Recent History (October)

I went to a board meeting at the country home of one of the other board members. It was about one and half hours outside of DC. The drive got prettier and prettier and ended on a large piece of farmland on top of a hill. Lovely home with lots of glass and beautiful views. We passed a road called Snikersville Parkway and I made Dana pull over so I could take a picture. Snickersville is what we call the street where my mom grew up. The real street name is unpronounceable by humans. Anyway this Snickersville was named after William Edward Snickers (born about 1735 - died 1790) who owned land in the area and operated a ferry and a tavern on the Shenandoah River.

road sign blumont house

bluemont driveway with trees bluemont garden

bluemont doorbell

Here are some late fall flowers that were hanging in there on my balcony

red flowerpurple flowerpink cosmos

Several family members and high school friend Karen were in DC for Dana's concert. We went to the National Gallery East Wing to see a Munch exhibit and then had lunch at the American Art museum.

east wing national gallery karen and laura

This is a magical little causeway going from the backstage area of the dance theater to the front entrance. It seemed like a secret.

dance place alley

A week in July - Edisto 2010

For our week at Edisto this year we were Susan E, Susan L, David, Hunter, Hunter's girlfriend Maddy, Graeme, Carson and me. Andrea and Lane were busy doing 20 something activities that involved the Oregon Wilderness and youngsters from Eurasia.

As in the past couple of times we've gotten together David served up amazing vintage cocktails and as in the past 10 years (for me; it goes back to the 80s for the Susans and David) we updated our "Lust List". In the past we have done nature walks, some more successful (ie, less mosquitos) than others but this year we found a true gem in Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Area.
It is a large piece of land that once contained two plantations. The owner left the land to the state when she died and they have made it a wonderful place to drive/walk through and explore. We saw snakes, alligators, huge frogs and many birds. The plantations are no longer there save a few bricks, some small buildings and a well but the marsh, ponds, fields, forests and beach are amazing.


  • A new and improved rental house - filled with light and a bit bigger than the one we've stayed in the last couple of years.
  • Keeping one eye on the alligator in the middle of the pond as we ran around taunting the huge kitsch-like frogs.
  • Maddy actually getting Hunter to eat a vegetable or two
  • Eating fried fish and drinking at two local restaurants. At one we befriended a shy young lady named Carson.
  • Listening to staffer Bruce's stories of hanging out with movie stars as they were filming at Botany Bay - Tim Roth, Jude Law to name two (there may have been only two)

Here are the drinks David made us.

  • Bijou (gin)
  • Floridita (rum)
  • Clover Club (gin)
  • Last Word (dry vermouth?)
  • Fairbanks (gin) - my favorite
  • Argentine Cocktail (gin)
  • Mulata (rum)
  • Agri Dolce (tequila) - group favorite

Check out more pictures at my Gallery

edisto porch botany bay tree

A week in July Part 1

I set off on a Saturday to spend a week in the South. My first stop was Columbia, SC to visit Karen, a friend from high-school who I had not been in contact with in 30 years (thank you, facebook). She had invited me to spend the night whenever I was heading down that way and I happily took her up on her offer. Karen and her husband Zach both teach at University of SC and live in a lovely renovated old house near the campus. They have a wonderful little urban farm with a garden and hens, quail, ducks and a rabbit (who sadly passed away this week).

It was a wonderful visit. Karen and Zach are wonderful hosts. We talked about then and now and everything in between. Karen and I looked through year books. When you have not seen somebody for 30 years most of the details go away but the defining memories remain. I remember Karen's smile, I remember that she drove her dad's old mercedes. I confessed to her that I thought I wasn't as cool as she was in high school and she said the same thing about me. Ahh, teenagers.

tios mexicanzach, karen, laura
We had a nice mexican dinner at Tios near the campus where the waiter was from Mongolia

karen and xach's duckshen house
Where the ducks and hens hang

Karen with fresh eggs and their cat Smoke

Sunday morning Zach and Karen fixed me fresh eggs from their hens and ducks and sent me on my way. i headed down I-95 to Savannah to visit Tommy, Sandy and Little T in their newly renovated place. My parents, Lynda and Graeme were also there. We all agreed that rhe changes made their place remarkably more spacious and filled with light. We ate warm chicken salad, bean casserole and Sandy's famous pound cake and watched a live video feed of the robots trying to plug the leak 1 mile below the surface in the Gulf on Mr. Pin's computer. We headed to Edisto early evening and got there in time to watch the sun set.

savannah bridge welcome bears
Welcome to Savannah
dad playing sax sandy and little T
spanish moss
A great gathering!

cloud spotting clousa spotted
Cloud spotting

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.

shrimp chips
Shrimp fries!

ellen knittingwilliam getting contact photo
Ellen knitting and William taking a photo for his contacts list

sam serving winelyla and tracy with flowers
Sam serving a nice bottle of wine. Lyla and Tracy with tulips.

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

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

Ellen's frog collection.

Burning Christmas trees

I drove to Todd on Martin Luther King Memorial weekend to spend time with Susan and Susan and David and Lane and Andrea and Hunter in the mountains of NC. Lane drove with me which was great since I get sleepy after about 30 minutes of driving. It did not snow but there was plenty of snow on the ground. There was a fair amount of mist which was cold and raw but enjoyable as well. Susan's living room stove keeps her place quite cozy. The highlight of the weekend was the bonfire we made that took a long time to get going but we found that if you throw enough stuff on it (including gasoline) you can not only get it going but it will burn in the pouring rain. We also enjoyed two special cocktails from David's travelling bar, homemade pancakes and Thai food at a restaurant down the mountain in Boone.

There are more pictures here.




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.

full_tea_tea_t fullkee_austinellen_t
full_kee_ellen_sam_food_t full_kee_lyla_tracy_wine_t
full_kee_acouplebutnot_t full_kee_food_t
full_kee_dessert_t sweat pea soup

Vintage Drinking on Edisto Island

The weather was great. The ocean water temperature was perfect. The tides were well timed for morning and evening kayak trips into the marsh. And David made us classic cocktails all week.

Negroni, Evans Cocktail

Gin & Tonic, Josette Cocktail

Dandy, Marguerita, Gin & Tonic (Fever Tree Tonic Water), Baranquilla Green Jade

Ford Cocktail, Lucien Gaudin

Marguerita, Gin & Tonic, Vodka Tonic, 20th Century, Brandy Alexander

Grande Bretaigne

David left so Lutz and I slummed with plain old vodka and plain old Tonic

Some drinks were very exotic with interesting combinations of liquors and liquers. I had no real favorite - I enjoyed every one that I drank.

Some other highlights:

  • Catching up with everyone.

  • TV shows and movies on DVDs
    Movie - 28 Days Later (zombies!)
    TV - Mad Men, Flight of the Conchords, The Guild, and Shark Week on the Discovery Channel
    I missed Eagle vs Shark and The Thin Man

  • Susan swimming with us in the ocean fully clothed including large Andie McDowell style hat

  • We took our usual 3 hour walking trip to Jeremy's Inlet - a place that is supposed to be rich in fossils. I did find a couple
  • Fried Chicken, sweet corn, shrimp, flounder, crabs that we caught, blackberry cobbler, smoked chicken salad, fruits and vegetables from George & Pink's

  • Dinner at Whaley's a new pub/restaurant that used to be a gas station and little store.

  • I won a Scrabble game!

  • Cocktails at Ingrid and Tom's

  • Kayaking in the dark - last time I was too chicken to try. I was only mildly afraid of the zombie alligator that I knew was out there somewhere.

Check out more pictures

And here's the video: