We were over at Cathy’s mom’s this evening, doing a few things. Cathy planted some annuals in the pots on her driveway and I replaced the two buttons for her doorbell, neither of which was working. While Cathy finished up with the plants and before we went out for dinner, I took some pictures. While I was near the Nandina domestica (sometimes called heavenly bamboo for reasons that seem a bit tenuous to me) a bumble bee (Bombus impatiens, a common eastern bumble bee) came around, testing the flowers. This isn’t the sharpest picture of a bumble bee I’ve gotten but it’s the best of what I got on this occasion. I suspect there will be more bee and wasp pictures coming here in the weeks ahead. It’s that time of year.
Monthly Archives: July 2016
Cathy and I did a bit of work in the garden today. She was mostly weeding and I was working on the roses along the back fence. I have (or had, actually) one rose that has become infected with rose rosette disease, which is caused by a virus (Emaravirus sp.) that is spread by a very small, eriophyid mite. There is no cure and in order to protect other roses, the infected plant must be removed and destroyed. So, I fought with rose branches, scratching my arms up a little. I also cut back another rose that is growing quite vigorously.
In the process I pulled off a few flowers from the Monarda growing next to the rose. This is a rather close view of a Monarda flower, taken with both the flower and the camera resting on the ground so I could use a longish exposure (1/3 second at f/32).
Cathy and Margie have known each other since Cathy’s family moved here in the late 1960s and were close friends through high school. Of course people move and it’s harder to be close friends with people who live far away but they have managed to keep in touch pretty well through the years. We moved far away from here but close to Margie and her family in the mid 1980s, so that helped. We’re back here again so usually only see her when she’s visiting family, although when Dorothy went to Alaska for spring break earlier this year they ran into each other in the airport. Small world. Or small airport, anyway.
I know that on the Fourth of July I should be able to come up with a better picture than this. In years past I’ve had pictures of fireworks or of people celebrating Independence Day in various ways. This year we stayed home and had a pretty low key celebration. I marinated flank steak and grilled it, along with some slices of fresh pineapple and we had our two moms over for an early dinner. It rained pretty hard and we never really even considered going out to see fireworks. After dinner, I took some pictures of the leftover ashes and embers in the hibachi, but that’s about it. Maybe we’ll do something more exciting next year (but you won’t put any money on it, if you are wise).
I was on my way home this evening and the sun was setting in a fairly spectacular fashion. I pulled into the circle in front of St. Mary’s Parish Church to take a few pictures. This was the original St. Mary’s church in Rockville, founded in 1813. There were plans to tear down the old church when the new church building was planned in the 1960s. Fortunately, I think, it was preserved and is now known as the Chapel of Our Lady. The parish cemetery, seen here under the trees, is the final resting place for F. Scott and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (as well as many others, of course).
We don’t have any particularly big or exciting travel plans for the summer but we do have a few things going on. The first of them is a visit from Cathy’s brother and two of her nieces (her sister’s daughters). David and Maggie left yesterday and are driving here, arriving late this evening. Laura was flying and was coming into Reagan National Airport (DCA) at about ten minutes till eleven. Cathy and I drove to National to pick her up.
When traffic is bad (which is not all that uncommon) then National is a real pain to get into. When traffic is normal or light (which, truth be told, is most of the time) it’s actually quite a nice airport to deal with. While Terminal A, which is the original terminal, is somewhat small and cramped, Terminals B and C are quite large and airy. This is the central terminal of this refurbished airport, and has a high, vaulted ceiling, shown here behind a large American flag, from the far south end of the terminal, where we met Laura. We’ve been looking forward to this visit and it’s finally here.
As I mentioned yesterday, two of Cathy’s nieces are here for a few days. This evening, Laura, Maggie, David, Margaret, Cathy, and I went out to dinner at Yekta in Rockville. If you’re looking for good, Persian kebabs, you can do a lot worse. We had a wonderful dinner and of course, there was plenty of laughter, as there always is when these two girls are together. After dinner we went to York Castle for ice cream and this picture was taken at one of the small tables out front. I’d say that Laura and Maggie were in rare form but that would be a lie. For them, it isn’t even remotely rare. I won’t say that they are my favorite two nieces but they are certainly in the top five.
With David, Maggie, and Laura in town for a few days, we had one day to do a significant outing and because Laura was only going to be here through this afternoon, that meant it would be today. We started off at the National Arboretum, where we enjoyed the capital columns, the bonsai and Penjing collection, the herb garden, and the Morrison shade garden.
From there, we drove downtown to the United States Botanic Garden, located at the east end of Maryland Avenue just below the US Capitol building. This is easily one of my favorite places in Washington. The Institute’s garden was established by Congress in 1820 and it moved to its present location in 1933. The Garden includes the conservatory, the National Garden, and Bartholdi Park. This is a view of the capital building from the garden in front of the conservatory.
With David and Maggie in town and having had our fun outing yesterday, today was more work than play. That’s not to say we had no fun together, but we spent much of the day going through Cathy and David’s mom’s shed and throwing away old, sometimes mouse eaten papers, among many other things. There was a metal cabinet outside her kitchen door that at one time had gardening tools, a few buckets of paint, and some small bottles of pesticide, among other things. Many other things, actually. As is often the case with cabinets of this sort, it eventually became a little less organized and there were things there that were long since forgotten and which needed to be tossed. In fact, we decided that the entire cabinet was ready for the county’s metal recycling program. This is the top of one shelf. You can clearly see that there was a can of something brown, viscous, and oily, which leaked out and held some other items in place, including two small packs of fasteners, which still remain firmly attached.
I took two trips to the dump plus one before this, with some yard waste that I had loaded into the van last week. In the evening we came back to our house and I fixed grandma’s famous chicken and pilau recipes, which turned out pretty well. At least no one pushed their plates away in disgust.
As I write this, it’s been a week since this picture was taken, but as always, I’m posting this with the date the photo was taken, not when it is finally put on-line. We had an absolutely wonderful time at the wedding of Laurie and Edy this evening. The ceremony and reception were both held at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. We had never been there before but it reminds us quite a bit of Brookside Gardens, in Wheaton, Maryland, where we go often enough. In fact, seven years ago I met Laurie and her mom at Brookside Gardens to take some portraits for her graduation announcement. I know it’s cliche to say so, but it seems like only yesterday.
The wedding itself was lovely, under a mostly sunny, blue sky. Then, while the wedding party was involved in taking a few pictures, we were able to roam about the gardens a little while. This was taken as the bride and groom walked down towards a pond for a few more pictures.
It was also good to get caught up with Laurie’s sisters and her brother, who is heading off to college in the fall. Jack and Sue will be empty nesters for after raising five wonderful kids. Karlee and Nate will still be home from time to time, of course, and the others will visit, but this year will be an adjustment for them, as well.
Anyway, it was a lovely way to celebrate with a lovely couple and their families. We were honored to be invited and included in the festivities.
After a day off and a beautiful wedding yesterday, we spent much of today going through things in Cathy’s mom’s shed. I took two more trips to the dump and we got through a lot of things. It isn’t exactly my idea of ‘vacation’ but a day off from work isn’t always about travel and seeing the sights. It needed to be done and it was good to do it. It was also good to be with David and Maggie, who leave tomorrow on the long drive home.
One thing that we had to do was go through a big, lidded basket filled with stuffed animals and dolls that belonged to Cathy. Unfortunately, the mice had already gone through the basket and most of the creatures inside were a little (in a few cases a lot) worse for the wear. There were one or two that even the mice wouldn’t touch, but for the most part, everything went to the dump. But I took pictures of Cathy with many of them as a remembrance. In the case of this picture, it’s a mouse that was totally disrespected by the other mice.
It was a slow day photographically. That happens fairly often, I suppose. This take-a-picture-a-day thing is great in theory. If I didn’t work or was able to get outdoors to different places every day, it would be a lot easier. As it is, my life isn’t all that interesting. Nine days out of ten there’s nothing of any note to photograph. Oh, taking pictures of flowers, insects, and the occasional sunset is all well and good but some days, even that doesn’t happen. So, I look around the house for something a little different. There was some glitter on the dining room table, left over from a recent baby shower (well, the ‘baby’ is 8, but whatever). So, that’s what I photographed. I like the fact that this one star-shaped piece is standing point down in the tablecloth. You can also make out the reflection of the tablecloth pattern in the center of the star.
I was over at Laurie and David’s house this evening and, as always, I stopped to smell the roses, metaphorically speaking. In particular, I got down on the ground to spend a little time up close with a few zinnias. Most people who know me well have found my lying on the ground in a garden at one time or another, or at least know it’s something I do. Paul and Janet got there while I was thus and commented on it. They weren’t particularly surprised to find me like that, though.
As I’ll illustrate tomorrow and the next day, Cathy and I went on a little ‘family history safari’ (Cathy’s words). She has ancestors and various relations who lived in the Stroudsburg and Scranton areas of northeastern Pennsylvania. She had some places she wanted to visit, including a few cemeteries, and so we took a couple days off work and this morning we headed up to Stroudsburg. We decided to do a little sightseeing, as well, so today we drove to the Delaware Water Gap, just a few minutes outside Stroudsburg. This is where the Delaware River cuts through the Appalachian Mountains and it’s a pretty spot on the river, if you ignore the roar of traffic from Interstate 80, that also takes this path (and I can’t say that I blame the highway folks from doing that, it makes a lot of sense). This picture was taken from the New Jersey side of the river, looking downstream with Pennsylvania on the far bank.
As I mentioned in my last post, we went on what we decided to call (half jokingly) a ‘Family History Safari’ in northeastern Pennsylvania. Yesterday we drove up to Stroudsburg and visited the Delaware Water Gap. We enjoyed a quiet drive up the Old Mine Road through Worthington State Forest, on the New Jersey side of the river. Anyone who tells you New Jersey doesn’t have anything worth visiting has never been here. It was lovely, quiet, and peaceful. This morning we started with a visit to the courthouse to see if we could find any records about Cathy’s ancestors. We were sent to the archives but the archivist was out. After waiting a little while, we went to the local Historical Society office in the Stroud Mansion. Guess where the archivist happened to be? Yes, that’s right.
Cathy spent a while looking through old newspapers and I found some information on Pennsylvania’s 67th Regiment, in which her great, great, grandfather served. From there we drove to the little village of Gilbert, which you can literally miss by blinking (we did!). There we walked around the local cemetery and saw the church in which her great grandfather was baptized. We drove north from there to the old Merwinsburgh Hotel, where her great, great, uncle lived and worked for a time. Nothing earth shattering in terms of discoveries but a nice day.
We finished the day by spending about an hour and a half at the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, which was nice. While we were there I got a phone call from Dorothy saying she was fine. She wanted to let us know, so that when we saw the news we wouldn’t worry so much. We hadn’t been listening to the news so we didn’t know what was up, but shortly after that we started getting messages from friends asking if she was alright. She was.
I’ve already posted a picture from today (two, actually) but I thought I’d post one more. We had a fairly long day of sitting in offices and then driving around, we saw some interesting things, and while at the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm we got a call from Dorothy saying she was fine, in spite of what was going on in the city where she is living. We sent text messages back and forth until fairly late (which for her became fairly early the next morning). With all the running around, we never managed to stop for lunch.
So, in the evening, after the Historical Farm and a short stop back at our hotel, we went to the Trackside Station Grill & Bar in East Stroudsburg for dinner. I was pretty hungry and decided to go all out. I ordered the Eastburger, which is described on their menu as “Two 8oz Black Angus burgers, grilled cheese sandwich center, layers of lettuce, tomato, & beer battered onion rings, on a pretzel bun, served with house made honey mustard.” You had me at a pound of ground beef with a grilled cheese sandwich center.
To answer the obvious question, yes, I cleaned my plate.
We spent today in Scranton, seeing the house where Cathy’s great, great, uncle lived and the church where his family were members. We also found family graves in two cemeteries. The highlight for Cathy, I think, was finding the death certificate (on microfilm) of her great, great grandmother in the Albright Memorial Library, which is a pretty amazing building.
After that we went to the Steamtown National Historic Site, where we enjoyed looking at old locomotives and other train cars. This is the Union Pacific’s locomotive #4012, a 4-8-8-4 Big Boy, among the largest and most powerful steam locomotives in the world. It is 132 feet, 10 inches long and with a loaded tender weights 1,189,500 pounds, yet it was capable of reaching speeds of over eighty miles per hour.
If you or your kids like trains, you could do worse than spending a half day at this place. Lots of nice equipment in the remaining portions of an old roundhouse. Recommended.
We had a nice long weekend away, tracking down some of Cathy’s family history. We also got to see some pretty sights, including the Delaware Water Gap, the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, three very different cemeteries, a train museum, and we even went to a coal mining museum. The Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour and Anthracite Heritage Museum were closed by the time we got there but we were able to walk around a little and saw such things as a 13,000 pound chuck of anthracite and the adit where tours go down into the old mine workings. If we’re ever back in Scranton, particularly if it’s as hot as it’s been this weekend, that should be high on our list of things to do.
This morning, I went down to breakfast early and then was back in our hotel room, doing a little writing in my journal. I opened the curtain just enough to give me a little light to work by and these four stripes appeared on the wall. The sun was reflecting off the windscreens of four cars parked outside and shining up through the hotel room window, which was covered with condensation, giving the light the speckled appearance you see here. I took this picture as an abstract, really. It has no real meaning, but I think it’s a pretty pattern.
Some weeks I expect to have things to take pictures of but it works out that I don’t and I have to work to keep this thing going. Other weeks I somehow know ahead of time that it’s going to be busy and it’s going to be a struggle. This is one of those weeks. I don’t have a lot extra happening and in fact a couple days I don’t have anything after work, but I just have a feeling it’s going to be a dry week. This evening it rained, actually, so not dry in the literal sense. I love the colors of the garden in the rain. They are more intense when the sun isn’t so bright on them. This picture really doesn’t do it justice, but the yard looks nice right now. Unfortunately, the forecast is for hotter each day this week and approaching 100°F by the weekend. Not looking forward to that.
I was in south Rockville this evening, meeting the guys at Matchbox for dinner. I got there a little early and of course I had my camera with me. The sky was a really amazing blue and there were fluffy white clouds moving across it. Rather than take a picture of just a cloud, I decided to include a light post in the picture, hopefully breaking up the monotony at least a little. Still, it’s just a cloud on a beautiful blue sky. The pizza at Matchbox it killer, by the way, and paired with a vanilla porter, it was a wonderful meal.
The bees and wasps are out in force and if it were not so hot, I’d be spending more time photographing them. I did go out a little early this evening and got a few pictures, including this one of a female eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica). This was taken with available light, so it’s not as sharp as and has less depth of field than I’d like, but it’s not a bad picture. You can see the bee’s dorsal ocelli, the three simple (single lens) eyes in the center of her face, just above the two antennae. I happen to think that bees and many insects are among the most beautiful creatures in the world. Of course, the same can be said for fish, birds, mammals, and other classes, so maybe I just like animals. And plants.
I went out to photograph insects again this afternoon. It was hot out, but that’s when the bees, wasps, butterflies, and dragonflies are at their busy best. The first thing I saw was a four-toothed mason wasp (Monobia quadridens), a mostly black beast with very distinctive ivory markings. There was also a dragonfly out in the yard, which Brady identified for me as a female widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa). But my favorite bee for the day is this sculptured resin bee (Megachile sculpturalis), which I think is quite pretty, in a stinging-insect sort of way. It is native to east Asia and was first reported in North Carolina in June, 1994 but has subsequently spread over the entire eastern half of the continental United States.
I’m sorry to say that today’s photograph is mostly filler. I’m tempted to say all filler, because it’s not really much of a photograph. We have this little basket that’s been sitting on our mantle for a while now. I’m not entirely sure where it came from (and Cathy isn’t here right now for me to ask). Anyway, I took some close up pictures of it today and that’s all I have. This is the lid from the basket (which is also woven).
Actually, when I went to get them off my camera, I got a bit worried. I take the pictures from my camera and put them into directories with the date as part of their name. When I went to get pictures for July 22, there were none. I panicked briefly thinking I hadn’t taken any for today. But my computer and my camera don’t seem to be on the same page in terms of daylight saving time and the computer thought they were taken at 12:05 tomorrow morning. The time recorded by the camera within the image was correct, however, showing up as 11:05 PM today.
The buddleia is blooming and is attracting the fluttery insects in fairly substantial numbers. The most obvious, if not the most numerous, would have to be the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). There is generally at least one and on occasion two or three on the little bush at any time. There are also lots of bees, of course and the carpenter and bumble bees seem particularly attracted. I saw a hummingbird the other day and we’ve seen the occasional sphinx moth from our kitchen window. A happy time of year for viewing insects.
Because our church meets at 4:00 p.m. we don’t have anything planned in the morning. This morning we went to church at Grace Meridian Hill at the corner of Monroe and 13th Streets N.W. in the District. On the way home we stopped at Battleground National Cemetery on Georgia Avenue (which is also US 29) between Van Buren Street and Whittier Place. It was established shortly after the Battle of Fort Stevens, in the summer of 1864 and is one of the United State’s smallest national cemeteries with the graves of 41 Union soldiers who died in the the Battle of Fort Stevens (there were a total of over 900 killed or wounded in the battle from both sides).
Per the Missouri Botanical Garden, Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ “is a hybrid ornamental oregano (O. rotundifolium x O. scabrum) that is grown primarily for its attractive flowers and foliage.” Cathy has had some growing in our garden off and on for many years and we love its delicate, pink flowers, as well as the pale leaves. It’s not completely hardy here but makes it through all but the worst winters and grows quickly enough to be treated as an annual. We don’t use it for cooking for two main reasons: the leaves are not pungent enough for that and we have regular oregano growing in our little fenced herb garden.
Just over a month ago (June 24, 2016) I posted a picture of a dead wasp that I found on the floor of my office hallway. I liked the fact that I could get very close and use a long exposure (because it wasn’t alive and trying to get away from me) to get more depth of field than is usually possible with a live wasp. Today I was walking back from a meeting in another building and saw this dead bumble bee on the path. So, naturally (we’ve all done this, right?) I picked it up and brought it back to my office to get the ‘dead bee treatment.’ This exposure was 0.8 seconds at f/32.
I went out into the woods beside my building today. When I started working here this property (actually, three separate parcels totaling about 17 acres) was mostly a field with occasional trees. Even as recently as 2011, when I started taking a picture a day for my initial Project 365, there were more open areas than what I’d consider woods. Over the course of the last five years it’s really grown up into a young woodland. I came across a Micrathena spider today but had a hard time getting any pictures and none of them were particularly good. Then I saw this little lady beetle (commonly known as a lady bird or lady bug) and was happy to be able to get a few good pictures of it. I’m pretty sure this is a multicolored Asian lady beetle and that’s what I’ve put in the title. I’ll make a correction here if I discover he’s something else.
With apologies to James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938), I present Dem Bones. In this case, they are (I assume) deer bones that I came across in the woods behind my office building. While yesterday’s picture was taken in the large lot north of my building, these were in a narrow piece of bottom land along a stream, to the west. I go down there now and then but much of the time it’s too we to walk through. With the heat we’ve been having I expected it to be dry but no such luck. It was mostly a boggy mess. These were just up hill from that and are probably the remains of a deer that was struck by a car but not killed immediately. It managed to get into the woods before succumbing to its injuries. Of course, that’s only conjecture. But there are the bones, regardless.
In yesterday’s post I talked about going in the woods to the west of my office and that there is a boggy area. There is also a very old road bed that runs through the woods and at the south end of that, just before you reach the stream that runs betweem my building and the rest of the campus, there is a small, shallow pond. It is silting up but there is still a foot or two of water in it much of the time. It rained quite hard last nught so the water was high today (including in the creek, which I had a hard time crossing). I found a reasonably dry place to sit and took pictures of dragonflies for about half an hour. This is a Blue Dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis (thanks, Brady, for the identification, these dragonflies are too much for me), and a handsome thing he is, too.
We went to the now-annual family reunion on the way to the beach today and it was great to see family. We don’t have the biggest family to arrange reunions. We all know someone who belongs to a family where hundreds gather for a weekend or week-long celebration. But I wouldn’t trade my family for any other. These are the descendants of Fernando and Anna, who had five children who lived into adulthood and had families of their own. None of those siblings are still living and of their eleven children, we are down to five, with George leaving us in January. At these reunions, we generally take pictures (I know that will shock you) and if we get nothing else, a picture of the remaining first cousins is a must. Here they are in order from oldest to youngest (left to right), Dot, Mary Ellen, Ann, LaClaire, and Glenn. Of course there were also pictures of the second, third, and even fourth cousins. I’m a “second.”
We arrived at Ocean Isle Beach at about 11:15 last night. We stopped for our family reunion and were there for a much-too-short three and a half hours. After that we had an uneventful drive the rest of the way down. We unpacked, made a quick trip to the supermarket for some groceries, and then went to bed, tired but happy to be here. This is what greeted us when we woke up this morning. Sea oats (Uniola paniculata) growing on the dunes with the waves crashing beyond. Naturally there were more people on the beach a little later in the day, but each morning I enjoy looking out at the mostly deserted beach with waves coming in, never stopping, as they have done for centuries.