We’ve been in need of rain. I don’t pay particular attention to rainfall amount for particular months but generally April and May are pretty rainy. This year, May has been on the dry side. Recently the lawn has started to look like it often does in early August. Well, the rain came today (but of course, it’s now June). One downside to the rain is that it knocks the petals off the roses. The multiflora is pretty well finished, but the ‘New Dawn’ growing beside it on the fence is just really getting started. Here’s a picture of ‘New Dawn’ with drops of rain, a la Oscar Hammerstein.
Monthly Archives: June 2015
When I got home this evening I went out back to look for things to photograph. For quite some time now this whelk shell, which I believe is from a channeled whelk (Busycotypus canaliculatus), has been on our back patio. I’m not sure where it came from, whether it was found on one of our beach weeks, or if it’s something Cathy has had for a long time, or what. Anyway, I was looking at the spiral at the top end of the shell and thought it would make an interesting photograph. So, I set it on the table out back and set my camera down aimed at it. This is a 1/5 second exposure at f/16.
When I went out to the car this morning the grass was fairly heavy with dew. Generally I don’t like getting my shoes all wet walking to the car but occasionally it’s worth venturing out into the grass to see what else has been covered by droplets of water. In this case, a common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) was absolutely covered with little beads of water, its velvety surface increasing it’s holding capacity. The picture isn’t actually all that good, but it’s what I have for today.
Dorothy and Kendra went to a concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion this evening. When they got home, or when Kendra dropped Dorothy off at home, anyway, we visited with them for a while. These are Kendra’s Red Wing boots. I don’t suppose there is much to say about them, except that they look like well built shoes. Not a lot in the way of traction on the soles, but sturdy and comfortable.
Lexi and her mom Jean were up in Maryland late this afternoon and we managed to snag them for dinner at the Silver Diner. It would have been a shame for them to have been this close and not get to see them. Today was Lexi’s last day of high school and as you can (possibly) see, Lexi has had her friends sign her shirt. Graduation is still a few days away but she’s done and looking forward to the summer before heading off in July for early college classes. Because she is on the lacrosse team at school, they take an intensive class during the summer so they can take a slightly lighter load during the fall and still get the required credits in by the Christmas break.
Dorothy graduated last year, of course, so we didn’t really have any need to participate in the graduation process this year. However, a lot of Dorothy’s friends, many of whom are also the children of our friends, were graduating today. I took a few pictures at the reception back at the school after the ceremony. My favorite photo opportunity, and I think I speak for many, is the traditional throwing of the mortarboards. I took a sequence of eight pictures as the graduates exuberantly threw their hats into the air and turned it into this animated image. Although it would have been slightly better if the camera had been on a tripod, I managed to keep relatively still between shots so the background only moves a little.
Congratulations to all of this year’s graduates!
Before church this afternoon (our gathering is not until 2:30 on Sundays) a bunch of us went to York Castle for ice cream. If you happen to be in the Montgomery College (Rockville) neighborhood on a hot afternoon (or anytime, really), you could make worse choices for a refreshing snack. I went with Caribbean cherry (although I’m not entirely sure how that differs from mainland, North American cherry) and was not disappointed. Cathy had lychee, which is quite different but also very good. A lot of folks played it safe with mango, which is always a sure thing. I was taking pictures and Kellan wasn’t sure he wanted his taken until I suggested we take one together. He smiled for the picture that Abbie took with my camera after this but I’m posing pictures that I took, so that’s what you get. Taking a selfie with an SLR isn’t quite as easy as with a phone, but this one turned out pretty well.
When I left to head to work this morning I noticed this little lad (or lass) on the tire of my car. I took a few pictures of it there before moving it down onto the pavement and taking a few more, including this one. It’s a fairly pretty little caterpillar, although the tussock moths are pests of trees and therefore not necessarily desirable visitors. Note that contact with hairs may cause an allergic reaction.
As I was going out to look for things to photograph this evening, Cathy mentioned a spider web above one of her patio pots. It was an orchard orbweaver (Leucauge venusta), a fairly common, outdoor spider in these parts. This will be my fifth orbweaver photo since I started the blog and my second this year, but never mind.
I know not everyone likes spiders but, particularly outdoors, they are quite good friends to have and I don’t mind them at all. This one is particularly beautiful, I think.
This is the first day lily of the year in our yard. To me, this marks the transition from spring to summer and although it’s been cool and pleasant (and rainy) the last few days, the forecast is for hot and humid tomorrow and through the weekend.
While spring flowers are relatively fleeting (except the daffodils, I suppose, which last a while, summer flowers are more enduring. Not the individual flowers, which are generally here one day and gone the next. But using day lilies as an example, they tend to bloom continually, with new flowers each day, for weeks or in some cases all summer.
I happened to send a text last week to our good friend Kristine and it turns out she was going to be in town this week with her son, Brandon. So, we had them over for dinner this evening. I don’t suppose many of you will be at all surprised that I took some pictures, particularly of Brandon. We went out into the back yard and I got pictures of him jumping and doing hand stands, as well as some of him just sitting in the grass. Those turned out pretty well.
Before they left, however, Solomon wanted to come out and get into some pictures. I have a few of Solomon sitting on Kristine’s shoulder but he really wanted to have his picture taken with Brandon. Brandon, on the other hand, was a little less enthusiastic about it, but he reluctantly agreed. Here is one of the pictures that I got of them. I think it’s pretty good, don’t you?
We have a daisy like flower called feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) growing in various places around our yard. It’s a happy plant and although it self-seeds fairly liberally, it isn’t so invasive that it’s a real pest. I was taking pictures of the flowers today when I noticed this bug crawling from flower to flower. It is one of the plant bugs in the genus Tanacetum and I think it is T. parthenium, the clouded plant bug, although I’m not 100% sure of the species. They all look fairly similar. I’ll update this once I hear the expert opinion of This image at BugGuide.net.
We’ve known Lexi most of her life. Her mom and Cathy have been friends since high school. We first met Lexi when we visited her family in Germany when she was not yet three years old and when they moved back to the area, we have tried to see them on something resembling a regular basis. We live far enough apart that we haven’t always done as well as we would like, but we’ve managed to stay connected.
Today, Lexi graduated from high school and we were proud to be there with her family to celebrate. As the students filed into the room, they went past the end of our row of seats. She was only in view for a half second as she went by but I managed to get a picture before she continued to the front. I took quite a few pictures during the ceremony and afterward, at their house, but this is my favorite. Congratulations, dear one.
A year ago (exactly a year ago, as it would happen) we bought two hydrangeas for the back yard. One was a Hydrangea paniculata and the other a variety called ‘Big Smile’. They are planted in a partly shady area of the back border and seem to be doing quite well. This is one of the large, sterile flowers on ‘Big Smile’. The buds seen at the top of the image are fertile flowers that have yet to open. They are small and fairly inconspicuous. From a distance, it is quite attractive but I also like the subtle coloration and the asymmetry of the petals in this flower.
After work this evening Dorothy and I went up to Olney to pick up the car from the shop. I went from there to the grocery store and it was just starting to rain as I went in. When I came out again, it was coming down pretty hard but it didn’t rain all that long. A little while after I got home, it had basically stopped and I went out back to see what would be decorated with droplets of water. These two Asiatic lilies were the obvious choice. They aren’t the first lilies to bloom this year, but they sure are the most intensely colored. I’m quite fond of these flowers.
I took something of an unexpected walk yesterday, having to drop a car off at the shop. Fortunately it was late enough in the day and I was walking on the west side of the road so I was shaded by trees most of the way. At one point there was a small patch of woods on my right and I was a little surprised to find some roses blooming at the edge. There were at least three separate plants, two with the dark pink flowers shown here with a lighter pink version in between them. I don’t know they are some old garden roses that have gone feral or if they are natural hybrids between garden roses and wild roses in the area. They certainly appear to have a bit of R. multiflora in them and there were ordinary R. multiflora growing on either side of them. They are quite double and very attractive, though. I hope to take some cuttings when the time is right. I better return and mark them in some way, though, or I’ll never figure out which are which.
The coneflowers (Echinacea) are starting to come into bloom in our back yard. This one is opening up but hasn’t begun to get the orange colors that characterize the flowers when fully open. Each of the little rods in this flower head, forming the wonderful spirals that characterize many of this sort of flower, is actually a separate flower bud. The flowers themselves are quite small and the petals around the outside have only just started to grow in this flower head but will soon begin to turn a light purplish pink.
Cathy bought two new Butterfly Weed (Asclepias Tuberosa) plants last week. Generally this has orange flowers but we have one with bright yellow flowers. She wanted more of that, so that’s what the two new plants are. They were conveniently sitting on the table out on the back patio, which made my job of photographing them that much easier. Rather than lying on the ground or squatting down for a picture, I could sit in a chair. Nice. There were ants crawling all over the flowers but that didn’t bother me much. I considered posting one of the pictures that included some ants but I decided I liked this one better.
Cathy and I went over to her mom’s house after work this evening. Well, I went after work, Cathy went earlier and spent a good while there. She planted some annuals in the pots at the top of her driveway. When I got there, I didn’t actually do much except move some heavy boxes of things that she was going to take to a shredding event tomorrow. I took a few pictures around the yard, but mostly of the daisies growing near where the sidewalk meets the driveway.
I went up to our family’s Pennsylvania property today to do some work on the brush growing on the dam. The pictures I took of that are more documentary than photographically interesting. Also, I’ll spare you the photo of the bloody gash on my arm from when I slipped and caught myself on a rose bush. When I was done, I rested a while enjoying the dragonflies that were in abundance. I tried to get some photographs but none of them really turned out, particularly those of the dragonflies on the wing. Just before I left, I took some pictures of the Rosa setigera (Prairie Rose) that I planted in April of 2005. It is fairly large and doing very well, blooming quite profusely.
The flowers of bergamot (Monarda didyma), also known as crimson or scarlet beebalm, scarlet monarda, or Oswego tea, are quite different. They really stand out in the garden, not only because they are bright colored, but also their shape. Bergamot has antiseptic qualities and has been used in poultices for skin infections and minor wounds. I can’t say I have any real experience in terms of it’s medicinal properties, though.
Five days ago, on the 17th of June, I posted a picture of a green coneflower (Echinacea). It was green both in terms of being not ripe and being green in color. This is the same flower, five days later, showing the more familiar colors of the flower. I like coneflowers but the petals tend to get eaten and even this flower is showing signs of insect action, with the petal on the upper right being gone.
We took a fairly sudden trip to Albuquerque today, having bought the tickets yesterday. Travel days are often difficult in terms of getting photographs, because so much of the time is spent either driving or tucked away in a metal can hurtling through the air. I did manage to get a few pictures in the airport, including this one of some planes at BWI airport. As I write this, we are home again, but the next few photographs in my daily blog will be from New Mexico. By the way, in case anyone cares, I think US Airways / American Airlines is pretty pathetic in terms of customer service. If you can fly with anyone else, I recommend it. The individuals are nice. It’s not that. It’s the policies that they have to follow. Stupid.
As mentioned yesterday, we took an unplanned trip to Albuquerque. We were picked up by Cathy’s brother this morning and on the way back to where he lives, we stopped to see his most recent installation. The building is the Harwood Art Center, an outreach program of Escuela del Sol Montessori. The installation is made from old fences. You cannot quite see it in this picture but just out of the frame on the left, the fence comes up out of the ground and grows to a full size fence before reaching the gate and then the building, where it sort of takes off and explodes. Artists: David Cudney, Lance McGoldrick, Christopher Blaz, and Joel Davis.
Cathy and I had some free time this afternoon, along with a rental car. It was quite warm in downtown Albuquerque so I thought a quick drive up to Sandia Peak would be nice. It was considerably cooler at 10,678 ft (3,255 m) but we sure felt the altitude. It was quite hazy, particularly to the west, looking out over the city, but to the south a little less so and I got this photograph, which I think is pretty nice. You can just see the edge of Albuquerque to the right of center. We also enjoyed the wildflowers on the mountain: Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), Star Solomon Seal (Maianthemum stellatum), Scarlet Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata), Rocky Mountain iris (Iris missouriensis), and more. There was even a wild (or feral, perhaps) clematis.
David took us to the Rio Grande Nature Center this morning, less than ten minutes from where he lives. It was pretty hot out today so we spent a while in the building, enjoying the view out over the pond where there were ducks, turtles, a swan and quite a few smaller birds. Cathy and I walked across the Paseo Del Bosque Trail to the Rio Grande and back, seeing lots of dragonflies, a huge toad, and quite a few lizards. Before we left I took a few pictures of the rest of the group on a bench sitting in the shade of a good size cottonwood tree.
Pretty much everywhere has sunsets. Same sun, even. Some places the atmospheric conditions are generally more conducive to pretty sunsets than others, but they can be fine wherever you are, if you are fortunate. We had a lovely sunset after dinner this evening after a rainbow before dinner. This is looking southeast, actually, which generally isn’t the direction for the best sunset pictures, but when you are in a town or city, sometimes you don’t have an uninterrupted view to the west and you have to make do. This will do, I think.
David was going to pick up his and Cathy’s mom later this morning so Cathy and I had a little free time. We drove to the botanic garden, which is part, along with the zoo, aquarium, and Tingley Beach, of the Albuquerque Biopark. It is a relatively green and lush oasis in the high New Mexico desert, close to the Rio Grande and near the heart of the city. We enjoyed pretty much each of the various gardens and the two conservatories. One of the two conservatories is dedicated to Mediterranean plants and is very lush and wet. One thing they have a lot of there are sedums, of which Cathy is very fond. I particularly like them in bloom and this first photo is of a couple sedum flowers.
Cathy posed next to a large container of sedum and fern (the sedum is the brownish colored plant). We enjoyed the well established portion of the rose garden. There is a new section that looks like it was only completed this spring and the plants are still quite small but should be very nice in a year or two. The Japanese garden is lovely, although the local, southwest plants predominated, the feel was still appropriate for the name. Wood ducks and a black-crowned night heron were a nice addition.
We walked out to the farthest garden area of the park, past Heritage Farm to the Cottonwood Gallery. This is a more natural setting with all native and naturalized plants, predominated by the local cottonwood tree. They were shedding their seeds, which are attached to cottony hairs, giving the trees their common name, and covering the ground with a cottony fur. We saw a cottontail rabbit, as well, and lots of dragon- and damselflies, including this blue damselfly.
It was our last day in Albuquerque and we were sad to be leaving. I took a few pictures of Bert and Jane’s front yard while the others visited. Robert has done a nice job of xeriscaping the front yard and has three things that I photographed and identified. First, there are small, yellow chocolate flowers (Berlandiera lyrata), a member of the Compositae (or Asteraceae) family. There is also a red yucca, or more properly redflower false yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora, which is quite nice and actually seems to be quite hardy and might be worth finding for our yard, possibly in a container. Finally, there is the plant pictured here, the yellow bird of paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii), which is a legume (family Fabaceae), not anything like the regular bird of paradise, which are in teh genus Strelitzia. It’s quite pretty, anyway.
We had dinner with family this evening at a favorite Chinese restaurant and when we came out, the sky to the west was that wonderful, dark, almost-black, blue overhead fading to a paler blue towards the horizon. Jupiter and Venus were quite close together, seen here on the left a little above the center of the photo. In the other direction, the moon was quite beautiful and had Saturn visible right next to it.
After work today Cathy and I went to a benefit dinner for a non-profit run by some friends. We had a nice meal but more enjoyable still was the company. It’s good to connect with folks that we don’t see often enough and with our recent travel and how busy it’s been at work, it’s been worse than usual. We sat with Bob, Maureen, and Julia, among others, and especially enjoyed Bob and Julia singing for us. The acoustics were not fabulous and there was a bit of noise in the room (you can’t get people to stop talking at an event like this) but they did a great job. I think they are singing “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel.
For the last few days we’ve had this white-tail deer fawn in our back yard. He seems to sleep in the center of the yard, under a tree in the middle of a bed of lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor) and lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) but if disturbed he will run behind the roses along the back fence. Like most fawns he is safest if predators don’t see him, so he remained alert but still as I approached this morning. When I got too close, of course, he had no choice but to get up and move. Not that I’m a predator, exactly, but he doesn’t know that.