Wednesday, October 28, 2015

'Tis the Season

For yellow flowers! I'm seeing their cheery color everywhere. A good many of the Golden Rain trees have since turned coral, however, this one is still holding onto some yellow:
Blooms are on the ground:
while these beauties are straining skyward.
And here's another pretty bush full of yellow blooms:
As well it is the season for Halloween decorations, and I've seen some doozies! Which you will soon be privy to, however,  first I will begin with a sweet one:
Super cute, right? Quite the contrast with this one:
That is just so creepy I can't imagine living with that for weeks! How about this for a display?
There was even more at this home, however, I think you've seen enough.

Apparently, skeletons are very "in" this year because I'm seeing them everywhere. On bikes...
in a boat:
And, a whole front yard of them!!! Where do people store this kind of stuff????
I know I may sound like a humbug, but seriously?
Sherri is teaching her final semester in Pennsylvania, however, she has come done every now and again and was thinking of doing so around Halloween. One of her texts read--"are there many trick or treaters?" And the answer to that is NO, we are lucky if we get a handful of them. What with all the old folks in our neighborhood, including us (!), there just aren't any children to go door to door. Bruce used to love sitting outside with the candy bowl, greeting the children, but in the last few years he's realized it is mostly a lost cause. Dating myself, I do miss not only that, but home made costumes. Not that I was ever much good at making them, but some folks were.

That's it for this year's installment on Halloween decorations....what do the neighborhoods look like around your house?

Finally, because I like this photos so much from the DC trip, I'm sharing some clouds so perfectly reflected in the office tower at Tyson's Corner.
No such luck with clouds here today as the skies are gray and gloomy with intermittent rain.

Time to do some quilting,

Gail

p.s I couldn't leave this post without one more shot--
Skulls, skulls, and more skulls!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Somethings New

Well, we are finally back to the here and now, following the trip to DC. What's been happening? Plenty.

I suppose you probably wondered what exactly the chair that caused such a ruckus around here looks like? Well, here you go...
He sure is a handsome fellow don't you think? I know I shouldn't put you on the spot like that, nor do I think Mr. Bruce would like me writing it, but, seriously, I can't help myself!!

My friend Sue's kitchen is complete, and she's having fun decorating with an ever changing tableau on the counters and shelves. When last I visited, one counter looked like this:
I need to ask her more about that portion control scale--very intriguing. The shabbier the better as far as Sue is concerned--same goes with rust--she's crazy for it!
I love seeing how she turns all her thrift store finds into something beautiful. While on the subject of friends, Pam re-introduced me to her Portland friend, Irene, who is looking to move, possibly here, in the near future. Apparently I met her a year or two ago, but, everyone knows how horrible my memory is! Actually, once we began talking about a mutual interest, everything came back to me.

So, just what is our mutual interest? Sewing!! Irene loves to sew! Rarely do I meet a kindred spirit on that front. We had a blast talking about sewing, much to the chagrin of others less interested in the subject. :) Although not life-long friends, they've been sharing their lives for more than thirty years.
I was super crazy for Irene's homemade dress, wanting one for myself! Thursday, well that was only a few days ago wasn't it? Anyway, since I've not been selling, I've been looking to do some volunteering; on Thursdays the paper runs some notices for just that. I saw something that required a knowledge of sewing (!), called Days for Girls International.  Have you heard of it? Sounding vaguely familiar, I thought I might be a good fit, so my next query was checking out the location; Wandering Stitches Quilting Studio. About six miles from here, of all things it is situated in an office park rather than a retail location. Friday morning I drove over to give it a look see, and was I ever surprised. Fantastic place!! Gorgeous fabrics! Amazing machines! Friendly people!
Much to my surprise, they are celebrating five years in business. Apparently, people who love to sew have found them just fine and dandy. As the name implies, there are plenty of quilts on display, as well as some in process. Below one of the shop workers is adding some batting to a quilt on the amazing computerized quilting machine.
Although I had no specific project in mind, I could not help buying some fabric, as I found myself surrounded by more beautiful fabric in one place than I can hardly ever remember. A little after two in the afternoon, Pam called saying she and Irene were stopping by. Great! While we were chatting I mentioned the store, and the next thing you know, Pam is driving us back there. In a small shop like that you can imagine the folks were surprised to see me a second time in one day! Irene was in fabric heaven as well, and even Pam, a mostly non-sewer got into it. The three of us gathered round to watch the quilting machine in action.
Isn't machinery great? Today, I saw the finished product hanging on the wall.
Following our trip to the store, we went over to Jennifer and Alex's house for a little visit. Seeing as it was my first time visiting their home, a little tour was part of the agenda. Apparently, at one time they had Koi fish in their pond, however, otters from the lake across the street made their way through storm drains and into their pond for a feast. Goldfish are safe.
I promised new stuff, and I'm not disappointing am I? Here's a wonderful new mural downtown on Jefferson Street. I love the unsaturated colors. Surprised? I am too, what with how much I love full blown color!
After church we took a little walk in Central Park, located on Park Avenue, in Winter Park. Is there a record for using Park in a sentence, because if not, I think I've just set it! But what else is a girl to do?
Our purpose was to see for ourselves some new public art that I think is temporary, however, I'm a little sketchy on the details. Nonetheless, how do you feel about these? Amazingly lifelike they are made out of resin or fiberglass? Bruce was unimpressed with the concrete work.
On the far right in the photo above, you might notice a woman looking like an old fashioned convict strolling along with her dog. She would be walking to some sort of Halloween contest for dogs?

Mr. Baxter is looking new too, what with a major haircut and all.
Leaving the house this morning around 9:30, I said to Bruce, it is always an experience meeting a group of new people, but generally most folks are nice, so I expect that will be the case. Well, my expectations were exceeded. Everyone I met was super nice and friendly. Here is a sample kit...
Made from scrap fabric it is ingenious, including two pairs of panties, a wash cloth and soap, as well as an additional plastic bag to be used as a washing receptacle. Today they had one of their best ever turn outs of volunteers, at one point eighteen woman worked for four hours straight.
The woman on the far left worked long hours cutting all the pieces to be sewn beforehand. Mostly it was older women, such as myself, however, it was nice to see a few young women in the group. Once everything was sewn, the kits were packed.
Two batches were completed, one for girls, and one for postpartum women. I'm only showing some of what was accomplished today. In fact, with so many ladies today, the work was done an hour ahead of time, as well as more being completed than our organizer dared hope for. From here they will travel to Malawi, where classes will be held on how to utilize them. The next meet up is scheduled for November 30th. Lord willing, I'll be there!

Happy to be of service,

Gail

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Please Talk to Strangers

Taking the Silver Line on the Metro from Tyson's Corner into the city takes thirty minutes, give or take five minutes on either side of that estimate. Because I'm not big on staring at my phone, during my journey into the city Wednesday, I began reviewing some of the zoo photos on my camera. Wonder of wonders, the woman sitting next to me began looking over at them, asking how I was going to use them. Quietly we chatted about photography, geography, and anything else that came to mind, becoming so engaged in our conversation, I nearly missed the Smithsonian station! My son Matthew is a great trip planner, lining up all his activities beforehand. Well, I'm here to tell you that he did not get that skill from me!

Sure, I spend time researching before a trip, but mostly I just wing it. Coming up the stairs of the station, I was confronted with this view looking one way,
and this, the other.
Now what? With no map in hand, I decided to somehow make my way to the Washington Monument. A clay walkway led me to Constitution Avenue and I began walking with no real plan. That is until, walking along the sidewalk here,
I encountered a uniformed woman, with map in hand, giving directions to a couple, nearly as clueless as I. Edging closer, I asked if I could join the conversation. Well, of course you can!! From her we learned there is something called the DC Circulator, a big red bus that comes every ten minutes. The cost? One dollar! We also learned she is a retired Naval officer, now volunteering as a visitor guide. Hallelujah! Crossing the road, with a new map in hand, we waited together for the sight of the big red bus, during which time I learned they are from Pennsylvania, and he is an asphalt contractor. Talk about six degrees of separation, he once bid on a Red Lobster job. Not one of Bruce's, but still....

Taking very comfortable seats, we chatted our way through the Mall area of Washington, DC, ogling all of the sights. Our driver got lost! Not for long, but with construction in the area, she became confused.
Along the way we saw what appeared to be some official cars, along with what surely must have been Secret Service agents near the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Hmmm....

Deciding to go it alone, I got off at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial stop. Walking the short distance, I found my initial sight to be very moving.
That said, I wanted to know more. The yellow shirted folks are the volunteers who are more than happy to answer questions. The woman I chose to approach was full of information, explaining the symbolism of everything. Stuff like the same stone is used for the walkways, as the memorial wall. The wall is polished to be reflective, the roped off grass, the diamonds, and dots, on the actual wall, and more. Her passion really added so much to the experience.
Furthermore, she explained all of the controversy surrounding the wall, including the installation of the Three Servicemen Memorial.
Even more, she insisted I would be very sorry did I not visit the Korean War Memorial. Will do, I replied! Using her excellent directions, I made my way first to the Lincoln Monument, which as most of you know is HUGE.
Just before I got to this space, I passed a stand that intrigued me...
I've since learned it is a charity bringing attention  to both prisoners of wars and missing in action soldiers from all previous wars. I can't imagine how horrible it would be to be a family member of a missing soldier although, in a few moments I will tell a little story about a woman I know who lived with just that.

How many millions of photos that look like this do you think exist in the world?
A bunch, however, these days I believe most of them will have a person or group standing in front because I saw it everywhere!
Honestly, I don't get it. The truth is you can hardly walk around because everywhere you turn people are having their pictures made in front of ______. You fill in the blank! I walked around the outside of the monument, affording a wonderful view of the Mall.
Our son Bill is "stone-crazy," and I couldn't help but think how much he would love seeing these columns.

Very nearby is the excellent Korean War memorial. Walking up, you first see this:
Although the Korean War is not discussed much, I'm so glad it seems as if no expense was spared here. The fine etchings on the wall are incredible.

Here's a closer look:
It was not long before I discovered that indeed the President of South Korea had visited just before I did. Many Koreans were still mingling about and, of course, having their photograph made.
That daisy dress pretty much rocks, doesn't it? Sitting adjacent to a large reflecting pool is this:
Honestly, I could not get over how beautifully done the entire Memorial is.
From there I walked along the path adjacent to the reflecting pool towards the WWII memorial. Want to see something other than a memorial? How about a few ducks?
Okay, now that you've had a nature break, onward. I got no closer than this to the WWI Memorial.
And across the highway, in the distance I saw the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Another time perhaps?
As pictured, a few trees were beginning their annual show! The National World War II Memorial is the newest memorial, opening in 2004. I suspect most Americans have at least one family member who was involved in the conflict that changed the world forever. My father was not a soldier, however, Bruce's Dad was. As well, his Uncle was killed and buried at sea in the Pacific during what I've learned through Matt's ancestry research, was an incredibly horrible battle. As such, I was drawn to this area.
Bruce's Grandma spent, I don't know how much time not knowing what happened to her son Rolla. And then, of course, his body was never recovered. A sea burial.

Not only is it the newest, but I dare say it is perhaps the largest of the memorials? This part is so beautiful.
If you've never seen it in person, here is what you are looking at.
There is both an Atlantic side, and a Pacific side...
I could not help but think how carefree these two boys were as were so many of the thousands of boys who served in WWII at their age.
It is so beautifully done, it is hard not to show more photographs! I'll leave this area with only one more.
This is one of, I think four? The hugging couple over the mailbox!! My, how times have changed.

My helper from the Vietnam Memorial had given me excellent directions on how best to view the White House, as apparently these folk's guide did on their Segway tour of DC.
Just down the street is the new African American Museum, slated to open later in the year, although seems to me as if that is fairly ambitious given the state of the construction. A very handsome building indeed. (shortened name by me)
In this part of the city all the food options seem to limited to, basically glorified hot dog stands, parked along the sides of the road. Do you suppose they still sell much film?
After all my roaming around, I went into the American History museum, beginning my visit in the cafeteria downstairs. As with all the museums, there is so MUCH to discover that I'm typically overwhelmed given my penchant for wanting to read each placard! I decided, with the limited time I had left for exploring, to visit the First Ladies exhibit, and I was not disappointed. In person, Michelle Obama's Inaugural gown is even more beautiful than I thought, and not nearly as yellow as this photo would lead you to believe.
And you should have seen her jewelry! Unbelievable!

Then it was back to the Metro stop and on the train to meet up with Mr. Bruce. Sadly, there was not even one chatty stranger on my journey!

Always indebted to the kindness of strangers,

Gail

P.S. Although this was only about a year ago, I'm reposting this piece after reading yesterday that the paint company, Benjamin Moore, proclaimed Simply White their color of the year for 2016! Cheryle was on this before they were! No wonder I felt no need to find a different white for the fireplace.

Limping Along