Friday, February 20, 2009


As promised, here are the photos that I submitted in my "Eye of the Photographer" class last night. Our assignment was texture. In an effort to capture images that highlight texture (essentially pictures that you can look at and intrinsically know what the subject feels like), I shot about 200-250 photos around the house and at the National Zoo, where Jamie, Tracy and I went on a photographic safari on Monday morning.

The first five are those that I submitted for evaluation (the first picture was the class' favorite of my submissions, albeit in need of some photoshop editing), and those after that are bonuses of my trip to the zoo (the pandas were being particularly photogenic).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Photographic Evolution, Part I

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, I am taking a photography class. It's at the Arlington Arts Center on Thursday evenings, and I am taking it with two gals from law school, Jamie and Tracy. Last week was my first class, and in the days and hours leading up to it, I found myself feeling an odd mix of excitement and nerves.

After four years of grad school-- of higher learning in law and tax, no less-- it's an ungraded, just-for-kicks "Eye of the Photographer" class that gets me all nervous? Yeah, I don't know. Law school forces you to leave all of your impractical and creative (God forbid!) pursuits at the door. When you finish, you take the Bar, and when you recover from that, you're (hopefully) employed (or in this economy, frantically searching for employment, which is in itself a full-time job). When you adjust to "life after law school," you start to wonder what in the world you used to do with your time. Back before my brain was ransacked by professors the equivalent of medieval torturers, what did I enjoy? I seem to remember that I was creative. That I enjoyed reading, and writing, and crafting things....

So the mix of giddiness and fright before my first photography class was the result of not having purposefully channeled my right brain since before I knew what "judgement notwithstanding verdict" means. The challenge is to dust off the cobwebs and see what's in there.

My first class was awesome. The instructor is a professional photographer, for whom photography was first a hobby and then a third or fourth career. There are 15 people in the class, all for different reasons and yet the same. At the end of eight weeks, the goal is to have two photos that represent our improvement over the course of the class-- "Two Great Pictures" -- matted and put on display for our class to celebrate.

I thought I might share my evolution here. For that first class, we had to bring five of our "best pictures" so far. So I'll first post the ones I submitted last week. Then each week we are given an assignment, expected to take the equivalent of one to two rolls of film, and then submit our five best for class review. Each week, I will post my progress (or at least my efforts to progress). This makes me a little nervous, since I am afraid that I will not progress at all beyond the "Auto" function on the camera-- that my right brain is beyond resuscitation. But then again, I have no evidence that more than five people even read this, so I guess it's not that scary after all.


These were taken over a one-year period, from our trip to France, through recent experimentation with the new DSLR. Notice all of the nature and things-that-generally-stay-still-while-I-find-the-perfect-shot. I'm hoping to move up to people soon....

Bret Update: A week from RIGHT NOW, he'll be done with the Bar and it can't come soon enough. He's putting in 12 hours a day at the GMU library this week, leaving me home with Elsa to job hunt and generally keep our household and our life in order. I'm looking forward to having my husband back!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

Looking back, my Sunday was a "Day of Food." And not in a holiday grazing sort of way, where you have to loosen your belt, but in a pure enjoyment sense. It was a gorgeous day outside and I unintentionally spent my entire day eating good food, as well as taking in plenty of food-related sights and smells without the disastrous caloric intake.

On Sunday morning, I dropped Bret off bright and early for his full-day practice multi-state exam (which he then proceeded to ROCK!), and headed to Luna Grill for brunch and good conversation with my friend Heather. I've been to Luna half a dozen times or so, since it is just down the hill from us in Shirlington Village, and so have been aware of what a gem Luna is for quite some time. I'm a huge fan of their Eggs Benedict & Home Fries, topped off with several cups of coffee (something about diners makes me drink a week's worth of coffee in one sitting). Since it was Heather's first visit, I am under the impression that you might find more of a "first impression"-type review over on her blogspot.

After brunch, Heather and I headed over to Penzeys Spices in Falls Church. I have passed the place a million times and had no idea what joys lay inside. All kinds of spices, and spice mixes- for chili, bread dipping, baking, rubbing... Unfortunately, I stocked up on the few spices I knew we needed when I made a recent pilgrimage to Wegman's, but it is comforting to know that the next time I need something for the spice rack, it's just a hop-skip-and-a-route-7-traffic-jam away.

After Penzeys, I headed back into Arlington to pick up Bret and enjoy the last couple of hours of a gorgeous day walking hand-in-hand with my husband through Georgetown. (Apparently I was not the only one to have this idea, as there were about a billion people milling about in the dwindling sunlight.) I also thought I could revive Bret's law-soaked senses with a trip to Dean & Deluca. While we barely escaped without buying any of the fresh fruit, deliciously stinky cheese, gourmet prepared food, and brightly colored candy, we simply enjoyed ducking in from the busy sidewalk to take in the sights and smells.

On Sunday night, Bret took a break from studying for a late dinner at Bastille, a little French bistro near the water in Alexandria. I used the occasion as an excuse for my first contribution to Tasting Serendipity, and you can check it out here.
The funny thing is that I didn't realize how food-centric that entire day was until I sat down to discuss it here. I just knew it was a wonderful day. Just goes to show what makes me happy: good conversation, quality time with my husband, spring weather, and Food.

And in one last food-related note, though not on Sunday, I tried this recipe for the Braised Beef Shortribs that I bought at Wegman's a couple of weeks ago. And IT. WAS. DELICIOUS. Due to the annoyingly sparse availability of both veal stock and demi glace, I substituted beef stock with no apparent sacrifice in the taste of the final product. We whipped up a batch of way-too-rich mashed potatoes to go with it, but I think it may have been better served by a loaf of crusty bread instead (to sop up even more of the tasty sauce). This is one of the rare occasions where I am actually excited about leftovers tonight.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy New...errrr....February!

Hellooooooooooooooo! Is anybody out theeeeeeeeeeere?

If anyone out there is still checking, I apologize for the absence. It's not that I've been too busy to blog, so I won't even attempt that excuse. The truth of the matter is that I haven't felt that I have much to blog ABOUT (and Bret has, legitimately, been too busy to blog, and you probably don't want to hear about the world of corporate tax and bar-studying anyway).

But all of that will change, my friends. Being, as I recently saw it put, "the opposite of employed," I have come to the realization that I should somehow enjoy this time. I mean, sure, I am applying and searching and generally soliciting my legal services for employment, but what I have decided to give up is the time spent fretting about it. Because I will find a job, and we are not starving, and it will do no good to worry. (In the words of a wise sort-of-US-Senator, "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggoneit, people like me!")

I have finished my college scrapbook that I started in June 2004. I'm slowly making progress in my "Books I've Been Wanting to Read" list, thanks in part to a newly-acquired Arlington Public Library System Card. I'm registered for a photography class that starts next week. And as for culinary pursuits, I've teamed up with my friend Carmen to "guest star" on her blog, Tasting Serendipity. I am hoping that will inspire me to cook more new and interesting things (maybe even actually use the shelf-full of cookbooks we've managed to acquire), and speak up about the restaurants we try (it is almost Restaurant Week, after all!).

As for Bret, pray for his soul. If you remember MY state of mind studying for the Colorado Bar last summer, imagine Bret working full-time at a brand new job and doing the same. Except in Virginia. A Commonwealth, with its silly little Commonwealth idiosyncracies. I wish I could unload part of his burden, but aside from caring for Elsa, keeping the house in order, and keeping him fed and watered, all I can do is reassure him that his suffering is finite.

The point is that we're back, folks. Or I'm back at least, and reporting that Bret is still alive and well. Well, alive, anyway. And I'm going to blog more. And you're going to read it. OK?