After this morning’s breakfast and Christmas celebration with Margaret, we came home for a little while and then went to Dot’s for our second Christmas celebration, with the other side of the family. There were more people at this one, including these three lovely children (Dot’s great grandchildren), Kaien, Eloise, and Silas (from left to right). Although they were a little rowdy, they were not overly so, and a good time was had by all. We changed our menu from our traditional enchiladas and this year we had a taco bar as well as some baked salmon. That makes it easy for each person to customize the meal to their own preferences and dietary restrictions. We are very glad to have our family and enjoyed being with everyone on this special day.
We had Christmas breakfast with Margaret today. Last night after we got home from the Christmas Eve service I made a quiche. This morning we took that, as well as croissants, orange juice, sparkling cider, and a few other things to Margaret’s room. We put a recording of a fireplace on her television and hung the stockings from the dresser, with presents laid out under them. It was a very festive and enjoyable time. David and Darius called shortly after this photo was taken and then after we ate, we opened presents.
We went to the Christmas Eve service at Fourth this evening, opting for the 7:00 PM service instead of staying up for 11:00 PM as we did last year. It was a good service with good songs to sing and of course a message on the Christmas story. We are all so familiar with the story that it’s easy to take it for granted. But when the story was recorded, it was really not what you’d have expected. That is, it’s not your typical birth-of-a-king story. In fact, most of the story of the life of Jesus is different to what you might expect. We forget that because it’s so familiar. To me, this lends credence to the story rather than the opposite. If someone were simply making up a story, this is not what they’d come up with. It’s one of the reasons I believe it really happened this way.
We were visiting Margaret today when Santa came to her building. At first she didn’t want her picture taken but eventually she decided it would be alright. There was Christmas music being played on the piano in the living room while residents took their turns with Santa (and his dog, Mrs. Paws). After Santa left, presumably to visit the other buildings, the music continued and the residents enjoyed singing along. I also got some nice photos of Wil in his Naughty/Nice Christmas sweater.
I’ve posted photos a few times from the worship night’s that Dorothy organizes. This week we had a live nativity. No farm animals this time, but everyone was encouraged to come dressed as someone from the nativity story. Amanda read the story and when your character was introduced, you went up to the manger to play your role. Between the readings, we sang Christmas songs that celebrated the part of the story just read. This is the band, who lead the singing. From left to right, Andrew, Dorothy, Adam, Michael, and Greg. I think it was safe to say a good time was had by all.
We had a wonderful dinner and Mike and Krystal’s house this evening, celebrating our friend Suzanne’s recent birthday. Krystal and Mike always deliver a wonderful meal and tonight was no exception, with individual-size beef Wellingtons being (in my humble opinion) the star of the show. But, also as usual, the food was incidental to the company, which was terrific. We had a great time of laughter and stories. We’re so fortunate to have these wonderful people as our friends.
Iris and Seth hosted us for Thanksgiving this year and also cooked the turkey. George and Carmela drove down and arrived at around 1:00 PM. We had a lovely time visiting and of course eating. We had taken a good group photo at the beach and we decided that trying to get a good group photo today was not going to happen. Nevertheless, I took a good collection of photos of the festivities. I’m happy with this one of George and Carmela with their dog, Chester.
As mentioned in the previous two posts, Cathy, Dorothy, and I are in Alabama for Karlee and Patrick’s wedding. The weather was a bit cooler than expected, even for this time of year, but they went ahead with their outdoor ceremony (under a pavilion roof but without walls). They provided hand warmers for anyone who needed them. With my suit coat, I was fine, although the girls were a bit chilly. After the service and before they came into the reception I was able to take a few photos of the bride and groom. So, may I present to you the happy couple.
We flew down to Birmingham Alabama this afternoon and the drove a little way to the rehearsal dinner for our dear friend, Karlee. We were a bit late due to flight schedule changes but there was still food available to us in the buffet. I took quite a few photos including a bunch of Karlee and Patrick with various friends. Although Cathy and I had met Patrick once, Dorothy had not before today. This was one of the last photos of the evening of Karlee and Dorothy.
We went to dinner at Zack and Lexi’s place this evening. They live in a part of town we aren’t familiar with but we had no real trouble finding it, with the help of our trusty GPS. Traffic was slow at times, but that’s to be expected inside the beltway during evening rush hour. Jean and Dorothy also met us there. The original purpose of the visit was to load a sofa into Dorothy’s van (well, our van but her car is in the shop so she has our van). Once we did that, with a little three-dimentional Tetris, we went in and had a very lovely dinner and evening with our friends. This photo was taken with the camera sitting on the kitchen counter, so the angle is a little odd, but it turned out pretty well, in spite of that.
My cousin and his daughter were in town this weekend. Iris and Seth hosted a dinner for them and the local family, which was really nice. We had carry-out from a Thai place. After dinner I took some photographs, including this one of the three youngest. It’s difficult to get a photo of them all looking at the camera and also not cringing from the flash. I’ll come clean and confess that this one is a composite of two images. Eloise wasn’t smiling in the best one of Kai and Silas, so I pulled her face from another image. I think it’s a pretty good shot.
I took this photo of Adam and Dorothy before the worship evening today. Adam, when he can make it, adds his guitar skills and brings an added level of depth to the music. Shown here laughing before the evening got started, they sit at the ‘front’ of the room but really we sit in more of a circle. As you can see, Anna has decorated the mantle with more dahlias from her garden. I should mention that all of my photos taken on these occasions are by available light, which at times has been relatively low, so the ISO is often set accordingly high. Here is was set to 5,000, allowing me an exposure time of 1/80 of a second at f/4.0.
As promised yesterday, here’s another photo of a visit with Cathy and Jim’s mom. This time, Dorothy joined us, as well as Jim’s friend Amy. We hadn’t met her before but really enjoyed meeting her and getting to know her a little. After our visit with Margaret (and after taking a few photos) we drove out to Rocklands and had Boxcar Burgers and a bottle of wine in the barn (it’s turned chilly). Anyway, back to this photo. I think it’s a really good picture of all of us, which is somewhat unusual.
Jim visited this weekend and we had a really nice time. Of course the main purpose of his visit was to see his mom. So, after his arrival late yesterday evening we headed over to see her this morning. Naturally I took a photo or two (and there will be another, larger group photo tomorrow). Our visit had to be cut short because of a memorial service that I wanted to go to. Jim and Cathy took naps in the afternoon and then he went to visit some other folks. All in all, it was a good day. Even the memorial was nice. Sad, of course, but nice.
Cathy and I took Margaret to lunch at Red Lobster today for her birthday. It was a lovely day and we had a nice time celebrating, although in a relatively subdued manner. We haven’t eaten at Red Lobster for a long time and even had to check that this location was still there. It’s not on our regular route and even when we do drive by, we generally don’t pay attention to that. Cathy and I ate there the evening after we got married, so we know it’s been there at least 38 years. As you can see, we had a bit of a feast.
I’m late posting this and I suspect it will cause a little confusion on Instagram, where the posting date is so much different to the actual date listed for the photo. After church today we went to Krystal and Mike’s house, along with Suzanne, to celebrate Chrissy’s birthday. It was an absolutely lovely day and we sat on their patio a while eating fresh figs from Mike’s tree. Then we retired to the dining room where we had a wonderful meal. The highlight wasn’t the food, though, it was the company. We had a great time talking and laughing and generally just being together. Thanks again, Krystal and Mike, for including us.
What a wonderful day and what a beautiful wedding. To say nothing of the lovely bride. We were a little surprised to be greeted with flowers and reserved seats in the second row. We didn’t have any actual duties but were happy to be there as our goddaughter Lexi was married to Zack. It’s also the first time we’ve been in The Falls Church Anglican since they finished their new sanctuary building. It’s quite large and we didn’t come close to filling it. The reception was also nice and we saw lots of friends. Now we look forward to visiting the young bride and groom at their new home.
One of the events we enjoy at Rocklands Winery is their Old Time Jam. It happens roughly once a month and you can check out their calendar for specific dates. Bring a picnic dinner and enjoy a bottle of wine as a group of musicians play. It’s a very friendly atmosphere, the music is lovely, and the wine goes down very well. One of Dorothy’s friends joined in for the first time this evening, so that was an additional draw for us. In the summer they are out on the lawn but now that it’s getting cooler, they’ve moved into the barn.
Laura came for a visit this weekend, flying in from Atlanta on her way back to New York. We visited with grandma twice on Saturday and she went again Sunday morning before we took her to the train station for the rest of her journey home. We had a lovely time and, as you can see (and won’t be surprised to learn) I took a photo of the girls. Naturally they complained that I wasn’t in the photograph, but that’s pretty much they way it goes (and I really don’t mind).
We were out at Anna’s for an evening of singing. The light was beautiful as it filtered through the trees onto the lovely, stone building. I was afraid the dynamic range would be too much but this photo captures it pretty well, I think. It lasted about five minutes and then was gone. The structure was built circa 1817 but by 1940, only a stone shell remained. It was rehabilitated in the 1940s for residential use and that’s when the current doors, wi11dows, hardware, etc. were installed. It was built as the Seneca Baptist Church and is one of the oldest Baptist Churches in Montgomery County.
In addition to Dorothy, Adam, Michael, and Andrew came and played while we all sang into the evening. A good time was had by all. At least I think so. I certainly enjoyed myself.
On thing we try to do every time we go to the beach is take a family photo. Some years there have been fewer, a few years there have been more. We’re actively missing Albert and Ralph, of course. And for years, Dorothy’s friend Karlee came with us. But we also have the three little ones and this is Eloise’s first time at the beach. After two summers without a beach trip, it was great to be able to be together this year. We’re also thankful for David driving across the country to stay here with his (and Cathy’s) mom while we were away. It didn’t end up being exactly what he had expected but he took it all in stride, as he usually does.
Starting at the back, left to right, we have Cathy, Dorothy, Tsai-Hong, Eloise, Seth, Steve, Silas, Iris, Kai, Maya, George, Dot, Danna, Carmela, and yours truely.
It’s worth keeping up with old friends. Old friends in the sense of friends we’ve known for a long time. This fall I’ll have known Rob (on the left in this photo) for 50 years, having met him in September, 1972, at the beginning of eighth grade when my family moved back here from England. I couldn’t tell you exactly when I met Craig (on the right) but I would guess sometime in the spring or summer of 1974, after I started going to Fourth Presbyterian Church. So, we go back a good way. Cathy and I stayed with Craig in Japan in February of 1988 as the first stop in our 7.5 month around-the-world trip. (Sadly my first few rolls of film from that trip never made it back.) We’ve known Susie the shortest time, but that’s only relative. We’ve know her since she moved to the area, about the time she and Rob became an item. We see Craig less often, partly for the obvious reason that he spends so much time in Japan. It was great to get together with them and get caught up, even a little.
I’m posting this more than a month after it was taken. As you can see, we have a little bit of black-eyed Susan in our back garden. If you don’t like yellow you might not like our garden in late July. Thankfully, we’re happy with that color and the difficulty is keeping it under control rather than keeping it alive. It does have a tendency to move about on its own and we’ve even started pulling it out in a few places. This photo has a single tiger lily in the center. That’s nice but the big clump of them in the front yard it really the way this should be grown. It’s quite amazing for about three weeks in late July. We’ve also had a pretty successful summer with our elephant ear. Last year’s didn’t really do anything but I’m happy with this one and hopefully can keep it alive for the years ahead.
Mom and I drove down to North Carolina this morning for our annual family reunion. Last year’s was out doors but with the forecast calling for temperatures above 100°F, it was moved into the meetinghouse hall, which I think was a good choice. Although we didn’t take a full-group photo, we did took photos of each generation. This is the first of those, with the remaining five first cousins. When I was growing up, the oldest generation was the five sets of parents of these folks. The last of them, Aunt Mary, died in 2010 at the age of 104. Of the eleven children—the first cousins—five remain, with mom (Dot) being the oldest. It’s great to see them all together and also good to see the next three generations still getting together every year.
Two posts back I had a picture of the bouquets that Dorothy made for Renee and her bridesmaids. Today we see the lovely bride and her new husband. The wedding was delayed a little, as we were late getting there with the last of the flowers, but it was lovely. Daniel and Renee look pretty happy, as you’d hope and expect. You can see the flowers even better in this photo than in the previous one.
From the church we went to a friend’s yard, where the tent was set up and where we had decorated with more flowers. We had pizza cooked in a woodburning oven on a trailer (among other foods). I was honored to be allowed to be part of such a festive occasion.
As mentioned in my previous post, we drove up to Lititz, Pennsylvania after work yesterday. This morning Rob, Cathy, and I went into Lititz proper and walked around a bit. Rob and Cathy bought a few things, including some Wilbur chocolate. My tastes are a little different and I bought some unusual meats from The Savory Gourmet. I got a pound each of camel and kangaroo. We’ll see. Not cheap, but also not something you see every day so worth a splurge.
The main event was at 3:00 and the wedding itself was lovely. The reception was at the Brick Gables, which appears to be a restored barn. We had hors d’oeuvre outside and then moved in for the actual reception. This photo, as you have probably guessed, is of Carly and Jon at the head table. After a few speeches and a little talking, we had a nice dinner. The bulk the reception was taken up with dancing, which was loud, as you might expect. I took quite a few photos and we had a nice time. By the time we got back to our BnB we were nicely tired and ready to sleep.
We went up to Pennsylvania today along with the rest of the family. Some had gone up the day before and spent the night, which was nice although the youngest apparently woke up in the middle of the night and cried a bit, making sleep a little rough for the rest. It was a very hot day but always good to be there. Mom and I finished putting the new screen up on the porch and Dorothy did a good bit of weeding in the flower bed in front of the cabin. Other than that, we mostly just sat around, ate, and talked. Standard fare for a day at ‘the farm’. We walked over to our neighbors’ house to see their goats. There were a few young kids that could get through the fence quite easily and although we tried to keep them in, they’d simply come out again. I took advantage of the situation and took a few photographs, including this one of Silas with two goats.
I went to the evening service with Dorothy today. Tommy had asked if I might come and take some photos during the dessert fellowship after the service. This is something they started in the summer of last year (or maybe the year before) and tonight was the kickoff for this summer. I took quite a few photos but many of them are of people I don’t know. I know these two, at least a little. They are Hannah and Thea. It was a lovely evening. The dessert provided was a wide variety of cupcakes. Apparently last year they kicked it off with ice cream and then, as fortune would have it, it was unseasonably cold and ice cream wasn’t as popular as it might have been. So, this year they didn’t take any chances with that. It would have been fine, as it turns out.
Washington Christian Academy was having a event today that combined a few events they’ve had separately in more normal years. In addition to the standard was the fact that this is WCA’s 60th anniversary year, so there were activities celebrating that fact. We were later getting there than we had planned because we stopped to put air in a partially flat tire of a semi-stranded motorist. We also didn’t really stay all that long, but it was sure good to see a few friends. Bill, the former headmaster, was there and seeing him and chatting briefly was a real treat. We also ran into Justin and Sara as we were about to leave, which is when this photo was taken.
I visited Paul and Carolyn last June (see Wednesday, June 23, 2021) and Dorothy and I went to see them again this afternoon. It was a lovely visit, including having their eldest and youngest children (who are adults, of course) there with us. If you know the Ks then chances are you love the Ks. I know I certainly do. They mean so much to me and have meant a lot to a lot of folks over the years. Dorothy is now (quite a bit) older than I was when I first met them, which was back in 1974. We talked quite a bit about what Dorothy is doing and what her plans are for the future. It was a great time and something we should do more often.
We had a family get together today, outside in the big tent that’s set up where mom lives. It was quite warm when we got there so it was nice to be in the shade of the tent. Then a storm rolled through and it came down in buckets so it was even nicer to be under cover. The little ones enjoyed getting wet in the rain. In this photo, Iris (right) is trying to convince Steve (center) that he should be a contestant on Survivor. As you might be able to tell from his expression, he’s not convinced. And Dot (left) is amused by the whole thing.
One more post for today. After our wandering around the western part of the county and visit to Susanna Farm Nursery, we came back to where Dorothy was staying and took the dog for a longish walk. It was warm but really pretty out. There is an abandoned house at the back of the property and there were two black vultures in the upstairs and they weren’t happy when we came close. We didn’t go inside. After we got back, Cathy spent some time grooming a couple of the ponies. I enjoyed sitting on the porch and chatting with Dorothy. All in all, a very pleasant day.
We met Dorothy out in Poolesville today after she spent the night and took care of the animals for a friend. After breakfast we drove out to Beallsville and stopped at the cemetery there. This photo of Dorothy and Cathy was taken outside the chapel there. I also got a few photos of the stained glass from inside, but thought I’d go with this informal portrait, instead. The cemetery was incorporated May 27, 1862 and the you can find more information about it on the BeallsvilleCemetery.org website. That web site has a scanned copy of the cemetery charter, as amended in 1912. There are also quite a few photos on Find-a-Grave. We weren’t looking for any grave in particular but did wander about a bit, looking at the stones. It was a beautiful day and we like cemeteries, particularly old cemeteries.
Dorothy and Anna have been planning to host a regular, bi-weekly worship night and tonight was their inaugural event. Attendance was light but for those who came, I think it was a really nice time. Dorothy and Adam played guitar (and occasionally the piano or the cajón, as Dorothy is doing in this photo). Greg came a little later and added the bass to the mix. We all used our phones to find the lyrics to songs we didn’t know. Eventually we’ll have something a little more organized, but it worked pretty well. This photo is a little grainy, because I didn’t want to use the flash. The ISO was set to 10,000, taken with a shutter speed of 1/80 second at f/4.5.
In September of 2019 we bought and planted a hawthorn, Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’ in the bed that used to have a Colorado blue spruce. Then in April of 2020, we added a Viburnum carlesii to the same bed. Over the years I’ve also planted quite a few daffodils in that bad. The hawthorn isn’t shown in this photo but the viburnum is, to Cathy’s right (left in the photo). The daffodils in the foreground are called ‘Lemon Beauty’. And the ‘stone’ rabbit came from Cathy’s parents’ yard when their house was sold.
Johnny and Stephanie came to see D.C. this weekend. They stayed with Dorothy but she stopped by with them after she picked them up at the airport. It’s nice to have visitors and especially nice as we’ve been so isolated the last couple years. Dorothy met Stephanie when she was in college (Dorothy was in college, Stephanie had just graduated) and they got to know each other. Then it turns out Stephanie’s family actually knew Dorothy’s grandma (Cathy’s mom). And the organization Stephanie’s dad helps run is named for the pastor that married Cathy and me. Small world.
We got together for Tsai-Hong’s birthday this evening and as always I took pictures of the family. Usually I get a lot more of the kids than of the adults but I try to include everyone at least now and then. I think this one of Steve, Maya, and Danna turned out well so here you are. It’s been a hard few years with the restrictions, both official and self-imposed and I’m really glad we’re getting together in person again. I’m happy for the technology that lets us talk to and even see each over remotely but it’s not remotely the same.
We stopped at Dorothy’s this evening and some of her housemates and other friends were just hanging out in the family room. I happened to have my camera with me, as I often do, and Elizabeth asked if I had taken any pictures today. I had not, so I got out my camera and flash and took a few of them lounging on the sofa. It’s not exactly a formal portrait but it’s a day in the life. After that, Dorothy, Lydia, Donna, Cathy, and I went to Bethesda to get some dinner.
We haven’t been to Dumbarton Oaks in a long time but we decided to take a trip now, before everything is out, to see how it looks out of season. It’s not nearly as spectacular this time of year, of course, but there were some things in bloom. It’s also really nice to see the bones on which the garden rests. I took quite a few photos and really like this one of Dorothy and Cathy siting on a bench. You have to make reservations and book a time but out of season it’s free. Even in season it’s only $7, which isn’t bad value.
We had a really nice windfall this week. A friend of ours helps people get rid of things from their homes and yards. He called me the other day and said he had been asked to take this adjustable bed from a home after the person it was bought for passed away. It’s brand new and was never actually used. We moved it into our garage but between then and when I’m writing this (in April) it has been moved into Margaret’s room and it makes it much easier for her to sit up in bed for eating, reading, or watching TV.
We met Dorothy, Nadia, and Lexi for Korean BBQ this evening at 9292 Korean BBQ in Annandale. It was a lot of fun and the food was terrific. With my diet being so protein heavy and carb light, it was a good meal for me. At the same time, even as it is, I need to control my portion, especially now as I’ve lost 50 pounds. So, it’s not like I could eat here with impunity. But once in a while it’s nice to have a real treat and the food was really good. I was surprised by the pork neck, which I’ve never had before. Very good flavor. Recommended (but not cheap).
We got together for mom’s (Dot’s) birthday this evening. We weren’t able to last year, with all the restrictions. That is to say, we probably could have but we didn’t. It’s great to be able to do this again. The funniest thing is that mom made and brought her own birthday cake. She also brought presents (quilts that she had made but not yet delivered). Regardless, it was a really nice family dinner and we need to do this more, again. And thanks to Tsai-Hong for ordering and picking up the food.
We went for a walk at Lake Needwood this morning, starting at Needwood Mansion and walking around the south end of the lake as far as the boat house. It was a chilly day and mostly overcast, but nice to be outdoors. This bear is near the boat house and I think I’ve posted a photo of Cathy with it once before (quick check, yep, see Sunday, December 02, 2018). But that’s okay, I’m allowed to repeat. And the pictures are different, in any case. The only constant is change.
A young friend of ours scheduled her wedding on January 2 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We made plans to go, of course, and were prepared to take Covid tests before going in to the wedding. Sadly, both the groom and a number of family members all tested positive for Covid. The wedding went on but they were forced to make it a very small, private wedding. Nevertheless, we had planned a day off from work (tomorrow) and we had a hotel reservation, so we drove up to Lancaster for a short get away. This is a sculpture by J. Seward Jonhson in Steinman Park, on W. King Street (Lincoln Highway) in down town Lancaster.
After finishing up year eleven of my photo blog (and the first year NOT to have a picture taken every day), I got a bit lax about posting. I’ve taken photos on twelve days in January but I’m only getting around to posting them now, on February 2. They’ll continue to be dated the date the photo was taken, of course.
We had our annual New Year’s Day fondue party today, ringing in the new year with good friends and good food. Due to concerns about Covid among some of our regular crowd, we had a slightly different group of attendees this year. It’s always good to mix things up a bit and it was a really nice time.
Last year I posted my final photo-a-day photo after ten years of taking at least one picture every day. That photo, like the first ten years earlier, was of Cathy on a walk we took on the North Branch Rock Creek, leaning against a large sycamore tree. We actually took the same walk today, a year later. The Kengla trail runs from the Kengla House, which is across the street from the entrance to Meadowside Nature Center, north to and under the Intercounty Connector (the ICC, MD 200). There it meets the Rock Creek trail, which crosses the creek. We took the right hand side—we didn’t cross the creek—and followed that up a side creek past a large drainage pond to the Norbeck Meadows Neighborhood Park, between Valley Forge Drive and Custis Drive, both off of George Washington Drive, a little further than we went on last year’s walk. It’s a nice walk and fairly easy.
Our favorite spot is a small side creek that has two, very large sycamores growing on the bank, with the creek going between them. The photo of Cathy I posted on December 31 last year was taken there and took a few more of her there again today. The first of them is Cathy just above where the two trees are and the second is standing next to the tree on the southern side of the small creek. I’m pretty pleased with them both.
This year has been a challenge and I don’t think I need to elaborate on why. The restrictions imposed in response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic have become quite tiresome. We continue to work mostly from home, although we both go to the office now and then. I try to shop for groceries early on Sunday morning when the store is least crowded (not least because I simply dislike crowds). We have tried to get out and walk as much as possible and did that most weekends. We also managed to get away for a few days, as you may remember from early October. We’re surviving, obviously, but there are times when we just want to take a break from it all. Nevertheless, we continue to soldier on as best we can. Here’s to a better year in 2022.
God bless you all.
We went over to see Cathy’s best friend Jean and her daughter (our goddaughter) Lexi this evening. We were especially glad to get a chance to finally meet Lexi’s fiancé, Zach. He was down from New York for Christmas so we planned an evening together. We couldn’t be happier for them both. I fixed panang curry and rice and we spent the evening laughing and telling stories. There were a few presents exchanged but mostly it was presence, not presents. I took pictures with my new camera and like this one of Dorothy and Lexi. I took a few of Lexi with Zach, too but decided to go with this one for now.
It’s a little surprising, considering how many pictures I take, that we don’t have a lot of pictures of the three of us. A bit part of it is that we either need a tripod set up or we need someone else to actually take the picture. Neither happens regularly. We do set up the tripod for larger family photos sometimes but by the time we’ve taken the big group photo no one wants to sit for more. In this case, George took the pictures for us. I’m not crazy about pictures of myself, but at least with the weight I’ve lost recently I don’t hate them quite so much. This one is actually pretty decent.
We were out for much of the day and when we got home we remembered that this was the night that Santa rides through Flower Valley in his ‘sleigh’. Fortunately we weren’t too late to catch his visit. Some of our neighbors had put out snacks and such and a lot of the neighbors from our block were already there with their kids, waiting for the big man’s arrival. I took a few pictures, as I usually do, and got a fairly decent one, balancing the flash with the lights from Santa’s sleigh.
We spent much of today downtown with Dorothy, Abba, and Josh. We went first to the American Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum, housed in the same building between 7th and 9th streets in northwest Washington. We wondered through most of the museum and wore ourselves out pretty well. We had a late lunch and then drove to Constitution Avenue and parked around 21st Street. From there we walked to the Lincoln Memorial.
The sun was setting across the river and the light on the Washington Monument was really nice. I got a few nice pictures of that but my favorite was this one of Abba and Josh, on the west side (rear) of the Lincoln Memorial, lit by the setting sun. After we returned to the front of the memorial we watched a woman who was clearly waiting to photograph a proposal, anxious on her behalf at the couple’s delay. The scene and frankly our enjoyment of the evening was somewhat marred by a demonstration by a far left, National Socialist, neo-Nazi group. I won’t give them any press, because they deserve to be unknown. I did take pictures, of course, but won’t share those.
As mentioned yesterday, Abba and Josh came for a short visit. Josh, in particular, enjoyed my various three-dimensional puzzles. We have two copies of this one, with six identical pieces each and the two of them worked on it for a while. This was not the one that gave him the most frustration but as with anything of this sort, finally figuring it out can be very satisfying. The one that really occupied him was two crossed pieces and a square piece held in the intersection of the two (a bit hard to describe, actually). But he finally got that one taken apart, as well.
Abba and Josh flew down today to spend a long weekend here. Sadly Cathy had to work late this evening but Dorothy, Josh, Abba, and I drove out to Rocklands. Abba’s been there before but Josh had not. They were closed but since Dorothy is on the payroll (and is almost family) we went to see the animals. Dorothy isn’t crazy about the pigs, at least not when there isn’t a fence between her and them, but I’m a little more bold, as you can see from where I’m taking this photo. We also enjoyed a beautiful Poolesville sunset before heading back home.
Brady was in Frederick with her family for Thanksgiving but drove down today for a visit with us. We met at mom’s apartment and had a really nice time. This was, I believe, the first time Eloise has bounced on her great grandma’s hobbyhorse. This was made by my grandfather, Eloise’s great, great grandfather, using a leaf spring as the main component. The spring was actually replaced at some point, in the late 1980s if my memory is correct, when the old sprint snapped (this was not made for an adult, even in play). As you can see, Eloise enjoyed it.
We were very glad to be able to have a “regular” Thanksgiving again this year. With the addition of David, Darius, and Maggie, it was an especially festive time. Steve, Maya, and Kaien were at Maya’s mom’s, and we missed them, of course. We managed to get the group photo taken before we ate, which was good because it was dark before we finished eating. Needless to say, it was hectic, but as always, loads of fun. I cooked a 19 pound turkey and everyone else brought things to share. Most of the leftovers were left with us, so we’ll be eating them for a while. Sadly, David, Darius, and Maggie leave tomorrow, but it’s been a real treat having them here.
David, Darius, and Maggie drove out from New Mexico, covering nearly 1,900 miles in two long days. It was a surprise for Cathy, who didn’t know they were coming until they called yesterday afternoon. Darius said he’d like to come visit us again and Cathy said that would be great. He asked, “How about tonight?” She was thrilled. So, they arrived late last evening.
This afternoon we went out to Rocklands for a while. It’s a bit chilly out but with their many fire pits and circles, it’s really not too bad. Darius was not so cold that he didn’t want a pop-cicle. Darius also enjoyed seeing the chickens and ducks, and one of the cats climbed up into David’s lap and sat there quite happily for a good while. I also took some pictures of Darius jumping between the huge tires they have in a kids play area.
When we got home we ordered carry-out from the Big Greek Cafe. Good times.
We celebrated Cathy’s birthday with a few friends on Tuesday evening. Then this evening we celebrated again with our good and long-time friend Yvette. We don’t get together as often as we should and of course the Covid induced lock-downs haven’t made it any easier. Nevertheless, we met at IHOP this evening. It was great to get caught up. Her parents have moved out of the house she grew up in an moved to a condo in a retirement community, which has meant a lot of work for her, as well as for them. They are still getting settled and the house is about to go on the market, so hopefully things will calm down a bit now.
Dorothy and quite a few of her fellow fellows from the first Fourth Fellows Program decided to stick around and become members of the church. Although we were never regular attenders there during Dorothy’s lifetime, Dorothy has strong attachments to the church dating to throughout her life. Cathy had to work late this evening but I went and enjoyed hearing the testimonies of some of the new members (including Dorothy, of course). I took three photos of the entire group and stitched them together to make this single panoramic image.
We had a few friends over for dinner this evening to celebrate Cathy’s birthday. Rob and Susie came, as well as Jean. And of course Dorothy was here. She had asked for a vegetarian dish that we like, broccoli and tofu in a peanut sauce, so I made that. I also made mango and sticky rice for dessert. I did buy a cupcake so we’d have something to put a candle in, as seen here. It was a low key celebration with a few friends of our longest acquaintance. Exactly the sort of party we enjoy most.
It’s been a while since we did a lot for Halloween. When Dorothy was little, we’d usually go out with Rick, Melissa, and their two girls in their neighborhood. We haven’t done that since Dorothy was 11. She went out a few times after that when she was in middle school but going out trick-or-treating has been a thing of the past for a while now. When we moved into this neighborhood it wasn’t filled with children. We’d get a handful of groups of slightly older kids, assuming we even bothered to stay home for them. Sometimes we go to one of our parents’ houses and give out candy there, instead.
Recently, however, the neighborhood, particularly our immediate neighborhood, has turned over and there are a lot of kids. We have really enjoyed having them all around us, although I must admit it sometimes makes me feel a bit old (I suppose that’s mostly because I am old, but whatever). It was clear that there would be more kids out this year and there were. I took a few pictures of the neighbors on both sides of us, all dressed up and ready to go. We’re really fortunate to have such nice neighbors and we love to be able to hear their children playing.
We sat in the driveway and gave out candy to over 50 kids. Next year, assuming it isn’t raining, we’ll probably bring the fire pit around and have that going. One other cool thing was that we had a barred owl (Strix varia) perch in our tree while we were out there.
Cathy and I managed to get away for a few days in early October. It had been nearly two years since we were away with the exception of one night away at a family reunion on my side. While that was great fun, it wasn’t the same as getting away for a simple vacation with little to no agenda. Today we drove up to New Hampshire, stopping in Scarsdale to see and take a few photos of a house that was once owned by someone Cathy is fairly certain is in her family tree (a some-number-of-greats uncle). Then we continued to Providence where we visited and had dinner with Abba and Josh. It was a really nice visit, but all too short because we still had nearly 100 miles to go after dinner. But of course I took a few pictures. There is a pretty good one of both Abba and Josh, and another of Cathy with them, but I like this picture best. Abba, wearing a floppy hat that belonged to her Aunt Elisabeth in the 1960s and chilling on the chair and with her feet on the camel saddle foot stool from her grandparents’ house.
I’m nearly a month behind in my posting but here’s a picture from September 23. For Margaret’s slightly belated birthday dinner I made qaubili pilau and chicken. The chicken was in pretty huge pieces (as you can see on my plate on the right. I made a big batch of pilau which is flavored with a spice mix with equal amounts of the five Cs, which are cinnamon, cloves, cumin, cardamom, and coriander plus a half measure of black pepper, and a pinch of saffron for color (and if you have both green and black cardamom, that’s even better, but I only had green). It also has thinly sliced onions and carrots plus golden raisins and my version has barberries, as well, which may not be traditional but it’s a nice addition, I think. Slivered almonds and pistachios finish it off. Anyway, everyone agreed it turned out pretty well. We had a really nice dinner and a good time celebrating Margaret’s birthday.
Cathy had to work late this evening so sadly she was not available to be at the dinner Dorothy and I shared with Annie, Ian, Jonathan, Susie, and Rob. We met at the Cactus Cantina in northwest Washington and had a lovely time. We don’t get together often enough, but we don’t all live close together, so it’s not always convenient. This is a group that’s had a few major trips together, including to Phoenix, Arizona and even more impressive, to Venice and Florence, Italy. I don’t know that we’ll be able to top those trips, but we can always dream.
Cathy’s brother Jim visited us for a long weekend and of course, before he left we had to take a group photo. We had a good time visiting some rural places and he and Cathy spent a lot of time going through pictures, papers, and other memorabilia from their family’s past. We went to the Agricultural Farm Park on Thursday, McKee-Beshers and Rocklands Farm Winery on Friday, and then Rockville Cemetery, Croyden Creek, and Redgate Park on Sunday. All in all, a very nice time.
It started raining about mid-morning and we weren’t sure about going out but decided we’d go regardless. We drove to the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, which we’ve never visited before. They have four fields that they plant with sunflowers, although only two of them were planted this year. I don’t know if that’s normal or not. Sunflower area #4 was the more spectacular of the two (the weeds were taller than the sunflowers in field #2). We saw a few male (and a lot of female) indigo buntings in the field, which was really nice. There were also a lot of gold finches and cardinals on the flowers, as well as butterflies. We walked all the way around field #4 as well as near the ponds on the way to field #1. That field was planted with corn, but we actually enjoyed the ponds quite a bit, with their wildflowers, etc. Highly recommended.
We had our annual family reunion for the first time in two years. I don’t know if you noticed, but the last year was a bit out of the ordinary. You probably heard about it. It was on the news. Anyway, we didn’t meet last year but this year we did. We moved to an outdoor location. For me, this was more like old times, as this is the yard we often camped in when we visited back in the day. The weather cooperated, with lower than normal humidity and not as sweltering as it easily could have been. There were 51 people there in all, aged about 6 months to 90 years, and we managed to get a photo or two of the whole group. Thanks again to all those who put this together and especially to Lyn for all the work he did to give us such a nice place to gather.
The tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium) are blooming. These were all descended from bulbils that we took from lilies growing at my parent’s house. We started with just a couple and the rest came from those. We have them in a few different places in the yard but this is the largest group of them. they stand over six feet tall and they are pretty noticeable. Each year the group gets just a little larger. Last year I collected seeds, as well, although we never did anything with them. I may scatter some on our property in Pennsylvania. They should do well there.
We didn’t do a lot yesterday for Independence Day but we had the day off today so got to go out. It was a typical, hot, muggy July day. Yesterday was actually not as bad as today, when the temperature got up above 90°F. Nevertheless, we got our two moms out and enjoyed sitting outside in the shade, where the temperature was not so bad. Dorothy called while we were there, so it was nice for all of us to be able to talk with her. She and Renee got to Juneau on Saturday evening so were there for their Fourth of July parade.
Cathy and I spent the evening at Rocklands Winery). I was there to take pictures for them, so we invited our good friend Maureen so that Cathy would have a companion when I went off to take pictures. We had burgers from Boxcar Burgers, a food truck that is often there (and if you think you don’t like pickled beets, you really should try a Boxcar Burger. Really good. We also had a glass each of Rocklands’ new Montevideo vintage, a very nice red wine. I’m not really a great person to recommend a wine to anyone, but this was very nice. It was an absolutely lovely evening, not too hot, and everyone there seemed to be having a really nice time. If you’re looking for something to do, you could do worse.
I visited a couple old friends yesterday. I first met them in 1975 and while I don’t see them as often as I might, they are very dear to me. When I was in high school (and before and after that, for more years than I even know) they opened their house to as many high schoolers as wanted to come. I’m pretty sure that at one time it was every week but in my years there, it was once a month. For my group of friends, it was the place to be. We sat in the living room and talked about this and that, good times and hard times and how life is for us in these pandemical days. One of my favorite things was to work on a puzzle in their living room. It was an oasis of calm and quiet amidst the chaos. I could go on and on here, but I won’t. For those who don’t know Paul and Carolyn it wouldn’t mean much and for those who do, it’s not necessary. Suffice it to say they are among the best.
Without going into the details, we were sort of uninvited to a wedding today. Well, on Thursday, but the wedding was today. As a sop, we were invited to view the live-stream at the home of Doug and Kato, who graciously accepted us into their home along with a huge crowd of five other adults and two young boys (not all shown here, obviously).
When I was in Junior High, there was a guy in our Phys. Ed. class who dubbed the lower group—those of us with less athletic ability—the Double-O Nummies. I’m not sure where the name came from, possibly from this guy’s fertile imagination. Anyway, I think we were the Double-O Nummies of wedding guests. Also, the live stream froze just before the bride came down the aisle, so we never saw her or the rest of the ceremony. But the Champagne was cold and we were in an air conditioned house. Just the small thing of not actually seeing the wedding.
Silas had his third birthday earlier this week and we all got together for a family dinner and a birthday party. It had been planned for last weekend but kids and infections don’t necessarily work to a schedule. The weather was nice and we were both inside and out for the party. Iris had a huge bubble wand and made giant bubbles, which Silas and Kaien really loved. We had a nice dinner from Don Pollo and the cake that Iris made for Silas—a rainbow cake with candy in the middle. There was also a piñata and of course. Some of us (well, one of us) even had cicada for dessert.
We met up with Jean today for a walk. I found a new place that we’ve drive by without noticing up until now. It’s just into Virginia and right off the Capitol Beltway on Georgetown Pike. The hike was pleasant, although there’s a significant climb both ways down to the river. This waterfall is where Scott’s Run empties into the Potomac River. We also walked a little way down the river before retracing our steps back to the parking area. It’s a nice, quiet place and we really enjoyed it. Of course, that may have been the company, as much as the location. It’s always good to be with Jean.
We went to the Agricultural Farm Park today, taking Cathy’s mom with us. We went up through the Master Gardeners’ demonstration garden and then sat for a while in the shade garden. It was a beautiful day and really nice to be out. From there we went to Laytonsville and bought ice cream at The Family Room. We were parked in the shade and we sat in the car and watched the bicyclists putting their bikes back onto or into their cars and chatting in the parking lot. All in all, a nice, relaxing afternoon outing.
Last fall, Dorothy joined 11 other young adults as one of the first to participate in Fourth Presbyterian Church’s Fellows program. I posted a photo of the six young women on Monday, October 19, 2020. This evening there was a banquet to end their nine month program and I took a few more pictures. This is the First Fourth Fellows class, the class of 2021. It was great to be invited (even if it was mostly for my camera) and Cathy and I had a nice time hanging out with everyone. From left to right, back row: Clement, Grant, Boyde, Tony, David, and Justin; front row, Emily, Thea, Dorothy, Lydia, Genna, and Elizabeth.
For the first time in over a year, the locals got together for a family dinner without masks. We got together once early last fall but met outdoors and wore masks most of the time. Now that we’re all vaccinated (except for the youngest), we were able to get together and have it be like old times. It only felt strange for a minute and then it seemed normal again. And right. We had a nice dinner but the main thing was being together.
Kaien and Silas were in good form and we enjoyed seeing and holding Eloise, as well. Here’s Kai bouncing on the sofa. Clearly he bounced higher than I expected and this is the only one where his head isn’t completely chopped off. We expect to have many more gatherings like this in the weeks to come. It’s been a crazy year but I think we’re finally coming out of it.
It was duckling rental pick-up day where Dorothy works and we went out to help. Mostly I took pictures but I did help with the actual process for a bit. Cathy did more than I did. But having pictures is nice, of course. This is Luke, nephew of the farmer, and all around cute kid. He and his sister posed for me a few times with ducklings.
The weather was beautiful and we had a great time being out on the farm. It was well organized and went very smoothly, although the place got a little busier when the winery opened. We really enjoyed visiting with folks, especially Glen’s parents and grandparents, and while we were tired by the end of the day, it was a day well spent. Chick rental is coming up, followed by turkey rental. It’s amazing to see how much they grow in a week. Educational and fun. And the kids enjoy it, too!
We visited our friends, Josh and Julia today and met their new dog, Lupin. They’ve moved into a nice house and it was great to see them getting settled in. They also helped us with some furniture moving, which was really nice. We’re trying to get a few things moved out of a storage unit and they got a couple other guys and provided the muscle (to go along with my brains?). Seriously, it’s really a lot easier when you have more people. Coming up on their third anniversary (and it’s already past by the time I’m actually posting this). Happy new house, kids!
We met up with our good friends, Rob and Susie today and went for about a three mile walk through the woods. We were heading towards where we knew there would be Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and it was a lovely walk. We came upon a patch of yellow trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) as seen on Saturday, May 15, 2021. We had to walk further than I expected to get to the bluebells and we could have parked closer, but the walk through the woods was really nice, so it wasn’t a waste.
We didn’t go to the sunrise service today but did go to the 11:00 outdoor service at Fourth Pres. It’s the first time Margaret has been to a morning service since the shutdown began back in March of last year, although she’s been to an evening service. Dorothy went to the sunrise service and then got there early to get us a good spot in the parking lot for the 11:00 service. It was a good service and we were all glad we went. When we got home, we took pictures in the front yard before going in. We don’t have a lot of good photos of the three of us, so I’m glad to have one more.
We had our first official work day at the farm today. There were twenty people there in all. That including two pre-teenagers, although they definitely did their fair share of work. I think people generally had a good time and we got a good amount done. Clearing the inside face of the dam was something that way way overdue and Ted’s crew handled that with the help of the new Stihl pole saw. My crew worked in the overgrown orchard. It’s been so long without being cleared that it’s not even obvious which trees should be there and which are weeds. That will be easier once the leaves are out. We made a really good start, cutting huge multiflora roses and other small shrubs and some trees that I was sure about. Meanwhile, Dorothy’s crew worked in the cabin and did an amazing job cleaning, especially upstairs.
For Christmas, 2010, Cathy gave me a new camera. It was a Canon 60D to replace the 10D that I had been using since 2003. On January 1, 2010 I decided to try my hand at something a co-worker had been doing. It was called Project 365 and the idea was to take at least one photo each day for a year. I posted those photos on Facebook and managed to establish a (very) small but loyal following. At the end of the year I set up this blog and continued taking at least one photo a day. I’ve been doing that for ten years now and I think that’s a pretty good accomplishment.
I have decided that as of today, I will no longer be taking a photo a day. I still expect to take my camera with me when I’m out and I still plan to take pictures, just without the pressure. I figure 3,652 consecutive days and over 180,000 photos is enough. So, some days there will be photos and other days there won’t. To my small but loyal band of followers, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you all.
The first photo in this project (see Saturday, January 1, 2011) was of Cathy and I thought it appropriate that I end ten years with another of her. Yes, we’ve both aged a bit in ten years, but we’re still here. God bless you all.
Dorothy and a few of her friends are flying to Florida to visit another friend for a few days. When they get back they will quarantine together for two weeks. Three of the friends came over this evening to spend the night here so I could take them to the airport early in the morning. While we were all talking I asked if I could take a few photos. This is Genna, one of Dorothy’s housemates and friends. Lydia and Tony also came but didn’t make it in time for the photo.
In fifth grade, Dorothy learned to knit. At the time, she struggled to actually finish anything. She’d get between a half and three quarters of the way done and then she’d pull it apart and start over. I guess I’ve been known to that sort of thing as well, although I’m not generally considered a perfectionist. Anyway, she decided to make a hat for a friend this year as a Christmas present. She stopped by this evening with another friend—Thea—and while she was here she happened to show us the hat.
The hat itself is a bit funny, with a nice shape and a tall peak. They ties a few different things to the end including the small wreath ornament you see here. I specially like the coordination of colors between the wreath and the green yarn that was used in the hat. I got another photo with the wreath turned properly and with Thea’s eye looking through it. Dorothy settled on a tiny little bell as the most appropriate.
We stopped by to bring some things to Dorothy this evening. She and the young women she lives with are self-quarantining because of a possible exposure to Covid (I’m writing this more than two weeks after the fact and they’re all clear). We had stopped at Trader Joe’s but there was a line the length of the building so we didn’t bother with that. We’ll try again when we think it likely to be a little less busy. It was good to see Dorothy, even if we only spoke with her from outside while she stood in the doorway.
Like many families this year, we had a very small Thanksgiving meal today. I’m not fond of turkey and with only four of us, it seemed like a waste to bother with one. So, I roasted a 5.5 pound chicken, stuffed with a pilau with onions, currants, pine nuts, lemon zest, and allspice. We were meant to have green bean casserole but somehow I forgot. We did have a salad, though, as well as two cranberry sauces, the jellied version out of a can and one made from fresh cranberries and an orange, blended together with a little extra sugar.
It’s that time of the year again. Cathy held back a bit this year. In 2017 she planned to make six boxes but that grew into 12. I think that was the high water mark for her. In the last two years she’s kept closer to plan and this year she only went one over her planned four boxes, which is quite an accomplishment for her. It was harder because everything seems harder this year, particularly shopping, but she went on a couple outings to fill her boxes. Since I’m actually posting this more than three weeks after the fact, it’s pretty clear she didn’t pick up any unwanted viruses on her shopping trips, at least not anything with a gestation period shorter than that. We didn’t volunteer at their packing center this year, either. It’s sad that something as worthwhile as this is impacted so much by this pandemic, but there you are. Hopefully next year things will be back to some semblance of normal.
I already shared a picture here from the surprise party we had for Cathy on Sunday. I figured I’d share a picture from her actual birthday dinner, as well. I’m afraid I didn’t fix anything fancy for it. In fact, it’s about as unfancy as they come—frozen pizza—although there was a little leftover Thai, as well. Dorothy came over for dinner and we had a nice evening together. Dorothy, Margaret, and I all gave her a few presents and it was what passes for festive this year.
It’s harder than ever to plan and execute a surprise party this year, but I’m happy to say I pulled it off. It’s a few days yet until her birthday but that’s part of the surprise. Dorothy came over and baked a cake, saying it was for someone else. So Cathy saw her cake being made and was none the wiser. We went for a walk on the C&O Canal from Riley’s lock, which was very nice. Then we went to our friends’ place and visited Janis, who said she had something to show us in the barn. When we got there, the few friends who were up for it were there waiting. We had a terrific Thai meal and the cake that Dorothy made. No birthday hugs but I think a good time was had by all. To those who chickened out, neener-neener.
Cathy has been doing a lot of work lately going through boxes of papers and photos from her mom’s house. When we moved her to out house in 2018, we put a lot of things in boxes to be dealt with when there was more time. For a while we didn’t really have the energy to deal with them but we’ve finally started in on them and are making some progress. The box Cathy’s going through here is mostly photos that aren’t that old, with pictures of Dorothy and her cousins. The number of photographs to be dealt with is truly staggering but we have to start somewhere.
After work I drove out to Rocklands, where the Fourth Fellows were gathering for their weekly meal together. I had talked with David yesterday and he said he’d love to have some pictures of them. I took quite a few, including the whole group, but I’m particularly happy with those I got of the six you women in the group. From left to right, they are Thea, Dorothy, Genevieve, Elizabeth, Lydia, and Emily. It was a lovely evening and I was allowed to stay for dinner, which was an added bonus.
We had some friends over for dinner on the back patio this evening and I built a nice fire to keep us warm and to provide light when it got dark. Each of us had our own carry-out dinners and we sat relatively far apart. Nevertheless, it was good to be in actual company with others. I think I speak for everyone that it was a really enjoyable evening. From left to right, these are Josh, Julia, Maureen, and Bob. Cathy is out of the picture and of course I was taking it, so I’m out, as well.
We haven’t had an in-person family dinner night since early February. We’ve had occasional Zoom get-togethers but seriously, as nice as that is, it doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing. It’s been too hot to seriously consider doing it until recently. Now that Dorothy is home and the evenings are cool, we thought it was just about time. So, everyone came over, bringing picnic meals of one sort or another, and we sat on lawn chairs and blankets in the back yard. Everyone wore masks, except for while eating, obviously, and we stayed a bit apart. Nevertheless, it was really good to have everyone in one place again.
I took bunch of pictures of Iris, Seth, and their two kids but I’ll leave those for them to post, if they want to. I also took a few of sweet, little Eloise, but you know what? Older siblings tend to get ignored for a while after their younger siblings are born. So, here’s a photo of Silas, age 2¼. And if you’re wondering about the strap, he’s carrying a camera!
William and Beth drove down for a visit today and it was so nice to have them here. With the whole Wuhan virus quarantine going on, we are somewhat starved for human contact. Having people visit is a risk, of course. We’re at the point, however, that we need to see people and this was exactly the sort of visit that we needed. Cathy talked a lot with them about family history, and they all looked at pictures. We showed them the work we’re doing with Margaret’s memoirs and with the big scanning project that we’re ramping up.
Cathy and I went to see Iris and Seth’s new baby this afternoon. Naturally we stayed outside, but I was still able to take a few photographs. Silas didn’t want to take his mask off so although I got a few of Iris and Seth with Eloise sans mask, the full family grouping is all masked up. I think it’s a pretty cute picture, although without context, in years to come, someone is going to wonder why they were wearing masks. Anyway, mother and daughter (and father and brother) are doing well.
It’s summer here in Maryland and with it come the summer colors. Cathy often plants containers with a mixture of annual and perennials plants for the patio but this year I think she’s outdone herself. The patio is surrounded by black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) and that adds quite a nice backdrop to all the containers. To Cathy’s left, above the red tea pot, are cana lilies and a beautiful, bright red Pelargonium (a.k.a. geranium). The yellow and orange in the lower middle are purslane and there’s more of that in the bottom right, hear the elephant’s trunk. The hanging basket in the upper left is Lantana camara. As you can see, there’s a fair amount going on in the large, central bed. The garden against the fence has been dug out and almost completely restarted. It should be nice in a year or two, though.
It was a work day today but as usual, a few times during the day we took a break from work and went outside briefly. It’s been hot, with about three weeks with high temperatures above 90° That’s not really our favorite thing, but the flowers blooming in the yard get us out, at least a little. Here’s Cathy at the south end of the house with some bee balm (Monarda didyma, the magenta flowers behind her), orange tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium, off her right shoulder), Blackberry Lilies (Iris domestica, the slightly paler orange lower down and further to her right), and some purple butterfly bush (Buddleia). There are two roses on the frame against the wall but they are mostly without blooms right now.
Cathy and I were able to get into mom’s gated community today and had a nice visit. We had our temperature taken when we arrived and again when we left and we didn’t actually go inside her building. We visited with her on a bench out front, which was pleasant enough. She showed us the quite she’s almost finished making. It’s for the Ramallah Friends School in Ramallah, in the West Bank, about 8 miles north of Jerusalem. The children at her Friends meeting drew robots and she incorporated their drawings into the quilt. I think it’s turned out quite nicely. For the last third of a year (exactly today), we have only seen her via video chat, except for two times when we met on opposite sides of the fence so she could pass out some tax documents (and one of those times it was pouring rain). It was good to be able to just sit and chat.
Dorothy gave me a set of four prints for Christmas. Three of them are portraits of the three of us, herself, Cathy, and me. The fourth was also of her so technically a portrait but it’s her walking and not facing the viewer. Anyway, she asked me to take photos of them for her and I did. She also said I could use one of those as my photo for the day. So, while I took this photograph, the actual content isn’t mine.
Of course the actual content of most of my photographs isn’t mine. I just photograph what I see. Sometimes it’s a man-made object and sometimes it’s something found in nature. Rarely is it a me-made object and even then, I only make things with materials that already exist. I like these prints and I think I like the one of me the best, which sounds egotistical but I think it’s the best of the three technically and I just like the way it looks.
Iris and Seth moved into their new house today. We went over last night and got a van load of things and took that over with Seth. Shortly after we dropped him off at the apartment he called to say he decided to hire movers to help with this morning’s move. He already had a truck rented and the two of us could have managed everything but it sure was nice not having to lift anything heavier than a box of dishes. The truck he got would have held everything but we used our van for most of the boxes and oddly shaped items. The furniture and few larger boxes went in the truck. By 1:00 we were done, everything was in the house and by the time we left, the shelves from Ikea were back together again and up in the living room and it was looking like a home already. It was just about the easiest move I’ve ever helped with (and I’m not complaining!).
The local family got together this evening for Chinese New Year. Tsai-Hong and Iris picked up food from two different places and we had a wonderful meal. Of course, being with family is the best part of an evening like this and I try not to let the occasion pass without taking at least a few photographs. With two grand-nephews to photograph, I try to balance them out, posting first one and then the other. The last photo I posted was of both of them but I think it’s Silas’s turn. This is a pretty nice photo, in any case.
Chinese New Year was often a fun time when I was a kid. We’d go downtown and watch the parade on H Street and then have a Chinese meal in one of the restaurants in the area. We went there once with Dorothy and my parents in 2009. The parade and meal were nice but they never set off the long string of fire crackers that are such fun for kids (of all ages) because the fire marshal suspected a gas leak somewhere nearby. As disappointed as I was, I suppose I’d have been more disappointed has they been lit and there was a gas leak that caused an explosion.
Dorothy’s friend, Jackson, came to dinner this evening. He graduated from college along with Dorothy and got a job in New York. That’s great, of course, although living in New York isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. He’s traveled a bit and was here last week on business. Dorothy had dinner with him then and invited him to dinner this week, when he was in town again. Although he’s living in Queens, he’s commuting most weekends back to the Boston area to see his fiancée. She’s living near their alma mater and working in Cambridge.
After dinner (a Thai curry) I asked Jackson if I could take his picture for my photo of the day. He agreed and this is, I think, the best of them. I took some with him smiling and they are good, too, but I like this one. He’s hoping to be able to transfer to a Boston office this summer. Then, he and Megan are planning a September wedding. He brought an invitation from her to Dorothy to be bridesmaid.
Cathy and I have not had Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday for many years. The company where we work has decided that starting this year, we will be honoring the day and so, for the first time in many years, we were off work for that today. We wanted to do something outdoors and talked through a lot of options. Then Dorothy suggested we go to “the island with the box with the hand sticking out of the top.” When I was young, we went to this island in our little jon boat (there was no bridge or causeway in the mid 1960s). In the center of the island was a huge wooden box with a brass hand sticking out of the top of it. We know the proper name for the island, of course, but we still refer to it, and now Dorothy does, too, in this somewhat more colorful manner. Our friends Bob and Maureen joined us for the outing and we had a lovely time on a lovely day.
We had a family dinner night this evening, with carry-out from The Big Greek Cafe, one of our favorites. They boys were in top form. First, they both got behind the curtains and then jumped out to surprise us and laugh. Late we asked them to climb up on a chair together. As is usual when trying to photograph youngsters, it was hard to get them both smiling and looking at the camera at the same time. Nevertheless, there were quite a few that turned out well and I think their parents will enjoy them all. This is my personal favorite, although I liked others pretty well, too.
We drove down to Tyson’s this evening and met our friend Jean for dinner. It’s always good to get together with her and it was especially nice to be able to hear about her new job and all that was going on with her family. Of course a new job can bring anxiety but so far things seem to be going well. She’ll be quite busy, learning the ropes and it’s a fairly high-pressure office, but we’re confident she can handle it. Unsurprisingly we also talked about our kids and other things that are going on. She brought us some wonderful treasures as Christmas presents, but I won’t make you jealous by telling you more about those.
On fifteen of the last seventeen new year’s days we have gotten together with a slightly varying group of people. Most of those years we were hosted by Amy although we hosted for a few of them. We were at Amy’s again this year and this is the crew. We had our traditional fondue lunch, with three pots for meat fondue and one for cheese. That’s one of the few things that has been constant through all the years. Anyway, this was and is a great way to start a new year. This also begins year ten for my photo blog. I’m hoping my camera can make it through another year of this. The expected life for the shutter in my camera is only 100,000 shots and I’m more than 70% over that (this image is number 173,093) so I feel like I’m living on borrowed time.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Dorothy doesn’t particularly like to have her photo taken. This evening, when I mentioned that I hadn’t taken any pictures today, she was nice enough to offer to let me take her photo. I only took five shots (not wanting to press my luck). One of them has what she describes as a fake smile. One had no smile at all. Actually, I considered using that one. Nevertheless, I chose this one, which has a sort of half smile. It’s not a “laughing at a good joke” smile but it’s a “I’m pleased” smile. If you know Dorothy, you know this smile and appreciate it.
As 2019 draws to a close, I looked back and the photo I took on December 29, 2010. It also was a photo of Dorothy. Her hair was cut relatively short and was a bit wild (the caption was “Dorothy’s Bad Hair”). From that day to this, I have taken at least one photo every day. While my “official” Project 365 began on January 1, 2011, I took photos the three days leading up to that, so I have completed nine years and begun year ten. Will I finish a tenth year? I have no idea. The future, like the past is another country.
Dorothy’s (and our) good friends Andrew and Rachel stopped at our house on their way home from visiting with her family for Christmas. We had a nice dinner and then sat around a roaring fire and talked about all sorts of things. I took quite a few photos of the fire but only a handful of the three of them. Neither Dorothy nor Rachel particularly like to have their photo taken. I got it over with early so they could relax. We really enjoyed having them visit and look forward to seeing them again.
As noted, Darius is here. We have really enjoyed having him and David here and it really has “made Christmas fun again” as Dorothy had hoped. We were hoping to have Maggie here, as well, and that would have made it all the better, but forces beyond our control prevented that. Nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves. After the long day yesterday with stocking and presents at our house and then the big meal and larger family get together at mom’s (with a few more presents), we were pretty tired. So, today we didn’t do a lot. Mostly we just hung out and visited and played with Darius. No outings (except a quick trip to the grocery store) and no planned activities. They leave tomorrow (which means they already left by the time I’m writing this), and we’ll be sad to see them go.
Cathy’s brother and nephew arrived late Saturday evening and we will have them with us until Friday morning, when they will head back home. Darius has gotten quite a bit taller in the 15 or so months since we saw him last. I suspect he might appear in another photo before the week is out but in the evening today I realized I hadn’t taken any photos so asked him if I could take a few of him. We’re really glad to have David and Darius here for Christmas.
Last year was a very different Christmas because both of her grandmothers were no longer in the houses Dorothy grew up going to for Christmas. We did our best but it simply wasn’t the same. She came up with a plan to ‘Make Christmas Fun Again’ as she put it. This involved inviting all her out of town cousins and other relatives here for the holiday. As it worked out, there were fewer than there might have been, but it was still a big deal that David and Darius came, driving from New Mexico in two days. We’re still expecting another cousin, Maggie, to come for ‘Second Christmas.’
Some of us got together for dinner this evening at mom’s. Iris, Seth, and Silas were still out of town. We were waiting for David and Darius to get here but they expected to be after 10:00 (they got here at about 11:20). After dinner, as we usually do, we went up to mom’s apartment and talked. Kai played on the hobby horse. Mom had pictures of him and of Silas on this in her Christmas card, as well as pictures of her and her sister on the same horse, over 80 years ago. As you can see, Kai is doing a pretty good imitation of someone enjoying himself.
We had our group’s Christmas party this afternoon and evening. It’s technically a holiday party, since we aren’t allowed to mention Christmas at work, for fear of offending someone (and not everyone celebrates Christmas, of course). Bue we all know what it is. Our group, which is made up of mostly technical people who provide programming and computer support to project teams, is something over 100 people and it was a pretty good crowd this year. We went to Dave & Buster’s new location at the Rio and had a surprisingly good buffet meal. We all got game cards and this is a photo of Terry, one of my coworkers, playing Space Invaders.
I published a photo of myself a couple days ago. Today you get my better half. Cathy’s usually very kind to let me take her photo if it’s late in the evening and I haven’t taken anything that day. This evening she was relaxing on the sofa and we had been watching an episode of Time Team on YouTube when I got my camera out. The first two she was reclining and though they turned out well enough, she liked this one better, after she sat up straighter.
She’s only just smiling with her mouth, but her eyes are certainly smiling. After more than 35 years together, we often don’t need to actually speak to be able to communicate. We’ve become that old couple that just looks at each other and laughs. I guess there are things a lot worse that that to be accused of. Anyway, we’ve become accustomed to each other’s faces, with the subtle changes they’ve each gone through over the years.
I don’t often post pictures of my self (the so-called ‘selfie’) but I figured if I’m going to, it might as well be done on an occasion such as this. I was going to title this post “A Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man” but decided that was a little pretentious. Also, I’ve never read anything by James Joyce and if I’m going to mess with his title, I should at least know what he was about. So, “Self-Portrait” will have to do. I don’t particularly like photographs of myself and I recognize that it’s unfair of me to force others to let me take photos of them when I don’t like to let others take photos of me. Part of it is that they tell me to smile when I’m already smiling. Part of the problem is that the mustache makes it harder to see my mouth. Another part is that while I smile with regularity, it’s hard to do when called upon and make it look natural. But I think this one turned out well enough.
I went with Cathy, Aaron, and Alice to the Operation Christmas Child processing center this evening Cathy’s annual evening of processing boxes. She’s been many times but this was my first time. Aaron has also gone with her a few times before. We had a good time and got a fair amount done. Along with the hundreds of other volunteers today, we processed 64,795 boxes going to Malawi and Togo. That’s a pretty respectable number. It’s a fairly loud and hectic place but everyone is generally in a good mood and there is plenty of laughter. We were impressed by a few large collections of boxes filled by individual groups, especially one where each box had a hand knitted item, obviously made with much love.
We met Jean for dinner this evening in Falls Church, at a place called Fava Pot. It’s quite good and the servings are generous. We’ve only been twice, as it’s not really in our neighborhood, but it was a good meeting place between our two homes. Jean starts a new job on Monday and is a little anxious about that but we’re looking forward to hearing about how well it goes. Naturally we also talked about our children and what they’re up to. It was a good time and we were certainly glad to get together with her before she’s busy with the new job. Sorry for the exposure. I decided to not use flash for this, so the lighting was a bit rough.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. We had a really nice time and a great meal. I’m not actually a huge fan of turkey but it’s what’s done so that’s fine. Mom bought and I cooked a 19+ pounder and it turned out pretty well, if I say so myself. It was good to have the family here and the only thing I could have asked for was having Dorothy home. She comes home soon, though, and I’m looking forward to that. She originally was planning to come back for Thanksgiving but decided to extend a few weeks and that’s fine, of course. Here’s the family that was here.
Between our trip to Alaska and various other commitments on weekends, we haven’t seen most of the family for quite some time. It was really nice getting together with mom, Tsai-Hong, Steve, Kai, Iris, and Silas for dinner this evening and then to have a chance to talk and take pictures of the boys back in mom’s apartment. The boys generally take a while to warm up to me when we get together. Kai takes less time, mostly because he’s older and more likely to remember me from one visit to the next, but even he is shy at first. His younger cousin, Silas, is still much more hesitant and bashful.
I got a few good pictures of each of them, though, including this one of Kai. He has a mischievous streak—not uncommon in children—that’s very endearing and cute. I’m really enjoying watching him grow.
Back in 1998 we met Jan for the first time. Our friend Susie organized a surprise for Rob’s birthday and we flew to Phoenix along with other friends and it was there we met Jan for the first time. Since then we’ve traveled together a few other times, including a big trip to Italy two years later and we’ve seen her occasionally over the years. Dorothy stayed with her when she was in California this summer. Jan was in town for the Navy football game and an event honoring fallen US Naval Academy alumni, including her brother. We were excited to get together with Jan and Rob for dinner at the Pines of Rome in Bethesda. Sadly (except she does enjoy traveling) Susie was in Warsaw Otherwise she would have tben there, too.
We went for another walk in the woods today, further upstream in the same watershed. After church we walked through the Stadtman Preserve and down to Mill Creek. As we were coming down the hill we saw a fox, which was pretty cool. There was not much chance we’d be able to get close enough for a good photo so I didn’t even bother trying. We followed Mill Creek down towards Lake Needwood. I took this photo of Cathy standing next to the creek a little ways into the walk.
It was cool but not cold, with a light overcast. Cathy wore a jacket although I was in my shirt sleeves (and they were rolled up, at that). It was very peaceful and pleasant. There was one area where we could hear traffic on the inter-county connector (Maryland 200) but for the most part, it was as quiet as you could hope for.
After a while we decided to cross to the south side of the creek, where there is a regular path. It isn’t heavily used but there is a small bridge over a side stream and we did see one other person on that side of the creek. This photo was taken shortly after we crossed the creek and a little before the spot where we turned around. I’m pretty pleased with this photo. I think the leaning trees give it a little interest. The colors were quite nice, too.
I didn’t have a map with me and hadn’t looked at one any time recently. If I had, I’d have known how close we were to Lake Needwood. Where we turned around, if we had just gone around the next bend, we’d have come out at the northern end of the lake. We’ll definitely want to do that walk again and go a little further.
We went to see Cathy’s best friend (and my good friend) Jean this evening. She wanted to take us out for Cathy’s upcoming birthday but instead I brought things and made panang curry, brown rice, and roasted cauliflower with caraway seeds. I don’t mind going out for a meal, of course, but it’s easier to visit in a home and I don’t mind cooking, especially something that I can make without too much thought. Jean gave Cathy a card (that she’s holding in this photo) and this ‘wonderful’ tray for eating in bed. The note on the tray says, “A Priceless Antique . . . from back in the day when being a troll was NOT a bad thing!”
It’s our last evening in Juneau and we went out to dinner with our good friends Brian and Lisa and their son Nathaniel. This photo was taken by Nathaniel’s girlfriend, Alex and it’s nice to have a picture with all of us in it. We were sad to be leaving and could easily have been happy staying another week or even two. We’ve know Brian and Lisa since early 1986 and Dorothy’s been living with them since she arrived in mid July. I’d say it’s been very good for her to be here, although not without its struggles. But as a wise man once said, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.”
This photo wasn’t taken by me, but I’ve already posted two photos from today that I did take, so I think I can get away with it. I don’t appear in many photographs and for the most part, that’s my preference. Nevertheless, I’m trying to learn that if I want to expect others to let me take their picture, I need to be willing to return the favor. Dorothy took this with my camera and while I don’t think it’s a particularly good photo of me, it’s at least evidence that I was there. Nugget falls is larger than it looks in this photo. The reality is that we’re quite a ways from it. If we walked so that we were right below it, you’d see how high it really is. I have a few photos like that, but this isn’t one of them, so you’ll just have to trust me, or better yet, go visit it for yourself.
We have a very fond and somewhat funny memory from the winter of 1986-87. It was on a relatively mild day in February when Cathy, Brian, Lisa, and I drove out to the glacier. There was eight to ten inches of snow on the ice on Mendenhall Lake and there were kids sledding on the hills of glacial moraine. Brian, Lisa, and Cathy walked out into the snow on the ice wearing boots and their bathing suits. The took off the boots and settled on a blanket laid on the snow (which naturally sank into the snow when they sat down. I took a handful of photographs of them, pretending it was a lovely day. Actually, for February in Juneau, clear skies make it a lovely day, regardless of the temperature. Anyway, here’s Cathy, 32 years later, in front of the Mendenhall, although she was dressed warmer today than she was on that day in February.
Cathy and I began a ten day trip today, getting up at 3:40, driving to the commuter parking lot on Georgia Avenue and catching the 4:21 bus to BWI airport. That was the beginning of a 23 hour journey spanning four time zones. Our first flight left BWI at 7:00 AM EDT and arrived in Los Angeles at 9:45 PDT. Add three hours to that for the time zone change and we were in the air about 5 hours and 45 minutes. We had an equally long layover in LAX, not leaving until 2:40 for Seattle. We walked nearly two miles from terminal 6 through tunnels under terminal 5 and then up and through terminal 4 to the Tom Bradley International Terminal (a.k.a., Terminal B), walking the length of that (and back). That wore us out but also passed a good bit of time.
This photo, taken from Terminal 6, is of Cathy resting her ankle briefly with a view of “The Theme Building” in the background. We had lunch and then went to our terminal ahead of boarding. You know how in airports there are often announcements where a person is named, but it’s never you so you don’t pay attention? While we were waiting for our flight, the woman on the PA called my name and asked me to come to the service desk. Needless to say, I was surprised. I was even more surprised when I went to the counter and she handed me my driver’s license. It had been in my pocket and apparently fell out. The amazing thing is that not only was it found but someone went to the trouble to find out where my next flight was leaving from and get it there. I didn’t know it was even lost until it was returned. Needless to say, I was pretty thankful.
I’m getting pretty far behind on posting photos here. Never fear, I’ve been taking photos and they will make it eventually. I can tell you now there are some nice pictures ahead (as well as some that are not terribly exciting, I’m afraid). Anyway, we had a family dinner night and the boys were there, Kaien and Silas. Both continue to grow and are becoming their own individuals. Kai really enjoys bouncing on the hobby horse and is getting fairly comfortable really bouncing. Silas is a bit more reserved and cautious, which is fine, of course, as he’s quite a bit younger. I like this photo of him, in which he isn’t exactly smiling exuberantly, but which is still a good picture. He’s a sweet boy and fun to play with. We hadn’t gotten together for a while for various reasons, including that Tsai-Hong was traveling in Africa. When we go longer between seeing each other, he takes a little longer to open up when we do.
We drove to Virginia today and Margaret met two friends for lunch at a Persian restaurant called Shamshiry. The name comes from comes from the Farsi word for a curved sword from the Middle East. While they had lunch, Cathy and I ran some errands. We tried to go to a bakery but were stymied by an Octoberfest that had some streets closed to auto traffic. We made our way around that and headed back to pick up Margaret. I took a few photos of her with her friends, Shaima, and Inez, one of which is my photo for today.
Margaret had an unexpected call from and visit by some friends today. Unexpected, but very welcome. Henry and Dieu live in Florida, which is the main reason the visit was so unexpected. They happened to be in town visiting family and came to say hello to Margaret while they were here. They came with Henry’s sister, brother-in-law, and uncle and it was lovely to see them. It was nice to get caught up on their lives and that of their son, Phillip, who is a couple months younger than Dorothy. They posed for a few quick pictures with Margaret before they left.
We went to lunch for Margaret’s birthday today, meeting two of her friends for Iranian kebabs at a place in Germantown called Johnny’s Kabobs (an valid alternative spelling, apparently). Their menu is a bit more extensive than Moby Dick, a local chain, but similar otherwise. It wasn’t particularly busy but that meant that I didn’t have to bother other customers by using my flash, so I was able to take a few pictures. This one is, I think the best, although one of the heads in this photo came from a different exposure. Getting four people to smile all at once is harder than it ought to be.
Cathy and I drove up to George and Carmela’s today for a short visit. We had no trouble with traffic and we made pretty good time. We didn’t stay long but George had prepared a really nice lunch with homemade sourdough bread with robust olive oil spread on it and then covered with ripe, fresh tomatoes and sprinkled with feta cheese and Sicilian oregano. Obviously there are a lot of good flavors but fresh, very ripe tomatoes, served at room temperature, have to be right up there. These were wonderful and the corn on the cob as good, too. Of course, the visit was the main thing, and it was nice to have a few hours together before we turned around and drove home.
Cathy and I have been trying to recover from the small amount of work we did in the garden in 2018. This year has been mostly recovery mode without a lot of additions but a lot of pulling and digging, trying to get at least some parts of the garden back to more garden plants than weeds. It’s an up hill battle. Along the back fence there was a huge stand of goldenrod, pokeweed, and bindweed. Cathy dug up a bunch of roots a few weeks back and we worked a bit more on it this weekend. As you can see, the central bed is full of black-eyed Susan’s and we have the volunteer American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) growing there (the purple berries on the left). We dug out a bunch of weeds there last week, as well. Tomorrow I plan to dig up some roots that remain from the maple trees that used to be there.
Thirty-five years ago, Cathy and I were married. Has it been magical? I’m not sure I’d go that far. But it’s been pretty darn good and I think we’ve shown we’re in it for the long haul. I won’t say there haven’t been any rough times but over all I’d say we’ve done pretty well. There have been trials from outside and we’ve weathered those together. There have been trials from within and we’ve made it through those, also. I lean on her, she leans on me, and so far we’ve managed to stay standing, even if we stagger from time to time. I won’t claim to be a magnificent catch, but I try to do my part and she seems to be okay with me. Of course, as in all relationships that are worth anything, we try to remember to set aside a little time for silliness. Humor, which often means sarcasm, is a big part of the equation. Anyway, the deal was supposed to be that we’d grow old together. As you can see from the photo, she’s not growing old as fast as I am, which I think is a little unfair.
I met Tsai-Hong, Iris, Seth, and Silas at mom’s this evening for dinner. My back has improved quite a bit and I actually put in seven hours work from home. I did take a break to ice my back and I tried to get up and move around now and then. I came to mom’s without my camera bag, though, because it’s a bit heavy and that would be asking for trouble. I did bring my camera and flash, though, because I knew Silas would be there and as you can see, he was in a pretty good mood this evening.
With my back still bothering me, I stayed home today. I did put in a little time at work, mostly a long phone call to discuss a proposal that is being written for a project that includes a web site. When Cathy got home from work I asked if I could take her picture for my photo of the day. She agreed and I took almost two dozen shots of het with her flowers. Most obvious are the Rudbekia (the Black-eyed Susans). There is also orange and yellow butterfly weed Asclepius tuberosa) on the right. In front of that is the pale pink spider flower (Cleome). There are other annuals in pots and there is the red teapot lower down.
We had our annual family reunion on the way home from the beach this year. It alternates between the Saturday we head down and the Saturday we head home. Either way, it makes for a long day but I for one really enjoy it and it’s one of the highlights of my year. I manage to keep in pretty good touch with a few of my second cousins and it’s good to see them face to face. We didn’t take a large group photo today but I got pictures that included most, if not all the 50 or so people there. We did get pictures of the five remaining first cousins, who were all there.
As usual, we took a family photo at the beach on the last day when everyone was still there (George and Carmela left shortly after the photo was taken). Tsai-Hong and Cathy had gone for a walk and were a long time getting back, which created some tension. Of course they were understandably not anxious to sit for a picture the moment they got back. They had walked to the far end of the island and back, covering over eight miles. The weather cooperated, though, as the light overcast meant we didn’t have to squint into the sun or put our faces in shadow by facing away.
We have one evening each year where we all go out to dinner together, both our family and my Uncle George’s family. We were 26 for dinner this evening and if you’ve ever gone to a restaurant and said, “party of 26” you’ll have some idea what that’s like. Actually, this restaurant, the Inlet View outside of Shallotte, North Carolina, is pretty well equipped for groups that size. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to go early, if you don’t want a really long wait. After dinner we tried to get a photo of the youngest generation. Taking a picture of four children aged between just over a year and not quite five is a challenge, and this is about as good as I was able to get. At least none of them are screaming.
It’s interesting how differently children react to things. Take the beach, for instance, and the waves from the ocean. Silas seems to really love the water and is happy sitting at the edge of the surf, letting the water come to him. His cousin is more apprehensive. I have no doubt that Kaien will grow into a love for the water to match his father’s but for now, he’s not so sure. Of course, a year from now, Silas might have traded his enjoyment for a more cautious approach. Every kid is different and even one kid changes from year to year. But for now, this little man is enjoying the beach.
I got an email this morning from Rob who asked if we were interested in having dinner this evening. That by itself was enough, but he also mentioned that Ian and Annie were visiting from France. Naturally we were happy to be included. Many years ago Susie organized a surprise birthday trip for Rob and we were included on that trip. We have traveled with them a few other times on other surprise birthday trip, including a huge surprise trip for Cathy to Venice and Florence, Italy. We don’t see Ian and Annie as often any more, as they’ve been living in France, but it’s great when we get the chance. We don’t even see Rob and Susie as often as we’d like and we need to make more of an effort. But when we do get together, it’s always worth it. It just seems so natural to be together.
The locals got together for a family brunch early this afternoon and then went to mom’s apartment to visit for a while and to enjoy watching her great grandchildren play. Since I saw him last, Silas has begun to walk. He’s not walking all the time yet, but he’s taken multiple, intentional steps. It’s been fun watching him progress and I look forward to continuing. His older cousin was there, as well, and I got pictures of him, too. I probably should keep track and try to balance out who gets their picture posted but I frankly can’t be bothered. They’re both adorable little boys and I enjoy them both.
As you may remember, we spent much of 2018 cleaning out Cathy’s mom’s house and getting it ready to sell. It went on the market the first week of September and we had a contract a couple months later. There were some delays going to closing but we got there on March 1 of this year and I think everyone was satisfied with the deal. The buyers, Ugo and Jennifer, were very nice and invited us to an Independence Day cookout. There was some rain but that didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. The smaller kids certainly didn’t mind, as they were playing in the inflatable water slide that Ugo and Jennifer had set up in the side yard. Before we left, they posed with Margaret for a few pictures. We had a good time talking with a few different people and of course it’s hard to go wrong with burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, and barbecued chicken.
I happened to be upstairs today and my friend and coworker Katie told me that she was going to pick up her daughter from art camp and bringing her back to the office for the rest of the day. I asked if she would mind if I took some pictures. I’ve done that off and on for years and it’s fun to look back through them and see how she’s grown. Today’s picture is with another friend and coworker, Kasia. I think this one turned out quite well. I don’t take a lot of pictures at work, as that’s not really something that’s done, but occasionally I do and I appreciate having at least some photographic record of people I’ve worked with.
When I was little we bounced on this hobby horse, made with a truck leaf spring to provide the bounce. Technically it isn’t 100% the same as the one we bounced on, as the spring has been replaced. It broke when an adult who shall remain nameless bounced on it, somewhere around 30 years ago. Although she doesn’t really have room for it there, mom has it in her apartment. Silas isn’t old enough to hold on and bounce on his own but he really enjoyed bouncing on it with his mom holding him. He’s a happy kid, in general, and smiles a lot, but watching his face while being bounced on the horse was so precious. Silas continues growing apace and although he’s not quite walking as of today, it’s definitely in the any-day-now category.
Steve and his family were out of town for the weekend so it was a smaller group for dinner this evening, but a really nice time.
We went to the annual Erick’s Hope (http://erickshope.org/) benefit this evening and it was good to see people that we don’t see nearly often enough. That’s our fault, of course, we just get busy and forget to schedule anything and time goes by and it doesn’t happen. When something is on the calendar and we go, it reminds us and we try to do a little better, but life seems to be pretty crowded these days. Of course today we had Dorothy and Abba with us, who leave tomorrow on their cross-country adventure, so we didn’t want to stay out too late. But we didn’t want to miss it, either. Two of the people we always enjoy seeing are Amy and Melanie, who we can generally count on seeing as they manage the silent auction.
As mentioned yesterday, we went to southern Virginia for a wedding. This is one of the pictures I took at the wedding, with Maria and Evan, now husband and wife, recessing after the ceremony. The weather was pretty good. A little warm for my taste but then, if I was comfortable, most everyone else would have been shivering. There was the threat of rain but it held off and everything went beautifully. Maria was even more lovely than ever and the wedding went off with only one hitch (they got hitched). Here’s to the happy couple.
Our good friend Maria is getting married tomorrow and we drove to southern Virginia this afternoon. We offered to transport a few things so we stopped in northern Virginia to pick up two corn hole games, a croquet set, four trash cans, and 14 plants, plus a few other odds and ends. We had hoped to have my mom’s Toyota minivan but alternator trouble meant we went in the Mercury Villager, instead, which is a bit smaller. We managed to get everything in, although Dorothy had a mandevilla on the end of the back seat with her.
We had a family dinner at mom’s this evening and both of the youngest generation were in top form. Kai is really starting to be able to communicate well and he was willing to pose with his dad for some pictures. Getting them both looking at the camera and smiling at the same time is as hard as you might imagine but this one turned out quite well. Silas took what you might argue was his first step this evening. He stands withoug holding on pretty well. Basically, he moved his left foot to keep his balance and I’m counting that as taking a step.
As the weekend wound down, we had a busy but nice Sunday. After church we had a very nice lunch with Emiko and her family at a house they had rented for the weekend. It was really nice to get to know them a bit better. After that we returned to the art gallery to dismantle Dorothy’s installation. Before taking it down I took a series of photographs of various parts of the piece. I have overall views taken two weeks ago but I wasn’t able to get many closeups then. With a tripod and a bit of time, I was able to get them, some from the top of a scaffolding, so I wasn’t looking up from the floor. Then we pulled all the pins and collected the various pictures, booklets, and related paraphernalia that made up much of the piece. The painted portions will be painted over, of course. If you were not able to see it, I’m sorry, it is gone forever.
But not without photographic evidence.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Dorothy graduated from college this weekend. We arrived in the rain at about 2:30 on yesterday (Friday) and after a little while went to the Baccalaureate service from 5:00 to 6:30 or so. When we came out, the sky had cleared and it was cool and quite beautiful out. We had been invited to dinner at the home of one of Dorothy’s friends and that was a really nice time, relaxing and comfortable, eating pizza out of their boxes, as it was meant to be eaten.
Today, the sky remained clear and cloudless. In fact, if anything, it was a little too warm and we all got a bit of sunburn. But it was a glorious day for an outdoor graduation ceremony. The students went across the stage in groups, alphabetically by their departments. The Art Department was first, and Dorothy was the fourth graduating senior to cross the stage. She was met there by our friend, Doug, who was there as a member of the Board of Trustees. He stayed long enough to walk off the stage with Dorothy before heading to the airport to catch his flight home.
Of course, one problem with being right at the beginning of the ceremony is that the rest of the time you don’t really have anything to do. That’s not to say I didn’t take any more pictures, of course, because we’ve gotten to know some of Dorothy’s friends and I tried to get pictures of them crossing the stage, as well. I got some good pictures (as well as plenty that aren’t all that great) but I did my best. The sun was pretty intense, which made it a little harder. After the 180 minute program, there was a serious amount of milling about and a lot more opportunity for pictures of Dorothy with her friends. It took us all a little while to find each other but eventually we managed it. First up is this picture of Dorothy with her mom, who is obviously and rightly proud of Dorothy for all she’s done in the four years she’s been at Gordon.
As an art major, obviously the Art Department played a significant role for her. I know she’ll keep in touch with a lot of her friends but it’s less likely that she’ll be actively in touch with her three art professors. Nevertheless, I wanted to get a picture of her with them. She had asked about the stoles that many graduates were given to wear. She was told that the art students could were stoles if they made them. As you can see, they made them for professors James Zingarelli, Bruce Herman, and David West, as well.
After the pictures with her professors, we took quite a few with Dorothy’s friends, as you might expect. Jonathan, on the right in this photo, lived with us the summer before last. It was nice to be able to watch him graduate and especially nice to meet his parents, who came all the way from Malaysia, arriving just in time for yesterday’s service. Andrew and Dorothy have been very good friends and together form the musical team known as Kinsman.
This picture of Dorothy with Rachel and Taylor sort of goes with the previous one. Rachel is engaged to Andrew and their wedding is in two weeks. Dorothy will be there for that and is one of Rachel’s bridesmaids. Taylor and Jonathan are dating, as well. We’ve only recently gotten to know Andrew, Rachel, and Taylor very well in the last year, but are glad to know them and feel like Dorothy has some really high quality friends.
Eventually we left the campus and headed back to the house where Dorothy lived this year. Sadly, the school is selling Dexter house, so they will be the last cohort of students to live there. Needless to say, there was joy and sadness as they said farewell to each other. They are headed in all different directions, both in the short term and the long term. One is leaving for Israel tomorrow, another for Iceland. I don’t know where all the others are going next but this was a really tight-knit group and I won’t be surprised if they join up as a group in the years ahead.
Finally we went to a party given by the local families of a few of Dorothy’s friends. Bob and Barb hosted and there were a lot of students there with their families. It was a casual affair with plenty to eat and lots to talk about. I especially enjoyed getting to know the parents of a few of Dorothy’s friends, some of whom I’d have to describe as “our people.” This is a time of transition and that can be scary and uncertain, but one thing is sure. Dorothy went to college with a lot of the same worries she’s facing now and has come away with a really wonderful group of friends, some of whom I suspect will be friends for life. I certainly hope so.
It was a busy, tiring, beautiful, exciting, long, day. Congratulations, Dorothy!
P.S. I didn’t take that last picture. Just saying.
We drove up to Massachusetts again, having been there two weeks ago for Dorothy’s art show. This time it’s her graduation and it is just Cathy and me, without Dorothy’s grandmothers. We had traffic problems around Boston, with rain and accidents on I95 but we left early enough that we were here in plenty of time for the Baccalaureate service held this evening from 5:00 to 6:30. We had good seats in the front row of the balcony and I took a few pictures. The candle lighting portion of the service was particularly nice, which is what is shown here.
We took our annual Mother’s Day outing to the garden center today for Cathy to buy the annuals that she’ll plant around our yard and garden. After a hot and clear day yesterday it was quite cool and rainy today. When we got to Fehr’s Nursery in Burtonsville we were the only customers there. Others came and went while we were there, though, and considering the weather, they were doing pretty good business. Much of what Cathy was shopping for is in their greenhouses, so the rain didn’t really affect us too much. I did what I usually do in these situations, wander around with my camera and take pictures of flowers. I was taking pictures of these flats of red-flowered begonias when Cathy happened to come by, so I got this picture of her in front of them.
Iris was out of town and it was Seth’s birthday so we thought we would bring him dinner and have a short visit. It turned into a family dinner night, which was fine and in fact, really great. We had both of the next generation there, Silas and Kaien, so there was plenty for me to photograph. Kai, as the older cousin, is much more aware of and involved with things going on in the room. He is also talking quite a bit although I can’t say I always understand him on the first try. Silas is less involved but he is definitely becoming aware of things going on around him. With his mom not there and with only having had a short nap today, he was somewhat subdued. I think that comes through in this photo of him. He’s very good-natured and seems relaxed, at least as long as one of his parents is very close by. It’s been a lot of fun watching him grow and we’re so thankful that Iris and Seth (and Steve and Maya) are living so close.
After church this morning, we met up with a friend of Margaret’s and they went off together to visit. The rest of us went for a picnic on the beach. It wasn’t particularly warm and the sky was overcast but it was nice to be outdoors. We put a blanket down on the sand and made sandwiches (because on the beach, you can eat the sandwiches there). The herring gulls (Larus argentatus) were all around and hoping for any food that might come there way. I’m afraid they didn’t get much from us.
As we drove back we stopped at Niles Beach. From there we could see Boston, just over 25 miles to the southwest. I like the atmospheric quality of this photo so thought I’d include it along with the picture above of our picnic. I also like the not quite parallel lines of waves gently rolling in and changing with the subtly changing light.
After our outing, we visited with some friends in the area and then in the evening went to the penultimate Catacombs of Dorothy’s college career. It was a really nice time and a nice way to end the weekend visit.
We spent most of the day on the road today, driving up to Massachusetts to visit Dorothy for the weekend and see her senior art exhibit tomorrow evening. It was four of us, Cathy, me, and our two moms (Dorothy’s grandmas). We didn’t have traffic problems to speak of until we got onto Interstate 95 around Boston. Then it took us two hours to go 25 miles. We met up with Dorothy and went to the art building where the final preparations are under way. I’ll post a picture of Dorothy’s art tomorrow. Today, here’s Dorothy pointing out an article about a woman being attacked by a beaver.
Today was a long day but a good one. After church we made a quick trip to the county transfer station to unload all the sticks and brush that we had filled the back of the van with from the yard. Then we headed to Virginia for a bridal shower for Maria, the older of Jean’s two daughters. That was for Cathy and while she was there, I went to a local park and took pictures of wildflowers, mostly buttercups (Ranunculus species). I went back to pick up Cathy and spent a little while taking pictures of Maria and her friends and family.
We killed a little time and then at about 6:30 went to Truro Anglican Church in Fairfax. I had told Cathy we were doing something in the evening but she didn’t know what. After we got there, I told her it was a concert with Sara Groves, Audrey Assad, and the Robbie Seay Band in a benefit for International Justice Mission (IJM). I had told Cathy she’d be glad and she was. We had good seats and I was able to get a few pictures during the concert. As you might guess, if you think about such things, the blue lights played havoc with the white balance calculations my camera made, but I was able to get the skin tones looking about right.
In addition to the singing, we heard from a few folks associated with IJM, including a representative from the Philippines as well as a rescued former victim of modern day slavery. Their message was sobering, to say the least, so it’s hard to say we enjoyed it. But it’s an important work and we decided to participate on an ongoing basis.
Before the show, Dorothy had sent me a text saying that if I had a chance to talk with Audrey Assad I should tell her about Catacombs at Gordon and then say that she has been more of an encouragement to Dorothy and Mulley than any other single musician. Of course I didn’t really expect to get the chance. As it turned out, we were able to go to a reception after the show and I did, in fact, have a chance to talk with her. I gave her Dorothy’s message, although I’m not sure I expressed it very well. Also, because Dorothy didn’t give me any insight into how, specifically, she had been encouraged, I had to be a bit vague. I do know that Dorothy has sung some of Audrey’s songs at Catacombs.
We also had a chance to chat with Sara Groves. We’ve been fans of hers for about 20 years, since her first album came out. We saw her in concert for the first time in November, 2004. One of the pictures I took that evening was the main pictures on her Wikipedia page for quite a while. We really appreciate her song writing and her willingness to acknowledge that life can be hard, painful, and confusing. We often pretend we have it all together but most of us don’t and it’s good to say so once in a while. She was gracious enough to have a photograph taken with us (actually, she was nice enough to suggest it). This last picture wasn’t, therefore, taken by me.
Thank you, Sara, Audrey, and Robbie (and the band) for what you are doing. If you have any interest is the impossible seeming task of ending slavery, please take a look at International Justice Mission (https://www.ijm.org/).
The forecast for last night and all day today was for rain. That didn’t happen and it was a gorgeous day. After getting home from church (see previous post on the Easter Sunrise Service) we took a little time to rest, as we were a bit sleepy. Then I started getting the food ready for the Easter dinner we had with family. I had bought a ham and made biscuits, Tsai-Hong brought a really nice salad as well as fruit. Other side dishes and dessert rounded out the meal. Margaret and Cathy made a lamb cake yesterday and it turned out pretty well, although they had trouble getting the eyes and nose to stay in place. Eventually we had to use a toothpick to keep the nose from falling off. Also, we only had golden raisins, so the lamb has light colored eyes, which is a little different to what it normally looks like. It cooked well, though, and was tasty.
Later in the afternoon Iris asked if I’d take a few pictures of Silas and of the three of them out in the yard. It was cool and at first Silas wasn’t sure about sitting on the grass but he got used to it pretty quickly and I got what I think are some pretty nice pictures. It’s no surprise that Silas is growing up and gaining his own personality, of course, and it’s really nice to be a part of that. He’s a happy little boy (for the most part) and is pretty easy going. This will be tested when Iris has to be away for a little while for work, but I’m sure they’ll get through it (not to say they’ll enjoy it, though).
We missed having Kai with us (and Steve and Maya, too, but you know it’s really all about the kids). Nevertheless, it was wonderful to have who we had and we’re really thankful for family. We missed Dorothy, too, and really look forward to seeing her in two weeks. She spent Easter with her friend, Katie, on the New Hampshire / Vermont border. It’s not like being at home and she missed the music that we got this morning, but she’s doing well and finishing strong. We couldn’t be more proud of her.
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