giving thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, Readers! If you are traveling this long weekend, I hope your journey was safe and stress-free. If you are staying put (like me), I hope you have a relaxing day or two with your family and/or friends. I hope your table is filled with your favorite foods, your football team wins, and you score a lot of deals at the mall tomorrow. I hope that you take some time out from cooking, eating, driving, and shopping to think about some of the things you are thankful for! Now, I’m not as creative as [simply rejoice], but there’s definitely a few things I appreciate this Thanksgiving Day.

1. My family. They’re far away from me this year, zipping down I-39 to celebrate with the Mapel clan in central Illinois. But I got to see my mom and dad for some quality vacation time in Boston last week, and as you all know, Laura had an action-packed visit during Halloween weekend. They’re good people and I’m glad they’re mine.

2. My jobs. Even though I have to work tomorrow at one of my part-time gigs, when I would rather be shopping at Macy’s and the yarn store, I am so grateful to have two paid opportunities. I’m still on the lookout for a full-time museum position, but when so many people have nothing at all to support their families, I realize I am truly blessed.

3. My country. Thanksgiving is such a uniquely American holiday (yes, I know Canada has one too): it’s all about eating too much, spending money, and watching televised sports. Four years ago, when I was in Spain, the lack of turkey and parades was almost painful. I know that not all of us are overjoyed with every aspect of the United States (certain elected officials, the still-shaky economy, foreign policy, and/or overwhelming consumer culture), but the fact that we can freely whine about it in the blogosphere and then drown our sorrows in mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce is pretty special.

So good luck at the sales tomorrow. Travel/cook safely and shop/eat wisely. And hey, if your deep-fried turkey ends up a Monumental Disaster, file it away with other Good Holiday Tales and call for pizza and wings. Happy Thanksgiving, dear Friends.



Raymond, the red-and-blue Betta fish I told you about in October, passed away this morning. I’m not sure if he had a short illness or he was just elderly, but the end was sudden. As you can imagine, it’s very sad and my apartment is surprisingly lonely. I guess I just got used to having another living creature around, and doling out pellets twice a day. Raymond will be buried this weekend, and maybe sometime after Christmas, I will venture out to the pet store and adopt a New Friend. Raymond was a very good pet and so much fun to have around, and I’ll miss his little presence.

In other, less depressing, news, I went to Boston on vacation last week, and Thanksgiving is tomorrow (yum). I’ll report on these topics in full in the coming days.

thank you for being a friend, raymond

attention mr. and mrs. uk and all the ships at sea…

I haven’t been over there yet today, so Tenaciously Yours, might have the jump on this announcement, but Prince William and Kate Middleton are officially engaged. Here’s some early details. More news and sparkle later, Friends, I’ve got a busy Tuesday ahead of me.

a visitor from the north

Friends, I was recently reminded by one of my beloved readers that I have failed to mention the Halloween-weekend visit from a very exciting/excited Minnesotan named Laura. It was a jam-packed five days of museums, food, the Sanity/Fear Rally, and the Marine Corps Marathon, and I loved (almost) every single second of it! Ok, maybe I even had a good time on the sardine-can Metro ride downtown on Saturday morning. I won’t subject you with a long-drawn-out description of someone else’s vacation (my aim is not to make you bored or totally jealous of our awesome times), but I want to share some of the neat things Laura and I got to do together. Because I live here and she’s visited several times in the last couple years, we are able to see a few things that the average DC tourist doesn’t…and we have a nice apartment to escape to when we’re tired of sightseeing!

She arrived on Wednesday evening (a little late thanks to weather), and we went straight to one of my favorite restaurants, Founding Farmers on Pennsylvania Ave. Happily, they seated us upstairs away from the bar, so we could hear ourselves talk. Readers, when you go to FF, always order the cornbread. It’s homemade and delicious, and served with honey butter. In order to walk off some of our calories, we took an evening stroll down Pennsylvania and waved hello to the Obamas. It ended up being a nice clear evening, and Laura got some good pictures of the White House.

North Lawn of the White House

During Thursday’s visit to the National Museum of the American Indian (where we reminisced about fieldtrips to Milwaukee’s Indian Summer Festival), Laura got the official cookbook from the Mitsitam Cafe. I’m excited to see how those delicious recipes turn out in the real world! Then we hit up Air & Space, Natural History, and the National Archives (are you overwhelmed yet?!), and finished the afternoon at the Farmers’ Market in Penn Quarter. We picked out some yummy handmade soaps and an enormous Honeycrisp apple that was the perfect breakfast the next day. A Yellow-Line-Rush-Hour adventure deposited us in Pentagon City for dinner at Creperie Brasserie. The waiter knows my name.

Navy Memorial and U.S. Archives

Friday, possibly the best day, was Zoo Day. Laura the Zoo Enthusiast had scoped out the website in advance, and developed a whole game plan for viewing cuddly animals. The highlight? By far the Meet-a-Kiwi! They are only native to New Zealand and are rarely seen even there, so this was a very special experience. The day was rounded out with a trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to see the special exhibit From Memory to Action, and Chinese food in Courthouse.

Manaya the Kiwi

To see the First Ladies exhibit at the National Museum of American History on Saturday, we squished ourselves onto the Orange Line with thousands of other excited rally-goers. Readers, I must confess that I had been worried that such large crowds would quickly get out of control, but our fellow passengers were friendly and polite and just out for a good time on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. We walked to the Chinatown area for a trip to Ford’s Theatre (very eerie and very well-done), and then walked about 20 blocks (!!) to Dupont Circle to catch a Circulator home. We rewarded ourselves with Hello Cupcake. On the way, we found numerous Waldos, Gumby driving a hybrid car, and a lot of bananas. I think they were going to meet up later to become a bunch.

President Lincoln's box at Ford's Theatre with the original Washington portrait

Sunday was a sad day, because Laura had to get back to her life in St. Paul, but we were awakened bright and early by the Marine Corps Marathon! My building is very near the USMC Memorial (Iwo Jima), so the Finish Festival took place on my street. Even though we had not run anywhere near 26 miles, we still grabbed our free samples of Ocean Spray Pomegranate Craisins. Then it was off to the airport to send Laura home…and I curled up on my sofa for a nice nap. Altogether, it was a great long weekend, and I really liked the mix of tourist and native activities. Thanks, Laura! (P.S. All the pictures are hers!)

the first tuesday after the first monday

Today is November 2, 2010, and it is Election Day. Unless you live under a TV-free rock (or perhaps outside the country), you’re probably aware of the ugliness of many campaigns, the fears and hopes of both parties, and the multitude of rallies held in my city. Voters that aren’t angry in the manner of Glenn Beck are fed up with divisiveness and inaction; I think it’s safe to say that we’re all fed up with Congressional backbiting in lieu of some kind of progress on Job Creation, Health Care, and the War.

do it

Now, My Words Are Sparkly is not here to tell you how to vote (although I think most of you, Readers, are personal friends and are well aware of which way I lean). Rather, I just want you to do a little serious thinking about the many issues and candidates on your ballot, and exercise your Constitutional Right To Vote. Seriously. If you don’t vote, you don’t count, and it is my honest belief that even an educated voter on the opposite end of the political spectrum is better than uninformed people. For many of our ancestors, it was a hard road to the ballot box, so make sure you honor their efforts and let your voice be heard today! If you haven’t registered in your area yet, many states allow same-day voter registration. Here are the links to Election Information in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Readers, we cannot be a Democracy unless you participate. Vote!