101: What’s around the corner?Posted: January 1, 2011
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.
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…
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.
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:
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.