Inspired by Life

Thursday, April 25, 2013

National Postal Museum - Systems at Work

A mail carriage in the 1800s
The National Postal Museum has been on my list of places to see since we first moved to DC. Despite the fact that it is across the street from Union Station and I have walked by it a hundred times, I had not stepped in.  Today, I decided that it was time to take a break, stretch my legs, and shake of the stupor of  family history that had engulfed me for the last three days, and go outside to enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful spring weather. So, I called up my friend, Paola, and we took the Metro into the city.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Family History

Have you ever wondered where you come from? What were your ancestors like? Where did they live? What did they do for a living? Where did they migrate to? Do you have things in common with them? Were you named after one of your great grandparents, or aunts or uncles? What were they like? I have wondered these things often and because I come from a family rich in verbal history of the past, this desire was always kept alive.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Harpers Ferry, WV

" Almost heaven. West Virginia." ~ John Denver

I agree wholeheartedly with Denver. He could not have described it more accurately. Harpers Ferry Road leading up to the town of Harpers Ferry was gorgeous and green, with lush, wooded terrain on both sides of the road, tall, imposing trees filled with fresh, new green leaves. It is breathtaking and hard to stay focused on the road as one wants to look from side to side and take in the sights, hoping they remain in one's memory forever.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

Natural History Museum - Prehistoric & Ocean Life

I love visiting the Smithsonian museums. They have the most interesting exhibits and one can spend quite a lot of time there, perusing these items, and losing track of time. One such exhibit was the Ocean and Prehistoric Life exhibit that included ancient fossils. I have to say, however, after all the walking around we did in DC that day, I felt like an ancient fossil myself! Nevertheless, it is always wonderful to experience something new and learn something new. The Natural History Museum has some incredible displays and is informative enough to make you want to learn more. Here are some things that were part of this exhibit. If you get a chance to visit, the prehistoric exhibit is quite impressive!

Natural History Museum - Gems & Geology

The first time I went to the Natural History Museum was to see the Hope Diamond. And it did not disappoint. This time, Adam and Jessica wanted to go to the same place to see the same thing. Only, Adam, an engineer who works in geological surveys, was surprised to see the immense collection at the  museum, that he declared he could spend all day at just that exhibit. I have to agree with him. It is quite stunning! Enjoy!

The Petersen House

It was a good thing, in a way, that the Fords Theater Museum was closed due to a show, or else, I would never have thought about crossing the street and walking through the Petersen house—the house where Abraham Lincoln died.  The whole tour of the house takes about five minutes if you just walk through each room quickly. For people like me, it took a bit longer, as I love to take photos and get a feel for the place where history took place. I love Abraham Lincoln and this was a special place to be in. So I savored every moment and thought I had at the time.

Walk around Tidal Basin

It is always fun discovering your city through the eyes of a tourist! Although, since I walk around the city with my camera bag permanently slung across my shoulders, I am always mistaken for a tourist. I love it! Adam and Jessica have had loads of fun walking through Old Town Alexandria at night, going to the Washington DC Temple, and taking in the night lights of the White House. They also spent some time at the Arlington Cemetery and Mt. Vernon. Listening to them share their experiences made me fall more in love with where I live.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The White House

Adam and Jessica explored DC on their own today and loved it! They spent the morning traversing Mt. Vernon, and in the afternoon, they visited Arlington Cemetery to watch the changing of the guards. Later that evening, Aaron and I met them for dinner in Arlington at Kabob Express. The food was delicious and the company was great, despite the fact that it took me 15 minutes to find parking. Once we had consumed enough food to feed an army, we drove to the White House. Due to the Boston Marathon event, the part of Penn Ave where we usually get to take pictures was taped off, so we had to stand across the street to see the house and take pictures. Incidentally, a lovely couple from Boston took this photo of us. Isn't Jessica just the cutest preggo mommy?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Washington DC Temple

For the temple is a house of God. A place of love and beauty.

The drive to the Washington DC Temple is beautiful as you wind through tree-lined streets, and hear the birds chirp and see the lush greenery. It was a gorgeous spring day and the perfect day for a trip to the most peaceful place on earth - the temple. I don't take advantage of this privilege as often as I should and I resolved yesterday that I would from now on.  

The cares of the world lifted away instantly when I walked through the doors of this holy place. It is quiet and lovely and a place to reflect, ponder, and pray. A place to come closer to my Heavenly Father. Being able to go to the temple with family made it an even sweeter experience. Aaron's sister, Jessica, and her husband, Adam, went to the temple, as well. And we had a lovely time participating in things together.  

The Washington DC Temple is a huge temple and is actually located in Maryland. It stands 288 ft tall, which makes it taller than the Salt Lake Temple.  It is also quite large in terms of square footage, measuring approximately 160,000 sq ft in floor space. The temple sits in the middle of a heavily wooded site but because of its size, you cannot miss it when you are driving on the freeway. Its spires seem to reach the skies! Read more about it here.

The architecture you see on the exterior of the temple is modeled after the temple in Salt Lake. It has six spires with the three on the left representing the Melchizedek Priesthood and its presidencies, and the three on the right representing the Aaronic Priesthood and the bishopric. I didn't notice this before but realized that the spires are all at different elevations, which gives them a unique look as you walk around the temple. 

I learned that are very few temples around the world that have this particular type of Angel Moroni statue at the top of the tallest tower of the temple. This statue is holding a depiction of the gold plates from which The Book of Mormon was translated.  It is 18 ft tall, weighs two and a half tons, is sculpted in bronze and covered in gold leaf. It was cast in Italy and sculpted by Avard Fairbanks of Salt Lake City, Utah.  You can see a picture of it here

The interior is nothing but the best for a house of God and is immaculate in its adornments and furniture. The temple is filled with symbolism and every little thing has so much meaning in it. It will take us a lifetime and more to figure out all the symbolism in the temple, which is why we are asked to visit often and learn of God in His very house. The paintings in the temple are spectacular and invite you to join in the joy that Christ shares with those who follow Him. I feel embraced in God's love when I enter His holy house and I want to remain within its walls forever. 

The exterior of the temple and its surrounding grounds receive equal attention to detail as the interior. The landscaping is always stunning. The flowers, trees, and shrubs are chosen to specifically create a garden of beauty that welcomes you to stay and appreciate God's creations. They are precisely laid out so that the temple is the focal point of all things, and all things lead to the temple.  On the temple grounds, also, stands one of the biggest Visitors' Centers I have ever seen. It is beautiful and filled with information about the temple and its history and origin. Missionaries for the church serve within its walls and help people learn more about our faith and the temple.  Here is a model of the temple inside the Visitors' Center and the actual temple behind in through the glass walls. 

The Visitors' Center is home to one of my favorite statues of Christ - The Christus. It is what I imagine Christ will look like when he comes again.  Read a bit about it here

As I strolled through the Visitors' Center, I came across this picture titled Special Witnesses of Christ, and immediately fell in love with it. It is a picture of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. These men are inspired and their words and actions impact my life for good in a big way. 

Every six months, we (Latter-day Saints) come together to listen to the words of our prophet, Thomas S Monson, and these apostles. We are uplifted, have prayers answered, and gain strength from the teachings of the gospel centered on Christ and his life. General Conference is a special and holy time for us and as I have shared the messages with other friends, who are not of my faith, I realize that they are touched by them equally and find comfort and counsel in the messages just as I do. 

Whenever you get some free time, take a drive to the temple and walk around its beautiful grounds, and then pop into the Visitors' Center. Some lovely people will help you learn more and feel the Spirit of Christ. It was an enjoyable day for me and I am sure it will be for you, too! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Old Town Alexandria

It was wonderful to walk the streets of Old Town at dusk. It is one of our favorite places to stroll and it was added fun to share that with Adam & Jessica Wadsworth.  Beautiful Jessica is Aaron's sister and this is officially the first time we have had family visit us in our new home!

We love Old Town Alexandria and felt that this would be a bit easy on them after a day of flying. The weather was perfect, and the waterfront was gorgeous - people enjoying the breeze wafting off the water, dogs relaxing beside their owners chairs, families seated on the benches taking in the night lights. It was wonderful and Adam and Jessica loved it.  What's not to love about Old Town?

We stopped by Pat Troy's Irish restaurant to dive into some delicious bread pudding.  It really is that good! We walked around the town square and took in all the sights.

I love an Old Town stroll! With family, it makes it more special :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Food w/ Friends

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.” 
― Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

Yesterday evening, we had invited a group of people from our new ward (church unit) to dinner and it was a blast! Of course, we had Indian food for dinner. I made biriyani, channa masala, garlic naans, and chicken tikka masala. All I can say is we had no leftovers!!! I loved it!

Rachel & Regan Brough, Janaya & Burton Rampton, and Heather & Jeremy Oldham. Seriously, I could not have picked a better Indian food lovers group than this one. We laughed and talked our heads off, shared stories of how we met, kept asking each other to pass the food around, and could not stop ourselves from gorging on the food till it was almost all gone.

Janaya and Burton Rampton brought along their little bundle of joy, Easton, who performed some tricks for us once we included him in the dinner. He was feeling a bit left out and made his presence known.  :) His best impressions are of a turtle and an elephant. Actually, Janaya does the best impression of an elephant I have ever heard!

The Broughs brought some awesome lemon soufflé with raspberries for dessert and we licked those bowls clean! The Oldhams brought some fizzy drinks that got passed around quite a bit as well. I was a bit like an Italian mama and kept pushing food on everyone and no one refused. :D I, also, packed up the remaining food in to-go containers and sent it home with them.

It was a fun time and I hope we get together again soon.  A fun time was had by all!

Cherry Blossoms

Spring is a beautiful time of year in Washington, DC. One of our favorite things to do during this time is to see the cherry blossoms burst in bloom all over the city! This year, although the spring weather seems to be missing, the cherry blossoms did not disappoint! Tourists from all over the world descend on DC during this time. Walking along the Tidal Basin, I must have heard at least 10 different languages being spoken. The sun was out and scorching, the folks were out in droves, cameras slung around their neck and children in strollers, all out to enjoy the beauty that is the cherry blossom. A cool breeze and the gorgeous flowers made it a worthwhile trip to the city. I love living here!

For those who are local and have not made it to see these incredible blossoms, do so now. For those who do not live here, please enjoy the photos and comment if you feel so inclined.

Unfinished Composition by Elder Boyd K Packer

I had a thought the other night,
A thought profound and deep.
It came when I was too worn down,
Too tired to go to sleep.
I’d had a very busy day
And pondered on my fate.
The thought was this:
When I was young, I wasn’t 68!
I could walk without a limp;
I had no shoulder pain.
I could read a line through twice
And quote it back again.
I could work for endless hours
And hardly stop to breathe.
And things that now I cannot do
I mastered then with ease.
If I could now turn back the years,
If that were mine to choose,
I would not barter age for youth,
I’d have too much to lose.
I am quite content to move ahead,
To yield my youth, however grand.
The thing I’d lose if I went back
Is what I understand.
Ten years later, I decided to add a few more lines to that poem:
Ten years have flown to who knows where
And with them much of pain.
A metal hip erased my limp;
I walk quite straight again.
Another plate holds neck bones fast—
A wonderful creation!
It backed my polio away;
I’ve joined the stiff-necked generation.
The signs of aging can be seen.
Those things will not get better.
The only thing that grows in strength
With me is my forgetter.
You ask, “Do I remember you?”
Of course, you’re much the same.
Now don’t go getting all upset
If I can’t recall your name.
I would agree I’ve learned some things
I did not want to know,
But age has brought those precious truths
That make the spirit grow.
Of all the blessings that have come,
The best thing in my life
Is the companionship and comfort
I get from my dear wife.
Our children all have married well,
With families of their own,
With children and grandchildren,
How soon they all have grown.
I have not changed my mind one bit
About regaining youth.
We’re meant to age, for with it
Comes a knowledge of the truth.
You ask, “What will the future bring?
Just what will be my fate?”
I’ll go along and not complain.
Ask when I’m 88!
And last year I added these lines:
And now you see I’m 88.
The years have flown so fast.
I walked, I limped, I held a cane,
And now I ride at last.
I take a nap now and again,
But priesthood power remains.
For all the physical things I lack
There are great spiritual gains.
I have traveled the world a million miles
And another million too.
And with the help of satellites,
My journeys are not through.

I now can say with all certainty
That I know and love the Lord.
I can testify with them of old
As I preach His holy word.
I know what He felt in Gethsemane
Is too much to comprehend.
I know He did it all for us;
We have no greater Friend.
I know that He will come anew
With power and in glory.
I know I will see Him once again
At the end of my life’s story.
I’ll kneel before His wounded feet;
I’ll feel His Spirit glow.
My whispering, quivering voice will say,
“My Lord, my God, I know.”1
And I do know!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dolphins in Long Beach, CA

A long overdue return to my blog. I have stockpiled blog entries of the last couple of weeks and need to start updating this space. Having returned from an awesome vacation to Southern California on Saturday, in the wee hours of the morning, I am still adjusting to the time change and catching up on selecting, deleting and editing photos. I worked on this batch of photos tonight and thought I should get it out here before it was too late :D

These were taken on a 2.5 hour whale watching tour in Long Beach, CA on April 5th. We hardly saw any whales and were starting to get very disappointed, when a massive pod of dolphins descended around our boat, and we were mesmerized! It was a sight to behold—one I will not easily forget. They were everywhere - so playful, graceful, and splashing around. Completely at ease with a huge boat full of ogling humans and their cameras flashing off at breakneck speed, the dolphins raced through the water in front of, around, and under our boat and gave us a show to remember.

These are a few of my favorites. Enjoy!