Musings

Two coppers, two branches

Potomac fog

From the train, we could see fog wafting up from the Potomac and that the ice floes were visibly reduced compared to yesterday. By day’s-end we carried our heavy coats in temps that almost reached 70°F, and on our return trip there was still fog and the floes had become chips (almost).

Temperance fountain

Leaving the subway station, we walked by this Temperance Fountain. Am I the only one to find it ironic that the city cut off the water quite some time ago, so that the water sponsor Henry D. Cogswell hoped would slake the thirst of potential liquor-drinkers was no longer supplied? And when the monument was relocated in 1987, it still wasn’t reconnected. Of course, the overflow was no longer needed for a horse trough, either!

GM blooper

At one of my first stops in the Newseum, I discovered blooper-tiles in the ladies with headlines you probably don’t remember.

Nixon resigns

This one, however, you may well remember.

First Declaration

I also learned that this thrice-weekly got the scoop over the weeklies when the Declaration of Independence was signed. This was still two days after the signing…. Only nineteen copies of this historic front-page survive.

Capitol on hill

After lunch the overcast had thinned and we climbed Capitol Hill. And it is a hill. The visitor center is on the other side; we looped to the left, climbed, then descended to the VC entrance.

SenateView

We took the next tour, which focused on frescoes by Constantino Brumidi (he began them in 1855). During the tour, we got a chance to see the views to the west, down the mall toward the Washington Monument.

Senate hallways

We saw glorious Brumidi frescoes in Senate hallways, although his best-known work in the Capitol building is the ceiling of the rotunda. Brumidi was paid a substantial $10 per day, which covered his assistant and their supplies, with Brumidi taking about half. He augmented this salary by doing outside commissions. He did most of the ceilings, leaving the walls to his assistant, our guide said.

If you can tell the lower part of the left wall is darker, it is because restorers have left overpainting to show how the original work was obscured. The restoration was finished on this hallway about two years ago, and removed tobacco-smoke stains along with layers of added paint.

Supreme Court

Leaving the Capitol we crossed to our enjoy the façade of the Supreme Court, also looming over DC on Capitol Hill. To help your eye with the scale, I’d estimate that the “normal” door opening is about 1/5th the height of the doorway in the stone.

LOC Court of Neptune Fountain

On our way back to catch our return train, we passed in front of the Library of Congress, and saw more Classical-inspired artwork that was installed in 1898 beneath the monumental staircase leading to the main, formal building entrance. The central bronze is Neptune flanked by his two sons and accompanied by a large frog and coiling sea-snakes(?). This composition is in turn flanked by a pair of Naiads/Nereids—sea nymphs; only the south one shown here. You don’t have to look closely to observe that sculptor Roland Hinton Perry was inspired by the Trevi Fountain figures.

Another fantastic and fascinating DC day!

Three museums, one day

Vermeer viewing

At the National Gallery this morning, we saw a buncha lovely paintings by Johannes Reijniersz Vermeer and those by (roughly) contemporaries/friends/competitors of his of similar subjects—very interesting comparative material from long ago in the mid- to late-1600s, also known as the Dutch Golden Age. One thing I found interesting: the painting titles did not generally name the person or persons portrayed (and they are usually unknown now), which seems to have been the original custom. I also learned that these painters sometimes used a tinted glaze over paint to achieve certain colors, and now that glaze has lost its ability to make that color shift; thus, a green parrot is now a nice grey-blue, beautiful, but quite different from a brilliant tropical green.

Old george

Moving on, we saw several paintings of famous dead white American men. Gilbert Stuart painted this famous 1821 portrait of George Washington from an earlier portrait he did when George was still alive. Washington paintings were a big business for Stuart—he painted over one hundred of them, most modeled on his 1796 original.

Renoir gal foot

I had a textured print on cardboard copy of this painting in my room when I was growing up. I rested my foot (elevated) while gazing at this Renoir.

Delacroix tiger snake

Totally different subject: Delacroix takes on tiger-and-snake relations (spats?).

Constant winsome gal

In another room, Constant painted a Mediterranean babe.

Enterprise lit up

Over at Air and Space, we saw this original Enterprise model, freshly updated with LEDs, which are turned on for ten minutes only three times each day…. It’s in a prized location in the lobby…

Space mural

…next to a giant space mural, of which this is a small, yet impressive corner.

Silver chicha jar

Over at NMAI we saw a special exhibit on the Inca. This is a silver alloy jar for chicha, a fermented drink (“beer”) usually made from maize, with lovely corncob-legs and a human face. Maybe it makes the rather thick chicha more palatable?

Rope bridge

Of course, the Inca were masters of fibers, making rope bridges across sizable chasms…

Complex khipu

…and creating delicate knotted cords to register transactions and generate administrative records.

Remains and shadows

Rotten snow

At our Iron Horse themed dinner stop, I found several remaining bits of rotten snow, clear indication that we are in a different world.

Blue cocktail

Following an otherwise unplumbed urge, I tried a pewter blue cocktail. A bit citrus-y. Okay. No need to do it again, however.

Man catches Amtrak

Continuing the theme, man catches Amtrak—maybe not the way you’re thinking, however…. Love the signal-shadow.

Sneak peek

Garden view

I went out today and discovered I was overdressed. So pleasant! I managed to tough it out 😎. I went up a little-used, unpaved alley and got this peek into a backyard. Very jealous of the painted ball and enjoyed the serenity of the staging.

Too secco

Fruit secco

At the sto’ to get milk, we wandered into the wine section, and I discovered some fruity-bubbly leftovers from New Year’s. I guess even the flavored-vodka set couldn’t get into these flavors of champagne-like toasting liquid.

And we passed up both versions, too. Hah!

The line-up

Go dawgs snowpeople

Lotsa events talk around here…pick a sport or entertainer, and so many have an Atlanta association….

BTW, the snow-bears have the odds in this group 3:2:2:1. Go bears!

High-altitude parasites

Mistletoe hence oaktree

On our wander today, we made it to the BeltLine for a short block or so, then back, a simple loop that was really an elongated rectangle. Somewhere along the way I spotted a twisty-trunked tree festooned with mistletoe that nobody harvested last month. It was a really tall tree, which would make downing the mistletoe difficult, but I bet the real reason there’s so much there is that no one harvested much mistletoe here in the city.

Kitchen science

Kitchen science

Found this on my counter late this afternoon…. We’ve had several padded mailing envelopes arrive in the last few days, apparently bringing this chip and other techno-bits. I’m told this doo-jiggie reports temperature (in F), humidity, barometric pressure. All for well under $20 (I’m told).

Yeah, we keep our house pretty chilly.

Sunny, thankfully

Tree silhouettes

It certainly is strange weather when Tallahassee and Savannah and Charleston get snow, and we in ATL get cold, yes, and wind, yes, but no white stuff.

Crystal Critter world

Patio lights

We had a movie date today. Star Wars, of course. Loud. Violent. A few good…lines and moments of acting. The red-uniformed troops were new to me; where do they go, though, when white and black are taken? And scruffy.