Monday, December 21, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
We rented a car to drive to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Gettysburg. First, we had the most cliche lunch that South Philadelphia has to offer: a cheeseteak from Pat's. And it was good!
The thing about cheeseteaks in South Philadelphia is that they are best when served with a little bit of profanity. As Roo was at the window about to order his sandwich, he had to wait for the guy behind the counter to finish hollering, "shut the hell up and make the damn sandwich" at his female co-worker. And that was probably the best Philly Cheesesteak Roo ever ate.
J and Sam loved their cheesesteaks, too. And so did the pigeons--they flocked around and pecked at each other for the scraps from our sandwiches. I think if the guy behind the counter had seen this, he would've hollered, "hey pigeons, shut the hell up and eat the damn scraps." I think its just a South Philadelphia thing to yell at pigeons--pigeons and women. But those Phillies sure can cook a cheesesteak!
We took a nice tour of Independence Hall:
Here is the hall of the Constitutional Convention. It was really neat to imagine what it would have been like to be there with all our founding fathers. And then I wondered if maybe they had their own salty South Philadelphian there to holler, "Shut the hell up and write the damn Constitution." Probably, since their approach to constitutions is much like their approach to cheesesteaks, and we ended up with such a good Constitution, after all.
That's just how they do things in Philly.
The Liberty Bell
We spend that night with Jim and Kathie and their baby, Seth--I mean, Gavin--at their apartment in Baltimore. We had a wonderful dinner and played a killer game of Yahtzee where I rolled my first ever Yahtzee and Kathie made smoothies with their Magic Bullet. So it was like living in an infomercial for the evening. Thanks Jim and Kathie!
The next day was pouring rain and I was coming down with a bad cold, but we drove to Gettysburg anyway. I just loved it there! The colors were perfect. It wasn't too crowded. I had even read Killer Angels last summer to prepare myself. Roo's enthusiasm for the likes of Little Round Top and Devil's Den was dampened (pun intended) a bit by the rain, though...
Probably one of the best parts of Gettysburg was this amazing restaurant we found. We were cold and wet and we came upon this underground tavern in the basement of a historical home which was actually part of the Underground Railroad. The whole place was candle lit, the servers wore authentic clothing, and the menu had a lot of extra "e"s on the end of words like "corne". The dark, warm, rough timbered tavern was perfectly cozy with our hearty food and a warm mug of apple cider, complete with a cinnamon stick and apple slice.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Anyway, a long time ago I read an excellent poem written here by Tiffany, and, inspired by it, I decided to call a truce with poetry and write a poem of my own. I kept it sitting in my drafts for a few months, but the lull in my blogging of late has, out of necessity, forced me to pull it out.
So here it is--Annie's First Poem:
Where I'm From
I am from stories, from piles of words and pictures in my little girl hands,
that color the ceiling while I wait for sleep.
I am from calloused hands, rough and accustomed to tribulation.
Bent by work, stiff from toil,
Passed from father to son, who grew into father--
I am from long nights.
The resonant scream of saw blade against wood that cries through the family room floor,
and accompanies our sleep.
I am from homemade.
From home sewn,
The taste of chicken noodle borne up in steam
that curls in our tired eyes.
I am from bare feet and irreverent laughter in couch cushion forts.
From learning to keep up and watch out and be quiet.
I am from Windows of Heaven
and Father in Heaven
and Stairway to Heaven.
On the yellowing keys of an upright piano
I play--just yellowing keys and me.
I am from someday but not today. Where we are content to wait, to adapt, to settle.
To finish the work.
To do without.
Here the world is apart, so far from our small corner.
It is for someone else.
I am from falling in love with the boy downstairs
who exists in a world where impossible
In my big girl heart I hold his words and pictures
that color the ceiling while I wait no more.
I'm going to ask my mom to hang it on the fridge.
You should try writing your own.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
We were really lucky to get to stay with JJ and Jen and their four cats. Here is me and Cuomo, the king of the cats. I loved him.
Roo and I both believe that it's who you're with on a vacation that really makes it great (or not so great.) Luckily, we got to spend the week playing cards, watching Harry Potter, and eating cupcakes with JJ (Roo's brother) and Jen. Plus, Spencer (Roo's other brother) and Kristen and their ultra intelligent children drove down from Rochester to sightsee with us--we had J, Sam, and Knox to explain to us what E Plurbis Unim meant, why the Classical architecture and symbolism of the city was so pertinent to our American ideals, and what they were going to be for Halloween--so we pretty much had a guaranteed awesome trip.
Here's what we saw:
Probably my favorite museum was the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The subject is really important to me, and the museum was fantastically done! It was tragic and hopeful at the same time. The building itself was such an amazing, symbol-filled work of art. Below is what the architect had in mind when he designed it:
"Everywhere there are dualities and options. The west wall of the Hall of Witness is made of black granite, the east wall of white marble — the former ominous, the latter hopeful. The play of light and shadow, along with contrasting wide and narrow spaces, arouses contradictory notions of accessibility and confinement.
The entire Hall is defined by unpredictability and uncertainty. Altogether, the interior suggests a departure from the norm, informing visitors that they are in a profoundly different place. It is an environment that stimulates memory and sets an emotional stage for the Museum's exhibitions. Exposed beams, arched brick entryways, boarded windows, metal railings, steel gates, fences, bridges, barriers, and screens — all "impound" the visitor, and are disturbing signals of separation.
The fissure underscores a sense of imbalance, distortion, and rupture — characteristics of the civilization in which the Holocaust took place."
This room was full of pictures of the faces and lives of a small but thriving Jewish community that was completely wiped out by the end of the war.This was a plain, reverent room with rows of lit candles and Old Testament scriptures on the walls. It was very lovely and peaceful.
I could not stop thinking about who had worn these shoes. When was the last time they had taken them off? I found this especially moving.
A perfect Isaiah quote.
Did I mention that a storm of permanent, non-stop, freezing rain decided to visit D.C. too? It was bitterly cold and wet, and I had gotten a nasty cold, so walking around all day outside was really a sort of crucible of wills for me. But I still loved the city!
We took a tour of the Capitol in the rain:
We took a tour of Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate in the rain:
Saw the very impressive and beautiful Lincoln Memorial in the rain:
Walked the deceptively lengthy distance of the reflecting pool in the rain:
Went to the WWII Memorial in the rain:
Wore head scarves like Russian peasant women while posing with the Washington Monument in the rain:
The one day it didn't rain we got to spend with Spencer and Kristin sightseeing. This is the National Gallery of Art:
We were pretty tired most of the time. So when we weren't browsing artifacts or looking for good street vendor food, we took advantage of any comfortable chairs to sit down for a minute.
This is in the archives where we saw the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
We both decided we loved D.C. in spite of the rain. It was interesting, impressive, and we didn't see any racoon-sized rats in the Metro.
Monday, October 19, 2009
We left Friday night--or should I say Saturday morning--on the red-eye Delta flight to New York City. Though getting to tell people, "I'm on the red-eye to New York City" seems like it would make you feel especially cosmopolitan and adventurous, the act of actually being on the red-eye to New York City mostly makes you feel like a miserable wretch. After take off, you settle in, determined to get a good, solid night's rest--this is when you find that your seat reclines at an angle of exactly .03 degrees and that plastic-wrapped napkin they gave you is actually your complimentary blanket which you cleverly roll into a makeshift pillow, desperately hoping it can somehow make it possible to sleep while sitting Mary-Poppins-straight. 3.5 hours later, we disembarked in a coma-like stupor and made our way to the hotel --we were two sleep-deprived white people lugging suitcases through the New York subway at 5:30 am. It was awesome.
Our hotel was a couple blocks from Times Square--named for the good times you have when you're in it...
This was my second trip to New York and Roo's first. I love the city. This is beautiful to me:
We wandered around both days we were there, and we found ourselves at the New York Public Library. This place was like a temple to me. Old stone and elaborately carved wood and books.
This is the ceiling. Most libraries I've been to have gross flourescent lighting, like they're actually trying to make people feel bored in there--I feel like New York's library ceiling should be the standard for all libraries.
Of course we had to try some New York pizza. It was good and cheap. This is just after we went to The Strand--probably the most awesome bookstore I've ever been to--book browsing usually makes one hungry for pizza.
Roo seems unimpressed by Wall Street.
Meals mainly consisted of pretzels and hot dogs.
This cool band made Central Park feel like New Orleans Square at Disneyland. We sat down and I watched the joggers pass by and smile, a young dad helped his baby daughter dance along to the music, a busy-looking businessman dropped a couple bucks into the guitar case and went on his busy way. I love Central Park.
Here is the view from our hotel room on the 24th floor. You just don't have that many floors where I come from, so this kind of elevation is a novelty worthy of a picture.