Blessing and Curse

13590396_656072581210333_1237927477030822866_nHonestly (and I know this was meant to be funny, but I can’t help it), I think it’s the latter. Humans in general, and Americans in particular, don’t have a great track record of being awesome in the aggregate, and despite what the Republicans will try to sell you, we’ve NEVER had our collective shit together.

I think of this the same way I think of illness; I am not sure we really DO have more incidents of cancer or heart disease per se…well, yes, I do; see processed foods and polluted air and water, but work with me for a second. What I’m getting at is that we have significantly better detection practices and can find those diseases sooner and better than we ever have before. More people have access to screenings so, naturally, we’re going to find more incidents of these problems.

The racism (and, worse, the violence it spawns) are NOT new nor, I think, is the prevalence of it. What IS new is our “detection practices.” Masses of people now have video cameras in their pockets that double as computers and mass communication devices. Now, instead of being a few column inches on page 9 of the local paper, the beatings/murders that happen in little towns and faraway places are being broadcast to the public across the country and the world. Think about it; unless you lived in the immediate neighborhood, would you EVER have heard about Treyvon if it hadn’t been for social media? Sanford is a nothing town in Florida. Neither party was famous (though shame on us for making Treyvon’s killer famous after the fact) or noteworthy in any way. There is no reason to think that we’d ever have heard about it. Sure, it would have been news in the greater Sanford area, but I, way up here in New England, would likely never have heard Treyvon’s name.

Social media is both a blessing and a curse. Blessing in that we get better access to more information (and it’s harder to keep shit from the public now, though a lot of it still manages to get quashed). Curse because any idiot with a smartphone can play; there’s no IQ or minimum decency requirement.

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The 3/4 Chili Adventure, Part III

Hello, Washington DC!

We got up and had a bit of breakfast, then made our way to the shuttle to take us to the King Street Metro station and our train into the city.  This time, we bought Metro cards (we usually get the paper passes), and I’m glad we ponied up the extra $2 a card for them; they worked like a charm and were easy to keep track of.  Not only that, but I can refill them when I go back to DC this summer with a friend, but more on that later…

Monday’s weather was gorgeous; mostly sunny and warm.  We started our day with a trip into the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.  This gorgeous museum starts you on the top floor – where you can see a short film and look at some amazing sculptures and bead work – and winds you down to the ground level.  I really enjoyed this exhibit, but the whole museum really is lovely; if you get the chance to go, do.

We realized that we were starting to get hungry, so we made our way across the Mall (which is all ripped up; they’re replacing a bunch of sections with new drainage and traffic-resistant grass) to the National Gallery of Art.  A long time ago, we discovered that the National Gallery is a great place to have lunch; unlike many of the other museums, this place isn’t a real hot spot for school groups, so one is much less likely to encounter crowds (and, if one does, they tend to not be the screaming, frenetic variety), and the cafeteria is varied and fresh.  We had a lovely, relaxing lunch by the waterfall, took some time in the gift shop, then made our way to the West building to find the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Shaw Memorial.  It is my favorite part of the National Gallery, and I make a point of visiting it every time we come (and I go to see the original every time I’m in Boston, too).

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Photo credit goes to Punk, who managed to catch her father taking a shot of the memorial, too…

For all the times I’ve gone to DC, I’ve never made it into the National Archives.  Every single time I’ve been, the line to get in has wound around the building and I’ve decided that my desire to avoid those kinds of crowds has overpowered my desire to see the founding documents in person.  Just for kicks, though, we headed over that way to see what the wait would be like.  We took a couple of selfies in front of the building, then made our way to the far side entrance door and…..

…walked right in.  I mean, literally.  Right.  In.  There was no one in line.  The security people were standing around chatting.  RIGHT.  IN.  Needless to say, we walked through the metal detectors with our jaws hanging open, feeling like we’d won a contest or something.

There were people in the exhibit, but it was perfectly manageable.  I spent some time reading the information about how documents are preserved, found out a lot about the Faulkner murals in the Rotunda, and was surprised to find that the founding documents were much more faded than I expected them to be (I’m so used to seeing reproductions that the originals were a little startling; I had trouble making out a lot of the words, and I know a lot of them by heart).

After seeing the Big Three – the Declaration of Independence (“never has a war been so courteously declared. It was on parchment with calligraphy, and “Your Highness, we beseech you on this day in Philadelphia to bite me, if you please.” – Sam, The West Wing), the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights – I made my way into the Records of Rights exhibit and really kind of loved tracing the history of trying to walk our talk (spoiler alert; we’re no where NEAR there yet…).

So, one of the things we were going to do this trip was conduct a side-by-side comparison.  Our Five Guys just started selling milkshakes, which *I* think are fantastic but which Mr. Chili thinks are not quite as good as those served by Potbelly’s.  Since we don’t have a Potbelly’s at home (we only recently got Five Guys), we decided to take the opportunity during our visit to DC to do a taste-test.  After the Archives, we hoofed it to L’Enfant Plaza, where the respective shops are in reasonably close proximity, to settle the matter.

I headed right to Five Guys; Mr. Chili went left to Potbelly’s.  Sadly, though, only one of us came back with a shake; the Five Guys at that location didn’t make shakes, but told us that the shop on 14th street did, so we’re going to have try again tomorrow.

Shake consumed, we got back on the Metro and headed for home.  Once there, we got in the car and headed for the outlet mall up the street so I could get a bathing suit – the hotel has an indoor pool and sauna, and I forgot to pack a suit.  While we were out, we stopped at a grocery store for frozen pizzas, some salad from the salad bar, and three pints of ice cream; Phish Food for me, Chocolate Overload for Punk, and Hagen Dazs chocolate peanut butter for Mr. Chili.  We’re on vacation, after all…

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The 3/4 Chili Adventure, Part II

Today was a bit of a hodgepodge, but it was a good day, regardless.  We woke and had a lovely breakfast with Dudley (who was cooking bacon by the time I got out of the shower.  I was lured downstairs by the siren song of sizzling bacon fat.  Mmmmm!).  While his missus was at church, he and Mr. Chili went to smack a few golf balls around while Punk and I generally lazed about.

Around noon or so, we packed up, said goodbye, and headed to the mall Mr. Chili had scoped out because its Sears had a Land’s End (and my sweetie is in love with the Land’s End men’s department).  Sadly, though, all their cool weather stuff had either sold or was put away; he couldn’t find a good sweater (which reminds me; we should go to OUR Sears to snag the sweater he hoped to buy today…).  We doodled around the mall for a bit and found an Old Navy which DID have some things he liked, so between that and a Charlotte Russe for Punk, we did okay in our shopping safari.

We had a yummy lunch at a Cheesecake Factory (because we don’t have one handy to Chez Chili; the nearest one is an hour away, which is both a terrible shame and a very, very good thing..) then he made our way to our apartment at National Harbor.   We checked in and walked around the neighborhood for a bit, taking in the last of a wine and food festival and enjoying the warm air.  Supper was our Cheesecake Factory leftovers while watching the Outlander episode Mr. Chili figured out how to stream on to the living room t.v. (because he’s brilliant that way).

Tomorrow, we head to DC for our first day of sightseeing!

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The 3/4 Chili Adventure, Part 1

We left the Chili homestead yesterday morning, right on time at about 8:30.  After a quick stop at the market to recover some snacks Punk had left at work the night before, we were on our way.

We had a great trip.  Mr. Chili had us all mapped out, including where we would stop for lunch (Bertucci’s in Waterbury, CT) and gas (the Prime station in Clinton, NJ).

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Despite having spent a little more time at the gas station than we planned (I left my sunglasses on the picnic table where we got a little air and stretched a bit), we landed at Dudley’s house exactly when Mr. Chili said we would.

We were met with a LOVELY surprise when we found that Dudley’s mom and dad, Mama V and Papa T, were visiting, too.  I LOVE these people; Papa is sharp and funny, and Mama V is one of my heroes; she’s kind, she’s energetic, she’s generous and genuine.  I want to be her when I grow up.  Being able to spend some time in her presence was the icing on my day.  My only regret is that I didn’t think to take a picture of us together.  Blah.

Mr. and I had a yummy breakfast with Dudley this morning, and now the gentlemen are off playing at the driving range while Punk and I laze about.  On the way out to National Harbor and our apartment later this evening, we may do a bit of shopping; it turns out that the weather forecast has changed since we packed, so we need a couple of sweaters.

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*The “3/4” is a reference to the fact that Beanie is in Italy, so this adventure consists of me, Mr. Chili, and Punkin’ Pie.  Bean’s got crappy wifi access, apparently, but when (if) she gets through, I’ll post her updates here.

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Beanie on the Move!!

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Miss Bean has taken off!

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Chilis on the Move

Today and tomorrow are big travel days for the Chili clan.  Bean left this afternoon for her Latin Club trip to Italy (!) and the rest of us are taking a road trip to DC tomorrow morning.

When Punkin Pie went to England, Scotland, and Ireland with the high school marching band a few years ago, Daddy and I took Bean to DC (we had Sweet Pea with us that week, too).  We each had a wonderful time in our respective adventures, and it felt right to take Punk to DC while Bean was off stomping about in old Roman ruins this coming week.

I’m planning to post here each day as a means of reestablishing my writing habits; I really do miss my writing practice, and I have decided that I love having documentation of our trips to look back on here.   I’m also hoping to post some of the pictures that Bean sends me during the week; the wonders of modern technology will make it pretty easy for us to communicate while she’s almost half a world away (yikes!).

Stay tuned!

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A Meaningless Meme

I’m going to try to get in the habit of writing more again, but I’m going to start with a meaningless meme that a friend posted on Facebook tonight.  Ready?

A – Age:
47

B – Biggest fear:
Unanticipated loss.  I’m okay – good, in fact – with death I can see coming.  Heart attacks, plane crashes, and kittens being run over?  Not so much.

C – Current time:
8:36pm EDT

D – Drink you last had:
green tea

E – Every day starts with:
a hot shower and good hair conditioner.

F – Favorite song:
Today? I Would Die 4U

G – Ghosts, are they real?:
I don’t believe in “ghosts,” but I do believe that the energy that animates us does not die when our bodies do.

H – Hometown:
I grew up in Peabody, MA

I – In love with:
My husband, chocolate, warm weather

J – Jealous of:
people who love their jobs. I want that to be me again.  I have been deeply unhappy in my workplace.

K – Killed someone?:
I’ve had to give a bunch of pets back to the universe. Does euthanasia count?

L – Last time you cried?:
Two weeks ago

M – Middle name:
Ann – no ‘e’

N – Number of siblings:
1 biological (and she’s awesome) and one chosen (he’s one of my soulmates).

O – One wish:
financial security

P – Person you last called:
aforementioned sister

Q – Question you’re always asked:
Why do you CARE so much?!

R – Reason to smile:
My cats

S – Song last sang:
I Would Die 4U

T – Time you woke up:
5:33am EDT

U – Underwear color:
White

V – Vacation destination:
DC! We leave on Saturday

W – Worst habit:
Facebook

X – X-Ray’s you’ve had:
Mostly teeth, but I have had my noggin and my spine x-rayed

Y – Your favorite food:
Oh, there’s SO much to be grateful for. Butter is always near the top of the list. Pizza. Chocolate. A good burger can be sublime.

Z – Zodiac sign:
Capricorn (and I’m told that I’m a ‘good’ one, whatever that means. I guess my personality is in line with the characterization of Capricorn, but I don’t know much about the zodiac).

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