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This post is kind of special in a way. Not only is it the last of the purely winter holiday 2018 posts but it also marks Washington, DC when it was in the early days of the latest federal government shutdown.

When Donald Trump decided to refuse to sign any budget bills unless he gets his border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border (a demand that most experts say is a waste of money that won’t keep out illegal immigrants), the federal government underwent a shutdown. The Smithsonian and many of the other tourist buildings were able to remain open by tapping into some extra funds but they only had enough money to keep the buildings open until January 1. I decided to spend a day doing something fun downtown since it was still the winter holiday season and it would be my last chance to check out any of the government-funded buildings for a long time. (The federal government remains shut as of this writing.)

To make things even more fun, I decided to pack my latest doll, a Hairdorables Willow that I unboxed just a few days earlier on Christmas Day.

I headed to the Greenbelt Metro station where I saw that one of the periodical boxes has been refurbished as a Little Free Library. This particular one has mainly paperback books and magazines, which are perfect for commuters.

Here’s Willow standing near a giant panda bear statue advertising the annual Zoolights event at the National Zoo (which was among the places that remained opened until January 1). I’ve been to Zoolights other years (in 2012 and 2016) but I wasn’t able to squeeze in a trip this time due to tight finances. (Even though admission to the zoo is free, it still costs money to take the Metro to the zoo.)

I arrived at the U.S. Botanic Garden, which looked very festive for the holidays.

There was an outdoor toy train that rode around. There was an indoor toy train layout inside of the U.S. Botanic Conservatory building but there was such a long line that I decided to skip it and focus on the other exhibitions instead.

The cool thing about the U.S. Botanic Garden is that it has a special holiday display of replicas of various Washington, DC area landmarks that were all made from natural materials. These replicas were scattered throughout the building among the various flora and fauna. The next photo shows the newest of the Smithsonian buildings, the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Here’s the U.S. Capitol Building.

There were poinsettias in a variety of colors placed throughout the building.

The next few photos show a replica of the U.S. Supreme Court building.

Two topiary bears flanked a replica of Union Station.

There were a few Christmas trees placed throughout the Conservatory.

This photo shows the replica of the Library of Congress.

This photo shows the replica of the U.S. Botanic Conservatory building right inside of the real thing.

The next two photos show the replica of the White House.

Here’s a replica of the Washington Monument.

Willow the Hairdorables doll poses next to the Washington Monument replica.

A soon-to-be-furloughed Botanic Garden employee shows a few cocoa bean pods to visitors. (The building was crowded the day I went there.)

I also took photos of the various flora and fauna inside of the Conservatory.

A replica of two ships could be found among the flora and fauna.

The next few photos show a replica of the historic train station in Ellicott City, Maryland.

I shot a closeup of a wall that consisted only of pink poinsettias.

The outside of the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory building was festively decorated with two green wreaths.

Across from the Conservatory is another part of the U.S. Botanic Garden known as Bartholdi Park. The focal point of this park is a fountain that was sculpted by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who also designed the Statue of Liberty.

The water was shut off for the winter but the fountain still looked impressive, especially paired with some nice cloud formations that were there when I shot these photos.

The last photo shows some winter cabbage that were planted near the fountain.

After my time at the U.S. Botanic Garden, I walked over to the nearby U.S. Capitol Building.

Here’s a photo of my Hairdorables Willow doll with the U.S. Capitol Building in the background.

Standing near the U.S. Capitol was the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. It’s not quite as elaborately decorated as the National Christmas Tree that’s located near the White House (which I last visited in 2016 when Barack Obama still occupied the White House) but it’s charming in its own way.

I took another shot of my Hairdorables Willow doll next to both the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and the U.S. Capitol Building.

As I was walking away from the U.S. Capitol, I took a nice photo of the National Mall at twilight along with some nice cloud formation.

Here’s another shot of my Hairdorables Willow doll.

I walked a few blocks to Union Station. The next photo shows that Union Station is located along a path that’s part of the East Coast Greenway.

The next photos show the outside of Union Station all decked out for the winter holiday season.

Here’s a shot of one of the giant wreaths as taken from inside of the archway leading to Union Station.

Each year the Norwegian Embassy puts up a large Christmas tree in Union Station that’s usually decked out with U.S. and Norwegian flags and various Norwegian-made ornaments.

Here’s the last photo I took of my Hairdorables Willow doll on this trip where she’s next to the Christmas tree.

The Norwegian embassy also puts up this elaborate toy train layout that’s based on the terrain of Norway and one can see toy trains running throughout this layout.

The one new thing I noticed about Union Station is that it now has a special virtual reality video game arcade.

This arcade sports a giant video game that bills itself as “The World’s Largest Pac-Man Game.” For only $1 per game, one can choose to play either Pac-Man or Galaga. I didn’t play on this gaming machine but I saw the tail end of one Pac-Man game while someone else took over the machine and chose to play Galaga instead.

The virtual reality area offered the chance to play vr versions of video games like Argyle Shift, Mario Kart, and Ski Rodeo. I didn’t try any of the games because, as you can see in the next photo, the prices were pretty expensive.

I ended my trip by buying sushi from the only Walgreens location that I know of that actually sells sushi. The sushi I had tasted pretty good.

Since I took those photos, the U.S. Botanic Garden is now closed due to the federal government shutdown. Yesterday I learned that unless Donald Trump relents and signs the federal bill, tomorrow will break the record for the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history. Sigh!

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I haven’t been attending the weekly meetings of my support group for people who are separated or divorced as much as I used to. It’s due partly to my ten-year-old car (I don’t drive that car very far these days because it has a lot of problems—such as a broken taillight with the electrical short that makes changing the lightbulb a waste of time because I need to spend a lot of money to get a new circuit board installed) and due partly because many of the topics that are discussed in those meetings (such as “How to Begin Your Emotional Divorce”) I have already heard before. (That’s the thing about going to weekly divorce recovery meetings—after a year or so, the topics start to repeat.)

Once a year my support group has a party instead of its regular weekly meeting that’s usually held on the Thursday after Christmas. The party is potluck so everyone is invited to bring food to share. People are also invited to take an unwanted gift that someone else had given to them, wrap it up, and bring it to the party for the White Elephant gift exchange. Those parties are always fun and lively and I decided to drive to that party because I haven’t seen many of the regular attendees in a long while.

Since I hadn’t received any gifts for Christmas I didn’t have an unwanted present to share. The party organizers said that one can opt to buy a new present just for this party as long as it doesn’t cost more than $30. With my current tight financial situation, I initially thought about shopping at Five Below. I’ve bought previous White Elephant gifts at that store. I had intended to go to Aldi first to buy some food for the party (I ended up buying some potato chips) then go on to Five Below. I made a turn into a shopping center in Bowie in an effort to go to Aldi until I found out that it was the wrong shopping center and Aldi was located in a different shopping center located just a mile away. As I was about to leave the shopping center, I saw a Tuesday Morning store so I decided to park there instead and go in.

I hit pay dirt in that store immediately. The front of the store had Christmas decorations for 50% off and I saw something that was so unusual that I thought it would be perfect for the White Elephant. It was a zebra wearing a Santa hat with a saddle full of gifts. (I later took these photos in the Market Cafe at Wegmans where I bought a soda and did some Internet web surfing before the party). I’ve seen Christmas donkeys, Christmas reindeer, and Christmas camels before but I’ve never seen a Christmas zebra until I bought it at Tuesday Morning.

Here are the price tags that were attached to the Christmas zebra that I removed before I put it in the gift bag. The left tag shows the original $25 price tag. The right tag showed the reduced price of $12.99. By the time I purchased that zebra the price had been reduced further to just $6. It wasn’t shown on either tag but it showed up when I paid for it at the cash register.

I went to Aldi where I purchased the chips. I also saw this chocolate Santa bag for $3 that I thought would be great for the gift bag as well. Here are the photos.

This bag consisted of a tall chocolate Santa Claus with smaller chocolate ornaments, all of which were made in Germany.

I arrived at the usual meeting place for the party. The group meetings are held in a hall that’s located just a few feet away from the Presbyterian Church (who rents out the facility to the group). Usually the hall tends not to be decorated at all for the holidays. (The main church building is the one that gets all of the decorations.) This year someone affiliated with the church decided to deck out that separate building as well so there was a decorated Christmas tree.

Here’s a close up of the tree showing what looks like elf legs sticking out. (LOL!)

Even the fireplace in the hall was decked out with festive Christmas decorations. (I assume that it’s a working fireplace. I’ve never seen the support group use it.)

The party had fewer people than in previous years. (I don’t know why either.) It also turned out that someone from the group had brought three presents to the party (instead of the usual one) because she thought that there’s a chance that a new person might be attending what he/she thought was the usual support group meeting when it was really a party and it would be nice for that new person to be able to participate as well. (That has actually happened in previous years.) I thought it was pretty nice of her.

Under the rules of the White Elephant, one could opt to steal a gift from someone else. What happened is the the person who picked up my gift bag thought the Christmas zebra was amusing but she balked at the chocolates because she said that it was too much sweets for her. She put my bag back on the table while she swiped someone else’s gift.

At the end of the party there were three extra gifts, including the one I had brought. Two people volunteered to take the two other presents while leaving the gift I brought behind. I thought it was a shame to leave the Christmas zebra and chocolates behind so I took it back home. The Christmas zebra was added to my Christmas decorations and it looked quite nice with the rest of them. Yesterday I packed the zebra up with the rest of the Christmas decorations and put everything back in the attic. As for the chocolates, I’ve been slowly been eating a little of the pack at a time. I found the chocolate to be quite tasty and I’ll be sad once I run out.

As for the gift I chose at the White Elephant gift exchange, I picked up a gift bag that contained two Christmas dish cloths.

I also received a pair of heavy slipper socks which will be perfect to sleep in during the cold winter nights of January and February.

I also got a photo album with a Christmas cover on it. It has been years since I ever thought about getting a photo album to store photos in because I take digital photographs all the time and I store them in my computer. It’s a nice photo album but I don’t know if I’ll ever find a use for it since I rarely print out photographs these days. I have to admit that a photo album makes the quintessential White Elephant gift. (LOL!)

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Santa Claus

Last year I did a digital drawing using Santa’s Canvas, a special Christmas drawing app called Santa’s Canvas that Google has as part of its annual Santa Tracker section. This year I did a couple of more digital drawings using that same app. Enjoy!

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Santa Claus

Earlier this month I went to my church’s annual Holiday Warm-Up Party where I took these photos.

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

A week before the party I took part in a local event where I made a Norwegian-style heart-shaped paper ornament. I ended up bringing that ornament to the party where I hung it on the Christmas tree.

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

The festivities included trimming the Christmas tree.

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

We had a singalong where we sang a variety of Hanukkah and Christmas music.

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

We also played a few rounds of Charades.

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

Here is what the church’s Christmas Tree looked like by the end of the party.

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 8, 2018

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President Donald Trump had initiated a partial shutdown of the federal government right before Christmas. I live outside of Washington, DC and I’m seeing the fallout in real time and it’s even affecting Christmas Eve.

Let me explain. I haven’t set foot inside of a suburban shopping mall on Christmas Eve in many years. My mother took me on such a Christmas Eve outing when I was a child and we didn’t last too long because the crowds were more intense and the lines were incredibly long. Even getting a soda from a food stand required waiting in line for at least 15 minutes or longer.

As an adult I made an effort to avoid making mall trips on Christmas Eve. I only did it one year. My then-husband and I used to have a tradition of hanging mistletoe at the entrance to the kitchen. One year I wasn’t able to find mistletoe. In a last act of desperation, I went to the now-defunct Frank’s Nursery & Crafts at a local mall on Christmas Eve. I woke up at 7 am and I made my way to the store by 8 am. I quickly found some mistletoe then I ran to the checkout line so I could pay for it. As I waited in a relatively short line I saw hordes of people making their way into the store, which signaled to me that I needed to get the hell out of the shopping mall parking lot ASAP. Once I paid for the mistletoe, I quickly exited the store, got in my car, and drove back home while I saw cars coming into the parking lot and quickly taking up parking spaces.

I discovered a long time ago that many of the stores located in downtown Baltimore and Washington, DC tended to have far fewer people on Christmas Eve since so many people basically stayed in the suburbs and shopped. Whenever I needed to make a last-minute purchase, I found that it was far easier to either take the Metro into downtown DC or drive into Baltimore than to face a parking lot in a suburban shopping mall.

This afternoon I left early because I needed to add gas to my car since I had planned on attending a 5 p.m. Christmas Eve service at my church. I went to a gas station that was located across the street from Beltway Plaza Mall in Greenbelt, Maryland and I saw something shocking. In previous years both the front and back parking lots would be literally filled with cars on Christmas Eve. Not this year. In fact it was no more crowded at Beltway Plaza than it usually is on a Saturday.

After I got the gas, I drove to the back parking lot and found plenty of spaces, which was weird because I remember that Christmas Eve used to be the one occasion where the back lot would be as filled with cars as the front lot. I walked over to Target, where I found that the store wasn’t any more crowded than it usually is on a Saturday. I leisurely walked around the store and it wasn’t mobbed at all. I purchased a few items and I was able to pay cash at the checkout line in less than 10 minutes. That store still had tons of Christmas items on sale, such as this Christmas sweater.

Target also sold this game for kids that’s literally shitty called Flushin Frenzy. And, yes, it came with a piece of poop with this creepy looking open smile. (LOL!)

I walked around the rest of the mall and it wasn’t overly crowded. Here I was at a suburban shopping mall on Christmas Eve and it was no more crowded than usual.

The mall was decorated in a very festive manner, complete with a Christmas tree.

Located next to the Christmas tree was a typical mall Santa who looked totally bored due to the fact that few kids were lining up to meet with him.

This reindeer looks at the few people who were actually shopping on Christmas Eve.

Even the dollar store didn’t have a huge amount of people shopping in there.

The more I walked around Beltway Plaza on Christmas Eve, the more I realize that something was horribly wrong. The fact that I could find easy parking. The fact that the lines in all of the stores were short. This was NOT a normal Christmas Eve.

At one point I decided to eat lunch in Three Brothers Pizza where I had no trouble with ordering food and drink then finding seating. Soon afterwards one of my friends walked into the same place with his wife and they sat at a table next to mine. He and his wife also noticed how the mall was not very crowded for a Christmas Eve and we compared notes as to what was going on.

I’ll admit that Beltway Plaza was the only mall I went to on Christmas Eve. If it weren’t for the fact that I had volunteered to serve usher duty at the 5 p.m. service at my church, I would have taken the Silver Line Metro to Tyson’s Corner Mall to see if that mall also had fewer shoppers. (Tyson’s Corner Mall is a far more upscale mall than Beltway Plaza with stores that included American Girl Place, Michael Kors, and the Apple Store.) But it would’ve been cutting it very close to go to Virginia then return to Maryland by 4 p.m. so I could arrive at the church a half-hour early, like I was requested to do since I was serving as one of the ushers.

After the Christmas service ended at church (along with my usher duties), I realized that I forgot to purchase a few Christmas cards that I needed to buy so I returned to Target. It was around 6:30 p.m. The parking lot was slightly more crowded than it was in the afternoon but I still had no problem with finding a place to park. I found a pack on Christmas cards that were already on sale for 30% off. (The price was originally $7 but I bought the pack for around $4.90.) I only had to wait around 10 minutes before I reached the checkout counter and paid for the cards.

The whole situation with being able to shop in a suburban shopping mall on Christmas Eve without facing huge crowds seemed very odd to me. In some ways, it seemed alarming as well. I know some of you may say that it’s because more and more are shopping online at websites like eBay and Amazon. Yes, I know that’s true to some extent but here’s the thing: Online shopping has been around since the mid- to late-1990s. Despite that, I still continued to see cars filling up the suburban shopping mall parking lots every Christmas Eve until this year.

I think something’s amiss and I think it’s due to the current political and economic situation in the United States. Donald Trump intimated a partial shutdown of the federal government over building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border just a few days before Christmas. There are federal employees who literally don’t know when they will get their next paycheck and this uncertainty has spiraled into spending less at Christmas.

If that weren’t enough, Donald Trump made this bizarre tweet about the Federal Reserve on Christmas Eve.

That tweet has led to a dramatic plunge on the stock market.

Then he made this self-pitying tweet that made me wish that someone would invoke the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and remove this guy from office.

“Poor me”?!? He was writing like a teenage girl who’s upset that her boyfriend had abruptly dumped her. Of course he’s being completely roasted on Twitter and he deserved it.

But that wasn’t all. On Christmas Eve Donald Trump and his wife Melania were taking phone calls from children asking if Santa Claus is being tracked as he starts to begin delivering Christmas presents. Here is what happened next, as documented by BBC News:

Trump (in booming voice) to a kid named Coleman: “Hello, is this Coleman? Merry Christmas. How are you? How old are you?…. Are you doing well in school? Are you still a believer in Santa?”

Footage of the incident circulating on social media shows Mr Trump then telling the boy: “Because at seven, it’s marginal, right?”

WHAT THE FUCK?!? I swear Donald Trump should NOT even be allowed to talk to children if he’s going to make idiotic statements like that. This is so reminiscent of what happened when a group of kids went trick or treating in the Oval Office on Halloween and that inappropriate political speech he gave at a Boy Scout Jamboree last year.

So Trump made the federal government shut down, put out a tweet that caused the stock market to drop suddenly, and sent out additional tweets that has people calling for the 25th Amendment to be invoked. It’s no wonder that the hashtags #25thAmendment and #25thAmendmentNow are currently trending on Twitter. It’s also no wonder that I’m not seeing as many people head to the suburban shopping malls to make last-minute purchases on Christmas Eve as in past years.

This year I decided to check out the opening ceremony of the Festival of Lights that was held at Roosevelt Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. As you can see from the photographs, it was a well-attended event. The weather was cold but it was pretty clear with no rain or snow. (My area has been getting tons of rain this year and it gets pretty tiresome after a while. Thanks for nothing, global warming!)

Festival of Lights Opening Ceremony, November 30, 2018

Here is what the official Festival of Lights tree looked like before it was lit for the first time. The box that held the tree had Santa Claus decorated on all sides.

Festival of Lights Opening Ceremony, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Ceremony, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Ceremony, November 30, 2018

The local orchestra played a variety of winter holiday tunes.

Festival of Lights Opening Ceremony, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Ceremony, November 30, 2018

Santa Claus arrived on the back of a fire truck.

Festival of Lights Opening Ceremony, November 30, 2018

Once Santa arrived the tree was lit up. Here is what it looked like with its lights on.

Festival of Lights Opening Ceremony, November 30, 2018

Here’s a short video I shot of the opening ceremony.

After the opening ceremony I walked over to the nearby Greenbelt Museum, which opened its door to the public for free as part of the opening ceremony festivities.

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

I shot photos of that same museum during Labor Day weekend so I decided to focus on its special exhibit on how people celebrated Christmas and Hanukkah during the Great Depression. It included vintage decorations of the period. I found it very interesting.

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

Festival of Lights Opening Night, November 30, 2018

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Santa Claus

On Christmas Day I drove to Lanham to see if a certain house was still continuing its overdecorated tradition despite the fact that that the family member who was responsible for the lights had passed away. I found out that not only were the family not carrying on that tradition but the house has been put up for sale.

But there are a few houses who have willingly picked up the mantel of trying to be the most decorated Christmas house. The house in Glen Burnie that I wrote about for TopBuzz.com has pretty much surpassed what the house in Lanham did.

But there’s another house located on Lastner Lane in Greenbelt that has the potential to one day be as decorated as the house in Lanham was (although it still has a ways to go before it could even begin to match that house in Glen Burnie). Each year the owners seem to add more Christmas lights. You can compare the photos I took in 2012, 2014, and 2016 with these recent photos I took in December, 2017.

Santa Claus

My Unitarian Universalist congregation had its annual Kwanzaa service on New Year’s Eve this year (mainly because New Year’s Eve fell on a Sunday in 2017) where lunch was served following the end of the service. Here are my photos of the food and the decorations from that day.

Santa Claus

I wasn’t able to get to Behnke’s Nurseries before Christmas so I decided to spend the day after checking out the post-holiday sales. There were still plenty of Christmas and Hanukkah decorations that were available for sale at discounted prices.

I made only one purchase. It was a cute Ginger Cottage that I purchased for 25% off.

Here are a few reasons why I prefer Ginger Cottages over Department 56: 1) They are smaller, which means they take up less space in my modest house. 2) They are more affordable for my budget than Department 56. 3) They are actually made in the USA while Department 56 cottages are made overseas in countries like China.

Santa Claus

I wanted to enjoy myself this Christmas Eve. That morning I checked out the Christmas pageant at my church, which included a living nativity scene. After church I decided to go to downtown Washington, DC. I wanted to check out an exhibit at the Renwick Gallery that was on its final weeks.

It was a special exhibit called the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, which uses dollhouse-sized dolls and furniture to create dioramas of real-life crime scenes. I first heard about this when I attended the Utopia Film Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland in 2012. One of the films shown, Of Dolls & Murder, was narrated by film director John Waters about this very topic and I found that documentary to be totally fascinating. When I heard that the Renwick Gallery was having a rare public exhibition of these dioramas, I knew that I had to check them out. I ended up going on Christmas Eve when I found that this exhibition was going to close in January. A lot of other people had that same idea, as you can see in the next photograph.

These dioramas were done by Frances Glessner Lee. The attention to detail she provided in these dioramas were astounding to see in that documentary I saw a few years ago and they are even more astounding to see in person. I heard many people debate about who could’ve been responsible for many of the crimes depicted. As for me, I was just content to marvel at the realistic scenes.

The rest of the museum was far less crowded than the Nutshell exhibition. Next to the dollhouses was this exhibition by Rick Araluce, who’s an artist and scenic designer.

The next photo shows the back of the structure that makes up that exhibit.

The back of that structure also have a couple of peepholes where, if you look in them, you can see a miniature scene of a subway stop.

But when you walk around to the front of the exhibit, you’ll see a life-sized reproduction of a subway stop that looks incredibly realistic down to the train tracks.

Another high point of being in the Renwick Gallery was seeing a digitized 3D printed version of Hiram Powers’ sculpture The Greek Slave.

At first glance you would never realize that this is actually a replica that was done on a 3D printer.

If you look really close in the next photograph, you could see a few of the lines that are common in 3D printed items.

I hung around the Renwick Gallery checking out the other exhibits until it was close to closing time.

Once I walked outside I decided to walk along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

I was walking next to Lafayette Park when I was at the White House. There is an antiwar protest that has been ongoing since 1981 (when Ronald Reagan was in office). The last of the original founders of that protest, Concepcion Picciotto, passed away in 2016 and I was curious to see if that protest would still go on without any of the original founders still alive. I found that it’s still up as a presence against U.S. foreign military policy.

I didn’t stay too long in Lafayette Park because it was very cold that night. I walked along the area while taking a few pictures.

I eventually reached the historic Willard InterContinental Hotel, which was well-decorated for the holidays.

I needed to use the bathroom so I stepped inside. After I finished with the restroom I marveled at the lovely tasteful holiday decorations in the hotel lobby.

The coolest Christmas decoration was this gingerbread reproduction of Mount Vernon, which featured tiny figures of George and Martha Washington done in fondant. The details on this structure were amazing to see.

I was getting hungry (I hadn’t eaten dinner yet) so I decided to head for home. I took this photo of one of the doors to the Trump International Hotel when I was on my way to the Federal Triangle Metro station. I’ve only been inside of that hotel once and it was on the day before Donald Trump won the elections. I haven’t felt the desire to step inside of that hotel since.

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