Posts Tagged ‘George Washington’

 

The Soup Bowl

07 Welcome to Washington DCLinda Burton posting from Washington, DC – I call it “DC.” When I lived in Seattle if you said “Washington” folks thought you were referring to the state; Washington DC is considered the “other Washington” there. But I’m on the east coast today, easing into “the District” from Maryland and headed for the US Capitol, an icing-on-the cake post-stop in the Journey Across America. The majestic dome loomed tall as I approached; I circled in confusion and landed a parking spot on the other side. The Washington Monument was a few blocks to my right, covered in scaffolding due to earthquake repair. I coaxed the cats to the window to 07 capitol aheadlook; then tied my red wool scarf tight around my head before stepping out into the wind. Not a day for sightseeing. But people were out; a Chinese chorus was performing across the street; cameras were in evidence in every hand. Washington, DC! What is so special about this place? Why do 19 million visitors come every year? It’s exciting, and vibrant, that’s why; a bubbling soup bowl brimming with a little bit of everything. The resident population is 601,723 (US Census 2010), but that jumps to a million throughout the workweek; commuters pour in from the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. After all, the centers of all three branches of the federal government are 07 car and capitolhere – the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court. Flags from all over the world fly here; count 176 foreign embassies. The headquarters of international organizations, trade unions, non-profits, and lobbying groups are here. There are more museums here than you could visit in a year; 19 within the Smithsonian alone. The architecture, park spaces, and memorials are stunning. You’ll find both inspiration and controversy here; it’s all in the soup. » read more

 
 
 

Staying Alive And The Final Five

06 12 days of christmas treeLinda Burton posting from Annapolis, Maryland – Psychologically we love countdowns. We count down the twelve days till Christmas. We countdown rocket launches, till we arrive at blastoff, or the mission is scrubbed. We countdown the Final Four in basketball every spring, when the world of college sports reaches fever pitch. I counted down the days in the month before my 16th birthday; I was on pins and needles to get my driver license; something everyone in my little town did back in the 50s when all the cars had fins and all the girls wore bobby socks. The year I went to Antarctica – that was 2005 – I counted off the weeks till my Seattle departure at Pagliacci Pizza. I happened to go for a Friday 06 pizza logonight pizza at the 17-week point and noticed they had 17 pizzas on their menu. “Aha,” I thought, “if I begin with the Original, when I get to the Verde Primo it will be time to fly to South America.” I called for grandson help on big-meat pizza nights; Matthew for Spicy Pepperoni; Andrew for Extra Pepperoni; both of them on Grand Salami Primo night. The AGOG was my favorite – mushrooms, roasted garlic, Kalamata olives, goat cheese, Fontina, Mozzarella and parsley over olive oil; fresh tomato slices added after the bake. The journey through the Pagliacci menu 06 Alex on suitcasewas an experience; I developed new tastes, and learned some things I didn’t know before. I dealt with whatever came next; I adapted as needed. You know where I’m going with that thought. Annapolis finishes the countdown through the Final Five; the Journey Across America is 100% complete. This mission wasn’t scrubbed; we made it all the way (adapting as needed) – the Scion, the cats, and me. We’re travelworn and frazzled, but completely AGOG with success. » read more

 
 
 

By George

29 cupolaLinda Burton posting from Annapolis, Maryland – Before you read this post, look at the column to the right. On the dark blue background is a list of capital cities. Count them. You will find 50 capital cities listed now, because at 2:26 PM today, the cats and I arrived in Annapolis, capital city #50 on the Journey Across America. By George, we made it! I parked in front of the Robert Johnson building on the tight little circle street that surrounds the Maryland State House, and jumped out to record the moment with pictures. When I got back Jack was sitting on top of his carrier, 29 car by capitolwatching people walk by on the sidewalks of Annapolis; Alex was perched like a king on his pillow, unimpressed. “Do you think you’re King George?” I laughed. “You don’t want to acknowledge the feisty colonists?” It felt as though King George could be lurking around the corner; if, that is, King George had ever left England, and, if there weren’t so many 21st-century automobiles crowding the narrow brick-paved streets. We were in what is officially named the “Colonial Annapolis Historic District,” where 18th-century buildings remain much as they were when built. To my left the Maryland State House occupies the city’s highest hill; from that point all streets radiate outward; dropping down towards the 29 capitol approachwaterfront; leading in the other direction towards the countryside. One thing is clear; when this city was laid out, it was intended that all roads lead to the focal point of government – the Maryland State House, the “oldest in the nation still in legislative use” as it so proudly claims. And here the presence of our most beloved “George” remains – George Washington, of course. “This is a living history book,” I said to the cats. “It comes together here.” » read more

 
 
 

Sophisticated Simplicity

15 washington rotundaLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – If you want to know what George Washington really looked like, go to the Virginia state capitol. Centered in the rotunda against the simplicity of a formal backdrop of black and white stands a life-size statue of Washington, considered by his contemporaries to be “a perfect likeness.” It was June 1784 when the Virginia General Assembly commissioned the statue to be made; Thomas Jefferson, on a diplomatic mission in France, secured the services of French artist Jean-Antoine Houdon for the work. Houdon didn’t guess at his task; in the fall of 1785 he traveled to Mount Vernon to study his subject. He made a plaster mask of Washington’s head and took detailed measurements of his body; from this he modeled a terra cotta bust to take back to his workshop in France. 15 washington cThe resulting statue, carved of Carrara marble, was shipped to America in 1796 and has graced the capitol’s rotunda since. It is considered to be Virginia’s greatest treasure and one of the world’s finest portrait sculptures; it is the only full-length statue for which the first President posed. Although Washington’s sword is by his side and he wears his Revolutionary uniform, he 15 statue and rotundacarries a civilian walking cane and stands over a plough; Houdon sought to show the balance between Washington’s life as a soldier, statesman, and private citizen. In the niches of the rotunda are busts of other Virginia-born presidents who succeeded Washington – Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, and Wilson – and another work by Houdon; that of LaFayette, the French citizen who was a Major General in service to the United States during the Revolutionary War. But more about the rotunda itself, a magnificent two-story space capped by a dome; a dome that is invisible from the outside. » read more

 
 
 

Sunday in the Park with George

03 sunday parkLinda Burton posting from Raleigh, North Carolina – Stephen Sondheim (b 1930) is an accomplished American composer best known for his contributions to musical theater. In 1984 he and James Lapine put together a Broadway production called Sunday in the Park with George. It opened to mixed reviews, but in the end, wound up winning a Pulitzer Prize for drama, two Tony Awards for design, the 1991 Olivier Award for Best Musical, and the 2007 Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production. The play was inspired by a painting called A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, done by George Seurat (1859-1891), a French Post-Impressionist painter. It took George two years to complete this 10-foot-wide piece that shows members of different social classes participating in various 03 george 5park activities on a Sunday afternoon; he devised an innovative technique for it called “pointillism,” using tiny juxtaposed dots of color, rather than physically blending the colors on canvas. Very different in its day, and as you might guess, the painting “opened to mixed reviews;” today however it is recognized as a work that altered the direction of modern art. So what does this have to do with Raleigh, North Carolina? I’m about to tell you the story of Antonio Canova (1757-1822), an Italian sculptor, and the controversial statue he did of George Washington (1732-1799) that sits in the rotunda of the North Carolina capitol today. It wasn’t meant to be controversial, of course, and what you see today isn’t what Canova did in 1820; but, well, I’d better start from the beginning to explain. » read more

 
 
 

Uncles and Aunts

Uncle Rick talking with Nephew Sam

Linda Burton posting from Edmonds, Washington while traveling between Juneau, Alaska and Helena, Montana – This post is a bit of a stretch, capital-city wise. But I am in Washington state and it is the only state named after a president (although we know for sure George Washington never slept here!). I was thinking about George’s relatives today, because I spent the afternoon with some of mine. With all the stories I have heard about our first president, I never learned about his relatives. Did he have any kids? Or nieces and nephews? A little research tonight led me to the answer; turns out George has often been referred to as “First Uncle.” George didn’t have any children of his own, but he was step-father to Martha Dandridge Custis’ two children, Jacky and Patsy, only four and two when George and Martha married. George had two half-brothers, three brothers, and a sister; he wound up with a number of nieces and nephews too. And since George outlived all his siblings, it follows that he wound up with responsibilities towards their children. » read more

 
 
 

Marcus Whitman, Missionary Doctor

Linda Burton posting from Olympia, Washington – We saw a lot of faces today. Faces of capitol visitors like ourselves, and faces of history, in bronze statues and busts both inside and out, in renderings of the face of George Washington in the shining state seal and on banners furled from balconies, in portraits of former governors hanging on the wall of the Governors Office, and even on the magnificent Tiffany chandelier hanging in the rotunda. But at the end of the day one face and one story in particular stood out. We aimed for an on-the-hour tour – son Rick, grandkids Andrew and Kayla, and me – and arrived just as a bus-load of Japanese students on a summer study program came in. We began clicking cameras at the same time; the Tour Volunteer manning the front desk stepped up to sort us out for Japanese or English-speaking guides. Above the fray I spotted a hale and hearty looking figure; a statue in bronze who appeared to be looking across the room and beyond. I walked over and read the name inscribed across the bottom: Marcus Whitman. His story is one of good intent, with a tragic ending. Listen. » read more