Tag Archives: photography

National Gallery of Art and National Portrait Gallery

I’m working my way through my posts about our trip to Washington, D.C.  I did a sum-up of nearly everything we did and another post about the great food that we had,  one political cartoon exhibit , so this time I want to highlight the art that we saw and experienced.

I had been to the National Gallery of Art before but never the east building.  This trip I saw both and what a treat that was!  My first visit was our second day in town.  We had just had a little lunch at the Pavilion Cafe then walked through the sculpture garden en route to the 7th Street entrance of the west building.  As I said in previous posts, the heat was just awful so we ducked into the west building on our way to the east building to avoid said heat. I had read there was a path between the two buildings.  We just followed the signs and voila!  A darkly painted tunnel with lights everywhere made us feel like we were on a ride at Disneyland.

We made it all the way to the east building in that nice, cool air conditioning.  The museum is unique due to its airy and bright atrium in the center.  There are pieces of art along the outer walls as well as hanging from the ceiling in the atrium.  It’s quite calming walking around and visiting the art galleries.  We saw Picasso, Braque, Stieglitz, O’Keeffe and Matisse, to name a handful.  We saw others too but I’m not remembering them now.  At the end we happened upon a piece that contained a mirror so I had hubby stand in front of it while I took that photo.

This first gallery shows some sculptures in the Sculpture Garden and some of my favorites from the East Building:

We visited the National Portrait Gallery with my sister and nephew.  Even after living in the area for a couple of years and my many trips to visit my sister and mother, I had never been to the Portrait Gallery.  When I saw photos and read about the Obamas’ portraits, I knew I had to see them in person so I included this museum on my list of “must sees”. It definitely exceeded my expectations!  The Portrait Gallery has four floors but we only had time for the second and third floors.  We also went to the gift shop on the first floor because you have to visit the gift shop!  Okay **I** have to visit gift shops.

The presidential portraits are on the second floor so we started there.  The portraits are laid out in numerical order in an open floor plan and you weave your way around to see them all.  There were other paintings beyond this area but since we had lunch reservations and I wanted to see Michelle Obama’s portrait, we headed up to the third floor where her portrait resides.  There are many other galleries on both the second and third floors that we didn’t have time to see so I’m hoping to back again.

I am not sure what the theme is or how the artworks on the third floor are chosen, but it was yet another display of fascinating portraits of many important people in American history.  This next gallery contains artworks that I was particularly fond of in the Portrait Gallery.

My last group of photos contains most of my favorites from the West Building of the National Gallery of Art. I have visited this museum many times and it’s one of my favorite art museums.  I never tire of going there to view all my favorites.  This time I went by myself as it was our last day in D.C. and hubby wanted to see the Library of Congress. So we split up and I took my time both viewing the paintings and sculptures that I like as well as spending time in the extensive gift shop.  I think this gift shop might be my favorite museum gift shop.  There are so many things to look at!

But first a little story of when I first entered the building.  I stopped at the information desk to get a map so that I could find all of my favorites.  A nice woman greeted me and asked if I needed help finding anything.  When I said no, she made the most interesting comment:  “you have of course been to the east building.”  This stunned me since I had only just visited the east building a few days ago so I asked her how she knew that.  “You just look like the type of person who visits the east building.” So I told her how I was intent on seeing the east building on this trip and that I just went there for the first time and absolutely loved it.  She agreed and we had a lovely encounter.

On to the last gallery for this post: some of my favorites from the West Building of the National Gallery of Art.

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Minnesota State Fair 2018

We never miss the fair and this year we went three times.  We always go opening day and this year’s crowd was dizzying.  Sure enough, it broke the record for opening day attendance.  I met hubby and Miss M mid morning as I had to work a few hours that morning and I knew the moment I entered the fair that it would be a big crowd, it already felt that way.

I went right into the grandstand to peruse their wares until I heard when to meet hubby and Miss M.  Right off the bat I found a fair shirt.  The state fair gift shop in the grandstand moved making it more centrally located and it pulled me right in. I bought the shirt on our way out that afternoon.  I also found some great Christmas gift items so I was feeling fairly accomplished!

I met my family near the sky ride outside the Agriculture Building.  I always go into the Ag Building.  I love the flower rooms, the crop art, the scarecrows, U of MN apples, the biggest gourds.  So much to see in the Ag Building! There was a long line for the crop art and it was that way with each of our visits this year.  I did wait in the line on opening day when we went back later.  You don ‘t have to wait in line, but if you want a front row spot to take photos, it works better to wait in line.

We got our buttons at the Admin building, we do that every year too.  They’re free and it’s fun to see the new design every year.  This year it’s a circle of guitars and the wording is Minnesota’s largest music festival.  I never thought of it that way but I can see it now.  Lots of music entertainment options for sure!  From the various free stages all around the fair or the grandstand show, there is something for everyone musically speaking at the fair.

We always tour the art in the art building and there were lots of gems in there again this year.  I usually get a malt from the Kiwanis club next to the art building but Miss M wanted to get one at the dairy building to see her friend who was going to be working there at 3:00.  Well, we could barely breathe with the wall to wall people at the fair that day so we decided to just get the malt earlier than 3:00 at the dairy building.  That turned out to be so fun!! Miss M saw one of her buddies working and he erupted with happiness after she handed him the ticket for the malt and he realized it was her.  It was adorable.

We left shortly after the malt, it was well past time to go.  It was fun but our next visit was even better in terms of a much more subdued crowd.  I met hubby from work the following Thursday afternoon.  As soon as I arrived it also felt different.  It was much calmer with a lot less people.  And the weather was perfect too.  We had so much fun finding things to buy.  We like to visit the international bazaar to check out the music and do some shopping.  Hubby found a new Day of the Dead shirt, I got a new mug both from El Burrito Mercado, a Mexican imports shops.  Hubby found a new silver pinky ring and we got Miss M maple syrup made by Native Americans.  It was a fun shopping year this year!! I don’t usually find that much to buy but this year was different.

We decided to go back a third time this year just because and hubby wanted to see the newspaper museum again. We live 5 miles away and there are many free park and ride buses to the fair that make it easy for us to get there.  We thought there might be less people on Sunday vs. Saturday and we opted for the bus this time, to go in a different gate than when we use my U of MN parking spot.  We were right about there being fewer people but wrong about the weather.  Oh it worked out alright but it wasn’t ideal.  No matter, we still had fun. We hadn’t yet ridden the skyride, something else we usually do, because those lines were too long in previous visits.  But not on our final visit.  Because it was raining, there was virtually no line at the skyride.  Score!!! We did get a little wet but it was better than walking to the grandstand for one last shopping spree.  And I can add riding the skyride in the rain to my list of things I had not done before.

We didn’t find anything at the grandstand but I took the opportunity to finally try a roasted corn on the cob. I’ve been going to this fair since 1992 and I’ve never had a corn. This last trip to the fair the timing was perfect.  And it was excellent and so juicy!!  We got back on the skyride since we’d be leaving from the front gates and went back into the Ag building to see if the flower rooms were open yet. They were both closed temporarily for judging as soon as they opened the building so we had to come back. And we only got to see one room since the other was still closed for judging. I did get to see the room at a distance and the dahlias in the other room were just gorgeous!

I feel so fortunate to be able to go to the great Minnesota get together every year.  I think we’ll go three times next year too.  Why not?

Following are some galleries of fair memorabilia that I hope you will enjoy. First up is a combination of all our visits to the Agriculture Building:

Next is a gallery of our visit to the newspaper museum and the art building:

The remaining gallery are photos of other things at the fair:

 

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Eating our way through Washington, D.C.

You may have noticed that I recently visited Washington, D.C.  I’ve mentioned some great meals that we experienced so now I want to go into a little more detail and share some photos of most of our meals.  I think you’ll like it :)

I had been perusing the various restaurants near our hotel in the weeks before we departed for D.C. to find a good spot for dinner our first night and there were several to choose from!  That is one reason I chose the Washington Plaza hotel for our stay.  For that first night I chose Estadio because it was within walking distance of our hotel and because it’s a Spanish tapas place. It also gets great ratings on TripAdvisor and is currently #38 of 2,703 restaurants listed on TripAdvisor for the D.C. area. The food was very good even if it was a bit spendy for what you get.  I was a bit disappointed in the tortilla de patatas or as I prefer, tortilla española.  Oh, it was good, but I was expecting the same tortilla española that you get in Spain.  Estadio puts their own stamp on it and they really don’t have to.  It was good, it just wasn’t what I wanted. We also got their jamón variety platter, boquerones, manchego cheese and olives all of which are pictured in the following gallery. The bread that accompanied several dishes was very fresh and quite delicious. There were little slices of sweet breads that came with the cheese, also very yummy. We also ordered shrimp and that was really too much for us. Probably should have skipped the shrimp but it was very tasty!  We took the rest of the ham and manchego as well as the olives back to our hotel’s mini fridge. And that package served as snacks for the next several days.

Another reason I chose our hotel was because it gave me the option to include breakfast with our room.  I did that and I’m so glad!!  The breakfast buffet at the Washington Plaza hotel is one of the best American breakfast buffets I think I’ve ever had.  They had everything you could possibly want for breakfast and that is one of my criteria.  They had an egg station and I chose that every day. I got an egg either over easy with fried veggies or scrambled with veggies. Their hot food choices were great too.  Green beans for breakfast?  Why not?!?! And they were delicious! Most mornings they had roasted potatoes, our last morning the spuds were still good, I just preferred the roasted spuds. One morning there were roasted tomatoes instead of the green beans and those were quite good too!  Photos of the hotel’s breakfast bar and my plates  from two different mornings:

We had some great lunches too, mostly sit down places and one cafe, the Pavilion Cafe located on the mall next to the National Gallery of Art. The food’s pretty good and I just like being amongst the sculptures.  I also ate at one of the newest Cava restaurants and that too was great! It’s similar to the Naf Naf Grill that we have in the twin cities area. Both use the same format as Chipotle where you build a meal. I usually get a salad bowl with hummus and other toppings.   Cava has way more choices than Naf Naf as well as some great tasting teas.

I looked around the area of the Portrait Gallery for a place all four of us (hubby, me, my sister and nephew) would like for lunch and I scored with Zaytinya! Oh my, this place was fabulous!  Truly, if you’re in the area, do check them out. It’s one of the many restaurants run by José Andrés and now I’ve been to three of them.  Each as great as the next.  Zaytinya is billed as serving Greek, Turkish and Lebanese food.  Everything we ordered was so tasty.  I wrote a review for Tripadvisor so feel free to check that out if you like.

We also randomly chose the Chop House Brewery for lunch on our last day.  We visited the National Archives just before lunch so we wandered up 7th Street and checked out what looked like many great spots and then chose the Chop House.  We were greeted warmly and seated immediately.  With our drinks came this warm cornbread in a small skillet and we didn’t eat it all.  My lunch was perfect and hit the spot.  Hubby enjoyed what he had too.

We had two very good dinners in the neighborhood of our hotel.  Hubby discovered P.J. Clarke’s  after exiting the wrong side of our metro station.  He realized his error when he didn’t recognize his surroundings but P.J. Clarke’s caught his eye that day and he stopped in for refreshment.  When he saw that they had an oyster bar happy hour, he knew he wanted to come back. That’s where we dined our third night and again, great food, friendly staff and perfect ambiance. He had his oysters at the bar then we moved to the patio for dinner. It was a perfect night to eat on the patio.  I even indulged in dessert.  A fantastic and rich dessert to end our repast.  Yum, yum!!   I wrote a review on Tripadvisor for P.J. Clarke’s.  Check it out if you’re so inclined.

Our last dinner choice was a bit of a struggle. We were both so tired of walking by our last night so we opted to choose something that was no farther than 5-10 minutes, preferably on the 5 minute side.  I know you’re going to find this shocking but again, we scored!! We chose The Pig of course for the location but it gets great reviews and I can see why. We got there just before the dinner rush and it was nice to have a bit of quiet after our many days of touring the city. Friendly staff once again,  great locally sourced food and most meals contain something pig-related.  One different thing that The Pig does is they offer 3 different sizes of wine glass.  I had never heard of that before but I chose the middle size and it was perfect.

I’m amazed that we had such great experiences with just about all of our meals.  It really helps to do research ahead of time.  I typically look at TripAdvisor reviews when seeking places to eat.  You’ll always get a mix of reviews but I try to choose restaurants based on the majority of reviews and so far, that has worked very well.  I would recommend each of the places that I talk about here.  D.C. certainly has no shortage of great restaurants to choose from!

 

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Washington, D.C. revisited

I have been to Washington, D.C. many times. So many that I have lost count.  My first time was in 1973 and the last time was just a few weeks ago.  This trip was unusual for a couple of reasons. One, it was the first vacation that I have taken with just my husband since 2011 when we went to Spain for our 20th anniversary.

While our daughter was in New York learning more about making music with her viola, we took a trip to D.C.  just the two of us.  We succeeded with our intention to not rush anything on this trip.  We had a rough plan of what we wanted to do and naturally that plan changed a little bit.  But that’s okay since nothing ever goes according to plan completely. We adjusted as needed and it worked fine.  The other reason this trip was unusual is that we stayed right in D.C. I have never done that before and it was just great!  We were close to a metro station and used that and walked and even took a couple of cab rides to get around.  And oh, did we walk!!

I’m writing this post in response to my friend Cathy’s Prose invitation so it’s going to be just a rough synopsis of what we did, a few photos of what we saw and the main focus of our plan to not be rushed.  I also plan to create more detailed posts on everything we did.  I hope you’ll come back to check those out!

Our first day started out as planned, however, it was so oppressively hot that day that we changed it up quite a lot. Our first stop was Arlington Cemetery.  Hubby did not want to do a tour so we wandered around on foot and found the things we wanted to see: all the Kennedy family graves and the tomb of the unknown soldiers from the Civil War. We actually had trouble finding this tomb so we asked a park ranger who was stationed outside of what used to be Robert E. Lee’s house, Arlington House. He pointed out that the graves along the perimeter of the house were there specifically to anger General Lee and to make his once grand mansion uninhabitable.

Our intention to walk across the Memorial Bridge to see the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial was interrupted by the aforementioned oppressive heat. Instead we got back on the metro for a different plan. We got off at George Washington University and there waiting for us as we exited was a restaurant with a bar for us to take refreshment and gather our strength for the 15 or so minute walk to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Our original plan was to take our time strolling the mall, eat lunch then end at the National Gallery of Art East Building. Instead we got a cab to take us the nearly two miles to our lunch destination.  And our timing was perfect as we got there before the lunch crowd, had a nice table in the cool Pavilion Cafe next to the window so that we could see some of the National Sculpture Garden.  We viewed some sculptures on our way to the National Gallery of Art’s West Building but our destination was the East Building. I knew there was a pathway underneath between the two buildings but I had no idea that pathway would feel like a ride at Disneyland.

I had never been to the East Building of the National Gallery of Art and we both absolutely loved it. From the bright and airy atrium containing a famous mobile to the rooms emanating from that central atrium, it made for a pleasant visit to see wonderful pieces of art.  We saw Picasso, Braque, Stieglitz, O’Keeffe and Matisse, to name a handful.

Following is a small gallery of some photos from our first day in D.C. that I hope you will enjoy.

Our second day we spent apart as part of the reason for the trip was for my sister and I to go through our mother’s photos and somehow divvy them up between us.  We had taken the metro to Virginia after our first day of touring D.C. to my sister’s 60th birthday party. I spent the night at my sister’s while hubby went back to the hotel and spent the next day touring the Holocaust and Air and Space museums.  I met him back at the hotel that evening and we had a fine meal at P.J. Clarke’s near our hotel.

Moving on to our third day.  I met my sister and nephew at the Metro Center metro stop and the three of us had a grand time shopping the Nordstrom Rack, Zara and H&M.  We stopped at Peet’s coffee shop for refreshment before heading back out into the heat to meet hubby at the National Portrait Gallery. On our way was Ford’s Theatre where Lincoln was shot so we stopped briefly in there to see what we could see.  We discovered that the museum is free but that you need a timed entry ticket to view the theatre.  We didn’t have time for that but my sister took a brochure because she wanted to come back another time.

I had never been to the National Portrait Gallery and since reading about and viewing the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama online, I made it a point to get there this trip to see them in person.  I had no idea the treasures within the walls of this museum!  Wow, wow and more wow! And we just barely scratched the surface so I would like to go back again.

All of the presidential portraits are worth the time, but two portraits moved me to tears which was very unexpected. I had seen photos online of Barack Obama’s portrait but seeing it in person overwhelmed me.  His portrait is cordoned off as it is very popular and people wait in line to have time to view and take photos.  It is enormous and Obama is a bit bigger than lifelike with a serious look on his face. It felt like he was staring right at me.  I felt a wave of emotions as I stared back at him, from gratefulness for his presidency to sadness that he is no longer leading our nation. He is truly one of our greatest presidents and I’m happy his portrait has great prominence in our National Portrait Gallery.

The other portrait that moved me to tears was of Thurgood Marshall.  He played a major role in the 1940s and 1950s as a leader in the struggle to end racial discrimination in the United States(these words copied from the information next to his portrait).  I have always admired him so it was overwhelming to see his bigger than life portrait looking right at me.  The museum not only houses portraits of all our presidents but other fine artwork as well and I selected just a few of the photos that I took that day to display here.

Afterwards we had a fabulous lunch at Zaytinya then my sister, nephew and I headed off to the United States Botanic Garden.  I had been there only very briefly before so I knew I wanted to go back and my sister and nephew were game for it as well while hubby went off and did his own thing that afternoon.  I still don’t feel like I saw everything. Did I mention the oppressive heat during our entire D.C. trip? It extended to inside the Botanic Garden as well. There are climate controlled rooms but since it’s all under glass, some of the rooms were a bit stifling. Luckily we were able to escape to air conditioning periodically.  As we left we walked past an outdoor garden that is also part of the U.S. Botanic Gardens.  We were too hot and too tired to venture over there so I will have to go back again!

Our last day in D.C. started with an exhibit of political cartoons at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University .  Since I had already created a post of this, I will link it here rather than talk briefly about it in this post.  But I will say what a great exhibit it was and how necessary a free press is to the survival of democracy.  Here is one of the cartoons from the exhibit:

After the cartoons exhibit we were going to get a cab to the National Archives but the clouds rolled in and suddenly that oppressive heat didn’t feel quite as oppressive.  So we walked…….and walked…….and walked.  Uh, it was a little farther than I thought it would be and we were thankful to be in the air conditioning once again at the National Archives.  More wow!  We checked out one of the four surviving copies of the 1297 Magna Carta and some of the history of our nation on the first floor before heading upstairs to view the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  These original documents are all in glass cases in a darkened room to protect them so that future generations of Americans can view them.  It was truly awe inspiring to see our rights as originally written all those years ago.  I recommend this to every U.S. citizen.

Hubby and I wandered up 7th Street to find lunch.  We stopped into Oyamel where I actually dined with Cathy on a previous visit, but the wait was too long so we moved on.  We ended up at the Chop House Brewery and had another delicious meal.  I also highly recommend this restaurant that has great food and ambiance.

Once again we split up as I wanted to go to the West building of the National Gallery of Art and hubby needed to see more of the Library of Congress.  Years ago he travelled with me to D.C. where I was attending a conference for work. During that trip he stopped into the Library of Congress but only had about 10 minutes so that was one on his “to do” list for this trip and he enjoyed his extended visit this time.  I found all my favorites in the National Gallery of Art and I was able to take my time in the gift shop, something I love to do but I sometimes feel rushed when I’m with others. I found some treasures, purchased them and headed back to the hotel once again.

It was such a fabulous trip this time.  It was nice to be able to take our time and see the things we wanted to see.  I think we would have seen more if it wasn’t so awfully hot.  Every day we were there it was over 90 degrees but the worst of it was that morning at Arlington as we only had little bits of shade to rest under to barely escape the heat.  One key to our successful trip was that we decided we would not be rushed.  I only felt a little rushed at the Portrait Gallery. I could have lingered in there a bit longer but we had lunch reservations.  But by the time we sat down at Zaytinya, it was time to rest and take nourishment.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini tour of our most recent trip to Washington, D.C.  Please come back again for more detailed posts and more photos of our trip. Coming soon!!

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Spiked, The Unpublished Political Cartoons of Rob Rogers

Greetings Blogosphere!! I just returned from a five day vacation with the hubby in Washington D.C. and I’m going to be sharing the things we did as well as photos.  I’m not going in order, rather I’ll be jumping around, and I’m starting with a political cartoon exhibit that we saw on our last day in D.C.

Rob Rogers is an award winning cartoonist who was fired by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after his 25 year career as their editorial cartoonist and after the editorial page was taken over by a pro-chump Republican.  He didn’t like the tone of Rogers’ cartoons and ultimately he was fired because his cartoons were critical of the so-called president.  The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University stepped up and decided to exhibit the cartoons that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette refused to publish:  The 18 works will be in the Atrium Galleries at the Flagg Building till October, when they will join a larger show set to open this autumn at the University of Pittsburgh.

When I learned of this exhibit, I jotted down the address and the opening hours so that hubby and I could view it while in D.C. this past week.  It was so worth it!!  I didn’t take photos of all of the cartoons but I’m hoping it piques the interest of anyone who lives in the area as well as others who might be on vacation in D.C. like we were.

We arrived shortly after it opened at 10:00 and we had the place to ourselves.  That was an added bonus as every other museum we visited in D.C. was full of people.  I’m glad people are interested in D.C.’s museums but it’s such a treat to be able to take our time and look at everything in this exhibit at our leisure and without obstruction.

The exhibit begins with a foreword from Sanjit Sethi, the Director of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at GWU and I typed it out rather than display the photo:

The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design is dedicated to educating the next generation of cultural leaders.  One important part of that mission is to support creative practices that critique the world around us – including our leaders and our government.  With this in mind, we are pleased to be able to exhibit Spiked, The Unpublished Political Cartoons of Rob Rogers.

Artists have always been at the forefront of cultural and institutional critiques.  They produce work that is intended to make us think, that can sometimes make us feel uncomfortable and that provides searing commentary on the way the world operates.  For institutions like the Corcoran, remaining silent in the face of censorship of creative practices is not an option for our community, as it only condones the increasingly insidious and repressive measure we see being enacted on those who voice criticism or dissent.

Rob Rogers is a skilled practitioner who has a remarkable ability to provide the viewer social commentary through the lens of his timely and piercing illustrations. By showing his original work alongside his process sketches and his larger, color-saturated, digitized work, we have the ability to see more than his unpublished cartoons – we can gain keen insight into his practice.  We can more clearly understand that these works are the result of decades of persistent practice.  This work gives our community deep insight into creative methodologies of how to critique power, and it becomes a powerful point of departure for the people of this community to speak with each other about issues involving censorship, freedom of the press and artistic expression, journalistic and creative integrity, and the consequences to a democracy of hypernationalism.

It is clear that Rogers exemplifies the idea of “American genius” that the Corcoran was founded on.  He provides us with the ability to witness that powerful intersection between creativity, social critique, satire, humor and our darkest selves.  Spiked underlines a fundamental belief that our institution’s purpose is to cultivate creativity, provide insight and demonstrate the urgent need to critique and change systems around us.

Following are a handful of the unpublished cartoons from the exhibit:

Rob created a step by step guide in 2016 on what it takes to create an editorial cartoon and that is also on display.  It’s fascinating as well as comical. I first took a photo of the entire strip but then realized that I wanted to be able to read it so I broke it down into segments:

I should have taken another photo of the bottom three that shows the progression of this particular cartoon. The final cartoon is labeled “Trumpzilla” and the caption reads: “My small hands don’t seem to be slowing me down at all!!”

The exhibit ends with this very fitting cartoon:

From this link I learned that the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design will be hosting a series of conversations regarding issues around censorship, freedom of the press, journalistic integrity and the consequences of nationalism to a democracy in collaboration with both the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) and GW’s School for Media and Public Affairs (SMPA).  If I lived in the area I’d be checking out some of these discussions.

The exhibition is open to the public until October 14, 2018, Tues-Fri, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. & Weekends, 1 – 6 p.m. (except it’s not open August 11 or August 12, 2018). The Atrium Galleries at Flagg Building; Corcoran School of the Arts & Design, 500 17th Street NW.  Do go if you can.  I highly recommend it!!

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RIP Eddie – Best. Cat. Ever.

Eddie started life as we knew it in 2004 as M&M. The humane society gives names to all the cats and dogs available for adoption and so M&M was on the label of Eddie’s cage. I thought this was a strange name for a cat so he became Eddie to us after we brought him home. He was about 6-7 months old towards the end of 2004 and he was Miss M’s birthday present that year.

Eddie was such a docile and friendly sort. So much so, several neighbors really took a liking to him. He’d go to several houses in the neighborhood to visit all of his friends. One very amusing story happened just this past Christmas. It was another one of those bitter cold days that we get here in the frozen tundra of Minnesota but if the sun was shining, Eddie had to go outside. We thought that since it was so cold he’d be back soon. Hours went by and about 3:00 the doorbell rang. It was one of Eddie’s many friends in the neighborhood coming to deliver him back to us. She told us that he has a favorite spot in their house when the sun is shining. He had done this before where he’d disappear for hours and hours so now we felt better that he wasn’t stuck outside in the cold somewhere. He was being well taken care of down the street so we found out on Christmas day!

Eddie started losing weight just over two years ago. We had bloodwork done and our vet at the time suggested an ultrasound. The ultrasound was inconclusive but the bloodwork showed that his liver numbers were way out of whack. A biopsy of the liver was suggested but since Ed was already 12 at the time, I did not want to put him through any invasive tests. We gave him several different medications over the last two plus years but he continued to lose weight. We aren’t sure exactly what happened at the end. Either the liver issues finally got him or his heart gave out.

Throughout the last two plus years of tests and drugs Eddie kept his pleasant demeanor intact. He didn’t argue about the pills I had to shove down his throat carefully placed at the back of his throat so that he wouldn’t spit them out. He did argue about being brought to the vet but what cat doesn’t do that? He never acted sickly, he was just the same old Eddie he’d always been. He was just very thin.

We’ve always had two cats. When one would die, we’d go get another so there would always be two. But we are hoping to retire to southern Spain in about two years. The original plan was to take Fritz with us. We got Fritz as a kitten in 2010 shortly after our cat Clyde passed away. But poor little 6 year old Fritz met a horrible end to his life in 2016. We figured that Eddie probably wouldn’t be around in 2020 but we didn’t figure on Fritz dying so young :(

So, here we are catless for the first time since 1989 and it’s very odd. Miss M thinks we should get another cat, that the house needs a cat. She thinks that since we were planning on taking Fritz on our journey to Spain that we could take another cat. But honestly, the trip is going to be hard enough. I’m not sure I want to make it harder by taking a cat along. Someone in a diary of another blog that I follow suggested fostering. That does seem like a good option and I’m going to look into that, just not right now. Perhaps this summer or in the fall after Miss M starts college. I might need to nurse my empty nest syndrome by then. And a new cat, or cats, in the house might be just the thing.

Eddie made history by becoming our first pet to make it past 12 years of age. We didn’t know the exact date of his birth so we had picked March 1 to celebrate his birthday. And since he was just two weeks shy of being 14 on March 1 I decided that he was in fact 14 when he died last month.

Rest in peace old boy. You were the best cat ever. Thank you for nearly 14 years of fun.

Eddie boy, Fred Fred, Edward Bear, Edward, Ed E. Boy — some of the nicknames we gave him over the years.

I hope you will enjoy this gallery of my handsome cat Eddie.

 

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A visit to southern Florida

Florida is not my number one destination but I was there the first week of January for my mother’s burial.  She died in December and my sister, our sister-in-law and I traveled to Hollywood, FL to bury her beside her husband of 21 years(my stepfather).  The weather was not the best due to the “bomb cyclone” that was heading up the east coast. But it was still better than remaining in the frozen tundra where we were experiencing a deep freeze with temps below zero.  It was nice to get a break from that!  It was raining the day we got there and the day of the graveside burial it was very windy.  We were grateful that the funeral home offered to us to have our service inside.  Mom was 94 and had dementia for many years, I think it started in 2010.  She had a great fall the day before Thanksgiving and never recovered. While I am sad that she’s gone, I am grateful that she is no longer in pain. We’re having a memorial for her in Clifton, VA where my mother lived with my sister for the past nearly 3 years.  I will be writing something to say for the memorial and I’ll post that here when it’s done.

I decided to extend my trip to southern Florida to visit with my good friend Bev, who I have known since 10th grade. She lives in Boca Raton. We met in band, we both play the flute and by 12th grade we shared first chair because our director couldn’t decide who was better. We have kept in touch and have had a few chances to see each other over the years.  The last time was when she and her older daughter came to St. Paul to see a play.  We met them for dinner one night just over five years ago.  I needed a break from the frozen tundra and lucky for me Bev was in town!

Bev and I have many things in common, one of which is that we’re both very organized.  Before I arrived she had given me ideas of things to do while I was there but I had no idea she was going to create an agenda for us.  When she showed me to my room, there on the bed was our agenda with a big “Welcome to Florida!” on top.  It was so cute! And she did say we didn’t have to do everything as planned.  She made me breakfast every day and she had picked out a few places of interest for us to visit and all were loosely scheduled.  I switched two of them because of the weather and it all worked out great!  We had so much fun visiting the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.  We went shopping in Del Rey Beach and had a nice lunch too. I of course took photos so I hope you will enjoy a photo display of these three great places to visit in southern Florida.

We went to Gumbo Limbo Nature Center first and it was a chilly day so we didn’t see everything there.  We looked at and admired the beautiful fish in their outdoor tanks, peeked into the research area and checked out their gift shop.  It’s too bad it was too chilly or we’d have taken a walk on their boardwalk and checked out the many varieties of plants and animals. I did enjoy the fish tanks and Bev was particularly fond of the parrotfish whose excrement supplies a large percentage of the sand on the beaches of southern Florida. Bev brings everyone who visits her to Gumbo Limbo and she knows so much about it that I suggested she volunteer there. It seems like a win/win to me.

The next day we visited Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. This was the one place I absolutely had to see.  As most people know, I love flowers and the chance to visit a tropical botanic garden while I was in southern Florida was a chance I did not want to miss. It was my favorite of the three places we visited.  I enjoyed all three places for different reasons.  I loved learning about the turtle rehabilitation and research going on at Gumbo Limbo.  And visiting it with Bev, I learned so much that I never knew! But it doesn’t compare to Fairchild.  Wow! It’s near Miami so it was at least an hour from Boca Raton and you get to drive through some gorgeous neighborhoods.  More wow.  And this was our best weather day so that really helped for just a fabulous day. You have to take the tram tour.  It’s so interesting and you learn about all the plants and what goes on in all the buildings as well as some history about the place.  The tram driver and tour guide stopped along the way for photo ops.  After the tram tour we walked around, ate lunch and visited the butterflies. The first gallery are some photos from the tram tour and others that I took when we were walking around.

The next gallery consists of the butterfly building.  So many beautiful and delicate butterflies.  At certain times of the day they will place a butterfly on you so Bev did that and while I was taking a photo of her with her butterfly one landed on me!  They tell you to watch where you step as they land on the ground as well.  We did see a few on the ground.

Next are some photos of the art exhibit, The Art of Balance.  These were all up in the air throughout the gardens. They’re all part of a temporary exhibit and they were  so interesting!  I tried posing as one of them and you’ll see the photo that Bev took of me in the next gallery.

My last gallery from Fairchild consists of the handful of Chihuly sculptures that are there.  They are all so beautiful.

On the day that I was scheduled to go home Bev took me to Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.  My flight was departing in the late afternoon so we had time for another tourist stop.  Another fascinating place! We got there when it opened and it was so quiet and peaceful.  We headed out to tour the gardens on foot.  There are rock gardens, bamboo gardens and I especially enjoyed the bonsai display. There is a museum about how the Japanese came to southern Florida and how the gardens were formed. They recreated a typical Japanese house complete with food containers in Japanese and an example of a grade school class.  We saw a bird that was a cross between an egret and a peacock that was swimming in the water as well as an alligator.  Towards the end we saw coy and other fish and one turtle in another body of water.  We enjoyed a lunch of salmon and rice and visited their gift shop.  You have to visit the gift shops.  So many beautiful and interesting things to buy!

I am not a huge fan of Florida mostly because of things that I dealt with while my mother still lived there.  And it occurred to me after this trip that I never really spent time visiting any sights.  My sister and I (and occasionally our brother) would fly into Ft. Lauderdale and head to Mom’s place in Pembroke Pines. We were there to visit Mom, which was always fun.  So it was nice to see some of the wonderful things southern Florida has to offer.  I’m still not a big fan.  Too many strip malls and it’s way too crowded for my taste.  But, if you’re visiting southern Florida, I highly recommend any of these three fabulous places.

I’ll close with a couple of photos from the plane. The coast of Florida and Chicago at night.  Enjoy!!

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