Bare Tree and Fall Colors
The autumn has proceeded fairly slowly this year. There were individual trees and bushes with significant and sometimes brilliant color but in general, the woods have remained mostly green The last day or two, however, has brought out the best in the fall color and, unless I’m very much mistaken, you’ll be seeing a few pictures of it here over the next few days.
This picture is taken from a window in my building, just down the hall from my office. This morning it was overcast and the diffuse light brought out the red of the tree in the background to an amazing extent, contrasting wonderfully with the grey of the naked branches of the tree in the foreground. Later the sun came out. It’s still quite striking, I think, but less so that it was earlier in the day.
I took Dorothy to take the SAT this morning. The sky was amazingly dramatic as I was coming home. I picked up my camera and went out into the neighborhood. It was a beautiful day with the trees and shrubs all of beautiful hues.
This view, which is not as dramatic in the photograph as it was in reality, brought to mind a cathedral built of trees, reaching as high and much longer then the largest cathedral I’ve ever seen.
Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
Yes, squirrels are cute. They can be hugely fun to watch. They run around, up and down trees, leaping from branch to branch, and when it comes to getting food, particularly food left out for birds, they are ingenious. We have a bird feeder outside our dining room window. It’s a nice platform feeder with a glass top and really good for feeding birds when there is snow on the ground. Of course, the squirrels know about it and in fact, they end up eating most of whatever is left there. I’ve been meaning to rig up something to discourage the squirrels but haven’t gotten around to it yet. So, this morning I enjoyed watching a squirrel eat a few leftover wasabi peas. Yes, wasabi peas. They had gone a little soft from being left out and without the crunch of the dried pea, they just were not the same. This fellow, however, didn’t seem to mind at all. At least he didn’t actually complain. This is, of course, our own furry-tailed rat, the eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).
If the scene in yesterday’s first post was Autumn’s Cathedral then I think today’s is Autumn’s Chapel. It’s smaller and more intimate. Of course, it’s a fairly busy road, so in that sense, the title is totally wrong. Theze are Zelkova trees and they are beautiful this time of year. They are a good choice for a street tree and a good replacement, in some ways, for the American elm. They don’t get as big, but that could be considered an advantage, actually.
I really like this stretch of road. On a sunny day, it’s nice to drive into this tunnel and enjoy the deep shade the trees make. Of course, on a dark and stormy day, it can be like driving into night. Still, it makes me happy and I’m glad they have more planted, which are growing into similar tunnels at other spots along the road.
I was late getting around to taking any pictures today. I was taking pictures of small things in the kitchen when Dorothy came in with a new braid in her hair. I asked if I could take a picture of that, and here it is. It is called a fishtail braid. Perhaps we’ll resume our regularly scheduled collection of fall color photographs tomorrow. Who can tell?
Like yesterday, I didn’t take any pictures until late in the day. In fact, I was thinking of heading to bed when I realized that I hadn’t taken any all day. So, I looked around for something colorful to photograph. I caught sight of these masonry screws and thought they might make an interesting picture. I used a few of them recently to put up a bracket in the garage for hanging shovels and rakes and things. Actually, the first time I put it up, I tried drilling in the bricks but the bit wasn’t sharp enough. I settled for putting holes in the mortar instead. That was much easier but the screws weren’t tight enough in the loose mortar to hold very well. I bought a new bit (a pack of five, actually) and was able to get new holes drilled into the bricks. When these screws went in, they were quite tight. This thing isn’t coming down in a hurry. They’re colorful, too.
Fallen Maple Leaves
When I was very young (no, wait, that’s A. A. Milne)…
When I was young, we used to listen to a record by The Limeliters called Through Children’s Eyes. Interestingly, it’s one record that both Cathy’s family and ours listened to, so we both know the songs on it. One is called Lollipop Tree and it’s about having a tree grown from a lollipop stick. Naturally the fruit of the lollipop tree is lollipops. In my mind, this is sort of what the ground under my lollipop tree would look like. Of course it would be much stickier than this, and there would probably be ants all over it, but that’s a problem not addressed by the song.
There was a really amazing sunset this evening. Dorothy and I went to Maureen’s house and I had us leave at about 5:00 even though we were not supposed to get there until 5:30. We stopped on the way to take a few pictures and I’m really glad we stopped when we did. By the time we got to Maureen’s the sunset was basically finished. I said to Dorothy, “I left early on purpose so we’d have time to stop for pictures.” She said, “some people make allowances for heavy traffic. My dad makes allowances for sunsets.”
The first picture here, on the right, was taken with my 10-20mm zoom lens at about 17mm and shows a good portion of the sky. The colors were quite amazing. The second one, below, is a panorama made from six vertically oriented images taken with my 100mm. It basically just includes the brightest portion of the first image, right along the ground.
Here’s a random picture for you. This mug got dropped on the pavement outside. As you would expect, it shattered. We have more mugs than we almost ever need but once in a while, lots of people will be over and everyone wants tea or coffee and we’re glad we have them. Then, of course, there is a certain attrition rate, and eventually you have fewer. There is a box with a few mugs in it out in the garage. They were to get rid of but they never made it beyond the garage. Maybe I’ll bring one of those back inside.
Cerveza Pacífico and Heineken
We went out to dinner this evening and I took a few pictures in the restaurant. That’s always a little touchy, because I don’t want people in the restaurant thinking I’m taking their picture (especially if I am taking their picture). I do like lights and the patterns they make when out of focus. This picture if of two of the three neon lights that were above the bar. On the left is an advertisement for Cerveza Pacífico and on the right one for Heineken. I took some that are in focus, as well, but I like the colors in this one better.
There is nothing special about oak leaves. There are hundreds of thousands of them falling this week from trees throughout our area. And yet, each one of them is amazingly beautiful. Here are just a few, with the late afternoon sun shining through them. There are many beautiful things in this world and sometimes we don’t have to travel far to see them. The simple beauty of golden brown leaves against a darkening blue sky astounds me.
First Quarter Moon
I’ve griped before about the fact that I don’t have a good, long-focal-length lens. In spite of the fact that I still feel that way, I went out this evening and took some pictures of the moon from our front yard. It was high in the sky and just past being cut in half (which is a quarter moon rather than a half moon). I love looking at the moon, don’t you. Still (here I go again), I wish I had a good 500mm lens. Unfortunately, even a mediocre 500mm lens is pretty expensive and not really something I can justify.
Cathy and I often drive to work together on Mondays because she doesn’t have to leave earlier then I do to pick up Dorothy. After work I drove from my building to hers to pick her up and as I waited for her to come out, I took a few pictures. Odd pictures.
This is the wall behind my car, lit up by the car’s red tail light, as seen in the passenger-side rear view mirror.
Cathy called me at about 5:00 today and said there was a nice sunset. When I’m at my computer at work, which is most of the time, I’m facing away from the windows. Also, my window faces north, so I don’t usually see the sunset. This time, there was orange outside my window. I took a few from there but decided this sunset deserved a bit more attention, so I ran downstairs and out into the parking lot. There are trees that blocked the horizon but I still got a pretty good picture of the sky (I wonder if I could get on the roof of my building). What colors!
There was quite heavy traffic this evening. Usually it’s only heavy in the direction I’m going (more’s the pitty). This evening it was heavy in the other direction, as well, due to a small accident blocking one lane on that side of the road. While stopped in traffic, I took a few pictures of the lines of cars. Getting the exposure right on a picture like this is a little iffy and of course, I didn’t have a lot of time to fiddle about. In consequence, it’s a little darker than it actually was.
Reflections On an SUV
Today’s picture is another taken from the car. I was stopped at a traffic light and liked the bright red reflections in the black SUV next to me. Sometimes people paint simple stripes or occasionally flames on the side of their car. I think it would be cool to have reflections painted on the car so I looked like this all the time. Maybe it would be hard to make the painting bright enough, but it would be nice if you could.
Cathy’s Birthday isn’t quite here yet but we celebrated it this evening with her mom and brother, who flew into town yesterday for a few days. I took a few pictures around the house and of Cathy blowing out the candles on her cake (and boy were there a lot of them).
This picture is of one of the celebrants, a wooden pilgrim man wearing a festive, paper party hat. He teetotal wife, also made of wood, had none of it. Actually, I think she didn’t quite approve of the gift that Dorothy gave Cathy. I think, though, that when the xylem starts to phloem, she can party with the best of them. Or maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree.
In any case, we had a wonderful meal and a good visit.
We had some friends over this evening and had a wonderful time talking about all sorts of things. My dinner turned out well, although it took a bit longer to cook that I had expected. Still, we had a few munchies in the meantime and no one suffered unduly. Cathie brought a plate of autumn leaf cookies, which were not only beautiful but also delicious.
Thanks to all who were here. We had a great time.
Japanese Maple Leaves
Most of the leaves are down from most of the trees but there are still some that are holding out against the approach of winter. This Japanese maple is in Cathy’s mom’s yard and it’s got quite a bit of color yet. I took quite a few pictures of leaves from various angles and with various aperture for a range of depths of field.
I like the combination of orange and red in this picture, as well as the out of focus background.
Cathy, Pancakes, and Syrup
In the continuing story of the celebration of Cathy’s most recent birthday, the three of us went out for dinner this evening. It wasn’t what you might call a fancy dinner. We had thought to go to a small Italian place that we like pretty well. Unfortunately they are closed on Mondays so we had to fall back on Plan B. That, as it turned out, was a trip to IHOP. Not gourmet, particularly, but it was good and it was and is always nice to be together, just the three of us. Happy continued birthday!
Chain mail, that is. In a few weeks I plan to visit the fourth grade class at Dorothy’s school and talk about knights and castles. When we lived in England we loved castles and I still find them a lot of fun to visit. I plan to talk about some of the design features that are unique to castles. We’ll also talk about armor and I have borrowed a chain mail shirt and a few other things from Steve to bring with me. This is a section of chain mail — actually, it’s more than one thickness of mail, lying on a table. Pretty cool.
This evening I took Dorothy and four of her classmates to Johns Hopkins University to hear Ravi Zacharias speak. For those not familiar with the name, Dr. Zacharias is a Christian apologist and defender of traditional evangelicalism. Rather than simply copy his bio here, I’ll link to it on the RZIM web site. He was speaking this evening on the topic of “The Problem of Suffering and the Goodness of God.” We got there about a half hour before the program started and were fortunate to get seats, much less seats all together. It was a good talk and worth the effort. Of course, you can also hear him online or on the radio without driving to Baltimore. Still, it’s nice once in a while to actually see and hear people speak in person.
On May 26, 1914, Swiss chemist Jacques E. Brandenberger applied for a patent (awarded on May 21, 1918 as patent number 1,266,766) for a method of producing composite cellulose film, a.k.a. cellophane. Actually, I have no idea if this is true cellophane or some other film, but I think of it as cellophane, in any case. I spent the evening assembling and packaging photographs for the upcominb WCA Christmas Bazaar on Saturday and this is my trash bin, full of wrapping material.
After work I met Cathy and Dorothy at the school. Cathy had reserved a space for me for the Christmas Bazaar and Craft Sale tomorrow and when I got there they were working on sorting and pricing things for the Attic Treasures, basically a huge garage sale, in the gym. I brought in some things for my table and will bring the rest in tomorrow. Then I went to the gym and took pictures of people getting ready. These are some candles that I thought would make a colorful picture.
Weird Cloud Pattern
I was at the school today for the Christmas Bazaar when two friends came to my table and asked if I had my camera with me. Of course I did. They said that’s wait at my table for me and that I should go outside and look at the clouds to the north east. This is what I saw. I have no idea what might have caused this pattern. The rest of the sky was filled with a thin layer of clouds like the surrounding clouds in this picture, except to the west where it was clearing up. Strange.
UPDATE: A friend of mine identified this phenomenon for me. It is called a Fallstreak hole and the formation occurs when part of a cloud of water droplets freezes into ice crystals. Here is the relevant page on Wikipedia and also a page at The Cloud Appreciation Society.
My Photo Table
As I think I mentioned, I had a vendor table at the WCA Christmas Bazaar today. It’s something I look forward to every year and I had a great time. Of course, many of the people that I saw are old friends but I usually meet a few new people or get to know some that I’ve only just met recently. I sold a fair number of cards and prints and enjoyed all the visiting. Thank you to everyone who stopped by. Dorothy took this picture of me, so I could show you my display. Nothing fancy, of course, because I’m not really a fancy person.
Do you know how to make a Venetian blind? Poke his eyes out. Old joke and not terribly funny. Sorry about that.
I was looking for things to photograph this afternoon as the sun was streaming in the windows on the back of our house. The first pictures were of windows with the blinds open. The sunlight was strong and it was just a little bit hazy and the windows, which frankly could use a bit of washing, actually made an interesting study. Then I noticed the color on these blinds and decided I liked this picture quite a bit more. Also, it doesn’t make us look like slobs quite so much.
Actually, the color is on the blinds themselves. I’m not sure what it is. It looks a little like rust, but I don’t think that’s what it is, because they have a painted coating and the color is on the outside of that and can be washed off. The blinds are pretty old and could probably do with being replaced, but that’s another story.
Erasers, Pens, and Pencils
I was looking around the house again for things to photograph. Dorothy’s vast collection of colored pencils, pens, markers, and paints often catches my eye in such circumstances. This time, instead of focusing on the pens and pencils themselves, I looked at the erasers.
Something new and with its own set of colors, muted and transferred in the process or removing colors from drawings.
Water On a Windshield
We had a little rain today. There was talk of more than just rain but it was never cold enough that it was going to happen. School opened on time and there wasn’t really any problem out on the roads today. When I left work, I noticed the patterns that the water was making on the windscreen and decided to take a few pictures. This is the one I like the best. I think the patterns are cool. I also like the organic shapes and shades of color made by the various thicknesses of water. Maybe I’m just easily entertained.
Tail Light Reflections
I hope you aren’t tired of reflections. I really like them so perhaps they show up here more than you’d like. Well, I suppose you could start your own photo blog and take the pictures you want to see online and I’ll keep taking the pictures I enjoy. It rained heavily most of the day today and the lights were reflecting more than normal off of the very wet roads.
There’s a portion of my not-too-long commute where the traffic almost always slows down to a crawl and often stops for a few moments. It isn’t took great a distance so I don’t mind it terribly and it does, on occasion, give me the opportunity to snap a few reflection pictures while I’m waiting. I took a few that show more cars but I like this one, which is mostly reflections.
It was a short week, with only three days of school for Dorothy and of work for Cathy and me, but somehow it seemed like a long week. We were all tired and ready for a break. When Wednesday evening finally came, Dorothy asked if she could go hang out with Julia, who was home for a few days from college. We dropped her off and then went out to dinner, but of course we stopped in for a few minutes to visit, first. Visit and take a few pictures.
We had something of a non-standard Thanksgiving today. We usually go to Cathy’s mother’s on Thursday and then to my mom’s on Friday. This year was a little different. I made a casserole with acorn squash, which turned out to be really, really good. The other thing I made was pizza dough. We each made a personal pizza with the toppings we each wanted. This is my pizza, fully cooked and ready for our Thanksgiving meal. Sausage, pepperoni, and anchovies isn’t everyone’s idea of a good pizza, but it works for me.
Our Thanksgiving Gathering
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we had homemade pizza for our Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. Well, we had our proper Thanksgiving today, with my mom and family. It was your traditional meal with turkey, stuffing, gravy, and two types of squash (leftovers of the acorn squash with Gruyere cheese I made yesterday and George’s butternut squash with maple syrup). There were three types of cranberry sauce, salad, asparagus, a puff pastry dish with farro and feta cheese (which is really, really good). For dessert there were a few pies and cakes as well as an assortment of ice creams.
We had a reasonably quiet day today after two days of Thanksgiving (not that we’ve stopped being thankful, of course). Dorothy and I did have a brief outing today to run the chainsaw through a piece of tree trunk for an art project that Dorothy is planning. In the evening, we had a lovely sunset, as you can see. I particularly like the variety of colors in sunsets. Often they are bright orange, but tonight it was a wonderful red.