Dead hummingbirds and broken card machines…

… were the only dystopian elements of the otherwise utopian Glenstone Museum and grounds in Potomac, Maryland – a short ride from Garrett Park. We reserved the visit months in advance cuz the place is madly popular and they keep the numbers low to make the visit meditative… Come to think of it, there was a third less than utopian aspect to the place, though Mr UD disagrees — an audio installation in the forest, which UD enjoyed but found a wee hokey (‘what a forest might “hear” over the course of hundreds of years.’). Twenty eight minutes of natural and unnatural sounds bouncing around your ears ended in Arvo Pärt’s Nunc Dimittis, which UD will admit was pretty cool, the high soprano at the end piercing the trees.

On the dead hummingbirds: The big windows surrounding this tranquil water garden in the main pavilion (which featured a whitewashed room full of Cy Twombly sculptures) are, one of the gray-outfitted art guides confided to me, fatal to them.

Mr UD gazes.

The Patio cafe, which does not take cash, had trouble today with its card reading machines; we gave up on it and went to the other cafe on the grounds. On the way, Mr UD gave me his lecture on why it’s appalling that some places refuse to take cash. “A lot of poor people can’t go to these places.”

Les UDs are about to visit…

… ‘D.C.’s new must-see art museum.’ Glenstone.

They’ve got some Cy Twombly sculptures. UD loves Cy Twombly.

Roland Barthes on Twombly.

Exotic Asian Ruins
Actually, an old mill in Montgomery County, Maryland. UD and her sister walked the trails around it this afternoon.

Snapshots from Home

Admittedly, it’s easy to make stories like this funny. So this reporter gets no points for difficulty. Still – she does a fine job. Enjoy your inside look at UD‘s next-town-over neighbors.

Web Presence.

UD is developing a sideline in spider web photography. She took this earlier shot in her woods; and this afternoon she snapped an enormous web along the side of her house.

A dreary, massively over-enlarged house…

… with a basketball court inside. Whatever the Washington Post thinks, this is the opposite of a true Garrett Park house, its owners having destroyed lots of greenery (Garrett Park is an arboretum) in order to make a very large house even larger.

UD is anxious to dissociate her beloved town from this monstrosity.

The town has excellent basketball courts in a beautiful setting, but you wouldn’t want to play with the riffraff. Much better to take up all the privacy and most of the yard on your lot, and throw massive shade over neighboring houses, in order to build an indoor basketball court and who knows what other pointless fillings-up of pointless space inside your fourteenth addition.

The property has been on the market for eighty days, while Garrett Park houses usually sell in minutes. Here’s hoping its obscene asking price plus grotesque excess keep this house on the market forever. Karma sucks, don’t it.

Saturday, as longtime readers know, is market day in Garrett Park, Maryland…

UD‘s home, and she took a few photos yesterday to share with you.

Watching an endless train jammed with coal as it screams through town. Market is to the left just out of the picture.
On the basketball court, tai chi.
Rabbit welcomes UD back to her house.

Talk about camouflage.
UD finds a sphinx moth of some kind on her brick wall.

‘While the national poverty rate has dropped from 14.8% to 12.3% since 2014, Baltimore’s remains virtually unchanged at 22.4%. Children are trapped in failing schools that can’t teach them to read or do math at grade level. No wonder Sen. Bernie Sanders once compared Baltimore to “a Third World country” and said it is “a community in which half of the people don’t have jobs [and] in which there are hundreds of buildings that are uninhabitable.” This is happening in Maryland, the richest state in the country. Talk about income inequality.’

That’s what’s staggering to UD – that Baltimore is happening in the richest state in the country.

Longtime readers may recall that UD – a native of the city, born in Johns Hopkins Hospital – was in Baltimore the day after the Freddie Gray riots. Her account of her time there is here. Here. And here.

Spider Web, Morning Sun…
UD‘s forest.

While standing in a hot line in full sunlight yesterday in front of the Natural History Museum…

UD was approached by a man in line ahead of her who said Ma’am I’ve got the last of the shade up here and I want to switch places with you so that you can have it. UD gratefully accepted his offer and reflected, as she glanced at his MAGA hat (she’d overheard that he was visiting from Tulsa and was here for the festivities on the Mall), that it’s always crude and stupid to perceive other people in broad ideological terms. Leaving your little house in an affluent lefty bubble in ‘thesda and heading into the sweltering city means encountering the actuality of individuals. “Sometimes you just feel you need a humanity bath,” said Saul Bellow, and for UD you need the bath because money and technology and group-think make it easy to remove yourself altogether from the human story, and that removal really has to be resisted if you want to go on being human.

Today however UD was firmly within her tribe, putting out more and more beach chairs at the end of her driveway so that her Garrett Park neighbors could watch our little parade (theme this year: Garrett Park is an Arboretum) on yet another sweltering afternoon. By the time Mr UD stood up to read excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, a crowd had gathered to join us as we saluted, a few minutes later, the parade marshal, 93 year old Barbara Shidler, with whom UD‘s mother gardened and landscaped and helped establish the arboretum (scroll down to Mitzi Rapp).

Love of country; love of town. The day inspires.

On UD’s City Walk this Morning.

It’s one day before the Trumptacular, and as UD took a long hot walk from Union Station to the Natural History Museum, she heard tomorrow’s National Anthem singer rehearse the piece (UD sang along).

Many police, tents, and porta potties.
Flags, bunting, the works.
The T-Rex in the new Fossil Hall.

The term “residential depression” refers to in-clinic treatment for the disorder…

… as in “Sierra Tucson is the best residential depression treatment center,” but UD has long used the phrase to name something she noticed – perhaps felt is better – years ago, on visiting the vast house of some relatives, a married couple. Like UD, they grew up in middle class Jewish Baltimore and every year when young attended messy noisy happy jam-packed seders in narrow city row houses where cheap wine freely flowed among children and adults.

Having made it, her relatives now floated in a house whose high-ceilinged dining room sat forty people who never materialized, and whose cellared wine lay stacked as in an above-ground cemetery. They knew their neighbors (acres away in a treeless field) only in the territorial way of worrying about whether these people’s extensive lawn projects impinged on their own extensive lawn projects (recall Rand Paul’s serious injuries when one of his neighbors attacked him in a roiling dispute over grass clippings).

Home is so sad, wrote Philip Larkin; but in this poem he’s describing the sadness of having tried but failed to create a comfortable and meaningful domestic space – which is to say, having tried to make a happy life. The house started as

A joyous shot at how things ought to be,

Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:

Look at the pictures and the cutlery.

The music in the piano stool. That vase.

The pathos of Larkin’s house lies in the joyous shot at beauty and depth it obviously tried to be, if you look at its carefully and lovingly chosen pictures and music and vases. The cold pastoral of my relatives’ house lay in it having been conceived and elaborated as pure status display.

UD thought back on that house when she read Robert Shiller on the bohemoth waste of the big house. Shiller understands that “[h]aving a big house is a symbol of success, and people want to look successful,” but, as another finance person, Ellen Weber, notes in the same article, megamcmansions are “ludicrous.” Both she and Shiller are appalled not only at the economic stupidity of this sort of investment (many houses in my local megamcmansion region, Potomac, Maryland, are going begging; and I guess it’s tough all over) but at all the dead air inside it. Weber:

[F]amilies are shrinking. … More and more of our stuff is stored electronically; we should need less storage for it. There’s also a tendency to buy houses with big yards that most people do not use but end up spending lots of money paying someone else to mow and maintain.


[W]e don’t need elaborate kitchens, because we have all kinds of delivery services for food. And maybe you don’t need a workshop in your basement, either. You used to have a filing cabinet for your tax information, but now it’s all electronic, so you don’t need that, either. And bookshelves, for people who read a lot. We have electronic books now, so we don’t need bookshelves anymore.

From another article on the subject:

[M]edian house size has increased by some 1,000 square feet over the past 50 years. At the same time, the average size of the household has fallen as people have fewer kids than in earlier generations, [Wharton real estate professor Benjamin Keys note[s]. “For the houses that don’t fit the families, the prices are going to have to fall.” Add[s] [Dowell Myers, a public policy professor]: “The millennials seem to have a taste for living more sparsely. They don’t want as much furniture. They don’t want as much space.”

Dead space, and depressed people. If you listen, you can hear them singing: Is that all there is?

On this morning’s pick up trash walk.
Informative plaque about Garrett Park.

Excess signage around Garrett Park’s Black Market Bistro.

Seen on today’s early morning pick up trash walk. UD thought she’d have plenty to pick up – Saturday was insane with activity all over town – but the town crew must have swept through late yesterday, because the streets were frustratingly pristine. She did collect one half-full bottle (calorie free health drink, natch) in Wells Park, and a black plastic fork in front of the tennis courts, but that was it.

UD also lays some of the blame on fellow Garrett Parkers, who, all day long every day, do exactly what UD does.

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