twenty-sixteen

In twenty-sixteen, I:  Gazed in WONDER at the Renwick.  Traipsed around the City of Brotherly Love, ate Philly cheese steaks, and admired the Mural Arts decorating the city’s walls and parking lots. Inspected the crack in the Liberty Bell and imagined our forefathers in Independence Hall.  Toasted to Mike’s 62nd birthday. Worried about our youngest son’s lack of direction.  Partially de-cluttered our house, using The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (the Kon-Mari method), successfully weeding out clothing, accessories, kitchen appliances and books.

Flew to Dallas, Texas and then drove to Oklahoma City to attend a friend’s second wedding.  Walked on the grassy knoll and along the route where JFK was assassinated.  Stood beside larger-than-life statues of George W. Bush and his dad at the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.  Walked among tulips and sat with Benjamin Franklin at the Dallas Arboretum.  Stood under a rearing horse and saw a fake rodeo at the Cowboy Museum.  Grieved near a field of empty chairs for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Stood by as contractors demolished our deck, laundry room and kitchen and then slowly built them again, in much nicer form.

Attended my first husband’s book talk in April at Politics and Prose in D.C., where he discussed his newly published book, Mathews Men.  Celebrated our daughter Sarah’s graduation, with a B.A. in English, from Virginia Commonwealth University in May.  Enjoyed a spread of bagels at Sarah’s house, and later dinner and dirty martinis at Lucy’s, with both families in attendance. 🙂

Wandered through tulips and sunflowers at Burnside Gardens in Virginia.  Visited four gardens around Philadelphia for my second trip to that city this year.  Imbibed in Cabernets and Pinot Grigios at several Virginia wineries.  Let our son’s lease in Richmond expire and watched with trepidation to see what he’d do next; fretted because we didn’t know where he would go or what he’d do.  Felt relieved when we found he took off for a Tribal Design retreat in Vancouver and finally went Hawaii, where he is now leading tours for a hostel in Maui.

Drove around the Ring Road in Iceland over a breathtaking 11 days (in search of a thousand cafés).  Climbed around, behind, and to the tops of waterfalls. Admired sweeping vistas from our Polo VW rental.  Hiked to the edge of ashy glaciers.  Poked around inside turf-roofed houses. Ate cod, cod and more cod, as well as langoustine, lamb and gas-station hot dogs.  Drove over 2700 km and walked 166,100 steps, or 70.4 miles.  Returned home with walking pneumonia, from which it took three weeks to recover.

Laughed at the “Kurios” of Cirque de Soleil.  Had a family reunion at our renovated house for my dad’s 86th birthday in September, where everyone except Adam attended.  Enjoyed sushi and sake with my sister Stephanie, who came from California.  Drove along the Skyline Drive amidst flame-colored leaves to West Virginia in early November to celebrate my 61st birthday and our 28th anniversary.  Enjoyed delicious pizza and craft beer at Pies & Pints. Strolled through the eerie ghost towns of Thurmond and Nuttallburg.  Hiked along the Endless Wall.

Barely survived our contentious election and felt heartbroken over the results.  Boycotted Facebook for a month and a half.  Realized I have nothing in common with 62 million Americans.

Read/listened to 35 books/audiobooks (meeting my Goodreads goal!), my favorites being All the Light We Cannot See, State of Wonder, Circling the Sun, The Ambassador’s Wife, and The Glass Castle.  Saw 39 movies in the theater, especially loving Joy, Eye in the Sky, A Hologram for the King, The Man Who Knew Infinity, The Music of Strangers, Dheepan, Hell or High Water, The Light Between Oceans, Sully, Girl on the Train, A Man Called Ove, Manchester by the Sea, and Lion.  Dined on Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, French, Japanese and Italian food.

Weighed 5 pounds more at year-end than at the end of 2015, despite continual attempts to lose weight.  Took Pilates and dropped out because of utter boredom.  Walked nearly 251 hours during 276 @3-mile workouts, or about 813 miles of dedicated workouts.

Passed the Virginia Real Estate Licensing Exam but never signed with a broker. Sent my novel to 23 agents to no avail.  Applied for 32 jobs, 23 abroad and 9 stateside.  Came up empty-handed on the book publishing and the job front.  Got discouraged.  Completed a Memoir class and wrote seven chapters of a memoir.  Dreamed about how my future might look.

Celebrated Thanksgiving with Alex and Sarah, and Christmas with only Alex (Adam was in Hawaii through the holidays, jumping off waterfalls, body surfing and leading tours). Felt dismayed at our shrinking family gatherings.

Returned to Philadelphia (third time’s a charm!) to see “Paint the Revolution” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Admired the Gates of Hell and Crouching Woman at the Rodin Museum.  Wandered through the Magic Gardens of mirrors and mosaics and found objects.  Walked and walked through the outdoor gallery of Mural Arts to shake 2016 out of our psyches. Drove home through Amish country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, amidst the clip-clop of horse-drawn buggies and faded laundry flapping on clotheslines.

Cleared our heads in preparation for 2017, when we are hoping for love, peace, healing, direction, confidence, boldness and endless adventure. 🙂

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the dallas arboretum

Monday, March 21:  After our lunch at Cafe 43, Martha and I head to the Dallas Arboretum to see the springtime exhibit Dallas Blooms: The Artistry in Nature, sponsored by Bank of America. It’s a gorgeous day to see the 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs that make Dallas Blooms one of the largest tulip displays outside of Holland.

Entrance to the Dallas Arboretum
Entrance to the Dallas Arboretum

The Arboretum is a fairly recent creation.  In 1982, the City of Dallas and the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Society (DABS) signed a contract creating an arboretum and botanical garden on the combined 66 acres of two properties, the DeGolyer Estate, which the city purchased from Southern Methodist University, and the Alex Camp House properties.  Both houses sit on the shores of White Rock Lake. The gardens opened to the public for the first time in 1984.

Entrance to the Dallas Arboretum
Entrance to the Dallas Arboretum

Renowned sculptor Gary Lee Price installed his “Great Contributors” Bronze Statues exhibit this year; they will be on display through October.  They feature eight life-size sculptures of Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Claude Monet, Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Mark Twain and the Wright Brothers.

I have a brief chat with Abe before moving on through the gardens.

Me having a chat with Abe Lincoln
Me having a chat with Abe Lincoln

Gary Lee Price says he created Abraham Lincoln “in the moments of repose and reflection immediately before delivering the Gettysburg Address … [maybe] the most memorable and powerful 272 words ever uttered”(Dallas Arboretum: Spring & Summer 2016 brochure).

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

Martha has a seat with George Washington, with his famous sword.

Martha & George Washington
Martha & George Washington

The spring colors are amazing in their vibrancy and zest.

Flowers galore
Flowers galore
Tulip mania
Tulip mania
blossoms of white
blossoms of white

The tulips are exuberant in their celebration of spring.

Flowers
Flowers

Claude Monet, the Father of Impressionism, “delighted in painting ‘en plein air’ that is outside, so his presence at the Arboretum is a natural tribute to” him and to others who appreciate the gardens’ artistry.

Monet
Claude Monet

Martha tells me she often goes to the Cool Thursday Concert Series on the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage and Lawn alongside White Rock Lake.  This year’s season will feature 11 new tribute bands as well as the ever popular food trucks.

Music venue along the lake
Martin Rutchik Concert Stage and Lawn

Sculptor Price says he’s always been fascinated by the tightly knit Dayton, Ohio brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright. The “bicycle shop owners, with their practical knowledge of maneuverability and control, changed the course of history.  Their study, engineering and ingenuity freed mankind from an earthbound existence.” He chose to depict them “on the ground, approachable in nature, yet airborne in their thoughts and visions of the future.”

The Wright Brothers
The Wright Brothers
Martha has a chat with the Wright Brothers
Martha has a chat with the Wright Brothers

Martha says her husband’s favorite is Albert Einstein. Says Gary Lee Price, “Einstein once said, ‘Imagination is more important that knowledge.'” He invites us “to sit with this man – this genius – and let your imagination roam.”

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein

We stop to admire the fluttery dance of koi in the pond.

koi pond
koi pond

I love the waterfalls and the water garden, which remind me so much of Asian gardens.

waterfall
waterfall
me and the waterfall
me and the waterfall
pond
pond
pretty pond
pretty pond
flower wall
flower wall
curtain waterfall
curtain waterfall
pond
pond
flower pot
flower-pot

The gardens adjacent to the concert stage look a lot like Japanese gardens.

Japanese gardens
Japanese gardens
Japanese gardens
Japanese gardens
Japanese gardens
Japanese gardens

We make our way back to the entrance, passing through the McCasland Sunken Garden, A Woman’s Garden Phase I & II, and other beautiful architectural features.

We pass another pond and its pretty bridge.

bridge over the pond
bridge over the pond
field of trees
field of trees
Martha at the Dallas Arboretum
Martha at the Dallas Arboretum
Me at the Arboretum
Me at the Arboretum
pretty scene
pretty scene
flying people
flying people
statue in the garden
statue in the garden
carvings
carvings
more tulips
more tulips
tulip
tulip

Our little trip through the spring tulips of Holland comes to a close and Martha and I make our way back to her house.

In the evening, we go out for a Mexican dinner at Mi Dia from Scratch.  According to the website, “Chef Gabriel DeLeon has integrated flavors that are exciting as well as harmonious, blending traditional Mexico City recipes with modern Santa Fe and Tex Mex flavors.”  I have Baja Shrimp: Negra Modelo beer battered jumbo shrimp, pickled cabbage, avocado, micro cilantro & roasted jalapeño-lime salsa on flour tortilla.  Martha has Relleno al Carbon: Roasted poblano stuffed with pulled pork, topped with queso asadero & crema, served over New Mexico red & tomatillo sauces, Oaxacan black beans & guajillo rice.  Of course, we share a couple of bites.

What a fun first day in Dallas!  Tomorrow, we plan to go to the The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, commemorating John F. Kennedy’s assassination.