Friday, July 22, 2011

Getting Down to the Last Few Days in DC

Wednesday, July 2

The big news of the day is a new minivan for the Smiths.  They're going to South Carolina Saturday and it will be great for their trip.  It's parked here at the back of the house.  It's a Toyota Sienna.

One of the fun things to do here is to eat popsicles on the front porch.  It's a little afternoon snack brea k.for us.  I  love Griffin's tie die soccer socks and Sophia has on her very fancy "Candyland" shoes....but has them on the on the wrong feet.  That happens about 80% of the time!  Why isn't it 50/50?

Painting is a big activity for me and Sophia.  Here we are at the dining room table.  She is working on a big watercolor and so am I.  The little car in the foreground was my subject for "NaSkeDraMo"--a sketch every day during the month of July. 

Sophia's friend Erin came over for dinner and then some dress-up fun.    They dressed as princesses---Sophia is a butterfly princess.  It can't get much better than that!

Mimi is a family member who hasn't got much press.  Here she is enjoying a quiet moment away from the kids on the back porch. 

Thursday, July 21

It was a very hot day and Sophia and I hung out at home after Soccer Camp.  Griffin went to Griffith's house.  We got in some painting time, and Sophia packed for the trip to South Carolina.  She has a Tinkerbell suitcase and she did a great job...remembering underwear as well as playclothes and dresses. 

July 22, Friday

Last full day in DC and it was a hot one.  The "heat index" was 118 degrees.  I think the temperature was 102.  Louisa took me to the post office in the morning to mail some packages, including paintings in a mailing tube.  The other things were heavy, and I didn't want to have to lug them around.  As it is, I have two suitcases to check in and one carryon and a backpack as my personal items.  Hey, it has been a long trip!   I was a little sad, and so it was doubly good that Louisa could take me.

In the afternoon, Sophia and I worked on a new art project.  We had some fancy paint and it had glitter glue and some glue with all kinds of "sparklies" to paint was fun to try it.  In Sophia's sunflower above, you can see that it sparkles.  The painting was 100% her creation.

Tonight is my last night on this very memorable trip.  Peter took Griffin and Sophia to Cheverly Pool to meet with some friends and Louisa and I were able to have a nice dinner together at Pops in Alexandria.  Home tomorrow.  Many memories and I am glad I did this blog!   It's inspired me to keep it up with some of my more local adventures. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

more from DC

July 18
Griffin and Sophia are signed up for soccer in the mornings with the "legendary" Coach David.  Having met him, I have to admit that he really is something special.  I pick Sophia and Griffin up at 12.  On Monday and Tuesday of this week, the plan is to go home and Griffin's friend Griffith will join us at about 12:30.  Griffith is not in the soccer camp this week.

Everything went well with the pickup and Griffith arriving at the house.  We all had lunch together.

This picture shows Sophia walking home.  She was not really walking alone, of course.  Our house is the light-colored one.  When we got home, we had a good afternoon, which included building some Harry Potter-inspired buildings.  There was a lot of cooperation in the effort and it paid off in big feelings of accomplishment.

Here's another picture of the builders:

Go team hogwarth construction!

We went to La Plaza for dinner that night and had a great Mexican/Salvadoran meal, but I didn't take any pictures.

July 19

Essentially, the same routine as yesterday.  After the pickup at soccer camp, Sophia and I worked on some labyrinth drawings, but they became pretty complicated.  The boys are into a Wii game involving Harry Potter.  We did more work on the Harry Potter "scene," but I didn't take pictures.   There was a popsicle break on the front porch.  Sophia and Griffin were on the front porch and Griffith was on the back porch.  Griffith was so fast that I didn't get a picture of him.  Here;s Griffin and Sophia:
In this picture, Griffin has on some great tie-dye soccer socks...Sophia has the shoes on the wrong feet.  Louisa and I have been talking about this.  It should be 50/50 that she gets it right...but it is more like 20/80, meaning she mostly gets it on the wrong foot.  Why is that?

 It was Tuesday, so we went to Mr. Henrys for dinner.

Griffin watched the movies.  Sophia had a lot of fun with her friends, including hiding under the table.

This was my last visit (on this trip) to Mr. Henry's, so I wanted a picture of me and Sophia.

I'm headed back to Portland on Saturday, but this has been a lot of fun...memories to treasure...and we have this blog to document it.  How nice is that?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Family Fun and More..Continued

July 15, Friday
Friday Night we all went to The Yards for what we thought was a "Truckapalooza" with lots of food trucks.  They were some, but not as many as we thought there should be.  (We later learned they were on a different street.)    All was not lost.  We got food from the trucks that we did find and, as always, found some fun things to do.  Here's Griffin playing toss ball:

There's lots of background action in this....I just wanted to show the ambiance of the event.  It looks like Griffin is throwing the wrong direction, but they had some targets set up in the other direction as well  and he was challenging himself. 

July 16, Saturday

Louisa and I got an opportunity to go to Hillwood Estates and Gardens, which was the home of Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress of the Post fortune.  It was amazing.  She had SO much stuff!  Although it was kind of "over the top," it was fun to see her collections.  I had trouble limiting my pictures, but this is the dining room as it was set up for a family-related dinner to celebrate Dina Merrill's wedding.  Dina was Marjorie's third daughter and her legal name was Nadenia Hutton.  To give you an idea of the money involved, E.F. Hutton was her father. 

Marjorie Merriweather Post was married four times.  She had four glamourous weddings of her own and her mother and her daughters also had important weddings.  There was an exhibit of the wedding gowns and bridal party gowns in another building.  The exhibit covered the years 1874-1958 and gave a taste of the evolution of fashion.  I also enjoyed a sketch book of a troussou that was done by one of the designers.  It was in a hallway near the dressing room in the mansion.  Fashion seemed to be important to this family.

The gardens of the estate were fabulous and Louisa took this picture of me in the Japanese garden:
In this picture, I have a little green lapel pin proclaiming that I am "fabulous," which became our word of the day.  Of course, everyone there had one...they were the admission receipts!!!  Louisa and I loved being "fabulousized."  We also attended a talk about fan and handkerchief courtesies and the "contra" dances of 18th Century France.  We learned that "contra" referred to "country" dances.  We also had a nice lunch, with a chilled beet soup that was worth trying to make at home.

When we came home, it was a good time for me to get a demonstration from Griffin on his bicycling skills.  He's doing great!

Sunday, July 17

Before going to church on Sunday Griffin, his friend Griffith, Louisa and I went to a labyrinth in the DuPont Circle neighborhood.  It was very nice, but the boys aren't quite ready for contemplative walks.  After all, they are 7 and 8 years old.  Louisa and I both did it, though, and felt we would come back again  when there were less distractions.  The boys just ran around the courtyard area while we did it.   It is a permanent labyrinth in front of an Episcopalian Church.  The church has, unfortunately, been pretty much destroyed by arson....but they are going to rebuild.

After church, I went to the Phillips Collection by myself.  It was amazing, as always.  There was a special Kandinsky exhibit and also one on Frank Stella's sculptures inspired by Kandinsky.  I was also happy to see some "old friends" by Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, and the unforgettable "Luncheon of the Boating Party" by Renoir.  I was excited to see Matisse's "Interior With An Egyptian Curtain" because I am using a mug with that painting on it.

Dinner was at Franklin's with our friend Kat.  Another great day, and I am happy I decided to keep this blog....for me, as much as for any readers!

Friday, July 15, 2011

More from Washington DC

Thursday, July 14

After soccer camp, Sophia and I got some pizza ingredients, and later made pizza with fresh pesto...using basil picked in the garden!   Actually, Mommy (aka Louisa) did most of the work, and we just helped.  We had a lot of fun with it, and ended up with a doughnut pizza, because it had a hole in the middle. 

Before the pizza feast, we went to the pool to cool off and had a great time there.  I forgot to take a picture, though.

Friday, July 15:

With mornings "off," I'm keeping up with a Sketch a Day challenge for July through SketchCrawl DC.  I'm also getting a little more time to keep up with my blogs, and I'm working on a big "Labyrinth" painting.  I pick up Sophia at 12 every day from soccer camp.   Today, we went to Matchbox, hoping to make a sketch of a building across the street.  We weren't able to get a outside table in the front, or even a table in the front of the restaurant, but I took a picture of the restaurant.  On its alley side, there is a Coca-Cola sign that looks old, but isn't....the restaurant itself also looks like it's been there a long time, but it is new.  We haven't gone to it yet....something to think about.

We did some sketching anyway at Matchbox and I ate something I had never had before--watermelon gazpacho.  Very tasty Summertime treat.

When Sophia and I got back to the house, we worked on some interesting puzzles.  They were blank and you can paint or draw your own picture.  Sophia drew one a couple of weeks ago that was a challenge to put back together after we took it apart because we didn't have a picture.  Working together today, we did it!. 

Then, we made a new one together:
...and took a picture before taking it apart!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Washington DC with the Smiths continued

...At the Smithsonian.

Monday July was pretty quiet on the home front.  In the evening, I went to a presentation at the Smithsonian that was very remarkable.  It was billed as "Cooking/Traveling Solo" and was presented by Janice Waugh, who has a blog,, and  Joe Yonan, the Washington Post food and travel editor.  Janice and Joe believe that single is the way to go, and presented some strong arguments to support the cause.  I need to "percolate" that a bit, but understand their point.   On the cooking, I certainly always treat myself to good food and never question the fact that I am "only one." so I think I am on track with that.    On travel, I have been a bit reluctant to go by myself and always say that I want to travel with a guy, but I will keep up with Janice's blog and I think I could do it solo, based on her encouragement.  She has some tricks that make sense--including lots of good tips for women traveling by themselves.

On Tuesday, July 12, I walked with Sophia to Soccer Camp.  Griffin has been doing it for several weeks, but it was Sophia's first day.  Here's a picture of her with Coach David running one of their routines for warm-up.

After leaving her off, I got a chance to do some sketching and then go to museums.  My sketches will be on and the pictures of my museum tour, which turned into a love of sculptures, can be seen at my picasa albums.  Let me know if you want a link to that. But, as an appetizer, here is one of my favorites:

It is Roy Lichtenstein's "house."  A one-dimensional plane, that looks three-dimensional.   It was hard to choose from the many great sculptures I saw and so I recommend the Picasa album.   The other great thing is that I saw ALL of the current exhibits at the Hirshhorn--starting at the top and moving down!!!   And then went on to the Hirshhorn sculptures outside in the gardens.  I then crossed over and went to the National Gallery's Sculpture garden where I had lunch.   After all these outdoor sculptures, I went into the National Gallery West and connected with a talk about Thomas Cole that changed my whole impression of him  I had thought his paintings were very sentimental and learned how challenging they are.

I connected with the family that night at Mr. Henry's. Here's a sketch I did of Mr. Henry's table set-up:

Wednesday was a very quiet day.  We went to lunch at Matchbox, which is always a favorite for me, but I didn't take pictures.  Later, we had some music making at home:

We are having a great time.  It is something I will always remember.  Tomorrow brings new adventures.

Monday, July 11, 2011

More Fun with the Smiths

Sophia really appreciates her home and family, and we have pretty much stuck to that during the day.  On Tuesday, July 5, we went to Marion Park ( just across the street) for a sketching session and to play in the playground.  I started what I thought would be a nice sketch, but overworked it.  We bagged that and went to "Good Stuff" for lunch.  They have great milkshakes, but were out of chocolate--my favorite.  We ordered malted milk, but also got a free strawberry shake because of an order mixup.  After that, we spent time at home doing puzzles and playing Candyland.  We also had some art sessions. Sophia really loves those.  I just love her sunflower painting.

It was a, of course, we had dinner at Mr. Henry's.  It's getting to be even more fun for me as I meet more people. 

Wednesday, Peter went to work early and Louisa worked from home, so I walked Griffin to soccer camp.  Coach David is great, and I watched the guys warm up: 

They work hard and won a tournament match they had later in the week.

Later that day, Sophia, Griffin and his friend Griffeth set up a lemonade stand and made some pretty good money.  They also gave away outgrown clothes and used donations they got from that for an animal rescue fund.  Here's how the lemonade stand looked:

Sophia and I are both fans of gelato.   There are two main reasons.  One is that gelato is ice cream and is cold and creamy and delicious.  The other is that we like to discuss Italian things, and we know that Italians call ice cream gelato.  So on Thursday (July 7) we went to a new gelato place.  I had dark chocolate and Sophia had banana.  I tested both and they were great.   Something went wrong with my pictures, though.  Trust me, we had happy faces.

In the late afternoon, we went to the Folk Life Festival at the Smithsonian.  Actually, they hold it on the Capitol Mall.  I was very impressed.  It really is TOPS.  The themes this year were Columbian Culture, Rhythm and Blues, and the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps.  I spent most of my time at the "Motor City Stage," where there was great R&B.  Here's a picture of the kids enjoying it:

We also played drums and games in the Columbian village setup and had great food.  The Folk Life Festival happens every year in early July, and has different themes each year.  In addition, it was close to the carousel, so here's a picture of me and Sophia on the carousel:
On Friday, Louisa came home at lunchtime and took Sophia and me to a great neighborhood place called Zest.  I had a smoked turkey sandwich that may have been the best turkey sandwich I have ever had.  It was amazing.  We planned on going to either the Folk Life Festival or Yards Park Friday evening, but we had some pretty bad storms come just took it easy at home.

I went to my sketching class on Saturday morning, which was at the New York Trapeze School.  It isn't in New York, but actually near Yards Park.  That was amazing, too.  I had trouble getting good sketches because it was so interesting....and the trapeze students moved so fast!

After that, I went to the National Gallery of Art and saw a show assembled from the Chester Dale collection.  What an amazing collector he was...with the help of his wife.  Picasso, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Casset, Dali, Matisse, Degas, etc.  And it is first class work!  I was most impressed with Modigliani.  I must have seen originals before, but the ones in this show had amazing skin tones.....the figures seemed to glow.  Mr. Dale bought at a time when prices weren't as high as they are now, but he set a record when he bought Manet's The Old Musician in 1930.  His gifts to the National Gallery have definitely contributed to making the National Gallery the institution it is today.   I had a great Italian buffet lunch.  Just like being in Bologna!  Later, I had a great Italian dinner with Louisa and Chantel.  An excellent culinary day.

Sunday we went to the Torpedo Factory, and that was fun.  We saw a great guy playing music on the plaza there, and he asked Sophia to be in his band.  She played marimba.  I didn't get any good pictures of that, but here's her band leader:

Still having fun....more to see and do.

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July Weekend

Sunday we went to the Zoo!!!! It was a HUGE treat to see orangatans using what is called the O-line--the big Os are the only ones who use it.  They can go from The Ape House to what is called The Think Tank.  They actually travel directly overhead, but can't get down.  They are not caged at all while on the O-line.  It's very ingenious--a word for the day.  We then saw them at the Think Tank where they are intellectually challenged--to find treats, to play with a blanket and work out problems, and to work on picture identification and sequencing.  All very interesting, and too complex to summarize here.

We came home and I had a surprise.  My birthday was last month, but I never got my favorite treat--ice cream cake.  When we came back from the zoo, I was surprised with a birthday ice cream cake.  And we got a picture of us all with it--Louisa's friend Danielle took the picture.

Monday--the holiday--time for a neighborhood parade, and Griffin held the banner for Brent Elementary School:

Then, a ballgame in the afternoon.  The Nationals won in extra innings with what Peter called a "manufactured run."  Jason Werth, a crowd favorite, started with a walk, then moved by a sacrifice bunt to second, stole third, and came home on a passed ball (or it might have been a wild pitch).  Whatever, it was a WIN!!!!  Here we are at the park and I'm chomping on a bratwurst with Griffin by my side.  It was another free hat day, which is why we have matching hats.  It doesn't get any better than this.

Happy Independence Day from Washington DC....Liberty and Justice for All!!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My apartment

I have an apartment here, which is nice....a little separation from the family.  I am so used to being alone that I find I kind of need that.  It is in the basement of Smith family house, so it is very convenient.   Here's a picture of the very contemporary kitchen:

It is comfortable, but we constantly work to make it better. I noticed that there was NO ART on the walls.  I found that Griffin and Sophia had both brought home "portfolios" of their art work from the last school year.  I raided it, and so here is an impromtu PLUM GALLERY EAST show:
"Caterpiller to Butterfly" Sophia Smith

"Masque" Griffin Smith 

"Shapes and Colors" Sophia Smith

"Seahorse" Sophia Smith

I also want to point out the alternate name of this gallery.  It is "Lulu's Famous E Street Gallery."  Lulu is Sophia's very sophisticated Madame Alexander doll and we are on E St.  Yes, there are more art works from Sophia than from Griffin in this show.  He doesn't do as much art as he used to.  He is seven and more into sports.

Friday, July 1, 2011

National Museum of Art

One of my favorite places in Washington DC is the National Gallery of Art.  It is on the Capitol Mall, like the Smithsonian Museums, but is not part of the Smithsonian.  There are two Buildings, East and West, with a fountain in between.  One of my favorite things is shown in the picture above--it's a moving walkway between the two buildings with twinkly lights that randomly change.  The National Gallery of Art also includes a Sculpture Garden that has a large round fountain that becomes an ice-skating rink in Winter.  I went on Wednesday afternoon, when I had an afternoon off from being with Sophia.  I was able to visit the gift shops,and saw a couple of great exhibits.  Also hung out in the Sculpture Garden, where I might return tonight.  They have a jazz concert every Friday night.

On Thursday, Sophia and I did a neighborhood walk and sketched at a local park.  Sophia drew a picture of her family:
She's the one with the long hair in the bottom left.  She is a real homebody and loves her family.

Just for fun, the artist posed with the drawing: