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.
As I mentioned in the text on the recent photo of my reading room, I need to organize the books. We’ll, I’ve begun the process and I have a feeling it’s going to be something of an iterative process and will take a while. There’s no perfect organizational structure and since this is my library, I figure I can organize it in a way that makes sense to me. I started with easier sections, because they’re easier. I have a shelf for Shakespeare, another for poetry (with one book of Shakespeare’s poetical works there, instead of with his plays). There is a shelf for textbooks (some of which we’ll probably get rid of), four shelves of cook books, three shelves of “classic” fiction, where the stories need to have been written at least 100 years old to qualify. In this photo are two shelves that are not really quite complete. The books on the right end of the upper shelf are fourteen of my nineteen Kipling books, more books by a single author than anyone but the Bard of Avon (and copies of the Bible, which is sort of a different category). I’m a big Kipling fan and while I don’t have all of his works, I’ve enjoyed what I do have.
At the left on the lower shelf are almost all of my Modern Library books (War and Peace is too tall for that shelf). Those include older works from Homer, Plato, and Herodotus through Roman Tacitus and up to relatively recent including another Kipling (Kim) and the poems of Robert Frost and The African Queen by C. S. Forester. To the right of that are Pinguin Classics including some Greek plays, Dante, and The Song of Roland. It’s a mishmash and as I said, it may not be the final grouping. But it’s a start.
It turned cold over the last few days. Not bitter, winter cold, but relatively cold with lows down in the mid 30s. This morning it was below freezing for the first time this fall and the forecast is for more of the same. In the sus this afternoon it was pleasant enough if you’re like me and prefer cool weather to hot. The insects are starting to be less in evidence and Cathy was actually looking for dead insects in the yard to send to a friend (it’s probably just about as weird as it sounds). She found a carpenter bee and I took pictures of it before making sure it was dead with a little chloroform in a jar. I also took pictures of holly berries on the tree at the corner of our house. Then I spotted this milk weed seed on the top of a drying Verbena bonariensis stem and decided that’s what I’d use for today’s photo.
Tsai-Hong and I went over to mom’s this evening and put up some art in her apartment. She’s been there a while but there were other priorities and she also wanted to take a bit of time to figure out what should go where. We haven’t finished and there is a sheving unit that needs to be hung on the wall, for which I needed a few pieces of hardware. But we were able to get Sir Roger up, as well as her quilt hanging rod, behind the sofa and shown holding up one of her recent quilts in this photo. We also had a nice dinner together. She has more art than she has wall space to display it on, but we’ll do our best to get a few more things up before Thanksgiving and then she can decide what to do with the things for which there isn’t room.
There was a time, not really that long ago, when pizza wasn’t a known thing to many Americans. When my dad went away to college in the mid 1940s, he had never had pizza before. But New Haven had a Neapolitan community and he was introduced to what was called apizza (/əˈbiːts(ə)/, with the final vowel basically silent). Now, of course, there are many different pizza chains and generally Italian restaurants have pizza on their menu, even if pizza is not their main thing. There is an Italian place called Baronessa not too far from where we live and we’ve gone there off and on for years. It changed ownership a while back and the new owner installed a wood-fired pizza oven. The owner is rightly proud of the oven and enjoys taking diners back to the kitchen to see it. I’ve seen it before but having taken a good picture of it so I asked if I could do that this evening. He was happy to let me get a few pictures. It’s a bit hard, because the light levels are pretty extreme, dark except for the fire, which is very bright, but this one shows the pizza cooking on the left pretty well. If you’re looking for a good pizza, you could do a lot worse than visiting Baronessa on E. Gude Drive. And ask to see the pizza oven before you leave.
I was a bit surprised this afternoon to see this butterfly and was happy to be able to get close enough for a pretty good photograph. It turns out that the commas overwinter as adults and they can be seen on warmer days, such as today. The name comes from a curved, comma shaped mark on the underside of their hind wings. Another species in the genus has a question mark (and therefore is called the question mark instead of a comma). It’s a pretty little thing and it really brightened up my day to come across it.
I had planned to go out and take some pictures around my office building today. The sky was clear as I came in this morning, which was welcome after the two days of soaking rain we’ve had. By midday, however, the sky had clouded up again. It didn’t rain but was a lot more gloomy than the morning promised. Of course, colors are often more intense under an overcast sky, but I never managed to get outdoors to take advantage of that. By the time I got home, of course, it was dark. That’s one problem with this photo-a-day thing in the winter. I have a lot less opportunity to get pictures outdoors. I can stop on the way to work or go out during the day, but otherwise, I’m confined to pictures in the house (or night-time pictures, which are hard). But we have this orchid in bloom, so I got pictures of it and that will have to do.
Cathy and I left work a little early and we took her mom and all went to vote this evening. The lines were not too long, which was nice and especially so since we were told that it had been pretty busy all day. As we were leaving, I didn’t want to hang around because I could see the sunset was shaping up to be something really nice and I hadn’t brought my camera with me. I didn’t expect to need it on the short drive to the elementary school and back and I hadn’t considered that there might be something like this waiting for me.
When we got home, I rushed to the back yard and took a few dozen photos. It just got better and better. The clouds were moving to the north east quite quickly so the sky was changing patterns even faster than it was changing colors. This vertical shot was taken with the 100mm lens, looking between the trees almost due west. I had a hard time picking one from all the good pictures I got.
The room isn’t new, of course, but it’s been in the process of becoming my reading room for about 10 months. There were piles of boxes in it and not a lot of space until recently. There are three full and one half height bookcase on the right, five full height against the far wall, and another full and half height on the left wall (off the left side of this photo). Behind where I’m standing is another bookcase that’s the equivalent of three more full height bookcases). The sofa in the lower left, along with most of what’s on it and the wooden chairs in the lower right are all destined to go away. I may get a more comfortable small sofa or futon at some point but the three arm chairs are enough for now. The books need to be organized, of course, and there are going to be at least a few that I get rid of once I see what’s what. But it’s coming along.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day and after church we decided to drive out to Rocklands Farm (http://www.rocklandsfarmmd.com/) and enjoy being outdoors. We walked around and I took some pictures of oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) growing on fence posts. The little fruits were quite lovely in the afternoon sun. I also took some nice pictures of the barn reflected in the pond that’s below it. I decided to post this picture, though, because it’s a little different from the fall colors that have so dominated my posting of late. This is a cosmos flower photographed from behind and I think it’s quite pretty in an understated sort of way.
There’s an old joke that you can easily identify dogwood by its bark but you can also spot them this time of year by the color of their leaves. The deep, burgundy color really stands out, particularly against the much more common yellow of many of our other native trees. The oaks tend to be dark orange or rusty reds. The maples range in color from bright red (as in the Japanese maples seen in yesterday’s post) to pure, electric yellow. It’s really a lovely time of year and unfortunately seems to be the shortest of the seasons. The rain last night knocked down a lot of leaves and the forecast for the coming week is for a lot more rain, so by this time next week, it may only be the oaks and beeches holding onto their drying leaves.
I’ve photographed these particular Japanese maples before. They are at the other end of the neighborhood and they have just about the most beautiful fall color of any trees I know. Individually they are lively but in combination they are spectacular. The near tree, on the left in this photo, is nearly red, with orange undertones. The farther tree is more orange and lighter and brighter. There is also a third Japanese maple on the right, further away still. That one is a deep burgundy color. I think this photo is improved by the small amount of gree from the azaleas in the foreground. I took quite a few pictures this morning and I like most of them. A woman walking her dog passed me and we agreed that these trees were special.
We don’t know a lot about this porcelain rhinoceros. In fact, I don’t know for certain that it’s made of porcelain. It’s some sort of ceramic and it’s white, which generally implies kaolin clay and porcelain. It’s glazed mostly green and it has an interesting pattern in the glaze, possibly from the firing technique. It gives the figurine a more natural appearance, because rhinoceroses are not a uniform color (or course, they aren’t green, either, but that’s another matter). There are currently five extant species of rhinoceros, two native to Africa (the white and the black rhino) and three to Asia, the Indian, the Javan, and the Sumatran rhinos. I’m going to go with this being an Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) and guess that the figurine came from central Asia somewhere, but of course it could easily have been bought in the United States.
Recently the section of Needwood Road that crosses Lake Needwood was repaved. While they were at it, they repaired and widened the bike and pedestrian path where it crosses the lake. Unfortunately, someone in Park and Planning decided that this park was too nice to allow people to easily enjoy it, so they did away with nearly all the parking that existed previously. They put up guard rails on both sides that don’t let you get your car off the road but they did more than protect cars where the road is above th elake. I don’t want to assume malice when stupidity is to blame, but someone clearly wasn’t thinking. I parked as close to the lake as I could and walked the rest of the way this morning. The water was as still and smooth as glass and the sky was beautiful with scattered clouds. The trees have not quite reached their peak color but it won’t be more than a day or two more. Then they will quickly lose their leaves and the autumnal display will be done.
When I cut down the tree in the front yard I left a tall stump. I cut it down fairly high so I’d be sure the height of the tree wouldn’t reach the driveway. I actually cut it higher than I should have done and it would have been a lot easier if I cut it about a foot and a half lower. Nevertheless, there’s a five foot stump in the front yard. It wasn’t long before I came up with the idea of dressing it up for Halloween. So, I took a length of wood and screwed it down on the stump with my jacket on it. I added some old work gloves and a pair of jeans that should have been thrown away but were not for some reason (or more likely for no reason). On Sunday I bought a pumpkin and last night I carved it. This morning I found some red Christmas lights and put them in side, adding a hole in the back of the head for the cord.
I took a few pictures this morning but I really wanted to get pictures at dusk, so the light in the face would stand out a bit more. I brought the pumpkin back inside for the day to keep it safe. Unfortunately, I didn’t say anything about that and Cathy put it outside later this morning. When she got home a few hours later, the squirrels had found it and chewed its face pretty badly. The hat helps hide some of the damage but he looks a bit like he’s been punched in the mouth. But I’m still pretty pleased with how it turned out. I’m not a big holiday decorator, so this is a big deal for me. Of course, punkin head is a name that my dad used for my brothers and me and that I used for Dorothy, so now there’s a punkin head in the front yard.
Getting pictures of the Zelkova trees that line Norbeck Road is sort of an annual thing for me. As I was driving east this evening I knew the light would be nice and with the bright blue sky and the scattered clouds, it seemed like an ideal day for it. I stopped at the grocery store but the light was still right when I was done, so I pulled off where the trees start and got out to take a dozen or so pictures. One thing that makes it hard is the contrast between the shady parts of the picture and the brightly lit leaves in the sun. But that’s part of what I like. They aren’t as fully in color as in previous years, but they’re pretty nice, nonetheless.
For a while now we’ve talked about taking up the old carpets in our living room. It’s something that you can’t really do a little at a time. Well, you could but it would be a bother. That being said, I didn’t really finish today. I got most of the carpet up in the living room but the carpet under the piano and the old console TV is still there and I haven’t touched the dining room, which has the same carpet. I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of the condition of the floor but I figured it would need at least some work. What you are seeing here is the living room floor after it’s simply been swept. It really doesn’t need any work at all. We plan to put the rug from Cathy’s mom’s living room down here and that will look great, too, of course. But for now, I’m enjoying the bright, shiny wood.
Here’s another shot of maple leaves in our back yard. I often feel like the colors in the current year are different from previous years. Not so much that they are different but that the timing is different. So I looked back at pictures of this tree the last two years to see when it was in full color. I have a picture posted on October 29 of 2017 and two pictures on October 27 and 28 in 2016. So I’d guess it really isn’t all that different this year. The leaves on the ground under the tree are just about as nice as those still on the tree. Set off by the bright green of the grass rather than the pale blue of the sky but in this case without the direct light of the afternoon sun on them.
I asked Cathy if I could take her picture this evening. She agreed but then when we got around to actually taking them, she was in something of a silly mood. I know that’s surprising to anyone who knows her because silly isn’t really her. Well, it is, but then only sometimes. She posed in various ways in front of a blank wall, which is good for portraits but those aren’t as good as this one, I don’t think. She sat on the end of the sofa and took off her shoe. In stead of putting it down, she put it up to her ear and I took this picture. I can’t see that and not think of Maxwell Smart, of course, but as you can see, her shoe phone works differently to his, which had the phone part in the bottom of the shoe while hers works right side up. When I showed the picture to Cathy just now she said, I’m holding my shoe the wrong way ‘round, meaning the toe should be at her chin. So, I guess I don’t really know anything about how her phone works. I like the colors in this picture and think that’s a big part of what’s so nice about it. The color of the shoe and the curtains and all of it just works. Silly, of course, but as I said, that’s Cathy.
The purple coneflowers (Echinacea purporea) is long since finished blooming. In fact, most things have. There are still flowers on a few plants but they are getting fewer and farther between. But that’s not the end of interest in the garden. In the fall we start to see shapes that we don’t notice in the summer amid all the color. The seeds of this coneflower are lovely in their own way, especially the way they detach and leave this little floret of spikes as they are carried off, probably by gold finches and other small birds. The gold finches, too, have lost their summer finery and are dressed in pale brown for the winter.