I didn’t really get outside today except to go to and come home from work. As the passed, I realized that I hadn’t taken any pictures today so shortly before 10:00 PM I started taking a few pictures of the fish in my main fish tank. I say ‘main fish tank’ because I currently have two, a largish, 70 gallon tank in the breakfast room (the ‘main’ one) and a smaller, 30 gallon tank in the family room. As of today, however, there are no fish in the smaller tank. There were only two, a fairly good size fresh water angel fish (Pterophyllum scalare) and this kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii). Catching them in the other tank was a bit tricky but I finally managed it. The loach was particularly hard, as it kept Darting under things. Finally I took everything out of the tank (the rocks, etc. so there were fewer places to hide. Those rocks have been moved, along with the fish, into the larger tank, and they seem to be doing fine so far. The plecostomus that’s been in the tank seemed happy to have more places to hide, as well, and has claimed the largest spot under the rocks for himself. This loach is the last remaining fish that I took from our friend Hannah when she went off to college a little more than four years ago. Sadly the others are all gone, but this little guy, who we actually hardly ever see, seems perfectly content.
I managed to get outdoors for a little while today and into the woods and upland next to my office building. It was warm but not hot and I enjoyed the break in an otherwise busy day. I got some pictures of a lady beetle on the same stand of yellow ironweed where I took the picture of the leaf-footed bug last Thursday (see Thursday, September 7, 2017). Then when I got out into the sun I was able to get reasonably close to this dragonfly, which I haven’t had time to identify yet. It’s a pretty thing and I particularly like the eyes.
Cathy and I went for a walk to and along a stretch of the Northwest Branch of Rock Creek late this afternoon. We made it as far as where the creek goes under Muncaster Mill Road and then followed the road back to our neighborhood and home. It was a nice walk and warm without being hot. As we were walking up Muncaster Mill, Cathy spotted this spider along the edge of the trees. It is probably a species in the genus Neoscona, the spotted orbweavers. Light was fairly low and this isn’t nearly as sharp as I’d have liked. Also, without seeing the dorsal view, it’s not really possible to make a good identification.
It was a cool day today, felling much more like October than September. I suspect we’ll get a bit more summer before it’s done but today was absolutely lovely. The maple tree in the back yard is starting to show some color and it felt very autumnal. In the late afternoon I went out back and took some pictures of hosta flowers. It was a smallish hosta and I got down on the patio to take pictures. The warm concrete of the patio and the cool air was really nice. I noticed this little blue-winged wasp (Scolia dubia) and was able to get one reasonably decent picture (and a bunch of not-very-good pictures) of it before it flew off. This is one of my favorite wasps but they’re a challenge to get close to, so I was pleased.
Writers get writer’s block. I sometimes get photographer’s block. I just can’t seem to find anything interesting to photograph. In generally I’m interested in a wide variety of things and find it pretty easy to find some detail to look at. Occasionally it’s hard and today was such a day. So, as I was making dinner, I photographed the broccolini that I was getting ready to cook. It got me wondering what, exactly, broccolini is. Well, according to Wikipedia (which you cannot always trust, but in this case it’s probably right or at least close), broccolini is a hybrid between two cultivars of Brassica oleracea. One of those is regular, old broccoli and the other is called kai-lan or Chinese broccoli, which has been bred for it’s leaves instead of its flower buds. This gives broccolini it’s longer stems and smaller flower clusters. The way I like to fix broccolini is to parboil it briefly and then put it in a sauté pan with a little olive oil and some garlic and salt.
It was a beautiful day and I decided to go out into the woods today. Just after I crossed the creek on the fallen tree trunk I looked to see what insects I could find in the little stand of yellow ironweed (Verbesina alternifolia) and the first thing I found was this leaf-footed bug, one of probably two species in the genus Piezogaster. After that I took some pictures of the crab apples on the edge of what I call the uplands. There are both red and yellow apples and they’re quite pretty but then, they’ll be there when I come back in a day or two and I don’t know if I’ll see another bug like this for a while.
It was a busy day, picking up Cathy’s mom, coming back to our house and then going to dinner before taking her home again. When we were back at her house I took pictures of a few things in an old post office desk in the kitchen. This is a desk with an array of square cubbies used for sorting mail. It is currently used to house curios, one or two per cubbie. I’ve been meaning to photograph this pipe for a while now and today I got around to it. Grandma doesn’t actually smoke anything, much less using an Amazonian clay pipe. We aren’t actually 100% sure where this came from but we all assume it was from Cathy’s grandma, who lived in Lima, Peru for over 20 years and that it was made in the Peruvian Amazon region. That’s an educated guess but still just a guess.
I met the guys for dinner at Matchbox this evening and was a little early. It was raining quite hard as I drove there and I sat in the car a little while waiting for it to let up before heading in. The store lights across the street were lighting up the water splashing on and flowing down the windscreen of my car and I enjoyed watching the patterns it made. I have no idea, at this point, what the signs say and you certainly can’t tell from the picture, although at the time I remember wondering if I’d be able to read them in the pictures. By the time we were done with dinner the rain had basically stopped and I took a few pictures of the gas fire in the pit outside the restaurant entrance. But fire pictures are easier to come by. It doesn’t often rain as hard as it did this evening.
We went with Cathy’s mom to the Fourth Presbyterian picnic today at Rocklands Farm. We haven’t gone to Fourth for over 25 years but we still know a lot of people there and of course we know the Rocklands folks, so we had a wonderful time visiting with old friends. I took a bunch of pictures but I have to admit I took more of Janis and Greg’s grandchildren than all the other pictures combined. They’re all just so darned cute. Here are two cousins, Elsie on the left and Marit on the right, ‘driving’ the gator (actually it’s a Kubota, but their previous one was a John Deere and the name is a holdover from that). These two are clearly chums and I’m really happy that Marit and her family are back in the USA for the foreseeable future. Anyway, this picture makes me happy.
I went for a hike with a friend and his four lovely kids today. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and a perfect day to get a little bit lost. We were never really truly lost but we did miss a turn and ended up further from the car than we had originally planned. We enjoyed the woods and the kids in particular enjoyed kicking over mushrooms (after letting me get down on the ground to get a few pictures first). We also saw a slug and I got some nice pictures of that, if pictures of a slug can ever really be considered nice. This picture is a red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax), one of four subspecies of Limenitis arthemis. This is a very distinctive butterfly and quite a pretty thing. Yes, I know that it looks more blue than purple. It’s been mentioned. The ‘red’ spots (which are orange. I know, right?) are on the lower hind wings (i.e., the other side).
We babysat Kai for a few hours today and naturally I took a few pictures. Actually, he slept or was mostly quiet in his crib for most of the time we had him. He didn’t fall asleep for about 20 minutes but was actually not very fussy during that time. After he woke up again we played with him a little and that’s when I took pictures. He was less happy for most of that time than he had been when left alone in his crib. Cathy had him somewhat interested in a few books but the pictures I took were not of a happy boy.
Then his mom came to the door. That’s when I snapped this one. Yes, the happy view we present on social media is often that one moment of joy in an otherwise bleak, joyless day (his, not ours, we were happy just to be in the same room as this beautiful little boy, even when he was sleeping). Enjoy this picture for what it is, a joyous smile on a cute little fellow. But don’t be taken in by the visions of perfection you see on Facebook, Instagram, and other such sites. They are often not a reflection of reality.
This hydrangea has taken a few years to get established. Last year it was eaten back by the deer, which didn’t do it a whole lot of good. We’ve managed to protect it (or have simply been lucky) this year and it’s doing much better. We planted it and another, blue hydrangea a few years ago but the other didn’t make it. This seems happy and the flowers, white and pink, are quite nice against the green of our back border. We’ll need to do a little pruning to keep the forsythia from covering it up, but I think it’s well on its way to being a favorite late summer bloomer.
Lantana is a genus of about 150 species. The mostly commonly grown species is Lantana camara, a tender, woody shrub native to tropical regions of Central and South America. It has become an invasive weed in many parts of the world but here, where winter temperatures are too cold for it, there’s no chance of any real problem and it is grown as an annual. It is toxic to livestock but it does not appear to be toxic to humans (although I don’t think I’ll be doing any experiments on that). The flowers are quite beautiful, changing colors as they progress from bud to open flower, leading to some wonderful color combinations. This one is sitting on our driveway and is quite happily brightening up the place with its yellow and pink blooms.
I don’t think I’ve posted a picture of this rose yet this year. It’s such a reliable little rose and I’m really happy that I got one to plant just outside our front door. The flowers are small but quite beautiful, with a delightful fragrance. It had a tough time the last few winters. This last was relatively mild overall but there was a week when temperatures were below zero fahrenheit and that’s tough on plants that otherwise do well in our zone 6a climate. It’s bounced back pretty well and has had a few flowers on it pretty much non-stop all summer and should continue until the first frost. What’s not to love.
I know that the title for this post is a little unimaginative. That’s sort of me, though. Generally straightforward and simple (mostly simple). I went out to take pictures of reflections of black-eyed Susan flowers in the water in our back yard birdbath. I got some that were reasonably nice but nothing I was excited about. I also took a handful of pictures of this leaf of grass, an ornamental grass growing in a container on the corner of the patio. I love water droplets on pretty much anything and I’m pretty happy with this picture. I hope you enjoy it, too.
Generally we don’t let our grass get quite this tall. This isn’t in the lawn, though, it’s growing in the midst of the black-eyed Susans and Verbena bonariensis in the back garden. There are a few places where grass gets itself and it’s hard to keep up with. This is one of them, not least because mowing right up against the garden is made more difficult by the flowering plants leaning out into the lawn. We don’t want to cut any more of them than is absolutely necessary. But maybe we’ve let it go a little too much. Anyway, I actually think this is quite beautiful, with the afternoon sun shining on the awns (the ‘hairs’ extending from each floret).
We have a lot of black-eyed Susans growing in our yard. Mostly in the back but they self-seed and are here and there throughout the yard. I suspect our neighbors are not overjoyed with them, but they aren’t as invasive as some things we have (<cough>goose-necked-loosestrife<cough>). I love having all that yellow-orange in the back yard from early July on and even as they start to fade, they are still beautiful. Most of them are not looking like this, although they will be before too long.
Mom sent me a text this morning (that by itself is pretty remarkable) asking if I wanted to go to Eastern Market with her. She was looking for local figs, particularly brown turkey figs, and heard that there might be some down there. We did find a farmer’s stall that had about 2.5 pounds of them. She bought those. We were also able to buy about six pounds of black mission figs. They are sweeter but for making preserves, that isn’t really necessary. Their flavor isn’t all that different, though, so I suspect they will be quite good enough. While mom was buying her figs, I took some pictures of peppers. These are habaneros and I sort of think this might make a nice jigsaw puzzle. That’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.
As an acquaintance of ours once said, after biting into a pepper thinking it was a green bean, “Wow, that’s hot!”
I made a round trip to Boston today, taking Dorothy to school. She’s keeping the car with her but understandably didn’t want to do that long drive by herself. So I went with her and then flew home late in the evening. The drive itself was relatively uneventful. We were on the road by 6:30 and crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge before 8:30. Traffic was slow getting onto the George Washington Bridge as I suspect it is except for in the middle of the night (and possibly even then). Traffic remained heavy across the upper part of Manhattan Island and then off and on through the Bronx and most of the way across southern Connecticut, especially around New Haven and New London. We stopped for a long lunch in Mystic, just before getting to Rhode Island. Arriving in Boston after 4:00 PM on Friday, it was no surprise that we got into very slow traffic in the parking lots that pass for tunnels but we needed to get to Logan Airport and there are only so many ways to get there. My flight wasn’t until just before 9:00 PM, so we were not really in any rush.
Dorothy continued on to school from there and I got home without incident. That is, unless you count the mouse that was running around the departure lounge. I didn’t know about it until a lady screamed and jumped up onto the chairs.
I went out back today after work and found this little wasp on the mountain mint. I was only able to get a few half decent pictures of it before it flew off but they are good enough that I’m pretty sure it is a four-toothed mason wasp (Monobia quadridens). Like the potter wasp in yesterday’s picture, the nests of the four-toothed mason wasp are provisioned with caterpillars. The cells of nests are separated by mud partitions, which is why they are called masons. At least I think that’s why. Maybe they are members of the fraternal organization of a similar name.