Computers have, as you probably know, become a big part of our everyday lives. Those reading this who are younger than 30 may not realize that it hasn’t been this way for very long. Microsoft has been a big part of the personal computer industry since the early 1980s and continues to dominate the desktop.
I’m not a fan.
I’d be happy if we didn’t have to have any Microsoft products in the house. Unfortunately, in order to connect to work, we need to be running some relatively recent MS operating system. So, my main computer dual boots and I can bring up Windows 7 when necessary. I use Win7 at work, as well, so I’m fairly comfortable with it and put up with it’s (many) annoyances because I sort of have to (unless I want to look for another job). Cathy’s machine used to dual boot, as well, but with Windows 7 being the default. Recently we ‘upgraded’ that machine to Windows 8.1.
I suspect that there are a lot of really smart people at Microsoft. Like many really smart people, however, they often don’t seem to have a clue. This evening I had to reinstall the OS on this machine (don’t even ask about why!). It took hours. All the while the screen displayed very ‘helpful’ (i.e., condescending) messages. What annoyed me most, well, after the amount of time it took, was the number of times the system had to restart. This continues to be a huge annoyance with Windows. What’s with that, anyway? I mean, needing a reboot after a new kernel is installed is one thing but it seems with Windows you need to reboot after just about everything. Anyway, while I sat and watched the computer do very little for a long, long time, I took a few pictures of the screen. This is at least the third reboot, but I can’t say I counted very carefully.
P.S. I’m not much of an Apple fan, either.
Tylozygus bifidus (Leafhopper)
I enjoy macro photography, partly because I enjoy small things. I like photographing insects because I find them so fascinating. Their small size and relative mobility makes them something of a challenge, of course. As I increase my skill at capturing them, the challenges continue to appear. As I get to the point where I believe I am able to photograph a bee or a butterfly quite handsomely, there are ever small and quicker insects that are just out of my reach. Take this little leaf hopper (Tylozygus bifidus). It is only about 5mm long and with my current set up, using a 100 mm lens that focuses to 1:1, I’m just not able to get close enough. There’s always something smaller, always another challenge.
We went out to dinner this evening. Can you guess where we went? If you guessed the Silver Diner, then sorry, your wrong. We were, however, in the same shopping center and I like the lights so I took a few pictures of it before heading home. Also, we do eat at the Silver Diner now and then, it just doesn’t happen to be where we ate this evening (Ruby Tuesday).
It’s meaningless, I know, but I have an unusual (probably) affinity for patterns in numbers. When the odometer in a car turns over to a number with a particular pattern, I’m interested (I won’t go so far as to say excited). Hitting an even hundred thousand is the most obvious. In the first car I drove much, my parents’ 1971 VW bus, the odometer only went up to 99,999 so it would roll over to zero when that happened (it happened twice in the ‘life’ of the car, which made it to about 210,000). This photograph is from our newest and lowest mileage car. It is a long way from an even 100,000, so I look for other patterns. This is a good one, I think.
Verbesina alternifolia (Wingstem or Yellow Ironweed)
Cathy and I took a walk this evening, heading from our neighborhood park down Manor Run (the creek that runs through) to Sunfish Pond and eventually to North Branch Rock Creek. It was a pleasant evening, quite warm but nice out. There is quite a bit of yellow ironweed (Verbesina alternifolia) all through the woods and it seems quite happy, although even that is starting to notice the lack of rain. August was fairly dry, even for August and we haven’t had any rain in September so far. We really could use a nice, long, soaking rain.
Butorides virescens (Green Heron)
We looped around and came up to Sunfish Pond via a different route. As we looked over the pond, a pair of green herons (Butorides virescens) took off and flew in a big loop around the pond, finally coming to rest at the far end. This one was on a fallen tree and the other was on a branch, a bit further away. I only had my 100mm lens, unfortunately, so this is cropped from the best picture I was able to get. A handsome bird.
Cisseps fulvicollis (Yellow-collared Scape Moth)
The autumn clematis (Clematis paniculata) has started to bloom. This is a plant that Cathy dug up (with permission) from someone’s yard and planted. It’s finally reached a size that we need to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t get out of control. It’s growing on the fence and over top of one of the many buddleia bushes that have come up in our yard. This particular buddleia was actually planted but it’s a good location for the clematis, as well. The new flowers attract new insects. This one appears to be a yellow-collared scape moth (Cisseps fulvicollis).
Megacyllene robiniae (Locust Borer)
I’ve already posted the picture of the variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) taken at the demonstration garden at the county’s agricultural farm park. This picture won’t be so popular, because everyone loves butterflies, but I thought it was a pretty enough beetle to deserve a shot at fame. Actually, the locust borer (Megacyllene robiniae) is a pretty significant pest. The larvae live in and eat the wood from black locust trees. The adults eat pollen, particularly from goldenrod (Solidago species). This one is worn. The yellow bands that usually go all the way across the back of the thorax have been rubbed off in the middle. Most of the yellow on the abdomen is gone, as well. Still, it’s a handsome and distinctive horned beetle.
Euptoieta claudia (Variegated Fritillary)
It was a beautiful, if somewhat hot day. Summer has not really abated at all and it continues to be very dry. We thought it would be a nice day to visit the demonstration garden at the county’s agricultural farm park, so that’s what we did. It won’t come as any great surprise that I brought my camera and spent much of my time photographing both flowers and insects. The first of two images that I’m posting is of a variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia), a smallish fritillary and one that is difficult to get close to, but I managed to get two pretty good shots of it with wings spread.
Pennsylvania Monument, Monocacy Battlefield
It was another fine, summer day. Quite hot, but pretty. Cathy and I drove up to Frederick and visited the Monocacy Civil War battlefield, just south of town. The battlefield straddles the Urbana Pike (now MD 355) where it crosses the Monocacy River. The Confederate troops, under Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early, had come up the Shenandoah Valley and into Maryland and approached the bridge over the Monocacy from the north. Union troops, about 2,300 strong, but mostly Hundred Days Men, were commanded by Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace, who is perhaps more famous as the author of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.
Wallace’s troops were reinforced by men from the 3rd Division of the VI Corps, under Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts. Together about 5,800 Union soldiers faced about 14,000 Confederates in what became both the south’s northernmost victory of the war and the defeat that saved Washington. Because of the delay to Early’s troops, Union General-in-Chief Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was able to get reinforcements to Fort Stevens in time to meet them on July 12 and on July 14, Early and his men crossed the Potomac back into Virginia at White’s Ferry. That ferry is still running and the boat is called the Jubal Early.
Our connection to the battle is that an ancestor of Cathy’s (her great, great grandfather) was in the 67th Pennsylvania Volunteers, who are commemorated on the Pennsylvania monument at the battlefield. They did not actually participate in the battle, however. They were “delayed” and didn’t arrive in time for the battle. Their commander, Col. John F. Staunton, was court martialed. He was found guilty of the first two of three charges (Disobedience of Orders and Neglect of duty to the prejudice of good order and military discipline) but not guilty of the third (Misbehavior before the enemy), and was relieved of command and removed from service. (You can read the minutes of the court here.)
I took some wasp pictures this evening. I didn’t get anything spectacular, but since I don’t want to miss posting a picture for today, I have to post a less than perfect one. This is one of a few species of Augochlorella, a genus of sweat bees (family Halictidae). It’s a fairly small bee, as you can see by comparing its size to the central part of the black-eyed Susan on which it is feeding. I was only able to get two shots of it before it flew off and neither is really as sharp as I’d have liked.
Euschistus Species (Stink Bug)
I came across a little stink bug this evening. It isn’t the “dreaded” brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) that made such a stink the last few years (if you’ll pardon the expression). The genus consists of about 20 species in our area and the darkish spot at the center of the scutellum (the triangular bit in the center of its back) and less obvious dark patches on the wings (not really visible in this angle) are distinguishing to the genus. It’s a little fellow and it was climbing around close to the ground on the leaves of blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum).
Queen Elizabeth II
I know it’s not much of a picture, but on the windowsill in our kitchen is this small tin. On it are faded and worn likenesses of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. It was made to commemorate her coronation on June 2, 1953.
Her reign actually began over a year earlier, on February 6, 1952, upon the death of her father, George VI. Today, September 9, 2015, she surpassed her great, great, grandmother, Queen Victoria, to become the longest-reigning British monarch in history.
We’re not really into monarchy here in the United States. We think we have a better system, even if it was born out of the Anglo tradition. In any case, I wish her well and many more years of health.
Lucilia sericata (Common Green Bottle Fly)
I hope you aren’t too tired of insect photographs. It won’t be long and they will be a lot harder to find, so my photography will shift into autumnal mode, with colored leaves and such. For now, the insects are still going string. We were supposed to have heavy rain today and in Annapolis they got nearly 3¾″. We got enough to make the ground wet, but not under trees.
This is a common green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata), also known as a sheep blow fly. While the larvae feed on flesh, they only eat partially decomposed tissue. They have actually been used to clean wounds, eating the necrotic tissue and leaving healthy tissue alone.
Genus Ammophila (Thread-waisted Wasp)
This is one of a few species of Ammophila (the thread-waisted wasps), probably (but by no means certainly) Ammophila nigricans or Ammophila procera. They are difficult to identify, particularly from photographs and in this case, my photographs don’t show some of the distinguishing characteristics. In any case, this is one of only a few I’ve seen this summer. The wings are hiding the long, thread-like petiole, but it’s quite distinctive. I managed to get three decent pictures of this one before she flew away (I’m guessing on the sex—the orange is paler on the males but without them being side by side, it’s not always easy to tell).
About an hour after I got up, I noticed that the light out front was quite warm colored. That often means there is a good sunrise but when I looked out the color, while pretty, was fairly flat and not really suited for a picture. I happened to look out the kitchen window (which faces west south west), and not only was the color about the same but there was a rainbow going all the way across the sky. I woke Cathy and we both enjoyed it for about fifteen minutes and (surprise!) I took a few pictures. Rainbows are somewhat hard to photograph well. They generally aren’t as bright in the picture as they seemed in real life. Also, the surrounding scenery usually comes out darker than it really was. This one turned out reasonably well, though.
Lake Bernard Frank
Cathy and I drove to the small parking area on the far side of Lake Frank today and walked up toward Meadowside Nature Center and back. It was a beautiful day, although it got fairly hot by the time we were back at the car. I took pictures, as you won’t be surprised to learn, but I wasn’t particularly excited about any of them. This one was reasonably good, although a picture of a muddy stream isn’t all that special. The trees are pretty, though.
Cupido comyntas Eastern Tailed-Blue
I’ve found a way to get a bit closer in. This photo of an eastern tailed-blue turned out nicely. It was bopping from flower to flower and let me get quite near, which was unusual, and I got a couple pretty clear shots. It’s a pretty little thing and the upper side of its wings are a lovely, metallic blue with the same orange spots, which are quite striking against that blue. But I wasn’t able to get any pictures with its wings open. Maybe next time.
A Jaunty Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)
There were a lot of birds in the back yard this morning, coming down to the bird bath on the edge of our patio. They often fly to the lower branches of the nearest maple tree first, and then fly down to the edge of the bath. The goldfinches often land on a metal pole, even closer. Then there are the catbirds (grey catbirds, to be precise, Dumetella carolinensis). They land in and around the potted plants and often perch on this leaning garden ornament (which doesn’t light up any more, but we haven’t gotten around to removing it). I especially like watching the way birds stand on sloping and moving objects, with a sophisticated auto-balancing system that works wonderfully to keep them upright with little or no effort.
A few years ago, Cathy bought a hardy begonia and had it in a planter outside our front door. For a while now, it’s been growing in the ground along the front of the front steps. This year, they are growing like gangbusters and look really good.
The leaves have red veins when looked at from behind, which is what we see in the morning as we come out the door. Also, in the morning, the sun is shining on the leaves, which really lights them up. This picture was taken in the evening, though. The leaves are still pretty, although perhaps not quite so much as in the morning.
Of course, the flowers add considerably and it’s been in bloom pretty much all summer. The pale pink flowers are not particularly spectacular on their own but they are lovely hovering above the green of the leaves.
Oncopeltus fasciatus (Large Milkweed Bug)
On August 29, 2015 I posted a picture of nymphs of large milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus). They quickly grow into adults, like this one. They are mostly gone now, off to wherever adult milkweed bugs go. I think they are really cool looking. I especially like that you can see one of its three simple eyes (the red dot above the larger, compound eye). Many insects have them, but usually we don’t get close enough to see them very well.
Genus Ammophila (Thread-waisted Wasp)
It was only last week, on September 11, 2015, that I posted a picture of a thread-waisted wasp in the genus Ammophila. Generally I try to avoid pictures of the same type of animal or plant in the same year. Sometimes they are different enough, like the nymphs and adult large milkweed bug pictures, posted on August 29, 2015 and earlier today. Nevertheless, I’m posting this because I think it’s a cool picture and it lets you see this wasp from a different angle. Besides, this is my blog and I can do what I want. If you don’t like it, no one is forcing you to come here and see my pictures. One of my favorite things about this picture is the pollen that is all over the wasps thorax.
Clivia miniata (Natal Lily)
Every summer we move our fairly large clivia outside. In years past we put it under a large viburnum where it could get watered by the rain and where it was out of the direct sun that seems to burn the leaves quite badly. This year we put it on the back stoop, still out of the hot afternoon sun but also where it needed to be watered regularly. Actually, it doesn’t seem to mind getting fairly dry between waterings, which makes it an ideal house plant. It bloomed quite profusely this summer and is still going strong.
Once In A Blue Mood
I typically pull up bindweed (a.k.a. morning glory) wherever it is to be found, but the one exception is this purple variety growing outside our front door. The generic bindweed has white flowers and is a serious pest all around. This one, which has been self-seeding for a few years now, has wonderful, dark purple flowers that go well with the blue enamel of the cup and bowl that Cathy has put on the concrete bench (a.k.a. the Stone Table) in front of our front porch. It’s especially pretty in the morning light, which is handy, because by afternoon the morning glory has faded. The blue thing on the left is the remains of a ceramic hand, the thumb, I believe.
Colchicum autumnale (Autumn Crocus)
I have planted quite a few bulbs since we moved to this house about nine years ago. I do that every few years, adding to what I have, replacing those that have stopped blooming, etc. Early on I planted some autumn crocuses (Colchicum autumnale) along the edge of the pachysandra outside our front door. The pachysandra has expanded a bit and surrounded them, but they are still blooming. This one has a little bee on it, as well, adding to the interest, to me, at any rate.
Mrs. Huey’s Extended Family
When I was in eighth grade, we had just moved back to the USA after a year abroad. My best friend from childhood had moved away in the meantime, so in some ways it was like moving to a new place. One of the new friends I made was Rob. We were in homeroom together (sorted by last name) and we because very good friends. He lived about a block from the school and I went home with him after school on occasion. Those were good times and Rob’s mom was a big part of that, always welcoming and encouraging. She passed away a week ago and will be missed by her family and friends. I ‘just happened’ to have my camera today, so I was available to take family photos after lunch.
A Blade of Grass
I went out with the macro lens this evening and took pictures of small things. The insects that were so prevalent throughout the summer are starting to be a little more scarce. I took some fairly extreme close-up pictures of leaves and flowers but decided to post this one. It is a single blade of grass (fescue, to be more precise). It has the evening sun shining through it, highlighting the veins in the leaf.
As the fall progresses, I find that I have to look a bit harder for subjects for photography. The insects that are in such great abundance in the summer are gone and that makes it more work. Plants are interesting but photographing them in an interesting way. I guess I need to get a bit farther out, away from the yard and into the woods. But, with how busy we’ve been, it hasn’t been easy.
I’m still playing catch-up on my posts. This evening I was looking around for things to photograph. It was too dark to easily get pictures in the yard and I didn’t really have any ideas. Then, I was blessed with a subject that I didn’t have to go far to see.
The sun set into the west, as it tends to do, and the clouds lit up beautifully.
Agelenidaea (Funnel Weaver)
Late in the summer, spider webs start to appear in pretty great numbers in the ground cover throughout our yard. For the most part, the spiders themselves are not seen, but once in a while, if you are patient, they will come out. This appears to be one of the funnel weavers or possibly a grass spider from the family Agelenidaea. It’s a largish spider and fairly menacing looking from the front. Their webs are horizontal and have a small funnel-like tube off to one side. They retreat into this ‘den’ when startled.
Terminal B, Reagan National Airport
Dorothy flew home this evening for the service tomorrow and we picked her up at Reagan National Airport. It’s been redone since the old days when it was a dark and cramped space. Terminal B is large, airy, and quite pretty. During the day, it’s quite bright, but of course, less so at night. Dorothy’s flight was delayed so we had a bit of time to kill I took some pictures showing the high, vaulted ceiling and the tall, glass wall facing the runway.
Iris, Caleb, and Steve
After the memorial service today, we had the family, including those from out of town (those that were staying in town for the night, anyway) over for dinner. I hadn’t taken any pictures earlier in the day. It simply wasn’t appropriate and the opportunities were fairly slim, anyway. So, I pulled out the camera and took some as everyone chatted, ate, and enjoyed being together. This isn’t a wonderfully posed picture but it does convey the casual nature of the evening.
We were up bright and early this morning and got off by about 6:20. We made good time and didn’t have any real traffic issues all the way to Boston. We dropped Dorothy off at school and then returned later for Catacombs, a service held in the chapel on Sunday evenings. Before that started, though, we enjoyed the beginning of the lunar eclipse. I had brought my tripod but unfortunately, I had removed a piece from it to use with a flash bracket and had forgotten the bring that, so the tripod was basically useless (I couldn’t attach the camera to it). In consequence, this is hand held, and therefore not nearly as sharp as I would like. Still, it’s pretty clear that there is a shadow beginning to cover the moon.
I did get some pictures of the rust colored moon during the total phase, but they are less sharp even than this, requiring exposures of more than half a second or so. Not worth posting, I’m afraid.
Gloucester, Massachusetts from Stage Fort Park
Today was our first full day in Massachusetts. We drove up yesterday, arriving in the early afternoon, and spent the rest of the afternoon getting settled. In the evening we went to the Catacombs service that Dorothy participates in and enjoyed it very much. Because it is a week day, Dorothy had classes today. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are her busy days with three classes ending at about 3:00 p.m. Cathy and I drove to Gloucester this morning and wandered around the downtown area. We might have visited the Cape Ann Museum but it’s closed on Mondays.
Motif No. 1, Rockport, Massachusetts
We went south west of town to Stage Fort Park. The park is the historic site of Gloucester’s first settlers in 1623. We we climbed onto the huge rock that is the most obvious feature of the park, after reading the plaque embedded in it’s front. The first picture posted here is from the top of that, looking down over Half Moon Beach and the old fortifications.
We picked up Dorothy after her afternoon class and then drove back out through Gloucester to Rockport, northeast of Gloucester. We first went to the harbor and took in ‘Motif No. 1’ on Bradley Wharf. It is a “replica of a former fishing shack well known to students of art and art history as ‘the most often-painted building in America.’” I guess I see why it’s so often painted, but these things tend not to live up to their names. It was first called Motif No. 1 by the American painter Lester Hornby (1882–1956).
From the harbor we drove to the old burying ground on Beach Street. According to the nearby historical marker, the plot was given by the first settler, Richard Tarr, who was buried here in 1732. Cathy is a big fan of old cemeteries. We also walked out onto Front Beach. As the tide was out, we could walk a good way out, looking for shells and things among the rocks on the west end of the beach. Dorothy found this hermit crab, which I was able to photograph on a seaweed covered rock.
Coy Pond from Lane Student Center
We had a pretty busy day today. We drove up to New Hampshire to visit Dorothy’s cousin, Abba. She graduated from school last spring and has decided to stay in the area. We had a nice lunch and visited her apartment and studio. Thanks, Abba, for putting up with us. we really enjoyed it.
A busy day, but not without some relaxation thrown in. We enjoyed a visit to another cemetery, this one not as old but much larger than the one in Rockport that we saw yesterday. We also had time for a leisurely walk.
Gordon Campus from Across Coy Pond
Back in Wenham, on the Gordon campus, Cathy and I had a bit of time before Dorothy was going to be ready to go out to dinner. We walked around the two ponds nearest to the campus buildings. First we walked around Gull Pond, which is the “swimming” pond (and there was a man swimming, in fact). We still had time so we walked around the larger Coy pond, which has marshy banks. The first picture here is from near Lane Student Center. Coy pond is quite beautiful, especially now as the leaves are beginning to turn. It has lilies growing throughout most of it.
The second photo is from near the northeast corner of the pond, looking back towards the building of the campus. It may not be the prettiest campus in the world but it’s certainly quite lovely. We enjoyed our walk and capped off the evening with Nick’s Roast Beef with Dorothy, along with two hometown friends, Porter and Hannah.
Cathy, Fort Sewall, Marblehead, Massachusetts
Dorothy had classes today until after 3:00 p.m. so we were on our own most of the day. We drove south through Salem to Fort Sewall on Marblehead peninsula. It was sprinkling a little when we got there but it stopped and the sky had blue patches and it was quite lovely most of the time. The wind was up and it was great to hear the waves crashing on the rocks below. We also drove around to Chandler Hovey Park and Lighthouse Point on the other side of the harbor and were there when the rain really came in strongly and we had to rush back to our car.