Sun Salutations


Wow, we seemed to have skipped spring and gone straight to summer. It’s mid-March and in the mid 80s! I love my job but it’s torture to head inside after a lovely lunch break sitting in the sun by the lake, with branches heavy laden with flowers quivering in the breeze. Plus, it’s not getting dark till 7:30pm! I wish I had an outdoor kitchen so I could cook outside. I wonder if we could BBQ on our chimnea! I am such a sun fiend!

Meanwhile, I’m taking advantage of a free week of yoga at Down Dog Studio in Herndon. It’s hot yoga (but, no, not Bikram) which is new to me, but other than the fact I’m slipping and sliding all over the mat in my own sweat, I’m really liking it! Plus my yoga teacher turns out to be my neighbor! She recognized me when she saw my bike since she’s seen me biking to work each day. It’s a small small world!


Autumnal Reminiscence

Well, now that it’s almost December January and winter is fast approaching here, I suppose it’s about time to tell you about Dan’s parents visit way back in… October. We headed straight from Dulles airport to good ol’ West Virginia, where we’d rented a cabin in the Shenandoah mountains. We followed the steep, serpintine road up the mountain to arrive at the cabin just in time to see the golden orb of the sun set the valley ablaze before slipping beyond the horizon.

The cozy cabin, lined with wood and windows that offered views of the entire valley, was the prefect locale to cook up a storm, catch up, relax and plan our next adventures.

D+P and DnA along the C&O Canal

Over the next few days, we explored the cobbled streets of Harpers Ferry, hiked up the steep trail of Maryland Heights to view the great Shenandoah and Potomac rivers from the cliffs that rise above them, and hiked along the Appalatian trail. Dan, whose health seemed to be improving overall, had overdone it running 26+ miles on our holiday in Maine. He now had a stress fracture on his foot and did all our hiking in a cast! Nevertheless, we enjoyed the sprinkling of red and orange that was just begining to dot the leaves of the highest branches in fall color. The weather, though, was more suited to spring than autumn, with sun and temperatures up around 75°F / 24°C.

All too soon, our jaunt in the mountains was over, but we took our time driving back to Reston. We stopped for delicious farm-fresh treats at Stoneybrook Farm, a sampling of local wines at Hillsborough Vineyards, and poke around some old houses in the village of Waterford, and finally a simple yet delectible lunch of butternut squash soup and grilled cheese with apple sandwiches at The Market Table in Lovettesville.

The rest of the week, I had to return to work, but each evening I returned home to a delcious meal and fun outing with Dan, Dee & Pietro. While I was at work, they cycled round Reston, museum-hopped in DC, planted flowers in our garden and met our work collegues.  The weather kept up its brilliance and much time was spent simply enjoying all the paths, lakes and pockets of wilderness our backyard has to offer. The grand finale was a “Stalcup Family Reunion” at my uncles farm where D+P sang a Sicilian song about a donkey in which the audience was required to “hee haw” their contribution.

Thinking back to October, it seems so warm, so sunny and so green. Wheras now brown is the dominant color and we run in the dark with our headlamps. Still, the Winter Solitice is now behind us and the days are getting longer. Plus… we both bought full-spectrum lights which have done a lot to hlep us fight the winter blues (especially when you work in a windowless basement office!) And, best of all, we’re on holiday w/D+P once more…. this time, we’ve hoped across the pond to them in England!


Ok, so I do realize it is now September (where did the summer go?) and I’m still blogging about July! Somehow I was able to blog more regularly when I was crossing America’s wilderness by foot than I am now. But, that could be because the saga of Dan’s health fiascos is still going strong almost 4 month after it began!

The short story is that having Dan’s kidney’s fail and all the other health problems that resulted along with the treatment , got Dan’s body chemistry completely out of whack. And unfortunately, when Dan went to the doctor to seek advice, he was just prescribed more medications, which ended up making things worse – at times he was like a walking zombie.  After a month of going to different doctors (all of whom seemed to have contradicting opinions), having his medications adjusted, blood tests, examinations by specialists on and on…. we’ve (hopefully) found a doctor we can trust who treats patients holistically…. but I guess only time will tell!

To me this really brought to light the absurd way health is treated in the US. Patients often demand quick fixes rather than being willing to change their lifestyle. And as this NPR article attests, pharmaceutical companies often pay doctors to promote their drugs, which is absurd and leads to drug-pushing doctors. There isn’t nearly enough education about dependency on prescription drugs or holistic alternatives to meds.

Unfortunately, since neither Dan, nor I are medical experts, we are reliant on the advice and orders of our doctor.  And when you have different doctors telling you different things it can be really hard to know who to trust.  Sure, I can Google the ailment, but that often leads to just further confusion and misinformation.  Considering how many people are addicted to prescription drugs, I can’t believe medical professions aren’t doing more to educate patients about the risks.  And we need to have doctors who aren’t minions of the Pharmaceutical industry.

At any rate, it’s a good thing Dan is an endurance athlete, because unlike Dan’s rapid kidney recovery, it seems this won’t be a quick fix.

On the up side – we were fortunate to have 2 couples from across the pond visit us this summer… Dave & Nicole stopped briefly in DC on their way back to York from Salida, Colorado (Nicole’s home town and the best trail town on the CDT!). It wasn’t nearly long enough, but it was brilliant to catch up and see how those two zany lovebirds have come together at last!

Dan, Andy & Sarah

And in August Sarah & Andy visited for a few days and we gave them a whirlwind tour of Reston and DC. In Reston we lounged by Lake Anne, enjoying dolmades and humus at Kalypsos and then decadent chocolate cookies dipped in potato chip crumbs from the  Cup Cake Ladi (no judgement until you’ve tried them!).  Then in DC it was the Mall and monuments before cooling off with salted carmel frozen yogurt at Pink Berry and melt-in-your mouth empanadas and mintastic mojitos from Cafe Citron.  It was great to hear about S&A’s new flat outside London and all the adventures they’d been up to. As we melted in the heat and humidity of our first DC summer in 3 years, the mild warmth of England seemed vastly appealing.

may flowers

Anna, Buddy & Clifton

The month of May we were delighted to have many visitors. First Yas from Japan, then a lazy day of picnics and wine in the countryside with Clifton, who’s working for the amazing NGO Wholesome Wave up in Connecticut.  And also a chance to catch up with fellow CDT thru-hiker, Stretch, who we hadn’t seen since hiking in Wyoming back in July.

Nat, Stretch, Buddy & Dan

But we saved the best for last – Dan’s sis, Nat, visited Memorial Day weekend. We had a brilliant time with her… Sticking our noses in wine at posh vineyards, strolling round the cobblestone streets of Waterford, mingling with huge leather-clad Harley riders in DC during Rolling Thunder, enjoying sushi and chili mango ice lollies at Lake Anne. But irregardless of what we were doing, everything was better with Nat. Even just biking round town and running errands was great. And she put up with the heat wave that struck like a champ (we were also saved by the opening of the pools).

Dan, Fala, Buddy & Nat

Nat’s charming and at ease whether she’s at a five star hotel in Cannes (yes, a few weeks back, and no, not on her dime) or being interrogated while dumpster diving at night (yes, no, yes of course, delicious). Buddy loved her immediately and it was so great chat chat chatting about EVERYTHING!  We’re going to have to get strategic with operation bring Pizzos west.

And to step #1 was to go see the brilliant Peeps dioramas at the Artisphere. Nothing says “US of A” quite like neon-colored sugar-coated marshmellows in the shape of bunnies.  Especially when they’re riding broken escalators on the metro!



Schmoozing with R.E.S. at Lake Anne. He was very sweet and also impressed by our cross-country hikes. What a legend!

Fighting a cold in which my snot rivaled the colour of glorious baby leaves that have burst from their branches. I’m finally better, but it was a long time coming!

Party round the campfire in our backyard… but I was sick in bed 😦

Dumpster diving glory.

Walker Educational Nature Center celebrations… free b-day dinner courtesy of Whole Foods (oh the asparagus!) and Environmental Film Night friday about the gorgeous Green House.

Billy Collins Book Club.

Dan rescues someone from being swept down the flooded, muddy and thrashing Potomac River. And, yes, he was upstream from Great Falls.

A gorgeous (but windy) picnic at the Willowcraft vineyard with our dear Italian neighbors.

And the sweet scent of hyacinth and day lilies.




It’s Bob’s Birthday!

Tomorrow in Reston we celebrate Founder’s Day and the 97th birthday of (our founder) Robert E. Simon. Lake Anne should be as bustling as Reston Town Center for a change! Free cake, a treasure hunt and perhaps even a chance to chat with the birthday boy himself!

Fun begins at noon and goes till 5pm Saturday April 8th, 2011.

More info at

Photo by Karen Goff

Lake Anne & Portofino


Portofino bay at night

Originally uploaded by Kaan C

I just read Robert E. Simmon’s Reston Master Plan from 1962. It’s fascinating….  overall Reston has turned out according to many of his plans… no cemetery or riding stables, but lovely paths, open areas and recreational opportunities. Bob pushed for woods rather than “useless front lawns” which still holds true… to a degree. Sadly, rather than the bustling paths and walkways he envisioned, it’s often traffic-filled streets. Good thing traffic isn’t a problem when you’re biking!

With the Silver Line metro headed to Reston in just a few years, more changes are on their way fast, so now’s the time for those of us who live, work or play in Reston to get involved. And to start with, Reston Residents make sure to vote in the Reston Association Board of Directors election – ballots will be mailed March 7th and candidate statements are available here.

So Lake Anne and Portofino, have a few slight differences…. but with new Greek and Thai restaurants and a new cupcake joint, Lake Anne is pretty sweet.


After living in six different houses, 2 different countries and 1 hubba hubba tent for the first 4 years of our marriage we now have a home of our very own! Yesterday we closed on a gorgeous condo in Reston.  It was a crazy process… we went from thinking, “Why not contact a real estate agent?” to making an offer in just 4 days.

There were some definite twists and turns, but in the end everything came together in a way that seemed orchestrated.

Of course, the timing is a bit bizarre as we hit the trail in just 2 weeks… but we’re trusting that there’s a plan for that too!

After the CDT we will have lived a quarter of our marriage in a tent… but it’s good to know we’ll return to a house a bit more sturdy than ripstop nylon.

bike to work day

Dan's bike

For my birthday Dan gave me his bike and souped it up mad. I’ve got a bike rack, a pannier, a rear view mirror, a bell, a front light and back light and best of all a BRIGHT orange and green neon safety vest. So sexy. Dan got a new (used) bike from Craig’s List that’s pretty sweet too.  It’s been awesome zooming around on my d’lux bike. Traveling around Reston it’s often just as fast to bike as to drive and plus my hair gets a free blow-dry and helmet head styling. I’m not looking forward to biking in snow and ice come winter, but for now biking is a breeze!

All I need to do is get a hold of this bike when I’m headed to the Farmer’s Market!

But even if you’re not such a biker babe, grab a two-wheeler Friday May 21st for the Washington DC Area Bike to Work Day.  Lots of info here.  It’s so easy to just get in the habit of driving everywhere, but having a bike in good working order where your helmet and lock are handy definitely pays off – make the most of this gorgeous spring weather (and all the bike paths around, especially in Reston) and bike to work this Friday!


Last week we had the most phenomenal visit from Dan’s parent’s D+P.  We’re so glad the Icelandic volcano calmed down and they were able to fly west safely. We showed them all the lovely local spots – from the charming antique shops of Middlesburg to the mighty marble monuments of DC to superb sushi at Ariake (get the Crispy Power Roll… yum!).  Nothing like having visitors come to town to make you appreciate all that your own “backyard” has to offer.

It was great getting to show them a taste of our live here since the only other time they visited was 4 years ago for our wedding so they didn’t have a chance to do much sight-seeing. We especially enjoyed walks, picnics and shopping around Lake Anne in Reston which opened their Farmer’s Market last Saturday (8am till noon every Saturday from now till October).  In DC, we went for a ride on a pedi-cab, meandered through the Bishop’s Garden of the National Cathedral (where Pietro photographed every last flower) and went on a heart-wrenching tour of the Holocaust Museum.  But as per usual the visit went by far far to fast. We’re hoping to entice them to move to one of the graceful lake-front houses in Reston but in the meantime we’re maximizing memories and anticipating this Christmas when we’ll be together again!