Thursday, March 26, 2015

Gilgamesh -- A New English Translation by Stephen Mitchell

I recently borrowed the audiobook version of Gilgamesh -- A New English Translation by Stephen Mitchell from our local library. I was somewhat familiar with the story, but had never actually read, or in this case heard, the whole thing before. It was written about 1700 BC, but only discovered in modern times in 1853. It is accompanied by an essay about the story by Mr. Mitchell. It is definitely not kid friendly.

Natural History and Pizza

I really didn't take many pictures in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural Science, but I made sure to get one of the main hall with the elephant.

Sarah is anxious about the triceratops lurking behind her.
Our parking spot was near this statue of Abraham Lincoln in from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Aunt Joan hosted a gathering at her house featuring Ledo Pizza, a local favorite. Pictured from left to right are my cousins David, George, Andrew and Andrea, George's daughter.
We had a good turnout of the next generation of the Powell side of the family. Here, from left to right, are Sherry, Aunt Joan, Kelle, Andrea, Matthew and Sarah. The last four are second cousins. Kelle and Matthew are my cousin Elena's children. Elena lived most of her life in the Washington area, but moved to Georgia, where she attended law school, several years ago. Kelle lives in Nashville, and we got together with her for a meal there not too long ago.

Aunt Joan and Sherry take a spin through a photo album. We had a great evening, and are looking forward to seeing our kinfolk again this summer at our next family reunion in West Jefferson, North Carolina.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Washington's Saint Patrick's Day Parade

It was David's turn to drive us around Washington on Sunday, and at Sarah's request we headed to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. We parked near this statue of the great Chief Justice John Marshall, so I commenced explaining judicial review to Sarah. I don't think she got it.
Frankly, the child was much more interested in clowning around with these two guys.
As we approached the museum, we saw a big group of people on the steps in front of the National Archives building and realized we had happened upon the city's Saint Patrick's Day Parade.
We decided to watch a bit of the parade, and we walked through another sculpture garden to get out to Constitution Avenue.

Mounted police officers prepare to enter the main parade route along Constitution Avenue.
The fire department had quite an impressive assembly of equipment, and also a bagpipe brigade.
We watched the parade for about half an hour, and it was enough time for Sarah to collect some of the candy and beads they were tossing to the crowd. We then made our way into the museum, and by the time we were through it the parade was over.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Family and Friends in Washington

On the day Andrew was chauffeuring us around Washington, he took us to this sculpture garden. Sherry particularly liked this rabbit.
We saw plenty of construction equipment and workers in various places all around the mall.
Anybody who has watched any national news in the past few months is aware that the Capitol dome is covered in scaffolding as it is being repaired. I took several pictures of it as we drove around that area.
As one might expect, our nation's capital is filled with statuary, including this sculpture of Daniel Webster.
David and Margaret live in the home Margaret grew up in, and one of the focal points of the home is its large dining room table, where the family congregates for meals and games. We played several different card and board games while we were there. My personal favorite was Pirate Fluxx, a card game that requires one to talk like a pirate at various points during the game. Arrrgh!
I pose flanked by Andrew to my right and David to my left. As kids, David's hand-me-downs came to me, and then I returned them to Andrew a year later.
After dinner discussion ensues in the Albamonte dining hall.
Andrew and Sarah consult the computer.
Craig, a childhood friend of mine, also lives in the Washington, D.C., area, and he and his wife Lucile drove to David and Margaret's house to visit with us. Craig and I have been friends since I was eleven (Sarah's age) and he was twelve. In junior high and high school he was a jock, and I was a little, tubby, geeky kid who got picked on a lot. Craig kept the bullies at bay, for which I have been forever grateful.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Walkabout Continues on the National Mall

As part of the forced march tour of the National Mall I inflicted on Sherry and Sarah our first day in Washington, we visited the Lincoln Memorial. By the day ended, Sherry's feet were blistered, and Sarah had a headache. I broke my womenfolk.
Sherry declined to climb the steps to go inside the building, but Sarah and I did so I could get this shot of the big guy on his throne.
Near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was a small portable building that was headquarters for a group raising money for the laudable purpose of establishing an interpretive center for that memorial. Being a U.S. Constitution geek, I was perplexed by this sign saying that Jefferson "Gave us the Constitution." Jefferson was American Minister to France and was in Paris during the Constitutional Convention and did not leave until late in 1789, after most states' ratifying conventions had concluded. In fact, he managed to hinder Madison a bit in getting the Constitution ratified in Virginia all the way from Paris. Jefferson, of course, was principal drafter of the Declaration of Independence.
As we made our way back across the National Mall, we saw a crowd of people watching the White House, where a helicopter was sitting on the lawn. After a couple of minutes three helicopters with paint jobs like Marine One took off from the White House grounds.

Our cousin Andrew took off from work on one of the days we were in town, and he offered to drive us around. We hadn't planned on visiting the Smithsonian Air and Space museum, but we lucked into a parking spot right across the street from it, so we spent an hour or so wandering around it.
The Wright Brothers Airplane
The Hindenburg
Sarah tried on a lot of hats in various gift stores during our visit.
As a kid I was fascinated by the Apollo space program, and probably a little worried about what I later knew as the Cold War. I remember asking my parents why the Russians hated us, and wondering if they were normal people that loved their families like we do. Perhaps that is why I was particularly interested in the Apollo-Soyuz space mission. The astronauts and cosmonauts docked their respective vehicles in space, a feat never accomplished before. It was a hopeful moment in history.
Andrew, Sherry and Sarah pose in front of a lunar lander.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Morning

We were pleased to get a chance to catch up with Mom and my sisters after our recent spring break trip. Leslie came over with Grace on Friday, and we had lunch with her at Calhoun's, after which she took the girls bowling. We got to visit a bit more with her when she dropped Sarah off, and she got to see our Washington pictures and hear our tales.

Laura, Grace and Mom came over for lunch yesterday, so we grilled pork chops and made Bodacious Broccoli Salad. Mom has her birthday coming up, and she asked for a batch of Ron's Spaghetti Sauce, so I made a big batch of it for her to take home with her. We also made us a batch of Santa Fe Soup, so our kitchen saw some serious activity after being dormant for a while.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Break in Washington, D.C.

We recently paid a spring break visit to our cousins in Washington, D.C. We arrived via Megabus from Knoxville, and our cousins David and Margaret picked us up at Union Station. They showed us wonderful hospitality, fed us well, ran us around town and let us stay at their house. Thanks, cousins! This was Sarah's first trip to Washington, and we were all excited about touring the memorials and museums.
David and Margaret's house is within the Washington city limits, but the Metro stop for Silver Spring, Maryland, is about a mile and a half from their house. Unless we had cousins hauling us around, we rode the Metro, except we rode the bus one time to the National Zoo.
One of the items on Sherry's list to see was Ford's Theater, where President Lincoln was assassinated. We were disappointed to learn that you cannot tour the theater, but only a small museum downstairs. The theater houses an active theater company, so I suspect that's why it is off limits to tourists.
Across the street from Ford's Theater is the house where Lincoln died. We did not tour it because several busloads of other tourists were in line for it, and we didn't want to wait.
From Ford's, we went down Pennsylvania Avenue to view the White House, which was quite lovely on a sunny and clear morning.
As good Tennesseans we walked over to Lafayette Square to pay our respects to General Jackson. There are identical statues on Capitol Hill in Nashville and on Jackson Square in New Orleans.
This is the national headquarters of the American Red Cross, where I attended a nationwide conference of local Red Cross chapter directors and chairs in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. (I was chairman of the Board of Directors of the Blount County Chapter.) As we walked by the building, I remembered how surreal my being at that meeting seemed at the time.

Sherry and I had been dating six months, and she flew from Nashville to meet me in Washington during my trip. This trip is the first time we've been back since.
In the 1800's Constitution Avenue was a canal connecting the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, and this building was the lockkeeper's house.
We made sure to visit the World War II Memorial for the first time. It is a moving and beautiful tribute to the brave generation who lived through that terrible war.
There is a lot of work going on around the National Mall right now, and we were somewhat aware of that from a webcam we'd found online. The reflecting pool has been drained, and crews were working on the surface of the bottom of it.

Friday, March 20, 2015

First Day of Spring

Today is the vernal equinox and the first day of spring. I'm ready for some camping, and my favorite campground is open this year after being closed last year.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Death of La Salle

French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier sieur de La Salle was killed by his own men on March 19, 1687, near the Brazos River in what is now Texas.  He explored much of North America and claimed a large portion he named Louisiana, for King Louis XIV, for France.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Blueberry Muffins

We like blueberry muffins at our house, but we generally make them from a box, not from scratch.  I found a scratch recipe that sounds good at Coconut & Lime.  Maybe we'll get brave and try it sometime.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Saint Patrick's Day

Today is Saint Patrick's Day.  It is also the seventh anniversary of our moving into our present home and the eighth anniversary of our move from Nashville to Maryville.