Water

Water

Water

I really enjoy being around water. I especially like moving water but a still pond can also be wonderful. Moving water, though, has so much to offer. There is the texture of the surface, which is moving and yet the patterns are nearly still, frozen in shape by the rocks or logs over which it moves. There are also colors, which are sometimes quite subtle, that dance in the slight shifts of the water’s surface. And of course, there are the sounds. I love the sound of running water, which can say “cool and calm” when the stream is small, like this one, but can roar with power and fury when a larger stream or river drops over an edge. This is the small stream that passes my office building and although its bed has been altered to fit the development, the water and its movement is undiminished.

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Ice

Ice

Ice

We had a bit of freezing rain overnight and the trees and bushes were covered with a thin layer of ice in the morning. The local school system had a two hour delay this morning and that meant our commute was that much easier. In spite of the ice on branches and the school delay, the roads were wet but not icy. I took this photo of ice on an Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) twig next to where I parked at work. It rained pretty much all day.

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Ice On My Car Window

The View Through Ice On My Car's Window

The View Through Ice On My Car’s Window

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, it rained pretty much all day yesterday after there was freezing rain the night before. Overnight the water on my car’s windows formed quite large ice crystals. They were hard to get a good picture of but I tried, anyway. The problems is the lack of contrast in the crystals. Thus picture doesn’t actually show much detail in the ice but I like the way the wet ice crystals make the view beyond the window into a somewhat abstract image.

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Beech Woods and Stream

Beech Woods and Stream

Beech Woods and Stream

It was cool but nice out today but we were indoors for most of the day. In the late afternoon I really wanted to get outdoors, at least for a little,and take a picture or two. We often walk around the block but I didn’t really want to do that. There generally isn’t much to photograph, especially this time of year, unless I’m willing to walk up into peoples’ yards and possibly lie on the ground. That’s not really my style. I suggested we drive to the other end of the neighborhood, park at the park, and walk a little ways in the woods. We went down stream to where there are two bridges crossing the streams and then back up the other side. The woods are mostly American beech (Fagus grandifolia), various species of oak (Quercus species), tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), and a few maple species (Acer species). This time of year, the beeches are the most obvious because they still have leaves on them, although they are dry and pale, golden brown.

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Post Office Desk and Knicknacks

Post Office Desk and Knicknacks

Post Office Desk and Knicknacks

Some of the individual items in this photograph have appeared here before but I don’t think I’ve posted a picture showing the desk at large. On the left, hanging by one hand from the bookcase, is Edmund, a paper mache (a.k.a. Papier-mâché) monkey. Actually, when I asked Cathy if he had a name she said he did not. Then she said if he did it would be Edmund. Coco the stuffed baboon in 3,5, the bridal couple in 1,3, and the little blue pitcher in 2,4 have been photographed for posts before, so if they look familiar, that’s why.

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I’m A Fungi

Bracket Fungi

Bracket Fungi

A basidiomycete walks into a bar but the bartender tells him he’ll have to leave. He says, “But I’m a fungi!” I needed to get out of my office today so I took my camera and went out into the woods next to my building. There are a few snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) starting to bloom along the edge of the woods, which is encouraging. I also came across the carcass of a deer. There wasn’t a lot left except bones and it explained the presence of so many turkey vultures circling over head. This bit of fungus caught my eye, because of the variations of color. Very pretty, in a decaying sort of way. The ground is very wet and I really need some Wellington boots when it’s like this. I managed to stay mostly dry, though.

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Sterling Silver

Sterling Silver

Sterling Silver

We don’t have a lot of silver. It just isn’t “in” like it was in the past. No one cares all that much and silverware is generally not worth much (if any) more than the value of the silver it contains. The price of silver is currently at $15.61 per troy ounce (1.097143 ounces avoirdupois) and Sterling is 92.5% silver, so the price of Sterling is about $14.44 per troy ounce (or $13.16 per ounce). Not a huge amount. We use our silver for actual serving, since there isn’t much point in having it and not using it. The very ornate piece here, with the flowers on it, is a serving spoon by S. Kirk & Son and the pattern is called Repousse. Under that, with the grape vines, is a gravy ladle by ‘1847 Rogers Bros.’ The pattern is called Vintage and it was first production 1904.

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Deodar “Flowers”

Deodar “Flowers”

Deodar “Flowers”

These aren’t flowers, of course, as the deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara) being a gymnosperm is a non-flowering plant (the angiosperms are the flowering plants). These are the cones of a deodar cedar growing near one of the buildings on our company campus. It’s getting to be a fair size tree, with branches large enough to sit on comfortably. My grandparent’s had a deodar in their front yard in North Carolina and I’ve always been fond of them, especially when they get a little larger and start to develop their characteristic cedar shape rather than the more conical shape of the younger trees. They are native to the Himalayas and we’re near the northern edge of their hardiness range but there are enough around that it seems safe to plant one, if you have the space (which most suburban yards definitely do not have).

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Wire We Here

Miscellaneous Wire

Miscellaneous Wire

Having a small work shop in the basement, I naturally have things that I use more frequently and other things that I use less frequently. Wire is something I use less frequently, but still occasionally. It’s worth having a few gauges of wire around, both stranded and solid, as it doesn’t take up a lot of space and when you need it, you really need it. This wire dispenser sits on a shelf behind the radial arm saw, so the wire tends to get a bit of saw dust on it, but that doesn’t do it any harm. It’s a handy way to store and have wire available on those occasions when I need a little. Admittedly, that’s not very often.

I have a few plans that call for wire and I’d really like to get to them but with one thing and another, I never seem to get to them. One of them involves converting a Kodak Carouse slide projector into a slide “scanner” so I can digitize our fairly extensive collection of slides. Something like this is available commercially but $3,395 price tag put me off a little. That’s about what I spend on a car. Anyway, I have a few projectors lying around and figured it’s worth giving it a go. I don’t actually need much in the way of new wire for that project, but a little. The idea is to replace the high-power halogen bulb in the projector with an LED array and then put a diffusing screen between that and the slide. Mounting my camera with a macro lens pointing into the front of the projector, I should be able to get reasonable photos of the slides. The whole thing would be controlled with a few relays and some relatively simple code. Ask me in a year if I’ve actually gotten around to it, though.

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Table Inlay

Table Inlay

Table Inlay

Looking around for something new to photograph this evening I decided on the inlay on a small side table brought from my mother-in-law’s house. The pieces of the inlay are pretty small, mostly on the order of 1.5 to 2.5 millimeters. The table has what would be described on Antiques Roadshow as “condition issues” but they aren’t terribly obvious at a glance. Partly because there are always a few books covering them up. It could probably be repaired but it would be fiddly work.

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Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

It was a pretty normal, overcast, somewhat dreary, winter’s day today. No rain or snow but cool and damp. The ground is completely saturated and there is some leftover snow scattered around. It’s warmer than it’s been and forecast to be in the 60s this week. This is the remains of a black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia species). We leave them through the winter for the birds, although most of them don’t get eaten by the spring. Sometimes we’ll see goldfinches (Spinus tristis) or dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis up in them, but food is never really scarce around here.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

It was a relatively uneventful day today. I got some things done that have been hanging over me for quite a long time. Well, to be more precise, I got started on some things that have been hanging over me for quite a long time, but that’s a big step to getting them finished. There was a team of men working on cutting a tree down in the neighborhood and I took some pictures of that but then we had a pretty nice sunset, so this picture took precedence. It’s wasn’t a stunning sunset but it was very pretty, I think.

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Solomon

Solomon

Solomon

Solomon is our pet red-lored amazon parrot (Amazona autumnalis) and he just turned 33 years old last month. We don’t know specifically when he was hatched but he was about nine months old when we got him in October, 1986, so we figure January of that year is close enough. Since it’s now February, we know that’s past. He’s a pretty thing but fairly timid and is not really what you’d call a talker. He says a few things that you can almost understand but that’s about it. He also doesn’t chew on toys or anything else we put in his cage, so we don’t bother any more. He obviously eats but he’s not interested in chewing other things. He needs his beak and nails trimmed but otherwise, he’s in pretty good shape. You can see in this photo that he has new feathers coming in, which is always a good sign.

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Three (Piggy) Graces

Three (Piggy) Graces

Three (Piggy) Graces

I happened to be a few minutes early for a meeting down the hall from Cathy’s office today so I stopped in to say hello. I had brought my camera with me, as I sometimes do when walking across campus but I didn’t take any pictures on the way. As I was chatting with Cathy I decided to take a few pictures of this small figuring of the Three Graces done as pigs. As you can see, Cathy has put ribbons around their necks and one of them is wearing a fluff of some sort, which I have to assume came from Solomon (our Amazon Parrot). They are sitting on her window sill near two plastic alligators and a gecko.

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Calocedrus decurrens (Incense Cedar)

Calocedrus decurrens (Incense Cedar)

Calocedrus decurrens (Incense Cedar)

I’m a little late posting this but after yesterday’s snow squall, we had a nice cover of maybe as much as two inches of snow this morning. It was quite cool, down around 10°F (-12°C) and I put some salt down but being that cold, it’s not going to melt very much. I took some pictures in the yard before Cathy and I left for work. The sun was bright and was shining through the branches of trees that had some ice on them, which was lovely but hard to record very well. I decided to post this photo of snow on the branches of an Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) that is in the back of our yard. I planted four of them in the fall of 2007 and three survived. This is the tallest of them and is about 15 feet tall, I’d say. It’s starting to look like a real tree. The other two are doing fine but are not as tall, being about 12 and 7 feet tall respectively.

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Snow Squall

Snow Squall

Snow Squall

We had a little snow squall today, starting a little after noon. The temperature was above freezing when it started and when this photo was taken from my office window. The issue wasn’t really with the amount of snow that we were forecast to get, which ranged from two to four inches. The problem was that the temperature was supposed to drop to about 15°F (-9°C) and all the water and slush on the roads would freeze. When it snows at those temperatures, the snow isn’t nearly as slick as snow just below freezing. But ice is pretty slick regardless. Anyway, we’ll see what this does to tomorrows school closings. Not that we care so much about those now. The main effect they have on us is the reduction in traffic for our commute.

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Embroidered Pillow

Embroidered Pillow

Embroidered Pillow

How ’bout some color? This is a heavily embroidered pillow that’s in our living room. I don’t know anything about it beyond that and Cathy says it’s not old. Neither was it bought in some exotic land. Still, it’s quite pretty and in mid-winter, we can use whatever color we can find. After yesterday’s picture of witch hazel blooms, I’m a little more ready for spring. I actually prefer the cold over the heat of August, but we’re not going to do much gardening this time of year. I only took a few pictures today after taking quite a few on both Saturday and Sunday.

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Hamamelis (Witch Hazel)

Hamamelis (Witch Hazel)

Hamamelis (Witch Hazel)

I’m a huge fan of witch hazel (Hamamelis species). They’re small trees well suited to the suburban landscape and wonder of wonder, they bloom in mid-winter! Many years ago my father, Cathy, and I went to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton Regional Park in February and I remember falling in love with witch hazel at that time. Now whenever I see them in bloom, I remember my dad and remind myself that this is a tree I want to plant in my yard. Now that I have a space in the front yard that needs a small tree, this may be the spring when one gets planted. There are varieties with red, orange, and yellow flowers and I think all of them are terrific. The yellow, perhaps, stands out as being the brightest but they’re all worth the effort.

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Seth, Iris, and Silas

Seth, Iris, and Silas

Seth, Iris, and Silas

We had a Family Dinner Night today and it was a very nice time. After dinner, as usual, we gathered in mom’s apartment to talk and watch the kids play. Kai, at two and a bit, is really starting to communicate verbally and is a very relaxed, easy going kid. He has an incredibly cute smile and a twinkle in his eyes that reminds me of his grandfather, although he’s certainly his own person. Silas, as 7+ months is not really a brilliant conversationalist yet, but that will come. He’s already starting to show a personality, as you’d expect, and it very cute, as I’m sure his parents will attest. This evening he and his dad were wearing matching t-shirts with Papa Bear and Baby Bear on them. Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, if you will. The ties were a later addition but were a nice touch.

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Leica 35mm Rangefinder Camera

Leica 35mm Rangefinder Camera

Leica 35mm Rangefinder Camera

I posted a photo of a few old cameras recently, including a few that my mom’s father (one of my grandfathers) owned and used. In my knowing memory, however, he only ever used a Leica 35mm Rangefinder camera. When he died, his son, my uncle, inherited the camera and then when he subsequently passed away, his children let me have one of them (so I’m not sure which one this is). In any case, it’s a Leica IIIc, which was made from 1940 to 1951 and I’d guess this was from after the war. It needs a little cleaning but it’s in basically working condition. It saw a lot of use and it’s a pretty little camera which reminds me pretty strongly of my grandfather.

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