We went over to my mom’s for dinner this evening. There wasn’t really any special occasion. She had been at a sort of mini-family reunion in Virginia and had made quite a bit of curry chicken salad and had a pretty good amount left over. It needed to be eaten so we obliged and ate some. It was nice to get together just for the fun of it and nice that Steve and Maya are in town now, which I sometimes don’t remember for some reason. They brought their not-quite-new-any-more corgi, D’Argo, with them and that’s who is in this photo. I’m not sure whose hand that is.
Monthly Archives: September 2013
I’ve posted plenty of flower pictures here. Flowers are one of my favorite subjects, along with the critters that crawl on and fly around them. In 2010 I took a picture of some roses and other flowers in this vase that turned out to be one of the nicer pictures I’ve ever taken. It is certainly my favorite still life out of all that I’ve taken.
Today’s picture is of flowers that have been sitting a little too long. They looked very nice when they were put in this vase, but that was ten days ago. They still have a bit of color but have faded a bit. I probably should have worked harder to get a uniform background instead of having the far edge of the table in the frame. Still, I kind of like the composition and the blue tablecloth background with the faded pastels of the flowers. There are roses (the larger pink flowers), Verbina bonariensis (which have turned pretty completely brown), both white and purple Conoclinium coelestinum (which are mostly still white and purple), and two coneflowers (with their large, cone-like seed heads.
Dorothy’s had her learner’s permit since the middle of October, last year. She drove a few times, starting out staying in our neighborhood and then venturing out onto larger and busier roads. She hasn’t driven since December, though. It’s been a combination of her not caring and us not pushing it. Today, we went out driving again. having been out of the driver’s seat so long, it was a little like starting over but she regained her confidence fairly quickly and she did quite well.
Cathy and I went for a short walk this afternoon, walking around my office building a few times. It was a pretty day, on the border between warm and hot. The sky was a rare, deep blue and very clear. As we walked I had my camera with me (like you do) and was looking for things to photograph. These pine needles and cones against the blue sky caught my eye, so that’s what you get for today. I like this photograph, but mostly for the green of the needles against the blue of the sky.
I didn’t get outside during the day today but I did get this picture from my office window. There were two fawns, actually, both along the side of the parking lot between our lot and the empty lot next door. I’ve seen deer in that empty lot a few times and have come across the bones of deer quite a few times. This is the first time I’ve seen them out in the open on our side of the fence (not that the fence is going to stop them — it’s low enough that I can step over it without any trouble).
Dorothy was feeling like pizza this evening but by the time Kendra got here and we got going, it was nearly 9:00. By the time we got to Angelo’s, it was just about closing time. We decided to try Armand’s, instead, since they are open later. We ordered two pizzas and waited around outside while they were made and cooked. This picture is from Wasabi-Zen, the sushi place in the same building. Since the girls don’t really eat fish, we don’t do sushi much, unfortunately. Anyway, the pizza was terrific.
I saw a new type of wasp today. Well, new to me, anyway. They’ve been around for a while. The genus Philanthus are known, collectively, as beewolves, because they prey on bees. The female hunts for bees, buries them in brood tunnels, and lays an egg on each. When the larvae hatch, they have a nice, readily available food supply.
This particular species, Philanthus gibbosus is the most common of the north American species. It’s not all that big, between 15 and 18mm in length but it’s brightly marked with yellow. You can see the three simple eyes (ocelli) on the top of the head, although if you didn’t know they were there, you might not notice them. This wasp, like many others in our yard, it particularly fond of the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum).
It’s a little surprising that Spencer’s picture hasn’t appeared here before now. He was mentioned in a post, when he gave some cookies to Dorothy and I took a picture of the cookies, but there hasn’t been a picture of him. So, here he is. Granted, this isn’t the best picture of him I’ve ever taken, but I think it does him justice.
Dorothy had a day off from school today and we decided, sort of at the last minute, to take a trip down to James Madison University. We saw the campus in July of 2012 but it wasn’t an “official” visit and we didn’t take a tour. Last night we signed up for a tour today at 10:00 AM. We left home at about 7:30 and got there in good time. We saw what was to be seen and ate lunch in the dining hall before driving home. Dorothy agreed to sit with Duke before we left.
From the company website:
In 2013, Westat is celebrating 50 years of research and analysis, contributing to numerous advances in health, education, the environment, and public policy. We are commemorating this anniversary with a number of events throughout the year to recognize this milestone, and we have adopted the tagline “50 Years … Improving lives through research” to highlight the year.
One of the events mentioned was a big party under a tent in the parking lot. It was quite a party, actually, and the food was excellent. It would have been nicer if it wasn’t quite so hot, but that’s another matter. Earlier in the day I took this picture of the tent from the rooftop terrace.
The black-eyed Susans are fading, as I mentioned two weeks ago. They still have a fair amount of color but are starting to dry up. Personally, I think they still look pretty nice in their semi-dried out state. This is one in a large patch growing in the middle of our back yard. There was a small patch here last year but with the two trees that used to shade it now gone, the patch has become very vigorous. I’m not sure what we’ll do there next year, but it seems like a good spot for some sun-loving things. More roses, perhaps.
There was rain in the forecast for this afternoon and when I left my building to go to an all-day class I thought about moving my car as well and putting it in the parking garage. I decided not to and by the time we were getting ready to leave it was coming down pretty hard. Thankfully, Albert gave me a ride back to my car. At lunch time I went out on the roof to take a few pictures. The sky was quite dramatic and very pretty at that point. About three hours later, it got dark and the thunder started to rumble. Another hour and the power had gone out and all our computers had shut down.
Yesterday Cathy noticed this spider out in front of our house. There are two pillars holding up our front porch and it was between one of those and the house, to the side of where we walked. Since it wasn’t bothering anyone and since in general I consider spiders a force for good, I left it alone. This morning as I came out I didn’t see it there where it had been yesterday. With the heavy rain we had last night (and it was still coming down this morning, off and on) I wasn’t too surprised to find it gone. As I walked out from under the porch, though, I found where it had moved when I got a face full of web. As much as I like spiders, I’m not a big fan of spider webs in my face, especially when they are patrolled by a spider as big as this one.
This is a common spider in the Neoscona genus, the Spotted Orbweavers.
It was a wonderfully cool fall day today and I took full advantage of it. Dorothy was away on a church retreat. Cathy had her second soccer game of the fall season. I ran up to Germantown to the Lancaster County Dutch Market to buy a few things. From there I went out 118 to our friends’ farm outside of Poolesville. On the way I passed Springs Farm and stopped to take a few photographs. I complained here recently that we don’t live in an absurdly beautiful place, like some of our friends and relations. I don’t know if this qualifies as absurdly beautiful and it isn’t exactly on my daily commute, but it’s pretty nice. I love the yellowing soy beans in the foreground, the incredible blue of the sky and of course the red barn as a focal point.
On Muncaster Mill Road, between Magruder High School and where it crosses the ICC and between those two roads there is a field of yellow flowers. I assume someone planted them but it isn’t clear who would have done so. I’ve driven past it many times over the years and finally decided to stop today and take some pictures. I’m not sure what sort of flowers they are but they are quite pretty, particularly en masse. Getting a photograph that conveys that was a bit difficult because once you are out in them, they are tall enough that you cannot see them all. Also, I tried to keep the highway out of the picture.
The school science department has a fundraiser each year at Cheeburger Cheeburger in Olney. Naturally, I took a few pictures, including this one of Dorothy and Nicole. My wide angle lens does funny things with heads when they are near the edges of pictures but this one isn’t as noticeably distorted as some. Naturally, a good time was had by all. My peanut butter and Heath bar milkshake was awesome (as always).
Another in my series of pictures to refute my own complaint that I don’t live in a pretty place. I don’t pass Lake Needwood in the middle of the day that often, usually going by on the way to work after dropping the carpool off at school or coming home late in the day. I was fortunate enough to be going by at about 11:00 today and stopped for some pictures. I has stayed cool and the sky has remained a wonderful clear blue that we don’t see in the sweltering heat of summer. This may not be the Rockies but it’s a pretty place, I think.
The church youth team met this evening to make plans for the fall. Since I didn’t really have much time to get out and take pictures today, I took a few pictures of the team. We had a nice dinner together and planned all the details of our X-Factor kick-off. I think it’s going to be fun.
From left to right, we have Donna, Maureen, D., and Donna.
I posted a picture of a drying out black-eyed Susan the other day and you get treated to another today. This really captures the feel of our back yard right now. There is still significant color but it’s starting to change from bright yellow, pink, and purple to brown. It’s actually a very pretty time of year, especially as the leaves begin to change to brighter colors, before making their final transition to brown themselves. It’s been cool and wonderful, just as it should.
Sticking to my theme of approaching autumn, there are a few autumn crocuses blooming in our yard. They were planted along the edge of the pachysandra in front of our sidewalk but it has spread a bit and now they are a bit engulfed. They’re not really tall enough for that spot. Also, something has been nibbling on the petals. While Colchicum is extremely poisonous to us, it doesn’t bother slugs in the least.
We had a small gathering for our friend Keith today, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his birth. We had delicious beef barbecue, collard greens, salad, cornbread, potato salad, etc. as well as cake and ice cream. It was a good time of fellowship with good friends. This isn’t the best possible picture of Keith but it’s the best I got on the day. Happy Birthday, brother!
Yesterday’s birthday party for Keith was a bigger gathering and there was a lot more food. Nevertheless, today’s birthday bash, with just the three of us plus the guest of honor, was just as important. Cathy’s mom turned 87 today and we celebrated in quiet fashion at her house. The light bulb is a little out of place but Cathy was changing a few that had burned out and just happened to have it in her hand.
We have fewer trees in our yard than we did even six months ago, to say nothing of when we moved in. There are still two rather ratty maple trees of the five that were in the back yard when we moved here. The three that are gone were considerably larger. Two of the three large oaks along the front are still here. The middle of those oaks, which all belong to the county, was nearly dead and we had them come cut it down. Because of that, this promises to be the lightest raking year we’ve had since we bought our first house in 1993.
The leaves are starting to turn as they days have been cool and pleasant. This leaf isn’t as red as some but I like the way the light shines through it, lighting up the colors and giving them real life. Fall is certainly a pretty time of year and I’m quite looking forward to it.
With the cooler temperatures, our roses have all decided it would be fun to bloom a bit, so we have quite a few flowers opening. It isn’t anything like the first spring flush, but it’s a nice autumnal bonus. This rose is called ‘Jaune Desprez’, a Noisette bred by Jean Desprez in France in 1835. No one is going to rely on me for French translation but ‘Jaune’ is ‘yellow’. It is a vigerous, climbing rose growing on our back fence and while it doesn’t bloom heavily all summer, it does have at least a few flowers on it most of the year.
These are along the edge of the woods behind my building, next to where I park most days. I’ve been meaning to take pictures of them for a week or so but I’ve been busy at work and by the time I leave, I just want to leave. Today I made the effort and here you are. This is Lonicera maackii, the Amur or Bush Honeysuckle. It is an invasive species and is fairly common in the Eastern United States (and in one county in Oregon, according to the USDA). In general I’d recommend pulling it up anywhere you find it. I do like the red berries, though, that come out this time of year (but they are poisonous, so don’t try eating them).
Today markes a milestone of sorts. I suppose all days are milestones, if we think about it. But today is the one thousandth consecutive day on which I’ve taken at least one photograph. Technically, the milestone was reached three days ago but it was 1,000 days ago today, January 1, 2011, that I began the conscious effort of taking photographs every day. I happen to have taken photographs on December 29, 30, and 31 of 2010, but those just happen to have been taken. Whatever. Actually, the photos here only start at the end of 2011 because the first year they were posted on Facebook. I’m in the process of importing them into this site, so eventually they’ll all be here.
For today’s photo, we have two of our next door neighbors, Corinne and J.J. who are 4½ and 2½ respectively. As you can see, they are out for a ride being pulled by their dad. Their little brother was on the back of Katie’s (their mom’s) bike. As it happens, today is another milestone. Happy birthday, Katie.
When Cathy and I were in high school (and starting long before we were) a wonderful couple from our church opened their home on a regular basis to high school kids. The K’s open house was definitely a highlight of those years. They aren’t opening their home any more but the tradition lives on in two homes next to each other in the same general part of the county. Thank’s Kato and Doug, Kathy and Michael for doing for Dorothy what the K’s did for us. They’re big shoes to fill but you’re doing a great job.
I’m not much good when it comes to identifying mushrooms. I’m also not particularly interested in trying. I don’t know about my brothers but the memory of “the night of the mushrooms” still affects me, I think.
Dad used to pick mushrooms on the lawn at NIH where he worked and mom would use them in her cooking. Dad had identified them as safe and we ate them many times without any problem (so it wasn’t the mushrooms’ fault). One day he got to work and the grounds crew was mowing the grass. Since that would chop off the mushrooms, he picked them in the morning and kept them in a fridge at work. We never found out what happened, really, but have always assumed that the lawn had been sprayed with something before the mowers came. That night, after eating the mushrooms as part of our dinner, we all spent pretty much the whole night throwing up. It isn’t something you easily forget. I think most of us were a little put off mushrooms for a while. I’ve gotten over that, but eating wild-picked mushrooms, particularly those growing in cultivated lawns, is still something I’m hesitant to do.
In any case, this large mushroom, probably 5 inches across, came up over the site of one of the trees that was in our back yard. It looks like the squirrels have been nibbling on the edge of it. They are welcome to it. I’ll stick to store-bought chanterelles, porcini, morels, and shiitake (although I did grow my own shiitake mushrooms for a while).
It’s not terribly uncommon for me to take pictures at church. Most everyone seems to have become used to seeing me with a camera and for the most part they humor me and pretend they don’t mind, which is nice of them. This morning I only took a few but this one, I think, is quite nice.
On a somewhat random note, these two girls have birthdays on each other’s half birthday. That is, their birthdays are exactly six month’s apart.
This is the same spider I had a picture of on September 13. At least it’s the same species. I don’t actually know if it’s the same one, but it certainly could be. This time it is in the back yard with its web between the flower stalks of Verbena bonariensis. I find that to be a much better place for a spider than across the entrance to my house. I tried to get pictures of it from the other side but it wouldn’t let me get close enough. Also, I was shooting into the sun from that side, which was difficult.
A week ago the leaves on the maple tree in our back yard had just started turning red. Now they are almost completely red. I’d say this tree is ahead of most in the area, but it’s quite lovely, particularly in the afternoon light. When I got home today it was nice to look out back and have the evening sun shining through the red leaves, turning them a shade brighter. It is somewhat difficult to capture, though, because the dynamic range of our cameras aren’t nearly broad enough for the brightness of the sun back-lighting the leaves. So, you’ll have to make do with this shot, not quite in the direct sunlight.