Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ten Things That Make me Happy

I borrowed this meme from Achorn Farm


  1. Watching and listening to a flock of geese flying overhead.
  2. My beautiful grandchildren and spending time with them.
  3. Walking in freshly falling snow as it clings to my eyelashes.
  4. The smell of baking.
  5. Taking photos of nature.
  6. Creating something special for someone special.
  7. Popcorn and raisinettes at the movies.
  8. Fall in all its beautiful glory
  9. A day's work well done.
  10. Saturday mornings and the leisure it brings.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Winter Pond

I stopped at a small pond today to get some photos of the ducks and geese that, incredibly, were swimming in the icy water. As you can see, we still have quite a bit of snow on the ground and the pond was covered with ice in parts. The ducks and geese seemed to be enjoying the water.

The geese are always in pairs. They knew I was there but totally unconcerned. I'm sure they're used to people since there's a jogging path next to the pond. It's really a beautiful little area that has a small fountain.

There lots of ducks, mostly mallards, except for this gorgeous little white duck. She's there all the time. Last year, she and one of the male mallards were paired off and waddling around the houses under the brush.

And lastly, the beautiful shape of a sleeping tree, resting and gathering its strength to bloom in the coming spring. I love winter.

Another Hawk Sighting

Don't you think he's looking right at me? And I was a good distance away, using my zoom lens. He still knew right where I was.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

I have a confession to make. For years, I've been madly in love with Carl Sagan. He's one of my heroes. He was a brilliant scientist who brought knowledge of astronomy and space to millions on his show Cosmos. They still show reruns of it here on PBS. He had a way of explaining things so you really understood it and not only understood it, but realized how important everything is, how interrelated the universe is, and how it affects all of us. NPR just did a wonderful piece called "An Alien View of Earth." The image above is a a photo that was taken of earth by the Voyager 1 spacecraft from 4 billion miles away on Valentine's Day, 1990, when the spacecraft turned its cameras to Earth. What you see is an illuminated speck, which really shows our relationship to the entire universe. The entire article is wonderful; but what really stands out for me is this quote from Carl Sagan.

In his book Pale Blue Dot, he described the photo taken by Voyager 1 by saying:

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every 'superstar,' every 'supreme leader,' every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Happy Valentine's Day to all of my friends and family from the home that we all share and love, our beautiful planet. May we all learn to appreciate, respect, and become guardians of this blue dot we call home.

Snow Surprise

I got back from a week long conference in New Orleans on Friday (I know, I know) to find that my driveway was still covered with ice and snow at least 2 feet deep. My car, thankfully, was parked in the garage; but I was really hoping that snow was going to melt somehow while I was gone. . . not so much. I don't even own a snow shovel because when we get snow here, it rarely stick around for more than 48 hours, melting away into nothingness. Not this time. While I was gone, we got another 12 to 14 inches of snow on top of what I had left the week before. Surprise!

When I left New Orleans on Friday, they were getting snow in the northern part of Louisiana. I think it followed me. I was worried about making it back here on time, but (thank you, Lord) there were no issues with my air travel.

By the time I got back into town, all the snow shovels were sold out and I didn't have any way to get to a store anyway because I couldn't get out of my driveway. I called the apartment complex front office to see if they had a list of folks who did snow removal -- no joy. I ended up on Craigslist and finally found someone to come and bail (read shovel) me out. I've learned my lesson. From now on, I'm ready with the salt, the shovel, and the ice pick. I may even break down and get an electric snow blower. Now if I can only remember that procrastination (my middle name) is not a virtue.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Blizzard

All federal employees were excused four hour before the end of their normal workday yesterday to get ready for the impending snowstorm. They wanted to get everyone home and off the streets before driving got too hazardous and so the road crews could prepare and clear the roadways. We heard conflicting reports on the amount of snow that was due to fall in our area. It started off with estimates of at least a foot and just escalated from there to the probability of 30 inches in some areas of Virginia and Maryland.

I took this photo when I got off work yesterday, just after the snow started falling. It had been falling for about an hour and a half when I took this first photo.

It continued snowing and started to come down much faster. I took this photo after a couple of hours of snowfall.

It snowed all night and got much windier. When I looked outside at about one in the morning, I was amazed at how bright it was out there. It could have been dusk instead of the middle of the night. Snow is an amazing reflective surface.

This morning, when I woke at about 9 am, it was still snowing. As you can tell, it was snowing pretty hard, so you couldn't see very far. Here is a photo from this morning.

Finally this afternoon, it started to taper off. There was a ton of snow on my deck, and I took these photos.

My neighbor's car buried in the snow.

After seeing my neighbor's car, I'm so glad that I have an attached garage. I pay extra for it, but weather like this makes it so worthwhile.

Sometime around 5 pm, the sun came out! It was truly the calm after the storm with a beautiful sunset, topping off a winter wonderland. In all, I think they reported 23 inches here in Ashburn; but there were drifts much deeper. I hear we're in for another storm beginning on Tuesday. Hopefully, we'll be dug out by then.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Winter's Tapestry

I'm so glad that I now live in an area where we get snow. It normally doesn't snow that much in northern Virginia, but this year, we've had tons of snow for our area. I love it. On Wednesday, I went to dinner with my sister to a favorite place called Clydes. It's a wonderful place that's been reconstructed from old barns that were marked for demolition. One part of the restaurant is a wonderful old barn from Vermont. The timbers were taken apart, marked, and then reassembled here in Ashburn. I love it. It's reminds me of Vermont.

While we were eating dinner, it started to snow. I ran out to grab my camera and took these wonderful shots.

Part of the Pergola and what I think is part of an outdoor bar.

Looking out at the snow falling from under the Pergola.

It was a very gentle, softly falling, silent snow. The kind that makes you want to wander around outside while huge snowflakes softly cling to your eyelashes and coats everything it touches like frosting. When I woke the next morning, this what I saw from my apartment.

We're now under a winter storm warning with a promise of at least 12 to 14 more inches starting tomorrow into Saturday. Sounds like a great time to catch some old movies, make homemade soup, and blog.