We experienced homecoming weekend in a different sense, traveling to Richmond for a parents’ birthday celebration, then further south to Williamsburg.  Going south in general makes me feel more at home, and I welcome the inclusion of sweet tea on the menu again.  While we were away, Georgetown celebrated its traditional homecoming weekend, with the football game taking center stage.  At William and Mary, the football game and coinciding parents weekend drew the crowds to the outlet malls, so after window shopping at our favorite stores we turned back toward the starting point, deciding to avoid the masses that would inevitably invade Colonial Williamsburg.  So after looking forward to a weekend of fall flavors, including the wonderful gingerbread cakes that defined my childhood trips, to the area, we went home empty handed.  I can almost taste the nostalgia.






The Art of Looking Up

These perfect end-of-summer weekends require outdoor activities, so this weekend we made a return trip to the National Cathedral (its doors are wide open on Sundays) and signed up for a gargoyle tour.  The tour started on the seventh floor, itself replete with views of the city from all angles and nearby framed and labeled images so you can identify common sights.  From the small auditorium, we learned the difference between a gargoyle and grotesque, identified the architectural details we would need to know outside, and viewed several of the 112 gargoyles from their most advantageous angles.

View from the 7th Story

The gargoyles appear on three of the four sides of the Cathedral, the newer sides.  They date from the fundraising stage, where patrons of a certain amount could commission a gargoyle, and several commissioned pairs – such as the good and evil grandsons.  Others depict typically businessmen, from the lawyer to the dentist.  The politician is present, as is the elephant and donkey.  Others immortalize the real-live stone carvers in caricatures, and one gable remains a blank slate, or stone in this case, still in block form as a memorial to the one person who died during construction of the structure.  The elaborate carvings range from the traditional dragons and mythical creatures to the common lizard, snake, and frog.  The scariest shows a skeletal creature being devoured by a serpent, its coils visible from the underside.   The cutest takes the shape of a dog, modeled after its real-life counterpart and curled tightly on the edge as if scared of heights.  The most unique, and possible most elusive to find, is Darth Vader.

We signed up for the tour upon reading this unique detail, but even after adjusting my binoculars, I still couldn’t be sure that I had focused in on this unique character.  Fortunately, the lower gargoyles are easy to spot from the grounds, even with the chain-link fence still in place from last year’s earthquake.  The damage from this event remains visible – from a twisted turret to a headless gargoyle.  That was part of the tour too.

Tug O’ War between Summer and Fall

Fall arrived this morning, with weather cool enough to open the windows and turn of the AC.  But summer still tugs at the days, and technical we still have at least two weeks until the start of the new season.  We’ve already embraced weekend football games (on TV due to yesterday’s storms), morning runs through the trails, and of course, pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks.  I wish I could find an at-home brew that comes close to that taste!

My husband keeps remind me that all those pumpkin-flavored things that I love this time of year aren’t really made from pumpkin at all, but it’s the spices that define their deliciousness.  That’s why I could make pumpkin cookies from a mix last weekend – just as good as if the base at come from a can.  Pumpkin is one of those foods that provides texture and a great base, but it’s the spices that matter.  So I’m happy to discover the following ideas for recreating the coffee creation for crisp fall mornings.

Now if I can convince the dog to go for a morning run without trying to pull me back to bed.

Dog Days of Summer

The dcist reported this week that some city pools will open their gates later this month for the Fourth Annual Doggie Day Swim.  Dogs can dive in on October 8, or if baseball is more their style, Nationals Park sells outfield seats for $8 for Sept 22.  Unfortunately, the first option is a little too active for my dog, and the second is too much of a spectator sport.  She considers herself part of the tennis-ball set.  Plus, let’s not forget the challenge of getting a dog to either of these events. The natural method is to walk, but both the pools and the ballpark are several miles away.  So we would resort to driving our car across the city and paying for parking, or taking a dog-friendly cab, another expensive prospect.

These dog days of summer should include a take your dog on public transit day.  It’s a natural accompaniment to the already popular take your dog to work day that occurs earlier in the summer.  And our dog would fully endorse this day.  She already looks longingly at the metrobus every time it pulls up to a stop along our walk, and she’s lunged for the doors a few times, hoping to catch a ride.  We think her affinity for public transportation stems from the afternoons that she’s met one of us at the bus stop.  The bus brings us home, so it must go some where equally awesome. In this case, I know she would enjoy the ride more than the destination.