Cathy and I were at her mom’s house and I was looking for things to photograph among her various objet d’art. I’ve always liked this little metal parrot figurine and thought it would make a nice picture. It was sitting in front of a light colored plate but I moved it to get a better background. Anyone who has spent more than a little time with parrots will recognize this stance and expression. They are often curious birds with a great deal of personality. Of course, Solomon is more timid than curious, but that may say as much about us as about him.
Monthly Archives: November 2016
I was in a different neighborhood this evening and went into an shopping center I don’t usually visit. On the way in a saw these little flowers and when I was done shopping I took the time to get some pictures. The bright red leaves with beautiful, blue flowers were quite striking. Cathy recognized it as plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides), which is a perennial hardy to USDA zone 6. I know I’ve seen it before but don’t remember seeing the fall color, which is reason enough to get some a sunny spot in the garden.
I hope you aren’t getting tired of fall color. It was slow to get started, as I suspect we think every year, meaning it was about normal. But we are in the midst of great beauty. This is the view from my office window. Actually, this was taken from the conference room next to my office, but it’s basically the same view. This isn’t the best example of autumnal glory to be found, but it’s what I have easily available. All too soon it will be gone and we’ll be left with skeletons.
The walnuts are falling in great numbers from the many black walnut trees (Juglans nigra) around my office building. I suppose it would be strange if they were falling from anywhere else. The ground under them is covered quite densely, in some places the ground is almost entirely covered with walnuts varying in color from bright chartreuse in the newly fallen fruit to almost black in those that have been on the ground a little while. There are a couple picnic tables along the edge of the woods and the squirrels seem to enjoy using those for their walnut meals. I did move these closer together but they were on the table, along with a bunch of smaller pieces.
I’ve had the privilege to know these two just about as long as they’ve known each other. It’s been so exciting watching them fall in love and today Cathy and I were fortunate enough to be allowed to witness their marriage and the beginning of their life together. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see them get to this point. The ceremony was nearly as beautiful as Joanna and I’m happy to say it didn’t go off without a hitch (i.e. they got hitched).
She certainly picked a good Juan and won’t have to tell stories about the Juan that got away. (I know, and I’d like to say that I’m sorry, but I’m not.)
I was (thankfully) not the official photographer but I was able to get a good seat on the aisle so was able to get a few pictures of them walking both in separately and then out as husband and wife. I’m sure the official photographer got a lot more and better pictures than I did, but I wanted to share this with Juanna, Juan, their families, and the rest of my followers (both of you).
I generally only post one picture a day or if I post more than one from a single event or location, I combine them into a single post. This event rates a bit more, so I’m posting this separately. The wedding of Juanna and Juan was an entirely outdoor event. If you’ve ever planned an outdoor wedding, you know how nervous it makes you as the day approaches and the weather is uncertain. Planning an outdoor wedding in November is really a risk. Nevertheless, the day was about as beautiful as you could ever expect to get in early November. It was warm (in the sun), perfectly clear, with no wind. The perfect setting for the marriage of this lovely couple. There may be cloudy days on occasion in the future but at least they started out on what was arguably the most beautiful day of the year.
At the other end of our neighborhood is a yard with a few absolutely beautiful Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) and every fall I look forward to seeing them. This is often the more ‘plain’ of the two most prominent trees but at this point in the fall, it’s the more spectacular of the two. The other is not a pure a red but is more mixed with reds and oranges throughout. As I drove past this afternoon, I stopped, grabbed my camera, and took a few pictures from my car. It’s possibly not as good a picture as I could have gotten, but it does show the bright color of the tree. I’m really enjoying the autumn and it’s going to be done all too soon.
This is an abacus that has been made into a lamp and is in the living room at Cathy’s mom’s house. There isn’t a lot to say about this particular abacus, but as I was deciding which pictures to post for today, I remembered a short video I saw once about doing mental math by visualizing an abacus. I can’t find the video that I saw (I didn’t try all that hard) but basically, kids were shown a series of long numbers (6, 8, and 10 digits long) and they added them up in their heads. The numbers were flashed on a screen and it went so fast I barely had time to read the numbers and certainly not enough time to actually do anything with them. But these kids were able to add them up accurately in their heads. It was quite remarkable. Apparently, learning to do math with an abacus then allows you to do the same thing only without the actual abacus. Subtraction, multiplication, and division are also done on an abacus, both physically and mentally. I wonder if it’s too late for me to learn to do that.
After voting today, I drove back to the office by way of Lake Needwood. The trees are a little past peak, I’d say (boy, that was fast) but are still quite beautiful. Also, the little bits of cloud contributed to the variety of colors. I’ll probably have a few more fall-color pictures for you, but it won’t be long until they are replaced by branches, dried leaves, and wintry scenes. While all the seasons have something to recommend them, for me, autumn is the prettiest, followed by Spring. But spring is followed by summer, which means heat, and I’m less fond of that than cold. I’m looking forward to the winter.
Fleurette mums are a group of Chrysanthemum hybrids made between a domestic and a wild, Asiatic Chrysanthemum. They tend to be a more compact and are (like most mums) quite easy to care for and have flowers that last a good, long while. These are technically my mum-in-law’s mum, but that wouldn’t have been as good in the title. These are in a small pot on her kitchen table and are quite cheerful.
No, this isn’t really called Zelkova Lane, but at least for this stretch of Norbeck, I think it could be. Zelkova serrata, the Japanese zelkova, is a really nice tree and should be grown more. As you can see, they turn a beautiful rust color in the fall. I’m not sure it’s the perfect tree for roadway medians like this, but then, few trees do well past a certain size when their root zones are so limited. These are just getting to that size where their roots cannot support any more upstairs and they are starting to die. Those on the side of the road are doing a lot better, though, and should have quite a few more years in them.
A short drive (or long walk) from where I work are three connected buildings with great, reflective glass sides. They used to be the office and labs of Human Genome Sciences but they are now identified as GSK, which (a little digging proved) stands for Glaxo-Smith-Kline (although they insist on it being one word). According to Wikipedia, GSK is “a British pharmaceutical company headquartered in Brentford, London. Established in 2000 by a merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, GSK was the world’s sixth largest pharmaceutical company as of 2015.” But I’m here for the reflections.
An interesting thing happened on the way to the river today. We had thought about parking near Old Angler’s Inn but the parking area was jammed, so we went to the main Great Falls entrance and parked there. We left the car and headed towards the visitor center and then the river when a woman called Cathy’s name. Actually, she just said “Cath!” It was a friend of Cathy’s from high school and her husband. That in itself would have been surprising and of course it was. It was also lovely to see them since it had been probably fifteen years since we’ve seen each other.
But what was more surprising was that they were in the company of an elf. I’m afraid I don’t remember her name but she was nice enough to allow me to take her picture. It isn’t everyday that I get to photograph an elf. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever done so before. She looks young but of course, as we all know, elves live a considerable time so she could easily be quite old, as we humans measure time.
It was another beautiful, fall day today and Cathy and I took a walk in the neighborhood. I took some pictures of trees with flaming red and orange leaves but I’ve decided to post this picture of a pretty good sized paper wasp nest instead. Trees with brightly colored leaves are pretty much everywhere now (although many have lost all their leaves) but wasp nests are not so common. This one is about 20 feet up in a tree a few blocks from our house. You might be glad to know that most paper wasps die during the winter. Obviously not all. Most notably the new queens survive the winter by nesting in protected places.
I was taking pictures around the house this evening, looking around for interesting shapes and patterns. I took some of a patch on the shoulder of a jacket, some of etched metal and a couple of a photograph of Cathy’s mom taken back in the day. I also took a few of Cathy and this one I like best of them all. It’s not a huge smile but it’s a familiar look. I suppose I could have waited until her birthday, which is coming up, to post her picture. On the other hand, there’s never really a bad time to take and post her picture.
This photo was taken on Monday (which is why it’s dated on Monday) but I’m actually writing this on Friday. It’s been a busy week for her with a software conference from Monday through Thursday at the Gaylord National. Lots of good information but fairly tiring. She took her first rides in Uber the first three days and then drove herself yesterday (Thursday).
Because it gets dark about the time I leave work, if I’m going to take pictures outdoors I have to go out during the day. It’s actually a good thing, because it breaks up my day and gets me out of my chair. It isn’t exactly vigorous exercise but at least I’m moving about. Today I went out shortly after noon and went along the edge of the woods. I took some pictures of bright red oak leaves and then saw these teasels (Dipsacus Sp.) growing on the bank sloping down from the road. I especially like the curly bits, which I think add a bit of whimsy to the spiny bracts.
According to Wikipedia, the species Dipsacus includes about 15 species native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa. They are considered an invasive species here, although I think in the scheme of invasive species, they are not as noxious as some others I can think of. This is most likely Dipsacus fullonum, the common of fullers teasel.
It’s funny, but when I’m going through pictures to post here, I have a fairly strong and only marginally conscious bias towards horizontally oriented photographs. I think (actually, I know) it’s because I feel like I have to fill this space next to the photo with text and a vertical photo takes considerably more work to fill. This photo is the third vertically oriented photo in a row, and the fourth out of the last five. So, what can I write?
This crock, or whatever you call it, was given to us as a wedding present. That’s me on the left and Cathy on the right. Since then, I’ve used it to hold mostly wooden spoons and a few other kitchen utensils. It generally sits back against the wall but I pulled it out for this photograph. Also, I clearly didn’t arrange the rest of the counter for this shot, as you can see a cup with plastic forks and spoons behind it to the right. On the left is the smaller of my two mortar and pestles (or is it mortars and pestles?). I use wooden spoons a lot when cooking. Also, the flat, wooden utensil and the orange silicone spatula get quite a bit of use.
Oriental or Asiatic bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus, is an invasive species in our area. There’s a fair amount of it about, climbing up into trees. This vine is growing into a small tree on the other side of the woods from my office. It gets full afternoon sun and it’s quite happy there. Of course, multiflora roses (Rosa multiflora), Japanese and Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica and L. maackii), porcelain-berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), mile-a-minute vine (Persicaria perfoliata), and tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) to name only a few, are also in profusion through the area, so a little bittersweet is the least of our problems. It’s also quite pretty.
The fall color continues to fade, but there are still some good instances here and there. The Bradford pears are notable for their fall color and in this picture I think you can see why. The Bradford pear is a cultivar of Pyrus calleryana, native to China and Vietnam. When they were beginning to be used, they were the only pear variety around so they didn’t set fruit but now there is enough variation in them that they pretty much all do. They do make a good show but I wouldn’t really recommend them in most situations. There are much better choices, anyway.
Today was the annual Christmas Bazaar at Washington Christian Academy and Cathy and I spent a good while there, mostly visiting with people we don’t see as often, now that Dorothy has graduated and been gone from the school for more than two years. Of course we enjoyed our annual oliebollen. These, if you are not familiar with this Dutch treat, are deep fat fried dough balls coated with sugar. I prefer the granulated sugar variety (pictured here) and Cathy goes for powdered sugar. They are generally available with or without raisins but the without variety had sold out by the time I bought ours. I prefer with, anyway.
In 2014 I posted a picture of Cathy with two Operation Christmas Child boxes, delivering them at the collection center. Then last year, the picture was of Cathy with six packed boxes, ready to take them out to the car. This year, we’re a little earlier in the process. In this picture, Cathy has laid out all the things she plans to get into six shoe-box sized plastic boxes. If you think it unlikely she’ll be able to get it all in, fear not, it was done (with a little expert advice from yours truly). They were delivered the next day (tomorrow when I took the picture, last week when I’m writing this). Has Cathy mentioned that she likes Operation Christmas Child? Well, she does.
I went for a short walk today, going through the woods and across the street to a small pond and back. I took some pictures of grass seeds and then stopped when I saw the light shining through this sycamore leaf. I love the bright yellow of the leaf and the dark brown of the veins. Sycamores are not really known for their spectacular fall color as their leaves often are brown by the time they fall but the leaves do often pass though yellow on their way to brown, as you can see.
I picked up David and Darius this afternoon and the Thanksgiving (and birthday) festivities have begun. This was taken while David went to the airport to pick up Jim and Hannah. Dorothy and Abba were on their way from New England. William would come down tomorrow morning. So, it’s still relatively quiet. Cathy, as you can see, is making some animal sound (although it looks more like a “moo” than a roar, but I don’t know) while reading The Three Happy Lions to Darius.
Dorothy came home for Thanksgiving, arriving at about 2:30 this morning. We only saw her for a moment before she and Abba, who came with her, went to bed. Today we spent much of the day at her grandma’s house (Cathy’s mom’s) but Dorothy, Cathy, and I went out to run a few errands in the afternoon. Among other things, we went to Plaza to buy Dorothy some art supplies. While she was shopping, I took a few pictures, mostly of colors. I got some of oil paints, colored paper, and color pencils, as well as a few of these shelves of pastel sticks.
I love a good forest. I guess I’m particularly partial to temperate hardwood forests because that’s what I know best, although the southeast Alaska’s rain forest is pretty amazing, too. But we don’t have to look far to find small pockets of forest, even in our almost entirely suburban county. As the crow flies, this is about two thirds of a mile from our house. It’s not actually a deep, dark forest, certainly not a Mirkwood of Fangorn but it’s at the very least a ‘wood.’ I love the color of beech leaves in winter, particular in contrast to the pale grey of their bark.
It’s been way too long since we saw this young woman. Actually, the last time we saw her, she was a girl of only about 8. She’s grown up a lot since then and it was so good to have her visit for Thanksgiving, along with her dad and sister, both of whom we’ve seen a bit more recently. It was a really nice to get to know her a bit and I think we’ll put more effort into getting together again befor too long.
After a busy Thanksgiving yesterday we went to Great Falls today. While I took a few pictures of the river, it was more an occasion for photos of Hannah, Abba, and Darius. I really like this one of Hannah. She has an amazing smile, also, but it’s more common, when the camera is pointed at her, that she makes a silly face.
We also saw a great blue heron in the process of killing a black snake. It would stab the snake with its beak and picking it up. The snake would coil around the beak and the heron would drop it and the process would start over.
After the three day birthday, Thanksgiving, family reunion with Cathy’s family, we got together with my family today for our fourth day of celebration. I cannot express how thankful I am for both of my families and it’s nice to be given a day off (and to take two more) specifically to express our thankfulness. I’m thankful for more than family, of course, but that’s certainly high on the list.
Dorothy, sadly, left to drive back to school and wasn’t able to spend the day with us. It was good to see her and she’ll be back in just a few weeks for the Christmas break. As usual, I took pictures of everyone as we sat in the living room and visited, with the usual range of discussion topics customary with the my family (we tend towards the geeky end of things, I have to admit). In addition to some family pictures, I particularly like this one of Ralph and Iris. It just works.
It’s a small and fledgling youth group, I admit, but this is at a small and fledgling church, so perhaps that’s appropriate. This is one of a bunch of pictures I took to promote our youth group. We cannot offer crowds and huge events. But we can offer something a little more individual. Our ministry goals are really the same as for Cross Community church: to share the gospel, love the city, and build community, all within the context of youth.
Most people are at least aware of nutmeg as a spice. It is the seed of Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree indigenous to the Moluccas (or Spice Islands) of Indonesia and grown throughout the tropics of Asia and South America. Like all herbs and spices, it’s an aromatic that loses it’s aroma over time so you don’t want to buy more than you will use in a relatively short time. With nutmeg, buying whole seeds and grating it as needed extends its useful life considerably. The seed on top here has been grated down, showing a cross section of the internal structure of the seed.
Back in the second year of my photo-a-day project I posted a picture of this duck on a bike. I’m not sure if it’s cheating to post an almost identical photo today but it was after 10:00 PM and I hadn’t taken any pictures today. I’m nearing the end of six years of taking at least one picture a day and I’d hate to drop the ball as I near that milestone. I reserve the right to stop at any time. A day may come when I don’t take a picture. But it is not this day.
This duck on a bike sits over our main computer in our family room. It’s missing one of the three rotor blades on its head and it has been stepped on at some point so it leans a bit. Because of those two factors, it doesn’t run very well, falling over quite easily. Still, it’s a happy thing to have. I mean, who doesn’t love a duck on a bike (even it it’s really a trike)?
It was a dreary, rainy day today but it wasn’t actually raining when I had to walk over to another building for a meeting. As I often do, I took my camera with me and took some pictures of crab apples on a tree between the parking lot and pond below my building. I love crab apples and in general would probably favor them over flowering cherries as ornamental trees. If nothing else, they provide two seasons of interest although many of them may be fairly susceptible to rust and black spot. If you are shopping for a crab apple, disease resistance my be the first thing you want to look into. In terms of fruit, smaller might be better unless you don’t mind them dropping onto your lawn. I am personally partial to yellow fruit, as seen here.