Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter tree

The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination. 
~Terri Guillemets

Our latest imagining is this "Winter Tree" created from a branch we found in the woods.  We hung holly berries cut from the holly trees in our yard, along with crocheted snowflake ornaments and some wool woodland creature ornaments I already had.

The tree sort of makes up for the loss of our dear Christmas tree, and we can change our branch to reflect the changing seasons.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fort Washington and Snow!

Last Monday we went to see Fort Washington, located in Maryland, across the Potomac from our area of Alexandria.  Fun fact:

"Fort Washington is the only permanent fortification built to defend the river approach to the Nation's Capital."

There is even a little lighthouse now used as a channel marker.

It was SO cold and started snowing while we were there.  By the time we got home... 

HUGE flakes were falling.  I mean they were more like snowchunks than snowflakes. 

Friday, January 13, 2012


Ruthie pondering the lovely view- orchard and beyond. 

The only things growing this time of year are herbs- including this beautiful rosemary.  We saw bees pollinating the blooms.  There was also some lovely French lavender, tansy, and thyme.  I really would love to come back in the spring to see everything coming to life!

This is the pond that was used for fish that had been caught down at the river.  They were kept here until time for dinner!

The weather was so mild, these tiny crocuses thought it must be Spring!  Go back to sleep little flowers!  It's not time yet!

 Jefferson's grave.  I loved the story I learned about Jefferson and his childhood friend Dabney.  Jefferson grew up down the hill from Monticello and he and his friend would play on the land and dream that one of them would build a house there when they grew up.  They also planned to be buried there one day, under a huge oak.  The oak is gone now, but the friends were buried in the same plot, a few feet from one another.  (Dabney actually married Jefferson's sister, thereby becoming family.)

"C'mon Mr. Jefferson!  Look at the camera!" 

Our visit to Monticello was so much fun and we learned so much.  It was Jay's favorite thing we've seen in Virgina so far.  Jefferson was so interesting and interested in so many things- all the newest inventions of his time, clocks, weathervanes, architecture, archaeology, exploration, literature, gardening, interior design, art, brewing and winemaking, not to mention philosophy and nation building!  I know he wasn't perfect, but he was a fascinating Founding Father, and we loved his home.  The kids really listened during the home tour (except Peter who slept through it) and we enjoyed discussing the things they learned or liked afterward.  It is so unique to get to experience all these historical places with them- Virginia is for learners!

Pete- 9 Months Old

A Happy Hodges' Christmas

The McAlarney horde (my family) arrived for Christmas and we had days of fun and celebration.  Here's the official family picture...

Gorilla bread for Christmas morning.

 Harry's new scooter.

Pete's favorite Christmas activity:  eating ornaments! 

Little boy carefully decorating the tree.  His last year with a poky belly and diaper bulge, probably.

Pete going for more.  Joyful mantel in background.

US Botanic Gardens. 

One of our favorite Christmas houses- it has its own radio station and the lights dance and change in time to the music.  It is amazing again each year we've gone to see it.

Hiking: Mason Neck State Park

Mason Neck State Park is very close- promising views of Bald Eagles and other bird species.  We went one Saturday morning before Christmas and it was freezing cold so the wind off the Bay was killing us!  Mac had no hat so Jay created one from one of Pete's baby blankets.  Here's Ruthie exploring a beautiful patch of moss.

 We found a cool Tunnel-tree.

 Overlooking the marshy flats.

 This is one of the bird blinds where you can hang out and watch birds.  I think when the birds see us coming they decide on a last minute migration to South America.  (In this picture Mac's improvised hood now looks like a neck pillow.)