With closing on her mom’s house earlier today, I had planned on a celebratory dinner. Margaret already had plans to attend the Missions Banquet at church today, so we’ll have the real celebration next week. Cathy and I decided to go out, anyway, although we didn’t eat anywhere fancy. We went to BGR The Burger Joint, which was fine. The concept of a “gourmet burger” is something of an oxymoron, but it was a good burger, anyway. It was raining pretty hard but we decided to walk from BGR to the Barnes and Noble at the other end of the outdoor mall. We stopped along the way under cover at Copper Canyon Grill and I took a few pictures of Cathy by their fire. It’s a shame that they have to put up a heavy, metal fence to keep people from burning themselves, but I suspect either their insurance company or the local government insisted.
Monthly Archives: March 2019
The snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) along the edge of the woods near my office have been in bloom for a week or more. Those in our yard are in a more sheltered spot and tend to bloom later but they are coming out now. Early this afternoon I decided to take some pictures of them with snow all around them. I got a few like that but decided I like this close up better, even though it doesn’t show the snow. They’re not really open in this picture but they open up on warm days before closing up at night. With yesterday’s snowfall, they have gone back into winter mode but it won’t be long before they are open for good. The daffodils are also coming up and showing signs of buds in amongst the leaves. It’s still winter here, but spring is coming.
There was snow in the forecast for this afternoon and this evening and we got it. Someone had said that we’d be getting two feet of snow, but nothing approaching that was ever in any official forecast that I saw. We got somewhere under a half inch and that only on grassy areas. The roadways we were on never had any accumulation. It’s also supposed to be colder this week, with temperatures in the mid 20s or even down into the teens one or two nights this week. The forecasters on the radio are breathlessly telling us about the “bitter cold“ weather we can expect. I’m sorry but I can’t get too exercised about temperatures around 20°F. I wouldn’t describe that as warm, of course. It’s cold, but definitely not “bitter cold.“ I’m happy with anything below zero being described as bitter. I might even grant “bitter“ status to single digit temperatures. But not low to mid twenties. Sorry.
The couple that bought Margaret’s house gave her this bromeliad at closing, along with a very sweet card thanking her for choosing their offer and making their “dream of home ownership a reality.” We’re not very experienced with growing bromeliads but what I’ve read seems to indicate they aren’t all that difficult. They don’t need to be watered in the usual way and many of them don’t even have roots that take in nourishment. Instead, the cups formed by their leaves should be filled with water and that’s really all there is to it. They are not terribly long lived and often die after blooming but of course their blooms are what they are mostly grown for. They will often produce off-shoots, which can be cut off and potted up to replace the “parent” plant.
I once designed a house that has a conservatory inspired in large part by the Peirce-duPont House at Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. In that, I imagined at the very least a section devoted to tropical plants, including ferns, orchids, and bromeliads. I’m very unlikely to ever build the house, of course, but I can picture it in my mind’s eye and enjoy the serenity of the indoor garden, sitting in a wicker chair with a pot of tea and a good book.
Margaret, Cathy, and I were invited to dinner this evening by Karen and Tim, who are visiting from Michigan. They are staying at the home of some other friends who graciously hosted us, along with a few others. We had a nice time talking about their work with an eye hospital in Afghanistan as well as various other travels. It was a pleasant evening with good food and enjoyable people. I only took a few photos but this one of Tim and Karen with Margaret turned out pretty well.
I took a few pictures as I walked across campus to a meeting early this afternoon and then a few more on the way back. On the way over I saw a flock of native sparrows bopping around in the underbrush and took a few pictures but really they were too far away to get anything worth posting. I also took some pictures of the ripples on the stream that flows through the property. On the way back I looked for the sparrows but they seem to have moved on. There were, however, a few American robins (Turdus migratorius) pulling worms out of the grass. Although they are migratory, we have them year round here, with those that migrate from New England and Canada only making it this far south for the winter.
At closing for Margaret’s house last Friday, Mary gave her a box of Belgian chocolates to celebrate the deal. She often gives this sort of thing away but thought that maybe this time she’d keep it for herself. With Dorothy and her friends coming on Friday, she thought maybe she wouldn’t even offer to share, as if she did, they’d disappear pretty quickly. I took a few pictures of them this evening for my photo of the day. Not the most inspiring picture I’ve taken, but they do look good. I can’t tell you how they taste, of course, because she’s not sharing. Actually, she offered me one but I declined. They belong to her and it’s her celebration.
We got this watch out of the safe deposit box recently to show Cathy’s cousin and his wife. It belonged to Cathy’s grandfather, Benje’s great grandfather. It was made by the Waltham Watch Company and is a Model 1892. This is the second version of the model, with the serial number next to the barrel bridge. It’s not in perfect condition but it’s still very nice and we keep it in the safe as much to keep it from being knocked around as anything else. I believe this watch was manufactured in or around 1896, based on the serial number. Because it was made as early as that, when D. B. was only 12 years old, it may have belonged to his father before him or of course he could have bought it used.
Dorothy drove down for spring break with five of her friends, arriving around 11:00 last night. Today we drove up to Pennsylvania for the day. When this trip was planned they talked about camping but as the date approached it was clear that wasn’t going to be realistic. When we got there, there was about six inches of snow on the ground. We were able to get a fire going and cleared off the log benches so we could sit around it. We took a few short walks but mostly stayed close. It was cool but the sky was clear and there was no wind to speak of so it was very pleasant. Dorothy set out a beach chair and did some reading. This isn’t the stereotypical spring break but everyone seemed to have a good time.
It’s Lenten rose time again. With the recent snow and heavy rain, they are looking decidedly unhappy, but the blooms are coming and should soon be out in full. This one, a Helleborus called ‘Mango Magic’, it the furthest along of those in the yard. There is a very large one with deep burgundy flowers that’s doing well, also and probably needs to be divided up into three or four plants. I do love the deep color of that one but the brightness of this one and a few others we have are quite nice, as well.
I know I posted a picture of snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) on Saturday, March 02, 2019 but the flowers were not really open then and they are now. Our yard is fairly shady and the spring blooms seem to be a week or so behind those that get full sun. We have a few clmps of snow drops in the yard. Those I photographed last time are by the sidewalk. These are in the back yard. They are certainly a welcome sign of spring, often blooming when there is still snow on the ground (thus the name, I assume). I love the little touch of green on the central part of the flower. Green is fairly uncommon as a flower color, I assume because it’s so common on the leaves themselves. But it makes a nice change.
The snow drops are generally followed by the winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) and the Lenten rose (Helleborus species). One Lenten rose is already blooming but the others are just starting to come out. I suspect I’ll have more pictures of them soon.
As I mentioned on the picture of Dorothy lounging in the snow the other day (see Saturday, March 09, 2019), Dorothy is here with some friends. These are two of them and they are engaged (to each other). Andrew and Dorothy enjoy playing music together as the group Kinsman. Rachel is a fellow art student with Dorothy. We have met them both a time or two but didn’t really get to know them at all until this week. I see why Dorothy likes them both, individually and as a couple. Getting a good picture of them has been a challenge, in part because they aren’t crazy about having their picture taken.
There was a lot of stuff in Cathy’s mom’s house, including a surprising number of things that Cathy had never seen. The jaguar skin that I posted a picture of recently was one example. This gold pendant in the shape of a camel is another. Specifically, this is a dromedary, the one-humped camel (Camelus dromedarius), currently existing only as a domestic or feral animal, having been first domesticated in Somalia or the Arabian Peninsula about 4,000 years ago. There are two species of two-humped camels, the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) and the wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus), which until recently was assumed to have descended from feral domesticated Bactrian camels. Genetic studies have shown it to be a separate species.
It was a beautiful day today and I needed to get out of my office for a few minutes to clear my head. I’ve been working on two specific problems with one of the systems I’m working on. I’m pretty sure I managed to get one of them solved and settled. The other is proving to be a little trickier but I’ve managed to get it pretty close to working. Sometimes it’s useful to step away for a little bit and think about something else. Then when you come back, you can see it with somewhat fresher eyes. I find that I often come up with new ideas at that point. This is true in other realms than programming. When I’m working on a crossword puzzle and get about as much done as I can manage, putting it down and walking away and then picking it up later is generally all I need to find some new answers. Today’s foray out into the woods let me to a bunch of moss, and that’s what today’s photo features.
As mentioned a few days ago, the winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is coming into bloom. It’s a very hardy little plant, growing from a small, sort of misshapen tuber, native to the northern Mediterranean coast from southern France, across northern Italy, and down the eastern coast of the Adriatic and east to the western shores of the Black Sea. It’s very slow growing and the few that survived from my initial planting are only still only producing a handful of flowers. I should probably plant more, but last year was mostly a write-off in terms of gardening. We’re hoping to do quite a bit more this year.
Cathy and I helped Seth and Iris move this morning. Their new apartment is very nice and their shorter commute will be a real blessing for them, I suspect. I’ve said at times that I’m getting too old to help people move but this is family and anyway, they don’t have a huge amount of stuff. One small truck load of furniture and two van loads of other stuff and we were done. The carpeting on the floor will be nice for Silas as he continues learning to crawl and the apartment will be easier to baby-proof than where they were. Silas was really good throughout the whole process although I wonder if he understands enough to wonder what was going on. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that I took quite a few pictures of him. I’m really pleased with a few of them, including this one. What a cute kid.
After church we walked over to the Stadtman Preserve, where hundreds of daffodils are coming up and a few blooming. There were also huge drifts of winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) although they were almost entirely past their bloom. There were also a very few of these Chionodoxa forbesii flowers. With the common name glory of the snow, it’s no surprise that they bloom early and they are definitely one of my favorite flowers, especially among the spring ephemerals. It is native to western Turkey and is hardy as far north as USDA zone 3. Those growing in my garden are considerably behind, but I’m looking forward to having them bloom in a few weeks.
This is, I think, my new favorite Lenten rose. I have two of them, bought from McClure and Zimmerman in the fall of 2014 but this is the first year the blooms have been what I might describe as fully formed. They are a variety called Red Racer but they don’t seem to be listed on the mzbulb web site any longer. Other outlets seem to have them, though. I really love flowers (and leaves) of this sort of color, especially when back lit. These aren’t in the best location it terms of the sun shining on them from behind, but it was just filtering through the shrubbery behind them this evening.
The so-called Dutch crocus (Crocus vernus and its cultivars) is native to the mountains of Europe, the Pyrenees, Alps and Carpathians. The name crocus comes from krokos (κρόκος) the ancient Greek name for saffron (Crocus sativus). While crocuses prefer gritty, well-drained soils they do amazingly well in our heavy, clay soil that is totally water logged all winter most years. This one is growing in a bed of lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) and Vinca minor in our back yard. There are also some daffodils and hyacinths that are starting to come up bu those won’t be in bloom for a little while yet.
I hope you won’t mind one more Hellebore. This one is called ‘Rose Quartz’ and like the crocus pictured yesterday, it is in the bed out back with lily of the valley and Vinca minor. This is only its second year blooming and while there are more flowers this year, it’s still not a huge, robust plant yet. Lenten rose is a long-lived perennial and although they take a while to get established, they take very little care and are quite sturdy. The Latin name for the genus, Helleborus, comes from the Greek helein (ἑλεῖν), meaning “to injure”, and bora (βορά), meaning “food” because the leaves, stems, and roots are poisonous to humans.
I’m not going to pretend that most of my followers have never seen one of these before, because it hasn’t actually been that long since there were rotary phones in every house. In the 1960s, mom took Ralph and me to the New York World’s Fair and we got to time ourselves dialing our home phone number on both a rotary dial phone and a touch tone phone. Needless to say, the difference was pretty significant. I remember how you hated having to dial numbers with a lot of 9s or 0s in them. We also talked to each other from different booths on a video phone. That took a little longer to pan out, but now, that’s here, as well. The phone pictured here is probably from the 1950s or possibly the 40s. On the other hand, I suspect it still works.
Yesterday we had almost 2 inches of rain but it was sunny this morning. Then, a little before 4:00 PM, it got very dark and we had a serious downpour. The storm raged for about 15 minutes and then withing a half an hour the sky was clear and solid blue again. I took this picture towards the end of the rain, focusing on the water on my office window, looking out towards the big trees on the edge of the parking lot. I was glad not to have been caught out in it. It really came down hard. The forecast for the weekend is nice, however. We can still have some cold and even the possibility of snow, but spring it definitely upon us.
The forsythia is starting to bud. As I write this, a week after the photo was taken, the buds have opened and the flowers are out. Spring can move quickly at times and when we have a warm spell, as we do at some point most years, buds open quickly. We often then have a frost that can kill back some of the more tender plants a bit. The early flowering star magnolia, with its fleshy, succulent petals, is generally one of the hardest hit. Other plants, like most early bulbs, the Lenten rose, and the forsythia, are better able to cope with a little cold, and generally just stop briefly, only to continue once it warms back up.
Last Sunday after church we walked to the Stadtman Preserve and I posted a picture of three little Chionodoxa forbesii blossoms. This week we went there again. The daffodils are starting to bloom and there are lots more Chionodoxa flowers opening up throughout the property. It was this little windflower (Anemone blanda) that really caught my eye. It’s such a pretty little thing. I’ve had a few of them in our garden but they never really amounted to much. I need to make a note to myself to buy a bunch of them and put them in. Interestingly, the flower is apetalous (it has no petals) and what look like petals are actually sepals.
On Saturday we stopped at the storage locker and brought some things home to go through. That included a clothes rack and one of the items on that rack was a large, hooded robe all covered with embroidery. This photo is a part of that embroidery. Neither Cathy nor her mom know where it’s from but probably Cathy’s dad bought it somewhere. It’s in pretty new condition but it’s too long for either Cathy or her mom to wear (and not really their style, in any case). The embroidery is pretty, with flowers and plants in orange, yellow, and pale green.
I stopped at the park on the east side of Lake Needwood this afternoon. It was a beautiful, warm day, although not as warm as it’s been. I heard and then saw a few turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) a short walk from where I stopped and I headed in their direction. They had moved up into the trees by the time I got close but I also happened to see two red tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) as I walked nearer. I got a few pictures of them but they were taken through the branches and didn’t turn out all that well. I got a nice pictures of this turkey vulture with its wings outspread, but that picture, too, had branches in the way. This one, of the vulture as he took off from his perch on the tree stump is my favorite. The next frame, taken a fraction of a second later, is actually better of the bird, but he’s just starting to go behind another tree trunk, which sort of ruins the effect.
I stopped at Rockville Cemetery on the way home today. With the weather turning warmer (relatively) and the sun out, it’s very tempting to be outdoors as much as possible. My job, of course, keeps me inside most of the time and it’s been fairly busy lately, with lots of revisions and bug fixes. That’s meant that I haven’t been out during the day too often. With the time change it’s light later in the day and that gives me more of a chance to get out after work.
Rockville Cemetery, on Old Baltimore Road, is a nice, relatively quiet place. The eponym of my high school alma mater is buried there. The graves of Walter Johnson and his wife Hazel are in a very shady spot under a pair of mature spruce trees. Generally it’s hard to get a good picture of them because it’s so shady but when I was there today the sun was slanting under the trees’ lower branches and lighting up the grave markers. This photo is from another part of the cemetery, though. I really love big, old, white oaks (Quercus alba) and this is a nice specimen.
The sky had the promise of a really spectacular sunset this evening but sadly it didn’t follow through. It wasn’t a bad sunset, mind you, but it wasn’t as fabulous as I had hoped. The clouds were moving fast and it was changing from minute to minute. As you can see in the lower part of this picture, between the houses, the best part of the sunset was too low to be seen from our back yard. Still, it was a worth a few minutes of my time and the ground wasn’t so cold that I couldn’t be out in my bare feet for a little while.
I had some car trouble today. My van, which has just over 269,000 miles on it, started making a terrible grinding noise when I put on the breaks. I thought, I don’t care, bad breaks aren’t going to stop me! But seriously, there are car repairs you can put off and car repairs you can’t put off. Brakes are in the latter category. After having Cathy meet me at the mechanic’s we stopped at the commuter parking lot near the ICC and I took some pictures of the cherry blossoms.
I try not to repeat subject too often and too close together but sometimes I just have to. The Sunday before last I posted a pictures of three Chionodoxa forbesii (glory of the snow) blossoms, taken at the Stadtman Preserve on Mill Run, in Derwood (see Sunday, March 17, 2019). Two weeks later they are out in our garden and I couldn’t resist another picture. This little clump of flowers is at the south end of our house and it’s so lovely. I promise, I’m done with this flower for the year (although there’s a pink variety in another part of our garden).
After church this week, for the third week in a row, we walked over to the Stadtman Preserve to see the bulbs. The daffodils are pretty spectacular and entire sections of hillside are yellow with them. The Chionodoxa is still in bloom and there are areas completely dotted with their pretty, blue flowers. I took pictures of Cathy in a few different spots but I had only brought one lens, the 100mm, which wasn’t really idea for that sort of portraiture. This one turned out pretty well, though. Spring it definitely here and we’re loving it.