It's About Individual People & Their Stories

Trip Start May 01, 2013
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Trip End May 06, 2013

Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Saturday, May 4, 2013

Usually when I choose a lens for a camera, my preference is for a wide angle or a telephoto. With the wide angle, I get the big picture, the sense of place.  With the telephoto, I focus on something or someone in particular.  And the beauty of a camera is that you have a fraction of a second to capture whatever it is that got your attention.  I try to experience each day in wide angle and telephoto mode. 

We were out late last night and I was too pooped to write in this journal.  It's now 8:10AM on the next morning, and I am giving myself 20 minutes to brain dump impressions from yesterday.  Today is going to be full of more of who knows what!  I want to get yesterday’s impressions into this journal.  So here goes!

It’s all about people.

At breakfast we met a Leek City, Texas couple who work for Nasa and Boeing and also a couple from Oklahoma – the wife learned piano for 10 years and got to the point that she could play for her church.  In our Miami life we wouldn’t meet these folks and it was only for a short time, but a good way to start our day in this international city.

Our host, Raymond, sat down next to Harvey at the breakfast table.  Two characters who have each met their match.  Love their banter.  Raymond offers to drive us to the Renwick Gallery.  He also has a keen interest in fine arts and crafts and he tells us about Chihuli and their original purchases when he and Laura had the desire to meet artists and purchase their work but they didn’t have the money. He’s a really fascinating guy who is an orphan from Lebanon who came to the U.S. to learn English at the age of 16 at a program in Washington. He booked a flight to Washington DC not realizing that he was supposed to go to the state of Washington.  He ended up homeless on Dupont Circle.  His would be a great short story of his life, but all I have time to say right now is that he is a vibrant guy with a sparkle in his eye, a wonderful sense of humor and spirit, and has created with Laura his wife this wonderful B&B and has a specialty construction company.  God bless America!

Alas in the Renwick Gallery of the Folk Arts, no photos are allowed.  We learned about Thomas Day, a freeman slave, who was a furniture maker whose work was in demand in the plantation homes of the south.  The display of many of his pieces showed the seeds of the art deco time period pieces – and many of Day’s pieces would be right at home in a Miami Beach art deco hotel lobby.   Here’s information about Thomas Day:  http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2013/day/

In another room was a Sam Maloof chair – many years ago, Harvey and I purchased two rocking chairs from a student of his.  We watched a video with an interview of Sam Maloof – here is a link to learn more of him (I’m running out of my 20 minutes) http://www.si.edu/Exhibitions/Details/The-Furniture-of-Sam-Maloof-1027.  And then there was this artist who told about his life in a furniture piece called a Bureau of Bureaucracy – http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/aroundthemall/2010/08/step-into-the-bureau-of-bureaucracy-at-the-renwick-gallery/

We took two tours in the National Portrait Gallery.  Each docent had chosen different people to highlight and even when there was an overlap, the story had different facets.    The backstories of these presidents for example – that’s what was fascinating - how do you sum up a life in a paragraph?  There was also a special exhibit of portraits done by contemporary artists – I took one photo before being told by the guard "no photos".  At least, I have one.  We breezed through the American Art wing of grand landscapes and scultpture -  and I realized how much better schooled I am in European than American art.  I found a few artists I want to learn more about….I took a few photos so I have their names.

As we walked on the street at around 6 PM, the temperature had started to come down.  We’re bundled up and Harvey commented how fortunate we are. Just at that time, we noticed that homeless men were staking out their territory for the evening.  Some over metro vents where warm air was circulating.  There was one man who was lying down on his back with the palms of his hands together in prayer – he made an impish smile and Harvey and he locked on their eyes and Harvey raised his hand to wave.  My natural impulse was to look a way and I admire that Harvey acknowledged this man as an individual and for that brief moment connected human to human.

At 6:30PM we were supposed to meet old friends from our computer business lives, but we got word that they were stuck in traffic driving from Baltimore.  We hung outside and watched the shoe shine guy try to grab new customers and a group of people coming to the restaurant with the women all dressed up with brightly colored dresses and hats that added an extra bit of style – at least two couples looked like they had color coordinated their outfits.  They all looked like they were celebrating something and there was a lively energy in the air.  Funny how you can pick these things up.  We went inside to see if we could find a spot at the bar – I walked up to a young man and asked if the two seats next to him were taken – he said only one was available – but maybe it was my grey hair – he said that we needed the chairs more than him – and he offered his – this is one of those times that I didn’t object to being judged by my age and welcomed that stool.  It turns out there were three brothers who chose to come to Washington DC to spend some time with each other.  It was fun talking with them while we were waiting for our friends.

Our friends made it through 2 hours of traffic to our restaurant –and we just reminisced and caught up on our lives since we had seen each other last – maybe 5 or more years ago, none of us could remember for sure.  And so we ended the day renewing friendships from our past.
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