Friday, September 30, 2011

The White House Tour

First of all thank you for all the great comments you have been making. I have loved reading them but as my time is limited right now it will be another week before I can pop on over. We are having a great time showing Rose the sights around our area.

It is still a bit hard to believe that the three of us walked out of the front door of The White House, along with many other people who were lucky enough to go on the same tour. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos inside but it is all indelibly printed in the photographic part of our memory. The following shows President Rose with Vice-President Gregg and Mrs. Vice-President Denise. No, this wasn't in the real White House obviously but on the way back to the car we found a gift shop with a mock-up of the Oval Office.

President Rose gives a speech to the world.

This photo was taken before we went in.
Lots of brollies out but it really wasn't raining too badly. We lucked out with the weather as there have been some torrential downpours lately.

After a wonderful tour we were all outside and everyone was snapping pictures.

Below is one of Rose with a very nice gate guard. Rose has not too long ago had surgery on both knees so whenever we know there is a lot of walking to be done, we make use of the wheel chairs provided. Actually we didn't realize that we could get one at first, but when one of the guards saw Rose using her stick at the beginning of our tour, he showed us where we could ask for one. Everyone we met on that tour was absolutely brilliant.

We had to go through the security gates before we went inside and as Rose has titanium pins in both knees the alarms went off. She was asked to step to the side and 'wanded' but it was all done in a very sensitive manner, and when Rose noticed that one of the personnel had the same last name and said that's my name too, he gave her a big hug and said, "Well hi there cousin!" They spent a few minutes chatting away and we eventually continued our tour.

At one point we separated because there was a big flight of stairs, and she and Gregg were taken in a different direction to use an elevator. Do you know they got to see the kitchens? The elevator was too small and only big enough for three people, the two of them and the guard who escorted them. They also got to see where the President's elevator was and that was a small one too.

Outside the gate.

There you go, I hope you've enjoyed these. I'll be posting more photos of our time with Rose when I get some more computer time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rose and Denise go to the White House

This is me with our dear friend Rose. Thanks to Gregg's cousin Fayette - thanks Fayette - who diligently worked with her North Dakota Senator's office to get us tickets on one of the White House tours today, Rose, Gregg and I were standing in line at the gate at 9.15 a.m. It was a bit rainy but we weren't outside for long and it was a great tour. Later when things are a little quieter I will share more photos as well as a few of the fun highlights, especially of Rose hugging some of the Secret Service guys and with them very genuinely and only too happy to hug her back. There was much laughter between them and I was so impressed with their friendliness. They were great, great guys and at the same time were clearly doing their job with skill and expertise. What a hoot to see Rose having so much fun. She will be going home and telling her family and friends how wonderful everyone was at The White House. They certainly did us proud.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Rambles

My new print of Hallsands, South Devon, England. Can't wait to get it framed and hanging on our wall.
First of all, Lisa and Brad came over for a couple of hours on Friday and I was trying to stay at the other side of the room as I certainly didn't want them to catch my cold. That night they were attending a talk given by author Stephen King at George Mason University, and Lisa had won a raffle for a book-signing. Brad had some books he was going to take along, in the hopes that Mr. King would be able to sign them all. He did, what a nice man.

I badly needed a new raincoat and bought one online. The postman dropped it on the doorstep around noon shortly before they arrived. We went out later and it was raining pretty hard. Gregg, who had arrived home early, said, "You can wear your new raincoat." as I had already paraded around in it earlier to see what he thought of it. "Heck no" said I - with emphasis - "I am not ready to get it wet yet!" I didn't blame him for having a chuckle as yes how silly is that and what are raincoats for? But I'm saving it for when we go down to Virginia Beach for the shipmates reunion and want it looking pristine. Just like the old days when I used to go away on holiday and bought a set of new clothes, no way was I going to wear them before the holiday. Anywhere from six months to a year before traveling, I would buy something new and pack it away like it was precious cargo, until it was time to take it out of the suitcase to hang it up in the hotel room closet, a pattern I have continued to some degree over the years.

Saturday we did our usual errand runs, first stopping off at the post office to pick up a parcel from England. I bought another print off the same lady that I mentioned in this post right here. My purchase this time - at the top of this post - shows one of the lost villages of South Devon, Hallsands.

It is another nostalgia purchase as I remember Hallsands very well and used to go there with my parents, along with our golden labrador Jason. We would be on one of our rides out into the country, or as in this case to the ocean. Back then we lived only a couple of miles from the sea and would often drive to the shore or go down the coast for 20 miles, sometimes even longer carrying on into Cornwall. On one such trip I remember looking over the cliff top and seeing the ruins of a small village. Dad told me it had been destroyed by a very bad storm in 1917. This was Hallsands and below you can see the ruins of the cottages as it looks now. I found this photo online.
For 120 years this tiny village at the base of the cliffs on the south coast of Devon, was protected from the seas by its deep shingle beach. However, in 1897 Sir John Jackson obtained a license to dredge for shingle to use in the construction of Devonport Dock Yard. It was assumed that any shingle removed would be replaced naturally by more material out in the channel. It has since been learned that today the shingle that now protects the nearby villages of Beesands and Torcross was deposited thousands of years ago during the Ice Age and is not being replaced. So, within 20 years of that fateful dredging, the village of Hallsands was completely destroyed thanks to coastal erosion caused by Jackson's dredging. The following two photos were found online also, both showing the village as it was before the storm destroyed it in 1917.

Debbie, the lady I bought the picture from, paints historical paintings of the part of Devon I lived in from 1965 to 1975. We also had family holidays every year, twice a year for eight years before we actually moved to Devon, so Devon was very much in our blood long before we actually moved there. Debbie portrays the way places looked back in the 1800's-early 1900's. Her website is here, the history of Hallsands can be found here and there are more wonderful old photographs here. Scroll down to the thumbnails below the main photo and click on each to view.

I might be a bit scarce over the next week or so, as this evening we are going to pick up our English friend Rose. She will be staying with us for a couple of weeks and we are going to be super busy getting out and about and having fun, so please forgive me for not getting around to your blogs for a while. The good news is that I am feeling much better and am thankful that I no longer feel contagious. I would not have wanted to be the cause for Rose to get a horrible cold on her holiday, especially as she is flying on to Australia to visit with more friends when she leaves us.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) symbolizes purity, beauty, majesty, grace, fertility, wealth, richness, knowledge and serenity and in Buddhism is considered to be sacred. The Pink Lotus is the National Flower of India.

According to Egyptian mythology, the Lotus is related to the sun, as it flowers at the day hours and closes by night. It is credited that the flower has given birth to the sun.

In China, even before Buddhism arrived bringing its special devotion to the lotus, the lotus was honored as the plant of summer. One of the eight immortals holds a lotus, the "flower of open-heartedness" or a lotus-pod wand. It was an emblem of purity, fruitfulness (because of its many seeds) and creative power.

Every part of the lotus found in India (nelumbo nucifera) is edible. Seeds are roasted to make puffs called mahkanas. The plant's roots are ground up to make lotus meal.

To find out more about the lotus you can click here.

TODAY’S FLOWER’S was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli Jr.

Friday, September 23, 2011


"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."
~Crowfoot saying~

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sharing a new site.

Recently, thanks to Gregg who found it on Twitter, I was introduced to a great site called 'Brain Pickings." It is a wealth of information and covers a vast array of topics. I found it immensely enjoyable and you can take a look if you click here.

While browsing through some of its pages, I came across this great little video that has been made by the World Wildlife Fund. It shows a short movie celebrating their 50th Anniversary. As Brain Pickings so eloquently puts it, "It's about Harry Potter meets The Census for Marine Life meets Nabakov's Butterflies." Click on their names to find very interesting articles.

Please click on the video to enlarge it to your computer screen.

Here can also see a short movie on Vimeo about the making of this movie.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chipmunk On Deck

These photos are slightly out of focus but it's been a while since I saw a chipmunk on the deck and I tried my best to get a set of decent photos. It is always very difficult as they don't stay in one place for very long. The light was fading and the sun was going down, on top of that I was shooting through glass. Even his overly stuffed little cheeks were a blur most of the time but I guess these were okay.

It has rained all day and rather than go out in the rain and fill the feeders, I took the easy way out and tossed seed out by the handful. I didn't think they would mind just this once. This little chap was running around like I do sometimes when I drink too much coffee. No I didn't get my sharp clear photos, but I did get probably the last ones before he disappears for the winter. It's still early days but I never know when he is going to turn up.

My ever faithful dove who wisely refuses to drink anything with caffeine, calmly flew in and allowed me to take his photo. Sweet little thing!

I have been sneezing for the last three days and I have finally come to the conclusion that I am starting to come down with a cold, I have been trying to ignore the fact that I have a scratchy throat but I'm beginning to feel like I need an early night. I wouldn't mind but whenever I have gone out I have been diligently using a small bottle of hand-sanitizer that I keep in the car. I do this on a regular basis but become even more compulsive-obsessive - like Lady MacBeth - when I am anxious not to catch anything with the busy time we have coming up, and especially because our friend from England arrives next week. Well, at least I caught my cold now instead of then and hopefully it will be gone by then.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A mini ramble....

Gregg had to do quite a bit of work this weekend, so we didn't go too far. The nice thing about his job is that he can stay at home, unless he has to see clients. Last week he had to go into Washington DC for most of the week, but because this was the weekend he sat in front of his computer and I kept myself well occupied with other things. I am trying to clear out my old craft room because we will soon be having house guests and I need to make one more room ready so that they won't be walking over a big pile of boxes. We've used it for a storage room for more years than I would like to admit, and it's time to bring it back to its former glory. Twenty years of living in this house it is amazing how much space you start running out of, and we are at the point now where we need to start turfing things out.

While taking a break we went to lunch at Macaroni Grill. It's been a while since we were there last and we had a real nice time, a nice friendly waiter who gave us great service, and good food. Outside we noticed that they had planted a couple of dozen sunflowers. They were a little past their prime but were still beautiful. I wish there was a nice bright blue sky behind them for you but the sky was a dull grey all weekend. The weather has gotten considerably cooler too. Personally I am loving it.

A few facts about Sunflowers.

Did you ever wonder how sunflowers got their scientific name Helianthus? It comes from two words, Helios, meaning sun and Anthos, meaning flower. The sunflower often follows the sun, and this characteristic is how it got its name.

The sunflower is a good bee plant, sometimes it's hard to get a picture without a bee on them, but that's okay because I love the little guys. They are welcome in my photos any time.

In many parts of Europe sunflowers have provided - and still provide - leaves for smoking, flower buds for salads, flowers for dyes and oil for cooking. Let's not forget those seeds which are delicious for munching on.

The sunflower is a native to Central America. It is said that it was first domesticated in Mesoamerica, present day Mexico, by at least 2600 BC.

Many indigenous American peoples used the sunflower as the symbol of their solar deity, including the Aztecs and the Otomi of Mexico, and the Incas in South America.

The sunflower is not one flower but a cluster of more than 2,000 tiny flowers growing together. Go take a closer look next time you come face to face with one.

A sunflower's head can grow to be as big as 2 feet across and the plant itself can be as tall as 18 feet. There was one that grew in the Netherlands that was measured at 25 feet tall.

The sunflower is the state flower of Kansas.

The sunflower is the national flower of Russia.

The French word for sunflowers is 'tournesol', translation 'turn with the sun'. In Spain and Italy it is called 'Girasol', and in Germany, 'Sonnenblume'.

The meaning for a dwarf sunflower is 'adoration'. A tall sunflower means 'false riches'.

You can get lots more information about them here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


This is Sweet Autumn Clematis, as identified by Patrick at Patrick's Gardens, and Wind Dance at Appalachian Heartbeat from a previous post. My thanks to both of you. They each have wonderful blogs and I have provided a link which you can get to if you click on their names.

Swamp Rose Mallow

I keep wanting to say that this is a Tall Coreopsis but am not absolutely sure, so if any of you can verify that or give me the correct name I am always grateful for the help.


The Cardinal Flower

TODAY’S FLOWER’S was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli Jr.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Buckeye Butterfly

Revisiting the Buckeye Butterfly that I found on our walk at Mason Neck. I didn't realize until I had gotten home and looked at the photos on the computer screen, that I had also caught the small wasp-like critter in the same frame.
"Happily we bask in this warm September sun,
Which illuminates all creatures..."
~Henry David Thoreau~

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mason Neck State Park - Part 4 - September

The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
It's hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook.

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.

'Tis a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget.

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)