Friday, March 28, 2008

Last Photos of my DC Trip

Beverly took over the Mt. Vernon blog after my tenure--I had never met her so if was great to put a face to the person I had talked to on the phone and corresponded with. If you wish to see her great work, head to the Mt. Vernon Quilters Unlimited blog.

I told Andrea about the glowing Washington Monument at sunset. It didn't happen this day as the clouds were too prevalent. But we got a nice shot of us with the Lincoln in the background.

Here's an earlier photo of the glowing phenomenon.

I visited the Smithsonian grounds on my last day, and noticed that where once there were few gazing globes, now there were many, tucked in among the foliage.

Magnolias just starting to bud out.

Driving a last round of the Tidal Basin, I noticed one of my favorite, and often overlooked, monuments--that to those soldiers of World War I from the DC area who gave their lives in the conflict.

It's tucked away in the trees, halfway in between the Lincoln Memorial and the WWII memorial, almost opposite the Reflecting Pool from the Vietnam Wall.

Glad to see my old friend Samuel W. Sowerbutts.

While it was called the Great War for Civilization, how many have we had since then? I must prefer this era's optimism that there would be one and only one Great War.

Good-bye Washington. Until next time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pictures from The Exhibitions--The National Gallery of Art, both East and West

from an exhibition on painting in the forests above Paris
This reminds me of my father, although he does more studio painting than plein aire painting.

from the permanent exhibition: Calder's mobile and other flat sculptures

Andy Goldsworthy in an outdoor patio installation--They were putting this in when I lived in DC--nice to see it finished.

Italian Plates from a permanent installation? Exhibition? I'm all confused now over what to call it. Can I just say I was interested in there because I have 10 decorated plates on my walls from Italy.

When you click on the close-up, you'll see this is a portrait of "Elizabeth."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Google keys off certain words in emails and places links around the edges of the email. I'm always amused at what can be found, like this classic, from my spam mailbox:

Categories: Main dish
Yield: 8 servings

1 pk Frozen french fry potatoes,
-thawed (20 oz)
2 c Shredded Cheddar cheese
2 c Sour cream
1 cn Condensed cream of chicken
-soup (10 3/4 oz)
1 cn SPAM Luncheon Meat, cubed
-(12 oz)
1/2 c Chopped red bell pepper
1/2 c Chopped green onion
1/2 c Finely crushed corn flakes

Heat oven to 350'F. In large bowl, combine potatoes, cheese, sour
cream, and soup. Stir in SPAM, bell pepper, and green onion. Spoon
into 13x9″ baking dish. Sprinkle with crushed flakes. Bake 30-40
minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Head to the link above to see the Washington Post's Annual contest to create dioramas out of peeps (the marshmallow bunnies and chickens covered with colored sugar). My friend Andrea clued me in to this. Here's a few:

'The Apeepening' Leaves Hains Point
Semifinalist: Denise Niner, 38, of Springfield and Melanie Bose, 38, of Silver Spring depict the recent removal of "The Awakening" from the District's Hains Point. The statue's new home is the National Harbor development in Prince George's County. Note: The trees are made of Christmas tree Peeps, and the clouds are Halloween ghost Peeps.
(Note: for background info, Google "The Awakening.")

The Wonderful Wizard of Peeps
Semifinalist: "The whole project took me about two days," says justice advocate Kate Braggs, 23, of Washington. "The yellow brick road alone took hours to cut and lay." The background and scenery, including the poppies and the road, are made of paper.

Sesame Peep
Semifinalist: Fairfax resident MaryLea Harris, 32, made the diorama for her daughters, Emma, 4, and Claire, 1. "We all watch 'Sesame Street' together every morning at breakfast," Harris says.

Peep Julius II Questions Michelangelo's Artistic Judgment
Semifinalist: Seven members of the Kaleba family collaborated on the commissioning and evaluation of the painting of the Sistine Chapel. "It's wonderful to learn that with 12 university degrees between us, we can create true art for an appreciative audience," muses Jean Kaleba, 60, the family's chief Peep costumer.
Happy Easter.

I'm the one on the far left in the cool shoes.

For dinner today we're having spiral ham from the grocer's, a version of The Naked Chef's Asian Salad, Aunt Robin's refrigerator rolls, strawberries that Chad's picking up from the neighborhood strawberry stand, and Dave's birthday cake (the lemon cake from the Silver Palate cookbook, via Aunt Rachelle). Putting on a meal at my house is always a it-takes-a-village-affair.

What's a celebration without two cakes? The Carrot Cake (above) is from the blog The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I'm half in love with her recipes and half in love with her commentary--witty without being snarky. (We tried the cake today for lunch. It is amazing--lighter than the 1970s version I had perfected.)

The Asian Noodle Salad is also from her blog. How can I not make after reading her story about her baby and her vegetables?
Monday I headed to the Hirschorn--a museum I'd never really explored in the year we lived in DC. I thought the plump red robin next to these roly-poly figures was a nice mimic.

An outside sculpture of bureaucratic rubber stamps next to the Smithsonian Castle.

Even their tables and chairs have a modernistic feel to them.

I enjoyed many of the exhibits inside--one on Dreams was a compilation of movies trying to recreate the dream state. I liked the one video in another collection that showed a series of Rube Goldberg-type moves, but modernistic style, with tires slamming into bucket of chemicals that oozed over and inflated balloons or lit up pools of liquid into flames, or dislodged two-by-fours. It went on for nearly 25 minutes and there was quite a crowd at the end, watching this endless series of motions.

Here's a trailer of Fischli and Weiss's "The Way Things Go" from YouTube.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sunday Morning Andrea and I went to the United States Botanic Garden, a huge glass house full of climate zones, plants, flowers and a quilt and an Orchid Show.

I was amazed by these metallic sculptures, part of an exhibit on spices and plants.

I wanted to take home this glowing pomegranate.

I found the orange exhibit!

The orchids were organized in an alphabet theme. Here's my "e."

We went up to the second floor catwalk, a lovely teak walkway that rings one of the glass rooms. Perfect hiding place as long as there's a book and an iPod in your pocket.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Washington DC Trip

So, Friday Rhonda and I took a little road trip down to La Plata Maryland to Material Girls Quilt Shop, then crossed back over our tracks and headed out to Artful Quilter in Centerville, Virginia--our own mini shop-hop.

After touching just about each bolt of fabric in Material Girls, we were hungry and headed over to a local place for lunch "The Royal Tea Room," I think it was called. We shared the salad with crab cake and each had a bowl of Cream of Crab soup. Fresh crab, from the Maryland seashore. It was worth the trip.

Saturday, Andrea wanted to reprise the visit to Material Girls. I was fine with that notion, because I'd still left some fabric there, and could always touch a few more bolts of fabric. Coming home, the day was breezy, sunny and we decide to go for a walk along the Potomac, but first a stop at Hollin Hall Variety Store. This place is a throwback to all those good memories of dime stores in America.

Here's a picture of the "lingerie" section--a place where you can buy grandma underpants.

Since we'd bought out the ribbon section, there was no time for a walk before dinner, so we opted for a stroll down King Street in Alexandria. This is our restaurant: The Majestic Cafe.

Some nice tourist snapped our photo. I'd left my coat in California, so spent the week wrapped up in shawls. Occasionally I borrowed a coat from my friend Andrea (above) which helped out immensely.

I'm sucker for simple roast chicken. This one was amazing.

Andrea's was a South American fish--some strange name. She said it was tender and delicious.

Since it was in celebration of her birthday, we had to get some cake and ice cream--she had the ice cream and cookies and I had the cake. Instead of a song, they presented her with a little gift of house-made fudge.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Calder's Mobile
National Gallery of Art, East
Washington, DC

While I was back east, an article ran in the Washington Post about Chinua Achebe, whose novel "Things Fall Apart" was being honored by various luminaries on its 50th anniversary of publication. One invited guest, Colum McCann recited William Butler Yeats:
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. . . "

So, as usual, the quote lead me to look up the entire poem.

The Second Coming

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
    William Butler Yeats
McCann noted that "The best literature is connected. We are word-linked. Yeats, Achebe--their words unravel and remake us."

Calder's Mobile
National Gallery of Art, East
Washington, DC

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Recently I went to Washington DC, and visited the National Gallery of Art's cafe in the basement. I wasn't feeling too hot (I get every cold that ever walked onto an airplane), so it was nice just to sit and look up into the glass pyramids that bulged upward, and watch the falling water over the stepped bank.

The food wasn't bad either.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

"To date, Dexter [shoes] is the worst deal that I've made," Warren Buffett wrote in his annual letter to his Berkshire stockholders. "But I'll make more mistakes in the future - you can bet on that. A line from Bobby Bare's country song explains what too often happens with acquisitions: 'I've never gone to bed with an ugly woman, but I've sure woke up with a few.' "