Ben asked me this morning if I’d like to go with him to Baltimore to watch Will’s baseball game. They are playing in a tournament and the game was at the Johns Hopkins Babb Field at Stromberg Stadium (at the corner of West Universith Parkway and North Charles Street. They had, unfortunately, lost the first game and we got there shortly before the second game started. Will played a pretty good game, with two base hits on three at bats, scoring both times for two of the team’s three runs. This is his second hit. Unfortunately they couldn’t hold the other team and ended up losing six to three, but it was a pretty good game and it was nice to be out and about (even though it was a little warm).
It’s been a long couple days and we’re slowly beginning the process of recovering from Wednesday. Yesterday we spent much of the day with family. Today we just hung out at home most of the day but had everyone over in the evening. In the normal course of things I would have gone out to take pictures in the yard but I just didn’t feel up to it today.
We had Indian food from Bombay Bistro this evening and were together again, doing not much of anything in particular. Of course we played ‘pass the baby,’ as we do in these situations. And I took pictures.
This isn’t the best picture of Kai that I’ve taken but it’s good enough. It’s about time I got a good one of him with his dad (and I think it’s quite a good picture of Steve). There are others, of course, including pictures of the dogs, but it’s Kai-week, so here you are. I’m not saying that there won’t be pictures of Kai again coming soon, although I think tomorrow will be something else. But you never know. And I’ll get back to flowers (or better yet, insects) soon.
If you don’t like baby pictures then I suggest you look away. There may be a few of them over the next few days. After yesterday, you won’t be surprised to learn that we’ve spent a little time with family. Spending time with family generally leads to pictures of Kai. So, you shouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow’s picture is of him, too.
He’s a cute little beggar and getting cuter at a ferocious pace. He’s also making progress towards talking and crawling. On the other hand, he’s so often in someone’s arms I don’t know how he’s ever going to learn to crawl. But he will, I suspect, and then life will get more complicated for his parents (and all of us when they come over).
Ralph L. Hartley
June 10, 1958 – June 14, 2017
Life can be hard and I’m not really sure what to say about this picture. As I get older I find, not surprisingly, I suppose, that there are fewer and fewer people that have known me all my life. My parents, of course, knew me when I was first born. My grandparents, aunts, and uncles, basically, as well. But my dad is gone and so are my grandparents and many of my aunts and uncles. And now my older brother, Ralph. He was only 18 months old when I was born, but he has been there since my beginning and I have known him my entire life. Being so close together in age, we did a lot of things together, especially as kids. We fought, of course, but we played, as well. The family traveled a bunch, going out west and back a few times when we were young. Then in 1971 we moved to England, camping through much of Europe on the way. Ralph and I went to the Cambridge Grammar School for Boys that year. We explored castles and designed our own. We took another trip out west when Ralph and I were in high school, hiking down the Grand Canyon. We went to Greece for eight weeks in 1981, camping almost the whole time. Ralph only stayed for half of that but it was a really good time (and boy, did he have hair then!).
It was about that time that he met Tsai-Hong. They were married in 1982 and have had a wonderful marriage and two amazing children, now both married. In December of last year their grandson Kai was born. Late in 2015 it was clear that Ralph was ill. In January, 2016 he was diagnosed with lymphoma. In January of this year he had a bone marrow transplant and although the transplant was successful, the cancer was still there. They decided to do some traveling and went on a cruise in the Galapagos and another in southeast Alaska. Ralph was an avid and experienced caver and he took five of us into a “starter cave’ in West Virginia a few short weeks ago (see Saturday, May 06, 2017).
We all knew it was only a matter of time before he was gone but it came much more quickly than any of us expected. My mom called me early this afternoon to say that Ralph’s breathing had become labored and that I should come over. He was able to hold his precious grandson one last time before he left us, and that was so sweet.
We disagreed on many things and we fought from time to time (sometimes, particularly as kids, physically). But Ralph was the first friend I had and for most of my early life, my best friend. Some of the memories we shared were shared by no one else. I’m amazed by how rich I am in terms of friends and family. Richer than I could ever possibly expect or deserve. But, to quote something I read once, “the cultural memory of our little family has been dealt a terrible blow…. In what seems like the blink of an eye, whole volumes of institutional memory have simply vanished. And that is a terribly lonely thought, that no amount of company and condolence can ease or erase.”
UPDATE: I’ve fixed a few typos, including two years, which were wrong.
These guys, Steve, David, and Juan, (plus me and a few others from time to time) have been meeting regularly for over a year and a half (since October, 2015, I just looked it up in my journal). Mostly we meet at the church office but now and then we go out for dinner. This evening was such a time and we mat at the Old Town Pour House in Downtown Crown. The food was quite good, although I’d say it was overpriced. I had a duck Reuben and it was really tasty but $14 for a sandwich? Really? The beer was good and there is a pretty broad selection to choose from. I went with a beer called Bivalve Saison brewed by Evolution Craft Brewing Company of Salisbury, Maryland. Nice. As usual, we talked about life. That can keep us busy for a while, as you might guess.
We went up to the Farm today and everyone was there, which was great. I took what some might consider a lot of pictures and baby Kai was in his fair share of them. There are a bunch of Kai with grandpa Ralph and that’s what we have here. It isn’t the best angle for seeing their faces but if I went to one side or the other I’d get the back of one head. I got a bunch that I think are good but decided to go with this one, which I like pretty well.
Look who we had breakfast with this morning! If you know who these people are, then I suspect you’re jealous. If you don’t know who they are then you want to. Well, you may not know that you want to but you do.
It’s hard to believe how much Brandon has grown since we saw him last, which was about two years ago (two days short of two years, to be precise). He was very good to sit with us as we talked with his mom for over an hour (closer to two). We did talk to him a little and when I asked what his favorite classes are in school he said math, science, and history. Actually, he named all his classes except English. And he likes to read, so that’s not so far behind. When I asked what he likes to read, he said fiction and non-fiction. Well, that just about covers it.
Kristine caught us up on the goings on with Brandon’s four older sisters. Never a dull moment for Kristine and Bill. Sorry, Bill, that it’s been so long since we’ve seen you. We’d love to have breakfast with you, if you ever came to town. Just let us know. And of course we caught Kristine up on what’s happening with us. We could have talked for hours more but I did have to get to work (what a hassle!). Maybe Cathy and I can go visit them sometime, before too long.
We had the pleasure of baby sitting this little munchkin this evening while his parents went to a movie. Kaien (pronounced like Ryan with a K instead of an R, or simply Kai) is just over 5 months old now and really is starting to show a personality. He smiles a lot and thankfully is pretty easily distracted if he starts to fuss.
He slept for about an hour of the time we had him and then had a bottle, which was also pretty easy. After that we enjoyed singing to him. He especially loved Old MacDonald Had A Farm, especially the animal sounds that Cathy made. She sang quite a few verses, including some with animals that are not generally considered farm animals (do any farmers keep lions?). We also sang some songs by the Limeliters. Interestingly, their album Through Children’s Eyes was one that Cathy and I both listened to as children, so we both know the songs on it. Anyway, we sang a few songs from that. He mostly just stared at us throughout.
I enjoyed taking pictures of these two having fun in the kitchen this evening. Grace did most of the flipping. They both did a lot of laughing. Grace posted a picture similar to this shortly after I got it off my camera and shared it with her. I’m a little late getting to it but I also have taken the time to make a few changes. First, I cropped the image a bit. Second, I replaced the image of Emily with one from a different picture that I think is better (her eyes are open, for instance). Getting the timing right so I could get the pancake in the air was the trickiest part, of course. It was much easier after she got more height on them, as in this image.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we drove to West Virginia and spent the night at the PSC Field House in the North Form Mountain area. We got a reasonable night’s sleep and after a hearty breakfast, six of us headed off the Hamilton Cave. Ralph and Stephen are both experienced cavers but the rest of us were beginners. We’ve all been in the big, commercial caverns like Luray or Carlsbad (although I’d really like to see Carl’s Good cavern!). I’ve been in a reasonable number of caves in the USA, France, England, Greece, and Slovakia (although it was Czechoslovakia at the time). But this was the first time in a cave such as this. Hamilton cave has a pretty good maze of passages and I’m certainly glad we had two people who knew their way around.
After checking in at The Register, we made our way to our first goal, the Slab Room. This is named for the large slab of rock that fell in the distant past (well, probably recent in geologic terms, but it was more than a few years ago). Getting here involved passages where we had to crawl on all fours and a couple stretches where I had to take off my small day pack and push it in front of me while I slithered along on my front in what I know as an army crawl. You know the one, where you are lying prone and you pull yourself along with your elbow and push with your knees. It can be fairly tiring, especially for someone carrying extra weight and with not-terribly-strong arms. But we all made it through. There were other places where we could walk upright and they were very welcome, I can tell you.
There was an even tighter spot than those the required an army crawl. There is one place where the passage gets fairly narrow between two smooth, nearly vertical rocks. They are closest together at just the wrong height from the ground for someone about my height and with a larger than necessary midsection. If you know what i mean.
It was not quite Winnie-the-Pooh in Rabbit’s Hole but it was tight. Fortunately they didn’t hang dish towels on my legs. Getting through that required getting up on my toes so my largest part was a little higher than the tightest part, and then getting a bit of a push from Stephen. The second picture here is further into the cave than that tightish bit. It shows Seth sitting in a fairly large room as the others made their way up behind him. The last picture was actually taken between the other two. I don’t often take selfies but I thought in this case I would. So, that’s me in my caving gear. Looks as though I’ve been crawling in the dirt, doesn’t it?
As you can probably guess by the fact that I’m posting this, I made it out. We all had a good time and were certainly glad we went. I will confess to being glad to see the sunlight again and to be able to stand up without worrying about hitting my head on a rock.
When anyone advertises anything as the ‘first annual’ whatever, you have to admire their optimism. I mean, anyone can have a ‘first annual’ anything but following that with a ‘second annual’ is the tricky bit. That’s not to say things just happen after that, but doing something twice on the same day of the year is a real milestone (or is it a millstone?). The National Day of Prayer, established in 1952 to be held on the first Thursday in May, was the occasion of the second annual Montgomery County Prayer Breakfast with over 100 in attendance. Many thanks to Paul and Janet for their efforts to get this going and for enlisting sponsors to cover the costs.
A wedding is a big deal. A wedding for people you know and love is a bigger deal. That being the case, I don’t feel like I need to restrict myself to one picture of Hannah and Drew. The picture I posted yesterday was before the rehearsal, as they were sitting in a hallway waiting for everyone to get organized. Actually, the wedding coordinator was pretty phenomenal, from what I could tell, and had things under control but even at the best of times, there are a lot of moving parts and they all need to move in harmony. With her help, along with a cast of thousands (well, over a dozen, anyway), things went about as smoothly as they can be expected to go.
The first picture here is from the wedding, as you can probably tell. At this point, Hannah and Drew are married and have turned to face their family and friends as the pastor introduces them for the first time as husband and wife. The second picture was taken during the rather lengthy photo session that followed the ceremony. I didn’t take a lot while that was happening, because the official photographers had it under control but this was a nice lineup of the wedding party and I couldn’t resist taking a few. Hannah and Drew, I meant what I told you that evening. If there is ever anything you need and it’s in my power to give it, you only have to ask.
As many of you know, Cathy and I few up to Boston this morning. I took my first Uber ride from Logan Airport and we met up with Dorothy. At about 1:30 we headed up to New Hampshire for the rehearsal for Hannah and Drew’s wedding, which is tomorrow. Cathy and I were not actually involved in the wedding, beyond providing one of the bridesmaids. We got a call, though, asking if I could take a few pictures at the rehearsal. Of course I was only too happy to do so. This is one of the first pictures I got after arriving at the church and I’m pretty happy with it. Preparations for a wedding can be somewhat stressful but they were (mostly) relaxed and everyone was in a good mood.
The pink dogwood is out and we’re about to enter the most floriferous time of the year. The dogwoods are probably at or just past their peak. Likewise the redbuds. The azaleas are just starting and will be in full bloom soon, which is a pretty spectacular time in our area. The azaleas are followed within a few weeks by some of the early roses, some of which continue to bloom throughout the summer.
I took some pictures of the yard this afternoon. First I got some overall shots showing shrubs, trees, grass, etc. Then I took some close up shots of a phlox plant that is blooming along the back of the yard. The dogwood that Cathy is standing next to in this photo is in the front, too close to the house, really but it’s such a beautiful tree when it’s in bloom that I’m loath to take it out. I tried planting a tall camellia under it that I could cut it out in favor of, but that was just before two very cold winters and it died. I should probably try again. But, for now, we’re enjoying it.
I realize that I’m more than a week behind in posting this. It’s been a busy time and I’ll try to get caught up shortly. Easter sunrise services are one of my favorite events. It’s partly a function of how much I appreciate Easter. To me it’s much more important than Christmas. I realize you cannot have Easter without having had Christmas but without Easter, Christmas would be meaningless. Easter also has some wonderful music associated with it and we aren’t overwhelmed with non-Easter, seasonal music as we are for Christmas.
Pictures of smiling, happy babies are great, of course, but there’s something about a baby making a less peaceful expression that I really love. I’m not saying I want babies to cry and of course I try to make them happy when they do. But crying happens. It’s a fact of life.
The family we here for dinner this evening and I took a bunch of pictures and a few short videos. Kaien was in a good mood most of the evening and he’s a pretty easy going little boy. Later on he was getting tired or hungry or something and was a little less happy and that’s when I took this one. I wish I had been a bit farther away or had a shorter lens on the camera so I could have gotten his whole head in the frame. He was wiggling about and my tracking was a little behind. I caught the expression, though, and I think that’s the main thing. You get what you can when you can. I certainly didn’t have time to go rummaging through my camera bag. I love this look.
I took another boatload of pictures at the play this evening. Most of those won’t mean much unless you where there and if you were there, then you already saw it. Also, unless I posted the entire cast again, I’d have to pick a picture of one or two people and leave out all the rest. Well, I guess that’s what I’ve done but instead of going with a picture of students, I decided to post this one of Becky, the fearless director of the WCA play. If you’ve ever been involved in high school drama (as if you had to put on a play to get drama in high school!) then you know how much work it is. Imagine doing that with a toddler in tow. But she pulled it off, with the help of a wonderful assistant director, student assistant director, and a host of others. Well done.
We gathered for a family dinner this evening and as usual since late December, the star of the show was Kaien, now a little over three months old. Most everyone got a chance to hold him and he’s so good-natured that it was a nice time. There are other things going on, of course, and if you know then you know. If you don’t know I won’t bother you with it. Suffice it to say that it was a bittersweet gathering but one I’m glad we had. We’ll be doing that as much as we can for as long as we can. Anyway, here’s grandma with her precious little one.
This evening We met up with our good friend Jean and her two beautiful daughters, Lexi and Maria. We only live across the river from each other but getting together seems to get harder rather than easier. The evening rush hour is not the best time to cross the Potomac but we did and had a wonderful time chatting and laughing. Talk ranged from the serious to the silly, as it does when you’re with good friends. It’s hard to believe these two girls are so grown up, but it’s true. Sadly, Dorothy wasn’t able to be with us, but we’ll get together again when she’s home this summer.
She hates to have her picture taken and I doubt she’ll like this one any more than others I’ve taken over the years but this young woman has been a real blessing to our family and it was really nice to see her this morning. She and a friend came to help with music and worship at church this morning and I took a few pictures (yes, during church, it happens). I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as to say that Dorothy wouldn’t do any singing without the influence of Christy but I do think that influence was real and important. She pushed Dorothy well out of her comfort zone and it’s really paid dividends since. Even without that, Christy is a lovely young woman, sweet and loving to everyone she meets (at least as far as I know and I’d appreciate it if no one shows me otherwise). She also has a really pretty voice. Just sayin’.
We got together for a family dinner this evening at Iris and Seth’s apartment. George and Carmela had talked about being there but in the end they couldn’t because they had important matters of a canine variety to take care of. Specifically, they were picking up their new, one-year-old dachshund, Chester. But it was a fun time visiting with family, enjoying a wonderfully prepared meal, and of course, passing the baby around. I don’t think everyone had a chance to hold him but most did. We also took a few pictures (really?) and I’m particularly glad we got this one of four generations, from oldest to youngest Dot, Ralph, Stephen, and Kaien.
It’s that time of year again. Way back in November I ran into the kindergarten teacher from Dorothy’s old school and she asked me if I was up for coming to her class in February as Abe Lincoln. As you can probably guess from the accompanying photo, I said yes. This was taken as I got to work in the morning, using my cell phone camera.
I don’t often post photos of myself, partly because I don’t take very many and partly as a public service to you, my loyal readers. There are much nicer things to look at than my visage.
I don’t really make a particularly good Lincoln. I’m not anywhere near tall enough and my build is much too heavy. But this is for kindergarteners, remember. They aren’t terribly demanding and to them, even I am tall. It helps that their teacher is fairly small, also, so in comparison, I’m tall. The top hat and the beard are really all it takes. The first question I got from them was, “Are you the real Abraham Lincoln?”
Taking pictures of newborn babies is a bit tricky. Typically they are lying down or being held that way. If they are being held, the person holding them is often moving, meaning the good angle for a picture changes from moment to moment, assuming there is a good angle at all. Newborns don’t generally make interesting expressions and asking them to smile doesn’t help very much. When they do make a good expression, the chances of them being turned away from you are fairly high, or the person holding them is talking or has his or her eyes closed or something. That isn’t going to stop me from trying, of course.
I’m pretty pleased with this picture of Lacey and her three week old son, Daniel. It isn’t the greatest picture of Lacey, who is laughing at something someone said, but perhaps she’ll forgive me that, since it’s a pretty nice picture of Daniel, who seems quite happy and content. We can’t ask for a lot more than that. Congratulations to Lacey, Gil, and big brother Tim. What a beautiful addition to the family. Thanks for letting us intrude on your domestic life for a little while.
Cathy’s been working her way through a box of old family photographs and making some interesting connections. In the bin in this picture, the picture on the left is Cathy’s grandfather, Albert, from high school. We were hoping that we might find a picture of Ernest Hemingway, who attended the same school, Oak Park and River Forest High School, from 1913 until 1917, a few years ahead of Albert. Unfortunately, we didn’t. But you never know what might show up further down in the box.
As I mentioned in the post from Friday, pictures of this little fellow are likely to be fairly common here for a while. For one thing, he’s the cutest little thing. For another, he’s the first of the next generation, as far as my immediate family is concerned, and is my first grand nephew. We’re fortunate to have him (and his parents) living so close by. After visiting him on Friday, we had dinner at mom’s this evening because Brady was in town on business and we took the opportunity to get together. It was good to see her and everyone, including Iris, Ralph, and Tsai-Hong who were there via video conferencing on Seth’s phone.
If you think we’re going to visit Kai without my taking pictures of him, or if you don’t want to see baby pictures, then I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. We paid him a visit this evening (we saw his parents, too, but whatever) and mom (Dot) was there as well, visiting her great grand son. We each took a turn holding him and I took pictures of both Cathy and mom holding him. He seems to be growing well and is certainly a sweet little thing.
It was a fairly busy day today. We spent the morning at Cathy’s mom’s house, going through boxes of papers. We made some progress, although there’s still a bit left to do. From there we went to College Park for a graduation party for a friend. It was nice to spend time with Josh and his family, as well as his girlfriend, Lizzy, pictured here with Cathy and her mom, Jeannine. Then we went to Baltimore to visit Ralph and Tsai-Hong. After that visit we drove through parts of Baltimore we hadn’t been to before. I tried to get a picture of the Domino Sugar sign over the harbor through the fog but it was too thick and you can’t make out what the vague pink light is.
Cathy and I went to visit our grand-nephew Kai this evening. We also visited his parents, but really, we all know why we were there. But seriously, it was a nice chance to visit and of course to hold the baby, who is growing like the proverbial weed. Cathy took a bunch of pictures of me holding him, but of course I post pictures here that I’ve taken, so you are spared that. This is Steve giving him his dinner. Actually, I don’t know how you name meals when they come every two hours, but it was 7:30 PM, so we’ll call it dinner.
We had lunch with some of the rest of our family today but it was a little unusual because we all wore masks to reduce the risk of passing infection to Ralph, whose immune system is “somewhat compromised” at the moment. It was really nice to get together and have a visit. We were sorry that Steve, Maya, Kaien, and Danna were not able to join us but having a baby throws your schedule off and it can make what would formerly have been an easy outing into a complicated journey. Of course they’ll get into the swing of things soon but we all missed seeing them (especially Kai).
We have known Erin and David since Dorothy was in first grade. In fact, Erin was Dorothy’s first grade teacher, back in the day. She and David were married the following summer and we stayed in her family’s house while they all went off for the wedding. Over the next few years we got to know them better, even though she stopped teaching to begin raising the family they have now become.
This afternoon we were blessed to spend a little time with all but their oldest, who is now 12. This picture is of number five, Glenn, who was born last June. I won’t say he’s any cuter than his older siblings were, because they all have been quite attractive (some kids have all the luck in the genetic lottery). But this is one adorable little fellow. Look at those cheeks, to say nothing of his eyes. Thanks, Erin, for letting me hold him and thanks, also, for holding him so I could take his picture.
We had originally held off celebrating Christmas with Cathy’s mom because Cathy’s niece (Dorothy’s cousin) was going to be coming and we thought we’d do it while she was here. Maggie’s travel plans have changed so we decided to go ahead with Second Christmas without her. That’s why there are all those presents under the tree.
Lately Cathy and Dorothy have been watching various exercise videos and working along with them. Yesterday they were talking about the belly dancer that we saw in a restaurant in Rockville and they looked up instructional videos. Who said the internet isn’t good for anything? Anyway, they worked their way through it and this is one of the many moves they practiced.
It’s funny how some things become tradition. Thirteen years ago, Amy and Kevin invited us to their house on New Year’s Day for what Amy described as a “low-key celebration.” When they repeated the invitation the following year it was on its way to becoming a tradition. The guest list has changed with the only constant being Amy and one or both of her boys and Cathy, Dorothy, and me. Since Keven passed away, we have hosted the party and this is our fourth at our house. The aim is the same, though, a low-key celebration of the new year. As we approached the date, Amy asked if she could invite a family that she’s known for many years and of course we agreed. When they arrived, we introduced ourselves to Karen, Kyle, and Grace and to our surprise, Karen recognized Cathy. Their families knew each other back in the day. And by that I mean the 1960s! Small world.
Well, it’s the end of another year. For what started out as Project 365, with one picture a day for a year, posted on Facebook, I’ve now finished six years, 2,192 consecutive days of at least one photo a day. I just looked back at the posts from December 31, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Of those five posts, three of them were taken in the family room of our good friend, Stuart and Donna. They were also all taken right before the stroke of midnight. This year’s photo was taken in their kitchen about 40 minutes before the end of the year. It features Hannah, Rachel, and Lyla.
In all I took only 18,270 photographs this year, the first year under 20,000 with this camera, but that brings the total for the camera to 134,953. I had one day this year when I only took one photograph but I’ve managed to take at least one every day. The most I took in a day was only 792, which is a pretty low maximum. We didn’t take any extended sightseeing vacations this year and I had no weddings to photograph, which played a part if the lower numbers. But I’m still at it. Anyway, see you next year.
Happy birthday, Maya. I know you’re exhausted but look at this little boy. What a dear little thing he is. To everyone else reading this, let me introduce to you Kaien (pronounced basically like Ryan with a K) or Kai, if you prefer (like Sky without the S). He was born on Saturday, December 24, and we visited this evening and I know you’re going to be shocked but I took a few pictures. This is one of my favorites. I probably say this every time I see a newborn but it always surprises me again how small they are. Anyway, welcome to the family, Kai. We’re a bit of an odd bunch, but you don’t get to pick your family. Sorry about that.
Every year is different. That’s good, in the sense that we want a little variety in our lives. If every day were just like the last, we’d get bored (some of us sooner than others). That’s why so many people love the changing seasons. Autumn and spring, times of transition, are especially beautiful. But even with the change, there is a sameness the overlays it all. Every year has the same four seasons and that repetition is quite comforting. We know what to expect next, at least in broad terms, even if the details are different.
Every year, the details are different. We all know that but we’re still surprised by it, from time to time. Last year was different to all the others (at least all my others) because Albert wasn’t there. This year was different for a totally different reason. Ralph’s son and daughter-in-law (Stephen and Maya) had a son yesterday. What a wonderful combined Christmas and Hanukkah present. They named him Kaien (pretty much rhymes with Ryan) but gave him the middle name Albert. That was a very sweet thing for them to do and a very nice present for all of us.
For a number of reasons, not least of which was a scheduling conflict at our normal location for church tomorrow and the fact that most people want to be with their families on Christmas day, we had a Christmas Eve service today instead. It was a fairly small, informal affair, with only about 20 people in all including more children than adults. After the service, I took this picture and if I have their names right, they are Olivia, Alyssa, and Ellie behind Hope and Sugar (the dog).
Cathy and Dorothy went over this afternoon to pick up D’Argo from Steve and Maya’s. They were going to the hospital to have their first child and we will have the dog for a little while, certainly until they are home again and settled down a bit. As I write this, late on Saturday morning, there is still no word on the baby’s arrival, but we should hear any time now.
As you can see, Dorothy is enjoying having a dog.
The group I work with had its annual holiday party today. It’s not exactly the sort of party portrayed in some movies or television shows, with dancing and revelry. It’s just a bunch of folks (about 150) getting together for a meal, a silent auction to raise a bit of money for a local charity, and a time of mostly quiet socializing. I was one of two photographers today with the other being the “official” photographer. That freed me up to take a few candids and not really stress.
Being a technical person, I’m technically not a member of this group but this is the group we largely support. I work with quite a few different teams within this group although there are a lot that I don’t know at all. I’ve worked with these three for quite some time and probably know them better than all but a few others here. They all hate to have their picture taken but they were kind enough to let me take a few.
It’s December and that means all sorts of Christmas parties (or, if work-related, holiday parties, but that’s a post for another time). The first Christmas party of the season was with our church family. It was hosted by our pastor and his wife (and their kids, I suppose) and it was a full house. I honestly don’t know how many of us were there but it was a good crowd. Of course, being a pot luck, there was way more food than we could eat, although I guess some folks didn’t get to try things that ran our early. For me, the highlight was little smokies wrapped in bacon and then sprinkled with brown sugar and baked. Man, were those good (thanks, Joanna and Juan). There was an excellent cake, as well, made by Brigitte with candied cranberries on top. While the cake was excellent, to me the cranberries were the best part.
Naturally I took pictures and this is one I really like, a couple of wonderful young folk named Lizzy and Josh. I enjoyed sitting with them a while and chatting and I’m glad this pictures turned out so well.
It’s a small and fledgling youth group, I admit, but this is at a small and fledgling church, so perhaps that’s appropriate. This is one of a bunch of pictures I took to promote our youth group. We cannot offer crowds and huge events. But we can offer something a little more individual. Our ministry goals are really the same as for Cross Community church: to share the gospel, love the city, and build community, all within the context of youth.
After the three day birthday, Thanksgiving, family reunion with Cathy’s family, we got together with my family today for our fourth day of celebration. I cannot express how thankful I am for both of my families and it’s nice to be given a day off (and to take two more) specifically to express our thankfulness. I’m thankful for more than family, of course, but that’s certainly high on the list.
Dorothy, sadly, left to drive back to school and wasn’t able to spend the day with us. It was good to see her and she’ll be back in just a few weeks for the Christmas break. As usual, I took pictures of everyone as we sat in the living room and visited, with the usual range of discussion topics customary with the my family (we tend towards the geeky end of things, I have to admit). In addition to some family pictures, I particularly like this one of Ralph and Iris. It just works.
It’s been way too long since we saw this young woman. Actually, the last time we saw her, she was a girl of only about 8. She’s grown up a lot since then and it was so good to have her visit for Thanksgiving, along with her dad and sister, both of whom we’ve seen a bit more recently. It was a really nice to get to know her a bit and I think we’ll put more effort into getting together again befor too long.
After a busy Thanksgiving yesterday we went to Great Falls today. While I took a few pictures of the river, it was more an occasion for photos of Hannah, Abba, and Darius. I really like this one of Hannah. She has an amazing smile, also, but it’s more common, when the camera is pointed at her, that she makes a silly face.
We also saw a great blue heron in the process of killing a black snake. It would stab the snake with its beak and picking it up. The snake would coil around the beak and the heron would drop it and the process would start over.
I picked up David and Darius this afternoon and the Thanksgiving (and birthday) festivities have begun. This was taken while David went to the airport to pick up Jim and Hannah. Dorothy and Abba were on their way from New England. William would come down tomorrow morning. So, it’s still relatively quiet. Cathy, as you can see, is making some animal sound (although it looks more like a “moo” than a roar, but I don’t know) while reading The Three Happy Lions to Darius.
In 2014 I posted a picture of Cathy with two Operation Christmas Child boxes, delivering them at the collection center. Then last year, the picture was of Cathy with six packed boxes, ready to take them out to the car. This year, we’re a little earlier in the process. In this picture, Cathy has laid out all the things she plans to get into six shoe-box sized plastic boxes. If you think it unlikely she’ll be able to get it all in, fear not, it was done (with a little expert advice from yours truly). They were delivered the next day (tomorrow when I took the picture, last week when I’m writing this). Has Cathy mentioned that she likes Operation Christmas Child? Well, she does.
I was taking pictures around the house this evening, looking around for interesting shapes and patterns. I took some of a patch on the shoulder of a jacket, some of etched metal and a couple of a photograph of Cathy’s mom taken back in the day. I also took a few of Cathy and this one I like best of them all. It’s not a huge smile but it’s a familiar look. I suppose I could have waited until her birthday, which is coming up, to post her picture. On the other hand, there’s never really a bad time to take and post her picture.
This photo was taken on Monday (which is why it’s dated on Monday) but I’m actually writing this on Friday. It’s been a busy week for her with a software conference from Monday through Thursday at the Gaylord National. Lots of good information but fairly tiring. She took her first rides in Uber the first three days and then drove herself yesterday (Thursday).
An interesting thing happened on the way to the river today. We had thought about parking near Old Angler’s Inn but the parking area was jammed, so we went to the main Great Falls entrance and parked there. We left the car and headed towards the visitor center and then the river when a woman called Cathy’s name. Actually, she just said “Cath!” It was a friend of Cathy’s from high school and her husband. That in itself would have been surprising and of course it was. It was also lovely to see them since it had been probably fifteen years since we’ve seen each other.
But what was more surprising was that they were in the company of an elf. I’m afraid I don’t remember her name but she was nice enough to allow me to take her picture. It isn’t everyday that I get to photograph an elf. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever done so before. She looks young but of course, as we all know, elves live a considerable time so she could easily be quite old, as we humans measure time.
I generally only post one picture a day or if I post more than one from a single event or location, I combine them into a single post. This event rates a bit more, so I’m posting this separately. The wedding of Juanna and Juan was an entirely outdoor event. If you’ve ever planned an outdoor wedding, you know how nervous it makes you as the day approaches and the weather is uncertain. Planning an outdoor wedding in November is really a risk. Nevertheless, the day was about as beautiful as you could ever expect to get in early November. It was warm (in the sun), perfectly clear, with no wind. The perfect setting for the marriage of this lovely couple. There may be cloudy days on occasion in the future but at least they started out on what was arguably the most beautiful day of the year.
I’ve had the privilege to know these two just about as long as they’ve known each other. It’s been so exciting watching them fall in love and today Cathy and I were fortunate enough to be allowed to witness their marriage and the beginning of their life together. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see them get to this point. The ceremony was nearly as beautiful as Joanna and I’m happy to say it didn’t go off without a hitch (i.e. they got hitched).
She certainly picked a good Juan and won’t have to tell stories about the Juan that got away. (I know, and I’d like to say that I’m sorry, but I’m not.)
I was (thankfully) not the official photographer but I was able to get a good seat on the aisle so was able to get a few pictures of them walking both in separately and then out as husband and wife. I’m sure the official photographer got a lot more and better pictures than I did, but I wanted to share this with Juanna, Juan, their families, and the rest of my followers (both of you).
One of Cathy’s soccer friends hosts an annual Dia de los Muertos party every year and this year was the third time we have gone. We were a bit tired from hosting a baby shower earlier in the day but so we didn’t stay late but we did go. We also didn’t expend a lot of energy on our costumes, simply wearing paper masks that we’ve had but rarely used. I’m pretty sure Cathy’s brother Jim gave these to us years ago. They are surprisingly effective, although the few people at the party who actually know us didn’t really have any trouble telling who we were. Cathy was Agatha and I was Bertram, which probably come from Wodehouse, consciously or not.
Will and Ethan have both been in pictures posted here, both separately and together. We were at their house this evening and I took a few of Ethan and then this one of the two brothers together, which I think is a good picture. I’m finding that on the days I don’t go out during the day at work, I’m having a harder time coming up with a post-worthy picture. Going to someone else’s house is helpful, of course, because there is always something new to photograph, even if it’s just their kids. Will asked me to send this to him, which I did, so if you’ve already seen this from him, you’ll now know where it came from.
We had originally planned an outing for folks from out church to the family property in Pennsylvania for August but a lot of folks couldn’t come that weekend so we moved it to today. The day we would have gone in August was sweltering and muggy. Today was cool but beautiful. The wind was a bit strong but we had a fire going the whole day and I think that those who went all had a good time. I know I did. Being outside all day, cooking over a fire, and of course being with friends (old and new) is a great way to spend a day. Cathy was the first to go out in the canoe, battling the wind. As you can see, the trees are starting to turn.
On Thursday I posted a picture of Grace, on of Dorothy’s two friends who came home with her for the mid-term break. I think it only fair that I also post a picture of Bobby, the other friend. He really liked Solomon and wanted to hold him but Solomon is a bit timid. Nevertheless, with a little coaxing, we were able to get them together.
Yesterday, as planned, the three kids went to Richmond for the day so it was a regular work day for me. Today, we drove out to Rocklands Farm (http://www.rocklandsfarmmd.com/) and had a really nice morning visiting with Janis and Greg. The kids also really enjoyed the animals. Funny, as I write that I picture these three kids as kindergartner at a petting zoo, but of course they are all about 20. Actually, they acted a little more like kindergartners than 20 year olds, but it was fun.
We got home and they packed their car, leaving to head back to school at about 3:45 and getting there at about 1:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. We enjoyed seeing them but it was too brief a visit.
It’s midterm time at Gordon and Dorothy drove down late Wednesday (yesterday) with two friends. They actually got here early this morning but pretty much went straight to bed. This evening, we had one of our Thursday Night Dinners, eating at our house rather than going out. We had a pretty good crowd and it’s easier with that many to avoid big restaurant tables. We god dinner from Bombay Bistro and enjoyed it in the living room. Iris brought her dog, Bean, and this is Grace, one of Dorothy’s two friends, holding him.
Cathy took the day off work and she went with Dorothy, Grace, and Bobby (the other friend) to Great Falls and spent a long while climbing on Rocky Islands, below the falls, and then ended up near the end of the Billy Goat Trail. Tomorrow the three young folk plan to drive down to Richmond for the day. Then we’ll spend Saturday morning with them and they’ll head back to Boston Saturday afternoon.
We had a lovely time visiting with friends and enjoying some nice music at Quench off of Shady Grove Road this evening. Our friend Bob has played there a few times but this is the first time we were able to come hear him. Before Bob sang, we heard from Scott and then a group called Know1Else (http://know1else.com/), both of whom we enjoyed, but we were there to hear Bob. He sang some familiar songs but also a bunch of his own, some of which I’ve heard and enjoyed before and a few that I hadn’t. The food and beer was good, the music was fun, and we were with friends. It doesn’t get a lot better than that.
Here’s one more picture from out trip to Pennsylvania. As I mentioned, Ralph, Tsai-Hong, Iris, and Seth came as well. I took this picture of Seth and Iris as we sat around the fire talking in the middle of the afternoon. I believe this is the first time they have been up since the wedding and it was good to see that the tree they planted seems to be doing very well.
When we first got there a largish tree was down across the road. That’s the source of the logs behind Seth and Iris, so we have a little fire wood. I’ll bring a sledge and wedge next time and split some. We took a walk to the orchard, which is quite overgrown. We managed to find a few almost ripe hardy kiwi and a few pawpaws and there were lots of autumn olive fruits (Elaeagnus). Clearing that out again will be a big job and probably calls for heavy duty equipment.
I know I already posted a picture in honor of Margaret’s 90th birthday but I think one more is in order. Today is her actual birthday, so Cathy and I picked her up and took her to dinner, along with long-time friend Ron. Before we left, I took a few pictures of Cathy and Margaret with the balloons and flowers she’s been given. You only turn 90 once and while that’s generally true of all birthdays, 90 seems like a big deal and worth celebrating.
We went to Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge and had a really nice dinner. I believe there is only one 90th birthday celebration yet to be held and that’s the family party, which was put off a little because of travel plans for all the participants. I suspect there will be another picture here when that time comes.
After church today we went to a surprise birthday party for Cathy’s mom. Her birthday isn’t until later this week, but weekends are generally better for these sorts of things. Turning 90 is a pretty big deal, and it was nice to have so many friends gathered together to honor her. Of course this was only a small gathering when you consider how many people she knows (and how many people know and lover her). This was put on by the missions team from Fourth Church and it was a lovely time. I took a bunch of pictures showing most of the people who were there but I think this is the best, of Carol, Margaret (a.k.a. the Birthday Girl), and Davin.
For a little over a year our family has been having what we call Thursday Night Dinner (TND). It was initially ever week for a while but life gets busy and now it’s now and then, when people are available. This evening there were seven of us, Tsai-Hong, Ralph, Dot, Seth, Steve, Cathy, and me (not in the picture, because I was behind the camera, as I prefer). We had talked about going to a Thai restaurant. There is an Ethiopian restaurant next door and we figured we’d go to both on different weeks. Iris suggested we do Ethiopian tonight because she’s not fond of it and she couldn’t come tonight. She wants to go the Thai restaurant, when the times comes.
We had samplers with all sorts of dishes, ranging from mild to somewhat spicy. None of it was terribly hot. The best flavour, I think, was in two beef dishes. The first of those is kitfo, which their menu describes as “Ethiopian style steak tartar, seasoned to a rich flavor with our special blend of spices, spiced butter and mit’mit’a.” They will sear it for you, but we decided to go for the original.
The second that I really liked was tibs fitfit. “Tender beef cubes sautéed with onion, tomatoes, awaze and jalapeño mixed with injera.”
Actually, all of it was good and I ate more than I should have. Even so there was a lot left over.
This isn’t the most flattering picture I’ve even taken of these two sisters, Abbie on the left and Grace on the right. Actually, the reason I was taking pictures of them was to get one considerably less flattering still (at their request!). I had intended to post that one but decided I would not, after all. So, feel free to laugh and to poke fun at them. If you know what the other pictures was then you probably know where it can be found. Feel free to enjoy it there. Abbie and Grace, if you want to post that one, it’s okay by me.
We drove up to Massachusetts today, taking about ten hours. Part of that was down to heavy traffic on 95 getting around Boston but the fact that we had two vehicles played a role, as well. We made it, though, in spite of getting separated coming off the George Washington Bridge. Dorothy moved into her dorm room and we met her new roommate, Kenna, pictured here with Dorothy. We went to a little taco place in Beverly called La Victoria Taqueria (http://www.victoriataqueria.com/). It was quite good and we enjoyed our food out doors. We’ve been having such hot weather that it was nice to be out on a pleasant evening. Here’s to Dorothy and Kenna.
We greeted the youngest family member in our church this afternoon. Amelia, just over two weeks old, joined her older brother and two older sisters with her parents at church today. Naturally we were all glad to see her and expect to get to know her better over the course of the next, well, however many years it takes to get to know her. She looks amazingly like her siblings, which isn’t too surprising. They’re a really good looking bunch and so much fun. Ellie says that Amelia is an easy baby so far. Lucky for her she doesn’t have kids that run her off her feet. Not all the time, anyway.
Today is our 32nd Anniversary and after dinner and a visit to my mom’s we went out to dinner. We decided to go to Matchbox in Congressional Plaza on the Pike and we had a nice dinner. 32 years ago we had dinner at the Red Lobster on Shady Grove Road and we’ve returned there for anniversary dinners on occasion but thought we’d do something different this year. We had a nice meal, sharing a bowl of shrimp and grits (with cheddar and andouille butter sauce, which was excellent) and then each had a small pizza. We decided to take a few pictures of ourselves and this was done with the camera sitting on the table, which accounts for the slightly odd angle. It isn’t a great picture but if you know us, you already know what we look like and can more on to something else now. Regardless of how the picture turned out, I’m happy to say we’re as happily married as ever and looking forward to as many more years together as we are allowed.
The pictures from out yard which I post here are often close up shots of flowers of things found in the yard. Today I thought I’d give a wider view. I know I’ve done this before and our yard isn’t anything special but that’s what I thought I’d do. Cathy was cutting the grass in the back today so I included her in the picture. It’s been quite warm recently and fairly humid, or to put it another way, typical summer weather here in Maryland, hot and steamy, but we haven’t had anything approaching the drought conditions we get some years. That means the grass has kept growing through the summer, which looks nice but it means it needs to be cut. Anyway, the black-eyed Susans are nice.
We have known this handsome, young man since he arrived on these shores in March, the newest, if not the youngest, member of Ben and Erin’s family. Formerly of the Philippines, he’s now an All American Boy (like Jack Armstrong, if you hold the All properly). We were fortunate enough to be present at a small birthday party for him today. It was a fairly casual thing but fun, nonetheless.
We were at his house (or his parents’ home, you might say) for our bi-weekly prayer meeting and Bible study. After that was done, though, we took some time to recognize and celebrate Ethan’s milestone. Erin had asked if he wanted anything special for dinner. Apparently his first thought was that everyone would have a piece of salami and a hard boiled egg on their plate (if I’m remembering correctly, I’m writing this 11 days after the fact). After she insisted that they should probably have something a little more substantial, he decided on salmon.
For dessert, when the rest of us would be here to celebrate, he had forgone the traditional cake and asked for apple pie and ice cream (didn’t I tell you he’s an all American boy?). He helped his mom by passing out plates of pie and ice cream before having his own. Because he was acting as a waiter, he decided to put a dish towel over his arm and do it right.
Happy Birthday, Ethan. We love you.
Back in November (specifically Wednesday, November 18, 2015) I posted a picture under the title “Ara and the Band, Open Mic Night, Villain and Saint.” She was on stage again this evening, playing the songs from her new EP. If you are unfamiliar with the EP, it stands for Extended Play and designates (these days) a CD or download that is longer than a single and shorter than an LP (long playing record or CD). Generally they have up to 4 songs and are less than 25 minutes or so, although I don’t suppose there are any strict rules for this sort of thing. Anyway, she was releasing her EP (which you can get here: https://aracasey.bandcamp.com/) and we thought it would be nice to both support her and have an evening out.
As it turned out, our evening out turned out to be just me. Cathy got called away to something she couldn’t turn down (I know, I’m being vague and evasive but this is a public blog and I don’t feel like telling everyone everything that’s going on. Get over it.) so I went alone. Cathy would have liked to have come, as Ara is more her friend than mine. They play soccer together. We’ve also gone to her Día de Muertos party (see: Crazy Cat Lady and Eve) a couple times. That, and listening to her play, both times at Villain and Saint in Bethesda.
I took a bunch of pictures but this is my favorite. It just seems right, somehow. It was as good time.
We went to the now-annual family reunion on the way to the beach today and it was great to see family. We don’t have the biggest family to arrange reunions. We all know someone who belongs to a family where hundreds gather for a weekend or week-long celebration. But I wouldn’t trade my family for any other. These are the descendants of Fernando and Anna, who had five children who lived into adulthood and had families of their own. None of those siblings are still living and of their eleven children, we are down to five, with George leaving us in January. At these reunions, we generally take pictures (I know that will shock you) and if we get nothing else, a picture of the remaining first cousins is a must. Here they are in order from oldest to youngest (left to right), Dot, Mary Ellen, Ann, LaClaire, and Glenn. Of course there were also pictures of the second, third, and even fourth cousins. I’m a “second.”
As I mentioned in my last post, we went on what we decided to call (half jokingly) a ‘Family History Safari’ in northeastern Pennsylvania. Yesterday we drove up to Stroudsburg and visited the Delaware Water Gap. We enjoyed a quiet drive up the Old Mine Road through Worthington State Forest, on the New Jersey side of the river. Anyone who tells you New Jersey doesn’t have anything worth visiting has never been here. It was lovely, quiet, and peaceful. This morning we started with a visit to the courthouse to see if we could find any records about Cathy’s ancestors. We were sent to the archives but the archivist was out. After waiting a little while, we went to the local Historical Society office in the Stroud Mansion. Guess where the archivist happened to be? Yes, that’s right.
Cathy spent a while looking through old newspapers and I found some information on Pennsylvania’s 67th Regiment, in which her great, great, grandfather served. From there we drove to the little village of Gilbert, which you can literally miss by blinking (we did!). There we walked around the local cemetery and saw the church in which her great grandfather was baptized. We drove north from there to the old Merwinsburgh Hotel, where her great, great, uncle lived and worked for a time. Nothing earth shattering in terms of discoveries but a nice day.
We finished the day by spending about an hour and a half at the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, which was nice. While we were there I got a phone call from Dorothy saying she was fine. She wanted to let us know, so that when we saw the news we wouldn’t worry so much. We hadn’t been listening to the news so we didn’t know what was up, but shortly after that we started getting messages from friends asking if she was alright. She was.
After a day off and a beautiful wedding yesterday, we spent much of today going through things in Cathy’s mom’s shed. I took two more trips to the dump and we got through a lot of things. It isn’t exactly my idea of ‘vacation’ but a day off from work isn’t always about travel and seeing the sights. It needed to be done and it was good to do it. It was also good to be with David and Maggie, who leave tomorrow on the long drive home.
One thing that we had to do was go through a big, lidded basket filled with stuffed animals and dolls that belonged to Cathy. Unfortunately, the mice had already gone through the basket and most of the creatures inside were a little (in a few cases a lot) worse for the wear. There were one or two that even the mice wouldn’t touch, but for the most part, everything went to the dump. But I took pictures of Cathy with many of them as a remembrance. In the case of this picture, it’s a mouse that was totally disrespected by the other mice.
As I write this, it’s been a week since this picture was taken, but as always, I’m posting this with the date the photo was taken, not when it is finally put on-line. We had an absolutely wonderful time at the wedding of Laurie and Edy this evening. The ceremony and reception were both held at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. We had never been there before but it reminds us quite a bit of Brookside Gardens, in Wheaton, Maryland, where we go often enough. In fact, seven years ago I met Laurie and her mom at Brookside Gardens to take some portraits for her graduation announcement. I know it’s cliche to say so, but it seems like only yesterday.
The wedding itself was lovely, under a mostly sunny, blue sky. Then, while the wedding party was involved in taking a few pictures, we were able to roam about the gardens a little while. This was taken as the bride and groom walked down towards a pond for a few more pictures.
It was also good to get caught up with Laurie’s sisters and her brother, who is heading off to college in the fall. Jack and Sue will be empty nesters for after raising five wonderful kids. Karlee and Nate will still be home from time to time, of course, and the others will visit, but this year will be an adjustment for them, as well.
Anyway, it was a lovely way to celebrate with a lovely couple and their families. We were honored to be invited and included in the festivities.
As I mentioned yesterday, two of Cathy’s nieces are here for a few days. This evening, Laura, Maggie, David, Margaret, Cathy, and I went out to dinner at Yekta in Rockville. If you’re looking for good, Persian kebabs, you can do a lot worse. We had a wonderful dinner and of course, there was plenty of laughter, as there always is when these two girls are together. After dinner we went to York Castle for ice cream and this picture was taken at one of the small tables out front. I’d say that Laura and Maggie were in rare form but that would be a lie. For them, it isn’t even remotely rare. I won’t say that they are my favorite two nieces but they are certainly in the top five.
Cathy and Margie have known each other since Cathy’s family moved here in the late 1960s and were close friends through high school. Of course people move and it’s harder to be close friends with people who live far away but they have managed to keep in touch pretty well through the years. We moved far away from here but close to Margie and her family in the mid 1980s, so that helped. We’re back here again so usually only see her when she’s visiting family, although when Dorothy went to Alaska for spring break earlier this year they ran into each other in the airport. Small world. Or small airport, anyway.
We went to the benefit dinner for Erick’s Hope this evening and enjoyed seeing a few friends, including Diane and Amy, pictured here with Cathy. In their own words, “Erick’s Hope exists to serve children in need of love and security by providing spiritual, emotional, physical and educational support through a variety of programs and services.” For more info, see https://erickshope.wordpress.com/. There was a huge selection of items in the dessert auction (we got a peach pie!) as well as the more traditional silent auction items. And the roast beast was delicious. Sadly we had to leave early so didn’t get to visit with other friends who came later.
The Rockville Chamber of Commerce put on it’s first annual Community Fun Day today. I’m always impressed by the optimism in anything billed as being the first annual whatever. You could say that anything you do once was the first annual, but it implies you’ll do it again in a year. Even if you don’t, the first one was still the first (and last) annual event. In this case, I think there will be another next year, but time, as they say, will tell.
Our pastor had volunteered us to provide man (and woman) power to help with the event and I spent a bit of time in front of a grill. It’s a place I’m comfortable and reasonably capable, so that was fine. I also took what opportunity I was given to take a few pictures. The delay in getting the meat to the site helped give me more time.
There was a fire truck, ambulance, and police car there as attractions, along with a moon bounce and fairly large, inflatable slide. The fire truck attracted a fairly high percentage of the crowd, as they usually do. This youngster, however, stood out from the usual onlookers. He came in a pretty good rendition of a fireman’s outfit and was good enough to pose for a few pictures with what may very well be his future ride.
Nooree and Jane moved out today, heading back to Philadelphia and the next stage of their epic journey. We are so blessed to have had the chance to get to know them and look forward to hearing about the next stage of their lives. We’re also going to miss them and their darling, wonderful, exuberant, and beautiful children. Cathy and I have been involved in countless moves through the years and now that we’re the other side of 50 we have less trouble saying that we’ll play with the kids or I’ll take pictures for posterity. We actually didn’t even show up until the truck was about 99% loaded. Nooree asked if I’d take a group picture for them and here it is. Note: I’m in this picture. That part was taken by Cathy. The rest is mine.
Once again I’m late posting this (posting on Saturday, June 11) but the photo was taken on Monday, June 6. Cathy and I took the day off work today and the day was basically dedicated to getting Dorothy to the airport and on her way. We left home at about 11:30 and had no trouble getting to the airport. The airport in general was not crowded and the line at the Aeroflot counter in particular was not long so we didn’t have to wait more than about 15 minutes to check her one bag. We had plenty of time before her flight and as usual, I looked around for interesting views of Dulles.
The signs for the security entrance to the gates said there was only a ten minute wait so we sat and chatted a little while before Dorothy headed off for the first leg of her four leg journey to Turkey. Her first flight was by far the longest, going over the north Atlantic (and directly over Iceland) to Moscow. That’s a new country for Dorothy and she was happy to be able to add it to her list. After sitting with her a little while, we saw her off to the secured area of the airport and were home for a while before she boarded an Airbus 330-300 and her adventure began.
Oh, and FYI, I only took two-thirds of the second of these pictures. Cathy took the picture of me that has been edited into the one I took of Cathy and Dorothy.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any pictures during the ceremony. There were plenty of others to do that, including the professional photographer. Video was also shot, so it should be covered well enough. But in spite of having basically the best seat in the house (I was standing, actually), I didn’t have the liberty to stop and take pictures. In any case, I did get a few before and after the wedding, when my official duties were complete. Most of the guests had left for the reception and a few of us were still at the farm loading things into our vans and cars. The photographer was still working with Iris and Seth on a few pictures and I took a moment to join in, taking a couple of them walking together. It was a beautiful, if somewhat hot, afternoon but the rain held off and Iris and Seth got married.
Iris and Seth’s wedding weekend has finally arrived (well, if you count taking Friday off work as part of the weekend, anyway). We drove up to Pennsylvania this morning to get some of the final things done before tomorrow’s wedding. First, Cathy and I made sure the portable toilets were delivered and in the right locations. Then we went to the Round Barn to drop some things off and for me to set up the photo booth. Cathy and Tsai-Hong left to go to the farm and while they were there (and I was still working on the photo booth) it rained. I mean, it really rained. By the time I got to the farm, the rain had stopped but the ground was really wet. The few cars that came up to the cabin tore up the ground a bit and we stopped others from driving that far so it wouldn’t get any worse.
But about this tree. Iris and Seth wanted to plant a tree as part of their wedding but didn’t want to interrupt the ceremony long enough to do the whole thing, so they did most of the work today, a day ahead. Iris’s brother, Steve, dug the hole for them and the two of us carried the tree down from mom’s van. Then Seth and Iris did the actual planting. Tomorrow, during the service, they will put a few final shovels of dirt on it. Later we’ll put a fence around it to keep animals off and I’ll stake it to keep it upright until it has enough roots growing into the undisturbed soil around it.
The tree the picked is a black gum, also known as a tupelo. It is a variety called ‘Red Rage’ and is a lovely tree with shiny green leaves and spectacular fall color and with berries that attract birds. It was also picked as a tree likely to do well in both wet and drought conditions (i.e., “…for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…”).
We were fortunate enough to be able to share the excitement today with two families whose youngest sons were graduating from Trinity Christian School in Fairfax. This is Amy, James (the graduate) and Jon (the older brother). We’ve known them since Dorothy entered kindergarten and was a classmate of Jon’s through third grade (when we switched schools). We also enjoyed seeing Nate and his family. We see the youngest of his sisters (Karlee) more than the rest but it was great to see Laurie, Stacy, and Amy. Hard to believe it’s been nearly ten years since Amy got married! Anyway, a fun time. Congratulations, James! And Nate!
Few people take the time to comment on the pictures on my blog. Followers who see the pictures on Facebook do a little more frequently but even there it’s probably on fewer than half of my pictures. That’s fine, of course, I don’t want people to comment for the sake of commenting (although I do like knowing that people are actually seeing them).
The reason I bring this up is that I had my first non-spam comment in over 7 months after posting the picture of Cathy two days ago. Even that wouldn’t have rated a mention here except the comment came from Julia’s mom. And here I am, two days later, posting a picture of Julia (or, as I call her, Jules, because she’s a gem). She had finished just finished her junior year in college and was home for the summer. At least she was out of school for the summer. She was only home for a few days before heading off to some flatland in flyover country for an internship. I only make it sound like a wasteland because it meant that Jules couldn’t work for us this summer. We were hoping to get quite a bit of her time to work in both our house and Cathy’s mom’s. But, that’s the way it goes.
Maureen and Bob (Julia’s parents) asked us over for dinner this evening, sharing one of their few evenings before Julia left with us. It was an honor to be invited and we had such a good time with them all. Thanks, guys. We sure love you.
I nearly called it quits tonight. Since the beginning of 2011 (actually starting three days before that, on December 29, 2010, I’ve taken at least one photograph every day. The first year’s worth were posted to Facebook and then starting in 2012 they’ve been posted here. I still linked to them from Facebook and more recently posted them to Instagram, as well.
There have been a few times when I wasn’t sure I’d keep going. For the few of you who actually read this, rather than just enjoy the pictures on Instagram or Facebook, I really appreciate it. You are the main reason I’ve kept going. The next level are those who mention to me that they enjoy the pictures on Facebook. I know a lot more people see them than comment or even click on the “Like” button (because I hear from you in other ways) and that’s quite encouraging, as well.
This evening it was a few minutes before 11:00 p.m. and I hadn’t taken a picture. Cathy had just gotten home form her indoor soccer game and when I told her I was thinking about just not taking a picture today she said, “come on, get off the couch and take a picture of me.” So, I did. And here we are, continuing the streak at 1,967 days.
Generally Cathy likes to buy plants and put together hanging baskets for herself. That gives her the chance to be creative, to use the plants and colors that she particularly likes, and also saves money by starting with smaller plants that will quickly fill the baskets in any case. This year, however, there was an item in the school’s annual silent auction for four hanging baskets from a mostly wholesale nursery. Cathy bid on them and ended up with the high bid. Today she went and picked out the four she wanted. Three of them are going on hooks in the back yard and the fourth (the pink one in the middle of this photo) will go to her mom’s house.
Iris and Seth are getting married in a few short weeks. They chose to get married at ‘the farm’ in Pennsylvania and one thing Iris wanted was an arch or gateway like one she saw on Pinterest. If you search for ‘wedding arch’ there you will see hundreds (thousands?) of different arches made of a very wide variety of materials and decorated in an even wider array of materials. This is the one Iris liked and wanted us to reproduce. The wood was bought last year from a local saw mill and has been outside weathering since then. Today, we erected the gateway. It is not decorated yet, of course, but the heavy lifting (and I mean that literally) is done. From left to right in the picture are yours truly, Dot, Tsai-Hong, Ralph, Seth, Iris (with Bean), and Steve (with D’Argo).
Night two of the three show run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (or, as we call it, Judah in Tights) at Washington Christian Academy was a success and I was there again, enjoying the show and taking a few pictures, as is my wont. In addition to taking pictures during the show, I took some before, as well, while the actors and actresses were getting into costume and makeup. When they are ready, they hang about, talking and laughing, occasionally singing, and generally having a good time.
Judah, who plays Oberon, the King of the Fairies, was up on the boxes that make up most of the stage set. During the performance he’s up there a fair amount and at one point jumps off, his cape filling with air as he descends. During the show I’m not using flash, of course, so the 1/80 or 1/100 second exposure isn’t fast enough to stop the action and although I got the picture, it’s fairly blurred. So, before the show this evening I asked him to do it for me and was ready with my flash. This is the result. It still isn’t as sharp as I’d like, but motion is like that.
Cathy and I spent the afternoon and evening with Ben and Erin’s younger kids today and had a really nice time. We’ve gotten to know them reasonably well overt the last year and a bit, except Ethan, of course, because he only officially joined the family recently. We really enjoyed being with them and getting to know Ethan a bit better, in particular. Abbie came home for a little while before leaving again for a babysitting gig and although she’s not a fan of having her picture taken, she did let me take a few of her and her youngest brother. I think this one turned out pretty well.
The Washington Christian Academy high school theater production this year is to be A Midsummer Night’s Dream (by Bill Shakespeare). I spent a few hours today taking portraits of all the students involved (with the exception of one who was out sick). They didn’t have their costumes yet, but some had makeup put on for the first time today. As you can see, Judah is one such actor. He plays the part of Oberon, feuding with Titania over the fate of a changeling boy.
Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
I do but beg a little changeling boy,
To be my henchman.
As you probably know, he concocts a potion made from the flower ‘Love-in-idleness’ (the wild pansy, Viola tricolor) to make her fall in love with the first creature she sees upon waking. As is usual in such a play, particularly when the Bard of Avon is involved, things get complicated. If you want to know how it all ends, you’ll have to come next week. Show times are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at noon. Contact WCA for information on tickets.
We were fortunate enough to be able to help Kadie and Stephen celebrate their nuptials this afternoon and evening. Their wedding was beautiful, fun, and somewhat funny and we wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. Planning an outdoor wedding for the first week of April is a risk but aside from being a little cool it was a gloriously beautiful day. This is the happy couple leaving the reception, being saluted by their friends and family with light sabers and glow wands.
It was an exciting day today for some very good friends of ours. Ben and Erin and their family have been working to adopt Ethan for about two years and all that work and effort finally payed off. Ben and Lilly (daughter number three) left last Saturday and returned late this morning. Cathy and I were privileged to be allowed to come so I could take pictures. If you are connected to the family on facebook you have probably already seen some of them, posted by Erin and Abbie, but I wanted to put this up here. It’s by far my favorite of the pictures I got. We are all so excited to get to know Ethan and to welcome him into our community.
We had a bit of an unusual church service this week. Our pastor was out of town. He knew he would be leaving sometime but didn’t know when, for sure. This is all due to an adoption process that is very time consuming (not to mention costly) and fraught with all sorts of hurdles and hoops over and through which the adoptive parents must leap.
Instead of a regular sermon, we heard from six people from the church, four individuals and one couple. One of them was Alshadye, the young woman in this photograph. As we were preparing before the service, we were looking for pictures of the various speakers to put up on the screens. I had at least one of each of the others (and we also found some on Facebook) but I didn’t have any that were any good of Alshadye.
So, after the service I got out my camera (as I often do) and took some pictures, including this one of her with her son, Adera.
Not having a picture was pretty irrelevant, of course. What she shared with us was much more important and I’m so thankful to have her worshiping with us and involved in our community.
It was a pretty eventful day, but more about that in a minute. We want to Ben and Erin’s house for our bi-weekly prayer meeting and Bible study. It was a good time, both for the actual prayer and Bible study and simple as a time with friends. As usual, I brought my camera. I don’t always get it out, but I typically have it with me anywhere I go. This is Will and Ben (or more precisely Ben and Ben, but the younger Ben goes by his middle name, which is William.
Will took a bunch of pictures with my camera, as well, and I thought I’d share one of them with you. So, this is a self portrait that he took, not really realizing that the flash would totally overwhelm the rest of the picture. But I kind of like it. It’s a somewhat surreal self portrait and suited to his personality. He also took a really good picture of me making a weird face at the camera. I won’t be sharing that one.
I didn’t get out much today. I went to work and was in my office pretty much straight through. Rather than come home and find something to photograph today, however, Cathy call to say that her mom had asked us to come for dinner. She had some folks staying with her, Tim and Karen, who are in the middle of this photograph. She also had five others over, plus us, making 10. We had a very nice time chatting, visiting with folks we already know and meeting a few that we don’t.
There are many things I love about Washington Christian Academy. Among my favorite things they do it History Night. Every year the elementary school puts on a show. Each class represents a culture and period in history in story and song. We haven’t been every year but this has been a part of our lives for many years and it always brings me back to Dorothy’s elementary school days. This is Collyn, first grade teacher and sometime Egyptian queen, in her classroom, which has been transformed into the inside of a pyramid, decorated with the life sized self-portraits of her students. We still have Dorothy’s from first grade.
When I got up this morning there was just about 20 inches of snow on the ground, give or take an inch depending on where I measured. The wind was blowing it around a fair amount and while there weren’t many drifts in the yard, there were around any large object (car, house, tree, that sort of thing). I shoveled about half way down the drive but of course much of that work will need to be repeated tomorrow, once it stops snowing.
In the early afternoon we went for a short walk out to Norbeck Road. Our street hasn’t been plowed although something had driving down it and there were two large tire tracks we could walk in. The main road through the neighborhood had been plowed once but still had quite a bit of snow on it. We managed to get out to Norbeck, which was quite passable, if you could get to it (which I don’t think we could, even in our four-wheel-drive vehicle.
But it was nice to get out. Of course, after an hour or so in the snow, particularly on the way back when the wind was in our faces, it was even nicer to get indoors again. We did stop to enjoy watching our neighbor kids sledding on a hill their dad had made with a picnic table and piled snow. It wasn’t Vail or Stowe but for little kids, it was just about perfect.
Since last summer we have been trying to have a somewhat regular family dinner. Those who can get together on a Thursday evening at a local restaurant. We can’t all come every week but when we can, we do. It’s been a very good thing and I only wish we had started it years earlier. Over the Christmas and New Year season our weeks get quite busy with other things so it’s been a while since we were all together. Tonight we had a nice meal at El Mariachi. The meal was secondary, though, it’s always the people. So thankful for this funny old family of ours. It isn’t a great picture but at least you can see everyone.
Here’s one more picture from Tuesday, January 12. After a short break while I walked around the campus and then went and checked into my hotel, I went back to the school and picked up Dorothy and two of her friends, Bobby (center), and John (right). We went to Nick’s Famous Roast Beef for dinner. We weren’t sure they would be open, because in December the owners were indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States (i.e., they are accused of hiding receipts from the IRS to avoid taxes). We were happy to find that they were open for business and we enjoyed a nice meal. When we left, it had begun raining and by the time I was back at my hotel, it was snowing a fairly wet snow. I wasn’t sure what that might mean for the drive home tomorrow.
It’s been a fairly busy time and with the weather turning cold, we haven’t been out and about as much. Because of that I’ve had a harder time getting out to take pictures. This evening I asked Dorothy and Cathy if I could take their pictures and they both let me.
I’m going with one of Cathy that I think is pretty good. She’s not dressed up, wearing a soccer jersey, but I don’t think that matters at all.
We have some really good friends. In fact, we often wonder how we have so many friends, because we’re somewhat antisocial at times and we have a hard time getting to know people. But somehow, it happens. Way back when Dorothy was in first grade, there were two first grade classes at the school. Dorothy had Erin as a teacher. The other class was taught by Krystal. Although we didn’t get to know Krystal well that year, in the few years that followed we did. We also got to know Krystal’s husband, Mike, pictured here.
Since getting to know them, they have become two of our very favorite people in the universe (and possibly beyond). We take every opportunity we can to see them, which isn’t nearly enough (life happens). We went with them to a newish Peruvian restaurant in Olney this evening and I took this picture of Mike, which I think is really good.
Julia came over this evening and she and Dorothy cooked with me. We made some yogurt that is taking longer than expected to “yog” but we also made some pretty wicked mac and cheese. After an enjoyable dinner, the girls (including Cathy) helped me narrow a collection of pictures to something manageable for a slide show for church on Sunday. We paused part way through and I took a few pictures (which I know will surprise you).
It’s been a pretty busy holiday season for us and we’ve had people over for dinner more than in any similar period in a long time (not necessarily more people in total, but more separate events). This evening we had Kendra and Jacob over for dinner and then we just hung out talking. They are heading back to college tomorrow and it was very nice to get an entire evening with them. I took some pictures through the evening but then at one point asked them all to sit together for a more posed picture, and this is the result.
We had Jean, Maria, and Lexi over for dinner this evening and I roasted a goose. That’s something I’ve never done before and I was a little worried it wouldn’t turn out well, but it did. I may have overcooked it slightly so the meat was a little tougher than it should have been but the flavor was great. It released a serious quantity of fat, in which I cooked some potatoes and beets. The potatoes were creamy and rich and the beets (if you like that sort of thing) sweet and luscious. Better than the meal, however, was the company. What a nice evening we had. There was much merriment and laughter.
Speaking of New Year’s traditions…
Way back in 2004, these folks invited us over for what Amy described as a low-key, casual New Year’s Day party. We had known them for a few years, when Dorothy and Jon went to Kindergarten together and by this time they were in second grade, James was in Kindergarten and we were carpooling to school together. We had a great time and were very happy when Amy made the same offer the following year. She made that same offer every year through 2011. We had two years off after that but for the last three New Year’s Days, we have had them over to our house. The other guests change as we like to mix it up a little, but Amy, the boys (and fondue) are the constants. What a nice time we had together.
For as long as I can remember my mom has had a New Year’s Eve party (on New Year’s Eve). I don’t actually know when she started doing that but it’s been a while, anyway. We generally go but it’s been a while since we actually stayed until midnight. For the last few years we’ve gone (or at least Dorothy and I have gone) from there to a party with folks from our church. This year we left early again, but Dorothy went one way and Cathy and I went another, spending the last hour and a half of 2015 with some friends. Anyway, here is mom (Dot) and Tsai-Hong but the picture also shows the spread, which is always pretty fabulous (and there’s more to be put out, as well).
NOTE: With this photo, I finish five years of taking at least one photograph every day and posting it to the web. Four years are here on the blog (I really need to add that first year to this). Thank you for joining me in this photographic journey. I can’t say if I’ll keep it up through the next year, but you never know.
Dorothy and Karlee met in fourth grade and had only that one year together at the same school. Half way through that year, though, I took the two girls downtown and we went ice skating at the National Gallery of Art Ice Rink and then went to the gallery itself. I took the picture to the right, which is Four Dancers, by Edgar Degas, and modified it a little, replacing two of Degas’ dancers with two of my favorites. That was December 27, 2005. It seems like yesterday.
The girls have grown up in the ten years since then and despite being at different schools starting the next year and being in different states a few years later, we have managed to keep in touch and (I’m happy to say) Dorothy and Karlee remain very good friends. This is in part through two annual trips that have become quite a tradition. Starting that next summer, Karlee came with us to the beach. She’s been with us at the beach every year we’ve gone (we didn’t go in 2007 or 2009) until this year, when she couldn’t make it. Dorothy didn’t come this year, either, so it might have been a bit awkward. We were only there two nights, in any case, coming home early.
The other trip was our annual trip downtown. We didn’t make it every year and Karlee wasn’t with us every year we did go (and once we went to Baltimore, instead of D.C.). Actually, after that first trip in 2005, Karlee didn’t go downtown with us again until 2012. However, she has gone with us every year since then and I was so happy when we asked her if she was up for it this year and she seemed excited to go. In general we drive down and park in what seems an outrageously expensive parking garage. Then we walk. Sometimes we walk a lot.
In 2012 we went to the Natural History Museum, the American History Museum, and finally Union Station. You can see some pictures from that in the post titled Union Station, Friday, December 28, 2012.
In 2013 we walked to the Freer Gallery and were particularly impressed with the Peacock Room. Also, they had the Washington Gospels on exhibit. Also known as Codex Washingtonianus, it is the third-oldest Greek parchment manuscript of the Gospels in the world (late 4th–early 5th century). From there we went to the Pension Building (a.k.a. the National Building Museum) and the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery (which share a building just south of the Verizon Center). There are two picture from that trip in the post titled Freer Gallery and Pension Building, Monday, December 30, 2013.
Finally, last year, we went to the National Archives and saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, as well as a 1297 copy of Magna Carta, which was about to begin celebrating its 800th anniversary. We also went to the National Gallery of Art and then walked around the U.S. Capitol building to the Library of Congress where, in addition to the magnificent Main Reading Room, we saw another copy of Magna Carta, this time one of the four originals from 1215. Two pictures from that trip are in two separate posts, titled Dorothy and Karlee At The Capitol, Wednesday, December 31, 2014 and Main Reading Room, Library of Congress, Wednesday, December 31, 2014.
This year, we went downtown without any real plan as to what we would see. As I took a wrong turn and went under the mall, ending up near the Maine Street Fish Market, we toyed with the idea of driving to Richmond instead, but we were already in D.C. so we stayed. We parked in a garage in the Evening Sun building ($21) and walked to the White House, where the first of this year’s pictures was taken. Actually, we started on the south front and then walked around the Pennsylvania Avenue, where this pictures was taken.
We backtracked a little on Pennsylvania Avenue to the Renwick Gallery (at 17th and Pennsylvania) where we saw a number of interesting exhibits, some of which are shown in my pictures here. First was Shindig by Patrick Dougherty, who weaves “enormous pods that offer discovery and sanctuary to visitors“ with “willow osiers and saplings.” It was a difficult exhibit to photograph for a number of reasons, including the low light levels, the crowds of people, and of course the shear size of the exhibit. The two pictures here give you some idea. In the second one, you can see that I had to time my photograph between people walking past (and almost made it!).
Following that, in the next room, was a piece called Plexus A1 by Gabriel Dawe. It was a rainbow of color made with thread and light and was quite beautiful. Perhaps not as stunning as a real rainbow but less fleeting and still quite lovely.
After that there was an exhibit made of index cards stacked into giant pillars like the rock formations found in Bryce National Park (only without the color). I didn’t include a photo of that, but I found it quite compelling (if a little odd). I particularly liked the monochrome aspect of it combined with splashes of color from the people walking in an around the piers. After that we went upstairs to a large room housing 1.8 by Janet Echelman. It was a large net suspended from the ceiling and colored by lights that cycled slowly through a variety of colors. I particularly enjoyed watching people watching the colors change, especially those lying on the floor with their camera phones aimed up at the netting.
From there was Middle Fork (Cascades) by John Grade, a large “tree” lying on its side and suspended from the ceiling by wires. It was hollow and interesting and kind of odd but I liked it well enough. Getting into that room took a little bit of waiting but it was worth it for the room that came after. Well, there was a map of the eastern seaboard with the water represented by pale blue-green marbles, fastened to the floor and walls. That was alright, I guess, but it didn’t really excite me.
There was also a sort of maze-like thing made from black leather strips. Eh.
But I really enjoyed In the Midnight Garden by Jennifer Angus. It was a room with bright pink walls covered with designs made from a wide variety of insects. I really liked that room. The color, the patterns on the wall, the fact that they were bugs and sometime huge bugs, was really nice. Worth the price of admission by itself (of course the exhibit was free!).
From the Renwick we walked to the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery and then to the National Gallery of Art. The final picture for today was taken in the Portrait Gallery and is of a very stern Alexander Graham Bell with Dorothy and Karlee trying to imitate his “dad face.”
All in all, we had a great time. We were tired but satisfied with our outing and look forward to doing it again next year (God willing).
One more photo of Darius, because you really can’t have too many pictures of this little fellow. He and his dad leave for home tomorrow (and by the time I am writing this, on Thursday, they are home). We were out doing a little after-Christmas shopping this afternoon and then went to see them in the early evening. We were sad to say goodbye but all good things must come to an end. Hopefully we will see them again before too long. Thanks, Darius, for helping to make our Christmas bright.
Christmas is over. Today is after-Christmas, more popularly known as Boxing Day. We did things around the house today and I went to the hardware store for a few pieces of lumber for two different projects I’m working on.
In the evening we went back to Cathy’s mom’s for dinner and after dinner we took a couple group photos for posterity. Here we are. What more can I say?
I warned you that there might be a few pictures of this little boy. After opening our own stockings at home, Cathy, Dorothy, and I went over to Cathy’s mom’s house and enjoyed the rest of the morning and the early afternoon with her, with David, and with Darius. In particular we participated in Darius’ joy in opening his presents. If you know him, then you will see the joy in his eyes in this picture.
He was vary patient, waiting until after breakfast to open presents. Then he helped his dad pass presents around, stopping now and again to open one to himself, of course.
If you don’t like pictures of cute children, then perhaps you might want to take a break from following my posts for a few days. Darius is in town and that means pictures. I’m afraid that there will be the occasional picture of him through next Monday, when he and David head home. We really enjoy seeing them both and are so glad that, even if he sometimes gets us all confused with each other, he has some inkling of who we are. Like many kids this age, he tries not to let good photographs be taken of him. This one turned out pretty well, though.
Because our church meets in the afternoon, our Sunday schedule is a bit unusual, compared to what it has been in the past. We got home this evening at about 6:40 and we could hear the music from “Santa’s Sleigh” as he made his annual pre-Christmas Eve rounds of our neighborhood. We didn’t have long to wait. Within a minute or two he was coming up our street, music blaring and Santa Ho-Ho-Hoing as he came. His helpers (Elves, I suppose) threw a few fibre optic “Santa Lights” our way and Cathy let me take a few of her, twirling them around in our front hall.
We had our friend Kimia over this evening and she invited some people she knows (a few of whom we know, as well) to hear about her plans to go to South American. She was a missionary kid in Africa and she always expected that when the time came, that’s where she’d go. As it turned out (and is continuing to turn out), she’s going to Colombia, instead. It was nice to have a chance to catch up with her again and to meet some of her friends. While she was here ahead of the others, we got caught up on all our lives. She also was brave enough to hold Solomon and pose for a few pictures. He’s a Mexican bird, rather than Colombian, but at least he isn’t an African grey.
This is the fourth year in a row that I’ve posted a picture from my company holiday party. The previous posts were on December 07, 2012 , December 19, 2013 , and December 12, 2014. This year, I took fewer pictures because I was a little distracted. On the way to the party, the brakes in my van stopped working. I was approaching a traffic light and it turned red. I put on the brakes and nothing happened. The car barely slowed down. I tried pumping them and the pedal went to the floor. Fortunately no one had started through the intersection and I went through without incident but I had to use the parking brake to slow down the rest of the way to the party. I had the van towed from there and got a ride back from the party. Anyway, enough about that. The party itself was nice and it’s always good to be with these folks and not be talking about work.
I’m not a big fan of the selfie and I don’t even particularly like having my picture taken. I know that’s a bit funny coming from someone who is often trying to get others to smile for me, but it’s the truth. I would much rather look at pictures of other people than of myself. I suppose that’s a fairly common attitude.
This evening, though, I set the camera up on a china cabinet and set the self-timer, focused as best I could, and took a few pictures. This is the best, in terms of my expression, etc., although it’s not perfectly sharp. Still, not a terrible portrait. And as much as I don’t like looking at myself, I guess I should be thankful that I don’t have to very often. Sorry, for all of you who have a harder time avoiding it.
Taking pictures of kids can be fun but it can also present some very unique challenges. One of the biggest issues with kids is that, even if they want to be photographed, they often don’t know how to smile naturally. That’s sometimes true for adults, as well, of course, but not as common. With kids, even if they have the most beautiful smile in the world, if you ask them to smile, you get a very forced, very unnatural, toothy grin.
What’s really nice, though, is when you are able to catch an real, natural smile on one of these little ones. This picture is a great example. Rena’s “smile please” isn’t terrible, but it’s still a little less natural than her “real” smile. This is her real smile. It may not be her biggest, happiest smile, but it’s genuine and delightful.
We had a beautiful day today and Cathy and I took advantage of it. After a chilly morning, with significant frost, it warmed up to almost 50°F and in the sun it felt more than that. We went to a local nature preserve and walked through the woods and down to the Hawlings River. Not exactly the might Yukon or Amazon, but it’s a pretty little river and quite cheering on an early winter’s day. Here’s a picture of Cathy, enjoying the view and the sound of running water.
This is Grace. Grace likes babies. I mean, she really likes babies. The baby in vogue at the moment is Marley, an adorable little thing, although her mother says she beginning to exhibit signs of being naughty in a stealthy sort of way. She makes up for it by being so darn cute, but of course, human nature being what it is, she’ll need some correction along the way.
It’s been about eleven months that we’ve been getting to know Grace and her family, as well as all our wonderful new friends at Cross Community Rockville. We’ve been greatly blessed by them and I don’t know that my feeble writing skills can do justice to how grateful we are to them all.
One thing I’m especially looking forward to, as I do wherever I am, it watching these little ones grow up. This is one of the few benefits of being old—the ability to see the trees and not just the forest. On the other hand, of course, with age comes oldness, as we like to say.
It’s been really nice to have Dorothy home, even if only for a few days. It wasn’t a particularly promising day, weather-wise, today, but Cathy, Dorothy, and I took a chance and went to Great Falls late this morning. We were not alone and it was fairly crowded, at least for late November. Still, we had a great time, walking out to the overlook on Falls Island and then climbing up and over the rocks on Rocky Islands, below the falls. This is from a place we call Sandy Beach, looking towards the north end of Rocky Islands.
Like many families, we have a few traditions. One of them is a family photo on Thanksgiving. It’s nice to be able to look at a collection of them for each year, thinking back to all the changes, happy and sad, that have taken place over the years. Generally there are two cameras set up, mom’s and mine, and they are both set to take a photo on a ten second delay. I am sitting on the floor in front in this picture because it was the easiest place for me to be, considering I had to start the timers going and then hurry to get in, without tripping over a tripod in the process.
I had dinner with these guys this evening at Matchbox in Rockville. If you go there, I can highly recommend the spicy meatball pizza and the plate of six mini-burgers. The burgers themselves are good but the pile of thinly sliced, fried onions were really great. We had a great time talking about whatever came to mind. Thanks, guys for putting up with my puns. This picture was taken outside, where there is a fire burning at the corner of the building. I didn’t have anything to put the camera on, so the platform around the fire takes up a fair amount of the foreground.
Cathy’s a fan of Operation Christmas Child. I mean, a huge fan. She collects things over the course of most of the year. In the past, when she starting participating, she did a box with Dorothy and a box with her friend and our next-door neighbor, Amy. When we moved and didn’t see Amy much, they continued to do two boxes, though. This year, Cathy bought a set of five boxes, because it was convenient to buy them that way. Rather than using two and saving the others for the future, though, she decided to fill all six. Wait, wasn’t it just a five-pack? Yes, but she did six. Just because.
We filled them this afternoon, having to “vacuum pack” the stuffed animal in one in order to get everything into that box, but we made it. This is Cathy, with her six boxes, heading off to deliver them to the local pick-up location. Time to start collecting things for next years boxes.
He’s nearly a year old and what a year its been. Back on December 6, last year, I posted a picture of week-old Grant’s feet. Now, he’s walking, tentatively and still oh, so cute.
Cathy and I were at the WCA Christmas Bazaar today and more than the bazaar itself, what we really enjoyed was seeing people that we don’t see nearly enough, now that Dorothy has moved on to the next thing. I spent a wonderful half hour or so chatting with Angie and while we were visiting, Grant’s mom, Collyn, arrived. I was given the honor of being allowed to hold and watch Grant while his mom went for some food. He looked a little concerned when mom walked off but a few moments of distraction and he was fine. We had a nice little visit. A shame he won’t remember me, but that’s the way it is. I’ll remember him and I have a few pictures to help (including a couple selfies taken with my SLR, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do).
We had our bi-weekly prayer meeting and Bible study this evening and these three were having fun with the harpsichord at the Brights’ house. Each played singly but when I got out my camera, they gathered and all played together.
As you can see, they are all on the hammier end of the spectrum, mugging for the camera. They actually can play pretty well and I’m looking forward to hearing them play more as they get older and more accomplished.
We got to have Luna stay at our house for the weekend. Actually, she was only here a little more than 24 hours. Cathy brought her home yesterday and then we took her back to her house this evening. Before we took her back, though, I took a few pictures of her with Cathy. She’s a good dog and quite easy to care for. The sheet on the sofa tells her this is her place to sleep, and she seems to know that quite well.
Time for a picture of Cathy. Often these are taken when it’s getting late and I haven’t taken any pictures for the day. Still, I’m always glad for an excuse to take her picture and always glad for the pictures I get. Pictures like this generally get more ‘likes’ on Facebook than any other sort, so they are clearly popular with my audience, as well.
Inevitably she will make silly faces for a few and we’ll sometimes try something a little different. This evening, after the faces, I took a few with her turning around quickly, spinning her hair out to the side. This picture happened in between, though. There were three ‘normal’ pictures (I put normal in quotes because silly is the norm, around here).
This one turned out quite well. Thank you, Cathy, for putting up with me all these years.
Cathy planted this bed where there used to be a large northern red oak (Quercus rubra) in the front of our front yard. There is a freeze warning for this evening and although it may not be cold enough for long enough to kill these plants, Cathy wanted a photo of it today, just in case. As it turned out (I’m posting this on Monday), the frost would have done significant damage but would probably not have killed everything. As it was, though, Cathy put a sheet down over the plants both Saturday and Sunday nights and there was no frost under the sheet. So, in this case, Cathy not only made her bed, but she used a bed sheet. She did not, however, sleep in it.
Kind of random photo today. I had been at the office a little while and noticed a small pile of pennies on my desk. I thought that would be nice as a still life, so got the camera out with my macro lens and took a few pictures. Some had a bit more depth of field (more of the penny in focus) but this is the one I liked the best (taken at f/2.8). They were lit by a combination of a halogen lamp that was directly over them and a flash, bounced off a white card.
It was nice to be at the WCA Banquet this evening. Without having a child at the school, it is all too easy to lose touch with people we really enjoy, so we were glad to take this opportunity to keep our friendships alive. One person we didn’t particularly expect to see what Charlotte. Her youngest is a senior and was going to a different school but transferred back to WCA, so she was at the banquet. As you can see, the photo of Charlotte and Cathy was fairly expertly photobombed by Charlotte’s husband, Andy.
We weren’t going to spend a week visiting Dorothy at school and not meet some of her friends. That’s mostly what we did today, hanging out at our hotel and doing a little shopping until the later afternoon. Then we met various groups of Dorothy’s friends. This is one of a few group pictures that I took the help me remember names and put them to faces as Dorothy talks about people she is hanging out or doing things with over the course of the semester. I didn’t get pictures of everyone she talks about, but what I have will be a big help to me. I’m hopeless when it comes to names.
After the memorial service today, we had the family, including those from out of town (those that were staying in town for the night, anyway) over for dinner. I hadn’t taken any pictures earlier in the day. It simply wasn’t appropriate and the opportunities were fairly slim, anyway. So, I pulled out the camera and took some as everyone chatted, ate, and enjoyed being together. This isn’t a wonderfully posed picture but it does convey the casual nature of the evening.
When I was in eighth grade, we had just moved back to the USA after a year abroad. My best friend from childhood had moved away in the meantime, so in some ways it was like moving to a new place. One of the new friends I made was Rob. We were in homeroom together (sorted by last name) and we because very good friends. He lived about a block from the school and I went home with him after school on occasion. Those were good times and Rob’s mom was a big part of that, always welcoming and encouraging. She passed away a week ago and will be missed by her family and friends. I ‘just happened’ to have my camera today, so I was available to take family photos after lunch.
Cathy and I wanted to go to the fair this year and it’s always fun to be at the fair with kids. So, we arranged to meet this young family and spend the late afternoon and evening with them. We got there before they did and that gave us time to check out the photography in the Arts, Crafts, and Photography building (building 3). I had entered four photographs and managed to earn a 2nd and a 4th place ribbon for two of them. Not necessarily all I could have hoped for, but not a bad showing for a first time exhibitor. It was nice to see friends there, as well, and to get a personal tour of the photography exhibit from Sarah.
We met Andy, Kelly, and their kids after that and spent a while looking at animals before heading down to the carnival portion of the fair. We enjoyed watching them ride on various rids and I took quite a few pictures. They were not actually on the swings when I took this. We tired out before they did and decided to call it a night at about 8:20. They kept going and stayed until about 10:00. We were tired from the heat but glad that we went and we had a really nice time with these lovely kids.
I want to thank Tom, whose retirement party was today, for taking a risk and hiring me, back in January, 1997. I think it’s worked out pretty well for all involved, including the company, but he was already Cathy’s boss when I applied for the job he had been advertising. Tom was our boss for about five years, directly at first and then with a supervisor between him and us. In 2002 I went to work on project work and haven’t worked for Tom since then, but I won’t forget his bringing me in. I also worked with the other three in this picture, Julie, Maureen, and Shayna, a lot more back then and it was very good to see them. But it was Tom’s day. All the best in your every endeavor.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Not a joyful day, but a few moments repose in the late morning. Cathy can often be found weeding, either the garden or the lawn (which I think is probably a futile task, but I digress). As you can see, the black-eyed Susans are in full swing. There are some coneflower over Cathy’s shoulder and some Verbena on the far right (and much more of it just out of the frame on the right. The rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is still putting out its pink-purple blooms on the left.
I took a few pictures around the house this evening. The best of them (by far) is this one of Cathy.
There are a lot of things that could be said about Cathy. How she puts up with me would be high on the list of things that are nice about her. She lets me take my pictures and only rarely complains about it. She lets me take pictures of her, as part of that, which is especially nice. She and Dorothy bath are fairly resigned to it, I guess, but they could fight it, and I appreciate that they do not (usually).
This picture turned out pretty well, I think. A pretty, young thing, my lovely wife.
We had a somewhat impromptu get together this evening (which as I write this, on July 30, was actually a very long week and a half ago). Our house isn’t necessarily set up for kids these days, with Dorothy having moved on from dolls and toys, but we managed to find things that would entertain the younger folks. This little gem, Addie by name, deserves to have an exclamation mark after her name. She is a bright light wherever she goes and we were terrifically glad that she came with her family.
She is not bashful in the least, while her brother, Jonah, is a little bit shy. I got pictures of him, as well, but they don’t do him justice. I think, however, that we will get along very well and I’m looking forward to getting to know them in the years ahead.
Our church has a longstanding tradition, going back at least a month, that on the first Sunday of each month we have a lunch together before our service, which is at 2:30 in the afternoon. It was such a beautiful day today and being the Fourth of July weekend, we thought a picnic would be appropriate. I took a few pictures and it wasn’t hard to pick this one as my favorite. The girls are Hope, Grace, and Charis (from the Greek χάρις, meaning grace). So, Hope, Grace, and Grace (or Grace2).
I enjoyed photographing a wedding today so I actually have quite a few photographs that I could post. But I don’t really know the bride and groom, just the groom’s parents, so I decided I would pass on that and post this picture, taken later in the evening. Dorothy and Karlee went up to Frederick for the day today and then when I got home, we went out to IHOP for a late dinner. That’s where this picture was taken. So sad that we won’t have these two girls at the beach with us this year.
After work today Cathy and I went to a benefit dinner for a non-profit run by some friends. We had a nice meal but more enjoyable still was the company. It’s good to connect with folks that we don’t see often enough and with our recent travel and how busy it’s been at work, it’s been worse than usual. We sat with Bob, Maureen, and Julia, among others, and especially enjoyed Bob and Julia singing for us. The acoustics were not fabulous and there was a bit of noise in the room (you can’t get people to stop talking at an event like this) but they did a great job. I think they are singing “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel.
David was going to pick up his and Cathy’s mom later this morning so Cathy and I had a little free time. We drove to the botanic garden, which is part, along with the zoo, aquarium, and Tingley Beach, of the Albuquerque Biopark. It is a relatively green and lush oasis in the high New Mexico desert, close to the Rio Grande and near the heart of the city. We enjoyed pretty much each of the various gardens and the two conservatories. One of the two conservatories is dedicated to Mediterranean plants and is very lush and wet. One thing they have a lot of there are sedums, of which Cathy is very fond. I particularly like them in bloom and this first photo is of a couple sedum flowers.
Cathy posed next to a large container of sedum and fern (the sedum is the brownish colored plant). We enjoyed the well established portion of the rose garden. There is a new section that looks like it was only completed this spring and the plants are still quite small but should be very nice in a year or two. The Japanese garden is lovely, although the local, southwest plants predominated, the feel was still appropriate for the name. Wood ducks and a black-crowned night heron were a nice addition.
We walked out to the farthest garden area of the park, past Heritage Farm to the Cottonwood Gallery. This is a more natural setting with all native and naturalized plants, predominated by the local cottonwood tree. They were shedding their seeds, which are attached to cottony hairs, giving the trees their common name, and covering the ground with a cottony fur. We saw a cottontail rabbit, as well, and lots of dragon- and damselflies, including this blue damselfly.
David took us to the Rio Grande Nature Center this morning, less than ten minutes from where he lives. It was pretty hot out today so we spent a while in the building, enjoying the view out over the pond where there were ducks, turtles, a swan and quite a few smaller birds. Cathy and I walked across the Paseo Del Bosque Trail to the Rio Grande and back, seeing lots of dragonflies, a huge toad, and quite a few lizards. Before we left I took a few pictures of the rest of the group on a bench sitting in the shade of a good size cottonwood tree.
We’ve known Lexi most of her life. Her mom and Cathy have been friends since high school. We first met Lexi when we visited her family in Germany when she was not yet three years old and when they moved back to the area, we have tried to see them on something resembling a regular basis. We live far enough apart that we haven’t always done as well as we would like, but we’ve managed to stay connected.
Today, Lexi graduated from high school and we were proud to be there with her family to celebrate. As the students filed into the room, they went past the end of our row of seats. She was only in view for a half second as she went by but I managed to get a picture before she continued to the front. I took quite a few pictures during the ceremony and afterward, at their house, but this is my favorite. Congratulations, dear one.
I happened to send a text last week to our good friend Kristine and it turns out she was going to be in town this week with her son, Brandon. So, we had them over for dinner this evening. I don’t suppose many of you will be at all surprised that I took some pictures, particularly of Brandon. We went out into the back yard and I got pictures of him jumping and doing hand stands, as well as some of him just sitting in the grass. Those turned out pretty well.
Before they left, however, Solomon wanted to come out and get into some pictures. I have a few of Solomon sitting on Kristine’s shoulder but he really wanted to have his picture taken with Brandon. Brandon, on the other hand, was a little less enthusiastic about it, but he reluctantly agreed. Here is one of the pictures that I got of them. I think it’s pretty good, don’t you?
Before church this afternoon (our gathering is not until 2:30 on Sundays) a bunch of us went to York Castle for ice cream. If you happen to be in the Montgomery College (Rockville) neighborhood on a hot afternoon (or anytime, really), you could make worse choices for a refreshing snack. I went with Caribbean cherry (although I’m not entirely sure how that differs from mainland, North American cherry) and was not disappointed. Cathy had lychee, which is quite different but also very good. A lot of folks played it safe with mango, which is always a sure thing. I was taking pictures and Kellan wasn’t sure he wanted his taken until I suggested we take one together. He smiled for the picture that Abbie took with my camera after this but I’m posing pictures that I took, so that’s what you get. Taking a selfie with an SLR isn’t quite as easy as with a phone, but this one turned out pretty well.
I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a bunch of new people in this church plant in which we’ve become involved. Normally meeting and getting to know new people terrifies me, but I’m actually enjoying it. At the same time, I still have moments of terror. You see, I suffer from a serious but somewhat strange malady. I don’t know what it is called or even if it has a name. For all I know it is called “you’re an idiot”. Anyway, I have a hard time with names. Always have. I remember faces pretty well but when it comes to associating names with them, not so much. I’m not talking your normal level of forgetting names. This is serious. Even with someone I know reasonably well, I hesitate to use their name because I’m afraid I’ll get it wrong.
As for this photo, I have only known these folks for a couple months, seeing them at church once a week. It makes me nervous to label the picture with their names. Someone, please correct me (gently) if I got it wrong. Nevertheless, I’m glad to be stretched in this way. This is where I need to be.
Dorothy is not a big fan of me posting pictures of her here. Still, I can’t exactly not post pictures of her from time to time. She’s my daughter, after all. Today the only pictures I took were of her (plus one of our friend, Julia), so I had little in the way of options.
This is, I think, the best of those pictures from today. It has Dorothy not quite smiling but certainly giving the slightly sardonic expression that we all know so well. Of course, she is also wearing her had “dad style.”
I had the privilege and the pleasure to drive one of Dorothy’s fellow interns to the airport this afternoon. Many of the interns are taking externships, basically the lab portion of the class after the lecture part that was the last nine months. Dorothy is planning to take hers next summer for scheduling reasons (college, etc.).
Cassandra is the first of the seven interns to actually leave, heading off the day after graduation to Turkey for a week. From there she’ll go to Central Asia for three weeks before settling in to her final destination, where she will be until just before Thanksgiving. So glad to have had a chance to hear about her plans and look forward to hearing about the time she’ll be spending overseas. Bon voyage, Cassandra, and God bless you.
As mentioned, we were in Manhattan for a wedding. So, here is a picture of Cathy’s brother’s son, William and his lovely bride, Beth. The wedding itself was at the Church of the Transfiguration on 29th Street, a pretty, little, brick church between towering sky scrapers. From there we all rode a bus to the reception, where this photo was taken on the roof of a 21 story building, with the setting sun behind them. Here’s to the bride and groom. Thanks for including us in your day.
For quite a while now I’ve wanted to get to one of Lexi’s lacrosse games. It’s hard because they are usually early enough in the day that I have to leave work a little early. They are also in Virginia, making traffic a real issue. When she told me that her last high school game would be today, I decided I’d do what it took to get there. The fact that there was a significant rain delay helped me get there before the game started, even though it was about 35 miles out interstate 66 in Virginia. The game went better then expected and Lexi scored (I think) 9 of the team’s 13 goals in their 13 to 12 victory. Of course, winning meant that this wasn’t their last game, but that’s the way these things work. In any case I had a great time and got a few half decent photos, including this one.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I went camping with some of the guys from church. When Ben (our pastor) suggested a camping trip, I mentioned that our family owns some property in Pennsylvania and it might be a good place to go. While talking about the place, I mentioned something about my niece planning to have her wedding there next year and that there was some work that needed to be done. He thought it would be great to have the guys do a bit of bush whacking. We cleared the brush growing on the inside slope of the dam around the pond as far as the overflow pipe (about half way around).
I didn’t work as hard as some of the younger guys (or as hard as the one guy there who is older than me, for that matter). Mostly I dragged the cut brush down the dam and into the woods. I also took a few breaks to take pictures, both of the guys working and of the flowers growing on the dam. While I was photographing the bluets in the first picture here, a small insect came to visit them. At first I thought it was something related to the sphinx moths but after doing a little searching I believe instead that it is a bee fly (Family Bombyliidae). Anyway, pretty neat.
After the work on the dam, cutting brush including trees with trunks up to about three inches in diameter, we did a bit of shooting. We had in our number a former county police officer as well as a few gun enthusiasts. We had a gun safety talk and then we shot the heck out of a few targets. I’m happy to say that no one was hurt, although the ground behind the targets was a bit torn up. The photo I have posted here of yours truly was taken by Joel, one of my fellow campers (thanks, Joel!). Yes, that’s one of the hated (and also much loved) AR-15s you hear so much about. I found it to be quite easily handled, much lighter and less kick than my .35 Remington, which has a significantly larger cartridge. In addition to the rifle, I also fired three handguns, a Glock .40 caliber a Glock 9mm and a Ruger .22 long. I quite enjoyed myself. Our neighbors (about a half mile away) came to see what the fuss was all about, but once they saw it was nothing untoward and it was me, not some local kids, they left us in peace (or whatever, but this clearly isn’t Maryland).
While the shooting was going on, there was some serious meat being cooked over the fire. David had brought two boneless rib roasts, which he put on a spit and wrapped with bacon. They cooked for about two hours and where between medium rare and medium when they were taken off. I have to say that while there are not many pieces of meat that I don’t enjoy, a good piece of rib cooked over an open fire is about as good as it gets. This meat was about as close to perfection as you are likely to find.
When the shooting, with its significant noise, was finished and our delicious lunch was consumed, some folks packed up for the day and headed home. It was early enough, though, and Andy and his son wanted to do a little more fishing. So, those who were still there spent a much quieter hour or so pulling bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus) out of the pond. I think their chances of catching bass would have been increased with spinners rather than worms but I don’t think it made much difference to Ethan. What he caught was much less important than that he caught something. We weren’t catching breakfast, so the fact that everything was too small to eat didn’t matter. Also, the guns and their noise had made him a little nervous but the time we spent fishing in the quiet, afternoon sun was just the thing to help him relax again. I have to admit that even though I enjoyed the shooting and would do it again, I’m more likely to head out with a rod and reel for some solitude.
All in all, it was a great time. I haven’t known any of these guys for more than about five months and this weekend helped me to get to know them and them me. We need to do this again.
Some of the men from Cross Community Church went camping, up at my family’s place in Pennsylvania. We had a nice time around the fire on Friday night after a great dinner of burgers and hot dogs. Of the ten people there that evening, there were four Bens (although one of them goes by Will). Two of them are in this picture, Ben and Ben on the left, with Marc on the right. We stayed up talking until about midnight. What a way to spend a cool, spring Friday evening. It doesn’t get much better.
Cathy asked for some pictures of the flowers in our back yard today so I took some with her in them. The large shrub behind Cathy is a largish, white spiraea. I cut it back fairly hard every year after it blooms but it grows fairly vigorously.
On the ground behind her is pale blue forget-me-not (Myosotis sp.). It’s a relatively short lived perennial but it self-seeds so we’ve had them for a good while. They move about a bit, as the seeds grow near where the parent plants were but eventually the parents die and the whole patch has shifted.
Between Cathy and the tree is a spindly azalea that hasn’t started blooming yet. Just in front of Cathy there is a bed of periwinkle (Vinca minor) that is scattered with more pale blue flowers. In front of that is an area of lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), which is coming up but not yet blooming. Amid that there are white and purple hyacinths.
After two days were I posted pictures touting the Washington Christian Academy play, I hesitated to post a third. On the other hand, I took over 1,000 more photos today before and during the two performances and I didn’t have a lot of time for much other photography. I took a few of the baseball and softball teams loading mulch in their annual mulch sale but the bulk of the day was spent at the Olney Theatre.
This picture was the last one I took at the theatre before heading to the cast party (to take more pictures, of course). It is of our good friends, Kristin, Porter, and Peter. Porter, a senior, has been a part of the theatre program at WCA throughout high school and will be sorely missed next year. His parents are justly proud.
Do you know any of these folks? If so, you really should come out and see them perform Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House tomorrow (Saturday). There are shows at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. and tickets will be available at the door.
Are you a fan of Vonnegut? I’m not sure that I am but that’s partly, I think, because I had to read some of his work in school. I know having to read something is supposed to get you over the reluctance to read it so that you are free to discover that you like it after all. For some it may have the opposite effect. It isn’t an insurmountable obstacle and I have come to appreciate Vonnegut but it takes more effort than with something I chose to read on my own.
If you don’t have any plans either this evening at 8:00, tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 or tomorrow evening at 7:00, consider coming out to the Olney Theatre for the Washington Christian Academy King’s Players presentation of Kurt Vonnegut’s short stories (dramatized by Christopher Sergel), Welcome to the Monkey House.
I was here taking pictures at the dress rehearsal yesterday and really enjoyed myself. It’s a little bit funny and a little bit social commentary. Overall, it’s an evening of thought provoking entertainment, wonderfully provided by some very talented youngsters.
I didn’t really know Mr. Rohrer but I know one of his daughters and her family, including three of his eleven grandchildren, quite well. Today and today’s photograph is dedicated to the memory of this man. He and my dad were almost exactly the same age when they died (withing three days!) and he died on my dad’s birthday (as I mentioned on last Thursday’s post about my dad). I only met him a handful of times and I’m sorry that I cannot write anything nearly as beautiful as Ellen (one of those granddaughters) did on Instagram and Facebook, but I thought it fitting to pay tribute, anyway. To all who have lost fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children, or grandparents, I mourn with you.
We celebrated a birthday with some new friends today. This is Susan, whose birthday it was, and Joel (sorry, I don’t know when his birthday is), and Ralda is photobombing on the left. It’s been great to get to know these folks and we look forward to getting to know everyone better going forward. Susan said she doesn’t like pictures of herself, but I hope she won’t mind this one. I think it turned out rather well.
What a beautiful afternoon it was. Windy and cool but nice and warm in the sun.
We have some friends who work with international students at a medical school in Romania. We were fortunate enough to have Erin as Dorothy’s first grade teacher. For about seven years now, she and her husband, David, have lived and worked in Romania and their four children have lived more of their lives there than here. We got to visit with them briefly this evening at an open house and this is one of the photos I took. Two of these young women were students at the med school and are now living in this area. I don’t actually know them, except as friends of Dave and Erin, but I do like the picture, don’t you?
Dad would have been 88 today. This isn’t a photo taken today, obviously, and I do have a photo taken today to post a little later. This was taken by my mom in the summer of 1974, when we all hiked down the Grand Canyon. That was a pretty nice trip. In addition to the Grand Canyon, we did some hiking at Devil’s Postpile National Monument in northern California and spent some time on Spruce Mountain in northeastern Nevada.
I think about dad quite a bit but especially on dates like his birthday. Mom sent this photo around along with a few others from that trip. This year, I got an extra dose of thinking about dad because I got a text this morning from a good friend saying that his wife’s father had passed away this morning. This is not a club I look forward to welcoming anyone into, but it’s a place where we all get, eventually.
Dad, here’s to you.
One of our favorite aspects of the celebration of Easter is the sunrise service at Fourth Presbyterian Church. For a long time Rock Creek didn’t have a sunrise service and in general doesn’t make as big a deal of Easter as some churches (and hardly mentions Palm Sunday at all). So, we go to the church where we met, and where Cathy’s mom still goes. Dorothy knows quite a few folks there, as well, having participated in their youth group quite a bit over the years.
Last year I set my alarm clock to the wrong time and we only got there as the service was almost over. Previous years we got it right and this year I got it right, again. It was a chilly 40°F this morning, which is cool but not really bitter and certainly not as cold as it has been in some previous years.
I only took a few pictures. It is a church service, after all. In the first few the sky is nearly black. A little later it was the most beautiful, luminous blue. This is one of the early pictures.
After what can only be described as a terrible drive down the beautiful I-95 corridor between D.C. and Richmond, Virginia, we had a very nice evening at the gallery where Dorothy has been working. Our friend Brian (son of friends Sid and Sherri) had a show at Gallery Edit in Richmond, mostly sculpture but there was one large painting in the collection. I took pictures of individual pieces when the gallery wasn’t filled with people but there were not a lot of times that was possible. He had a pretty good flow of folks throughout the evening. That’s Brian facing the camera in this photo. His web site is here: http://brianmenkis.com/
As mentioned in the previous photo, the youth retreat was this weekend and I came up today, joining the group already there. It was a smallish group this time, due to various conflicts that others had. We missed those who could not be there but had a great time with those who came. It was fairly chilly so we all sat pretty close to the fire Friday evening, roasting marshmallows and talking and basically having a good time. It had rained early in the day and was cloudy most of the day but it cleared up about the time this was taken. I even got a pretty decent photo of the Big Dipper a little later.
A bit of a milestone was reached today. I’ve had my current camera, a Canon EOS 60D, since Christmas, 2010. Then, a week later I started my Project 365 and have taken at least one photograph every day since then. In the 1,552 days I’ve had this camera, I’ve taken photographs all but two of them (December 26 and 27, 2010). Today, I took the 100,000th photograph with this camera (although the image number is 100,010 because the camera resets to image number 1 instead of to 0 (zero) after 9,999). In case anyone cares, that’s an average of 64.4 images per day. My previous camera, a Canon 10D, was at 87,376 images when I got this new camera. I had owned that one for 2,823 days, averaging only 31 images per day (and not taking any on a lot of those days).
Cathy and Dorothy have, not surprisingly, been common subjects for my photography and Cathy let me take a few of her this evening to reach the 100,000 point.
I’m behind in posting this but on Sunday we went to pick up Dorothy at Dulles Airport on her return from Asia. They were a while getting through customs and all but finally they walked out into the airport lobby. She (and I presume the entire team) had a great time and we were happy to get a chance to hear her stories and visit with her for a little more than a day before she had to return to Richmond. They were all pretty tired and glad to be back on the ground again. In the photo, we have (from left to right) Hannah, Susie, Lynn, Dorothy, Ginny, Cassandra, Kaitlyn, and Katy in front.
This morning we had a wonderful, if altogether too short visit from our dear friends, Erin and David, along with their beautiful children. They wanted some family photos and came over for a short photo shoot. We started with some family shots, with all of them on the sofa, then a few of Erin and Dave (this is one of those, in case you’re having trouble figuring it out). We also took individual portraits of each of the family members and I’m happy to say that there is at least one pretty good picture of each of them. Thanks for coming, guys, and we hope to see you again, soon.
I don’t think anyone will be surprised that I’m posting pictures of snow today. The forecast was pretty accurate, with the snow starting to fall at about 7:00 a.m. and coming down pretty steadily until the late evening. In all we had about seven and a half inches of new snow, piling up on top of about five inches that was already on the ground and covered with a layer of ice.
Early in the afternoon Cathy and I walked to the grocery store. On the way, I took a few pictures of her with the gently falling snow swirling all around. She also took a couple snaps of me, but I’ll spare you those. Actually, in them I am wearing the same jacket and hat as in the picture on the Who I Am page. That photo was also taken during a snow storm, although it was from quite twelve years ago, on February 16, 2003. I really suppose I should have a more recent picture of myself. I’ll get on that.
The second photo here is of Norbeck Road with the snow coming down. It was falling quite steadily but the wind was not terribly strong. Walking home it was blowing into our faces, though, which did make the return trip a bit more taxing. We were gone about an hour and enjoyed being out. It was nice, though, to have a warm, dry home to come back to.
We truly are blessed.
As mentioned in the previous post, also for March 3, Dorothy and I drove up to Frederick today. The purpose of the trip was for Dorothy to take her driving test for her license. We went early so that she could practice backing into a parking space for a bit. Also, we borrowed her Uncle Albert’s car, which is smaller than ours and made things much easier for her. She wanted time getting use to that car, as well, of course.
We still had time after she got to the point she was pretty confident, so we went into town, went into an antique shop and had time for a nice lunch at Cafe Nola. While walking in the downtown are it was sleeting but at the time she had her actual road test, it had stopped so she didn’t have that to contend with, anyway. Also, we saw a bald eagle a little earlier, and we took that to be a good omen.
I’m happy to say that she passed, and is now a legal driver. Congratulations, Dorothy
I’ve posted a few pictures from the church plant that we’ve become involved in. This week, despite the somewhat lousy weather (or icy weather, anyway, trying to put a more optimistic spin on it), we met this afternoon. We even had a pretty good turnout, all things considered (and why anyone would make a judgment without considering all things is beyond me). As usual, I took a few pictures and I like this one the best. Most of you will recognize Cathy, of course. This is Erin that she is with.
For many years Bob Prentiss said that he’d get baptized when hell freezes over. How prophetic. Today, at the 4:30 Saturday afternoon service at Mosaic (a.k.a. “a church for people who don’t go to church”), with between six and eight inches of snow on the ground and with roads poorly cleared at best, Bob was baptized.
There were people who could not get there because of the snow—we left home a little before noon and it was slow going—but it was going to take more than a bit of snow to keep us away. This picture is from after the service. From left to right: Cathy, Dorothy, Kadie, Stephen, Maureen, Bob, Julia, Heart, Heather (holding Heart’s baby daughter, Emma), and Carl (the pastor at Mosaic).
Dorothy was home for the weekend with her friend, Katy (see the picture from last night). They wanted to go visit Rocklands Farm so we headed out there late in the morning. We had a great time with Janis who walked out to see the chickens, pigs, and cows. These, obviously, are the pigs. It was also wonderful to see Erin and her kids and get a bit of a visit in before we had to run. Thanks, Erin and Janis for being so willing to put up with us showing up unannounced and unplanned and welcoming us so warmly.
Dorothy and one of her new friends from Richmond came up for the weekend. It was a pretty hectic time but we really enjoyed having them here. We saw David and Darius again this evening but Darius was not feeling well so I didn’t take any pictures of them.
After they left I took a few pictures of Dorothy and Katy. Cathy asked if she could get in the picture and this is the result.
Although you may be thinking that this is what I call Cathy when I’m trying to get her to forgive me for something I’ve done, I’m actually referring to “the” Catherine the Great of Russia (2 May 1729 – 17 November 1796), who rules Russia from 1762 until her death.
I have a small (and not terribly valuable) collection of stamps and paper money from around the world. This is a detail of one of my favorite bills, a 100 ruble note from 1910, portraying Catherine the Great.
Because they live so far away we don’t get to see some of Cathy’s siblings nearly often enough. Although for one reason or another they could not be here for Christmas, David came this week for a visit. As nice as it was to see him, we were particularly excited to see our youngest nephew, Darius.
This evening we went out for dinner and the corner booth we sat in was ideal in that he could run back and forth between two adults and not really bother anyone else in the restaurant. He moved to a high chair to eat but then was back where he could plan after finishing. I’m especially glad we got to see him in such a good mood because he came down with a bad cold after this and was not nearly so animated the rest of their visit.
This is one of a handful of pictures that I think are pretty good, though.
A third photo from today and I’ll call it quits. After wandering around Carytown for a while, we returned to Gallery Edit and the Hillside offices. James was there sitting in the front of the gallery playing the guitar. Dorothy, Kendra, and Michaela joined him there and I took some pictures. I really liked the quality of the light from the afternoon sun pouring into the big window. I also took a few more pictures of Dorothy’s art work, which should be up through the end of the month or so. If you happen to be in Richmond, give her a call and stop in to see it.
I know I’ve already posted a photo for today but I thought I’d post another. After our early lunch at the Sub Rosa Bakery we drove to Carytown. Parking was an issue, as it was a beautiful, Saturday afternoon and all of Richmond seemed to be out and about. We did finally find parking on Ellwood Avenue and walked the block over to Cary Street.
We didn’t have any real plans, but went into a few shops, including one called Bygones, which specializes in vintage clothing and accessories. They had some very nice things, if you are into that sort of thing. I don’t get dressed up often, so I don’t suppose it would make sense looking for things for myself. I did like two of the hats they had, a top hat and a bowler, but decided I’d pass this time.
On the way back to the car, I photographed Dorothy in this alley alongside a brick wall (which I supposed is obvious).
We had an early lunch this morning (or was it a very late breakfast?). We had planned to go to The Roosevelt on Church Hill. We met our friends, Rob and Susie there but it isn’t open Saturday morning. So, we found another place, called the Sub Rosa Bakery, which is just across the street. It’s a fairly small place but they were very accommodating of our large group. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend Sub Rosa. Here we have four of our group of nine. Margaret, Dorothy, Kendra, and Michaela.
We’ve been looking forward to this evening for a long time. Dorothy scheduled an art exhibit at Gallery Edit in Richmond, Virginia. Her theme was “home” but I’ll let you ask her for more details of that, if you are interested. Along with both of her grandmas, we drove down for the evening. Two other long-time friends, Rob and Susie, also came, which was wonderful. A few of Dorothy’s young friends showed up, as well. But even without the “home team crowd” there was good traffic through the gallery all evening.
We’re quite fond of our school. Of course, it isn’t technically our school any more, in the sense that we don’t have a child attending. In another way, though, it still is our school. It’s a non-profit owned by a society of parents and friends of the school and we are happy to remain members of the society. This evening was the winter society meeting, having been postponed from last week due to snow.
We like many things about the school but high on the list has to be the people. Both parents, faculty, and staff. We enjoy seeing them when we can and this was a good opportunity. It was also good to get caught up on all the doings, as there are some doings right now. But for me, connecting with people is still very high on my list. This is Angie, my favorite kindergarten teacher. She isn’t teaching this year but is still working part time. She is planning to have me come in to do a quick walk-through of the solar system with the fifth grade. It’s also almost time for Mr. Lincoln to visit the kindergarten. So good to see her and hear how life is treating her (pretty well).
I went to the school this morning to take a few pictures of the fourth grade class. The yearbook folks wanted some candid shots of the students for the yearbook. They have been practicing a short play for History Night and we spent a little while in Founder’s Hall while they ran through that.
While we were there, the students from one of the other grades walked through, following this somewhat evil looking woman. Not being an expert on the Disney bestiary I was not entirely sure who she is. I got a quick photo of her and later, after consulting Peterson’s Field Guide to Mythical Creatures of This and Other Worlds I decided she must be Maleficent, the self-proclaimed Mistress of All Evil who cursed the Princess Aurora. Do you remember her? She pricked her finger on a spindle. She would have died had it not been for the aid of Merryweather, who was able to soften the curse. Instead she slept until a kiss from her true love woke her.
Anyway, it was quite an surprising creature to see at school and I’m not entirely sure what she would have been doing there. Someone said something about spirit week and I suppose she came for the festivities or perhaps to do something wicked while blending in with the students dressed in costumes.
At our youth group meeting this evening we had a team-building exercise. Teams of two people had to navigate through a mine field. One of the two was blindfolded, the other had to give verbal instructions to get them through. Of course, the “mines” were just paper cups, and just as well. Some made it, others were not so lucky. After most of the kids had participated, two pairs of adults gave it a try. The last to go was Bob, who was led through the course by Sokho. The kids rearranged the cups between each run and they decided to put a lot, close together at the beginning of the course.
There were not many spaces where his feet could fit, so Sokho had Bob inch up to the cups and then instructed him to jump three feet, landing with his feet about two feet apart. As it turns out he landed a bit short of the open space Sokho was aiming for, but, as you can see in this picture, he landed quite amazingly between the cups. Actually, his left foot grazed a cup and it slid about an inch from his foot. That’s what Shelly is pointing at. Still, it was quite remarkable.
We’ve met quite a few new people lately and these two have been a bit part of it. Jack, on the right, was in Dorothy’s class in middle and high school. As it happens, he is dating Abbie, on the left. Through Jack, Dorothy and Abbie met and became quite good friends. Through Dorothy, of course, we met Abbie and after a while, her parents. Finally (well, so far) we have met many of those involved, in one way or another, in a church planting effort that Abbie’s dad is working on. I can’t really say he’s in charge, because too many things outside his control have come together in just the right way. We certainly don’t know where it is leading or what our small role might be, but it’s interesting and a little exciting to be a part of it.
One problem with this whole ‘take and post a picture every day’ thing is that sometimes I take pictures but either none of them are any good or I take pictures of family or friends and don’t necessarily want to share them with the world. So, what do I do. Usually I post one anyway. Certainly there have been plenty of bad pictures posted. I’m sometimes a bit surprised by the responses to images that I don’t particularly think are any good. That’s gratifying, if a bit mystifying.
This isn’t one of those. This is more of the ‘I spent the evening with family and those are all the pictures I have’ type. I think it’s a pretty good picture, actually, as casual portraits go. This is Seth and because he is engaged to Iris, I guess he’s going to have to get used to the cameras in our family (and already seems to have, actually). He is holding their pet, Bean, whom they claim is a dog.
Yesterday and again this evening we had our young friend Julia over to help me do some organizing in our basement. Quite a while back we had work done in our basement that required we move everything away from the walls. If you have an unfinished basement then you know that usually the idea is to have everything against the walls, so that basically meant everything had to move. Because it’s an unfinished basement and we don’t spend much time down there, we haven’t put a lot of effort into getting it back to the way it was. Well, that was our task for the last two evenings. It’s not completely done but much better than it was. Of course, it was terrific to have Julia over and after working and having dinner, we all had a good time visiting. Both evenings I took a few silly pictures. This is actually the least silly of them all.
After a little over a month off, our youth group started meeting again this evening. I’ve seen most folks in the interim but not nearly as often and it was good to be back together. Naturally I took a few pictures. Now that I’m not leading the time, I have a bit more freedom to take pictures. It’s nice to be able to simply show up and go with whatever has been planned. This is Lucia, one of our middle-school girls and a rising star (not to mention being terrifically photogenic).
We live in the age of the ‘selfie’ and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Oh, I suppose it’s mostly harmless but it does have a strongly narcissistic feel. I’m not a big selfie taker but even in the days of Leonardo, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh, self-portraits were a thing. So, once in a while, I think.
Anyway, I happened to see a portrait of this type and thought I’d give it a try. I’m not sure how well I like the results—my face doesn’t lend itself to it as well as some I’ve seen—but it’s interesting, anyway. Is it a front view or a profile? It’s both, and therein lies the interest.
So, what do you think?
It’s been a nice two weeks with Dorothy but she had to return to Richmond today. Before driving her down we hung out with some new friends who are friends of friends of Dorothy’s. I brought my camera and took quite a few pictures but thought I’d share this one of Dorothy instead of any of our new friends. I suspect there will be more opportunities for sharing pictures of the others in the future.
I like this picture. It’s Dorothy between laughing and being thoughtful about something. There’s a slight grin, which is always the sign something is going on, but she’s being subtle about it. There’s something on her mind and there may be a joke coming.
Or maybe she’s about to burp. You never really can tell with Dorothy.
I guess I know I’ve been working with youth a while when they start getting married. I guess is hasn’t really been that long, Stephanie was a graduating high school senior when I helped with my first youth trip at Rock Creek Church. But this isn’t really about me, it’s about her. After all, she was married today.
Stephanie met Austin in her first year at college and it was pretty clear pretty quickly that the were pretty well taken with each other. Knowing Stephanie, I couldn’t really blame Austin, and getting to know him a bit over the intervening time has convinced me he’s a pretty decent chap, as well. They are obviously in love and seem to be very well suited to each other. As everyone expected, Stephanie was a beautiful bride and we had a lovely time, seeing her and visiting with friends.
Here’s to Austin and Stephanie. May you love each other more and more, every day of your lives.
I’ve completed four years of living photographically. Well, as many of you know, I took pictures before I began my Project 365 in 2011, but since then I have managed to take at least one picture every day. Here’s to one more year.
We had some very good friends over today to ring in the new year with a very relaxed meal of fondue (both meat and cheese). The food was fine but the company was beyond compare. First and foremost were our friends, Amy and her older son, Jonathan. Thank you both for coming and brightening our day.
We were a bit tired from our trip downtown today but we went to two New Year’s Eve parties this evening. Naturally we could only be at one of them at the stroke of midnight.
We started the evening at my mom’s and stayed there until about 10:00 p.m. Then we went to the Rock Creek party at Stuart and Donna’s house. This photo was taken about four seconds before midnight, the last photo I took in 2014. Happy New Year, everyone!
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Karlee came over and today I took Dorothy and her downtown for our annual museum trip. We parked near the National Archives and because neither of them had been there before, we went in (after a brief stop for coffee). In addition to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, we saw a copy of Magna Carta from 1297.
From the Archives we went to the National Gallery of Art, one of my favorite places in Washington. We enjoyed sculpture and paintings from various periods and of various styles, stopping for a while in the rotunda, which Dorothy describes as her favorite room in the United States. It somehow manages to be grand and at the same time human-sized.
We left the art museum and headed around the U.S. Capitol building, stopping for this picture of Dorothy and Karlee in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool and the Capitol Building, the dome of which is being renovated through the end of 2015 (and into the next on the interior).
The year we first met Karlee, I took Dorothy and her downtown over Christmas break. We went ice skating on the Mall and went to a few museums. It hasn’t been as regular as her coming to the beach with us but we’ve taken Christmas-break trips downtown a bunch of times since then. She came this afternoon to spend the night here and we have an outing planned for tomorrow (which I’ll get to in tomorrow’s post). Here she is with Dorothy and Cathy. As you can see, we are always totally serious when Karlee comes to visit.
Since Wednesday, December 29, 2010, I have taken at least one photograph every day. That means I’ve completed four years doing that. I started posting them on Facebook on January 1, 2011 and then started this blog at the beginning of 2012, but the last three days of 2010 have pictures, as well. I really need to go back and add those pictures to this site so they are all together, but whether they are here or not, they exist. That’s 1,461 consecutive days of taking pictures. I don’t have any inclination to stop and I hope enough people enjoy them that it’s worth my time to continue.
Cathy and I went for a walk in the park early this afternoon. It was cool out but not cold and it was nice to be outside. The park, surrounding Lake Frank, had two parking lots connected by roads but the roads have been closed off for quite a few years (if they were ever open, I don’t really know). At the western parking lot, which is up a long hill from the lake, there are benches that are nearly at ground level. That’s where this picture was taken. I don’t think they were originally so low to the ground but it isn’t clear if they have sunk or if the ground has been piled up under them. Either way, they deserve to be used once in a while.
Our church’s Christmas Eve service is one of the highlights of every year for me. I enjoy seeing friends, but of course I see most of these same people every week. Somehow, though, at Christmas Eve, I see things in a different light. Sometimes that’s the light of candles. Each year the service ends singing Silent Night while holding lit candles. Every year I take pictures and I always enjoy them, as well. Taking pictures by candlelight is a bit hit or miss. This was taken at 1/15 second at f/3.2 with the ISO set to 1600. To everyone who was there, thanks for putting up with me and my camera. I love you all.
Our office holiday party was this afternoon and we had a nice time together. Our group is fairly large and I only know a small fraction of the 150 or more people at the party. One funny thing that happened was Jane, on the left in this picture, came over and asked if she could have her picture taken (on her phone) with a few of us. It seems her kids know her coworkers’ names but aren’t entirely convinced they exist. After all, they only hear names and never actually meet anyone. So, to Jane’s children, here is your mom with Katie. I can assure you that Kasia, Kathy, KC, and Henry (that’s me) are all real people, as well.
We had our third annual Christmas caroling outing this evening. It was cool out, somewhere around 35°F, but the wind which had been blowing earlier in the day had died down, thankfully. I checked my journal and last year it was around 30°F and the year before that in the mid 40s. We had 23 people this year, down three from last year but a few new folks came. Once again, we rode in a trailer behind a pickup truck, fitted out with Timmy on the drums, Amanda at the keyboard, Deb on Bass, and Bret on guitar. We had a good time but I think everyone was ready to get back to the church for hot chocolate and cookies by the time we were done.
We were out and about today and decided to see if we could visit our friends, Keith and Collyn and their one week old bundle of boy (I mean joy). As you will probably have guessed, they said we should come. Not being around newborn babies that often these days, I forgot how small they are. Collyn was good enough to let us hold him for a while. He’s a beautiful little boy and was quiet while we were there. I took more than just a few pictures, as you might imagine but I think this is my favorite, with Keith tickling his tiny feet. Congratulations to the happy parents and their newly enlarged family.
I’m not a big selfie-taker but I thought you might enjoy this. I visited the fourth grade class at WCA today, wearing mail and a knight’s helmet. The fourth grade studies medieval Europe and their teacher and I thought they would enjoy seeing real armor. The chain mail is actually pretty fine and was made for protecting divers from small sharks. It’s close enough for this purpose, though. The helmet, which is quite heavy, is more authentic and is pretty impressive. I don’t think I’d visit a fourth grade class without that sort of protection.
In addition to talking about knights and armor, I showed pictures of castles and told them about many of the design features. Most of the pictures were of English castles, because I know those so much better than those from France or the rest of Europe but there were a few in Germany and Hungary included. I think the kids enjoyed it and learned something. I know I had a good time.
Many thanks to Steve for letting me borrow his armor for this.
Want to do something that will make you gray before your time? Try directing a high school play. It starts early, with the auditions. There is never the perfect cast for a play, especially when you are at a smallish school with fewer actors and potential actors than you need. It’s made worse by the competition with sports, which pulls some of the most promising out of contention. Then, oddly enough, the students have their own ideas about which part they should have, often without regard to whether they really could pull it off. As you can see, Becky (second from the left) is already starting to feel it, and the auditions had only just started. It’s going to be a long time until April.
We gathered with family for Thanksgiving today. Thanksgiving is more than just a meal, of course, but the meal is certainly a part of the day. We did take a more traditional family picture, with everyone in nice, neat lines, but I thought I’d post this one, showing us ready to being the meal. I won’t bother to list everything we ate, but suffice it to say, there was plenty. We are truly blessed. But more than the food, of course, it was wonderful to be with family.
Operation Christmas Child is one of Cathy’s favorite things of the season. We aren’t terribly good at planning way ahead but in this, she does a pretty good job. She shops at back-to-school time for pencils and crayons. Sometimes as early as January or February she will see something and say, “Operation Christmas Child” as she buys it.
A couple years we loaded boxes into our van from the school, filling the back of the van with the seats removed, delivering them to a local collection point. She is going to an OCC facility this week to volunteer. I can’t say exactly what she will do, because she hasn’t done that before. We’ve helped at a collection point but this will be the next step along the process.
This picture is of Cathy (obviously) with her two boxes for the year, as she dropped them off at Redland Baptist Church.
Do you know Jared and Justin? They are sons number three and four of five (and children four and five of six) of Carey and Marilyn. If you have known Carey for any length of time, you have probably seen this look (on Jared, on the left). I knew that Jared looked more like his father than any of his siblings but I didn’t realize until I saw this exactly how much he looked like him, not just in looks but in manner. It’s a bit uncanny.
It was recently Cathy’s birthday and we had arranged to meet our friend (and Cathy’s friend since high school) Jean for dinner. Because she was coming from Virginia and because there was heavy traffic on the beltway (heavier than normal, even), we met a little later than we might ordinarily have done. Before meeting her, we took a small load of things to donate to Attic Treasures, the rummage sale at the Washington Christian Academy Christmas Bazaar, which is tomorrow (November 22). It’s a fundraiser for the senior class and is pretty well organized for a rummage sale.
We looked around at other things that had been given and sat chatting for a while on some nice, vintage, (and pink) motel chairs. Then Cathy decided she’s buy this colander to plant sedums in. Naturally I took her picture wearing it as a hat (or helmet, perhaps). I didn’t buy anything but the next day (tomorrow, at the sale itself) I bought three books.
From the school we drove to Rockville and met Jean at Ruby Tuesday in Federal Plaza. We got there ahead of her (because the traffic on the beltway was worse than expected) and I did a quick shop at Trader Joe’s while Cathy bought a few things to fill out her Operation Christmas Child boxes. Then we had a delightful time with Jean. Because we live so far apart (and yet so close) we don’t see her anywhere near often enough. Naturally we stayed at our table much longer than we normally do, but we had missed the busy time and there were empty tables, no one was waiting for us to leave so they could eat. After we left, I took a couple pictures of Cathy and Jean outside in the cold.
We had a treat yesterday and today. I got a call from our good friends, Brian and Lisa, who were driving from Georgia to Massachusetts and wanted to stop in to see us and spend the night. Brian came to our youth group with me, since I couldn’t very well get out of that at such short notice (I was teaching). Then we stayed up late talking. This picture was taken about four minutes after midnight, so it counts as a picture for today (I did take other pictures today but you don’t care). We were trying to get both dogs to look at the camera on its tripod but, as you can see, only had limited success.
Dorothy was in D.C. yesterday stayed through the weekend. This evening she was going to spend the night with her friend, Abbie. Abbie works at Panera Bread (in case you were not able to figure it out from the picture) and had to work until closing this evening. We went there for a late dinner and then Dorothy stayed to wait for Abbie to get off work. I took a couple pictures of Abbie. They may not be great pictures but it’s hard, actually, to get a bad picture of Abbie.
For lunch on Sunday we went to a little place called Perly’s, on Grace Street. It’s a restaurant and deli that’s been a Richmond landmark for more than 50 years. In September, 2013 it closed, but then reopened September 2, 2014, the same day that we took Dorothy down to Richmond for her internship year. The new owners reworked the menu, but it’s still a comfort food type place. We had a table in the back, which was fine with us, and both the service and the food were terrific. This is Dorothy, Katy, and Cathy waiting for our table (which took less than 5 minutes).
As many of you know, I have been the acting youth director (or is it student ministries director?) at church for almost exactly a year. It wasn’t something I had planned, but circumstances were such that I felt it was the right thing to do. I had been working with the youth (this is both middle school and high school aged kids) pretty much since the summer of 2011, when my good friend, Bill, asked me to take his place for a trip to Toronto, with Center for Student Missions. That reminds me, I really need to thank Bill again for that.
Anyway, from the start I was clear that I don’t feel equipped to run a youth program but that I was willing to be used. God spoke through Balaam’s ass (Numbers 22:28) so I knew he could speak even through me. Nevertheless, when Jeff told me that he wanted to hire Sokho as an associate pastor and that he would lead the youth ministry, I was quite pleased. I’m so thankful for this young man and look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.
We went to a Day of the Dead party this evening at the home of one of Cathy’s soccer teammates. This picture is of Cathy with our hostess. Cathy, as you can see, was dressed as a crazy cat lady. Ara was Eve (played by Tilda Swinton) from Only Lovers Left Alive. I was dressed as a chef, complete with a length of blood sausage in my jacket pocket (because, I mean, blood sausage).
The best costumes we thought were the best were the samurai and ninja couple but a lot were very clever and a few were seriously elaborate. I’ve never really been crazy about costume parties but that’s almost certainly because I have such a hard time coming up with any good ideas for a costume. Being able to put something on an hour before leaving and having it work is about all I can hope for. That worked this evening, but a little planning ahead could go a long way. I already have been thinking about what I might do for a future party. Now if I can only get the work done ahead of time, so it’s ready when the next party comes…
I suppose that title sounds a bit like a singing group from the fifties. It’s also a little off because Dorothy is actually one of the interns. Also, the eighth intern isn’t in the picture. That’s life (”that’s what all the people say”). We crawled down I-95 to Richmond this evening and dropped Dorothy off. We had a nice dinner in a little place called Tarrent’s and came back to her apartment just as the rest were coming back, as well. So, we got to say hello and I got to take a few pictures before we got back on the road. Coming home was much easier and we made the trip in about two and a quarter hours, including a stop for gas. We only had to slow briefly for two areas of construction and for some rain the second half of the drive.
I’ve already posted a few pictures to Instagram and Facebook of Stacy and Bryan’s wedding but now that I’m getting caught up on my blog, I’m posting one more. This one is of them after the ceremony and just before the reception really got going. Stacy had asked me if I’d be willing to set up and man a photo booth at the reception. This is what I came up with. I got the idea from Dorothy’s high school art teacher but built it to my own design. It’s not everything I could have hoped, but I was basically pretty happy with it. The other guests at the wedding seemed to enjoy dressing up a bit with funny hats, masks, etc. and posing for pictures, so I guess it was a success. If you would like to borrow it for a wedding or other event, let me know.
We drove down to Richmond to get Dorothy today (or maybe I should say we crawled down, because it was about three and a half hours each way). Shortly after we got back, Hannah came over. She happened to be here on her fall break, so we were fortunate enough to have her for the evening. The girls let me take a few “normal” pictures (of which this is one), although we took a fair number of not-so-normal pictures, as well. I’ll let the girls post any of those that they want to share.
We had two big trees cut down in our back yard last year. There are still some largish trees in our neighbor’s yard but for a little while now, this one has been dead. Before it fell and did any damage, out neighbor had it cut down (today, obviously).
I’m always impressed with tree cutters. Oh, I know it isn’t rocket science or brain surgery but it takes a fair amount of both strength and agility. Watching this guy get up into the tree with such ease was impressive. Then, he got himself set. A rope was thrown over a higher branch and tied to the branch he was going to cut. The most remarkable thing is how easily he started his saw. I’ve struggled with mine. Even when it does start, it doesn’t happen on the first or second pull. Of course, his is well tuned and well broken in, while mine is not. For the tree work he was using a relatively small saw, and he is a good bit younger than I am, but my arms would be all in after a day of what he’s doing.
Anyway, the tree came down and there is a neat pile of firewood in its place.
We were sitting behind Elliot and his brother and sister this morning in church. I think this picture speaks for itself, so I don’t have much to add except to say what a cute boy he is. I showed him the picture and got a bit smile, but of course, I couldn’t take a picture of him while I was showing him this one.
I had a good night’s sleep even while sleeping on the ground. I often don’t sleep well the first night anywhere other than my own bed, even on a reasonably comfortable hotel bed. That means one night camping trips are generally a write off in the sleeping department. But I woke refreshed and enjoyed the cool morning. A few of the kids were up early fishing and I cleaned a cooked a reasonable sized bass along with the sausages and eggs. It was a relaxing day, variously spent fishing, watching the fire, eating, and enjoying the tire swing. We raised it a bit by looping the rope over the branch, because any but the smallest riders made it hit the ground.
Here is Anna, having a swing.
After work I headed up to Pennsylvania for another evening with a camp fire. This picture is of some of my fellow campers, cooking marshmallows, enjoying the fire, and each others’ company. It was a beautiful, cool evening with a warm fire. We really could not have asked for more. It’s been so busy at work that I was really looking forward to this time away and I must say that I was able to disconnect and rest, both physically and mentally for about 24 hours.
Even though Dorothy has graduated, we still feel a strong connection to WCA. We have a lot of friends there and still know quite a few students. This afternoon (in the about 100°F heat) WCA had its annual family picnic. We weren’t exactly invited but we brought a side dish and I took pictures, which will be available to the yearbook team, so I think it’s alright. Anyway, we had a nice time visiting with friends. Sometimes getting students to pose for pictures is easy, sometimes, not so much. This group had to be cajoled but in the end, they posed very nicely. I had my back to the building and couldn’t get far enough away to get them all in one shot, so this is actually two pictures, stitched together. Turned out quite well, I think.
Shortly after I got home this evening, Dorothy went out into the back yard and cut some flowers. We have quite a few right now, particularly black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia), Buddleia davidii, Verbena bonariensis. She was putting the flowers in a vase and stopped long enough for me to take a few pictures of her. I like this one.
She colored her hair today. She’s done that before, so it’s not a big deal, but this time the die was purple colored. Actually, with her darkish hair, it’s not really all that unnatural looking. Since I was expecting purple, I have to say that I like the way it turned out.
I’ve been looking at portraits lately. Generally we think of a person smiling at the camera as the right thing for a portrait. Many times, however, a relaxed expression, not frowning, but not actively smiling, can be very nice, as well. I like the expression in this portrait, as well as the soft lighting from the overcast sky.
At Ocean Isle Beach there is a church service on the beach each Sunday morning. We’ve meant to go before but this year we actually did. I took this picture of Karlee and Dorothy shortly after the service ended. It was a good way to start the week. Karlee has been to the beach with us every year that we’ve gone since the summer after she and Dorothy were in fourth grade together. We didn’t go in 2007 because we were in Greece and in 2009 we were in Boston for Steve and Maya’s wedding, but all the other years since 2006. Karlee has been to family reunions and actually knows Dorothy’s second and third cousins about as well as Dorothy does. She is definitely one of the family.
Those of you who follow my postings on a regular basis know that I sometime get a little behind. Sometimes that is due to the busyness of life and try as I might, I just don’t have time to sit down and process photos or write the little stories that go with them. The recent radio silence is not so much because of the busyness of life but rather because I’m not sure what to write and I’m having a hard time with it.
My cousin passed away on Saturday evening. Technically, he was my first cousin, once removed (my mom’s first cousin). It wasn’t completely unexpected. He had been poorly off and on for quite a little while. Still, it isn’t easy when the time actually comes. It’s harder still when it is someone you admire and respect. Clinton was a kind and gentle man, well liked by acquaintances, well loved by those who knew him. He will be missed.
That’s all I have to say here.
All that was left for us to do this morning was have some breakfast, pack up, and clean our housing site. Once that was done, the group posed for a few team pictures, including this one that includes me (there was a handily placed wall where I set the camera). It was a privilege to work with this team and I’m extremely proud of all of them for the effort them put in this week. It is true that in the larger scheme of things, we didn’t do a very significant amount. On the other hand, I think we all came away with a little better understanding of some the needs in a city like Philadelphia. Thank you, Miranda and CSM, for putting up with us, including our silliness and sarcasm.
We started the day at the camp again, as we did each day this week. We had lunch quickly and then left to go to Manna, a non-profit organization that cooks and delivers nutritious, medically-appropriate meals and provides nutrition counseling to neighbors who are battling life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, renal disease and HIV/AIDS. The team packaged over 1,000 meals as well as putting together English muffin sandwiches and various other tasks. I don’t know the name of the woman on the right, but our team is (from left to right): Suzy, Anna, Shelly, Katie, Sara, Hannah, Dorothy, (and in front) Barry and Nate.
In the evening, we had a little free time. We went to a little pizza parlor in downtown Philly and enjoyed fresh pizza while watching that last 20 minutes of so of the Argentina vs. Netherlands soccer match. Unfortunately, neither team was able to win, so they flipped a coin and it went to Argentina.
After dinner we went to a miniature golf course in Franklin Square. Here, part of our team poses on a replica of the famous Philadelphia LOVE sculpture in the golf course. From the left, Hannah, Dorothy, Anna, Suzy, and Katie at the bottom.
I took more pictures today than yesterday but didn’t get a lot that I was happy with. I was also distracted by a fall that I took while playing with the third graders at camp this morning. It hurt a bit, but I didn’t think much of it until about two hours later when I noticed a bit of blood in my eye. Since it was similar to what happened after my first cataract surgery, five years ago, I knew what it was immediately. I didn’t do much the rest of the day, taking a few pictures but mostly just sitting while the others worked.
Our afternoon was spent at a Salvation Army site, doing odd jobs. They included organizing a few storage rooms, which needed it pretty badly, as well as filling this small wheel barrow with water balloons for an upcoming event.
Each morning in Philadelphia we worked at a summer camp for little kids (across the river in Camden, actually). Each afternoon we had a different opportunity to serve in the city. Today we visited the Mary Jane Home Enrichment Center, run by Mrs. Williams. She had us set up a grill and table from which we served hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausages to anyone who wanted them. I enjoyed chatting with a few local men who stopped by for a meal.
In this picture, Nate took over the grill for a little while (so I cold take pictures). Shelly was in charge of getting buns ready and passed on to the others, who served them to our visitors. It doesn’t look too busy, but it got going shortly after this was taken. We fixed about 40 burgers and at least that many dogs and sausages, putting some chicken on at the end, because there were still people there asking for food.
I posted one of the firework photos on Facebook earlier, but now that I’m back from a week in Philadelphia, I’m getting caught up here. So, here are a few pictures from the many that I took on our day in the nation’s capital on the 238th anniversary of Independence Day. Along with our good friends Donna, Stuart, Hannah, and Katie, Dorothy and I went down early in the afternoon and set up our spot just outside Lincoln Memorial Circle near the south west corner of the reflecting pool.
Hannah, Katie, and Dorothy walked to the Folk Life Festival being held on the Mall beyond the Washington Monument. Stuart, Donna, and I talked and passed the time watching people. We all got up and went off at various times, some walking around the tidal basin, etc. I went up to the Lincoln Memorial and took a few pictures from there. My favorite, by far, is this one of three young Americans commemorating their visit with Abe by taking selfies.
As the day wore on, more and more people came and by the time the sun dropped behind the memorial, the whole area was packed. One things that’s great about the Independence Day celebration on the Mall is that it’s families and groups that are there to enjoy being with other Americans, including those who started life in other countries. The mood is light and most everyone is happy to be there. It didn’t hurt that is was only about 80°F today, so even in the sun it wasn’t sweltering. In the shade it was almost cool. Usually sitting in the blazing sun all afternoon is the worst part but this year, we were blessed with one of the most beautiful days of the summer so far.
I’ll finish with three pictures of the fireworks themselves. As you can see, we had a great view from our location. The fireworks are set off from the east end of the reflecting pool, so for us they had the Washington Monument as a back drop.
The firework display only lasted 17 minutes but it was long enough and very enjoyable. We were close enough that I had to use a fairly wide angle lens to get the larger explosions in the frame. These were all taken with the zoom at 20mm. They were all two second exposures (with the camera on a tripod), with the ISO set to 100. The first and third were at f/11.3 and the second at f/7. I’m pretty please with how they turned out.
Getting out of D.C. after they are done, of course, is the hardest part. We got to our car, which was parked on E Street, and found our way to the Roosevelt Bridge and out the G. W. Parkway, which worked pretty well. All in all, I think we all enjoyed ourselves and were glad we went.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I took the youth group camping (along with some other adults, I’m very happy to say). On Saturday we had a pretty leisurely time, canoeing, fishing (and a few folks learned to clean and fillet a fish), swimming, walking, etc.
Anna and Kimia took the canoe out with Fiona in between them. It wasn’t long after this that people started swimming. At that point, the canoe was upside down most of the time. But this is before that, when it was being used for it’s advertised purpose.
The youth group went on a camping trip this evening and, as far as I could tell, everyone had a good time. We got to our site in Pennsylvania in the late evening and got all the tents up before dark but it was dark by the time dinner was ready. After dinner, most people roasted marshmallows and made s’mores of various descriptions (some foregoing the chocolate, some the graham crackers, etc.).
Gwendolyn made the s’more to end all s’mores, with seven marshmallows, two chocolate bars and two entire graham crackers. Fortunately, she is young and fit and can afford the calories.
To answer the question you are thinking, yes, she ate the entire thing.
It was the night of the annual Erick’s Hope benefit dinner this evening, at Mama Lucia’s. It’s a pretty good excuse to have a nice meal and the fact that we get to see a lot of friends doesn’t hurt. Normally we have our youth group Bible study on Wednesday evenings but I decided to encourage the youth to support Erick’s Hope, along with their families (and a lot of them did). This was the first time we’ve actually met Dorothy’s friend, Abbie, who joined us for dinner and shared this awesome pizza with Dorothy.
It was a long day today, but we had a real treat in the evening. We got to see our friends, Jean, Lexi, and Karlee, which doesn’t happen nearly often enough. They drove here from Virginia, which is a serious undertaking, especially anywhere near rush hour. We went to Sakura, a Japanese restaurant in Olney, for dinner, and enjoyed the show. I was ready a few times when our chef lit things that he was cooking and this is the best of those pictures.
Dorothy’s good friend, Hannah, came over this evening to pick up something she had left in our car over the weekend and I took advantage of that and got a few pictures of her with Dorothy.
I could post quite a few pictures for today but I’m going to limit myself to two. I took over 500, including multiple photos of each of Dorothy’s 21 classmates walking across the stage. I considered posting one of Dorothy receiving her diploma from Mr. Chamberlain or of Mr. Hawes moving her tassle from the right to the left of her mortarboard, but in the end I decided I’d post this one, of Dorothy and one of her two grandmas (who were both there).
After the graduation ceremony, we all went back to the school for a reception. The graduates came down the central staircase in the school (to live trumpet music), and they went out in front of the school for the traditional “hat throw.” I decided to go with a a wide angle lens shooting from near the ground, and I’m pretty happy with what I got.
Dorothy is a good student and we are very proud of her achievement. In some ways, celebrating high school graduation is a little like celebrating mile three in a marathon. Everyone is glad glad you made it this far, but you aren’t really nearing the finish line yet. On the other hand, the amount of growth between Kindergarten and 12th grade, at least for Dorothy and most of her friends, has been substantial. Well done!
It was an absolutely beautiful day today and we did our best to spend some of it outdoors. Dorothy and I visited a few of the yard sales in our neighborhood. Every year a local real estate agent organizes a community wide yard sale so there are dozens throughout the neighborhood. Dorothy and I bought a few small things. Then, we went to see the end of the first half and all of the second half of Cathy’s soccer game. After the game I took a few team pictures. Cathy has been playing on this team (or some version of it) since before we were married, which means for more than 30 years.
Today was the big end-of-year award ceremony at school. While there are awards for the entire middle and upper school, there is a significant focus on the seniors. with honor awards of various kinds. The senior with the top thesis presentation gave a slightly shortened version of that (and Dorothy was thankful that wasn’t her “honor”). There were also departmental awards. Although they could go to anyone, the senior class tended to predominate. I won’t embarrass Dorothy by telling you how she did, except to say that she was embarrassed enough on the day.
I took pictures throughout the ceremony, as well as a few short videos (and one almost 10 minutes long). Most of the pictures are nice in terms of memories for us, but not particularly great photographs otherwise. A person walking onto the stage and receiving a piece of paper. Someone standing at the podium. That sort of thing.
After the award ceremony was over, I took a few more, but not a lot. Cathy took some of me with my mom, which was nice, but of course, my aim here is to post a picture that I took, not just something taken with my camera. The final picture I took is this one of Carol and Andy, grandparents of Dorothy very dear friend, Hannah. I hesitated to post this one, because the lighting is so harsh, but it’s a cute picture of a cute couple. So, here you are.
I took 65 pictures today but most of them are of individuals and I always have a hard time picking one picture out of a collection like that. Often I’ll make a point to take pictures in the garden on days like this, so I’ll have an alternative. Today, I didn’t.
Each senior at WCA is required to write a 12 to 15 page thesis on some topic of controversy, secure a short internship related to it in some way, and give a 10 to 12 minute presentation of their thesis to a panel of teachers, who then ask questions of the student. The top three presentations are given a second time to a different panel of teachers and the top one is selected. Today was presentation day. These three girls, Lauren, Toksie, and Dorothy, were the three to move on to the second round. The first picture I took of them, they were all frowning, because they didn’t really want to go through it again, but they all did really well.
Congratulations to all three, but especially to Toksie, who was given the well deserved honor of first place.
It was a very busy day today. Dorothy had her test for Advanced Placement European History from noon to four. Then she had to get to the Mount Vernon Campus of The George Washington University (at Foxhall Road and Whitehaven Parkway, in Northwest D.C.). Cathy and I came from work, getting there as the teams were finishing warming up, so we were able to see the entire championship game. The game went well, from our perspective, and our WCA Wildcats won 9 to 5. Here is the team with their championship banner. For us, the day was a long way from over. We drove from the game to Richmond, dropped Dorothy off at about 11:00 PM, and then drove home, getting in just before 1:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.
It’s been a little while since I posted a picture of Cathy, so, here you go. Usually when I post another picture of Cathy or Dorothy, I wonder “aloud” if I’m being too repetitive. This time, I won’t even mention that (oops!). Instead, I’ll say that I’m fortunate, indeed, to be married to such a woman as this.
We’re coming up on 30 years of marriage and in fact, have past 30 years since I asked her (and she agreed) to marry me. That’s a pretty good while, but we aren’t done yet. Of course, no one knows how long he has before he shuffles off this mortal coil (as Hamlet might say). While we need to look to the future, we also need to think back on the past, both with thankfulness and with humility. Thankfulness for all that we’ve been given. Humility in light of our misdeeds, sins both of commission and of omission. Nevertheless, we live in an amazing time, a time like no other in the brief history of mankind. And while there has been and continues to be war and strife throughout the world, we have been blessed with relative peace and prosperity the likes of which has never been seen. I could go on about the abundance we share, but today, I’m thankful for this one person, Cathy, who has been kind enough to live with me. And for as many more years as we are given. Thank you.
As I was making plans early this year for things to do with the youth group at church, I decided that in addition to our summer trip, it would be nice to have a winter retreat, something close to six months opposite, in late January or early February. Unfortunately, because I was making this decision in late January and early February, it was a bit late. I decided that I didn’t want to wait 11 months for our first winter retreat and I also wanted to include this year’s seniors. So, we had our first “Winter” Retreat on May 9 through 11 (thus the “Spring Edition” part of the name). This picture is of some of our youth, sprawled around the meeting room Friday evening, at Covenant Village in Pennsylvania. If you’re looking for a place for a retreat or camp, you should give Covenant Village a look. We found it perfect for our needs and I’m pretty sure most had a great time.
I took a bunch of pictures at church this evening and as usual, I had a hard time deciding which one to post. Some of them were not very flattering, so were easy to eliminate. I don’t mind having unflattering pictures of people. They come in handy once in a while, and they are good for a laugh years later. But for posting here, I would rather pick flattering pictures, or at least not-unflattering pictures. This one is pretty nice. It is Dorothy with two of her friends, Katie on the left and Jessie in the middle.
It’s prom time again and of course, this is Dorothy’s senior year, so it’s “her” prom. This picture is of Dorothy with her friend, Joseph.
As you might expect, I took a few more pictures, both here, with Dorothy and Joseph as well as Cat and Lee, who came here before they all left for Scott’s house. Then, at Scott’s house I took a lot more of the larger group of mostly seniors who gathered there before they left for dinner.
While they were having dinner at Lauren’s family’s country club, Cathy, Diana, and I had dinner at Urban BBQ. I dropped the ladies off at home and went to the prom location to take pictures for a little while. I had been invited to do that and given permission by Dorothy to stay for the first hour. I actually overstayed my time by a little, but considering that there were only three students there for the first half hour, I didn’t feel like I broke the spirit of the law.
Cathy and I took a relaxing little drive up interstate 95 this morning. Actually, except for about four miles approaching the Harbor Tunnel Thruway south of Baltimore, we didn’t have any trouble. Traffic was heavy but moving quite nicely. We were visiting the folks that I’ll be working with one week this summer. Back in July of 2011 we had a similar trip with CSM Toronto which I was (sort of) tricked into leading. This year I volunteered. Actually, I’m looking forward to it. It was good to meet Brittany and Nicole, who run the office in Philadelphia. In addition to seeing where we’ll be staying and a few of our work sites, we had a nice lunch with them along with another team leader and his wife.
I drove a few students from the youth group out to the University of Maryland this evening for a Cru event. After it was done, we went to Cold Stone Creamery, nearby and managed to get there just before they closed.
Here’s the group (from left to right): Maureen, Jessie, Dorothy, Gretchen, Anna, Ellen, and Mary. Safiya got to Stone Cold just after the picture was taken, unfortunately.
I believe that this is either Bombus pensylvanicus (the American Bumble Bee) or Bombus auricomus (the Black-and-gold Bumble Bee). Either way, it was a friendly sort of fellow. My assumption is that this was a male, because the males cannot sting, and this one was not even trying. He didn’t seem able to fly, really, either. He seems determined to get up into Judah’s hair, and he had to be moved back onto Judah’s nose a few times.
Those of you freaked out by the thought of a bee walking on your face, I understand, believe me. But most insects, even bees, are really not all that dangerous. Some, like some hornets and wasps, need to be avoided or at the very least not aggravated. Taking pictures of them, though, is usually safe enough if you don’t move too quickly and don’t try to touch them (like Judah was clearly doing here).
This evening was opening night of Dead Man’s Chest, performed by Washington Christian Academy’s King’s Players on the historic stage at the Olney Theatre. Everything went wonderfully and a good time was had by all (at least everyone I spoke to). Dorothy played the part of Zora, one of the three somewhat bumbling “pirates.” They did the “all for one” type salute a few times but I particularly like this one because Dorothy is holding a frying pan instead of her sword.
It’s Play Week at Dorothy’s school and since she has a part, it’s a busy time for her and the rest of the cast and crew. Starting today, they have their practices in the Olney Theatre, where the play will be performed on Friday and Saturday. In this picture, Becky (our fearless director) and Cat relax over dinner after running through the entire play. After dinner, they went through Act 2 again. At this point in the process, it’s usually a nail-biting experience, as it doesn’t seem possible that things will come together in time. This year, things seem to be going pretty well and they are, perhaps, a bit ahead of where they are most years. Much less hectic.
It’s that time of year again. One of my very favorite days of the year. It’s the day I visit the second grade class and demonstrate a few simple machines. You remember those, right? Levers, pulleys, inclined planes? Yes. For the previous two visits, see Monday, April 16, 2012 and Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
As you probably know by now, if you have been following my posts for any length of time, the highlight of the day, by far, is the opportunity the second grade students have to pick up their teacher. She’s not exactly heavy to begin with. But second graders are not really big enough to pick her up, or certainly not easily, anyway. With the strength multiplying “magic” of pulleys (and a stout rope), it takes only 20% of her weight to lift her off the ground.
Thanks you, Collyn, for letting me have such fun with your class. You’re a real sport.
Oh, and by the way, happy anniversary, Collyn and Keith!
You can never have too many pictures of your friends and family. The longer I live and the more pictures I take, the more I believe this to be true.
For yesterday I posted a picture of Lucia that I took at church. Today, a picture of my ever young bride, Cathy. This got me thinking about having pictures of people and the realization that you can’t have too many of them.
Have you ever gone back and looked at pictures from 5, 10, or 15 years ago (or longer)? Isn’t it wonderfully fun? The one problem I sometimes face is looking at a picture of someone I know I knew well and not remembering their name. It isn’t likely to happen with pictures of Cathy, of course, but of those not related to me, it’s all too possible. So, label your pictures as you take them. It makes looking at them all the more enjoyable. But whatever you do, take lots of pictures.
I only took a handful of photographs on this date (Wednesday, March 26), all of them at our church youth group meeting this evening. I’m posting this on Sunday the 30th. Last night I promised to post one of the portraits that I took. Dorothy and I agree that this is the best of them.
I do not believe that Lucia has graced this blog before today, so let me introduce her to you all. Lucia moved here in the last year so has had the difficulty of making a completely new set of friends. We were fortunate to have her and her parents find us at church.
One thing I enjoy is learning the various expressions of my friends. Some find it easy to smile and laugh. Others are more reluctant (particularly when a camera is aimed at them). Lucia is one of those fortunate people to whom a smile comes very easily. It certainly adds to her face value, don’t you think?
One thing I worry about (although I can’t say it actually keeps me up at night) is that I am repeating myself on this here blog thing. Are my pictures too repetitive? Am I not creative enough? What can I do to get something different. The problem is that even if I do something different one day, that’s just one day. then I’m back to looking for something to photograph the next. But that’s life for you. Life is repetitive. We see the same people and travel the same roads most days and that’s not always bad. If every day were completely different to the day before our lives would be pretty tiring. That’s something about travel that I love but also don’t like. The sheer differentness of each day gets tiring after a while. And even then, there are many things that are the same. I mostly don’t mind the sameness to my days. It means, among other things, that life is pretty stable for me. Anyway, I get to come home to this lovely lady every day, and that really is good.
There are always people that you wish you’d run into more often and this little girl and her family are in that category. I’ve been taking pictures of her and her brothers since they were tiny but the chances I get are way too far apart for my taste. We always say we should get together more often and we really mean it, but it doesn’t work out, somehow. I’m convinced life gets squeezed out by all the stuff we fill our life with and here I use the word “stuff” where a stronger word my do better.
Anyway, Elizabeth is about 14 months older than the last time I took her picture, I think. As you can see, she’s missing a few teeth but her smile is just as genuine as ever. Her brothers were around, as well, and I tried a few times to get pictures of her younger brother but he wasn’t having any of it.
She appeared here on October 3, 2013 at about age four weeks. She’s really grown a lot and happened to come to work today with her mom. I heard a knock on my door and was happy to have this face waiting for me (and Kasia’s, of course) when I opened my door. The picture from October doesn’t really have a good smile but now she’s getting the hang of it.
I was over at Henry and Calvin’s house this evening. I suppose it’s really Greta and Andy’s house, but when you have kids as cute as these two, you are going to have to learn that it’s their house that people come to. Actually, I wasn’t there to be with the kids. That was a wonderful bonus and of course I took the time to take pictures of both of them.
Calvin, being still fairly young, isn’t as adept as his big brother in making facial expressions on command but he did smile a few times for me and I think this picture captures it pretty well. He’s getting over a cold and I think his head was stuffed up, which didn’t help him much, but he’s basically a happy boy.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen them and I was quite impressed with how much talking Henry is doing and how understandable he is. Once or twice during the evening he’d say something and we’d all look at each other as if to say, “do you have any idea what he just said?” Mostly, though, he’s quite understandable and starting to communicate clearly. He still has his wonderful smile and is getting better at smiling when asked.
Great kids, good food, healthy discussion. All the makings of an enjoyable evening.