Monday, January 30, 2012

Getting Away for Some R & R in D.C.

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The last week of January, Saul and I decided, on an impulse, to visit Ari in DC this past weekend. We had not been there since mid-November and Ari has been chiding us since Jess and Alex moved to Cherry Hill that we would probably never come to visit him any more. We love DC, and we love our adventures there with Ari, so I really think there is nothing for him to worry about.

We certainly did have an adventure-packed weekend. Driving down on Thursday afternoon when Saul finished his classes at CHC, we encountered uncharacteristically light traffic and arrived at Reagan National Airport within a couple minutes of the time Ari picked up his checked bag and emerged from the terminal, returning from his business trip to Atlanta. We did not have to circle around the airport even once! Dropping our luggage at his house, we drove the few blocks to Thaitanic II, where we had a cozy and delicious Thai dinner. Afterward, we stopped into the Giant Supermarket down the street in Columbia Heights and picked up some milk, etc., and batteries for Ari’s fire alarm, which was chirping rather annoyingly.The next evening, we ate at Red Lobster in Silver Spring where we waited just a brief time for a bargain of a four-course $15 dinner served by a very accommodating waitress. While we were waiting, Saul and Ari went across the street to CVS to pick up special batteries for Ari’s burglar alarm which was not working properly.  I was kept amused in the waiting area of the restaurant by a very small boy, about two or three years old, who was having an approach-avoidance conflict with a large, live lobster in a holding tank. The expressions on his face of fear, fascination, and awe, all at the same time, were something to behold. Over dinner, Ari told us of his week-long experience at the seminar in Atlanta. Despite a half hour of the guys tweaking the alarm when we got back to the house, they were not able to fix it.

With his preoccupations and travels in the last few months, including spending time with us during the shiva for his grandmother, spending Christmas through New Year’s Eve with us, putting up Jess, the girls and me, traveling for business, and entertaining friends who came for overnight visits to see a live concert for which he had bought tickets, Ari’s house was in some degree of disarray. Of course, my winter cleaning OCD overtook me in DC as well as at home, and aided by Saul, by the time Ari arrived home after work, his whole house was clean and in order, his trash taken out, his laundry done, his new Bodum insulated glassware (a housewarming gift from Larry) unpacked, de-labeled and stacked in the cabinet and his newly-framed Ebgi (a Chanukah gift from Larry) hung where he wanted it in his bedroom. Usually, Ari is a bit upset when I move things around in his house, but this time, I think he was delighted. I got lots of exercise, especially going up and down the two flights of stairs countless times, and felt better about the calories eating out.

During the weekend we had breakfast at the retro Tastee Diner in Silver Spring, shopped at a cool, vintage mid-century-modern furniture store on Georgia Avenue called Modern Mobler, spent several hours at the car show at the downtown DC Convention Center, and caught the movie, The Artist, at the E-Street Cinema. Saul and I had Ethiopian food for the first time ever at Etete, and hopefully, will be enjoying it again many years into the future. Ari had a good laugh when I commented on the plates of hot towels that were being brought to the tables because we were about to eat an entire meal with our hands. As it turns out, what I mistakenly thought was rolled towels was actually the sponge-like bread called injera that is used to pick up the food and sop up the sauces. We also sampled a glass of Ethiopian honey wine called tej, which Ari liked, but I found a little medicinal or herby tasting, like eucalyptus. We had the vegetarian combo and each of us had a most succulent and crispy whole fried fish. We had French crepes for breakfast in Pentagon City at LaCreperie, and spent many hours shopping at Sur La Table, Costco, Marshall’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, World Market, and Nordstrum Rack. We had ice cream at Moorenko’s, a place we have been meaning to visit for several years, especially since I learned from my brother that the proprietor, Susan Soorenko, is a playmate from my childhood. She is the granddaughter of our childhood next-door neighbors, Sarah and Harry Benn. Unfortunately, we were told that she can only be found at the manufacturing plant, not at the ice cream parlor, so I am not sure if I will ever get to meet her again.

We loved the movie, The Artist, despite the fact that it was black and white and “silent,” although there was some sound that was played in a very clever way. We had a marvelous time climbing in and out of all kinds of vehicles at the car show. There was even an inventor whom we met who had converted his Prius, after it had been damaged in an accident, to run solely on solar power. He told us to look it up online as the woodie Prius. Ari bought a vintage red enamel on stainless steel bowl for the center of his dining room table. I bought a Calvin Klein dress to wear to an upcoming wedding. We picked up accessories for our houses, like new towels and a stone soap dish for Ari’s guest bathroom, accent pillows for my bed at home, bottles of a German honey made from rapsflower blossoms to add to my collection, bacon-flavored Torani syrup for Beth, the bacon maven, that actually has a circle K on it, and multi-colored pasta shaped like birthday cakes, among other things. It was a very eclectic shopping weekend and we never bought what we were really looking for, which was furniture for our guest bedroom. Before we left for home last night, we had dinner at Lebanese Taverna, a chain which we had been meaning to try for several years. We had an assortment of wonderful, Middle Eastern food—ample hot, balloon-like pita, delicious baba ganoush garnished with fresh pomegranate seeds, grilled hallouma cheese with Greek olives, shwarama, falafel, and kafta. For dessert, we shared a dessert called awamat—hot, light, fried donuts dipped in orange blossom honey and served with a baked custard topped with apricot sauce. Our waiter was exceptionally accommodating and packed up a bag of extra pita with containers of herbs and olive oil, which Saul shared this morning with his Middle Eastern global studies class.

We were on the road home by 6:30 p.m. and again, had light traffic. We went to bed at a reasonable hour all R & R’ed and happy about our productive and exotic weekend.

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