I went across campus for a meeting today and on the way back, I walked around the building once to take a few pictures. I came across this black walnut that has been pushed down into a crack in the pavement. I think it’s really kind of pretty. In case you aren’t sure, the pavement is wet. Our weather has definitely warmed up (it was over 60°F today) but it’s very wet out. Tomorrow the rain is supposed to be gone but the temperatures are supposed to drop back to freezing and then colder into next week.
It was a mostly grey day today. It’s still cool but it’s supposed to warm up for a few days. It’s also supposed to rain, so we’ll finally have temperatures above 60°F but wet. On the way home, I was sitting at the light and the large American flag at the Ourisman Rockmont Chevrolet car lot was blowing in the wind. The wind was coming out of the southeast, which is a little unusual so it was blowing farther behind the trees. Usually it’s blowing to the right, out from the trees.
Now that Cathy’s mom has moved in with us, we needed to integrate her computer into our home network. The small office just inside our front door (and now just outside her bedroom) is where my computer has been for over a year and where Cathy’s has been since the construction started towards the end of October. Now Margaret’s computer is here, as well. By the time I’m writing this, on January 14), the table is gone from the middle of the room and it’s much easier to walk around. My computer and the printer is to my right, along with a tall bookcase. We need to put a few pictures up on the walls, but it’s coming together.
Note the juxtaposition of this pack of tissues with the humorous message and the somewhat creepy heart with a little doll’s head on it. This was intentional, of course. Cathy came across these two things at her mom’s house recently and decided they needed to go together. So, they are in our powder room. I don’t know that it’s true, of course. I think the number of people who both know us and think we’re a nice, normal family is vanishingly small. But who wants to be normal, anyway?
Today was phase one of “The Move”. We’ve been so long getting to this point that it was a little anticlimactic. Well, maybe. It was still a big day. It went very smoothly, though, largely due to the overwhelming support of those who came and carried and organized and directed. I really didn’t do a lot other than drive the truck, which is about at my pay grade. This was only part one of the actual moving process and really only one phase of many. Nevertheless, thank you to everyone who came out to help on this cool January day.
Back on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 I posted a photo titled “Lectern Eagle’s Talons” which was a portion of a wooden lectern carved in the shape of an eagle. This is the head of the eagle, which unfortunately has a chipped beak. There is also a large crack across the breast of the bird, but that adds character more than anything. Otherwise, it’s in pretty good shape. There was, at one time, a brass plaque (I’m assuming brass) which probably said who paid for the lectern or something of that sort. There really needs to be a small set of steps behind this, so you can get up high enough to read from it, as the whole things is well over six feel tall.
It’s finally become what I would call cold. When it gets down into the single digits (Fahrenheit) I’m liable to wear a sweater. So, I wore a light one for my commute. I left it on for the walk across campus to a meeting. A lot of folks are complaining about the temperature in my office building but for me, it was too warm to leave my sweater on. The car windows were all frosted this morning and a few times while stopped at traffic lights, I took pictures of the frost on the passenger side window.
We’ve been going through boxes recently, throwing away old papers, etc. and Cathy came across a small box full of random, foreign coins. We started sorting them and by the time we were done, we had envelopes marked with more than 40 country names from Afghanistan to Venezuela. Most of the coins are from the 1960s but there were a few older coins, like the one with George the Sixth. The coin on the left with an eagle under a sunrise is a 2 Afghani coin from 1961 (۱۳٤۰, 1340 in the Solar Hejira calendar). I see Pakistan, France, Brazil, Vietnam, Peru, West Germany and Great Britain, as well as a 2 Euro coin at the top edge of the photo (the bi-colored coin).
We had a light snowfall overnight. The forecast is for clear or mostly clear skies for a while so we aren’t likely to get more but the forecast is also for relatively cool temperatures for the next week or so, probably below 20°F for the duration and getting well down into the single digits. I’ll probably need to wear a sweater one or two days this week. These footprints are on the back step, just outside our kitchen door. We have a birdbath with a heater in it that keeps the water from freezing, so birds are never in short supply this time of year, particularly when it gets to cold.
Cathy was going through some boxes of small objects this evening and among other things, she found a bunch of super balls. I’ve always loved super balls and they are a real fixture of my childhood. What I didn’t know is that I was among the first generation to enjoy these highly bouncy balls. On August 25, 1965, Norman Stingley filed a patent for what he called a “Highly Resilient Polybutadiene Ball” (patent number 3,241,834, issued March 22, 1966). The Super Ball® was sold by Wham-O® and was an instant success. I know my brothers and I got many hours of enjoyment from them. They are made of a synthetic rubber called Zectron® that is primarily polybutadiene molded under high pressure and heat. All I knew as a kid was they really could bounce.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Home Depot this evening after dinner. We went to pick out a couple colors of paint for the living room. In case you don’t know our living room, three walls are white and the fourth, the end opposite the entrance, is painted a somewhat ugly green. The crown and base molding and the molding around the entrances and windows matches that wall. Likewise, the curtains are a similar green with large box valances at the top. The plan is to pain the one non-white wall some new color and also to paint he molding a different color. We decided on a blue color for the wall and a fairly bright white for the trim. That, plus replacing the curtains should transform the room. This photo, which looks a little like chairs in a stadium, are color sample cards.
We went over to Cathy’s mom’s house this afternoon and set up her Peruvian Creche in her living room. If you look closely (and you don’t need to look that hard) you might notice some less traditional visitors to the manger this year. That’s completely appropriate if not historically accurate. All are welcomed to come to Jesus, young and old from every language, nation, and race. Animals, too, came to adore him. If they hadn’t, the stones themselves would have cried out.
We’ve been going through a lot of things, both at our house and at Cathy’s mom’s. In the process, we’ve found a few things worth keeping amidst a fair amount of things to be thrown or given away. Cathy came across two dolls and they have been sitting on a chair in our dining room for a few weeks. This one seems to have some sort of problem in her left eye, a cataract, perhaps. We may need to take her to see a specialist.
There was a potential for an amazing sunset this evening. As it turned out, it was pretty good but not necessarily spectacular. I sat on the back stoop and watched the clouds moving quickly out of the west. As the sun sank below the horizon, there were streaks of color and a little bit more lighting up the underside of the clouds but not as much as we might have had. Are you getting tired of sunsets? I hope not. I’ve certainly enjoyed seeing them.
As seen on my post for Wednesday, November 22, 2017, I replaced the headlights in my Dodge Grand Caravan. The new headlight assemblies came with new bulbs but I kept the old set, mostly because I thought I’d take some pictures of them at some point. Well, we’re reached that point. The glass bulb around the filaments in these two are slightly different and the precise configuration of the internal connections is a little different, but they are basically the same (which makes sense because they were in the same vehicle). I think they’re kind of cool. The two coils are not as close together as they appear in this photo. The coil on the left in each bulb is slightly behind the one on the right.
I mentioned the other day that Cathy has been looking at topographic maps of the area and that Avery Road used continue as far as Baltimore Road. When Norbeck Road was put in, the section from there to what is now the Croydon Creek Nature Center was abandoned. The last quarter mile or so north of Norbeck was realigned so that they would meet at more or less 90 degrees. Today, Cathy and I walked from the Croydon Creek Nature Center down the hill to Croydon Creek and then back up on the old road bed as far as Norbeck Road. It was a beautiful day. We had been to three stores and it was really nice to get away from the crowds for a little bit. It’s a pretty, little park and worth a visit if you want to get away briefly.
The renovations going on at home are nearly complete. It would be a bit of exaggeration to say they have been the worst thing we’ve ever been through. Nevertheless, they have been somewhat stressful. Most of the rest of the house has a thick layer of dust and of course we still haven’t found new homes for everything that had to be moved out. It’s worth it, of course, but that doesn’t entirely eliminate the negative aspects. But, as Cathy said by picking this Gloria Gaynor song on the jukebox at the Silver Diner, I Will Survive.
Nine days ago (see Tuesday, December 05, 2017) I posted a picture titled Grandma’s Bedroom. That showed our former family room full of tools, building supplies, and a bit of waste. The room has changed pretty drastically since then, mostly in the last few days. When I got home on Tuesday the room was empty and the carpet was gone (well, it was in small rolls on at the top of the driveway. Today, the floor was refinished. I have to say, it looks pretty nice. Certainly better than the old carpet. It’s closed up now, so that the top coat can dry. And of course the house smells pretty bad. But that will fade, eventually.
The bathroom is very nearly done. In this picture you can see the sink and toilet, which went in on Friday, as well as the mirror and vanity light fixture, which went in today along with the fold-down grab-bar between the toilet and the sink. You can see the hole in the door for the knob in the lower right. That and the knobs in the other doors will go in tomorrow. There is some painting to do in the kitchen, hall, and new bathroom. The shower curtain rod is on order and should be here next week. The curtain should come tomorrow. Once I have the rod and it’s up, the bathroom itself will be done. On Thursday the floor crew should be here to put new hardwood in the hall and to refinish that and the old hardwood in the bedroom (formerly the family room). Also on Thursday the ramp to the front door should be done. We are very close. Of course, the entire house needs to be dusted pretty badly. No point in doing that before the work is finished, though.
We had the first snowfall of the winter today and it was quite nice. We got at least two inches although it never really amounted to anything on pavement, which was warm enough to melt all of it. That includes driveways and sidewalks as well as roads, so driving was not a problem. That’s just as well because I had to go get a few things for the bathroom and Cathy went to a bridal shower for a friend. The snow was pretty on bushes and trees and this arborvitae (Thuja) looked really nice with fluffy white snow held in its branches.
I took pictures of some of the Christmas lights in our neighborhood this evening. Pictures of lights at night is a bit tricky, trying to balance the blackness of night with the very bright points of light, which tend to turn white unless you are careful. Then, the in between parts, that should have some light, tend to get a bit too dark. I’m reasonably happy with the way this one turned out. Just so there is no confusion, this is not our house and these are not our lights. We’ve been a bit overwhelmed with everything else that’s going on and Christmas decorations are a bit beyond us right now.
I’ve posted a few pictures of the progress that’s being made on the new bathroom and I’ll put up another one soon, but tonight I thought I’d post a picture of grandma’s new bedroom, formerly our family room. Well, lately it’s been neither. It’s been the storage and work room for out builder, and in this picture you can see tools, two doors leaning up against the shelves, the hardwood flooring for the new hall, and even the bathroom sink faucet in the upper left. Later this week lights will be installed in the ceiling of this room and next week the carpet should come up and the floor refinished (along with the new floor in the hall).
Counting only work day’s, of course, and with some delays in terms of getting the inspections, we’re up to day 19. As you can see, the tile walls for the shower are up. The strip of red showing at the bottom is a rubber sealant that covers the entire sub-floor. That will be tiles over with 18 inch squares of a similar color to the walls. The shower floor will have the 2 inch tiles you can see in this picture (but those are not fastened down at this point, just sitting there and ready to go pretty soon. The two bottom rows of tile on the shower walls will go in after the floor (because they rest on the floor tiles. Anyway, it’s coming along.
According to Wikipedia, in 1893 brothers John (Jack) and Augustus (Gus) Mack bought Fallesen & Berry, the carriage and wagon company where John worked. In 1900 the first truck to bear the Mack name was produced, the Mack Bus. In 1922 the company name was changed to Mack Trucks, Inc. and the bulldog became the company’s corporate symbol. Since 2000, the company has been a subsidiary of Volvo. My grandfather picked up this bulldog hood ornament at some point and then my mom had it. I’m not really sure what the attraction is but it’s in our house now. So, I thought I’d take its portrait for today’s picture.
The headlights on our minivan have been a bit cloudy since we got it, many years and even more miles ago. It had about 115 thousand miles on it then and it’s up to 257 thousand now. The headlights are not terribly effective and on dark stretches of road, where there is no other traffic, they really were not adequate to let you see the road ahead. I’ve been meaning for a while to do something about it. I ordered a pair of lights and installed them today. As you can see, the lenses in these are much clearer than the old pair, sitting on the ground in front of the van. I’ve driven with them and they are a big improvement. Now that I know I can do it, I’ll buy another pair (they were $68 for two, with free delivery) for the van that Dorothy drives.
Each headlight is held in by one screw and three nuts that tighten onto bolts on the back of the lights. The screw is quite easy to get to but at least one of the nuts on each light was a little hard to reach (but not the same one on each). They all have 10mm heads but my 10mm wrench is fairly short (overall length 5.5 inches / 140mm), making it less useful than it might have been (but still my best bet in the tight space. I may get a long handled wrench before I do this on Dorothy’s car, although having done it once, I’m more confident I can do it again.
We finally got the plumbing and electrical inspections needed so that the walls can now be closed up. I had a meeting this morning with Marc, our general contractor, David, who is doing most of the actual work, and Andy, our occupational therapist. We discussed and agreed on locations for grab bars, etc., so proper backing could be installed before the walls are closed. Needless to say, these things have to be done in the right order. Much of the progress over the last week and a half has been in the basement and in the walls. We now expect progress to be much more visible as the walls are closed and the tile is installed.
In the continuing story of this year’s Operation Christmas Child boxes, here’s a picture of Cathy amongst her six or seven (I mean twelve) boxes. They are mostly packed and ready to be closed up and delivered. She has a few more things to distribute to the boxes. Cathy is also signed up for two evenings working at the collection center in Jessup, processing boxes for shipment.
Hopefully Dorothy’s room will be back in order before she arrives next week on her Thanksgiving break.
Towards the end of summer Cathy does much of her Operation Christmas Child shopping. The back-to-school sales are a good time for it. I asked her then how many boxes she planned to do this year. She said six but quickly corrected herself, saying, “well, probably seven.” I think she honestly believed that’s how many she was going to make. That was a fiction, however. Her six or seven has quickly turned into twelve. Every year she ends up making more than she planned but this year she really went a bit overboard. She does like Operation Christmas Child. This picture is just a small section of the staging for packing boxes, which has taken over Dorothy’s room for the time being.
I met the guys in Rockville Town Square this evening, getting there a little early so I’d have time to take some pictures before they got there. The ice skating rink had been set up and though we’re well into November, there have only been a handful of days that were actually seasonably cold. They can still make ice, of course, and I planned to watched a few people skate for a little while. Just as I got ready to take a picture of two, they cleared the ice to run the Zamboni, so I got a picture of that, instead. I don’t know if this is actually a Zamboni. Apparently there are two other companies that make ice refreshing equipment, but that’s the name that everyone recognizes. Like Kleenex, Band-Aid, and Jacuzzi, Zamboni is a registered trademark but it has become so associated with the product category, it is used in the vernacular for the product.
Today is work day 8 but this picture was taken in the morning before any work had been done today, so it reflects 7 days of work on the laundry room to bathroom conversion. As you can see, the plumbing is pretty much all done in the wall. The electrician came today and removed the 220 volt outlet that was used by the electric drier we had when we moved in (our current drier is gas). That’s right in the middle of this photograph. Another thing to notice in this picture is the joist that would have been directly under the drain in the shower pan. That required a little reworking of the supporting structure. The two joists on either side were doubled up and cross pieces put in to hold the end of the central joist, which had to be cut. The shower pan went in today, as well.
I’m reasonably happy with my commute. On a good day it’s under 15 minutes and it’s pretty rare that it takes as long as 25 minutes. On the other hand, it isn’t the most picturesque commute you’re going to find. There’s are a few bits that are nice, though, including a stretch of woods on both sides of Rock Creek. In my homeward bound commute, that’s also the most likely stretch to have a back up. Today, I stopped part way along that stretch and was able to take a few pictures of the woods before we started moving again. The woods are quite lovely right now and I don’t mind a short stop if I have that to look at. Pretty soon it will be a lot less interesting, so enjoy it while you can.
The difference between the beginning of day one and the end of the same day were more obvious than the difference between the end of day one and the end of day four. Of course, day four was Friday and it is now Sunday but of course the bathroom is in the same state today as it was at the end of the day on Friday. In the top of the picture you can see a black box in the ceiling. That’s the new exhaust fan. There are also two recessed light fixtures above what will be the shower. Another not so obvious change is the air duct that used to open in the floor in the far right and which now comes up in the wall in the foreground on the right.
The place where there was a door to outside is closed in, as it was on the first day. You cannot see it in this photo, of course, but the siding is up on the outside of that and if you didn’t know a door had been there, you might not be able to tell. There are a few signs left, but they are minor and will be taken care of in due course.
I picked out floor and wall tile yesterday and bought one of each so the builder could measure the thicknesses and get the transition from floor to shower nice and smooth. He needs that calculation before he can install the shower pan. Also, the plumber is supposed to come tomorrow and we should be able to do laundry again, which will be nice.
As some of you know, we have been planning a little construction project for a while now. Initially the thought was that we would renovate one of the two bathrooms upstairs, making it more accessible. This is all towards having Cathy’s mom come live with us. Renovating an upstairs bathroom, which is all we thought of for a while, also entailed putting in something to help her get up and down the stairs. Currently she can do stairs but it’s not easy and it’s going to get less easy as time goes by. We had an occupational therapist out to consult and while he was there, the thought occurred to make a totally new bathroom in our existing laundry room. Once that idea was aired, it was clear that it was the right thing to do.
By putting a full bathroom on the ground floor and converting our family room into a bedroom, we eliminate the need for a stair-climbing chair. Of course, the conversion of the laundry room to a bathroom has some costs associated with it, but those costs are going to be reflected in our property value. An accessible bathroom is a valuable asset, after all. Also, there are some tax credits for this sort of home improvement. After a bit of planning and consultation with out contractor (http://mafortierandcompany.com/) we got the building permits and today, the work began. I’ll post updates from time to time, as the project progresses.
Note that the “before” picture was taken after we moved a lot of things out of the laundry room. There were two shelves on the wall above the washing machine and there was a big bin of bird seed under the sink, for Solomon. But it’s “before” in the sense that the construction hadn’t started yet.
My great grandfather Robert was born in Cumbria in England in 1837. He immigrated along with his parents and at least some siblings to a town on the Canada bank of the St. Lawrence River and served in the Canadian Army during the American Civil War. It was here that he met his future wife, Matilda (whose family we think might have been loyalists who moved across the river during the American Revolutionary War). In 1872 Robert traveled by ship to Panama, crossing the isthmus on horse back. From the west coast of Panama he took another ship to San Francisco. Finally, he traveled inland to Nevada, where he began mining copper, silver, and lead ore. He wrote to Matilda, who joined him there after the railway was completed and they were married circa 1882. Robert and Matilda had three children, Ada, Robert, and Ralph. We have visited what remains of the town in Nevada a few times and on a trip there in 1974 I found this unbroken wine bottle. It’s doubtful that there is any direct connection between the bottle and my ancestors but it reminds me of the place, and that’s important to me.
After church today Cathy and I went out to Edward’s Ferry and then to White’s Ferry. It was a beautiful day and we walked a little on what’s left of the tow path near Edward’s Ferry. On the way back towards Poolesville we stopped for a few pictures at the Warren Historic Site. The site consists of three old buildings, the Martinsburg Negro School, built in 1886 and serving grades 1 through 5, the Warren United Methodist Church which, built in 1903, and the Loving Charity Lodge Hall, built in 1914. I’m not actually sure which building is which (except the church) but I’m guessing this is the oldest of the three. (UPDATE: Cathy saw a video that talked about this place, as well as others, and this building is the Lodge, not the school.)
Back in the day (like the mid 1980s) Cathy and I came across a cartoon by Ed Koren that struck a chord with us. It’s a picture of two people, husband and wife, apparently, greeting a woman walking a dog. The husband and wife are wearing typical business clothes except they are both wearing outlandish hats. His has big ears and horns, hers is huge with fruit all over it. The man in speaking and says, “We try to set aside a little time for silliness.”
Those of you who know us very well know that we have taken that to heart and we, like the couple in the cartoon, set aside a little time for silliness. This picture is Cathy being just a little silly. When I got home from work she was out in the back garden pulling weeds. I asked if I could take her picture and this is what she did.
This is Cathy’s Isadora Duncan pose.
Ed Koren’s web site is here: http://www.edwardkoren.com/.
It was getting late in the day when I realized I hadn’t taken any pictures. Days like this are sort of a write-off, in terms of this one-picture-a-day thing, but if I actually were to skip a day, I’d have to say “I’ve taken at least one picture a day for almost seven years, except a few when I didn’t.” It’s so much easier to be able to leave off that second part so I take pictures of things around the house. Today that meant some plastic utensils in the dining room. I also took pictures of some knobs and of a decorative glass vase, but this is what I decided to share with you. Maybe I’ll repeat the knob pictures and use that the next time I’m in a bind and running out of day.
On Thursday evening I joined a pretty large crew of people setting up the Bethesda Quilters semi-annual quilt show. In the process, of course, I got to see most of the quilts as we were hanging and labeling them. Today I went simply to enjoy the quilts and visit with the quilters (including my mom, of course). This one was made by Jane (I don’t use last names on the blog, but if you’re interested I can let you know. It’s one of the larger quilts in this year’s show and I really love the bright colors. In fact, all three of the large quilts hung on the outside walls (because they are too large for the quilt stands) were wonderful. There was a lot of very impressive work and it’s always interesting to see what people come up with.
Every two years the Bethesda Quilters has a quilt show. It’s running tomorrow and Saturday (October 13 and 14) from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Holy Redeemer Church School gym at 9705 Summit Avenue, at the corner of Summit and Saul Road. This evening we put up the frames to hold the quilts and hung them. Others were setting up tables to sell some things. If you have a minute and are in the area I recommend you drop in for a visit. If you do, you’ll see an amazing array of quilts and wall hangings, including this beautiful one that my mom made this summer. I think it’s one of her best yet.
Mom’s been quilting for quite a few years now and in addition to those she made for specific people she had a pretty good pile of them at home. Over the summer she brought them all out, over 60 of them, and had us take what we wanted. Dorothy took one that she has been wrapping herself up in ever since (we keep our house cool enough that a quilt won’t go amiss even in the summer). When Dorothy left for school, I pulled out another that’s always available if you are visiting and feeling chilled.
I love fractals and fractaly patterns. Nevertheless, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this picture. On the one hand, it’s sort of like a coastline with it’s inlets and estuaries while at the same time being made up of various sized pieces, just the way sand or small rocks on the side of a pool, stream, or beach can form what looks like a larger shoreline. On the other hand, this one is made of blobs of fat, in this case pork fat, with the ocean being made from the gelatinous ‘liquids’ from the same roast. After cooking a 10 pound shoulder roast, I put the meat on a plate too cool rest before carving. When I was done, what was not eaten right away (which was the bulk of the roast, after all, there are only two of us here right now) these juices and fat were left on the plate overnight. I know it’s a little gross but it’s also a little interesting. I’ll just leave it at that.
I needed to cut a 4×8 sheet of plywood into 7 pieces today and as usual i did it on the back patio. It’s relatively flat and it’s a lot less work than getting such a large board into the basement. I took a kitchen towel to wipe rhe sweat off my face and when I was done, it was left for a while on a table in the sun. After I had put everything else away, I noticed that this grasshopper had found the towel and was, I assume, eating the salt from my sweat. It stayed quite a while, slowly moving over the exposed cloth. With the camera resting on the table I was able to get some nice close-up pictures of the grasshopper.
It was a busy day, picking up Cathy’s mom, coming back to our house and then going to dinner before taking her home again. When we were back at her house I took pictures of a few things in an old post office desk in the kitchen. This is a desk with an array of square cubbies used for sorting mail. It is currently used to house curios, one or two per cubbie. I’ve been meaning to photograph this pipe for a while now and today I got around to it. Grandma doesn’t actually smoke anything, much less using an Amazonian clay pipe. We aren’t actually 100% sure where this came from but we all assume it was from Cathy’s grandma, who lived in Lima, Peru for over 20 years and that it was made in the Peruvian Amazon region. That’s an educated guess but still just a guess.
I met the guys for dinner at Matchbox this evening and was a little early. It was raining quite hard as I drove there and I sat in the car a little while waiting for it to let up before heading in. The store lights across the street were lighting up the water splashing on and flowing down the windscreen of my car and I enjoyed watching the patterns it made. I have no idea, at this point, what the signs say and you certainly can’t tell from the picture, although at the time I remember wondering if I’d be able to read them in the pictures. By the time we were done with dinner the rain had basically stopped and I took a few pictures of the gas fire in the pit outside the restaurant entrance. But fire pictures are easier to come by. It doesn’t often rain as hard as it did this evening.
Cathy, Dorothy, Jonathan, and I went to the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair this afternoon. I got a moderate thrill being a VIP of sorts, with my four free passes, won last year in a photo contest. That saved us $52 ($12 per person plus $10 for parking). We enjoyed the food and wondering around the barns, especially the rabbits and chickens. We made it up to the craft and photo buildings and looked at the produce and flowers that had been entered this year. I love the intense colors of the fruits and vegetables in this basket. Note that they may all look like vegetables to you, as that’s how most of these items are used, but technically, these are all fruits except the beets and onions.
It continues to be quite busy at work but today was something of a turning point in the project I’m working on. I made a lot of progress and it’s starting to come together. There is still plenty more to do, but I’m a little less panicked now. At about 4:30 I decided to take a short break and go outside to take a few pictures. I got a few that I think are nice but as I was heading back to my office it started to sprinkle a little. There is a drainage pond near the sidewalk, just through the trees, and I made my way to it and took this picture of the raindrops softly landing on the surface of the pond.
At one point today I needed to get out of the office. It was a lovely if somewhat warm day and I went to the empty lot next to my building. The western part of that is mostly woods now, having been empty for about 25 years. The eastern part is much more open and covered with a waist-deep herbaceous perennial of some sort (I really should look it up). Anyway, I took some pictures of this fleabane. I don’t know for sure what it is but my guess is annual fleabane (Erigeron annuus).
We went to a presentation by a woman named Ariane from an organization that does work with some of the very poorest people in two areas in Afghanistan. Their work includes education, recreation, providing meals, and vocational training including such skills as sewing and baking. They are teaching sign language to deaf children, as well as ordinary school subjects. Cathy’s mom organized the event and had a combination of Afghan and French themed refreshments at the back of the room. She also brought in a few of her Afghan dolls and had them on display. On the tag attached to this one it says,
This is the national dress of the women of Afghanistan. The bodice is embroidered in many colors and sometimes includes colored stones, bangles, or small mirrors, depending on the area from which it comes. This costume has never been covered by the chadri.
Today is Mother’s Day. For many people that means buying cut flowers and taking their wife or mother out to lunch. For us it means a trip to the garden center. This is our third trip in two weeks and we now have enough plants to keep us busy for a little while. Mostly we buy annuals that Cathy will put into containers, including some at her mother’s house. On the two previous trips I bought a shrub each time but I didn’t get anything for myself this time (it’s Mother’s Day, after all). But I did bring my camera and while Cathy made up her mind what to buy, I took pictures.
They had quite a few Fuchsias in hanging baskets. Most of them were this variety, called ‘Dark Eyes’. There was another that had a white part instead of the purple here. I prefer this one over that. There were also a lot of really lovely gazanias and dahlias, which are always quite impressive. They have a few trees and one, a Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonica) was in full, glorious bloom. That’s a tree I should consider for our yard. Very lovely.
Back in 2009, we were in the suburbs of Boston for Steve and Maya’s wedding. After the wedding we moved to a B&B in Jamaica Plain and one day mom, Ralph, Tsai-Hong, and I went to the two art museums on either side of where mom went to grad school. The first of those was the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and I had the pleasure of taking Cathy and Dorothy there this afternoon. It’s quite a place and really worth a visit, if you have the time. The building has a covered courtyard in the center, shown here, and the galleries are around that on each of the first three floors. If you are interested, there are room guides on the museum’s web site.
I’ve driven past the Washington Street side of the Rockville courthouse a hundred times but never noticed this sculpture before. I’m usually just turning onto Washington Street from Jefferson and then paying attention to oncoming traffic because I’m usually turning left again. Because this is on the right, I am generally looking the other way. For some reason I noticed it this evening, though. I parked and went over to get a closer look. Apparently it is titled “Spirit of Freedom” and was created in 1992 by Muriel Castanis.
It’s high daffodil season and the big boys are out, shining in the morning sun. Unfortunately this one was taken in the afternoon, so it’s not in full sun in the picture, but still pretty nice. These were planted the fall we moved into the house and so they’ve been blooming for ten years now. What was individual tufts of daffodils has become a single, large clump and has spread a bit, as well. They are not actually the most reliable bloomers. If the spring is too wet they won’t all open properly but this year has been quite good for them and they’re looking mighty fine.
It was a beautiful day again today. Very spring-like. Cathy and I went for a walk early in the afternoon, simply walking around my building a few times. I took my camera with me, as I usually do on such outings, but only took a few pictures. This is the surface of the stream that flows between my building and the rest of the campus, below the small pond that was built a few years back. The plants are starting to show buds and a few things even have early leaves out but for the most part, it’s still late winter as far as the plants are concerned. There are some daffodils and a few crocuses blooming closer to the building.
We were up in Baltimore this afternoon and as we were leaving, driving south on Broadway towards Fells Point, I took this picture while stopped at a traffic light. It’s a good thing this sign is illustrated, because at first I thought it was a crossing of many years, a venerable, old pedestrian crossing. The illustration, of course changes the sense of the phrase “senior crossing” to something very different, a crossing for seniors.
I’ve seen a lot of ‘crossing’ signs in my day, ranging from deer to armadillo and tractor to horse cart. I’ve seen signs for deaf child and even slow children (now that I think about it, “Slow Children” may be another where an illustration could change the meaning). This is the first Senior Crossing sign I’ve seen and I like the addition of the cane. I also like the way this senior’s head is floating above his shoulders. Like they do.
It was a lovely day and Cathy and I went for a walk at the Montgomery County Agricultural Farm Park today. They have a garden that we often like to visit but it’s a bit early in the year for that to be of much interest. We walked around in the woods an near the former sites of the three Newman houses. There are some old farm machines lining a part of the road where we walked including this disk harrow and a chain harrow that looked like a giant version of one of those puzzles where you are supposed to separate two twisted pieces of metal.
I picked up a prescription this afternoon on the way home. It’s one I’ve taken for a long while and I have to admit I don’t read everything on the bottle every time. After all, it doesn’t change much and I know how I react to it (which is not very much except for what it’s meant to do). I couldn’t swear that this notice has been on previous bottles, although I assume so. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to become pregnant, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
Cathy and I went up to Baltimore to see Ralph and Tsai-Hong this afternoon and it was such a beautiful day that we took a walk around the block where Johns Hopkins Hospital sits. It’s a largish block and including a bit of wandering in an urban garden and into the front of the hospital itself, we walked almost a mile. On the left in this picture is the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building, the cancer center. The curved, glass-front building at the right is the Bloomberg Children’s Center. You can just see the top corner of the main hospital building, the Sheikh Zayed Tower, above the right hand corner of the Weinberg building.
When I got up this morning I didn’t realize at first that it had snowed overnight. I glanced out the kitchen door but didn’t see it at first. A little later I saw that there was something white scattered on parts of the patio table and it was only on closer inspection that I realized that it was snow. I decided I should document our winter weather, even if it was only a light dusting. The snow seems to have formed clumps or pellets and they were evenly scattered over the lawn (but not enough that it didn’t still look green at a glance). Where oak leaves were lying in the garden, the pellets of snow gathered into larger amounts, and that’s what you see here. So, winter, we’re still waiting.
Sometimes I think if I had twins I’d name them Emergency and Trauma. Maybe not. But if I had two dogs I could probably get away with it. I’m not sure what nicknames I’d come up with for them, though. I suppose Emergency could be shortened to Em. May Uma for the other one. But all seriousness aside, Cathy and I were here for a little while with Cathy’s mom. She’s fine and is home again. She probably didn’t even need to go, but better safe than sorry, we always say (always, some people find it a little annoying). As I was leaving I stopped to take a few pictures of the outside of the hospital. It isn’t the most inviting place in the world, but then, when you need it, you’re glad to have it. And this is a good one.
I think bubbles are cool. Of course some are more cool than others (to paraphrase George Orwell). These are fairly simple soap bubbles in a backing dish that’s been soaking to loosen the grease that was baked on it from a 10 pound pork shoulder roast. We’re all familiar with the rainbow colors sometimes seen in larger soap bubbles. None of that here. I recently saw a video of a soap bubble slowly freezing, and that was very cool (in every sense of the word). But these are nice in an understated way.
We were at Upper Rock Circle again this evening and I took some more pictures of the decor in one of the public rooms of the building. This is a meeting room with a kitchen area and these lights are above the bar that has the stove top and also serves as an eating area.
It’s been quite warm the last couple days, with high temperatures above 70°F yesterday and today. The forecast is for snow tomorrow, and then colder weather for a little while, so perhaps we’ll have some winter for a change. I don’t mind a balmy day in midwinter but 70°F is overdoing it.
In 1978 (or thereabouts), when I was in college, my dad bought this computer. It was made by Ohio Scientific and is a Superboard II, a.k.a., model 600 single-board computer. It came by default with 4k of RAM but dad knew that he’d need more than that so he doubled it to 8k. He initially built a power supply for it but the power wasn’t clean enough so he bought one. The computer was connected to a small black-and-white television set and a portable cassette player for program and data storage. I actually did more BASIC programming on this machine than on any subsequent computer I’ve owned, moving on to Pascal in 1984 when I bought my own NEC computer. Although this was the family’s first computer, Ralph had one sooner. I believe he bought it with a friend at school and it was a more powerful thing, using an Intel 8008 processor, if I remember correctly.
This isn’t technically a chandelier, because the formal definition includes branching structure to hold multiple lights. The word chandelier comes through the French from the Latin candelabrum or candle holder. Of course we apply it to those that hold electric lights but this only has a single light, as far as I can tell. Still, it’s a pretty, hanging light fixture and the term is fluid enough that it might encompass it. We were at a place on Upper Rock Circle this evening and this is in their lobby above a simple but effective fountain.
We were over at Cathy’s mom’s Saturday a week ago and then Cathy was there with our dear friend Julia again twice last week. It was mostly going through boxes of papers and separating those that needed to be shredded and those that could simply be recycled. We also went through some books, although there are a lot more to look at. We only pulled out a few to bring home. One was this copy of Glinda of Oz, by L. Frank Baum. It is the fourteenth book in the Land of Oz series and was published on July 10, 1920.
A week or two ago I got a call from Ben, our pastor, asking if by any chance I had an oldish phone, preferably one with a rotary dial. I’m not sure why he called me in particular. He wasn’t even sure why he called me. It’s true that we’re in the upper quintile or ages at church and younger people were less likely to have such a thing. And of course I do have a rotary dial phone.
This isn’t the exact phone I grew up with but it’s exactly like two phones we had in our house when I was in high school, when I started using the phone regularly. There was a white version of this same phone in the kitchen and a black one, just like this, in the basement. We also had a regular table-top version, also rotary dial, in the hall. The one in the basement is still there.
The challenge for this photograph was to get the dial in motion. I used the flash to freeze it but also a long exposure so that it’s a bit blurred. It was 1/3 second at f/3.5 with the camera on a delay timer so I could press the shutter and then dial the phone and get my hand out of the way just in time.
I managed to get out of the office for a little while early this afternoon. It’s been a really busy month and of course January often isn’t the best month for walks in the woods. But today was nice and mild, the rain has stopped, and I took a break from work to spend a little time outdoors. I took a bunch of pictures of moving water. I really enjoy the lines of water in a stream or river, especially where the water meets partially submerged rocks. It’s a simple thing and easily found but in my eyes, it’s one of the beauties of nature. Sure, Yosemite and the Tetons are awesome, to say nothing of the Himalayas or the Rift Valley in Africa, but beauty can be found in a stream in an unused building lot, right next door.
Two weeks ago, on January 3rd, I posted a picture of St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard. This evening it was a little foggy and I thought I’d stop there again to try to get a better picture. This time I also had my tripod, which made it considerably easier and gave me a lot more options in terms of camera location (I wasn’t limited to using the fence as a support). As it turned out, the fog was less of a factor than I thought and it barely shows up in this picture, beyond the overall haze in the sky. Still, I’m reasonably pleased with how it turned out. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be back when it’s foggier to try again.
I may have mentioned that I’m quite busy at work. That is still going on and I really don’t mind the business so much as the changes on changes that undo previous changes. That can be a little tedious, but it’s a living, I guess. I’m also not so busy that I couldn’t go to lunch with a few co-workers and my retired, former boss. We try to get together ever few months and I really look forward to those days. There were only four of us this time and we went to &Pizza in Downtown Crown. I had a slightly modified Maverick, which ironically is their take on the ubiquitous meat-lover’s pizza. Still, it was good and I’d have it again.
On the way home this evening I stopped at St. Mary’s Church again. Last week I posted a picture of their graveyard and the church taken at night. This time, the photo was taken from the edge of their property but of a flag flying across the street in the triangular Veterans Park. The flag is well-lit, as the nation’s flag should be when flown around the clock, and it was quite breezy, making it easier to get a shot with the flag mostly unfurled. This was a 1/8 second exposure at f/2.8 and ISO 500, taken with a 100mm macro lens and with the camera mounted on a tripod.
It was back to work again today and a busy day it was. I barely left my desk all day and didn’t go outside at all. Cathy and I went to work together because we have a car in the shop and by the time we left for home it was after 6:00 and quite dark. After dinner I took some pictures of bunches of colored pencils. There are quite a few floating about the house. Actually, they aren’t as scatted as they have been at times in the past. Most of them are in a bin in my computer room.
I took some pictures looking at the pencils end-on but then decided to take a few with them standing in rank. These were just a bunch held in my hand with the yellow wall beyond them. Maybe I should have sharpened them all before I took the picture, or at least the orangish one in the upper right, but I don’t suppose it really matters.
We had more snow this morning. Still not what I’d call a snow storm but more than yesterday. Also, temperatures have been below freezing for a day and the snow stuck to streets and other paved surfaces this time. When I got up in was 29°F but by noon the temperature had dropped to just above 20°F. In the early afternoon I went out back and took a few pictures. This one reminds me of a coastal valley in Alaska or Norway, with inlets and islands. Of course the entire scene is only a foot across, but nature tends to make similar shapes, whether large or small.
It was something short of a blizzard but we had our first snowfall of 2017 this morning. It started before I got up but had mostly stopped by the time I got to work. The roads were all perfectly clear, so it had no real effect on my relatively short commute. It’s suppose to snow again tomorrow and it’s gotten colder, so it may stick a bit more, but for today, it was just a light dusting on the grass and in the woods. Quite pretty, actually.
It was a busy day at work today and I didn’t really get out of my office, much less the building to take pictures. When I got home, I fixed dinner and then sort of crashed for a while. Late in the evening I started looking around for things to photograph. There are some little Greek ceramic buildings on a glass-front cabinet in our dining room and I took some pictures of those, as well as a Cloisonne egg, but those were not very satisfying. I took a few pictures of this bowl, which I made back in the late 1970s, probably 1979. The crack makes it pretty unsuitable for anything liquid but it works well for holding chips or popcorn. I kind of like the crack, which was not intentional. That combined with the darker glaze around the crack gives it some character.
It was a bit foggy this evening and as I was coming home from downtown Rockville I decided I’d see what I could get in the St. Mary’s graveyard. I hadn’t thought to put my tripod into the car so I had to brace the camera on the fence on the edge of the yard. This exposure was six seconds at f/5.7 and it turned out reasonably well. Because it’s all lit with artificial light, it was much more orange than this, which I’ve desaturated significantly. I should probably return with a tripod and a bit more time some evening but this was a good first try.
Every year is different. That’s good, in the sense that we want a little variety in our lives. If every day were just like the last, we’d get bored (some of us sooner than others). That’s why so many people love the changing seasons. Autumn and spring, times of transition, are especially beautiful. But even with the change, there is a sameness the overlays it all. Every year has the same four seasons and that repetition is quite comforting. We know what to expect next, at least in broad terms, even if the details are different.
Every year, the details are different. We all know that but we’re still surprised by it, from time to time. Last year was different to all the others (at least all my others) because Albert wasn’t there. This year was different for a totally different reason. Ralph’s son and daughter-in-law (Stephen and Maya) had a son yesterday. What a wonderful combined Christmas and Hanukkah present. They named him Kaien (pretty much rhymes with Ryan) but gave him the middle name Albert. That was a very sweet thing for them to do and a very nice present for all of us.
After work today I did some shopping while Cathy went to her weekly Pilates class. Then I came back and picked her up and we went to her mom’s house to help get some Christmas decorations up. We had put up the tree earlier but didn’t have time to decorate it. I also got out the large crèche which was stored on the top shelf in the basement. Getting a picture with the lights on the tree showing and the rest of the image lit properly is a challenge but I’m pretty please with this one.
Dorothy drove from school to Lancaster, Pennsylvania yesterday, getting most of the way home without having to deal with the winter weather that we had today. This morning it started sleeting about the time I got up and came down for a good three or four hours before petering out. There was a nice coating of ice on everything but it didn’t last, having warmed up into the 40s by the afternoon. Dorothy left Lancaster around 2:00 and with the exception of a little back road driving getting to interstate 83, she didn’t have any problem getting here. But for the little time it lasted, the ice was very pretty.
As I mentioned yesterday, it’s gotten cold. Today I wore a sweater and if you know me at all, you know that means it was below 20°F (about -7°C), which is when I usually will put a jacket on even if I won’t be outside long. Anyway, I also had a glove for my camera hand. That made my foray into the woods much more comfortable than yesterday’s. I walked through the woods and across the creek in the empty lot next to my building. Up on the higher ground across the creek there was a large, flat, open area with small puddles, all frozen. In what was formerly mud, there were these fingers of ice crystal that I thought were pretty awesome.
Cathy spent much of the evening today wrapping Christmas presents so we could get them in the mail in time for them to arrive before Christmas. Many years she’d be doing this next week, so it’s pretty great that she got them done. I’m not judging, mind you. I barely helped do it, although I did wrap one or two of the presents. I’m a terrible procrastinator. Anyway, she got four (I think) separate boxes packed and ready to mail. Happy Christmas, everyone!
I went over to one of the other buildings on campus early this afternoon for a meeting. As I sometimes (often) do, I brought my camera with me in case there were any opportunities for photographs. As I walked over, it was overcast and dreary, but that’s sometimes good photographically. By the time I left the meeting, only an hour later it was sunny and clear. The pavement was still wet from the rain overnight and there was a little oil or gasoline spilled on the pavement. That’s what this photograph is of.
I was looking around for things to photograph this evening. The first thing I photographed was soap bubbles in a roasting pan soaking in the sink. They turned out alright but they were not exactly riveting. Cathy had been washing this tea set that she’s had since she was a little girl. It was set out on a tea towel. I moved them to a cutting board and took a few pictures, of which this is one. It’s a dainty, little tea set with cups that are only about an inch across.
I was coming home from our weekly men’s meeting this evening and saw that a significant number of houses have been decorated for Christmas. I drove through the neighborhood and took pictures of a bunch of the decorations. Some are simple, with all white lights, others have lights on forms in the shape of animals or people, including one lit up nativity scene. Still others have inflatable figures, such as this one of Santa driving away from the house on a motorcycle. As you can see, he’s left some presents under the tree and the family dog is faithfully standing guard (but knows that Santa is a welcome visitor). This is a nice counterpoint to last week’s Duck on a Bike.
Cathy and I drove down to Richmond this afternoon for our friend Emily’s photo exhibit in an art gallery there. Many of the galleries in Richmond have openings on the first Friday of each month so it’s a bit of a thing. It didn’t seem like there was as much action as there had been on previous First Fridays but that didn’t seem to hurt Emily too much. Her show was pretty well visited for the entire three hours of the official opening. Cathy and I really enjoyed seeing her work and of course also seeing her, her mom, and many of her friends.
We walked west on Broad Street as far as Boulevard, going into a few other galleries. The skirt of this gown is made from tea bags. It is one of two in a shop window and I couldn’t resist taking pictures. I took other pictures throughout the evening, of course, mostly of folks at Emily’s show. We drove back home again that evening so it was a long day, but well worth the drive.
Back in the second year of my photo-a-day project I posted a picture of this duck on a bike. I’m not sure if it’s cheating to post an almost identical photo today but it was after 10:00 PM and I hadn’t taken any pictures today. I’m nearing the end of six years of taking at least one picture a day and I’d hate to drop the ball as I near that milestone. I reserve the right to stop at any time. A day may come when I don’t take a picture. But it is not this day.
This duck on a bike sits over our main computer in our family room. It’s missing one of the three rotor blades on its head and it has been stepped on at some point so it leans a bit. Because of those two factors, it doesn’t run very well, falling over quite easily. Still, it’s a happy thing to have. I mean, who doesn’t love a duck on a bike (even it it’s really a trike)?
Dorothy came home for Thanksgiving, arriving at about 2:30 this morning. We only saw her for a moment before she and Abba, who came with her, went to bed. Today we spent much of the day at her grandma’s house (Cathy’s mom’s) but Dorothy, Cathy, and I went out to run a few errands in the afternoon. Among other things, we went to Plaza to buy Dorothy some art supplies. While she was shopping, I took a few pictures, mostly of colors. I got some of oil paints, colored paper, and color pencils, as well as a few of these shelves of pastel sticks.
In 2014 I posted a picture of Cathy with two Operation Christmas Child boxes, delivering them at the collection center. Then last year, the picture was of Cathy with six packed boxes, ready to take them out to the car. This year, we’re a little earlier in the process. In this picture, Cathy has laid out all the things she plans to get into six shoe-box sized plastic boxes. If you think it unlikely she’ll be able to get it all in, fear not, it was done (with a little expert advice from yours truly). They were delivered the next day (tomorrow when I took the picture, last week when I’m writing this). Has Cathy mentioned that she likes Operation Christmas Child? Well, she does.
It’s funny, but when I’m going through pictures to post here, I have a fairly strong and only marginally conscious bias towards horizontally oriented photographs. I think (actually, I know) it’s because I feel like I have to fill this space next to the photo with text and a vertical photo takes considerably more work to fill. This photo is the third vertically oriented photo in a row, and the fourth out of the last five. So, what can I write?
This crock, or whatever you call it, was given to us as a wedding present. That’s me on the left and Cathy on the right. Since then, I’ve used it to hold mostly wooden spoons and a few other kitchen utensils. It generally sits back against the wall but I pulled it out for this photograph. Also, I clearly didn’t arrange the rest of the counter for this shot, as you can see a cup with plastic forks and spoons behind it to the right. On the left is the smaller of my two mortar and pestles (or is it mortars and pestles?). I use wooden spoons a lot when cooking. Also, the flat, wooden utensil and the orange silicone spatula get quite a bit of use.
A short drive (or long walk) from where I work are three connected buildings with great, reflective glass sides. They used to be the office and labs of Human Genome Sciences but they are now identified as GSK, which (a little digging proved) stands for Glaxo-Smith-Kline (although they insist on it being one word). According to Wikipedia, GSK is “a British pharmaceutical company headquartered in Brentford, London. Established in 2000 by a merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, GSK was the world’s sixth largest pharmaceutical company as of 2015.” But I’m here for the reflections.
This is an abacus that has been made into a lamp and is in the living room at Cathy’s mom’s house. There isn’t a lot to say about this particular abacus, but as I was deciding which pictures to post for today, I remembered a short video I saw once about doing mental math by visualizing an abacus. I can’t find the video that I saw (I didn’t try all that hard) but basically, kids were shown a series of long numbers (6, 8, and 10 digits long) and they added them up in their heads. The numbers were flashed on a screen and it went so fast I barely had time to read the numbers and certainly not enough time to actually do anything with them. But these kids were able to add them up accurately in their heads. It was quite remarkable. Apparently, learning to do math with an abacus then allows you to do the same thing only without the actual abacus. Subtraction, multiplication, and division are also done on an abacus, both physically and mentally. I wonder if it’s too late for me to learn to do that.
I hope you aren’t getting tired of fall color. It was slow to get started, as I suspect we think every year, meaning it was about normal. But we are in the midst of great beauty. This is the view from my office window. Actually, this was taken from the conference room next to my office, but it’s basically the same view. This isn’t the best example of autumnal glory to be found, but it’s what I have easily available. All too soon it will be gone and we’ll be left with skeletons.
Cathy and I were at her mom’s house and I was looking for things to photograph among her various objet d’art. I’ve always liked this little metal parrot figurine and thought it would make a nice picture. It was sitting in front of a light colored plate but I moved it to get a better background. Anyone who has spent more than a little time with parrots will recognize this stance and expression. They are often curious birds with a great deal of personality. Of course, Solomon is more timid than curious, but that may say as much about us as about him.
I’m not really much of an artist. In particular, I’m not much of a sculptor. But back in the day (I don’t know for sure but certainly not later than the 1970s) I attempted a small figurine of a bear eating honey, a la Winnie The Pooh. It’s a bit crude and certainly won’t win any awards for life-likeness. On the other hand, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I bet you could tell what it was without being told. So, that’s something.
I’ve often admired sculptors and their ability to fashion clay, stone, or metal into such wonderful imitations of life. I think that’s one of the things I like best about Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina. The fact that the sculpture is in such a beautiful setting makes a difference, too, of course. Could I do any better than this bear if I really tried? Possibly. But possibly we’ll never find out.
I’m not what you’d generally describe as a coin collector. On the other hand, I have a collection of coins. It isn’t very extensive and it’s certainly not very valuable, but it’s made up of coins I’ve accumulated over the years. As kids we would go through mom and dad’s coins looking for any we didn’t already have. Back then, in the 1960s, finding pennies with what are known as wheat backs wasn’t a big deal (they went through 1958) but now, it’s a pretty rare occurrence. Even rarer these days is to come across a steel penny, made in 1943 because of wartime shortages of copper. Pictured here are also two nickels from 1939 and 1941 and a Liberty Head dime from 1942.
A few of you know the circumstances that brought me to the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building at Johns Hopkins Hospital this morning. I came to give some blood for testing. For those who don’t know what that’s about, I’ll just say that I’m fine and I’m here for someone else. This is a pretty amazing hospital in terms of activity. It’s like a hive. Of course it would be great if hospitals were not so busy but there you have it. For more information about the hospital and specifically about the Weinberg Building see this page: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/kimmel_cancer_center/our_center/facilities/weinberg/.
I was in downtown Rockville again this evening, meeting a few other guys for dinner. I got there a bit early and took a few pictures but city scenes, even small-city scenes, are not really my thing. The plaza is undergoing it’s annual transformation from an open place where people mingle with a fountain where the kids play in the warmer months into its winter form. A skating rink is built in the plaza with a small pavilion at one end where skates are rented. This evening it was about a third the way through this transformation. On the lines of trees down each side of the plaza are lights, wrapped around the trunks and up into the branches. That’s what this picture features.
It’s one thing to have an obscure reference or symbol on a grave marker. In fact, it’s fairly common and in consequence, many of the otherwise obscure symbols are documented. You can easily find references that will tell you about them. But what if you want a symbol that no one will understand and few will recognize? Put it in a book and then make sure to reference it. In this case, page 35 of “Principia of Universareology” and it further notes that copies may be found in various public libraries. I’ve checked the library catalog for our public library system and they don’t have a copy. In fact, searching on “Principia of Universareology” only uncovered two links on these entire interwebs. The first is to the Find-a-Grave page for this marker. The second is a PDF of Vol. 13, No. 3, Fall 2005 of the “Coalition Courier” newsletter, Published by the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, Inc. On page two is the following paragraph (which is also quoted on the Find-a-Grave page):
In the Summer issue we included a picture of John William Benson’s grave marker and asked if anyone could shed light on the symbol. Eileen sent along copies of the pertinent pages of “Principia of Universareology” written by Mr. Benson of R[ockville]. The symbol is a concentric heart. The “heart” has 7 layers and a flame at the top and a circle at the bottom. The flame represents religion-theology. The chambers represent: govern-ment-politics; operatics-operation; body-physiology; animal-zoology; matter-chemistry; astronomical-astronomy; and universe. The bottom circle represents ‘entinal chaos of and before the dawn of the beginning’. So there you have it. Thanks again Eileen.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was looking for something to photograph this evening and noticed these three figurines on the stairs so thought I’d take their portrait. The beaver and the dog are new, having been brought by Dorothy as a birthday present for her mom. They seem to have settled into the household routine. The baby was also a gift to Cathy from Dorothy. She bought it in Chinatown in Manhattan. When we were there in May we happened to find the store where she bought it, which I think it pretty remarkable. Cathy carries the baby around with her, taking pictures of it in various places to send to Dorothy and her friends via Snapchat. The ‘rug’ they are all sitting on is actually a paint sample of a color called ‘Hostaleaf.’
Cathy’s a fan of Operation Christmas Child. I mean, a huge fan. She collects things over the course of most of the year. In the past, when she starting participating, she did a box with Dorothy and a box with her friend and our next-door neighbor, Amy. When we moved and didn’t see Amy much, they continued to do two boxes, though. This year, Cathy bought a set of five boxes, because it was convenient to buy them that way. Rather than using two and saving the others for the future, though, she decided to fill all six. Wait, wasn’t it just a five-pack? Yes, but she did six. Just because.
We filled them this afternoon, having to “vacuum pack” the stuffed animal in one in order to get everything into that box, but we made it. This is Cathy, with her six boxes, heading off to deliver them to the local pick-up location. Time to start collecting things for next years boxes.
This is one of three wooden screens we have hanging in our living room. They are purdah screens (which is technically redundant, because the word purdah, from the Hindi and Urdu parda, literally means screen or veil) and were brought back from Afghanistan by my in-laws in the 1960s, when they moved back to the states.
Two of them are similar and this is the third, which is quite different, although they all share a few significant characteristics. They are tessellated screens, geometric designs, made of carved wood, and held together without any additional fasteners or glue. They are held together by the way the wood is cut and carved and fitted together like a puzzle. They are a little bit fragile and there are a few pieces missing in one of them. I’d love to figure out how to repair them, but I’m afraid of doing more damage.
We had a fair bit of rain today and I enjoyed hearing that against the window in my office. Later in the day, after about 4:00 p.m. the rain stopped and the colors of the trees outside my window were intensified, as they often are in the afternoon light after a storm. At about 4:30, though, the sun broke through the clouds to the west. Apparently it was still raining not too far to the east and there was a lovely rainbow over the trees in our parking lot.
We had a nice time in Bethesda this evening at Villain and Saint’s Open Mic Night. We went specifically to hear Cathy’s friend and soccer compadre Ara, who was singing with her band. I really should be able to label this picture with all of their names, but we only know her. It was a rockin’ good time, loud for these old ears, but a lot of fun. In addition to Ara’s set, which included four original songs, I believe, the bands before and after her were quite good, getting a bit of the Doors, Moody Blues, and Chicago into the mix.
I know I’ve done Lake Needwood recently (see Friday, October 23, 2015) but I went to work that way again today and stopped for some pictures. The sky was an amazing blue and the reflection of the sky was, if anything, more amazing. Many of the trees have lost their leaves but there is still some color left. A little orange, yellow, and red to contrast with the blue. Definitely worth stopping for ten minutes, even if it made me a few minutes late getting to work.
I enjoy crossword puzzles. Way back in the early 80s I started doing the crossword puzzles in the Washington Post. I had a friend at work that I’d do them with during lunch. Neither of us was very good at them and we were often frustrated by them. There was another co-worker who seemed to know all the answers and we marveled at his ability. Now, more then 30 years later, I often complete the puzzles in the post. We don’t get the print newspaper but my mom saves the puzzles for me and I work through them when I have time (as well as the puzzles in Simon and Schuster puzzle books). Here’s a stack of recent puzzles that I’ve finished.
I don’t usually buy lamb chops because I try to stick to the lower priced cuts of meat. There’s generally more flavor in those, anyway, but it’s at least partly about money (actually, it’s mostly about money, in this case). I will, for a special occasion, buy ribeye steaks but that’s an extravagance. The first thing I check at the store is the meat that’s been marked down, usually 30% and occasionally 50%. This is typically perfectly fine meat that’s nearing its sell-by date. Since I’m either going to cook it right away or freeze it, that’s no worry. These lamb chops were on sale this week and I figured it was worth it. They were terrific, broiled until hot and crusty on the outside and slightly pink in the center (except cooked all the way through for Cathy, who doesn’t care for rare).
Kind of random photo today. I had been at the office a little while and noticed a small pile of pennies on my desk. I thought that would be nice as a still life, so got the camera out with my macro lens and took a few pictures. Some had a bit more depth of field (more of the penny in focus) but this is the one I liked the best (taken at f/2.8). They were lit by a combination of a halogen lamp that was directly over them and a flash, bounced off a white card.
Cathy and I drove to the small parking area on the far side of Lake Frank today and walked up toward Meadowside Nature Center and back. It was a beautiful day, although it got fairly hot by the time we were back at the car. I took pictures, as you won’t be surprised to learn, but I wasn’t particularly excited about any of them. This one was reasonably good, although a picture of a muddy stream isn’t all that special. The trees are pretty, though.
I know it’s not much of a picture, but on the windowsill in our kitchen is this small tin. On it are faded and worn likenesses of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. It was made to commemorate her coronation on June 2, 1953.
Her reign actually began over a year earlier, on February 6, 1952, upon the death of her father, George VI. Today, September 9, 2015, she surpassed her great, great, grandmother, Queen Victoria, to become the longest-reigning British monarch in history.
We’re not really into monarchy here in the United States. We think we have a better system, even if it was born out of the Anglo tradition. In any case, I wish her well and many more years of health.
It was another fine, summer day. Quite hot, but pretty. Cathy and I drove up to Frederick and visited the Monocacy Civil War battlefield, just south of town. The battlefield straddles the Urbana Pike (now MD 355) where it crosses the Monocacy River. The Confederate troops, under Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early, had come up the Shenandoah Valley and into Maryland and approached the bridge over the Monocacy from the north. Union troops, about 2,300 strong, but mostly Hundred Days Men, were commanded by Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace, who is perhaps more famous as the author of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.
Wallace’s troops were reinforced by men from the 3rd Division of the VI Corps, under Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts. Together about 5,800 Union soldiers faced about 14,000 Confederates in what became both the south’s northernmost victory of the war and the defeat that saved Washington. Because of the delay to Early’s troops, Union General-in-Chief Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was able to get reinforcements to Fort Stevens in time to meet them on July 12 and on July 14, Early and his men crossed the Potomac back into Virginia at White’s Ferry. That ferry is still running and the boat is called the Jubal Early.
Our connection to the battle is that an ancestor of Cathy’s (her great, great grandfather) was in the 67th Pennsylvania Volunteers, who are commemorated on the Pennsylvania monument at the battlefield. They did not actually participate in the battle, however. They were “delayed” and didn’t arrive in time for the battle. Their commander, Col. John F. Staunton, was court martialed. He was found guilty of the first two of three charges (Disobedience of Orders and Neglect of duty to the prejudice of good order and military discipline) but not guilty of the third (Misbehavior before the enemy), and was relieved of command and removed from service. (You can read the minutes of the court here.)
It’s meaningless, I know, but I have an unusual (probably) affinity for patterns in numbers. When the odometer in a car turns over to a number with a particular pattern, I’m interested (I won’t go so far as to say excited). Hitting an even hundred thousand is the most obvious. In the first car I drove much, my parents’ 1971 VW bus, the odometer only went up to 99,999 so it would roll over to zero when that happened (it happened twice in the ‘life’ of the car, which made it to about 210,000). This photograph is from our newest and lowest mileage car. It is a long way from an even 100,000, so I look for other patterns. This is a good one, I think.
We went out to dinner this evening. Can you guess where we went? If you guessed the Silver Diner, then sorry, your wrong. We were, however, in the same shopping center and I like the lights so I took a few pictures of it before heading home. Also, we do eat at the Silver Diner now and then, it just doesn’t happen to be where we ate this evening (Ruby Tuesday).
Computers have, as you probably know, become a big part of our everyday lives. Those reading this who are younger than 30 may not realize that it hasn’t been this way for very long. Microsoft has been a big part of the personal computer industry since the early 1980s and continues to dominate the desktop.
I’m not a fan.
I’d be happy if we didn’t have to have any Microsoft products in the house. Unfortunately, in order to connect to work, we need to be running some relatively recent MS operating system. So, my main computer dual boots and I can bring up Windows 7 when necessary. I use Win7 at work, as well, so I’m fairly comfortable with it and put up with it’s (many) annoyances because I sort of have to (unless I want to look for another job). Cathy’s machine used to dual boot, as well, but with Windows 7 being the default. Recently we ‘upgraded’ that machine to Windows 8.1.
I suspect that there are a lot of really smart people at Microsoft. Like many really smart people, however, they often don’t seem to have a clue. This evening I had to reinstall the OS on this machine (don’t even ask about why!). It took hours. All the while the screen displayed very ‘helpful’ (i.e., condescending) messages. What annoyed me most, well, after the amount of time it took, was the number of times the system had to restart. This continues to be a huge annoyance with Windows. What’s with that, anyway? I mean, needing a reboot after a new kernel is installed is one thing but it seems with Windows you need to reboot after just about everything. Anyway, while I sat and watched the computer do very little for a long, long time, I took a few pictures of the screen. This is at least the third reboot, but I can’t say I counted very carefully.
P.S. I’m not much of an Apple fan, either.
Cathy and I wanted to go to the fair this year and it’s always fun to be at the fair with kids. So, we arranged to meet this young family and spend the late afternoon and evening with them. We got there before they did and that gave us time to check out the photography in the Arts, Crafts, and Photography building (building 3). I had entered four photographs and managed to earn a 2nd and a 4th place ribbon for two of them. Not necessarily all I could have hoped for, but not a bad showing for a first time exhibitor. It was nice to see friends there, as well, and to get a personal tour of the photography exhibit from Sarah.
We met Andy, Kelly, and their kids after that and spent a while looking at animals before heading down to the carnival portion of the fair. We enjoyed watching them ride on various rids and I took quite a few pictures. They were not actually on the swings when I took this. We tired out before they did and decided to call it a night at about 8:20. They kept going and stayed until about 10:00. We were tired from the heat but glad that we went and we had a really nice time with these lovely kids.
It has been pretty dry recently and the flowers and other garden plants are starting to notice. It isn’t so dry that we are having any restrictions on water use, fortunately, and I decided to turn on the sprinkler this afternoon. As the sun was getting lower, I was walking around the back yard looking for something new to photograph. I noticed that for about a half second, each time the sprinkler went around, there was a rainbow in the spray. I waited a few times and tried to capture it. It was brighter than this in “real life” but I captured it reasonably well.
Because George was in town, mom thought we should pay a visit to Asbury Methodist Village. She’s thinking about moving there “at some point” and it seems reasonable to see the place and get all the facts and figures. She and I went a few years ago and it looks basically the same, but of course prices, etc. have changed a little in the intervening years. This is the oldest building on the campus, the original living block, now used for administration, as well as outpatient rehab, doctors’ offices and the pharmacy.
Let me start by apologizing for this blatant advertisement of a fast food chain. Those of you who enjoy fine dining may be aghast that we would even be close enough to a Bojangles to get a picture like this. We left the beach this morning in something of a hurry and it wasn’t a very good day for photography. By 3:00 p.m., near Petersburg, Virginia, we were a bit peckish. The truth is, we like biscuits. I’m not sure I would trust anyone who did not like biscuits. They are not particularly good for you, especially if you need to lose weight (or if you don’t want to gain weight). But there is no denying that they taste good. Especially with country ham or sausage and egg. So we stopped.
We have a huge number of rabbits in our neighborhood. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t see at least one in our yard. There’s a very small one that we see in the back yard. When I pulled into the driveway this evening, fortunately with the windows open in my car, this little fellow (or filly) was munching on grass fairly close to the driveway. I was able to pull out the camera and get a few pictures before he got spooked and ran off.
We had dinner with family this evening at a favorite Chinese restaurant and when we came out, the sky to the west was that wonderful, dark, almost-black, blue overhead fading to a paler blue towards the horizon. Jupiter and Venus were quite close together, seen here on the left a little above the center of the photo. In the other direction, the moon was quite beautiful and had Saturn visible right next to it.
As mentioned yesterday, we took an unplanned trip to Albuquerque. We were picked up by Cathy’s brother this morning and on the way back to where he lives, we stopped to see his most recent installation. The building is the Harwood Art Center, an outreach program of Escuela del Sol Montessori. The installation is made from old fences. You cannot quite see it in this picture but just out of the frame on the left, the fence comes up out of the ground and grows to a full size fence before reaching the gate and then the building, where it sort of takes off and explodes. Artists: David Cudney, Lance McGoldrick, Christopher Blaz, and Joel Davis.
The flowers of bergamot (Monarda didyma), also known as crimson or scarlet beebalm, scarlet monarda, or Oswego tea, are quite different. They really stand out in the garden, not only because they are bright colored, but also their shape. Bergamot has antiseptic qualities and has been used in poultices for skin infections and minor wounds. I can’t say I have any real experience in terms of it’s medicinal properties, though.
Lexi and her mom Jean were up in Maryland late this afternoon and we managed to snag them for dinner at the Silver Diner. It would have been a shame for them to have been this close and not get to see them. Today was Lexi’s last day of high school and as you can (possibly) see, Lexi has had her friends sign her shirt. Graduation is still a few days away but she’s done and looking forward to the summer before heading off in July for early college classes. Because she is on the lacrosse team at school, they take an intensive class during the summer so they can take a slightly lighter load during the fall and still get the required credits in by the Christmas break.
Dorothy and Kendra went to a concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion this evening. When they got home, or when Kendra dropped Dorothy off at home, anyway, we visited with them for a while. These are Kendra’s Red Wing boots. I don’t suppose there is much to say about them, except that they look like well built shoes. Not a lot in the way of traction on the soles, but sturdy and comfortable.
When I got home this evening I went out back to look for things to photograph. For quite some time now this whelk shell, which I believe is from a channeled whelk (Busycotypus canaliculatus), has been on our back patio. I’m not sure where it came from, whether it was found on one of our beach weeks, or if it’s something Cathy has had for a long time, or what. Anyway, I was looking at the spiral at the top end of the shell and thought it would make an interesting photograph. So, I set it on the table out back and set my camera down aimed at it. This is a 1/5 second exposure at f/16.
In the fall we had an exterminator come to the house to do a termite treatment. The house has had termite activity in the past and we’ve remained clean since we moved in but we wanted to take precautions. In order to treat the garage, that mean we needed to pull everything away from the inside garage walls. If your garage is anything like ours, you know what that meant. By the time I started to get things back to the way they were it was winter and too cold to spend all day working in the garage. So, today we had our good friend Julia over and she helped me empty the garage, swab down the deck, and move everything back in. We even managed to get one of the cars in. That’s something that isn’t going to happen often with us. I figured I better document it. Without the seats out of the back of one van (on the left) and the firewood box (on the right), I could probably have put two cars in. But that’s just not going to happen.
Once again I have fallen behind in posting my “photo of the day.” This is being posted almost a week late. We had a bit of rain on the last day of April and I took some pictures of rain drops on my office window. I didn’t notice as I took them how dirty the windows are but I like the organic shapes of the drops of water and the upside down and out of focus images of the woods beyond my window that show up in each drop.
Alright, I admit it, I think I may have reached another low in terms of the pictures posted to my blog. I took a few pictures earlier this evening but there were not pictures I wanted to share with the world. When I got home, I decided to photograph this old first aid kit that I had taken out of our Honda. I’m glad it was in there last week, because I cut myself while doing a little demonstration at the school and bled pretty badly for a little while. We were out by the car because I had just shown the students how to change a tire and the first aid kit was handy. So, there’s the lesson for today. Always keep a small first aid kit in your car (along with the spare tire, jack, jumper cables, and flares.
Cathy and I stopped at the library this evening to drop off some books and pick up a few more. The library building was recently renovated (actually, totally rebuilt) and was closed from December 2010 through March 2014, which I think is a bit excessive even for a government project. The building is nice but at nearly $13 million, I suppose it should be.
What bothers me most about it is that although the size of the building was increased from 16,825 to 22,574 square feet, there seem to be fewer books that before the renovation. Not what I could have hoped for.
Do I sound like a grouch? Yes, I probably do. Sorry.
I already posted a photo from the sunrise service we went to this morning. After that we enjoyed talking with friends and having ham, deviled eggs (which, come to think of it, is a funny thing to have on Easter), and fruit. At 8:30 we went to the regular 8:00 a.m. service. I say regular but the orchestra does make it a bit more special.
After a nice lunch at home with roast lamb, potatoes, green bean casserole, and asparagus wrapped in bacon, we went to Cross Community Church, which is not the official name of the church plant that we’ve become involved in. After the service there, we all enjoyed the warm afternoon sunshine and I took a few pictures, including this one of Margaret, Cathy, and Dorothy.
After what can only be described as a terrible drive down the beautiful I-95 corridor between D.C. and Richmond, Virginia, we had a very nice evening at the gallery where Dorothy has been working. Our friend Brian (son of friends Sid and Sherri) had a show at Gallery Edit in Richmond, mostly sculpture but there was one large painting in the collection. I took pictures of individual pieces when the gallery wasn’t filled with people but there were not a lot of times that was possible. He had a pretty good flow of folks throughout the evening. That’s Brian facing the camera in this photo. His web site is here: http://brianmenkis.com/
Over the weekend something came up about old fashioned phones—remember when you had to turn a dial a different amount for each number—and I mentioned that my mom took my older brother and me to the New York World’s Fair in the mid-1960s. Ralph and I saw an exhibit where you could time yourself dialing your phone number on the then-current “rotary dial” phone and then on a newfangled touch-tone phone. We also talked to each other on video phones, which was even cooler, even if it was only in black and white video.
I mentioned that I had heard that the large globe at Leisure World was from the New York World’s Fair. Turns out that is not true. According to this page at the Roadside Architecture site, the globe from the World’s Fair, the Unisphere, was 140 feet tall. The Leisure World globe is only 40 feet tall. They are similar, of course, because they are both based on the same planet, but they are not the same. Someone also mentioned that there was a rumor that Australia is upside down on the Leisure World globe. That is also false.
Earlier this month I posted a photo of a trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata) that I am growing from seed in a plastic bin in my kitchen (see “Poncirus trifoliata (Trifoliate Orange)” on Wednesday, March 18, 2015). Today’s picture is (sort of) of the same subject. The afternoon sun coming in the kitchen door was shining on the tub of little orange plants (there are at least four dozen of them) and casting what I thought was an interesting shadow. To me it looks a little like some ancient artwork drawn with faded ink on a sheet of papyrus. Okay, maybe it takes a bit of imagination to see that, but if we don’t look at the world imaginatively once in a while, what a dull place it can become.
I was home alone for dinner this evening because Cathy had a soccer game. She’s also not having red meat for a week. So, I took the opportunity to have a New York strip steak. I had some very nice tomatoes so I cooked one of those and melted some cheese over it. The olives were something of an afterthought but went with this very well. I had both Kalamata olives and green olives stuffed with garlic, both sauteed a bit in the meat drippings.
I made some chicken for dinner tonight, in a tomato sauce with sauteed onions, mushrooms, and Kalamata olives. To go with it, I cooked a little broccoli. I thought I’d take a few pictures of the dinner to post, but instead I’m going to go with this one of Cathy, being silly with two large spears of broccoli. She has one foot up in some sort of yoga pose, but I didn’t have the right lens on the camera for that, so you just get her and the broccoli.
I hope you don’t find this boring. I was looking around for things to photograph this evening and not having a lot of success, frankly. I’m much better off when I get outdoors but it was getting late and I wanted to find something to photograph. I came across this 17″ long, 1/2″ ship auger drill bit. I don’t remember for sure why I first bought this long bit but I think it was drilling a long hole through the corners of a built-up pond I made out of 4″ by 4″ lumber at our old house. In any case, I like the helical flute on this and, whether it’s worth it or not, it’s my photo for the day.
I took only a few pictures today and, not terribly surprisingly, I suppose, they involved snow. Are you tired of the snow yet? I know a lot of folks around here are ready for spring and I’m pretty sure it’s just around the corner. I can almost feel the daffodils starting to push their way up through the cold, wet earth. But for now, we still have a bit of snow. I spotted this piece of natural sculpture when I got to work this morning. Between the stems and their shadows, it paints a pretty picture. Look for spring, but enjoy the remainder of winter.
Without question, proper Italian ice cream (i.e., gelato), with its particular texture (generally no egg and with less fat than “standard,” American ice cream), is just about the best thing in the world for dessert. A close second, and considerably easier to make if you have the ingredients on hand, is snow cream. The recipe is about as easy as anything can be: one can of sweetened, condensed milk mixed with one can of crushed pineapple. Then mix in as much fresh, light, fluffy snow as you can. You want to be ready to eat it right away, because it melts fairly quickly. Of course, the snow is the tricky ingredient, as it’s not always easy to come by, depending on where you live and the season of the year. This evening it was available in abundance. The other two ingredients are easily bought ahead and kept for the occasion.
Dorothy and I drove up to Frederick today, but more about that in my next post. We had a little time to kill so we went downtown and wandered into an antique shop. I took a few pictures in there, but this is my favorite, a table covered with flatware. It was laid out with the knives, spoons, and forks in different segments of a circular display, all radiating out from the middle. The knives all range in price from $4 to $6 and the sign said 20% off. All I took were a few pictures, though.
It stayed cold overnight but got up into the mid 30s (F) fairly early this morning. When I went out to the car, the sky was clear but it was &x201c;raining” under the trees and I got fairly wet. The ice that had coated everything yesterday was melting and coming off in largish pieces. I tried to take a picture of the Zelkova trees on Norbeck, which were glittering in the morning light, but it doesn’t really do the sight justice. The roads were wet, not at all slick, fortunately.
We had another little snow fall this morning. When I checked early Montgomery County had decided on a two hour delay for schools. That hasn’t mattered much this year but I was planning to go in to do some things with the fifth grade. Because it was already scheduled to be a half day today, the delay meant school was canceled. Montgomery County decided to close, anyway, a little later. Cathy and I went to work together and had no problems with the snow. The roads were all fine. This is the view from the front of my office building, into the trees beside the parking lot, taken from a third floor window. There are a few mid-sized trees growing on the banks of a small stream. The thickets toward the top of the picture are brambles.
I’m afraid all I have for a photograph for today is another meal. This evening I decided to make burgers. I topped them with sauteed tomatoes and onions and then melted some Irish Dubliner cheese, which is something like cheddar but a bit more buttery and quite good. I had the burger sans-bun and paired it with some fresh broccolini, boiled briefly just until tender. Turned out pretty well, if I say so myself.
Mom sent an email this morning saying that her refrigerator was leaking water. The ice maker hasn’t worked for a while now but it’s still hooked up to the water supply. Unfortunately, it seems somewhere along the way there is a leak and the water is coming out onto the floor under it. She turned the water off at the mains but there is only so long you can have water off and still be considered to be living in modern America. I went there after work and pulled the frig out from the wall. Nothing obvious—the copper tubing comes out of the floor just where it meets the wall and didn’t seem to have any problems.
I took the panel off the base of the refrigerator back, exposing the compressor and the rest of the mechanical workings. When the water was turned back on, I could see the where the leak was, with water dripping from the plastic tubing just after where the copper tube is attached to the system. What to do. The most obvious thing was to find the other end of the copper tube and turn the water off there, to only the refrigerator. It took us a while to find but we finally did, behind the access panel of the upstairs bathroom. Unfortunately, that value wasn’t in very good shape and the handle broke off before I was able to even start to turn it. We ran out to Strosniders and bought a new valve and in a fairly short time I had it replaced. The water is now turned off and all seems well.
It was quite cool this morning. My phone said it was 1°F here and my car agreed. There was a bit of wind, which made it seem a little cooler but the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. I had to drop some papers off at the school so I went to work via Lake Needwood. It’s covered in snow and I stopped to take a few photographs before continuing on to the office. Fortunately, the roads are clear because I needed to drive to Richmond later in the day and bring Dorothy home for a short visit.
So, have I had a trip to the International Space Station where I took this black and white photo of fjords? Well, no, obviously. As you probably guessed, this is a close up of wet and salt encrusted pavement. But to me it does look a bit like an aerial photograph.
This was in the parking lot at work and the patterns were quite varied and (to me) interesting.
We had a small snow squall again overnight and this morning. By midday the sun was out and it was quite beautiful. The roads were never terribly bad but because I had no meetings and what I needed to get done today I could do just as easily from home, I stayed and worked from here.
In the afternoon I cleared the walk and the drive and then went around the yard taking pictures of the snow. It’s notoriously hard to get interesting pictures of snow. It’s sort of white on white, but these footprints that were in the show and that were mostly covered by this recent fall make for nice shadows. Personally I’m not tired of winter yet, although I know some people are. It’s only February, folks.
It has been cold a bit lately and there is snow and ice on the ground. This evening I was looking out the window of my home office and seeing different patterns of ice on the window. This somewhat abstract image, which I named “Winter Sun”, is actually the out-of-focus light of a street lamp shining on the ice riming the window pane and seen through the screen. The image was much more orange as taken but I adjusted the white balance to get a cooler, bluer color, more evocative of the winter landscape.
Although you may be thinking that this is what I call Cathy when I’m trying to get her to forgive me for something I’ve done, I’m actually referring to “the” Catherine the Great of Russia (2 May 1729 – 17 November 1796), who rules Russia from 1762 until her death.
I have a small (and not terribly valuable) collection of stamps and paper money from around the world. This is a detail of one of my favorite bills, a 100 ruble note from 1910, portraying Catherine the Great.
In my four plus years of taking and posting a photo every day, I have a few days where I only take two or three pictures. They typically don’t end up being everyone’s favorite and I have a feeling today will be a perfect example of that. I met a good friend for dinner at Urban Barbecue this evening. We had a very nice dinner and an enjoyable time. I got there a few minutes before he did and that gave me time to take three pictures of the bar from my table (it was the most interesting view from where I was sitting, without aiming my camera at, and weirding out, other patrons). Not a terrific picture. In fact, I’m a bit embarrassed by it. But it’s all I have to show for today. The dinner and visit were much (MUCH) better than the photo.
Yesterday I woke up to find that my back had seized up. I’m not sure what brought this on, other than an aging spine that’s never been exceedingly strong (either figuratively or literally). Whatever the cause, it was not comfortable. I decided to give it a good rest and stayed home today, spending most of the day on the couch reading with an ice pack under the small of my back. That, along with some wondrous pharmaceuticals, helped considerably and by the evening I was able to get up without the aid of a cane. This picture honors the quilt that kept me warm while the ice pack kept me cold. This is one of the many, beautiful quilts that my mom has made over the years.
I was messing around with my new macro flash equipment today. I’m looking forward to insect season with this. The extra light means I can take pictures at f/32, which means as much depth of field as possible and with a fast enough shutter to stop the movement of those always moving bees and wasps. Up close like this, Depth of field can be just a few millimeters. At f/32 it is more like 10 or 15. Big difference.
These keys, of course, don’t move much by themselves. With a tripod I could tak as long an exposure as I like. But this was hand held at f/32 and 1/200 of a second.
Cathy isn’t hugely fond of leeks but I like them a lot. It’s not uncommon to find them in my kitchen but when you have a leeky kitchen, something needs to be done. Tonight I thought a creamy leek sauce would go well with skate wings. I’ve never actually cooked skate before and I was pleasantly surprised by the taste. They are not terribly fishy but have a nice, delicate flavour. The sauce went pretty well with them but I think something a bit tangier might be better in the future. I also happened to have some blood oranges, which I sectioned and put over the fish and that might be a better base than the leeks.
It’s a bit chilly today and we’re getting ready to watch some football game or other. I thought a fire would be nice so I laid one up and got it going. There’s nothing like a good fire to warm you in a comforting way (a controlled fire, of course, otherwise it is liable to warm you in a very non-comforting way). As the pre-game show droned on and on, I muted the sound and turned to the fire, instead, which was much more interesting. Getting a still picture of fire that is interesting, I think, can be pretty difficult. It’s mostly hit or miss, because the flames are moving so fast. This is my favorite. It’s what you get today, anyway.
I have a 70 gallon fish tank in our kitchen. Late in the day the sun hits the corner of the tank and, all the way down the hall in our family room, this rainbow appears on the floor and slowly moves away from the kitchen for about ten minutes before disappearing for the night. It’s pretty good size, covering about four feet by a foot and a half. It’s quite bright and very pretty, running the spectrum (literally) from violet through indigo, blue, green, yellow, and orange and finally to red (vibgyor).
When we took Dorothy back to Richmond on January 4 I paid $1.979 per gallon for gas in Fredericksburg. But that’s Virginia. Perhaps it’s at least partly a case of supply and demand but it seems that here in Maryland everything possible is done to keep prices of everything as high as possible. If I were more cynical I might suspect that Maryland (and Montgomery County) governments are trying to keep out the hoi polloi (a.k.a. riffraff). If so, they are certainly going about it the right way. I don’t really think it’s a conscious effort but so many decisions have that effect that it’s hard not to think it’s at least a little bit planned. At the very least it’s clear they simply don’t care.
Anyway, today I paid $1.959 for regular in Maryland. I don’t know that I ever expected the price to be that low here again. I’ll be driving to Richmond again before too long and I look forward to how low it might be there, but I could get used to this. Gasoline prices like this are like a tax rebate and the certainly benefit the lower end of the income scale more than the upper.
We had another snowfall today. It wasn’t enough to close school. Of course, around here, “not enough to close school” is very litte indeed. It just was enough to turn things white. There was talk of it being worse by the end of the day but it didn’t happen. They are also forecasting much more tomorrow. Still, it was pretty.
I took this picture near the parking lot of my office building. This is the bark of a black gum or tupelo tree (Nyssa sylvatica, also known as ). It’s a nice tree with a few things to recommend it including very good fall color a very bright orange-red. if you decide you want one, though, you will want to know that they have dark berries that will drop and be tracked into your house. Also, the birds eat the berries and if they then perch over your car, you might not like the results.
If you’ve lived in this area for any length of time then you almost certainly know where this eagle is. It isn’t a great picture, hurriedly taken before the light turned green for me to proceed. I do like the framing, however, even if the picture isn’t as sharp as it might be, having been taken through my windscreen. In any case, this eagle stands in front of the Jefferson Plaza at the somewhat complicated intersection of Rockville Pike (MD 355) with Veirs Mill Road (to the east, named after the mill owned by the Viers family, but the misspelling is there for good or ill) and E. Jefferson Street (MD 28).
Usually when I post a picture of a plant of any kind, it’s in the garden or at least growing in a pot. I haven’t grown mushrooms in a while but we have them in the house quite often, nevertheless. I bought a pack of fresh shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) today and sauteed them in olive oil, seasoned only with a bit of black pepper. They were then piled on burgers and topped with cheddar cheese. I really should have taken a picture of the finished product but at the time I was more interested in eating it. So, you get the mushrooms nearing the “just right” stage.
Our good friend Julia came over again this evening. Actually, Cathy had picked her up to help with a few things at her (Cathy’s) mom’s house. They came back here and Julia helped me carry in a new bookcase and move some books onto it. She stayed for dinner (panang curry) and dessert (fruit with freshly whipped cream). The fruit was apple, plum, cantaloupe, and mango. Not a bad dessert, if I say so myself.
Traffic coming to work was light today. I’m not sure if the forecast of snow and the terrible traffic the last time it snowed combined to scare people into staying home or what but it had only just started coming down as I drove in. A little later and it was coming down quite hard. The flakes were large and fluffy and it accumulated to about three inches. This is a tree outside my office window (a willow oak) and you can see how well the snow is sticking to every branch and little twig.
Most of us have bric-a-brac around the house. I find it quite interesting to see what different things people have. So, I don’t doubt, would consider the things we have to be a little odd. For one thing, there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to what we have. It’s fairly eclectic.
Take, for example the things on our piano in the living room. There’s a winged bull bookend, a miniature version of a winged bull portal guardian from the Palace of Sargon II in Khorsabad, northern Iraq (Neo-Assyrian, about 710-705 BC). Behind that is a drawing of Harold, the stylish cat, wearing his trademark Argyle sweater-vest and kilt (although you cannot see much of the kilt in this photo). Dorothy is the artist of the later work, for those not familiar with him.
In any case, I don’t know why anyone would think that was a strange combination.
We have a few books in our house. Those who have helped us move know this and to them I say, thank you and I’m sorry. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve been working in the basement and that’s where a large number of our books are, probably half or nearly half of what we own. Today I continued working there and made some good progress. I decided to post a picture of one of the two large sets of shelves in the basement and, with apologies to Julia, who gave me the idea for the title of this post, I present you with a “shelfie.” They seem to be all the rage these days, although I’m not entirely sure why.
As I got to work today I glanced over at the pond where I photographed some ice recently. The water level was low and it was no longer frozen over but there was still significant ice around the edges. I caught a shape that I was pretty sure was a heron so I got out my camera and went a bit closer. I need a much longer lens if I’m going to do this sort of photography, really, but I moved until the heron took off and got a few pictures as it lifted gracefully into the air. It’s a shame the photograph is so monochrome, I think, butcause it makes it a bit hard to see the bird so clearly, but it is what it is (more or less).
OK, after yesterday’s interesting picture, which I believe is one of my top comment-generating images in just over four years of taking pictures every day, this one will be a bit more mundane.
We now have two cars with mileage over 200,000. When you have cars as old as those we have, it’s a good idea to have at least one spare because the chances of one being in the shop at any given time are fairly high. Right now we have two spares. Because of that, the miles we put on them are spread around a bit. Nevertheless, we have two cars with a total mileage of 440,000. Not too bad. Oh, don’t worry. The engine was still running when I took this but I was parked in our driveway, having reached 200,000 miles just before I got home.
I went on a little road trip this afternoon with Sokho. After church we drove up to Flintstone and from there just across the state line into Pennsylvania. The purpose was for Sokho to see the place we went last year on our youth retreat and where we are scheduled to go again this year. There was a bit of snow on the ground but we didn’t have any trouble getting up the hill. This photo was taken from the meeting room, looking southeast towards Flintstone.
We finally got around to taking down our Christmas tree yesterday. It was fairly dry and starting to lose needles in a big way. I put the ornaments on our dining room table and then took the tree outside, doing my best (which wasn’t very good, actually) to keep from spreading more needles around the house. This evening I took a few pictures of the decorations on the table. In the living room we had a few nativity scenes (or crèches, if you prefer) and I like the contrast of these two. The plain, carved, wooden set in the foreground was made by patients at a leprosy clinic in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The brightly colored one in the back is from Peru. The elephant on the right and a few others of that set are broken, but that’s a story for another time.
Have you ever noticed that shadows are blue? It’s most obvious in the winter when they are cast on something white (e.g., snow or ice). This morning it was a bit chilly. Our thermometer ready 6°F. That’s cool even for me so I wore a sweater on my way to work. When I got there I noticed the ice on the small pond next to my office building. The water level had been considerably higher a couple days ago and as you can see, it froze over before it completely returned to its normal level. That left sheets of ice on the lower parts of the bank. In the shade of the morning it was quite blue, but as you can see, the sunlit area at the top is colored normally. So, those of you painting scenery, don’t forget blue for shadows.
I was looking around the house for things to photograph this evening. Among the things I came across were two Cloisonné eggs in a dish in our dining room. I took pictures of each of them and decided I liked this picture best.
It’s a pretty little thing with flowers, stems, and leaves. The other one has white storks on a deep blue background. I don’t expect they are terribly valuable but I don’t really know. We don’t have them for their value but because they are pretty, which they are. Other than that, I can’t tell you much about them.
Other pictures I took this evening were close-ups of two Venetian paper weights and of a Martian Popping Thing, because, well, Martian Popping Thing.
We had our first “real” snow today. That is, it’s snowed already this winter, once quite hard, but we had actual accumulation this time, more than just a dusting that melted as it hit hard surfaces. This time it was about 20°F so it accumulated to about three inches. Not exactly a blizzard, but real snow. This photo was taken from our upstairs window just before I left for work. I got as far as the exit to our neighborhood. The car in front of me spun out going up a short hill. Then the main road was wall to wall cars and I decided I didn’t want to sit in my car for an hour and a half for a 20 minute commute. So, I worked from home, which is thankfully an option.
The snow stopped later and the sun came out, although it was never above freezing today. I like snow and found it quite beautiful out. Naturally I took more pictures but I think this one, of it coming down, symbolizes the day more than snow on leaves in the sun.
I don’t wear plaid as much as I used to. I’m not entirely sure why. I think part of the reason is that the best plaid is flannel plaid and the it isn’t often cold enough for flannel. It gets cold enough outside, but when I’m going to work, I’m in an office where I cannot control the temperature and it’s almost never too cold for a light, summer-weight shirt in my office. At home it’s cooler but even there, I’m not usually in need of an extra layer. If I’m going to be outside in the winter for any length of time, I can wear flannel, but even then, it’s usually easier to throw on a sweater than to change shirts for a simple walk outside. This plaid happens to be on Dorothy, who spent the day in Philadelphia with Kendra. She’s wearing it as a jacket, the top layer of about three, which works well. I should buy flannel shirts that are too large, so they can be worn this way.
Since Wednesday, December 29, 2010, I have taken at least one photograph every day. That means I’ve completed four years doing that. I started posting them on Facebook on January 1, 2011 and then started this blog at the beginning of 2012, but the last three days of 2010 have pictures, as well. I really need to go back and add those pictures to this site so they are all together, but whether they are here or not, they exist. That’s 1,461 consecutive days of taking pictures. I don’t have any inclination to stop and I hope enough people enjoy them that it’s worth my time to continue.
One of the things I asked for this year for Christmas was a small bracket that holds two flash heads out to the right and left of the camera. I also asked for a flash that will go in one of those two sides and which my camera can fire wirelessly. With this attached to my camera, I will have an easier time getting good lighting on small things when I’m focused very close. With the normal flash on top of my camrea, if I’m too close and if I don’t add an extra reflective surface, the lower portion of the photo is quite dark. With this new rig, it’s not a problem, as you can see in this closeup image of a thistle seed head that’s on our kitchen table. Those of you who are not fans of my insect close-ups may not appreciate this, but I’m chuffed.
As usual for Christmas day, we had Christmas activities in three phases today and in four stages. We started at our house, opening (or emptying) stockings. Then we went to Cathy’s mom’s house, where this picture was taken. We went from there to my mom’s house where we spent the afternoon with my family. Finally, back to our house where we opened presents from and to each other. All in all, a very nice day.
I often post pictures of family on Thanksgiving and Christmas but decided I’d go with atmosphere this time. So, just the tree in the living room, presents waiting around it to be unwrapped, and the large nativity scene on the table, with the morning light streaming in through the window behind it. You can get this from the photograph, of course, but the smell of bacon, which we enjoyed with pancakes, eggs, sausage, and coffee, adds considerably to the ambiance.
Happy Christmas to all and God bless us, everyone!
It was very atmospheric today in the sense of the second definition in Webster’s, “having, marked by, or contributing aesthetic or emotional atmosphere; also : marked by an emphasis on impression or tone.” Basically, it was foggy all day. After yesterday’s rain it was fairly welcome. This is the view out my office window, which for a suburban office building, is actually pretty nice. Today it was soft and gray.
I know this is a bit cliché but I do like out of focus Christmas lights, at least in small quantities. I try not to take pictures like this more than once a year but, well, here’s this year’s version. I find it interesting how small movement of the camera between images makes such a big difference in the resulting image. It has to do with some lights being behind branches that small movements reveal. Also, the interaction between adjacent lights change a bit.
I’ve had fires a few times so far this winter. Today I burned some of the wood from the fig tree outside mom’s kitchen. It died back pretty severely last winter so there was a small pile of wood in the driveway from that. It burned quite well. I took a bunch of pictures of fire, which is one of those things that often looks so much better in reality than in a 1/30th second slice (in this case). Still, I like this image.
Just a few days ago, on Tuesday (December 16, 2014), I posted a photo of lamb with edamame, which I fixed myself for dinner. This evening I had a similar meal, although only one of the ingredients from the earlier meal was actually involved in this one. This time I had a section of kielbasa (slightly improbably from the Lancaster County Dutch Market), two slices of pancetta (Italian bacon, basically), and lima beans. The ingredient they had in common was garlic, which I sautéed a bit before adding the meat.
I’ve been described as The Grinch and as Ebenezer Scrooge because of my attitude towards Christmas decorations. Those titles aren’t entirely fair—I quite like Christmas, I certainly don’t want to rob others of their joy, and don’t even mind Christmas decorations—but it’s true that I could do without a lot of what I call the “winterization” of Christmas. It isn’t just the secularization of what is, first and foremost, a Christian holiday. It’s the transformation of it into a religious holiday of non-Christian form. That probably makes no sense to anyone and I don’t feel like writing a long dissertation on what I mean, so I’ll just leave it at that.
Anyway, we generally are lucky to get our tree up enough before Christmas that the decorations are on by the 25th. This year, however, a week before Christmas and not only is the tree up, but it’s got lights, decorations, and even wrapped presents under it (which are usually done late on Christmas eve). So, Happy Christmas, everyone.
Sometimes simple is all you want and when it comes to fixing dinner after a days work, simple is always appreciated. This evening I had just such a meal. Cathy was going out to play indoor soccer so I was just cooking for myself, which means I can have exactly what I like. This is lamb which had marinaded in a peppery sauce with plenty of Mediterranean herbs. I sautéed a little garlic before adding the lamb to the pan. To accompany the meat, I cooked some frozen edamame (soy beans) and then added them to the pan to get a bit of the flavour from the meat. All in all, I’d say it was as satisfying as any restaurant meal and it was dead simple.
I pulled out my camera to take a few pictures this evening, not sure what I would find as a subject. I ended up taking a few of a somewhat random variety of things. I started with a container of variously colored cherry tomatoes. I ended with pictures of two of the three fish in the tank in our family room. Pictures of fish are harder than you might think, particularly when you need flash. It lights up every bit of dirt on the glass and every particle of whatever sustnded in the water. Between these two sets of subjects, I noticed these creatures on our microwave. I really have no comment to make about them, but they probably say something about us.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that we cut down our Christmas tree. When I got home, I went to put it up only to find that our tree stand had finally worn out. I probably new that a year ago but managed to forget and not replace it. So, today we bought a new tree stand and I put the tree up in our living room. Then I got out the lights. It’s been a few years since we actually bought any strings of lights and every year I wonder how many strings we’ll have that work. These are some of the strings that worked, either entirely or with only a bulb or two out. The other strings all were about half working.
Cathy and I went out for dinner this evening and I had an assortment of sashimi, one of my favorite special treats. Cathy didn’t partake, preferring a teriyaki chicken to anything raw. But I enjoyed this immensely.
I think mackerel is my favorite and I could enjoy an entire plate of just that, I suppose, but there is something special about variety. I ate all the ginger, as I love the tang it adds but only had a little of the wasabi. I prefer the taste of the fish, and wasabi has much too powerful a flavor and totally overpowers the more subtle flavors. I’ve never really understood its appeal, unless people actually dislike the taste of the fish and want to mask it.
I was going to post a different picture today but didn’t think it would be well appreciated. I drove Dorothy up to this Starbucks in Germantown this morning to catch a ride back to Richmond. After they left I thought I’d go up to Black Hill Park for pictures of the dawn. I wish I hadn’t. After I turned around and was coming down Clarksburg Road towards Clopper Road I deer dashed in front of me. Sorry to say the deer didn’t make it. I was going to post a picture of the deer and the car, titled “Oh, Deer” but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Some of you would have simply felt bad for the deer. For me, I don’t want to look at the car.
I was looking around for things to photograph today and happened to notice a pipe wrench that I had been using a little while ago. Also known as a Stillson wrench for Daniel C. Stillson who invented it, it was patented on October 12, 1869 (U.S. patent #95,744). I like the textures in this picture. My title for this post, “Ridgid,” refers to the brand of pipe wrench that this happens to be, manufactured by the Ridge Tool Company, Elyria, Ohio.
We were out until almost 10:00 this evening and I didn’t have time to eat until we got home. We also had friends staying, who got here before we did. I was fairly peckish so I put out some salami and cheese and we enjoyed that while we chatted the rest of the evening away (and a little of the morning). In this picture, we have four cheeses. Clockwise from the left are a wonderful aged gouda, creamy soft butterkase, sharp cheddar with whiskey, and cheddar with caramelized onions. There was also some Gorgonzola, just out of the frame on the right.
I’m not a big one for Christmas lights, although I can appreciate them. I’m also not a big fan of putting up Christmas decorations early. I know that it’s after Thanksgiving and that makes it officially Christmas season. In fact, today is the first Sunday of Advent, so there really cannot be any objection to decorations. Along MD 124, Church of the Redeemer has lights on their trees, as you can see. I was going to pick up Dorothy at a friend’s and was a little early so I stopped to take a few pictures.
There was a enameled bowl on the concrete bench in front of our house and it had filled with rain water (and a leaf). Dorothy noticed it this morning and turned it out onto the bench and I took some pictures of it. It doesn’t move like a regular snow-globe, but otherwise, it sort of looks like that, I think. Anyway, pretty without much effort, which is always a treat.
I drove to Virginia to pick up Dorothy for Thanksgiving this afternoon. I left a bit early because I knew that traffic was going to be a problem. I also knew that she would not be ready to leave until about 5:30, so I was going to have to find something to occupy my time until she was ready. I decided to stop by the Virginia Aviation Museum at the Richmond International Airport.
My post for Sunday, February 16, 2014 was of an SR-71 Blackbird, on loan to the museum from the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. I thought it might be nice to see what else they have and it’s a nice little collection. This plane, a 1936 Vultee V-1AD Special, was custom-built in 1936 for William Randolph Hearst, Sr. and is the only known surviving V-1AD in the world.
When I got home this evening, I knew that Cathy was going to work a bit late. Since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, I wanted something to tide me over until she got home and we’d have dinner. So, I made myself a plate of antipasti. In this case, it was not a traditional Italian antipasti. There were Kalamata olives (from Grece), chorizo with smoked paprika (from Spain), small tomatoes (which I guess is traditionally Italian, although, of course, they come from South America originally), and a few slices of Stilton (from England). Traditional or not, it was just what I wanted.