Archive for December, 2007

A little excitement in this neck of the woods yesterday. Apparently a fire broke out in a “utility closet” at the Eisenhower Executive Office, right next to the White House. A woman interviewed on the news last night said it all, “Probably was Cheney sneaking a cigarette. Some young secretary, though, will ‘take one for the team’ so he won’t be blamed”…

On my walk this morning I asked Thomas about it. His observation, “There was an overload of fire and police there, most who sat in their cars, running the engines to keep warm. They blocked off the whole area for hours for what was a lot of smoke and little fire – what a waste.” Was he referring to government in general one wonders. He and Sofia were shivering as it’s a bit cold out. I asked him if he wanted to borrow my scarf but he said he was fine.  The sun was beginning to peer over the WH, steam gently rising from our voices. Maybe tomorrow I should bring coffee.

On my third trip around the park I passed a couple of Japanese tourists who asked me where the WH was as they stood right in front of it. For a split second I thought of my dad, who once while standing at the top of the World Trade Tower in NYC, overheard some Spanish tourists wondering what Staten Island was. Dad, who speaks Spanish, leaned over and said, “Alcatraz”.  I wish he was here as I couldn’t think fast enough and simply, silently, pointed to the building. Next time I’ll have an answer ready, any ideas?

Oh yeah, remember the man sitting on the park bench with 1800’s clothes on? What really was striking was his top hat, it definitely looked like an Abe Lincoln kind of thing. He had on evening attire, including white scarf and spit-polished shoes, and I was too new to the Park to dare intrude on his solitude and ask what’s up. Yesterday I did go to see the play, A Christmas Carol, and Ebenezer Scrooge was wearing the same hat! Different men, but if I ever see my guy again, I’ll have to cross the great “stranger” divide and inquire.

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I started walking recently (for the proverbial health improvement reasons) and discovered Lafayette Park next to the White House to be the perfect half hour trek for my “before work 1/2 hour of exercise”. It’s been about a month now and I find I discover something new almost daily as long as I closely observe this microcosm of D.C.

They maintain the park beautifully, albeit rather nosily with leaf blowers going. They also clean the street & office buildings that are on the east/west sides of the WH (or is it the north/south — I can never get my directions right). The definition of “street” needs to be re-written for these as they have now been totally blocked off and only security or other approved vehicles are allowed. Of course, a part of Penn Ave is also closed off, so in this very hectic city, you actually have a little oasis of semi-quiet, mostly breathable air in which to walk.

 The park itself has been in a constant state of construction or repair or whatever is going on behind those green temporary barriers since I’ve started ambling. Having seen different flowers at different times of the year, I assume some of them are actually gardening related. It’s all a bit dormant now, given its winter status, but still interesting enough to provide new tidbits for observation – of the people kind for now anyway.

I know I have seen Senators, Congress people and other “important” individuals, however, I can’t recognize most of them for beans, thus I tend not to get excited about anyone. But for those I do recognize, (Clinton as in Mister, Kerry before he lost, and someone else I can’t remember right now), it does make the heart beat a little faster as I know I’m looking at history. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t recognize others since I don’t think my heart would beat faster for any Republican I saw…or if it did, it would be for different reasons.

I have met Thomas and his dog Sofia who sit in the one protest spot right in front of the WH. We haven’t had much conversation yet, but he did mention he has been arrested numerous times – the latest attempt trying to say he violated some kind of camping law. It got so much press, he said, that the right to free speech folks raised such a “ruckus, that they’ve let me pretty much alone since”.  More conversations to come I think. I chat with him on my fourth and final tour of the park before I leave and head-off to work.

I thought I would start keeping a blog of my walking, calling it “Views from a White House Outsider” as I’m physically outside of the WH every morning. If I ever get to go inside, why, I’ll have to start a new post. Next time, I’ll cover the man sitting on the park bench in full evening gear – of the 1800’s.

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