Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Congressional Cemetery with Sophia

Last Monday my granddaughter Sophia had no school.  It was parent-teacher conference day.  I had planned to go on the stroll at Congressional Cemetery and so I took her with me.  The weather was a little cold so she was gladly wearing her new jacket.  I think she had more fun than she thought she would.  It is very interesting.

I was particularly interested in showing her a sculpture of a girl with a butterfly.  I didn't get a good picture, but got this one off of the web:

It was taken when the monument was dedicated.  Elizabeth Reeves Eydt died when she was eight years old.  She had been sick for some time.  If you google her name, there is a blog that talks about her hospitalization and suffering.  I don't actually recommend reading it.  It is very sad.   

The statue is very pretty, and the butterfly is golden.   One of the charming things about the monument is the bronzed sandals behind it, as if the girl had left her sandals. 

We strolled around the cemetery and enjoyed the warming day and the clear blue skies.  It is always good to get out and Congressional Cemetery always has something interesting.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Village Hikers on Anacostia Trail

Last Saturday, I went for a hike with Village Walkers.  The photo above shows a few of the hikers on the Anacostia Trail, which goes along the Anacostia River.  It is a long trail, and we only hiked part of it.  This picture was taken at a point where the trail was near the road, but there were stretches where it was just trail.  It is paved and is used a lot by bikers as well as joggers and pedestrians.

We actually met at the local Lincoln Park and then walked East on East Capitol Avenue to RFK Stadium.   We went through a parking area to connect with the Anacostia Trail.  Here's the view of the stadium from the parking lot:

It was a beautiful day!  After we picked up the trail, we got some nice river views.

The view above looks like it was early in the day, but actually it was about 9:30 am.  It was peaceful and we saw quite a few rowers.  I thought about my friend Chantel Sheaks, who regularly rows on the Anacostia.....but she goes out much earlier in the morning than our hike.  In fact, along our walk we saw the boathouses I had visited earlier in the year with Chantel.

As we got close to the Navy Yards, I was excited to see a snowy egret--looking for a tasty treat.  It was good to see such wildlife in the city.   Bill Matuszeski, who is active in watershed restoration activities, briefed us on efforts to clean the Anacostia, including huge pipes to transport the runoff water to a treatment facility instead of letting it go into the River.

We continued along the now-urban trail, through Yards Park and by Nationals Stadium.  There are numerous huge apartment and condominium buildings that have gone up or are going up.  The area used to be virtually abandoned, and now it has restaurants, housing, grocery and drug stores, and (of course) the baseball stadium.  I was particularly impressed with a building designed to reflect the skyline.  The picture does not do it justice.  

We finished up with a visit to one of the new restaurants, Nando's Peri Peri, where we had delicious Portuguese flame broiled chicken and other treats.

It was a beautiful hike filled with a lot of variety.  Thanks to Ed Missiaen for  great work with this group.  We will miss him and his wife Margaret when they move to San Francisco.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Congressional Cemetery Stroll....All Ages Welcome!

It is Thursday already and I am finally posting about the Congressional Cemetery Walk on Monday. It has been a busy week and more blog posts are to come.

We had a full range of ages on the walk Monday.  The youngest was three and the oldest was 93.  Not only are all ages welcome, but everyone is welcome.  It is not necessary to be in the Capitol Hill Village organization or the neighborhood.  No signups are needed.  Just show up at the gatehouse at 9 am.  It is less than an hour's walk and there is a lot of flexibility for some to go faster or slower than others if they wish.

The picture above shows one of Congressional Cemetery's most unusual sights.  It was a donation for the Lummi Nation (Northwest) and is part of a special walkway memorializing the events on September 11.  I heard that it was originally meant for the Pentagon, but could not be placed there.  The plan is for it to be part of a bigger memorial on Kingman Island in the Anacostia River eventually.  I personally think it will fit in better there.  It seems a little out of place at Congressional Cemetery.  It was carved by Jewell Praying Wolf James and has a lot of symbolism.  The two poles are called healing poles and signify Liberty and Freedom.  The crossbar is for sovereignty.  It was carved from a single Western ceder tree.

It was a beautiful day and we all marveled at the glorious blue sky and the clear air....not so much humidity.  Fall is here.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

American Art--Landscapes

I began a new art class through the Smithsonian Associates today.  It should be very interesting.  The first session was on landscapes....primarily the Hudson River Valley School.  I would like to have seen a broader approach, but the time frame is pretty tight.  The class lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes.  It seemed to me like she could have covered a lot more than she did.  Evidently, I was was not the only one disappointed.  I got a message this morning that her presentation was not up to Smithsonian Associate standards and another instructor will be in charge for the next three sessions.  There is also a tour at the American Art Gallery and it will also be the new instructor.  I just found it amazing that they acted so quickly.

I still did learn from the class.  The painting above is by Thomas Cole and is commonly known as "The Oxbow."  It is a a post-thunderstorm view of Mount Holyoke in Northampton Massachusetts.  It is classic because it shows the American landscape painters were interested in the wildness of the American landscape and also concerned with the impending settlement and loss of that wildness.  This painting, completed in 1836, shows both.  It is also interesting to juxtapose the damage to the tree at the left front with the damage by clear-cutting in the valley view.  The storminess on the left with the relative calm on the right also is interesting....not to mention, of course, the interesting configuration of the river flow.  The original is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

We did also learn about Alfred Beirstadt, and his "monumental" work.  However, the instructor was wrong about how he funded his work.  She said he had patrons, but a guy sitting by me pointed out that he primarily held exhibitions and charged entrance.  He encouraged people to use magnifying glasses to look at the work and generated a lot of interest in landscapes and in the West.  The instructor conceded that was true.  I will be interested in how many are in the second class.  The first class had about 60.

There are three more classes, but we have to cover all of American Art....so I am not too optimistic that there will be more on landscapes, but I will continue to explore it on my own.  I love the California impressionists and also am a fan of Wayne Thiebaud's San Francisco views.  Thiebaud is known for cakes, but I love his landscapes.  Here's some Thiebaud "eye candy" but not cakes.

Wayne Thiebaud Ripley Street Ridge
This painting sold for over 1 million dollars in 2009!
I am not sure, but I think this image is reversed from the original.  More research needed for that.  I think I have seen it at the National Gallery of Art earlier this year.  Always more research needed!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Weekly "strolls" at Congressional Cemetery

I have been meeting up with a few friends for a stroll in Congressional Cemetery for a few weeks. It's a nice group, led by Vira and Bill Sistosik on Monday mornings.  Every week I see something new that I hadn't noticed before.  It really is an interesting cemetery. My plan is to write a post about markers in the cemetery each week that I go.  Some of the people buried in the cemetery are famous...some not so much.  The other interesting thing is that quite a few of the markers are for people who haven't died yet.  I am familiar with that happening in a couple when one dies before the other but, at this cemetery, there are examples where neither has died yet.  They just have reserved a spot--maybe in a special spot or by a special tree. I'll post more about that later.

This week I am featuring a marble cube set an an angle.  It is very artistic, at least I think so. It is for two men, who are both deceased. They were both involved in the arts.

Apologies that the pictures are not better.   Charles Fowler wrote and frequently spoke about the arts and was Director of Natural Cultural Resources Inc.   He was a champion of arts in education.

Kenneth Dresser was also very involved in the arts.  I learned that the reference to his creation of artistry that "enchanted millions" referred to his creation of the Electric Light Parade at Disneyland, the Water Pageant at Epcot and the Fantasy of Lights at Calaway Gardens in Georgia.  I have seen the Parade in Disneyland but not the other sights.

We walked all through the cemetery and it was a beautiful day.  I plan to go again next Monday.

These men were obviously very connected to each other and left a marker that remembered their lives  together and their relationship.

Oh, yes, I will talk in the future about some of the more traditional headstones, but this one spoke to me because the headstone itself is very beautiful.