Washington DC – A Treasure Trove of Art and Museums!

I’m back with the museums and art of Washington D.C. from our trip last fall. It’s taken awhile to put it together because there are thousands (maybe millions??) of treasures to be found in the free museums of the Smithsonian and National Gallery of Art, on the National Mall.

I’ll do my best to give you a taste.

The first gallery includes artifacts from both the American History Museum and Natural History Museum. President Lincoln’s top hat, worn that terrible night at Ford Theatre, and Mary Lincoln’s dress. Julia Child’s kitchen and the original star-spangled banner from 1812. The 45 carat Hope diamond, one of the most valuable in the world. The turquoise and diamond Diadem given by Napolean to his second wife, Empress Marie Louise, in 1810. An astronaut out for a walk at the Air and Space Museum, and a pair of striking ruby shoes. No not Dorothy’s slippers, they were under wraps. I found these beauties by Jamie Okuma, at the American Indian Museum. (Click on pictures in the gallery to enlarge them.)

So many museums full of America’s treasures!

But I must move on to the National Gallery of Art, where I traveled through space and time and entered fantastic landscapes like these:

View of Medinet El-Fayoum – Jean-Leon Gerome – 1868/1870

Autumn – On the Hudson River – Jasper Francis Cropsey 1860

Green River Cliffs, Wyoming, Thomas Moran 1881

And joined festivities like these – The Concert, Gerrit Van Honthorst,1623 –

and the Concert at the Casino of Deauville, Eugene Boudin, 1865.

I traveled to Venice to see bold Renaissance art, through the special exhibit on Vittorio Carpaccio. Here’s the narrative from the National Gallery of Art.

“A leading figure in the art of Renaissance Venice, Vittorio Carpaccio (c. 1460/1466–1525/1526) is best known for his large, spectacular narrative paintings that brought sacred history to life. Although for centuries he has been loved and celebrated in his native city for his observant eye, fertile imagination, and storytelling prowess, this exhibition marks the first retrospective of the artist ever held outside Italy.”

The Virgin Reading
Young Knight
Saint Augustine in His Study
St. George and the Dragon

I loved all of these vivid windows into the past!

Finally, I’ll close with some portraits of ladies, as different as can be!

The first is Marchesa Brigida Spinola Doria, painted in 1606 by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, being admired by my husband.

The Woman with a Parasol by Claude Monet is a portrait of his wife and son, from 1875.

The Green Marilyn was painted by Andy Warhol in 1962.

And my favorite – Ginerva de Benci. If she looks a bit insolent, perhaps it’s because she’s a teenager, and at 16 about to be married.

This classic was painted by Leonardo daVinci in 1474 and is the only one of his paintings found in the Americas.

She’s behind glass so there’s glare, but I brought her home as a souvenir magnet and here she is closer-up.

A real beauty, don’t you think? I like her much better than the other DaVinci, you know the one. But maybe I should go to Paris for a look at the Mona Lisa before I decide for sure.

I hope there’s such a trip in my future.

~ Susanne

Favorite Nature Shots from My Own Backyard – 2022

It’s awfully hard to pick “favorites” since I love to take pictures of the birds and the bees and there are literally hundreds (dare I say thousands?) to choose from!

That said, I’ll start with a Northern Flicker drilling a hole in the snag last spring, letting the chips fall where they may! I set my camera to ‘burst’ and had so much fun watching him.

Next are the little chickadees who love dropping by the stream for a drink and a bath. They are always welcome. 🙂

The hummingbirds are welcome too and I keep their feeders full year-round. Isn’t that male Anna’s a handsome one?

Finally, I ADORE the bees who visit my garden, especially the herb bed.

Guess who else loves the ‘herb bed,’ taking it quite literally? Benji, that’s who!

Honestly, can you think of a better place for a nap?

And that will do for twenty-two!

Sharing with Sunday Stills.

~ Susanne

Today in the Stream – a Ruby Crowned Kinglet and Anna’s Hummingbird

Home again, home again in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m already tending to the birds.

Or shall I say Bob did the tending when he turned on the backyard stream and immediately this little bird dropped by.

I had to look through my Peterson Field Guide of Western Birds to decide it’s a Ruby Crowned Kinglet.

No ruby to be seen so I assumed it was a female. But I later learned (after I originally posted this) that it could also be a male. Only the male will show the ruby tufted crown, but only when he pleases!

So for ruby we have to look to the Anna’s hummingbird who also dropped by the stream today, his ruby crown visible.

I love them all.

~ Susanne

Sun Setting on 2022

Dropping by to say goodbye to 2022.

After a week in California I’m ready for home and the New Year.

Welcoming 2023!

– Susanne

Berries in Ice and Season’s Greetings!

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re encased in ice!

Very pretty, but dangerous. I took these photos from my front porch this morning, and other than tending to the hummingbirds, I’m staying inside till it’s safe to go out.

And with that I’m signing off for 2022.

Season’s Greetings from the Happy Walkers of Coulon. 🙂

Hope to see you back here in 2023!

~ Susanne

And now for the Eagles – a Walk at Lincoln Park

Yesterday I shared with you the hummingbirds in my backyard; today I’ll share the eagles – okay, the eagle – that I saw last week before the weather went south.

It was one of those beautiful blue-sky days that we sometimes get in Seattle – clear, cold and sunny – so we went for a walk at Lincoln Park.

We walked through the woods on the bluff overlooking Puget Sound

and were welcomed by squirrels.

We continued down the trail through a tangle of trees

to the steep path down to the Sound below.

We arrived at the beach and were back in the sunshine where the best was yet to come –

for I looked up and saw a lone bald eagle perched majestically in the fir tree high above.

I was so happy to see him though I learned later later he might be missing a mate.

The Avian flu has arrived in Washington state, and one of the bald eagles at Lincoln Park was impacted. I believe it was taken in for care; I do hope it survives.

~ Susanne

Hummingbirds in the Snow

We had snow yesterday – enough to stick and be beautiful – and the temperatures continue to plummet.

I love snow but worry about the hummingbirds. So last night I brought the feeders in and returned them this morning; by midday they were frozen again.

I refilled them with fresh sugar water and afterwards grabbed my camera and waited in the icy cold. I was not disappointed.

A beautiful male Anna’s perched in the fir tree overhead, and I watched as he turned his head this way and that, as if showing off his beautiful crown.

He finally swooped down to the feeders while I kept my distance so he could eat in peace.

He fed for a while, and I was happy for that. But I wondered how he would stay warm tonight in the freezing temperatures.

After a bit of research, I learned that hummingbirds are able to enter into a hibernation-like state called torpor. Their body temperature drops, heart rate goes down, respiration rate drops and their metabolism lowers. They sleep at night in this state and can survive frigid temperatures.

I’m thankful for that.

Still, I hope this cold spell passes quickly.

~ Susanne

Benji and Temptations

No, not just ordinary kitty temptations like batting the Kleenex off the shelf onto my head, or lying in wait to ambush his big brother, but rather Temptations of the snack variety.

He ADORES the treats in the yellow bag and has taken to prancing about to get them as often as he can, wearing me down with his cuteness.

Who can resist?

~ Susanne and Benji

Surprise Visitors at Coulon Park – Snowbirds!

This week at Coulon Park I found two visitors among the Canada Geese. I believe they’re Snow Geese, perhaps blown off course while heading south for the winter. Or maybe they decided to relocate to Renton where temperatures are (relatively) mild year-round. 😉

I’d never seen them at the park before, so it was a treat to see these two. But I saw them in great numbers in the Skagit Valley when I went up to visit the daffodil fields.

There I found thousands of snowbirds – including trumpeter swans and snow geese. They come from the Arctic, as far away as Wrangel Island in Russia, to the fertile farmlands of the Skagit Valley. Some spend the winter here, while others continue on their way, further south to California.

What a sight to behold! A reminder that I need to make the trek north again, hopefully this winter!

~ Susanne

Looking for Cobalt and Finding it in Puget Sound

Who doesn’t love cobalt blue?

So I went looking for some in my archives for the last color challenge of the year at Sunday Stills. That should be easy, right? The best skies are cobalt blue, and the sky is everywhere, after all!

Ah, but I’m from Seattle; and despite the song, the bluest skies you’ve ever seen are not found here – at least not often enough.

But then I remembered Puget Sound, a body of water I have explored since my youth, visiting its parks, walking its beaches, crossing it by ferry, and even swimming in its ice-cold waters, though I admit that swimming was long, long ago.

Earlier this year when winter was slowly becoming spring, we visited Seattle’s Carkeek Park, one of the best on Puget Sound. It was a clear and cold, windy day and all was cobalt blue, including the Olympic Mountains that served as the backdrop.

I love Puget Sound. An inlet of the Pacific Ocean, it’s the second largest estuary in the United States. Puget Sound is also used to describe the region and cities surrounding it in Northwest Washington, including Seattle, my hometown.

Makes me want to bundle up right now and head to the beach.

~ Susanne

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