Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

On the north side, it is dark and there is a waterfall and totem pole; on the south side it is bright and there are tepees and corn. Where else could this be but the American Indian Museum. We have been inside twice. Once when we first moved here, and a second time with my cousin and her husband. He happens to be a small part Choctaw. It is very interesting, and the food in the cafeteria is very American Indian. All the Smithsonian Museums are an experience. This weekend was a special exhibit about the Comanche Nation. Outside the building were free lessons in bow and arrow shooting. The target was posted on a few bales of hay. Yesterday as we passed by the duck pond, a huge hawk was pestering a group of feathered friends by swooping back and forth over their heads, creating a lot of commotion, and a lot of interest from the bystanders. The architectural style is very different from most of the landscape on the Mall. It represents the color and shapes of a place far removed from Washington DC. You can see the entire building from the US Botanic Garden just across the street. And all this is only a couple blocks from our house. One of the reasons we like where we live is because it feels very suburban - like Milwaukee, but within walking distance a whole world opens up. It's really quite amazing when you think about it. And apparently a lot of other people think about it too. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Birdwatching at the American Indian Museum in front of the Capitol ... Seagulls, BlueJays, Ducks... HAWK?!

A little crowd had gathered at the pond in front of the American Indian Museum facing the Capitol Building. When we arrived at the spot, there was a bit of commotion going on. The ducks were squawking, splashing, and diving under the water as this large grey and white large sized bird flew from one tree to another, and rested on a large branch looking over the action. He settled in and fluffed out his feathers as a lone mockingbird moved in and a squirrel observed from the distance. We waited for about twenty minutes for him to make his move. The sparrows didn't seem to notice, someone brought some crumbs to feed the ducks, and all seemed right in the feathery world. A couple female ducks separated from the group to a marshy spot to feast on some greens. Our friend appeared to notice the movement, became more alert, feathers thinned out, and he slowly walked along the branch  - then pounced from the tree and jettisoned over the sitting ducks below. He landed right in front of us, just a few feet away from what could be a tasty dinner. They all stared at each other for awhile  - squawking some more. Then he took off again in their direction. They once again all headed for the hills (under water) as the big bird swooped down and headed back to his perch. Seemed like he was just playing games - this time. We lived in Milwaukee thirty years and never saw a scene like this in the big park near the lakeshore. We do see a falcon once on our birdbath. But this was something else, and very unexpected!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Why New Jersey?

As a kid taking summer vacations in our family car, I remember a couple things. My brother punched out both my front teeth, and I threw his favorite baseball hat out the window. The other more routine activity was to check out all the license plates. What state was seen the most? What color were they? Where do you think they were going? Based on the direction the card was were heading, you could at least figure out if they were coming or going home. When we drove to Florida in August, we noticed a lot of New Jersey license plates. But here in DC, aside from Virginia and Maryland, it seems like New Jersey still takes the prize. I only captured a few of the license plates as we passed them ... on the freeway crossing over to Virginia, along the GW Parkway, in and around our neighborhood - and just today, there were at least five cars from New Jersey parked along Independence Avenue within just two or three blocks. License plates provide an identity whether you like it or not. In fact, our daughter in law was lamenting that she was feeling bad about having to change her license plate to Virginia since they just moved there from DC. She waited until the last day. I've driven cars with Florida, Wisconsin, and now DC license plates - my parents drove with Massachusetts and Connecticut license plates. When I ask why would there be so many from New Jersey here, the answer is typically would you want to be there? I'm not sure that's the best answer, but maybe it's a reasonable one. There is something about New Jersey and maybe that's all there is to it. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Grand Parisian Salad at Costco

Salad is a good thing. And ready made salad can be even better. Yes, we have all the individual ingredients for our daily dinner salad - lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, dried cranberries, feta cheese, nuts of some sort or other, and usually a balsamic dressing. During the summer months we are fortunate to have enough garden space in our tiny garden for a tomato plant and cucumber vine. When we were in Costco for the first time last week, we came across the Grand Parisian Complete Salad. It has everything in it that we store individually. So we decided to get a couple packages to see how it tasted. It was really quite good! That same day we got a container if feta cheese for when we have to go back to the old way of doing things. I'm thinking we got a deal on the packaged lettuce, but I'm really not sure. Either way is pretty simple, but I'm always on the hunt to make things even simpler. What could be better? Someone is bringing the salad to our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cuties Are Made For Kids?

We always had fruit in the house. Watermelon is one of my favorites. Every afternoon I have a sliced apple after lunch and every evening we have some sort of fruit to munch on while watching TV. It usually consists of at least three different varieties - melon, cherries, grapes, strawberries... Once in a while we have oranges. But not just any kind of orange. I really don't care for the big ones because it's too much and too messy. But what I really like are the tiny little ones that are easy to peal, are juicy, and very tasty. When we went to Costco last week we found some "small quantities" of some things - including the oranges. But when I got home and had the first one, I noticed the sticky tag on one. It said "cuties are for kids." When I looked at some of the other tags, they all had different pictures with the Internet address of I haven't looked at the website but only know that you don't have to be a kid to enjoy these little treats. Yes, it's a gimmick as is everything else. But it's a cute one. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Text Message From Milwaukee

The other day I received an unexpected text message from someone in Milwaukee. I used to work at the same place as this person, and he is someone that I continue to see when we visit Wisconsin. In fact, I saw him in July when we traveled there for our annual trip. Because we lived in the Midwest for thirty years, there are several special folks we make sure we see. So whenever I hear from him, the conversation starts at the same place it ended. He travels to Pittsburg regularly but can never seem to find the time or have the inclination to travel another few miles to the nation's Capitol. As it was, he was at Reagan Airport waiting to switch planes on his way to Pittsburg. I was impressed he was actually in town, but of course I berated him for not letting me know sooner - even though it would not have made any difference. The one thing I remember most about him was that he would impersonate John Wayne's walk, and try to talk like him. But even more, he always had a very pleasant demeanor about him. But don't let him know I think that. I do miss some of the characters I knew when we lived there. But I am also glad that he remembers to send a note here and there. It brings a smile to my face. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Capitol Christmas Tree Arrives in DC With a Stop In Milwaukee

It has arrived! The Capitol Christmas tree originated in Minnesota this year. This I know because my friend who hails from there informed me about it. She went to see it get unloaded from the flat bed truck on Friday. Before it arrived here, it passed through Milwaukee en route to DC. I read about it on line in the Milwaukee Journal last week. There was a lot of fanfare for it downtown there. (The photos are from the Milwaukee Journal). I feel a bit of a connection to it now! Today we walked over to the Capitol see how far the progress is with the decorations. There were a lot of very large branches on the ground. A forklift was hovering about with a workman skillfully filling in the bare spots. Most of the Westlawn was fenced off and of course there was police presence. In less than two weeks it will be completely decorated for the official lighting scheduled on December 2 at 5PM. Then, you can get close up and personal and see the ornaments that come from all over the country. When we first moved here, we went to one of the official lighting ceremonies, but since then I've always been at work at 5 PM. Maybe we will make it this year since I'm on an eight hour shift now. Things do keep getting brighter - especially this time of the year.