Back in October I got some timed passes to the National Museum of African American History. I had a two year old in tow, so I didn’t get to spend as much time as I’d like reading everything, but I liked the museum and thought everything was very well done. You start in the basement where it is dark and cramped, simulating the feel of a slave ship. Then you work your way through time. I’ve read a fair amount on slavery, but still learned plenty of new things. I thought the sports section in particular was incredible and a celebration of achievement. Some parts were tough, not unlike visiting the Holocaust museum. Others light; the music and culture section was similar to what you see at American history. The bottom line is that I’ll definitely go back, and recommend that everyone go. If you eat there, and you should, the BBQ chicken with Alabama white sauce was amazing. Smoky and delicious. The fried chicken was very good, but not spectacular. I also tried some stuffed rainbow trout and would recommend it. Every side I had was great, and the sweet tea was delicious.
On the Sunday after Veterans Day, I went down to Arlington National Cemetery to participate in the Sigep Patriots Project. We have 111 brothers buried at ANC, so a bunch of us volunteered to place roses at their final resting places. Its a really great cause, and I truly enjoying helping out. Thanks again to Ed for starting the project and organizing the event this year.
This was a really rewarding and enjoyable experience. It was also a great way to actually observe Veterans Day. I look forward to helping out again next year.by rsiv with no comments yet
EF’s second cousin was in town, so they went to Great Falls.
Later in the week, EF wanted to take her cuz to Mount Vernon. We started with a nice lunch at Gadsby’s Tavern.
EF slept through the entire lunch.
George gave me a break and pushed the stroller a while.
We saw some more American Rehab Virginia…
The Butt was more than game for a photo shoot…
LeBeef taught EF and Britney about touchmenots in the upper garden.
Like GW, I’m trying to catch some Shad this April.
We we got home, I celebrated Black Tot Day.
by rsiv with no comments yet
I forget how I found out about the book I’m currently reading, A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia by Richard S. Dunn. I recall that I was familiar with the Virginia plantation featured in the book because it hosts dove and duck hunts. We’ve made a tradition out of going to Shady Grove’s dove hunt and party each year, but hopefully I’ll make it down to Mount Airy for a duck hunt so I can get a few ducks to put on the smoker for the holidays. The book is a historical comparison of slave life in Virginia and Jamaica. As a Virginian, I’ve found it very interesting. I’ve always been a student of Virginia history and The Civil War, but I’ve already learned a lot from this book. For instance, Virginia experienced slave population growth and exported slaves to the other colonies, while the harsh conditions in Jamaica made the purchase of new slaves a necessity to keep up a work force. The ability of Virginia slaves to have some semblance of a family life is contrasted with Jamaica where family units were rare and mostly temporary. Thats not to say slave life was easy in Virginia, but its very interesting to learn more about it, and see how very different it was from slavery in Jamaica. The research that went into the book allows one to follow generations of slaves and see how they and their offspring lived. Its a very interesting concept, and unlike anything I’ve ever read about Virginia or slavery. The book is a bit dry and tedious at times, but its very interesting and informative nonetheless.
After reading about a quarter of the book, I got interested in my own genealogy. My sister and I found out that our family goes back pretty early in Virginia, and we had land dealings with the Tayloe family of Mt. Airy (the Virginia plantation featured in the book), and the Carter family of Nomini Hall (another Virginia Plantation). Since I intend to eventually get down to there for a hunt, I follow Mt. Airy on twitter, and saw that they have a show on the DIY network right now about restoring their plantation. Since I’m reading about Mount Airy, we decided to watch the show (congrats to the current generation of Tayloes on hauling the anchor up).
The wife and I look forward to seeing the plantation in person eventually, but in the meantime we thought of something closer we could see. The Tayloe family had a winter residence in DC, call The Octagon House. Its one of the three oldest buildings in DC, was designed by the architect of the US Capitol, and served as a temporary White House after the White House was burned in The War of 1812. Its a really interesting place that was not on my radar despite being from the DC area and having a passion for history. We organized a tour and visited over the weekend.
Maggie was a great tour guide, and you could tell she really had a passion for history.
The railings of the servants’ stairs on the upper floors were marred where ropes were thrown over to hoist up heavy loads.
One would not have wanted to visit The Octagon in July back in the day. DC was a swamp, and Constitution was a river/canal. The mosquitos were even worse than they are now. However, when the winter came round, it was ball/entertaining season, and DC came alive. Congress was only in session at this time, so it was the place to be and the time to be here if one had political aspirations.
The white area in the photo below would be filled with ashes and operated like a modern range to make delicate sauces and other things you couldn’t do over an open flame, etc. The opening on the right of the fireplace was for baking bread, which was generally done at a bakery using your own dough, but since The Octagon was host to many parties, baking was done in house. The Octagon was unique in that the kitchen was in the house and not in an out-building. This was due to the constraints of the plot, and the warmth that a continually lit chimney provided the house.
John Tayloe III had quite an impressive liquor/wine collection and willed it to a son upon his death. I’ve easily got a couple barrels of brown sauce myself. Time to get going on that will…
The servants doors were all painted to be inconspicuous. Since so many rooms are rounded, the doors were curved to fit.
The treaty that ended The War of 1812 was signed in the office of The Octagon.
This filing table was really neat. It had triangular drawers, and the top could spin.
Its been really fun to learn some more Virginia history, and being able to visit sites in the book makes for a much richer experience. I look forward to getting my dad down to Mt. Airy for some duck hunting (hopefully this year), and maybe the girls will come too. If you’re in DC, The Octagon House is definitely worth a visit.by rsiv with no comments yet
I’ve been stuck at home with baby too young for vaccines, so I’ve been watching more than a little bit of TV. Next week, we get a little freedom back, but since I’ve been doing the legwork, I thought I’d share some of my favorite shows. I’m not one to merely watch TV, so I’ve also provided a drink pairing for each suggestion.
Justified is an amazing show about a US Marshall in Harlan County Kentucky (I have an uncle from just outside Harlan). There is plenty of gunplay, action, and bourbon. Raylan goes up against guys he grew up with, and the dixie mafia. This show picks its drink pairings itself. In the last episode, Raylan brings the police chief some Blantons (my all time favorite bourbon). I don’t know what advertising deals they have on the show, but they usually have some really good bourbon featured. You’ve got some catching up to do. Justified is in its final season.
Next up, Black Sails.
I’ve reviewed the show and my rum pairing before, but its a new season, and I’m still down. Getting lost in a period piece with plenty of violence and nudity while enjoying a rich glass of rum from Guyana is not a bad way to spend an hour.
To further immerse ourselves, we got some food from Carribbean Plate. I recommend the saltenas, yucca, and Jamaican beef patties.
I’d been hearing a lot about Downton, but it was my parents that finally talked me into giving it a chance.
I’m not sure why I enjoy watching young women struggle in Edwardian era relationships, or Lord Grantham struggle to keep his estate afloat, but I do. I do know why I like the Dowager so much. She as a dry acerbic wit to which I aspire. On the show, they drink a fair amount of wine, sherry, and even a cocktail on rare occasion (when they’re up for some excitement). However, I, like Lord Grantham, prefer a nice glass of scotch. If you want to compromise, maybe go with a sherry cask? I’ve also been known to brew a nice cup of tea, or even pop some bubbly.
I’ve talked about how much I like Peaky Blinders before, but why not again.
I’ve never considered it before, but it looks like I really like period series. Peaky Blinders is a netflix series, and looks to have a pretty big budget. Visually, its pretty amazing, and I’ve found the plot every enjoyable. Despite being set in England, there are Irish characters and the IRA also come into play. Therefore, I skip proper ale (usually) and go for whiskey.
Archer just started back up.
Archer is hard to explain, but essentially its a raunchy action comedy cartoon with a James Bondy and arrested developmenty vibe. Archer works for his mom, which I find to be fairly relatable. Any drink pairing would do, as Archer is all over the map. Champagne, icewine, schnapps, rubbing alcohol, or vodka could all work. Despite expensive tastes, Archer drinks whatever is available and often drinks bourbon. So I went with a bottle my buddy recently got me:
There is also a pretty good mini series on History right now called Sons of Liberty. I have gone the obvious route of cracking open a Sam Adams, but for a deeper and more accurate cut, maybe open a nice bottle of Madeira. I might have to go out and grab a bottle, as I’m all out. Madeira would also go well with the book I’m currently reading.
Whatever you watch, try pairing it with a drink.by rsiv with no comments yet
For Veteran’s Day, my Mom posted a bio of my Papaw (a WWII vet, and recipient of many honors including the Silver Star) that I’d like to share, but for the sake of anonymity, chose not to. Instead, I’ll share a little about my other favorite veteran, Fred Cherry. Colonel Cherry spent over seven years as a POW in Vietnam. Cherry’s life is the subject of the book, Two Souls Indivisible: The Friendship That Saved Two POWs in Vietnam, by James S. Hirsch, author of Hurricane. One of my favorite parts of the book, and a story I’ve heard several times in person, is when Colonel Cherry helped lock a another plane’s landing gear into position with the wing of his fighter in midair. Thats just a small taste of the amazing things Colonel Cherry has done in his life. I just recently reread the book, and can’t recommend it enough. I have the good fortune to work with Fred, and take every opportunity I can to listen to his stories. I actually just finished speaking with him (and helping him replace a printer cartridge), which inspired me to write this post. To observe Veteran’s Day as more than just a day off (and if you live in the DC area – a free concert), I highly recommend checking out his book. And if I’ve failed to interest you in Fred’s book, maybe check out one about Patton or Robert E. Lee.
When I joined my fraternity, it was just starting on my campus. We got a Charter about 10 years ago. Last weekend, we went back for the 10 year reunion.
The business school has changed a lot. I used to go to class on the top floor of a bank.
This view brings back so many memories I can’t even tell you.
After some fairly intense pregaming, we went to the gala.
Bobby Light did an excellent job as Master of Ceremony.
JD and Josh both gave really exceptional and heartfelt speeches.
The founding fathers that were present.
House of the Founding Fathers.
Singing the Conclave version of Country Roads.
Drunk dialing Varga (hope I don’t end up on standards).
Afterparty at Schooners.
Here’s to brother Chad…
Birthday shot of Jager for CW, very corridge time in corridge.
The next morning we awoke to a cold rainy day. Very Bad News (VA).
We had a fairwell brunch at The Warwick Restaurant. I got to see my old place.
Jes. Desperately needed, and delicious. I wish I had a pic of the group. We had a huge table in the back. I was sitting next to Moose, and we cracked each other up the whole time.
It was a really great weekend. I’m really optimistic about the state of the frat, and damn proud. I really had a lot of fun hanging out with all the guys, and meeting a bunch of the new ones. Can’t wait for the 20th.by rsiv with no comments yet
So the other day, I had the tv on, and this commercial was playing:
I can’t speak to the product (though it doesn’t look good), but the video is a fine piece of marketing. What really peaked my interest was a lyric of which I was unfamiliar, “Karamu.” Since I didn’t know its spelling, I googled the lyrics, found it, and then headed to wikipedia. As it turns out, Karamu is most likely the feast of feasts that is part of Kwanzaa. That mystery solved, and then turned my attention to another lyric I was unfamiliar with: liming. As it turns out, liming is another word for what my people call loafing (can you detect a pejorative aspect to this term used by no nonsense mountain people?), and what in college, Diddle and I fondly called foononing. Liming is not just relaxing or socializing though, there are some parameters:
The concept of liming encompasses any leisure activity entailing the sharing of food and drink, the exchange of tall stories, jokes and anecdotes etc., provided the activity has no explicit purpose beyond itself.
A Deeper Cut:
The etymology of the word liming is obscure. It is a Trinidadian word, probably of recent origin since English has been a popular language in Trinidad for less than a century. It means, roughly, “hanging around” – but as we shall see, there is no exact linguistic or cultural equivalent to liming in the cultural contexts with which most of us are familiar.
The concept of liming encompasses any leisure activity entailing the sharing of food and drink, the exchange of tall stories, jokes and anecdotes etc., provided the activity has no explicit purpose beyond itself. As such, it may seem as though liming occurs in most societies. But whereas idling and inactivity are frequently seen unequivocally as shameful and slightly immoral kinds of social situations, liming is in Trinidad acknowledged as a form of performing art; it is a kind of activity one wouldn’t hesitate to indulge in proudly. In liming contexts, verbal improvisation, ingenuity and straightforward aimlessness are highly regarded, provided one follows the rules, which, however, are nearly all implicit. For my own part, it took me a great deal of time and effort to learn how to lime; many of my Trinidadian acquaintances would doubtless be of the opinion that I never really mastered it, despite a large number of determined attempts.
Liming is, in other words, an activity not subjected to a formal set of rules. Its value to the participants is entirely contingent on the shared meaning that can be established spontaneously. A typical lime begins when two or several acquaintances (neighbours, colleagues, relatives or simply friends) meet more or less by chance; in the street, at the grocer’s, outside somebody’s home, or in the rumshop. For it is impossible to lime alone: liming is inherently a social activity; it is constituted by the (minimally) dyadic relationship and cannot be reduced to the individual agent. A second necessary condition for a lime is the presence of an ambience of relaxation and leisure. Both (or all) limers should relax physically (recline in chairs, lean against walls etc.) in a manner enabling them to converse at their ease. Thirdly, the situation should assume an air of openness: a lime is in principle open to others who might want to join. Liming is, in other words, a social and public activity.
The term liming is nowadays used locally for almost any kind of unspecified leisure activity; in this analysis, I opt to restrict it conceptually to the kind of contexts outlined. Groups of people meeting in each others’ living-rooms are therefore not true limers unless the context allows for the intrusion of gatecrashers.
Its my opinion, and as far as Americans go, I am an expert limer. I certainly take my liming very seriously. However, and unfortunately for Americans, it seems that an essential part of liming is providing the opportunity for passers-by, whom you probably know (at least have seen around) in a small community, to join the festivities. In college, I lived in the party house (unofficial frat house), and we were the liming headquarters 24 hours a day. But now, in modern American suburbia, nobody just stops by. Not even when invited. Busy are busy and keep to themselves. Might as well be New York City (though hopefully this will change as the neighborhood gets younger, I get older, and I make friends with my kids’ parents). Its definitely not like Mayberry (though I do think of Falls Church City as the Mayberry to Mount Pilot’s DC). I do still get to enjoy some real liming on occasion. For instance, we always have a pig roast in the fall in the Northern Neck, and neighbors from all over hear the music, smell the hog, and just come down. I’m going to think on how I can increase my opportunities to lime, as its definitely something in which I believe.
Now that I’ve inspired you to lime, how about an end of summer playlist that may get the neighbors in a festive mood, and want to join you for a drink this weekend:
by rsiv with no comments yet
If The Greenbrier was the milkshake of the babymoon, the Inn at Little Washington was the cherry. That metaphor might work for the aspect of time, but how can one sum up such an amazing and complex experience in one small aspect of a metaphor? After a beautiful drive though the country, we checked in. We were given an amazing suite.
There were many nice touches, and even a personalized note from the chef. After being thoroughly wowed, we dressed for tea.
Under normal circumstances, “best tea ever” might sound absurd, but we had just come from The Greenbrier.
After tea, we had a private tour of the inn and grounds. Chris was very informative and passionate. You could tell he loved the inn, and enjoyed telling its story. Not only did Chris give a good tour, he made sure we were having an amazing time throughout our stay.
After the tour (if you go, definitely enjoy the tour), we dressed for dinner. Before we were seated, I was given a boutonniere. After looking around the restaurant, I figured out that the boutonnieres are a subtle and classy way of making guests of the inn easily identifiable.
I won’t go into detail about the courses, but needless to say, dinner was superlative, and easily the best meal I have ever had. The marriage of hot and cold foie gras with sauternes gelee and spiced local peaches paired with a glass of Sauternes may have been my favorite, but the veal sweetbreads and lamb were also exquisite.
Best. Meal. Ever. For dessert, I ordered a glass of Madeira, but since they were out, they offered me a glass of Graham’s 40 year tawny port. It was incredible, and I even made it last until we had a cigar on our balcony. This might have been at least partially due to our exceptional sommelier, Jess, who’s hand was as heavy as his descriptions were vivid and enticing. When we were finished with our dessert, Chris offered to give us a tour of the kitchen. As you’ll see below, we were able to meet Chef O’Connell! He was very gracious and very funny.
After I’d finished my port, and my Trinidad Robusto T, it was time for bed. I’ve never had all my senses so overwhelmed. Its really impossible to put the experience into words. Fortunately, the experience had not yet come to an end. Breakfast was shockingly good the next morning. The wife had a parfait, and I had eggs benedict. Each of the four juices we were able to sample were amazing.
When we finished eating, we took a walk around the grounds. Its crazy how lucky we got with the weather all week. We also seemed to be right on time all week. At The Greenbrier, we were on time for tea, meal, etc., and at The Inn, we arrived just before tea, then were right on time for the tour, which concluded in time for us to get dressed and make our reservation. When we got to the garden, Jenna (The Inn’s farmer in residence), gave us a wonderful impromptu tour. Again, perfect timing.
Below, you can see our balcony, which was right above the kitchen.
The Inn had really lived up to its expectations. I can’t wait for our next milestone, so we can come back.by rsiv with no comments yet