101: What’s around the corner?

(Looking forward.  Washington, D.C.)

Note: This is a mega-post, for which I apologize.  I am trying to fit in a little about the trip as well as some current stuff.  I am pondering “learn brevity” as a New Year’s resolution.

Happy 2011!  I wish you joy, love, laughter, and prosperity in the new year.  How you apply those wishes is entirely up to you.  🙂

M and I have already celebrated with our traditional pork and sauerkraut dinner that is said to bring luck, prosperity, and other good stuff.  Weight loss, obviously, is not part of the “other good stuff.”

It seems like much has changed between the old year and the new year.  There aren’t many years when I can honestly say I see such a great contrast.  Stepping away from the familiar has a way of changing one’s perspective in a way that allows you to see the contrasts.  Even so, the difference between the day M and I left home early Wednesday morning and arrived home yesterday evening is amazing.

(Stepping out of the Christmas holidays.  Fogged lens.  The U.S. Botanic Garden.  Washington, D.C.  This looks better large.  As with all of the photos in this post, click on the photo to view it larger.)

When we left home we had about 2 feet of snow on the ground and it was cold.  Frigid is the word I last used to describe it here on the blog.  When we returned, most of the snow had disappeared and the temperature was in the mid-50s.

(Watery sun reflections on a Smithsonian window.  Washington, D.C.)

I’m guessing you may have figured out by now where we went.  Washington, D.C., of course.  For my friends outside of the U.S., I didn’t assume you’d know from my hints but I also didn’t want to assume you wouldn’t know as it seems like people outside of the U.S. are better informed about the world beyond their borders than a lot of folks within the U.S.  The building in the pictures posted yesterday is the U.S. Capitol.

(In flight.  U.S. Capitol building.  Washington, D.C.)

The trip was short and just enough.  It was not about business of any kind but purely for fun.  We did a lot of walking around the city, exploring museums, streets, parks, and the National Mall.  Well, not all of the National Mall.  We’ve been to D.C. on several other occasions and mostly used the National Mall the way you use the middle spot on a Trivial Pursuit board while trying to pick up all the game pieces.  In other words, to get from one side to the other.

Washington, D.C. is east and south of where we live in the Bogs.  We were able to watch the small changes in climate on the drive out as the snow levels decreased until we reached Maryland where there were a few pockets of snow in shady places.  The weather in D.C. was sunnier and warmer than we’d been experiencing.  My wool coat was too much at times.  I didn’t need a hat at all, although gloves came in handy in the early morning hours when it was a little frosty.

While waiting to pick up our luggage at the hotel where we’d left it after check-out yesterday morning (so we could visit one more museum exhibit and have lunch before heading home), a man who was checking his luggage asked M how it was outside.  M told him it was nice.  The man held out a pair of gloves and asked, “Will I need these?”  M told him no, paused a moment and then asked the man where he was from.  “California,” was the man’s response.  “In that case,” M suggested, “you might want to keep the gloves with you.”

One man’s warmth might be another man’s cold.

I’ll have more photos from the trip for you soon.  In the meantime…

(Walking through one door.)

What’s around the corner?

Since life seems to be either circular or a spiral, depending on how you look at it, I can’t really say what’s around the corner.  But today I’m going to join The Daily Post.  I figure I’m already committed to blogging about my outdoor commitment for most of the year so I might as well team up with others who have decided to have similar fun and adventure, at least in terms of the blogging part.

Although I like the topic idea for today (List three countries you’d like to visit, and why you want to go), I’ll save it for another day.  I’m not currently in need of something to babble on about.

I have other commitments and resolutions to write about.  I’m saving those for next week.  I don’t like to put too much pressure on the new year while it’s still all so brand new.

At Last

On our way to and from D.C. we stopped at The Summit Diner which is, as you all know, my favorite diner.  Finally, after all these years of rare visits to The Summit Diner, I experienced this:

(The Famous Coconut Cream Pie.)

This pie did not disappoint.  Not in the least.  It was not only as good as it looks, it was better.  In the interest of fairness, it should be noted that coconut is not a major player in my home cooking because M does not like it in any form other than coconut milk used in curries (mostly of the Thai variety).  My sons don’t care for it either so I was pretty much outnumbered in the coconut department at home.  I have to experience my coconut highs in other places and tend to become hyperbolic about it when I get to indulge in this wonderful food.  Even so, that pie was amazing.

Although the pie was intended to be a mid-afternoon snack, it pretty much became dinner.  I savored every rich, creamy, coconutty, delicious bite.  I can now die happy.  Or at least cross that off The Bucket List.

(Exiting the Sackler Gallery.  Washington, D.C.)

Splish Splash

Today’s walk was a soggy walk.  I had to switch from snow boots to rain boots.  M and I approached the basement this morning with trepidation.  A fast snowmelt coupled with heavy rains usually leads to a small lake forming in the laundry room.  I am happy to report that the “landscaping” done during the last flood worked.  M redirected the water by digging a small ditch.  It is not a permanent solution but will do until we get around to regrading the front yard.

The above odd looking collage is my way of showing you the changes around and on the pond since Wednesday morning when I took the top left photo.  The background and top right photo are today’s view of the pond.

(Pummeled by the rain.)

Pretty pictures are hard to come by today.  Nature was a cruel Mother last night.  The pounding rains flattened pretty much everything in the meadows except the small trees and some of the stronger stalks of Joe-Pye weed.  Even the cattails were knocked over, some almost flattened.  The ground is so soggy that it feels unstable, as if it will float away with the next rain.

(Overflow pipe.)

The pond is at one of the highest levels I’ve seen it at since we originally bought the place and had a clogged overflow pipe (the pipe that keeps the pond at safe levels, pictured in the video above).  It’s almost at the top of the dam.  Unfortunately we’re still getting some heavy rains and the runoff down the hillsides continues to stream in.  There are hundreds of small creeks — not the usual trickles — running down the hills.  Hopefully the overflow pipe and the emergency spillway will handle enough of the water to keep the dam from collapsing.

I’ll have to video the overflow pipe when it’s at the normal trickle, for the sake of comparison.  The pool below it has grown in size with all the water coming through.  The creek is well out of its banks and most of the wooded area is flooded.

(The creek spreading out in the woods.)

One of my goals this year is to learn to use the manual settings on my camera.  Point and shoot is all well and good, but there have been too many occasions lately when I was dissatisfied with the auto-setting outcomes.  With thoughts of eventually buying a good DSLR, I’ve decided it is time to learn the craft or technical skills of photography.  After photographing the creek and taking a short video of the water drainage, I played around with the manual settings to see if I could achieve that soft, flowing look of water.

I did achieve the effect I wanted.  Alas, I forgot the white balance was set on tungsten for some Christmas lights shots I took while visiting the National Christmas Tree near the White House in Washington, D.C.  Doh!  Everything came out a little too cool.

I can play around with them in Photoshop but it probably isn’t worth the time or bother.  It’s fun just giving it a try to see what comes out.  It will be even more fun when I learn it well enough to be able to repeat it.

Thus endeth the mega-post.  Thank you for your patience.

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18 Comments on “101: What’s around the corner?”

  1. Lovely photos. Wonderful husband and I visited Washington DC a couple of years ago (we live in England). We enjoyed the Botanic Garden, but mostly just walking around looking at buildings we usually see on the television news.
    The only disappointment was that we didn’t find anywhere decent to eat in central Washington DC.
    We went for a walk along the seafront today – together with about 1/3 of our local population.
    Like your blog and will look again.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Dressingmyself. And thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

      I noticed that about the restaurants in central D.C. too. Most of the food we had while in D.C. was okay. We did have a wonderful dinner our first night at the Hotel Tabard Inn Restaurant. Friends suggested it. The restaurant gets a lot of good reviews.

  2. Ron in L.A. says:

    Happy new year Robin, hope it’s a great one for you and the family… 😉

    Love the first image btw…

    R(etc…)

  3. Wow…you weren’t kidding when you said the snow had been washed away. Amazing! We’re still enjoying the white stuff here in Colorado. Enjoy the new year.

  4. photobyholly says:

    We had all of our snow washed away, as well – very unusual for late December/early January!! My boys were pretty disappointed, they had just gotten used to going sledding!! I’m glad you had such a nice time in DC, I haven’t been there in probably 20+ years! I enjoyed seeing all of your photos (as always), but the first one is just stunning!! I LOVE the composition, lighting, shadows, and it really does make you wonder…. “Where does it go??” Very nice!!

  5. What’s with all of the unseasonal weather in the world these days? Your snow has melted (oh no! will it get cold and snow again this winter, do you think?) and here we are in Oz, mid summer, feeling cool!

    Your Coconut Cream Pie look delicious! I baked a Lemon Meringue Pie yesterday, which has a similar appearance, but no doubt a very different taste.

    Great photos, as always. 🙂

    • Robin says:

      Joanne: Perhaps the world is going through some changes and that’s causing all of the unseasonal weather. Winter has already returned to the Bogs. It’s cold again and we’re expecting snow tomorrow night.

  6. The coconut cream pie looks soo good! Yum. And I love the first picture! Im excited to see the pictures you take in manual. Your pictures are already fantastic, its hard to imagine them getting better. Stay dry!

  7. penpusherpen says:

    The vagaries of weather, … the white stuff gone but now the rains come… and such a lot of it…Glad the landscaping worked, and your basement wasn’t flooded. (it’s lovely when an idea works) … and great photo’s even the ‘blue ones’ gives an atmosphere to them… AND the coconut cream pie looks too too good, I keep staring at it…and taking in your description, which I must say went towards the fact that I’m sure I’ve put on a few pounds just sitting here… and now I’ve been to Washintgon DC thro’ your photo’s and back to the Bogs again I will depart and take Bess out into my back garden…( a bit of a let down..but I can pretend!!) 🙂
    I hope 2011 is a great year for you and yours….xPenx

  8. Marianne says:

    This is very interesting, Robin. I love all the photos.

    The exit at the gallery is stunning. I like the pond comparison. The sound of the rainwater is soothing. I last two photos are pretty.

  9. Marcie says:

    Terrific images. Amazing how quickly the snow has melted and disappeared!


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