Wednesday, October 31, 2007


October has been a great month. The first weekend we went to Toronto for MAT (formerly MAK) and PT's wedding. The weather was awesome. It got up to almost 80 on the day of the wedding. That's crazy for Toronto.

The Dress

The Lace on the Dress

The View at the Reception

My toes match my dress (plus aren't those awesome shoes?)

MTH taking my picture without my knowledge

The following week, on Friday, MTH had to head to Charlotte for recruiting at work through Saturday afternoon. We didn't do too much that night as he was tired. Then, on Sunday, we headed to the National Folk Festival downtown. Very nice harmony.

On 10/19, MTH took me to the restaurant called Bank for a date night. It was a fun night. We started with the cheese plate which included a very nice blue cheese and a runny triple creme. Then, for my entree, I had a flatiron steak with asparagus and mashed potatoes. Somehow we still had room for a chocolatey dessert. On Saturday, MTH left to meet his brother and Dad in Buffalo for the Sunday football game. I had the house to myself until Tuesday evening as MTH headed to NYC straight from Buffalo on Sunday evening. That Saturday morning I volunteered at the Junior League thrift store, the Clothes Rack. That night I had a chicken cheesesteak and French fries delivered to the house for dinner. Yes, I was lazy and unhealthy. Then, on Sunday, a friend came over to help me start painting the guest bathroom. He helped me tape it and then we painted the primer coat.

As I mentioned, MTH went to NYC and was supposed to come back on Tuesday. He called me on Tuesday to say that he was actually going to come back on Wednesday. That was disappointing for two reasons. The obvious reason of course was that I missed him and wanted him to be back. The second reason was that my father was coming into town on Wednesday afternoon and I had made reservations for the 3 of us to go to a restaurant for dinner that night. My father and I went without MTH and had a wonderful meal. Now, I need to take MTH back so he can try the place as well. They have nice seafood which is hard to find in Richmond.

Finally, this past weekend, was our anniversary weekend. Officially our anniversary is on 10/29 but we celebrated over the weekend. On Friday night, we went to Metro Grill. I've mentioned this place before but I'm sure you don't remember. It was the location of our first date. We didn't choose to go there on purpose but it worked out with it being our anniversary weekend :) Then, on Saturday, we headed over to Charlottesville for the actual celebration. Our first stop was an orchard. We picked up a pumpkin for carving, some apples for baking and some sweet potatoes and butternut squash for eating. After picking up all of that stuff, we headed to Monticello for a tour of the house and the garden. I highly recommend going on this tour if you're ever in central Virginia. It's quite educational as well as interesting. We then got back to downtown C-ville around 5:30pm. We had reservations for something called a Spirit Walk at 7:15pm. It was a special event for the weekend prior to Halloween. It started in a cemetery near downtown (we were able to walk there). We had a guide who led us through the cemetery and then through the town of C-ville. Along the way, "spirits" told us about what had happened to them and their connection to C-ville. It was historic but a lot of fun. One of the spirits was a cowboy who sang and played the guitar. Another seat of spirits was a barbershop quartet. We even went to the courthouse to see a murder trial re-enacted. It lasted almost 2 hours.

As we don't like eating dinner early, we had made reservations for after the walk. We headed over to the restaurant and expected to have a drink while waiting. but, they ended up seating us right away - unfortunately. Somehow, they lost us and we waited at least 15 minutes and no one showed up. So, MTH went back to the hostess to find out what was up. The manager came by our table soon after to apologize and gave us our appetizers for free. So, all in all, it worked out fine. We started with a half pound of steamed shrimp and some Chincoteague oysters on the half shell. I had a French 75 and MTH had an Old Fahsioned. Then, for dinner, he had a whole red snapper, Chinese style. I had a deconstructed salmon BLT. Both were very good. We agreed that we'd definitely be happy to go eat there again. For dessert, we shared a root beer float. Lots of fun!

On Sunday, when we returned to Richmond, we went for a run. We have the Ntelos 8k coming up on 11/10 (my birthday!!!). Then, we headed to La Diff and These 4 Walls to try to find a dining room table. Finally, we bought one. It should be delivered soon. We are now close to set for Thanksgiving. Remember, that I mentioned that I had primed the guest bathroom the previous weekend? Well, I decided to paint the first coat on Sunday starting around 4:45pm. I thought it would take me an hour or so. Well, almost 4 hours later, I finally finished. I now have one more job on my list of things that I would not be good at! I still have to finish the second coat. It must be done prior to Thanksgiving!

Last night, MTH carved a pumpkin and I made an apple pie.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ireland, Day 2

Free breakfast at the hotel
Set off for tour of the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods of Belfast where much of The Troubles occurred
Stop first in the Falls Road neighborhood (predominantly Catholic and pro-Irish) - parking across the street from the Sinn Fein (or click headquarters)
Murals were a major part of the tour for both neighborhoods - here's some from the Fall Road area

The black taxi used to be one of the only means of getting around if you didn't have a car as there was no bus system

Bush is a prominent topic in these murals

Frederick Douglas spoke of the oppression of the Irish

The Irish also feel a kinship with the Palestinian movement
Next stop - Shankill Road (predominantly Protestant and pro-British) - to get to this area from Falls Road, you must cross a barricade. Amazingly, there are barricades between the two neighborhoods that have been there since around 1968. Since the easing of the troubles, some of the barricades are opened during the day. But, they are still all closed at night. Here are some examples of murals from Shankill:

The men pictured were part of the Ulster Volunteer Force - a paramilitary group in answer to the IRA

This mural is a reminder that both sides endured terrible tragedies due to The Troubles

British flags were everywhere throughout this neighborhood
Next, we set off to check out an exhibit at the Golden Thread Gallery that showed the history of The Troubles time period through pictures - Out of the Darkness
We had a very hard time finding this place as they did not give an address, just a poorly hand-drawn map
After seeing the exhibition, we were hungry so we consulted our handy guidebook. We found that one of the oldest pubs was nearby in a place called Pottinger's Entry. It was a very small alley type street that had lots of shopping on it (redevelopment). The pub is Morningstar Bar.
Then, we were off to see the Belfast City Hall.

MTH and I are sitting in the chairs for the mayor and other important people. Interestingly, the mayor is only in power for one year at the time. It switches from a Protestant to a Catholic and back.

Next we just walked around Belfast to see the sights. Here MTH is posing with a large wire sculpture.

Here's our hotel in Belfast. It was across from the square with the City Hall.

That night we went to Deane's Restaurant. It was quite good. Upscale Irish food. Then, we headed to Fibber McGee's for some real Irish music. It was quite fun. Plus, MTH got mistaken as an Irishman. I think he though he was cool.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Photography Class, Assignment 2

Our second assignment was to only photograph nature. At first, I thought I had it made. We already had a trip planned out to just east of the Shenandoah Valley. Once there, I realized that I didn't have enough charge in my camera battery to take pictures. At that point, I was not too happy with this assignment. I live in the city. How in the world was I going to photograph only nature once I got back from our trip. It turns out there's a lot of nature in the Richmond city limits. I headed over to Maymont Park to see what I could see.

Some of the ideas we were supposed to incorporate into our pictures:
1. Leading lines
2. Perspective
3. Rule of thirds
4. Harsh sunlight

Here's what I shared with the class along with a few comments:

To me, this picture looks like I took it while I was in the mountains but it is at Maymont using two cedar trees to frame a view of a small hill.

This tree is actually a double tree. That is, the roots of the two upper trees are intertwined. I took the picture by putting myself in the crook between the two trees and looking up. Again, I'm happy with how the picture makes the trees look so much taller than they really are. If you've ever been to Maymont, you wouldn't realize this picture is from there.

Not my best picture.

My worst picture of the bunch.

I like how the bamboo frames the bottom of the tree but I didn't like the extra piece of bamboo at the bottom. Since it's a public park, I can't do anything about extraneous items in the pictures.

This picture is ok but it's the reason I started taking pictures of the water which you'll see in the pictures that follow.

I like the softness of the tree by the shininess of the brook.

The cool thing about this picture is that the reflection of the tree did not show up in the brook to my naked eye. It only showed up in the picture.

More leading lines.

Although I would normally take the picture of the full tree, I really liked the yellow flowers that were growing under the tree. I sat down on the ground and took this one. The interesting tree trunk added even more to the composition of this picture.

I wanted to fill up the picture with the weird texture of this dead tree.

I happened to look up when I was walking away from the Texas Beach trail near the James River. The view made me think of the pictures of the jungles in Vietnam. One person in the class thought it looked like a picture of fabric.

In the end, I felt much better about my pictures after the class as I got a lot of good feedback.

Next week's assignment is to photograph people. I'm going to a wedding for the weekend with a fully charged camera!