I’ve posted a few pictures from the church plant that we’ve become involved in. This week, despite the somewhat lousy weather (or icy weather, anyway, trying to put a more optimistic spin on it), we met this afternoon. We even had a pretty good turnout, all things considered (and why anyone would make a judgment without considering all things is beyond me). As usual, I took a few pictures and I like this one the best. Most of you will recognize Cathy, of course. This is Erin that she is with.
Monthly Archives: March 2015
As I mentioned in my previous post, there was a bit of weather today. That is to say, there was frozen water falling from the sky, accumulating on whatever it struck. When it came to pavement, particularly sidewalks not treated with salt, that made for quite treacherous conditions. When it came to branches and leaves, though, it made for some lovely, ice coated, plants. These are the leaves of an azalea in our front yard, which turn various shades of orange and red for the winter, coated with a fairly thick layer of ice. It was too dark out for natural light, so this was taken with a flash, which actually enhances the colors, I think
It stayed cold overnight but got up into the mid 30s (F) fairly early this morning. When I went out to the car, the sky was clear but it was &x201c;raining” under the trees and I got fairly wet. The ice that had coated everything yesterday was melting and coming off in largish pieces. I tried to take a picture of the Zelkova trees on Norbeck, which were glittering in the morning light, but it doesn’t really do the sight justice. The roads were wet, not at all slick, fortunately.
Dorothy and I drove up to Frederick today, but more about that in my next post. We had a little time to kill so we went downtown and wandered into an antique shop. I took a few pictures in there, but this is my favorite, a table covered with flatware. It was laid out with the knives, spoons, and forks in different segments of a circular display, all radiating out from the middle. The knives all range in price from $4 to $6 and the sign said 20% off. All I took were a few pictures, though.
As mentioned in the previous post, also for March 3, Dorothy and I drove up to Frederick today. The purpose of the trip was for Dorothy to take her driving test for her license. We went early so that she could practice backing into a parking space for a bit. Also, we borrowed her Uncle Albert’s car, which is smaller than ours and made things much easier for her. She wanted time getting use to that car, as well, of course.
We still had time after she got to the point she was pretty confident, so we went into town, went into an antique shop and had time for a nice lunch at Cafe Nola. While walking in the downtown are it was sleeting but at the time she had her actual road test, it had stopped so she didn’t have that to contend with, anyway. Also, we saw a bald eagle a little earlier, and we took that to be a good omen.
I’m happy to say that she passed, and is now a legal driver. Congratulations, Dorothy
Driving home today there was a disabled vehicle with a police cruiser blocking one lane of Norbeck Road. That slowed things down considerably, as you might imagine. It did give me more time to enjoy the foggy woods above Rock Creek. Because I was stopped a fair amount, I was able to take a few pictures. They don’t perfectly capture the mood, but I think this one is pretty good, especially with the added color of the beech tree in the foreground.
I don’t think anyone will be surprised that I’m posting pictures of snow today. The forecast was pretty accurate, with the snow starting to fall at about 7:00 a.m. and coming down pretty steadily until the late evening. In all we had about seven and a half inches of new snow, piling up on top of about five inches that was already on the ground and covered with a layer of ice.
Early in the afternoon Cathy and I walked to the grocery store. On the way, I took a few pictures of her with the gently falling snow swirling all around. She also took a couple snaps of me, but I’ll spare you those. Actually, in them I am wearing the same jacket and hat as in the picture on the Who I Am page. That photo was also taken during a snow storm, although it was from quite twelve years ago, on February 16, 2003. I really suppose I should have a more recent picture of myself. I’ll get on that.
The second photo here is of Norbeck Road with the snow coming down. It was falling quite steadily but the wind was not terribly strong. Walking home it was blowing into our faces, though, which did make the return trip a bit more taxing. We were gone about an hour and enjoyed being out. It was nice, though, to have a warm, dry home to come back to.
We truly are blessed.
Later in the day I saw a cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) out back. It really stood out against all the whiteness so I went to get my camera. As I came back to the back door he flew down to the bird bath, which has a de-icer in it so it doesn’t start to freeze until it gets down under about 5°F. This picture has the cardinal as well as what I assume is a dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis hyemalis). Not as good as what Albert would have gotten, but I’m pretty pleased with it. Just wait until I get a good 400mm lens.
Without question, proper Italian ice cream (i.e., gelato), with its particular texture (generally no egg and with less fat than “standard,” American ice cream), is just about the best thing in the world for dessert. A close second, and considerably easier to make if you have the ingredients on hand, is snow cream. The recipe is about as easy as anything can be: one can of sweetened, condensed milk mixed with one can of crushed pineapple. Then mix in as much fresh, light, fluffy snow as you can. You want to be ready to eat it right away, because it melts fairly quickly. Of course, the snow is the tricky ingredient, as it’s not always easy to come by, depending on where you live and the season of the year. This evening it was available in abundance. The other two ingredients are easily bought ahead and kept for the occasion.
I took only a few pictures today and, not terribly surprisingly, I suppose, they involved snow. Are you tired of the snow yet? I know a lot of folks around here are ready for spring and I’m pretty sure it’s just around the corner. I can almost feel the daffodils starting to push their way up through the cold, wet earth. But for now, we still have a bit of snow. I spotted this piece of natural sculpture when I got to work this morning. Between the stems and their shadows, it paints a pretty picture. Look for spring, but enjoy the remainder of winter.
We were over at my brother’s today for an overdue celebration of mom’s birthday. We had a nice visit and of course a wonderful lunch. As we were getting ready to leave I noticed this hawk in the back yard. It is either a Sharp-shinned (Accipiter striatus) and Cooper’s (Accipiter cooperii) hawk. I’m leaning towards the somewhat larger Cooper’s although I really am no expert. Ralph was able to get a good picture from a long way away but I was stuck with just my 100mm lens. The hawk was on its prey, so it let me get fairly close without flying away. This isn’t the full frame, but I think it turned out reasonably well. I didn’t get any closer and it seemed relieved when I turned and walked back to the front yard.
I have two pictures for today but I’m going to post them separately. Sometimes I do that because they are unrelated. This time, they are somewhat related but different enough that I’m still going to separate them. They were both taken on a walk that Cathy and I took in the neighborhood early this evening. With the sun staying up an hour longer (relative to the clocks), we had a good chance to do that. The sky was a beautiful blue and the snow was melting about as fast as it possibly could. The trees, as you can see in this photograph, are still in their winter form, but the lines of the branches of these oaks are still lovely.
The second picture I have for today was also taken on the walk that Cathy and I enjoyed in our neighborhood. It was taken just a few minutes later, still within sight of the oak trees in the previous photo. There was a Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) singing in the bushes in front of a house. As we walked by it flew up onto a telephone wire, fairly close to where I was. Of course, “close” is a relative term and this is, after all, a small bird. This image is cropped from the center of the frame, but it’s still reasonably good. I know that it isn’t a migratory bird and is here through the winter. Still, birds singing are such a treat after the cold and snow we’ve had this year and it certainly felt like spring this afternoon.
I hope you don’t find this boring. I was looking around for things to photograph this evening and not having a lot of success, frankly. I’m much better off when I get outdoors but it was getting late and I wanted to find something to photograph. I came across this 17″ long, 1/2″ ship auger drill bit. I don’t remember for sure why I first bought this long bit but I think it was drilling a long hole through the corners of a built-up pond I made out of 4″ by 4″ lumber at our old house. In any case, I like the helical flute on this and, whether it’s worth it or not, it’s my photo for the day.
Last Wednesday I posted a picture that turned out to be fairly popular, if the comments and “likes” on Instagram and Facebook are anything to go by. In that picture (see: Fog Amid The Trees, March 04, 2015) there was a beech tree against a backdrop of tree trunks. This evening is was actively raining, not just foggy, but the effect in the woods was very similar. Like last week, traffic was a bit slow in spots and as I waited to move I took a few pictures out the window. I don’t think this one is quite as good as last week’s and I really should know better than to try to reproduce something that’s already worked, but here you are.
I wasn’t sure what I’d have a chance to get photographs of today. Cathy and I were heading from work out to Potomac because the president of Gordon College was in town and we had been invited to meet him, along with other prospective and potential students and their parents. It happened to be at the home of some friends of ours. We stopped at the library to return some books and I waited outside, enjoying the clouds, quickly moving across the sky.
When Cathy came back outside, we had about 45 minutes before we needed to be there and we didn’t fell like getting there early. So, we drove to MacArthur Boulevard and then down to Old Angler’s Inn and walked down to the C&O Canal. It was a bit muddy and we were not really dressed for hiking but we walked up the tow path a little way to a spot across from Sherwin Island. We watched the sun go down and light up the clouds.
As we walked back, I kept turning around and taking pictures. As I crossed the bridge over the tow path, I took these two shots. the first of them, above, is (obviously) looking up through the trees to the west. The second, to the right, is looking down into the cold, still waters of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. I couldn’t decide which I liked better. I think they are both pretty nice, so, I’m posting them both.
If you know me, you’ll be surprised to learn that I didn’t take any pictures at the meeting with the folks from Gordon.
Are you getting tired of all these sunsets? I know they are beautiful, and all that, but is too much of a good thing a bad thing? If so, I can stop, or at least slow down a little. It does seem that they come in waves. We’ll have wonderful sunsets or beautiful sun rises for three or four days in a week, then we won’t have one again for a month. Not sure why that is. Still, I generally don’t complain when they come along. I quite like them, really. I opened the back door and took a bunch, including this one, this evening. While I was doing that, Cathy, who had stayed a bit late at work, called to say there was a great sunset. Yep, I noticed.
I made some chicken for dinner tonight, in a tomato sauce with sauteed onions, mushrooms, and Kalamata olives. To go with it, I cooked a little broccoli. I thought I’d take a few pictures of the dinner to post, but instead I’m going to go with this one of Cathy, being silly with two large spears of broccoli. She has one foot up in some sort of yoga pose, but I didn’t have the right lens on the camera for that, so you just get her and the broccoli.
This morning we had a wonderful, if altogether too short visit from our dear friends, Erin and David, along with their beautiful children. They wanted some family photos and came over for a short photo shoot. We started with some family shots, with all of them on the sofa, then a few of Erin and Dave (this is one of those, in case you’re having trouble figuring it out). We also took individual portraits of each of the family members and I’m happy to say that there is at least one pretty good picture of each of them. Thanks for coming, guys, and we hope to see you again, soon.
I’m behind in posting this but on Sunday we went to pick up Dorothy at Dulles Airport on her return from Asia. They were a while getting through customs and all but finally they walked out into the airport lobby. She (and I presume the entire team) had a great time and we were happy to get a chance to hear her stories and visit with her for a little more than a day before she had to return to Richmond. They were all pretty tired and glad to be back on the ground again. In the photo, we have (from left to right) Hannah, Susie, Lynn, Dorothy, Ginny, Cassandra, Kaitlyn, and Katy in front.
It’s been feeling decidedly springlike for a little while now and with the period of daylight hours shifted to a bit later in the day, we had some time after work to go for a walk in the neighborhood. Of course I brought my camera, just in case, but I only took a handful of pictures. As we were heading back home, walking to the west, the sun was setting through the trees.
I was home alone for dinner this evening because Cathy had a soccer game. She’s also not having red meat for a week. So, I took the opportunity to have a New York strip steak. I had some very nice tomatoes so I cooked one of those and melted some cheese over it. The olives were something of an afterthought but went with this very well. I had both Kalamata olives and green olives stuffed with garlic, both sauteed a bit in the meat drippings.
On the morning of February 3 I planted about four dozen seeds of Trifoliate Orange (Poncirus trifoliata) that Ralph and I had collected from the plant out the farm in Pennsylvania. When I got them in December, I took the seeds from the fruit and put them in a plastic bag and put them in a drawer in our refrigerator. They were there for nearly two months, pretending that it was winter. That’s necessary to their germination.
About a week ago they started coming up and this one was the first to break through the soil. It is currently the largest of about 18 that are up so far (and quite a few more have come up between when I took the picture and when I’m posting it, on March 21).
I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with them all, so if you want a hardy orange plant, let me know.
These are not the first flowers we have had this year. The snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) were blooming as the snow melted off of them last week. But these are still quite welcome. They are fairly small and there are only the two little flowers so far, but they are so bright and cheerful that they make up in quality what they lack in quantity. I’m looking forward to the spring because I planted quite a few new bulbs last fall. Newly planted bulbs tend to come up a little later than those that have been in the ground a bit longer, which builds the anticipation a bit, but that’s all to the good. Spring has certainly arrived.
The forecasters all got this one about right. It’s been relatively warm so it didn’t really stick to paved surfaces but the grass was covered and it was another beautiful morning. After the last snowfall and then the warmer weather, I think most folks around here were ready for winter to be over but we got this one, last dusting just to remind us that it can snow in the spring, as well. Because it didn’t affect traffic and I didn’t have to worry about shoveling the driveway, I was perfectly happy to enjoy this snowfall.
Our good friends Brian and Lisa (and their two dogs, Goldie and Kippen, see Thursday, November 20, 2014) came for another short stay, spending all day Saturday and Sunday with us. It started out looking a bit gloomy this morning but cleared up and ended up being quite lovely out. We drove to our friends’ farm. We visited a little while with Greg and Anna and then wandered around a while. My first photo is of some cabbage plants that we all thought looked a bit like overdressed, Victorian ladies.
From the cabbage patch, we wandered up to the barn where the pigs are kept. We enjoyed watching the very young piglets, of which there were quite a few. From there we walked out to the area in the field where the chickens are. I got into their fenced enclosure and took quite a few photos.
The chickens were quite interested in me but getting them from very close range was tricky. The would turn away just as I took the picture, or would bend down and I’d just get the top of their head. This one turned out pretty well, I think.
After this, we walked to where the larger pigs are, out in the field and then down to the garden shed. When we came home, we rested up a bit and then capped off the day with a wonderful dinner at Bombay Bistro. It doesn’t get much better than that. What a beautiful day it turned out to be.
It was another beautiful day today, cool but sunny. We went to church this morning and then to our other church in the afternoon. We got home at about 4:45 p.m. and it was so nice that we sat out in the back yard in the sun until the sun went down and it got too cool. While we were out back, I took some pictures of this Lenten rose called ‘Mango Magic’ that I planted in the fall. It is the first to bloom of the twelve things (mostly bulbs) that I planted for Cathy’s birthday. It isn’t a perfect flower but it’s the first, so I thought it worth recording.
The sky was a beautiful blue this morning but was criscrossed with contrails from a bunch of jets, either coming to or leaving from one of the local airports. I don’t know where everyone is going but there were a lot this morning.
This is the view from our kitchen door at about 7:15 a.m. It made me want to travel. Just get on a plane and go anywhere. I’m not particular, I’d be happy to be anywhere else.
The snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) have been out in our yard for a few weeks now but I haven’t posted any pictures of them this year. This afternoon I went out into the back yard and took a few pictures of a clump of snow drops growing in our back bed. They are pretty little things and their appearance so early in the year is their chief attraction. The flowers open during the day and then close up in the evening, as seen in this photo.
Spring it upon us.
A bit of a milestone was reached today. I’ve had my current camera, a Canon EOS 60D, since Christmas, 2010. Then, a week later I started my Project 365 and have taken at least one photograph every day since then. In the 1,552 days I’ve had this camera, I’ve taken photographs all but two of them (December 26 and 27, 2010). Today, I took the 100,000th photograph with this camera (although the image number is 100,010 because the camera resets to image number 1 instead of to 0 (zero) after 9,999). In case anyone cares, that’s an average of 64.4 images per day. My previous camera, a Canon 10D, was at 87,376 images when I got this new camera. I had owned that one for 2,823 days, averaging only 31 images per day (and not taking any on a lot of those days).
Cathy and Dorothy have, not surprisingly, been common subjects for my photography and Cathy let me take a few of her this evening to reach the 100,000 point.
It’s certainly starting to look a bit like spring. The trees are still bare and there are not a lot of flowers around yet, but they are starting. The snow drops (Galanthus) have been blooming a while. I had a single flower on the new Lenten rose and there were a few purple crocuses in the back yard last week. Today a few white crocuses have opened up in the front.
Spring is accelerating.
The youth retreat was this weekend, starting Thursday evening because the county schools were closed today (end of the grading period, or some such). I went up today, joining the group already there. At lunch time, some of us walked from the main building down to the house by the road. In the woods on the way down, I happened to notice these two blue jay feathers (Cyanocitta cristata). The blue in blue jay feathers is not because of any blue pigment but rather because of the physical structure that refracts different wavelengths of light differently. Either way, though, they are quite beautiful.
As mentioned in the previous photo, the youth retreat was this weekend and I came up today, joining the group already there. It was a smallish group this time, due to various conflicts that others had. We missed those who could not be there but had a great time with those who came. It was fairly chilly so we all sat pretty close to the fire Friday evening, roasting marshmallows and talking and basically having a good time. It had rained early in the day and was cloudy most of the day but it cleared up about the time this was taken. I even got a pretty decent photo of the Big Dipper a little later.
Our youth retreat was at Covenant Village again this year. I really like it there, especially the quiet. It was 18°F this morning when I got up though, which is more like a winter retreat than a spring retreat. There were clouds moving across the sky all day and it was quite lovely. To the south from the main meeting room there is a hilltop field that you can see through the trees. I went out to take pictures and the sun was shining on that spot and it looked quite nice, I thought.
This is an HDR (High Dynamic Range) photograph, made from three images taken at different exposures and then combined into one image. This process allows you to capture detail in shadows that would otherwise be black while still getting highlight details that would normally go pure white. Sometimes it it overdone and way too obvious. For all I know, this is one of those times, but I think it’s a pretty picture, anyway.
Earlier this month I posted a photo of a trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata) that I am growing from seed in a plastic bin in my kitchen (see “Poncirus trifoliata (Trifoliate Orange)” on Wednesday, March 18, 2015). Today’s picture is (sort of) of the same subject. The afternoon sun coming in the kitchen door was shining on the tub of little orange plants (there are at least four dozen of them) and casting what I thought was an interesting shadow. To me it looks a little like some ancient artwork drawn with faded ink on a sheet of papyrus. Okay, maybe it takes a bit of imagination to see that, but if we don’t look at the world imaginatively once in a while, what a dull place it can become.
Over the weekend something came up about old fashioned phones—remember when you had to turn a dial a different amount for each number—and I mentioned that my mom took my older brother and me to the New York World’s Fair in the mid-1960s. Ralph and I saw an exhibit where you could time yourself dialing your phone number on the then-current “rotary dial” phone and then on a newfangled touch-tone phone. We also talked to each other on video phones, which was even cooler, even if it was only in black and white video.
I mentioned that I had heard that the large globe at Leisure World was from the New York World’s Fair. Turns out that is not true. According to this page at the Roadside Architecture site, the globe from the World’s Fair, the Unisphere, was 140 feet tall. The Leisure World globe is only 40 feet tall. They are similar, of course, because they are both based on the same planet, but they are not the same. Someone also mentioned that there was a rumor that Australia is upside down on the Leisure World globe. That is also false.
Are you ready for flowers? I hope so, because they are coming up relatively fast and furious now and I think I’ll most likely be posting them fairly frequently. If you’ve been following me a while, then they may look like photos you have seen before. If her are new, well, they will be flowers. You’ll see.
Today the first daffodils in our yard came out. They are called Tete-A-Tete and are small but growing in large clumps and are quite cheering.