Monthly Archives: November 2017

Oak Leaf

Oak Leaf

Oak Leaf

I started walking across campus to an 11:30 meeting this morning but got a phone call while I was on my way, saying the meeting had been cancelled. At it happened, I had brought my camera with me so I walked back the long way, going through the woods and taking a few pictures. I got some of the yellow fruit on what we call “Cathy’s Hawthorn” (because she parks next to it most days). In the woods I came across an oak tree with beautiful leaves. The oaks haven’t been as spectacular, overall, as in some years, but there are individual trees that are worth noticing. I also love the lines of veins in the leaf, which are still visible in the partially eaten bits.

Unofficially, this is my 2,500th consecutive day of taking a picture. I officially started on January 1, 2011, so the official 2,500th day will be in three days. Nevertheless, I had taken pictures on the three days prior to my official start, so today marks 2,500 days.

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Confused Cherry Tree

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

For the last few days I’ve noticed this cherry tree in bloom. I’m afraid it’s been terribly confused by the mild fall we’ve been having and it’s going to be mightily disappointed when it gets colder rather than warmer. Well, it won’t actually be conscious of the weather. It’s just a tree. But I think it unlikely any fruit will come of this out-of-season blooming. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty little tree and gives me something to think about on an otherwise unremarkable commute. For a few days I’ve been meaning to stop to take pictures and today I did. Enjoy.

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Zelkovas on Norbeck

Zelkova serrata

Zelkova serrata

Every year I get to enjoy the three lines of Zelkova serrata planted on either side and in the median of Norbeck Road between Rocking Spring Drive and Westbury Road. Other parts of Norbeck have Bradford pears, and they are nice in their seasons but are not, in my mind, nearly as impressive as the Zelkovas in their autumn orangeness. Some years it seems more rust colored but this year it’s a brilliant orange. They are particularly nice on overcast days but beggars can’t be choosers and I’ll take them as they come. I stopped on the way home and took a few dozen pictures, waiting for breaks in the traffic so as not to get run over.

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Steve and Kai (and Photo 2,500)

Steve and Kai

Steve and Kai

We had a family dinner night today and it was great (as always) to see Kai (and the others, of course). Every time we see him, and it’s only been two weeks, he’s doing more and becoming more and more his own person with his own reactions and mannerisms. This evening he was in a good mood, as well, which is always a bonus.

We had Chinese carry-out and he had spaghetti squash and some other mushy something. Then he played on the floor for a while and of course he was held by many. He’s gotten old and sturdy enough to ride on his dad’s shoulders and as you can see, he’s enjoying it.

This is officially my 2,500 photo in my increasingly ill-named “Project 365.” Unofficially, I’m actually at 2,503 consecutive days with a photo, because I took pictures December 29, 30, and 31 in 2010, before starting my Project 365 on January 1, 2011. This is photo number 148,044 on this camera. I’m nearing the 150 thousand mark and expect to get there shortly before the end of the year.

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Bathroom Progress, Day 4

Bathroom Progress, Day 4

Bathroom Progress, Day 4

The difference between the beginning of day one and the end of the same day were more obvious than the difference between the end of day one and the end of day four. Of course, day four was Friday and it is now Sunday but of course the bathroom is in the same state today as it was at the end of the day on Friday. In the top of the picture you can see a black box in the ceiling. That’s the new exhaust fan. There are also two recessed light fixtures above what will be the shower. Another not so obvious change is the air duct that used to open in the floor in the far right and which now comes up in the wall in the foreground on the right.

The place where there was a door to outside is closed in, as it was on the first day. You cannot see it in this photo, of course, but the siding is up on the outside of that and if you didn’t know a door had been there, you might not be able to tell. There are a few signs left, but they are minor and will be taken care of in due course.

I picked out floor and wall tile yesterday and bought one of each so the builder could measure the thicknesses and get the transition from floor to shower nice and smooth. He needs that calculation before he can install the shower pan. Also, the plumber is supposed to come tomorrow and we should be able to do laundry again, which will be nice.

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Fall Color In The Woods

Fall Color In The Woods

Fall Color In The Woods

I’m reasonably happy with my commute. On a good day it’s under 15 minutes and it’s pretty rare that it takes as long as 25 minutes. On the other hand, it isn’t the most picturesque commute you’re going to find. There’s are a few bits that are nice, though, including a stretch of woods on both sides of Rock Creek. In my homeward bound commute, that’s also the most likely stretch to have a back up. Today, I stopped part way along that stretch and was able to take a few pictures of the woods before we started moving again. The woods are quite lovely right now and I don’t mind a short stop if I have that to look at. Pretty soon it will be a lot less interesting, so enjoy it while you can.

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Maple Leaves On A Rainy Day

Maple Leaves On A Rainy Day

Maple Leaves On A Rainy Day

It was an absolutely beautiful day today but I was stuck indoors for almost all of it. I’m in a class today, tomorrow, and Thursday and that’s keeping me in the classroom. Nevertheless, we took a break for lunch and I used the opportunity to go outside. It was raining. Actually, it was raining fairly hard and I wasn’t really dressed for it. I still went out and enjoyed the colors. Overcast days are often the best for fall color. Add rain and it only gets better. These maple leaves are over a set of stairs down to the building I was in today and they were so beautiful. I love a rainy day.

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Grass Seeds

Grass Seeds

Grass Seeds

We often don’t pay a lot of attention to grass that’s gone to seed. There are some grasses, though, that are specifically grown for the ornamental value of their seed heads. This is a relatively small one, growing in a small bed near the older parking garage next to one of the buildings across campus. I was there all day for a class (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week) but had a chance to get out during our lunch break. I also found some oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), an invasive species similar to our native American bittersweet (C. scandens).

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Bathroom Progress, Day 7

Bathroom Progress, Day 7

Bathroom Progress, Day 7

Today is work day 8 but this picture was taken in the morning before any work had been done today, so it reflects 7 days of work on the laundry room to bathroom conversion. As you can see, the plumbing is pretty much all done in the wall. The electrician came today and removed the 220 volt outlet that was used by the electric drier we had when we moved in (our current drier is gas). That’s right in the middle of this photograph. Another thing to notice in this picture is the joist that would have been directly under the drain in the shower pan. That required a little reworking of the supporting structure. The two joists on either side were doubled up and cross pieces put in to hold the end of the central joist, which had to be cut. The shower pan went in today, as well.

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Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura)

Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura)

Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura)

I was outside for a little while today and took a few pictures. Most of them were of trees reflected in the windows on the outside of my office building. They are not as colorful as in some years but with the blue sky behind them and the slight distortions of the not-quite-flat glass, they made for interesting pictures. Then I noticed a vulture land in this tree. I took two pictures of the tree in reflection and then turned around to get a couple directly. There are three birds in the tree and just after I snapped one picture, a fourth turkey vulture flew through the frame and I grabbed one more shot. Actually, I’m not sure they are all turkey vultures. At least one may be a black vulture (Coragyps atratus).

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Euonymus japonicus (Japanese Spindle)

Euonymus japonicus (Japanese Spindle)

Euonymus japonicus (Japanese Spindle)

The hedge. Along the north side of our property is a hedge of Euonymus japonicus (Japanese spindle, although I never really call it anything other than Euonymus). It’s pretty healthy and flourishes even in rough years. The deer seem to like it and when it’s in bloom, the entire hedge buzzes with hundreds of bees. The flowers are not at all showy, but they are quite sweet smelling and last for a few weeks. The fruit, shown here, is quite interesting, I think, and adds a small amount of color at a time of year when it’s very welcome.

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Mowing Up The Leaves

Cathy Mowing The Leaves

Cathy Mowing The Leaves

At our old house we had 6 oak trees all more than two feet in diameter and four more than three feet. We had a ridiculous amount of leaves to get up. To make matters worse, as anyone with oaks knows, they are among the later trees to drop their leaves. Usually the leaves would not all be down before Christmas and we often had to rake into January. A few years we rented a leaf vacuum and that actually was pretty useful but it would go once across the yard and I’d have to empty it. Still, it took less time than raking, which is what we did most years.

At this house we have two large oaks in the front (there was a third but it’s gone now and never had a lot of leaves while we lived here). In the back are two smaller maples, which I think I’ve mentioned before. The easiest way to get rid of the leaves is to run over them with the lawn mower. That would never have worked at the old house (too many of them) but here, as long as we don’t let it get too bad, it works quite well. This is Cathy, mulching up the leaves, and pretending to run me down. This, believe it or not, is Cathy trying to look fierce.

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Schlumbergera truncata (Thanksgiving cactus)

Schlumbergera truncata (Thanksgiving cactus)

Schlumbergera truncata (Thanksgiving cactus)

Our Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) is blooming right on schedule this year. It’s such a cheerful color to brighten up the kitchen and I’m happy for it. It’s a fairly unassuming plant most of the year but as with many cacti, its flowers are remarkable. We have a half dozen of them and some are doing better than others but they are relatively easy plants, not asking for a lot of attention, which is good, because they really don’t get much from us. And yet, this is what they give us.

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Zamboni

Refreshing The Ice, Rockville Town Center

Refreshing The Ice, Rockville Town Center

I met the guys in Rockville Town Square this evening, getting there a little early so I’d have time to take some pictures before they got there. The ice skating rink had been set up and though we’re well into November, there have only been a handful of days that were actually seasonably cold. They can still make ice, of course, and I planned to watched a few people skate for a little while. Just as I got ready to take a picture of two, they cleared the ice to run the Zamboni, so I got a picture of that, instead. I don’t know if this is actually a Zamboni. Apparently there are two other companies that make ice refreshing equipment, but that’s the name that everyone recognizes. Like Kleenex, Band-Aid, and Jacuzzi, Zamboni is a registered trademark but it has become so associated with the product category, it is used in the vernacular for the product.

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Operation Christmas Child, Part 1

Operation Christmas Child, Part 1

Operation Christmas Child, Part 1

Towards the end of summer Cathy does much of her Operation Christmas Child shopping. The back-to-school sales are a good time for it. I asked her then how many boxes she planned to do this year. She said six but quickly corrected herself, saying, “well, probably seven.” I think she honestly believed that’s how many she was going to make. That was a fiction, however. Her six or seven has quickly turned into twelve. Every year she ends up making more than she planned but this year she really went a bit overboard. She does like Operation Christmas Child. This picture is just a small section of the staging for packing boxes, which has taken over Dorothy’s room for the time being.

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Operation Christmas Child, Part 2

Operation Christmas Child, Part 2

Operation Christmas Child, Part 2

In the continuing story of this year’s Operation Christmas Child boxes, here’s a picture of Cathy amongst her six or seven (I mean twelve) boxes. They are mostly packed and ready to be closed up and delivered. She has a few more things to distribute to the boxes. Cathy is also signed up for two evenings working at the collection center in Jessup, processing boxes for shipment.

Hopefully Dorothy’s room will be back in order before she arrives next week on her Thanksgiving break.

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Bathroom Progress

Bathroom Renovation

Bathroom Renovation

We finally got the plumbing and electrical inspections needed so that the walls can now be closed up. I had a meeting this morning with Marc, our general contractor, David, who is doing most of the actual work, and Andy, our occupational therapist. We discussed and agreed on locations for grab bars, etc., so proper backing could be installed before the walls are closed. Needless to say, these things have to be done in the right order. Much of the progress over the last week and a half has been in the basement and in the walls. We now expect progress to be much more visible as the walls are closed and the tile is installed.

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Birthday Fire and Friends

Birthday Fire and Friends

Birthday Fire and Friends

It’s Cathy’s birthday today. She hasn’t been feeling well and I knew she would not agree to inviting people over today. Also, because of the construction (well, mostly because of that) out house is, shall we say, even more disorganized than usual. But for her birthday, I wanted to christen the fire pit that I bought her and wanted to do that with some of her best friends. So, I invited them without asking. At about 5:30, Jean and Lexi walked in the front door and called out, ȁHello, anyone home?” About a half hour later, Amy arrived. Then Julia, followed by Yvette. Maureen also came, although not until after this picture was taken. Cathy agreed that she would have said “no” but that she was glad they all came. And the fire pit was a hit.

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Oakley Cabin

Oakley Cabin

Oakley Cabin

It was a beautiful if somewhat chilly day (but not unseasonably chilly) and I wanted to get outdoors for at least a little while. I went for a drive, first stopping to take some pictures in the neighborhood of trees still holding onto their leaves. Oaks are like that. Then I drove up Georgia Avenue through Olney and Brookeville and turned left onto Brookeville Road. I stopped to take a few pictures of the Oakley Cabin. This cabin is one of three that once stood here in what “was once the center of an African American roadside community from emancipation into the early 20th century. The dwelling, inhabited until 1976, is now operated as a living history museum by M-NCPPC, Department of Parks, Montgomery County.”

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Red Maple Leaves

Red Maple Leaves

Red Maple Leaves

The vast majority of trees have finished dropping their leaves around here and winter is basically starting. It’s not terribly cold but our winters are not generally very bitter. A few trees, however, are clinging to their autumnal colors. There is a small line of maple trees on our company campus that are really quite amazingly red. They have lost a relatively few leaves so far and are quite stunning. I stopped on the way back to my office from a meeting today long enough to take a few pictures.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

On the way home from work I stopped at the grocery store to buy a few things. When I came out, the sun was setting and the light on the clouds was quite beautiful. I didn’t have time to get anywhere more open so I took a handful of pictures from the shopping center parking lot. With my 100mm lens I was able to avoid the buildings and parking lot lights and concentrate on the colors. This one turned out pretty well, I think.

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Replacing Van Headlights

Replacing Van Headlights

Replacing Van Headlights

The headlights on our minivan have been a bit cloudy since we got it, many years and even more miles ago. It had about 115 thousand miles on it then and it’s up to 257 thousand now. The headlights are not terribly effective and on dark stretches of road, where there is no other traffic, they really were not adequate to let you see the road ahead. I’ve been meaning for a while to do something about it. I ordered a pair of lights and installed them today. As you can see, the lenses in these are much clearer than the old pair, sitting on the ground in front of the van. I’ve driven with them and they are a big improvement. Now that I know I can do it, I’ll buy another pair (they were $68 for two, with free delivery) for the van that Dorothy drives.

Each headlight is held in by one screw and three nuts that tighten onto bolts on the back of the lights. The screw is quite easy to get to but at least one of the nuts on each light was a little hard to reach (but not the same one on each). They all have 10mm heads but my 10mm wrench is fairly short (overall length 5.5 inches / 140mm), making it less useful than it might have been (but still my best bet in the tight space. I may get a long handled wrench before I do this on Dorothy’s car, although having done it once, I’m more confident I can do it again.

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Monocacy Aqueduct

Monocacy Aqueduct

Monocacy Aqueduct

We decided to have our Thanksgiving on Friday this year and that meant that today we had nothing specific to do. I thought we might go to Tridelphia Reservoir and Brighton Dam Recreation Park but when we got there, the parking lot was blocked off and the reservoir was mostly drained. I assume they are doing some sort of maintenance work on the dam. Anyway, there was nothing for it but to go somewhere else. I decided to drive to the Monocacy Aqueduct where the Monocacy River goes under the C&O Canal and then meets the Potomac River. It was an absolutely beautiful day and there were very few people about, so we had a really nice time.

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Thanksgiving

Ready to Eat

Ready to Eat

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we had our Thanksgiving meal today instead of the more traditional Thursday. Iris had to work briefly in the morning but she was at mom’s before I got there at about half past noon. Our meal was the traditional turkey and all the fixings but of course, the real feast is being with family. I’ve decided to post two pictures from today, one as we were sitting down to eat. clockwise from far left: Steve, Danna, George, Carmela, Margaret, Dot, Cathy, Dorothy, Tsai-Hong, Iris, Seth, Maya, and Kaien

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

After dinner we sat and talked and occasionally laughed. Steve showed off the leather armor he has made for his live action roll playing (LARP) and I got some good pictures of both him and Carmela dressed in it. We also took family portraits, both with my camera and with mom’s. This is one of mine. Front, from left to right: Carmela, George (with Chester), Margaret, Cathy, Tsai-Hong holding Kaien, Steve, and Henry. Back, also left to right: Iris, Seth holding Bean, Dot, Dorothy, Maya, and Danna

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Beech Leaves, Lake Frank

Beech Leaves, Lake Frank

Beech Leaves, Lake Frank

It was a quite beautiful, late fall day today and some of us went on a walk around Lake Frank. We started and ended at Flower Valley Park on Hornbeam so we were starting a fair way from the lake. In total we walked about 4.75 miles but by the time I was thinking we might turn back we were about half the way around and there wasn’t much point. In addition to family on the walk were two old friends, by which I mean friends I’ve known for a long time, not that they are particularly old. It was good to get caught up on their families and lives. I really need to make more of an effort to keep up with people, but day to day life seems to get in the way.

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Mack Truck Bulldog Hood Ornament

Mack Truck Bulldog Hood Ornament

Mack Truck Bulldog Hood Ornament

According to Wikipedia, in 1893 brothers John (Jack) and Augustus (Gus) Mack bought Fallesen & Berry, the carriage and wagon company where John worked. In 1900 the first truck to bear the Mack name was produced, the Mack Bus. In 1922 the company name was changed to Mack Trucks, Inc. and the bulldog became the company’s corporate symbol. Since 2000, the company has been a subsidiary of Volvo. My grandfather picked up this bulldog hood ornament at some point and then my mom had it. I’m not really sure what the attraction is but it’s in our house now. So, I thought I’d take its portrait for today’s picture.

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Autumn’s Last Hurrah

Autumn's Last Hurrah

Autumn’s Last Hurrah

I’ve posted a picture of leaves on this maple tree before but it’s one of only a few in my daily rounds that still has it’s autumn finery on display. As I post this, on the Sunday after the Monday when it was taken, the tree is totally leafless. So, this was pretty much it for this year’s display. Actually, there are still leaves on many of the Bradford pears on Norbeck and there are some sweet gums that are yet to reach their peak color, so there may be one or two more leaf pictures yet this fall, but we’re getting to the end.

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Bathroom Progress, Day 19

Bathroom Progress, Day 19

Bathroom Progress, Day 19

Counting only work day’s, of course, and with some delays in terms of getting the inspections, we’re up to day 19. As you can see, the tile walls for the shower are up. The strip of red showing at the bottom is a rubber sealant that covers the entire sub-floor. That will be tiles over with 18 inch squares of a similar color to the walls. The shower floor will have the 2 inch tiles you can see in this picture (but those are not fastened down at this point, just sitting there and ready to go pretty soon. The two bottom rows of tile on the shower walls will go in after the floor (because they rest on the floor tiles. Anyway, it’s coming along.

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Alydus eurinus (Broad-headed Bug)

<em>Alydus eurinus</em> (Broad-headed Bug)

Alydus eurinus (Broad-headed Bug)

It was a gloriously beautiful day today and I had a little time for lunch so I went out into the empty lot next to my building and lay on my back in a patch of dry grass. The sky was a beautiful blue. The sun was warm but the air was cool, so it was perfectly comfortable. While I was sitting, this little bug flew up and landed on a blade of grass right in front of me. I was able to get a handful of pictures, although they are not as sharp as I’d like. I had to take it from a slightly awkward sitting position. When I tried to lie down to get a better position, I scared it off.

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Buddleia

Buddleia

Buddleia

The buddleia blooms are long gone and with them the butterflies and bees. It’s been cold enough that the insects that live through the winter as adults have all gone to ground and those that don’t are returning to dust. The colors of summer are gone and the colors of fall have faded into brown and grey. But the buddleia bushes still have some interesting features. Where the flower clusters were there are now mostly empty seed capsules. I think they are pretty, especially close up.

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