Columbine (Aquilegia)

Columbine (Aquilegia)

Columbine (Aquilegia)

We have quite a bit of columbine (Aquilegia) growing in our yard. Many of the plants are seedlings and most look something like this. There are lots of quite fancy and brightly colored columbines among the 60 or 70 species (and many more varieties) but we’re happy enough with the slightly more staid, darker colors. Backlit by the sun the red comes alive and is quite bright. Growing mostly in the shade, however, it rarely gets this treatment. Still, it’s a good plant to have and isn’t generally bothered by rabbits or deer.

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Clouds

Clouds

Clouds

I love clouds. There are days when I could just lie on the grass and watch them for hours. Actually, I’d almost always much rather do that than sit in my office and work. But then, I understand if you stop coming to the office they stop paying you. That’s an incentive. But watching clouds is so nice. This afternoon I found a spot with a good, uninterrupted view of the sky and took this picture, along with about ten more, of the clouds. This one was taken with my 10-20mm zoom pulled in to 20mm. I took some wider shots but frankly, with clouds its hard to tell which are which.

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Evening Clouds

Evening Clouds

Evening Clouds

When I got home from work this evening I took some pictures of flowers in the yard. Then, just before 8:00, as the sun was getting ready to set, I went out with Cathy and we enjoyed watching the clouds rushing across the darkening sky. They were moving quite fast and mostly were just dark. Actually, what I first got my camera for was to take pictures of the light in the tree tops. The trees were in shadow, except for the tops which were lit with bright orange. Occasionally a piece of cloud would also light up, and that’s what I have picked for you today.

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Blue-eyed Grass with Syrphid Fly

Blue-eyed Grass with Syrphid Fly

Blue-eyed Grass with Syrphid Fly

It was a beautiful, warm day today and after church and lunch we decided to go to Fehr’s Nursery in Burtonsville. They have a nice selection of plants including the annuals that Cathy’s been planting in a small area at the front of our yard the last few years. I bring my camera and spend most of my time taking pictures of flowers. This year I also bought a miniature rose called ‘Cutie Pie’ but that’s not what this photo is. This is a flower of Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium species) with a syrphid fly (Toxomerus marginatus) perched on it. These are quite ubiquitous, little creatures in the area and they don’t cause any bother at all. I think they’re kind of pretty, as well.

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Hyacinthoides hispanica (Spanish Bluebell)

Hyacinthoides hispanica (Spanish Bluebell)

Hyacinthoides hispanica (Spanish Bluebell)

Although it would have been lovely to spend some of the weekend with Dorothy, coming home yesterday, on Friday, was a good idea. We were tired and certainly not ready to go back to work this morning. While we were gone, the yard and garden continued to progress through its usual spring sequence. The Exbury azalea is in full, glorious bloom, with its hot, bright orange flowers. The Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) is also in bloom in the garden under the cherry trees. It’s not closely related to the Virginia bluebell, being much more closely related to the Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis).

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Coy Pond, Gordon College

Coy Pond, Gordon College

Coy Pond, Gordon College

We have been here about a week and we had a really good time. It started with Hannah and Drew’s wedding last Saturday. That was a lot of fun and a beautiful start to a new family. Since then we’ve spent time with Dorothy as well as some time without, when she was in class or otherwise engaged. The weather was often a bit less than sunny, although there were two days when the sky was clear for at least part of the day. The rest of the time it was damp. One day it rained quite hard. But rainy, overcast, and particularly foggy weather can be very beautiful. I think the pictures taken at the beach on the rainy days are my favorite from the trip.

This morning we checked out of our hotel and drove back to campus. We met Dorothy for a little while between classes and I took this picture, along with a few others, at Coy Pond. When Dorothy headed off to class, we called for an Uber and were picked up within 10 minutes. She got us to the airport earlier than expected and then our flight was delayed two hours. Five hours in Boston’s Logan Airport isn’t my idea of a good day. But we made it and we are home again.

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Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Back in 2009, we were in the suburbs of Boston for Steve and Maya’s wedding. After the wedding we moved to a B&B in Jamaica Plain and one day mom, Ralph, Tsai-Hong, and I went to the two art museums on either side of where mom went to grad school. The first of those was the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and I had the pleasure of taking Cathy and Dorothy there this afternoon. It’s quite a place and really worth a visit, if you have the time. The building has a covered courtyard in the center, shown here, and the galleries are around that on each of the first three floors. If you are interested, there are room guides on the museum’s web site.

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Singing Beach and Lobster Cove

Cathy and Dorothy on Singing Beach

Cathy and Dorothy on Singing Beach

After our morning outing to Essex, we returned to Gordon and picked up Dorothy after her last class. It had been wet all morning but not it was raining lightly and the fog was a bit more dense (or the clouds were closer to the ground, which I guess comes to the same thing). From the school we went to Singing Beach. If you think a beach is only beautiful on a sunny day, then either you’ve never been there on a day like this or we’ll have to agree to disagree. I had to keep my camera in the lee of my body to keep it reasonably dry but I took quite a few pictures, including this one of Cathy and Dorothy walking away into the mist.

Lobster Cove

Lobster Cove

From Singing Beach we went to Lobster Cove, a quiet little place with no provision for parking but again, beautiful in the mist. This panorama was made from six shots taken with my 100mm lens, vertically oriented. Lobster Cove is a quiet little place and there are houses on both sides but especially on a day like this, it’s a peaceful retreat from the world. Every now and then larger waves would hit the opening at just the right angle to roll in to the beach and there were sea birds about but otherwise, it was just the noise of the wind and the distant sound of waves on rocks further out.

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Near Essex, Mass.

Near Essex, Mass.

Near Essex, Mass.

Dorothy was in class again today so Cathy and I were on our own. We had breakfast in a little place in Manchester by the Sea and then drove up towards Essex. We wanted to be outdoors and I thought some of the tidal marshes in the area would be pretty. As it turns out, we got there at just about high tide for one of the highest tides of the year. Also, it was overcast and a bit foggy, which gave the whole scene an eerie, surreal quality. We had a lovely chat with a local homeowner who was out with her dog and then enjoyed the view.

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Loon

Loon

Loon

We spent a fair amount of time with Dorothy today. We drove into Salem for a while but it was cold and wet so we didn’t stay out as long as we might have done. We did see this loon in the water next to Derby Wharf. I only had my 100mm lens so couldn’t get as close as I would have liked but at least you can tell what it is. Dorothy went to dinner with some friends so Cathy and I were on our own. We had a very nice meal in a place called Toscana Bar Italiano. The food was quite good and I think we were a bit lucky to get a table without waiting. It’s a smallish place so it can easily fill up. The rain probably helped us a bit this evening.

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Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island

Dorothy had classes most of today so Cathy and I drove down to Providence in the afternoon to visit Abba. We went to Conimicut Point Park on the Providence River and then parked above Prospect Terrace on College Hill. This panorama was taken from there. I was preoccupied with finding my way, which included a number of false starts because a couple roads were closed for utility work. The west side of College Hill is quite steep and getting to the top of a hill like that only to find you can’t get through is a little disconcerting. I’m going to use that as an excuse for locking my keys in the car. We didn’t realize I had done that until after dinner when we returned to the car, only to find that I didn’t have my keys. Normally, Cathy would have had one but this is the car that Dorothy has at school so she had the other key. Thank goodness for AAA. It was a nice visit and a good day, otherwise.

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Gordon College

Gordon College

Gordon College

When we got to Boston on Friday it was raining. As we drove to New Hampshire, it was raining even harder. In the evening, after the wedding rehearsal (which we were not really part of except being asked to take a few pictures) it was drizzling and quite cool. Then for the wedding yesterday, it wasn’t actually raining most of the day but it looked like it was about to all day. This morning, the sky was a beautiful, clear blue, about as lovely as any you’ll see. We drove back in time to go to Dorothy’s church and then spent a little time at Gordon College while Dorothy took care of some business.

Gordon College Chapel

Gordon College Chapel

We walked across the campus and about a third the way around Coy Pond. The skunk cabbages are in full bloom and the cinnamon ferns (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) are sending up their furry crosiers. I took some picturs of those, of course, but I like these two from the main part of the campus. The first is in front of the Phillips Music Center, looking towards the chapel. The second is of the chapel from across the quad.

When Dorothy was done, she took us to two of her favorite places. First we went to Halibut Point State Park at the northern tip of Cape Ann. Then we drove through Rockport and Gloucester to Rafes Chasm. Both were beautiful and I can understand why she likes them so much. We talked about visiting them during a storm and she said that she and her friend when there during a squall and there were “waves the size of houses.” Sounds wonderful.

We also visited a small graveyard in Beverly, which was pretty in the late afternoon light. A busy day with lots to do and done, but very nice.

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Hannah and Drew’s Wedding

Hannah and Drew's Wedding

Hannah and Drew’s Wedding

A wedding is a big deal. A wedding for people you know and love is a bigger deal. That being the case, I don’t feel like I need to restrict myself to one picture of Hannah and Drew. The picture I posted yesterday was before the rehearsal, as they were sitting in a hallway waiting for everyone to get organized. Actually, the wedding coordinator was pretty phenomenal, from what I could tell, and had things under control but even at the best of times, there are a lot of moving parts and they all need to move in harmony. With her help, along with a cast of thousands (well, over a dozen, anyway), things went about as smoothly as they can be expected to go.

Hannah and Drew's Wedding

Hannah and Drew’s Wedding

The first picture here is from the wedding, as you can probably tell. At this point, Hannah and Drew are married and have turned to face their family and friends as the pastor introduces them for the first time as husband and wife. The second picture was taken during the rather lengthy photo session that followed the ceremony. I didn’t take a lot while that was happening, because the official photographers had it under control but this was a nice lineup of the wedding party and I couldn’t resist taking a few. Hannah and Drew, I meant what I told you that evening. If there is ever anything you need and it’s in my power to give it, you only have to ask.

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Hannah and Drew

Hannah and Drew

Hannah and Drew

As many of you know, Cathy and I few up to Boston this morning. I took my first Uber ride from Logan Airport and we met up with Dorothy. At about 1:30 we headed up to New Hampshire for the rehearsal for Hannah and Drew’s wedding, which is tomorrow. Cathy and I were not actually involved in the wedding, beyond providing one of the bridesmaids. We got a call, though, asking if I could take a few pictures at the rehearsal. Of course I was only too happy to do so. This is one of the first pictures I got after arriving at the church and I’m pretty happy with it. Preparations for a wedding can be somewhat stressful but they were (mostly) relaxed and everyone was in a good mood.

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Cathy and a Pink Dogwood

Cathy and a Pink Dogwood

Cathy and a Pink Dogwood

The pink dogwood is out and we’re about to enter the most floriferous time of the year. The dogwoods are probably at or just past their peak. Likewise the redbuds. The azaleas are just starting and will be in full bloom soon, which is a pretty spectacular time in our area. The azaleas are followed within a few weeks by some of the early roses, some of which continue to bloom throughout the summer.

I took some pictures of the yard this afternoon. First I got some overall shots showing shrubs, trees, grass, etc. Then I took some close up shots of a phlox plant that is blooming along the back of the yard. The dogwood that Cathy is standing next to in this photo is in the front, too close to the house, really but it’s such a beautiful tree when it’s in bloom that I’m loath to take it out. I tried planting a tall camellia under it that I could cut it out in favor of, but that was just before two very cold winters and it died. I should probably try again. But, for now, we’re enjoying it.

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Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

I went out into the woods next to my building today. It was overcast but mild and a nice day to be outdoors. I had only walked a few paces into the woods when I spotted these little mushrooms by a fallen log. I got down on the ground and took a bunch of pictures but I’m not really all that pleased with any of them. The contrast between the white tops of the caps to the dark undersides was just too much for the sensor in my camera to take. But, it’s what I have a picture of today. Hopefully tomorrow will be more interesting.

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“Spirit of Freedom”

'Spirit of Freedom' by Muriel Castanis, 1992

“Spirit of Freedom” by Muriel Castanis, 1992

I’ve driven past the Washington Street side of the Rockville courthouse a hundred times but never noticed this sculpture before. I’m usually just turning onto Washington Street from Jefferson and then paying attention to oncoming traffic because I’m usually turning left again. Because this is on the right, I am generally looking the other way. For some reason I noticed it this evening, though. I parked and went over to get a closer look. Apparently it is titled “Spirit of Freedom” and was created in 1992 by Muriel Castanis.

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Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

The lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is up and in bloom. There was some of this in a bed under some trees in the back yard when we moved here. Cathy has transplanted some to a few other locations and this is growing around the southeast corner of the house. It’s such a pretty little flower and I love looking at them every year. They don’t last a long time so when they come out I can’t wait around. But for the short week or so that they are in bloom, they are worth taking time for.

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Easter Sunrise Service

Easter Sunrise Service

Easter Sunrise Service

I realize that I’m more than a week behind in posting this. It’s been a busy time and I’ll try to get caught up shortly. Easter sunrise services are one of my favorite events. It’s partly a function of how much I appreciate Easter. To me it’s much more important than Christmas. I realize you cannot have Easter without having had Christmas but without Easter, Christmas would be meaningless. Easter also has some wonderful music associated with it and we aren’t overwhelmed with non-Easter, seasonal music as we are for Christmas.

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Pink Flowering Dogwood

Pink Flowering Dogwood

Pink Flowering Dogwood

This pink flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is in front of our house and it’s coming into full bloom. I really love pink dogwoods, although they don’t do as well these days because of anthracnose and the dogwood borer, one of which I photographed on Tuesday, August 21, 2012. It’s a pretty little thing but they do significant damage to this pretty, native tree. There are not reliably pink kousa dogwoods (Cornus kousa) and they have fewer pests, at least so far. They bloom later and have pretty fruit. I’d also like to get a Cornel cherry (Cornus mas), which has small, yellow flowers a bit earlier than the flowering dogwood.

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