Cathy and I went to the storage unit today to pick up a few things, mostly related to Christmas—nativity scenes, tree decorations, the tree itself— and I decided to take a picture of the automatic doors closing. There is a slight delay after they open (which is nice, because it gives you time to get through them) and then they close. I set the camera to f/22, which gave it an exposure of 0.8 seconds at ISO 100. I moved close enough to trigger the door opening sensor, and then quickly moved back to the wall opposite and positioned the camera against the wall, with the bottom edge sitting on a piece of molding. That allowed me to hold the camera fairly steady for the long exposure. I tried opening them by voice command but all I got back was, “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
There was another nice sunset this evening. I had a little more time today so I was able to walk around the woods behind my building to an area with a somewhat lower horizon. There are still trees but they are several hundred yards away this time. This was just a portion of the sky, taken with a 100mm lens. It was quite impressive for a significant horizontal extent although it didn’t reach all that high in the sky. A wide angle shot would have been mostly dark above and below this. I hope you (not that there are very many of you) don’t mind all the sunsets but we’re getting what we get.
Driving home today, traffic was quite heavy and I had to stop a number of times as I approached the bridge over Rock Creek. I took a few pictures of the woods out my passenger side window as I waited and that’s what today’s photo is. In the past I’ve taken pictures along here on cold, foggy, winter evenings and I’ve been quite pleased with them. This one is a bit ordinary by comparison. Still, the copper color of the beech leaves and the grey of the tree trunks is nice. I didn’t have a lot of options as to where I’d be stopping so my choice of shooting locations was dictated to me by the flow of traffic. This is generally the worst part of our commute. It’s better than it was before the ICC (i.e. MD 200) was built, but it still backs up because of the poor timing of the traffic lights ahead.
I was hoping for another nice sunset this evening but it wasn’t to be. The clouds did get a bit of color but nothing like two nights ago and in fact, if I had taken any other pictures today, you probably wouldn’t be stuck with this. We need to be thankful, of course, for the lesser beauties, as well as the greater. As something short of even a lesser beauty, myself, I have an appreciation for the ordinary.
When we were in Rome, quite a few years ago now, we went into St. Peter’s Basilica. As you’d expect, everyone loves the big, central dome. It’s very impressive. But we decided we needed to enjoy the lesser domes. It’s become a saying in our family, “Nobody appreciates the little domes.” We make an effort to appreciate them.
This doll was found at some point in the process of clearing out my in-laws house. It has a tag on it that says “Pakistan” so I assume it’s a Pakistani doll, although someone who actually knows these things might say differently. My assumption is that it was labeled by whoever bought it.
Anyway, it’s a little misshapen. Somewhere along the way it seems to have been subject to either excessive heat or pressure or possibly both. The neck is bent into a somewhat unnatural angle the left arm and wrist are effectively broken and the “bones” fused back together with the arm bent twice into a 30° angle or so. Also, the joints, which appear to have been functional at one time, are “calcified” and won’t move. It’s a pretty doll, otherwise, but the angle of the head, in particular, is a bit disturbing.
She is currently standing on the piano but she moves around a bit (not on her own, as far as I know) and she’s been seen lying along the top of the piano and on bookcases, etc. around the house.
Cathy and I went to work together today because the van was in the shop, having lost its serpentine belt in the rain on Saturday. Cathy likes to go to an exercise class on Mondays so we stayed for that. Before her class, however, at about 4:45, she called to ask if I could see the sunset. My office window faces north but I could see color out to the left. I took a few pictures from there and then went to the large conference room on the west side of the building on the next floor up and took some pictures from there. The color ws through the trees but it was really different to any sunset I’ve seen, as least anything in recent memory. To say is was spectacular is too simple. Also, this photo doesn’t really convey the overall feel, which was somewhat eerie. Donna, who works near the conference room asked if I had been outside. She said something strange seemed to be going on. I said, “It’s sunset, it happens every evening around this time.” But I was joking, this really was a strange sunset, and beautiful.
We went for a short walk in the woods after church today. The church is near enough to Rock Creek Park that we can get there pretty easily from the back parking lot. The sky was clear today, which was very welcome after yesterday’s torrential rain. The sun was shining brightly on some Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) leaves and I took a few pictures of the back-lit leaves. None of them turned out quite as well as I would have liked, but this one is pretty nice. I really love the colors and the contrast between the leaves and the blue from the sky, filtering through the trunks of the trees.
There was a lot of coming and going at our house today but I mostly stayed out of it. Kendra and Jacob came over, and I talked with them briefly. Justin and Judah also stopped in for a few minutes and I didn’t do much more than say hello. I spent much of the day either doing crossword puzzles or sorting books in my reading room. I did get out a little in the heavy rain, which turned out to be a bad idea. I went to mom’s because George had left his coat at our house yesterday and I wanted to return it. I also brought a few of mom’s dishes. On the way, however, I went through a reasonably deep puddle and the serpentine belt came off again in our old Grand Caravan. Apparently it’s a known problem, although the van’s mileage is over 267,000 and it’s only started happening recently. Cathy came and picked me up and I had the van towed to the garage again.
We celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday this year. That’s fairly common for us, as it makes life easier for all involved. It also allowed us to have that great trip to the art museums yesterday, when crowds were a little reduced. George and Carmela drove down and we all gathered at our house this year. With mom in an apartment and Cathy’s mom living here, the two family homes were not available to us. Getting fifteen people (all except Silas) around our dining room table was a little tight. Next year, he’ll be old enough to sit in a chair, so we’ll have to figure out something to get one more at the table. In the evening we took our standard family gathering photo.
Cathy, Dorothy, and Dorothy’s cousin, Abba, and I went to a few art galleries today. If you’re looking for something to do on Thanksgiving day, you could do a lot worse than visit the National Gallery of Art or any of the Smithsonian museums. The Smithsonian museums are open every day except Christmas and the National Gallery every day except Christmas and New Years Day. Parking is free and there are fewer people than most weekends (and the day after Thanksgiving is generally a lot worse). We started with the National Gallery, parking just over a block away and starting with some sculpture and some other things on the lower level. Then we went up and through the rotunda and to the impressionists. This picture of Abba shows her sketching a painting titled Interior, after Dinner by Claude Monet.
Dorothy had asked each of us to bring a sketch book and to sketch at least three things that caught our eye. Since both of the girls are artists, this came naturally to both of them. Cathy and I had to force ourselves a bit. I drew a sketch from a sculpture by Paul Manship, one of my favorite twentieth century sculptors. It isn’t very good, frankly, and not something I’d be proud to show to anyone.
Abba drew from this Monet and Dorothy from a painting next to it, Théodore Duret, by Edouard Vuillard. The girls have very different styles of drawing but are both pretty tallented. They are quite a lot alike in other ways, however. Beyond the similarity of their hair, they have almost identical taste in clothes, they like much of the same music, their senses of humor fit together quite well, and the basically just get along.
From the National Gallery’s main building, we went through the tunnel to the East Wing, where we saw their collection of more modern art, including Picasso, Calder, and others. On the roof terrace, Cathy was excited to find the large blue cock in the third picture, in front of which she was happy to pose. When the girls were sketching the impressionists show here, Cathy was admiring Child with Toys—Gabrielle and the Artist’s Son, Jean, by Auguste Renoir, in which Gabrielle is holding a toy chicken. So, I guess she just likes chickens. I don’t think she planned her outfit to match the chicken, but she couldn’t have done any better if she had tried. We saw this cock in London, in Trafalgar Square, in 2013, so to see it here was something
We went back to the tunnel between the wings of the National Gallery and had lunch (it’s outrageously expensive, but they know there aren’t any other alternatives anywhere nearby). Then we went to the Freer gallery to see the Peacock Room, by James Whistler, as well as other works in their collection. That room, in particular, is a favorite and Abba had never been there. We also went to the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum (which are in the same building). They have a smaller version of Paul Manship’s Dancer with Gazelles, that I drew from in the National Gallery. They also had an interesting exhibit of works by Kumi Yamashita with shadows being cast that formed faces or bodies but where the objects casting the shadows were basically random. Abba also found a painting by John Singer Sargent that was picked as a match for her by an app that find the classical painting that you most resemble. I have to say, the resemblance was there. In fact, it looks a lot like Laura, another of the cousins.
I’m afraid today’s photo is pretty lame. I looked out the back door and there were two bright airplane contrails just above the trees, heading west toward the setting sun as the sky darkened with dusk. I thought it would make a half decent photo for today. Unfortunately, by the time I got my camera from the next room, switched to the 100mm from the 24mm and returned ti the kitchen door, the planes were down into the trees. It wasn’t ever going to be a great photo but I think it’s worse than I hoped. So, the only thing accomplished by taking this is that I kept up my photo-a-day streak. For what little that’s worth.
I stopped at Trader Joe’s briefly after work. There are a few things that they have that make it worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood, although I can’t say I’d go far out of my way in general. I usually leave underwhelmed, although a good friend (who I’m pretty sure will be reading this) works there and I mean no disrespect. It’s just that most of what they have I can get elsewhere more easily. After that I stopped at Great Wall, in Rockville. This store has a lot more that’s hard to find in “standard” grocery stores and I was there mostly for produce, which is generally good there and there’s a lot more variety than even Safeway or Giant, to say nothing of Trader Joe’s (and I needed beets). As I came out, I took this picture of the sunset over the back of the building.
One of the things in my in-laws house that we didn’t get rid of was this butterfly collection. It’s a box about 15 by 20 inches that opens up like a book to twice that size. Each side has butterflies mounted between cotton backing and a glass plate. They are quite lovely and varied. Not shown here is a very large butterfly that is bright blue on its underside (which is the visible side in the collection). The other side, the upper sides of the wings are brown. In this way, it blends in with the the earth from above and with the sky from below.
After dropping off the Operation Christmas Child boxes we went to the library to return some books and to get a few more. Then because it was such a beautiful day, we decided to take a walk in the park. We drove to the parking area at the park so that half our walking wouldn’t be on neighborhood streets and we could get into the woods right away. It’s been quite rainy this fall and the trail was muddy in places but we managed to get through without getting too wet. I brought my camera, of course and took a fair number of pictures. This large rock on the side of Manor Run marks the spot where you can cross. Just downstream from here the stream is shallow and there are rocks that you can cross on. I think this picture turned out well. As we went around the rock there were three deer grazing and I got some pictures of them, as well. They kept an eye on us but didn’t seem particularly alarmed. We got within about 20 feet of them.
It’s that time of year again. “What time of year?”, you may ask. Operation Christmas Child time of year, that’s what. Cathy scaled back this year. Last year when I asked how many boxes she was going to make she said “six, maybe seven.” She ended up with twelve. That was a lot and there was a fair amount of stress involved. I suggested she only do six or seven this year and actually stick to that. She decided that was a good idea, so the fact that she “only” did eight is pretty good. She was also a little less worried about making them all the same this year, and she finished a week early. We turned them in this afternoon after church. In this picture she’s holding five of the eight.
Last year we got a photograph of children receiving boxes that happened to include some that Cathy had packed. You could see the picture of us that Cathy had included in the boxes. That was pretty neat. We’ve had letters from recipients before and that’s always fun, too.
Just over two weeks ago (on Friday, November 02, 2018) I posted a picture of Japanese maples from the other end of our neighborhood. I mentioned a week or so later that most of the leaves were down from those trees. Not all the leaves, however. We were driving home past that yard this afternoon about about 3:00 and the light was shining through the remainder of the leaves on one of the trees (the other trees in the yard are basically bare). This one tree was still amazing and I stopped to take a few pictures. A man stopped and said, “you should have seen the trees a couple weeks ago.” I said I know, they were amazing.
One thing about this time of year is that I’m leaving work around the time the sun sets. That’s not all bad, as I sometimes get to see a colorful sunset. Today I left in time to see some color through the trees behind my building. There was no time to get anywhere without trees in the way so I photographed through the trees. I don’t think they ruin this sunset at all. In fact, it was lovely. We have a little more than a month of shortening days so it will be more than two months before they are as long as they are now again. That makes it harder to get photos during the daytime, especially during the week. It’s been quite busy at work and it shows no signs of easing up before next summer.
We had our first snowfall of the autumn today. It wasn’t particularly heavy and didn’t amount to much but the county had announced last night that there would be a two hour delay this morning. This morning they cancelled school for the day. For those of us who don’t mind driving in a little slush, this meant anyone preferring not to drive stayed off the road. That made driving all the easier and it was pretty quiet at work. Plenty of time to do, of course, but not a lot of people. Not that people actually come to my door very often, in any case. Getting home was no worse than getting to work and we left a little early so as not to drive in the dark, as the temperature dropped, possibly below freezing.
We don’t really know much about this plate. It appears to be Japanese, although we don’t actually know where it was produced. We also don’t know how old it is. This is not the whole plate, clearly, but a detail of the center, not quite reaching the edges in the corners of the image. There is a style called “Thousand Faces” and when you search on that, you find a few images that look a bit similar to this but for the most part, that seems to indicate a very particular style (or possibly two styles). Some show many fewer faces than this plate and only perhaps a dozen faces, so I’m not sure where the name comes from. Others fit the name better but not as well as this one, perhaps. On the other hand, this may not be particularly old and doesn’t even qualify as anything in particular. It is nice, though, and I like the fact that most (if not all) of the people depicted are different from one another. In any case, that’s what I have for today.
About two weeks ago I posted a photo of Lake Needwood that was fairly popular among my small circle of followers. In that photo, the fall color was a day or two short of peak. As usual, the best fall color doesn’t last very long and now, the majority of trees are completely bare. Many of the oaks in the woods are still holding onto their leaves but they have turned from rusty red to dingy brown. The beach trees often keep some leaves over the winter and they turn a beautiful copper color, but it’s nothing like the reds, oranges, and yellows of peak autumn. Some trees still haven’t started to turn or have only just started, so there will be occasional trees yet to enjoy. There are some sweet gums near work that I’m still looking forward to in their deep burgundy red glory. I stopped at Lake Needwood again this morning and it was dreary and overcast. But the skeletal trees were quite beautiful in the quiet of morning. I also startled a flock of at last 15 bluebirds that were gathered in the branches of a bald cypres, with its leaves all turned a pale orange. A fifteen minute walk by the lake is a pretty good way to start the day. I need to do that more often.