vamysteryfan: (butterfly)
Police are now saying that two shooters killed four people and wounded perhaps ten others at the Washington Navy Yard in Southeast DC. The Navy Yard is quite a big complex. The main gate is at the foot of 8th and M Streets, SE in the white building. If you've seen anything on TV, the bright blue "castle" is a former streetcar barn, now a charter school. It sits directly across from the main gates.

8th and M Streets SE

The actual shootings took place about three blocks to the right/west, inside the complex which is surrounded by brick walls. It's not easily accessible by outsiders.

Obviously there's still a lot to learn but my heart goes out to the families.
vamysteryfan: (Default)
This weekend, the European Union embassies were open. The weather was a little gray and drizzly. I decided to visit a couple that were a little off the beaten track. First up was the House of Sweden in Georgetown just off the Potomac River.

As you might expect it was very sleek. It took full advantage of its location, with floor to celining windows and lots of water features. The views from the rooftop were spectacular.

Potomac River from Watergate to Kennedy Center to Memorial Bridge to Key Bridge )

They had a photobooth where you could dress up as a Viking, Pippi Longstocking or a few other characters. When I get a chance I'll scan that in. They also gave away a sampler CD with different kinds of Swedish artists on it. I'm enjoying it.

Then I headed over to the French Embassy, which is way up there in Upper Northwest. Germany and France were doing a joint open house. It was packed! Lots of nice music, kids could get their faces painted, snacks, and displays. I had my picture taken in front of an Eiffel Tower backdrop. I'll scan that one in too.

My last stop was the European Union headquarters. I won a trivia contest and got a cute t-shirt. They had a photobooth too (it seemed the popular souvenir of the day).

Me with the Ireland background )

Another Only in DC kind of day :)
vamysteryfan: (Default)
I had a fun weekend. Sister 9 and I went to the open house day for embassies in the District. We went to Australia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, and Japan. I always enjoy the day. There's usually dancing, food, and artworks to admire. Everyone pushes visitor information.

Australia was fun. They kept bringing snacks of cheese, lamb and beef, and Vegemite around. As you walked in, they had a Maori playing the didgeridoo. They had a number of Australian military representatives there and some photos from Afghanistan. On the way out they were offering lamingtons (sp?), little sponge cakes dipped in chocolate and coconut. Yummy!

Australia )

I'd seen the outside of the Kazakhstan embassy during last year's 16th Street walking tour so I was keen to see the inside. Beautiful wood moldings and the ceilings had a raised plaster decoration of leaves. Very pretty. Many of the walls sported various edged weapons. There was also a display of jewelry and artworks.

Kazakhstan )

On the way to the next place we passed the Peruvian flutists having a battle of the bands with Trinidad and Tobago drummers. Interesting combo. A little farther down the street the Chilean Embassy was piping music outside.

I also wanted to see the Indonesia Embassy as it had been owned by one of the richest families around when it was first built. Evelyn McLean owned the Hope Diamond for a while. The building was modeled after an Italian palazzo and has gorgeous woodwork. The inner courtyard rose four stories and was topped with lovely stained glass.

Indonesia )

Sister 9 was keen to see the Japanese embassy. It was an interesting mix of tradition and techno. They had the best food - chicken, vanilla ice cream encased in a thin cake shell and freshly roasted edamame. They also had the creepiest exhibit, a room with two robots in it. One lifesized robot was extremely realistic. It blinked and changed expressions. The other was a robot baby. Not realistic but it could talk and move a little. It responded to your voice. It asked for a hug and when I did it hugged me back. Wild!

Japan )

Across the street we spotted this rather odd sculpture on a house. It looked like someone was climbing the wall.

Street sculpture

Next weekend the European Union embassies open their doors. We'll probably try that.
vamysteryfan: (Default)
I took photos of a bunch of presidential sites, inspired by an article in the local paper. They really liked the photos. There's going to be a short article and they sent me a coffee cup as swag.
inauguration

Here's the link to my Haul of Presidents http://flic.kr/s/aHsjDQ33JS
vamysteryfan: (Default)
Here's my Haul of Presidents http://flic.kr/s/aHsjDQ33JS

For Inauguration Day, a local paper put together a list of sites associated with each president. I've added some thoughts and improvements. It might spark some ideas if you ever visit Washington DC. And really, I just had fun putting it all together.
vamysteryfan: (Default)
Last Monday, the Library of Congress held its biannual open house. It's one of only two days a year when they allow photography in the Reading Room. I had a great time. The Library is gorgeous - very ornate. I've been to a couple of lectures there but it was nice to see more of it. They had a small tour of the old card catalog. They haven't added cards to it since 1980 and they still have over 22 million. http://flic.kr/s/aHsjE3Bpax

The entry to the Reading Room passes under a mural called good government. Off to the left are murals for bad government, including crumbling infrastructure and corruption. Those guys knew a thing or two back in the 1800s.
vamysteryfan: (Default)
This is amazing! One billion pixel picture of the inauguration audience. It is zoomable enough to tag people for Facebook http://tinyurl.com/apk4kv5 I had fun playing around with it and it is indeed clear enough to see people's faces pretty far back.
vamysteryfan: (Default)
Because I am twelve.

There are porta-potties all over the streets of DC. Seriously, they are everywhere. On street corners, parks, everywhere. There was a huge bunch of them lined up at Navy Memorial-Archives behind portable barriers, I guess waiting to be deployed. It looked really strange, like they were being held prisoner.

potties

Once you are inside the security zone on Monday, you won't be able to leave, so people will be glad of them no matter how cold it is.
vamysteryfan: (Default)
DC is dressing up and battening down for the Inauguration. They've installed temporary cell phone towers on the Mall to help with the expected massive tweeting and cellphone call volume. Along the parade route, they've started removing the newspaper boxes and sealing manhole covers. The Newseum is dressed up already.

newseum

On Sunday, they held a rehearsal for the parade. At the Capitol they played recorded music and practiced the introductions. The bands were absent, but they timed the parade and check security. It was a foggy morning.

misty capitol

More This Way )

One nutty thing. For the past 15 months they've been resodding and repairing the grassy part of the Mall near the Capitol. The fences are coming down just in time for the inauguration. One part of the restored section will be protected, but another part will be opened up just in time to be trampled by the crowds. Dumb.
vamysteryfan: (Default)
A visit to Congressional Cemetery. It was pretty gray and gloomy on Saturday afternoon when I was there but very peaceful. If you stand at the right spots, there's no trace of the highways or surrounding buildings. Founded in 1807, it's best known for the graves of Sousa and Hoover. Except for standard tablets, there are more obelisks than any other memorial. There are 171 cenotaphs commemorating senators and representatives who died in office but only 59 are actually buried here. A number of people related to the Lincoln assassination are buried here as well.

It was so gray, I did play with enhancements a little :)

Maidens and Memorials )

And all the stone angels made me think of Doctor Who. That part was creepy.
vamysteryfan: (Default)
I had a wonderful time visiting the Mid City Artists Fall Open Studios. The weather was gorgeous - perfect for walking around. Some of the studios were in the artists' homes. In other places, the artists had clubbed together and rented joint space. They were all quite welcoming and patient with questions. I asked the artists to pick a piece to pose near for a photo. They very kindly indulged me.

MidCity Fall Open Studios )

My knees were tired and my brain had a lot to absorb. I only made it to about half the studios. Fortunately, they do the open studios twice a year. I'll definitely do it again.

And just for fun - don't you just love this postbox?

vamysteryfan: (Default)
One thing I've learned from these walking tours is to pay attention to small architectural details. They can date a building or tell their own stories. I spend a lot more time looking up these days.

Eighth Street SE is the oldest commercial corridor in the District. It was designed by L'Enfant in 1791 to connect the newly established port of Washington to the Capitol (under construction in 1792). We started at Eastern Market Metro.

image-heavy look at DC history through buildings )

Eighth Street has gotten trendier. Lots of restaurants and bars. I liked this building because it was an oyster restaurant back in its day and was recently revived. You can still see traces of an old advertising mural painted on the side.



So visit me in summertime and we'll spend a Friday evening hitting Barracks Row hotspots and watching the Evening Parade.
vamysteryfan: (Default)
Last week I went on several walking tours around DC, courtesy of DC Cultural Tourism. You know how much I like to share what's best about DC, so I'll be posting a few photos (as a preview for where I'll take you when you visit!).

Canal Park is being built atop part of the old Washington Canal, a waterway that once linked the Anacostia River to the canal that ran where Constitution Avenue is now. The new three-block long park reflects the old canal, but it's also one of DC's "greenest" building
projects. My hard-hat tour went behind the scenes at the park's rain and sculpture gardens, skating rink, performance venue, and restaurants were being assembled before our eyes. We were lucky enough to have the project's Executive Director Chris VanArsdale as our guide.

We started at the Capitol BID office where we could see some of the architect's drawings, look at a model, and also get an aerial view of the project.
image-heavy, see more )

The rain garden will take rain and snow runoff and keep it from overloading the local sewer system. Three-quarters of the project is actually underground. These photos show the rain gardens under construction.

almost done to just begun )

Chris told us of finding a ten-foot concrete berm running up L Street from the Navy Yard to who knows where. They decided to leave it alone and rerouted their pipes. There were also some rather odd solid concrete blocks that were eventually removed. Sounded very National Treasure to me.

This will be a skating rink and eatery in two months!
Actually I took the tour because I wanted to wear a hardhat )
vamysteryfan: (Default)
I had a really nice art-oriented weekend.

The Corcoran Museum has an eclectic collection. It is one of the few DC museums that charge admission but it's free on Saturdays this month. I started out looked at a special exhibition from Richard Diebenkorn called the Ocean Park Series. They are abstracts but with very beachy colors. More info about the exhibit and the artist from the museum. I also wandered into a performance presentation. Kathryn Cornelius, Save The Date. As described by the Corcoran "This performance explores the life cycle of marriage and divorce, and the wedding ceremony’s complex mix of private emotion, public spectacle, social expectation, and state power." Museumgoers acted as the congregation and wedding guests. It was kind of wacky but fun. People were dancing!

I walked past the National Women's Art Museum. They replaced the exuberant dancers with these rather gloomy, spiky abstracts. Not such an enjoyable change to the cityscape.





The best was the last: an exhibit by a photojournalist who takes photos of abandoned military bases around the US. There's an awful lot of abandoned military material and land around the country. The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop had a fascinating display of his photos. Some of them can be seen here/ I had a nice conversation with the photographer and some other attendees about equipment and inspiration. Making the film is becoming a niche market.

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