Monthly Archives: September 2017

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

This hydrangea has taken a few years to get established. Last year it was eaten back by the deer, which didn’t do it a whole lot of good. We’ve managed to protect it (or have simply been lucky) this year and it’s doing much better. We planted it and another, blue hydrangea a few years ago but the other didn’t make it. This seems happy and the flowers, white and pink, are quite nice against the green of our back border. We’ll need to do a little pruning to keep the forsythia from covering it up, but I think it’s well on its way to being a favorite late summer bloomer.

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Kai

Kai

Kai

We babysat Kai for a few hours today and naturally I took a few pictures. Actually, he slept or was mostly quiet in his crib for most of the time we had him. He didn’t fall asleep for about 20 minutes but was actually not very fussy during that time. After he woke up again we played with him a little and that’s when I took pictures. He was less happy for most of that time than he had been when left alone in his crib. Cathy had him somewhat interested in a few books but the pictures I took were not of a happy boy.

Then his mom came to the door. That’s when I snapped this one. Yes, the happy view we present on social media is often that one moment of joy in an otherwise bleak, joyless day (his, not ours, we were happy just to be in the same room as this beautiful little boy, even when he was sleeping). Enjoy this picture for what it is, a joyous smile on a cute little fellow. But don’t be taken in by the visions of perfection you see on Facebook, Instagram, and other such sites. They are often not a reflection of reality.

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Limenitis arthemis astyanax (Red-spotted Purple)

Limenitis arthemis astyanax (Red-spotted Purple)

Limenitis arthemis astyanax (Red-spotted Purple)

I went for a hike with a friend and his four lovely kids today. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and a perfect day to get a little bit lost. We were never really truly lost but we did miss a turn and ended up further from the car than we had originally planned. We enjoyed the woods and the kids in particular enjoyed kicking over mushrooms (after letting me get down on the ground to get a few pictures first). We also saw a slug and I got some nice pictures of that, if pictures of a slug can ever really be considered nice. This picture is a red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax), one of four subspecies of Limenitis arthemis. This is a very distinctive butterfly and quite a pretty thing. Yes, I know that it looks more blue than purple. It’s been mentioned. The ‘red’ spots (which are orange. I know, right?) are on the lower hind wings (i.e., the other side).

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Elsie and Marit

Elsie and Marit

Elsie and Marit

We went with Cathy’s mom to the Fourth Presbyterian picnic today at Rocklands Farm. We haven’t gone to Fourth for over 25 years but we still know a lot of people there and of course we know the Rocklands folks, so we had a wonderful time visiting with old friends. I took a bunch of pictures but I have to admit I took more of Janis and Greg’s grandchildren than all the other pictures combined. They’re all just so darned cute. Here are two cousins, Elsie on the left and Marit on the right, ‘driving’ the gator (actually it’s a Kubota, but their previous one was a John Deere and the name is a holdover from that). These two are clearly chums and I’m really happy that Marit and her family are back in the USA for the foreseeable future. Anyway, this picture makes me happy.

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Water on My Windscreen

Water on My Windscreen

Water on My Windscreen

I met the guys for dinner at Matchbox this evening and was a little early. It was raining quite hard as I drove there and I sat in the car a little while waiting for it to let up before heading in. The store lights across the street were lighting up the water splashing on and flowing down the windscreen of my car and I enjoyed watching the patterns it made. I have no idea, at this point, what the signs say and you certainly can’t tell from the picture, although at the time I remember wondering if I’d be able to read them in the pictures. By the time we were done with dinner the rain had basically stopped and I took a few pictures of the gas fire in the pit outside the restaurant entrance. But fire pictures are easier to come by. It doesn’t often rain as hard as it did this evening.

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Grandma’s Pipe

Grandma's Pipe

Grandma’s Pipe

It was a busy day, picking up Cathy’s mom, coming back to our house and then going to dinner before taking her home again. When we were back at her house I took pictures of a few things in an old post office desk in the kitchen. This is a desk with an array of square cubbies used for sorting mail. It is currently used to house curios, one or two per cubbie. I’ve been meaning to photograph this pipe for a while now and today I got around to it. Grandma doesn’t actually smoke anything, much less using an Amazonian clay pipe. We aren’t actually 100% sure where this came from but we all assume it was from Cathy’s grandma, who lived in Lima, Peru for over 20 years and that it was made in the Peruvian Amazon region. That’s an educated guess but still just a guess.

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Piezogaster Species

Piezogaster Species (Leaf-footed Bug)

Piezogaster Species (Leaf-footed Bug)

It was a beautiful day and I decided to go out into the woods today. Just after I crossed the creek on the fallen tree trunk I looked to see what insects I could find in the little stand of yellow ironweed (Verbesina alternifolia) and the first thing I found was this leaf-footed bug, one of probably two species in the genus Piezogaster. After that I took some pictures of the crab apples on the edge of what I call the uplands. There are both red and yellow apples and they’re quite pretty but then, they’ll be there when I come back in a day or two and I don’t know if I’ll see another bug like this for a while.

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Broccolini

Broccolini

Broccolini

Writers get writer’s block. I sometimes get photographer’s block. I just can’t seem to find anything interesting to photograph. In generally I’m interested in a wide variety of things and find it pretty easy to find some detail to look at. Occasionally it’s hard and today was such a day. So, as I was making dinner, I photographed the broccolini that I was getting ready to cook. It got me wondering what, exactly, broccolini is. Well, according to Wikipedia (which you cannot always trust, but in this case it’s probably right or at least close), broccolini is a hybrid between two cultivars of Brassica oleracea. One of those is regular, old broccoli and the other is called kai-lan or Chinese broccoli, which has been bred for it’s leaves instead of its flower buds. This gives broccolini it’s longer stems and smaller flower clusters. The way I like to fix broccolini is to parboil it briefly and then put it in a sauté pan with a little olive oil and some garlic and salt.

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Scolia dubia Blue-winged Wasp

<em>Scolia dubia</em> Blue-winged Wasp

Scolia dubia Blue-winged Wasp

It was a cool day today, felling much more like October than September. I suspect we’ll get a bit more summer before it’s done but today was absolutely lovely. The maple tree in the back yard is starting to show some color and it felt very autumnal. In the late afternoon I went out back and took some pictures of hosta flowers. It was a smallish hosta and I got down on the patio to take pictures. The warm concrete of the patio and the cool air was really nice. I noticed this little blue-winged wasp (Scolia dubia) and was able to get one reasonably decent picture (and a bunch of not-very-good pictures) of it before it flew off. This is one of my favorite wasps but they’re a challenge to get close to, so I was pleased.

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Neoscona Species

<em>Neoscona</em> Species

Neoscona Species

Cathy and I went for a walk to and along a stretch of the Northwest Branch of Rock Creek late this afternoon. We made it as far as where the creek goes under Muncaster Mill Road and then followed the road back to our neighborhood and home. It was a nice walk and warm without being hot. As we were walking up Muncaster Mill, Cathy spotted this spider along the edge of the trees. It is probably a species in the genus Neoscona, the spotted orbweavers. Light was fairly low and this isn’t nearly as sharp as I’d have liked. Also, without seeing the dorsal view, it’s not really possible to make a good identification.

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Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

I managed to get outdoors for a little while today and into the woods and upland next to my office building. It was warm but not hot and I enjoyed the break in an otherwise busy day. I got some pictures of a lady beetle on the same stand of yellow ironweed where I took the picture of the leaf-footed bug last Thursday (see Thursday, September 7, 2017). Then when I got out into the sun I was able to get reasonably close to this dragonfly, which I haven’t had time to identify yet. It’s a pretty thing and I particularly like the eyes.

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Kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii)

Kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii)

Kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii)

I didn’t really get outside today except to go to and come home from work. As the passed, I realized that I hadn’t taken any pictures today so shortly before 10:00 PM I started taking a few pictures of the fish in my main fish tank. I say ‘main fish tank’ because I currently have two, a largish, 70 gallon tank in the breakfast room (the ‘main’ one) and a smaller, 30 gallon tank in the family room. As of today, however, there are no fish in the smaller tank. There were only two, a fairly good size fresh water angel fish (Pterophyllum scalare) and this kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii). Catching them in the other tank was a bit tricky but I finally managed it. The loach was particularly hard, as it kept Darting under things. Finally I took everything out of the tank (the rocks, etc. so there were fewer places to hide. Those rocks have been moved, along with the fish, into the larger tank, and they seem to be doing fine so far. The plecostomus that’s been in the tank seemed happy to have more places to hide, as well, and has claimed the largest spot under the rocks for himself. This loach is the last remaining fish that I took from our friend Hannah when she went off to college a little more than four years ago. Sadly the others are all gone, but this little guy, who we actually hardly ever see, seems perfectly content.

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