Tuesday, December 21, 2010

400,000 Lights!!

It was a Photo Safari again, but this time it was at night and at the Washington, DC, LDS Temple. As I walked toward the Visitors' Center, I thought I wouldn't need gloves or a hat, but after about one hour my right hand and both feet were frozen! I was glad to finally go inside the Center to see the beautifully decorated trees and the Christus surrounded by all the white poinsettias. The line for the nativities was way too long!

This is such a special time of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. The Washington Temple is always a beautiful spot to see in Washington, especially when you're driving around the beltway from Georgia Avenue to Connecticut Avenue. The temple just appears out of nowhere. But ... at Christmas time, it's even more beautiful. There are 400,000 lights around the center and on the trees leading up to the temple. There's also a manger scene which used to have live participants, but not any more.

I took a lot of pictures, but it was really hard to focus at night. I had the same problem when I went on the night-time photo safari to the DC monuments. Here are a few of the scenes I saw. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I do.

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and an even happier New Year! As the French say - Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Learning to Use My Flash!!

Finally! I'm getting to add something to my blog!! Last Saturday, I went on a photo safari to the Franciscan Monastery in northeast Washington. It's a familiar place to me because I've been there many times - mostly when I was younger. My grandmother used to live near Catholic University in northwest Washington so there were times on Sundays when we would visit the monastery - even though we weren't Catholic.

It's a very interesting place. It's run, of course, by the Franciscan monks. I didn't realize, though, until I went there with my DC tour guide class, that this order is responsible for the Catholic churches in the Holy Land. The monk that was our guide had just returned from several years in Jerusalem.

Inside this monastery is a replica of the Roman catacombs and the tomb in the Church of the Holy Scepulchre (in Jerusalem) that "they" think is Christ's tomb. Having been to Jerusalem (in 1963 when I was 15!!), I prefer to think of the spot that was discovered in 1948 as Christ real tomb. If you're in Jerusalem, I assume you can still go inside that tomb and see the hill nearby - called Golgatha meaning skull - where Jesus was crucified. The rock hill actually looks like a skull. The replica is behind the curved entry in the middle of the picture on the right.

Anyway, I took this class to finally learn how to use my Nikon flash attachment. Reading the instruction manual is like reading Greek!! I think the course was successful. It was the first time I'd used my new tripod so some of the pictures weren't straight, but I experimented and could see the difference when I used the flash, the flash with the diffuser, and both ways with the flash tilted up to a 45 degress angle. The ceilings inside the church were much too high to reflect the light, so those pictures turned out rather dark. We also played with having the flash off the camera and shooting it multiple times while the camera lens was open for up to 4 seconds. You can see one without the flash and one with the light under the arch from the flash pointed and set off there.

I'd really rather take pictures outside so some of these are outdoors before the class began. There was a rose garden around the church, but most of the roses had had it! I did get a few closeups that were nice.

We also tried using a colored gel strip in front of the flash to change the color of the picture. There are some pictures here of the ceiling under the dome of the monastery - one with the flash and one with the flash plus an orange gel strip.

Here are some more inside pictures - one of the altar in one of the chapels and the other is the underneath of the cover over the main altar.

I had fun, the teacher was great and funny - hope you enjoy the pictures!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Vacation - Finally!!

Aimee and I finally got a chance to take a vacation together this summer. It's my first since I retired in 2007 so I was really excited to get out of the Washington, DC, area and take some pictures somewhere else.

My cousin Wayne Lidman, Sandra Cox, and Billie McBride (friends of Mary Ruth) gave a surprise 70th birthday party for my cousin Mary Ruth who lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She was so surprised, and it was lots of fun to see everyone in SC again. I realized that I hadn't been there for about 12 years. It was the first time that Judy (my sister) and I could go to something out of town at the same time. It was the first time in forever that all the cousins were together so we made sure we took pictures to prove it!! Below is a picture of the cousins - me, Wayne Lidman, Jack Dunker, Mary Ruth Dunker, Judy Henderson, and Aimee Calissie.

After spending a couple days in Spartanburg, Aimee and I headed for Myrtle Beach, SC. It's our favorite beach and we stayed in our regular place - Blue Water Resort. We got there on Monday and finally got into the room about 2:30 pm. Right after we brought everything in the sky opened up and there was a terrible thunder and lightning storm. We hoped that this wouldn't happen for the two other days we were going to be there. We wanted to improve our tan!! Below is a picture of the beach with the rows of umbrellas at about 10 am in the morning.

Fortunately, Tuesday was mixed with sun and clouds. One thing that was interesting was that all the lifeguards were foreign instead of American college hunks as it was when I was younger. Our lifeguard was Max from Kiev, Ukraine. We had some good conversations about language, living in the US, etc. Aimee and I enjoyed laying on the beach, reading books, and getting HOT because it was so hot and humid. I had to get into the ocean, but Aimee didn't want to get stung by sea nettles. We also went to Broadway on the Beach and Barefoot Landing. We wish we could have stayed longer, but ... Below is a picture of our lifeguard Max!

Below is a picture of the statue in front of the SC State House - check the Confederate flag!!

On Thursday, we traveled west again and went to Columbia, SC. I had traveled through the city before but had never stayed there or done any sightseeing. Aimee's former bosses from Golds Gym in Utah - Ron and Mary Littlebrandt - now live in Columbia and run five Golds Gyms there. We stayed in their beautiful house and had so much fun just talking about old times. On the way to finding the cemetery in which my maternal grandfather was buried, we stopped and took pictures of the State House. Check out the Confederate flag in front!! After that, Aimee and I went to the cemetery also and put flowers on his grave. That evening I finally found the Columbia LDS Temple and went to a session there. We here in DC are so spoiled by our beautiful, large temple. I almost missed the temple because it was among houses on a road - so small! But ... as one of the sister said - the Spirit is still there and the same as in any other temple.
Above is a picture of Mary and Ron Littlebrandt with Aimee in their beautiful living room! Below is a picture of the Columbia, SC, LDS Temple.

Saturday, we headed back to Spartanburg to see Mary Ruth again. She has the cutest dog - Bentley - and we had so much fun with him. We had a great southern dinner with fresh tomatoes and fried okra! Unfortunately, since I had my operation, I can't eat all the "good stuff," but Aimee did which was great! We also put flowers on my mom's mother's, aunt's, and grandparents graves in the Oakwood Cemetery there in Spartanburg. Mary Ruth is a Twilight buff as Aimee and I are so we went to see "Eclipse" together. Aimee is "Team Jacob," but Mary Ruth and I are "Team Edward!" Below is a picture of Mary Ruth with Bentley, her precious Bichon frise!

Unfortunately, the next Monday we had to come home. It was a world wind trip of SC, but we had a great time. Thanks to all our hosts!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

La Neige, La Neve, THE SNOW!!

It seems to really snow, snow, snow every four or five years in the Washington, DC, area. AND ... this is the year!! I thought the snow on December 19, 2009, was bad; but this is ridiculous. While some of my friends are blogging that they are going to the beach in Thailand or having beautiful, summer-type days in Ethiopia, we're covered, and I mean covered, with lots and lots of snow!!! I think we've probably had at least two feet or more.

It finally stopped snowing yesterday afternoon. Thank goodness Aimee is here!! I think she's been kinda bored so she headed out during the day yesterday, while it was still snowing, to dig a tunnel to the car.

Of course, when the plows come through, what do they do? Do they move the snow to the side of the road where there are no cars? No, they put the huge mound of snow right behind all the cars. Later in the evening, she journeyed out again to try to move the mound. Here's Aimee doing more today!! NOT a happy camper!

At least it's sunny today, but nothing is melting!! Before Aimee tried her luck again, I took some more pictures from the house. The second one is through the sliding glass door looking out the back of the house.

After a while, others decided to venture out in an attempt to find their cars. Everyone has been raising their windshield wipers to avoid them freezing to the glass. You'll notice that the snow almost hid my wipers!
And, my neighbor's car made a face again!!

I finally decided I should do my part so I went into the backyard. You can see how high the snow was. I knew I needed to move the snow from around the heat pump and the window well. I'm now terribly exhausted. I'm just going to take two vicodan for my knees and lay on the couch!! It better not snow again on Tuesday!!!!!!!!!