The Gator

The Background:


Ben, Aidan,  and Jeannie Whitehair preparing the Gator for the trip through the Fairy Forest.

Ben, Aidan, and Jeannie Whitehair preparing the Gator for the trip through the Fairy Forest.

Back in 2009 my grandsons, Ben and Aidan Wallace, and I went on a Gator ride through my friend Jeannie Whitehair’s Fairy Forest. The boys sat in the back and we bounced over rocks and small logs, went up and down hills, and over and through places I’d never think a vehicle could go. The boys got out every so often to clear a path, then off we’d go again.

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The Settling

It seemed that the settling should be fairly quick and easy. After all, the kids had gotten the apartment all set up with the main things we needed. At least we could sit in the comfort of our living room, which looked so beautiful, especially with the flowers on the coffee table which the girls and their families had sent. We felt right at home.

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The Arriving

Waiting for the movers

Waiting for the movers

Still waiting ...

Still waiting …

We finally got to the apartment in Rockville about 2:00. The movers had long since gone. I wish I had been there in time to see them. Also, I had their check waiting to be filled out and their tip in an envelope. Fortunately, I had spoken to Megan earlier and she was able to take care of both.



The arriving, the wonderful joy of arriving! I could have cried.

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The Leaving

We'll be back for the cherry blossoms

We’ll be back for the cherry blossoms…

We left Domehenge (or should it be called Dometon Abbey?) on February 1st, well after 9:00am. It wasn’t the most graceful of leavings. The car was having a hard time parting, and when it heard the beckoning of a snow-filled ditch it gracefully slid into it, ignoring the driver completely. Saved, it probably thought. Now they can’t move.


…and the forsythia.

And for a good half hour we couldn’t. Back and forth I rocked it while Mark stood knee-deep in snow pushing as well. He finally took over the steering wheel and with a few more dramatic rocks he was back on the road. We were on our way.

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Paring Down Part 2: Hilary’s Story

Continued from Part 1 – Denise’s Story

Hmm.. why is the cat so interested in these old boxes?

Hmm.. why is Misty so interested in these old boxes?

Robbie, Charger and I waved goodbye to Mom and Dad, with our car loaded with items that were hopefully going to a good home. I returned home, not really feeling rushed to figure out where everything was going to go, but quickly decided most of it was going to stay in the car until I figured it out. No point in loading it all in to my house.

A few days after I got home I started to notice something in the seats in my car. It took me a moment to realize they were mouse poops.



We had brought home a “mountain” mouse to our “suburb” house! Now I needed to pick up the pace and get these things out of my car!

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Paring Down Part 1: Denise’s Story

P1160152The time has come to pare down – mainly paring down the boxes and boxes and boxes of items we haven’t looked at in 25 years. Most are stored in our crawl space under the dome. The crawl space is 4 feet high and has a gravel floor, so you can imagine walking, bent over double, in hopes not to crack your head on a beam or a light bulb. Then imagine trying to carry heavy boxes at the same time. It’s a job for strong backs.

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Let 4th of July Begin!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur 4th of July (aka 4oJ) gathering of the Moynahan clan and associated friends is not a one or two day event. It normally lasts for well over a week, with some members coming early, then all 30 or so come in for main 2-4 days in the middle, and some stay a few days later. But the official beginning and end of 4oJ are designated, at least by me, with the arrival and departure of the “porta-potty”.

I call and arrange for its delivery several weeks ahead. Western Maryland Septic calls its porta-potty by a more dignified name, a Portable Toilet, (and I love that the English call it a Porta Loo). The woman who answers the phone greets me like an old friend. “Shall we put it in the same spot?” she asks.

“Sure, that’ll be just fine.” I cross one more thing off my list.

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Eastern Sunsets


When we first were planning to build the dome we debated about which way the house would face. We were building right on the ridge of the mountain, which runs in a northeast/southwest direction. At the time we had forests surrounding us but had visions of clearing the trees all around so we’d have a view of the forested eastern view and the pastoral view of the farms to the west, both views with mountains and valleys as far as the eye could see in either direction.

Logic said to have the house face the road on the east side. However, after much deliberation, we chose to have it face the ridge to the southwest so we could see the views in both directions from our upper deck – from east to west, from sunrise to sunset.


Sunrise reflections







View of Hoye Crest, the highest point in Maryland

We never did get around to clearing the west side and have never regretted it. I love the forest. It’s like a friend we can count on, always close, always hugging us, always visible even in the heavy fog when we see nothing in other directions. It breaks the prevalent west wind, and its shade and breezes provide our summer air-conditioning. We made walking trails through it years ago and had picnics on the moss-covered boulders. Over our 4th of July family gatherings the grandchildren, nieces and nephews race down through the trails and they each have claimed a boulder of their own.

Our winter sunrises with their warm golden sunlight, are also reflected on the icy branches of the forest. But our sunsets are only seen through the trees.  By mid-December we see it silhouetting Hoye Crest, the highest point in Maryland, which our deck faces.

However, the sunsets bring us the most special and unexpected bonus–their beautiful reflections on the eastern clouds.

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Domehenge: Our Lower Deck

Our present lower deck wasn’t built until 2006. Originally, we only had a small deck about 10’ x 10’ outside the sliding glass door of our bedroom, facing the forest. When the addition to the house was built, we had the deck put back in place outside the new location of the sliding glass door, now facing the dwarf cherry trees we had brought with us from Arlington.

We almost never used the little deck until one hot summer when we needed to sit out in the cool shade, which our upper deck doesn’t provide. That’s when our minds began ticking over the idea of a new deck; one that went out to the edge of the grassed area and the length of the addition.  However, the cherry trees had thrived in that space and were no longer “dwarf”. What to do. We weren’t about to have any removed.

Our final design was a deck about 16’ x 30’ that would be built around the tree in the center. In 2012 I had the far railing, which was blocking the view, moved down so we could put our feet up on it and look out into the forest and beyond. We’ve spent many hours out there reading, eating, and just cooling off. At our annual 4th of July gathering of the extended Moynahan family (30 of us) we held a crab feast wedding reception for our granddaughter Alexandra (Xan) Gerson and Noah Williams on it, and we danced until midnight to the beauty of Barry’s Ruben’s tube and Mark’s sound system.

In the winter we watch as snow blows in and creates sculptures and designs. We wait patiently (at least we try to be patient) for the spring rains and for the cherry blossoms to appear. We finally can sit out once again, cooling off with the summer breezes and the shade under the trees. Even the raccoon is happy coming out at night to find some crumbs among the fallen blossoms.

Here are a typical year’s worth of pictures of the deck —


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Seasons through Pentagon Windows


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Pentagon Window Pictures -2Pentagon Window Pictures -2


Slides 1 and 2: When we added the addition to the house in ’99 we removed a pentagon window from the dome and placed it at the far end of the living room. The window is centered on a hemlock tree; a tree that was much smaller when we moved here. The snow sits on it all winter, and it breaks the prevailing west wind; in the summer it blocks the sun and provides shade to cool the living room.

Slide 3: There are three pentagon windows in the dome. They sit at an angle and the snow often lays on them and darkens the room. But the sunshine quickly melts the snow and our beautiful views are back in sight.

Slides 9 and 10: We purposely did not cut down the dead tree, because the birds so often perched on it.  In fact we called it “the bird tree”. Alas, Hurricane Sandy came along and knocked it down. We miss it.

Please note that all these photographs were taken through these windows. However, because of the brightness outside, the interior often turned out too dark, so for those photos I’ve re-framed them in their same windows to show the interior.