Monday, December 16, 2019

DC Scenes, 2019

Half our fall excursion, after Knoxville, was in DC, visiting daughter Rachel and her husband Will, and house- and pet-sitting during their various excursions. Though there is much of DC we have not seen, we don't regard ourselves as tourists, since we've seen most of it over the years. As in Knoxville, we stayed put, mostly, attending to various projects and interests, but occasionally we got out to see a few old favorites and a few new things. But mostly it was about staying put and working on our projects...and my seeing two wonderful friends of old from the humanities, Edie Manza and Esther Mackintosh.
Rachel and Will at Cantina Republic, the new neighborhood Tex-Mex down the

We spent one pleasant day at the National Gallery of Art--
elsewhere in this blog are posts and pix from numerous
previous visits--it's one of our favorites; this visit we did
the 18th and 19th century French paintings tour, which was
outstanding (NGA has lots of Fragonards and the largest
Watteau I have ever seen); most of the permanent collection
and of course the gift shoppe; the above reminds me to
mention we also saw several episodes of the Great British Bake-
off and that we gave Rachel a copy of Mary Berry's baking
cookbook for her birthday

We made it at last to the National Museum of African American History and
Culture--doing just the history part, the first three floors, was all we could
handle; the silence (and inherited guilt) on the first floor was reminiscent of
the Dokumentation Center in Berchtesgaden...

We'll be back sometime to focus on the cultural part...

Sic transit, Gloria...the glorious old Carnegie Library, now the Apple Store

Historic preservation

Jane Fonda's in there somewhere

Yes, let's... 

Scooters lying around everywhere, as in other large cities; this one decapitated

Rachel and Will were off on a road trip, so Vicki and I had a "quiet" Turkey
Day dinner, courtesy of Marie Callender; the Veuve Cliquot was a nice touch,
however (just kidding, Rachel)

Daphne, sweetest dog ever, dressed for a walk in the cold (the Poop Loop)

Desperately hungry house cats of DC...Peter, stupidest cat ever, lapping up
drippings in the dishwasher

"If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now,
yet it will come—the readiness is all"--Bianca's thoughts as she awaits the
automatic cat-feeder's next dump

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Hiking In The Smokies, 1969

Being in the Smokies reminded us of our first hike, there, way back in June of 1969, the trail up to the lodge on Mt. LeConte. It was our first wedding anniversary, we were living in a small married student apartment in Alumni Village in Tallahassee, and, with a tent borrowed from neighbors Tawana and Wes, and a variety of ersatz items, we embarked on our first camping expedition. It was a year of firsts, and this was not the least of them!
On the trail; we are wearing our Good Humor jackets (!)

Note cable handrail

At the Lodge, 6,500+ feet; very high for Floridians

Back at our (first) campsite; note Tawana and Wes' tent

Picnic table set for anniversary dinner (steak, probably, from the Piggly Wiggly);
note also wedding candles, much shorter now, 50 years later; styro-foam cooler and
other camping accoutrements; and especially our first car, a 1964 Volkswagen
1500S Notchback; a car never marketed in the US (we bought it from a service-
man returning from Netherlands); what were we thinking?! Were we thinking?!!!

First campfire: a wonder we didn't burn the great national park down!

Hiking At Ijams Nature Center

One of Knoxville's treasures is the Ijams Nature Center, a 300+ acre urban wilderness area near the origins of the Tennessee River. Ijams offers a variety of recreational and educational opportunities. During our month+ in Knoxville, we visited twice, focusing on the 10-12 miles of hiking trails, along the river and through the former limestone quarry. Ijams is just a few miles from downtown Knoxville and is indeed a treasure.
The first mile or so of the Tennessee River, which forms from the confluence of
the memorably-named French Broad River and some other less memorably-named
river; runs pretty much the width of Tennessee, more than 600 miles, before
joining the Ohio and eventually the Mississippi

Interesting berries and other such still green in the first weeks of the fall
(beautyberries...thanks, Susan!)

Bee hive raided by a raccoon (?)

Primitive rest area

"This was once the great watch-tower of Amon Sul"; wait, no...

Cup marks? Maybe not

Wilderness picnic area

In Montana, we would call this a war lodge; perhaps not in

Summit of Tower Hill (there's a small airport nearby)

Knocking About In Knoxville

We were a month+ in Knoxville, house-sitting for Vicki's sister Marie while she and husband Norm were on a trans-Pacific cruise, re-positioning from LA to Singapore. Alas, we did not see too many of Knoxville's cultural and other wonders and treasures. We spent a fair amount of time with niece Stacey and her sons, James and Jason. And we spent a fair amount of time watching TV: a luxury for us, since our normal travel mode pretty much excludes the tube. Vicki devoured Outlander and Call the Midwife, and I missed few NCAA or NFL games of significance. And then there was the impeachment, and many hours of watching MSNBC. Norm and Marie's apartment sits astride one of Knoxville's many green-ways, and we did establish a basic walking/interval-running and weight-lifting regimen, which was helped along by mostly warm and sunny weather in October. And we did a few hikes.
Meanwhile, back in Menlo Park, the best log sculpture ever, so far: a huge book
bench, outside the public library; actually two of them, so good I had to work them
in somewhere... 

Practice makes perfect: after years of packing checked bags to the limit, Vicki has
attained perfection, attested to by the airline scale


Our dining experiences in Knoxville were governed to some extent by Jason's
tastes, as it were, and the McCoy Selective Eating Disorder; here we are at Blaze,
which does for pizza what Chipotle does for Mexican food (except the salmonella);
I actually like the place; for $5 you can have something resembling a real Italian
pizza (bring your own anchovies)

At a nearby elementary school on our green-way walk; y'all

Mantis encountered on a walk: "in nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti..." he was

At a nearby liquor store: so I asked the clerk what they meant by adventurism, and
he responded "oh, you know, zip-lines, bungy, rock-climbing..."; I forgot to ask
whether they sold Trump wine

One of the very good things was a visit from Tallahassee friends Susan and Ken,
returning from a tour of the northeast

After Marie and Norm returned in early November, we undertook a drive and
short hike in the nearby Smokies 

Marie and Vicki

Norm and Marie, powering through the world's worst jet lag
(Singapore is exactly 12 hours on the other side of the planet)

Vicki and me, Laurel Falls, GSMNP

Pretty much the height of fall foliage in the Smokies

On another hike: Jason, Norm and Stacey

I left Knoxville on November 7th; the weather changed
drastically by November 12th

Above Knoxville, en route to DC

Landing at National

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Pressing "Pause" For A Bit...

We're in Tennessee, house-sitting for in-laws for a month, and then moving on to DC to visit daughter Rachel and her husband Will, also for a month. We'll be taking it easy, attending to numerous non-travel interests and issues, but will return to the blog should anything of travel interest arise.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Walt Disney Family Museum

Over the course of many family visits to the various Disney parks, my curiosity and interest in the history of the Disney enterprise has grown. Not that the parks themselves more than hint at the vast and fascinating Disney story. In any case, for a few years now I had known of the Walt Disney Family Museum at the Presidio in San Francisco, and, last June, I read Neal Gabler's biography, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. Labor Day weekend, Vicki, Penelope, Rebecca, and I visited the museum, which I found to be superb, comprehensive, detailed, accurate and fair, and chock full of important artifacts, mementos and such. Thank you, Rebecca, for making this happen.

View from the Presidio

The museum is, like its subject, far too complex and vast to
suggest a single narrative other than here is Walt's life and
work; "it all began with a mouse" he was fond of saying...
but it didn't the time the mouse came along, there
had already been a few successes, a few failures, a bankruptcy,
a removal...not to mention a rough childhood and adolescence
that were more about work and employment than about fun
and education...

Anyway, I'll just post some of the better pix without much more commentary

I always thought the Mickey Mouse Club was a thing of the, there were
hundreds of chapters in the early 30s, and the merchandising, which became so
integral to Disney, began then: pictured above, some 1930s MM merchandise

There were a number of break-throughs and innovations: improving the quality
of animation, making it believable, developing animated personalities, adding
sound, doing it in color...but none bigger than the first animated feature, Snow White
in 1937

By the late 30s, there was a whole Disney campus,
complete with a studio restaurant

Organizational chart from the period...lest anyone be
confused about who was (totally) in charge

Animators learning to draw Bambi

Disney traveled in fast a sketch given his
daughter Diane by Diego Rivera; when he visited Rome in
the mid-30s, vacationing, he was entertained by the Pope
and Mussolini

With Rachmaninoff and Horowitz; the association with Stokowski well known;
one of the rare photos of Disney smoking (three packs a day, I've read)

With Dali and Gala in Figueres, a long association

The multi-plane camera, one of many technical innovations

Unionization radically changed Disney and his relationships
with employees; and began his veering off into the political

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a movie I saw when I was probably 7 or 8 years
old (I acquired my coonskin cap a bit later); at the right is one of the under-water
cameras used in making the movie

A list of favorite meals Walt prepared for a new cook at the family residence

His fascination with trains revealed itself in many ways...
One of his model trains, the model above showing its route around his southern
CA mansion
Click to he did most everything...

Giant model of Disneyland...most helpful model ever 

One of the 360 degree cameras employed for the 1964 NYC World's Fair and
then the parks 

Among the many tributes following his death in 1966

There are many trophy cases at the museum; Disney won 26 Oscars (by
comparison, among actors/actresses, Hepburn, the leader, had only 4); of course,
many of Disney's Oscars were "special" rather than in a given category...the lot
of innovators like create the categories that are later recognized...

Perhaps the most famous, for Snow White...