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.

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