So much miscellany (books, movies, speakers)

Unexpectedly I am watching the Caps in game 1 of the Stanley Cup. This is unexpected primarily because Washington teams forever seem to blow their wads too early, and so it's slightly surprising that they've made it to the league finals. Sorry, but that's an honest assessment. See RGIII times many, for example. Though I've been a DCer since 2005, I'm still a Cubs fan through and through, and to a lesser degree, a Seahawks and Bruins fan. I think this has to do with growing up in Louisiana which has/had, prior to the Saints, no such thing as a pro team, a father who much preferred college football, having zero athletic inclination myself, and being visual enough to appreciate the aesthetics of good (and bad) uniforms. 

In any case, I do love the physicality of hockey and the fact that hockey players do on skates, on ice, and in bulky gear, what some of us cannot even do on our feet, on land, and in no gear. It's really something at times- beautiful, graceful, and then POW! I love it. Go Caps!

This past week has been full. FULL, y'all! In so many ways I love living in DC- it is an embarrassment of riches culturally, and despite fatigue, I ate it up this week.

Monday: Cecile Richards (a heroine of mine) and Kate Germano (new to me but wow) in conversation with Michel Martin (one of my favorite radio personalities) at the Hirshhorn Museum. Cecile's new book is Make Trouble and Kate recently wrote Fight Like a Girl. I told Cecile how much I enjoyed last month's Planned Parenthood Metro DC gala and that I was a monthly donor to PP-IN on behalf of Wax Pence, and she said, "We all need to keep up the good fight. Tough to be a woman in the midwest in some ways, so thank you." PS- Cecile is stunningly beautiful. All three women are stunningly articulate. WOMEN!
After the event, I wandered into a side garden by the Hirsshorn. It's so lovely, and I am covetous of the bug hotel there.

Tuesday: T and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. It was one of the nicest anniversaries in a while, and I made a great dinner. You should all try this fried asparagus with miso dressing from Nobu. and really, when is key lime pie ever bad?!

Wednesday: A dear friend and I met other friends and members of our school community at the National Portrait Gallery for a private showing of The Sweat of Their Face with my friend and the co-curator of the show and the head of our school whose area of study and dissertation was America's working class and the various representations of it. Also got to see the Obama portraits again and the new Henrietta Lacks portrait!


Friday: Tom and I took the boys and a friend each to the opening night of Solo, the newest Star Wars story/flick. We all loved it and found it delightful. (In fact, Oliver and I saw it again today.) A) Alden Ehrenreich is a perfect young Han, and B) Donald Glover (who is always good and also hot) is a magnificent Lando, and C) Ron Howard really did almost-perfect justice to this back-story. Lady Proxima is a "no" and why does Dryden Vos have the facial scarring but otherwise, A+!!

Sunday: Cirque du Soleil with the kids. Luzia is no Kurios, that's for sure. Dang. I didn't much care for the show. The kids didn't either. The bendable man who could rest his own head in his butt crack was disconcerting, and the women don't need to be nearly naked to be impressive.
Today (Monday): Solo again. It's fantastic.

Meanwhile: I finished The Complete Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St. Aubyn. I'd started reading them prior to the release of the 5-part Patrick Melrose series on Showtime staring, yes, my Benedict, and my god are they spectacular. INCREDIBLE prose, not least because the story itself is largely autobiographical. I've watched the first two PM episodes and while I do think Benedict is perfectly cast as Patrick, I found the first episode lacking. The second, while terrifically tough to watch, is excellent. The novels are magnificent. I couldn't put them down. 

Alright, y'all, it's 2-2 Caps-Golden Knights. More later. 

Movies and a book and kitchens

Even fun and exciting things sometimes grow old, and such is the case with our renovation. Since the plumbing debacle, I have tried north of 30 paint colors and just received word that one of our countertop slabs broke during fabrication. This throws a bit of a wrench in our schedule, the goal of which has always been to be done and back into our house for Oliver's birthday on March 17. And we still have floor refinishing to endure. And I am racing to and from Louisiana later this week to see my sister and nephew and meet my new niece, and Tom is leaving town for three days next week, and then my parents are coming for Ol's birthday, and really, when will it get warm outside?

I am trying to be zen, but I am so tired. And Jack is having a tough year and there is only so much I can do, you know? It feels like nothing ever slows or eases, not for terribly long anyway. And the Evil Yam Turd and his crew are just so sick and awful and destructive.  

It is all going to be so beautiful though (and infinitely more functional). I mean, how charming is my window treatment fabric?! Blackberries for Nanny, flowers and figs, and those darling grasshoppers. And in the meantime, escapism. 

T and I have been watching movies in anticipation of the Academy Awards tonight, and I have to say that although we've not been able to see a few of the contenders (Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water, and Phantom Thread), our favorites are Darkest Hour and Get Out. If Gary Oldman doesn't win best actor, it will be an abomination. God, he was transcendent.

I know Lady Bird has been all the rage, but for the most part, it just left me sad. I didn't feel a connection with most of the characters, and I couldn't imagine letting my child head to college with such a gulf between us. Of course, you just never know others' relationships, but still. I had a similar reaction to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: great expectations followed by a sense of letdown. Frances McDormand, an amazing actress and one of my all-time favorites, seemed a touch one-dimensional. I don't know. I just wasn't enthralled. Sam Rockwell seemed almost a caricature, and Woody Harrelson (another of my absolute favorites) seemed to turn so quickly. I much prefer him as Haymitch. 

I've told y'all how much I applaud Get Out, and last night we watched Darkest Hour. Boy oh boy, was I transported. I am endlessly fascinated by Churchill and the world during WWII, by the evil and courage and strength and never-ending hope and determination. History is both humbling and so instructive, offering lessons and beacons of light as we make, and remake, our ways through travails and humanity. Here's hoping we survive the horrific confluence of Rat Poison Turdface + the internet.

In the meantime, if you're done with films, please read Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I'm not done but am fully entranced and hate to put it down when I must. Ok, the children call. 

Week in Review

This past Wednesday was the annual Washington Area Women's Foundation Leadership Luncheon. You might remember my post about it last year. I was so inspired that despite my complete lack of comfort with soliciting money, I enthusiastically agreed to join the Host Committee for this year's event. 

The tone of this year's Luncheon was one firmly rooted in female empowerment and strength. After a week of Me Toos swirling around, it was tremendously meaningful to sit with more than a thousand women (and a few men) and celebrate our vast ability, resilience, and connectedness. I am proud that the host committee this year raised more than $860,000 for the Women's Foundation. This record amount is crucial for our wholly donor-supported organization, and I am grateful to all who lift us up. 

On Friday night, a dear friend and I headed downtown to see Tom Hanks in conversation with Ann Patchett. A curious combination, perhaps, until you find that Hanks has just published a book of short stories, Uncommon Type

Gorgeous night, exciting event.

Gorgeous night, exciting event.

He is an avid collector of vintage typewriters (he owns more than 200) and the machine has a role, from mention to major character, in each of the seventeen stories in the book. 

Meanwhile, in addition to being a prolific writer, Patchett, as you might know, owns the independent bookstore, Parnassus Books, in Nashville. She was sent an advanced copy of Hanks' book. Initially rolling her eyes over "another actor who wants to publish a book," she found that once she started reading, she couldn't stop. She noted with relief that Hanks' writing is totally unaffected in a way that feels increasingly rare these days. 

It was a delightful conversation, although my friend and I both wondered if Hanks is always so kinetic and "on" or if he was in show-mode for this event. It was at times almost exhausting to watch and listen to him. I liked Patchett a lot. Although I don't much care for her fiction, her nonfiction is brilliant and I absolutely adore it. I hoped not to have a Kingsolver experience (remember when I went to hear her speak and found her public presence not terribly appealing; sad), and I didn't.

Washington has so much to offer. Despite American politics feeling like the most depressing and toxic and devouring dumpster fire ever, this city is extraordinarily rich in so many other ways, and I feel lucky I can take regular advantage of our cultural and social justice offerings.

It has also been a week (weeks, actually) of pretty and delicious food which for me never fails to serve as balm and joy. 

pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter and parmesan

pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter and parmesan

incredibly juicy, tangy Concord grapes from a local farmers market

incredibly juicy, tangy Concord grapes from a local farmers market

tomatoes from that market heading towards roasted tomato jam (an outstanding Amanda Hesser recipe)

tomatoes from that market heading towards roasted tomato jam (an outstanding Amanda Hesser recipe)

after nearly two hours in the oven, the jam is ready to put up.

after nearly two hours in the oven, the jam is ready to put up.

In other news, Stumptown has changed its packaging, and I'm smitten with the handsome take on a humble coffee bag. If you love coffee and grind your own beans for your morning espresso, please try Hairbender. Mamma mia. It's a worthy splurge.


And Nutmeg continues to keep watch, this time with the help of a bony friend. Oliver, who loves Halloween more than even his birthday and Christmas, is in full decorative spirit and costume planning right now. The countdown to the 31st is on! Ol told me last week, "Mamma, I know you don't love Halloween, but you always work to make it so much fun for me. Thank you." What a gift he is, and such an old soul. Tom and I are dressing up this year, and Ol is delighted. I told him that his enthusiasm is infectious, and thanks for making my life more fun.