Archive for January, 2009

Photo365: January 21, 2009

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Ciara seemed a bit miffed when I finally dragged myself home today after five days away:

Ciara

Ciara

Photo365: January 20, 2009

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

January 20, 2009. The bumperstickers for months have read: “January 20, 2009. End of an error.” Eight long years of George W. Bush. Eight long years of “if you dissent, you’re a traitor.” Of ignoring our core values in the name of security. Eight long years. And on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, it came to an end.

I thought long and hard about whether to try to be there in Washington for the inauguration. A new President. For the first time in our history, a black President. For the first time in eight years, a President I voted for, and supported, and felt good about. The crowds were predicted to be ridiculous. The chances of getting any kind of tickets slim to none. The weather cold, bitterly cold, with snow or at least snow flurries predicted. So what was I to do? Simple: I decided to go. To do whatever I had to, to be able to be there, to feel it, to be part of it. I was already going to be in Virginia for the birthday party for my beloved nephew and godson Duncan, so… I had to go.

The first order of business was getting tickets. More than anything else, I needed mass transit tickets. As the signs said, traffic was going to be a nightmare and for most of the city you couldn’t drive at all:

Traffic warning

Traffic warning

Thanks to StubHub and eBay, I managed to get a round trip ticket on the Fredericksburg line of the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter train and two tickets for bleacher seats at the parade (it was cheaper to buy two than to buy one). Once my brother Bill heard I had a second parade ticket, he decided he had to go too.¬† So we scrounged and scrounged and finally came up with a second VRE ticket, even on the same trains. So far so good…

Inaugural tickets

Inaugural tickets

Tuesday morning, we left the house well before daybreak and drove to Quantico to catch the VRE into the District. Two charter buses full of passengers had the same plan, but everyone was in good spirits as we waited for the train.

Inauguration VRE train

Inauguration VRE train

Once we got off the train at L’Enfant Plaza, it was easy: just follow the signs held up by very cold (but very happy and enthusiastic) volunteers:

Volunteer

Volunteer

We managed to find a good spot on the National Mall between the Smithsonian Castle and 12th Street. There was a Jumbotron not far ahead of us, and we could see and hear fairly well. By the time the sun rose, the National Mall was full.

National Mall as the sun rose

National Mall as the sun rose

People came alone, in pairs, in groups, in families, all looking to be part of the moment:

Family at inauguration

Family at inauguration

Inaugural montage: people

Inaugural montage: people

They came with hats and buttons and jackets and flags and signs to show their views:

Inaugural montage: signs

Inaugural montage: signs

Everywhere you looked, there was security of one kind or another:

Inaugural montage: security

Inaugural montage: security

And it was cold. Cold cold cold. Low to mid-20s, maybe. A bit of wind. No snow, however… (though it clouded up and seemed a bit threatening for the last few minutes of the Bush Presidency, it was otherwise clear and completely clear and sunny by the time the new Vice President and President were sworn in!) And we ended up standing there in the cold from before 8 a.m. to just before noon when the ceremony got underway. People did what they had to, to try to stay warm.

Cold

Cold

None of it — not the cold, not the security — dampened the enthusiasm in the slightest:

Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm

People paid a great deal of attention to what we could all see and hear on the Jumbotron. And folks made it clear where they stood by their reactions to what they could see and hear. When Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut was shown, he was soundly and roundly booed. When former Vice President Al Gore appeared, he got a nice round of applause.

No real reaction, nothing negative, for either Cindy or John McCain. (As far as we could tell, Sarah Palin wasn’t there — she surely wasn’t shown on the Jumbotron — I’d have loved to have heard the crowd’s reaction to her.) Nothing much by way of reaction to former President Bush or former President Carter. Some polite applause, nothing else. That all changed when the last former President appeared: former President and Mrs. Clinton were cheered, loud and long.

When Vice President Dick Cheney was wheeled into the viewing area, a whole section of the crowd started singing the Darth Vader theme song!!! And when President Bush was shown, in the tunnel area approaching the viewing area and then emerging into the viewing area, the crowd made it quite clear when it stood. As a group, they sang: “Nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey… goodbye!” (I hear that the media regarded that as tacky. It may have been, but where we were standing it was obviously heartfelt and spontaneous.)

Every time any of the Obamas appeared on the Jumbotron, the crowd reacted with applause, cheers and flag-waving. Michelle Obama was warmly greeted, and the Obama girls were definite crowd pleasers. (I heard later that both girls were wearing J.Crew outfits — and that the J.Crew website crashed that afternoon with the press of people trying to get those outfits for their kids!)

Everyone quieted down nicely as Joseph Biden of Delaware was sworn in as Vice President of the United States:

Biden sworn in

Biden sworn in

And then the moment¬† came… the moment everyone had been waiting for:

I, Barack Hussein Obama, ...

"I, Barack Hussein Obama, ..."

And the crowd on the Mall went wild, throwing hands and confetti into the air, waving flags and screaming:

The crowd went wild

The crowd went wild

People applauded. They grinned. They sang. They hugged each other. They shouted Obama’s name. The crowd noise was so deafening, you literally couldn’t hear yourself think. It was wonderful.

Hugs and cheers

Hugs and cheers

Smiles and cheers

Smiles and cheers

We never managed to make it over to the parade route. Though we had carefully scoped out the route to walk using public information that emphasized where to be able to cross Pennsylvania Avenue, what nobody ever reported was that Constitution Avenue would be closed. Since the public info said you had to be through security by 1 p.m., and we realized there was no way we could make that, we decided to walk around, get souvenirs for both of Bill’s boys, and see what we could see. And one of the things we saw was Bush’s last flight on Marine One as he came down the Mall and back up and off one last time to Andrews AFB.

Bushs last ride

Bush's last ride

Eventually, we decided to start making our way out of the District. That meant we had to make our way past the Capitol towards Union Station. That building sure looked good all decked out:

The Capitol all dressed up

The Capitol all dressed up

We had to walk a convoluted route to get to the train station,and when we got around to the side of the Capitol where the parade was supposed to start from, we saw that the military honor guard was still on the steps and the parade hadn’t yet started. So we did get to see some of the parade (the groups were standing there, shivering and literally pale with the cold):

Parade marchers

Parade marchers

We couldn’t imagine what was delaying things, but just kept on the long cold route to the train station, where we had to wait out in the cold to finally be allowed in, and then had to wait for the train home. That’s when we found out that Senator Kennedy had collapsed at the Congressional Luncheon and that’s why the parade had been so terribly delayed. We felt a whole lot better about not making it to the bleachers then — we would have missed the train if we’d waited for the parade! So it all worked out in the end, I suppose.

And it was worth every bit of cold and discomfort and annoyance. It was a moment I never expected to see in my lifetime, a moment that made me so very very proud to be an American. As I said to my brother as we waited for the train, we have a President now who is smart and capable and who speaks English with proper sentences and words that exist and make sense. How bad can the next eight years be?

Photo365: January 19, 2009

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Monday had me a little worried, since I knew my brother Bill and I would be doing a lot of running around getting gear ready so we wouldn’t freeze to death at the inauguration. I didn’t think I’d even have time, much less the imagination, to come up with a shot for the day. Not to worry. Among the bits of “gear” I needed to check and get ready were our tickets:

Inaugural tickets

Inaugural tickets

Photo365: January 18, 2009

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Sunday, after Duncan’s birthday party (photos to be done separately!), we drove past the National Marine Corps Museum on I95. It’s simply a gorgeous structure.

Marine Corps Museum

Marine Corps Museum

Photo365: January 17, 2009

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Drove down to Virginia Saturday and was hard-pressed to find something for the day’s photo. Just before I got to my destination I came across a little park where a small pond was iced over near the rocks.

Hard water

Hard water

Photo365: January 16, 2009

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Okay… here’s the story. I put up a suet block in the backyard to see if I could start enticing the birds into my yard. I figured if that worked I could start looking for good sites for feeders and the like.

But, of course, the first thing that I found out was that birds are not the only critters out there that might like suet. Treerats (a/k/a squirrels) are not only likely customers, but are much more likely to find the suet first. The results of THAT can be found here.

But I’m working at home today, went downstairs a few minutes ago, and happened to glance out the window. There, on the suet block, was a pair of gorgeous cardinals, one male, one female.

I grabbed the camera, tossed on my new 100-400, ran to the back door, eased it open and they were still there! I fired off as many shots as I could. And yes, I confess, I chimped, and what I saw in the brief glances I took as I shot was terrific!

You know how this story ends, don’t you? I have now resolved never, repeat never, never ever again, to take a card out of the camera without putting a new one in. Yep, no card. I have also resolved to read the manual this afternoon and find out how to set the camera not to take a picture if there is no card.

Of course, while I was discovering this, the gorgeous male flew away.

Fortunately, the female stayed around and let me get my first shots of my first backyard bird:

Female cardinal

Female cardinal

Female cardinal

Female cardinal

Then she left and the suet attracted another visitor — a white-throated sparrow:

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

Photo365: January 15, 2009

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Picked up some extension tubes for the macro today. This is not easy stuff because of the focus issues. I’ll learn. I’ll learn.

water drops

water drops

water drops

water drops

Photo365: January 14, 2009

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

I was working with some old cases today, so my subject for today’s photos was easy:

Old law

Old law

Older law

Older law

Photo365: January 13, 2009

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

I put a suet block out for the birds to eat. Birds. Yeah. Right.

Ooooh! Whats THAT down there?

Ooooh! What's THAT down there?

Lemme check this out...

Lemme check this out...

Stretch just a little more...

Stretch just a little more...

Oh! That's good stuff!

Oh! That's good stuff!

Getting up is harder than getting down!

Getting up is harder than getting down!

Its good manners to clean up after you eat...

It's good manners to clean up after you eat...

Photo365: January 12, 2009

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Whatever possessed me to go out in the dead of winter to get shots of the cathedral in Newark is beyond my comprehension. I’m now achy and snuffly and feverish and… but the shots came out just fine!

Sacred Heart Basilica

Sacred Heart Basilica

Sacred Heart Basilica

Sacred Heart Basilica