These little things are quite shy and wouldn’t let me get very close so this is cropped from a larger image. It could be a little sharper but I’m pretty pleased with it.
Tagged With: Green
The world (at least this part of it) has turned green. It’s been a lovely spring. It’s getting quite hot today and summer is basically upon us.
I was dropping Dorothy and Chris off for band practice and Chris suggested this tree as a photo subject. Unfortunately, there was a basketball hoop in front of it. So, the exercise was to remove the basketball hoop (and a bench, as well) and make it look natural. Did I succeed?
I went out into the woods next to my building today and took a few pictures. As I was heading back I came across this Katydid, probably a Pterophylla camellifolia, who flew up onto the trunk of a tree as I approached. He somewhat reluctantly allowed me to get close enough for a few pictures.
I remember Cathy had one of these on her shoulder one time and when she noticed it but before she knew what it was, she totally freaked out. Pretty funny.
A funny thing happened on the way to an earthquake. Actually, I was driving to the Verizon store to get new phones for all of us when I looked in my rear view mirror. This is what I saw. This picture was taken from the driver’s seat, stopped at a light, with the lens pointed into the interior rear view mirror. Not a bad picture, considering that. Anyway, that’s about the greenest hair I’ve ever seen.
Peppers — ranging from the merely hot to the scorching.
It was a hot but beautiful day and I went out into the lot next to my office this afternoon. I saw and photographed a young white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), an eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas), an eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens), and an eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica). As I sat next to a dried up drainage pond I watched grasshoppers moving around. I was able to get close enough to this one to get a pretty good photograph. This is one of over 260 Melanoplus species, which are spur-throated grasshoppers, subfamily Melanoplinae of the short-horned grasshoppers, family Acrididae. After I came back to my parking lot, I walked down to the pond and saw a pair of belted kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon) and got a pictures of one that’s good enough to confirm the sighting but not much better than that.
A few years ago I planted a few fastigiate English oaks. The English oak, Quercus robur is a handsome tree with beautiful, gracefully lobed leaves, similar to the white oak, Quercus alba of North America. The trees I bought were a cultivar that grows very narrow and upright (which is what fastigiate means). I bought a bunch of small trees and planted planted them in various places around the yard, assuming some would not live but hoping at least one would. There is one growing to the north of the house and another in the back of the back yard. This leaf is on the second tree, in the back, and something has been eating the bulk of the leaf, leaving a skeleton and actually one surface of the leaf intact. I think it’s kind of beautiful, in spite of the fact that this is insect damage. There are enough untouched leaves that I’m not worried for the tree.
I didn’t get a chance to go out today to take any pictures. By the time I got around to it, it was almost 10:00 PM so I took some pictures of houseplants. We have a few Thanksgiving cactus plants Schlumbergera truncata that have started to bloom and I got a few decent pictures of those. Then I moved on to this Kalanchoe variety. The genus Kalanchoe has about 125 species with only one species from the Americas. Most are from southern and eastern Africa and Madagascar while a few are from southeast Asia and China. This one is not in bloom but was started from one of the small plantlets (or bulbils) that grow along the margin of the leaves, as you can see in this photograph.
I walked around my building around mid-day today, taking a few pictures. Most trees are starting to realize that it’s autumn, although this year it looks like there will be a lot more yellow and brown and less red and orange. Some trees haven’t gotten the memo yet, though, like this Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven), whose leaves are still their summer green. It’s a weed tree around here, growing up anywhere there is unused space, often quickly outgrowing other trees. It gets quite large. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s web site, it was introduced from its native China into New York City in 1820 as a street tree and food source for silkworm caterpillars.
My great grandfather Robert was born in Cumbria in England in 1837. He immigrated along with his parents and at least some siblings to a town on the Canada bank of the St. Lawrence River and served in the Canadian Army during the American Civil War. It was here that he met his future wife, Matilda (whose family we think might have been loyalists who moved across the river during the American Revolutionary War). In 1872 Robert traveled by ship to Panama, crossing the isthmus on horse back. From the west coast of Panama he took another ship to San Francisco. Finally, he traveled inland to Nevada, where he began mining copper, silver, and lead ore. He wrote to Matilda, who joined him there after the railway was completed and they were married circa 1882. Robert and Matilda had three children, Ada, Robert, and Ralph. We have visited what remains of the town in Nevada a few times and on a trip there in 1974 I found this unbroken wine bottle. It’s doubtful that there is any direct connection between the bottle and my ancestors but it reminds me of the place, and that’s important to me.
We had the first snowfall of the winter today and it was quite nice. We got at least two inches although it never really amounted to anything on pavement, which was warm enough to melt all of it. That includes driveways and sidewalks as well as roads, so driving was not a problem. That’s just as well because I had to go get a few things for the bathroom and Cathy went to a bridal shower for a friend. The snow was pretty on bushes and trees and this arborvitae (Thuja) looked really nice with fluffy white snow held in its branches.
The other day I posted a photo of a small souvenir from Republic, Michigan, where some of Cathy’s ancestors lived and at least one was involved in iron mining before moving to Alaska to mine gold. Well, my family has a little mining history, as well. My great grandfather came from England with his parents and at least some of his siblings. They lived in Canada for a while and he was in the military there during the United States Civil War. In the early 1970s he moved to Nevada where he mined for copper and silver. This is a piece of copper ore including both blue azurite (Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2) and green malachite (Cu2CO3(OH)2). It’s a small piece found in the area he lived and worked and I think it’s sort of pretty. This piece is wet, which contributes to its shininess.
Cathy’s brother is in town and we’ve begun to work on their mom’s house today. It’s going to be a longish process and there will be parts of the process that are going to be quite difficult. Today we were just beginning to scratch the surface of 50 years of things, some of which brought back happy memories for them and some less so. In one drawer I came across a plastic grocery bag full of parrot feathers. The cleaning lady would collect them and make them into crafts. None of us are particularly fond of the crafts, although we appreciated the sentiment. The parrots are gone (Red and then Roscoe have past on to that great bird cage in the sky. Caesar is living with dozens of other birds and apparently now is palling around with two toucans (fourcans?). These feathers went into to the trash.
I have always had a bit of a thing for ferns. You might say I’m front of ferns. Or maybe not. Anyway, this is one of our nicest native ferns, the northern maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum). This one, a piece of one that I took from a clump that my dad had growing in his yard and then dug up again when we moved. It’s growing in full sun and tends to be a bit burned by the end of the summer. I really should get some growing in a shadier part of the yard, but this it happy enough that I don’t need to move the whole thing. The genus name Adiantum comes from the Greek word meaning unwetted, which refers to its water repellent foliage. The specific name pedatum means cut like a bird’s foot in reference to the fronds.
I was down at my mom’s after work and looked around for something to photograph. There isn’t really anything in bloom in her yard right now, but the leaves on the fig tree that dad planted caught my eye. The common fig, Ficus carica, is not completely hardy in our area but planted in a protected spot and given some winter protection, it can be successfully grown. My grandparents, in southern North Carolina, got a lot more figs off their much larger tree. This tree never produced enough figs on its own to make any significant quantity of preserves so mom had to supplement it with figs bought at the market.
After work I met my mom at her house and we emptied the garage. I have a few pictures of it, showing how it’s leaning, particularly at the back. We loaded trash into her van to take to the county transfer station and I took a few things to give away or otherwise deal with. When I got home and was unloading my van I noticed this praying mantis on the roof of Margaret’s car. I believe but am not sure that it is a Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis). I think it is not fully grown, as it was only about two inches long. Like true bugs, grasshoppers, cockroaches, and crickets (to name a few), the mantises undergo what is known as incomplete metamorphosis. That is, instead of larval and pupal stages, the emerge from their eggs as nymphs and grow through a series of instars, where they shed their exoskeletons as they grow.
In 1966, Cathy’s family lived in Bangkok, Thailand. In December of that year the fifth Asian Games, also known as V Asiad, were held there. While going through things from her mom’s house, we found a fan of woven and dried palm leaves, dyed green and pink, with a sticker commemorating the games. The sticker says, “Fifth Asian Games, Ever Onward, Bangkok 1966” surrounding a red sun (the official logo of the games) and with twenty interlocking yellow circles. Interestingly, the logo displayed on the Wikipedia page for the even only has eleven circles and they are blue but all the commemorative coins I’ve found photos of have twenty. Not sure what the deal is with that.
We also have a few t-shirts, souvenirs from both the 1966 games and from the sixth Asian Games, held in 1970, also in Bangkok, Thailand. According to Wikipedia, Éc;Originally Seoul, South Korea was selected to host the 6th Games but it declined due to both financial reasons and security threats from neighboring North Korea but eventually the city finally hosted in 1986. Previous host Thailand stepped in to save the Asiad. A total number of 2,400 athletes, coming from 18 countries, competed in this Asiad.”
One interesting thing about this fan is the mistake in the weaving. Can you spot it? Once you see it, you cannot not see it, I’m afraid.
This little green, caramic frog is sitting on our piano. I’m not sure exactly where it came from. Cathy probably knows but I haven’t bothered to ask. It probably showed up in a box at her mom’s house sometime in the last nine months. I don’t remember when it appeared on the piano, but there it is. As you may be able to see, it’s front left leg has been broken. It doesn’t affect the frogs ability to hop, though. That’s mostly because ceramic frogs don’t move very much, I suppose.
I’m a little late posting this but after yesterday’s snow squall, we had a nice cover of maybe as much as two inches of snow this morning. It was quite cool, down around 10°F (-12°C) and I put some salt down but being that cold, it’s not going to melt very much. I took some pictures in the yard before Cathy and I left for work. The sun was bright and was shining through the branches of trees that had some ice on them, which was lovely but hard to record very well. I decided to post this photo of snow on the branches of an Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) that is in the back of our yard. I planted four of them in the fall of 2007 and three survived. This is the tallest of them and is about 15 feet tall, I’d say. It’s starting to look like a real tree. The other two are doing fine but are not as tall, being about 12 and 7 feet tall respectively.
Solomon is our pet red-lored amazon parrot (Amazona autumnalis) and he just turned 33 years old last month. We don’t know specifically when he was hatched but he was about nine months old when we got him in October, 1986, so we figure January of that year is close enough. Since it’s now February, we know that’s past. He’s a pretty thing but fairly timid and is not really what you’d call a talker. He says a few things that you can almost understand but that’s about it. He also doesn’t chew on toys or anything else we put in his cage, so we don’t bother any more. He obviously eats but he’s not interested in chewing other things. He needs his beak and nails trimmed but otherwise, he’s in pretty good shape. You can see in this photo that he has new feathers coming in, which is always a good sign.
It was a beautiful day today and I needed to get out of my office for a few minutes to clear my head. I’ve been working on two specific problems with one of the systems I’m working on. I’m pretty sure I managed to get one of them solved and settled. The other is proving to be a little trickier but I’ve managed to get it pretty close to working. Sometimes it’s useful to step away for a little bit and think about something else. Then when you come back, you can see it with somewhat fresher eyes. I find that I often come up with new ideas at that point. This is true in other realms than programming. When I’m working on a crossword puzzle and get about as much done as I can manage, putting it down and walking away and then picking it up later is generally all I need to find some new answers. Today’s foray out into the woods let me to a bunch of moss, and that’s what today’s photo features.
It rained today and there was water on the the plants in the yard. The forecast was for a chance of rain all through the weekend but (as I write this on Monday) it turned out to be fairly nice. I really love the pattern of water on plant leaves, in any case, and these fresh, young leaves of hosta in a pot on our patio are such a beautiful, vivid green I couldn’t resist them. I also took pictures of water on Columbine flowers and leave and on a really pretty bracket fungus that was growing on the decaying roots of an oak tree that the county removed a few years ago.
This gooseberry plant (Ribes uva-crispa) was originally put in by Albert in their yard. After he passed away, Brady said I could have it and it’s growing in the back of our garden. It blooms fairly early for a fruit bush and the fruit ripens fairly quickly. I really enjoy gooseberry jam, as I like most things of a tart nature. One thing to watch for when pruning and picking the fruit from a gooseberry bush is the thorns. They are quite sharp and vicious. There used to be a federal ban on growing gooseberry and other Ribes species but that was lifted in 1966. A few states still prohibit the growth of some or all Ribes species but they are all legally grown in Maryland.
In 2013 I bought some fastigiate oaks from Musser Forests (http://www.musserforests.com/). Fastigiate is from Latin and means narrowing toward the top and when applied to trees, having upright usually clustered branches. Trees that have a more narrow form are often called fastigiate and these oaks are actually named Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’. The English oak is a pretty tree, especially when it gets large, but it can be a bit much for a suburban garden, needing a huge space to be grown to full advantage. These narrow trees, however, should do reasonably well here. They are not quite as hardy as the species but I’ve seen them growing in the district and there is a huge one only a few blocks away, so I’m hopeful. I have them growing in two parts of the yard, one on the north end of the yard and one along the back (west side). Planted in 2013, they are already more than 10 feet tall, and growing quite quickly.
I’ve posted pictures of this fern before and I’ll probably do so again. It’s a pretty fern and worth growing, if you have any interest in ferns. I actually have it in a less than ideal spot that gets pretty much full sun from about noon onwards. It would be happier in full shade. The Missouri Botanical Garden page on this plant says, “High summer heat may cause fronds to brown by mid to late summer, particularly if good soil moisture is not maintained and/or plants are grown in too much sun.” Yep, that happens here. I really need to move it, or at least take a piece or two of it to grow in a better location. It does amazingly well in the sun, but it could be so much happier.
Dorothy brought home a rooted leaf from a fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) a while back and we’ve been caring for it since then. It’s grown quite well and is now over four feet tall and the stem has gotten strong enough that it’s standing on its own. We had it in the kitchen until recently but have now moved it to the dining room, just inside a west facing window. Where these are native, in central and western tropical Africa, they can grow to over 60 feet tall. As a houseplant, they generally are kept below eight feet tall, unless you have a large space for them. I love the green of the leaves with the sun shining through them, as seen here.
I came across this spider on the head of a black-eyed Susan this evening. It was pretty hard to photograph, being really small (a couple millimeters long at most, and the wind was moving the flower slightly. It was also late enough in the day that the light was starting to fade. This particular shot is reasonably sharp. This is the sort of spider that you could easily walk past and not see, it’s so small. There’s no way it could bite you if it wanted to, because it simply wouldn’t have the strength to break your skin. I find it amazing that spiders as little as this can survive but there are lots of very small insects, as well, for them to live on.
I took pictures of insects on aster flowers this evening. There was a bumble bee covered with little white dots that I’m pretty sure were eggs of some kind and didn’t bode well for the little critter. There was also a beautiful, metallic green, sweat bee (family Halictidae) and I got a picture of it as it lifted off the flower, which would have been amazing if it had been in better focus. The light was relatively low and I was using a flash with a white reflector for these pictures, which helped considerably. I also had a 25mm extension tube behind my 100mm macro lens, which helped me get that much closer.
I met Cathy outside for a little while early this afternoon. As we were walking back towards the entrance to my building we saw a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) near the parking lot and I was able to get a few nice photographs of her. Cathy went back to her office and I went down near the pond and took some photos of insects. There was a type of fly that I hadn’t seen before. I thought it was a thick-headed fly (Family Conopidae) but it was identified as a Dioprosopa clavata, a syrphid fly (Family Halictidae) that resembles a thick-headed fly. Today’s photo, however, is of this metalic green sweat bee, a female in the genus Augochlorella.
We had our first snow of the winter overnight. It wasn’t anything that was going to snarl traffic, melting on roadways and not amounting to more than a thin covering on the grass, but it was snow. Early morning after a snow is often quite pretty, especially if the clouds that brought the snow have cleared and it’s sunny. That was the case today. I took a few pictures in the front yard, including this one of the holly near our driveway. The robins generally come at some point in the winter and devour all the berries from this tree. They congregated in another holly a couple days ago and have pretty much stripped that one.
Last week Dorothy bought some white tulips and had them in a vase in her room. Before going away for the long weekend she moved them down to the dining room table, so we got to enjoy them while she was gone. They are well past their prime now but I took pictures of them in their wilted state this evening. In this particular vase and with the diffuse lighting I used, this reminds me of a still life painting and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I have a photograph from 2010 of roses in a vase that also reminds me of a still life and that one may be one of the best photos I’ve ever taken, certainly in the top 100 (not that I’ve ever actually graded them like that). This one isn’t quite up to that standard but I’m still pretty happy with it. I really wish I could paint. Not that I’ve ever really tried, but it’s a lot of work and without a lot of practice, it’s just not going to happen. There are a couple folks I knew in my high school days who are professional artists and I love seeing their work.
We don’t actually know his precise birth (or hatch) date, but when we got him in October, 1986, we were told he was nine months old. So, we assume his birth date is January, 1986. That makes him 34 this month. Parrots live a good, long while and he wouldn’t be considered an old bird yet. Perhaps middle aged. He seems to be healthy enough. His beak and nails need trimming and he really doesn’t get as much exercise as would probably be good for him. Nevertheless, we’ve managed to keep him around for more than 33 years, so we must be doing something right. Solomon, despite the wisdom implied by his name, is not much of a sage. He says a few things and those a bit poorly. He can make a pretty good racket, when he wants to, however.