weekly photo challenge: joy {christmas day}

Wednesday, December 25:  Having been away from home for the last three Christmases, it was pure joy to be home this year to celebrate with my family.  We woke up at a leisurely pace, we had coffee, we sat beside the tree listening to Christmas carols and waited for the boys to wake up.  When they did, we opened gifts.  It was a simple Christmas, much more so than in the past, and I liked it that way.

Christmas morning in our house
Christmas morning in our house

I got new pajamas, a workout shirt, some snow boots and a bunch of books, mainly by my new favorite writer, Ann Patchett.  Mike got biking gear and clothes, Alex got a new computer, and Adam got some books and his upcoming trip to Australia (which is costing us a fortune).

Alex & Adam
Alex & Adam

After taking a long hot bath, I began preparations for the traditional Christmas brunch that I made for 20 years before I went away to Korea and Oman.  We don’t make a Christmas dinner because there is no room to eat anything after this brunch.  I know we should think of changing the menu sometime as it’s not at all heart friendly.  The problem is that we all like it so much.  I made a big Southern Grits casserole.  Lots of butter, a pound of cheese, four eggs: these are all involved.  Next I made a Breakfast Frittata that includes red pepper, a dozen eggs, milk, scallions, tarragon, goat cheese and red potatoes.  As always, on Christmas Eve, I assembled Chicken and Apple Sausage Patties, made from ground chicken, Granny Smith apples, onion and fresh sage.  Mike sauteed them this morning while I made the Cranberry Maple Compote to go on the pancakes he also made.  All of this was accompanied by mimosas and a fruit salad featuring star fruit made by my sister-in-law, Barbara.  My mother-in-law also joined us, as always.

After eating this huge feast, all we really felt like doing was napping.  Everyone spread out all around the house, finding a quiet and comfortable place, and caught a peaceful bit of slumber.

Finally, after everyone woke up, we played a game of Bananagrams (I lost), then Oodles (I lost), and then Scattergories (I also lost!).  I never win these kinds of games, but it’s fun to try!

It wasn’t a terribly exciting Christmas.  There were no big crowds, and there wasn’t a lot of rambunctious behavior, but it was enjoyable just the same.  Truly, it was a joy to be back home for the holidays.

This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge of JOY.

weekly photo challenge: one

Sunday, December 22:  The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is One.  Writes Michelle of WordPress: This week, we want to see photos that focus on one thing. Maybe you’ve got a stark photo of a single tree silhouetted against the setting sun, or a lone sandpiper wandering the beach as waves crash. Perhaps you’ve caught your mother sitting by herself in a moment of quiet contemplation. Maybe you saw a basket of wriggling puppies, and got a photo with a single fuzzy face in focus.

I loved the look of this one red lionfish at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  According to National Geographic, if attacked, a lionfish delivers a potent venom via its needle-like dorsal fins. Its sting is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.

Red Lionfish, properly known as Pterois volitans
Red Lionfish, properly known as Pterois volitans

Lionfish, also called turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish, are native to the reefs and rocky crevices of the Indo-Pacific, although they’ve found their way to warm ocean habitats worldwide (National Geographic: Lionfish).

weekly photo challenge: unexpected

Tuesday, November 26:  The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is Unexpected. Says Cheri Lucas: The world is an interesting place: we stumble upon unexpected things each day, like signs that are unintentionally amusing, bizarre sculptures, or even strange evidence of a miniature world on the side of a building.

So, your photo challenge this week is to capture something unexpected. You can also interpret the theme in other ways: a street scene or landscape that just doesn’t look quite right, an impromptu portrait of a loved one, or any other image that reveals a sense of surprise.

In my travels over the last three years, I’ve run across too many unexpected things to count, but I thought I’d show some of the surprising people I encountered along my journey.

I found this white-haired monk at Donghae Yonggung-Sa, a temple in Busan, South Korea.  I thought it was funny that we both had the same color of hair (an april jaunt to busan), especially in Korea, land of the black-haired people. 🙂

a white haired monk at  Donghae Yonggung-Sa in Busan, South Korea
a white-haired monk at Donghae Yonggung-Sa in Busan, South Korea

I unexpectedly met this famous Nepali actor shooting a movie scene in Pokhara, Nepal (pokhaha: a stroll around phewa tal & seeking shelter (& warmth) at moondance).  He says he plays a fighter in the movie, Kale, that should be released in January 2014. His name is Sagar Ansari and he has been in other movies, including Kalapani, which he tells me I can buy in a DVD shop.  He asks me if I think he’s handsome and I just laugh, thinking to myself that this is one scary-looking guy. 🙂

Nepali actor Sagar Ansari
Nepali actor Sagar Ansari

I also had an unexpected encounter at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Muscat, Oman with Joanna Lumley, who plays Patsy Stone on Absolutely Fabulous (absolutely fabulous: a surprise encounter with patsy stone 🙂).

Neziha, Joanna Lumley and me in Muscat, Oman
Neziha, Joanna Lumley and me in Muscat, Oman

And finally, one day when I was walking through Nizwa Souq, not far from my house in Oman, I came upon this unexpected group of old Omani men and their guns.

Omani men and their guns at Nizwa souq
Omani men and their guns at Nizwa souq

And I bet this vendor at Nizwa souq didn’t expect me to catch him napping on the job.

a sleeping Omani vendor at Nizwa souq
a sleeping Omani vendor at Nizwa souq

I certainly never expected to encounter this group of fishermen on the beach at Al Musaanah in Oman.

sardine fishermen at Al Musaanah Beach in Oman
sardine fishermen at Al Musaanah Beach in Oman
Fisherman at Al Musaanah
Fisherman at Al Musaanah

“If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.”   ~ Heraclitus

Enhanced by Zemanta

weekly photo challenge: layers

Sunday, November 17:  The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is layers: Layers can reveal, conceal, and make something more complex. They can vary in size, texture, color, or functionality. Each layer can have its own story, meaning, or purpose. They can overlap, blend, or be distinctly separate. A layer doesn’t have to be a part of a single object but can even be a slice of a multifaceted image or scene.

Here are some layers I found this weekend on the Difficult Run stream feeder trails and the Fairfax Cross County Trail.  The world is looking browner these days; it won’t be long before it turns a hundred shades of gray.

layers of groundcover
layers of groundcover: I think it’s pachysandra 🙂
layers of colorful but dying leaves
layers of colorful but dying leaves
layers of brown
layers of brown
layer of a pine cone with layers of forest behind
layer of a pine cone with layers of forest behind
layers of roots
layers of roots
layers of dead leaves
layers of dead leaves
layers of leaves and ferns
layers of leaves and ferns
layers of leaves and rocks
layers of leaves and rocks
layers of dried grasses
layers of dried grasses
layers of moss-covered logs, plants and leaves
layers of moss-covered logs, plants and leaves
layers of leaves
layers of leaves

weekly photo challenge: horizon

Sunday, October 27: The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is Horizon: The space or line where the sky meets the earth. So many places where the sky meets the earth around the world, and millions of interactions between two elements. It can be water, a city skyline, a forest, a wasteland, a desert, a sunset outside your bedroom window. Is there a particular horizon which speaks to you?

Here are the horizons I saw today from the Skyline Drive on the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Shenandoah National Park.  Some horizons are to the west of the ridge, and some are to the east, as the road wanders back and forth from one side of the mountain range to the other.

Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Mountains
Along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park
Along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park horizon
Shenandoah National Park horizon
horizon viewed from Skyline Drive
horizon viewed from Skyline Drive
horizon of fall colors
horizon of fall colors
Horizon from the Blue Ridge Mountains
Horizon from the Blue Ridge Mountains
Horizon from the Blue Ridge Mountains
Horizon from the Blue Ridge Mountains

weekly photo challenge: infinite

Tuesday, October 15:  The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for this week is Infinite.  Writes Ben Huberman: We continue to encounter these moments of wonder as adults, too, when the infinite catches us by surprise. We stumble upon it in things both big and small: on the beach, staring into the horizon; in the depth of a loved one’s eyes; or even drowning in the emptiness of a Berlin subway car.

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO THAT SHOWS US A GLIMPSE OF THE INFINITE.

Infinity can produce contrasting effects on (and in) us: it might make us feel dwarfed or amplified, afraid or empowered. It might take the form of a wide panorama or a zoomed-in fraction of an object. A starry sky? A sea of commuters on a train platform? Rows of corn in a field? No pun intended, but the possibilities really are endless.

Infinite leaves on the Fairfax Cross County Trail
Infinite leaves on the Fairfax Cross County Trail
Infinite leaves and trees
Infinite leaves and trees
Infinite leaves
Infinite leaves
Infinite Torii gates in Kyoto, Japan
Infinite Torii gates in Kyoto, Japan
Infinite torii gates in Kyoto
Infinite torii gates in Kyoto
Infinite lotus blossoms at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Infinite lotus blossoms at the Summer Palace in Beijing
infinite arches in Cordoba's Mezquita
infinite arches in Cordoba’s Mezquita
Boseong Tea Plantations in South Korea
Boseong Tea Plantations in South Korea
Suncheon Ecological Bay in South Korea
Suncheon Ecological Bay in South Korea