Assignment Washington


Before our flight to DC,
H and I suffered a series of snafus . . .

like mixing up our terminals,
using the wrong self-check in,
and being sucker-punched
by a last-minute gate switch.


Maybe some of us were distracted by the thrilling Assassination tour to come. . .


Maybe traveling ain’t what it used to be. . .


And maybe we could have used multiple jolts of caffeine


or maybe H was daydreaming about mythical gardens. . .


In any case, neither of us were dreaming that H’s
now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t
Plantar Fasciitis might rear its ugly heel !



Fortunately, we made it to town in one piece, and in time
for a late supper at my favorite seafood house. . .



Unfortunately, H’s overcooked crab cakes were less than stellar,
but I believe her three wine samples made up for it.



When we set out for Georgetown the next morning,
the plantar fasciitis was still at bay, but the mishaps continued. . .


Like our fruitless chasing of the “Circular” buses
that kept nightmarishly circling but never actually stopping



These series of unfortunate events added unnecessary strain. . .


. . . not to mention. . .


. . . worrisome extra mileage to H’s tender footpads.



Anyway, I knew if we could just get
to that bloody magical garden, it would be all worth it.


Fortuitously, along the way, we did stumble upon
the Grand Re-Opening of Georgetown Library. . .

Turns out back in 2007 faulty electrical wiring
was to blame for the library’s 2007 devastating conflagration.

Literary loving H was over-the moon,
ready to read the day away, register as a local
and rack up books on the spot.


Dumbarton Oaks was just a few blocks up the road,
but H wanted to read up on the topic first . . .



If you’re traveling with a serious bibliophile,
stopping at a library or bookshop is always a risk.


When we made it to Dumbarton Oaks,
it seemed like an Alleluia moment,
for more reasons than one.



The sprawling grounds lie tucked in a secluded corner of Georgetown.



Elegant but quirky gardens cascade down a lush ten acres of hillside.



Filled with secret nooks, twists , turns, and sudden breathtaking vistas. . .



As you delve deeper into its maize,
the Garden unveils its spoils. . .



Each turn holding a deliciously intoxicating discovery.





Like the pom H plundered and dared to munch on later. . .


  . . . much to her tummy’s consternation.



Through tile-floored archways





and fantastic fountains,
 it’s a magical place, come to life.






Not surprisingly, H did not want to leave the grounds,
and every day thereafter kept pining to return.


But we had things to do, new places to suss out.


Reluctantly, we said hasta la vista to Dumbarton Oaks.
Luckily, hunger always facilitates a move. . .



For dinner, H did her historic homework.

A Georgetown institution since 1933, Martin’s Tavern
opened for business the day after Prohibition ended.



In Booth #3, Jack Kennedy proposed to his fiancee.


And in Booth #1, a single-seater,
the bachelor Senator preferred downing his coffee,
scarfing his meat and potatoes, and reading his newspapers in peace.


The Tavern’s whitefish was reminiscent of good ole Yorkshire fish-n-chip goodness.
From a nearby table, a  noisy and drunken old pollster entertained us with old war stories.


JFK campaigning in West Virginny



While exploring Georgetown’s higher elevation,
we noticed a cluster of folks huddled atop a steep stairwell.
Turns out it was the infamous landmark known as “The Exorcist Steps.”

  It was definitely skeery going down ’em.
As I passed a man who had just stopped on one of the landings,
I noticed he continued to grip the railing like we were pitching on the high seas. . .

He gave me a haunted look while I smiled encouragingly. . .




“Reader, suppose you were an idiot.
And suppose you were a member of Congress.
But I repeat myself.”
                                                              —    Mark Twain



One morning we set our sights for breakfast at the Longworth Building,
where the Congressional Cafeteria had undergone a fresh, organic re-haul
courtesy of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. . .




Featuring fresh fruits, yogurt, oatmeal, semolina and grits,
the cafeteria sports a custom omelet station to boot.
How a divided Congress agreed to the re-haul is staggering in its implications.



Let’s face it, the National Archives is the country’s cluttered, albeit well-organized attic.


In the National Gallery’s West Wing,


. . .children mimic the masters


and tinker with severed heads.


The East to West walkway gives a wink to Vegas.


According to Munch, “The Scream” was inspired by a
devastating panic attack he experienced
while on an innocent outing with friends.


One evening, after a variety of panic attacks,
we trekked the Tidal Basin to Mr. Jefferson’s Memorial.
Don’t ask how Ms. Plantar Fasciitis was doing!



Mr. Jefferson was said to have three pets – including a mockingbird . . .



and two bears. . .


Etched into the monument’s marble is inspiring speech
from the multi-talented, book-loving, freedom-touting,
slave-owning, morally ambiguous, dichotomy-riddled Tom Jefferson. . .


  I guess dogs and cats were too prosaic for the man


Staying near Union Station and the Capitol Hill neighborhood
means a good chance of passing the stunning Library of Congress.



One of our favorite gallery crawls came at the Phillips Museum,
where we viewed “Moments When Photography Became Art.”

The fascinating exhibit examined how established artists
turned their attention to the dubious camera 


Interestingly, they loved their blurry photos, the blurrier the better it seemed.
But the schism hit the fan, so to speak, when edgy artists like Stieglitz
began favoring sharp-focused realism over the blurry proponents. . .



We loved the exhibit, could not get enough of it, went through it once, twice, thrice.


We left because we got hungry, not to mention,
the lure of Teaism is a heady thing. . .


When she ordered her beloved bubble tea,
H inadvertently ended up with a chai version.
Not surprisingly, the cardamom/clove combo proved irresistable.


That evening, to my horror, H dismantled a toothy lobster at Clyde’s.


The shock was real, as in my quest to avoid lobster-eaters,
I had never noticed lobsters had molars before. . .


That same evening, satiated by her savage meal,
H suggested we join a Haunted Washington Tour,
hosted by the giggly, possibly drunken Dolly Madison.
After I guessed her historical identity, Dolly presented me with
glow-in-the-dark vampire choppers, somehow befitting the evening.


Popping in and out of the dark night’s action
was a visibly insensible Edgar Allan Poe,
along with other noteworthy historical characters.


Afterward, just to add more hem to the mayhem,
H suggested we catch Louis C.K. at the Warner Theatre.

“We need the comedy to reduce our stress,” she explained.

Or maybe, as Auntie Irene often counsels,
“You just need to get high, Towlie.”


A whirlwind week had flown by and we still had one more
exciting tour on our agenda – the one we’d booked weeks earlier,
the one FloJo urged us not to miss. . .


“Allo my pretties,” said Detective James McDevitt, our historical tour guide
who happened to be on duty the night President Lincoln was shot.

Actually, he said, “Allo, I’m deputizing all of youse, and gimme all the
sealed evidence you have and if those seals are broken,
you are so busted!”

Which certainly came back to bite some of us in the rear. . .



Unbeknownst to everyone,
the great-great grandson of Det. McDevitt
was secretly tagging along on our tour !

We learned that not only had his Great-great grandpappy
been a detective, but his great grandpa as well.

Det. McDevitt’s ancestor may have looked imposing,
but he was excited as all get-out by his ancestral heritage.


Describing the assassin’s escape through the theatre’s back alley. . .


And coolly sharing inside info with the rabble.


Barred from entry doesn’t mean one can’t find a pretext. . .


. . . to sneak in and out. . . (like finding and turning in a lost earring)


But seriously, you can’t just wander through Ford’s anymore.
You have to produce a ticket just to wander around.

. . .





A fanciful view of the once unpaved, swamp-infested,
animal-grazing, carriage-roaming streets of the District.




The Market offered seasonal needs.







Lunch break at Eastern Market.  “Zza and savory pumpkin soup.




“If you want to have a friend in Washington, better buy a dog.”

                                                                           —  President Harry Truman


Or maybe a kitty. . .


Just don’t tell Frango. . .


When a series of wheeler-dealer Amtrak customers kept asking H,
“Why so much?”
we decided to co-opt the line during our DC excursions.


It was amazing how handy that line became.


“I know he wouldn’t buy a 75 dollar sweater,”
H said, after visiting the finest consignment shop in DC.


The Sizzlin’ Express sounds fast-foodish
but it’s really along the lines of
“Freakin’ Awesome Variety of Fresh Foods Buffet-Style”


Dean & DeLuca’s cappuccino desserts are hand-crafted from chocolate,
and sure, they’re fabulous, but it’s also a perfect opportunity to ask,
“Why so much?”


Proxy Lincoln proudly welcomes you to Ford’s. . .


The newly-renovated museum at Ford’s Theater certainly impressed,
but this private sketch of Mr. Lincoln resonated.


While tending to an alleged stranger’s swollen ankle,
Doctor Mudd removed the assassin’s sliced boot.




*       *       *       *       *       *



Ghostly blurs dance on the plexiglass barrier
protecting the site of Mr. Lincoln’s last public appearance.




Five years earlier, on November 25, 1860,
a photographer opened his shutter for a few moments in a Chicago studio
to capture the first image of the newly-bearded president-elect.



*       *       *       *       *       *


 A tasty dining experience came at Oyamel –


Where pomegranate margaritas es delicioso


Oyamel excels with its “Antojitos,”
little dishes from the streets.

Brussel sprouts were crisped with
arbol chile sauce, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and lime.


And my Pescado tacos cradled seared fish,
salsa and tangy cilantro pesto, Ole Jose!


Guacamole is hand-mixed at your table
with fresh guac, lime, serrano chile,
green tomatillo, queso fresco cheese,
and a fresh smile.


H made an amazing choice when she ordered Oyamel’s
Mexican Chocolate, which featured a knockout combo of
chocolate custard and sorbet, with tangy passion fruit and pumpkin seeds.




At the end of our trip, I learned a few things. . . (tm Stan)

Like, with the right amount of Ibuprofen,
H could feasibly salsa barefoot over a fire ant colony.


And last but not least:

Your feetsies, treat them with the love and respect they deserve. . .



Will H’s plantar fasciitis foil our plans?
Or will her Ibuprofen get left behind in the hotel?
Or will National Gallery’s security chief Alonso come to our rescue?
Or would you believe all of the above?


Stay tuned

3 thoughts on “Assignment Washington

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s