Friday, September 12, 2014

Dumbarton House. DC

Saturday was another extremely sticky day and this time I was going to DC and wondering whether I'd regret the drive. Just 4 of us were meeting to look around Dumbarton House. Our trip to the mushroom festival in PA had been canceled due to bad weather and I was a little miffed about that. I would have liked to check it out but didn't fancy the long drive on my own.
So DC it was and I was pleased to find the house easily and even a parking space very close by.
I liked this whimsical entrance that I passed,  that was tucked back from the street, and wondered what kind of folks lived there.
Dumbarton House isn't a very big establishment and we discovered it's not very well known either. We were the only ones there apart from 2 other ladies so we had a private tour. Built around 1800, it's one of the better examples of Federal period architecture with historical emphasis placed on the period when Joseph Nourse, first Register of the U.S. Treasury, lived here from 1804 to 1813.
All of the interior doors seemed to be made of pine and then painted to look like wood stain. The floor in the entrance hall was a piece of canvas painted to resemble marble floors and then coated with numerous coats of shellac. I know the door painting used to be favored by those families who couldn't afford hardwood doors but when I suggested this to our docent she was quite adamant that this family had been prosperous enough in those times.
There weren't too many pieces of furniture, art or ornaments. A few pieces were original to the house, like the Egyptian style lamp in the entrance hall. The Charles 3rd chair was popular in that time since many people were afflicted with respiratory diseases. This chair allowed its user to sleep in an upright position.
The dining room restoration has not long been finished and I asked why there were square panels visible under the green paint but couldn't get an answer to that. Mealtimes used to start as early as 3pm to ensure there was daylight during all the courses. A new tablecloth would be laid for each course with the dessert course often having to be eaten off the bare wooden table since the tablecloths would likely all be used up. So our docent told us that this table had in fact been laid incorrectly.
The fireplace mantle came from John Marshall's home on Capitol Hill and features the USS Consitution ship.
A chintzy room. The original fabric is the two pieces on the bed and the rest of the room was decorated using a similar fabric.
There was a room upstairs dedicated to artwork created by the women in the family, landscape paintings, greetings cards, door stops and letter holders. Made from wood and card, these items were sold in their gift shop to help support the family estate.
2014 commemorates the 20th anniversary of the city burning during the 1812 war. When Charles Carroll, co-founder of Rochester NY, lived here, he rushed to the aid of Dolley Madison and brought her back to the house to escape the British fires.
There weren't many rooms in the house so the tour wasn't very long. We braced ourselves to go back out into the humid heat and walked under the shady trees to the small formal garden.
I noticed these fruits hanging from a tree and plucked one to break open and investigate. They were soft and sweet, the color of mango inside and tasting a bit like lychees but a little sweeter. Trevor and I stood and munched contentedly for a while as the others looked at us skeptically. Trevor went back to the house to ask if anyone knew what the trees were but they didn't even have any idea that there was fruit growing in the garden! I later found out that they are Chinese Dogwoods, they were delicious. After we were done with snacking we decided to go our separate ways, none of us having any energy or enthusiasm for further amblings around the city. It had been a long haul for such a short excursion but for me, worth it to learn about the Chinese Dogwoods, more than the house. So I returned back to VA, stopping to visit a friend but otherwise spending the rest of the weekend lazily.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Burning Up at the Clifton Labor Day Car Show

Labor Day was a swelteringly hot and humid day. I was meeting Melony and her hubby, Doug, in Clifton to take photos of the Car Show. It was already packed when I got there and after a few texts, Melony and gave up trying to find each other, planning instead to meet up for lunch.
A lovely lovely Mack truck was a perfect vehicle to see as I entered the village. The streets were thankfully closed to traffic. We'd parked at a local school and been shuttled down. But there were so many people that it was difficult to get good looks at the cars, and I'm sure the humidity was raised by at least 20% with so many sweating bodies in such close proximity. The sun blazed down relentlessly, glaring off the highly polished chrome and painted metal. The owners of the vehicles were slumped under umbrellas or awnings and mostly looking pretty miserable.
 Some folks had great senses of humor with carefully placed fluffy characters on their cars.
I walked around the parking areas feeling the hot tarmac burning through my sandals, so I didn't want to stand still too long, and ended up snapping a lot of shots, documenting rather than being creative. I was also pretty annoyed that I couldn't take my usual low level photos which would have created some awesome angles with these cars, but my knee wouldn't allow that.
The cars weren't placed in a specific order or group. I noticed some Mustangs and Corvettes were in pairs or trios but others were scattered around the village. I prefer the older vehicles to the newer ones but I did like this Mustang.
This GTO was my favorite of the day. I'm sure the color had a lot to do with my choice but I love the shape, it reminded me a bit of the old UK Ford Cortina MKIII.
I also loved this old Fairlane. Beautiful paint job, and it had 50's music blaring out from its sound system.
Not a huge Corvette fan but I had to admire the artwork underneath the hood.
I found this Caddy in a corner of a parking lot and loved it.I probably looked to be very enthusiastic to the owner as I stood a while looking at it, but really I was so enjoying the shade.
I met Melony here at the Main Street Pub. We timed it well, choosing to have lunch about 11:20. We didn't have to wait long for a table and were immensely grateful to be in the AC, although it wasn't as cool as we would have liked. We just couldn't get rid of that incessant sticky sensation. But a Fat Tire beer cheered me up no end and I had a delicious egg salad BLT. The queue to get in the restaurant was long when we left, and all three of us walking to the door slowly, not wanting to go back outside.
The heat almost knocked me back as we stepped down onto the street. I didn't think I wanted to be here too much longer, an opinion we all shared.
I think I managed to walk around for maybe another 20 minutes or so. I had really lost all interest in taking photos, the heat and humidity were just way too intimidating.
Some cool interiors. Cool as in interesting and amazing. If they'd been cool in the temperature sense I'm pretty sure there would have been some serious skirmishes as folks battled to sit inside.
These two chaps had got it right, being pushed around with a canopy to protect them from the sun's scorching rays, while being fed cold liquids and ice cream.
There were some interesting hood ornaments ans details to the cars but I just couldn't muster up any energy to look too hard or get creative with my photography.
In the end I just had to say bollocks to it all and admit defeat but as I was leaving I got waylaid by an outrageous pair of suspenders holding up a man with a railway hat on and I just had to investigate further. This guy is known as the Blind Mechanic and the car here was built by him, plus a number of others at the show. This particular vehicle he'd slung together over the winter. He admitted he needed some help with the electrics but for the most part it was all down to him. For the first time during the day I forgot about the heat and was spellbound, listening to him speak and leaning under the hood with him as his nimble fingers ran back and forth over the engine, showing me the things he'd done and how he made adjustments. What an amazing guy.
I think my face must have held an expression similar to this cow's as I finally made my way back to Stuart. Incredulous at meeting such an interesting man, and then incredibly thankful, as I finally got home where I could flake out on the cool floor and at last be out of that darn sun. Whew!