We had a group of folks over this evening, including young Henry, whose photograph has been featured here a few times. We got out some toys for him and the older kids enjoyed showing him this Hoberman sphere. He wasn’t so sure he wanted anything to do with it. Preston, on the other hand, thought it was a lot of fun wearing it on his head.
Monthly Archives: June 2013
Dorothy had her annual piano recital this afternoon and we enjoyed listening to her play. Her good friend Julia also takes piano lessons from Rhonda and she was right after Dorothy. Actually, I enjoyed all the performers. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older, or what, but I find it easier and easier each year to enjoy the music of all levels and not wish it would just end. Well done, everyone. We had a special treat this year. One student, the boy on the right in this photograph, played his piano pieces and then he played a duet with his teacher with her on the piano and him on the clarinet. That was lovely.
We had a bit of rain today. I hadn’t realized it was coming because my desk is situated so that I’m facing away from my window most of the time. I also have a fan running most of the time because it’s always pretty hot in my office. A particularly strong gust of wind blew the rain against the window loudly enough that I noticed, so I pulled out the camera and took a few pictures. Rain on a window isn’t all that interesting, I suppose, but it represents today pretty well. If you happen to like water on glass, as I do, then you might enjoy the work of this painter. I have to keep reminding myself that these are oil paintings, not photographs. http://www.gregorythielker.com/Under/unmindingsky.html
Every year the second grade class at our school learns about immigration in the early part of the 20th century. The culmination of their lessons on this is their half-day Ellis Island Experience. They spend most of the morning in a hot, dark, and cramped ship (made of desks in their classroom with the heat turned on). There are various activities during that time but I’m not a part of that so don’t know exactly what. Each student has been given an identity and the history of an immigrant. They are dressed for their roles and have bags with all their earthly belongings.
At about 11:00 AM they arrive at “Ellis Island” and have to face first the medical inspector and then the immigration officer (that’s me). If they are found well enough by the medical inspector and if everything else is in order, they are allowed to enter the united states. In this case the quota for immigrants from Ireland had already been reached and I had to send the Flanagan family home to Ireland. The three boys in the class were not happy about not being able to enter America and they learned first hand why Ellis Island is sometimes known as the Island of Tears.
This photo is the class (including the boys) back on the boat after they were all done, “coming to america.”
Cathy and I went for a walk this afternoon and as I was waiting for her I noticed there was a great blue heron in the pond between our buildings. I took a few pictures of it standing in the water but knew that as soon as I tried to get any closer it would take off. So, instead of trying to get closer, I got ready for its take off and asked Cathy to walk a little towards the water. I’m often unhappy with pictures i get of herons taking off, usually because I don’t get them at the right moment. This one turned out pretty well.
Most of our roses have finished their first big bloom of the year. There will be roses on many of them off and on throughout the summer but never anything to compare with this first flush of flowers. The exception is ‘New Dawn’, which is just coming into full bloom. It’s on the back fence behind a big rugosa (‘Roseraie de l’Hay’) and to the right of the pink flowering multiflora, which is done for the year. It’s also behind my vegetable garden, which only has sorrel and onions in it right now.
We spent an enjoyable evening having dinner in our friends’ barn. It was a really nice time of being with old friends as well as making some new. Dorothy’s friend, Hannah came with us and towards the end of the evening she enjoyed blowing bubbles. This picture has been modified slightly (but only slightly), but it’s how I saw what she was doing. So, think of this as an impressionistic view of Hannah blowing bubbles.
We went to two graduation ceremonies today. The first was in Fairfax and was for our friend Maria, shown here with her parents, Jean and Buck. It seems like only yesterday that she was just a little girl and now she’s a beautiful young lady, off to college in the fall. Congratulations, Maria, we are very proud of you, and I know your family is, too. Sorry we couldn’t stay for your party, but we had a second graduation to go to.
Our second graduation of the day was at Dorothy’s school, Washington Christian Academy. Because it’s a relatively small school, and because Dorothy is only one year behind these folks, we know most of the graduating class. Rather than post a picture of any one or even any small group of them, I figure I should post something with everyone in it, even if you cannot see their faces. For those of you who follow me via Facebook, I’ll be posting a few pictures there when I get the chance, but for now, here’s a celebratory moment.
Congratulations to Edna, Danielle, Michelle, Michael, Jeff, Reed, Carrie, Jessica, Greg, Rebekah, Libby, Abigail, Erin, Hannah, Madison, Rachael, Lidia, Jake, Lauren, Alex, Connor, Nick, Joe, Jason, Lauren, Dillon, Toni, Amanda, Tyler, Kyle, and Justin.
I’m not sure what sort of bee this is. They seem to be fairly common. It’s hard to tell scale from this picture but the bee is not more than 10mm long and possibly a little less than that. It moved from flower to flower fairly quickly so it was a fair job keeping up with it but I managed to get a few that are probably good enough for someone who knows these things to identify it. If I get a name, I’ll update the post.
Update: The good folks at BugGuide.net have identified this as being in the genus Ceratina, the small carpenter bees.
These are tiny little flowers that you normally don’t look at individually. In general they are seen as a small amount of color above a mound of foliage. If there are a lot of Heuchera (coral bells) planted together then the flowers can create a sort of pink mist above the leaves, which is particularly nice.
I know a neighborhood entrance not too far from here where that’s been done and it’s quite lovely right now. This particular plant is by itself, so there are just a few stems of tiny pink flowers. Still, it’s nice.
This part of our garden has come a long way in not quite seven years. It was entirely filled with pachysandra and there’s still plenty of that, but there are a half dozen nice ferns of different sorts coming up through it, some lily of the valley, a few astilbe and spiderwort, and various other things that add up to significant variety. I think more ferns wouldn’t go amiss, but it’s nice to have a little color besides green, now and then.
I already posted a photo for June 10 but Dorothy didn’t like the one I selected, saying I should post this one instead. I’ve decided to post both, so there. I know I’ve said before that I like water droplets on flowers and plant leaves. Well, that’s what we’ve got here, obviously.
This is a little Asiatic lily that has water droplets on it. Pretty much orange, too. I do like the intense colors.
Update: Apparently I posted the wrong picture.
Dorothy thanked me for posting the picture of the water droplets on the petals of the Asiatic lily but said that wasn’t the picture she liked the most. So, I’ve added the photo that she liked best. I’m ambivalent, sometimes liking one and sometimes the other, so I’ll leave it at that. They are both quite intense, in terms of the orange color. Feel free to like whichever one best.
I went to pick up Dorothy this evening and ran into a few old friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in a while. James was there with his grandmother and I took a few pictures of them. She was talking about her newest grandson, Jacob, and told James to show me what Jacob looks like. This is what he did.
Apparently Jacob was a bit of a crier at first but recently he has become interested in everything. He stares around with an amazed expression on his face similar to this one.
Sort of unexpected turn of events. I had hernia surgery just over a month ago. It wasn’t healing well and seemed to be infected. I went to see the doctor yesterday and we decided he should get in and clean things up. So, I’m back in the O.R. to be reopened. Would have been better if he put a zipper in me so he didn’t have to use a knife this time, but that’s the way it goes. The nurses got a kick out of me taking pictures of the pre-op area and of my hand with an I.V. tube going into it. I didn’t know if I would feel up to taking pictures later in the day, so I figured I better get something done before they put me out. As it turned out, I didn’t take any more pictures, so you’re stuck with this one. The surgery went well and I’m home, recovering.
Since most of my followers are reasonably local, most of you probably already know of the severe storm we had here. For those of you seeing this from further afield (I know there are a few folks in Alaska and England, to name a few places) we had a small tornado touch down about a mile and a half from our house.
We had little or no damage to our trees. The cap blew off the top of our furnace chimney. That chimney isn’t actually used any more, so except for keeping water out, it’s not that bit a deal. There were a lot of trees down in the neighborhood, though. Around the corner the road was blocked and in the evening crews were working. Up at the end of a court a tree was down on a van, but thankfully no one was hurt. Our friends had a tree fall between their house and the neighbors’ house, doing only minimal damage and barely missing one of their cars. Yes, this one could have been a lot worse. To add great news to the good news of it missing their house and cars, it turns out the tree belongs to the county so they won’t even have to pay to cut it down.
Some people were not so fortunate, of course, and our prayers go out for them.
I took a few more pictures of the Asiatic lilies this afternoon. We have them in containers as well as a few spots in our garden. Most of them and all the bright orange ones, came from my dad’s garden. They produce little bulbils or bulblets in the axils of the leaves. These bulbils can be planted and will grow into new plants identical to their parent. Cathy collected these from my dad’s lilies and put them in pots and now we have quite a few. I’m not sure you could have too many of them, they are so bright and cheerful.
We had a lovely time and Ralph and Tsai-Hong’s this afternoon, visiting with family, enjoying a beautiful, reasonably cool day, celebrating two family birthdays, and generally just relaxing. Their garden is in a bit of a lull after the amazing flush from the roses. The hydrangeas are just starting to come out and will be nice and pink soon. Right now they only have a touch of color and that’s sort of nice, as well.
I took some fern pictures this afternoon but fern pictures are pretty easy to come by. Dorothy visited with her good friend Simone this afternoon and I took some pictures of them. Pictures of Simone are considerably harder to come by because Simone lives out of town. Dorothy didn’t particularly like the pictures with both of them, so you get a picture of just Simone. Not that that’s a bad thing, just a thing. Here you are.
Dorothy and some of her friends left for summer camp this evening. It was a beautiful, warm afternoon and spirits were high as five buses of kids and counselors headed off for West Virginia for five fun-filled days and nights. As usual, I took a few pictures. In this one are, from left to right, Dorothy, Hannah, Kendra, Emma, and Safiya. Have a great time, guys.
It was a rainy day today and I didn’t get out to take pictures. Also, I’m still trying to take things a bit easy. When I got home it was a little dark out but I took a few pictures of the Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) flowers, which are just starting to open up. We have this orange variety and another that is pure yellow. I think the flowers are pretty cool and perhaps a little alien. I expect to be revisiting these again as they continue to open up. They are also a good place to get bee pictures.
I took some pictures of rabbits in our yard this evening after work. They are plentiful, fat, and happy. I’m tempted to do something about them. Our neighbors on both sides have dogs so our yard is something of a safe haven for them.
I also took some pictures of the onions growing in my vegetable garden. I didn’t actually plant any vegetables this spring but there are onions that came up from seed last year, which are getting quite large now.
Finally, I took some pictures of this little fellow (or lady). There was a little swarm of them but I only had a chance to get a photograph of this one, when it landed for a moment. I’m pretty sure it is one of the many snipe flies (there are about 700 species worldwide). My first guess is that it is either Rhagio hirtus or Chrysopilus tomentosus. This photo was hand held, so not as sharp as I’d like. I’ll try to hunt this little creature again, and with a tripod.
As flies go, these are our friends. Few of them bite and they are all predaceous on a variety of other small insects.
I went out again today, hoping to get a better picture of a snipe file like the one I bagged yesterday. I did see both snipe and syrphid flies and got some pictures but nothing significantly better than yesterday’s. This is a feather-legged fly, Trichopoda pennipes and I’m pretty happy with the picture.
This is another friendly insect and they are actually used in the control of stink and squash bugs. Considering how many stink bugs we have had the last few years, this is someone I’m very happy to have around.
More insect pictures today. It’s starting to be bug time. Most of the bees I’ve been seeing are bumble bees (Bombus sp.). There are a lot of them on the gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) but this photo is of one on the purple-top vervain (Verbena bonariensis), growing in the middle of our back yard. It used to be in the bed around two trees but the trees are gone now and we’ll see how it does with the extra sun.
Actually, as I look out back now, I see the curved outlines of that bed and think it might be just about the right shape and size for a significant water feature — part pond and part bog garden. That’s not going to happen before fall, but it might happen eventually. I’ll probably want to wait a year for the major roots to rot out a bit, then it should be a lot easier to dig there. I have at least one other design, though, and I’m not sure which I like better. So, we’ll have to see what happens.
I did take some more pictures of bees today but they are enough like yesterday’s picture that I won’t bore you with them. We happened to stop at the American Plant Food garden center on River Road today. While Cathy shopped, I took a few pictures, both of bees and of flowers (and sometimes both, obviously). This is a coneflower that, despite it’s specific name, is not purple. At the variety name indicates, it’s white. I do like coneflowers.
Their generic name, Echinacea comes from the Greek word meaning “sea urchin,” from the appearance of the center of the flower. What you might consider to be their petals are actually bracts surrounding the compound flower or inflorescence. The bracts tend to get chewed up a bit by insects so it’s sometimes hard to find particularly photogenic examples. This one, however, is quite nice and I very much like the pure white bracts.
It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since we saw these lovely folks but when they were here last they were just under a month away from having their second child and now here they are with three! What a wonderful time we had catching up, hearing stories, and reconnecting. And what a beautiful family they are becoming. Lilias is becoming quite the little lady and Yan is cute, if somewhat wary of strangers. Thank you all for giving us a day of your time and God bless you as you follow him.
Dorothy spent the afternoon at her grandma’s house today, doing some of her summer reading (Brave New World) and getting some rest after a week at camp. When I went to pick her up in the evening I took a few pictures of the hardy gardenia growing in mom’s front yard. I wish I could have recorded the fragrance for you. It can be almost overpowering but it’s such a lovely smell that it’s hard to care. I brought a few home and put them in the kitchen and we’ve been enjoying them here.
It was quite warm today, around 95°F (35°C) but thanks to modern technology, specifically air conditioning, we can remain in cool comfort when needed. When I got home, however, I went out back to see what critters were about. I’ll post an insect photo separately.
The smaller day lilies have been blooming for some little while now but the larger varieties are just getting started. This is a semi-abstract image of one of them. Hemerocallis combines two Greek words which mean “day” and “beautiful” alluding to the fact that the flowers, which are quite beautiful, last but a single day.
The mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) is just starting to bloom and there was a wasp or a fly or two flitting about. This is some species of blow fly (Family Calliphoridae) and I think it’s in the genus Lucilia. Most people don’t like flies much and I suppose they have good reason.
Still, many of them are beneficial in one way or another, even if that way happens to be helping recently dead things get broken down into a less offensive form. Blow flies are scavengers and lay their eggs in carrion, which sounds nasty but it’s better than having smelly carcases lying around for days.
On the other hand, blow flies are also one of the main families of flies causing myiasis in livestock and occasionally in humans. If you think laying eggs in carrion is gross, you don’t want to know what myiasis is.
When I picked Dorothy up from her friend’s house this evening, I got out of the car to chat for a bit before we left. As we were talking I noticed this bird in the grass of the front yard. I’m not sure what sort of bird it is and to be honest, I didn’t pay that close attention. I did get my camera and took a few pictures of it, though. Poor thing probably came out of a next in the tree overhead. It must have been there for some little while, as it was nestled down into the grass quite comfortably. Still, I don’t give too much for its chances. A bird that cannot fly is easy prey for a neighborhood cat.
More insect pictures today, but I think this one of Campanula flowers is nicer and we haven’t had as many flowers lately. I got more pictures of the green blow fly but nothing significantly better than what I’ve already posted. I also took some pictures of a small spider of unknown type. I think it might be a lynx spider of the species Oxyopes aglossus, but the picture wasn’t really good enough to be sure. Anyway, this is a nice picture of a pretty little flower, don’t you think?
It was a very changeable day today, with heavy clouds and impending rain. It did rain a few times but never for very long. We were in Bethesda with some good friends this evening and got back to their house just as the sun was going down. The clouds, which were quite dramatic, parted and exposed some clear sky. This picture was taken looking almost straight up between a pair of trees. There wasn’t much color to the sunset but just a tinge in these clouds.
The bergamot flowers in our back garden provide a nice splash of red that’s quite obvious from the house. As you get closer you might notice a small swarm of tiny flies around them. The flies land on the flowers occasionally but are easier to see when they land on the leaves. Even then, it’s hard to get close enough to capture them very well. In addition to insect pictures, I also took a few of the flower parts. The cluster of flowers in the bergamot (Monarda) head blooms over time. In this picture, the flowers in the center are finished and the flowers around the rim, with their bright red petals, are in bloom.
This is, I’m pretty sure, a cuckoo wasp (family Chrysididae) in the subfamily Chrysidinae. All of the species in that sub-family have metalic green, blue, or in once case red exoskeleton. They are easy to spot but not always easy to photograph, this is pretty good but I’m still hoping for something sharper. They are not very big, only about a centimeter long, and my lens doesn’t focus any closer than a foot. Maybe it’s time I invested in a set of extension tubes. Of course, they little things don’t stop moving, either, which is a significant issue. The yellow in this picture is pollen from the yarrow (Achillea millefolium) on which the wasp is perched.