One of the most memorable things I did last week was to go off to the the Tidal Basin during my lunch break to see the cherry blossoms at their peak. I figured I had only a one hour break to see them, so I thought I would take a cab instead of simply walking. My decision didn’t prove that wise, as the place was jam-packed with tourists, making it impossible for cabs to get there. The fastest way to reach the place turned about to be on foot. Anyway, I managed to reach my destination after walking the last part of the way.
What I saw when I got there was even more exhilarating than I expected. It was simply stunning. The cornucopia of white and pink reflecting in the basin took my breath away. Of course, I had to maneuver between the many, many tourists to find good locations to take pictures but the hassle was worth it. What was amazing about the whole scene was how the trees themselves were shedding, which made for a wonderful scene as everyone was engulfed in white flurries, adding a unique touch to the beauty of the moment.
What made the trip still more special for me was the fact that it was my first. During this same time last year I was in Jordan with family and friends. Of course being surrounded by cherry blossoms is not as fulfilling and worthwhile as being with your family. But somehow, and just for a moment, I got a similar warmth simply by being amongst those trees that grow in a place far, far away from home.
Enjoy these pictures [they enlarge on click] taken by yours truly.
The very day after Amal’s arrival here for a five-day vacation, the DC metro area got hit by a huge snowstorm. It was the biggest so far this winter, pumping out about six inches of snow in the suburbs where we live. Amal loved it. Somehow it helped her turn off and detach herself — at least for a bit — from the political madness she left behind in her home, Beirut.
After taking a nice walk in the nearby park on the day of the storm, we returned home to look at the pictures we had taken taken.
"Wow! This is amazing … this looks like Narnia," said Amal of one of the pictures. [Image enlarges on click]. Indeed, for a while we were in Narnia’s world, far, far away from a land we both adore, a land that will eventually always conquer our thoughts no matter how hard we try to distant ourselves from it.
UPDATE 2: My friend Sinan has provided me with a picture showing the detail of the very same location (circled in red) in the context of all the recent development.
UPDATE: I received a recent picture of this same location today from a slightly different angle. Thanks again Scooby! I’m going to reorient the page for comparison. Amazing!
Reader and friend Scooby provided me with this phenomenal
picture of Zahran Street in 1955 [And the new one after the update]. It goes without saying that that the development that has occurred throughout the years to this street and to the city of Amman generally is mind-boggling.
Can anyone provide me with
a more recent picture more recent pictures of Zahran Street?
While driving around the National Mall in DC last weekend, we came across something that resembled some sort of a Santa Convention. What we saw was more than two dozen Santas gathered in front of the entrance to the Smithsonian National History Museum. The Santas were not doing anything special besides just hanging out.
My mother-in-law and I approached the congregation and asked one of the Santas about the reason for this mammoth gathering. His reply was simple: "It’s Christmas!" Good answer.
A few days later, I was reading John and Jenny’s blog when I realized that they too had come across a similar scene in Seattle. After following the link on their blog, I discovered that what we had stumbled upon in DC was a special group that goes by the name Santarchy and/or Santacon. This is how they describe themselves:
Every December for the last 13 years, Cacophonous Santas have been visiting cities around the world, engaging in a bit of Santarchy as part of the annual Santacon events. It all started back in 1994 when several dozen Cheap Suit Santas paid a visit to downtown San Francisco for a night of Kringle Kaos. Things have reached Critical Xmas and Santarchy is now a global phenomenon. You’d better watch out! Santa’s coming to town!
Merry Christmas everyone!
In more Santa-related sightings, apparently globally there are a number of mass Santa convocations. Some suggest it is a sure sign of the apocalypse. These images document a gathering of Santas, called "Sinister Santas," in Moscow. This article suggests something more than Christmas merriment afoot: "Its purpose and appearance had been painstakingly created to appear benign. Few of the 70,000 or so who gathered were older than teenagers and their uniforms were so incongruous as to be unthreatening … according to Russia’s liberal democrats, scenes like this are less a display of benevolence than a show of force … As the youngsters swayed … a voice boomed out from the loudspeakers exhorting them to reinvent Russia’s lost glory. "Let the miracle happen," the voice cried out. "Let heart reach out to heart so our country can rise once more."
We spent this Thanksgiving weekend in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley, where we gathered with family members for fellowship and divine food. It is goes without saying that gathering in the breath-taking valley adds a special vibe to this fall holiday.
No matter how many times we visit the Valley, I can never get over how beautiful it is. There is something about the mountains there — the Blue Ridge and Massanutten — that simply take my breath away.
Now, I will let the pictures speak for themselves. These photos were taken by the husband on two different occasions and in two different locations in the valley: Lake Shenandoah, near Harrisonburg and the Skyline Drive. Happy Thanksgiving and happy holidays.