Monday, December 27, 2010

dinner on the 25th

I was talking with my sisters on Christmas Day about what we were all preparing for dinner. At their house they had a good crowd of family along with the potential to shoo people outside and perhaps even to cook outside on the barbecue.

Meanwhile, in this house, I was making a dinner for four people and the weather forecast was for snow flurries developing into accumulating snow.

So I started with this:

a 7.5lb turkey breast that first got a basting with a herb, butter and white wine mix before going in the oven.

After a while, it turned into this:

and we enjoyed it with mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, cranberry relish, green beans with almonds, assorted roasted root vegetables, pearl onions, corn muffins, and thanks to a chance remark by one of the boys as I thought I was almost ready, stuffing.

I hope you enjoyed a great dinner on December 25th also.

By the way, the snow never did eventuate.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Don't stand still too long

because you might get decorated.

While pulling out the tree decorations we came across this headgear and Rolo, ever the obliging type, became the model.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A comment on the decorating?

On Sunday Casey asked if we could put the Christmas tree up. With all that has been going on I was not yet feeling in the mood to do any Christmas decorating but here was someone willing to take the first big step.

All the boxes got hauled out and I asked Casey how he wanted to decorate the tree; he chose the raggle tag collection of old favorites so I was digging deep in the boxes to find what he needed. In my search I came across a box labeled "fish and mermaids from Melbourne". I knew instantly what was in that box and I also recalled that they had likely only been hung once; what the heck, I thought, let's get them out, I need some gaudiness to cheer me up.

So out came seven very, well, ostentatious decorations. And I suspended them from the dining room chandelier which already has a fishy theme.

The next morning as I came into the room to open the blinds I noticed that one mermaid was laying on the table. Was this a power trip? She wanted a dive from the high board? She didn't like the company?
Here she is swimming away. And she was not content with just laying where she dropped (I can see that spot as there are dings in the table top) but there she was almost 12" away heading on out of the picture. But most significantly, to Geoff's dismay, she was entirely unbroken!

She has now been restored to her place and all the hooks have been checked in case any more decide they want to swim away.

Was this a comment on the cheesiness of this spot of decorating?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

needed: three weddings

The reason for my trip to NZ was sad; my dad passed away and I was there to participate in the internment of his ashes.

Saturday, the day we chose to do this, dawned sunny and hot. Dad had spent one last night in his own home and we set off for the cemetery where we were to have what I kept referring to as a DIY funeral. My sisters kept saying "we've already had his funeral" which is true, but as I was not able to be present for that ceremony, for me, this was my funeral for Dad. There was just us, his three daughters, plus one son-in-law and one special friend. We got Dad buried, the hole filled in, the flowers carefully arranged and watered and the grave stone cleaned off. It was time to go.

We had decided we would go out for lunch afterwards. And that is when we happened upon our first wedding. Since it is sometimes better to laugh than to cry, one of us chirped that all we needed was to run across three more weddings and we would have our own version of the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral".

So here are some photos of "One Wedding and a Funeral" wherein the former distracted us from the sadness of the latter.

As we arrived at our chosen venue for lunch we noticed that parking was at a premium. We pulled in thinking we had scored a great parking space only to be asked "are you here for the wedding?" Once we replied that we were not and the car was parked in a better location we went inside. Soon we found out that a wedding was to happen and that the bride would arrive by sea. So, like the other patrons, we were quite distracted and hanging out the window waiting for the expected arrival - see the photo above.

The guests were all in place in the chairs that had been set out and decorated with red ribbons (see my earlier post). I'm guessing the colors chosen for the wedding were selected because of the striking view of the red flowers of the native Pohutukawa tree that is always in full bloom in December.

What a day for memories.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From 82 to 20 in one day

It has been a long time since I updated this blog but a recent trip has provided me with the impetus to post something new.

So about the title : that would be 82 degrees of hot sunny weather in New Zealand to 20 frigid windy degrees at the airport as I arrived back in VA after a very long day (a mere 25 1/2 hours door to door).

On Saturday, this was the scene I was enjoying in Parua Bay, Northland, NZ.

And this was the simple but delicious lunch of perfectly beer batter fried fish I was about to enjoy.

And this cold and chilly scene, shot from my computer room window as it was not at all inviting to step outside, was a view of my back garden the day I arrived back home. Yes, if you look closely, that is ice and not water in the two bird baths.

To be strictly honest, it was Saturday when I took the first photos but the temperature stayed the same if not hotter until Monday when I left. And on Saturday I got quite a sunburn. And now here we are at Wednesday and the weather is still cold and below freezing with a good chance of a first snowfall of the season tomorrow.

Welcome back to reality.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hometown Celebration on July Fourth

As with most July Fourth parades, the fire engines come near the beginning of the parade - the politicians paraded first then the fire engines. We always wondered what would happen if there was a call to the firehouse while the engines were out on the parade and today, we found out. The big truck that was driving ahead of this one suddenly peeled off and the parade got stopped while it retraced it's direction to get out onto the road.

But this is a small town parade at heart. There are almost as many people in the parade as watching it. The kids particularly have a grand time participating and you can see there is quite the initiative to decorate your ride as well as to dress for the occasion. The moms and dads and grandparents are co-opted to walk alongside for those inevitable meltdown moments. There's always a lot of candy thrown in this parade and for the little ones on their bikes it is awfully hard to resist the temptation to stop and scoop up the candy.

And we don't forget our roots. You can guarantee to see some tractors on parade and if you have a red one, well, it just has to be decorated of course.

This was probably one of my favorite entries in the parade today. That dog looked so proud.

Every parade needs an audience. It is a popular event to bring your dog along to.

This horse looked like it wished to be the star. While the other horses walked calmly in the heat this proud beauty fairly pranced along.

After the parade everyone disperses quite quickly. We saw this young boy who appeared to be auditioning for when he is old enough to be in the parade among those walking their dogs.

It was a grand day for the parade in our hometown.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A bouquet for Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day 2010 I created this bouquet (above). The roses came from the florist at Safeway but the big blue bellflowers came from my garden. And the photo, below, shows the red, white and blue flowers out back in my garden. I choose not to have a place for red flowers in my garden but here we have a renegade - what shows as red here was a beautiful soft pink carnation the year I planted it but since then it has flowered as red. Oh well, at least this year the rabbits did not nibble the buds and so I was able to have a red white and blue tableau for Memorial Day. You can see how thrilled Rolo is by this.

This was an area of the garden that took a beating during the building works but with some effort it is turning into a pretty corner. Even the frogs like it!
This little corner is meant to be my herb garden. But the blue delphinium that happily self seed all over the place in the back garden are having a turn. I'm allowing two plants and once the blooms are done I will be quickly pulling them out. The first crop of cilantro is already almost done and a big parsley from last year is already gone to seed. In another week or so that will come out so the basil can go in.
Three tomato plants got settled into their big pots on the deck in the last few days. Now starts the daily watering and checking for the unwanted tomato hookworm while I count down the days until I can pick the first fruit.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Open for the season

Continuing the weekend's theme of history, I made a quick visit to the Colvin Mill on Sunday. Many special events were happening there designed to entice visitors for the opening weekend of the season.

The Mill was operating with the water wheel turning.

The day was a pretty spring one but I felt quite glad that I did not have to dress like these ladies. They were part of the group who were on site creating a Civil War encampment.
In trying to take photographs it was very challenging to try and avoid the obvious signs of the current century. Here the ladies of the encampment go about their business.

A visit with history in the Piedmont

On Saturday we decided to take a day trip down the Piedmont to visit Montpelier, the home of James Madison, the fourth President of the USA. It was a beautiful spring day; the air was full of pollen and we had Rolo, the wonder dog, with us so the outing was not without challenge. But we did enjoy our trip.

James Madison spent almost all his life living in this beautiful part of Virginia. Below you can see his home; as a nine year old child he moved into the newly built central portion. Over the years he added to the home and today's visitors see this view which is a restoration of the property to how it would have looked at the time of Madison's later years (he died here in 1836). Today the property is a National Trust Historic Site administered by the Montpelier foundation. The estate was donated to the National Trust by the DuPont family and after a remarkable five year renovation, the home was opened to the public in 2008.

Who wouldn't like this to be the view from their front entrance porch? Casey and Rolo take in the view to the west of the Blue Ridge mountains, some 20 miles distant.
This structure was referred to as Mr Madison's Temple - it was built over the ice house about 1810. Couldn't we all do with a refrigerator that looked like this one?
And I couldn't resist taking this photo (for obvious reasons to those who know us) on the road outside the estate. That green and white paint color scheme seemed to be on many of the estate buildings - aside that is from the main residence.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wild flowers on a spring walk

This morning Casey and I took a quick stroll along the side of the Potomac River in Riverbend Park. Our reason was to look for the display of Virginia bluebells that I had heard were at their peak. And we were not disappointed. What a stunning display of the beauty of nature.

The wildflowers are growing in profusion along the rivers edge.

Both sides of the trail have the flowers. The morning was brilliantly sunny - perhaps a little too bright to capture the exquisite blue color of the flowers.
We saw more than bluebells. But if I wait to identify these other ones I'll never get this posting done.
It wasn't until I got home and looked at my photos on the computer that I noticed the redbud tree in full bloom in the background of the photo above. And those are the beautiful bluebells in the foreground.
We needed to keep a careful eye out so we did not inadvertently stand on such little treasures as these violets.
And these flowers are really dainty. There are not so many of them but they did have the bonus of being right by the parking lot and were easy to find.

I wish we had had the entire morning to spend enjoying this display.

Friday, April 2, 2010

An all together better S word

This post is to say Happy Easter. The winter weather has finally left and I wanted to share some of my spring photos with you. And firstly, the zero calorie Easter Bunny!

The forsythia does not look as overflowing as many I see around here but it was the first spring bloom in my garden this year. And this clump of daffodils were the first bulbs to bloom.
A spring shot in my front garden. The lawn had it's first cut of the season yesterday and with the blue sky the landscape is looking satisfyingly spectacular.
Compare these two photos of the same location. Below, was how things looked on February 11. Those are very feisty pansies; planted back in October they survived the winter burial of snow.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And now for storm number 4

To get ready for storm number four, my lead shovelman and I have spent hours each day moving snow around. Storm # 3 was Saturday and even allowing for the stuff to settle down and lose some of its fluffiness, here is the pile by the letterbox on late Tuesday afternoon as we prepared for the arrival of storm # 4.
This fellow seems quite inscrutable despite his surroundings. He came all the way from Bendigo, Australia where I doubt he ever had to deal with the likes of this!
The wind is blowing so I had to resort to taking this through the front window. Now keep in mind the front porch is somewhat protected by both the wall you see at the back and the roof. But with blowing snow, even this will need shoveling out.
And here on the deck you can see the effects of the wind driven snow. Ordinarily the wind comes from the opposite direction and this door is protected. Not this time.
Looking out the front window I can barely see that the snow plow did come down the street just before dawn. I'm not sure how long we'll have to wait until it comes again. Looking further over to the main road we were watching the unusual sight of three large pay loaders with back hoes; the buckets are being used to scoop up snow and then dump it over the guard rail into the median area. There is just too much snow to continue plowing it because the piles become too large and dangerous.

I think we will wait until tomorrow to work on our snow removal - we utilise the low tech method of snow shovel and snow blower. With the wind blowing the windchill is around 0 F even as the air temperature is 25 F. And I'm told that even if we move it the wind will blow it back so I guess we'll wait and do a huge job tomorrow.

The sewing machine is calling me and I think I'll answer it's call.

This one's for you, Milde!

And with yet another snow day before me, how to keep busy? Actually, I've got plenty of things I'd like to be doing, just so long as the electricity stays on. But mindful that we could lose it and because I could only buy the last bag of rolls left on the shelf at the supermarket yesterday, I thought I better get busy and make some scones this morning. That is after the electricity came back on at 9:30am or so. Tuesday night I thought I could prepare some chocolate treats, mint brownies, for Casey and I as a reward for all our efforts at snow removal.

And because I thought we might need a break from all these snow photos, I set up this vignette to make you smile Milde. I developed a new technique with the blueberries so I would not have the angst of purple scones; no, instead this time the berries seem to tumble out the side...

In January I joined a local group of artists; the greatest proportion of the members are painters and I have enjoyed seeing what they paint and how they set up still life subjects. Some of the members are photographers and I am not of course in any way trying to compete with them but rather, to learn from them. In the listing of members I appear as quiltmaker. This photo is not quite a still life but it's the thought that counts.

And remember all those cuttings of rosemary for remembrance? I fear I may have to replace all three of my rosemary bushes in the spring. Trying to hedge my bets I have three different varieties planted in three different areas. But they are all looking mightily beaten up by this winter weather we have been having. At least in this shot, taken only five days ago, you can see the rosemary bush. Now it is totally obliterated by the blizzard conditions we have today.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Yes, more snowy photos

And, lo, a tree hatches in the front yard! I just happened to be out and about at the right moment to capture this image on Sunday morning after the big snow event. And since there has not been a lot to do lately except deal with snow I wanted to post some more photos. Not only was there a lot of snow falling in this storm but high winds caused drifting which created some amazing snow sculptures. Below, enjoy the view out the front window. The railing height is 36" and you can see the snow is almost up to that level.

See how the snow built up on very narrow ledges like the top railing of the screen around the ac units and the framework on the top of the pergola.
Can you believe how the snow has curved around the copper roof on the bay window? Later in the afternoon it fell off - perhaps because of all the vibration as I manhandled the snowblower along the front walk.

Just look at those icicles! They do look spectacular but when the sun shines on them they melt and drip and the water falls onto the small part of the deck that is cleared of snow and becomes...a 2" thick slab of ice. I might just as well have left the snow covering the deck.
After Casey and I had spent our fifth effort of snow shoveling on this storm I took a walk up the street to see how far away the snow plow might be. Turning to look back down the street I saw this view. It would be pretty if I knew how to edit out the footprints and trails in the snow.
Finally, I needed some reminder that seasons do change so I went browsing in my old photo files. And found this shot taken on April 3, 2008 when Casey and I went into DC to the tidal basin to view the cherry blossoms. I enjoyed the serenity of this composition.