I know I’ve posted a picture of a similar dragonfly recently, but I didn’t get a lot of great pictures today so this is what I have. This is also, I think, a better picture than the one previously posted. I had originally labeled that one as a calico pennant (Celithemis elisa) but I’ve rethought that and have relabeled it as a Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina), the same as this one. It’s a handsome dragonfly, whatever it is. I had tough time getting close enough for this picture, so I’m relatively pleased with it.
Monthly Archives: July 2019
One of my great uncles had a small collection of sharks teeth that somehow managed to find its way into our household. I’ve posted a photo of a sharks tooth from that collection in the past. This quartz arrowhead was in the same box. I don’t know where it was found although my guess would be North Carolina. I don’t even know for sure that it was found by him, but I assume it was. It’s a beautiful little thing. I’ve never really tried my hand at knapping stone but I would guess that quartz is not the easiest material to shape. If it’s all you have, however, I guess you’d learn and obviously someone did.
I happened to be upstairs today and my friend and coworker Katie told me that she was going to pick up her daughter from art camp and bringing her back to the office for the rest of the day. I asked if she would mind if I took some pictures. I’ve done that off and on for years and it’s fun to look back through them and see how she’s grown. Today’s picture is with another friend and coworker, Kasia. I think this one turned out quite well. I don’t take a lot of pictures at work, as that’s not really something that’s done, but occasionally I do and I appreciate having at least some photographic record of people I’ve worked with.
As you may remember, we spent much of 2018 cleaning out Cathy’s mom’s house and getting it ready to sell. It went on the market the first week of September and we had a contract a couple months later. There were some delays going to closing but we got there on March 1 of this year and I think everyone was satisfied with the deal. The buyers, Ugo and Jennifer, were very nice and invited us to an Independence Day cookout. There was some rain but that didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. The smaller kids certainly didn’t mind, as they were playing in the inflatable water slide that Ugo and Jennifer had set up in the side yard. Before we left, they posed with Margaret for a few pictures. We had a good time talking with a few different people and of course it’s hard to go wrong with burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, and barbecued chicken.
The blackberry lilies (Iris domestica and formerly Belamcanda chinensis) have started to bloom in the garden. We originally got this when I collected some seeds and planted them at our old house. We brought some here with us in 2006 and they have really taken hold. We sprinkle the seeds around and let them grow where they will. They aren’t nearly so aggressive as to be a problem and they are so pretty. I had a picture of the buds recently but this is the flower. They open in the morning and each individual flower only lasts a day, but they are born in profusion and soon we’ll have dozens of them in bloom, scattered around the yard.
I went out to photograph flowers this evening but came across this metallic wood boring beetle (family Buprestidae) on a black-eyed Susan. There are twelve dozen species of Acmaeodera in our area and one of the experts at BugGuide.net identified it as Acmaeodera pulchella, sometimes known as the flat-headed bald cypress borer. We’re not really in bald cypress country but they feed on a pretty wide variety of trees, so that’s not really an issue.
The locals got together for a family brunch early this afternoon and then went to mom’s apartment to visit for a while and to enjoy watching her great grandchildren play. Since I saw him last, Silas has begun to walk. He’s not walking all the time yet, but he’s taken multiple, intentional steps. It’s been fun watching him progress and I look forward to continuing. His older cousin was there, as well, and I got pictures of him, too. I probably should keep track and try to balance out who gets their picture posted but I frankly can’t be bothered. They’re both adorable little boys and I enjoy them both.
I got an email this morning from Rob who asked if we were interested in having dinner this evening. That by itself was enough, but he also mentioned that Ian and Annie were visiting from France. Naturally we were happy to be included. Many years ago Susie organized a surprise birthday trip for Rob and we were included on that trip. We have traveled with them a few other times on other surprise birthday trip, including a huge surprise trip for Cathy to Venice and Florence, Italy. We don’t see Ian and Annie as often any more, as they’ve been living in France, but it’s great when we get the chance. We don’t even see Rob and Susie as often as we’d like and we need to make more of an effort. But when we do get together, it’s always worth it. It just seems so natural to be together.
As we were getting ready to leave for work this morning, running a bit late, as we often do, I paused to take a few pictures of butterflies and skippers on the goose neck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) growing by the driveway. This is a silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus), one of the larger skippers we see regularly in our garden, with a wingspan up to about five centimeters. It is common through most of North America and certainly common for us. They’re easily identified by the large, silvery-white irregular spot on their hind wings.
The tiger lilies are blooming and they are really spectacular this year. My dad had these growing in his garden and from time to time we would take the little bulbils that form in the angle between the leaves and stem on these plants and we’d put them in our garden. We continued that process, with bulbils from our own plants and now we have a pretty good number of them around the yard. These are growing in the small bed where an oak tree once grew. That tree was dying when we bought the house and has since been removed. There are daffodils there and Cathy often puts annuals in the center of the bed, but these lilies are growing towards the back (the house side). They are over six feet tall and quite striking, with racimes of large, orange, downward-facing flowers.
It was a pretty evening today and I took this photo out our kitchen door at dusk. It’s hard to convey the feeling at dusk, because it tends to look like nothing so much as an underexposed photo. I obviously had to be a little careful not to lighten this photo any more than necessary, in order to retain that dusky feeling. You can see the three ornamental, lighted, garden globes in this photo, although only one of them is actually lit. A second one seems to work some days and not others. They aren’t all that well made, unfortunately, and don’t last very well. That’s a little disappointing.
We’re getting a second flush of roses on the ‘Perle d’Or’ outside our front door. This small polyantha rose has a nice, apricot-yellow color with perfect, if tiny buds, opening to somewhat less perfect blossoms that are, nonetheless, quite lovely. The fragrance alone is enough to make me want this rose and putting it right outside our front door was a good choice. It has been killed back in parts in some particularly cold winters but generally it does pretty well and so far has not suffered any irreversible damage.
Not much of a picture today, I’m afraid, but here are some Jordan Almonds, almonds coated in sugar with a pastel colored layer on the outside. These are often served at weddings, with—I’m led to believe—the “bitter” almonds and the “sweet” sugar symbolizing the bitterness of life and sweetness of love. I love almonds and adding sugar to them can only make them better. Frankly, I prefer the less pretentious (in my opinion) Nuql (or Noghl in Iran), the Persian sugared almonds that are just sugar without the smooth coat or colors added. But I’ll rarely turn these down, if that’s what’s offered.
This is a dark-morph (and thus a female) eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) on the buddleia outside our kitchen door. The tiger swallowtails are the most numerous, large butterflies in our garden, followed by monarchs (Danaus plexippus). Otherwise, we only have occasional visitors. There are a lot of smaller butterflies and skippers, particularly small skippers. But the large, gaudy swallowtails are fun to watch and among my favorites.
I stopped at Lake Needwood this afternoon to see what I could see. It’s gotten quite hot, with the forecast for hotter still by the end of the week. The butterflies and dragonflies like that sort of weather, and they were out in pretty good numbers. I happened to spot this question mark (Polygonia interrogationis), so called because of a roughly question mark shaped mark on the underside of their hindwings. I got one photo of the butterfly on a shrub and then if flew and landed on my thigh, thus the blue denim of my jeans. I was able to get a few pretty good photos, including this one. I also got one showing the question mark, but I think this is prettier.
I took a few pictures of butterfly weed flowers this evening and I might have posted one of them. A little later I noticed this white leafhopper and got a few pictures of it, including this reasonably sharp image. Getting a good picture was made more difficult by the breeze, which was moving the stem the planthopper was on, but this one turned out pretty well. It was sharp enough for it to be identified as a northern flatid planthopper (Flatormenis proxima), one of our more common planthoppers. They do little damage and I left him alone to get what he needed from this plant.
I stopped and walked into Rock Creek Park on the way home today. It’s a nice, wooded area and generally away from traffic, so I like being there. It’s definitely high summer now and the underbrush is about at it’s deepest but I’m happy to leave the bike path and walk the short distance through the brush to the creek itself. I passed a few spider webs, which isn’t unusual this time of year, but it wasn’t until I got to this one that I stopped. This one had the sun shining on it and that made it a lot easier to photograph. This was made by a spined Micrathena (Micrathena gracilis), one of the orb weavers (family Araneidae).
Cathy’s mom had a visit today from an old friend and her husband. They brought these flowers, which was nice, and they looked lovely in the late afternoon sun coming in through the dining room windows. I took pictures of them from a bunch of different angles. Deep reds like this are a challenge for my digital camera and they tend to overwhelm the sensor but this one turned out pretty well. No disrespect meant towards Canon. It’s a really intense color and it came out well. Our eyes are such remarkable organs with the ability to see such a huge range of color and brightness that it isn’t actually surprising that technology is still trying to get there. We’ve come a long way, though.
We hadn’t planned on going downtown today. It was about 100°F late this afternoon and we had not real interest in being out any more than necessary. However, we drove Cathy’s mom to a wedding in Rosslyn so we were pretty close. We went across the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge and parked just off of Constitution Avenue and then walked each to 14th street.
After getting dinner from a food truck and eating it in a pretty, little patio garden next to the African American Museum, we found our viewing spot for the show. I won’t say I remember it like it was yesterday but I definitely remember watching and being excited by the Apollo 11 moon launch and landing. For the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, a Saturn V rocket image was projected onto the side of the Washington Monument, starting at about 9:00 PM.
Then at 9:30, a show began, where they “constructed” the rocket on the launch pad and then it took off. We watched the stages separate and then the command and service modules, with the LEM attached, headed off to the moon, carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. It was very hot and of course there were lots of people. Nevertheless, we were absolutely glad we went and really enjoyed the show.
A few days ago I had a picture of a spider web, taken in Rock Creek Park (see Thursday, July 18, 2019). I mentioned that it belonged to a spined Micrathena (Micrathena gracilis) but the spider wasn’t in the picture. Today we had a little time before church so we walked in the Stadtman Preserve for a little and I saw another spined Micrathena and got this picture of her. It frankly isn’t a great picture but you can see where it gets its “spined” appellation. Sorry I have nothing better for today. Maybe tomorrow.
The tigers are out in force. We have tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium) blooming in a few areas in the yard. They are especially spectacular in the morning when the sun is on them. We also have tiger swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) in pretty good numbers. They are mostly on the tiger lilies and on the buddleia bushes and we’ve counted more than ten together on one buddleia bush. Most of them are the standard yellow and black but about ten percent are the darker version that I photographed a few days ago.
We bought a new car today. It’s new to us, anyway, although it’s a 2007, so not really new. The timing is pretty great, coming as it does shortly after the old 2000 Town and Country gave up the ghost in Chicago, as Dorothy and Abba were driving to Albuquerque. I happened to mention Dorothy’s woes to a few coworkers and one of them said her parents were going to sell their car—also a Town and Country—because they are moving to Florida and already have cars there. We made the transaction today but still need to get it registered, but it’s here. The new pride of the fleet.
I was taking photos of the black-eyed Susan flowers this evening when I spotted this little fly, a transverse flower fly (Eristalis transversa) visiting them. It wouldn’t stay still for very long and I had a hard time getting a good picture. Ideally it would be on top of the dark eye in the flower, but I wasn’t able to get that. I like the combination of colors that matches the flowers. These are pretty little flies and easily spotted in the garden. As flies go, I enjoy these about as much as any.
As I’ve mentioned, the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is the most plentiful, large butterfly in our yard all summer. They are followed by the monarch (Danaus plexippus) in a distant second place. They generally are harder to photograph than the swallowtails but this one let me get close and I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s perched on Verbena bonariensis growing in our front yard, near where the Colorado spruce used to be.
I went out into the empty lot next to my building today but didn’t get a lot of pictures to show for it. There was a small depression in the ground, it looked like it might have been a deer footprint, with a small spider web in it. The spider web had water droplets on it, and that’s what you see here. The web itself is practically invisible so it just looks like water droplets floating in air. Very cool, I think. I didn’t have a tripod and even if I did, getting this close to the ground is a problem. I have a new (used) tripod with legs that spread far enough to get me pretty low but the central post is too long for that to make a difference. In any case, just the tripod head is too tall in this case. A bean bag would have been better, but I didn’t have that, either.
We spent the better part of the day driving to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina today. We were delayed a little by a flat tire and the time it took to get that replaced but better to have it happen near home that when we were traveling 70 MPH on the highway. Traffic between the Occoquan River Bridge and Fredericksburg was as bad as ever. Actually, worse. Generally the GPS says “Fastest route despite delays” but today it not only told us to get off of 95 onto US 1, it twice took us off of Route 1 onto smaller streets. I’m not entirely sure that saved us any time and the delay added about two hours to the drive, but we did finally make it to the beach and were able to relax a bit. As you can see, we arrived to fine weather and a calm Atlantic Ocean.
Cathy and I took a walk on the beach this morning, heading east. We stopped for a while to enjoy the tail end of the church service on the beach and then continued as far as the pier. On our way back, as we neared out cottage, we saw a bird circling over the water and occasionally diving for fish. As we got closer we were able to identify it as an osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and I was able to get a few pretty nice pictures, considering I only had a 100mm lens. I had thought about the possibility of renting a longer lens for this trip but decided against it. Birds are fine to photograph but really, this trip is not about wildlife photography, so I decided to put it off for another trip.
We had a pretty sunset this evening. there was not a huge amount of color but on the horizon it was very nice and I thought it looked especially good through the dune grass growing between our cottage and the beach. We had a nice day with a very calm ocean for swimming. I’m a fan of body surfing and although it was quite calm, there were occasional waves that were good for riding. Cathy prefers using a boogie board, which is fine, but I like the feel of the water.
It’s interesting how differently children react to things. Take the beach, for instance, and the waves from the ocean. Silas seems to really love the water and is happy sitting at the edge of the surf, letting the water come to him. His cousin is more apprehensive. I have no doubt that Kaien will grow into a love for the water to match his father’s but for now, he’s not so sure. Of course, a year from now, Silas might have traded his enjoyment for a more cautious approach. Every kid is different and even one kid changes from year to year. But for now, this little man is enjoying the beach.
Generally you look west in the evening to see the sunset and the best colors are often in that direction. This evening the best view was to the east, as seen here. Although we’re on the eastern coast of North America, the coastline runs almost due east-west right here. So, rather than the sun rising over the ocean and setting over land, it rises to the left on the beach and sets to the right. Although I took a lot of pictures, mostly what I was doing was enjoying the reflections of the light as each wave receded, leaving a very flat, highly reflective surface on the lower beach.
We have one evening each year where we all go out to dinner together, both our family and my Uncle George’s family. We were 26 for dinner this evening and if you’ve ever gone to a restaurant and said, “party of 26” you’ll have some idea what that’s like. Actually, this restaurant, the Inlet View outside of Shallotte, North Carolina, is pretty well equipped for groups that size. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to go early, if you don’t want a really long wait. After dinner we tried to get a photo of the youngest generation. Taking a picture of four children aged between just over a year and not quite five is a challenge, and this is about as good as I was able to get. At least none of them are screaming.
Today was the first day this week I went out to take pictures of the sunrise. I thought about it two other days but didn’t go out. There are often nice sunrises here but I simply didn’t feel like it. Today I did and was rewarded with some nice pictures. When I first went out it was very blue. The clouds and the ocean were various shades ranging from pale to dark. Eventually, the sun actually rose and a fair amount of orange was added to the sky and the reflection of the sky in the water. This photo doesn’t really show much of the blue.
Cathy and I drove to the east end of Ocean Isle this morning and walked on the beach, looking for shells and coral and I took a few pictures. The other day we had noticed a boardwalk going into the scrub off of one of the back streets and we decided to see where it led. from the corner of e 4 sup th /sup and winston-salem streets we followed a combination of boardwalks (over wet areas) and sandy trails that go as far as Charlotte Street (although we didn’t actually go all the way to the end). We saw three species of spider. There were lots of these spinybacked orbweavers (Gasteracantha cancriformis). We also saw a golden-silk orbweaver (Nephila clavipes) and a black-and-yellow argiope (Argiope aurantia). I also got a pretty nice photo of a slant-faced grasshopper (Subfamily Gomphocerinae). It was hot but there were occasional breezes and it was mostly shady, so we enjoyed it pretty well.