This was our fourth Sunday in a row to enjoy the flowers at the Stadtman Preserve. Don’t be too surprised if we’re there again next week. Since daffodils only last so long, I’m going to continue to post pictures while the do. In addition to hundreds of daffodils of many sorts and shades of yellow and orange, the P.J.M. Rhododendrons are really starting to bloom. We also found one bloodroot plant (Sanguinaria canadensis) with a few blossoms. There were spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) and cut-leaved toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) and a few mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum).
We had a family dinner this evening at Tsai-Hong’s house. We know it was two months late but Tsai-Hong had the flu on the proper Chinese new year so we celebrated in April. She got a flu shot but got the flu anyway. We had a terrific meal and, need I say it, the kids were the star attraction. I took quite a few pictures (even for me) and I am quite pleased with this one of Iris and ten month old Silas. He and Kai almost played together and were both very cute.
After church this week, for the third week in a row, we walked over to the Stadtman Preserve to see the bulbs. The daffodils are pretty spectacular and entire sections of hillside are yellow with them. The Chionodoxa is still in bloom and there are areas completely dotted with their pretty, blue flowers. I took pictures of Cathy in a few different spots but I had only brought one lens, the 100mm, which wasn’t really idea for that sort of portraiture. This one turned out pretty well, though. Spring it definitely here and we’re loving it.
Cathy and I helped Seth and Iris move this morning. Their new apartment is very nice and their shorter commute will be a real blessing for them, I suspect. I’ve said at times that I’m getting too old to help people move but this is family and anyway, they don’t have a huge amount of stuff. One small truck load of furniture and two van loads of other stuff and we were done. The carpeting on the floor will be nice for Silas as he continues learning to crawl and the apartment will be easier to baby-proof than where they were. Silas was really good throughout the whole process although I wonder if he understands enough to wonder what was going on. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that I took quite a few pictures of him. I’m really pleased with a few of them, including this one. What a cute kid.
As I mentioned on the picture of Dorothy lounging in the snow the other day (see Saturday, March 09, 2019), Dorothy is here with some friends. These are two of them and they are engaged (to each other). Andrew and Dorothy enjoy playing music together as the group Kinsman. Rachel is a fellow art student with Dorothy. We have met them both a time or two but didn’t really get to know them at all until this week. I see why Dorothy likes them both, individually and as a couple. Getting a good picture of them has been a challenge, in part because they aren’t crazy about having their picture taken.
Margaret, Cathy, and I were invited to dinner this evening by Karen and Tim, who are visiting from Michigan. They are staying at the home of some other friends who graciously hosted us, along with a few others. We had a nice time talking about their work with an eye hospital in Afghanistan as well as various other travels. It was a pleasant evening with good food and enjoyable people. I only took a few photos but this one of Tim and Karen with Margaret turned out pretty well.
With closing on her mom’s house earlier today, I had planned on a celebratory dinner. Margaret already had plans to attend the Missions Banquet at church today, so we’ll have the real celebration next week. Cathy and I decided to go out, anyway, although we didn’t eat anywhere fancy. We went to BGR The Burger Joint, which was fine. The concept of a “gourmet burger” is something of an oxymoron, but it was a good burger, anyway. It was raining pretty hard but we decided to walk from BGR to the Barnes and Noble at the other end of the outdoor mall. We stopped along the way under cover at Copper Canyon Grill and I took a few pictures of Cathy by their fire. It’s a shame that they have to put up a heavy, metal fence to keep people from burning themselves, but I suspect either their insurance company or the local government insisted.
We had a family dinner this evening with most of the locals there. As is my custom, I took a few pictures. Actually, I took quite a few more than I have most recent gatherings. I’m happy to say that I got a good number of decent photos of the boys. Silas is really starting to show his own personality and is much more aware of what’s going on around him. While he’s not quite crawling, it won’t be long. I got a good picture of him laughing but I’ve decided to post this photo of him with his grandma, Tsai-Hong, instead. I posted a photo of her with Kaien on Friday, March 31, 2017 and it’s only fair that I post one of her with her second grandson.
I learned this evening that Seth and Iris (and Silas) are moving in a few weeks. Fortunately this is a local move so that they can be closer to work. We still don’t know what their long-term job situations will be and we all hope they’ll be able to stay in this area. But, you have to go where the jobs are.
Most people have relatives of one sort or another. We have quite a few but we know a lot more of them on my side than on Cathy’s. She’s been doing a fair amount of digging into her ancestors on both her mom and her dad’s sides and has learned quite a bit. Of course, she has living relatives, and we know some names but haven’t been in touch with many of them for quite a while. Margaret’s sister was older than her by nearly 19 years. In consequence, Margaret’s has nieces and nephews who were only a few years younger than her. Benje is only a few years younger than Cathy and me but he’s Dorothy’s generation. He came to visit Cathy’s family once and Cathy and I met him when we lived in Alaska, but it’s been more than 30 years. We were very happy to have him and his wife visit us for a few days this week. We had a really good time talking about the family, looking at old pictures, and basically getting to know each other.
As you know, if you’ve been following me for a while, my mom moved from the house she lived in for 59 years into a retirement community nearby. As they do with most new residents they published a short bio of her for the community paper. In that she talked about some of the art she has created over the years and she was asked if they might display a sample in their small gallery. They have a dozen or so display cases like the one shown here and she gave them some painted china and some small quilt work that she has done, to be displayed for six months.
I saw the display a month or so ago but Cathy wasn’t with us that day so after brunch with mom today we went to see it. The plates she painted include a nuthatch in the upper left, which is actually displayed incorrectly with the bird appearing to be on the ground instead of creeping down the trunk of a tree, as they do. At the upper right is a white-throated sparrow and the two birds on the lower plates are a black-capped chickadee on a wild rose (left) and a Carolina wren. The small quilt at the back of the bottom of the display was inspired by a Pablo Picasso painting of fish on a plate.
She has much more, of course, and has made quite a few much larger quilts but they would not fit into the display case. Also, most of the quilts have been distributed to her children and grandchildren. She showed us one she is working on now and I took a picture of her with that but decided to keep it secret until it is finished and given to its recipient.
We had a Family Dinner Night today and it was a very nice time. After dinner, as usual, we gathered in mom’s apartment to talk and watch the kids play. Kai, at two and a bit, is really starting to communicate verbally and is a very relaxed, easy going kid. He has an incredibly cute smile and a twinkle in his eyes that reminds me of his grandfather, although he’s certainly his own person. Silas, as 7+ months is not really a brilliant conversationalist yet, but that will come. He’s already starting to show a personality, as you’d expect, and it very cute, as I’m sure his parents will attest. This evening he and his dad were wearing matching t-shirts with Papa Bear and Baby Bear on them. Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, if you will. The ties were a later addition but were a nice touch.
We aren’t entirely sure how this robe made its way to Cathy’s family’s house. Possibly one of her brothers brought it back from a visit to Peru, where their grandmother lived for more than 20 years. Or perhaps she sent it as a gift to one of them or brought it back herself, when she returned to the USA. In any case, it’s from Peru, possibly from the Machiguenga or the Asháninka, and it is made of cotton. The holes for the arms are fairly small and I was barely able to get my forearms through them. Cathy, with her mild claustrophobia, was a little worried when putting it on that she’d get stuck and need to be rescued, but it didn’t actually come to that. It’s a little long on her, coming to the floor, and the length is just about right for me. It’s in remarkably good shape, especially considering that it’s been hanging in a closet for at least 20 years. I’m not sure what we’ll do with it, though. In general I’d say it isn’t the sort of thing we’re likely to wear around the house or even to go out. But it’s a nice thing.
Once again, we had our now traditional fondue party at Amy’s home. We had two pots for cooking meat and one with cheese and there were two wonderful salads. But of course, it’s not really about the food. It’s about being with people we enjoy. This was our fourteenth in sixteen years and Cathy’s mom was with us for the first time this year. Amy thought to extend her table so we were not quite as crowded while eating. We also stayed longer than we have in past years, getting home after 8:00 PM. It’s a really nice tradition and I was especially glad to have this visit with Rob and Susie, who we see for too infrequently.
As predicted yesterday (and since I wrote it after the fact, there wasn’t much chance of it being wrong), we celebrated Christmas at our house in the morning and then in the early afternoon went to mom’s apartment for our family gathering. For quite a few years, our tradition has been to go to Cathy’s parents’ house for breakfast and opening presents there. Because Margaret has moved here, we had the same breakfast but in our house. That consists of pancakes, poached eggs (steamed, actually), and bacon. There is butter, syrup, and jam to go on the pancakes. Many years it has included sausages but I didn’t have any this year. It’s a pretty satisfying breakfast.
At about 2:00 we went to my mom’s and gathered with the rest of the family. I got a few pictures of Tsai-Hong with her two grandchildren but decided that I’d post this one of Dot with her two great grandchildren (the same two kids, Silas and Kai, in both cases, obviously). Getting a good picture of both kids, with both of them looking at the camera is a crap shoot, and this isn’t perfect, but they’re cute enough to make up for it.
The final picture is after Steve and Kai blew out the candles on Kai’s birthday cake, to celebrate his recent birthday. It’s a pretty happy moment. Naturally, the candles came back on, because that’s a family tradition, as well.
The ensemble played at church this morning and we really enjoyed the music. A few instruments are nice but there’s nothing that really compares to the depth and richness of an orchestra. Of course this doesn’t qualify as an orchestra, but it’s as close as a church this size is likely to get. It’s worth it. In addition to the saxiphone, trumpets, flutes, oboe, baritone, euphonium, and viola seen here, there is a trombone on the far right and another sax, a few clarinets, and more flutes on the left. On stage is a piano and drums. All in all, a very nice sound.
We had our annual holiday party today. It was a bit different to recent years. When I worked for Mike and his group had diminished in size, we began going to the holiday party with the project group we worked with. That is a bit group and while I know a small fraction of the people in it, many of the people I know and work with here are in that group. I generally sat with the same people each year. This year, the various teams of technical workers who are under her in the corporate organizational structure were asked to come to a holiday party together, instead of either a smaller party of their own or the project area party. I know a reasonable number of folk in that larger group, but it was a change, none the less. Still, we had a good time, eating and bowling. This is Marsha (on the left) and her right hand, Ivonzetta. I can’t say I know either of them very well but Marsha sat at our table during the meal and I spoke with them both more today than I have in total up to this point.
Many of us are not fond of pictures of ourselves. I know that’s true for me and it’s a bit hypocritical of me to insist that others pose for pictures and allow me to post them while I’m not particularly comfortable posing for pictures myself. Nevertheless, I do it. We had a really nice and long overdue dinner with two friends this evening, Theresa (a.k.a. Reeree) and Susan (a.k.a. Susan). It was really goot to get a bit caught up with them, although it’s been so long and so much has been going on that we didn’t really get completely caught up. But it was a start. We also had a really good Thai meal, which was a bonus. Shortly after this photo was taken, I knocked over my water glass and it shattered. A nice way to end the evening.
We had a family dinner night and I took a bunch of pictures of Kai. In some of them he is being held by his great aunt Cathy and in others by his grandma, Tsai-Hong. Those are grandma’s hands in this picture. The wheel in front of Kai is actually spinning but to get that with some blur would have required a tripod and a little more planning, so just imagine it spinning and catching Kai’s attention. He’s a pretty easy going little boy, at least from what I’ve seen of him Maybe his parents would say otherwise, but he doesn’t really fuss much when we’re together or if he does, he’s easily satisfied.
I thought I’d post a second picture from our walk at Lake Needwood this afternoon. In the woods, behind the boat house, is this sculpture of a bear. It’s a cool, laid back sort of bear, wearing flip-flops and sun glasses. Cathy figured it was a good day to kick back and watch the world go by, so that’s what she did. There wasn’t a lot of world going by, as it happened. There were occasional walkers but not really enough to keep you interested for long. So, we continued our walk, crossing the dam and walking on a smaller trail around to the Gude Trail before returning to out car.
There was a lot of coming and going at our house today but I mostly stayed out of it. Kendra and Jacob came over, and I talked with them briefly. Justin and Judah also stopped in for a few minutes and I didn’t do much more than say hello. I spent much of the day either doing crossword puzzles or sorting books in my reading room. I did get out a little in the heavy rain, which turned out to be a bad idea. I went to mom’s because George had left his coat at our house yesterday and I wanted to return it. I also brought a few of mom’s dishes. On the way, however, I went through a reasonably deep puddle and the serpentine belt came off again in our old Grand Caravan. Apparently it’s a known problem, although the van’s mileage is over 267,000 and it’s only started happening recently. Cathy came and picked me up and I had the van towed to the garage again.
We celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday this year. That’s fairly common for us, as it makes life easier for all involved. It also allowed us to have that great trip to the art museums yesterday, when crowds were a little reduced. George and Carmela drove down and we all gathered at our house this year. With mom in an apartment and Cathy’s mom living here, the two family homes were not available to us. Getting fifteen people (all except Silas) around our dining room table was a little tight. Next year, he’ll be old enough to sit in a chair, so we’ll have to figure out something to get one more at the table. In the evening we took our standard family gathering photo.
Cathy, Dorothy, and Dorothy’s cousin, Abba, and I went to a few art galleries today. If you’re looking for something to do on Thanksgiving day, you could do a lot worse than visit the National Gallery of Art or any of the Smithsonian museums. The Smithsonian museums are open every day except Christmas and the National Gallery every day except Christmas and New Years Day. Parking is free and there are fewer people than most weekends (and the day after Thanksgiving is generally a lot worse). We started with the National Gallery, parking just over a block away and starting with some sculpture and some other things on the lower level. Then we went up and through the rotunda and to the impressionists. This picture of Abba shows her sketching a painting titled Interior, after Dinner by Claude Monet.
Dorothy had asked each of us to bring a sketch book and to sketch at least three things that caught our eye. Since both of the girls are artists, this came naturally to both of them. Cathy and I had to force ourselves a bit. I drew a sketch from a sculpture by Paul Manship, one of my favorite twentieth century sculptors. It isn’t very good, frankly, and not something I’d be proud to show to anyone.
Abba drew from this Monet and Dorothy from a painting next to it, Théodore Duret, by Edouard Vuillard. The girls have very different styles of drawing but are both pretty tallented. They are quite a lot alike in other ways, however. Beyond the similarity of their hair, they have almost identical taste in clothes, they like much of the same music, their senses of humor fit together quite well, and the basically just get along.
From the National Gallery’s main building, we went through the tunnel to the East Wing, where we saw their collection of more modern art, including Picasso, Calder, and others. On the roof terrace, Cathy was excited to find the large blue cock in the third picture, in front of which she was happy to pose. When the girls were sketching the impressionists show here, Cathy was admiring Child with Toys—Gabrielle and the Artist’s Son, Jean, by Auguste Renoir, in which Gabrielle is holding a toy chicken. So, I guess she just likes chickens. I don’t think she planned her outfit to match the chicken, but she couldn’t have done any better if she had tried. We saw this cock in London, in Trafalgar Square, in 2013, so to see it here was something
We went back to the tunnel between the wings of the National Gallery and had lunch (it’s outrageously expensive, but they know there aren’t any other alternatives anywhere nearby). Then we went to the Freer gallery to see the Peacock Room, by James Whistler, as well as other works in their collection. That room, in particular, is a favorite and Abba had never been there. We also went to the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum (which are in the same building). They have a smaller version of Paul Manship’s Dancer with Gazelles, that I drew from in the National Gallery. They also had an interesting exhibit of works by Kumi Yamashita with shadows being cast that formed faces or bodies but where the objects casting the shadows were basically random. Abba also found a painting by John Singer Sargent that was picked as a match for her by an app that find the classical painting that you most resemble. I have to say, the resemblance was there. In fact, it looks a lot like Laura, another of the cousins.
It’s that time of year again. “What time of year?”, you may ask. Operation Christmas Child time of year, that’s what. Cathy scaled back this year. Last year when I asked how many boxes she was going to make she said “six, maybe seven.” She ended up with twelve. That was a lot and there was a fair amount of stress involved. I suggested she only do six or seven this year and actually stick to that. She decided that was a good idea, so the fact that she “only” did eight is pretty good. She was also a little less worried about making them all the same this year, and she finished a week early. We turned them in this afternoon after church. In this picture she’s holding five of the eight.
Last year we got a photograph of children receiving boxes that happened to include some that Cathy had packed. You could see the picture of us that Cathy had included in the boxes. That was pretty neat. We’ve had letters from recipients before and that’s always fun, too.
Tsai-Hong and I went over to mom’s this evening and put up some art in her apartment. She’s been there a while but there were other priorities and she also wanted to take a bit of time to figure out what should go where. We haven’t finished and there is a sheving unit that needs to be hung on the wall, for which I needed a few pieces of hardware. But we were able to get Sir Roger up, as well as her quilt hanging rod, behind the sofa and shown holding up one of her recent quilts in this photo. We also had a nice dinner together. She has more art than she has wall space to display it on, but we’ll do our best to get a few more things up before Thanksgiving and then she can decide what to do with the things for which there isn’t room.
I asked Cathy if I could take her picture this evening. She agreed but then when we got around to actually taking them, she was in something of a silly mood. I know that’s surprising to anyone who knows her because silly isn’t really her. Well, it is, but then only sometimes. She posed in various ways in front of a blank wall, which is good for portraits but those aren’t as good as this one, I don’t think. She sat on the end of the sofa and took off her shoe. In stead of putting it down, she put it up to her ear and I took this picture. I can’t see that and not think of Maxwell Smart, of course, but as you can see, her shoe phone works differently to his, which had the phone part in the bottom of the shoe while hers works right side up. When I showed the picture to Cathy just now she said, I’m holding my shoe the wrong way ‘round, meaning the toe should be at her chin. So, I guess I don’t really know anything about how her phone works. I like the colors in this picture and think that’s a big part of what’s so nice about it. The color of the shoe and the curtains and all of it just works. Silly, of course, but as I said, that’s Cathy.
We had a family gathering this afternoon. Instead of getting together for dinner, though, we had brunch together, which was a nice change. Of course, the centers of attention at these gatherings are the two children, Kai and Silas. Silas slept a fair amount this visit, so I only got a few pictures and they are fine, but not as good as this smile from his older cousin Kai. The weather has finally turned cool and autumnal and we had talked about taking a walk but everyone felt like staying indoors this afternoon instead.
In the evening I did a really stupid thing. I took everything out of my pockets and carried a few things to the basement to do laundry. Because I knew I’d want my phone downstairs, I took it with me. Unfortunately, I left it in my trouser pocket when I put them into the wash. I know people have had success drying out phones that have been dunked but (and I’m writing this more than a week later) after pulling out the battery and drying it in silica gel for a couple days, it’s dead. Still, 4½ years isn’t bad for a cell phone (which is sad in itself).
For at least a couple years my friend David has wanted to roast a whole pig. Thus weekend he finally got his wish. The original date was to be Saturday but it rained until about 9:00 and kept him from getting the early start he needed. So, he moved it to Sunday. By 6:00AM he had the pig up on the spit and the fire going under it. This picture was taken about ten hours later, around 4:00 PM and, as you can see, the pig is getting there.
Because of the change of day, I wasn’t able to stay and help eat any, but I couldn’t let the occasion go by without coming to take a few photos. It turned out to be a lovely fall day, perfect for spending time outdoors around a fire. I also enjoyed visiting with David, Joel, Chris, Theresa, and Lee, however briefly. It certainly got me thinking about the possibility of a pig roast of my own. Or perhaps a sheep or a goat.
Cathy asked me to take a picture of her with two of her garden ornaments this evening. They both came from the patio at her mom’s house and so far they are on our driveway. Eventually they will go somewhere more appropriate. The taller on is a rabbit, obviously and the lower, which is also a small bird bath, is a cat. The rabbit is not as heavy as it looks, because it’s not actually stone, although it does a pretty good job of looking like it is. It’s also hollow, although it’s heavy enough that it won’t get blown over unless the wind really picks up. In the first few pictures, Cathy was posing as a rabbit, but I prefer this one, which is a more natural pose. The sections of log on the left are from the tree I cut down last Saturday.
It’s homecoming weekend at Gordon and although were weren’t attending a lot of the scheduled activities, this is one we couldn’t miss. Dorothy and two friends, John and Bobby, submitted a proposal for a chicken coop to be built and maintained behind the road halls and it was approved. The run and coop were built a couple weeks ago and the hens arrived last Sunday. Today was the official dedication of the Village Chicken Coop, also known as the R. Judson Carlbnerg Memorial Chicken Coop.
Admittedly it wasn’t the most attended event of the day but it was on the official schedule and those who came all seemed to have a good time. The chickens got a pumpkin, freshly chopped into pieces and there was cake and sparkling cider for the humans. It was also a beautiful day for it. Yesterday was rainy and chilly but today was pleasant and sunny. We couldn’t have asked for anything more. They are already producing eggs so the project is off to a good start.
Our first full day visiting Dorothy was a busy one. We had breakfast in Beverly at Cityside Diner, then back to the campus for a convocation in the chapel where Dorothy was one of the students being presented an award (and yet we still don’t know, specifically, what she did to earn it!), and then a walk in the rain while Dorothy was in class. We visited the chicken coop that Dorothy and two friends got approval to build behind the road halls. After that we walked to Gull Pond and back and the color of the light was very nice. As you can see in the reflections, the trees are just starting to turn colors. It was also quite a bit cooler than what we’ve been having at home, barely getting up into the low 60s.
It was raining quite hard when we left for church this morning. So hard, in fact, that we used umbrellas to get to the car. Generally we don’t bother for such a short walk but it was hard enough that we’d have been quite wet if we hadn’t used them. After church it was still raining but we decided we wanted to be outdoors. We parked across from Old Angler’s Inn and walked up the tow path to Widewater. It was raining lightly as we went and we stopped fairly often to look at wildflowers and other plants as well as rocks and the river. This was taken on a rock beside the path high above the Potomac River just a little way up the tow path from the Angler’s Footbridge.
I took a pair of photos like this and then switched to the wide angle lens. Those pictures show the river as well as lots of trees and rocks but aren’t as good of Cathy. I like this picture quite a bit better.
We had a family lunch instead of dinner this week and it was great to have Brady here for a visit. Steve was out of town but Maya brought Kai and Silas was here with Iris and Seth. Shortly before Cathy and I left, we put Silas and Kai on a chair together and took a few pictures. Silas isn’t really able to sit up by himself yet and he had a pacifier in his mouth for all but the last photo that I took. Still, it was pretty cute. Maya would tell Kai to kiss the baby and he’d lean over the kiss Silas on the forehead. Then he’d put his hands in front of his mouth and laugh. So sweet.
We had a family dinner night this evening, gathering at mom’s apartment and having Greek food from The Big Greek Cafe. Only one baby was there this time, with the other out of town, but Silas was generally in a good mood. He’s about 2.5 times his birth weight already and going strong. Still small, of course, but not nearly so little as when he was born. On the other hand, he’s developing much more in the way of facial expressions. He isn’t ticklish yet, but if he is startled, he certainly reacts. It was good to see everyone (or the everyone who was there).
We went to see our good friends Jean and Maria this evening and had a wonderful time. Maria is recovering from some fairly substantial surgery to her hip and seems to be doing really well. She’s getting around with a walker and should be back on her feet in plenty of time for her wedding next year. We’re really looking forward to that and talked quite a bit about their plans. I fixed panang curry with chicken for dinner and we also had peaches and whipped cream for dessert (it’s hard to go wrong with peaches and cream, unless the peaches aren’t ripe, of course). Mostly, though, we just visited and talked and got caught up on what’s going on in our various lives. We missed Lexi, of course, but we’ll do it again when she’s in town.
Cathy and Jean went to high school together and lost touch after college. They reconnected in the late 1990s and have been best friends again ever since. We visited them in 1999 when she and her family lived in southern Germany and the girls were not yet in grade school. I just went back and looked at those pictures and it brought back some pretty good memories.
On Easter Sunday I took a photo of this handsome couple and it was pretty well received by those who know them. I’ve known Michael for quite a while but that was the first time I met Tanya. Since then they have become husband and wife and it was good to see them today at their church picnic. I crashed the picnic (technically, I was there as a guest of Cathy’s mom) and enjoyed seeing lots of old friends and acquaintances, including Michael and Tanya. It was a hot day but it wasn’t raining, so that was something. We enjoyed burgers and (even more so) sausages made from Rocklands Farm meat. If you aren’t familiar with the farm, check them out and give them a visit (http://www.rocklandsfarmmd.com/). I often walk off and take pictures of animals and flowers when I’m there but wanted to stay out of the sun today so didn’t. I did get a picture of a Commelina communis flower (Asiatic dayflower), which is a pretty blue flower with only two petals. I also took a few nice pictures of some of my friends’ children, which is generally easier than photographing adults. Nevertheless, this photo of Michael and Tanya turned out pretty well, in spite of the bright background.
I’m old enough now that I allow myself to think about retirement. It’s still a long way off, I’m afraid, unless things change drastically, but not so far away as it used to be. Every year brings me that much closer (which I suppose is sort of the way time works). I went to lunch with some coworkers today to celebrate the retirement of one of our number. Jane (in the pink sweater) is fortunate to be able to retire at such a young age. One thing you might notice about this picture is that I’m in it. I did take this picture but I was also in one taken by someone else. I took myself from that one and added it here (but without feet, if you look carefully).
Our anniversary was last Saturday but Cathy’s mom was out of town then so she took us to dinner this evening to celebrate 34 years. We went to the Thai place on Rockville Town Square and the place was hopping (the square, more than the restaurant). There was a concert going on and the place was fairly crowded. We had a nice meal but decided to eat indoors so we could hear each other talk. Cathy broke from tradition by getting panang curry, which is what I generally get, except she got chicken while I usually get beef. Then I broke with tradition, as well, and got pad thai, which Cathy usually gets, except I got beef while she usually gets chicken. After dinner we walked around the square once and I took a few pictures, including this one (obviously) from the east end of the square, looking towards the stage.
I went with our good friend Mike to music practice at church today. They don’t have their ensemble play often but when they do, he likes to participate, playing the baritone horn. He played trumpet in high school and college but he’s moved down the scale to the baritone. I don’t really know a lot about the various horns but I’m a big fan of them in terms of music. I’m also a fan of the lower registers, so the tenor, baritone, and tuba are favorites, just as the cello and double bass are in the string sections and the bassoon in the woodwinds. The ensemble playing this Sunday includes, in addition to Mike’s baritone, a tuba, trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, two flutes, two violins, and a piano. Those instruments were not picked in any scientific manner but are basically what people willing to play have to play. They sounded pretty good, though.
We had a family dinner night this evening at mom’s new apartment and dining hall. I don’t want to give the impression that I only enjoy these get togethers because of the two grand nephews (and it isn’t strictly speaking even true). Nevertheless, I do enjoy seeing them. Kai is such a cute little boy. He wouldn’t smile for me until his mom said, “Kai, can you cry for Uncle Henry?” This is the grin we got from that request. It’s when he smile that he reminds me most of Ralph, which is good, but also hard. I love this little guy. He’s his own person, obviously, and he has a lot of his mom in his looks, but there are moments when he looks just like his grandpa at that age. Not that I remember his grandpa at that age. When Ralph was Kai’s age I wasn’t quite two months old. But there are pictures.
It was great catching up with our dear friend Karlee this evening. It was also nice meeting her boyfriend, Patrick. Whether he’s good enough for Karlee remains to be seen, although he seems nice enough. It’s always hard when someone you know well and care about meets someone and you don’t know them. It’s probably natural to be suspicious or doubt that they are good enough. We really enjoyed dinner and being with them. It’s too bad we have to brave the Beltway and the American Legion Bridge during an evening rush hour to see Karlee, but it’s worth it.
Our week at the beach has come to an end and we leave tomorrow morning. The southern North Carolina beaches are great and I like Ocean Isle in particular. Partly that’s just a matter of familiarity, of course, and people who go to other beaches year after year almost certainly feel the same way. But one thing I don’t particularly care for is the drive home. It’s about 425 miles and the traffic between Richmond and DC is never good, especially on a summer weekend. But, drive it we must. First, however, we took time for a family photo out on the deck. As you can see, we’re sort of looking into the setting sun, so there’s a bit of squinting going on. From left to right: Henry, Dot, Danna, Kai, Maya, Steve, George, Carmela, Cathy, Dorothy, Jacob, and Kendra.
On the way to the beach in southern North Carolina we stopped in northern North Carolina for our annual family reunion. As usual there was good food and great fellowship. We also took our annual photos. Some years we do generational photos. This year we did families, based on “The Siblings”, none of whom are with us any longer. Except we always take a picture of “The Cousins”. Of the eleven first cousins, five are still with us and are pictured here (along with Catherine, Clinton’s widow). We also took a picture with the other spouses but I like this picture and decided to go with it. We also took a large group picture of the 58 people who were still there at the time it was taken.
We had a family dinner night ahead of going to the beach. Since Iris, Seth, and Silas won’t be at the beach with us, it was good to get together with them. Silas is growing like a weed, as children do at this age. His cousin, Kaien, is also growing and I have aome pictures of him, as well. But as I post this, we’re back from the beach and I know that I took pictures of him at the beach.
It’s really nice having a baby and a toddler around at family gatherings. They are both wonderfully cute. Of course it’s a bitter sweet joy, as it really makes me miss my brother (and I don’t really need a lot of help on that front). Nevertheless, if I’m going to miss him (and I am) there might as well be two beautiful grandchildren to help offset it. And at least for now, they are in town and we get to see them somewhat regularly.
On November 23, 1886, Cathy’s great grandparents, Fred and Lucy, were married in Sullivan County, New York. This was during the industrial revolution and before the area because known as the Borscht Belt in the early twentieth century. Fred and Lucy moved west. Cathy’s grandfather, Albert, lived in a suburb of Chicago and became a wholesale butcher. Because of that, Cathy’s father, born shortly before the stock market crash of 1929 and Roosevelt’s great depression, grew up with meat on the table. Years ago Cathy and I visited Sullivan County and found what we believe was the family farm, although all that was left was a collapsed barn.
We drove up to Canterbury Shaker Village today to see Dorothy’s cousin Abba. She has been there all week in their first resident artists program. The program was a success and they plan to repeat it regularly. Abba was chosen as one of only five artists (and one of two painters). We enjoyed seeing her work as well as wandering around the historic, Shaker buildings. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, only occasionally disrupted by the sounds of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway just over a mile to the east (if you go on a non-race day, you won’t have that issue). We wandered around the gardens and down to the ponds on the eastern part of the property.
We went to a wedding reception today. Dorothy described it as a fake wedding for a real marriage. This is the bride, Dorothy’s best friend, Kendra. She got married (eloped, actually) last fall. Today, a friend of the family had a wedding reception for Kendra and Jacob. I have a few pictures of both of them but sadly, a few days before the party he broke his jaw in a rollerblading accident and had his jaw wired shut. That makes him look a little dour and I’m not going to post those pictures. With all the talk about straw bans in various places, I hope there will be an exception for people with their jaws wired shut.
Some of the family got together for dinner this evening at mom’s place. This was our first family gathering at her new apartment and we ate at the dining hall. The food got mixed reviews, with some things being better than others, but none of it was bad, anyway. Of course, one highlight is seeing young Silas, now a little over three weeks old but still not quite up to his original due date. Cathy was happy to get a long turn holding him, and I took a few pictures while she did.
Like most babies, he slept some, cried some, and ate some. Also like most parents, Seth and Iris are pretty tired. Unfortunately he’s got his day and his night mixed up and is sleeping for longer stretches during the day. But he’ll get through it and so will they. In the mean time, he’s absolutely adorable when he’s asleep, as shown here.
As we were leaving, I took a few pictures of the sunset, which was quite nice. Nevertheless, sunsets are a dime a dozen when compared to pictures of babies.
Tonight was the annual Erick’s Hope benefit dinner. Erick’s Hope (http://erickshope.org/) is a non-profit run by our friends, Richard and Donna, in honor and memory of their son, Erick, who died in 2008. Every year in the last week of June Richard and Donna have a fundraising event. For a few years it was held at The Golden Bull in Gaithersburg but more recently it has been at Montgomery Country Club in Laytonsville. We got to see friends that we don’t see as often as we’d like. Cathy bought two desserts at the dessert auction but we didn’t get anything else. It’s always nice to see Maureen, posing here with Cathy, and her husband, Bob. We see them more than most but still not enough.
On Tuesday I had a picture of Dot (otherwise known as mom) in her new digs. Well, today’s picture is back in the old place. It isn’t quite empty yet, but it’s getting there. As you can see, there are some books that are yet to be either claimed or given away. The lamp (an imitation Tiffany) and the wall hanging are tagged with their new destination. We also need to take down the hooks for her quilt-hanging rod and then put them up in the new place. The cabinets and shelves that dad built around the fireplace have held up pretty well. The original mantel was much more traditional. Dad had asked if he could replace it and when mom finally said yes, she came home to find the old one burning in the fireplace. He wasn’t going to take the chance that she’d change her mind.
Yesterday’s picture was Abba, one of Dorothy’s cousins on her mom’s side. Today we have Hannah, Abba’s little sister. We had her here for a few days to look through things at her grandma’s house. She was in on Abba and Dorothy’s surprise visit, although we were not and she didn’t give it away. Because we live so far apart, we don’t all get together nearly often enough so it was really nice to have so many here at once. On the other hand, it was a very busy week and by the time we got home and could visit, we were all pretty exhausted. Dorothy rightly suggested that we need to plan a get together with all the cousins in a place and at a time when we don’t have a lot of demands on our time, so we can all just enjoy being together.
Today, Cathy, Dorothy, Abba, Hannah, and Darius went to the zoo and then drove around downtown to see the sights. Naturally, David, Maggie, and I were busy moving things around and clearing out the house. No rest for the wicked.
We continued working on the house today. David, Maggie, and I worked mostly in the basement. Abba, Dorothy, and Hannah went through things, looking for things they would like to have from grandma and grandpa’s stuff. They each took a fairly wide assortment and those things went into the master bedroom to be moved later.
We started filling our second dumpster today and are making good progress. We also moved some metal shelves and 55 gallon drums out to the curb to be picked up tomorrow for metal recycling by the county. The shelves in particular were quite heavy. I moved three of them with the help of a young friend and then we moved two more with four of us carrying them. I’m glad those are done with.
In the evening we had tacos and visited back at our house. As usual, I took a few pictures, including this one of Dorothy’s cousin, Abba, which I think turned out well.
Mom moved to a condo today in a retirement community. We’ve been very busy with my mother-in-law’s move so were not able to do as much for her as perhaps we should have done, but between George coming down on Friday and staying through the move and the folks at Let’s Move, the move has happened. There is still plenty to do yet at the house but most of her things that she will have at the new location are in place and set up. As you can see, she seems pretty comfortably situated. There will be more adjustments, as well, of course, but the big moving day has come and gone without significant incident.
Oh, and Dorothy drove down from Massachusetts to surprise us. We were very surprised and naturally also very pleased. After a little while at Margaret’s house, we all went to see Dot in her new location.
With the birth of Silas last week, there’s a natural tendency to take pictures of him. That’s fine, but I need to remember the older cousin, and I do that today with this picture of Kai with his mom. Every time we get together, and it’s not all that uncommon, he starts the encounter being a little apprehensive, as though he has no idea who I am. I don’t know if that’s really what’s going on, but that’s what it seems like. He didn’t take long today (and he usually doesn’t) to warm up again and give me some smiles, particularly when he’s in the safety of his mother’s arms. Actually, we think he maybe doesn’t recognize me until I’m holding my camera. That’s entirely possible.
David and Darius arrived last night, along with Darius’s cousin, Maggie. They are here this week to help finish dealing with the things in the house. It’s a big task and it’s going to be a grueling week. Cathy and I are going to be off work but I wouldn’t call it a vacation. That’s not to say there won’t be joy and gladness mixed in with the heavy lifting, dust, and debris. Darius, in particular, brings substantial joy. The youngest of Margaret’s grandchildren, he’s a sweet kid (don’t get me wrong, he’s still a boy who can get up to mischief) and it’s great to have him here. Of course, when it comes to the heavy lifting, dust, and debris, he’s not quite as helpful, and I’m really glad to have David and Maggie here.
Last week I posted a picture of Iris with one-day-old Silas. Today, at age 8 days, this is Silas with Seth. It was really good to get together with the family this evening. It’s been a hard week for a number of different reasons including the one-year anniversary of Ralph’s passing and the impending move that mom is making from her house of so many years. Nevertheless, Silas reminds us that there is also new life and we take great joy in that. He’s a beautiful little boy and his parents are rightly proud and already deeply in love with the little fellow.
Today was a mixed bag. We had a tough morning, thinking about Ralph on his birthday and missing him, especially with the birth of his second grandson on Thursday. This afternoon, though, we had a much needed distraction, visiting our dear friend, Karlee. She was nice enough to give up the better part of her afternoon to have a late lunch with these two old fogies. We talked about life, the universe, and everything and it was really good to get caught up. As we waited for our lunches, I took a very few photos of Karlee and Cathy.
While we were in the ER on Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, Iris and Seth also were sent to the hospital (but not the same hospital). After midnight, so early Thursday morning, Silas was born. Cathy and I went over at lunch time today and both of us got to hold him. I have to confess that I really love newborn babies. When I was young, they freaked me out a little, mostly because they are so small and fragile. After having one of our own, I think Cathy and I like them a lot more. Silas is an adorable little thing and we were happy to hold him. I realized after a while that my arms weren’t tired in the least. It won’t be long before holding him for any length of time is a chore but for now, at just over five pounds, it’s pure joy. I took a bunch of pictures, including some with Seth as well as some with grandma holding Silas. I got some of Cathy and she took some of me, also. But I really like this one of Iris. There’s every chance that there will be more photos of this little tyke in the weeks, months, and years to come.
I got to hold this sweet little girl, Kaia Michelle, this morning, while Kyle was preaching on James 3 and Ariana was sitting just outside the meeting room so the occasional crying wouldn’t be a distraction (the baby’s crying, that is, dad’s sermon was fine). She’s two and a half weeks old and her parents are understandably proud. She’s a beautiful little thing. After church we went outside and I took a few pictures. Getting good pictures of babies less than a month old is somewhat hit or miss. They don’t respond so you can’t really make them look at you. And when they get hungry, you might as well just stop (which is when we stopped). But I think I got a few that are pretty nice, including this one.
We had a wonderful time visiting Rosanne and Nick in their open garden today. I was looking through old photographs from previous visits. I lot has changed since our first visit in 2002, but a lot has remained the same, as well. With the somewhat odd spring we had this year, with cool weather late into April, which was fairly dry, followed by a lot of rain in mid-May, the early bloomers were still showing off. We usually don’t get to see some of them bloom and that was a treat. Of course, that means the later bloomers were still just in bud. But that’s the change you take. Either way, the garden was lovely. And Rosanne and Nick were their usual, charming, friendly selves.
As usual, I took lots of pictures of individual roses as well as some showing the garden more generally. It’s hard to pick one rose bloom that represents the garden, but if you are interested in rose ‘portraits’ I have a few.
Cathy and I were fortunate enough to be allowed to attend a very small but also very lovely wedding today. There were probably fewer than 60 people there on this potentially rainy afternoon (it was an outdoor wedding). As it turned out, although it rained a little while we were setting up, by the time most of the guests arrived it had stopped and held off the rest of the day. As you can see, the bride and groom (a.k.a. the Fairy Princess and the DM) were decked out in their finery.
In addition to enjoying the wedding itself and sharing the joy of the bride, the groom, and their families, I had a significant “it’s a small world” experience. I was chatting with Josh’s grandmother. I knew she was from England and that she had lived in or near Cambridge in the past. Well, it turns out she lived on the same street that my family and I lived on. She was married and moved out two years before we were there but her parents were still there. She would have visited them and we were almost certainly on the street at the same time, nearly fifty years ago.
Today was about 90°F but we had a bunch to do in the yard and we gave it a shot. I started by pulling Canadian thistle (Cirsium arvense), a really pesky weed. That requires gloves and it took me a while to find a pair, with all the disruption that’s happened to our garage. After clearing most of the thistle from the lily of the valley, I moved on to the fence along the south end of the back yard. That fence, a post and rail, is starting to reach end of life. Two posts are leaning badly and a few rails have broken. I pulled up three posts and took out the 12 rails associated with them. I cut them up (chainsaw) and loaded them into the van to get rid of.
This photo of Cathy was taken in the evening, as she was walking across the back yard towards me. She made faces for most of the pictures but then let me take a ‘normal’ shot, with built-in flash to help light up her face in the darkening day (taken around 7:50 PM).
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we went up to Pennsylvania this weekend with the rest of my family. George and Carmela came down from New Jersey and Brady from Virginia. The rest of us live relatively close but it was especially good to all be together (missing Dorothy, but college years are like that). Carmela wanted a picture with Kai and this is, I think, the best of those I took. Kai doesn’t have a great smile but I think it’s a good picture. After the near ninety degree heat we had on Thursday and Friday, it was a very welcome relief to have cool weather this weekend. And though we had a little rain, it didn’t really dampen our spirits.
The family traveled to Pennsylvania today. It’s always good to get everyone together but today was a mixture of joy and sadness. Joy because we were with family, outdoors on a cool day in May. Sad because we came to bury Albert’s ashes. We decided that it would be appropriate to bury them under this large tree, a North American white oak (Quercus alba, not to be confused with the English white or common oak, Q. robur). Based on its circumference, estimates of its age range from about 250 to over 300 years, although we’ve never had it actually dated with a core sample. We’ll just continue to assert it predates the American Revolution.
We used to have a tire swing on this tree and in the 1960s we camped near by in the field that later came to be called the Christmas Tree Field. It’s now difficult to see where the woods ended and the field began, as it’s all pretty much grown up with trees, although there is still a wood duck house on a tree that’s near what was the edge of the field. After we started camping in what is now the yard, we didn’t get over to the tree quite as often.
As for the name of the tree, that was given by some neighbors shortly after the death in 1981 of General Omar Bradley. There is, in some circles, a tradition of naming large oaks after generals and when one of the neighbors mentioned the name to dad, he liked it and it’s pretty much stuck. It’s all very unofficial, of course and this tree is just in the woods on our property, not in a park or other public place. Omar Bradley was the last of nine five-star officers in the US military, having been promoted to General of the Army in September, 1950. Only George Washington and John Pershing, Generals of the Armies (plural) have ranked higher than the nine five-star officers.
We continued working on Cathy’s mom’s house today, again with Maggie and Laura in town. We started by moving some things that were brought home yesterday into the garage. That’s where this picture of Laura was taken. It’s not the best picture but, as it turns out, it’s the only picture I took all day. So, that’s what you get.
In addition to some work at the house, Laura and I went to a self-storage location and rented a 10×10 foot storage unit. It may not be big enough but it’s a good start and we can always move up if necessary. Cathy and I will be out of town tomorrow and most of Sunday, when the girls leave, so they plan to begin the process of moving things to that. Not everything will go into storage, of course, and we’d like to limit it as much as possible. But there are things we know will take significant time to deal with and we don’t want that to hold up progress on the rest of the house emptying. Photographs, for instance, need to be gone through and that’s going to be a slow process, particularly the slides and even more particularly the overseas travel slides. So, get them out of the way and deal with them this fall.
We’ve been working on emptying out Cathy’s mom’s house and it’s a reasonably big job. They bought the house fifty years ago, so there are naturally a few things scattered about. The four ground floor bedrooms are mostly done (it’s a rambler but with a large basement). A few weeks ago we moved on to working on things in the basement. Between Cathy, our friend Julia, and me, we’ve made some good progress. Last night, two of Cathy’s nieces came and today they helped us make even more. Maggie and Laura are fun, of course, but this was no pleasure cruise. There were boxes to carry and papers to go through. And go through them we did. It was quite warm today, reaching nearly 90°F. Fortunately we were working mostly in the carport and there was a little breeze, so we weren’t too uncomfortable.
Cathy decided that her old doll house had served its purpose and it was time that it be recycled. It’s made entirely of cardboard, so that works out well. She wanted one last picture of it before it went into the van, though.
It’s always nice to have a home cooked meal. It’s especially nice when someone else does the cooking. Actually, while the food was wonderful, it was the one who cooked it that made the evening lovely. Theresa (a.k.a. Reeree) is a very dear friend and she was nice enough to have us over for a little R and R (which I will now take to mean Rest and Reeree). The conversation was wide ranging and there were, as you might imagine, a few laughs, some tears, and a lot of love. Thank you, dear friend.
I believe I’ve said before that this is one of my favorite events of the year. Oh, I enjoy Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and other holidays and special occasions. But none quite compare to Easter. We talked about ‘morning people’ this morning. I am one. Cathy, not so much. But we set the alarm for 5:00 AM and left by 5:30, getting to Fourth Presbyterian in time for the 6:00 AM sunrise service. Actually, the sun didn’t rise until after 6:50, when the service was over. It was pretty overcast, in any case, so you couldn’t really tell. We went inside for a lovely breakfast and then went to the regular 8:00 AM service, complete with orchestra and choir. As I write this, I can smell the leg of lamb that’s roasting and shortly will have potatoes in the oven to get crispy. So, I’m looking forward to one of my favorite meals. Happy Easter to all. He is risen!
We had a family dinner night this evening and it was a good time. I don’t want to say that Kai was the center of attention but, well, Kai was the center of attention. We’re expecting some competition for that attention sometime in early July (give or take a week or more). But for now, he’s it and he’ll still get plenty of attention after his cousin in born. He’s one and a quarter today. Apparently he’s been walking quite a bit, mostly at day care and not so much when family is around. Tonight he walked a few times and when he did, he got cheers. When he gets cheers, he cheers himself, and that’s what he’s doing here. He’s very (and rightly) proud of himself. It won’t be long before his parents are run off their feet trying to keep up with this little fellow. He’s quite adorable and so, we adore him.
We had a nice dinner, as well, with dumplings from Mama Dumpling (a.k.a. China Bistro) as well as other dishes. Good as always.
As mentioned yesterday, we are visiting Winchester, Virginia this weekend to do a little family history work. This time it doesn’t involve library work. Mostly we wanted to visit the battlefields of the Second and Third Battles of Winchester. Cathy’s great, great grandfather was taken prisoner on June 15, 1863 during the second battle. He spent some little while on Belle Isle in Richmond before being paroled. Today we were able to find the road he and his fellow soldiers were on when they ran into the main body of the Confederate Army.
After that we had a late lunch and then moved on to the battlefield for the Third Battle of Winchester, also known as the Battle of Opequon Creek. This avenue of trees, which would not have been there in 1864, runs through the middle of what is known as the Middle Field where some of the heaviest fighting took place. Cathy’s ancestor was, with the rest of his Pennsylvania Volunteer regiment, fighting in General Wright’s Sixth Corps in General Ricketts’s division. They were along the Berryville Road (now Virginia route 7) about a mile to the south of this point and what is now the site of the Winchester Gateway shopping center. We don’t know when or where in the course of the battle he was killed but sometime that day he died. He is, presumably, in one of the graves marked ‘Unknown Soldier’ in the National Cemetery in Winchester.
Here is a short description taken from CivilWar.org:
On September 19th , Sheridan advanced toward Winchester along the Berryville Pike with Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright’s Sixth Corps and Brig. Gen. William Emory’s Nineteenth Corps, crossing Opequon Creek east of town. The Union advance was delayed long enough for Early to concentrate his forces to meet the main assault, which continued for several hours. Casualties were very heavy.
We took a mini-vacation this weekend, driving out late Friday evening to Winchester, Virginia. We planned to spend tomorrow and possibly some of Sunday doing a little on-the-ground family history research. Cathy’s great, great grandfather was (we believe) captured during the second battle of Winchester and killed during the third. We hope to find a few significant locations for his regiment of Pennsylvania volunteers. Obviously, I’ll post pictures from tomorrow and Sunday when the time comes.
When we got to our hotel I hadn’t taken any pictures for the day so Cathy was nice enough to let me take a few of her. I like this one best.
As I mentioned yesterday, Dorothy is home for spring break and brought four friends with her. Today we drove out to our friends farm in the outskirts of Poolesville. The chicken’s are not really a featured attraction and visitors are not supposed to wander out into the field with the animals. One advantage of being friends with the owners, however, is a little more latitude when it comes to where we are allowed. The kids (and I’m counting Cathy among them) enjoyed catching chickens and putting them back inside the enclosure. Here are John, Cathy, and Grace, each with a chicken.
Dorothy came home for spring break and brought four of her friends with her. They arrived at about 5:00 PM and I got home a little after 6:00. I fixed a very non-standard shepherd’s pie for dinner, using chicken instead of the more traditional lamb or also quite common beef. There were meat eaters in the crowd but a few who were not eating red meat. Also, fresh shepherd is so hard to find this time of year. Cathy, as is her wont, sat on the floor and stretched. This is most everyone, gathered in the living room, joining in.
We’ve been going through things at Cathy’s mom’s. We’re getting rid of some things, either throwing away, recycling, or donating. We’ve also kept some things, of course. In the first pass, some things get kept to look at again later. That was the case for this Chinese dragon hat. We don’t know when it came into the house or whether it was given or bought.
It’s quite festive, although not really Cathy’s style. I’ll be posting pictures from time to time of things found. Some of them we’ll keep but probably not everything. Taking the things from two houses (hers and ours) it’s not like we can fit it all into one (ours). So, we have to part with things we might otherwise keep. I’ve also started going through my own things with an eye towards downsizing. The sooner the better. It’s amazing the amount of stuff you can accumulate over the course of a lifetime (and we’re not even done, yet (as far as we know).
With George and Carmela here for the weekend, it was a good time for a family dinner night. Not everyone could be there but those of us who were had a nice time with Indian food from Bombay Bistro. Not surprisingly, Kai was often the center of attention. Babies and toddlers have a way of doing that. He it poised to make the transition to toddler, as well. He took an unaided step this evening and we all clapped. He looked around, started clapping himself and then sat down. It is not, apparently, the first step he’s taken. It won’t be long before his parents are having to run after him. He’s as cute as ever and he enjoyed pieces of naan along with his teething biscuits. He also loves orange wedges, which great grandma brought out after the meal.
It was warm in the house this evening so he was without shirt, as you can see in the picture. His cheeks are rosy but he seemed quite happy, even if he looked uncomfortably warm.
We had a family dinner night at mom’s and, as usual, Kai was the star of the show. Seeing him every few weeks (or less often) means that he’s always changed significantly since the last time. That’s getting to be less and less true, of course, but it’s still clear. He was slow to warm up to the crowd this evening but eventually he did. he enjoyed the steamed dumplings from Mama Wok’s in Rockville and also the orange wedges that his great grandma brought out. He wasn’t terribly clever about sticking to the juicy bits and wasn’t happy when he bit into the peel instead. That’s how you learn, though.
This young woman, Julia by name, is a dear friend and all around wonderful gal. She came over yesterday and today to help us around the house. I didn’t get to see her yesterday or most of today (work, work, work) but she was here when I got home and she let us take her to dinner. Then and for a little while afterwards we got to chat and catch up on things. And she let me take a few pictures of her, so that’s what I’m posting for today. Thanks, Jules.
We haven’t had regularly schedule family dinner nights for a while, although we’ve seen each over over the holidays. Because Dorothy is about to go back to school for the spring semester, mom asked if we could get together before she was gone. She fixed both a pot roast and a vegetarian stew, both of which were terrific over mashed potatoes. Of course, the highlight of the evening was seeing each other and, as usual, this little fellow was often the center of attention.
He’s been quite expressive for a while now but it getting more and more so every time we see him. I won’t claim that he’s the cutest kid that’s ever lived, as that’s a pretty high bar but he certainly is cute. He’s a happy kid, as well, and getting this smile from him is fairly easy (although catching it on camera is a little harder). I also got some pictures of him with his dad, who was wearing a matching shirt, albeit without the tiger on it.
Cathy was nice enough to let me take a few pictures of her this evening. They were not anything special but it was nearly 10:30 and I hadn’t taken any pictures today. I asked Dorothy if I could take her picture but she’s not really all that fond of having her picture taken. I certainly understand that, feeling pretty much the same way myself, but of course, as the one taking the pictures, I’d prefer she be more agreeable. Nevertheless, I really do understand and sympathize. But Cathy was fine with it.
Between when this picture was taken and now, when I’m writing this four days later, Cathy’s had a hair cut. If you saw her without seeing this picture or without having seen her for a while, you might not notice. Her hair isn’t short at this point, but before the haircut it was, as you can see, pretty long.
On January first, 2004, Amy and Kevin had us over for what she described in the invitation as a low-key, relaxed, New Year’s day party. It lived up to its billing and with the exception of two rough years early this decade, we have had a suitably low-key repeat. Fondue is the traditional fare, with both beef and cheese pots going. This is the crew, except James, who hadn’t made it to the table yet. There was laughter as well as mourning, as we looked back on a year that called for both. We don’t kno, of course, what the year ahead holds, but with friends like these, who needs enemas.
I don’t really know how long she’s been doing it but my mom has had a New Year’s Eve party most years since I was in high school, at the very latest. That’s more than 40 years. A few years ago we moved midnight forward to 11:00 PM so that people could drive home before the really crazy, drunk folk were on the road. We had a nice time visiting with people we often see only once a year. This is Dorothy, Kendra, and Cathy, sitting in front of one of mom’s recent quilt creations. As for the fingers they are holding up, that’s for my benefit. Seven fingers for seven years of taking at least one picture a day. I’ve taken just over 149,000 photos over the course of 2,557 days, an average of a little over 58 per day.
Cathy and I took the day off today to do a bunch of work around the house. We did that last week and Jean came to help. We got a lot done then and today we followed up with more work along the same lines. Julia came and was a real boost. We were glad just to see her, of course, but the fact that she helped us get things done was a bonus. She’s also now a college graduate, which is pretty exciting. We made a run to the recycle center and trash transfer station and when we got back, I took a handful of pictures of her before she left.
As usual, we had a three-part Christmas this year. We started by opening our stockings and a few presents at home. Then we went to Cathy’s mom’s where we had our traditional breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage. We opened a few more presents there. At about 1:30 we (including Cathy’s mom) went to my mom’s. We had our equally traditional dinner of enchilada (plus lot of other food, of course). In the evening we played a game. This year we each submitted five of our favorite songs. George then compiled them and played a segment of each. The idea was to guess which songs went with which person. It was a three-way tie for first place with the winners getting 12 out of 14 correct.
Back in February I posted a picture of Lacey and Daniel when Daniel was three weeks old. He is now almost eleven months and he’s still as cute as ever. I happened to check on the nursery this morning at church and he was the only child there, being held by Christine whose own son has moved up to the Sunday School class with the other youngsters. Daniel’s older brother, Tim, also moved up and that, actually, is what he’s crying about. As long as he has his brother with him, he’s willing to have his mother leave him in the nursery. But when Tim leaves, as well, that’s too much to bear. Seeing a somewhat scary looking old may with a big, black thing that makes bright flashes of light didn’t help. He kept staring at me as I moved around and took a few pictures. Of course, he quieted down and was fine shortly. It’s been delightful to see this little one grow this first year and I’m looking forward to the next. It’s also delightful to see all the toddlers move up into Sunday School. All too soon they’ll be heading off to college.
We had our annual office holiday party today. It’s not really much like the holiday parties you see in movies or sitcoms. We have a buffet lunch and a beer or two (I don’t think I’ve ever gotten around to having a second beer, actually). There is a silent auction and a 50:50 raffle to raise money for a local charity (we raised over $1,800 this year). The Senior Vice President (and Study Area Director) over the group spoke for a little bit, introducing some folks who have joined the group since last year’s lunch. This is a picture of Troy, Kasia, Katie, and Ben, with whom I’ve worked for quite a few years.
I only took a few pictures today but I think this one turned out nicely. That’s Cathy, obviously (and in case the title of the post didn’t make it clear). This is a pretty casual photo. Cathy was reading on the sofa in the living room and I was on the other sofa and asked if I could take her picture. The camera was set wrong for the first one. I had the exposure set to manual at 1.3 seconds at f/18 from last night when I was taking pictures of Christmas lights. That picture would have been good otherwise, but the motion kind of messed it up. This one is good, too, properly exposed and without the motion-induced blur of the first one. I think it’s nice and she certainly looks relaxed.
In a little over a week (on December 18, to be precise) we will have been married for a third of a century. I don’t suppose 33 years, 4 months is a generally recognized milestone but perhaps it should be. It’s a while, anyway, and I think we’ve done pretty well.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we had our Thanksgiving meal today instead of the more traditional Thursday. Iris had to work briefly in the morning but she was at mom’s before I got there at about half past noon. Our meal was the traditional turkey and all the fixings but of course, the real feast is being with family. I’ve decided to post two pictures from today, one as we were sitting down to eat. clockwise from far left: Steve, Danna, George, Carmela, Margaret, Dot, Cathy, Dorothy, Tsai-Hong, Iris, Seth, Maya, and Kaien
After dinner we sat and talked and occasionally laughed. Steve showed off the leather armor he has made for his live action roll playing (LARP) and I got some good pictures of both him and Carmela dressed in it. We also took family portraits, both with my camera and with mom’s. This is one of mine. Front, from left to right: Carmela, George (with Chester), Margaret, Cathy, Tsai-Hong holding Kaien, Steve, and Henry. Back, also left to right: Iris, Seth holding Bean, Dot, Dorothy, Maya, and Danna
It was a beautiful if somewhat chilly day (but not unseasonably chilly) and I wanted to get outdoors for at least a little while. I went for a drive, first stopping to take some pictures in the neighborhood of trees still holding onto their leaves. Oaks are like that. Then I drove up Georgia Avenue through Olney and Brookeville and turned left onto Brookeville Road. I stopped to take a few pictures of the Oakley Cabin. This cabin is one of three that once stood here in what “was once the center of an African American roadside community from emancipation into the early 20th century. The dwelling, inhabited until 1976, is now operated as a living history museum by M-NCPPC, Department of Parks, Montgomery County.”
It’s Cathy’s birthday today. She hasn’t been feeling well and I knew she would not agree to inviting people over today. Also, because of the construction (well, mostly because of that) out house is, shall we say, even more disorganized than usual. But for her birthday, I wanted to christen the fire pit that I bought her and wanted to do that with some of her best friends. So, I invited them without asking. At about 5:30, Jean and Lexi walked in the front door and called out, ȁHello, anyone home?” About a half hour later, Amy arrived. Then Julia, followed by Yvette. Maureen also came, although not until after this picture was taken. Cathy agreed that she would have said “no” but that she was glad they all came. And the fire pit was a hit.
At our old house we had 6 oak trees all more than two feet in diameter and four more than three feet. We had a ridiculous amount of leaves to get up. To make matters worse, as anyone with oaks knows, they are among the later trees to drop their leaves. Usually the leaves would not all be down before Christmas and we often had to rake into January. A few years we rented a leaf vacuum and that actually was pretty useful but it would go once across the yard and I’d have to empty it. Still, it took less time than raking, which is what we did most years.
At this house we have two large oaks in the front (there was a third but it’s gone now and never had a lot of leaves while we lived here). In the back are two smaller maples, which I think I’ve mentioned before. The easiest way to get rid of the leaves is to run over them with the lawn mower. That would never have worked at the old house (too many of them) but here, as long as we don’t let it get too bad, it works quite well. This is Cathy, mulching up the leaves, and pretending to run me down. This, believe it or not, is Cathy trying to look fierce.
We had a family dinner night today and it was great (as always) to see Kai (and the others, of course). Every time we see him, and it’s only been two weeks, he’s doing more and becoming more and more his own person with his own reactions and mannerisms. This evening he was in a good mood, as well, which is always a bonus.
We had Chinese carry-out and he had spaghetti squash and some other mushy something. Then he played on the floor for a while and of course he was held by many. He’s gotten old and sturdy enough to ride on his dad’s shoulders and as you can see, he’s enjoying it.
This is officially my 2,500 photo in my increasingly ill-named “Project 365.” Unofficially, I’m actually at 2,503 consecutive days with a photo, because I took pictures December 29, 30, and 31 in 2010, before starting my Project 365 on January 1, 2011. This is photo number 148,044 on this camera. I’m nearing the 150 thousand mark and expect to get there shortly before the end of the year.
Back in the day (like the mid 1980s) Cathy and I came across a cartoon by Ed Koren that struck a chord with us. It’s a picture of two people, husband and wife, apparently, greeting a woman walking a dog. The husband and wife are wearing typical business clothes except they are both wearing outlandish hats. His has big ears and horns, hers is huge with fruit all over it. The man in speaking and says, “We try to set aside a little time for silliness.”
Those of you who know us very well know that we have taken that to heart and we, like the couple in the cartoon, set aside a little time for silliness. This picture is Cathy being just a little silly. When I got home from work she was out in the back garden pulling weeds. I asked if I could take her picture and this is what she did.
This is Cathy’s Isadora Duncan pose.
Ed Koren’s web site is here: http://www.edwardkoren.com/.
She goes by many names around the world. This woman of mystery, who we simply call Laura, is quite an enigma (although possibly not a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma). Who is she? Where is she from? No one seems to know for sure.
All seriousness aside, though, it was really nice having her here for a day. I fixed dinner for us all this evening, having crab cakes from G&M in Linthicum Heights in the suburbs of Baltimore. I also fixed mashed sweet potatoes, which were a big hit. For dessert, we all took a few bites of a heart cake that Laura bought for her grandma, also at G&M.
Our niece and Margaret’s granddaughter Laura came for a short visit today. We picked her up at the airport and then got Margaret before going out to dinner. I took a few pictures at the restaurant (and I’m sure annoyed the other patrons with my flash). I’ve already posted a picture taken on my phone on Facebook but because I’m behind here, this will end up showing up later. That’s the way it goes. Anyway, it was great having Laura here for a little while, even if she can’t stand being with us for as much as 48 hours.
We had a short walk on the C&O Canal today, out near Riley’s Lock and the Seneca Quarry and the associated stone cutting mill dating from the late 1860s. From there we went to Rocklands Farm and had a nice if somewhat early pizza dinner (or was it a very late lunch, I’m not sure). After that we met with good friends David and Erin. It was so good to visit with them and talk through some things that are going on in our lives.
They have five lovely children and the youngest two of them were with us. As most people who have been around children for any length of time can tell you, although siblings often share significant characteristics, they can also vary quite a bit from one to the next. Erin and David can certainly tell you something about that, as theirs have run the gamut (although they are all very precious and wonderful in their own right). This is Anna-Gabrielle, child number four and she certainly has the family look about her. Nevertheless, she is definitely her own person. Don’t let this photo fool you into thinking she sat quietly while her parents visited with those two old folks. She’s on the go, but she was willing to give me a 1/200th of a second. I’m looking forward to seeing her and her siblings grow up and I am so glad to have them back in the area for at least a while.
With all the hoo-ha about Civil War statues, it is sometimes easy to forget that these were people. William D. Scott was a member of Company D, 14th Virginia Cavalry. He was wounded in action against Union forces and subsequently died. He was buried in a churchyard in Montgomery County, Maryland. His grave is not in the cemetery but on the other side of the building. He is believed to be the only Confederate soldier who was killed in action and is buried in a marked grave in the county.
I don’t know how William felt about slavery, whether he was fighting for what he saw as state’s rights, or if he was simply pressed into service. Regardless, he was a young man, killed in war. He likely had parents, siblings and possibly even a wife and children. People die in war but if you think he deserved to die, then I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree. May God have mercy on him.
Cathy and I went out to dinner with her mom, Margaret, this evening. It isn’t every day that you have a 91st birthday. In fact, a lot of people never have it even once. But she did, so we celebrated. We went to a newish seafood place and had a nice meal. After that we went to York Castle for ice cream. Not the biggest birthday bash in history, but it was relaxing and we had a nice visit. We talked about upcoming transitions and things seem to be beginning to move along those lines (more information on that to come as it happens). In case you’re wondering, Margaret had blacked mahi-mahi (a.k.a., the common dolphin fish, Coryphaena hippurus) and Cathy had stuffed flounder (most likely something in the Paralichthys genus). I had cod (Gadus morhua), oysters, and shrimp.
We went to a soup pot-luck this evening and had some really good food. I tried a new recipe for a Thai chicken and coconut milk soup and if I say so myself, it turned out really well. Some would call that cultural appropriation, I know. What I call it is the sincerest form of flattery. I’ve had very few Thai dishes that I didn’t like (if any, I don’t actually remember having any that I didn’t like). The other soups were also delicious and I was particularly fond of the collard greens and black-eyed peas with Italian sausage. As a kid that would not have appealed to me. As an adult, that’s comfort food of the highest order.
As is so often the case, I had my camera. This picture is of Kofi, a friend and fellow church member. I can’t say I know him as well as I’d like but we’ve started getting to know each other a little better recently. Friendships are always journeys and we never really arrive but the joy, as they say, is in the journey.
The last time we saw Kai (see Saturday, September 2, 2017) he was mostly fussy and slept much of the time he was here. We had a family dinner this evening and today he was in a much happier mood. He’s also progressed a bit from crawling to standing. He still needs to hold on, of course, but he’s not nine months old quite yet, so I think he’s doing very well. Often when I put the camera up to take a picture, if he notices me at all, he just stares blankly at me. I was happy to get a few with him looking at me and also smiling. The joke, of course, is that he’s not going to recognize me because he only sees me with a camera between us and he doesn’t actually know what I look like. It’s mostly a joke, anyway.
We went with Cathy’s mom to the Fourth Presbyterian picnic today at Rocklands Farm. We haven’t gone to Fourth for over 25 years but we still know a lot of people there and of course we know the Rocklands folks, so we had a wonderful time visiting with old friends. I took a bunch of pictures but I have to admit I took more of Janis and Greg’s grandchildren than all the other pictures combined. They’re all just so darned cute. Here are two cousins, Elsie on the left and Marit on the right, ‘driving’ the gator (actually it’s a Kubota, but their previous one was a John Deere and the name is a holdover from that). These two are clearly chums and I’m really happy that Marit and her family are back in the USA for the foreseeable future. Anyway, this picture makes me happy.
We babysat Kai for a few hours today and naturally I took a few pictures. Actually, he slept or was mostly quiet in his crib for most of the time we had him. He didn’t fall asleep for about 20 minutes but was actually not very fussy during that time. After he woke up again we played with him a little and that’s when I took pictures. He was less happy for most of that time than he had been when left alone in his crib. Cathy had him somewhat interested in a few books but the pictures I took were not of a happy boy.
Then his mom came to the door. That’s when I snapped this one. Yes, the happy view we present on social media is often that one moment of joy in an otherwise bleak, joyless day (his, not ours, we were happy just to be in the same room as this beautiful little boy, even when he was sleeping). Enjoy this picture for what it is, a joyous smile on a cute little fellow. But don’t be taken in by the visions of perfection you see on Facebook, Instagram, and other such sites. They are often not a reflection of reality.
Cathy and I relaxed in the back yard this evening and I took a few pictures of her with the black-eyed Susans that are having the time of their lives this year. Actually, this year is nothing special, as they are pretty spectacular every year. In fact, I’m not convinced we wouldn’t have the entire yard full of them if we allowed them to spread uncontrolled. The goose-necked loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) would give them a good fight and might actually win out, as it spreads considerably more quickly. But the black-eye susans (Rudbeckia fulgida) spreads fairly readily.
You could argue that our garden doesn’t have enough variety and you might have a point. On the other hand, the parts of the garden that do have variety tend ultimately to be dominated by whatever plant is the most vigorous. Either that or nothing is vigorous enough and the weeds take over. I have plenty of Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), American burnweed (Erechtites hieracifolia), and goldenrod (Solidago species) to deal with (just to name a few). But where the black-eye susans are growing well, very few weeds have a chance to get started. That’s pretty nice. And, they’re pretty.
Kyle is a pastoral intern at our church’s mother church and he came to preach today, covering the fairly well known story of Daniel during the reign of Darius the Persian. Kyle’s message was good and it was also wonderful to meet his new bride, Ariana. After church, as we do the first Sunday of most months, we had a fellowship meal together. The weather was so wonderful we went outside and ate in the shade of the large trees around the Senior Center. After the long drive yesterday, this was a relatively relaxing way to spend the early afternoon. Certainly more relaxing than Daniel’s day with the lions (spoiler alert…that turned out alright, as well).
We drove home from the beach today. The relatively long drive home is not one of the best aspect of a week off work, but it sort of has to be done and it can’t really be done any time except at the end. Today’s drive was broken up into two segments, each of about 250 miles with a family reunion in between. That did make for a longish day but seeing cousins (first and second as well as variously removed) makes it worth while. I had a really good time visiting and as usual, took a few pictures. Lyn organized a short time of group pictures today. Not as many groupings as we’ve done at times but he did manage to get everyone in the room together for a large group photo (although a few folks had left by then, so they didn’t get included). I can name most, although not quite all of the folks in this picture without any help. And I’m working on learning the last few. Special thanks to the cousins who organized this get-together.
Most kids love the beach. Of course, kids under a certain age are generally not really up on the joys of playing in the surf or digging in the sand. Kai is only seven months old and he isn’t really well versed in the joys of childhood yet. Or, perhaps I should say the joys of his childhood are, at this point, fairly simple. He went out onto the beach (okay, he was taken out onto the beach) this afternoon and was dressed for the sun. The goggles were a bit much and they came off fairly quickly but I think they suit him. He sat on the sand with his feet in a hole with a little water in it and wasn’t entirely displeased. He didn’t particularly like being splashed, although there was no real danger of him getting into any trouble. It won’t be long until he’s mobile and then the fun begins for his parents. “Wait, he was here a second ago, where did he go?”
I’ve already posted the picture of a grasshopper for July 25 and a picture of Madagascar periwinkle to the 26th but I realized that I also meant to post this picture from July 25. After work, Dorothy, Jonathan, and I drove down to Silver Spring and met Juan, Joanna, and Liam at Denizens Brewing Co. on East-West Highway, nearly across the street from the old Gramax building, where I worked for about three years back in the early 1980s. It used to be leased by the National Weather Service and I worked as a contractor there. Anyway, we had a nice time eating, drinking, and talking and it was very good to be together.
Cathy plants annuals in pots for our back patio each year. Every year, however, they are needed less and less as a primary focus and more as accents under the increasingly dense wall of black-eyed Susans that grown around the perimeter. Many of the flower pictures that I take are of a a single flower or at most a few together. It’s good, from time to time, to see the bigger picture (so to speak) and look at the forest instead of the trees. Adding Cathy to the picture can’t hurt, either.
We had the memorial gathering for Ralph today at our house and it was wonderful and sad and good and difficult and fun and exhausting. We had (at best count) 108 people in our house between 2:00 and 6:00 PM (but not quite that many at any given time). That’s a pretty good crowd and it was really nice to meet some of the folks Ralph worked with and even more of the folks he caved with. We could not have done it without the selfless help of a few really good friends and these two were amazing. They had never met before today but I was sure they were going to hit it off. They did and it wasn’t long before they were tag-team teasing me. Thanks to all who helped and to all who came to remember Ralph, brother, son, father, grandfather, caver, robotics vision expert, and all around nice guy.
It’s funny to me how differently people, especially kids, react to having their picture taken. Some duck for cover, some turn their faces away, and some practically beg for more. This little sweetheart is one of the beg-for-more types. Her siblings all like having their pictures taken, too, but this one more than the others put together, I think. Anyway, she’s a very sweet girl and I’m happy to take her picture any chance I get.
I took quite a few pictures of her and her sister and brothers, as well as the other children who were there today. In many of them Addy is making faces and I considered posting one of those. Actually, I suspect she will be disappointed that I haven’t posted one of them. But I love this one that shows her how she normally looks (although from a fairly close vantage point). I’ll share the others with her parents so she’ll be able to see them. Hopefully that will make her happy.
Thanks to Andy and Kelly for having us over with a few other friends this morning. It was a nice way to celebrate the original Brexit (circa 1776). Also, I took a couple pictures of the baby robins but they didn’t turn out too well. Not as well as Kelly’s taken with her phone, in fact.
We were happy to be able to attend this year’s Erick’s Hope dinner and also happy to see a few friends that we don’t see often enough. This beautiful couple were high on the list. There are a few people who epitomize who I’d like to be or what I’d like to be like when I grow up (assuming it’s not too late for me to actually grow up, of course). These two, either one, are on that list. There are others, of course, but they all have some things in common. A genuine care for others is one thing. Also, natural grace and style (which is hard to learn, being natural, of course). Anyway, Sue and Gordy, I think you’re the cat’s whiskers.
This post is also a modest plug for Erick’s Hope. If you have any interest in working with a small non-profit to help children, you could do a lot worse than throw a little money their way (OK, better to actually talk with them and find out what they are up to, but you get the drift). They can be reached through their web site, http://www.erickshope.org/.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I were privileged to be allowed to witness the wedding of our good friend, Ellen. She married this guy Dan, who, by all accounts, is a pretty nice guy. He better be, that’s all I can say. Seriously, though, we hear good things about him and Ellen has her head screwed on pretty well, so I’ll take her word for it. The wedding was very pretty and we were glad to see Ellen so joyful. As you can see (and this will come as no surprise to anyone who knows her, she was a beautiful bride.
I was going to post just the one picture from the wedding but then decided I liked this second one, also, taken at the reception. Ellen is the middle of three girls and this is a picture of the three of them, Hannah, Ellen, and Katie. Our two families have known each other for nearly 20 years. It’s been a pleasure to see the three of them grow up into the beautiful young women you can see here.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while you might remember that we traveled to England with Ellen and her family from August 5 to 19, 2013. That was a fun trip and timed very well in terms of the four girls (these three plus Dorothy), just before Ellen went off to college and life got more complicated.
We wish Dan and Ellen every happiness, of course, and hope to be able to keep in touch in the years ahead.
Ben asked me this morning if I’d like to go with him to Baltimore to watch Will’s baseball game. They are playing in a tournament and the game was at the Johns Hopkins Babb Field at Stromberg Stadium (at the corner of West Universith Parkway and North Charles Street. They had, unfortunately, lost the first game and we got there shortly before the second game started. Will played a pretty good game, with two base hits on three at bats, scoring both times for two of the team’s three runs. This is his second hit. Unfortunately they couldn’t hold the other team and ended up losing six to three, but it was a pretty good game and it was nice to be out and about (even though it was a little warm).
It’s been a long couple days and we’re slowly beginning the process of recovering from Wednesday. Yesterday we spent much of the day with family. Today we just hung out at home most of the day but had everyone over in the evening. In the normal course of things I would have gone out to take pictures in the yard but I just didn’t feel up to it today.
We had Indian food from Bombay Bistro this evening and were together again, doing not much of anything in particular. Of course we played ‘pass the baby,’ as we do in these situations. And I took pictures.
This isn’t the best picture of Kai that I’ve taken but it’s good enough. It’s about time I got a good one of him with his dad (and I think it’s quite a good picture of Steve). There are others, of course, including pictures of the dogs, but it’s Kai-week, so here you are. I’m not saying that there won’t be pictures of Kai again coming soon, although I think tomorrow will be something else. But you never know. And I’ll get back to flowers (or better yet, insects) soon.
If you don’t like baby pictures then I suggest you look away. There may be a few of them over the next few days. After yesterday, you won’t be surprised to learn that we’ve spent a little time with family. Spending time with family generally leads to pictures of Kai. So, you shouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow’s picture is of him, too.
He’s a cute little beggar and getting cuter at a ferocious pace. He’s also making progress towards talking and crawling. On the other hand, he’s so often in someone’s arms I don’t know how he’s ever going to learn to crawl. But he will, I suspect, and then life will get more complicated for his parents (and all of us when they come over).
Ralph L. Hartley
June 10, 1958 – June 14, 2017
Life can be hard and I’m not really sure what to say about this picture. As I get older I find, not surprisingly, I suppose, that there are fewer and fewer people that have known me all my life. My parents, of course, knew me when I was first born. My grandparents, aunts, and uncles, basically, as well. But my dad is gone and so are my grandparents and many of my aunts and uncles. And now my older brother, Ralph. He was only 18 months old when I was born, but he has been there since my beginning and I have known him my entire life. Being so close together in age, we did a lot of things together, especially as kids. We fought, of course, but we played, as well. The family traveled a bunch, going out west and back a few times when we were young. Then in 1971 we moved to England, camping through much of Europe on the way. Ralph and I went to the Cambridge Grammar School for Boys that year. We explored castles and designed our own. We took another trip out west when Ralph and I were in high school, hiking down the Grand Canyon. We went to Greece for eight weeks in 1981, camping almost the whole time. Ralph only stayed for half of that but it was a really good time (and boy, did he have hair then!).
It was about that time that he met Tsai-Hong. They were married in 1982 and have had a wonderful marriage and two amazing children, now both married. In December of last year their grandson Kai was born. Late in 2015 it was clear that Ralph was ill. In January, 2016 he was diagnosed with lymphoma. In January of this year he had a bone marrow transplant and although the transplant was successful, the cancer was still there. They decided to do some traveling and went on a cruise in the Galapagos and another in southeast Alaska. Ralph was an avid and experienced caver and he took five of us into a ‘starter cave’ in West Virginia a few short weeks ago (see Saturday, May 06, 2017).
We all knew it was only a matter of time before he was gone but it came much more quickly than any of us expected. My mom called me early this afternoon to say that Ralph’s breathing had become labored and that I should come over. He was able to hold his precious grandson one last time before he left us, and that was so sweet.
We disagreed on many things and we fought from time to time (sometimes, particularly as kids, physically). But Ralph was the first friend I had and for most of my early life, my best friend. Some of the memories we shared were shared by no one else. I’m amazed by how rich I am in terms of friends and family. Richer than I could ever possibly expect or deserve. But, to quote something I read once, “the cultural memory of our little family has been dealt a terrible blow…. In what seems like the blink of an eye, whole volumes of institutional memory have simply vanished. And that is a terribly lonely thought, that no amount of company and condolence can ease or erase.”
UPDATE: I’ve fixed a few typos, including two years, which were wrong.
These guys, Steve, David, and Juan, (plus me and a few others from time to time) have been meeting regularly for over a year and a half (since October, 2015, I just looked it up in my journal). Mostly we meet at the church office but now and then we go out for dinner. This evening was such a time and we mat at the Old Town Pour House in Downtown Crown. The food was quite good, although I’d say it was overpriced. I had a duck Reuben and it was really tasty but $14 for a sandwich? Really? The beer was good and there is a pretty broad selection to choose from. I went with a beer called Bivalve Saison brewed by Evolution Craft Brewing Company of Salisbury, Maryland. Nice. As usual, we talked about life. That can keep us busy for a while, as you might guess.
We went up to the Farm today and everyone was there, which was great. I took what some might consider a lot of pictures and baby Kai was in his fair share of them. There are a bunch of Kai with grandpa Ralph and that’s what we have here. It isn’t the best angle for seeing their faces but if I went to one side or the other I’d get the back of one head. I got a bunch that I think are good but decided to go with this one, which I like pretty well.
Look who we had breakfast with this morning! If you know who these people are, then I suspect you’re jealous. If you don’t know who they are then you want to. Well, you may not know that you want to but you do.
It’s hard to believe how much Brandon has grown since we saw him last, which was about two years ago (two days short of two years, to be precise). He was very good to sit with us as we talked with his mom for over an hour (closer to two). We did talk to him a little and when I asked what his favorite classes are in school he said math, science, and history. Actually, he named all his classes except English. And he likes to read, so that’s not so far behind. When I asked what he likes to read, he said fiction and non-fiction. Well, that just about covers it.
Kristine caught us up on the goings on with Brandon’s four older sisters. Never a dull moment for Kristine and Bill. Sorry, Bill, that it’s been so long since we’ve seen you. We’d love to have breakfast with you, if you ever came to town. Just let us know. And of course we caught Kristine up on what’s happening with us. We could have talked for hours more but I did have to get to work (what a hassle!). Maybe Cathy and I can go visit them sometime, before too long.
We had the pleasure of baby sitting this little munchkin this evening while his parents went to a movie. Kaien (pronounced like Ryan with a K instead of an R, or simply Kai) is just over 5 months old now and really is starting to show a personality. He smiles a lot and thankfully is pretty easily distracted if he starts to fuss.
He slept for about an hour of the time we had him and then had a bottle, which was also pretty easy. After that we enjoyed singing to him. He especially loved Old MacDonald Had A Farm, especially the animal sounds that Cathy made. She sang quite a few verses, including some with animals that are not generally considered farm animals (do any farmers keep lions?). We also sang some songs by the Limeliters. Interestingly, their album Through Children’s Eyes was one that Cathy and I both listened to as children, so we both know the songs on it. Anyway, we sang a few songs from that. He mostly just stared at us throughout.
I enjoyed taking pictures of these two having fun in the kitchen this evening. Grace did most of the flipping. They both did a lot of laughing. Grace posted a picture similar to this shortly after I got it off my camera and shared it with her. I’m a little late getting to it but I also have taken the time to make a few changes. First, I cropped the image a bit. Second, I replaced the image of Emily with one from a different picture that I think is better (her eyes are open, for instance). Getting the timing right so I could get the pancake in the air was the trickiest part, of course. It was much easier after she got more height on them, as in this image.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we drove to West Virginia and spent the night at the PSC Field House in the North Form Mountain area. We got a reasonable night’s sleep and after a hearty breakfast, six of us headed off the Hamilton Cave. Ralph and Stephen are both experienced cavers but the rest of us were beginners. We’ve all been in the big, commercial caverns like Luray or Carlsbad (although I’d really like to see Carl’s Good cavern!). I’ve been in a reasonable number of caves in the USA, France, England, Greece, and Slovakia (although it was Czechoslovakia at the time). But this was the first time in a cave such as this. Hamilton cave has a pretty good maze of passages and I’m certainly glad we had two people who knew their way around.
After checking in at The Register, we made our way to our first goal, the Slab Room. This is named for the large slab of rock that fell in the distant past (well, probably recent in geologic terms, but it was more than a few years ago). Getting here involved passages where we had to crawl on all fours and a couple stretches where I had to take off my small day pack and push it in front of me while I slithered along on my front in what I know as an army crawl. You know the one, where you are lying prone and you pull yourself along with your elbow and push with your knees. It can be fairly tiring, especially for someone carrying extra weight and with not-terribly-strong arms. But we all made it through. There were other places where we could walk upright and they were very welcome, I can tell you.
There was an even tighter spot than those the required an army crawl. There is one place where the passage gets fairly narrow between two smooth, nearly vertical rocks. They are closest together at just the wrong height from the ground for someone about my height and with a larger than necessary midsection. If you know what i mean.
It was not quite Winnie-the-Pooh in Rabbit’s Hole but it was tight. Fortunately they didn’t hang dish towels on my legs. Getting through that required getting up on my toes so my largest part was a little higher than the tightest part, and then getting a bit of a push from Stephen. The second picture here is further into the cave than that tightish bit. It shows Seth sitting in a fairly large room as the others made their way up behind him. The last picture was actually taken between the other two. I don’t often take selfies but I thought in this case I would. So, that’s me in my caving gear. Looks as though I’ve been crawling in the dirt, doesn’t it?
As you can probably guess by the fact that I’m posting this, I made it out. We all had a good time and were certainly glad we went. I will confess to being glad to see the sunlight again and to be able to stand up without worrying about hitting my head on a rock.
When anyone advertises anything as the ‘first annual’ whatever, you have to admire their optimism. I mean, anyone can have a ‘first annual’ anything but following that with a ‘second annual’ is the tricky bit. That’s not to say things just happen after that, but doing something twice on the same day of the year is a real milestone (or is it a millstone?). The National Day of Prayer, established in 1952 to be held on the first Thursday in May, was the occasion of the second annual Montgomery County Prayer Breakfast with over 100 in attendance. Many thanks to Paul and Janet for their efforts to get this going and for enlisting sponsors to cover the costs.
A wedding is a big deal. A wedding for people you know and love is a bigger deal. That being the case, I don’t feel like I need to restrict myself to one picture of Hannah and Drew. The picture I posted yesterday was before the rehearsal, as they were sitting in a hallway waiting for everyone to get organized. Actually, the wedding coordinator was pretty phenomenal, from what I could tell, and had things under control but even at the best of times, there are a lot of moving parts and they all need to move in harmony. With her help, along with a cast of thousands (well, over a dozen, anyway), things went about as smoothly as they can be expected to go.
The first picture here is from the wedding, as you can probably tell. At this point, Hannah and Drew are married and have turned to face their family and friends as the pastor introduces them for the first time as husband and wife. The second picture was taken during the rather lengthy photo session that followed the ceremony. I didn’t take a lot while that was happening, because the official photographers had it under control but this was a nice lineup of the wedding party and I couldn’t resist taking a few. Hannah and Drew, I meant what I told you that evening. If there is ever anything you need and it’s in my power to give it, you only have to ask.
As many of you know, Cathy and I few up to Boston this morning. I took my first Uber ride from Logan Airport and we met up with Dorothy. At about 1:30 we headed up to New Hampshire for the rehearsal for Hannah and Drew’s wedding, which is tomorrow. Cathy and I were not actually involved in the wedding, beyond providing one of the bridesmaids. We got a call, though, asking if I could take a few pictures at the rehearsal. Of course I was only too happy to do so. This is one of the first pictures I got after arriving at the church and I’m pretty happy with it. Preparations for a wedding can be somewhat stressful but they were (mostly) relaxed and everyone was in a good mood.
The pink dogwood is out and we’re about to enter the most floriferous time of the year. The dogwoods are probably at or just past their peak. Likewise the redbuds. The azaleas are just starting and will be in full bloom soon, which is a pretty spectacular time in our area. The azaleas are followed within a few weeks by some of the early roses, some of which continue to bloom throughout the summer.
I took some pictures of the yard this afternoon. First I got some overall shots showing shrubs, trees, grass, etc. Then I took some close up shots of a phlox plant that is blooming along the back of the yard. The dogwood that Cathy is standing next to in this photo is in the front, too close to the house, really but it’s such a beautiful tree when it’s in bloom that I’m loath to take it out. I tried planting a tall camellia under it that I could cut it out in favor of, but that was just before two very cold winters and it died. I should probably try again. But, for now, we’re enjoying it.
I realize that I’m more than a week behind in posting this. It’s been a busy time and I’ll try to get caught up shortly. Easter sunrise services are one of my favorite events. It’s partly a function of how much I appreciate Easter. To me it’s much more important than Christmas. I realize you cannot have Easter without having had Christmas but without Easter, Christmas would be meaningless. Easter also has some wonderful music associated with it and we aren’t overwhelmed with non-Easter, seasonal music as we are for Christmas.
Pictures of smiling, happy babies are great, of course, but there’s something about a baby making a less peaceful expression that I really love. I’m not saying I want babies to cry and of course I try to make them happy when they do. But crying happens. It’s a fact of life.
The family we here for dinner this evening and I took a bunch of pictures and a few short videos. Kaien was in a good mood most of the evening and he’s a pretty easy going little boy. Later on he was getting tired or hungry or something and was a little less happy and that’s when I took this one. I wish I had been a bit farther away or had a shorter lens on the camera so I could have gotten his whole head in the frame. He was wiggling about and my tracking was a little behind. I caught the expression, though, and I think that’s the main thing. You get what you can when you can. I certainly didn’t have time to go rummaging through my camera bag. I love this look.
I took another boatload of pictures at the play this evening. Most of those won’t mean much unless you where there and if you were there, then you already saw it. Also, unless I posted the entire cast again, I’d have to pick a picture of one or two people and leave out all the rest. Well, I guess that’s what I’ve done but instead of going with a picture of students, I decided to post this one of Becky, the fearless director of the WCA play. If you’ve ever been involved in high school drama (as if you had to put on a play to get drama in high school!) then you know how much work it is. Imagine doing that with a toddler in tow. But she pulled it off, with the help of a wonderful assistant director, student assistant director, and a host of others. Well done.
We gathered for a family dinner this evening and as usual since late December, the star of the show was Kaien, now a little over three months old. Most everyone got a chance to hold him and he’s so good-natured that it was a nice time. There are other things going on, of course, and if you know then you know. If you don’t know I won’t bother you with it. Suffice it to say that it was a bittersweet gathering but one I’m glad we had. We’ll be doing that as much as we can for as long as we can. Anyway, here’s grandma with her precious little one.
This evening We met up with our good friend Jean and her two beautiful daughters, Lexi and Maria. We only live across the river from each other but getting together seems to get harder rather than easier. The evening rush hour is not the best time to cross the Potomac but we did and had a wonderful time chatting and laughing. Talk ranged from the serious to the silly, as it does when you’re with good friends. It’s hard to believe these two girls are so grown up, but it’s true. Sadly, Dorothy wasn’t able to be with us, but we’ll get together again when she’s home this summer.
She hates to have her picture taken and I doubt she’ll like this one any more than others I’ve taken over the years but this young woman has been a real blessing to our family and it was really nice to see her this morning. She and a friend came to help with music and worship at church this morning and I took a few pictures (yes, during church, it happens). I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as to say that Dorothy wouldn’t do any singing without the influence of Christy but I do think that influence was real and important. She pushed Dorothy well out of her comfort zone and it’s really paid dividends since. Even without that, Christy is a lovely young woman, sweet and loving to everyone she meets (at least as far as I know and I’d appreciate it if no one shows me otherwise). She also has a really pretty voice. Just sayin’.
We got together for a family dinner this evening at Iris and Seth’s apartment. George and Carmela had talked about being there but in the end they couldn’t because they had important matters of a canine variety to take care of. Specifically, they were picking up their new, one-year-old dachshund, Chester. But it was a fun time visiting with family, enjoying a wonderfully prepared meal, and of course, passing the baby around. I don’t think everyone had a chance to hold him but most did. We also took a few pictures (really?) and I’m particularly glad we got this one of four generations, from oldest to youngest Dot, Ralph, Stephen, and Kaien.
It’s that time of year again. Way back in November I ran into the kindergarten teacher from Dorothy’s old school and she asked me if I was up for coming to her class in February as Abe Lincoln. As you can probably guess from the accompanying photo, I said yes. This was taken as I got to work in the morning, using my cell phone camera.
I don’t often post photos of myself, partly because I don’t take very many and partly as a public service to you, my loyal readers. There are much nicer things to look at than my visage.
I don’t really make a particularly good Lincoln. I’m not anywhere near tall enough and my build is much too heavy. But this is for kindergarteners, remember. They aren’t terribly demanding and to them, even I am tall. It helps that their teacher is fairly small, also, so in comparison, I’m tall. The top hat and the beard are really all it takes. The first question I got from them was, “Are you the real Abraham Lincoln?”
Taking pictures of newborn babies is a bit tricky. Typically they are lying down or being held that way. If they are being held, the person holding them is often moving, meaning the good angle for a picture changes from moment to moment, assuming there is a good angle at all. Newborns don’t generally make interesting expressions and asking them to smile doesn’t help very much. When they do make a good expression, the chances of them being turned away from you are fairly high, or the person holding them is talking or has his or her eyes closed or something. That isn’t going to stop me from trying, of course.
I’m pretty pleased with this picture of Lacey and her three week old son, Daniel. It isn’t the greatest picture of Lacey, who is laughing at something someone said, but perhaps she’ll forgive me that, since it’s a pretty nice picture of Daniel, who seems quite happy and content. We can’t ask for a lot more than that. Congratulations to Lacey, Gil, and big brother Tim. What a beautiful addition to the family. Thanks for letting us intrude on your domestic life for a little while.
Cathy’s been working her way through a box of old family photographs and making some interesting connections. In the bin in this picture, the picture on the left is Cathy’s grandfather, Albert, from high school. We were hoping that we might find a picture of Ernest Hemingway, who attended the same school, Oak Park and River Forest High School, from 1913 until 1917, a few years ahead of Albert. Unfortunately, we didn’t. But you never know what might show up further down in the box.
As I mentioned in the post from Friday, pictures of this little fellow are likely to be fairly common here for a while. For one thing, he’s the cutest little thing. For another, he’s the first of the next generation, as far as my immediate family is concerned, and is my first grand nephew. We’re fortunate to have him (and his parents) living so close by. After visiting him on Friday, we had dinner at mom’s this evening because Brady was in town on business and we took the opportunity to get together. It was good to see her and everyone, including Iris, Ralph, and Tsai-Hong who were there via video conferencing on Seth’s phone.
If you think we’re going to visit Kai without my taking pictures of him, or if you don’t want to see baby pictures, then I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. We paid him a visit this evening (we saw his parents, too, but whatever) and mom (Dot) was there as well, visiting her great grand son. We each took a turn holding him and I took pictures of both Cathy and mom holding him. He seems to be growing well and is certainly a sweet little thing.
It was a fairly busy day today. We spent the morning at Cathy’s mom’s house, going through boxes of papers. We made some progress, although there’s still a bit left to do. From there we went to College Park for a graduation party for a friend. It was nice to spend time with Josh and his family, as well as his girlfriend, Lizzy, pictured here with Cathy and her mom, Jeannine. Then we went to Baltimore to visit Ralph and Tsai-Hong. After that visit we drove through parts of Baltimore we hadn’t been to before. I tried to get a picture of the Domino Sugar sign over the harbor through the fog but it was too thick and you can’t make out what the vague pink light is.
Cathy and I went to visit our grand-nephew Kai this evening. We also visited his parents, but really, we all know why we were there. But seriously, it was a nice chance to visit and of course to hold the baby, who is growing like the proverbial weed. Cathy took a bunch of pictures of me holding him, but of course I post pictures here that I’ve taken, so you are spared that. This is Steve giving him his dinner. Actually, I don’t know how you name meals when they come every two hours, but it was 7:30 PM, so we’ll call it dinner.
We had lunch with some of the rest of our family today but it was a little unusual because we all wore masks to reduce the risk of passing infection to Ralph, whose immune system is “somewhat compromised” at the moment. It was really nice to get together and have a visit. We were sorry that Steve, Maya, Kaien, and Danna were not able to join us but having a baby throws your schedule off and it can make what would formerly have been an easy outing into a complicated journey. Of course they’ll get into the swing of things soon but we all missed seeing them (especially Kai).
We have known Erin and David since Dorothy was in first grade. In fact, Erin was Dorothy’s first grade teacher, back in the day. She and David were married the following summer and we stayed in her family’s house while they all went off for the wedding. Over the next few years we got to know them better, even though she stopped teaching to begin raising the family they have now become.
This afternoon we were blessed to spend a little time with all but their oldest, who is now 12. This picture is of number five, Glenn, who was born last June. I won’t say he’s any cuter than his older siblings were, because they all have been quite attractive (some kids have all the luck in the genetic lottery). But this is one adorable little fellow. Look at those cheeks, to say nothing of his eyes. Thanks, Erin, for letting me hold him and thanks, also, for holding him so I could take his picture.
We had originally held off celebrating Christmas with Cathy’s mom because Cathy’s niece (Dorothy’s cousin) was going to be coming and we thought we’d do it while she was here. Maggie’s travel plans have changed so we decided to go ahead with Second Christmas without her. That’s why there are all those presents under the tree.
Lately Cathy and Dorothy have been watching various exercise videos and working along with them. Yesterday they were talking about the belly dancer that we saw in a restaurant in Rockville and they looked up instructional videos. Who said the internet isn’t good for anything? Anyway, they worked their way through it and this is one of the many moves they practiced.
It’s funny how some things become tradition. Thirteen years ago, Amy and Kevin invited us to their house on New Year’s Day for what Amy described as a “low-key celebration.” When they repeated the invitation the following year it was on its way to becoming a tradition. The guest list has changed with the only constant being Amy and one or both of her boys and Cathy, Dorothy, and me. Since Keven passed away, we have hosted the party and this is our fourth at our house. The aim is the same, though, a low-key celebration of the new year. As we approached the date, Amy asked if she could invite a family that she’s known for many years and of course we agreed. When they arrived, we introduced ourselves to Karen, Kyle, and Grace and to our surprise, Karen recognized Cathy. Their families knew each other back in the day. And by that I mean the 1960s! Small world.
Well, it’s the end of another year. For what started out as Project 365, with one picture a day for a year, posted on Facebook, I’ve now finished six years, 2,192 consecutive days of at least one photo a day. I just looked back at the posts from December 31, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Of those five posts, three of them were taken in the family room of our good friend, Stuart and Donna. They were also all taken right before the stroke of midnight. This year’s photo was taken in their kitchen about 40 minutes before the end of the year. It features Hannah, Rachel, and Lyla.
In all I took only 18,270 photographs this year, the first year under 20,000 with this camera, but that brings the total for the camera to 134,953. I had one day this year when I only took one photograph but I’ve managed to take at least one every day. The most I took in a day was only 792, which is a pretty low maximum. We didn’t take any extended sightseeing vacations this year and I had no weddings to photograph, which played a part if the lower numbers. But I’m still at it. Anyway, see you next year.
Happy birthday, Maya. I know you’re exhausted but look at this little boy. What a dear little thing he is. To everyone else reading this, let me introduce to you Kaien (pronounced basically like Ryan with a K) or Kai, if you prefer (like Sky without the S). He was born on Saturday, December 24, and we visited this evening and I know you’re going to be shocked but I took a few pictures. This is one of my favorites. I probably say this every time I see a newborn but it always surprises me again how small they are. Anyway, welcome to the family, Kai. We’re a bit of an odd bunch, but you don’t get to pick your family. Sorry about that.
Every year is different. That’s good, in the sense that we want a little variety in our lives. If every day were just like the last, we’d get bored (some of us sooner than others). That’s why so many people love the changing seasons. Autumn and spring, times of transition, are especially beautiful. But even with the change, there is a sameness the overlays it all. Every year has the same four seasons and that repetition is quite comforting. We know what to expect next, at least in broad terms, even if the details are different.
Every year, the details are different. We all know that but we’re still surprised by it, from time to time. Last year was different to all the others (at least all my others) because Albert wasn’t there. This year was different for a totally different reason. Ralph’s son and daughter-in-law (Stephen and Maya) had a son yesterday. What a wonderful combined Christmas and Hanukkah present. They named him Kaien (pretty much rhymes with Ryan) but gave him the middle name Albert. That was a very sweet thing for them to do and a very nice present for all of us.
For a number of reasons, not least of which was a scheduling conflict at our normal location for church tomorrow and the fact that most people want to be with their families on Christmas day, we had a Christmas Eve service today instead. It was a fairly small, informal affair, with only about 20 people in all including more children than adults. After the service, I took this picture and if I have their names right, they are Olivia, Alyssa, and Ellie behind Hope and Sugar (the dog).
Cathy and Dorothy went over this afternoon to pick up D’Argo from Steve and Maya’s. They were going to the hospital to have their first child and we will have the dog for a little while, certainly until they are home again and settled down a bit. As I write this, late on Saturday morning, there is still no word on the baby’s arrival, but we should hear any time now.
As you can see, Dorothy is enjoying having a dog.
The group I work with had its annual holiday party today. It’s not exactly the sort of party portrayed in some movies or television shows, with dancing and revelry. It’s just a bunch of folks (about 150) getting together for a meal, a silent auction to raise a bit of money for a local charity, and a time of mostly quiet socializing. I was one of two photographers today with the other being the “official” photographer. That freed me up to take a few candids and not really stress.
Being a technical person, I’m technically not a member of this group but this is the group we largely support. I work with quite a few different teams within this group although there are a lot that I don’t know at all. I’ve worked with these three for quite some time and probably know them better than all but a few others here. They all hate to have their picture taken but they were kind enough to let me take a few.
It’s December and that means all sorts of Christmas parties (or, if work-related, holiday parties, but that’s a post for another time). The first Christmas party of the season was with our church family. It was hosted by our pastor and his wife (and their kids, I suppose) and it was a full house. I honestly don’t know how many of us were there but it was a good crowd. Of course, being a pot luck, there was way more food than we could eat, although I guess some folks didn’t get to try things that ran our early. For me, the highlight was little smokies wrapped in bacon and then sprinkled with brown sugar and baked. Man, were those good (thanks, Joanna and Juan). There was an excellent cake, as well, made by Brigitte with candied cranberries on top. While the cake was excellent, to me the cranberries were the best part.
Naturally I took pictures and this is one I really like, a couple of wonderful young folk named Lizzy and Josh. I enjoyed sitting with them a while and chatting and I’m glad this pictures turned out so well.
It’s a small and fledgling youth group, I admit, but this is at a small and fledgling church, so perhaps that’s appropriate. This is one of a bunch of pictures I took to promote our youth group. We cannot offer crowds and huge events. But we can offer something a little more individual. Our ministry goals are really the same as for Cross Community church: to share the gospel, love the city, and build community, all within the context of youth.
After the three day birthday, Thanksgiving, family reunion with Cathy’s family, we got together with my family today for our fourth day of celebration. I cannot express how thankful I am for both of my families and it’s nice to be given a day off (and to take two more) specifically to express our thankfulness. I’m thankful for more than family, of course, but that’s certainly high on the list.
Dorothy, sadly, left to drive back to school and wasn’t able to spend the day with us. It was good to see her and she’ll be back in just a few weeks for the Christmas break. As usual, I took pictures of everyone as we sat in the living room and visited, with the usual range of discussion topics customary with the my family (we tend towards the geeky end of things, I have to admit). In addition to some family pictures, I particularly like this one of Ralph and Iris. It just works.
It’s been way too long since we saw this young woman. Actually, the last time we saw her, she was a girl of only about 8. She’s grown up a lot since then and it was so good to have her visit for Thanksgiving, along with her dad and sister, both of whom we’ve seen a bit more recently. It was a really nice to get to know her a bit and I think we’ll put more effort into getting together again befor too long.
After a busy Thanksgiving yesterday we went to Great Falls today. While I took a few pictures of the river, it was more an occasion for photos of Hannah, Abba, and Darius. I really like this one of Hannah. She has an amazing smile, also, but it’s more common, when the camera is pointed at her, that she makes a silly face.
We also saw a great blue heron in the process of killing a black snake. It would stab the snake with its beak and picking it up. The snake would coil around the beak and the heron would drop it and the process would start over.
I picked up David and Darius this afternoon and the Thanksgiving (and birthday) festivities have begun. This was taken while David went to the airport to pick up Jim and Hannah. Dorothy and Abba were on their way from New England. William would come down tomorrow morning. So, it’s still relatively quiet. Cathy, as you can see, is making some animal sound (although it looks more like a “moo” than a roar, but I don’t know) while reading The Three Happy Lions to Darius.
In 2014 I posted a picture of Cathy with two Operation Christmas Child boxes, delivering them at the collection center. Then last year, the picture was of Cathy with six packed boxes, ready to take them out to the car. This year, we’re a little earlier in the process. In this picture, Cathy has laid out all the things she plans to get into six shoe-box sized plastic boxes. If you think it unlikely she’ll be able to get it all in, fear not, it was done (with a little expert advice from yours truly). They were delivered the next day (tomorrow when I took the picture, last week when I’m writing this). Has Cathy mentioned that she likes Operation Christmas Child? Well, she does.
I was taking pictures around the house this evening, looking around for interesting shapes and patterns. I took some of a patch on the shoulder of a jacket, some of etched metal and a couple of a photograph of Cathy’s mom taken back in the day. I also took a few of Cathy and this one I like best of them all. It’s not a huge smile but it’s a familiar look. I suppose I could have waited until her birthday, which is coming up, to post her picture. On the other hand, there’s never really a bad time to take and post her picture.
This photo was taken on Monday (which is why it’s dated on Monday) but I’m actually writing this on Friday. It’s been a busy week for her with a software conference from Monday through Thursday at the Gaylord National. Lots of good information but fairly tiring. She took her first rides in Uber the first three days and then drove herself yesterday (Thursday).
An interesting thing happened on the way to the river today. We had thought about parking near Old Angler’s Inn but the parking area was jammed, so we went to the main Great Falls entrance and parked there. We left the car and headed towards the visitor center and then the river when a woman called Cathy’s name. Actually, she just said “Cath!” It was a friend of Cathy’s from high school and her husband. That in itself would have been surprising and of course it was. It was also lovely to see them since it had been probably fifteen years since we’ve seen each other.
But what was more surprising was that they were in the company of an elf. I’m afraid I don’t remember her name but she was nice enough to allow me to take her picture. It isn’t everyday that I get to photograph an elf. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever done so before. She looks young but of course, as we all know, elves live a considerable time so she could easily be quite old, as we humans measure time.
I generally only post one picture a day or if I post more than one from a single event or location, I combine them into a single post. This event rates a bit more, so I’m posting this separately. The wedding of Juanna and Juan was an entirely outdoor event. If you’ve ever planned an outdoor wedding, you know how nervous it makes you as the day approaches and the weather is uncertain. Planning an outdoor wedding in November is really a risk. Nevertheless, the day was about as beautiful as you could ever expect to get in early November. It was warm (in the sun), perfectly clear, with no wind. The perfect setting for the marriage of this lovely couple. There may be cloudy days on occasion in the future but at least they started out on what was arguably the most beautiful day of the year.
I’ve had the privilege to know these two just about as long as they’ve known each other. It’s been so exciting watching them fall in love and today Cathy and I were fortunate enough to be allowed to witness their marriage and the beginning of their life together. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see them get to this point. The ceremony was nearly as beautiful as Joanna and I’m happy to say it didn’t go off without a hitch (i.e. they got hitched).
She certainly picked a good Juan and won’t have to tell stories about the Juan that got away. (I know, and I’d like to say that I’m sorry, but I’m not.)
I was (thankfully) not the official photographer but I was able to get a good seat on the aisle so was able to get a few pictures of them walking both in separately and then out as husband and wife. I’m sure the official photographer got a lot more and better pictures than I did, but I wanted to share this with Juanna, Juan, their families, and the rest of my followers (both of you).
One of Cathy’s soccer friends hosts an annual Dia de los Muertos party every year and this year was the third time we have gone. We were a bit tired from hosting a baby shower earlier in the day but so we didn’t stay late but we did go. We also didn’t expend a lot of energy on our costumes, simply wearing paper masks that we’ve had but rarely used. I’m pretty sure Cathy’s brother Jim gave these to us years ago. They are surprisingly effective, although the few people at the party who actually know us didn’t really have any trouble telling who we were. Cathy was Agatha and I was Bertram, which probably come from Wodehouse, consciously or not.
Will and Ethan have both been in pictures posted here, both separately and together. We were at their house this evening and I took a few of Ethan and then this one of the two brothers together, which I think is a good picture. I’m finding that on the days I don’t go out during the day at work, I’m having a harder time coming up with a post-worthy picture. Going to someone else’s house is helpful, of course, because there is always something new to photograph, even if it’s just their kids. Will asked me to send this to him, which I did, so if you’ve already seen this from him, you’ll now know where it came from.
We had originally planned an outing for folks from out church to the family property in Pennsylvania for August but a lot of folks couldn’t come that weekend so we moved it to today. The day we would have gone in August was sweltering and muggy. Today was cool but beautiful. The wind was a bit strong but we had a fire going the whole day and I think that those who went all had a good time. I know I did. Being outside all day, cooking over a fire, and of course being with friends (old and new) is a great way to spend a day. Cathy was the first to go out in the canoe, battling the wind. As you can see, the trees are starting to turn.
On Thursday I posted a picture of Grace, on of Dorothy’s two friends who came home with her for the mid-term break. I think it only fair that I also post a picture of Bobby, the other friend. He really liked Solomon and wanted to hold him but Solomon is a bit timid. Nevertheless, with a little coaxing, we were able to get them together.
Yesterday, as planned, the three kids went to Richmond for the day so it was a regular work day for me. Today, we drove out to Rocklands Farm (http://www.rocklandsfarmmd.com/) and had a really nice morning visiting with Janis and Greg. The kids also really enjoyed the animals. Funny, as I write that I picture these three kids as kindergartner at a petting zoo, but of course they are all about 20. Actually, they acted a little more like kindergartners than 20 year olds, but it was fun.
We got home and they packed their car, leaving to head back to school at about 3:45 and getting there at about 1:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. We enjoyed seeing them but it was too brief a visit.
It’s midterm time at Gordon and Dorothy drove down late Wednesday (yesterday) with two friends. They actually got here early this morning but pretty much went straight to bed. This evening, we had one of our Thursday Night Dinners, eating at our house rather than going out. We had a pretty good crowd and it’s easier with that many to avoid big restaurant tables. We god dinner from Bombay Bistro and enjoyed it in the living room. Iris brought her dog, Bean, and this is Grace, one of Dorothy’s two friends, holding him.
Cathy took the day off work and she went with Dorothy, Grace, and Bobby (the other friend) to Great Falls and spent a long while climbing on Rocky Islands, below the falls, and then ended up near the end of the Billy Goat Trail. Tomorrow the three young folk plan to drive down to Richmond for the day. Then we’ll spend Saturday morning with them and they’ll head back to Boston Saturday afternoon.
We had a lovely time visiting with friends and enjoying some nice music at Quench off of Shady Grove Road this evening. Our friend Bob has played there a few times but this is the first time we were able to come hear him. Before Bob sang, we heard from Scott and then a group called Know1Else (http://know1else.com/), both of whom we enjoyed, but we were there to hear Bob. He sang some familiar songs but also a bunch of his own, some of which I’ve heard and enjoyed before and a few that I hadn’t. The food and beer was good, the music was fun, and we were with friends. It doesn’t get a lot better than that.
Here’s one more picture from out trip to Pennsylvania. As I mentioned, Ralph, Tsai-Hong, Iris, and Seth came as well. I took this picture of Seth and Iris as we sat around the fire talking in the middle of the afternoon. I believe this is the first time they have been up since the wedding and it was good to see that the tree they planted seems to be doing very well.
When we first got there a largish tree was down across the road. That’s the source of the logs behind Seth and Iris, so we have a little fire wood. I’ll bring a sledge and wedge next time and split some. We took a walk to the orchard, which is quite overgrown. We managed to find a few almost ripe hardy kiwi and a few pawpaws and there were lots of autumn olive fruits (Elaeagnus). Clearing that out again will be a big job and probably calls for heavy duty equipment.
I know I already posted a picture in honor of Margaret’s 90th birthday but I think one more is in order. Today is her actual birthday, so Cathy and I picked her up and took her to dinner, along with long-time friend Ron. Before we left, I took a few pictures of Cathy and Margaret with the balloons and flowers she’s been given. You only turn 90 once and while that’s generally true of all birthdays, 90 seems like a big deal and worth celebrating.
We went to Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge and had a really nice dinner. I believe there is only one 90th birthday celebration yet to be held and that’s the family party, which was put off a little because of travel plans for all the participants. I suspect there will be another picture here when that time comes.
After church today we went to a surprise birthday party for Cathy’s mom. Her birthday isn’t until later this week, but weekends are generally better for these sorts of things. Turning 90 is a pretty big deal, and it was nice to have so many friends gathered together to honor her. Of course this was only a small gathering when you consider how many people she knows (and how many people know and lover her). This was put on by the missions team from Fourth Church and it was a lovely time. I took a bunch of pictures showing most of the people who were there but I think this is the best, of Carol, Margaret (a.k.a. the Birthday Girl), and Davin.
For a little over a year our family has been having what we call Thursday Night Dinner (TND). It was initially ever week for a while but life gets busy and now it’s now and then, when people are available. This evening there were seven of us, Tsai-Hong, Ralph, Dot, Seth, Steve, Cathy, and me (not in the picture, because I was behind the camera, as I prefer). We had talked about going to a Thai restaurant. There is an Ethiopian restaurant next door and we figured we’d go to both on different weeks. Iris suggested we do Ethiopian tonight because she’s not fond of it and she couldn’t come tonight. She wants to go the Thai restaurant, when the times comes.
We had samplers with all sorts of dishes, ranging from mild to somewhat spicy. None of it was terribly hot. The best flavour, I think, was in two beef dishes. The first of those is kitfo, which their menu describes as “Ethiopian style steak tartar, seasoned to a rich flavor with our special blend of spices, spiced butter and mit’mit’a.” They will sear it for you, but we decided to go for the original.
The second that I really liked was tibs fitfit. “Tender beef cubes sautéed with onion, tomatoes, awaze and jalapeño mixed with injera.”
Actually, all of it was good and I ate more than I should have. Even so there was a lot left over.
This isn’t the most flattering picture I’ve even taken of these two sisters, Abbie on the left and Grace on the right. Actually, the reason I was taking pictures of them was to get one considerably less flattering still (at their request!). I had intended to post that one but decided I would not, after all. So, feel free to laugh and to poke fun at them. If you know what the other pictures was then you probably know where it can be found. Feel free to enjoy it there. Abbie and Grace, if you want to post that one, it’s okay by me.
We drove up to Massachusetts today, taking about ten hours. Part of that was down to heavy traffic on 95 getting around Boston but the fact that we had two vehicles played a role, as well. We made it, though, in spite of getting separated coming off the George Washington Bridge. Dorothy moved into her dorm room and we met her new roommate, Kenna, pictured here with Dorothy. We went to a little taco place in Beverly called La Victoria Taqueria (http://www.victoriataqueria.com/). It was quite good and we enjoyed our food out doors. We’ve been having such hot weather that it was nice to be out on a pleasant evening. Here’s to Dorothy and Kenna.
We greeted the youngest family member in our church this afternoon. Amelia, just over two weeks old, joined her older brother and two older sisters with her parents at church today. Naturally we were all glad to see her and expect to get to know her better over the course of the next, well, however many years it takes to get to know her. She looks amazingly like her siblings, which isn’t too surprising. They’re a really good looking bunch and so much fun. Ellie says that Amelia is an easy baby so far. Lucky for her she doesn’t have kids that run her off her feet. Not all the time, anyway.
Today is our 32nd Anniversary and after dinner and a visit to my mom’s we went out to dinner. We decided to go to Matchbox in Congressional Plaza on the Pike and we had a nice dinner. 32 years ago we had dinner at the Red Lobster on Shady Grove Road and we’ve returned there for anniversary dinners on occasion but thought we’d do something different this year. We had a nice meal, sharing a bowl of shrimp and grits (with cheddar and andouille butter sauce, which was excellent) and then each had a small pizza. We decided to take a few pictures of ourselves and this was done with the camera sitting on the table, which accounts for the slightly odd angle. It isn’t a great picture but if you know us, you already know what we look like and can more on to something else now. Regardless of how the picture turned out, I’m happy to say we’re as happily married as ever and looking forward to as many more years together as we are allowed.
The pictures from out yard which I post here are often close up shots of flowers of things found in the yard. Today I thought I’d give a wider view. I know I’ve done this before and our yard isn’t anything special but that’s what I thought I’d do. Cathy was cutting the grass in the back today so I included her in the picture. It’s been quite warm recently and fairly humid, or to put it another way, typical summer weather here in Maryland, hot and steamy, but we haven’t had anything approaching the drought conditions we get some years. That means the grass has kept growing through the summer, which looks nice but it means it needs to be cut. Anyway, the black-eyed Susans are nice.
We have known this handsome, young man since he arrived on these shores in March, the newest, if not the youngest, member of Ben and Erin’s family. Formerly of the Philippines, he’s now an All American Boy (like Jack Armstrong, if you hold the All properly). We were fortunate enough to be present at a small birthday party for him today. It was a fairly casual thing but fun, nonetheless.
We were at his house (or his parents’ home, you might say) for our bi-weekly prayer meeting and Bible study. After that was done, though, we took some time to recognize and celebrate Ethan’s milestone. Erin had asked if he wanted anything special for dinner. Apparently his first thought was that everyone would have a piece of salami and a hard boiled egg on their plate (if I’m remembering correctly, I’m writing this 11 days after the fact). After she insisted that they should probably have something a little more substantial, he decided on salmon.
For dessert, when the rest of us would be here to celebrate, he had forgone the traditional cake and asked for apple pie and ice cream (didn’t I tell you he’s an all American boy?). He helped his mom by passing out plates of pie and ice cream before having his own. Because he was acting as a waiter, he decided to put a dish towel over his arm and do it right.
Happy Birthday, Ethan. We love you.
Back in November (specifically Wednesday, November 18, 2015) I posted a picture under the title “Ara and the Band, Open Mic Night, Villain and Saint.” She was on stage again this evening, playing the songs from her new EP. If you are unfamiliar with the EP, it stands for Extended Play and designates (these days) a CD or download that is longer than a single and shorter than an LP (long playing record or CD). Generally they have up to 4 songs and are less than 25 minutes or so, although I don’t suppose there are any strict rules for this sort of thing. Anyway, she was releasing her EP (which you can get here: https://aracasey.bandcamp.com/) and we thought it would be nice to both support her and have an evening out.
As it turned out, our evening out turned out to be just me. Cathy got called away to something she couldn’t turn down (I know, I’m being vague and evasive but this is a public blog and I don’t feel like telling everyone everything that’s going on. Get over it.) so I went alone. Cathy would have liked to have come, as Ara is more her friend than mine. They play soccer together. We’ve also gone to her Día de Muertos party (see: Crazy Cat Lady and Eve) a couple times. That, and listening to her play, both times at Villain and Saint in Bethesda.
I took a bunch of pictures but this is my favorite. It just seems right, somehow. It was as good time.
We went to the now-annual family reunion on the way to the beach today and it was great to see family. We don’t have the biggest family to arrange reunions. We all know someone who belongs to a family where hundreds gather for a weekend or week-long celebration. But I wouldn’t trade my family for any other. These are the descendants of Fernando and Anna, who had five children who lived into adulthood and had families of their own. None of those siblings are still living and of their eleven children, we are down to five, with George leaving us in January. At these reunions, we generally take pictures (I know that will shock you) and if we get nothing else, a picture of the remaining first cousins is a must. Here they are in order from oldest to youngest (left to right), Dot, Mary Ellen, Ann, LaClaire, and Glenn. Of course there were also pictures of the second, third, and even fourth cousins. I’m a “second.”
As I mentioned in my last post, we went on what we decided to call (half jokingly) a ‘Family History Safari’ in northeastern Pennsylvania. Yesterday we drove up to Stroudsburg and visited the Delaware Water Gap. We enjoyed a quiet drive up the Old Mine Road through Worthington State Forest, on the New Jersey side of the river. Anyone who tells you New Jersey doesn’t have anything worth visiting has never been here. It was lovely, quiet, and peaceful. This morning we started with a visit to the courthouse to see if we could find any records about Cathy’s ancestors. We were sent to the archives but the archivist was out. After waiting a little while, we went to the local Historical Society office in the Stroud Mansion. Guess where the archivist happened to be? Yes, that’s right.
Cathy spent a while looking through old newspapers and I found some information on Pennsylvania’s 67th Regiment, in which her great, great, grandfather served. From there we drove to the little village of Gilbert, which you can literally miss by blinking (we did!). There we walked around the local cemetery and saw the church in which her great grandfather was baptized. We drove north from there to the old Merwinsburgh Hotel, where her great, great, uncle lived and worked for a time. Nothing earth shattering in terms of discoveries but a nice day.
We finished the day by spending about an hour and a half at the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, which was nice. While we were there I got a phone call from Dorothy saying she was fine. She wanted to let us know, so that when we saw the news we wouldn’t worry so much. We hadn’t been listening to the news so we didn’t know what was up, but shortly after that we started getting messages from friends asking if she was alright. She was.
After a day off and a beautiful wedding yesterday, we spent much of today going through things in Cathy’s mom’s shed. I took two more trips to the dump and we got through a lot of things. It isn’t exactly my idea of ‘vacation’ but a day off from work isn’t always about travel and seeing the sights. It needed to be done and it was good to do it. It was also good to be with David and Maggie, who leave tomorrow on the long drive home.
One thing that we had to do was go through a big, lidded basket filled with stuffed animals and dolls that belonged to Cathy. Unfortunately, the mice had already gone through the basket and most of the creatures inside were a little (in a few cases a lot) worse for the wear. There were one or two that even the mice wouldn’t touch, but for the most part, everything went to the dump. But I took pictures of Cathy with many of them as a remembrance. In the case of this picture, it’s a mouse that was totally disrespected by the other mice.
As I write this, it’s been a week since this picture was taken, but as always, I’m posting this with the date the photo was taken, not when it is finally put on-line. We had an absolutely wonderful time at the wedding of Laurie and Edy this evening. The ceremony and reception were both held at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. We had never been there before but it reminds us quite a bit of Brookside Gardens, in Wheaton, Maryland, where we go often enough. In fact, seven years ago I met Laurie and her mom at Brookside Gardens to take some portraits for her graduation announcement. I know it’s cliche to say so, but it seems like only yesterday.
The wedding itself was lovely, under a mostly sunny, blue sky. Then, while the wedding party was involved in taking a few pictures, we were able to roam about the gardens a little while. This was taken as the bride and groom walked down towards a pond for a few more pictures.
It was also good to get caught up with Laurie’s sisters and her brother, who is heading off to college in the fall. Jack and Sue will be empty nesters for after raising five wonderful kids. Karlee and Nate will still be home from time to time, of course, and the others will visit, but this year will be an adjustment for them, as well.
Anyway, it was a lovely way to celebrate with a lovely couple and their families. We were honored to be invited and included in the festivities.
As I mentioned yesterday, two of Cathy’s nieces are here for a few days. This evening, Laura, Maggie, David, Margaret, Cathy, and I went out to dinner at Yekta in Rockville. If you’re looking for good, Persian kebabs, you can do a lot worse. We had a wonderful dinner and of course, there was plenty of laughter, as there always is when these two girls are together. After dinner we went to York Castle for ice cream and this picture was taken at one of the small tables out front. I’d say that Laura and Maggie were in rare form but that would be a lie. For them, it isn’t even remotely rare. I won’t say that they are my favorite two nieces but they are certainly in the top five.
Cathy and Margie have known each other since Cathy’s family moved here in the late 1960s and were close friends through high school. Of course people move and it’s harder to be close friends with people who live far away but they have managed to keep in touch pretty well through the years. We moved far away from here but close to Margie and her family in the mid 1980s, so that helped. We’re back here again so usually only see her when she’s visiting family, although when Dorothy went to Alaska for spring break earlier this year they ran into each other in the airport. Small world. Or small airport, anyway.
We went to the benefit dinner for Erick’s Hope this evening and enjoyed seeing a few friends, including Diane and Amy, pictured here with Cathy. In their own words, “Erick’s Hope exists to serve children in need of love and security by providing spiritual, emotional, physical and educational support through a variety of programs and services.” For more info, see https://erickshope.wordpress.com/. There was a huge selection of items in the dessert auction (we got a peach pie!) as well as the more traditional silent auction items. And the roast beast was delicious. Sadly we had to leave early so didn’t get to visit with other friends who came later.
The Rockville Chamber of Commerce put on it’s first annual Community Fun Day today. I’m always impressed by the optimism in anything billed as being the first annual whatever. You could say that anything you do once was the first annual, but it implies you’ll do it again in a year. Even if you don’t, the first one was still the first (and last) annual event. In this case, I think there will be another next year, but time, as they say, will tell.
Our pastor had volunteered us to provide man (and woman) power to help with the event and I spent a bit of time in front of a grill. It’s a place I’m comfortable and reasonably capable, so that was fine. I also took what opportunity I was given to take a few pictures. The delay in getting the meat to the site helped give me more time.
There was a fire truck, ambulance, and police car there as attractions, along with a moon bounce and fairly large, inflatable slide. The fire truck attracted a fairly high percentage of the crowd, as they usually do. This youngster, however, stood out from the usual onlookers. He came in a pretty good rendition of a fireman’s outfit and was good enough to pose for a few pictures with what may very well be his future ride.
Nooree and Jane moved out today, heading back to Philadelphia and the next stage of their epic journey. We are so blessed to have had the chance to get to know them and look forward to hearing about the next stage of their lives. We’re also going to miss them and their darling, wonderful, exuberant, and beautiful children. Cathy and I have been involved in countless moves through the years and now that we’re the other side of 50 we have less trouble saying that we’ll play with the kids or I’ll take pictures for posterity. We actually didn’t even show up until the truck was about 99% loaded. Nooree asked if I’d take a group picture for them and here it is. Note: I’m in this picture. That part was taken by Cathy. The rest is mine.
Once again I’m late posting this (posting on Saturday, June 11) but the photo was taken on Monday, June 6. Cathy and I took the day off work today and the day was basically dedicated to getting Dorothy to the airport and on her way. We left home at about 11:30 and had no trouble getting to the airport. The airport in general was not crowded and the line at the Aeroflot counter in particular was not long so we didn’t have to wait more than about 15 minutes to check her one bag. We had plenty of time before her flight and as usual, I looked around for interesting views of Dulles.
The signs for the security entrance to the gates said there was only a ten minute wait so we sat and chatted a little while before Dorothy headed off for the first leg of her four leg journey to Turkey. Her first flight was by far the longest, going over the north Atlantic (and directly over Iceland) to Moscow. That’s a new country for Dorothy and she was happy to be able to add it to her list. After sitting with her a little while, we saw her off to the secured area of the airport and were home for a while before she boarded an Airbus 330-300 and her adventure began.
Oh, and FYI, I only took two-thirds of the second of these pictures. Cathy took the picture of me that has been edited into the one I took of Cathy and Dorothy.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any pictures during the ceremony. There were plenty of others to do that, including the professional photographer. Video was also shot, so it should be covered well enough. But in spite of having basically the best seat in the house (I was standing, actually), I didn’t have the liberty to stop and take pictures. In any case, I did get a few before and after the wedding, when my official duties were complete. Most of the guests had left for the reception and a few of us were still at the farm loading things into our vans and cars. The photographer was still working with Iris and Seth on a few pictures and I took a moment to join in, taking a couple of them walking together. It was a beautiful, if somewhat hot, afternoon but the rain held off and Iris and Seth got married.
Iris and Seth’s wedding weekend has finally arrived (well, if you count taking Friday off work as part of the weekend, anyway). We drove up to Pennsylvania this morning to get some of the final things done before tomorrow’s wedding. First, Cathy and I made sure the portable toilets were delivered and in the right locations. Then we went to the Round Barn to drop some things off and for me to set up the photo booth. Cathy and Tsai-Hong left to go to the farm and while they were there (and I was still working on the photo booth) it rained. I mean, it really rained. By the time I got to the farm, the rain had stopped but the ground was really wet. The few cars that came up to the cabin tore up the ground a bit and we stopped others from driving that far so it wouldn’t get any worse.
But about this tree. Iris and Seth wanted to plant a tree as part of their wedding but didn’t want to interrupt the ceremony long enough to do the whole thing, so they did most of the work today, a day ahead. Iris’s brother, Steve, dug the hole for them and the two of us carried the tree down from mom’s van. Then Seth and Iris did the actual planting. Tomorrow, during the service, they will put a few final shovels of dirt on it. Later we’ll put a fence around it to keep animals off and I’ll stake it to keep it upright until it has enough roots growing into the undisturbed soil around it.
The tree the picked is a black gum, also known as a tupelo. It is a variety called ‘Red Rage’ and is a lovely tree with shiny green leaves and spectacular fall color and with berries that attract birds. It was also picked as a tree likely to do well in both wet and drought conditions (i.e., “…for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…”).
We were fortunate enough to be able to share the excitement today with two families whose youngest sons were graduating from Trinity Christian School in Fairfax. This is Amy, James (the graduate) and Jon (the older brother). We’ve known them since Dorothy entered kindergarten and was a classmate of Jon’s through third grade (when we switched schools). We also enjoyed seeing Nate and his family. We see the youngest of his sisters (Karlee) more than the rest but it was great to see Laurie, Stacy, and Amy. Hard to believe it’s been nearly ten years since Amy got married! Anyway, a fun time. Congratulations, James! And Nate!
Few people take the time to comment on the pictures on my blog. Followers who see the pictures on Facebook do a little more frequently but even there it’s probably on fewer than half of my pictures. That’s fine, of course, I don’t want people to comment for the sake of commenting (although I do like knowing that people are actually seeing them).
The reason I bring this up is that I had my first non-spam comment in over 7 months after posting the picture of Cathy two days ago. Even that wouldn’t have rated a mention here except the comment came from Julia’s mom. And here I am, two days later, posting a picture of Julia (or, as I call her, Jules, because she’s a gem). She had finished just finished her junior year in college and was home for the summer. At least she was out of school for the summer. She was only home for a few days before heading off to some flatland in flyover country for an internship. I only make it sound like a wasteland because it meant that Jules couldn’t work for us this summer. We were hoping to get quite a bit of her time to work in both our house and Cathy’s mom’s. But, that’s the way it goes.
Maureen and Bob (Julia’s parents) asked us over for dinner this evening, sharing one of their few evenings before Julia left with us. It was an honor to be invited and we had such a good time with them all. Thanks, guys. We sure love you.
I nearly called it quits tonight. Since the beginning of 2011 (actually starting three days before that, on December 29, 2010, I’ve taken at least one photograph every day. The first year’s worth were posted to Facebook and then starting in 2012 they’ve been posted here. I still linked to them from Facebook and more recently posted them to Instagram, as well.
There have been a few times when I wasn’t sure I’d keep going. For the few of you who actually read this, rather than just enjoy the pictures on Instagram or Facebook, I really appreciate it. You are the main reason I’ve kept going. The next level are those who mention to me that they enjoy the pictures on Facebook. I know a lot more people see them than comment or even click on the “Like” button (because I hear from you in other ways) and that’s quite encouraging, as well.
This evening it was a few minutes before 11:00 p.m. and I hadn’t taken a picture. Cathy had just gotten home form her indoor soccer game and when I told her I was thinking about just not taking a picture today she said, “come on, get off the couch and take a picture of me.” So, I did. And here we are, continuing the streak at 1,967 days.
Generally Cathy likes to buy plants and put together hanging baskets for herself. That gives her the chance to be creative, to use the plants and colors that she particularly likes, and also saves money by starting with smaller plants that will quickly fill the baskets in any case. This year, however, there was an item in the school’s annual silent auction for four hanging baskets from a mostly wholesale nursery. Cathy bid on them and ended up with the high bid. Today she went and picked out the four she wanted. Three of them are going on hooks in the back yard and the fourth (the pink one in the middle of this photo) will go to her mom’s house.
Iris and Seth are getting married in a few short weeks. They chose to get married at ‘the farm’ in Pennsylvania and one thing Iris wanted was an arch or gateway like one she saw on Pinterest. If you search for ‘wedding arch’ there you will see hundreds (thousands?) of different arches made of a very wide variety of materials and decorated in an even wider array of materials. This is the one Iris liked and wanted us to reproduce. The wood was bought last year from a local saw mill and has been outside weathering since then. Today, we erected the gateway. It is not decorated yet, of course, but the heavy lifting (and I mean that literally) is done. From left to right in the picture are yours truly, Dot, Tsai-Hong, Ralph, Seth, Iris (with Bean), and Steve (with D’Argo).
Night two of the three show run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (or, as we call it, Judah in Tights) at Washington Christian Academy was a success and I was there again, enjoying the show and taking a few pictures, as is my wont. In addition to taking pictures during the show, I took some before, as well, while the actors and actresses were getting into costume and makeup. When they are ready, they hang about, talking and laughing, occasionally singing, and generally having a good time.
Judah, who plays Oberon, the King of the Fairies, was up on the boxes that make up most of the stage set. During the performance he’s up there a fair amount and at one point jumps off, his cape filling with air as he descends. During the show I’m not using flash, of course, so the 1/80 or 1/100 second exposure isn’t fast enough to stop the action and although I got the picture, it’s fairly blurred. So, before the show this evening I asked him to do it for me and was ready with my flash. This is the result. It still isn’t as sharp as I’d like, but motion is like that.
Cathy and I spent the afternoon and evening with Ben and Erin’s younger kids today and had a really nice time. We’ve gotten to know them reasonably well overt the last year and a bit, except Ethan, of course, because he only officially joined the family recently. We really enjoyed being with them and getting to know Ethan a bit better, in particular. Abbie came home for a little while before leaving again for a babysitting gig and although she’s not a fan of having her picture taken, she did let me take a few of her and her youngest brother. I think this one turned out pretty well.
The Washington Christian Academy high school theater production this year is to be A Midsummer Night’s Dream (by Bill Shakespeare). I spent a few hours today taking portraits of all the students involved (with the exception of one who was out sick). They didn’t have their costumes yet, but some had makeup put on for the first time today. As you can see, Judah is one such actor. He plays the part of Oberon, feuding with Titania over the fate of a changeling boy.
Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
I do but beg a little changeling boy,
To be my henchman.
As you probably know, he concocts a potion made from the flower ‘Love-in-idleness’ (the wild pansy, Viola tricolor) to make her fall in love with the first creature she sees upon waking. As is usual in such a play, particularly when the Bard of Avon is involved, things get complicated. If you want to know how it all ends, you’ll have to come next week. Show times are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at noon. Contact WCA for information on tickets.
We were fortunate enough to be able to help Kadie and Stephen celebrate their nuptials this afternoon and evening. Their wedding was beautiful, fun, and somewhat funny and we wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. Planning an outdoor wedding for the first week of April is a risk but aside from being a little cool it was a gloriously beautiful day. This is the happy couple leaving the reception, being saluted by their friends and family with light sabers and glow wands.
It was an exciting day today for some very good friends of ours. Ben and Erin and their family have been working to adopt Ethan for about two years and all that work and effort finally payed off. Ben and Lilly (daughter number three) left last Saturday and returned late this morning. Cathy and I were privileged to be allowed to come so I could take pictures. If you are connected to the family on facebook you have probably already seen some of them, posted by Erin and Abbie, but I wanted to put this up here. It’s by far my favorite of the pictures I got. We are all so excited to get to know Ethan and to welcome him into our community.
We had a bit of an unusual church service this week. Our pastor was out of town. He knew he would be leaving sometime but didn’t know when, for sure. This is all due to an adoption process that is very time consuming (not to mention costly) and fraught with all sorts of hurdles and hoops over and through which the adoptive parents must leap.
Instead of a regular sermon, we heard from six people from the church, four individuals and one couple. One of them was Alshadye, the young woman in this photograph. As we were preparing before the service, we were looking for pictures of the various speakers to put up on the screens. I had at least one of each of the others (and we also found some on Facebook) but I didn’t have any that were any good of Alshadye.
So, after the service I got out my camera (as I often do) and took some pictures, including this one of her with her son, Adera.
Not having a picture was pretty irrelevant, of course. What she shared with us was much more important and I’m so thankful to have her worshiping with us and involved in our community.
It was a pretty eventful day, but more about that in a minute. We want to Ben and Erin’s house for our bi-weekly prayer meeting and Bible study. It was a good time, both for the actual prayer and Bible study and simple as a time with friends. As usual, I brought my camera. I don’t always get it out, but I typically have it with me anywhere I go. This is Will and Ben (or more precisely Ben and Ben, but the younger Ben goes by his middle name, which is William.
Will took a bunch of pictures with my camera, as well, and I thought I’d share one of them with you. So, this is a self portrait that he took, not really realizing that the flash would totally overwhelm the rest of the picture. But I kind of like it. It’s a somewhat surreal self portrait and suited to his personality. He also took a really good picture of me making a weird face at the camera. I won’t be sharing that one.
I didn’t get out much today. I went to work and was in my office pretty much straight through. Rather than come home and find something to photograph today, however, Cathy call to say that her mom had asked us to come for dinner. She had some folks staying with her, Tim and Karen, who are in the middle of this photograph. She also had five others over, plus us, making 10. We had a very nice time chatting, visiting with folks we already know and meeting a few that we don’t.
There are many things I love about Washington Christian Academy. Among my favorite things they do it History Night. Every year the elementary school puts on a show. Each class represents a culture and period in history in story and song. We haven’t been every year but this has been a part of our lives for many years and it always brings me back to Dorothy’s elementary school days. This is Collyn, first grade teacher and sometime Egyptian queen, in her classroom, which has been transformed into the inside of a pyramid, decorated with the life sized self-portraits of her students. We still have Dorothy’s from first grade.
When I got up this morning there was just about 20 inches of snow on the ground, give or take an inch depending on where I measured. The wind was blowing it around a fair amount and while there weren’t many drifts in the yard, there were around any large object (car, house, tree, that sort of thing). I shoveled about half way down the drive but of course much of that work will need to be repeated tomorrow, once it stops snowing.
In the early afternoon we went for a short walk out to Norbeck Road. Our street hasn’t been plowed although something had driving down it and there were two large tire tracks we could walk in. The main road through the neighborhood had been plowed once but still had quite a bit of snow on it. We managed to get out to Norbeck, which was quite passable, if you could get to it (which I don’t think we could, even in our four-wheel-drive vehicle.
But it was nice to get out. Of course, after an hour or so in the snow, particularly on the way back when the wind was in our faces, it was even nicer to get indoors again. We did stop to enjoy watching our neighbor kids sledding on a hill their dad had made with a picnic table and piled snow. It wasn’t Vail or Stowe but for little kids, it was just about perfect.
Since last summer we have been trying to have a somewhat regular family dinner. Those who can get together on a Thursday evening at a local restaurant. We can’t all come every week but when we can, we do. It’s been a very good thing and I only wish we had started it years earlier. Over the Christmas and New Year season our weeks get quite busy with other things so it’s been a while since we were all together. Tonight we had a nice meal at El Mariachi. The meal was secondary, though, it’s always the people. So thankful for this funny old family of ours. It isn’t a great picture but at least you can see everyone.
Here’s one more picture from Tuesday, January 12. After a short break while I walked around the campus and then went and checked into my hotel, I went back to the school and picked up Dorothy and two of her friends, Bobby (center), and John (right). We went to Nick’s Famous Roast Beef for dinner. We weren’t sure they would be open, because in December the owners were indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States (i.e., they are accused of hiding receipts from the IRS to avoid taxes). We were happy to find that they were open for business and we enjoyed a nice meal. When we left, it had begun raining and by the time I was back at my hotel, it was snowing a fairly wet snow. I wasn’t sure what that might mean for the drive home tomorrow.
It’s been a fairly busy time and with the weather turning cold, we haven’t been out and about as much. Because of that I’ve had a harder time getting out to take pictures. This evening I asked Dorothy and Cathy if I could take their pictures and they both let me.
I’m going with one of Cathy that I think is pretty good. She’s not dressed up, wearing a soccer jersey, but I don’t think that matters at all.
We have some really good friends. In fact, we often wonder how we have so many friends, because we’re somewhat antisocial at times and we have a hard time getting to know people. But somehow, it happens. Way back when Dorothy was in first grade, there were two first grade classes at the school. Dorothy had Erin as a teacher. The other class was taught by Krystal. Although we didn’t get to know Krystal well that year, in the few years that followed we did. We also got to know Krystal’s husband, Mike, pictured here.
Since getting to know them, they have become two of our very favorite people in the universe (and possibly beyond). We take every opportunity we can to see them, which isn’t nearly enough (life happens). We went with them to a newish Peruvian restaurant in Olney this evening and I took this picture of Mike, which I think is really good.
Julia came over this evening and she and Dorothy cooked with me. We made some yogurt that is taking longer than expected to “yog” but we also made some pretty wicked mac and cheese. After an enjoyable dinner, the girls (including Cathy) helped me narrow a collection of pictures to something manageable for a slide show for church on Sunday. We paused part way through and I took a few pictures (which I know will surprise you).
It’s been a pretty busy holiday season for us and we’ve had people over for dinner more than in any similar period in a long time (not necessarily more people in total, but more separate events). This evening we had Kendra and Jacob over for dinner and then we just hung out talking. They are heading back to college tomorrow and it was very nice to get an entire evening with them. I took some pictures through the evening but then at one point asked them all to sit together for a more posed picture, and this is the result.
We had Jean, Maria, and Lexi over for dinner this evening and I roasted a goose. That’s something I’ve never done before and I was a little worried it wouldn’t turn out well, but it did. I may have overcooked it slightly so the meat was a little tougher than it should have been but the flavor was great. It released a serious quantity of fat, in which I cooked some potatoes and beets. The potatoes were creamy and rich and the beets (if you like that sort of thing) sweet and luscious. Better than the meal, however, was the company. What a nice evening we had. There was much merriment and laughter.
Speaking of New Year’s traditions…
Way back in 2004, these folks invited us over for what Amy described as a low-key, casual New Year’s Day party. We had known them for a few years, when Dorothy and Jon went to Kindergarten together and by this time they were in second grade, James was in Kindergarten and we were carpooling to school together. We had a great time and were very happy when Amy made the same offer the following year. She made that same offer every year through 2011. We had two years off after that but for the last three New Year’s Days, we have had them over to our house. The other guests change as we like to mix it up a little, but Amy, the boys (and fondue) are the constants. What a nice time we had together.
For as long as I can remember my mom has had a New Year’s Eve party (on New Year’s Eve). I don’t actually know when she started doing that but it’s been a while, anyway. We generally go but it’s been a while since we actually stayed until midnight. For the last few years we’ve gone (or at least Dorothy and I have gone) from there to a party with folks from our church. This year we left early again, but Dorothy went one way and Cathy and I went another, spending the last hour and a half of 2015 with some friends. Anyway, here is mom (Dot) and Tsai-Hong but the picture also shows the spread, which is always pretty fabulous (and there’s more to be put out, as well).
NOTE: With this photo, I finish five years of taking at least one photograph every day and posting it to the web. Four years are here on the blog (I really need to add that first year to this). Thank you for joining me in this photographic journey. I can’t say if I’ll keep it up through the next year, but you never know.
Dorothy and Karlee met in fourth grade and had only that one year together at the same school. Half way through that year, though, I took the two girls downtown and we went ice skating at the National Gallery of Art Ice Rink and then went to the gallery itself. I took the picture to the right, which is Four Dancers, by Edgar Degas, and modified it a little, replacing two of Degas’ dancers with two of my favorites. That was December 27, 2005. It seems like yesterday.
The girls have grown up in the ten years since then and despite being at different schools starting the next year and being in different states a few years later, we have managed to keep in touch and (I’m happy to say) Dorothy and Karlee remain very good friends. This is in part through two annual trips that have become quite a tradition. Starting that next summer, Karlee came with us to the beach. She’s been with us at the beach every year we’ve gone (we didn’t go in 2007 or 2009) until this year, when she couldn’t make it. Dorothy didn’t come this year, either, so it might have been a bit awkward. We were only there two nights, in any case, coming home early.
The other trip was our annual trip downtown. We didn’t make it every year and Karlee wasn’t with us every year we did go (and once we went to Baltimore, instead of D.C.). Actually, after that first trip in 2005, Karlee didn’t go downtown with us again until 2012. However, she has gone with us every year since then and I was so happy when we asked her if she was up for it this year and she seemed excited to go. In general we drive down and park in what seems an outrageously expensive parking garage. Then we walk. Sometimes we walk a lot.
In 2012 we went to the Natural History Museum, the American History Museum, and finally Union Station. You can see some pictures from that in the post titled Union Station, Friday, December 28, 2012.
In 2013 we walked to the Freer Gallery and were particularly impressed with the Peacock Room. Also, they had the Washington Gospels on exhibit. Also known as Codex Washingtonianus, it is the third-oldest Greek parchment manuscript of the Gospels in the world (late 4th–early 5th century). From there we went to the Pension Building (a.k.a. the National Building Museum) and the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery (which share a building just south of the Verizon Center). There are two picture from that trip in the post titled Freer Gallery and Pension Building, Monday, December 30, 2013.
Finally, last year, we went to the National Archives and saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, as well as a 1297 copy of Magna Carta, which was about to begin celebrating its 800th anniversary. We also went to the National Gallery of Art and then walked around the U.S. Capitol building to the Library of Congress where, in addition to the magnificent Main Reading Room, we saw another copy of Magna Carta, this time one of the four originals from 1215. Two pictures from that trip are in two separate posts, titled Dorothy and Karlee At The Capitol, Wednesday, December 31, 2014 and Main Reading Room, Library of Congress, Wednesday, December 31, 2014.
This year, we went downtown without any real plan as to what we would see. As I took a wrong turn and went under the mall, ending up near the Maine Street Fish Market, we toyed with the idea of driving to Richmond instead, but we were already in D.C. so we stayed. We parked in a garage in the Evening Sun building ($21) and walked to the White House, where the first of this year’s pictures was taken. Actually, we started on the south front and then walked around the Pennsylvania Avenue, where this pictures was taken.
We backtracked a little on Pennsylvania Avenue to the Renwick Gallery (at 17th and Pennsylvania) where we saw a number of interesting exhibits, some of which are shown in my pictures here. First was Shindig by Patrick Dougherty, who weaves “enormous pods that offer discovery and sanctuary to visitors“ with “willow osiers and saplings.” It was a difficult exhibit to photograph for a number of reasons, including the low light levels, the crowds of people, and of course the shear size of the exhibit. The two pictures here give you some idea. In the second one, you can see that I had to time my photograph between people walking past (and almost made it!).
Following that, in the next room, was a piece called Plexus A1 by Gabriel Dawe. It was a rainbow of color made with thread and light and was quite beautiful. Perhaps not as stunning as a real rainbow but less fleeting and still quite lovely.
After that there was an exhibit made of index cards stacked into giant pillars like the rock formations found in Bryce National Park (only without the color). I didn’t include a photo of that, but I found it quite compelling (if a little odd). I particularly liked the monochrome aspect of it combined with splashes of color from the people walking in an around the piers. After that we went upstairs to a large room housing 1.8 by Janet Echelman. It was a large net suspended from the ceiling and colored by lights that cycled slowly through a variety of colors. I particularly enjoyed watching people watching the colors change, especially those lying on the floor with their camera phones aimed up at the netting.
From there was Middle Fork (Cascades) by John Grade, a large “tree” lying on its side and suspended from the ceiling by wires. It was hollow and interesting and kind of odd but I liked it well enough. Getting into that room took a little bit of waiting but it was worth it for the room that came after. Well, there was a map of the eastern seaboard with the water represented by pale blue-green marbles, fastened to the floor and walls. That was alright, I guess, but it didn’t really excite me.
There was also a sort of maze-like thing made from black leather strips. Eh.
But I really enjoyed In the Midnight Garden by Jennifer Angus. It was a room with bright pink walls covered with designs made from a wide variety of insects. I really liked that room. The color, the patterns on the wall, the fact that they were bugs and sometime huge bugs, was really nice. Worth the price of admission by itself (of course the exhibit was free!).
From the Renwick we walked to the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery and then to the National Gallery of Art. The final picture for today was taken in the Portrait Gallery and is of a very stern Alexander Graham Bell with Dorothy and Karlee trying to imitate his “dad face.”
All in all, we had a great time. We were tired but satisfied with our outing and look forward to doing it again next year (God willing).
One more photo of Darius, because you really can’t have too many pictures of this little fellow. He and his dad leave for home tomorrow (and by the time I am writing this, on Thursday, they are home). We were out doing a little after-Christmas shopping this afternoon and then went to see them in the early evening. We were sad to say goodbye but all good things must come to an end. Hopefully we will see them again before too long. Thanks, Darius, for helping to make our Christmas bright.
Christmas is over. Today is after-Christmas, more popularly known as Boxing Day. We did things around the house today and I went to the hardware store for a few pieces of lumber for two different projects I’m working on.
In the evening we went back to Cathy’s mom’s for dinner and after dinner we took a couple group photos for posterity. Here we are. What more can I say?
I warned you that there might be a few pictures of this little boy. After opening our own stockings at home, Cathy, Dorothy, and I went over to Cathy’s mom’s house and enjoyed the rest of the morning and the early afternoon with her, with David, and with Darius. In particular we participated in Darius’ joy in opening his presents. If you know him, then you will see the joy in his eyes in this picture.
He was vary patient, waiting until after breakfast to open presents. Then he helped his dad pass presents around, stopping now and again to open one to himself, of course.
If you don’t like pictures of cute children, then perhaps you might want to take a break from following my posts for a few days. Darius is in town and that means pictures. I’m afraid that there will be the occasional picture of him through next Monday, when he and David head home. We really enjoy seeing them both and are so glad that, even if he sometimes gets us all confused with each other, he has some inkling of who we are. Like many kids this age, he tries not to let good photographs be taken of him. This one turned out pretty well, though.
Because our church meets in the afternoon, our Sunday schedule is a bit unusual, compared to what it has been in the past. We got home this evening at about 6:40 and we could hear the music from “Santa’s Sleigh” as he made his annual pre-Christmas Eve rounds of our neighborhood. We didn’t have long to wait. Within a minute or two he was coming up our street, music blaring and Santa Ho-Ho-Hoing as he came. His helpers (Elves, I suppose) threw a few fibre optic “Santa Lights” our way and Cathy let me take a few of her, twirling them around in our front hall.
We had our friend Kimia over this evening and she invited some people she knows (a few of whom we know, as well) to hear about her plans to go to South American. She was a missionary kid in Africa and she always expected that when the time came, that’s where she’d go. As it turned out (and is continuing to turn out), she’s going to Colombia, instead. It was nice to have a chance to catch up with her again and to meet some of her friends. While she was here ahead of the others, we got caught up on all our lives. She also was brave enough to hold Solomon and pose for a few pictures. He’s a Mexican bird, rather than Colombian, but at least he isn’t an African grey.
This is the fourth year in a row that I’ve posted a picture from my company holiday party. The previous posts were on December 07, 2012 , December 19, 2013 , and December 12, 2014. This year, I took fewer pictures because I was a little distracted. On the way to the party, the brakes in my van stopped working. I was approaching a traffic light and it turned red. I put on the brakes and nothing happened. The car barely slowed down. I tried pumping them and the pedal went to the floor. Fortunately no one had started through the intersection and I went through without incident but I had to use the parking brake to slow down the rest of the way to the party. I had the van towed from there and got a ride back from the party. Anyway, enough about that. The party itself was nice and it’s always good to be with these folks and not be talking about work.
I’m not a big fan of the selfie and I don’t even particularly like having my picture taken. I know that’s a bit funny coming from someone who is often trying to get others to smile for me, but it’s the truth. I would much rather look at pictures of other people than of myself. I suppose that’s a fairly common attitude.
This evening, though, I set the camera up on a china cabinet and set the self-timer, focused as best I could, and took a few pictures. This is the best, in terms of my expression, etc., although it’s not perfectly sharp. Still, not a terrible portrait. And as much as I don’t like looking at myself, I guess I should be thankful that I don’t have to very often. Sorry, for all of you who have a harder time avoiding it.
Taking pictures of kids can be fun but it can also present some very unique challenges. One of the biggest issues with kids is that, even if they want to be photographed, they often don’t know how to smile naturally. That’s sometimes true for adults, as well, of course, but not as common. With kids, even if they have the most beautiful smile in the world, if you ask them to smile, you get a very forced, very unnatural, toothy grin.
What’s really nice, though, is when you are able to catch an real, natural smile on one of these little ones. This picture is a great example. Rena’s “smile please” isn’t terrible, but it’s still a little less natural than her “real” smile. This is her real smile. It may not be her biggest, happiest smile, but it’s genuine and delightful.
We had a beautiful day today and Cathy and I took advantage of it. After a chilly morning, with significant frost, it warmed up to almost 50°F and in the sun it felt more than that. We went to a local nature preserve and walked through the woods and down to the Hawlings River. Not exactly the might Yukon or Amazon, but it’s a pretty little river and quite cheering on an early winter’s day. Here’s a picture of Cathy, enjoying the view and the sound of running water.
This is Grace. Grace likes babies. I mean, she really likes babies. The baby in vogue at the moment is Marley, an adorable little thing, although her mother says she beginning to exhibit signs of being naughty in a stealthy sort of way. She makes up for it by being so darn cute, but of course, human nature being what it is, she’ll need some correction along the way.
It’s been about eleven months that we’ve been getting to know Grace and her family, as well as all our wonderful new friends at Cross Community Rockville. We’ve been greatly blessed by them and I don’t know that my feeble writing skills can do justice to how grateful we are to them all.
One thing I’m especially looking forward to, as I do wherever I am, it watching these little ones grow up. This is one of the few benefits of being old—the ability to see the trees and not just the forest. On the other hand, of course, with age comes oldness, as we like to say.
It’s been really nice to have Dorothy home, even if only for a few days. It wasn’t a particularly promising day, weather-wise, today, but Cathy, Dorothy, and I took a chance and went to Great Falls late this morning. We were not alone and it was fairly crowded, at least for late November. Still, we had a great time, walking out to the overlook on Falls Island and then climbing up and over the rocks on Rocky Islands, below the falls. This is from a place we call Sandy Beach, looking towards the north end of Rocky Islands.
Like many families, we have a few traditions. One of them is a family photo on Thanksgiving. It’s nice to be able to look at a collection of them for each year, thinking back to all the changes, happy and sad, that have taken place over the years. Generally there are two cameras set up, mom’s and mine, and they are both set to take a photo on a ten second delay. I am sitting on the floor in front in this picture because it was the easiest place for me to be, considering I had to start the timers going and then hurry to get in, without tripping over a tripod in the process.
I had dinner with these guys this evening at Matchbox in Rockville. If you go there, I can highly recommend the spicy meatball pizza and the plate of six mini-burgers. The burgers themselves are good but the pile of thinly sliced, fried onions were really great. We had a great time talking about whatever came to mind. Thanks, guys for putting up with my puns. This picture was taken outside, where there is a fire burning at the corner of the building. I didn’t have anything to put the camera on, so the platform around the fire takes up a fair amount of the foreground.
Cathy’s a fan of Operation Christmas Child. I mean, a huge fan. She collects things over the course of most of the year. In the past, when she starting participating, she did a box with Dorothy and a box with her friend and our next-door neighbor, Amy. When we moved and didn’t see Amy much, they continued to do two boxes, though. This year, Cathy bought a set of five boxes, because it was convenient to buy them that way. Rather than using two and saving the others for the future, though, she decided to fill all six. Wait, wasn’t it just a five-pack? Yes, but she did six. Just because.
We filled them this afternoon, having to “vacuum pack” the stuffed animal in one in order to get everything into that box, but we made it. This is Cathy, with her six boxes, heading off to deliver them to the local pick-up location. Time to start collecting things for next years boxes.
He’s nearly a year old and what a year its been. Back on December 6, last year, I posted a picture of week-old Grant’s feet. Now, he’s walking, tentatively and still oh, so cute.
Cathy and I were at the WCA Christmas Bazaar today and more than the bazaar itself, what we really enjoyed was seeing people that we don’t see nearly enough, now that Dorothy has moved on to the next thing. I spent a wonderful half hour or so chatting with Angie and while we were visiting, Grant’s mom, Collyn, arrived. I was given the honor of being allowed to hold and watch Grant while his mom went for some food. He looked a little concerned when mom walked off but a few moments of distraction and he was fine. We had a nice little visit. A shame he won’t remember me, but that’s the way it is. I’ll remember him and I have a few pictures to help (including a couple selfies taken with my SLR, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do).
We had our bi-weekly prayer meeting and Bible study this evening and these three were having fun with the harpsichord at the Brights’ house. Each played singly but when I got out my camera, they gathered and all played together.
As you can see, they are all on the hammier end of the spectrum, mugging for the camera. They actually can play pretty well and I’m looking forward to hearing them play more as they get older and more accomplished.
We got to have Luna stay at our house for the weekend. Actually, she was only here a little more than 24 hours. Cathy brought her home yesterday and then we took her back to her house this evening. Before we took her back, though, I took a few pictures of her with Cathy. She’s a good dog and quite easy to care for. The sheet on the sofa tells her this is her place to sleep, and she seems to know that quite well.
Time for a picture of Cathy. Often these are taken when it’s getting late and I haven’t taken any pictures for the day. Still, I’m always glad for an excuse to take her picture and always glad for the pictures I get. Pictures like this generally get more ‘likes’ on Facebook than any other sort, so they are clearly popular with my audience, as well.
Inevitably she will make silly faces for a few and we’ll sometimes try something a little different. This evening, after the faces, I took a few with her turning around quickly, spinning her hair out to the side. This picture happened in between, though. There were three ‘normal’ pictures (I put normal in quotes because silly is the norm, around here).
This one turned out quite well. Thank you, Cathy, for putting up with me all these years.