The Lenten roses are just starting to bloom. This one, called ‘Mango Magic’, is the earliest of them (this year, at any rate). This one was planted in the fall of 2014 and it doing quite well. Another planted at the same time is taking its time getting going but seems to be doing better than last year. I have a bunch that Brady gave me that were being thrown away after being thinned out when she worked at Brookside Gardens. Those are nearly white. The largest of the Hellebores that I have, the first to be planted shortly after we moved here, is quite massive and has deep, wine-colored flowers in great profusion. I particularly like that one with the sun is shining through the petals.
Monthly Archives: March 2018
When it comes to taking a picture every day, there are—as you’ve probably noticed—when I have a hard time finding something to photograph. I could easily skip those days and no one would really miss them. On the other hand, by forcing myself to take pictures every day, I get out more often than I would. If I could say to myself, “It doesn’t matter if you go out today. You can just skip today like you’ve skipped other days.” But when I haven’t skipped other days, that won’t work.
Days when there are events are easier because I generally know I’ll be able to take pictures of people. Tonight was such an event and consequently I didn’t bother taking pictures all day. Instead I worked in my basement, sorting old papers and things (mine this time). I was pretty sure there would be people I know that I could photograph in the evening. Then, after driving to Bethesda with Cathy and Margaret, and after they went inside, I parked the car and saw the sunset. I still took pictures inside but these are going to be enjoyed by more people than pictures of people that a lot of folks don’t know. Not that a lot of folks actually see them, but whatever.
With George and Carmela here for the weekend, it was a good time for a family dinner night. Not everyone could be there but those of us who were had a nice time with Indian food from Bombay Bistro. Not surprisingly, Kai was often the center of attention. Babies and toddlers have a way of doing that. He it poised to make the transition to toddler, as well. He took an unaided step this evening and we all clapped. He looked around, started clapping himself and then sat down. It is not, apparently, the first step he’s taken. It won’t be long before his parents are having to run after him. He’s as cute as ever and he enjoyed pieces of naan along with his teething biscuits. He also loves orange wedges, which great grandma brought out after the meal.
It was warm in the house this evening so he was without shirt, as you can see in the picture. His cheeks are rosy but he seemed quite happy, even if he looked uncomfortably warm.
This is the older Lenten rose I mentioned the other day (see Thursday, March 1, 2018). It was brought in a pot from our yard in Gaithersburg and lived in that pot for a year while we rented and until we moved into our current house. It was one of the first things we planted when we moved here so it’s quite well established. There is some bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) next to it that really needs to be moved so it doesn’t get smothered by this giant thing. This giant thing could also be split into three or four without doing it much harm. The hellebores are tough plants native to the Caucasus.
With a specific name like Turdus migratorius, you might thing the American robin is only here part of the year. After all, migratorius implies it migrates. Well, it does. Nevertheless, for the overwhelming part of the 48 contiguous states, the robin is a year-round fixture. Their summer breeding grounds extend from the southern states (and include the mountains of central Mexico) to cover all but the most arctic portions of Canada. In the winter they move south, with their northern limit right around the U.S.-Canadian border. So, if you live in Canada, their arrival is a sure sign of spring. The birds we see in the summer may not be the birds we see in the winter but frankly, they all look pretty much alike. We often see them eating berries on the holly in our front yard. This time of year, as it begins to warm up, they are active pulling up worms, as this one was doing before being so rudely interrupted by me.
We’ve been going through things at Cathy’s mom’s. We’re getting rid of some things, either throwing away, recycling, or donating. We’ve also kept some things, of course. In the first pass, some things get kept to look at again later. That was the case for this Chinese dragon hat. We don’t know when it came into the house or whether it was given or bought.
It’s quite festive, although not really Cathy’s style. I’ll be posting pictures from time to time of things found. Some of them we’ll keep but probably not everything. Taking the things from two houses (hers and ours) it’s not like we can fit it all into one (ours). So, we have to part with things we might otherwise keep. I’ve also started going through my own things with an eye towards downsizing. The sooner the better. It’s amazing the amount of stuff you can accumulate over the course of a lifetime (and we’re not even done, yet (as far as we know).
Cathy and I went to work together today. Since she had an appointment during the day, she took the car, which meant she picked me up after work. The front of my building faces northeast, so the wrong way, generally, to get sunset pictures. Nevertheless, there was a little color in the clouds low in the sky, behind the trees along the edge of the parking lot. I have to say, I’m really happy about the woods next to my building. I don’t get out into them as often as I might but if there were another building with its inevitable parking lot, it would be a terribly boring place. As it is, this small piece of land has been sitting idle for about 25 years. There is a sign on the corner advertising the upcoming development. That’s been unchanged for at least 15 years. One day it will be bulldozed and paved, but for now, it’s a nice bit of parkland.
This set of ten matryoshka dolls is another find from my mother-in-law’s house. Matryoshka dolls were first made in the late 19th century. This set is different in both shape and painted design from any set i’ve seen (although to be honest, I haven’t seen a huge number). Typically, except when depicting actually individuals, the outermost doll is female.
This set of ten nesting dolls range in size from about four inchest for the largest, outermost figure to about five-sixteenths of an inch for the smallest.
Dorothy came home for spring break and brought four of her friends with her. They arrived at about 5:00 PM and I got home a little after 6:00. I fixed a very non-standard shepherd’s pie for dinner, using chicken instead of the more traditional lamb or also quite common beef. There were meat eaters in the crowd but a few who were not eating red meat. Also, fresh shepherd is so hard to find this time of year. Cathy, as is her wont, sat on the floor and stretched. This is most everyone, gathered in the living room, joining in.
As I mentioned yesterday, Dorothy is home for spring break and brought four friends with her. Today we drove out to our friends farm in the outskirts of Poolesville. The chicken’s are not really a featured attraction and visitors are not supposed to wander out into the field with the animals. One advantage of being friends with the owners, however, is a little more latitude when it comes to where we are allowed. The kids (and I’m counting Cathy among them) enjoyed catching chickens and putting them back inside the enclosure. Here are John, Cathy, and Grace, each with a chicken.
After church today, Dorothy and her friends went downtown to visit another friend who is working on Capital Hill this semester and who also has a part time job at a book show near Eastern Market. They visited some other friends on the way home. I fixed a surf and turf for dinner—flank steak and salmon—and then started a fire going in our fire pit. Most of the kids stayed inside but Dorothy came out and chatted with me for a white. I had my camera and took quite a few pictures of the fire as we talked. I like the pale blue, plasma-like flames in this picture.
I looked around to find something to photograph this evening. I took a few pictures of doodads brought from Cathy’s mom’s house but then decided to take pictures of this dried seed pod from an Indian lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). We didn’t cut down a Christmas tree this year, with all that was going on. Instead, we put up a wreath in our living room and put out a few ornaments. The wreath had some decoration on it, including this lotus pod. It had a few more seeds it it but they are not held in by anything and they have fallen out. The wreath has been lying on the ground outside since Christmas and I burned it in yesterday’s fire.
This is one of my favorite little, spring bulbs. I don’t think I could ever have too many Scilla and Chionodoxa bulbs in my yard. I currently have two species of each. This is the less common of the two Scilla, with the other being the much bluer Scilla siberica. The flowers of the Chionodoxa species are similar but are more upward facing. One of those is pink and the other a really beautiful blue. These are mostly white with just a small amount of blue down the middle of each petal.
This is the first real flower I’ve had on this Lenten Rose. It sort of bloomed last year but the flower was somewhat deformed and was missing more than half its petals. This year it’s got a serious flower and I think this may become one of my favorites. Off hand I don’t remember the variety name but I should be able to track it down somewhere. As you can see, it’s a double flowered variety and the pink edges to the petals is quite nice. This is under the trees right out back and when it gets a bit larger it will be very obvious this time of year.
Update: I looked up the variety and it’s Helleborus ‘Rose Quartz’ (although the order actually said Rose Quarts).
There were pretty clouds in the west this evening and I took some pictures of them even before it got close to time for the sun to set. Those pictures were my insurance, in case the sunset itself wasn’t anything worth photographing. As it turned out, it was worth photographing, though. The clouds turned their characteristic orange and were quite spectacular for a good fifteen minutes or so. As you might expect, I took quite a few pictures and that usually makes it hard to pick just one to post for the day. This is a representative sample.
We took a mini-vacation this weekend, driving out late Friday evening to Winchester, Virginia. We planned to spend tomorrow and possibly some of Sunday doing a little on-the-ground family history research. Cathy’s great, great grandfather was (we believe) captured during the second battle of Winchester and killed during the third. We hope to find a few significant locations for his regiment of Pennsylvania volunteers. Obviously, I’ll post pictures from tomorrow and Sunday when the time comes.
When we got to our hotel I hadn’t taken any pictures for the day so Cathy was nice enough to let me take a few of her. I like this one best.
As mentioned yesterday, we are visiting Winchester, Virginia this weekend to do a little family history work. This time it doesn’t involve library work. Mostly we wanted to visit the battlefields of the Second and Third Battles of Winchester. Cathy’s great, great grandfather was taken prisoner on June 15, 1863 during the second battle. He spent some little while on Belle Isle in Richmond before being paroled. Today we were able to find the road he and his fellow soldiers were on when they ran into the main body of the Confederate Army.
After that we had a late lunch and then moved on to the battlefield for the Third Battle of Winchester, also known as the Battle of Opequon Creek. This avenue of trees, which would not have been there in 1864, runs through the middle of what is known as the Middle Field where some of the heaviest fighting took place. Cathy’s ancestor was, with the rest of his Pennsylvania Volunteer regiment, fighting in General Wright’s Sixth Corps in General Ricketts’s division. They were along the Berryville Road (now Virginia route 7) about a mile to the south of this point and what is now the site of the Winchester Gateway shopping center. We don’t know when or where in the course of the battle he was killed but sometime that day he died. He is, presumably, in one of the graves marked ‘Unknown Soldier’ in the National Cemetery in Winchester.
Here is a short description taken from CivilWar.org:
On September 19th , Sheridan advanced toward Winchester along the Berryville Pike with Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright’s Sixth Corps and Brig. Gen. William Emory’s Nineteenth Corps, crossing Opequon Creek east of town. The Union advance was delayed long enough for Early to concentrate his forces to meet the main assault, which continued for several hours. Casualties were very heavy.
Yesterday evening, after our 3.5 mile walk on the battlefield of the Third Battle of Winchester, we visited the National Cemetery in downtown Winchester. We went there again this morning because Cathy had remembered the name of another man in Henry’s (Cathy’s great, great grandfather) division. One marker was for a man in his company and who died of wounds received the same day Henry died. Henry’s remains were never identified so we assume his is one of the graves marked, like the one in the lower right of this photograph, “Unknown U. S. Soldier”. For all we know, this is his grave (unlikely, but possible).
The large column on the left memorializes Brigadier General David A. Russell. He commanded a brigade of the 6th Army Corps in which Henry served. Gen. Russell died the same day as Henry, September 19, 1864 at the Third Battle of Winchester.
I took my camera with me to a meeting across campus and then spent a little time taking pictures on the way back. The Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) is starting to leaf out and in spite of the fact that it’s quite likely that we’ll have another freeze, it’s not at all bothered. It’s pretty well suited for cold and a light freeze or two isn’t going to do it any harm. This little insect, however, may be jumping the gun a bit. I don’t know, really. Perhaps it, too, has ways to deal with late freezes. I know some of my followers think it a bit funny that I try to identify all the plants and animals in my posts with their Latin names. You’ll be happy to know that I have no idea what sort of insect this is and I’m going to leave it at that.
Spring is definitely on its way but we had rain and a little freezing rain today and it didn’t feel very spring like. It was a chilly, dreary day, for the most part and I didn’t get outside much. When I got home I took a few pictures out the back door of the buddleia that’s growing by the patio. There was less than an eighth of an inch of ice by the end of the day but the forecast is for snow tomorrow (and since I’m writing this after the fact, I know we got it).
Snow in March isn’t that unusual here. Of course, if you listen to the radio this week you might not get that impression. I heard a report that breathlessly told us how long its been since we had a snow like this was forecast to be this late in the year. Well, that’s possible, I suppose. A couple problems. Most importantly, the actual snowfall didn’t live up to the hype. We got maybe four inches of very wet snow. I remember a snowfall on March 18 not that long ago that was two or three times worse. But it’s March 21, which is, as I’m sure you can figure out, later in the year than March 18. Not by a lot, though. Anyway, as usual, much ado about not much. Quite pretty, actually.
Going through more things from Cathy’s mom’s house, Cathy came across a bunch of old stickers illustrating various nursery rhymes. They were printed on foil, making them bright and shiny (and a little more difficult to photograph). Some of them had words printed on them, which made it that much easier to identify the associated rhyme. There was Jack and Jill, Little Jack Horner, and Jack be Nimble, among others (hmm, just notice those are all about Jacks). This one, though, I don’t recognize. It looks like it’s raining under this poor lad’s umbrella. He and his dog don’t seem particularly pleased. Do you know what rhyme this comes from? I’d love to know.
The house Cathy grew up in has two star magnolias (Magnolia stellata) in the front yard. They bloom early and their petals are quite tender so it’s actually more common for them to be frost damaged than not. The snow and cold we had yesterday has done a little damage to the petals, as you can see on this bud. Nevertheless, if it doesn’t get cold again, this tree could put on a wonderful show in a week or so. But we aren’t out of the woods yet, in terms of frost and there’s plenty of time for these blooms to be wiped out. They’re lovely as they are, of course, but on the rare occasion the trees bloom without any petal burn, they are quite spectacular.
We had a family dinner night this evening and it was a good time. I don’t want to say that Kai was the center of attention but, well, Kai was the center of attention. We’re expecting some competition for that attention sometime in early July (give or take a week or more). But for now, he’s it and he’ll still get plenty of attention after his cousin in born. He’s one and a quarter today. Apparently he’s been walking quite a bit, mostly at day care and not so much when family is around. Tonight he walked a few times and when he did, he got cheers. When he gets cheers, he cheers himself, and that’s what he’s doing here. He’s very (and rightly) proud of himself. It won’t be long before his parents are run off their feet trying to keep up with this little fellow. He’s quite adorable and so, we adore him.
We had a nice dinner, as well, with dumplings from Mama Dumpling (a.k.a. China Bistro) as well as other dishes. Good as always.
The Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’ has begun to bloom in the shady northern corner of our yard. It’s more shady later in the year, when the oak that is over it has leaves. This time of year it gets a fair amount of sun from mid morning through early afternoon. This is a pretty little plant, barely showing itself over the Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese pachysandra). There are some others coming up, as well. And our early, small daffodils are in bloom. In spite of the snow we had last week, it’s really starting to look, if not to feel, like spring.
When Dorothy was here with her friends for spring break I made mango and sticky rice. At least I tried. I had checked a recipe but then didn’t consult it when I was actually making it. There are really only four ingredients (plus a little salt and the sesame seeds sprinkled over it) so you’d think I could have remembered all of them. I remembered the mango because it’s pretty obvious in its absence. Likewise with the rice. Without that it would just be mango. But I forgot the sugar in the coconut cream. It tasted nice but wasn’t very sweet. Tonight’s version was much better. It’s quite simple. Sweet, short grained rice is steamed for 20 to 25 minutes. Then you mix it with coconut cream combined with sugar. I made it a little runny this time, but it tasted as good as you could hope for.
We have two Kalanchoe plants. This one is Kalanchoe daigremontiana (a.k.a. Bryophyllum daigremontianum) and it’s a pretty little thing, although our plant isn’t particularly robust. Most of our house plants have been somewhat neglected lately. We have lots of excuses, such as the disruption from the renovation project, Solomon’s cage (and Solomon, of course) being moved in front of some of them, or the fact that it’s winter and some of them do better outdoors, during the summer. I do try to get at least a little watering done now and then and we have a small mint next to the kitchen sink. When it starts to wilt, I know it’s watering time.
These shoes are called pizors. Searching for pictures online, I found them spelled paizar, and since this is a transliteration, it’s not surprising that there would be some variation. In any case, I haven’t found any pictures online of any as nice as these. They are from Afghanistan in the 1950s, bought by Cathy’s parents in Kabul. As you can see, they are quite sturdy looking, made of very stiff leather and with nails in the soles so they are pretty tough. They happen to be way too small for my extra wide feet and I’m not sure they would be all that comfortable in any case. The flash used when taking this picture shows the sewn decoration quite well.
Since last week’s snow, it’s been relatively balmy and spring-like. The daffodils were already coming up when the snow came, with a few already in bloom. Now, a little more than a week later, they are bursting into bloom all over. Shortly we’ll have great drifts of yellow where the highway department has planted them alongside roadways. Front yards will be sporting the beautiful yellow flowers, dancing in the breeze (a la William Wordsworth). This little one is the earliest in our yard, to be followed shortly by the much larger and dare I say quintessential ‘Marieke’, along our front walk.
Depending on which computer I use to look at this picture, these hyacinth flowers sometimes look a lot bluer than they are in real life. Other monitors show them the way they looked. If they look blue to you, take my word for it that they are a very strong, electric purple with just a bit of blue on near the base of the flowers. Nevertheless, they look quite nice as blue flowers, too. I’m not a huge fan of hyacinths, mostly because they are so strongly sweet smelling. I don’t mind them in the garden but I don’t want them brought into the house. Every year I take at least one set of pictures of them, though, and think of our friend who loves them. Here’s one for you, Julia.
Eight days ago (see Friday, March 23, 2018) I posted a picture of a star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) bud. I commented that the petals were slightly burned by the cold but that in about a week or so the flowers should be open and if there is not another serious frost, they would look wonderful. Well, we haven’t had another significant frost and the tree does, indeed, look great. You can see a little burning on the tip of a petal or two but overall, they don’t look at all bad. It was an absolutely beautiful Saturday with a rich, blue sky and the star magnolia petals, mostly white touched with pink, were lovely.