Archive for February, 2007

A day for art

Today I had a wonderful time at the National Gallery of Art. Roger has a colleague who, when he retired, became a docent at the National Gallery of Art and he offered to give me a private tour. The first wonderful thing is that he picked me up at the hotel – I didn’t have to look for a place to park at the metro station. The second wonderful thing is that we got there early, before the museum was open. Because our friend is a docent, he was able to take me in early and we had the chance to see some pieces before there were other people around. We took a quick 2.5 hour tour of both buildings. He normally does school tours, pre K through 12 but we had a great time looking at some of his favorite paintings and sculptures in the West building before he took me into the East building to look at the abstracts I had asked to see.

The reason I asked to see the abstracts is because I want to explore abstraction in my Journal Quilt piece for the Houston quilt show in November. I usually do very representational work but I want to try something different this time. I came away with many photographs and some great inspiration, as well as two interesting perspectives on creating abstract art. Sol LeWitt thought that the idea was the art and gave directions for his art to be executed by others. Sometimes the directions were explicit, sometimes more general. Here is Wall Drawing #65. “Lines not short, not straight, crossing and touching, drawn at random using four colors, uniformly dispersed with maximum density, covering the entire surface of the wall”. The work is done in colored pencil.
Wall Drawing #65 detailwall Drawing #65
Jasper Johns thought that the process involved in his paintings meant as much or more than the reference value of the painting itself. I was not allowed to photograph any of his works but there are plenty of examples on line. There’s a lot I don’t get about abstract art. Sometimes that’s just the point.

After the Gallery, I walked across the mall to the new Indian Museum. It is a beautiful building on the outside and very different on the inside. It is not arranged in a conventional manner by region or time line as one would expect. It is arranged instead using three major themes: beliefs, history, and contemporary life. Within each of these themes are small vingettes of specific tribes from all over the Americas. It was interesting, especially the first hand accounts and oral traditions, but a bit disconcerting to find your way the first time around.
Indian Museum
I managed to find my way back to the metro without incident and safely back to the hotel. The day was sunny and 50 degrees – a wonderful day to be out on the mall in Washington DC.

Adventures

I was all set to venture out on my own today. After dropping Roger off at the office, I headed out in the car to the metro station at Shady Grove. After circling the garage and lot choices twice and backing out of one garage access because I didn’t have the exit card they said I needed, I ventured in to a garage anyway, deciding I’d figure out the exit card thing later. Could I find a parking place anywhere? Nope. Fortunately, the exit gates were up and I could get out without the infamous card. But some frustrated tears later, I ended up back at Roger’s office so he could take me to the Kiss and Ride drop-off at said metro stop and I could get the train without having to park the car. Yikes! I never thought it would be so hard.

My destination was the Textile Museum and their special exhibit “Red”. It was small but very interesting, showing a wide variety of textiles using many different sources of red dyes. From there I headed to the National Zoo for the rest of the afternoon. It’s a great bargain – free – and a beautiful zoo. Here’s a sampling of what I saw: the new baby panda, bright salmon-colored flamingos dozing in the sun, the hippo eating lunch, and a beautiful merganser which was in the Mexican wolf enclosure.
baby pandaflamingos
hippomerganser
I got to see most of the animals before heading back to the metro for my ride back to the hotel. It was a good day in spite of the iffy beginning.

More snow

Who would have thought that we would travel to Maryland and have snow? Really beautiful snow? It snowed about 4 inches and then turned to freezing rain. By late afternoon the trees were covered with sticky wet snow and sealed with ice. It was so beautiful that I took a few photos.
sticky snowsnow covered trees

We passed the day with a tour of the local shops. In the Barnes and Nobel bookstore one of the clerks asked me why I was out and about on such a bad weather day. Clearly she was wishing she didn’t have to be at work. She hadn’t considered that we might be staying at the hotel down the street and that we were out without our car. I thanked her for coming into work so that we could enjoy the store. We purchased several titles.

We also went to see a movie: “Amazing Grace”. It was excellent and I highly recommend it. It is the story of William Wilberforce and his fight against slavery in Britain.

Today was a trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore with our dear friend Mary. What a great day we had! Since I was there the last time, they’ve added a new Australian exhibit complete with birds, fish and reptiles – and fruit bats. Too bad they were hanging from the high ceiling and too far away to get a really good look. There was also a great exhibit of frogs. These were hard to photograph because of very low light levels, but here are a few of the ones I held still enough for so you won’t get dizzy.
tree frogfrog
poison dart frog 2poison dart frog 1
Can you tell I really like frogs? Of course, it was wonderful to see all the regular animals and fish and to enjoy the rain forest. We watched the divers feed the rays and a worker try to get the octopus to eat. What a marvel of diversity we saw. What a creative God we have.

Maryland

We’ve been in Maryland of late. Roger has business and I got to come along for the ride. It’s been great fun catching up with friends we got to know when we lived here. Yesterday I spent the day with our good friend Julia Landrum, catching up while watching birds at her window feeder. There were so many different species feeding, a far cry from the few I get in Vermont. We saw mourning doves, red-winged blackbirds, starlings, cardinals, chickadees, juncos, house finches, a nuthatch, a red-bellied woodpecker, a mocking bird and a carolina wren. The wren was a real treat, especially to see it up close and personal like that.

Today we had a visit from Cindy Turner. She came to our hotel where we caught up over coffee and lunch. She had some fabric shopping to do so Roger decided to sit that out and she and I went to G Street Fabrics and JoAnn’s. Yep, I spent money but it was all 25% off. What a deal.

While driving around, it is hard to recognize much. There has been so much development since we left 14 years ago. Some of the street names sound familiar, though I can’t really remember how they connect without looking at the map. Our old stomping ground of Damascus still looks the same though there are new shopping centers that have popped up where fields used to be. On my way out yesterday I took a photo of the Maryland farmscape that I loved so much when we were here. I love the rolling hills and farm fields, the barns and livestock with the mountains in the distance.
MD farmland

Highlight of the day

While driving through Katonah, NY on I684 we saw a large bird soaring overhead. Usually it turns out to be a large hawk or a Turkey Vulture. This time the white tail and white head gave it away as a Bald Eagle. There are places in CT where I know to go to see them, though I never have. What a treat to see one without looking for it. I was unable to photograph it but seeing it made my day. Ususally on this stretch of road I look for swans in the river. Now I’ll look for eagles too.

Maisie

A new sock creature has been born. True to her word, our daughter found cute little baby socks and true to my word, I made her a creature from them. The new little one’s name is Maisie and she makes me smile. The little arms are sewn by hand but the rest I managed with the machine. She has gone to live in the lovely coastal town of Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA.
Maisie

Snow fun

Ellen and Doug came for the weekend.They came to work on their taxes but I think it was a nice diversion that there was snow on the ground to play in. I was pleased they came and pleased they wanted to go out to play – sledding by yourself isn’t very much fun. It was snowing lightly while we were out there riding down our hill toward the street. After the first two runs it was a pretty decent ride. The only downside was the bumps at the bottom and the mound made by the plow that made for an interesting final thud into the street. But we had great fun.
sledding 1sledding 3
Snow bunnies
sledding 4sledding 2
the ride down and at the bottom


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