Friday, August 23, 2013

Summers of Remembrance -OR- Gardens, Parks, and Personal Battlefields, Then and Now

**Updated 12:09AM 6/6/2014: See below. **

**This entry was posted on August 23, 2013.**

Sunset and dusk settling over the National Mall with the scrim-laced, scaffolding-covered Washington Monument nearby, Washington, D.C., 7:32PM August 22, 2013.

I walked home from work tonight rather than going to the gym (I'm still not over whatever is wrong with me). This part of the National Mall was overloaded with kickball and softball teams in brightly color-coded shirts noisily playing their games.

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Home tonight ahead of the scheduled four day beach trip first to Delaware and then the Jersey shore, specifically, Rebobo (OK, Reboboth Beach) and Wildwood (OK, Wildwood Crest).

The weather looks to be quite sunny and pleasant (not hot and humid, though for a beach trip and being beside the ocean in August, I guess hot and humid weather is appropriate).

The corner of the Enid Haupt Garden at the Smithsonian Institution (along side the Sackler Gallery), Washington, D.C., 7:27PM August 22, 2013.

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The success or failure of this trip, or rather, the ease or difficulty of it, is going to be strongly dictated by whether or not my paycheck arrives electronically on Saturday rather than Monday. This is one of those pay periods where the pay date (set typically) for the 10th or 25th) coincides with a Sunday and is therefore the following day -- except the payments are distributed on Thursday (as they were today) and have never NOT arrived on Saturday (since Bank of America is opened that day).

Another view of the scrim-lined, scaffolding-covered Washington Monument at dusk with its decorative nighttime lights as seen from the corner of 14th Street and Madison Drive NW (the old "A" Street), Washington, D.C., 7:36PM August 22, 2013.

The scaffolding is to repair the damage from the earthquake that occurred exactly two years ago. The crane towers are part of the construction of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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If it does not, well, I already owe Gary a bunch of money, so it would just be that much more. Oh, and this check is also supposed to include a bonus.

As for my health issue I mentioned in my previous entry, well, I still felt intermittently kind of crummy today, but I'm more convinced that it is "only" a sinus infection and/or head cold rather than some impending "death event" such as a tumor.  The trouble is, I STILL get quite dizzy anytime I move in a way that isn't fully upright or if too quickly. This means I still cannot jog, which is not good.*

The chicken, rice, and green beans dinner I had at Chix DC on 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 8:05PM August 22, 2013. It was quite good with the avocado sauce.

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I'm still going to get a medical checkup next week. I'm also going to get a new dentist. I have tentatively one picked out one -- he takes the dental insurance I have and I actually was in a chemistry class with him and was sort of friends with him at one time circa the mid-1990s, though I doubt he'll remember me. (He had a lot more curly dark hair back then.)

At this point, I just want the crown on #14 removed and what replaces it, I'm almost indifferent, even a damn gap (as I have with #31). It sort of doesn't matter since it is well out of sight. (In the case of my missing #31, the wisdom tooth #32 came in perfectly. The other ones are to varying degrees impacted.)

I walked home tonight from work, stopping at No. 9 for the two-for-one drink special. Bartender "D" was working, and let me say that he is always so friendly to me -- he has never not been happy to see me, or at least made me feel like he is happy to see me.

*One way or another, I will continue to go to the gym (unless I flat out die). I mean, compare how I look at present ...

Yours truly in the Enid Haupt Garden of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 7:26PM August 22, 2013.

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... to how I looked two years ago (right around the time of aforementioned earthquake):

Here I was two years ago on August 19, 2011 at a Nationals baseball game at Nationals Park here in D.C. (Gary is on my left).

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(There was a flippin' monsoon deluge at the baseball stadium on the 19th as I wrote about here. It looks as though nearby KDCA had 1.53" in that particular event (and 1.61" for the day). I think was more like 2 to 3 inches of rain at the stadium.)

Well, anyway, that's quite a change in my appearance, and for the better, no?

And here is another picture from around that time:

Yours truly about six weeks before that at Pines of Florence, Washington, D.C., 6:56PM July 2, 2011.

Ooooohh, I was pudgy. I didn't realize just how different I now looked, but I have lost about 36 pounds and shifted about 40 pounds out of fat.

I don't know how long this new state will last* but I'm pleased with it.


**Updated 12:09AM 6/6/2014: Content removed **

*To be clear, I AM nearing my mid-40s and thus no spring chicken -- and that's the truth -- and therefore there is simply no way for me to look like Donny Osmond here. Of course, I never actually looked like that.

In my late 20s, I sort of looked like this:

This pic was taken by Old UnFaithful at Yellowstone National Park in May 1999. It was for me a second trip involving Seattle and Yellowstone, except leaving, not going. In 1988 -- 11 years prior -- I had had flown over it on my way to Seattle to go to the "U-Dub" during the peak of the summer 1988 conflagration. (In the end, I only stayed 3 months.)

The view of the smoke clouds billowing up into veritable thunderheads reaching almost to the height of the passenger jet was astonishing.

I believe this is an image of the billowing smoke from the Clover-Mist fire in Yellowstone National Park, summer 1988. (It wasn't clear from the website where I found it.)

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The Clover Mist fire conflagration burns uncontrollably along the Mirror Plateau in Yellowstone National Park, summer 1988, one of many fires that scorched the park that summer. (There was still much fire damage 11 years later when I was there in 1999.)

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The largest and arguably most dramatic fire was the North Fork Fire that raged in August and September. Here it approaches the Old Faithful Inn on September 7, 1988.

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Yet on the far northern horizon were actual t-storms that were the edge of a frontal boundary that within a few days (by September 11th) would quickly drop the temperature and bring rain and snow that did what an entire summer long human firefighting armada could not do: quickly extinguish the fires. This is now 14 years ago.

On this trip in late May 1999 (Memorial Day weekend) -- my only time ever in Yellowstone -- I had flown to Seattle to meet my then good / now-ex friend Dan, who at the time lived in Arlington. Va. He had driven to Washington state to visit his mom, and I flew out to meet him and drive back.

It was a disaster of a drive back. Dan couldn't stand being around me -- or for that matter, anything about me as a person. And it took us no more than 4 days to drive back (including on the last day from the Quad Cities to D.C.)

An expansive view of Charlottesville, Va., and the surrounding Blue Ridge mountains on what looks like a fall day.

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In spring 2003, Dan and I had a fight shortly into a day trip to Charlottesville, Virginia (I think we were near Gainesville, Va., at that point), and about flippin' President Bill Clinton. Rather than risk a really big blow-up, physical altercation of some sort, I asked him to let me out the car waaaay out in western Prince William County. And that he did. He drove off, and never looked back. (My mother did that a few times, as well over the years.)

That ended the friendship with DanNO.


Over the next hour, I walked a few miles along U.S. Route 29, eventually reaching the Manassas National Battlefield Park (pictured above from an online image I found) on that breezy, cool, cloudy April day. I called a friend (I had a cellphone by that point), who came to get me about an hour and a half later (and thus I didn't have to walk approximately 17 miles to the Vienna Metro).

In the intervening time, I just sat there quietly among the spirits of the Civil War dead soldiers, the grass and small flowers quivering intermittently on the intermittent gusts and pondered life.

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Summer evening on 14th Street near Thomas Circle, Washington, D.C., 8:25PM August 22, 2013. I was walking to No. 9 and thence home.

The image sort of reminds me of that most well-known of covers to The Great Gatsby (the original 1925 Scribner one pictured at left).

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I finished my laundry -- three loads, which cost be just about $10 in increments or multiples of $5. I'm watching TV -- all those old sitcom reruns on Me TV and other channels.

OK, that's all for now. I may post a (really) very quick farewell entry before heading out to the Jersey shore.

--Regulus

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