Monday, June 18, 2012

Afternoon in Old Town

This weekend was a lot of fun despite a rather slow start due to staying home to finish a work project on Friday night. I didn't mind since I got a chance to catch up on laundry and reading. I'm sure my college self would be ashamed but lately I've relished having evenings at home.

Saturday morning I went to a talk for women sponsored by the Arlington Diocese. Gloria Purvis spoke and she was fantastic (no surprise to me, since I'd heard her speak at the CIC back in February). Her life is inspiring and she has witnessed countless instances of God's grace which she shared with us - everything from converting to Catholicism in a family of southern Protestants all by herself at the tender age of 12, to suffering 14 years of infertility, to her mother's months-long coma. I definitely cried at that last story, which took me by surprise since normally I don't cry easily. But she was just that good. Her knowledge of theology and sanctity blew me away. She was whipping out quotes from St. Faustina and Catherine of Siena and throwing around Bible verses like it was her job. She admitted to the crowd at one point that she hasn't read much recent literature because she's been working her way through the Church Fathers and lives of the saints, which takes up all of her reading time. I thought, No wonder because she was so articulate and well-read on theological matters. That woman is really stellar and I hope to see more of her work in the future.

In the afternoon I went to see 
Avengers with Frank and our friends Bart and Conor. It was awesome and led to a serious discussion: which avenger is the best? I will always love Iron Man for his wit and sheer hilarity but that Captain America is quite the guy too. The discussion went unresolved and I'm still making up my mind so you're welcome to weigh in if you want.

Frank and I had a few friends over for a last-minute, low-key dinner on Saturday night. I made Chinese food with a little help from Trader Joe's and Frank served our guests sake wine, hard lemonade (my favorite) and whiskey (Lee's favorite). We sat and talked for hours after dinner. It was one of those calm, relaxing evenings that leave you feeling happy afterwards - as I hoped it would be. I hope our guests felt the same way.

On Sunday Frank and I went to St. John's and had a nice chat with Cindy and Conor over post-Mass donuts and coffee. Then we went to St. Agnes to visit their Adoration Chapel. Frank and I had never been there together (although I go there most Monday mornings) so that was wonderful to do together.

And now for the whole point of this post - our Sunday afternoon! We went to Old Town Alexandria. I had never been there before and now I'm pretty much obsessed. It's gorgeous and we had a really good time on our date there.

The first place we went was a used bookstore on King Street, which was not a smart starting place since we couldn't bring ourselves to leave and ended up spending the first half of our afternoon there. It was awesome. I bought a few books to bring home, including a Rachael Ray cookbook and a $1 copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

Frank and I were both excited to find old favorites from our childhoods among the shelves.

I'd never heard of "1066: Year of the Conquest" but Frank was ridiculously thrilled to find it and wants to get a copy for my little brother.

I was happy to find Rilla of Ingleside and Rose in Bloom, two of my favorites. I would have bought them on the spot if I didn't already own both of them. I still quote sections from Rose in Bloom on relationships and love.

Frank and I were amused at how we each spent our time in the bookstore. I gravitated to the cookbooks and financial planning (I've been trying to get a better understanding of finances lately) and swooned over the children's section. Sometimes I wonder why I don't become a children's librarian. Frank meanwhile stayed in the history and literature sections.

Once we finally left the bookstore, we walked down to the waterfront, past all the cute little shops and restaurants. 

Frank very kindly accompanied me into multiple clothing stores and even bought us mini cupcakes for an afternoon snack. He is a bit of an architecture buff so he pointed out features of the buildings we passed and explained their historical significance. It was really interesting and I was glad to hear his insights.

I couldn't get enough of the charmingly uneven red-brick sidewalks, the quaint townhouses and wrought-iron railings.

We walked past a history museum and agreed to come back soon to check it out.

Finally we reached the waterfront. It was a little crowded but the weather was perfect and we walked around for a little while listening to live musicians and people-watching. 

I found a quiet spot and called my dad, who is in Banff with my mom right now on vacation to celebrate their 25th anniversary. His phone didn't have reception but he called me back later that night.

Frank and I wandered around the streets until we found a quiet little pub for dinner. We were very excited to discover that the oysters were only $1 each, and by "we" I mean me because one-half of this couple wouldn't touch an oyster with a ten-foot pole. I absolutely adore seafood so I happily ordered a dozen of them for dinner, with a side of the most delicious creamy grits I've ever had. Frank ordered a bacon cheeseburger and we both felt like we had a feast fit for a king (or queen in my case).

After dinner we went to a local creamery for dessert. I tried a new flavor - orange chocolate chocolate-chip. It might be my new favorite. 

We walked around Alexandria some more with our cones in hand. Nothing beats walking down a sunny street eating an ice cream cone on a summer evening. We talked and laughed as we walked and enjoyed being together. It was pretty wonderful.

In the course of our wandering we passed by a church that had this sign out front:

Which cracked us up.

Around sunset we drove back to my house for a movie night. I talked to my parents on the phone and informed Mum that it was a date night for us. "Isn't every night a date night for you two?" she laughed. Maybe it is, but yesterday was especially magical.

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