My Sauna, er, Summer Vacation

This summer’s trip was to Washington DC.     We built the trip around a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds concert, which meant we were crazy enough to go venturing into the craziest humidity zone known to man.   (Ok, that’s the entire South, and I did live in Florida for a summer, and I really did know better ahead of time.)

We flew into Reagan for the first time, which was exciting because it’s right on the Metro.    So naturally, we managed to get picked up and dropped off by car, after being excited about the public transport options.    We arrived on Tuesday, just in time to stop for dinner at the Quarry House Tavern in Silver Springs, which still has the best burgers.

Our first full day was Wednesday, which turned out to be the humidity-pocalypse.    Like it really felt like walking into a wall upon exiting any air conditioning.   No, really felt like walking into a wall.   Our initial plan had been to wander around Georgetown.   One walk to the metro stop about five blocks away, and our plans quickly changed to Smithsonian!    We hit the Air and Space Museum, and went to the Planetarium!   (Narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson!).    There were hordes of screaming children, and we didn’t care!

Next door to Air and Space is the American Indian Museum, and C had mentioned that their dining hall was worth visiting, so we went there for lunch.    The Mitsitam cafe features native style cuisine from several regions in America, and while a touch pricy, was really good.    Definitely a different experience in Smithsonian dining.      After lunch, we stopped by the Hirshhorn Museum, which is, well, a little weird.    It’s all modern art and installations – not really our cup of tea.     At that point, the humidity got the best of us, and we headed back to a pre-concert nap.    (This was the day we discovered the joys of Uber.   I want Uber in Portland.)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds was a great show.     Very hard to explain if you’ve never heard of him.    It was also the most devoted fan base I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen the Cure).  Like watching the front of the house felt almost like an anthropological study of something.   All in all, a great night.

The next day was much nicer, weather wise.    We hit the National Art Gallery in the morning, and did lunch at the food trucks at L’Enfant Plaza.    I had a great banh mi from What the Pho?    Our trip to the Hirshhorn paid off here – it’s about a block away from L’Enfant, and has tables in the shade, with a breeze coming from the courtyard fountain.   I may never go inside again, but those tables are our new ace in the hole for food truck lunch.    We had macarons at Paul on our way out to C’s place, where we met with the BF’s cousins, who were coincidently in town, and had food and drinks at the Looking Glass.

The next day, we finally wandered around Georgetown.    There will be a separate picture post of that, but for food, we stopped at Moby Dick’s House of Kebab, because there isn’t much kebab up in Maine, and it’s called Moby Dick’s House of Kebab!    It’s a fast foodish sort of place, probably a little on the plain side, but good.    For some reason, we had a macaron theme to this trip, and were forced to stop at Macaroon Bee, which was next door to the place on Wisconsin Ave where we had some afternoon iced coffee.    Their passion fruit macarons were awesome.    Actually, they were all awesome (better than Paul, though that’s to be expected).     Dinner that night, with C and the cousins, was at the Heights in Columbia Heights, another place we’d been to before, and enjoyed again.

Saturday, we had a little time to kill before the big event, which lead to the discovery of my favorite light fixture ever.

This was at Taylor Gourmet, a great, fast sandwich shop.    Exactly what we needed at that point, as we were saving room for the main event that evening.

The main event was Cantler’s Riverside Inn in Annapolis.    It’s actually across the river from Annapolis proper, in a residential area, on a creek.    It’s the kind of place were you first line up to park, and then have to line up to get into the restaurant.     You then order a bunch of crabs, they dump them on the paper table-clothed picnic table in front of you, hand you a mallet, and you go.

One Claw Down
The aftermath

It was freaking fantastic.    I was covered in Old Bay and crab juice by the end, and crabs are so much work I’ll never feel the need to do it again, but if you go to Maryland and eat seafood, you need to find a place like this, and go once in your life.    It’s awesome.    We finished the evening with a wander around Annapolis and ice cream.    It was an incredible day.

Sunday was for winding down.   We had a great brunch at the Coupe, watched C play some soccer, and had a pot pie from Dangerously Delicious Pies.   We were on the plan at 10:00 that night, and taxied into Portland just shy of midnight.     All in all, it was a great vacation.


Cousin Kate – Georgette Heyer

2f6929d795871e6597a72786151434f414f4141Read for the Georgette Heyer Reading Challenge.

Miss Kate Malvern has taken a job as a governess after the death of her father has left her close to penniless, but she’s too pretty and too smart, and is quickly back in the home of her nurse, Sarah.    Kate has never met any of her parent’s family, as they all disowned Mr. and Mrs. Malvern, when she married down and his parents didn’t approve of the match.   But Sarah can’t stand to see Kate in dire straits, and writes to her father’s sister.

Aunt Minerva, aka Lady Broome, shortly arrives and whisks Kate away to her country estate, where she meets Sir Timothy, and her cousin Torquil.     Lady Broome is very kind, but Kate can tell that she’s been brought there for a reason.     When Torquil’s cousin Phillip Broome arrives, he confirms her suspicions that something is afoot.

I’ll admit, this story didn’t end up quite the way I thought it would.   I mean, the love story is obvious, but the denouement  once Minerva’s machinations are fully explained was a bit unexpected.    There are certain patterns you start to see when you read enough of Heyer’s work, and the ending to this one put it pleasantly outside those patterns.

Young Miles – Lois McMaster Bujold

Due to a botched attempt on his mother’s life while she was pregnant, Miles Vorkosigan was born with severely weakened bones, unable to walk without extensive surgeries, a member of a warrior caste on a planet that’s just emerged from isolation, and only a generation ago would have exposed Miles when he was born.

What Miles lacks in strength, he makes up in brains, and this omnibus has two books and a short story of his exploits early in life, both before the Barrayar academy, and just after he graduates.    They’re great stories.    Miles more or less happens into some insane adventures.   He’s way too smart for his own good, and can talk himself into or out of any situation.    When he’s kicked out of the academy, on a short visit off world to visit his grandmother, he manages to find himself in command of an entire mercenary fleet.     And that’s just the beginning of the story.

I can’t believe I haven’t read these books before.     I love Bujold’s fantasy, and her sci fi is just as good.

Knitting Notes

Ok, let’s try this again.    Here’s Hermoine Hearts Ron, take 2.    Well, maybe three.   There were two versions in the old yarn, but I suppose those were 1.0 and 1.5.

Oddly enough, I had cast on the original version in the correct needle size, or so I thought, because I swear I used size 2 16-inch circs.     Except I could not find them when I went back to my needle bag for a second go.    I thought maybe I’d managed the next size up, but when I tried with this yarn, I couldn’t join the circle.     Very strange.

This is Classic Elite MountainTop Vista, in the Wolf colorway.    (The entire line is natural, undyed wool.)     When I found this at the story (at a really great sale, so I have two other colorways as well), it looked the same size as the Cascade 220 Sport I almost bought, so I assume it was sport weight as well, but it’s categorized as worsted on Ravelry.    (I had no reception in Center Harbor, so I couldn’t check there.    Believe me, I tried.)     So hopefully that doesn’t end up being a bad thing.

Sewing Notes

Here’s the gift bag I made to go with the sweater and hat.

Still a work in progress with getting a ribbon sleeve that I like.   I at least hemmed this one a little better, but a way to completely hem it only occurred to be after I had it totally sewn.     So the next one will hopefully be perfect.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Tinker by Wooly Wormhead
Yarn: Classic Elite Renaissance in the Cardinal colorway
Needles: Size 7 circs

This pattern is great!    Super easy.   You’re just knitting a tube and grafting the ends together.    (It looks way better formed into hat shape.)     This may become my go to worsted baby hat pattern.

Knitting Notes

The Coffee Bean Cardi being a gift, I’ve also cast on a hat to go with it.   This is Tinker, by Wooly Wormhead, and I’m using more of the unending stash of Classic Elite Renaissance in Cardinal.   This should actually be the last large scale project I can do with that yarn.    After that, it’s just scrapes.

I’ve had to give up in the Hermoine Hearts Ron hat in the Dalegarn Falk I was trying to use up.   Despite going down a needle size, there still wasn’t quite enough yarn for this project.   So close!!

I do really like the pattern though, and I was able to stop at Patternworks yesterday, where I picked up some more yarn in sufficient amounts to make the hat.   I’ll just have to figure out something slightly smaller to do to use up the Falk.


I don’t know what’s up with my tomatoes this year.    My mother was just telling me how hers were pretty slow this year.   Meanwhile, I’ve had to add a second tier to the cages to contain mine, and I pulled out the Swiss chard from between them because it was getting too shaded out (bearing in mind this is a colder weather plant getting too much shade in the heat of summer.   !?)

This is the first year I bought seedlings from the farmer’s market.    Guess I’m going to have to do that again.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Little Coffee Bean Cardigan by Elizabeth Smith
Yarn: Quince and Co Lark in the Bark colorway, Cascade 220 Heathers 9489 (red) and Quince and Co Osprey in the Peacock colorway
Needles: Size 7 DPNs and Circs and Size 8 DPNs and Circs

Here’s the Coffee Bean Cardi – all done.    I’m pretty happy with it.    I was trying to use up some yarns I thought would go well together, and though the blue only barely made it into the second sleeve, I’m still happy with it.

The pattern is super easy (for the very first time, I made this entirely from a PDF via my Ipad.   Didn’t think I could make it without being able to add notes, but I did it!)

The Twelfth Enchantment – David Liss

Lucy Derrick is a young woman of good breeding, but no money.     When her father died, she was forced to live with her uncle, a cruel man who wants nothing to do with her, and whose sole efforts on her behalf are to engage her to a local mill owner.

Lucy can’t see any ways out of her predicaments until the day that a young man arrives at her house, apparently suffering from a curse, with a message for her.   This man proves to be none other than Lord Byron, and his message draws Lucy in a deeper world, where magic is real, and  revolution will chart a path for England either into slavery in the Industrial age, a return to old days with no machines, or a third path between them.

Oddly enough, the more I read this novel, the more I thought it was a Jane Austen homage.    And, when I got to the end, the book club questions there confirmed that.      I thought being able to parse that out from a story that was also a very interesting commentary on the place of women in Regency England, as well as the potential very dark side of the Industrial Revolution was a good catch.     Either that, or I’ve definitely read too much Jane Austen.