Iris and Seth have recently bought a house and are getting ready to move in before too long. I was over there with Seth a week ago to talk about things that should be done and things they will want to do but that are less of a rush. While we were looking around I realized that there was an area under the stairs that is closed in from all sides. I suggested that could be opened up, either from the family room side or the unfinished basement side to make a nice closet. Today they happened to cut a hole in the wall to see what it looked like in side. They were surprised to find that it wasn’t empty. Most of what was there had been taken out before I took this picture, but there was a lot of stuff. It included more than a few boxes of china as well as kitchen wares, a box of canned goods, and quite a bit of rubbish (things the mice have been at over the years). I seems to have been there for nearly 40 years and the house has changed hands a few times since then. We were hoping to find gold and jewels worth the purchase price of the house (or even just the mortgage balance) but no such luck.
Monthly Archives: February 2020
Around here, winter colors are mostly browns and greys. The sky is often still blue, of course. Lawns and evergreen trees and shrubs are still green. But walking through the woods, which are mostly deciduous, brown and grey predominates. There is still color to be found, if you’re willing to look. We have a number of things that are various shades of burgundy right now. These epimedium leaves are lovely. They are only semi-evergreen, so some have fallen off, but those that remain are really nice. We also have a Lenten rose (Helleborus species) blooming and it has deep purple-red flowers that are wonderful. There are sedums in the front whose leaves and stems turn this color in the winter, as well. So get out there and look down. The color is there waiting to be found.
February is generally the middle of winter but it’s been quite warm lately, with highs in the 60s. The daffodils are coming up in our yard. That’s not all that unusual, as they generally start coming up during a warm spell in the winter. They are remarkably cold hardy and will be just fine, even after winter returns as it’s bound to do. I don’t mind a little green in the garden, as it reminds me that spring is not too far away. We actually have Lenten rose (Helleborus species) blooming and the snow drops are coming up (meaning they are probably already out in the woods near my office!). I’m a big fan of witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) which is a small tree that generally blooms in mid February in our area. We don’t have one but it’s something I’ve considered getting to give us a bit of color this time of year.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) are coming up in our yard. I remembered that the snow drops in the woods around my office are generally two or three weeks ahead of those in our yard. I went out with my camera this afternoon and sure enough, they are in bloom. There are two large areas, one in the back amidst fallen logs and the other on a steep bank leading down to a stream on the front side of the building. They really are lovely flowers, so simple and yet elegant, especially at a time of year when the ground and most of the things on it are brown.
I mentioned that Iris and Seth bought a house. There is a shed in the back yard and the sellers left it empty and with the doors unfastened, but with a locked padlock on the door. It would have been nice for them to take the lock off or leave a key for it, but perhaps they had lost the key and couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it. I took my bolt cutter and chopped it off this week and thought I’d post a photo of this handy tool. It’s the sort of thing you only need once in a while but it sure is handy when that time comes. This pair has seen some heavy use and the cutters are nicked pretty badly but when cutting things like padlocks (and bolts, of course), pretty isn’t generally a consideration. It came from my grandfather’s and I worked for him two summers when I was in high school. We did the bulk of the maintenance of the small rental properties he ran in his retirement. I learned a lot those two summers and as much as I didn’t enjoy crawling under a house in the mud to find a plumbing leak, I learned a lot that’s been useful to me in later life.
I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while. The idea isn’t completely original. I saw a cartoon something like this a while ago (at least a couple years, I’m pretty sure) but I’ve never gotten around to getting a good picture of birds on wires that I could use for it. I think the caption in the cartoon was something like “I know but it’s just felt weird ever since we went wireless.” That’s the caption I was going to use but I thought I’d change it just a little. Obviously this photo has been digitally manipulated slightly.
I cleaned out the old Dodge Grand Caravan today and took off the license plates, which I plan to return to the Motor Vehicle Administration on Monday. Before I did that, I took one final load of trash to the dump (well, the transfer station, actually). I had a few things of my own in the back but I drove over to Iris and Seth’s house and got the rest of the rubbish that we found under the stairs and loaded that up. That load included recyclables—paper/cardboard, rigid plastic, and metal—along with all the trash. The van has been a really good utility vehicle.
As I was driving home I notice that I was approaching an even thousand on the odometer so I drove just a little extra to get it to 272,000 just before I backed into the driveway. We bought it from our mechanic in March, 2006 after he bought it from some mutual friends of ours replaced the transmission. I’d say we got our $5,000 worth out of the van (not to say we haven’t spent that much again on repairs over the years). This is the highest mileage of any car I’ve ever owned. The Chrysler Town & Country that died in Chicago last summer was just a little short.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Seneca Creek State Park this afternoon and walked just short of 3 miles in the woods. It was a cool but pretty day with deep blue skies. The woods are predominated by tulip poplars (Liriodendron tulipifera) with a significant number of other deciduous trees including oaks, maples, beeches, and various smaller trees. I think the fact that they grow so quickly accounts for their numbers, as they outgrow the slower growing but longer lived hardwoods. Eventually, the oaks, maples, and beeches will outlive this first growth of poplars and it will all even out or even lean towards the others. But for now, the wood is filled with the straight trunks of the tulip poplar.
This is one of the first cameras I used, back in the early 1970s. It wasn’t new then, as Uniflex cameras were made between 1947 and 1950. It has an aluminum body and a pair of 75mm lenses. I learned to develop the black and white film I used with the camera, winding it onto a reel that goes into the developing tank. I honestly don’t know if any of the photos I took back then are still around. Even if they are, I doubt many are worth looking at. But you have to start somewhere and this is where I started. We had a few old cameras available to use, as my grandfather had upgraded to a Leica and my parents had used both a Canon rangefinder and then a Minolta SLR.
Not surprisingly, I moved to 35mm and in 1979 bought the first of quite a few cameras. It was a Canon A-1. A few years later I got an F-1. That was my workhorse for quite a few years and went around the world with us in 1988. I bought a Nikon body so I could share lenses with my father-in-law. When it came time to move to autofocus and then digital, I went back to Canon and that’s where I am now, having started this “picture-a-day” thing right after getting my current camera, an EOS 60D.
My mom was given a Rieger begonia a while back and she gave it to me. It was covered in pink blossoms when I got it and it bloomed for a while but since then it’s been growing but so far hasn’t rebloomed. I’m not sure how likely it is to rebloom but it seems happy enough in a west-facing window along with a pothos plant (a.k.a. Devil’s ivy, Epipremnum aureum), a jade plant (Crassula ovata) that Dorothy started from a leaf, an African violet (Saintpaulia species), and with a large, fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) growing in a pot on the floor next to them.
Cathy called me early this afternoon and said she was walking around my building and asked if I would come down and walk with her a while. I did and brought my camera with me. I didn’t end up taking many photos but I took a few of this half of a walnut shell on one of the tables next to my parking lot. We stopped and admired the snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) but since I took pictures of them a few days ago, I didn’t take more today. I think walnuts are pretty and of course they’re tasty, as well. The walnuts we get in the store are
After I got home and was reading, Cathy called to say there was a really pretty sunset. Her office is on the fourth floor and faces northwest so she gets a pretty good view in the evening. From our back yard most of the color was low in the sky. To the southwest there was some color through the trees. To the northwest the colors were better but again, were visible only through our neighbor’s trees. I took a dozen or so photos and this is the best of them. Not a great sunset but it’s a sunset.
Cathy has a small collection of advertising thermometers and they are on the wall in our front hall (you can see the bottom of our doorbell in the upper left). They have been collected over the years from various antique shops and generally have been bought for under $10 or so. We’ve seen some that didn’t really fit the pattern and that we passed on. Just being an advertisement isn’t really enough. It needs to have a photo or illustration and preferably that should be mostly unrelated to the company being advertised. So, for instance, a thermometer in a bottle shaped frame with a Coca Cola logo would not qualify. From left to right (roughly), we have Quina & Miller Co. (furniture), B and B Milk Transportation, Santoni Furniture and Salvage Co., R.M. Pile & Sons (manufacturer of concrete septic tanks!), Geo. D. Deoudes Co., Inc (commission merchants), Randolph Market, and Dr. Beegle’s Chiropractic Health Offices.
Iris and Seth moved into their new house today. We went over last night and got a van load of things and took that over with Seth. Shortly after we dropped him off at the apartment he called to say he decided to hire movers to help with this morning’s move. He already had a truck rented and the two of us could have managed everything but it sure was nice not having to lift anything heavier than a box of dishes. The truck he got would have held everything but we used our van for most of the boxes and oddly shaped items. The furniture and few larger boxes went in the truck. By 1:00 we were done, everything was in the house and by the time we left, the shelves from Ikea were back together again and up in the living room and it was looking like a home already. It was just about the easiest move I’ve ever helped with (and I’m not complaining!).
We happened to be in northern Virginia this afternoon to meet some friends for brunch. We got there a little early so we walked in a park near the restaurant and I took some pictures of three different plants that are in bloom. First, and seen here, are maple blossoms. I think this is a silver maple (Acer saccharinum) but I didn’t take the time to identify it carefully. I’m pretty sure it isn’t red maple (Acer rubrum) but it could be a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) or a number of other species. It’s a bit early even for the early trees to be blooming but it’s been such a mild winter so far, I’m not terribly surprised. It may get cold yet, of course. It’s still only mid November.
I was looking around for something to photograph this evening and I happened to see this bottle of rose water. I have no real recollection of when I bought this but I’m assuming it must of been called for in a recipe I was trying. Either that or perhaps Dorothy asked what it tasted like. Anyway, it’s been in my cupboard for a long time and I’m actually pretty unlikely to use it. I’m not really a big fan of the taste. I looked up Asmar (Asmar’s Mediterranean Food) and they are a “family run business incorporated in 1997 dealing with international ethnic food products.”
In 1974 we took a trip out west as a family. We drove first to Denver where Ralph and our dad met us, flying out a few days after we left so Ralph could finish a class he was taking in summer school (if I remember correctly). We had also stopped in Kansas City because George’s braces broke and he needed to be seen by an orthodontist. Anyway, after we were all together we stopped at a place called Topaz Mountain but now I don’t know if it’s the one in Utah (southwest of Salt Lake City) or in Colorado (southwest of Denver). My memory says Utah but the Colorado site is more likely based on the route we took. I know we went to Mesa Verde and then Four Corners and it would have been on our route out of Denver. Anyway, we spent a good while searching for topaz in the stream beds and these are the nicer crystals that I found. None of them, really, are very suitable for jewelry, although I made a tie-pin out of one but it’s just out of the photograph at the top. I like them, anyway.
Dorothy gave me a set of four prints for Christmas. Three of them are portraits of the three of us, herself, Cathy, and me. The fourth was also of her so technically a portrait but it’s her walking and not facing the viewer. Anyway, she asked me to take photos of them for her and I did. She also said I could use one of those as my photo for the day. So, while I took this photograph, the actual content isn’t mine.
Of course the actual content of most of my photographs isn’t mine. I just photograph what I see. Sometimes it’s a man-made object and sometimes it’s something found in nature. Rarely is it a me-made object and even then, I only make things with materials that already exist. I like these prints and I think I like the one of me the best, which sounds egotistical but I think it’s the best of the three technically and I just like the way it looks.
I happened to be down at Suburban Hospital this evening to visit a friend who was there for a procedure this morning. When I arrived, I drove to the top of the parking garage so I could get some photos of the sun that was in process of setting. There was no way to get an unobstructed view of the most colorful part of the sunset. To move to my right, I could have needed to climb up on a six foot wall but then there’s have been nothing between me and a three storey drop and I wasn’t really interested in that. This one turned out pretty well, anyway. I happy to say my friend was doing well and we had a really nice time chatting.
I generally try not to repeat the exact same subject in photographs. That’s not to say that once I’ve posted a photo of a sunset, for instance, I’ll try not to post any more. But things like this camera, I try to post only once. I posted one of this same camera in January of last year, I’m afraid so I have to break my unwritten rule (not for the first time, I fear). I mentioned it recently in a post about a Uniflex twin-lens reflex camera. It is a Leica IIIc, which was made from 1940 to 1951.
Cathy and I took a walk in the park this afternoon, going about four miles in all, including a wrong turn that added a half mile or so to it. I took a bit of a fall early on, when the somewhat muddy path and the moss covering it allowed my foot to move sideways suddenly. I ended up on my back, having rolled to protect my camera and I laid there long enough for Cathy to get a photo of me. We saw that the bald eagle nest is occupied again this year, which is nice to see, even if it was too far away to get a reasonable photo. During our off-trail bit, after taking the wrong path and trying to take a short cut back we happened to see two white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), including this one, quite close but through the undergrowth.
After yesterday’s long walk in the park we decided on a shorter walk this afternoon, sticking to neighborhood streets. I took some pictures of sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) against the blue sky. I also took some of Lenten rose plants (Helleborus species) in someone’s front garden. They were further along than most of ours, although we have one that’s got quite a few flowers on it. As the sun set, I took various pictures of it with differing amounts of color. None of them were spectacular but even a mediocre sunset is a beautiful thing.
The story is that this is a tear catcher or tear bottle, used to collect the tears of mourners in Persia (i.e. Iran and Afghanistan). According to tradition, bottles like this (and in other shapes and from other places) were used to catch the tears and the more tears the more regret over losing the loved one. The shape of the opening, theoretically, is meant to fit over the eye, although it doesn’t really fit very well and I can think of much better designs if that’s really what it’s about.
I’ve never been terribly comfortable believing that they were ever actually used for this, but that’s the story. I’ve never found any convincing proof that they were actually used for this purpose. Interestingly, the Wikipedia page on them has very inconclusive and even somewhat conflicting statements about them and most of the statements are tagged as needing a citation, so even those are pretty suspect (not to mention that nearly everything you find there is suspect).
I don’t think this bottle is terribly old. If it is, it’s in terrifically good shape. It is, however, a remarkably beautiful, cobalt blue and regardless of the veracity of it’s origin and original use, it’s a beautiful example of the glass blower’s art.
A co-worker is retiring and we had a party for her this afternoon. Not everyone rates a party but she’s been here a third of a century and certainly deserves one. In spite of all the years and although we have the same supervisor, I’ve never actually worked with her, but we’ve seen each other from time to time and we have quite a few friends in common. I changed supervisors in the last year when my previous boss retired and we’ve only had the same supervisor since then, so it’s perhaps less surprising than it might be. Anyway, this is Linda (I’ll let you guess which one she is) with five of our co-workers, including our shared supervisor, Bryan (second from the right). I’ve worked quite a bit with Terry, on the far right and he asked if I’d come and take pictures, which I did and which is why this is my photo of the day.
Not much to brag about today, in terms of my photographic exploits. There are days I just struggle and even when I find something to photograph, it’s only worth posting so I can keep up my photo-a-day thing. This is day 3,344 and this photograph is number 174,241, which is an accomplishment, anyway. We used to have a small collection of these dogs in white, brown, and black. They were in the back window of a car but eventually they went the way of all things, returning to the dust from which they were made (or they’re in the process of that, anyway).
There was a nice sunset this evening. The number of clouds was pretty low and unfortunately they clouds that were there were pretty low in the sky. Almost all of them were below and behind trees. At least that’s where they were from out back yard. I’ve had some really nice sunset from there but this one I had to work just to get this little bit of color.
It’s gotten cold out and I went out in my stocking feet to get this because I was afraid I’d miss it if I took the time to put my shoes on. I think that was the right decision, as the color only lasted a few minutes. I could still see some color through the trees for a while longer but that would have been less even than this one. I think one thing I like so much about sunsets is the depth of color. The blue of the sky at dusk is much richer and more vibrant than during the day. Of course the color in the clouds is also different, which is what makes a sunset special. But the blue of the sky at dusk, turning to the black of night, is just about my favorite color in the world.
The cornel (Cornus mas, sometimes known as cornelian cherry) is an old-world dogwood that should, I believe, be grown more here. The trees are fairly slow growing and the wood is very hard and dense, actually being dense enough that it doesn’t float. This, along with ash, is the wood that was used in ancient Greece for making spears. According to the 2nd century A.D. geographer Pausanias, the Trojan horse, built by the Greeks was built of cornel from a grove of trees sacred to Apollo. For me, it’s the very early flowers, which are not much individually, as well as the cherry-like fruit that makes the tree attractive for the small garden.
It was a cool, late winter day today. I was doing some work around the house that included carrying boxes to the car, so I was dressed more lightly that the actual outdoor temperature called for. It was fine while I was working but if I had needed to be out for too long in a t-shirt, I would have been less happy. In the evening we went to Olney to have dinner at Panera. Needless to say, not having long sleeve shirt on got me noticed a few times. I’m glad I brought my camera with me, as there was a really nice sunset and I was able to go out and take pictures a few times through the course of it. This was the last one I took, when most of the sky had gone very dark.