Weekly Photo Challenge: Peaceful

My favorite, peaceful place is Brookside Garden in Silver Spring, MD. I spent a lot of time there when we lived close by. I have many photos that fit this week photo challenge and the majority of them were snapped at Brookside. Here is just a sampling. I hope you enjoy the slide show of this beautiful, peaceful place. 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The Call of the Beach

It started out as a typical lazy Sunday. We observe the Sabbath, Saturday, and Sunday is our usual day for housecleaning, clothes-washing, bills-paying, and any other “ing” that needs doing. (Sleeping in late, going about our work in a lakadasical way is what makes our Sundays “lazy.”) If we get our “ing” work done early enough, we might take a drive in the country or head into the district (Washington, DC) to stroll down the National Mall or grab a bite at Eli’s.

Yesterday however, we were restless and wanted to do something different. We won’t be living in this area much longer and we have a LONG list of things to do and places to see still. Finally about mid-afternoon we decided to take a drive to the shore, something we’ve talked about since moving to the metro-DC area. After all, it’s only a couple of hours drive from here . . . or so we thought. Actually it took us closer to four hours so we didn’t arrive at the beach proper until around 6:00pm.

The beach? Rehoboth! When the kids were young and still at home, the family used to vacation at Rehoboth each summer. This was my first return there since my divorce years ago. It was Richard’s first visit. And even though it was late in the day, we had great fun walking along the boardwalk as well as along the sandy beach watching the waves roll in. We spent some time there, drove through the quaint, beautiful town, then drove home, arriving around midnight. A delightful day!

We had a beautiful day for a drive, and saw lovely farmland in both Maryland and Delaware.

The following are at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware!

My Man!

Even as we turned homeward, we were greeted with a dazzling sight to cap off our day!

Weekly Photo Challenge, Post-A-Week 2011: Refuge

These are not my best photographs, not even close.  But each in its own way portrays some aspect of “refuge,” at least to this photographer’s eyes.

I shot these about thirty minutes ago from my balcony perch.  I look forward to sitting on my “porch” with my first cup of coffee of the day while watching the sun rise. . .when the weather gets warmer.  Living in Virginia, I expect warmer weather to arrive earlier in the spring than I’ve been used to during the past few years.  Can’t wait.

Our cat, Pele, in her old age has taken to snuggling under the covers when she naps, which is most of the day.  Usually we only see a tail, or when she is completely burrowed in, we see a slight bump indicating that something is under the covers.  I’m sure that here she thinks she is completely hidden from view.  Ahhh, the life of a cat.

I shot this one last summer with my little Olympus point-and-shoot camera.  The other photographs today were taken with my Pentax DSLR, with a Tamron lens.  I find it interesting that of the photos posted today, this one is my favorite.  Just goes to show that it’s not the expensive equipment that makes the photograph! But then  maybe this photo is my favorite because it depicts a place of refuge for me.

A Little R & R From the Studies!

One of the things that my husband I like to do is take walks (or hikes) in area parks near our home.  Since moving to the beautiful state of Virginia however, we have not had the time to explore and find our favorite walking places like we did in Maryland.  Today that changed.  Late in the day, Richard tore me from my studies for a little “R&R” and we drove fifteen or twenty minutes to a nearby park that we have intended to explore since first moving here.  Even though the sky was overcast and the daylight hours were waning, we discovered a new “favorite” place.  I look forward to going back frequently as long as we live in Virginia.  Due to the fact that I do have to get back to my studies though, I will let the photos suffice for the verbiage, you know, a picture is worth a thousand words–or some such thing.  Enjoy Burke Lake!  I’m sure there will be more of where these came from in the future.


Notice all the languages.

EEEEEEEK!!! Not Again!

In January of this year, we moved from Maryland to Virginia, from a four-bedroom house to a three-bedroom apartment.  It was not the easiest move in the world, far from it.  Rather, it was one of the worst moves I have ever experienced, and I have moved a lot!  But, as horrendous as the experience was, we survived it and are now living in a delightful, sunny, cheerful apartment.  This is one of those places that fit like a glove. We have made friends quite easily, and even our beloved cat Pele took to this place like a fish to water.  In other words, we love it here even though we’ve been here just one month!

If you are wondering why we made the move, it was to be closer to Richard’s work.  For three and a half years his daily commute was three to four hours (round trip).  If you ever lived in Washington, DC, and braved the beltway, you know what I mean when I say that it was a grueling trek from Silver Spring, MD, to Lorton, VA.  The toll on him physically, mentally and emotionally was something we both worried about.  So, when in November he signed a contract for another year, we decided that living in this rat race was no longer an acceptable way to live out our middle age and senior years.  Life is simply too short, and there is too much to see and do to waste it battling traffic on a freeway.  So, we found an apartment much closer to his work and here we are in the wonderful state of Virginia.  Richard’s round trip commute is now less than one hour.  This month, despite the headaches of moving, has been great.

But as life would have it, things got a little bumpy this week.  Thanks to the Office of the Secretary of State (or was it Secretary of Defense???) the entire research and development team was eliminated (LOTS of jobs).  Deep cuts throughout the District, are wreaking havoc with people’s lives.  The obliteration was brutal and totally unexpected by everyone, from the top position to the lowest.  People in high management, loyal folks who had been with the company since the 1970’s, people with mortgages and children in college, and my husband, too, all got the axe.  (Yes, the imagery is savage, so was the sacking!) There was no time to prepare, no time to consider options or to seek other employment.  No one saw this coming, yet despite that fact, the company has gone to extreme lengths to help as many of their employees get back on their feet as possible. (Kudos to TASC!) Many will be forced to take early retirement.  Others will be relocated to open positions elsewhere within TASC.  Plans to provide job placement services have been set up and go into effect by the end of the month.  Everyone is hurting, and they are pulling together to get through this crisis.  If you are a praying person, now would be a good time!

As to our situation, it’s the “relocate” that causes me some dread.  Talks have already been initiated in an effort to keep Richard with the company, but that will mean moving far away from this wonderful community and lovely apartment. . . and we just moved in.  Packed boxes are still neatly stacked in corners as we continue fitting in to our space.  Those boxes will now remain packed until we find out where Richard will be working.  Along with many others, our lives were just turned “topsy turvy.”

Reflecting on the unfolding events of this past week, I thought of the parsha (Torah reading) of the week of our marriage, Lech Lecha/Genesis 12-17.   Actually, every time we move, I think of our marriage parsha.   It is the portion where  Hashem speaks to Avram (this is before his name change) and tells him “Go forth from your native land, and from your parent’s house to the land that I will show you” (12.1).  Don’t misunderstand me; I am NOT comparing myself to Avram.  It’s the “go” part that gets to me.  Go from your land, go from your family, go to another land.  I never ever in my most far-fetched dreams wanted to be a nomad.  But here I am.  I quit counting “moves” when I reached number 36. A few of the moves were different locations within the same city or town, but a move is a move, and anyone who has moved knows what I mean.  I am very tired of “relocating.”  Enough is enough!

On the other hand, I have lived in some very interesting places, places I would never have known about had we not relocated.   I have friends all over this country, and the world due to our many “homes” and various communities.  Every place we have lived has its blessings, and those blessings have always outweighed the curses in life (eventually).  So, we go out to those places that Hashem shows us.

I may be getting ahead of myself though.  There are people actively searching to find Richard a position in this area so that we will not have to move again.  I am able to continue my coursework, and can do so no matter where we live—one of the advantages of an online graduate program.  The job on the other side of this country is not a sure bet just yet, but TASC is working on it.  Richard has an office to work from for another week and a half.  The coming days will be filled with uncertainty.  Lech Lechah, Go, rings in my ears as it has become the theme of our lives.  But lech lecha is always followed by “I will show you.”  Assurance amidst the confusion of leaving.    Gamzu l’tovah/This, too, is for the best.

We got married during Lech Lecha, and we’ve been “going” ever since.  And Hashem has guided our footsteps, showing us the way every time.

Electricity. . .or the lack thereof!

It is a cold January morning in northern Virginia.  Just a few days ago we were blessed with the first snow storm of the year.  And as we have come to expect, it also brought a power outage our way.  Last year, when we were still living in Maryland, we had several big outages, one lasting an entire week. . .but that is another story.  This year I have learned that enduring an outage in an apartment is easier than when we lived in a house.  I don’t know why that is except that apartment dwellers get friendly with each other when there is a mutual crisis.  At any rate, besides the inconvenience, “making do” triggered some fond childhood memories of how we managed in cold weather without modern gadgets and conveniences.

Images of winters in Louisiana come to mind.  Most people outside of the state assume that Louisiana, being that far south, doesn’t really have a winter.  Compared to the northern tier states of Michigan, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, all states that I have lived in, Louisiana winters are rather “wimpy.”  But don’t be fooled, it does get cold in the winter months, at least in the northern panhandle of the state.  When we heard reports of an impending freeze, Dad would crawl under the house and swaddle the water pipes, a preventative measure against freezing or bursting.  As an added precaution, Mom would make sure that there was a continuous “drip” from the house faucets because moving water is slower to freeze than standing water.  These precautions did not always work, and there were times we had frozen water pipes, and in fact there may have been a time or two when the pipes actually burst.  It really does get cold in Louisiana.

During our present outage, as I lit the gas stove (no electricity meant I had to dig out the matches and light the stove the “old fashioned way”) I remembered the open-faced radiant gas heaters in the houses “back in the day” (1950’s and ‘60’s).  We did not have central air, rather every room had it’s own gas heater.  That way, only the rooms in use would be heated.  Not a bad idea actually—heating only the rooms that are in use makes both ecological and economical sense.  Because the flames of the small heaters were “open” flames, Mom was fearful of sleeping with the heaters on at night.  It would have been too easy for one of us kids to inadvertently toss off the bed coverings onto the flames, thus igniting a fire, or for one of us to stumble in a hazy fog on the way to the bathroom late at night and fall into the heater.  So, when we finally headed off to sleep, we would crawl into beds piled high with quilts and blankets. (Quilts were strictly utilitarian, none of this “hanging on the wall as art work” stuff.  I could point out the different pieces of fabric and tell you what homemade garment it came from.)  Once we were snuggled in for the night, Mom would tiptoe around to each of our bedrooms and shut off the heat.  Of course, that made getting up in the mornings rather abrasive.  Twenty-degree temperatures were not unusual during a cold snap.  Did I mention that there was no wall-to-wall carpeting, either?  I don’t even remember throw rugs in the bedrooms.  Mom was always vigilant about fire hazards. Not only did we arise to a frigidly cold house, walking in our bare feet on cold, hard-wood floors was like walking on ice cubes.  I remember a lot of shivering and teeth chattering.  In order to alleviate some of the distress of getting out of bed in the early winter mornings, Mom would once again steel around to each room and light the heaters about ten minutes before we had to get up and start getting ready for school.  Once out of bed, each of us four kids would quickly gather our clothing for the day, race to a spare heater, and claim it as our’s before one of the others reached it.  (My favorite heater was in the dining room because not only did I get light from the kitchen, I could also talk to Mom while I was getting dressed.) We would hold our garments piece-by-piece, beginning with underwear, over the heater to warm it up before putting it on.  Stepping into toasty-warm clothes made up for our rude, cold-morning awakenings.  Meanwhile, Mom was preparing a hot breakfast (either Oatmeal,

Still a staple in my home.

Cream of Wheat, Ralston, or occasionally grits, buttered toast from the oven—no toaster—homemade jelly, tang and powdered milk [yes, powdered milk—ghastly stuff]) because she was a believer in having a good breakfast to start the day.  Then, dressed and fed, we would head out the door to school.

At the time, one doesn’t think that mundane activities such as waking to a cold house and getting ready for school is of any significance in the scheme of life.  We take daily living for granted. . .at least I often do.  But I have discovered that the glue of life and relationships and imbuing life values in the next generation happens in the ignoble activities of “putzing” through our ordinary days.  This week as I was figuring out how to manage without electricity, I felt blessed albeit inconvenienced.  Although we had no heat, we had plenty of blankets to snuggle under. There was no refrigeration, but all the food made it nicely through the night in boxes on our balcony. There were no lights, but candles added romance to an unexpected quiet evening with my husband. And finally, I’m a photography buff, and the beauty of new fallen snow was a delight to my eyes and food for my hobby!  So, all-in-all, we managed quite nicely.