Nearly a Year of Thankfulness

Buckle up for a long read with nearly a year’s worth of postings in one of thankfulness.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I think it is worth mentioning the many things to be thankful for in the most recent months. But, in fact, it’s been nearly a year of thankfulness with trips, family reunions, and gatherings with friends.

Each one of the following mentions is deserving of their own post, in which I may expand upon at a future time, so just summary pics for now.


These are not listed in any real order but here’s the most recent activity, experiencing the Spirit of Autumn exhibit at the ArtTechHouse, where we where just some of the many adults who got to act like kids again. This thankfulness was about leaving your worries behind and remembering what it was like during childhood to experience the simple joy of discovery.

We colored leaves and looked for them to appear on the digital wall while we had an “artini.” Before we took our turn, we watched others dance with leaves in the main space and the side rooms, as well as make magic happen with a liquid-lighted floor that resembled what you see in the commercials for an iPhone 10.


Experiencing Spirit of Autumn at Artechouse

2_OurLeaves Artechouse_1363_AIE

Coloring our leaves

3_ColoringLeave Artechouse_1377_AIE

2nd Batch of our Leaves on ArtIsEverywhere

2nd Batch of our Leaves

watching them appear and fall on the walls_AIE

watching them appear and fall on the walls

watching them appear and fall on the walls_AIE 2 watching them appear and fall on the walls3_AIE Dancing on the leaves on Art Is Everywhere

Making leaves dance on Art Is Everywhere

Making leaves dance

Liquid light floor at Artechouse on ArtIsEverywhere

Enjoying an Artini at Artechouse on ArtIsEverywhere

Enjoying an Artini

Everyone came out of this exhibit smiling as did we. You could just sense the stress of adult issues just melt away.

What needed fun! This is the first digital museum of it’s kind in DC. I’m looking forward to the next Kingdom of Colors exhibit!

October was a month full of thankfulness. We enjoyed visiting 4 different Virginia wineries with friends on two different beautiful fall weekends. This thankfulness was for actual autumn color with crisp weather in the air and friends to enjoy it all with, while leisurely sipping wine with fun conversation.

Wine Tasting Weekends

Barboursville was the first stop on our wine tasting adventure. It is the oldest vineyard in VA and maybe in the country. It was started in colonial days at the time of Thomas Jefferson. Here are the ruins of the original manor house.

Original Barboursville ruins_AIE

Original Barboursville ruins

The present-day winery has a very California feel to it. That was perfect as some of our wine-loving friends used to live in California and know their wines. It’s our goal to do a wine tasting trip with them in Napa one day soon.

Barboursville present winery_AIE

Barboursville’s present winery

After all the wine we sampled here, we came back to our favorite, their Octagon. We happened to have it for our son’s Rehearsal Dinner.

Our favorite Barboursville wine_AIE

Our favorite wine

Barboursville Special aged barrels_AIE

Barboursville special-aged barrels looked picture perfect all lined up

Pearmund was next. We have fond memories here because it is where our families met to enjoy each other’s company the day before Piers graduated from UVA. That was a splendid day then and an all the more welcoming experience now. Families were there playing games. Friends were enjoying the renovated patio with 2 fire burning pits. Love that smell! We enjoyed a picnic and a rare chance to meet the owner and even tamped down the grapes.

Pearmund Winery_AIE

Pearmund vineyard and picnic spot_AIE

Pearmund vineyard & picnic spot

Tamping down the grapes on AIE

Tamping down the grapes

We visited Linden and Green Hill another weekend and boy were we thankful we changed our date to Saturday because it rained all day the following Sunday, which would have been miserable wine-tasting weather.

Linden Vineyards_AIE

Linden Vineyards

Green Hill Winery_AIE

Green Hill Winery

The thankfulness during this trip was that one of our friends is a member of Green Hill. We were lucky to sit upstairs in the Members’ Loft because it was noisy and crowded downstairs.

Green Hill Members Loft with friends_AIE

Members Loft with friends

Green Hill has a chateau down its pasture road that is set up for private wine tastings for members. We visited just to get a glimpse of what a pleasurable time it could be to linger. This entire landscape was very appropriate for the wealthy Middleburg set with horses and all.

Green Hill Members Chateau_AIE

Green Hill Members Chateau

Painted horse at Green Hill_AIE

Painted Horse on the walls of the Green Hill Chateau

Ending this segment by going back to Barboursville with wine tasting friends.

Back to Barboursville with Wine Tasting Friends_AIE

Back to Barboursville with Wine Tasting Friends

The Wharf

In between these two wine weekends, we celebrated the public opening of The Wharf development in DC. Piers had been working extremely hard to complete his project management of the Intercontinental Hotel for Clark Construction. We wanted to witness it first hand. He gave us a special tour.

Intercontinental Hotel at The Wharf_AIE

Intercontinental Hotel at The Wharf

Inside the Intercontinental Hotel Lobby at Wharf_AIE

Inside the Intercontinental Hotel Lobby

Although not all restaurants were open, people were milling about, there was musical, even artistic entertainment as bands played and dance troupes performed throughout the development. Restaurants had their soft openings but there are many more to come, like Kaliwa, which I’m looking forward to. It is part of the EGFG (Eat Good Food Group), primarily comprising of restaurants in Alexandria. This will be their first foray into DC with proven success under their belt in Old Town.

District Wharf_AIE

Looking out over Wharf_AIE

Looking out over the Wharf

Kaliwa restaurant is coming to the Wharf_AIE

Kaliwa is coming

There will be more pics to post about this. Meanwhile, The Canopy Hotel also has a location in this development with their own Central and Rooftop Whiskey bars that I want to check out.

The Canopy Reykjavik hotel happened to be one of the more interesting stays when I took my three-week, Scandinavian-ancestry trip to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday this past June. I’ll post about this later but this was a great destination to end our thankfulness excursion.

The Canopy Reykjavek Lobby_AIE

The Canopy Reykjavek Lobby and snack area

Let me throw in our recent tour of Jos. A. Magnus Whiskey Distillery while whiskey is on my mind.

Joseph A Magnus Whiskey Bottle via Washington Post_AIE

Joseph A Magnus Whiskey Bottle has a pre-prohibition design sensibility (via Washington Post)

We were guests of good friends who purchased the tour as an auction item for their son’s school fundraiser. We were lucky to reap the benefits. Who knew this distillery has roots to my father’s KY home’s Woodford Reserve, or that DC has its own Distillery Trail. This would be worth doing while sampling DC’s best pies along the way. We discovered how much this Ivy City (New York Ave), above  (Noma / North of Massachusettes Avenue) and Atlas neighborhoods, have dramatically changed since we used to take our boys to school nearby.

Joseph A Magnus Tasting Room via Sorrell Design_AIE

Joseph A Magnus Tasting Room via Sorrell Design

It’s hard to believe we experienced most of these things in just November and October. But the summer was not uneventful. There were beaucoup trips that included a 3-week cruise (still writing about in spurts), a family reunion, a family getaway to Rhode Island, and our (6th) annual beach vacation with friends.


Immediately after returning from my June cruise, we took a close-by excursion to have dinner at the Inn at Little Washington in VA, where we were treated to the most exceptional meal I’ve ever had. No wonder Chef Patrick O’Connell’s restaurant gets some of the highest, most-esteemed ratings for food and service. It simply was the best! Our thankfulness goes to our friends for enabling us to experience such perfection. They had also treated us to Métier, also high up on the list.

Dessert at The Inn at Little Washington_AIE

Dessert at The Inn at Little Washington. The only picture I remembered to take!

What would July be without fireworks in DC?! And what better spot than to view on the lawn of The White House. This was a special teat full of thankfulness to our friend who works in the administration.

Fourth of July at The White House_AIE

Most of these folks must be young staffers

Fourth of July at The White House at night_AIE

We always enjoy our trips to visit family in Rhode Island and walk in the Wildlife Refuge. We didn’t see a bobcat this year but did see swans swim into a picturesque photo op.

Trustom Pond Swans_AIE

Trustom Pond Swans

We had other wildlife join us on our hike but perhaps a highlight for human wild-life was a trip to Sons of Liberty Spirits Company to taste their unique whiskey made with beer mash. Family members bellied up to the bar to sample flights in their cool basement-type, rec-room, complete with foosball and pool tables. The whiskey tastings were surprisingly good. I like Uprising and Battlecry the best. We went to the neighborhood liquor store to purchase a small set, that we ended up taking with us to the beach, but they were out of their Apple Flavored Whiskey. It would be wonderful for after-dinner-drinks, particularly in the fall — instead of amaro — for a change. I like their cocktail line up too.  Time to go back because looks like I can’t purchase online!

Sons of Liberty Apple Flavored Whiskey_AIE

via Sons of Liberty

Finally, when Congress gets their summer break, we get ours! Our annual beach vacation to Ocracoke this year included: beautiful scenery, as always; experimental fishing; visiting the mosquito-infested, island and ghost-town of Portsmouth; chatting with locals who remember us;  incredible sunsets; seeing the solar eclipse with the last glasses on the island; and homemade ice cream!

Ocracoke view_AIE

Our Ocracoke view is almost everyday

buck-eye fishing lure_AIE

I caught a puppy drum redfish with a buck-eye fishing lure and then threw it back

Ocracoke Solar Eclipse_AIE

Solar eclipse and we lucked out by finding the last pair of glasses on the island

Miller High Life is truly the King of Beers on a beach trip_AIE

Our enlightenment — why spend so much for craft beers when Miller High Life is truly the King of Beers on a beach trip?! Thankfulness for a cheap good beer!

We were all INCREDIBLY thankful that we took our drop-off-guide’s offer to use his mosquito netting. There’s no one living in this Portsmouth ghost town but if there were, the mosquitos would have killed them! None of us have been attacked so much and not one bite with our protection. I laugh every time I see this picture! 😉

Gearing up for mosquitos on Portmouth Island_AIE

Gearing up for mosquitos on Portsmouth Island and very thankful for netting!

Artistic map displaying the importance of Portsmouth_AIE

Artistic map displaying the importance of Portsmouth

Making ice cream_AIE

Making ice cream

Thankful for happiness & homemade ice cream_AIE

Thankful for happiness & homemade ice cream

We have such thankfulness that our friend puts his gourmet talents to good use and does all the cooking!

celery gets star treatment_AIE

Even celery can get star treatment if cut correctly = beautiful

Ocracoke Sunsets_AIE

Thankful for sunsets

Gulf Shores, Alabama proved to be the optimal place for a family reunion. My sister organized and was able to find a house that had 10 bedrooms and right on the dunes. All of my siblings with their families and our mother were able to make it — except our boys now that they are independent and in the working world.

Gulf Shores house_AIE

The first floor you see here is really the 2nd floor balcony.

Other things for thankfulness: Good thing we left right before hurricane Nate and despite the she-crabs laying their eggs where you couldn’t see when you stepped in the water or stinging jellyfish, I’m extremely thankful I wasn’t shark bait!

We walked into the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge on the beach side of the peninsula but decided since we didn’t have our cell phones we wouldn’t continue because of “Gator” Lake and the dunes were so large on either side that we could have been walking into a death trap. Hmmm, best to not take that chance. But then, who knew blacktip sharks could maneuver so fast with sharp left turns, in the blink of an eye and in just one and a half feet of water!! I almost became shark food when I got in the water here. Fortunately, Peter was standing on a dune so he could see the sharks that I did not. He yelled at me to get out fast as they headed my way.

Gulf Shores view every morning from our balcony_AIE

Our Gulf Shores view every morning from our balcony

Large size Gulf Shore fish_AIE

No kidding! Thankful for artistic renderings of large size Gulf Shore fish

Cobia fish catch on Gulf Shore pier_AIE

Witnessing a cobia fish catch on the town pier (click on #2 in the map of the Gulf Shores hyperlink above to see the full pier)

Blacktip sharks below the Gulf Shores pier wait for chum_AIE

Blacktip sharks below the pier waiting for chum (and people bait most likely…)

gorgeous Gulf Shores sunset_AIE

gorgeous Gulf Shores sunset

Before putting a sunset on our Gulf Shores reunion, what would a trip to what is affectionately known as the “redneck riviera” be if we didn’t swing by the Flora-Bama bar with the best drinks ever! The bar is located on the state line between Florida and Alabama, hence its clever name. We had to wait for the cop halting traffic so large groups of people could cross the highway to go to the main bar to participate in the Assembly of God Church. It was 10 am on a Sunday after all. Many had beer cups in their hands… We popped in the dockside bar to get our fill before driving to the airport. What a trip!

Floribama Bar with Best drinks_AIE

Floribama Bar & Best drinks!

Yes, you might gather there is a lot of drinking going on within these posts…Well, what can I say, I’m from New Orleans!

Despite the latest health report claiming that there is a 50% increase to get head and neck and other cancers for those who drink more than one alcoholic drink or glass of wine a day (this is a moderate drinker), I typically don’t drink during the week. But when celebrations occur and the weekend is here, I say, “Life is too short not to live it and with cocktails!”

Thankfulness continues for cocktails and cats!

It was this time last year when we adopted our Main Coon Cat kitten, Ingrid. She’s now about a year and a half old and she and Ingmar get along well. It’s been fun to see them chase after one another like a tag, you’re it game and hear them romp through the house, even in the wee hours of the night. They are happy > we are happy. I have much thankfulness for a good year!!

What long paws Ingrid has_AIE

What long paws Ingrid has

cat and clivia blossoms_AIE

Ingmar stops to smell the clivia flowers. I’m thankful mine bloomed and that I now know how to control fungus gnats that almost destroyed them.

Cats enjoy watching birds_AIE

Cats exhibit the art of birdwatching

Wishing you all the best for your Thanksgiving!


Fall & Rise

A lot has happened since I last posted, the shocking shooting in Las Vegas and three deadly hurricanes as well as raging California wildfires, among other things. Since these events and my last post, I have noticed a fall and rise of human interaction and with Nature.

I apologize for not posting sooner. Unfortunately, there has been some technical website issues that have prevented me from posting. I’m still troubleshooting the exact cause but for fear of adding to the overage of CPU (central processing units) used by my websites on my new hosting provider’s server, which enables my websites to function, I had to temporarily stop logging into and using the sites — including this one. This happened to be right in the middle of a fundraising effort for hurricane relief. For this reason, this post will be short (and hopefully sweet).

The Las Vegas tragedy hit America and the world hard. It is just hard to fathom how someone can willingly do such harm to others.

Rather than dwell on the “fall” of human behavior or the destruction in the wake of three devastating hurricanes, I’d rather focus on the rise part.

The Rise Festival that took place recently in the Mojave dessert, on the outskirts of Vegas brings healing. The spectacle of the rising lanterns is stunning. The knowledge of so many participants coming together to make it happen is uplifting and hopeful.

Rise Festival_AIE


Had I been younger and more energetic as in my hip-pier youth; although not a “hippie,” I would have loved to attend and participate….Next year? 😉

I am encouraged to see the many efforts to help those impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria start to make a difference and people rising to the occasion and working together.

This mysterious meterorlogical phenomena was mentioned in the newspaper just this week. I’m not sure if a “cloud” of butterflies has been seen before but I thought in light of current events and as many times as I’ve written about butterflies that maybe it’s an appropriate sign that things are looking up. Or if anything, it helps to show that Nature remains never fully understood by man:

A lacy, cloud-like pattern drifting across a Denver-area radar screen turned out to be a 70-mile-wide (110-kilometer) wave of butterflies, forecasters say.


Cloud of butterflies on AIE

via Washington Post from The National Weather Service

Here’s a pretty, perfectly named “painted lady” for you:

Fall and rise of painted lady butterfly_AIE