We went out for a walk this morning, going somewhere new, but it turned out that W.S.S.C. property requires a paid permit. The signage was very ambiguous, giving regulations for walking on the trails but then with big “No Trespassing” signs, but without an explanation of what constitutes trespassing. We decided to walk to Sandy Spring and enjoyed the walk very much. There is a champion white ash (Fraxinus americana) on the route, as well, which is a very handsome tree. There were other people out but no so many that it really affected our walk. The last time we came here we walked from Woodlawn Manor on the Underground Railroad Trail.
The roofers finished late enough yesterday that it was a bit dark to get a good photo of the front of our house, which faces eash-northeast in any case. So, here’s a photo of the front of our house taken this morning and without anything in the driveway. Getting a new roof is one of those things you don’t notice unless you’re specifically looking for it. Or I suppose if the old roof was leaking and now it’s dry inside when it rains. But when we bought the house the inspector told us the roof was pretty warn and we should plan on replacing it pretty soon. Soon became 14 years, but we beat the odds and haven’t had any significant problems. And now we should be good for a long while.
I compared this photo to one taken when we bought the house and the two holly trees, one by the driveway and the other at the left corner of the house, are much larger than they were then. Otherwise, the house doesn’t really look at that different.
Continuing with our ongoing roof replacement, the contractors were back this morning to handle the “bump” and the garage. Some of the houses in the neighborhood have a one story piece between the main part of the house and the garage and others—like ours— have a two story section. We call the two-story version a “bump”. Anyway, the roofing went on that and the garage today. The garage roof needed more repairs to the plywood but the joists were sound, anyway. Once they finished they spent quite a while on clean up. There’s a fair amount of debris, although they put drop cloths down, it didn’t catch everything. They also went around with a magnet picking up nails and staples. Tomorrow I’ll show you the finished product.
As mentioned yesterday, we are having our roof replaced. The materials were delivered yesterday and the crew showed up this morning and got to work. Of course, getting the old roofing material off is a big part of the job and we had two layers of shingles that had to be removed. The plywood on the front half of the roof was in pretty good shape although there were a couple places on the back that needed to be repaired with new plywood. We also had them remove the chimney from our furnace, which is no longer being used, so that’s one less opening in the shingles to worry about going forward. It’s a noisy business, especially when they are tacking down the underlayment. Then they start up their compressor for their nail guns and it’s blam, blam, blam, for the rest of the afternoon.
The kid in me still loves big trucks and heavy machinery. Put a crane on a truck and lift pallets of shingles onto a roof, and I’ll watch. Needless to say, I enjoyed the process of preparing for our roof to be replace tomorrow. The truck needed a surprising amount of space, because it has seriously long outriggers so they can reach the crane out to the side as far as this, positioning the materials as close as possible to where they will be needed. We had work done on our chimney in December, so we’re all set to have the roof replaced now.
We met our good friend Jean at Burke Lake this afternoon. We’ve never been there before but it was quite nice. There were a lot of folks there but we walked along the shore on a trail that was less used and it was very nice. The wind coming across the lake was fairly cool but the sun was shining and there were birds and it was lovely. Of course the main thing was seeing Jean, and that would have been nice anywhere, but it’s always better to be outdoors, if you can (unless the weather is really nasty, and then it’s great to be somewhere cozy, instead).
It was a rainy day today, a quiet way to usher in the new year. In spite of the rain, though, we wanted to get outdoors. We went to a small park owned by the Isaak Walton League and walked around their pond and into the woods for a while. There were hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) on the pond and I got a few photos of them, good enough to identify them conclusively but not really that great. One of these days I’ll get a long lens but today is not that day. We also saw a hawk of some kind, which flew away from us in the woods. We’ll probably come back here in the spring or at least when it isn’t raining.
This year was something of a landmark for me in terms of reading. For a while now I’ve been trying to read some of the books that I should have read in high school or college (or perhaps that I should have been supposed to read, if you follow me). Over the last dozen years or so, I’ve gotten through a significant number, including fiction by Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Dufoe, Hardy, Melville, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Zola, to name but a few. I’ve read some of the classics, including Greek and Roman historians, playwrights, and philosophers and some significant modern non-fiction, as well. Late last year, though, I decided to step it up a notch. My goal was to read 26 books with some significant number of them being big, important or serious books. As it turns out—and no one is more surprised than I am—I aimed low.
All the books I read this year are pictured here. Some of them are short and very easy to read, but a few of them are what Dorothy and I have taken to calling “Lifetime Achievement Books.” Specifically, the three volumes of The Gulag Archipelago (weighing in at a combined 1,818 pages), Moby Dick (‘only’ 459 pages but seriously, get to the whale already!), The History of the Peloponnesian War (574 pages), The Tale of Genji (1,139 pages), and War and Peace (1,136 pages).
In case you cannot make out the titles in the photo, here is the full list of books read in 2020 in the order I read them. Overall, I’ve enjoyed much of what I read. Some were not so much enjoyable as worthwhile. For instance, The Gulag Archipelago is not light or enjoyable, but it’s important. I think it should be required reading. Obviously Jack London, the Narnia books by Lewis, and a few others are on the other end of the difficulty spectrum and provided some needed rest.
- Anna Karenin, 1878, by Leo Tolstoy (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910). I actually started this on December 23, 2019, so only a third or so was read this year.
- The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Volume 1, English translation published in 1974, by Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (December 11, 1918 – August 3, 2008), translated by Thomas Whitney.
- Brideshead Revisited, 1945, by Evelyn Waugh (October 28, 1903 – April 10, 1966).
- Moby Dick, 1851, by Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891).
- Silas Marner, 1864, by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans, November 22, 1819 – December 22, 1880).
- The Man With The Gash, 1901, short stories by Jack London (January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916).
- In Parenthesis, 1937, by David Jones (November 1, 1895 – October 28, 1974).
- Tristram Shandy, between 1759 and 1767, by Laurence Sterne (November 24, 1713 – March 18, 1768).
- Beowulf: A New Verse Translation, 8th century, translated in 1999, by Seamus Heaney (April 13, 1939 – August 30, 2013).
- The Republic, 375 BC, by Plato (c. 425 – c. 347 BC).
- Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, 1818, by Mary Shelley (August 30, 1797 – February 1, 1851).
- Confessions, AD 397, by Augustine of Hippo (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430 AD).
- The Jugurthine War, 44 BC, by the Roman historian and politician Sallust (Gaius Sallustius Crispus, 86 – circa 35 BC).
- Macbeth, around 1606, by William Shakespeare (c. April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616).
- The Tale of Genji, early 11th century, by Lady Murasaki, a Japanese noblewoman and lady-in-waiting who lived from somewhere in the AD 970s to probably around 1030.
- Recovering Eden: The Gospel According to Ecclesiastes, 2014, by Zack Eswine (born 1969).
- The Hobbit, 1937, by J. R. R. Tolkien (January 3, 1892 – September 2, 1973).
- The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, AD 121, by Suetonius (Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, c. AD 69 – sometime after 122).
- The Canterbury Tales, between 1387 and 1400, by Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340s – October 25, 1400).
- The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence (c. 1614 – February 12, 1691), compiled by Father Joseph de Beaufort around 1692.
- The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, 1647, by John Owen (1616 – August 24, 1683).
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865, by Lewis Carroll, a.k.a. C. L. Dodgson (January 27, 1832 – January 14, 1898).
- The Consolation of Philosophy, AD 524, by Boethius (Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, c. AD 477 – 524).
- The History, between AD 100 and 110, by Tacitus (c. AD 56 – sometime after 117).
- The History of the Kings of Britain, 1136, by Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1095 – c. 1155).
- Five Dialogues, 5th or 4th centuries, BC, by Plato.
- The History of the Peloponnesian War, circa 400 BC, by Thucydides (c. 460 – c. 400 BC), published as The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War War, 1996, by Robert B. Strassler.
- The Magician’s Nephew, 1955, by C. S. Lewis (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963).
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 1950, by C. S. Lewis.
- The Horse and His Boy, 1954, by C. S. Lewis.
- Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia, 1951, by C. S. Lewis.
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 1952, by C. S. Lewis.
- The Silver Chair, 1953, by C. S. Lewis.
- The Last Battle, 1956, by C. S. Lewis.
- The Fire Next Time , 1963, by James Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987).
- Nicomachean Ethics, 4th century BC, by Aristotle (384 – 322 BC).
- The Hiding Place, 1971, by Corrie ten Boom (April 15, 1892 – April 15, 1983).
- Purgatory, 1308, by Dante Alighieri (c. 1265 – 1321), translated by Dorothy L. Sayers, (June 13, 1893 – December 17, 1957). I read the first portion of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Inferno, in late 2015.
- War and Peace, 1869, by Leo Tolstoy.
- The House of The Seven Gables, 1851, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (July 4, 1804 – May 19, 1864).
- The Epic of Gilgamesh, possibly 18th century BC.
- Paradise, 1321, by Dante Alighieri, translated by Dorothy Sayers and Barbara Reynolds (June 13, 1914 – April 29, 2015).
- Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece, 1966, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (February 11, 1915 – June 10, 2011).
- The Mill on the Floss, 1860, by George Eliot.
- King John, 1595, by William Shakespeare.
- Lord Jim, 1900, by Joseph Conrad (December 3, 1857 – August 3, 1924).
- Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese, 1959, by Patrick Leigh Fermor.
- Beat to Quarters, 1937, originally published in England as The Happy Return, by C. S. Forester (August 27, 1899 – April 2, 1966).
- The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Volume 2, 1974, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
- Cybernetics, 1948, by Norbert Wiener (November 26, 1894 – March 18, 1964).
- The Problem of Pain, 1940, by C. S. Lewis.
- The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Volume 3, 1974, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
- Rumours of War, 2004, by Allan Mallinson (6 February 1949 – ).
- The Early History of Rome, 29 to 27 BC, by Livy (59 BC – AD 17). Books 1 through 5 of Livy’s 142 volume History of Rome, which cover the period from the founding of Rome to 386 BC.
- The Old Man And The Sea, 1952, by Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961).
- Out of Africa, 1937, by Isak Dinesen (a.k.a. Karen Blixen, April 17, 1885 – September 7, 1962).
- Under The Greenwood Tree, 1872, by Thomas Hardy (June 2, 1840 – January 11, 1928).
- Crime and Punishment, 1866, by Fyodor Dostoevsky (November 11, 1821 – February 9, 1881).
- A History of My Times (Hellenica), 4th Century BC, by Xenophon (c. 430 – 354 BC).
- Smith of Wooton Manor and Farmer Giles of Ham, published in 1967 and 1949, respectively, by J. R. R. Tolkien.
Cathy called me from the basement this morning as I was finishing up my breakfast. She had looked out the back window and seen these two white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) that appear to have spent the night in the pachysandra at the back of our garden. I took a few photos from inside through our not-so-clean windows and then risked opening the kitchen door to see if I could get any without the extra glass in the way. They looked at me as I opened the door and continued as I walked out onto the patio. They didn’t actually get up until I moved out into the lawn and even then they didn’t seem too concerned.
This is the top of a small hutch in our dining room. Most of the things on the shelf have appeared on the blog at one time or another but I thought I’d post a photo of the whole collection (or this shelf’s worth, anyway). On the right is a nurse that my grandmother made the clothes for and that was in a store window during the war as part of a display about collecting for the community. In front of her are three matryoshka sets including a traditional one on the left, one with Russian political figures in the middle (that’s Leonid Brezhnev), and a east Asian one on the right. The wine bottle was found in what is now the ghost town where my grandfather was born. Next to that is a figurine that Cathy got from her family of a baby sucking on its thumb.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Violet’s Lock on the C&O Canal today and walked south past Blockhouse Point. The river was fairly high and very wild looking. It was fairly cold and there were icicles hanging from the rocks on the other side of the canal. We happened to see two adult bald eagles in a tree about where we turned around and then saw two more eagles—one adult and one juvenile—flying overhead. I took quite a few photos and enjoy this one quite a bit. It was a pretty day and nice to be out, although also nice to get warm again afterwards (not that I wore a heavy coat, mind you).
At Cathy’s parents house, there was a step down to get to their front door. As packages were unwrapped, the scrunched up paper was thrown into that area. Generally at least one photo would be taken of that pile of paper, often with a child, a dog, or even a parrot hiding in with the papers. We don’t have as good a spot for that and there really wasn’t enough wrapping paper this year to justify trying. Nevertheless, in honor of that tradition, I’m posting this photo of a bag full of balled up wrapping paper. Happy Christmas, everyone.
I think I mentioned a while back that we put up our Christmas tree earlier this year than normal. We put it up on the weekend after Thanksgiving, which for a lot of folks is traditional. For us, we generally would cut a tree and putting it up that early is asking for a lot of needles to be down by Christmas. For the last three Christmases we’ve used this artificial tree, so that’s really not an issue. The plan is to keep it up a little while longer, but of course, it won’t have the wrapped presents under it after tomorrow.
We may have gotten the tree up early but we didn’t really do as well buying gifts this year as we generally do. There are a lot of packages under the tree but a lot of them are food gifts. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but we generally try to do better. Still, we’re together and looking forward to our two Christmas meals (breakfast and dinner with enough to eat that we won’t be hungry between them). We also plan on having video calls with our two families tomorrow.
I’m nearing the completian of ten years taking at least one photo every day. As you know if you’ve been following me far any length of time, I started this on January 1, 2011, posting the photos on Facebook. I started this blog with my second year (and have posted some, but not all of that first year’s photos, as well). I’m pretty sure that I will stop taking a photo a day at the end of the year. I’ll still take plenty of pictures but perhaps you won’t be subjected to pictures of knicknacks quite so often.
As I think I’ve mentioned, we’ve been looking for new trails to walk on lately. What with working from home and not being able to go to church or to visit friends much, we really like getting outdoors. Turkey Run Park, on the George Washington Parkway in northern Virginia is one that I’ve seen signs for over the years but we’ve never actually been there. The walk was about 2 miles in total but felt like more than that. Parts of the trail were a bit muddy and slick and there were a few places where we had to scramble over rocks (scramble may be too strong a term, but you had to watch what you were doing, anyway). There were two places where we had to cross a stream on rocks. And coming from the river back up to the Turkey Run Park parking areas was quite a climb. There are wooden stairs where we made that ascent, which helped quite a bit, but it’s fairly steep. Anyway, we had a nice time being out and seeing the river.
A days ago I posted a picture of a somewhat odd, folk art Christmas carol singing figurine (see Friday, December 11, 2020). In that post I said that I’d post a photo of a nativity scene that Margaret’s housekeeper made for her quite a few years ago. Well, here it is. As you can see, most of the people in the scene are made from peanuts, although one is made differently to the rest. The sheep are made with pumpkin seeds and toothpicks. They look a little like pigs to me, but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, because this is an scene in Bethlehem and pigs would be out of place. The angel (on the left) is a Hershey’s kiss.
As usual when it snows around here, I took pictures of the snow. They really aren’t all that interesting and I know it’s cliche, but there you are.
I did like this leaf, peaking out from the snow, so that’s what you get for today. Not exciting, but again, there you are. I do remember a friend in high school telling me that shadows are blue. You can see that here, in the shade of the house.
We had what the new media breathlessly called “the most significant snow in three years.” Since we haven’t had more than an inch or so in that time, it didn’t take much to make their prediction come true. We got maybe three inches of very wet snow. Not exactly what you’d call a blizzard. We’ve been working from home since March, so it really didn’t affect us at all. We did get a small package delivered that I didn’t find right away because it got covered, but it was in a plastic envelope so that wasn’t a problem. I think the snow was lovely and I’m mostly a winter person, in any case (I didn’t bother putting shoes on to get the mail, for instance).
We don’t remember where this little Christmas ornament came from. Cathy thought it was made by the woman who cleaned her mom’s house for so many years but the things she made were more homespun. This is different. Just about as strange but different. It’s a Christmas caroler and it’s one we put out every year, but we don’t really know much else.
It’s a funny little thing but as one person commented on Instagram in reference to the Strange Little Ornament post (see Tuesday, December 01, 2020), our house “is a haven for strange little things.” I think perhaps she was including us in the “strange little thing” category, but I can’t be sure.
I’ll post a photo of a nativity scene that Margaret’s housekeeper did make in a few days. I think you’ll agree that they, along with this, qualifies as folk art.
I don’t really know anything about this painted box. We assume it’s Persian but don’t know if it was bought in Afghanistan or Iran (Cathy’s family lived in both). It has some writing around the top edge (not seen here) and if I can find someone familiar with the languages, perhaps we can get it translated and that will tell us more. It was difficult to get a good picture of this, because it has a high gloss finish and getting a picture with a large area of reflection was tricky. This one turned put pretty well, though.
This strange little ornament is one of our favorites. I don’t know much about it. It seems to be made of wool and it’s clearly a man riding on an animal. Beyond that it’s all conjecture. Is he riding on a horse? Who can say? Is there some significance to his pointed hat? What about the stripes on the hat and on his other garments? Is he meant to be someone in particular? We have more questions than answers. Nevertheless, he has a certain appeal.
We have many more ornaments than we can possibly display at once. If we had a huge house with four or five large Christmas trees, then perhaps we could use them all. But unless and until that happens, most of them will languish in boxes. But this funny, little man will always find a place on out tree.
We don’t typically get our Christmas decorations up quite as early as we have done this year. I know some people are good about regularly getting things set up the weekend after Thanksgiving. We aren’t that prompt and sometimes things don’t get set up until the week of Christmas itself. This year, with less ‘out of house’ activities, we put our tree up and started decorating on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Dorothy set up the traditional nativity scene on the piano. As usual, all are welcome at the manger and Dorothy makes sure there are many representatives from various places.
We walked down Mill Creek this afternoon, from where it goes under Redland Road to Lake Needwood and then along the shore of the lake as far as Needwood Road. It’s a nice walk and we didn’t see anyone else on the trail. We saw a few white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and at least two pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus). The woodpeckers were far enough away that my photos of them aren’t worth sharing, but it was nice to watch them tap, tap, tapping on a tree.
I took the day off today and spent the morning reading (Rumours of War, by Allan Mallinson). Dorothy is home for Thanksgiving but both she and Cathy worked this morning. In the afternoon we drove to River Road and walked out to Blockhouse Point. It’s a nice walk pretty much any time of year and particularly with the leaves off the trees the view is really nice. We didn’t really have time to walk down the trail to the level of the canal but we will plan on doing that next time.
In 1976 I was in high school. The school I went to from Kindergarten through sixth grade, though, Alta Vista Elementary School, was being closed by the county. Demographics change and the need for schools in particular neighborhoods change along with them. Alta Vista was a small school, I think and my memories of it have faded quite a bit but still, it was my first alma mater. My mom was part of a group of parents that tried to save the school. Except for in Hallmark movies, these things never really amount to much and the chances of success here were pretty slim. The school closed and my younger brothers finished their elementary school years at a different school.
Dorothy’s former second grade teacher gave me this snakeplant (Sansevieria trifasciata, also known as viper’s bowstring hemp) when she and her husband moved to Florida a year after Dorothy had her as a teacher. So, I guess I’ve had it about fifteen years. It was in my office most of that time. Then, in March when we all started working from home, I sort of assumed it would die. I happened to go into the office ten weeks into that and was surprised by how healthy it was, although the pot was bone dry. I brought it home, along with a Natal lily (Clivia miniata) and a spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), both of which were also hanging on. All three have recovered nicely and I brought this and the clivia back in for the winter. As you can see, it’s got a few issues, but all things considered, I’m just happy it’s still with us.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We had some free time this afternoon so we drove to downtown Rockville and wondered around the St. Mary’s Church graveyard for a while. I took a picture of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s grave marker (and their daughter, Francis Scott Fitzgerald Smith). It’s a pretty little graveyard, if you like that sort of thing. We do. I took some pictures of the church reflected in the mostly glass building at Jefferson Plaza across the pike. I also took some general views of the graveyard. I figured for my post, however, I’d use this one, showing both the older church building—now known as the Chapel of Our Lady—and the new domed building, dating from the 1960s. The parish was established in 1813 with the land being bought for $300 and the initial church building costing about $4,000. It has obviously seen a few changes over the years. The old church building was scheduled for demolition but was saved and became the chapel that it is today. I’m glad it was saved, as it’s a pretty, little church.
From 1967 through 1972, the Singapore one dollar note featured the Orchid Vanda ‘Janet Kaneali’. I really don’t know much about that particular orchid but the genus has about 80 species. They are mostly epiphytic (Per Mirriam Webster, “a plant that derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and grows usually on another plant”). I was a little stumped for what to take a photo of today. I’ve done pretty well getting outdoors most of the year since the Covidian miasma set it, but it didn’t happen today. It won’t be long before it’s dark when I get off work, so this will get harder going forward.
In 1964 my parents bought some property in rural Pennsylvania. We’d go there either for the day or camp overnight. Then, in 1974 we built the porch that you see here. Two years later we spent virtually the entire summer there building the cabin. It’s had a new roof put on since then but otherwise, it’s pretty much unchanged. There’s no electricity or running water and the walls have no insulation, so it’s not currently somewhere you’d want to live long term. Still, it’s a great family retreat. Cathy and I don’t officially get Columbus Day off but we took annual leave and went there with Dorothy and six of her friends. It was a bit damp and cool, but really nice to be away from home for a little while.
I released some stored carbon back into the atmosphere this evening. It’s been cool for a while and I’ve been meaning to have a fire, so today seemed like the perfect opportunity. Also, I’ve been accumulating papers that need to be destroyed rather than just thrown away or recycled (i.e. things that have Social Security Numbers, bank account info, etc.). So, I took this opportunity to burn a box of papers, as well. When I was done with the papers, though, I just enjoyed the fire, watching the wood burn, watching the dancing flames, smelling the wood smoke in the cool, autumn air. It was lovely.
I went to National Airport this morning (a.k.a. Reagan Airport) to pick up Dorothy. Because I had no idea what traffic would be like I left a bit early and pulled off in the Roaches Run parking area, just past 395 and the Pentagon. It’s billed as Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary and while that’s technically correct, it’s a bit misleading. You sort of expect some sort of viewing area or at least a trail or two. It’s just a parking area near some water. There is one “interpretive” sign, but that’s it. I think it’s mostly used by Uber and Lyft drivers waiting for business from the airport. For that, it’s well suited. Anyway, this is a panorama of the buildings in Crystal City across Roaches Run.
In mid-March, like most churches, our church began broadcasting its services electronically, through Facebook and with BoxCast. Even when they started having outdoor services in the parking lot, we decided to stay home because we’re a somewhat high-risk household. We continued to watch the services on BoxCast through a Roku device attached through a few adapters into our 1986 console television. Nevertheless, we missed seeing people and of course, the service, especially the music, isn’t really the same when watched on TV.
This week the church leadership decided to celebrate communion and Cathy and I decided we would attend in person. We sat in the shade of a small maple tree along with others scattered around the parking lot, some in the sun, some in shade. It was a gloriously beautiful day and we’re really glad we went. We still couldn’t really great people the way we would have and talking with masks is always a bit annoying, but it was very nice to see people in 3D.
I ran an errand today, going to pick up the trailer from the shop where it was getting new lights. When I got home Cathy told me our internet connection was down. I did a fair amount of checking, since it’s usually something on this end but this time I’m pretty sure it’s Verizon’s fault. We have business FIOS and it’s pretty reliable, I have to say. In fact, since we got that here in 2006 I don’t think I’ve had more than a few small outages until today. I spent a good while on the phone with them and by the end of that I thought the problem was in the wire leading from their box on the outside of the house into our computer room. That turned out not to be the problem, but not until I’d drilled another hold through our exterior (brick) wall. By the time I’m posting this, of course, out internet has been back up for a week, but it was out from Thursday shortly after mid-day until Saturday in the middle of the afternoon.
The forecast has been for rain for a few days and as usual, the forecasts were not very good. Today we had rain, however, and it rained pretty hard for a while. This is one of two bird baths on our back patio, surrounded by black-eyed Susans and with sedum growing on the surface of the patio in front of it. The pink elephant watering can adds a nice bit of color. I didn’t really go out into the rain today, standing on the kitchen steps and just under the eaves to get this and a few other photos.
Here’s a second photo for the day. After our walk in the park, we went to the Agricultural Farm Park and walked through their demonstration garden. It’s really changed since we were here last, about two months ago. There was one plant in bloom that really caught our collective eye. It’s a Maryland native commonly called Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica). What a beautiful flower. This is something I’d really like to get. I’ve done some searching and it seems like finding seeds will be difficult. There are a few mail order places that have the plant but most of them ship in the fall. Hopefully I’ll remember to order some then.
Dorothy and three of the folks she’s living with came down for a three day visit. It was really nice to have them here and we had a really good time with them. They left this morning and stopped to see friends in two different places on the way home. One of those stops was to see Andrew and Rachel. Dorothy had made this quilt as a wedding present for them and wanted me to take a few pictures of it before she gave it to them, so we’d have a record of it. I think it turned out quite nicely and of course they loved it. I took one picture with Dorothy looking over the top of it, but we decided to feature just the quilt today. I also took pictures of Dorothy with Peter, Marissa, and Renee before they left (I know you’re shocked that I’d do that).
Beyond simply having them here, which was really, really nice, I really enjoyed our trip to Pennsylvania. It was a lot of fun and yet quite poignant. Memories.
We had rain today. I have no complaints as we could use the rain. I didn’t go out much, though, so only got a few photos today, taken at about 8:20 PM as it was getting on towards dusk. The droplets of rain on leaves are a favorite subject of mine and today’s are on day lily leaves, right outside our back door. I took others, including some on tiger lilies in the front yard, but those didn’t turn out very well.
Last year my second cousin, Lyn, gave me a cutting of a climbing rose he has growing behind his house in North Carolina. It’s been in a pot since then but I finally got it planted this weekend.
Lyn said that the rose this came from was it turn taken from a rose that was given to his mother by Virginia, the wife of my grandfather’s (and Lyn’s grandmother’s) first cousin, Archie.
I’m pretty sure this is the rose ‘Dr. W. Van Fleet’, a repeat flowering sport of which became ‘New Dawn’ and was the first plant to receive a patent (i.e. plant patent ID #1). Interestingly, another rose on his property, one which has been there since it was his grandparents’ house, is almost certainly ‘American Pillar’, a rambling rose bred in the first years of the twentieth century by Dr. William Van Fleet (in Glendale, Maryland).
I’ve had a few fern photos this spring but here’s another. This is a Woodwardia of some type but I’m not sure which. It’s growing in our shade garden at the north end of our front yard and is quite happy there. We went to the garden center today and I bought a royal fern (Osmunda regalis) to plant in this part of the garden. My thought is to move the Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) to the front of the bed, because it’s too short to be seen well where it is. The royal fern should be plenty tall so that will be nice. It’s something I’ve wanted a while.
Like most folks, we’re mostly confined to our house and to walks in the neighborhood. We figured that we could go for a drive so yesterday we went out and about. One place we went was the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park on Muncaster Road. I didn’t take my camera with me, which is pretty unusual, so we went back there today with my camera this time. There were a few others there but everyone kept their distance from one another.
They have a small, woodland garden that is particularly nice right now, with mostly early spring blooms. These Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are just starting to open and are so lovely.
We had another rainy day today, to end March. It’s been so warm and sunny lately that it was a bit of a shock to stay indoors all day. I did get outside long enough to take a handful of pictures, but really not much more than that. These are daylily (Hemerocallis) leaves with rain on them, and the rain continued to fall while I was taking it. I probably should have spent the time to get a tripod and really focus carefully, but I just needed to get a picture. Maybe next time. Sorry.
After a week of mostly beautiful weather, today was grey and rainy. It was nice to be home from the office, meaning I didn’t go into the basement much, but mostly I just read and dozed and did this and that all day. I did go out in the evening to take a few pictures but there wasn’t much to see and I didn’t feel like walking around in the wet to find something more interesting. This is the view to the southeast from the front of our house, looking past a few large oaks to more trees at the end of the block. The maples are mostly in bloom, which accounts for the rusty red shades. The oaks will be out soon, adding a bit of yellow and then everything will be dusted heavily with pollen.
This is the same amaryllis flower that I posted a photo of a week an a half ago (see Thursday, March 12, 2020). As you can see, it’s dried out but interestingly has retained some of it’s color. Since taking this photo, I’ve cut the stem so we won’t get any seeds. They are so easily available in bulb form late in the year that we buy one most years. This one came back into bloom, a little later than expected but without much of any attention having been paid to it in the meantime.
Our spiraea is in bloom and it’s really pretty as a background plant. It’s flowers are small but borne in a profusion of white. There are little bits of green in the flowers, but that can really only be seen close up. Spiraea prunifolia, bridal wreath spiraea, is a native of China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan and has been introduced in much of eastern North America. Interestingly, this double-flowered plant has the species name while the single-flowered variety, discovered later, is classified as a variety or form of the species. The name of the genus Spiraea comes from the Greek word speira meaning wreath.
It was such a beautiful day that after church we decided to stop at Meadowside Nature Center and take a walk. Shortly after we parked we heard a hawk call out and saw it land in a tree overhead. I was able to get a few photos of it—either a Cooper’s or sharp-shinned—but they were from such a low angle they aren’t really all that good. We continued down past the pond to the Pioneer Homestead, where this photo was taken. There are two log cabins, a smoke house, and a corn crib. From there we walked down to Lake Frank and saw one of the eagles on their nest, which was cool. All in all, a very nice outing.
Cathy bought some tulips at the grocery store over the weekend and we have them in a vase on our dining room table. The stems were a bit long and the flowers drooped a bit. She was looking for deep red flowers but they didn’t have any that were just right so she settled for these very pale pinks. I think they’re quite beautiful and a flower here or there and now and then is worth the cost. Daffodils are starting to bloom around my office building and one or two are about to be blooming in the yard but the tulips are a litter further behind. Spring it on its way, however, and we’re looking forward to working in the yard.
Not much to brag about today, in terms of my photographic exploits. There are days I just struggle and even when I find something to photograph, it’s only worth posting so I can keep up my photo-a-day thing. This is day 3,344 and this photograph is number 174,241, which is an accomplishment, anyway. We used to have a small collection of these dogs in white, brown, and black. They were in the back window of a car but eventually they went the way of all things, returning to the dust from which they were made (or they’re in the process of that, anyway).
A co-worker is retiring and we had a party for her this afternoon. Not everyone rates a party but she’s been here a third of a century and certainly deserves one. In spite of all the years and although we have the same supervisor, I’ve never actually worked with her, but we’ve seen each other from time to time and we have quite a few friends in common. I changed supervisors in the last year when my previous boss retired and we’ve only had the same supervisor since then, so it’s perhaps less surprising than it might be. Anyway, this is Linda (I’ll let you guess which one she is) with five of our co-workers, including our shared supervisor, Bryan (second from the right). I’ve worked quite a bit with Terry, on the far right and he asked if I’d come and take pictures, which I did and which is why this is my photo of the day.
The story is that this is a tear catcher or tear bottle, used to collect the tears of mourners in Persia (i.e. Iran and Afghanistan). According to tradition, bottles like this (and in other shapes and from other places) were used to catch the tears and the more tears the more regret over losing the loved one. The shape of the opening, theoretically, is meant to fit over the eye, although it doesn’t really fit very well and I can think of much better designs if that’s really what it’s about.
I’ve never been terribly comfortable believing that they were ever actually used for this, but that’s the story. I’ve never found any convincing proof that they were actually used for this purpose. Interestingly, the Wikipedia page on them has very inconclusive and even somewhat conflicting statements about them and most of the statements are tagged as needing a citation, so even those are pretty suspect (not to mention that nearly everything you find there is suspect).
I don’t think this bottle is terribly old. If it is, it’s in terrifically good shape. It is, however, a remarkably beautiful, cobalt blue and regardless of the veracity of it’s origin and original use, it’s a beautiful example of the glass blower’s art.
I generally try not to repeat the exact same subject in photographs. That’s not to say that once I’ve posted a photo of a sunset, for instance, I’ll try not to post any more. But things like this camera, I try to post only once. I posted one of this same camera in January of last year, I’m afraid so I have to break my unwritten rule (not for the first time, I fear). I mentioned it recently in a post about a Uniflex twin-lens reflex camera. It is a Leica IIIc, which was made from 1940 to 1951.
Dorothy gave me a set of four prints for Christmas. Three of them are portraits of the three of us, herself, Cathy, and me. The fourth was also of her so technically a portrait but it’s her walking and not facing the viewer. Anyway, she asked me to take photos of them for her and I did. She also said I could use one of those as my photo for the day. So, while I took this photograph, the actual content isn’t mine.
Of course the actual content of most of my photographs isn’t mine. I just photograph what I see. Sometimes it’s a man-made object and sometimes it’s something found in nature. Rarely is it a me-made object and even then, I only make things with materials that already exist. I like these prints and I think I like the one of me the best, which sounds egotistical but I think it’s the best of the three technically and I just like the way it looks.
In 1974 we took a trip out west as a family. We drove first to Denver where Ralph and our dad met us, flying out a few days after we left so Ralph could finish a class he was taking in summer school (if I remember correctly). We had also stopped in Kansas City because George’s braces broke and he needed to be seen by an orthodontist. Anyway, after we were all together we stopped at a place called Topaz Mountain but now I don’t know if it’s the one in Utah (southwest of Salt Lake City) or in Colorado (southwest of Denver). My memory says Utah but the Colorado site is more likely based on the route we took. I know we went to Mesa Verde and then Four Corners and it would have been on our route out of Denver. Anyway, we spent a good while searching for topaz in the stream beds and these are the nicer crystals that I found. None of them, really, are very suitable for jewelry, although I made a tie-pin out of one but it’s just out of the photograph at the top. I like them, anyway.
Cathy has a small collection of advertising thermometers and they are on the wall in our front hall (you can see the bottom of our doorbell in the upper left). They have been collected over the years from various antique shops and generally have been bought for under $10 or so. We’ve seen some that didn’t really fit the pattern and that we passed on. Just being an advertisement isn’t really enough. It needs to have a photo or illustration and preferably that should be mostly unrelated to the company being advertised. So, for instance, a thermometer in a bottle shaped frame with a Coca Cola logo would not qualify. From left to right (roughly), we have Quina & Miller Co. (furniture), B and B Milk Transportation, Santoni Furniture and Salvage Co., R.M. Pile & Sons (manufacturer of concrete septic tanks!), Geo. D. Deoudes Co., Inc (commission merchants), Randolph Market, and Dr. Beegle’s Chiropractic Health Offices.
This is one of the first cameras I used, back in the early 1970s. It wasn’t new then, as Uniflex cameras were made between 1947 and 1950. It has an aluminum body and a pair of 75mm lenses. I learned to develop the black and white film I used with the camera, winding it onto a reel that goes into the developing tank. I honestly don’t know if any of the photos I took back then are still around. Even if they are, I doubt many are worth looking at. But you have to start somewhere and this is where I started. We had a few old cameras available to use, as my grandfather had upgraded to a Leica and my parents had used both a Canon rangefinder and then a Minolta SLR.
Not surprisingly, I moved to 35mm and in 1979 bought the first of quite a few cameras. It was a Canon A-1. A few years later I got an F-1. That was my workhorse for quite a few years and went around the world with us in 1988. I bought a Nikon body so I could share lenses with my father-in-law. When it came time to move to autofocus and then digital, I went back to Canon and that’s where I am now, having started this “picture-a-day” thing right after getting my current camera, an EOS 60D.
I cleaned out the old Dodge Grand Caravan today and took off the license plates, which I plan to return to the Motor Vehicle Administration on Monday. Before I did that, I took one final load of trash to the dump (well, the transfer station, actually). I had a few things of my own in the back but I drove over to Iris and Seth’s house and got the rest of the rubbish that we found under the stairs and loaded that up. That load included recyclables—paper/cardboard, rigid plastic, and metal—along with all the trash. The van has been a really good utility vehicle.
As I was driving home I notice that I was approaching an even thousand on the odometer so I drove just a little extra to get it to 272,000 just before I backed into the driveway. We bought it from our mechanic in March, 2006 after he bought it from some mutual friends of ours replaced the transmission. I’d say we got our $5,000 worth out of the van (not to say we haven’t spent that much again on repairs over the years). This is the highest mileage of any car I’ve ever owned. The Chrysler Town & Country that died in Chicago last summer was just a little short.
I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while. The idea isn’t completely original. I saw a cartoon something like this a while ago (at least a couple years, I’m pretty sure) but I’ve never gotten around to getting a good picture of birds on wires that I could use for it. I think the caption in the cartoon was something like “I know but it’s just felt weird ever since we went wireless.” That’s the caption I was going to use but I thought I’d change it just a little. Obviously this photo has been digitally manipulated slightly.
I mentioned that Iris and Seth bought a house. There is a shed in the back yard and the sellers left it empty and with the doors unfastened, but with a locked padlock on the door. It would have been nice for them to take the lock off or leave a key for it, but perhaps they had lost the key and couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it. I took my bolt cutter and chopped it off this week and thought I’d post a photo of this handy tool. It’s the sort of thing you only need once in a while but it sure is handy when that time comes. This pair has seen some heavy use and the cutters are nicked pretty badly but when cutting things like padlocks (and bolts, of course), pretty isn’t generally a consideration. It came from my grandfather’s and I worked for him two summers when I was in high school. We did the bulk of the maintenance of the small rental properties he ran in his retirement. I learned a lot those two summers and as much as I didn’t enjoy crawling under a house in the mud to find a plumbing leak, I learned a lot that’s been useful to me in later life.
Iris and Seth have recently bought a house and are getting ready to move in before too long. I was over there with Seth a week ago to talk about things that should be done and things they will want to do but that are less of a rush. While we were looking around I realized that there was an area under the stairs that is closed in from all sides. I suggested that could be opened up, either from the family room side or the unfinished basement side to make a nice closet. Today they happened to cut a hole in the wall to see what it looked like in side. They were surprised to find that it wasn’t empty. Most of what was there had been taken out before I took this picture, but there was a lot of stuff. It included more than a few boxes of china as well as kitchen wares, a box of canned goods, and quite a bit of rubbish (things the mice have been at over the years). I seems to have been there for nearly 40 years and the house has changed hands a few times since then. We were hoping to find gold and jewels worth the purchase price of the house (or even just the mortgage balance) but no such luck.
I’ve been busy with my reading list lately, getting through some books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while now. I started reading Anna Karenin, by Leo Tolstoy, just before Christmas and finished it in early January. I enjoyed it quite a bit, although some of the characters were more likeable than others. After that I tackled The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It isn’t an easy book to read but I think it’s an important book, all the more so as we have politicians who clearly admire the Soviet Union at or near the top of a presidential race. This is only the first of three volumes and I have put off volume two for a little while, but it’s waiting for me when I can handle it. I took a little break by reading Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh, which is an enjoyable book and justly popular. I’m currently working my way into Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, which looks to be a bit harder and will certainly take me into February.
Cathy and I happened to be in my old neighborhood this afternoon and for the first time since my mom sold the house and moved out we drove past the house I grew up in. It looks basically the same, with the obvious exception to the purple shutters. That certainly is eye catching. The wreaths are nice, as well. They’ve painted the woodwork around the windows and the front door, which is definitely a good thing. The shrubbery was all trimmed heavily before the house went on the market and looks different to what I’m used to, but that was us, not them. Hopefully they are enjoying the house.
Cathy’s grandmother lived in Peru for more than 20 years, running the guest house in Lima for the Summer Institute of Linguistics. She sent and brought home many things over the years, from birds, reptiles, and small mammals to arts and crafts. One thing she brought for Cathy was this Peruvian harp. The harp, in one form or another, has existed as an instrument for more than 5,000 years. They were introduced into South America by the Spanish in the 16th century and have integrated into Andean culture. The Peruvian or Andean harp has a fairly large soundboard.
This one is not in playable condition, due to a large crack in the neck. I’d be very nervous about tightening the strings enough that they could be played. There is also a long crack in the soundboard, between two pieces of wood. Whether or not it can be repaired adequately is an open question. We certainly don’t know. Dorothy asked her college piano teacher if he would be interested in having the harp and he said he would, so today it left with Dorothy for New England and its new home. I took a bunch of pictures of it before loading it in her van.
There was frost on the ground and on the car this morning and I thought the ice crystals were pretty enough that I took the time to get a few pictures before heading off to work. These are on the roof of the car and are so delicate. I started the car so it would be a little warmed up by the time I got in, then put my bag in the trunk and took a handful of photos of ice crystals. I realized after taking them that the camera was set to manual mode because I had taken flash photos most recently. Fortunately they were pretty close to a proper exposure, so that worked out well.
In addition to the Ranunculus that Dorothy bought for our dining room table, she got some pussy willow stems. Pussy willow is the a common name for various Salix species and Salix discolor in particular, referring to their furry catkins, as seen in this photo. These plants are dioecious, 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.
Winter is, in general, a good time of year for bringing flowers into the home. The outdoors is much more monochrome in the winter, with browns and grey predominating. So, adding a little bit of color to the dining room table it a real plus. One nice thing about pussy willows is they last a good, long while in a vase with water. They make you think of spring, which is still a little ways off in mid-January. So, if you’re feeling the winter-time blues, grab yourself a bunch of pearly grey pussy willow stems and brighten up your day.
We started working on a puzzle this evening. Cathy had pulled one out to work on over the Christmas break and we finished that in reasonably short order. That one had 500 pieces and was a pretty straightforward task. I bought this one as a Christmas present for Cathy and it promises to be a bit more challenging. It has a scene from Venice, Italy and is cut up into 1,000 pieces. Until the puzzle is nearly done, that’s too big for our card table so I brought up a four foot square piece of wood and put that on top of the table. That’s just about enough room to get all the pieces laid out in a single layer and turned right side up with enough extra space to start putting the sides together.
I happened to read something recently that compared some task with trying to do a puzzle without the aid of the photo on the box. That made me laugh, because that’s the rule in our house. Looking at the box is considered cheating so once a puzzle is put out, the box is put away and not looked at again until it’s all done. You don’t have to follow that rule, if you’d rather not, but that’s the way we work things.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
In our neighborhood, Santa makes a pre-Christmas visit, just to be sure he knows where everyone lives. For all I know he does this everywhere, but we don’t live everywhere, so we only know about here. He doesn’t keep as low a profile on this visit as he does on Christmas eve and morning. In fact, he makes a fair amount of noise, with Christmas music blasting from speakers on his ‘sleigh’ and an occasional “ho, ho, ho“ thrown in for good measure. He and his helpers had bags of goodies for the children in the neighborhood, as well and a good time was had by all. Now, to wait for his second visit in a few day’s time.
There was a heavy frost this morning and I took the time before going to work to get some photos. That meant lying on the ground which was a bit cold and decidedly damp, but I knew I’d dry out before I got to work, so I wasn’t worried. I think ice crystals are pretty cool (no pun intended) and these are pretty nice. I’d like to have gotten closer but I didn’t have the time to get out the ultra-close-up equipment, so this was about as good as I could get.
We put our Christmas tree up this evening. I know a lot of folks have a tradition of putting their tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving and I have no problem with such a tradition. Nevertheless, we’re not quite so organized and in any case, the tree was in the storage unit and I didn’t get it until early December. It’s been in the back of my car for a while and this afternoon I brought it in and we set it up. Dorothy and Cathy brought up some boxes of decorations and began decorating the tree, although it isn’t done yet. There are a few boxes that were in storage and I will need to stop there and pick them up before we can consider it finished. Nevertheless, the living room is finally starting to look a lot like christmas. The large nativity scene will also need to be set up, probably on the top of the piano. Dorothy is also planning to make a wreath to hang on the front door. Note that in the past, our tree has stayed up until it really begins to lose needles. Now that we’re using an artificial tree that we brought from Margaret’s, that’s not an issue any more. We’ll probably take it down in early January, anyway. Note in this photo, the traditional peanut butter in front of the tree.
This little creche is made with bits and pieces from the kitchen. Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus are peanuts with Halos made from Cheerios. The magi—or maybe those are angels, it’s in some dispute—are made from Hershey’s kisses. The sheep are pumpkin seeds with broken toothpicks for legs. I’m not entirely sure what is in the foreground. Perhaps that’s food for the animals (and the baby didn’t fit in this manger so he’s next to it instead. The yarn person, which is perhaps a shepherd, is not to scale but is definitely part of the composition. The frog, however, is almost certainly apocryphal.
Dorothy ordered something from India and it came recently. From “Rupsa, Near Fish Market Hatiadiha, Barhampur, 756028 Balasore, India” to be more precise. On the package was this orange label saying it was X-Ray Screened. It took me a little while to figure out what that shape was to the left of the text. It’s the tail of an airplane with a sunburst pattern on it. Anyway, I liked the label and took some pictures of it this evening. Not, perhaps, the most interesting subject for a photograph but I was fairly busy the rest of the day and it was something that caught my eye.
With apologies for Margery Allingham (whose book was the inspiration for the title of my post), this is art work in a cemetery near where we live. I went to a burial there today, followed by a memorial service in Clarksburg. I didn’t really know the woman who died but I’ve known her husband for over 45 years. We’ve lost touch a bit but we’d run into one another occasionally. Nevertheless, he’s one of a small number of men who influenced me pretty significantly in my early life. After the service, I drove back to the cemetery and wandered around a bit and took some pictures. This art is in a Jewish section of the cemetery and I really like it. There was another similarly designed piece with Moses parting the waters of the Red Sea. I’m assuming that this is Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, who:
…took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”
She was not mourning, of course, but as this artwork is decorating a cemetery, I thought that title might fit well.
When I was in school, both K through 12 and in college, I was not much of a reader. It wasn’t that I couldn’t read. But I was a slow reader and it took me a long time to get through anything of substance. I don’t think it was because I had a short attention span. It was probably as short as that of many boys but I could focus if I wanted to. The problem was that I didn’t want to. History, among a few other subjects, simply didn’t interest me. Now, things are different. I love history and although I still read slowly, I’m much more likely to be reading history of one sort or another that almost anything else. When I set up my library in the basement I organized my books mostly by subject but there are a few groups of books that are grouped together for other reasons. In the case of these books, they are both historical in nature and unified by their common publisher. To their left (outside this photo) are most of my Modern Library books, also grouped together.
A side note, four of these books, The Song of Roland and the three part Dante series, were all translated by Dorothy Sayers (13 June 1893 – 17 December 1957), famed for her mystery stories.
When was the last time you wrote a letter? For me, I know it’s been a while. I’ve sent a few business letters, generally accompanying a check or something of that sort. But a real, honest to goodness, hand-written letter? It’s been a while. I wrote one to a friend who ended up in prison for a little while but that was hard. I’ve probably only written one or two others in the last five years or more. I’m not sure what that means for the future. I guess in one sense it means “less stuff” and maybe that’s a good thing. But it’s sometimes fun to see old letters that were written by our parents or grandparents (or even earlier) back in the day. That’s what these are.
This is one of those photos that’s here just to fill they day. We have a blue hutch in our kitchen, brought from my mother-in-law’s kitchen. On that are two shelves where we keep mugs and these are some of them. The mug on the right holds dry-erase markers that we use to update the calendar on the wall nearby. In the back is a mug I made (the light brown one) back in 1979 or thereabouts. It’s a pretty decent mug, if I say so myself. In front of that and to the left is one that Dorothy got for being in the York’s wedding. And back over to the right is one that dad got at NIH at some point. I think of him whenever I use it (and other times, too).
I got out of my office and into the woods for a little while today. I took some pictures of oak leaves, which I fine quite beautiful this time of year. I also took some photos of the stream that flows through the woods next to my office. There was a small oily patch that looked like miniature ice bergs and I thought about posting one of those. In the end, I decided I liked this photo of two redbud seedpods better. It’s a simple picture but I like the lines.
It’s turned cold, with morning temperatures in the mid 20s. We had our first hard freeze yesterday and today there was frost on the windscreen of my car. So, naturally I pulled out my camera and took a few pictures. These little ice crystals are pretty delicate and once I turned on the car, they melted pretty quickly (and I ran the windshield washer, which took care of them completely). As many of you know, I don’t mind cold weather too much. I wore a jacket a few times during our ten days in Juneau but that was as much for the rain as anything else. I’ll generally not bother unless it’s below about 15°F or I’m going to be outdoors for an extended period.
I bought a book from Ikea today. Sorry, the joke isn’t original but very few of them really are. I was looking around for something to photograph this evening and saw this Bananagrams set and thought I could use them to illustrate the joke. Not the funniest joke I’ve every told but certainly not the worst, either. Am I known for telling “dad jokes”? Yes, I suppose I am. It goes along with my “dad bod”, which I prefer to describe as a “father figure”.
I’ve published a photo of these everlastings (Xerochrysum bracteatum ‘Sundaze Golden Beauty’) before. See Wednesday, June 06, 2018. They aren’t quite as fresh as they were then, but if you can find another flower that looks this good after five months in your back garden, with birds, bugs, and the summer heat, I’ll be surprised. Yellow flowers seem to fool the computer in my camera (a Canon EOS 60D) and they come out with way too much blue. It’s easy enough to adjust them back to the original yellow but it’s a bit funny how strongly it wants them to be blue.
a few of Dorothy’s friends are passing through the area and asked if they could spend the night here tomorrow night. Naturally we’re happy to have them and I was cleaning up the guest room, which we have used as something of a store room for things we don’t know what to do with. I was in there this evening and this do caught my eye. I don’t know why but I think the composition with the dog in front of the samovar lamp just works. It’s all I have for today, so I guess it has to.
As I mentioned a few days ago, with the shorter days, if I don’t get out during work and if there doesn’t happen to be a nice sunrise or sunset, I have a hard time getting an outdoor photo this time of year (and for the next few months). Because of that, I’m afraid you’re going to have to put up with this sort of photograph. This happens every year and I really should look back at previous years and see if there is anything I did that I might do again now, to deal with this issue.
Well, we landed in Juneau after a long day of flights and layovers in Los Angeles and Seattle. We slept well and didn’t worry about getting up early (although I woke up at 7:00 anyway). We took a walk with the dogs in Lemon Creek, where Dorothy is living with our good friends, Brian and Lisa. The dogs, Kippen and Ayla, are border collies and are a lot of fun. The walk in Lemon Creek is surprisingly pretty for something so close to their house and it was nice to get out. The air was cool and it was raining very lightly but we knew what to expect and were ready for it. I got one photo with three bald eagles in it but I think this one is better. You can see the one at the top of the tree pretty easily but there is a second that’s not quite so obvious a little ways down on the right side of the same tree.
I’ve worked my way through quite a few hard drives over the years. When I bought my first computer, a NEC APC. I had the option to buy a 10MB drive for about $5,000. I opted not to spend that much for a hard drive that was only 10 times the capacity of the 8″ floppies it used. My phone now has a 128GB micro SD card that can be bought for $20. That’s roughly 13,000 times the capacity for 1/250th the price or about 3.25 million times the storage per dollar. I have two 5TB and two 6TB drives in my main work computer that cost a little over $100 each, more than 20 million times the storage per dollar. What I really need to do it make sure there is nothing left on any of these drives that I need and then destroy them. But like so much of what needs to be done, it takes time.
I met Cathy outside for a little while early this afternoon. As we were walking back towards the entrance to my building we saw a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) near the parking lot and I was able to get a few nice photographs of her. Cathy went back to her office and I went down near the pond and took some photos of insects. There was a type of fly that I hadn’t seen before. I thought it was a thick-headed fly (Family Conopidae) but it was identified as a Dioprosopa clavata, a syrphid fly (Family Halictidae) that resembles a thick-headed fly. Today’s photo, however, is of this metalic green sweat bee, a female in the genus Augochlorella.
Cathy and I went to Trader Joe’s after work and then stopped at the Rio for a bit. We walked around the pond and I took some photos, mostly of the reflections in the water. This is the Launch Workplaces building near the western end of the pond. I thought the reflections were nice. There was a gaggle of (probably middle school) girls on the bridge posing for group pictures on their phones and we heard the dad of one of them say something like, “Well, we’re eating now. You can take pictures or you can eat.” The girls didn’t seem interested in eating.
My grandfather and his brother were both Rhodes scholars. My grandfather, the older of the two, was at Exeter College from October, 1907 through July, 1910. His younger brother, Ralph, was at St Johns and received a B.A. degree in 1912 and a B.Sc. degree in 1913. They both competed in athletics, and we have this medal that Ralph won in a competition in 1911. It was for second place in the high jump and his height was 5 feet, 3½ inches. That wasn’t close to any sort of record. The world record in 1912 (the first world record in the men’s high jump was recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federations) was 6′ 6¾”. The current record is 8′ ½” (2.45 meters).
I had hoped to get outside yesterday but didn’t. Today I did, walking up the road and onto the empty lot next to my building. The vernal drainage pool is nearly dry. The small areas with water are interesting because there is something in the water that’s not happy to be quite so crowded. If it rains soon, they may be saved. The fall color has only just started to be in evidence but a few things tend to turn early and they stand out. This staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is an example. They are also crowned with their bright red, annual, pyramidal fruiting clusters.
I had hoped to get pictures outside today but it didn’t happen. I was moving a few things in the basement this evening and I noticed this old wrench and thought it might be an interesting thing for a photograph. Well, maybe not all that interesting but that’s all I have, so that’s all you get. This was one of the tools I got when we cleaned out my grandfather’s work shop back in the early 1980s. I don’t know how old it is, but it’s almost certainly older than I am, anyway. I see similar items listed on web sites specializing in antiques calling this an antique. That may be stretching things a bit, but it’s oldish, anyway.
I’ve recently been going through some scanned photographs and putting labels on them. These were taken by my father-in-law in the 1950s and early 1960s in Afghanistan, a place many people could not have found on a map until the last 20 years or so. I’ve gotten so I have a pretty good idea where the different photographs were taken and I recognize some of the important personages, such as King Mohammed Zahir Shah, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran, Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin of the USSR, and Vice President Richard M. Nixon. I also have gotten familiar with many of the landmarks. On this 10,000 Afghani note (sadly not worth much) is a detail of the Great Mosque of Herat. On the reverse is the Arch of Qala-e-Bost, outside Lashkar Gah.
“Resistance is Futile. You will be assimilated.” So spoke the Borg when meeting other species. Scott Adams used a variation—“It’s useless to be a resistor”, if memory serves— in one of his Dilbert strips. There are t-shirts with the phrase “Resistance is Futile (if < 1 ohm)” (with some variation in the actual number of ohms required for resistance to be futile). Those, I believe, are aimed at the intersection between Star Trek fans and electrical engineers (or whatever the category would be that will get the electronics reference). Anyway, this is a multi-meter showing a hair over 50 ohms of resistance.
It’s been a busy season for us in terms of cars. We’ve been dealing with our aging fleet for some time. In July, Dorothy left with her cousin in what was meant to be the final journey for our 2000 Chrysler Town and Country. The plan was for them to drive via Chicago to Albuquerque and the car would then be sold for scrap. They made it to Chicago and that’s where it died (the brakes failed completely). They made the rest of the trip in a rental car. We replaced that with a 2007 Town and Country, bought from the parents of a coworker. We also need to unload the Mercury Villager that belongs to Cathy’s mom. It’s ready to go. Well, my brother George came to our rescue by offering us his 2006 Honda Accord. It’s in really good shape and it’s our first sedan of any description for quite some time. I got it registered today, so I figured I’d take a few pictures.
Our church’s annual fall picnic was today and we couldn’t have asked for much nicer weather. I suppose a few degrees cooler wouldn’t have hurt, but it was very, very nice. We ate a great picnic lunch with burgers, hot dogs, and smoked pork shoulder (thanks, Ben!) as well as a wider variety of side dishes than I’ve seen in a long time. After the meal, we had our “regular” church service. Well, it was a bit different because we were outdoors. But otherwise, it was pretty much what we’re used to. It was great to see an old friend (she’s not all that old, but we’ve known her for a while) and I think a good time was had by all, or certainly most.
It’s been pretty dry lately. Not drought dry, but normal August in the DC area dry, which is dry enough for me. I’ve never been attracted to deserts and am happy when rain comes (within reason). We had a good rain today. Not the all-day soaking rain we’re more likely to get starting in September but a good rain, nonetheless. When it had mostly stopped, I took a few pictures of water droplets on leaves, starting with the leaves of this rose. It’s the China rose ‘Perle d’Or’ just outside our front door and it’s happily blooming and doing very well after being killed back a little last winter.
No, I’m not in the hospital, at least not as a patient. I met Cathy’s mom there early this evening and then Cathy joined us a little later. As I write this, four days after the fact, Margaret is home and the stay at the hospital is just a memory. At the time, of course, it’s a lot of waiting around punctuated by brief visits from the doctor and slightly more frequent visits from the nurse. We were in the emergency room and everyone was very nice. The sounds of an ER are not exactly conducive to rest. At about 11:30 they decided to admit her to the hospital and the nurse sent us home with a promise to call and let us know what room she has been moved to. I had taken a few pictures on my phone in the ER but took this photo as we left at about 11:45 PM.
For a while now I’ve bought butter in two-pound rolls. It’s a bit cheaper and we go through it quickly enough. In fact, I try to have one roll in the freezer that I take out (and replace) when the one in the fridge runs out. When Cathy’s niece Abba was here last year she took a photo on her phone of my two-pound roll on the counter. Sometime later She posted a photo of this painting on Instagram, titled “Our Own Mound of Butter.” I asked if I could buy it and now it’s hanging in our dining room.
I wasn’t able to get out into the garden to take any photos today. After going to the Motor Vehicle Administration (my favorite place) to register a new old car we bought my back started bothering me. By 1:00 in the afternoon I was having a really hard time. I got on the floor and did my “Say Goodbye To Back Pain” exercises. I went home shortly after 2:00 and spent the rest of the day on an ice pack. Late in the evening I got up and took a few pictures, including this one. I hope you enjoy it.
Cathy and I drove to the east end of Ocean Isle this morning and walked on the beach, looking for shells and coral and I took a few pictures. The other day we had noticed a boardwalk going into the scrub off of one of the back streets and we decided to see where it led. from the corner of e 4 sup th /sup and winston-salem streets we followed a combination of boardwalks (over wet areas) and sandy trails that go as far as Charlotte Street (although we didn’t actually go all the way to the end). We saw three species of spider. There were lots of these spinybacked orbweavers (Gasteracantha cancriformis). We also saw a golden-silk orbweaver (Nephila clavipes) and a black-and-yellow argiope (Argiope aurantia). I also got a pretty nice photo of a slant-faced grasshopper (Subfamily Gomphocerinae). It was hot but there were occasional breezes and it was mostly shady, so we enjoyed it pretty well.
I went out into the empty lot next to my building today but didn’t get a lot of pictures to show for it. There was a small depression in the ground, it looked like it might have been a deer footprint, with a small spider web in it. The spider web had water droplets on it, and that’s what you see here. The web itself is practically invisible so it just looks like water droplets floating in air. Very cool, I think. I didn’t have a tripod and even if I did, getting this close to the ground is a problem. I have a new (used) tripod with legs that spread far enough to get me pretty low but the central post is too long for that to make a difference. In any case, just the tripod head is too tall in this case. A bean bag would have been better, but I didn’t have that, either.
As I’ve mentioned, the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is the most plentiful, large butterfly in our yard all summer. They are followed by the monarch (Danaus plexippus) in a distant second place. They generally are harder to photograph than the swallowtails but this one let me get close and I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s perched on Verbena bonariensis growing in our front yard, near where the Colorado spruce used to be.
We bought a new car today. It’s new to us, anyway, although it’s a 2007, so not really new. The timing is pretty great, coming as it does shortly after the old 2000 Town and Country gave up the ghost in Chicago, as Dorothy and Abba were driving to Albuquerque. I happened to mention Dorothy’s woes to a few coworkers and one of them said her parents were going to sell their car—also a Town and Country—because they are moving to Florida and already have cars there. We made the transaction today but still need to get it registered, but it’s here. The new pride of the fleet.
We hadn’t planned on going downtown today. It was about 100°F late this afternoon and we had not real interest in being out any more than necessary. However, we drove Cathy’s mom to a wedding in Rosslyn so we were pretty close. We went across the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge and parked just off of Constitution Avenue and then walked each to 14th street.
After getting dinner from a food truck and eating it in a pretty, little patio garden next to the African American Museum, we found our viewing spot for the show. I won’t say I remember it like it was yesterday but I definitely remember watching and being excited by the Apollo 11 moon launch and landing. For the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, a Saturn V rocket image was projected onto the side of the Washington Monument, starting at about 9:00 PM.
Then at 9:30, a show began, where they “constructed” the rocket on the launch pad and then it took off. We watched the stages separate and then the command and service modules, with the LEM attached, headed off to the moon, carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. It was very hot and of course there were lots of people. Nevertheless, we were absolutely glad we went and really enjoyed the show.
One of my great uncles had a small collection of sharks teeth that somehow managed to find its way into our household. I’ve posted a photo of a sharks tooth from that collection in the past. This quartz arrowhead was in the same box. I don’t know where it was found although my guess would be North Carolina. I don’t even know for sure that it was found by him, but I assume it was. It’s a beautiful little thing. I’ve never really tried my hand at knapping stone but I would guess that quartz is not the easiest material to shape. If it’s all you have, however, I guess you’d learn and obviously someone did.
Dorothy spent much of the day organizing her things. It’s been a few years since all her things were in one place and she’s taking the opportunity to go through everything and decide what she can get rid of. When I got home today and needed something to photograph she suggested I could take some pictures in her room. Out of the two dozen or so that I took, this one is my favorite. It’s a little shell with an even smaller figurine in it, a mouse (I think), and a metal box with enamel, all sitting on a small Afghan carpet square that she’s using as a table cover.
We were in the dining room finishing up dinner this evening. Dorothy has gotten home and I fixed Thai curry for her (and all of us). Dorothy noticed this deer walking across the back yard and I grabbed my camera. I figured that when I opened the back door she would run off but she only seemed mildly interested in my presence. At first she was behind a big bush but she wondered out and I was able to get a few pictures. Then she sauntered back across the lawn and into the neighbor’s yard.
Years ago we bought a Dodge Grand Caravan from our mechanic. He had bought it from a couple that we happen to know when they decided not to pay for a new transmission. Eddie put in a new transmission and then sold the van to us. At the time it had about 115,000 miles. As you can see, it now has 270,000 isn’t bad on that second transmission. That’s not to say we haven’t put more into it, of course. In fact, it’s getting pretty near the time when it’s casting too much to keep going. Pretty son we’ll need to replace it. But I’m happy t have reached this “milestone.”
We spent most of the day on the road today, driving up to Massachusetts to visit Dorothy for the weekend and see her senior art exhibit tomorrow evening. It was four of us, Cathy, me, and our two moms (Dorothy’s grandmas). We didn’t have traffic problems to speak of until we got onto Interstate 95 around Boston. Then it took us two hours to go 25 miles. We met up with Dorothy and went to the art building where the final preparations are under way. I’ll post a picture of Dorothy’s art tomorrow. Today, here’s Dorothy pointing out an article about a woman being attacked by a beaver.
The lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is starting to bloom. This is a great, little ground cover once it gets itself established. That can take a little while and they aren’t cheap when you buy them from the garden center a few pips at a time. They also have a tendency to “migrate” in the garden. In our back yard they are around the two smaller maple trees that we still have. Over the time we’ve been here they have expanded and died out in the central part of the bed. I wish you could make it “turn around” and head in the other direction but short of digging it up and physically turning it around, that’s not really possible.
The flowers don’t last very long but while they are blooming they are really pretty. Note that all parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cardiac glycosides, so don’t try to use them as a salad green. I don’t think that’s something I’d have thought to try anyway.
The fireflame tulips (Tulipa acuminata) are coming into bloom. These interesting tulips are listed as species but they are not actually known in the wild and are probably some very old hybrid whose origin is lost in the mists of time. Either way, they are quite beautiful, with the pointed petals. They generally have mostly red petals with yellow towards the base but this variety, from McLure and Zimmerman, are almost entirely yellow with a little green running down the spine of the petals. Every year I wonder if they will come up and so far, they’ve not let me down.
Have you met my friend, Jack? That’s him in this photo, in the yellow. He’s a stouthearted lad with a lot of strength. Getting this stump out of the ground was not going to be easy, no matter what. Cathy said I should pay someone to do it and maybe she was right. I had dug all around it a few weeks ago and cut the major roots a little way from the trunk. In years past I demonstrated simple machines to second graders, showing them the brilliance of levers and pulleys. It would have been silly of me to try to get this stump out using brute strength (to say nothing of the fact that I don’t have anything like enough brute strength for the job).
On Saturday I went back to work on it, working smarter and not harder. I dug a hole under the largest root and put my hydraulic jack under it. With various pieces of stump under the jack, I was able to work that end up. Then I started moving around. This evening I got the last side up and sawed the last of the roots that was holding it down. The whole thing is pretty heavy but I was able to get it up on its side. I couldn’t have done it without my good friend, Jack.
I don’t know for sure but I think these old opera glasses belonged to my Uncle Ralph and his wife, Aunt Florence. Technically my great uncle and aunt, because he was my grandfather’s brother. Assuming that’s where they came from, I have to assume also that they went to the theatre from time to time. I can’t say that I knew them well. They lived in New Jersey and he died when I was only ten years old. He grew up in the west, having been born in what is now a ghost town in a mining area of Nevada. After earning an undergraduate degree in Utah, he went to St Johns College in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar where he earned a B.A. degree and a year later a B.Sc. degree.
I stopped at Rockville Cemetery on the way home today. With the weather turning warmer (relatively) and the sun out, it’s very tempting to be outdoors as much as possible. My job, of course, keeps me inside most of the time and it’s been fairly busy lately, with lots of revisions and bug fixes. That’s meant that I haven’t been out during the day too often. With the time change it’s light later in the day and that gives me more of a chance to get out after work.
Rockville Cemetery, on Old Baltimore Road, is a nice, relatively quiet place. The eponym of my high school alma mater is buried there. The graves of Walter Johnson and his wife Hazel are in a very shady spot under a pair of mature spruce trees. Generally it’s hard to get a good picture of them because it’s so shady but when I was there today the sun was slanting under the trees’ lower branches and lighting up the grave markers. This photo is from another part of the cemetery, though. I really love big, old, white oaks (Quercus alba) and this is a nice specimen.
On Saturday we stopped at the storage locker and brought some things home to go through. That included a clothes rack and one of the items on that rack was a large, hooded robe all covered with embroidery. This photo is a part of that embroidery. Neither Cathy nor her mom know where it’s from but probably Cathy’s dad bought it somewhere. It’s in pretty new condition but it’s too long for either Cathy or her mom to wear (and not really their style, in any case). The embroidery is pretty, with flowers and plants in orange, yellow, and pale green.
I’m not going to pretend that most of my followers have never seen one of these before, because it hasn’t actually been that long since there were rotary phones in every house. In the 1960s, mom took Ralph and me to the New York World’s Fair and we got to time ourselves dialing our home phone number on both a rotary dial phone and a touch tone phone. Needless to say, the difference was pretty significant. I remember how you hated having to dial numbers with a lot of 9s or 0s in them. We also talked to each other from different booths on a video phone. That took a little longer to pan out, but now, that’s here, as well. The phone pictured here is probably from the 1950s or possibly the 40s. On the other hand, I suspect it still works.
There was a lot of stuff in Cathy’s mom’s house, including a surprising number of things that Cathy had never seen. The jaguar skin that I posted a picture of recently was one example. This gold pendant in the shape of a camel is another. Specifically, this is a dromedary, the one-humped camel (Camelus dromedarius), currently existing only as a domestic or feral animal, having been first domesticated in Somalia or the Arabian Peninsula about 4,000 years ago. There are two species of two-humped camels, the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) and the wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus), which until recently was assumed to have descended from feral domesticated Bactrian camels. Genetic studies have shown it to be a separate species.
Dorothy drove down for spring break with five of her friends, arriving around 11:00 last night. Today we drove up to Pennsylvania for the day. When this trip was planned they talked about camping but as the date approached it was clear that wasn’t going to be realistic. When we got there, there was about six inches of snow on the ground. We were able to get a fire going and cleared off the log benches so we could sit around it. We took a few short walks but mostly stayed close. It was cool but the sky was clear and there was no wind to speak of so it was very pleasant. Dorothy set out a beach chair and did some reading. This isn’t the stereotypical spring break but everyone seemed to have a good time.
We got this watch out of the safe deposit box recently to show Cathy’s cousin and his wife. It belonged to Cathy’s grandfather, Benje’s great grandfather. It was made by the Waltham Watch Company and is a Model 1892. This is the second version of the model, with the serial number next to the barrel bridge. It’s not in perfect condition but it’s still very nice and we keep it in the safe as much to keep it from being knocked around as anything else. I believe this watch was manufactured in or around 1896, based on the serial number. Because it was made as early as that, when D. B. was only 12 years old, it may have belonged to his father before him or of course he could have bought it used.
I took a few pictures as I walked across campus to a meeting early this afternoon and then a few more on the way back. On the way over I saw a flock of native sparrows bopping around in the underbrush and took a few pictures but really they were too far away to get anything worth posting. I also took some pictures of the ripples on the stream that flows through the property. On the way back I looked for the sparrows but they seem to have moved on. There were, however, a few American robins (Turdus migratorius) pulling worms out of the grass. Although they are migratory, we have them year round here, with those that migrate from New England and Canada only making it this far south for the winter.
There was snow in the forecast for this afternoon and this evening and we got it. Someone had said that we’d be getting two feet of snow, but nothing approaching that was ever in any official forecast that I saw. We got somewhere under a half inch and that only on grassy areas. The roadways we were on never had any accumulation. It’s also supposed to be colder this week, with temperatures in the mid 20s or even down into the teens one or two nights this week. The forecasters on the radio are breathlessly telling us about the “bitter cold“ weather we can expect. I’m sorry but I can’t get too exercised about temperatures around 20°F. I wouldn’t describe that as warm, of course. It’s cold, but definitely not “bitter cold.“ I’m happy with anything below zero being described as bitter. I might even grant “bitter“ status to single digit temperatures. But not low to mid twenties. Sorry.
It’s hard to believe the day has finally arrived. Well, actually it hasn’t. The day is tomorrow but I went over to my mother-in-law’s house today to get the very last thing out (a dehumidifier from the basement) and to take one last set of pictures. I could always stop out front and take pictures but it won’t be the same. As of noon tomorrow this house will belong to new owners. We don’t know a lot about them but they sound like a nice family and they seem really excited to be moving into this house. I certainly served Cathy’s family well and was a good home for 50 years. But time marches on and things change. We’re glad it’s going to a young family and we wish them every happiness. While change can be hard, and getting to this day has been a struggle, this particular change is a blessed relief.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I met some friends from work at Uncle Julio’s for happy hour. It hadn’t been a particularly happy day and I decided I would benefit from socializing as opposed to coming home and reading or more likely dwelling on my frustrations. Shortly after everyone got there my phone rang. It was Cathy saying she had a flat tire. She ended up taking an Uber to where she was going and I picked her up from there a little later.
We went to work together today and I attached a pump to the flat tire to see if it would hold air at all. Almost immediately I notice the head of a screw in the treads and figured it wasn’t worth the effort. It wasn’t going to hold air. Around lunchtime I went over to her building and put on the spare. I would normally joke that the tire was only flat on the bottom but as you can see, it held its shape pretty well. This was taken with the tire in the back of the van. I was happy to find that the spare had air.
Just one of those things.
I’m not really a big Happy Hour celebrant and I don’t do a lot with people from work outside of work hours. Nevertheless, I went out with eight others from work today and enjoyed myself. It had been a particularly rough day, with a problem on a system I’m developing that I could not figure out. It made no sense and nothing I did seemed to make any difference. Finally I gave up and figured I’d have better success looking at it again in the morning. Then I went out and took some pictures, including this one, before meeting my friends in Uncle Julio’s for an hour or so. I’m pretty pleased with this picture, showing the pond at the Rio as well as Copper Canyon Grill and various other buildings behind it.
This is part of the pattern on a jaguar skin that we found in my in-laws’ basement. It was in a barrel that had been sealed and managed to survive in reasonable condition. We figure that it’s been there since the mid 1960s and have no idea how long before that it was actually brought here. Cathy’s grandmother lived in Peru for many years and brought quite a few animals back as well as some furs. Among other things, she had a pet ocelot, a coatimundi, and a vicuña as well as many birds. The Coati ended up in the National Zoo, I believe. We have the skin from Perla, her pet vicu&#xn1;a. Obviously a jaguar is a whole other matter and as best we know, she never had one as a pet. I certainly isn’t something we expected to find and we’re not sure what to do with it. Since it was brought here, quite a few laws have been enacted prohibiting or limiting sale of such items. Probably most significant is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which was passed in 1973. It is “an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.” It also limits the sale of animal parts owned prior to implementation. Not that we want to sell this and it’s not really in top condition, in any case. As you can see from this picture, trade in furs of endangered species makes jaguars sad.
We have two storage lockers with things from Cathy’s mom’s house. This is the first of the two and it’s a bit disorganized. That being said, there’s a lot of stuff in there and organizing it would be a pretty big job, probably an all day job. At one point I pulled a bunch of stuff out into the hallway and put together two sets of shelves along the right hand wall. That helped because there are things that can’t really be stacked on top of and the shelf space is much more efficient for those things. That’s not to say that everything that should be on the shelves go move, of course. The boxes in the middle of this photo have books (towards the bottom) and china and other kitchen and dining ware (towards the top). There are also a few slides in boxes through the ten by ten foot room. You can see some of them in the plastic bins and also the Kodak carousels against the back wall.
I mentioned recently that I’m planning to attempt to retrofit a Kodak Carousel slide projector into a slide digitizer. I’ve begun to make purchases towards that end. I already have a few projectors. The most complicated parts, which are anything to do with electronics, will be replacing the light source. The 300 watt halogen bulb is very bright and very hot. LEDs generate some heat, as well, but not as much. This is the light source I have picked. It’s 50 watts and should give me a nice, even illumination. I’ll put some pearled glass between it and the slide, to further even things out. I also bought a heat sink with an attached fan and a driver for the light that runs on household current.
The forecast was for snow and freezing rain overnight and the local school systems had already cancelled classes for today as early as yesterday evening. Nothing was coming down when we went to bed, just after midnight. When I got up this morning there was maybe as much as half an inch on the ground. I took a few pictures then out the front door. A little later, just before 9:00 AM, I took more pictures out the back door, including this one. By that point there was maybe a little more than two inches on the ground. By the time I’m actually posting this, about 2:00 PM, the snow has stopped falling and there is about five inches. I’m fortunate in that I can work from home without any trouble. I’d much rather take a day off and go for a walk in the snow, but they like me to work for my pay, so I work.
This fairly large chunk of petrified wood was used for many years as a door stop at my grandparents house in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and I can still see it there. When we cleaned out their house in the early 1980s, my mom took it and when we cleaned out her house last year, I did. For now, it’s on a shelf in our upstairs office, which is mostly a storage room for various things at present. We’ve slowly but surely (well, slowly, anyway) going through things and reducing the amount of stuff and this room is in pretty bad shape. If I can get my slide digitizer built and working, perhaps I can eliminate a significant amount of stuff in that room, which has all my photographs from when I bought my first camera in 1979 or so to when I switched to digital in 2003. There are also notebooks of slides from my grandfather, various boxes of negatives, and miscellaneous other items to be scanned. It isn’t going to be finished anytime soon.
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.
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.
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.
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 (
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On one shelf in the basement we have a bunch of old Bibles. Some quite old. In fact, when David was working here a little over a year ago he joked that it looked like we had some first editions. They aren’t that old, of course, but they go back a ways. The one on the left in this photo, the Scofield Reference Edition, come to us by way of Cathy’s family. It appears to have been owned by Cathy’s grandmother, with the date December 25, 1919 written in the front, and with the names and birth dates of Cathy’s mom and her siblings. The second from the left is a bit of a mystery, as I don’t recognize any of the names. The two on the right come to us through my dad’s family. The one on the right has the birth dates of my great grandfather and his siblings and with a date in 1876 written in the front (although my great grandfather was a teenager by then). The one next to it, with the fancy binding decoration, has an inscription to my great grandmother from her sister, dated 1873. The one lying on top was my mom’s mother’s and is probably from the second decade of the 20th century.
I posted a photo of the hardwood floor in our living room (see Sunday, October 28, 2018 ) after I took up most of the wall-to-wall carpet in the room. I had left carpet under a bookcase, the large, console television, and the piano. Last weekend I finally got those last pieces up and put this Persian carpet down in the room. It’s from Afghanistan and was brought from my mother-in-law’s house. It looks really good and fits the room quite nicely, with the edges just under the sofa on one side and the television and one piano leg on the other. I have a small rug over one end so that it isn’t a tripping hazard while it gets itself flattened out again after being rolled up for a few months. The pattern is called Bukhara, named for the Turkoman city of the same name.
It was significantly warmer today and the ice was starting to melt. I had to walk across campus to a meeting (well, I didn’t have to walk but I chose to). After the meeting I went out into the woods for a little while to take some pictures. There is a stream running through the woods and a very boggy area next to it with ice throughout. I took a few pictures of the ice, which to me looks a lot like contour maps, which I find quite beautiful. I think I’m drawn to things that are fleetingly beautiful. Their transient nature hurts because I know they will shortly be gone but perhaps that adds to their appeal at the same time. A sunset, a pattern in ice, a beautiful and dramatic sky, they all last for a moment and then are gone forever.
The temperature didn’t get as low as we had been led to believe overnight, but it was 10°F this morning, which is chilly enough. I wear a light jacket when it gets this cool out, although really what I needed was gloves. The steering wheel of the car was pretty cold. I took some pictures of the pond between my office building and the next early this afternoon. The water level has dropped a few feet from when the ice started to form, so there were large sheets of ice around the banks of the pond that were left behind as the water moved out from under them. There was also ice on branches that had been underwater but now were about a foot above. It was quite pretty.
It’s been a reasonably mile winter so far, with only a few really chilly days. The forecast had temperatures dropping this afternoon with a low in the mid single digits (Fahrenheit) tonight. In the last afternoon I went out and it was definitely colder than it had been. The standing water on the lawn in the back yard was starting to freeze and making some really pretty crystal formations. It’s not the easiest thing to photograph but I think this one shows it pretty well. This ice is very thin, less than a millimeter, but by the morning the water will almost certainly be frozen solid.
We’ve had a fair amount of rain lately. In fact, we had a really wet fall and winter so far. It normally rains more here in the winter months but, and I haven’t actually checked the specifics, this year seems worse than normal. There is still some snow, although the temperature has been above freezing. These two brass deer are in among Cathy’s potted plants at the top of our driveway. I like the way they are standing in the snow, looking out at the cleared portion of the drive. They seem pretty unconcerned by the cold. The forecast has a cold front moving in late tomorrow, with temperatures predicted to drop into the single digits tomorrow night.
The original intent of this doll was that the owner could make clothes to fit it. Of course, making clothes that small is not as easy as it sounds. My mom, to whom it was given, says that it’s actually easier to make full size clothes for a person than it is to do the very fine, fiddly work necessary to make clothes for this doll. She doesn’t remember exactly when it was given to her but she knows it was when they lived in Raeford, North Carolina, where her father was the principal of the school. They were there during the second World War and her mother made this nurse’s outfit for the doll and it was displayed in a bank window along with a sign asking for donations for the Red Cross. There was a “thermometer” where they showed the amount that had been given by extending the red line up the middle. As you can see, the buttons are out of scale with the rest of the clothes, but putting scale buttons on something this small would have been pretty tricky. I know people who won’t sew buttons on full size clothes.
Until the end of next week, I’ve been moved to an office in another building. I’m working with a team of programmers in this building so it makes sense, I suppose. There are times when it’s a lot more efficient to walk down the hall and discuss a change or a problem than to discuss over email or even the phone. I can connect remotely to my regular desktop computer, so I have access to my normal suite of software, including anything I’ve installed that’s non-standard at the company. It’s a pretty bare-bones office. I do sort of like the semicircular window, although the view out of it is of another building rather than the woods that I’m used to. I only expect to be here through Friday of next week, though. That is until the next time, when I get moved back here again. I don’t know if this is a subtle ploy to get me into a different group. I don’t actually think so, but you never know. Time will tell, I suppose.
I don’t want to get into a debate about nature verses nurture but photography seems to be a family trait in my family. I knew my mom’s father took a lot of pictures. My parents and brothers got the bug, whether through exposure (pun intended) or a natural propensity. The six cameras show here belonged to family members, although a couple of them I know nothing about.
The camera on the right, with the red bellows, is a Kodak camera (model unknown) which belonged to my (paternal) great uncle Ralph. We have some prints (and some negatives) from this camera taken during his time at Oxford and travels through Europe, Egypt, and Palestine between 1910 and 1913. Sadly, it’s lost most of the leather covering, although I do have the very worn leather case that the camera is stored in.
The Speed Graphic, on the left, belonged to my (maternal) grandfather. I’ve used it from time to time, although it’s a lot of work. Once, when we lived in Alaska, I took multiple exposures on a single piece of film during the Independence Day fireworks display over Juneau. My father-in-law had one of these, as well, and used it in the 1950s until he recognized the advantages of speed to be had with a 35mm SLR.
There is a Univex Mercury II, which is a half-frame camera. That’s the one with the semi-circular bit on top, which made room for the circular, rotary shutter. We have quite a few slides from that, taken in the late 1940s by my grandfather. It uses a standard 35mm film canister but the images are only 18×24mm.
I don’t know much about the other three, in terms of who owned them or where they came from. They were found in basements as we cleaned out the two parental houses. There is a Bolsey Model B2 (1949 to 1956), a Spartus “35” (made by Herold Products in the late 1940s), and another folding camera, simply labeled Vario, which refers to the leaf shutter, not the camera as a whole.
I have a few more, including a panorama camera made by Eastman Kodak between 1899-1928. That’s to say nothing of the various 35mm cameras I have accumulated over the years. None of them are worth very much and almost none of them are in anything close to excellent condition.
The local’s got together for lunch today, ahead of the winter storm that was headed our way. We had a nice time walking though the halls and enclosed, connecting breezeways between the buildings. I took a few photos of one of the long breezeways as well as some photos of mom’s artwork, on display in a case in one of the buildings. When we were back in her apartment, I took a few photos of Kai as he played with his trucks. Silas was asleep by then, so I didn’t get any of him, but I need to make a point to photograph him. He’s really getting big, sitting in a highchair at lunch.
I was looking around for something to photograph today and came across a jar of coins, mostly pennies. We have a few jars like this around the house and we really should turn them in for cash and be done with it. As someone who collected coins from my youth, however, it’s hard to do that without first looking through them for old coins. When I was a kid, wheat back cents were quite common, being produced up through 1958. Starting in 1959, the obverse was changed to feature an image of the Lincoln Memorial, as you see here. I still come across a wheat cent now and then, but it’s fairly rare. They aren’t all that valuable, of course, unless they are towards the older end of the run.
Margaret brought this poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) home from church last Sunday and it’s been brightening our dining room table since then. It’s a particularly nice specimen, although we’ve never had a lot of luck keeping them alive for any length of time. They need to be watered but not over watered and houseplants often struggle with the excessively dry air indoors in winter. Getting the leaves to turn colors again is enough trouble that it’s generally easier to simply get a new one each year and enjoy it while it can be enjoyed. By the way, contrary to what you might have heard, the poinsettia is only mildly toxic, although some people are sensitive to the sap and it’s not something you want to eat. But you don’t need to be terribly afraid of it, either.
Dorothy uses this trunk to keep her keepsakes. Today she went through them and got rid of some things that she decided she no longer wanted. It’s good to do that from time to time and after our experience of the last year, going through all the things at our two moms’ houses it’s something we have a little more awareness of. We also watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which is sort of fun at the same time it’s a little terrifying and voyeuristic. Anyway, this isn’t really a suitcase, although it sort of looks like one. It’s a relatively cheap fiberboard trunk made to look like a suitcase. But I like the color and especially the metal latch.
Well, it’s been another year. Here we are on December 31. In a few minutes it will be 2019 and we’ll all write the wrong year for a few weeks until we get used to it and can’t write anything else without concentrating.
This bottle of Champagne has been in our fridge for a while. It’s pretty sweet and has an almond flavor that’s not terrible but isn’t fabulous, either. But I thought it would make a nice New Year photo.
This is the end of my eighth year of taking at least one picture every day. That’s 2,922 days (but who’s counting?). Will I keep going in 2019? Who knows? Since I got this camera at Christmas, 2010, I’ve taken 161,548 photos on it. That’s an average of about 55 per day, although this year it’s been more like 33 per day. Even in these days of digital photos taken with our phones, I think I’m holding my own. A few of the photos are even worth remembering.
So, here’s to 2019. It’s a new year (just like every day) so make the most of it. Happy New Year.
When Dorothy was little, one of the books we got from the library that we all really enjoyed was called Have I Got Dogs! by William Cole and illustrated by Margot Apple. It’s a really fun book and we had most of it memorized, as you do with children’s books that you read over and over. Cathy happens to have a small collection of dog figurines and they are on top of a short bookcase in our sitting room. It needs to be dusted and I’m sorry for revealing that even to my very limited audience, but the dogs themselves don’t seem to mind, so why should we. My personal favorite is the dog with the bone in his mouth, just to the right of center in this photo. I also like the little fellow eating or drinking from a plate in the lower left. “Have I got dogs, pedigrees and mutts, I have so many, some people think I’m nuts” (or something to that effect).
This morning, when I went to take pictures off my camera’s memory card, it started with December 25. The last pictures on my computer had been from December 23 and for a little while I worried that I hadn’t taken any on the 24th. That wouldn’t have been the end of the world, of course, but I’ve gone nearly eight years taking at least one picture a day and I was upset to think that I might have missed a day. It turns out that the script I use to copy files started in the wrong place for some reason and I had pictures from the 24th (which I thought was the case).
I worked on Monday and again yesterday but today I decided to take the day off. Dorothy and I went to the Lancaster County Dutch Market in Germantown and then to Black Rock Mill, on Seneca Creek.
The first picture is looking downstream from the the banks of the creek, standing just below the mill. As you can see, it was a beautiful, cool day. The second picture is just a small bit of rapids in the creek. I think it’s a pretty picture and I love the colors of the water, as they tumble over a few small rocks. I took a few pictures of the mill, as well, and if you’ve never been there, it’s an interesting piece of history. There isn’t a lot to see, but the mill stone and some of the large gears are still there inside the building, which is otherwise basically an empty shell.
After we took up the wall to wall carpet in our living room, we planned to put down a large rug that was at Cathy’s mom’s house. Because I having actually finished, though, we haven’t done that yet. There is still carpet under a bookcase, the TV, and the piano. We could probably fit the rug in already, but simply haven’t done so. In the meantime, we’ve put this rug down in the middle of the room. It’s too small for the space, actually, but it keeps the coffee table from sliding on the hardwood. It’s also a very nice rug in its own right adding color to the room.
As I mentioned a little while ago, we didn’t do a lot of decorating for Christmas. We put up the artificial tree, which already has lights on it, and I put up the Peruvian nativity scene on the piano. Other than that, not much. A few days ago, Cathy and Dorothy added a little to the tree. Mostly this included garlands of sparkling tinsel and a few long strands of red and gold glass beads. This is one of the strands of gold, and I like the way it shines in the light of the tree lights. This will almost certainly be the last of my Christmas decoration pictures for the year. Tomorrow we’ll celebrate Christmas first at our house and then at mom’s apartment.
We were out and about today. Cathy, Dorothy, and I made a trip to the Lancaster Dutch Market where it seemed half the county had gathered. In spite of the crowds, the line at the butcher was relatively short and I bought a few things. Cathy waited in the much longer line for pretzels and sausage rolls (which are the main reason we went, they are amazing). From there we drove to Seneca Creek State Park and drove through, seeing the lights that have been set up as a money maker for the park (and which we have no real desire to wait in line for after dark). I took a few pictures of Clopper Lake and like this one pretty well. I made bangers and mash for dinner, with roasted garlic and Parmesan cheese added to the mash. Comfort food.
I went out and drove around the neighborhood late this evening to get some pictures. It was raining lightly when I went out but started raining quite hard before I got back. Mostly I took pictures of Christmas lights, sometimes holding the camera steady and other times moving it about a little during a longish exposure. This one was not blurred by movement but is focused on the driver-side window with the lights themselves out of focus, but brought somewhat into focus in the drops of rain on the glass. I also took pictures of the large, old, house in our neighborhood that was built in 1914, predating the major development by more than 50 years. Those look a bit spooky, which I like, although the house isn’t haunted, as far as I know.
These are either Christmas tree lights or we’re making the jump to hyperspace. I’m not entirely sure which. Well I am, actually. I haven’t knowingly been in hyperspace, in months, at the very least. This is our Christmas tree. Technically it’s my mother-in-law’s tree but it’s up in our house, because she lives here now and we weren’t up to getting a live tree. We made room for it by moving the sofa over and pushing the eagle lectern against the wall. The tree has lights already on it, all white, as you can see. Also, we don’t have to keep it watered and won’t have to sweep up the needles that inevitably fall.
It doesn’t have any other decorations or ornaments on it, and that’s fine by me. I’m really not very big on decorations and the fact that the tree is up and there is a nativity scene set up on the piano is pretty radical for me. I don’t dislike Christmas, in particular. It’s more that I don’t associate the colors and decorations with the actual event being celebrated. That goes double for all the “winter holiday” type items and at least triple for anything Santa (especially red-Santa, who traditionally wears white).
I posted a picture of this Peruvian nativity scene last year (see: Saturday, December 23, 2017) but that was at my mother-in-law’s house. This year it’s in our living room, on top of the piano. Also, this year I confined myself to just the people and animals that actually go with the set. Last year I included two water buffaloes (one with a boy on its back), three parrots, a llama, a cow-shaped milk-pitcher, three brass monkeys (of the speak, hear, and see no evil variety), as well as various other figures. As you can see, the Pakistani Doll I photographed and posted a few weeks ago (see: Tuesday, November 27, 2018) is still on the piano.
I know these “shelfies” aren’t really all that interesting but it’s an easy out when I haven’t taken a picture. Work continues to e quite busy and I’m finding it hard to get out during the day. That means I have to take a picture somewhere around the house in the evening, unless I happen to get a nice sunrise or sunset. This is (almost) one third of a large bookcase that I built when Cathy and I were first married and we had it in our apartment in Bethesda. Ralph had it in his basement while we lived in Alaska and while we were traveling. After we got back, I had it in our apartment and then in our two houses. It’s very sturdy, with 2×4 supports sandwiched between heavy plywood for the uprights. The shelves are fixed in terms of their location, although the whole thing comes apart for transporting. There is one more tall shelf space below the five shown here and the other two sections are basically the same as this one.
The books on all but the bottom shelf in this photo are cookery books of one sort or another. Some I use a lot, others almost never. I have pulled out some to give away and will probably get rid of some that are still here. I refer to some of these books quite regularly and others quite infrequently but most of the books have contributed at least something to my cooking know how.
This is a small tributary of Watts Branch, which comes through a culvert under West Montgomery Avenue (before it becomes Key West Avenue). On the other side of the road is a small drainage pond build for storm water management and in which there were beavers living until a few years ago. It joins a larger creek that flows through another storm water management pond between my cuilding and the rest of our company’s campus. It goes back under West Montgomery Avenue again before draining into Watts Branch near the Interstate 270 interchange.
It was getting late and I hadn’t taken any pictures today. I was in the living room a looking at the reflections in the corner cupboard. I posted a picture in August (see Sunday, August 26, 2018) but I thought I’d try to get a shot with a reflection of the eagle lectern this time. The lighting was the tricky part, getting enough light on the very dark wood of the eagle without getting too much on the glass itself. This one works pretty well. It doesn’t show as much of the waviness in the glass as I’d have liked, but some, anyway. I also with the wooden door frame had been in better focus. I took some with a smaller aperture but they were not as good for other reasons. It’s hard to judge these things completely on the small display screen on the back of the camera. Still, it’s better than the old days, when we had to wait to get the film back from Kodak before we knew if we had anything useful.
Also, with the cost of film and processing coming to somewhere around 20¢ per shot, we tended to be a little more careful how many photos we took. The nominal cost for a photograph now is pretty small. Od course, there’s the cost of the hard drive divided by how many photos there are but with a six terabyte drive selling for under $200, even when you consider multiple copies of a file (you do back up your files, don’t you?), the cost is less than 1¢ per photo. If you delete your bad photos, the cost goes down, of course, because the won’t have cost you anything.
This is a plate that my mom made in 1955 and I’ve always loved it. She was at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She insists it wasn’t graduate school because she didn’t get a degree, but I still think of it as grad school. She had finished college and was in art school. Ceramics wasn’t her main thing, but they did a little of everything including painting and sculpture, as well. Her interests were in textiles and she did a lot of silk screening. I still have the curtains that she made and which we now use as drop cloths for painting. But this plate is, I think, really nice. I wish we had some clue about the composition of the glaze, which is lovely. We have her wheel and kiln and would really like to get around to using them again.
Cathy and I went for a walk on Lake Needwood after church today. It was overcast but pleasant and we walked part way around the lake. I took this picture from near the boat house at the southeast part of the lake, looking north, more of less. The trees are bare and with the overcast sky, they looked particularly stark and gloomy. That’s not to say they aren’t beautiful, though. I think they look pretty nice. The water was quite still, also, which added to the mood.
For the few of you who follow me here, I apologize for the brief hiatus. My main workstation has four hard drives (including a relatively small boot SSD). Two of them, one 5TB and the other 6TB are dedicated to photographs. Unfortunately, I have a lot of photographs and they two drives are full. That kept me from being able to “process” my photographs for about 10 days (not that I rushed to rectify that matter, of course). I ordered another 6TB drive so I should be set for a while now.
Cathy and I went to the storage unit today to pick up a few things, mostly related to Christmas—nativity scenes, tree decorations, the tree itself— and I decided to take a picture of the automatic doors closing. There is a slight delay after they open (which is nice, because it gives you time to get through them) and then they close. I set the camera to f/22, which gave it an exposure of 0.8 seconds at ISO 100. I moved close enough to trigger the door opening sensor, and then quickly moved back to the wall opposite and positioned the camera against the wall, with the bottom edge sitting on a piece of molding. That allowed me to hold the camera fairly steady for the long exposure. I tried opening them by voice command but all I got back was, “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
This doll was found at some point in the process of clearing out my in-laws house. It has a tag on it that says “Pakistan” so I assume it’s a Pakistani doll, although someone who actually knows these things might say differently. My assumption is that it was labeled by whoever bought it.
Anyway, it’s a little misshapen. Somewhere along the way it seems to have been subject to either excessive heat or pressure or possibly both. The neck is bent into a somewhat unnatural angle the left arm and wrist are effectively broken and the “bones” fused back together with the arm bent twice into a 30° angle or so. Also, the joints, which appear to have been functional at one time, are “calcified” and won’t move. It’s a pretty doll, otherwise, but the angle of the head, in particular, is a bit disturbing.
She is currently standing on the piano but she moves around a bit (not on her own, as far as I know) and she’s been seen lying along the top of the piano and on bookcases, etc. around the house.
After dropping off the Operation Christmas Child boxes we went to the library to return some books and to get a few more. Then because it was such a beautiful day, we decided to take a walk in the park. We drove to the parking area at the park so that half our walking wouldn’t be on neighborhood streets and we could get into the woods right away. It’s been quite rainy this fall and the trail was muddy in places but we managed to get through without getting too wet. I brought my camera, of course and took a fair number of pictures. This large rock on the side of Manor Run marks the spot where you can cross. Just downstream from here the stream is shallow and there are rocks that you can cross on. I think this picture turned out well. As we went around the rock there were three deer grazing and I got some pictures of them, as well. They kept an eye on us but didn’t seem particularly alarmed. We got within about 20 feet of them.
We don’t really know much about this plate. It appears to be Japanese, although we don’t actually know where it was produced. We also don’t know how old it is. This is not the whole plate, clearly, but a detail of the center, not quite reaching the edges in the corners of the image. There is a style called “Thousand Faces” and when you search on that, you find a few images that look a bit similar to this but for the most part, that seems to indicate a very particular style (or possibly two styles). Some show many fewer faces than this plate and only perhaps a dozen faces, so I’m not sure where the name comes from. Others fit the name better but not as well as this one, perhaps. On the other hand, this may not be particularly old and doesn’t even qualify as anything in particular. It is nice, though, and I like the fact that most (if not all) of the people depicted are different from one another. In any case, that’s what I have for today.
About two weeks ago I posted a photo of Lake Needwood that was fairly popular among my small circle of followers. In that photo, the fall color was a day or two short of peak. As usual, the best fall color doesn’t last very long and now, the majority of trees are completely bare. Many of the oaks in the woods are still holding onto their leaves but they have turned from rusty red to dingy brown. The beach trees often keep some leaves over the winter and they turn a beautiful copper color, but it’s nothing like the reds, oranges, and yellows of peak autumn. Some trees still haven’t started to turn or have only just started, so there will be occasional trees yet to enjoy. There are some sweet gums near work that I’m still looking forward to in their deep burgundy red glory. I stopped at Lake Needwood again this morning and it was dreary and overcast. But the skeletal trees were quite beautiful in the quiet of morning. I also startled a flock of at last 15 bluebirds that were gathered in the branches of a bald cypres, with its leaves all turned a pale orange. A fifteen minute walk by the lake is a pretty good way to start the day. I need to do that more often.
As I mentioned in the text on the recent photo of my reading room, I need to organize the books. We’ll, I’ve begun the process and I have a feeling it’s going to be something of an iterative process and will take a while. There’s no perfect organizational structure and since this is my library, I figure I can organize it in a way that makes sense to me. I started with easier sections, because they’re easier. I have a shelf for Shakespeare, another for poetry (with one book of Shakespeare’s poetical works there, instead of with his plays). There is a shelf for textbooks (some of which we’ll probably get rid of), four shelves of cook books, three shelves of “classic” fiction, where the stories need to have been written at least 100 years old to qualify. In this photo are two shelves that are not really quite complete. The books on the right end of the upper shelf are fourteen of my nineteen Kipling books, more books by a single author than anyone but the Bard of Avon (and copies of the Bible, which is sort of a different category). I’m a big Kipling fan and while I don’t have all of his works, I’ve enjoyed what I do have.
At the left on the lower shelf are almost all of my Modern Library books (War and Peace is too tall for that shelf). Those include older works from Homer, Plato, and Herodotus through Roman Tacitus and up to relatively recent including another Kipling (Kim) and the poems of Robert Frost and The African Queen by C. S. Forester. To the right of that are Pinguin Classics including some Greek plays, Dante, and The Song of Roland. It’s a mishmash and as I said, it may not be the final grouping. But it’s a start.
I was a bit surprised this afternoon to see this butterfly and was happy to be able to get close enough for a pretty good photograph. It turns out that the commas overwinter as adults and they can be seen on warmer days, such as today. The name comes from a curved, comma shaped mark on the underside of their hind wings. Another species in the genus has a question mark (and therefore is called the question mark instead of a comma). It’s a pretty little thing and it really brightened up my day to come across it.
The room isn’t new, of course, but it’s been in the process of becoming my reading room for about 10 months. There were piles of boxes in it and not a lot of space until recently. There are three full and one half height bookcase on the right, five full height against the far wall, and another full and half height on the left wall (off the left side of this photo). Behind where I’m standing is another bookcase that’s the equivalent of three more full height bookcases). The sofa in the lower left, along with most of what’s on it and the wooden chairs in the lower right are all destined to go away. I may get a more comfortable small sofa or futon at some point but the three arm chairs are enough for now. The books need to be organized, of course, and there are going to be at least a few that I get rid of once I see what’s what. But it’s coming along.
We don’t know a lot about this porcelain rhinoceros. In fact, I don’t know for certain that it’s made of porcelain. It’s some sort of ceramic and it’s white, which generally implies kaolin clay and porcelain. It’s glazed mostly green and it has an interesting pattern in the glaze, possibly from the firing technique. It gives the figurine a more natural appearance, because rhinoceroses are not a uniform color (or course, they aren’t green, either, but that’s another matter). There are currently five extant species of rhinoceros, two native to Africa (the white and the black rhino) and three to Asia, the Indian, the Javan, and the Sumatran rhinos. I’m going to go with this being an Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) and guess that the figurine came from central Asia somewhere, but of course it could easily have been bought in the United States.
Recently the section of Needwood Road that crosses Lake Needwood was repaved. While they were at it, they repaired and widened the bike and pedestrian path where it crosses the lake. Unfortunately, someone in Park and Planning decided that this park was too nice to allow people to easily enjoy it, so they did away with nearly all the parking that existed previously. They put up guard rails on both sides that don’t let you get your car off the road but they did more than protect cars where the road is above th elake. I don’t want to assume malice when stupidity is to blame, but someone clearly wasn’t thinking. I parked as close to the lake as I could and walked the rest of the way this morning. The water was as still and smooth as glass and the sky was beautiful with scattered clouds. The trees have not quite reached their peak color but it won’t be more than a day or two more. Then they will quickly lose their leaves and the autumnal display will be done.
When I cut down the tree in the front yard I left a tall stump. I cut it down fairly high so I’d be sure the height of the tree wouldn’t reach the driveway. I actually cut it higher than I should have done and it would have been a lot easier if I cut it about a foot and a half lower. Nevertheless, there’s a five foot stump in the front yard. It wasn’t long before I came up with the idea of dressing it up for Halloween. So, I took a length of wood and screwed it down on the stump with my jacket on it. I added some old work gloves and a pair of jeans that should have been thrown away but were not for some reason (or more likely for no reason). On Sunday I bought a pumpkin and last night I carved it. This morning I found some red Christmas lights and put them in side, adding a hole in the back of the head for the cord.
I took a few pictures this morning but I really wanted to get pictures at dusk, so the light in the face would stand out a bit more. I brought the pumpkin back inside for the day to keep it safe. Unfortunately, I didn’t say anything about that and Cathy put it outside later this morning. When she got home a few hours later, the squirrels had found it and chewed its face pretty badly. The hat helps hide some of the damage but he looks a bit like he’s been punched in the mouth. But I’m still pretty pleased with how it turned out. I’m not a big holiday decorator, so this is a big deal for me. Of course, punkin head is a name that my dad used for my brothers and me and that I used for Dorothy, so now there’s a punkin head in the front yard.
For a while now we’ve talked about taking up the old carpets in our living room. It’s something that you can’t really do a little at a time. Well, you could but it would be a bother. That being said, I didn’t really finish today. I got most of the carpet up in the living room but the carpet under the piano and the old console TV is still there and I haven’t touched the dining room, which has the same carpet. I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of the condition of the floor but I figured it would need at least some work. What you are seeing here is the living room floor after it’s simply been swept. It really doesn’t need any work at all. We plan to put the rug from Cathy’s mom’s living room down here and that will look great, too, of course. But for now, I’m enjoying the bright, shiny wood.
Today was another day when I didn’t really get a chance to get outdoors and by the time I was home it was too dark for much photography in the yard. I looked around for things to photograph in the house and found a few things that were a bit interesting. This blue glass vase is nice. The picture is close enough to it that it’s more an abstract image than anything specific. I love deep blues and in fact I like most colors when they are really deep and rich like this. The darkening sky at dusk, the deep orange or red of a brilliant sunset, all the varied greens on a rainy day in the woods, even some peoples’ eyes. Color is all around and it’s really something to be thankful for.
I’ve managed to deal with most of the wood from the Colorado spruce tree I cut down on October 6 and that I’ve had pictures of burning on on October 19 and October 10. Today I split up the rest of the logs from the trunk, not counting the part of the trunk that’s still attached to the roots. I cut it off fairly high and I’m planning to leave that at least through the end of the month because I can decorate it as a scarecrow of some sort for Halloween. But these are the logs I split today. I had cut them fairly long and they are pretty knotty, so it was a bit of work. On the one hand, I’m sort of getting too old for that sort of thing. On the other, if I did that every day or two I’d probably feel quite a bit younger in a hurry.
I burned more wood today from the Colorado spruce that I cut down on October 6. I took pictures both when it was in full flame and ffter it had burned down a bit and was mostly embers, but still quite hot. I really love watching the movement in a fire. The movement of the air as it is heated to a shimmering temperature as well as the movement of the flames themselves and the occasional movement of the wood, as it settles. I also love watching the changing colors. The bright orange and the even brighter white of intense flame. The cool blue of the white ashes as seen under a star lit sky. Of course, like many things that are enjoyable to watch, the fleeting nature of fire adds to its appeal.
Cathy’s mom got this in the mail today. A lot of organizations send out solicitations for donations and some of them send “gifts” to entice potential donors. In this case, it was a Catholic charity of one sort or another and their “gifts” was a small, wooden crucifix. It came in a foam board with two places cut out to hold the two parts, the cross itself and the base. They obviously went to a lot of trouble to cut the foam to fit the pieces and they also seem to have gone to a fair amount of trouble in making the pieces themselves. The base, for instance, has a nice chamfer all the way around and the tenon on the end of the cross has been very carefully cut. Perhaps the two parts were made by different groups and they didn’t communicate the plans or perhaps no one happened to actually try to put them together. Whatever the case, we ended up with a very nice example of trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Now that I think about it, sometimes I feel like I’m the square peg an the world is full of round holes.
I had a dentist appointment today so I was up north of Gaithersburg this morning. After I was done there, I cut trough the woods on Game Preserve Road to Clopper Road. I stopped briefly at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church and took some photos in their graveyard, including this one of cross shaped markers seen here against the white of the church building. This is the older part of the graveyard and includes members of the Clopper family, after whom the road was named. This road, although not in West Virginia, is reputed to be the inspiration for Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert who wrote Take Me Home, Country Roads and then finished it with John Denver, who recorded it in 1971.
I released a few pounds of carbon into the atmosphere from the logs in which it had been sequestered (i.e. I burned the logs). This is part of the tree that I cut down on Saturday and I only burned one large batch today. It’s a little too warm to be having a fire but the weather is suppose to change later this week and it’s forecast to be cooler, so I’ll probably burn more over the weekend. One of my favorite things about having a fire is watching the sparks above the flames. They are, of course, very transient and you don’t get a lot of time to watch any one spark. Trying to get a picture that captures the movement as well as the transient nature is tricky because the only significant light is from the fire itself but above the fire, where the sparks are there isn’t nearly so much light. I think this one does a reasonable job and I like it well enough.
I know I posted a photo of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) recently but I sort of like this photo of a monarch sharing a coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) with an eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens), so here you are. This was taken in the same garden as the former and like that one it was in the afternoon when the shade of the building was on it, so it isn’t as well lit as I would like.
I walked around the small pond next to my building and saw lots of raccoon footprints in the fresh mud. I took some pictures of those and also of some skippers, a cabbage white (Pieris rapae) and a pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos).
I finally got around to cutting down the dead or nearly dead Colorado spruce (Picea pungens) in our front yard today. I took both before and after pictures and I may put two together into an animated sequence that switches back and forth between the before and after. For now, this is (obviously) the “after” picture. I cut the tree off fairly far up the trunk to be sure it wouldn’t reach the driveway. I could probably have cut it a bit lower and it would have been easier, but I got it down without incident. Since then (I’m writing this on Wednesday, October 11) we’ve cut and dealt with most of the branches although the standing trunk is still there and about 8 feet of felled trunk is still lying next to it. I took one van load to the dump and I’ve burned four wheel barrow loads. I still haven’t decided what I’ll plant in its place or even how much effort I’ll put into dealing with the stump and roots.
This is one of two wooden chests that were in Cathy’s mom’s house that are from the Nuristan province of Afghanistan. This is the larger and less-fine of the two. It’s old, although we don’t really know how old, and it’s fairly “weathered” or worn. This is a detail, obviously, showing some of the carving on the front of the chest. There are two squares like this on the front with a design that I think of as a sort of fleur-de-lis, although I don’t really know what it’s meant to be. The lid to the chest has no hinge and simply lifts off. There is a metal chain and hasp that can be locked.
How often do you polish your stove? Here’s what you need. I’m pretty glad that I don’t have to cook on a wood stove or in a wood fired oven. That being said, there’s something nice about a wood oven in a large, country kitchen. I’m not sure that I’d appreciate it so much if I had to polish it, though. Note that this product has a warning on the side that says, “CAUTION: This polish contains naphtha, unsafe when exposed to heat or fire.” That’s certainly a worthwhile caution. Make sure the stove is cool before using.
Here’s an interesting exercise. Can you name three words that are pronounced differently when they are capitalized as a proper noun? One, obviously, is polish/Polish, with the capitalized version being the adjective related to or the language of Poland. I know of two other such words.
As mentioned in the previous post, we went for a walk on the C&O Canal this afternoon. It was raining very lightly as we walked out from the parking lot across from Old Angler’s Inn and up to Widewater. This is a sluice used to drain the canal when necessary, about half way up the Widewater section of the canal. There is a footbridge over the section of water and you can just make out the sluice in the center of this photo. After this was taken the rain started coming down quite hard so we made our way back to the car and were quite drenched by the time we got there. But it was really lovely being outdoors and not too hot.
The American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) in our back yard is covered with purple berries. The blooms are pretty insignificant but the berries are quite striking. There are some beetles that I see on it occasionally but today there were none that I could find. I also took some pictures of the rose growing outside our front door as well as some glass fish-net floats in a bowl on the stone table, also outside our front door. Technically, this is a weed, as we didn’t plant it, but I don’t mind it where it is and it’s not terribly aggressive, so I’ll leave it to grow in peace.
Seriously, would you buy an aftershave called “Crap”? I mean, what would you expect it to smell like? I understand, it’s meant to be a reference to craps, the betting game played with a pair of dice. But really, an aftershave, which is meant to evoke a mood by way of an odor, using the name crap? I don’t think so. But apparently someone thought this was a good idea and got it all the way through the corporate process to a finished product. We found this in the back of the closet in Cathy’s parents’ house. I’m not going to comment on the fact that someone obviously bought this. I should also note that it doesn’t appear to have been used. Anyway, maybe it doesn’t smell as bad as it sounds.
Beside the hose faucet on the front of our house is a largish spider web. It’s been there for quite some time and I took a picture of this lady a few weeks ago. She was much smaller then and I might have thought it was a different spider, except Cathy’s been watching her, every time she uses the hose. Needless to say, she comes in from the other side and does her best to keep her distance. The spider, a black-and-yellow argiope (Argiope aurantia), is a good inch or more in length, not counting her legs. She’s a beauty, don’t you think?
This little green, caramic frog is sitting on our piano. I’m not sure exactly where it came from. Cathy probably knows but I haven’t bothered to ask. It probably showed up in a box at her mom’s house sometime in the last nine months. I don’t remember when it appeared on the piano, but there it is. As you may be able to see, it’s front left leg has been broken. It doesn’t affect the frogs ability to hop, though. That’s mostly because ceramic frogs don’t move very much, I suppose.
We’ve been putting a lot of time into getting this house ready to sell. The first step, which didn’t actually affect this house, was getting out house ready for Cathy’s mom to move in with us. Then we she moved in January (with a lot of help from our friends). From them to now there have been many, many days of going through and sorting, trips to the dump, to the thrift store, to our storage units, things brought to our house, two more truck rentals, piano movers, visits from family members, some dot insignificant renovations, lots of cleaning, floor refinishing, painting, yard work, and more. I’ve posted pictures of some of those things (see the list below) but I’ve also posted pictures of some of the many interesting things we’ve found (too many to list below). This week, the house officially went on the market and (as I write this, was open on both Saturday and Sunday, with significant interest). We’re in the home stretch (if you’ll pardon the pun) and really looking forward to turning our attention to the boxes that got moved without really being looked through as well as starting to deal with things like photographs and other documents that need more careful examination.
- Laundry to Bathroom Conversion, Day One – Tuesday, October 31, 2017
- Bathroom Progress, Day 4 – Sunday, November 05, 2017
- Bathroom Progress, Day 7 – Thursday, November 09, 2017
- Bathroom Progress – Friday, November 17, 2017
- Bathroom Progress, Day 19 – Tuesday, November 28, 2017
- Grandma’s Bedroom – Tuesday, December 05, 2017
- Bathroom Progress, Day 28 – Monday, December 11, 2017
- Move, Part 1 – Saturday, January 06, 2018
- Self Storage – Wednesday, May 16, 2018
- Top. Men. – Monday, June 18, 2018
- Furniture Moving – Tuesday, July 24, 2018
- A Little More Furniture – Saturday, September 01, 2018
I posted a photo of a purdah screen back in 2015 (see Friday, November 20, 2015) but thought I’d share a detail of another one today. This is a fancier screen than was shown then and one of two that we have in our living room with the same pattern. These two are not in as good condition as the one shown in the photo from 2015, but I really love the patina of the old wood and the puzzle-like intricacy of the pieces making up the central design. As noted with the older photograph, the outer rails and stiles of these tessellated screens are held together with mortise and tenon joints but they are held together without any other fasteners or glue.
In general, old stuff like this isn’t really worth keeping. We’ve thrown away old tins and boxes and bottles of stuff that are either unidentifiable or dried out or gone bad. But sometimes the packaging is just classic. After a very quick searched I found that Huberd’s Shoe Grease is still available and the cans are only slightly different to this one, which probably dates to the 1960s. The new cans say “Original” at the top and have the URL for their web site (http://www.huberds.com). Also, new cans come in 1 pound (454 gram) and 7.5 ounce (213 gram) sizes, compared to this old one, which only has 7 ounces. From their web site:
A. E. Huberd founded his shoe grease company in McMinnville Oregon in 1921. In his workshop, A. E. concocted a beeswax and pine-tar formula that he introduced to logging camps and sold to lumberjacks. The lumbermen throughout the region helped Mr. Huberd improve his formula, build his customer base, and establish a thriving manufacturing company. Huberd’s products are made much the same way today.
We rented a truck today for the third time this year. The first time was on Saturday, January 6, when we moved Margaret from her house to ours. That was mostly her bedroom furniture and boxes of the things she’ll need here at our house. The second was on Tuesday, July 24 to move a bunch more furniture that we will either keep ourselves or get rid of more carefully (i.e. sell rather than give away). Today we moved furniture that was to be given away. We filled a 16-foot truck pretty full and took it to A Wider Circle (http://awidercircle.org/). They took most of what we brought, leaving us with just a few of the things to dispose of (when furniture isn’t good enough for charity, it’s time for the dump). There’s still more at the house, of course. Mostly things that will go directly to the transfer station, either metal (shelves, a dryer, a refrigerator, etc.) or trash (particle board cupboards that don’t last and aren’t really worth anything).
We really should plant more of this. The pink flowers in the foreground are Cleome ‘Señorita Rosalita’ and they really are lovely. They also bloom pretty much continuously all summer and well into the fall. We have just a few plants growing in a container on the back patio. They are pretty much overwhelmed by the yellow of the black-eyed Susans that are all around. I think if we had a larger container or two filled with Cleome, it would be pretty nice. I should make a point of buying a few packets of next year and getting them started early.
We live in a throw away society. In some respects, that’s a sad thing. In general, the quality of some products is pretty low and their useful lifespan is pretty short. People aren’t going to be taking their grandparents’ Ikea furniture to Antiques Roadshow to be appraised by the Keno brothers of the future. On the other hand, this also speaks of unprecedented relative wealth, created by a free market system. Competition has improved quality and reduced cost so much that if a glass breaks, we don’t think twice about throwing it away and getting a new one. That hasn’t always been the case. This glass was broken over 50 years ago when Cathy’s family lived in Kabul, Afghanistan. Rather than throw it away, it was repaired. The pieces of glass had small holes drilled in them, the pieces were glued back together, and metal staples were glued into the holes to add the needed strength to hold the pieces together. Pretty remarkable and something of a glimpse into a different world.
I’ve posted pictures of this eagle lectern twice before, once on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 and then again on Thursday, January 04, 2018. The first of those is quite similar to this picture, I’m afraid, but it was long enough ago that I’m doubtful that many who are following me now will remember. The other, a picture of the body of the eagle, is more recent. I also took a few pictures of what we assume was an award that was given to my great uncle Ralph. At least it has a brass plaque on the front with his name on it. It doesn’t say what it was for and it may have been some sort of retirement memento. We also are not sure what it is. It appears to be an electronic tuning fork, but we don’t really know. I’ve been meaning to fiddle around with it and see what I can make it do. But as a photograph, it just wasn’t interesting enough so you get a repeat of the wooden eagle talons.
This evening I was sitting in the living room and notices the reflection of our curtains in the corner cabinet. I don’t know how old the cabinet is but the glass in the doors is not very flat. The reflections were showing a fair amount of distortion and I decided to see if I could capture it in a photograph. Reflections are sometimes tricky, especially when you add flash into the equation, which I did on this occasion. The flash needs to aim both at the reflective surface, to give a little light to the wood around the glass, and to the object being reflected, so it shows up in the picture. I think this one balances them pretty well. Another issue is focus, because you have to decide to focus on the reflected image, which in this case was more than twice the distance from the camera to the glass. In this case, I got the wood of the corner cabinet in sharp focus and the curtains are a little soft. Since they are so distorted, I don’t think that matters too much. There are a few yellow spots at the top of the curtains and it took me a moment to figure out where they were coming from. Those are specular reflections off of the brass curtain rings.
I drove out to BWI Airport this morning to pick up Margaret, who returned today from Chicago. I had a little time after I parked so I walked to the international terminal at the end of the building. I’m not sure why but the area was practically deserted. I took a few pictures of this model of The China Clipper (NC14716). The original was built for Pan American Airways by the Glenn L. Martin Company in Baltimore, Maryland. Per Wikipedia, “In 1961, the Martin Company merged with American-Marietta Corporation, a large sand and gravel mining company, forming Martin Marietta Corporation. In 1995, Martin Marietta merged with aerospace giant Lockheed to form the Lockheed Martin Corporation.” The China Clipper flew the first commercial transpacific airmail service from San Francisco to Manila in 1935. It was lost in a crash on January 8, 1945 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
In 1966, Cathy’s family lived in Bangkok, Thailand. In December of that year the fifth Asian Games, also known as V Asiad, were held there. While going through things from her mom’s house, we found a fan of woven and dried palm leaves, dyed green and pink, with a sticker commemorating the games. The sticker says, “Fifth Asian Games, Ever Onward, Bangkok 1966” surrounding a red sun (the official logo of the games) and with twenty interlocking yellow circles. Interestingly, the logo displayed on the Wikipedia page for the even only has eleven circles and they are blue but all the commemorative coins I’ve found photos of have twenty. Not sure what the deal is with that.
We also have a few t-shirts, souvenirs from both the 1966 games and from the sixth Asian Games, held in 1970, also in Bangkok, Thailand. According to Wikipedia, Éc;Originally Seoul, South Korea was selected to host the 6th Games but it declined due to both financial reasons and security threats from neighboring North Korea but eventually the city finally hosted in 1986. Previous host Thailand stepped in to save the Asiad. A total number of 2,400 athletes, coming from 18 countries, competed in this Asiad.”
One interesting thing about this fan is the mistake in the weaving. Can you spot it? Once you see it, you cannot not see it, I’m afraid.
In the process of going through things at mom’s, I spent some time looking through a bunch of rock. I’m not sure what it is about rocks and our family, but it seems we all have a rock collection of some description. Mom also had some rocks and minerals that had been her fathers, including this large calcite crystal. A large section of the crystal is opaque but the left side as shown here is mostly transparent. Calcite crystals have an interesting optical property called birefringence, that is, they have a double refraction, causing two images of any items viewed through the crystal. As you can see here, the word Library (on a Modern Library copy of The Aeneid) is duplicated when viewed through the crystal.
I didn’t have any pictures today so I looked around for something to photograph. I have this little, yellow, model car that has been one of two sports cars I’ve owned over the years. I’m not saying that these are models of cars that I’ve actually owned. It’s the models that I’ve owned. The other is an old Jaguar XJ-S that was originally silver but I very carefully repainted a deep, lustrous green. This car, also British, could use a coat of paint. Somehow this is more in keeping with our current fleet, however. Our newest car is 13 years old, our middle car can vote, and our oldest can drink. They have a combined mileage of over 650 thousand miles. That’s not counting the miles on this little baby.
The Book of the Black Bass, by James A. Henshall, M.D., was first published in 1881. The Preface to the 1881 edition includes begins as follows:
This book owes its origin to a long-cherished desire on the part of the author, to give to the Black Bass its proper place among game fishes, and to create among anglers, and the public generally, an interest in a fish that has never been so fully appreciated as its merits deserve, because of the want of suitable tackle for its capture, on the one hand, and a lack of information regarding its habits and economic value on the other.
Cathy came across this 1904 edition in her parents’ basement and we decided to keep it, as much for its lovely cover as for it’s fascinating contents. Although this is the 1904 edition, it’s actually from the eighth printing, in 1915. It details, of course, the largemouth and smallmouth bass, Micropterus Salmoides and Micropterus dolomieu, respectively. According to Britanica, there are “about six species” in the genus while Wikipedia claims 14 recognized species. Regardless, it’s the largemouth bass that I’m most familiar with, having them in our pond in Pennsylvania. I’ve only caught smallmouth bass when traveling, most notably in the lakes of east central Ontario.
At the top of our driveway Cathy had a few potted plants. Well, I say a few but there are quite a lot, really. It’s actually a nice garden and since we aren’t going to be putting our car in the garage in any case, it doesn’t really matter that it’s blocking them out. On occasion I’ve had to move a few plants just to get something large in or out but generally there’s enough of a path for that. In addition to the plants there are a few “ornaments” of one kind or another. I don’t recall where this horseshoe came from, or the iron spikes, for that matter. I particularly like their color when they are wet from the rain.