Category Archives: Music

Writing My Mind To Hawaii

Beach At Waikiki

I have finally perfected the magic of teleportation. On this wintery Valentine’s Day in Maine, with a cold front settled in over the landscape like a cool-pack, I have been luxuriating in Hawaii. Waikiki to be exact.

I’ve been listening to slack-string guitar played by an older man wearing a splashy shirt and a lei (thanks to Pandora Radio).

Giant Shirt

I’ve been laughing with my sister at a luxury hotel while the lights from the tiki torches dance, reflected, in the water of the pool while we slurp down tropical drinks garnished with pink umbrellas stuck in pieces of fresh pineapple (thanks to my imagination).

The air is warm and balmy (thanks to the electric heater).

What exactly is this, you ask? Inspired by a trip we took a few years ago, I’ve been writing a story set in Hawaii, and what could be better than that on a mid-winter day? The story is aimed at the confession market because, well, I have to confess that I love writing them.

Bird of Paradise Plant

I hope that this story will find a home in one of the two confession magazines, True Story or True Confessions, but even if I don’t make a sale on this one, at least I’ve had a most enjoyable trip writing my mind to Hawaii today.

Sunset on the North Shore

Aloha! And Happy Valentine’s Day.

Day 31: Chillaxing At the Kogod Courtyard

Canopy over the Kogod Courtyard

Dear Reader:

With temperatures reaching 100F and humidity that made it feel more like 115F, what better way to escape the heat than take the yellow line downtown to the Kogod Courtyard for some funky jazz, board games, coffee and biscotti, and prime people-watching?

The Robert and Arlene Kogard Courtyard is a 28,000 square foot space canopied by a multi-paned atrium ceiling floating above the gorgeous Greek Revival building that houses the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum. Built in 1836 as the U.S. Patent Office, the building is one of Washington D.C.’s oldest. The Teen and I escaped our apartment and the oppressive heat to wander around the museum corridors, soaking in the art (me) and texting (the Teen), and trying not to get on each other’s last nerve (a challenge).

"The Chief's Canoe" by Belmore Brown, about 1927

This landscape painting looked cool and inviting.

"Cape Cod Morning" by Edward Hopper, 1950

So did this Edward Hopper. Later, I noticed similarities between the two paintings. The girl’s posture in the window is like the man’s posture in the canoe. The trees are like mountains. The field, like the river.

"Looking For The Mountain" by Pat Steir, 1971

I was intrigued by the use of graph-type lines and grids on this modern painting. Math art. The Teen wasn’t impressed.

detail from "The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millenium General Assembly"

We took a turn through the folk art exhibit, an impressive collection of primitive paintings, whirligigs, log carvings, bottlecap art, and an amazing installation of one man’s aluminum foil representation of heaven. James Hampton secretly filled his garage with this piece created between 1950 and 1964.

We then scooted over to the first floor of the Portrait Gallery where we saw paintings ranging from an Abraham Lincoln miniature to a large painting of Bill and Melinda Gates.

Pretty In Pink--Juliette Lowe

Juliette Gordon Lowe, the founder of Girl Scouts.

Walt Whitman

The Teen thought Walt Whitman was a dead ringer for Dumbledore. LEAVES OF GRASS meets HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS.

Light and Cool in the Courtyard

We strolled out to the courtyard where the jazz band, Funk Ark, was setting up for their five o-clock performance, part of the museum’s Take 5! summer series.

Board Game Cart

I love this concept! The museum makes board games available, offers wine and coffee and food from the Courtyard Cafe, introduces awesome bands like Funk Ark, and everyone just hangs out . . . chillaxing.

Take a virtual turn with me around the courtyard where some people were reading, some people were texting, some people were sleeping, some people were jammin’, some people were talking, and some lucky people were even painting!

"Oh, what move is she making now?"

jammin'

Cute Couple!

ArtJamz was there with canvas, paints, and enthusiasm. Participants sign up ahead of time and get a chance to mingle and create while listening to the band. If you live in D.C., check out their website. Sounds like a great alternative to the more usual night-out options.

ArtJamz Supplies

I settled for a cup of coffee, my notebook, and pen.

We hung out listening to the funk jazz for about an hour before diving back into the sea of humidity outside.

G Street

We hopped on the train at the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stop. Hmmm, Chinatown. It will just have to wait for another day . . . Outside the Box in D.C.

Days 3 & 4: Biking, BBQ, and Some Pretty Cool Sculpture

Hirshhorn Museum Outdoor Sculpture Garden

Reminder: Click on underlined words to access links for more information, articles, photos, videos, and more.

Dear Reader:

Sunday morning, hubby and I hit the bike trail. I had my first experience with city biking, traveling partly on sidewalks (I’m thinking this is not good form, though people do it) and partly on the city streets where there are marked bike lanes in the middle of the road. D.C. is a very bike-friendly city with its many trails, marked bike routes, and a Capital Bikeshare program.

All around the city you’ll see bright red bicycles lined up in a cheery, earth-friendly row, waiting for members (you can get one day, five-day, one month, or one-year memberships for prices ranging from $5 to $75) to hop on and ride to another station where the bike can be dropped off. The beauty of this is that the rider doesn’t have to cart the machine all around the city. Just take it, use it, drop it off at a station closest to your destination. The first thirty minutes of each ride are free, the second thirty minutes are a buck-fifty, and so on.

If you want to use a bike for a longer ride, it makes more sense to rent one for the day from one of the many rental companies. You might even want to take a bike tour to see some of the historic sites. For example, Bike and Roll offers seven different bike tours as well as an option to create a custom experience.

Park in Crystal City near the bike path

Since hubby stashed our bikes in the back of the F-150, all we had to do on Sunday morning was free my cycle from the truck bed and take off. Passing by the Crystal City Water Park, we hung a left to access the 18-mile Mt. Vernon Trail. This paved, two-lane trail is a favorite with locals and tourists, especially on Sunday morning. Bikers and joggers were out in full force enjoying the breezy, warm day.

Gravelly Point

A few minutes into our ride, we found Gravelly Point. This is a good picnic spot, especially for families with young children, as the planes leaving Reagan International Airport take off directly overhead. The area is park-like with its wide swaths of grass and the trees and shrubbery lining the river where you can watch the boats and kayaks out in the water.

Trestle on Mt. Vernon Trail

We watched a couple of planes take off and then launched ourselves down the path along the Potomac. Soon the path was shaded with trees. Every so often you’d hear “Left!” or the cheerful “ding-ding” of a bicycle bell indicating that someone was about to pass you. This happened alot, since the traffic was quite heavy. Hubby and I passed many a jogger, and I am now longing for a bell of my own.

I was captivated by the squares of light falling through the rusty trestle bridge we passed under and made a note to stop and take a picture on the way back. Hubby was too far ahead of me, so I had to pedal like crazy to catch up. We crossed the Potomac and ended up at the Jefferson Memorial where we parked the bikes for a few minutes and explored the site.

Jefferson Memorial

We wanted to hit the National Capital BBQ Battle, so we headed back to the apartment to grab the Teen who was, amazingly, showered and dressed and blown-dry and made-up and ready to go. Trekking across the Mall, we saw the Hirshhorn Museum, the Smithsonian’s museum of contemporary art and sculpture. The sculpture garden called to us with its pool and plantings and intriguing installations.

I should have taken notes on the names of the pieces and their creators. Unfortunately, I am becoming as technology-dependent as the rest of the world and assumed I could easily find a list of pics and info online at home. Um, wrong. Note to self: Buy notebook today and carry it everywhere!

Thought this sculpture of a coat was cool. The Hirshhorn has art programs for teens, I discovered while searching online for the information I was too lazy to write down. Check out this short video created by some of the kids in the program. You’ll see the coat sculpture in a whole different way.

I wonder if I can get the Teen to sign up for a workshop in the Artlab?

Willem de Kooning "Seated Woman on a Bench"

Having a little bit of fun with sculpture.

Much as I would have liked to continue to explore the garden (I have a feeling this is going to be one of my favorite spots in D.C.), we were lured by the call of ribs and other culinary delights. Off we went in search of the BBQ Battle. A block or so over from the Mall, on 12th St. near the Old Post Office, we found an entrance to the BBQ.

Clock tower of Old Post Office

The BBQ has raised over 1.2 million dollars in the past for the Boys & Girls Clubs of D.C. We handed over our $12 apiece and took a look around. The BBQ was like our Maine community festivals–Strawberry or Apple or Lobster Fest–with vendors set up in booths, entertainment on various stages, food and drink for sale, and samples to try. Unlike our rural Maine festivals, this one was crowded with people of all races, nationalities, styles of dress, languages. Fascinating to watch the astounding variety of people!

People at the BBQ

It’s quite a jump from Willem de Kooning to Lego, but the day’s theme seemed to be sculpture, high-brow to low-brow. The kids were getting a kick out of sticking their heads in the shark’s jaws.

Lego sculpture

Everyone seemed to be lined up at the Safeway Sampling Tent, so we queued up for what ended up being the longest line EVER! Okay, not ever, but it took us a good two hours to finally get up to the sampling area. I tried to remember the kids in Haiti from the IMAX movie the day before, the kids who were lined up with buckets waiting for clean water to drink. Instead of griping, I decided to watch people instead.

We filled ourselves on samples of watermelon and mango, lamb ribs and chili dogs and bbq turkey, potato and ceasar salads, and countless tiny cups of lemonade, tea, and soft drinks. My favorite was a Sobe Goji Pear Yerba Mate drink. Yerba Mate is a South American beverage that is supposed to help with weight-loss, energy, and focus. I don’t know if the Sobe drink can do all that for you, but it sure did taste yummy!

Oscar Meyer Weinermobile

There’s just something fun about the Weinermobile which has been around (in various incarnations, of course) for about as long as automobiles. Click HERE to view a YouTube video about the history of the Weinermobile.

Love Seed Mama Jump

Finally we wandered down to the far end of the BBQ and the blues stage and caught the first set of a great Delaware band, Love Seed Mama Jump. These guys could rock! Click HERE to sample their version of John Denver’s “Country Road.” The bongo drums were unique, and I think I caught a bit of Celtic flare in the music, though the Teen thinks I’m crazy.

All in all, I’m glad we went to the festival. It’s the sort of thing that the locals do, I think, and we saw a great variety of people just hangin’ out and enjoying themselves on a nice summer Sunday afternoon. The money raised will help some kids get into after school programs and summer camps, and I may have discovered a new band to follow. Next time, though, we would skip the sampling tent and head over to “Retaurant Row” to buy some finger-lickin’ spicy ribs or one of the gigantic turkey legs we saw some people gnawing upon.

After three days of sightseeing and walking and Metro-ing, we went home for some much-needed hydration and sleep. Hubby went to work Monday morning, and the Teen and I decided that Mondays should be housekeeping day since we pretty much needed some quiet and home time. I hit the gym in the morning.

Later, I walked over to the Harris Teeter for some provisions. I haven’t driven a car since Wednesday, and I love living in a walkable community. With a mall right across the street and the Pentagon Row shops just around the corner, I could live comfortably without leaving my city block, even if I didn’t have a bicycle.

This is a planned development, quite new and one of several of Arlington, Virginia’s urban villages. According to Wikipedia, a Metro stop spurred development of this area which was once an open field and some industrial buildings. With its green spaces, park, tree-lined sidewalks, center square, and public transportation, this development provides healthy, happy urban living.

If you can afford it.

The apartment we are staying in costs about $3000 a month. Average rental costs for a two-bedroom in the D.C. area (according to ApartmentRatings.com) is about $1500 a month for 2011. I keep wondering, where do all the retail and restaurant workers live?

Today I’m heading over to Crystal City, the urban village next door, in order to check out the farmer’s market. Check in tomorrow for pics and commentary!