As mentioned a few days ago, the winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is coming into bloom. It’s a very hardy little plant, growing from a small, sort of misshapen tuber, native to the northern Mediterranean coast from southern France, across northern Italy, and down the eastern coast of the Adriatic and east to the western shores of the Black Sea. It’s very slow growing and the few that survived from my initial planting are only still only producing a handful of flowers. I should probably plant more, but last year was mostly a write-off in terms of gardening. We’re hoping to do quite a bit more this year.
It was a beautiful day today and I needed to get out of my office for a few minutes to clear my head. I’ve been working on two specific problems with one of the systems I’m working on. I’m pretty sure I managed to get one of them solved and settled. The other is proving to be a little trickier but I’ve managed to get it pretty close to working. Sometimes it’s useful to step away for a little bit and think about something else. Then when you come back, you can see it with somewhat fresher eyes. I find that I often come up with new ideas at that point. This is true in other realms than programming. When I’m working on a crossword puzzle and get about as much done as I can manage, putting it down and walking away and then picking it up later is generally all I need to find some new answers. Today’s foray out into the woods let me to a bunch of moss, and that’s what today’s photo features.
There was a lot of stuff in Cathy’s mom’s house, including a surprising number of things that Cathy had never seen. The jaguar skin that I posted a picture of recently was one example. This gold pendant in the shape of a camel is another. Specifically, this is a dromedary, the one-humped camel (Camelus dromedarius), currently existing only as a domestic or feral animal, having been first domesticated in Somalia or the Arabian Peninsula about 4,000 years ago. There are two species of two-humped camels, the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) and the wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus), which until recently was assumed to have descended from feral domesticated Bactrian camels. Genetic studies have shown it to be a separate species.
As I mentioned on the picture of Dorothy lounging in the snow the other day (see Saturday, March 09, 2019), Dorothy is here with some friends. These are two of them and they are engaged (to each other). Andrew and Dorothy enjoy playing music together as the group Kinsman. Rachel is a fellow art student with Dorothy. We have met them both a time or two but didn’t really get to know them at all until this week. I see why Dorothy likes them both, individually and as a couple. Getting a good picture of them has been a challenge, in part because they aren’t crazy about having their picture taken.
I know I posted a picture of snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) on Saturday, March 02, 2019 but the flowers were not really open then and they are now. Our yard is fairly shady and the spring blooms seem to be a week or so behind those that get full sun. We have a few clmps of snow drops in the yard. Those I photographed last time are by the sidewalk. These are in the back yard. They are certainly a welcome sign of spring, often blooming when there is still snow on the ground (thus the name, I assume). I love the little touch of green on the central part of the flower. Green is fairly uncommon as a flower color, I assume because it’s so common on the leaves themselves. But it makes a nice change.
The snow drops are generally followed by the winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) and the Lenten rose (Helleborus species). One Lenten rose is already blooming but the others are just starting to come out. I suspect I’ll have more pictures of them soon.
It’s Lenten rose time again. With the recent snow and heavy rain, they are looking decidedly unhappy, but the blooms are coming and should soon be out in full. This one, a Helleborus called ‘Mango Magic’, it the furthest along of those in the yard. There is a very large one with deep burgundy flowers that’s doing well, also and probably needs to be divided up into three or four plants. I do love the deep color of that one but the brightness of this one and a few others we have are quite nice, as well.
Dorothy drove down for spring break with five of her friends, arriving around 11:00 last night. Today we drove up to Pennsylvania for the day. When this trip was planned they talked about camping but as the date approached it was clear that wasn’t going to be realistic. When we got there, there was about six inches of snow on the ground. We were able to get a fire going and cleared off the log benches so we could sit around it. We took a few short walks but mostly stayed close. It was cool but the sky was clear and there was no wind to speak of so it was very pleasant. Dorothy set out a beach chair and did some reading. This isn’t the stereotypical spring break but everyone seemed to have a good time.
We got this watch out of the safe deposit box recently to show Cathy’s cousin and his wife. It belonged to Cathy’s grandfather, Benje’s great grandfather. It was made by the Waltham Watch Company and is a Model 1892. This is the second version of the model, with the serial number next to the barrel bridge. It’s not in perfect condition but it’s still very nice and we keep it in the safe as much to keep it from being knocked around as anything else. I believe this watch was manufactured in or around 1896, based on the serial number. Because it was made as early as that, when D. B. was only 12 years old, it may have belonged to his father before him or of course he could have bought it used.
At closing for Margaret’s house last Friday, Mary gave her a box of Belgian chocolates to celebrate the deal. She often gives this sort of thing away but thought that maybe this time she’d keep it for herself. With Dorothy and her friends coming on Friday, she thought maybe she wouldn’t even offer to share, as if she did, they’d disappear pretty quickly. I took a few pictures of them this evening for my photo of the day. Not the most inspiring picture I’ve taken, but they do look good. I can’t tell you how they taste, of course, because she’s not sharing. Actually, she offered me one but I declined. They belong to her and it’s her celebration.
I took a few pictures as I walked across campus to a meeting early this afternoon and then a few more on the way back. On the way over I saw a flock of native sparrows bopping around in the underbrush and took a few pictures but really they were too far away to get anything worth posting. I also took some pictures of the ripples on the stream that flows through the property. On the way back I looked for the sparrows but they seem to have moved on. There were, however, a few American robins (Turdus migratorius) pulling worms out of the grass. Although they are migratory, we have them year round here, with those that migrate from New England and Canada only making it this far south for the winter.
Margaret, Cathy, and I were invited to dinner this evening by Karen and Tim, who are visiting from Michigan. They are staying at the home of some other friends who graciously hosted us, along with a few others. We had a nice time talking about their work with an eye hospital in Afghanistan as well as various other travels. It was a pleasant evening with good food and enjoyable people. I only took a few photos but this one of Tim and Karen with Margaret turned out pretty well.
The couple that bought Margaret’s house gave her this bromeliad at closing, along with a very sweet card thanking her for choosing their offer and making their “dream of home ownership a reality.” We’re not very experienced with growing bromeliads but what I’ve read seems to indicate they aren’t all that difficult. They don’t need to be watered in the usual way and many of them don’t even have roots that take in nourishment. Instead, the cups formed by their leaves should be filled with water and that’s really all there is to it. They are not terribly long lived and often die after blooming but of course their blooms are what they are mostly grown for. They will often produce off-shoots, which can be cut off and potted up to replace the “parent” plant.
I once designed a house that has a conservatory inspired in large part by the Peirce-duPont House at Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. In that, I imagined at the very least a section devoted to tropical plants, including ferns, orchids, and bromeliads. I’m very unlikely to ever build the house, of course, but I can picture it in my mind’s eye and enjoy the serenity of the indoor garden, sitting in a wicker chair with a pot of tea and a good book.
There was snow in the forecast for this afternoon and this evening and we got it. Someone had said that we’d be getting two feet of snow, but nothing approaching that was ever in any official forecast that I saw. We got somewhere under a half inch and that only on grassy areas. The roadways we were on never had any accumulation. It’s also supposed to be colder this week, with temperatures in the mid 20s or even down into the teens one or two nights this week. The forecasters on the radio are breathlessly telling us about the “bitter cold“ weather we can expect. I’m sorry but I can’t get too exercised about temperatures around 20°F. I wouldn’t describe that as warm, of course. It’s cold, but definitely not “bitter cold.“ I’m happy with anything below zero being described as bitter. I might even grant “bitter“ status to single digit temperatures. But not low to mid twenties. Sorry.
The snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) along the edge of the woods near my office have been in bloom for a week or more. Those in our yard are in a more sheltered spot and tend to bloom later but they are coming out now. Early this afternoon I decided to take some pictures of them with snow all around them. I got a few like that but decided I like this close up better, even though it doesn’t show the snow. They’re not really open in this picture but they open up on warm days before closing up at night. With yesterday’s snowfall, they have gone back into winter mode but it won’t be long before they are open for good. The daffodils are also coming up and showing signs of buds in amongst the leaves. It’s still winter here, but spring is coming.
With closing on her mom’s house earlier today, I had planned on a celebratory dinner. Margaret already had plans to attend the Missions Banquet at church today, so we’ll have the real celebration next week. Cathy and I decided to go out, anyway, although we didn’t eat anywhere fancy. We went to BGR The Burger Joint, which was fine. The concept of a “gourmet burger” is something of an oxymoron, but it was a good burger, anyway. It was raining pretty hard but we decided to walk from BGR to the Barnes and Noble at the other end of the outdoor mall. We stopped along the way under cover at Copper Canyon Grill and I took a few pictures of Cathy by their fire. It’s a shame that they have to put up a heavy, metal fence to keep people from burning themselves, but I suspect either their insurance company or the local government insisted.
It’s hard to believe the day has finally arrived. Well, actually it hasn’t. The day is tomorrow but I went over to my mother-in-law’s house today to get the very last thing out (a dehumidifier from the basement) and to take one last set of pictures. I could always stop out front and take pictures but it won’t be the same. As of noon tomorrow this house will belong to new owners. We don’t know a lot about them but they sound like a nice family and they seem really excited to be moving into this house. I certainly served Cathy’s family well and was a good home for 50 years. But time marches on and things change. We’re glad it’s going to a young family and we wish them every happiness. While change can be hard, and getting to this day has been a struggle, this particular change is a blessed relief.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I met some friends from work at Uncle Julio’s for happy hour. It hadn’t been a particularly happy day and I decided I would benefit from socializing as opposed to coming home and reading or more likely dwelling on my frustrations. Shortly after everyone got there my phone rang. It was Cathy saying she had a flat tire. She ended up taking an Uber to where she was going and I picked her up from there a little later.
We went to work together today and I attached a pump to the flat tire to see if it would hold air at all. Almost immediately I notice the head of a screw in the treads and figured it wasn’t worth the effort. It wasn’t going to hold air. Around lunchtime I went over to her building and put on the spare. I would normally joke that the tire was only flat on the bottom but as you can see, it held its shape pretty well. This was taken with the tire in the back of the van. I was happy to find that the spare had air.
Just one of those things.
I’m not really a big Happy Hour celebrant and I don’t do a lot with people from work outside of work hours. Nevertheless, I went out with eight others from work today and enjoyed myself. It had been a particularly rough day, with a problem on a system I’m developing that I could not figure out. It made no sense and nothing I did seemed to make any difference. Finally I gave up and figured I’d have better success looking at it again in the morning. Then I went out and took some pictures, including this one, before meeting my friends in Uncle Julio’s for an hour or so. I’m pretty pleased with this picture, showing the pond at the Rio as well as Copper Canyon Grill and various other buildings behind it.
This is part of the pattern on a jaguar skin that we found in my in-laws’ basement. It was in a barrel that had been sealed and managed to survive in reasonable condition. We figure that it’s been there since the mid 1960s and have no idea how long before that it was actually brought here. Cathy’s grandmother lived in Peru for many years and brought quite a few animals back as well as some furs. Among other things, she had a pet ocelot, a coatimundi, and a vicuña as well as many birds. The Coati ended up in the National Zoo, I believe. We have the skin from Perla, her pet vicu&#xn1;a. Obviously a jaguar is a whole other matter and as best we know, she never had one as a pet. I certainly isn’t something we expected to find and we’re not sure what to do with it. Since it was brought here, quite a few laws have been enacted prohibiting or limiting sale of such items. Probably most significant is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which was passed in 1973. It is “an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.” It also limits the sale of animal parts owned prior to implementation. Not that we want to sell this and it’s not really in top condition, in any case. As you can see from this picture, trade in furs of endangered species makes jaguars sad.
We have two storage lockers with things from Cathy’s mom’s house. This is the first of the two and it’s a bit disorganized. That being said, there’s a lot of stuff in there and organizing it would be a pretty big job, probably an all day job. At one point I pulled a bunch of stuff out into the hallway and put together two sets of shelves along the right hand wall. That helped because there are things that can’t really be stacked on top of and the shelf space is much more efficient for those things. That’s not to say that everything that should be on the shelves go move, of course. The boxes in the middle of this photo have books (towards the bottom) and china and other kitchen and dining ware (towards the top). There are also a few slides in boxes through the ten by ten foot room. You can see some of them in the plastic bins and also the Kodak carousels against the back wall.