I already shared a picture here from the surprise party we had for Cathy on Sunday. I figured I’d share a picture from her actual birthday dinner, as well. I’m afraid I didn’t fix anything fancy for it. In fact, it’s about as unfancy as they come—frozen pizza—although there was a little leftover Thai, as well. Dorothy came over for dinner and we had a nice evening together. Dorothy, Margaret, and I all gave her a few presents and it was what passes for festive this year.
It’s harder than ever to plan and execute a surprise party this year, but I’m happy to say I pulled it off. It’s a few days yet until her birthday but that’s part of the surprise. Dorothy came over and baked a cake, saying it was for someone else. So Cathy saw her cake being made and was none the wiser. We went for a walk on the C&O Canal from Riley’s lock, which was very nice. Then we went to our friends’ place and visited Janis, who said she had something to show us in the barn. When we got there, the few friends who were up for it were there waiting. We had a terrific Thai meal and the cake that Dorothy made. No birthday hugs but I think a good time was had by all. To those who chickened out, neener-neener.
Cathy has been doing a lot of work lately going through boxes of papers and photos from her mom’s house. When we moved her to out house in 2018, we put a lot of things in boxes to be dealt with when there was more time. For a while we didn’t really have the energy to deal with them but we’ve finally started in on them and are making some progress. The box Cathy’s going through here is mostly photos that aren’t that old, with pictures of Dorothy and her cousins. The number of photographs to be dealt with is truly staggering but we have to start somewhere.
After work I drove out to Rocklands, where the Fourth Fellows were gathering for their weekly meal together. I had talked with David yesterday and he said he’d love to have some pictures of them. I took quite a few, including the whole group, but I’m particularly happy with those I got of the six you women in the group. From left to right, they are Thea, Dorothy, Genevieve, Elizabeth, Lydia, and Emily. It was a lovely evening and I was allowed to stay for dinner, which was an added bonus.
We had some friends over for dinner on the back patio this evening and I built a nice fire to keep us warm and to provide light when it got dark. Each of us had our own carry-out dinners and we sat relatively far apart. Nevertheless, it was good to be in actual company with others. I think I speak for everyone that it was a really enjoyable evening. From left to right, these are Josh, Julia, Maureen, and Bob. Cathy is out of the picture and of course I was taking it, so I’m out, as well.
We haven’t had an in-person family dinner night since early February. We’ve had occasional Zoom get-togethers but seriously, as nice as that is, it doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing. It’s been too hot to seriously consider doing it until recently. Now that Dorothy is home and the evenings are cool, we thought it was just about time. So, everyone came over, bringing picnic meals of one sort or another, and we sat on lawn chairs and blankets in the back yard. Everyone wore masks, except for while eating, obviously, and we stayed a bit apart. Nevertheless, it was really good to have everyone in one place again.
I took bunch of pictures of Iris, Seth, and their two kids but I’ll leave those for them to post, if they want to. I also took a few of sweet, little Eloise, but you know what? Older siblings tend to get ignored for a while after their younger siblings are born. So, here’s a photo of Silas, age 2¼. And if you’re wondering about the strap, he’s carrying a camera!
William and Beth drove down for a visit today and it was so nice to have them here. With the whole Wuhan virus quarantine going on, we are somewhat starved for human contact. Having people visit is a risk, of course. We’re at the point, however, that we need to see people and this was exactly the sort of visit that we needed. Cathy talked a lot with them about family history, and they all looked at pictures. We showed them the work we’re doing with Margaret’s memoirs and with the big scanning project that we’re ramping up.
Cathy and I went to see Iris and Seth’s new baby this afternoon. Naturally we stayed outside, but I was still able to take a few photographs. Silas didn’t want to take his mask off so although I got a few of Iris and Seth with Eloise sans mask, the full family grouping is all masked up. I think it’s a pretty cute picture, although without context, in years to come, someone is going to wonder why they were wearing masks. Anyway, mother and daughter (and father and brother) are doing well.
It’s summer here in Maryland and with it come the summer colors. Cathy often plants containers with a mixture of annual and perennials plants for the patio but this year I think she’s outdone herself. The patio is surrounded by black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) and that adds quite a nice backdrop to all the containers. To Cathy’s left, above the red tea pot, are cana lilies and a beautiful, bright red Pelargonium (a.k.a. geranium). The yellow and orange in the lower middle are purslane and there’s more of that in the bottom right, hear the elephant’s trunk. The hanging basket in the upper left is Lantana camara. As you can see, there’s a fair amount going on in the large, central bed. The garden against the fence has been dug out and almost completely restarted. It should be nice in a year or two, though.
It was a work day today but as usual, a few times during the day we took a break from work and went outside briefly. It’s been hot, with about three weeks with high temperatures above 90° That’s not really our favorite thing, but the flowers blooming in the yard get us out, at least a little. Here’s Cathy at the south end of the house with some bee balm (Monarda didyma, the magenta flowers behind her), orange tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium, off her right shoulder), Blackberry Lilies (Iris domestica, the slightly paler orange lower down and further to her right), and some purple butterfly bush (Buddleia). There are two roses on the frame against the wall but they are mostly without blooms right now.
Cathy and I were able to get into mom’s gated community today and had a nice visit. We had our temperature taken when we arrived and again when we left and we didn’t actually go inside her building. We visited with her on a bench out front, which was pleasant enough. She showed us the quite she’s almost finished making. It’s for the Ramallah Friends School in Ramallah, in the West Bank, about 8 miles north of Jerusalem. The children at her Friends meeting drew robots and she incorporated their drawings into the quilt. I think it’s turned out quite nicely. For the last third of a year (exactly today), we have only seen her via video chat, except for two times when we met on opposite sides of the fence so she could pass out some tax documents (and one of those times it was pouring rain). It was good to be able to just sit and chat.
Dorothy gave me a set of four prints for Christmas. Three of them are portraits of the three of us, herself, Cathy, and me. The fourth was also of her so technically a portrait but it’s her walking and not facing the viewer. Anyway, she asked me to take photos of them for her and I did. She also said I could use one of those as my photo for the day. So, while I took this photograph, the actual content isn’t mine.
Of course the actual content of most of my photographs isn’t mine. I just photograph what I see. Sometimes it’s a man-made object and sometimes it’s something found in nature. Rarely is it a me-made object and even then, I only make things with materials that already exist. I like these prints and I think I like the one of me the best, which sounds egotistical but I think it’s the best of the three technically and I just like the way it looks.
Iris and Seth moved into their new house today. We went over last night and got a van load of things and took that over with Seth. Shortly after we dropped him off at the apartment he called to say he decided to hire movers to help with this morning’s move. He already had a truck rented and the two of us could have managed everything but it sure was nice not having to lift anything heavier than a box of dishes. The truck he got would have held everything but we used our van for most of the boxes and oddly shaped items. The furniture and few larger boxes went in the truck. By 1:00 we were done, everything was in the house and by the time we left, the shelves from Ikea were back together again and up in the living room and it was looking like a home already. It was just about the easiest move I’ve ever helped with (and I’m not complaining!).
The local family got together this evening for Chinese New Year. Tsai-Hong and Iris picked up food from two different places and we had a wonderful meal. Of course, being with family is the best part of an evening like this and I try not to let the occasion pass without taking at least a few photographs. With two grand-nephews to photograph, I try to balance them out, posting first one and then the other. The last photo I posted was of both of them but I think it’s Silas’s turn. This is a pretty nice photo, in any case.
Chinese New Year was often a fun time when I was a kid. We’d go downtown and watch the parade on H Street and then have a Chinese meal in one of the restaurants in the area. We went there once with Dorothy and my parents in 2009. The parade and meal were nice but they never set off the long string of fire crackers that are such fun for kids (of all ages) because the fire marshal suspected a gas leak somewhere nearby. As disappointed as I was, I suppose I’d have been more disappointed has they been lit and there was a gas leak that caused an explosion.
Dorothy’s friend, Jackson, came to dinner this evening. He graduated from college along with Dorothy and got a job in New York. That’s great, of course, although living in New York isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. He’s traveled a bit and was here last week on business. Dorothy had dinner with him then and invited him to dinner this week, when he was in town again. Although he’s living in Queens, he’s commuting most weekends back to the Boston area to see his fiancée. She’s living near their alma mater and working in Cambridge.
After dinner (a Thai curry) I asked Jackson if I could take his picture for my photo of the day. He agreed and this is, I think, the best of them. I took some with him smiling and they are good, too, but I like this one. He’s hoping to be able to transfer to a Boston office this summer. Then, he and Megan are planning a September wedding. He brought an invitation from her to Dorothy to be bridesmaid.
Cathy and I have not had Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday for many years. The company where we work has decided that starting this year, we will be honoring the day and so, for the first time in many years, we were off work for that today. We wanted to do something outdoors and talked through a lot of options. Then Dorothy suggested we go to “the island with the box with the hand sticking out of the top.” When I was young, we went to this island in our little jon boat (there was no bridge or causeway in the mid 1960s). In the center of the island was a huge wooden box with a brass hand sticking out of the top of it. We know the proper name for the island, of course, but we still refer to it, and now Dorothy does, too, in this somewhat more colorful manner. Our friends Bob and Maureen joined us for the outing and we had a lovely time on a lovely day.
We had a family dinner night this evening, with carry-out from The Big Greek Cafe, one of our favorites. They boys were in top form. First, they both got behind the curtains and then jumped out to surprise us and laugh. Late we asked them to climb up on a chair together. As is usual when trying to photograph youngsters, it was hard to get them both smiling and looking at the camera at the same time. Nevertheless, there were quite a few that turned out well and I think their parents will enjoy them all. This is my personal favorite, although I liked others pretty well, too.
We drove down to Tyson’s this evening and met our friend Jean for dinner. It’s always good to get together with her and it was especially nice to be able to hear about her new job and all that was going on with her family. Of course a new job can bring anxiety but so far things seem to be going well. She’ll be quite busy, learning the ropes and it’s a fairly high-pressure office, but we’re confident she can handle it. Unsurprisingly we also talked about our kids and other things that are going on. She brought us some wonderful treasures as Christmas presents, but I won’t make you jealous by telling you more about those.
On fifteen of the last seventeen new year’s days we have gotten together with a slightly varying group of people. Most of those years we were hosted by Amy although we hosted for a few of them. We were at Amy’s again this year and this is the crew. We had our traditional fondue lunch, with three pots for meat fondue and one for cheese. That’s one of the few things that has been constant through all the years. Anyway, this was and is a great way to start a new year. This also begins year ten for my photo blog. I’m hoping my camera can make it through another year of this. The expected life for the shutter in my camera is only 100,000 shots and I’m more than 70% over that (this image is number 173,093) so I feel like I’m living on borrowed time.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Dorothy doesn’t particularly like to have her photo taken. This evening, when I mentioned that I hadn’t taken any pictures today, she was nice enough to offer to let me take her photo. I only took five shots (not wanting to press my luck). One of them has what she describes as a fake smile. One had no smile at all. Actually, I considered using that one. Nevertheless, I chose this one, which has a sort of half smile. It’s not a “laughing at a good joke” smile but it’s a “I’m pleased” smile. If you know Dorothy, you know this smile and appreciate it.
As 2019 draws to a close, I looked back and the photo I took on December 29, 2010. It also was a photo of Dorothy. Her hair was cut relatively short and was a bit wild (the caption was “Dorothy’s Bad Hair”). From that day to this, I have taken at least one photo every day. While my “official” Project 365 began on January 1, 2011, I took photos the three days leading up to that, so I have completed nine years and begun year ten. Will I finish a tenth year? I have no idea. The future, like the past is another country.
Dorothy’s (and our) good friends Andrew and Rachel stopped at our house on their way home from visiting with her family for Christmas. We had a nice dinner and then sat around a roaring fire and talked about all sorts of things. I took quite a few photos of the fire but only a handful of the three of them. Neither Dorothy nor Rachel particularly like to have their photo taken. I got it over with early so they could relax. We really enjoyed having them visit and look forward to seeing them again.
As noted, Darius is here. We have really enjoyed having him and David here and it really has “made Christmas fun again” as Dorothy had hoped. We were hoping to have Maggie here, as well, and that would have made it all the better, but forces beyond our control prevented that. Nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves. After the long day yesterday with stocking and presents at our house and then the big meal and larger family get together at mom’s (with a few more presents), we were pretty tired. So, today we didn’t do a lot. Mostly we just hung out and visited and played with Darius. No outings (except a quick trip to the grocery store) and no planned activities. They leave tomorrow (which means they already left by the time I’m writing this), and we’ll be sad to see them go.
Cathy’s brother and nephew arrived late Saturday evening and we will have them with us until Friday morning, when they will head back home. Darius has gotten quite a bit taller in the 15 or so months since we saw him last. I suspect he might appear in another photo before the week is out but in the evening today I realized I hadn’t taken any photos so asked him if I could take a few of him. We’re really glad to have David and Darius here for Christmas.
Last year was a very different Christmas because both of her grandmothers were no longer in the houses Dorothy grew up going to for Christmas. We did our best but it simply wasn’t the same. She came up with a plan to ‘Make Christmas Fun Again’ as she put it. This involved inviting all her out of town cousins and other relatives here for the holiday. As it worked out, there were fewer than there might have been, but it was still a big deal that David and Darius came, driving from New Mexico in two days. We’re still expecting another cousin, Maggie, to come for ‘Second Christmas.’
Some of us got together for dinner this evening at mom’s. Iris, Seth, and Silas were still out of town. We were waiting for David and Darius to get here but they expected to be after 10:00 (they got here at about 11:20). After dinner, as we usually do, we went up to mom’s apartment and talked. Kai played on the hobby horse. Mom had pictures of him and of Silas on this in her Christmas card, as well as pictures of her and her sister on the same horse, over 80 years ago. As you can see, Kai is doing a pretty good imitation of someone enjoying himself.
We had our group’s Christmas party this afternoon and evening. It’s technically a holiday party, since we aren’t allowed to mention Christmas at work, for fear of offending someone (and not everyone celebrates Christmas, of course). Bue we all know what it is. Our group, which is made up of mostly technical people who provide programming and computer support to project teams, is something over 100 people and it was a pretty good crowd this year. We went to Dave & Buster’s new location at the Rio and had a surprisingly good buffet meal. We all got game cards and this is a photo of Terry, one of my coworkers, playing Space Invaders.
I published a photo of myself a couple days ago. Today you get my better half. Cathy’s usually very kind to let me take her photo if it’s late in the evening and I haven’t taken anything that day. This evening she was relaxing on the sofa and we had been watching an episode of Time Team on YouTube when I got my camera out. The first two she was reclining and though they turned out well enough, she liked this one better, after she sat up straighter.
She’s only just smiling with her mouth, but her eyes are certainly smiling. After more than 35 years together, we often don’t need to actually speak to be able to communicate. We’ve become that old couple that just looks at each other and laughs. I guess there are things a lot worse that that to be accused of. Anyway, we’ve become accustomed to each other’s faces, with the subtle changes they’ve each gone through over the years.
I don’t often post pictures of my self (the so-called ‘selfie’) but I figured if I’m going to, it might as well be done on an occasion such as this. I was going to title this post “A Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man” but decided that was a little pretentious. Also, I’ve never read anything by James Joyce and if I’m going to mess with his title, I should at least know what he was about. So, “Self-Portrait” will have to do. I don’t particularly like photographs of myself and I recognize that it’s unfair of me to force others to let me take photos of them when I don’t like to let others take photos of me. Part of it is that they tell me to smile when I’m already smiling. Part of the problem is that the mustache makes it harder to see my mouth. Another part is that while I smile with regularity, it’s hard to do when called upon and make it look natural. But I think this one turned out well enough.
I went with Cathy, Aaron, and Alice to the Operation Christmas Child processing center this evening Cathy’s annual evening of processing boxes. She’s been many times but this was my first time. Aaron has also gone with her a few times before. We had a good time and got a fair amount done. Along with the hundreds of other volunteers today, we processed 64,795 boxes going to Malawi and Togo. That’s a pretty respectable number. It’s a fairly loud and hectic place but everyone is generally in a good mood and there is plenty of laughter. We were impressed by a few large collections of boxes filled by individual groups, especially one where each box had a hand knitted item, obviously made with much love.
We met Jean for dinner this evening in Falls Church, at a place called Fava Pot. It’s quite good and the servings are generous. We’ve only been twice, as it’s not really in our neighborhood, but it was a good meeting place between our two homes. Jean starts a new job on Monday and is a little anxious about that but we’re looking forward to hearing about how well it goes. Naturally we also talked about our children and what they’re up to. It was a good time and we were certainly glad to get together with her before she’s busy with the new job. Sorry for the exposure. I decided to not use flash for this, so the lighting was a bit rough.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. We had a really nice time and a great meal. I’m not actually a huge fan of turkey but it’s what’s done so that’s fine. Mom bought and I cooked a 19+ pounder and it turned out pretty well, if I say so myself. It was good to have the family here and the only thing I could have asked for was having Dorothy home. She comes home soon, though, and I’m looking forward to that. She originally was planning to come back for Thanksgiving but decided to extend a few weeks and that’s fine, of course. Here’s the family that was here.
Between our trip to Alaska and various other commitments on weekends, we haven’t seen most of the family for quite some time. It was really nice getting together with mom, Tsai-Hong, Steve, Kai, Iris, and Silas for dinner this evening and then to have a chance to talk and take pictures of the boys back in mom’s apartment. The boys generally take a while to warm up to me when we get together. Kai takes less time, mostly because he’s older and more likely to remember me from one visit to the next, but even he is shy at first. His younger cousin, Silas, is still much more hesitant and bashful.
I got a few good pictures of each of them, though, including this one of Kai. He has a mischievous streak—not uncommon in children—that’s very endearing and cute. I’m really enjoying watching him grow.
Back in 1998 we met Jan for the first time. Our friend Susie organized a surprise for Rob’s birthday and we flew to Phoenix along with other friends and it was there we met Jan for the first time. Since then we’ve traveled together a few other times, including a big trip to Italy two years later and we’ve seen her occasionally over the years. Dorothy stayed with her when she was in California this summer. Jan was in town for the Navy football game and an event honoring fallen US Naval Academy alumni, including her brother. We were excited to get together with Jan and Rob for dinner at the Pines of Rome in Bethesda. Sadly (except she does enjoy traveling) Susie was in Warsaw Otherwise she would have tben there, too.
We went for another walk in the woods today, further upstream in the same watershed. After church we walked through the Stadtman Preserve and down to Mill Creek. As we were coming down the hill we saw a fox, which was pretty cool. There was not much chance we’d be able to get close enough for a good photo so I didn’t even bother trying. We followed Mill Creek down towards Lake Needwood. I took this photo of Cathy standing next to the creek a little ways into the walk.
It was cool but not cold, with a light overcast. Cathy wore a jacket although I was in my shirt sleeves (and they were rolled up, at that). It was very peaceful and pleasant. There was one area where we could hear traffic on the inter-county connector (Maryland 200) but for the most part, it was as quiet as you could hope for.
After a while we decided to cross to the south side of the creek, where there is a regular path. It isn’t heavily used but there is a small bridge over a side stream and we did see one other person on that side of the creek. This photo was taken shortly after we crossed the creek and a little before the spot where we turned around. I’m pretty pleased with this photo. I think the leaning trees give it a little interest. The colors were quite nice, too.
I didn’t have a map with me and hadn’t looked at one any time recently. If I had, I’d have known how close we were to Lake Needwood. Where we turned around, if we had just gone around the next bend, we’d have come out at the northern end of the lake. We’ll definitely want to do that walk again and go a little further.
We went to see Cathy’s best friend (and my good friend) Jean this evening. She wanted to take us out for Cathy’s upcoming birthday but instead I brought things and made panang curry, brown rice, and roasted cauliflower with caraway seeds. I don’t mind going out for a meal, of course, but it’s easier to visit in a home and I don’t mind cooking, especially something that I can make without too much thought. Jean gave Cathy a card (that she’s holding in this photo) and this ‘wonderful’ tray for eating in bed. The note on the tray says, “A Priceless Antique . . . from back in the day when being a troll was NOT a bad thing!”
It’s our last evening in Juneau and we went out to dinner with our good friends Brian and Lisa and their son Nathaniel. This photo was taken by Nathaniel’s girlfriend, Alex and it’s nice to have a picture with all of us in it. We were sad to be leaving and could easily have been happy staying another week or even two. We’ve know Brian and Lisa since early 1986 and Dorothy’s been living with them since she arrived in mid July. I’d say it’s been very good for her to be here, although not without its struggles. But as a wise man once said, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.”
This photo wasn’t taken by me, but I’ve already posted two photos from today that I did take, so I think I can get away with it. I don’t appear in many photographs and for the most part, that’s my preference. Nevertheless, I’m trying to learn that if I want to expect others to let me take their picture, I need to be willing to return the favor. Dorothy took this with my camera and while I don’t think it’s a particularly good photo of me, it’s at least evidence that I was there. Nugget falls is larger than it looks in this photo. The reality is that we’re quite a ways from it. If we walked so that we were right below it, you’d see how high it really is. I have a few photos like that, but this isn’t one of them, so you’ll just have to trust me, or better yet, go visit it for yourself.
We have a very fond and somewhat funny memory from the winter of 1986-87. It was on a relatively mild day in February when Cathy, Brian, Lisa, and I drove out to the glacier. There was eight to ten inches of snow on the ice on Mendenhall Lake and there were kids sledding on the hills of glacial moraine. Brian, Lisa, and Cathy walked out into the snow on the ice wearing boots and their bathing suits. The took off the boots and settled on a blanket laid on the snow (which naturally sank into the snow when they sat down. I took a handful of photographs of them, pretending it was a lovely day. Actually, for February in Juneau, clear skies make it a lovely day, regardless of the temperature. Anyway, here’s Cathy, 32 years later, in front of the Mendenhall, although she was dressed warmer today than she was on that day in February.
Cathy and I began a ten day trip today, getting up at 3:40, driving to the commuter parking lot on Georgia Avenue and catching the 4:21 bus to BWI airport. That was the beginning of a 23 hour journey spanning four time zones. Our first flight left BWI at 7:00 AM EDT and arrived in Los Angeles at 9:45 PDT. Add three hours to that for the time zone change and we were in the air about 5 hours and 45 minutes. We had an equally long layover in LAX, not leaving until 2:40 for Seattle. We walked nearly two miles from terminal 6 through tunnels under terminal 5 and then up and through terminal 4 to the Tom Bradley International Terminal (a.k.a., Terminal B), walking the length of that (and back). That wore us out but also passed a good bit of time.
This photo, taken from Terminal 6, is of Cathy resting her ankle briefly with a view of “The Theme Building” in the background. We had lunch and then went to our terminal ahead of boarding. You know how in airports there are often announcements where a person is named, but it’s never you so you don’t pay attention? While we were waiting for our flight, the woman on the PA called my name and asked me to come to the service desk. Needless to say, I was surprised. I was even more surprised when I went to the counter and she handed me my driver’s license. It had been in my pocket and apparently fell out. The amazing thing is that not only was it found but someone went to the trouble to find out where my next flight was leaving from and get it there. I didn’t know it was even lost until it was returned. Needless to say, I was pretty thankful.
I’m getting pretty far behind on posting photos here. Never fear, I’ve been taking photos and they will make it eventually. I can tell you now there are some nice pictures ahead (as well as some that are not terribly exciting, I’m afraid). Anyway, we had a family dinner night and the boys were there, Kaien and Silas. Both continue to grow and are becoming their own individuals. Kai really enjoys bouncing on the hobby horse and is getting fairly comfortable really bouncing. Silas is a bit more reserved and cautious, which is fine, of course, as he’s quite a bit younger. I like this photo of him, in which he isn’t exactly smiling exuberantly, but which is still a good picture. He’s a sweet boy and fun to play with. We hadn’t gotten together for a while for various reasons, including that Tsai-Hong was traveling in Africa. When we go longer between seeing each other, he takes a little longer to open up when we do.
We drove to Virginia today and Margaret met two friends for lunch at a Persian restaurant called Shamshiry. The name comes from comes from the Farsi word for a curved sword from the Middle East. While they had lunch, Cathy and I ran some errands. We tried to go to a bakery but were stymied by an Octoberfest that had some streets closed to auto traffic. We made our way around that and headed back to pick up Margaret. I took a few photos of her with her friends, Shaima, and Inez, one of which is my photo for today.
Margaret had an unexpected call from and visit by some friends today. Unexpected, but very welcome. Henry and Dieu live in Florida, which is the main reason the visit was so unexpected. They happened to be in town visiting family and came to say hello to Margaret while they were here. They came with Henry’s sister, brother-in-law, and uncle and it was lovely to see them. It was nice to get caught up on their lives and that of their son, Phillip, who is a couple months younger than Dorothy. They posed for a few quick pictures with Margaret before they left.
We went to lunch for Margaret’s birthday today, meeting two of her friends for Iranian kebabs at a place in Germantown called Johnny’s Kabobs (an valid alternative spelling, apparently). Their menu is a bit more extensive than Moby Dick, a local chain, but similar otherwise. It wasn’t particularly busy but that meant that I didn’t have to bother other customers by using my flash, so I was able to take a few pictures. This one is, I think the best, although one of the heads in this photo came from a different exposure. Getting four people to smile all at once is harder than it ought to be.
Cathy and I drove up to George and Carmela’s today for a short visit. We had no trouble with traffic and we made pretty good time. We didn’t stay long but George had prepared a really nice lunch with homemade sourdough bread with robust olive oil spread on it and then covered with ripe, fresh tomatoes and sprinkled with feta cheese and Sicilian oregano. Obviously there are a lot of good flavors but fresh, very ripe tomatoes, served at room temperature, have to be right up there. These were wonderful and the corn on the cob as good, too. Of course, the visit was the main thing, and it was nice to have a few hours together before we turned around and drove home.
Cathy and I have been trying to recover from the small amount of work we did in the garden in 2018. This year has been mostly recovery mode without a lot of additions but a lot of pulling and digging, trying to get at least some parts of the garden back to more garden plants than weeds. It’s an up hill battle. Along the back fence there was a huge stand of goldenrod, pokeweed, and bindweed. Cathy dug up a bunch of roots a few weeks back and we worked a bit more on it this weekend. As you can see, the central bed is full of black-eyed Susan’s and we have the volunteer American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) growing there (the purple berries on the left). We dug out a bunch of weeds there last week, as well. Tomorrow I plan to dig up some roots that remain from the maple trees that used to be there.
Thirty-five years ago, Cathy and I were married. Has it been magical? I’m not sure I’d go that far. But it’s been pretty darn good and I think we’ve shown we’re in it for the long haul. I won’t say there haven’t been any rough times but over all I’d say we’ve done pretty well. There have been trials from outside and we’ve weathered those together. There have been trials from within and we’ve made it through those, also. I lean on her, she leans on me, and so far we’ve managed to stay standing, even if we stagger from time to time. I won’t claim to be a magnificent catch, but I try to do my part and she seems to be okay with me. Of course, as in all relationships that are worth anything, we try to remember to set aside a little time for silliness. Humor, which often means sarcasm, is a big part of the equation. Anyway, the deal was supposed to be that we’d grow old together. As you can see from the photo, she’s not growing old as fast as I am, which I think is a little unfair.
I met Tsai-Hong, Iris, Seth, and Silas at mom’s this evening for dinner. My back has improved quite a bit and I actually put in seven hours work from home. I did take a break to ice my back and I tried to get up and move around now and then. I came to mom’s without my camera bag, though, because it’s a bit heavy and that would be asking for trouble. I did bring my camera and flash, though, because I knew Silas would be there and as you can see, he was in a pretty good mood this evening.
With my back still bothering me, I stayed home today. I did put in a little time at work, mostly a long phone call to discuss a proposal that is being written for a project that includes a web site. When Cathy got home from work I asked if I could take her picture for my photo of the day. She agreed and I took almost two dozen shots of het with her flowers. Most obvious are the Rudbekia (the Black-eyed Susans). There is also orange and yellow butterfly weed Asclepius tuberosa) on the right. In front of that is the pale pink spider flower (Cleome). There are other annuals in pots and there is the red teapot lower down.
We had our annual family reunion on the way home from the beach this year. It alternates between the Saturday we head down and the Saturday we head home. Either way, it makes for a long day but I for one really enjoy it and it’s one of the highlights of my year. I manage to keep in pretty good touch with a few of my second cousins and it’s good to see them face to face. We didn’t take a large group photo today but I got pictures that included most, if not all the 50 or so people there. We did get pictures of the five remaining first cousins, who were all there.
As usual, we took a family photo at the beach on the last day when everyone was still there (George and Carmela left shortly after the photo was taken). Tsai-Hong and Cathy had gone for a walk and were a long time getting back, which created some tension. Of course they were understandably not anxious to sit for a picture the moment they got back. They had walked to the far end of the island and back, covering over eight miles. The weather cooperated, though, as the light overcast meant we didn’t have to squint into the sun or put our faces in shadow by facing away.
We have one evening each year where we all go out to dinner together, both our family and my Uncle George’s family. We were 26 for dinner this evening and if you’ve ever gone to a restaurant and said, “party of 26” you’ll have some idea what that’s like. Actually, this restaurant, the Inlet View outside of Shallotte, North Carolina, is pretty well equipped for groups that size. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to go early, if you don’t want a really long wait. After dinner we tried to get a photo of the youngest generation. Taking a picture of four children aged between just over a year and not quite five is a challenge, and this is about as good as I was able to get. At least none of them are screaming.
It’s interesting how differently children react to things. Take the beach, for instance, and the waves from the ocean. Silas seems to really love the water and is happy sitting at the edge of the surf, letting the water come to him. His cousin is more apprehensive. I have no doubt that Kaien will grow into a love for the water to match his father’s but for now, he’s not so sure. Of course, a year from now, Silas might have traded his enjoyment for a more cautious approach. Every kid is different and even one kid changes from year to year. But for now, this little man is enjoying the beach.
I got an email this morning from Rob who asked if we were interested in having dinner this evening. That by itself was enough, but he also mentioned that Ian and Annie were visiting from France. Naturally we were happy to be included. Many years ago Susie organized a surprise birthday trip for Rob and we were included on that trip. We have traveled with them a few other times on other surprise birthday trip, including a huge surprise trip for Cathy to Venice and Florence, Italy. We don’t see Ian and Annie as often any more, as they’ve been living in France, but it’s great when we get the chance. We don’t even see Rob and Susie as often as we’d like and we need to make more of an effort. But when we do get together, it’s always worth it. It just seems so natural to be together.
The locals got together for a family brunch early this afternoon and then went to mom’s apartment to visit for a while and to enjoy watching her great grandchildren play. Since I saw him last, Silas has begun to walk. He’s not walking all the time yet, but he’s taken multiple, intentional steps. It’s been fun watching him progress and I look forward to continuing. His older cousin was there, as well, and I got pictures of him, too. I probably should keep track and try to balance out who gets their picture posted but I frankly can’t be bothered. They’re both adorable little boys and I enjoy them both.
As you may remember, we spent much of 2018 cleaning out Cathy’s mom’s house and getting it ready to sell. It went on the market the first week of September and we had a contract a couple months later. There were some delays going to closing but we got there on March 1 of this year and I think everyone was satisfied with the deal. The buyers, Ugo and Jennifer, were very nice and invited us to an Independence Day cookout. There was some rain but that didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. The smaller kids certainly didn’t mind, as they were playing in the inflatable water slide that Ugo and Jennifer had set up in the side yard. Before we left, they posed with Margaret for a few pictures. We had a good time talking with a few different people and of course it’s hard to go wrong with burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, and barbecued chicken.
I happened to be upstairs today and my friend and coworker Katie told me that she was going to pick up her daughter from art camp and bringing her back to the office for the rest of the day. I asked if she would mind if I took some pictures. I’ve done that off and on for years and it’s fun to look back through them and see how she’s grown. Today’s picture is with another friend and coworker, Kasia. I think this one turned out quite well. I don’t take a lot of pictures at work, as that’s not really something that’s done, but occasionally I do and I appreciate having at least some photographic record of people I’ve worked with.
When I was little we bounced on this hobby horse, made with a truck leaf spring to provide the bounce. Technically it isn’t 100% the same as the one we bounced on, as the spring has been replaced. It broke when an adult who shall remain nameless bounced on it, somewhere around 30 years ago. Although she doesn’t really have room for it there, mom has it in her apartment. Silas isn’t old enough to hold on and bounce on his own but he really enjoyed bouncing on it with his mom holding him. He’s a happy kid, in general, and smiles a lot, but watching his face while being bounced on the horse was so precious. Silas continues growing apace and although he’s not quite walking as of today, it’s definitely in the any-day-now category.
Steve and his family were out of town for the weekend so it was a smaller group for dinner this evening, but a really nice time.
We went to the annual Erick’s Hope (http://erickshope.org/) benefit this evening and it was good to see people that we don’t see nearly often enough. That’s our fault, of course, we just get busy and forget to schedule anything and time goes by and it doesn’t happen. When something is on the calendar and we go, it reminds us and we try to do a little better, but life seems to be pretty crowded these days. Of course today we had Dorothy and Abba with us, who leave tomorrow on their cross-country adventure, so we didn’t want to stay out too late. But we didn’t want to miss it, either. Two of the people we always enjoy seeing are Amy and Melanie, who we can generally count on seeing as they manage the silent auction.
As mentioned yesterday, we went to southern Virginia for a wedding. This is one of the pictures I took at the wedding, with Maria and Evan, now husband and wife, recessing after the ceremony. The weather was pretty good. A little warm for my taste but then, if I was comfortable, most everyone else would have been shivering. There was the threat of rain but it held off and everything went beautifully. Maria was even more lovely than ever and the wedding went off with only one hitch (they got hitched). Here’s to the happy couple.
Our good friend Maria is getting married tomorrow and we drove to southern Virginia this afternoon. We offered to transport a few things so we stopped in northern Virginia to pick up two corn hole games, a croquet set, four trash cans, and 14 plants, plus a few other odds and ends. We had hoped to have my mom’s Toyota minivan but alternator trouble meant we went in the Mercury Villager, instead, which is a bit smaller. We managed to get everything in, although Dorothy had a mandevilla on the end of the back seat with her.
We had a family dinner at mom’s this evening and both of the youngest generation were in top form. Kai is really starting to be able to communicate well and he was willing to pose with his dad for some pictures. Getting them both looking at the camera and smiling at the same time is as hard as you might imagine but this one turned out quite well. Silas took what you might argue was his first step this evening. He stands withoug holding on pretty well. Basically, he moved his left foot to keep his balance and I’m counting that as taking a step.
As the weekend wound down, we had a busy but nice Sunday. After church we had a very nice lunch with Emiko and her family at a house they had rented for the weekend. It was really nice to get to know them a bit better. After that we returned to the art gallery to dismantle Dorothy’s installation. Before taking it down I took a series of photographs of various parts of the piece. I have overall views taken two weeks ago but I wasn’t able to get many closeups then. With a tripod and a bit of time, I was able to get them, some from the top of a scaffolding, so I wasn’t looking up from the floor. Then we pulled all the pins and collected the various pictures, booklets, and related paraphernalia that made up much of the piece. The painted portions will be painted over, of course. If you were not able to see it, I’m sorry, it is gone forever.
But not without photographic evidence.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Dorothy graduated from college this weekend. We arrived in the rain at about 2:30 on yesterday (Friday) and after a little while went to the Baccalaureate service from 5:00 to 6:30 or so. When we came out, the sky had cleared and it was cool and quite beautiful out. We had been invited to dinner at the home of one of Dorothy’s friends and that was a really nice time, relaxing and comfortable, eating pizza out of their boxes, as it was meant to be eaten.
Today, the sky remained clear and cloudless. In fact, if anything, it was a little too warm and we all got a bit of sunburn. But it was a glorious day for an outdoor graduation ceremony. The students went across the stage in groups, alphabetically by their departments. The Art Department was first, and Dorothy was the fourth graduating senior to cross the stage. She was met there by our friend, Doug, who was there as a member of the Board of Trustees. He stayed long enough to walk off the stage with Dorothy before heading to the airport to catch his flight home.
Of course, one problem with being right at the beginning of the ceremony is that the rest of the time you don’t really have anything to do. That’s not to say I didn’t take any more pictures, of course, because we’ve gotten to know some of Dorothy’s friends and I tried to get pictures of them crossing the stage, as well. I got some good pictures (as well as plenty that aren’t all that great) but I did my best. The sun was pretty intense, which made it a little harder. After the 180 minute program, there was a serious amount of milling about and a lot more opportunity for pictures of Dorothy with her friends. It took us all a little while to find each other but eventually we managed it. First up is this picture of Dorothy with her mom, who is obviously and rightly proud of Dorothy for all she’s done in the four years she’s been at Gordon.
As an art major, obviously the Art Department played a significant role for her. I know she’ll keep in touch with a lot of her friends but it’s less likely that she’ll be actively in touch with her three art professors. Nevertheless, I wanted to get a picture of her with them. She had asked about the stoles that many graduates were given to wear. She was told that the art students could were stoles if they made them. As you can see, they made them for professors James Zingarelli, Bruce Herman, and David West, as well.
After the pictures with her professors, we took quite a few with Dorothy’s friends, as you might expect. Jonathan, on the right in this photo, lived with us the summer before last. It was nice to be able to watch him graduate and especially nice to meet his parents, who came all the way from Malaysia, arriving just in time for yesterday’s service. Andrew and Dorothy have been very good friends and together form the musical team known as Kinsman.
This picture of Dorothy with Rachel and Taylor sort of goes with the previous one. Rachel is engaged to Andrew and their wedding is in two weeks. Dorothy will be there for that and is one of Rachel’s bridesmaids. Taylor and Jonathan are dating, as well. We’ve only recently gotten to know Andrew, Rachel, and Taylor very well in the last year, but are glad to know them and feel like Dorothy has some really high quality friends.
Eventually we left the campus and headed back to the house where Dorothy lived this year. Sadly, the school is selling Dexter house, so they will be the last cohort of students to live there. Needless to say, there was joy and sadness as they said farewell to each other. They are headed in all different directions, both in the short term and the long term. One is leaving for Israel tomorrow, another for Iceland. I don’t know where all the others are going next but this was a really tight-knit group and I won’t be surprised if they join up as a group in the years ahead.
Finally we went to a party given by the local families of a few of Dorothy’s friends. Bob and Barb hosted and there were a lot of students there with their families. It was a casual affair with plenty to eat and lots to talk about. I especially enjoyed getting to know the parents of a few of Dorothy’s friends, some of whom I’d have to describe as “our people.” This is a time of transition and that can be scary and uncertain, but one thing is sure. Dorothy went to college with a lot of the same worries she’s facing now and has come away with a really wonderful group of friends, some of whom I suspect will be friends for life. I certainly hope so.
It was a busy, tiring, beautiful, exciting, long, day. Congratulations, Dorothy!
P.S. I didn’t take that last picture. Just saying.
We drove up to Massachusetts again, having been there two weeks ago for Dorothy’s art show. This time it’s her graduation and it is just Cathy and me, without Dorothy’s grandmothers. We had traffic problems around Boston, with rain and accidents on I95 but we left early enough that we were here in plenty of time for the Baccalaureate service held this evening from 5:00 to 6:30. We had good seats in the front row of the balcony and I took a few pictures. The candle lighting portion of the service was particularly nice, which is what is shown here.
We took our annual Mother’s Day outing to the garden center today for Cathy to buy the annuals that she’ll plant around our yard and garden. After a hot and clear day yesterday it was quite cool and rainy today. When we got to Fehr’s Nursery in Burtonsville we were the only customers there. Others came and went while we were there, though, and considering the weather, they were doing pretty good business. Much of what Cathy was shopping for is in their greenhouses, so the rain didn’t really affect us too much. I did what I usually do in these situations, wander around with my camera and take pictures of flowers. I was taking pictures of these flats of red-flowered begonias when Cathy happened to come by, so I got this picture of her in front of them.
Iris was out of town and it was Seth’s birthday so we thought we would bring him dinner and have a short visit. It turned into a family dinner night, which was fine and in fact, really great. We had both of the next generation there, Silas and Kaien, so there was plenty for me to photograph. Kai, as the older cousin, is much more aware of and involved with things going on in the room. He is also talking quite a bit although I can’t say I always understand him on the first try. Silas is less involved but he is definitely becoming aware of things going on around him. With his mom not there and with only having had a short nap today, he was somewhat subdued. I think that comes through in this photo of him. He’s very good-natured and seems relaxed, at least as long as one of his parents is very close by. It’s been a lot of fun watching him grow and we’re so thankful that Iris and Seth (and Steve and Maya) are living so close.
After church this morning, we met up with a friend of Margaret’s and they went off together to visit. The rest of us went for a picnic on the beach. It wasn’t particularly warm and the sky was overcast but it was nice to be outdoors. We put a blanket down on the sand and made sandwiches (because on the beach, you can eat the sandwiches there). The herring gulls (Larus argentatus) were all around and hoping for any food that might come there way. I’m afraid they didn’t get much from us.
As we drove back we stopped at Niles Beach. From there we could see Boston, just over 25 miles to the southwest. I like the atmospheric quality of this photo so thought I’d include it along with the picture above of our picnic. I also like the not quite parallel lines of waves gently rolling in and changing with the subtly changing light.
After our outing, we visited with some friends in the area and then in the evening went to the penultimate Catacombs of Dorothy’s college career. It was a really nice time and a nice way to end the weekend visit.
We spent most of the day on the road today, driving up to Massachusetts to visit Dorothy for the weekend and see her senior art exhibit tomorrow evening. It was four of us, Cathy, me, and our two moms (Dorothy’s grandmas). We didn’t have traffic problems to speak of until we got onto Interstate 95 around Boston. Then it took us two hours to go 25 miles. We met up with Dorothy and went to the art building where the final preparations are under way. I’ll post a picture of Dorothy’s art tomorrow. Today, here’s Dorothy pointing out an article about a woman being attacked by a beaver.
Today was a long day but a good one. After church we made a quick trip to the county transfer station to unload all the sticks and brush that we had filled the back of the van with from the yard. Then we headed to Virginia for a bridal shower for Maria, the older of Jean’s two daughters. That was for Cathy and while she was there, I went to a local park and took pictures of wildflowers, mostly buttercups (Ranunculus species). I went back to pick up Cathy and spent a little while taking pictures of Maria and her friends and family.
We killed a little time and then at about 6:30 went to Truro Anglican Church in Fairfax. I had told Cathy we were doing something in the evening but she didn’t know what. After we got there, I told her it was a concert with Sara Groves, Audrey Assad, and the Robbie Seay Band in a benefit for International Justice Mission (IJM). I had told Cathy she’d be glad and she was. We had good seats and I was able to get a few pictures during the concert. As you might guess, if you think about such things, the blue lights played havoc with the white balance calculations my camera made, but I was able to get the skin tones looking about right.
In addition to the singing, we heard from a few folks associated with IJM, including a representative from the Philippines as well as a rescued former victim of modern day slavery. Their message was sobering, to say the least, so it’s hard to say we enjoyed it. But it’s an important work and we decided to participate on an ongoing basis.
Before the show, Dorothy had sent me a text saying that if I had a chance to talk with Audrey Assad I should tell her about Catacombs at Gordon and then say that she has been more of an encouragement to Dorothy and Mulley than any other single musician. Of course I didn’t really expect to get the chance. As it turned out, we were able to go to a reception after the show and I did, in fact, have a chance to talk with her. I gave her Dorothy’s message, although I’m not sure I expressed it very well. Also, because Dorothy didn’t give me any insight into how, specifically, she had been encouraged, I had to be a bit vague. I do know that Dorothy has sung some of Audrey’s songs at Catacombs.
We also had a chance to chat with Sara Groves. We’ve been fans of hers for about 20 years, since her first album came out. We saw her in concert for the first time in November, 2004. One of the pictures I took that evening was the main pictures on her Wikipedia page for quite a while. We really appreciate her song writing and her willingness to acknowledge that life can be hard, painful, and confusing. We often pretend we have it all together but most of us don’t and it’s good to say so once in a while. She was gracious enough to have a photograph taken with us (actually, she was nice enough to suggest it). This last picture wasn’t, therefore, taken by me.
Thank you, Sara, Audrey, and Robbie (and the band) for what you are doing. If you have any interest is the impossible seeming task of ending slavery, please take a look at International Justice Mission (https://www.ijm.org/).
The forecast for last night and all day today was for rain. That didn’t happen and it was a gorgeous day. After getting home from church (see previous post on the Easter Sunrise Service) we took a little time to rest, as we were a bit sleepy. Then I started getting the food ready for the Easter dinner we had with family. I had bought a ham and made biscuits, Tsai-Hong brought a really nice salad as well as fruit. Other side dishes and dessert rounded out the meal. Margaret and Cathy made a lamb cake yesterday and it turned out pretty well, although they had trouble getting the eyes and nose to stay in place. Eventually we had to use a toothpick to keep the nose from falling off. Also, we only had golden raisins, so the lamb has light colored eyes, which is a little different to what it normally looks like. It cooked well, though, and was tasty.
Later in the afternoon Iris asked if I’d take a few pictures of Silas and of the three of them out in the yard. It was cool and at first Silas wasn’t sure about sitting on the grass but he got used to it pretty quickly and I got what I think are some pretty nice pictures. It’s no surprise that Silas is growing up and gaining his own personality, of course, and it’s really nice to be a part of that. He’s a happy little boy (for the most part) and is pretty easy going. This will be tested when Iris has to be away for a little while for work, but I’m sure they’ll get through it (not to say they’ll enjoy it, though).
We missed having Kai with us (and Steve and Maya, too, but you know it’s really all about the kids). Nevertheless, it was wonderful to have who we had and we’re really thankful for family. We missed Dorothy, too, and really look forward to seeing her in two weeks. She spent Easter with her friend, Katie, on the New Hampshire / Vermont border. It’s not like being at home and she missed the music that we got this morning, but she’s doing well and finishing strong. We couldn’t be more proud of her.
This was our fourth Sunday in a row to enjoy the flowers at the Stadtman Preserve. Don’t be too surprised if we’re there again next week. Since daffodils only last so long, I’m going to continue to post pictures while the do. In addition to hundreds of daffodils of many sorts and shades of yellow and orange, the P.J.M. Rhododendrons are really starting to bloom. We also found one bloodroot plant (Sanguinaria canadensis) with a few blossoms. There were spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) and cut-leaved toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) and a few mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum).
We had a family dinner this evening at Tsai-Hong’s house. We know it was two months late but Tsai-Hong had the flu on the proper Chinese new year so we celebrated in April. She got a flu shot but got the flu anyway. We had a terrific meal and, need I say it, the kids were the star attraction. I took quite a few pictures (even for me) and I am quite pleased with this one of Iris and ten month old Silas. He and Kai almost played together and were both very cute.
After church this week, for the third week in a row, we walked over to the Stadtman Preserve to see the bulbs. The daffodils are pretty spectacular and entire sections of hillside are yellow with them. The Chionodoxa is still in bloom and there are areas completely dotted with their pretty, blue flowers. I took pictures of Cathy in a few different spots but I had only brought one lens, the 100mm, which wasn’t really idea for that sort of portraiture. This one turned out pretty well, though. Spring it definitely here and we’re loving it.
Cathy and I helped Seth and Iris move this morning. Their new apartment is very nice and their shorter commute will be a real blessing for them, I suspect. I’ve said at times that I’m getting too old to help people move but this is family and anyway, they don’t have a huge amount of stuff. One small truck load of furniture and two van loads of other stuff and we were done. The carpeting on the floor will be nice for Silas as he continues learning to crawl and the apartment will be easier to baby-proof than where they were. Silas was really good throughout the whole process although I wonder if he understands enough to wonder what was going on. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that I took quite a few pictures of him. I’m really pleased with a few of them, including this one. What a cute kid.
As I mentioned on the picture of Dorothy lounging in the snow the other day (see Saturday, March 09, 2019), Dorothy is here with some friends. These are two of them and they are engaged (to each other). Andrew and Dorothy enjoy playing music together as the group Kinsman. Rachel is a fellow art student with Dorothy. We have met them both a time or two but didn’t really get to know them at all until this week. I see why Dorothy likes them both, individually and as a couple. Getting a good picture of them has been a challenge, in part because they aren’t crazy about having their picture taken.
Margaret, Cathy, and I were invited to dinner this evening by Karen and Tim, who are visiting from Michigan. They are staying at the home of some other friends who graciously hosted us, along with a few others. We had a nice time talking about their work with an eye hospital in Afghanistan as well as various other travels. It was a pleasant evening with good food and enjoyable people. I only took a few photos but this one of Tim and Karen with Margaret turned out pretty well.
With closing on her mom’s house earlier today, I had planned on a celebratory dinner. Margaret already had plans to attend the Missions Banquet at church today, so we’ll have the real celebration next week. Cathy and I decided to go out, anyway, although we didn’t eat anywhere fancy. We went to BGR The Burger Joint, which was fine. The concept of a “gourmet burger” is something of an oxymoron, but it was a good burger, anyway. It was raining pretty hard but we decided to walk from BGR to the Barnes and Noble at the other end of the outdoor mall. We stopped along the way under cover at Copper Canyon Grill and I took a few pictures of Cathy by their fire. It’s a shame that they have to put up a heavy, metal fence to keep people from burning themselves, but I suspect either their insurance company or the local government insisted.
We had a family dinner this evening with most of the locals there. As is my custom, I took a few pictures. Actually, I took quite a few more than I have most recent gatherings. I’m happy to say that I got a good number of decent photos of the boys. Silas is really starting to show his own personality and is much more aware of what’s going on around him. While he’s not quite crawling, it won’t be long. I got a good picture of him laughing but I’ve decided to post this photo of him with his grandma, Tsai-Hong, instead. I posted a photo of her with Kaien on Friday, March 31, 2017 and it’s only fair that I post one of her with her second grandson.
I learned this evening that Seth and Iris (and Silas) are moving in a few weeks. Fortunately this is a local move so that they can be closer to work. We still don’t know what their long-term job situations will be and we all hope they’ll be able to stay in this area. But, you have to go where the jobs are.
Most people have relatives of one sort or another. We have quite a few but we know a lot more of them on my side than on Cathy’s. She’s been doing a fair amount of digging into her ancestors on both her mom and her dad’s sides and has learned quite a bit. Of course, she has living relatives, and we know some names but haven’t been in touch with many of them for quite a while. Margaret’s sister was older than her by nearly 19 years. In consequence, Margaret’s has nieces and nephews who were only a few years younger than her. Benje is only a few years younger than Cathy and me but he’s Dorothy’s generation. He came to visit Cathy’s family once and Cathy and I met him when we lived in Alaska, but it’s been more than 30 years. We were very happy to have him and his wife visit us for a few days this week. We had a really good time talking about the family, looking at old pictures, and basically getting to know each other.
As you know, if you’ve been following me for a while, my mom moved from the house she lived in for 59 years into a retirement community nearby. As they do with most new residents they published a short bio of her for the community paper. In that she talked about some of the art she has created over the years and she was asked if they might display a sample in their small gallery. They have a dozen or so display cases like the one shown here and she gave them some painted china and some small quilt work that she has done, to be displayed for six months.
I saw the display a month or so ago but Cathy wasn’t with us that day so after brunch with mom today we went to see it. The plates she painted include a nuthatch in the upper left, which is actually displayed incorrectly with the bird appearing to be on the ground instead of creeping down the trunk of a tree, as they do. At the upper right is a white-throated sparrow and the two birds on the lower plates are a black-capped chickadee on a wild rose (left) and a Carolina wren. The small quilt at the back of the bottom of the display was inspired by a Pablo Picasso painting of fish on a plate.
She has much more, of course, and has made quite a few much larger quilts but they would not fit into the display case. Also, most of the quilts have been distributed to her children and grandchildren. She showed us one she is working on now and I took a picture of her with that but decided to keep it secret until it is finished and given to its recipient.
We had a Family Dinner Night today and it was a very nice time. After dinner, as usual, we gathered in mom’s apartment to talk and watch the kids play. Kai, at two and a bit, is really starting to communicate verbally and is a very relaxed, easy going kid. He has an incredibly cute smile and a twinkle in his eyes that reminds me of his grandfather, although he’s certainly his own person. Silas, as 7+ months is not really a brilliant conversationalist yet, but that will come. He’s already starting to show a personality, as you’d expect, and it very cute, as I’m sure his parents will attest. This evening he and his dad were wearing matching t-shirts with Papa Bear and Baby Bear on them. Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, if you will. The ties were a later addition but were a nice touch.
We aren’t entirely sure how this robe made its way to Cathy’s family’s house. Possibly one of her brothers brought it back from a visit to Peru, where their grandmother lived for more than 20 years. Or perhaps she sent it as a gift to one of them or brought it back herself, when she returned to the USA. In any case, it’s from Peru, possibly from the Machiguenga or the Asháninka, and it is made of cotton. The holes for the arms are fairly small and I was barely able to get my forearms through them. Cathy, with her mild claustrophobia, was a little worried when putting it on that she’d get stuck and need to be rescued, but it didn’t actually come to that. It’s a little long on her, coming to the floor, and the length is just about right for me. It’s in remarkably good shape, especially considering that it’s been hanging in a closet for at least 20 years. I’m not sure what we’ll do with it, though. In general I’d say it isn’t the sort of thing we’re likely to wear around the house or even to go out. But it’s a nice thing.
Once again, we had our now traditional fondue party at Amy’s home. We had two pots for cooking meat and one with cheese and there were two wonderful salads. But of course, it’s not really about the food. It’s about being with people we enjoy. This was our fourteenth in sixteen years and Cathy’s mom was with us for the first time this year. Amy thought to extend her table so we were not quite as crowded while eating. We also stayed longer than we have in past years, getting home after 8:00 PM. It’s a really nice tradition and I was especially glad to have this visit with Rob and Susie, who we see for too infrequently.
As predicted yesterday (and since I wrote it after the fact, there wasn’t much chance of it being wrong), we celebrated Christmas at our house in the morning and then in the early afternoon went to mom’s apartment for our family gathering. For quite a few years, our tradition has been to go to Cathy’s parents’ house for breakfast and opening presents there. Because Margaret has moved here, we had the same breakfast but in our house. That consists of pancakes, poached eggs (steamed, actually), and bacon. There is butter, syrup, and jam to go on the pancakes. Many years it has included sausages but I didn’t have any this year. It’s a pretty satisfying breakfast.
At about 2:00 we went to my mom’s and gathered with the rest of the family. I got a few pictures of Tsai-Hong with her two grandchildren but decided that I’d post this one of Dot with her two great grandchildren (the same two kids, Silas and Kai, in both cases, obviously). Getting a good picture of both kids, with both of them looking at the camera is a crap shoot, and this isn’t perfect, but they’re cute enough to make up for it.
The final picture is after Steve and Kai blew out the candles on Kai’s birthday cake, to celebrate his recent birthday. It’s a pretty happy moment. Naturally, the candles came back on, because that’s a family tradition, as well.
The ensemble played at church this morning and we really enjoyed the music. A few instruments are nice but there’s nothing that really compares to the depth and richness of an orchestra. Of course this doesn’t qualify as an orchestra, but it’s as close as a church this size is likely to get. It’s worth it. In addition to the saxiphone, trumpets, flutes, oboe, baritone, euphonium, and viola seen here, there is a trombone on the far right and another sax, a few clarinets, and more flutes on the left. On stage is a piano and drums. All in all, a very nice sound.
We had our annual holiday party today. It was a bit different to recent years. When I worked for Mike and his group had diminished in size, we began going to the holiday party with the project group we worked with. That is a bit group and while I know a small fraction of the people in it, many of the people I know and work with here are in that group. I generally sat with the same people each year. This year, the various teams of technical workers who are under her in the corporate organizational structure were asked to come to a holiday party together, instead of either a smaller party of their own or the project area party. I know a reasonable number of folk in that larger group, but it was a change, none the less. Still, we had a good time, eating and bowling. This is Marsha (on the left) and her right hand, Ivonzetta. I can’t say I know either of them very well but Marsha sat at our table during the meal and I spoke with them both more today than I have in total up to this point.
Many of us are not fond of pictures of ourselves. I know that’s true for me and it’s a bit hypocritical of me to insist that others pose for pictures and allow me to post them while I’m not particularly comfortable posing for pictures myself. Nevertheless, I do it. We had a really nice and long overdue dinner with two friends this evening, Theresa (a.k.a. Reeree) and Susan (a.k.a. Susan). It was really goot to get a bit caught up with them, although it’s been so long and so much has been going on that we didn’t really get completely caught up. But it was a start. We also had a really good Thai meal, which was a bonus. Shortly after this photo was taken, I knocked over my water glass and it shattered. A nice way to end the evening.
We had a family dinner night and I took a bunch of pictures of Kai. In some of them he is being held by his great aunt Cathy and in others by his grandma, Tsai-Hong. Those are grandma’s hands in this picture. The wheel in front of Kai is actually spinning but to get that with some blur would have required a tripod and a little more planning, so just imagine it spinning and catching Kai’s attention. He’s a pretty easy going little boy, at least from what I’ve seen of him Maybe his parents would say otherwise, but he doesn’t really fuss much when we’re together or if he does, he’s easily satisfied.
I thought I’d post a second picture from our walk at Lake Needwood this afternoon. In the woods, behind the boat house, is this sculpture of a bear. It’s a cool, laid back sort of bear, wearing flip-flops and sun glasses. Cathy figured it was a good day to kick back and watch the world go by, so that’s what she did. There wasn’t a lot of world going by, as it happened. There were occasional walkers but not really enough to keep you interested for long. So, we continued our walk, crossing the dam and walking on a smaller trail around to the Gude Trail before returning to out car.
There was a lot of coming and going at our house today but I mostly stayed out of it. Kendra and Jacob came over, and I talked with them briefly. Justin and Judah also stopped in for a few minutes and I didn’t do much more than say hello. I spent much of the day either doing crossword puzzles or sorting books in my reading room. I did get out a little in the heavy rain, which turned out to be a bad idea. I went to mom’s because George had left his coat at our house yesterday and I wanted to return it. I also brought a few of mom’s dishes. On the way, however, I went through a reasonably deep puddle and the serpentine belt came off again in our old Grand Caravan. Apparently it’s a known problem, although the van’s mileage is over 267,000 and it’s only started happening recently. Cathy came and picked me up and I had the van towed to the garage again.
We celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday this year. That’s fairly common for us, as it makes life easier for all involved. It also allowed us to have that great trip to the art museums yesterday, when crowds were a little reduced. George and Carmela drove down and we all gathered at our house this year. With mom in an apartment and Cathy’s mom living here, the two family homes were not available to us. Getting fifteen people (all except Silas) around our dining room table was a little tight. Next year, he’ll be old enough to sit in a chair, so we’ll have to figure out something to get one more at the table. In the evening we took our standard family gathering photo.
Cathy, Dorothy, and Dorothy’s cousin, Abba, and I went to a few art galleries today. If you’re looking for something to do on Thanksgiving day, you could do a lot worse than visit the National Gallery of Art or any of the Smithsonian museums. The Smithsonian museums are open every day except Christmas and the National Gallery every day except Christmas and New Years Day. Parking is free and there are fewer people than most weekends (and the day after Thanksgiving is generally a lot worse). We started with the National Gallery, parking just over a block away and starting with some sculpture and some other things on the lower level. Then we went up and through the rotunda and to the impressionists. This picture of Abba shows her sketching a painting titled Interior, after Dinner by Claude Monet.
Dorothy had asked each of us to bring a sketch book and to sketch at least three things that caught our eye. Since both of the girls are artists, this came naturally to both of them. Cathy and I had to force ourselves a bit. I drew a sketch from a sculpture by Paul Manship, one of my favorite twentieth century sculptors. It isn’t very good, frankly, and not something I’d be proud to show to anyone.
Abba drew from this Monet and Dorothy from a painting next to it, Théodore Duret, by Edouard Vuillard. The girls have very different styles of drawing but are both pretty tallented. They are quite a lot alike in other ways, however. Beyond the similarity of their hair, they have almost identical taste in clothes, they like much of the same music, their senses of humor fit together quite well, and the basically just get along.
From the National Gallery’s main building, we went through the tunnel to the East Wing, where we saw their collection of more modern art, including Picasso, Calder, and others. On the roof terrace, Cathy was excited to find the large blue cock in the third picture, in front of which she was happy to pose. When the girls were sketching the impressionists show here, Cathy was admiring Child with Toys—Gabrielle and the Artist’s Son, Jean, by Auguste Renoir, in which Gabrielle is holding a toy chicken. So, I guess she just likes chickens. I don’t think she planned her outfit to match the chicken, but she couldn’t have done any better if she had tried. We saw this cock in London, in Trafalgar Square, in 2013, so to see it here was something
We went back to the tunnel between the wings of the National Gallery and had lunch (it’s outrageously expensive, but they know there aren’t any other alternatives anywhere nearby). Then we went to the Freer gallery to see the Peacock Room, by James Whistler, as well as other works in their collection. That room, in particular, is a favorite and Abba had never been there. We also went to the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum (which are in the same building). They have a smaller version of Paul Manship’s Dancer with Gazelles, that I drew from in the National Gallery. They also had an interesting exhibit of works by Kumi Yamashita with shadows being cast that formed faces or bodies but where the objects casting the shadows were basically random. Abba also found a painting by John Singer Sargent that was picked as a match for her by an app that find the classical painting that you most resemble. I have to say, the resemblance was there. In fact, it looks a lot like Laura, another of the cousins.
It’s that time of year again. “What time of year?”, you may ask. Operation Christmas Child time of year, that’s what. Cathy scaled back this year. Last year when I asked how many boxes she was going to make she said “six, maybe seven.” She ended up with twelve. That was a lot and there was a fair amount of stress involved. I suggested she only do six or seven this year and actually stick to that. She decided that was a good idea, so the fact that she “only” did eight is pretty good. She was also a little less worried about making them all the same this year, and she finished a week early. We turned them in this afternoon after church. In this picture she’s holding five of the eight.
Last year we got a photograph of children receiving boxes that happened to include some that Cathy had packed. You could see the picture of us that Cathy had included in the boxes. That was pretty neat. We’ve had letters from recipients before and that’s always fun, too.
Tsai-Hong and I went over to mom’s this evening and put up some art in her apartment. She’s been there a while but there were other priorities and she also wanted to take a bit of time to figure out what should go where. We haven’t finished and there is a sheving unit that needs to be hung on the wall, for which I needed a few pieces of hardware. But we were able to get Sir Roger up, as well as her quilt hanging rod, behind the sofa and shown holding up one of her recent quilts in this photo. We also had a nice dinner together. She has more art than she has wall space to display it on, but we’ll do our best to get a few more things up before Thanksgiving and then she can decide what to do with the things for which there isn’t room.
I asked Cathy if I could take her picture this evening. She agreed but then when we got around to actually taking them, she was in something of a silly mood. I know that’s surprising to anyone who knows her because silly isn’t really her. Well, it is, but then only sometimes. She posed in various ways in front of a blank wall, which is good for portraits but those aren’t as good as this one, I don’t think. She sat on the end of the sofa and took off her shoe. In stead of putting it down, she put it up to her ear and I took this picture. I can’t see that and not think of Maxwell Smart, of course, but as you can see, her shoe phone works differently to his, which had the phone part in the bottom of the shoe while hers works right side up. When I showed the picture to Cathy just now she said, I’m holding my shoe the wrong way ‘round, meaning the toe should be at her chin. So, I guess I don’t really know anything about how her phone works. I like the colors in this picture and think that’s a big part of what’s so nice about it. The color of the shoe and the curtains and all of it just works. Silly, of course, but as I said, that’s Cathy.
We had a family gathering this afternoon. Instead of getting together for dinner, though, we had brunch together, which was a nice change. Of course, the centers of attention at these gatherings are the two children, Kai and Silas. Silas slept a fair amount this visit, so I only got a few pictures and they are fine, but not as good as this smile from his older cousin Kai. The weather has finally turned cool and autumnal and we had talked about taking a walk but everyone felt like staying indoors this afternoon instead.
In the evening I did a really stupid thing. I took everything out of my pockets and carried a few things to the basement to do laundry. Because I knew I’d want my phone downstairs, I took it with me. Unfortunately, I left it in my trouser pocket when I put them into the wash. I know people have had success drying out phones that have been dunked but (and I’m writing this more than a week later) after pulling out the battery and drying it in silica gel for a couple days, it’s dead. Still, 4½ years isn’t bad for a cell phone (which is sad in itself).
For at least a couple years my friend David has wanted to roast a whole pig. Thus weekend he finally got his wish. The original date was to be Saturday but it rained until about 9:00 and kept him from getting the early start he needed. So, he moved it to Sunday. By 6:00AM he had the pig up on the spit and the fire going under it. This picture was taken about ten hours later, around 4:00 PM and, as you can see, the pig is getting there.
Because of the change of day, I wasn’t able to stay and help eat any, but I couldn’t let the occasion go by without coming to take a few photos. It turned out to be a lovely fall day, perfect for spending time outdoors around a fire. I also enjoyed visiting with David, Joel, Chris, Theresa, and Lee, however briefly. It certainly got me thinking about the possibility of a pig roast of my own. Or perhaps a sheep or a goat.
Cathy asked me to take a picture of her with two of her garden ornaments this evening. They both came from the patio at her mom’s house and so far they are on our driveway. Eventually they will go somewhere more appropriate. The taller on is a rabbit, obviously and the lower, which is also a small bird bath, is a cat. The rabbit is not as heavy as it looks, because it’s not actually stone, although it does a pretty good job of looking like it is. It’s also hollow, although it’s heavy enough that it won’t get blown over unless the wind really picks up. In the first few pictures, Cathy was posing as a rabbit, but I prefer this one, which is a more natural pose. The sections of log on the left are from the tree I cut down last Saturday.
It’s homecoming weekend at Gordon and although were weren’t attending a lot of the scheduled activities, this is one we couldn’t miss. Dorothy and two friends, John and Bobby, submitted a proposal for a chicken coop to be built and maintained behind the road halls and it was approved. The run and coop were built a couple weeks ago and the hens arrived last Sunday. Today was the official dedication of the Village Chicken Coop, also known as the R. Judson Carlbnerg Memorial Chicken Coop.
Admittedly it wasn’t the most attended event of the day but it was on the official schedule and those who came all seemed to have a good time. The chickens got a pumpkin, freshly chopped into pieces and there was cake and sparkling cider for the humans. It was also a beautiful day for it. Yesterday was rainy and chilly but today was pleasant and sunny. We couldn’t have asked for anything more. They are already producing eggs so the project is off to a good start.
Our first full day visiting Dorothy was a busy one. We had breakfast in Beverly at Cityside Diner, then back to the campus for a convocation in the chapel where Dorothy was one of the students being presented an award (and yet we still don’t know, specifically, what she did to earn it!), and then a walk in the rain while Dorothy was in class. We visited the chicken coop that Dorothy and two friends got approval to build behind the road halls. After that we walked to Gull Pond and back and the color of the light was very nice. As you can see in the reflections, the trees are just starting to turn colors. It was also quite a bit cooler than what we’ve been having at home, barely getting up into the low 60s.
It was raining quite hard when we left for church this morning. So hard, in fact, that we used umbrellas to get to the car. Generally we don’t bother for such a short walk but it was hard enough that we’d have been quite wet if we hadn’t used them. After church it was still raining but we decided we wanted to be outdoors. We parked across from Old Angler’s Inn and walked up the tow path to Widewater. It was raining lightly as we went and we stopped fairly often to look at wildflowers and other plants as well as rocks and the river. This was taken on a rock beside the path high above the Potomac River just a little way up the tow path from the Angler’s Footbridge.
I took a pair of photos like this and then switched to the wide angle lens. Those pictures show the river as well as lots of trees and rocks but aren’t as good of Cathy. I like this picture quite a bit better.
We had a family lunch instead of dinner this week and it was great to have Brady here for a visit. Steve was out of town but Maya brought Kai and Silas was here with Iris and Seth. Shortly before Cathy and I left, we put Silas and Kai on a chair together and took a few pictures. Silas isn’t really able to sit up by himself yet and he had a pacifier in his mouth for all but the last photo that I took. Still, it was pretty cute. Maya would tell Kai to kiss the baby and he’d lean over the kiss Silas on the forehead. Then he’d put his hands in front of his mouth and laugh. So sweet.
We had a family dinner night this evening, gathering at mom’s apartment and having Greek food from The Big Greek Cafe. Only one baby was there this time, with the other out of town, but Silas was generally in a good mood. He’s about 2.5 times his birth weight already and going strong. Still small, of course, but not nearly so little as when he was born. On the other hand, he’s developing much more in the way of facial expressions. He isn’t ticklish yet, but if he is startled, he certainly reacts. It was good to see everyone (or the everyone who was there).
We went to see our good friends Jean and Maria this evening and had a wonderful time. Maria is recovering from some fairly substantial surgery to her hip and seems to be doing really well. She’s getting around with a walker and should be back on her feet in plenty of time for her wedding next year. We’re really looking forward to that and talked quite a bit about their plans. I fixed panang curry with chicken for dinner and we also had peaches and whipped cream for dessert (it’s hard to go wrong with peaches and cream, unless the peaches aren’t ripe, of course). Mostly, though, we just visited and talked and got caught up on what’s going on in our various lives. We missed Lexi, of course, but we’ll do it again when she’s in town.
Cathy and Jean went to high school together and lost touch after college. They reconnected in the late 1990s and have been best friends again ever since. We visited them in 1999 when she and her family lived in southern Germany and the girls were not yet in grade school. I just went back and looked at those pictures and it brought back some pretty good memories.
On Easter Sunday I took a photo of this handsome couple and it was pretty well received by those who know them. I’ve known Michael for quite a while but that was the first time I met Tanya. Since then they have become husband and wife and it was good to see them today at their church picnic. I crashed the picnic (technically, I was there as a guest of Cathy’s mom) and enjoyed seeing lots of old friends and acquaintances, including Michael and Tanya. It was a hot day but it wasn’t raining, so that was something. We enjoyed burgers and (even more so) sausages made from Rocklands Farm meat. If you aren’t familiar with the farm, check them out and give them a visit (http://www.rocklandsfarmmd.com/). I often walk off and take pictures of animals and flowers when I’m there but wanted to stay out of the sun today so didn’t. I did get a picture of a Commelina communis flower (Asiatic dayflower), which is a pretty blue flower with only two petals. I also took a few nice pictures of some of my friends’ children, which is generally easier than photographing adults. Nevertheless, this photo of Michael and Tanya turned out pretty well, in spite of the bright background.
I’m old enough now that I allow myself to think about retirement. It’s still a long way off, I’m afraid, unless things change drastically, but not so far away as it used to be. Every year brings me that much closer (which I suppose is sort of the way time works). I went to lunch with some coworkers today to celebrate the retirement of one of our number. Jane (in the pink sweater) is fortunate to be able to retire at such a young age. One thing you might notice about this picture is that I’m in it. I did take this picture but I was also in one taken by someone else. I took myself from that one and added it here (but without feet, if you look carefully).
Our anniversary was last Saturday but Cathy’s mom was out of town then so she took us to dinner this evening to celebrate 34 years. We went to the Thai place on Rockville Town Square and the place was hopping (the square, more than the restaurant). There was a concert going on and the place was fairly crowded. We had a nice meal but decided to eat indoors so we could hear each other talk. Cathy broke from tradition by getting panang curry, which is what I generally get, except she got chicken while I usually get beef. Then I broke with tradition, as well, and got pad thai, which Cathy usually gets, except I got beef while she usually gets chicken. After dinner we walked around the square once and I took a few pictures, including this one (obviously) from the east end of the square, looking towards the stage.
I went with our good friend Mike to music practice at church today. They don’t have their ensemble play often but when they do, he likes to participate, playing the baritone horn. He played trumpet in high school and college but he’s moved down the scale to the baritone. I don’t really know a lot about the various horns but I’m a big fan of them in terms of music. I’m also a fan of the lower registers, so the tenor, baritone, and tuba are favorites, just as the cello and double bass are in the string sections and the bassoon in the woodwinds. The ensemble playing this Sunday includes, in addition to Mike’s baritone, a tuba, trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, two flutes, two violins, and a piano. Those instruments were not picked in any scientific manner but are basically what people willing to play have to play. They sounded pretty good, though.
We had a family dinner night this evening at mom’s new apartment and dining hall. I don’t want to give the impression that I only enjoy these get togethers because of the two grand nephews (and it isn’t strictly speaking even true). Nevertheless, I do enjoy seeing them. Kai is such a cute little boy. He wouldn’t smile for me until his mom said, “Kai, can you cry for Uncle Henry?” This is the grin we got from that request. It’s when he smile that he reminds me most of Ralph, which is good, but also hard. I love this little guy. He’s his own person, obviously, and he has a lot of his mom in his looks, but there are moments when he looks just like his grandpa at that age. Not that I remember his grandpa at that age. When Ralph was Kai’s age I wasn’t quite two months old. But there are pictures.
It was great catching up with our dear friend Karlee this evening. It was also nice meeting her boyfriend, Patrick. Whether he’s good enough for Karlee remains to be seen, although he seems nice enough. It’s always hard when someone you know well and care about meets someone and you don’t know them. It’s probably natural to be suspicious or doubt that they are good enough. We really enjoyed dinner and being with them. It’s too bad we have to brave the Beltway and the American Legion Bridge during an evening rush hour to see Karlee, but it’s worth it.
Our week at the beach has come to an end and we leave tomorrow morning. The southern North Carolina beaches are great and I like Ocean Isle in particular. Partly that’s just a matter of familiarity, of course, and people who go to other beaches year after year almost certainly feel the same way. But one thing I don’t particularly care for is the drive home. It’s about 425 miles and the traffic between Richmond and DC is never good, especially on a summer weekend. But, drive it we must. First, however, we took time for a family photo out on the deck. As you can see, we’re sort of looking into the setting sun, so there’s a bit of squinting going on. From left to right: Henry, Dot, Danna, Kai, Maya, Steve, George, Carmela, Cathy, Dorothy, Jacob, and Kendra.
On the way to the beach in southern North Carolina we stopped in northern North Carolina for our annual family reunion. As usual there was good food and great fellowship. We also took our annual photos. Some years we do generational photos. This year we did families, based on “The Siblings”, none of whom are with us any longer. Except we always take a picture of “The Cousins”. Of the eleven first cousins, five are still with us and are pictured here (along with Catherine, Clinton’s widow). We also took a picture with the other spouses but I like this picture and decided to go with it. We also took a large group picture of the 58 people who were still there at the time it was taken.
We had a family dinner night ahead of going to the beach. Since Iris, Seth, and Silas won’t be at the beach with us, it was good to get together with them. Silas is growing like a weed, as children do at this age. His cousin, Kaien, is also growing and I have aome pictures of him, as well. But as I post this, we’re back from the beach and I know that I took pictures of him at the beach.
It’s really nice having a baby and a toddler around at family gatherings. They are both wonderfully cute. Of course it’s a bitter sweet joy, as it really makes me miss my brother (and I don’t really need a lot of help on that front). Nevertheless, if I’m going to miss him (and I am) there might as well be two beautiful grandchildren to help offset it. And at least for now, they are in town and we get to see them somewhat regularly.
On November 23, 1886, Cathy’s great grandparents, Fred and Lucy, were married in Sullivan County, New York. This was during the industrial revolution and before the area because known as the Borscht Belt in the early twentieth century. Fred and Lucy moved west. Cathy’s grandfather, Albert, lived in a suburb of Chicago and became a wholesale butcher. Because of that, Cathy’s father, born shortly before the stock market crash of 1929 and Roosevelt’s great depression, grew up with meat on the table. Years ago Cathy and I visited Sullivan County and found what we believe was the family farm, although all that was left was a collapsed barn.
We drove up to Canterbury Shaker Village today to see Dorothy’s cousin Abba. She has been there all week in their first resident artists program. The program was a success and they plan to repeat it regularly. Abba was chosen as one of only five artists (and one of two painters). We enjoyed seeing her work as well as wandering around the historic, Shaker buildings. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, only occasionally disrupted by the sounds of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway just over a mile to the east (if you go on a non-race day, you won’t have that issue). We wandered around the gardens and down to the ponds on the eastern part of the property.
We went to a wedding reception today. Dorothy described it as a fake wedding for a real marriage. This is the bride, Dorothy’s best friend, Kendra. She got married (eloped, actually) last fall. Today, a friend of the family had a wedding reception for Kendra and Jacob. I have a few pictures of both of them but sadly, a few days before the party he broke his jaw in a rollerblading accident and had his jaw wired shut. That makes him look a little dour and I’m not going to post those pictures. With all the talk about straw bans in various places, I hope there will be an exception for people with their jaws wired shut.
Some of the family got together for dinner this evening at mom’s place. This was our first family gathering at her new apartment and we ate at the dining hall. The food got mixed reviews, with some things being better than others, but none of it was bad, anyway. Of course, one highlight is seeing young Silas, now a little over three weeks old but still not quite up to his original due date. Cathy was happy to get a long turn holding him, and I took a few pictures while she did.
Like most babies, he slept some, cried some, and ate some. Also like most parents, Seth and Iris are pretty tired. Unfortunately he’s got his day and his night mixed up and is sleeping for longer stretches during the day. But he’ll get through it and so will they. In the mean time, he’s absolutely adorable when he’s asleep, as shown here.
As we were leaving, I took a few pictures of the sunset, which was quite nice. Nevertheless, sunsets are a dime a dozen when compared to pictures of babies.
Tonight was the annual Erick’s Hope benefit dinner. Erick’s Hope (http://erickshope.org/) is a non-profit run by our friends, Richard and Donna, in honor and memory of their son, Erick, who died in 2008. Every year in the last week of June Richard and Donna have a fundraising event. For a few years it was held at The Golden Bull in Gaithersburg but more recently it has been at Montgomery Country Club in Laytonsville. We got to see friends that we don’t see as often as we’d like. Cathy bought two desserts at the dessert auction but we didn’t get anything else. It’s always nice to see Maureen, posing here with Cathy, and her husband, Bob. We see them more than most but still not enough.
On Tuesday I had a picture of Dot (otherwise known as mom) in her new digs. Well, today’s picture is back in the old place. It isn’t quite empty yet, but it’s getting there. As you can see, there are some books that are yet to be either claimed or given away. The lamp (an imitation Tiffany) and the wall hanging are tagged with their new destination. We also need to take down the hooks for her quilt-hanging rod and then put them up in the new place. The cabinets and shelves that dad built around the fireplace have held up pretty well. The original mantel was much more traditional. Dad had asked if he could replace it and when mom finally said yes, she came home to find the old one burning in the fireplace. He wasn’t going to take the chance that she’d change her mind.
Yesterday’s picture was Abba, one of Dorothy’s cousins on her mom’s side. Today we have Hannah, Abba’s little sister. We had her here for a few days to look through things at her grandma’s house. She was in on Abba and Dorothy’s surprise visit, although we were not and she didn’t give it away. Because we live so far apart, we don’t all get together nearly often enough so it was really nice to have so many here at once. On the other hand, it was a very busy week and by the time we got home and could visit, we were all pretty exhausted. Dorothy rightly suggested that we need to plan a get together with all the cousins in a place and at a time when we don’t have a lot of demands on our time, so we can all just enjoy being together.
Today, Cathy, Dorothy, Abba, Hannah, and Darius went to the zoo and then drove around downtown to see the sights. Naturally, David, Maggie, and I were busy moving things around and clearing out the house. No rest for the wicked.
We continued working on the house today. David, Maggie, and I worked mostly in the basement. Abba, Dorothy, and Hannah went through things, looking for things they would like to have from grandma and grandpa’s stuff. They each took a fairly wide assortment and those things went into the master bedroom to be moved later.
We started filling our second dumpster today and are making good progress. We also moved some metal shelves and 55 gallon drums out to the curb to be picked up tomorrow for metal recycling by the county. The shelves in particular were quite heavy. I moved three of them with the help of a young friend and then we moved two more with four of us carrying them. I’m glad those are done with.
In the evening we had tacos and visited back at our house. As usual, I took a few pictures, including this one of Dorothy’s cousin, Abba, which I think turned out well.
Mom moved to a condo today in a retirement community. We’ve been very busy with my mother-in-law’s move so were not able to do as much for her as perhaps we should have done, but between George coming down on Friday and staying through the move and the folks at Let’s Move, the move has happened. There is still plenty to do yet at the house but most of her things that she will have at the new location are in place and set up. As you can see, she seems pretty comfortably situated. There will be more adjustments, as well, of course, but the big moving day has come and gone without significant incident.
Oh, and Dorothy drove down from Massachusetts to surprise us. We were very surprised and naturally also very pleased. After a little while at Margaret’s house, we all went to see Dot in her new location.
With the birth of Silas last week, there’s a natural tendency to take pictures of him. That’s fine, but I need to remember the older cousin, and I do that today with this picture of Kai with his mom. Every time we get together, and it’s not all that uncommon, he starts the encounter being a little apprehensive, as though he has no idea who I am. I don’t know if that’s really what’s going on, but that’s what it seems like. He didn’t take long today (and he usually doesn’t) to warm up again and give me some smiles, particularly when he’s in the safety of his mother’s arms. Actually, we think he maybe doesn’t recognize me until I’m holding my camera. That’s entirely possible.
David and Darius arrived last night, along with Darius’s cousin, Maggie. They are here this week to help finish dealing with the things in the house. It’s a big task and it’s going to be a grueling week. Cathy and I are going to be off work but I wouldn’t call it a vacation. That’s not to say there won’t be joy and gladness mixed in with the heavy lifting, dust, and debris. Darius, in particular, brings substantial joy. The youngest of Margaret’s grandchildren, he’s a sweet kid (don’t get me wrong, he’s still a boy who can get up to mischief) and it’s great to have him here. Of course, when it comes to the heavy lifting, dust, and debris, he’s not quite as helpful, and I’m really glad to have David and Maggie here.
Last week I posted a picture of Iris with one-day-old Silas. Today, at age 8 days, this is Silas with Seth. It was really good to get together with the family this evening. It’s been a hard week for a number of different reasons including the one-year anniversary of Ralph’s passing and the impending move that mom is making from her house of so many years. Nevertheless, Silas reminds us that there is also new life and we take great joy in that. He’s a beautiful little boy and his parents are rightly proud and already deeply in love with the little fellow.
Today was a mixed bag. We had a tough morning, thinking about Ralph on his birthday and missing him, especially with the birth of his second grandson on Thursday. This afternoon, though, we had a much needed distraction, visiting our dear friend, Karlee. She was nice enough to give up the better part of her afternoon to have a late lunch with these two old fogies. We talked about life, the universe, and everything and it was really good to get caught up. As we waited for our lunches, I took a very few photos of Karlee and Cathy.
While we were in the ER on Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, Iris and Seth also were sent to the hospital (but not the same hospital). After midnight, so early Thursday morning, Silas was born. Cathy and I went over at lunch time today and both of us got to hold him. I have to confess that I really love newborn babies. When I was young, they freaked me out a little, mostly because they are so small and fragile. After having one of our own, I think Cathy and I like them a lot more. Silas is an adorable little thing and we were happy to hold him. I realized after a while that my arms weren’t tired in the least. It won’t be long before holding him for any length of time is a chore but for now, at just over five pounds, it’s pure joy. I took a bunch of pictures, including some with Seth as well as some with grandma holding Silas. I got some of Cathy and she took some of me, also. But I really like this one of Iris. There’s every chance that there will be more photos of this little tyke in the weeks, months, and years to come.
I got to hold this sweet little girl, Kaia Michelle, this morning, while Kyle was preaching on James 3 and Ariana was sitting just outside the meeting room so the occasional crying wouldn’t be a distraction (the baby’s crying, that is, dad’s sermon was fine). She’s two and a half weeks old and her parents are understandably proud. She’s a beautiful little thing. After church we went outside and I took a few pictures. Getting good pictures of babies less than a month old is somewhat hit or miss. They don’t respond so you can’t really make them look at you. And when they get hungry, you might as well just stop (which is when we stopped). But I think I got a few that are pretty nice, including this one.
We had a wonderful time visiting Rosanne and Nick in their open garden today. I was looking through old photographs from previous visits. I lot has changed since our first visit in 2002, but a lot has remained the same, as well. With the somewhat odd spring we had this year, with cool weather late into April, which was fairly dry, followed by a lot of rain in mid-May, the early bloomers were still showing off. We usually don’t get to see some of them bloom and that was a treat. Of course, that means the later bloomers were still just in bud. But that’s the change you take. Either way, the garden was lovely. And Rosanne and Nick were their usual, charming, friendly selves.
As usual, I took lots of pictures of individual roses as well as some showing the garden more generally. It’s hard to pick one rose bloom that represents the garden, but if you are interested in rose ‘portraits’ I have a few.
Cathy and I were fortunate enough to be allowed to attend a very small but also very lovely wedding today. There were probably fewer than 60 people there on this potentially rainy afternoon (it was an outdoor wedding). As it turned out, although it rained a little while we were setting up, by the time most of the guests arrived it had stopped and held off the rest of the day. As you can see, the bride and groom (a.k.a. the Fairy Princess and the DM) were decked out in their finery.
In addition to enjoying the wedding itself and sharing the joy of the bride, the groom, and their families, I had a significant “it’s a small world” experience. I was chatting with Josh’s grandmother. I knew she was from England and that she had lived in or near Cambridge in the past. Well, it turns out she lived on the same street that my family and I lived on. She was married and moved out two years before we were there but her parents were still there. She would have visited them and we were almost certainly on the street at the same time, nearly fifty years ago.
Today was about 90°F but we had a bunch to do in the yard and we gave it a shot. I started by pulling Canadian thistle (Cirsium arvense), a really pesky weed. That requires gloves and it took me a while to find a pair, with all the disruption that’s happened to our garage. After clearing most of the thistle from the lily of the valley, I moved on to the fence along the south end of the back yard. That fence, a post and rail, is starting to reach end of life. Two posts are leaning badly and a few rails have broken. I pulled up three posts and took out the 12 rails associated with them. I cut them up (chainsaw) and loaded them into the van to get rid of.
This photo of Cathy was taken in the evening, as she was walking across the back yard towards me. She made faces for most of the pictures but then let me take a ‘normal’ shot, with built-in flash to help light up her face in the darkening day (taken around 7:50 PM).
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we went up to Pennsylvania this weekend with the rest of my family. George and Carmela came down from New Jersey and Brady from Virginia. The rest of us live relatively close but it was especially good to all be together (missing Dorothy, but college years are like that). Carmela wanted a picture with Kai and this is, I think, the best of those I took. Kai doesn’t have a great smile but I think it’s a good picture. After the near ninety degree heat we had on Thursday and Friday, it was a very welcome relief to have cool weather this weekend. And though we had a little rain, it didn’t really dampen our spirits.
The family traveled to Pennsylvania today. It’s always good to get everyone together but today was a mixture of joy and sadness. Joy because we were with family, outdoors on a cool day in May. Sad because we came to bury Albert’s ashes. We decided that it would be appropriate to bury them under this large tree, a North American white oak (Quercus alba, not to be confused with the English white or common oak, Q. robur). Based on its circumference, estimates of its age range from about 250 to over 300 years, although we’ve never had it actually dated with a core sample. We’ll just continue to assert it predates the American Revolution.
We used to have a tire swing on this tree and in the 1960s we camped near by in the field that later came to be called the Christmas Tree Field. It’s now difficult to see where the woods ended and the field began, as it’s all pretty much grown up with trees, although there is still a wood duck house on a tree that’s near what was the edge of the field. After we started camping in what is now the yard, we didn’t get over to the tree quite as often.
As for the name of the tree, that was given by some neighbors shortly after the death in 1981 of General Omar Bradley. There is, in some circles, a tradition of naming large oaks after generals and when one of the neighbors mentioned the name to dad, he liked it and it’s pretty much stuck. It’s all very unofficial, of course and this tree is just in the woods on our property, not in a park or other public place. Omar Bradley was the last of nine five-star officers in the US military, having been promoted to General of the Army in September, 1950. Only George Washington and John Pershing, Generals of the Armies (plural) have ranked higher than the nine five-star officers.
We continued working on Cathy’s mom’s house today, again with Maggie and Laura in town. We started by moving some things that were brought home yesterday into the garage. That’s where this picture of Laura was taken. It’s not the best picture but, as it turns out, it’s the only picture I took all day. So, that’s what you get.
In addition to some work at the house, Laura and I went to a self-storage location and rented a 10×10 foot storage unit. It may not be big enough but it’s a good start and we can always move up if necessary. Cathy and I will be out of town tomorrow and most of Sunday, when the girls leave, so they plan to begin the process of moving things to that. Not everything will go into storage, of course, and we’d like to limit it as much as possible. But there are things we know will take significant time to deal with and we don’t want that to hold up progress on the rest of the house emptying. Photographs, for instance, need to be gone through and that’s going to be a slow process, particularly the slides and even more particularly the overseas travel slides. So, get them out of the way and deal with them this fall.
We’ve been working on emptying out Cathy’s mom’s house and it’s a reasonably big job. They bought the house fifty years ago, so there are naturally a few things scattered about. The four ground floor bedrooms are mostly done (it’s a rambler but with a large basement). A few weeks ago we moved on to working on things in the basement. Between Cathy, our friend Julia, and me, we’ve made some good progress. Last night, two of Cathy’s nieces came and today they helped us make even more. Maggie and Laura are fun, of course, but this was no pleasure cruise. There were boxes to carry and papers to go through. And go through them we did. It was quite warm today, reaching nearly 90°F. Fortunately we were working mostly in the carport and there was a little breeze, so we weren’t too uncomfortable.
Cathy decided that her old doll house had served its purpose and it was time that it be recycled. It’s made entirely of cardboard, so that works out well. She wanted one last picture of it before it went into the van, though.
It’s always nice to have a home cooked meal. It’s especially nice when someone else does the cooking. Actually, while the food was wonderful, it was the one who cooked it that made the evening lovely. Theresa (a.k.a. Reeree) is a very dear friend and she was nice enough to have us over for a little R and R (which I will now take to mean Rest and Reeree). The conversation was wide ranging and there were, as you might imagine, a few laughs, some tears, and a lot of love. Thank you, dear friend.
I believe I’ve said before that this is one of my favorite events of the year. Oh, I enjoy Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and other holidays and special occasions. But none quite compare to Easter. We talked about ‘morning people’ this morning. I am one. Cathy, not so much. But we set the alarm for 5:00 AM and left by 5:30, getting to Fourth Presbyterian in time for the 6:00 AM sunrise service. Actually, the sun didn’t rise until after 6:50, when the service was over. It was pretty overcast, in any case, so you couldn’t really tell. We went inside for a lovely breakfast and then went to the regular 8:00 AM service, complete with orchestra and choir. As I write this, I can smell the leg of lamb that’s roasting and shortly will have potatoes in the oven to get crispy. So, I’m looking forward to one of my favorite meals. Happy Easter to all. He is risen!
We had a family dinner night this evening and it was a good time. I don’t want to say that Kai was the center of attention but, well, Kai was the center of attention. We’re expecting some competition for that attention sometime in early July (give or take a week or more). But for now, he’s it and he’ll still get plenty of attention after his cousin in born. He’s one and a quarter today. Apparently he’s been walking quite a bit, mostly at day care and not so much when family is around. Tonight he walked a few times and when he did, he got cheers. When he gets cheers, he cheers himself, and that’s what he’s doing here. He’s very (and rightly) proud of himself. It won’t be long before his parents are run off their feet trying to keep up with this little fellow. He’s quite adorable and so, we adore him.
We had a nice dinner, as well, with dumplings from Mama Dumpling (a.k.a. China Bistro) as well as other dishes. Good as always.
As mentioned yesterday, we are visiting Winchester, Virginia this weekend to do a little family history work. This time it doesn’t involve library work. Mostly we wanted to visit the battlefields of the Second and Third Battles of Winchester. Cathy’s great, great grandfather was taken prisoner on June 15, 1863 during the second battle. He spent some little while on Belle Isle in Richmond before being paroled. Today we were able to find the road he and his fellow soldiers were on when they ran into the main body of the Confederate Army.
After that we had a late lunch and then moved on to the battlefield for the Third Battle of Winchester, also known as the Battle of Opequon Creek. This avenue of trees, which would not have been there in 1864, runs through the middle of what is known as the Middle Field where some of the heaviest fighting took place. Cathy’s ancestor was, with the rest of his Pennsylvania Volunteer regiment, fighting in General Wright’s Sixth Corps in General Ricketts’s division. They were along the Berryville Road (now Virginia route 7) about a mile to the south of this point and what is now the site of the Winchester Gateway shopping center. We don’t know when or where in the course of the battle he was killed but sometime that day he died. He is, presumably, in one of the graves marked ‘Unknown Soldier’ in the National Cemetery in Winchester.
Here is a short description taken from CivilWar.org:
On September 19th , Sheridan advanced toward Winchester along the Berryville Pike with Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright’s Sixth Corps and Brig. Gen. William Emory’s Nineteenth Corps, crossing Opequon Creek east of town. The Union advance was delayed long enough for Early to concentrate his forces to meet the main assault, which continued for several hours. Casualties were very heavy.
We took a mini-vacation this weekend, driving out late Friday evening to Winchester, Virginia. We planned to spend tomorrow and possibly some of Sunday doing a little on-the-ground family history research. Cathy’s great, great grandfather was (we believe) captured during the second battle of Winchester and killed during the third. We hope to find a few significant locations for his regiment of Pennsylvania volunteers. Obviously, I’ll post pictures from tomorrow and Sunday when the time comes.
When we got to our hotel I hadn’t taken any pictures for the day so Cathy was nice enough to let me take a few of her. I like this one best.
As I mentioned yesterday, Dorothy is home for spring break and brought four friends with her. Today we drove out to our friends farm in the outskirts of Poolesville. The chicken’s are not really a featured attraction and visitors are not supposed to wander out into the field with the animals. One advantage of being friends with the owners, however, is a little more latitude when it comes to where we are allowed. The kids (and I’m counting Cathy among them) enjoyed catching chickens and putting them back inside the enclosure. Here are John, Cathy, and Grace, each with a chicken.
Dorothy came home for spring break and brought four of her friends with her. They arrived at about 5:00 PM and I got home a little after 6:00. I fixed a very non-standard shepherd’s pie for dinner, using chicken instead of the more traditional lamb or also quite common beef. There were meat eaters in the crowd but a few who were not eating red meat. Also, fresh shepherd is so hard to find this time of year. Cathy, as is her wont, sat on the floor and stretched. This is most everyone, gathered in the living room, joining in.
We’ve been going through things at Cathy’s mom’s. We’re getting rid of some things, either throwing away, recycling, or donating. We’ve also kept some things, of course. In the first pass, some things get kept to look at again later. That was the case for this Chinese dragon hat. We don’t know when it came into the house or whether it was given or bought.
It’s quite festive, although not really Cathy’s style. I’ll be posting pictures from time to time of things found. Some of them we’ll keep but probably not everything. Taking the things from two houses (hers and ours) it’s not like we can fit it all into one (ours). So, we have to part with things we might otherwise keep. I’ve also started going through my own things with an eye towards downsizing. The sooner the better. It’s amazing the amount of stuff you can accumulate over the course of a lifetime (and we’re not even done, yet (as far as we know).
With George and Carmela here for the weekend, it was a good time for a family dinner night. Not everyone could be there but those of us who were had a nice time with Indian food from Bombay Bistro. Not surprisingly, Kai was often the center of attention. Babies and toddlers have a way of doing that. He it poised to make the transition to toddler, as well. He took an unaided step this evening and we all clapped. He looked around, started clapping himself and then sat down. It is not, apparently, the first step he’s taken. It won’t be long before his parents are having to run after him. He’s as cute as ever and he enjoyed pieces of naan along with his teething biscuits. He also loves orange wedges, which great grandma brought out after the meal.
It was warm in the house this evening so he was without shirt, as you can see in the picture. His cheeks are rosy but he seemed quite happy, even if he looked uncomfortably warm.
We had a family dinner night at mom’s and, as usual, Kai was the star of the show. Seeing him every few weeks (or less often) means that he’s always changed significantly since the last time. That’s getting to be less and less true, of course, but it’s still clear. He was slow to warm up to the crowd this evening but eventually he did. he enjoyed the steamed dumplings from Mama Wok’s in Rockville and also the orange wedges that his great grandma brought out. He wasn’t terribly clever about sticking to the juicy bits and wasn’t happy when he bit into the peel instead. That’s how you learn, though.
This young woman, Julia by name, is a dear friend and all around wonderful gal. She came over yesterday and today to help us around the house. I didn’t get to see her yesterday or most of today (work, work, work) but she was here when I got home and she let us take her to dinner. Then and for a little while afterwards we got to chat and catch up on things. And she let me take a few pictures of her, so that’s what I’m posting for today. Thanks, Jules.
We haven’t had regularly schedule family dinner nights for a while, although we’ve seen each over over the holidays. Because Dorothy is about to go back to school for the spring semester, mom asked if we could get together before she was gone. She fixed both a pot roast and a vegetarian stew, both of which were terrific over mashed potatoes. Of course, the highlight of the evening was seeing each other and, as usual, this little fellow was often the center of attention.
He’s been quite expressive for a while now but it getting more and more so every time we see him. I won’t claim that he’s the cutest kid that’s ever lived, as that’s a pretty high bar but he certainly is cute. He’s a happy kid, as well, and getting this smile from him is fairly easy (although catching it on camera is a little harder). I also got some pictures of him with his dad, who was wearing a matching shirt, albeit without the tiger on it.
Cathy was nice enough to let me take a few pictures of her this evening. They were not anything special but it was nearly 10:30 and I hadn’t taken any pictures today. I asked Dorothy if I could take her picture but she’s not really all that fond of having her picture taken. I certainly understand that, feeling pretty much the same way myself, but of course, as the one taking the pictures, I’d prefer she be more agreeable. Nevertheless, I really do understand and sympathize. But Cathy was fine with it.
Between when this picture was taken and now, when I’m writing this four days later, Cathy’s had a hair cut. If you saw her without seeing this picture or without having seen her for a while, you might not notice. Her hair isn’t short at this point, but before the haircut it was, as you can see, pretty long.
On January first, 2004, Amy and Kevin had us over for what she described in the invitation as a low-key, relaxed, New Year’s day party. It lived up to its billing and with the exception of two rough years early this decade, we have had a suitably low-key repeat. Fondue is the traditional fare, with both beef and cheese pots going. This is the crew, except James, who hadn’t made it to the table yet. There was laughter as well as mourning, as we looked back on a year that called for both. We don’t kno, of course, what the year ahead holds, but with friends like these, who needs enemas.
I don’t really know how long she’s been doing it but my mom has had a New Year’s Eve party most years since I was in high school, at the very latest. That’s more than 40 years. A few years ago we moved midnight forward to 11:00 PM so that people could drive home before the really crazy, drunk folk were on the road. We had a nice time visiting with people we often see only once a year. This is Dorothy, Kendra, and Cathy, sitting in front of one of mom’s recent quilt creations. As for the fingers they are holding up, that’s for my benefit. Seven fingers for seven years of taking at least one picture a day. I’ve taken just over 149,000 photos over the course of 2,557 days, an average of a little over 58 per day.
Cathy and I took the day off today to do a bunch of work around the house. We did that last week and Jean came to help. We got a lot done then and today we followed up with more work along the same lines. Julia came and was a real boost. We were glad just to see her, of course, but the fact that she helped us get things done was a bonus. She’s also now a college graduate, which is pretty exciting. We made a run to the recycle center and trash transfer station and when we got back, I took a handful of pictures of her before she left.
As usual, we had a three-part Christmas this year. We started by opening our stockings and a few presents at home. Then we went to Cathy’s mom’s where we had our traditional breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage. We opened a few more presents there. At about 1:30 we (including Cathy’s mom) went to my mom’s. We had our equally traditional dinner of enchilada (plus lot of other food, of course). In the evening we played a game. This year we each submitted five of our favorite songs. George then compiled them and played a segment of each. The idea was to guess which songs went with which person. It was a three-way tie for first place with the winners getting 12 out of 14 correct.
Back in February I posted a picture of Lacey and Daniel when Daniel was three weeks old. He is now almost eleven months and he’s still as cute as ever. I happened to check on the nursery this morning at church and he was the only child there, being held by Christine whose own son has moved up to the Sunday School class with the other youngsters. Daniel’s older brother, Tim, also moved up and that, actually, is what he’s crying about. As long as he has his brother with him, he’s willing to have his mother leave him in the nursery. But when Tim leaves, as well, that’s too much to bear. Seeing a somewhat scary looking old may with a big, black thing that makes bright flashes of light didn’t help. He kept staring at me as I moved around and took a few pictures. Of course, he quieted down and was fine shortly. It’s been delightful to see this little one grow this first year and I’m looking forward to the next. It’s also delightful to see all the toddlers move up into Sunday School. All too soon they’ll be heading off to college.
We had our annual office holiday party today. It’s not really much like the holiday parties you see in movies or sitcoms. We have a buffet lunch and a beer or two (I don’t think I’ve ever gotten around to having a second beer, actually). There is a silent auction and a 50:50 raffle to raise money for a local charity (we raised over $1,800 this year). The Senior Vice President (and Study Area Director) over the group spoke for a little bit, introducing some folks who have joined the group since last year’s lunch. This is a picture of Troy, Kasia, Katie, and Ben, with whom I’ve worked for quite a few years.
I only took a few pictures today but I think this one turned out nicely. That’s Cathy, obviously (and in case the title of the post didn’t make it clear). This is a pretty casual photo. Cathy was reading on the sofa in the living room and I was on the other sofa and asked if I could take her picture. The camera was set wrong for the first one. I had the exposure set to manual at 1.3 seconds at f/18 from last night when I was taking pictures of Christmas lights. That picture would have been good otherwise, but the motion kind of messed it up. This one is good, too, properly exposed and without the motion-induced blur of the first one. I think it’s nice and she certainly looks relaxed.
In a little over a week (on December 18, to be precise) we will have been married for a third of a century. I don’t suppose 33 years, 4 months is a generally recognized milestone but perhaps it should be. It’s a while, anyway, and I think we’ve done pretty well.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we had our Thanksgiving meal today instead of the more traditional Thursday. Iris had to work briefly in the morning but she was at mom’s before I got there at about half past noon. Our meal was the traditional turkey and all the fixings but of course, the real feast is being with family. I’ve decided to post two pictures from today, one as we were sitting down to eat. clockwise from far left: Steve, Danna, George, Carmela, Margaret, Dot, Cathy, Dorothy, Tsai-Hong, Iris, Seth, Maya, and Kaien
After dinner we sat and talked and occasionally laughed. Steve showed off the leather armor he has made for his live action roll playing (LARP) and I got some good pictures of both him and Carmela dressed in it. We also took family portraits, both with my camera and with mom’s. This is one of mine. Front, from left to right: Carmela, George (with Chester), Margaret, Cathy, Tsai-Hong holding Kaien, Steve, and Henry. Back, also left to right: Iris, Seth holding Bean, Dot, Dorothy, Maya, and Danna
It was a beautiful if somewhat chilly day (but not unseasonably chilly) and I wanted to get outdoors for at least a little while. I went for a drive, first stopping to take some pictures in the neighborhood of trees still holding onto their leaves. Oaks are like that. Then I drove up Georgia Avenue through Olney and Brookeville and turned left onto Brookeville Road. I stopped to take a few pictures of the Oakley Cabin. This cabin is one of three that once stood here in what “was once the center of an African American roadside community from emancipation into the early 20th century. The dwelling, inhabited until 1976, is now operated as a living history museum by M-NCPPC, Department of Parks, Montgomery County.”
It’s Cathy’s birthday today. She hasn’t been feeling well and I knew she would not agree to inviting people over today. Also, because of the construction (well, mostly because of that) out house is, shall we say, even more disorganized than usual. But for her birthday, I wanted to christen the fire pit that I bought her and wanted to do that with some of her best friends. So, I invited them without asking. At about 5:30, Jean and Lexi walked in the front door and called out, ȁHello, anyone home?” About a half hour later, Amy arrived. Then Julia, followed by Yvette. Maureen also came, although not until after this picture was taken. Cathy agreed that she would have said “no” but that she was glad they all came. And the fire pit was a hit.
At our old house we had 6 oak trees all more than two feet in diameter and four more than three feet. We had a ridiculous amount of leaves to get up. To make matters worse, as anyone with oaks knows, they are among the later trees to drop their leaves. Usually the leaves would not all be down before Christmas and we often had to rake into January. A few years we rented a leaf vacuum and that actually was pretty useful but it would go once across the yard and I’d have to empty it. Still, it took less time than raking, which is what we did most years.
At this house we have two large oaks in the front (there was a third but it’s gone now and never had a lot of leaves while we lived here). In the back are two smaller maples, which I think I’ve mentioned before. The easiest way to get rid of the leaves is to run over them with the lawn mower. That would never have worked at the old house (too many of them) but here, as long as we don’t let it get too bad, it works quite well. This is Cathy, mulching up the leaves, and pretending to run me down. This, believe it or not, is Cathy trying to look fierce.
We had a family dinner night today and it was great (as always) to see Kai (and the others, of course). Every time we see him, and it’s only been two weeks, he’s doing more and becoming more and more his own person with his own reactions and mannerisms. This evening he was in a good mood, as well, which is always a bonus.
We had Chinese carry-out and he had spaghetti squash and some other mushy something. Then he played on the floor for a while and of course he was held by many. He’s gotten old and sturdy enough to ride on his dad’s shoulders and as you can see, he’s enjoying it.
This is officially my 2,500 photo in my increasingly ill-named “Project 365.” Unofficially, I’m actually at 2,503 consecutive days with a photo, because I took pictures December 29, 30, and 31 in 2010, before starting my Project 365 on January 1, 2011. This is photo number 148,044 on this camera. I’m nearing the 150 thousand mark and expect to get there shortly before the end of the year.
Back in the day (like the mid 1980s) Cathy and I came across a cartoon by Ed Koren that struck a chord with us. It’s a picture of two people, husband and wife, apparently, greeting a woman walking a dog. The husband and wife are wearing typical business clothes except they are both wearing outlandish hats. His has big ears and horns, hers is huge with fruit all over it. The man in speaking and says, “We try to set aside a little time for silliness.”
Those of you who know us very well know that we have taken that to heart and we, like the couple in the cartoon, set aside a little time for silliness. This picture is Cathy being just a little silly. When I got home from work she was out in the back garden pulling weeds. I asked if I could take her picture and this is what she did.
This is Cathy’s Isadora Duncan pose.
Ed Koren’s web site is here: http://www.edwardkoren.com/.
She goes by many names around the world. This woman of mystery, who we simply call Laura, is quite an enigma (although possibly not a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma). Who is she? Where is she from? No one seems to know for sure.
All seriousness aside, though, it was really nice having her here for a day. I fixed dinner for us all this evening, having crab cakes from G&M in Linthicum Heights in the suburbs of Baltimore. I also fixed mashed sweet potatoes, which were a big hit. For dessert, we all took a few bites of a heart cake that Laura bought for her grandma, also at G&M.
Our niece and Margaret’s granddaughter Laura came for a short visit today. We picked her up at the airport and then got Margaret before going out to dinner. I took a few pictures at the restaurant (and I’m sure annoyed the other patrons with my flash). I’ve already posted a picture taken on my phone on Facebook but because I’m behind here, this will end up showing up later. That’s the way it goes. Anyway, it was great having Laura here for a little while, even if she can’t stand being with us for as much as 48 hours.
We had a short walk on the C&O Canal today, out near Riley’s Lock and the Seneca Quarry and the associated stone cutting mill dating from the late 1860s. From there we went to Rocklands Farm and had a nice if somewhat early pizza dinner (or was it a very late lunch, I’m not sure). After that we met with good friends David and Erin. It was so good to visit with them and talk through some things that are going on in our lives.
They have five lovely children and the youngest two of them were with us. As most people who have been around children for any length of time can tell you, although siblings often share significant characteristics, they can also vary quite a bit from one to the next. Erin and David can certainly tell you something about that, as theirs have run the gamut (although they are all very precious and wonderful in their own right). This is Anna-Gabrielle, child number four and she certainly has the family look about her. Nevertheless, she is definitely her own person. Don’t let this photo fool you into thinking she sat quietly while her parents visited with those two old folks. She’s on the go, but she was willing to give me a 1/200th of a second. I’m looking forward to seeing her and her siblings grow up and I am so glad to have them back in the area for at least a while.
With all the hoo-ha about Civil War statues, it is sometimes easy to forget that these were people. William D. Scott was a member of Company D, 14th Virginia Cavalry. He was wounded in action against Union forces and subsequently died. He was buried in a churchyard in Montgomery County, Maryland. His grave is not in the cemetery but on the other side of the building. He is believed to be the only Confederate soldier who was killed in action and is buried in a marked grave in the county.
I don’t know how William felt about slavery, whether he was fighting for what he saw as state’s rights, or if he was simply pressed into service. Regardless, he was a young man, killed in war. He likely had parents, siblings and possibly even a wife and children. People die in war but if you think he deserved to die, then I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree. May God have mercy on him.
Cathy and I went out to dinner with her mom, Margaret, this evening. It isn’t every day that you have a 91st birthday. In fact, a lot of people never have it even once. But she did, so we celebrated. We went to a newish seafood place and had a nice meal. After that we went to York Castle for ice cream. Not the biggest birthday bash in history, but it was relaxing and we had a nice visit. We talked about upcoming transitions and things seem to be beginning to move along those lines (more information on that to come as it happens). In case you’re wondering, Margaret had blacked mahi-mahi (a.k.a., the common dolphin fish, Coryphaena hippurus) and Cathy had stuffed flounder (most likely something in the Paralichthys genus). I had cod (Gadus morhua), oysters, and shrimp.
We went to a soup pot-luck this evening and had some really good food. I tried a new recipe for a Thai chicken and coconut milk soup and if I say so myself, it turned out really well. Some would call that cultural appropriation, I know. What I call it is the sincerest form of flattery. I’ve had very few Thai dishes that I didn’t like (if any, I don’t actually remember having any that I didn’t like). The other soups were also delicious and I was particularly fond of the collard greens and black-eyed peas with Italian sausage. As a kid that would not have appealed to me. As an adult, that’s comfort food of the highest order.
As is so often the case, I had my camera. This picture is of Kofi, a friend and fellow church member. I can’t say I know him as well as I’d like but we’ve started getting to know each other a little better recently. Friendships are always journeys and we never really arrive but the joy, as they say, is in the journey.
The last time we saw Kai (see Saturday, September 2, 2017) he was mostly fussy and slept much of the time he was here. We had a family dinner this evening and today he was in a much happier mood. He’s also progressed a bit from crawling to standing. He still needs to hold on, of course, but he’s not nine months old quite yet, so I think he’s doing very well. Often when I put the camera up to take a picture, if he notices me at all, he just stares blankly at me. I was happy to get a few with him looking at me and also smiling. The joke, of course, is that he’s not going to recognize me because he only sees me with a camera between us and he doesn’t actually know what I look like. It’s mostly a joke, anyway.
We went with Cathy’s mom to the Fourth Presbyterian picnic today at Rocklands Farm. We haven’t gone to Fourth for over 25 years but we still know a lot of people there and of course we know the Rocklands folks, so we had a wonderful time visiting with old friends. I took a bunch of pictures but I have to admit I took more of Janis and Greg’s grandchildren than all the other pictures combined. They’re all just so darned cute. Here are two cousins, Elsie on the left and Marit on the right, ‘driving’ the gator (actually it’s a Kubota, but their previous one was a John Deere and the name is a holdover from that). These two are clearly chums and I’m really happy that Marit and her family are back in the USA for the foreseeable future. Anyway, this picture makes me happy.
We babysat Kai for a few hours today and naturally I took a few pictures. Actually, he slept or was mostly quiet in his crib for most of the time we had him. He didn’t fall asleep for about 20 minutes but was actually not very fussy during that time. After he woke up again we played with him a little and that’s when I took pictures. He was less happy for most of that time than he had been when left alone in his crib. Cathy had him somewhat interested in a few books but the pictures I took were not of a happy boy.
Then his mom came to the door. That’s when I snapped this one. Yes, the happy view we present on social media is often that one moment of joy in an otherwise bleak, joyless day (his, not ours, we were happy just to be in the same room as this beautiful little boy, even when he was sleeping). Enjoy this picture for what it is, a joyous smile on a cute little fellow. But don’t be taken in by the visions of perfection you see on Facebook, Instagram, and other such sites. They are often not a reflection of reality.
Cathy and I relaxed in the back yard this evening and I took a few pictures of her with the black-eyed Susans that are having the time of their lives this year. Actually, this year is nothing special, as they are pretty spectacular every year. In fact, I’m not convinced we wouldn’t have the entire yard full of them if we allowed them to spread uncontrolled. The goose-necked loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) would give them a good fight and might actually win out, as it spreads considerably more quickly. But the black-eye susans (Rudbeckia fulgida) spreads fairly readily.
You could argue that our garden doesn’t have enough variety and you might have a point. On the other hand, the parts of the garden that do have variety tend ultimately to be dominated by whatever plant is the most vigorous. Either that or nothing is vigorous enough and the weeds take over. I have plenty of Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), American burnweed (Erechtites hieracifolia), and goldenrod (Solidago species) to deal with (just to name a few). But where the black-eye susans are growing well, very few weeds have a chance to get started. That’s pretty nice. And, they’re pretty.
Kyle is a pastoral intern at our church’s mother church and he came to preach today, covering the fairly well known story of Daniel during the reign of Darius the Persian. Kyle’s message was good and it was also wonderful to meet his new bride, Ariana. After church, as we do the first Sunday of most months, we had a fellowship meal together. The weather was so wonderful we went outside and ate in the shade of the large trees around the Senior Center. After the long drive yesterday, this was a relatively relaxing way to spend the early afternoon. Certainly more relaxing than Daniel’s day with the lions (spoiler alert…that turned out alright, as well).
We drove home from the beach today. The relatively long drive home is not one of the best aspect of a week off work, but it sort of has to be done and it can’t really be done any time except at the end. Today’s drive was broken up into two segments, each of about 250 miles with a family reunion in between. That did make for a longish day but seeing cousins (first and second as well as variously removed) makes it worth while. I had a really good time visiting and as usual, took a few pictures. Lyn organized a short time of group pictures today. Not as many groupings as we’ve done at times but he did manage to get everyone in the room together for a large group photo (although a few folks had left by then, so they didn’t get included). I can name most, although not quite all of the folks in this picture without any help. And I’m working on learning the last few. Special thanks to the cousins who organized this get-together.
Most kids love the beach. Of course, kids under a certain age are generally not really up on the joys of playing in the surf or digging in the sand. Kai is only seven months old and he isn’t really well versed in the joys of childhood yet. Or, perhaps I should say the joys of his childhood are, at this point, fairly simple. He went out onto the beach (okay, he was taken out onto the beach) this afternoon and was dressed for the sun. The goggles were a bit much and they came off fairly quickly but I think they suit him. He sat on the sand with his feet in a hole with a little water in it and wasn’t entirely displeased. He didn’t particularly like being splashed, although there was no real danger of him getting into any trouble. It won’t be long until he’s mobile and then the fun begins for his parents. “Wait, he was here a second ago, where did he go?”
I’ve already posted the picture of a grasshopper for July 25 and a picture of Madagascar periwinkle to the 26th but I realized that I also meant to post this picture from July 25. After work, Dorothy, Jonathan, and I drove down to Silver Spring and met Juan, Joanna, and Liam at Denizens Brewing Co. on East-West Highway, nearly across the street from the old Gramax building, where I worked for about three years back in the early 1980s. It used to be leased by the National Weather Service and I worked as a contractor there. Anyway, we had a nice time eating, drinking, and talking and it was very good to be together.
Cathy plants annuals in pots for our back patio each year. Every year, however, they are needed less and less as a primary focus and more as accents under the increasingly dense wall of black-eyed Susans that grown around the perimeter. Many of the flower pictures that I take are of a a single flower or at most a few together. It’s good, from time to time, to see the bigger picture (so to speak) and look at the forest instead of the trees. Adding Cathy to the picture can’t hurt, either.
We had the memorial gathering for Ralph today at our house and it was wonderful and sad and good and difficult and fun and exhausting. We had (at best count) 108 people in our house between 2:00 and 6:00 PM (but not quite that many at any given time). That’s a pretty good crowd and it was really nice to meet some of the folks Ralph worked with and even more of the folks he caved with. We could not have done it without the selfless help of a few really good friends and these two were amazing. They had never met before today but I was sure they were going to hit it off. They did and it wasn’t long before they were tag-team teasing me. Thanks to all who helped and to all who came to remember Ralph, brother, son, father, grandfather, caver, robotics vision expert, and all around nice guy.
It’s funny to me how differently people, especially kids, react to having their picture taken. Some duck for cover, some turn their faces away, and some practically beg for more. This little sweetheart is one of the beg-for-more types. Her siblings all like having their pictures taken, too, but this one more than the others put together, I think. Anyway, she’s a very sweet girl and I’m happy to take her picture any chance I get.
I took quite a few pictures of her and her sister and brothers, as well as the other children who were there today. In many of them Addy is making faces and I considered posting one of those. Actually, I suspect she will be disappointed that I haven’t posted one of them. But I love this one that shows her how she normally looks (although from a fairly close vantage point). I’ll share the others with her parents so she’ll be able to see them. Hopefully that will make her happy.
Thanks to Andy and Kelly for having us over with a few other friends this morning. It was a nice way to celebrate the original Brexit (circa 1776). Also, I took a couple pictures of the baby robins but they didn’t turn out too well. Not as well as Kelly’s taken with her phone, in fact.
We were happy to be able to attend this year’s Erick’s Hope dinner and also happy to see a few friends that we don’t see often enough. This beautiful couple were high on the list. There are a few people who epitomize who I’d like to be or what I’d like to be like when I grow up (assuming it’s not too late for me to actually grow up, of course). These two, either one, are on that list. There are others, of course, but they all have some things in common. A genuine care for others is one thing. Also, natural grace and style (which is hard to learn, being natural, of course). Anyway, Sue and Gordy, I think you’re the cat’s whiskers.
This post is also a modest plug for Erick’s Hope. If you have any interest in working with a small non-profit to help children, you could do a lot worse than throw a little money their way (OK, better to actually talk with them and find out what they are up to, but you get the drift). They can be reached through their web site, http://www.erickshope.org/.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I were privileged to be allowed to witness the wedding of our good friend, Ellen. She married this guy Dan, who, by all accounts, is a pretty nice guy. He better be, that’s all I can say. Seriously, though, we hear good things about him and Ellen has her head screwed on pretty well, so I’ll take her word for it. The wedding was very pretty and we were glad to see Ellen so joyful. As you can see (and this will come as no surprise to anyone who knows her, she was a beautiful bride.
I was going to post just the one picture from the wedding but then decided I liked this second one, also, taken at the reception. Ellen is the middle of three girls and this is a picture of the three of them, Hannah, Ellen, and Katie. Our two families have known each other for nearly 20 years. It’s been a pleasure to see the three of them grow up into the beautiful young women you can see here.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while you might remember that we traveled to England with Ellen and her family from August 5 to 19, 2013. That was a fun trip and timed very well in terms of the four girls (these three plus Dorothy), just before Ellen went off to college and life got more complicated.
We wish Dan and Ellen every happiness, of course, and hope to be able to keep in touch in the years ahead.
Ben asked me this morning if I’d like to go with him to Baltimore to watch Will’s baseball game. They are playing in a tournament and the game was at the Johns Hopkins Babb Field at Stromberg Stadium (at the corner of West Universith Parkway and North Charles Street. They had, unfortunately, lost the first game and we got there shortly before the second game started. Will played a pretty good game, with two base hits on three at bats, scoring both times for two of the team’s three runs. This is his second hit. Unfortunately they couldn’t hold the other team and ended up losing six to three, but it was a pretty good game and it was nice to be out and about (even though it was a little warm).
It’s been a long couple days and we’re slowly beginning the process of recovering from Wednesday. Yesterday we spent much of the day with family. Today we just hung out at home most of the day but had everyone over in the evening. In the normal course of things I would have gone out to take pictures in the yard but I just didn’t feel up to it today.
We had Indian food from Bombay Bistro this evening and were together again, doing not much of anything in particular. Of course we played ‘pass the baby,’ as we do in these situations. And I took pictures.
This isn’t the best picture of Kai that I’ve taken but it’s good enough. It’s about time I got a good one of him with his dad (and I think it’s quite a good picture of Steve). There are others, of course, including pictures of the dogs, but it’s Kai-week, so here you are. I’m not saying that there won’t be pictures of Kai again coming soon, although I think tomorrow will be something else. But you never know. And I’ll get back to flowers (or better yet, insects) soon.
If you don’t like baby pictures then I suggest you look away. There may be a few of them over the next few days. After yesterday, you won’t be surprised to learn that we’ve spent a little time with family. Spending time with family generally leads to pictures of Kai. So, you shouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow’s picture is of him, too.
He’s a cute little beggar and getting cuter at a ferocious pace. He’s also making progress towards talking and crawling. On the other hand, he’s so often in someone’s arms I don’t know how he’s ever going to learn to crawl. But he will, I suspect, and then life will get more complicated for his parents (and all of us when they come over).
Ralph L. Hartley
June 10, 1958 – June 14, 2017
Life can be hard and I’m not really sure what to say about this picture. As I get older I find, not surprisingly, I suppose, that there are fewer and fewer people that have known me all my life. My parents, of course, knew me when I was first born. My grandparents, aunts, and uncles, basically, as well. But my dad is gone and so are my grandparents and many of my aunts and uncles. And now my older brother, Ralph. He was only 18 months old when I was born, but he has been there since my beginning and I have known him my entire life. Being so close together in age, we did a lot of things together, especially as kids. We fought, of course, but we played, as well. The family traveled a bunch, going out west and back a few times when we were young. Then in 1971 we moved to England, camping through much of Europe on the way. Ralph and I went to the Cambridge Grammar School for Boys that year. We explored castles and designed our own. We took another trip out west when Ralph and I were in high school, hiking down the Grand Canyon. We went to Greece for eight weeks in 1981, camping almost the whole time. Ralph only stayed for half of that but it was a really good time (and boy, did he have hair then!).
It was about that time that he met Tsai-Hong. They were married in 1982 and have had a wonderful marriage and two amazing children, now both married. In December of last year their grandson Kai was born. Late in 2015 it was clear that Ralph was ill. In January, 2016 he was diagnosed with lymphoma. In January of this year he had a bone marrow transplant and although the transplant was successful, the cancer was still there. They decided to do some traveling and went on a cruise in the Galapagos and another in southeast Alaska. Ralph was an avid and experienced caver and he took five of us into a ‘starter cave’ in West Virginia a few short weeks ago (see Saturday, May 06, 2017).
We all knew it was only a matter of time before he was gone but it came much more quickly than any of us expected. My mom called me early this afternoon to say that Ralph’s breathing had become labored and that I should come over. He was able to hold his precious grandson one last time before he left us, and that was so sweet.
We disagreed on many things and we fought from time to time (sometimes, particularly as kids, physically). But Ralph was the first friend I had and for most of my early life, my best friend. Some of the memories we shared were shared by no one else. I’m amazed by how rich I am in terms of friends and family. Richer than I could ever possibly expect or deserve. But, to quote something I read once, “the cultural memory of our little family has been dealt a terrible blow…. In what seems like the blink of an eye, whole volumes of institutional memory have simply vanished. And that is a terribly lonely thought, that no amount of company and condolence can ease or erase.”
UPDATE: I’ve fixed a few typos, including two years, which were wrong.
These guys, Steve, David, and Juan, (plus me and a few others from time to time) have been meeting regularly for over a year and a half (since October, 2015, I just looked it up in my journal). Mostly we meet at the church office but now and then we go out for dinner. This evening was such a time and we mat at the Old Town Pour House in Downtown Crown. The food was quite good, although I’d say it was overpriced. I had a duck Reuben and it was really tasty but $14 for a sandwich? Really? The beer was good and there is a pretty broad selection to choose from. I went with a beer called Bivalve Saison brewed by Evolution Craft Brewing Company of Salisbury, Maryland. Nice. As usual, we talked about life. That can keep us busy for a while, as you might guess.
We went up to the Farm today and everyone was there, which was great. I took what some might consider a lot of pictures and baby Kai was in his fair share of them. There are a bunch of Kai with grandpa Ralph and that’s what we have here. It isn’t the best angle for seeing their faces but if I went to one side or the other I’d get the back of one head. I got a bunch that I think are good but decided to go with this one, which I like pretty well.
Look who we had breakfast with this morning! If you know who these people are, then I suspect you’re jealous. If you don’t know who they are then you want to. Well, you may not know that you want to but you do.
It’s hard to believe how much Brandon has grown since we saw him last, which was about two years ago (two days short of two years, to be precise). He was very good to sit with us as we talked with his mom for over an hour (closer to two). We did talk to him a little and when I asked what his favorite classes are in school he said math, science, and history. Actually, he named all his classes except English. And he likes to read, so that’s not so far behind. When I asked what he likes to read, he said fiction and non-fiction. Well, that just about covers it.
Kristine caught us up on the goings on with Brandon’s four older sisters. Never a dull moment for Kristine and Bill. Sorry, Bill, that it’s been so long since we’ve seen you. We’d love to have breakfast with you, if you ever came to town. Just let us know. And of course we caught Kristine up on what’s happening with us. We could have talked for hours more but I did have to get to work (what a hassle!). Maybe Cathy and I can go visit them sometime, before too long.
We had the pleasure of baby sitting this little munchkin this evening while his parents went to a movie. Kaien (pronounced like Ryan with a K instead of an R, or simply Kai) is just over 5 months old now and really is starting to show a personality. He smiles a lot and thankfully is pretty easily distracted if he starts to fuss.
He slept for about an hour of the time we had him and then had a bottle, which was also pretty easy. After that we enjoyed singing to him. He especially loved Old MacDonald Had A Farm, especially the animal sounds that Cathy made. She sang quite a few verses, including some with animals that are not generally considered farm animals (do any farmers keep lions?). We also sang some songs by the Limeliters. Interestingly, their album Through Children’s Eyes was one that Cathy and I both listened to as children, so we both know the songs on it. Anyway, we sang a few songs from that. He mostly just stared at us throughout.
I enjoyed taking pictures of these two having fun in the kitchen this evening. Grace did most of the flipping. They both did a lot of laughing. Grace posted a picture similar to this shortly after I got it off my camera and shared it with her. I’m a little late getting to it but I also have taken the time to make a few changes. First, I cropped the image a bit. Second, I replaced the image of Emily with one from a different picture that I think is better (her eyes are open, for instance). Getting the timing right so I could get the pancake in the air was the trickiest part, of course. It was much easier after she got more height on them, as in this image.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we drove to West Virginia and spent the night at the PSC Field House in the North Form Mountain area. We got a reasonable night’s sleep and after a hearty breakfast, six of us headed off the Hamilton Cave. Ralph and Stephen are both experienced cavers but the rest of us were beginners. We’ve all been in the big, commercial caverns like Luray or Carlsbad (although I’d really like to see Carl’s Good cavern!). I’ve been in a reasonable number of caves in the USA, France, England, Greece, and Slovakia (although it was Czechoslovakia at the time). But this was the first time in a cave such as this. Hamilton cave has a pretty good maze of passages and I’m certainly glad we had two people who knew their way around.
After checking in at The Register, we made our way to our first goal, the Slab Room. This is named for the large slab of rock that fell in the distant past (well, probably recent in geologic terms, but it was more than a few years ago). Getting here involved passages where we had to crawl on all fours and a couple stretches where I had to take off my small day pack and push it in front of me while I slithered along on my front in what I know as an army crawl. You know the one, where you are lying prone and you pull yourself along with your elbow and push with your knees. It can be fairly tiring, especially for someone carrying extra weight and with not-terribly-strong arms. But we all made it through. There were other places where we could walk upright and they were very welcome, I can tell you.
There was an even tighter spot than those the required an army crawl. There is one place where the passage gets fairly narrow between two smooth, nearly vertical rocks. They are closest together at just the wrong height from the ground for someone about my height and with a larger than necessary midsection. If you know what i mean.
It was not quite Winnie-the-Pooh in Rabbit’s Hole but it was tight. Fortunately they didn’t hang dish towels on my legs. Getting through that required getting up on my toes so my largest part was a little higher than the tightest part, and then getting a bit of a push from Stephen. The second picture here is further into the cave than that tightish bit. It shows Seth sitting in a fairly large room as the others made their way up behind him. The last picture was actually taken between the other two. I don’t often take selfies but I thought in this case I would. So, that’s me in my caving gear. Looks as though I’ve been crawling in the dirt, doesn’t it?
As you can probably guess by the fact that I’m posting this, I made it out. We all had a good time and were certainly glad we went. I will confess to being glad to see the sunlight again and to be able to stand up without worrying about hitting my head on a rock.
When anyone advertises anything as the ‘first annual’ whatever, you have to admire their optimism. I mean, anyone can have a ‘first annual’ anything but following that with a ‘second annual’ is the tricky bit. That’s not to say things just happen after that, but doing something twice on the same day of the year is a real milestone (or is it a millstone?). The National Day of Prayer, established in 1952 to be held on the first Thursday in May, was the occasion of the second annual Montgomery County Prayer Breakfast with over 100 in attendance. Many thanks to Paul and Janet for their efforts to get this going and for enlisting sponsors to cover the costs.
A wedding is a big deal. A wedding for people you know and love is a bigger deal. That being the case, I don’t feel like I need to restrict myself to one picture of Hannah and Drew. The picture I posted yesterday was before the rehearsal, as they were sitting in a hallway waiting for everyone to get organized. Actually, the wedding coordinator was pretty phenomenal, from what I could tell, and had things under control but even at the best of times, there are a lot of moving parts and they all need to move in harmony. With her help, along with a cast of thousands (well, over a dozen, anyway), things went about as smoothly as they can be expected to go.
The first picture here is from the wedding, as you can probably tell. At this point, Hannah and Drew are married and have turned to face their family and friends as the pastor introduces them for the first time as husband and wife. The second picture was taken during the rather lengthy photo session that followed the ceremony. I didn’t take a lot while that was happening, because the official photographers had it under control but this was a nice lineup of the wedding party and I couldn’t resist taking a few. Hannah and Drew, I meant what I told you that evening. If there is ever anything you need and it’s in my power to give it, you only have to ask.
As many of you know, Cathy and I few up to Boston this morning. I took my first Uber ride from Logan Airport and we met up with Dorothy. At about 1:30 we headed up to New Hampshire for the rehearsal for Hannah and Drew’s wedding, which is tomorrow. Cathy and I were not actually involved in the wedding, beyond providing one of the bridesmaids. We got a call, though, asking if I could take a few pictures at the rehearsal. Of course I was only too happy to do so. This is one of the first pictures I got after arriving at the church and I’m pretty happy with it. Preparations for a wedding can be somewhat stressful but they were (mostly) relaxed and everyone was in a good mood.
The pink dogwood is out and we’re about to enter the most floriferous time of the year. The dogwoods are probably at or just past their peak. Likewise the redbuds. The azaleas are just starting and will be in full bloom soon, which is a pretty spectacular time in our area. The azaleas are followed within a few weeks by some of the early roses, some of which continue to bloom throughout the summer.
I took some pictures of the yard this afternoon. First I got some overall shots showing shrubs, trees, grass, etc. Then I took some close up shots of a phlox plant that is blooming along the back of the yard. The dogwood that Cathy is standing next to in this photo is in the front, too close to the house, really but it’s such a beautiful tree when it’s in bloom that I’m loath to take it out. I tried planting a tall camellia under it that I could cut it out in favor of, but that was just before two very cold winters and it died. I should probably try again. But, for now, we’re enjoying it.
I realize that I’m more than a week behind in posting this. It’s been a busy time and I’ll try to get caught up shortly. Easter sunrise services are one of my favorite events. It’s partly a function of how much I appreciate Easter. To me it’s much more important than Christmas. I realize you cannot have Easter without having had Christmas but without Easter, Christmas would be meaningless. Easter also has some wonderful music associated with it and we aren’t overwhelmed with non-Easter, seasonal music as we are for Christmas.
Pictures of smiling, happy babies are great, of course, but there’s something about a baby making a less peaceful expression that I really love. I’m not saying I want babies to cry and of course I try to make them happy when they do. But crying happens. It’s a fact of life.
The family we here for dinner this evening and I took a bunch of pictures and a few short videos. Kaien was in a good mood most of the evening and he’s a pretty easy going little boy. Later on he was getting tired or hungry or something and was a little less happy and that’s when I took this one. I wish I had been a bit farther away or had a shorter lens on the camera so I could have gotten his whole head in the frame. He was wiggling about and my tracking was a little behind. I caught the expression, though, and I think that’s the main thing. You get what you can when you can. I certainly didn’t have time to go rummaging through my camera bag. I love this look.
I took another boatload of pictures at the play this evening. Most of those won’t mean much unless you where there and if you were there, then you already saw it. Also, unless I posted the entire cast again, I’d have to pick a picture of one or two people and leave out all the rest. Well, I guess that’s what I’ve done but instead of going with a picture of students, I decided to post this one of Becky, the fearless director of the WCA play. If you’ve ever been involved in high school drama (as if you had to put on a play to get drama in high school!) then you know how much work it is. Imagine doing that with a toddler in tow. But she pulled it off, with the help of a wonderful assistant director, student assistant director, and a host of others. Well done.
We gathered for a family dinner this evening and as usual since late December, the star of the show was Kaien, now a little over three months old. Most everyone got a chance to hold him and he’s so good-natured that it was a nice time. There are other things going on, of course, and if you know then you know. If you don’t know I won’t bother you with it. Suffice it to say that it was a bittersweet gathering but one I’m glad we had. We’ll be doing that as much as we can for as long as we can. Anyway, here’s grandma with her precious little one.
This evening We met up with our good friend Jean and her two beautiful daughters, Lexi and Maria. We only live across the river from each other but getting together seems to get harder rather than easier. The evening rush hour is not the best time to cross the Potomac but we did and had a wonderful time chatting and laughing. Talk ranged from the serious to the silly, as it does when you’re with good friends. It’s hard to believe these two girls are so grown up, but it’s true. Sadly, Dorothy wasn’t able to be with us, but we’ll get together again when she’s home this summer.
She hates to have her picture taken and I doubt she’ll like this one any more than others I’ve taken over the years but this young woman has been a real blessing to our family and it was really nice to see her this morning. She and a friend came to help with music and worship at church this morning and I took a few pictures (yes, during church, it happens). I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as to say that Dorothy wouldn’t do any singing without the influence of Christy but I do think that influence was real and important. She pushed Dorothy well out of her comfort zone and it’s really paid dividends since. Even without that, Christy is a lovely young woman, sweet and loving to everyone she meets (at least as far as I know and I’d appreciate it if no one shows me otherwise). She also has a really pretty voice. Just sayin’.
We got together for a family dinner this evening at Iris and Seth’s apartment. George and Carmela had talked about being there but in the end they couldn’t because they had important matters of a canine variety to take care of. Specifically, they were picking up their new, one-year-old dachshund, Chester. But it was a fun time visiting with family, enjoying a wonderfully prepared meal, and of course, passing the baby around. I don’t think everyone had a chance to hold him but most did. We also took a few pictures (really?) and I’m particularly glad we got this one of four generations, from oldest to youngest Dot, Ralph, Stephen, and Kaien.
It’s that time of year again. Way back in November I ran into the kindergarten teacher from Dorothy’s old school and she asked me if I was up for coming to her class in February as Abe Lincoln. As you can probably guess from the accompanying photo, I said yes. This was taken as I got to work in the morning, using my cell phone camera.
I don’t often post photos of myself, partly because I don’t take very many and partly as a public service to you, my loyal readers. There are much nicer things to look at than my visage.
I don’t really make a particularly good Lincoln. I’m not anywhere near tall enough and my build is much too heavy. But this is for kindergarteners, remember. They aren’t terribly demanding and to them, even I am tall. It helps that their teacher is fairly small, also, so in comparison, I’m tall. The top hat and the beard are really all it takes. The first question I got from them was, “Are you the real Abraham Lincoln?”
Taking pictures of newborn babies is a bit tricky. Typically they are lying down or being held that way. If they are being held, the person holding them is often moving, meaning the good angle for a picture changes from moment to moment, assuming there is a good angle at all. Newborns don’t generally make interesting expressions and asking them to smile doesn’t help very much. When they do make a good expression, the chances of them being turned away from you are fairly high, or the person holding them is talking or has his or her eyes closed or something. That isn’t going to stop me from trying, of course.
I’m pretty pleased with this picture of Lacey and her three week old son, Daniel. It isn’t the greatest picture of Lacey, who is laughing at something someone said, but perhaps she’ll forgive me that, since it’s a pretty nice picture of Daniel, who seems quite happy and content. We can’t ask for a lot more than that. Congratulations to Lacey, Gil, and big brother Tim. What a beautiful addition to the family. Thanks for letting us intrude on your domestic life for a little while.
Cathy’s been working her way through a box of old family photographs and making some interesting connections. In the bin in this picture, the picture on the left is Cathy’s grandfather, Albert, from high school. We were hoping that we might find a picture of Ernest Hemingway, who attended the same school, Oak Park and River Forest High School, from 1913 until 1917, a few years ahead of Albert. Unfortunately, we didn’t. But you never know what might show up further down in the box.
As I mentioned in the post from Friday, pictures of this little fellow are likely to be fairly common here for a while. For one thing, he’s the cutest little thing. For another, he’s the first of the next generation, as far as my immediate family is concerned, and is my first grand nephew. We’re fortunate to have him (and his parents) living so close by. After visiting him on Friday, we had dinner at mom’s this evening because Brady was in town on business and we took the opportunity to get together. It was good to see her and everyone, including Iris, Ralph, and Tsai-Hong who were there via video conferencing on Seth’s phone.
If you think we’re going to visit Kai without my taking pictures of him, or if you don’t want to see baby pictures, then I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. We paid him a visit this evening (we saw his parents, too, but whatever) and mom (Dot) was there as well, visiting her great grand son. We each took a turn holding him and I took pictures of both Cathy and mom holding him. He seems to be growing well and is certainly a sweet little thing.
It was a fairly busy day today. We spent the morning at Cathy’s mom’s house, going through boxes of papers. We made some progress, although there’s still a bit left to do. From there we went to College Park for a graduation party for a friend. It was nice to spend time with Josh and his family, as well as his girlfriend, Lizzy, pictured here with Cathy and her mom, Jeannine. Then we went to Baltimore to visit Ralph and Tsai-Hong. After that visit we drove through parts of Baltimore we hadn’t been to before. I tried to get a picture of the Domino Sugar sign over the harbor through the fog but it was too thick and you can’t make out what the vague pink light is.
Cathy and I went to visit our grand-nephew Kai this evening. We also visited his parents, but really, we all know why we were there. But seriously, it was a nice chance to visit and of course to hold the baby, who is growing like the proverbial weed. Cathy took a bunch of pictures of me holding him, but of course I post pictures here that I’ve taken, so you are spared that. This is Steve giving him his dinner. Actually, I don’t know how you name meals when they come every two hours, but it was 7:30 PM, so we’ll call it dinner.
We had lunch with some of the rest of our family today but it was a little unusual because we all wore masks to reduce the risk of passing infection to Ralph, whose immune system is “somewhat compromised” at the moment. It was really nice to get together and have a visit. We were sorry that Steve, Maya, Kaien, and Danna were not able to join us but having a baby throws your schedule off and it can make what would formerly have been an easy outing into a complicated journey. Of course they’ll get into the swing of things soon but we all missed seeing them (especially Kai).
We have known Erin and David since Dorothy was in first grade. In fact, Erin was Dorothy’s first grade teacher, back in the day. She and David were married the following summer and we stayed in her family’s house while they all went off for the wedding. Over the next few years we got to know them better, even though she stopped teaching to begin raising the family they have now become.
This afternoon we were blessed to spend a little time with all but their oldest, who is now 12. This picture is of number five, Glenn, who was born last June. I won’t say he’s any cuter than his older siblings were, because they all have been quite attractive (some kids have all the luck in the genetic lottery). But this is one adorable little fellow. Look at those cheeks, to say nothing of his eyes. Thanks, Erin, for letting me hold him and thanks, also, for holding him so I could take his picture.
We had originally held off celebrating Christmas with Cathy’s mom because Cathy’s niece (Dorothy’s cousin) was going to be coming and we thought we’d do it while she was here. Maggie’s travel plans have changed so we decided to go ahead with Second Christmas without her. That’s why there are all those presents under the tree.
Lately Cathy and Dorothy have been watching various exercise videos and working along with them. Yesterday they were talking about the belly dancer that we saw in a restaurant in Rockville and they looked up instructional videos. Who said the internet isn’t good for anything? Anyway, they worked their way through it and this is one of the many moves they practiced.
It’s funny how some things become tradition. Thirteen years ago, Amy and Kevin invited us to their house on New Year’s Day for what Amy described as a “low-key celebration.” When they repeated the invitation the following year it was on its way to becoming a tradition. The guest list has changed with the only constant being Amy and one or both of her boys and Cathy, Dorothy, and me. Since Keven passed away, we have hosted the party and this is our fourth at our house. The aim is the same, though, a low-key celebration of the new year. As we approached the date, Amy asked if she could invite a family that she’s known for many years and of course we agreed. When they arrived, we introduced ourselves to Karen, Kyle, and Grace and to our surprise, Karen recognized Cathy. Their families knew each other back in the day. And by that I mean the 1960s! Small world.
Well, it’s the end of another year. For what started out as Project 365, with one picture a day for a year, posted on Facebook, I’ve now finished six years, 2,192 consecutive days of at least one photo a day. I just looked back at the posts from December 31, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Of those five posts, three of them were taken in the family room of our good friend, Stuart and Donna. They were also all taken right before the stroke of midnight. This year’s photo was taken in their kitchen about 40 minutes before the end of the year. It features Hannah, Rachel, and Lyla.
In all I took only 18,270 photographs this year, the first year under 20,000 with this camera, but that brings the total for the camera to 134,953. I had one day this year when I only took one photograph but I’ve managed to take at least one every day. The most I took in a day was only 792, which is a pretty low maximum. We didn’t take any extended sightseeing vacations this year and I had no weddings to photograph, which played a part if the lower numbers. But I’m still at it. Anyway, see you next year.
Happy birthday, Maya. I know you’re exhausted but look at this little boy. What a dear little thing he is. To everyone else reading this, let me introduce to you Kaien (pronounced basically like Ryan with a K) or Kai, if you prefer (like Sky without the S). He was born on Saturday, December 24, and we visited this evening and I know you’re going to be shocked but I took a few pictures. This is one of my favorites. I probably say this every time I see a newborn but it always surprises me again how small they are. Anyway, welcome to the family, Kai. We’re a bit of an odd bunch, but you don’t get to pick your family. Sorry about that.
Every year is different. That’s good, in the sense that we want a little variety in our lives. If every day were just like the last, we’d get bored (some of us sooner than others). That’s why so many people love the changing seasons. Autumn and spring, times of transition, are especially beautiful. But even with the change, there is a sameness the overlays it all. Every year has the same four seasons and that repetition is quite comforting. We know what to expect next, at least in broad terms, even if the details are different.
Every year, the details are different. We all know that but we’re still surprised by it, from time to time. Last year was different to all the others (at least all my others) because Albert wasn’t there. This year was different for a totally different reason. Ralph’s son and daughter-in-law (Stephen and Maya) had a son yesterday. What a wonderful combined Christmas and Hanukkah present. They named him Kaien (pretty much rhymes with Ryan) but gave him the middle name Albert. That was a very sweet thing for them to do and a very nice present for all of us.
For a number of reasons, not least of which was a scheduling conflict at our normal location for church tomorrow and the fact that most people want to be with their families on Christmas day, we had a Christmas Eve service today instead. It was a fairly small, informal affair, with only about 20 people in all including more children than adults. After the service, I took this picture and if I have their names right, they are Olivia, Alyssa, and Ellie behind Hope and Sugar (the dog).
Cathy and Dorothy went over this afternoon to pick up D’Argo from Steve and Maya’s. They were going to the hospital to have their first child and we will have the dog for a little while, certainly until they are home again and settled down a bit. As I write this, late on Saturday morning, there is still no word on the baby’s arrival, but we should hear any time now.
As you can see, Dorothy is enjoying having a dog.
The group I work with had its annual holiday party today. It’s not exactly the sort of party portrayed in some movies or television shows, with dancing and revelry. It’s just a bunch of folks (about 150) getting together for a meal, a silent auction to raise a bit of money for a local charity, and a time of mostly quiet socializing. I was one of two photographers today with the other being the “official” photographer. That freed me up to take a few candids and not really stress.
Being a technical person, I’m technically not a member of this group but this is the group we largely support. I work with quite a few different teams within this group although there are a lot that I don’t know at all. I’ve worked with these three for quite some time and probably know them better than all but a few others here. They all hate to have their picture taken but they were kind enough to let me take a few.
It’s December and that means all sorts of Christmas parties (or, if work-related, holiday parties, but that’s a post for another time). The first Christmas party of the season was with our church family. It was hosted by our pastor and his wife (and their kids, I suppose) and it was a full house. I honestly don’t know how many of us were there but it was a good crowd. Of course, being a pot luck, there was way more food than we could eat, although I guess some folks didn’t get to try things that ran our early. For me, the highlight was little smokies wrapped in bacon and then sprinkled with brown sugar and baked. Man, were those good (thanks, Joanna and Juan). There was an excellent cake, as well, made by Brigitte with candied cranberries on top. While the cake was excellent, to me the cranberries were the best part.
Naturally I took pictures and this is one I really like, a couple of wonderful young folk named Lizzy and Josh. I enjoyed sitting with them a while and chatting and I’m glad this pictures turned out so well.