We have a small porcelain dish with a beautiful, dried flower decoration on the bottom. The dish is heart shaped with a ruffled edge and the decoration is beautiful, in my mind. The interesting thing is that when we got the dish, it had no decoration in it but was a simple, ivory color. The decoration shown here is actually real, dried flowers that were in the dish with a little water. The water evaporated and the flowers and their stems adhered to the bottom of the dish. They are, I assume, quite fragile and could be cleaned out very easily. Nevertheless, I think they’re lovely and thought they deserved a photo. Sometimes it’s hard to improve on reality.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Great Falls today, along with half of the county population. It wasn’t really as bad as that but there were quite a few folks there. Also, the National Park Service, in their wisdom, has not only quadrupled the entrance fee to $20 per vehicle, but they no longer accept what is otherwise considered “legal tender for all deebts, public and private.” This, of course, slows entrance to the park considerably,
It was a lovely, cool, sunny day and we enjoyed walking about 4.5 miles round trip down the C&O Canal past Widewater to the Angler’s Bridge. I took quite a few photographs, including a good number of a great blue heron. We also saw ducks and cormorants and a belted kingfisher. This photo is of reflections in the canal of rocks and trees on the far bank and I really like it’s abstract quality. Dorothy said it reminds her of works by Chuck Close, and I certainly see the similarities.
We had a family dinner night this evening, with carry-out from The Big Greek Cafe, one of our favorites. They boys were in top form. First, they both got behind the curtains and then jumped out to surprise us and laugh. Late we asked them to climb up on a chair together. As is usual when trying to photograph youngsters, it was hard to get them both smiling and looking at the camera at the same time. Nevertheless, there were quite a few that turned out well and I think their parents will enjoy them all. This is my personal favorite, although I liked others pretty well, too.
Today I’ afraid it’s going to be another “I have to find something to photograph” type day. At a little after 10:00 PM, I picked up my camera and starting looking around for things to photograph. Dorothy asked me to document the various pieces of the large nativity scene that’s set up on the piano and I did that, but I’ve posted a photo of that already, so I didn’t want to repeat it, even from a different angle. I photographed this little pecking chicken toy that’s been out since Cathy’s brother and nephew were here, so that’s what you get.
Last week Dorothy bought some white tulips and had them in a vase in her room. Before going away for the long weekend she moved them down to the dining room table, so we got to enjoy them while she was gone. They are well past their prime now but I took pictures of them in their wilted state this evening. In this particular vase and with the diffuse lighting I used, this reminds me of a still life painting and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I have a photograph from 2010 of roses in a vase that also reminds me of a still life and that one may be one of the best photos I’ve ever taken, certainly in the top 100 (not that I’ve ever actually graded them like that). This one isn’t quite up to that standard but I’m still pretty happy with it. I really wish I could paint. Not that I’ve ever really tried, but it’s a lot of work and without a lot of practice, it’s just not going to happen. There are a couple folks I knew in my high school days who are professional artists and I love seeing their work.
After yesterday’s snowfall, today promised to be quite nice. Cool but clear. There were still some clouds when we left for work today but between them, the sun was shining and making all the show quite dazzling this morning. I really like snow on branches and took quite a few photos this morning before we left for work. As mentioned yesterday, local schools were on a two hour delay so we didn’t have any problems with traffic. The roads were all clear and mostly dry, although it’s my understanding that in the northern and western parts of the county it was a bit icier. This wasn’t the sort of snow storm that paralyzes the region. We still have plenty of time this winter for something like that, though.
It started snowing late this morning and it came down fairly hard the rest of the day. Cathy and I had come to work together and she had some things that needed to be done, so we didn’t leave until about 5:30. Because of the snow, most people had left early and there really wasn’t much traffic on the roads, which was nice. It’s been warm enough that the road surface wasn’t too bad, anyway. This was taken as I waited outside Cathy’s building to pick her up. We probably got an inch of snow on grassy areas, but it didn’t really have a big impact on us. Local schools are opening two hours late tomorrow, which means we shouldn’t have any trouble getting in, either, which is nice.
I went over to mom’s after work today and the sun had just gone down when I got there. The sky was clear but near the horizon the color changed from pale, grey-blue over head through magenta to a nearly purple blue at the horizon. This photograph doesn’t capture it perfectly but it’s as good as I could get. I really like color transitions in nature. I think perhaps my favorite is the deep blue to nearly black of a perfectly clear sky, but this one is pretty nice, too. The fact that the two ends of the transition are blue but the middle is so very different makes it pretty interesting.
As dusk this evening there were no clouds to the west and absolutely no color in the sky except a pale blue, fading to grey. In the northeast, however, through the trees across the street, there were some low clouds that were touched with color. That’s what this picture captured. It only lasted a few minutes but I was fortunate enough to see it and have my camera handy. It was a nice, quiet day and we spent about an hour in the used bookstore, which we both enjoy. Not that we really need more books, of course, but there you are.
We drove down to Tyson’s this evening and met our friend Jean for dinner. It’s always good to get together with her and it was especially nice to be able to hear about her new job and all that was going on with her family. Of course a new job can bring anxiety but so far things seem to be going well. She’ll be quite busy, learning the ropes and it’s a fairly high-pressure office, but we’re confident she can handle it. Unsurprisingly we also talked about our kids and other things that are going on. She brought us some wonderful treasures as Christmas presents, but I won’t make you jealous by telling you more about those.
I left work a little early today and stopped at Redgate Park on the way home. If you’re familiar with Redgate Golf Course, then you now know about Redgate Park. I played this course back in the day—not a lot, only a couple times out of the one or two dozen golf outings of my sporting career—and but it has now been closed and is a park. According to The Sentinel, management of the course was transferred to Billy Casper Golf, a golf-course management company headquartered in Reston, Virginia. I can confirm that the state of the grounds it pretty pitiful.
I walked around a bit and took photos of Asiatic bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) as well as these broadleaf cattails (Typha latifolia). I also saw a nearly frozen snake. I’m pretty sure it was alive but it could barely move in the cold weather. Kind of creepy, actually.
In the wild, this species of fig is a tree growing to over 100 feet in height and with a spread of 200 feet. This specimen is, obviously, a little smaller. The tree, variously known as the Chinese or Malayan banyan or the curtain fig, is native from China through tropical Asia and the Caroline Islands to Australia. As a houseplant it is a good choice for bonsai, taking training quite well. In the case of this plant, it is what is known in the trade as a ginseng ficus. The “stems” are actually roots. The plant is allowed to grow with these fleshy roots underground and then the plant it re-potted so that they are above ground, giving the appearance of ginseng roots. This was a gift to Dorothy from her friends, Rachel and Andrew.
On fifteen of the last seventeen new year’s days we have gotten together with a slightly varying group of people. Most of those years we were hosted by Amy although we hosted for a few of them. We were at Amy’s again this year and this is the crew. We had our traditional fondue lunch, with three pots for meat fondue and one for cheese. That’s one of the few things that has been constant through all the years. Anyway, this was and is a great way to start a new year. This also begins year ten for my photo blog. I’m hoping my camera can make it through another year of this. The expected life for the shutter in my camera is only 100,000 shots and I’m more than 70% over that (this image is number 173,093) so I feel like I’m living on borrowed time.
As 2019 draws to a close, I’ll give you one final sunset for the year. It’s been a year with all sorts of ups, downs, and adjustments. I guess the two biggest things to report are that Dorothy graduated from college and went to live in Alaska for five months. We really enjoyed our trip to Juneau to see her and that was probably the highlight of the year for us. We also enjoyed seeing her senior art show two weeks before graduation, although that was a bit more whirlwind.
This photo finishes nine years of taking at least one photo a day. Will I continue? Probably, but you never know. Thanks for the very few of you who actually read these posts rather than seeing just the photographs on Instagram. God bless you.
On the way home this evening, the sky in my rear view mirror was quite lovely. I thought about stopping a few times but there wasn’t really a good place to get a view of the sunset. The light was shining on the bare branches of the Zelkova trees on Norbeck and I also considered stopping to get a photo of that (but didn’t). When I got home, much of the color had left the sky or was too low to see clearly through the trees and between the houses. Nevertheless, I took a few photos before the color disappeared completely.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Dorothy doesn’t particularly like to have her photo taken. This evening, when I mentioned that I hadn’t taken any pictures today, she was nice enough to offer to let me take her photo. I only took five shots (not wanting to press my luck). One of them has what she describes as a fake smile. One had no smile at all. Actually, I considered using that one. Nevertheless, I chose this one, which has a sort of half smile. It’s not a “laughing at a good joke” smile but it’s a “I’m pleased” smile. If you know Dorothy, you know this smile and appreciate it.
As 2019 draws to a close, I looked back and the photo I took on December 29, 2010. It also was a photo of Dorothy. Her hair was cut relatively short and was a bit wild (the caption was “Dorothy’s Bad Hair”). From that day to this, I have taken at least one photo every day. While my “official” Project 365 began on January 1, 2011, I took photos the three days leading up to that, so I have completed nine years and begun year ten. Will I finish a tenth year? I have no idea. The future, like the past is another country.
Dorothy’s (and our) good friends Andrew and Rachel stopped at our house on their way home from visiting with her family for Christmas. We had a nice dinner and then sat around a roaring fire and talked about all sorts of things. I took quite a few photos of the fire but only a handful of the three of them. Neither Dorothy nor Rachel particularly like to have their photo taken. I got it over with early so they could relax. We really enjoyed having them visit and look forward to seeing them again.
This is a close-up of the nativity scene on our piano. The more traditional figures, Joseph, Mary, Jesus, and in this case a llama, are from Peru. Cathy’s grandmother lived in Lima for many years so it’s not surprising that her family had things from there. The “barn” for this set is home made, with sticks fashioned into a sort of timber frame and with a woven mat for the floor, the back wall, and the roof. When Dorothy put this up, she augmented the attendants somewhat and I’m not sure of the authenticity of all the characters represented. The parrot fits with the South American theme, but I think the little Chinese boy may be a bit out of place. Also, when Mary asked Joseph about the tree in the background, he told her it was a Christmas tree. She asked what Christmas was and he said, “I have no idea.”
As noted, Darius is here. We have really enjoyed having him and David here and it really has “made Christmas fun again” as Dorothy had hoped. We were hoping to have Maggie here, as well, and that would have made it all the better, but forces beyond our control prevented that. Nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves. After the long day yesterday with stocking and presents at our house and then the big meal and larger family get together at mom’s (with a few more presents), we were pretty tired. So, today we didn’t do a lot. Mostly we just hung out and visited and played with Darius. No outings (except a quick trip to the grocery store) and no planned activities. They leave tomorrow (which means they already left by the time I’m writing this), and we’ll be sad to see them go.
Christmas morning, otherwise known as the calm before the storm, was nice this year. Santa obviously came and left a lot of things under the tree. He also seems to have finished the puzzle that we were working on. I guess he must have been ahead of schedule and wanted to take a break. It was mostly the sky that was left for him to do, which was the hardest part of the puzzle. Naturally he ate the cookies that Darius left out for him and he the pieces of carrot that were left for his reindeer were also gone, so they seem to have gotten their treat. As you can see, in addition to all the presents under and around the tree, there was one that Dorothy “wrapped” that’s hanging on the wall. Needless to say, this didn’t stay looking like this for too long. But we did have breakfast before diving into all the gifts.