Harper’s Ferry

Whenever my parents come to visit, I’ll admit that I struggle to find things to do with them. I know, it’s pathetic. We live only like 15 minutes from DC – the land of free museums. But they’re not really museum people and I’m in the city more than enough that it’s not particularly special. This time, though, we drove over to Harper’s Ferry, to the main part of the park which I think is technically in West Viriginia. It was really gorgeous that day, mid-60s with just-changing leaves. We even found a great place to get lunch (thanks to TripAdvisor). Really highly recommend my local DCers visit.


A (Blurry) Photographic Tour of DC

When my parents come to visit us for a weekend, we always struggle with finding something to do. I know, we live 15 minutes from DC – where millions of tourists come and spend a week – and we have issues staying busy. See, that’s the thing, my parents come a few weekends every year. They’ve seen so much of it already.

One of the things we’ve always talked about doing but never did before was a hop-on/hop-off tour. I know, super corny, but it’s not away I’ve ever seen the city and, hey, I get to be lazy and ride rather than walk.

This last visit, my dad was looking at Groupon deals in the area and came across one for one of the big tour companies. Something crazy like $15 a person and, hey, it was a lovely day, why not?

The tour started in L’Enfant Plaza, which I’ll admit to never having actually seen before. We transfer lines there quite often, but never wind up outdoors. It’s rather, well, ugly. But I digress. This particular tour company takes you to 20 or so stops all around the city, all the while narrating what you’re seeing and a bit of history, as well.

I had the best plans. I had my camera, had my kit lens on it, Lizzie was being occupied by my parents…too bad I forgot my kit lens is rather slow and, you know, we were on a moving bus. I did nothing whatsoever to account for this. (Plus, as I realize now, taking a real good look at these, my lens and/or sensor is covered in dust.)

Which brings me to my photos. I present to you, without further comment, a blurry tour of Washington DC.

Establishing Shot

Going back to Photography 101, day 2 wanted us to venture beyond our own homes:

Today, capture an establishing shot of a street scene in your neighborhood — or someplace new.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

My street is a very quiet one. The neighborhood itself is nestled between two major streets, but we’re lucky – we live right in the middle. The school Squirms will go to is literally at the edge of our across-the-street neighbor’s backyard. There’s a park with playground equipment and basketball courts just down the street – though we’ve only been there once, back when I was trying to learn how to ride a bike (another story for another day). But, it is there, and I’m sure we’ll visit often once Squirms can appreciate the playground.

But, it’s also your standard suburban neighborhood: It’s a pain if you need to walk anywhere, a good half mile to either or those two major streets, about a mile to any sort of a store – but it’s very, very quiet. At night, you can just about hear every word people say outdoors at our neighbor’s houses. Throwing our your recyclables after dark makes you worry you’re going to wake someone up (probably just me).

It’s also a neighborhood that’s been there for awhile. Lots are small but you can’t reach out and touch your neighbors. Our house can only fit one car in the driveway, because families only had one car back then. Some folks have screen porches on the side. Some turned them into extra rooms. One crazy person added an entire additoinal story and put a giant fountain out front. There’s also lots of mature hardwood trees to keep things pretty shady, a blessing in the summer, a curse when it’s snowed or icy.  We don’t have a formal community board so no crazy rules like no parking your pickup truck in the front lawn or having to have identical mailboxes. (One house has a front yard full over overgrown bushes and trees, with two giant statues in the backyard. Almost-taller-than-the-house giant. The poor neighbors.) There’s four major entrances to it and there’s no gate, so you don’t have to wait in line behind everyone else trying to get in (and, really, those gates for non-exlusive develpoments like ours are a complete waste).

Back when we were looking for a house, we made sure to walk the neighborhood of anywhere we seroiusly considered buying in. This neighborhood met all of our expectations.

And, now that we’ve been here awhile, we see things we didn’t think to look for then – the people who live here. Our one neighbor, out in the pouring rain, helped Matt to use his ladder to clean out our gutters a few days after we moved in. The one across the street, he questioned the painters he saw going into our house while he knew we were out of the country (they’re family friends, so we had given them a key). Another told us that someone down the block does cat sitting on the side as soon as we mentioned we own cats. We’ve had many driveway conversations with multiple folks on our block.

I love our neighborhood. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Okay, maybe a summer in Southwestern France, but I’d still come back home to here.

What Home Looks Like

Because I am crazy, I signed up for Photography 101, another of the courses from WordPress. I can say I’ll do all the assignments, but I think it’s going to be a great way to find things to take photos of. And, you know, post about here. I’m a bit behind, having drafted some posts in advance for NaBloPoMo, but I can catch up. Or have longer to work on falling behind.

What does home look like to you? Share this image in a new post.


Home is where there is a comfortable couch with a cat on one end, toys all over the floor, my knitting project in progress (when Squirms is asleep), and lots of books. It’s always a little bit messy but never stark. There’s usually good food being cooked or recently consumed. You’ll find fancy toilet paper in our bathrooms that are either complete with bath toys or too many bottles of shampoo and body wash. Just watch out for the cracker crumbs.

I Took a Walk

…around the neighborhood yesterday evening, while Squirms was still in a decent mood, not having decided it was now her dinnertime and Matt was just hanging out, waiting for our dinner of braised beef to be done. I just did a quick loop walk, about a mile and  a half long though it took me about 40 minutes between the chilly temperatures and lack of need to get back quickly. I put on a knitting podcast I hadn’t listened to in a good four years (Stash and Burn) and went on my way. I started taking photos of cool trees so my casual walk quickly turned into a photo walk.

It was great to get some me time where I was also out and enjoying the outdoors. And I never got more than a 1/2 mile or so from our house – one of the benefits of living in such a large sub-division.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


An evergreen bush, with something bright red and glowing inside, though I didn’t actually notice until I reviewed my photos, so I have no idea what it was.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


Someone else did their lawn, leaves-wise this weekend, though there was already a new covering of leaves.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


One of the many hardwood trees. Our neighborhood actually gave each (original) homeowner three hardwood tree saplings along with their house. The original owner of our house must have taken some from others, as we have a good half-dozen trees in our backyard.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


This poor bush was either succumbing to the coming cold or some sort of blight.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


This looked sort of like a hibiscus but had much more delicate flowers. Wish I’d taken a better photo.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


A great big, yellow-leafed tree.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


Our neighbor’s giant, purple-flowered tree. This basically coats their law when it dies as winter starts.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


Yellow flowers, holding their own as fall roars in.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

And, because I’m five, my favorite sign in our neighborhood.


Fifteen Days

I’ve basically been radio silent for the last 15 days. I didn’t start out the month thinking I wouldn’t keep up the blogging habit – hey, I even made blogging a few times a week one of my goals! But, as usual, life got busy and stressful and I simple had no time, no energy, no desire to write. I did manage to squeak out a book review post becuase, you know, that’s easy. And I wrote a long post for friends and family about something that happened to me (more about that, later). But, yeah, I’ve been away. And now I’m back.

You probably want to know what I’ve been up to besides the usual stuff in my life like work and cleaning and attempting to remember to wear moisterizer. From the top of my head, here’s what’s happened since I last really, truly blogged:

  • We got a second opinion about Squirm’s strabismus that confirmed the original diagnosis so she’ll have surgery in a few weeks. (Right – must write an intro post to all of that. Another time, perhaps.)
  • Matt and I went on a weekend trip to Charlottsville without Squirms. We ate at some great restaurants, had some amazing wine and enjoyed it just being the two of us on a vacation. (This was also, I guess, our official 8th anniversary celebration.)
  • I finished knitting the February sweater (but still haven’t seemed it).
  • I made part of Squirms’ Halloween costume and started on the second part of it.
  • It got cold in DC. Then got warm again. Now, it’s in the 60s. I’m still waiting for Magic Day – you know, when, like magic, it’s cold and stays cold.
  • I spent the night in the hospital, getting lots of tests that showed nothing abnormal following a day of dizziness and a painful headache. (Turns out it was just a weird sort of migraine. Neurologist visit is in my near future).
  • Squirms wore shoes for the first time. Weird milestone, but she usually just wears socks or nothing on her feet. But it’s going to be getting cold – like, actually cold – soon and I wanted to get her used to the idea.
  • I kept really good notes in a notebook about what happened each day inspired by, of all things, the description in the second Outlander book of a small-village cleric who did the same thing. (Though mine is just bulleted notes vice real journaling like he did. Though I do plan to use December as my big journaling on paper month.)
  • My group at work has moved past the Forming and Storming phases and is creeping into Norming. (It’s a group forming model – Wiki page is here.) Two new members will be added in the next few months so the whole thing is likely to restart then.
  • Squirms has learned to pull herself up to a standing position using us and some furniture as a base. She also once made it onto the landing of the stairs (up one single stair).
  • Matt revitalized his sourdough starter and made an amazing partial whole wheat sourdough French-style bread.
  • We found out two sets of friends are expecting.
  • I lost 6 pounds, though much of that probably came from not eating much of anything that day I was getting the tests in the hospital. (Matt made me take this week off completely this week because “You were in the hospital. You probably shouldn’t go right back into a diet after being in the hospital.)
  • We made two different kinds of sausage for a party we’re having on Saturday. Another kind is going to be made tonight.
  • I cooked dinner twice. One meal was excellent – a frittata with lots of cheese and cauliflower. The other was only ok – a butternut squash pasta.
  • I went through the camera photos from September but haven’t done anything more to make her September scrapbook pages. Really hope my notes are enough for the journaling cards, whenever I finally get around to it.

So – what have you all been up to the last 15 days?