Wednesday, December 31, 2008

moon + venus = 2009

Yes, the last day of the year gave me more moon and venus conjunction in the cold night sky. I got out the tripod this evening  but the wind was so strong it was still difficult to keep it motionless for a long exposure. However it was better than the technique I used yesterday: leaning on a street sign for support. It was fun taking the pictures with the tripod except that wind was very sharp. On my little Kodak camera yesterday I found a new feature that allows long night time exposures. 
Tonight Keith is home safe and sound, new years has been ringing in for many hours around the world. We have just finished dinner and are getting our gifts ready to exchange with our sparkling ciders and some carrot cake. 
Today, I enjoyed the Jib Jab animation of 2008 the year in review. 
Hope you are all warm and cozy in your respective homes with your dear ones safe and sound.
Happy New Year from Washington DC, Keith and me. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

end of year sky show

colorful clouds - three towers

back yard view

The past two evenings Venus has been moving closer to the new crescent Moon! About the time the sun sets on the last day of 2008 the show will culminate in a conjunction. I can't wait to see the sight with my own eyes. It is going to be cold but hopefully very clear. I went out tonight to pick up the car from garage and tucked my camera in my pocket to go watch the sun set at the intersection of North Capitol street and Michigan Avenue by the MacMillan Sand Water Filtration Ruins. There is an open view of the evening's sky and the domes of the filters silhouette with the trees as the sun slides below the horizon. The crescent moon was visible before darkness arrived but venus came out a little later. It was beautiful. It is very hard to take pictures of such small objects in the dark sky without a tripod. Hope to get our tripod out tomorrow night! Meanwhile here is a little of what I saw tonight. The few clouds that were in the sky as the sun set were great color catchers. I also took a few more in complete darkness back in the alley at home a little after sunset.


Monday, December 29, 2008

that was fun

sunset Sunday 12-28-08
This shot out my back window caught some of that sun slipping under the clouds that have been in the sky much of the past week. I love the silhouette of the trees against the vibrant sky as the sun goes down in our back yard here in DC. 

One of Keith's gifts, upon departing for his home, is to bring flowers for my Mom and this year he got some golden simbidiums that were gorgeous.

My best gift for mom was this photograph finally matted and framed. You can't see it very well because the shinny surface of the C-print and the glass make it very hard to photograph this type of photograph. It is a collection of objects that includes a lot of my father's medals, his portrait and his army hat, that I styled back in 1990 and was taken by Valerie Brown. With Valerie I had a show of about 20 photos like this at Addison Ripley Gallery in 1991 which opened the same night as the 1st Gulf War began. It was all paid for by Valerie and she gave me this print for my work with her creating the collection, I chose it especially for mom since Dad wasn't a well man, even back then.

This holiday was a little sad without Dad this year but we had a good time in spite of our losses. The gifts were plentiful and the weather mild, even nice, on Christmas day. I was in Manassas for four days and nursed my cold and enjoyed visiting with Mom. Christmas Day we took a nice stroll around the court while waiting for my brother to get out of bed and open presents. When he did get up, I got everything I wanted for Christmas and more. I now have a great over night bag to carry back and forth to visit home or other close by friends.  I am excited to try publishing the Blurb book which is a gift from my sister.  Keith has already taken a live online "web-inar" (like seminar) training him how to layout a book on Blurb's free software.  I will enjoy making photography books of my own photographs. I want to say thanks to Jenny and Frank for this cool gift. They also sent a Nike watch, which is great it lights up for old eyes in the dark! The headless gingerbread cookie cutters they sent are a curious gift. I suspect it has something to do with how I  bite off the head and feet and generally devour gingerbread men with no regard for the person in them. Some people (my sister?) are squeamish about eating things shaped like people so these will provide decapitated cookies for her right out of the oven. Mom and I tried a new recipe for Cornish Game Hens with ginger and orange that was good only the hens take a darn long time to roast for such small birds. We each had a hen with wild rice, bread stuffing, peas, spinach salad and warm rolls which made a fine Christmas day feast. Dessert: home made cookies! 
Keith will be home in Washington DC on New Year's Eve when we will  have our gift exchange with a bottle of sparkling cider, exchange gifts, and watch the ball drop on CNN with Anderson Cooper.  I can't wait to see Keith's face when he opens a few of the goodies we have for him. I feel really lucky and happy with my life right now. It seems a bit odd to be so fortunate with the financial crisis that the world is in this year. I can remember other times like this, that didn't last, so I am grateful for what I have and say thanks for it daily. Happy Holidays to you all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

it's almost here

In this picture you can see (click the title to see it larger) the frame works nicely with the window moldings on the right and then in the little antique mirror to the left, you can see that it matches the darker tones of the new frame. In the reflection of that same mirror you can see the book case & column reflected across the room which is more of the same wood tones we have in our 1937 woodwork details of our apartment. 

This is it, the last day before the eve of Christmas. I got an early gift, for my portrait by Douglas Kingsbury which is featured in almost all of my profile pictures, a frame to surround my painted face. Since we chose the pose of this portrait to reflect a Dutch Master's portrait of his artist friend from the 1600's. I wanted this portrait to have a sort of formal frame to remind me of the Dutch golden age that inspired the pose. I looked at Black with fancy cut patterns but they seem too dark and austere. Then I chose to match up some of the colors in the painting and the wood frames on other art works and objects on our walls and finally this frame needed to complement the moldings and wood trims in our apartment which are all "mahogany", if my landlord can be believed.  A couple weeks ago I took the painting over to Paula Amt 1350 Q st. NW at 14th Street who does nice work out of her "Framesmith DC" framing studio for me now and then, she works by appointment only. Paula is also the owner of Plan b Gallery where my hand made books have been selling at a brisk pace this month. Yesterday I picked up the framed painting. I am delighted with the new frame and now have it on my wall waiting a final coating of varnish to protect the surface of this painted work. 

Last time I was in Manassas shopping with Mom we went to the new Salvation Army store and found it a delightful place to shop. Everything was sorted out by colors in the housewares section and the shirts and sweaters too, making it a very appealing display for a second hand shop. We had fun looking and I fell in love with these green glass plates that are old pressed glass to look like cut glass. They may be a knock off of Depression era glassware I used to collect. Those depression era glass wares that were given away to encourage purchases when money was tight! This idea might be coming back now that money is getting tight again.The practice survived into the 1970's. Do you remember drinking glasses filled with grape jelly or strawberry preserves that had fun pictures on them and a flip top lid we used to get as kids? Or dishes in the soap and cereal boxes...I am not sure about the origins of these plates but I had to have them regardless  for lunch at our house. Four green glass gifts for being a good boy this year make every meal or snack special. What did you want for Christmas and what did you get? I can't wait to hear. Have a safe and happy holiday and cherish your time with loved ones because that can't be bought it can only earned. Now, I have some gifts to wrap, ho ho ho

Thursday, December 18, 2008

eat the view

Today I went to the website where you can join up and give your suggestions to the Obama crew about what you think his administration should do. If you are reading this on my blog site you can see I added a link to the web site with the topic. Green the White House. That will take you there so you can support the idea and add your vote to ask them to get a non toxic garden going and add veggies to the 17 acres of ceremonial lawns. A new Victory Garden like FDR had! What a treat to follow the White House's annual vegetable garden as it grows and produces food and herbs for their table and the excess could go to all the hungry homeless people and shelters in DC.
Also on this blog today I am posting two short videos with cute animations and story tellers to fill you in on the history of the lawn's gardens and the inspirations that moved me to vote for greening the white house lawn. Enjoy them they are both fun and if you feel moved to comment on I am sure it will help change the world!

The Garden of Eatin': A Short History of America's Garden from roger doiron on Vimeo.

This Lawn is Your Lawn from roger doiron on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

flowers this week

pink and red fruits

the best roses and berries 

This week our house has been filling up with flowers. These were my favorites that I wanted to share.
Hope your having a lovely week of colors getting ready for the holidays and the end of this wild year!

Friday, December 12, 2008

gingerbread men, mom & middleburg

see him there to the back of the horse butt, near the yellow curb?

Mom took, this,  her first digital photograph! Way to go Mom!

but it seems I am becoming anal about the way many things are done.... sorry Mom, Keith and others who have been confounded. I have to try to get them thin and crispy to suit my tastes. 

No pictures yet of them with icing to highlight the faces and costumes.

I spent a few days with Mom this week making preparations for the holiday which is not so far away. We got down and dirty with the rolling pin and some cookie cutters like we used to do when I was about 8 years old. I remember those times with great excitement.  I have always loved cookies and we made two kinds on this visit. The traditional Gingerbread men and some new fancy shortbread cookies with M&Ms on top. Mom says my grandfather Judge used to sing a little rhyme about the gingerbread man but neither of us can remember it. Anyone know a nursery rhyme about the guy who is made in the oven and jumps up and runs away?
 We also did some shopping for holiday gifts but I can't write about that without spoiling the surprises we plan to spring on our loved ones. It was the perfect week for cookie making, rain rain and more rain with gray skies it is fun to be busy in the kitchen making sweet things. 
I was in Middleburg last weekend for the annual hunt parade with Tom and Peter which was a lot of fun. I got some new cookie cutters there at a store the entire hunt parade dog pack visited when there was a pause in the parade. The dogs all 50 of them just followed the leader of the pack right inside this nice store... The dog master blew his little horn and the pack leader heard and came rushing out and the rest followed along. Then the parade continued. The horses are better behaved but they all have a keeper sitting on their backs so I guess they don't have as much freedom to roam during riding times. I enjoyed shopping after the dogs left. Got a great pair of copper cookie cutters, one a gingerbread man the other is a huge snowflake and they work very well. It was very cold last Saturday during the parade but the stores were plenty busy and very warm in Middleburg. I wish I could have taken Mom along to shop and see the parade and get to know some of my pals like the Rupperts who came to the party from Bethesda,  but the streets are rough and the crowds large which make getting around very challenging on that parade day. I hope we can go some other time and enjoy some of that when it isn't so cold and full of people. 

Friday, December 5, 2008

holiday surprises

In my mail box recently a package arrived from Holland. It was from St. Nicolas and his pal black Pete with a little help from my pal Cor Windhouwer, I suspect. 
St. Nicholas Day is Dec. 6th and in Holland they celebrate with the arrival of St. Nicolas and his assistants who deliver gifts and judge the kids and adults much like Santa Claus does later in Dec. Every one gets chocolate letters at their dinner place setting and the poems call them each out in ways to poke fun and have a good laugh. Most of what I know about the holiday I read on this website: 

Our poem on the orange paper with the chocolates reads:
Dear Frederick & Keith...
again a year passed by, 
very quick and full, 
with good and bad moments,
moments of joy and grief,
some we will always remember, 
things we liked to do and some we rather not,
but friendship was there and still goes on,
an so again this year's December,
of coursed a small surprised, for Dec. 5th,
a piece of Cobra art,
but do be smart,
don't hang it on the wall,
but use it with tea... or coffee..
So Art melts in your mouth 
and warms your heart...
St. Nicolas x2
This will explain that bird art picture on our chocolate art bar!
There is an exhibition of CoBrA art in a Rotterdam museum.

Thank you St. Nicolas,  this is going to taste so good!

moon + venus & jupiter


This past weekend there were clouds until Monday night when the just after sunset the moon, as a crescent, joined Venus and Jupiter over the south-western sky to form a triangle.  It is rare that we living downtown get to enjoy the night sky but these three were bright and strong and shone through the glare of the urban light pollution around us. I tried to get a photograph  but in reality just looking at it with the naked eye in the city was amazing and no picture is quite as dazzling as the real thing was. For a really impressive night sky shot over LA the same night go see this one>>>  MOON over LA
I think the stars and celestial events like this are under rated in our modern society. I love watching meteor showers and comets passing but it is usually difficult to see most of those things from the city. Maybe one day I will be up north for the northern lights and in that same dream I see the glowing blue noctilucent clouds passing eerily over my patch of town! 

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving at home

happy thanksgiving flag tradition

or Norman Rockwell's Holiday Traditions 2008
starring my favorite guy, Keith.

This year Thanksgiving in Manassas was fun and full of delicious food and small traditions we have developed over the the years. A while back Mom got in a bad way and had to be in the hospital during Thanksgiving. Dad and the rest of us needed to have a holiday meal, so Keith stepped up with an offer to cook a turkey and bring it out to Manassas for the whole family. Jenny, my sister visiting from Texas,  prepared the kitchen for cooking a big meal and watched over Dad and Dave that year while Keith collected all the feastly fixings to create Thanksgiving dinner in Mom's absence. Now the tradition continues with Keith's help this year. At some point we also began getting out the Christmas tree and putting it up with decorations and lights because this time of year is very busy for floral designers, like Keith... therefore Christmas comes a little early to Manassas.  

Keith and I got Mom's Christmas tree up quickly Wednesday evening including a string of bubbling lights that I adore. We decided to go to Target for some replacement bubbling bulbs and found they have no more bubblers this year. We settled for a string of the new LED lights in all red faceted globes they are much more energy efficient. I chose red because the red and green of the bubble light fixtures adds warmth and we needed a little more warmth on this year's tree than just the seven bubbling lights. This is our first holiday without my Dad who was the reason these meals became so important in our family even with Mom in hospital. I know he was a big part of the drive to have a family celebrations. This year the table was set with brother Dave's favorite brown patterned plates, I requested the good sterling silverware, Mom chose to match the new drapes with a cranberry red table cloth and her new matching seat covers. The sparkling apple cider was served in lead crystal wine glasses from my dearly departed friend Harry Power's estate.  They ring clear and sweet like bells when clicked together for holiday toasts. Napkins of cloth, to save trees from the paper mills, were held in ceramic turkey napkin rings that were a gift from dear Aunt Beth many years ago. At the appointed time we all bowed our heads while Mom gave a blessing and shed a tear for all the loved ones missing from our holiday table. Then we filled our selves up with all our favorite Thanksgivings day's traditional foods. Beginning with turkey meat: light and dark, fully juicy and flavored with herbs from our garden, topped off with a side of pecan bread dressing, buttery golden Yukon mashed potatoes, green bean casserole with onion rings and creamy sauce, oven baked dinner rolls buttered and two kinds of cranberry dressing one tangy and the other sweet. Home made gravy from the turkey broth with mushrooms for earthy flavoring. It was all so good. Then after the main course and a small plate of salad  we had Keith's spicy sweet pumpkin pie with whipped cream.  Earlier in the day we saw most of the New York City Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC. This year I enjoyed it more than usual for some reason, maybe the new flat screen TV showed if off better? Also we watched as the terrible terrorists in Mumbai, India continued their terrors on CNN live. This day giving thanks for our blessings was easy after seeing how uncertain security really is in this world. 
After our Thanksgiving day dinner, Dave went straight to bed, Keith and I helped Mom cleaning up then we had to pack up and come home to DC right away. Luckily traffic was light, we unloaded  left overs and clean laundry then we ate dinner again and watched a animated Pixar film The Incredibles on TV and went to bed happy and full of good food and thanks for all of our blessings.