Thirty-five years ago, Cathy and I were married. Has it been magical? I’m not sure I’d go that far. But it’s been pretty darn good and I think we’ve shown we’re in it for the long haul. I won’t say there haven’t been any rough times but over all I’d say we’ve done pretty well. There have been trials from outside and we’ve weathered those together. There have been trials from within and we’ve made it through those, also. I lean on her, she leans on me, and so far we’ve managed to stay standing, even if we stagger from time to time. I won’t claim to be a magnificent catch, but I try to do my part and she seems to be okay with me. Of course, as in all relationships that are worth anything, we try to remember to set aside a little time for silliness. Humor, which often means sarcasm, is a big part of the equation. Anyway, the deal was supposed to be that we’d grow old together. As you can see from the photo, she’s not growing old as fast as I am, which I think is a little unfair.
Cathy and I were able to get away for two nights and a day and we drove up to Harpers Ferry. From our hotel we walked into town today and enjoyed the scenery. It was in the low 90s and very humid so we were glad to take a break in the visitor center and museum in town (which was air conditioned) and then stop for lunch part way up High Street in an air conditioned place. We continued up the hill and I took this picture looking east over the cemetery towards the confluence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers. This was taken while sitting on a bench and catching my breath after the walk up the hill.
We had another day at Shady Grove Hospital today but before I went I took a few pictures in the back yard. There was a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and I had hoped to get a picture of that. I would have, except I had taken the memory card out of the camera and when I put it back in the write protection switch had been pushed into the off position and the camera would not take a picture. By the time I got it reset the butterfly was gone. I was able to get this photo of a western honey bee (Apis mellifera), instead.
As we were leaving Shady Grove Hospital this evening there was a really nice sunset. We were parked near the top of the garage, so it made sense to go to the top floor to get a good view of the clouds. The photographs don’t really do it justice, but the best part of the view was the sun itself, which was a deep, orange-red as it neared the horizon. It really was spectacular. The rest of the sky was covered with pale orange and I took some wide angle shots, as well, but I like this one, that shows the sun a bit better.
No, I’m not in the hospital, at least not as a patient. I met Cathy’s mom there early this evening and then Cathy joined us a little later. As I write this, four days after the fact, Margaret is home and the stay at the hospital is just a memory. At the time, of course, it’s a lot of waiting around punctuated by brief visits from the doctor and slightly more frequent visits from the nurse. We were in the emergency room and everyone was very nice. The sounds of an ER are not exactly conducive to rest. At about 11:30 they decided to admit her to the hospital and the nurse sent us home with a promise to call and let us know what room she has been moved to. I had taken a few pictures on my phone in the ER but took this photo as we left at about 11:45 PM.
I have yet another “insect on a black-eyed Susan” photo today. These are by far the most numerous flowers in our yard this time of year. They aren’t necessarily the insects’ favorite flower but most pollinators are fairly broad minded and visit lots of different plants. The Buddleia bushes are the clear favorites with the butterflies and the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) is probably the most popular with the bees and wasps, but they all visit the black-eyed Susans, as well.
My back was up to a full day’s work today. Although there were a few rough spots I made it through, trying to get up now and then to move around (because “Motion is Lotion” as they say). When I got home I took pictures of various flowers in the back yard. I really thought it would be pushing it to get down on the ground for photography. I did for the caterpillar photo yesterday but getting back up was a chore. So, I sat in a chair and photographed what was all around, including blue Lobelia, butterfly weed, Lantana, and a few other flowers. I like the Cleome with the black-eyed Susan flowers behind it.
I was a little worried about sitting through church this morning but my back tolerated sitting for long enough that it wasn’t a problem. We were happy to see some friends that visited the church a few weeks ago come back again today. After church we walked to the Stadtman Preserve next door to see what was going on there. They’ve been renovating the mid-century modern house that the Stadtmans build and lived in and it’s nice to see the progress. There were naked lady’s (Amaryllis belladonna) in bloom and I got a few photos of this little brown and white caterpillar. I have no idea what sort of creature it is. I’m going to guess a moth but I won’t go any farther than that.
I took some butterfly pictures this afternoon, as well as some flower pictures. While sitting in the chair that Cathy was in when I took the picture for a few days ago I could get pretty close to a few flowers without having to strain my back. Then walking around I saw this prettily colored ailanthus webworm moth (Atteva aurea) on a black-eyed Susan. It took me a while to get down on the ground to get the pictures but I think it was worth the effort. Although it’s named for and feeds on a non-native tree, the Ailanthus webworm moth is actually a North American native from Florida, where its original host was the Simarouba glauca (paradise tree) and Simarouba amara.
I met Tsai-Hong, Iris, Seth, and Silas at mom’s this evening for dinner. My back has improved quite a bit and I actually put in seven hours work from home. I did take a break to ice my back and I tried to get up and move around now and then. I came to mom’s without my camera bag, though, because it’s a bit heavy and that would be asking for trouble. I did bring my camera and flash, though, because I knew Silas would be there and as you can see, he was in a pretty good mood this evening.
This red Lobelia cardinalis is growing under the cherry tree at the north end of our yard. It’s really bright and I thought it was worth getting a picture of. With my back still bothering me I wanted to be really careful getting behind it so I could get the picture without having to bend over and with the trunk of the cherry tree available for me to brace the camera against. I was very carefully watching where I was stepping so I wouldn’t trip but about half way back, all of a sudden, I whacked my head against a ceramic wren nesting box hanging from a branch of the tree. I didn’t quite fall but it did my back no favors. Still, I got the picture. Coming back out I was even more careful where I walked and I kept an eye on that nesting box.
With my back still bothering me, I stayed home today. I did put in a little time at work, mostly a long phone call to discuss a proposal that is being written for a project that includes a web site. When Cathy got home from work I asked if I could take her picture for my photo of the day. She agreed and I took almost two dozen shots of het with her flowers. Most obvious are the Rudbekia (the Black-eyed Susans). There is also orange and yellow butterfly weed Asclepius tuberosa) on the right. In front of that is the pale pink spider flower (Cleome). There are other annuals in pots and there is the red teapot lower down.
For a while now I’ve bought butter in two-pound rolls. It’s a bit cheaper and we go through it quickly enough. In fact, I try to have one roll in the freezer that I take out (and replace) when the one in the fridge runs out. When Cathy’s niece Abba was here last year she took a photo on her phone of my two-pound roll on the counter. Sometime later She posted a photo of this painting on Instagram, titled “Our Own Mound of Butter.” I asked if I could buy it and now it’s hanging in our dining room.
I wasn’t able to get out into the garden to take any photos today. After going to the Motor Vehicle Administration (my favorite place) to register a new old car we bought my back started bothering me. By 1:00 in the afternoon I was having a really hard time. I got on the floor and did my “Say Goodbye To Back Pain” exercises. I went home shortly after 2:00 and spent the rest of the day on an ice pack. Late in the evening I got up and took a few pictures, including this one. I hope you enjoy it.
I’ve posted pictures that have Black-eyed Susans in them but today’s photo is just of them. To say we have a few is a bit of an understatement. The reality is that we have let them run riot and there are a lot of them in the back yard. They add so much color that we don’t really mind, especially around the patio. We’ve managed to keep one large and one small walkway through them, so we can get out into the yard. They are pretty popular with the pollinators, attracting bees, flies, moths, and butterflies. One interesting thing about them is the photos I take always look bluer than they look in real life and I have to correct for that. On the other hand, the leaves really do have a fair amount of blue in their green.
I chased down some butterflies in the back yard today, including this common buckeye (Junonia coenia). They are resident year round in the south as far north as North Carolina and they move north over the course of the summer. Because of that we tend to have them later in the year than other butterflies and I’ve only just started to see them. They are pretty easy to identify and are very different to the other species that we have. This one, obviously was interested in the black-eyed Susan flowers that are in such abundance in our yard right now.
We had our annual family reunion on the way home from the beach this year. It alternates between the Saturday we head down and the Saturday we head home. Either way, it makes for a long day but I for one really enjoy it and it’s one of the highlights of my year. I manage to keep in pretty good touch with a few of my second cousins and it’s good to see them face to face. We didn’t take a large group photo today but I got pictures that included most, if not all the 50 or so people there. We did get pictures of the five remaining first cousins, who were all there.
As our week at the beach came to an end, Brian from next door came over to let me know there was a nice sunset and that I should come out with my camera. There was this single cloud, far out to sea, lit by the setting sun, surrounded by the blue of the ocean, the sky, and the other clouds. I’m pretty happy with this picture as a relaxing reminder of a mostly relaxing week. Being with family for a week, it’s inevitable that there will be little things but for the most part, it was very nice and that’s how I’m going to remember it. The cottage we were in this year was good, in terms of layout, giving us the space we needed to spread out. Having the pool was a bonus and more enjoyable that I would have expected. It was shared with the three connected units, but that hardly mattered. One of those units was our cousins and it was nice being so close to them. If nothing else, it meant they could stick their head in our door and let us know about sunsets (and, as it turned out tomorrow morning, leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) hatching at the end of our path to the beach).
As usual, we took a family photo at the beach on the last day when everyone was still there (George and Carmela left shortly after the photo was taken). Tsai-Hong and Cathy had gone for a walk and were a long time getting back, which created some tension. Of course they were understandably not anxious to sit for a picture the moment they got back. They had walked to the far end of the island and back, covering over eight miles. The weather cooperated, though, as the light overcast meant we didn’t have to squint into the sun or put our faces in shadow by facing away.
I’ve gone to the Green Swamp a few times during our weeks at the beach. Sometimes with a largish group and sometimes just a few others. I went by myself today and had a nice time. I planned not to go too far, with the primary goal of getting some pictures. I got some nice shots of Venus fly traps (Dionaea muscipula) and sundews (Drosera sp.). It was fairly dry and many of the pitcher plants (the purple Sarracenia purpurea And the yellow Sarracenia flava) were a little the worse for that. Still, I got some pictures. I also got a good shot of a palamedes swallowtail (Papilio palamedes (. But this is my favorite photo from the trip, showing the long leaf pines (Pinus palustris).
Cathy and I drove to the east end of Ocean Isle this morning and walked on the beach, looking for shells and coral and I took a few pictures. The other day we had noticed a boardwalk going into the scrub off of one of the back streets and we decided to see where it led. from the corner of e 4 sup th /sup and winston-salem streets we followed a combination of boardwalks (over wet areas) and sandy trails that go as far as Charlotte Street (although we didn’t actually go all the way to the end). We saw three species of spider. There were lots of these spinybacked orbweavers (Gasteracantha cancriformis). We also saw a golden-silk orbweaver (Nephila clavipes) and a black-and-yellow argiope (Argiope aurantia). I also got a pretty nice photo of a slant-faced grasshopper (Subfamily Gomphocerinae). It was hot but there were occasional breezes and it was mostly shady, so we enjoyed it pretty well.