Just a few days ago my mom, her friend, Donna, and I were talking. Donna said that while she appreciated the photos I’ve been posting lately, would it be too much trouble to post more sunset pictures. The insects and spiders were starting to give her the willies (I’m not quoting her, but that was the general feeling of her comments). Well, here you are, Donna. I was happy to have this sunset given to me less than a week after our conversation and I’m also happy to share it with all of you. We will now return to our standard, creepy-crawly photographs tomorrow.
After church today we went to a surprise birthday party for Cathy’s mom. Her birthday isn’t until later this week, but weekends are generally better for these sorts of things. Turning 90 is a pretty big deal, and it was nice to have so many friends gathered together to honor her. Of course this was only a small gathering when you consider how many people she knows (and how many people know and lover her). This was put on by the missions team from Fourth Church and it was a lovely time. I took a bunch of pictures showing most of the people who were there but I think this is the best, of Carol, Margaret (a.k.a. the Birthday Girl), and Davin.
Don’t be alarmed. Although there isn’t anything to give you a sense of scale, I assure you that this is a tiny little spider, less than one centimeter in length. It’s pretty ferocious looking but it’s not going to attack you. There are a lot of spiders and even among the jumping spiders (Family Salticidae) there are a lot this could be. My suspicion is Platycryptus undatus but I’m no expert. I’ll report back here if someone from BugGuide.net can nail it down. As you might have guessed, the red background is the fender of our car. This was taken with the 100mm macro and 25mm extension tube, focused nearly all the way in.
I’m posting two pictures from today. After I got that picture of the cricket in the grass, Cathy and I went to the Rio for a while. We walked twice around the lake, hoping to get a good sunset picture. The sky kept promising color in the clouds but it never really materialized. But the buildings and the reflection in the lake made a pretty nice picture, so I’m giving you that. This is an HDR image made from three individual exposures made right together, one under exposed (which supplies detail in the highlights), one properly exposed, and one over exposed (which supplies detail in the shadows). I think it turned out rather well.
Cathy and I were out in the back yard after work this evening. She noticed a dead cabbage white on the patio and I took a few pictures of that. They are hard to get close enough to when they are alive but they aren’t as interesting when dead, of course. Then I was lying in the grass and we were chatting as she pulled weeds when I noticed this cricket. I had my 100mm macro lens and a 25mm extension tube, along with a bean bag to set my camera on. I managed to get pretty close. At first I was only able to get the little fellow on the other side of a blade of grass but then he moved around and was looking at me. I’m fairly pleased with the results. I don’t know which of the many species of true crickets (family Gryllidae) this is, but I think it’s most likely a field cricket (subfamily Gryllinae).
As I was about to leave for work this morning I noticed this moth by the front door. I picked up my camera and took a dozen or so pictures before shooing it out the door and then leaving myself. It is an armyworm moth (Mythimna unipuncta) and I suspect I probably should have squashed it instead of letting it loose, but them’s the breaks, as they say. It’s a mid-sized moth, about 2cm long and looking at it up close it seems to be quite hairy. Note that the ‘hair’ on moths is really the same as the tiny scales on butterfly wings, only larger and more hair like. In both cases, the scales are made of chitin, which (to quote from Wikipedia), “is a long-chain polymer of an N-acetylglucosamine, a derivative of glucose, and is found in many places throughout the natural world. It is a characteristic component of the cell walls of fungi, the exoskeletons of arthropods such as crustaceans (e.g., crabs, lobsters and shrimps) and insects, the radulae of molluscs, and the beaks and internal shells of cephalopods, including squid and octopuses and on the scales and other soft tissues of fish and lissamphibians.”
I’ve been meaning for some time to find the grave marker for Walter Johnson and today I actually stopped and found it. I’ve known for a while that he was buried in Rockville Cemetery and I’ve often thought of stopping as I drove by. Today I stopped. There are three markers, the large stone marked Johnson and the two headstones for Walter Johnson (November 6, 1887 – December 10, 1946) and Hazel Johnson, who was only 36 years old when she died of heatstroke on August 1st, 1930. The larger stone has baseballs and other baseball related items left on it, presumably by admirers.
I was heading home from downtown Rockville this evening and the only pictures I had taken were not worth much, so I thought I’d drive through and see if anything worth photographing was going on at the Town Square Plaza. There were quite a few people about but nothing obvious to photograph. Also, I didn’t find an easy parking space, so I kept going. I came back around and down Maryland Avenue and then turned left on E. Middle Lane, figuring I’d head home and find something else to photograph. While sitting at the light to cross Hungerford Drive I pulled out my camera and took a few pictures of this globe, a piece of public art, at the northwest corner of Hungerford and E. Middle. It is the work of Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock and was installed just over a year ago. My understanding is that there is a button you can push that will change the color of the light.
Here’s another in my dead insect series, taken on the window sill of my office with the white balance then corrected to offset the blue cast given by the northern exposure of my window. This is an annual cicada, not one of the 13- or 17-year species. The most obvious distinction is that the periodical cicadas have bright red eyes. That eliminated about 5 species and leaves about 165 annual species (some of which actually spend two or three years in the larval stage). Anyway, I don’t know which of those this is and I’m unlikely to find out. I found it in the parking lot of my office when I got to work and I brought it in for a portrait.
After a hot week and an absolutely boiling day yesterday, today was wonderful. It made it up into the low to mid 80s and although my ideal outdoor temperature is more like 68°F, compared to nearly 100°F it felt cool by comparison. Cathy and I went out in the afternoon and had a nice walk in the woods. I found a few interesting things to photograph, including some flowers and a few different insects. This is a yellow-collared scape moth and it quite a pretty little thing, especially when seen against the bright yellow flowers of yellow ironweed (a.k.a. wingstem, Verbesina alternifolia).
I was out looking for things to photograph today and happened to see a small, pink moth. It was only about 9mm long and I managed to get some reasonable pictures of it. I believe it’s a Pyrausta inornatalis, although the literature doesn’t mention it being here in Maryland. I’ve posted a picture to BugGuide to check my identification. In the meantime, here’s one I can identify. While I was down on the ground photographing the moth, I noticed this little beetle. it’s about the same length as the moth, under 10mm in length (not counting its antenae) but quite brightly colored. As the title of this post says, this is a spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata). This is a major pest of many field crops including cucumbers and other squashes, corn, and soy.
I’m anything but a fan of Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) in terms of its growth in our garden. That’s not, however, to say that it cannot be quite beautiful. I just wish it would be beautiful somewhere else. Its flowers are not nearly as showy as bull thistle (C. vulgare) and it’s quite hard to eradicate from a garden, once it’s gotten a hold there (which it does with relative ease). We pull a huge number of these every year and every year there seem to be more than the year before. There was a small pile of pulled thistle in the grass and I decided the seeds with their fluffy tufts of thistledown would be good for a picture or two. This is my favorite, not so much of the seeds and thistledown, but of the remains of the flowerhead and related structure. I think it’s quite lovely. Now get off my lawn!
For a little over a year our family has been having what we call Thursday Night Dinner (TND). It was initially ever week for a while but life gets busy and now it’s now and then, when people are available. This evening there were seven of us, Tsai-Hong, Ralph, Dot, Seth, Steve, Cathy, and me (not in the picture, because I was behind the camera, as I prefer). We had talked about going to a Thai restaurant. There is an Ethiopian restaurant next door and we figured we’d go to both on different weeks. Iris suggested we do Ethiopian tonight because she’s not fond of it and she couldn’t come tonight. She wants to go the Thai restaurant, when the times comes.
We had samplers with all sorts of dishes, ranging from mild to somewhat spicy. None of it was terribly hot. The best flavour, I think, was in two beef dishes. The first of those is kitfo, which their menu describes as “Ethiopian style steak tartar, seasoned to a rich flavor with our special blend of spices, spiced butter and mit’mit’a.” They will sear it for you, but we decided to go for the original.
The second that I really liked was tibs fitfit. “Tender beef cubes sautéed with onion, tomatoes, awaze and jalapeño mixed with injera.”
Actually, all of it was good and I ate more than I should have. Even so there was a lot left over.
A few years ago, Cathy had a pot with begonias in it, sitting on the corner of our front walk, just outside our front door. Now, the pot and its begonia are long gone, but the plant lives on, having moved itself out of the pot and into the ground around our front porch. It’s quite healthy and happy, with small, pink flowers and bright green leaves. I love both the texture and the shape of the leaves, as well as their color, which I think I mentioned is bright green. This spot seems perfectly suited to the plant, just the right amount of sun, protection, and the occasional watering, both natural and manual.
I took a few pictures in the yard this evening and figured one of them would have to suffice for the day’s picture. Then later in the evening, as I was leaving the church office after meeting with the guys I saw this Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) on my car door. So, I grabbed my camera (most people carry their camera with them all the time, right?) and fitted the flash so I could take some mantid portraits. I got some that show the entire insect but I particularly like this one, which clearly shows the three occeli (simple eyes) in the center of the head, along with the two compound eye that we normally associate with insects.
This is the same sort of spider I photographed just over two weeks ago (see Saturday, August 20, 2016) and may, for all I know, be the same exact spider. I was out this morning, not having to be at work because it’s Labor Day, and I saw her with the sun shining on her brightly. I got down on the dewy ground and set up my camera on a bean bag, fitted with the 100mm macro and a 25mm extension tube so I could get nice and close. This was taken at f/11.3 for 1/13 second and it isn’t quite as sharp as I’d like, but it’s not bad. This is one of the prettier spiders around and one I haven’t seen before a couple weeks ago.
Today was a significant day in the life of our young church (Cross Community Church / http://www.cross-community.org/). For the last 20 months, we’ve been meeting at First Baptist of Rockville, for 8 months in a room downstairs and then for a year in the sanctuary, always in the afternoon. We are and will always be grateful for their generosity to us but it was time for us to move to a morning church service and to do that, we needed to be somewhere else (they wanted to continue using their sanctuary in the mornings for their own service, which I suppose it reasonable). Starting this morning we had our first 11:00 AM service at the Rockville Senior Center (1150 Carnation Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850 / 39° 06′ 00″ N, 77° 10′ 36″ W).
As I mentioned in the post from Thursday, my main workstation at home crashed. Parts of it are still usable and I may turn it into a Window-only scanning workstation. But for now, I need to get Linux up and running and restore the files on the drive that was lost (a 3TB drive with pictures up through 2011). This is the new computer, pre-assembly. In the past I’ve bought the smallest case that will hold everything I need. This time, I decided to take a different approach. The case is huge. But it made assembly so much easier. I got an AMD FX processor with 8 cores, 16GB of RAM (which may be upped to 32GB at some point), a 120GB SSD for the boot drive and two 5TB hard drives for data (I may need a third soon, but there’s plenty of room in this case). I also have a GeForce GTX 760 graphics card. It will be powered by a 600 watt power supply. An hour and a half later, all the parts were in the case and I was ready to start the process of installing CentOS 7, an upgrade from 6, which I’m sure will cause some pain along the way, but I do have some experience with 7 already, so I should survive.
We don’t have a membership at our local swimming pool and this isn’t the pool in our neighborhood, in any case. Our church is moving to a new location and some friends who happen to live in the area of that new site decided to have a party at their pool and invite their friends and neighbors. Because they wanted to spend the evening visiting with their guests, they asked me if I’d cook for them and I was happy to do so. I still got to visit some, once the bulk of the cooking was done, and of course I took a few pictures.
In addition to this one of the sunset colored sky, reflecting in the pool, I got quite a few of kids blowing bubbles and also playing with glowsticks. It was a very pleasant evening, not too hot and not terribly humid. In fact, a perfect fall evening. Of course, we’ll have a return of summer next week but hopefully it won’t be too long before we get into autumnal mode, weather-wise.
Thanks to Tammy, Joe, Joan, Victor, and Sally for putting on a nice evening and thanks also for letting me be there, even though I live in a different part of town.
Due to a workstation crash (from which I’m still recovering backed up data) I’m a week behind in posting here. This is the psot from last Thursday, September 1. It was a beautiful day and finally has cooled off considerably. The high today was in the mid 80s and it was wonderful. After work, Cathy and I took a walk in the woods near Lake Frank. I didn’t get a lot of pictures, but by the abandoned parking lot overlooking the lake, there were lots of thistles blooming. I like this picture and like it all the more for the moth that I didn’t see while I was taking the picture. It is an ailanthus webworm moth (Atteva aurea), and even out of focus as it is, it is quite distinctive with its pattern of orange, black, and white.