A Perk of Early Morning Running

In addition to my Saturday morning running date with my buds most weekends, for the past year and a half I’ve also been running with some of them before work twice a week down on the National Mall. When I lived in Arlington it was a quick hop over to meet them and back. Now that I’m in Takoma, it’s a little bit farther and there’s a new twist where instead of going home I pop over to the gym and shower there before heading the rest of the way to work.

There are a few reasons why I do this even though it’s not necessarily that convenient. First, the company is great; I love catching up with Ben and Steve and John; we hear about each other’s weekends, chat about television shows and movies, even have the occasional political discourse. Second, having a preset time to meet means that it gets me out of the bed and exercising, something that when I’m on my own is much easier to put off and/or skip entirely.

And third?

Well, the view is occasionally spectacular.

(I keep telling myself I need to bring an actual camera with me this time of year. The mid-point of our run is down at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, and the view towards the Washington Monument with the newly-restored Reflecting Pool has been jaw-dropping as of late. Until then, this quick cameraphone shot is better than nothing.)

“Meet the Artist”

I didn’t participate in Artomatic this year, mostly because I didn’t have the time to prepare for it and felt that it would end up with me doing something that I wouldn’t be thrilled with (and probably feel was more half-assed than normal). I like Artomatic a great deal, and I’ve enjoyed participating in the past. But when we went on Saturday night, it was “Meet the Artist” night, and I was reminded of one of the few things I did not like about participating, and one was that very event.

When I’d participated my two other times, I skipped Meet the Artist entirely the first time, and the second time I went but instead walked around and met other artists rather than staying in front of my own space. I know you might think it’s a little silly, but today I read Julia Wertz’s latest comic strip about exhibiting at comic book shows, and it was nice to see that I am not the only one who sees the following unfold far too often:

And that is why I do not miss that particular little event one bit. No doubt if I’d participated this year, I would have once more avoided it like the plague. I’m already my own worst critic, I don’t need others to try and prove me wrong.

Force of July

Yikes. Is the holiday almost over? It’s a little startling how fast a three-day-weekend can whip by even with that extra full day available.

The temperature started rising in the area on Saturday, so I knocked out my run early in the morning even though I was flying solo for a change. (I did run into Teresa on the trail, though, which was a pleasant surprise.) After cleaning up and lying down for about an hour, I pulled myself back together and went to check out the Smithsonian Folklife Festival down on the National Mall. It’s running through today, but I knew that this was probably the best weather I’d get.

Finally broke out the camera again and took a lot of pictures… most of which I hate. Well, hate is a strong word. But it’s frustrating when you take photos that you think turned out really well, get home, and discover that what you thought you took and what you actually took are two quite different things indeed. Most of them are already relegated to the trash bin. A few were deemed all right, at least.

Strike a Pose

On the bright side, it was a nice time overall. I watched a Laotian cooking demonstration and a Malaysian dance troupe in the “Pacific Asian Americans” section, then headed over to the “Mexico” section where I received a traditional blessing and watched a bunch of artisans create some gorgeous tapestries, baskets, and fake flowers.

Below is the woman was creating the flowers, but doing so out of old corn husks. Just great stuff, and with the help of an interpreter she was chatting away with people who came by to see her works. (Click here for a picture of some of the flowers.)

Husk Artist

Afterwards I’d decided that I’d leave via the L’Enfant Plaza metro instead of Smithsonian (I knew that station would be a disaster area) and on my way over, stopped in the African Art Museum. It’s been several years since I last visited and I forgot how much I like it. Not only is it well-curated (and with ever-changing exhibits) but it was also almost completely empty. I wandered around at my own pace, and it was a perfect way to cool down from the heat and and enjoy my time there.

Yesterday was pretty quiet; Charlie’s home but with came back sick, so there wasn’t much going on like we’d hoped.  On the bright side, after six months of planning to do so, I finally hauled everything out of the cabinets under the bar area of my kitchen, as well as the mountain of stuff that needed to go in there, and re-arranged it all. I suddenly have counter space again—such a relief!—and everything is put away and easily usable once more.

I was hoping to get my carpets shampooed today (fun fun fun) but considering I’ve yet to get off my butt today I doubt that’s going to happen. But it’s been a mostly relaxing (but surprisingly unsocial) weekend, and for that I’m glad.

(Oh, as for the title of the post? It’s utterly silly but it’s one of my favorite “government superhero team” names, from Suicide Squad back in the ’80s. Led by, if I remember correctly, Major Victory.)

Christmas Gift Idea

I have some amazingly talented friends. This is, really, not so much news. But I was thinking to myself this morning, “Greg, some of your friends don’t have big publishers pushing their books, or prints, or (insert awesome creation) here. And they would make good Christmas gifts if only people knew about them. I wonder if you could do something about that?”

So! As I have free time (a rare commodity these days, to be fair) I thought I’d point people in the direction of some talented friends’s websites and products.

First up! My good friend Britt, whom I’ve known for over a decade now, recently started her new website The Photo Garden Bee, where she visits gardens all over the country and takes some amazing photographs of them as well as writing up a travelogue. I’m not a huge garden-visitor but even I find this pretty enthralling.

She’s now selling black and white matted prints of some of her flower pictures, and they look fantastic. I mean, c’mon, just look!

Very reasonably priced, and just gorgeous. Hello, easy Christmas shopping idea! Go buy some!

Warm Pre-Summer Nights (and Other Things)

Last night I finally finished my Artomatic installation for this year. I’ve been around 95% of the way done for a week and a half; my wall was painted, my lights were installed, my photographs were hung, my business card holder and guest book holder were both attached to the wall. Happily, the last piece of the puzzle showed up yesterday—yellow vinyl lettering for my name—so I placed it last night (along with labels for the photographs themselves) and it went up with no problems.

I wasn’t smart enough to bring my camera with me, but I did snap a quick photo with my cell phone, enough to give an idea of the finished product. (I suppose I should’ve turned on the lights and taken off the yellow registration card on the left-hand side, but oh well.)

Artomatic Setup

Afterwards, I took the metro back over to L’Enfant Plaza (there was a Nationals Game next door to Artomatic so getting parking there just wasn’t going to happen) and I just kept marvelling at what a beautiful night it was. I can’t remember the last time I’ve walked around DC at night where it wasn’t a busy city street; just a stroll through the monuments, or around the Mall, that sort of thing. It’s so beautiful and peaceful then, and you really feel like you have the whole place to yourself. I need to make time to do just that over the summer.

But more importantly, walking back down the street, looking at the Capitol up ahead, I remember thinking how great it was to still find myself in a real “work in progress” stage of my life. My photography is still in its early stages but it’s been really uplifting to feel like I’m learning. I’m still finding new things I enjoy to do, or rediscovering old forgotten ones. Over the past few days I’ve gotten some really nice e-mails regarding reviews I’ve written. It’s like, yeah, it’s starting to fall into place.

In unrelated news, I had my first allergy serum shot this morning. So far there has been no mutation into some sort of supervillain. Very disappointing. But it did give me time to read 80-odd pages in John Kessel’s The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories, and I’m enjoying the anthology so far. I’ll almost certainly finish it and several other books on my trip up to Indiana, PA this weekend for a family reunion. This reunion closes out two months of craziness when it has come to my weekends. I have almost nothing on the calendar for June and I’m making a concerted effort to keep it that way. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be really nice to see a lot of the extended family this weekend, but I’m going to be happy once it’s over and I’m home and getting to focus on little things, or doing nothing at all.

Isn’t that what warm pre-summer nights are for, after all?