Monthly Archives: November 2014

Crazy Cat Lady and Eve

Crazy Cat Lady and Eve

Crazy Cat Lady and Eve

We went to a Day of the Dead party this evening at the home of one of Cathy’s soccer teammates. This picture is of Cathy with our hostess. Cathy, as you can see, was dressed as a crazy cat lady. Ara was Eve (played by Tilda Swinton) from Only Lovers Left Alive. I was dressed as a chef, complete with a length of blood sausage in my jacket pocket (because, I mean, blood sausage).

The best costumes we thought were the best were the samurai and ninja couple but a lot were very clever and a few were seriously elaborate. I’ve never really been crazy about costume parties but that’s almost certainly because I have such a hard time coming up with any good ideas for a costume. Being able to put something on an hour before leaving and having it work is about all I can hope for. That worked this evening, but a little planning ahead could go a long way. I already have been thinking about what I might do for a future party. Now if I can only get the work done ahead of time, so it’s ready when the next party comes…

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Autumn Color, Domesticated Version

Japanese Maples, Dark and Bright

Japanese Maples, Dark and Bright

This is the first of two posts for today, both featuring fall color. As the title says, this is the “domesticated” fall color post. The two Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) in this picture have been bred for their fall color (among other things). The one in the background, on the left, is a dark, Burgundy color which is fairly common but still quite nice. The tree on the right, however, which is obviously the main subject of this picture, is an amazing color. I’ve photographed this tree before and even posted a picture, titled Lollipop Tree (November 06, 2013), of leaves from it. It’s got pretty remarkable color and it is consistent from year to year. If I knew what variety it is, I’d plant one, but there are so many varieties, getting one as good as this seems like a long shot. Maybe I should approach the owners and ask if they know the variety and even possibly ask if I could take cuttings next summer (June is the time, apparently). That’s a slow way to get a tree but for this sort of show, it might be worth it.

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Autumn Color, Untamed Version

Nature's Stained Glass Window

Nature’s Stained Glass Window

I already posted a picture from today, my Autumn Color, Domesticated Version, but I also wanted to post a few less suburban images. This afternoon, Cathy and I took a walk in the park, which is really a walk in the woods. The path runs through the woods by a stream and in a couple places crosses the stream on bridges. This first picture is of sycamore leaves reflected in the stream from one of those bridges. I was struck not only by the color but by the patters made in the moving water. This is a still picture, of course, and loses something by that lack of movement, but it still reminds me of a stained glass window, made entirely by the creator of all things.

Sunfish Pond on a Clear, Autumn Day

Sunfish Pond on a Clear, Autumn Day

After crossing the creek (wait, it was a stream a minute ago, is it a creek now?) between bridges and also crossing the orange fencing put in to keep us from doing that (the county has been “rehabilitating” the creek for a couple years now, and it looks to continue for a long time to come) we made our way to Sunfish Pond. The mid-afternoon light on the pond was beautiful, As we walked around so that the sun was to our left, the colors deepened and the reflections stood our more brilliantly. I often find myself jealous of people living in Alaska, Colorado, Wyoming, or northern California, where mountains and lakes are so spectacular. This may not be up to the likes of Maroon Lake in Colorado or Lake Louise in Alberta, but for a small pond in a suburban park, I think it’s rather pretty.

Appalachian Melody

Appalachian Melody

I use Appalachian Melody, October 25, 2012 as the title of a photograph similar to this one of the beech leaves. Nevertheless, that’s what autumn leave make me think of, so I”m using it again. Appalachian Melody, as I said in that earlier post, is the title of a song (and album) by the late Mark Heard, and one of those songs that stays with you (or with me, anyhow). It is one of my favorite songs and I think of it often, usually (naturally) this time of year.

Forest Fire

Forest Fire

While the first of the four photographs in this post reminds me of a stained glass window, this last one does, as well. The woods were the normal mix of sun and shade this afternoon but in places the sun would hit a tree that still had enough leaves that it would light up in brilliant color. This is one such tree and it was like a blaze in the otherwise brown scenery.

I didn’t actually go check but my guess is that these are beech trees, which often turn a bright yellow before fading to a copper brown later in the fall. They often stay on the tree over the winter, especially on younger trees, giving the woods a bit more character. We are blessed to have both the native American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and the beautiful European beech (Fagus sylvatica) growing locally. They are similarly beautiful trees and there is not much that can compare to a huge old beech tree, either as a specimen in a lawn (but you need a large lawn and a lot of time if you’re going to try this at home) or in a woodland.

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Remembering Zinnias

Cathy and Her Zinnias

Cathy and Her Zinnias

Earlier in the year the county cut down an oak tree (nearly dead) that belonged to them because they had planted it in the right-of-way back when the neighborhood was built. Around the stump, Cathy planted zinnias and marigolds and they did really well this year, blooming brightly all summer. Late last week we got a note to call someone at the county about the stump. They were going to come grind it down and he wanted us to know because it would pretty much be the end of the flowers. They showed up this morning but before they took everything out, I got a few pictures of Cathy with her flowers.

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Millipede

Millipede

Millipede

This tiny millipede was crawling across our kitchen floor this evening. I grabbed my camera and got down with him (or her, I have no idea). There are a lot of millipedes and I don’t have any idea which tis one is. It’s very small, about two millimeters in diameter and about no more than four centimeters long. The thing tat made it hard to photograph was that it kept moving. Maybe if I put it in the fridge for a few minutes it would slow down, even when I took it back out. But I didn’t try. When I was done, I put it in the pot of one of my large house plants.

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Sokho!

Sokho

Sokho

As many of you know, I have been the acting youth director (or is it student ministries director?) at church for almost exactly a year. It wasn’t something I had planned, but circumstances were such that I felt it was the right thing to do. I had been working with the youth (this is both middle school and high school aged kids) pretty much since the summer of 2011, when my good friend, Bill, asked me to take his place for a trip to Toronto, with Center for Student Missions. That reminds me, I really need to thank Bill again for that.

Anyway, from the start I was clear that I don’t feel equipped to run a youth program but that I was willing to be used. God spoke through Balaam’s ass (Numbers 22:28) so I knew he could speak even through me. Nevertheless, when Jeff told me that he wanted to hire Sokho as an associate pastor and that he would lead the youth ministry, I was quite pleased. I’m so thankful for this young man and look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.

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Tree By Moonlight

Tree By Moonlight

Tree By Moonlight

I was out this evening and just before coming home I enjoyed looking at the moon for a while. It was fairly high in the sky at this point (about 9:30 PM) and there were clouds speeding across the sky, creating a broad glow around it. Clouds lit by the moon are quite beautiful but very difficult to photograph. Our eyes are such amazing things and anyone who thinks there are no improvements to be made in camera design hasn’t stopped to think. The moon is so bright compared to the clouds lit by its reflected light. To our eyes, the clouds are just a little dimmer than the moon but a camera isn’t fooled and isn’t so capable. To get the moon exposed correctly, you have to stop down enough for daylight. But the clouds are not in daylight and they go black, regardless of how bright they seem. To expose the clouds well, the moon becomes a washed out blob. So, no picture of the clouds and the moon this time.

Instead, here is a tree, just about ready to sleep the winter away. It is lit by the light from the moon in this 15 second exposure. Here’s something that the camera can do that we cannot—store up the light into one big packet and see in the dark.

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Antique Store, Richmond

Antique Store, Richmond

Antique Store, Richmond

Cathy and I went down to Richmond today to spend the weekend with Dorothy. Let’s call it Parents’s Weekend. It wad First Friday and we enjoyed walking through many of the galleries on Broad Street and seeing the sometimes bizarre things that people have created. There are some talented people. Then there are those wo maybe shouldn’t quit their day jobs, unless making those things is their day job.

Later we went up to Carytown, another part of the city, and happened to go into a little antique or curio shop. I didn’t realize it when I was taking this picture but it’s a self portrait.

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Autumn

Dorothy, Cathy, and Emily Celebrate Autumn

Dorothy, Cathy, and Emily Celebrate Autumn

We had a nice day in Richmond today. Part of the morning was spent at a “Friends of the Library” book sale where each bought a few books. Then we went to the Jefferson Hotel to enjoy its beautiful lobby. After lunch, bought at Nick’s International Foods we went to Hollywood Cemetery. We saw the graves of two presidents among many others (people are dying to get in there) but we also enjoyed the fall color throughout the grounds.

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Perly’s, Richmond

Dorothy, Katy, and Cathy at Perly's

Dorothy, Katy, and Cathy at Perly’s

For lunch on Sunday we went to a little place called Perly’s, on Grace Street. It’s a restaurant and deli that’s been a Richmond landmark for more than 50 years. In September, 2013 it closed, but then reopened September 2, 2014, the same day that we took Dorothy down to Richmond for her internship year. The new owners reworked the menu, but it’s still a comfort food type place. We had a table in the back, which was fine with us, and both the service and the food were terrific. This is Dorothy, Katy, and Cathy waiting for our table (which took less than 5 minutes).

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Colored Pencils

Colored Pencils

Colored Pencils

After a busy weekend in Richmond, today was relatively quiet, photography-wise. I didn’t get out of my office except for meetings and didn’t have much opportunity to take pictures. This evening I was looking around for things to photograph and I came across these colored pencils, tied into a bundle with a rubber band. I don’t suppose it’s the most original photograph I’ve taken and I’m not really terribly excited about it, but it’s a picture. The colors are nice, I think, and I like the texture that the sharpener leaves on the conical ends of the pencils.

By the way, I’m posting this on November 22, 12 days after it was taken. Sorry for getting so far behind in my postings but I’ve just taken photos off my camera through today and will do my best to get caught up this week.

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Frozen Peas

Frozen Peas

Frozen Peas

I was fixing dinner and thought about taking pictures of what I was making. Food pictures can be somewhat cliché but then, sometimes, that’s all I think of to take pictures of some days. When I got the peas out of the freezer, I thought, may that would be slightly less cliché. Peas are one of my favorite vegetables (not speaking botanically, of course, where they are seeds, not stems or leaves). They are also nearly as good when frozen as when fresh, so make one of the easiest vegetables to buy a lot of and have on hand for any occasion. I always try to have peas, Lima beans, and edemame in my freezer at all times.

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Woodland Ground Beetle

Woodland Ground Beetle

Woodland Ground Beetle

My go-to site for insect and spider identification, http://BugGuide.net/, is not responding this morning, so I had to identify this the old fashioned way, with my handy Peterson Field Guide to Beetles. I’ve identified this as a ground beetle (family Carabidae) and most likely a woodland ground beetle (tribe Pterostichini). Once BugGuide is back up, I’ll confirm that and try to get a genus and species. In any case, it’s a pretty beetle and not a pest to farms or gardens. I found it on the ground at church before youth group and put it in a paper cup in the fridge (to slow it down). Then I photographed it at home afterward, on a piece of white cloth on our dining room table. This is what Cathy puts up with. I released it into the front garden when I was done, none the worse for the ordeal, I believe.

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Abbie

Abbie

Abbie

Dorothy was in D.C. yesterday stayed through the weekend. This evening she was going to spend the night with her friend, Abbie. Abbie works at Panera Bread (in case you were not able to figure it out from the picture) and had to work until closing this evening. We went there for a late dinner and then Dorothy stayed to wait for Abbie to get off work. I took a couple pictures of Abbie. They may not be great pictures but it’s hard, actually, to get a bad picture of Abbie.

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Cornus kousa

Cornus kousa

Cornus kousa

Outside my office building there are quite a few trees. At the front, just around the corner from my office there are kousa dogwood trees (Cornus kousa). Then in the back at the far end there are more. These are in the afternoon sun and this time of year they are quite lovely, blazing in their deep, fiery, orange-red leaves. I know it’s not hip to prefer a non-native but there is a lot to recommend these over our native dogwood. I don’t think there is any danger of the native trees being put out of business any time soon.

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Frost

Frost on Vinca

Frost on Vinca

This isn’t our first frost of the year. There have been two or three days when many of the lawns in our neighborhood have been touched with white in the morning. But this is the first time this fall it’s been enough to include the shady areas of our back yard. Waking up and seeing frost in the yard is a good way to remind us of how fortunate we are to have heated homes. So naturally, I went out back to lie on the icy grass to take some pictures. I did put something down to lie on, of course, which made it a bit more comfortable. I love the way the ice limns the edges of these vinca leaves.

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Makin’ Music

Musical Instruments

Musical Instruments

Cathy and I drove Dorothy back to Richmond this evening, having a longish drive down but clear sailing coming back. It’s amazing how even a few short slow stretches seem to make the drive feel worse than it actually is. Of course, in this case, it was over three hours one way and less than two the other. Anyway, I took a few pictures while we were in Richmond before getting back in the car to come home. This is one wall of Dorothy’s apartment, shared with six other women. I think there must be some music coming from this place from time to time. I’d love to stay and hear it, but tonight wasn’t the night.

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Morcela Caseira for Breakfast

Morcela Caseira, Eggs, and Goat Cheese

Morcela Caseira, Eggs, and Goat Cheese

I know this won’t look in the least appetizing to many of you, but this, to me, is just about as good as breakfast gets, particularly when paired with a strong cup of tea with a drop of cream. I have labeled the picture with morcela caseira to spare those of you who would be put off by the term “blood sausage.” For those of you afraid of blood sausage, let me say that there is blood sausage and then there is blood sausage. Personally, I like most of them, but this is probably my very favorite. Find a Portuguese or Brazilian market and give it a try. That’s where I get it.

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American Lobster

American lobster (<em>Homarus americanus</em>)

American lobster (Homarus americanus)

Cathy and I went to dinner with her mom for Cathy’s birthday this evening. We went to Red Lobster and had a good meal and a nice time together. As we were leaving, I stopped to take a few pictures of the lobsters (not yet red) in the tank inside the door.

Growing up, there was a book on our shelves called Animals Without Backbones by Ralph Buchsbaum of the Department of Zoölogy at The University of Chicago. One of my best friends in high school happened to have the same book in their house. We were both amused by the caption for a picture of a lobster at the top of page 268-8 which read as follows:

The lobster, Homarus, is mostly dark green when alive; but when boiled, like this one and like millions of others every year, turns bright red. Abouot half an hour after this picture was taken this lobster was reduced to an empty exoskeleton.

Nice.

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Funnel Weaver Spider

Funnel Weaver Spider

Funnel Weaver Spider

Those of you who didn’t like the photo of the millipede that I posted on November 4 probably won’t like this photo any better. I admit that I am a bit squeamish when it comes to spiders. Maybe that’s the wrong word, maybe chicken would be better. But I generally let them be, because they kill and eat things that I like even less. This one was on the floor at church and some of the kids were a bit freaked out that I was down on the floor taking pictures of instead of stepping on it. It’s the way I am. Sorry. This particular spider is a funnel weaver (family Agelenidae), one of 15 North American species in the genus Coras.

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Brian and Lisa Visit

Henry, Cathy, Brian, Lisa, Goldie, and Kippen

Henry, Cathy, Brian, Lisa, Goldie, and Kippen

We had a treat yesterday and today. I got a call from our good friends, Brian and Lisa, who were driving from Georgia to Massachusetts and wanted to stop in to see us and spend the night. Brian came to our youth group with me, since I couldn’t very well get out of that at such short notice (I was teaching). Then we stayed up late talking. This picture was taken about four minutes after midnight, so it counts as a picture for today (I did take other pictures today but you don’t care). We were trying to get both dogs to look at the camera on its tripod but, as you can see, only had limited success.

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Cathy and Jean

Cathy With a Colander

Cathy With a Colander

It was recently Cathy’s birthday and we had arranged to meet our friend (and Cathy’s friend since high school) Jean for dinner. Because she was coming from Virginia and because there was heavy traffic on the beltway (heavier than normal, even), we met a little later than we might ordinarily have done. Before meeting her, we took a small load of things to donate to Attic Treasures, the rummage sale at the Washington Christian Academy Christmas Bazaar, which is tomorrow (November 22). It’s a fundraiser for the senior class and is pretty well organized for a rummage sale.

We looked around at other things that had been given and sat chatting for a while on some nice, vintage, (and pink) motel chairs. Then Cathy decided she’s buy this colander to plant sedums in. Naturally I took her picture wearing it as a hat (or helmet, perhaps). I didn’t buy anything but the next day (tomorrow, at the sale itself) I bought three books.

Cathy and Jean

Cathy and Jean

From the school we drove to Rockville and met Jean at Ruby Tuesday in Federal Plaza. We got there ahead of her (because the traffic on the beltway was worse than expected) and I did a quick shop at Trader Joe’s while Cathy bought a few things to fill out her Operation Christmas Child boxes. Then we had a delightful time with Jean. Because we live so far apart (and yet so close) we don’t see her anywhere near often enough. Naturally we stayed at our table much longer than we normally do, but we had missed the busy time and there were empty tables, no one was waiting for us to leave so they could eat. After we left, I took a couple pictures of Cathy and Jean outside in the cold.

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Jared and Justin

Jared and Justin

Jared and Justin

Do you know Jared and Justin? They are sons number three and four of five (and children four and five of six) of Carey and Marilyn. If you have known Carey for any length of time, you have probably seen this look (on Jared, on the left). I knew that Jared looked more like his father than any of his siblings but I didn’t realize until I saw this exactly how much he looked like him, not just in looks but in manner. It’s a bit uncanny.

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Operation Christmas Child

Cathy with Operation Christmas Child Boxes

Cathy with Operation Christmas Child Boxes

Operation Christmas Child is one of Cathy’s favorite things of the season. We aren’t terribly good at planning way ahead but in this, she does a pretty good job. She shops at back-to-school time for pencils and crayons. Sometimes as early as January or February she will see something and say, “Operation Christmas Child” as she buys it.

A couple years we loaded boxes into our van from the school, filling the back of the van with the seats removed, delivering them to a local collection point. She is going to an OCC facility this week to volunteer. I can’t say exactly what she will do, because she hasn’t done that before. We’ve helped at a collection point but this will be the next step along the process.

This picture is of Cathy (obviously) with her two boxes for the year, as she dropped them off at Redland Baptist Church.

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Antipasto

Antipasto

Olives, Chorizo, Tomatoes, and Stilton

When I got home this evening, I knew that Cathy was going to work a bit late. Since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, I wanted something to tide me over until she got home and we’d have dinner. So, I made myself a plate of antipasti. In this case, it was not a traditional Italian antipasti. There were Kalamata olives (from Grece), chorizo with smoked paprika (from Spain), small tomatoes (which I guess is traditionally Italian, although, of course, they come from South America originally), and a few slices of Stilton (from England). Traditional or not, it was just what I wanted.

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Virginia Aviation Museum

1936 Vultee V-1AD Special

1936 Vultee V-1AD Special

I drove to Virginia to pick up Dorothy for Thanksgiving this afternoon. I left a bit early because I knew that traffic was going to be a problem. I also knew that she would not be ready to leave until about 5:30, so I was going to have to find something to occupy my time until she was ready. I decided to stop by the Virginia Aviation Museum at the Richmond International Airport.

My post for Sunday, February 16, 2014 was of an SR-71 Blackbird, on loan to the museum from the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. I thought it might be nice to see what else they have and it’s a nice little collection. This plane, a 1936 Vultee V-1AD Special, was custom-built in 1936 for WIlliam Randolph Hearst, Sr. and is the only known surviving V-1AD in the world.

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Pre-Thanksgiving Snow

Pre-Thanksgiving Snow

Pre-Thanksgiving Snow

Well, the forecast was for snow. I thought it was supposed to be overnight but when I got up this morning, it had only been raining. It seemed to be on the edge of freezing as I came in to work. Later in the morning I got an email from my brother George saying there was a dusting on the ground in New Jersey. Albert replied that it looked about the same here. That’s when I turned around and saw the snow for the first time. I guess I was concentrating on what I was doing.

This wasn’t any sort of record in terms of earliest and certainly not the heaviest but it was still rather early and rather heavy for this area. It was coming down quite hard for a while, although it never really stuck to the roads, just to grassy areas and on cars.

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Thanksgiving Feast

The Family At The Groaning Board

The Family At The Groaning Board

We gathered with family for Thanksgiving today. Thanksgiving is more than just a meal, of course, but the meal is certainly a part of the day. We did take a more traditional family picture, with everyone in nice, neat lines, but I thought I’d post this one, showing us ready to being the meal. I won’t bother to list everything we ate, but suffice it to say, there was plenty. We are truly blessed. But more than the food, of course, it was wonderful to be with family.

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Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet)

Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet)

Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet)

Cathy and I went for a walk on the Blue Mash trail in Laytonsville. It’s just behind a landfil and is mostly reverting to woods but there are some areas kept open, as well. There is a small pond and around it there were fairly dense stands of oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), also known as climbing spindleberry. It is a non-native, invasive species and grows much more vigorously than the native C. scandens (American bittersweet). I know we’re not suppose to like invasive species but I find it quite pretty and (probably because I don’t have to do battle with it in our yard) don’t mind it too much.

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Nature’s Snow Globe

Nature's Snow Globe

Nature’s Snow Globe

There was a enameled bowl on the concrete bench in front of our house and it had filled with rain water (and a leaf). Dorothy noticed it this morning and turned it out onto the bench and I took some pictures of it. It doesn’t move like a regular snow-globe, but otherwise, it sort of looks like that, I think. Anyway, pretty without much effort, which is always a treat.

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Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

I’m not a big one for Christmas lights, although I can appreciate them. I’m also not a big fan of putting up Christmas decorations early. I know that it’s after Thanksgiving and that makes it officially Christmas season. In fact, today is the first Sunday of Advent, so there really cannot be any objection to decorations. Along MD 124, Church of the Redeemer has lights on their trees, as you can see. I was going to pick up Dorothy at a friend’s and was a little early so I stopped to take a few pictures.

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