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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Nuttin but Cherry Blossoms!

On my forray to the Cleveland Botanical Garden earlier this week, I was surprised to see Cherry Blossom trees! And they were in full bloom! While we don’t have the profusion of these lovely trees that Washington, DC has, the few we do have are just as stunning. Now that I’ve had a little time to process some of the photos from a few days ago, here are a few of the Cherry Blossoms for your enjoyment! ūüôā

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This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Trees in Washington, DC. As a gift of friendship, Japan sent 3020 of these beautiful trees to the US in 1912. The first two Yeshino Cherry trees were planted on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin by Mrs. Helen “Nellie” Taft (wife of President William Howard Taft) and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador. After the planting, Nellie presented a bouquet of American Beauty roses to the Viscountess. (Those two trees still stand on 17th Street near the John Paul Jones statue.) Today there are 12 species of Cherry Blossom trees and about 3750 trees now grow around the Tidal Basin and the Washington Monument area.

The Cherry Blossom Tree connection with Ohio is that Nellie Taft hails from Ohio, and the National First Ladies’ Library is¬†in Canton, OH, about an hour’s drive south of Cleveland. On June 25, the library is sponsoring an elegant high tea, known as Helen Taft’s Cherry Blossom Tea. Visitors will be able to enjoy tea and chat with ¬†“First Lady Helen Taft” (historical re-enactor) as she reminisces about the Cherry Blossom Trees and tells her life story.

Helen Taft’s Cherry Blossom Tea will take place between 10:00am and noon on Saturday, June 25, at the National First Ladies’ Library at 205 Market Ave. S., Canton, OH. Reservations are required, and the cost is $35. For more information, call 330-452-0876 ext. 307.

I wish to acknowledge Pamela Martens, the Cleveland Travel Examiner, for the information provided here on the Helen Taft Cherry Blossom Tea.

If any of you are able to attend the tea, please blog about it and let the rest of us know how it was! Have a glorious day, and enjoy the Cherry Blossoms! ūüôā

Sunday Post: Expression

Last year on one of our forays into the district (Washington, DC), we stopped in a cafeteria to grab something to drink. These two ladies working behind the counter saw that I was toting a camera and asked if I would take a photo. Of course I obliged! Just as I snapped, the one puckered up! ūüôā I think this is a delightful photo. Their names escape me, but I did email them the photos I took that day. Never heard from either again but I hope they are enjoying themselves.

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: Entrance


I shot this in Washington, DC, a few months ago. ¬†It wasn’t until I uploaded it to the computer that I noticed the bird! ¬†Perfect! ¬†Enjoy this entrance into a lovely garden of some official building.

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!

Spring is Sprung!

Last week my husband and I hopped the Metro into the district (as in Washington, DC) to enjoy the Cherry Blossom Festival. ¬†I couldn‚Äôt wait to get to the National Mall but Richard would rather be doing a hundred other things than follow me around as I shoot photos of flowers (394 frames to be exact, but whose counting), so he ended up visiting the History Museum while I meandered around the Tidal Basin, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, etc. etc. etc.¬† We met up when I was done¬†sight-seeing and photographing, and took in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.¬† Following that, we strolled together to the capitol building before finally heading home.¬† I don‚Äôt even want to guess how many miles I walked but by the time I got home and after I had a nice chat with Mom, I fell into bed exhausted, ¬†sleeping soundly until around 4:30am.¬† At that time, I awoke to the cacophony of birds tweeting, singing and chatting in the holly tree outside our bedroom window.¬† That is always music to my ears.¬† This truly is a glorious time of the year.¬† While every season has its beauty and ‚Äúspecialness,‚ÄĚ the springtime of the year has to be my favorite season by far.¬† The earth is coming to life after its long winter slumber and I don‚Äôt want to miss a minute of it!

photo of seder, from Wikipedia

Spring is also the season of Pesach, known as Passover to most non-Jews.  Pesach is the most work-intensive holiday in the Jewish year.  Our homes, cars, businesses, storage areas ~ everything we own ~ must be rid of leaven, chometz as it is known in Hebrew.  Every nook and cranny is scrubbed, checked and double checked for even a crumb, and it must all be destroyed.  Refrigerators are thoroughly cleaned.  Stoves are scrubbed and koshered.  Ovens are scoured.  Every cabinet, drawer, surface in the kitchen is completely cleared off and cleaned, then koshered and covered.  The floor is continually swept and scrubbed until it is so clean one could eat off of it.  EVERYTHING ones uses for food preparation or consumption is cleaned and koshered.  If it can’t be koshered, it is sold along with all the consumable food items that might possibly have the slightest hint of chometz.  The kitchen and dining area get the most attention during this time of Pesach cleaning.  But the rest of the house or apartment must be checked as well.  Every pocket in every garment is checked for small crumbs.  We even look under the beds for half-eaten sandwiches or bag of chips that a child might have left (since our kids are no longer living at home, this is not a problem.)  Clean the chometz out of bathrooms (you’d be amazed at how much chometz is in toothpaste, mouthwash and other toiletries. . .it’s all gotta go!)  Carpets are vacuumed . . . repeatedly.  Cleaning for Pesach is a long, cumbersome process.  Once the chometz is gone, Pesach cooking begins! The seder is prepared.  Hard work, yes, but well worth the effort.

Pesach is about much more than house cleaning, however. Just as I must clean the chometz out of my house, this is the time to rid one’s self of inner chometz.  As I go through the extensive preparations for Pesach, I also spend time in self-evaluation assessing the things in my life that stand between me and Hashem.  Are there unfounded jealousies that eat away at me?  Have I spoken unkind or untrue words about someone?

Haggadah: the order of the seder.

Do I run with alacrity to spend time with Hashem in prayer? ¬†Or have I become apathetic in my devotional time with G-d?¬† When giving charity, have I done so with gratitude and a desire to share Hashem‚Äôs blessings with those in need?¬† Or have I held back with a spirit of stinginess, not giving what I could? ¬†Have I extended hospitality to everyone who entered our home this year? ¬†What good is a spotless, chometz-free house if one‚Äôs life reflects unholy traits?¬† Perfection is not the goal.¬† If so, I would probably have given up long ago.¬† Rather, this is a time to recognize our shortcomings, our humanness, and to go about the business of ‚Äúcleaning out the chometz.‚Ä̬† As we do, we are not only preparing our homes for the Passover, we are preparing our very souls for Hashem. ¬†With that in mind, may we all live to celebrate a chometz-free Pesach, body and soul, next year in Jerusalem!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Silver Spring, MD–2010

A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say.  If so, you are about to view thousands upon thousands of words in their most glorious form!

This will be the last of the¬†cherry blossom tree photos I publish. . .I think! ¬†Too much of a good thing becomes too much. ¬†As you can see from my most recent blogs, I love this time of year. ¬†Cherry blossoms are the first to bloom in the spring, and spring is¬†my favorite season of the year. ¬†Once these trees have blossomed, other blossoming trees begin to strut their stuff! ūüôā After a long, cold winter, the beautiful colors of blossoming trees and blooming flowers chase away the grays and browns that have dominated our landscape long enough. ¬†Life anew. ¬†Cycle of life. ¬†While each season offers lessons and beauty, spring is the season that births hope, life, youthfulness and joy. ¬†If I haven’t said it enough, I’ll say it again: I love spring!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Light

With the Cherry Blossom Festival in full swing, it only seems appropriate that I post “Light” photos with some cherry blossoms! ¬†BTW, I shot these photos¬†during last year’s festival with a Olympus point-and-shoot camera. ¬†Enjoy!