On sage advice, I'm now fully stocked up on toilet paper, coffee and candles-apparently that's all one needs to weather the impending storm ready to whip the east coast of the USA! All public transport has ground to a halt in DC and the schools in both DC and Virginia are shut for at least today (Monday) and Tuesday-and last week we were smugly basking in temperatures of 80F degrees! The storm is set to hit land this evening but until such time, I'm making sure all electrical items are fully charged and I've prepared a gargantuan hot meal while I've still got power!
I hope this weather doesn't put a "damper" on Wednesday's Hallowe'en celebrations-the highlight of my year! DC is experiencing a pumpkin patch explosion with neighbours trying to outdo neighbours with the quantity and magnitude of their stepped pumpkin displays! Piles of bones and grizzly gravestones "adorn" front gardens and watch out for those gigantic spiders which try to grab you as you hastily sneak past!
My "costume" has a "Wallace" theme but you'll have to wait for the next blog installment to get a peek!
Next Tuesday is Election Day and there is a sense of mounting tangible excitement. A current art project touring the States involves plonking volunteers down behind a replica of the the desk in the Oval Office and asking them what they would do if they were President. My favorite (Am. Eng.) is the little girl who wanted the USA to make all countries live in peace with each another and then proceeded to do a beautifully executed ballet dance around the desk! I hope she runs for Office when she comes of age!
I visited the town of Fairfax last weekend with my colleague Cindy and had a fascinating tour around an estate entitled "Blenheim" which was commandered by the Union soldiers during the Civil War and used as a field hospital. The fascinating attraction about the building is the fact that it is full of soldiers' graffiti, mainly signatures which are still very legible! We also visited the old schoolhouse, the first school in Fairfax which is now a local museum and has many references to the Civil War. Fairfax lays claim to the first shot fired in the Civil War, in front of the Court House! Incidentally,Cindy's great grandfather fought at Gettysburg! I picked up several pamphlets on Civil War sites to visit and so a few more excursions are planned for finding out more about this fascinating period in American history!
In preparation for the latest Bond movie, "Skyfall", I took myself off (undercover) to the "Spy Museum"in DC, the only museum of its kind in the US dedicated to espionage! Kitted out with Homburg hat and dark glasses, I slipped past Security (okay, I handed over my "Groupon"!) and merged with fellow visitors to see what kinds of subterfuge, plots, disguises and devices spies of old and new engage in. My "Cluedo" expertise, honed over many years of Festive family tradtion, helped me to interact successfully with the hands-on "for visitors under 10 only" exhibits, but wearing my alternative "brat" disguise, I think I got away with it! I think I only have another 150 museums to visit in DC but I'm sure I'll get around to visiting them all before I return home even if it is just a "virtual" tour!
I have also been enjoying Sunday afternoon chamber concerts performed by the "President's Own" (US Marine Band) in the John Sousa Concert hall. The standard of performance is top class and amazingly, the concerts are FREE! (I was even handed a souvenir pencil and pen)! Being security checked by marines resplendent in their dress uniforms is also an added bonus!
I'm glad I didn't opt for the "open-top" bus tour of DC this week. "Groupon" was offering tours at half price-do you think they knew about the looming weather situation?!
At this time I'm safe and snug-hopefully I won't end up flying over Kansas!