Monthly Archives: November 2019

Tongass National Forest

Tongass National Forest

Tongass National Forest

One of my favorite hikes around Juneau is on the western extremity of Douglas Island. back in the 1980s there was a trail through woods, across muskeg, and to the shore. There is now a much shorter loop trail called the Rain Forest Trail that we took today. Wile I like the longer, older trail better, we didn’t have a huge amount of time to spend and it was also fairly wet as we drove out, with rain softly falling. You shouldn’t get the impression that the shorter trail isn’t very nice, because it’s actually wonderful. I took quite a few photos both in the woods and on the shore. This one is of a small pond just into the woods as we headed back on the southern part of the loop. The light in the woods is quite difficult, with fairly low light levels along with a very bright sky showing through. I’m pretty pleased with how this one turned out.

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Brian, Lisa, Nathaniel, and Us

Brian, Lisa, Nathaniel, Cathy, Henry, and Dorothy

Brian, Lisa, Nathaniel, Cathy, Henry, and Dorothy

It’s our last evening in Juneau and we went out to dinner with our good friends Brian and Lisa and their son Nathaniel. This photo was taken by Nathaniel’s girlfriend, Alex and it’s nice to have a picture with all of us in it. We were sad to be leaving and could easily have been happy staying another week or even two. We’ve know Brian and Lisa since early 1986 and Dorothy’s been living with them since she arrived in mid July. I’d say it’s been very good for her to be here, although not without its struggles. But as a wise man once said, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.”

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Sunrise North of Seattle

Sunrise North of Seattle

Sunrise North of Seattle

Our ten day journey to Alaska, like all good things, came to an end today. We were very sad to be leaving and of course were not very excited about getting up at 3:00 AM to get to the airport for our 5:00 AM flight, but it meant we’d get home during the day instead of the middle of the night. We had a great time and would happily have stayed for another week or even two. Of course not having to go to work is part of it. Anywhere on vacation is generally better than anywhere else with work. The weather was about what we expected, cool and damp, but we came prepared (and Dorothy gave me a really nice rain hat as an early birthday present). That meant we got out regardless of the weather and enjoyed pretty much every minute of it.

Sunrise North of Seattle

Sunrise North of Seattle

The trip home was relatively uneventful, which is sort of what you want when flying. There’s not much better than a sunrise or sunset from the air and we got a pretty good one as we headed south to Seattle, on the left side of the plane. Someone who knows the area might be able to recognize the coast line seen through the clouds in this first photo. The second, taken about ten minutes after the first, is possibly Mount Baker, but again, I don’t really know the area, so I’d be happy to be corrected. Much of the country from eastern Washington until we neared Maryland was covered with clouds, so there wasn’t much to see. We did recognize some landmarks as we made our descent into Dulles. And thus ends Alaska Trip, 2019.

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Autumn on Norbeck

Zelkovas on Norbeck Road

Zelkovas on Norbeck Road

Having returned from our trip to Alaska, I am going to have a hard time getting photos as nice as those from our trip. It’s going to be made more difficult by the fact that we’ve gone off of daylight saving time, which means it will be getting dark about the time I leave work. Today I went to the store and on the way home I stopped along Norbeck Road to take some photos of the Zelkova trees in their glory. IT’s really a pretty show every year and this year is no exception. The range of colors is really quite amazing.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

As I was driving home today, the sun was setting in my rear view mirror, as it does these days. At one point, I had had enough and pulled onto a side street so I could get out and take some pictures. As you can see, I’m along a road and there are power lines on the left but they don’t really distract from the main event. I didn’t notice at the time but I see now that what I assume is Venus, the evening star, shows up on the left side of the photo.

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Leaves and Walnuts

Leaves and Walnuts

Leaves and Walnuts

While we were in Alaska, most of the leaves on the trees have fallen here. As seen a couple days ago, the Zelkova trees are still holding on but those will be bare shortly. Around my office building most of the trees are bare or nearly so. There are lots of leaves down in the parking lot and where I park, there is a black walnut (Juglans nigra) that has been dropping its fruit for a while now. As you can see, there are willow oaks (Quercus phellos), red maple (Acer rubrum), and elm (Ulmus americana) represented here.

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Around Lake Needwood

Around Lake Needwood

Around Lake Needwood

I stopped near Lake Needwood for a bit today, walking in the woods and enjoying the cool, autumn air. Many trees have lost their leaves although there are still some in shades of brown, yellow, orange, and red. On the ground is a thick carpet of drying leaves. I love the colors and the patterns in this old piece of log that’s lying on the ground, especially the swirl a little below and left of center. It’s not really something I can put into words, so I won’t try. I just like it, that’s all.

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Samovar Lamp and Ceramic Dog

Samovar Lamp and Ceramic Dog

Samovar Lamp and Ceramic Dog

a few of Dorothy’s friends are passing through the area and asked if they could spend the night here tomorrow night. Naturally we’re happy to have them and I was cleaning up the guest room, which we have used as something of a store room for things we don’t know what to do with. I was in there this evening and this do caught my eye. I don’t know why but I think the composition with the dog in front of the samovar lamp just works. It’s all I have for today, so I guess it has to.

As I mentioned a few days ago, with the shorter days, if I don’t get out during work and if there doesn’t happen to be a nice sunrise or sunset, I have a hard time getting an outdoor photo this time of year (and for the next few months). Because of that, I’m afraid you’re going to have to put up with this sort of photograph. This happens every year and I really should look back at previous years and see if there is anything I did that I might do again now, to deal with this issue.

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Crab Apples

Crab Apples

Crab Apples

There are a pair of sweet gum trees (Liquidambar styraciflua) a little before I get to work and I stopped today to take pictures of their leaves. Sweet gum generally has some of the best fall color around but I think it’s just a little early so they weren’t as good as they have been in past years. I’ll probably check again in a while. Before I got back in my car and headed the rest of the way to work I took a few pictures of the crab apples nearby. I think they look pretty good against the blue of the sky.

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Jean and Cathy

Jean and Cathy

Jean and Cathy

We went to see Cathy’s best friend (and my good friend) Jean this evening. She wanted to take us out for Cathy’s upcoming birthday but instead I brought things and made panang curry, brown rice, and roasted cauliflower with caraway seeds. I don’t mind going out for a meal, of course, but it’s easier to visit in a home and I don’t mind cooking, especially something that I can make without too much thought. Jean gave Cathy a card (that she’s holding in this photo) and this ‘wonderful’ tray for eating in bed. The note on the tray says, “A Priceless Antique . . . from back in the day when being a troll was NOT a bad thing!”

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Everlastings

Everlastings

Everlastings

I’ve published a photo of these everlastings (Xerochrysum bracteatum ‘Sundaze Golden Beauty’) before. See Wednesday, June 06, 2018. They aren’t quite as fresh as they were then, but if you can find another flower that looks this good after five months in your back garden, with birds, bugs, and the summer heat, I’ll be surprised. Yellow flowers seem to fool the computer in my camera (a Canon EOS 60D) and they come out with way too much blue. It’s easy enough to adjust them back to the original yellow but it’s a bit funny how strongly it wants them to be blue.

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Bananagram Tiles

Bananagram Tiles

Bananagram Tiles

I bought a book from Ikea today. Sorry, the joke isn’t original but very few of them really are. I was looking around for something to photograph this evening and saw this Bananagrams set and thought I could use them to illustrate the joke. Not the funniest joke I’ve every told but certainly not the worst, either. Am I known for telling “dad jokes”? Yes, I suppose I am. It goes along with my “dad bod”, which I prefer to describe as a “father figure”.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

The sun was going down as I left work today and I wanted to get at least one photo of the colors in the sky. I found a place where I could see them, but it’s a little more industrial that I generally look for. Still, it’s not terrible. This is actually looking to the southeast, not the west, where there wasn’t actually a lot of color to be had. I stopped again a little further on and the foreground was better but there was less color at that point, so this is the best I got.

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Mums

Mums

Mums

I’ve posted photos of mums before but they have always been taken when the flowers were in their prime. I somehow like this better, actually, although overall the plant looks a bit of a mess. I think it’s the texture that I’m drawn to, although I also like the colors in this photo. These are on our dining room table and I probably should move the plant outside, as it’s clearly done brightening up the room. I’m glad we kept it as long as we did, though, because I think it’s pretty even in this state. We’re entering that part of the year when virtually nothing is blooming outdoors. When I walk in the woods, I look for patterns or textures. The colors are fairly limited and generally there aren’t items that particularly stand-out.

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Frost

Frost

Frost

It’s turned cold, with morning temperatures in the mid 20s. We had our first hard freeze yesterday and today there was frost on the windscreen of my car. So, naturally I pulled out my camera and took a few pictures. These little ice crystals are pretty delicate and once I turned on the car, they melted pretty quickly (and I ran the windshield washer, which took care of them completely). As many of you know, I don’t mind cold weather too much. I wore a jacket a few times during our ten days in Juneau but that was as much for the rain as anything else. I’ll generally not bother unless it’s below about 15°F or I’m going to be outdoors for an extended period.

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Stuff

Metal Deer In a Metal Bowl

Metal Deer In a Metal Bowl

This is one of those times where I was looking for something to photograph and what I found may or may not be of interest. But it’s a photograph. We have some things that were not gotten rid of during the emptying of our two family homes in 2018. Maybe some of them we should have but for now, they are in our house (with other things being in one of three storage units, which is another story all together). I’m not sure how to describe these two items. The first is a deer, made out of metal with small, orange enamel drops and swirls of wire to represent fur. The second is a small, heart shaped bowl, also made of metal, with a subtle pattern on it. It’s pretty tarnished, so perhaps it’s made of silver, but I’m really not sure.

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Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)

Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)

Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)

Cathy and I went for a walk near Lake Frank today, parking on Bauer Drive and walking in through a break in the houses (there’s a lot that’s not privately owned) and then along the road that leads, within the park, the the parking area. That road and parking area are not in use and haven’t been for many years although I’m not entirely sure why. It was a pleasant walk and we enjoyed the late autumn colors reflected in the lake as well as the oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) in a few places. I don’t recommend growing this, but I have to admit it’s pretty.

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Mill Creek

Cathy

Cathy

We went for another walk in the woods today, further upstream in the same watershed. After church we walked through the Stadtman Preserve and down to Mill Creek. As we were coming down the hill we saw a fox, which was pretty cool. There was not much chance we’d be able to get close enough for a good photo so I didn’t even bother trying. We followed Mill Creek down towards Lake Needwood. I took this photo of Cathy standing next to the creek a little ways into the walk.

It was cool but not cold, with a light overcast. Cathy wore a jacket although I was in my shirt sleeves (and they were rolled up, at that). It was very peaceful and pleasant. There was one area where we could hear traffic on the inter-county connector (Maryland 200) but for the most part, it was as quiet as you could hope for.

Mill Creek

Mill Creek

After a while we decided to cross to the south side of the creek, where there is a regular path. It isn’t heavily used but there is a small bridge over a side stream and we did see one other person on that side of the creek. This photo was taken shortly after we crossed the creek and a little before the spot where we turned around. I’m pretty pleased with this photo. I think the leaning trees give it a little interest. The colors were quite nice, too.

I didn’t have a map with me and hadn’t looked at one any time recently. If I had, I’d have known how close we were to Lake Needwood. Where we turned around, if we had just gone around the next bend, we’d have come out at the northern end of the lake. We’ll definitely want to do that walk again and go a little further.

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Schlumbergera truncata (Thanksgiving Cactus)

Schlumbergera truncata (Thanksgiving Cactus)

Schlumbergera truncata (Thanksgiving Cactus)

Occasionally, a little bit of benign neglect is exactly what a plant needs to thrive. This Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) has been on the floor of the kitchen, underneath Solomon’s cage, for a while and although it gets watered from time to time, it isn’t getting the attention it probably deserves. That’s generally a recipe for dead plants, but this one gut just enough attention, apparently, because it’s come into bloom a few weeks ahead of the holiday it’s named for. I took a few photos of entire flowers but they are mostly white with only a very small amount of pink and therefore don’t show a lot of detail in a photograph. I thought this photo of the pale stamens with their pollen and the red and pink style was nicer.

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Lonicera maackii (Amur Honeysuckle)

Lonicera maackii (Amur Honeysuckle)

Lonicera maackii (Amur Honeysuckle)

This is one of the more prevalent weed shrubs in our area. The Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) is an east Asian native that has firmly established itself as noxious weed in the eastern half of North America. It’s got the sweet, tubular flowers typical to honeysuckles, starting out white and aging to yellow. They are followed in the fall (right about now, obviously) by bright red, juicy berries. Although they are inedible to humans, birds eat them and spread the seeds far and wide. They were once planted as an ornamental and you can see why. However, they are no longer recommended, because of their invasive nature.

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Ficus lyrata Leaf

Ficus lyrata Leaf

Ficus lyrata Leaf

Dorothy rooted a leaf from a fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) a while back and it’s done pretty well. We had it in the kitchen for a while and it got strong enough to stand without support, which is nice. We have since moved it to the dining room, where it’s a little less in the way, but the lower leaves don’t get any sun and they recently dried up and fell off. I really love the texture of the leaves as well as the patterns of their veins. After taking this photo (and some others) I happened to leave them on the sideboard. Cathy wondered where in the world these huge leaves had come from and what they were doing there. They’ve been thrown away now.

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Redbud Pods

Redbud Pods

Redbud Pods

I got out of my office and into the woods for a little while today. I took some pictures of oak leaves, which I fine quite beautiful this time of year. I also took some photos of the stream that flows through the woods next to my office. There was a small oily patch that looked like miniature ice bergs and I thought about posting one of those. In the end, I decided I liked this photo of two redbud seedpods better. It’s a simple picture but I like the lines.

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Jan and Cathy

Jan and Cathy

Jan and Cathy

Back in 1998 we met Jan for the first time. Our friend Susie organized a surprise for Rob’s birthday and we flew to Phoenix along with other friends and it was there we met Jan for the first time. Since then we’ve traveled together a few other times, including a big trip to Italy two years later and we’ve seen her occasionally over the years. Dorothy stayed with her when she was in California this summer. Jan was in town for the Navy football game and an event honoring fallen US Naval Academy alumni, including her brother. We were excited to get together with Jan and Rob for dinner at the Pines of Rome in Bethesda. Sadly (except she does enjoy traveling) Susie was in Warsaw Otherwise she would have tben there, too.

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Kai

Kai

Kai

Between our trip to Alaska and various other commitments on weekends, we haven’t seen most of the family for quite some time. It was really nice getting together with mom, Tsai-Hong, Steve, Kai, Iris, and Silas for dinner this evening and then to have a chance to talk and take pictures of the boys back in mom’s apartment. The boys generally take a while to warm up to me when we get together. Kai takes less time, mostly because he’s older and more likely to remember me from one visit to the next, but even he is shy at first. His younger cousin, Silas, is still much more hesitant and bashful.

I got a few good pictures of each of them, though, including this one of Kai. He has a mischievous streak—not uncommon in children—that’s very endearing and cute. I’m really enjoying watching him grow.

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Hogback Mountain

Hogback Mountain, Skyline Drive

Hogback Mountain, Skyline Drive

We had a really nice outing today. As mentioned in Friday’s post, our friend Jan is in town and we drove with her, Rob, and Vicky out to Front Royal and onto the Skyline Drive. It was overcast when we left home and we even had a spattering of rain on the way out but after stopping for breakfast at the Marshall Diner, it cleared up and by the time we were on Skyline Drive, it was sunny and the sky was a beautiful, crisp blue. It was fairly breezy and chilly but we enjoyed the views from various overlooks and then walked a bit on the Appalachian Trail, which is where this photo was taken, near Hogback Mountain, a peak of about 3,460 feet (with a communications tower on top).

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Mugs

Mugs

Mugs

This is one of those photos that’s here just to fill they day. We have a blue hutch in our kitchen, brought from my mother-in-law’s kitchen. On that are two shelves where we keep mugs and these are some of them. The mug on the right holds dry-erase markers that we use to update the calendar on the wall nearby. In the back is a mug I made (the light brown one) back in 1979 or thereabouts. It’s a pretty decent mug, if I say so myself. In front of that and to the left is one that Dorothy got for being in the York’s wedding. And back over to the right is one that dad got at NIH at some point. I think of him whenever I use it (and other times, too).

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Letters

Letters

Letters

When was the last time you wrote a letter? For me, I know it’s been a while. I’ve sent a few business letters, generally accompanying a check or something of that sort. But a real, honest to goodness, hand-written letter? It’s been a while. I wrote one to a friend who ended up in prison for a little while but that was hard. I’ve probably only written one or two others in the last five years or more. I’m not sure what that means for the future. I guess in one sense it means “less stuff” and maybe that’s a good thing. But it’s sometimes fun to see old letters that were written by our parents or grandparents (or even earlier) back in the day. That’s what these are.

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Skeletal Trees

Skeletal Trees

Skeletal Trees

As I came out of my office this evening, the clouds in the darkening western sky was back lit with areas of brighter light. All that was behind the trees that line my parking lot. It had a somber and even sinister look and I decided I’d take a few pictures. The exposure was a bit tricky and I didn’t have a tripod, but I braces the camera on a tree and it turned out well enough. It was a mood and I think I captured it pretty well. The parking lot was pretty empty by the time I left work. It’s Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, and somber and sinister really doesn’t go well with that. Nevertheless, it’s how I was feeling when I left work. I’m not sure what that means.

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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. We had a really nice time and a great meal. I’m not actually a huge fan of turkey but it’s what’s done so that’s fine. Mom bought and I cooked a 19+ pounder and it turned out pretty well, if I say so myself. It was good to have the family here and the only thing I could have asked for was having Dorothy home. She comes home soon, though, and I’m looking forward to that. She originally was planning to come back for Thanksgiving but decided to extend a few weeks and that’s fine, of course. Here’s the family that was here.

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Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

It’s been quite a few years since I worked on the day after Thanksgiving. One more thing I’m thankful for is that I’m not in retail and don’t have to work on the day after or even on Thanksgiving itself, as many people do. I would be happy to have all businesses including retail closed from the Thursday of Thanksgiving through the following Sunday, but that’s just not going to happen. There are some who enjoy the ‘thrill’ of shopping on so-called Black Friday, but I’m not one of them. Of course, I’d prefer to stay away from stores between Thanksgiving and Christmas entirely if I had that option. I do my best. I actually worked about five hours today and was fairly productive. I was glad to see a pretty sunrise shortly after getting up, and that’s today’s photo.

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Harrison Island from Ball’s Bluff

Harrison Island from Ball's Bluff

Harrison Island from Ball’s Bluff

It was a cool but pleasant day and Cathy and I decided we needed an outing. We drove through Poolesville and crossed the Potomac River on White’s Ferry. From there we drove the short distance to Ball’s Bluff Battlefield. The battle fought here in October, 1961 is not one of the really well known engagements of the war and compared to the likes of Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Antietam, or Shiloh but it was significant nonetheless. Among other things, it marks the only sitting United States senator (Colonel Edward Baker of Oregon) to be killed in action. This photo was taken from below the bluffs. It was a quiet, peaceful place but would have been a really bad place to get caught with your back to the drop of the bluffs.

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