It wasn’t much of a sunset in terms of lighting up the sky, but right down on the horizon, which I could sort of see between the houses behind ours, the sky had a fair amount of color. With my long lens, I took a few pictures of it through the trees and I like the way it turned out. The rest of the sky was a uniform and not particularly pretty color.
Monthly Archives: March 2014
Technically, these are Pelargonium, not Geranium leaves, but they are so commonly called Geranium that it’s hard to break the habit. Pelargonium species and cultivars are not cold hardy, like the true geraniums and are grown as house plants and in pots here where it gets too cold to grow them outdoors year round. Geraniums (including pelargoniums) often make me think of an old Pogo comic strip, where the Howland Owl and Churchy LaFemme tried to cross a branch from a yew tree with a geranium to get uranium (Yew-Ranium) so they could make a bomb. Classic.
School for today was canceled before we went to bed last night, so we didn’t set our alarms for this morning. Of course, that means I woke up about three minutes before my alarm would have gone off and couldn’t get back to sleep. The snow had only accumulated to a depth of about two inches when I got up but it started snowing a bit more heavily after that and by midday we had six or seven inches on the ground. Since I can, I worked from home. I did go out to shovel the driveway and clear off the cars but otherwise enjoying the snow from the comfort of my castle.
There was very little traffic on the roads today, mostly because everything was canceled. That was despite the fact that the roads were all basically clear and dry. There was a little ice and snow left on our neighborhood street but the plows never made it here. Even so, I had no trouble and once I got a block from our house, onto the larger neighborhood street, it was totally clear. The sky cleared up and it was mostly sunny this afternoon. This picture was taken just a little before sunset.
There isn’t a lot that can or should be said about this picture. It’s two-thirds of a sausage pizza from Papa John’s, one of five pizzas that we bought for WHAT, our youth gathering this evening (yes, we stole the name because we like it). I took a few pictures of the youth themselves but none of them are very good and, contrary to popular belief and with very notable exceptions, I don’t like to post unflattering photographs of people. Much better to post an unflattering photograph of a pizza.
On Monday, when we had snow, I thought it would be a nice day for a fire. In addition to logs, I burned some papers. I know shredding is probably adequate for disposing of old, paid bills (and better still for disposing of unpaid bills). I’ve been known to use shredded bills as the paper under the logs when I start a fire, and that works well. Sometimes, though, it’s nice just to burn unshredded papers. When I had the fire going nice and strong, I put a large stack of papers on top and let them go up. These are the remains and as you can see, they were not destroyed as thoroughly as if they had been shredded. Of course, once I move them about a little, they will finish falling apart and the job will be done. Then they will go out into the garden the raise the pH a little and to return to the soil.
Traffic was horrendous this evening and I’m not really sure why. Anyway, as I was sitting in traffic I at least was able to enjoy the sunset. It wasn’t the most wonderful sunset I’ve ever seen but then, very few are, for obvious reasons. It was quite lovely and though there were trees and power lines between me and the most colorful parts of the sky, I was able to take this and a few other pictures while waiting for the traffic to start moving again.
What a beautiful day it was today. It was warm (or at least relatively warm, probably in the low 50s) and sunny. Early in the afternoon I went out and took some pictures of the Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis) blooming in the front yard. I had a snow drop picture back on February 20 but we’ve had a few snows since then. Of course, for all I know, we aren’t done yet. Today certainly felt much more springlike that it’s been. This time, the flowers are completely open and enjoying the sun right along with us. Here’s hoping and enjoying the flowers.
The snow is basically all gone. There are batches in shadier spots and wherever it was piled when shoveling or plowing but the lawn is basically clear of it. Yesterday there was standing water in parts of the yard but now most of that has drained or soaked into the already waterlogged soil. It’s still quite wet out, but that’s normal and good this time of year. I walked around the yard looking for things to photograph. There are the snow drops but I posted their picture yesterday, so I wanted something else. I was looking at last years fern leaves when this little fellow landed in the hedge and let me take his picture. This is a white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), a friendly winter visitor, probably getting ready to head back to Canada for the summer.
One thing I worry about (although I can’t say it actually keeps me up at night) is that I am repeating myself on this here blog thing. Are my pictures too repetitive? Am I not creative enough? What can I do to get something different. The problem is that even if I do something different one day, that’s just one day. then I’m back to looking for something to photograph the next. But that’s life for you. Life is repetitive. We see the same people and travel the same roads most days and that’s not always bad. If every day were completely different to the day before our lives would be pretty tiring. That’s something about travel that I love but also don’t like. The sheer differentness of each day gets tiring after a while. And even then, there are many things that are the same. I mostly don’t mind the sameness to my days. It means, among other things, that life is pretty stable for me. Anyway, I get to come home to this lovely lady every day, and that really is good.
It has continued to be beautiful outside and it really feels like spring. I know it’s not even the ides of March and it will very likely get cold again, but we’re all enjoying this while we have it. If nothing else, we’re closer to spring than we were a week ago, when we had half a dozen inches of snow on the ground.
We had a beautiful sunset this evening. With the two big trees in our back yard gone, we have a better view of sunsets and I’ve been happily enjoying them. It’s nice to be able to slide the back door open and take sunset pictures from the steps.
This is most definitely something to categorize under miscellaneous. I cooked a chicken curry this evening, experimenting with a few different combinations of ingredients. It wasn’t a resounding success but I think I learned a thing or two and the next version will be better. The chicken itself was wonderful, it was the sauce that suffered. Anyway, when I was done, I had a bit of grease in the pan and I filled the pan with water to loosen the bits that were stuck to the bottom. This is a picture of tiny bubbles of grease floating on the top of the water. Strange, I guess, but I thought it was pretty.
There is something special about the first flowers of spring. I suppose that the farther north you are (or at least the harsher and longer your winters are, which isn’t exactly the same thing), the more this is true. I know when we lived in Juneau, we looked forward to the greening of the woods. It’s perhaps a little surprising that in an evergreen forest, the summer is still a lot greener than the winter, but there are more than just the trees, of course. It’s the little things. In Juneau the spring came a lot later than we were used to but when it came, it came with a vengeance.
I’ve posted pictures of snow drops a few times already, and those were the first blooms in the yard. The Lenten rose, which is usually in bloom by now, has been covered by the snow too much to grow, so that won’t happen for a while yet. I was happily surprised when I got home this evening to have this little yellow flower looking up at me from the garden next to the driveway. Eranthis hyemalis, otherwise known as winter aconite, is a little plant and we only get a few flowers each year. In time, this little patch will spread and thicken and we could have a nice drift of them, but it takes time (like most things that are worthwhile). In the meantime, I’ll enjoy them in ones and twos. Happy flower.
The snow plows are rough on roads and parking lots, scraping up loose gravel as well as paint that’s marking parking spots and that’s on curbs to mark no parking zones. I was out around my building to take a short walk and took this pictures of paint and gravel on the grass. It had been in a pile of snow but as the snow melts, naturally, it is left behind as a quiet reminder of the weather we’ve had.
Actually, I just like the color.
We had another beautiful sunrise this morning and I was in the right part of the house to notice. The color didn’t last more than about 5 minutes, so I consider myself fortunate. This image is a little darker than it actually was, but just about as pretty. It’s cooler this morning, but still nice. We have more weather coming our way, if the meteorologists and their models are correct (which I know they are because I’m typing this on Monday).
Dorothy went downtown with a few of her friends today, visiting the National Gallery of Art. Since I spent much of the day on my back today, do to back pain, I took a picture from my comfortable position on the couch. In this picture, Dorothy, Hannah, and Tim pose for me.
I especially like it because of Cathy photobombing them from behind the railing.
As usual, I’m posting this a few days late. This is my picture from Sunday, March 16. As some of you know, I’ve been out of commission since Friday evening with significant back pain. Today I spent most of the day lying on the sofa. This is my view from there out the dining room windows and into the back yard as the snow started to fall this afternoon. From my warm, dry vantage point, it was quite pretty but I was just as glad not to have to be out in it.
Well, the snow that started yesterday continued falling this morning, amounting to 8 or 9 inches before it stopped. I was up off the couch a bit today, going to see the doctor about my back (school and just about everything else was closed but the roads were actually fine). I didn’t take my camera with me, which explains why you aren’t seeing a picture of an x-ray machine or something else related to that visit.
When I got home I took some pictures of the snow. It was a very beautiful day today and I enjoyed the snow. I cannot say that I don’t hope it is the last of the spring, but I did enjoy it.
The foxes were back this morning, cavorting in the snow. The back yard is filled with their tracks. It was still fairly dim light so I took this at ISO 3,200 and it was still a 1/15 of a second, which explains the softness of this picture. This was the second of three pictures I got of them. After the first one, they stopped and turned towards me. So, even through the glass of our kitchen door they heard the camera and it alerted them to my presence. After that they left for the day.
My back is feeling much better than it was, but I decided to give it another day’s rest today. I wondered what I would do for a picture today but in our kitchen, where we have most of our houseplants, a squash of some sort had sprouted from a pot that was out on the patio over the summer. When it came up I thought it might be a squash but now that it is in bloom, I’m sure. So, a beautiful, yellow flower, blooming a little earlier than it would do outdoors.
Spring is an unstoppable force and it’s coming. On Monday we had 8 to 10 inches of snow covering everything. Now, a mere three days later, there isn’t any snow left at all and it feels like spring again. The snowdrops and Eranthis that I photographed recently look as though they didn’t know anything about being covered with snow. They are happily blooming again (or still), now that the snow is gone.
Around the side of the house, a more exciting sign of spring is the small, bright red shoots of the peony are coming up. Are you a fan of peonies? I am and need more of them. Their bloom is all too short but while they are blooming, they are amazing. Before you know it, this tiny red stem will have a huge ball of petals balanced at the top.
I can’t wait.
Spring seems to be on fast forward this week. Yesterday it was the peonies coming up. Today I found one of the Scilla mischtschenkoana in bloom. This is such a pretty little thing. I planted about a dozen of these in 2010 and they repay me every year. In addition to these, I have the much bluer Scilla siberica and two different but similar Chionodoxa species (pictures of those likely to come as they bloom). If you like early flowers, these spring ephemerals are just what the doctor ordered.
The crocuses have finally come out, springing up during our most recent warm spell. I’m writing this on Tuesday, three days after the photo was taken, and anyone in Maryland knows that the weather has taken another turn back towards winter in those days. But Saturday, when the crocuses were out, was a marvelous day. The birds are singing, the little spring flowers are blooming, and the sun is warm on our faces.
It turned a bit colder today but was sunny and nice. In the evening I had a meeting at church and I was a little early getting there. I took some pictures of a large flock of geese that had been walking around on the church property. Shortly after that, I noticed these pretty clouds against the deepening blue evening sky. The clouds didn’t really turn a full, sunset orange, but did get a slight pink to them that really set them off.
This is a composite picture, made from four vertical shots stitched together into a panorama.
As I walked out to the car this morning I heard a very happy sounding bird chirping at the top of the holly tree in our front yard. He was right up at the very top, happily calling out, “drink your teeeeea.” I was happy to have him stay where he was long enough for me to get a few pictures, even though at this low angle, it isn’t as good a picture as I’d like. The Eastern Towhee was, until recently, called the Rufous-sided Towhee and what is now called the Spotted Towhee was considered to be the same species. If you have an older bird guide, that’s where you will find this fine fellow.
I feel like a broken record. I don’t know how many times we’ve had a snowfall and thought, well, at least this should be the last for the winter. Each time we are more sure that a snowfall this late is unusual, only to have one even later come along and make us forget the earlier one. I also don’t know how many times I’ve hear people say, “I’m really ready for spring!”
Of course, I don’t know any more than the next person whether this is the final snowfall of the year. I do know that there are a lot of people who seriously hope it is.
It was actually quite lovely out today and the snow came down fairly steadily for much of the day, starting at about 8:00 AM and not stopping until a little before I drove home in the evening. It didn’t really stick to the roads or other paved surfaces, so it wasn’t nearly the bother some previous snowfalls have been. This was the view out of my office window.
I only took a handful of photographs on this date (Wednesday, March 26), all of them at our church youth group meeting this evening. I’m posting this on Sunday the 30th. Last night I promised to post one of the portraits that I took. Dorothy and I agree that this is the best of them.
I do not believe that Lucia has graced this blog before today, so let me introduce her to you all. Lucia moved here in the last year so has had the difficulty of making a completely new set of friends. We were fortunate to have her and her parents find us at church.
One thing I enjoy is learning the various expressions of my friends. Some find it easy to smile and laugh. Others are more reluctant (particularly when a camera is aimed at them). Lucia is one of those fortunate people to whom a smile comes very easily. It certainly adds to her face value, don’t you think?
You can never have too many pictures of your friends and family. The longer I live and the more pictures I take, the more I believe this to be true.
For yesterday I posted a picture of Lucia that I took at church. Today, a picture of my ever young bride, Cathy. This got me thinking about having pictures of people and the realization that you can’t have too many of them.
Have you ever gone back and looked at pictures from 5, 10, or 15 years ago (or longer)? Isn’t it wonderfully fun? The one problem I sometimes face is looking at a picture of someone I know I knew well and not remembering their name. It isn’t likely to happen with pictures of Cathy, of course, but of those not related to me, it’s all too possible. So, label your pictures as you take them. It makes looking at them all the more enjoyable. But whatever you do, take lots of pictures.
Six days ago I posted a picture of the first crocus blooming in our yard. Three days later, we had a significant snowfall, covering the ground under a coating of white. I think we often forget how tough most of our spring-blooming bulbs are. We often associate bulbs with Holland and many cultivars were developed there. But many of them have roots (no pun intended) in much harsher climates. Many of them come from the steppes of central Asia where winter temperatures are much lower than they ever get here. So, when something as insignificant as a late March snowfall covers them, they seem to laugh it off and are ready to continue blooming when the snow is gone.
It was a very spring-like day today, raining throughout. I think everyone was so thankful that it wasn’t snow that they were willing to put up with the rain for a bit. Yesterday was such a beautiful day, though, that it was a bit dreary today. On the other hand, the daffodils have started to show a bit of yellow. They are not quite open yet, but that’s a flower and it’s a welcome sight. I did get a bit damp photographing it, as you might imagine, but it’s worth lying in the rain when the flowers are starting to open.
It rained all day yesterday and everyone was glad it was rain and now snow. Today, people were starting to feel waterlogged and wished it would stop, even for a little while. Tomorrow the forecast is for “sunny, with a high near 59, and breezy.” Today, the lawn is about as wet as it can be. There is a little swale between our yard the the yard next door. When it rains like it has done for the last 36 hours or so, it turns into a bit of a stream. The stream was flowing today, as you can see.
So, the rain that’s been falling since early Saturday turned to sleet and then to snow this afternoon. Perhaps that was predicted but I didn’t see it coming. I went out to the grocery store and when I got home it started coming down quite hard. At first it only accumulated on the car windscreen but then on the bushes and finally on the grass. I went out to take a few more pictures and like this one of a few brown leaves on the rose bush just outside our front door. This winter has been hard on the shrubs. The leaves on our boxwood has burned quite badly and I have a feeling that both Camellias that I planted last year have died. After so many mild winters, I thought it would be safe but I’m afraid this winter has been a test of their hardiness that they have not passed.
After such a chilly, dreary weekend, today dawned clear, bright, and warm. It was up near 60°F (16°C) this afternoon and Cathy and I took a walk. It was quite wet out today in low spots which are slow to drain and dry out. I took some pictures of standing water but decided to post this picture of maple flowers, which are starting to come out everywhere. They are small and individually are not too much to look at, but they give the trees a wonderful, happy, crimson hue.