It was another sweltering day today. Summer seems to have arrived at last and at one point the thermometer out back read 98°F. In the afternoon we took a short outing to the Agricultural Farm Park to enjoy their garden. This little fellow, which I believe is a green frog (Lithobates clamitans) was in a little pond in the garden. While we were there, it started to rain lightly and shortly came down quite hard for a while. The temperature dropped more than 20°F, though, so the rain was more than welcome.
Monthly Archives: September 2014
Big day today. We drove Dorothy to her new home for the next nine months or so, dropping her off in Richmond. All went well and we had no trouble with traffic except the last few miles, because it was morning rush hour by the time we arrived. Dorothy got settled into her new room, we met a few of her apartment mates, and we ran a few errands. Many of the old brick buildings have ghosts of painted signs on them but I noticed this one that’s not quite dead yet.
I took a few pictures this evening although I can’t say that they are very interesting. It rained again this evening and as the sun was getting low in the sky, the whole area took on a beautiful, slightly yellow glow. This photograph doesn’t really do it justice and of course it’s just a photo of our neighborhood, so not a lot to look at, but perhaps it will give you some idea. If you’ve ever seen this, then you know what I’m talking about and maybe you’ll appreciate it. Anyway, this is all I have today.
Like the picture I posted from yesterday evening (which was incorrectly dated as September 3), I took a few evening pictures today as the sun was sinking into the west. This time, I happened to be near the Agricultural Farm Park on Muncaster Road so I pulled in to see what I could find to photograph. This is an old wagon sitting near the barn and the late-day sun was shining on it very prettily. After about five minutes of taking pictures, though, the sun was behind the trees and the light was gone. Pretty while it lasted, though.
I went out to take pictures this evening and didn’t find a lot new to photograph. There were some old mushrooms and I got pictures of them, but they were pretty ugly pictures of mushrooms turning to mush. There are still a huge number of black-eyed Susans and blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), a fairly prolific herbaceous perennial with frilly, pale blue flowers. I wanted something different so here’s a photo of a black-eyed Susan from behind, with a bit of mistflower in the foreground. Actually, we have some mistflower with white flowers. I don’t know if that’s a common, natural variation or not, but they are nice. I should photograph them at some point.
It’s been very hot this week, the hottest we’ve had all summer, in fact, and tomorrow is supposed to be the worst yet. Cathy and I talked about taking a walk somewhere this evening but we didn’t feel up to much. We decided to go to the Rio for dinner (Nando’s) and then walk around the pond. There was live music playing too loudly (and not terribly well, if truth be told), and it was still pretty warm but it was nice to see all the people enjoying themselves. This is looking back towards the restaurants from across the pond.
Even though Dorothy has graduated, we still feel a strong connection to WCA. We have a lot of friends there and still know quite a few students. This afternoon (in the about 100°F heat) WCA had its annual family picnic. We weren’t exactly invited but we brought a side dish and I took pictures, which will be available to the yearbook team, so I think it’s alright. Anyway, we had a nice time visiting with friends. Sometimes getting students to pose for pictures is easy, sometimes, not so much. This group had to be cajoled but in the end, they posed very nicely. I had my back to the building and couldn’t get far enough away to get them all in one shot, so this is actually two pictures, stitched together. Turned out quite well, I think.
I know that not everyone is particularly fond of spiders, so I apologize if this creeps you out. I actually don’t mind them in their place. Mind you, when walking through the woods, my face is decidedly not their place. But outdoors, eating other insects, they are good friends. They can also be quite beautiful and surprisingly colorful, to say nothing of the fabulous webs they often spin.
This is an orchard orbweaver (Leucauge venusta, with venusta being the Latin for beautiful), and they are quite common in our area (and I’ve never actually seen on indoors, which is just as well). This one is only about 8 inches off the ground, which made getting down under it for a photograph a bit of a challenge, but I think it’s turned out pretty well.
Cathy and I stopped at Albert and Brady’s after work yesterday. It was nice to visit and we ended up loaded with a bountiful harvest, as evidenced by this photograph. Albert and Brady have a vegetable garden and it’s gotten a little ahead of them. As you can see, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and basil all in profusion. We also got a lot of cherry tomatoes, which are really delicious. I made a big batch of tomato sauce this evening with almost nothing that wasn’t direct from the garden, and by “direct” I mean, picked today. Thanks, guys!
This morning I took a few pictures of a goldfinch on the black-eyed Susans outside our kitchen. Technically, that satisfied my goal of taking at least one picture today. They were not very good, though, so late this evening I took some of some plants, cacti and succulents, that Dorothy has potted up for herself. These are commonly known as hens and chicks and are in the genus Sempervivum which is in turn in the Crassulaceae family, known as houseleeks
I went out to get some coffee this morning and when I came back I found this fairly large beetle on the floor of my office. I took a few pictures of it on the floor before moving it up to the spider plant on my window ledge, where I took some more photos.
I like beetles. The beetles are the largest order in the animal kingdom, with more than 350,000 described species worldwide, representing about 40% of known insects (per http://bugguide.net/node/view/60).
Cathy and I thought we’d go for a walk today, around lunch time. It was unexpectedly hot, so we didn’t go as far as we had thought we might, but we were out a little while. We walked around the edge of the woods near the various buildings of our office campus. In addition to blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), we saw this cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), one of the showier native wildflowers of our area.
It got quite warm yesterday, topping 90°F, but today was cooler and the sky was a glorious blue with fabulous layers of light clouds scattered across it. It was a long day for me, having a dentist appointment and then part of a work day, followed by a round trip to Richmond, returning by way of Baltimore, which isn’t really on the way. Because of all that I didn’t take many pictures but this is one of a few I took from my car while waiting at a traffic light.
I was just about caught up, posting the last few pictures the day they were taken or early the following day. Then it got very busy at work and I had a very hard time keeping up with everything, so this slipped. As I write this on September 26, I have finally gotten around to taking pictures off my camera from September 13 through 23. I’ll try to get caught up again. Anyway, there was a pretty sunset this evening as I was cooking dinner and I went out back for a few pictures. Most of the color was seen behind the trees but there were a few bright areas of open sky.
I was out photographing things in the yard early this afternoon. There were some very small flies on buddleia leaves and I was trying to get pictures of them. Then I noticed this fellow, down on a black-eyed Susan flower. It was a bit dark and it’s a dark spider on a dark background, but still not too bad. It is a bold jumper (Phidippus audax), one of the many jumping spiders, family Salticidae.
Do you like broccoli? I do. It’s one of my favorite vegetables, in fact. I prefer it to not be overcooked but can take it pretty much however. I don’t think it’s nearly as good when it’s been frozen, probably because that means you have to cook it longer to be sure you don’t have any cold spots. My preferred seasoning is a splash of vinegar and a little salt. Actually the one thing I don’t like much about broccoli is the spelling. I have a hard time remembering if it’s two Cs or two Ls.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wrench like me? No, that’s not right. Good king wrench’s lass look out, on the Feast of Stephen? No, that’s not it, either. All right, I’ll stop with the feeble puns. I’ve been working on getting my basement organized and one major task is organizing my tools. Since we moved, they have been distributed between a few different cardboard boxes, two tool boxes, and a few wire drawers in an unfortunately flimsy frame. Anyway, I’m going through everything and putting all the tools in one area and will then sort them. This is the wrench box, obviously.
As sunset pictures go, I guess this is a bit weak. We expect sunset pictures to be bright and bold. This isn’t. It’s dusky and muted. That’s the sort of day it was, and that’s the sort of picture I got. Not a terrible picture, I suppose, but it isn’t going to catch and hold your attention.
Anyway, this is September 17, 2014. Good evening.
It’s time for another spider. This is a bit of a creepy looking spider, too. It’s about the right size and build for a brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa) but I’m happy to report that it is meerly a broad-faced sac spider (Trachelas tranquillus). This is a fairly common spider along the central east coast and as far west as Kansas and Minnesota. While most spiders are venomous, the bite of this spider will cause pain similar to a bee or wasp sting. They only bite when provoked, however, so live and let live.
After work I headed up to Pennsylvania for another evening with a camp fire. This picture is of some of my fellow campers, cooking marshmallows, enjoying the fire, and each others’ company. It was a beautiful, cool evening with a warm fire. We really could not have asked for more. It’s been so busy at work that I was really looking forward to this time away and I must say that I was able to disconnect and rest, both physically and mentally for about 24 hours.
I had a good night’s sleep even while sleeping on the ground. I often don’t sleep well the first night anywhere other than my own bed, even on a reasonably comfortable hotel bed. That means one night camping trips are generally a write off in the sleeping department. But I woke refreshed and enjoyed the cool morning. A few of the kids were up early fishing and I cleaned a cooked a reasonable sized bass along with the sausages and eggs. It was a relaxing day, variously spent fishing, watching the fire, eating, and enjoying the tire swing. We raised it a bit by looping the rope over the branch, because any but the smallest riders made it hit the ground.
Here is Anna, having a swing.
We were sitting behind Elliot and his brother and sister this morning in church. I think this picture speaks for itself, so I don’t have much to add except to say what a cute boy he is. I showed him the picture and got a bit smile, but of course, I couldn’t take a picture of him while I was showing him this one.
It’s shaping up to be a very busy week (and since I’m writing this after the fact, I can tell you that it was). I was fortunate to be able to head home before it was completely dark today. I took this from the road, while waiting at a light to turn green. After the last sunset picture I posted, I’m glad to be able to post a proper sunset again, with the bright colors that we all love in a sunset. This is a great time of year for them, so keep your camera (or these days, your phone) ready.
Correction: This was not taken on the way home, that was tomorrow’s picture. We were on our way out to dinner with Cathy’s mom for her birthday and stopped on Perry Parkway to take this picture.
Yes, another sunset. This time I’m sitting at the light at MD 355 watching the traffic go by and enjoying the sunset colors. In this picture, I’m actually looking almost due north, well away from the setting sun, so you can see that the amount of color in the sky is impressive. It was a beautiful sunset, lighting up the entire sky. I even took a picture or two looking to the west in my rear-view mirror, although those are not particularly good, photographically.
I’ve posted photographs of the orchard orbweaver (Leucauge venusta) a few times before. This one was taken just outside our front door, but her web, fortunately, is not stretched across the walk. I noticed the web two days ago but was not home when there was enough light for a photo. Actually, that was true today, as well, but I took this with flash.
As spiders go, the orchard orbweaver is quite colorful and, to my way of thinking, beautiful. I love the green color and they have a great pattern on their abdomen, although it doesn’t really show up in this photograph. The fact that they eat all manner of small insects also helps endear them to me. And this is one spider that I see quite a lot but have never seen indoors.
All right, no spider today, but still somewhat spider related. There are a bunch of little spider webs in our yard and garden and today they were all holding large drops of water. They’re kind of cool, because you can barely see the web filaments so the water droplets seem to be floating a few inches above the grass or pachysandra. This picture isn’t all that great and I really needed to get a tripod out and use it, but that didn’t happen, so this is what you’re left with.
We had two big trees cut down in our back yard last year. There are still some largish trees in our neighbor’s yard but for a little while now, this one has been dead. Before it fell and did any damage, out neighbor had it cut down (today, obviously).
I’m always impressed with tree cutters. Oh, I know it isn’t rocket science or brain surgery but it takes a fair amount of both strength and agility. Watching this guy get up into the tree with such ease was impressive. Then, he got himself set. A rope was thrown over a higher branch and tied to the branch he was going to cut. The most remarkable thing is how easily he started his saw. I’ve struggled with mine. Even when it does start, it doesn’t happen on the first or second pull. Of course, his is well tuned and well broken in, while mine is not. For the tree work he was using a relatively small saw, and he is a good bit younger than I am, but my arms would be all in after a day of what he’s doing.
Anyway, the tree came down and there is a neat pile of firewood in its place.
For yesterday’s photo I posted a picture of a man cutting a fairly tall but completely dead tree in our next door neighbor’s yard. Today I cut down a much smaller but equally dead crab-apple in my Brady and Albert’s front yard. While a chain saw makes a big difference when doing something like this, unless you have a well tuned saw and unless you know how to deal with a few problems, it can be as much a frustration as anything. My saw runs fast. Until recently it ran so fast that when I squeezed the throttle it would stall. I managed to adjust it a bit and now it runs well when cutting. I need to slow the idle speed a little.
The real problem I’m having now is that my shoulder gives out before the work is done. So, I cut a little while, then rest (and rest the saw). Then, back to work. I managed to get the tree down this far before my arm refused to do any more work for the day. Sorry, guys, but I’ll be back to cut the rest of it when I get the chance. Thanks for the firewood.
I like plants and gardening and I know a little about both. I try to know a something about the plants from which most of our vegetable foods come. Sesame seeds have been a bit of an exception. I knew that they come from an herbaceous (non-woody) plant that grows in tropical regions, but beyond that didn’t know much about them. Four countries, Burma, India, China, and Sudan account for more than half the world sesame seed production (about 56% of 4.76 million metric tons). The sesame plant, Sesamum indicum, is an annual, growing to about three feet in height, bearing (usually) yellow flowers, and producing the seeds in small capsules.
I boiled a bunch of eggs today and two of them cracked while the water was coming to a boil. I didn’t watch this one cook, but clearly it cracked and the albumen started seeping out before the water was hot enough to solidify it completely but after it was hot enough to keep it from forming threads through the water.
The other cracked egg was much less interesting, just showing a small crack without the bulging innards spewing out.
This one is a little creepy looking, so that’s why I took a picture of it. It’s perfectly edible, of course.
Egg salad, anyone?
I met Maureen and Sokho for lunch today over at Fallsgrove and when I came back to the car I noticed this grass growing in the area between two rows of cars. Rather than use all underground drainage in parking lots, the current style seems to be to leave spaces every few rows and turn them into drainage ditches but with ornamental plants that can take a certain amount of flooding. I think this is a nice trend and some of the plants used are quite nice. This grass, for example, it nice. This photo has the feel of the country, not the middle of a busy parking lot.