his teeth, the light went out. “Hey!” I yelped at him. Why did he turn off the light? I was in the middle of something!

No, wait – the light is on my side of the bed. HE didn’t do it. Power’s out.

Then a bright surge, cut out immediately. Crap.

We lose power occasionally. No big deal. It’s annoying because the building’s back up system and alarm is right outside our apartment door, and when the power is out it BEEPS every 3 seconds. Also because if the power is out for too long, it tends to mess with our wireless router, and reconfiguring that thing is a pain in the ass. My ass. Every time. I’m he router re-configurer in the house.

But then we heard sirens and saw lots of lights go by – both red and blue.  I thought perhaps something big happened.  When we looked out the window, everything was dark.  In the past, when we lost power, the area that lost with us was pretty small.  Who knows how the grids are laid out here, but hte large apartment building kitty-corner from us is always on, even when we’re out.  This time, it was dark.

Beloved and I got a flashlight and went outside.  We could see the major intersections in both directions – only because of their glow – and that they were lit.  But nothing immediately around us was.

The light was so surreal outside.  There was a hazy glow in the sky all around us, and it almost looked like the light of the dawn.  It was 12:30, though.  It was just the glow of the city around us.  But without the street lights and lights from the buildings nearby, it had a surreal feel to it.

Beloved heard the power come back on at 2:30 a.m.  We searched the news this a.m. for a story of power lost in our neighborhood, but it was apparently something so minor that it didn’t warrant a mention.

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