August: Heat, Humidity, Escape

Summer in the DC area can be described in one word: stifling. It is hot, but more importantly incredibly humid. Nearly every day you can look to the horizon and see the pillar-like clouds begin to form sometime in the late afternoon — which means it’s nearly certain that a storm will race through at some point, and we’ll have to watch the sky carefully if we really want to head to the pool. On this particular August scorcher, the sky is completely covered, thunder is beginning to roll in the background and the columns of spiky storm clouds are gathered — it’s like the DC-summer storm trifecta. img_20190815_153952

The only thing you can do, should you be trapped in or near the city during the summer is seek out those spots that have some sort of breeze or some sort of tree cover. The gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown provides just such a respite — lush gardens with plenty of trees, nooks and crannies to hide out in for awhile and a FREE museum that is filled with Byzantine and Pre-Columbian treasures in a remarkably well-cooled and designed space. My suggestion is to visit the garden first, sweat, and then head inside to enjoy the chilled air so that you can brace yourself for a quick run to the bus on Wisconsin Avenue before the late afternoon storm cracks its first lightening strike.

The heat may be unrelenting when walking the gardens (and picnics are prohibited), but the garden will draw you in from the Orangery (with orange trees) upon entry to the garden-of-delight swimming pool and surrounding grounds that make you wonder just whom you know that is going to have a party here that you can attend. With this beautiful thought foremost in your mind, you’ll be ready to wander down the short staircase to visually melt into the sunflower gardens — that appear at once wild, yet English in the neat rows but overgrown in a completely French manner.

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Escape to the flowers, even with unbearable humidity that bears down on your skin with its weight and oppression — the flowers remain hopeful. Fall is coming.

 

Softball Muffins

img_20190421_080832When you think of signature morning rituals in New York, bagels are what most often come to mind. But within every bagel and coffee shop, there are the others — the softball sized muffins that can be found nowhere else I’ve traveled. While these muffins rival the Costco version — these bagel-shop muffins are most often right out of the oven and lack (for the good) the Costco mass-production taste and squishy feel.

This carrot raisin muffin from H & H Bagels on 2nd Avenue is gloriously NY. It’s sturdy, carrots but not too many (as with the raisins), and a little bit spicy much like 2nd Avenue itself — a working muffin for a working avenue of uptown/downtown traffic that wakes slowly…then bam we’re off and running headlong into the day. If you get in early enough, you’ll find no lines and you can breeze in and out of H & H — much like just about any place in the City; wait too long and the line is out to the winter-weather vestibule or beyond.

The beauty of the NY muffin carries into the future — smart shoppers will pick up a weekend’s supply so that sleeping late on day two is possible. Never flat, and resistant to the deflation many baked goods suffer during a microwave spin, the NY muffin continues to stand tall like many beloved buildings that surround H & H. Perhaps this is due to the careful brown paper wrapping each muffin receives before heading out into all kinds of weather that the City dishes up, and perhaps it’s just resilience in a munchable form. Whatever the reason, the NY muffin offers a slightly sweet and textured way to start the day — while I love a hot bagel, the muffin is not just an “also there” of the bagel shop — it’s a full-fledged member of the bagel shop team.

Finding Etsy Again

IMG_20171007_124737.jpgI was an early Etsy adopter, at least I think I was — as a new mom I was looking for ways to still take a few photos, and maybe even sell a few. Yes, photography is inherently difficult to sell; but it also provided a little time away, outside, as I figured out my new professional life and what that even meant. The challenge with Etsy, okay one challenge for me, was finding a way to market items and keep a stock of photos that were printed, matted, and ready-to-ship or sell at local shows — the investment alone was daunting. It became clear at my last craft show, when a lady with homemade pickles was selling more than I, that maybe this whole deal was not for me — a Property Brothers moment of realism with the sunshine rays radiating out from my head. I needed a plan, a direction, a different market than competing with the pickle lady (make no mistake, I do genuinely enjoy pickles).

Fast forward nearly seven years — still no real plan. But, Etsy has evolved like most technologies and today offers the option to sell digital downloads — yet another aha moment when I discovered this glory. After a chunk of time away, I’m back — and hopeful. The market for photography of any kind is brimming over with talented photographers — my few photos are just a blip on the screen. But this option, the digital world option, streamlines my own process — and that’s all I will be focused on; yes, there are more talented photographers, much the same as there are writers whose skills and talents surpass mine when it comes to both prose and teaching. My plan has evolved from trying to learn how to produce a supply chain, albeit sporadically which doesn’t lend itself to success, tp focusing simply on the photos I love myself and sharing them on the Etsy platform. If I simply brighten someone’s day with my colorful posts – super; if someone is moved to puchase and download a photo to keep that feeling alive, double super.

My shop name remains Northwest Flora as I lived in the Pacific Northwest when I began this photo journey in 2010. Visit me: northwestflora.etsy.com for a dose of color in the coming days as we head to the darker part of the year.