Shrimp fries!

Actually I only ate one shrimp fry (or shrimp chip as the company that makes them seems to want to call them - they look like fries) but was thrilled that they were on the table. Austin, William, Lyla Tracy and I headed to Arlington to have dinner with Ellen and Sam. Ellen and Austin did all the cooking and Sam played bartender.

Ellen and Sam's friend Arthur joined us as well. And it was during dinner when Lyla and I were explaining to Sam about how our mother was Latvian and our father was Irish that Arthur stood up and quietly walked around the table to where Lyla and I were sitting, stood between us and asked if we said Latvian. After we turned, gave him a puzzled look and said "yes" he kissed us both on the cheek and said "Sveiks". As you can imagine we were amazed that someone knew the official Latvian greeting. It turns out Arthur used to date a Latvian girl. Alas it did not work out but he gained a clear understanding of what is important to Latvians. It also turns out that Sam and Arthur know another Latvian that swims at their pool.

After dinner we stood around and re-arranged T-shirts on the floor to help Tracy plan his Grateful Dead quilt that Austin is making. We also watched Apolo Ohno win a another medal. Ellen and Sam have a big rottweiler named Pepper who was very friendly and joined in the fun while we were there but started growling when we left. This was quite odd. I can only think that as a rescued dog he has abandonment issues, even with relative strangers.

But it was another wonderful event with Sam and Ellen.

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Shrimp fries!

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Ellen knitting and William taking a photo for his contacts list

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Sam serving a nice bottle of wine. Lyla and Tracy with tulips.

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Austin's veggie dish. Lyla points her chopsticks at Arthur.

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Planning Tracy's Grateful Dead T-Shirt quilt. Pepper the friendly rottweiler with a pal

Ellen's frog collection.

Full Kee

Recently Lyla, Tracy, Austin, William and I met up with old friend Ellen Law and her husband Sam at a Chinese restaurant of Ellen's choosing called Full Kee. We had all been to the DC location of Full Kee but this was special because Ellen is a regular customer and can order "off menu". There is a movie called The Corruptor about a chinophile NYC cop (played by American action star/underwear model Mark Wahlberg) who is sent in to help Chinese cop (played by Hong Kong action star Chow Yun Fat ) deal with a dangerous Asian gang in Chinatown. Here's some dialog from the movie:

Nick Chen: Beef intestine noodles, want some?
Danny Wallace: Uh, no.
Nick Chen: You wanna be a Chinese, you gotta eat the nasty stuff.

Well, Ellen did not order the nasty stuff for us but we were thrilled to know she could have. What she ordered was delicious. The only odd thing was the dessert - a sweet thick concoction made with pea green soup and tapioca.

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Summer's over..What will the future bring?

The pool is closed until next May and I am sad. It was a great swimming summer - lots of heat and little rain.


Summer swimming is over but it is still ice cream weather. We finally took out the ice cream maker and made up for our late start by making three batches - almond, cinnamon and grapefruit ice. All wonderful and they tasted great together.

I'll have to find an alternative to swimming laps (especially if we are going to make more ice cream). I did try a Zumba class this past week with my friend Brooke. Zumba seems to be a mixture of several styles of dance - samba, salsa, hip-hop, bollywood. It was quite fun and aerobic. It may just work.

This past Thursday Brooke and another friend Marcia and I went to a neighborhood French restaurant to catch up with each other. I tried dubonnet for the first time and although I will probably not order it again I am glad I tried it. Now I know "fortified wine" means too sweet for me. It did come in a nice glass.


After dinner we went over to Dana's house and he read our fortunes with some fortune telling cards that he has had since he was a child. He was amazingly accurate with Brooke' s fortune, Time will only tell with my mine.

This is Dana and his greyhound Pico. I am not a dog person but I do like Pico. He seems to know me and likes to stand calmly next to me.

Guest Appearance

Lyla and Tracy have two cats Precious and Kakis (pronounced kachis). Precious is friendly, likes to be around people and is always underfoot blending in with the oriental rugs. Kakis, on the other hand, is rarely seen and if you do see her she is a blur because she is trying to get as far away from you as fast as possible. That is until lately. At a recent event at Lyla's Kakis actually was in the same room as us for a short time and when she ran away up the stairs it was in stages. And then 2 weeks ago Kakis showed up during our video chat!



Neighborhood News:
There has been a farmers' market sponsored by the city of DC set up about a block away from our building on Saturdays. The first week there was one stand. The next week there was also a bakery. This week there were three stands, a bakery and someone selling jewelry. This is from the first week.


And speaking of vegetables Joe made a wonderful salsa verde recently. The main ingredients are tomatillos, avocado, and jalapeno peppers.


And speaking of wonderful food I went to dinner with dance friends Brooke and Dana just after my birthday and Brooke brought cupcakes! Here's Brooke and Dana and Dana's dog Pico.


Breakfast Indian Style

I promise the emphasis on food here on out will be minimal but I had to show you breakfast and one of my favorite foods - these little rice patties called idly served with a coconut sauce. The papaya, pineapple and little bananas were also quite nice. The breakfast at the hotel was served in the hotel's chinese restaurant.

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A Day of Mostly Eating

We spent Saturday morning in the studio while Maja went to the theater to get everything oganized for a run-through. There was a television crew at the studio to film class (with Dana's and John's dancers and me) and rehearsal.

Some of John's dancers. Here's Vijay on the left - a good dancer with a nice moustache and pony tail, then Vasanth - the best dancer in the company, Nanda - another good dancer who wore cool sunglasses, Johnson in the back - he was awesome helping me bargain with the tailor and Sachin - an aeronautics engineering student.

Before going back to the hotel we stopped at a little store near the studio where I bought a lacey white blouse for $5. We had lunch back at the hotel at Meenam where I had the Indian equivalent of the Pu Pu Platter - Vegatable Thali. It was actually quite good. I also had lassi!

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The company coming out of the clothing store (note the lack of sidewalks) and lunch

I took out my iPhone to calculate how much to pay for the bill and the manager and his waiters (there are usually twice as many waiters than in the US - all men) were all over it. I showed them some of features and used it to take a picture

Things were not going well at the theater so there was no run-through although everyone sat around at the hotel waiting for it.

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Shah Rukh Khan on TV and on the street, the Shiva temple in the hotel parking lot and a view from the room

When the word came that there was no theater time it was time for dinner so Tati, Miyako and I went to dinner at the other Indian restaurant at the hotel. I had aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower), Tati had a stuffed green banana dish and Miyako had a cheese and veggie kabob which she threw up later.
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Baking Latvian food

Lyla, Austin, I and guest cook Shelly made Latvian bacon rolls (piragi) and cheese (Jani siers) for Christmas last weekend. We had Latvian cookbooks and various Latvian recipe resources from the internet. It took all day but I think everything turned out well. We'll know next weekend when family and friends stop by for the Holiday Party/Family Christmas Contest Judging.

Take a look at the pictures

Speaking of the Christmas contest I worked on it for several obsessive hours this weekend. I think I should be done on time! No Tardiness Award for me.

Folklife Festival

Sunday we braved the high tourist turnout and went down to the Smithsonian Foklife Festival at the Mall. This year they featured Northern Ireland, Mekong River and Roots of Virginia. Joe had read about a band from Ireland called Four Men and a Dog (pronounce "Dag" like Brad Pitt pronounced it in "Snatch"). We got there in time to catch the end of their set. The kids and adults dancing were as entertaining as the band. (There was no dog). and


We then saw a young song and dance troup from China, a barbershop quartet type group from Tibet.

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Then the Vietnamese opera performed.


The food lines at the folk life festival were way too long so we headed to the food court at the Old Post Office. First we had to get masala dosas at the Indian Kitchen. I almost tried the Coconut Bharfi and Thums Up soda.

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And we could not leave without a visit to Larry's Cookies.


Some more movie/DVD reviews
We've been renting some cable TV series

Dead Like Me
Paula recommended this series about the dead walking among the living acting as grim reapers. We've seen the pilot. The cast is interesting and we are interested to see how the story develops.

The Wire Season 2
Started off a bit slow but the action is picking up. The first season was all about the drug dealing gang in the Baltimore projects. This season the story continues in the projects but there is also a murder investigation in the Baltimore Port. I still can't get enough.

Another great series - a young actor makes it big in the movies and moves from Queens to Hollywood with his childhood friends. Jeremy Piven plays his intense agent. It's light and fluffy and fun with cameos here and there. Joe's favorite so far is Jessica Alba. Mine is Mark Wahlberg.