Friday, April 30, 2010

Adventure on the High Sea (2006)

OK, I bought this book online because there seems to be a severe lack of boating stories from the female perspective. There are boy stories about whales and mutiny and true accounts of cruiser women which interest me, but I wasn't in the mood to read Moby Dick and I don't want to listen (right now) to how someone stocks their galley or deals with all of the land-locked goods a true sailor is happy to leave behind.

Adventure on the High Sea seemed like a good choice. I was promised an ocean passage and the story was supposed to be about a young girl and how her family gets along during their sail boat trip from England to America. I expected a story! This is a brief, home-made book outlining the countries Susan Barry Blair visits and while it's an awesome life, the writing style is awkward and the entire book is short enough to be someone's blog entry or magazine article. The best part, however, is when the dad attempts to catch fish using the spinnaker as a net and nearly capsizes the boat. An easy-going read with your morning coffee but not worth $10 and the cost of postage.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

On Mexican Time (1999)

On Mexican Time is the travelogue of Tony Cohan and his wife Masako Takahashi. They leave LA on holiday, return home, pack it up, sell their house, and move to San Miguel de Allende for the next 15 years. Tony learns the language, makes friends, and comments on the culture but something in his account is missing ....

About halfway through the book, I realize Tony's wife is not an integral part of the story. The author will comment on her art, or an exhibit she's having, but rarely does he mention what they do together as a couple. Masako is portrayed as someone constantly shopping for trinkets and objects. After wandering town or country side, Tony will return home and describe items left on the dining room table, but not how he reconnects with his wife. In fact, only once do I detect real intimacy between them. (Tony and Masako take a side trip and share stories of their childhood.)

Occasionally, I sense a hardness in Masako, an unwillingness to carry on with a project or an anger at having been left to do it alone. During Semana Santa one year, Tony's daughter visits and is hospitalized with typhus. He spends the night at the hospital and throughout the whole ordeal does not mention his wife. Would she not share in her husband's concern or take part in this episode of their lives?

Overall, the description is strong but characterization is lacking in On Mexican Time. With the exception of Rene who becomes legend in the town and maybe Hillario who has an affair with one of the maids, Tony's friends seem more like acquaintances and Masako only a part of the story in the necessity of telling of it. The living character of Mexico unfortunately does not fill the gap for me. When Tony returns to America, his departure seems abrupt and his explanation for leaving empty (something about "business calls"). I was not surprised to learn later via google that Tony and Masako eventually divorced.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Descending into the realm of political silos and fiefdoms, Year 2005, Wendella could only image how things would be run if she were in charge. Enormous amounts of wasted energy and resources would still be available for the city projects and welfare of the people. But alas, Wendella was not in charge.

The question then became, does she cut and run to find sanctuary on a more rational plane or remain in chaos to be a beacon within that storm? Such questions always languished within her mind; the desire to exist where one remains within the tranquility of homeostasis and the competing desire to make order out of an otherwise entropic system.

A continuing battle has taken place within her somatosensory cortex; the sensing and intuitive functions constantly vying for territory within a system thought to be three-dimensional, but in reality hosting multiple dimensions. If only the tiers could agree. If not for the ability to abstract, Wendella could very well go insane.

The point of landing is the streets of Washington, DC. Whereas the exteriors of the buildings are impressive in their architectural design, the interiors are drab with encrusted dirt within the framework. Such is the reality of an economic model paid for by tax-payer dollars. To navigate such a course, Wendella has armed herself with a rolling laptop bag and a container of sanitizer. As she enters the building, she thinks of the tasks at hand. She knows she will accomplish her goals; it's just an issue of when. Advancing forward, she has a strong look of determination set on her face. Wendella is indestructible!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Adams Morgan is known best for its wild and crazy weekend crowd, the mass of people who descend upon the multiple bars and party until the wee hours of the morn at which time they fan out into the streets, yelling, laughing, sometimes fighting, and most responsibly calling taxi cabs to take them home. But they are just visitors and I was happy to see them go.

Adams Morgan also has a strong Latino component that can give a girl like me a flash back to her earlier days living as an Army brat in the Dominican Republic, but that's mostly when you cross over 18th Street and the vibe isn't really authentic until you go up higher to Columbia Heights and even now that neighborhood has gone through a lot of change.

Adams Morgan can be called a place of politicians, most famously Gary Condit who was accused of murdering Chandra Levy in 2001, and Jim Graham who lives in the neighborhood and is known for his presence everywhere, a quick responder, always on the spot.

On the other end of the social spectrum Adams Morgan had its share of homeless and the not quite right, and my special group of single moms who had been there years earlier when the neighborhood had an inner city appeal.

The shop keepers were what gave Adams Morgan its day-to-day personality. Fenty's dad is still there taking care of Fleet Feet but Miss Pixie is gone and sells her second-hand furniture over on 14th Street. When Sid (pictured here) died, the neighborhood mourned his death with flowers and candles and most still miss the big art deco sign that marked his New York-style deli. In acknowledgment of Comet's closure in 2005, the Washington Post ran this article and it does a good job describing the slow gentrification that is taking over Adams Morgan.

I drove down Calvert Street recently, remembering which house had drunk Santa falling off the stair rails every Christmas and which house I liked best on my daily walk home. I felt a sad longing for my old neighborhood's energy and diversity but people change like neighborhoods do and it was time to move on.

Photo source.

Friday, April 23, 2010


It didn't happen right away. I moved into Adams Morgan in October 2002 when the Sniper was terrorizing Washington, DC and surrounding areas. I had friends and family within driving distance but no one in the neighborhood. I was a single girl, living alone, completely isolated, and afraid to go outside.

Five years later on October 1, 2007 a fire broke out in one of the condominiums located an alley and a street away from me. I could see the fire from my kitchen window. It blazed for eight hours and the building was destroyed. Remarkably, no one died and all but one of the pets were saved.

The Avalon started burning in the middle of the night and by 4 a.m. countless people were outdoors, including me. I called my friend Nancy who lived one building down and she was fine; in fact, she was on site shooting photographs and later wrote an excellent article for the InTowner (found here).

While I didn't know anyone first hand who was victim to the fire, my niece went to school in the neighborhood and her little friend had lost everything but most of all missed her Barbies. My group of girl friends took up a collection and gave her family a $75 gift card, with the hope that the money would be spent on dolls first and more practical items second. After five years, I felt a strong sense of community in Adams Morgan, something you don't get as easily out here in the suburbs. It was as if the fire had happened to all of us. In the weeks following, there were countless fundraisers for the affected families and the building has since been renovated. You wouldn't know when you walk by 2627 Adams Mill Road that a fire had made a shell of the building. It's just there in the collective memory of the neighborhood.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Year of Giving

For further hometown insight, take a look at this amazing Web site. A local man named Reed has made a personal commitment to give away $10 every day for a full year.

This photo is of Cleo from day 41. The 50-year old trumpet player can be found at the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro station and is sometimes working the Adams Morgan area, a place he calls "wild and crazy."

Reed interviews each recipient, posting their personal stories online, and then asks what they plan to do with the money. Often times, his gift starts a chain reaction of giving. See the Lend a Hand section for more information about sharing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Adams Morgan

This is a great photo of 18th Street in Adams Morgan.

Tryst is a primarily a coffee house during the day where people are comfortable sitting around on old couches reading newspapers or books and working on their lap tops. When I lived across the street, I would stop in at least once a week.

Madam's Organ, to the left, is completely different. It's dark, saloon-like, and full of stuffed wild animals. A taxidermist's dream. I went to a fundraiser there. The woman who was holding the event has a farm out in Maryland and shelters animals who have been abandoned or abused. What a strange place to invite those who support her cause! (Learn more about the Star Gazing Farm here.)

This pic was taken by Luis Gomez who posts one photograph a day from Washington, DC. So many tourists come to visit our nation's capital each year and never really see the city. Take a look at his blog for a better idea of what we have to offer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Outdoor Living

I've always liked the idea of a long table set for an early evening outdoors. In this photo, the birch tree suggests a gathering in the French country side. I imagine the lamps are ready to be lit and the cold drinks are waiting to be served. When I get married, I want the reception to be held in an inviting spot just like this one.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

City Kitchen

This is the type of stove I want. Call me crazy because the one I have is a self-cleaning big monster with a clock and timer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Good Luck

From Ystad Daily Photo.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Agree or Disagree?

From Spiekerblog.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I've been online shopping again! This time, I ordered the Mar y Sol 'Guadalupe' straw hand bag and a pair of Tory Burch sunglasses.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


As the apple suggests, this movie is about temptation: Bella's desire to become a vampire and Edward's need to make her one. I tried to read the novel but couldn't get through it and after about 100 pages managed to ruin the book while camping (many continued apologies). Stephenie Meyer did an excellent job creating atmosphere and an intimacy between her characters but the pace was slow and the dialogue painful. So, in order to understand Eric's daughter's obsession with the series, I rented the movie. Double ugh. I don't get it. The acting was terrible. Edward was not nearly as handsome and suave as the book suggests. Bella's loner personality and teenage insecurity came across as rude and condescending. After all of the media publicity surrounding Twilight, I expected more and got nothing. I recommend watching Lost Boys, reading Bram Stoker's Dracula or picking up Interview with the Vampire instead.

Click on the link to find out more about this book.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Monday, April 5, 2010


Sunday, April 4, 2010


Inspirational patterns found online.