Due to a workstation crash (from which I’m still recovering backed up data) I’m a week behind in posting here. This is the psot from last Thursday, September 1. It was a beautiful day and finally has cooled off considerably. The high today was in the mid 80s and it was wonderful. After work, Cathy and I took a walk in the woods near Lake Frank. I didn’t get a lot of pictures, but by the abandoned parking lot overlooking the lake, there were lots of thistles blooming. I like this picture and like it all the more for the moth that I didn’t see while I was taking the picture. It is an ailanthus webworm moth (Atteva aurea), and even out of focus as it is, it is quite distinctive with its pattern of orange, black, and white.
Monthly Archives: September 2016
We don’t have a membership at our local swimming pool and this isn’t the pool in our neighborhood, in any case. Our church is moving to a new location and some friends who happen to live in the area of that new site decided to have a party at their pool and invite their friends and neighbors. Because they wanted to spend the evening visiting with their guests, they asked me if I’d cook for them and I was happy to do so. I still got to visit some, once the bulk of the cooking was done, and of course I took a few pictures.
In addition to this one of the sunset colored sky, reflecting in the pool, I got quite a few of kids blowing bubbles and also playing with glowsticks. It was a very pleasant evening, not too hot and not terribly humid. In fact, a perfect fall evening. Of course, we’ll have a return of summer next week but hopefully it won’t be too long before we get into autumnal mode, weather-wise.
Thanks to Tammy, Joe, Joan, Victor, and Sally for putting on a nice evening and thanks also for letting me be there, even though I live in a different part of town.
As I mentioned in the post from Thursday, my main workstation at home crashed. Parts of it are still usable and I may turn it into a Window-only scanning workstation. But for now, I need to get Linux up and running and restore the files on the drive that was lost (a 3TB drive with pictures up through 2011). This is the new computer, pre-assembly. In the past I’ve bought the smallest case that will hold everything I need. This time, I decided to take a different approach. The case is huge. But it made assembly so much easier. I got an AMD FX processor with 8 cores, 16GB of RAM (which may be upped to 32GB at some point), a 120GB SSD for the boot drive and two 5TB hard drives for data (I may need a third soon, but there’s plenty of room in this case). I also have a GeForce GTX 760 graphics card. It will be powered by a 600 watt power supply. An hour and a half later, all the parts were in the case and I was ready to start the process of installing CentOS 7, an upgrade from 6, which I’m sure will cause some pain along the way, but I do have some experience with 7 already, so I should survive.
Today was a significant day in the life of our young church (Cross Community Church / http://www.cross-community.org/). For the last 20 months, we’ve been meeting at First Baptist of Rockville, for 8 months in a room downstairs and then for a year in the sanctuary, always in the afternoon. We are and will always be grateful for their generosity to us but it was time for us to move to a morning church service and to do that, we needed to be somewhere else (they wanted to continue using their sanctuary in the mornings for their own service, which I suppose it reasonable). Starting this morning we had our first 11:00 AM service at the Rockville Senior Center (1150 Carnation Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850 / 39° 06′ 00″ N, 77° 10′ 36″ W).
This is the same sort of spider I photographed just over two weeks ago (see Saturday, August 20, 2016) and may, for all I know, be the same exact spider. I was out this morning, not having to be at work because it’s Labor Day, and I saw her with the sun shining on her brightly. I got down on the dewy ground and set up my camera on a bean bag, fitted with the 100mm macro and a 25mm extension tube so I could get nice and close. This was taken at f/11.3 for 1/13 second and it isn’t quite as sharp as I’d like, but it’s not bad. This is one of the prettier spiders around and one I haven’t seen before a couple weeks ago.
I took a few pictures in the yard this evening and figured one of them would have to suffice for the day’s picture. Then later in the evening, as I was leaving the church office after meeting with the guys I saw this Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) on my car door. So, I grabbed my camera (most people carry their camera with them all the time, right?) and fitted the flash so I could take some mantid portraits. I got some that show the entire insect but I particularly like this one, which clearly shows the three occeli (simple eyes) in the center of the head, along with the two compound eye that we normally associate with insects.
A few years ago, Cathy had a pot with begonias in it, sitting on the corner of our front walk, just outside our front door. Now, the pot and its begonia are long gone, but the plant lives on, having moved itself out of the pot and into the ground around our front porch. It’s quite healthy and happy, with small, pink flowers and bright green leaves. I love both the texture and the shape of the leaves, as well as their color, which I think I mentioned is bright green. This spot seems perfectly suited to the plant, just the right amount of sun, protection, and the occasional watering, both natural and manual.
For a little over a year our family has been having what we call Thursday Night Dinner (TND). It was initially ever week for a while but life gets busy and now it’s now and then, when people are available. This evening there were seven of us, Tsai-Hong, Ralph, Dot, Seth, Steve, Cathy, and me (not in the picture, because I was behind the camera, as I prefer). We had talked about going to a Thai restaurant. There is an Ethiopian restaurant next door and we figured we’d go to both on different weeks. Iris suggested we do Ethiopian tonight because she’s not fond of it and she couldn’t come tonight. She wants to go the Thai restaurant, when the times comes.
We had samplers with all sorts of dishes, ranging from mild to somewhat spicy. None of it was terribly hot. The best flavour, I think, was in two beef dishes. The first of those is kitfo, which their menu describes as “Ethiopian style steak tartar, seasoned to a rich flavor with our special blend of spices, spiced butter and mit’mit’a.” They will sear it for you, but we decided to go for the original.
The second that I really liked was tibs fitfit. “Tender beef cubes sautéed with onion, tomatoes, awaze and jalapeño mixed with injera.”
Actually, all of it was good and I ate more than I should have. Even so there was a lot left over.
I’m anything but a fan of Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) in terms of its growth in our garden. That’s not, however, to say that it cannot be quite beautiful. I just wish it would be beautiful somewhere else. Its flowers are not nearly as showy as bull thistle (C. vulgare) and it’s quite hard to eradicate from a garden, once it’s gotten a hold there (which it does with relative ease). We pull a huge number of these every year and every year there seem to be more than the year before. There was a small pile of pulled thistle in the grass and I decided the seeds with their fluffy tufts of thistledown would be good for a picture or two. This is my favorite, not so much of the seeds and thistledown, but of the remains of the flowerhead and related structure. I think it’s quite lovely. Now get off my lawn!
I was out looking for things to photograph today and happened to see a small, pink moth. It was only about 9mm long and I managed to get some reasonable pictures of it. I believe it’s a Pyrausta inornatalis, although the literature doesn’t mention it being here in Maryland. I’ve posted a picture to BugGuide to check my identification. In the meantime, here’s one I can identify. While I was down on the ground photographing the moth, I noticed this little beetle. it’s about the same length as the moth, under 10mm in length (not counting its antenae) but quite brightly colored. As the title of this post says, this is a spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata). This is a major pest of many field crops including cucumbers and other squashes, corn, and soy.
After a hot week and an absolutely boiling day yesterday, today was wonderful. It made it up into the low to mid 80s and although my ideal outdoor temperature is more like 68°F, compared to nearly 100°F it felt cool by comparison. Cathy and I went out in the afternoon and had a nice walk in the woods. I found a few interesting things to photograph, including some flowers and a few different insects. This is a yellow-collared scape moth and it quite a pretty little thing, especially when seen against the bright yellow flowers of yellow ironweed (a.k.a. wingstem, Verbesina alternifolia).
Here’s another in my dead insect series, taken on the window sill of my office with the white balance then corrected to offset the blue cast given by the northern exposure of my window. This is an annual cicada, not one of the 13- or 17-year species. The most obvious distinction is that the periodical cicadas have bright red eyes. That eliminated about 5 species and leaves about 165 annual species (some of which actually spend two or three years in the larval stage). Anyway, I don’t know which of those this is and I’m unlikely to find out. I found it in the parking lot of my office when I got to work and I brought it in for a portrait.
I was heading home from downtown Rockville this evening and the only pictures I had taken were not worth much, so I thought I’d drive through and see if anything worth photographing was going on at the Town Square Plaza. There were quite a few people about but nothing obvious to photograph. Also, I didn’t find an easy parking space, so I kept going. I came back around and down Maryland Avenue and then turned left on E. Middle Lane, figuring I’d head home and find something else to photograph. While sitting at the light to cross Hungerford Drive I pulled out my camera and took a few pictures of this globe, a piece of public art, at the northwest corner of Hungerford and E. Middle. It is the work of Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock and was installed just over a year ago. My understanding is that there is a button you can push that will change the color of the light.
I’ve been meaning for some time to find the grave marker for Walter Johnson and today I actually stopped and found it. I’ve known for a while that he was buried in Rockville Cemetery and I’ve often thought of stopping as I drove by. Today I stopped. There are three markers, the large stone marked Johnson and the two headstones for Walter Johnson (November 6, 1887 – December 10, 1946) and Hazel Johnson, who was only 36 years old when she died of heatstroke on August 1st, 1930. The larger stone has baseballs and other baseball related items left on it, presumably by admirers.
As I was about to leave for work this morning I noticed this moth by the front door. I picked up my camera and took a dozen or so pictures before shooing it out the door and then leaving myself. It is an armyworm moth (Mythimna unipuncta) and I suspect I probably should have squashed it instead of letting it loose, but them’s the breaks, as they say. It’s a mid-sized moth, about 2cm long and looking at it up close it seems to be quite hairy. Note that the ‘hair’ on moths is really the same as the tiny scales on butterfly wings, only larger and more hair like. In both cases, the scales are made of chitin, which (to quote from Wikipedia), “is a long-chain polymer of an N-acetylglucosamine, a derivative of glucose, and is found in many places throughout the natural world. It is a characteristic component of the cell walls of fungi, the exoskeletons of arthropods such as crustaceans (e.g., crabs, lobsters and shrimps) and insects, the radulae of molluscs, and the beaks and internal shells of cephalopods, including squid and octopuses and on the scales and other soft tissues of fish and lissamphibians.”
Cathy and I were out in the back yard after work this evening. She noticed a dead cabbage white on the patio and I took a few pictures of that. They are hard to get close enough to when they are alive but they aren’t as interesting when dead, of course. Then I was lying in the grass and we were chatting as she pulled weeds when I noticed this cricket. I had my 100mm macro lens and a 25mm extension tube, along with a bean bag to set my camera on. I managed to get pretty close. At first I was only able to get the little fellow on the other side of a blade of grass but then he moved around and was looking at me. I’m fairly pleased with the results. I don’t know which of the many species of true crickets (family Gryllidae) this is, but I think it’s most likely a field cricket (subfamily Gryllinae).
I’m posting two pictures from today. After I got that picture of the cricket in the grass, Cathy and I went to the Rio for a while. We walked twice around the lake, hoping to get a good sunset picture. The sky kept promising color in the clouds but it never really materialized. But the buildings and the reflection in the lake made a pretty nice picture, so I’m giving you that. This is an HDR image made from three individual exposures made right together, one under exposed (which supplies detail in the highlights), one properly exposed, and one over exposed (which supplies detail in the shadows). I think it turned out rather well.
Don’t be alarmed. Although there isn’t anything to give you a sense of scale, I assure you that this is a tiny little spider, less than one centimeter in length. It’s pretty ferocious looking but it’s not going to attack you. There are a lot of spiders and even among the jumping spiders (Family Salticidae) there are a lot this could be. My suspicion is Platycryptus undatus but I’m no expert. I’ll report back here if someone from BugGuide.net can nail it down. As you might have guessed, the red background is the fender of our car. This was taken with the 100mm macro and 25mm extension tube, focused nearly all the way in.
After church today we went to a surprise birthday party for Cathy’s mom. Her birthday isn’t until later this week, but weekends are generally better for these sorts of things. Turning 90 is a pretty big deal, and it was nice to have so many friends gathered together to honor her. Of course this was only a small gathering when you consider how many people she knows (and how many people know and lover her). This was put on by the missions team from Fourth Church and it was a lovely time. I took a bunch of pictures showing most of the people who were there but I think this is the best, of Carol, Margaret (a.k.a. the Birthday Girl), and Davin.
Just a few days ago my mom, her friend, Donna, and I were talking. Donna said that while she appreciated the photos I’ve been posting lately, would it be too much trouble to post more sunset pictures. The insects and spiders were starting to give her the willies (I’m not quoting her, but that was the general feeling of her comments). Well, here you are, Donna. I was happy to have this sunset given to me less than a week after our conversation and I’m also happy to share it with all of you. We will now return to our standard, creepy-crawly photographs tomorrow.
These dried rosebuds are in a mug on a shelf in our family room. As you can see, they are a little dusty. Rosebuds are not the easiest thing in the world to dust, of course, and add to that our slightly slovenly lifestyle (we are not overly fastidious in terms of dust here and there, I must admit) and you’ll understand that they have been mostly untouched for a significant period. In fact, neither Cathy nor I know what occasion they commemorate. We both assume it was a wedding anniversary, but beyond that, we don’t know. We’ve had 32 of them, and off the top of my head I know where we were for a few of them. I know that on our 10th I got Cathy ten dozen roses, but I’m pretty sure these are not from that year. I don’t suppose it really matters.
One nice thing about being involved in a new church is that it’s forcing us to meet lots of new people. This is a family we’ve started to get to know. On the left are Victor’s parents, Gamal and Monira, then Sally’s mother, Sue. To the right of them (their left) is Sarah in the back and Daniel in front, Sally, Victor behind her, and Vera on the end. Of course, there are upsides and downsides to many things in life. Being heavily involved in this church has been really good but it’s meant that we’ve seen some good friends a lot less, much less than I’d like. Hopefully we can remedy that, at least a little.
I know I already posted a picture in honor of Margaret’s 90th birthday but I think one more is in order. Today is her actual birthday, so Cathy and I picked her up and took her to dinner, along with long-time friend Ron. Before we left, I took a few pictures of Cathy and Margaret with the balloons and flowers she’s been given. You only turn 90 once and while that’s generally true of all birthdays, 90 seems like a big deal and worth celebrating.
We went to Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge and had a really nice dinner. I believe there is only one 90th birthday celebration yet to be held and that’s the family party, which was put off a little because of travel plans for all the participants. I suspect there will be another picture here when that time comes.
This pepper has been sitting in our kitchen and started to dry out. I threw a few other away but kept this one to let it dry a little more and today I took a few pictures of it. I don’t really have a lot to say other than that. It’s red, it’s got texture, and it’s shiny. Actually, it’s not terribly dry yet and after I took the picture, I threw the pepper away. In any case, here you are. It’s enough to keep my streak alive. Only four more days until I reach 2,100.
In addition to quite a few photos of the ailanthus webworm moth (Atteva aurea) I’ve already posted (I posted them in the wrong order, but they are sorted by date and time taken, so this one shows up first, the other is here: Saturday, September 24, 2016 ), I saw this little grasshopper and managed to get a few good pictures. It is very well camouflaged and extremely difficult to see when it isn’t moving or if you haven’t kept good track of where it landed. This is one of the many short-horned grasshoppers (Family Acrididae) and is quite interesting to look at. I was also able to get a few shots in profile, which also turned out nicely. You have to get down in the grass more if you want to see these things, and seeing them is its own reward.
It was a beautiful fall day today and I went up to the farm with Ralph, Tsai-Hong, Iris, and Seth. We had a great time just hanging out and enjoying the cool day and a nice fire where we cooked lunch. I took some pictures, of course, and this is one of them. Actually, when I saw the goldenrod (Solidago sp.) and noticed lots of small creatures on the flowers, I assumed they would be goldenrod soldier beetles (goldenrod soldier beetle). They were not. There were dozens of these pretty little moths, the ailanthus webworm (Atteva aurea).
Here’s one more picture from out trip to Pennsylvania. As I mentioned, Ralph, Tsai-Hong, Iris, and Seth came as well. I took this picture of Seth and Iris as we sat around the fire talking in the middle of the afternoon. I believe this is the first time they have been up since the wedding and it was good to see that the tree they planted seems to be doing very well.
When we first got there a largish tree was down across the road. That’s the source of the logs behind Seth and Iris, so we have a little fire wood. I’ll bring a sledge and wedge next time and split some. We took a walk to the orchard, which is quite overgrown. We managed to find a few almost ripe hardy kiwi and a few pawpaws and there were lots of autumn olive fruits (Elaeagnus). Clearing that out again will be a big job and probably calls for heavy duty equipment.
We have weeds in our yard and garden. Boy do we ever. This is nothing new, of course, it’s been going on since God said to Adam, “cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.” (Gen. 3:17b-18) So, in keeping with the curse, we have both thorns and thistles. We also have pokeweed, bindweed, wild violets, and all sorts of weed grasses. Just because a plant is a weed, that doesn’t mean it cannot be beautiful, of course, and I think this seed head from one of the grasses in our garden is quite lovely. It still needs to be pulled up, but it’s lovely.
Cathy and I went to WCA this evening for the fall Society meeting. I got there a little early, which gave me some time to walk around and take a few pictures. It was a bit dark and unfortunately there wasn’t enough wind to get really good pictures of the flags flying out front, but that didn’t stop me from trying. On the far left is the Washington Christian Academy flag. Then we have the United States flag, which I’m guessing most people recognize. The Bethel World Outreach flag is next, followed by Uganda (with red, yellow and black stripes), Mexico (green, white, and red, just like Italy, but with a seal in the white section), and Sri Lanka (green and orange bars and then a yellow lion on a red field, with the lion holding a sword). To the left and not in this picture are flags from Puerto Rico, Grenada, and Zimbabwe.
The obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) is finally in bloom in our back yard. I feel like it’s bloomed a lot earlier in previous years but I don’t really know. This is mostly a new location for it, so maybe it will bloom earlier there once it is established. I went out to get some pictures of it late this afternoon, although the light wasn’t all that good. I managed to get this picture of a common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) on it, which I think is nice.
We’re in the days of plastic containers and I’m not sure it’s a good thing. It certainly is a less aesthetic time in our history. This is a metal can of Liquid Wrench®, otherwise known as a brand of penetrating oil. This can came from my dad’s workshop and it’s possible that before that it came from my grandfather’s. This isn’t something you go through quickly but it’s a great thing to have around. I’ve ordered another 4 ounce bottle but of course it’s plastic and not nearly so attractive. It’s basically the same, though, although the new bottle says ‘improved formula’ and it doesn’t say deodorized. But, It Melts The Rust Away!
I know I shouldn’t do this two days in a row, but today I have another example of older packaging. Yesterday is was penetrating oil, today it’s Coleman’s Mustard. On the right is the old, metal container for this powdered mustard. On the left is a new container. In this case, the new container is also made of metal, except for the lid, which is plastic instead of the elliptical metal lid on the old tin. This is the back of the old tin. The front looks basically the same as the new one. On the new tin, the front and back are much more similar to each other, with the red lettering on both sides, although it still has the cow on the back.
This time of the year the spiders are quite think in the lawn and garden around our house. I’m not sure why we only see them this time of year but in the morning when there is dew on the ground we look out and see their webs all over. There must be three or four dozen of them in our backyard alone. This picture is looking down on the spider from directly overhead as she stood on her bejeweled web out in the grass in our backyard. This was in the evening, as the day cooled and the webs began to collect water droplets for the night.