May 31, 2006

These hydrangea bushes are in the Bethesda, MD, garden of friends, and they’re just a small part of the wonderful expanse of blooming bushes that my friends cultivate. For bright blue blossoms, the soil must be kept acidic.

And it isn’t even August

May 30, 2006
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In true Washington fashion, we went from spring to summer almost overnight. It was 90 deg. F/32 deg. C today—and the air conditioning wasn’t working (or maybe hasn’t been switched on) in the building where I work. If it’s equally hot tomorrow, at least I can cool off by looking at this photograph!

David and Goliath

May 29, 2006
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Honest-to-goodness hardware stores aren’t that easy to find around here. Many have been put out of business by the chains of huge stores like Home Depot and Lowes that carry more inventory at lower prices—but where you have to roam around before you can find someone (if you’re lucky) to help you and when you do, the person most likely can’t answer your questions. I’d rather pay a bit more in a shop like this one, where the owners are always on hand and take an interest in their customers, and where I can often find just the item I need when the mega-stores don’t carry it.

If you go out in the woods today

May 28, 2006
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You’re sure of a big surprise, but it won’t be a bunch of teddy bears having a picnic. Wander the woodland trails at Adkins Arboretum in Ridgely, MD, between June and August, and every so often you’ll come upon an unexpected piece of sculpture. It’s the Arboretum’s 2006 Outdoor Sculpture Invitational entitled Artists in Dialogue with Landscape. Some of the artists were installing their works today. I found this piece—a mature woman’s head on a naked child’s body—very disturbing.

The Surgeon General warns …

May 27, 2006
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Delicious? Hardly the adjective I would have applied to sucking carcinogens into your lungs. Much more appropriate for a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Krispy Kreme

May 25, 2006
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The Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop on Richmond Highway in Alexandria is a landmark. Stand at the side of the building and look through the window into the bakery, and you can watch the legions of doughnuts marching along the conveyer belts from one process to the next, finally flipping over and passing through a curtain of white frosting. Even if you’re nowhere near a Krispy Kreme store, you can still see the process here. Choose the link that says “Our Doughnut Theater.”

The time to visit Krispy Kreme is when the “Hot” sign outside is lit. That tells you freshly baked, warm doughnuts are coming out of the bakery into the shop. They are terrible for you, nothing but sugar and fat—and they are irresistible!

I should add that, alas, it doesn’t look like this any longer. I took this photograph around 15 or 20 years ago, and sometime fairly recently, the old building was pulled down and a new, improved (and featureless) KK coffee and doughnut shop has gone up in its place. The doughnuts are still wonderful, though.

Roadside memorial

May 24, 2006

These little roadside memorials to victims of traffic accidents are usually transitory. The flags and flowers and other items blow away or are carried off by animals; what doesn’t disappear gets weatherbeaten, and eventually road-cleaning crews remove the remains. This one—which is on my drive home—is different. Since I first noticed it a couple of years ago, it has become more elaborate, and when I got out of my car to look at it yesterday, I could see that it is tended regularly. The silk flowers are fresh, two little ceramic dogs nestle among the flowers, and at either end is a small solar-powered lantern. I find it heartening that these things are not stolen.