So I took a hiatus in writing, I got busy with lots of life stuff. Starting with the retirement party that went off quite well, we had over 50 friends and co-workers there.  The party marked the official end to my USDA career,


I went to my sister’s beach place for a long weekend to celebrate her daughter’s bachelorette weekend.  We had perfect beach weather and a fabulous weekend celebrating.  I don’t plan to share any photos or stories from that though.  I think those are best left for others to share. I do think my niece and her friends are lovely, smart, and classy young women.  I especially enjoyed the beach and the weather.  Bring on spring!

I do want to mention the restaurants where we dined.  We had lunch at The Gulf at Perdido Pass. IMG_2064The restaurant is casual with all outside dining and the above view was from the restaurant.  I had the grouper sandwich and it was quite tasty!  Others in the party tried the hamburgers.

We dined at Cobalt which has lovely sunset views and great food.  I had grouper again, paneed grouper this time and it was fabulous.

I find myself in a work hiatus.  A strange feeling for sure. I observe others working, reading emails, taking phone calls, dealing with issues.  Some of the habits I had like 2 cellphones and 2 iPads, one for work and one for personal are over.  I used to check my work emails first thing in the am and last thing at night and many times in between.  Now I look at emails and it is mostly spam.  I am thinking about work again, just not going to rush it.  I have started the process to volunteer at the hospital.  And found a website Encore -Second acts for the greater good that provides advice on how to find your second career based on the desire to give back.  I really like the idea.  I guess I need to just relax and enjoy this hiatus.

Foxy Lady?

So I finally caught a fox on camera!  And I had the zoom lens on this time too.  I took these a couple of days ago around 9 am.  Same view today has no snow, as it has all melted thank goodness.  I think this little fox is a lady.  As about 20 minutes later another fox trotted down the hill and I think it was bigger.DSC_0059The fox really stands out against the snow.

DSC_0060I like this last one the best.  She kept a pretty brisk pace up the hill.


DSC_0065We had a lovely, long snow yesterday, beautiful heavy wet flakes.  About mid-day, the ladies came through the backyard on their way up the hill to bed down for the duration of the storm I suppose.  I guess they have a spot out of the wind, protected somewhat from the weather. During warmer months, I have seen spots where they  bed down in the grass.  We also saw our friendly fox, making his/her? rounds, trotting up through the woods following a similar path that the deer take.  I tried to capture the fox on film but no such luck.

We did eat at Hanks Oyster Bar the other night, and will definitely go back.  I had 1/2 dozen Virginia oysters for a starter, followed by a pear and arugula salad and a crab cake, both items from the small plate menu.  Hubby had the ceviche (yum! and a generous portion) and the seared scallops on cauliflower puree.  The prices were a tad high though typical for Old Town.

Even with all the snow and ice this past week, my thoughts keep turning to the gardens.  I have transplanted some seedlings to bigger pots and will plant more this weekend.  I loved this Washington Post article by Barbara Damrosch, Resolved no more bad garden habits.  All things to TRY and remember as I plan and work in the garden this spring-if spring ever arrives…

Hump Day Doings

If you watch TV, you have probably seen the hump day commercials?

During at least one meeting on a Wednesday, someone at my work would mimic the “guess what day it is”, some better than others, bringing much needed humor to the subject at hand.

Now my Hump Day looks a bit different. I have my to-do list still. Doing yoga, calling the plumber, going to the grocery store (in anticipation of 4-8 in of snow tomorrow!) are way different than my work to-dos such as scheduling interviews, reviewing and editing budget testimony, IT roadmap, Approps committee talking points, hot issues etc.  And I usually experienced more than 1 fire to put out each day and it could easily trash my day to the point where I accomplished little else.  Oft times the fires came up from somebody’s failure to deal timely with a deadline or request.  A constant source of frustration!

So we just melted away all the ice and now tomorrow are due for 4-8 inches of snow though I hope the forecasters have it wrong!  DSC_0065

I have focused on indoor tasks, like cooking, organizing files, etc.  The other night I made Braised chicken with carrots and fennel.  I saw the recipe in Southern Living and left out the green olives (as the hubby won’t eat olives), added fennel and bone-in chicken wings.  I had to up the ingredient portions to about 1 1/2 the requirement.  Served it over couscous, the small kind not Israeli.  And then lightly steamed some asparagus to place on top.

We plan to eat out tonight looking at one of these new-to-us restaurants.

Hanks Oyster BarBRABO or Jackson 20 all in Old Town.  I want to go to Hanks though I don’t think they take reservations.  I like BRABO’s menu though it is pricey.  So will see where we end up as we will be at home tomorrow, I’m sure.

Day 1

Just a quick post on day 1 of retirement.  I read this article, How Baby Boomers can revamp the economy, in the Post this weekend.  Some interesting thoughts on how  the concept of retirement is evolving.  I don’t intend to not work.  Just have not figured out what I will do other than take photos of the 6 ladies who frequent the backyard.

DSC_0072 DSC_0074

I took these right before a big snow storm over President’s Day weekend.  And then here, one doe feeds at the bird feeder.


The ice from yesterday’s storm is melting and I have some plans for today, nothing exciting.  Just doing what I want to do, no have-tos for now.

Earls, Jerry and Tim

We went our first DC Bluegrass Festival this weekend held at the Sheraton at Tysons.  Interesting and small hotel festival.  Not impressed with the hotel as it is a bit tired and not well maintained.  The food service left me cold also.  I don’t know why I have high expectations for food at festivals?!  We could have left the hotel and walked to a number of restaurants however with the cold weather we opted to stay on the premises.  For lunch, we had the mediocre lunch buffet.  We booked a club room to have access to the club where we did enjoy a fantastic sunset over the Blue Ridge mountains however no alcoholic beverages were available according to the attendant-everything got drank up the night before and the hotel did not re-stock.  Not a huge issue however the food in the club seemed like leftovers from the lunch buffet.  I know hotels like to serve buffets however some establishments make it a highlight rather than leftover banquet food.  About 9:30 pm the hubby got hungry so we tried the restaurant again, he ordered a hamburger and I had the steak quesadilla which was really a hamburger quesadilla, both ended up being the best food we had while there which isn’t saying much.

There were workshops in the afternoon and we went to two, the first one with Tim O’Brien.  We sat in the last row and still had a great view.  Listening to Tim talk about the instruments he plays and the songs was enthralling.  He told the history behind the song, Mic Ryan’s Lament written by Robert Dunlap.  The tune is Garryowen which is an ole time Irish song.  It became the song of Custer’s 7th cavalry and the lyrics to Mic Ryan describe 2 Irish brothers who came to America and one ended up fighting for the Union in the Civil War and the other at the Battle of Little Big Horn.  He closed the session singing Walk Beside Me, one of my favorites.


Jerry Douglas had a dobro workshop where he played 2 old dobros that he uses with the Earls of Leicester, who were the headliners for the festival.  I have seen Jerry play many times and in this setting, up close and personal and listening to him talk is a highlight.  He is kind of local to this area, playing with the Country Gentlemen as a younger guy.  He said he liked the second Birchmere the best.  I don’t remember the first Birchmere.  And do remember the second location, great intimate venue.


We caught a little of the Banksters.  I took in Sierra Hull’s set, I do love her voice and she can play the mandolin.  Of course the Hokies were playing basketball so part of the time, we watched the game in the room. And then came back down to see the end of Blue Highway and all of the Earl’s set and it was a great show.  Those guys appear to be having so much fun playing the music of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.  This time I attempted to keep a setlist but they soon quit announcing the song and just played one after the other.  They played about 30 songs, starting a little after 11 pm and playing to about 12:30.  Shawn Camp channels Lester Flatt in a captivating way.  Extraordinary entertainment.

IMG_2037 IMG_2038 IMG_2043

TTB and Spirit Family

Do you ever get behind on everyday tasks?  Well this last week has put me behind and I plan to catch up, starting with this post. We saw the Tedeschi Trucks Band last Friday night at the Warner.  Went early for drinks and appetizers at Chef Geoff’s Downtown.


Again, we scored great seats through the early artist sale.  I found  the setlist online, I can’t seem to remember to take notes!IMG_1964

  • All That I Need
  • Do I Look Worried
  • Get What You Deserve
  • Midnight in Harlem
  • I Pity The Fool
  • Break In The Road 
(Betty Harriscover)
  • Keep Your Lamp Trimmed
  • Done Somebody Wrong 
(Elmore Jamescover)
  • Shelter
  • Key To The Highway
  • Let Me Get ByIMG_1956
  • Idle Wind
  • Bound for Glory
  • Living Loving Maid > The Storm
  • E: Keep On Growing
  • Living in the Palace of the King

The opening act was new to me, Spirit Family Reunion, kind of a string band, bluegrass, roots music fusion.

IMG_1942Lots of energy and I will definitely be on the look out for a repeat viewing!  The washboard player was my fav. IMG_1948

On to the next show!

Re-Tired Message

The following message is what I sent out to all Farm Service Agency employees yesterday, on my last day in the office.  I wish I had written all of it, I did have help from our public affairs director.  He is so talented.  He reminded me that I don’t have to write in bureaucratese anymore!  I should write how I feel!  I hope I can re-train myself.

Woke up to a 2 hour delay due to another passing snow storm.  So my quiet cake and coffee reception was just that, exactly what I wanted.


FSA Friends

As I prepare to retire on February 28, already I feel a gamut of emotions, from the fulfillment of attaining another milestone, to the joy of anticipating new days ahead.  I also feel the subtle apprehension of reaching the next juncture of my life.  And by now, I’ve felt the tears of my final conversations, knowing that in a few short days soon, I’ll be completing the boxing up of records and mementos, taking that last look around my room, clicking off the light, locking my door, and hearing those echoes of my footsteps down the long, tiled hallways of the South Building for the very last time.

I have had a truly remarkable career with USDA over the last 34 years.  I started with the Office of Inspector General, where some of my first assignments were auditing the county offices of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service across the Midwest.  Those days provided my first experiences with this incredible nationwide network of dedicated local staff – inspirations that have guided me to this day.  Later, I transferred to ASCS’s Kansas City office, and then to Washington, D.C. where I’ve worked hard to use my experiences during my earliest days in the field to keep the confidence of our county staff throughout the performance of my duties.

Right from the start, I became dedicated to FSA’s important mission of supporting and enhancing American agriculture, assisting our farmers and ranchers to become the most productive and efficient producers as they could be.  As I helped to implement six different farm bills, each time from a different perspective, my appreciation grew further as I saw how my colleagues kept their commitments to American agriculture and rural communities, through teamwork and cooperation.  I have been so fortunate to have had mentors, teachers, and brilliant leaders who provided me not just with many incredible opportunities along the way, but with many insights and inspirations that helped to light the path.

That’s why I will miss coming here every day – – because I love working with all of you.  I have always found FSA employees to be the best:  you are creative, collaborative, and compassionate.    FSA truly is and will continue to be the “Can-Do” agency.   As my days draw to a close, I am so grateful that I can say how proud I am of my career with FSA.  And most of all, I am so proud of what we have accomplished together.

All the best,


Brrrr and TTB

Wow, 4 degrees at 5 am.  And now 5 degrees at 8 am.  Hope it warms up some.  Tonight, we will venture out in this freezing cold to see Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks Band.  I enjoyed this article about them Washington Life article on Tedeschi Trucks band.  This will be 4 or 5 years in a row that we have caught their Fall/winter tour show at the Warner.


These photos are from October 2011.

Don’t Give Up, Your Spring Will Come

Spring will come though we are supposed to get around 8 inches of snow today, here in Northern Virginia!

Positive Outlooks

Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass.  The spring will come. — Robert H. Schuller

Single Tree in field

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