R&R

This weekend I am taking a break from my global tour to clean my bathroom, which has reached peak levels of grossness after being neglected for about a month, (ew ew ew but I was out of town!) and do other terribly adult things, like deal with bills, sign up for a new 2018 neighborhood parking pass for Mark, and properly grocery shop at last.

Yes, my trip to Europe was lovely. I flew into the Friday before Thanksgiving to Copenhagen, spending a little time there on each end of my journey, and enjoyed the rest of my week in Slovenia. Slovenia was still comfortingly and wonderfully itself, but the real highlight of my time there was simply seeing old friends. (This also made it inadvertently a rather budget-friendly adventure, since I didn’t have to pay for lodging, hardly was allowed to spend anything on food or travel inside the country, and didn’t have any expensive museums to get into or fancy things to shop for.)

Far more interesting to me was Copenhagen. It was rainy off and on, chilly, and the constant high gusts of wind drove the cold through me like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I was astounded by how the Danes calmly sauntered through their city in a minimum of warm clothes, while I was layered up to the max and constantly had duck into shops to encourage my feet to remember what blood flow is. It was also so dark – the sun set around 3:30 pm.

All that said, I loved Copenhagen. I arrived just in time for all the Christmas decorations to go up, and together with the locals I stood around outside, freezing my toes off while drinking boozy mulled wine and downing grilled sausages. The city is small enough to wrap your head around, it oozes old Northern European charm, and everyone, of course, speaks better English than me. I wish I had a reason to ever return.

Many pictures below:

Yum –

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Sage wisdom:

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Christmas decor!

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Before:

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After (different vantage point):

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Boats! Lovely Copenhagen!

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The home of Wasa crackers is certainly nearby – I counted at least fifteen types of Wasa crackers at a local corner store.

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And a few Slovenia pictures to round things out –

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Roasted chestnuts over an open fire. You can’t make this stuff up.

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Much travel is still to come. Next weekend Mark and I are meeting up with some friends in Annapolis, the week after that we’ll be in the best place on earth, i.e. Portland, and now it looks like at the end of January I’ll be in Ann Arbor, because who doesn’t want to go to Michigan at the end of January? (It’s for a tango festival.) At least the airplane tickets should be dirt cheap.

Whew.

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Quick Tree Break

Although I’m sad that both my dad and the fall have come and gone, I’m glad that I was able to spend some time with both. (While I have to wait another three seasons for fall to come back around, at least I get to see my dad again in just a few weeks.)

Next stop: Copenhagen!

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Hello, Goodbye, November

This could be the last that you hear from me until mid-December, since I am either entertaining a special guest or out of town every weekend from here to December 9th. Already I shudder to think about the layer of dust and grime that will accumulate over the next few weeks. Yikes. And for those keeping track, I still have not fixed the holes in my ceiling from the AC replacement debacle, so I’m guessing that won’t be resolved until December at the earliest, either.

I’m trying not to freak out overly much, but I am so excited for just about everything. (Except work, I suppose, but work is work.) Next Wednesday my dad arrives for a visit! The Wednesday after that is Mark’s birthday and we’re going to a swanky restaurant! The Friday that same week I’m leaving for a week long trip to EUROPE! Then the weekend after I get back Mark’s and my friends are going to Shenandoah the weekend to hike! Woohoo!

In the meantime, I have much to do. Today is my last solid chance to thoroughly clean my apartment before my dad’s arrival, I am determined to study for the GRE, and I want to finally upgrade from my 2013 16 GB iPhone to an iPhone SE. So ta ta for now! Gotta run.

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I feel sick and need to do my laundry

On Saturday I made a fallen chocolate souffle cake with kumquat sauce, Mark came over and made the best steak ever, somehow we had energy to go dancing that night, and then on Saturday we made biscuits and eggs for brunch and cuddled on the couch trying to solve the NYT crossword puzzle, and suddenly we looked up and it was 2pm and I felt like I was coming down with a cold.

Now it’s Monday evening and I have that awful feeling of not gotten anything done all weekend and mucus clogging up my throat and a tummy ache from having eaten all the leftover cake. And I need to do my laundry. This is why I have not written a blog post.

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Gratitude

Last weekend I was in Shenandoah with Mark. After a less-than-perfect departure – I maayyyy have damaged Mark’s car while pulling out of the driveway, sorry Mark! – our trip was heavenly. There was poor cellphone reception. We hiked about the mountains, tasted wine, stuffed ourselves with delicious food, got lost in the back roads, read, relaxed, and drove along Skyline Drive at sunset.

When we came home, I saw the news that Santa Rosa, where my grandma calls home, was on fire. (Thankfully I knew that she was out of town.)  The contrast between my idyllic vacation and all the horrible disasters that have happened lately was more apparent than ever. It was hard to go back to work on Tuesday, and all week long I felt like I never quite caught up. Part of me was in Shenandoah on the top of a mountain, part of me was closely following the news in Santa Rosa, and all of me was dazed and confused.

Needless to say, I was in sore need of yet another weekend, and now that Sunday evening is here, somehow I am relaxed. Yesterday I prepared for a visit from a friend from college. This included a deep clean of my apartment and a dreaded visit to Bed Bath and Beyond to pick up sheets for my couch, which folds out into a full sized bed, and the tossing of dead house plants.

I also undertook the effort of finally, FINALLY putting up curtains on my windows. I did not admit to my friend when she arrived that evening that I had been putting this task off since March, nor did I encourage her to look at the bottom of my curtains and discover that I was in too much of a rush to hem them.

Today we hung out, I went to Pilates, read a murder mystery, and slowly pulled together the compents of a fancy lasagna with greens and ricotta.

The theme of the week was gratitude. I suppose I should try and find a more eloquent way of commuting this, but I am too hungry and that lasagna that I just pulled out of the oven looks fantastic. I am grateful that my home is in one piece, I have a job to go to, my loved ones are safe, to know that I am loved, to be just two hours away from mountains, that I only have three rooms to clean and don’t have to deal with pet hair, I have old friends, enjoy cooking, can afford to take exercise classes, and that cold beer is in the fridge.

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Fall

Suddenly the air has gone from sticky to crisp, leaves are falling, and I am craving hot chocolate. It’s fall, the time of year that I’m convinced that it’s nicer to live in DC than most anywhere else. Something about this weather and slanted sunlight make all the brick houses with their roof spires feel even more picturesque than usual.

To top it all off, I have found myself with quite the social calendar in the coming months. It kicked off in a glorious way this weekend. On Friday night, a group of Mark’s and mine’s friends spontaneously went “glamping” – glamorous camping – and rented a yurt in the Shenandoah valley. (You know it’s glamping when someone brings their espresso machine.) We stayed up late drinking wine by the fire pit and eating smores, and somehow managed to wake up early to hike Old Rag Old Rag Mountain.

In the words of the National Park Service, “Old Rag is Shenandoah’s most popular and most dangerous hike…The number of search and rescue missions each year attests to its danger. There’s no doubt that the scramble is great fun and the views are spectacular. A day on Old Rag is one of Shenandoah’s premier experiences.”

It was indeed great fun, and fear not, our troupe needed no emergency rescue, although those rock scrambles were no joke. Contortion was needed in several spots, and I did wimp out and ask my tallest mountain man friend to hold onto me as I jumped from rock to rock a few times since I’m scared of heights. The views were spectacular as promised.

We went for pizza and beer afterward, and at that moment no food or drink could have tasted better. I still feel physically exhausted a day later, and I’m not in bad shape!

The drive and to and from Shenandoah was also lovely. I like to complain about how much more beautiful the West Coast is than the East Coast, but the Blue Ridge Mountains and their surrounding rolling hills are really beautiful. I can’t wait to return.

Oddly enough, I will not have to wait long. Ages ago Mark and I made plans to go to the same area for the upcoming holiday weekend. I was a little worried when we agreed to the group trip that it would feel silly to go back so soon, but we had such a nice time this go-around that neither of us particularly mind heading straight back.

Huzzah, fall!

(Unfortunately I forgot my phone and camera, so pictures of the Shenandoah Valley will have to wait. Instead, all I can offer is a shot from this morning’s farmer’s market.)

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Laundry

Of all life’s mundane tasks that I dislike the most, laundry is at the top of the list. It’s the Sisyphean stone of chores. There are so many tedious steps involved – taking your clothes from the dirty clothes bin to to the wash machine, coming back, putting them in the dryer, returning once more to take them out of the dryer, folding the clean clothes, and finally putting them into your drawers – and, unless you were do this whole process stark naked, you are never ever done with it. There are always more dirty clothes.

Whats more, for such a long, involved process, laundry is so unsatisfying. In part I think this is because laundry and clothes are kept out of sight. It’s not like cleaning a bathroom, which never fails to delight me – a clean bathroom does not look like a dirty bathroom. In contrast, my dresser and laundry bin both look the same at the beginning and end of the laundry chore process.

(Even cleaning out closets or refrigerators, while the contents are also usually hidden from view, is a big step up. I suspect this is because the change is so much longer lasting and can be maintained, whereas laundry, as mentioned, is never done.)

Don’t even get me started on hand washing.

This is likely one of the key reasons why I look back on my time in Buenos Aires so fondly. It’s not even an option at most laundromats to DIY your laundry. Instead, standard procedure is to drop off your dirty clothes and return the next day to find them cleaned, folded, and ironed for you, at a very reasonable price.

Life has never been so good before or since then. Europe was pretty bad – there are few dryers so laundry usually air dries, further elongating the laundry process – but my trepidation towards laundry may have reached its zenith in my current home. While I’ve always struggled with laundry, (just ask my mom, she will confirm,) I now face the additional barrier of four flights of stairs to the laundry room in the basement. Four flights of stairs! This means that in order to complete one load of laundry, I must climb 12 flights of stairs. Woe to me if I do something silly, like forget that my laundry card doesn’t have enough money on it and I must go upstairs again to find cash. Or, also bad, I need to do two loads of laundry, which entails a total climb of 20 flights of stairs.

All this is to say that I did loads of laundry this weekend, and I am clearly not over it yet.