Cathy and I drove up to Pennsylvania today to replace the locks on the cabin. Over the years, the existing locks have been treated pretty shamefully by those wanting (and generally succeeding) to get in. It was bad enough that they had become loose but recently they got so bent that the door couldn’t be opened properly. Anyway, it was nice to get out into the country for a little while and it was a pretty day. We didn’t stay long but we walked around a bit and I took some pictures, such as this one of reflections on the pond.
Cathy has been doing a lot of work lately going through boxes of papers and photos from her mom’s house. When we moved her to out house in 2018, we put a lot of things in boxes to be dealt with when there was more time. For a while we didn’t really have the energy to deal with them but we’ve finally started in on them and are making some progress. The box Cathy’s going through here is mostly photos that aren’t that old, with pictures of Dorothy and her cousins. The number of photographs to be dealt with is truly staggering but we have to start somewhere.
Back in January, Dorothy brought some Ranunculus asiaticus for our dining room table. I posted a photo of one on Friday, January 17. They were lovely while they lasted. At the same time, Dorothy brought some pussy willow stems and I posted a photo of them the next day, Saturday, January 18. These, amazingly, have been on the sideboard in our dining room since then and are still looking pretty good.
Pussy willow is the a common name for various Salix species and Salix discolor in particular. The common name references their furry catkins, as seen in this photo. They are dioecious plants, meaning the male and female catkins are on separate plants. In general, it’s the male catkins that are used ornamentally as they are generally the more attractive of the two. They are very soft, like a kitten’s paw.
These embroidered shoes were in a box in Cathy’s parents house and along with a lot of other things, they made their way to our garage. We think they are Afghan wedding shoes. They are definitely shoes and they are Afghan. Beyond that, we don’t really know much. They don’t really look comfortable but then wedding clothes aren’t designed primarily for comfort. They would be more comfortable than Afghan pizors (see Wednesday, March 28, 2018), but that’s not saying much. On the other hand, the pizors are pretty durable. The embroidery on these shoes is nice and they certainly are festive.
Along the fence at the north end of our back garden is a tall hedge of Euonymous. It blooms early in the summer and then the fruit ripens about now. The birds are constantly in these bushes, eating the berries but also just hanging out. They provide good protection from preditors and from the elements. When in bloom various bees, wasps, and flies are all over them and the whole thing buzzes. The deer like them, too, and that keeps them from encroaching too much on the yard. They don’t get the tops, though, which are way out of reach, and the hedge continues to thrive.
I’m trying to cut back on the carbs but it’s hard. If I were cooking only for myself it would be easier, of course, but I’m cooking for three, so I try to make meals that satisfy everyone’s needs. Rice is popular and I vary that by cooking plain white rice, whole grain brown rice, and a few more exotic rices, like a red rice that’s quite flavorful. I also cook potatoes and these little multi-colored potatoes are my favorite. They keep pretty well and they cook easily. Sometimes I simply cut them in half and boil them but what’s even better is to put a little oil and salt on the boiled pieces, pour them onto a tray, and put them in a hot oven for a little while until they are crispy on the outside.
I’ve been doing my weekly grocery shopping early on Sunday mornings or occasionally on Monday. The stores are not quite empty but there are more employees there than customers. This morning, when I got back from the store, the light on the trees up the street was really nice so I grabbed my camera (it’s rarely far from me) and took a few pictures. Later in the day, Cathy and I walked on a trail behind the old Rockville landfill and it was really nice to be outdoors. It was warmer than I expected but an occasional breeze cooled us off. It’s a pretty time of year.
We worked in the garage this morning, getting quite a bit done (although if you saw it, you might not believe that). We took a trip to the transfer station (a.k.a. the dump) to get rid of a few things and as we got back, the Zelkova serrata were being lit by the late afternoon sun. I dropped Cathy and her mom off at home and then went back out to take a few pictures. This seems to be an annual photo for me, with versions taken from 2011 through 2019, except 2012, apparently. It’s worth it, though. This is really a nice tunnel of trees all year, but especially now and as the sun is setting.
I was out front and noticed that from the right angle, the marigolds behind this blackberry lily (Iris domesticata) look a bit like they’re part of the same plant and that it’s blooming. The picture didn’t actually come out as good as I would have liked, since the marigolds are a little out of focus, but you can sort of git the idea. We have quite a few of these blackberry lilies growing around the yard. Cathy scatters the seeds from them and of course the birds do the same thing. There’s one growing up the street in our neighbor’s garden and we suspect it came from here, too.
As you can see, the leaves turn yellow in the autumn and soon it will die back. The stems with their blackberry-like berries will remain until we pull the seeds to distribute and then cut the stems. The marigolds will most likely last until the first frost.
We’ve grown Torenia fournieri before but I don’t think it has ever done as well ad it did this year. We have a couple of them in containers on the back patio and they have been in constant bloom all summer and will probably not stop until we get a killing frost. They are also known a wishbone flower because the stamens join to form a shape similar to the wishbone of a chicken. This one is a variety called ‘Summer Wave’. Ours got a bit of sun but they are also really good for shade. You better believe we’re going to get this again next year.
When fresh, the flowers on this hydrangea are mostly white with a touch of pink on the edges. As they dry out, however, some of the petals deep in color to a dark pink, bordering on red. It’s not as showy as some flowers and overall, the plant is moving into winter mode. Nevertheless, the color of the petals is quite nice, especially when the late afternoon or early evening sun is shining on them. The deer have done considerable damage to this plant over the years but it keeps fighting back and had a good run this year. Hopefully that will continue.
Sometimes when you travel, you pick up souvenirs. You might buy a post card and you’re almost certain to take a few (or a lot of) photographs, which for most of us really help to keep memories alive. We can look at the photographs and remember what it was like wherever we happened to have been. Or we might buy a small object in a store or at a market to remember the trip by. In our family, we sometimes pick up stones. Sometimes they are selected because they’re a particularly pretty color or have a nice pattern on them. Other times, it’s their shape or the smoothness of the surface. Some here—the green one at the top and the bluish green one on the right—are from the Nevada ghost town where my grandfather was born, 135 years ago.
I’m posting this a week after the fact, on Monday, November 9. We voted today (November 2) and dropped out mail in ballots at our local voting location (which isn’t our normal location, but everything is off this year, as you might have noticed). This is generally a non-partisan blog and I try to keep my politics to myself, so I won’t say anything about how we voted. Of course, in Maryland, it’s sometimes tempting to think it doesn’t really matter, regardless of which side you’re on. Unofficially, as of November 9, the vote was nearly two to one: 1,590,324 vs. 861,861.
Cathy and I took a walk in the neighborhood early this afternoon. I wanted to see the Japanese maples in a yard at the far end of our neighborhood. They generally put on a really good show. While I’m not sure they are quite as good this year as they have been some other years, they’re still worth a look. These are fairly old trees, probably planted about the time the neighborhood was established. This house was built in 1971, so the trees are probably something like 50 years old, which seems about right. They are different, with one having quite dark leaves while the other (shown here) has a very bright red. There are actually a few more trees, one on either end of the house and another in the back yard. Really nice.
Cathy and I took a walk by Lake Frank this afternoon. With the weather turning cooler and of course with work during almost all the daylight hours, it’s really important to make a point to get outside when we can. On our walk, I took pictures of quite a few fruits on shrubs and vines. There were rose hips, oriental bittersweet, and I think some sort of privet. The water in the lake is a little low, at least by comparison to the last few times we’ve been here, when it was particularly high. The fall color was about at it’s peak or maybe just a little past. Pretty soon, the trees will be mostly bare and winter will be upon us.
Clouds. I can’t keep my eyes off them clouds in the sky. ‘Cause I know it won’t be long, won’t be long.
Song lyrics. Not my song, and yet, it’s a song I sometimes sing to myself as I watch the clouds rolling across the sky. It was a busy week and I’m happy for the weekend. And sitting out back and watching the clouds is a nice way to unwind. Of course, this song isn’t just about relaxing, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. The song, by Barry McGuire, is a reference to Matthew 26:64, Mark 14:62, and Luke 21:27–28 (“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”).
Linsey Woolsey is a fabric made with a linen warp and a woollen weft. This is a piece that my mother got as a wedding present from her grandmother’s sister, her great aunt Mattie. It was made either by Aunt Mattie’s mother Eliza Ann (1840 – 1896) or grandmother Elizabeth (1807 to 1855) so it was fairly old by the time mom got it in the 1950s. It would have been made on a relatively narrow homemade loom and the strips sewn together to make a wider fabric. It’s not known for its looks but valued rather for its warmth and durability. It was, however, forbidden to the Hebrews per Leviticus 19:19b, “neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee” (and Deuteronomy 22:11). I find the pattern a bit mesmerizing and a little hard to look at.
This yellow Asclepias has been blooming pretty must constantly all summer. It’s really quite amazing. Others bloomed for a while and then went to seed, which is what you sort of expect, but this one just keeps putting out new buds, which open into these lovely, pure, yellow flowers. As you can see, it also has seeds. This in on our back patio and it won’t make it through the winter (unless it’s exceptionally mild, of course). It’s only really hardy to USDA Zone 9. But growing it as an annual is really worth it. Highly recommended.
I was working in the garage this evening and had my camera with me, thinking I might find a few interesting things to photograph. We’ve still working our way through some boxes of things from my in-laws’ house and I ended up taking a few photos. This is a small bottle with some sand painting in it. It’s the smaller but nicer of two sand art bottles. The other one has sand that I believe came from Petra, although I’m not sure how you verify that. This one, as far as I know, is nothing special. That is to say, it’s pretty, but we have no idea who made it or where it came from. It’s certainly better than anything I could do but that’s not really saying much.
Cathy and I drove up to pick up our car from the shop this evening and then I stopped at the nature center on the way home to see if I could find anything worth photographing. I took a few nice pictures including a few of the berries of a Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii, also known as Thunberg’s barberry). This is an invasive species and I generally don’t recommend it. It’s somewhat too late to worry about, though, because it’s already everywhere. And of course there are hundreds of them at the garden center. They do may nice plantings, so I understand why people use them. Note that the fruit is edible and I have used it in a few Persian dishes. They have a great, tart flavor, similar to cranberries.