Miscellaneous

St. Rose of Lima

St. Rose of Lima

St. Rose of Lima

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.

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Fire

Fire

Fire

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.

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Monarch and Bumblebee

Monarch and Bumblebee

Monarch and Bumblebee

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).

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Tree Felling

Felled Colorado Spruce

Felled Colorado Spruce

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.

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Nuristan Chest

Nuristan Chest

Nuristan Chest

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.

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Black Silk Stove Polish

Black Silk Stove Polish

Black Silk Stove Polish

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.

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Widewater Sluice

Widewater Sluice

Widewater Sluice

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.

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Callicarpa americana (Beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (Beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (Beautyberry)

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.

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Crap Aftershave

Crap Aftershave

Crap Aftershave

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.

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Black-and-Yellow Argiope (Argiope aurantia)

Black-and-Yellow Argiope (Argiope aurantia)

Black-and-Yellow Argiope (Argiope aurantia)

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?

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Green Ceramic Frog

Green Ceramic Frog

Green Ceramic Frog

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.

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House For Sale

House for Sale

House for Sale

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.

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Purdah Screen

Purdah Screen

Purdah Screen

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.

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Huberd’s Shoe Grease

Huberd's Shoe Grease

Huberd’s Shoe Grease

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.

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A Little More Furniture

Rental Truck Filled With Furniture

Rental Truck Filled With Furniture

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).

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Cleome and Black-eyed Susan

Cleome ‘Señorita Rosalita’

Cleome ‘Señorita Rosalita’

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.

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Repaired Drinking Glass

Repaired Drinking Glass

Repaired Drinking Glass

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.

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Lectern Eagle’s Talons

Lectern Eagle’s Talons

Lectern Eagle’s Talons

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.

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Reflections

Reflections

Reflections

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.

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China Clipper Model, BWI Airport

China Clipper Model, BWI Airport

China Clipper Model, BWI Airport

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.

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Fifth Asian Games Palm Leaf Fan

Fifth Asian Games Palm Leaf Fan

Fifth Asian Games Palm Leaf Fan

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, &#201c;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.

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Calcite Crystal

Calcite Crystal

Calcite Crystal

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.

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Corgi Toys Marcos 3 Litre

Corgi Toys Marcos 3 Litre

Corgi Toys Marcos 3 Litre

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.

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Book of the Black Bass

Book of the Black Bass

Book of the Black Bass

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.

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Horseshoe and Spikes

Horseshoe and Spikes

Horseshoe and Spikes

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.

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I’d Rather Be Fishing, Part 2

Fishing Lure Hooks

Fishing Lure Hooks

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.

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I’d Rather Be Fishing

Jon Boat On The Van

Jon Boat On The Van

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.

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Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

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.

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Furniture Moving

China Cabinet

China Cabinet

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.

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Malachite and Azurite

Malachite and Azurite

Malachite and Azurite

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.

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Gloucester Harbor

Gloucester Harbor

Gloucester Harbor

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.

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Bric-a-brac

Bric-a-brac

Bric-a-brac

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).

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Garden Sculpture

Garden Sculpture

Garden Sculpture

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.

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Edison Phonograph Records

Edison Phonograph Records

Edison Phonograph Records

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).

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Steiff Baboon Coco

Steiff Baboon Coco

Steiff Baboon Coco

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.

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Top. Men.

Maggie and David in Basement Storeroom

Maggie and David in Basement Storeroom

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.

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A Fine Summer’s Day

A Fine Summer's Day

A Fine Summer’s Day

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.

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Oenothera speciosa (Pink Evening Primrose)

Oenothera speciosa (Pink Evening Primrose)

Oenothera speciosa (Pink Evening Primrose)

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.

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Loyal Order of Moose

Loyal Order of Moose

Loyal Order of Moose

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.

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Asiatic Lily

Asiatic Lily

Asiatic Lily

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.

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Stained Glass

Stained Glass

Stained Glass

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.

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Glass Duck

Glass Duck

Glass Duck

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.

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Emergency and Trauma

Emergency and Trauma

Emergency and Trauma

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.

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Reflections on Self-Storage

Reflections on Self-Storage

Reflections on Self-Storage

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.

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The Reporter

Mom's Stairs

Mom’s Stairs

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.

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Self Storage

Self Storage

Self Storage

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.

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Cathy’s Doll House

Cathy's Doll House

Cathy’s Doll House

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.

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‘Dragonflies’ Quilt by Dot

'Dragonflies' Quilt by Dot

‘Dragonflies’ Quilt by Dot

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.

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Pukeberg Bookend Vase

Pukeberg Bookend Vase

Pukeberg Bookend Vase

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.

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Lake Frank and Clouds

Lake Frank and Clouds

Lake Frank and Clouds

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.

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Rock Creek After a Rain

Rock Creek After a Rain

Rock Creek After a Rain

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).

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Another Daffodil

Another Daffodil

Another Daffodil

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.

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Pizors

Pizors

Pizors

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.

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Nursery Rhyme Sticker

Nursery Rhyme Sticker

Nursery Rhyme Sticker

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.

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Spring Snow

Spring Snow

Spring Snow

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.

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Fire

Fire

Fire

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.

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Matryoshka Doll Set

Matryoshka Doll Set

Matryoshka Doll Set

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.

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Small Change

Small Change

Small Change

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.

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Azurite and Malachite

Azurite and Malachite

Azurite and Malachite

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.

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Weights

Weights

Weights

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.

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Souvenir from Republic, Michigan

Souvenir from Republic, Michigan

Souvenir from Republic, Michigan

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.

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Heart Shaped Burger

 Heart Shaped Burger

Heart Shaped Burger

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.

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Rainy, Foggy Morning

Rainy, Foggy Morning

Rainy, Foggy Morning

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.

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Little Bird Statues

Little Bird Statues

Little Bird Statues

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.

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Rockville Cemetery

Rockville Cemetery

Rockville Cemetery

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.

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A Few Science-Related Book

A Few Science-Related Book

A Few Science-Related Book

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
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Reflections

Reflections

Reflections

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).

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Office Building Art

Office Building Art

Office Building Art

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.

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Carpet Pattern

Carpet Pattern

Carpet Pattern

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).

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Burning More Papers

Burning More Papers

Burning More Papers

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.

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Stone Rings

Stone Rings

Stone Rings

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.

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Rusty Chain

Rusty Chain

Rusty Chain

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.

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Rubber Stoppers

Rubber Stoppers

Rubber Stoppers

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.

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Ashes to Ashes

Burning Card

Burning Card

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.

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Don’t Look Back

Sunset In The Rear View Miror

Sunset In The Rear View Miror

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.

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Mellow Mushroom

Mellow Mushroom

Mellow Mushroom

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.

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Walnut in Asphalt

Walnut in Asphalt

Walnut in Asphalt

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.

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Old Glory

Old Glory

Old Glory

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.

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Computer Room

Margaret and Cathy In The Computer Room

Margaret and Cathy In The Computer Room

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.

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Normal

As Far As Anyone Knows, We're a Nice, Normal Family

As Far As Anyone Knows, We’re a Nice, Normal Family

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?

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Move, Part 1

Move, Part 1

Move, Part 1

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.

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Eagle Lectern

Eagle Lectern

Eagle Lectern

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.

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Frost

Frost

Frost

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.

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Miscellaneous Foreign Coins

Miscellaneous Foreign Coins

Miscellaneous Foreign Coins

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).

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Bird Footprints

Bird Footprints

Bird Footprints

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.

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Super Balls

Super Balls

Super Balls

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.

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Colors

Colors

Colors

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.

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Peruvian Creche

Peruvian Creche

Peruvian Creche

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.

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Doll Cataracts

Doll Cataracts

Doll Cataracts

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.

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Dusk Sky

Dusk Sky

Dusk Sky

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.

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Car Head Lamp Bulbs

Car Head Lamp Bulbs

Car Head Lamp Bulbs

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.

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Croydon Creek

Croydon Creek

Croydon Creek

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.

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I Will Survive

I Will Survive

I Will Survive

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.

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Grandma’s Bedroom, Part 2

Grandma’s Bedroom, Part 2

Grandma’s Bedroom, Part 2

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.

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ERN

ERN

ERN

It was a chilly day today but I went for a short walk in the woods, nevertheless. Spending all day at my desk is all well and good. It does, after all, pay the bills. But for my own physical, mental, and emotional well being it’s not a bad idea to go outdoors now and then. Cathy has been looking at a couple USGS topographic maps from 1945 that I printed out for her. They cover Rockville and the area to the east and she was interested in the fact that Avery used to go through to Baltimore Road. I knew part of that already because the road that comes out next to Rockville Cemetery is Avery Road. Today I walked down from the Croydon Creek Nature Center on what remains of that stretch of Avery. I came across this piece of rusted metal in the woods and thought it might make a nice photo. It’s from an IntERNational Harvester truck of some sort.

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Bathroom Progress, Day 28

Bathroom Progress, Day 28

Bathroom Progress, Day 28

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.

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Winter’s First Snow

Winter's First Snow

Winter’s First Snow

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.

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Christmas Lights (But Not Ours)

Christmas Lights (But Not Ours)

Christmas Lights (But Not Ours)

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.

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Grandma’s Bedroom

Grandma's Bedroom

Grandma’s Bedroom

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).

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Bathroom Progress, Day 19

Bathroom Progress, Day 19

Bathroom Progress, Day 19

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.

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Mack Truck Bulldog Hood Ornament

Mack Truck Bulldog Hood Ornament

Mack Truck Bulldog Hood Ornament

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.

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Replacing Van Headlights

Replacing Van Headlights

Replacing Van Headlights

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.

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Bathroom Progress

Bathroom Renovation

Bathroom Renovation

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.

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Operation Christmas Child, Part 2

Operation Christmas Child, Part 2

Operation Christmas Child, Part 2

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.

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Operation Christmas Child, Part 1

Operation Christmas Child, Part 1

Operation Christmas Child, Part 1

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.

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Zamboni

Refreshing The Ice, Rockville Town Center

Refreshing The Ice, Rockville Town Center

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.

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Bathroom Progress, Day 7

Bathroom Progress, Day 7

Bathroom Progress, Day 7

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.

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Fall Color In The Woods

Fall Color In The Woods

Fall Color In The Woods

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.

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Bathroom Progress, Day 4

Bathroom Progress, Day 4

Bathroom Progress, Day 4

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.

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Laundry to Bathroom Conversion, Day One

Laundry Room, Before

Laundry Room, Before

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.

Laundry to Bathroom Conversion, Day One

Laundry to Bathroom Conversion, Day One

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.

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Old Wine Bottle

Old Wine Bottle

Old Wine Bottle

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.

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Warren Historic Site

Warren Historic Site

Warren Historic Site

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.)

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A Little Time for Silliness

Cathy, Being Silly

Cathy, Being Silly

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/.

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Utensiles

Utensiles

Utensiles

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.

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Bethesda Quilters (Jane’s Quilt)

Bethesda Quilters Quilt

Bethesda Quilters Quilt

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.

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Quilt Show

Dot's Quilt

Dot’s Quilt

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.

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Grease Fractals

Grease Fractals

Grease Fractals

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.

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Grasshopper

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

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.

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Grandma’s Pipe

Grandma's Pipe

Grandma’s Pipe

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.

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Water on My Windscreen

Water on My Windscreen

Water on My Windscreen

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.

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Mont. Co. Agricultural Fair

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables

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.

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Raindrops On A Pond

Raindrops On A Pond

Raindrops On A Pond

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.

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Fleabane

Fleabane

Fleabane

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).

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Afghan Doll

Afghan Doll

Afghan Doll

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.

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Fuchsia ‘Dark Eyes’

Fuchsia ‘Dark Eyes’

Fuchsia ‘Dark Eyes’

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.

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Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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.

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“Spirit of Freedom”

'Spirit of Freedom' by Muriel Castanis, 1992

“Spirit of Freedom” by Muriel Castanis, 1992

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.

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Daffodil

Daffodil

Daffodil

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.

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Ripples

Ripples

Ripples

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.

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Senior Crossing

Senior Crossing

Senior Crossing

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.

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Disk Harrow

Disk Harrow

Disk Harrow

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.

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Check With Your Doctor

Check With Your Doctor

Check With Your Doctor

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.

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A Walk Around Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins Hospital

Johns Hopkins Hospital

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.

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Winter Weather

A Fairly Light Snowfall

A Fairly Light Snowfall

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.

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Emergency and Trauma

Emergency and Trauma

Emergency and Trauma

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.

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Soap Bubbles

Soap Bubbles

Soap Bubbles

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.

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Lighting

Lighting

Lighting

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.

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My Family’s First Computer

Ohio Scientific Superboard II

Ohio Scientific Superboard II

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.

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Wooden Chandelier

Wooden Chandelier

Wooden Chandelier

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.

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Glinda of Oz

Glinda of Oz

Glinda of Oz

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.

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Rotary Dial Wall Phone

Rotary Dial Wall Phone

Rotary Dial Wall Phone

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.

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Running Water

Running Water

Running Water

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.

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St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard

St. Mary's Church and Graveyard

St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard

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.

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&Pizza

My &Pizza Pizza

My &Pizza Pizza

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.

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The Stars and Stripes

The Stars and Stripes

The Stars and Stripes

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.

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Colored Pencils

Colored Pencils

Colored Pencils

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.

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Fjord

Fjord

Fjord

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.

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First Snow of 2017

First Snow of 2017

First Snow of 2017

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.

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Cracked Bowl

Cracked Bowl

Cracked Bowl

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.

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St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard

St. Mary's Church and Graveyard

St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard

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.

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Christmas, 2016

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

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.

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Tree and Crèche

Tree and Crèche

Tree and Crèche

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.

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Ice Storm

Ice on Colorado Spruce

Ice on Colorado Spruce

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.

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Ice Crystals

Ice Crystals

Ice Crystals

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.

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Christmas Presents

Christmas Presents

Christmas Presents

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!

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Oil On Wet Pavement

Oil On Wet Pavement

Oil On Wet Pavement

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.

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Tea Set

Tea Set

Tea Set

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.

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Santa On A Bike

Santa On A Bike

Santa On A Bike

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.

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Teabag Gown

Teabag Gown

Teabag Gown

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.

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Duck On A Bike

Duck On A Bike

Duck On A Bike

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)?

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Colors

Pastels

Pastels

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.

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Operation Christmas Child

Cathy and Her Operation Christmas Child Things

Cathy and Her Operation Christmas Child Things

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.

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Wedding Reminder

Wedding Reminder

Wedding Reminder

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.

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Reflections

Reflections

Reflections

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.

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Count on Me

Abacus Lamp

Abacus Lamp

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.

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From My Office Window

Fall Color, From My Office Window

Fall Color, From My Office Window

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.

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Metal Parrot

Metal Parrot Figurine

Metal Parrot Figurine

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.

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Ceramic Bear

Ceramic Bear

Ceramic Bear

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.

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A Few Old Coins

A Few Old Coins

A Few Old Coins

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.

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Johns Hopkins Hospital

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building

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/.

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Decorative Lights

Decorative Lights

Decorative Lights

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.

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Gravestone Pedantry

John William Benson, 1861 to 1947

John William Benson, 1861 to 1947

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.

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Colman’s Mustard

Colman's Mustard

Colman’s Mustard

I know I shouldn’t do this two days in a row, but today I have another example of older packaging. Yesterday is was penetrating oil, today it’s Coleman’s Mustard. On the right is the old, metal container for this powdered mustard. On the left is a new container. In this case, the new container is also made of metal, except for the lid, which is plastic instead of the elliptical metal lid on the old tin. This is the back of the old tin. The front looks basically the same as the new one. On the new tin, the front and back are much more similar to each other, with the red lettering on both sides, although it still has the cow on the back.

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Liquid Wrench

Liquid Wrench

Liquid Wrench

We’re in the days of plastic containers and I’m not sure it’s a good thing. It certainly is a less aesthetic time in our history. This is a metal can of Liquid Wrench®, otherwise known as a brand of penetrating oil. This can came from my dad’s workshop and it’s possible that before that it came from my grandfather’s. This isn’t something you go through quickly but it’s a great thing to have around. I’ve ordered another 4 ounce bottle but of course it’s plastic and not nearly so attractive. It’s basically the same, though, although the new bottle says ‘improved formula’ and it doesn’t say deodorized. But, It Melts The Rust Away!

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Bumble Bee and Obedient Plant

Bumble Bee and Obedient Plant

Bumble Bee and Obedient Plant

The obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) is finally in bloom in our back yard. I feel like it’s bloomed a lot earlier in previous years but I don’t really know. This is mostly a new location for it, so maybe it will bloom earlier there once it is established. I went out to get some pictures of it late this afternoon, although the light wasn’t all that good. I managed to get this picture of a common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) on it, which I think is nice.

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An Evening at the Rio

An Evening at the Rio

An Evening at the Rio

I’m posting two pictures from today. After I got that picture of the cricket in the grass, Cathy and I went to the Rio for a while. We walked twice around the lake, hoping to get a good sunset picture. The sky kept promising color in the clouds but it never really materialized. But the buildings and the reflection in the lake made a pretty nice picture, so I’m giving you that. This is an HDR image made from three individual exposures made right together, one under exposed (which supplies detail in the highlights), one properly exposed, and one over exposed (which supplies detail in the shadows). I think it turned out rather well.

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Walter and Hazel Johnson

Walter and Hazel Johnson

Walter and Hazel Johnson

I’ve been meaning for some time to find the grave marker for Walter Johnson and today I actually stopped and found it. I’ve known for a while that he was buried in Rockville Cemetery and I’ve often thought of stopping as I drove by. Today I stopped. There are three markers, the large stone marked Johnson and the two headstones for Walter Johnson (November 6, 1887 – December 10, 1946) and Hazel Johnson, who was only 36 years old when she died of heatstroke on August 1st, 1930. The larger stone has baseballs and other baseball related items left on it, presumably by admirers.

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Rockville Globe

Globe by Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock

Globe by Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock

I was heading home from downtown Rockville this evening and the only pictures I had taken were not worth much, so I thought I’d drive through and see if anything worth photographing was going on at the Town Square Plaza. There were quite a few people about but nothing obvious to photograph. Also, I didn’t find an easy parking space, so I kept going. I came back around and down Maryland Avenue and then turned left on E. Middle Lane, figuring I’d head home and find something else to photograph. While sitting at the light to cross Hungerford Drive I pulled out my camera and took a few pictures of this globe, a piece of public art, at the northwest corner of Hungerford and E. Middle. It is the work of Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock and was installed just over a year ago. My understanding is that there is a button you can push that will change the color of the light.

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New Computer

My New Computer

My New Computer

As I mentioned in the post from Thursday, my main workstation at home crashed. Parts of it are still usable and I may turn it into a Window-only scanning workstation. But for now, I need to get Linux up and running and restore the files on the drive that was lost (a 3TB drive with pictures up through 2011). This is the new computer, pre-assembly. In the past I’ve bought the smallest case that will hold everything I need. This time, I decided to take a different approach. The case is huge. But it made assembly so much easier. I got an AMD FX processor with 8 cores, 16GB of RAM (which may be upped to 32GB at some point), a 120GB SSD for the boot drive and two 5TB hard drives for data (I may need a third soon, but there’s plenty of room in this case). I also have a GeForce GTX 760 graphics card. It will be powered by a 600 watt power supply. An hour and a half later, all the parts were in the case and I was ready to start the process of installing CentOS 7, an upgrade from 6, which I’m sure will cause some pain along the way, but I do have some experience with 7 already, so I should survive.

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Some Serious Loafing

Huge Loaves of Bread, Rockland Bakery

Huge Loaves of Bread, Rockland Bakery

When we drive to or from the Boston area we often stop at the Rockland Bakery in Nanuet, New York for a bit of bread. Because we’re driving most of the day and it’s not a good idea to take pictures while driving, this is one of my few opportunities to take pictures on those days (I guess I could take pictures at a service area, but somehow…). In the past I’ve tried to come up with bread-themed jokes to go along with my picture (e.g., Home For The Challahdays). Today I’ll just feature a picture of some huge loaves of bread. I have to assume these are a special order item, being too long even for the shelf trolley they’re on. We settled for soft pretzels (which were just coming out of the oven) and a couple rolls. It’s a fascinating place and worth a visit, even if you don’t buy bread (but we always do, of course).

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1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

It was County Fair day for us today. I went from work and Cathy picked up Karlee and Dorothy and came a little later (actually, because of horrendous traffic, it was quite a bit later). Because I had some time on my own, I took a few pictures, including this one of a 1957 Chevy Bel Air parked outside the Arts, Crafts, and Photography building. It’s a beautiful car, wonderfully maintained and restored. Of course I also took pictures of people, animals, and even people with their animals. I also had a chance to visit with some friends who work the photography building and who showed me where my pictures were displayed. Later, when Cathy, Karlee, and Dorothy came, we got caught in the rain and had to wait it out before making our way back to our cars as it let up. Still, I nice evening and one to remember.

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Escalator

Escalator

Escalator

Here’s a question. Should it only be an escalator when you ride it up from one level to a higher level? To escalate is to raise. So wWhen you go down, shouldn’t it be called a depressor or declinator or something? I have the same question about an elevator. Maybe that would be too complicated. I don’t know.

Anyway, Cathy and I were at Dulles airport today to pick up Dorothy. She was returning from Turkey, flying from Ankara to Washington via Munich, a much shorter itinerary than her original Ankara to Istanbul to Moscow to Washington set of flights. In fact, her entire trip from Ankara to Washington was shorter than her layover in Moscow was scheduled to be. I think we were all happy with the change. I suppose I could post a picture of her, back on American soil (or the tile floor of the airport, anyway) but I kind of like this picture of three escalators (two of which are descenders, actually), viewed from above.

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Mirror, Outta The Way Cafe

Mirror, Outta The Way Cafe

Mirror, Outta The Way Cafe

We met a long-time friend this evening at the Outta The Way Cafe near Redland and Muncaster Mill Roads (http://www.outta.com/). It was a nice dinner and we had a good time catching up with the friend whom we hadn’t seen in a little while. We talked about the past a little but mostly about the future and even (occasionally) about the present. I hadn’t taken any pictures yet but this friend is not the most eager photography subject you’ll ever meet and, although I sometimes force the issue, I wanted to honor her with to not be photographed this evening. The Outta The Way Cafe has a somewhat eclectic decor, including this large mirror surrounded by a frame covered with glass balls. I’m not as happy with it as I might be. The reflection in the mirror is in focus but the mirror itself, with its colorful frame, it a bit blurry. But if I’m going to post something, this had got to be it.

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Farewell to Ocean Isle Beach

Farewell to Ocean Isle Beach

Farewell to Ocean Isle Beach

A week at the beach is never enough. I’m not entirely sure if it’s the shortness of the time at the beach or the shortness of the time away from work, but in any case, our week was quickly over and it’s time to go home. I went out onto the upstairs deck and took some pictures of the fairly calm Atlantic Ocean this morning. Actually, after the storm we had around mid-week (which was a rip-roarer) the ocean has been very calm, indeed. The other thing about the week being over, of course, is that it means we have to drive home, which includes a long stretch of Interstate 95. I cannot imagine that’s anyone’s idea of a good time.

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Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning

Trigger warnings are nothing new. The practice predates the internet by quite a bit, although that particular name is relatively new. In the ‘old days’ you might hear “parental discretion is advised.” before a particularly graphic or shocking news item, movie, or television show. Even for those without children (i.e., where parental discretion isn’t applicable) these warnings gave notice to all that they might want to prepare themselves for something unpleasant. Whatever you think of the current practice, however, I found the accompanying sign to be a bit funny in this context. Here’s a genuine trigger warning. It fits the old definition, of course—if you trespass you should prepare yourself to be shot—but it also fits the new usage. You might want to avoid this, if being shot at tends to cause you to have a panic attack.

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Trouble Brewing

Trouble Brewing

Trouble Brewing

This is sort of a running gag with us. Every year we see these signs and chuckle. The title is from a class of Far Side comics by Gary Larson. He would put two things side by side that will inevitably lead to some sort of conflict and then caption it “Trouble Brewing.” For example, “Crutchfield’s Crocodile Farm” and “Anderson’s Sky Diving School” or “Falconers Club Meet Here and “12th Annual Tea Cup Poodle Fancier’s Picnic.” To us, these two signs are similar. Of course, there is a reasonable explanation. The road where this is found is a divided highway and the One-Way sign only applies to the southbound lanes while the Hurricane Evacuation Route sign applies more generally. Still, having them right next to each other pointing in opposite directions is classic.

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A Small Basket

A Small Basket's Lid

A Small Basket’s Lid

I’m sorry to say that today’s photograph is mostly filler. I’m tempted to say all filler, because it’s not really much of a photograph. We have this little basket that’s been sitting on our mantle for a while now. I’m not entirely sure where it came from (and Cathy isn’t here right now for me to ask). Anyway, I took some close up pictures of it today and that’s all I have. This is the lid from the basket (which is also woven).

Actually, when I went to get them off my camera, I got a bit worried. I take the pictures from my camera and put them into directories with the date as part of their name. When I went to get pictures for July 22, there were none. I panicked briefly thinking I hadn’t taken any for today. But my computer and my camera don’t seem to be on the same page in terms of daylight saving time and the computer thought they were taken at 12:05 tomorrow morning. The time recorded by the camera within the image was correct, however, showing up as 11:05 PM today.

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Reflections

Reflections

Reflections

We had a nice long weekend away, tracking down some of Cathy’s family history. We also got to see some pretty sights, including the Delaware Water Gap, the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, three very different cemeteries, a train museum, and we even went to a coal mining museum. The Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour and Anthracite Heritage Museum were closed by the time we got there but we were able to walk around a little and saw such things as a 13,000 pound chuck of anthracite and the adit where tours go down into the old mine workings. If we’re ever back in Scranton, particularly if it’s as hot as it’s been this weekend, that should be high on our list of things to do.

This morning, I went down to breakfast early and then was back in our hotel room, doing a little writing in my journal. I opened the curtain just enough to give me a little light to work by and these four stripes appeared on the wall. The sun was reflecting off the windscreens of four cars parked outside and shining up through the hotel room window, which was covered with condensation, giving the light the speckled appearance you see here. I took this picture as an abstract, really. It has no real meaning, but I think it’s a pretty pattern.

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Union Pacific #4012

Union Pacific #4012

Union Pacific #4012

We spent today in Scranton, seeing the house where Cathy’s great, great, uncle lived and the church where his family were members. We also found family graves in two cemeteries. The highlight for Cathy, I think, was finding the death certificate (on microfilm) of her great, great grandmother in the Albright Memorial Library, which is a pretty amazing building.

After that we went to the Steamtown National Historic Site, where we enjoyed looking at old locomotives and other train cars. This is the Union Pacific’s locomotive #4012, a 4-8-8-4 Big Boy, among the largest and most powerful steam locomotives in the world. It is 132 feet, 10 inches long and with a loaded tender weights 1,189,500 pounds, yet it was capable of reaching speeds of over eighty miles per hour.

If you or your kids like trains, you could do worse than spending a half day at this place. Lots of nice equipment in the remaining portions of an old roundhouse. Recommended.

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Glitter

Glitter

Glitter

It was a slow day photographically. That happens fairly often, I suppose. This take-a-picture-a-day thing is great in theory. If I didn’t work or was able to get outdoors to different places every day, it would be a lot easier. As it is, my life isn’t all that interesting. Nine days out of ten there’s nothing of any note to photograph. Oh, taking pictures of flowers, insects, and the occasional sunset is all well and good but some days, even that doesn’t happen. So, I look around the house for something a little different. There was some glitter on the dining room table, left over from a recent baby shower (well, the ‘baby’ is 8, but whatever). So, that’s what I photographed. I like the fact that this one star-shaped piece is standing point down in the tablecloth. You can also make out the reflection of the tablecloth pattern in the center of the star.

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Shadows Of The Past

Shadows Of The Past

Shadows Of The Past

With David and Maggie in town and having had our fun outing yesterday, today was more work than play. That’s not to say we had no fun together, but we spent much of the day going through Cathy and David’s mom’s shed and throwing away old, sometimes mouse eaten papers, among many other things. There was a metal cabinet outside her kitchen door that at one time had gardening tools, a few buckets of paint, and some small bottles of pesticide, among other things. Many other things, actually. As is often the case with cabinets of this sort, it eventually became a little less organized and there were things there that were long since forgotten and which needed to be tossed. In fact, we decided that the entire cabinet was ready for the county’s metal recycling program. This is the top of one shelf. You can clearly see that there was a can of something brown, viscous, and oily, which leaked out and held some other items in place, including two small packs of fasteners, which still remain firmly attached.

I took two trips to the dump plus one before this, with some yard waste that I had loaded into the van last week. In the evening we came back to our house and I fixed grandma’s famous chicken and pilau recipes, which turned out pretty well. At least no one pushed their plates away in disgust.

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Charcoal Embers

Charcoal Embers

Charcoal Embers

I know that on the Fourth of July I should be able to come up with a better picture than this. In years past I’ve had pictures of fireworks or of people celebrating Independence Day in various ways. This year we stayed home and had a pretty low key celebration. I marinated flank steak and grilled it, along with some slices of fresh pineapple and we had our two moms over for an early dinner. It rained pretty hard and we never really even considered going out to see fireworks. After dinner, I took some pictures of the leftover ashes and embers in the hibachi, but that’s about it. Maybe we’ll do something more exciting next year (but you won’t put any money on it, if you are wise).

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210,000 Miles

Chrysler Town and Country, 210,000 Miles

Chrysler Town and Country, 210,000 Miles

Our 2000 Chrysler Town and Country reached 210,000 miles today, which is a milestone, I suppose. It happened to get there as I pulled into my office parking lot so I took a picture. Actually, I the mileage was 209,999 when I pulled into the lot and I took a picture of that before driving around my building a couple times to click it over to 210,000.

I should say, we have two minivans and this is our low-mileage van. The other is a 2007 and has a little over 240,000. Lately I’ve been alternating driving the two of them, one week for one, then a week in the other. Once it really gets hot, though, this one will get less use, as the air conditioning isn’t working. But lately it hasn’t been too bad.

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Rockville Town Square

Rockville Town Square

Rockville Town Square

I met my family in Rockville Town Square this evening for what we have taken to calling TND (Thursday Night Dinner). We met at Gordon Biersch but I got there a little early and took a few pictures in the square before heading over to the restaurant. This was taken from the stage, with the camera sitting on the edge of the stage and with a slightly long shutter speed to get some blur into the water (1/13 sec. at f/16.0). I think I should have lightened it up a bit more, but it’s not terrible. Anyway, that’s where I was this evening.

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Wooden Dog Toothpick Holder

Wooden Dog Toothpick Holder

Wooden Dog Toothpick Holder

Okay, how about a break from flowers and other pictures from the yard? Well, we don’t have any choice because I didn’t take any pictures outside today. I was in the kitchen and I saw this little, carved, wooden dog toothpick holder and though I’d take his picture. It’s a nice little thing that is mostly unnoticed in our kitchen but sometimes I like to celebrate the little things. We don’t actually use toothpicks that often, but when we do (when serving hors d’oeuvres, for instance) we really need to put this little fellow out.

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Picnics

Watermelon

Watermelon

Today started out quite warm and steamy. I did some heavy yard work (cut a dead branch from a maple tree, about 25 feet up the trunk) and was exhausted by the work combined with the humid heat. In the afternoon, however, a front came through and it cooled off and the air became much drier. After church we had a picnic in the shade behind the building and it was one of those perfect evenings we sometimes have in June. High 70s, breezy, clear, and wonderful. The company and the food contributed to the mood, of course.

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Rose ‘New Dawn’

Rose ‘New Dawn’

Rose ‘New Dawn’

The Rose ‘New Dawn’ against my back fence has come into bloom. Looking back at prior years, my pictures of this rose have all been in the first week of June but that doesn’t mean it’s actually blooming much earlier this year (June starts tomorrow, after all). I had to cut this rose back hard this spring and actually need to take it out completely. it has become infected with rose rosette disease, which is caused by a virus (Emaravirus sp.) that is spread by a very small, eriophyid mite. There is no cure once a rose is infected and the rose must be destroyed to prevent the virus from being spread to other plants. So, this will be the last ‘New Dawn’ in my yard, at least for a while. Sad, as it’s such a lovely flower and blooms off and on all summer.

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Gordon Woods

Gordon Woods

Gordon Woods

We drove up to Gordon to pick up Dorothy today. We had heavy traffic getting around Boston (as expected) but otherwise had an uneventful 9 hour drive. shortly after we got there we went for a walk to Gull Pond and then on from there to Round Pond. This picture is from where we turned around, in the woods around Round Pond (which isn’t round).

I love the quality of the light and especially the colors in the reflection on the water. It was a very beautiful, clear sky day and of course better for us being with Dorothy again. Shortly after I took this, there was a big splash in the pond and we all looked to see what had caused it. An osprey had caught a fish about 25 yards from where we were.

After our walk, we enjoyed hanging out with a few of Dorothy’s friends and taking most of her things from her dorm room to the van. A long day—we left home at 6:15 a.m. and got to our hotel after 11:00 p.m.—but a good one.

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Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

The spiderwort (Tradescantia) is starting to bloom. This is a great plant to put in your garden if you want something that blooms well into the summer, is very tough and hardy, and that won’t run wild as many tough and hardy perennials seem to do. This will spread but slowly enough that it’s easy to keep up with. It’s also lovely both in and out of flower, although it’s the deep blue (or sometimes pink or purple) flowers that are its real attraction. These are the first flowers we have so far and this plant is in a particularly warm place, right by the west side of our house.

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Wedding Arch

Wedding Arch Construction Team

Wedding Arch Construction Team

Iris and Seth are getting married in a few short weeks. They chose to get married at ‘the farm’ in Pennsylvania and one thing Iris wanted was an arch or gateway like one she saw on Pinterest. If you search for ‘wedding arch’ there you will see hundreds (thousands?) of different arches made of a very wide variety of materials and decorated in an even wider array of materials. This is the one Iris liked and wanted us to reproduce. The wood was bought last year from a local saw mill and has been outside weathering since then. Today, we erected the gateway. It is not decorated yet, of course, but the heavy lifting (and I mean that literally) is done. From left to right in the picture are yours truly, Dot, Tsai-Hong, Ralph, Seth, Iris (with Bean), and Steve (with D’Argo).

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Toad Eye

Toad Eye

Toad Eye

I’m somewhat fascinated by eyes in general and by the eyes of frogs, toads, and other amphibians in particular. We were at the Elwood Smith community center in Rockville today because our church was meeting there (the church where we normally meet is having renovations done). As we unloaded the sound equipment from Marc’s truck, Chris noticed this toad (which I assume is an eastern American toad​ (​Anaxyrus americanus americanus, in family Bufonidae, the True Toads). Not surprising to anyone who has been around me in such a situation, I got out my camera and took some pictures. The eyes, in particular, drew me in. I think they are quite beautiful. Yes, even on a toad.

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Redbud and Forsythia

Redbud and Forsythia

Redbud and Forsythia

We went for a walk along Lake Frank again today, shortly after noon. I got a few pictures of a female eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) but is wasn’t all that great of a picture, so I’m not posting that here. I also took a picture of the first mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) we’ve seen and some marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris). As we left the park and headed back into the neighborhood I took this picture of redbud flowers with a background of forsythia (Cercis canadensis and Forsythia × intermedia).

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Fight

Cassandra (right) With Her Parents

Cassandra (right) With Her Parents

Our friend (well, Dorothy’s friend but I think she can be our friend, too) Cassandra had a show in Gallery Edit in Richmond this evening. We’ve known it was coming up and this morning as I was driving to work I thought, maybe we should drive down and see it. It would be nice to get out and even though I made the not-so-fun drive to down interstate 95 to Richmond last week, I was up for it again. Also, we wanted to show Cassandra our support. So Cathy picked me up at work at about 2:15 and we headed down, taking about 3 hours 15 minutes to make what could be a 2 hour trip. But we also got to have dinner from Alamo BBQ with dessert from Proper Pie Co. That’s a treat even without the art. This photo is from shortly after we arrived, as the gallery was just opening, and Cassandra was visiting with her parents, who had also come to see her work (and her). Definitely worth the drive (and coming home took the correct 2 hours).

In case you are wondering, the title of this post, ‘Fight’, is the title of her exhibit. It really has very little to do with this photo (i.e., no one is fighting in the picture).

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Ethan And A Chicken

Ethan And  A Chicken

Ethan And A Chicken

We were at Laurie and Dave’s this evening for our bi-weekly Bible study and prayer meeting. Ben and Erin came with three of their kids, Grace, Ethan, and Hope. They enjoyed chasing the chickens in the back yard and Ethan was able to catch one. He had it long enough for me to get a few pictures, including this one, which I think is pretty good.

Ethan seems to be settling in quite well and getting along with his siblings. Of course any change like this is going to be an adjustment and will continue to present them all with challenges but we’re so happy it’s been reasonably smooth so far.

Keeping chickens in a suburban setting seems to be something of a thing these days. I don’t know how long Laurie and Dave have been keeping them but I suspect it’s been longer than it’s been a thing. They certainly are not your average, hipster couple. No, definitely above average.

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Easter Sunrise Service

Easter Sunrise Service

Easter Sunrise Service

It’s been a very nice weekend so far and Easter Sunday was nice, as well. For a few years now we’ve been going to the Fourth Presbyterian Church sunrise service at 6:00 a.m. on Easter. We woke up at about 5:00 and got there just as the service was starting. Of course it’s still dark when the service starts but by the end the sky has begun to turn an amazingly deep blue (which is when I took this picture).

After the service we went to the upper room for breakfast and to chat with folks that we don’t see nearly enough. I especially enjoyed talking with Greg, Aimee, and Michael, among others. We also went to the 8:00 a.m. service in the sanctuary, their regular early service. Easter music is among my favorite, generally better than Christmas music in my opinion, and Easter music at Fourth is particularly good, being accompanied by an orchestra. Today that included singing Christ The Lord Is Risen Today, Thine Is The Glory, (both of which we also sang outside earlier) and the service ending Hallelujah Chorus.

It’s a very good way to start an Easter celebration that really continued all day for us.

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Japanese Garden — Maymont

Japanese Garden — Maymont

Japanese Garden — Maymont

It was a longish day today. I went to work in the morning and got a few things done. A friend brought her two children to work (because it’s spring break) and I was able to get a few nice pictures of them. Shortly after that Dorothy came and the two of us drove down to Richmond, Virginia. Traffic was pretty horrible but we finally got there. I dropped Dorothy off with a couple friends and went off to spend some time seeing things by myself.

I started at Maymont, a 100-acre, municipal park that was the estate of James and Sallie Dooley, which they began building in 1893. It is on a very hilly site and quite varied. There is an Italian garden near the top of the hill and a steep walk down from there to the Japanese garden, which features a number of connected pools, large evergreen and flowering trees, and the waterfall pictured here. There are also some wildlife exhibits and a fairly broad collection of farm animal.

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Rusty Chain

Rusty Chain

Rusty Chain

After work and before I drove home I walked around outside my office a little, looking for things to photograph. It’s spring and leaves are starting to appear all over. The maple trees are in full bloom and that gives the trees a beautiful red glow, particularly when the sun is shining on them. There hasn’t been much of a change to the oaks yet, but they tend to come a little later.

One thing that caught my eye this afternoon, however, was the dumpster in our parking lot. I posted a picture of a rust spot on it the other day (see Rust Feather, Thursday, March 10, 2016) but today I noticed this chain is attached to a door on the end of the dumpster. I like the lines in this photo, particularly the arcs made by the chain as it swings, presumably when the dumpster is in transit (it doesn’t move much on its own and it would take a pretty significant wind to blow this chain around). Anyway, I like it.

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Ceramic Face

Ceramic Face

Ceramic Face

Many (very many) years ago, I don’t really know how many, this face came into being. It’s a ceramic face, specifically stoneware, colored with iron oxide to give it a more (but not necessarily a lot more) realistic coloration. The eyes are particularly poorly done, but they certainly give the idea of eyes. The hair is pretty special, having been made by pushing clay through a garlic press. It’s very thick hair, I admit, but immediately recognizable. The nose is reasonable but the mouth, which is just out of the frame here, is not good at all. Could I do better now? I like to think so. Should I try? Maybe I should stick to my day job.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Repair

Samsung Galaxy S4 Repair

Samsung Galaxy S4 Repair

A little while ago Cathy started having problems with her phone. We think it started when she tripped over the cord that it was plugged into. Anyway, it would not charge when the phone was turned on and charged slowly when it was turned off. Furthermore, when it was connected to a computer, it never showed up, so we couldn’t copy pictures and videos off of it to clear up storage.

After doing a little searching and trying a few things that were suggested on various web sites, I ended up ordering a new part, a replacement charging port. It came this week and this morning I installed it in the phone. I took a few pictures of the process, more for my own edification than anything else. It’s not that hard to do although getting the new part in takes a little minor fiddling. Anyway, the old part is on the upper right and the replacement on the upper left in this picture. The replacement is upside down, showing the white plastic strips that are protecting the adhesive on the back of the circuit board.

The phone charges now, whether or not it is turned on. Also it can be seen by our computer, so I was able to clear things off of the phone. But the microphone isn’t working properly. I need to open it up again and take a look at that. The speaker phone microphone works, but not the regular microphone. Small but significant issue.

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Rust Feather

Rust Feather

Rust Feather

It was such a beautiful day today and I had gotten to work a little early. So, I decided to leave a little early as well and spend a few minutes taking pictures around my building. I walked in the woods and took pictures of tree leaves sprouting on a few trees as well as some other assorted pictures. Back in the parking lot I noticed the rust stains on the outside of a large dumpster that’s been parked in our lot for a long while now (to support construction that seems to be going on forever inside). Most of them are surrounding places where the metal has been struck and bent, particularly from the inside. This one reminded me of a feather.

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Afghan Gun Barrel Inlay

Afghan Gun Barrel Inlay

Afghan Gun Barrel Inlay

I’ve been meaning to take pictures of this for a while now and today was the day I finally got around to it. Cathy’s parents have a few old muskets from Afghanistan. One of them had detailed inlay on the barrel as well as mother of pearl inlay on the stock. The metal work on the barrel is my favorite part of the gun, however. I couldn’t get a picture of all of it without the actual details being way too small to make out, so I decided to post this close up shot. There is some Persian writing on the barrel, as well, also inlaid in brass (I assume it’s brass, anyway). I asked a friend what it said and he translated it as “Made by Fateh Khan, son of Sher Muhammad Khan Babakarkhel.”

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Paperweight

Paperweight

Paperweight

We’ve been at Cathy’s mom’s a bunch lately and this morning the sun was shining through her living room window onto a table covered with a wide variety of paperweights. Many of them are glass while others are metal or stone. This is a glass paperweight, but I guess that’s obvious. In addition to the colored glass stripes on it, there are embedded bubbles, which are really pretty in the direct sunlight. It’s hard to see in this picture, but I particularly liked the way the bubbles acted as lenses, showing the other paperweights on the table.

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Light Snowfall

Light Snowfall

Light Snowfall

It’s early March so it’s certainly too early in the year to be thinking that we are done with snow for the winter. Today we got a light fall of snow. It wasn’t enough to affect traffic particularly and in fact it didn’t stick to the pavement at all. By early afternoon it was pretty much gone entirely. But it was quite pretty this morning, sticking to all the branches of trees and bushes. I guess I’m looking forward to the flowers of spring and to the bees and insects of summer but I’m not particularly looking forward to the heat that accompanies them. But you cannot have one without the other.

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Boy and Water Buffalo

Boy and Water Buffalo

Boy and Water Buffalo

We spent much of the day at Suburban Hospital today but were finally able to get someone to sign release papers and we came home to Cathy’s mom’s house at about 2:30. I fixed dinner and we decided we should spend the night here. That meant that I needed to find something to photograph here for this little blog of mine. In the dining room, on a sideboard, is this little figurine of a water buffalo with a boy sitting on its back, playing on a flute. I’ve always liked this little pair of creatures, with the buffalo half submerged in the wood-like water of the sideboard.

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Mouse Trap

Mouse Trap

Mouse Trap

I’ve just put down two mouse traps. Cathy and I were watching the TV this evening and all of a sudden Cathy started screaming. Well, not quite screaming but close. To the right of the TV, climbing on the bricks around the fire place, was a fairly large and quite healthy looking mouse. There he was, bold as you please. I’ve been aware that we have mice for a while and I bought some traps a few weeks ago but hadn’t put them out. I have now. I’m using peanut butter as bait and we’ll see how it goes. I’ve had mice that could take peanut butter off traps without tripping them, but generally the trap wins.

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US Flag Through The Trees

US Flag Through The Trees

US Flag Through The Trees

On my way home most days, when I take the shortest route home rather, I pass a Chevrolet dealer that flies this large American Flag. Some days, when there is no wind, it’ hangs down along the pole. Other days it is more active. Today, there was a fairly stiff breeze and it stood out proudly from the pole. As I sat at the traffic light, I enjoyed watching it move in the wind and I decided I’d take a few pictures. It’s a fairly long light, so I had plenty of time.

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Fire Truck, Rockville

Fire Truck, Rockville

Fire Truck, Rockville

After work today I was in Rockville Town Center to meet up with some guys at Gordon Biersch. After I parked, I was walking around a bit, taking a few pictures before heading to the restaurant. When I saw this fire truck turn the corner onto Maryland Avenue I decided to snap a couple pictures. I didn’t have a lot of time to adjust my camera so I snapped at whatever settings were already dialed in, meaning this was taken at 1/20th of a second at f/5.6. Not ideal and it shows in the camera motion. But it did serve the purpose of blurring the moving fire truck nicely. Note that it didn’t actually have lights flashing or siren wailing, so it may have simply been heading back to its station, the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, at 380 Hungerford Drive.

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Minor Snowstorm

Californian incense-cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) in Snow

Californian incense-cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) in Snow

We had a minor snow storm today (Monday). It’s Washington’s Birthday, which is a federal and local holiday for many people so it didn’t affect school today. Tomorrow is another matter and since I’m writing this on Wednesday, I happen to know they cancelled school, probably unnecessarily. It wasn’t really a bad storm and by the end of the day we had 2¾″ on the ground.

It has been quite cold for more than a couple days, with highs below freezing so the ground was cold enough that the snow began accumulating immediately. There was less than an inch when I got up this morning. I noticed that the water level in our bird bath was fairly low, lower than it had been yesterday (an not frozen because of a heater). There were tracks in the newly fallen snow that might have been from a fox. We saw the fox over the weekend, so we know he (or she) is in the area. I cleared a path to the bird bath with a broom instead of a shovel, and filled it. This was about the time the snow stopped falling and I measured it at that point. I also took a few pictures, including this one of the snow in one of three Californian incense-cedar trees (Calocedrus decurrens) that I planted along the back fence.

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Another Museum Outing

Cathy and Dot in 'Shindig' by Patrick Dougherty

Cathy and Dot in Shindig by Patrick Dougherty

On our Annual Museum Outing (Tuesday, December 29, 2015), Dorothy, Karlee, and I visited the newly reopened Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and I posted quite a few pictures from that outing. Cathy was quite busy at work, as she usually is before and for a while after year-end. Because of that she was not able to join us for that trip. Today Cathy and I braved the cold February weather and along with my mom (Dot) we went to the Renwick. I’ve picked some pictures that I hope are enough different to those I posted last time. But of course they will be similar.

It the first picture, Cathy and Dot are posing in Shindig by Patrick Dougherty, who weaves “enormous pods that offer discovery and sanctuary to visitors“ with “willow osiers and saplings.”

Detail of 'Plexus A1' by Gabriel Dawe

Detail of Plexus A1 by Gabriel Dawe

Our favorite room is the second one, which features an installation called Plexus A1 by Gabriel Dawe. It is made from hundreds of thin, colored threads stretched between hooks on the floor and on the ceiling. In addition to the beautifly rainbow colors, we found the interference patterns of the threads quite lovely. here the red threads in the foreground come together and let the yellow and green show through more clearly in a narrow band that moves up and down as you move along. For anyone interested, from each hook, there appear to be 24 threads running up to the ceiling (or 12 loops over the hook). This took a little time and probably a serious amount of patience.

'In the Midnight Garden' by Jennifer Angus

In the Midnight Garden by Jennifer Angus

My second favorite room, although not to everyone’s liking, is In the Midnight Garden by Jennifer Angus. Otherwise known as “the bug room.” My photo last time was a detail of a skull, made up predominately of electric blue beetles from New Guneau (from the genus Eupholus for which you should do a Google image search, seriously). This time, I’m giving you a more overall view of the room, so you can see all the patterns the artist, who is a textile artist (along with being into bugs).

National Gallery of Art Rotunda

National Gallery of Art Rotunda

We saw all the exhibits, of course, and I took over 200 pictures, so this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. From the Renwick we went to the National Gallery of Art because we wanted to see an exhibit called “Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World.” If you have the slightest interest in Greek history, in sculpture, or art in general, I highly recommend this exhibit, which will be at the National Gallery through March 20 (so go soon).

I think my favorites in the collection are a Medallion with Athena and Medusa, 200 – 150 BC, from the Archaeological Museum, in Thessaloniki; a Portrait of a Man, c. 100 BC from the National Archaeological Museum, in Athens; and the Portrait of a Poet (“Arundel Head”), c. 200 – 1 BC; from the British Museum, London. Don’t be tempted to look for pictures and leave it at that. They are much more beautiful in person.

As is usual for these special exhibits, photography is not allowed, so I don’t have a picture to show you. Instead you will have to settle for another picture of the gallery’s rotunda.

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Magnetic Balls

Magnetic Balls

Magnetic Balls

A few years back these were a real hit at Christmas time. I bought three sets of 216 balls each (they came in a cube with 63 balls). One set was colored but the coloring has mostly come off them all and they are plain steel colored balls now. They are not steel, however, being made of neodymium. You will find neodymium on the periodic table of elements with the symbol Nd and atomic number 60. It is one of the lanthanide elements, often referred to as rare earth metals, although neodymium isn’t actually particularly rare. The magnets are actually an alloy of neodymium, iron, and boron (Nd2Fe14B). Shortly after I bought them for Christmas, they were taken off the market because they are dangerous if swallowed, particularly if two are swallowed separately. If two stick together with a fold of intestine between them, it can be very serious (seriously bad).

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Watching Super Bowl 50

Watching Super Bowl 50

Watching Super Bowl 50

We had a longish day today, leaving Greensboro at about 7:45 and driving home, pulling in at 1:30 after going almost exactly 300 miles. Traffic was quite light, for which I was extremely grateful, and we had no problems on the way. I didn’t have long to rest after getting home, because I had a church leadership meeting at 2:00 and then church at 4:00. By the time we were home again, the Super Bowl had already started.

Because we don’t have cable and our meager antenna only really picks up NBC and Fox, we couldn’t watch the game on our television. Fortunately, in this internet age, the game was being streamed on the CBS Sports web site and we were able to watch in on that. Our computer monitor is small compared to many new television sets but at 21 inches, it isn’t all that much smaller than our old, 1986 television. The picture is quite a bit better.

This picture was taken towards the end of the game (3:13 on the clock) and pretty much sums up the action. Referee Clete Blakeman is announcing yet another penalty against the Carolina Panthers.

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Fog

Fog

Fog

When I left work today I was thinking that there might be a bit of fog. Most of the way home, however, there was none. When I got to Norbeck Road, though, all of a sudden, there was fog. Dense fog. From Gude Drive through Baltimore Road, it was quite dense. Traffic stopped a few times in that stretch (as it often does) and I grabbed a few pictures, including this one that shows reasonably well how foggy it was.

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Fog In The Woods

Fog In The Woods

Fog In The Woods

In general, the view along my commute to and from work is pretty unexciting. There isn’t much in the way of pretty scenery and almost no real vistas to get excited about. On the other hand, it’s only about a 15 minute commute, and I really cannot complain. This time of year, though, especially when there is snow on the ground and it is a bit rainy, we sometimes have fog. There is a stretch of my commute, a little less than a mile, where there are woods on along one side (and a shorter stretch where the woods are on both sides). There are a few places along that bit of roadway where the view into the woods isn’t obscured by bushes or a steep bank. This afternoon, as I was coming home, I pulled over onto the shoulder to take a few pictures of the woods. I love how the copper colored leaves of the beech trees stand out against the dark trees and the pale light on the fog in the woods.

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Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

As I post this, much of the snow that fell two weeks ago is gone. But this picture is from last Sunday (relative to when I’m writing it), January 31. There was still quite a bit covering most everything all around. Our bird bath heater had become unplugged (the weight of the snow on the cord pulled it out of the socket) but I plugged it back in and it became an attractive destination for birds and squirrels. I’m not an expert on birds so I asked my brother to identify this sparrow. He’s pretty sure it’s a song sparrow (Melospiza melodia). Anyway, it was taking advantage of the open water and seemed to be enjoying itself splashing around.

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Limited Parking

Limited Parking

Limited Parking

Cathy and I worked from home yesterday, although we could have gotten out without any trouble. We figured we might as well, since we could. Also, I needed to shovel the sidewalk from our driveway to the front door. We have been going in and out through the garage, which is fine, but at some point, it’s nice to have the front door back. Today we went to the office and with the exception of two lanes covered with huge piles of snow at Gude Drive and MD 355, we didn’t have any trouble. The parking lot at work still needs a lot of attention. As you can see, the spaces on the right are only about half way cleared. That’s where I usually park, but not today.

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Snow

Snow

Snow

Cathy and I could actually get out of our neighborhood today, which puts us ahead of much of our neighborhood. For the most part, it’s only the primary neighborhood arteries that have even seen a plow. Our street was cleared by someone how lives near by who only did it to rescue a vehicle of his that was stranded in our neighbor’s driveway. Nevertheless, we worked from home today, mostly because we could and the roads still need a lot of work. We took a nice walk in the evening to Bauer and Norbeck. The outbound walk was on cleared roads. Coming back, we trudged through snow up to our knees, which was tiring work, but we enjoyed seeing things buried in snow. I really like shadows on snow and the patterns cut into the snow by wind. That’s what this is, the surface of the snow near the local elementary school, sculpted by the wind.

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A Bit of Snow

Cathy, Waist Deep In Snow

Cathy, Waist Deep In Snow

When I got up this morning there was just about 20 inches of snow on the ground, give or take an inch depending on where I measured. The wind was blowing it around a fair amount and while there weren’t many drifts in the yard, there were around any large object (car, house, tree, that sort of thing). I shoveled about half way down the drive but of course much of that work will need to be repeated tomorrow, once it stops snowing.

In the early afternoon we went for a short walk out to Norbeck Road. Our street hasn’t been plowed although something had driving down it and there were two large tire tracks we could walk in. The main road through the neighborhood had been plowed once but still had quite a bit of snow on it. We managed to get out to Norbeck, which was quite passable, if you could get to it (which I don’t think we could, even in our four-wheel-drive vehicle.

But it was nice to get out. Of course, after an hour or so in the snow, particularly on the way back when the wind was in our faces, it was even nicer to get indoors again. We did stop to enjoy watching our neighbor kids sledding on a hill their dad had made with a picnic table and piled snow. It wasn’t Vail or Stowe but for little kids, it was just about perfect.

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Snow Flurry

Snow on Monarda

Snow on Monarda

We had our first snow of 2016 today. It wasn’t much to speak of. It came down fairly hard for a while but was more pretty than annoyance. The ground wasn’t cold enough and it didn’t snow long enough for much to accumulate, except where it was kept away from the ground by plants, etc. I went out in the yard and took quite a few pictures. Snow is tricky to photograph because your camera’s exposure sensor wants to make your photo a middle grey while most snow scenes are much brighter than that. So, you have to override the camera. Then, if you make the dark things in the scene a proper exposure, the snow loses it’s texture and detail. In this photo, snow flakes have accumulated on a seed head of beebalm (Monarda didyma).

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Frost

Frost

Frost

It was cool this morning, below freezing but not bitterly cold. Yesterday morning it was 24°F when I got up north of Boston and it didn’t get above freezing all day. Today the forecast is for a high well into the 40s if not up to 50°F. But it was cool when I went out and there was a good coating of frost on the windscreen of the van. Before I turned on the heat and started the process of clearing it off, I pulled out my camera and took a few pictures.

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Home For The Challahdays

Home For The Challahdays

Home For The Challahdays

It’s a sort of stale joke, I suppose and it certainly isn’t original, but I couldn’t resist. Dorothy was home for the challahdays and we really enjoyed having her here. Of course, having her here means getting used to having her gone again when she goes back to school.

Well, that’s today. We left home at 5:40, met Peter and Porter and loaded Porter’s things into the car and by 6:15 or so we were on our way to the North Shore of Massachusetts. It’s about 480 miles and a little more than half way is the Rockland Bakery. I have posted pictures from there before, on August 23 and again on October 04, 2015. If you are ever in the area around Nanuet, New York (just west of the Tappen Zee Bridge) then I recommend you stop in for a visit. The bagels by themselves are worth the effort, if you can get them as they come out of the oven, so hot you can barely hold them.

I brought cream cheese as well deli meat and sliced cheese for making sandwiches and we made a late lunch at about 2:30, after we arrived at the school.

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My Eye

My Right Eye

My Right Eye

Some of you know that I’ve had some eye problems over the last seven and a half years. About seven years ago I had cataract surgery in my right eye (pictured here). Then in 2014 I had the left eye done. Both procedures went well but in both cases I tore my retina in the weeks following the surgery and had to have a laser procedure to ensure my retina didn’t detach. I had another follow-up appointment with the retina specialist today and for the first time since 2009 I don’t have a follow-up scheduled. I’ll only go back now if I have any further problems. At the bottom of my eye in this picture you can see the edge of the lens that was implanted in my eye.

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Getting A Head

Ceramic Doll's Head

Ceramic Doll’s Head

Dorothy has been home and today she was going through a bunch of stuff. For one thing, she went through a huge number of pens, both felt tip and ball point, and got rid of those that didn’t work. It’s always frustrating to need a pen and not be able to find one that works. The odds are now much more in your favor if you need a pen when you are at our house. She also started to go through papers from middle and high school and got rid of a lot of those. One thing she found, and I have no idea where it came from, is this head. It is made of ceramics and I thought it would make an interesting photo for today.

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Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps

Cathy made my favorite cookies today. Ginger Snaps. That isn’t to say that I don’t like other cookies, of course, and if I only ever had ginger snaps, I’d probably miss other types, but these are, I think the cookies I like best. They are especially good when warm out of the oven, as almost all things are, but they are also good after they have cooled and are slightly hard, with that characteristic crunch (or snap, if you will).

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CT Scanner

CT Scanner

CT Scanner

I started the day off right with a visit to the radiologist’s this morning. There’s nothing like a CT Scan to get you going. Well, I suppose that’s maybe overstating it a little. But I did have a CT Scan today. All is well, so don’t worry (if you even thought to worry in the first place). This is just keeping an eye on things and things seem to be fine. I snapped a couple pictures of the scanner after we were done and as the images were being copied onto a CD for me to take with me. This machine always looks like an enormous point-and-shoot camera to me (e.g. Canon Powershot E1).

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Unique Thrift Store

Unique Thrift Store

Unique Thrift Store

Cathy and I went to the Unique Thrift Store this morning to buy a few things. In addition to good bargains, we enjoy it as a cultural experience. There is a store that specializes in clothes and accessories for Latino parties in general and Quinceañera in particular. I particularly like the shelves with rank upon rank of figurines dressed in their quince-best. The varying colors along with the otherwise identical postures and features make for interesting patterns.

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Two Puzzles

Hubble's Galaxy Puzzle and Kepler's Planetary Puzzle

Hubble’s Galaxy Puzzle and Kepler’s Planetary Puzzle

Cathy gave me these two puzzles for my birthday. I do enjoy puzzles and these were quite nice. The first that I tried, on the right, was labeled as Kepler’s Planetary Puzzle. Apparently it is more properly known as a Chuck puzzle, invented in 1897 by Edward Nelson. It is a form of Burr puzzle, a three-dimensional puzzle of interlocking pieces, often made of wood. This was a bit tricky but I managed to get it back together in about a half hour. The second, on the left, was labeled as Hubble’s Galaxy Puzzle and that took me a little longer. It took nearly an hour, with the first 45 minutes or so being trial and error (mostly error). Once I figured it out, it took another 15 minutes or so to actually get all the pieces together.

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Boiling Eggs

Boiling Eggs

Boiling Eggs

I happened to be hard boiling a few eggs this evening and as I watched the water boil I realized how cool it looks (cool in a hot sort of way). The rolling bubbles, bursting, sending spouts of water up into the air, was just beautiful. But it all happens very fast. So, I pulled out my camera and took some flash pictures, easily freezing the boiling water. I think there’s more to be done here, but this is a reasonable first attempt.

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Foggy Morning

Foggy Morning

Foggy Morning

It was quite foggy this morning as I drove to work. There were a few times on the way in where I would have liked to take a few pictures but there was nowhere convenient to stop the car, so I kept going. When I got to work, though, I walked around a bit and took some pictures of the trees in the fog, which was starting to lift. This photo was taken looking across the road behind my office with a nearby tree backed up by woods in the fog in the distance.

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Montecristo

Montecristo

Montecristo

I like neon signs. I’m not sure what it is about them. Perhaps it’s the intense colors in the dark. Perhaps it’s the flowing lines of the glass tubing. In any case, whether or not I know why I like them, I do.

This evening I was in a parking lot and took pictures of a few neon signs. One simply said, “open” but I thought this one was nicer. I particularly like the “font” used, especially in the letter M. Montecristo, in this case, refers to the cigar company.

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Dorothy at Rocky Islands, Potomac River, Maryland

Dorothy at Rocky Islands, Potomac River, Maryland

Dorothy at Rocky Islands, Potomac River, Maryland

It’s been really nice to have Dorothy home, even if only for a few days. It wasn’t a particularly promising day, weather-wise, today, but Cathy, Dorothy, and I took a chance and went to Great Falls late this morning. We were not alone and it was fairly crowded, at least for late November. Still, we had a great time, walking out to the overlook on Falls Island and then climbing up and over the rocks on Rocky Islands, below the falls. This is from a place we call Sandy Beach, looking towards the north end of Rocky Islands.

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Baby’s Great Turtle Adventure

Baby's Great Turtle Adventure

Baby’s Great Turtle Adventure

If you’ve been following my photo blog, then you’ve met Baby before. In fact, he was in a photo just a couple days ago, along with his new friends, Mr. Beaver and Mrs. Schnauzer. Baby came from Chinatown in New York City, where Dorothy found him. As I mentioned the other day, he travels with Cathy, riding in the bottom of her purse, but getting out to pose for pictures in various locations. Mostly those pictures go to Cathy’s Snapchat friends but once in a while they show up on Instagram. This outing, however, was a bit more adventurous. Baby paid a visit to Fluffy, a red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). He hesitated to actually go swimming with Fluffy, however.

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