A Very Surprising Visit!

August 27, 2012

Much of the time when I use my laptop, I sit in my comfy chair in the corner of our bedroom.  And much of the time, I’m already dressed and “made up” for the day — so, ready to meet anyone who might pop up unexpectedly. But, I have to confess, sometimes I look pretty darn ratty, especially without make-up, when I’m sitting at my computer.

Soooo, let me tell you what happened on Saturday that will make me much more careful in the future about how I look during those times.

I was sitting here (where I’m sitting right now and, I might add, fully clothed and made up) playing my favorite on-line game, Words with Friends.  When suddenly a blue box appeared in the middle of the screen that said, “Terry D____ is calling you”.  And there were two boxes to check — “Accept the Call” or “Decline”.  My thought was, “How in the heck is Terry “calling” me on my computer?”  (We went to grade school and high school together and see each other at class reunions.  He lives in Arizona now.)  So out of curiosity I clicked the “Accept” button to see what happened.

Wow!  Immediately my whole screen was filled with a video screen showing Terry sitting in a somewhat cluttered home office,  smiling at me and looking a little incredulous himself (he had just found the app himself).  And when I turned on the sound I could clearly hear him telling me “Hi!”.

I’m still not clear on how to do that computer-phoning thing, but it was fun to have about a 20 minute “call” with Terry.  And I’ve never met his wife, so when she came into the room, he introduced me to her.  How fun is that?

BUT, now that I know what it means when that little blue box appears in the middle of my screen, I will first give a thought to how I look, before I click “Accept”.

So, a word to the wise — beware the blue box.  Or you may get a surprise visit you aren’t prepared for!

Of course, now that I’m aware of this option, it may be ME calling.  In which case, go ahead and answer it.  I promise not to act shocked however disheveled you are.


“The End” for Thelma, Louise and Louise

May 19, 2012

Yes, I have other pictures I could share from our Washington DC trip, but I’ve tried to tell some stories here that might be different than what you have heard before.  And I certainly couldn’t tell them all … you’ll just have to make the visit (again?) yourself!

We saw many beautiful buildings that represent the foundation of our country.


And memorials to the sacrifices that our military men and women have made to keep our country free.


We stood in many lines and went through quite a few metal detectors (where I sometimes required “wanding” because my artificial knees made the detector go off).

We got to know a great group of 8th graders with whom we were touring.

We saw some really interesting “art in the park”.  If you know what this is a giant version of, you are showing that you are over a certain age!

And Marilyn and I even did something probably not quite legal, that reminded us of our Thelma and Louis theme … we went back to a museum for a second time.  This time without a ticket and just went up the back way to where a video was being played that we hadn’t had time to watch the day before.  I assume we may have been on a security camera somewhere, and we were prepared that someone might ask us to leave.  But it was a free museum that gives tickets just as a matter of crowd control, so if they saw us and what we were doing:  Just two women going up to spend an hour watching a video and then leaving.  I guess they weren’t worried about that.

Marilyn and I got to see Sandi in action as she pursues her new career as a tour guide.  (You did a great job, Sandi!)

The three of us “got” to share a very tight room. It reminded me of slumber parties when I was a teenager.  Except for the age-related issues that we would never have experienced as teenagers.  For instance, the other two were good sports about the discovery we made that when I take a sleeping pill (which I did two of the five nights, before I realized that was the cause) the very deep sleep apparently makes me snore like a drunk in an alcohol-induced coma!  (I’m sure we all added ear plugs to our list of travel musts. And I removed sleeping pills from my list!)

So that’s all I have to tell you about our trip.  It was great fun for me and the other two said the same.  And Marilyn reiterated that when she wrote in my birthday card last week, “Let’s take another trip!”

I’m ready!  Just give me a minute to throw away those sleeping pills.  Sigh.  Getting old is not for sissies.


The Mythical “Zipper”

May 16, 2012

Several times at the beginning of our time in Washington, DC, I heard people say something about a zipper.  The first few times I wasn’t in a position to ask what that was.  But then I finally got to ask … and the answer was something I had never heard before.

A vehicle that looks like a bus with very long side skirts is called The Zipper.  I never saw one in motion, but it just looks like it wasn’t built for speed … and it wasn’t.  And I’m pretty sure miles per gallon never comes up for The Zipper either.  Because I’m told it only travels a few miles twice a day.  Can you guess what it does?

Well, we travel to Chicago frequently and use the express lanes, if they’re open. There are gates that close off the express lanes to the less used direction of traffic at different times of the day.  And apparently The Zipper is DC’s answer to controlling their express lanes.

See the concrete divider beside The Zipper?  Twice a day The Zipper goes along that section of segmented divider and moves the divider to the other side of the middle lane so that at certain times of the day there is an extra lane of traffic going into the city and at times when there is heavy outgoing traffic, the extra lane goes that way.

Sorry I didn’t get a very good picture of The Zipper, but I had trouble getting the bus driver to slow down so that I could get a good one.   His priorities were a little different than mine … he was more interested in getting us safely through traffic.  Go figure.


FDR Memorial

May 11, 2012

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s memorial is very unique.

This plaque explains that he said, while sitting on his desk, that if a memorial were made to him, he wouldn’t want it any bigger than “this” pointing to his desk.  And for it to just say, “In Memory of ____________________”.

His wishes were followed and resulted in exactly the kind of memorial I think he was envisioning.


History Accompanied

May 8, 2012

I have never lived in a really large city, so I am enchanted by some sights that the locals may not even give a second look.

Like musicians playing on the street for tips.

I asked these guys for permission before taking their pictures … and made a “donation” to encourage their cooperation.

This guy’s very bluesy music reminded me of a New Orleans sound.  And I even thought the painted brick wall behind him and his cool hat added to his New Orleans look.  All-in-all he just looked very organized.

On the other hand, I picture that this guy might have been walking along the street, wondering what he was going to do with his day, when he came upon a supply of buckets and cones.  Then deciding to play a little music to earn a few bucks.  He was making great reggae music with his very temporary-looking drums.  As I watched him I wondered if at any minute a construction worker might walk up and demand his cones and buckets back.

I really enjoyed being in Washington learning about history, but it was made even more special when accompanied by blues or reggae background music (or kites!).


A “young” view

May 3, 2012

Can you guess what these people are doing?  Why they are lying on the ground?

They are getting the right angle for a photo like this one I used in my post about kites.

For just a second I thought maybe I too should lay down on the ground and take that photo, but then I came to my senses and just asked one of them to take the shot with my camera for me.

Age has its perks.

 


A dignified monument’s “fun side”

May 2, 2012


Before my recent trip to Washington, if someone had asked me to describe what I thought of when I thought of the Washington Monument, I think I might have said “dignified” or “awe-inspiring” … but I don’t think I would have ever thought to use the word “fun”!

But now that I’ve seen that impressive monument to our first president in person, I have a little different picture of it in my mind.  Yes, it is still a stately, dignified monument, but I will forever remember the view of it with hundreds of kites flying around it!

All of those little spots in the sky are kites.

It was fun to watch the kites, but also fun to watch the people gathered for the event (Kite Flyers of America Convention?).

The whole area had a Sunday picnic atmosphere.

This colorful kite caught my eye as its owner prepared to fly it.

Almost.

It’s flying!

Then a tree got in the way.  But, fortunately, it was a “non-injury accident” … neither the kite nor the tree was damaged.

When I first saw this guy’s kite I wondered if he was multi-tasking … drying his bed sheets while flying them like a kite at the same time.

But once I saw his kite in the air, I loved how gracefully it floated and forgot all about comparing it to bed sheets.

This kite was very interesting.  I’m not sure what the squiggly thing is supposed to be that appears to be following the kite.  Maybe a snake?

It was so interesting to see all the different shapes, sizes and colors.

I have no idea what this one was supposed to be, but it reminded me of Darth Vadar.

I like the idea that I got to see so much fun activity surrounding this monument.  And I wonder if President Washington wouldn’t enjoy the idea too of citizens enjoying a pretty afternoon having fun around his monument.  I think he might.


A View from History

April 27, 2012

I was a little surprised at how touched I was to be standing in a spot where George Washington probably stood and looking at the same view he would have enjoyed … and what a beautiful, peaceful view it is.

He owned enough land that he would have had innumerable spots he could have chosen to build his house, but I can’t imagine that this wasn’t the clear favorite if nothing else because of the view.

What an admirable and interesting man … and an interesting place.  Maybe when he was fighting a war and then governing a new nation and had to be away from home for long periods of time, his memory of this peaceful home and this beautiful view gave him a few moments of peace.

I’ve just started reading a biography of George Washington.  This visit to his home has made me want to know more about him than what we learned from history books in school.


“Shooting” an oxen … not so easy!

April 23, 2012

As we walked along a wooded path from the Mt. Vernon home to one of the adjoining farms, I heard what sounded like a cow bell and looked around to see where the sound was coming from.

I saw two people leading a pair of oxen along a path that was on a ridge above us.

Glimpses of the oxen were fleeting between trees, so I didn’t get a really clear picture.  What a disappointment.

But, when we arrived at our destination a few minutes later, lo and behold there they were!  But, again, by the time I got my camera ready, they had already passed us, so I only got a shot of their “rear view”.

But luckily a few minutes later they turned around and came toward us again.  This time I was ready … I got the shot.

I know you, like me, probably think of oxen as slow, plodding animals.  But I found this pair particularly quick footed and wily at avoiding having their picture taken.

That is my story and I’m sticking to it.  I refuse to admit that the problem might have been that I was “slower and more plodding” than them!


A Peaceful Resting Place

April 19, 2012

Mt. Vernon looks wonderfully tidy and well-preserved when you tour it today.  But not too long after Martha Washington’s death, when Mt. Vernon had passed to the possession of a nephew, it fell into disrepair.

The story goes that a group of wealthy couples were on a boat going up the Potomac.  But when they passed by Mt. Vernon especially the ladies were shocked that it was so run-down … especially noticeable was that the veranda looking out to the river was falling down and was partially held up by an old boat stood on end.

The result was that the women organized a group that purchased George Washington’s home, restored it, and to this day the society they began is still the owner and conservators of Mt. Vernon.

So today it is beautiful and well-maintained,

including the little brick building that is the tomb of George and Martha Washington.

There were alot of people trying to see into the tomb, so I only got a brief glimpse of inside.

I heard a story while I was there that I think is worth repeating:

During the Civil War, soldiers from both sides would come to Mt. Vernon to pay their respects to George Washington, sometimes at the same time.  So the woman who was then the head of the society that owned Mt. Vernon, made a rule that any soldier coming onto the property must leave his gun at the gate.  A perfect momentary solution that allowed all the soldiers from both sides to pay their respects to the Father of Our Country.

And early on, the soldiers started carving their names in the bricks of the tomb.  Eventually, it wasn’t allowed any more,

but the name John Brown is carved in one of the bricks and the guide said there is reason to believe it is “the” John Brown.  Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia about him:

John Brown (May 9, 1800 – December 2, 1859) was an American revolutionary abolitionist, who in the 1850s advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to abolish slavery in the United States. He led the Pottawatomie Massacre, during which five men were killed, in 1856 in Bleeding Kansas, and made his name in the unsuccessful raid at Harpers Ferry in 1859. Later that year he was executed but his speeches at the trial captured national attention. Brown has been called “the most controversial of all 19th-century Americans”[1]and “America’s first domestic terrorist.”[2]

I find it fascinating to “walk through history” in places like Mt. Vernon, so I’ll have one or two more stories from there and then I’ll move on to our second day in DC.  Just kidding … this was the second day.

Bored yet?  I hope not.