In addition to the snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) blooming in our yard, the winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is also up and out. It’s a bright yellow, so more obvious than the snow drops but it’s also quite small and there is only one small plant remaining. I really need to plant a bunch more. It is in a bed that has gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) and that doesn’t really do it any favors, although they bloom and actually do most of their growing at different times of the year. I wouldn’t mind replacing the loosestrife with something a little less vigorous (to put it mildly) and perhaps with a little more color.
Monthly Archives: March 2016
It was a pretty eventful day, but more about that in a minute. We want to Ben and Erin’s house for our bi-weekly prayer meeting and Bible study. It was a good time, both for the actual prayer and Bible study and simple as a time with friends. As usual, I brought my camera. I don’t always get it out, but I typically have it with me anywhere I go. This is Will and Ben (or more precisely Ben and Ben, but the younger Ben goes by his middle name, which is William.
Will took a bunch of pictures with my camera, as well, and I thought I’d share one of them with you. So, this is a self portrait that he took, not really realizing that the flash would totally overwhelm the rest of the picture. But I kind of like it. It’s a somewhat surreal self portrait and suited to his personality. He also took a really good picture of me making a weird face at the camera. I won’t be sharing that one.
We spent much of the day at Suburban Hospital today but were finally able to get someone to sign release papers and we came home to Cathy’s mom’s house at about 2:30. I fixed dinner and we decided we should spend the night here. That meant that I needed to find something to photograph here for this little blog of mine. In the dining room, on a sideboard, is this little figurine of a water buffalo with a boy sitting on its back, playing on a flute. I’ve always liked this little pair of creatures, with the buffalo half submerged in the wood-like water of the sideboard.
It’s early March so it’s certainly too early in the year to be thinking that we are done with snow for the winter. Today we got a light fall of snow. It wasn’t enough to affect traffic particularly and in fact it didn’t stick to the pavement at all. By early afternoon it was pretty much gone entirely. But it was quite pretty this morning, sticking to all the branches of trees and bushes. I guess I’m looking forward to the flowers of spring and to the bees and insects of summer but I’m not particularly looking forward to the heat that accompanies them. But you cannot have one without the other.
We’ve been at Cathy’s mom’s a bunch lately and this morning the sun was shining through her living room window onto a table covered with a wide variety of paperweights. Many of them are glass while others are metal or stone. This is a glass paperweight, but I guess that’s obvious. In addition to the colored glass stripes on it, there are embedded bubbles, which are really pretty in the direct sunlight. It’s hard to see in this picture, but I particularly liked the way the bubbles acted as lenses, showing the other paperweights on the table.
I’ve been meaning to take pictures of this for a while now and today was the day I finally got around to it. Cathy’s parents have a few old muskets from Afghanistan. One of them had detailed inlay on the barrel as well as mother of pearl inlay on the stock. The metal work on the barrel is my favorite part of the gun, however. I couldn’t get a picture of all of it without the actual details being way too small to make out, so I decided to post this close up shot. There is some Persian writing on the barrel, as well, also inlaid in brass (I assume it’s brass, anyway). I asked a friend what it said and he translated it as “Made by Fateh Khan, son of Sher Muhammad Khan Babakarkhel.”
I was stumped for a subject for a picture today. It was an interesting day and when I came home to Cathy’s mom’s house, I was wandering around the back yard thinking and looking for something to photograph. I found and photographed a few things that I thought would make nice images for the old blog and I decided to post this image of a stump. I really like the intersecting lines of the tree rings with the radial splits of the drying wood and then the big gap between the bark and the wood of the tree.
It was a beautiful evening and I enjoyed spending it with a couple of guys on Steve’s back patio. The stars were quite beautiful, it was cool, and I was with friends. I took a few photographs of the stars. This one had an exposure of 30 seconds at f/8 and turned out reasonably well, although even in 30 seconds, the earth’s rotation is enough to blur the starts a little. This is Orion with the uppermost bright start being Betelgeuse. At 4:00 to that is Bellatrix. Then the belt, Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka (left to right) and sword, the middle ‘star’ of which is actually the Orion Nebula (Messier 42). Finally there are the feet, Saiph on our left and the brighter Rigel on our right. The bright start in the lower left, the brightest start in our night sky, is Sirius in Canis Major (the greater dog).
Just over a week ago (on Saturday, February 27, 2016 to be precise) I posted a picture of the first snow drop (Galanthus nivalis) blooming in our yard. I heard from a few folks saying they had those and other things blooming. Now, near the parking lot around my building, along the edge of the woods, there are quite a few snow drops blooming. I park out that way and this morning decided to take the time to get a few pictures. One of my coworkers saw me lying on the grass and wondered momentarily if I was alright. He said he saw me lift my head and then figured out what I was doing.
It was such a beautiful day today and I had gotten to work a little early. So, I decided to leave a little early as well and spend a few minutes taking pictures around my building. I walked in the woods and took pictures of tree leaves sprouting on a few trees as well as some other assorted pictures. Back in the parking lot I noticed the rust stains on the outside of a large dumpster that’s been parked in our lot for a long while now (to support construction that seems to be going on forever inside). Most of them are surrounding places where the metal has been struck and bent, particularly from the inside. This one reminded me of a feather.
Is spring here? We’ve had snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) and winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) but I generally consider both of those to be late-winter blooms. There are daffodils blooming and in the last couple days many cherry trees have opened. I don’t mean an occasional blossom, either. These trees in King Farm were in full bloom. I was in the area to have lunch with my former (now-retired) boss and on the way back to the office I stopped to get some pictures of the cherry blossoms. It certainly felt like spring, with the high temperature being in the low 70s F.
A little while ago Cathy started having problems with her phone. We think it started when she tripped over the cord that it was plugged into. Anyway, it would not charge when the phone was turned on and charged slowly when it was turned off. Furthermore, when it was connected to a computer, it never showed up, so we couldn’t copy pictures and videos off of it to clear up storage.
After doing a little searching and trying a few things that were suggested on various web sites, I ended up ordering a new part, a replacement charging port. It came this week and this morning I installed it in the phone. I took a few pictures of the process, more for my own edification than anything else. It’s not that hard to do although getting the new part in takes a little minor fiddling. Anyway, the old part is on the upper right and the replacement on the upper left in this picture. The replacement is upside down, showing the white plastic strips that are protecting the adhesive on the back of the circuit board.
The phone charges now, whether or not it is turned on. Also it can be seen by our computer, so I was able to clear things off of the phone. But the microphone isn’t working properly. I need to open it up again and take a look at that. The speaker phone microphone works, but not the regular microphone. Small but significant issue.
We had a bit of an unusual church service this week. Our pastor was out of town. He knew he would be leaving sometime but didn’t know when, for sure. This is all due to an adoption process that is very time consuming (not to mention costly) and fraught with all sorts of hurdles and hoops over and through which the adoptive parents must leap.
Instead of a regular sermon, we heard from six people from the church, four individuals and one couple. One of them was Alshadye, the young woman in this photograph. As we were preparing before the service, we were looking for pictures of the various speakers to put up on the screens. I had at least one of each of the others (and we also found some on Facebook) but I didn’t have any that were any good of Alshadye.
So, after the service I got out my camera (as I often do) and took some pictures, including this one of her with her son, Adera.
Not having a picture was pretty irrelevant, of course. What she shared with us was much more important and I’m so thankful to have her worshiping with us and involved in our community.
Many (very many) years ago, I don’t really know how many, this face came into being. It’s a ceramic face, specifically stoneware, colored with iron oxide to give it a more (but not necessarily a lot more) realistic coloration. The eyes are particularly poorly done, but they certainly give the idea of eyes. The hair is pretty special, having been made by pushing clay through a garlic press. It’s very thick hair, I admit, but immediately recognizable. The nose is reasonable but the mouth, which is just out of the frame here, is not good at all. Could I do better now? I like to think so. Should I try? Maybe I should stick to my day job.
After work and before I drove home I walked around outside my office a little, looking for things to photograph. It’s spring and leaves are starting to appear all over. The maple trees are in full bloom and that gives the trees a beautiful red glow, particularly when the sun is shining on them. There hasn’t been much of a change to the oaks yet, but they tend to come a little later.
One thing that caught my eye this afternoon, however, was the dumpster in our parking lot. I posted a picture of a rust spot on it the other day (see Rust Feather, Thursday, March 10, 2016) but today I noticed this chain is attached to a door on the end of the dumpster. I like the lines in this photo, particularly the arcs made by the chain as it swings, presumably when the dumpster is in transit (it doesn’t move much on its own and it would take a pretty significant wind to blow this chain around). Anyway, I like it.
This was in our powder room sink this morning and so naturally I took it’s picture. I posted a picture of one of these back on Wednesday, April 09, 2014 but I was able to get quite a bit closer this time. This is the head end and you can see the two black, compound eyes and the bases of the two antennae. As I mentioned last time, as much as most people would probably not be glad for these things around their house, they feed on cockroach nymphs, flies, moths, bedbugs, crickets, silverfish, earwigs, and small spiders. So, on balance, not bad house guests, really.
The glory-of-the-snow, more properly known as Chionodoxa, has started to bloom in our yard. This is a variety of C. forbesii known as ‘Pink Giant’ and it’s strikingly different to the regular varieties, which are generally a beautiful, pure blue. I do like this one, too, but the blue is really my favorite. The other difference is this one is noticeably taller so it’s usable when there is ground cover that would completely hide the other varieties. Anyway, another real sign of spring.
I went out into the woods beside my office this afternoon and took pictures of two very small flowers. The first, pictured here, are the flowers of the hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta. These are a pretty significant pest weed in our lawns these days and are quite remarkable. They flower quite early in the spring and continue to produce flowers for a good while. They go from opening buds to fully ripe seeds in a remarkably short time and the seed capsules are designed to burst explosively when touched, sending the seeds flying far from the parent plant. If you walk though a lawn covered with these in seed, it’s quite an experience.
It was an exciting day today for some very good friends of ours. Ben and Erin and their family have been working to adopt Ethan for about two years and all that work and effort finally payed off. Ben and Lilly (daughter number three) left last Saturday and returned late this morning. Cathy and I were privileged to be allowed to come so I could take pictures. If you are connected to the family on facebook you have probably already seen some of them, posted by Erin and Abbie, but I wanted to put this up here. It’s by far my favorite of the pictures I got. We are all so excited to get to know Ethan and to welcome him into our community.
It was another beautiful day today, cool but quite nice out. So, Cathy and I went for a walk hoping to see one or both of the bald eagles nesting not too far from our house. We had a nice walk and were rewarded with a pretty nice view of them. First we saw one flying towards us and landing in a tree just ahead. I was able to get some pictures of that one through the branches of the intervening trees. Then it flew back to the nest. I watched for a while and then saw both eagles on the nest. Finally, the other eagle got up and left, flying fairly close, landing on a dead tree about 50 yards away from us. This picture of the eagle slowing for its landing is still a little less sharp than I’d like but I’m fairly pleased with it, nonetheless.
The daffodils in our yard are in full bloom. Well, some of them are, anyway. I have three types of daffodil that bloom earlier than the rest: ‘Marieke’ are big, bold, bright yellow, sort of the quintessential daffodil (Division 1 — Trumpet); ‘Tete-a-Tete’ is a smaller, more delicate daffodil with a bright yellow corona (the cup) and paler yellow perianth (the outer petals)(Division 12 — Miscellaneous); and this one, a daffodil from Division 2 (Large-Cupped Daffodils) whose name I don’t know. They are growing along our front walk, between the walk and our house, and they are quite happy there. Along with the ‘Marieke’ daffodils just outside the walk, they practically light up the walkway on a dark evening.
It’s that time of year again, the time when the second graders at WCA learn about simple machines. I’ve posted pictures three times in the past, although we didn’t get to do it last year. There’s a new second grade teacher at the school but she was willing to put herself in her students’ hands, literally. Each one was able to lift of off the chair, using six pulleys and a length of rope. This is not only something the students can go home talking about. I have a feeling she’ll be telling the story, as well.
Along with the Chionodoxa that was featured here a few days ago, the Siberian squill (Scilla siberica), is now in full bloom. There are some named varieties of this, as well, but for my money, there isn’t much to improve on over the species. The blue flowers are quite beautiful and borne in abundance. I don’t know that I could have too much of this and I certainly don’t have enough. They are especially beautiful when seen in bright shade, when the blue is most intense.
Sorry for the delay in getting pictures up from the last few days. Rest assured they are coming (for the very few of you who actually come here to read this text). It’s been a busy weekend and I have some pictures for you. On Thursday (which is ‘today’ in terms of the posting date) we went to Laurie and David’s in the evening for a small Maundy Thursday gathering. We were a few minutes early so I took some pictures of the daffodils in their front yard. It was just getting dark and some of them didn’t turn out, because I didn’t have a tripod with me, but a few turned out alright, including this one of a nice two-color daffodil.
It was a longish day today. I went to work in the morning and got a few things done. A friend brought her two children to work (because it’s spring break) and I was able to get a few nice pictures of them. Shortly after that Dorothy came and the two of us drove down to Richmond, Virginia. Traffic was pretty horrible but we finally got there. I dropped Dorothy off with a couple friends and went off to spend some time seeing things by myself.
I started at Maymont, a 100-acre, municipal park that was the estate of James and Sallie Dooley, which they began building in 1893. It is on a very hilly site and quite varied. There is an Italian garden near the top of the hill and a steep walk down from there to the Japanese garden, which features a number of connected pools, large evergreen and flowering trees, and the waterfall pictured here. There are also some wildlife exhibits and a fairly broad collection of farm animal.
Magnolia × soulangeana, also known as the saucer magnolia, is a hybrid between M. denudata and M. liliiflora. The cross was first made in 1820 by Frenchman Étienne Soulange-Bodin (1774–1846), a retired cavalry officer in Napoleon’s army, at his château de Fromont near Paris. They are quite extensively used in our area and are quite beautiful. Their flowers range from nearly pure white to fairly dark pink, almost purple. There are very similar trees with yellow flowers but these are a somewhat different hybrid, between M. acuminata and M. liliflora, and called Magnolia x brooklynensis, first made by Mrs. Evamaria Sparber at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In any case, they are lovely flowers and bloom early, so are quite welcome after winter.
It’s been a very nice weekend so far and Easter Sunday was nice, as well. For a few years now we’ve been going to the Fourth Presbyterian Church sunrise service at 6:00 a.m. on Easter. We woke up at about 5:00 and got there just as the service was starting. Of course it’s still dark when the service starts but by the end the sky has begun to turn an amazingly deep blue (which is when I took this picture).
After the service we went to the upper room for breakfast and to chat with folks that we don’t see nearly enough. I especially enjoyed talking with Greg, Aimee, and Michael, among others. We also went to the 8:00 a.m. service in the sanctuary, their regular early service. Easter music is among my favorite, generally better than Christmas music in my opinion, and Easter music at Fourth is particularly good, being accompanied by an orchestra. Today that included singing Christ The Lord Is Risen Today, Thine Is The Glory, (both of which we also sang outside earlier) and the service ending Hallelujah Chorus.
It’s a very good way to start an Easter celebration that really continued all day for us.
I’ve posted a similar picture before but this is all I really have for today.
Cathy and Dorothy spent much of the day in the country while I was at work. Then in the evening we drove to Reagan National Airport (DCA) to see her off. She’s returning to school after a four-day weekend for Easter. In a little over six weeks her first year in college will be over and we’ll have her home again for a few weeks before she’s off again for the summer. It was really nice having her here these last few days, even if they were too short.
As to the airport itself, we are blessed by having three very nice airports in our area (BWI, IAD, and DCA), all about the same distance from home. It means we’re much more likely to be able to find a direct flight to wherever we’re going. They all have their pluses and minuses but I’d say BWI is probably my favorite. Still, National and Dulles are pretty nice, too, and this spacious terminal is much better than the National Airport as it was when I was growing up.
I met with the guys (or “the guys”) this evening for dinner at the Dogfish Head Alehouse. Between the five of us we ordered four different beers. Ben and David had the beer on the right in this picture, which is the 90 minute IPA (if I’m remembering correctly), an Imperial India Pale Ale. The one in the middle is mine, the Indian Brown Ale. I don’t actually remember which one Juan had, on the left. I’m thinking it was Palo Santo Marron, but that may be totally wrong. Anyway, both beers and burgers were excellent.
We were at Laurie and Dave’s this evening for our bi-weekly Bible study and prayer meeting. Ben and Erin came with three of their kids, Grace, Ethan, and Hope. They enjoyed chasing the chickens in the back yard and Ethan was able to catch one. He had it long enough for me to get a few pictures, including this one, which I think is pretty good.
Ethan seems to be settling in quite well and getting along with his siblings. Of course any change like this is going to be an adjustment and will continue to present them all with challenges but we’re so happy it’s been reasonably smooth so far.
Keeping chickens in a suburban setting seems to be something of a thing these days. I don’t know how long Laurie and Dave have been keeping them but I suspect it’s been longer than it’s been a thing. They certainly are not your average, hipster couple. No, definitely above average.
Considering how often I’m complemented on identification of insects and flowers, I really should learn to identify these a bit better. This is a white, but I really don’t know for sure which one. It’s possible that it’s a cabbage white (Pieris rapae) with the black spot on the forewing hidden by the hindwing. My guess, though, is that it’s a West Virginia white (P. virginiensis). But that’s a guess. We’ll see if the experts at BugGuide.net can tell me for sure. The daffodil I’m sure of, however. It is a variety called ‘Actaea’, a poeticus daffodil (division 9), planted in the late fall of 2009.