Well it was a fun, celebratory week to remember — one for the recollection record books!
Easter Sunday started it off — after a month of prep with finally getting a new garage roof completed. We still have some refinement to do so I’ll have to post a picture later. My Clivia plant, also known as a Kaffir Lily, seemed to be waiting to bloom on this special occasion. How appropriate and really beautiful this African plant is. My father-in-law gave it to me with multiple “babies” as offshoots that I divided and gave to my sister and sons. I’m waiting to hear if theirs’ bloomed.
Other plants that are flourishing are on our roof. The two types of butter/bib and arugula lettuce are three times the size of this now and nearly ready to harvest. Snap beans, beets and cauliflower seeds are coming along. I’ll need to replant the carrots though.
You can read more about these hydroponic GlowPear planters on Houzz, where we purchased a second one.
My husband was able to get tickets through his office to the National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC), which is near impossible since they are sold out already through July. There was a special viewing between 8 – 10 am midweek and I took my friend Liza. Although we needed Peter with us to enter, he decided not to attend in order for us to be able to when security discovered my miniature pairing knife in my purse that I had forgotten all about. Ugh!! They wouldn’t let me leave it with them so Peter took it back to his car and missed the museum opportunity but he’ll get more tickets. He also had a meeting that was going to shorten his time anyway and you really need a full day, as we discovered, to take it all in. We didn’t return home until 4:30. It took over 7 hours to go through at a leisurely pace, which you need to do to be able to read and process all the info. Fortunately, I had cleared my work calendar in advance. There is a tremendous amount to cover and the museum does a good job of showing viewers the progression of the African American history through three sub-terrain, what I call the “oppressive” concourses that move through the start of Slavery to Freedom > Defending Freedom and Segregation > Changing America 1968 & Beyond. Although there is still a sense of uncertainty at the end of the exhibit, one leaves with a positive appreciation of the African American history and all its accomplishments as well as the strength of the American Spirit.
The African American experience is the lens through which we understand what it is to be an American. — Lonnie Bunch (Founding Director)
The first sense one has upon entering the museum is from the exterior grill work that suppresses the light, yet fills the space with ornamentation. It is supposed to recall the grill work in New Orleans that was made by slave labor and you do get a sense, especially in the lower galleries, of being in a cargo hold of a slave ship with only one way up and out.
You start at the bottom and walk through each concourse and move onto the next via ramps. There are no elevators or restrooms on any of these floors. If the intent was to be somewhat uncomfortable, then it works. There are, however, plenty of places to sit and rest, watch a movie, reflect or just take a break. I had to use the restroom and needed to walk all the way up while Liza rested. There was a placard at the top warning that once you exited you could not re-enter. I had to flag someone down to ask them if I could come back in. Although it wasn’t a problem, I can’t imagine the planners didn’t think this common occurrence through. It must happen a lot. There were hoards of people in line a this point and we were only half way through the exhibit. I hustled back to get a move on before it became crowded. It was starting to on the third concourse, especially when we visited the Emmett Till Memorial, where no pictures were allowed. This was a horrible event about a 14 year old African American boy who was lynched simply because some “white” folk were looking to make examples of blacks. The outcome is what sparked insurgence, uprising and riots, along with the tragic death of Martin Luther King. However, the final part of the main exhibit shows the progression of the African Americans to assimilate within the middle class, become major TV and music celebrities. In fact, America has a lot to be thankful for with their cultural contribution.
It was interesting to note that at the very start of the Slave Trade, which was sparked by the sugar trade, Creole Africans were wealthy diplomats and highly sought after for their language capabilities and cultural knowledge.
We decided to break for lunch. The food at the Sweet Home Cafe was excellent! You could choose which regional fare you wanted to try. Of course I went right for the Creole Southern Duck / Andouille Sausage Gumbo but then changed my mind at the last-minute to get the Shrimp and Grits because the shrimp were gigantic! The meal was delicious and a generous portion! The dining hall was in the shape of the “ark” or museum Congo ship, yet each layer had vines growing in the indented, internal troughs. The back walls were mirrored to make the space look twice as large as what we thought it could hold. We didn’t wait around for that test because the buses of people were now streaming in.
After a much needed energy refresh, we tackled the top four floors. Similarly to the sub-floors, where you start at the bottom and walk up, we started in reverse at the very top and moved downward. We visited all the floors but only experienced three. There were elevators and escalators and restrooms on all of these. The top floor Culture Galleries was my favorite. It showed the importance of the African American culture in food, music, arts, fashion, and sports. I by-passed the last, but fully savored all the others. I was just as impressed with the exhibition layout as I was with the rich content. The first oval room had double display bays with the interior, bench-seating to the double-sided, wall-alcoves with a musical entertainment-video that changed visuals with the continuous music that wrapped around the top of the room. We moved from here to the Visual Art Gallery with primarily contemporary art (not my thing) to the Musical Achievement wing with Chuck Berry’s car greeting us at the entry. I breezed through the Theatre section and will have to go back.
Level 3 housed the Community Galleries, where some of the main exhibit details were further explored. For instance, there was an entire room dedicated to Muhammad Ali, another section to Ben Carson, and another to the Military Experience. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see any recognition given to Clarence Thomas but did see Thurgood Marshal and Anita Hill mentioned in regard to the Supreme Court. There were also mini exhibits dedicated to Making a Way Out of No Way with progress in medical, religion and school, etc., highlighted.
We didn’t have enough energy to explore the Explore More Gallery on the 2nd level, which was mainly interactive exhibits. I popped my head in and saw one older white woman, who was the only one dancing to an instructional video by an African American dance troupe. Others were watching and encouraging her as if she was playing “Wei” by herself but doing a pretty good job.
We took an Uber home and had an interesting discussion with our American-Cuban driver, Marisol about the experience. Funny, we missed Oprah by one day, as she was there the next day to screen the Henrietta Lacks movie airing on HBO. I read the book several years ago and am interested to see the movie. It’s definitely a story that needs more exposure.
Earlier in the week, Peter and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by finally visiting the Trump Hotel to see how the Old Post Office was revamped. We had drinks in the main lobby, which is huge but well decorated. The main architecture and iron struts of the original building remained and painted gold. I liked the peacock, teal blue and green velvet seating paired with amber and gold throughout the expansive room. The bar wall was mirrored to the top and filled with clear glass decanters and glasses situated on dark mahogany shelving. Very impressive. Two large TV’s were playing Fox News. We were seated next to what had to be a bevy of beautiful friends of The Real Housewives of DC. No kidding. This was entertaining to say the least.
Although the ambience was captivating, the service was off. We had to call someone over after 15 minutes. They gave us water and nuts without napkins and the hostess took our initial order. The place was nearly filled but not that busy. We sampled the signature cocktails, which were unfortunately too expensive at $25 – $29 and actually did not taste very good, which is too bad! We stuck with wine and cheese choices which were good and surprisingly affordable. All in all, it was a different way to celebrate an off-year; even though, there can be some improvements made, especially if you’re expecting the best.
Meanwhile, the rest of the week was enjoying the gorgeous spring weather. Even the cats seemed to relish this indoors and out.