Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Capitol Fourth Preparation and Evening Walk

With all the rain this week I didn't think we would get a chance to take our usual Saturday evening walk around the Capitol grounds. But we were in luck last evening and started at the Botanic Garden where a few bees were feasting on the cactus flowers, and from the front of the building the view of the American Indian Museum was pretty against the sunset. Obviously the Washington Monument sits prominently from a lot of different angles and serves as a lighthouse of sorts for us should we ever got lost. The set up for the Capitol Fourth has been underway for at least a couple of weeks. It seems the Memorial Day concert was just here! The annual PBS event starts at 8 PM on Thursday with Barry Manilow the leading performer! The best part Is the 1812 Overture playing with cannons sounding by the reflecting pool. There is no official public dress rehearsal for this event that I'm aware of, except if you hear some practice while passing by on Wednesday. We heard Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson singing in preparation for Inauguration in January. On the east side of the Capitol is a great spot to sit and observe. The dome of the Capitol is reflected in the fountain that covers the glass ceilings of the visitor center. The Library of Congress Jefferson Building looks magnificent this time of day. What is most amazing is how quiet it is here in the evening...oftentimes I can get photos without a single person in view. And that's what I like about living on Capitol Hill. It feels like I have it all to myself.

***Update:there is a dress rehearsal at 7:30 on Wednesday evening on the West lawn of the Capitol. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Along Constitution Avenue

Usually we take Independence Avenue home but decided to go up Constitution for a change of pace.  It was a big mistake because I forgot about the road work going on that narrows the lanes to one. And folks are so polite around here, it makes it so worthwhile. (I just read somewhere that DC is the worst place for traffic especially during the summer because of congestion, accidents, and gas prices). But it gave me an opportunity to check out our surroundings at a much slower mph. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is open through the July 4 holiday. This year celebrates Hungarian heritage, endangered languages, and African American Diversity. The American History Museum had a small line, and remains one of my favorites. We saw a truck driver taking a siesta across the street from the huge lines at the National Archives. The  sidewalk vendors still sell batteries for Kodak cameras! A very old tourist was being manhandled very carefully by his family members, one wearing a neck brace, trying to avoid the very impatient cab driver who couldn't understand why the car in front of him didn't want to mow down the people crossing the street. The roads are blocked in front of the Capitol as the area is being prepared for the Fourth of July concert. In spite of the threat of afternoon rainstorms predicted, we may need to attend the concert to hear Barry Manilow, and see the greatest fireworks display in the country. It is always entertaining to check out the Mall, in an air conditioned vehicle, but I'm not the one doing the driving.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Furlough Day, Rain Delay, and Burger King

I scheduled a four hour furlough block for Thursday afternoon, which makes it feel like a very long weekend - since I have Friday off - and a very short work week. (What a great combination!) With school out, my husband's babysitting duties shift to a less defined schedule, and I knew he would be picking the grandson up from wrestling camp at 4:00 PM to get him to a baseball game for 6:00. Of course, having been to millions of baseball games to watch my brother pitch, you know you have to be there an hour earlier to practice.  Add in to the mix the possibility of a rain delay, and the DC rush hour traffic, it takes an hour to drive one mile. And so it did - take an hour to drive one mile. When we arrived at the field, the game was delayed to 7:30. So, we had a hungry kid on our hands, a rain delayed game, rush hour traffic, and Dad driving from work to join us at the ball park. Rather then drive all the way home, we decided to find a place to eat and ended up at Burger King. Some folks have difficulty understanding accents over the order machine, and we ended up with three cheeseburgers instead of one. We returned to the field, the grandson had a ball with his friends, and a hungry Dad ended up with the two extra cheeseburgers. All in all everything turned out well. It was a good thing I was off so I could ride along this time and help with all the directions and unexpected delays. Usually our daughter in law handles all this, but she was in NY for a show. She must have the patience of a saint, or I am just out of practice. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Patio Garden

Even though we only have a small patio, there is plenty of space for a vegetable garden. Last summer, we were denied a harvest due to the extreme heat. So far this season, everything is very green and staying very green. The green pepper is the only one of the five pepper plants that has grown in to a pepper. All the others have been bitten off at the tips. I'm not a fan of the green pepper either, so whatever is munching on my vegetables unfortunately has my taste. There is one good sized tomato on a plant that is already three feet high.  For something that tall, there should be more! The eggplant has a few flowers, and not much else. But the three cucumber vines may be our best bet. They are flowering and meandering their way around and on top of everything else. I love the way they find a way to wrap around anything in their way. I am rooting for these guys the most, because there is nothing better than a cucumber fresh out of the garden. We had vegetables in Wisconsin too, but the planting and growing season was so much shorter, and we were never as successful as here. It all goes to show you that you really don't need a lot of space to enjoy the big treats in life. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Women on the Steps of Persepolis - SOLD!

It's been a long time since my first art work was created with crayons and construction paper back in kindergarten in Connecticut. I've always had the artsy bug in me but didn't do much about it until three years ago when the iPad came out. Yes, I did keep a sketch pad of some kind along the way, but using the iPad as the canvas and a stylus as the brush makes it so less messy and rewarding! I have received a lot of positive feedback on my two entries at the Library of Congress art show. In fact, I have a buyer for The Women on the Steps of Persepolis. The cool thing about digital work is that I can simply send the jpeg image as an email attachment or print to size. I much prefer using the digital approach because I don't have to deal with shipping. That way, the customer can mat and frame to their liking, or put it on an unconventional surface like a coffee mug. My Etsy shop is all digital with custom order options. Who would have thought this little blue bird would eventually make something out of herself? And if someone else likes this painting I can easily make another one. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rustico in Alexandria

Having heard about it when it first opened a while back, we decided not to go. But we changed our minds in the name of adventure. So we made our way to Alexandria to try out Rustico for dinner. It seemed everyone had pizza on the table but the daily specials sounded good - fried chicken and shrimp gnocchi. The sun was setting right in to my eyes so it made for a very fuzzy view. The salad and fries were good. I'm not sure what to say except maybe we need to try it again. It is situated in a relatively new neighborhood of look a like town homes. I understand why homes are so vertical in the city, but don't quite get the idea of it further away. All in all it doesn't feel like Old Town and reminds me of Brookfield in Wisconsin. Can't quite put my finger on it, but something sterile about it all. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dominicans, Buddhist Monks, and Mennonites

While roaming the Capitol grounds in anticipation of the super moon, a convergence of sorts ascended upon us. A small stage and microphone was sitting in the middle of the East Lawn across from the Supreme Court. About twenty Dominican priests and nuns traversed across the lawn. I asked one of them what their business was and it was to say a vigil for peace. I recognized the order due to my familiarity of the garb from grammar school. Next up were a couple of Buddhist Monks walking by the Bartholdi Fountains. And finally about ten Mennonites posed for a timed photo with very sophisticated equipment - which gave them away as not being Amish. Among all this was the lone Capitol Policeman on a motorcycle parading along the sidewalk. Everyone, including me, seemed to be captivated with the surroundings. Every one of us, except the policeman, were making every effort to capture the moment with our electronic devices - but for seemingly different reasons. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Super Moon Over Washington DC

The last few Saturday evenings have been perfect for a walk about the Capitol grounds. Last night was no exception, and as a treat, the super moon was rising. Though it wasn't high in the sky, we got the idea. Though it wasn't really late at night, we still got the idea. We started at the Library of Congress Jefferson Building, then moved to the Supreme Court. We backtracked to the Madison Building - a place I hate to see on Monday morning, but don't mind at all any other time - and then down the street to our neighborhood. There is something about the old 1880 building landscape against the night sky. Who and what passed this way all these years gone by? But the most interesting view was around 2 AM. We stayed up to watch a movie, and I checked the moon once more. It was really bright, and eerie at the same time, and I was tricked in to thinking it was much bigger than it was. We were in France about ten years ago, and The Milky Way was within reach from where we stood. Our hosts were so thrilled about showing us this once in a lifetime event - and were annoyed that my husband just didn't get the drift. This was the case again last evening, but it didn't really matter. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Yards Park on a Friday Afternoon

Yards Park down by the Anacostia River is about eight blocks from our house past M Street SE. The last time we walled that way was in spring with the beautiful azaleas in bloom. After dinner last evening we walked that way again. Folks were converging on the neighborhood for a Nationals game, and the sight and sounds of children could be heard from blocks away. When we reached the Department of Transportation building, the area was abuzz with activity.  Just down the street a new Harris Teeter is going in, and several shops are under construction. But the highlight of this area, on the first day of summer, is the wading pool. There were kids and grown ups in all shapes, sizes, and colors enjoying the beautiful evening and splashing about. The bridge reminds me of the Calatrava in Milwaukee, and the boats were tying to the dock. Music and entertainment could be heard in the distance. But even in this new establishment are reminders of the grunge. All the junk that collects in the river finds it's way to the celebration. Wonder when people will ever quit being such litter bugs? That stuff just doesn't belong at the party. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hyatt's Graphic Supply Company Reminds Me of Frager's

I use foam board to mount my digital cat and dog renderings at the Wagtime Shop. I used to get large boards and cut them to size using a straight edge and scalpel. But the straight edges weren't as straight as I would like, so I thought I would try getting some pre-cut boards. Staples didn't have what I needed, so I thought I would try Amazon, which of course has just about everything. I ended up with a company called Hyatt's on Main Street in Buffalo, NY. The package arrived within a couple days, but it was literally crushed, so I did not have a lot of hope for the squishy contents. Only two of the four pieces were barely salvageable. I sent off a note to them last night with a photo and received a response early this morning, asking if I wanted a replacement or a refund. I really didn't want either, just wanted to send a friendly reminder to be more careful with packaging this kind of stuff in the future. The invoice said it was a family owned business since 1959. It reminded me of Frager's and I appreciated their quick response and follow up. And I just didn't have the heart to make an issue of it.