Tuesday, May 14, 2019

More Fun Than It Sounds

Over the weekend, my husband asked me to carry the sealant he had purchased during our trip to Home Depot so he could haul the heavier items to the car. Earlier that same day, he sent me photos of an outdoor space in our backyard he planned to power wash.

I know what I've described here makes married life sound like quite the slog. Which is why I was surprised at my friend's reaction when she texted and asked what I was doing and I replied, "holding Tim's caulk while scrolling through his deck pics".

Saturday, May 11, 2019

London...What (The Royal) We Learned

For spring break a few weeks ago, we traveled to London, a place I've now been thrice. I spent a semester there whilst in college, had a brief stopover on the way to Germany a couple of years after that, and now - spring break 2019! Cheerio!

And as I like to do with all big trips for the little Brutalism family, I document things we learn from traveling internationally, because what is travel if not a way to broaden your mind?

That said, here is London 2019, what we learned:

1. You will find yourself playing that fun game of "Don't remember because I'm old?" or "Don't remember because I was drunk the entire semester?" daily when exploring the city and visiting historic sites. (Note: there are no winners in this game.)

The student group from the college semester in London.

(About four years ago, I had to give up drinking permanently due to adverse
interactions with a medication. When I shared this fact with a close friend, he matter-of-factly
noted, "Well, you kinda front-loaded, so if you average it out, you'll consume a moderate
 amount of alcohol in your lifetime.")

2. You will be very excited when you happen upon this while strolling on the South Bank of the Thames your first afternoon in London:

Yes, that's Stephen Colbert about 10 feet from us.
Just conducting an interview - very low key. 
He swapped glasses with his interviewee because he thought
they were cool. 

3. While enjoying the Chihuly exhibit at Kew Gardens, and then taking a lunch break at the food trucks there, you'll hand your daughter cash to buy food and your husband will proclaim, "She needs a credit card is what she needs!" Later that same day, your daughter will declare, "I'll be mad. I'll be real mad!" and you will accuse them both of starring in a 1940s film noir because WHO THE HELL TALKS LIKE THAT? You will mock them incessantly and it will strike you so funny that you will then burst into laughter while brushing your teeth, when trying to fall asleep at night, and several times on the flight home.
She needs a non-ridiculous family is what she needs, doll...see?

4. You will learn that you've lost your fear of confrontation when you exchange words with a cranky British woman on your flight who reclined into your lap when you ask her to kindly not do that. ('Kindly' may be overstating it...but still...who DOES that? This is why we left and started our own country, lap-invader. By the way, nice job with Brexit.)

Delta Airlines released this bit of news the very next day. I'm certain the
two incidents were unrelated.

5. Your body will crave fruit and greens for weeks after a steady diet of steak pies, sausage rolls, bangers and mash, fish and chips, and beer. (Oh...and porridge...which I had to eat while declaring, "This is the best porridge, ever!",  "I love porridge!" "Anyone want some porridge?")


Assorted pub grub. And porridge.












6. You will learn how great it is to meet other people in the course of your travels, like lovely Shirley who sat at our table in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields for a mid-week jazz concert. She lost her 'beloved' 18 months ago and the jazz concerts were something they did together. So now almost-80-year-old Shirley takes the tube quite a distance to attend the concerts and enjoy a glass of wine while utterly charming her table mates.

Jazz show in crypt = how to get me to church.

7. You will worry that your 13-year-old child might be disturbed by an evening Jack the Ripper walking tour in the East End of London. Instead, she will be fascinated by every bit of gory information and will devise her own theory of who the perp was based on the narrative provided. When you return home, she will ask you to read The Five aloud while she tries to fall asleep, and this will (terrifyingly) send her drifting off to dreamland.

Next up for bedtime reading: The Tell-Tale Heart

8. You will be happily exhausted after visiting the Tate Modern and British Museum, taking a coach to Stonehenge, doing a London bus tour at night, riding the London eye, seeing a show at the South Bank Underbelly festival, spending hours at the Tower of London, listening to the speakers in Hyde Park, and having tea in a tea room/vintage shop that used to be a horse stable in the heart of Camden Market. (There's nothing particularly amusing here - just using this bullet as a diary of what we did so I can refer to it later as I remember nothing because I'm old - see #1 above.)

9. You will realize how much better connected your child is than you are when she runs into three kids from her junior high on the streets of London. You know, just like we all did when we were 13...

We also visited Foamhenge at Cox Farms last year. We are big fans of henges. 

10.   You will be a little sad you missed the royal baby by a few weeks because seriously...how much fun would it have been to be in town when that happened and celebrate some happy news for a change?

And a pic of my husband to prove he was also there.
Cheers, London!
================================================================

For what we learned, Indonesia and Hong Kong, click here
For what we learned, Costa Rica, click here
For what we learned, Italy, click here
For what we learned, Iceland, Belgium, and the Netherlands, click here
For what we learned, Bahamas, click here
For what we learned, France and Morocco, remind me to get off my ass and finish the post I started last year.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Finance Schminance

Captain Spreadsheet has scheduled about a thousand appointments with our financial planners of late, as they have some kind of scenario tool where you can type in variables and it lets you know how soon you'll run out of money based on your input. I have not seen my husband this excited about anything possibly ever and every day he talks about new scenarios and variables and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. (I requested they run a scenario to indicate how soon I'll run out of patience based on the amount of meetings we have with our financial planners, but they politely declined that request.)

For the latest meeting, I dialed in rather than attending in person. During this appointment, I could not see a graph the financial planner was sharing, so my husband helpfully took a photo and sent it to me. To wit:

This appears to indicate there is a 92% chance we have $82 million dollars.
Or there's a 50% chance of a full moon. I may want to pay more attention to what they were discussing.
Or how to read graphs.

Because I wanted him to know I appreciated the gesture and was taking this seriously, I added some of my own notes and immediately sent it back to him:


I think there's a 92% chance I'll be attending the next meeting in person,
Brutalism

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Wholesome Family Fun

Recently while watching a scuba diver in a tank at the Virginia Marine Science Museum:

Speaker: "Okay, kids -- next, the scuba diver is going to show us his equipment."

Mr. Brutalism (quietly, to me): "I didn't realize it was that kind of show."

I'm a Simple Gal(lagher)

I wrote something recently and as always, ran it by my editor (Mr. Brutalism) for his assessment. 

He was fine with it except for the last line, which he felt was veering into the "cheap laugh" category by using profanity.

When I responded that I thought it was not too far over the line and effectively got the laugh, he replied, "What's next? Smashing watermelons?"

Peepsles are Back!

The Washington City Paper rocks! In the three years they've been running the Peeps Diorama contest (having taken it over from the Washington Post, a publication that has no appreciation for talent), I've placed three times - most recently, with the 2019 creation, 'Peepsles are Back!' featuring a clinic offering measles immunizations. The healthy, pink Peeps with their tiny Peeps band-aids covering their inoculation sites are leaving the clinic, while the sickly, pale pink, measles-infected anti-vaxxer Peeps are protesting.





The concept was 100% my daughter's - she was inspired the moment she saw new cotton-candy-flavored Peeps that were pale pink with blue speckles. And from there, complete monopolization of the kitchen table, micro management, and sleep deprivation began. 

As a bonus, we had to schlep the diorama into the District to the City Paper office - and while en route, I ran into a friend I have not seen in years:
When you deliver a Peeps diorama to the Washington City Paper
and randomly run into an old friend on the street who is now some kind
of big-deal lobbyist and realize just how much your paths have diverged...
Now, we wait and see where we placed. And if we don't - I know who to hire to lobby on my behalf next year.

UPDATE: We came in third! Even after forgetting to promote this on social media so our friends and family would feel obligated to vote for our diorama! Perhaps there is no need for a big-deal lobbyist, after all. 

Previous wins are listed below:

·        2018 – 6th place in the Washington City Paper contest with “Peeper Curry is Awed by Marshmallow Obama at the National Peeptrait Gallery”
·        2017 – 3rd place in the Washington City Paper contest with “Peep Haring as Photographed by Annie Peepovitz”

The Butt of the Joke

Because we live in close proximity to Washington, DC, we make an effort to go into the city every year to see the cherry blossoms when they're in bloom.

Taken by the kid after two donuts. 
Because we also live in close proximity to a 13-year-old, we need to come up with bribes to get her out of bed and into the city early to beat the inevitable cherry blossom crowds. This year, we went with Duck Donuts - delicious made-for-you-and-served-warm donuts to encourage her to get in the car at 6:45am.

Our plan worked, so after a quick donut stop, we headed into the District. And even though we've lived in this area for a million years, we completely forgot to check and see if any events might affect parking or access.

Although, to be fair, there is not usually much happening in this sleepy little burg.

As soon as we got close, we noticed many of the streets we wanted to drive down were blocked, and then we saw the hordes of runners because of course the annual Cherry Blossom 10-mile run was underway. After much searching, we finally found a parking spot about a mile away and trekked toward the tidal basin. As we got close, we realized there was no way we were getting to the tidal basin, unless we wanted to cross the runners' route and risk being stampeded by and creating obstacles for the runners. We did not - so we stood in place and cheered, screaming things like "Good job, unicorn pants" to a couple wearing pants with a unicorn print, and "I ate two donuts this morning and you're running 10 miles - you are so much better than me!" We had fun, although not as much fun as this guy:
Negative motivation is still motivation.
When there was a break in runners, we crossed and took our obligatory cherry blossom photos, then headed back to the car. During the drive home, I happened to glance at my daughter in the back seat who, at the moment I looked back, was opening the donut box and licking the donut icing that had dripped into the box, getting icing on her nose, chin, and hair in the process. I commented, "Well, those cotillion classes have certainly paid off...this is a delightful display, lid-licker..."

Because she's 13 and likes to correct every single thing I ever say, she snarkily retorted while rolling her eyes, "It's not the lid, Mom, it's the bottom of the box."

To which I snarkily retorted, "Fine, bottom-licker."

...and sometimes these posts just write themselves.

Other pics from our excursion with the bottom-licker: