Category Archives: subways

Day 40: Some “Catch-Up” With Those Fries

Dinner at the Austin Grill

Dear Reader:

With about three weeks left to go on our great Outside the Box in D.C. adventure, I’m beginning to wind down from my hyper-touristing. With the ‘Rents in town this past week, I got a little behind on my blog posts, so today is all about the Catch-Up.

July 23–Sustainability Symposium at NMAI

Sustainability Festival Pamphlet With Corn & Squash

Back on July 23, Hubby, the Teen, and I attended the Living Earth Festival at the Museum of the American Indian. I was determined to get to the “Creating a Climate of Change” symposium, where Jeremy Rifkin, a business consultant to multinational corporations, heads of state in the E.U., and other global entities, spoke on issues near and dear to my heart: global warming, peak oil, sustainability, localization, renewable energy resources and technology. Although he painted a grim picture, he also outlined a pathway to move forward. For me, it was almost a relief to hear someone “in the know” about world and business affairs affirming what I’ve been reading and learning about for the past three or four years. Peak oil is not a myth . . . it’s a reality we have already crested. Sustainable, renewable energy is not just for “greenies” and environmentalist hippie throwbacks to the 60’s and 70’s . . . it’s the wave of the future, if we are to have a future.

Symposium Poster

Heads of state are listening. From Rifkin’s website:

Mr. Rifkin is the principle architect of the European Union’s Third Industrial Revolution long-term economic sustainability plan to address the triple challenge of the global economic crisis, energy security, and climate change. The Third Industrial Revolution was formally endorsed by the European Parliament in 2007 and is now being implemented by various agencies within the European Commission as well as in the 27 member-states.

Granted, this is his own website, and self-promotion should be looked at with a skeptical eye. However, if you are interested in learning about what Rifkin thinks we need to do in order to survive in a low-carbon energy world, check out the NMAI blog post.

Beautiful, Living Earth

The two speakers following Rifkin were also knowledgeable and insightful. Gregory Cajete spoke passionately about the indigenous perspective on global climate change, comparing the indigenous communities to canaries in a coal mine–they feel the effects first. Melissa K. Nelson then spoke about the importance of re-indigenizing our food supply, talking about such issues as food sovereignty, the negative health impacts of our modern diet, and urging a return to slow, local foods.

After the symposium, we strolled outside to listen to some music by Native performers. The concert opened with a blessing performance by the Santa Fe Indian School Spoken Word Team. This may have been the most powerful student performance I’ve ever seen in my life. The emotion rolling off these young people through their strong voices was palpable in the air. When they finished, the group went to the side, and, crying, threw their arms around each other forming a tight ball of support and celebration. I strongly encourage you to click on the link above and see what I mean.

Plateros T-shirt

Later we heard the Plateros, a young blues rock band whose lead guitarist, Levi Platero, along with his brother/drummer Douglas and bass guitarist, Bronson Begay, seriously rocks with the sound of Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

I went home from the festival thoroughly inspired. Thanks MOAI for putting on this important event!

July 24–Dance DC Festival Downtown Battleground

Graffiti Artists

Hubby and I visited the portraits in the National Portrait Gallery on July 24 and luckily ran into the Downtown Battleground event outside between 7th and 9th Streets. It was hotter than Hades out there on the wide sidewalk, but we were thrilled to join a large crowd listening to drumming and watching some very talented African-style dancers. I don’t know how those young ladies kept going in that sweltering heat!

Dancers at Dowtown Battleground

The graffiti artists were hard at work with their spray cans on large pink “wall” set up for the event. These artists were up high on metal ladders, scooching down to the bottom of the “canvas”, and all over the spaces in between creating some very jazzy, bright, cool art.

Orange Image

Detail from Painting

American History Museum

These Boots Were Made For Leading

I already wrote about the visit with the ‘Rents to the American History Museum in my previous post, but time and theme did not permit me to add these boots to my Great D.C. Shoe Scavenger Hunt. Take a look at George Washington’s boots in the The Price of Freedom: Americans At War exhibit.

Chinese Lady's Shoe

I also found this bound-foot shoe tucked away in the Transportation exhibit. I won’t tell you exactly where. When you visit D.C. you’ll have to scavenge this one out on your own!

Metro

Waiting for the Train

Of course, we wouldn’t get anywhere without the Metro, man’s finest invention, IMO.

Typical Metro Station

All of the underground Metro stations look almost exactly alike, which I find reassuring. You find a Metro post, take an escalator down to the platform, and you know exactly what to expect . . . except for the passengers, of course. People always add the spice of variety.

From Holocaust Museum to Harry Potter Deathly Hallows

Holocaust Museum

On Saturday, the ‘Rents, Hubby, the Teen and I visited the Holocaust Museum off 15th Street. We were unable to get passes to the permanent exhibit (will have to do so before the end of my stay), but we had an excellent tour guide that ushered us through the Propaganda exhibit with all the old Nazi political posters, pamphlets, recordings, and timelines showing Hitler’s rise to power and the eventual horror of the Holocaust.

From National Holocaust Museum Website

Please go to see this important exhibit if you are able to get to D.C. Otherwise, click on the link and visit the museum online.

I was reminded how we have to be vigilant when watching one-sided news stations, when looking at legislation that blocks freedom of speech, press, and assembly in the name of safety (anybody thinking about the Patriot Act anymore?), and when reading blogs and other pieces of “journalism” . . . even this one! Check things out for yourself. Read. Think for yourself. It is so important–crucial–in a democracy.

3-D for Harry Potter

It might seem a bit of a jump to go from the Holocaust to Harry Potter, but when you think about it, there are some similar themes in the Hogwarts Saga. The “Dark Lord” wants to rid the magical community of “mud-bloods” and eventually takes over education and the press, uses torture and kidnapping to terrorize regular magical citizens into allowing his evil takeover of the government, and creates an “us against them” mentality in order to accomplish his ultimate desire for ultimate power.

We caught the movie on the Imax screen at the Museum of Natural History. The first floor of the museum was a madhouse before the show. A hot Saturday afternoon in the Dinosaur Exhibit? Don’t recommend it unless you are also one of the two thousand other families with small children under the age of eight trying to find something for the kiddos to do on a blistering hot pre-dinnertime afternoon. {{Shudder}}

(As an alternative, I’d suggest the hotel swimming pool. Take the kids out of school in the fall for a day at the museum instead. You’ll thank me.)

Like Neanderthals hiding from a predatory beast, we hid out in the Fossil Cafe for a half an hour and then gratefully entered the dim calm of the theater.

Dinner at Austin Grill

Outside Dining at Austin Grill

After the show, Hubby and I wanted to share our favorite D.C. restaurant (so far) with the ‘Rents and the Teen, so we trotted up 7th St. to E St. and the Austin Grill. This is a franchise, but so really good. The service is attentive, the Tex-Mex is delicious, and the prices are reasonable.

Austin-tini

The Austin-tini wasn’t bad, either. Think Cosmopolitan, in pink.

Chalupa Salad

Everyone ordered burgers except for me. I had the Chalupa Taco Salad with Grilled Chicken. It comes in a deep-fried tortilla bowl with sour cream, tangy vinaigrette dressing, and guacamole–yummy!

And that is the “catch-up.” Yesterday, we browsed around in Alexandra again, and I’ll post some pics of new, fabulous finds–just wait until you hear about the Torpedo Factory!–over there in quaint Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. I absolutely love the place!

If I ever had to move . . . well, no need to think about that now since we are already here, Outside the Box In D.C.

Day 26: Urban Hobo

My Travelon Bag

Dear Reader:

Still babying my foot, I pretty much stuck around Arlington today. It was Tuesday, though. Which makes it allergist day and a trip to the village of Ballston.

Arlington is an “urban county,” and at twenty-six square miles is the smallest county in the U.S. Rather than towns and cities within the county, Arlington is composed of neighborhoods or “urban villages.” Ballston is a business area with high-rise apartments, office buildings, some government offices (the Nature Conservancy has its headquarters here, for example), and Marymount University. And, of course, the hospital.

Virginia Hospital Center

Finding my doctor’s office was easy two weeks ago. Today I took a longer look around the grounds. The neighborhood around the hospital is composed of single-family homes–mostly cute, brick cottages–some with wooden shutters, some with window boxes, most with pretty, cottage garden landscaping. The bus route goes down 16th street, onto Glebe Rd, and in three minutes you can be in the downtown area where you can find shops and restaurants, including an IHOP next to the Ballston-MU metro station.

Sightseeing Essentials

No matter where I go, I take my baby-blue Travelon bag. Here are the essentials for “urban hobo-ing.” A bottle of water. A great bag. A city map. A metro map. A hat and sunscreen in case you want to walk around anytime after 11 a.m. A book. Books come in handy when you waiting the metro and there’s not much of interest to look at. A good book is a welcome distraction when you are waiting twenty minutes for the bus to arrive. Books are a great place to put your eyes when you are snuggled into a crowded metro car and everyone is working really hard not to look at each other. Or at least get caught looking at each other.

Puts the Pocket in Pocketbook

I picked up this bag at Mardens right before our trip to Hawaii a few years ago. After the trip, I stuck the poor thing in the back of my closet and forgot about it. When planning what to bring on this trip, knowing I would be using a Smartrip card, I remembered this gem of a bag and dragged it out into the light of day. Voila! It’s been perfect! The back pocket is large enough for my city map, my Frommer’s guide to D.C. and a novel.

Flapper Chic

The front flap is magnetized to keep it shut and protected even in close quarters like subway stations and crowded museums.

Inside the Flap

Lift up the flap, and you have access to a zippered, see-through pocket where I stash my entry key card, apartment key, and mailbox key. There is an easily-accessed pocket for my Smartrip card. It’s a cinch to lift the top flap, reach in, slide the card out, swipe it, and then slide it back in. Slick! There’s also a cell-phone pocket. Zippers on either side of the cell phone/card area . . .

Safe Room

. . . can be zipped-down to open up a safe pocket for credit cards and cash.

Roomy Storage

Between the leather handles (this thing sports handles AND a strap so you have carrying options) is another large zippered pocket big enough to hold water bottles, a spare book, a folded-up hat and/or small umbrella, maybe even a snack.

I cannot praise this bag too much. I take it everywhere. I sling it across me like a messenger bag when I bike into the city. I slide my arm through the handles and clasp it against my body when I’m at the mall or a crowded area. I let it flap against my hip when I walk down to the grocery store and come back loaded with three canvas bags of food-stuffs.

The Healing Garden next to the hospital

Most apropos to this blog, the bag carries my camera through which I have been viewing this new world. I worry a bit that the camera is becoming a crutch, easing the pain of finding just the right word to describe places like the “Healing Garden” outside the hospital, a place of circular walkways and curving flower beds, a round fountain, colorful annuals, and soothing greenery.

Waiting here for the bus is no chore. Especially since I have a book tucked in my bag to keep me occupied.

Days 9 & 10: Five Things I Do Differently In D.C.

Flowers in the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden

Dear Reader:

Riding home from the American History Museum yesterday, I began to think about what sort of things I do differently here in the city versus at home in the country. It hit me, then, the truth in a statement my good friend, Sandi, made before we left Maine.

“No matter where you are,” Sandi said, “your life is going to be pretty much the same because you are still the same person.”

Wise words! Sandi’s philosophy lines up quite nicely with that of Confucius who wrote, “No matter where you go, there you are.” It’s so true. I do find I am still me here in D.C. I’m reading my books, drinking my coffee, and thinking my oh-so-deep thoughts (she says, self-mockingly).

There are, however, a few things that I’m doing differently.

Ironing Board

# 1: Ironing. I haven’t done this much of it since Hubby quit teaching ten years ago and no longer had to wear dress shirts to work. When I was a kid, my mom taught me the proper order for ironing men’s shirts. Collar, yokes, cuffs, arms, side, back, side. The smell of damp, hot cotton steaming beneath the iron brought back some good memories. I didn’t like ironing at age 11 or 12. Now 43, I discover I rather enjoy it. Go figure.

By the way, engineers wear jeans and tee-shirts, while teachers wear shirts and ties. Why is it that teachers have to dress like executives and get the same amount of schooling as executives but do not get paid like executives?

And can anyone tell me why this program is giving me a spelling error underline for the word “men’s.” Isn’t that the proper plural possessive? It’s bugging this English major. Thanks.

Dishwasher

#2: Using A Dishwasher. When moving into various apartments over the years, Hubby and I never made a dishwasher a priority. In fact, only our Westbrook, Maine apartment had a dishwasher. When it was time to move into our new house, I nixed the idea of a dishwasher and opted for an extra cupboard instead. I figured I’d save some electricity. As a housewife, I had plenty of time to wash the dishes by hand. Now I find out that using a dishwasher MAY be more sustainable (click HERE for a sampling of what seems to be a consensus). I don’t know. Pre-scrubbing before putting the dirty dishes into the machine, I really think I might as well wash the darn things. Anyway, the water here doesn’t get very hot from the tap, the Teen’s summer job is to clean the dishes, and so we’ve been using the apartment’s washer.

Water Filter

#3: Filtering the Water. If the water from the tap doesn’t get hot, it must get cold, right? Wrong. It is tepid. Always. And yucky. After a few days lugging home bottles of water, I bought this Britta water filter pitcher. It only holds about five cups, which is about what I put in the coffee pot every morning, but it is easy to refill and the water is so much better after being filtered and refrigerated. It may even be healthier. I will say this for my community back home–we have the most excellent, clean, good-tasting water.

Metro Smartrip Card

#4: Using Public Transportation. This is a big one. I haven’t driven a car in ten days, and I’m not missing it one tiny bit. NOT ONE TINY BIT! There is nothing easier than popping over to the Metro station and getting around the city. Granted, it is summer and not a frigid day in January or a pouring wet day in March, but being able to read while getting across town? It is easy with the Metro’s Smartrip cards. You just press this up against a reader on the turnstiles (they are called turnstiles, but they slide in and out now, not turn) and voila! Hop on the train to Chinatown or Woodley Park or wherever. The trains here run on electricity, and 70% of the electricity in D.C. is generated by coal, according to a Greenpeace volunteer with whom I chatted in Adams Morgan the other day. So, this mode of transport isn’t perfectly sustainable. However, you can move many more people with a train than in individual automobiles burning precious oil, sending carbon into the atmosphere, and enriching Middle Eastern countries. Public transportation is a little bit tougher to figure in rural areas, but it is definitely a no-brainer in the city.

My makeup "collection."

#5: Makeup. I confess, since moving to the country and giving up work outside the home, I’ve let myself go in the cosmetics department. It just doesn’t seem necessary to put the on the “face” before going to the Limerick Supermarket for a quick run to the popcorn aisle. I always wear lipstick, feel quite naked without it, but now I’m lining my eyes with a navy pencil, picking just the right coordinating color from the palette of eyeshadow I picked up at the Dollar Store in Sanford, and even–gasp–spreading a light, SPF-15 foundation all over my face!

SPF is good, especially since I’m walking in bright, southern sunlight to the grocery store or to the Metro or all around the National Mall, and I admit that I look better in photos. However, I’m not sure if all this personal grooming is really “me” anymore. I’ve grown to like the woman who slaps a little lipstick on her mouth, sticks her hair in a ponytail, and heads off to the public library to volunteer. Or tromps out to the garden boxes in her beat-up “croc-a-likes” with the broken straps. Or pulls on a pair of wrinkled shorts and a tee-shirt to go biking with a friend.

That person is still here. So is the more citified me. I realize it is okay to be both because deep inside, wherever I go, there I am. Thanks Confucius and Sandi, for the reminders.

Tomorrow: Off to Celebrate the 4th of July in front of the Capitol Building!