Happy Monday! Does such a thing exist? Yes! Even a rainy day like this one can be cause for celebration….

Today my mind is in a hundred and three places, and so this post shall be as well.

1. Noisli – I just found this site, and am going to employ it at work to drown out the sound of my office mates. If only there were something loud enough to drown out the sound of my upstairs neighbors – not only is the husband a musician who seems to enjoy practicing in my brain, but they also have a (crying!) baby and a (running!) toddler. And a 100 pound dog. Perhaps I should invest in a white noise machine?

Going back to Noisli, my favorite sound on here may be the train tracks. The sound reminds me of spending time at my grandmother’s house… she lived right next to the tracks, and as soon as we heard an approaching train we would all race outside to wave to the conductor. When – in her later years – she became less mobile, she would wave to the conductor from her second-story window. He always waved back – perhaps he looked forward to waving to her as much as she did him.

To have five more minutes in that big house, with that amazing woman…. well, wouldn’t that be nice?

Funny how little things like a nostalgic obsession with the sound of trains can propel your life in a direction that – in hindsight – seems too crazy to have really happened. Because had I not spent so many nights on Parker Ave being lulled to sleep by a passing train, I might not have been just SO inclined (for no particularly good reason) to embark on a solo Trans Siberian jaunt for my 30th birthday; a trip that changed my life in such a tangible way that I think it will remain one of the top things I ever do….


Away from Moscow, and rolling across the Russian countryside


Mongolia. Oh, Mongolia.

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China. Great Wall. Great Journey.

In the fall of 2012, I traveled alone from DC to Moscow by plane, from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar to Beijing by train, from Beijing to Seattle to DC by plane. And it wasn’t until I got home – sleepy – studying a globe, that I realized I went around the entire world by myself. And oh I would do it again….

2. Dinner parties.

I love my friends. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to feed my friends. All of these things in combination mean that hosting a dinner party for my favorite peeps ranks right up there with the sound of a train in the nighttime. So, in 2015, I’m making an effort to cook more at my casa. It all starts Monday, when I’ll be cooking Ina Garten’s Make-Ahead Coquilles St Jacques. I’m really thrilled about this one. Meat in general – and scallops specifically – are such a rare treat in this household, and I’m excited to have found this oh-so-perfect recipe. I’m thinking of pairing it with a salad and homemade bread (along with white wine and laughter), but I’m always up for suggestions.

3. Poe.

I love Poe. Edgar Allen, that is. Though I was born with an aversion to blood, horror, and fear – I’ve always liked Mr. Poe. Poe Baltimore is open this weekend for some special birthday events (his 206th birthday is on January 19th), and of course I’ll be traveling north to partake in the festivities. I found out just recently that the Baltimore Ravens are so-named because of his most famous poem, which is a pretty interesting fact. I also really want to get down to Richmond soon to visit the museum down there.

In preparation for my Baltimore visit, Poe will be a frequent visitor in my home this week. You too can read lots of his works at poestories.com. My favorite Poe stories are the ones that I was introduced to first (funny how that happens, isn’t it?) – The Tell-Tale Heart, the Pit and the Pendulum (scary!!), and the Cask of Amontillado….

4. Snuggles.

As the days pass by, she becomes a better and better snuggle partner. Winter’s icy wind is {so} much better when it is accompanied by this little face.

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And after years of training and being strict and keeping her off my furniture, I’ve decided that this nearly-six-year-old pooch deserves to sit on the couch with me. This winter has brought with it a new tradition: I put a towel down and call her up and we spend hours together side-by-side. Her birthday (selected by me) is January 15, 2009, so I think this girl and I have some celebrating to do in the not-too-distant. What a perfect girl, a perfect companion, and the perfect antidote to what could be a rather dull Monday.

Be well,

Dana {and Barley} in DC