31 December 2012

The Power of a Photo

I had a few hours today to finally use a Living Social coupon I bought to visit the Newseum.  It opened after I moved to NYC and I have only heard positive reviews.

I started on the 6th floor and worked my way down through the floors.  The first stop is the balcony where you can take photos of the Capitol.  I could see preparations already being made for the inauguration in a few weeks.

I turned toward the mall and saw the moon already rising for the night.

The museum is positively full of the incredible.  There is an entire room of front pages of historic events. 

And I hate to admit it being seeing the Titanic headline reminded me of Downton Abbey which is starting its next season this Sunday.

I walked through exhibits featuring Tim Russert's office and Edward Murrow's achievements.  I loved hearing that Edward's first name started out as Egbert until he changed it when he was a teenager.  I saw items from 9/11 and Daniel Pearl's computer.  Peering into Ted Kaczynski's cabin was creepy.

I was moved by the Journalist Memorial.  This small image does not do it justice as it is much higher and wider than it should be.  I couldn't help but think about what these journalists give to us - the words and the images to often move us to action when it's easier to do nothing.  I felt incredible gratitude to live in a country where there is a freedom of press although, unfortunately, that doesn't make it free of bias. 

I was not prepared by how emotional I would feel as I walked through the Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery.  So much of my view of historical events were created by these photos.  I was moved by this years winner of a vet who's rental application was denied when he just wanted to start a new life.  He is suffering from PTSD and doesn't know how to function in this world after being a soldier.

I am forever moved by what happened at Iwo Jima and the many soldiers who were killed in that battle.  And I was so happy to see the absolute excitement of this family at seeing their dad/husband back from Vietnam after he went missing 6 years previous.

28 December 2012

Living in the Gilded Age

I have been wanting to visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, for years. I remember seeing it in an episode of America's castles a long time ago. I like touring through the homes of the rich, famous and historical.  This home was built by a Vanderbilt and it just happens to be the largest private residence in the US.  I had intended to visit in the spring or fall to take advantage of the gardens but during this week I was able to see the hundreds of decorated Christmas trees throughout the home.

The home took 6 years to build and was officially opened in 1895.  It is still owned privately by Vanderbilt's descendants.

I was only able to take a couple of photos of the interior but I cannot speak highly enough of its beauty.  It was obviously built by the very rich but it's not gauche.  I just wish that they liked more windows in their homes back in the late 19th century.

The music room.

The tree in one of the bedrooms.  I cannot imagine the work that goes into decorating this home for Christmas.  There was at least one tree in almost every room we toured.

The bowling alley in the basement.  It reminds me of the one in the film Let There Be Blood.

The dining room where an organist was playing holiday tunes.

The gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (Central Park).  They were beautiful but they will be even more so in the Spring.

The view from the terrace.

The Italian Garden.  I wanted to tour through more but at this point the rain was pouring and I didn't bring an umbrella.  There is an entire Azalea Garden, the largest of its kind in the world, that I would love to visit later.

27 December 2012

Christmas 2012

The majority of my Christmas day was spent making sure Hertz followed their end of the deal by renting me a car I asked for a month ago and then driving to Asheville, NC.  We drove through VA, TN and then NC but it was so dark that we weren't able to see the view.  Even in the winter, I think mountains without snow on them can be beautiful.

Before we piled in the car, Mom and I ate our Christmas lunch at the Blue Duck Tavern in DC.  I kind of knew what to expect but it was still overwhelming.  The drill was to order our main dish and a side but the appetizers and desserts were buffet style from enormous tables in the kitchen.  This really was the one meal we needed to eat before the 8 hour journey.

Just a selection of the salads and pastries.  I loved the tomatoes as they were all pickled.  I've never eaten them like this before but now it's the only way I want to eat them.

Our main courses came out and we were already done eating but we did our duty.  I ordered the duck and brussels sprouts with cranberries and bacon.  Mom had the glazed ham and potato puree.  The restaurant packed up the left overs for us but we never got to them and they only ended up smelling up the car.  

I was nervous at first to take photos of the food spreads but I grew braver the more food I ate.  Above is one side of the dessert table.  There were at least 17 desserts available with fresh berries.  The only one we really loved though was the lemon meringue tart.  I did like the blood orange cheesecake and the apple torte that the pastry chef is really well known for. 

The salad table and view into the kitchen.  Right behind me was an enormous spread of breads, salmon, dried meats, cheeses, and fresh oysters. 

As we were walking out, I realized the gingerbread house was of the Lincoln Monument.  I didn't have the energy to go back in to take a picture of the front.  I'm regretting it now because I would really love to see a gingerbread Lincoln. I did get a good shot without diners around the table.

26 December 2012

Christmas Past - 1942

Support the Troops.  There was food but I didn't even take photos of it because the costumes and dancing were incredible.

Chateau dj'ed as he did the year previous.  He knew how to make my speakers catch fire, literally and figuratively.

I was so impressed by some of the men who actually already had uniforms, borrowed them from grandfathers or bought them online.

Getting my hair done became the thing.  This years fell apart very quickly once the dancing started.

I loved all the red lips - Beth, Suvi, Trish and Jess (below).  And all of the hats.  They should always be in style.