Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Magnificent!

Barbara and I went to the National Arboretum in NE Washington. What a glorious experience!

 In the parking lot we met a very friendly and helpful Arboretum fan. Here is Barbara with our new friend Cassandra. We spent most of our time in the Japanese and North American Bonsai Pavilions. 



This Japanese White Pine came from Hiroshima and has been "in training" since 1625. It is, therefore, the oldest Bonsai in the Arboretum (and perhaps in the country?).





                 This is a Scots Pine.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Celebrating Marie

Barbara and I celebrated Marie's birthday today. We began by taking a most interesting tour of Tudor Place.[More details later]








We strolled the streets of Georgetown and enjoyed the many elaborate Halloween decorations.


         Very fashionable skeletons



                    "The Witch is In"

                                         Chris   Black Cat  Witch in a Barrel   Barbara

We then walked down to M Street where we found a Vietnamese restaurant. Barbara and Marie enjoyed their Bento lunches very much. I was quite unenthusiastic but enjoyed the company and the atmosphere.





[More later]







Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Author Talks

Every fall George Mason University sponsors "Fall for the Book." [more later]

Nancy drove to my house and then I drove us to GMU. Here is Nancy in her adorable Topolino.



We met Gertraud in the Food Court and had lunch before we went to hear Susan Bordo talk about her book, "The Destruction of Hillary Clinton." She was superb. She talked about the raw deal that Hillary Clinton  received during and after the campaign. She analyzed the animosity toward this bright, accomplished woman who would have made an excellent president.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Lecture

I attended a program at the Smithsonian: Bob Woodward interviewing Sally Quinn, wife of Ben Bradlee. [more later]



We weren't allowed to take photos when the presenters arrived.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Artists in Wartime

George highly recommended this exhibit at the Air and Space Museum, "Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World World," to John and me.  So today we met him there and found the exhibit very interesting.

Entrance to the exhibit 


Shifting country borders 

It was very interesting to contrast Europe in 1914 and 1923.

 The U.S. government commissioned eight artists to paint scenes of WW I. Here are a few of the works of art:

  

Helping an ally 

 

As the introduction to the exhibit stated, photographs show the more shocking effects of war while paintings bring out the immediacy of war. 

These paintings definitely brought out the more personal nature of the conflict.

I think a war has more meaning when one knows someone who fought in the war. My father's three Norwegian uncles fought in WW I - Henry, Sever, and Oscar.

I remember hearing a lot about Uncle Henry, who returned from the war "shell-shocked" or with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as we would say today.



Wednesday, October 04, 2017

A Beautiful Must-See in the County

My friend Janet introduced me to a marvelous place today. After having lived in the wonderful county of Fairfax since 1977, I was finally made aware of a veritable treasure here.

Green Spring Gardens - There is too much to say about this magical place so I will direct you to its website for a wealth of information about it.

Go to https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/ for complete information.

I will share some of my photos with you now.

I wish I had known about these gardens when my grandchildren were younger. Here is the Children's Garden.
Janet at the entrance to the Children's Garden 

The cards behind the caterpillar mound tell the story of "The Hungry Caterpillar." 

A Little Free Library - Take a book, Leave a book  

Do you see the two dogs? 

Boy filling up a watering can at the Rain Barrel 

A pleasant place for little folks to sit 

Happily-decorated bird houses

After leaving the Children's Garden, we found other places of interest.

 A Monarch Butterfly Way Station

 These plants are not native to Virginia or to the U.S. They perhaps come from Europe or Asia.

The shed with colorful birdhouses in the Vegetable Garden 

There is a Monarch butterfly somewhere in this photo. Can you find it? (I can't!)

Another inviting spot for little folks

What looks like a blue window frame is actually a swing for children.

(In the background on the left, you will catch a glimpse of the native plants of Virginia for sale.)


After roaming around outside in the gardens and inside in the Gift Shop for over an hour, we went to the Swiss Bakery for lunch. We both had Gruyere cheese sandwiches (see below).



Since we were in a bakery, we had to have a sweet dessert. The choice: the Bird's Nest. (See below)




Thank you, thank you, thank you, Janet, for introducing me to this oasis of tranquillity and beauty. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

An Early Fall Evening

Janet and I metroed into the District to attend an event at the Smithsonian, "T.S. Eliot: Daring to Disturb the Universe."


Before descending into the depths of the Ripley Center, we enjoyed our brown bag dinners above ground on a table in the beautiful garden between the two museums of African and Asian Art. Janet is pointing to the sign in the garden that indicates the temporary exhibit of "Plants in Pots." (I forgot to take photos of either the pots or the table.)

Then we went inside to a marvelous presentation by author Daniel Stashower, who explored the life and legacy of T.S. Eliot, and actor Scott Sedar, who gave dramatic readings of a selection of Eliot's poetry (including "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Waste Land").

Our friend Ginny arrived just in time for the beginning of the presentation.

Stashower began by talking about Eliot's friendship with Groucho Marx. I didn't know anything about this relationship! I also heard that, although he was very much an Anglophile, Eliot said that he was fortunate to have been born in St. Louis and this city (and especially its river) had shaped his character. The 20th century can be called "The Age of Eliot." Not only was Eliot the greatest poet, he was also the greatest literary critic of the century.

With the 3rd line of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' - "like a patient etherised upon a table" -
there was a seismic shift and this is where modern poetry began.

Stashower also talked about the great influence of Dante and Shakespeare on Eliot's work. I knew this and remembered Eliot saying, "Dante and Shakespeare divide the world. There is no third."

It was apparently his friend Ezra Pound who convinced him not to return to the US but to remain in England where he would have more success. "Old Possum" was Pound's name for Eliot and it was used in the title of Eliot's well-known poem. Pound's name was "Brer Rabbit." Both nicknames were taken from the Uncle Remus stories.

The ashes of Eliot were interred in East Coker with a plaque bearing two lines from one of his poems, "In my beginning is my end" and "in my end is my beginning."

After the presentation we stayed for the reception. Delicious cake was served. Ginny immediately went  for a big piece of scrumptious chocolate cake while Janet and I eagerly chose delicious pieces of white cake. None of us, however, partook of the sherry. We also had the opportunity to chat with Sedar about his recordings of Eliot's poetry. You can listen to him reading "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Hollow Men" on his website, http://sedarthestudio.com/actor/.


Ginny is trying to be silly!.She succeeds! 

(Unfortunately, it was a very windy day and it made my need for a haircut seem even more desperate.)

We were all very excited after this marvelous event. I have been a huge fan of Eliot ever since high school. One of the highlights of my life was seeing Eliot in person and  listening to him read from "The Four Quartets" on November 25, 1961 in New York City. Here is what I wrote in my copy of this book:

A dream come true! On Saturday evening, November 25, 1961, Judith Raymond and I heard T.S. Eliot read selections from his poetry. As a memory I bought this book which will always bring to mind this wonderful experience. Eliot's last selection was "Little Gidding" which, he said, "is perhaps the best thing I ever wrote."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Focus on Kim

It seems everyone is talking about the latest Ken Burns documentary. I was delighted when I received an invitation to a special event at the WETA Headquarters in Shirlington:  "Screening and discussion of the series The Vietnam War."

I was surprised and excited to see that my friend Kim O'Connell (daughter of my dear high school friend Denny) was going to be a participant in the event as a panel member.

Kim's father was American and her mother is Vietnamese. She has written a book about Little Saigon, which flourished in Arlington for a while after the War and then disappeared. It remains, however, an important part of local history.


                       Kim's book

As I was walking toward the WETA Headquarters, I was very surprised to see my friend Marie sitting in the window of a Vietnamese restaurant. Her after-lunch destination was also the WETA Headquarters!


In the photo above,  Marie and I are enjoying the refreshments provided prior to the event.

Kim talked about her American and Vietnamese heritage. Her father would have been very proud of her. The other two panelists were a man who had volunteered twice to go to Vietnam as a medic and the other a man who has written an important book about the war (sorry but I don't have the title right now).

The audience participation after the screening and panel discussion showed how our country is still divided about the War. Some members of the audience said the US did the right thing to go to Vietnam and others said it was a huge mistake. No surprise here but the comments were interesting. It was an intelligent audience as one would expect a group of PBS viewers to be!

 Lovely Kim sitting at Peet's

Afterwards, Kim and I deconstructed the event while drinking chai tea lattes. She will be appearing at additional events including a television special, "Vietnam in Washington." (For you locals it will be on Channel 26 at 8:30 pm, immediately after Washington Week, on Friday, September 29.)



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

DCDC Outing

The DCDC (aka DCEC) finally managed to get together for a cultural outing. The destination was the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Cedar Hill.



I had been wanting to visit this site for many years. I was very pleased to have finally made it! I  had read Douglass' Autobiography and found it amazing. What a remarkable man Douglass was!


We had a private tour of the house and were very impressed with the excellent guide. We learned quite a bit about Douglass that we had not known prior to our visit.

Left to right, Ginny, Mary, Jodi, and Synthia

                                                Left to right, Ginny, Mary, Jodi, and Christine


Here are the ladies walking up the hill toward the house after visiting Douglass' Growlery. (Mary in the white shirt, Jodi in the turquoise shirt, Synthia in white, and Ginny in black and white.)

For more information, go to http://www.frederick-douglass-heritage.org/cedar-hill-house/

After our visit to this interesting historical site, we went to the Hill for a Mexican lunch at Santa Rosa (315 Penn SE).