At long last, I have heeded the requests of my mom and sisters and started blogging about the forthcoming addition to our family. I decided to go ahead and start a new blog rather than do it here. So now you can find me at:

http://babydistrict.wordpress.com

The big thing in life now is pregnancy and baby, of course. But I’ll also blog about life in DC, food and travel (well, at least for the next two months … until we travel no longer).

I pledge to post at least once a week when I am in town.

The sun is shining today for the first time in I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG. (ok, maybe it has only been one week. felt like a lifetime.)

This means I could finally see the leaves on the trees…kind of like seeing the forest for the trees, but in reverse. If the forest is still stressful, maybe just focus on how pretty one leaf is.

Anywhim, this is what I have to report on the foliage on the National Mall:

There are beautiful fiery red, gold and orange trees down by the World War II memorial and the Lady Bird Johnson memorial grove.

The large trees on the mall are still at the beginning of their transformation. I estimate they are at about 20 percent golden (what kind of trees are those, anyway? JZ? I know you know).

I think of Marine Corps Marathon weekend as the usual peak for leaf colors in DC. The ‘thon is next weekend, so we’ll see if the trees keep up this year.

pumpkins

A couple years ago, about this time of year, I excitedly bought several pumpkins at a farm stand. When we got home, I realized the small pumpkins would line up perfectly in our windowsill. As I placed them there, I had a fleeting thought, “What if some kid grabs them and throws them at our house?” But my admiration of their friendliness and homey-ness quickly supplanted that disturbing vision, and the pumpkins stayed in the windowsill. At least for a little while.

The next morning, the pumpkins were gone.

The good part, I suppose, is that no one threw them at our house. There was no trace of those pumpkins.

Lately, I feel like time is moving in some crazy vortex and leaving me behind. I’ve been caught up in a lot of different things, not all of them pleasant, and suddenly  I find we’re in mid-to-late October…? WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? The last time I looked, it was late summer. But that does not appear to be the case anymore: it is cold and rainy and I cannot, in fact, remember the last time I actually saw the sun. Today I wore a hat, gloves and a coat (mostly because I was sitting outside all day — such layering would not have been totally necessary for a brief stroll).

Clearly, we are not in summer anymore.

Anywhim, in an effort to actually tune into the world and seasons around me  – and I dunno, maybe appreciate them, rather than just glowering in a dark funk with no sunlight   — I am trying to stop and recognize the positive aspects of autumn. For me, this means: drinking apple cider, making tasty recipes that use squash, and noticing the leaves. It also meant buying a large pumpkin on Saturday.

But now the question is, where to put this friendly pumpkin? It would look nicest on on front steps (that is, if it ever stops raining. and I think it is entirely possible that it may NEVER stop raining). But will someone steal it?

I’ve decided this could be a test. Perhaps the measure of gentrification is how long it takes for your pumpkin to go missing…

The pumpkin test! I will let you know how it goes.

It’s his shadow! My cat is chasing his shadow! How adorable and cartoon-like of him. Aww, bless him.

Our cat is currently darting back and forth in the living room, jumping up and batting at some invisible foe. I see two options:

1) My cat is crazy.

OR

2) There is an invisble phantom in our house.

If it’s the latter one, I sure hope he catches it.

In my last failed attempt to reinvigorate this blog, I mentioned that once I get out of the habit of blogging, it is very difficult to start again. Plus, now there is facebook, where one can mini-blog in sentence soundbites oh-so-easily. (And twitter, but I am apparently too old for that. I just can’t take on one more new technological communication tool.)

I can’t really keep up with facebook AND blogging … so I had basically given up on this project, thinking perhaps I would start again if something new and dramatic started in our life (like a baby, or an adoption, or, say, a move to the Congo).

Nothing particularly NEW and DRAMATIC is happening. But my older sister asked me to update my blog. And, a true product of my birthorder, I pretty much do what she tells me to do.

Here. I updated my blog.

Does this count? Happy now?

When I was little(r), I would consult my older sister for all things. For instance, when presented with unfamiliar food options, I would ask her first if I liked them. My parents tried to discourage this behavior, but I thought they were being unreasonable. I mean, my older sister KNEW if I would like something or not. So why take a risk on my own?

Thank you, sister, for protecting me from the dangers of a green bean.

At some point later in life, I developed my own sense of self.

I was together with my sisters last weekend, and somehow a story about Venus and Serena Williams kept coming up. My younger sister had heard or read an interview or book excerpt with Serena, in which she spoke of her love for her sister, Venus. She recounted one of their first tournaments as young girls. Venus won first place and a gold trophy. Serena came in 2nd or 3rd, with a silver or bronze. Serena was really disappointed. Venus noticed how sad she was and told her, “You know, I like silver (or bronze?) better anyway. Do you want to trade trophies?” They did and Serena says that gold trophy is one she is still proudest of today.

So, the funny part of the story for us was that my older sister — who is very competitive and the sportiest of us all by far — noted that this was all very nice, but that she would never do something like that. She would never be the sacrificial Venus sister. And silly Serena, to be proudest of “the one trophy she did not actually deserve.”

My older sister is not a “Here, you have my trophy” kind of person.

But both of my sisters (and my parents, of course) are wonderful, and I am really grateful for them. I’ve been reminded of my love and gratitude for my family again during some recent less-than-wonderful times  – which I could not have endured were it not for my sisters in my cheering section. When Ned broke his femur, my family — although far away — was on the case with phone calls, care packages and a weekend of care from my older sister and her husband. My sisters have been unrelentlessly supportive as I’ve dealt with my own set of (mysterious) health issues this past year. And when my grandmother died two weeks ago, it was my younger sister and I crying on the phone together at 1 a.m., my older sister and I standing together before my grandmother’s casket just before the funeral, and the three of us laughing hysterically (with the rest of my family) that night as we recounted some of our favorite moments with my grandparents.

When I’m murky on a childhood memories, my sisters can fill in the blanks. And when I forget myself, my sisters remember. Thank you.

My across-the-street neighbor had her house painted two weeks ago, which set off a chain-reaction of house paintings. When Wilfredo the Paint Man is done with our house, he will have completed at least five houses within three blocks.

Note to painters looking for jobs: find a gentrifying neighborhood where most of the houses look really junky with old peeling paint. Ask a fair price, do a good job. Watch the job offers FLOOD to you.

The transformation of our across-the-street neighbor’s house was impressive. It went from shabby, paint-peeling, dirty gray to a clean, smooth, dark purplish blue. It looks fantastic … and I am not a person who generally gets excited about purple houses. Inspired by the sparkley new paint job, my neighbor bought new plants and chairs, cleaned her porch and has plans to take down some fencing. Suddenly with the new paint job, all that junky stuff stuck out like a sore thumb.

We had been going back-and-forth about getting a paint job. While our house is nicely painted and re-done on the inside, it looks pretty terrible from the outside. It is light grey, with bumpy peeling paint … and some very charming patches with no paint at all. Obviously, it needs a paint job. But then we thought, there is something to be said for camouflage — no one can tell our house is nice from the outside. Burglar deterrent.

In the end, we gave in. It was so easy. There Wilfredo was, doing his great job up and down the street. Then suddenly there he was, ringing our doorbell and saying he would start the next day. So if the weather holds up, we could have a newly painted house in a few days!

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