Showing posts with label Green Living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Green Living. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

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Pool Parties at the White House

White House pool and cabana with solar panels on roof. Courtesy 20 Fun Facts about The White House)
Cherry Blossoms and their annual festival are over for 2009 in Washington DC. Memorial Day is over. At Sidwell Friends, the First daughters end of the school year trumpets summer vacation time. Picnics with the requisite amount of ants and tons of new and old friends to hang out with means making use of the water amenities at the White House. Pool perks extend to presidential vacation retreat at the very exclusive, yet relaxed and woodsy, Camp David as well. Because its outdoors and its been downright chilly and rainy during parts of the Spring in DC, one scene not captured on camera yet are the Obamas using the pool and cabana on the White House property.

Camp David pool outside Aspen Lodge - Main Lodge - during Nixon era - Photo courtesy White House
Not very far from the Oval Office on the West side of the property is the outdoor pool Gerald Ford put in after Richard Nixon paved over the indoor one FDR had installed and promptly splashed the national press corp into that space. Another daily swimmer, Barbara Bush, upgraded the poolhouse to a full cabana. Millie's son, the Bush's dog named Spot, was fond of chasing the tennis balls but was not a big splasher. Barbara Bush recounts seeing a rat up close and personal paddling by her face in the pool as she swam her morning laps. Let us just say Gary Walters, White House Chief Usher at the time, definitely got an earful on that incident. (Spot contemplating is the tennis ball worth it. Courtesy GHW Bush Library)

Pool parties are summer staples. A swim is very convenient after a tough set as its close to the tennis court as well. Like the famed and coveted sleepovers, it will be a big deal for the Obama girls to invite their friends over for a summer dip. From no pool, except the neighborhood one or at their school in Chicago, to having a pool at each presidential property is a kid's dream when its hot and humid. Add in the best ice cream sundae makers, an unlimited supply of root beer floats with a puppy learning to swim and the pool will be a scene of frivolity this summer.

Gerald Ford alongside his two golden Labradors bravely introduced his new outdoor pool to the press bare chested and in his bathing trunks. As president elect Barack Obama had that mouthwatering picture of him in Hawaii. President Nixon took Air Force One all the way back to San Clemente California to walk along the beach in his dressy wingtips. There was the picture of Hillary Clinton she despises of herself in a blue floral one piece bathing suit. Michelle Obama spent time in her one piece black maillot in Hawaii. Pool rules will need establishing as its been years since wee little ones lived full-time at 1600. There also seems to be a recurring theme with presidential dogs and pools. (President Ford swims laps in new outdoor pool for press. Courtesy Ford Library)

Solar power heats the pool with the latest installation during the Bush 43 presidency. Pool parties were a function of the buttoned up Bush era. With the pool being heated, Barbara Bush used the pool even when her hair froze with icicle drips. Bill Clinton gets the thanks for the whirlpool spa. Meanwhile the Obamas will have to decide how the supervision works at the pool and who will be lifeguard during the upcoming dog days of summer with two active girls who will willingly throw pool parties. Last one in is a ...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

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White House Quacks, Barks & Stings

WH View from Putting Green on South Lawn near Oval Office (Photo Courtesy Architectural Digest)
New First Families are the regular order of the day when presidents switch in and out. The multi-faceted talented White House staff takes that in stride. It is the more unusual outdoorsy happenings from the pets and critters, great and small, that give the Executive Mansion a bit of swerve and verve. During the chills of winter, the first lady signed off on a first-ever bee hive for making White House Honey. A horticulture plan must be in place for the right types of flowers to groom next to the hive. Bees are pretty active in the spring and summer collecting pollen from all the flowering plants. It just so happens a White House carpenter extraordinaire and bee master reside in the body of Charley Brandts who takes great pictures of the hive on the WH grounds when not wearing his superhero bee keeping cape.

Michelle Obama said some eyebrows definitely raised when presenting the garden design (chefs, bee keepers, head horticulturist, Chief Usher, National Park Service) plans to a skeptical Malia & Sasha who have a vested interest in their new backyard. The grounds team appropriated prime space for their swing set. Deep in the southern 9 acres is Momma Obama's garden, with the hive closer to the tennis court and the children's garden and that big grand fountain surrounded by blooms. Prior summer flowers for the fountain included geraniums, marigold lilies (lots of marigolds in the Obama Victory Garden) and petunias. Add the inquisitive nature of Sherlock Holmes to one rambunctious puppy and things can get a bit tense. Bo's walks are matters of national security. Seriously. When in DC, the president walks Bo. Not sure what Secret Service protocol is for a bee protest.

Bo passes the West Wing on a walk with White House Horticulturist Dale Haney. He has a great deal of experience with First Family pets too.)
Bo is closer than most Americans will ever be to the "football" - the codes for the nuclear weapons. The White House doctor will make sure no allergy sufferers are without the appropriate antidotes. Interesting, because in about 6 weeks, the Obamas will host a major annual gathering of congressional spouses, children and friends on the South Lawn, close to the Fourth of July, before he and Michelle make another international tour, including Ghana. At this time, it is not clear whether either or both of the First Daughters will accompany their parents on such a major trip. The East Wing is already gearing up for the inevitable press crush probably making the First Family appreciate the secret life of bees more.

(Charlie Brandts removing North swarm of bees after installing the domesticated bees on South Lawn)
A few suicidal bees roaming on pollen patrol could send things out of hand, if not paying attention during the season. That already happened in the near the West Gate, with the same beekeeper going out in full regalia to collect the Queen Bee and the swarms and rescue the media from enduring bee stings while doing their live shots on the North side of the White House. The "Renegade" bees (ha ha code name puns) moved in without an election to enjoy an annual springy "Renaissance" garden as the shy "Radiance" of the brilliant sunshine pours on the youngest "Rosebud" determined to use the outdoor pool to teach her new Portuguese Water Dog how to swim.(Photo with hive to the left Courtesy of City Bees, a blog with several posts detailing the insider story of the Obama's sanctioned bees.)

It is known that squirrels frequent the South Lawn. In the middle of this natural park, a Ducky Mom created her own tour of the West Wing shepherding her ducklings past an assistant press secretary's window inspecting the White House grounds. Michele Obama did not arrange for ducks a la orange in the ramped up local food initiative. (Outside West Wing of the White House Photo courtesy New York Daily News)

Sorry for the longer than planned posting absence, but an emergency illness arose stinging me in more ways than one.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

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Swings, Bees & Vegetables

The Office of the First Lady is busy as a bee. The real ones. A colony of bees received a personal invitation to pollinate, populate and proliferate with Honey for the White House right on the grounds. A gardner is a beekeeper and will do the honeycomb honors. Right outside the Oval Office is the new cedar and redwood castle and swing set for Malia & Sasha and any other kid allowed in the park setting. The $3500 set, including presidentially inscribed picnic table was personally vetted at the manufacturer's; Rainbow, by Admiral Rochon, the White House's Chief Usher. The new addition to the swing set was made a week ago, adding a safety mat to the play area made of recycled rubber tires to cushion future falls. We have bumblebees and kids and to go for the trifecta, veggies of all kinds and colors will grow near the fence facing E Street on the furthest reaches of the South Lawn. It will go near the "backyard" fountain FLOTUS (First Lady of the US) turned Celtic green on St. Patrick's Day as a salute and taste of hometown Chicago.

Michelle Obama then grabbed a shovel, a rake and finally a cookie as she led her elementary school helpers of the day in a grand ode to broccoli, arugula, spinach, peas, mints, onions and berries. All grown organically with homemade compost. Mrs. Obama has only exempted her Mom from garden duty. Even President Obama will have garden duties along side his daughters as Mama Obama has declared a war on weeds. White House chefs were present and accounted for as the latest garden was born. It is in their interest as many items were on their personal wish list and will end up in the scrumptious fare at White house events. Sam Kass pictured below is a big lovacore - fan of local food - and did many a personal meal for the Obamas in Chicago. The garden will also provide year round and the extras will go Michelle Obama mentioned she got the nutrition talk from her pediatrician to get the girls real food as they were plumping up on diets of takeout. Michelle admits to Sasha & Malia enjoy vegetables that taste good and homegrown is a great way to do that.
It will be great to have some wonderful fresh greens after working hard playing on a swing set or the East Wing while avoiding any stray bees that are taking a 15 minute break from honey production. Bees, Kids & Vegetables - the combination sounds very American.

The L-Shaped garden layout released by the White House.