I happened to notice the color coming in the front windows this morning so I grabbed my camera and went out front to get a few pictures. There’s not a good, unobstructed view to the east without walking a little ways and since it was only aboutg 25°F (-4°C) and I was barefoot, I wasn’t going to go too far or stay out too long. I did walk onto the lawn, which has been wet and which is now nicely frozen. That’s somehow colder than the ramp or the pavement of the driveway. It was certainly worth going out for, especially seeing as how I was up. The color only lasted about ten minutes and it was gone. Another ephemeral sunrise.
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.
The other day I posted a picture of dad’s jon boat on the roof of my van. These are the hooks of some fishing lures, also my dads. When mom and I were cleaning out the garage I came across dad’s old fishing vest. The mice or squirrels had gotten to it first and much of it was shredded. There were some lures in the pockets, though, and a few weights. I took them before putting the remains of the vest into the garbage. This evening I was looking at them and remembering fishing with my dad. I didn’t really have the patience for fishing that he had but I think I’ve gained some over the years. The thought of sitting by a lake or river or sitting in a boat with nothing going on except the occasional cast and even more occasional bite sounds really good now.
There have been many loads of things taken from my mom’s house over the last couple months. Most of them went by minivan, either hers or mine, with the exception of her actual move, when things went in a moving truck. There are two things that can’t be fit into our vans, however. One of them is a small, utility trailer. I plan to put the tiller on that so although that’s two items, it will be moved as a unit. I hope to tackle that in a week or so. The other item is this Sears, aluminum jon boat. I don’t remember when dad bought it but it’s been at least 50 years, probably closer to 55. It’s a bit battered and the wooden transom is rotting out. But it’s sea worthy (or at least pond worthy) and I wouldn’t mind taking it out for a weekend and just fishing for a while. for me, the part of fishing from a boat that I don’t like is being out in the sun, so maybe I’ll wait for an overcast day. That or cooler weather, anyway. I haven’t fished in years and I think it’s time I did. I also have a few of dad’s rods, reels, and various other accoutrements. All I need is a license and a day off. Soon. Very soon. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, that’s not my real license plate number.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went for a drive this afternoon, going to a pond near Sunset Beach where we’ve seen alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). There was one close to the shore and I got a few pictures of it along with some water turtles. Then we drove back onto the island and to the east end, where I got some nice pictures of this great egret (Ardea alba) wading in the tidal marsh and finding fish in the shallows. We also walked on the beach at that end of the island and enjoyed the wind and the deeply colored, wine dark sea.
We moved a bunch of furniture today. After work, Cathy and I picked up a rental truck and she followed me to her mom’s house. A half dozen guys came and helped load two china cabinets, a dining room table and chairs, various chests and other furniture into the truck. As we were on our way to the house it poured rain but by the time we were loading the truck it was mostly finished, which was good because most of the furniture was wood. Once we had it all loaded we all drove to our house and the same guys helped unload it and get it set up here. We’re replacing our current dining room table and chairs with the one we brought over and we’ve put two china cabinets in our dining room. The one shown here is the larger of the two, a fairly heavy piece that just fit in the height of the room. These two cabinets along with a glass front cabinet that we have been using (the so-called Uncle Ralph cabinet), there’s probably too much furniture in the room now, but we’ll deal with that when we have the time. I was really grateful for the help we received this evening and it was good to see folks, as well.
I think I mentioned before that my great grandfather was a miner in Nevada in the late 19th century. He mined two forms of copper ore, green malachite and blue azurite, copper carbonates with formulas Cu2CO3(OH)2 and Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2 respectively. For some reason, our family collects rocks. These were gathered on the mountain where my great grandfather lived and where my grandfather and his two siblings were born and raised. We have recently thrown away a lot of rocks that were in my mom’s basement but we kept a few that were particularly nice. Cathy put some in this bowl and they are outside our front door, where the bowl has filled with rain water, which I think makes it especially nice.
We had a pretty busy day again today. We went out to Eastern Point Lighthouse and walked out onto the jetty to Dog Bar Lighthouse. There were cormorants diving in the water next to the jetty and we enjoyed watching them, as well as gulls and ducks. From there we went to Rockport and when we came upon a parking spot we took it and walked a while. I took pictures of Motif #1 and thought about posting a photo of that but decided to go with this somewhat abstract photo of reflections taken a short walk from our airbnb as the sun was setting.
I didn’t have anything in particular to take a picture of today and didn’t get outside much, so I took this picture in our dining room. We’ve been moving things from both my mom’s house and Cathy’s mom’s house and adding things to what we already had. The photo in the center of this is a Winter & Pond photo titled “Lights o’ Juneau” On the left, the blue bowl filled with Easter Eggs is from Istalif, Iran. There are two sets of matryoshka or nesting dolls, one traditional (in the back and on the right) and one modern with (from largest to smallest) Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Leonid Brezhnev, Joseph Stalin, and Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (otherwise know as Lenin).
About the time I got to work this morning I got a text from one person and an email from another asking if I had anything to do with the appearance of this little garden statue next to our parking lot. The text message was particularly cryptic, although I suppose if I had been responsible, I’d have known what it was about. As it happens, I had nothing to do with it. Later in the day, two other people asked me if I put it there. I think it’s a little funny that so many people think this is the sort of thing I’d do. Maybe it is, but not this time. One said, “well, okay, I’ll believe you, but I know you’re responsible for the geckos.” I have no idea what that’s about and didn’t even know about the wire geckos that someone has put in trees around the parking lot. But apparently I have a reputation, mostly undeserved.
Among the things brought out of Cathy’s mom’s house were a box of Edison Phonograph cylinder records. There was also a record player. David took that but couldn’t get these into the car, so they will stay here until next time. The two cases shown here are slightly different from one another. On the left is one that says Edison Gold Moulded Record and on the right, simply Edison Record. I would normally assume that the Gold Moulded one is newer than the plainer one, but the dates on them (which are 1906 and 1908 respectively) don’t support that. The disks inside almost certainly don’t match the sleeves. The disks in them, which may or may not be those originally in these sleeves, are Rock of Ages, by the Edison Dixie Quartet and Kitty O’Neill Medley of Reels (violin).
This little baboon is named Coco and he was made by Steiff. This is not to be confused with Koko, a current Steiff product. Koko with two Ks is a chimpanzee. Coco with two Cs is a baboon. This little fellow is a little the worse for wear, as he put up with quite a lot of play in his day. As you can see, he is vision impaired, with his left eye completely missing and his left literally hanging by a thread. His hand are also worn through in places. But he’s such a cute little fellow and I remember him well from the good old days.
You can easily collect a lot of things if you live in the same place for 50 years. If you also inherit things from your parents as well, it can really add up. Then, if you have enough space to store it all, its easy to leave it alone. But, as they say, nothing that cannot go on forever will. At some point, there is a reckoning. That day has arrived (that week, or month, or six-month, or year, actually). David and Maggie are here and David has been doing yeoman’s work on the store room in his parents’ house, pulling out bins, trunks, and barrels that have not seen the light of day for many a year. The contents of some were in good condition while others had been infiltrated by visitors and mostly or wholly destroyed.
The title of this post alludes to the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I was across campus to have lunch with a few people today and then went for a short walk in the woods next to my office. I took some pictures of tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) leaves and then crossed the creek and went up to the more open part of the property. There were some areas that were still quite wet from the recent rains we’ve had. The ground around here is predominately heavy clay and water doesn’t percolate very quickly into it, particularly once it is waterlogged. This is a drainage catch basin and later in the summer it will likely be completely dry. For now, though, it’s a haven for birds and dragonflies and a small oasis in an otherwise built-up (although suburban) area.
The evening primroses (Oenothera speciosa) are in bloom and they are quite lovely. They have spread through the garden but I wouldn’t call them an aggressive species, we don’t mind. We can easily pull them up if they show up where they aren’t wanted and generally, our garden isn’t so well organized that it matters. They are native to the southern half of the contiguous United States. They make a nice addition to any garden, blooming in the evening, their airy, pink blossoms particularly lovely in the dusk.
My great grandfather was a member of the Loyal Order of Moose, a fraternal order founded in 1888 and still in existence to this day. It’s not really my cup of tea but he was a politician and public figure and I suspect being a member of this sort of thing was a career move for him. This medal is from the 36th Annual Moose Convention, apparently held in New York from July 27 to 31, 1924, based on what it says on the medal itself. He died in 1925 so it’s likely this was the last big Moose event he attended. We have another medal that says “Past Dictator” on the top and on the back says he was in that position from 1913 to 1915, at Lodge Number 259 in Salt Lake City. He was not, to the best of our knowledge, a Mormon. In any case, his daughter married my grandfather (and coincidentally is my grandmother). I have some other memorabilia from my great grandfather (Albert) and perhaps I’ll share some of that in the future on a day like today when I didn’t get out to take any pictures.
The Asiatic lilies are in bloom around the yard. This one is in a container on the back patio but there are a bunch in the front garden, as well. We worry about them being eaten by rabbits or deer but this time of year, fortunately, there is a lot for them to eat and that means less chance of them finding these. We have a lot of rabbits this year. I’ve seen as many as four at once in our front or back yard. The seem to mostly be eating clover, though, and we have plenty of that to go around.
As mentioned in Saturday’s post (the Emergency and Trauma photo), mom was in the hospital for a few days. She was sent home on Monday evening and after doing a little shopping, I made dinner (shrimp and grits and if I say so myself, it was really good). Then, sitting in the living room, I enjoyed the light shining through two stained glass pieces, one flat hanging (shown here) and a reproduction of a Tiffany lamp with dragonflies.
I love the color of pretty much anything with sunlight shining through it. Stained glass is sort of a natural and I’m a big fan. I also like leaves and flowers backlit by sunlight. They are quite difficult to capture on “film”, partly because of the huge dynamic range required. The brightness of sunlight is just too much for film or digital sensor. If you adjust so that it isn’t washed out, then the shadows go too dark. Nevertheless, it’s worth trying and once in a while I get something worth using.
As you may know, we’re going though things at Cathy’s mom’s house. There have been many “treasures” found and one of Cathy’s favorites was a box filled with little glass animals. They belonged to her dad and she had never seen them before. Presumably they were packed up when the family moved to Afghanistan long before Cathy was born. They must have stayed packed up when they returned and so they were a real surprise. Happily they were all in really good shape, that box never got crushed by other boxes, or anything. This little duck is one of them. I may post more pictures in the future, if I have a day when it’s getting late and I haven’t taken any photos yet.
I’m posting this six days late because it’s been that sort of week. This morning I helped someone move and then the day got a bit crazy. We took mom to the hospital and spent most of the day in the ER, waiting to find out what would happen. In the end they admitted her and (I can say now because it’s six days later) she stayed there until late Monday afternoon. At about 11:00 I realized that if I didn’t take any pictures at the hospital, I wouldn’t get any pictures today. That’s always a bit awkward, because who wants their picture taken at the hospital. I took a few of things in the ER room but then, when I was leaving, at five minutes before midnight, I took a few out front, including this one. I think Emergency and Trauma would be good names for a pair of dogs.
I’m not really going to reflect on self-storage but this picture is reflections and it was taken at the self-storage facility where we have a unit. I was in a meeting across campus today and when I was walking back to my building there was lightning flashing and booms of thunder all around. Most of them were about two miles away but nearing quickly. When I got to the door of my building there was a flash followed almost immediately by the thunder and before I was upstairs in my office, it was coming down in sheets. By the time I left work it had stopped raining but, as you can see in this picture, the water was still draining from the pavement outside our storage unit.
Back when I was very young my parents papered the wall on one side of the stair well in their house with covers from “The Reporter” magazine. It’s a very tricky thing to photograph because the stair well is pretty narrow and the wall covers a lot of space. From the top of the stairs I was able to get a few pictures that sort of do it justice. At least if you’ve seen it in person, perhaps this will remind you of it. There’s one cover that shows up four places. We’re pretty sure there is another duplicate but we couldn’t remember where and couldn’t find it. It’s faded considerably in over 55 years, especially towards the top where the afternoon sun shines on it. But it’s held up pretty well, all things considered.
As I think I’ve mentioned, we’re going through my mother-in-law’s house and trying to get things out so we can get it ready to go on the market. We’ve gotten rid of things and we’ve brought a lot to our house (possibly too much for the short term) to go through a little more carefully. We’ve also decided that there are things that will take too long if we deal with them now so we’ve rented a storage unit for things we know we’re going to need to go through and which are going to take a while. The largest collection in this class are pictures. If you knew my father-in-law, you may have some inkling of how many pictures there are. Let’s just say, there are more than a few slide carousels. And that’s just the start. Anyway, this is the hall at the storage facility.
We’ve been working on emptying out Cathy’s mom’s house and it’s a reasonably big job. They bought the house fifty years ago, so there are naturally a few things scattered about. The four ground floor bedrooms are mostly done (it’s a rambler but with a large basement). A few weeks ago we moved on to working on things in the basement. Between Cathy, our friend Julia, and me, we’ve made some good progress. Last night, two of Cathy’s nieces came and today they helped us make even more. Maggie and Laura are fun, of course, but this was no pleasure cruise. There were boxes to carry and papers to go through. And go through them we did. It was quite warm today, reaching nearly 90°F. Fortunately we were working mostly in the carport and there was a little breeze, so we weren’t too uncomfortable.
Cathy decided that her old doll house had served its purpose and it was time that it be recycled. It’s made entirely of cardboard, so that works out well. She wanted one last picture of it before it went into the van, though.
We had dinner at mom’s this evening. My cousin Becky and her boyfriend were there, as well, having come up for Jason’s wedding on Saturday. I took a bunch of pictures in the yard. The camellias are finishing up and the azaleas are just starting. I also took some pictures of Kai. But the picture for today is this quilt that my mom just made. It’s a pretty elaborate thing, with each segment on each wing being a separate piece of fabric. I also think the fabric she chose for the background is terrific, really showing off the dragonflies to good effect.
This was, apparently, half of a pair of bookend vases, produced by Pukeberg, probably in the middle of the 20th century. Pukeberg was founded in 1871. In the 1930s, Pukeberg began producing decorative glass. We don’t really know a lot about it beyond that. We found a pair listed on eBay for $89, so they aren’t terribly valuable. I wanted to show off the various colors of the glass. In everyday room light it is basically amber colored. But I’ve shone a light through the glass and you can see reds at the bottom and greens towards the top. I think a more complicated light set up would do better but this was done with a flashlight sitting behind it and a flash bounced off the ceiling.
I stopped at the Avery Road parking lot above Lake Frank on the way home today. It was a beautiful, cool afternoon with—as you can see—billowy white clouds. This was taken with the sun at my back, looking northeast over the lake. I took a few the other direction, as well. This would be a good spot for sunset pictures, although it’s not somewhere you can just drive up to. It’s a few minutes walk down from the parking area. Still, if I am on my way home and there’s a good sunset coming on, it might be worth a try to get here in time. Of course, sunsets around the time I’m coming home are mostly a winter thing.
It rained quite hard over night and into this morning. When I got to work, the drainage pond next to my building was full to the overflow. It was a busy day, though, and I wasn’t able to get out and take any pictures. On the way home I stopped and walked a little by Rock Creek. It wasn’t as high as it would have been this morning but still quite swollen. Also, this is just downstream from Lakes Needwood and Frank, which act as a flow limiter to the stream below them. The stream, seen hear over a fallen tree, is usually about three feet lower than this, though, so it’s still quite high (for a little stream).
The is the other of my unknown daffodil varieties. Like the one pictured three days ago, these bulbs were given to me by a friend and I didn’t make note of the variety name. They were planted in the fall of 2006 and are doing quite well. This particular variety, unfortunately, has a bad habit of not always opening. Also, when they do, as they mostly did this year, if it rains the flowers are too heavy for the stalks and they all droop. But when they are open and upright, they are quite nice. I was happy we got to enjoy them at their best this year.
These shoes are called pizors. Searching for pictures online, I found them spelled paizar, and since this is a transliteration, it’s not surprising that there would be some variation. In any case, I haven’t found any pictures online of any as nice as these. They are from Afghanistan in the 1950s, bought by Cathy’s parents in Kabul. As you can see, they are quite sturdy looking, made of very stiff leather and with nails in the soles so they are pretty tough. They happen to be way too small for my extra wide feet and I’m not sure they would be all that comfortable in any case. The flash used when taking this picture shows the sewn decoration quite well.
Going through more things from Cathy’s mom’s house, Cathy came across a bunch of old stickers illustrating various nursery rhymes. They were printed on foil, making them bright and shiny (and a little more difficult to photograph). Some of them had words printed on them, which made it that much easier to identify the associated rhyme. There was Jack and Jill, Little Jack Horner, and Jack be Nimble, among others (hmm, just notice those are all about Jacks). This one, though, I don’t recognize. It looks like it’s raining under this poor lad’s umbrella. He and his dog don’t seem particularly pleased. Do you know what rhyme this comes from? I’d love to know.
Snow in March isn’t that unusual here. Of course, if you listen to the radio this week you might not get that impression. I heard a report that breathlessly told us how long its been since we had a snow like this was forecast to be this late in the year. Well, that’s possible, I suppose. A couple problems. Most importantly, the actual snowfall didn’t live up to the hype. We got maybe four inches of very wet snow. I remember a snowfall on March 18 not that long ago that was two or three times worse. But it’s March 21, which is, as I’m sure you can figure out, later in the year than March 18. Not by a lot, though. Anyway, as usual, much ado about not much. Quite pretty, actually.
After church today, Dorothy and her friends went downtown to visit another friend who is working on Capital Hill this semester and who also has a part time job at a book show near Eastern Market. They visited some other friends on the way home. I fixed a surf and turf for dinner—flank steak and salmon—and then started a fire going in our fire pit. Most of the kids stayed inside but Dorothy came out and chatted with me for a white. I had my camera and took quite a few pictures of the fire as we talked. I like the pale blue, plasma-like flames in this picture.
This set of ten matryoshka dolls is another find from my mother-in-law’s house. Matryoshka dolls were first made in the late 19th century. This set is different in both shape and painted design from any set i’ve seen (although to be honest, I haven’t seen a huge number). Typically, except when depicting actually individuals, the outermost doll is female.
This set of ten nesting dolls range in size from about four inchest for the largest, outermost figure to about five-sixteenths of an inch for the smallest.
As we’ve been going through things at Cathy’s parents’ house, there has been, as there would in any house lived in for 50 years, an accumulation of things that don’t need to be kept. Some of them are just trash that got mixed in with other things. Some are things that were once important but the importance has worn off or the timeliness has passed. There are, of course, things of value, either sentimental value or intrinsic monetary value. And, of course, there are curiosities. David found two little slide mount size holders with sets of miniature US coins. Shown here with a regular quarter and penny for scale are (clockwise from center top), Kennedy half dollar, Jefferson nickel, Roosevelt dime, Eisenhower dollar, Lincoln penny, and Washington quarter.
The other day I posted a photo of a small souvenir from Republic, Michigan, where some of Cathy’s ancestors lived and at least one was involved in iron mining before moving to Alaska to mine gold. Well, my family has a little mining history, as well. My great grandfather came from England with his parents and at least some of his siblings. They lived in Canada for a while and he was in the military there during the United States Civil War. In the early 1970s he moved to Nevada where he mined for copper and silver. This is a piece of copper ore including both blue azurite (Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2) and green malachite (Cu2CO3(OH)2). It’s a small piece found in the area he lived and worked and I think it’s sort of pretty. This piece is wet, which contributes to its shininess.
I have an old balance that I’ve used through the years for two different things. Back in the days of film, I used to measure out chemicals for the darkroom on it. I also used it for measuring ingredients for ceramic glazes in my pottery days (or daze). I haven’t used it in a while but you never know. Along with the balance, I have a set of weights in various sizes. These range from 500 grams for the largest down to 2 grams for the little one in front. There are a few weights missing from the set, including the smallest (1 gram) weight. Because the balance has a built in rail, however, I can pretty much fill the gaps, weighing anything up to about 850 grams with a pretty high degree of accuracy.
Cathy’s great grandfather (Grant) was born in eastern Pennsylvania during the Civil War. He grew up in the coal mining regions of Pennsylvania before moving to Republic, Michigan late in the 19th century. He and his wife and children lived there and he was employed in the iron mines. Shortly before the turn of the century, Grant left Michigan for Alaska, where he worked at the Alaska Mexican Mine in Treadwell. This was his third mining phase, having mined coal in Pennsylvania, iron in Michigan, and now gold in Alaska. This small pitcher is a souvenir from Republic, Michigan and was given to Cathy by her aunt.
It’s Valentine’s Day today and you know what that means. Well, for us, it’s not something we spend a lot of effort on, in general. I bought us some new ice packs to celebrate and to sooth our aching selves. How’s that for romance? I made three heart shaped burgers for dinner this evening, along with fries and a chopped salad (which was put on the plate after this photo was taken. Margaret put cherry tomato halves on her burger and I added them to my salad. But this picture shows the heart shaped burger better then those taken after they were more fully condimentised (as it were). They turned out rather well, I thought.
It started raining yesterday morning and it’s been raining fairly steadily since. The forecast has that continuing another 24 hours or so before it clears up. It is, however, unseasonably warm. It was cool this morning but later in the day, even with the rain, it was up around 60°F (16°C). The cool morning, however, meant some beautiful fog. I love a foggy morning (or day, night, or evening, for that matter). I especially love being in the woods when it’s foggy. This morning, as usual for a Sunday, I was at church setting up and running the sound system. Nevertheless, I took a short break while the musicians were practicing to walk around outside and take a few pictures.
Cathy has a roll-top desk that we got from some friends who where ready to get rid of it. Along the top of the roll-top, which is never closed, there is a little ledge where the top doesn’t go all the way into the carcass. She has a few little things sitting on that ledge including a line of dice of various sizes and side-counts. In the middle is this line of little bird statues. I don’t rightly know where she got them (I suppose I could have asked) but there they are. They are quite colorful—as you can see—and they stand about an inch tall. This green on is one of my favorites, along with the dark blue peacock colored bird in the center of the photo.
I stopped briefly at Rockville Cemetery on the way home. It isn’t on my normal route home but it isn’t all that far out of my way, either. I had to run to the bank after work, so that put it more or less convenient. The sun was setting through the trees to the west and I got a few pictures of the grave stones lit by the nearly horizontal rays. Then I turned at the upper part of the cemetery and took this one looking into the sun. Actually, it’s an HDR photo, make from three images and then mostly desaturated to produce the nearly monochrome image.
I took some pictures in the basement today. Not surprisingly, where there are lots of things to photograph, few of them are really all that interesting. Recently I’ve gotten a few new (used, thanks, Iris) bookcases and I’ve been able to get books that have been doubled up on shelves or that have been stacked on their sides into those shelves. They are not, for the most part, in any order. There are seven shelves of science fiction, which are alphabetized by author. Most of my Kipling collection (18 books) is on one shelf (there are a few large books that are on another shelf). I’ve started the process of bringing the technical reference books together. Here we have, from left to right:
- My dad’s copy of Elenents of the Differential and Integral Calculus (Revised Edition) by Granville, Smith, and Longley
- My grandfather’s copy of Handbook of Mathematical Tables and Formulas, by Burington
- Two editions (the 9th and 31st) of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
- Another Handbook of Chemistry (Eighth Edition), by Lange
- The Merck Manual, (Fourteenth Edition)
- Ribonucleases: Structures and Functions, Edited by D’ Alessio and Riordan. Dad wrote chapter two of this book, titled “Barnase and Barstar”
- Methods in Enzymology, Volume 341, Ribonucleases, Part A, edited by Nicholson. Dad wrote chapter 38 in this book, on Barnase—Barstar Interaction
I went over to the Rio today to have a cup of coffee with a friend. It’s often good to have an excuse to get away from the office for a little while and doing it with a good friend is even better. We chatted about this and that and then headed back to our respective work. As I was going back, I noticed the reflections in the Sodexo building. I turned around and parked the car along Washingtonian Blvd and then walked down the side of the building. This is a reflection of the BroadSoft building (and a tree).
Cathy and I were in a local medical office building today and I, you’ll be surprised to learn, had my camera with me. I didn’t take pictures in the actual doctor’s office but in the lobby of the building was some art. The wall opposite the entrance was covered with these lined, glass panels, lit from behind. So, when it was time to leave, I took a few moments to get my camera out and take a few pictures. I don’t really have a lot to add. It is what it is. I wouldn’t call it high art, but decorative art seems appropriate. If nothing else it did add some color and interest to an otherwise nondescript office lobby.
I was looking around for something to photograph today and took a few pictures of this carpet in Margaret’s room. It’s not a huge carpet but it’s certainly quite pretty. I love the colors and the fineness of the weave. We have a few carpets but that includes a few imitation Persians. When we got married, Karabet gave us some cash as a wedding present and we bought two relatively inexpensive carpets. They aren’t nearly as nice as this one, but then again, he gave us the gift out of his relatively modest means. We still have them and I still think of him when I consider them. That’s often where value lies (but I’m not saying it lies like a rug).
It was another productive Saturday, getting a few things crossed off the top of my to do list. It was also, if you will, the opposite of productive (i.e. destructive). We burned another three boxes of “shred” papers. It doesn’t save a lot of time over shredding and in fact, if we took them to someone with an industrial shredder, it would much faster. Nevertheless, burning is relaxing. There’s something about flames. I won’t say they’re cool, but if I did, you’d probably know what I meant. The boxes today had, among other things, canceled checks from 1979. I think it’s safe to get rid of those now.
Our Community Group (our church’s small groups) met this evening at Kofi and Danielle’s apartment building. It’s a newish building and a lot more swanky than anywhere we’ve lived. I’m not complaining, mind you. We’re pretty happy where we are. All of the apartments we’ve lived in had doors off of (mostly open) stair wells. The first place we lived, which was in Chevy Chase, had an enclosed stair but the others had open stairs. That’s not counting the Quonset Hut we lived in when we first moved to Juneau. After that we moved to an apartment that opened off a balcony across the bridge on Douglas Island. That and the apartment we moved into back in Maryland after our around-the-world trip in ’88 were both on the third floor of three story buildings.
Anyway, we met in one of the common rooms in the apartment building because there were about fifteen of us, which would have been a crowd in their one bedroom apartment. In addition to this stone sculpture on a table, there was a gas fire burning in a long, low fireplace. Needless to say, however, the real warmth came from the people we were with.
Outside my office, between the parking lot and the woods, there are a half dozen wooden picnic tables, stacked one on top of the other. They are chained together, presumably to keep any of them from wondering off (as it were). The chain is a little the worse for being out in the weather all the time. I didn’t really test it of course, and for all I know it’s still strong enough to stand up to average abuse. Nevertheless, it looks a bit weakened and a strong piece of iron inserted between the sides of a link and twisted might snap the chain quite easily.
You can’t really call them corks when they aren’t made of cork. Note that box on the right, which says “Corks” on it actually contains real corks, made from the bark of the cork oak (which should be called Quercus corkus but is actually Quercus suber). These brown stoppers are made of gum rubber and are good for all sorts of stoppering needs. These are in a drawer in a small cabinet that has a fairly wide variety of things in it. As you can see, a few of them have holes cut through them. Dad used them in his home lab and I’ve found a few uses for them myself, over the years.
We’ve got a bunch of boxes in the garage marked shred—old bills, checkbooks, business correspondence, that sort of thing—and we’ve been meaning to get rid of them for a while. There used to be an outfit that allowed individuals to drop off boxes of papers to be shredded for free (making their money from businesses) but they are no longer doing that. Well, what’s better than shredding? Burning. This little fellow didn’t suffer as he was consumed by the flames. Four boxes done. Six or eight more to go.
It’s funny how a phrase can call up vivid memories in much the same was certain sounds and even more smells can bring you to a place you haven’t been in a long time. When I was growing up, we’d visit my grandparents in North Carolina a few times a year. It was something I always looked forward to eagerly. Their house was familiar and yet unfamiliar enough to be just a little exciting. It was an old house with lots of character and quirks. There was also a huge shed out back full of all sorts of treasures. One thing I can’t say I always looked forward to was going to church. It certainly wasn’t the fault of the particular church and had much more to do with my age, my inability to sit still for very long, and my general lack of interest. Nevertheless, I actually remember a few lines from a sermon given there, probably in the early 1970s. The phrase that sticks in my mind was “Don’t Look Back” and the sermon was on Luke 9:63, “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’” I thought of that as I took this picture in my rear view mirror while stopped at a traffic light on the way home today.
For more than two years now I’vebeen meeting regularly with a group of (mostly) young men. For over a year we met most weeks. Starting last summer we switched to every other week and during the holidays it was hard to organize. Three of us finally got together this evening for dinner. Mellow Mushroom sounds a bit sixty’s but the food is honestly pretty good. The decor is very much comic book colors and it makes for a good picture. There were not a lot of patrons there this evening, but a Tuesday in the winter isn’t likely to be busy in general.
I went across campus for a meeting today and on the way back, I walked around the building once to take a few pictures. I came across this black walnut that has been pushed down into a crack in the pavement. I think it’s really kind of pretty. In case you aren’t sure, the pavement is wet. Our weather has definitely warmed up (it was over 60°F today) but it’s very wet out. Tomorrow the rain is supposed to be gone but the temperatures are supposed to drop back to freezing and then colder into next week.
It was a mostly grey day today. It’s still cool but it’s supposed to warm up for a few days. It’s also supposed to rain, so we’ll finally have temperatures above 60°F but wet. On the way home, I was sitting at the light and the large American flag at the Ourisman Rockmont Chevrolet car lot was blowing in the wind. The wind was coming out of the southeast, which is a little unusual so it was blowing farther behind the trees. Usually it’s blowing to the right, out from the trees.
Now that Cathy’s mom has moved in with us, we needed to integrate her computer into our home network. The small office just inside our front door (and now just outside her bedroom) is where my computer has been for over a year and where Cathy’s has been since the construction started towards the end of October. Now Margaret’s computer is here, as well. By the time I’m writing this, on January 14), the table is gone from the middle of the room and it’s much easier to walk around. My computer and the printer is to my right, along with a tall bookcase. We need to put a few pictures up on the walls, but it’s coming together.
Note the juxtaposition of this pack of tissues with the humorous message and the somewhat creepy heart with a little doll’s head on it. This was intentional, of course. Cathy came across these two things at her mom’s house recently and decided they needed to go together. So, they are in our powder room. I don’t know that it’s true, of course. I think the number of people who both know us and think we’re a nice, normal family is vanishingly small. But who wants to be normal, anyway?
Today was phase one of “The Move”. We’ve been so long getting to this point that it was a little anticlimactic. Well, maybe. It was still a big day. It went very smoothly, though, largely due to the overwhelming support of those who came and carried and organized and directed. I really didn’t do a lot other than drive the truck, which is about at my pay grade. This was only part one of the actual moving process and really only one phase of many. Nevertheless, thank you to everyone who came out to help on this cool January day.
Back on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 I posted a photo titled “Lectern Eagle’s Talons” which was a portion of a wooden lectern carved in the shape of an eagle. This is the head of the eagle, which unfortunately has a chipped beak. There is also a large crack across the breast of the bird, but that adds character more than anything. Otherwise, it’s in pretty good shape. There was, at one time, a brass plaque (I’m assuming brass) which probably said who paid for the lectern or something of that sort. There really needs to be a small set of steps behind this, so you can get up high enough to read from it, as the whole things is well over six feel tall.
It’s finally become what I would call cold. When it gets down into the single digits (Fahrenheit) I’m liable to wear a sweater. So, I wore a light one for my commute. I left it on for the walk across campus to a meeting. A lot of folks are complaining about the temperature in my office building but for me, it was too warm to leave my sweater on. The car windows were all frosted this morning and a few times while stopped at traffic lights, I took pictures of the frost on the passenger side window.
We’ve been going through boxes recently, throwing away old papers, etc. and Cathy came across a small box full of random, foreign coins. We started sorting them and by the time we were done, we had envelopes marked with more than 40 country names from Afghanistan to Venezuela. Most of the coins are from the 1960s but there were a few older coins, like the one with George the Sixth. The coin on the left with an eagle under a sunrise is a 2 Afghani coin from 1961 (۱۳٤۰, 1340 in the Solar Hejira calendar). I see Pakistan, France, Brazil, Vietnam, Peru, West Germany and Great Britain, as well as a 2 Euro coin at the top edge of the photo (the bi-colored coin).
We had a light snowfall overnight. The forecast is for clear or mostly clear skies for a while so we aren’t likely to get more but the forecast is also for relatively cool temperatures for the next week or so, probably below 20°F for the duration and getting well down into the single digits. I’ll probably need to wear a sweater one or two days this week. These footprints are on the back step, just outside our kitchen door. We have a birdbath with a heater in it that keeps the water from freezing, so birds are never in short supply this time of year, particularly when it gets to cold.
Cathy was going through some boxes of small objects this evening and among other things, she found a bunch of super balls. I’ve always loved super balls and they are a real fixture of my childhood. What I didn’t know is that I was among the first generation to enjoy these highly bouncy balls. On August 25, 1965, Norman Stingley filed a patent for what he called a “Highly Resilient Polybutadiene Ball” (patent number 3,241,834, issued March 22, 1966). The Super Ball® was sold by Wham-O® and was an instant success. I know my brothers and I got many hours of enjoyment from them. They are made of a synthetic rubber called Zectron® that is primarily polybutadiene molded under high pressure and heat. All I knew as a kid was they really could bounce.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Home Depot this evening after dinner. We went to pick out a couple colors of paint for the living room. In case you don’t know our living room, three walls are white and the fourth, the end opposite the entrance, is painted a somewhat ugly green. The crown and base molding and the molding around the entrances and windows matches that wall. Likewise, the curtains are a similar green with large box valances at the top. The plan is to pain the one non-white wall some new color and also to paint he molding a different color. We decided on a blue color for the wall and a fairly bright white for the trim. That, plus replacing the curtains should transform the room. This photo, which looks a little like chairs in a stadium, are color sample cards.
We went over to Cathy’s mom’s house this afternoon and set up her Peruvian Creche in her living room. If you look closely (and you don’t need to look that hard) you might notice some less traditional visitors to the manger this year. That’s completely appropriate if not historically accurate. All are welcomed to come to Jesus, young and old from every language, nation, and race. Animals, too, came to adore him. If they hadn’t, the stones themselves would have cried out.
We’ve been going through a lot of things, both at our house and at Cathy’s mom’s. In the process, we’ve found a few things worth keeping amidst a fair amount of things to be thrown or given away. Cathy came across two dolls and they have been sitting on a chair in our dining room for a few weeks. This one seems to have some sort of problem in her left eye, a cataract, perhaps. We may need to take her to see a specialist.
There was a potential for an amazing sunset this evening. As it turned out, it was pretty good but not necessarily spectacular. I sat on the back stoop and watched the clouds moving quickly out of the west. As the sun sank below the horizon, there were streaks of color and a little bit more lighting up the underside of the clouds but not as much as we might have had. Are you getting tired of sunsets? I hope not. I’ve certainly enjoyed seeing them.
As seen on my post for Wednesday, November 22, 2017, I replaced the headlights in my Dodge Grand Caravan. The new headlight assemblies came with new bulbs but I kept the old set, mostly because I thought I’d take some pictures of them at some point. Well, we’re reached that point. The glass bulb around the filaments in these two are slightly different and the precise configuration of the internal connections is a little different, but they are basically the same (which makes sense because they were in the same vehicle). I think they’re kind of cool. The two coils are not as close together as they appear in this photo. The coil on the left in each bulb is slightly behind the one on the right.
I mentioned the other day that Cathy has been looking at topographic maps of the area and that Avery Road used continue as far as Baltimore Road. When Norbeck Road was put in, the section from there to what is now the Croydon Creek Nature Center was abandoned. The last quarter mile or so north of Norbeck was realigned so that they would meet at more or less 90 degrees. Today, Cathy and I walked from the Croydon Creek Nature Center down the hill to Croydon Creek and then back up on the old road bed as far as Norbeck Road. It was a beautiful day. We had been to three stores and it was really nice to get away from the crowds for a little bit. It’s a pretty, little park and worth a visit if you want to get away briefly.
The renovations going on at home are nearly complete. It would be a bit of exaggeration to say they have been the worst thing we’ve ever been through. Nevertheless, they have been somewhat stressful. Most of the rest of the house has a thick layer of dust and of course we still haven’t found new homes for everything that had to be moved out. It’s worth it, of course, but that doesn’t entirely eliminate the negative aspects. But, as Cathy said by picking this Gloria Gaynor song on the jukebox at the Silver Diner, I Will Survive.
Nine days ago (see Tuesday, December 05, 2017) I posted a picture titled Grandma’s Bedroom. That showed our former family room full of tools, building supplies, and a bit of waste. The room has changed pretty drastically since then, mostly in the last few days. When I got home on Tuesday the room was empty and the carpet was gone (well, it was in small rolls on at the top of the driveway. Today, the floor was refinished. I have to say, it looks pretty nice. Certainly better than the old carpet. It’s closed up now, so that the top coat can dry. And of course the house smells pretty bad. But that will fade, eventually.
The bathroom is very nearly done. In this picture you can see the sink and toilet, which went in on Friday, as well as the mirror and vanity light fixture, which went in today along with the fold-down grab-bar between the toilet and the sink. You can see the hole in the door for the knob in the lower right. That and the knobs in the other doors will go in tomorrow. There is some painting to do in the kitchen, hall, and new bathroom. The shower curtain rod is on order and should be here next week. The curtain should come tomorrow. Once I have the rod and it’s up, the bathroom itself will be done. On Thursday the floor crew should be here to put new hardwood in the hall and to refinish that and the old hardwood in the bedroom (formerly the family room). Also on Thursday the ramp to the front door should be done. We are very close. Of course, the entire house needs to be dusted pretty badly. No point in doing that before the work is finished, though.
We had the first snowfall of the winter today and it was quite nice. We got at least two inches although it never really amounted to anything on pavement, which was warm enough to melt all of it. That includes driveways and sidewalks as well as roads, so driving was not a problem. That’s just as well because I had to go get a few things for the bathroom and Cathy went to a bridal shower for a friend. The snow was pretty on bushes and trees and this arborvitae (Thuja) looked really nice with fluffy white snow held in its branches.
I took pictures of some of the Christmas lights in our neighborhood this evening. Pictures of lights at night is a bit tricky, trying to balance the blackness of night with the very bright points of light, which tend to turn white unless you are careful. Then, the in between parts, that should have some light, tend to get a bit too dark. I’m reasonably happy with the way this one turned out. Just so there is no confusion, this is not our house and these are not our lights. We’ve been a bit overwhelmed with everything else that’s going on and Christmas decorations are a bit beyond us right now.
I’ve posted a few pictures of the progress that’s being made on the new bathroom and I’ll put up another one soon, but tonight I thought I’d post a picture of grandma’s new bedroom, formerly our family room. Well, lately it’s been neither. It’s been the storage and work room for out builder, and in this picture you can see tools, two doors leaning up against the shelves, the hardwood flooring for the new hall, and even the bathroom sink faucet in the upper left. Later this week lights will be installed in the ceiling of this room and next week the carpet should come up and the floor refinished (along with the new floor in the hall).
Counting only work day’s, of course, and with some delays in terms of getting the inspections, we’re up to day 19. As you can see, the tile walls for the shower are up. The strip of red showing at the bottom is a rubber sealant that covers the entire sub-floor. That will be tiles over with 18 inch squares of a similar color to the walls. The shower floor will have the 2 inch tiles you can see in this picture (but those are not fastened down at this point, just sitting there and ready to go pretty soon. The two bottom rows of tile on the shower walls will go in after the floor (because they rest on the floor tiles. Anyway, it’s coming along.
According to Wikipedia, in 1893 brothers John (Jack) and Augustus (Gus) Mack bought Fallesen & Berry, the carriage and wagon company where John worked. In 1900 the first truck to bear the Mack name was produced, the Mack Bus. In 1922 the company name was changed to Mack Trucks, Inc. and the bulldog became the company’s corporate symbol. Since 2000, the company has been a subsidiary of Volvo. My grandfather picked up this bulldog hood ornament at some point and then my mom had it. I’m not really sure what the attraction is but it’s in our house now. So, I thought I’d take its portrait for today’s picture.
The headlights on our minivan have been a bit cloudy since we got it, many years and even more miles ago. It had about 115 thousand miles on it then and it’s up to 257 thousand now. The headlights are not terribly effective and on dark stretches of road, where there is no other traffic, they really were not adequate to let you see the road ahead. I’ve been meaning for a while to do something about it. I ordered a pair of lights and installed them today. As you can see, the lenses in these are much clearer than the old pair, sitting on the ground in front of the van. I’ve driven with them and they are a big improvement. Now that I know I can do it, I’ll buy another pair (they were $68 for two, with free delivery) for the van that Dorothy drives.
Each headlight is held in by one screw and three nuts that tighten onto bolts on the back of the lights. The screw is quite easy to get to but at least one of the nuts on each light was a little hard to reach (but not the same one on each). They all have 10mm heads but my 10mm wrench is fairly short (overall length 5.5 inches / 140mm), making it less useful than it might have been (but still my best bet in the tight space. I may get a long handled wrench before I do this on Dorothy’s car, although having done it once, I’m more confident I can do it again.
We finally got the plumbing and electrical inspections needed so that the walls can now be closed up. I had a meeting this morning with Marc, our general contractor, David, who is doing most of the actual work, and Andy, our occupational therapist. We discussed and agreed on locations for grab bars, etc., so proper backing could be installed before the walls are closed. Needless to say, these things have to be done in the right order. Much of the progress over the last week and a half has been in the basement and in the walls. We now expect progress to be much more visible as the walls are closed and the tile is installed.
In the continuing story of this year’s Operation Christmas Child boxes, here’s a picture of Cathy amongst her six or seven (I mean twelve) boxes. They are mostly packed and ready to be closed up and delivered. She has a few more things to distribute to the boxes. Cathy is also signed up for two evenings working at the collection center in Jessup, processing boxes for shipment.
Hopefully Dorothy’s room will be back in order before she arrives next week on her Thanksgiving break.
Towards the end of summer Cathy does much of her Operation Christmas Child shopping. The back-to-school sales are a good time for it. I asked her then how many boxes she planned to do this year. She said six but quickly corrected herself, saying, “well, probably seven.” I think she honestly believed that’s how many she was going to make. That was a fiction, however. Her six or seven has quickly turned into twelve. Every year she ends up making more than she planned but this year she really went a bit overboard. She does like Operation Christmas Child. This picture is just a small section of the staging for packing boxes, which has taken over Dorothy’s room for the time being.
I met the guys in Rockville Town Square this evening, getting there a little early so I’d have time to take some pictures before they got there. The ice skating rink had been set up and though we’re well into November, there have only been a handful of days that were actually seasonably cold. They can still make ice, of course, and I planned to watched a few people skate for a little while. Just as I got ready to take a picture of two, they cleared the ice to run the Zamboni, so I got a picture of that, instead. I don’t know if this is actually a Zamboni. Apparently there are two other companies that make ice refreshing equipment, but that’s the name that everyone recognizes. Like Kleenex, Band-Aid, and Jacuzzi, Zamboni is a registered trademark but it has become so associated with the product category, it is used in the vernacular for the product.
Today is work day 8 but this picture was taken in the morning before any work had been done today, so it reflects 7 days of work on the laundry room to bathroom conversion. As you can see, the plumbing is pretty much all done in the wall. The electrician came today and removed the 220 volt outlet that was used by the electric drier we had when we moved in (our current drier is gas). That’s right in the middle of this photograph. Another thing to notice in this picture is the joist that would have been directly under the drain in the shower pan. That required a little reworking of the supporting structure. The two joists on either side were doubled up and cross pieces put in to hold the end of the central joist, which had to be cut. The shower pan went in today, as well.
I’m reasonably happy with my commute. On a good day it’s under 15 minutes and it’s pretty rare that it takes as long as 25 minutes. On the other hand, it isn’t the most picturesque commute you’re going to find. There’s are a few bits that are nice, though, including a stretch of woods on both sides of Rock Creek. In my homeward bound commute, that’s also the most likely stretch to have a back up. Today, I stopped part way along that stretch and was able to take a few pictures of the woods before we started moving again. The woods are quite lovely right now and I don’t mind a short stop if I have that to look at. Pretty soon it will be a lot less interesting, so enjoy it while you can.
The difference between the beginning of day one and the end of the same day were more obvious than the difference between the end of day one and the end of day four. Of course, day four was Friday and it is now Sunday but of course the bathroom is in the same state today as it was at the end of the day on Friday. In the top of the picture you can see a black box in the ceiling. That’s the new exhaust fan. There are also two recessed light fixtures above what will be the shower. Another not so obvious change is the air duct that used to open in the floor in the far right and which now comes up in the wall in the foreground on the right.
The place where there was a door to outside is closed in, as it was on the first day. You cannot see it in this photo, of course, but the siding is up on the outside of that and if you didn’t know a door had been there, you might not be able to tell. There are a few signs left, but they are minor and will be taken care of in due course.
I picked out floor and wall tile yesterday and bought one of each so the builder could measure the thicknesses and get the transition from floor to shower nice and smooth. He needs that calculation before he can install the shower pan. Also, the plumber is supposed to come tomorrow and we should be able to do laundry again, which will be nice.
As some of you know, we have been planning a little construction project for a while now. Initially the thought was that we would renovate one of the two bathrooms upstairs, making it more accessible. This is all towards having Cathy’s mom come live with us. Renovating an upstairs bathroom, which is all we thought of for a while, also entailed putting in something to help her get up and down the stairs. Currently she can do stairs but it’s not easy and it’s going to get less easy as time goes by. We had an occupational therapist out to consult and while he was there, the thought occurred to make a totally new bathroom in our existing laundry room. Once that idea was aired, it was clear that it was the right thing to do.
By putting a full bathroom on the ground floor and converting our family room into a bedroom, we eliminate the need for a stair-climbing chair. Of course, the conversion of the laundry room to a bathroom has some costs associated with it, but those costs are going to be reflected in our property value. An accessible bathroom is a valuable asset, after all. Also, there are some tax credits for this sort of home improvement. After a bit of planning and consultation with out contractor (http://mafortierandcompany.com/) we got the building permits and today, the work began. I’ll post updates from time to time, as the project progresses.
Note that the “before” picture was taken after we moved a lot of things out of the laundry room. There were two shelves on the wall above the washing machine and there was a big bin of bird seed under the sink, for Solomon. But it’s “before” in the sense that the construction hadn’t started yet.
My great grandfather Robert was born in Cumbria in England in 1837. He immigrated along with his parents and at least some siblings to a town on the Canada bank of the St. Lawrence River and served in the Canadian Army during the American Civil War. It was here that he met his future wife, Matilda (whose family we think might have been loyalists who moved across the river during the American Revolutionary War). In 1872 Robert traveled by ship to Panama, crossing the isthmus on horse back. From the west coast of Panama he took another ship to San Francisco. Finally, he traveled inland to Nevada, where he began mining copper, silver, and lead ore. He wrote to Matilda, who joined him there after the railway was completed and they were married circa 1882. Robert and Matilda had three children, Ada, Robert, and Ralph. We have visited what remains of the town in Nevada a few times and on a trip there in 1974 I found this unbroken wine bottle. It’s doubtful that there is any direct connection between the bottle and my ancestors but it reminds me of the place, and that’s important to me.
After church today Cathy and I went out to Edward’s Ferry and then to White’s Ferry. It was a beautiful day and we walked a little on what’s left of the tow path near Edward’s Ferry. On the way back towards Poolesville we stopped for a few pictures at the Warren Historic Site. The site consists of three old buildings, the Martinsburg Negro School, built in 1886 and serving grades 1 through 5, the Warren United Methodist Church which, built in 1903, and the Loving Charity Lodge Hall, built in 1914. I’m not actually sure which building is which (except the church) but I’m guessing this is the oldest of the three. (UPDATE: Cathy saw a video that talked about this place, as well as others, and this building is the Lodge, not the school.)
Back in the day (like the mid 1980s) Cathy and I came across a cartoon by Ed Koren that struck a chord with us. It’s a picture of two people, husband and wife, apparently, greeting a woman walking a dog. The husband and wife are wearing typical business clothes except they are both wearing outlandish hats. His has big ears and horns, hers is huge with fruit all over it. The man in speaking and says, “We try to set aside a little time for silliness.”
Those of you who know us very well know that we have taken that to heart and we, like the couple in the cartoon, set aside a little time for silliness. This picture is Cathy being just a little silly. When I got home from work she was out in the back garden pulling weeds. I asked if I could take her picture and this is what she did.
This is Cathy’s Isadora Duncan pose.
Ed Koren’s web site is here: http://www.edwardkoren.com/.
It was getting late in the day when I realized I hadn’t taken any pictures. Days like this are sort of a write-off, in terms of this one-picture-a-day thing, but if I actually were to skip a day, I’d have to say “I’ve taken at least one picture a day for almost seven years, except a few when I didn’t.” It’s so much easier to be able to leave off that second part so I take pictures of things around the house. Today that meant some plastic utensils in the dining room. I also took pictures of some knobs and of a decorative glass vase, but this is what I decided to share with you. Maybe I’ll repeat the knob pictures and use that the next time I’m in a bind and running out of day.
On Thursday evening I joined a pretty large crew of people setting up the Bethesda Quilters semi-annual quilt show. In the process, of course, I got to see most of the quilts as we were hanging and labeling them. Today I went simply to enjoy the quilts and visit with the quilters (including my mom, of course). This one was made by Jane (I don’t use last names on the blog, but if you’re interested I can let you know. It’s one of the larger quilts in this year’s show and I really love the bright colors. In fact, all three of the large quilts hung on the outside walls (because they are too large for the quilt stands) were wonderful. There was a lot of very impressive work and it’s always interesting to see what people come up with.
Every two years the Bethesda Quilters has a quilt show. It’s running tomorrow and Saturday (October 13 and 14) from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Holy Redeemer Church School gym at 9705 Summit Avenue, at the corner of Summit and Saul Road. This evening we put up the frames to hold the quilts and hung them. Others were setting up tables to sell some things. If you have a minute and are in the area I recommend you drop in for a visit. If you do, you’ll see an amazing array of quilts and wall hangings, including this beautiful one that my mom made this summer. I think it’s one of her best yet.
Mom’s been quilting for quite a few years now and in addition to those she made for specific people she had a pretty good pile of them at home. Over the summer she brought them all out, over 60 of them, and had us take what we wanted. Dorothy took one that she has been wrapping herself up in ever since (we keep our house cool enough that a quilt won’t go amiss even in the summer). When Dorothy left for school, I pulled out another that’s always available if you are visiting and feeling chilled.
I love fractals and fractaly patterns. Nevertheless, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this picture. On the one hand, it’s sort of like a coastline with it’s inlets and estuaries while at the same time being made up of various sized pieces, just the way sand or small rocks on the side of a pool, stream, or beach can form what looks like a larger shoreline. On the other hand, this one is made of blobs of fat, in this case pork fat, with the ocean being made from the gelatinous ‘liquids’ from the same roast. After cooking a 10 pound shoulder roast, I put the meat on a plate too cool rest before carving. When I was done, what was not eaten right away (which was the bulk of the roast, after all, there are only two of us here right now) these juices and fat were left on the plate overnight. I know it’s a little gross but it’s also a little interesting. I’ll just leave it at that.
I needed to cut a 4×8 sheet of plywood into 7 pieces today and as usual i did it on the back patio. It’s relatively flat and it’s a lot less work than getting such a large board into the basement. I took a kitchen towel to wipe rhe sweat off my face and when I was done, it was left for a while on a table in the sun. After I had put everything else away, I noticed that this grasshopper had found the towel and was, I assume, eating the salt from my sweat. It stayed quite a while, slowly moving over the exposed cloth. With the camera resting on the table I was able to get some nice close-up pictures of the grasshopper.
It was a busy day, picking up Cathy’s mom, coming back to our house and then going to dinner before taking her home again. When we were back at her house I took pictures of a few things in an old post office desk in the kitchen. This is a desk with an array of square cubbies used for sorting mail. It is currently used to house curios, one or two per cubbie. I’ve been meaning to photograph this pipe for a while now and today I got around to it. Grandma doesn’t actually smoke anything, much less using an Amazonian clay pipe. We aren’t actually 100% sure where this came from but we all assume it was from Cathy’s grandma, who lived in Lima, Peru for over 20 years and that it was made in the Peruvian Amazon region. That’s an educated guess but still just a guess.
I met the guys for dinner at Matchbox this evening and was a little early. It was raining quite hard as I drove there and I sat in the car a little while waiting for it to let up before heading in. The store lights across the street were lighting up the water splashing on and flowing down the windscreen of my car and I enjoyed watching the patterns it made. I have no idea, at this point, what the signs say and you certainly can’t tell from the picture, although at the time I remember wondering if I’d be able to read them in the pictures. By the time we were done with dinner the rain had basically stopped and I took a few pictures of the gas fire in the pit outside the restaurant entrance. But fire pictures are easier to come by. It doesn’t often rain as hard as it did this evening.
Cathy, Dorothy, Jonathan, and I went to the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair this afternoon. I got a moderate thrill being a VIP of sorts, with my four free passes, won last year in a photo contest. That saved us $52 ($12 per person plus $10 for parking). We enjoyed the food and wondering around the barns, especially the rabbits and chickens. We made it up to the craft and photo buildings and looked at the produce and flowers that had been entered this year. I love the intense colors of the fruits and vegetables in this basket. Note that they may all look like vegetables to you, as that’s how most of these items are used, but technically, these are all fruits except the beets and onions.
It continues to be quite busy at work but today was something of a turning point in the project I’m working on. I made a lot of progress and it’s starting to come together. There is still plenty more to do, but I’m a little less panicked now. At about 4:30 I decided to take a short break and go outside to take a few pictures. I got a few that I think are nice but as I was heading back to my office it started to sprinkle a little. There is a drainage pond near the sidewalk, just through the trees, and I made my way to it and took this picture of the raindrops softly landing on the surface of the pond.
At one point today I needed to get out of the office. It was a lovely if somewhat warm day and I went to the empty lot next to my building. The western part of that is mostly woods now, having been empty for about 25 years. The eastern part is much more open and covered with a waist-deep herbaceous perennial of some sort (I really should look it up). Anyway, I took some pictures of this fleabane. I don’t know for sure what it is but my guess is annual fleabane (Erigeron annuus).
We went to a presentation by a woman named Ariane from an organization that does work with some of the very poorest people in two areas in Afghanistan. Their work includes education, recreation, providing meals, and vocational training including such skills as sewing and baking. They are teaching sign language to deaf children, as well as ordinary school subjects. Cathy’s mom organized the event and had a combination of Afghan and French themed refreshments at the back of the room. She also brought in a few of her Afghan dolls and had them on display. On the tag attached to this one it says,
This is the national dress of the women of Afghanistan. The bodice is embroidered in many colors and sometimes includes colored stones, bangles, or small mirrors, depending on the area from which it comes. This costume has never been covered by the chadri.
Today is Mother’s Day. For many people that means buying cut flowers and taking their wife or mother out to lunch. For us it means a trip to the garden center. This is our third trip in two weeks and we now have enough plants to keep us busy for a little while. Mostly we buy annuals that Cathy will put into containers, including some at her mother’s house. On the two previous trips I bought a shrub each time but I didn’t get anything for myself this time (it’s Mother’s Day, after all). But I did bring my camera and while Cathy made up her mind what to buy, I took pictures.
They had quite a few Fuchsias in hanging baskets. Most of them were this variety, called ‘Dark Eyes’. There was another that had a white part instead of the purple here. I prefer this one over that. There were also a lot of really lovely gazanias and dahlias, which are always quite impressive. They have a few trees and one, a Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonica) was in full, glorious bloom. That’s a tree I should consider for our yard. Very lovely.
Back in 2009, we were in the suburbs of Boston for Steve and Maya’s wedding. After the wedding we moved to a B&B in Jamaica Plain and one day mom, Ralph, Tsai-Hong, and I went to the two art museums on either side of where mom went to grad school. The first of those was the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and I had the pleasure of taking Cathy and Dorothy there this afternoon. It’s quite a place and really worth a visit, if you have the time. The building has a covered courtyard in the center, shown here, and the galleries are around that on each of the first three floors. If you are interested, there are room guides on the museum’s web site.
I’ve driven past the Washington Street side of the Rockville courthouse a hundred times but never noticed this sculpture before. I’m usually just turning onto Washington Street from Jefferson and then paying attention to oncoming traffic because I’m usually turning left again. Because this is on the right, I am generally looking the other way. For some reason I noticed it this evening, though. I parked and went over to get a closer look. Apparently it is titled “Spirit of Freedom” and was created in 1992 by Muriel Castanis.
It’s high daffodil season and the big boys are out, shining in the morning sun. Unfortunately this one was taken in the afternoon, so it’s not in full sun in the picture, but still pretty nice. These were planted the fall we moved into the house and so they’ve been blooming for ten years now. What was individual tufts of daffodils has become a single, large clump and has spread a bit, as well. They are not actually the most reliable bloomers. If the spring is too wet they won’t all open properly but this year has been quite good for them and they’re looking mighty fine.
It was a beautiful day again today. Very spring-like. Cathy and I went for a walk early in the afternoon, simply walking around my building a few times. I took my camera with me, as I usually do on such outings, but only took a few pictures. This is the surface of the stream that flows between my building and the rest of the campus, below the small pond that was built a few years back. The plants are starting to show buds and a few things even have early leaves out but for the most part, it’s still late winter as far as the plants are concerned. There are some daffodils and a few crocuses blooming closer to the building.
We were up in Baltimore this afternoon and as we were leaving, driving south on Broadway towards Fells Point, I took this picture while stopped at a traffic light. It’s a good thing this sign is illustrated, because at first I thought it was a crossing of many years, a venerable, old pedestrian crossing. The illustration, of course changes the sense of the phrase “senior crossing” to something very different, a crossing for seniors.
I’ve seen a lot of ‘crossing’ signs in my day, ranging from deer to armadillo and tractor to horse cart. I’ve seen signs for deaf child and even slow children (now that I think about it, “Slow Children” may be another where an illustration could change the meaning). This is the first Senior Crossing sign I’ve seen and I like the addition of the cane. I also like the way this senior’s head is floating above his shoulders. Like they do.
It was a lovely day and Cathy and I went for a walk at the Montgomery County Agricultural Farm Park today. They have a garden that we often like to visit but it’s a bit early in the year for that to be of much interest. We walked around in the woods an near the former sites of the three Newman houses. There are some old farm machines lining a part of the road where we walked including this disk harrow and a chain harrow that looked like a giant version of one of those puzzles where you are supposed to separate two twisted pieces of metal.
I picked up a prescription this afternoon on the way home. It’s one I’ve taken for a long while and I have to admit I don’t read everything on the bottle every time. After all, it doesn’t change much and I know how I react to it (which is not very much except for what it’s meant to do). I couldn’t swear that this notice has been on previous bottles, although I assume so. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to become pregnant, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
Cathy and I went up to Baltimore to see Ralph and Tsai-Hong this afternoon and it was such a beautiful day that we took a walk around the block where Johns Hopkins Hospital sits. It’s a largish block and including a bit of wandering in an urban garden and into the front of the hospital itself, we walked almost a mile. On the left in this picture is the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building, the cancer center. The curved, glass-front building at the right is the Bloomberg Children’s Center. You can just see the top corner of the main hospital building, the Sheikh Zayed Tower, above the right hand corner of the Weinberg building.
When I got up this morning I didn’t realize at first that it had snowed overnight. I glanced out the kitchen door but didn’t see it at first. A little later I saw that there was something white scattered on parts of the patio table and it was only on closer inspection that I realized that it was snow. I decided I should document our winter weather, even if it was only a light dusting. The snow seems to have formed clumps or pellets and they were evenly scattered over the lawn (but not enough that it didn’t still look green at a glance). Where oak leaves were lying in the garden, the pellets of snow gathered into larger amounts, and that’s what you see here. So, winter, we’re still waiting.
Sometimes I think if I had twins I’d name them Emergency and Trauma. Maybe not. But if I had two dogs I could probably get away with it. I’m not sure what nicknames I’d come up with for them, though. I suppose Emergency could be shortened to Em. May Uma for the other one. But all seriousness aside, Cathy and I were here for a little while with Cathy’s mom. She’s fine and is home again. She probably didn’t even need to go, but better safe than sorry, we always say (always, some people find it a little annoying). As I was leaving I stopped to take a few pictures of the outside of the hospital. It isn’t the most inviting place in the world, but then, when you need it, you’re glad to have it. And this is a good one.
I think bubbles are cool. Of course some are more cool than others (to paraphrase George Orwell). These are fairly simple soap bubbles in a backing dish that’s been soaking to loosen the grease that was baked on it from a 10 pound pork shoulder roast. We’re all familiar with the rainbow colors sometimes seen in larger soap bubbles. None of that here. I recently saw a video of a soap bubble slowly freezing, and that was very cool (in every sense of the word). But these are nice in an understated way.
We were at Upper Rock Circle again this evening and I took some more pictures of the decor in one of the public rooms of the building. This is a meeting room with a kitchen area and these lights are above the bar that has the stove top and also serves as an eating area.
It’s been quite warm the last couple days, with high temperatures above 70°F yesterday and today. The forecast is for snow tomorrow, and then colder weather for a little while, so perhaps we’ll have some winter for a change. I don’t mind a balmy day in midwinter but 70°F is overdoing it.
In 1978 (or thereabouts), when I was in college, my dad bought this computer. It was made by Ohio Scientific and is a Superboard II, a.k.a., model 600 single-board computer. It came by default with 4k of RAM but dad knew that he’d need more than that so he doubled it to 8k. He initially built a power supply for it but the power wasn’t clean enough so he bought one. The computer was connected to a small black-and-white television set and a portable cassette player for program and data storage. I actually did more BASIC programming on this machine than on any subsequent computer I’ve owned, moving on to Pascal in 1984 when I bought my own NEC computer. Although this was the family’s first computer, Ralph had one sooner. I believe he bought it with a friend at school and it was a more powerful thing, using an Intel 8008 processor, if I remember correctly.
This isn’t technically a chandelier, because the formal definition includes branching structure to hold multiple lights. The word chandelier comes through the French from the Latin candelabrum or candle holder. Of course we apply it to those that hold electric lights but this only has a single light, as far as I can tell. Still, it’s a pretty, hanging light fixture and the term is fluid enough that it might encompass it. We were at a place on Upper Rock Circle this evening and this is in their lobby above a simple but effective fountain.
We were over at Cathy’s mom’s Saturday a week ago and then Cathy was there with our dear friend Julia again twice last week. It was mostly going through boxes of papers and separating those that needed to be shredded and those that could simply be recycled. We also went through some books, although there are a lot more to look at. We only pulled out a few to bring home. One was this copy of Glinda of Oz, by L. Frank Baum. It is the fourteenth book in the Land of Oz series and was published on July 10, 1920.
A week or two ago I got a call from Ben, our pastor, asking if by any chance I had an oldish phone, preferably one with a rotary dial. I’m not sure why he called me in particular. He wasn’t even sure why he called me. It’s true that we’re in the upper quintile or ages at church and younger people were less likely to have such a thing. And of course I do have a rotary dial phone.
This isn’t the exact phone I grew up with but it’s exactly like two phones we had in our house when I was in high school, when I started using the phone regularly. There was a white version of this same phone in the kitchen and a black one, just like this, in the basement. We also had a regular table-top version, also rotary dial, in the hall. The one in the basement is still there.
The challenge for this photograph was to get the dial in motion. I used the flash to freeze it but also a long exposure so that it’s a bit blurred. It was 1/3 second at f/3.5 with the camera on a delay timer so I could press the shutter and then dial the phone and get my hand out of the way just in time.
I managed to get out of the office for a little while early this afternoon. It’s been a really busy month and of course January often isn’t the best month for walks in the woods. But today was nice and mild, the rain has stopped, and I took a break from work to spend a little time outdoors. I took a bunch of pictures of moving water. I really enjoy the lines of water in a stream or river, especially where the water meets partially submerged rocks. It’s a simple thing and easily found but in my eyes, it’s one of the beauties of nature. Sure, Yosemite and the Tetons are awesome, to say nothing of the Himalayas or the Rift Valley in Africa, but beauty can be found in a stream in an unused building lot, right next door.
Two weeks ago, on January 3rd, I posted a picture of St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard. This evening it was a little foggy and I thought I’d stop there again to try to get a better picture. This time I also had my tripod, which made it considerably easier and gave me a lot more options in terms of camera location (I wasn’t limited to using the fence as a support). As it turned out, the fog was less of a factor than I thought and it barely shows up in this picture, beyond the overall haze in the sky. Still, I’m reasonably pleased with how it turned out. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be back when it’s foggier to try again.
I may have mentioned that I’m quite busy at work. That is still going on and I really don’t mind the business so much as the changes on changes that undo previous changes. That can be a little tedious, but it’s a living, I guess. I’m also not so busy that I couldn’t go to lunch with a few co-workers and my retired, former boss. We try to get together ever few months and I really look forward to those days. There were only four of us this time and we went to &Pizza in Downtown Crown. I had a slightly modified Maverick, which ironically is their take on the ubiquitous meat-lover’s pizza. Still, it was good and I’d have it again.
On the way home this evening I stopped at St. Mary’s Church again. Last week I posted a picture of their graveyard and the church taken at night. This time, the photo was taken from the edge of their property but of a flag flying across the street in the triangular Veterans Park. The flag is well-lit, as the nation’s flag should be when flown around the clock, and it was quite breezy, making it easier to get a shot with the flag mostly unfurled. This was a 1/8 second exposure at f/2.8 and ISO 500, taken with a 100mm macro lens and with the camera mounted on a tripod.
It was back to work again today and a busy day it was. I barely left my desk all day and didn’t go outside at all. Cathy and I went to work together because we have a car in the shop and by the time we left for home it was after 6:00 and quite dark. After dinner I took some pictures of bunches of colored pencils. There are quite a few floating about the house. Actually, they aren’t as scatted as they have been at times in the past. Most of them are in a bin in my computer room.
I took some pictures looking at the pencils end-on but then decided to take a few with them standing in rank. These were just a bunch held in my hand with the yellow wall beyond them. Maybe I should have sharpened them all before I took the picture, or at least the orangish one in the upper right, but I don’t suppose it really matters.
We had more snow this morning. Still not what I’d call a snow storm but more than yesterday. Also, temperatures have been below freezing for a day and the snow stuck to streets and other paved surfaces this time. When I got up in was 29°F but by noon the temperature had dropped to just above 20°F. In the early afternoon I went out back and took a few pictures. This one reminds me of a coastal valley in Alaska or Norway, with inlets and islands. Of course the entire scene is only a foot across, but nature tends to make similar shapes, whether large or small.
It was something short of a blizzard but we had our first snowfall of 2017 this morning. It started before I got up but had mostly stopped by the time I got to work. The roads were all perfectly clear, so it had no real effect on my relatively short commute. It’s suppose to snow again tomorrow and it’s gotten colder, so it may stick a bit more, but for today, it was just a light dusting on the grass and in the woods. Quite pretty, actually.
It was a busy day at work today and I didn’t really get out of my office, much less the building to take pictures. When I got home, I fixed dinner and then sort of crashed for a while. Late in the evening I started looking around for things to photograph. There are some little Greek ceramic buildings on a glass-front cabinet in our dining room and I took some pictures of those, as well as a Cloisonne egg, but those were not very satisfying. I took a few pictures of this bowl, which I made back in the late 1970s, probably 1979. The crack makes it pretty unsuitable for anything liquid but it works well for holding chips or popcorn. I kind of like the crack, which was not intentional. That combined with the darker glaze around the crack gives it some character.
It was a bit foggy this evening and as I was coming home from downtown Rockville I decided I’d see what I could get in the St. Mary’s graveyard. I hadn’t thought to put my tripod into the car so I had to brace the camera on the fence on the edge of the yard. This exposure was six seconds at f/5.7 and it turned out reasonably well. Because it’s all lit with artificial light, it was much more orange than this, which I’ve desaturated significantly. I should probably return with a tripod and a bit more time some evening but this was a good first try.
Every year is different. That’s good, in the sense that we want a little variety in our lives. If every day were just like the last, we’d get bored (some of us sooner than others). That’s why so many people love the changing seasons. Autumn and spring, times of transition, are especially beautiful. But even with the change, there is a sameness the overlays it all. Every year has the same four seasons and that repetition is quite comforting. We know what to expect next, at least in broad terms, even if the details are different.
Every year, the details are different. We all know that but we’re still surprised by it, from time to time. Last year was different to all the others (at least all my others) because Albert wasn’t there. This year was different for a totally different reason. Ralph’s son and daughter-in-law (Stephen and Maya) had a son yesterday. What a wonderful combined Christmas and Hanukkah present. They named him Kaien (pretty much rhymes with Ryan) but gave him the middle name Albert. That was a very sweet thing for them to do and a very nice present for all of us.
After work today I did some shopping while Cathy went to her weekly Pilates class. Then I came back and picked her up and we went to her mom’s house to help get some Christmas decorations up. We had put up the tree earlier but didn’t have time to decorate it. I also got out the large crèche which was stored on the top shelf in the basement. Getting a picture with the lights on the tree showing and the rest of the image lit properly is a challenge but I’m pretty please with this one.
Dorothy drove from school to Lancaster, Pennsylvania yesterday, getting most of the way home without having to deal with the winter weather that we had today. This morning it started sleeting about the time I got up and came down for a good three or four hours before petering out. There was a nice coating of ice on everything but it didn’t last, having warmed up into the 40s by the afternoon. Dorothy left Lancaster around 2:00 and with the exception of a little back road driving getting to interstate 83, she didn’t have any problem getting here. But for the little time it lasted, the ice was very pretty.
As I mentioned yesterday, it’s gotten cold. Today I wore a sweater and if you know me at all, you know that means it was below 20°F (about -7°C), which is when I usually will put a jacket on even if I won’t be outside long. Anyway, I also had a glove for my camera hand. That made my foray into the woods much more comfortable than yesterday’s. I walked through the woods and across the creek in the empty lot next to my building. Up on the higher ground across the creek there was a large, flat, open area with small puddles, all frozen. In what was formerly mud, there were these fingers of ice crystal that I thought were pretty awesome.
Cathy spent much of the evening today wrapping Christmas presents so we could get them in the mail in time for them to arrive before Christmas. Many years she’d be doing this next week, so it’s pretty great that she got them done. I’m not judging, mind you. I barely helped do it, although I did wrap one or two of the presents. I’m a terrible procrastinator. Anyway, she got four (I think) separate boxes packed and ready to mail. Happy Christmas, everyone!
I went over to one of the other buildings on campus early this afternoon for a meeting. As I sometimes (often) do, I brought my camera with me in case there were any opportunities for photographs. As I walked over, it was overcast and dreary, but that’s sometimes good photographically. By the time I left the meeting, only an hour later it was sunny and clear. The pavement was still wet from the rain overnight and there was a little oil or gasoline spilled on the pavement. That’s what this photograph is of.
I was looking around for things to photograph this evening. The first thing I photographed was soap bubbles in a roasting pan soaking in the sink. They turned out alright but they were not exactly riveting. Cathy had been washing this tea set that she’s had since she was a little girl. It was set out on a tea towel. I moved them to a cutting board and took a few pictures, of which this is one. It’s a dainty, little tea set with cups that are only about an inch across.
I was coming home from our weekly men’s meeting this evening and saw that a significant number of houses have been decorated for Christmas. I drove through the neighborhood and took pictures of a bunch of the decorations. Some are simple, with all white lights, others have lights on forms in the shape of animals or people, including one lit up nativity scene. Still others have inflatable figures, such as this one of Santa driving away from the house on a motorcycle. As you can see, he’s left some presents under the tree and the family dog is faithfully standing guard (but knows that Santa is a welcome visitor). This is a nice counterpoint to last week’s Duck on a Bike.
Cathy and I drove down to Richmond this afternoon for our friend Emily’s photo exhibit in an art gallery there. Many of the galleries in Richmond have openings on the first Friday of each month so it’s a bit of a thing. It didn’t seem like there was as much action as there had been on previous First Fridays but that didn’t seem to hurt Emily too much. Her show was pretty well visited for the entire three hours of the official opening. Cathy and I really enjoyed seeing her work and of course also seeing her, her mom, and many of her friends.
We walked west on Broad Street as far as Boulevard, going into a few other galleries. The skirt of this gown is made from tea bags. It is one of two in a shop window and I couldn’t resist taking pictures. I took other pictures throughout the evening, of course, mostly of folks at Emily’s show. We drove back home again that evening so it was a long day, but well worth the drive.
Back in the second year of my photo-a-day project I posted a picture of this duck on a bike. I’m not sure if it’s cheating to post an almost identical photo today but it was after 10:00 PM and I hadn’t taken any pictures today. I’m nearing the end of six years of taking at least one picture a day and I’d hate to drop the ball as I near that milestone. I reserve the right to stop at any time. A day may come when I don’t take a picture. But it is not this day.
This duck on a bike sits over our main computer in our family room. It’s missing one of the three rotor blades on its head and it has been stepped on at some point so it leans a bit. Because of those two factors, it doesn’t run very well, falling over quite easily. Still, it’s a happy thing to have. I mean, who doesn’t love a duck on a bike (even it it’s really a trike)?
Dorothy came home for Thanksgiving, arriving at about 2:30 this morning. We only saw her for a moment before she and Abba, who came with her, went to bed. Today we spent much of the day at her grandma’s house (Cathy’s mom’s) but Dorothy, Cathy, and I went out to run a few errands in the afternoon. Among other things, we went to Plaza to buy Dorothy some art supplies. While she was shopping, I took a few pictures, mostly of colors. I got some of oil paints, colored paper, and color pencils, as well as a few of these shelves of pastel sticks.
In 2014 I posted a picture of Cathy with two Operation Christmas Child boxes, delivering them at the collection center. Then last year, the picture was of Cathy with six packed boxes, ready to take them out to the car. This year, we’re a little earlier in the process. In this picture, Cathy has laid out all the things she plans to get into six shoe-box sized plastic boxes. If you think it unlikely she’ll be able to get it all in, fear not, it was done (with a little expert advice from yours truly). They were delivered the next day (tomorrow when I took the picture, last week when I’m writing this). Has Cathy mentioned that she likes Operation Christmas Child? Well, she does.
It’s funny, but when I’m going through pictures to post here, I have a fairly strong and only marginally conscious bias towards horizontally oriented photographs. I think (actually, I know) it’s because I feel like I have to fill this space next to the photo with text and a vertical photo takes considerably more work to fill. This photo is the third vertically oriented photo in a row, and the fourth out of the last five. So, what can I write?
This crock, or whatever you call it, was given to us as a wedding present. That’s me on the left and Cathy on the right. Since then, I’ve used it to hold mostly wooden spoons and a few other kitchen utensils. It generally sits back against the wall but I pulled it out for this photograph. Also, I clearly didn’t arrange the rest of the counter for this shot, as you can see a cup with plastic forks and spoons behind it to the right. On the left is the smaller of my two mortar and pestles (or is it mortars and pestles?). I use wooden spoons a lot when cooking. Also, the flat, wooden utensil and the orange silicone spatula get quite a bit of use.
A short drive (or long walk) from where I work are three connected buildings with great, reflective glass sides. They used to be the office and labs of Human Genome Sciences but they are now identified as GSK, which (a little digging proved) stands for Glaxo-Smith-Kline (although they insist on it being one word). According to Wikipedia, GSK is “a British pharmaceutical company headquartered in Brentford, London. Established in 2000 by a merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, GSK was the world’s sixth largest pharmaceutical company as of 2015.” But I’m here for the reflections.
This is an abacus that has been made into a lamp and is in the living room at Cathy’s mom’s house. There isn’t a lot to say about this particular abacus, but as I was deciding which pictures to post for today, I remembered a short video I saw once about doing mental math by visualizing an abacus. I can’t find the video that I saw (I didn’t try all that hard) but basically, kids were shown a series of long numbers (6, 8, and 10 digits long) and they added them up in their heads. The numbers were flashed on a screen and it went so fast I barely had time to read the numbers and certainly not enough time to actually do anything with them. But these kids were able to add them up accurately in their heads. It was quite remarkable. Apparently, learning to do math with an abacus then allows you to do the same thing only without the actual abacus. Subtraction, multiplication, and division are also done on an abacus, both physically and mentally. I wonder if it’s too late for me to learn to do that.
I hope you aren’t getting tired of fall color. It was slow to get started, as I suspect we think every year, meaning it was about normal. But we are in the midst of great beauty. This is the view from my office window. Actually, this was taken from the conference room next to my office, but it’s basically the same view. This isn’t the best example of autumnal glory to be found, but it’s what I have easily available. All too soon it will be gone and we’ll be left with skeletons.
Cathy and I were at her mom’s house and I was looking for things to photograph among her various objet d’art. I’ve always liked this little metal parrot figurine and thought it would make a nice picture. It was sitting in front of a light colored plate but I moved it to get a better background. Anyone who has spent more than a little time with parrots will recognize this stance and expression. They are often curious birds with a great deal of personality. Of course, Solomon is more timid than curious, but that may say as much about us as about him.
I’m not really much of an artist. In particular, I’m not much of a sculptor. But back in the day (I don’t know for sure but certainly not later than the 1970s) I attempted a small figurine of a bear eating honey, a la Winnie The Pooh. It’s a bit crude and certainly won’t win any awards for life-likeness. On the other hand, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I bet you could tell what it was without being told. So, that’s something.
I’ve often admired sculptors and their ability to fashion clay, stone, or metal into such wonderful imitations of life. I think that’s one of the things I like best about Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina. The fact that the sculpture is in such a beautiful setting makes a difference, too, of course. Could I do any better than this bear if I really tried? Possibly. But possibly we’ll never find out.
I’m not what you’d generally describe as a coin collector. On the other hand, I have a collection of coins. It isn’t very extensive and it’s certainly not very valuable, but it’s made up of coins I’ve accumulated over the years. As kids we would go through mom and dad’s coins looking for any we didn’t already have. Back then, in the 1960s, finding pennies with what are known as wheat backs wasn’t a big deal (they went through 1958) but now, it’s a pretty rare occurrence. Even rarer these days is to come across a steel penny, made in 1943 because of wartime shortages of copper. Pictured here are also two nickels from 1939 and 1941 and a Liberty Head dime from 1942.
A few of you know the circumstances that brought me to the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building at Johns Hopkins Hospital this morning. I came to give some blood for testing. For those who don’t know what that’s about, I’ll just say that I’m fine and I’m here for someone else. This is a pretty amazing hospital in terms of activity. It’s like a hive. Of course it would be great if hospitals were not so busy but there you have it. For more information about the hospital and specifically about the Weinberg Building see this page: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/kimmel_cancer_center/our_center/facilities/weinberg/.
I was in downtown Rockville again this evening, meeting a few other guys for dinner. I got there a bit early and took a few pictures but city scenes, even small-city scenes, are not really my thing. The plaza is undergoing it’s annual transformation from an open place where people mingle with a fountain where the kids play in the warmer months into its winter form. A skating rink is built in the plaza with a small pavilion at one end where skates are rented. This evening it was about a third the way through this transformation. On the lines of trees down each side of the plaza are lights, wrapped around the trunks and up into the branches. That’s what this picture features.
It’s one thing to have an obscure reference or symbol on a grave marker. In fact, it’s fairly common and in consequence, many of the otherwise obscure symbols are documented. You can easily find references that will tell you about them. But what if you want a symbol that no one will understand and few will recognize? Put it in a book and then make sure to reference it. In this case, page 35 of “Principia of Universareology” and it further notes that copies may be found in various public libraries. I’ve checked the library catalog for our public library system and they don’t have a copy. In fact, searching on “Principia of Universareology” only uncovered two links on these entire interwebs. The first is to the Find-a-Grave page for this marker. The second is a PDF of Vol. 13, No. 3, Fall 2005 of the “Coalition Courier” newsletter, Published by the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, Inc. On page two is the following paragraph (which is also quoted on the Find-a-Grave page):
In the Summer issue we included a picture of John William Benson’s grave marker and asked if anyone could shed light on the symbol. Eileen sent along copies of the pertinent pages of “Principia of Universareology” written by Mr. Benson of R[ockville]. The symbol is a concentric heart. The “heart” has 7 layers and a flame at the top and a circle at the bottom. The flame represents religion-theology. The chambers represent: govern-ment-politics; operatics-operation; body-physiology; animal-zoology; matter-chemistry; astronomical-astronomy; and universe. The bottom circle represents ‘entinal chaos of and before the dawn of the beginning’. So there you have it. Thanks again Eileen.