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Posts Tagged ‘CityZen’

Back at the Museum of Natural History, we head upstairs to the exhibit called “Written in Bone.” It’s fascinating! It’s a forensic investigation of human skeletons from the 17th century, some of Jamestown colonists and some from Maryland.

See? Just like on TV

See? Just like on TV

But even more exciting, today is Forensic Friday! We get to go to the super-cool Forensic Anthropology Lab for a special demonstration. Today they’re taking a skull and doing a facial reconstruction—that thing where model a face. (You can read about it here.) It’s like being in the middle of an episode of Bones (minus the cute FBI guy, unfortunately). Mind you, the real forensic people aren’t too impressed with the TV forensic people…but that might be because they feel the lack of cute FBI guys, too. (Although it probably has more to do with the science.)

Facial Reconstruction

Facial Reconstruction


We’re all fascinated by the demonstration; I tried hard to keep my natural tendency to interview people at bay and not ask too many questions, but everyone is intrigued by the process. It’s amazing to watch.

By the time that’s over and the face is complete, it’s pert near 5 pm. We have just enough time to run down to the Fossil Café (in Dinosaur Hall) for a quick sandwich before our next event, one more floor down in the Baird Auditorium. Is it a scholarly lecture on global warming? A film about the life and times of gorillas? No! It’s The Second City! Kind of appropriate to end an afternoon looking at bones with an event designed to tickle our funny bones, isn’t it?

second-city

I saw Second City in Dallas years ago and I’m still laughing over some of their improvs. Tonight’s show features some of the best sketches, songs, and improvisations from their 50-year history plus the past year’s most delectable political scandal, cultural milestones, and public disgraces. (LOTS of material there!) It’s Jill and Paula’s first time to see them; I’m sure we’ll be replaying tonight’s show all the way home tomorrow.

It’s still early enough after the show that we have time to enjoy the Empress Lounge at our hotel, the Mandarin Oriental. They have live jazz tonight, so we plop down to enjoy The Sharón Clark Quartet and a snack. For Jill and me, that would be the CityZen Candy Bar (yes, I had this Tuesday, but it’s so worth repeating). Paula, who does not care for chocolate (though we love her despite this unfortunate disability), ends up with Grand Marnier bread pudding.

Tomorrow, we go home . . . but there’s still time for one more adventure. Meanwhile, I’m going up to enjoy my last night in this beautiful room.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Mandarin Oriental Hotel

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I’ve shown you all I can from the National Gallery of Art, but before we go, I have one last piece of advice from Luci Swindoll to share: “Before leaving the museum, buy a little something in the gift shop to commemorate the day, and your time there. Doesn’t have to be expensive…just noteworthy, or meaningful to YOU. You’ll know it when you see it…and why you want to buy it.”

Found it! This collection of note cards featuring details of the iconic painting “Cakes” by Wayne Thiebaud, which is in the Gallery’s collection. Each note card has one of four cake recipes on the back. They’re perfect for me, and at only $8.95, reasonable, too.

The perfect souvenir

The perfect souvenir

Still in the spirit of Art Day, I’m heading north to the National Portrait Gallery, which I see is located across the street from MCI Center, home of our Women of Faith events. It (the Gallery, not the arena) is home to the nation’s only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House. Since an invitation to visit the First Family has been conspicuously absent, this is my best shot at seeing our former Commanders in Chief. (That’s if you don’t count the time I chatted with former President George H.W. Bush in the basement of the Meyerson one night before chorus rehearsal. He was charming.)

John Adams by John Trumbull. Image Courtesy Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

John Adams by John Trumbull. Image Courtesy Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

This is John Adams. I’ve had a soft spot for him ever since I first saw the musical 1776 in junior high. I think I’d have enjoyed having dinner with John and Abigail; they were lively conversationalists and nice people, besides.

Of course, I’ll have to visit the BRAVO! exhibition, which showcases individuals who have brought the performing arts to life. (Sorry, couldn’t find any images to share.)

The National Portrait Gallery shares a building (the former Patent Office) with the American Art Museum. They also share the Lunder Conservation Center, where you can see behind-the-scenes views of the preservation work done by the museums. Another fabulous feature of the building is the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard, recently named by Conde Nast Traveler as one of seven architectural wonders. Trees, plantings, a water feature, and free Wi-Fi…and all under an elegant glass canopy. Since there’s a chance of rain today, that’s a real plus.

Kogod Courtyard by M.V. Janzten (by way of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's flickr photostream)

Kogod Courtyard by M.V. Janzten (by way of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's flickr photostream)

We looked at a lot of pictures this morning, so I’ll just show one more.

Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Morning. Image Courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Morning. Image Courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Look at the suppressed emotion in the woman in the window. Is she waiting for her lover? Praying she’ll see her missing child run up the drive? Wondering where the heck the milkman is? Who knows?

The spa

The spa

Sad to say, my virtual feet are tired. I think it’s time to head back to the Mandarin Oriental Spa for another decadent treatment. (It’s a vacation, after all.) This time, I’m going for the Cherry Blossom Ritual, 1 hour 50 minutes of pure bliss. It begins with a foot ritual followed by a cherry scrub which is high in antioxidants to help strengthen the immune system and also removes dead skin cells and stimulates circulation. The ritual is then followed by an Aromatherapy Massage where the therapist will incorporate hot stones on the back. The use of stones aids the therapist to work deeper, giving relief to deep-seated muscle tension. A delightful cup of Cherry Tea concludes this Ritual.

It'll be dressier w/black slacks

It'll be dressier w/black slacks

The only proper way to follow a decadent spa treatment is with a decadent dinner. Fortunately, my hotel is home to CityZen, “one of the ‘Hottest Restaurants in the World’” per Food & Wine Magazine. The Chef, Eric Ziebold, is a James Beard Award winner. I’ll need to change for dinner (no denim allowed) so I’ll pair Sunday’s black trousers with this silk top which I found, not at you-know-where, but at Zappo’s.

CityZen at the Mandarin Oriental, DC

CityZen at the Mandarin Oriental, DC

I’m not feeling decadent enough to choose the six-course tasting menu (six courses. Mercy.) so I’ll opt for the three-course version.

Let’s see… Asparagus Thermidor (Warm Spring Asparagus with Mustard Cream and Maine Lobster Emulsion) to start, then Millefuille Of Prime Midwestern Beef (Bone Marrow Bread Pudding, Scorzonera Butter, Spring Asparagus and Béarnaise Gastrique), and finally, who can resist the Cityzen Candy Bar (Soft Chocolate Nougat, Caramel Peanuts and Chocolate Crunch with Port Reduction Sauce).

Sigh. I’m too contented to write any more. Nighty-night.

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