Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Alina


Bob's niece Marissa and four-year-old grand niece Alina visited us this past weekend.  We went to Washington, D.C. to visit the National Air and Space Museum and the Washington National Cathedral (and of course the Bishop's Garden!).  We also went paddle boating on the Tidal Basin and rode the Carousel on the National Mall.  We were very lucky, the weather was perfect.



Alina is a little girl after my own heart: she LOVES flowers.  Of all the fun activities she did in D.C., her favorite was visiting the Bishop's Garden at the National Cathedral.


It was not easy to get her to leave the Garden.  She meandered down every path several times.



She stopped and admired all the flowers (can you image how long that took?).


Her favorite spot in the Bishop's Garden was the koi pond.  She really wanted to "pet" the black and white one.


Alina's love for flowers was most apparent when she visited my garden.  Although it paled in comparison to the Bishop's Garden, Alina had the same look of awe in her eyes as she did when she was in the Bishop's Garden.  I took Alina around my garden to show her my flowers, all the while wishing I had more pink flowers, her favorite color.  To my surprise, she was totally into all of my flowers.  She wanted to know their names and would gently touch each flower and said "that's very pretty."  I asked if she wanted to pick some flowers and make an arrangement for her room.  Her almond shaped brown eyes widened as she gave me a big smile and gently nodded her head.  She stood silently next to me, basking in the bright sunshine, and surveyed my garden.  All of a sudden, her little happy sparkling sneakers skipped across my lawn to my pink azalea bush.  I knew at that point that Alina was totally engaged.



This azalea bush did exceptionally well this year.  The dazzling clusters of pink blossoms were shining in the bright sunshine.  Good Choice, Alina! We cut a few branches.













Then she spotted the grape hyacinths (Muscari), "how about that purple blue one?"

Purple blue?  Most children might have chosen either purple or blue to describe the hyacinths. But not Alina; and she was right, these hyacinths were deep blue tinged with purple.  This girl has a sharp sense of color!   We cut a few stems.









"I like that white one" pointing to the bridal wreath spiraea (Spiraea prunifolia).

This is a showstopper every spring without fail.  At this point, I was thinking, this child has discerning taste!  With their arching branches loaded with clusters of pure white flowers, these are elegant additions to any arrangement.



                               



"OOO, that lavender one is very pretty."

Indeed!  The columbine (Aquilegia) is more lavender than it's either blue or purple!  I was impressed!  We cut a few stems.


We also cut a few lilac branches and a few stems of yellow rocket (Barbarea vulgaris).  






All of a sudden, Alina ran away from me.  I heard her say "let's get that magenta flower."  MAGENTA?  She stopped at my magenta azalea and waited for me.

After cutting a few branches of the magenta azalea, I asked Alina, "Do you have enough?" "Ya, let's go put them in water," she answered.  






As soon as we got in the kitchen, she pulled a step stool and positioned herself at the kitchen island waiting for her "water."  I gave her a blue plastic cup full of water.  Without waiting another moment, Alina went to work to create her arrangement.




All of a sudden, she looked up at me and said "let's get that pink heart flower.  I want to put it here," pointing to a little gap in her arrangement.  Now, this was the girl who knew what she wanted and saved the best for last!  When I first pointed out to Alina my old fashioned pink bleeding heart flowers (Dicentra spectabilis), she told me "that's very pretty.  I like it a lot."  I have to admit, as we went inside I was happy that Alina did not ask to pick the bleeding heart flowers even though we passed right by them on our way in.  They had just bloomed, and I find them to be unusual and very pretty.  Alas, no such luck!  Alina was just saving the best for last.



AND VOILA!
A MASTERPIECE


What a beautiful arrangement, Alina!



I am linking with

Image-in-ing
Our World Tuesday




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Happy Easter


Sending you warm wishes for Easter from the
Washington National Cathedral

Being only two hours southwest of Washington, D.C., our farm is an easy drive to impressive and beautiful sites in D.C.  In light of the fact that this is Holy Week, I will take you to the Washington National Cathedral.  



The Cathedral is dedicated to serving people of all faiths and is a spiritual sanctuary for the whole nation.  It has been the site of important national and international celebrations, dedications, and funerals.  For example, a service was dedicated in 1898 to the Peace Cross to mark the end of the Spanish-American War; a memorial service for King George VI was held in 1952; the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached his last sermon in 1968; a service was held in 1979 to pray for the Iranian hostages and then in 1981 to celebrate their release; in 1995, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu of Capetown celebrated the birth of democracy in South Africa; in 2001, President George W. Bush and evangelist Billy Graham lead an interfaith service following the 9/11 terrorist attacks; in 2003, a memorial service for the members of the Space Shuttle Columbia was held; and His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama spoke in 2003.  The Cathedral has also been the location for funeral and memorial services for nearly all of the U.S. presidents since 1893. 



ARCHITECHTURE

The Cathedral, a majestic and richly decorated Gothic style church, was completed in 1990 after two centuries of construction.  It soars over Washington, D.C, on a meticulously landscaped 59-acre plot of land in Northwest Washington.





In addition to these wonderful buildings (which are but a small fraction of all the buildings on the Cathedral Close), you will find beautiful works of art inside the Cathedral.  I would do injustice to the beauty inside the Cathedral if I attempted to share a few photos with you here.  Please make a special trip to the Cathedral if you come to visit Washington, D.C.  So, instead of taking you inside the Cathedral, I will take you to my favorite spot outside the Cathedral: the Bishop Garden.


The Bishop's Garden

The Cathedral is beautifully landscaped.  The Cathedral grounds are cared for by a dedicated group of volunteers.  My favorite area is the Bishop's Garden.  The photos below were taken in June 2015.  These photos cannot capture how peaceful and quiet the garden is.  When I was there, although there were quite a number of people there visiting, the garden was very quiet.  Somehow, everyone took it upon themselves to talk quietly; even children did not run around or climb the stone walls.

Bishop's Garden - main entrance 

Bishop's Garden - one side entrance




A visitor relaxing in the sun









My favorite spot to linger is right outside the Bishop's Garden.  The photos below were taken in April 2015.

The Prodigal Son Statute

This very old weeping cherry is breath-taking.




Although the Cathedral is a Christian church, being the nation's Cathedral, all are welcome.  The Cathedral is a wonderful place to reflect.  If you have a chance to visit Washington, D.C., make sure you save some time to visit the Cathedral.  The photos I have posted are a minute fraction of the magnificent beauty found in this Cathedral as well as the surrounding buildings and gardens. I hope you will have a chance to visit it one day. 


Happy Easter
                             


I am linking with 
Image-in-ing,  Our World Tuesday 




FUN FACTS AND NUMBERS ABOUT THE CATHEDRAL 


- There is a sculpture of Darth Vader on the Cathedral.  (This link https://cathedral.org/what-to-see/exterior/vader/ will take you there.)

- The Cathedral's central tower is the only place in North America to house both peal and carillon bells.

- The Cathedral labyrinth is a medieval design based on the one in the floor of the nave at Chartres Cathedral in France.

- The Cathedral is home to one of the few old growth forests still standing in the nation's capital, Olmsted Woods, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.

- The Cathedral was completed 83 years to the day after it was begun (September 29, 1907-September 29, 1990).

- The first tract of land for the Cathedral site (30 acres) was purchased in 1898 for $245,000.  Two other parcels of land were purchased later, bringing the total cost to $291,427 and the total area to 57 acres.

- The Cathedral is the sixth largest cathedral in the world and the second largest in the United States.

- $65 million: how much it cost to build the Cathedral.

- $0: the amount the Cathedral receives from the federal government or national Episcopal Church.

- 150,000 tons: the total weight of the Cathedral.

- 300 pounds: the weight of an average piece of stone at the Cathedral.

- 5.5 tons: the weight of the Moses boss stone above the west balcony, the heaviest in the Cathedral.

- 762: the number of boss stones in the Cathedral, which function as structural key stones.

- 288: the number of angels atop the two west towers.

- 26 feet: the diameter of the Cathedral's largest stained glass window, the north rose.

- 676 feet: the height of the central tower above sea level, making its top the highest point in the District of Columbia.

- 24,000 pounds: the weight of the largest of the 53 carillon bells, measuring eight feet, eight inches in diameter.

- 112: the number of gargoyles on the Cathedral.

- 215: the number of stained glass windows in the Cathedral.

- 10,500+: the number of pieces of glass it took to construct the west rose window.

- 234 feet: the height of the two west towers.

- 301 feet: the height of the central Gloria in Excelis Deo tower.

- 1,500+: the number of needlepoint pieces in the Cathedral.

- 10,650: the number of pipes in the Great Organ.

- 220+: the number of people interred in the Cathedral, including President Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller.

- 418,000: the number of visitors and worshippers come to the Cathedral each year.




Sunday, January 15, 2017

Gifting Warmth and Sunshine


Gift baskets are fun to assemble.  I'm going to share with you a basket I made one cold, but sunny, day.  I wanted to bring some warmth into our house so I thought a basket of fruits and flowers that originated from a warm climate would do the trick (at least visually). 



For this basket, I used six miniature chrysanthemums (about as tall as my iPhone). 


Three pinks and three yellows.  


Chrysanthemums were first cultivated in China and appeared in Chinese literature as early as the 15th Century B.C.  This flower appears in many poems and paintings and symbolizes grace and nobility in ancient Chinese literature. Today, the chrysanthemum is a symbol of happiness and good luck.  This flower has been used in tea and cooking for centuries.  It also has medicinal properties.  The Chinese people celebrate the Double Ninth (Chongyang) Festival on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month (which usually falls in October in the Gregorian calendar).  The Double Ninth Festival occurs when chrysanthemum blooms.  Although the Double Ninth Festival originated as a day to drive away danger, over time it became a day of celebration. During this festival, people drink chrysanthemum tea and wine and enjoy other activities celebrating the chrysanthemum flower, such as reading poetry about chrysanthemums and admiring the blooms.




In addition to the flowers, I also added three guava, three persimmons, and three pomegranates.  These fruits are not your standard fruits that you can easily get from most chain grocery stores, but it's worth hunting for them because they are exotic and delicious and they are considered "super fruits" when it comes to health benefits.


Guava -- the "queen of fruits" 

Persimmons -- the "fruits of the gods"

Pomegranate -- the "jewel of the winter"







Although combining fruits and flowers produces fantastic arrangements, this technique often comes at a cost. 






Most fruits emit a colorless gaseous plant hormone called ethylene that greatly shortens the life of fresh cut as well as potted flowers.  Although all three of my fruits release ethylene, the pomegranate emits only a very small amount of this gas.

However, certain flowers are not sensitive to ethylene and luckily chrysanthemums are one of them.  So, we are all good!  I can tuck little pots of these flowers everywhere in my basket!



And VOILA!  
A cheerful little basket
that is loaded with goodness.





Happy Lunar New Year
[it's the year of the rooster]





Happy Rooster at Cedarmere in the Blue Ridge

BTW: The Lunar New Year will be on January 28 this year.  The Lunar New Year is a very important national holiday in many Asian countries, such as China, Korea, Vietnam, and Singapore.  The common theme celebrated during the Lunar New Year is family reunion.  According to the Chinese zodiac, this coming new year is the year of the rooster. 

The Chinese zodiac is based on a twelve-year-cycle, each year is represented by an animal sign.  The twelve animals are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.  To find out what your zodiac animal sign is, here is one site to visit chinesezodiac.com/calculator.php.     Have Fun