Archive for May, 2009

National Zoo


We’ve lived in Richmond for 13 years now and had never been to the National Zoo in the beautiful Woodley Park neighborhood in Washington DC. I wanted to go there to get some photography practice, so we went up on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. The weather was perfect and while the park was crowded, I didn’t feel that it was TOO crowded. It was a very nice day.

John and I like to park at the Franconia-Springfield Metro station and take the train into the city. It’s a great station for ease of parking on weekends, but the downside is that because it’s the south end of the blue line, it takes forever to get where you’re going. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten to our destination in less than a 1/2 hour. It took us an hour to get to the zoo. We had to change from the blue line to the red at Metro Center. There are only a few short blocks to walk from the Woodley Park station to the zoo. The admission is free but if you drive, you have to pay to park. The maximum fee is $20, which in relation to the admission is not a bad deal, but we like taking the train.

This zoo doesn’t compare to the San Diego Zoo (but according to friend and co-worker Megan who was just there, the SD Zoo looks rundown and every bit its age) and I’m trying to remember what the Los Angeles Zoo was like the last time I was there, which has to be at least 25 years ago. I wanted to get there early enough so that the animals wouldn’t be sleeping off the heat of the afternoon. So it was about 11am and except for the armadillo, all the animals were still pretty lethargic, nevertheless.

I brought all my camera gear and used 3 of my 4 lenses. I handed my G10 to John and he snapped away, too. I saw one guy there with an awesome lens on a monopod, wish I could have talked to him about his pictures. I saw another guy with another awesome lens but he was handholding. Wonder how that worked out for him. Probably fantastically; being an awesome lens means it was fast glass, much faster than mine.

I am really impressed by my G10’s zoom feature. Compare these two shots. The first one is from the G10 and the second one is from my DSLR with my 55-250 zoom lens @ 250mm. We were standing at about the same spot:


We had both cameras set at ISO100 and shot on program mode. You can see that the G10 overexposes a little more than does the Rebel.

So here are some shots John took:


This picture just begs for a caption. What do you think these two are talking about?


I love the meerkats, they are sooo cute.

Now here are some of my shots:

See what I mean about lethargic?

Now, for the armadillo. This little guy seemed to be having a panic attack or something, he would not stop moving. So thanks to the G10’s video mode, John shot a few frames:

We spent about 3 hours at the zoo before we felt we’d seen about everything and were ready to go home. This guy was stationed on one of the blocks between the zoo and the Metro and I have no idea what he’s all about. But because he’s so colorful, I had John take his picture:


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My friend and co-worker Sue (who declined to be photographed for this article) spent an extended Memorial Day weekend in Panama with her daughters. I can’t wait to see her pictures because her description of the experience is fascinating.

They stayed in a hotel on an archipelago island. They were the only ones in residence (besides the staff). The hotel was primitive by our standards. I’ll update this post with more details once I see the pictures.

They had a very relaxing time, lounging on the beach and eating fresh fish every night. They toured around Panama City before they left for home and loved the Spanish architecture and the history of the city. Sue says it’s very clean and has a mix of the old and new. Panama has a bustling economy (they are building another canal so that they’ll be able to handle two-way traffic).

She found women who make molas, basically reverse appliqued pieces done strictly by hand. She bought a few and brought them into the office yesterday to show me. They are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. See for yourself:

The stitching is incredibly tiny and Sue says these women just sit and sew on their laps, they don’t sit at a table. I can understand that. I wouldn’t be comfortable handstitching anything at a table. The first picture is an older piece (she called it an antique but doesn’t know how old it is) and the second piece is new, in the traditional pattern. The third piece, the cat, is very touristy, Sue says.

Wow, all this makes me want to go there. Sue says it’s a very affordable vacation.


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Well this certainly wasn’t how I was expecting to spend my first free Thursday night in 9 months:
I think my headlight vaporized, because I never saw it in the debris field.

A young woman turned left right in front of me and I couldn’t avoid hitting her. We’re both fine, but I felt bad for her, she said it was her first accident. She accepted responsibility for it, but I hope her insurance rates don’t go sky high because of it.

The tow truck driver thinks GEICO will probably total the car (what, he’s an expert?) but we’re hoping not. The quiltmobile is paid for and I wasn’t planning on having car payments for a few more years at least.


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100th post!

I probably should have planned better, should have had a really great post to celebrate #100. But it crept up on me and I only just noticed that I’d posted #99. (Well, at least I didn’t miss it.)

So I don’t have anything great planned but I’m going to tell you about our “staycation” last week. It was John’s birthday week and the weather couldn’t have been better. We’re saving ourselves for a trip to California this summer, so we took last week off to get some household projects done.

The week started out with our church choir’s performance of John Rutter’s “Mass of the Children” on Sunday the 17th. It is an absolutely beautiful choral work, as most, if not all, Rutter pieces are. We’d been working on it since Christmas I think, but it was well worth it. It features adult and children’s choirs, soloists, organ and chamber orchestra. The children were stationed in the balcony, their voices were to be like angels, and angelic and ethereal it was.

John had some yard work planned, including taking out a couple of small trees growing where they shouldn’t have been, plus cleaning up some tree limbs in another bed. I planted 9 daylilies I got from our friend Anne:
Half of them already have flower buds!

My pride and joy, my Ballerina roses, were in full bloom last week:

We performed a long-overdue procedure on our kitchen floor and it was so successful I think I’ll be able to live with the awful thing for a while longer (good thing, since we’re stuck with it for the foreseeable future.)

John got a new GPS from the kids and I for his birthday and he happily played with his new toy for the rest of the week. We ran around town so that he could put it through its paces. Only one thing about it that he’s not really happy with is the bluetooth feature, his iPhone doesn’t work well with it. If there is a new iPhone on the horizon, perhaps it will work better.

We took one day trip to the National Zoo in Washington DC . I’ll go into more detail about it in another post.

And we ate and ate and ate. John signed up for a bunch of local restaurants’ birthday clubs so we had coupons to use up. We went to our new Mimi’s Cafe twice, once to Lone Star, Coldstone. We went to Chili’s for fajitas on the birthday. Wow do they have great chips. We also went to Cheeburger Cheeburger in celebration of a friend’s birthday. We still have Red Robin and Firebird’s coupons left, but I expect they’ll expire before we can get there. So much for my May weigh-in this coming weekend. 😦


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#773 of 1,000

OK, so it’s not in the top 10, 100 or 500, but who knew that catching your odometer turning to a milestone number is something that fascinates others besides us?

According to the blog 1000 Awesome Things, this cause for celebration is #773 in their list of awesome things. You can read about it here.


We drove slowly around the neighborhood so as not to miss this sequence of numbers. We should have driven around some more until it became “78.9.” That would have been too sweet.

We caught this one too:


I used to wonder if we were weird in this regard or something, but this website gives me some validation that we’re not the only ones. How about you?


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We had dinner last night with new and old friends from church. Everyone’s schedules are so full these days that Wednesday night was the only night we could all get together, we usually do this on weekends.

We had a yummy meal and great conversation and a lot of laughs. I had just learned the other day that one of these friends is into photography with a gallery website, no less. He and his wife have travelled the world (well not all of it) and I meant to ask them what trip they have planned next. Ken’s photos are really nice. You can see them here: Ken Hitchens. We brought our cameras and spent a good portion of the evening talking shop about photography.

Our host took us into the living room to show us the mantel he and his wife restored and I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this on the wall:


I only brought one lens with me and it wasn’t a wide angle so I couldn’t get back far enough to get the whole quilt into one frame. So you’re seeing the top, middle, bottom and a closeup of the initials and date. This quilt is one of 3 his mother divided up amongst he and his sisters. They don’t know much about it and they think it’s a family piece. It’s in the most amazing condition. I wonder what the other 2 look like.

This is the closest I’ve ever been to an antique quilt of this vintage that’s not in a museum. Hmmm, maybe it should be.


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