Monthly Archives: February 2013

Cathy and Jean

Cathy and Jean

Cathy and Jean

The Music Guild at WCA had a coffeehouse this evening, postponed from last Friday when the snow caused the cancellation of evening activities. I took a few photographs at the coffeehouse, or more precisely before the coffeehouse. During the performances I switched over to video and recorded most of them. After it was over, we went to IHOP with some of our friends, including Jean and her daughter, Maria. So, here we have two of my favorite women in the world. Cathy and Jean.

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Chicken and Cauliflower Curry

Chicken and Cauliflower Curry

Chicken and Cauliflower Curry

I didn’t feel very well today so didn’t get out much. I seem to have caught one of the three bugs that’s going around this winter. This is the sinus infection and it isn’t very pleasant. Dorothy and I did go out late in the day and did a bit of grocery shopping. When we got home I threw together a simple chicken and cauliflower curry. It was mild but pretty good, even if I say so myself. It also took very little work, which was the main thing.

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Super Bowl Party

Henry

Henry

Our friends, Andy and Greta had the youth from church over for a Super Bowl party this evening. Although I’m not a youth, I was allowed to come because, well, just because, I suppose. I took quite a few pictures of everyone but none of the group pictures really conveys “watching football” and since this is such a cute picture, this will have to do.

Henry has been featured on this little blog thing before, in a post titled Another Henry on December 09, 2012. Let’s be frank, there are a lot of cute kids out there. There may be kids about who are as cute as Henry but you’d be hard pressed to find any cuter.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

As I came out of my building I could see the sunset colors in the sky through the trees. Rather than take a picture from there, though, and since I had to go pick up Cathy next door, I drove onto the parking garage behind her building. From there I had a pretty good view of the sky and I took a few pictures.

I took a few with the long lens (this is one of those) and some more with the wide angle. The wide angle shots show a lot of blue sky and are pretty, also but I like the color in this one.

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Gummy Bears Sour Patch Kids

Gummy Bears

Gummy Bears

Sometimes I take pictures of things around the house just because I’m still trying to take at least one picture every day. When I do that, though, I’m never sure if those pictures are enjoyed as much as the scenery or people pictures that I post. This evening, when I was picking up Dorothy from her friend Julia’s house, Julia’s mom, Maureen said she had something for me to photograph. She said she likes the colors of those still life pictures and she brought out a jar of gummy bears. So, today’s pictures is of gummy bears, courtesy of Maureen.

Update: Dorothy told me, in a somewhat exasperated tone, that these are Sour Patch Kids, not Gummy Bears. I’ve corrected the post title.

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Ice Cream With Nuts and Honey

Ice Cream With Nuts and Honey

Ice Cream With Nuts and Honey

I had the last of the black-cherry ice cream this evening and I put some nuts over it. Actually, they are nuts that came in a jar filled with honey, so they are quite sweet. I’m not sure nuts and cherry ice cream is the best combination but it wasn’t bad. Next time, though, I think I’ll save the nuts for plain vanilla ice cream.

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X-Day

X-Day Introduction to Programming

X-Day Introduction to Programming

At WCA they have something they call X-Day. It is one day in the third quarter where classes of various kinds are offered. These are things not generally available as part of their regular curriculum but that some students might find interesting. This year, there were classes in cooking, ballroom dancing, cake decorating, and making digital collages. There was a boot camp that was quite popular. Groups of students went to Luray Caverns, the Gettysburg Battlefield, and hiked the Billy Goat Trail below Great Falls. One group went to a local hospital and had literal front row seats (standing, actually) to various surgical procedures from knee to cardiac. I was asked if I could teach an introductory course in computer programming and had twelve students sign up.

The day went pretty well. I introduced programming at a very basic level, talking about concepts common to all languages including variables, operators, and control structures. We talked about syntax and how it varies from language to language. The students wrote some short programs to get a feel for how things work. None of them are ready to go to work as programmers at this point but they left with a decent foundation on which to build, if they so desire. And I had a fun time getting to know a few (potential) future computer scientists.

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Shelly, Julia, and Dorothy

Shelly, Julia, and Dorothy

Shelly, Julia, and Dorothy

The youth group got together to watch a movie at the church this evening. The Avengers isn’t exactly Gone With The Wind or The African Queen but it was fun to get together with the young people and hang out.

I took a few pictures while the movie was playing, which wasn’t really appreciated because a flash in a dark room is a bit jarring. After the movie ended and the lights were back on everyone was much more receptive. Even Shelly allowed herself to be talked into getting in a photo.

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Snow Ball

Anna, Issy, Ashley, Dorothy, and Erin

Anna, Issy, Ashley, Dorothy, and Erin

Every year we have a dance for the parents and other adults affiliated with the school. Dances are not really our thing but it is a fund raiser for the junior class and Dorothy is a junior this year. Fred Astaire I’m not but for those interested, Cathy and I did dance. I took pictures, as well. It’s always hard to pick one picture from an evening like this. Some of the best pictures are often of people I don’t know that well. This one is nice. It’s Dorothy and five of her classmates.

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Sunday Morning

Rock Creek Worship Team

Rock Creek Worship Team

For a church as small as ours, we have more than our share of talented musicians, both instrumental and vocal. As a non-musician, I have a lot of admiration for people who can sing or play and it was nice, this morning to see mother and daughter singing together, so Cathy suggested I take a few pictures of them.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

We had a pretty sunset this evening. I happened to turn around from my computer at the right time to see this out my office window. Not a huge dramatic sunset but still very pretty, through the trees. In a few minutes it was gone and dark. I’m glad I got to see it.

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More Colored Pens

Colored Pens

Colored Pens

Last Tuesday I posted a picture of Sour Patch Kids which I (in my ignorance) labeled Gummy Bears. Well, I went to pick Dorothy up again this evening and naturally I took my camera with me. It’s nice being in someone else’s house, especially someone who doesn’t mind me taking pictures. This is the first picture I took this evening and the camera was set wrong for the flash so I got a one second exposure, which caused the blur. I could have gone with the “properly” exposed picture but this one is more interesting and a little abstract.

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Solomon

Solomon

Solomon

Solomon is a red-lored Amazon parrot (Amazona autumnalis). They are native from eastern Mexico south to Ecuador but Solomon is a California bird. From there, he flew up to Alaska (and boy were his wings tired). That’s where we got him, at the tender age of about 10 months. In January he turned 27. He’s not the friendliest bird you’ll ever meet but he can be nice if he chooses to. He wasn’t really very happy with my flash going off, though, so he’s looking a bit nervous in this picture. Pretty colors, though.

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Snow

Snow on Boxwood

Snow on Boxwood

We had a little snow come down overnight. The roads were clear so there were not any changes to school, but it was quite pretty. As I left for work, I paused to take a few pictures. Snow can be hard to photograph. There isn’t a lot of texture to it, unless you get quite close. I didn’t have my tripod and I didn’t feel like lying on the snow-covered ground this morning, so I contented myself with pictures of snow on branches and on this boxwood bush by our garage.

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Eye Exam

Phoropter

Phoropter

I had an eye exam this afternoon. Not a big deal and nothing to report, really. I have the beginnings of a cataract in my left eye. Not surprising, really, since I had one in my right eye more than four years ago. That one grew quite quickly, but the thought is that it was injury related. Nothing to do about it at this point so I’ll just keep my eye on it, so to speak, and deal with it when the time comes. A cataract isn’t as scary as it was 30 or 40 years ago. The surgery is simple and quick and the recovery is relatively fast (as long as you don’t tear your retina afterwards).

The eye exam didn’t actually involve using the phoropter in this picture but I decided a picture of the slit-lamp wouldn’t be as interesting. I don’t need new glasses — my vision is basically 20/20 in both eyes. I have driving glasses but I really only wear them when I need the associated sun glasses (and I did when I left this afternoon, after having my eyes dilated). I do need reading glasses but the cheap drug-store variety work fine for that.

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Copying Hard Drives

Copying Hard Drives

Copying Hard Drives

Our old computer had three 80GB hard drives in it. Ever since we finally replaced it, which is more than a year ago now, I’ve been meaning to get everything off the drives from the old computer onto the new one. Immediately needed things were copied up to the server and then back down to the new machine but there was a lot of stuff that didn’t fall into the immediately needed category.

So, today I decided it would be a good thing to get done. It was quiet at home, with both of the girls out. That also meant there was no demand for the computer. So, I opened it up and one at a time I connected the old drives and copied pretty much everything onto the new machine. When I say pretty much everything, I mean pretty much everything. I still need to go through those files and throw away anything that’s not needed, which is a significant amount. Still, now when Cathy said, “I had a document on the old computer that I’d like to update,” it isn’t a problem.

You cannot really see it in this picture, thankfully, but the inside of the computer needed to be vacuumed out, which I did once I was finished copying my drives and before I closed it back up again.

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Dramatic Sky

Dramatic Sky

Dramatic Sky

Dorothy was away from Friday evening until this afternoon. When I went to pick her up at about 4:00 PM, the sky had become quite dramatic. It was very windy and I tried to take some longish exposures of tree branches waving in the wind but it was too bright to do that very well. Also, I didn’t have my tripod, which I’d have really needed for exposures long enough to do justice to the movement.

When I turned around, though, and looked toward the sun behind the clouds, I decided that would make a better picture, in any case. So, that’s what you get.

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Kendra and Dorothy

Kendra and Dorothy

Kendra and Dorothy

Dorothy had the day off today and spent much of it with her friend, Kendra. So, when I picked Dorothy up after work, I figured I’d take their picture. This time, you get the somewhat dubious honor of having a picture with Tuffy in it. Now isn’t that something?

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Snow, Heavy But Brief

Snowing

Snowing

I hadn’t been following the weather forecasts so I was a bit surprised this morning when it started snowing. It started just before I got to work and by the time I pulled into the parking lot it was coming down quite hard. The snow was in big clumps, as well, which was fairly dramatic. This picture doesn’t really do justice to the snow but it’s the best I got. The snowfall only lasted about half and hour and since the ground wasn’t all that cold, it melted on contact. Still, it was pretty while it lasted.

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Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

There was a pretty sunrise this morning. I think it was prettier a bit before this picture was taken but it was still quite dramatic by the time we got to the school. This is a panorama made up of five photographs taken with a 100mm lens, oriented vertically, and stitched together using Hugin panorama photo stitcher. It was pretty dramatic, even if not as colorful as some sunrises.

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Watching Downton Abbey

Dorothy and Hannah

Dorothy and Hannah

It’s a festival day at school tomorrow, meaning there is no homework due, so Hannah came home with Dorothy and spent the evening at our house. I was up on a Skype call for most of the time but they watched an episode and a half of Downton Abbey, season 3. No spoilers, please, as Hannah doesn’t know what’s coming (well, she knows some of it but we’re trying to keep the rest mum until we get to it). This is how I found them watching the TV when I came downstairs.

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Abe Visits Kindergarten

Abe Lincoln and the Kindergarten Class

Abe Lincoln and the Kindergarten Class

First off, I didn’t take this picture. I know these are supposed to be pictures I’ve taken but I thought everyone might like to see this anyway. It was taken with my camera, anyway (thanks, Tracey). The kindergarten teacher at our school asked me if I’d be willing to come to her class and talk about one of the presidents. She didn’t specifically ask me to dress up as one but I decided I would, especially when I was allowed to be Abe Lincoln.

As you can see, I’ve altered my facial hair a bit for this visit. That has freaked Dorothy out a bit. She says I should never do that again. Anyway, I also had to color my beard because, although he was a little bit older than me he didn’t have too much grey in his and mine is mostly grey at this point. Obviously I’m not tall enough or thin enough to really look like Lincoln, but given that I couldn’t easily change those features, I think I make a pretty respectable Honest Abe (or Amish Abe, as Dorothy calls me).

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Violin Scroll

Violin Scroll

Violin Scroll

I’ve already posted a photo for today but Dorothy (rightly) insisted that I needed to post a picture that I took, so, this is what you get. It is, obviously, the scroll at the top of a violin neck. I love the colors of wood and the lines of carved wood. So, there you are.

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Reflecting On Kendra and Dorothy

Kendra and Dorothy

Kendra and Dorothy

I took some pictures at BWI airport this afternoon but they aren’t particularly interesting. Better by far to have a couple familiar faces. Familiar to some of you, anyway. I think this picture reflects well on Kendra and Dorothy. I also took a few “selfies— showing my Abe Lincoln beard but they’re just too scary to be made public.

The lighting was a bit tricky because if I aimed the light forward then the wall around the mirror was too bright and if I aimed it backwards then the wall behind the girls was too bright. This one is a little dark but balances the light better than some of the others.

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What’s In Bloom

Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite)

Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite)

Galanthus nivalis (Common Snowdrops)

Galanthus nivalis (Common Snowdrops)

Helleborus sp. (Lenten Rose)

Helleborus sp. (Lenten Rose)

We don’t usually think of things being in bloom this time of year. At least not here, we don’t. In Florida or more tropical realms I’m sure it’s fairly well expected. And of course in the southern hemisphere it’s summer so I’m sure there are things blooming. But it’s pretty much still firmly winter here and we don’t associate winter with flowers.

If you don’t like that about winter, then perhaps today’s post will cheer you up a bit. We have three things blooming in our yard right now — things that bloom regularly this time of year. In fact, they all have common names that speak to when they bloom. The first is winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis). It’s a tiny little woodland perennial from Europe. It is only about 3 inches tall because although it has a stem, it’s an underground stem and the leaves come off of that, with flowers above the leaves. They take a good while to get established and really, our heavy clay soil isn’t terribly well suited to them, so they don’t do as well here as they might. I planted some a few years ago and one or two have bloomed each year since but I really need to plant more and in more locations.

The second thing that we have blooming now are common snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis). As their name implies, they often bloom when there is snow on the ground. They are also mostly white, which may be where they get their name, but I don’t really know. We have a few bunches of these in various places around the yard and they are a welcome bit of white when most of the garden is brown.

Finally, and most flamboyantly, the Lenten rose is blooming. We have one very well established Lenten rose (some variety of Helleborus) that has this wonderful claret color. I think of all the flowers in our yard, I like the color of this one best. Well, I like the blues, as well, but this is right up there. The fact that it blooms now makes it that much more special. We do have a few new Lenten rose plants that I put in last year but they are not blooming. Given a year to get established and I think they will do fine next year. They are both white, which should be nice.

So, if you’re a bit blue because everything is brown, plant some February blooming plants and it will be that much easier to get through the cold winter months.

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Spices

Paprika, Mustard, Turmeric, and Coriander

Paprika, Mustard, Turmeric, and Coriander

I didn’t get a chance to go out today and in the evening was wondering what to photograph to share here. I had some spices out so I decided to put some in measuring spoons and photograph that. I’m not crazy about the composition but I do like the colors of the spices. These are four that I use quite a lot, although not in the proportions shown here (I use much more coriander than turmeric, for instance). They are, from left to right, Hungarian paprika, English mustard, turmeric, and coriander.

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Dorothy and Julia

Dorothy and Julia

Dorothy and Julia

My Tuesday photographs are starting to all be taken at Dorothy’s friend Julia’s house. Dorothy goes there regularly on Tuesday and unless I’ve already taken pictures that day, I’m sure to get something there. Fortunately they have interesting things about. Not least in terms of interest, is Julia herself. Julia’s mom, Maureen, is not really happy having her picture taken, although she’s appeared twice here. Usually pleas that I not take someone’s picture fall on deaf ears but when the person asking hosts my daughter each week, well, I will try to honor that.

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Water Droplets

Water Droplets on a Rose Stem

Water Droplets on a Rose Stem

It was a rainy day today, with the rain getting fairly hard at times and with significant wind. As I left for work this morning, I stopped to take some pictures of water droplets on the rose bush by our front door. They pictures don’t really do justice to it. With the morning light glistening off the water, it was quite beautiful. I do like the way you can see the spruce in our yard through each of the droplets (well, through the few that are close to being in focus).

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Daddy Needs a New Pair of Shoes

My Soul Is Tired

My Soul Is Tired

Actually, daddy got a new pair of shoes and this is the old pair. As you can see, they were starting to get a bit worn. Or, as Larry Norman said in that song, “my souls half worn and my tongue hung about, and with the broken laces I was trippin’ out.” I don’t know how many pairs of laces I went through with those shoes. I paid $25 for them over seven years ago, though, so I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth.

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