Once again I find myself way behind in posting pictures. I will endeavor to get caught up over the next two days. This photo was taken on April 1, six days ago, and finally copied off my camera’s memory card and “processed” yesterday. The daffodils have come out here in Maryland and yellow is the color of the day. Actually, in our yard, only the smallest and earliest variety has started to bloom. The others are showing buds but we’re at least a week from them blooming. Ours are on the side of the house that faces northeast, of course, and they are in shade much of the day. These are at my mom’s, actually in the next door garden, where they have a westward exposure.
Monthly Archives: April 2014
I really don’t know what to write about this one. The title of this post says it, really. This is a chair, or two chairs, really, and a coconut. There’s a clipboard, as well, of course, and perhaps I should have given greater emphasis to that.
I like the fact that the darker floor tiles, the chairs, the coconut and the writing on the clipboard are all in basically the same color family. That certainly provides a unifying element to the picture.
I also like the strong lines of the chair, juxtaposed with the round nothingness and incongruity of the coconut. “Why a coconut and what is the connection between that and these chairs?” And what is the meaning of the cryptic sentence scrawled on the paper, “Where is my Fish spear?”
For now, it will remain a mystery.
It’s that time of year again. One of my very favorite days of the year. It’s the day I visit the second grade class and demonstrate a few simple machines. You remember those, right? Levers, pulleys, inclined planes? Yes. For the previous two visits, see Monday, April 16, 2012 and Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
As you probably know by now, if you have been following my posts for any length of time, the highlight of the day, by far, is the opportunity the second grade students have to pick up their teacher. She’s not exactly heavy to begin with. But second graders are not really big enough to pick her up, or certainly not easily, anyway. With the strength multiplying “magic” of pulleys (and a stout rope), it takes only 20% of her weight to lift her off the ground.
Thanks you, Collyn, for letting me have such fun with your class. You’re a real sport.
Oh, and by the way, happy anniversary, Collyn and Keith!
Cathy and I met our friend Collyn (see yesterday’s post) for dinner at Villa Maya Restaurant this evening. Two more friends were planning to join us but things came up (or had already been planned but temporarily forgotten, actually) and they had to cancel. No matter. Dinner was nice and we got to concentrate our attention on Collyn. Well, her and the food, which was very good. They have a cart with all the ingredients for guacamole and a young woman pushes it around from table to table, mixing up the luscious dip to order.
It was a beautiful day and a good day for a drive. That’s fortunate, because I drove down to Richmond to pick up Dorothy. Traffic was heavy on 95 southbound but I didn’t have any real problems. Coming back was another matter. Interstate 95 is grossly inadequate for the traffic on the east coast. Anyway, I picked up Dorothy and we went to get her things before heading back north. This is a brick wall outside where she was staying. I like the warm color and rough texture of the bricks and may use this in an composite image at some point.
Dorothy and I went up to Baltimore this afternoon and spent it with our dear friend, Julia. We walked around the campus and enjoyed the things that are starting to bloom, including this star magnolia (Magnolia stellata). Many years, probably more often than not, the buds on the star magnolias are killed by a late frost. We had a few late frosts this year, cold enough to do the job, but fortunately we hadn’t had enough days that were warm enough to get the buds close to opening, so it wasn’t a problem. They really are beautiful small trees the years they do bloom and they seem to be doing very well this year. This one is in front of a south-facing, brick wall, which probably gives it a little more heat and provides a bit more protection.
It’s Play Week at Dorothy’s school and since she has a part, it’s a busy time for her and the rest of the cast and crew. Starting today, they have their practices in the Olney Theatre, where the play will be performed on Friday and Saturday. In this picture, Becky (our fearless director) and Cat relax over dinner after running through the entire play. After dinner, they went through Act 2 again. At this point in the process, it’s usually a nail-biting experience, as it doesn’t seem possible that things will come together in time. This year, things seem to be going pretty well and they are, perhaps, a bit ahead of where they are most years. Much less hectic.
I met with about a dozen junior girl scouts this evening to talk about photography. They were working on their photography badge and needed someone to give them a lesson. I really wasn’t sure how much detail to go into and probably went farther than I needed to. They seemed interested, though, and were very attentive and polite. I had a big stack of pictures to illustrate the things I was telling them about shutter speed and aperture. The pictures were probably more useful than my descriptions. After my presentation, we all went out back to see what we could find to photograph. This is one of the pictures I took, a still life of an acorn cap.
I’ve seen these fairly often but I don’t think I’ve had the opportunity to get a good picture before this evening. This is in the corner of a room and she is facing into the corner (having a “time out” I suspect). While this isn’t in our house, I have seen them there, as well. If your first impulse is to squash these when you see them, you should know that they eat pretty much exclusively things that you probably want around the house even less: cockroach nymphs, flies, moths, bedbugs, crickets, silverfish, earwigs, and small spiders.
The bulbs are up all over the yard and it’s wonderful. This is one of my favorites and I have a good bit of it. It’s Chionodoxa forbesii and it’s growing up through the pachysandra around an oak tree near the end of our driveway. I have a variety called ‘Pink Giant’ growing nearby and it’s pretty, as well, but for some reason I don’t like it as much. Perhaps it’s because pink flowers are relatively so much more common, while blue flowers are a special treat.
The blue in the flowers seems to vary from year to year. This year they seem a bit paler than they did last year. Not that I’ve compared photographs, though, so maybe that’s just my imagination. Scilla is certainly bluer than Chionodoxa. It’s also easier to pronounce. But I’ll take them both. I need to plant more, in fact. But that’s a job for October.
This evening was opening night of Dead Man’s Chest, performed by Washington Christian Academy’s King’s Players on the historic stage at the Olney Theatre. Everything went wonderfully and a good time was had by all (at least everyone I spoke to). Dorothy played the part of Zora, one of the three somewhat bumbling “pirates.” They did the “all for one” type salute a few times but I particularly like this one because Dorothy is holding a frying pan instead of her sword.
This is a very pretty daffodil that always blooms reliably and joyfully each spring in front of our house. I don’t know the name of the variety because I was given the bulbs by a friend and if I ever had the name, I’ve lost it. I don’t much care, because they are so festive. They are in Division 3, the small-cupped daffodil cultivars and should probably buy more in that division. If I remember at the right time, I’ll plan on this fall being a big year for planting more bulbs. One problem, of course, is knowing where there already are bulbs, because the leaves are generally gone by planting time, and I hesitate to dig in the areas where I know they are. Maybe I can mark them with small stakes before they are gone from sight.
It was an amazingly beautiful day today, warm bordering on hot (well, hot for around here in mid-April, anyway). We drove down to Brookside Gardens in the afternoon. Needless to say, we didn’t park anywhere near the actual parking lot, but it wasn’t actually as crowded as I expected it to be. Of course, the fact that their larger parking lot is closed as we move into their busiest season probably has something to do with it. They have no economic incentive to avoid inconvenience to their visitors, since there isn’t any direct connection between the number of visitors and their budget.
In any case, it’s a lovely place, particularly this time of year. The daffodils are out in force, of course, but unfortunately very few of them are labeled in any way. This one, in particular, caught our eyes. I’ve seen many double daffodils but I’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s just a bunch of yellow and greenish strips of petal, about two inches across. Very odd and very nice. If you have any idea at all as to the variety name, I’d be very interested.
The second picture for the day doesn’t really say “spring” because it’s an evergreen tree and it won’t look a lot different in the fall. This is a Chamaecyparis obtusa var Formosana, commonly known as the Japanese or hinoki cypress. Personally, I love the green of all the Chamaecyparis species and also really like the cones, particularly when they are empty, as they are in this picture. They look a little like something out of a science fiction movie, I think.
I believe that this is either Bombus pensylvanicus (the American Bumble Bee) or Bombus auricomus (the Black-and-gold Bumble Bee). Either way, it was a friendly sort of fellow. My assumption is that this was a male, because the males cannot sting, and this one was not even trying. He didn’t seem able to fly, really, either. He seems determined to get up into Judah’s hair, and he had to be moved back onto Judah’s nose a few times.
Those of you freaked out by the thought of a bee walking on your face, I understand, believe me. But most insects, even bees, are really not all that dangerous. Some, like some hornets and wasps, need to be avoided or at the very least not aggravated. Taking pictures of them, though, is usually safe enough if you don’t move too quickly and don’t try to touch them (like Judah was clearly doing here).
Personally, I love a rainy day. We like to complain about rain, especially when it spoils our plans but it’s often quite beautiful when it rains. I won’t say this it an amazing photograph (it’s just the view from the third floor of my office building) but it does, I think, convey some of why I love the rain. The colors of most everything are made stronger and more beautiful by the rain. The browns and greens, in particular, benefit from being wet. Throw in a little brightness from spring blooms and it is even better. Yes, give me a good, wet, rainy day now and then. I won’t complain.
The Lenten rose plants had a hard spring but they are finally blooming now, in the final week of Lent. They were buried by a few snowfalls just about the time they normally would have been sending up their new leaves and this year’s flower buds. They can take the cold without any trouble but the snow does tend to flatten them, with their largish leaves, so they don’t have an easy time getting up and out. Now that the snow is gone and it’s been warm (although we had a frost this morning), they are doing much better.
I drove a few students from the youth group out to the University of Maryland this evening for a Cru event. After it was done, we went to Cold Stone Creamery, nearby and managed to get there just before they closed.
Here’s the group (from left to right): Maureen, Jessie, Dorothy, Gretchen, Anna, Ellen, and Mary. Safiya got to Stone Cold just after the picture was taken, unfortunately.
It was a cool day today but not really cold. I took a break shortly after noon and went out into the empty lot next to my office building. I say empty lot but really it isn’t empty, it simply hasn’t been built on. There are trees, shrubs, woody and herbaceous perennials, and annuals in abundance. There are also animals, although mostly I see birds and (especially later in the year) insects and spiders. It’s clear that there are deer there and I’ve seen them on rare occasions.
I came across one today, or what was left of one. There were a few leg bones and then I found the skull, half buried under some Japanese honeysuckle. The first picture if of the top of the deer’s skull, showing the intersection of the Coronal and Sagittal Sutures, where the frontal and two parietal bones all come together. It looks to me like a river, meandering through an arid waste. Or maybe not. The second picture shows the skull, as I found it.
The scilla has been up for a few days now but it wasn’t until today that I had the opportunity to get a few photographs. Either I’d be in a hurry and didn’t have the time or it would be dark and not really appropriate for taking pictures of flowers. The last time I posted a picture of this on my blog was on Thursday, March 22, 2012, so I think we’re due for another.
So, this is Scilla siberica Var. Spring Beauty and I think it is wonderful. Many of the flowers look down towards the ground but they are still blue from above and as they finish their display, they start to lift their heads a bit, making them easier to look at. Of course, even so you have to get right down on the ground to see them eye to eye, as they are in this picture, but that was never much of an obstacle for me. I definitely need more of these.
Coming soon are the grape hyacinths.
This is an Easter picture that I took seven years ago, on April 8, 2007. We were at my in-laws’ house and had eaten our meal. At about 4:10, Cathy and Dorothy were in the yard when they heard a scream. It was clearly not human but they didn’t know, at first, what it was. When they saw that a hawk had attacked a rabbit, Dorothy came running into the house to get me. She said that she and her mom wanted me to do something. I’m not sure what, precisely, they wanted me to do but I’m pretty sure taking pictures was not it. That’s what I did, though. Did they really expect me to do anything else?
I took 85 pictures before the hawk flew away. When I first went out the rabbit had stopped making noises but was still alive. It’s fate was sealed, however, and I wasn’t going to deprive the hawk of its meal simply because it happened to pick the Easter bunny for its menu.
I’m playing catch-up again, posting pictures well after the dates they were taken. I posted the Easter Flashback but of course, I need to post a picture taken on Easter of this year, as well. We went to the sunrise service at Fourth church, or at least we got there before it was over. I had started to set my alarm clock for 5:00 a.m. so we would be up in time to get to the 6:00 a.m. service. Then, thinking the girls might need a little longer to wake up, I set the alarm “back” ten minutes, changing the minutes to 50. Unfortunately, it was now set for 5:50, not 4:50, and we were lucky to get there before the service had finished completely. We went to the earliest of the regular services, as well, and then came back to our house for a lamb roast and the various fixings. Dorothy and Kendra dyed some eggs and later they were hidden in baskets in the yard.
Back into the garden today for pictures of the Muscari armeniacum, a.k.a. grape hyacinth. You can’t have too many of these, in my view. There is another species, M. azureum, that I really need to add to my collection. It’s a purer blue color and the flowers open a bit farther. There are a white varieties of that, as well as M. botryoides which are probably worth adding for a bit of variation. Overall, though, a drift of these, anywhere from a square yard to a whole field, is worth the effort put into planting them. All of the Muscari species are quite hardy and none of them require much in the way of care.
There is no question that spring is here now and moving forward apace. The maple trees have finished blooming and are already producing seeds. Maple seeds are fun, as seeds go, because of the little helicopters they are in. When they fall from the tree they spin to the ground. When they are coming down, which hasn’t really started yet, if it’s a windy day, the air can be full of them and the lawn covered. Of course that means there are going to be lots of little maple trees to pull up in the garden, but they aren’t the worst weed we have to deal with. At least once they are pulled up they don’t come back from bits of root that were left in the ground. Anyway, I think they are pretty.
Cathy and I took a relaxing little drive up interstate 95 this morning. Actually, except for about four miles approaching the Harbor Tunnel Thruway south of Baltimore, we didn’t have any trouble. Traffic was heavy but moving quite nicely. We were visiting the folks that I’ll be working with one week this summer. Back in July of 2011 we had a similar trip with CSM Toronto which I was (sort of) tricked into leading. This year I volunteered. Actually, I’m looking forward to it. It was good to meet Brittany and Nicole, who run the office in Philadelphia. In addition to seeing where we’ll be staying and a few of our work sites, we had a nice lunch with them along with another team leader and his wife.
Many years ago now we went to dinner with Cathy’s parents, our friends Brian and Lisa, and another couple. Our hosts were from Bangladesh and our dinner was wonderful, Bengali home cooking. One dish happened to be a little spicy. Actually, it wasn’t bad if you didn’t bite into one of the small green chilies. Well the wife of the other couple didn’t realize what they were and had one. Her reaction was the title of this post. We tried not to laugh at the time, and our hostess was a little embarrassed. She said she thought they were green beans. After we left we laughed and laughed. Over 20 years later we are reminded of it when we walk past the hot sauces in the grocery store. We even quote her on occasion. “Wow, that’s hot!”
I am of two minds when it comes to flowering dogwoods. They are not a no-care tree anymore, what with the dogwood borer (Synanthedon scitula, see Tuesday, August 21, 2012) and dogwood anthracnose (Discula destructiva). They are, however, quite worthwhile when in bloom, with their bright red fruit, and again in fall color. This one happens to be standing a little too close to our house for me to leave it alone much longer (it’s about a foot from the front wall). I planted a camellia under it last year (Camellia japonica ‘Mrs. Lyman Clarke’) but it didn’t make it through our colder than average winter and I’m going to have to try again. I was hoping that whatever I planted would have a chance to get well established before I took out the dogwood, but now I may not wait so long.
It’s epimedium time again. This is a plant that should see much wider use in small gardens. It has pretty leaves, sometimes with red tints in spring. It has lovely little flowers, produced in great abundance. It’s easy to grow, not being very picky about being fed or watered, and doesn’t spread so fast that you’ll need to be constantly cutting it back. At least for us, the deer don’t seem to bother with it, although it’s possible that’s because there are so many other things for them to eat in our yard. There are varieties with red, white, and yellow flowers. The one disadvantage it has, in my mind, is that it isn’t as evergreen as it is often advertised. The leaves don’t fall off in the autumn but are usually gone by spring, so a large area covered with this as a ground cover might look bare in the winter. Still, I recommend it, especially for small areas that need a good, sturdy ground cover in shade or sun.
It’s prom time again and of course, this is Dorothy’s senior year, so it’s “her” prom. This picture is of Dorothy with her friend, Joseph.
As you might expect, I took a few more pictures, both here, with Dorothy and Joseph as well as Cat and Lee, who came here before they all left for Scott’s house. Then, at Scott’s house I took a lot more of the larger group of mostly seniors who gathered there before they left for dinner.
While they were having dinner at Lauren’s family’s country club, Cathy, Diana, and I had dinner at Urban BBQ. I dropped the ladies off at home and went to the prom location to take pictures for a little while. I had been invited to do that and given permission by Dorothy to stay for the first hour. I actually overstayed my time by a little, but considering that there were only three students there for the first half hour, I didn’t feel like I broke the spirit of the law.
I’m always forgetting what these are called.
Well, not really. They are members of the genus Myosotis and are very pretty little flowers, most effective in large drifts. I don’t know which species these are (there are about 300) but I believe they may be Myosotis sylvatica, a European variety commonly known as the wood forget-me-not. They are short-lived herbaceous perennials and where they are growing in our garden sort of shifts from year to year, as new seedlings grow and old plants die, but we still have a little area where they seem to be happy.
I assume this is an eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) rather than a Chinese or European redbud (C. chinensis or C. siliquastrum) but I don’t actually know the differences between them, so I won’t say for certain. They certainly do make a fine show this time of year, adding a bit of pale purple to the beautiful tapestry of greens that the woods become in spring. The flowers are mostly seen from a distance and their best effect is as a mass of color, but they are interesting little things individually, as well.
It’s pretty widely acknowledged that there’s a screw loose somewhere. Well, that’s what I’m constantly being told, anyway. I think I’ve found a few of them. They were in a box on a shelf in my kitchen. That’s probably because I put them there. I’m glad they aren’t with my marbles, because I lost them. These, or some of them, are destined to hold up some brackets that will hold up a ladder that’s taking up altogether too much space in my garage. Hanging it on the wall should make it much less of a bother.
Another rainy day today, as we come to the end of April. In fact it was a very rainy day. As I got to work it was coming down quite hard. I sat in my car, enjoying the sound of the rain and the quality of the light. The back of my office building has a large area of mirrored glass that reflects the trees in and around the parking lot. I’ve posted pictures taken in them before and I’m amazed at how different they can look, depending on the time of year and the weather. So, here’s a reflection on a rainy day.