29 March 2007

They Fly Among Us!

Every since my trip to Ireland last year, when we kept running into Rachel Weisz in the airport (at the ticket counter, on the escalator to the restaurants, in security), I've kept a weather eye for celebrities in airports.

On our way home from DC recently, we had to change planes in Dallas (we had exactly 10 minutes to change terminals because the flight was nearly an hour late leaving Baltimore). We rushed onto the plane and I spotted a young woman in first class animatedly chatting with a cute young man.

I thought to myself "I've seen her before". I figured she was a print model or something and I didn't think too much about it.

When we deplaned in LA, I stopped at the Ladies' Room, and there she was again. My companion was waiting for me outside and so was hers. We practically walked with them all the way to the luggage carousel. We lost them briefly. They probably saw their driver because they seemed to have less hand luggage when they caught up with us at baggage claim.

My companion recognized the guy but couldn't think of his name either. This is what happens when you turn 40. Your brain just doesn't fire on all pistons all the time. Of course, they aren't exactly in my circle of experience in the way that Rachel Weisz is (The Mummy, The Constant Gardener - even the movie I'm watching right now - Sunshine).

Today at lunch I was reading Entertainment Weekly and I read her name and BINGO, I knew who it was. Rachel Bilson. According to the fanzines, that makes the guy Adam Brody. He didn't look like any photos I've seen of Adam Brody, but he was wearing a hat and could have cut his hair.

I feel so much better now that I have figured that out. My brain has so many other more important things to worry about.

Oh, and one other thing, our suitcases not only made the connection, but came off before theirs.

So first class isn't all it's cracked up to be!

27 March 2007


Our Last Day. We spent the morning leisurely and bade a fond farewell to our hosts. We left and headed to the airport via Arlington National Cemetery.

It was a beautiful day. We opted for the Tourmobile tour which stops at the three most popular sites: The Kennedy Gravesite, The Tomb of The Unknowns, and Arlington House. Along the way, a tour guide points out other sites. It's quite a hilly location so I recommend this tour for anyone who has any mobility issues. It's also nice for those of us who are just plain wore out!

Our first stop was the Kennedy Gravesite. This is a beautiful setting. The trees were in bloom. The visitors were respectful - mostly - and the view is breathtaking.

The next stop was the Tomb Of The Unknowns. We were in time for the Changing Of The Guard. Nearby are the memorials for the Challenger & Columbia astronauts so we visited those as well.

Our last stop was Arlington House. Arlington House was the home of Robert E. Lee and the Union government confiscated it for burial of Union Civil War dead during the Civil War. We decided that we would walk back to the front from here. We didn't wait in the line for the house since all of the furnishings have been removed and there are only photos of what the rooms used to look like.

On the way back to the front, we passed the graves of Robert Todd Lincoln, William Howard Taft, and General Omar Bradley.

We stopped at the Women's Memorial and saw the art installation "Faces Of The Fallen" which has portraits of all the servicemen killed in Iraq for the first two years of the war.

We tried to visit the Iwo Jima Memorial but couldn't find the right turn and kept passing it so we decided that we had indeed SEEN it and headed off to Baltimore to fly home.

25 March 2007

Mount Vernon

Our next to last day in DC. We slept in and by the time we were ready to leave it was 11am. We headed to Mount Vernon.

It was closer than we thought, only 20 minutes. It was also the first time we paid admission to see a site here (except for the advance fee at the Washington Monument).

It was cool, literally, overcast and one of the colder days of the trip. There was a 45 minute wait to get in to the house. Unlike Williamsburg, the docents were not in period dress and spoke just like us.

The whole visit took three hours, including SHOPPING! It was by far the best shopping opportunity of the trip and I couldn't make up my mind which souvenir I wanted for myself. I finally settled on the Annual Christmas Ornament which commemorates the 275th anniversary of the birth of George Washington. I always knew I liked George, but I have a special fondness for Martha now that I know we have the same taste in dishes (blue & white all the way!).

On the way home, we passed the most enormous Krispy Kreme store I had ever seen. My companion on this adventure had been craving doughnuts since the drive home from the first Pete Yorn show so we pulled in and bought doughnuts for our hosts. Neither of us is a huge fan of Krispy Kremes, but we figured the boys would like them. The featured doughnut was 100% Whole Wheat. I could almost justify that on my High-Fiber diet so I tried one. Very delicious.

We were trying to decide where to eat lunch (at 3pm) when our host called to see if we wanted to have dinner together late this evening. We said yes, of course, and that did help us decide where & what to eat for lunch.

We have been thinking about Arlington after lunch, but by the time we were finished it was 4pm and too late to really see anything once we got through traffic.

So we went back to the house to relax for a while. This is supposed to be a vacation, right?

So now the plan is to see Arlington on our way to Baltimore tomorrow to fly home. If we have time, we will also try to visit the National Archives.

I definitely plan to return to DC some day.

24 March 2007

Monuments & Memorials

Today we slept in. Finally! Our third day in DC. Today we have decided to go to the National Mall and see the Memorials. Depending on how long that takes, we may go to Arlington Cemetery. But we have to be in Alexandria for dinner by 5:45pm so we may have to put off Arlington until tomorrow. The DC Marathon is tomorrow so we definitely don't want to come in to the city again until Sunday. This may mean that we don't get back to anything that we have missed. Guess I'll just have to come back some day.

We decided to park near the Washington Monument. Jokingly, we thought perhaps we could park in the same spot we had the other day. I kid you not - we did! We were in exactly the same parking spot. What are the odds of that?!?

We walked over to the WWII Memorial. It's very nice albeit controversial because it destroys the reflection of the Washington Monument in the Reflecting Pool. There were a few wreaths here and there.

Then we walked through Constitution Gardens. Some cherry trees were in bloom by the Signer's Memorial.

Next stop was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This was the one memorial that I did not want to miss. I wore an MIA bracelet for most of my childhood. A young man from my hometown had been shot down on my 3rd birthday. I wore the bracelet until his parents had him declared legally dead which was junior high or high school.

After Vietnam opened up to the West, his sister went to Vietnam and she was able to discover that he had, in fact, died not long after the crash.

We started at the wrong end and didn't have a list to look up his name, but I noticed papers that had the dates and locations. Since I know the exact date (how can I forget it), we were able to locate the panels for the month and it was just a matter of time before we found the name (see photo) James K Patterson. I have to admit I felt a little weepy. We left the memorial and were able to locate his name in the list on the other side. After a moment to compose myself, we set off for the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

I think this is a pretty cool Memorial. There are life-size sculptures of soldiers walking as though they were on patrol in Korea.

Then we went up to the Lincoln Memorial. After some time there, we walked along the Reflecting Pool back to the car. We still had an hour left on our time!

We headed over to the Jefferson Memorial and also saw the George Mason Memorial before heading home.

We didn't have enough time to go to Arlington before we had to get home for dinner so we decided to do it another day (we have two left).

At dinner, our hosts assure us we can do Arlington and Mount Vernon in one day. We decide to go to Mount Vernon first tomorrow as it is the furthest and we could always do Arlington on our way to the airport on Sunday.

I realize that I'm not going to see everything I had hoped to squeeze in on this trip, but I have seen and done quite a lot. I'm really glad I came on this trip.

The Halls Of Government

Our second day in DC. We have to be at Congressman Schiff's office at 10am. Our host says we MUST leave at 8 to get a parking spot and allow for traffic.

With only 4 hours sleep, it was really hard to get out the door and we left about 8:45. oops. We get off the freeway at the Capitol at 9:30. After much stress looking for street parking, and getting turned around by one way streets, we park at Union Station. It is now 9:55. I called the Congressman's office and let them know we were running late. A very friendly member of DC's finest gave us further pedestrian-friendly directions because you can't walk from the Senate side to the House side straight across the front any more.

A very nice intern in Rep. Schiff's office gave us a private tour of the Capitol. At the end we went to see the House in session and they were voting when we arrived. We saw our Representative vote. We looked at the time and it was noon. We had a White House tour at 1 and you have to arrive 15 minutes early so we had to go. I didn't even have time to go to the gift shop!

We hot foot it back to Union Station. Dividing to conquer, one goes to the car to leave the purses (you can't take anything into the White House except keys, money and id) and the other goes to get Cokes because we haven't had anything to eat yet today and we really need the caffeine to keep going.

Then we hop on the Metro and we arrive at 12:50, only 5 minutes late! The friendly Ranger said we could go on in. Rep. Schiff's aide had told us that he didn't think we would enjoy the tour of the White House as much as the Capitol. Another friend had said it's not as great as it used to be. They were both right. We finished in 15 minutes. But I had never been before and now I have so I am glad that we went. If I am ever in DC at Christmas time, I might go back and see all the Christmas trees.

We took the Metro back to Union Station and had a nice lunch at America. The menu had something from every state. My only complaint was that their "Hollywood, CA" cobb salad was NOT really a Brown Derby style cobb. The food was delicious and the service was fabulous.

A bit of shopping and then we were off to Baltimore. We had tickets for the Pete Yorn show at the Sonar club. We had encountered quite a bit of traffic going to get our luggage and we thought it was better to drive to Baltimore early. We had a recommendation for a restaurant and it was quite close to the club. We arrived, parked and walked over to the restaurant.

The sign on the door of the restaurant said "Closed For The Summer". Either they are REALLY late or REALLY early, but they are definitely closed. So we went to the deli nearby and ate outside on the plaza.

We headed back to Sonar for the show. Tonight was even better than last night. We have had six or seven hours sleep in the last three days, but we managed to last through the whole show. I hadn't seen the whole Moses Mayfield set the night before, but I did tonight. I really liked them! I obviously am already a huge fan of Minibar and Pete Yorn or I wouldn't be at their show in BALTIMORE!

When we arrive home, we leave a note for our host on the counter: "Don't wake us up in the morning!"

All of our scheduled itinerary items are finished. We are now at leisure. We can sleep.

23 March 2007

I'm 550 Feet Tall On A Good Day

My first trip to our nation's capital. I'm very excited. We land at Reagan airport and our adventure begins.

We go to pick up the rental car and they are out. We have a choice of two and while the guy is pointing them out to us, someone takes one! We had reserved a compact and got a full-size. As we are driving away, we chuckle and think our friend the Pilot would be proud of the upgrade we finagled!

Off to the Washington Monument on three hours sleep. We are on Constitution Avenue and see a parking spot. One slightly legal U-turn later, we are parked! We have three hours. We walk up to the monument and ask a Park Ranger if we can get in earlier. He says no. (Very firm about that!)

We haven't eaten since Dallas so we head toward the Old Post Office Building for lunch - it's a food court & shopping center now. They also have a tour where you can go up the tower and see the bells and view the city from above.

If you go to DC, I highly recommend the Tower Tour. One of the ladies on our elevator asked the Ranger if the elevator would drop suddenly. Gotta love Disney fans!

We walked back to the Washington Monument and arrived about 30 minutes before our tour time. This time the Ranger (same one) said "Come on in!"

We went up to the viewing level at 500 feet and we had to take the elevator back down. The Park Service is understaffed and not able to have visitors walk down the stairs. They do slow the elevator down and illuminate the shaft so you can see the commemorative stones. But someday I will have to go back and walk down (I'm going to ask first).

Back to the car we went. I think we were the only car on the block that didn't have a parking ticket. Obviously people don't read the posted signs. We still had time on our three hours, but now we were off to Baltimore to pick up our luggage (see previous post for the explanation).

90 minutes later, we are back in DC and the cell phone rings. Our host wants to know what we want for dinner. About 45 minutes later, we are approaching our exit in Virginia when we hear someone honking and we turn and it's him! So we had an escort to the house, which was lucky because there's a certain jog in the road that we would definitely have missed.

We hate to eat and run, but we have tickets to a show at the 9:30 club that evening. The guidebook had warned that this neighbourhood was a bit rough but we knew there was a parking lot nearby. We only got lost once, in a traffic circle, but we just went around again and made sure we were in the correct lane. Who laid out this city anyway? I am used to midwestern and western cities that are virtually grids with some diagonals, perhaps a few jogs for farms or whatever. DC is crazy!

I loved the 9:30 club. I have heard broadcasts from there on NPR. I love that you can go in and out. The staff were friendly, the patrons weren't too rowdy. I met some very nice people, and had an excellent time. It goes without saying that the musical entertainment was BRILLIANT. Minibar, Moses Mayfield, and Pete Yorn. A show so nice, we are seeing it twice (tomorrow night in Baltimore). I finally got my Desert After Rain CD signed. Silly me forgot to take it to the last show I went to.

We got a bit lost again on the way home. One way streets that don't go all the way through are nearly as bad as traffic circles. We ended up near the Old Post Office and were able to get our bearings at last.

I'm very grateful to be staying so close. All I can think about is sleep, but we have to get up tomorrow morning. We have an appointment with our Congressman's office at 10am.

Sleep is for the weak!

22 March 2007

I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane?

I am writing on a flight from Dallas to Reagan Airport. This might sound like a perfectly normal way to start a vacation in DC, but I was actually booked into Baltimore. When we landed in Dallas, the helpful flight attendant read a laundry list of connecting flights, but not Baltimore. So we checked with the gate agent.

(Aside here - In my experience, gate agents at DFW are THE BEST. They love to help you find ways to get out of their airport. And it ain't that way anywhere else in Texas so there must be some special pixie dust in Dallas!)

The gate agent informed us that the flight to Baltimore had been cancelled (did they not know this when I checked in at LAX?) The airline had already re-booked us on the next flight, but it would have been impossible to get to the Washington Monument for our tour time. She said we could fly in to Reagan and arrive at the same time as our original flight. If we wanted to do that, we could just go to the gate and ask to switch.

The rental car company was happy to move our reservation. It was even cheaper! So we asked another very helpful gate agent to rebook us to Reagan.

Of course, our luggage is going to Baltimore so we will have to get it later. But at least we can eat lunch and see the Washington Monument before we need to do that.

More exciting trip news to follow. Well, at least I hope it's exciting...

21 March 2007

Don't Know Much About...

There's a great series of books called "Don't Know Much About..." I've just finished "...Geography". I actually DO know much about most of the books' topics, but I really enjoyed "...Geography". Questions are posed and answered and it's kind of fun to learn the whys and wherefores behind things like Time Zones.

There are versions of these books for adults & kids.

It was more fun than going back to school and the format made it easy to stop and start.

20 March 2007

They Walk Among Us!

My friend, the Writer/Fighter, sends me a lot of jokes. If not for her, I probably wouldn't have heard of half the Internet/Urban lore that I know about.

Today she "sent along" the following and I actually laughed out loud.

Rather than forward any of these on, however, I decided to post them in my blog thereby saving the inboxes of my friends for more serious emails from Viagra retailers. ;-)

I copied & pasted so am not responsible for the content!

I walked into a Quizno's with a buy-one-get-one-free coupon
for a sandwich. I handed it to the girl and she looked over at a
little chalkboard that said "buy one-get one free".

"They're already buy-one-get-one-free", she said, "so I guess
they're both free".

She handed me my free sandwiches and I walked out the door.

They walk among us, and many work retail.


One day I was walking down the beach with some friends when
one of them shouted, "Look at that dead bird!"

Someone looked up at the sky and said, "Where?"

And they walk among us!


While looking at a house, my brother asked the real estate agent
which direction was north because, he explained, he didn't want the
sun waking him up every morning. She asked, "Does the sun rise in the

When my brother explained that the sun rises in the east, and has for sometime,
she shook her head and said, "Oh, I don't keep up with that stuff."

They walk among us!!


I used to work in technical support for a 24/7 call center.
One day I got a call from an individual who asked what hours the call
center was open. I told him, "The number you dialed is open 24 hours a day,
7 days a week."

He responded, "Is that Eastern or Pacific time?"

Wanting to end the call quickly, I said, "Uh, Pacific."

They walk among us!


My sister-in-law has a life-saving tool in her car designed to cut through a
seat belt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in the trunk.

They walk among us!


My friends and I were on a beer run and noticed that the
cases were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we bought 2 cases.

The cashier multiplied 2 times 10% and gave us a 20% discount.

They walk among us!


I couldn't find my luggage at the airport baggage area, so I
went to the lost luggage office and told the woman there that my
bags never showed up. She smiled and told me not to worry because she
was a trained professional and I was in good hands.

"Now," she asked me, "has your plane arrived yet?"

Yes, they walk among us!


While waiting for my order at a pizza parlor, I observed a man ordering a
small pizza to go. He appeared to be alone and the cook asked him
if he would like it cut into 4 pieces or 6. He thought about it for some
time before responding.

"Just cut it into 4 pieces; I don't think I'm hungry enough to eat 6 pieces."

Yep, they walk among us!


And. they reproduce!

19 March 2007

Ultimate Fan vs. Semi Pro

Since I am currently unemployed, I have time to enter contests, and do things during the workday that I might not otherwise have the chance to do. So, when a friend told me that they were looking for extras for the new Will Ferrell movie "Semi Pro", I signed up. I wasn't going to get paid, but I thought it might be a fun thing to do of a morning.

A week or so later, I heard about a contest for Ulimate Pirates Fans so I entered that. I won two tickets to see the World Premiere of the Pirates 3 trailer along with a screening of the original Pirates movie and other surprises.

These events were, as luck would have it, scheduled practically back-to-back.

So I rounded up a gal pal and we headed down to Hollyweird to the Ultimate Fan Event. There were plenty of pirates there, matey. It took FOREVER to get into the theatre and get the event going. Once it started, there was plenty of fun, raffles and even three actors from the film: the monkey who plays Jack, the dog from the prison (who was SOOO cute - wagging his little tail and looking at all the people), and - oh yeah - ORLANDO BLOOM! ;-)

By the time we were finished, and went to dinner and drove home, it was nearly eleven. I thought to myself, am I really going to get up at 5 to make my call time tomorrow? hmmm.

I set the alarm clock. And I did get up when it went off, but that was only to turn it off and go back to bed.

So I suppose that Ultimate Fan trumps Semi Pro. But I still had fun and got to do something I wouldn't have been able to do a few months ago. I can live with that!

BTW - Pirates 3 - At World's End - looks really great. I can't wait to see it!

17 March 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

I went to one of my favourite Irish Pubs to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with the Celtic Lasses who are on a road trip for the High Hooley day throughout our lovely state. Unfortunately, we were not the only people who decided to celebrate at the same time and place! For the first time in my life, there was a line to get in to this particular establishment!

So, instead of seeing an Irish band while we ate brunch, we went to the mainstay of road trip cuisine, Denny's, and had plain old breakfast.

Then the two of us who were more local went shopping and the rest of the lasses continued on their hooley way.

And so I am celebrating instead in the comfort of my own home. A round of Jameson for the house!

And if you ever find yourself in want of good pint in the San Fernando Valley, and perhaps some good Irish music to wash it down, I still recommend Ireland's 32, but please, don't go on St. Patirck's Day!

12 March 2007

Two A Tea

On Saturday, the Tea Ladies ventured to a new tea shop in Glendora called Two A Tea.

This was a very nice place and we will definitely go back. The scones were just the right texture and sweetness. Condiments and hot water were swiftly and graciously replenished. The sandwich selection was excellent. The soup and salad were tasty. The fruit salad was fresh and the desserts were scrumptious.

We especially liked the cranberry scone, the Forrest Berries tea, the tomato bisque florentine soup, the turkey cranberry sandwich and the apple cranberry cobbler. I think cranberry was our theme for the day. One of the tea ladies is allergic to raspberry and she was pleased that raspberries were only present in one of the desserts so she was able to enjoy everything.

Not eating chicken, I avoided the chicken apricot sandwich but the other ladies said it was too sweet for their taste.

We especially liked our table - the Chelsea Chintz table - as it was in the window and really felt like we were in a semi-private room. The ladies at the adjoining table were quite friendly and we enjoyed comparing notes on tea shops in the area. They had a favourite place in Alta Loma but as that is too far for us, I didn't may much attention to the name.

The front of the shop is an antique store. Some of the things were cute, but they did have a few scary dolls.

Overall, it was an excellent day!

10 March 2007

White House Tour!

I was very excited to get a phone call from my Congressman's office yesterday. They were able to get me tickets to a White House Tour. It's my first visit to DC so I'm thrilled.

I've ordered tickets for the Washington Monument as well. The only day available was the first day of our trip so we have to go there straight from the airport. It's a great way to dive right in to vacation!

I will have to put tea at the National Cathedral off for another trip as they only do that on certain days and it was that or the Washington Monument.

I'm excited to see the show at the 9:30 Club after hearing so many broadcasts from there on NPR.

I made a list of other places to see. I have way more than I can fit into our long weekend. Some things will have to stay on the list along with tea at the Cathedral. At least, it will be an excuse to go back!