Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday: Great Falls

Outdoor Wednesday is hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. To see many, many more outdoor photos or to post some of your own, please visit her blog.

These are a few photos we took a couple of years ago, on a visit to Great Falls Park in McLean, Virginia. The park overlooks the Great Falls of the Potomac River, with Virginia on one side and Maryland on the other. And the views can be pretty spectacular. (Click on photos to enlarge.)
The park has several overlooks along the hiking trail. At least one of the overlooks and part of the trail are wheelchair accessible.

They're a little hard to see against the foam here, but the herons in this shot were enjoying a little wade in the water.

Lunch break high above the river. I think the park rangers would probably frown on this.

If you enlarge this one, you can just make out some fishermen at the bottom center of the shot. Again, I'm not sure this is really allowed - I know swimming is a no-no.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blue Monday: Mystery Doll in Blue

Blue Monday is hosted weekly by Smiling Sally.
To see more offerings, or to participate yourself,
please head on over to her blog.

I don't really have much blue around the place, except in my doll collection. So today I thought I'd show off my Toni Doll. She's an early 1950s doll, made by the Ideal Toy Corporation ("It's a wonderful toy! It's Ideal!"). She's made from hard plastic, about 16 inches tall, and is in absolutely mint condition. She came with her original (blue) outfit, box, wrist tag, and all the proper accouterments: curlers, shampoo creme, and "play wave" (a sugar-water solution). But I'm pretty sure Toni never had her platinum hair "done" – it's still in the original set.
The reason I call her a mystery doll is because of the slightly cryptic piece of writing we found penciled on her box. The note simply says "Last Christmas." The dealer we bought her from said she had been put away for over forty years in an attic or the top of someone's closet, and never played with. Well, the "never played with" part is obvious – she looks like she was just slipped out of Santa's bag. And I took the note to mean that the doll was received at Christmas last year, about fifty years ago. But my husband, who is a much more creative thinker (and just a teeny bit sentimental sometimes) came up with a sad and rather spooky scenario about a doll received on a child's last Christmas (as in final Christmas – as in somebody died), and then put away untouched and un-played with for nearly half a century.

Well, that's intriguing but very depressing, so I choose to go with my own first impressions and ignore my hubby's little flight of fantasy. But should he be writing short stories, or what?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday: Balcony Butterfly

Outdoor Wednesday is hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. To see many, many more outdoor photos or to post some of your own, please visit her blog.

This photo is from a few weeks back. One afternoon last month, this gorgeous butterfly suddenly and unaccountably attached itself to the underside of our balcony railing and just sat there for a while. Stayed long enough for me to run inside, get the camera, come back outside and snap its photo before it fluttered off. Hard to tell from the shot, but it was a huge critter – about as big as my hand.
I know for all you people with yards and gardens this doesn't seem so special, but for us high-rise dwellers, it's pretty unique! Also reminds me of the summer that just fluttered its way out of here this week.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Random Photo Monday: Greetings from Methuselah

Friday was my birthday. Never mind how old (old enough to know better, as my mother used to say). And this year I only got one birthday card – from my cousin MLB (thanks, Cuzzie!). We grew up together, and I can always depend on her for a card that cheers me up and brings me a few chuckles. Aside from that, the only birthday greeting I got was an email ad from Borders! Sad, but true – it's come to that. Well, my hubby did tell me "Happy Birthday" when he woke me up Friday morning, and he let me sleep late which was sweet. But there was no cute and mushy birthday card waiting at breakfast, and no nicely wrapped package containing chocolates or diamonds this year. Bummer.

But the thing that really made me sad was that there was no card from M's mom. Usually, I can expect my mother-in-law to remember even if no one else does. But she's been having a lot of health problems this year, and she's still recovering from a fall she suffered last November that left her with some pretty serious head injuries. So she's doing really well to remember her own birthday – can't expect her to be sending out birthday cards right now. And since my mother and grandmothers are gone now, I've come to realize (with something of a jolt), that I've suddenly become one of the matriarchs in both my family and M's. The ones who remember birthdays and keep track of all the family history. How did that happen?

So, anyway, in honor of my own appearance on the scene, I'm putting up a shot of moi at my very first birthday party back in the foggy mists of time. Yes, I know it's self-centered and egotistical. But those are privileges that come with advanced age. And I know the photo is pretty blurry (well, I said it was the foggy mists of time, didn't I?) – but it's the best one of the bunch from that day. My mother was the photographer and she was never very handy with a camera. Generally, people in her photos ended up with no heads or only half a body, so this is one of the really successful shots!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins #142

I've missed the last few Friday Fill-Ins. Don't know why - just lazy, I guess. So this is my first one for September (which I refuse to believe is more than half over already!). Here goes:

1. My car is like me – getting old, but still running and in pretty good shape for its age. Oh, and made in the USA!

2. Halloween is coming up next. The holiday season is upon us. Boo!

3. Lately, things seem hectic and depressing. But that's how I usually feel every autumn.

4. ___________ is one of my favorite 'hiding' places. Hmmmm. I don't think I have any hiding places. I don't really have anything or anyone to hide from.

5. What happened to the summer? We really had a short one this year.

6. Reading fifty books this year is not impossible! I think I might actually get there, yet.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to celebrating my birthday with something chocolate-y and calorie-filled, tomorrow my plans include getting back on the diet, and Sunday, I want to watch the Cowboys play the Giants (I think that's who they're playing), and get some reading done!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday: Old Tennis Court

Outdoor Wednesday is hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. To see many, many more outdoor photos or to post some of your own, please visit her blog.

On our way to get our flu shots last week, M and I happened to notice an old ruin of a brick wall and gateway to something. Had my camera with me, so I decided to explore. It turned out to be an abandoned tennis court, probably connected with what appeared to be a construction site on down the drive. We didn't go any further, but it looked like there might be an old house back there somewhere, and I guess someone is getting ready to rebuild. Hope they resurrect the tennis court, too. But for now, the ruins are very picturesque. (Click on the photos to enlarge.)
Can't really see the tennis court from the road.

Just barely visible as we sneak up on it.

Peeking through the fence.

The abandoned tennis court, overgrown with weeds and wild flowers.

And from a little further away. "Love" among the ruins?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gratuitous Sunday Photo: Sunshine Tree

Yesterday was mostly gray and rainy around here, and much cooler than it really should be at this time of year. Pretty depressing, actually. We stayed home and played with M's new Mac. A lazy day.

But after all the gloom, we were surprised by a really lovely sunset, and when I stepped out onto the balcony before dinner, I noticed the setting sun had caught this stand of trees and was really gilding the one lonely sycamore in the bunch. It was a beautiful moment, and I only managed to capture just a bit of the effect with my camera; but it reminded me that even though summer is dying, there are nice things to be said for autumn, too.

(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday: School Days Flash-Back

Outdoor Wednesday is hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. To see many, many more outdoor photos or to post some of your own, please visit her blog.

Well, Labor Day has come and gone and suddenly it's autumn. Even after living up here in the north country for more than a quarter century now, I've never really gotten used to that abrupt change of seasons at the beginning of September. I grew up in a part of Texas where the warm summer weather could (and frequently did) last right up to Christmas Eve, and beyond! So I'm never prepared for the shortened days and brisk nights that appear here in Virginia, right after August makes its exit every year.

But it definitely feels like fall's approaching now. So, since all the schools in the DC area are back in session, and in honor of the back-to-school weather, I'm putting up a few nostalgic schoolyard shots from back in the school year of 195-something . . . well, sometime around the invention of the wheel. I was about six years old, in the first grade, and the day was actually near the end of the school year rather than the beginning (I was a "mid-termer," which meant that I hadn't been old enough to enter school in September, and had to wait until the following January – a complicated and antiquated system that was done away with a few years later). And, no – we weren't dressed up for any particular celebration. Believe it or not, this is just the way kids dressed for a normal school day back in the Pleistocene Era.
These were the girls in the class. My mother was taking the photos, and I'm not sure why she didn't get a shot of all the boys. Probably couldn't corral them long enough. I'm the one kneeling, second from the left, in the front row, with the sun in my eyes. Notice the "vintage" cars way over to the right.
Me again, before school on the same day. Don't you love that garden hose snaking across the grass in the background? My mom wasn't one to sweat the details.
And one more. Here I am (third from the right) with some of my "special friends." I appear to be deep in thought, don't I? Probably wondering how long 'til lunchtime. You know, this shot reminds me – I was actually a pretty tall kid until we all reached puberty and everybody else kept growing! Darn that Mother Nature, anyway!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday's Movie: Vitus

A Novel Menagerie hosts Monday's Movie every week, and invites everyone to "write about any movies, television or big screen, that you’ve seen over the past week."

This was a pretty good movie-watching week for Joysweb. Watched one new (new-to-me, anyway) film on DVD, and also got to see three of my absolute all-time favorites (thank whatever gods may be for Ted Turner and his Turner Classic Movies channel).

The new film, Vitus, was one M ordered from Netflix – don't know how he found out about it, but I was skeptical. The description made me think it was likely to be either too depressing or too cutesy for my taste, so we delayed watching for several weeks while other DVDs came and went. Now, of course, I'm sorry we waited so long, because the film was absolutely charming – in fact, it was so mesmerizing I hardly even noticed the subtitles. And for me, that's high praise indeed!


Switzerland, 2006

MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild thematic elements and language.

Written by Peter Luisi and Fredi M. Murer
Directed by Fredi M. Murer

Cast: Teo Gheorghiu (Vitus, age 12), Fabrizio Borsani (Vitus, age 6), Bruno Ganz, Julika Jenkins, Urs Jucker

Synopsis: (from the Rotten Tomatoes website)
In this engaging drama from Switzerland, a child prodigy finds a unique way of dealing with being different. Vitus is no normal child. With a 180 IQ, a voracious appetite for knowledge, and a preternatural gift at playing the piano, he finds it hard to fit in with his peers. Like many parents of exceptional children, his mother and father (Julika Jenkins and Urs Jucker) are overbearing, eager to see their child succeed. But as his parents push and fellow children jeer, Vitus's grandfather (Bruno Ganz) simply allows the boy to be himself. Though VITUS follows the blueprint for childhood prodigy movies a bit too closely at times, it's saved by a great cast and some interesting twists. As the 12-year-old Vitus, Teo Gheorghiu, himself a piano prodigy, heightens the sense of realism in the film. The classic music he plays is beautiful, and the actor's playing itself is remarkable. Audiences used to seeing hand doubles in films about musicians will be . . . surprised to see that there aren't any cuts, displaying Gheorghiu's incredible talent. Veteran actor Ganz has literally played everything from an angel to Hitler in his decades-long career, and he's wonderful here as Vitus's warm grandfather and best friend. As a result of great performances like these, it's easy to see why VITUS was the Swiss entry to the Oscars.
My Thoughts:
Well, I really wouldn't agree with that part about Vitus's parents being overbearing – they're actually very caring and loving people. But his mother does develop into something of a classic "stage mother" over time, forcing her little wunderkind to keep up with his practice and controlling every aspect of his life until the boy engineers his own unique method of escape. There are some wonderfully moving and funny scenes with Vitus and his grandfather (played by the amazing Swiss actor, Bruno Ganz), and a very touching (and also funny) relationship is portrayed between Vitus and baby-sitter, Isabel. Vitus falls in love with the older girl, and when she protests he explains his theory that since a woman's libido matures faster than a man's, women should always marry men who are at least six years younger! All of the actors are terrific, but the children are especially impressive; and Teo Gheorghiu is himself a true wunderkind. I'm rating this one four bags of popcorn – I'd love to see it again.

The three other movies – all from my list of top favorites – were Casablanca, The Haunting (the original version from 1963), and Young Frankenstein. Great movies! I won't say anything more about them – especially in the case of Casablanca, it's all been said before and more eloquently than I ever could. They all get five bags of popcorn, or all the bags of popcorn you've got!

Blue Monday: Summertime Blues

Blue Monday is hosted weekly by Smiling Sally.
To see more offerings, or to participate yourself,
please head on over to her blog.

Well, beach week has come and gone but I'm still playing with the photos from our trip. These are a few of the blue bits from our stay in Rehoboth last month. (You can click on each one for a slightly larger view.)

Blue beach umbrellas.

Blue sky through a coffee shop window.

A tiny blue house near the beach.

And at night, the moonlight turns the boardwalk blue.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday: Shore Things

Outdoor Wednesday is hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. To see many, many more outdoor photos or to post some of your own, please visit her blog.

We spent most of last week in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Didn't have perfect weather the whole time – Hurricane Bill was blowing around out in the Atlantic, but fortunately kept his distance. Still, our visit was lots of fun and very relaxing, as always. And, also as always, it provided some very nice photo ops. Here's a sampling. (You can click on the photos to see larger versions.)