Cats . . . The Big Ones! (And a few other animals, too)


Course requirements dictated that I attend a week-long colloquial in Arlington, Virginia, USA, this week. Hundreds of us, all grad students working (or hoping to work) in the mental health field converged on the city just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC, to spend six intense days of study, learning and experiencing in a classroom setting. The day before classes were scheduled to begin, a friend and I took part of a day to venture into the capital district to visit the National Zoo. As you will see in the following photos, I was captivated by the big cats! Enjoy.

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I Felt the Earth Shake Under My Feet . . .

Yes I did!  Today started off as a glorious day for me.  I completed two weekly discussion posts for my class, and received an invitation to apply for a part-time position beginning in September.  I packed a few boxes (all of our books) and had just sat down for a break.  I heard a slight rattle and the cat jumped, meowed . . . then froze as stiff as a board.  Within another couple of seconds the entire building began to shake.  Not just any old shake, but really strong moving and rattling shake.  It sounded like someone was taking a sledgehammer to the walls next door.  It took another few seconds to realize that yes, we were having an earthquake right here in the metro-Washington, DC, area.  Those things aren’t supposed to happen here but here it was.  Now I am in a third floor apartment and I didn’t know what I to do.  We prepare for tornadoes or hurricanes in this area, but earthquakes?  Not so much.  At any rate I scooped up the cat and ran to the door.  The earth was still shaking . . . I didn’t know that those things lasted so long.  I stood in the doorway not knowing whether to run down three flights of stairs and out into the open or to just brace myself and wait.  I have no idea how long the quake lasted, but it seemed like an eternity.  Shortly afterwards Richard called to check on me.  He was on his way back to work after lunch and heard breaking news about the quake on the radio. I assured him that I was fine.  At the moment though, I was wishing he was still in DC with me.  Just to let you know how bad it was, I decided to post a few photos showing the damage in our apartment:

The first thing I noticed was that some oil cups in our Shabbos candelabra had fallen over:

I also saw that our Havdalah set was a bit askew, that the wine goblet had fallen over and the candle was a bit tilted . . . but then the candle always tilts so that may have had nothing to do with the earthquake:

As I walked through the apartment, I checked in our large storage closet only to find that some items had fallen over and that a couple of plastic bowls had fallen off the shelves:

And the last thing I discovered is that the earthquake had caused our Chanukah Menorah to scoot off the edge of the shelf so that it fell against the wall:

So there you have it!  This is the damage to our place from today’s earthquake, this and some frayed nerves for both myself and Pele, my beloved blind cat! While there was some damage to a few buildings elsewhere, to my knowledge no one was hurt. Richard, we missed you today.

And a special note for all my west coast family and friends: We did too have an earthquake!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mountains

Well, this challenge posed a challenge.  I live near mountains (Virginia) but have no transportation to get to them.  I thought a lot about how I would meet this challenge, then realized that I really didn’t have to go far to find mountains.  Often on these challenges, I have felt that I needed to go afar to find some profoundly beautiful once-in-a-lifetime shot for it to be a worthy photograph.  Usually when I get into that mode though, I am humbled to find that “the shot” is no more than an arm’s length away.  Today’s challenge proved to be no different.  So, I humbly submit my weekly photo challenge entry. Enjoy!

After conquering these mountains I made my way down long, narrow trails and through canyons the likes of which I had never seen before!

Once through this treachery, I arrived at the foot of yet another mountain that left me in tears as I thought of how many more mountains awaited, all begging to be conquered!

I longed for the days of just a month ago~or less~when our trail wended through bucolic beauty and serene landscapes.  Would I ever see those days again?  Ahhhh, the memories they made!

Ah well, enough of my faded (actually, not so faded) memories.  Back to the canyon lands and the packing and conquering the mountains in my home.  Hope you enjoyed the journey with me.  😀

The Moving Begins!

As often as I’ve moved, one would think that I have the routine down pat, but no, not so. No matter how many times I do it, moves never become easy or “old hat.”  Each time we relocate, there are unique considerations to assess, unexpected blockades for a smooth transition, or crisis of our own doing (sabotage?) to work through.  On the other hand, I know the routine. I’m pretty good at “guess-timating” how many boxes we will need.  After all, a move is a move is a move!

Since Richard is leaving in a couple of days for our new locale (to begin work on Monday, I won’t see him for five weeks), we have been gathering provisions into the house: food for a month, boxes and boxes and boxes, tape and tape and tape, other moving supplies.  I could gather these things myself after he leaves, but then if you’ll remember, I sold my cute little economical Honda “Marshmallow” Fit some time back since I was not driving it . . . after relocating here to Virginia . . . oh well.

Last night–in 100-degree heat–we went to our unconditioned, non-ventilated, indoor storage unit to gather boxes we saved from our last move . . . seven months ago. After our third trip with a car-load of boxes back to our apartment, Richard and I went for ice-cream and a stroll around a nearby lake (see here and here.) As an aside, one of the things I learned years ago was the importance of taking “mini” breaks from the stresses of moving, no matter how crunched you are for time.  Those breaks will carry one through many tense moments, stressed-out psyches, emotional breakdowns, and frayed nerves.  

Today our focus has been on getting Richard ready to move with his essentials into an apartment half-way across the country.  We are already tired and dreading the time apart. On the other hand, I’m excited to get on with it and get this piece (moving) behind us.  Now that I’ve had my little break (I could really go on for hours about all the details that are wreaking havoc at the moment, but it all sounds so mundane, the stuff of every move, so I’ll spare you the drama) it is time for me to get back to work.

BTW, it is raining hard and steady outside at the moment.  Temperatures are dropping. YAY!  Y’all have a great day. 🙂

Our Glorious Vacation: Days 4 and 5

Day 4: On this day we mellowed!  No traveling, no plays, no sight-seeing; we stayed home put our feet up and relaxed.  Different family members dropped in to chat, and I visited with a neighbor I hadn’t seen in years.  We sat on the back porch and talked about those mundane things that are the glue of relationships: the hot weather, our children and grandchildren, who is marrying who and will so-and-so ever get married, the jobs we love and those we don’t love so much, etc.  By mid-afternoon the summer heat won out, and we moved in doors to air-conditioned comfort, but the talk continued.  Later we prepared a simple meal of garden vegetables followed by a desert of ice cream drizzled with chocolate syrup.  It was a simple day, a simple meal . . . a delicious day as we all had a wonderful, relaxing day of enjoying each other’s company. That night we slept a contented sleep which was good, because day 5 would be another travel day.

A few shots from Mom and Dad‘s place.

Day 5: The second leg of our journey took us to Detroit, Michigan. A dear friend’s son is celebrating his Bar Mitzvah and we wanted to join in the celebration.  Before we departed on our trip however, Richard and I stole away to take a stroll along the Ohio River, just a couple of miles from Mom and Dad’s place.  The mist was just rising from the dew-moistened earth, birds were chirping loudly, and we had a peaceful walk.  Due to the recent floods that left debris strewn everywhere, we were unable to follow the path down to the river.  But the walk was enjoyable none-the-less.

My brother, David, stopped in on his way to work to wish us one last good-bye.

Then once again, we hit the road!

The scenery from Louisville, Kentucky to Detroit, Michigan is quite different from what we saw traveling through Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.  Our trip this day took us through rich, fertile farm country.  It was a great day for traveling.  Except for a major traffic backup in Toledo, we had not problems.


We arrived in Detroit around 5:30 pm and were seated at a banquet by 6:00 pm.

For the next three days we will be visiting, feasting and celebrating with our friends.  I will probably not post again until we are back home.  Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you when I get back.  Thanks for taking this wonderful vacation with me!

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.

Delayed Gratification Sucks! . . . even if it does lead to better things in life.

This Sunday morning is sunny and bright. After a long January of snow and ice, this day is a magnificent reminder that spring is on its way. Punxsutawney Phil said so, too, just days ago. If you have been following this blog, you know that Spring is my favorite season of the year. Life bursts out of its hibernation, buds open to new foliage, blossoms blossom, and we humans begin to shed our heavy, dark winter coverings for more colorful, light weight garments. Springtime brings magnificent colors to replace the dull grays and browns associated solitude and isolation wrought by winter’s forbidding cold temperatures which keep us inside.  Mind you, there is a stark beauty in winter, and there are those who thrive in the out-of-doors during that season, but after a while the cold and snow wears thin for most of us.  Springtime, with new life emerging everywhere, provides a photographer’s paradise, and my camera is close by, ready for use. I love spring, and today is almost spring-like, even though snow patches still dot the landscape, reminding me that winter “ain’t over yet.” Today is a wonderful day to get out, take a walk, shoot some photos, and simply enjoy the sunshine.

BUT, I sit here at this computer with journal articles and scholarly books scattered around me. I write about the different Codes of Ethics of the various professional organizations for counselors and psychotherapists. Virginia state laws governing the practices of people in the various counseling professions sits open to the laws of confidentiality. Perched next to it, and open to a section on “referencing components” and “crediting sources,” is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition. In other words, despite the spring-like environment outside my windows, I sit in this winter cave working on a power point presentation for my ethics class. . .due tonight. I’m not good at ignoring beautiful weather, or excursions to places of interest (that figures in this equation, too, since my husband and I have not taken the time to explore the region since moving here last month.)

Yesterday at our synagogue, Richard and I attended a class after the morning services. It just so happens that one question that arose during the discussion was how to decide which “good thing” to do when faced with the dilemma of “two good things.” Also, how can one tell what the “good thing” is?  Oftentimes what appears like a good thing may not be, and something that appears to be not so good, may be the best thing to do.  The discussion was lively as we considered various scenarios.   Today, as I pondered my present situation and whether or not to throw caution to the wind, grab my camera and head outside, I remembered that I am in school for a good reason, and sometimes I have to put off what I would like to do in order to fulfill my commitments and meet a deadline. . .like now. In the long run, all will be good. I am preparing for an honorable profession, one that serves the needs of others while simultaneously providing a livelihood for my husband and me. In our discussion yesterday, our rabbi referred to the sages when he said that if one is doing a good thing, s/he does not leave that good thing to go do something else, even if the “something else” is also a good thing (unless it is to save a life.) No matter how good or honorable the distraction, it is still a distraction. So, even though I do not like delayed gratification, gratification, mixed with a good dose of a sense of accomplishment, will come in time and I will forget this moment of struggle. Gamzu l’tovah, this too, is for the good!

Ahhh, so there you have it.  I am doing the better thing by sticking with my studies, and who knows, maybe I’ll finish this up in time to take in a movie tonight with my husband.  So, without further delay, I return to my ethics class!