a morning visit to the franciscan monastery

Saturday, May 24:  Today, I go with a photography group to visit the Franciscan Monastery in Washington.  I already wrote about it a post in August 2011 (the franciscan monastery in washington: gardens & shrines), and I don’t want to repeat myself, so if you’d like to know more of the history, you can check out the earlier post.  For today, I’ll simply post some pictures from this beautiful May morning.

Entrance to the Franciscan Monastery
Entrance to the Franciscan Monastery
Gardens at the Franciscan Monastery
Gardens at the Franciscan Monastery
the Monastery
the Monastery
facade of the Monastery
facade of the Monastery
cloisters
cloisters
peeking out from the cloisters
peeking out from the cloisters
roses
roses
roses
roses
gardens
gardens
roses and gardens
roses and gardens
view of gardens from cloisters
view of gardens from cloisters
the Monastery
the Monastery
a cute little building covered in vines
a cute little building covered in vines

To see a slide show, just click on any of the images below.

green spring gardens

Saturday, March 15:  Inspired by Ailsa’s travel challenge of gardens this week (Where’s my backpack? Travel Theme: Gardens) and by the momentary beautiful weather, I venture to Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria today in hopes of finding a glimpse of spring.

Inside the greenhouse, where it’s summer all the time, I find succulents and orchids, but outside, dirty remnants of snow still mar the brown grass and only a few crocuses peek out from the soil.  Nonetheless, the breeze carries the promise of spring.  Families stroll about and photographers snap pictures of brides and grooms.  It’s lovely to get outside for this fleeting spring day, as the mid-Atlantic is preparing for yet another snowstorm (3-6″) beginning Sunday night through Monday morning. Please!  Haven’t we had enough this winter?

orchid in the greenhouse
orchid in the greenhouse
orchid
orchid
orchid
orchid
in the greenhouse
in the greenhouse
succulents
succulents
succulents
succulents
succulents
succulents
cactus
cactus
succulents
succulents
cacti
cacti
succulents
succulents
crocuses
crocuses
other spring peepers
other spring peepers
gazebo on the pond
gazebo on the pond
gazebo
gazebo
Canadian goose
Canadian goose
path through the woods
path through the woods

At least we do have more daylight hours now, as daylight savings time began last Sunday. 🙂

the korean war veterans memorial {travel theme: still}

Tuesday, December 17: Ailsa’s travel theme (Where’s my backpack?) for this week, Still, brought to mind the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.  The Korean War is considered to have ended when the Armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, but there has never been a peace treaty.  South Korean and American troops still face off against North Korean troops today at the 38th parallel, commonly called the DMZ.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial sits in Washington, D.C.’s West Potomac Park, just south of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall. It commemorates those who served in the Korean War.

The main memorial is in the form of a triangle intersecting a circle. More than 2,500 photographic, archival images representing the land, sea and air troops who supported those who fought in the war are sandblasted on the 100 ton wall of highly polished “Academy Black” granite from California.

the main memorial of the Korean Veterans War Memorial
the main memorial of the Korean Veterans War Memorial

Within the walled triangle are 19 stainless steel statues, each larger than life-size, between 7 feet 3 inches and 7 feet 6 inches tall; each weighs nearly 1,000 pounds. The figures represent a squad on patrol, drawn from each branch of the armed forces; fourteen of the figures are from the U.S. Army, three are from the Marine Corps, one is a Navy corpsman, and one is an Air Force Forward Air Observer. They are dressed in full combat gear, dispersed among strips of granite and juniper bushes which represent the rugged terrain of Korea (Wikipedia: Korean War Veteran’s Memorial).

17 stainless steel larger-than-life statues represent a patrol squad
17 stainless steel larger-than-life statues represent a patrol squad
patrol squad in Korea
patrol squad in Korea

According to History.com, on June 25, 1950, the Korean War began when some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War. By July, American troops had entered the war on South Korea’s behalf. As far as American officials were concerned, it was a war against the forces of international communism itself. After some early back-and-forth across the 38th parallel, the fighting stalled and casualties mounted with nothing to show for them. Meanwhile, American officials worked anxiously to fashion some sort of armistice with the North Koreans. The alternative, they feared, would be a wider war with Russia and China–or even, as some warned, World War III. Finally, in July 1953, the Korean War came to an end. In all, some 5 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives during the war. The Korean peninsula is still divided today.

patrol squad in Korea
patrol squad in Korea

The United Nations Command, supported by the United States, the North Korean People’s Army, and the Chinese People’s Volunteers, signed the Armistice Agreement on 27 July 1953 to end the fighting. The Armistice also called upon the governments of South Korea, North Korea, China and the United States to participate in continued peace talks. The war is considered to have ended at this point, even though there was no peace treaty.  North Korea nevertheless claims that it won the Korean War (Wikipedia: Korean War).

patrol squad
patrol squad

Since the armistice, there have been numerous incursions and acts of aggression by North Korea. In 1976, the axe murder incident was widely publicized. This involved the killing of two United States Army officers by North Korean soldiers on August 18, 1976, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) within the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The U.S. officers had been part of a work party cutting down a tree in the JSA. Since 1974, four incursion tunnels leading to Seoul have been uncovered.

In 2010, a North Korean submarine torpedoed and sank the South Korean ROKS Cheonan, resulting in the deaths of 46 sailors.  Again in 2010, North Korea fired artillery shells on Yeonpyeong island, killing two military personnel and two civilians (Wikipedia: Korean War).

Korean War Veterans Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial

I was living and working in Korea during both of the 2010 incidents, which made for some very unsettling moments: north korea sinks the south korean navy ship cheonan and North Korea attacks the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.

Korean War Veterans Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
the main memorial
the main memorial

It’s a shame that North Korea still to this day bullies South Korea, one of the world’s economic success stories.  Having lived and worked in South Korea, and having taught many South Korean students, I feel a kinship with the South.  I hope that the still-tense situation at the 38th parallel will, one day soon, be resolved peacefully.

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travel theme: distance {the march on washington & “i have a dream”}

Monday, September 2:  This week was a big deal in Washington as the country celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the August 28, 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” accompanied by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech.  (For more about what was happening at that tumultuous time in the USA, see the Atlantic’s article: 50 Years Ago: The World in 1963).

I decide to go into Washington today, during the Labor Day holiday, to photograph the view from the Lincoln Memorial across the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument.  In a famous photograph, Martin Luther King, Jr. stands on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gives a famous speech that includes these words (For the rest of his speech see Martin Luther King, Jr.: I Have a Dream):

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

Today’s view is different than the one above.  For one, today is 50 years at a distance from the 1963 historic moment.  The only crowds today are tourists, wandering haphazardly around.  The Washington Monument, in the distance, is now covered in scaffolding for renovations after it sustained structural damage during the 2011 earthquake.  And my pictures, unlike those taken in 1963, are in color.   Except for the one below.  And of course, Martin Luther King, Jr. is absent as he was, sadly, assassinated on April 4, 1968.

The Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument today
The Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument today
The Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States
Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial
Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial
The view from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial across the Reflecting Pool to the scaffolded Washington Monument
The view from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial across the Reflecting Pool to the scaffolded Washington Monument
Reflecting pool & Washington Monument
Reflecting pool & Washington Monument
the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument
the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument

I also decide to stop by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, which was just completed on August 28, 2011, 48 years after the “March on Washington.”

entrance to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
entrance to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

From the National Park Service website about the memorial: August 28, 2011, the 48th anniversary of the groundbreaking March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom witnessed the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. It is fitting that on this date, reminiscent of the defining moment in Dr. King’s leadership in the Civil Rights movement; in the form of solid granite, his legacy is further cemented in the tapestry of the American experience. His leadership in the drive for realization of the freedoms and liberties laid down in the foundation of the United States of America for all of its citizens, without regard to race, color, or creed is what introduced this young southern clergyman to the nation. The delivery of his message of love and tolerance through the means of his powerful gift of speech and eloquent writings inspire to this day, those who yearn for a gentler, kinder world . His inspiration broke the boundaries of intolerance and even national borders, as he became a symbol, recognized worldwide of the quest for civil rights of the citizens of the world (National Park Service: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial: History & Culture).

looking back at the entrance to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
looking back at the entrance to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

And a quote to think about.  I think I need this one myself now.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

For other takes on Ailsa’s challenge at Where’s my backpack? see Travel Theme: Distance.

travel theme: play

Friday, August 23: Ailsa’s Travel Theme for this week is play.  She quotes:

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” – Plato

“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

My son Alex loves pushing himself to the limits to accomplish tough gymnastics moves. Here he is playing in our backyard doing some handstands and plank moves on his rings.

Click on any of the pictures below to see a full-sized slide show.

Here are some monks playing drums and doing Sunmudo Martial Arts at Golgulsa Sunmudo Temple near Gyeongju, South Korea.

Koreans playing drums at Golgulsa Sunmudo Temple near Gyeongju, Korea
Koreans playing drums at Golgulsa Sunmudo Temple near Gyeongju, Korea
monks doing Sunmudo at Golgulsa Sunmudo Temple in Korea
monks doing Sunmudo at Golgulsa Sunmudo Temple in Korea

These children are driving around helter-skelter in motorized cars in Gyeonju, South Korea.

Korean children in Gyeongju, South Korea, playing in motorized cars
Korean children in Gyeongju, South Korea, playing in motorized cars

And these children are playing at Sports Day at Chojeon Elementary School in Chojeon, South Korea.

children playing at a sports day at Chojeon Elementary School, Chojeon, South Korea
children playing at a sports day at Chojeon Elementary School, Chojeon, South Korea

These Omani girls are having fun playing with mud on Jebel Akhdar, Oman.

Omani girls playing in the mud on Jebel Akhdar, Oman
Omani girls playing in the mud on Jebel Akhdar, Oman

And in Ethiopia, during a slow time at the Bishangari Lodge in Lake Langano, the staff plays a game of checkers using bottle caps to pass the time.

Lake Langano, Ethiopia
Lake Langano, Ethiopia
checkers with bottle caps
checkers with bottle caps

Finally, part of play is just relaxing while on holiday in exotic places with a glass of wine.  This is me, a self-portrait, having a glass of wine on the rooftop of the Acropolis View Hotel, with, guess what (?), the Acropolis behind me. 🙂

me, at "play," atop the Acropolis View Hotel in Athens :-)
me, at “play,” atop the Acropolis View Hotel in Athens 🙂

travel theme: silhouette

Friday, August 24:  Ailsa’s Travel Theme for this week is Silhouette.  She writes: It fascinates me how a silhouette; a two-dimensional outline of a person or object, can suggest a story just as clearly as if you could see the scene in its entirety. Perhaps it makes our imagination work overtime, trying to fill in the details we cannot see. I would love to see your interpretation of this theme, so if you would like to join in, create your own post, title it Travel Theme: Silhouette and put a link to Ailsa’s page (Where’s my backpack? Silhouette) in your post so others can find it easily.

Here’s my first silhouette, seen while driving home from Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland back home to northern Virginia.

a silhouette of trees against a cloudy sky in western Maryland

At a temple in Kyoto, Japan.

a silhouette at a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan

In Jordan, at Umm Qais.

the ruins at Umm Qais in the north of Jordan

And in Jordan, at Ajloun Castle.

silhouette at Ajloun Castle in Jordan

travel theme: sunset

Friday, August 17:  Ailsa of Where’s my backpack? has created a travel theme challenge for this week:  Sunset.  She writes: Now I know there have been previous photo challenges on sunsets, but I also believe it is a universal truth that we cannot resist reaching for our cameras as the sun puts on its goodnight performance. You’ve probably got a myriad of dazzling sunset shots just waiting to be put online, so if you would like to join in, create your own post titled Travel theme: Sunset.

Here are two sunsets from Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Sunset at Angkor Wat
Looking across the moat away from Angkor Wat
And finally, sunset on Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland