Friday, July 28, 2017

THE RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD

This is an old post that I forgot to publish.  I hope it wasn't a ghost copy or you may have seen these before, keeping fingers crossed.  I was going through a few forgotten drafts when I found it.  These photos were taken in April 2016 at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria.


You can learn more about him here






A couple of collages that I came up with at the time.




Thursday, July 27, 2017

THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL - A 5.8 EARTHQUAKE....

that occurred at 1.51 p.m. on August 23rd, 2011, caused more than $34 million in damage to the Cathedral.   This earthquake was the largest the East Coast had experienced in 115 years.



Pinnacles weighing hundreds and even thousands of pounds came crashing down.  Fortunately most fell inward onto the structure's parapets, instead of outward, where they could have caused serious bodily harm to those who only moments before had been admiring the cathedral from outside, or who were running out of the cathedral as it shook.  



There was a small, fenced off area where some of those fallen pieces were on display, with a description of what was being done.




It reads, "The Earthquake.  On August 23rd, 2011, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake shook the East Coast, causing over $34 million in damage to Washington National Cathedral.  While the Cathedral withstood the quake largely in tact, buttresses cracked, large limestone pinnacles twisted, and hand-carved finials, including these stones, fell.

Work completed.  Through private donations only, the Cathedral was able to raise $10 million in the two years following the earthquake to complete Phase 1 repairs and to restore the interior and provide seismic reinforments and repairs to the 
east end flying buttresses.  This work was completed in June 2015.

Not done yet.  While the Cathedral's interior earthquake damage has been repaired, nearly 87% of the exterior still needs restoration.  In March 2016, we began the first part of Phase 2 earthquake efforts, but we have $22 million left to go.  The remaining work can only be completed as gifts are given by donors, foundations and every day people who join us in renewing this house of prayer for all people."

And then it goes on to give the e-mail address where donations can be arranged.  

I have to confess that we had no idea this much damage had been done to the Cathedral, and that work was an ongoing process after all these years.

  

We had parked in an underground car park not too far away from here.  You can see the glass enclosed elevator shafts on the right of the picture below.




Inside there were other fallen pieces on display...





and on the seventh floor there is a whole exhibit.



































Washington National Cathedral is on Facebook here.





Just for added info, the Washington Monument will be closed indefinitely.  (I read somewhere until 2019.)  It was closed due to damage done in the earthquake and repairs were made.  Additionally its elevators have had numerous problems due to their age and are no longer deemed safe. People are not allowed to use the stairs any more.  Gregg remembers walking to the top when on a school trip to the Nation's Capital in 1961. 


The Washington Monument has a Facebook page which you can see here.





Wednesday, July 26, 2017

BLANKET FLOWERS



A Flower is a Flower

I did not bring you roses
When you searched for something rare,
Instead I brought you daisies
And I hoped you wouldn't care;

And now I look behind me
With a wistful little smile - 
You would have taken dandelions
And loved me all the while.

~Linda Ori~



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

DID I TAKE HIM HOME WITH ME?

Nope, but....


you are never too old to hug a teddy bear.  


My old one is still around but stored away for safe keeping.  Below is an old photo I have shared before, and if you know me from my old blog, maybe you remember the photo.  That bear was a gift from my parents when I was a year old.


Yes, I'm still hugging them, just maybe not quite as often.





Monday, July 24, 2017

MONDAY RECIPE - SHRIMP ROLLS WITH QUICK PICKLEs AND SWEET POTATO WEDGES


While Bill from New Zealand was with us, I stopped the Blue Apron deliveries for two weeks.  I knew there would be a lot of sight-seeing and probably eating out.  


Bill is still traveling.  From us he went down to Florida to visit a cousin, from there he flew over to England to visit another cousin.  We have been enjoying his travels via Facebook.  (Gregg shows me photos as I don't do that but rarely, sorry!  I will get back into it sometime, the same for my memes.)  Bill has another country to visit before he gets back to New Zealand.  And if you see this Bill, we loved having you stay with us for a while.  Happy Traveling!

Getting back to today's recipe, I arranged for the BA boxes to start again the morning we took Bill to the airport (I wrote this on June 16th), as I knew we would be home from Richmond well in time for the delivery.  The package is well sealed in large refrigerator packs but still, I don't like to leave them out for any length of time in hot, muggy weather. This being the case, I checked every 10 minutes around the time they were due on the doorstep.  I only had to check a couple of times before they arrived.



Shrimp Rolls with Quick Pickles and Sweet Potato Wedges.  

Cooking time: 25-35 minutes
Makes: 2 servings
Nutrition: 760 calories

(If we have a question about a particular technique, there is usually a video at their website.  It makes a great visual.)

10 ounces of raw Shrimp that have been peeled and deveined (the shrimp from Blue Apron are already shelled and deveined)
2 Hot Dog Buns
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Kirby Cucumber (we will use a regular hot house cuke if we can't find the Kirby, using perhaps half of a medium size.  All depends on how much you would like to add.)
1 Lemon
1 pound of Sweet Potatoes
1 Stalk of Celery
1 Bunch of Dill
1 tablespoon of Sugar
1 Red Fresno Pepper (will juse a jalapeno or equivalent pepper if we can't find the Fresno.)
1/4 cup of Creamy Mustard Sauce (Dijonnaise Sauce - recipe below)
1/4 cup of White Wine Vinegar

Prepare and roast the sweet potatoes:

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.  

Wash and dry the sweet potatoes.  Cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide wedges and place on a sheet pan. (I use non-stick aluminum foil to cover the pan for easier clean-up.)  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat and arrange in a single layer.  Roast 24 to 26 minutes, or until browned and tender when pierced with a fork.  (They brown very quickly so I turn them half way through the cooking time.)  When cooked remove them from the oven and transfer to a serving dish.  Set aside in a war warm place. 

Prepare the remaining ingredients:

Peel and devein the shrimp if necessary.  Wash hands thoroughly and also any prep board used before continuing.  (I have two cutting boards - one for meat and one for vegetables.)

While the sweet potatoes roast, wash and dry the remaining fresh produce.  

Peel the garlic and using the flat side of your knife, gently smash each clove to flatten.  (I always use a garlic press.)

Roughly chop half the dill.  Keep the remaining dill springs whole.

Quarter and deseed the lemon.

Quarter the cucumber lengthwise, halve crosswise.  Place in a medium heatproof bowl; top with the juice of 2 lemon wedges.  Toss to coat.  

If necessary halve the buns by cutting lengthwise across the top, but leaving the bottoms intact.

Thinly slice the celery.  

Cut off and discard the stem end of the pepper; half lengthwise, then remove and discard the ribs and seeds.  Thinly slice the pepper crosswise.  Remember to thoroughly wash your hands immediately after handling the pepper, and do the same with the cutting board.

Make the pickles:

While the sweet potatoes continue to roast, in a small pot combine the vinegar, sugar, garlic, whole dill springs, a large pinch of salt and a 1/4 cup of water; heat to boiling on high.  Once boiling, cook without stirring for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the liquid is slightly reduced in volume.  Carefully pour into the bowl of cucumber and stir to coat.  Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally for at least 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the shrimp:

While the pickles cool, rinse the shrimp and pat dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper.  In a medium pan (nonstick if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high heat until hot.  Add the seasoned shrimp.  Cook, stirring occasionally for 2 to 4 minutes, or until opaque and just cooked through.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

Toast the buns:

While the shrimp cooks, place the buns on a separate sheet pan, cut side down.  Toast in the oven 3 to 4 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a clean work surface.

Dress the shrimp and plate your dish:

To the bowl of cooked shrimp, add the celery, creamy mustard sauce, the juice of the remaining lemon wedges, and as much of the hot pepper as you would like, depending on how spicy you would like the dish to be.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir to thoroughly combine and again season with salt and pepper to taste.  Evenly divide the dressed shrimp between the toasted buns.  Now put one of the shrimp rolls on each plate, along with the roasted sweet potatoes and pickles (discarding the liquid, garlic and dill sprigs before serving) between 2 dishes.  Garnish the rolls with the chopped dill and enjoy!

Dijonnaise Recipe:

Whisk together 1/2 up of high-quality mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard.  Season with salt and pepper but not too much as the mustard already has plenty of these ingredients.

Taste and adjust to your liking.  

You can also adjust the amounts according to how much you need.

Other suggestions: add 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt or a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. or even a little Worcestershire Sauce, along with a little chopped dill (or tarragon or thyme).  

A dash of Tabasco if you like it hotter.

Good with roasted vegetables, mix for a tuna fish salad.  

Dijonnaise also makes an instant base for a creamy salad dressing, or a pork loin marinade. Also great for sandwiches.



What did we think?  This was one of our all-time favorites and we seem to enjoy every meal they send us.  

You can leave out the salt and pepper if you have health issues.  I often do this as I tend to keep salt intake at a minimum.  

I still have a sweet potato in the fridge as Gregg doesn't eat them and we only used one of the potatoes.  It wasn't wasted as I roasted it for lunch the next day.  Next time I will serve with a mixed salad, though that potato is very yummy.

I found the sweet potatoes browned a lot, so I would suggest turning them over half-way through roasting if you have the same issue.

The calories seem high to some but we generally only eat two meals a day and don't over indulge at other times.  I try to keep healthy snacks in the fridge if we need them.



I love the recipe cards sent by Blue Apron.  The step-by-step photos, plus instructions, are very easy to follow.  Our role in the kitchen for the three meal plan we order, is that I sit at the kitchen table and read those instructions, and show Gregg the photos if he requires a visual.  He enjoys getting stuck in and does the majority of the work.  I set the table with cutlery, knapkins and our drinks.  I always prepare the garlic as it's not his fave, and sometimes do another prep if he wants the help.  It is a team effort and we enjoy our time in the kitchen together.  





Sunday, July 23, 2017

MORE PHOTOS FROM THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL

The following photos were taken below ground level, where there are five small chapels known as The Crypt.



This is The Resurrection Chapel, and contains mosaic scenes which depict the appearances of Jesus following his resurrection.



The mosaics in the back were designed by one of the most prolific and long-lived cathedral artists, Rowan LeCompte and his wife Irene.  




So the story goes, Mr. LeCompte became enamored by the stained glass on a visit to the cathedral when he was 13 years of age, and he took up the craft.


He has designed more than 40 stained-glass windows for the cathedral, including the great West Rose Window and all of the clerestory (top-level windows in the nave).






















If interested I found a YouTube video on the making of the mosaics.  If you can't see it below, the link is here.  The video wasn't very clear at times but the narration was informative.



The cathedral would appeal to those who are not Christian, and people of all faiths can be seen here. It truly is a magnificent structure, and its architecture, history and artwork is amazing.








This is the final resting place of Alfred Harding, the second bishop of Washington National Cathedral, his wife Justine and their infant son.



I am not sure where I found the painting below, except that it was in the crypt.  A hallway between chapels perhaps.


The only other we entered was The Bethlehem Chapel.  We intend to go back to see the others.



There was a lady here.  She was sitting in a pew to the side, quietly reading a book.  After the hot, muggy weather outside, the coolness underground was very much a comfort.  One could sit in quiet contemplation for a long time without being disturbed.  


Bethlehem Chapel was the first part of the cathedral built on top of the foundation stone, at what is now the crypt level.   Beneath its altar is that foundation stone, which contains a piece of rock from a field near Bethlehem.  It was set on September 29th, 1907, in a ceremony attended by President Theodore Roosevelt.

A worship service has been held here every day since it was finished in 1912.  Bethlehem Chapel was dedicated to the first bishop, Bishop Satterlee, whose remains are laid to rest behind the altar in an alabaster sarcophagus, along with those of his wife Jane.  Bishop Satterlee was a major player in getting the cathedral constructed.  




The chapel also contains the tomb of Admiral George Dewey, hero of the Spanish-American War and later a member of the Cathedral Chapter.

More photos of our time at the cathedral in later posts.