Posts Tagged 'commuting'

Spring driving

When winter is nearly over, and spring is starting to bloom or leaf out, I like to vary my commutes so I can take advantage of the sunshine and see a bit of the countryside before I head back to the city. This evening I drove through the hilly valleys where there are state parks and many, many farms with white farmhouses. Some homes had bunting on their gates for St. Patrick’s Day (not sure that was the goal, or it’s a reference to Easter?). A few have egg trees, one house has a northern magnolia in bloom and another has very early forsythia.

And in one place, near where a creek bed snakes along the road, and there’s a small pond, I could hear the spring peepers. I talked about them last year too. Their song is one of the mysterious gifts given to us living on the east coast of the USA. I’ve heard them up in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont. As a city dweller, when I hear them, I’m enchanted. People who live near them during the entire spring peeper mating season may have different reactions, since they can get quite loud.

In my yard, I have an egg tree set up (plastic eggs hung by wire from a miniature magnolia), and underneath it there are mini daffodils and crocuses blooming. Truly lovely. Maybe we’ll have a day without fog and rain when I can take a picture.

So, any detours that invite you when springtime arrives? Or are you more likely to do small auto trips in autumn, to enjoy the cooler weather? It will be cold again by the weekend, so I’m trying to soak up as much sunshine and warmth as I can before then.


Commuting through farm country

I very seldom get the chance to take pictures of the beautiful drives to and from between home and work. But due to recent car trouble, I got to be a passenger, and could try to capture some of the farms (although no picture of the tiny farm with piglets, 3 hens, one pony, and one cow). I resisted the urge to ask my driver if we could stop so I could get a picture of the sheep farm, complete with one large great pyranees on guard duty.

Here’s one barn I captured as we headed up over the rise.


Lovely. It glows white in the evenings, and it provides a marker, indicating a curve right after the hill it’s on, and then a stop sign that you can’t see. The cornfield on the right is a blur in the photo. This is the point where I roll down my windows to enjoy the summer breezes.

So, what lovely things do you see every day that you wish you could capture with a camera?

Pausing on a day with frost nipping at my nose

…to note that a local bookshop cafe’ has rosemary hot chocolate. It’s lovely, and was great to find on a raw November day when I had nipped in from my car to pick up a sandwich.

I do wonder how they made it — rosemary simple syrup? Rosemary infused milk and then add the chocolate like in this recipe? Apparently the M Restaurant in Philadelphia makes rosemary hot chocolate, and searching by G**gle provides you with cafes in Portland Oregon that also have it on the menu. For those of you who don’t like hot chocolate, or who live in an environment where hot food isn’t welcome (Bermuda? Aruba? Australia in December?), here’s a recipe for rosemary chocolate ganache with orange.

Getting the party started – Halloween

Tonight, while commuting on the Washington DC Metro, I saw about a group of college age boys/men get on the train. All were in costume. Costumes included:

  • The Mad Hatter from the recent Johnny Depp movie
  • Tom Cruise from the movie Top Gun (spent a while thinking he was one of the Ghostbusters — yes, the uniform is that close)
  • Some guy wearing a blue leotard with white and black stripes (I have no idea)
  • The Captain from Peter Pan
  • The alligator with the clock around his neck from Peter Pan

They rode about 2 stops, and then got off, probably for a college party. A blessed relief to see them, after all the political pollsters and people who wanted me to sign petitions in the entryway. Have a great time tomorrow, and tell the kids to wear reflector tape or light colored coats over their fairy costumes. It’s dark out there. And there are people handing out political pamphlets outside almost every business, so watch out for them too.

Flowers in the basement

tempura-flowersThe local library has a kids program, and there are seasonal art projects. For Spring/Summer, they painted flowers on cardboard or cardstock with tempura paints. Each flower is about the height of a 5th grader. I never see this library without kids being involved, or teenagers writing papers on the public computer for school, or providing outreach to people who are job searching or doing family history searches. (Go awesome librarians and library!) I get so much joy out of walking over there to browse the books, and find out the latest technological thing that I can do (download “books on tape” to an iPhone, iPod, or another similar device). Note I said “books on tape”… heh.

I do find myself reading lots of things I wouldn’t normally have bought from Amaz*n or a bookstore. And I do love audio books for when I’m driving. I have a huge Ken Follett book that I can’t wait to stick in the CD player on Monday, once my Irish mystery is done (Faithful Place, by Tana French – grim, dark, yet interesting, mostly because the voice on the audiobook beguiled me into liking a police procedural with lots of messy family details and shifting loyalties). So, any other books I should look for on CD to keep my commute interesting, or me knitting along? Anyone else have a fabulous little library?

The pitfall of asides in radio drama

Oh, car stereo, why do you hate me?

I’ve been listening to a dramatization of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline on CD in the car in an attempt to stay alert. It is already distracting to sort out which character is weeping/yelling/cajoling on the CD in which scene while I weave in and out of traffic on the highway.

the asides are impossible. Yes, they’re dramatic, but each character sounds less like he or she’s telling me secrets and more like they have split personalities that they make whisper. “Oh, fair sir, I greet thee! mutter mutter mutter mutter. I suppose the vibrations of the tires on highway pavement drown out the sound.

The happy goat of the suburbs

Really… that kind of sums up the sort of weird day I’ve had.  While driving, I passed a display of 50 silver and bright blue pinwheels stuck in the ground in a park. They’re facing a hospital (if I had to be in a hospital this would cheer me right up). If I’m lucky, they’ll be there tomorrow when I have my camera.

Then, in the Washington, DC suburbs, I passed a brown and white goat that was out for a romp not that far from a train station. It was possibly the happiest goat I’ve ever seen. [I’ve been humming the goatherd song from the Sound of Music all day.] Last I heard, the police were wondering if the goat was feral or not. Or what its “purpose” was. [From the goat’s perspective, I think it probably was looking for an opportunity to create more goats… It had already found a place to gallop.]

Later on in the evening, I saw a double rainbow, pointing down toward the District of Columbia. It was an amazing day, but all I’ve got is text.

One disturbing truck with a literacy message

Literacy Rocks is the theme of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Gretchen Wilson (a singing, country music star) is the face they have chosen. Not sure if “rock” and “country” are interchangeable these days in the minds of today’s youth, but they couldn’t have chosen a more eye-attracting face. No, seriously. In the gloaming, having your headlights hit the back of a large truck, with a beautifully airbrushed rendering of Gretchen Wilson looking straight at you (just face, with hair disappearing into the dark truck behind her)  is startling. If you’re stuck in quick moving traffic, you might wonder where the heck you’ve seen the face (is it someone who was in Cats? no… maybe Battlestar Galactica? No, um…. Ok, I know, it’s the woman who sings “Redneck Woman”).

It’s a great campaign for her, speaking closely to what is known from her bio. But you know, every time they have to get into the back of that truck, her beautiful face gets split in half. 🙂

In other news, I have been knitting. It’s the same interminable sock. The knitting needles go round and round, and I never quite get to the toe. I’m starting to think of nicknaming it ” under the spell of the White Witch” Eh, perhaps not.

You know that clothing designers hate women

….when you have a closet filled with shirts in the following sizes: 14, 5, 8, 10, and 12 all of which do not fit. In some cases, the size 8s are elephant large. In one glaring case, the size 14 is too small — a victim of a designer using “stretch” fabric to make it “figure conscious”. Feh. Not much knitting going on these days. Instead, a question:
Is it wrong to want to see if we can fill the BP oil spill with fashion travesties? Some of it would be petrochemicals going back home. And some of it might have enough cat hair stuck in it that it would attract more oil. (If BP can have top hats, then I can have the flounce solution.)

[I know this is totally inane and frivolous, but clothing is one of those things you can’t do without, and sometimes it is irritating.]

Imelda has lost her shoes

….Or someone has. A whole trail or tribe of shoes lay scattered on the side of the highway, starting with large fancy dress shoes, heels, and finishing up with a few forlorn little baby shoes that had been tied together. I drove by in traffic slow enough for me to notice details — a zipper pull here, an olive suede upper there — until it started to feel like a slow motion scene from an Oliver Stone film (although, alas, no soundtrack). I spent a good 20 minutes wondering why they were there, and here are some brief theories:

  • A shoe donation box tipped over while being moved
  • A family was fleeing from suburban America and dropped their shoes as they ran
  • A dance troupe lost its shoes for the weekend’s big number
  • Inept thieves stole shoes from a shoe outlet, then dropped them when they realized they forgot the cash

No serious theories in my brain today, as you can see. But my, it was funny. Almost as good as the day I followed a strand of yarn 1.5 miles around the outer loop of the DC beltway.