Monthly Archives: March 2017

Amaryllis Bud

Amaryllis Bud

Amaryllis Bud

I know I’ve already done amaryllis recently but I’m afraid it’s going to be a repeat of sorts today. The picture is different enough, fortunately. The one I posted two days ago was in full bloom. This is another that Cathy bought and planted at the same time, but it’s at least a week behind. It’s also six or eight inches taller. Finally, I think this one is solid red where the other was (and is) pink or red mixed with white.

Dad used to grow an amaryllis most years for Christmas so I associate them with dear old dad. That’s a good thing, of course, but it does have a tendency to make me a little melancholy from time to time. I guess that’s one side effect of getting older. When we are young, if we are fortunate (as I certainly was) we don’t have a lot of loss in our lives and things we consider terrible are usually relatively mild in retrospect. As we get older, it’s almost inevitable that we will have significant loss. I’m not sure if I deal with it in a good way or not, but I do it my way (as Paul Anka might say). Having things that remind me of the loss is, for me, part of how I deal with it. I don’t want to forget, even though it’s painful.

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Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

We actually had both a beautiful sunrise and a beautiful sunset today. The sunset was prettier than the sunrise but I was driving during the sunset and getting a picture was a bit difficult. I did take two while stopped in traffic on 270 but then traffic started moving again so I let it go and just enjoyed it. The sunrise was while I was home and it was a simple matter of walking out front to take a few pictures from the driveway. It wasn’t as colorful as some we’ve had but it was still pretty.

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Snow on Monarda

Snow on Monarda

Snow on Monarda

We had a light snowfall overnight. It wasn’t much and in most years would barely register as a snow at all. Nevertheless, it was the biggest snow we’ve had so far this winter. It melted on paved surfaces, so the roads were quite clear but it nearly covered the grass, with only a small amount of green showing through. I went out back and took some pictures of things with snow on them, including this Monarda didyma (scarlet bee balm) seed head near the back fence. By midday all the snow was gone. I don’t know if winter is over but with the exception of a few days in the single digits, back in December, this has been a very mild winter indeed.

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Four Generations

Steve, Kai, Ralph, and Dot

Steve, Kai, Ralph, and Dot

We got together for a family dinner this evening at Iris and Seth’s apartment. George and Carmela had talked about being there but in the end they couldn’t because they had important matters of a canine variety to take care of. Specifically, they were picking up their new, one-year-old dachshund, Chester. But it was a fun time visiting with family, enjoying a wonderfully prepared meal, and of course, passing the baby around. I don’t think everyone had a chance to hold him but most did. We also took a few pictures (really?) and I’m particularly glad we got this one of four generations, from oldest to youngest Dot, Ralph, Stephen, and Kaien.

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Toxonotus cornutus (a Fungus Weevil, Family Anthribidae)

Toxonotus cornutus (a Fungus Weevil, Family Anthribidae)

Toxonotus cornutus (a Fungus Weevil, Family Anthribidae)

Our dear friend Susan gave me a present this morning. It was beautifully presented in a hot pink gift bag. What was it? It was this insect which she wondered if I could identify. At a glance I said it was a beetle of some sort but beyond that I needed to look at it under some magnification. It’s between 5 and 6 millimeters long, so on the small side and my first thought was some sort of carpet beetle. Then I saw from the side that it had something of a snout. That led to the fungus weevils of family Anthribidae and I tracked it down to Toxonotus cornutus. Not particularly rare but so small that you are likely to miss it much of the time. Not a big pest, either, and happily nothing like a bed bug or other really nasty creature. Thanks, Susan. Now I really know you care.

P.S. The shiny metal thing under it is a pin on which the little creature is skewered.

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Pieris rapae (Cabbage White)

Pieris rapae (Cabbage White)

Pieris rapae (Cabbage White)

It was as pretty a spring day as you could hope for today, warm but not hot, mostly clear with a little breeze. Cathy and I went for a walk and I took my camera along. We walked to a pong that has a beaver lodge but didn’t see any activity. There was a pair of geese nearby and I got some pictures of them. Then as we left the area and headed back up towards the road I managed to get a few pictures of this cabbage butterfly that was flitting around looking for early flowers.

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Another Amaryllis

Another Amaryllis

Another Amaryllis

This is my third amaryllis photo in just over a week but I’m not going to apologize for it. These are really beautiful flowers and well deserving of the attention. The first of the three photos was of an amaryllis with mixed red and white flowers. The second was of the bud of this one, which has solid red blooms. I’m glad I got the pictures of this when I did because within 24 hours of taking them, the plant tipped over and the blossoms were smashed a bit. They still look good (those that are still attached) but it’s a little the worse for the fall.

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Check With Your Doctor

Check With Your Doctor

Check With Your Doctor

I picked up a prescription this afternoon on the way home. It’s one I’ve taken for a long while and I have to admit I don’t read everything on the bottle every time. After all, it doesn’t change much and I know how I react to it (which is not very much except for what it’s meant to do). I couldn’t swear that this notice has been on previous bottles, although I assume so. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to become pregnant, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

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Chionodoxa forbesii

Chionodoxa forbesii

Chionodoxa forbesii

The glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa forbesii) has started blooming. As the common name implies, it’s an early spring bloomer and it isn’t unusual for it to be up and blooming well before the threat of frost is past. We’ve been having quite mile weather lately although the forecast is saying cooler weather is coming shortly. In fact, there seems to be a possibility of significant snow early next week with the cold starting tomorrow. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the spring ephemerals.

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Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

It was a very wet day this morning and everything was dripping as I went to work. After taking my things out to the car I got my camera out and took some pictures of flowers in the rain. Mostly I took daffodils because they are really starting to bloom but then I noticed that one of our two cherry trees has started to bloom as well. It’s forecast to get cold as the rain tappers off later today and there is significant snow in the forecast early next week. We’ll see what that does to the flowers. The cherries in particularly won’t appreciate it.

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Begonia rex-cultorum

Begonia rex-cultorum

Begonia rex-cultorum

It got quite a bit colder after the rain we had yesterday and this morning it was quite chilly. We wanted to go out and because it’s felt like spring, we wanted to see some plants. That helped us decide to go to Johnson’s outside of Olney, where there is a greenhouse and both house plants and a few outdoor plants that it will be safe to put out soon. This is a Rex begonia, one of a great many cultivars developed specifically for their exotic leaf patterns. This one has a wonderful spiral that really caught my eye. The Rex begonias are only hardy in zones 10 to 12, so can’t be grown outdoors except in a container that comes in for the winter. They also need considerable humidity and indoors that’s a problem for those of us with forced air heating systems, which tend to dry the air in the house far too much. But it’s beautiful. If I ever had a greenhouse, this would be something I’d look at more seriously.

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Christy

Christy (and Andy)

Christy (and Andy)

She hates to have her picture taken and I doubt she’ll like this one any more than others I’ve taken over the years but this young woman has been a real blessing to our family and it was really nice to see her this morning. She and a friend came to help with music and worship at church this morning and I took a few pictures (yes, during church, it happens). I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as to say that Dorothy wouldn’t do any singing without the influence of Christy but I do think that influence was real and important. She pushed Dorothy well out of her comfort zone and it’s really paid dividends since. Even without that, Christy is a lovely young woman, sweet and loving to everyone she meets (at least as far as I know and I’d appreciate it if no one shows me otherwise). She also has a really pretty voice. Just sayin’.

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Vinca minor (Periwinkle)

Vinca minor (Periwinkle)

Vinca minor (Periwinkle)

The forecast for tonight is snow. The heaviest snow we’ve had so far this year didn’t even cover the grass completely, so this will be, assuming it lives up to the hype, considerably more than we’ve see so far. They have backed off from the forecasts of 10 to 15 inches and are now calling for 4 to 7 inches here. Central Pennsylvania and up to New York City are likely to get considerably more than us, with forecasts ranging from 15 to 24 inches. So, here’s one more picture of spring, before winter returns. It’s actually quite a bit colder already, but the precipitation should finish off most of the blossoms that have already opened. Hardy plants, like daffodils, will continue to bloom but I have a feeling many cherry trees are done for the year.

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A Late, Mild Snowstorm

Snow Storm

Snow Storm

The ‘huge’ snow storm that was forecast for the east coast really didn’t live up to its potential. Predicting these things isn’t easy and a few degrees of temperature can make all the difference. As it turned out, it was a few degrees warmer throughout the region and what was supposed to be 4 to 7 inches barely made it past 2. Further north, where they were expecting as much as two feet didn’t get more than a half a foot, I believe. This photo makes the storm look a lot more serious than it was. This is from our kitchen window, looking up into the trees in our neighbor’s yard, using a telephoto lens. Also, it didn’t snow this hard for very long. All in all, not really much to write home about.

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Lexi and Maria

Lexi and Maria

Lexi and Maria

This evening We met up with our good friend Jean and her two beautiful daughters, Lexi and Maria. We only live across the river from each other but getting together seems to get harder rather than easier. The evening rush hour is not the best time to cross the Potomac but we did and had a wonderful time chatting and laughing. Talk ranged from the serious to the silly, as it does when you’re with good friends. It’s hard to believe these two girls are so grown up, but it’s true. Sadly, Dorothy wasn’t able to be with us, but we’ll get together again when she’s home this summer.

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Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers

I did some grocery shopping this evening, picking up a few essentials as well as things I’ve been wanting. You know the drill, I’m sure. Anyway, I had my camera with me. Although I usually have my camera with me, I often don’t take it with me when I go to the grocery store (or any store, for that matter). When I’m outdoors, especially in the woods or even walking around the neighborhood, saying I’m have it to take pictures of what I find sounds perfectly reasonable. But in the store, what am I going to find? Well, I might find a bin full of wonderful, bright red, bell peppers. I don’t eat them myself. Bell peppers are one of a handful of things I’d prefer to avoid (but it’s sometimes hard). But I agree they are lovely to look at.

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Probably a Wolf Spider (Family Lycosidae)

Probably a Wolf Spider (Family Lycosidae)

Probably a Wolf Spider (Family Lycosidae)

It was a beautiful day today. It’s fairly warm and the snow is melting. I had a meeting across campus early this afternoon and on the way back I walked around my building and took a few pictures. The melting snow was raising the level of the pond next to my building and I walked down to it, over a thin layer of very soft, wet snow. This little spider was there, as well. I believe it is some sort of wolf spider (family Lycosidae) and will update the post if I figure out (or more likely am told) which one. I know spiders are not favorite subjects of many (or should I say either) of my followers. They come right ahead of deer ticks, I’d say. But they’re neat little things and I love to watch them. This is a small spider, not much more than one centimeter long including its legs.

UPDATE: Identified as being in the genus Pardosa, the thinlegged wolf spiders.

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Disk Harrow

Disk Harrow

Disk Harrow

It was a lovely day and Cathy and I went for a walk at the Montgomery County Agricultural Farm Park today. They have a garden that we often like to visit but it’s a bit early in the year for that to be of much interest. We walked around in the woods an near the former sites of the three Newman houses. There are some old farm machines lining a part of the road where we walked including this disk harrow and a chain harrow that looked like a giant version of one of those puzzles where you are supposed to separate two twisted pieces of metal.

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Senior Crossing

Senior Crossing

Senior Crossing

We were up in Baltimore this afternoon and as we were leaving, driving south on Broadway towards Fells Point, I took this picture while stopped at a traffic light. It’s a good thing this sign is illustrated, because at first I thought it was a crossing of many years, a venerable, old pedestrian crossing. The illustration, of course changes the sense of the phrase “senior crossing” to something very different, a crossing for seniors.

I’ve seen a lot of ‘crossing’ signs in my day, ranging from deer to armadillo and tractor to horse cart. I’ve seen signs for deaf child and even slow children (now that I think about it, “Slow Children” may be another where an illustration could change the meaning). This is the first Senior Crossing sign I’ve seen and I like the addition of the cane. I also like the way this senior’s head is floating above his shoulders. Like they do.

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Ripples

Ripples

Ripples

It was a beautiful day again today. Very spring-like. Cathy and I went for a walk early in the afternoon, simply walking around my building a few times. I took my camera with me, as I usually do on such outings, but only took a few pictures. This is the surface of the stream that flows between my building and the rest of the campus, below the small pond that was built a few years back. The plants are starting to show buds and a few things even have early leaves out but for the most part, it’s still late winter as far as the plants are concerned. There are some daffodils and a few crocuses blooming closer to the building.

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Blue Crab Sculpture

Blue Crab Sculpture, BWI Airport

Blue Crab Sculpture, BWI Airport

I went to BWI airport this afternoon to pick up Maggie, who was coming for a short visit during her spring break. As usual when I go to BWI, I bring my camera. It isn’t the most photogenic airport you’ll come across but it has some interesting spots. Of course most of the time I spend there is waiting around the baggage carousels, which is about the least interesting part of the whole place. Coming across the westernmost sky bridge from the top of the parking garage, which is the end of the terminal that Southwest uses, there is a large, stained glass, Atlantic blue crab sculpture in a case. It’s a bit tricky to get a picture of something like this and having it in a glass case certainly doesn’t help. It is what it is.

Other than that, my visit was fairly uneventful. Maggie arrive, we got her bag, and we left. We did go to G&M to buy crab cakes for those of us who eat such things. I fixed surf and turf for dinner, with two crab cakes and two large, very thick t-bone steaks. I’d say it was a success, at least in part thanks to the Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.

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Chicken and Eggs

Hen

Hen

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Cathy’s niece Maggie is in town. We don’t see her nearly enough so we wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. She helped her grandma fold bulletins at church in the morning and then we left early and spent the afternoon with her. It was a wonderful, spring day with a beautiful, clear, blue sky, cool but not cold. We drove out to our friends’ farm and visited with our friends and some of their animals.

We spent the most time with the chickens (of which there are something on the order of 1,000). I sat for a while in the midst of them and got a few nice pictures, including this one from ground level. A little later Cathy and I helped Anna collect eggs from the laying boxes in the chicken-coop-bus. So, in this case, the chickens came before the eggs.

I made chicken panang curry for dinner. No relation to this chicken, as far as I know.

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Blueberry Scones

Blueberry Scones

Blueberry Scones

I do most of the cooking at home and in general I do a decent job of it. At least for the most part I don’t get too many complaints. Of course if you complain about the cooking, you better be prepared to do your own after that. I don’t do a lot of baking, though. It certainly isn’t that I don’t like baked good, but I am trying to limit my carbohydrate intake a bit. Nevertheless, when Maggie made scones (English toffee yesterday and these blueberry scones today), I happily enjoyed them. This evening was a bit of a bummer on other fronts and by the time I got around to taking a picture for today, I really didn’t feel like it, but these scones were delicious and made a good subject. We had them with Devon double cream.

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Rhaphiolepis indica ‘Moness’

Rhaphiolepis indica ‘Moness’ Enchantress™ Indian Hawthorn

Rhaphiolepis indica ‘Moness’ Enchantress™ Indian Hawthorn

It was raining this morning but we wanted to do something outdoors. We picked up Maggie and went to Brookside Gardens, where there are both indoor and outdoor parts, so we could come inside if it continued raining and go out if it stopped. As it turned out, by the time we left the sky was mostly blue and it was a lovely day, so we wandered over most of the grounds as well as spending some time in the greenhouse.

This is indoors as it’s only hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10 but it’s a lovely shrub with fragrant, delicate pink flowers less than a centimeter across.

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Purple Hyacinths

Purple Hyacinths

Purple Hyacinths

As I think I’ve mentioned before, hyacinths are not my favorite flower. They’re pretty enough and at a distance, I like them just fine. I find the fragrance to be awful, though, so as a centerpiece on a dining room table (for instance) I would just say no. Not everyone shares my opinion, I know. In fact, I know people who actually like the fragrance. It is in their honor in general (and for Julia Y in particular) that I dedicate this photo of purple hyacinths, blooming in our back yard.

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Children’s Sermon

Children's Sermon

Children’s Sermon

Pastor Ben hasn’t done Children’s sermons before but he did this morning. He had the children come up and sit with him on the steps at the front of the room before telling them a Bible story and explaining it to them briefly. Of course some of them couldn’t sit still that long. But it was nice and it’s also nice to see that many kids together.

I don’t know if this is something Ben’s planning to do on a regular basis, but I like it.

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Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’

Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant'

Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’

This pink glory of the snow had started to bloom before our late snow and I was a little afraid that they were not going to come back from that. I shouldn’t have worried, as they are apparently made of sterner stuff. These are quite tall for Chionodoxa, although that isn’t saying much. They are tall enough to hold their flowers above the top of the pachysandra among which they are planted. They came back after the snow and are quite lovely. The regular, blue Chionodoxa forbesii growing nearby are also doing quite well and happily blooming now that the snow has gone.

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Grass

Grass

Grass

I’ve been over to one of the other buildings on campus a fair amount lately, for teleconferences with our client, working through the transfer of a system from our server to theirs. It’s dragged on longer than seems like it should have done but we will see it through. One nice thing has been that I’ve had more opportunities to walk through the woods between the two buildings. It’s the more direct but slightly slower route. Of course stopping to take pictures slows it further. The seed-head of this grass was shining in the afternoon light and I thought it looked nice. I’d be curious to know what you see in this image (beyond the literal, of course).

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Daffodil

Daffodil

Daffodil

It’s high daffodil season and the big boys are out, shining in the morning sun. Unfortunately this one was taken in the afternoon, so it’s not in full sun in the picture, but still pretty nice. These were planted the fall we moved into the house and so they’ve been blooming for ten years now. What was individual tufts of daffodils has become a single, large clump and has spread a bit, as well. They are not actually the most reliable bloomers. If the spring is too wet they won’t all open properly but this year has been quite good for them and they’re looking mighty fine.

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Spiraea japonica

Spiraea japonica

Spiraea japonica

This largish Spiraea japonica was in our back yard when we bought the house. Every few years I cut it back quite hard and it rewards us with a wonderful show of airy, white blossoms each spring. There’s actually a cherry seedling growing up through the middle of it, which I need to chop down one of these days, but that’s neither here nor there. The small white flowers are pretty on their own but of course it’s the effect of a seven foot shrub covered in them that’s the real show. Aside from the occasional once over with a hedge trimmer, it takes virtually no work at all.

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Tsai-Hong and Kaien

Tsai-Hong and Kaien

Tsai-Hong and Kaien

We gathered for a family dinner this evening and as usual since late December, the star of the show was Kaien, now a little over three months old. Most everyone got a chance to hold him and he’s so good-natured that it was a nice time. There are other things going on, of course, and if you know then you know. If you don’t know I won’t bother you with it. Suffice it to say that it was a bittersweet gathering but one I’m glad we had. We’ll be doing that as much as we can for as long as we can. Anyway, here’s grandma with her precious little one.

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