Dorothy, Cathy, Jonathan, and Amy
I’ve completed four years of living photographically. Well, as many of you know, I took pictures before I began my Project 365 in 2011, but since then I have managed to take at least one picture every day. Here’s to one more year.
We had some very good friends over today to ring in the new year with a very relaxed meal of fondue (both meat and cheese). The food was fine but the company was beyond compare. First and foremost were our friends, Amy and her older son, Jonathan. Thank you both for coming and brightening our day.
Austin and Stephanie
I guess I know I’ve been working with youth a while when they start getting married. I guess is hasn’t really been that long, Stephanie was a graduating high school senior when I helped with my first youth trip at Rock Creek Church. But this isn’t really about me, it’s about her. After all, she was married today.
Stephanie met Austin in her first year at college and it was pretty clear pretty quickly that the were pretty well taken with each other. Knowing Stephanie, I couldn’t really blame Austin, and getting to know him a bit over the intervening time has convinced me he’s a pretty decent chap, as well. They are obviously in love and seem to be very well suited to each other. As everyone expected, Stephanie was a beautiful bride and we had a lovely time, seeing her and visiting with friends.
Here’s to Austin and Stephanie. May you love each other more and more, every day of your lives.
I don’t wear plaid as much as I used to. I’m not entirely sure why. I think part of the reason is that the best plaid is flannel plaid and the it isn’t often cold enough for flannel. It gets cold enough outside, but when I’m going to work, I’m in an office where I cannot control the temperature and it’s almost never too cold for a light, summer-weight shirt in my office. At home it’s cooler but even there, I’m not usually in need of an extra layer. If I’m going to be outside in the winter for any length of time, I can wear flannel, but even then, it’s usually easier to throw on a sweater than to change shirts for a simple walk outside. This plaid happens to be on Dorothy, who spent the day in Philadelphia with Kendra. She’s wearing it as a jacket, the top layer of about three, which works well. I should buy flannel shirts that are too large, so they can be worn this way.
It’s been a nice two weeks with Dorothy but she had to return to Richmond today. Before driving her down we hung out with some new friends who are friends of friends of Dorothy’s. I brought my camera and took quite a few pictures but thought I’d share this one of Dorothy instead of any of our new friends. I suspect there will be more opportunities for sharing pictures of the others in the future.
I like this picture. It’s Dorothy between laughing and being thoughtful about something. There’s a slight grin, which is always the sign something is going on, but she’s being subtle about it. There’s something on her mind and there may be a joke coming.
Or maybe she’s about to burp. You never really can tell with Dorothy.
It was nearly 70°F yesterday but as we were driving home from Richmond it began to rain. By the time we got home (about 9:30 p.m.) it was below 50°F. This morning it was not much above freezing most of the day and by the evening it was fairly cold. On the way home I found a good spot for taking sunset pictures. I’ll need to plan on coming home that way when a sunset is in the offing. This is a panorama of five images stitched together quickly (and not necessarily expertly, but they look pretty good). I got a few individual images with a line of geese flying across, as well, but I decided I like the panorama best.
Our First “Real” Snow
We had our first “real” snow today. That is, it’s snowed already this winter, once quite hard, but we had actual accumulation this time, more than just a dusting that melted as it hit hard surfaces. This time it was about 20°F so it accumulated to about three inches. Not exactly a blizzard, but real snow. This photo was taken from our upstairs window just before I left for work. I got as far as the exit to our neighborhood. The car in front of me spun out going up a short hill. Then the main road was wall to wall cars and I decided I didn’t want to sit in my car for an hour and a half for a 20 minute commute. So, I worked from home, which is thankfully an option.
The snow stopped later and the sun came out, although it was never above freezing today. I like snow and found it quite beautiful out. Naturally I took more pictures but I think this one, of it coming down, symbolizes the day more than snow on leaves in the sun.
I was looking around the house for things to photograph this evening. Among the things I came across were two Cloisonné eggs in a dish in our dining room. I took pictures of each of them and decided I liked this picture best.
It’s a pretty little thing with flowers, stems, and leaves. The other one has white storks on a deep blue background. I don’t expect they are terribly valuable but I don’t really know. We don’t have them for their value but because they are pretty, which they are. Other than that, I can’t tell you much about them.
Other pictures I took this evening were close-ups of two Venetian paper weights and of a Martian Popping Thing, because, well, Martian Popping Thing.
Have you ever noticed that shadows are blue? It’s most obvious in the winter when they are cast on something white (e.g., snow or ice). This morning it was a bit chilly. Our thermometer ready 6°F. That’s cool even for me so I wore a sweater on my way to work. When I got there I noticed the ice on the small pond next to my office building. The water level had been considerably higher a couple days ago and as you can see, it froze over before it completely returned to its normal level. That left sheets of ice on the lower parts of the bank. In the shade of the morning it was quite blue, but as you can see, the sunlit area at the top is colored normally. So, those of you painting scenery, don’t forget blue for shadows.
We finally got around to taking down our Christmas tree yesterday. It was fairly dry and starting to lose needles in a big way. I put the ornaments on our dining room table and then took the tree outside, doing my best (which wasn’t very good, actually) to keep from spreading more needles around the house. This evening I took a few pictures of the decorations on the table. In the living room we had a few nativity scenes (or crèches, if you prefer) and I like the contrast of these two. The plain, carved, wooden set in the foreground was made by patients at a leprosy clinic in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The brightly colored one in the back is from Peru. The elephant on the right and a few others of that set are broken, but that’s a story for another time.
Euonymus japonicus (Japanese spindle)
I went out into the yard this afternoon to take pictures but for the most part they are nothing to speak of. Mostly they were simple “stiff covered in snow” from our recent snowfall. This one is a bit different. These are the fruits on a Japanese spindle (Euonymus japonicus) hedge along the side of our back yard. The deer are quite fond of this plant and the lower half or so is currently stripped of leaves. It’s a vigorous plant and well enough established that it grows back in the spring, but we could do without the deer for a little while.
I went on a little road trip this afternoon with Sokho. After church we drove up to Flintstone and from there just across the state line into Pennsylvania. The purpose was for Sokho to see the place we went last year on our youth retreat and where we are scheduled to go again this year. There was a bit of snow on the ground but we didn’t have any trouble getting up the hill. This photo was taken from the meeting room, looking southeast towards Flintstone.
We live in the age of the ‘selfie’ and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Oh, I suppose it’s mostly harmless but it does have a strongly narcissistic feel. I’m not a big selfie taker but even in the days of Leonardo, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh, self-portraits were a thing. So, once in a while, I think.
Anyway, I happened to see a portrait of this type and thought I’d give it a try. I’m not sure how well I like the results—my face doesn’t lend itself to it as well as some I’ve seen—but it’s interesting, anyway. Is it a front view or a profile? It’s both, and therein lies the interest.
So, what do you think?
OK, after yesterday’s interesting picture, which I believe is one of my top comment-generating images in just over four years of taking pictures every day, this one will be a bit more mundane.
We now have two cars with mileage over 200,000. When you have cars as old as those we have, it’s a good idea to have at least one spare because the chances of one being in the shop at any given time are fairly high. Right now we have two spares. Because of that, the miles we put on them are spread around a bit. Nevertheless, we have two cars with a total mileage of 440,000. Not too bad. Oh, don’t worry. The engine was still running when I took this but I was parked in our driveway, having reached 200,000 miles just before I got home.
After a little over a month off, our youth group started meeting again this evening. I’ve seen most folks in the interim but not nearly as often and it was good to be back together. Naturally I took a few pictures. Now that I’m not leading the time, I have a bit more freedom to take pictures. It’s nice to be able to simply show up and go with whatever has been planned. This is Lucia, one of our middle-school girls and a rising star (not to mention being terrifically photogenic).
Great Blue Heron Taking Off from Partially Frozen Pond
As I got to work today I glanced over at the pond where I photographed some ice recently. The water level was low and it was no longer frozen over but there was still significant ice around the edges. I caught a shape that I was pretty sure was a heron so I got out my camera and went a bit closer. I need a much longer lens if I’m going to do this sort of photography, really, but I moved until the heron took off and got a few pictures as it lifted gracefully into the air. It’s a shame the photograph is so monochrome, I think, butcause it makes it a bit hard to see the bird so clearly, but it is what it is (more or less).
Julia and Cathy
Yesterday and again this evening we had our young friend Julia over to help me do some organizing in our basement. Quite a while back we had work done in our basement that required we move everything away from the walls. If you have an unfinished basement then you know that usually the idea is to have everything against the walls, so that basically meant everything had to move. Because it’s an unfinished basement and we don’t spend much time down there, we haven’t put a lot of effort into getting it back to the way it was. Well, that was our task for the last two evenings. It’s not completely done but much better than it was. Of course, it was terrific to have Julia over and after working and having dinner, we all had a good time visiting. Both evenings I took a few silly pictures. This is actually the least silly of them all.
We have a few books in our house. Those who have helped us move know this and to them I say, thank you and I’m sorry. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve been working in the basement and that’s where a large number of our books are, probably half or nearly half of what we own. Today I continued working there and made some good progress. I decided to post a picture of one of the two large sets of shelves in the basement and, with apologies to Julia, who gave me the idea for the title of this post, I present you with a “shelfie.” They seem to be all the rage these days, although I’m not entirely sure why.
Portal Guardian from the Palace of Sargon II
Most of us have bric-a-brac around the house. I find it quite interesting to see what different things people have. So, I don’t doubt, would consider the things we have to be a little odd. For one thing, there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to what we have. It’s fairly eclectic.
Take, for example the things on our piano in the living room. There’s a winged bull bookend, a miniature version of a winged bull portal guardian from the Palace of Sargon II in Khorsabad, northern Iraq (Neo-Assyrian, about 710-705 BC). Behind that is a drawing of Harold, the stylish cat, wearing his trademark Argyle sweater-vest and kilt (although you cannot see much of the kilt in this photo). Dorothy is the artist of the later work, for those not familiar with him.
In any case, I don’t know why anyone would think that was a strange combination.
Seth and Bean
One problem with this whole ‘take and post a picture every day’ thing is that sometimes I take pictures but either none of them are any good or I take pictures of family or friends and don’t necessarily want to share them with the world. So, what do I do. Usually I post one anyway. Certainly there have been plenty of bad pictures posted. I’m sometimes a bit surprised by the responses to images that I don’t particularly think are any good. That’s gratifying, if a bit mystifying.
This isn’t one of those. This is more of the ‘I spent the evening with family and those are all the pictures I have’ type. I think it’s a pretty good picture, actually, as casual portraits go. This is Seth and because he is engaged to Iris, I guess he’s going to have to get used to the cameras in our family (and already seems to have, actually). He is holding their pet, Bean, whom they claim is a dog.
As I was leaving work it looked like a good sunset was shaping up. The sky was partly cloudy with clouds moving across an otherwise brilliantly blue sky. I got to my new sunset location with about ten minutes to spare before the clouds really started to light up. Of course, the best sunsets generally need the sun lighting the clouds from below, which means it’s a very brief thing as the sun drops below the horizon. This evening, unfortunately, there were clouds blocking the sun at that point, so this is as bright as it got. It was beautiful but not everything it could have been. But I couldn’t complain. I was outdoors on a wonderfully lovely evening enjoying a fleeting glimpse of solar splendor.
The View from My Office Window
Traffic coming to work was light today. I’m not sure if the forecast of snow and the terrible traffic the last time it snowed combined to scare people into staying home or what but it had only just started coming down as I drove in. A little later and it was coming down quite hard. The flakes were large and fluffy and it accumulated to about three inches. This is a tree outside my office window (a willow oak) and you can see how well the snow is sticking to every branch and little twig.
Abbie and Jack
We’ve met quite a few new people lately and these two have been a bit part of it. Jack, on the right, was in Dorothy’s class in middle and high school. As it happens, he is dating Abbie, on the left. Through Jack, Dorothy and Abbie met and became quite good friends. Through Dorothy, of course, we met Abbie and after a while, her parents. Finally (well, so far) we have met many of those involved, in one way or another, in a church planting effort that Abbie’s dad is working on. I can’t really say he’s in charge, because too many things outside his control have come together in just the right way. We certainly don’t know where it is leading or what our small role might be, but it’s interesting and a little exciting to be a part of it.
Fruit and Whipped Cream
Our good friend Julia came over again this evening. Actually, Cathy had picked her up to help with a few things at her (Cathy’s) mom’s house. They came back here and Julia helped me carry in a new bookcase and move some books onto it. She stayed for dinner (panang curry) and dessert (fruit with freshly whipped cream). The fruit was apple, plum, cantaloupe, and mango. Not a bad dessert, if I say so myself.
Lentinula edodes (Shiitake Mushrooms)
Usually when I post a picture of a plant of any kind, it’s in the garden or at least growing in a pot. I haven’t grown mushrooms in a while but we have them in the house quite often, nevertheless. I bought a pack of fresh shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) today and sauteed them in olive oil, seasoned only with a bit of black pepper. They were then piled on burgers and topped with cheddar cheese. I really should have taken a picture of the finished product but at the time I was more interested in eating it. So, you get the mushrooms nearing the “just right” stage.
If you’ve lived in this area for any length of time then you almost certainly know where this eagle is. It isn’t a great picture, hurriedly taken before the light turned green for me to proceed. I do like the framing, however, even if the picture isn’t as sharp as it might be, having been taken through my windscreen. In any case, this eagle stands in front of the Jefferson Plaza at the somewhat complicated intersection of Rockville Pike (MD 355) with Veirs Mill Road (to the east, named after the mill owned by the Viers family, but the misspelling is there for good or ill) and E. Jefferson Street (MD 28).
Snow on Tree Bark
We had another snowfall today. It wasn’t enough to close school. Of course, around here, “not enough to close school” is very litte indeed. It just was enough to turn things white. There was talk of it being worse by the end of the day but it didn’t happen. They are also forecasting much more tomorrow. Still, it was pretty.
I took this picture near the parking lot of my office building. This is the bark of a black gum or tupelo tree (Nyssa sylvatica, also known as ). It’s a nice tree with a few things to recommend it including very good fall color a very bright orange-red. if you decide you want one, though, you will want to know that they have dark berries that will drop and be tracked into your house. Also, the birds eat the berries and if they then perch over your car, you might not like the results.
Gasoline, $1.959 per Gallon
When we took Dorothy back to Richmond on January 4 I paid $1.979 per gallon for gas in Fredericksburg. But that’s Virginia. Perhaps it’s at least partly a case of supply and demand but it seems that here in Maryland everything possible is done to keep prices of everything as high as possible. If I were more cynical I might suspect that Maryland (and Montgomery County) governments are trying to keep out the hoi polloi (a.k.a. riffraff). If so, they are certainly going about it the right way. I don’t really think it’s a conscious effort but so many decisions have that effect that it’s hard not to think it’s at least a little bit planned. At the very least it’s clear they simply don’t care.
Anyway, today I paid $1.959 for regular in Maryland. I don’t know that I ever expected the price to be that low here again. I’ll be driving to Richmond again before too long and I look forward to how low it might be there, but I could get used to this. Gasoline prices like this are like a tax rebate and the certainly benefit the lower end of the income scale more than the upper.
Navigating A Mine Field
At our youth group meeting this evening we had a team-building exercise. Teams of two people had to navigate through a mine field. One of the two was blindfolded, the other had to give verbal instructions to get them through. Of course, the “mines” were just paper cups, and just as well. Some made it, others were not so lucky. After most of the kids had participated, two pairs of adults gave it a try. The last to go was Bob, who was led through the course by Sokho. The kids rearranged the cups between each run and they decided to put a lot, close together at the beginning of the course.
There were not many spaces where his feet could fit, so Sokho had Bob inch up to the cups and then instructed him to jump three feet, landing with his feet about two feet apart. As it turns out he landed a bit short of the open space Sokho was aiming for, but, as you can see in this picture, he landed quite amazingly between the cups. Actually, his left foot grazed a cup and it slid about an inch from his foot. That’s what Shelly is pointing at. Still, it was quite remarkable.
I went to the school this morning to take a few pictures of the fourth grade class. The yearbook folks wanted some candid shots of the students for the yearbook. They have been practicing a short play for History Night and we spent a little while in Founder’s Hall while they ran through that.
While we were there, the students from one of the other grades walked through, following this somewhat evil looking woman. Not being an expert on the Disney bestiary I was not entirely sure who she is. I got a quick photo of her and later, after consulting Peterson’s Field Guide to Mythical Creatures of This and Other Worlds I decided she must be Maleficent, the self-proclaimed Mistress of All Evil who cursed the Princess Aurora. Do you remember her? She pricked her finger on a spindle. She would have died had it not been for the aid of Merryweather, who was able to soften the curse. Instead she slept until a kiss from her true love woke her.
Anyway, it was quite an surprising creature to see at school and I’m not entirely sure what she would have been doing there. Someone said something about spirit week and I suppose she came for the festivities or perhaps to do something wicked while blending in with the students dressed in costumes.
The sky was mostly clear today, at least late in the day. As I was driving home, watching the sun set in the rear-view mirror, I could see a bit of color very low in the sky but other than that, there were just a few small clouds high in the sky. I didn’t have time to get anywhere that I could both stop and have a good view of the horizon. I stopped for a few groceries, though and the few clouds overhead started to turn color. So, here’s a solitary cloud, lit up by the setting sun. Not your spectacular, all-encompassing sunset, but pretty, nonetheless.
I have a 70 gallon fish tank in our kitchen. Late in the day the sun hits the corner of the tank and, all the way down the hall in our family room, this rainbow appears on the floor and slowly moves away from the kitchen for about ten minutes before disappearing for the night. It’s pretty good size, covering about four feet by a foot and a half. It’s quite bright and very pretty, running the spectrum (literally) from violet through indigo, blue, green, yellow, and orange and finally to red (vibgyor).
Moon Through the Trees
After taking the previous picture, of the rainbow on our family room carpet, Cathy and I went for a walk in the neighborhood. It’s been a bit cool out and even I wore a sweater and gloves (don’t be shocked—when it’s less than 20°F, even I’ll wear a bit more if I’m going to be out for a while).
As we walked east, the waxing gibbous moon was rising through the trees and I stopped long enough to take a handful of pictures. This one turned out best, the others being a little dark.