Fall Collectanea

 That summer went by fast!  Reflecting on the past few months I realize I didn’t use my warm weather wisely.  This is evidenced by the fact that this is the first summer of my entire life that I didn’t suffer a single sunburn.  How the heck did that happen?

On the bright side, we have managed to cram fun miscellany into our days before the weather gets dreadful.  For starters, we took a trip to San Francisco.  Charlie was traveling to SF for work and Facebook’s F8 conference, so I tagged along for the latter part of the trip since I had never been to the city free love and rice-a-roni built.  Love in SF isn’t always free, as it turns out, judging by the person in the hotel room next to us – but that is a story for another time!  The past few months’ events can best be described by the resulting pictures:



Full House

"What ever happened to predictability, the milk man, the paperboy, the evening TV, you miss your old familiar friends, but waiting just around the bend..."

Antique Sewing Machines
Not the best picture, but hundreds of antique sewing machines line the windows of this SF fabric store.
Cheesecake and Guava

Cheesecake and guava ice cream with a shot of espresso, yayyy!

Then there was that weekend we had a hurricane and we were stuck inside.  So we had a “humanization of dog” photo shoot which resulted in some pictures we used in some wedding-related propaganda.

Professor Coco Loco
Will do anything for treats.

A Coco photo shoot can best be described by one of us hollering commands at Coco with treats while the other tries to take the perfectly timed picture.  We had another photo shoot in an effort to get some images for the table numbers at our wedding.

Okay Coco... staaaaay, staaaaaaay

Speaking of humanizing dogs, we also attended a “puppy pool party” which was sponsored by The Wag Pack. Coco swam and ran so much she was a zombie for the two days following the party.








And... we're wet!

Then there was the weekend I celebrated a birthday, had a bachelorette party weekend in the Keys, and picked up my wedding dress at Rex Fabrics, whew!
It was a happy birthday

It was a happy birthday!

Charlie brought me the most paleo-friendly birthday cake!

Primas and Pals

Rex Fabrics is haute

I wish Rex Fabrics had an adult summer camp.


And last, but best of all… my family welcomed a new human at the end of September!!


Our new cousin Lily!

Breaking News: Earthquake?

So, THAT happened.  And now that my blood pressure has come down to acceptable levels I can admit – that was SCARY.  I fully recognize that the earthquake was minor in the greater scheme of things, but still…

Via Washington Post

Via Washington Post

When the cieling, walls and floor started shaking this is what I considered were the possible causes:



My first thought was that a gorilla was running above my office.  As the tremor got stronger and the walls started moving, I thought, terrorist attack with the plane landing nearby. As improbable as those two options seem, that still seemed more probable than an earthquake.  There is a large amount of construction nearby since they’re building a new metro so the only other imaginable possibility was that something exploded in a major way.  I didn’t even contemplate the possibility of an earthquake until a coworker yelled, “Earthquake!”  By this point my flight response had kicked in and I was standing in the doorway of my office with my purse and phone in hand poised to sprint down the 3 flights of stairs. My plan was to cross the street to 7-11 because if the world was ending, my best bet for survival was near a 7-11 with all of it’s non-perishable beef jerky and water bottles.

Charlie called me as I was sprinting down the stairwell of the office building (the construction of which I have no faith in) and I informed him that I was exiting the building in the direction of 7-11.   He had felt it too! And he was okay!!  The streets and sidewalks started to fill up with people from inside the nearby office buildings and my thoughts went to Coco at home all alone and scared with picture frames falling off the wall.

Coco, I'm on my way!

Coco, I'm on my way!

You could see there was some drywall damage upon reentry to my office, and so I got permission to work the rest of the day from home. When I got home all was well, and it turned out the earthquakes biggest toll was on my adrenaline supply. Coco was fine.

What's up dude?

What's up, dude?

And the house was fine.

Not exactly earthquake devastation.

Not exactly earthquake devastation.

So yeah, earthquakes can happen in DC. Good to know. If we’re going to endure earthquakes in addition to blizzards, I propose we move the nation’s capital to Malibu.

Caja China? Caja Charlie!

Legend has it, it is physically impossible for a person of Cuban decent to say “no” to a pig roast.  Charlie must have known this when he invited Chuchito Valdes, who was in town for another jazz show at HR-57, to come to our pig party. But let me start at the beginning.

The summer brought along with it the (now) annual “Carlos Classic,” a pig roast party (which we held at the house) sponsored by the nice folks at Clearspring, Charlie’s employer.  The pig roast, in addition to a car racing team, are just two examples of why it’s great to work for Clearspring.

The party would be different this year for a few reasons.  This year, there was a bounce-house/bouncy castle/inflatable lawsuit magnet.  This year there were TWO margarita machines.  This year the weather was nice.  This year, Charlie built his own “caja china.”

A caja china is a cheap wood box you can buy online to cook your pig that is what the average person uses to scorch their pigs.  Average will not do for Charlie.  This is one of the many reasons we love him.

What may have seemed to many like an unnoticeable detail, the “caja Charlie” was a big deal that required no less than 30 trips to Home Depot, and countless hours outside with safety goggles and power tools. Charlie was a pig roaster in shit.

Boy Stuff

pig roaster in shit

Not to be confused with the organic farm-raised pig he chose for the roast. Randomly throughout the week I got updates about the pig, like, “the pig is on its way to the butcher.”  Insert your own mental picture. Charlie’s pig roast box even had a grill on top, so he could cook us lunch while the pig roasted below… like a double oven, but constructed by Charlie.

for lunch: chicken and corn

for lunch: chicken and corn

So it was almost time for the pig roast, Charlie’s dad and cousins came into town to help setup and cook the pig. Being that they’ve all logged hundreds of hours roasting their own pigs-in-a-box, they were welcomed to join the fun.



pig in a box

That's just my pig in a box!

The night before the party, we took Charlie’s dad and cousin to see Chuchito Valdes, that I wrote about before, who happened to be back in town.  Before the show started we chatted up Chuchito who was walking around greeting people. In conversation Charlie sneaks in that we are cooking a “lechon” the next day, and invited him (the son and grandson of grammy-winning jazz legends) to come. So Chuchito responds with the only answer that seemed to be applicable, “How are you going to invite me to a lechon and expect me to say no? Of course!”

the setup

The Chuchito Quintet (hidden drummer)

I got his numba how bout them apples

Charlie and Chuchito exchange numbers

The “artists studio” in the back ended up being perfect for the tables of side items. No one broke their neck on the bouncey house.

bounce, bounce

bounce, bounce

Chuchito came and enjoyed some pig.

Chuchito, quieres un muffin?

Chuchito in the house!

Cubans in Virginia

Chuchito meets Charlie's Pop

A beer pong table appeared out of nowhere.  And our last guests left at midnight.


Mosquito-repelling tiki torches for the win

Carlos Classic 2.0 was a complete success.

I love you, summer.

You know that feeling of getting in a car that has been simmering all day, and it’s so hot it takes your breath away, the leather seats burning your thighs? I love it.

You know that feeling of going for an early morning jog (or walk with the dog) and the dew on the grass feels cool against your ankles? I love it.

Playing all day at the beach and coming home salty and sandy? I love it.

Summer may be the season of the bugs, but I’ll take it over the season of the snow shovels any day.  And although Coco seems to love a romp in the snow, I don’t think she minds the extra walks she gets, and the added time spent at the dog park.

Happy summer everyone. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to go for a r-i-d-e in the c-a-r to the d-o-g-p-a-r-k.


When life gives you LeMons…

This weekend Charlie and his coworkers are participating in a race of clunker  junkers known as the 24 hours of LeMons.  From an outsiders perspective the whole event seems like an excuse to spend two weeks dismantling a car culminating in a weekend of racetrack-testosterone-filled-fun.  Charlie explained all the rules to me, which can be found here, but the main one is that the car can’t cost more than $500.  So I assume the biggest goal is just to have a car that can run for two days straight.  48 hours is a lot to ask of the dubious jalopy Charlie will be driving.  The proof is in the pictures.



Cobra Kai till I die.

Cobra Kai till I die.

Charlie welded the rollcage himself!

Charlie welded the rollcage himself!



Sweep the leg!

Sweep the leg!
Kitchen Thermometer to Measure Engine Temperature

Kitchen Thermometer to Measure Engine Temperature

Racecar Seat

Racecar Seat

Charlie loads his welding gear.

Charlie loads his welding gear.

Tools, Welding Mask, Thingamajigs, Box Fan

Tools, Welding Mask, Thingamajigs, Box Fan

Charlie and Will discuss important things.

Charlie and Will discuss important things.

There may have been costumes involved.

There may have been costumes involved.

Almost ready to go.

Packed up and ready to go.

Godspeed, Gentlemen.

Did I tell you the one about Chuchito Valdes?

You know what’s a problematic combination? Temperatures below 50 (let’s be honest, 60) and Charlie and I discussing how nice it would be to be able to move back to Miami. When something like that happens, it’s time to find your nearest jazz club and pray that someone is playing the bongo drums that night. So that’s what we did when Chuchito Valdes (son of Grammy winner Chucho Valdes and grandson of Bebo Valdes) came to town in April and played a show at HR-57.  As luck would have it, the DC Cuban Meetup group was going that night to see him.  A herd of people saying things like, “Ya tu sabes!” and “Ay Dios mio!” was precisely what we wanted.

This was the stage:

Chuchito's Quartet

Chuchito's Quartet

We sat down and, the world being small after all, Charlie knew the head Cuban, Rosie. So she invited us to sit upfront with the rest of the Cubans.  When meeting Cubans from Miami it’s always disappointing when the first question they ask is,  “Where did you go to High School?”  But I digress…

It was with the DC Cubans that we met an older Cuban man in his 70s who was in DC from Tampa visiting his granddaughter.  That night, he was the most amazing man on the planet.  I never got his name, so for story’s sake, I’ll call him Manolo. Manolo was the BEST part of the Chuchito experience.  Not that Chuchito doesn’t put on a fantastic show, but Manolo was just so perfectly perfect.  His khaki v-neck wool sweater was exactly what my grandfather would have worn. His hair was how my grandfather would have worn it.  His accent was spot-on.  This, as it turns out, was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered for suffering caused by extended periods away from Miami/the sun/salt water/family/826, aka Miami apnea.

Manolo was old, loud, he only spoke Spanish, and he was seemingly under the impression this was a private show, between he and Chuchito, and it was hilarious.  In addition to his granddaughter who was probably in her 30s, Manolo had a saint of a wife with him too. Let’s call her Esperanza. Over the course of the evening, Manolo went from unknown man in the front row, to everyone’s abuelo. Here is how he did it.

Chuchito played the first song. It was something like this:

Chuchito Starts

Then Chuchito is done, people clap, the crowd falls silent, and then Manolo hollers, messes up his name, Esperanza corrects him, Manolo hollers again, the correct name.  Because I didn’t want to actually take pictures of Manolo for fear I would realize he was just a dream, my illustrations will have to suffice.

Old people can get away with anything.

True story.

Next Chuchito played a classical number which was something like this:

Classical Chuchito

Manolo.Was.Moved. Again, loud enough so everyone could hear him…


Possible tears.


Chuchito picked up the pace with another number in which the bongo player and the bass player had solos.  The bongo player, a guy who looked like he had been playing the bongo drums since he was 8, and probably farts a better bongo solo than most, seemed like a nice guy.  He was missing one of his front teeth but it was okay because he was just so darn good.  However, WHILE THE BONGO PLAYER WAS SOLOING, Manolo declared,

No filter.

No filter.


The upright bass player was probably six foot four inches, and had to have weighed no more than 180 lbs.   After he was done with his solo, Manolo shouted,


Take it as a complement.

Take it as a complement.


Translation: “The American man on the stage has not failed entirely at playing the bass to a latin song.  American man, you play beautifully.”

Chuchito, with the body of a baseball player, played his heart out.  Everytime Manolo yelled, Chuchito smiled. Chuchito is a pro. This only encouraged Manolo.  The show went on… (fast forward to the 3:35 mark):

Chuchito Keeps Playing

Chuchito plays, people clap, it falls silent… but, this… this… this was the best night Manolo had had in a long time.  So moved was he that he shouted precisely what he was feeling:




Esperanza didn’t even flinch. She just smiled at him adoringly. True love.


No translation.

No translation.

After the show Chuchito stuck around and took pictures with the DC Cubans, and Manolo gave Chuchito a big ol’ bear hug.


Manolo hugs Chuchito



We’ll definitely go to his next DC show, although it won’t be the same without abuelo.

Remember nature?

What is the lesson that we learn every year?  A guerilla winter should not be underestimated, and my ability to detest any temperature below 50 (or 60, let’s be honest) knows no bounds.  This year was no different.

Ooof, winter.

Ooof, winter.

Winter is hard.  With butt-clenching temperatures rendering going outside an exercise in opportunity cost analysis, Coco suffers the most because she doesn’t get walked as much as she should.


Pay attention to meee

Pay attention to meeee

Let’s face it, we all get antsy and start to do crazy things in the winter.

you know what would be funny...

yes, that's spaghetti

But now, the heavens have smiled upon us and it’s FINALLY spring.  Spring, to me, is the two days of the year where the temperature is solidly between 60 and 85.  Those days totally make the long winter worth it (sort of).  I love having seasons (sort of).  Spring, all 48 hours of it, is FANTASTIC.  It’s hard to be mad at winter when the backyard looks like this.

Coco's Room

Coco's Room






And although Coco loves a good day of getting soggy in the snow, I don’t think she minds spring either.

Bike riding with her boyfriend

Bike riding with her boyfriend

ultimate frisbee

ultimate frisbee

coco in landscape

dog park pool all to herself

And although we still have to pretend to be anywhere near a beach, it’s nice to finally unclench.

make believe ocean

so close, so far





How did we meet?

People always ask how we met.  For the sake of brevity, we sometimes simply say: Eharmony.  The truth is that Charlie’s family has been a part of my life since approximately 1994 when I met Tesi, Charlie’s sister (and maybe Chris, Charlie’s brother, I can’t remember) at sailing camp.

1990s Tesi and I (and Chris?)

1994-ish Tesi and I (and Chris?)

The following year Charlie’s mom, Ceci, was my math teacher.  And a few years after that, I went to high school and college with Chris.

Me and college Chris

Me and college Chris

At some point along that time line Charlie and I saw each other a few dozen times.  The future, though, wouldn’t find us single at the same time, in the same city at the same time, until December 18, 2008, when we went on our first date to the really fancy Arlington restaurant known as El Pollo Rico (which serves the best $5 chicken in town) when I was in DC from NY for a job interview and an office Christmas party.  We went on our first grown-up date while in Miami for Christmas, and the rest, as they say, is history.

December 26, 2008

December 26, 2008

Happy Coco-versary!

This week we celebrated the Coco-versary.  A year ago, the Coco-bomb dropped and we had no idea what we were in for.

So happy. So naive.

So happy. So naive.

Even better than the Coco-versary, the weather was suddenly above 70 degrees!  There really is only one way to celebrate temperatures so high: BBQ and beer.  So that’s exactly what we did on the day before the first day of spring.

Smiling on Charlie's shoulder.

My tulips are coming up (roses) tulips!

There's something about going from 40 to 80 degrees overnight that calls for the smell of charred protein.

My feelings on spring being here can best be described by the following pictures:


It is nor hand, nor foot

Today I write you in reference to the ugly shoes sweeping the nation gym.  I’m talking about these “shoes”:

size 13 shoes/feet/socks/gloves/fingers/toes

Charlie purchased those “shoes” two years ago.  At first I was horrified.  My brain was saying shoes, but my eyes were saying fingers, feet, does not compute. So I did what everyone does with things they don’t understand, I made fun of them.  Secretly though, I was jealous that Charlie could pull those “shoes” off.

Toe shoes make an appearance at the opening morning of lobster mini-season

Pulling cool or trendy items of clothing “off” has never been my forte.  Also, having spent the greater part of 2009 running many miles around an outdoor track, I had a deep appreciation for a “shoe” that alleged to take away shin and foot pain caused by running.

Did someone say "Charlie"?

Did someone say "shoe"?

All your shoes are belong to me.

That which we call a shoe, by any other name would smell as sweet, to Coco.

Lately, though, I’ve seen these shoes EVERYWHERE, and really want some! especially at the gym.  And every time I see someone with them on, I double-take thinking they’re pulling a prom-girl-barefoot-on-the-dance-floor walking on gross gym carpeting, flesh-to-floor.  Is this just a northern-virginia-DC-triathlete-outdoorsy-trend, or are these shoes officially “happening”?