Sunday, December 20, 2009

In your face, snow!

I woke up this morning to a sunny sky and melting snow. And while I didn't have anywhere to go, I figured I should make an effort to start digging my car out. I had parked close to the entrance of the building and hoped that the plow wouldn't have created too big a snow dam.

Boy, was I naive.

Oh, shit.

All I could do when I saw my car was just laugh and laugh. People walking by joined in, because I guess it's not every day you see some chick with a shovel laughing her fool head off. But I would like to add that nobody offered to help me. In fact, people only stopped to talk because they wanted to borrow my shovel. To which I say, no way. They should have thought ahead and bought their own. I mean, look. If you live in a high-rise with a parking lot that gets plowed, a shovel is a necessary item. I bought mine three years ago and have kept it in my trunk since then. And it's not like I was being mean, I was actually using my shovel. If someone asked me when I had finished I would have let them borrow it. Maybe.

I figured I would shovel a while, take a break, and maybe get back to it in the afternoon. But it actually went faster than I expected, and when you get in the groove, you just want to get it over with. My strategy was to clear the back first so it was easier to carry the shovels of snow to the large pile made by the plow (I couldn't just pitch it to the side since there were cars on either side of me). Then I cleared a little path to one of the back doors, squeezed inside, and started the car with the heat going full blast. I figured the car could do me a favor and maybe melt some of the snow around it (and on top) while I was shoveling.

All in all the plan worked, and one hour and a half of shoveling gave me a completely snow-free car. And you can bet I am not moving that sucker until I absolutely need to, because as soon as I leave someone else is going to take that spot. And I'll be damned if I give it up that easy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Maggie in the Desert

Today DC is in the grips of a record-breaking snow-storm. At last count I think we were up to 18 inches (and still going strong), so what better way to spend my snow day than blogging about being in the desert?

The irony is not lost on me.

I spent the first week of December in Phoenix, Arizona. It was my first time in Arizona and only my second time in the desert (the first being my trip to Las Vegas this past May). Before leaving I had all these grandiose plans for sight-seeing, hiking, and visiting some local museums. Unfortunately, the sheer number of hearings the judges I traveled with had to conduct at the regional office kept us busy until after 5 almost every night. Which meant all we really had time to do was go out to dinner and then come back to the hotel and go back to bed.

In fact, the only real cool things I got to do were 1) visit a Sees candy store one evening for a bit of Christmas shopping and 2) go to the Desert Botanical Garden on Thursday afternoon when the judges were kind and let me and the other attorney skip out early.

But if you're going to do one thing in the Phoenix area, this is the one you want to shoot for. You basically get the whole desert experience in one go (minus the horrible venomous creatures). And coming from the East Coast, where the flora is basically as different as you can get, it was fascinating to see how many different types of cacti there are. Literally thousands.

Check out some pics:

I especially like this last picture. It makes the cacti look like a nefarious wriggling mass trying to bring down the tree. Evil cacti!

I flew back to DC on Friday afternoon since I had to get ready for my kitchen-warming party happening the next day. When I left Phoenix it was 70 degrees, and within 12 hours of coming back it was snowing. Weirdness.

Speaking of snow, I'll probably be blogging several times in the next few days since I am stuck at home due to the snow. Who knows how long it will take to dig out my car from this blizzard? It could be awhile before I can go anywhere, but hopefully these blog posts won't end up chronicling my gradual descent into cabin fever-induced madness. But still, that should make for good reading, right??

Red rum.....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Curbside Cupcakes!

Usually things in life don't turn out the way you want or expect. But sometimes, just sometimes, the universe aligns in such a way as to grant you the one thing you want right when you want it. Perhaps it was some kind of birthday, Christmas, or Hanukkah miracle, but for one brief shining moment this afternoon me and a group of friends from work were in the exact right place and the exact right time. For what, you ask?

Curbside Cupcakes!

First, some background. This past Saturday was the lovely Caroline's birthday. Since she was down in North Carolina celebrating with her family, a group of us at work took her to lunch today at Cafe Asia. While waiting for our food to arrive, she mentioned a new phenomenon in DC. That is, Curbside Cupcakes. Basically there is a pink van that drives around downtown selling delicious cupcakes. Think of it is the Good Humor truck for yuppies.

We all agreed that this was a swell idea and told Caroline that is she ever noticed a Twitter update signaling that the van was in our vicinity to let us know immediately.

45 minutes later we headed back to the office and arrived at the intersection across from our building. When, lo, what did eagle-eyes Stephanie spot? A pink van parked across the street. "Is that...the Curbside Cupcakes van?" she asked hesitatingly. The rest of us scoped it out and as one cried, "it is!" and immediately took off across the intersection.

Now when I say took off, I literally mean it. There was much running and arm waving as we made for the opposite corner. When we reached the opposite side we slowed and walked towards the van, but then! It began pulling away from the curb! Stephanie again took off, waving her arms emphatically, and the rest of began running and screaming "no, stop!"

Luckily, the driver saw us (since we would have been kind of hard to miss) and pulled back. And sold us wonderful cupcakes. These suckers weren't cheap ($3 a pop), but you know what? TOTALLY WORTH IT. What are the chances that the very cupcake van we had just been discussing would have been parked right across from our building at that very moment?? We were meant to have those cupcakes, and you know what? They were damn good.

So happy birthday, Caroline! Clearly the fates are with you today. Anybody want to go get some lottery tickets after work?

Curbside Cupcakes success! And they all lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

He's gotta be strong, and he's gotta be fast, and he's gotta be fresh from the fight.

Yesterday, my Great Uncle Bill was presented with the French Legion of Honor (and made a "chevalier" or knight) by the French Ambassador to the United States. The ceremony took place at the D-Day memorial in Bedford County, Virginia, and while I couldn't be there, my Mom, Uncle and cousins were there representing the family.

Uncle Bill lives down in Roanoke, and we would visit him and my Great Aunt Nita in the summers and occasionally at Christmas. As a kid I had only the most basic knowledge of Bill's life...I mean, when you're 10 chances are you're not too interested in what your Great Uncle did with his life before you met him. But boy, did I miss out on a lot of good stories. Because as time has gone by I've learned more about Bill's time in the military during WWII and wowza. People tend to throw around the world hero these days, but he's the real deal.

Bill Overstreet flew P-51s out of England as part of the 357th Fighter Group (the Yoxford Boys), and participated in more than 100 missions. He flew over France and Germany, and was shot down three times and taken prisoner by the Germans at one point (although he escaped). Right there, you can't deny he's pretty badass.

But the best Uncle Bill story takes place over the skies of Paris, when he was involved in a dogfight with a German Messerschmidt. The German tried to shake him by flying under the Eiffel Tower. And it totally didn't work, because Bill followed him right through the arches and blew his butt out of the sky.

Here's an article about the ceremony (and recounting some of Bill's adventures), and the local news also ran a great piece about it that I tried several time to embed, but can't get to work. So check it out here!

And then take a minute to think about the risks and scarifies of all our nation's veterans and members of the armed services. Then go hug a veteran. But preferably someone you know, otherwise that could get kind of awkward.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Before I get into blogging about my recent work trip to Phoenix (exhausting) and my new kitchen-warming party this past Saturday (also exhausting but in a super fun way), I thought I would share some appropriately themed winter pictures.

Behold this year's Christmas tree:

Don't even bother trying to hide behind the tree, gnome. I can totally see you.

Oh, and did I mention? We got snow, bitches! SNOW!

This picture looks like a beer commercial. I expect some Clydesdales to gallop through or something.

This seems a bit early for our first snowfall in DC, no? Too bad I spent the day stressing about what it would mean for my party that night, but I still found the time to admire it a bit. Snow = pretty! Unfortunately, it also means people drive like assholes. But that's life....everything has a price.

Coming up soon...Maggie's thoughts on cacti (and Phoenix).