January 2009

D.C. is getting reading for the big weekend. And it being D.C., that preparation includes a little self-promotion for the district’s favorite issue: D.C. statehood.

These signs are posted all over the place near the convention center, where most of the official Inaugural Balls (the ones with Obama and Biden in attendance) will take place.

Allison Winter

photo: Allison Winter

I guess they think the Mighty Obama crowd, riding the wave of excitement from the Inauguration, might see the signs  and think, “Yeah, sure! We can! Let’s give that little district a vote!”


I periodically get emails from the White House announcing an emergency declaration for some state or county. These almost always respond to some sort of extreme weather event — a flood or wildfire. The emergency declaration helps farmers and other local people apply for federal disaster assistance. It’s usually because something terrible has happened in the place.

So I was amused to see this announcement today:


The President today declared an emergency exists in the District of Columbia and ordered Federal aid to supplement the District’s response efforts in support of the 56th Presidential Inauguration.

So, there is a little concert scheduled for the Sunday before the Inauguration. I recall going to a similar event for the GWBush naug in 2001. Ricky Martin sang and some cool military jets flew over. It was rainy but kind of fun.

I had thought this year’s concert might be a little more high profile, what with all the excitement among artists about Mr. Obama. But since all the focus has been on the swearing-in, I must admit I was hoping the concert would be a not-very-big deal. I thought if it was lower profile, I might have a chance of actually going to it and seeing something. I had visions of walking over after church. Maybe  seeing a military band. One moderately famous artist. A flyover. The president-elect.


I don’t think the Obama people do “not-very-big deal.” It’s not in their repertoire.

Instead, it is an embarrassment of riches.

They released the line-up tonight. Aaaand … we’re talking Bono, people.



But that’s not enough. Oh no. There will also be Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, will.i.am and Stevie Wonder. Plus Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington.

Are we missing anyone? Hosting by Angelina and Brad? Maybe a Beatles reunion? I am sure the Obama camp is working on it.

This is getting a little ridiculous, people.

You may have heard that a certain Mr. Barack H. Obama will be sworn in as President of the United States next week. They’re predicting a few (million) people might come to D.C. to watch.

I just found this picture (copied below) of Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inauguration, the first one to take place on the West front steps of the Capitol.  At 55 degrees, it was the warmest January inauguration on record.* (Official weather records go back to 1871.)


I guess it’s a pretty big crowd, but it looks incredibly skimpy compared to what I expect to see next week. And what do I expect to see next week, you ask? See that tan rectangle of the mall in Reagan’s photo? For Obama, I expect it to be completely packed with people watching a broadcast of the ceremony.

I expect a little something like this, but with more woolly hats:

Sebastian Willnow

Foto: Sebastian Willnow

Remember when candidate Obama, “the most famous celebrity in the world,” went to Berlin last summer? His speech drew a gigantic crowd. And those folks did not even have the two-and-a-half months to make travel arrangements that the inauguration go-ers have. Get, ready! Here they come…


*Weather footnote: Reagan wins for warmest and coldest inauguration. The weather, much like the American people, was extreme toward him — love him or hate him. Reagan’s 1985 inauguration was the coldest on record. It was held indoors, and they canceled the parade because it was so cold. I guess they worried the trombones might freeze to the poor kids’ mouths.  On Jan. 20th, 1985, the outside temperature at noon was 7 degrees F. The morning low was 4 below zero and the daytime high was 17 degrees. Wind chill during the afternoon was -10 to -20. brrrr!

Work, travel and holiday-related priorities have hindered my blogging in the past month. I’ll try to get back on the wagon now that things are starting to normalize a bit. Plus, I imagine there will be some interesting stories to tell over the next week!

For Christmas and New Years, Ned and I went on a two-week Western tour to spread tidings of comfort and joy in Denver and Breckenridge, Colo., and San Diego, Los Angeles and Pasadena, Calif. We were blessed to see many relatives on his side of the family.

During that time we worshiped in 5 different churches, hugged dozens of relatives, saw two good friends married, heard political speeches of the conservative and liberal bent (true to form, the California relatives were on the liberal side and the Kansas relatives on the conservative side), skied on snowy freezing mountains, walked on sunny beaches and ate many delicious cookies. We  witnessed a monkey uprising at the San Diego zoo, visited the studio of designer Kevan Hall, watched Jack Black watching the Kobe Bryant, marveled at the Rose Parade and accidentally discovered a nudist beach.

All in all, it was a pretty fantastic trip. I will try to post some pictures  — of the Rose Parade, not the nudist beach — just as soon as I can get the camera and computer speaking to one another.

Adoration of the Magi, painting by Sandro Botticelli

Adoration of the Magi, painting by Sandro Botticelli

Happy Epiphany! After the wonderful 12 days of Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany today. We remember the wise men visiting the baby Jesus and celebrate Christ’s manifestation to the Gentiles and the world.

My favorite thing to read on this day is T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Journey of the Magi:

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.