Category Archives: Photos

Day at the Zoo

Standard

IMG_5225The kids had a day off school on Friday and I took a day off work so we could loaf with the animals at the Metro Richmond Zoo in Chesterfield, Virginia…

We could hardly tear ourselves away from the baby monkeys in the animal nursery.

IMG_5210

IMG_5211IMG_5222IMG_5227IMG_5232

IMG_5237

Just hangin’ out…

IMG_5247IMG_5255IMG_5352IMG_5357

IMG_5354

Fox on a Box

IMG_5295

Maybe she’s born with it…Maybe it’s Maybelline.

IMG_5297

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful!

The giraffes are the main attraction…IMG_5272

IMG_5280They eat right out of your  hand…IMG_5285…with their enormous blue tongues.

Speaking of blue…

IMG_5348

It’s not every girl who can coordinate her sneakers, shorts, brand new braces, and…

IMG_5342…bird accessory!IMG_5338

 

The Dell

Standard

IMG_1344Lately, I’ve been spending my lunch hour at the Dell, which is a short stroll from my office.

It’s a poem fashioned out of water, flora, fauna…and ruins.

IMG_5154IMG_5177An old archway is all that’s left of what were once Italianate gardens…

IMG_1325IMG_1329Orderly geometry has given way to an overgrown, naturalistic landscape. The Dell has been transformed into a pond that is used for stormwater management. Its wild beauty makes it easy to forget its utilitarian purpose.

A meandering trail wraps around the pond and is strategically dotted with benches. I never like to sit though, because around every corner there’s always something new to see.

Sometimes a community of turtles sun themselves by the lily pads…IMG_1309

IMG_5181IMG_5184

Native plants are planted around the perimeter of the pond…

IMG_1297IMG_1304IMG_1305IMG_1321 From time to time I have to push aside long grasses that have fallen into the path. I feel them tickle my legs and hope I’m not brushing up against poison ivy. In this landscape, unexpected things sprout up by themselves…IMG_1334

But there are some reassuring constants. At one end of the pond, I look out for my friend, the king of the pond. I always find the giant koi lazily patrolling his favorite corner of his watery realm…

IMG_5149Dragonflies chase each other all over the pond. Every now and then they take a break…

IMG_1292IMG_5189IMG_1290IMG_5180FullSizeRender 49As for the industrious bees, they never have time to play.IMG_1289IMG_5165At least they are appreciating the flowers as they toil away…IMG_5155

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-bound stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

From Wendell Berry’s The Peace of Wild Things

College Bound

Standard

I’m not quite sure how this happened. One minute my friends and I were pushing our babies in strollers, the next minute we’re taking those babies on college tours. Earlier this week I took some family photos for friends who are actually dropping their daughter off at college this weekend…

Family photo 2017 closeup 2Jeff and Kat 2017Dad and Claire 2017 full lengthClaire and Mom 2017 closeupAndrew and Mom 2017 1Claire and Andrew 3Dad and Kids 2017IMG_5000Dad Claire Mom 2017 2

Good luck & Godspeed

A Day by Emily Dickinson

I’ll tell you how the sun rose, –
A ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.

The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
“That must have been the sun!”

But how he set, I know not.
There seemed a purple stile
Which little yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while

Till when they reached the other side,
A dominie in gray
Put gently up the evening bars,
And led the flock away.

Black Rock Sands & the Festiniog Railway

Standard

I’m sure the first thing that pops into anyone’s mind when they think of the U.K. is the beach…what with the endless sunny days and the balmy, tropical climate.

On a morning that was forecasted to be sunny and mild, we packed a picnic lunch and headed to Black Rock Sands to lounge about, soaking up the warmth of the sun:

IMG_4558.jpg

IMG_4561

It’s a wind baby!

IMG_4562

As we walked along the beach looking for a place to have our picnic, I was literally shaking violently from the cold. Not being a very stiff-upper-lip kind of person, I decided I would forgo the picnic and hang out in the car until the rest of my crazy family was ready to leave. I watched them trudge off into the dunes, their bodies bent over at right angles as they battled the winds. I felt ever-so-slightly guilty, but mostly gleeful as I settled down for a nap in the car, which we had parked right on the beach. After just a few minutes, my husband came back to drag me into the sand dunes, insisting that it was  “almost warm” in the shelter of the dunes…IMG_4572

Almost warm? Possibly to an Eskimo! Nevertheless, clad in our finest beach attire, we kept calm and carried on with a picnic on the beach. IMG_4580IMG_4581

Our picnic was a little rushed, because the tide was coming in and we were afraid our car was going to be swept out to sea. Oh, and also because it was freezing cold and had begun to rain.

We drove on to our next destination…a train ride on the Festiniog Railway.

IMG_4599Unfortunately, the driving rain prevented us from seeing anything but the odd cow from our windows. On the bright side, the company was pleasant and we were out of the rain!

IMG_4617

IMG_4602IMG_4606IMG_4607

The Festiniog Railway holds a special place in my husband’s heart. During his gap year before starting college, he spent some time working in their archives. They gave him this World War I document as a parting gift:

IMG_1013

Perhaps they gave it to the promising young historian about to embark upon his studies at Cambridge as a reward for his exceptional work in the archives. Or perhaps they gave it to him for pitching in to help with the buffet cart whenever they were short-staffed. My very tall husband makes me laugh every time he reenacts how he would carry trays of scalding hot tea through the aisles of a swaying train, his head bowed to avoid hitting it on the top of the train carriage.

He and his brother were waiting to pick us up at the station at the other end. The first order of business was to find a cup of tea – the sine qua non for life in the U.K.!

As we drove through Canaerfon and past Canaerfon Castle, my father-in-law pointed it out as the place of Prince Charles’ investiture… i.e. where he became the Prince of Wales. That’s when my mother-in-law broke out a story about her own personal encounter with Prince Charles…

My in-laws were living in St. Andrews, close to Gordonstoun, the boarding school in Scotland where the young prince was studying. My mother-in-law was asked to be his external examiner in French and German.

I didn’t know how I should address him…Prince? Your Royal Highness?

Wait a minute…First of all, I can’t believe you never told me this story before! Second: so, what did you call him?

Well, I don’t think I called him anything at all. I just got on with the examination.

And how did he do?!

He was very nervous! His French was not bad, but his German was hopeless! For some reason he got onto the topic of wine-making, but he couldn’t remember the word for grapes in German so he kept referring to them as “little black balls”!

We stopped in a newly-opened café in Porthmadog.

IMG_0919

IMG_0920

Hot cocoa for a change of pace!

The proprietor came over to ask us a favor…”I can tell you’re not from around here, and as we just opened today, I was wondering if you could put a pin on our map to show where you’re from.”

So there you go…a little piece of Charlottesville in Porthmadog, Wales. IMG_0921

We’ve been back home in Charlottesville for a couple weeks now. Yesterday our one missing suitcase was finally delivered to our doorstep!

IMG_1014

With the last bit of our belongings safely back in Charlottesville, and my last U.K. story posted, that lovely interlude has now really ended. I will remember the glorious walks, the beautiful scenery, and the ghastly weather. Most of all, I’ll remember the precious time spent with family, who – while far away – are ever close to our hearts.

Cwm Idwal in the Ogwen Valley

Standard

From the cultivated beauty of Bodnant Garden, we drove on to the wild beauty of Cwm Idwal…IMG_4450IMG_4452IMG_4458A stone path guided our steps…IMG_4466IMG_4465IMG_4488IMG_4494

…to a lake:

IMG_4500 2IMG_4501IMG_4504

It was a bit windy…

IMG_4539

Actually, it was CRAZY windy!
IMG_4518

IMG_4520 2

Brooding Heathcliff moment.

IMG_4542

No brooding here. This is the face of a man in his element.

 

Blitz Family Reunion

Standard

My family headed to Arlington this weekend for a gathering of the clans…

IMG_0528 2

The boys were exhausted after their last day of summer PE

Saturday

Patches” proudly shows off the latest alterations to her ancient vest…

The cousins bonded over Minecraft…IMG_3837

IMG_3841

The oldest cousins reconnect…

Jbaby (1)

It feels like this photo was taken about two minutes before that last photo was taken…

IMG_3847IMG_3852

We had dinner at Peking Gourmet, a sentimental favorite…

IMG_3867IMG_3868

After dinner we headed to Old Town, Alexandria, where my friend Victoria gave us a ghost tour. (More photos in my next post).IMG_3919IMG_3925

IMG_3984IMG_0537IMG_0540

IMG_0555

Completely wrapped around her little finger…

IMG_3990IMG_4005

Goodbyes…IMG_4012IMG_4014IMG_4042IMG_4054

Weekend Snapshots 49

Standard

Friday

We joined C’ville’s brand spanking new Y.

FullSizeRender 20

It’s fun to be at the Y.M.C.A.!

Saturday

Fireworks in Crozet…

IMG_3729IMG_3735IMG_3750IMG_3751

Sunday

My 17 year old was going to cut quite the figure tooling around town in my rusty, dented minivan with a dying transmission and 268,000+ miles on it. Fortunately for him, my cousin came to the rescue and passed on his muuuuuuuuuuuch cooler car to the kid.

IMG_3764

First car…IMG_3767

First time driving the whole family…IMG_0428

First time being the sound engineer at church…(with his trusty sidekick).IMG_0433