Cathy and I went for a short walk early this afternoon, going around the upper half of the large block where our two office buildings stand. We met between the buildings, near a drainage pond and while I waited a few minutes for her to get there, I happened to see a small group of European paper wasps (Polistes dominula) working on a nest in a small tree. It was at a very good height to get a picture. So, naturally, I took a few. The European paper wasp was first seen in North American near Boston in 1978 but it is now present pretty much throughout the United States and Canada. It is often mistaken for a yellow jacket but is the only species of Vespidae that has mostly orange antennae, which makes it easy to identify (if you are willing to get close enough).
I spent a good while out back trying to get some butterfly pictures this afternoon. This buckeye was the largest of those out on the verbena bonariensis but I also got some pictures of a few others, including cabbage whites (Pieris rapae), a Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice, and what I’m pretty sure was a little checkered-skipper (Genus Pyrgus). I also got a few pictures of a tiny metallic green bee (genus Agapostemon) but that was a tough little critter to catch.
Update: The skipper has been identified as a Common Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus communis).
On Thursday I posted a picture of Grace, on of Dorothy’s two friends who came home with her for the mid-term break. I think it only fair that I also post a picture of Bobby, the other friend. He really liked Solomon and wanted to hold him but Solomon is a bit timid. Nevertheless, with a little coaxing, we were able to get them together.
Yesterday, as planned, the three kids went to Richmond for the day so it was a regular work day for me. Today, we drove out to Rocklands Farm (http://www.rocklandsfarmmd.com/) and had a really nice morning visiting with Janis and Greg. The kids also really enjoyed the animals. Funny, as I write that I picture these three kids as kindergartner at a petting zoo, but of course they are all about 20. Actually, they acted a little more like kindergartners than 20 year olds, but it was fun.
We got home and they packed their car, leaving to head back to school at about 3:45 and getting there at about 1:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. We enjoyed seeing them but it was too brief a visit.
Cathy bought this plant this spring and it’s been in constant bloom all summer and is still putting on a pretty good show out our kitchen door. We’ve had cleome before and sometimes it is tall and spindly but this one has a nice, bushy habit, just the right height (it’s growing in a large pot, which adds to its apparent height), and with stems sturdy enough that they haven’t blown over even in the storms we had on occasion. I highly recommend this variety, if you can find it.
It’s midterm time at Gordon and Dorothy drove down late Wednesday (yesterday) with two friends. They actually got here early this morning but pretty much went straight to bed. This evening, we had one of our Thursday Night Dinners, eating at our house rather than going out. We had a pretty good crowd and it’s easier with that many to avoid big restaurant tables. We god dinner from Bombay Bistro and enjoyed it in the living room. Iris brought her dog, Bean, and this is Grace, one of Dorothy’s two friends, holding him.
Cathy took the day off work and she went with Dorothy, Grace, and Bobby (the other friend) to Great Falls and spent a long while climbing on Rocky Islands, below the falls, and then ended up near the end of the Billy Goat Trail. Tomorrow the three young folk plan to drive down to Richmond for the day. Then we’ll spend Saturday morning with them and they’ll head back to Boston Saturday afternoon.
A few of you know the circumstances that brought me to the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building at Johns Hopkins Hospital this morning. I came to give some blood for testing. For those who don’t know what that’s about, I’ll just say that I’m fine and I’m here for someone else. This is a pretty amazing hospital in terms of activity. It’s like a hive. Of course it would be great if hospitals were not so busy but there you have it. For more information about the hospital and specifically about the Weinberg Building see this page: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/kimmel_cancer_center/our_center/facilities/weinberg/.
At the request of a few of my fans (I know you’re out there, I can hear you breathing) I’m trying to balance the insect pictures with sunset pictures. Actually, I pretty much take the sunsets when I can, but it’s not something you can just go out and find. They happen or they don’t (well, they happen every day but they aren’t always worth photographing). Today as I was heading into Rockville in the evening the sky was quite beautiful. Unfortunately I didn’t have a good place to stop until I got to St. Mary’s Church at the corner of Veirs Mill and Rockville Pike. That’s where this was taken.
I know a lot of my followers are not crazy about all my creepy crawly pictures but I’m pretty happy with this one. This is the full frame, not cropped, meaning I was able to get pretty close to this paper wasp (Polistes sp.) as it crawled around on some goldenrod growing in our back garden. Generally I wouldn’t want goldenrod but most things have finished blooming at this point and a touch of yellow is nice, even if it’s from a weed. There are still a few roses on the bush by our front door and the verbena bonariensis and buddleia still have some blooms, but the black-eyed Susans are all done, and that leaves the back yard with a lot less color. There were a half dozen wasps of at least two different species of Polistes on this goldenrod plant and I was able to get in close with my macro and flash.
Fall is well and truly here now and the weather has been beautiful. We were spared any significant rain from Hurricane Matthew and today was clear, breezy, and cool. In the mid afternoon Cathy and I took a walk along the north side of Lake Frank. I carried my camera but only a single lens, the 70-300mm zoom. That, unfortunately, is not ideal for macro shots because it doesn’t have a very close minimum focus. Still, I was able to get this picture of some tiny mushrooms growing out of a root crossing the path. If I had brought the macro lens, I’m sure I could have come back with a better version of this.
Once again I don’t have a lot to say about today’s picture. The title really gives you all the information you need. These are apples. I believe these are ‘Gala’ apples, to be more specific, and I bought them at Latte Plaza for $0.69 per pound, which is about as good a price as you’re going to get apples. Recently our local Safeway has started carrying ‘Envy’ apples, which I like quite a bit but which seem to vary in price quite a bit from one visit to the next.
Today was one of those ‘didn’t find a lot to photograph’ days. I went out back and took some pictures of seeds on the Iris domestica (blackberry lily) and even got some more with our friend the spotted cucumber beetle. Then I went around front and tried to get good pictures of a large spider in the middle of an impressive web near our driveway. The spider wasn’t cooperating, though. She sat in the middle of the web, which was nice, but pulled her legs in so she appeared to be a slightly hairy blob. Not very interesting. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw this little fellow. He darted in and out of the ground cover by the driveway and I caught him on one of those excursions. I don’t really know but I assume this is an eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus).
When I got home I went out back and took a few pictures of the clouds over our neighborhood. This is the sort of sky you’ll see in a painting and think, the sky never actually looks like that. Well, it does. I had every expectation that about an hour on there would be a very dramatic sunset and I left the camera by the back door so I could go out and get pictures. The fact that you are seeing this non-sunset picture has probably clued you in that it didn’t happen. In fact, an hour later when the sun was setting and I looked out at the darkening sky, there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. So, this is it, then.
I wandered around the yard this evening looking for things to photograph. I took some pictures of ferns in the shade garden at the north corner of our yard but I decided they were not all that interesting. Perhaps that’s nothing new around here. Perhaps. But I try, I really do. I sat on the front walk looking at the pink flowers on the hardy begonia that’s been blooming there all summer. It’s very happy and the flowers, while not individually showy, are pretty and in mass, particularly when seen against the bright green leaves, are very nice. Here is a close up, showing the unusual, yellow stigma this flower has.
I was in downtown Rockville again this evening, meeting a few other guys for dinner. I got there a bit early and took a few pictures but city scenes, even small-city scenes, are not really my thing. The plaza is undergoing it’s annual transformation from an open place where people mingle with a fountain where the kids play in the warmer months into its winter form. A skating rink is built in the plaza with a small pavilion at one end where skates are rented. This evening it was about a third the way through this transformation. On the lines of trees down each side of the plaza are lights, wrapped around the trunks and up into the branches. That’s what this picture features.
We had some trees taken out a few years ago and their roots are rotting. They are underground and out of site but the mushrooms are a pretty good sign that the wood is being broken down. The mushrooms are quite happy and are scattered through the area around where the trees were growing. I got down on the ground to take some pictures of them and after a while I noticed this spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) on the underside of one of the mushrooms. Getting a picture looking up at the underside of the mushroom was a bit tricky, but I managed it and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
It’s one thing to have an obscure reference or symbol on a grave marker. In fact, it’s fairly common and in consequence, many of the otherwise obscure symbols are documented. You can easily find references that will tell you about them. But what if you want a symbol that no one will understand and few will recognize? Put it in a book and then make sure to reference it. In this case, page 35 of “Principia of Universareology” and it further notes that copies may be found in various public libraries. I’ve checked the library catalog for our public library system and they don’t have a copy. In fact, searching on “Principia of Universareology” only uncovered two links on these entire interwebs. The first is to the Find-a-Grave page for this marker. The second is a PDF of Vol. 13, No. 3, Fall 2005 of the “Coalition Courier” newsletter, Published by the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, Inc. On page two is the following paragraph (which is also quoted on the Find-a-Grave page):
In the Summer issue we included a picture of John William Benson’s grave marker and asked if anyone could shed light on the symbol. Eileen sent along copies of the pertinent pages of “Principia of Universareology” written by Mr. Benson of R[ockville]. The symbol is a concentric heart. The “heart” has 7 layers and a flame at the top and a circle at the bottom. The flame represents religion-theology. The chambers represent: govern-ment-politics; operatics-operation; body-physiology; animal-zoology; matter-chemistry; astronomical-astronomy; and universe. The bottom circle represents ‘entinal chaos of and before the dawn of the beginning’. So there you have it. Thanks again Eileen.
We had a lovely time visiting with friends and enjoying some nice music at Quench off of Shady Grove Road this evening. Our friend Bob has played there a few times but this is the first time we were able to come hear him. Before Bob sang, we heard from Scott and then a group called Know1Else (http://know1else.com/), both of whom we enjoyed, but we were there to hear Bob. He sang some familiar songs but also a bunch of his own, some of which I’ve heard and enjoyed before and a few that I hadn’t. The food and beer was good, the music was fun, and we were with friends. It doesn’t get a lot better than that.
This time of the year the spiders are quite think in the lawn and garden around our house. I’m not sure why we only see them this time of year but in the morning when there is dew on the ground we look out and see their webs all over. There must be three or four dozen of them in our backyard alone. This picture is looking down on the spider from directly overhead as she stood on her bejeweled web out in the grass in our backyard. This was in the evening, as the day cooled and the webs began to collect water droplets for the night.
I know I shouldn’t do this two days in a row, but today I have another example of older packaging. Yesterday is was penetrating oil, today it’s Coleman’s Mustard. On the right is the old, metal container for this powdered mustard. On the left is a new container. In this case, the new container is also made of metal, except for the lid, which is plastic instead of the elliptical metal lid on the old tin. This is the back of the old tin. The front looks basically the same as the new one. On the new tin, the front and back are much more similar to each other, with the red lettering on both sides, although it still has the cow on the back.
We’re in the days of plastic containers and I’m not sure it’s a good thing. It certainly is a less aesthetic time in our history. This is a metal can of Liquid Wrench®, otherwise known as a brand of penetrating oil. This can came from my dad’s workshop and it’s possible that before that it came from my grandfather’s. This isn’t something you go through quickly but it’s a great thing to have around. I’ve ordered another 4 ounce bottle but of course it’s plastic and not nearly so attractive. It’s basically the same, though, although the new bottle says ‘improved formula’ and it doesn’t say deodorized. But, It Melts The Rust Away!