On Tuesday of last week I took a picture of a sunset, which I posted here. That was taken in the parking lot of our local Safeway store after I came out from a brief shopping trip. This evening I stopped at Safeway to pick up a prescription and as I parked, I saw this to the west. Naturally I took a few moments to get some pictures before going inside. Most of the sky was clear, but with my 100mm lens, I could concentrate on the small amount of color just over the buildings.
Monthly Archives: December 2017
The clouds to the west showed a lot of promise this evening and I was really hoping for a spectacular sunset. Unfortunately, the color never really developed. The timing of positioning of the clouds and what little color there was didn’t line up, either, so I had to make do with this picture, taken about 20 minutes before the color would have been best. This is looking south-west from out back door. It’s convenient to have a view like that on the days we do get color, but you can’t always get what you want.
As you probably learned in school, the moon’s orbit around the earth is not circular but elliptical. On average, the moon is 385,000 kilometers (239,000 miles) from earth but tonight is was at perigee, that is at the closest point in its orbit to the earth, and 357,492 km (222,135 miles) from earth. It’s also near syzygy, which is when the moon, earth, and sun all line up (which is when there is a lunar or solar eclipse). Because it’s not exactly at syzygy, it’s just a bigger than normal full moon. George loaned me his telescope a while back and I got it out this evening to see if I could get anything worth while. I bought a t-ring adapter and this is my first chance to use it.
I know, I know. Yet another sunset. Actually, they seem to be popular and we’ve been blessed with some nice, if somewhat understated sunsets lately. I had a very busy day at work and really didn’t lift my head from my computer until it was nearly time to go home. When I turned around there was just a little bit of pink in the sky. My office windows faces north, though, and this was taken after I went outside, looking to the south west, where there was considerably more color in the sky. The best color was due west but there are woods that direction and most of the view was obscured by the trees.
I’ve posted a few pictures of the progress that’s being made on the new bathroom and I’ll put up another one soon, but tonight I thought I’d post a picture of grandma’s new bedroom, formerly our family room. Well, lately it’s been neither. It’s been the storage and work room for out builder, and in this picture you can see tools, two doors leaning up against the shelves, the hardwood flooring for the new hall, and even the bathroom sink faucet in the upper left. Later this week lights will be installed in the ceiling of this room and next week the carpet should come up and the floor refinished (along with the new floor in the hall).
I took pictures of some of the Christmas lights in our neighborhood this evening. Pictures of lights at night is a bit tricky, trying to balance the blackness of night with the very bright points of light, which tend to turn white unless you are careful. Then, the in between parts, that should have some light, tend to get a bit too dark. I’m reasonably happy with the way this one turned out. Just so there is no confusion, this is not our house and these are not our lights. We’ve been a bit overwhelmed with everything else that’s going on and Christmas decorations are a bit beyond us right now.
I only took a few pictures today but I think this one turned out nicely. That’s Cathy, obviously (and in case the title of the post didn’t make it clear). This is a pretty casual photo. Cathy was reading on the sofa in the living room and I was on the other sofa and asked if I could take her picture. The camera was set wrong for the first one. I had the exposure set to manual at 1.3 seconds at f/18 from last night when I was taking pictures of Christmas lights. That picture would have been good otherwise, but the motion kind of messed it up. This one is good, too, properly exposed and without the motion-induced blur of the first one. I think it’s nice and she certainly looks relaxed.
In a little over a week (on December 18, to be precise) we will have been married for a third of a century. I don’t suppose 33 years, 4 months is a generally recognized milestone but perhaps it should be. It’s a while, anyway, and I think we’ve done pretty well.
We had our annual office holiday party today. It’s not really much like the holiday parties you see in movies or sitcoms. We have a buffet lunch and a beer or two (I don’t think I’ve ever gotten around to having a second beer, actually). There is a silent auction and a 50:50 raffle to raise money for a local charity (we raised over $1,800 this year). The Senior Vice President (and Study Area Director) over the group spoke for a little bit, introducing some folks who have joined the group since last year’s lunch. This is a picture of Troy, Kasia, Katie, and Ben, with whom I’ve worked for quite a few years.
We had the first snowfall of the winter today and it was quite nice. We got at least two inches although it never really amounted to anything on pavement, which was warm enough to melt all of it. That includes driveways and sidewalks as well as roads, so driving was not a problem. That’s just as well because I had to go get a few things for the bathroom and Cathy went to a bridal shower for a friend. The snow was pretty on bushes and trees and this arborvitae (Thuja) looked really nice with fluffy white snow held in its branches.
It was a cool but pretty day today with a little bit of snow still on the ground from yesterday. It happens to also be my birthday and I’m 29 again. Actually, I’m 29 twice, if you know what I mean. We had a fairly busy day but ended it with a wonderful meal and a nice visit with our long-time friend, Yvette (who was one of Cathy’s bridesmaids many moons ago). Just before we left for her house I got some pictures of the sunset from the back door. It was a good one.
The bathroom is very nearly done. In this picture you can see the sink and toilet, which went in on Friday, as well as the mirror and vanity light fixture, which went in today along with the fold-down grab-bar between the toilet and the sink. You can see the hole in the door for the knob in the lower right. That and the knobs in the other doors will go in tomorrow. There is some painting to do in the kitchen, hall, and new bathroom. The shower curtain rod is on order and should be here next week. The curtain should come tomorrow. Once I have the rod and it’s up, the bathroom itself will be done. On Thursday the floor crew should be here to put new hardwood in the hall and to refinish that and the old hardwood in the bedroom (formerly the family room). Also on Thursday the ramp to the front door should be done. We are very close. Of course, the entire house needs to be dusted pretty badly. No point in doing that before the work is finished, though.
The other day as I was leaving work there was a beautiful sunset but it was obscured by the woods along the edge of my office parking lot. I thought that if I hurried, I could get to the other side of the woods and get a good picture before it was gone. I was wrong. I wasn’t half way there before the color was all gone from the sky. So, when I saw some good color through the trees I didn’t bother trying to get around the trees. If I had, I’d have been disappointed again. Instead I just took a few pictures through the trees. It’s maybe a little less spectacular than if I had been on the other side, but it’s certainly better than no trees and no sunset colors. We take what we can get.
Nine days ago (see Tuesday, December 05, 2017) I posted a picture titled Grandma’s Bedroom. That showed our former family room full of tools, building supplies, and a bit of waste. The room has changed pretty drastically since then, mostly in the last few days. When I got home on Tuesday the room was empty and the carpet was gone (well, it was in small rolls on at the top of the driveway. Today, the floor was refinished. I have to say, it looks pretty nice. Certainly better than the old carpet. It’s closed up now, so that the top coat can dry. And of course the house smells pretty bad. But that will fade, eventually.
The renovations going on at home are nearly complete. It would be a bit of exaggeration to say they have been the worst thing we’ve ever been through. Nevertheless, they have been somewhat stressful. Most of the rest of the house has a thick layer of dust and of course we still haven’t found new homes for everything that had to be moved out. It’s worth it, of course, but that doesn’t entirely eliminate the negative aspects. But, as Cathy said by picking this Gloria Gaynor song on the jukebox at the Silver Diner, I Will Survive.
I mentioned the other day that Cathy has been looking at topographic maps of the area and that Avery Road used continue as far as Baltimore Road. When Norbeck Road was put in, the section from there to what is now the Croydon Creek Nature Center was abandoned. The last quarter mile or so north of Norbeck was realigned so that they would meet at more or less 90 degrees. Today, Cathy and I walked from the Croydon Creek Nature Center down the hill to Croydon Creek and then back up on the old road bed as far as Norbeck Road. It was a beautiful day. We had been to three stores and it was really nice to get away from the crowds for a little bit. It’s a pretty, little park and worth a visit if you want to get away briefly.
Back in February I posted a picture of Lacey and Daniel when Daniel was three weeks old. He is now almost eleven months and he’s still as cute as ever. I happened to check on the nursery this morning at church and he was the only child there, being held by Christine whose own son has moved up to the Sunday School class with the other youngsters. Daniel’s older brother, Tim, also moved up and that, actually, is what he’s crying about. As long as he has his brother with him, he’s willing to have his mother leave him in the nursery. But when Tim leaves, as well, that’s too much to bear. Seeing a somewhat scary looking old may with a big, black thing that makes bright flashes of light didn’t help. He kept staring at me as I moved around and took a few pictures. Of course, he quieted down and was fine shortly. It’s been delightful to see this little one grow this first year and I’m looking forward to the next. It’s also delightful to see all the toddlers move up into Sunday School. All too soon they’ll be heading off to college.
As seen on my post for Wednesday, November 22, 2017, I replaced the headlights in my Dodge Grand Caravan. The new headlight assemblies came with new bulbs but I kept the old set, mostly because I thought I’d take some pictures of them at some point. Well, we’re reached that point. The glass bulb around the filaments in these two are slightly different and the precise configuration of the internal connections is a little different, but they are basically the same (which makes sense because they were in the same vehicle). I think they’re kind of cool. The two coils are not as close together as they appear in this photo. The coil on the left in each bulb is slightly behind the one on the right.
Are there more pretty sunsets in the winter than in the summer? I honestly don’t know the answer to that. It seems like it but maybe it’s just that I’m up before the sun quite a bit more often in the winter. This was taken at 7:32 this morning. That’s about as late as the sun rises around here. In the summer, I’m only up before the sun on rare occasions. Anyway, I saw the colored light from inside and grabbed my camera, going out into the front yard to get this. I also got the final inspection for the bathroom remodel this morning (a little later). So, a good start to the day.
There was a potential for an amazing sunset this evening. As it turned out, it was pretty good but not necessarily spectacular. I sat on the back stoop and watched the clouds moving quickly out of the west. As the sun sank below the horizon, there were streaks of color and a little bit more lighting up the underside of the clouds but not as much as we might have had. Are you getting tired of sunsets? I hope not. I’ve certainly enjoyed seeing them.
Finding a good location to take sunset pictures is worth the trouble. You don’t always have time to get to them, of course, but if you see a sunset shaping up, it’s nice to know where to head. This evening we had been in Olney and were coming down Georgia Avenue. Ahead of us and to the right, where the sun was setting, there were no clouds. Behind us, however, to the northeast, where you don’t generally think of looking for sunset colors, there was a large bank of clouds that were beginning to show some nice color. I pulled into the ICC Commuter parking lot and we walked to the top of the hill separating it from the ICC (MD 200). This picture was taken looking almost directly away from the sun, from due north (on the left) to the east (on the right). This is a three photo panorama, taken with a 24mm lens.
We’ve been going through a lot of things, both at our house and at Cathy’s mom’s. In the process, we’ve found a few things worth keeping amidst a fair amount of things to be thrown or given away. Cathy came across two dolls and they have been sitting on a chair in our dining room for a few weeks. This one seems to have some sort of problem in her left eye, a cataract, perhaps. We may need to take her to see a specialist.
We went over to Cathy’s mom’s house this afternoon and set up her Peruvian Creche in her living room. If you look closely (and you don’t need to look that hard) you might notice some less traditional visitors to the manger this year. That’s completely appropriate if not historically accurate. All are welcomed to come to Jesus, young and old from every language, nation, and race. Animals, too, came to adore him. If they hadn’t, the stones themselves would have cried out.
Cross Community Church of Rockville is (so far) a smallish church. Since a lot of folks travel for Christmas, we expected a relatively smaller group on Christmas eve (morning). So, pastor Ben and his wife hosted church this week at their home. This is our Christmas Eve Morning service (and there are more people around the corner and around me where I’m standing). If it looks like a lot of folks are on their phones, that’s because they are using them as their ‘hymn book’ as we sing. Also note that we were invited to come in our jammies, which a few did. We’re a pretty casual church in general. All the more so when we’re at home. My apologies for the title. I generally absolutely abhor annoying alliteration.
As usual, we had a three-part Christmas this year. We started by opening our stockings and a few presents at home. Then we went to Cathy’s mom’s where we had our traditional breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage. We opened a few more presents there. At about 1:30 we (including Cathy’s mom) went to my mom’s. We had our equally traditional dinner of enchilada (plus lot of other food, of course). In the evening we played a game. This year we each submitted five of our favorite songs. George then compiled them and played a segment of each. The idea was to guess which songs went with which person. It was a three-way tie for first place with the winners getting 12 out of 14 correct.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Home Depot this evening after dinner. We went to pick out a couple colors of paint for the living room. In case you don’t know our living room, three walls are white and the fourth, the end opposite the entrance, is painted a somewhat ugly green. The crown and base molding and the molding around the entrances and windows matches that wall. Likewise, the curtains are a similar green with large box valances at the top. The plan is to pain the one non-white wall some new color and also to paint he molding a different color. We decided on a blue color for the wall and a fairly bright white for the trim. That, plus replacing the curtains should transform the room. This photo, which looks a little like chairs in a stadium, are color sample cards.
I stopped at the ICC commuter parking lot on the way home this evening. The sunset wasn’t particularly spectacular today but it’s the picture I got. To slightly alter a photographic adage, the best sunset is the one you have with you. To the south and northwest there were a few small clouds and a little subtle color but I wasn’t able to capture it well enough to be worth posting. To the west, looking towards the setting sun, there was a pretty orange color in the sky. Not overwhelming, but pretty.
Cathy and I took the day off today to do a bunch of work around the house. We did that last week and Jean came to help. We got a lot done then and today we followed up with more work along the same lines. Julia came and was a real boost. We were glad just to see her, of course, but the fact that she helped us get things done was a bonus. She’s also now a college graduate, which is pretty exciting. We made a run to the recycle center and trash transfer station and when we got back, I took a handful of pictures of her before she left.
Cathy was going through some boxes of small objects this evening and among other things, she found a bunch of super balls. I’ve always loved super balls and they are a real fixture of my childhood. What I didn’t know is that I was among the first generation to enjoy these highly bouncy balls. On August 25, 1965, Norman Stingley filed a patent for what he called a “Highly Resilient Polybutadiene Ball” (patent number 3,241,834, issued March 22, 1966). The Super Ball® was sold by Wham-O® and was an instant success. I know my brothers and I got many hours of enjoyment from them. They are made of a synthetic rubber called Zectron® that is primarily polybutadiene molded under high pressure and heat. All I knew as a kid was they really could bounce.
We had a light snowfall overnight. The forecast is for clear or mostly clear skies for a while so we aren’t likely to get more but the forecast is also for relatively cool temperatures for the next week or so, probably below 20°F for the duration and getting well down into the single digits. I’ll probably need to wear a sweater one or two days this week. These footprints are on the back step, just outside our kitchen door. We have a birdbath with a heater in it that keeps the water from freezing, so birds are never in short supply this time of year, particularly when it gets to cold.
I don’t really know how long she’s been doing it but my mom has had a New Year’s Eve party most years since I was in high school, at the very latest. That’s more than 40 years. A few years ago we moved midnight forward to 11:00 PM so that people could drive home before the really crazy, drunk folk were on the road. We had a nice time visiting with people we often see only once a year. This is Dorothy, Kendra, and Cathy, sitting in front of one of mom’s recent quilt creations. As for the fingers they are holding up, that’s for my benefit. Seven fingers for seven years of taking at least one picture a day. I’ve taken just over 149,000 photos over the course of 2,557 days, an average of a little over 58 per day.