Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Merry. . . uh. . .What Was I Trying to Say?

Christmas Countdown

I can hardly believe that Christmas is just around the corner. I've been sick with an awful cold and have only done a portion of my shopping. No tree this year since all of my Christmas stuff is in storage in North Carolina and I'm not sure where I would put a tree in my very cute (read very tiny) one-bedroom apartment. I will probably get some wreaths for my doors and some Christmas candles to put in my windows.

I miss being close enough to spend part of the holiday preparations with my grandkids and my daughter and have been feeling a little lonely. I won't be leaving to spend the holidays with my kids until after Christmas since someone had to be in the office over the holidays and we're alternating Christmas and New Year. My kids won't be around until after Christmas, so it's worked out perfectly this year.

I'm planning to do a little holiday baking since my sister lives around the corner from me, so I'll take some things over for her family to enjoy. But my daughter is an awesome cook and probably has tons of goodies planned for her own family, so I probably won't be taking anything homemade down to NC when I travel. Maybe some great bagels from the local Safeway here. They make great ones!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wine Weekend 2008

I left on Friday morning to meet up with my daughter, her husband, my friend Kathryne, and her mom and dad for Wine Weekend 2008. When I arrived (after getting lost and adding another hour to my trip), Kathryne handed me a bag full of goodies, including truffles and a music CD that she had put together just for the occasion. I also got a chance to meet her new kittens, Number One and Number Two (they haven't told her what their names are yet), who are totally adorable as all kittens are. We had a wonderful lunch at Michie Tavern where I ate way too much. The food is served buffet style on metal plates by people dressed in period costume. The drinks are served in small metal cups, and you can eat as much as you wish. The fried chicken was delicious and the peach cobbler are two that I would recommend.

After Michie Tavern, we headed out to Oakencroft winery. Oakencroft is closing permanently in December. I'll miss their wonderful wines and sitting next to the pond, which is right outside their tasting room. This picture was taken at sunset at last year's wine weekend.

This year we sat and watched flocks of Canadian geese fly in at sunset and land in the pond for a drink and a swim before walking over to the pasture across the road. I felt like I could have stayed here forever. It was so peaceful that I was completely zoned out in a zen-like state -- oblivious to everything except the geese, the ripples on the water, and the beautiful surroundings. After Oakencroft, we went to our rooms to rest for a couple of hours before going to a terrific Italian restaurant named Vivaci. The food was soooo good. I had the onion and mushroom soup and then the potato gnocchi, which was delicious.

On Saturday, my sister and her husband, son, and his girlfriend joined us. We started out at a new winery called Delfosse where I bought a bottle of dessert wine, maybe I bought two. I honestly can't remember. Here is a view of the land surrounding Delfosse.


And another picture of my daughter and Kathryne just outside of the tasting room.



From there, we headed to Wintergreen winery. They have the best raspberry dessert wine, which they were out of when we visited. But I did buy some homemade sourdough bread and pesto. Then on to Hilltop Berry where they make the best fruit wines and meades. I bought a delightfully different meade to drink at home.

Veritas winery was the last stop that day. We always end there with a picnic lunch accompanied by a few bottles of one of their wines. They have a gorgeous tasting room that has leather couches and seats, a fireplace that's burning when the weather is cold, and a huge deck supplied with picnic tables and benches. The view at Veritas is breathtaking, as you can see for yourself. I love it there. The barn in the background with horses in the pasture and a view of the mountains makes me want to stay there always.



Here is another view of the same scene from a distance. I was trying to capture the sun shining on the mountain where the beautiful fall foliage was highlighted in the setting sun.


I love the mountains in Virginia. Whenever I'm there, I feel like that's the place I want to live and never leave.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Curveballs of Life

I don't think anyone ever expects their life to turn out the way it does -- "The best laid plans of mice and men. . . ." and all of that. I expected to share my life with one person, to grow old with that person, and to become even closer when our kids were raised and gone. Instead, my life has moved in a completely opposite direction, one that I least expected or prepared for. I'm not complaining because the road that I'm on has had its own lessons and adventures that I would not have known otherwise. I don't know what tomorrow has planned for me at all, but I think the unexpected has made me a little more resilient and a little more willing to entertain experiences outside the norm of what I had planned.

I always wanted to grow old with someone that I had a long history with so that I would have the comfort of a loving and compatible companion in my dotage. That is not to be, at least as my life path seems at this moment. I don't feel sad about it. Instead I feel anticipation and comfort in the reliable routines I have made my own, on my own.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Midlife Dating

What does a girl my age have to do to find a nice guy to go out with anyway? I haven't had much luck with the online dating thing. All the guys my age either seem to want someone who is "slender and toned" or who is much younger than they are. Do you think it could be my self portraits? Or my description as "average" and "a few extra pounds"? My sister thinks it's my self portraits. She thinks I looked surprised in all the photos I take of myself, but hey, it's not the easiest thing in the world to get the camera focused and pointed at the right angle in the mirror while making sure I look into the lens when I taking my picture (did ya get all that?). We talked about doing a series of photos of me as different personas. . . as in, "this is my serious look. . .," "playful look. . .," "sexy look. . .," "young look. . .," "young oriental look. . .," "liberal look. . .," "conservative look. . . ." You get the picture. It sounds like fun even if it doesn't get me a date. What is it with you older, single guys anyway?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

LUCY


I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.
-Jules Verne

I'm so sad to say that, unknown to anyone, little Lucy had contracted FIP before she was adopted by Kathryne and had to be euthanized on October 3rd. She was only here for a short time, but what a bevy of fans she had. Kathryne is broken hearted. Please send a little zen her way. Lucy's spirit was too large to be contained on this earth.


CWS

What is CWS, you ask? Well, it stands for Compressed Work Schedule, which means I work four 9-hour days each week, one 8-hr day and then get off a day. I chose Mondays for my day off and my short day because I HATE Mondays. I can never seem to get to sleep at a decent hour on Sunday nights, which means I wake up feeling cranky and irritable and tired. I'm NOT a morning person. I hate getting up while it's still dark, having to leave my nice warm bed and go to work. But the plus side is that I LOVE having every other Monday off, having a loooong weekend every other week. And another bonus is that if I go to visit my daughter and grandkids in North Carolina, I can drive back on Monday and not have to fight the inevitable weekend traffic on I-95 coming north on Sunday. Believe me, it's not worth it. It's hard to imagine how congested it can get, but it's basically stop and go from Richmond to DC. Uggghhhh.

Also, now that I'm on CWS, I have to drive myself in to work in the morning since my van pool doesn't leave early enough. That means that I (not the morning person) have to get up by 4:30 a.m. to be at work by 6 a.m. It's a 40-minute drive, which is about the same distance and time I had to drive in when I was in North Carolina. But it's also about 2 hours earlier than I had to get up in NC. There are benefits though. I'm usually too groggy to care about the traffic going in, which is relatively light at that time of the morning. And I get to check out the big dipper and notice how beautiful the sky looks with just a hint of sunrise by the time I get to the Annex. Driving home isn't bad since I get to leave at 3:30 p.m. Traffic has picked up a little by then, but the drive along the George Washington Memorial Parkway is just gorgeous, especially this time of year. It basically follows the Potomac River, and there are always kayaks or canoes out there, not to mention the beautiful fall foliage right now. It changes daily. I have to remember to take my camera and stop at one of the scenic pullovers and take some photos before the leaves are all gone.


This is a shot of where I enter the Parkway when I leave work.


Here is a view of one of the several bridges as I see it from the road going North. It's really very beautiful.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fall is Coming


The last few days have been beautiful -- cooler temperatures. And I swear I can smell autumn in the air. The summer has flown by. And it's dark when I get up and leave for work now. It won't be too much longer before it will be dark on the way home too. I love this time of year when everything slows down before winter sets in. The sunsets seem more brilliant and the stars brighter. Soon we'll be able to smell the wood burning in fireplaces, dress in warm flannels and soft sweatshirts, and snuggle under cozy down comforters while we sleep. The leaves on some of the trees have started to turn, but I'm really looking forward to the full display of jewel-toned leaves that sparkle in the sun. They're the fiery farewell before their slumber in the winter.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm So Pretty

Oh, okay, one picture. Do you think this is my best side?


Or maybe this one?


Don't hate me 'cause I'm beautiful. I was born this way.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Down on the Farm

On Sunday, we took the kids to visit a farm that had a lot of things for young kids to do. They have two catch-and-release ponds, but alas, we didn't have a fishing pole. I thought they would have poles there to rent, but it didn't work out that way. There was a section of the farm that had animals that we got to feed and pet. The goats and sheep ate right out of our hands, and they had an adorable calf.


This goat escaped from her pen and walked around begging for handouts. She was very gentle and ate corn nicely from our hands. But she was insistent about being fed LOL!

Notice anything funny about the animals below?

There were tractor races, for lack of a better description!

I think everyone was tired out by the time we got home after an afternoon in the sun and fun. The kids went for a ride on the cow train and got to jump on a huge pillow that looked like an overstuffed ravioli. Michael found this huge plastic cow and had to check things out for himself.
Umm, hey, what's this under here?


Okay, I think you're supposed to squeeze these or something.


Oh! I didn't know anyone was watching me.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Something Tells Me It's All Happening at the Zoo

My daughter and her husband came to visit for the long weekend with their three boys, and we had a great time. We all went for a ride on the metrorail, and the boys were very excited about riding the fast train. We had to switch lines to get to the National Zoo, but it was fun to see the boys' reactions to the train. The zoo itself was okay. I'm not a big zoo fan because it's difficult for me to see some of the animals in cages. But the weather was good, if a little humid and hot. Unfortunately, some of the exhibits were closed because the zoo is going through some renovations, so we didn't get to see some of the animals. The good part is that the zoo is always free of charge to anyone who wants to visit. Some of the gardens there are beautiful.

The zoo is full of gorgeous sculptures. I couldn't resist taking some pictures of the ones that I fell in love with. This series of chimpanzee sculptures were in a little hidden garden that I just happened upon while waiting for the kids to walk through one of the animal houses. They really touched me. I think you can see why. They're life size and so life like.























Here's another sculpture of the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex with Tyler standing by to give you an idea of how large it is.


And here are the boys playing on a bear statue. I thought it was a pig, but they told me it was a bear.


And last but not least, here's a picture of the boys headed home. . . in the arms of mom, binky in place, and all's right with the world.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The One that Didn't Get Away

My oldest grandson loves to fish and he had the chance to go out on a big boat in a fishing tournament. He caught a big dolphin fish, almost as big as he is! Look at the size of this sucker!!



He also won this really cool trophy! And when they out on the boat the next day of the tournament, he got to eat his fish for dinner. He's a really good fisherman. Congratulations!! We're so proud of you!

Lucy B

This is little Lucy B. She was adopted by Kathryne who brought Lucy home to live with her forever after she lost Gillian. Welcome home, little girl. Doesn't she look like a sweet little thing? But don't be fooled by this sweet little face.


Are you talkin' to ME? Are ya, HUH? I'd watch who you were starin' at if I were you because. . . .


I KNOW KARATE!


OooooWaaah!


Wowww!


Let that be a lesson to ya!


Yeah!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Oatlands Plantation

I took some time out today to do some exploring. I live in one of the nothernmost counties in Virginia, very near the foothills of the Blue Ridge and it's very beautiful here. I wish, wish, wish that I could afford to buy a small farm in the foothills. I love it there, and I'd be eternally happy. The weather was gorgeous, still a little warm for my taste; but the shade was perfect. I took these wonderful photos of the gardens at Oatlands. Some of the plants have gone by from the summer heat, but there was still plenty to enjoy and see.

This is a huge birdhouse leading up to the plantation house!

A small pool with a fish fountain. See the water spouting from his mouth?


Here's a beautiful pool with a fountain and a surprise!


Here's the surprise hanging out right at the corner of the pool! At first I thought they were garden statuary, but then they moved. They posed so prettily. See the little one peeking out between the rocks on the right?


Sweet peas!! They smelled heavenly. I had no idea they would bloom this far into the summer.

Guarding the entrance to the upper gardens.


Other residents at Oatlands. There were loads of butterflies.

Last but not least, this giant oak stood tall at the entrance to the path. I wish I could give you some idea of how massive this tree was. It must be hundreds of years old.

After leaving Oatlands, I found a wonderful little place to eat called "The South Street Deli" in Leesburg. I ordered a Reuben sandwich on homemade ciabatta and potato and leek soup to go. I came home and stuffed my little belly full. It was soooo good!! So many restaurants, so little time.

Gillian


Sweet Gillian
"When I play with my cat, how do I know that she is not passing time with me rather than I with her?"
- Montaigne


My friend Kathryne lost her sweet cat on August 9th. Gillian was beautiful as you can see and had a sweet and loving personality. Gilly had numerous medical problems but she couldn't have had a better home or a more loving owner. She was loved and loved Kathryne unconditionally.

"I wanted to let you know that after a year and a half of living with kidney disease, Gillian's weight dropped really low but she remained happy and playful until the couple of days. With that change, it became clear that it was time to let her go. Gillian was put to sleep yesterday morning. I know its only been a day, but I miss her tremendously. She was a constant source of entertainment and companionship for me, plus I'd like to think that she had a good home here."

Baby moose in sprinkler

Here's a wonderful video showing a mother moose and her twins who wandered into the backyard of a home in Anchorage, Alaska, where there is a sprinkler in the backyard. This reminded me of Peg when I saw it. Enjoy this sweet flick with two babies acting like any other babies, four-legged or two-legged. It will make you smile.

Baby moose in sprinkler

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Boo

Where does the time go? I cannot believe my little Boo is a year old already. It seems like just yesterday, I was in the waiting room at the hospital anxiously looking forward to his appearance on this earth; and now he's a year old. Sometimes I want time to slow down so I can savor the best things in life, and Boo is definitely one of them.

Here he is on his birth day, being held by big brother. So new and so innocent, with all of our hopes and dreams for him.




And now, here is he is a year later, talking, trying to walk, eating real food, and looking up to his two mentors and partners in crime.



Happy Birthday, Boo!! Our only summer baby. May you always be happy.