Saturday, December 31, 2016

Air and Space Museum Hawk

As we do every morning, we walk to the national mall for our daily exercise. We pass by the Library of Congress, House Office Buildings, the Capitol, the US Botanic Garden, Smithsonian American Indian Museum, then on to the Air and Space Museum. I thought I saw something flutter by from the corner of my eye as we were about to cross the street going forward. I knew what it was - a huge fluffy hawk. I have a very different opinion of the large birds since we saw one swoop down and take out a squirrel right in our neighborhood. It was an unforgettable sight! This one looked like he was on the prowl looking around for something. I was almost skiddish getting too close thinking he might attack! A crowd started forming when they realized I was looking up at something interesting. What's funny is that we took a cross country trip to California this summer and hardly saw a bird or animal in the wilderness. Here we are on Independence Avenue in the middle of Washington DC and we see more wild life - or at least the same as we did when we lived in Wisconsin. Last week we saw an eagle flapping on to the top branches of a tree as we turned on to the GW Parkway. You just need to keep your eyes open and your camera ready.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Voorthuis Eyewear in Alexandria

Since I gave up contacts several years ago, it's really important to have decent eyeglasses. I also like them to make some kind of statement. My husband finally broke down and got some new glasses last week at Voorthuis in Alexandria. We've been going there since we moved to DC. In Milwaukee, we loved Optix on the east side - they always had unusual and interesting glasses. Since we both got new prescriptions at the eye doctor last month, I decided it was time to get a new pair to start out the new year and celebrate my first year retirement anniversary coming up in February. So when we picked his glasses up today, we looked at a few options for me ... since I can't see what I'm looking at, I took a few selfies. My husband has a very particular point of view for fashion and Eyewear, while I can never make up my mind, and everything looks good. So with the help of three of the sales folks at Voorthuis, I went through the final frame selections with them. And wouldn't you know, they ended up liking the ones he had chosen at the very first. So I hope they turn out as well as they all made me believe. But I know I can depend on my husband's taste - after all these years.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Nips From Amazon - In the Nick of Time!

My husband loves cookies and candy. So much so, that I have ordered cases of Lu cinnamon cookies that we can no longer find at the grocery store through Amazon. So every few months I need to check  in with him about his candy and cookie supplies because I'm not sure where he keeps it all stashed. This month I have been really busy painting digital art portraits for Christmas gifts and haven't had a lot of time to do the things I normally would do - like checking on the candy supply. It was on my things to do list, but I just hadn't gotten around to it. So the other day my husband asked when I was going to order his Nips candy. Luckily I was just about to do it! It ended up being just in time! His supply literally ran out yesterday - but the two huge boxes of replacements arrived on the same day from Amazon. Whew! That was a close call. My husband doesn't ask for much - I need to pay better attention. But at least I had a good excuse?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Google Home Voice Activated Speaker

I like technical and digital devices. Since I was small, I always looked forward to getting things that were fun to use. So when the first mobile phone was out, we had one. And when the iPad came around, I was an immediate convert and haven't looked back. I haven't really paid that much attention to the speaker voice activated devices out there - Amazon, google, etc. So when we happened to get a google home speaker as a gift this week, I was entranced. When we got home from our weekend trip, I set it up using the App. It was rather simple. However, when it comes to actually using the thing, my husband is the bigger convert. He is always asking me things that I don't have the answer to. He may have found a new best friend! He does though, feel like there is someone else in the house which is a bit unnerving. I like the setting the timer option! We don't have any of the compatible features like turning lights and heat on and off,  but for answers to simple questions it's really nifty. All of this seems so mystical as well as amusing. Just imagine what the future holds? In the meantime, I'll use it to set my favorite pandora music - just by asking for it. Hey Google!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pet Portrait Successes

Since after Thanksgiving I have been kept almost too busy painting custom pet portraits. This is the fourth year since I opened my Etsy shop, and each year has become increasingly demanding - especially at this time of the year. In fact, I have turned down requests because I need to have a life, and each portrait requires an adequate amount of time to meet both the customers and my standard. Minimally I can turnaround a sketch with an IOU to complete the rest of it as soon as I am able. I still have four in the queue since I finally took off a couple days to relax! But the most rewarding experience is to receive pictures of the artwork from folks who were pleased with the results. They take the digital images and turn them in to a canvases, or framed works of art. Then they tell me how the recipient responded to the unexpected gift. The most heartwarming are the reactions to memorial portraits given to best friends, siblings, or from wives to husbands. If they bring tears to someone's eyes, then I know I did my job. I'd just like to thank everyone for letting me be a part of this experience. The furry friends in our lives have a way of never letting us forget them. I'm so happy I can be a part of the memory.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas In Lynchburg

We usually are in DC for the holidays, except for last year when we visited my mom in Florida. DC basically empties out, and things are very quiet around the neighborhood. Then we received a call on Thursday. It was an invitation to stay with our family who moved to Lynchburg over two years ago. Their new home was just completed after a huge renovation and restoration project in a very old warehouse along the James River. So last evening - out of curiosity - we explored and attended a Christmas event at the well known Thomas Road Baptist Church, and then went for dinner at Cavaliers. Both were interesting experiences! It was an unusual Christmas Eve to say the least, but a memorable one. So this morning we thought a walk was in order and we were escorted by our grandson to the point of honor trail. It follows along the blackwater creek to a waterfall. It couldn't be more different than DC - the silence was deafening and the bird sounds were unfamiliar. Since we visit every so many months, we will continue to explore the surrounding paths along the James River. There is a lot of history in this city, and the scenery around us tells the story.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

McLean Family Restaurant and Yas Bakery

As is with any Saturday, we headed to McLean Family Restaurant for breakfast. Everyone was decked out in red attire for Christmas. We had our favorite wait staff and wished everyone a happy holiday. Next stop was Yas Bakery - a place in Vienna for Persian food and lucious desserts. One of my husband's favorite staples is this tart vinegary vegetable mix. But this time we loaded up on more goodies than staples since we are making our way to a Christmas Eve celebration and could not possibly go empty handed! It's a bit rainy and foggy but nothing can dampen the holiday spirit today. I hope everyone has a happy holiday filled with peace and comfort. Of course, dessert sometimes helps!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Capitol Christmas Tree

We saw it being hoisted from a flat bed truck all the way from Idaho a few weeks ago. The park ranger distributed little branches from it for all the onlookers. But we have not had a chance to see the Capitol Christmas tree up close since it was decorated. The other day we drove by at night to see it in all of its splendor. We had good intentions to walk over at dusk and glimpse the lovely lights and ambiance, but just never got there. So today on our morning walk we headed over to see the ornaments close up, before Christmas Day arrives. They were mostly hand made by the children of Idaho representing various aspects of the state - bluebirds, horses, trout, and potatoes! A few people were milling about. The tree was quite dry since there has been little to no rain since it was put on display.  Our tiny branch was already long gone. So, another year has passed and a other tree we have seen on the Capitol lawn. I often wonder how many more we will see. We just can't seem to make up our minds!