American Cool

I did an imaginary fist pump the moment Wags, his  mother, sister and I reached consensus to visit the National Portrait Gallery to view the “American Cool” exhibition. The prior hour was full of indecisiveness and competing ideas. The entire time, in the least pushy way possible, I was supporting a trip into the city to visit the Portrait Gallery.

The Portrait Gallery has hallways and rooms of beautifully shot photographs as well as paintings and sculptures of well-known Americans from the past and present. The museum shares a building with the Smithsonian American Art Museum allowing visitors to meander through both museums without realizing that they left one and entered another. 

When we arrived at the museum, the “American Cool” exhibition was packed with visitors to look at portraits of 100 American entertainers who personify cool. Unlike in other parts of the museum, I noticed that this exhibition prohibited photography. I snuck in one phone picture of a doorway before I felt scared and then annoyed and, finally, just guilty. I took several pictures in other sections of the museum and got one shot that makes me giggle every time I look at it: Wags and his mother imitating the sculpture behind them. Pure goof balls, both of them.

A few hours in Clifton

Prior to the weekends, without fail, Wags and I discuss waking up early and venturing out an hour or two in a direction away from home. When Saturday morning arrives, however, my desire to sleep in always beats out my desire to seize the day.

Today the plan was to travel two hours south to visit an old growth forest.  But, once again, sleeping in won out. 

Wags came up with the idea to go to Clifton, a small, historic town 30 minutes away. The town was super-small with approximately 8 establishments making up the entire downtown. However, a railroad track, a few wooded paths, several historic homes and a playground where we acted like kids made this venture a fun time for the two of us.

Making Tomato Sauce

We cheat when we make tomato sauce. We don’t parboil, de-seed or skin the tomatoes. We don’t even can them. Instead, we blend a 28 pound box of farmers-market-fresh tomatoes, sauté chopped garlic, pour the blended contents into an enormous pot, add fresh herbs and let the mixture simmer for about four hours.

It’s a whirlwind of activity during the initial 40 minutes leading up to the moment when the last of the blended tomatoes makes it into the pot. Our tiny kitchen will be cluttered with bowls. The sink will be full of tomato cores. Drops of tomato juice will splatter onto the walls and fall onto the floor where our bare feet will make contact and streak the liquid across the floor by an inch or two. The picture is not pretty.

No canning is needed. Why? Because, let’s be honest, we don’t know how to can. Instead, we use plastic baggies which feels very, very wrong.

After the whole mess of cooked, blended tomatoes cools down, we actually drain half the liquid through a sieve. That liquid goes into a container where we will use it for broth or as a delicious, savory beverage (think V8 but way-way-way better). 

The sauce goes into baggies and then into the freezer where they slouch amongst the frozen blueberries and other items that lay hidden inside bags, foil and plastic wrap. This is summer fun.

The second floor is a ghost town.

#horse #farm #bwitrail (at Linthicum, Maryland)

#horse #farm #bwitrail (at Linthicum, Maryland)

Welcome to Herndon, VA #herndon #powerlines #wodtrail #sky

Welcome to Herndon, VA #herndon #powerlines #wodtrail #sky

A Maryland farmhouse alongside the Great Allegheny Passage trail.

A Maryland farmhouse alongside the Great Allegheny Passage trail.

A billion daisies in this farm’s field that sits adjacent to the Great Allegheny Passage trail.

A billion daisies in this farm’s field that sits adjacent to the Great Allegheny Passage trail.