Friday, January 31, 2014

The Irish Inn at Glen Echo

A couple years ago we discovered the city of Glen Echo when we went to visit Clara Barton's house. Two of my portraits were displayed there as part of the 100 year anniversary. There is also a park there with an arts vibe and a working carousel. When we passed by this Irish Inn back then, one of our friends mentioned he had been to this place and liked the atmosphere and the shepherd's pie. As it was a day to have lunch, I thought of this place, so we decided to take a ride through the Palisades and give it a try. And it was worth it. Upon entry it reminded us of the many pubs and such in England. To the left was the bar entry, and to the right was the dining room entry. We ended up upstairs in a more private space, but I think we would have preferred a table in the bar! The fish and chips were good as was the shepherd's pie.  They have a more extensive dinner menu with the same items plus more. The only negative thing we have to say was the bread was good but not to our taste, and the parking lot was very full and difficult to maneuver in because it was full! I'm glad I remembered this inn - it was a great ride, a cozy and clean place, the food was good, and we enjoyed it. What else would you want?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Eustace Tilley 2014?

I was one of the lucky winners in The New Yorker's 2012 Eustace Tilley Contest. It was really exciting to have my artistic rendering of Eustace Tilley selected - especially because the subject was fashioned after our sweet Borzoi Tatiana, and it was one of the first digital paintings I made using the iPad. It appears the contest ended last year as there was no fanfare about submissions in December 2013. In spite of that I created a rendition of Eustace just for the fun of it that I would have submitted. What this contest did was give me the confidence to continue creating digital art and starting an Etsy Shop where I have had commissions as far away as Australia, Canada, and all over the US. Thanks for the inspiration.  It probably would not have mattered if I lived in DC or Milwaukee, but I'm happy to have the recognition at this level. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Iran Female and Male Door Knockers

I have had the wonderful and unique opportunity to visit Iran twice - the first time in 1996 and the second time in 2009.  I met a lot of my husband's family and relatives and remain in contact with several of them. On our last visit we brought along three American friends and traveled all over the country. One of my favorite cities was Yazd. While there we took a lot of photos - especially the doors. That may seem strange, but every one is more interesting than the next. But what I found peculiar but also useful in a climate such as this, was that each door has a knocker for a man visitor and a knocker for a female visitor. It's not hard to figure out which one is which. Apparently the inhabitants like to know who is at the door before it is opened for a variety of reasons. They must certainly have the sound down to distinguish each. But the whole thing is so artistic! So I collected my favorite door photos and stuck them in side by side frames. It is a conversation piece. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snail Mail Delivery Rather Than On Line

Whenever I have a commission to do a digital portrait, the process is all virtual except for the last order. My mom, who lives out of state, has a friend who requested a portrait be made of a dog who lives in California with his owner. She sent me the photo of the dog in regular USPS mail. As usual, I created the portrait on my iPad. Once completed, after several bits of communication in between, I send the completed portrait by email as a jpeg image attachment. The person who requested it can print it using their printer, use it as a digital image, create a product using the image like a coffee mug or t-shirt, and be creative. This time however, I needed to print the image myself and mail it to the recipient as a gift. So I walked the package to the Longworth House Office Building today and got some stamps while I was there. I have to say it may be good exercise, but I much prefer the digital email approach to the standard hard copy UPS approach. But I'll do anything for my mom - even if it means printing something and walking to the post office. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden and Ice Rink

Yesterday we drove by the Capitol and saw folks walking on water - the reflecting pond was frozen over and there were both pedestrians and ice skaters on the ice. Today we took our typical Sunday walk on the Mall and passed by the real ice skating rink at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. Here, you can actually rent ice skates and go round and round with the National Archives in the backdrop. There is also a lovely restaurant/coffee shop on the premises to view the action from inside or just enjoy the space. On the way home we walked by the Capitol makeshift "skating rink" again where there were a lot more folks trying out the ice. The reflection of the Capitol Building was more interesting to me today. My husband kiddingly asked what I thought might happen if we sprinkled a little salt on the pond.  We certainly wouldn't do such a thing, but hopefully it will begin to thaw soon enough. It is beginning to not only feel like Milwaukee around here, it's looking too much like it too. The cold and ice was one of the main reasons we left the Midwest. Way is this all about?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Capitol Reflecting Pond Ice Skating Rink

Most folks go to the Sculpture Garden Ice Skating rink this time of year to participate in this winter sport. They come in all shapes and sizes, and basically try to make their way around and around with many more out lookers than skaters in sight. Closer to our neighborhood is the new rink that opened last year near the baseball stadium. Canal Park looks more like something out of Hans Christian Andersen with a figure eight ice configuration and modern design elements. Although not an official ice skating rink, the Capitol reflecting pond has frozen over and some fools think it's the place to be. Living in Milwaukee, we often heard of dopes who would snowmobile on to the ice and fall through, and the opening scene of the movie It's A Wonderful Life shows George falling though the ice and paying for it with hearing loss. That doesn't stop some people from behaving in a way I could never dream about. Let's hope the ice is as solid as it looks. There was one ice skater and many more pedestrians walking on water. It makes for an interesting photo shoot, but let's keep our fingers crossed. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Best UPS Delivery Guy in DC

The following query was left by one of the residents of our building. It is followed by other resident responses. We always knew this about our UPS delivery guy - just happy to see others have noticed too!

QUESTION: "Dear all, I just want to express my thanks to the person (s) who has been faithfully delivering my many packages to my door for several months. To be precise, my packages from J.Crew and Net-a-Porter, as opposed to my packages from H&M and Urban Outfitters. Your reliability has been so consistent that I have been able to predict when you would deliver and when you wouldn't - no complaint at all because I don't order much from H&M and I do appreciate the frequent J.Crew deliveries. But why the distinction? And who are you so that I can thank you in person, perhaps over coffee? Your grateful neighbor, G"

"G-- I think I can solve the mystery for you -- We have a UPS guy who is amazing!   He is just a great guy -- better than all the rest -- and he always leaves my packages in front of my door -- That's how I know he's on the job!! I can't give him near enough praise!   He even knows my name! (Not that I'm a frequent shopper, of course!) So -- next time you see our UPS guy -- be sure to thank him -- because I'd bet a buck he's the source of such kindness!"

"Sounds like he has short blond hair and worn shorts in summer time. Around 40.  He has pleasant disposition.  Like what you said, he always went up and left my packages in front of my door. Sometimes he rang the bell (flashing light) to get me to the door. Hope he "forever" will stay on the job."  :-)

"G, I second what R said. If your package yesterday was from Zappos, it was definitely our super cool UPS guy who delivered it to your door because I let him in the front door and saw him go upstairs."

People aren't used to this kind of service in this town. I'd like to say it is much more common in the Midwest, and I certainly do miss that!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wagtime Gallery Wall

The busy holiday season ended in December. I had about sixty custom dog and cat portrait requests. I finally had an opportunity to get all the supplies I needed to print, mat on foam board, and apply Velcro for hanging them all on the "gallery wall" at the Wagtime Shop on Capitol Hill. The additional twelve portraits make the total close to seventy! Every one is distinctly different from the other, as are the customers who find my website, Etsy Shop, or hear about digital art from somewhere. The nice thing about the transactions is they are all virtual and there is no shipping expense. But I need to print the images for the real display. And I really appreciate Lisa letting me use the space. If you asked me three years ago if I would be doing something like this I would have scratched my head. Now I can't imagine not!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Anniversity? US Capitol Grounds Memorial Tree

Strolling through the Capitol grounds we noticed a sign on one of the trees. Many of the trees are dedicated to different people for a variety of reasons, while other name plates simply identify the type of tree or plant that is growing in the spot. There was nothing really unique about the sign itself but something caught my eye. Upon closer inspection, we noticed a weird word ... Anniversity? We both looked it up immediately on line and could not find it on a website or in the dictionary. I even sent a picture of the sign it to a friend who knows everything about words and the Capitol, and she never heard of it. So, was it created this way on purpose, or is it a mistake and someone was hoping it would not be noticed. If you have ever heard of this word, please help us out! In the mean time, shame on the person who approved and made it!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What a Difference a Day Makes -Part 2

Just the other day we went form dreary and rainy to beautiful blue skies. Last night, the sunset was unusually beautiful. I suppose it was in expectation of the 4-8 inches of snow we are supposed to get here today. Having been off yesterday for the Martin Luther King Jr holiday, I didn't feel much like going to work today after a very long wonderful weekend. So I kept my fingers crossed that the federal government would close. We listened to the 11 PM news, and all the schools were announcing closures, but the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) website said "open for business" and the Library contact number said the same. So I left the seven AM alarm off just in case, and asked my husband, who is always up by 6:30, to call the work number to get a status before 7 AM. Only then would he need to wake me up if I had to go in. When I woke up at 7:15, I knew the outcome and rolled over to go back to sleep. Wonderful!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial

It's hard to believe that there is supposed to be 4-8 inches of snow tomorrow when it is almost 60 degrees today. And thanks to the Martin Luther King holiday I am off! It's great working for the Federal government for that reason alone. It's also hard to believe that last year it was also Inauguration Day.  The streets are certainly less busy, and we did not attend any of the celebrations held today for the holiday. We did however, drive by the MLK Memorial on the way back from lunch in Great Falls. Based on all the cars in the parking lots at the trails and the Roosevelt Island, everyone was out enjoying the mild temps. As we made our way to the Memorial, there was some minor traffic, and tour buses,  but it was easily navigable. Someone is always selling trinkets and pictures, a guard dog reminds everyone to behave, TV vans are on site reporting the latest updates, and reasonable amounts of pedestrian traffic. The "rickshaw" bicycles had a brisk business carting visitors to and from the place. We've driven, walked, and traveled here many times before, and watched the monument being built. Since then, many milestone events have taken place here. Whenever someone asks us where we might move if we were ever to leave DC, we are hard pressed to come up with an answer.