Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Katherine was in town this past weekend.  She was here to join the Cowboy and Indian Alliance's protest against the Keystone Pipeline.  She's learning to play the ukelele. The house is a little bit crowded these days.  Seth and Christine and their two kids have moved into the basement as their house gets renovated.  They'll be here about two months.  Since they are occupying the usual "guest" quarters, we moved Edda into our room and then Kiki stayed in Edda's room.  We are going to have a number of guests the next two months, so it'll be a bit of musical beds.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hill Country BBQ

Seems like they have a bit of Austin here in DC.

Pecan pie and Blue Bell ice cream.  Yummy.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mary Ann.

Thinking of you, Mary Ann.  xoxo - JDVE

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Daily Menu & Routines

In the morning, I have a bowl of cereal, two pieces of toasted bread with 7 grains.  On top of that, I put some Philadelphia cheese or peanut butter on it.  

For lunch, I usually have a breakfast special from McDonald's, Hardee's,  Krystal or Bojangles' (a local brand), 2 for $3.00 or $3.33.

For Dinner, I usually scavenge with what I have with Mom's stuffs.  Believe me or not, there are a lot in my freeze.  With that, I added a lot of veggies and other fresh ingredients.  

On Friday, Saturday & Sunday, I will do my laundry, clean the apartment and relax.  Sometimes, I just drive around and enjoy the scenery.  I am trying to learn Spanish.  But, haven't found a best way to do this yet. Would like to find out that this old dog can learn something new :)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Apartment II

More pictures around my apartment.  Picture 1 is just in front of my apartment.  There are several parks out there.  A fishing walk way into the lake and several boat launching places.

The other three pictures are those places for rowing.  It stretches several miles with cars, equipment lining up every where.  They are just within 5 miles of my apartment. Very close indeed.

Friday, April 25, 2014

May Apartment, Oak Ridge, TN

I rent an apartment with "lake view".  Picture one shows the scenery view from my bedroom and living room. Picture 2 is the way out of our apartment gate.  The last picture shows my car parked at an unit just in front of mine. Mine is at its back.

It is pretty new and just about 5 minutes drive to my office.  I look forward to having Mom here if she would like to take a break from her numerous work, including yard work. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Coles Park, Ohio / Portsmouth / Easter

On Easter, we went hunting for the house Gene and Bob lived in when they were in elementary school.  Their father, George, was a labor organizer for the boot and shoe union and he was the leader of the union at the Selby Shoe Company in Portsmouth, OH.  They lived in a small, tiny town called Coles Park.  We found the house they lived in and introduced ourselves to the current owner who has been there since 1974.

Gene and Bob played with the family next door and the family still lives there.   We were hoping to meet the son of their friend in this yellow house.  Alas, no one answered the door.

Then off to find their elementary school.  Here it is, all boarded up and filled with trash.  It seems like the school building had been leased to a sewing factory? or something like that?  But it's just really shut down and unoccupied.

Then a little Easter egg hunt in a nearby park and an outdoor lunch.

We did try to find the factory in Portsmouth where George worked, but it seems to have been torn down.  We did enjoy frozen yogurt there though.

Then finally, home.

Food from Rena

I have visited Rena's three times since I came down here (Oak Ridge, TN), twice in Maryland and once in Washington State.  Every time, I brought back a lot of her food with me.

Almost every evening, her food is on my dinner table, with some addition of fresh veggies, of course. I guess they will probably last for a while until I see her again.

I seldom eat out because all these restaurants' coupons are designed for party of two.  Just one person, there is few bargain out there.  I guess I act more like Rena every single day :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


After Columbus, we headed to Cincinnati.  There we picked up Bob (flew into Dayton) and Gene (flew into Cincinnati).  Half of us stayed in a hotel and half stayed in the beautiful home of a Martin relative.

Resident cat!  This is a very nice cat photo.  I got lucky.

Our first stop was the Cincinnati Music Hall.  Bob ushered there and attended a lot of concerts at the hall.

Then we went to Union Terminal.  Wonderful display of art deco styling.  Gene remembered the place being full of travelers - according to wikipedia, at it's peak, there were 216 trains coming and going.  Now there is only one train, three times a week, arriving at 2 am.

The inside has been turned into a number of museums.

Oh!  What great fonts.

Then we started hunting for Bob and Gene's childhood home(s).  This one is on Stirgus Ave - lived in when they were approximately high school age.

Then onto the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.  Edda learned about the cotton gin.

Mecklenburg's Garden for dinner.  Nice German food.  Well, at least a lot of German food.  Bob and Gene remember this place fondly.

Onto find the high school.  Walnut Hills High School.  The fanciest public high school any of us has ever seen.  Brand new facilities, marble statues in the front lobby.  Today, you have to test into Walnut Hills HS.  I think it might be ranked higher than Wootton nationally.

Finally, Graeter's for ice cream!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring break - 2014. Ohio.

Spring break means a road trip somewhere.  This year, we decided to go to Michigan/Ohio.  There was going to be an engineering/manufacturing portion (Detroit, Dayton), a visiting friends portion (Columbus), and a reminiscing portion (Cincinnati).  Because of nursing school and three exams on Monday and Tuesday, I totally missed the engineering part of the trip (a total shame) and therefore, it was poorly documented.  The kids, Nat, Jeremy, and Kiki made it to the Ford manufacturing plant and museam in Detroit and the National Museum of US Air Force in Dayton.   I did manage to fly into Columbus on Wed to meet the minivan where we visited Paul (Jeremy's college pal) and his family.  This is Ceci - she taught Vince all there is to know about American Girl dolls.

Paul is still coaching me, I'm still running.  He's trying to convince me that I can string together 6.2 miles at 8 min pace with about 7 or 8 weeks of training.   I'm a little dubious, but we'll see how it goes.   He is also determined to find a wife for Donald, he's going to work his connections in San Fran, so Donald, look out.  Mom, he also wants his finder's fee of $2500 if it ends up in a wedding.

Resident cat!

Monthly Trip Home With Water Leak

This past weekend, I took the first monthly trip home back to the west, to Washougal, WA.  When Rena arrived there a week earlier, she noticed that the backyard faucet was leaking when turned on.  When turned off, everything seemed okay.

After closely exam the faucet when has a 9" stem to stop the water, it actually leaks when turned off.  Just the leak isn't too bad.  No one notices that.  But, when going into the crawl space underneath the floor, water puddles on the plastic sheets are everywhere.  Since backyard water is needed to water the flowers, veggies, etc., there, I decided to take the faucet apart and rebuild it.

After two hours of work, it was temporarily fixed with a new stem pipe a bit too long.  I will come back in June to rebuild it again.  In May, we are taking off to Turkey from LA.  But, right now, it worked partially with a new stop valve being installed.  No leak and it is workable.

After that, I trimmed the front yard trees and shrubs to make it prettier.  Today, I am flying back to Oak Ridge, TN with a luggage full of food that Rena cooked.  Great! 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Edda's well check up.

Today I took Edda to her well check-up.  Neither Edda nor Vince had been to the office for the full year between last year's well check-up and this year's.  I'm not sure if that makes me a terrible mother because I refuse to take them in when they feel bad for a day or two or if it means that my kids are so super healthy and I should be grateful.  I think I tend towards the grateful side.   Grateful that I have healthy kids (except for the underlying Rett Syndrome, of course).

Again, the student doctor was there and I had a nice time telling him about Rett Syndrome.  He, of course, had never seen a clinical case, so it was an interesting conversation.  Told him how mildly affected Edda was, in the grand scheme of things, how lucky we are that she's so healthy.  But also acknowledging that it's a severe disability and that she requires care in all aspects of daily living.  

Edda got no vaccines this time.  Just a very thorough assessment because it's interesting to do.  The only assessment that I thought was interesting to note is her small head size.  So we measured it.  But they don't generally chart head size for a 10 year old, so the information wasn't really useful.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cooking and more cooking.

Only at Jeremy's work is there a vegan soup club.  Every month, Jeremy is responsible for bringing in a vat of soup to the soup club.  The idea that the office should have a soup club did not seem super well thought out.  Given that the bulk of the employees take the Metro to work, it's not really easy to bring 25 servings of soup on the subway.  This time he made something with leek.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Happy spring.

Beautiful spring day here in Rockville.  It's so hard to work when one is faced with days like this.  You just want to be outside and soak up all the sunshine...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Doctor appt.

I took Vince to the pediatrician for his annual check-up earlier this week.  It was the first well-check appointment where I thought that maybe I should step out of the room while they examined him - that maybe he would have questions for the doctor that he wouldn't want to ask in front of me.  Vince laughed at me when I asked if he wanted me out of the room, he said there was nothing that he would ask the doctor that he felt he couldn't ask me first.  He got a meningitis vaccine which means (rounding-up person that I am), of course, that he's almost leaving home for college.   Jeremy sometimes says that Vince and I bicker like an old married couple (sometimes we do and it's almost always my fault), but he's really the best son I could have asked for - kind, outgoing and happy-go-lucky.

There was a student doctor doing a clinical assignment in the office, so it was his job to do Vince's assessment.  I'm learning the same assessment techniques at school - so we had a lot of fun doing all the extra assessments on a willing Vincent.  Usually, as a med student, you don't want to ask a patient to sit still for a million assessment tests just for your own practice, but Vince was game and was in no hurry to get back to school and I kept asking - what about bicep reflex?  ear exam? cranial nerves? auscultate the bowel sounds? pitting edema? heart murmurs?  palpate the liver? I kept asking Vince, OK pull up your pants, pull down your socks, pull up your sleeves, OK, now turn around.  The student doctor was excited and pleased.  Everything was normal, but I guess you only learn abnormal from doing a million normal ones.  Fun.

Also, one always feels compelled to lie when they ask how much screen time?  How many fruits and vegetables?  Enough exercise?  Not so much junk food?   They told me the guidelines put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics and I just said - that's unattainable.  Simply unattainable.  Has any one in this whole country been successful in getting their teenage kids to eat more greens or use their screens less?  I can hardly make myself eat more greens and use my phone/computer/internet/Candy Crush less.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Headed out.

Mom and Dad were both in town this weekend, so we recreated Edda's pancake breakfast at 7 am today.  Jeremy had frozen the leftover pancakes after Edda's party and we still have some leftover bacon.  Any meal with bacon feels both fancy and casual at the same time.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Violin / cello duet.

Oh! Vince and Kappa played the Toy Symphony together today.  It was so beautiful.  Kelly did a great job putting together students into chamber groups.  Lots of moms accompanied their children.  Lots of siblings played together.  It made the recital really sweet and the music more interesting.  Vince worked hard on his piece and the pair did sound really wonderful together.  It makes me almost a bit weepy.

Edda came to the 6:30 - 8:30 pm recital.  Sometimes we get lucky and she falls asleep, but not tonight.  She decided that she did not want to be there about 5 minutes before Vince and Kappa went on to perform.  Jeremy ran out with Edda when the piece began and then I ran out after the first movement to insist that Jeremy go inside to listen to the 2nd which then resulted in Jeremy shocked that I was causing more of a commotion by running in and out of the room.  Sigh.  One does what one can.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Old friends

These are the Hungs.  Le Pei was mom's roommate in college.  And many years ago, they housed Donald in their shed for a few months.  Donald ran an extension cord from the shed to their garage for power.  They were lucky enough to buy into one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the Silicon Valley decades and decades ago when it was just sort of expensive and not insanely crazy expensive - so we made fun of Donald who would tell people that he lived in Los Altos Hills and when his pals gasped, he'd have to explain that he lived in a shed (and not a shed-like house, but an acutal shed with a lawnmower).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happy birthday Donald!

It's Donald's birthday today.  He's turning 38.  We are so old.   I always like to think about the mothers on a person's birthday because it was a big day for them too.  So mom!  Happy birthday of Donald to you too.  Did I go to the hospital with your mom and dad to wait for the arrival of Donald?  I vaguely remember that - but I could be making it all up...  Thanks for giving me the best brother ever, even though he's a bit stubborn.

Happy Birthday Donald

Happy Birthday Donald.  Mom and Dad wish you all the best.