From the archive: With Prince Felipe of Spain

Prince Phillipe and me

Someone just put up this picture up on Facebook. I’m the one who is standing right next to Prince Felipe of Spain. I think this was taken in 1995 in Amman, Jordan at  Instituto Cervantes. I look so young and somehow so naive. As for el principe, you can tell from this picture that he is extremely tall! I miss the Instituto Cervantes. I spent a number of years there, studying Spanish and taking part in their various cultural activities.

Snapshot: Deer in my backyard

One of the things that I enjoy a great deal about living in the suburbs, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, is the easy access to nature and wildlife. Last week, while I was sipping my morning coffee and flipping through the weekend edition of the Washington Post, I glanced at our backyard and low and behold there were deer, four of them, right outside my dining room.

They just wandered around, nibbled on some of our trees, and chilled for a while until they decided it was time to move on. Such beautiful animals, I tell you! This is a scene that is really worth my daily commute back and forth to work. Long live the suburbs!

Two deer Taking a load off

Photo essay: “Welcome to Bear Country”

Bear_countryProbably one of the most memorable moments of this summer was when I saw the bear. This happened last weekend during our weekend camping adventure on Virginia’s Skyline Drive. The night before the sighting, the possibility of seeing a bear (a first in my lifetime) was the only thing on my mind. The reason for this was primarily because we were welcomed to our campground by a big sign that read simply: "Bear Country." I could not sleep much that night. I kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking about the possibility of a bear hovering outside our tent. Also, seeing the movie about a man being eaten by a bear just a week before did not help things.

The bear sighting occurred the next day around noon during the tail end of a five-mile hike (a hike that alone almost led to my demise). It was surreal. After taking a break, we were just starting down the trail again when we saw it. The bear was some 150 meters away from where we were standing. It was calmly drinking from a creek when my shouts interrupted its moment of peace. Hearing my cries, it raised its head to look at us. While I was busy shouting and cursing the day, the rest of the group were taking pictures. The bear looked up at the animated crowd and then just walked away. Just like that, the mammoth beast was nowhere to be found.

I have to say that although coming face-to-face with the bear gave me the scare of a lifetime, it was exhilarating. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

The bear The bear exodus

Snapshot: Frogs at the Nataional Aquarium

Tree frog

This past Memorial Day Weekend, we took my long-time friends, who were here visiting from Amman, to Baltimore to marvel at the breathtaking sea creatures on display at the National Aquarium. While there, my super-talented husband took this phenomenal picture of this live frog chilling inside a tank at the aquarium.

In my humble, completely unbiased opinion, I think this is one of the best photos I have seen in a while. The picture is just too good to be true. The colors are so vibrant and alive and the frog just looks extremely engaged. Just look at its tiny hands! It is just perfect. Way to go hubby! Here are some more frog pictures taken by the talented Mr Tynes. [Clicking the picture links to a BIG version.]

Blue Dart frog Bullfrog Tree frog

A stunning scene

A blossoming branch
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.

Blossoms! A blossom frame Jefferson

Snapshot: Lost in Narnia’s world

Lost in Narnia

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.