Monthly Archives: December 2018

Doors Closing

Doors Closing

Doors Closing

Cathy and I went to the storage unit today to pick up a few things, mostly related to Christmas—nativity scenes, tree decorations, the tree itself— and I decided to take a picture of the automatic doors closing. There is a slight delay after they open (which is nice, because it gives you time to get through them) and then they close. I set the camera to f/22, which gave it an exposure of 0.8 seconds at ISO 100. I moved close enough to trigger the door opening sensor, and then quickly moved back to the wall opposite and positioned the camera against the wall, with the bottom edge sitting on a piece of molding. That allowed me to hold the camera fairly steady for the long exposure. I tried opening them by voice command but all I got back was, “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

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Lake Needwood

Lake Needwood

Lake Needwood

Cathy and I went for a walk on Lake Needwood after church today. It was overcast but pleasant and we walked part way around the lake. I took this picture from near the boat house at the southeast part of the lake, looking north, more of less. The trees are bare and with the overcast sky, they looked particularly stark and gloomy. That’s not to say they aren’t beautiful, though. I think they look pretty nice. The water was quite still, also, which added to the mood.

For the few of you who follow me here, I apologize for the brief hiatus. My main workstation has four hard drives (including a relatively small boot SSD). Two of them, one 5TB and the other 6TB are dedicated to photographs. Unfortunately, I have a lot of photographs and they two drives are full. That kept me from being able to “process” my photographs for about 10 days (not that I rushed to rectify that matter, of course). I ordered another 6TB drive so I should be set for a while now.

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Cathy and Bear

Cathy and Bear

Cathy and Bear

I thought I’d post a second picture from our walk at Lake Needwood this afternoon. In the woods, behind the boat house, is this sculpture of a bear. It’s a cool, laid back sort of bear, wearing flip-flops and sun glasses. Cathy figured it was a good day to kick back and watch the world go by, so that’s what she did. There wasn’t a lot of world going by, as it happened. There were occasional walkers but not really enough to keep you interested for long. So, we continued our walk, crossing the dam and walking on a smaller trail around to the Gude Trail before returning to out car.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

Another sunset photo today. I’ve been leaving work around the sunset hour lately (or later but getting sunset pictures from my office or from a conference room one floor up. There isn’t anything particularly special about this sunset but it’s the best of the few pictures I took today. I’m nearing 2,900 consecutive days (and 8 yeas) taking at least one photograph each day. I think one or possibly two of those days the photo was taken on my phone but the rest were taken on my Canon SLR. In that time I have taken over 160,000 photos, which is starting to get up there. A few of them are, I think, quite good.

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Turkey Soup

Turkey Soup

Turkey Soup

I’m not a huge fan of turkey, as a meat. If cooked right, in can be tender and juicy but the white meat generally has little to no flavor even at it’s best. The dark meat is better but there is relatively little of it. We eat turkey on Thanksgiving, nevertheless, and (I guess because we hosted and I cooked it) we ended up with a significant amount of leftover turkey. I pulled just about every scrap of meat off the bones, from the back, the wings, and the rest of the carcase, and made soup. It turned out well and we had that for three nights. Then I made this batch with the leftovers from what had been carved from the bird, mostly white meat but a little from the legs. Instead of pasta I put barley in this batch, and also mushrooms. It turned out quite well and was a hit with the fam.

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Dot’s Plate

Dot's Plate

Dot’s Plate

This is a plate that my mom made in 1955 and I’ve always loved it. She was at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She insists it wasn’t graduate school because she didn’t get a degree, but I still think of it as grad school. She had finished college and was in art school. Ceramics wasn’t her main thing, but they did a little of everything including painting and sculpture, as well. Her interests were in textiles and she did a lot of silk screening. I still have the curtains that she made and which we now use as drop cloths for painting. But this plate is, I think, really nice. I wish we had some clue about the composition of the glaze, which is lovely. We have her wheel and kiln and would really like to get around to using them again.

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Eagle Reflections

Eagle Reflections

Eagle Reflections

It was getting late and I hadn’t taken any pictures today. I was in the living room a looking at the reflections in the corner cupboard. I posted a picture in August (see Sunday, August 26, 2018) but I thought I’d try to get a shot with a reflection of the eagle lectern this time. The lighting was the tricky part, getting enough light on the very dark wood of the eagle without getting too much on the glass itself. This one works pretty well. It doesn’t show as much of the waviness in the glass as I’d have liked, but some, anyway. I also with the wooden door frame had been in better focus. I took some with a smaller aperture but they were not as good for other reasons. It’s hard to judge these things completely on the small display screen on the back of the camera. Still, it’s better than the old days, when we had to wait to get the film back from Kodak before we knew if we had anything useful.

Also, with the cost of film and processing coming to somewhere around 20¢ per shot, we tended to be a little more careful how many photos we took. The nominal cost for a photograph now is pretty small. Od course, there’s the cost of the hard drive divided by how many photos there are but with a six terabyte drive selling for under $200, even when you consider multiple copies of a file (you do back up your files, don’t you?), the cost is less than 1¢ per photo. If you delete your bad photos, the cost goes down, of course, because the won’t have cost you anything.

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Watts Branch Tributary

Watts Branch Tributary

Watts Branch Tributary

This is a small tributary of Watts Branch, which comes through a culvert under West Montgomery Avenue (before it becomes Key West Avenue). On the other side of the road is a small drainage pond build for storm water management and in which there were beavers living until a few years ago. It joins a larger creek that flows through another storm water management pond between my cuilding and the rest of our company’s campus. It goes back under West Montgomery Avenue again before draining into Watts Branch near the Interstate 270 interchange.

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Kai

Kai

Kai

We had a family dinner night and I took a bunch of pictures of Kai. In some of them he is being held by his great aunt Cathy and in others by his grandma, Tsai-Hong. Those are grandma’s hands in this picture. The wheel in front of Kai is actually spinning but to get that with some blur would have required a tripod and a little more planning, so just imagine it spinning and catching Kai’s attention. He’s a pretty easy going little boy, at least from what I’ve seen of him Maybe his parents would say otherwise, but he doesn’t really fuss much when we’re together or if he does, he’s easily satisfied.

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Cookbooks

Cookbooks

Cookbooks

I know these “shelfies” aren’t really all that interesting but it’s an easy out when I haven’t taken a picture. Work continues to e quite busy and I’m finding it hard to get out during the day. That means I have to take a picture somewhere around the house in the evening, unless I happen to get a nice sunrise or sunset. This is (almost) one third of a large bookcase that I built when Cathy and I were first married and we had it in our apartment in Bethesda. Ralph had it in his basement while we lived in Alaska and while we were traveling. After we got back, I had it in our apartment and then in our two houses. It’s very sturdy, with 2×4 supports sandwiched between heavy plywood for the uprights. The shelves are fixed in terms of their location, although the whole thing comes apart for transporting. There is one more tall shelf space below the five shown here and the other two sections are basically the same as this one.

The books on all but the bottom shelf in this photo are cookery books of one sort or another. Some I use a lot, others almost never. I have pulled out some to give away and will probably get rid of some that are still here. I refer to some of these books quite regularly and others quite infrequently but most of the books have contributed at least something to my cooking know how.

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Meat and Potatoes

Meat and Potatoes

Meat and Potatoes

I confess to being a meat and potatoes sort of man. I like to cook meat, as well, but of course I’m not cooking for myself only, so I cook try to prepare a balanced meal with vegetables and some sort of starch, at last most of the time. I’m trying to eat fewer carbs myself and have lost 20 pounds or so since late spring, which is a good start, anyway. Cathy and her mom took me out for dinner this evening, though, and wanted to treat me. We went to Outback and I ordered a rib-eye steak and baked potato with a bloomin’ onion on the side. As you can see, we’ve already made a pretty good dent in the onion. It’s good but since it’s mostly batter, not really all that healthy. But, you have to live once in a while and I really enjoyed this meal.

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Frost

Frost

Frost

It was chilly out this morning and everything was covered with frost. I started my car and while it was warming up a little, I took some photos of frost on the leaves in the yard. Once the sun began to hit them, the frost started to melt but I wanted to get them with the sun shining on them, so I moved around the yard as the sun moved to new leaves. I really like looking at frost and don’t mind the cold too much. It wasn’t all that cold, in any case, only for or five degrees below freezing. Colder days are almost certainly ahead for us, as winter is only just starting and doesn’t get into full swing until next month.

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Safety Pins

Safety Pins

Safety Pins

This is a small box of sefety pins in our bedroom. I really like the stark, hard lines and the different colored pins, as well as the slight variations of color in the metal within each one. It’s also nice that the pins vary in size. I am thinking about making this into a jigsaw puzzle. Or maybe I’ll take another photo with more pins covering more area. I think it would be a pretty challenging puzzle, especially with our tradition of not looking at the box top once you have started the puzzle. Do you do that? We consider it cheating, but apparently a lot of folk look at the photo on the box as a matter of course. To each his own, I suppose. But in our house we follow the rules.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

I went over to my mom’s this evening to see what was wrong with her computer. When I got there, I took a little time before going in to take some sunset pictures. I had a hard time finding a good spot to see the sky, but this spot worked out reasonably well, overlooking a shopping mall. It’s in the foreground, hidden by the dark trees, though, so that doesn’t really matter, so you can’t really tell. The color was mostly along the lower part of the sky and I took some pictures with the short telephoto lens and others with the 24mm, which on my camera is equivalent to a 35mm, more or less. This is one from the wide angle.

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Peruvian Nativity Scene

Peruvian Nativity Scene

Peruvian Nativity Scene

I posted a picture of this Peruvian nativity scene last year (see: Saturday, December 23, 2017) but that was at my mother-in-law’s house. This year it’s in our living room, on top of the piano. Also, this year I confined myself to just the people and animals that actually go with the set. Last year I included two water buffaloes (one with a boy on its back), three parrots, a llama, a cow-shaped milk-pitcher, three brass monkeys (of the speak, hear, and see no evil variety), as well as various other figures. As you can see, the Pakistani Doll I photographed and posted a few weeks ago (see: Tuesday, November 27, 2018) is still on the piano.

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Roast Pork Shoulder

Roast Pork Shoulder

Roast Pork Shoulder

A while back the local supermarket had pork roasts on sale for $0.98 per pound. That’s about half what they normally run (and even $1.99 is a pretty decent deal). I bought three and froze them. This is one of those, thawed over about four days in the refrigerator, and the roasted. It’s about 12 pounds and so cost about $12 and will feed us for a few days, at least. There are bones, of course, but it’s still a bargain price. After slicing the skin and rubbing in some salt and a fair amount of pepper, I roasted it for about four hours. The first 45 minutes are at 450°F and then I turned it down to 325°F for the rest. That was just about perfect. Of course, the best part are the strips of crispy, salty, peppery skin, but the meat was pretty juicy and tasty, too. A little mustard and some cabbage cooked with apples and mushrooms rounded out the meal (although the cabbage didn’t turn out as well as it sometimes does—I used the wrong apples).

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Christmas Tree Lights

Christmas Tree Lights

Christmas Tree Lights

These are either Christmas tree lights or we’re making the jump to hyperspace. I’m not entirely sure which. Well I am, actually. I haven’t knowingly been in hyperspace, in months, at the very least. This is our Christmas tree. Technically it’s my mother-in-law’s tree but it’s up in our house, because she lives here now and we weren’t up to getting a live tree. We made room for it by moving the sofa over and pushing the eagle lectern against the wall. The tree has lights already on it, all white, as you can see. Also, we don’t have to keep it watered and won’t have to sweep up the needles that inevitably fall.

It doesn’t have any other decorations or ornaments on it, and that’s fine by me. I’m really not very big on decorations and the fact that the tree is up and there is a nativity scene set up on the piano is pretty radical for me. I don’t dislike Christmas, in particular. It’s more that I don’t associate the colors and decorations with the actual event being celebrated. That goes double for all the “winter holiday” type items and at least triple for anything Santa (especially red-Santa, who traditionally wears white).

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Theresa, Cathy, and Susan

Theresa, Cathy, and Susan

Theresa, Cathy, and Susan

Many of us are not fond of pictures of ourselves. I know that’s true for me and it’s a bit hypocritical of me to insist that others pose for pictures and allow me to post them while I’m not particularly comfortable posing for pictures myself. Nevertheless, I do it. We had a really nice and long overdue dinner with two friends this evening, Theresa (a.k.a. Reeree) and Susan (a.k.a. Susan). It was really goot to get a bit caught up with them, although it’s been so long and so much has been going on that we didn’t really get completely caught up. But it was a start. We also had a really good Thai meal, which was a bonus. Shortly after this photo was taken, I knocked over my water glass and it shattered. A nice way to end the evening.

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Marsha and Ivon

Marsha and Ivon

Marsha and Ivon

We had our annual holiday party today. It was a bit different to recent years. When I worked for Mike and his group had diminished in size, we began going to the holiday party with the project group we worked with. That is a bit group and while I know a small fraction of the people in it, many of the people I know and work with here are in that group. I generally sat with the same people each year. This year, the various teams of technical workers who are under her in the corporate organizational structure were asked to come to a holiday party together, instead of either a smaller party of their own or the project area party. I know a reasonable number of folk in that larger group, but it was a change, none the less. Still, we had a good time, eating and bowling. This is Marsha (on the left) and her right hand, Ivonzetta. I can’t say I know either of them very well but Marsha sat at our table during the meal and I spoke with them both more today than I have in total up to this point.

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Coral and Shells

Coral and Shells

Coral and Shells

When we are at the beach, Cathy like to look for shells and coral. She is especially fond of coral, and probably collects more of that than all types of shells combined. There is a small bowl in our bathroom with some of her finds, which, as you can see, have included some pretty nice coral samples. I don’t really know a lot about the corals found in the western Atlantic so I’d just be making a totally uninformed guess if I were to venture an opinion on genus or even family. I’d be interested if anyone who knows about these things were to offer more information. I’m more a shell gatherer, partly because I haven’t the patience to look for coral, although I’ve found a piece or two over the years. The two pointy shells here are from snails and the one between them is a bivalve, but that’s as specific as I’m going to get. For anyone interested, this Marine Species Identification Portal looks pretty helpful.

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Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

I went out and drove around the neighborhood late this evening to get some pictures. It was raining lightly when I went out but started raining quite hard before I got back. Mostly I took pictures of Christmas lights, sometimes holding the camera steady and other times moving it about a little during a longish exposure. This one was not blurred by movement but is focused on the driver-side window with the lights themselves out of focus, but brought somewhat into focus in the drops of rain on the glass. I also took pictures of the large, old, house in our neighborhood that was built in 1914, predating the major development by more than 50 years. Those look a bit spooky, which I like, although the house isn’t haunted, as far as I know.

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Clouds at Night

Clouds at Night

Clouds at Night

Dorothy got home late last night. Well, technically she got home early this morning, at about 1:30 AM. She slept in today and I went to work. Before I left work it rained very hard and my car is having problems when I drive through deep puddles, so I had to be careful getting home. After I did get home, we went out to run some errands and as we left the house, this storm cloud was billowing up above us. The photo, taken at 1/25 second at f/2.8 at an ISO of 6,400, doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s the picture I have for today. You’ll have to trust me when I say it looked really cool in real life. The noise produced by the camera sensor wasn’t something we saw in real time.

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Clopper Lake, Seneca Creek State Park

Clopper Lake, Seneca Creek State Park

Clopper Lake, Seneca Creek State Park

We were out and about today. Cathy, Dorothy, and I made a trip to the Lancaster Dutch Market where it seemed half the county had gathered. In spite of the crowds, the line at the butcher was relatively short and I bought a few things. Cathy waited in the much longer line for pretzels and sausage rolls (which are the main reason we went, they are amazing). From there we drove to Seneca Creek State Park and drove through, seeing the lights that have been set up as a money maker for the park (and which we have no real desire to wait in line for after dark). I took a few pictures of Clopper Lake and like this one pretty well. I made bangers and mash for dinner, with roasted garlic and Parmesan cheese added to the mash. Comfort food.

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Shady Grove Ensemble

Shady Grove Ensemble

Shady Grove Ensemble

The ensemble played at church this morning and we really enjoyed the music. A few instruments are nice but there’s nothing that really compares to the depth and richness of an orchestra. Of course this doesn’t qualify as an orchestra, but it’s as close as a church this size is likely to get. It’s worth it. In addition to the saxiphone, trumpets, flutes, oboe, baritone, euphonium, and viola seen here, there is a trombone on the far right and another sax, a few clarinets, and more flutes on the left. On stage is a piano and drums. All in all, a very nice sound.

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Christmas Beads

Christmas Beads

Christmas Beads

As I mentioned a little while ago, we didn’t do a lot of decorating for Christmas. We put up the artificial tree, which already has lights on it, and I put up the Peruvian nativity scene on the piano. Other than that, not much. A few days ago, Cathy and Dorothy added a little to the tree. Mostly this included garlands of sparkling tinsel and a few long strands of red and gold glass beads. This is one of the strands of gold, and I like the way it shines in the light of the tree lights. This will almost certainly be the last of my Christmas decoration pictures for the year. Tomorrow we’ll celebrate Christmas first at our house and then at mom’s apartment.

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Christmas

Dot with Silas and Kai

Dot with Silas and Kai

As predicted yesterday (and since I wrote it after the fact, there wasn’t much chance of it being wrong), we celebrated Christmas at our house in the morning and then in the early afternoon went to mom’s apartment for our family gathering. For quite a few years, our tradition has been to go to Cathy’s parents’ house for breakfast and opening presents there. Because Margaret has moved here, we had the same breakfast but in our house. That consists of pancakes, poached eggs (steamed, actually), and bacon. There is butter, syrup, and jam to go on the pancakes. Many years it has included sausages but I didn’t have any this year. It’s a pretty satisfying breakfast.

Steve and Kai

Steve and Kai

At about 2:00 we went to my mom’s and gathered with the rest of the family. I got a few pictures of Tsai-Hong with her two grandchildren but decided that I’d post this one of Dot with her two great grandchildren (the same two kids, Silas and Kai, in both cases, obviously). Getting a good picture of both kids, with both of them looking at the camera is a crap shoot, and this isn’t perfect, but they’re cute enough to make up for it.

The final picture is after Steve and Kai blew out the candles on Kai’s birthday cake, to celebrate his recent birthday. It’s a pretty happy moment. Naturally, the candles came back on, because that’s a family tradition, as well.

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Persian Carpet

Persian Carpet

Persian Carpet

After we took up the wall to wall carpet in our living room, we planned to put down a large rug that was at Cathy’s mom’s house. Because I having actually finished, though, we haven’t done that yet. There is still carpet under a bookcase, the TV, and the piano. We could probably fit the rug in already, but simply haven’t done so. In the meantime, we’ve put this rug down in the middle of the room. It’s too small for the space, actually, but it keeps the coffee table from sliding on the hardwood. It’s also a very nice rug in its own right adding color to the room.

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Black Rock Mill

Seneca Creek

Seneca Creek

This morning, when I went to take pictures off my camera’s memory card, it started with December 25. The last pictures on my computer had been from December 23 and for a little while I worried that I hadn’t taken any on the 24th. That wouldn’t have been the end of the world, of course, but I’ve gone nearly eight years taking at least one picture a day and I was upset to think that I might have missed a day. It turns out that the script I use to copy files started in the wrong place for some reason and I had pictures from the 24th (which I thought was the case).

I worked on Monday and again yesterday but today I decided to take the day off. Dorothy and I went to the Lancaster County Dutch Market in Germantown and then to Black Rock Mill, on Seneca Creek.

Seneca Creek

Seneca Creek

The first picture is looking downstream from the the banks of the creek, standing just below the mill. As you can see, it was a beautiful, cool day. The second picture is just a small bit of rapids in the creek. I think it’s a pretty picture and I love the colors of the water, as they tumble over a few small rocks. I took a few pictures of the mill, as well, and if you’ve never been there, it’s an interesting piece of history. There isn’t a lot to see, but the mill stone and some of the large gears are still there inside the building, which is otherwise basically an empty shell.

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Have I Got Dogs?

Dogs

Dogs

When Dorothy was little, one of the books we got from the library that we all really enjoyed was called Have I Got Dogs! by William Cole and illustrated by Margot Apple. It’s a really fun book and we had most of it memorized, as you do with children’s books that you read over and over. Cathy happens to have a small collection of dog figurines and they are on top of a short bookcase in our sitting room. It needs to be dusted and I’m sorry for revealing that even to my very limited audience, but the dogs themselves don’t seem to mind, so why should we. My personal favorite is the dog with the bone in his mouth, just to the right of center in this photo. I also like the little fellow eating or drinking from a plate in the lower left. “Have I got dogs, pedigrees and mutts, I have so many, some people think I’m nuts” (or something to that effect).

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American Sycamore

American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Cathy and I took a walk in the neighborhood this afternoon. It was cool but the sky was an amazing blue and I stopped a few times to take pictures of trees against that blue. There are few that are prettier in the winter than the pale sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) against that blue and that’s what we have here. Just before I took this picture, we passed a yard with a large oak tree that had a fairly substantial branch which had broken off and which was suspended above the driveway and yard on some lower branches. The homeowner was trying to get a rope over the branch so he could pull it down. He was wearing a helmet and throwing a rope with a wrench tied to the end as a weight. It was pretty high up and by the time we got past he still hadn’t managed to get it high enough, but I assume he eventually did. Ah, the joys of home ownership.

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Sedum and Moss

Sedum and Moss

Sedum and Moss

In a small pot outside our front door is a tiny little sedum with moss growing around it. This is a surprisingly hardy little plant, being able to take single digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures in an above ground container without any significant problems. We aren’t sure which sedum it is, but Cathy’s guess was that it’s “Red dragon” which seems quite reasonable. The moss in this photo, with its two calyptrae (the spore bearing capsules), is a volunteer, but mosses are generally welcome here. The only places the grow that I would prefer they didn’t is between the shingles on the roof of our garage. I like them otherwise and would happily have a garden devoted to them, if I had the time and space.

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Well, it’s been another year. Here we are on December 31. In a few minutes it will be 2019 and we’ll all write the wrong year for a few weeks until we get used to it and can’t write anything else without concentrating.

This bottle of Champagne has been in our fridge for a while. It’s pretty sweet and has an almond flavor that’s not terrible but isn’t fabulous, either. But I thought it would make a nice New Year photo.

This is the end of my eighth year of taking at least one picture every day. That’s 2,922 days (but who’s counting?). Will I keep going in 2019? Who knows? Since I got this camera at Christmas, 2010, I’ve taken 161,548 photos on it. That’s an average of about 55 per day, although this year it’s been more like 33 per day. Even in these days of digital photos taken with our phones, I think I’m holding my own. A few of the photos are even worth remembering.

So, here’s to 2019. It’s a new year (just like every day) so make the most of it. Happy New Year.

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