It was a balmy April evening, my three-month visit to Washington DC about to end, when I went to the Kennedy Center. Although I’d taken an extensive Center tour in March, this was a live, evening performance with the National Symphony Orchestra performing Fauré’s Requiem & Mozart’s “Paris Symphony.”

At intermission I stood by the aisle and watched people roam, mix and chat. As the crowd dispersed, walking back down the aisle looking for their seats, I spotted Bob Woodward. You know, that Bob Woodward. Journalist. Watergate. PulitzerPrizes(2). No, dear Readers, I didn’t embarrass myself. I just savored the moment.

The National Symphony performing at the Kennedy Center.

So when you ask what is one of the best things I saw and experienced during my three months in DC, that would be my answer…..Bob Woodward.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

As I mentioned in my last blog post (March 6th), during my time in DC I lived in nearby Bethesda. On most mornings I walked the three blocks from my condo to catch the Metro. Thirty minutes later I stepped off the Metro, climbed 3 sets of stairs and was at the National Mall, a two-mile stretch of green space spreading from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial. It is home to and nearby some of the city’s most famous monuments, memorials and museums. I visited most of them.

On April 8, 2024, the National Air and Space Museum and other Smithsonian museums hosted a solar eclipse festival on the National Mall. The eclipse was visible from 2:04–4:32 PM, with maximum eclipse at 3:20 PM. In DC, the moon covered 87% of the sun during the maximum eclipse,

What would become one of my favorite visits was to the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, two buildings but one museum and now officially named the National Museum of Asian Art. Whether you’re interested in Asian art or not, the Freer Gallery is worth visiting if only to see “Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room” a spectacular work of interior decorative art. Created by James McNeill Whistler between 1876-1877, he painted the paneled room in a unified palette of blue-greens with over-glazing and metallic gold leaf. When visiting, quietly sit in the bedazzling room and be mesmerized by its beauty.

The Peacock Room, National Museum of Asian Art

Karaoke, never done it. But given the opportunity as happened at Planet Word, the world’s first interactive, voice-activated museum of words and language, I stepped up to have my moment with Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” My time at the mike was short. When you have three sets of teenagers waiting their turn and you’re the adult in the room, it’s time to move on. (See photo below.) Planet Word, imagined, created and partially-funded by CEO Ann Bucksbaum Friedman, is a private, non-government museum that opened its doors in 2020. When Lisa Wilkinson, an Aspen friend, mentioned she’d be in DC and wanted to visit ‘that new museum about words,’ we made a date.

‘The Planet Word Chandelier is a 12 foot diameter sphere covered in 4,860 individually controlled light elements. These distributed lights create a spherical screen, displaying interactive content about the world’s languages. At night, to make room for events, it automatically rises to the ceiling, transforming into a unique and massive chandelier.’ (Created by Hypersonics)

Planet Word is located in the historic, newly renovated Franklin School, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark. While its mission is to stay “focused on sharing the power, fun, and beauty of language with the world,” it’s a heck of a lift to equate grammar, syntax, and semantics with merrymaking. But Planet Word is ‘an imaginative magnet, attracting all of us, regardless of age, to its linguistic wonderland.’ Truth.

‘The 22-foot-tall talking wall of words shares the story of the English language, exploring the many forces that shaped the words we use today.’
If it weren’t for these five young men, I might still be at Planet Word singing “Sweet Caroline.” It was clear, however, they wanted a go at Karaoke. But in deference to me, they stayed with “Caroline” until the song’s end!

Throughout the summer, if you indulge me, I plan to share some of my most memorable times during my DC winter. I always realized spending 3 months in our nation’s capital city would be a gift. After being home, having time for deep breaths and reflections, I’m understanding at this point in my life it’s become more an opportunity.

moon rock collected by Apollo astronauts during the first moon landing is enshrined in a stainedglass window – known as the Space Window – at the Washington National Cathedral.

My most enlightening experience was at a week-long program entitled “Inside American Diplomacy with the Foreign Service.” The FS, its 16,000 highly educated professionals scattered to more than 200 worldwide locations, serves as our eyes and ears on the ground. Established in May 24,1924 by Congress and a part of the State Department, they are celebrating their 100th-year Anniversary.

One of our field trips was to Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. Directed by former Yemen Ambassador Barbara Bodine, one of its missions is to train future Foreign Service candidates to go out into the world and, well, “diplomat.” It’s called diplomatic statecraft.

Ambassador Barbara Bodine was among the first female ambassadors to Middle Eastern countries. Called a battle-worn general as well as a career diplomat, she knew firsthand the wrath of Saddam Hussein and is still standing. I’m glad she was on our side.

Ambassador Bodine, whose career was spent primarily in Southwest Asia and the Arabian Peninsula, was Ambassador to Kuwait for 137 days during the Gulf War. One of the first female ambassadors to Middle Eastern countries, she was then appointed to Yemen. Her career was not without controversy (the USS Cole bombing aftermath) nor without peril (her plane was once hijacked, by an Iraqi Hussein supporter, mid-flight and diverted to the Djibouti before being released.)

My favorite speaker from my winter in DC, she spoke of her life, her career and the various jobs, responsibilities and opportunities she’s been given. Quite impressive.

Thomas Jefferson, America’s founding father and primary author of the Declaration of Independence

JOY the BAKER’S STRAWBERRY OAT CRUMBLE PIE Adapted from: Joy the Baker

Made with fresh strawberries and a buttery oat crumble topping!

1   9-inch pie



Make your favorite homemade pie crust or pick up a store-bought pie crust from your favorite grocery. Roll your pastry dough into a 13-inch round. Lift the 13-inch round from the floured surface and center in a deep 9-inch round pie dish. Place in the fridge.


6 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half (if the strawberries are large, cut them in thirds or fourths)
1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup instant tapioca
large pinch of salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
large pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks


  1. To make the strawberry pie filling toss together strawberries, sugars, tapioca, salt, lemon juice, ground ginger and nutmeg. Toss until all of the tapioca is dispersed throughout the strawberries and let rest for at least 10 minutes. The strawberries will begin to produce juice and the tapioca will begin to soften slightly.
  2. To make the oat crumble, whisk together flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Add the cold butter chunks and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the mixture until well incorporated. Some butter bits will be the size of peas and smaller.
  3. Toss 1/4 cup of oat filling into the strawberry filling and stir to combine. Spoon strawberry filling and its juice into the pie dish. 
  4. Spread crumble topping over the strawberry filling in an even layer. Trim the pie crust to about 1-inch larger than the pie dish, fold the crust under (tucking it inside the pie dish a bit) and crimp with your fingers.
  5. To finish, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Allow the pie to rest in the refrigerator while the oven preheats.
  6. Place pie on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake the pie for 30-35 minutes more, or until the crust is golden and the strawberry filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving – 4 hours or so will help the pie cool and set.
  7. NOTE: I used 1/4 cup LESS of granulated sugar for the filling. I baked my pie 10 minutes longer. So begin checking your pie after 30-35 minutes. It may not be done.

Served best with whipped cream but vanilla ice cream comes in a close second. Wrap tightly and store leftovers, if there are any, in the fridge.