Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Early Americas at the Library of Congress

We all read about it in grade school and high school and beyond. But it's not until you actually see artifacts and maps and personal stories does the history come alive. We pass through the Early America's exhibit at the Library of Congress whenever we attend a presentation in the Middle Eastern/African Division. But we have not spent a lot of time actually looking at the articles that are on display. So I took a walk over one afternoon and explored the  place in the beautiful Jefferson Building. One of the key features is a map that is one of the first - if not the first - to label America as a separate continent. It's so tiny compared to the rest of the world all those centuries ago. The names of Cortez and Aztecs all sound familiar, but I needed to read again about the significance of it all. I never take for granted where we live and what is available to us here in Washington. Most of the folks I pass by come from somewhere else and are visiting here to see history and culture showcased in a beautiful backdrop. I always look forward to my afternoon walks. This one was so very enlightening. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fine Art America Options

The one thing I like most about digital art are all the options available to showcase it. Whenever I complete a portrait, I showcase it on my Etsy shop. But the portrait is also posted on Fine Art America. A couple years ago, one could create matted and framed pictures - and that was about it. Then the metals and acrylics became available. Now, there are a lot more ways to not only view the artwork, but actually use it. Now you can create pillows, duvet covers, tote bags, and phone cases. If customers are not able to print their own portraits at home, this website can be accessed to create all sorts of products that at one time were unimaginable. But if you still like the look of a canvas masterpiece, that is available too. I am just so thrilled that my artwork is displayed in someone's home - even if it's on an unconventional item. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Giant Cucumber Plant

The leaves are bigger than my hand. The vine is taking over the trellis and the fence. We've had cucumbers in our little patio garden before, but never anything like this. I don't know if it's because of the hot and humid temperatures or the trellis we made for it to grow on. The leaves were never this big when the plant was crawling around on the ground. When we left ten days ago for a short trip out of town the vine was already exceeding expectations. When we returned a few days ago there were already three large cucumbers to be had - and they were simply delicious! By the looks of it we should have a substantial crop this year. The tomato plant has already taken over the other side of the garden but there is only one small tomato to be seen. Regardless of the outcome the process is entertaining. Even in Milwaukee we never had such excitement in the garden. It doesn't take much to keep us entertained. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Smithsonian Garden Party

As the seasons change so do the plants and flowers surrounding the Smithsonian Buildings on the National Mall. The newly renovated Arts and Industries Building has undergone a huge transformation. Not only the building itself was restored, but the gardens around it have been totally beautified. On the West side of the building an entire outdoor seating area was added. The newly potted plants and flowers have not yet been placed in their final spots, but it looks very inviting. Along the secret garden path is a wall of succulents featuring an array of colorful varieties. Interesting baskets hang from the trees in front of the castle. It reminds me of the Chicago Botanical Garden we visited several times - and each time creative ways to showcase vegetables and plants was not lost on any of us. I never get tired of looking at the exotic and ever changing scenes on the mall. This is only a small piece of it - and such a pleasant one. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Smithsonian Folklife Festival - Peru

It's been a while since we took a walk on the mall. We returned from Florida two days ago and it's been raining non stop. It's great for the vegetables, but not much else. So we finally ventured out this morning to get back in to a routine. The usual summer tourist activity is well underway, with huge lines in front of the Air and Space museum. A couple weeks back we saw the construction crews putting up the guts for the upcoming Smithsonian Folklife Festival that is held every year around the Fourth of July. Usually it is closer to the Castle, but the turf restoration project has taken up a lot of green space. Usually there are three countries or cultures that are showcased, but this year there is only one - Peru. The festival is featured on the east end nearer to the Capitol, and has exhibits on either side of the mall. The center section has remained clear for the throngs of visitors who will flock to the Mall for the fireworks. We strolled through the grounds, and it was quite busy on a Sunday. Traditional sights included rope bridges, dances, music, art, textiles, colorful native costumes - and of course, food! This is one of the reasons we really like living in DC. There is always something to do. And for us, all we have to do is walk a couple of blocks to get there. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

From Richmond to Washington

We were finally on our last day driving home from Florida yesterday. My dad died last week and it feels like a dream -  I haven't quite figured out what end is up. We left Florida on the interstate and stayed on it through most of Virginia. Taking the freeway is faster, but it can also be boring. So around Richmond we decided to take the back roads and see how far we could get without too much of a delay. Driving in an eleven year old Subaru also doesn't lend a lot of confidence, but we have AAA, a phone, and GPS, so we took a chance. It was a rather cloudy and rainy day. Once on the road, a lot of what we saw looks like a lot of other back roads in other states. It really didn't seem that much different than Florida, except the citrus and gator signs have long since disappeared. Every time we take a route like this it reminds me of a whole other lifestyle and how different it is from anywhere we have ever lived. I suppose there are pros and cons for each. All I know is my husband is an urban dweller and that definitely has it's drawbacks. Just getting groceries is ten times more expensive in Washington than Virginia - we were reminded of that today. There must be something in between that could be suitable for our taste. We just haven't found it yet. And as one of our friends told us - there's no reason to make a decision if you don't need to. I'm not quite sure how losing a parent is supposed to feel. I just need to settle back in to a routine and I'm looking forward to it. But everything looks just a little different.