I was very fortunate to have run into Shelley, an old friend whom I had lost touch with, at the Kennedy Center a few weeks ago. We met today for lunch at the Swiss Bakery and Cafe and had a delightful time catching up many years of our lives. She is as young and peppy as ever! I was especially impressed with her tales about her singing all over the world (Rome, Italy, and the Kennedy Center, to name a few) and about her becoming an intuitive artist.
We both had the Cafe's wonderful grilled Gruyere cheese sandwiches.
When I discovered it had recently been her birthday, I knew we had to have something sweet. We each chose a cookie, the chocolate leaf for her and the school apple for me.
We plan to stay in touch and have more enjoyable outings together.
One should really never lose touch with dear friends! But somehow it happens in the midst of our busy lives. But sometimes one is fortunate to find those dear friends again. What joy!
I am a huge fan of the programs offered by the Smithsonian Associates and I attended an excellent lecture tonight. What had appealed to me at first when I read the description of this particular lecture was the name of T.S. Eliot. I have been a great admirer of his ever since I read "The Wasteland" in my junior year at Washburn High.
This lecture focused on the four major writers to introduce modernism in 1922 to the literary world. The other three in this important quartet were close friends of Eliot: Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, and D.H. Lawrence.
The speaker was Bill Goldstein, who had just published his book entitled The World Broke in Two. He took the title of his book from something Willa Cather had said,
The world broke in two
It was a watershed year in which these four writers reacted to the writers before 1922 and invented the language of the future.
My friend John and I went to the U.S. Botanical Garden today. We had a delightful time immersed in the world of Nature. I must confess I do not spend much time as an observer of the natural world. (I am more of a book and museum art person!) But this outing today might spur me to open my eyes more in the great out-of-doors.
Walking from our parking space to the Botanical Garden, John offered me the choice of walking on the sidewalk along the street or on special walks through enchanted gardens. A very simple decision! I discovered a new treasure in my favorite city.
I love fountains (perhaps having lived so many years in Rome, the City of Fountains Par Excellence, and my second favorite city).
The main purpose of our visit to the Botanical Garden was to see the Corpse Flower. It takes a lot of energy for these plants to produce a flower. It took this plant 12 years to produce this lovely flower and it would only last for a few days. We caught it at the perfect time!
The museum has 14 of these plants and they are kept in a special room. One never knows when a plant will produce a flower. It may take a few years or it may take a dozen or more. This year was quite extraordinary. Three plants produced flowers at more or less the same time. This plant was the third of the three. (In Chicago, however, they had four plants bloom this year. But Washington will win the World Series this year!!)
John and Christine
This chart shows the how the corpse flower grows.
Here are pieces of one of the earlier plants that produced a flower. They had a truly horrible smell. The flower is called a corpse flower because it smells like rotting human flesh. Fortunately, the smell dissipates after a few hours but these pieces still had a very bad smell.
After enjoying the view of the flower, John suggested we go to a special exhibit on How to Grow Plants since he wanted some pointers. It was a wonderfully informative and well-planned exhibit.
I am dedicating the following section to Kirky, my favorite Master Gardener, who is one of my inspirations and is instrumental in beautifying my hometown of Minneapolis. Thank you!
First, we learned which plants are "foolproof," that is, they will thrive even if cared for by a fool like me. They require minimal care.
John deciding which plants he should get for his home
The first installation explained very clearly the importance of light. Which direction should the sun be coming from for your particular plant? Does it need full sunlight? Indirect sunlight?
Then we learned about the different kinds of soil including volcanic ice!
Volcanic ice is fourth from the left and sand (liked by cactus plants) is on the far right. Other examples of soil are bark and coconut.
There were many, many examples of kinds of plants.
This is called Picasso's Paint Brush.
This section contains orchids, and they are not considered foolproof. They are for Experts!
On our way back to the car, we walked through the gardens again but took a different route.
You can get a glimpse of the National Museum to the American Indian in the background. (It is not actually in the middle of all of this gorgeous greenery!)
Information about roses
Information about shrubs native to the region
It was a gorgeous day and a perfect day for wandering through gardens!
My friend Marie and I went to a very unique show called “XYZT: Abstract Landscapes.” I would not dare describe it in my own words. Here is how it is described on the website:
The highly interactive show offers an exploratory physical experience through ten digital installations. Visitors can play, interact, and marvel at the landscape of lines, dots, and letters in this virtual playground of four dimensions: X (horizontal), Y (vertical), Z (depth), and T (time).
Guests who partake in the exhibition will experience an immersive sensory encounter and multi-space digital arts experience: walking on floors that react to footsteps, manipulating light particles within a giant digital cube and blowing into glass boxes and witnessing virtual letters that assemble and disassemble as by a touch of magic.
You may go to the website for a more complete explanation.
I invited five special friends to my house for Tea: Marie, Indra, Janet, Linda, and Barbara. It was a wonderful afternoon of stimulating conversation and a variety of refreshments.
Each guest received a frosted Pink Dress cookie from the Alexandria Pastry Cafe with her place card. (The lovely set of pink dishes was a wedding present from my sister-in-law Lucia Meloni.)
My Watergate cake is seen in the foreground. Its primary ingredient is instant pistachio pudding, both in the cake and in the frosting.
Marie brought the lovely flowers. Indra brought the exotic strawberry tea, a product of Sri Lanka.
But! Arthur's Peach Buns stole the show. He learned about this delicacy on the Internet, found the recipe, and spent an inordinate amount of time tracking down the exotic ingredients and many hours preparing the buns (he spent six hours in the kitchen the night before).
Here are some photos of his preparation.
Upper left: pieces of red bean paste representing peach pits
Lower left: the dough in the shape of peaches
Right: pieces of dough representing peach leaves (green food coloring)
Close-up of the red bean paste pits
Close-up of the leaves dyed green
Arthur using a sieve and a toothbrush to splatter red food coloring on the peaches
Putting the peaches in his new bamboo steamer
The steamer doing its job on the stove
Arthur checking the steaming process
The finished product
Everyone agreed that the buns were unique and very delicious. Arthur, you are a Master!
Indra, Janet, Barbara, Christine
(Linda is not in the photo. Marie is missing. Arthur says that I photoshopped her into oblivion.)
Thanks to my very interesting friends and their stimulating conversation, I can unequivocally say that the tea party was a success!
This lovely little bird was given to me by Barbara. I named him Augustus because it is the month of August and he has a regal (imperial) bearing.
Tim, Barbara, and I went to see the Scena Theatre's production of "Julius Caesar" at the Atlas Theater. It was a rather unique interpretation of the play. Caesar came off as a nasty, arrogant man. Brutus, on the other hand, was handsome and sincere but sadly misled by the conspirators.
Beforehand we had dinner at Sticky Rice, two blocks from the theater. I had avocado sushi. Excellent! Two of Tim's Shakespeare Groupies joined us.
Barbara, Christine, and Tim
It is always fun roaming around this newly-transformed area of Northeast DC.
My friend Janet and I met for lunch at the Springfield Silver Diner. We liked the new menu and were happy with our choices. We then decided to share a piece of carrot cake - delicious with lots of frosting!
Doesn't Janet look thrilled with the cake? I was smiling too on the other side of the camera!
I went to the National Museum of Women in the Arts with three friends, Barbara, Marie, and Jo. We went specifically to see the Revival exhibit. It was a rather provocative, overpowering exhibit of art by contemporary women artists.