My Home From Home

My Temporary Office

My Temporary Office

Until the end of next week, I’ve been moved to an office in another building. I’m working with a team of programmers in this building so it makes sense, I suppose. There are times when it’s a lot more efficient to walk down the hall and discuss a change or a problem than to discuss over email or even the phone. I can connect remotely to my regular desktop computer, so I have access to my normal suite of software, including anything I’ve installed that’s non-standard at the company. It’s a pretty bare-bones office. I do sort of like the semicircular window, although the view out of it is of another building rather than the woods that I’m used to. I only expect to be here through Friday of next week, though. That is until the next time, when I get moved back here again. I don’t know if this is a subtle ploy to get me into a different group. I don’t actually think so, but you never know. Time will tell, I suppose.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

I found a new location for sunset photos today. It’s a little off my actual commute but not so much that it’s a real problem and I expect to be there again in the future. The sunset this evening was unusual, with both orange low in the sky (through the trees) and the bands of magenta a little further up, where the clouds were more dense. It was also more fleeting then usual. I took a total of eight photos and between the first and the last, less than two minutes, the magenta lines almost entirely disappeared. I’m glad I stopped when I did.

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Six Old Cameras

Six Old Cameras

Six Old Cameras

I don’t want to get into a debate about nature verses nurture but photography seems to be a family trait in my family. I knew my mom’s father took a lot of pictures. My parents and brothers got the bug, whether through exposure (pun intended) or a natural propensity. The six cameras show here belonged to family members, although a couple of them I know nothing about.

The camera on the right, with the red bellows, is a Kodak camera (model unknown) which belonged to my (paternal) great uncle Ralph. We have some prints (and some negatives) from this camera taken during his time at Oxford and travels through Europe, Egypt, and Palestine between 1910 and 1913. Sadly, it’s lost most of the leather covering, although I do have the very worn leather case that the camera is stored in.

The Speed Graphic, on the left, belonged to my (maternal) grandfather. I’ve used it from time to time, although it’s a lot of work. Once, when we lived in Alaska, I took multiple exposures on a single piece of film during the Independence Day fireworks display over Juneau. My father-in-law had one of these, as well, and used it in the 1950s until he recognized the advantages of speed to be had with a 35mm SLR.

There is a Univex Mercury II, which is a half-frame camera. That’s the one with the semi-circular bit on top, which made room for the circular, rotary shutter. We have quite a few slides from that, taken in the late 1940s by my grandfather. It uses a standard 35mm film canister but the images are only 18×24mm.

I don’t know much about the other three, in terms of who owned them or where they came from. They were found in basements as we cleaned out the two parental houses. There is a Bolsey Model B2 (1949 to 1956), a Spartus “35” (made by Herold Products in the late 1940s), and another folding camera, simply labeled Vario, which refers to the leaf shutter, not the camera as a whole.

I have a few more, including a panorama camera made by Eastman Kodak between 1899-1928. That’s to say nothing of the various 35mm cameras I have accumulated over the years. None of them are worth very much and almost none of them are in anything close to excellent condition.

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And More Snow

Snow

Snow

We got about six inches from late Saturday until midday Sunday. At that point I shoveled the walk and driveway and the picture from yesterday was taken about that time. Then it started snowing and was still coming down until about 11:00 PM. This morning we got up at about 5:30 and Dorothy planned to leave at 6:00 to drive back to school. There was an additional six to eight inches on the sidewalk ramp, so we got between 12 and 14 inches, I’d say. I got everything shoveled and the snow off of Dorothy’s car. In the end she waited until the sun had come up and left at about 8:00. Happily there was not much snow to our north and she had no problems getting back to Massachusetts. The sun came out later in the morning and it was quite beautiful out.

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Snow In The Trees

Snow In The Trees

Snow In The Trees

We had our first real snow of 2019 starting early yesterday afternoon. It showed a bit earlier in the week but didn’t accumulate at all. This time we ended up with about six inches on the ground this morning. It was a few degrees below freezing and the snow was quite pretty, although it was fairly heavy when I shoveled it off of the walk and driveway. This is a view up into the trees in our neighborhood and I really love the lines of dark bark and the white snow. We were out yesterday evening driving in it, which wasn’t a lot of fun, but it meant that we got to see our good friend, Karlee, so it was well worth it. Today we’re pretty much sticking around the house. Hopefully the roads will be clear by tomorrow, when Dorothy plans to leave for school. There wasn’t much snow north of here, so the majority of her trip shouldn’t be affected, in any case.

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Kai

Kai

Kai

The local’s got together for lunch today, ahead of the winter storm that was headed our way. We had a nice time walking though the halls and enclosed, connecting breezeways between the buildings. I took a few photos of one of the long breezeways as well as some photos of mom’s artwork, on display in a case in one of the buildings. When we were back in her apartment, I took a few photos of Kai as he played with his trucks. Silas was asleep by then, so I didn’t get any of him, but I need to make a point to photograph him. He’s really getting big, sitting in a highchair at lunch.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

As I was driving home this evening, I could occasionally see the clouds to the west starting to be lit up by the setting sun. There are very few places on my relatively short commute with a clear, unobstructed view of the sky. Unless the clouds are high in the sky it’s not really worth stopping to take a picture. When I got to Norbeck Road, though, with the sunset in my rear view mirror, I stopped and took a dozen or so pictures. By the time I got home, it was done, so I’m glad I stopped when I did. I love the orange flare coming up the middle of this photograph.

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Red Fox

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

I worked from home this morning and a little before 1:00 PM Dorothy called me and said there were two red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in our back yard. At first they were a little hard to get a straight view of, because they were off to the side, but then they moved across to the middle of the yard. This one stopped and sat, while the other walked right along beside the fence. Eventually, this one joined the other and they sat in a sunny spot in the bushes at the bottom of the garden. It was a cool day, just above freezing, and fairly windy, but out of the wind and in the sun, I imagine it was fairly pleasant for anyone or anything wearing a fox coat.

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Cathy In A Peruvian Robe

Cathy In A Peruvian Robe

Cathy In A Peruvian Robe

We aren’t entirely sure how this robe made its way to Cathy’s family’s house. Possibly one of her brothers brought it back from a visit to Peru, where their grandmother lived for more than 20 years. Or perhaps she sent it as a gift to one of them or brought it back herself, when she returned to the USA. In any case, it’s from Peru, possibly from the Machiguenga or the Asháninka, and it is made of cotton. The holes for the arms are fairly small and I was barely able to get my forearms through them. Cathy, with her mild claustrophobia, was a little worried when putting it on that she’d get stuck and need to be rescued, but it didn’t actually come to that. It’s a little long on her, coming to the floor, and the length is just about right for me. It’s in remarkably good shape, especially considering that it’s been hanging in a closet for at least 20 years. I’m not sure what we’ll do with it, though. In general I’d say it isn’t the sort of thing we’re likely to wear around the house or even to go out. But it’s a nice thing.

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Unusual Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

As I was driving home this evening the clouds were acting like there would be a wonderful sunset. By the time I actually got home, most of the color was gone, although there had never been nearly as much as there could have been. Nevertheless, I got my camera out and went into the back yard. This photo is looking basically southwards and I am pretty pleased with it. The colors are pretty accurate to what it looked like, with a lot of blue in the clouds themselves and three slashes of orange. I really enjoyed watching it until the orange disappeared and only the blue-grey clouds were left.

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BWI Airport

BWI Airport

BWI Airport

Dorothy flew up to Boston on Saturday to go to a wedding on Sunday. She had a busy but fun time visiting with friends and being, in her words, an emotional support animal. She flew home today and we picked her up at BWI at about a quarter past eleven. I took my camera with me because I hadn’t taken any other pictures today. This was taken from the top deck of the parking garage, looking towards the northeast end of the terminal building (Concourse E). I took a few inside, as well and none of them were really anything to write home about, but as I have to post one, here you are.

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Ornamental Grass

Ornamental Grass

Ornamental Grass

After church today we had a nice lunch with some friends. It’s good to have friends and these are among the best. It was a nice day so when we left them, we decided to to to Lake Frank and take a walk. We started at the south end of the lake and walked across the dam. From there we went through the woods on the Parilla Path to the Gude Trail, which we walked to where it hits a parking lot on Gude Drive. The round trip was a little short of three miles and it was quite pleasant. Walking west (outbound) we had the sun in our eyes, so the return journey was nicer, I think. But these tassels on some ornamental grass were nice, backlit by the afternoon sun.

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Fertile Fern Fronds

Fertile Fern Fronds

Fertile Fern Fronds

This is a fertile frond of a fern growing in a shady corner of our garden. I believe it’s an ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) but it may be something else. I know I have a few ostrich ferns in that part of the garden, but there are other ferns and I don’t remember what they all are. Anyway, these ferns are dimorphic, with deciduous, green, sterile fronds and vertical, brown, fertile fronds. These give a nice element of interest in the winter and then the spores are released in the spring.

I would like to add more ferns to this part of the garden this spring. Last year we did very little gardening except for some weeding early in the spring. During the late spring and most of the summer we were overwhelmed with a lot of other tasks and the garden got away from us, big time. This coming spring, I’d love to get back out and take the garden back, but it’s going to be a big task. Not quite as daunting as taking a piece of wild land and putting it into cultivation, but not as far short of that as I’d like. Parts of the garden really need to be dug up completely and started over. There are a few plants we’d want to dig up and put into pots to return to the garden when the time comes, but for the most part, it just needs to be started over.

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Pennies

Pennies

Pennies

I was looking around for something to photograph today and came across a jar of coins, mostly pennies. We have a few jars like this around the house and we really should turn them in for cash and be done with it. As someone who collected coins from my youth, however, it’s hard to do that without first looking through them for old coins. When I was a kid, wheat back cents were quite common, being produced up through 1958. Starting in 1959, the obverse was changed to feature an image of the Lincoln Memorial, as you see here. I still come across a wheat cent now and then, but it’s fairly rare. They aren’t all that valuable, of course, unless they are towards the older end of the run.

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Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Poinsettia (<em>Euphorbia pulcherrima</em>)

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Margaret brought this poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) home from church last Sunday and it’s been brightening our dining room table since then. It’s a particularly nice specimen, although we’ve never had a lot of luck keeping them alive for any length of time. They need to be watered but not over watered and houseplants often struggle with the excessively dry air indoors in winter. Getting the leaves to turn colors again is enough trouble that it’s generally easier to simply get a new one each year and enjoy it while it can be enjoyed. By the way, contrary to what you might have heard, the poinsettia is only mildly toxic, although some people are sensitive to the sap and it’s not something you want to eat. But you don’t need to be terribly afraid of it, either.

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Trunk Latch

Suitcase

Suitcase

Dorothy uses this trunk to keep her keepsakes. Today she went through them and got rid of some things that she decided she no longer wanted. It’s good to do that from time to time and after our experience of the last year, going through all the things at our two moms’ houses it’s something we have a little more awareness of. We also watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which is sort of fun at the same time it’s a little terrifying and voyeuristic. Anyway, this isn’t really a suitcase, although it sort of looks like one. It’s a relatively cheap fiberboard trunk made to look like a suitcase. But I like the color and especially the metal latch.

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New Year’s Day

Seated: Cathy, Margaret, Susie, and Karen. Standing: Dorothy, Kyle, Diane, Rob, Amy, James, and Henry

Seated: Cathy, Margaret, Susie, and Karen. Standing: Dorothy, Kyle, Diane, Rob, Amy, James, and Henry

Once again, we had our now traditional fondue party at Amy’s home. We had two pots for cooking meat and one with cheese and there were two wonderful salads. But of course, it’s not really about the food. It’s about being with people we enjoy. This was our fourteenth in sixteen years and Cathy’s mom was with us for the first time this year. Amy thought to extend her table so we were not quite as crowded while eating. We also stayed longer than we have in past years, getting home after 8:00 PM. It’s a really nice tradition and I was especially glad to have this visit with Rob and Susie, who we see for too infrequently.

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Well, it’s been another year. Here we are on December 31. In a few minutes it will be 2019 and we’ll all write the wrong year for a few weeks until we get used to it and can’t write anything else without concentrating.

This bottle of Champagne has been in our fridge for a while. It’s pretty sweet and has an almond flavor that’s not terrible but isn’t fabulous, either. But I thought it would make a nice New Year photo.

This is the end of my eighth year of taking at least one picture every day. That’s 2,922 days (but who’s counting?). Will I keep going in 2019? Who knows? Since I got this camera at Christmas, 2010, I’ve taken 161,548 photos on it. That’s an average of about 55 per day, although this year it’s been more like 33 per day. Even in these days of digital photos taken with our phones, I think I’m holding my own. A few of the photos are even worth remembering.

So, here’s to 2019. It’s a new year (just like every day) so make the most of it. Happy New Year.

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Sedum and Moss

Sedum and Moss

Sedum and Moss

In a small pot outside our front door is a tiny little sedum with moss growing around it. This is a surprisingly hardy little plant, being able to take single digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures in an above ground container without any significant problems. We aren’t sure which sedum it is, but Cathy’s guess was that it’s “Red dragon” which seems quite reasonable. The moss in this photo, with its two calyptrae (the spore bearing capsules), is a volunteer, but mosses are generally welcome here. The only places the grow that I would prefer they didn’t is between the shingles on the roof of our garage. I like them otherwise and would happily have a garden devoted to them, if I had the time and space.

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American Sycamore

American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Cathy and I took a walk in the neighborhood this afternoon. It was cool but the sky was an amazing blue and I stopped a few times to take pictures of trees against that blue. There are few that are prettier in the winter than the pale sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) against that blue and that’s what we have here. Just before I took this picture, we passed a yard with a large oak tree that had a fairly substantial branch which had broken off and which was suspended above the driveway and yard on some lower branches. The homeowner was trying to get a rope over the branch so he could pull it down. He was wearing a helmet and throwing a rope with a wrench tied to the end as a weight. It was pretty high up and by the time we got past he still hadn’t managed to get it high enough, but I assume he eventually did. Ah, the joys of home ownership.

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