As mentioned in the previous two posts, Cathy, Dorothy, and I are in Alabama for Karlee and Patrick’s wedding. The weather was a bit cooler than expected, even for this time of year, but they went ahead with their outdoor ceremony (under a pavilion roof but without walls). They provided hand warmers for anyone who needed them. With my suit coat, I was fine, although the girls were a bit chilly. After the service and before they came into the reception I was able to take a few photos of the bride and groom. So, may I present to you the happy couple.
After flying to Birmingham, Alabama yesterday and then driving to Gadsden, we had a good night’s sleep and then went out for the morning, doing a little sightseeing before this afternoon’s wedding. We found our way to Noccalula Falls Park. Most of the photographs you see of the falls are taken during a time of year with more water in Black Creek and are much more impressive. Nevertheless, it’s a very pretty place. From the path along the south side of the creek you can see the campground in the north side. We didn’t stay too long, because at that point we needed to get back to the hotel and get dressed for the wedding.
We flew down to Birmingham Alabama this afternoon and the drove a little way to the rehearsal dinner for our dear friend, Karlee. We were a bit late due to flight schedule changes but there was still food available to us in the buffet. I took quite a few photos including a bunch of Karlee and Patrick with various friends. Although Cathy and I had met Patrick once, Dorothy had not before today. This was one of the last photos of the evening of Karlee and Dorothy.
I love camellias of all types and although they are still not very large, I have six in the ground and one more ready to be planted. One that I planted in April, 2020, is a hybrid called ‘Winter’s Star’ that was developed by Dr. William Ackerman and introduced by the U.S. National Arboretum in 1991. This is similar to the Camellia sasanqua ‘Cleopatra’ that my dad had, and which survived better than most in very cold winters. This one is a cross between Camellia oleifera ‘Lu Shan Snow’ (for its cold hardiness) and Camellia hiemalis ‘Showa-no-sakae’ (for its flower form) and is considered to be hardier still. Native from North India to China and Japan south to Northern Indonesia, Java and Sumatra, many are not reliably hardy this far north. Anything that blooms this nicely the second week of November is a winner in my book.
After church today we went to the Agricultural History Farm Park for a little while. It was a beautiful fall day and a great day to be outdoors. We didn’t really feel like taking a long walk, though. We started, as we so often do, by walking around the shade garden next to (and part of) the fenced Master Gardeners demonstration garden. This spider, a marbled orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus) was there, sitting in the middle of her web (I don’t actually know this is a female). I know not everyone is enamoured of spiders but you have to admit, this little creature is quite beautiful in its own way.
For those of you who prefer flowers or birds to spiders, I’m posting two more photos. In the shade garden not far from the spider was the toad lily (Tricyrtis) seen in the second photograph. I’m a big fan of anything blooming in November, but I’ve never had much success getting this to grow in our garden. Seeing it here made me want to try once more, because it’s really very lovely.
We walked around the demonstration garden and I took a few more photographs there. Then Cathy walked over towards the barn and house and I moved the car there. I sat under a tree and took a few photos of birds and the third photo here—an eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis)—is the best (I think) of those. Even with my long lens zoomed all the way out I had to crop this photo a bit. I’m hoping to do better but thought I’d share this one now, anyway.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I took a trip up to Pennsylvania today to put a few things in the cabin and to take the front steps apart in preparation for replacing them. The stringers have mostly rotted away after over 40 years and it’s time something was done about it. We walked around a little and I took a few pictures including this one of the Trifoliate or Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata) growing at the edge of the woods below the pond. There is a cultivar called ‘Flying Dragon’ that has curved spines and more contorted branches, but this specimen is the species, which is native to China. If you want a hedge that isn’t going to be easy to climb through, this might be a good option.
We decided to take a walk on the Seneca Bluffs Trail today, heading downstream from where Seneca Creek goes under Maryland Route 28 (Darnestown Road). We walked about 2.3 miles each way, which was farther than I expected we’d go. For the most part this section of trail is not near the creek. At a few points you can see out into the fields that are on Sugarland Road. The trail has some ups and downs, reaching an elevation of just under 300 feet above sea level, from a low point about 90 feet lower. At one point the trail goes through a stand of eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), which is quite different to the surrounding deciduous oak, hickory, and tulip poplar. I’m not sure I’d do this section again unless I made plans to go all the way to Rocklands Farm, another eight tenths of a mile from where we got. If we had a car at both ends then that would have been very nice.
After church and also after running a few errands today we drove to McLean, Virginia and took a nice walk at Riverbend Park. We went northwest on the Potomac Heritage Trail about a mile and a quarter. The view of the river isn’t all that good for most of the way, but there were a few good spots for seeing out of the trees. There is a nice bit of trail where it climbs about 50 feet over a knoll into a beech and oak wood before coming back down to the river.
From there we drove to Great Falls Park and walked to overlooks 2 and 3 (where this photo was taken). Because I now have a lifetime senior pass, short trips to parks that we would normally not do to avoid the $20 entrance fee are basically free. As you can see in this photo, the river is quite low right now. We’ve seen it when most of the rocks in this photo are totally covered.
Did you know that in 17th century Britain jack o’lantern was a name for lantern-carrying night watchmen? That’s what Webster says, anyway. Reading there I also found out that the first known use of jack-o’lantern in print is in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, The Great Carbuncle (1837), which I happened to read earlier this year. Note that the carbuncle in the story is a deep red gemstone, not an abscess. Anyway, this pumpkin was carved by one of Anna and Greg’s sons and was greeting folks outside their front door. I think it’s a pretty well executed jack-o’lantern.
We went to dinner at Zack and Lexi’s place this evening. They live in a part of town we aren’t familiar with but we had no real trouble finding it, with the help of our trusty GPS. Traffic was slow at times, but that’s to be expected inside the beltway during evening rush hour. Jean and Dorothy also met us there. The original purpose of the visit was to load a sofa into Dorothy’s van (well, our van but her car is in the shop so she has our van). Once we did that, with a little three-dimentional Tetris, we went in and had a very lovely dinner and evening with our friends. This photo was taken with the camera sitting on the kitchen counter, so the angle is a little odd, but it turned out pretty well, in spite of that.
Cathy and I walked on the canal today, heading northwest (upstream) from Pennyfield Lock, getting near Blockhouse Point. We saw a Great Blue Heron and I got a few photos of that but thought this photo of a northern red-bellied cooter (Pseudemys rubriventris) deserved to be seen. These are large basking turtles and are fairly common along the canal, along with the smaller eastern painted turtle (Chrysemys picta picta). Often, and especially from a distance, the color pattern on these turtles isn’t easily seen. This one, however, was particularly vivid and with the help of my long lens (zoomed to 531mm, according to the exif data), I was able to get quite close.
We took a nice walk in Redgate Park today. The fall color has started but it isn’t really in full ‘bloom’ yet. I did get some nice photos of Carolina horsenettle (Solanum carolinense), American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) leaves which were a deep purple-red, and some pretty, peeling birch bark. Of course there were a few general scenery photos. We saw a heron at one of the ponds but were not anywhere near close enough to get a worthwhile photo and I wasn’t carrying my new, long lens. I got some photos of non-native and invasive plants, as well. These included the dreaded mile-a-minute vine (Persicaria perfoliata), Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), which is found throughout our woods, and porcelain berry (Ampelopsis glandulosa var. brevipedunculata), an Asian vine in the same family as the grape. The milkweed pods in this photo, probably (Asclepias syriaca), were really nice, though, so I thought I’d go with them for the walk’s featured photo.
The building my office is in needs a new heating and air conditioning system and the replacement was lifted onto the roof today. The back door to the building, which I normally use to get in, was blocked off and this crane was in the back parking lot, lifting the heavy equipment up onto the roof. This picture wasn’t actually taken out my windows, because I look out on the end of the building, so I went to a few different offices to take pictures. I admit it, I’m a sucker for heavy machinery. I’ve been told it’s a guy thing but I think it’s just certain people, both male and female.
My cousin and his daughter were in town this weekend. Iris and Seth hosted a dinner for them and the local family, which was really nice. We had carry-out from a Thai place. After dinner I took some photographs, including this one of the three youngest. It’s difficult to get a photo of them all looking at the camera and also not cringing from the flash. I’ll come clean and confess that this one is a composite of two images. Eloise wasn’t smiling in the best one of Kai and Silas, so I pulled her face from another image. I think it’s a pretty good shot.
I took this photo of Adam and Dorothy before the worship evening today. Adam, when he can make it, adds his guitar skills and brings an added level of depth to the music. Shown here laughing before the evening got started, they sit at the ‘front’ of the room but really we sit in more of a circle. As you can see, Anna has decorated the mantle with more dahlias from her garden. I should mention that all of my photos taken on these occasions are by available light, which at times has been relatively low, so the ISO is often set accordingly high. Here is was set to 5,000, allowing me an exposure time of 1/80 of a second at f/4.0.
As promised yesterday, here’s another photo of a visit with Cathy and Jim’s mom. This time, Dorothy joined us, as well as Jim’s friend Amy. We hadn’t met her before but really enjoyed meeting her and getting to know her a little. After our visit with Margaret (and after taking a few photos) we drove out to Rocklands and had Boxcar Burgers and a bottle of wine in the barn (it’s turned chilly). Anyway, back to this photo. I think it’s a really good picture of all of us, which is somewhat unusual.
Jim visited this weekend and we had a really nice time. Of course the main purpose of his visit was to see his mom. So, after his arrival late yesterday evening we headed over to see her this morning. Naturally I took a photo or two (and there will be another, larger group photo tomorrow). Our visit had to be cut short because of a memorial service that I wanted to go to. Jim and Cathy took naps in the afternoon and then he went to visit some other folks. All in all, it was a good day. Even the memorial was nice. Sad, of course, but nice.
We were at an event at the American Pharmacists Association building this evening where a friend of ours was honored by a non-profit that he’s worked with for about 40 years. The initial reception for our friend (and another honoree) was on the ground-floor terrace. Then we moved up to the rooftop (The Potomac View Terrace) for the main event, which was a benefit and fund-raising reception. The view from there was pretty nice, especially as the sun was setting and lit up the U.S. Capitol dome. The smaller dome on the right is above the National Statuary Hall, also part of the Capitol building. Between those two is the dome of the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History bisected by a flag pole on the roof of the FRB Federal Credit Union building, two blocks from where I was.
This is my first year growing dahlias. I’ve admired them for a long time but never made the plunge or spent the time getting and planting the tubers. This spring our friend Anna gave us a box of extra tubers that she had. I planted about a dozen of them and also gave some to a neighbor who said he loved dahlias. Years ago I created a small vegetable garden with a fence around it. In more recent years I had some oregano there and it took over the entire plot. So, in the spring I dug out the oregano in a little over half of the bed and put the dahlias there. They did much better than I reasonably expected. The one thing I needed to differently was tie them up in some way because they mostly flopped over. Next year I’ll do that. Most of the plants that I grew have orange blooms, although there were a few purple, as well, but all the remaining flowers are orange, as seen here. Soon I’ll need to dig up the tubers and save them for next year’s planting. I’m definitely hooked.
We stopped at Rocklands this afternoon after a fairly long walk on the C&O Canal, starting at Violet’s Lock and heading southeast well past Blockhouse Point. We saw a few herons and a lot of turtles and enjoyed the walk quite a bit. I took pictures there but really like this one of cosmos blooming in the historic garden at Rocklands, which Dorothy is in the process of weeding and renovating. It’s a large garden and there’s a lot to be done, but the flowers that are there are quite spectacular.