Cathy and I went out to dinner tonight to celebrate our 27th anniversary. The waiter brought us this dessert, which was delish.
Tagged With: Cathy
A good friend of ours said she liked mowing the lawn because it was the only thing she could do around the house that her two sons couldn’t undo in half an hour.
I think Cathy does it for a similar reason to why I do the cooking. She considers the lawn in need of attention before I do. I consider dinner in need of attention before she does.
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.
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/.
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.
In the continuing story of this year’s Operation Christmas Child boxes, here’s a picture of Cathy amongst her six or seven (I mean twelve) boxes. They are mostly packed and ready to be closed up and delivered. She has a few more things to distribute to the boxes. Cathy is also signed up for two evenings working at the collection center in Jessup, processing boxes for shipment.
Hopefully Dorothy’s room will be back in order before she arrives next week on her Thanksgiving break.
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.
The renovations going on at home are nearly complete. It would be a bit of exaggeration to say they have been the worst thing we’ve ever been through. Nevertheless, they have been somewhat stressful. Most of the rest of the house has a thick layer of dust and of course we still haven’t found new homes for everything that had to be moved out. It’s worth it, of course, but that doesn’t entirely eliminate the negative aspects. But, as Cathy said by picking this Gloria Gaynor song on the jukebox at the Silver Diner, I Will Survive.
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 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.
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).
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
We rented a truck today for the third time this year. The first time was on Saturday, January 6, when we moved Margaret from her house to ours. That was mostly her bedroom furniture and boxes of the things she’ll need here at our house. The second was on Tuesday, July 24 to move a bunch more furniture that we will either keep ourselves or get rid of more carefully (i.e. sell rather than give away). Today we moved furniture that was to be given away. We filled a 16-foot truck pretty full and took it to A Wider Circle (http://awidercircle.org/). They took most of what we brought, leaving us with just a few of the things to dispose of (when furniture isn’t good enough for charity, it’s time for the dump). There’s still more at the house, of course. Mostly things that will go directly to the transfer station, either metal (shelves, a dryer, a refrigerator, etc.) or trash (particle board cupboards that don’t last and aren’t really worth anything).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Cathy’s grandmother lived in Peru for more than 20 years, running the guest house in Lima for the Summer Institute of Linguistics. She sent and brought home many things over the years, from birds, reptiles, and small mammals to arts and crafts. One thing she brought for Cathy was this Peruvian harp. The harp, in one form or another, has existed as an instrument for more than 5,000 years. They were introduced into South America by the Spanish in the 16th century and have integrated into Andean culture. The Peruvian or Andean harp has a fairly large soundboard.
This one is not in playable condition, due to a large crack in the neck. I’d be very nervous about tightening the strings enough that they could be played. There is also a long crack in the soundboard, between two pieces of wood. Whether or not it can be repaired adequately is an open question. We certainly don’t know. Dorothy asked her college piano teacher if he would be interested in having the harp and he said he would, so today it left with Dorothy for New England and its new home. I took a bunch of pictures of it before loading it in her van.
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.
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.
When I posted the close up of the tiger lily a couple days ago, I knew it wouldn’t be the only tiger lily photo I’d post this summer. They’re simply too nice to get just one mention. Dad had these growing in the garden along the driveway. Quite a few years ago we took some of the bulbils that form in the leaf axils on young stems. I find it interesting that they seem to form on young stems and not on the more mature stems. Generally you think of a more mature plant yielding more of this sort of thing. But I suppose the more mature stems produce a lot more seeds, so they don’t need to do this.
Anyway, we have them well established in a few places in the yard and they are magnificent. This is the biggest and most successful bunch, growing in a bed where a dead oak tree was removed a while back, out near the road. As you can see, they’re about eight feet tall and really happy in this sunny location. I recommend them pretty highly. The tiger swallowtails seem to like them, as 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.
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.
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.
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 that time of the year again. Cathy held back a bit this year. In 2017 she planned to make six boxes but that grew into 12. I think that was the high water mark for her. In the last two years she’s kept closer to plan and this year she only went one over her planned four boxes, which is quite an accomplishment for her. It was harder because everything seems harder this year, particularly shopping, but she went on a couple outings to fill her boxes. Since I’m actually posting this more than three weeks after the fact, it’s pretty clear she didn’t pick up any unwanted viruses on her shopping trips, at least not anything with a gestation period shorter than that. We didn’t volunteer at their packing center this year, either. It’s sad that something as worthwhile as this is impacted so much by this pandemic, but there you are. Hopefully next year things will be back to some semblance of normal.
Like many families this year, we had a very small Thanksgiving meal today. I’m not fond of turkey and with only four of us, it seemed like a waste to bother with one. So, I roasted a 5.5 pound chicken, stuffed with a pilau with onions, currants, pine nuts, lemon zest, and allspice. We were meant to have green bean casserole but somehow I forgot. We did have a salad, though, as well as two cranberry sauces, the jellied version out of a can and one made from fresh cranberries and an orange, blended together with a little extra sugar.