Cathy and I worked a bit in the yard early this afternoon, filling in some bare spots with grass seed. Cathy put down some LeafGro on the bare spots and I spread the seed. I also spent a little time taking pictures. The flower bed that Cathy planted in the front of our yard, where the red oak tree used to be has done well all summer and made it through the light frosts we’ve had with the help of sheets over it at night. This is a bright, cheery marigold, petals glistening with water from recent rain.
Monthly Archives: November 2015
I’ve been enjoying the light after leaving work but because we went off so-called daylight saving time yesterday, the sun sets just about the time I leave work now. When I went out to my car this evening, the evening sun was just on the tops of the trees, both behind my building, where I park, and in front of the building, across the street. This is the view past my building to those across the street, where the trees are on a hill. My office is on the right, just out of the picture, looking out on the Norway spruce.
I had my annual physical this morning so took a slightly different route coming in. I also had a little extra time, so I stopped to take some pictures of fall color. These are the leaves of a sweetgum tree, or maybe more properly an American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) to differentiate it from the Chang’s, Chinese, and Turkish Sweetgums, which are L. acalycina, formosana, and orientalis, respectively. If you want a tree with great fall color, this would be a good choice. You might want to look for a variety that doesn’t bear fruit, which can be an annoyance in a yard. There is also a variety called ‘Rotundiloba’ which has rounded lobes in addition to being fruitless. But the species is worthy in itself, especially if planted in a large yard away from where you want to walk barefoot.
I know I’ve done Lake Needwood recently (see Friday, October 23, 2015) but I went to work that way again today and stopped for some pictures. The sky was an amazing blue and the reflection of the sky was, if anything, more amazing. Many of the trees have lost their leaves but there is still some color left. A little orange, yellow, and red to contrast with the blue. Definitely worth stopping for ten minutes, even if it made me a few minutes late getting to work.
The roads in our neighborhood are not particularly dramatic, in general. On rare occasions, like this morning, when the fog was fairly thick, they can be fairly beautiful (however search the web for “Dark Hedges Ireland” sometime for a really dramatic lane). As I went out to drive to work today I thought I’d spend a few minutes driving around the neighborhood taking pictures.
It would probably be better without the mailboxes and lamp posts or the minivan parked on the right, but it’s still quite pretty. These are fairly large red oaks, planted in 1968 or 1969, so a little over 45 years old, and going strong. One of the street trees in front of our house, planted at the same time, died and was removed (that’s where Cathy’s marigold bed is now). The other two are still healthy but not as large as these, which are nicely proportioned. The fog adds to the drama, of course.
The clouds were quite dramatic as I drove home this evening. I would have liked to stop and take a picture but the main road has no where to pull over where I’d be able to get a good view of the sunset. I pulled into the nearby shopping center and could see the clouds but the actual sunset was hidden. So, I made do with what I could see. These clouds were to the south of the setting sun and were nice enough, if not full of color, to deserve a picture of two.
It was a rainy morning and early afternoon today. I had planned to have a photo shoot with Iris and Seth but because of the weather we postponed that until tomorrow. I had also arranged to visit our friend, Julia later in the afternoon. Since that wasn’t necessarily an outdoor activity, we met and planned to have a late lunch. We took a wrong turn, however, and ended up taking a walk along Grist Mill Trail in Patapsco Valley State Park (and having an early dinner, instead). The fall color isn’t completely gone but it is certainly past peak.
We got to have Luna stay at our house for the weekend. Actually, she was only here a little more than 24 hours. Cathy brought her home yesterday and then we took her back to her house this evening. Before we took her back, though, I took a few pictures of her with Cathy. She’s a good dog and quite easy to care for. The sheet on the sofa tells her this is her place to sleep, and she seems to know that quite well.
I’ve had good opportunities to get fall-color related pictures or dramatic sky pictures the last few days, but today I was pretty busy at work throughout the day and didn’t get a chance to go out. So, this evening I took some pictures of a flower that is drying out in our kitchen. It is a pincushion protea (Leucospermum cordifolium) and is from a shrub native to South Africa. They make good additions to flower arrangements and are quite striking. As you can see, even after they have started to dry out, they remain quite pretty. Up close, I think of it as a Medusa flower.
Like yesterday, I didn’t get out at all today so I figured I’d take pictures of something in the house. In addition to the orange pincushion protea (Leucospermum cordifolium) that I photographed yesterday, there are some dried statice flowers (Limonium sinuatum) in the kitchen. That’s what today’s flowers are. They really have held their color quite well and their crape paper like petals are very pretty.
We had our bi-weekly prayer meeting and Bible study this evening and these three were having fun with the harpsichord at the Brights’ house. Each played singly but when I got out my camera, they gathered and all played together.
As you can see, they are all on the hammier end of the spectrum, mugging for the camera. They actually can play pretty well and I’m looking forward to hearing them play more as they get older and more accomplished.
I left work early today to drive up to BWI to pick up my mom and others who were returning from a trip to a few eastern European countries. They spent about three weeks in Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia. It was nice to have them back and to hear about their time away. On the way up to the airport, the sun was setting and I took this picture of clouds in the northwest, lit by the evening sun.
I headed down by Lake Needwood on the way home this evening. The sunlight was so sharp and the air was so clear. The evening light, with the southwestern hills casting shadows on the other side of the lake, was incredibly beautiful. The wind was quite low so there was only a little bit of movement in the water and the colors were reflecting wonderfully. As you can see, most of the leaves are down, but there are oaks still holding on to the deep reds, enhanced by the color of the light.
The vast majority of the trees around here have lost their leaves of most of their leaves. Those that are holding on are mostly the oaks and the beeches, which sometimes keep a significant percentage of them through the winter. One exception is the Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) in our next door neighbor’s front yard. It’s not only still got most of its leaves but they are a really brilliant crimson. It won’t be long until they, too, are gone but while they last, I’m really enjoying them.
Do you know the story of Joseph, his brothers, and his father? Isaac loved all his children but Joseph was special in his eyes. He gave Joseph a brightly colored coat and this didn’t go down too well with his other sons, Joseph’s brothers. They didn’t treat Joseph too well. That worked out in the end but there was a long while that it seemed to be going poorly for Joseph.
Do you think other trees are envious of this oak tree? I mean, talk about a coat of many colors! Joseph’s coat has nothing on this one.
We have sunsets every day, as I think I’ve mused before. But really spectacular sunsets are much more rare. We often get pretty sunsets, though, and this evening was a good example. I was driving directly away from the sun and could see it in my rear view mirror. I found a place to stop for a picture. Actually, it was the same median where I took the picture titled Zelkovas On Fire (Friday, October 30, 2015). Most of the sky was not particularly colored but with a 300mm lens, I was able to look only at the area around the sun, which was quite brilliantly orange.
This picture isn’t everything I thought it might be, but it still evokes a memory. The crescent moon was shining through the quickly moving clouds this evening at about 9:00 p.m. and I found a place to park, so I could enjoy it for a few minutes. I put the camera on the roof of the car and took a few pictures. This one was with the 70–300mm lens at 240mm, f/5.7 for 1 second. It’s not very sharp, but still kind of nice. I got one more after this before the clouds got thicker and the moon was gone.
We had a nice time in Bethesda this evening at Villain and Saint’s Open Mic Night. We went specifically to hear Cathy’s friend and soccer compadre Ara, who was singing with her band. I really should be able to label this picture with all of their names, but we only know her. It was a rockin’ good time, loud for these old ears, but a lot of fun. In addition to Ara’s set, which included four original songs, I believe, the bands before and after her were quite good, getting a bit of the Doors, Moody Blues, and Chicago into the mix.
We had a fair bit of rain today and I enjoyed hearing that against the window in my office. Later in the day, after about 4:00 p.m. the rain stopped and the colors of the trees outside my window were intensified, as they often are in the afternoon light after a storm. At about 4:30, though, the sun broke through the clouds to the west. Apparently it was still raining not too far to the east and there was a lovely rainbow over the trees in our parking lot.
This is one of three wooden screens we have hanging in our living room. They are purdah screens (which is technically redundant, because the word purdah, from the Hindi and Urdu parda, literally means screen or veil) and were brought back from Afghanistan by my in-laws in the 1960s, when they moved back to the states.
Two of them are similar and this is the third, which is quite different, although they all share a few significant characteristics. They are tessellated screens, geometric designs, made of carved wood, and held together without any additional fasteners or glue. They are held together by the way the wood is cut and carved and fitted together like a puzzle. They are a little bit fragile and there are a few pieces missing in one of them. I’d love to figure out how to repair them, but I’m afraid of doing more damage.
He’s nearly a year old and what a year its been. Back on December 6, last year, I posted a picture of week-old Grant’s feet. Now, he’s walking, tentatively and still oh, so cute.
Cathy and I were at the WCA Christmas Bazaar today and more than the bazaar itself, what we really enjoyed was seeing people that we don’t see nearly enough, now that Dorothy has moved on to the next thing. I spent a wonderful half hour or so chatting with Angie and while we were visiting, Grant’s mom, Collyn, arrived. I was given the honor of being allowed to hold and watch Grant while his mom went for some food. He looked a little concerned when mom walked off but a few moments of distraction and he was fine. We had a nice little visit. A shame he won’t remember me, but that’s the way it is. I’ll remember him and I have a few pictures to help (including a couple selfies taken with my SLR, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do).
Cathy’s a fan of Operation Christmas Child. I mean, a huge fan. She collects things over the course of most of the year. In the past, when she starting participating, she did a box with Dorothy and a box with her friend and our next-door neighbor, Amy. When we moved and didn’t see Amy much, they continued to do two boxes, though. This year, Cathy bought a set of five boxes, because it was convenient to buy them that way. Rather than using two and saving the others for the future, though, she decided to fill all six. Wait, wasn’t it just a five-pack? Yes, but she did six. Just because.
We filled them this afternoon, having to “vacuum pack” the stuffed animal in one in order to get everything into that box, but we made it. This is Cathy, with her six boxes, heading off to deliver them to the local pick-up location. Time to start collecting things for next years boxes.
I got a few new fish this week, including this red dwarf gourami (Trichogaster lalius). The dwarf gourami is native to Pakistan, India and Bangladesh but are quite common aquarium fish. I’m pretty sure I remember dad saying that he bred them, back in the day. In addition to this fish (actually, I got two of them), I have three green and gold cory cats (Corydoras melanotaenia), white fin rosy tetras (Hyphessobrycon rosaceus), brilliant rasboras (Rasbora einthovenii), and a Koi Angel (Pterophyllum scalare).
I had dinner with these guys this evening at Matchbox in Rockville. If you go there, I can highly recommend the spicy meatball pizza and the plate of six mini-burgers. The burgers themselves are good but the pile of thinly sliced, fried onions were really great. We had a great time talking about whatever came to mind. Thanks, guys for putting up with my puns. This picture was taken outside, where there is a fire burning at the corner of the building. I didn’t have anything to put the camera on, so the platform around the fire takes up a fair amount of the foreground.
I was looking for something to photograph this evening and noticed these three figurines on the stairs so thought I’d take their portrait. The beaver and the dog are new, having been brought by Dorothy as a birthday present for her mom. They seem to have settled into the household routine. The baby was also a gift to Cathy from Dorothy. She bought it in Chinatown in Manhattan. When we were there in May we happened to find the store where she bought it, which I think it pretty remarkable. Cathy carries the baby around with her, taking pictures of it in various places to send to Dorothy and her friends via Snapchat. The ‘rug’ they are all sitting on is actually a paint sample of a color called ‘Hostaleaf.’
Like many families, we have a few traditions. One of them is a family photo on Thanksgiving. It’s nice to be able to look at a collection of them for each year, thinking back to all the changes, happy and sad, that have taken place over the years. Generally there are two cameras set up, mom’s and mine, and they are both set to take a photo on a ten second delay. I am sitting on the floor in front in this picture because it was the easiest place for me to be, considering I had to start the timers going and then hurry to get in, without tripping over a tripod in the process.
If you’ve been following my photo blog, then you’ve met Baby before. In fact, he was in a photo just a couple days ago, along with his new friends, Mr. Beaver and Mrs. Schnauzer. Baby came from Chinatown in New York City, where Dorothy found him. As I mentioned the other day, he travels with Cathy, riding in the bottom of her purse, but getting out to pose for pictures in various locations. Mostly those pictures go to Cathy’s Snapchat friends but once in a while they show up on Instagram. This outing, however, was a bit more adventurous. Baby paid a visit to Fluffy, a red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). He hesitated to actually go swimming with Fluffy, however.
It’s been really nice to have Dorothy home, even if only for a few days. It wasn’t a particularly promising day, weather-wise, today, but Cathy, Dorothy, and I took a chance and went to Great Falls late this morning. We were not alone and it was fairly crowded, at least for late November. Still, we had a great time, walking out to the overlook on Falls Island and then climbing up and over the rocks on Rocky Islands, below the falls. This is from a place we call Sandy Beach, looking towards the north end of Rocky Islands.
This is Grace. Grace likes babies. I mean, she really likes babies. The baby in vogue at the moment is Marley, an adorable little thing, although her mother says she beginning to exhibit signs of being naughty in a stealthy sort of way. She makes up for it by being so darn cute, but of course, human nature being what it is, she’ll need some correction along the way.
It’s been about eleven months that we’ve been getting to know Grace and her family, as well as all our wonderful new friends at Cross Community Rockville. We’ve been greatly blessed by them and I don’t know that my feeble writing skills can do justice to how grateful we are to them all.
One thing I’m especially looking forward to, as I do wherever I am, it watching these little ones grow up. This is one of the few benefits of being old—the ability to see the trees and not just the forest. On the other hand, of course, with age comes oldness, as we like to say.
Last week I posted a picture of one of the new fish I got for a tank that’s in our breakfast room. That was a red dwarf gourami (Trichogaster lalius). Today’s picture is another fish, bought at the same time and for the same tank. This is one of three green and gold corydoras catfish (Corydoras melanotaenia) that I bought. The cory cats, as they are called, are in the Corydoradinae subfamily, the armored catfish, and are native to South America. They quickly ate the algae that had accumulated in the tank as I was getting it ready for the fish. Now I feed them algae wafers. They are peaceful little things and a bit shy, but a nice addition to the tank.