I went into the office today. We had planned to start coming back to the office originally last fall and then at the new year, but each time it got pushed back. Starting March 1, however, it actually happened. I came in on March 1 and again today. In the early afternoon I went outside for a short break, walking through the empty lot next to my office. I saw this red-tailed hawk (em>Buteo jamaicensis) and was quick enough to get a pretty nice photograph. I’ve been thinking for some time about getting a longer lens for this sort of thing, but so far, the longest I have is 100mm.
Cathy and I took a walk to Lake Frank this afternoon. We walked along the shore of the lake towards the northeast end. We saw a belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), which was nice. Then we rounded the point and had a good look at the bald eagle’s nest, which you can see in the trees here. As we were looking, one of the adult bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flew off the nest and I was able to get a reasonable photo. We see these birds reasonably often and it’s good to be reminded of how big, majestic, and beautiful they are. We’re really privileged to have this pair nesting here year after year.
We had a really nice windfall this week. A friend of ours helps people get rid of things from their homes and yards. He called me the other day and said he had been asked to take this adjustable bed from a home after the person it was bought for passed away. It’s brand new and was never actually used. We moved it into our garage but between then and when I’m writing this (in April) it has been moved into Margaret’s room and it makes it much easier for her to sit up in bed for eating, reading, or watching TV.
Amaryllis ‘Lemon Star’
We’re in our second flush of flowers from our ‘amaryllis forest’ and I have to say, while we’ve always had either red or red and white blooms before, I’m really happy with this white and green one. It’s called ‘Lemon Star’ and it’s a real show stopper. I’ve moved them from our dining room table onto a table by the window. This allowed me to use the leaves of the fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) to provide support to the long stems and keep them from tipping over. A few of them were noticeably shorter, which is a real benefit, but for the tall stems, some external support is needed.
We met Dorothy, Nadia, and Lexi for Korean BBQ this evening at 9292 Korean BBQ in Annandale. It was a lot of fun and the food was terrific. With my diet being so protein heavy and carb light, it was a good meal for me. At the same time, even as it is, I need to control my portion, especially now as I’ve lost 50 pounds. So, it’s not like I could eat here with impunity. But once in a while it’s nice to have a real treat and the food was really good. I was surprised by the pork neck, which I’ve never had before. Very good flavor. Recommended (but not cheap).
We were out at Rocklands today and walked over to see the ram. He was just chillin’ in the sun. We also visited the chickens and a little later Dorothy came and we went in to see the kittens. They leave this week for their new home, so it was our last chance for a while. It’s good to get outside, even in the winter when it’s cold. We’ve found it especially important the last two years, as we don’t commute to work. For me, in particular, with my office in the basement, I need to get out once in a while and see the sun and the sky.
We got together for mom’s (Dot’s) birthday this evening. We weren’t able to last year, with all the restrictions. That is to say, we probably could have but we didn’t. It’s great to be able to do this again. The funniest thing is that mom made and brought her own birthday cake. She also brought presents (quilts that she had made but not yet delivered). Regardless, it was a really nice family dinner and we need to do this more, again. And thanks to Tsai-Hong for ordering and picking up the food.
We went for a walk at Lake Needwood this morning, starting at Needwood Mansion and walking around the south end of the lake as far as the boat house. It was a chilly day and mostly overcast, but nice to be outdoors. This bear is near the boat house and I think I’ve posted a photo of Cathy with it once before (quick check, yep, see Sunday, December 02, 2018). But that’s okay, I’m allowed to repeat. And the pictures are different, in any case. The only constant is change.
Dorothy had two kittens for a couple weeks. They were named Stevie and Brian, although I’m not sure which this is. They are not identical and if they are next to each other I can tell them apart but they’re similar enough that it’s not simple when they are separate. They live in the ‘red house’ at the farm, or at least they did when I took this photo. They’ve been placed in a permanent home and have move on by the time I’m writing this. But Dorothy should be able to visit them from time to time. Personally, I’m not a cat person, although I don’t really mind them. Except for the mild allergy, that is.
Even after giving a few away, we had a bunch of amaryllises this year. They really have put on a show and right now are just about as good as they are going to get. And they vary quite a bit in terms of color, too. I particularly like the white one in the back with a little green in the center. Of course the pure red blooms are pretty awesome, too, as well as the red and white in the upper left. Heck, they’re all really nice. Together they’re spectacular. Many of them have second blooming stems starting, so we’ll get even more flowers in a little while.
Dorothy flew home from New Orleans this evening and I picked her up at the airport. Whenever I pick someone up at the airport, I generally try to get there a little early so I’m waiting for them rather than them waiting for me. Unfortunately, although I got there about 20 minutes early, so did Dorothy’s flight. So, she texted me as I was parking and I didn’t notice and then I went in to wait for her. But she assumed I’d pick her up at the curb and we waited for each other. We figured it out eventually.
We went to the Ag. History Farm Park today and took a walk by the creek. On the way to the creek I took this picture of ice, which I think is pretty cool. I didn’t take a lot of pictures, otherwise, just a few of a deer skull and a few of the old farm house. It was really nice out, with the sky a deep blue that we only get around here in the winter time.
Cathy and I went for burgers at the Rio this evening. It was cold and damp, with a light drizzle coming down, so it’s not too surprising that there were not a lot of folks walking alongside the pond. Nevertheless, we did and enjoyed the brisk and fresh air. The bandstand was, again, unsurprisingly, deserted. It’s a nice design, I think, with good lines. We’ve been a few times when bands were playing, children dancing, and everyone enjoying the show. Tonight, the show was solitude. Not everyones’ favorite performer, but worth seeing once in a while.
We drove up to Frederick today for a couple things. First, just for something a little different. After parking we walked around a bit and went into a few shops. This photo is the upper stories of a part of the Beaux-Arts style FCB Bank building, which occupies this and the building to the left, at the corner of Patrick and Market Streets in downtown Frederick. Second, there is an store specializing in houseplants and we thought it would be nice to see what’s available. It was, too. Finally, we went to the Frederick branch of Wonder Book. The Gaithersburg location is one of our two local used book shops and we frequent it fairly regularly. But it’s nice to see what this other location has from time to time. As usual, we left with a bag full of books.
Last night we had a little wet snow. I went out to push a shovel through it so that it wouldn’t be too icy this morning because I knew we’d have someone coming to the house early today. There was a little ice at the bottom, under the snow, so I wasn’t able to get it all up. I went out this morning to put some salt down to melt what was left and make it a bit safer for anyone coming to the house and I saw these footprints in the ice. I’m trying to figure out what sort of creature would leave prints of this sort. Any ideas?
We have the day off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day today, for only the second time. It’s nice to have something after New Year’s Day, although we still have a fairly long gap before our next holiday, Memorial Day near the end of May. Still, we’ll take what we can get. There was a little snow on the ground today but the sky was clear and it was sunny and nice. We took a walk in the neighborhood and enjoyed being outdoors. I also finished reading Evenor, a collection of three short stories, by George MacDonald and started reading Piers the Ploughman, written sometime around 1370 by William Langland. So, a nice day, overall.
We decided to go to Brookside Gardens today. It’s one of the county’s nicest places. They have two, connected conservatories, the first of which has mostly permanent plantings while the second changes more often and more extensively with the seasons. In addition to spending time in amongst the green, we walked in the grounds. It certainly wasn’t crowded on this fairly cold day but it was worth if to see the witchhazel starting to bloom. If you’re looking for a small, flowering tree that will give you joy in late January or early February, you could do a lot worse. This is Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Robert’.
I bought Cathy some paperwhites and planted them in mid-December. They started growing almost immediately and have given us a wonderful display. I’m not particularly fond of the smell, but it’s a small price to pay. They really are lovely and at a time when flowers of any kind are quite welcome. They are a variety of Narcissus tazetta, which is quite cosmopolitan, with sub-species found native to Europe, through the middle east and into southeast Asia. In contrast to many bulbs which require a period of cold in order for them to bloom, paperwhites don’t need any special treatment. Simply plant them, keep them properly watered, watch and enjoy.
We took a walk in the neighborhood today and came across this snow man. We didn’t build it and frankly, I don’t even remember where it was now. He’s gone south for the winter or something since the photo was taken. At least I haven’t seen him around since. We also saw a nice snow fort with walls six feet high, made by filling a five gallon bucket with snow and then turning it out to make a block. These were stacked to make the walls of the fort. Then a smaller bucket was used to make a smaller top tier. Pretty cool.
We had a bit more snow fall over night and the back yard is mostly white. It’s not the most attractive garden in the winter, of course, with most of the interest coming in the spring but lasting late into the summer. In the winter it’s mostly brown. The snow help, of course. We have two bird baths set up with heaters in them that keep the water free of ice. So, even on a day where most standing water is frozen, the birds have a source of liquid water. Actually, it rarely gets cold enough around here that all the streams freeze over, but it’s nice to have the birds come here.