Week 27, 28, and 29: Shedding the Excess, Touring the National Building Museum, and Making Something Useful out of Wood

Week Twenty-Seven – Shedding the Excess

A few weeks ago, I traded my cramped studio in Logan Circle for a sunny one-bedroom with a patio in Eastern Market. When I began to my things, I balked at how much extraneous STUFF I own, particularly in my wardrobe. Although I’ve moved six times in the last eight years, I am notorious for throwing clothes into the “keep” pile, because … maybe … someday … you never know, I might wear it again!? Ironically, I always seem to throw away household items that I know I’ll immediately need in my new place – such as cleaning supplies. (Seriously, who wants to pack a used sponge?).

            And so, I decided that my New Thing during Week 27 would be to strip myself of anything and everything I haven’t worn in the last year. After much internal struggling, I was left with four (!) overstuffed garbage bags filled with clothes. Setting aside one bag of items I thought may suit my sister and/or friends, the other three were offered on Craigslist to the first Size 4 willing to show up on my doorstep.

            As I scrubbed my kitchen with a soon-to-be-discarded sponge, the new owner of half my wardrobe arrived in a beat-up sedan. “Are there any work-appropriate clothes?” she asked. I assured her that there were and helped her load up the car. In the end, not only did I clear out my closet – my old clothes went to someone who truly need them. An hour after the girl left, I received the following text message:

Thank you SO much for the clothes! Everything fit perfectly. I just moved to the area and didn’t know how I’d afford new clothes for this weather and my new job. God Bless!!!

Week Twenty-Eight – Touring the National Building Museum

           In my experience, DC cabdrivers are an interesting lot. A recent backseat conversation inspired two New Things, one of which I accomplished during Week Twenty-Eight. During a short ride downtown, the driver and I swapped stories about more obscure, but notable sites around the District. I told him about my visits to Jones Point Lighthouse in Alexandria and the Old Stone House in Georgetown. In response, he insisted that I check out President Lincoln’s cottage near Rock Creek Cemetery. Peering at me through the rear-view mirror, he asked “have you seen the National Building Museum? Beautiful!” As we arrived at my office building, he waved goodbye and gestured ahead – “its only a few blocks away from here!”

         Not to disappoint my enthusiastic cabbie, I ventured to the museum a few days later while on my lunch break. I was thrilled to trade the cloying humidity for the cool, open air of the museum’s Great Hall. Equipped with a self-guided tour downloaded to my smart phone, I wondered through each exhibit. I peered up at the massive Corinthian columns, which I learned are among the largest in the world.  Aside from the grand view of the main hall, its most notable feature is the frieze that adorns the exterior of the building. The ornate stonework depicts a solemn parade of Civil War soldiers in full battle array. This tribute is explained by the fact that the museum is located in the old Pension Bureau Building. On my way out, I attempted to snag a “selfie” with the museum in the background. After I took my snapshot, a nearby bus driver asked “Are you from Europe?” When he saw my bemused expression, he explained – “typically, its Europeans who take pictures of yellow school buses because they’re a novelty over there.” Apparently, its time to tack on another New Thing to the List – Learn How to Operate An iPhone.

Build_Final

Bus_Final

 Week Twenty-Nine – Making Something Useful Out of Wood

            A few months ago, after an enjoyable Monument Bike Ride (See Week Fourteen) I took the plunge and purchased a bike of my own. I. LOVE. My. Bike. My new ride is a lovingly-restored Japanese road bike that is almost 35 years old. A perfect blend of vintage style and speed, the bike suits me perfectly. Apparently, it is also unique – when I came in with a flat tire a few weeks ago, a bike shop employee told me that my bike is “beyond cool” before calling over his colleagues to check it out.

          Obviously, I’ve been eager to ride my beyond-cool bike around town as much as possible. To facilitate this, I’ve modified an old backpack to serve as a makeshift carrier for my dog, Callie. A bike basket was the next item on my list. However, I wasn’t impressed by the basic (and expensive) wire baskets in stores. So, I set out to make my own bike basket by re-purposing an old milk crate I found at Eastern Market. First, I painted the crate a faded brick red. After using a small saw to create holes to line up with my bike rack, I fastened the crate securely using hose clamps. Viola, an easy and vintage-looking bike basket!

Bike_Final

            Because this small project let me feeling quite handy, I decided to create some personalized wall art to cover up the bare walls in my new apartment. I started with a pair of 80-year-old window panes (can you tell I like old things?) and a vintage copy of my favorite book from childhood – Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery. Using a thin layer of decoupage glue, I covered the glass panes with the yellowed pages. Finally, I strung cable lights around to add to the beauty and provide some ambient lighting. Now every time I walk by, I’m reminded of my favorite sentiment from the Anne series:

After all … I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.

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