Oh say can you see

Fireworks over Baltimore, Star Spangled Banner 200 years

Yes… we did. We went to a local park, stood out in a field in the dark, and watched as the fireworks display went off in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, as well as right by the fort (there were 5 places where fireworks were being set off in the Chesapeake). It looked like the War of 1812 was starting all over again. But last weekend was the celebration for Francis Scott Key’s famous words after the famous bombardment of Fort McHenry. The fireworks included a spectacular set of fireworks that made up the image of our flag in the sky.

Hurrah for 200 years! Music and video still live on a local news station here. (BTW: if I ever get the chance of seeing Guy Fawkes day in the UK, I will snap photos and be very excited.)

911 Memorial, Jersey City, NJ

My Internet (and I think everyone else’s Internet) was down most of last week. But I still want to post a picture of the Empty Sky (9/11) Memorial that is in Liberty State Park. So much to see there, with the Statue of Liberty in the distance, and NYC in front of you. But the memorial creates an amazing portal into the past. Clean lines, framing what isn’t there anymore.

Empty Sky memorial, close up

Empty Sky memorial, close up

Names are etched on the inside walls, there is a berm/hill on either side. And while very plain, it reflects the sky, it reflects the mood of the day, it isn’t static.

Several brides were having their photos taken at the park, with the beautiful skyline behind them (or in front of the area where immigrants first stood on the US mainland after being on Ellis Island). There’s still damage to the park from Superstorm Sandy, but the park continues on, providing a unique frame for the story of immigrants, tragedy, and rebirth that defines who we think we are here in the 50 States.

On a less somber note, if you’re ever wondering if there’s a place to eat with a view of the New York skyline, try out Liberty House Restaurant. Good food, lovely views. Well worth getting reservations on a summer day when you can sit outdoors and watch the sailboats in the river.

Visiting a Rathaus in the rain

Fountain in the interior courtyard of Hamburg's Rathaus -- look at all that rain!

Fountain in the interior courtyard of Hamburg’s Rathaus — look at all that rain!

When in Europe, sometimes the weather isn’t picture postcard perfect. I’ve seen rain, snow, and shockingly hot weather (if you’re somewhere that normally doesn’t need air conditioning). When in Hamburg, it rained. So we went out anyway, and enjoyed looking at statues — to the left is a detail of the Hygieia-fountain [it honors victims of a cholera epidemic] in the interior courtyard of the Hamburg Rathaus. Continue reading ‘Visiting a Rathaus in the rain’

Perfect Labor Day, with lots of mental rest

Today was beautiful:

We walked over to see a movie at the corner theatre (Ghostbusters), ate pizza out with friends, then talked with them about the summer while eating plum cake (that I made last night).

The weather outside was foul — humid, steamy, and filled with ragweed pollen. Much better to have a little neighborly kaffeeklatsch in the living room to discuss trips we’ve had, or vacations others are planning. Oh, and Ghostbusters was a total blast, and held up surprisingly well although kids today would never believe a musician could live in a penthouse in NYC. 

So, anyone catch any good movies at the end of the summer season? I’ll probably go back to see Helen Mirren’s latest, but if there’s a film from the UK coming my way that I shouldn’t miss, please let me know so I can watch for it.

Hope everyone had a good labor day, and spent a few moments at least remembering why we have this holiday and remember: look for the union label (am I showing my age maybe?).

Becoming a power broker – Alice

After the war [WWI], Alice Roosevelt Longworth would evolve into a Washington statesman. Not limited by a constituency as were elected politicians, she could go anywhere, talk with anyone. Her power came to be greater than any lobbyist’s or social maven because her home was the place to be, to see and be seen, to spill secrets, to meet people, and to broker deals that could not be made in Congress. Alice’s drawing room became a required stop on the path to political prominence.” Stacey A. Cordery, Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker.

Still an interesting read, as Alice’s life takes some pretty amazing twists and turns. Acerbic, witty, a fine hostess, and yet not infallible. Interested in politics until her dying days — and the story is fascinating enough that someone like me (who hates current politics and political ads) could find the rise and fall of different politicians as Alice shows that she never quite got over being a wild child. It was interesting to see how Alice evolved into someone who talked to anyone (Nixon, the Robert Kennedy and JFK, Truman), or who could stridently campaign against a relative (FDR), but still let her only daughter play with his children in the White House. Honestly, she wouldn’t have been easy to live with, but she would never have been boring. So now, for balance, I suppose I should find a good biography of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Back to school, 2014

This morning began the ritual of kids going back to school. Young children in blue shirts and blue slacks or plaid skirts walked hand-in-hand with Dad or Mom, their backpacks looking too large for them to carry. There may have been a sale on purple backpacks with polka dots –> Hard to tell, but it was a theme at the little grade school down the block.

Along with the parents and children, a very tall man strode up the street towards the grade school, with a small corgi slung over the back of his neck. The corgi seemed to be having a lovely time.

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if the local news would alternate between the suburban kids getting off their yellow school buses, and instead document the small parades of parents and kids (and corgis), and tiny buses I get to watch in the city? Possibly more entertaining…. [Dear news media: stop pitching stories like the only people who watch the morning news are suburban moms.]

Prepping for the Roosevelts

The new PBS documentary by Ken Burns focuses on the Roosevelt family, the presidencies, and the family loyalties (and lack of same) that defined them — from Teddy Roosevelt (26th president) to Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd president). To gear up for this, I’ve begun reading a biography called Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker, by Stacy A. Cordery. It’s a page turner. From the wild times of Teddy Roosevelt’s first daughter, Alice, to her marriage (with tribute from foreign dignitaries [Kaiser Wilhelm sent a bracelet with a diamond-ringed miniature of himself] and ordinary Americans caught up in the excitement [a hogshead of popcorn, bales of hay, a railway car full of coal from the United Mine Workers of America]) to her role as independent woman and political power broker.

Through the years, many children have lived in the White House, but only a few got married while their fathers were in office. Alice was modern, always in the news, and a trendsetter, with Gibson Girl style. I’ll be honest — it’s more interesting than I expected. Scandal, infidelity, and the search for publicity before any of our modern divas were born.

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Fireworks over Baltimore, Star Spangled Banner 200 years

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