Monday, July 30, 2007

Grandma's Little Visitor

Jenn will have some new adventures to relate to Daddy when he gets home from work this afternoon. Baby Jack made his first visit to Grandma's house in Haymarket. He had both his early lunch and his late lunch at Grandma's house. Jenn told us that every day he has an early breakfast and a late breakfast and an early lunch and a late lunch and an early dinner and a late dinner and then several midnight snacks. Wow! No wonder that little boy is growing. We noticed that he can now hold his head up by himself for a second or two. Grandpa Jack put together the baby swing so that Baby Jack could snooze while swinging and listening to music. Jenn took her son to the backyard for some pictures in the swing and by the blooming crepe mrytles. The visit was enjoyed by all and Jenn may bring Baby Jack back this Wednesday for more time with Grandma Jo and Grandpa Jack. In the meantime Baby Jack has discovered with Jenn the Starbucks in Franklin Farm. So far he has been a good boy while Momma orders her lattes. On the home front there is also some good news. One cat--namely Mr. Merlin is starting to notice Jack and will now sit by him. Merlin has even given Jack a friendly lick on the head. Meow!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Robert Duvall and Protest Picnic

We went to a protest picnic at the farm estate of Robert Duvall, the movie actor, who makes his home in Virginia down the road a bit from us. There is an energy company that is trying to erect 15 story high power poles and power lines in our little neck of Virginia which is one of the most historic areas of the United States. The aim of this company is to bring cheap coal produced electricity from Ohio and Pennsylvania thru both Virginias (West Virginia and Virginia) and move it north to New Jersey and New York to make Big Bucks. As Robert Duvall said yesterday one would not erect 15 story power lines across the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park so why should this company be allowed to erect power lines across land that George Washington surveyed, where John Brown protested and both Union and Confederate soldiers fought to keep. It is also the home area of John Marshall who created the Marshall Plan after World War II. And in more recent times the hunt club riding estate of John and Jackie Kennedy. Jack and I do not want the power lines coming thru this area so Sunday was a great day to protest and have a wonderful picnic on the farm of Robert Duvall. There was entertainment too: a bluegrass band, a French horn ensemble, a folk singer and a puppeteer. There were other attractions as well: a silent auction, a karate demo and a team of draft horses with a beautiful carriage for rides thru the fields. And of course we got to see Robert Duvall and his wife and their beautiful 200+ acre farm. Robert Duvall told us that his wife who is originally from Argentina thinks that Virginia is the best place on earth or as his wife puts it: the last station before Heaven! I tend to agree with that statement. Virginia is awesome.

And the thought of 15 story power lines here is awfulsome.

By the way, the name of this power company is Dominion Power.

Take a look at the pics of Robert Duvall's farm. Note the beautiful barn and silo in one of the photos. This barn and silo is where Robert and his wife practice the tango and throw tango dance parties.

Ring A Ding Ding

I have a ring a ding ding story to tell you. July 7'th Jack and I drove by car to D.C. early in the morning to get in a long, long line to see Al Gore open up the D.C. portion of the Earth Live Concert at the National Museum of the American Indian. We were able to get into the museum's courtyard to hear Al Gore speak and to hear country singers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood perform. While waiting in line for Al to speak the lady behind me said to me: "Why I think you are wearing a Robert Lee Morris ring!" And I replied: "What???" Uhhh......did I mention on this blogsite that on our roadtrip we met a woman at a motel in Detroit, MI who asked us for $12 in exchange for the ring on her finger. Well, to make a long story shorter let me say that I agreed and now am wearing this supposedly sterling silver ring. It has style and hasn't turned my finger green yet. Plus it is a sturdy ring to wear when gardening in the summer. Well, anyway this lady behind me was going on like I was wearing the Hope diamond. So when we got home from the Earth Live Event and the 2007 Folklife Festival I did a search for Robert Lee Morris on the web and lo and behold I learned that he is a famous jewelry maker in NYC who works with dress designers like Donna Karan and Karl Lagerfield. He has a store in SoHo in NYC and my neighbor has now told me that he also sells his jewelry on QVC. My ring is a concave rectangle and I know that it is a Robert Lee Morris ring because this lady at Earth Live insisted that I take off the ring so she could check the Robert Lee Morris logo and the sterling mark on the inside. I think my ring must be somewhere in the $200+ range. Go to this website to learn more about Robert Lee Morris and to see more of his jewelry:

Jack Aidan

Jack Aidan celebrates a birthday today. He will be one week old this afternoon at 1:20 P.M. EST. Jenn and Terry brought Jack Aidan home from the hospital Wednesday morning. Jenn and Terry were anxious to introduce Mr. Merlin Cat and Mr. Milo Cat to Baby Jack. Mr. Merlin took one quick look and decided that that little thing in the car carrier was extremely scary looking so he hightailed it out of the kitchen and down to the family room. Mr. Milo then approached the carrier to find out what had frightened Mr. Merlin witless. (See photo) Milo walked right up to the carrier and took a look and then as the alpha cat of the household he let out two loud hisses and turned tail and walked away disgusted. Poor Baby Jack. What a welcome home. Luckily he was fast asleep so it shouldn't be a too traumatic experience.

After reaching home Baby Jack's next big adventure was Friday when he was going to the pediatricians' office in Reston for the first time. Grandpa drove, Jennifer sat in back with Jack and Grandma rode shotgun to and from the Pd's office. Jack slept thru most of the event. He only squawked when he got poked in the ribs and when blood was drawn. He was a very good boy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sleepy Little Baby

We visited Jenn, Terry and little Baby Jack in the hospital this afternoon.
We learned that the midnight staff insisted that Jenn nurse her baby boy even though he was sleeping soundly. So Jenn and Terry played wake him up and shake him up early in the morning. Baby Jack didn't budge or open an eye. Then Jenn decided to take off his swaddling blanket and little outfit in hopes of getting him to wake up to nurse. Well, that didn't work either. Baby Jack was sawing logs. So Jenn and Terry finally gave up and told the nurse that it ain't going to happen at 2:00 A.M. My comment after hearing this story was this: Haven't you heard the proverb about letting sleeping dogs and newborn babies lie?

The baby books say that newborn babies sleep an average of 17 hours a day. Baby Jack must be like the average baby because he slept thru our entire visit, a diaper change and the drawing of a vial of blood! But I swear that this newborn was having dreams. The expressions on his face were priceless. Of course, he could have been having nightmares too because this morning he was circumcised. Poor baby! Baby Jack, tomorrow will be better because I think you get to go home to that beautiful living seas nursery that's waiting just for you.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Let Me Introduce Baby Jack


We now have our first grandchild. He arrived on Monday July 16'th at 1:20 P.M. at the Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church. The same place Baby Jack's Aunt Jeanine entered the world. Jennifer entered the hospital Sunday night to begin inducement and labor. It was hard work but Jenn did great and of course Terry did alright too. Terry called us at 10:30 A.M. to give us an update and we decided to drive over because Jenn was making good progress with her labor. She only slowed down when it came time to push at noon. Apparently Baby Jack was not ready for his eviction (birth) because he kept trying to swim back upstream like a salmon. (I didn't know babies sometimes did that.) Jack and I returned to the ground floor hospital waiting room and tried to stay relaxed and calm. At 1:50 P.M. Terry called Jack on his cell phone and announced that we could come up to meet our grandson.

When we arrived Jenn was sitting up in bed nursing her son who was just 45 minutes old. Everyone is doing great although I think everybody including little Jack could use an afternoon nap. Baby Jack is so little and precious and cute. He has the sweetest little face and lots of dark curly hair. When he wasn't learning to nurse he was making these precious little whimpers. He sounded like a little kitten. Maybe he had been listening to Mr. Milo Cat and Mr. Merlin Cat in the womb and thought that was the way to talk. Anyway he was mewing like a little kitten. I think he has already bonded with his Momma and Daddy because when I held him he soon wanted to return to the safety of his parents. When we had checked on all his fingers and toes and had ascertained that Mom and Dad were up for the job we took our leave to return to Haymarket. Grandpa Jack is so tired that I don't know if we will get some pics posted on this blog. I think an afternoon nap is in order for Grandpa. Will write more soon.

Friday, July 6, 2007

2007 Folklife Festival and Live Earth

This is going to be a great weekend for both folklife and entertainment. The annual D.C. Folklife Festival has been going on since before July 4'th. Jack and I went by car and then Metro to the festival last Friday-June 29'th. We arrived on the mall via the Smithsonian Station Metro Stop at 11:15 A.M. and we found enough to keep us busy until 7:30 P.M. This is one of the better folklife festivals. Two years ago the festival focused on food prep around the world and we got to watch Emirl Legasse kick it up a notch or two. But the festival that year was a little confusing. This year there are three distinct places to explore:
Northern Ireland
The Mekong Delta
Root of Virginia Culture

When we arrived at the festival last Friday we made a beeline to the Mekong Delta which represents four countries that border the Mekong River. Anyone who lived during the Vietnam War era must remember hearing repeatly on the evening news reports of so many Americans killed today along the Mekong Delta. We quickly learned that the Mekong not only runs through Vietnam but the Yunnan Province of China plus Laos and Cambodia. The first thing we watched were the Cambonese dancers and singers who sang and danced a wedding celebration. The great thing about this festival is that all the acts are straight from the country and culture they represent so these attractive young dancers and actors were from Cambodia and looked like the men and women were putting a little extra spice in this wedding dance. After watching this and checking out the Mekong culture tent where we saw Thai silk weaving and Asian wood carving we headed to the Mekong food tent where we decided on what we wanted to eat. I decided to sample the ground chicken salad from Laos with a Thai beer to share with Jack. Jack opted for the Vegan Pad Thai. The Laos salad was tasty but very very hot. (Hotter than any Mexican food I have tried!) The Pad Thai was excellent! The yellow noodles and fried tofu in the dish were so delicious!For dessert we shared a portion of fresh sliced mango with sticky rice. Very very good.
After lunch we headed to the Northern Ireland Pavilion to watch and hear Irish music and dance. Our favorite Irish group was Four Men and A Dog.
I thought the group should have been called Four Men and A Little Girl. There was a girl about eight years old who knew how to do the Irish dances
like in River Dance. She would come out and dance to the music and the men would acknowledge her presence. After this more and more people came out to try to do an Irish jig either solo or with a partner. And I never did see the dog? After this we checked out the Northern Ireland culture tents where we saw how the world famous Guinness beer is made from roasted barley and water. We also saw Irish cathderal stone carver demonstrations.
After this we headed to our own state of Virginia Pavilion and watched the Virginia Native Tribes do native dances. One of the girls wore a jingle dress that had hundreds of metal jingles sewn to the dress. This dancer told us that her dress weighed about seven pounds! Seems to me it would be hard to walk let alone dance in a dress that heavy.
Soon it was time for dinner and more Irish music so we headed to the Irish food tent and had Shepherd's Pie with a glass of Guinness before heading back to the Irish Pavilion to hear the drummers that accompany the Irish bagpipers. Finally we headed back to Haymarket at 7:30 via Metro and car.
It was so much fun. We are hoping to head back to the festival tomorrow for more good food and shows. All the shows are free so you only need money for transportaion and food. Also, this Saturday the National Museum of the American Indian is having an all day Indian Summer Showcase to coincide with the the Live Earth Concerts that will be happening all across the globe. You can look up Live Earth on the web and find out who is performing on each continent for this worldwide event. Should be a great weekend for food, fun and entertainment even though it will be very hot outside.

Our Summer Motto: Work Hard and Play Harder

The July 4'th Holiday is the midpoint of most people's summertime. Well, Jack and I also subscribe to this thinking so this means just one thing: we got to start working harder at playing harder this summer.
We have had quite a few parties which I will discuss later in more detail but it seems that we have been in catchup mode since we got home from our road trip. Catchup on the house, the garden, the travel photo albums (We've filled six with some of the 1200 pics we took on our trip.) the extended family, the neighbors and the ironing! The ironing---I finally got around to that yesterday and after about five hours I reached the bottom of the stack. I stopped counting the number of long sleeved shirts I ironed up for Jack when I hit number 30! My daughters can't believe that I still iron clothes. Actually I enjoy ironing. It's great to see a crumpled up piece of fabric turn into this spiffy well pressed cloth. I think ironing is becoming a lost art. Otherwise, why would Martha Stewart have to give a TV lesson on how to iron a shirt?
The Bambi encounter and the flying ant home invasion also kept us hopping for awhile. I am happy to report that I have found several deer remedies in a book I bought at Merrifield Garden Center last week: Deer Proofing Your Yard & Garden written by Thonda Hart. We learned from the salesperson that animals are smart so you have to frequently vary what you are using for a deterrent. With that advice in mind we bought the book and a $50 container of liquid deer deterrent at Merrifield. $50! I know. Apparently deer proofing your yard costs big bucks. No pun intended.We also stopped at Blooms Grocery and bought several cakes of Irish Spring soap. We sprayed the $50 stuff on all our beds. It smelled like someone had just thrown up in the yard. Whee! If I were a deer, I would skip that yard too. Well, guess what? The deer stayed away after the spraying. Even our cute little brown bunnies skipped munching in our lawn for a few days. And I stayed away from the swing for a few days too. The stench was too great for my nose. But I haven't seen any traces of deer plant attacks. Yeah!!
To be on the safe side I'm going to the skewer the cakes of Irish Spring and stick them in the ground too. We have learned of several homemade remedies:

human hair (doesn't work)
human male urine (does work if you can find willing male)
rotten eggs in water (does work but hold your nose)
Another application of Liquid Sevin along the perimeter of the house has solved the flying ant problem.
So now that we have caught up on our chores and have solved our house and garden invasions we are in the mood to party once more. We have had three Loop wine tastings. These are always impromptu events when the weather cooperates and people are available on the loop. Dickie and Scott hosted back-to-back wine tastings the first two nights that we were back from our trip. (I think the neighbors were anxious to hear about our adventures on our trip and I think Jack and I were anxious to hear what the neighbors had been doing in April and May. Jack and I hosted a wine tasting last Saturday night for Dickie and Scott to discuss the D.C. Folklife Festival.
I had the opportunity to attend two important parties in June. June 10 my second daughter, Jeanine, and her apartment roomie, Maria, hosted a Baby Shower for my older daughter Jennifer who is expecting our grandson on July 7'th. I contributed some food and flowers for the event but Jeanine and Maria did all the party prep work: decorations, food, drinks and games. Yes, we had to play a game or two. Like do you know the current price of a box of pampers? I managed to overprice everything on that game list. That must mean I have a bad memory which I know I don't (because my older sister says I have a great memory) or else the cost of having a baby has decreased since the '70s in Arizona. Did we have Walmart in AZ in the '70s? Maybe that's it. The most fun at this baby shower was watching Jenn open each gift and getting to decorate bibs with funny sayings. Here are some of the sayings:
I Love My Aunt Jeanine
Feed Me!!!
Got Milk?
I Love My Daddy!
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
Baby On The 4'th of July 2007
Party: My Crib 3:00 A.M.

Friday June 15 I had the opportunity to attend the retirement party at Waterford of Springfield for Dr. Jackson, my last principal, who is leaving Franconia Elementary this summer. I learned that the Franconia School Library will be renamed the Dr. Jackson Library and since my days at Franconia were spent managing the school library this news makes me very happy. Besides having a chance to say thank you and good by to Dr. Jackson it was a great party for meeting lots of current and former Franconia school folks. Check out my pics of myself with some old school friends: Eleanore Callaway, Lorraine Mitchell, Peggy Bedwell, Martha McCash, Lydia Hunter and Florence Stewart. Didn't manage to get a pic of Dr. Jackson or Susan Lloyd or Sue McNamee but enjoyed talking with them.

With all these parties in June it was difficult to find a weekend to have a family barbecue in honor of past events that we needed to celebrate but we did make time on June 23'rd to celebrate the following missed celebrations:

Mother's Day
Father's Day
Memorial Day
Joann's Birthday
Jennifer's Birthday
We had lots of barbecue and side dishes, lots of presents to open and lots of laughs when daughter Jeanine gave me my most unusual birthday present:
The Official Duck Fart Kit. Please check out the photo of the Duck Fart Kit. It even includes a little green duck that looks embarrassed because he just passed gas. The Duck Fart Kit was given to me because I had a Duck Fart Drink at the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, Alaska on our Alaskan Cruise.
Would you like to know what is in a Duck Fart?
The Duck Fart
Carefully layer each of the following liquors in the order listed from top
to bottom into a shot glass then sip gently and decorously:
3/4 oz Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey
3/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
3/4 oz Kahlua Coffee Liqueur