Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Surprising View

This shot was taken from the top deck of the parking garage of one of the two metro stations near our home (I was headed into D.C. for more interviews). There's nothing at all remarkable about the view; it just always astounds me that there is so much actual countryside that you can see in one direction, and a huge city and sprawling suburbs that you see in the other.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Killing Time on a Tuesday

So what do I do with my time on a Tuesday while I'm not in the workforce? I spend the morning sending out dozens of resumes, and the afternoon at the movies (Letters from Iwo Jima -- highly recommended). I'm disappointed in the photo -- it's too blurry, and I can't get my software to sharpen it at all. Sort of matches the blurred phase in my life?? Maybe my camera is trying to tell me something (besides, "Hey, Matt! Why don't you read the instruction manual so you know how to use me?").

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Calm at the Center of the Storm

No matter how much stress is going on around them, cats never seem to care; they just go on about their business as if there's nothing out of the ordinary. For those that visit my two blogs on a regular basis, you know everything that's been going on in my life; as you can see above, Smokey -- one of our two cats, who has been with us since the day my wife and I got back from our honeymoon over 10 years ago -- is taking it all in stride. She simply jumped up on the footrest of our recliner and settled down for "The Apprentice."

Another camera phone shot fixed up with Corel photo software, and edged with a chalk border.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

So What Did I Do Today?

I took a cue from Julie and decided I would snap some images showing what a day in my life -- in this case, a Saturday -- might be like. It started with a quick view of all of the cars in the driveway -- a sure sign that family is in town and the baby is almost here.

It was then off to take Little Miss to her weekly ballet class. The more she does it, the more excited she gets -- and here, she's making a mad dash for the steps leading up to the door of the studio.

And here is she afterwards; rough morning!

Her nap was interrupted when we met up with her mother and the in-laws at a new restaurant we had discovered, Sweetwater Tavern. It's three minutes from our house, and we've never eaten there. The exterior looks a bit like the Alamo, and the interior has a really modern, southwestern feel to it -- high, beamed ceilings, and a funky mix of colors.

Of course, the drinks were flowing during lunch. This martini belonged to someone at the table, but I promised that when I posted this I wouldn't say to WHOM it belonged.

My wife and I then went and did some last-minute shopping for the baby's room; we got a new changing table and this little onesie that I just couldn't pass up.

Last stop of the day was to pick up some new material for the reading list, and a warm cup of cafe mocha (skim, decaf, and although I normally don't get whip, my wife made sure they piled it on!).

Friday, January 26, 2007

For All of the Harry Potter Fans Out There.....

I was out with my father-in-law today running some errands (and, of course, I didn't have my camera with me), and at one traffic light we pulled in behind the car above. The first thing I noticed was the Kerry-Edwards sticker -- and then I looked to the right and saw the "Republicans for Voldemort" sticker. I had to try and get a quick camera phone shot; hence the poor quality.

I don't know what's more amusing: the fact that characters from Harry Potter have crept into every facet of our life, including politics, or the fact that members of my party are now supporting evil wizards??

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's Pretty No Matter What Time of Day

Even when we're not getting a snowstorm, we're still getting snow -- much to my delight. This is a bush that sits in our backyard and has always had this funny lean -- usually in the direction of the sun, but partly because I think I did a hatchet job when I thinned it ouot earlier this year. It's still a healthy shrub; it's just lost it's springtime coat.

I took this picture just after we had gotten a light dusting early this evening; it was taken on the standard automatic setting, but without a flash. I wanted to see what I could capture; the pictures on the night-time setting didn't work out as well. The way we're getting flurries lately, though, I should have plenty of chances to try!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Less Than Two Weeks...

... and we'll be back in the rocker, tending to the newest tennant of the crib!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

There's Always Green to Be Found

I never cease to be amazed at the amount of green you can still find in your yard, even in the middle of winter. The ivy certainly hasn't let up; in fact, it's thriving!

Monday, January 22, 2007

You Know It's Cold When.....

In the little office building behind our house, we have a little refrigerator that we keep stocked with soft drinks, water (and the occasional adult beverage) so that we won't have to keep running back and forth to the house when we're working (or escaping). It does a great job of keeping things very cold, which is great in the summer.

Unfortunately, when it turned winter, I forgot to adjust the temperature settings, and at night everything gets doubly cold. I opened up the refrigerator to grab a Dr. Pepper -- and discovered that they had gotten so cold that a few of them had exploded. In between wipes of the spilled soft drinks, I was chucking cans out into the snow; here are two of the victims (or is it culprits??). I didn't realize soft drinks could even explode -- even after 37 years, I'm still learning new things every day!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Worst Place to Be When It's Snowing

Winter is Finally Here!

I left Lynchburg extremely early this morning in order to beat the anticipated winter storm to Northern Virginia. It just started snowing -- our first real sign of winter, aside from the puffed up cardinal of a few days ago. The temperature is so low that it's already sticking to everything -- including my little outdoor office. With the forecast calling for several inches, I should have some much whiter pictures tomorrow; for today, I'm just excited that winter hasn't passed us by!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Day 2 of My Trip Home

Today, on the second day of my relaxation and research trip back to Lynchburg, I went to the Old City Cemetery, which is one of the most peaceful -- and one of my favorite -- places in the entire city. It's a very quiet area with a great deal of beauty, both natural and man-made (with the architecture of the 19th- and early 20th-century gravestones). The picture above is of the gravesite of one of Lynchburg's famous "madams" from nearly a century ago; her "business" was actually operated in a house not far from the cemetery gates. I really don't know what's worse: the fact that her grave is one of the first you see when you come into the grounds, or the fact that someone continues to immortalize her with the black cloth on the stone and the bed (complete with a fresh quilt and "R.I.P." on the headboard) right outside the fence?

Another interesting view that I found -- I was pressed for time, so I didn't have quite enough time to experiment with black and white photography, shading, etc. There are enough places there, though, that I can try some great things the next time I get back down that way.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Day 1 of My Trip Home

I went home today to begin researching my anticipated series of articles on the Civil Rights movement in my hometown, and one of my first stops was to the city's Legacy Museum of African-American history. It sits on a hill on the edge of the downtown area, and I took this picture looking back into the city. It's amazing to consider the amount of history and the different types of architecture jammed into this one little view -- a view which, I might add, I thought I had captured without so much "tilt" to the photo.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

All Puffed Up

I found this young fellow posted outside my home office today, and I noticed that he sat there for quite some time -- seeming very content to be puffed up and stationary in the cold, winter weather. The picture doesn't really do justice to the brilliant shade of red of his feathers -- but it was enough of a reminder to me that I got off track from the purpose of this blog by not posting yesterday. Does that now make this Blog 366 so that I can make up for the missed day?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Contrast of Winter

(Yes, a second photoblog post in one day.) What a contrast a few hours makes; winter had finally arrived in Northern Virginia after some continuing unseasonably warm weather (in the 60s yesterday), and I took the picture above in mid-afternoon. After a few hours of working in my home office, however, I stepped outside to find this second glimpse of winter -- with a tad more brighteness in it.....

Preserving Another Bit of History

It seems like whenever something really interesting shows up that would make a great photograph, I don't have my camera with me and I have to resort to using my cell phone (as I did in this case). I was in D.C. for a job interview this morning, and the meeting was in an office directly across the street from the old Navy hospital, one of the most historic buildings in southeast Washington. Not having seen it before, I thought it was worth a picture, particularly since it's one of those instances where so much care is being put into restoring it to its original glory.

But while the building is pretty, the photo isn't worth any discussion on shading, shutter speed, lighting, etc. Only so much to do with a Motorola camera phone!!

Monday, January 15, 2007

On the Occasion of Dr. King's Birth

This is again not a new picture, but it's one I felt was quite appropriate to post on Dr. King's birthday. Congressman John Lewis was deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement, participated in the "Freedom Rides" of the 1960s, was at the head of the line on the march across the Pettus Bridge in Selma -- and is a man for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration. Politically, we come from different sides of the aisle, but in terms of his activism there is no finer individual. (This picture was taken just after he had been a guest on my former boss' television show; not one of my better hair days!)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Starting on a Long-Overdue Project

This pen and the blank pages sitting on my desk right now are representative of a step I'm about to take. For years, I've been saying I'm going to write a book, but I've never followed through on that promise. Last year, after talking to several folks, I decided I was going to write a history of the Civil Rights Movement in my hometown (which was remarkably involved in that struggle; it was the home of Harlem Renaissance poet Anne Spencer, who was friends with -- and hosted in her home -- such figures as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and W.E.B. DuBois, and it was also one of the stops on the famous Freedom Rides of 1961).

Today, after lagging on that for a while, I started the project. The research will be long, and finding people who were involved and getting them to agree to be interviewed will take even longer, but it should be a rewarding project. And I hope that -- when it's finished -- it's a worthwhile addition to the history of my hometown.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Back Outdoors

There were several different photo opportunities today -- the first being my daughter's departure for ballet class this morning. The great thing about her is that she is constantly doing an inventory of her possessions to make sure she has everything she'll need; today it was her dog (who has been her faithful companion since birth) and her Little Mermaid backpack.

Later this afternoon, since the rain had stopped for a while and it was reasonably warm, we got her outdoors to give her tricycle a go. She's had it for a while, but it wasn't until recently that she was able to reach the pedals (even with the seat cranked all the way down). Unfortunately, riding it wasn't an option after I put her helmet on her, and she wanted to spend more time modeling the hat than riding the trike.

Of course, while all of this was going on, a neighbor of ours in Washington decided to come over and take a look at what was going on.....

Friday, January 12, 2007


With my second daughter on the way in just a few short weeks (delivery scheduled for February 6), I've been thinking about how fast my first ten years of marriage have passed, and about how quickly my first daughter has grown up. I then started thinking about how quickly it seems I've gotten to my current age -- and that led to thinking about the generations of my family that have gone on before me.

This is a picture of one set of paternal great-grandparents; in fact, it is their wedding photo, taken exactly 90 years before my own wedding. I don't know how old they were in this picture, but I look at them and wonder what they were thinking at that moment: what they were excited about, what they were looking forward to, their goals, and even what they might have even been afraid of. And part of me wonders what they would think of what their family has gone on to do in the 100 years since this picture was taken.....

Thursday, January 11, 2007

It's Like giving Up a Member of the Family

Getting rid of books is, to me, the same as giving up one of your children -- I just can't do it. However, I finally decided that it would be healthy for me (and would make my wife happy) to get rid of the ones that have been setting on the shelves for years without ever being read. I assume some of you know the story: you read a great review of a book, or see one that looks interesting on the shelf at the bookstore, and before you know it, it's in your house.

I have a lot of those, and I finally decided that it was time for them to go (which serves two functions: shelf space is freed up for other things, and it gives me a project to keep me a little bit busy). They're not being thrown to the curb, though; I'm taking them to an independent bookseller not far from the house. Hopefully, they will all end up in a good home. This picture is just a small sample of the many volumes that have been stacked or boxed up and are ready to be shipped out.....

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Taking Myself to a Happy Place

These are not new pictures -- in fact, they were taken quite a while back. However, there's a very good reason that I "cheated" with this today. In the midst of all the stress and uncertainty in my life, I've been thinking back to the place my family lived for three years when I was early on in the teenage process -- and where I still think I was the happiest I've ever been (current situation with wife and daughter notwithstanding). It was in an old farmhouse on property owned by some friends of our family -- a place where we could roam over and through 200 acres of fields and forest, where we could be isolated from the chaos of everyday life, and a place that generated some of my fondest memories.

I've been thinking a lot about that place lately -- wishing that I could still escape back there to recharge, and wishing that mydaughters might one day have a chance to know what it's like to live in the country while there is still "country" left in which to live. Part of me wishes I hadn't grown up and that I still lived in that house -- but on the flip side, part of me is still there, and it's still in me. I still have dreams about the house, and certain pieces of music always trigger memories of that place -- and even though when my sister and I went for a visit a few years back I found the house to be so much smaller, seeing it again made the memories that much bigger.

So while today's post is wordier and uses old photos, it shows where my mind and heart have been as I deal with the changes in my life.....

Tuesday, January 9, 2007


I was trying to decide what photo to post today, and happened to glance at the table next to my computer.

This is what I saw.

In many ways, this is symbolic of how I feel my life is right now: chaotic. I'm in the middle of a job hunt, have been off my last job for three weeks now (week one was relaxing, week two was so-so, and this week has become annoying), and have a new baby coming exactly one month from today. I know things will be fine, and this is just an interim phase in my life; perhaps in a few days or weeks, I can put up a picture of an uncluttered table and an unchaotic life.

Monday, January 8, 2007

A Birthday Princess

I still can't believe how quickly the time has flown -- my little beauty is already three years old. The costume selection was her idea; she loves all things princess, which is only fitting since she has turned into one herself. Three years old and going on thirty -- next stop: big sisterhood!