We were over at Cathy’s mom’s Saturday a week ago and then Cathy was there with our dear friend Julia again twice last week. It was mostly going through boxes of papers and separating those that needed to be shredded and those that could simply be recycled. We also went through some books, although there are a lot more to look at. We only pulled out a few to bring home. One was this copy of Glinda of Oz, by L. Frank Baum. It is the fourteenth book in the Land of Oz series and was published on July 10, 1920.
As I mentioned in the post from Friday, pictures of this little fellow are likely to be fairly common here for a while. For one thing, he’s the cutest little thing. For another, he’s the first of the next generation, as far as my immediate family is concerned, and is my first grand nephew. We’re fortunate to have him (and his parents) living so close by. After visiting him on Friday, we had dinner at mom’s this evening because Brady was in town on business and we took the opportunity to get together. It was good to see her and everyone, including Iris, Ralph, and Tsai-Hong who were there via video conferencing on Seth’s phone.
I’ve said before that my goal is to take at least one photo every day and post it here. I’d be overjoyed if they were all fabulous but the reality is that some of them are quite lame. I’ve had some pretty bad pictures in the last six years, although I think a few of them have been quite nice. Today’s is a poorly executed photograph, although the subject is interesting enough. I was out in the back yard with my camera and I could here a woodpecker tap, tap, tapping on the tree. After I while I found him and was able to take a few pictures but none of them are really any good. I was shooting through intervening branches and at a bit more distance than my 100mm lens was really suitable for. But it’s a picture.
If you think we’re going to visit Kai without my taking pictures of him, or if you don’t want to see baby pictures, then I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. We paid him a visit this evening (we saw his parents, too, but whatever) and mom (Dot) was there as well, visiting her great grand son. We each took a turn holding him and I took pictures of both Cathy and mom holding him. He seems to be growing well and is certainly a sweet little thing.
A week or two ago I got a call from Ben, our pastor, asking if by any chance I had an oldish phone, preferably one with a rotary dial. I’m not sure why he called me in particular. He wasn’t even sure why he called me. It’s true that we’re in the upper quintile or ages at church and younger people were less likely to have such a thing. And of course I do have a rotary dial phone.
This isn’t the exact phone I grew up with but it’s exactly like two phones we had in our house when I was in high school, when I started using the phone regularly. There was a white version of this same phone in the kitchen and a black one, just like this, in the basement. We also had a regular table-top version, also rotary dial, in the hall. The one in the basement is still there.
The challenge for this photograph was to get the dial in motion. I used the flash to freeze it but also a long exposure so that it’s a bit blurred. It was 1/3 second at f/3.5 with the camera on a delay timer so I could press the shutter and then dial the phone and get my hand out of the way just in time.
Usually I peel a clementine by starting at one end and spiralling around until I get to the other end. That produces a nice, s-shaped piece that looks something like the integral symbol, ∫, used in calculus. This evening I tried something different. One ray of the star is longer than the others because it includes the opposite end. I suppose with a little effort I could do this so that they were all the same. Maybe next time. For now, I’ll just enjoy the fruit.
In the evening, generally in the hour or so before sunset, there is a steady stream of crows, always flying in a generally southward direction. We often see them from our back yard in relatively small but significant numbers. As I was driving home this evening, enjoying the faint coloring of the eastern sky ahead of me, there were a lot of crows flying from left to right (north to south) across the road as I neared the bridge over Rock Creek. It’s hard to get a photograph of a flock of birds that is as impressive as the flock, unless there really are a lot of them, so this photo may not look like much. I was sitting in traffic and they just kept coming, at about this volume, the whole time I watched. I wonder where they go to roost. I’m glad it isn’t in my back yard.
I managed to get out of the office for a little while early this afternoon. It’s been a really busy month and of course January often isn’t the best month for walks in the woods. But today was nice and mild, the rain has stopped, and I took a break from work to spend a little time outdoors. I took a bunch of pictures of moving water. I really enjoy the lines of water in a stream or river, especially where the water meets partially submerged rocks. It’s a simple thing and easily found but in my eyes, it’s one of the beauties of nature. Sure, Yosemite and the Tetons are awesome, to say nothing of the Himalayas or the Rift Valley in Africa, but beauty can be found in a stream in an unused building lot, right next door.
I brought an assortment of cheeses to a small get together this evening. I had planned simply to put them out on a cutting board but Hope wanted to label them and had a black board and a piece of chalk. We arranged them (roughly) from mildest to stinkiest (right to left, although the Swiss should have been on the far right) and put them out with crackers and some slices of salami. Together with Theresa’s salad and a carafe of wine, it made a nice meal.
Cathy and I went for a nice walk this afternoon. It’s been a very rainy couple of days and we took advantage of a short non-raining period to walk. It started up again just as we got home, but we didn’t get too wet. Our shoes were quite muddy and we met a very friendly dog, so our trousers had to go into the wash but it was nice to be out. We saw this buck, along with about a half dozen more shortly after we turned onto Sunfish trail. A minute or two later we came across the group of almost a dozen does. It was getting dark and there was no way this one was going to let me get any closer, but I’m reasonably happy with this photo.
It was a fairly busy day today. We spent the morning at Cathy’s mom’s house, going through boxes of papers. We made some progress, although there’s still a bit left to do. From there we went to College Park for a graduation party for a friend. It was nice to spend time with Josh and his family, as well as his girlfriend, Lizzy, pictured here with Cathy and her mom, Jeannine. Then we went to Baltimore to visit Ralph and Tsai-Hong. After that visit we drove through parts of Baltimore we hadn’t been to before. I tried to get a picture of the Domino Sugar sign over the harbor through the fog but it was too thick and you can’t make out what the vague pink light is.
With appologies to Martin Denny and Leon Pober (and Don Ho, I suppose). Cathy and I went out to dinner this evening with our young friend, Julia. I happened to order a beer, Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA. With it sitting on the table in front of a small lamp, I was mesmerized by the tiny bubbles floating up through the amber liquid. This photograph doesn’t really do them justice but it’s the best of the few I took, so it will have to do. The bubbles show up here as find lines as the bubbles rise through the beer during the 1/6 second exposure (f/16).
I admit to being something of a foodie, but certainly not fanatically so. I do enjoy a good steak. There were bone-in, strip steaks on sale at Safeway the other day ($6.99 per pound) and I bought a few. I know they’re better cooked on a grill over charcoal or even cooked under the broiler of my electric oven, but this evening I cooked them in a pan. Well seared and still red in the middle, they’re not at all bad prepared that way, seasoned only with salt and black pepper. Cathy isn’t a fan of even moderately rare meat, needs to have no pink left, so I cut her steak off the bone, divided it into four thinner pieces and removed most of the fat around the edges. I cooked hers the same amount of time as my much thicker steak. That way, we’re both happy.
Cathy and I went to visit our grand-nephew Kai this evening. We also visited his parents, but really, we all know why we were there. But seriously, it was a nice chance to visit and of course to hold the baby, who is growing like the proverbial weed. Cathy took a bunch of pictures of me holding him, but of course I post pictures here that I’ve taken, so you are spared that. This is Steve giving him his dinner. Actually, I don’t know how you name meals when they come every two hours, but it was 7:30 PM, so we’ll call it dinner.
Two weeks ago, on January 3rd, I posted a picture of St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard. This evening it was a little foggy and I thought I’d stop there again to try to get a better picture. This time I also had my tripod, which made it considerably easier and gave me a lot more options in terms of camera location (I wasn’t limited to using the fence as a support). As it turned out, the fog was less of a factor than I thought and it barely shows up in this picture, beyond the overall haze in the sky. Still, I’m reasonably pleased with how it turned out. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be back when it’s foggier to try again.
The Christmas break has been over for a while and I’ve been back at work since January 3rd. Nevertheless, the Christmas season continued until today. There were two things that signaled the end of the season. The first (and admittedly more important) is that Dorothy went back to school. Actually, she left last night and drove to Pennsylvania where she stayed with a friend. They went the rest of the way to school today. The second signal that Christmas is really gone is that the last of the ginger snaps have been eaten. These are the final two. They were as good as always but now they’re gone.
This picture didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. I really should have gone back inside to get my tripod, because it was not bright enough for this sort of picture without additional camera support. As a consequence, it’s a little blurry, but still a nice picture of the seed head of scarlet beebalm (Monarda didyma) growing in the back of our garden, right up against the fence. It’s most spectacular when in bloom, of course, with its bright red flowers, but even now, these dried flower parts are still quite pretty, especially close up.
We had lunch with some of the rest of our family today but it was a little unusual because we all wore masks to reduce the risk of passing infection to Ralph, whose immune system is “somewhat compromised” at the moment. It was really nice to get together and have a visit. We were sorry that Steve, Maya, Kaien, and Danna were not able to join us but having a baby throws your schedule off and it can make what would formerly have been an easy outing into a complicated journey. Of course they’ll get into the swing of things soon but we all missed seeing them (especially Kai).
I may have mentioned that I’m quite busy at work. That is still going on and I really don’t mind the business so much as the changes on changes that undo previous changes. That can be a little tedious, but it’s a living, I guess. I’m also not so busy that I couldn’t go to lunch with a few co-workers and my retired, former boss. We try to get together ever few months and I really look forward to those days. There were only four of us this time and we went to &Pizza in Downtown Crown. I had a slightly modified Maverick, which ironically is their take on the ubiquitous meat-lover’s pizza. Still, it was good and I’d have it again.
I took some more photos of my fish this evening and this is, I think, the best of them. This is a brilliant rasbora, (Rasbora einthovenii) and they are a good fish to have in a community aquarium. These are about three inches long and quite lively, especially at feeding time. Getting a good picture is made more difficult by their almost constant movement from one end of the tank to the other. I got this one while he (or she, I really don’t know) was making his u-turn at this end of the tank, above the brick that is the only decoration. I really need to get a bit more stuff in there for them to swim around.
Update: I initially labeled this picture as a brilliant rasbora but looking at it again, that’s wrong. There are rasboras in the tank but they are smaller and have red at the base of their tail fins. This is a Siamese algae eater, Crossocheilus oblongus. Sorry for the confusion.