Sunday, October 19, 2014

White House Garden Tour

Twice a year the White House gardens are open for tourists.  I went for the first time today.  I was glad I took the time, and it was free!   I did wait in line about 45 minutes for a ticket, but I think there was no wait later in the day.  The weather was very cool, so it wasn't as crowded as it might have been--though there was a good turnout.  Even though we didn't get to go into the White House, we still had to go through Secret Service security screening.

One of the most dramatic views was from the walk in front of the South Portico toward the Washington Monument.  This is the South Lawn, where the helicopter picks up the President and brings him back.

And this is the South Portico.  We were so close to it!   It was impressive.  Of course, there were many Secret Service guys between us and the front door.

One of the volunteers explained why the picture below is his favorite spot.  It is where the President "commutes" through this walkway from the residence part of the White House to the Oval Office.

Nice commute!!!  And those two roses in the picture were the only ones left.  Also in the rose garden was a podium set up like it would be for the news conferences that are held there.  Pretty small in this picture, but you can see it if you look.  Empty now, but it looked so familiar to me.

The next highlight was going by the oval office, which must have a lovely view of the Washington Monument.

I was amused to see a very tiny golf practice area....looks more like it is for the First Daughters than the President.

Final stop of the tour was the White House Kitchen Garden....still going pretty strong, with some fat tomatoes, though they don't show in this picture.  Today was so cold....I think things will slow down. It was interesting to see that the artichokes also seem to be doing very well.  I thought they only thrived on the Central California Coast, but now I realize that doesn't make any sense.

Something I knew grows in the South, but had never seen at harvest was peanuts.  I took this picture, but it doesn't seem to show them as well as we could see them.  It was fun.  They looked like you could pick them and eat them, but I guess this is after they are dug up. There were lots of them.  My picture just doesn't show it.

I finished off by going to the White House Visitor's Center.  I highly recommend it.  It appears to be very modest, but there is a lot there.   I loved the timeline that showed how the family leaving the White House moves out the same day the new President and his family move in.  The White House staff is amazing, and makes it all possible.

White House appreciation day for me!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Memorials I hadn't seen before....Hiking in the Rain

This morning, I went for a hike with the Capitol Hill Village hiking group.  The hike was originally planned for Saturday, but it was rainy it was postponed until today.  Guess what?  It was still rainy, but we did it.  There were 8 of us including Ed, the leader.  Ed was also the only guy!

I walked from my home to the park where we met to begin the hike.  I was unprepared for rain because the weather report said there was  only a 30% chance of rain and it would only bring sprinkles.  WRONG!  It rained almost immediately from the time I left my house until just before the end of the hike.

The highlights of the hike for me were two memorials that I had never seen before, the first being the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.  It was very interesting.  I didn't get great pictures because of the rain, but the one above shows what was a surprise to me.  When we arrived, there was no flame and while we were looking, it flared up.  It is in the middle of a star that has different branches of the service at the tips of the five points.

What I like the most about the memorial doesn't show up too well in this photo:

As I looked across the water feature, it appeared people were walking through water, not beside it....but I couldn't get the right angle.  I think I'll go back on a better day.  It is kind of an amazing effect.

We then walked the length of the Capitol Mall, passing by an art installation that is a face.  It is on flat ground, so we didn't have the right angle to see it.  Evidently the best view is from the Washington Monument, or from the air (which is not open to private planes over the Mall).  Here is what I could find on-line about  how it looks from higher up:

To us, on the reflecting pool side, it just looked like dirt, sand and gravel....with a little grass growing here and there.  The image is called "Out of Many One" and is a composite of young men of various nationalities..."e pluribis unum."

We next walked the bridge in the background of the above photograph to Arlington Cemetery.  It was heavy rain by then, so we didn't pause at Arlington.

We headed to another memorial that was new to me---the Pentagon Memorial.

It was quite interesting, but a little hard to understand.  I finally "googled" it and read to the group that the memorials are arranged from the memorial bench to the youngest to the oldest. The youngest was three years old, and the bench with her name also included her sister and her parents. There are other complicating factors in the arrangement, but it is a very moving sight to see.  The above picture is one I took today.  The weather improved a little.

Here is how the benches look up close.  Today, there was a carnation on each one.

Each has a reflecting pool under the bench.  The gravel seems to creep in to some of the small pools, so there might have to be some modifications for good maintenance.

At that point, we were close to the Pentagon Metro Station.  There is also a huge transit center for busses. Lots of people work at the Pentagon, but today was a holiday, so it wasn't very busy.  We took Metro back to the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Brave and Startling Truth

Today was a day to reflect back on the trip to Japan.  My fellow Heiwa pilgrims and I were part of the Sunday morning services.  We sang the song we sang in Hiroshima, "The Breathing Meditation."  The words are simple:  "When I breathe in, I breathe in peace, when I bring out, I breathe out love."  It is in three-part harmony and we sing it in Japanese as well as English.  It was special today to sing with the Jubilee Singers.  I took the picture above during the second service from the balcony.  I participated in the first service.

I was part of a group that read selections from a  poem by Maya Angelou, "A Brave and Startling Truth."  The full poem can be found at:
It is an amazing poem, and I think captures a lot of the complexity of feelings I and others have about visiting Japan--especially Hiroshima.

Several other peace pilgrims offered "postcards from Japan" to share some of the special experiences we had.  We also had a table after church so people could ask questions about the trip and see some of our mementos.  My contribution was a binder with entries from this blog and some of the things I picked up during the trip, such as local maps and paper cranes.

A few of us then went out to lunch at a very nice French restaurant, "Le Chat Noir."  We had a long, leisurely, delicious lunch and enjoyed further sharing memories of the trip.  I took this picture of my friends Josephine, Margaret, Armele, and Carol.

I wasn't in it, so Josephine took this one with me in it.

A nice Sunday!