Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

It was a cool but pretty day today with a little bit of snow still on the ground from yesterday. It happens to also be my birthday and I’m 29 again. Actually, I’m 29 twice, if you know what I mean. We had a fairly busy day but ended it with a wonderful meal and a nice visit with our long-time friend, Yvette (who was one of Cathy’s bridesmaids many moons ago). Just before we left for her house I got some pictures of the sunset from the back door. It was a good one.

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Winter’s First Snow

Winter's First Snow

Winter’s First Snow

We had the first snowfall of the winter today and it was quite nice. We got at least two inches although it never really amounted to anything on pavement, which was warm enough to melt all of it. That includes driveways and sidewalks as well as roads, so driving was not a problem. That’s just as well because I had to go get a few things for the bathroom and Cathy went to a bridal shower for a friend. The snow was pretty on bushes and trees and this arborvitae (Thuja) looked really nice with fluffy white snow held in its branches.

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Troy, Kasia, Katie, and Ben

Troy, Kasia, Katie, and Ben

Troy, Kasia, Katie, and Ben

We had our annual office holiday party today. It’s not really much like the holiday parties you see in movies or sitcoms. We have a buffet lunch and a beer or two (I don’t think I’ve ever gotten around to having a second beer, actually). There is a silent auction and a 50:50 raffle to raise money for a local charity (we raised over $1,800 this year). The Senior Vice President (and Study Area Director) over the group spoke for a little bit, introducing some folks who have joined the group since last year’s lunch. This is a picture of Troy, Kasia, Katie, and Ben, with whom I’ve worked for quite a few years.

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Cathy

Cathy

Cathy

I only took a few pictures today but I think this one turned out nicely. That’s Cathy, obviously (and in case the title of the post didn’t make it clear). This is a pretty casual photo. Cathy was reading on the sofa in the living room and I was on the other sofa and asked if I could take her picture. The camera was set wrong for the first one. I had the exposure set to manual at 1.3 seconds at f/18 from last night when I was taking pictures of Christmas lights. That picture would have been good otherwise, but the motion kind of messed it up. This one is good, too, properly exposed and without the motion-induced blur of the first one. I think it’s nice and she certainly looks relaxed.

In a little over a week (on December 18, to be precise) we will have been married for a third of a century. I don’t suppose 33 years, 4 months is a generally recognized milestone but perhaps it should be. It’s a while, anyway, and I think we’ve done pretty well.

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Christmas Lights (But Not Ours)

Christmas Lights (But Not Ours)

Christmas Lights (But Not Ours)

I took pictures of some of the Christmas lights in our neighborhood this evening. Pictures of lights at night is a bit tricky, trying to balance the blackness of night with the very bright points of light, which tend to turn white unless you are careful. Then, the in between parts, that should have some light, tend to get a bit too dark. I’m reasonably happy with the way this one turned out. Just so there is no confusion, this is not our house and these are not our lights. We’ve been a bit overwhelmed with everything else that’s going on and Christmas decorations are a bit beyond us right now.

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Grandma’s Bedroom

Grandma's Bedroom

Grandma’s Bedroom

I’ve posted a few pictures of the progress that’s being made on the new bathroom and I’ll put up another one soon, but tonight I thought I’d post a picture of grandma’s new bedroom, formerly our family room. Well, lately it’s been neither. It’s been the storage and work room for out builder, and in this picture you can see tools, two doors leaning up against the shelves, the hardwood flooring for the new hall, and even the bathroom sink faucet in the upper left. Later this week lights will be installed in the ceiling of this room and next week the carpet should come up and the floor refinished (along with the new floor in the hall).

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

I know, I know. Yet another sunset. Actually, they seem to be popular and we’ve been blessed with some nice, if somewhat understated sunsets lately. I had a very busy day at work and really didn’t lift my head from my computer until it was nearly time to go home. When I turned around there was just a little bit of pink in the sky. My office windows faces north, though, and this was taken after I went outside, looking to the south west, where there was considerably more color in the sky. The best color was due west but there are woods that direction and most of the view was obscured by the trees.

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Perigee Syzygy

Full Moon

Full Moon

As you probably learned in school, the moon’s orbit around the earth is not circular but elliptical. On average, the moon is 385,000 kilometers (239,000 miles) from earth but tonight is was at perigee, that is at the closest point in its orbit to the earth, and 357,492 km (222,135 miles) from earth. It’s also near syzygy, which is when the moon, earth, and sun all line up (which is when there is a lunar or solar eclipse). Because it’s not exactly at syzygy, it’s just a bigger than normal full moon. George loaned me his telescope a while back and I got it out this evening to see if I could get anything worth while. I bought a t-ring adapter and this is my first chance to use it.

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Pre-Sunset Sky

Pre-Sunset Sky

Pre-Sunset Sky

The clouds to the west showed a lot of promise this evening and I was really hoping for a spectacular sunset. Unfortunately, the color never really developed. The timing of positioning of the clouds and what little color there was didn’t line up, either, so I had to make do with this picture, taken about 20 minutes before the color would have been best. This is looking south-west from out back door. It’s convenient to have a view like that on the days we do get color, but you can’t always get what you want.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

On Tuesday of last week I took a picture of a sunset, which I posted here. That was taken in the parking lot of our local Safeway store after I came out from a brief shopping trip. This evening I stopped at Safeway to pick up a prescription and as I parked, I saw this to the west. Naturally I took a few moments to get some pictures before going inside. Most of the sky was clear, but with my 100mm lens, I could concentrate on the small amount of color just over the buildings.

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Buddleia

Buddleia

Buddleia

The buddleia blooms are long gone and with them the butterflies and bees. It’s been cold enough that the insects that live through the winter as adults have all gone to ground and those that don’t are returning to dust. The colors of summer are gone and the colors of fall have faded into brown and grey. But the buddleia bushes still have some interesting features. Where the flower clusters were there are now mostly empty seed capsules. I think they are pretty, especially close up.

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Alydus eurinus (Broad-headed Bug)

<em>Alydus eurinus</em> (Broad-headed Bug)

Alydus eurinus (Broad-headed Bug)

It was a gloriously beautiful day today and I had a little time for lunch so I went out into the empty lot next to my building and lay on my back in a patch of dry grass. The sky was a beautiful blue. The sun was warm but the air was cool, so it was perfectly comfortable. While I was sitting, this little bug flew up and landed on a blade of grass right in front of me. I was able to get a handful of pictures, although they are not as sharp as I’d like. I had to take it from a slightly awkward sitting position. When I tried to lie down to get a better position, I scared it off.

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Bathroom Progress, Day 19

Bathroom Progress, Day 19

Bathroom Progress, Day 19

Counting only work day’s, of course, and with some delays in terms of getting the inspections, we’re up to day 19. As you can see, the tile walls for the shower are up. The strip of red showing at the bottom is a rubber sealant that covers the entire sub-floor. That will be tiles over with 18 inch squares of a similar color to the walls. The shower floor will have the 2 inch tiles you can see in this picture (but those are not fastened down at this point, just sitting there and ready to go pretty soon. The two bottom rows of tile on the shower walls will go in after the floor (because they rest on the floor tiles. Anyway, it’s coming along.

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Autumn’s Last Hurrah

Autumn's Last Hurrah

Autumn’s Last Hurrah

I’ve posted a picture of leaves on this maple tree before but it’s one of only a few in my daily rounds that still has it’s autumn finery on display. As I post this, on the Sunday after the Monday when it was taken, the tree is totally leafless. So, this was pretty much it for this year’s display. Actually, there are still leaves on many of the Bradford pears on Norbeck and there are some sweet gums that are yet to reach their peak color, so there may be one or two more leaf pictures yet this fall, but we’re getting to the end.

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Mack Truck Bulldog Hood Ornament

Mack Truck Bulldog Hood Ornament

Mack Truck Bulldog Hood Ornament

According to Wikipedia, in 1893 brothers John (Jack) and Augustus (Gus) Mack bought Fallesen & Berry, the carriage and wagon company where John worked. In 1900 the first truck to bear the Mack name was produced, the Mack Bus. In 1922 the company name was changed to Mack Trucks, Inc. and the bulldog became the company’s corporate symbol. Since 2000, the company has been a subsidiary of Volvo. My grandfather picked up this bulldog hood ornament at some point and then my mom had it. I’m not really sure what the attraction is but it’s in our house now. So, I thought I’d take its portrait for today’s picture.

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Beech Leaves, Lake Frank

Beech Leaves, Lake Frank

Beech Leaves, Lake Frank

It was a quite beautiful, late fall day today and some of us went on a walk around Lake Frank. We started and ended at Flower Valley Park on Hornbeam so we were starting a fair way from the lake. In total we walked about 4.75 miles but by the time I was thinking we might turn back we were about half the way around and there wasn’t much point. In addition to family on the walk were two old friends, by which I mean friends I’ve known for a long time, not that they are particularly old. It was good to get caught up on their families and lives. I really need to make more of an effort to keep up with people, but day to day life seems to get in the way.

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Thanksgiving

Ready to Eat

Ready to Eat

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we had our Thanksgiving meal today instead of the more traditional Thursday. Iris had to work briefly in the morning but she was at mom’s before I got there at about half past noon. Our meal was the traditional turkey and all the fixings but of course, the real feast is being with family. I’ve decided to post two pictures from today, one as we were sitting down to eat. clockwise from far left: Steve, Danna, George, Carmela, Margaret, Dot, Cathy, Dorothy, Tsai-Hong, Iris, Seth, Maya, and Kaien

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

After dinner we sat and talked and occasionally laughed. Steve showed off the leather armor he has made for his live action roll playing (LARP) and I got some good pictures of both him and Carmela dressed in it. We also took family portraits, both with my camera and with mom’s. This is one of mine. Front, from left to right: Carmela, George (with Chester), Margaret, Cathy, Tsai-Hong holding Kaien, Steve, and Henry. Back, also left to right: Iris, Seth holding Bean, Dot, Dorothy, Maya, and Danna

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Monocacy Aqueduct

Monocacy Aqueduct

Monocacy Aqueduct

We decided to have our Thanksgiving on Friday this year and that meant that today we had nothing specific to do. I thought we might go to Tridelphia Reservoir and Brighton Dam Recreation Park but when we got there, the parking lot was blocked off and the reservoir was mostly drained. I assume they are doing some sort of maintenance work on the dam. Anyway, there was nothing for it but to go somewhere else. I decided to drive to the Monocacy Aqueduct where the Monocacy River goes under the C&O Canal and then meets the Potomac River. It was an absolutely beautiful day and there were very few people about, so we had a really nice time.

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Replacing Van Headlights

Replacing Van Headlights

Replacing Van Headlights

The headlights on our minivan have been a bit cloudy since we got it, many years and even more miles ago. It had about 115 thousand miles on it then and it’s up to 257 thousand now. The headlights are not terribly effective and on dark stretches of road, where there is no other traffic, they really were not adequate to let you see the road ahead. I’ve been meaning for a while to do something about it. I ordered a pair of lights and installed them today. As you can see, the lenses in these are much clearer than the old pair, sitting on the ground in front of the van. I’ve driven with them and they are a big improvement. Now that I know I can do it, I’ll buy another pair (they were $68 for two, with free delivery) for the van that Dorothy drives.

Each headlight is held in by one screw and three nuts that tighten onto bolts on the back of the lights. The screw is quite easy to get to but at least one of the nuts on each light was a little hard to reach (but not the same one on each). They all have 10mm heads but my 10mm wrench is fairly short (overall length 5.5 inches / 140mm), making it less useful than it might have been (but still my best bet in the tight space. I may get a long handled wrench before I do this on Dorothy’s car, although having done it once, I’m more confident I can do it again.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

On the way home from work I stopped at the grocery store to buy a few things. When I came out, the sun was setting and the light on the clouds was quite beautiful. I didn’t have time to get anywhere more open so I took a handful of pictures from the shopping center parking lot. With my 100mm lens I was able to avoid the buildings and parking lot lights and concentrate on the colors. This one turned out pretty well, I think.

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