Monday, January 9 2012
location: near Sligo Creek Park, Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland
This morning I managed to get some work done for my new web development job, which (as with all web development jobs) I can do from anywhere that has a good internet connection. At Gretchen's parents' place, there was the added benefit of good monitors to plug into my netbook, expanding its desktop by two megapixels. It's amazing that little computer with its anemic single-core Atom processor can generate so much video. True, that netbook tends to stall when I have more than seven or eight windows open, but to the extent that I need that many windows open reflects how spoiled I've become.
As I worked, I sipped black tea, which had surprisingly little effect on me given that I've kicked (for the time being) my caffeine habit.
Today's vacation activities would be happening down "in the District." We took the dogs and drove down to a canine recreational opportunity we'd visited before called Shaw Dog Park. By DC standards, at least, it was cold and blustery day and there were occasional bursts of flurries, so Shaw only had one dog to enthusiastically greet us when we arrived. But soon there were others, many of them a great deal more energetic than our somewhat elderly dogs. We were chatting for awhile with a woman who works from home helping educational institutions with their grant writing (or something like that; I probably have it completely wrong, like when someone describes my work as "web design").
We had lunch at Sticky Fingers, the entirely vegan deli/bakery where we'd got our snacks on our way to the Rally to Keep Fear Alive. (Sticky Fingers once won a cupcake bakeoff against non-vegan opponents on Cupcake Wars.) The chili was great, but the deli sandwich was kind of meh. I've perfected vegan sandwiches tailored to the peculiarities of my specific taste buds, and I really shouldn't be eating the mainstream kind targeted at the average consumer.
I've been in need of some new clothes, particularly trousers, for months, so after lunch we found our way into a nearby mall and went into the Marshalls, what appeared to be the only clothes retailer. I found a few trousers off the rack and tried them on in the changing room, whereupon I had a somewhat disturbing realization: I've grown too fat for the usual 32-inch-waistband trousers I normally buy. Evidently this is still only a problem when the trousers are freshly-purchased (they must slacken slightly afterwards or else none of my existing pants would fit me), though I had been feeling a desire to unbutton my trousers during the long drive down from New York the other day. In the end I was able to shoehorn my way into one pair of 32-inch trousers, the only pair that size in the store that weren't hideous (they had much better selection in the 30-inch-waistband section), but in so doing I had to resolve to do something in the near future to reduce my calorie-to-exercise ratio. I'd known my youthful metabolism couldn't possibly last forever, but honestly I didn't expect to discover the fruits of its decline while trying on clothes. It's somehow more humiliating that way, especially when your wife is there to tsk-tsk or otherwise tell you the choice you've just made is somehow flawed. (Oddly, though, Gretchen never picked up on the tightness of these new trousers, and I decided to keep that to myself.)
Back at Gretchen's parents' place, we had some downtime punctuated with the need to give Marie (aka "the Baby") a bath in the sink. She's old cat and is having increasing trouble just keeping herself perfectly clean. When she smells too much like "poo," Gretchen gives her a bath. She fights and yowls the whole time, but in the end her hair is softer and shinier than it ever normally gets and her dandruff is temporarily cured. Today Gretchen used baby shampoo, which seemed fitting.
I stayed behind while Gretchen went out to some poetry function down in the District.
Gretchen gave the dogs a walk down in Sligo Creek Park after she came home and, afterwards, reported an interesting sighting. She'd been calling for Eleanor (who'd been running around off-leash), and when she eventually appeared (coming out of a neighbor's yard), she was followed at some distance by another dog. This other dog looked like a German Shepherd, and when Eleanor noticed it, she charged after it, sending it retreating into the Sligo Creek Valley. Gretchen realized that this hadn't actually been a conventional dog; it had been a coyote, the Native American dog. It seemed to give her a bit of an ominous thrill; not only had there been no coyotes in Sligo Creek Park when she was a kid, there hadn't been any deer either. (Authorities recently posted a sign advertising their plan to "letally remove" excess deer from Sligo Creek.)
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