Tuesday, July 27, 2010


So SO MUCH to share...first I have to finish this Washington recap, or else it'll never get done!

Sunday....our last day in DC, and possibly the hottest.
After an amazing dinner Saturday night at Ceiba (highly recommended) I decided to try and work off the 5,873 calories I consumed by spending a day at the zoo. I LOVE the National Zoo, and while I think it is eclipsed in size and animal variety by the fabulous Bronx Zoo, I try to never miss a chance to hit up the DC zoo. Love the setup, love the bird house (of course) and the zoo can be seen, if one sets a grueling pace, in a day. Off I went!

After lingering at Starbucks for a half hour (not realizing I could walk into the zoo before official "opening" duh) I began the trek to the animals. I went to "China" first, in hopes I'd catch a glimpse of the newborn Red Panda. Yeah right. That thing was not coming out in the heat. Actually, most of the animals looked like this Clouded Leopard:

Luckily I'm not one of those people who goes to the zoo looking for a performance from the animals...and given that the zoo was approximately the same temperature as the surface of the sun, I empathized with the sleeping animals. If I wore a fur coat 24/7, I would've been sleeping too. Of course I wanted to kick all the tourists who kept saying "Why are all the animals sleeping??" BECAUSE it's a MILLION BILLION DEGREES MORON!
Eh. But I digress.

So baby Red Panda (do we capitalize animal names like that? I don't know...) was nowhere to be found, but that's ok, there were plenty of other things to see. I was at the zoo right at opening, so it was fairly empty and glorious.

I decided to hit up the Bird House in hopes it would be deserted. It was....except for one family. The mom wandered around the bird house yelling "AM-burr, AM-burr, AM-burr, where you at? AM-burr? AM-BURR!!" I was losing my f*cking mind. She pauses in front of a hornbill, calling to its young in a nest:
"That bird's annoying!" she declares. "He's calling to his young" the zoo staffer said. Much like you, I thought. "Wee-eelll, it's annoyin'!" she insists. "YOU'RE ANNOYING!!!!" I say. I'd been at the zoo for no more than 15 minutes and my patience was gone and filter completely off. She continued calling for her spawn. I watched the hornbill 'til they had cleared the hell out of there. Ugh.

After that, I saw many other awesome birds:

Burrowing Owl

Pygmy Falcon

Victoria Crowned Pigeon (and yes, the red eye freaked me out)

And then moved outside to see more:

Flamingo - they were nesting and hilarious

Some sort of threesome....I dunno lol

Baby Rhea - a-dor-a-ble I cannot even describe the level of cuteness

There were beautiful flowers outside the Bird House:



Then I checked out the rest of the zoo, small mammals, big cats, etc.

Tamarin Loungin'
Loungin' Tamarin

Nose to the Air

I See You!

Very charismatic meerkat

I trudged to Amazonia to see if it was actually cooler inside the rain forest.

it was.

Whatcha doin?!
This bird kept an eye on me!

Amazing Flower
Amazing flower

By the time I made it back from Amazonia, I was feeling a little bit like this:
He Looks How I Felt

So I trudged back to the Metro to hit up the FINAL museum of the trip, new museum #6, The National Geographic Society Museum, blessedly close to our hotel.

There's a cool shark out front:
Shark at the National Geographic Museum

and a number of fabulous things inside. First, I took a look at an exhibit on DaVinci (no photos at either exhibit, so sorry about the lack of photos here!). On display were his many inventions, rebuilt based on sketches. These were fascinating, though I was so tired that I skimmed through. There was also a detailed analysis of the Mona Lisa on display. You should definitely check it out on their website.

I spent a LOT of time in the second exhibit, Design for the Other 90%, especially since it touched on a subject that is of great personal interest to me, bringing appropriate technology to the developing world so people (especially women and children) have access to everything from as basic as clean, safe water to the internet. I believe *pause to step on my soapbox* that appropriate technology (check this out if you're going "technology? appropriate? wha?) is the absolute essential key to improving the lives of women everywhere. Its development and distribution in so-called "third world nations" is the key to shifting focus from sheer survival to education, sustainable housing, business and agriculture, and commerce. *steps down*
Obviously I loved every second of this display since I'm ranting here, and it was soooo reassuring to see that individuals and companies are heavily invested in their inventions. Check out the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum's website (they're the group that arranged the exhibit) for more information and a look at everything that was featured in the exhibit.

So I did it. SIX museums in three days. I felt like a rockstar. I learned SOOO much. I saw such beauty. I was also very very confused at times (that melting crystal exhibit? really Renwick Gallery, really?!) but loved the exposure to fine art once again. My feet, however, were not feeling so rockin' I had mad blisters, though I have to say, my shoes were not exactly to blame, more like the *sweat* making me feet slide all around....normally I would not defend a shoe when I got blisters, but I invested in these privos at zappos.com, and let me tell you, worth every penny and then some. I was in these babies 12, sometimes 14 hours a day, and did not feel anything until day three, and like I said, it's only because I was so effing sweaty. I am totes buying another pair of these, they've all I've been wearing...but I digress....DC - DC was fantastic fun, and a great kickoff to my 101 things list. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go. The only drawback was the fact that Jam didn't have the chance to enjoy any of the sights. I'm psyched we're planning to go back. Next time around? Newseum, Spy Museum, and both the East and West wings of the National Gallery. Oh goody goody goody!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This is my 600th post on the blog!
I can't believe that I've posted 600 TIMES! Mostly meaningless drivel too!
Oh well. It's been fun :) Whenever I think "gosh, I should really be one of those cool kids who keeps a journal....but I can never commit" I then think "Sh*t. I have a blog, it's the same damn thing, except typing doesn't make my wrist hurt as much!"

If I were a famous blogger, I'd have a giveaway in honor of my 600th post. But I'm not famous...and I have nothing to give. I guess I could make someone a pair of my famous mini mittens - but seriously, who'd want that? Blah.

Instead, I will tell you about the sweatiest Saturday....actually probably the sweatiest day of my life.

We had been warned and warned again by the concierge at the Westin City Center (great DC hotel, I recommend it) that the weather predictions for DC were BRUTAL for Saturday. I heard him telling guests to try to avoid walking around too much, drink water, take the Metro. He was giving out maps by the dozen, probably so people wouldn't get lost and wander and then die of heat exhaustion. Luckily DC is a pretty straightforward city (to me at least, probably because I'm from Boston, and except for the alphabetical/tree streets in Back Bay, sh*t doesn't make sense here, it's actually illogical) and I had a very specific plan. Most of my stops took place in the museum area anyway, with a brief stop near the White House, then back to the hotel. Perfect.

First up, National Museum of American History.
Why? Three words: Julia Child's Kitchen.
I've written about my vague, barely-there connection with Julia before (the cupping of my friend's breast while seeking her autograph at Smith). Then I saw Julie and Julia and learned about the Smithsonian exhibit (which I totally forgotten) and become determined to swing by for a visit. It was great!


It was fairly early, but the exhibit was already busy!

Julia's copper pots and pans, the ones Paul outlined for her on pegboard

I would kill for a kitchen setup like this. Look at all the cabinets and drawers - h-e-a-v-e-n!

Note the Kitchenaid stand mixer on the counter. This is the most coveted item on our wedding registry!

Here's the view from the opposite end. On my right was a timeline of Julia's life, including a shoutout to our alma mater, Smith. WahoooO! They did NOT mention Hubbard House, but that's ok :)

Next up - First Ladies' Exhibit. It's amazing - so amazing that it almost doesn't seem real. They have stuff in there that belonged to Martha Washington. Um yeah. I particularly love the dresses, but they do not photograph well because the exhibit is fairly dark. I assume that has something to do with the need to preserve delicate fabrics and artifacts.

This is Mrs Harding's inaugural ball gown. It photographed best of the bunch. I also love it because I think you could wear it to a cocktail party today and brag about your vintage gown. It's fab.

M'Obama's gown, also totally fab. Part of me was like "wait, it's in the museum....what if she wants to wear it again?" but I guess that would be very cliche and tacky in the fashion world...


I finished up at the history museum with a visit to the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, but by then the crowds were coming in droves and I had to escape. Oh, I did pause to use one of those penny-flattening machines to make a souvenir. People call them a ripoff, but let me tell you something, I am going to brainwash my kids into collecting them. Why? Because you can spend $1.01 or sometimes less, sometimes only .51 cents for a souvenir instead of $24.99 for some plush whatever or like, an annoying wooden flute or some sh*t. But I digress.

ONWARD! Onward to new museum #1, the Museum of the American Indian....because "native american" is so 1999.

The architecture here is phenomenal. I pretended I was sitting in the rushing river that flows around the building because it was so oppressively hot.


The museum, in addition to special exhibits, is divided into three parts: Our Lives, Our Peoples, and Our Universes. I loved this setup. Loved it. I feel like I learned sooo much this way. I could regurgitate what the museum guide says about this setup, but I'll link to the website instead.

This is in the "Our Peoples" section of the museum. Each tribe has a little "pod" with stories, artifacts, histories, and multimedia presentations inside. This is the Blackfoot "pod."

There were amazing artifacts outside each exhibit.


These items are entirely beaded.

Looking up at the ceiling

I probably left the museum around 12:30pm. The heat had become more oppressive, if you can even imagine that. I would walk about a tenth of a mile, then rest. It was too hot for me to want to eat, so my staple lunch became lemonade and a pretzel. I bought one on my way to the Museum of African Art, and noticed an empty bench in a garden-y area. Once I had gulped half my drink, I realized that the garden extended back quite a ways. It was lovely!




Found the shade!!

After that jaunt, I found the Haupt Gardens. Another semi-shady lovely spot!


Plumeria. I can't even tell you how delicious this smelled. OMG.

OK. It was time for AC again. Off to new museum #2, the National Museum of African Art.


This museum is small and manageable but fascinating. I'm biased because I love pretty much all things African though.

Kenyan pieces! I rarely see Kenyan artifacts in museums. I'm not sure why, maybe it was a less-explored area, maybe Kenyan pieces were less likely to survive, maybe the colonials snatched all the good stuff, whatever. I was excited!

There was an "Artful Animals" exhibit - African artists' renditions of domestic and wild African animals. I loved it of course! The kiddies loved it too, especially because there was an elaborate activity book to accompany the exhibit.


I think this was a marabou stork sculpture


Bowl from late 19th century Nigeria


Carving - not sure what or from where, because I can't find it on the museum's website.

Next up, new museums #3 and #4, the Sackler and Freer Galleries. I can just barely get away with calling these two separate museums. They are connected. But I make the rules here, mwaahhahaha.

Sackler Gallery

Freer Gallery

I have to admit, I did not take many - well basically not any, pictures in these two museums. Not that they were not worthy, but because I was frickin' tired. Most of the Sackler Gallery is filled with East Asian art, which I studied a bit in college. It's positively fascinating, and I especially love depictions of Buddha with the various mudras (symbolic or ritual gesture of the hands or whole body usually specific to a god, goddess, Buddha, etc), and enjoy seeing art depicting mudras and therefore specifying a god or goddess, especially when there's a certain headless or armless sculpture which is identifiable by mudra alone. The Sackler collection was full of awesome pieces, but while I was in there, I just needed to take a moment and observe, instead of snapping off pictures.

I did take a picture of this, which hangs in a weird stairwell between the Sackler and Freer. It's quite a painting and has a very interesting story behind it.

Abbott Handerson Thayer's "A Virgin"

Brief stop at White House:

The president was at the G8 summit; otherwise I think he would've invited me in...obviously...not...ha ha ha.

Then it was onto the last museum of the day, new museum #5, the Renwick Gallery.
I would've taken a shot of the exterior, but it was covered in scaffolding...which is probably why I passed it two or three times. Plus a homeless man was sitting on the steps calling to people on the street. That's why I was a bit...wary. It's a wonderful museum though, another that is not too overwhelming. I was able to see everything in only a little more than an hour.

On the first floor was a special, no-pictures-allowed, exhibition entitled "The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946." I suggest checking out the website for more information and a brief history of this strange and twisted chapter in American history. For a bit of romanticized background the movie or the book Snow Falling on Cedars covers Japanese-American internment as well.

It's hard to imagine being interned by my own government...I can't even begin to think of how this feels, but in a situation like this, what I do understand is turning to arts and crafts to cope, so on that level, I really really appreciated this exhibit. Someone had left behind Audubon's bird illustrations, and from those pictures, a artist had taught a class on woodcarving, producing dozens of small wooden bird pins, painted with incredible accuracy. There were carving and paintings and crocheted goods. Want to know the really messed up thing? Most of the supplies were ordered from the Sears catalog. I hate to judge history, because, obviously, I was not alive during WWII, I can't imagine the fear that gripped the people of the United States, but this particular thing that we did to people, many of whom were born on American soil is most perplexing. Let me step off my soap box now.

Upstairs at the Renwick is the "grand salon." Once I saw it, I decided I'd be moving there permanently. I'm going to set up my bed under the largest wall LOL.

There was a guide to all the pictures, and I was able to sit on a bench and read about each painting. Lovely.

Opposite the salon are modern pieces. I have to admit, I didn't like many of them except for this:

Game Fish...cause it's a marlin made out of game pieces. Get it? GET IT?!! ha ha ha.

Porcelain Rhododendron Leaves. i loved this!

One last look at the Renwick.

By the time I finished at the Renwick, I was completely spent and drenched in sweat. Disgusting. I headed off to Victoria's Secret to get fresh underwear and something skimpy to lounge in at the hotel while my clothes dried. Then I settled into bed with a book, fell asleep and inadvertently locked Jamaal out of the room. Whoops. That's another story though, for another post. Stay tuned for Sunday's recap, in which I will show you BABY ANIMALS and a giant fake shark.

Fun times.