Walnuts and Leaves
I know I’ve recently posted a picture of black walnuts but I was out taking pictures and came across another tree that had just dropped most of its nuts. Not too surprisingly I took pictures of them on the ground.
I find it interesting that there are certain memories that are indelibly recorded in our minds and they are released by particular sights, sounds, and above all smells. The smell of the flesh of black walnuts is one that brings me back to my childhood. Blessed is he whose indelible memories are good ones.
I love reflections. I think it’s partly because I love the colors and the textures of the surface of moving water. Water that is animated, whether by wind or by gravity creates a surface that turns otherwise mundane objects into beautiful patters. Beautiful to me, anyway. Sometimes it is the motion itself that I love and capturing that in a still photograph is tricky. In this case I think it works. I especially like that you can see ripples from drops of rain among the other ripples.
This is a flood control pond north of Gude Drive between Key West and Research Blvd. It is near where I have walked many times but for some reason I’ve never been this side of Gude. It’s pretty overgrown with brambles, which means it isn’t as accessible as some places but there are things to be seen that might make it worth the effort from time to time.
Are you a fan of starlings? Or do you see them as a curse, a thorn in the farmers’ side? Randy Stonehill, one of my favorite singers, used them as a metaphor for those we prefer not to see. “She was sitting on a curb by the Seven Eleven.” There are songs that make me laugh. There are songs that make me sing. This is a song that can make me cry. Not a comfortable song, but very beautiful, somewhat like the starlings.
Say a prayer for the starlings
A hot, dry wind beats their ragged wings
Have a thought for the starlings
No one ever listens to the songs they sing
Say a prayer for the starlings
There’s no welcome for them anywhere
Leave some crumbs for the starlings
They say that Winter will be cold this year
Afghan Carpet Detail
This is the corner of a small Afghan carpet that we have in our living room. The carpet is only about the size of a door mat, so it’s more decorative than actual floor covering but it adds color to an otherwise monochrome, carpeted floor.
We had a wonderful time with our great friends, Krystal and Mike, this evening. They hate it when I take there picture so I’m going with this one of my meal. Very tasty.
I don’t know what it is but sometimes when I look at clouds, their shapes make music to me. Unfortunately, I cannot translate that into something anyone else can share, but at least I get to enjoy it myself. I guess it’s the rhythm of the repeating pattern that triggers it in my brain. These are musical clouds. Do you hear it?
Dorothy On A Violin
Dorothy picked up a violin today and started playing it tentatively. Of course, she’s never played the violin and after a short while she said something to the effect of, “I just can’t play holding it like this, it’s just wrong.” Then she turned it down and played it like a very small cello. She did reasonably well, actually, all things considered.
I don’t really have much to say about this picture. It is of Dorothy, obviously. She has her back pack on with a blanket over it and she was saying she was a turtle, for some reason, which I don’t fully understand.
Buteo jamaicensis (Red-tailed Hawk)
Well, I initially identified this as a sharp-shinned hawk. I’m not terribly good with the hawks (as anyone who is will tell you). I do know the general shapes and because of that I incorrectly correlated the narrow tail here with the Accipiters and went with the most common of those around here. As I was quickly told by my birder brother, this is a red-tailed hawk, which usually flares its tail. Looking at pictures (which I probably should have done first) I can see he is right. All the patterns on the wings say red-tail, to those who know. So, now I know. At least until I forget, which probably won’t be long.
Anyway, I’ve completely rewritten the text for this post. Purists would say I should have left the old and just added my correction to it. You can do that on your blog. I admitted my mistake. That’s enough.
There is a small pond near my office and there are usually ducks on it so I walked over there today. I love watching ducks take off and land. They start by running along the surface of the water while madly beating their wings. Once they are in the air they seem graceful enough but then their landing is a bit heavy. I also saw a great blue heron. Now, there is a bird that is majestic on take-off and landing. Sort of the VTOL of the animal world. Ducks and geese are more like the C5 Galaxy of birds, even though the heron is considerably bigger. I guess it’s the relative size of the wings that makes the difference.
American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)
I went out for a walk this afternoon and noticed a persimmon tree (the American Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana) with quite a good crop of ripe persimmons. I gave the tree a shake and picked up a good handful to bring home. I do like a good, ripe persimmon, even though they are mostly seed. Be careful to wait until they are ripe, though, or they will turn your mouth inside out. This one is just about perfect, sitting on a sycamore leaf, almost begging to be eaten.
Dorothy was out at youth band practice and Cathy and I were sitting on the couch chatting. I had my camera near by (surprise!) and I picked it up and started taking pictures of her. I had my 100mm lens so I was only getting her face. Then I got up and changed lenses to something more suitable to the close quarters. Cathy sat on the end of the sofa and I took a bunch more. In some of them she made faces but I like this one best. It’s just a relaxed pose, with her feet up on the back of the sofa.
Hurricane Sandy took care of knocking most leaves from trees but of course, that doesn’t apply to many oak trees, whose leaves cling tenaciously to the branches until the depths of winter (or even early spring!). I took a nice walk out in the lot next to my building today. Not at lunchtime but later in the day, as the sun was getting low in the sky. There are lots of bare trees but the oak leaves till have some color and looked very nice against the beautiful, pale blue sky.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I was out late in the afternoon. The sun was getting low in the sky and I enjoyed the way it was shining through the trees. It’s hard to get a picture of the sun, as you might imagine, but I took a few, anyway, trying to balance the brightness of the sun without loosing all the yellow in the trees that it was illuminating. This was the best I got and while it doesn’t really look exactly like what I saw, it is enough like it to remind me. Of course, it won’t really remind you, since you weren’t there. Next time you should come with me.
Dorothy Blowing a Soap Bubble
Dorothy was cleaning up after having baked some cookies and while she was washing off the cooling rack she noticed that she could use it as a bubble wand. They didn’t “release” well. Still, as you can see in this picture, they got to be pretty good sized.
Pretzels and Sausage Rolls
Dorothy and I went up to the Lancaster County Dutch Market this morning. Mostly I go there for the butcher shop, which has a nice assortment of meats, both processed (e.g., sausage, etc.) and not. We also bought a few cheeses. Dorothy asked me to buy half of a broccoli and cheese pie, which I did (and boy, was it good). Of course, we can’t really go to there without buying sausage rolls. Their pretzels are good, but unless you aren’t into sausage, I really recommend the sausage and Cooper sharp cheddar rolls. They are excellent!
Rock Creek Church
During our Sunday School time this morning we gathered to put together donated food to go to Manna Food Center for their Smart Sack program. This was organized by Erick’s Hope and our good friends, Donna and Richard Brown. We gathered briefly in the church lobby to fellowship and I asked if everyone could get together for a picture. They said yes, and here it is.
When I took this picture, I know I was thinking how orange it was. Looking at the pictures later, there is more yellow than I remember. Maybe it’s a trick of the light and a consequence of the way the camera sees light as compared to how we do (or how I do). Anyway, this is the view out my office window. I could certainly have a worse view. Of course there is a parking lot if I look a little lower but there is no building next to us in that direction. Anyone who has been following my photographic doodling for a while knows that there is a ten or twelve acre lot next to my office. It happens to be on the same side of the building as my office. I know people with offices in more scenic places but I really cannot complain.
This is a willow oak, Quercus phellos. It gets its name from the leaves, which are similar in shape to willow leaves rather than the lobed leaves we normally associate with the oak genus. The willow oak makes a good, if somewhat large, tree for a yard. Its smaller leaves are easier to deal with and fall sooner than those of the red and white oak groups (although the willow oak is actually in the red oak group, section Lobatae).
There are many, many (many) beautiful things in this world of ours. I’m one of those old fashioned types who believe that there is true, objective beauty. I won’t say that nothing is as beautiful or even that nothing is more beautiful than sunlight shining through a leaf but that is certainly one of the beautiful things. I’m not, of course, claiming that this is an ideal or even a very good representative of that beauty, but I was outside today and saw it all around me. Even on the edge of a parking lot, there is breathtakingly beautiful color. Thank you, to the creator of beauty and whose face shines brighter and purer than the sun.
Soda Can Flower
Flowers, like many things of beauty, are ephemeral. To me, that only adds to their beauty. Sometimes, however, we come across that most unusual of flower, the aluminum rose. Actually, I’m not completely sure it is a rose, but it looks about right. There are no truly blue roses, but then, there are no truly aluminum roses, either.
Dorothy was at her friend Julia’s house today and when I went to pick her up, I saw this on the kitchen counter. Apparently it was made by the father of Julia’s friend, Rachel. It’s surprisingly delicate looking. Not a lot of fragrance, though. Smells oddly of soda.
Dorothy the Doodler
I often doodled in school and I still occasionally find myself drawing during meetings. Most of my doodles are either random shapes or very poor drawings of people. I would love to be able to sit in a meeting and draw actual people from the room. As it is, I usually hide my doodles and they eventually find their way to the shredder. Once in a while I’ll come up with something worth keeping (and the bar isn’t even all that high).
Dorothy is also a doodler but her doodles are of a much (much) higher caliber than her old papa’s. For a good while now she has carried around a small book that has become her journal. In it are notes and doodles intermixed. This isn’t that book but another that she happened to have with her today. The outside cover is nicely decorated. Yes, she’s making a bit of a face here, but it’s not a bad picture of her, and the notebook is nice.
Hair and Leaves
By trimming my beard outdoors, I eliminate much of the clean-up process. I do need to move the bulk of the hair somewhere that Cathy won’t come across it by accident. Otherwise she might see it and think a small animal has been mauled. At our old house there was a catbird that built a nest in an eglantine rose every year and my hair played a prominent part in its makeup. It’s nice to find that your hair is going to a good purpose.
Moon Through the Trees
Let’s face it, my life is not all that well suited to this “take a picture every day” thing. I go to work, I sit in an office, I go home. There often isn’t a lot to take pictures of. Somehow I’m mostly through my second year and have managed to get a picture every day, but some days it is a bit forced. Today is one of those days. As I came out of the office, I say the crescent moon through the trees. Actually, the prettiest part was the deep blue color of the sky, but that hasn’t really come through in the picture.
Anyway, I offer you, “Moon Through the Trees.”
Maggie and Hannah
Marilyn with Sky
Today was the Christmas bazaar at Dorothy’s school. I didn’t spend a lot of time taking pictures because I had a table and was selling them, instead. I’ve done that before and had quite varied success. I’d have to go back and check but I think this was my best year so far. That was due at least partly to my excellent location (thanks, Cathy).
Over the course of the last few weeks I went through all the pictures I’ve taken in the last year or so and pulled out some that I thought people would like. I made cards and matted 5×7 inch prints of them. If anyone wants an 8×10, naturally I can do that. I still had cards and matted 5×7 and 8×10 inch prints of older pictures, of course. I had questions from two different people about making larger prints of a few, so you never know.
The first of these, Maggie and Hannah horsing around, was taken from behind my table. Cathy manned the booth for a little while to let me get out and take a few pictures. That’s when I got the second of them, of Marilyn, not exactly horsing around, but…
I also took a couple pictures of Maggie (from the first picture) with Marilyn’s palomino, named Diamond. I’ll post one of those along with a few other pictures from the day on Facebook.
Ben and Trish
Two of my favorite people were leading the singing together this morning in church. Do I describe a lot of people as “of my favorite people?” If so, then I guess it just shows how fortunate I am! I don’t know if it is Ben that picked the songs or if they are picked because he’s leading. Either way, I especially like having Ben lead because of the songs we sing when he does. Thanks, guys (and the rest of the team, as well).
Once upon a time, Cathy collected ceramic (and glass and whatever) dogs. She still has the collection, although she doesn’t actively collect them any more. A few of them are out in various places in the house. These are on top of a small set of bookshelves in our bedroom. I sort of like the terrier-like dog on the left but decided to focus on this pitiful looking hound in the foreground instead. Sorry the picture is so “grainy.” I still had the ISO set to 3,200 from yesterday and didn’t notice until later.
It was a beautiful day today, cool but not cold. I went out and took some picture, mostly of ripples in the stream that flows through the empty lot next to my office building. I could sit and watch flowing water for a long time. Of course, during a work day I don’t have any long stretches to spare, so I make do with short stretches, instead.
Kendra and Dorothy
Cathy and Dorothy picked up Kendra and I met them at Cathy’s mom’s house after work. They helped cut bread for stuffing, peeled potatoes, and made jello for tomorrow’s meal. When they were done working, Kendra and Dorothy sat at the piano and made up songs. You won’t hear any of them on the radio any time soon but we enjoyed their efforts (for the most part).
Although less thankful that we should be, we are nonetheless thankful. It’s true that we should be and indeed are thankful every day of the year, it is right that we set aside one day specifically for the purpose of being thankful. We were fortunate, this year, to have guests with us as we celebrated and gave thanks at Cathy’s mom’s house. On the left are Josh, Diana, and Jake. On the right are Kendra, Dorothy, Marge, and Cathy. Margaret is at the head of the table.
As we were putting things in the car to head home from our day of Thanksgiving I set the camera on top of the car and took a few long exposures. This is a 30 second exposure at f/4 with a 24mm lens (which is equivalent to a 38mm lens on a 35mm film camera). It was taken at about 8:15 PM. Can you tell which direction I’m facing?
Camellia japonica ‘Lady Clare’
Old Allium Blooms
We had Second Thanksgiving today. If hobbits can have second breakfast, I don’t see any problem with Second Thanksgiving. There were sixteen of us at mom’s house this year, which is pretty close to the limit for her dining room table. There was more than enough food, of course, with plenty of leftovers for everyone to take home.
I took a little time in the afternoon to go out in the yard and enjoy some Thanksgiving-season color. First up is a Camellia japonica ‘Lady Clare’ in the back yard. There is currently just this one bloom on it but it is absolutely covered with huge buds and before Christmas it will be in full bloom. How can you not love a plant blooming this time of year?
The second photograph is not of a flower, although it certainly competes with flowers on color. It’s a little roseate of leaves on an azalea bush in the front yard. Many people think of azaleas as a one-season shrub, blooming for a few weeks in spring and doing nothing the rest of the year. That’s certainly true of some but many of them have leaves that turn all sort of shades of red for the winter. To my way of thinking, those are to be preferred over those that simply stay green. Look at all the color in those leaves!
For our third and final photo, we have something that is flower-related, although not a flower itself. These are the pedicels from allium umbels, or, in layman’s terms, the flower stalks from the ball of flowers on an ornamental onion.
Beaver Moon and Jupiter
The full moon in November is called the Beaver Moon. We got to see it with Jupiter above it. You cannot see it in this picture, but to the right of the moon was a very bright star Aldebaran. So bright, in fact, that until I looked it up, I assumed it was a planet, as well. I thought that the brighter object was Venus and slightly less bright was Jupiter. So I have them both wrong, although I at least thought that one was Jupiter. It was quite lovely, especially when it was first coming up over the horizon.
Iris, Tsai-Hong, Ralph, Maya, and Stephen
After two days of Thanksgiving, we had a somewhat unexpected extension into a third day when Stephen and Maya invited us to their new apartment for brunch. They have a nice apartment not too far from their work and close to all of us, which is nice. Here’s a picture of them with with the rest of the family.
There are not many foods I don’t like and as I get older, the list gets shorter. Bell peppers are probably at the head of that list, though, along with licorice, perhaps. Unlike licorice, however, I think bell peppers are beautiful, in all their amazing colors. As long as I don’t have to eat them.
Thanksgiving is over and the decorations are being put away. These are three turkeys that Cathy gets out every year. I’m sorry to say that I’m not as supportive as I should be when it comes to seasonal decoration. I’m not really a scrooge but I’m not necessarily affected by the decorations. Still, there’s no real harm in them and decorating makes some people happy. When “some people” includes your spouse, you really should make an effort. Sorry, Cathy. I’ll try harder for Christmas.
And yes, that’s Edgar Allen Poe in the background.
Maylandia estherae (Red Zebra)
I picked up Dorothy at her friend Julia’s house this evening and stayed long enough to take a few pictures. Julia’s mom, Maureen, has a tank with African cichlids and this, I believe, if a red zebra (Maylandia estherae). It certainly looks right and it’s from the right lake (Malawi). The picture is a bit soft because it is by necessity photographed through the aquarium glass. Still, it’s a pretty fish and shows up pretty well.
St. Mary’s Church
The old St. Mary’s Church, shown here on the left, was built in 1817. It is the first brick Catholic church in the county and the oldest church still in use in Rockville. The new church building, on the right was built in the 1960, but fortunately the old church was saved from demolition. Cathy and I were in Rockville for some business this morning and this is the view from the office we were in.
Three pictures today, all featuring reflections. The first is a picture of the sun and clouds reflected in an office building. I had to walk over here to pick something up today and, as I sometimes do, I brought my camera with me. The sun was reflecting brightly in the windows and along with the clouds, I thought it looked nice. I had to be careful to have the sun not quite in one of the windows or it was way to bright. Actually, it’s a bit blown out in parts as it is. Still, and interesting photo.
After that I walked down into the woods between my building and the one with the reflections. The stream that runs between the two buildings has a fairly strong flow here and I was looking for patterns on the surface. This one is a little interesting because where the tree is reflected on the water the reflections are absent and you can see down to the rocky bottom, where I focused. It’s almost hard to tell that the shiny surface is water, because it is ever so slightly out of focus.
The last picture is from a little pool of water that lies just above the stream and yet somehow separated from it. In the summer it is a place of dragonflies and skimmers but it has a very different feel now that the cool weather has come and the insect life is not apparent. I’ve come down to this pool a few times when it is very busy at work and I need a few minutes of quiet solitude. It’s a good place to sit and think.