Archive for December, 2007

Back to Hot Springs

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

John and I celebrated Christmas morning with our traditional champagne (this year mixed with pomegranate juice) then later in the afternoon I flew home to Hot Springs. John went to a classmate’s house for dinner that afternoon and said it was a lot of fun. Mom and I spent Wednesday shopping for more things for her new house, then she had surgery on her carotid artery on Thursday. Luckily, it went well, and I was able to bring her home on Friday morning. She’s been a good patient, and it was a good opportunity to visit with my good friends Ann and Pamela. We also had a great visit with my cousin Alison, who came over Friday night for a nice visit.

Besides taking care of Mom, I’ve been running errands and trying to get things put away at the new house, etc. Lots to do, and I’m anxious to get back to DC to rest! But I’m glad I was able to be here to help some.

Before I left DC, John and I went to see the movie, The Kite Runner. It was an incredible book and the movie was wonderful, too.

Full swing

Monday, December 24th, 2007

John and Jimmi at the Spanish department party

We had a couple of holiday parties this week, starting with our Spanish department party on Wednesday afternoon – a huge potluck with lots to eat and drink. I had to miss a party at a classmate’s house on Saturday night because I wasn’t feeling well (just a cold – John did go to the party and had a great time), but I rallied to go to a wonderful dinner party last night.

The dinner last night was interesting because it was given by two Senior Foreign Service Officers (also a tandem couple, like John and me). The woman was one of my examiners when I took the oral assessment in Chicago last year – we’ve run into them several times recently and sort of hit it off. It was a fun party and delicious food. The men were in suits or tuxes and the women had on sparkly things – it was fun to get dressed up and go to a “grown up” party. She had the table set with more crystal and silverware than I knew what to do with, but at the same time it was very comfortable and fun.

I’ve been trying to make it to the twice-a-week free yoga classes that our apartment complex has (I really need it after all I ate last night). I’ve missed yoga with my Nuvell friends. It’s really made me feel better, especially since I’m sitting in class so much during the day.

Tuesday was a marathon Spanish day. I had a progress evaluation in the afternoon, so that was basically a one-on-one two-hour class (I’m on track to finish in February, thank goodness). Afterwards, I met my Spanish buddy near the Rosslyn Metro and spent over an hour with him (he speaks English to me, and I reply in Spanish). Then John picked me up and we went with Jimmi to dinner at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant – we spoke in Spanish through dinner to help Jimmi practice for her final evaluation later in the week (she passed). By the end of the night, my brain was pooped.

Dave and Ramona at the Spanish party

Getting back in the swing of things

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

John at the Smithsonian American Art Gallery 

The first few days of the week were difficult – I was tired from my trip to Hot Springs, plus we changed Spanish professors and it took me several days to get used to the new instructor. But, I think I’m finally getting back in the swing of things.

I signed up for a foreign language exchange program through Georgetown, so I met a gentleman from Spain on Tuesday night to chat. We split our time between English, which he is trying to learn, and Spanish. We plan to meet once a week.

Last night, we went to a fun dinner party at our friends Rob and Della’s apartment here at the Oakwood.

Today, we went to the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum – I especially wanted to go back to see the folk art exhibit and the modern art gallery. Both were wonderful. One of my favorite pieces in the folk art gallery is by Howard Finster. The modern art wing was also wonderful, and of course, I’m always happy when I get to see works by Georgia O’Keefe (below). The photo of John above was taken in the courtyard in front of a waterfall of sorts – it only has about an inch incline, so it’s almost just a big puddle of water. Very cool.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Monday, December 10th, 2007

My Spanish class: Dan, Matt, Giovanni (front), Eric and Ashley 

We had our first snow in DC on Wednesday. It didn’t stick very much, but it was very pretty to watch through the window of Spanish class.

Last Sunday, John and I spent the day at the Mexican film festival at the Museum of Natural History. We saw a couple of good films – when it was over, we were some of the first people out of the auditorium – we went upstairs, thinking we’d go out the front door. But, the museum had closed while we were in the movie, so we were alone in the dark with that huge stuffed elephant in the lobby – it was sort of creepy! 

Friday was our last day with our Spanish teacher Giovanni (we rotate teachers every few weeks), so I took Bolivian pastries for breakfast, then we all went out to lunch together at a Peruvian restaurant. We also had a little Christmas celebration in the language school, where we butchered a few carols in Spanish.

I left the house Saturday morning at 5 AM for a whirlwind trip to Hot Springs to help Mom with the new house. The house is great and she seems really happy there. I had a few problems along the way…we couldn’t land in Little Rock due to fog, so we had to land in Memphis. I shared a car to Little Rock with three other people from our flight. The other woman in the car looked familiar to me – turns out it was Mindy, a woman John worked with at Systematics. The last time I saw her was at our house in Costa Rica – pretty funny. There was a younger guy riding with us who was from Mountain Home. When he heard my name, he asked if I was related to Ginger Crippen – his sister took piano lessons from her! Small world.

I finally got to Hot Springs around 3 PM, and immediately started shopping for new things for the house. I finally went to bed around midnight, only to be woken up around 2AM. Mom’s cat was sick and we really thought he was about to die (he’s 16), so we called the vet and were at the emergency animal hospital for a few hours (the cat’s fine now). After a few hours of sleep, I made a second trip to Walmart for more things, and kept working.

As I was waving bye to Mom around 2PM Sunday afternoon, I noticed she couldn’t open her front door – the storm door had locked behind us automatically! We had to call a locksmith to come let her in – once I was sure he was within 5 minutes from her house, I left to make a mad dash for my flight in Little Rock. I made it, thank goodness, and somehow managed an on-time arrival back in DC around 10PM. Needless to say, I was pooped!

Mom’s new house

Art, art, art

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

Last Sunday I went to the National Gallery of Art to see the Edward Hopper exhibit – it was fantastic. I also saw a great photography exhibit that reminded me of Mike Bobo – lots of old, fun photographs. John was a little under the weather, so hopefully I can get him back to see some of the other incredible paintings at the museum. Of course, they also have several works by Georgia O’Keefe, my favorite artist.

Yesterday I went to the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum to see a Mexican film. The film was so-so, but it was a good reason to go to the museum. I didn’t have a lot of time, but did get a chance to take a very quick walk-through of their folk art wing, where they have a Howard Finster (the guy from Georgia who did some of the Talking Heads’ album covers). I’ll definitely go back there to spend more time.

We’ve had a busy weekend, starting with happy hour on Thursday. Friday night we took a friend from class with us to see a magic/comedy show that was very entertaining, and last night, we went to see the Broadway touring production of Avenue Q with several classmates (very funny!). On the way home, we stopped at a going-away party for a friend getting ready to leave for Mexico City, so it ended up being a late night.