People

Rat Gallery DC #3

Caroline, Sara, and Justin

Caroline, Sara, and Justin

Andrew, Rachel, Katharine, Anna, and Dorothy

Andrew, Rachel, Katharine, Anna, and Dorothy

It was time for another Rat Gallery opening and Cathy and I were there. I don’t know that we can commit to being at every one but we’ve managed so far. This one was very well attended and was even listed on WTOP’s “What to do in DC” listing on their Instagram story. Pretty impressive. Art is quite a varied thing and something that one person loves, another person may hate. Sometimes art is meant to express feelings or emotions, other times it tries to tell a story. It can simply be decorative, of course, or it can consider shapes, colors, and various other aspects of the physical world. It’s quite common for any particular work of art to appeal to a limited audience.

I thought these porcelain cups were lovely and I especially liked the one in the upper right of this photo, with the salmon pink petals. There were a few others that I liked the colors of, including the one immediately below that with the darker interior. They were all really nice and they spoke to me. The other artists had their followers, as well and I think everyone had a lovely evening. It was also nice that it started before it got dark, so there was some natural light for a while.

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Easter Sunrise Service

Easter Sunrise Service

Easter Sunrise Service

As you probably know if you’ve been following my photographic journey for any length of time, I really love a good Easter sunrise service. Cathy and Dorothy were nice enough to come with me again this year. The weather was very cooperative, with the temperature being cool but not freezing. Todd Smedley and David Frerichs officiated and Todd’s message was really good. After that we went to the upper room for a light breakfast before the regular 8:00 service, which we also enjoy with the orchestra up front. This is the first time we’ve been to Fourth since they renovated the sanctuary. I have to say I’m underwhelmed by what they’ve done with it. It was pretty stark before but it’s even more bland now. I guess I’m not the target audience and of course it’s not our church, so it’s not really my place to say. Nevertheless, I’m not all that impressed. But the sunrise and morning worship services were good and I’m not really there for the decor, so that’s something. I also had a really lovely visit with Erin and David, getting caught up on their family and telling them about ours.

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Fabric Purge

Mom's Fabric

Mom’s Fabric

At one point mom had a bumper sticker that said, “The one who dies with the most fabric wins.” We knew is was meant to be tongue in cheek but mom seemed to be taking it a bit more seriously than she might have done. She stopped accumulating fabric a good while ago but was still quilting so didn’t get rid of all of what she had, even though she did pare it down when she moved out of her house in 2018. Now that she’s no longer quilting, though, the time had come to give away what remained. Cathy, Dorothy, or good friend Julia, and I went through all the fabric in her two large closets. Dorothy took a few boxes, Julia took a small box, and the rest went to another woman from Bethesda Quilters for them to distribute as they see fit. Here’s what she was able to fit into the trunk of her car. The back seat is also full, from the floor to above the top of the seat backs. It was a hectic day but nice to have that done.

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Easter Egg Hunt

Dot and Dorothy

Dot and Dorothy

Iris, Kai, Seth, Silas, and Eloise

Iris, Kai, Seth, Silas, and Eloise

Seth, Iris, Cathy, and Tsai-Hong

Seth, Iris, Cathy, and Tsai-Hong

Cathy, Iris, Kai, Steve, Maya, and Tsai-Hong

Cathy, Iris, Kai, Steve, Maya, and Tsai-Hong

Dorothy and her friends invited the families at their church to come to an Easter egg hunt at the property today. The folks at the church organized the actual egg hunt and everyone brought their own picnic lunches and folding chairs. Dorothy also invited the rest of our family and it turned into a family gathering, as well. I took pictures of the egg hunt as well as quite a few of all the people but I’m limiting the photos posted here to family, since those are the people I actually know. We stayed later than the others and had a nice time roasting marshmallows and visiting. It was cool but a beautiful day and really good to see everyone. We brought mom, and she sat near the fire and various people came and sat and talked with her. A few people fished but I don’t think anyone caught anything. The pond is filling up nicely, though.

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Tree Planting Outing

Cathy and Dorothy On Horse Rock

Cathy and Dorothy On Horse Rock

Cathy and I spent most of the day up in Pennsylvania today. I had 45 tree seedlings I wanted to plant and that took a good part of our time. I planted 25 Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) and 20 black gum (or tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica). I put six of the cedars in the picnic field with the hope that at least a few of them survive to maturity. I don’t expect them all to and honestly I might cut down all but three if more than that make it. The other were planted in the woods simply to add to the woodland environment. Both trees are native to the area, with the cedar being confined mostly to the states along the Atlantic and eastern gulf coast and the black gum more widespread as far west as Texas.

I planted about half of them in what we refer to as ‘the wet field’ but which is woods at this point. This large rock and a few others are along the edge of what was a field when my parents bought the property nearly 60 years ago.

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One Year Beard

Self-portrait with One Year Beard

Self-portrait with One Year Beard

A year ago I had a longish beard and mustache that had been growing since the previous Thanksgiving. At that point I decided to cut my beard short. I didn’t shave but using my trimmers cut it to about 1⁄8″. I didn’t cut my hair at that time. Then I let my beard grow again. The previous mustache had been a bit annoying so this time around I trimmed that occasionally. By Christmas my beard had gotten long enough—and it’s now white enough—that I got quite a few ‘Santa’ comments. You can see what it was like at the end of December in my annual 2023 Reading post. By February I was thinking it was time for it to go but since it was coming up on a year’s growth, I decided to give it until this week. I took this picture to record the longest beard I’ve ever had. I’m not making any promises but I suspect this will be the longest beard I’m ever going to have. It was fun while it lasted but I was ready for a change. Again, I have left my hair long, which is also probably the longest it has ever been.

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Col. Paul Peck and Ruth Owens

Paul and Ruth Owens Grave Marker

Paul and Ruth Owens Grave Marker

We went for a walk in the rain near the Croyden Creek Nature Center today. In spite of the fact that we got pretty much soaked, we really enjoyed being outside. I carried my camera under my jacket and got a few pictures. After we got back to the car, we stopped at Rockville Cemetery, just to walk around (again, in the rain). We chatted for a while with the President of the Board of Directors of the Rockville Cemetery Association. She pointed out her family graves and also this marker for the graves of Col. Paul Peck (August 10, 1889 – September 11, 1912) and his wife, Ruth Owens (January 7, 1893 – April 5, 1912). He was an early pilot and set a speed record, flying 24 miles in 25 minutes (57.6 MPH). He died in a plane crash in Chicago, Illinois.

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Dot’s 93rd Birthday

Dot's 93rd Birthday

Dot’s 93rd Birthday

Tsai-Hong has originally planned to have us all over on Chinese (a.k.a. Lunar) New year on February 10. For a number of reasons, it got pushed back first to the 17th and then to the 24th. We did get together and celebrated mom’s 93rd birthday, as well. We don’t ever really need much of an excuse to get together and we should do it more often but of course everyone is busy and it’s hard to find a good date for everyone. As usual, mom made her own cake, her favorite angel food cake, which turned out marvelously. Tsai-Hong bought carry-out from Far East Restaurant and is was terrific.

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Jed’s First Birthday

Aria, Evan, Jed, and Maria

Aria, Evan, Jed, and Maria

We attended the birthday party for little Jed’s first birthday today and had a very nice time visiting with his parents and extended family. We’ve known Maria since she was a little older than Aria is now and have been blessed to watch her grow into the beautiful young woman she is. He wedding to Evan in 2019 was a lot of fun. Sadly they live too far away for us to see her very often, but we are happy for opportunities like this to get together.

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New Year’s Day

New Year's Day Gathering Participants

New Year’s Day Gathering Participants

Many January firsts since 2004 we have gotten together with Amy and her family. Other guests have varied over the years and we’ve missed a few years (like last year, when Cathy got Covid at the end of December). A few things have been very consistent, including having fondue for the meal. Today’s meal included both cheese fondue and chocolate fondue for dessert. We decided to forego the meat fondue because Jon smoked a large piece of beef instead. Choosing between smoked meat and meat fondue is something of a toss up, but we made a good choice. We also had two new attendees this year. Carly, Jon’s wife of about a year and a half and their little one graced us with their presence. It’s great to start a year off with a relaxing time catching up with friends, even if much of the conversation these days seems to be centered around caring for parents or personal medical issues. Regardless, here’s wishing you a very happy new year.

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Dot and Her Great Grandchildren

Kaien, Silas, Dot, and Eloise

Kaien, Silas, Dot, and Eloise

At about 2:00 PM my family started to arrive, starting with George and Carmela (and their dog Chester) who drove down from New Jersey and made better time than expected. The rest came between 2:30 and 3:00 and we have a very lively Christmas afternoon. Our meal this year was all sorts of appetizer-type things. Some might call them tapas but we prefer the name ‘what-nots’. There was considerably more food that the 15 of us could eat so plenty of leftovers. I had planned to make latkes and had already prepared the potato and onion batter but lost track of things and didn’t make them. I fried up a few the next day and they were terrific, but we really didn’t need them today. We didn’t take a whole-group photo but I did get some of mom on the sofa with her three great grandchildren, from left, Kaien, Silas, and Eloise.

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Christmas Morning

Margaret and Friends

Margaret and Friends

As we did last year, we took Christmas breakfast to Cathy’s mom. Also like last year, I made a quiche Loraine and it turned out quite well (it’s not really very difficult, to be honest). Today’s visit was a bit more hectic than last year, though, when it was just Cathy, Dorothy, and me. This year, Tam and No were visiting, having arrived shortly before us. Then Tam’s sister Dieu and her husband Henry and his aunt arrived while we were there. We don’t get to see Henry and Dieu very often, because they live in Florida. Tam and No were planning to leave for a visit to Vietnam tomorrow and Henry and Dieu towards the end of January. So, a very nice reunion but not really a quiet Christmas morning.

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Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

With my beard and wearing a red and white ‘Santa hat’ this morning I was asked if I would stand in for Santa in a picture with some friends’ kids. I was happy to oblige, of course. This evening we returned to church for our Christmas Eve service, which is a real favorite of mine. Sadly, there are more good Christmas hymns than there is time for in a service and some of my favorites are inevitably missed. We do end, as many churches do, with a song sung by candlelight. We sang Silent Night, where our former church ended with Joy to the World. I took pictures and of course without flash, had to set the camera at a high ISO. The pictures are naturally lower quality because of that but it gives them more of the feel of candlelight, anyway.

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Office Christmas Party

Bonn, Doris, Bill, and Cathy

After a few years without, during that whole pandemic thing, we had our first group holiday party last year and another one this year. In the past I’ve been parts of small groups that had parties. When I worked for Mike his group had a party and that varied in size from a dozen or more, down to a low of three of us. Then we were invited to go to the party for the group we supported and we did that for quite a few years. More recently the larger IT team directly supporting project work had a party. That was a larger group. Last year and this, however, it’s been a larger group again, this time including all the systems and other support groups. We are now call Technology and Digital Solutions or TDS, which sadly has the effect of sounding like tedious. These are a few of my not so tedious colleagues, Bonn, Doris, Bill, and of course Cathy.

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Roosevelt Island

Jim and Cathy on Roosevelt Island

Jim and Cathy on Roosevelt Island

Cathy’s brother Jim came for a quick visit. After we picked him up from the airport we had a little extra time before his and Cathy’s mom would be done with lunch so we stopped at Teddy Roosevelt Island and walked around it. Part of the way around we saw two of these shelter-like constructions made of collected branch pieces. I dont think they are official, National Park Service structures and may well be gone the next time we’re there. But it seemed like a good opportunity for an informal portrait of brother and sister.

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Cathy

Cathy

Cathy

Where the Northwest Branch Rock Creek goes under Muncaster Mill Road the Kengla House Trail heads upstream. We seem to go there right around this time of year fairly regularly. We happened to go there again today. It’s not the most exciting trail around, but it’s nice. The worst part is where it goes under the ICC (MD route 200). Our favorite part is a little ways beyond that where a side stream goes between two huge sycamore trees. Whenever we head this way, I take pictures of Cathy leaning on one or the other of those trees. You can see two pictures from Friday, December 31, 2021. This year the sun was out so I had to move her into the shadow of the tree to get a better picture.

From there we continued upstream until we got to Norbeck Meadows Neighborhood Park where we crossed another side stream and then headed back. There were a lot of dogs out today, which Cathy enjoyed. One border collie wasn’t as happy to see me as we initially were to see her and she lunged at me, whacking me in the leg before her owner pulled her back. But no real harm done, thankfully.

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Rob’s Birthday

Rob's Birthday

Rob’s Birthday

When we moved back here after living in England I was going into eighth grade. In many ways it was like moving to a new town, even though I had lived in the same house until only 14 months before. One of the people I met was Rob and we’ve been close friends ever since. It was really nice to spend the evening with Rob, his lovely wife Susie, and a large handful of their closest friends. I only knew a few of them and those not very well, but I enjoyed talking with them, regardless. This is Rob and Susie with three of those friends who were able to come.

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Rat Gallery DC #2

Rat Gallery #2

Rat Gallery #2

Back on September 30, Rat Gallery DC had their inaugural event. Tonight was their second and the turnout was very encouraging. For the first event, some people came, I’m sure, out of devotion to Dorothy, Rachel, and Katharine, the artists but also the organizers of the event. Tonight’s show featured three other artists and was even better attended than the first. While taste in art is about as varied among people as is taste in food, one can appreciate even what one might not pick to fit their home decor. So, while I wasn’t tempted to buy anything this time, I did enjoy the art and the people. Naturally I took photos. I could only wish it were a little easier to get to North Capital and O Street, Northwest. But it was definitely worth the effort. The next show, I believe, is in early February.

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Cathy and Henry

Cathy and Henry

Cathy and Henry

A few weeks ago I agreed to take portraits of folks at church for a new photo directory. It’s been quite a while since we had one and there have been significant changes since then, including pictures with children who are now young adults. Each Sunday I set up a mini-studio in one of the offices and took three to five photos of each family, couple, or individual (generally more for the larger families since it’s more likely that there will be closed eyes the more people there are). I had Tammy press the shutter release for me to get our photos and I think they turned out pretty well. So, here we are.

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Cathy

Cathy

Cathy

Cathy and I took the day off work today, as many people do the day after Thanksgiving. It was a pleasant, overcast day and we drove out to the Rachel Carson Wildlife Management Area on Zion Road in Brookeville for a walk. The trail we took starts along a field scattered with American persimmon trees (Diospyros virginiana). Then we headed down into the woods where we heard but never saw a barred owl (Strix varia). Eventually we reached the Hawlings River, which is nice as it tumbles over rocks. As we ascended from the river on the Greenway Trail we came upon a large outcropping of boulders which appear to be mostly quartz. This is one of a series of photos I took of Cathy on those rocks.

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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Iris and Seth hosted our family Thanksgiving feast this year and it was quite a feast. While I confess to being indifferent to turkey and while most of the sides are high in carbs, taking them off my regular diet, it is still a meal I enjoy. That’s more for the family I’m blessed to have than for the food itself. With three little kids in the house, it’s not necessarily a time for quiet chats but it’s still good to get together as a family. We missed having George and Carmela here, but they plan to come down for Christmas.

I made green bean casserole, sweet potatoes with oranges and marshmallows, and a fruit salad. Tsai-Hong also brought various fruits and amazingly, with my five fruits and her four, there were no duplicates. After the turkey came out of the oven and I could get some of drippings from that I made the giblet gravy, as well. The turkey was quite large and of course there was more than enough for everyone with leftovers to take home with us. There was dressing with chestnuts, peas, salad, bread, broccoli, and two types of cranberry sauce. Mom brought cake and Steve made both pecan and apple pies and of course there was ice cream. Trader Joe’s had a sparkling, rosé tea that Iris bought, which was really nice (but sadly appears to have been a one time thing).

It took two pictures to get everyone in.

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Abba and Hannah

Abba and Hannah

Abba and Hannah

Abba, Hannah, and Sean’s visit ended today. I’m taking directory photos at church so I had to be there but the rest all went to see grandma again. She seemed a little confused but enjoyed having them there. They sang to the birds again. They got home about the same time I did. Before we took them to the airport I took a few pictures and this is my favorite, of the two sisters. With Abba not in the Chicago area, they get to see each other more often but we don’t get to see Abba as much as we did when she was in New England.

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Visiting Grandma

Visiting Grandma

Visiting Grandma

As mentioned in the last two posts, Abba, Hannah, and Sean are visiting from Illinois and Dorothy has come down from Pennsylvania. We had a nice dinner last evening with their grandma and we went back to see her this morning. We went outside for a bit and I took a group picture with the camera on a tripod so I could be in it. Then Abba pushed her grandma around outside but we didn’t stay out too long because it was a bit windy and chilly.

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Dinner with Grandma

Dinner with Grandma

Dinner with Grandma

Last night Abba, Hannah, and Sean arrived from Chicago. Abba, Sean, and I had to work today. Cathy normally has Friday’s off but she had to work some, as well. Dorothy was here, though, and she hung out with Hannah and the rest of us were here, working on our various laptops. I had cooked shrimp, salmon, broccoli, and rice for dinner and it all turned out pretty well. The shrimp were a little spicy, cooked briefly in a little hot oil infused with chili peppers. We went out into the living room and Margaret sang to the cockatiels a little. We left with promises to return tomorrow.

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Sean, Abba, Cathy, and Hannah

Sean, Abba, Cathy, and Hannah

Sean, Abba, Cathy, and Hannah

Two of Cathy’s nieces, Abba and Hannah, and Hannah’s boyfriend Sean came for a visit. We picked them up at the airport and as usual, I took a few pictures while we were there. Abba had planned to come when her dad came back in September but at the last minute had to cancel. At the time she said she’d do her best to come, and here she is, with Hannah and Sean thrown in for good measure. This was the first time we’d met Sean but he fit right in and we had a really good time with them all.

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Cathy On The Potomac River

Cathy On The Potomac River

Cathy On The Potomac River

We drove to Pennyfield Lock today and walked up stream past Blockhouse Point. We took a few detours off the towpath, heading down to the river. First we went around one of the artificial ponds between the canal and the river that were built, I believe, in the early part of the 20th century. We got off the towpath again north of Blockhouse point and that’s where this pictures was taken, sitting on the rocks on the side of the river. The river is quite low, even for this time of year, but I suspect we’ll start getting rain again soon and it will be back up.

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At The General Omar Bradley Oak

Seth, Silas, Tsai-Hong, Iris, Eloise, Kaien, Dot, Cathy, Dorothy, and Henry

Seth, Silas, Tsai-Hong, Iris, Eloise, Kaien, Dot, Cathy, Dorothy, and Henry

We had a beautiful day at the farm with most of the family. The weather was amazing and it was really nice to be together. We walked to the big oak tree. Our neighbors named it the General Omar Bradley and we’ve adopted that name ourselves. We don’t know how old it is but it’s almost certainly over 200. The three kids each enjoyed sawing firewood (not from the oak) and we had a nice meal. We also walked in the orchard to see all the clearing work that’s been done.

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Rat Gallery

Rat Gallery

Rat Gallery

Dorothy and her friend Rachel had a little art show the evening in the first Rat Gallery exhibit. Getting down to the gallery on O Street NW was not enjoyable, but we got there eventually and found a parking space without any trouble. The even was in full swing by the time we got there and it got even busier while we were there. I’d say for a first opening it was a success. I chatted briefly with Rachel’s parents, who had come down from New Jersey for the show. I also enjoyed talking with Katharine, our host and Dorothy’s friend from yoga teacher training. All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening.

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Margaret’s 97th Birthday

Margaret’s 97th Birthday

Margaret’s 97th Birthday

Jim came for his and Cathy’s mom’s 97th birthday. We decided the best thing to do would be to bring a feast to her room. So, I made qaubili pilau, an Afghan rice dish (where the French got the word pilaf). It’s traditionally served with lamb but Margaret has never been crazy anout lamb. She usually made it with chicken but, again, she gets a lot of chicken where she is. So, I made flank steak. Not traditional but really good. I also made my fist ever flan, which if I say so myself, was pretty darned good.

Jim’s Daughter, Abba, had planned to come but she couldn’t at the last minute. She and her sister, Hannah are planning to come in November, though.

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A New Home

Andrew, Rachel, Anna, and Dorothy

Andrew, Rachel, Anna, and Dorothy

Dorothy’s friends Andrew and Rachel, two of the three friends who have been roughing it with her in Pennsylvania, have bought a house. It’s just under 5 miles by road (and about 4.4 miles as the crow flies) from the farm. They settled yesterday and began moving in. Cathy and I went up to see them today and to help with some cleanup work in and around the house. They pulled up the carpeting in the living room and one bedroom, which was a good idea in the long run but resulted in some additional work in the short run. Nevertheless, it’s a cute little house and, especially compared to where they’ve been living for about two months, it’s luxurious, with actual electricity and running water! There was no refrigerator, but they’ve ordered one and it should be delivered in two days. That, alone, will be a big treat. There isn’t central air conditioning but a window unit keeps the downstairs reasonably comfortable. And, there’s a really nice swing set in the yard.

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Farm Work Day

The Pond

The Pond

Tony, Thea, Anna, and Andrew

Tony, Thea, Anna, and Andrew

Dorothy organized a work day today at the farm. If you haven’t heard about the farm, then you should know that, although we call it that, it’s probably not what you are picturing. My parents bought the property almost 59 years ago and it had been part of a working farm, with five fields. Since them, however, although we’ve continued to call it the farm, it’s never really been one. Three of the fields have entirely grown up with trees. Two of them are filled with trees specifically planted by my parents, including Japanese larch, white pine, and Norway spruce. One field was my dad’s ‘orchard’ and even that title may be misleading. In this part of the country there are orchards all around. But those have rows upon rows of trees. Dad’s orchard had a little of everything, with half a dozen apple trees, a few peaches, plums, pears, and various other fruit trees and shrubs. He also planted nut trees, including Turkish and American hazelnuts (Corylus colurna and C. americana, Persian walnut (Juglans regia), and Chestnuts (both Chinese, Castanea mollissima and hybrid Chinese and American, Castanea dentata). Since dad’s passing, the orchard has become significantly overgrown. The final field, which we usually call the picnic field, is still mostly clear but dad planted specimen trees of various sorts.

Today’s work day was focused mostly on clearing the orchard and we made a really good start. There were ‘weed trees’ four or five inches in diameter that needed to be cut down, along with lots of vines, multiflora roses, and Elaeagnus. We did our best to cut back the hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta), keeping much of it but not wanting it growing up into other trees. While this was going on, we had a tree guy cutting a few larger trees, including one large maple tree that was leaning over the cabin.

The first picture here is of the pond with the cabin in the background. The second is four of the 36 or so people we had working here today.

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Third Cousins

Third Cousins

Third Cousins

We celebrated Eloise’s birthday on our second day (first full day) at the beach. Iris made a cake, we had ice cream, and mom had brought a lemon cake, as well. In addition to the immediate family in our house, my cousins and their families came over from the two units next to us. My cousins’ grandchildren are third cousins to Eloise, Silas, and Kaien. There are more but this is everyone that came to the beach this year. As you might imagine with this many kids, it got a bit loud at times, but I think everyone had a good time.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the parents of these kids, the generation after mine, were this age. Time really does fly. We’ve been coming to the beach since I was a little one like this, although the specific beach changed a few times. Early on we went to Myrtle Beach. I seem to remember once or twice going to the outer banks. Then we would camp at Huntington Beach State Park, south of Murrells Inlet (which is south of Myrtle Beach). I’m not sure I could camp at the beach now, as used to air conditioning as I am. But that’s what we did. It’s been Ocean Isle Beach for quite a while now.

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Cathy’s Flowers

Cathy's Flowers

Cathy’s Flowers

The summer blooming period has really gotten underway at our house. That mostly includes black-eyed Susan and tiger lilies, both seen in this photo with Cathy. These are in the front yard. It’s our largest stand of tiger lilies which originally came from bulbils collected from my dad’s plants in Bethesda. We have a few in other parts of the yard, near the top of the driveway and on the south end of the house and every year there are a few more. This bunch it the most impressive, though, being right out by the road.

The black-eyed Susans here are a relatively small bunch compared to what is in the back yard. I like them, although we could have about half as many and still have enough. They are fairly aggressive and even Cathy has taken to pulling a few up each year. There are about 25 recognized species of Rudbeckia. Most of ours are probably Rudbeckia hirta, native to our region and the state flower of Maryland. Some of the others, with similar flowers, are less aggressive and might be a better alternative, if you don’t want a yard full of them.

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Family Reunion

Family Reunion

Family Reunion

Mom and I went down to North Carolina for our annual family reunion today. It’s a bit of a trek but we both enjoy it and we’re glad we went. We left mom’s at about 6:30 and didn’t have any problems with traffic, so we got there a bit early, but that’s better than sitting in traffic. We spen the night after the reunion with mom’s cousin and returned home the next day. That makes the whole thing more relaxing and consequently more fun. I’m pretty fortunate in my family. Unsurprisingly I am closer to and get along with some more than others but as a group, they’re a good bunch.

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Rainforest Walk

Brian, Cathy, and Dogs

Brian, Cathy, and Dogs

Cathy, Brian and I took a walk with the dogs through Switzer Meadow and then on a loop beyond Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School. Most of that later trail is in the woods, some of which is relatively young. The whole area was probably clear cut less than 100 years ago, so there are few if any trees older than that. Some areas seem to be pretty scrubby and one area looked like it was a homeless camp or party spot not too many years ago. It’s hard to tell because wood decomposes very quickly in this wet environment. It’s still a pretty walk for the most part and we enjoyed being out with the dogs.

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Granite Basin Hike

Ebner Falls from Perseverance Trail

Ebner Falls from Perseverance Trail

Cathy and Henry in Front of Granite Cataract

Cathy and Henry in Front of Granite Cataract

Granite Basin

Granite Basin

Lisa, Brian, and Cathy Hiking Down from Granite Basin

Lisa, Brian, and Cathy Hiking Down from Granite Basin

We took a long hike today. It was overcast and threatening rain but we only actually had a little drizzle for part of the hike. We started at the end of Basin Road. There are two branches at the lower end of the Perseverance Trail. The one we took is shorter but steeper. There is a door covering an entrance to the Ebner Adit and a very cool wind was coming out of it. I found that useful when we returned, because I was fairly warm. The first part of the trail is fairly steep and by the time you get to Ebner Falls, the first photo presented here, you’ve climbed 815 feet in about 0.7 miles, an average grade steeper than 1:5, although parts are closer to 1:3. The trail gets a bit easier at that point. You cross Gold Creek a few times and eventually get to the Granite Basin trail.

We passed a work crew on the trail. The near side of Gold Creek has been undermining the trail a bit so they were building gabions and filling them with rocks to stabilize the bank. It looked like hard work. One of them noticed my camera. I was carrying my 150-600mm zoom with the camera on it, mounted on a monopod. I also had two additional lenses, my 100mm macro and the 17-40mm zoom. She asked, “Are you going on a photo shoot?” Laughing to myself, I said “No, just taking pictures of whatever we see.“ She asked if I wanted to take their picture and when I said I would if they wanted, the all got excited. I took a few shots of them and got an email address to send them to. Oh, they also complemented my hat, which they said was ‘sick’ (which I’m pretty sure they meant as a compliment).

About a mile and a half up that trail, you take the left fork to stay beside Gold Creek. Another 0.6 miles or so and the Granite Basin Trail branches off on the left. This starts with five switchbacks and climbs quite steeply. After that the climb is a bit more moderate. We got to a point where there was a large snow drift covering both the trail and the entire value below the trail, with the stream going under it. Eventually we got to the cataracts below Granite Basin and stopped for a few pictures. We continued up into the basin but didn’t really go much further than that.

We had climbed from about 370 feet to about 1,750 over the course of about 4 miles (and then back again, totaling about 8 miles). It’s a beautiful hike and Granite Basin is really pretty. I remember the first time we hiked there the fireweed was in bloom, which was particularly nice. It’s not the easiest hike in the Juneau area but it’s one of my favorites. If you don’t mind a bit of exercise (and possibly crossing a bit of snow if you aren’t late in the summer) then I highly recommend this hike. It’s not a bad idea to bring water and a snack. The weather can be significantly different in Granite Basin from what it is at the start of the trail.

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Cathy, Point Louisa

Cathy, Point Louisa

Cathy, Point Louisa

When you decide to go to Juneau, you are making a tacit agreement to deal with rain. Depending on your source, there are between 180 and 235 days of rain per year in Juneau and there are only about 80 days described as ‘sunny’ per year. With the average high temperature in July, the hottest month, being only 64.1° it’s not the place to go to get a tan. That being said, we arrived late in the day on June 17 and didn’t have any rain the entire first week. Today was the first day we had to walk in the rain if we were going to walk. We drove with Brian, Lisa, and the dogs out to Auke Rec and walked to Point Louisa. The tide was out and this picture of Cathy gives you an idea of what the day was like. Actually, it wasn’t raining hard and we had a really good time being out. The tides in Juneau are pretty significant and where we were standing when this photo was taken will be under quite a few feet of water at high tide. The rocks are covered with barnacles and there are quite a few mussels, although not as many as on the rocks around Shaman Island, where we walked to on the 19th.

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Rock Balancing

Brian and Henry, Balancing Rocks

Brian and Henry, Balancing Rocks

As you might guess, although I take most of the pictures with my camera, Cathy took this shot. We had driven to the end of the road and then walked to the shore just past Echo Cove. This is as far as you can drive from downtown Juneau. It was sunny and hot, which is unusual for Juneau, but we enjoyed being out. Cathy and Lisa were down near the water and Brian and I sat higher on the rocky beach and started balancing stones. It’s a fiddly thing but soothing in its own way. We each managed to get a respectable cairn built and Cathy took a few pictures as we worked on our final stones. The horse flies started to bother us, so we headed back to the car and back to town for the evening.

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Dinner in Bethesda

Dorothy, Jan, Suzie, Cathy, and Rob

Dorothy, Jan, Suzie, Cathy, and Rob

Our friend Jan was in town for an event in Annapolis and were were fortunate enough to be able to get together for dinner with her and Rob and Susie. We talked about different locations and settled on Hawkers Asian Street Food on Bethesda Row. The lighting was a bit rough but I didn’t want to use a flash, so I did my best. Don’t make any assumptions based on skin tones, everyone is fine. The food was good to great and we had a wonderful time visiting. We feel so fortunate to have such good friends and only wish we got together more often. But life is like that sometimes. So we take what we can get and we’re grateful.

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Dinner with Friends

Mike, Krystal, Suzanne, Johnnie, Chrissy, Henry, Cathy, and Pam

Most of my photography is of plants, animals, or scenery but I do take pictures of people and events. While people-pictures are not my favorite photos in artistic terms and I definitely don’t consider myself a portrait or event photographer, that is definitely not a reflection of how I feel about my friends, family, or even acquaintances. These are some good friends. Mike and Krystal, in particular, we have known for upwards of 20 years and we don’t need much of an excuse to see them. The others in this photo we’ve only gotten to know relatively recently, but they are becoming good friends. It’s good to get together with friends from time to time, either to celebrate a birthday as we did this evening, or just to get together and talk and laugh, which we also did this evening.

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Hannah and David

Hannah and David

Hannah and David

Cathy and I were honored to be invited to Hannah and David’s wedding today. Interestingly, I got a call at about 11:00 this morning from one of the bridesmaids saying they were not going to have the wedding recorded. It was a bit of a last minute thing, but Elizabeth wanted to know if I would be able to supply some equipment to video it. Naturally I was happy to help and brought my old camera (Canon EOS 60D) and a tripod. We got it set up and I gave Christian about 10 minutes of training. The resulting video isn’t anything to write home about, but at least it exists and the audio is actually pretty good. I realized afterward that I should have brought my MP3 recorded and put that somewhere as well, but by then it was too late.

There were photographers taking photos but naturally I took a few myself. They won’t compete with the professional shots, but maybe I got a few angles they missed. Most of mine were taken at the reception, but I did take a few during the wedding ceremony itself. Here are Hannah and David, the happy couple.

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Dorothy and Friends

Bobby, Jackson, Megan, Grace, and Dorothy

Bobby, Jackson, Megan, Grace, and Dorothy

Dorothy had some friends in town for the weekend. Meg and Jackson arrived on Thursday evening and Dorothy brought them to our house to spend the night. Then on Friday they picked up Bobby and Grace and did some things downtown before heading out to some friends’ house on the bay. Friday and Saturday were cool and quite web, but then Sunday the weather turned sunny and beautiful (not that rain isn’t nice in its own way). They returned to our house late Sunday afternoon (today) and I fixed dinner for them. Before we ate, they posed as a group for a few pictures with the forsythia as a back drop.

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Dorothy and Dodgy

Dorothy and Dodgy

Dorothy and Dodgy

It was a busy day today. Dorothy and a friend of hers came and we helped Yvette move two things out of her parents’ condo. We got a sleep sofa into the van and put a bookcase on the roof rack. Getting the sofa through the doors was a tight fit but we managed. Then I went to the office for a few meetings and for the retirement party for my boss’s boss, Marsha. I took pictures there but thought I’d post this one, instead, taken in the evening of Dorothy and Dodgy. I’m not actually sure how they spell the dog’s name. It’s really ‘doggy’ as mispronounced by their young daughter.

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Dot’s Birthday

Dot's Birthday

Dot’s Birthday

The locals gathered for mom’s birthday late this afternoon. Tsai-Hong was good enough to offer to host. She ordered food from The Big Greek Cafe and Cathy and I picked it up (since it’s so close to our house). As usual, there was a bit of noise from the younger generation, but I think a good time was had by all. From left to right: Dot, Iris, Tsai-Hong, Seth with Eloise on his lap, and Dorothy (plus the top of Silus’ head in the lower right). The others were all outside the frame of the photograph.

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Cathy at Brighton Dam

Cathy at Brighton Dam

Cathy at Brighton Dam

We decided to walk around below Brighton Dam and Triadelphia Reservoir today. It was lovely out, although cool. We saw a heron on the river (the Patuxent), who flew downstream as we got closer. Later, when were were further down, we saw the heron again wading in the water with a few Canada geese (Branta canadensis) paddling around the same area. There were lots of little birds in the underbrush, as well. But I only had my 17-40mm lens, so close ups were not possible. On the far bank, camouflaged in the dried grass and weeds, was a fox. That was a treat. I can see it in a few of my photos but so small that it’s not worth posting any of those.

Cathy posed for me on this stone as we walked back up towards the parking area. Across the street from the parking lot and visitor center is the Brighton Azalea Garden, dedicated to Raymond W. Bellamy, Sr., the Chairman of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission from 1951 to 1955. “Mr. Bellamy took the first steps to start plantation of flowering trees and azaleas on the perimeter lands of this water supply lake. His idea ultimately blossomed to become this garden and offer this scenic by-product for the pleasure of the public.” At this point, it’s just evergreen shrubs. But come the spring, it’s really something to see.

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Cutting Stumps

Henry, with Chainsaw

Henry, with Chainsaw

I spent the day with Dorothy at Rocklands today. She has been clearing the undergrowth from an old fence line for a good while. It’s almost a quarter of a mile long and was quite overgrown in places, so it was a big job. Most of the brush has been cleared but some stumps needed to be cut closer to the ground. That was my task. This Stihl chainsaw was my dad’s and I’m very comfortable with it. It’s on the small side (only a 16″ bar) but for this sort of work, that’s actually better than something larger. As I get older, my upper body strength is a bit less than it used to be, as well, so if it were heavier, I’d give out that much sooner. I have it in for servicing a few weeks ago and it starts up very easily and runs very well.

While I worked on stumps, Dorothy pulled out the old fencing. It’s rusted and in places buried, going through an occasional tree. Getting all of that out is a big job. After I finished with the stumps (except for those I assume are still under the piles of brush) I moved Dorothy’s piles of wire to one spot where they can be loaded onto a truck and hauled away. It was a tiring day’s work but nice to be outdoors and away from the office.

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Another Christmas

Kaien, Eloise, and Silas

Kaien, Eloise, and Silas

After this morning’s breakfast and Christmas celebration with Margaret, we came home for a little while and then went to Dot’s for our second Christmas celebration, with the other side of the family. There were more people at this one, including these three lovely children (Dot’s great grandchildren), Kaien, Eloise, and Silas (from left to right). Although they were a little rowdy, they were not overly so, and a good time was had by all. We changed our menu from our traditional enchiladas and this year we had a taco bar as well as some baked salmon. That makes it easy for each person to customize the meal to their own preferences and dietary restrictions. We are very glad to have our family and enjoyed being with everyone on this special day.

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Christmas with Margaret

Christmas with Margaret

Christmas with Margaret

We had Christmas breakfast with Margaret today. Last night after we got home from the Christmas Eve service I made a quiche. This morning we took that, as well as croissants, orange juice, sparkling cider, and a few other things to Margaret’s room. We put a recording of a fireplace on her television and hung the stockings from the dresser, with presents laid out under them. It was a very festive and enjoyable time. David and Darius called shortly after this photo was taken and then after we ate, we opened presents.

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Christmas Eve Service

Singing By Candlelight

Singing By Candlelight

We went to the Christmas Eve service at Fourth this evening, opting for the 7:00 PM service instead of staying up for 11:00 PM as we did last year. It was a good service with good songs to sing and of course a message on the Christmas story. We are all so familiar with the story that it’s easy to take it for granted. But when the story was recorded, it was really not what you’d have expected. That is, it’s not your typical birth-of-a-king story. In fact, most of the story of the life of Jesus is different to what you might expect. We forget that because it’s so familiar. To me, this lends credence to the story rather than the opposite. If someone were simply making up a story, this is not what they’d come up with. It’s one of the reasons I believe it really happened this way.

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Santa’s Visit

Santa and Margaret

Santa and Margaret

We were visiting Margaret today when Santa came to her building. At first she didn’t want her picture taken but eventually she decided it would be alright. There was Christmas music being played on the piano in the living room while residents took their turns with Santa (and his dog, Mrs. Paws). After Santa left, presumably to visit the other buildings, the music continued and the residents enjoyed singing along. I also got some nice photos of Wil in his Naughty/Nice Christmas sweater.

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Live Nativity

Live Nativity

Live Nativity

I’ve posted photos a few times from the worship night’s that Dorothy organizes. This week we had a live nativity. No farm animals this time, but everyone was encouraged to come dressed as someone from the nativity story. Amanda read the story and when your character was introduced, you went up to the manger to play your role. Between the readings, we sang Christmas songs that celebrated the part of the story just read. This is the band, who lead the singing. From left to right, Andrew, Dorothy, Adam, Michael, and Greg. I think it was safe to say a good time was had by all.

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Suzanne’s Birthday Dinner

Mike, Krystal, Cathy, Suzanne, Chrissy, and Pam

Mike, Krystal, Cathy, Suzanne, Chrissy, and Pam

We had a wonderful dinner and Mike and Krystal’s house this evening, celebrating our friend Suzanne’s recent birthday. Krystal and Mike always deliver a wonderful meal and tonight was no exception, with individual-size beef Wellingtons being (in my humble opinion) the star of the show. But, also as usual, the food was incidental to the company, which was terrific. We had a great time of laughter and stories. We’re so fortunate to have these wonderful people as our friends.

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George, Carmela, and Chester

George, Carmela, and Chester

George, Carmela, and Chester

Iris and Seth hosted us for Thanksgiving this year and also cooked the turkey. George and Carmela drove down and arrived at around 1:00 PM. We had a lovely time visiting and of course eating. We had taken a good group photo at the beach and we decided that trying to get a good group photo today was not going to happen. Nevertheless, I took a good collection of photos of the festivities. I’m happy with this one of George and Carmela with their dog, Chester.

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Patrick and Karlee

Patrick and Karlee

Patrick and Karlee

As mentioned in the previous two posts, Cathy, Dorothy, and I are in Alabama for Karlee and Patrick’s wedding. The weather was a bit cooler than expected, even for this time of year, but they went ahead with their outdoor ceremony (under a pavilion roof but without walls). They provided hand warmers for anyone who needed them. With my suit coat, I was fine, although the girls were a bit chilly. After the service and before they came into the reception I was able to take a few photos of the bride and groom. So, may I present to you the happy couple.

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Karlee and Dorothy

Karlee and Dorothy

Karlee and Dorothy

We flew down to Birmingham Alabama this afternoon and the drove a little way to the rehearsal dinner for our dear friend, Karlee. We were a bit late due to flight schedule changes but there was still food available to us in the buffet. I took quite a few photos including a bunch of Karlee and Patrick with various friends. Although Cathy and I had met Patrick once, Dorothy had not before today. This was one of the last photos of the evening of Karlee and Dorothy.

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Zack and Lexi’s New Place

Jean, Zack, Lexi, Dorothy, Cathy, and Henry

Jean, Zack, Lexi, Dorothy, Cathy, and Henry

We went to dinner at Zack and Lexi’s place this evening. They live in a part of town we aren’t familiar with but we had no real trouble finding it, with the help of our trusty GPS. Traffic was slow at times, but that’s to be expected inside the beltway during evening rush hour. Jean and Dorothy also met us there. The original purpose of the visit was to load a sofa into Dorothy’s van (well, our van but her car is in the shop so she has our van). Once we did that, with a little three-dimentional Tetris, we went in and had a very lovely dinner and evening with our friends. This photo was taken with the camera sitting on the kitchen counter, so the angle is a little odd, but it turned out pretty well, in spite of that.

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Kaien, Silas, and Eloise

Kaien, Silas, and Eloise

Kaien, Silas, and Eloise

My cousin and his daughter were in town this weekend. Iris and Seth hosted a dinner for them and the local family, which was really nice. We had carry-out from a Thai place. After dinner I took some photographs, including this one of the three youngest. It’s difficult to get a photo of them all looking at the camera and also not cringing from the flash. I’ll come clean and confess that this one is a composite of two images. Eloise wasn’t smiling in the best one of Kai and Silas, so I pulled her face from another image. I think it’s a pretty good shot.

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Adam and Dorothy

Adam and Dorothy

Adam and Dorothy

I took this photo of Adam and Dorothy before the worship evening today. Adam, when he can make it, adds his guitar skills and brings an added level of depth to the music. Shown here laughing before the evening got started, they sit at the ‘front’ of the room but really we sit in more of a circle. As you can see, Anna has decorated the mantle with more dahlias from her garden. I should mention that all of my photos taken on these occasions are by available light, which at times has been relatively low, so the ISO is often set accordingly high. Here is was set to 5,000, allowing me an exposure time of 1/80 of a second at f/4.0.

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More Visiting With Mom

Jim, Margaret, Cathy, Amy, Dorothy, and Henry

Jim, Margaret, Cathy, Amy, Dorothy, and Henry

As promised yesterday, here’s another photo of a visit with Cathy and Jim’s mom. This time, Dorothy joined us, as well as Jim’s friend Amy. We hadn’t met her before but really enjoyed meeting her and getting to know her a little. After our visit with Margaret (and after taking a few photos) we drove out to Rocklands and had Boxcar Burgers and a bottle of wine in the barn (it’s turned chilly). Anyway, back to this photo. I think it’s a really good picture of all of us, which is somewhat unusual.

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Jim Visits

Jim, Margaret and Cathy

Jim, Margaret and Cathy

Jim visited this weekend and we had a really nice time. Of course the main purpose of his visit was to see his mom. So, after his arrival late yesterday evening we headed over to see her this morning. Naturally I took a photo or two (and there will be another, larger group photo tomorrow). Our visit had to be cut short because of a memorial service that I wanted to go to. Jim and Cathy took naps in the afternoon and then he went to visit some other folks. All in all, it was a good day. Even the memorial was nice. Sad, of course, but nice.

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Margaret’s Birthday

Cathy and Margaret

Cathy and Margaret

Cathy and I took Margaret to lunch at Red Lobster today for her birthday. It was a lovely day and we had a nice time celebrating, although in a relatively subdued manner. We haven’t eaten at Red Lobster for a long time and even had to check that this location was still there. It’s not on our regular route and even when we do drive by, we generally don’t pay attention to that. Cathy and I ate there the evening after we got married, so we know it’s been there at least 38 years. As you can see, we had a bit of a feast.

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Chrissy’s Birthday

Chrissy's Birthday

Chrissy’s Birthday

I’m late posting this and I suspect it will cause a little confusion on Instagram, where the posting date is so much different to the actual date listed for the photo. After church today we went to Krystal and Mike’s house, along with Suzanne, to celebrate Chrissy’s birthday. It was an absolutely lovely day and we sat on their patio a while eating fresh figs from Mike’s tree. Then we retired to the dining room where we had a wonderful meal. The highlight wasn’t the food, though, it was the company. We had a great time talking and laughing and generally just being together. Thanks again, Krystal and Mike, for including us.

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Lexi and Zack

Lexi and Zack

Lexi and Zack

What a wonderful day and what a beautiful wedding. To say nothing of the lovely bride. We were a little surprised to be greeted with flowers and reserved seats in the second row. We didn’t have any actual duties but were happy to be there as our goddaughter Lexi was married to Zack. It’s also the first time we’ve been in The Falls Church Anglican since they finished their new sanctuary building. It’s quite large and we didn’t come close to filling it. The reception was also nice and we saw lots of friends. Now we look forward to visiting the young bride and groom at their new home.

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Old Time Jam

Old Time Jam

Old Time Jam

One of the events we enjoy at Rocklands Winery is their Old Time Jam. It happens roughly once a month and you can check out their calendar for specific dates. Bring a picnic dinner and enjoy a bottle of wine as a group of musicians play. It’s a very friendly atmosphere, the music is lovely, and the wine goes down very well. One of Dorothy’s friends joined in for the first time this evening, so that was an additional draw for us. In the summer they are out on the lawn but now that it’s getting cooler, they’ve moved into the barn.

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Visiting Grandma

Margaret, Dorothy, Laura, and Cathy

Margaret, Dorothy, Laura, and Cathy

Laura came for a visit this weekend, flying in from Atlanta on her way back to New York. We visited with grandma twice on Saturday and she went again Sunday morning before we took her to the train station for the rest of her journey home. We had a lovely time and, as you can see (and won’t be surprised to learn) I took a photo of the girls. Naturally they complained that I wasn’t in the photograph, but that’s pretty much they way it goes (and I really don’t mind).

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Evening Light

Evening Light

Evening Light

We were out at Anna’s for an evening of singing. The light was beautiful as it filtered through the trees onto the lovely, stone building. I was afraid the dynamic range would be too much but this photo captures it pretty well, I think. It lasted about five minutes and then was gone. The structure was built circa 1817 but by 1940, only a stone shell remained. It was rehabilitated in the 1940s for residential use and that’s when the current doors, wi11dows, hardware, etc. were installed. It was built as the Seneca Baptist Church and is one of the oldest Baptist Churches in Montgomery County.

In addition to Dorothy, Adam, Michael, and Andrew came and played while we all sang into the evening. A good time was had by all. At least I think so. I certainly enjoyed myself.

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The Family

The Family

The Family

On thing we try to do every time we go to the beach is take a family photo. Some years there have been fewer, a few years there have been more. We’re actively missing Albert and Ralph, of course. And for years, Dorothy’s friend Karlee came with us. But we also have the three little ones and this is Eloise’s first time at the beach. After two summers without a beach trip, it was great to be able to be together this year. We’re also thankful for David driving across the country to stay here with his (and Cathy’s) mom while we were away. It didn’t end up being exactly what he had expected but he took it all in stride, as he usually does.

Starting at the back, left to right, we have Cathy, Dorothy, Tsai-Hong, Eloise, Seth, Steve, Silas, Iris, Kai, Maya, George, Dot, Danna, Carmela, and yours truely.

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Rob, Susie, and Craig

Rob, Susie, and Craig

Rob, Susie, and Craig

It’s worth keeping up with old friends. Old friends in the sense of friends we’ve known for a long time. This fall I’ll have known Rob (on the left in this photo) for 50 years, having met him in September, 1972, at the beginning of eighth grade when my family moved back here from England. I couldn’t tell you exactly when I met Craig (on the right) but I would guess sometime in the spring or summer of 1974, after I started going to Fourth Presbyterian Church. So, we go back a good way. Cathy and I stayed with Craig in Japan in February of 1988 as the first stop in our 7.5 month around-the-world trip. (Sadly my first few rolls of film from that trip never made it back.) We’ve known Susie the shortest time, but that’s only relative. We’ve know her since she moved to the area, about the time she and Rob became an item. We see Craig less often, partly for the obvious reason that he spends so much time in Japan. It was great to get together with them and get caught up, even a little.

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Our Garden

Cathy in Our Back Garden

Cathy in Our Back Garden

I’m posting this more than a month after it was taken. As you can see, we have a little bit of black-eyed Susan in our back garden. If you don’t like yellow you might not like our garden in late July. Thankfully, we’re happy with that color and the difficulty is keeping it under control rather than keeping it alive. It does have a tendency to move about on its own and we’ve even started pulling it out in a few places. This photo has a single tiger lily in the center. That’s nice but the big clump of them in the front yard it really the way this should be grown. It’s quite amazing for about three weeks in late July. We’ve also had a pretty successful summer with our elephant ear. Last year’s didn’t really do anything but I’m happy with this one and hopefully can keep it alive for the years ahead.

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First Cousins

Dot, Mary Ellen, Anne, LaClaire, and Glenn

Dot, Mary Ellen, Anne, LaClaire, and Glenn

Mom and I drove down to North Carolina this morning for our annual family reunion. Last year’s was out doors but with the forecast calling for temperatures above 100°F, it was moved into the meetinghouse hall, which I think was a good choice. Although we didn’t take a full-group photo, we did took photos of each generation. This is the first of those, with the remaining five first cousins. When I was growing up, the oldest generation was the five sets of parents of these folks. The last of them, Aunt Mary, died in 2010 at the age of 104. Of the eleven children—the first cousins—five remain, with mom (Dot) being the oldest. It’s great to see them all together and also good to see the next three generations still getting together every year.

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Daniel and Renee

Daniel and Renee

Daniel and Renee

Two posts back I had a picture of the bouquets that Dorothy made for Renee and her bridesmaids. Today we see the lovely bride and her new husband. The wedding was delayed a little, as we were late getting there with the last of the flowers, but it was lovely. Daniel and Renee look pretty happy, as you’d hope and expect. You can see the flowers even better in this photo than in the previous one.

From the church we went to a friend’s yard, where the tent was set up and where we had decorated with more flowers. We had pizza cooked in a woodburning oven on a trailer (among other foods). I was honored to be allowed to be part of such a festive occasion.

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Carly and Jon

Carly and Jon

Carly and Jon

As mentioned in my previous post, we drove up to Lititz, Pennsylvania after work yesterday. This morning Rob, Cathy, and I went into Lititz proper and walked around a bit. Rob and Cathy bought a few things, including some Wilbur chocolate. My tastes are a little different and I bought some unusual meats from The Savory Gourmet. I got a pound each of camel and kangaroo. We’ll see. Not cheap, but also not something you see every day so worth a splurge.

The main event was at 3:00 and the wedding itself was lovely. The reception was at the Brick Gables, which appears to be a restored barn. We had hors d’oeuvre outside and then moved in for the actual reception. This photo, as you have probably guessed, is of Carly and Jon at the head table. After a few speeches and a little talking, we had a nice dinner. The bulk the reception was taken up with dancing, which was loud, as you might expect. I took quite a few photos and we had a nice time. By the time we got back to our BnB we were nicely tired and ready to sleep.

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Silas and Two Goats

Silas and Two Goats

Silas and Two Goats

We went up to Pennsylvania today along with the rest of the family. Some had gone up the day before and spent the night, which was nice although the youngest apparently woke up in the middle of the night and cried a bit, making sleep a little rough for the rest. It was a very hot day but always good to be there. Mom and I finished putting the new screen up on the porch and Dorothy did a good bit of weeding in the flower bed in front of the cabin. Other than that, we mostly just sat around, ate, and talked. Standard fare for a day at ‘the farm’. We walked over to our neighbors’ house to see their goats. There were a few young kids that could get through the fence quite easily and although we tried to keep them in, they’d simply come out again. I took advantage of the situation and took a few photographs, including this one of Silas with two goats.

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Hannah and Thea

Hannah and Thea

Hannah and Thea

I went to the evening service with Dorothy today. Tommy had asked if I might come and take some photos during the dessert fellowship after the service. This is something they started in the summer of last year (or maybe the year before) and tonight was the kickoff for this summer. I took quite a few photos but many of them are of people I don’t know. I know these two, at least a little. They are Hannah and Thea. It was a lovely evening. The dessert provided was a wide variety of cupcakes. Apparently last year they kicked it off with ice cream and then, as fortune would have it, it was unseasonably cold and ice cream wasn’t as popular as it might have been. So, this year they didn’t take any chances with that. It would have been fine, as it turns out.

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Dorothy, Justin, Sara, and Cathy

Dorothy, Justin, Sara, and Cathy

Dorothy, Justin, Sara, and Cathy

Washington Christian Academy was having a event today that combined a few events they’ve had separately in more normal years. In addition to the standard was the fact that this is WCA’s 60th anniversary year, so there were activities celebrating that fact. We were later getting there than we had planned because we stopped to put air in a partially flat tire of a semi-stranded motorist. We also didn’t really stay all that long, but it was sure good to see a few friends. Bill, the former headmaster, was there and seeing him and chatting briefly was a real treat. We also ran into Justin and Sara as we were about to leave, which is when this photo was taken.

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Carolyn and Paul

Carolyn and Paul

Carolyn and Paul

I visited Paul and Carolyn last June (see Wednesday, June 23, 2021) and Dorothy and I went to see them again this afternoon. It was a lovely visit, including having their eldest and youngest children (who are adults, of course) there with us. If you know the Ks then chances are you love the Ks. I know I certainly do. They mean so much to me and have meant a lot to a lot of folks over the years. Dorothy is now (quite a bit) older than I was when I first met them, which was back in 1974. We talked quite a bit about what Dorothy is doing and what her plans are for the future. It was a great time and something we should do more often.

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Dot, Steve, and Iris

Dot, Steve, and Iris

Dot, Steve, and Iris

We had a family get together today, outside in the big tent that’s set up where mom lives. It was quite warm when we got there so it was nice to be in the shade of the tent. Then a storm rolled through and it came down in buckets so it was even nicer to be under cover. The little ones enjoyed getting wet in the rain. In this photo, Iris (right) is trying to convince Steve (center) that he should be a contestant on Survivor. As you might be able to tell from his expression, he’s not convinced. And Dot (left) is amused by the whole thing.

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Cathy Visits the Ponies

Cathy Visits the Ponies

Cathy Visits the Ponies

One more post for today. After our wandering around the western part of the county and visit to Susanna Farm Nursery, we came back to where Dorothy was staying and took the dog for a longish walk. It was warm but really pretty out. There is an abandoned house at the back of the property and there were two black vultures in the upstairs and they weren’t happy when we came close. We didn’t go inside. After we got back, Cathy spent some time grooming a couple of the ponies. I enjoyed sitting on the porch and chatting with Dorothy. All in all, a very pleasant day.

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Beallsville Cemetery Chapel

Beallsville Cemetery Chapel

Beallsville Cemetery Chapel

We met Dorothy out in Poolesville today after she spent the night and took care of the animals for a friend. After breakfast we drove out to Beallsville and stopped at the cemetery there. This photo of Dorothy and Cathy was taken outside the chapel there. I also got a few photos of the stained glass from inside, but thought I’d go with this informal portrait, instead. The cemetery was incorporated May 27, 1862 and the you can find more information about it on the BeallsvilleCemetery.org website. That web site has a scanned copy of the cemetery charter, as amended in 1912. There are also quite a few photos on Find-a-Grave. We weren’t looking for any grave in particular but did wander about a bit, looking at the stones. It was a beautiful day and we like cemeteries, particularly old cemeteries.

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Worship

Worship

Worship

Dorothy and Anna have been planning to host a regular, bi-weekly worship night and tonight was their inaugural event. Attendance was light but for those who came, I think it was a really nice time. Dorothy and Adam played guitar (and occasionally the piano or the cajón, as Dorothy is doing in this photo). Greg came a little later and added the bass to the mix. We all used our phones to find the lyrics to songs we didn’t know. Eventually we’ll have something a little more organized, but it worked pretty well. This photo is a little grainy, because I didn’t want to use the flash. The ISO was set to 10,000, taken with a shutter speed of 1/80 second at f/4.5.

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Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers

In September of 2019 we bought and planted a hawthorn, Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’ in the bed that used to have a Colorado blue spruce. Then in April of 2020, we added a Viburnum carlesii to the same bed. Over the years I’ve also planted quite a few daffodils in that bad. The hawthorn isn’t shown in this photo but the viburnum is, to Cathy’s right (left in the photo). The daffodils in the foreground are called ‘Lemon Beauty’. And the ‘stone’ rabbit came from Cathy’s parents’ yard when their house was sold.

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Johnny and Stephanie

Johnny and Stephanie

Johnny and Stephanie

Johnny and Stephanie came to see D.C. this weekend. They stayed with Dorothy but she stopped by with them after she picked them up at the airport. It’s nice to have visitors and especially nice as we’ve been so isolated the last couple years. Dorothy met Stephanie when she was in college (Dorothy was in college, Stephanie had just graduated) and they got to know each other. Then it turns out Stephanie’s family actually knew Dorothy’s grandma (Cathy’s mom). And the organization Stephanie’s dad helps run is named for the pastor that married Cathy and me. Small world.

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Steve, Maya, and Danna

Steve, Maya, and Danna

Steve, Maya, and Danna

We got together for Tsai-Hong’s birthday this evening and as always I took pictures of the family. Usually I get a lot more of the kids than of the adults but I try to include everyone at least now and then. I think this one of Steve, Maya, and Danna turned out well so here you are. It’s been a hard few years with the restrictions, both official and self-imposed and I’m really glad we’re getting together in person again. I’m happy for the technology that lets us talk to and even see each over remotely but it’s not remotely the same.

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Just Hanging Out

Thea, Elizabeth, and Grant

Thea, Elizabeth, and Grant

We stopped at Dorothy’s this evening and some of her housemates and other friends were just hanging out in the family room. I happened to have my camera with me, as I often do, and Elizabeth asked if I had taken any pictures today. I had not, so I got out my camera and flash and took a few of them lounging on the sofa. It’s not exactly a formal portrait but it’s a day in the life. After that, Dorothy, Lydia, Donna, Cathy, and I went to Bethesda to get some dinner.

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Dorothy and Cathy at Dumbarton Oaks

Dorothy and Cathy at Dumbarton Oaks

Dorothy and Cathy at Dumbarton Oaks

We haven’t been to Dumbarton Oaks in a long time but we decided to take a trip now, before everything is out, to see how it looks out of season. It’s not nearly as spectacular this time of year, of course, but there were some things in bloom. It’s also really nice to see the bones on which the garden rests. I took quite a few photos and really like this one of Dorothy and Cathy siting on a bench. You have to make reservations and book a time but out of season it’s free. Even in season it’s only $7, which isn’t bad value.

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Adjustable Bed

Cathy in Our New Adjustable Bed

Cathy in Our New Adjustable Bed

We had a really nice windfall this week. A friend of ours helps people get rid of things from their homes and yards. He called me the other day and said he had been asked to take this adjustable bed from a home after the person it was bought for passed away. It’s brand new and was never actually used. We moved it into our garage but between then and when I’m writing this (in April) it has been moved into Margaret’s room and it makes it much easier for her to sit up in bed for eating, reading, or watching TV.

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Korean BBQ

Dorothy, Nadia, Lexi, and Cathy

Dorothy, Nadia, Lexi, and Cathy

We met Dorothy, Nadia, and Lexi for Korean BBQ this evening at 9292 Korean BBQ in Annandale. It was a lot of fun and the food was terrific. With my diet being so protein heavy and carb light, it was a good meal for me. At the same time, even as it is, I need to control my portion, especially now as I’ve lost 50 pounds. So, it’s not like I could eat here with impunity. But once in a while it’s nice to have a real treat and the food was really good. I was surprised by the pork neck, which I’ve never had before. Very good flavor. Recommended (but not cheap).

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Dot’s Birthday

Dot's Birthday

Dot’s Birthday

We got together for mom’s (Dot’s) birthday this evening. We weren’t able to last year, with all the restrictions. That is to say, we probably could have but we didn’t. It’s great to be able to do this again. The funniest thing is that mom made and brought her own birthday cake. She also brought presents (quilts that she had made but not yet delivered). Regardless, it was a really nice family dinner and we need to do this more, again. And thanks to Tsai-Hong for ordering and picking up the food.

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Cathy at Lake Needwood

Cathy at Lake Needwood

Cathy at Lake Needwood

We went for a walk at Lake Needwood this morning, starting at Needwood Mansion and walking around the south end of the lake as far as the boat house. It was a chilly day and mostly overcast, but nice to be outdoors. This bear is near the boat house and I think I’ve posted a photo of Cathy with it once before (quick check, yep, see Sunday, December 02, 2018). But that’s okay, I’m allowed to repeat. And the pictures are different, in any case. The only constant is change.

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Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Cathy, Reading Over a Man’s Shoulder

A young friend of ours scheduled her wedding on January 2 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We made plans to go, of course, and were prepared to take Covid tests before going in to the wedding. Sadly, both the groom and a number of family members all tested positive for Covid. The wedding went on but they were forced to make it a very small, private wedding. Nevertheless, we had planned a day off from work (tomorrow) and we had a hotel reservation, so we drove up to Lancaster for a short get away. This is a sculpture by J. Seward Jonhson in Steinman Park, on W. King Street (Lincoln Highway) in down town Lancaster.

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New Year’s Day Fondue Party

Fondue Dinner Party

After finishing up year eleven of my photo blog (and the first year NOT to have a picture taken every day), I got a bit lax about posting. I’ve taken photos on twelve days in January but I’m only getting around to posting them now, on February 2. They’ll continue to be dated the date the photo was taken, of course.

We had our annual New Year’s Day fondue party today, ringing in the new year with good friends and good food. Due to concerns about Covid among some of our regular crowd, we had a slightly different group of attendees this year. It’s always good to mix things up a bit and it was a really nice time.

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Cathy

Cathy

Cathy

Last year I posted my final photo-a-day photo after ten years of taking at least one picture every day. That photo, like the first ten years earlier, was of Cathy on a walk we took on the North Branch Rock Creek, leaning against a large sycamore tree. We actually took the same walk today, a year later. The Kengla trail runs from the Kengla House, which is across the street from the entrance to Meadowside Nature Center, north to and under the Intercounty Connector (the ICC, MD 200). There it meets the Rock Creek trail, which crosses the creek. We took the right hand side—we didn’t cross the creek—and followed that up a side creek past a large drainage pond to the Norbeck Meadows Neighborhood Park, between Valley Forge Drive and Custis Drive, both off of George Washington Drive, a little further than we went on last year’s walk. It’s a nice walk and fairly easy.

Cathy

Cathy

Our favorite spot is a small side creek that has two, very large sycamores growing on the bank, with the creek going between them. The photo of Cathy I posted on December 31 last year was taken there and took a few more of her there again today. The first of them is Cathy just above where the two trees are and the second is standing next to the tree on the southern side of the small creek. I’m pretty pleased with them both.

This year has been a challenge and I don’t think I need to elaborate on why. The restrictions imposed in response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic have become quite tiresome. We continue to work mostly from home, although we both go to the office now and then. I try to shop for groceries early on Sunday morning when the store is least crowded (not least because I simply dislike crowds). We have tried to get out and walk as much as possible and did that most weekends. We also managed to get away for a few days, as you may remember from early October. We’re surviving, obviously, but there are times when we just want to take a break from it all. Nevertheless, we continue to soldier on as best we can. Here’s to a better year in 2022.

God bless you all.

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Dorothy and Lexi

Dorothy and Lexi

Dorothy and Lexi

We went over to see Cathy’s best friend Jean and her daughter (our goddaughter) Lexi this evening. We were especially glad to get a chance to finally meet Lexi’s fiancé, Zach. He was down from New York for Christmas so we planned an evening together. We couldn’t be happier for them both. I fixed panang curry and rice and we spent the evening laughing and telling stories. There were a few presents exchanged but mostly it was presence, not presents. I took pictures with my new camera and like this one of Dorothy and Lexi. I took a few of Lexi with Zach, too but decided to go with this one for now.

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Cathy, Dorothy, and Henry

Cathy, Dorothy, and Henry

Cathy, Dorothy, and Henry

It’s a little surprising, considering how many pictures I take, that we don’t have a lot of pictures of the three of us. A bit part of it is that we either need a tripod set up or we need someone else to actually take the picture. Neither happens regularly. We do set up the tripod for larger family photos sometimes but by the time we’ve taken the big group photo no one wants to sit for more. In this case, George took the pictures for us. I’m not crazy about pictures of myself, but at least with the weight I’ve lost recently I don’t hate them quite so much. This one is actually pretty decent.

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Flower Valley Santa

Flower Valley Santa

Flower Valley Santa

We were out for much of the day and when we got home we remembered that this was the night that Santa rides through Flower Valley in his ‘sleigh’. Fortunately we weren’t too late to catch his visit. Some of our neighbors had put out snacks and such and a lot of the neighbors from our block were already there with their kids, waiting for the big man’s arrival. I took a few pictures, as I usually do, and got a fairly decent one, balancing the flash with the lights from Santa’s sleigh.

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Abba and Josh

Abba and Josh

Abba and Josh

We spent much of today downtown with Dorothy, Abba, and Josh. We went first to the American Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum, housed in the same building between 7th and 9th streets in northwest Washington. We wondered through most of the museum and wore ourselves out pretty well. We had a late lunch and then drove to Constitution Avenue and parked around 21st Street. From there we walked to the Lincoln Memorial.

The sun was setting across the river and the light on the Washington Monument was really nice. I got a few nice pictures of that but my favorite was this one of Abba and Josh, on the west side (rear) of the Lincoln Memorial, lit by the setting sun. After we returned to the front of the memorial we watched a woman who was clearly waiting to photograph a proposal, anxious on her behalf at the couple’s delay. The scene and frankly our enjoyment of the evening was somewhat marred by a demonstration by a far left, National Socialist, neo-Nazi group. I won’t give them any press, because they deserve to be unknown. I did take pictures, of course, but won’t share those.

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Josh and Abba

Josh and Abba

Josh and Abba

As mentioned yesterday, Abba and Josh came for a short visit. Josh, in particular, enjoyed my various three-dimensional puzzles. We have two copies of this one, with six identical pieces each and the two of them worked on it for a while. This was not the one that gave him the most frustration but as with anything of this sort, finally figuring it out can be very satisfying. The one that really occupied him was two crossed pieces and a square piece held in the intersection of the two (a bit hard to describe, actually). But he finally got that one taken apart, as well.

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Pigs

Josh, Abba, Dorothy, and Friends

Josh, Abba, Dorothy, and Friends

Abba and Josh flew down today to spend a long weekend here. Sadly Cathy had to work late this evening but Dorothy, Josh, Abba, and I drove out to Rocklands. Abba’s been there before but Josh had not. They were closed but since Dorothy is on the payroll (and is almost family) we went to see the animals. Dorothy isn’t crazy about the pigs, at least not when there isn’t a fence between her and them, but I’m a little more bold, as you can see from where I’m taking this photo. We also enjoyed a beautiful Poolesville sunset before heading back home.

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A New Hobby

Eloise on the Hobbyhorse

Eloise on the Hobbyhorse

Brady was in Frederick with her family for Thanksgiving but drove down today for a visit with us. We met at mom’s apartment and had a really nice time. This was, I believe, the first time Eloise has bounced on her great grandma’s hobbyhorse. This was made by my grandfather, Eloise’s great, great grandfather, using a leaf spring as the main component. The spring was actually replaced at some point, in the late 1980s if my memory is correct, when the old sprint snapped (this was not made for an adult, even in play). As you can see, Eloise enjoyed it.

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Thanksgiving, 2021

Thanksgiving, 2021

Thanksgiving, 2021

We were very glad to be able to have a “regular” Thanksgiving again this year. With the addition of David, Darius, and Maggie, it was an especially festive time. Steve, Maya, and Kaien were at Maya’s mom’s, and we missed them, of course. We managed to get the group photo taken before we ate, which was good because it was dark before we finished eating. Needless to say, it was hectic, but as always, loads of fun. I cooked a 19 pound turkey and everyone else brought things to share. Most of the leftovers were left with us, so we’ll be eating them for a while. Sadly, David, Darius, and Maggie leave tomorrow, but it’s been a real treat having them here.

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Darius

Darius at Rocklands

Darius at Rocklands

David, Darius, and Maggie drove out from New Mexico, covering nearly 1,900 miles in two long days. It was a surprise for Cathy, who didn’t know they were coming until they called yesterday afternoon. Darius said he’d like to come visit us again and Cathy said that would be great. He asked, “How about tonight?” She was thrilled. So, they arrived late last evening.

This afternoon we went out to Rocklands for a while. It’s a bit chilly out but with their many fire pits and circles, it’s really not too bad. Darius was not so cold that he didn’t want a pop-cicle. Darius also enjoyed seeing the chickens and ducks, and one of the cats climbed up into David’s lap and sat there quite happily for a good while. I also took some pictures of Darius jumping between the huge tires they have in a kids play area.

When we got home we ordered carry-out from the Big Greek Cafe. Good times.

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Cathy and Yvette

Cathy and Yvette

Cathy and Yvette

We celebrated Cathy’s birthday with a few friends on Tuesday evening. Then this evening we celebrated again with our good and long-time friend Yvette. We don’t get together as often as we should and of course the Covid induced lock-downs haven’t made it any easier. Nevertheless, we met at IHOP this evening. It was great to get caught up. Her parents have moved out of the house she grew up in an moved to a condo in a retirement community, which has meant a lot of work for her, as well as for them. They are still getting settled and the house is about to go on the market, so hopefully things will calm down a bit now.

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New Members

New Members at Fourth

New Members at Fourth

Dorothy and quite a few of her fellow fellows from the first Fourth Fellows Program decided to stick around and become members of the church. Although we were never regular attenders there during Dorothy’s lifetime, Dorothy has strong attachments to the church dating to throughout her life. Cathy had to work late this evening but I went and enjoyed hearing the testimonies of some of the new members (including Dorothy, of course). I took three photos of the entire group and stitched them together to make this single panoramic image.

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Cathy’s Birthday

Cathy's Birthday

Cathy’s Birthday

We had a few friends over for dinner this evening to celebrate Cathy’s birthday. Rob and Susie came, as well as Jean. And of course Dorothy was here. She had asked for a vegetarian dish that we like, broccoli and tofu in a peanut sauce, so I made that. I also made mango and sticky rice for dessert. I did buy a cupcake so we’d have something to put a candle in, as seen here. It was a low key celebration with a few friends of our longest acquaintance. Exactly the sort of party we enjoy most.

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Halloween

Our Neighbors

Our Neighbors

It’s been a while since we did a lot for Halloween. When Dorothy was little, we’d usually go out with Rick, Melissa, and their two girls in their neighborhood. We haven’t done that since Dorothy was 11. She went out a few times after that when she was in middle school but going out trick-or-treating has been a thing of the past for a while now. When we moved into this neighborhood it wasn’t filled with children. We’d get a handful of groups of slightly older kids, assuming we even bothered to stay home for them. Sometimes we go to one of our parents’ houses and give out candy there, instead.

Our Neighbors

Our Neighbors

Recently, however, the neighborhood, particularly our immediate neighborhood, has turned over and there are a lot of kids. We have really enjoyed having them all around us, although I must admit it sometimes makes me feel a bit old (I suppose that’s mostly because I am old, but whatever). It was clear that there would be more kids out this year and there were. I took a few pictures of the neighbors on both sides of us, all dressed up and ready to go. We’re really fortunate to have such nice neighbors and we love to be able to hear their children playing.

We sat in the driveway and gave out candy to over 50 kids. Next year, assuming it isn’t raining, we’ll probably bring the fire pit around and have that going. One other cool thing was that we had a barred owl (Strix varia) perch in our tree while we were out there.

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A Quick Visit With Abba and Josh

Abba

Abba

Cathy and I managed to get away for a few days in early October. It had been nearly two years since we were away with the exception of one night away at a family reunion on my side. While that was great fun, it wasn’t the same as getting away for a simple vacation with little to no agenda. Today we drove up to New Hampshire, stopping in Scarsdale to see and take a few photos of a house that was once owned by someone Cathy is fairly certain is in her family tree (a some-number-of-greats uncle). Then we continued to Providence where we visited and had dinner with Abba and Josh. It was a really nice visit, but all too short because we still had nearly 100 miles to go after dinner. But of course I took a few pictures. There is a pretty good one of both Abba and Josh, and another of Cathy with them, but I like this picture best. Abba, wearing a floppy hat that belonged to her Aunt Elisabeth in the 1960s and chilling on the chair and with her feet on the camel saddle foot stool from her grandparents’ house.

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Margaret’s Birthday Dinner

Margaret, Cathy, Ron, and Dorothy

Margaret, Cathy, Ron, and Dorothy

I’m nearly a month behind in my posting but here’s a picture from September 23. For Margaret’s slightly belated birthday dinner I made qaubili pilau and chicken. The chicken was in pretty huge pieces (as you can see on my plate on the right. I made a big batch of pilau which is flavored with a spice mix with equal amounts of the five Cs, which are cinnamon, cloves, cumin, cardamom, and coriander plus a half measure of black pepper, and a pinch of saffron for color (and if you have both green and black cardamom, that’s even better, but I only had green). It also has thinly sliced onions and carrots plus golden raisins and my version has barberries, as well, which may not be traditional but it’s a nice addition, I think. Slivered almonds and pistachios finish it off. Anyway, everyone agreed it turned out pretty well. We had a really nice dinner and a good time celebrating Margaret’s birthday.

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Dinner With Friends

Annie, Jonathan, Ian, Susie, Rob, and Dorothy

Annie, Jonathan, Ian, Susie, Rob, and Dorothy

Cathy had to work late this evening so sadly she was not available to be at the dinner Dorothy and I shared with Annie, Ian, Jonathan, Susie, and Rob. We met at the Cactus Cantina in northwest Washington and had a lovely time. We don’t get together often enough, but we don’t all live close together, so it’s not always convenient. This is a group that’s had a few major trips together, including to Phoenix, Arizona and even more impressive, to Venice and Florence, Italy. I don’t know that we’ll be able to top those trips, but we can always dream.

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Jim’s Visit

Cathy, Dorothy, Henry, Jim, and Margaret

Cathy, Dorothy, Henry, Jim, and Margaret

Cathy’s brother Jim visited us for a long weekend and of course, before he left we had to take a group photo. We had a good time visiting some rural places and he and Cathy spent a lot of time going through pictures, papers, and other memorabilia from their family’s past. We went to the Agricultural Farm Park on Thursday, McKee-Beshers and Rocklands Farm Winery on Friday, and then Rockville Cemetery, Croyden Creek, and Redgate Park on Sunday. All in all, a very nice time.

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Sunflowers at McKee-Beshers

Cathy Amidst The Sunflowers

Cathy Amidst The Sunflowers

It started raining about mid-morning and we weren’t sure about going out but decided we’d go regardless. We drove to the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, which we’ve never visited before. They have four fields that they plant with sunflowers, although only two of them were planted this year. I don’t know if that’s normal or not. Sunflower area #4 was the more spectacular of the two (the weeds were taller than the sunflowers in field #2). We saw a few male (and a lot of female) indigo buntings in the field, which was really nice. There were also a lot of gold finches and cardinals on the flowers, as well as butterflies. We walked all the way around field #4 as well as near the ponds on the way to field #1. That field was planted with corn, but we actually enjoyed the ponds quite a bit, with their wildflowers, etc. Highly recommended.

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Family Reunion

Family Reunion

Family Reunion

We had our annual family reunion for the first time in two years. I don’t know if you noticed, but the last year was a bit out of the ordinary. You probably heard about it. It was on the news. Anyway, we didn’t meet last year but this year we did. We moved to an outdoor location. For me, this was more like old times, as this is the yard we often camped in when we visited back in the day. The weather cooperated, with lower than normal humidity and not as sweltering as it easily could have been. There were 51 people there in all, aged about 6 months to 90 years, and we managed to get a photo or two of the whole group. Thanks again to all those who put this together and especially to Lyn for all the work he did to give us such a nice place to gather.

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Tiger Lilies

Tiger Lilies

Tiger Lilies

The tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium) are blooming. These were all descended from bulbils that we took from lilies growing at my parent’s house. We started with just a couple and the rest came from those. We have them in a few different places in the yard but this is the largest group of them. they stand over six feet tall and they are pretty noticeable. Each year the group gets just a little larger. Last year I collected seeds, as well, although we never did anything with them. I may scatter some on our property in Pennsylvania. They should do well there.

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Rocklands In The Shade

Dot, Margaret, and Cathy

Dot, Margaret, and Cathy

We didn’t do a lot yesterday for Independence Day but we had the day off today so got to go out. It was a typical, hot, muggy July day. Yesterday was actually not as bad as today, when the temperature got up above 90°F. Nevertheless, we got our two moms out and enjoyed sitting outside in the shade, where the temperature was not so bad. Dorothy called while we were there, so it was nice for all of us to be able to talk with her. She and Renee got to Juneau on Saturday evening so were there for their Fourth of July parade.

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Cathy and Maureen at Rocklands

Cathy and Maureen

Cathy and Maureen

Cathy and I spent the evening at Rocklands Winery). I was there to take pictures for them, so we invited our good friend Maureen so that Cathy would have a companion when I went off to take pictures. We had burgers from Boxcar Burgers, a food truck that is often there (and if you think you don’t like pickled beets, you really should try a Boxcar Burger. Really good. We also had a glass each of Rocklands’ new Montevideo vintage, a very nice red wine. I’m not really a great person to recommend a wine to anyone, but this was very nice. It was an absolutely lovely evening, not too hot, and everyone there seemed to be having a really nice time. If you’re looking for something to do, you could do worse.

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Paul and Carolyn

Paul and Carolyn

Paul and Carolyn

I visited a couple old friends yesterday. I first met them in 1975 and while I don’t see them as often as I might, they are very dear to me. When I was in high school (and before and after that, for more years than I even know) they opened their house to as many high schoolers as wanted to come. I’m pretty sure that at one time it was every week but in my years there, it was once a month. For my group of friends, it was the place to be. We sat in the living room and talked about this and that, good times and hard times and how life is for us in these pandemical days. One of my favorite things was to work on a puzzle in their living room. It was an oasis of calm and quiet amidst the chaos. I could go on and on here, but I won’t. For those who don’t know Paul and Carolyn it wouldn’t mean much and for those who do, it’s not necessary. Suffice it to say they are among the best.

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Justin and Sara’s Wedding

Justin and Sara's Wedding

Justin and Sara’s Wedding

Without going into the details, we were sort of uninvited to a wedding today. Well, on Thursday, but the wedding was today. As a sop, we were invited to view the live-stream at the home of Doug and Kato, who graciously accepted us into their home along with a huge crowd of five other adults and two young boys (not all shown here, obviously).

When I was in Junior High, there was a guy in our Phys. Ed. class who dubbed the lower group—those of us with less athletic ability—the Double-O Nummies. I’m not sure where the name came from, possibly from this guy’s fertile imagination. Anyway, I think we were the Double-O Nummies of wedding guests. Also, the live stream froze just before the bride came down the aisle, so we never saw her or the rest of the ceremony. But the Champagne was cold and we were in an air conditioned house. Just the small thing of not actually seeing the wedding.

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Silas Turns Three

Silas Turns Three

Silas Turns Three

Silas had his third birthday earlier this week and we all got together for a family dinner and a birthday party. It had been planned for last weekend but kids and infections don’t necessarily work to a schedule. The weather was nice and we were both inside and out for the party. Iris had a huge bubble wand and made giant bubbles, which Silas and Kaien really loved. We had a nice dinner from Don Pollo and the cake that Iris made for Silas—a rainbow cake with candy in the middle. There was also a piñata and of course. Some of us (well, one of us) even had cicada for dessert.

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Cathy and Jean at Scott’s Run Falls

Cathy and Jean at Scott's Run Falls

Cathy and Jean at Scott’s Run Falls

We met up with Jean today for a walk. I found a new place that we’ve drive by without noticing up until now. It’s just into Virginia and right off the Capitol Beltway on Georgetown Pike. The hike was pleasant, although there’s a significant climb both ways down to the river. This waterfall is where Scott’s Run empties into the Potomac River. We also walked a little way down the river before retracing our steps back to the parking area. It’s a nice, quiet place and we really enjoyed it. Of course, that may have been the company, as much as the location. It’s always good to be with Jean.

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Margaret and Cathy

Margaret and Cathy

Margaret and Cathy

We went to the Agricultural Farm Park today, taking Cathy’s mom with us. We went up through the Master Gardeners’ demonstration garden and then sat for a while in the shade garden. It was a beautiful day and really nice to be out. From there we went to Laytonsville and bought ice cream at The Family Room. We were parked in the shade and we sat in the car and watched the bicyclists putting their bikes back onto or into their cars and chatting in the parking lot. All in all, a nice, relaxing afternoon outing.

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The Fellows Finale

The First Fourth Fellows

The First Fourth Fellows

Last fall, Dorothy joined 11 other young adults as one of the first to participate in Fourth Presbyterian Church’s Fellows program. I posted a photo of the six young women on Monday, October 19, 2020. This evening there was a banquet to end their nine month program and I took a few more pictures. This is the First Fourth Fellows class, the class of 2021. It was great to be invited (even if it was mostly for my camera) and Cathy and I had a nice time hanging out with everyone. From left to right, back row: Clement, Grant, Boyde, Tony, David, and Justin; front row, Emily, Thea, Dorothy, Lydia, Genna, and Elizabeth.

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Bouncing Kaien

Kaien

Kaien

For the first time in over a year, the locals got together for a family dinner without masks. We got together once early last fall but met outdoors and wore masks most of the time. Now that we’re all vaccinated (except for the youngest), we were able to get together and have it be like old times. It only felt strange for a minute and then it seemed normal again. And right. We had a nice dinner but the main thing was being together.

Kaien and Silas were in good form and we enjoyed seeing and holding Eloise, as well. Here’s Kai bouncing on the sofa. Clearly he bounced higher than I expected and this is the only one where his head isn’t completely chopped off. We expect to have many more gatherings like this in the weeks to come. It’s been a crazy year but I think we’re finally coming out of it.

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Glen With A Duckling

Glen With A Duckling

Glen With A Duckling

It was duckling rental pick-up day where Dorothy works and we went out to help. Mostly I took pictures but I did help with the actual process for a bit. Cathy did more than I did. But having pictures is nice, of course. This is Luke, nephew of the farmer, and all around cute kid. He and his sister posed for me a few times with ducklings.

The weather was beautiful and we had a great time being out on the farm. It was well organized and went very smoothly, although the place got a little busier when the winery opened. We really enjoyed visiting with folks, especially Glen’s parents and grandparents, and while we were tired by the end of the day, it was a day well spent. Chick rental is coming up, followed by turkey rental. It’s amazing to see how much they grow in a week. Educational and fun. And the kids enjoy it, too!

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Josh, Julia, and Lupin

Josh, Julia, and Lupin

Josh, Julia, and Lupin

We visited our friends, Josh and Julia today and met their new dog, Lupin. They’ve moved into a nice house and it was great to see them getting settled in. They also helped us with some furniture moving, which was really nice. We’re trying to get a few things moved out of a storage unit and they got a couple other guys and provided the muscle (to go along with my brains?). Seriously, it’s really a lot easier when you have more people. Coming up on their third anniversary (and it’s already past by the time I’m actually posting this). Happy new house, kids!

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Bluebells with Rob and Susie

Bluebells with Rob and Susie

Bluebells with Rob and Susie

We met up with our good friends, Rob and Susie today and went for about a three mile walk through the woods. We were heading towards where we knew there would be Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and it was a lovely walk. We came upon a patch of yellow trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) as seen on Saturday, May 15, 2021. We had to walk further than I expected to get to the bluebells and we could have parked closer, but the walk through the woods was really nice, so it wasn’t a waste.

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Easter

Henry, Dorothy, and Cathy

Henry, Dorothy, and Cathy

We didn’t go to the sunrise service today but did go to the 11:00 outdoor service at Fourth Pres. It’s the first time Margaret has been to a morning service since the shutdown began back in March of last year, although she’s been to an evening service. Dorothy went to the sunrise service and then got there early to get us a good spot in the parking lot for the 11:00 service. It was a good service and we were all glad we went. When we got home, we took pictures in the front yard before going in. We don’t have a lot of good photos of the three of us, so I’m glad to have one more.

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Pennsylvania Work Day

Elizabeth Wielding The Chainsaw

Elizabeth Wielding The Chainsaw

We had our first official work day at the farm today. There were twenty people there in all. That including two pre-teenagers, although they definitely did their fair share of work. I think people generally had a good time and we got a good amount done. Clearing the inside face of the dam was something that way way overdue and Ted’s crew handled that with the help of the new Stihl pole saw. My crew worked in the overgrown orchard. It’s been so long without being cleared that it’s not even obvious which trees should be there and which are weeds. That will be easier once the leaves are out. We made a really good start, cutting huge multiflora roses and other small shrubs and some trees that I was sure about. Meanwhile, Dorothy’s crew worked in the cabin and did an amazing job cleaning, especially upstairs.

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Ten Years

Cathy

Cathy

For Christmas, 2010, Cathy gave me a new camera. It was a Canon 60D to replace the 10D that I had been using since 2003. On January 1, 2010 I decided to try my hand at something a co-worker had been doing. It was called Project 365 and the idea was to take at least one photo each day for a year. I posted those photos on Facebook and managed to establish a (very) small but loyal following. At the end of the year I set up this blog and continued taking at least one photo a day. I’ve been doing that for ten years now and I think that’s a pretty good accomplishment.

I have decided that as of today, I will no longer be taking a photo a day. I still expect to take my camera with me when I’m out and I still plan to take pictures, just without the pressure. I figure 3,652 consecutive days and over 180,000 photos is enough. So, some days there will be photos and other days there won’t. To my small but loyal band of followers, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you all.

The first photo in this project (see Saturday, January 1, 2011) was of Cathy and I thought it appropriate that I end ten years with another of her. Yes, we’ve both aged a bit in ten years, but we’re still here. God bless you all.

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Genna and Dorothy

Genna and Dorothy

Genna and Dorothy

Dorothy and a few of her friends are flying to Florida to visit another friend for a few days. When they get back they will quarantine together for two weeks. Three of the friends came over this evening to spend the night here so I could take them to the airport early in the morning. While we were all talking I asked if I could take a few photos. This is Genna, one of Dorothy’s housemates and friends. Lydia and Tony also came but didn’t make it in time for the photo.

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Thea and Dorothy’s Hat

Thea

In fifth grade, Dorothy learned to knit. At the time, she struggled to actually finish anything. She’d get between a half and three quarters of the way done and then she’d pull it apart and start over. I guess I’ve been known to that sort of thing as well, although I’m not generally considered a perfectionist. Anyway, she decided to make a hat for a friend this year as a Christmas present. She stopped by this evening with another friend—Thea—and while she was here she happened to show us the hat.

The hat itself is a bit funny, with a nice shape and a tall peak. They ties a few different things to the end including the small wreath ornament you see here. I specially like the coordination of colors between the wreath and the green yarn that was used in the hat. I got another photo with the wreath turned properly and with Thea’s eye looking through it. Dorothy settled on a tiny little bell as the most appropriate.

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Middle House

Genna, Liz, Thea, and Dorothy

Genna, Liz, Thea, and Dorothy

We stopped by to bring some things to Dorothy this evening. She and the young women she lives with are self-quarantining because of a possible exposure to Covid (I’m writing this more than two weeks after the fact and they’re all clear). We had stopped at Trader Joe’s but there was a line the length of the building so we didn’t bother with that. We’ll try again when we think it likely to be a little less busy. It was good to see Dorothy, even if we only spoke with her from outside while she stood in the doorway.

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Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving Meal

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.

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Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child Boxes

Operation Christmas Child Boxes

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.

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Birthday Dinner

Cathy's Birthday Dinner

Cathy’s Birthday Dinner

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.

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Surprise Birthday Party

Cathy's Surprise Birthday Party

Cathy’s Surprise Birthday Party

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.

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Cathy Sorting Photographs

Cathy Sorting Photographs

Cathy Sorting Photographs

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.

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The Female Fellows

Thea, Dorothy, Genevieve, Elizabeth, Lydia, and Emily

Thea, Dorothy, Genevieve, Elizabeth, Lydia, and Emily

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.

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Fireside Chat

Fireside Chat

Fireside Chat

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.

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Silas

Silas

Silas

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!

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William, Margaret, and Beth

William, Margaret, and Beth

William, Margaret, and Beth

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.

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Eloise

Iris, Seth, Eloise, and Silas

Iris, Seth, Eloise, and Silas

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.

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Cathy’s Patio Garden

Cathy's Patio Garden

Cathy’s Patio Garden

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.

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Cathy and Some Flowers

Cathy and Some Flowers

Cathy and Some Flowers

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.

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Dot’s Latest Quilt

Dot's Latest Quilt for Ramallah Friends School

Dot’s Latest Quilt for Ramallah Friends School

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.

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Social Distancing

Cathy, Social Distancing

Cathy, Social Distancing

After our BoxCast church service, Cathy and I went to a local park early Sunday afternoon. There were about a dozen cars there, spaced out in the large parking area. We walked around what, for 45 years, was Redgate Golf Course. Last summer it was shut down and at least for now, it’s a park, left pretty much as it was when it went dormant. The grass is fairly long and the weeds are pretty thick on tees and greens but it’s still recognizable as a golf course. We saw an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) over the driving range and heard a rumor that there is a great horned owl nesting somewhere on the propoerty.

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Portrait Print

Print, 'Henry', by Dorothy

Print, ‘Henry’, by Dorothy

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.

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Iris and Seth’s New House

Iris and Seth's New House

Iris and Seth’s New House

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!).

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Silas

Silas

Silas

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.

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Jackson

Jackson

Jackson

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.

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Theodore Roosevelt Island

Bob, Dorothy, Maureen, Cathy, and Henry at Teddy Roosevelt Monument

Bob, Dorothy, Maureen, Cathy, and Henry at Teddy Roosevelt Monument

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.

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Cousins

Silas and Kaien

Silas and Kaien

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.

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Cathy and Jean

Cathy and Jean

Cathy and Jean

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.

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New Year’s Day

Friends on New Year's Day

Friends on New Year’s Day

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.

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Dorothy

Dorothy

Dorothy

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.

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Andrew, Dorothy, and Rachel

Andrew, Dorothy, and Rachel

Andrew, Dorothy, and Rachel

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.

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Darius and Grandma

Darius and Grandma

Darius and Grandma

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.

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Darius

Darius

Darius

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.’

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Kai

Kai

Kai

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.

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Space Invaders

Space Invaders

Space Invaders

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.

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Cathy

Cathy

Cathy

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.

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Self-Portrait

Henry

Henry

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.

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Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child Processing Center

Operation Christmas Child Processing Center

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.

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Cathy and Jean

Cathy and Jean

Cathy and Jean

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.

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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

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.

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Kai

Kai

Kai

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.

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Jan and Cathy

Jan and Cathy

Jan and Cathy

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.

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Mill Creek

Cathy

Cathy

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.

Mill Creek

Mill Creek

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.

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Jean and Cathy

Jean and Cathy

Jean and Cathy

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!”

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Brian, Lisa, Nathaniel, and Us

Brian, Lisa, Nathaniel, Cathy, Henry, and Dorothy

Brian, Lisa, Nathaniel, Cathy, Henry, and Dorothy

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.”

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Cathy, Henry, and the Dogs

Cathy, Henry, and the Dogs

Cathy, Henry, and the Dogs

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.

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Cathy at the Mendenhall

Cathy at the Mendenhall

Cathy at the Mendenhall

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. They 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 more warmly today than she was on that day in February.

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On The Road (Metaphorically Speaking)

Cathy at LAX

Cathy at LAX

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. I was more than a little grateful.

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Silas

Silas

Silas

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.

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Margaret, Shaima, and Inez

Margaret, Shaima, and Inez

Margaret, Shaima, and Inez

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.

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An Unexpected (But Very Welcome) Visit

Margaret with Friends

Margaret with Friends

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.

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Margaret’s Birthday

Ellie, Mimi, Margaret, and Cathy

Ellie, Mimi, Margaret, and Cathy

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.

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Lunch with George and Carmela

George and Carmela

George and Carmela

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.

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Cathy Weeding

Cathy Weeding

Cathy Weeding

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.

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Henry and Cathy — 35 Years

Henry and Cathy — 35 Years

Henry and Cathy — 35 Years

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.

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Silas

Silas

Silas

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.

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Cathy In The Back Garden

Cathy In The Back Garden

Cathy In The Back Garden

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.

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The Cousins

The Cousins: Dot, Mary Ellen, Ann, LaClaire, and Glenn

The Cousins: Dot, Mary Ellen, Ann, LaClaire, and Glenn

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.

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The Family At The Beach

The Family

The Family

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.

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The Youngest Generation

Kaien, Silas, Audrey, and Nora

Kaien, Silas, Audrey, and Nora

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.

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Silas On The Beach

Silas On The Beach

Silas On The Beach

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.

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Dinner with Friends

Dinner with Friends

Dinner with Friends – from left: Cathy, Jonathan, Vicki, Ian, Susie, Rob, and Annie

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.

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Silas and Iris

Silas and Iris

Silas and Iris

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.

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Margaret with Ugo and Jennifer

Margaret with Ugo and Jennifer

Margaret with Ugo and Jennifer

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.

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Amelia and Kasia

Amelia and Kasia

Amelia and Kasia

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.

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Silas on Hobby Horse

Silas and Iris

Silas and Iris

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.

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Amy and Melanie

Amy and Melanie

Amy and Melanie

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.

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Maria and Evan

Maria and Evan

Maria and Evan

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.

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Wedding Weekend

Dorothy with Loaded Van

Dorothy with Loaded Van

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.

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Steve and Kaien

Steve and Kaien

Steve and Kaien

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.

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Dismantling Dorothy’s Art Show

Dismantling Dorothy's Art Show

Dismantling Dorothy’s Art Show

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.

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Dorothy’s Graduation

Dorothy (and Doug)

Dorothy (and Doug)

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.

Dorothy and Cathy

Dorothy and Cathy

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.

Z, Dorothy, Bruce, and David

Z, Dorothy, Bruce, and David

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.

Dorothy, Andrew, and Jonathan

Dorothy, Andrew, and Jonathan

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.

Rachel, Taylor, and Dorothy

Rachel, Taylor, and Dorothy

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.

The Dexter House Crew

The Dexter House Crew

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.

Henry, Dorothy, and Cathy

Henry, Dorothy, and Cathy

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.

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Baccalaureate Service

Baccalaureate Service

Baccalaureate Service

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.

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Cathy

Cathy and Begonias

Cathy and Begonias

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.

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Silas

Silas

Silas

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.

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Picnic On The Beach

Picnic On The Beach, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Picnic On The Beach, Gloucester, Massachusetts

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.

Boston from Gloucester

Boston from Gloucester

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.

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Beaver Attacks Woman

Beaver Attacks Woman

Beaver Attacks Woman

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.

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Liberate D. C.

Sara Groves

Sara Groves

Audrey Assad

Audrey Assad

Robbie Seay

Robbie Seay

Audrey Assad

Audrey Assad

Henry, Sara, and Cathy

Henry, Sara, and Cathy

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/).

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Easter Dinner

Easter Dinner

Easter Dinner

Cathy, Margaret, and Lamb Cake

Cathy, Margaret, and Lamb Cake

Iris, Silas, and Seth

Iris, Silas, and Seth

Silas

Silas

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.

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Cathy and Daffodils

Cathy and Daffodils

Cathy and Daffodils

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).

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Silas and Iris

Silas and Iris

Silas and Iris

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.

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Cathy and Daffodils

Cathy and Daffodils

Cathy and Daffodils

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.

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Silas

Silas

Silas

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.

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Andrew and Rachel

Andrew and Rachel

Andrew and Rachel

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.

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Tim, Karen, and Margaret

Karen, Margaret, and Tim

Karen, Margaret, and Tim

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.

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Cathy

Cathy

Cathy

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.

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Tsai-Hong and Silas

Tsai-Hong and Silas

Tsai-Hong and Silas

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.

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Benje and Michele

Michele, Margaret, Benje, Cathy, and Henry

Michele, Margaret, Benje, Cathy, and Henry

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.

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Dot and Some of Her Art

Dot and Some of Her Art

Dot and Some of Her Art

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.

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Seth, Iris, and Silas

Seth, Iris, and Silas

Seth, Iris, and Silas

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.

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Cathy In A Peruvian Robe

Cathy In A Peruvian Robe

Cathy In A Peruvian Robe

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.

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New Year’s Day

Seated: Cathy, Margaret, Susie, and Karen. Standing: Dorothy, Kyle, Diane, Rob, Amy, James, and Henry

Seated: Cathy, Margaret, Susie, and Karen. Standing: Dorothy, Kyle, Diane, Rob, Amy, James, and Henry

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.

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Christmas

Dot with Silas and Kai

Dot with Silas and Kai

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.

Steve and Kai

Steve and Kai

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.

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Shady Grove Ensemble

Shady Grove Ensemble

Shady Grove Ensemble

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.

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Marsha and Ivon

Marsha and Ivon

Marsha and Ivon

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.