Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Feels Like the Future

My first day on the Silver Line, camera in hand, I soak in the experience as if I was a tourist. Which in a way I am. This is a new place, this strange new commute.

My first thought: It's a long time to spend on the train. My second thought: I wish we could barrel straight down the center of the Dulles Toll Road without that long detour through Tyson's Corner. Four stations is a lot of stopping and starting.

My third thought and most overwhelming impression: this feels like the future. It's not the future yet. Some of the stops lead to sad strip malls and car dealerships. But that will change. In 25 years, maybe even in 10, Tysons will be another Ballston or Clarendon, the Orange Line's great urban density success stories. We have a way to go in this part of Fairfax County, but the Silver Line is a start.

Welcome to the future. Almost.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Power Weeding

It's an ancient rhythm. Step, bend, pull. Weeds figure prominently in some Bible verses — they're always choking out the good plants, being bundled and burned at harvest time — and there must be references to them earlier in human history, too.

Yesterday we tackled the weeds in our yard. They were not quite as high as the ones in this picture (taken in the woods) but high enough. I started late in the day, rushed through the back garden in time to start dinner.

Power weeding: Stooping low, gathering the slender stalks of stiltgrass from the bottom, twisting, pulling and tossing.  (At least this invasive plant separates easily from the soil.)

Before long I had piles of weeds scattered around the cone flowers, piles I gathered and stuffed into the big bag in the front yard. A harvest of greenery. A happier garden. And this morning — ouch! — aching muscles.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Happy Dance Day

"Up the steep and very narrow stairway. To the voice like a metronome. Up the steep and very narrow stairway. It wasn't paradise, it wasn't paradise, it wasn't paradise, but it was home."
                                         "At the Ballet" from "A Chorus Line"

I missed International Dance Day (April 29) and National Tap Dance Day (May 25), so ... happy National Dance Day!

Ballet Nova is offering free classes and there's a big event at the Kennedy Center. But I'll stay home, practice my buffaloes and think about the dance classes I've taken through the years: the very first when I was five, then adult beginning ballet at 18, folk dance and modern dance in college, and a series of classes as a young adult.

At Joy of Motion in Chicago the teacher actually advanced us to pointe work. For a few precious, foot-cramped weeks I felt like a real ballerina. Later, in New York City, I took ballet uptown and midtown — once even in a studio above Carnegie Hall. I was earnest, tight, worried about my turn out.

Now ... it's all for fun. Tap is loose and joyful. It's difficult to take myself seriously doing it. It's a happy dance for happy National Dance Day.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Poison Idadee

When Suzanne was little and first encountered an itchy rash on her arm, she couldn't quite say "poison ivy." It came out "poison idadee."

And "poison idadee" it has remained these many years.

I've been getting into some "poison idadee" myself lately — and I have the itchy arms and bottles of calamine lotion to prove it.

It's not fun, but I'm glad that I've ventured off trails, explored new paths and hacked my way through brush and briar.

Summer will be over soon enough.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Last Drive to Vienna?

It's a gray day (not like this photo), flecks of rain on the pavement, when I rush out the door. I grab the newspaper, jump in the car, buckle up -- and I'm gone. There's the familiar route down Fox Mill to Vale to Hunter Mill.

I know every curve and hill of these western Fairfax lanes. I know where the school buses stop, the garbage trucks too. It's 17 minutes of twists and turns that make me feel as if I've come down the mountain. And in fact, the route once took hours instead of minutes.

But today's trip was different — though I was three-quarters of the way there when I realized it:  The next time I take public transportation downtown I will most likely be riding the Silver Line. I will be leaving from Reston, not Vienna. I will drive different roads — or maybe not drive at all.

I can still ride the Orange Line, of course; no one will stop me. But will I want to when the Wiehle Station is half as far from home?

It was a poignant moment, even at 6:20 a.m.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's Horizontal

Sometimes I snap a shot because I can see it here in the blog one day. It is usually horizontal, for starters. And it is generic. And, in my own eyes at least, it is beautiful.

This is one of those pictures. I was walking through Annapolis with Ellen, talking about our work, our kids, what we're reading now (we had just browsed in a bookstore) and there was the wall, the greenery and the stone.

Annapolis is a place I could photograph forever. The water and the land. The old and new. Church spires and weathered shutters. Flashy yachts and quiet gardens. Landscapes and close-ups. And horizontals, those especially, as many as possible.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Urban Corn

Was it whimsy that landed this corn plant here? An urban gardener looking for some fun?

I can't imagine that it's a volunteer. And if the sower of the seed was hoping for a bumper crop, well, there are only so many ears you can harvest with a single plant.

When I first saw the corn plant I was on a bicycle, phone camera back at the house. But my recent wanderings have taken me all over Reston, so on Saturday afternoon I found myself right back at the corner — the urban corn corner — where I'd spied it a few hours earlier.

So here's the little corn stalk that could. Not exactly of Midwestern proportions, but not bad for a little plant in the Virginia suburbs!


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