I don’t know that we’re finished with frost for the spring, but it is definitely spring. It was very pleasant out today and Cathy and I got a lot done. Over the winter we generally leave last year’s stalks and seeds of Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Verbena, etc. for the birds. It’s time to tidy up the yard, though, in preparation for this year’s growth. I used a hedge trimmer to cut them all down near the ground and we cleaned up most of the garden in back and a little of what’s needed out front. After most of that was done I took a break and spent some time photographing flowers. These Muscari are growing under a cherry tree at the north end of our front yard.
Monthly Archives: April 2017
It was a really lovely day today, sunny but cool with just the hint of a breeze. A perfect day for the first church picnic of 2017. And that’s what we had. With the change of our service time from 11:00 to 10:30, we finished earlier than we have in the past. That also contributed to a smooth flow from church to picnic. I hadn’t had time last night to make anything so Cathy ran out to buy some fried chicken right after church and got back as folks were starting to go through the line.
As I’m sure you’ll be surprised to learn, I took a few pictures. Most of them were of kids playing on the swings and slides of the playground outside the Rockville Senior Center. But I took some of the grown-ups, as well. This first one here is of Jenny, a relatively new friend and member of our congregation. It’s been nice getting to know her and it was extra special today to meet her younger brother, Tom, who arrived yesterday for a short visit.
The other picture is of Josh, whom I’ve known for a pretty good while now. I’ve gotten to know him a lot better over the last 18 months or so and it’s been a joy. In addition to working with the youth at the church, he’s just begun classes in pursuit of an M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary. It’s going to be a busy few years.
I’ve posted a picture of Josh once before. That one, last December, was with his sweet girlfriend, Lizzy. She was also at the picnic but didn’t happen to be with Josh when I took this, or I might have posted another of the two of them. They sure look good together.
After the picnic I expected to come home and crash but it was so lovely outdoors that Cathy and I did some more work in the yard and garden. We’ve got most of the flower beds ready for this year’s growth and the back yard in particular looks a little naked. Now it’s a matter of waiting for things to come up.
Scilla siberica, sometimes known as Siberian squill, is a small bulb native to southern Russia. It is notable for its ability to grow under black walnut trees, which is useful if you have a black walnut and are looking for things to plant under it. I don’t but I still love this spring ephemeral. It is similar to the related Chionodoxa forbesii but the flowers on that are turned upright while Scilla’s face down. It was getting late in the evening when I took this (6:55 PM) and although the camera was steady (on a bean bag), there was a slight breeze moving the flowers around a little.
I was stopped at a traffic light and looking in front of my I saw these trees with clouds behind them. At first I though about getting my camera out but then figured I didn’t really have time. By the time I realized I probably did have time, I only was able to get off one quick picture as traffic started moving again. The alignment isn’t quite what I would have liked. If I had been slightly back from my position the clouds would have been slightly higher, but it’s not like I could move back to get a better angle. Anyway, pretty spring clouds on a lovely day.
I’ve bought a large number of bulbs a few times since we moved to our current house and twice I’ve received a bonus of five tulip bulbs from the place I ordered them. Tulips are not generally as long lived as daffodils, in my experience, but then, my experience is fairly limited. I planted the ten that I’ve received in one area and this year five of them bloomed. Obviously this is one. While I have a lot of daffodils and quite a few other, smaller bulbs, I do confess to liking the view straight down into a tulip flower.
Becky and the WCA King’s Players put on an excellent performance of The Importance of Being Earnest this evening. As in previous years, I took a few pictures before, during, and after the show. This was taken just before the doors opened this evening to let in the enthusiastic audience. If you know the story, they you know how funny it is. If you don’t, then you should take a look at one of the movie adaptations made over the years. I haven’t actually seen the recent one, but the 1952 version is quite good. Every year we get the final high school performance of another batch of seniors and like most years, it will be sad to not have them available next year. At the same time, of course, it would be more sad if they didn’t graduate and move on to the next stage of their lives.
I took another boatload of pictures at the play this evening. Most of those won’t mean much unless you where there and if you were there, then you already saw it. Also, unless I posted the entire cast again, I’d have to pick a picture of one or two people and leave out all the rest. Well, I guess that’s what I’ve done but instead of going with a picture of students, I decided to post this one of Becky, the fearless director of the WCA play. If you’ve ever been involved in high school drama (as if you had to put on a play to get drama in high school!) then you know how much work it is. Imagine doing that with a toddler in tow. But she pulled it off, with the help of a wonderful assistant director, student assistant director, and a host of others. Well done.
I was down at mom’s today to have lunch with her and with my cousin Dana, his wife Barbara, and Seth. It was a beautiful, clear day and when I went outside to take pictures of the camellias that are in full bloom, I thought I really should get one against the sky. So, that’s what you get, a big, bold, red Camellia japonica against the blue, spring sky. I don’t remember for sure what camellia this is. Perhaps mom remembers. As tomorrow would have been dad’s 90th birthday, though, I think this is an appropriate day to celebrate his remembrance through the camellias he planted. Thanks, dad. It’s been more than seven years and I still miss you every single day.
It was an absolutely glorious day out today so when we got home from church we wanted to do something outdoors. We were tired, though, so decided against doing more yard work. That isn’t to say that we’re all done, by any means, but the yard and garden is in better shape than it’s been this early for many years. We went to Stadler Nursery in Laytonsville and looked at plants and flowers, thinking about what we might get to add to our garden. I took some pictures, mostly things I thought looked nice rather than those I was particularly interested in buying. This Icelandic poppy was quite amazing in its orangeness.
This is a really find daffodil and I recommend it highly. It doesn’t have really large flowers but what it lacks in individual flower size it more than makes up for in bloom count. I planted these in 2009 around a large oak tree in the front of our yard. The oak was dying and has since been removed but the bulbs continue to thrive. I really should get some more of these, although there are lots of other varieties that I could try. These are somewhat variable. The corona (the cup in the center) is somewhat yellow in these but in others it is nearly as white as the base of the surrounding outer perianth (the six ‘regular’ petals).
Here’s another daffodil (all of which are varieties of the genus Narcissus). This one is called ‘Suzy’ and it’s a really nice little thing. I planted them in the fall of 2014 so this is their third spring. Actually, I’m not sure if they are ‘Suzy’ or if they are ‘Falconet’. The two varieties are quite similar in appearance but ‘Falconet’ has multiple flowers per stem. I can’t find the paper where I wrote down which I planted where that fall, though, so I may be wrong. In any case, they are quite pretty and I’m happy to have them growing in two places in the back yard.
We’re coming into the period with the most blooms now, and it’s the time of year when I get lots of pictures and have a hard time picking which to post. I got some pictures of a Camellia japonica called ‘Dad’s Pink’ growing beside my garage. I also got pictures of the cherry tree that’s also on that end of the yard. But the picture for today is of forget-me-not flowers (Myosotis sylvatica), growing in the back yard. There were quite a few of them in years past but they are short lived perennials and tend to migrate across an area, growing where they haven’t grown and not renewing themselves as much were they were. These are out in the grass and will need to be moved or they will get mown before too long.
Cathy and I went for a walk in the early afternoon. You might think that working at the same company we’d see a lot of each other during the day but in fact, we don’t. We work in different buildings, for one thing, on a campus that isn’t exactly sprawling but which includes six buildings. Mine if on the north end of the campus, separated from the others by a pond. We walked across West Montgomery Avenue to a larger pond today and that’s where I took this photo, of a Canada goose (Branta canadensis).
Pictures of smiling, happy babies are great, of course, but there’s something about a baby making a less peaceful expression that I really love. I’m not saying I want babies to cry and of course I try to make them happy when they do. But crying happens. It’s a fact of life.
The family we here for dinner this evening and I took a bunch of pictures and a few short videos. Kaien was in a good mood most of the evening and he’s a pretty easy going little boy. Later on he was getting tired or hungry or something and was a little less happy and that’s when I took this one. I wish I had been a bit farther away or had a shorter lens on the camera so I could have gotten his whole head in the frame. He was wiggling about and my tracking was a little behind. I caught the expression, though, and I think that’s the main thing. You get what you can when you can. I certainly didn’t have time to go rummaging through my camera bag. I love this look.
This pink flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is in front of our house and it’s coming into full bloom. I really love pink dogwoods, although they don’t do as well these days because of anthracnose and the dogwood borer, one of which I photographed on Tuesday, August 21, 2012. It’s a pretty little thing but they do significant damage to this pretty, native tree. There are not reliably pink kousa dogwoods (Cornus kousa) and they have fewer pests, at least so far. They bloom later and have pretty fruit. I’d also like to get a Cornel cherry (Cornus mas), which has small, yellow flowers a bit earlier than the flowering dogwood.
I realize that I’m more than a week behind in posting this. It’s been a busy time and I’ll try to get caught up shortly. Easter sunrise services are one of my favorite events. It’s partly a function of how much I appreciate Easter. To me it’s much more important than Christmas. I realize you cannot have Easter without having had Christmas but without Easter, Christmas would be meaningless. Easter also has some wonderful music associated with it and we aren’t overwhelmed with non-Easter, seasonal music as we are for Christmas.
The lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is up and in bloom. There was some of this in a bed under some trees in the back yard when we moved here. Cathy has transplanted some to a few other locations and this is growing around the southeast corner of the house. It’s such a pretty little flower and I love looking at them every year. They don’t last a long time so when they come out I can’t wait around. But for the short week or so that they are in bloom, they are worth taking time for.
I’ve driven past the Washington Street side of the Rockville courthouse a hundred times but never noticed this sculpture before. I’m usually just turning onto Washington Street from Jefferson and then paying attention to oncoming traffic because I’m usually turning left again. Because this is on the right, I am generally looking the other way. For some reason I noticed it this evening, though. I parked and went over to get a closer look. Apparently it is titled “Spirit of Freedom” and was created in 1992 by Muriel Castanis.
I went out into the woods next to my building today. It was overcast but mild and a nice day to be outdoors. I had only walked a few paces into the woods when I spotted these little mushrooms by a fallen log. I got down on the ground and took a bunch of pictures but I’m not really all that pleased with any of them. The contrast between the white tops of the caps to the dark undersides was just too much for the sensor in my camera to take. But, it’s what I have a picture of today. Hopefully tomorrow will be more interesting.
The pink dogwood is out and we’re about to enter the most floriferous time of the year. The dogwoods are probably at or just past their peak. Likewise the redbuds. The azaleas are just starting and will be in full bloom soon, which is a pretty spectacular time in our area. The azaleas are followed within a few weeks by some of the early roses, some of which continue to bloom throughout the summer.
I took some pictures of the yard this afternoon. First I got some overall shots showing shrubs, trees, grass, etc. Then I took some close up shots of a phlox plant that is blooming along the back of the yard. The dogwood that Cathy is standing next to in this photo is in the front, too close to the house, really but it’s such a beautiful tree when it’s in bloom that I’m loath to take it out. I tried planting a tall camellia under it that I could cut it out in favor of, but that was just before two very cold winters and it died. I should probably try again. But, for now, we’re enjoying it.
As many of you know, Cathy and I few up to Boston this morning. I took my first Uber ride from Logan Airport and we met up with Dorothy. At about 1:30 we headed up to New Hampshire for the rehearsal for Hannah and Drew’s wedding, which is tomorrow. Cathy and I were not actually involved in the wedding, beyond providing one of the bridesmaids. We got a call, though, asking if I could take a few pictures at the rehearsal. Of course I was only too happy to do so. This is one of the first pictures I got after arriving at the church and I’m pretty happy with it. Preparations for a wedding can be somewhat stressful but they were (mostly) relaxed and everyone was in a good mood.
A wedding is a big deal. A wedding for people you know and love is a bigger deal. That being the case, I don’t feel like I need to restrict myself to one picture of Hannah and Drew. The picture I posted yesterday was before the rehearsal, as they were sitting in a hallway waiting for everyone to get organized. Actually, the wedding coordinator was pretty phenomenal, from what I could tell, and had things under control but even at the best of times, there are a lot of moving parts and they all need to move in harmony. With her help, along with a cast of thousands (well, over a dozen, anyway), things went about as smoothly as they can be expected to go.
The first picture here is from the wedding, as you can probably tell. At this point, Hannah and Drew are married and have turned to face their family and friends as the pastor introduces them for the first time as husband and wife. The second picture was taken during the rather lengthy photo session that followed the ceremony. I didn’t take a lot while that was happening, because the official photographers had it under control but this was a nice lineup of the wedding party and I couldn’t resist taking a few. Hannah and Drew, I meant what I told you that evening. If there is ever anything you need and it’s in my power to give it, you only have to ask.
When we got to Boston on Friday it was raining. As we drove to New Hampshire, it was raining even harder. In the evening, after the wedding rehearsal (which we were not really part of except being asked to take a few pictures) it was drizzling and quite cool. Then for the wedding yesterday, it wasn’t actually raining most of the day but it looked like it was about to all day. This morning, the sky was a beautiful, clear blue, about as lovely as any you’ll see. We drove back in time to go to Dorothy’s church and then spent a little time at Gordon College while Dorothy took care of some business.
We walked across the campus and about a third the way around Coy Pond. The skunk cabbages are in full bloom and the cinnamon ferns (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) are sending up their furry crosiers. I took some picturs of those, of course, but I like these two from the main part of the campus. The first is in front of the Phillips Music Center, looking towards the chapel. The second is of the chapel from across the quad.
When Dorothy was done, she took us to two of her favorite places. First we went to Halibut Point State Park at the northern tip of Cape Ann. Then we drove through Rockport and Gloucester to Rafes Chasm. Both were beautiful and I can understand why she likes them so much. We talked about visiting them during a storm and she said that she and her friend when there during a squall and there were “waves the size of houses.” Sounds wonderful.
We also visited a small graveyard in Beverly, which was pretty in the late afternoon light. A busy day with lots to do and done, but very nice.
Dorothy had classes most of today so Cathy and I drove down to Providence in the afternoon to visit Abba. We went to Conimicut Point Park on the Providence River and then parked above Prospect Terrace on College Hill. This panorama was taken from there. I was preoccupied with finding my way, which included a number of false starts because a couple roads were closed for utility work. The west side of College Hill is quite steep and getting to the top of a hill like that only to find you can’t get through is a little disconcerting. I’m going to use that as an excuse for locking my keys in the car. We didn’t realize I had done that until after dinner when we returned to the car, only to find that I didn’t have my keys. Normally, Cathy would have had one but this is the car that Dorothy has at school so she had the other key. Thank goodness for AAA. It was a nice visit and a good day, otherwise.
We spent a fair amount of time with Dorothy today. We drove into Salem for a while but it was cold and wet so we didn’t stay out as long as we might have done. We did see this loon in the water next to Derby Wharf. I only had my 100mm lens so couldn’t get as close as I would have liked but at least you can tell what it is. Dorothy went to dinner with some friends so Cathy and I were on our own. We had a very nice meal in a place called Toscana Bar Italiano. The food was quite good and I think we were a bit lucky to get a table without waiting. It’s a smallish place so it can easily fill up. The rain probably helped us a bit this evening.
Dorothy was in class again today so Cathy and I were on our own. We had breakfast in a little place in Manchester by the Sea and then drove up towards Essex. We wanted to be outdoors and I thought some of the tidal marshes in the area would be pretty. As it turns out, we got there at just about high tide for one of the highest tides of the year. Also, it was overcast and a bit foggy, which gave the whole scene an eerie, surreal quality. We had a lovely chat with a local homeowner who was out with her dog and then enjoyed the view.
After our morning outing to Essex, we returned to Gordon and picked up Dorothy after her last class. It had been wet all morning but not it was raining lightly and the fog was a bit more dense (or the clouds were closer to the ground, which I guess comes to the same thing). From the school we went to Singing Beach. If you think a beach is only beautiful on a sunny day, then either you’ve never been there on a day like this or we’ll have to agree to disagree. I had to keep my camera in the lee of my body to keep it reasonably dry but I took quite a few pictures, including this one of Cathy and Dorothy walking away into the mist.
From Singing Beach we went to Lobster Cove, a quiet little place with no provision for parking but again, beautiful in the mist. This panorama was made from six shots taken with my 100mm lens, vertically oriented. Lobster Cove is a quiet little place and there are houses on both sides but especially on a day like this, it’s a peaceful retreat from the world. Every now and then larger waves would hit the opening at just the right angle to roll in to the beach and there were sea birds about but otherwise, it was just the noise of the wind and the distant sound of waves on rocks further out.
Back in 2009, we were in the suburbs of Boston for Steve and Maya’s wedding. After the wedding we moved to a B&B in Jamaica Plain and one day mom, Ralph, Tsai-Hong, and I went to the two art museums on either side of where mom went to grad school. The first of those was the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and I had the pleasure of taking Cathy and Dorothy there this afternoon. It’s quite a place and really worth a visit, if you have the time. The building has a covered courtyard in the center, shown here, and the galleries are around that on each of the first three floors. If you are interested, there are room guides on the museum’s web site.
We have been here about a week and we had a really good time. It started with Hannah and Drew’s wedding last Saturday. That was a lot of fun and a beautiful start to a new family. Since then we’ve spent time with Dorothy as well as some time without, when she was in class or otherwise engaged. The weather was often a bit less than sunny, although there were two days when the sky was clear for at least part of the day. The rest of the time it was damp. One day it rained quite hard. But rainy, overcast, and particularly foggy weather can be very beautiful. I think the pictures taken at the beach on the rainy days are my favorite from the trip.
This morning we checked out of our hotel and drove back to campus. We met Dorothy for a little while between classes and I took this picture, along with a few others, at Coy Pond. When Dorothy headed off to class, we called for an Uber and were picked up within 10 minutes. She got us to the airport earlier than expected and then our flight was delayed two hours. Five hours in Boston’s Logan Airport isn’t my idea of a good day. But we made it and we are home again.
Although it would have been lovely to spend some of the weekend with Dorothy, coming home yesterday, on Friday, was a good idea. We were tired and certainly not ready to go back to work this morning. While we were gone, the yard and garden continued to progress through its usual spring sequence. The Exbury azalea is in full, glorious bloom, with its hot, bright orange flowers. The Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) is also in bloom in the garden under the cherry trees. It’s not closely related to the Virginia bluebell, being much more closely related to the Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis).
It was a beautiful, warm day today and after church and lunch we decided to go to Fehr’s Nursery in Burtonsville. They have a nice selection of plants including the annuals that Cathy’s been planting in a small area at the front of our yard the last few years. I bring my camera and spend most of my time taking pictures of flowers. This year I also bought a miniature rose called ‘Cutie Pie’ but that’s not what this photo is. This is a flower of Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium species) with a syrphid fly (Toxomerus marginatus) perched on it. These are quite ubiquitous, little creatures in the area and they don’t cause any bother at all. I think they’re kind of pretty, as well.