December 16th, 2022
Sometimes you hit the sweet spot.

After a fully dreary day yesterday, the sun was out in force today; and UD’s sister, who scans maps for interesting green spots in Montgomery County, found the Tridelphia Reservoir. We got there exactly at noon, and as we walked the path along the water, the sun warmed our backs. The air was chilly enough to keep people away (we were alone), but actually, in the event, very pleasant. Dry, fresh, clear. The clarity of the entire setting was astounding.

The feel of the place was… eerie. Aesthetic abandonment: no birds, nothing but twigs in the muddy lake, disused canoes on the banks. For a few moments we heard a jet pass, but it barely registered.

We spoke some words, mainly about the wind, which was also high and very much part of the eerie sweetness. It was easy to hear the wind, shaking the dry leaves that still, in mid-December, hung on elms that overlooked the water. The sun cast a shadow of their branches on the lake surface.

The phrase ‘perfect moment’ has been hijacked by advertising; but everything really was in breathtaking, mystical, alignment.

December 14th, 2022
‘[S]ome tired, lonely turf grass dystopia…’

Just down the street from UD (well, 23 miles away) live the stubborn couple who changed state law so that if you want to keep a pollinator garden in front of your house around here, you can.

A [2021] bill was drafted that forbade homeowner associations from banning pollinator plants or rain gardens, or from requiring property owners to plant turf grass.

They had a long hard tussle with a neighbor, but they made such a fuss it went all the way to Annapolis.

One of their neighbor’s bitterest complaints involved the deer their natural garden attracted.

Welcome to UD‘s garden.

(The post’s headline is taken from the thousands of comments the article has received, most of them agreeing with the statement’s strong anti-lawnism.)

November 27th, 2022
An England fan…

… spied at The Wharf, where UD and her

sisters strolled yesterday, in spectacular

mild sunny winter weather.

November 8th, 2022
Ten things to do while waiting for 3:02 AM and the beginning of the lunar eclipse.
  1. Play Bach’s Capriccio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother BWV 992.
  2. Sample what’s left of the crispy salmon you made for dinner.
  3. Empty the dishwasher.
  4. Check on your dog, asleep on top of seven blankets in the guest room. Give her a kiss.
  5. Play Wordle (it took me five moves).
  6. Go to the NYT archives and complete two acrostics. (Each took me about twenty minutes.)
  7. Check Amazon for extra large socks with octopuses on them for Andrew Ferree MD’s Christmas present.
  8. Read many articles about the spread of Iran-inspired hijab-burning around the world.
  9. Go out on the deck with binoculars and marvel at how gorgeous the night sky already is, without even a lunar eclipse.
  10. Go to Winston’s Gutters website and request a visit.
October 29th, 2022
Somehow La Kid manages to produce a quintessentially DC / unsettlingly surreal pic of herself at a Halloween party.
Location: Metro Bar. What’ll they think of next.
October 29th, 2022
I went out to the deck at three AM because I heard an owl, close and loud. I love to hear their call.

I must have startled it, because suddenly just overhead the huge dark bird appeared!

Just overhead — a wide, wide wingspan and a starry sky…

October 27th, 2022
Margaret’s Nature Journal


Picked up this morning, on a glorious Garrett Park walk through sunlight, wind, and whirling leaves. I was on my way to Ruth Roth’s, a neighbor and friend. 93 years old, Ruth is writing a life wisdom book, and I’m helping her. I deliver her mail from the GP post office, and, since she doesn’t use computers, also drop off longhand communications about her text.

Don’t know if this image conveys that this leaf is enormous. Size of a dinner plate.

And – who knew – “eco-car with bamboo” appeared on a number of freight containers as an endless train banged by on my walk. I looked it up: Turns out bamboo flooring is the latest thing, replacing less environmentally friendly tropical hardwood plywood.

September 27th, 2022
Find the Wabbit

It’s staring right at you. I tried a closer shot, but it hid in the high grasses. I maintain this wild corner of my garden in hopes that animals like rabbits will eat stuff they find there rather than in the expensive pollinator garden to their left. Its main purpose turns out to be a flophouse for deer. They bed down here for the night and then leave deep long impressions in their wake.

September 23rd, 2022
In the Happiest State in the Happiest State.

So UD’s home state (really home: born in Hopkins Hospital, spent summers at crab feasts on the Bay, grew up in Bethesda) has just been named the Happiest State in America by Wallet Hub.

Okay, no.  Hawaii is the happiest – duh – but Maryland came in second.  Second!  Let us ask why.  Let us count the ways.

1.  Am I blue?  Am I blue?   A glance at the full happy list tells you that Democratic states are far happier than Republican, and it doesn’t get any bluer than Maryland, My Maryland.  Even our Republican governor is a Democrat.  He calls the Republican running to succeed him a ‘QAnon whack job.’

2.  Money does buy happiness.  We’re always ranked in the top ten wealthiest states, with a huge amount of government and high tech and corporate stuff wedged into our tiny domain.  My little town’s budget – I live in a place called Garrett Park – can only be called an embarrassment of riches.  And unlike our saddest states – Louisiana, Mississippi – we don’t worry that everyone’s going to steal everything.

3.  “Community and Environment” is one of three major categories on which the study focuses.  My park-like town is small and my state is small.  I know my neighbors. Most of us volunteer for stuff and are charitable with our money.   I know my representatives.  I’ve met Senator Chris Van Hollen twice – at a small dinner, where we talked at length, and then in Vermont, at a mutual friend’s birthday party, where we talked even more.  Van Hollen arranged it so my old friend Terry’s father – who captured Tojo! – got the military recognition he deserved.  One of my neighbors hosted a meet and greet for Jamie Raskin – then her American University colleague – and I got to know the guy.  Raskin’s January 6 Committee eloquence made me … happy.


It ain’t rocket science.  The very saddest states – look at the list – tend to be corrupt, and they feature isolated people who hate the government.  The very happiest contain lucky so and so’s like me: Beneficiaries of accessible, rational, pretty uncorrupt government; strong communities which tend to use their wealth generously; and beloved, well-tended, natural as well as civic settings.


And don’t forget to combine isolation with guns all over the house!

September 20th, 2022
New Tripod Sprinkler in the Garden…

… as the season changes and empty spots appear. Saw one in Pier 450‘s bayside garden and decided I wanted one too.

September 18th, 2022
Some kind of orb weaver…

… hangs from its threads inches from my sliding door. Out of focus. Best I could do.

September 18th, 2022
La Kid Turns 32.
September 16th, 2022
Montgomery County, MD: Always Raising the Bar!

Montgomery County Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson had “over 32 bottles of hard liquor in his office where he routinely create[d] mixed drinks and distribute[d] them on a significant scale.” 

September 12th, 2022
A Screech Owl Feather…

… turned up as I raked away dead summer stalks in my pollinator garden. It’s ten inches long.

I’m not surprised to find it. Late afternoon into evening, I often hear owls hooting in the high trees – and we’ve got scads of rabbits and other treats for them.


Update: Okay, a reader tells me it’s too big to be from a screech owl. Back to Google Images. Maybe a hawk?

August 24th, 2022
Finally getting around to preserving this great old poster…

… featuring Mr UD‘s father, who worked with Le Corbusier in Paris. We’re hoping it can be restored to the point where we can frame and hang it.

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