Thursday, September 18, 2014

Preparing for Discovery - Finding Intelligent Life Beyond Earth

This is the kind of program my husband loves and I don't get. So I found all the background material for him to decide if he wanted to attend one or both days of a lecture series at the Library, where I work. Usually we both attend over a lunch hour on a mutually interesting subject. But this was all day and one sided - interest wise. It was about discovering life beyond earth - filled with scientists and such from all over the world. The setting was in the beautiful Jefferson Building. These programs are oftentimes free and open to the public. You just need to check the calendar and show up. He thought the breakfast spread was excellent, but refrained from indulging in it. Beyond that, he loved the content and the speakers. Since he didn't plan to return after lunch or again tomorrow, he knows he can see whatever parts he missed via on line webcasts or tune in real time. One of the biggest benefits of living in the neighborhood are these opportunities that could cost thousands of dollars to attend otherwise. All we have to do is walk down the street two blocks. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Thanks DC Blogs

It happens once in awhile and I notice it every time it does. DC Blogs noted my blog entry yesterday about our tomato plant. And today my blog stats increased. It's always nice to attract readers to your blog and this is one of the best ways to do it. I'm never sure what will be of interest, but my blog is all about observations and photos. I really appreciate the boost, and always send a thank you, and mention it in my blog the same day. My parents taught us good manners, and this is certainly a great occasion to send a thank you note. Can't wait for the next notice!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

From the Capitol Hill garden to the Table

It started out in spring as a tiny plant in our patio garden. It was called "early girl" and we supported it with a large cage in hopes for a good tomato crop this summer. Since we grassed in a good chunk of the flower garden we needed to be selective about the vegetable we would plant this year. So the tomato beat out the cucumber. That plant grew higher than the fence and bent over itself. Until recently it seemed early girl was a dud. The first few were gobbled ip by patrolling squirrels who left the skins behind. That was not a good sign. It kept getting greener and bigger, but didn't have much to show for it - until the last few weeks. We started bringing in the lightly ripened tomatoes and kept them in the southern exposure on the kitchen table, then transferred them to the kitchen to ripen some more until they were ready for good eats. And they are! We had a huge garden in Milwaukee, but there is something special about having just one plant and tending it. Now I'm ready to move on to the fall season and get the garden back in proportion. Maybe next year we'll go for the cucumbers. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Nasta'liq - The Genius of Persian Calligraphy at the Sackler

I attempted to take a photo at an exhibit in the Sackler recently and was reprimanded by the security guard. I had taken photos in there before, so was a little surprised - and embarrassed - by the encounter. When we took our walk yesterday we headed down independence Avenue. I asked my husband if he wanted to see if there was a new exhibit at the Sackler at this time of year. As it so happens, one just opened this past weekend about the fine art of calligraphy. I didn't even attempt to take any photos, and didn't even feel like asking. I'm not sure why, but I was feeling a little faint as we made our way around the two room gallery. Maybe because I didn't have my regular glasses and my sunglasses were just a bit too dark for the low lighted area. We did pick up a card on the way out that highlighted future events that will be held over the next several months. These include lectures, a film festival, and of course the annual Nowruz celebration in Spring. We visited the Sackler many times before we moved here, along with most of the Smithsonian museums on the mall. It's so much easier just walking down the street and deciding at the last minute to stop off and see one of them. It's even better on the off season and without the crowds. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Capitol Ducks

In front of the Capitol Building is a large reflecting pool. On any given day there are many visitors and locals alike taking in the views of the Capitol, Grant's statue, the US Botanical gardens, and the Smithsonian buildings and Mall to the West. Regardless of the season, there is a large family of what I think are Mallard ducks who have taken over the place. They act like they own it and hardly pay attention to anyone who even looks at them, never mind the many who take photos of them - including me. You can see them paddling about searching for food, swimming and quacking with their babies every spring, and napping on the edges. But they always seem to stay close to the water. I noticed a bunch of them hanging around the grassy land in front of a big tree that was being "restored" - an unusual sight that they were not only out of but away from the water. But they were feasting on something... And they were pecking at each other. All was well until someone decided to upset their fun and scare them off. Since I was already taking a photo, I kept the camera rolling when they began lift off. The big blue stripe on the wings was about the only thing that came in to focus. In unison they flew past the Botanical garden and landed right back to where they normally can be found - close enough, but far enough away from the human kind. Someone always has to spoil the show. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The US Botanical Garden in the Rain

A rainy day is not my idea of a good time to take a walk. I avoid rain like the plague. But for whatever reason, we decided since it was just sprinkling, we would give it a go and made our way toward the US Botanical Garden. I really like it there, and was curious to see not only what was still in bloom, but how it looked in the rain and mist. Surprisingly, since I was prepared with a rain jacket and an umbrella, the expedition was actually quite pleasant. What made it even more so were the picturesque  surroundings. Everything takes on a different vibe under the clouds. The rain drops somehow make everything even more spectacular. One can definitely feel that fall is in the air, just by looking at all the once bright and vivacious colors turning to earth tone hues. It's also obvious that the season is changing because the crowds are sparse. In any event it almost feels like our own private garden - heaven knows we have walked this way so may times since we moved here and even before that. In a way or does belong to us all. We are just lucky enough to live just a couple blocks away. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Dog Memorial Portrait

It didn't start out that way. I opened my Etsy shop two years ago featuring digital art. I grew up on watercolors and pastels, pen and ink, and sketches. But when the iPad came along, my life really changed and my hobby blossomed. It started with a win in The New Yorker Eustace Tilley contest, and featured works in the employee art show at The Library of Congress. Capitol Hill and Washington DC are highlighted in a lot of my art. Three of my children's books feature fish, grandsons, family life, and cities. Trips to England, Iran, and Denmark spark some creativity. But one of my favorite subjects to draw is a dog. So far, I've done quite a few. Several are on display at the Wagtime Shop across from the Navy Yard on Capitol Hill. There is just something about a dog - or a cat. We had two wonderful animals when we lived in Milwaukee. A golden retriever named Natasha and a beautiful Borzoi by the name of Tatiana. When they left us, they took a part of us with them. I guess a lot of people feel the same way. One of the most frequent requests I receive for a custom portrait is of a dearly departed pet. And one of the best compliments to receive is that I captured the spirit of that beloved pet in their eyes. It's so rewarding to get positive feedback on anything, but there is just something special about the bond between a pet and his owner.