Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lyra's First Ski Lesson

Both of our older kids learned to ski starting around the age of four, and both learned at Wisp Resort in Maryland.  Lyra knew she was old enough this year, and has been lobbying for her turn.  With the older kids' activities, things are hectic, but Lyra deserved her time at the slopes (and if all of the kids ski, Dad will have someone to ski with while Mom is at the beach).  

The snow was fantastic.  I usually need to get on a plane to see these conditions.  Wisp has had 44" of powder this week, and 20 FEET of snow this year.  This is in Maryland, not California or Colorado!

Lyra spent most of her day at Willy Wisp (little kids ski school) but I took her to the top for one run.  She has had enough of a taste of skiing to know she wants more next year. Personally I wish we had gone for the whole weekend, not just a day.

Posted via email from Bill's Photos & Miscellany

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pinot Noir - Seresin 2007 Leah Marlborough New Zealand

After returning from Australia recently, I am on a bit of a mission to try Pinot from all the different Pinot growing regions of New Zealand and Australia.  We had this last night with home ground hamburgers, a great pairing of good cheap food and excellent wine.
While obviously a 'new world' Pinot, this is not a fruit bomb.  The tannins were almost a little too tight out of the bottle, but opened up very nicely after a little while in the glass (and the wine in the bottle continued to open up).  This is a Pinot that can definitely stand up to rich food, it would go great with a deeply seared prime steak.  It has the structure to benefit from a few more years in the cellar, though it is wonderful now. 
The nose is worth savoring, earthy floral and fruit notes.  The flavor also has good fruit, but intense - more dried cherry than fresh, almost a dried cherry that had been soaked in a Manhattan. 
Overall a wine to seek out again. 

Posted via email from Bill's Photos & Miscellany

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Alexandria National Cemetery in the Snow

Alexandria National Cemetery is only a few blocks from our house, and diagonally across the street from our local Whole Foods Market. These photos were taken on Sunday February 14th, a few days after our big blizzard. The snow was still almost two feet deep and nearly covered the tombstones. I thought the mostly covered stones looked beautiful just poking above the top of the snow. The white snow and blue sky set off the red, white and blue of the flag in both of these shots.


Alexandria National Cemetery is located near the Old Town section of Alexandria, Va., amid several other community cemeteries. The original cemetery consisted of approximately four acres known as Spring Garden Farm. Most of this land was acquired by the United States in the 1860s, and by November 1870 the cemetery had reached its current size of a little over five acres.

Alexandria was one of the principal campsites for Union soldiers sent to defend Washington, D.C., at the outbreak of the Civil War. These troops, composed primarily of “three-month volunteers,” were unprepared for the demands of war. When they tried to turn the Southern advance at Bull Run, they were decisively defeated and hastily retreated back to Washington. At one point in the war, General Robert E. Lee and his Southern troops rode the outskirts of Alexandria where they were close enough to view the Capital dome. As the tide of the war turned, especially after Gettysburg, the frontlines of the war moved west and away from Washington, D.C. The fortress area at Alexandria, however, continued to serve as a major supply and replacement center throughout the remainder of the war.

Alexandria National Cemetery is one of the original 14 national cemeteries established in 1862. The first burials made in the cemetery were soldiers who died during training or from disease in the numerous hospitals around Alexandria. By 1864, the cemetery was nearly filled to capacity, which eventually led to the planning, development and construction of Arlington National Cemetery.

Posted via email from Bill's Photos & Miscellany

Wintry Wonderland (Backyard)

This photo was taken looking from our back door over our patio early Saturday evening after the big snow on February 6th had stopped.  Our garden table which we use every day in the summer is almost buried. Eva took out a tape measure and said we had 26" of snow, but I think she was not measuring at the deepest spot.   When the wind started to blow a couple of the large bushes in this photo lost branches under the weight of the snow, and as the snow on the roof melted and created icicles our gutter began tearing off and had to be removed before it collapsed on the power lines.  It is now two weeks later, and about half the snow is melted, and we will finally be able to wheel the trash can down the alley to the street for trash pickup on Monday.  

Posted via email from Bill's Photos & Miscellany

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Blizzard of 2010 - The Day After Video (First Try at Vimeo)

This video was taken on Sunday February 7th, the day after our big snow on the 6th.  The day was beautiful, and later in the afternoon I was able to make it to the airport for my flight to Melbourne where it was warm and there was NO snow.  Cathleen and the kids stayed in Alexandria where it snowed again Wednesday and school was closed for the week.  I arrived back home yesterday to three feet of snow, the gutter torn off the house and branches broken off many of the large bushes in our back yard.

This was shot on a Canon 7D and edited in iMovie 9.0.  I am learning iMovie and liking it more, though like all things Mac I wish I could see more of what is happening behind the curtain.  I published on Vimeo because it seems like videos posted there stream in higher quality than YouTube, at least it appears that way.  

I am reworking the video I took during the storm on Saturday, but I can't find (non copyright) music I like.  I am not sure what music goes with a wailing blizzard.  I published a rough draft version to YouTube using Surfin' Safari as the backing track, but received a copyright warning.  I am torn between a perky contrasting surf track or a dark and foreboding piece more evocative of a blizzard.  

Posted via email from Bill's Photos & Miscellany

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Storm rising over Canberra. The flag and pyramid are on top of the parliament building.

Sent from Bill Phelps' iPhone

Posted via email from Bill's Photos & Miscellany

Will the Evil Ice D@mn push the Defenseless Gutter

to its death taking the "mystery wires" along with it?  Or will Kelly Browne, roofer extraordinaire, arrive in time in the morning to safely lower the defenseless gutter to the ground?  The suspense is killing me!!!!  Stay tuned!

Posted via email from Cathleen Phelps

Outdoor Snow Fun and Snow Mess

This second storm didn't dump as much snow as the first, maybe 8 inches or so where we are.  But it was very windy!  Snow drifted everywhere and the plows have piled up snow to heights taller than I am.   The kids have had a lot of fun climbing and sliding on these big piles and building snow forts etc.  I have shoveled a lot of snow and ice but that is OK because I have been going crazy just sitting around in the house.  Here are photos of some of the fun and some of the mess that is our street.  Look how high that snow is piled up compared with Lyra and the blue Prius buried out front!  But our street looks much better than many of the side streets and that is probably because there is a firehouse three blocks away.

Posted via email from Cathleen Phelps

Indoor Snow Fun

Lyra's favorite book right now is "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" and there is a picture of a little boy in a restaurant wearing Groucho Marx glasses, nose and mustache. She thought that was the funniest picture because she could not figure out why a child would have a mustache. So Will spent some of his allowance money to buy Lyra her very own Groucho Marx face. She is so excited! Included also are photos by Lyra. I don't even know how she did some of these.

Posted via email from Cathleen Phelps

Melbourne in the Rain

While everyone at home is suffering another blizzard I am in Melbourne, where it is mid-summer.  I went for a short walk today, in my suit and tie, and ended up waiting out a thunderstorm under a building overhang.  I was across the street from Federation Square, near Victoria Station and was able to take a few photos trying to capture people in the rain.  The weather here (and in Canberra yesterday) has generally been good, but I have seen late afternoon thunderstorms in both cities. 

Posted via email from Bill's Photos & Miscellany

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow. AGAIN.

One would think I would have multiple postings per day given all the time I've had at home with the snow here. But I can't bring myself to write about it! As usual, this sort of thing always starts off as a big adventure. The kids did lots of snowball fights and sledding. We are lucky we can walk to the grocery store and we've taken advantage of that opportunity when there has been food on the shelves to buy. We've made soup, spaghetti sauce, cookies, muffins, strawberry shortcake (in a valiant attempt to pretend it is summer), coffee cake and I am sure there will be more to come! No one is going to fit into their pants at the end of it all.

School has been canceled all week. Will's teacher has been sending regular assignments and Eva's sent some homework yesterday so there is at least some constructive academics the kids can be doing with all this time. I have decluttered some of the kids' shelves in the library and Eva's room. But hiding the bags of stuff from them has not been easy! I think the basement might be next area for cleaning. It is warm down there.

The second snowstorm is going on even as I type this. After determining the wire down in back is not an electrical line (probably a phone line), I went out back to survey the damage. We are definitely going to need some professional assistance cleaning everything up once the snow is gone. And I can see the gutter on the back of the house is beginning to buckle! I hate that there's nothing I can do about it.

Bill left for Australia last Sunday and I hope he can come home this weekend. Cross your fingers!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

First Ride in the Dulles Train

At last the end of the long hated Dulles Airport 'People Movers'. The downside seems to be slower security and a longer walk, but anything beats coming off a long international flight to be jammed sardine like into a cold war vintage 'mobile lounge'.

Sent from Bill Phelps' iPhone

Posted via email from Bill's Photos & Miscellany

Old Town Snowscape

It sure looks more like Mamoth Mountain California, but it's Alexandria, Virginia.

Sent from Bill Phelps' iPhone

Posted via email from Bill's Photos & Miscellany

Friday, February 05, 2010

Old Town Snow - Early Going

This is about 11:00pm Friday evening in front of our house.  The snow actually started today in the morning, but for a long time it was more like flurries and did not stick.  In the early evening that changed, and the snow began to come down harder.  Now it is snowing quite hard, blowing, and getting colder,  The forecast was for 1" - 2" per hour at the peak of the storm.  We are not there yet, but getting closer.  

Posted via email from Bill's Photos & Miscellany

Snow has started and so has the fun!

Snow! Snow!

For all the hoopla, it didn't start snowing until around 10 am and it doesn't seem like there's all that much right now.  These photos were taken around 8 pm.  Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!  It is so quiet out right now.  There are few cars parked on the street this time but maybe that's because ours are in a parking garage. I am NOT digging out another car out of frozen muck again.  I took the kids out to get some fresh air and runaround time since it looks like we'll be cooped up for awhile.  Fun was had by all.  Video to follow after I am done experimenting with iMovie!

Posted via email from Cathleen Phelps

Friends Again!

KC made a complete recovery THANK GOODNESS after what he cost us!  He had nearly 10 days of "quarantine," mostly in our bedroom, to recover.  When we finally let him out into the rest of the house, he acted like he owned the place and Noelle acted completely disgusted to see him.  I didn't know if they'd get to be buddies again but I think they are well on their way.  Gradually they'd hang out together a few feet apart and the other day, I found them curled up together in their favorite chair.  Ah!  Home sweet home!

Posted via email from Cathleen Phelps