When I got rid of the nearly dead Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) in our front yard, we wanted to replace it with something small but with a little more interest. We decided on a hawthorn and last week I ordered this Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’ and it was planted yesterday. The leaves are a little dry but it seems pretty healthy and I’m looking forward to the white blossoms in the spring as well as the fruit that you can see is on it now. The green hawthorn is more disease resistant than most hawthorns and ‘Winter King’ was selected, among other reasons, for that reason. This variety is also “noted for its profuse bloom of flowers, larger fruits, silvery-barked stems and more attractive fall color (purple and scarlet).”
Monthly Archives: October 2019
I looked around for something to photograph this evening and settled on a flour canister. It’s made of brushed metal (probably aluminum) and has the word FLOUR in a nice, mid-century modern font running vertically down it. I took ot out onto the patio and got some nice photos.
Relaxing on the patio after that, I watched the western sky begin to color and I realized I wasn’t going to use my flour canister photo today. I had to move around the yard to get a good angle between the trees, but I think you’ll agree it was worth it.
Although chrysanthemums (a.k.a. mums) are fairly hardy herbaceous perennials, most of us grown them as annuals, bringing them out in the fall to add color to an otherwise less colorful garden. The Rudbekia are done blooming and even the Buddleia are starting to fade. There are still roses on the more ever-blooming varieties, but most of the summer flowers are done for the year. Enter the humble and yet lovely chrysanthemum. We have a few in pots that have been given or that we bought. This one is sitting outside our front door and greeting us as we leave and again when we return home. Who could ask for anything more?
I went outside today and walked around a bit in the lot next to my office. The weather was fine and it was nice to be out in the sunshine. I startled a belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) as I walked towards a vernal drainage pond. It’s often completely dry by this time of year but it had more water in it than in previous years and it hasn’t all evaporated yet. Above it, I was able to get close enough to get a pretty good photograph of this eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas). They are pretty common but easily missed, as they are fairly small and flit around near the ground. They’re worth looking out for, I think.
We drove to Virginia today and Margaret met two friends for lunch at a Persian restaurant called Shamshiry. The name comes from comes from the Farsi word for a curved sword from the Middle East. While they had lunch, Cathy and I ran some errands. We tried to go to a bakery but were stymied by an Octoberfest that had some streets closed to auto traffic. We made our way around that and headed back to pick up Margaret. I took a few photos of her with her friends, Shaima, and Inez, one of which is my photo for today.
Cathy and I worked in the yard this afternoon. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot to be done in the yard but I think we’ve made progress, at least. I took a break and took some pictures in the back yard. There are some bracket fungi on the ground above where there used to be a silver maple. They come up every year as the roots rot. I also took some pictures of some butterflies on the flowers around the patio. Then I saw this American hover fly (Eupeodes americanus) on the begonias growing in a pot on the patio. I was able to get some pretty decent photos of it as it moved from flower to flower.
I’ve recently been going through some scanned photographs and putting labels on them. These were taken by my father-in-law in the 1950s and early 1960s in Afghanistan, a place many people could not have found on a map until the last 20 years or so. I’ve gotten so I have a pretty good idea where the different photographs were taken and I recognize some of the important personages, such as King Mohammed Zahir Shah, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran, Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin of the USSR, and Vice President Richard M. Nixon. I also have gotten familiar with many of the landmarks. On this 10,000 Afghani note (sadly not worth much) is a detail of the Great Mosque of Herat. On the reverse is the Arch of Qala-e-Bost, outside Lashkar Gah.
I know I posted a photo of this Japanese anemone recently but they’re so pretty I thought I’d post another. I got a few pictures with an American hover fly (Eupeodes americanus) on it, but I’ve posted a picture of one of those recently, too, and didn’t see a need to repeat that. We haven’t had much success with anemones in the past but we’re hoping this will do well. It certainly has beautiful flowers and is just the right height for along side our front walk. We really should get a half dozen of them, but one thing at a time.
I sent outside for a little while today and took some pictures of butterflies. I was down near the storm management pond next to my building and saw pearl crescents (Phyciodes tharos) as seen here as well as cabbage whites (Pieris rapae). There were also bees around, but not so many as there were only a few weeks ago. Getting good photographs of butterflies is challenging but it’s something I enjoy. This is a mid-sized butterfly, considerably smaller than the swallowtails or monarch but larger then the blue, featured recently. They are fairly common and easily spotted but as with most butterflies, difficult to get too close to.
I had hoped to get pictures outside today but it didn’t happen. I was moving a few things in the basement this evening and I noticed this old wrench and thought it might be an interesting thing for a photograph. Well, maybe not all that interesting but that’s all I have, so that’s all you get. This was one of the tools I got when we cleaned out my grandfather’s work shop back in the early 1980s. I don’t know how old it is, but it’s almost certainly older than I am, anyway. I see similar items listed on web sites specializing in antiques calling this an antique. That may be stretching things a bit, but it’s oldish, anyway.
I had hoped to get outside yesterday but didn’t. Today I did, walking up the road and onto the empty lot next to my building. The vernal drainage pool is nearly dry. The small areas with water are interesting because there is something in the water that’s not happy to be quite so crowded. If it rains soon, they may be saved. The fall color has only just started to be in evidence but a few things tend to turn early and they stand out. This staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is an example. They are also crowned with their bright red, annual, pyramidal fruiting clusters.
I’m getting pretty far behind on posting photos here. Never fear, I’ve been taking photos and they will make it eventually. I can tell you now there are some nice pictures ahead (as well as some that are not terribly exciting, I’m afraid). Anyway, we had a family dinner night and the boys were there, Kaien and Silas. Both continue to grow and are becoming their own individuals. Kai really enjoys bouncing on the hobby horse and is getting fairly comfortable really bouncing. Silas is a bit more reserved and cautious, which is fine, of course, as he’s quite a bit younger. I like this photo of him, in which he isn’t exactly smiling exuberantly, but which is still a good picture. He’s a sweet boy and fun to play with. We hadn’t gotten together for a while for various reasons, including that Tsai-Hong was traveling in Africa. When we go longer between seeing each other, he takes a little longer to open up when we do.
I only took a few photos today, all in the back yard. Most of them were of the maple leaves that are starting to turn red, but really they have only just started and it’s premature to have fall-color photos. This is a wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana, also known as scarlet strawberry) growing and fruiting in the yard. This is a native herbaceous perennial and in the description on the Missouri Botanical Garden’s PlantFinder web site, it says they “spread indefinitely by runners that root as they sprawl along the ground.” They aren’t kidding. These will take over a yard. Also, “Cultivated strawberries found in stores are hybrid crosses between F. virginiana (native to North America) and F. chiloensis (native to western coastal South America including Chile) which combine the excellent taste of the former with the larger fruit size of the latter.”
I don’t often do commercial photos in my blog and I have no financial connection to the Snowdonia Cheese Company other than the money I spend on their cheese. We had a little, black-was coated round of Black Bomber cheese at some point and really enjoyed it. I don’t know where we got it and we haven’t seen it in stores locally. Today I found it in the new Giant grocery store in Olney. I don’t know if they have it regularly or not but I naturally bought some. It’s actually a creamier cheese than many aged cheddars but it has a really nice, deep flavor (or flavour, since it’s from the British Isles). Recommended.
It was a pretty day today. The weather has finally turned cool and it’s clearly autumn now. The leaves on the trees are still mostly green but there are occasional splashes of color from early maples or some of the smaller plants that tend to react more quickly to the changing seasons. Outside my office window, the Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a deep red, climbing up into two large elms and the other trees on the edge of the woods. Cathy and I met at a picnic table briefly early in the afternoon and then I walked in the woods and took a few pictures, including this one of the bark of a black walnut tree (Juglans nigra).
My grandfather and his brother were both Rhodes scholars. My grandfather, the older of the two, was at Exeter College from October, 1907 through July, 1910. His younger brother, Ralph, was at St Johns and received a B.A. degree in 1912 and a B.Sc. degree in 1913. They both competed in athletics, and we have this medal that Ralph won in a competition in 1911. It was for second place in the high jump and his height was 5 feet, 3½ inches. That wasn’t close to any sort of record. The world record in 1912 (the first world record in the men’s high jump was recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federations) was 6′ 6¾”. The current record is 8′ ½” (2.45 meters).
As I mentioned, it’s begun to feel like autumn. Today was very windy and cool. After work I walked down to Lake Frank and took a few photos. The trees are just starting to turn and it was lovely to be out in the fresh, cool air. This photo was taken from the dam looking northwest along the length of the lake. It’s a three-exposure, high-dynamic-range (HDR) photo and I’m fairly pleased with how it turned out. There were a few others out walking, mostly wearing coats and hats against the suddenly cool weather. I was in my shirt sleeves, although I did roll them down while I was out on the dam, where the wind was strongest.
Cathy and I went to Trader Joe’s after work and then stopped at the Rio for a bit. We walked around the pond and I took some photos, mostly of the reflections in the water. This is the Launch Workplaces building near the western end of the pond. I thought the reflections were nice. There was a gaggle of (probably middle school) girls on the bridge posing for group pictures on their phones and we heard the dad of one of them say something like, “Well, we’re eating now. You can take pictures or you can eat.” The girls didn’t seem interested in eating.
The dogwood in front of our house is in full fall color. It’s not really a good place for a tree, much too close to the house. I’ve planted a camellia near it that, if it survives, will replace it. Last winter was tough on it and all but one small branch near the base died. If it makes it through this winter it will have a chance but I guess we’ll see. If I can get a replacement growing, I’ll cut the dogwood out, but until then, I enjoy the flowers in the spring and the red leaves in the autumn.
Like the dogwood from yesterday’s photo, this maple tree in our back yard is turning for fall. It’s ahead of most of the trees around, which are predominantly green still. It won’t be long before the rest have changed but it’s been so dry lately that I’m not sure the colors will be as good this year as some. We also may miss a bit of it, but we’ll be in a pretty place for a few days, so won’t mind too much. I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.
I met Cathy outside for a little while early this afternoon. As we were walking back towards the entrance to my building we saw a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) near the parking lot and I was able to get a few nice photographs of her. Cathy went back to her office and I went down near the pond and took some photos of insects. There was a type of fly that I hadn’t seen before. I thought it was a thick-headed fly (Family Conopidae) but it was identified as a Dioprosopa clavata, a syrphid fly (Family Halictidae) that resembles a thick-headed fly. Today’s photo, however, is of this metalic green sweat bee, a female in the genus Augochlorella.
I’ve worked my way through quite a few hard drives over the years. When I bought my first computer, a NEC APC. I had the option to buy a 10MB drive for about $5,000. I opted not to spend that much for a hard drive that was only 10 times the capacity of the 8″ floppies it used. My phone now has a 128GB micro SD card that can be bought for $20. That’s roughly 13,000 times the capacity for 1/250th the price or about 3.25 million times the storage per dollar. I have two 5TB and two 6TB drives in my main work computer that cost a little over $100 each, more than 20 million times the storage per dollar. What I really need to do it make sure there is nothing left on any of these drives that I need and then destroy them. But like so much of what needs to be done, it takes time.
Cathy and I began a ten day trip today, getting up at 3:40, driving to the commuter parking lot on Georgia Avenue and catching the 4:21 bus to BWI airport. That was the beginning of a 23 hour journey spanning four time zones. Our first flight left BWI at 7:00 AM EDT and arrived in Los Angeles at 9:45 PDT. Add three hours to that for the time zone change and we were in the air about 5 hours and 45 minutes. We had an equally long layover in LAX, not leaving until 2:40 for Seattle. We walked nearly two miles from terminal 6 through tunnels under terminal 5 and then up and through terminal 4 to the Tom Bradley International Terminal (a.k.a., Terminal B), walking the length of that (and back). That wore us out but also passed a good bit of time.
This photo, taken from Terminal 6, is of Cathy resting her ankle briefly with a view of “The Theme Building” in the background. We had lunch and then went to our terminal ahead of boarding. You know how in airports there are often announcements where a person is named, but it’s never you so you don’t pay attention? While we were waiting for our flight, the woman on the PA called my name and asked me to come to the service desk. Needless to say, I was surprised. I was even more surprised when I went to the counter and she handed me my driver’s license. It had been in my pocket and apparently fell out. The amazing thing is that not only was it found but someone went to the trouble to find out where my next flight was leaving from and get it there. I didn’t know it was even lost until it was returned. Needless to say, I was pretty thankful.
From Los Angeles we flew up the coast and had a nice view of Lake Tahoe. We also had a nice view of Yosemite Valley from the west and I was able to make out some of the most notable features, including Half Dome, Cathedral Rocks, and El Capitan. I only had my wide angle lens so the pictures I got were not very good, although I can identify landmarks pretty well. A little further on we passed Mounts Hood, Adams, St. Helens, and Rainier. At this point I had retrieved my 100mm lens was able to get some nice pictures such as this one of Mount St. Helens in Washington. You can clearly see the hole in the top from when it blew its lid in 1980, an event that I remember vividly from the news reports of the time (but thankfully didn’t experience anywhere near first hand).
Well, we landed in Juneau after a long day of flights and layovers in Los Angeles and Seattle. We slept well and didn’t worry about getting up early (although I woke up at 7:00 anyway). We took a walk with the dogs in Lemon Creek, where Dorothy is living with our good friends, Brian and Lisa. The dogs, Kippen and Ayla, are border collies and are a lot of fun. The walk in Lemon Creek is surprisingly pretty for something so close to their house and it was nice to get out. The air was cool and it was raining very lightly but we knew what to expect and were ready for it. I got one photo with three bald eagles in it but I think this one is better. You can see the one at the top of the tree pretty easily but there is a second that’s not quite so obvious a little ways down on the right side of the same tree.
Near the confluence of the Eagle and Herbert Rivers, about 26 miles from downtown Juneau, there is the Eagle River Scout Camp. A trail leads from there along the south bank of the Eagle River to the open waters of Favorite Channel and Lincoln and Shelter Islands. Cathy, Dorothy, and I took the dogs and had a nice walk through the woods, along the river, and along the sandy shore. This photo was taken near the beginning of the walk in an open area in the woods.
A muskeg is “a nutrient-poor peatland characterized by acidic, saturated peat, and scattered or clumped, stunted conifer trees set in a matrix of sphagnum mosses and ericaceous shrubs.” I personally find them to be beautiful, although it’s not something you want to walk through if you can get around it. I particularly enjoyed the fall color as seen in this photograph as well as the reflections on the pool in the foreground. The sky was particularly overcast today and we only had glimpses of the mountains that would otherwise be in the distance. The overcast tends to heighten the colors, though, so that’s a plus. And the rain was barely noticeable until just before we got back to the car.
As mentioned in my previous post, it started raining as we returned to our car at the Eagle River trail near the Boy Scout Camp. It rained fairly hard but as we approached the Mendenhall River the sun came out and there was a rainbow to our left. We stopped at Brotherhood Bridge, where there’s a pretty decent view of the glacier and we had it framed by the rainbow. Rainbows can be tricky to photograph because the colors are fairly faint relative to other things in the photograph. Slight underexposure can help but that tends to make the rest of the shot dark. Anyway, This one turned out pretty well. At a different time of year, this photo would benefit from fireweed in the foreground, but the autumnal colors aren’t bad, either.
Day four of our Alaska trip (the third full day in Alaska) was busy. Dorothy had to work so we dropped her off and then went into town. We started by going to Evergreen Bowl and walking around a bit. That’s where this photograph was taken. After that we took some pictures of her mom’s old house, across the street from the Governor’s mansion. Then downtown for a little while to do a little shopping and also spent some time in the library. I took pictures of the mural on the parking garage that features Cathy, her aunt, and her aunt’s great grandson. There is a new park that runs from near the bridge to Douglas towards the Coast Guard dock and we went there for a while. It’s probably nicer when the fountain is running but it was nice. Finally we went to Evergreen Cemetery to find a few grave markers. My memory of where Cathy’s grandparents are buried was pretty good. We also found the markers for her mom’s sister and her husband. We had a few more to find but had more opportunities later in the week.
As mentioned in my earlier post for today, it was a busy day. In the afternoon we went for a walk with Brian and Lisa around the airport. It’s a pretty place and it’s not like the busy airports we’re used to from the DC area with planes taking off and landing one after the next all day. It’s a relatively quiet place except for the occasional plane and we had a nice time outdoors. If you need a reason to go to Juneau, here’s one. It’s beautiful regardless of the weather. The clouds were high enough today that we could see the mountains pretty well. We didn’t have a clear day the entire ten days we were there but if you need clear skies to enjoy a place, then maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The airport walk is an easy one, with virtually no hills to deal with. Very nice for a mid-afternoon walk. Highly recommended.
In 1898, Cathy’s great grandfather traveled from the iron mines of Michigan’s northern pinensula to the gold mines of Juneau. Specifically, he worked in the Mexican Mine in Treadwell on Douglas Island, across the Gastineau Channel. In 1917 the mine flooded and all work ceased. This photo was taken from near the cave-in site, which is on the extreme right although it’s not really visible. As you can see, it was more overcast than the previous two days, which were pretty nice. We couldn’t see the top of Mount Roberts across the channel. Nevertheless, it was good to get out and to walk where Cathy’s ancestors had walked (although we’ve been there before, of course). The Treadwell Mine’s office building, which was in pretty rough shape when we lived in Juneau, has been cleaned, painted, and gotten a new roof.
We went to the glacier today. In Juneau, that’s short hand for the Mendenhall, since it’s the one you can basically drive to. When we lived here in the late 1980s the face of the glacier was just a little past Nugget Falls, on the right in this photo. When my mother-in-law lived in Juneau, the face of the glacier was considerably further out into the valley. Like most (but notably not all) glaciers since the last little ice age, roughly between 1300 and the mid to late 1800s, it is receding. It’s still pretty and the clouds separated long enough for us to see some of the mountains around it, at least briefly, although you can’t really see them well in this photo.
We have a very fond and somewhat funny memory from the winter of 1986-87. It was on a relatively mild day in February when Cathy, Brian, Lisa, and I drove out to the glacier. There was eight to ten inches of snow on the ice on Mendenhall Lake and there were kids sledding on the hills of glacial moraine. Brian, Lisa, and Cathy walked out into the snow on the ice wearing boots and their bathing suits. The took off the boots and settled on a blanket laid on the snow (which naturally sank into the snow when they sat down. I took a handful of photographs of them, pretending it was a lovely day. Actually, for February in Juneau, clear skies make it a lovely day, regardless of the temperature. Anyway, here’s Cathy, 32 years later, in front of the Mendenhall, although she was dressed warmer today than she was on that day in February.
This photo wasn’t taken by me, but I’ve already posted two photos from today that I did take, so I think I can get away with it. I don’t appear in many photographs and for the most part, that’s my preference. Nevertheless, I’m trying to learn that if I want to expect others to let me take their picture, I need to be willing to return the favor. Dorothy took this with my camera and while I don’t think it’s a particularly good photo of me, it’s at least evidence that I was there. Nugget falls is larger than it looks in this photo. The reality is that we’re quite a ways from it. If we walked so that we were right below it, you’d see how high it really is. I have a few photos like that, but this isn’t one of them, so you’ll just have to trust me, or better yet, go visit it for yourself.
In May, 1942, the valedictorian at Juneau High School, John Tanaka, was absent because he and others of Japanses ancestry had been forcibly removed and incarcertated in government internment camps a month earlier. The graduating class left an empty chair in his honor at their graduation, honoring John and the other Japanese Americans. John’s younger brother, Bill, was in my mother-in-law’s class and naturally she remembers this incident. The Empty Chair Memorial is in Capital School Park between 5th and 6th Streets and Franklin and Seward.
Today was the rainiest day of our trip. While Dorothy was at work, Cathy and I spent the morning in the State Museum and Library, which I highly recommend. We also drove around downtown a bit with Dorothy after she got off work. That’s when this photo was taken. You can also get an idea from this photo of the steepness of some of upper Franklin Street.
We went out to the Shrine of Saint Thérèse this morning and enjoyed a very pleasant walk onto the island (well, it was an island but is now connected by a causeway), into the chapel, and along a path on the shore (from which this photo was taken). It was cool and when we got there it looked like rain. Nevertheless, it didn’t actually come down and by the time we walked down the shore, there was some blue in the sky. If we see anyone else on any of our walks around Juneau, we like to joke that the place is getting overrun with tourists. Of course we’re tourists this time, and it’s only a joke anyway. There may have been a few other people at the Shrine the same time we were there but we hardly saw each other.
In addition to our visit to the Shrine this morning, Cathy, Dorothy, and I took our longest walk of the trip with Brian, Lisa, and their two dogs. We drove out Basin Road and went up Perseverance Trail and then a ways up Granite Creek Trail towards Granite Basis. I don’t know exactly how far we walked but it was at least three miles each way, possibly a little more. The Perseverance Trail goes up hill pretty significantly in places but it’s an easy trail to walk on. The view of Ebner Falls was nice, even in the light rain that was coming down. We turned off onto the much smaller Granite Creek Trail that zig-zags up a steep hill before becoming more gradual after that. We didn’t go too far up that and this photo was taken somewhere near where we turned around. It was after 5:00 PM and it was going to be dark before we got back. In fact, it was quite dark as we made our way past Ebner Falls and the rest of the way down, particularly those places under trees. But we didn’t lose anyone and had a really nice time.
When we first lived in Juneau, back in 1985 and 86, we rented the downstairs of the pale blue Quonset hut seen in the upper left of this photo. Our address was on Fourth Street but the street ended at Harris Street, almost two blocks away. To get to and from her job in the Goldstein Building, Cathy would walk down the long flight of stairs from above our house to Fourth and Harris. I don’t remember for sure how many steps there are, but my remembrance is that it’s 174 or so. Quite a few, anyway. In this photo you can see a person near the top of the stairs wearing a bright, red jacket.
We moved from the Quonset to an apartment on Douglas Island after a year or so and lived there the rest of our time in Juneau. Living in downtown Juneau certainly had its advantages, but it was also nice to have a few more windows as we did in the apartment. I’m not sure where I’d want to live if we moved back to Juneau. Land is at something of a premium, with usable land squeezed between the shore and the mountains and with so much given to National Forest. But I think I’d be inclined to be outside downtown at this point, just for the sake of having a bit more of a yard and garden.