Solomon is our pet red-lored amazon parrot (Amazona autumnalis) and he just turned 33 years old last month. We don’t know specifically when he was hatched but he was about nine months old when we got him in October, 1986, so we figure January of that year is close enough. Since it’s now February, we know that’s past. He’s a pretty thing but fairly timid and is not really what you’d call a talker. He says a few things that you can almost understand but that’s about it. He also doesn’t chew on toys or anything else we put in his cage, so we don’t bother any more. He obviously eats but he’s not interested in chewing other things. He needs his beak and nails trimmed but otherwise, he’s in pretty good shape. You can see in this photo that he has new feathers coming in, which is always a good sign.
Monthly Archives: February 2019
It was a relatively uneventful day today. I got some things done that have been hanging over me for quite a long time. Well, to be more precise, I got started on some things that have been hanging over me for quite a long time, but that’s a big step to getting them finished. There was a team of men working on cutting a tree down in the neighborhood and I took some pictures of that but then we had a pretty nice sunset, so this picture took precedence. It’s wasn’t a stunning sunset but it was very pretty, I think.
It was a pretty normal, overcast, somewhat dreary, winter’s day today. No rain or snow but cool and damp. The ground is completely saturated and there is some leftover snow scattered around. It’s warmer than it’s been and forecast to be in the 60s this week. This is the remains of a black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia species). We leave them through the winter for the birds, although most of them don’t get eaten by the spring. Sometimes we’ll see goldfinches (Spinus tristis) or dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis up in them, but food is never really scarce around here.
Looking around for something new to photograph this evening I decided on the inlay on a small side table brought from my mother-in-law’s house. The pieces of the inlay are pretty small, mostly on the order of 1.5 to 2.5 millimeters. The table has what would be described on Antiques Roadshow as “condition issues” but they aren’t terribly obvious at a glance. Partly because there are always a few books covering them up. It could probably be repaired but it would be fiddly work.
Having a small work shop in the basement, I naturally have things that I use more frequently and other things that I use less frequently. Wire is something I use less frequently, but still occasionally. It’s worth having a few gauges of wire around, both stranded and solid, as it doesn’t take up a lot of space and when you need it, you really need it. This wire dispenser sits on a shelf behind the radial arm saw, so the wire tends to get a bit of saw dust on it, but that doesn’t do it any harm. It’s a handy way to store and have wire available on those occasions when I need a little. Admittedly, that’s not very often.
I have a few plans that call for wire and I’d really like to get to them but with one thing and another, I never seem to get to them. One of them involves converting a Kodak Carouse slide projector into a slide “scanner” so I can digitize our fairly extensive collection of slides. Something like this is available commercially but $3,395 price tag put me off a little. That’s about what I spend on a car. Anyway, I have a few projectors lying around and figured it’s worth giving it a go. I don’t actually need much in the way of new wire for that project, but a little. The idea is to replace the high-power halogen bulb in the projector with an LED array and then put a diffusing screen between that and the slide. Mounting my camera with a macro lens pointing into the front of the projector, I should be able to get reasonable photos of the slides. The whole thing would be controlled with a few relays and some relatively simple code. Ask me in a year if I’ve actually gotten around to it, though.
These aren’t flowers, of course, as the deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara) being a gymnosperm is a non-flowering plant (the angiosperms are the flowering plants). These are the cones of a deodar cedar growing near one of the buildings on our company campus. It’s getting to be a fair size tree, with branches large enough to sit on comfortably. My grandparent’s had a deodar in their front yard in North Carolina and I’ve always been fond of them, especially when they get a little larger and start to develop their characteristic cedar shape rather than the more conical shape of the younger trees. They are native to the Himalayas and we’re near the northern edge of their hardiness range but there are enough around that it seems safe to plant one, if you have the space (which most suburban yards definitely do not have).
We don’t have a lot of silver. It just isn’t “in” like it was in the past. No one cares all that much and silverware is generally not worth much (if any) more than the value of the silver it contains. The price of silver is currently at $15.61 per troy ounce (1.097143 ounces avoirdupois) and Sterling is 92.5% silver, so the price of Sterling is about $14.44 per troy ounce (or $13.16 per ounce). Not a huge amount. We use our silver for actual serving, since there isn’t much point in having it and not using it. The very ornate piece here, with the flowers on it, is a serving spoon by S. Kirk & Son and the pattern is called Repousse. Under that, with the grape vines, is a gravy ladle by ‘1847 Rogers Bros.’ The pattern is called Vintage and it was first production 1904.
A basidiomycete walks into a bar but the bartender tells him he’ll have to leave. He says, “But I’m a fungi!” I needed to get out of my office today so I took my camera and went out into the woods next to my building. There are a few snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) starting to bloom along the edge of the woods, which is encouraging. I also came across the carcass of a deer. There wasn’t a lot left except bones and it explained the presence of so many turkey vultures circling over head. This bit of fungus caught my eye, because of the variations of color. Very pretty, in a decaying sort of way. The ground is very wet and I really need some Wellington boots when it’s like this. I managed to stay mostly dry, though.
Some of the individual items in this photograph have appeared here before but I don’t think I’ve posted a picture showing the desk at large. On the left, hanging by one hand from the bookcase, is Edmund, a paper mache (a.k.a. Papier-mâché) monkey. Actually, when I asked Cathy if he had a name she said he did not. Then she said if he did it would be Edmund. Coco the stuffed baboon in 3,5, the bridal couple in 1,3, and the little blue pitcher in 2,4 have been photographed for posts before, so if they look familiar, that’s why.
It was cool but nice out today but we were indoors for most of the day. In the late afternoon I really wanted to get outdoors, at least for a little,and take a picture or two. We often walk around the block but I didn’t really want to do that. There generally isn’t much to photograph, especially this time of year, unless I’m willing to walk up into peoples’ yards and possibly lie on the ground. That’s not really my style. I suggested we drive to the other end of the neighborhood, park at the park, and walk a little ways in the woods. We went down stream to where there are two bridges crossing the streams and then back up the other side. The woods are mostly American beech (
We had a bit of freezing rain overnight and the trees and bushes were covered with a thin layer of ice in the morning. The local school system had a two hour delay this morning and that meant our commute was that much easier. In spite of the ice on branches and the school delay, the roads were wet but not icy. I took this photo of ice on an Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) twig next to where I parked at work. It rained pretty much all day.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, it rained pretty much all day yesterday after there was freezing rain the night before. Overnight the water on my car’s windows formed quite large ice crystals. They were hard to get a good picture of but I tried, anyway. The problems is the lack of contrast in the crystals. Thus picture doesn’t actually show much detail in the ice but I like the way the wet ice crystals make the view beyond the window into a somewhat abstract image.
I really enjoy being around water. I especially like moving water but a still pond can also be wonderful. Moving water, though, has so much to offer. There is the texture of the surface, which is moving and yet the patterns are nearly still, frozen in shape by the rocks or logs over which it moves. There are also colors, which are sometimes quite subtle, that dance in the slight shifts of the water’s surface. And of course, there are the sounds. I love the sound of running water, which can say “cool and calm” when the stream is small, like this one, but can roar with power and fury when a larger stream or river drops over an edge. This is the small stream that passes my office building and although its bed has been altered to fit the development, the water and its movement is undiminished.
I happened to notice the color coming in the front windows this morning so I grabbed my camera and went out front to get a few pictures. There’s not a good, unobstructed view to the east without walking a little ways and since it was only aboutg 25°F (-4°C) and I was barefoot, I wasn’t going to go too far or stay out too long. I did walk onto the lawn, which has been wet and which is now nicely frozen. That’s somehow colder than the ramp or the pavement of the driveway. It was certainly worth going out for, especially seeing as how I was up. The color only lasted about ten minutes and it was gone. Another ephemeral sunrise.
This fairly large chunk of petrified wood was used for many years as a door stop at my grandparents house in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and I can still see it there. When we cleaned out their house in the early 1980s, my mom took it and when we cleaned out her house last year, I did. For now, it’s on a shelf in our upstairs office, which is mostly a storage room for various things at present. We’ve slowly but surely (well, slowly, anyway) going through things and reducing the amount of stuff and this room is in pretty bad shape. If I can get my slide digitizer built and working, perhaps I can eliminate a significant amount of stuff in that room, which has all my photographs from when I bought my first camera in 1979 or so to when I switched to digital in 2003. There are also notebooks of slides from my grandfather, various boxes of negatives, and miscellaneous other items to be scanned. It isn’t going to be finished anytime soon.
Cathy and I worked most of the day moving things around in our house. One room that has become a catch-all for boxes and miscellaneous bric-a-brac is our guest bedroom. However, Cathy’s cousin and his wife are coming this week so we sort of need to clear it out. It’s high time we did, so that’s fine. We were able to get rid of a few things, mostly things that were not worth even donating, but mostly we just organized and moved things around. The more thorough going through is yet to be done. I did go out briefly to take four boxes of books as a donation for resale and got rid of a half dozen empty boxes that we no longer need. In the afternoon I took some pictures in the yard but none of them are anything to write home about. The moon was pretty, though, so I thought I’d post that for today’s picture.
As you know, if you’ve been following me for a while, my mom moved from the house she lived in for 59 years into a retirement community nearby. As they do with most new residents they published a short bio of her for the community paper. In that she talked about some of the art she has created over the years and she was asked if they might display a sample in their small gallery. They have a dozen or so display cases like the one shown here and she gave them some painted china and some small quilt work that she has done, to be displayed for six months.
I saw the display a month or so ago but Cathy wasn’t with us that day so after brunch with mom today we went to see it. The plates she painted include a nuthatch in the upper left, which is actually displayed incorrectly with the bird appearing to be on the ground instead of creeping down the trunk of a tree, as they do. At the upper right is a white-throated sparrow and the two birds on the lower plates are a black-capped chickadee on a wild rose (left) and a Carolina wren. The small quilt at the back of the bottom of the display was inspired by a Pablo Picasso painting of fish on a plate.
She has much more, of course, and has made quite a few much larger quilts but they would not fit into the display case. Also, most of the quilts have been distributed to her children and grandchildren. She showed us one she is working on now and I took a picture of her with that but decided to keep it secret until it is finished and given to its recipient.
I’m not particularly proud of this photo, taken in my kitchen this evening, but at least it keeps up my unbroken streak of taking a photo a day. You might be thinking, “if you’re going to be posting pictures like this, then I’m not sure how significant it is that you post one for every day.” There’s a part of me that’s very inclined to agree with you. On the other hand, if I had to say, “I’ve taken a photograph every day for over eight years with the exception of one day when I couldn’t find anything interesting,” well, that would just be annoying. So, here you are. Hopefully things will pick up from here.
Cathy and I went to DCA (also known as Reagan National Airport) early this evening to pick up her cousin and his wife, flying in from the northwest. Traffic was its usual horrendous self. There was an accident on the inner loop with all but one lane blocked by fire trucks and police. That slowed us considerably on the outer loop but boded even worse for our homeward journey. While at the airport I took a very few pictures but they include this one of a taxi stand waiting above Terminal B. I wonder how much change there has been in the taxi business here due to app-based ride-finding services like Lyft and Uber. My guess would be that it’s made a substantial difference but I really don’t know and don’t use either taxis or Lyft/Uber enough to have any feel for the difference in price or level of service.
The forecast was for snow and freezing rain overnight and the local school systems had already cancelled classes for today as early as yesterday evening. Nothing was coming down when we went to bed, just after midnight. When I got up this morning there was maybe as much as half an inch on the ground. I took a few pictures then out the front door. A little later, just before 9:00 AM, I took more pictures out the back door, including this one. By that point there was maybe a little more than two inches on the ground. By the time I’m actually posting this, about 2:00 PM, the snow has stopped falling and there is about five inches. I’m fortunate in that I can work from home without any trouble. I’d much rather take a day off and go for a walk in the snow, but they like me to work for my pay, so I work.
Most people have relatives of one sort or another. We have quite a few but we know a lot more of them on my side than on Cathy’s. She’s been doing a fair amount of digging into her ancestors on both her mom and her dad’s sides and has learned quite a bit. Of course, she has living relatives, and we know some names but haven’t been in touch with many of them for quite a while. Margaret’s sister was older than her by nearly 19 years. In consequence, Margaret’s has nieces and nephews who were only a few years younger than her. Benje is only a few years younger than Cathy and me but he’s Dorothy’s generation. He came to visit Cathy’s family once and Cathy and I met him when we lived in Alaska, but it’s been more than 30 years. We were very happy to have him and his wife visit us for a few days this week. We had a really good time talking about the family, looking at old pictures, and basically getting to know each other.
I mentioned recently that I’m planning to attempt to retrofit a Kodak Carousel slide projector into a slide digitizer. I’ve begun to make purchases towards that end. I already have a few projectors. The most complicated parts, which are anything to do with electronics, will be replacing the light source. The 300 watt halogen bulb is very bright and very hot. LEDs generate some heat, as well, but not as much. This is the light source I have picked. It’s 50 watts and should give me a nice, even illumination. I’ll put some pearled glass between it and the slide, to further even things out. I also bought a heat sink with an attached fan and a driver for the light that runs on household current.
We had a family dinner this evening with most of the locals there. As is my custom, I took a few pictures. Actually, I took quite a few more than I have most recent gatherings. I’m happy to say that I got a good number of decent photos of the boys. Silas is really starting to show his own personality and is much more aware of what’s going on around him. While he’s not quite crawling, it won’t be long. I got a good picture of him laughing but I’ve decided to post this photo of him with his grandma, Tsai-Hong, instead. I posted a photo of her with Kaien on Friday, March 31, 2017 and it’s only fair that I post one of her with her second grandson.
I learned this evening that Seth and Iris (and Silas) are moving in a few weeks. Fortunately this is a local move so that they can be closer to work. We still don’t know what their long-term job situations will be and we all hope they’ll be able to stay in this area. But, you have to go where the jobs are.
We have two storage lockers with things from Cathy’s mom’s house. This is the first of the two and it’s a bit disorganized. That being said, there’s a lot of stuff in there and organizing it would be a pretty big job, probably an all day job. At one point I pulled a bunch of stuff out into the hallway and put together two sets of shelves along the right hand wall. That helped because there are things that can’t really be stacked on top of and the shelf space is much more efficient for those things. That’s not to say that everything that should be on the shelves go move, of course. The boxes in the middle of this photo have books (towards the bottom) and china and other kitchen and dining ware (towards the top). There are also a few slides in boxes through the ten by ten foot room. You can see some of them in the plastic bins and also the Kodak carousels against the back wall.
This is part of the pattern on a jaguar skin that we found in my in-laws’ basement. It was in a barrel that had been sealed and managed to survive in reasonable condition. We figure that it’s been there since the mid 1960s and have no idea how long before that it was actually brought here. Cathy’s grandmother lived in Peru for many years and brought quite a few animals back as well as some furs. Among other things, she had a pet ocelot, a coatimundi, and a vicuña as well as many birds. The Coati ended up in the National Zoo, I believe. We have the skin from Perla, her pet vicu&#xn1;a. Obviously a jaguar is a whole other matter and as best we know, she never had one as a pet. I certainly isn’t something we expected to find and we’re not sure what to do with it. Since it was brought here, quite a few laws have been enacted prohibiting or limiting sale of such items. Probably most significant is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which was passed in 1973. It is “an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.” It also limits the sale of animal parts owned prior to implementation. Not that we want to sell this and it’s not really in top condition, in any case. As you can see from this picture, trade in furs of endangered species makes jaguars sad.
I’m not really a big Happy Hour celebrant and I don’t do a lot with people from work outside of work hours. Nevertheless, I went out with eight others from work today and enjoyed myself. It had been a particularly rough day, with a problem on a system I’m developing that I could not figure out. It made no sense and nothing I did seemed to make any difference. Finally I gave up and figured I’d have better success looking at it again in the morning. Then I went out and took some pictures, including this one, before meeting my friends in Uncle Julio’s for an hour or so. I’m pretty pleased with this picture, showing the pond at the Rio as well as Copper Canyon Grill and various other buildings behind it.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I met some friends from work at Uncle Julio’s for happy hour. It hadn’t been a particularly happy day and I decided I would benefit from socializing as opposed to coming home and reading or more likely dwelling on my frustrations. Shortly after everyone got there my phone rang. It was Cathy saying she had a flat tire. She ended up taking an Uber to where she was going and I picked her up from there a little later.
We went to work together today and I attached a pump to the flat tire to see if it would hold air at all. Almost immediately I notice the head of a screw in the treads and figured it wasn’t worth the effort. It wasn’t going to hold air. Around lunchtime I went over to her building and put on the spare. I would normally joke that the tire was only flat on the bottom but as you can see, it held its shape pretty well. This was taken with the tire in the back of the van. I was happy to find that the spare had air.
Just one of those things.
It’s hard to believe the day has finally arrived. Well, actually it hasn’t. The day is tomorrow but I went over to my mother-in-law’s house today to get the very last thing out (a dehumidifier from the basement) and to take one last set of pictures. I could always stop out front and take pictures but it won’t be the same. As of noon tomorrow this house will belong to new owners. We don’t know a lot about them but they sound like a nice family and they seem really excited to be moving into this house. I certainly served Cathy’s family well and was a good home for 50 years. But time marches on and things change. We’re glad it’s going to a young family and we wish them every happiness. While change can be hard, and getting to this day has been a struggle, this particular change is a blessed relief.