Back in Washington, D.C.

Maggie and Lola enjoying the pond at Congressional cemetery.

Always fun to be back in my adopted hometown of Washington, D.C.  Maggie gets to hang with her BFF Lola, walks in the hood and daily visits to the Congressional Cemetery — the very best dog park ever!  Yes, dogs run free and off leash and get to pee on the interned.  J Edgar Hoover has a little fence around his plot, because peeing on him was a favorite attraction. 

Cemetery’s K9 Corps is a private dogwalking program, bringing life, community, and volunteerism to this extraordinary burial ground. Dog walking at the cemetery is permitted by membership only. As far as we know, it is one of the first programs of its kind. It is organized for the continued support of the ongoing work at Historic Congressional Cemetery through funds raised through donations and each member’s ongoing volunteer work. Day passes for non-members are offered during office hours Monday – Friday, 9-5 for $10, and interested dog walkers can apply to join the waitlist through this website.  Read the stones behind this dog in the video below.

Take a walking tour with your cell phone, compliments IZI Tours app and radio reporter Liz Ruskin.   Historic Congressional Cemetery: The Dead Tell the Best Stories.

I love Washington, D.C., especially Capitol Hill.  Best of all, I am no longer one of the self-important people who populate the city.  I have almost run-down 3 pedestrians who stepped off the curb in front of my truck against the light, because they were engrossed with their mobile phone and texting while walking.

D.C. is under construction.  There are construction cranes littering the skyline. Glass and steel high-rises everywhere.  Good architects incorporate the old facades of houses and buildings, incorporating them into the new structures, retaining the remnants of the old city.

Best of all is the new Anthem, a fantastic new music venue and auditorium opened in October 2017, the Anthem is part of District Wharf, a comprehensive redevelopment of the area.  Gone are the old all-you-can-eat (gross) seafood buffet restaurants and seedy motels, replaced by luxury apartments, condo, shops and trendy restaurants with outdoor dining.  The old fish market is the only thing that remains from the previous waterfront establishments.  Another neighborhood yupification (infested with Yuppies) in D.C.

The Anthem has a movable stage and seating that provides a capacity of 2,500 to 6,000.  Balconies are closer to the stage than most venues, I don’t think there is a bad seat in the house and the acoustics are fantastic.   I heard Brandi Carlile there on Saturday night, it was possibly the best concert I have attended.  The Anthem is AMAZING.

While in D.C. Maggie will see her Vet, and I am doing my routine health appointments, dentist, etc.  I am also trying to see as many dear friends I can before heading north to Long Island for the summer.

Beautiful and interesting sites to visit, remember all Smithsonian museums are FREE!  I am always amazed how many foreign tourist come to see our National Capitol.

 

Spare tire!

When I say spare tire, I don’t mean the one around my waist.  My tire karma has not been good.  First, the tire on the passenger side of the Airstream shreds into pieces while driving at 60 mph on 40 East.  I had planned to buy new tires this summer for Scout, so was not a huge surprise the tire shredded.   I now have 3 new tires, 2 on the trailer and a spare.  

Yesterday, driving north to Washington, D.C., the passenger side tire goes flat.  A brand new Goodyear tire!

What the F*ck!

Thanks to good Samaritan Roy, who stopped and tried to plug the hole, then put the spare tire on. So where should I spend the night waiting for the Goodyear store to open?  You guessed it, in a Wal-Mart parking lot.  

Lessons learned: 1) just put the spare tire on, and don’t try to patch a brand new tire; 2) “Never say never”, because one-day sleeping overnight in a Wal-Mart parking lot, is the best option.

Lola and Maggie, can you tell them apart?

Today, arrived in Cheverly, MD where Scout is parked in friend’s Madeleine and Norman’s driveway.   Maggie and I will stay on Capitol Hill with Liz, Tim, and Lola, Maggie’s best friend.  Then on to Long Island for the summer at sister Robin’s house in Westhampton, NY.   Come visit!

Happy Mother’s Day

I am fortunate to spend 2018 Mother’s Day with my amazing Mom, Mary.  88 years old.

Mom and stepfather Erv live in a great retirement community Carolina Meadows, in Chapel Hill, NC.  The community is beautiful and full of very interesting people including many retired academics.  Best of all, it is an enclave of Democrats, hard to find in North Carolina.  Erv serves as the precinct chair, and runs a tight meeting I am told.

In 2007, Mom and Erv left their home in Willow, Alaska to take up residence near my older sister Becky who lives in Cary, NC.

Growing up, we moved lots as a family, never staying in any house for more than 7 years.  Protecting us from becoming hoarders, we don’t collect dust collectors or other “stuff”.  Mom’s parents lived in assisted and full nursing care for more than 10 years, and she vowed never to burden her 4 daughters with hard decisions of elder care.  On her 80th birthday she brought out 4 banker boxes, and told us ‘this is all the stuff that is left, take what you want, the rest is going in the trash’.

Last summer Mom had a stroke and now has a couple of stents.  But she is holding her own, and peddles her bicycle wheelchair almost everyday.   I remember Mom walking the dog every morning, it was her exercise and daily meditation.

She was able to hold her first great-grandchild Benjamin before Nephew David and Camilla left for Italy.  

At the Jon Stewart March on Washington, with sister Becky.

I am incredibly grateful to be the daughter of Mary Reardon.  Mom was a social activist in her day and I got all my liberal politics and moral compass from her.  In the mid-60’s we lived in Altadena, CA before moving to Alaska.   Mom was active in community organizing, civil rights and opposing the Vietnam War, it was 1960’s.  I remember her always wearing a anti-war pin.  She volunteered driving visiting Russian basketball players around Los Angeles -during the Cold War.  She worked with a neighborhood group opposing a ballot proposition that would allow discriminatory housing practices.  My Mom was a rebel in her own way.

In the spring 1968, we moved from Southern California to Anchorage, Alaska.  Four daughters and a Dad sinking into alcoholism, he was dead in 7 years, the move was a culture shock.  I don’t think any of us owned socks, certainly not mittens.  Mom was essentially a single parent working in the business office of Providence Hospital for a very tough supervising nun, Sister Agnus.  She would come home in tears, because she hadn’t been able to balance the cash drawer, the Sister was a tyrant.  Fortunately, Mom got her real-estate license and became a very successful agent and later a broker.

My best times with Mom was driving around Anchorage looking at houses she would later show customers.  This was before the internet and virtual home tours.  Mom had a mobile phone the size of a small suitcase in her car.  She sold many of my friends their first homes in Anchorage, Alaska.  I was glad my friends got to know her as well.  They know how truly amazing she is, and I was happy to share her.

Mom married Erv in 1978.  He had come to work for her as a real-estate agent, but she told him he couldn’t work for her and get married, so he quit.  Good thing.  

Their lives in Alaska was full of flying in Erv’s small plane and fishing, they would later move to their cabin in Willow and turn it into a retirement home on the shores of Shirley Lake with a view of Mt. McKinley out their front window.  Mom would strap on her cross-country skies and ski around the lake with her sweet Australian Cattle Dog Aussie.  They would later spend time in an RV traveling around the lower 48 states. One day, Aussie escaped the RV in a Wal-Mart parking lot while they were loading groceries.  Thankfully Erv happened to look in the rear-view mirror and there was Aussie.

Mom served on the community board for the Valley Hospital, in Palmer, AK.  Sarah Palin was also on the board, but Mom said she rarely contributed or even spoke at meetings.  That was many years before Palin ran for office, or saw Russia from her front porch.  Mom was one of few (if only) pro-choice voice on the board, she has always supported Planned Parenthood.  She volunteered as a guardian ad litem for native children, and she and Erv were active in a small Methodist Church in the Matanuska Valley.  

They have lots of new retirement friends at Carolina Meadows, playing bridge, book clubs, and Erv (age 91) playing croquet with his custom make wooden mallet.  They have a very good life together.  

I have been blessed with a good life, because of my Mother.

 

When the rubber meets the road

So I am merrily driving 60 mph on Hwy 40 East from Ashville to Chapel Hill, NC when the passenger side trailer tire shreds into pieces.

Airstreams are aerodynamic and are great to tow.  Not like so many of the Big Boxes you see on interstates.  I was able to move from the center lane and onto the shoulder without any trouble.  My trailer and I are fine, and I will have two new tires, shocks, and while we are at it oil the wheel bearings.  It is always something.  I can’t complain having driven 5,000 miles since purchasing the Airstream in New Hampshire in September 2017.  We’ve been to Long Island, D.C., North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and back to North Carolina heading north for the summer.

Lessons learned, thanks to Jeff my great tow truck driver:

  1. Replace all RV tires every 18 months. It isn’t the tread on the tire (that looked great), but the walls of the tires that rot.
  2. The covers on tires I have seen on other RVs, are to protect the rubber side walls from the sun and extended parking.
  3. Progressive Insurance has horrible customer service, too many prompts to get to a real person when contacting roadside assistance.  Jeff has suggested an RV insurance called CoachNet.  

I am happy to report I am with my Mom in Chapel Hill while my stepfather Erv is recovering from a stroke and surgery to put in stents.  Mom and Erv now have matching stents.  I hope my trip to Washington, D.C. and Long Island will go as planned, but I won’t be staying at the beautiful Jordon Lake campground in Cary, NC as originally planned.

I should be back on my road2reinvention in a week, which will give me time to catch up on my blog posts.

So stay tuned and please keep reading.

Sunday School in Plains, GA

I am a non-believer.  My philosophy is an insignificant spec on a mud ball theory. I respect those who believe, it must be a great comfort, especially in old age.   You won’t find me in church on Sundays, except when Jimmy Carter is teaching Sunday School.

Several years ago, President Jimmy Carter was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer, and I pledged I wanted to hear him teach Sunday school at his Plains, GA Maranatha Baptist Church.

A single digit on my bucket list. CHECK.

President Carter teaches one or two Sundays each month, the schedule is posted on the National Park Service website.  In order to attend on a first-come-first-serve basis, lining up in the parking lot at 4:00 a.m. is required.  YES, that is 4 in the MORNING!

I was fortunate to be accompanied by Leslie, who camped out overnight in the pecan groove behind the church.  Leslie got the #1 spot, so we were in the front row.  At 7:30 a.m. lining up by number to enter the sanctuary after Secret Service scans.  The only thing you can bring inside is a cell phone or camera.  No purses, keys, nothing.  Be sure to bring cash for the collection plates.  Note to self, wear clothes with pockets.

Once inside Jill, President Carter’s personal assistance reads you the riot act.  The Do’s and the Don’ts.  If you want pictures with the President and Rosalynn, you must stay for the service, and then have your camera ready for the shot.  You hand your camera to Jill and she snaps you standing next to the Carters.  Jill moved 350 people in military fashion.

President Carter said he and Rosalynn would “be happy” to get pictures taken with everyone who wishes to stay for the main service, then he corrected himself.  Rosalynn and I are “willing” to have our pictures taken.  He has a wonderful sense of humor.

Thanks to Leslie, on Sunday May 6, I was in the front row to hear President Jimmy speak about the Holly Spirit.  I was a few minutes late (because you all know I am never on time, especially in the morning), so yes, I walked in front of 350 people standing in line.  Glad I am not a Christian.  I will never see any of those people again, I hope.

Unlike the current occupant of the Oval Office, Jimmy Carter is a man of great faith, dignity and humility. 

His Sunday lesson was about the meaning of the Holly Spirit.  He began by expressing hope for peace coming to the Korean peninsula and ending a painful conflict of 65 years.  He spoke about the Holly Spirit being a force of equity, that no person is superior to another, that love of one another is what we all should strive to achieve, without judgement.  His message was one of love and acceptance.   The lesson was truly inspiring.  Jimmy Carter, our 39th President, is 93 and still working one day a week at Habitat for Humanity, writing 37 books, traveling, fishing and teaching Sunday school. 

The night before he signed copies of his new book “Faith”.  We were especially lucky to see Rosslynn and Jimmy visiting his childhood home with their weekend house guests, Rosalynn’s surgeon from Emory University.  Roselyn has recently undergone surgery and this was her first outing.  It was especially touching to see President Carter escorting the surgeon’s Indian parents to view the out-house and chicken coop.  At the Sunday service Carter introduced the parents as immigrants from India and their daughter who was born in Texas and is now a surgeon and life-saver.   A beautiful tribute to our nation of immigrants.

1978 Alaskans burn President Carter in effigy.

President Carter believes in diplomacy, love and dignity.  During his Presidency he never bragged about military force.  He worked diligently to bring peace to the Middle-East and protected public lands.   I was living in Alaska during his Presidency, and Alaskan burned him in effigy because  he signed Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, that designated 79.53 million acres (124,281 square miles; 321,900 km2) of public lands as wilderness area in Alaska.  If you haven’t watched the Ken Burns series on the National Parks, you really should.  President Carter and Rosalynn returned to Alaska years later and my brother-in-law took them bird watching.  Buzz is one a very few pre-eminent Alaskan bird watchers.

What a weekend.  I felt all weekend I was in a better time and place.  It was hard to return, read or listen to the news of the day.  

Thank you, President Jimmy Carter, you will always be my President.