How does one get lucky enough to receive a copy of a John Grisham book before it is released???? Well, my friend did and she was asked to write a review….. Grisham Slams One Out of the Ballpark with ‘Calico Joe’.
My baby sister is engaged. What?!?! Wait, who? Yes, my baby sister. It seems like yesterday, she was sporting her Wonder Woman underoos. Not too long ago, I cheered for her at high school volleyball matches, and then watched her graduate from college.
I am several years older than my baby sister, so I will always refer to her as my baby sister. Compared to my father and me, she is very level-headed. Her achievements include graduating top of her class, earning a degree in history, and she is now pursuing a master’s degree in political science. She is athletic, intelligent, beautiful, kind, and generous.
I was a bit apprehensive when I learned she was dating a sailor; after all, her father and brother were sailors. I am so glad they continued to date because I think he is a great guy. It is nice to know she is safe and secure, but more importantly, she is happy. Her fiancé makes her laugh and supports her in her endeavors. The more I get to know him, the more I like him. I will be proud to call him a brother one day.
Saturday morning the Tidal Basin was misty and cold, but we were determined to get some photographs before the cherry blossoms were gone. We parked the car near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial before 7AM and began the morning with a few pictures on the steps of the memorial.
They began to relax, and the pictures reflected it. They have a wonderful sense of humor, and laughter ensued. She and I had some ideas, while he was just happy to be there that early after a late night at work (insert sarcasm). He never complained, and midway through, he mentioned he liked high-contrast black and white photographs. Fantastic, because so do I.
I know they are not poetry fans, but I am. Yes, I am a geeky software engineer who reads and writes poetry, and loves photography. Here is one of my favorite sonnets by Pablo Neruda:
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
— Pablo Neruda
Here are some of the pictures from Saturday morning:
In previous posts, I shared my photographs of spring in Washington D.C. and the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory. A talented blogger and photographer, whom I have been following for some time now, has shared some beautiful photographs of the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Please, check out Cecelia’s photographs: Orchids! Orchids! and then there were more Orchids!.
In a previous post, I declared, “Spring is Here!” Since then, I have taken many more photographs, and I am looking forward to a day off from work on Friday to take more. My baby sister has asked me to photograph her and my future brother-in-law on Saturday. They will be married this fall, and I am very excited for them. The cherry blossoms and well-known memorials, such as the Washington Monument and Thomas Jefferson Memorial, will be beautiful backdrops for their engagement photographs. And yes, she has asked me to take the photographs! I hope she likes my results because the women in my family
are very demanding know exactly what they want.
Here are a few pictures I have taken in the last few days:
NOTE: Please, don’t steal my work — see my copyright notice below. If you’d like to use any of my images, send me a message. If you’re a charitable organization or an educational institution, my answer will probably be “yes.” But please, ask me first. Thank you.
CLICK ON ANY PHOTOGRAPH TO SEE A LARGER IMAGE.
You can then see exposure settings by clicking Actions ⇒ View Exif info.
Like other residents of northern Virginia, I am wondering what happened to the winter, I like the winter but I love the fall. My friends and family consider me strange because I do not like summer. Even though the beaches are filled with beautiful women, I avoid them because I can’t stand the heat. This is probably because I am a polar bear stuck in a human’s body.
Nonetheless, the seasons come and go as God sees fit. I’ve always thought the personification of nature as a loving, nurturing mother humorous. Unlike my mother, Mother Nature doesn’t realize how much I despise the heat. Oh well, like the other women in my life, there is no way I am telling this one how to do her job.
Spring is here, and I have been taking lots of pictures. Of course, after I post these spring-related pictures I will need to take some pictures of motorcycles in order to get my Man Card back. Spring alters my mood — in a good way. However, I am sorry to say, Lord Tennyson, that my thoughts don’t turn to love — I am always in love. Let me clarify: In his poem “Locksley Hall,” he wrote, “[I]n the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”
And then there is Robert Frost’s poem, “A Prayer in Spring”:
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.
Since I live in northern Virginia, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is a short metro-transit ride away. Since this is the 100th anniversary, I want to provide a brief history and the cultural significance of the cherry blossoms in Japan. I hope that my friend Hiromi and her husband will inform me of any historical or cultural inaccuracies.
In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave a gift of 3,000 cherry trees to our nation’s capitol (Washington, D.C.). In March of 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park.1
In Western culture, the cherry blossom conjures visions of Japan. In the 2003 movie The Last Samurai, Hollywood harnesses the power of this Western cliché when Samurai Katsumoto says to Tom Cruise’s character, “The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.” Long before Tom Cruise graced us with his presence (insert sarcasm), the Japanese were admiring cherry blossoms. In Buddhist tradition, the breathtaking but brief beauty of the blossoms symbolizes the transient nature of life.2
The practice of hanami (or yozakura) fills parks with thousands of people celebrating under the flowering trees. When I was living in Japan in the early 1990s, I had the privilege of attending the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival. I think Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa captures the communal spirit of hanami in his haiku:
In the city fields
strangers are like friends
Another haiku of his reminds us to live a simple life:
Live in simple faith…
Just as this simple cherry,
Flower, fades and falls.
The blossoms will be in peak bloom this week, and I plan to take Friday off work. In the last two weeks, I have already taken many photographs. Here are some of them: