Tag Archives: Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

Today (EST)

About thirty minutes ago I gave myself the choice of spending the afternoon finishing Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, watching an afternoon NFL football game, or–now that summer appears over–putting up some final summer flower photos.  I think the novel is wonderful, but it is too emotionally challenging for me today.  I love football, but I was in the stands when Michigan beat Maryland yesterday; that is enough.  So, I am posting some photos. With them, I send my (still) hopeful wishes for us all.

tulip poplar flower, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

pitcher plant, Bartholdi Park, Washington, DC

Dutchman’s pipe vine, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, Washington, DC

bee on phlox, Mt. Cuba Center, Hockessin, Delaware


unidentified, June 14, 2019

at the National Arboretum, Washington, DC

pickerel weed, Punderson State Park, Ohio

pinkweed, Punderson State Park, Ohio

pussy ears, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, Washington, DC

toad lilies, Bartholdi Park, Washington, DC

swamp titi (Cyrilla racemiflora), USBG Regional Garden, Washington, DC

Spring 2019

Although it has been 74 days since I lasted posted an article, I have not  been hibernating. It was more like being in a fitful sleep full of bad dreams: children in cages, floods in the countryside,  the demise of civil discourse, and lies, lies, lies. That’s in the night and also when I compulsively check the latest news throughout the day. Otherwise, Tom and I take lots of walks.

A Good Sign Every day for the last four days I have caught myself sounding like my mother.  When she was happily focused on a task, my mother sometimes vocalized a low, mostly tuneless, hum.  It seemed to be the sound of contentment. I have been humming as I work around the condo and as I pull up invasive weeds in the nearby parks.

Spring has come to the Washington, DC area.  Everywhere I walk, I see extravagant and exuberant beauty. I see the beauty not only in the flowers, but also in the commuters, the joggers, the protesters, the school groups, and other visitors to the capital city.

I try to look at the glass as half full. Some days and weeks–especially in our current social and political climate–that is difficult for me. Thinking about my mother and walking through the springtime helps restore my optimism. Below are some photos from recent walks. Happy Spring.

purple pansies

Spring, U.S. Botanic Gardens

Four Mile Run, Arlington, Virginia

REDress Project, National Museum of the American Indian*

hillside, Belvedere Park, Arlington, Virginia

pink tulips

American hollies, Rosslyn

early azaelas

Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

hellebore, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

redbud, U.S. Botanic Garden

Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building

dwarf fothergilla

tulips and a dandelion

Virginia Bluebells, U.S. Botanic Garden

in the neighborhood

  • You can find more information about the REDress Project here.




Autumn in Washington, DC

All day I have enjoyed watching the rain, sleet, and snow through my living room window.  I love such weather–if now more on paper than by actually venturing outside in it.  Today mostly, though, I have been thinking of flowers, trees, and the other parts of nature that give me solace.

It has been a challenging fall here in the capital area, and in many other places.  Flowers for family and friends, for the Carolinas, for Pittsburgh, for California, for the separated parents and children, for Bears Ears, for the sick, the hungry, and the lonely.  As a secular humanist agnostic, I don’t exactly pray, but I do remain hopeful (mostly).  I send good vibes. I mutter or whisper or chant: May you be well, may you be happy, may you have peace.  At least, here are some flowers:

"Plum Perfect" floridbunda, Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden

“Plum Perfect” floridbunda, Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden

bumblebee, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

bumblebee, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

giant American elm near the National Museum of Natural Histor

giant American elm near the National Museum of Natural History

crepe myrtle, Gotelli Collection, National Arboretum

crepe myrtle, Gotelli Collection, National Arboretum

sweetgum leaves, Gotelli Collection, National Arboretum

sweetgum leaves, Gotelli Collection, National Arboretum

rose in front of Arts and Industries

garden, National Gallery of Art

garden, National Gallery of Art


toad lily, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

toad lily, Mary Liivingston Ripley Garden

woodpecker, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

woodpecker, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

glade, National Arboretum

glade, National Arboretum

Gotelli Collection, National Aroretum

Gotelli Collection, National Aroretum



morning, Gotelli Collection, National Arboretum

November 2017: Some Sentences and Photographs

On Halloween I missed my self-imposed deadline for publishing a post in October.  Fall is my favorite time of year and October is my favorite month.  This time of year, I tend to think long and (vaguely) literary thoughts and I want to write. I want to write, but I give myself excuses why I haven’t written. Tom and I have been busy putting our new home together. Also, we recently traveled to Salt Lake City to visit dear friends from back in those Arizona and Utah days. Time is passing, and not as slowly as it did up there in the mountains. We feel a strong need to see those we love. We also recently traveled to Pittsburgh to see our son, Robert, and his family. Then it was on to Shaker Heights to visit with two of my brothers and our dear sisters-in-law. More excuses: Plus, it was mostly too hot here to feel like fall. Plus, I spent too much time reading the political news, signing petitions to save Bears Ears, and worrying about the future of our democracy as our laws, our ethics, and  our social contract shred before our eyes. So, the good ideas came and went while I couldn’t settle enough to write coherent paragraphs that seemed true. I think I can  string some sentences together, though.  I think I took some okay photos, so I am adding them below, too.


Usually, I am content to have memories of my parents just flit in out of my consciousness. In my mind, there is my mom, teaching me how to make the pie dough. There’s my dad, tying the laces of my ice skates. Different scenes come and go and they are almost all happy. However, when the days shorten and we head toward winter and the holidays, I am the youngest again, the baby sister, and I need my mother and father and the others who have gone.

I work on living in the present. I am better at it than I used to be. For many years I was angry that I couldn’t protect my children from the sadness and pain of life. I had a bad case of hubris. Now, I understand my limitations more. To those I love, I just say–in my mind–“I love you and I wish you well.”

Like my brother, Roger, gone these six years now, I feel lucky: lucky in my husband, lucky in my children, lucky in my friends. Also: the trees, the flowers, the aquatic macroinvertebrates, North Rim, and cold nights camping not alone.

To calm me down from the news, I am trying to get back into my deep breathing. Sometimes Tom and I walk ten miles a day.

When I was 17, I thought we could end war. I thought that we would feed the hungry children. I thought we could come together right then.  I thought we would work together to save our planet.  Oddly, even now, even here–a 2.7 mile walk from my condo to The White House–I remain hopeful.

You may see this old woman at the marches or maybe we will meet on the ramparts one day, but I still believe in my deep core that the glass is half-full. Happy Fall.


wasp (I don't know what variety)

wasp (I don’t know what variety)

cafe, National Gallery of Art

cafe, National Gallery of Art

Romanesco broccoli at the Rosslyn Farmers Market

Romanesco broccoli at the Rosslyn Farmers Market

greens from Kate's yard

greens from Kate’s yard

Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

American elm (Ulmus americana) in front of the Museum of Natural History

American elm (Ulmus americana) in front of the Museum of Natural History

Columbia Gardens Cemetery, November 1, 2017

Columbia Gardens Cemetery, November 1, 2017

Evening in Rosslyn

Evening in Rosslyn

my mother's muffin tin; my pumpkin muffins

my mother’s muffin tin; my pumpkin muffins