....GREG & JAM'S NEWSLETTER....
12 March - Dinner With The Folks: Greg went to dinner with his parents and it turned out to be a "pre-birthday" dinner. He is now the happy owner of a DVD player - woo hoo! It turns out they noticed how stoked he was to watch King Crimson on Sunday (see 9 March) and decided they knew what they should get one for us before we did. We will have the official Birthday dinner when the Mrs. gets back from San Antonio. Thanks again mom & dad!
10 March - JA In TX: Julie Anne is on her way to San Antonio for some training. Her flight was at 0830 this morning so we were at National Airport bright and early (or at least early). This is the first time we have been to National since we left for Germany 7 years ago and the terminal renovation was done very well. It is big and airy, with lots of exposed beams, light colors, and the wall facing the runway made mostly of glass so you can see the city. There are loads of stores, and all kinds of interesting art and decorations. We also got a call from one of our Kirchdorf friends - Sylvia called to say hi and see how things are going.
9 March - Birthday Lunch: We headed to Greg's parent's house for a birthday lunch (courtesy of Colonel Sanders) and to do a little visiting. After picking up a dragonfly balloon at a local store, we went to the homestead where we relaxed, checked out quilts & transportation tokens, and even watched a King Crimson DVD.
8 March - Visitors From Maine: This evening we got to have dinner with Kim and Jeff and meet Kate for the first time. Jeff is in town on business so we met at the hotel and headed over to the Capitol City Brewing Company for some light fare and beer. It was an enjoyable evening and added fuel to our "move to New England fire"!
7 March - Beth Is Famous!: Beth was written up in Fortune magazine for her restaurant in New Hampshire - congratulations Beth! Click here or on the picture to read the article and go to her restaurant if you happen to be in NH.
6 March - More Small Biz: Greg took an adult ed class on marketing a small business. It wasn't as good as the 13 Feb. class but it was still interesting.
4 March - Second Cooking Class: The teacher whipped up another 8 or so dishes tonight including various sauces, soups, pasta, steaks and skewers. It was informative and amazing to watch this guy tell stories while he explained what he was doing to prepare the different recipes.
3 March - Jettisons & Dinner With A Ski Friend: Part of today was spent getting rid of books and videos that we no longer want. We are still on a 2-year mission to boldly divest ourselves of all forms of stuff and clutter around us. We still have a lot more to go, but we made some good progress today. Our friend Jeff, who we used to ski with in Germany, is here TDY and we went out to dinner with him at a Thai place in Old Town. The restaurant is across the street from City Hall and always smells good when we have walked by so we tried it out. The food was good & spicy and the servers were very attentive - 2 thumbs up. Even though it was cold and windy we walked down to the river and then over to Ben & Jerry's to get some cool ice cream to finish the meal. Sure it means an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill but you only live once.
1 March - ISP Changes Means New Servers & New Addresses: We were among the poor unwashed masses impacted by the demise of the @home ISP. So.... Comcast is migrating Web and mail servers and that means our e-mail address has changed and there will be some glitches with our web page for the near term. We still have an address where you can always reach us - please be sure to update your address book with . That address will always work, at least until yahoo stops offering the service.
We haven't updated the web for a while because a lot has been happening. We will catch up again before too long, but since the last update we went to Maine for X-Mas and then to Austria for our annual January trip to one of the best places in the world. We have also seen some friends we knew from Germany who are now living in the DC area. Check back in a few weeks for more pictures and details.
27 February - Infusion Of Culture: We went to the Kennedy Center to see The Joffrey Company perform The Rite of Spring, Prelude to an Afternoon with a Faun, and Jeux. The music was played well and the costumes/sets were very colorful. The orchestra wasn't that large but there was plenty of volume coming out of the pit for the Rite of Spring!
25 February - Cooking Class: We went to a 3-hour cooking class at the local adult ed center to learn the "Secrets of the Chefs." It was a fun class where a local chef showed us how to efficiently make 8 different dishes (including omelets, stir-fry, and wrapped salmon). The general idea is to show you how to make yummy food fast and it really works - the guy made all of the dishes with fresh ingredients while he was talking to us. We have a follow on class next Monday.
24 February - Hooking Up in Annapolis: Kristen brought Zoe to visit relatives in Maryland and we took the opportunity to see them. We met in Annapolis and spent time hanging out together, eating at Buddy's Crabs, and getting to meet Zoe since she did not exist when we left for Germany! The weather was great, Annapolis is a very pleasant place, and it was a treat to see them both.
19 February - Little Shop of Horrors: Went to the Dentist - ouch.
17 February - Wild Babies & A 7 Mile Run: Today's highlight was a trip to the National Zoo. We saw the baby elephant, gorilla, and the young giraffe - what a hoot. We visited some of the other exhibits too and then ran from the zoo down the Rock Creek Parkway, over Memorial Bridge, and down the river to the Pentagon. There was a lot to look at on the run as we went by the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Memorial, and part of the National Cemetery and it was a good way to start the day.
16 February - From Russia to Germany to Virginia to Greece and Mexico: We met John and Dee on our Russia trip 4 years ago and hadn't really seen them until tonight when we went out for dinner at a Greek place in Old Town. It was fun to meet up, hang out and compare notes on all the things that have been happening over the past few years. After dinner we wandered around Old Town (always nice) and stumbled upon a Mexican place having a grand opening and giving away free Burritos. We were all stuffed, but got some food anyway for brunch on Sunday. The place was called Chipotle's and the Burritos were delicious.
14 February - Valentine's Day: 12 years ago today we went out on our first solo date at TGI Friday's in Boston. Today we celebrated by going to TGI Friday's near our apartment. A lot has changed, but the French Dip sandwiches still taste good and we had another good date.
13 February - Small Business Class: Greg took an adult ed class on starting up a small business. We have no immediate plans to do this, but it is a possibility in the future. The teacher had 5 small businesses, 1 of which has been around for 32 years, and he also brought a lawyer friend who has been helping teach the class for 15 years. For $25 they taught an overview of how to start a small business, tax considerations, permits, etc. and answered all of our questions. It was time and money well spent.
11 February - Furniture Medic Comes By: We are still fighting with the movers about some damages so we called Furniture Medic for a second opinion. They came out and gave us some ammo to fight the bureaucrats with!
10 February - Rebuilding Music Rig: Greg started shopping today for some new music equipment. The plan is to build a small digital home recording studio so he went to a local store for some pricing. A lot has changed since the last time we got gear, but the process is started - hopefully we can put some musical samples on the web site in a few months!
9 February - Outback Birthday: Today we celebrated Aunt Linda's Birthday at the Outback steak house in Fairfax. The clan was all there and we chowed on some good food.
30 November - Under The Knife: The
first thing is to say JA is doing well - she is currently in a
Percocet induced wonderland but was doing well while she was
awake. When we arrived at the hospital this morning at 0615 they
prepped JA, gave her some drugs to help stay calm, and eventually
took her to the Operating Room. The procedure was supposed to
take 3 hours, but about 40 minutes into it, the receptionist said
the Dr. wanted to talk to me (Greg). I thought, "this
doesn't sound good."
The doc said that he was on the fence about whether to proceed because, while the ACL was 50% torn, it was stronger than he expected. Plus when he checked to see how well the ACL was attached, he could see the area where it anchors was also damaged but the ACL was firmly connected. He wanted a decision on whether to do the reconstruction or to do a less invasive procedure. I asked how long it would be before the graft from the reconstruction would be as strong as the existing ACL and he said a year and a half. He also said the ACL has nerves and the graft would only function as a tether. After further discussion we decided that Julie Anne should have the less invasive procedure and if that didn't solve the problem she could come back in the future - the reconstruction is irreversible, but the lesser procedure doesn't do that kind of damage and the recovery time would be 3-6 months as opposed to 6-9 months.
The Dr. thought that a lot of the pain and stiffness JA has been experiencing is caused by damaged cartilage under the knee cap that was very rough when it should be smooth. This caused pain because the rough cartilage would abrade the smooth cartilage below every time JA walked, ran, etc. The surgeon essentially scraped the rough cartilage under the kneecap and said it was kind of like having a wall with peeling paint and scraping it to get to a solid base. After doing the procedure the 2 surfaces are smooth and should function better. He also inspected and cleaned up the area around the medial meniscus, which had a tear.
So Julie Anne has holes and stitches in her leg now, but the good news is that the surgery did not require full ACL reconstruction. And although scraping cartilage from under the kneecap is very painful, Julie Anne's recovery should happen faster, hurt less, and be overall less intense then what we were originally expecting. We will post some pictures soon.
29 November - Big Preparations: We did some last minute errands as we prepared for JA's surgery tomorrow. JA is also taking care of lots of things around the house before being put out of commission for a few weeks. Julie Anne received several e-mails and phone calls from friends and family wishing her good luck and we want to say, "Thanks!" to everybody that did.
26 November - Magic Show: This evening we saw Harry Potter. It was a solidly fun movie and was pretty true to the book. It is a long movie, so here is 1 tip - think twice before ordering the supersized soda.
25 November - Last Run For A Few Months, Storage Bin, The 'Skins Set A Record: Because it is getting darker earlier now, we only get to run outside on weekend mornings. However, this will be the last outdoor run for JA for a while since she is getting major knee surgery this Friday. We discovered she isn't invincible after a recent visit to an orthopedic surgeon confirmed she had trashed her ACL (an important ligament for the knee) when she crashed her bike during the triathlon a while back. She has been able to continue running, but can't push too hard or do sports like skiing, soccer, skating, etc. that involve sudden changes of direction. She might be able to continue on without the surgery, but given how much she enjoys sports in general and skiing in particular, that is probably not good. So..... we went out on our favorite local run one last time before she goes in for work on her knee.
On the positive side, we finally made it to the top of the list for a storage bin and moved a bunch of boxes and things into it - we now have more room in the "Library." Also, the Redskins won their 5th game in a row today by beating the Philadelphia Eagles - it is the first time in history that an NFL team has gone 0-5 and then won 5 in a row. The win puts the 'Skins in 2nd place - hooray!
24 November - Lebanese Bakery, A Mall, 2 Unexpected Meetings, 1 Pleasant Evening: There are a lot of people in this area from the Middle East, and as a result there are a lot of good places to get Middle Eastern food. One of them is a Mediterranean Bakery on the other side of Alexandria that we try to visit a few times a month. It is a food market with goods from the Middle East, Europe, and America, a bakery that makes all kinds of specialties, and there is a small area in the back where they do live fire cooking. You can get Schawarmas, Shish-Kabobs, Humus, and all kinds of freshly made goodies for less than it costs to go to McDonald's. We went there today for lunch and to pick up Baklavas and other similar pastries for dinner tonight. While at the bakery we ran into Mary, someone who used to work with JA at the Hard Rock in Washington DC over 6 years ago. One thing that has changed is that she has a kid - one thing that hasn't is that she is still really nice.
After having Shish-Tawook (grilled marinated chicken and vegetables wrapped in Pita) and buying some treats, we went to Springfield Mall to do some shopping. We had our second unexpected meeting at the mall when we saw Carrie in the parking lot - the place is huge, what are the chances? We hung out and talked for a bit and then headed inside. We didn't pick up much, although we scored some big picture-laden Mediterranean and Stir-Fry cookbooks in the bargain bin.
We drove around the Beltway to visit Rich and Paula, friends from Germany, in Maryland. We hadn't seen them since having dinner at Abdo's (See 17 May, 2001), and it is hard to believe 6 months have passed since then. Although they moved here a bit after us, their house looks great - a big beautiful place with terrific furniture from Europe. We got caught up on events since we had seen each other, commiserated on how chaotic/frantic things are here, had a few beers and watched a movie. It was a relaxing way to end the day.
23 November - Shopping Mania, Warm Weather, Ice-Skating Rinks: The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Official Start of the American countdown to Christmas. Everybody waddles out of their homes (see details about Thanksgiving feasts below), and visits nearby shopping malls - ostensibly to "start shopping for others" but in reality it is about scouting out all the cool new things in the stores so you can make your wish list to give family members who really are "shopping for others." Today we went to the mall at Pentagon City and it was packed with people.
We are still getting acclimated to things here and the size of the stores and the amount of stuff available is really unbelievable. Still, we managed to pick out some fun things and found some great kitchen stores as well as a good outdoors store. Although it was about 60F/16C, some enterprising individual opened a small outdoor ice skating rink near the mall. We watched the people for a while and think that orthopedic specialists will have extra money this season after seeing all the people falling on their knees and elbows while trying to remember how to skate. We also saw CNN's own John Zarella skating around with his kids - just a regular guy spending time with the family.
22 November - Turkey Day: Thanksgiving is an American holiday started when the English settlers had a huge feast to give thanks that they had survived the year in the New World and they invited the Indians, who had essentially shown them how to survive in the tough new environment. Of course, after the settlers got comfortable living in the New World, they ran the Indians off the land and exploited them for centuries, but that is another story. Although we spent 5 of the last 6 Thanksgivings in Austria (the other was in Russia), we tried something new this year and spent it with family. We headed South to Greg's folks for a feast with all the family. Greg's Mom outdid herself with a giant spread and unbelievably tasty food - the places we have spent the last several Thanksgivings have accommodated us by making Turkey, but there is no place like home when it comes to a Thanksgiving dinner. For those outside America, a Thanksgiving feast usually has a big Turkey, and tons of mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, salad, green beans, applesauce, cranberry sauce, and numerous desserts. Another important Thanksgiving tradition is watching a football game, and even though the Redskins weren't playing this year, the Detroit-Green Bay game was a good one. As with our last visit to the homestead, we were sent home with a few armfuls of food, and it was an enjoyable relaxing day.
21 November - Movie Club In The US & 5 Guys: Tonight, the movie club was partially reconstituted in America as Tom & Pam were in our area and made some time to hang out with us. We saw the movie "Spy Game" in a huge movie complex that has 22 theaters under one roof (no joke). Spy Game is a good movie and it was really great to go out again with Tom & Pam - the only way it could have been better is if we had seen the Landstuhl castle as we came out of the theater! We stopped by Pam's place on the way home and then picked up some burgers at 5 Guys before heading back to our place for dinner and a Pink Panther movie on AMC. Tom will be heading back to Germany in a few days and Pam is going back to Plano soon, but it was a pleasure to see them today!
18 November - Visiting The Folks, Shooting Stars: Now that our apartment is not a maze of cardboard boxes, packing papers, bubble wrap, etc. and things are settling down a bit, we had some time to visit family. We started the day by waking up around 0500 to watch the Leonid meteor showers. It was very clear and even though we live so close to the city, the shooting stars were bright enough that we could see several every few minutes - it almost seemed uneal. After a morning run, we headed South to see Greg's parents. It was a good day as we hung out for a few hours talking, looked through family stuff, picked up some things we had left with them before moving to Germany, and of course - had some munchies. The traffic gods were smiling on us too as there was almost no traffic to speak of driving there or back and to top it off, the folks gave us some goulash and a big tin filled with cookies - yum!
P.S. There is almost no accounting for it, but the Redskins won again! That makes 4 in a row - maybe the coach won't get tarred and feathered after all.
17 November - Household Goods And Horses: Our day started with a 35 minute run at 0630 so we could be home in time for the insurance adjuster to check damages from our move. The move went well overall, but a few things got beat up. The guy spent about 30 minutes looking at the damaged items, taking notes, and then said he would arrange to have restoration people come repair our goods. We went to Fairfax in the afternoon to pick up our things from the tailor (a perfect job as usual), Greg got a haircut, and we stopped by a framing store. After that we met Jamie and Beth at the Turkish place for dinner before going to see the Lippizaner horses perform at the Patriot Center, located on the campus of George Mason University. During the show, the MC explained the horses' bloodlines, the steps they do, and of course there were all kinds of synchronized performances. The most impressive part of the show was when they had the horses do different jumps and kicks. They are beautiful animals.
11 November - Veteran's Day, A Birthday, A Season Premiere: We called JA's dad to wish him a happy ummmm.... 29th Birthday. Zeus (as we like to call him) seems to be celebrating as a good Bon Vivant, Raconteur, Man-About-Town should. The Redskins didn't play this week, but we had the season premiere of the X-Files and that made up for it.
10 November - Errands, A Discovery, and Dinner Out: We headed to Fairfax to have the best tailors in the world repair some clothes. We used to go there when we lived in Fairfax, and also when visiting from Germany because they always do a good job. After that we went to Total Crafts to check out frames for some of our pictures. We found an unexpected nearby treat for lunch - a Turkish Bakery. We had fabulous Chicken Kabob, Lamb Kabob, Borek (kind of like a burrito but filled with cheese), rice, and salad. We knocked out a few other errands and then had dinner out with Jamie and Beth at the Red Lobster. The Red Lobster is a family restaurant with a nautical theme and big seafood dishes. Greg had shrimp appetizers and a 45 shrimp dinner, and JA got the 30 shrimp dinner. Good stuff.
6 November - Election Day: We voted for our state's Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and state representatives. We went to the polling area, which was in a nearby college's auditorium, after going for a 35 minute run. It was well organized, and you voted for candidates by filling in circles next to the candidate's name - no chance of pregnant chads here.
4 November - 3 In A Row: Everybody is shocked - the Redskins won again! They beat Seattle today and life is good. The X-Files premiere was delayed due to Game 7 of the World Series. In the meantime, we continued doing apartment stuff.
3 November - That Last Little Bit: We are almost totally moved in now - we even have pictures on the wall! We blitzed the "Library" today and totally organized the closet, got rid of some extra games and books, and prepared some things for the storage bin. We don't actually have the bin yet because we had to go on the waiting list until one becomes available, so one corner of that room has become the staging area. We also purged some videotapes that we don't need and the highlight of the day was seasoning the Wok we got from Moebel Martin just before we moved. There is some stir-fry in our future!
2 November - Just Some Fun At Home: This evening we enjoyed some simple things by playing a board game called Travel Buff (kind of like Trivial Pursuit but the major areas are based on continents and the questions are about the cities and countries in that part of the world), ordered Domino's Pizza, and watched 4 episodes of the X-Files so we would be caught up for the Season Premiere next week.
28 October - Trip Down Memory Lane: the Skins Win Again: It was cool clear weather today so we started with a nice run over trails and through the woods. Although we didn't get any stempels or beer at the end, it felt a lot like a German Volksmarch. After the run, we tried to go through all the video and audio tapes that had been stored away for the past 6 years. We started watching some of the old videos and listening to the tapes but didn't get through very many because they came from Greg's musical days and had songs, compositions, and other projects that we listened to for a few hours. It brought back lots of memories (but probably not all of them since it was college after all and there was a lot of beer to be consumed back then) and was a pleasant way to spend the day. We also watched the Redskins beat the Giants - that makes 2 wins in a row! What a day.
If you aren't too familiar with Washington D.C.'s football team, you can check out their homepage by clicking here. P.S. for our friends in Europe one of the best things about American football (besides tailgate parties) is the cheerleaders. Their page is here.
27 October - Housewares, Recon, and Greek Food: We started the day with a trip to the gym, and although we are about 90% done moving in, we still have a few tubs of things to put away and need a few doo-dads for our place. Today we headed over to Bed Bath and Beyond for a scale, a rod with which to mount a wall hanging, and a few other things for the apartment. After that, we scouted out a doctor's office for an upcoming appointment, and then we had lunch at a nearby Greek Restaurant disguised as a Pizza place. We got Greek pizza which had Gyro meat, tomatoes, feta cheese and fresh garlic - yum. They also have regular Greek food on the menu and we will be visiting that place again. After that we came home and continued working on home stuff.
26 October - Jamie's Big Day: After work today, we headed over to Jamie's before going out with her, Beth, Pat, Ellie, Robin, and Wendy to the Lone Star Steak house to celebrate her [not telling how many] Birthday. We both had Texas ribeye steaks that were soooo succulent and we split some Key Lime pie for dessert. We miss lots of things about living in Europe, but nothing beats American steak!
22 October - GENERAL NOTE: Because we have been so busy with the move, unpacking, administrivia, adapting to new jobs, etc., etc., etc., we haven't found much time to do the newsletter. However, we will start regularly updating it again and hope to soon fill in the gaps between leaving Germany and arriving here. Stay tuned....
P.S. Hi Schmiele - thanks for pushing us a bit :-)
21 October - Honored Guest For Brunch: Pam was in town and came by our apartment for Brunch. We had omelets, sausages, and Mimosas. As usual it was a fun time and we got to catch up on the latest happenin's in Plano, Texas - yeehah! We also got a call from Nancy who wanted to plan ski trips in Canada and Austria. As if all that weren't enough to make a Sunday great, the Redskins won their first game of the season! They really are bad this year but it is in Greg's blood to root for them and watch the games no matter how painful it is.
20 October - Farm Fest: We went to a big Farm in Centreville for a Fall Farm Festival. The weather was more perfect than you could hope for and it was beautiful to see the trees all changing colors against a clear sky and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. We saw a cow-milking exhibition (you would have liked that Susie), had apples, apple cider, munchies, and even got 2 complimentary pumpkins. The highlight of the day was the really long hayride that went through cornfields decorated with all kinds of sculptures, and paintings of weird cartoon characters. The best part of the hayride was the section that had a rocket, 2 live aliens, a live astronaut, and a big flying saucer - only in America.
19 October - Nummer 60 for Onkel: Today we headed out to Front Royal to celebrate Uncle Butc... Clinchken's 60th Birthday. It made us wish a bit for Germany as it was held in a German-style cafe. We finally got to meet our niece and we saw the rest of the family too. Check back for pictures soon. P.S. Alles Gut Zum Geburtstag Onkel!
15 October - Training Days: Greg started a 3 day class today on using a project management tool called Primavera.
28 September - Mexican CD Cabinet (Part II): This evening we picked up the replacement CD cabinet from Marlos. It was in better shape than the other one and looks good in our new pad.
26 September - A Nice Surprise: After a long day at work, our evening was made substantially brighter by a call from Tom & Susie - hooray! We hadn't spoken much since leaving Germany and it was good to get caught up on things since we moved to Virginia and they moved to Utah. They are in a beautiful part of the country and we are jealous after hearing about their new setup - we can't wait to visit!
P.S. It is hard to believe it has been a year since we went to the Corn Maze. We are sure Susie misses it terribly...
23 September - Back Online: We got a cable modem installed in our apartment recently and are back online. A lot has happened since we left Germany in June. We kept notes for some of it, but a lot of it is a blur. We will start updating our newsletter again soon so please be sure to check back often.
P.S. Thanks to everybody who checked on us after the 11 September attacks. Greg works across the highway from the Pentagon and Julie Anne can see the Pentagon from her building - what a day. Some of you have already heard our story, but we posted it in case you would like to read it - click HERE to read it. In any case, the picture below is a little slice of Americana: it was taken on 4 July at a lake in the state of Maine near Nancy and Linda's camp.
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