Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)

Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)

Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)

It was a busy day today, starting with a church picnic and service at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg. We had to leave that early, though, to get to Poolesville for the memorial service for a long-time, family friend. It was a really nice service, in spite of the heat in the tiny church. We went to the family home and visited with folks for a while. When we left there, we stopped at McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area and walked a little while. I only took a few photos but I think this one of an eastern wood-pewee (Contopus virens), a small flycatcher, is pretty nice.

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Sandy Spring Meeting House and Cemetery

Sandy Spring Meeting House and Cemetery

Sandy Spring Meeting House and Cemetery

It was a busy day today, starting off with us heading out to Rocklands to meet Dorothy and help her move a pile of mulch. I gave Dorothy a brief lesson in driving the tractor and using that certainly sped up the job. She did well, shifting gears without too much trouble. I do have a few photos of Dorothy driving the tractor but she’s not always anxious to have her photo posted, so I’ve skipped that for today.

Later in the day, Cathy and I went to see her mom. Unfortunately we got there just as they were all sitting down to dinner. Because of the Covid-inspired visitation rules, we were not allowed to see her. I don’t know if they ever plan to loosen the restrictions or if they prefer the near total lock-down. It’s certainly annoying to the family and friends of their residents. I suspect the question is whether it is easier on the facility administration.

In any case, we drove a little ways to the Sandy Spring Meeting House Cemetery and walked around that for a while. One of the grave markers is for Benjamin Hallowell (August 17, 1799 – September 7, 1877). He was, among other things, the first president of the Maryland Agricultural College, established in 1859. The school was renamed Maryland State College in 1916 and in 1920 it became the University of Maryland’s undergraduate campus.

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Sunflower

Sunflower

Sunflower

We took another visit to the Ag. History Farm Park today and Dorothy was there with us. I took more butterfly pictures, including a few of a black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes). I decided, though, that I’d post this photo of a sunflower, instead. It was a lovely day with a beautiful, blue sky and the combination of yellow and blue is so nice, I just can’t get enough of it. We missed the sunflowers at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area this year, so it was nice to get a small taste of them here.

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Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

We were back at the Ag. History Farm Park today. I mostly took photos of butterflies and managed to get a pretty good shot of this sulphur. They tend not to stay in one place very long but this one gave me a pretty good opportunity. I’m not sure which species of sulphur this is and there are quite a few that are fairly similar. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a species of Colias, but I’m really not sure. In any case, it was a beautiful day, not as hot as it’s been, and we were very happy to be outdoors.

Update: it’s been identified as an orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme).

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Letter Beads

Letter Beads

Letter Beads

We’re back in Lancaster, Pennsylvania today and have a wedding reception to go to later on. We spent the morning getting breakfast and then wandering around downtown. We happened to see this bead store the last time we were here and both Cathy and Dorothy wanted to see if there was anything interesting. They decided that there was. I have to admit the shear variety of beads and the extensive range of colors was really something. I didn’t take as many photos as I might have, but I did take some while the girls went through all the displays and picked out a collection of beads, both for themselves and as specific gifts.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Cathy and I went to the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park this afternoon and enjoyed the butterflies on the flowers. After being really overgrown during ‘the summer of covid’ it’s back in good shape this year and really lovely now. There were lots of skippers and I saw what I suspect was a fritillary but I really didn’t get a good enough look at it. It was the right color and size, though. There were both ‘standard’ and the dark-morph females. There was also a monarch flitting around but never let me get very close. The sulphurs and whites were likewise fairly skittish. So, I was pleased to get this one.

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Sphinx Moth (Hemaris sp.)

Sphinx Moth (Hemaris sp.)

Sphinx Moth (Hemaris sp.)

We happened to see this sphinx moth (Hemaris sp.) in our front garden this evening. The light was low so I wasn’t able to get as much depth of field as I’d have liked. I prefer not to use the built-in flash on my camera but sometimes it’s the only way to get a decent photo and I think this one turned out well enough. They are especially hard to photograph while flying and in low light but it was nice enough to land for me. These are fairly common visitors to our garden. Not like swallowtails and skippers, but something we see often enough. They are most commonly drawn to the buddleia bushes. This one, however, had been on the Verbena bonariensis.

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Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

 Osprey  (Pandion haliaetus)

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

There’s a golf course a little way towards South Carolina from where we stay at the beach that has a pond we call Alligator Pond. There is a pull-off and a boardwalk that overlooks the pond, although there’s so much growing up between the boardwalk and the pond it’s mostly a lost cause. But there is a small opening in the bushes and we often see alligators there. As we pulled in I looked up and saw a bald eagle flying away from the pond. It was gone long before I could get to my camera. There were, however, two ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) that circled for quite a while and I was able to get one pretty decent photo. We also did see an alligator and around the pond were both egrets and wood storks.

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Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

 Tufted Titmouse  (Baeolophus bicolor)

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

Since the last time we were at the beach, the town of Shallotte has created a small park called Shallotte Riverwalk. Cathy and I decided to check it out in the hopes of seeing some water birds. I think going at low tide would be better but it was still worth a visit. We saw an egret and a great blue heron but both a fair way off, so no pictures of those. The only bird I was able to get a good photo of was this tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) in a tree.

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The Family

The Family

The Family

On thing we try to do every time we go to the beach is take a family photo. Some years there have been fewer, a few years there have been more. We’re actively missing Albert and Ralph, of course. And for years, Dorothy’s friend Karlee came with us. But we also have the three little ones and this is Eloise’s first time at the beach. After two summers without a beach trip, it was great to be able to be together this year. We’re also thankful for David driving across the country to stay here with his (and Cathy’s) mom while we were away. It didn’t end up being exactly what he had expected but he took it all in stride, as he usually does.

Starting at the back, left to right, we have Cathy, Dorothy, Tsai-Hong, Eloise, Seth, Steve, Silas, Iris, Kai, Maya, George, Dot, Danna, Carmela, and yours truely.

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Atlantic Ghost Crab (Ocypode quadrata)

Atlantic Ghost Crab (Ocypode quadrata)

Atlantic Ghost Crab (Ocypode quadrata)

Cathy and I walked west on the beach this morning and I stopped to take a few pictures, including pictures of two different crabs. This one is an Atlantic ghost crab (Ocypode quadrata), which is generally nocturnal. They burrow down as much as four feet into the sand to stay out of the hot sun, but occasionally they come out and can be seen. The other crab we saw was some species of spider crab. I also got pictures of a jellyfish on the sand, a grackle with a piece of crab in it’s beak, and some brown pelicans flying overhead.

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Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

We did a few different things today. Late in the morning, Cathy, Dot, Tsai-Hong, and I took Silas and Eloise to the new playground near the island’s town center. They enjoyed climbing, sliding, and the playing in the fountain. A little later, Cathy and I went to the old ferry landing near the eastern end of the island and I photographed some wading birds. The tide was all the way in and most of them were far enough away that I wasn’t able to get many great photos, but we did see a bunch of different herons and egrets as well as a pair of wood storks. This shot of a snowy egret (Egretta thula) is really the only close-up shot I got, except one of a laughing gull on a post.

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Changeable Weather at Ocean Isle

Ocean Isle Beach

Ocean Isle Beach

We arrived at Ocean Isle Beach yesterday, after a relatively smooth and uneventful drive. We even managed to get to Richmond in two hours, which on a “beach Saturday” is something to be pleased and amazed at. Because I’m no longer forcing myself to take a photo a day, I didn’t bother with any yesterday, although we did go out on the beach. It was actually nice to be able to enjoy the beach without having to worry about that.

Beach weather can be changeable and the two photos I have here illustrate that. This first one, looking east, was taken at 4:06 PM.

Storm Clouds, Ocean Isle Beach

Storm Clouds, Ocean Isle Beach

The second photo, looking west, was taken twenty minutes later at 4:26 PM. Of course the clouds to the west were already starting to show up when I took the earlier photo but they were moving to the south at a pretty good pace. In the distance in this photo, just beyond the high rise at the end of the island, it’s already raining. As the clouds moved out and covered more of the island, most people moved back inside. Some, like me, stayed out to watch the clouds until the rain started coming down. At that point, there were lightning strikes within a mile, so it seemed like a good idea to be off the beach.

It rained very hard for a while. When it had passed, Cathy, Dorothy and I walked east to the pier and back, enjoying a quite spectacular sunset.

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Black Vulture

Black Vulture

Black Vulture

I’m not sure a medical rehab facility is a place you want to see vultures but that’s where this one is. They are, apparently, drawn to the fresh water and we’ve seen there here a few times. It’s both disconcerting and humorous at the same time. Of course, there’s no real connection between the vultures and the patients, which allows it to be funny. And we like birds, so we actually enjoyed seeing them. The first time we saw them there were five or more. This time, when I happened to have my camera, there was only the one, unfortunately. And I didn’t have a long enough lens to really get a good photo of the bird.

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Rob, Susie, and Craig

Rob, Susie, and Craig

Rob, Susie, and Craig

It’s worth keeping up with old friends. Old friends in the sense of friends we’ve known for a long time. This fall I’ll have known Rob (on the left in this photo) for 50 years, having met him in September, 1972, at the beginning of eighth grade when my family moved back here from England. I couldn’t tell you exactly when I met Craig (on the right) but I would guess sometime in the spring or summer of 1974, after I started going to Fourth Presbyterian Church. So, we go back a good way. Cathy and I stayed with Craig in Japan in February of 1988 as the first stop in our 7.5 month around-the-world trip. (Sadly my first few rolls of film from that trip never made it back.) We’ve known Susie the shortest time, but that’s only relative. We’ve know her since she moved to the area, about the time she and Rob became an item. We see Craig less often, partly for the obvious reason that he spends so much time in Japan. It was great to get together with them and get caught up, even a little.

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Our Garden

Cathy in Our Back Garden

Cathy in Our Back Garden

I’m posting this more than a month after it was taken. As you can see, we have a little bit of black-eyed Susan in our back garden. If you don’t like yellow you might not like our garden in late July. Thankfully, we’re happy with that color and the difficulty is keeping it under control rather than keeping it alive. It does have a tendency to move about on its own and we’ve even started pulling it out in a few places. This photo has a single tiger lily in the center. That’s nice but the big clump of them in the front yard it really the way this should be grown. It’s quite amazing for about three weeks in late July. We’ve also had a pretty successful summer with our elephant ear. Last year’s didn’t really do anything but I’m happy with this one and hopefully can keep it alive for the years ahead.

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First Cousins

Dot, Mary Ellen, Anne, LaClaire, and Glenn

Dot, Mary Ellen, Anne, LaClaire, and Glenn

Mom and I drove down to North Carolina this morning for our annual family reunion. Last year’s was out doors but with the forecast calling for temperatures above 100°F, it was moved into the meetinghouse hall, which I think was a good choice. Although we didn’t take a full-group photo, we did took photos of each generation. This is the first of those, with the remaining five first cousins. When I was growing up, the oldest generation was the five sets of parents of these folks. The last of them, Aunt Mary, died in 2010 at the age of 104. Of the eleven children—the first cousins—five remain, with mom (Dot) being the oldest. It’s great to see them all together and also good to see the next three generations still getting together every year.

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Still Life with Mango Lassi

Still Life with Mango Lassi

Still Life with Mango Lassi

We went to Fourth Presbyterian this morning with Dorothy and after church decided to go into Bethesda and walked around a little while before stopping for lunch at Tikka Masala, a very nice Indian restaurant on the north side of Elm Street, a half-block from Arlington Road (https://tikkamasala.us/). I took this photo of a bottle of cold water, a small vase with pretty (although fake) flowers, an interestingly textured water glass, and Dorothy’s mango lassi, against the open window to the street. I also took photos of the food, but that’s overdone (even by me) so I decided to skip that. I had lamb saag. Saag, for the uninitiated, is a creamed spinach which in this case had very tender chunks of lamb meat in it. I consider it a good test dish, although that’s risky because it’s sometimes very bad. I’m happy to say that at Tikka Masala it is quite good and if you like that sort of thing I highly recommend it.

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Daniel and Renee

Daniel and Renee

Daniel and Renee

Two posts back I had a picture of the bouquets that Dorothy made for Renee and her bridesmaids. Today we see the lovely bride and her new husband. The wedding was delayed a little, as we were late getting there with the last of the flowers, but it was lovely. Daniel and Renee look pretty happy, as you’d hope and expect. You can see the flowers even better in this photo than in the previous one.

From the church we went to a friend’s yard, where the tent was set up and where we had decorated with more flowers. We had pizza cooked in a woodburning oven on a trailer (among other foods). I was honored to be allowed to be part of such a festive occasion.

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Good Harbor Beach

Good Harbor Beach

Good Harbor Beach

After we finished getting things ready for tomorrow’s wedding (or at least did as much as we could get done today), Dorothy and I went to Good Harbor Beach. We sat on blanket on the sand and read our books while the sun was setting behind us and the sky turned that wonderful blue that you can only see after dusk or before dawn. There was a layer of low clouds over the ocean and the picked up some wonderful color, which was reflected in the water. Add the moon and here’s what you get. And in case you’re wondering (as I was), Zillow says that house is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.5 million. I think you can see why.

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