Wednesday, August 31, 2011

National Building and Gallery of Art (East Building)

Ed claims that I am perpetually running late...'scurrying around last minute before going anywhere'.  I generally, adamantly disagree with his 'analysis' of me, but currently I am not.  There is nothing like realizing that I am out of time here to motivate me to get out and finish my DC list. Today, I wanted to go to the National Building Museum, and both wings of the National Gallery of Art...but I ran out of time.  
I started out at the National Building Museum.  I initially was somewhat interested in seeing the temporary Lego Architecture exhibit, but then I saw that military and their family members had free admission from Memorial Day to Labor Day, I then decided that I just had to go. I am glad that I did because the actual building that it is housed in is beautiful!   Sometimes, I wish I would have studied architecture but then I remember how much math is required (math is a weakness of mine, and not in a good way like maybe chocolate would be)  I guess that means I will just have to be an admirer of architecture.  

The Pension Building-built after the Civil War to house the U.S. Pension Bureau.  If interested, you can read more here as I have put too much boring information for one post.
 Speaking of architecture, did you know that the man who designed the jumping of point for the beginning of the U.S. Capitol was a doctor who was also was an amateur architect. He was possibly self-taught but I am not sure that is correct now.   When the location had been determined for the new capital of the United States, a contest was printed in newspapers calling for design submissions for the capitol. Grand Prize for winning (aside from seeing your work come off the page and into real life): $500. This actually could have been quite a bit considering the man that did the actual writing of the Constitution only made $30. I said his design was the jumping off point because his plans called for a much smaller dome.  In the end there were quite a few designers that contributed to the completed building.  Alrightly, this is getting boring even for me so moving right along--guess this museum is educational :)

 Along with the Lego exhibit, they also were hosting a "Canstruction" exhibit.  Had I known, I would have brought along some of the cans that will not be used before we leave.

Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Water" house. Pretty Amazing...

Canstruction Apple

Next, I headed over to the the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.  I was quite drawn to all the food art since it was around lunchtime. 


Really Yum!  Or should I say Yum-O!  ahh Rachel Ray is so annoying!  

Will this mobile fit over a baby crib?
 I really enjoyed myself today!  I loved seeing all the amazing works of art that were inspiration for many-a-art -lesson while I worked for Abrakadoodle.  As it is now my tradition, another picture of me today.  I am back to self-photography..this time in the reflection of "Black Plank",  Yes, it was a high gloss black plank leaning against the wall.  (Not all that different from the infamous "Red Stick" that Ed found at MOMA for those of you that know the story :)

See how empty the museum is--my recommendation for a DC vacation is right after school starts in the fall.  It's great!

I forgot to mention that we are moving to a hotel on Thursday.  I am still going to try to check another site off my list tomorrow though. Hopefully the Jefferson Memorial, and maybe the new MLK memorial if I have the energy to march around the Tidal Basin.  We'll see!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Things to Do: National Portrait Gallery and then some...

Today, I finally got back to my list of 'things to do' in DC before we leave.  I was just reviewing my list and while I felt like I was being really productive today, I actually ended up only doing one thing on my list.  One!!  But I did see a few things that I had wanted to see, but didn't think to put on my list.  So here's how my day went:

yep, this picture is crooked.  I would like to know how you take a good picture of an amazing building...or a good picture at all!
 I started out at the National Archives this morning.  I believe that I am a genius (I had to use spell check for genius, so maybe I am not such a genius after all :) for waiting to see the archives until today.  I have walked by several other times but have decided against going in because I could always see the line of people waiting to go inside.  Not today though!  I walked right in and right up to see the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, Constitution and the Declaration of Independence all in about 15 minutes.  It was awesome! A few things of note from the Archives:  beautiful penmanship is non-existent now, all the documents were written on really large paper (why?), the Declaration of Independence is extremely faded much so that even John Hancock's giant signature is slipping away, and the man who wrote the actual Constitution was paid $30 dollars for his work (what is today's equivalent amount?)
I obviously did not take this picture..but note the fade...

My next stop was the National Portrait Gallery & the American Art Museum.  They share a building so I had the pleasure of seeing both over the course of 3 hours.  I did enjoy the portraits of the presidents and a few of the more well-known people from history but I ended up just skimming by quite a few in the end.  Three floors of nothing but faces...and reading hefty paragraphs to find out who they were is tiring!

Kogod Courtyard- free wi-fi apparently

The building used to be the U.S. patent is one Washington's oldest public buildings, being built only after the white house and capitol.  In 1865, Lincoln held his 2nd inaugural ball in this room.
It's not every day I get to see an Oscar in real-life..or ever come to think of it.  These were Katharine Hepburn's.

I love this...

Now this is something I see everyday. How'd you do it Norman Rockwell?

I met up with my friend Sara afterwards but she quickly abandoned me (j/k sara)  to go to a meeting she had forgotten about so I went into the National Aquarium.  Don't let 'national' fool you, this is not a free museum.  If someone were to ask if I would recommend it, I would definitely say no, no I would not.  It's not worth the $9.95.  Maybe I should have known it wasn't going to be good as it is in the basement of the commerce building--I guess they needed a little extra commerce going on to pay their bills. (heh heh, not funny? ok)  After reading the reviews a couple minutes ago, I would say that the only people that go into this aquarium are people that wander by and stumble in--like myself.  Had I read the reviews before going, I would have saved my $10 for half the entrance fee into the spy museum.  Only other thing of note about the aquarium is that I ran into a visiting Dane...I guess I definitely recognize danish when I hear it--just not all the specifics I am hearing :)
Most exciting activity of the day...

Purple Sea Urchin?  This actually may have been my favorite tank
Clearly the national aquarium is so dull that even this guy can't stand it and he lives here...
After that, I couldn't take anymore sightseeing in one day--until I spotted the Old Post Office.  This is another DC site that I have walked by many a time but never had taken the time to walk inside.  The 'pavillion' was nothing special--just generic Chinese, pizza, and kabob restaurants but the architecture is worth going in for a few minutes.  The trip to the tower is free so I walked into the oldest, glass elevator I have ever seen and prayed that there wouldn't be another earthquake during my 30 second ride.

Old Post Office

View from 9 floors up
towards half of the mall
Pennsylvania Ave
After today, that leaves the Jefferson Memorial, Spy Museum, Building Museum, National Cathedral, Zoo, & National Gallery of Art...I may be running out of time! 
And as if there were not enough pictures already, I will leave you with my favorite thing of the day, and a picture of me on this momentous day of sight-seeing.
Electronic Superhighway:Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii...after being in so many dark places in one day (archives, portrait gallery, & aquarium) I didn't want to leave this bright, fun piece of art.  All the states had tvs that depicted something well-known to that particular state.  Poor Idaho..every image was of potatoes.   This can be found on the 3rd floor of the American Art Museum.

Aww, another winning "stranger-taken" photo

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene and the Earthquake

Hi! I'm writing this from my 'cave' as Ed calls half of the air mattress.  Since my computer has to be plugged in to turn on, I am limited to the 6 foot area around the outlet for all of my online activities.  In the past few days, I have read Pride & Prejudice on my itouch,  then watched the 5-part mini series from 1980 on Netflix. I also read the FarmChicks Christmas book. On top of all of that, I have watched all of Samantha Who? and most of Drop Dead Diva over the past 3 weeks. By the end of the month, I will have filled my TV watching quota for an entire year.  I need to stop because I have had the worst headache the past 2 days which Ed attributes to watching tv on a computer I am switching to my blog. That's better right?   Maybe I should have updated it sooner as DC has been a happening place.

On Tuesday, Scout and I were on our 'midday walk' around the neighborhood when I experienced what I thought was the most intense case of vertigo ever.  One minute, I was watching Scout thoroughly inspect a tree, the next minute, I felt like I was going to fall.  When I looked up and saw the windows in the courthouse/jail violently shaking, I realized that it wasn't just me.  In the minutes following the quake,  people began streaming out of all the office and apartment buildings.  One guy ran up to me with wide, crazy eyes and asked if "i had felt that".  They thought their building was going to collapse.  I guess being in a building during an earthquake is scarier than standing on the ground next to a tree.   Thankfully, no one was injured, though the Washington Monument had cracks near the top and some spires were broken off the National Cathedral. 

that can't be good....
Now, Irene is on its way past the mid-Atlantic.  So far, we have just had rain and gusts of wind but nothing serious yet.  The most unfortunate thing for me is that I bought rain boots at the end of april and waited all summer for a good rain to arrive so that I could really use them.  Now, the rain is here and my boots are gone.   Scout has been able to use his new rain poncho though and he isn't as big of a fan of it as I am :)  Look how cute he is while wearing it!!  He's Little Red Riding Hood!  It also keeps him slightly dryer than if he had nothing at all on--though his legs and belly still get wet from the grass.  You can see the rain coat here if your interested :)  Now, if I could just get him to wear some rain boots......

big bad wolf?

His ears and face still got wet because the wind kept blowing the hood back.

Irene update:  since I didn't post this yesterday, I will add that the power flickered a few times in the middle of the night and a few trees were broken by the wind but that was all that happened in our immediate area