#63 Performance at the Kennedy Center

On 11/2/17, Mary Ann and I went down to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC to see “The Book of Mormon”. The performance was on a Thursday night, thus making it a good retirement experience. We could drive down there whenever we wanted and return as late as needed and not have to worry about leaving work early or going to work the next day. I like doing these things on a weekday. However, there was a downside as the show started at 7:30 in the evening. We still had to contend with rush hour traffic to get there on time. Waze sent us through a labyrinth of side roads to get there on time.

The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a great venue to experience live performances. A pretty classy place. It seemed that everyone was dressed up for the show. Our performance was in the large opera house part of the building. “The Book of Mormon” was not an opera but a wacky musical. While it made plenty of fun at the Mormons, it was very Politically Incorrect, making fun of most religions and peoples. Surprisingly enough, even in the Politically Correct culture of the Washington area, people still laughed at all the satire. It was a good show.

I would recommend taking in a play or musical (It would not be in my nature to recommend an opera though – personal opinion. See Retirement Experience #17) at the Kennedy Center.

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#62 Field Trip with Grandchildren

A little background on this retirement experience. Since retiring, I have been involved in the grandkids after school care. At first I was just an extra body with Mary Ann doing the heavy lifting.  But as time has gone on, I have become more involved. I go along with Mary Ann to pick them up from school, help with their homework, read to them, sit and talk to them as they eat their snack, and play with them – sometimes ‘wrasslin’ to get their energy out. All in one hour a day. While I was still working, I was not involved at all.

One thing I had not done was go on a field trip with any of the grandkids. Even though I was not asked, I would have been petrified to be locked into an activity and have to be responsible for several kids. Normally, either Kristin, Chris, or Grammy (Mary Ann) would happily do the honors. However, a field trip bumped into a major scheduling conflict. Annie’s pre-school class was going on a field trip on 11/14/17 and none of the responsible, reliable adults (Kristin, Chris, or Grammy) were available. That left Papa (me). I was available. I was approached and after they explained it would only be an hour and I only had to watch one other kid besides Annie and we were only going a mile away from school, I accepted.

The field trip turned out to be a tour of Giant Foods, a local grocery store. Why a grocery store? To learn about nutritious foods. A few parents and a couple of teachers gathered up a group of 3 year olds, placed them in their car’s respective bulky car seats, and drove over to the grocery store.

I had two kids to watch. Annie and Mackenzie. We all held hands and they were on their best behavior. We made one loop around the store – produce section, dairy, deli, meats, seafood, and frozen foods. Out of all of those sections, it boiled down to see the fruits and vegetables, see the milk, eat a slice of cheese, learn meats are proteins, touch a live lobster, and see the massive amounts of ice cream in the frozen section. At the end of the tour they even had a demonstration of the checkout line. (Now, I think that was a bit much for 3 year olds to grasp.)  They left with a goodie bag including an apple, water bottle, pencil, coloring book, and a wrist band. Whohoo. What Annie got out of it was wanting to go back with me to ‘Giant Food’ (not ‘the grocery store’) and buy her Lucky Charms and ice cream.

I survived this retirement experience with a promise to Annie that I would take her back to Giant Food to get Lucky Charms and ice cream. She did not let me forget it, either. In fact, the next week we (Mary Ann and I) took her grocery shopping. We got all the thing we needed in addition to, of course, Lucky Charms and ice cream.

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#61 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

On my way home from dropping Mary Ann off at Reagan National Airport for her visit with her sisters on 11/4/17, I stopped at Arlington National Cemetery to tour the cemetery. My original purpose was to visit my parent’s niche (in the columbarium) and my uncle’s grave. It was a pleasant fall afternoon so it was good for a long walk to see the other highlights of the cemetery and take photographs.

I visited the Kennedy family gravesite where President John F. Kennedy and his family are buried with the ‘Eternal Flame’ burning. However, the most impressive place in the cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a monument dedicated to U.S. service members who have died without their remains being identified. The tomb is continuously guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Periodically, the guard changes (every half hour, every hour, or every 2 hours, depending on the day and time). All day long there is a large crowd witnessing the guard performing the meticulous routine to watch over the tomb, as well as the periodic changing of the guard.

As I watched the guard pacing along the path and witnessing the changing of the guard, I was moved at the symbolism of the tomb and the dedication of the soldiers performing their duty. I was also impressed that the large crowd remained respectably quiet throughout the entire continuous ceremony.

When in DC, the Arlington National Cemetery is a worthwhile place to visit.

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#60 Professional Football Game

For the first time in a long time I experienced a professional football game in person. The Washington Redskins played the Dallas Cowboys in FedEx Field on 10/29/17. Around here, that is the one of the best games you attend. It used to be a big rivalry. I don’t know if it is as much anymore. But if you can get tickets, you should go. My daughter had tickets but could not go, so I was given the opportunity. Although the forecast was rain all day, I just had to go. This was the first time I had been to a game in FedEx Field, so it had been more than 20 years since I had experienced a Redskins game in person.

Mark, and I arrived early to meet up with Andy in his special parking spot where he had a tailgate party. A couple of hours and a couple beers and some great grilled food, then we were off to the game. The rain did not start until near game time and got progressively worse as the game progressed. Even though we had our ponchos, we did not need them during the game. We were seated in one of the few rows that were covered.

Watching the game was fun. We had great view from our 35 yard line seats. The Redskins had a few moments of brilliance, but that faded as the Cowboys got their act together and beat them, 33-19.

So being a little critical (cynical?), here are some observations.

  1. With the injection of politics into the game by the players, it appears less of a sport than it used to be. This year it seems that the biggest news is which players protested and how the fans have reacted by losing interest in the game. Fortunately this time, when the National Anthem played, there were no players sitting down. However, I did notice several fans who refused to even stand. Sad.
  2. The chosen uniform for the Redskins (whose name continues to be attacked some people think it is insensitive) was the throwback uniform from the 1960’s and before. However, they modified the helmet to remove the spear that was the highlight of the helmet, instead using the ‘R’ from the 70’s. Political correctness.
  3. It seems not many people arrive to the game on time. The rain may have played a part in that. The stadium was perhaps 90% full, but only half full at game time.
  4. There were a lot of Cowboys fans, more than I thought would be there. Not a majority, but a whole lot.
  5. There are a lot of people at the game that do not pay attention to the action on the field. Chatting, taking selfies, you name it.
  6. When you are at the game, you are very aware of the delays – TV time outs and replays. The flow of the game is disrupted. With all those time outs, who needs the 2 minute warning?

Now as you can see from one of the pictures, I have a confession to make. I have never been a big Redskin fan. I liked watching them when they had their good years. However, they have been disappointing for so many years now that I have lost interest in them. Since Mark is a big Cowboys fan and he had an extra shirt, I thought, “What the heck? Why not become a Cowboys fan?” So while pro football is not nearly as good as college football, if I want to enjoy a pro game, I might as well side with the Cowboys. America’s Team.

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Photograph of the month: October 2017

I took another photography class at Montgomery College – Landscape and Cityscape Photography. I am trying to become aware of scenes in both the country side and inside cities. Hopefully more of these photographs in the future.

Besides writing about my experiences, I thought it would be good to document some of my better photographs. Keeps me active in my photography.

This photograph is just a simple field in the countryside of Virginia, near Leesburg. The hay has been harvested, awaiting delivery to a farm.

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