Friday, September 18, 2009

The rest of Day 2

So, of course, Jeff was hungry.
Having missed most of breakfast.
So we paid a visit to Five Guys Hamburgers, where Jeff chowed down on hamburger and fries.
I ate a few fries.
Five dollar hamburgers DO NOT thrill me.

Then we decided to brave the Metro bus system to get back to the other Marriott, where we were due to attend a couple of Resistnet events.
We forgot that we were in the NE section of town and the other Marriott was in the NW section. So the bus actually took us further away from our destination. I don't think residents of DC walk very much, because every time we would ask directions or how long it would take us to walk, people would say "Oh, that will take you an hour, it's a LONG way." Then we would walk it anyway.

Miles later, we were at the Marriott for activism training.
I kid you not.
Here is (maybe) the new motto for all us resistance types.

Clever, is it not?
Later, at the Meet and Greet, we met lots of people who had come for the march. Some on a last-minute whim. Some on their own, knowing no one else. Lots of people from Texas. A very few from Oregon, who were making posters behind the curtains. Here is one of mine.

We stuck with our new Oregon friends

for the pro-troops rally outside the Walter Reid Memorial Hospital. We shared a taxi, six of us squished into the car with a crazy Middle-Eastern-type cab driver.
There have been anti-war demonstrators outside the hospital every Friday night for the last 300 weeks. Sometimes they are crass and unkind to veterans who pass them, so this was our chance to undo some of that.
It was great. There must have been three or four hundred people lining the four corners of the entrance, with banners and posters, and cars honking to show their support constantly. It was, of course, drizzling.

After hanging out at Union Station for a while, we caught the train back to the hotel, where we found a message that Annie and Edwin were on their way to march with us.

I have a little video of honking cars, but it's not uploading for me, so check back later. Maybe Bethany can show me how.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day 2, morning, of the Great Adventure

Friday morning, I discovered where my children got their complete inability to hurry.
And it wasn't from me.
Let's just say that we did not have time for the leisurely FREE breakfast for which I had been hoping. Rather, we grabbed muffins and ran for the shuttle which took us to the Metro Bus which took us to the Metro train which took us into downtown Washington DC. Whew! All for the price of about $5 each.
It was raining lightly as we emerged from the train station. We were due in an hour at the Hyatt to pick up petitions against the health care bill so that we could deliver them to our Oregon senators. Unfortunately, I didn't know that there exist several Hyatt Hotels in the downtown area, so several wrong turns and miles later, drenched to the skin, we arrived at the correct hotel. A half-hour late. Wheeling one sopping wet backpack and carrying the other.
The rain was no longer light.
Grassfire was glad to see us, because, of course, we were the only ones from Oregon to show up. A man handed us two nice white boxes containing the petitions and instructions for the delivery. We took stock of our situation (not good) and decided that walking back down to the Capitol was not a righteous plan, so we shared a taxi with another couple.
By the time we got to the senate offices, the pretty white boxes looked a little bedraggled, like us, but we delivered them anyway. We got a pretty cool reception from our Democrat Senators' staffs, which we expected, but it was an interesting experience anyway.

Then Jeff said, "Why don't we go visit Joe Wilson's office?"
If any gentle readers are not familiar with WHY he would say that, just Google the name. You will see and understand.
So we did.
And we received a very warm welcome, which was balm to our souls after, let's face it, a rather difficult morning. One of the aides offered to let us take a photo behind the good Congressman's desk. Edwin's Mom, Deon, said "He should decorate his walls with photos or something."

The day turned for the better after this nice encounter.
The rain stopped falling.
We felt more special and appreciated.
So we decided to take our soggy selves and see if the Marriott would let us check in early. We walked. A long way. And on the way we passed this building.

The Ronald Reagan Republican Center.

Yeah, I know, the Reagan bust is not very pretty, but it was the principle of the thing. So much liberalism in one town. It was refreshing to find an oasis of conservatism.

Then this building, which covered a whole block.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Now wouldn't ya think, with all that space and manpower, that the SEC could have figured Bernie Madoff out before he ruined all those nice millionaires?

We also passed the building of Government Accountability, Integrity, and Reliability. Seriously. It's true! Now that was a puzzle. What do they do? We could only figure that when new politicians arrive in DC, they have to check their accountability etc. into the building before they can go to the capitol. Hmmmm.

Walking, walking, walking, we passed a school that had trunks of trees grown into its chain link fence. Which trees had then been cut down, leaving only the stray bits hanging on the fence. Interesting concept of playground decor.

We eventually arrived at the Marriott just after noon, having spent an entertaining hour chortling at the vagaries and curiosities of our government, as displayed by its curious office buildings.
And yes, the concierge let us check in early.
So I strung all of our wet belongings around the room to dry while Jeff took a shower. I, having sensibly worn lightweight Chico's Zenergy clothing, (especially formulated for being worn whilst traveling) was already dry.

Are we bored yet?
More to come on Day 1.

P.S. Did you notice the sticks I'm holding in the Reagan photo? Remember those sticks. I will probably tell their story at some point.

Day 1 of the Great Adventure

Oh my, where do I begin?
I have so much to tell you.
I am completely overwhelmed.
And another trip in exactly a week with a list a mile long to accomplish before we leave.
So today, you get Day 1.

As aforementioned, Charlie took us to the airport very early on Thursday morning. We flew to Long Beach and then on to Dulles. Kudos to jetBlue for the unintentionally free movies and blue potato chips. After arrival I called the hotel to ask for the shuttle and then went to the bathroom. A recurring theme on this trip. The bathroom, not the cell phone. We had no checked baggage so proceeded on the long and winding road across concourses and down hallways to the bus area.
Where I discovered I no longer had my cell phone.
And we couldn't go back through security.
And no one seemed to know where the "lost and found" was.
I hate airport employees, who seem to have absolutely no concern for travelers.
Yes, I know "hate" is a strong word, but I felt rather strongly about it after having walked up and down the baggage area several times on the advice of uniformed people who obviously couldn't care less.
I deduced I must have left the phone at the jetBlue gate and was out of luck until our return trip.
So I scrounged the use of a cell phone from a poor woman who had been stranded at the airport all day and had finally been given a hotel voucher by the airline.
See, there's always someone worse off than you!
I called the hotel and we finally arrived there just before 8pm.
Hungry, having not had an actual meal all day.
Myron the concierge, bless his name forever, got us a meal from the kitchen.
Lasagna and creamy chicken pasta.
It was manna to our hungry bellies.

Another pleasant surprise:

The Staybridge Hotel is set up for extended stays and is like a little town. We paid less than $100 and were upgraded to a two-bedroom unit. It was as big as an apartment. Too bad we didn't have time to enjoy it. We had to be up and out early the next morning to get to the big city.

Score for the day

Bad guys:1
Good guys:1
That's a draw.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Godspeed Charlie

Very early on Thursday morning, Charlie took us to the airport. In an ironic twist of planning, we were scheduled to leave a day before him. Thank you, Marine Corps, for making life interesting once again. They seem to be unable or unwilling to make a plan and stick to it.

Bethany took the family responsibility on her tender shoulders and took Charlie to the PDX on Friday morning. Things were a little (!) emotional.

I had contacted the fearless leader of the Oregon Soldiers' Angels, Sherry Crenshaw, who promised that she would organize a memorable send-off for our Marine. She is a member of the Patriot Guard, which turned out in fine form. These men and women might look a bit rugged, but they are some of the best-hearted people you could ever want to meet.

The honour guard....

...and a prayer circle.

Please, God, take care of our boy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rabble-rousers all

We're off....
....into the wild blue yonder.
JET Blue, of course.
Off to change the world.
With our trusty banner.

Stay tuned for (hopefully) frequent updates.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pink Martini

On Saturday night, Jeff and I went to a concert at the Oregon Zoo.
It was one of those concerts where you have to carry in your own seat, not knowing if it's going to rain, so you also carry your umbrella and raingear.
Where you have to arrive two hours early to make sure that you get a parking space and a place in which to park your chair.
You know those kinds of concerts?
I think I'm getting too old for them!
But Pink Martini was playing and the tickets were less than $20 each.
So we braved it.
We sat through an hour of the Oregon Army Band, which was okay, especially the part where everyone claps and cheers (especially me) for the branches of the armed services as they play the anthems.
Then an hour of an excruciatingly corny show called "Oregon, Oregon!"
Which made you almost ashamed to call yourself an Oregonian.
(If you were so lucky as to be able to do such a thing)
And then the show that we had waited for for four hours.
Pink Martini.
The incomparable China Forbes.
Whose voice can soothe, thrill, or amuse you.
Whose voice is sometimes like honey, smooth and dulcet, but at the top of her range is reminiscent of Sarah Brightman, clear and pure and totally controlled. She lilts, croons, and sometimes shrieks, with a voice so big it commands every bit of your attention.
These videos are a few years old. China is now a little larger than she used to be. In my opinion, her voice is also better.

Here are a couple of tunes for your enjoyment.
Turn the volume WAY up!

And my personal favourite, which now resides at the top of my playlist...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Let's hear it for the boy!

Charlie and Annie are home.

Charlie drove home from San Diego through the night.
Sixteen hours, on his own.
I was impressed....till I found the caffeine shots in his truck.
Ah, that's how he did it!
Still, his Marine training is showing.

The house has been crawling with family and friends all week.
Grandchildren having sleepovers.

Daniel and Joshua adore their Uncle Charlie.

My schedule has gone crazy, trying to fit in all the family stuff as well as work.
On Wednesday, for the first time, I missed a music therapy session.
I remembered at 11:30 on Thursday night.
A symptom of my recent cognitive dissonance.
Partly stress over our upcoming trips.
But mostly, I suspect, at the prospect of Charlie's deployment.
It is no longer an intellectual exercise, but reality.