January has been kind of rough, right?
It's not just me and my thin, grew-up-in-California skin is it? I mean, it's been COLD outside, right? That was a lot of snow and ice, right? And, if I recall the last ten winters I've spent in this District, February is always our coldest month. We always get our city-shuts-down snow storm in February, and it's always impossibly, bitterly cold in February which makes me mad every year because spring is in sight. So we're not even to the worst of it, despite how frozen my toes got on Inauguration Day.
But now, I have a plan for getting through it.
Because my most glorious, impromptu and inexpensive Saturday was not over yet, after the hairballs and the ackee. Oh, no. We then proceeded south, into the warm, tropical, humid embrace of the US Botanic Garden.
The Botanic Garden is free. And warm. And beautiful. And there are copious benches in all of these free, warm, beautiful rooms. Are you picking up what I'm putting down? Why am I not reading in the Botanic Garden all the time?!
I could peel off layers and be comfortable in a t-shirt. I could change into flip flops. I could spend the whole afternoon there and catch up on issues of the New Yorker and overdue library books. I could break a sweat. This is very exciting to me.
But don't tell anyone my secret, OK? I want to ensure that I have some bench space to myself once February hits.
The Boyfriend took some great pictures during our visit. Enjoy!
PS - I finally got around to updating the DC365 City Guide -- so check out the link on right to find something to do no matter what your mood or location!
Friday, January 30, 2009
January has been kind of rough, right?
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
In my very first blog post, I wrote:
I am continually fascinated by this city -- its colonial, racial, and federal history, its jumble of cultures in such a very small space, its big city opportunities and small town realities. Its obsession with politics. Its free museums. Its stunningly high HIV rate. The vaulted ceilings of the metro and the cheap seats at RFK and the fantastic Jamaican food in Petworth -- I love learning about this district.Emphasis added because...drum roll please...I am finally blogging about the fantastic Jamaican food in Petworth. Namely, Sweet Mango Cafe (fyi, that link also plays reggae).
I love Sweet Mango. I used to live in north Petworth, on Gallatin, and I used to get off the metro at Georgia Ave on my home from work, pop into Sweet Mango to order takeout, then hop on the bus to finish my commute. Once home, I would enjoy spicy, hot jerked chicken, smokey, fatty curried goat or sometimes spiced fried snapper, all with a generous heap of rice and peas (which is rice with red beans, not what Americans would think of as 'peas') and a scoop of boiled veggies. I'd often get a side of fried plantains or coco bread or a Jamaican beef patty.
Or in the summertime, when the weather was warm and heavy, I'd take advantage of their fabulous rooftop patio and adjacent bar to eat jerk chicken and savor a cold Red Stripe.
But then, alas, I moved to Logan Circle, and while vowing to continue my patronage of Sweet Mango, I haven't been back since. So I was thrilled when I threw it out as a lunchtime destination after a morning of looking at hairballs and war wounds and everyone agreed.
I love Sweet Mango's curried goat, but then at the last minute I was talked into trying something I've never eaten before, ever. I went for the daily special, which was ackee and saltfish with dumplings, yam and banana. I was told by one of my lunch companions that ackee and saltfish is a breakfast staple in Jamaica. He'd eaten it before, mistaking the ackee for scrambled eggs (they look similar but taste quite different). What is ackee? It's a fruit, that when cooked becomes soft and yellow and only mildly sweet. Uncooked, it makes you vomit a lot. But I ordered it anyway! And mixed with the saltfish it was salty and soft and light and altogether a delicious lunch. The yam turned out to be yucca (that beans/peas phenomenon at work), and the dumplings were doughy and really dense -- not my favorite thing on the plate. But I love trying new foods, especially ones I turn out to really like!
Others I ate with got either jerked or curried chicken and we all ate heartily (medical oddities work up the appetite, apparently). While we were eating, a long line formed as people placed their lunch orders.
What a treat to hit up one of my old favorites. When the weather warms back up (when? when will that be?!), you'll find me on their roof deck eating curried goat and oxtail, I promise.
Don't forget -- you can follow me on Twitter! Learn about the DC stuff I'm doing, and help me out when I have DC-related questions. Just search for DC365.
Monday, January 26, 2009
My grandparents had hoped my uncle would grow up to be a doctor. My grandfather was a doctor, and both of my grandmother's brothers as well as her father were doctors. So it was perhaps only natural that they would expect their only son to follow in the family business and heal the sick.
With these high hopes -- or so goes the family lore -- they paid a visit to a museum of medical oddities when my uncle was still a young and impressionable boy. My grandfather had hoped that the array of weird things floating in jars would pique the boy's interest. Instead, my uncle was so horrified by the entire experience that he swore he'd never become a doctor. He still recalls the experience with disgust and horror.
So it was with great excitement and not a small amount of trepidation that I agreed to visit the National Museum of Health and Medicine, located at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I had heard that this museum had the bullet the killed Lincoln, fetuses in jars, and medical oddities of all kinds including the world's biggest hairball. I'm fairly squeamish, so while I was really intrigued, it wasn't out of the question that I might pass out on the premises.
Well, I remained conscious although there were a couple things that turned my stomach (especially the leprosy pictures and the leeches). Mostly though, the museum focuses on military medical history starting with the Civil War through the current conflict in Iraq. In particular, it chronicles the advances of caring for the war wounded, improvements in field hospitals and ways to identify those who died during war. There is also an extensive exhibit on the evolution of the microscope -- from Anton van Leeuwenhoek (hello seventh grade science!!) to modern electron microscopes.
But it's not all tame and historical. There is some weird, gross and even funny stuff in the collection too.
Take, for example, the world's biggest hairball. It was removed from the stomach of a 12 year old girl who had been eating her hair for six years and it was the exact shape of her stomach. Eww!
Or how about the preserved tongue and esophagus of someone who died while choking -- it's floating in formaldehyde along with the enormous piece of steak that the person died trying to eat.
Cross sections of lungs taken from coal miners (pitch black), iron minors (dark red), smokers (gray with white cancer) and city dwellers (distressingly, alarmingly nearly as gray as the smokers' lungs).
There was also an exhibit on misguided medical equipment, including an x-ray machine that x-ray'ed people's feet in their shoes at the shoe store to ensure that they fit properly. We watched a rather charming video about the machine in which we learned that these machines emitted 25 rems per minute in order to ensure that your shoes fit properly (recommended radiation exposure for nuclear power plant employees is not to exceed 5 rems per year!). About 20 years later, when shoe salesmen started dying of cancer left and right, the machines declined in popularity.
There is a lot to see at this museum -- it's free, and easily accessible from the 70 bus. You will need to show your ID in order to get onto the property though. If you like history, military history, science, medical facts or just really gross/weird stuff, you've got to go. I imagine that young boys might especially like this museum -- unless you're trying to initiate them into a medical career-- then it might backfire. Just ask my uncle.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
So did you hear? There was this really huge, amazing event in DC this past weekend.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I watched the inauguration of Barack Obama today from the rooftop of the building at 101 Constitution. We were there to witness history, but with easy access to heaters and bathrooms -- the best of both!
I was moved to tears during the inaugural address and I was frozen to my toes while waiting for the motorcade to finally go by. The Boyfriend took some pictures -- enjoy our experience of the inauguration from the comfort of your warm home!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Hey! Look who found her camera's battery charger:
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
So, here's the thing when you open yourself up to new cultural experiences and your only criteria is that it be free: sometimes, those experiences suck.
Never have I been so nostalgic for George Bailey's rosy-cheeked children and their glee at bell-ringing.
Monday, January 5, 2009
I can't find my camera's battery charger, so allow me to lead you through a guided visualization.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Happy 2009! I don't know about you, but I woke up with a pretty great champagne hangover, chocolate on the light switch, and every surface of my house in need of a cleaning -- in other words, a pretty great ending to 2008.
Now is the time to face the new year with great hopes and resolutions. Here are a few of mine:
- I resolve to save more money. This coincides nicely with the credit crunch and the total collapse of our economy, but I also have some plans and some dreams I'd like to finance in the future, so I'll be tightening the ol' belt this year. What this means is that this blog will be shifting focus ever so slightly -- I'm still on a quest to do 365 things that make DC unique and wonderful, but there is going to be greater emphasis on things that are free or cheap. This means there will be fewer fancy meals to report, but more museums, festivals and taco trucks.
- I resolve to blog more. Yay! I know I was pretty quiet in the last half of 2008, but I'll be back to posting once or twice a week in 2009.
- I resolve to tweet. You can now follow me on Twitter by searching for DC365! I'll tweet upcoming plans and locations, and ask for suggestions and feedback.
Posted by dc365 at 9:20 AM