Spring is here!

It was touch and go for a while this year, wasn’t it? We weren’t sure when Old Man Winter would go and Spring would finally be here to stay. I think we’re pretty safe now that the first blossoms are starting to come in.

Our apricot tree is in full bloom. The sweet cherry tree is also starting to blossom. No sign yet on the sour cherry trees. And of course the spring flowers are out, as you’ll see in the photos from our garden.

Enjoy!

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Sophie’s here!

Exactly one week ago at this very hour, our daughter Sophie was born into this great big world of ours. We’re so thrilled to have her. She’s a joy to behold and a joy to be with: peaceful and lovely, an enchanting little angel. We were a couple before and now we’re a family. And I’m a daddy, which is a notion that still floors me.

The best part is that Ligia and I both wanted a daughter. To make it even more interesting, we kept the gender a secret from ourselves till the very climactic end, when the midwife set the freshly born Sophie on Ligia’s chest and we learned that our wish had been granted.

Scene from a late winter snow storm

A late winter snowstorm

One thing about winters is they don’t like to leave. Just when you think they’re packing to go back north, they settle back down for at least a few more days. And they’re not shy about it, either. They’ll let loose and bring on a bonafide winter storm.

This particular one happened just about six years ago. The set of pictures you’re about to see were taken in Grosvenor Park and Cabin John Park, MD, and in Tyson’s Corner, McLean, VA.

Things can start out picturesque in the morning…

… and turn into this by evening.

By morning, things are back to picturesque — a beautiful, white winter picturesque.

Sadly, that doesn’t last long. In a day or two, rising temperatures melt it away.

By the way, there are few things that cheer me up better than warm miso soup and veggie sushi after exploring in the snow.

Candied wheatgrass

A freezing spell

Exactly six years ago to the day, there was a freezing spell overnight. It rained over fallen snow, then it quickly froze, encapsulating plants in a sheath of ice. This sort of thing is dangerous for trees, because it makes their branches so heavy that it can split them apart. Back in college, in Vermont, we had a serious freezing spell one winter that broke apart many of the trees on campus; thankfully, this wasn’t that serious. It helped that we were in Virginia at the time, where winters aren’t that rough.

Big news at home!

We’re expecting a baby! :-)

Ligia’s three months into her pregnancy and we’re soon going to be parents! We don’t know and we don’t want to know whether it’s a boy or a girl (I want a girl) until the birth.

Two more tidbits: we’re raw foodists, which means the baby is going to be pretty special, free of the toxins and hormones you find in processed foods, and Ligia’s going to have a natural birth, without drugs. More info about the technique that she’ll be using is found here, it’s called hypnobirthing.

2003 MINI Cooper S, after a winter ice storm

The day our MINI froze over

One winter day, as I finished work late in the evening, about eight o’clock, I went out to the parking lot and saw my MINI looking this:

I hadn’t expected that. It had rained earlier in the day, particularly during lunch and it had continued to drizzle through the afternoon. The evening had brought a freezing spell with it, and all that water had turned to ice, on the ground and in the sky.

What to do? I didn’t have an ice scraper with me, but I remembered someone had given me one of those mini-CDs and I’d put it in the car. After prying the door open, I grabbed it and started scraping off the ice from the windshield. Who knew that thing would do something useful someday? :-)

It took about half an hour to get the windshield clean and another twenty minutes to warm up the car sufficiently so that it melted the rest of the ice from the windows. I loved every minute of it, in spite of the freezing cold. You know why? Because an unexpected adventure is a chance to experience something different, something extra-ordinary and it’s a welcome thing in my book.

What do you think I did after I got the car started? Did I take the highway and head home fast? No, I took the scenic route and enjoyed my MINI’s wonderful winter handling, with the aid of my winter tires, plodding through the freshly fallen snow and sliding over ice patches. I did a few donuts in the empty parking lot, slid the rear through corners, braked just so I could slide on the empty roads… I still smile when I think of that evening. Fun, fun, fun! :-)

A closer aerial view of the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.

At the WWII Memorial in DC

In a couple of days we commemorate 67 years from the official end date of World War II (2 September 1945). To date (thank goodness) it remains the biggest conflict in the history of mankind, involving 100 million military personnel and resulting in 50-70 million fatalities. Let us do all we can to ensure these numbers stay in the past, and that future conflicts are settled peacefully or at most with economic sanctions.

Here are some photos I took at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.