Monthly Archives: September 2010


Decorate grate, Bethesda Row.

Mmmmm, rust.

Symmetry is also something of a beauty cliché, but there’s no denying it has its charms.

A Year Ago: The Flag of Fall

Autumn produce.Green gold yellow white…
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Water and Metal

Glass water bottles in a metal pan.

I’m finding that I have a special affinity for color images that are almost monochrome (among many others). They reveal their beauties gradually, quietly. Have a look at the wonderful color palette on the back wall of the basin here. Check out the dappled, welted space of water between the two bottles. The curve of the basin’s handle is so well-defined it’s almost in 3D. And the condensation against the eggplant hue at bottom center slays me.

Consider this post a love-note to my Lumix 1.7 20mm ASPH pancake lens as well. Fast, gloriously shallow depth of field with smooth bokeh, and fabulous sharpness where sharpness is wanted.


Bethesda alleyway.

It is easy to forget that we are routinely seeing things in only one way, from the fixed perspective behind our own eyes.

This is why stories are important, and why art, literature, and history matter. Until we learn to put ourselves imaginatively in others’ shoes, to revision what we think we know as others might perceive it, we are doomed to repeat our flaws and our virtues are likely to stagnate and grow rote and lifeless.

When we stop listening to those with whom we’re sure we disagree, or when we engage in debate purely as an exercise in scoring points or making our opponent look stupid, we shut off the possibility of growth and change in our own viewpoint. We also, in all likelihood, forfeit the opportunity to learn how we might make our case in a way that would actually be convincing and persuasive to those who differ. Conversation creates meaning where shouted slogans engender only antipathy.

Civil society requires empathy and patience. Art thrives on dialogue. Don’t just sing in your own choir; join a pick-up group, or trying humming in harmony to a tune you’re not familiar with yet.

A Year Ago: Prettiest Niçoise EVAR

Seared tuna salad.

I had dinner at a restaurant called Redwood in Bethesda…
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Care for a Pear?

Scarf design.

Pears are coming into season again, in time for the holidays. Stay tuned…

A Year Ago: Leaving

Colorful leaves.The dark is growing longer, and swiftly, now…
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The Best Vacation

Cartoon by in The Funny Times.

Bob found this cartoon from in a recent issue of The Funny Times,and because he knows me very well, he recognized that it would appeal to me.

I’m not going to tie your shoelaces together or make you wear frosted goggles. But I hope that my posts here encourage you to take a closer look (from whatever distance) at your surroundings. Prepare to be delighted and refreshed by what you may discover.

A Year Ago: Good design is a manifestation of love for the world

Motorcycle wheelThe person who designed this wheel clearly had an eye for beauty…
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Lavender ice cream! Want! | Click to view larger.

The alley where this photograph was taken runs east-west. It was late afternoon.* The east end of the alley here is to the right. Yet curiously, as you will observe, the shadows cast by the warm day’s-end light are pointing to the left, toward the direction of the setting sun. This is the beauty of bounced light, which those of you who’ve been following along for awhile now, will know that I adore. (You can find some other examples here, here, here, and here, to name just a few).

But, for me, the charm of this image doesn’t reside in that particular anomaly. I like it for the subtle, restrained, yet remarkably coordinated color palette, which mixes warm and cool tones in perfect harmony. You can find cream, yellow, magenta, purple, blue, and even a grey-green blending quietly together to create a soothing, restful spectrum.

This picture calls to mind lavender ice cream.

*I’m almost never photographing in the early morning, unless I was up all night or some other exigency required rising in the low single digits.

A Year Ago: Age & Beauty

Stylish Ol' GalI saw so many beautiful things on my walk today that I was hard pressed to pick one to share…
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Time & Place


If not now, when?

A Year Ago: Galactic Beauty

Beauty FAIL

Smokehouse, Point Lookout State Park, VA

I needed to get out of Dodge, clear my head, see something different, go.

I looked at the map and struck out for an area in my general region that I’d never been to: Point Lookout State Park. It’s either in Virginia or Maryland; in any case, the drive there is all Maryland. Several hours of, I regret to say, spectacularly dull Maryland.

I was hoping for scenic nature and maybe some ruins. The smokehouse depicted above was the only historical remnant to be found, and there wasn’t much to it. (There was also a large, modern memorial to Confederate prisoners-of-war just outside the park entrance, complete with signage saying that it was privately funded because political correctness has run rampant in state policies. None of my pictures of it are worth displaying.)

Fishing set-up at Point Lookout State Park.

I paid my $3 entrance fee on the honor system. There were a few desultory fishermen, some fearless deer (with fawns), and the lighthouse was fenced off and visually dull as dishwasher.

As a way to get some zing back, I have to say this field trip was a complete and utter bust, and a fundamental waste of fossil fuels. Oh well.

Security fence at Point Lookout State Park.

A Year Ago: Gothic Beauty

National Cathedral, Washington, DCI live across the street from the most beautiful outdoor sculpture in Washington, D.C…
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Vandalized gravestones at Holy Rood Cemetery, Georgetown, Washington DC

We interrupt our regular programming to bring you a dose of rantage.

What the hell is wrong with people?!?

(The habitually misanthropic among my readers are now rolling their eyes and chuckling in a slightly exasperated fashion that poor Miss Look At The Pretty Things! is peeved. All I can say is: enjoy.)

So, yes, I made a nice picture of something that just annoys the holy hell out of me.

Speaking of holy, this is Holy Rood Cemetery, in upper Georgetown. And what you see here is just a small sampling of the many, many vandalized gravestones to be found on this site. It is an ancient graveyard, but it is also still in use. You can find burial markers from the 18th century not far from contemporary memorials. The grass is mown; someone is trying to take care of the place.

And just as clearly, others are actively tearing it down. It must be some folks’ idea of a good time to get ripped and go grave-tipping. Imagine the hilarious hijinks and rollicking good times to be had knocking over the symbols of dignity and grief put in place by mourners! Those placeholders of respectability are for rigid old farts who never had a day’s fun in their lives, and nobody but old people ever visits cemeteries anyway. And it makes such a cool thud when the stones hit the dirt!

I found a spent glow-stick in the grass. I’m not a vindictive person, but I can tell you I had some seriously unkind thoughts about the partiers whose selfish, mindless destructiveness was evident all around me.

After five hundred years, broken stone monuments may begin to qualify as simply picturesque. After a thousand years, even vandalized ruins can acquire the patina of honored antiquity. But you know what?

That’s no damn excuse.

Death of a Roadster

Old sportscar buried under detritus.

I was wandering the back-alleys of Georgetown.

In general, you will never see a better-kept, cleaner, more attractive set of alleyways than in Georgetown. They are practically curated. You could eat off the cobblestones. That’s some serious wealth there, lightly camouflaged by an old-school lack of flashiness.

Headlight through hole in a gate.

So it was with a certain gleeful shadenfreude that I discovered a trio of ramshackle, collapsed garages. Two came complete with a chewy candy-center: an abandoned car. The third’s walls were fallen to ruin on two sides, but it boasted the presence of a well-muscled, immobile feline, who was immune to my cat-whisperer blandishments.

Orange tabby in ruined garage.