Saturday, January 31, 2009

sunny and cold

MLK cut outs  & Obama connect the dots drawing

tax services 

Murray & Paul's restaurant

Yesterday afternoon I burst out of the house for a walk and some light shopping. I wanted to stretch my legs and get a few things while Keith was in a SLR digital photography class downtown. I walked with my Kodak point and shoot camera up to the Brookland post office and mailed some bills. Then dropped back down twelfth  street to the CVS pharmacy, built in an art deco style movie theater, where I hunted for rechargeable AAA batteries. I continued down the street to the YES Organic market for a few specific groceries. Along the way I decided to collect some images of the ORANGE stuff that is everywhere on twelfth street because it has been too long since I had a good orange show and tell on my blog. I found that there are orange caution cones, fencing and big striped barrels where the city is having the street scape "improved" without taking into account there is a law on the books saying they have to remove the poles and wires from the street and put them underground. I fear all the work they are doing  to replace the curbs and reshape the street scape is a wasted effort.  I suspect much of it will have to be redone to comply with the "underground the wires" law which is what all the people who live in this area think we want and deserve. I am in favor of the underground project for a few reasons. First, esthetically it will greatly improve the look of 12th street our commercial shopping area. Second, it will allow beautiful trees to grow and shade that busy neighborhood shopping and commuters corridor which are now hacked up annually to make the wiring safe from falling branches. Third, it will reduce the power outages from violent weather and traffic accidents. 
The money has been allocated to improve the street scape by an under ground placement of the wires as well as the new curbs, bump out shapes to improve pedestrian safety and new street lamps. There have been major discussions on our local Brookland discussion boards and list serves. Our voices are being heard but whether or not the government can force PEPCO, our power company, to comply with their laws is something we do not know. It seems PEPCO is trying their best to avoid burying the electric lines and removing the unsightly poles. 
The good news is that the streets are getting a little more space for walkers and shapes are going to take away a little more concrete and open up some grassy areas where rain can get into the ground and nourish the trees. 

Besides lots of orange cones I also had a delight when I noticed a kindergarten school window display celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. day and Obama's inauguration. Their sign says "Yes We Can" the slogan from the Obama campaign and further down it reads "Yes We Did" the celebration of him being the first Afro-American elected as president. I felt a very warm feeling seeing how important this is to the children of my community and all the fine work of coloring and cutting. I instantly remembered back to when JFK was president and how his death impacted my life at 8 years old. I remember the earlier "duck and cover" bomb raid drills we did along with the fire drills at elementary school in the early 1960's. I heard a story from my neighbor Chris the baker that downtown on the day of the inauguration that he a man fully grown was so crowded trying to get through the security check points that the crowd was lifting him off his feet moving him along. He saw small kids down on the ground with adults all around them in that press of excited people. That brought back memories of being a smaller person among tall adults and that wasn't  a very pleasant experience. Little me wanting to see what all the adults were excited about and not being able to unless dad or some tall guy lifted me on his shoulders to look. Shoulder riding was a lot of fun when it happened and now I don't get to do that anymore. I wonder what memories the kids that attended the inauguration will have when they grow to be my age of that day or the kids in that class will remember how charged the entire city was about the change that came to Washington DC. 50% of the people who live in Washington DC are Afro-Americans and most of them are descendants of slaves. How sad it has taken this long to bring them the liberty we all deserve under the US Constitution and Declaration of Indepenance. Even the Republican party that lost the elections to Barak Obama have joined in the elect an Afro-American excitement. They elected an Afro-American Michael Steele who is a former Lt. Governor from Maryland to be the party leader for the next 4 years. We adults may be getting the race issues closer to correct now and  the kids are paying close attention and will remember for a very long time how exciting this time was for them and how concerned adults felt anxious for the future. 

Friday, January 30, 2009

winter storm

The last time we saw snow on the ground was last winter so this weeks snow was welcome but the ice that followed was a bit of a downer. I had to skip going home this week and doing laundry. Next week will be wash week abundantly full of washables.  I am excited by all the changes in tone coming from the white house this week and seeing changes I wasn't even expecting. One nice change during the afternoon broadcast of the white house's press conference the reporters get to ask follow up questions again at least two questions each! It is shocking how such a simple thing makes the news so much more meaningful and the white house more transparent. After 8 years of hyper controlled secret government things are opening up again here in Washington DC like they should be in a free society. I was delighted by the blast from President Obama of the Wall Street Executives who took $18 Billion dollars in bonus pay while their companies are failing. That is shameful and just wrong. Some things just went very wrong under the last administration and they made me sick. So sitting home and watching the changes on CNN and MSNBC were stimulating in a way they have never been before. The snow was a great reason to get out and walk to the store. We have a store for organic groceries in our neighborhood now for the last couple years and it has really improved life for Brookland residents to have YES market. Walking over there was fun with Keith and I took my camera to record and share it with you. I love to look for bold patterns in the bright white snow. Found a nice pink building with bricks that are just like my Aunt Alice's home that my father designed for her years ago. They are pink bricks with a few painted white and black in an effort to look "used". I wonder if there are orange things around in the snow. All I can remember seeing was a few orange caution cones. What did you see during the ice and snow storm?

Monday, January 19, 2009

pink day

In reality my shirt is a salmon pink and my skin is flesh colored but I wanted to push the envelope a bit with my editing tools :-) I am not sure if I like that pink hair line looks like my makeup wore off or some such mess but I love that very pink shirt after the retouch. 

Nice today on Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in my Brookland neighborhood. Streets are quiet and the gray sky is offering peeks of sunshine and massive white snowflakes fill the air now and then.  I am a little sad because it looks like Obama and his transition team decided to hide all the gays yesterday during the internationally televised concert at the Lincoln Memorial.  Gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson gave an opening prayer  that vanished from TV and radio media coverage of the concert and because the sound system wasn't functioning when he spoke his prayer twice most of the crowd didn't even know he was there. Then during the concert the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC sang back ups and were never named in the bold titles that labeled all the other performers. Somehow  it seems like we gays are being deliberately papered over.  I was reading blogs about the gay censoring when I heard these muffled grunting sounds over and over and discovered the Turkey Thicket and Brookland Elementary school play grounds in front of my apartment are being used as to stage national guard troops for security detail. We noticed a red cross van was parked at Turkey Thicket Community Center a few days ago. Today the troops arrived they are wearing riot gear over uniforms. Big wooden batons, plastic body shields, face shields, hard helmets  and knee/shin guards are all part of the crowd control costume they wear. Charter Buses are parked in the lots and now starting to leave with these guards men. I wonder what they will be doing today. Maybe they are part of the security perimeter that the Secret Service is putting in place on the entire downtown of Washington DC. I took a walk after hearing these guys yelling to see better  what is going on out there and to get a few pictures.  Now about 150 national guards men are doing practice maneuvers on the tennis courts it is like a sort of all male ballet. They have portable toilets and shower trucks over there and on my walk I discovered military police hummers and unmarked vans filling the school teachers parking lot with other support vehicles. Pretty exciting to see but a little scary as my neighbor noted. I think closing all the bridges and main highways into DC from Virginia and putting up concrete barriers with guardsmen and police from around the nation seems a bit heavy handed on the security detail but we residents of Washington with no vote in Congress are getting used to the fact that the Federal Government runs this town regardless of how it impacts the people who live here. The white house security perimeter  is getting bigger and bigger closing streets they think protect that special house and as I often joke it won't be long before all the downtown will be off limits to anyone not wearing a ID card around their neck. I chose not to go to the inauguration because they have blocked easy access to the mall.  On Metro they warn there will be hours of waiting to go and to come back home. No cars, bicycles or other way to get downtown except walk and 4 miles each way is too much for me in this weather. Hyper security has blocked my joining in the fun and celebration of an event I never thought was going to happen. I remember when DC burned after Martin Luther King was killed. I lived in many of the areas that were destroyed by those fires and watched it slowly be rebuilt. Progress is slow for civil rights. I am waiting on mine to come and I think we are closer than ever before to GLBT people being normalized in our society. We are moving forward but don't forget that with every leap forward there are always a couple steps back. 
My ex-partner Don Callahan sent me an invite to join him and others around the world wearing pink today to support diversity. International Day of Pink started in Canada when a boy was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school and hundreds of his classmates decided to show there support by returning to school all wearing pink! Gay Straight alliances in schools do amazing things for todays kids. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

bird and wild flower puzzling

wide view of puzzle parts with box and beverages

scrambled egg with cheese and toast or what I call a good breakfast made by mom

I was home again this week for a visit with Mom, and we dismantled the Christmas tree and we packed it up together.  I got my laundry rolling right away and ate some lunch and Mom showed me how far she had come working on a  500 piece jig saw puzzle our family friend Karen sent for Christmas. We used to always have a puzzle which my Dad used to find or buy or some how get on a card table to be worked while waiting on meals and guests over the holidays. Karen must remember working on it when she came to visit with her family years ago and helps us keep the tradition going this year. Dad was a great puzzle solver with his Architectural visual perceptions of space and form. Mom finds it a challenge but one she wanted to explore more to sharpen her mind. I jumped in to add my skills which are OK at this sort of work and lessen the struggle it is to work a puzzle alone. The puzzle was spread out on the dinning room table this time so we had to eat our meals on the edge of the puzzle and that kept us both interested every time we sat down to eat during my visit. Mornings I had a hard time concentrating on my ritual writing morning pages with the puzzle in front of me calling out to be worked.  I had to stop to eat a lovely breakfast and this picture helps me appreciate how great having a Mother who likes to cook for her family is.  I took a few pictures of the progress the last day  to share and to compare when I go back next time. As I began the cardinal was all put together (Mom's favorite bird) and most of the blue jay. Some of you know I love watching birds and wild flowers so this puzzle really did ring my chimes. I knew all the names of the birds and have seen them all live and in person many times. The blue bird is maybe the rarest in Washington DC but I did spot a small flock of them while out on a Christmas Bird Count on the big campus of the old soldier's home in 2006. I wonder if there will still be blue birds in DC after they take up part of the soldiers home campus for retail and residential development?  I can say, this puzzle was extra fun and maybe a little easier because of the birds and the flowers I love. 
When I got home to DC, after my visit, I was greeted by a happy partner who helped me unload the clean folded  laundry and carry in the goods from shopping I did on the way home. Soon after we got things in and settled my phone rang and my Dutch pen pal Cor Windhouwer was on the other end asking for me. We have never spoken on the phone but he was so excited at receiving the Barcelona Box and books he said he wanted to call and tell me before he went to bed. It was a great surprise to get a call from him. Now he knows how I sound even thought we have never met. I spent over two years working on the book and box. The result is a new book and box  holding the precious paintings Cor painted on top of the photos his friend Mr. Waelput gave him from a long ago trip to Barcelona, Spain. We didn't talk long on this first call but just enough to enjoy the exchange of our first conversation via telephone. Years of emails and shared art projects make this a very special event for us that rounds out our relationship. I was relieved to hear the package arrived without damage and in tact fully protected from elements and miss handling and Cor was happy to report he loves his special book set. It was nice to hear his excitement about finally having his book of Barcelona paintings home safely and in an original Frederick box and book. 
Later while eating our late afternoon lunch we got drawn into the exciting news of the amazing emergency landing of a US Airways plane on the Hudson River where it was extremely cold. Happily everyone got out alive and mostly unharmed starting off a new year with something more than just hope for things going better. Inauguration in DC is a great unknown. I will be watching from the safety of our apartment and celebrating a change in our fine city and nation. 

Friday, January 9, 2009

full moon

These are the power and other wires that we are trying to get the city to bury under the street like they are all over most of the affluent sections of the city. 
This one caught the exciting details of the surface of the moon. I think taking the picture in daylight really helped my camera collect the details in these two photos before the darkness fell over the sky. 
That is the linden tree and in the distance the 8 tennis courts of Turkey Thicket Recreation area and the jungle gym for the little kids which is not lit up at night like the tennis courts. 

Today I ran out to mail a package and on the way I took my camera in case I saw the moon early as it was late afternoon. After a walk and a little time at the post office and the Yes Organic Market. When I came out there it was over 12th Street glowing already. It won't be 100% full until tomorrow night but we are due to have rain so I guess it won't be making much of a show for us in DC tomorrow. I got home and started thinking how much fun it was to take the time exposures of the crescent moon and Venus not long ago so I thought I would try it again with the full moon. Strange results. The details got lost in the moon but the branches in our Linden tree in front of the apartment were really spooky and quite a surprise to me.

interesting Cardinal

I just found this link to a blog that shows photos of a mixed up gynandromorph cardinal. At first I didn't understand what was going on in the picture then once I looked at the second picture and read the comments on this blog it sunk in. This bird is both male and female marked and that is a genetic accident. 
Go see this for yourself it is worth a couple minutes to see this rare bird. Click Here...
The wonders of nature never end. 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

indians and paint

Fritz Scholder 
Monster Indian 
1968 oil on canvas 18 x 20 inches 
Collection of Ralph and Ricky Lauren

Four Indian Riders
1967 oil on canvas 60 x 72 inches
Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Willian Metcalf

Yesterday, I met a friend who's father was  an American Indian, I traded him a drawing for a gourmet lunch he bought us in the National Museum of the American Indian. I arrived first being more accustomed to traveling metro to the national mall for museum visiting than my pal and I took some quick photos of the ducks. We had a very gray sky and a sharp chill in the air, but it was perfect for going to a windowless museum to see some paintings. Art in museums is almost always lit with artificial lights and good  food and company lifts my spirits as does the walk to and from metro. This then was a perfect museum going day.
We enjoyed some really good herb roasted Salmon accompanied with wild rice  and water cress salad in addition to a little mushroom and sea weed salad. The coffee was fair trade coffee making it all the more enjoyable to sit and talk. Eventually we wandered through the museum on the way to find paintings by an artist neither of us knew. Along the way there were displays of interesting bead works in one area we stopped to admire.  We eventually found the Fritz Scholder, Indian: Not Indian Exhibition on the 3rd floor. The show included a short video of artist Fritz Scholder talking about his work and it gave us a short biography. Scholder's work is in this and New York's sister American Indian Museum because he broke the barrier to Indians of being fine artists painting and making art that was relevant to today and to real American Indian life in 20th century. There was until the late 1960's a taboo on doing anything besides folksy craft items that were naive and simplistic and  prescribed by the history of previous Indians artists and the non Indian romanticized idea of what is Indian art.  Fritz Scholder is an important artist for all of us because he helped begin breaking down some of the idealized romantic fiction we all grew up believing. My friend pointed out that even Indians bought into this romantic Indian fantasy. I think Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show is where it manifested in the mind of world what the Indian was, along with some 19th century novels written by white guys which inspired Bill and many others. The truth is much sadder but it is something we need to reckon with as Americans. The paintings were full of strong south western colors and his paintings of Indians made Scholder world famous and wealthy so he left Indian country to make art in New York City.  I got a few snap shots of the early works you can see above but I recommend you follow the link above to see the short video and view some of his works on the museum's website. Best is to see them in person but the museum's web gallery has some very good reproductions. 
Afterwards we walked over to the national gallery of art to see George de Forest Brush's Indian paintings. This gave us a 100 years perspective on the American Indian's image in paintings. 1880's is when white man George de Forest Brush painted and 1980's is when 1/4 Indian Fritz Scholder did his and they reflect the huge change in painting techniques over these 100 years. To see George de Forest Brush article I wrote shortly after that show opened and his images look back here or follow the link to NGAs website.
The gardens at the National Museum of the American Indian are some of my favorite in Washington DC and the pond you see is active all year long. It is the perfect place for Ducks to feel safe as well as many song birds.