The Mimic at Floodzone Brewery

The Mimic at Floodzone Brewery

The Mimic at Floodzone Brewery

We drove up to Union Bridge, Maryland after work today, meeting Dorothy and her friends, Andrew, Rachel, Anna, and Andrew’s parents, Kris and Mike, at Floodzone Brewery. We’ve never been there before but we enjoyed the visit. We went there because Dorothy’s friend Jeff was playing guitar along with the band he’s in, called The Mimic. That’s Jeff on the right in the green shirt. We sat in view of the stage while they planed and then moved outside—where we could hear ourselves think and actually talk with each other—when they were done and Heads or Tails Experience played. As ‘Old Folks’ Cathy and I didn’t know much of the music that was being played, but enjoyed it, nonetheless.

The food was good, I had a beer called Agnes, named for the huricane of that name that flooded the brewery in June 1972. Although Agnes was never more than a category 1 storm and was only a tropical storm by the time it reached Maryland, it produced significant rain including over 13.5 inches at Dulles Airport in northern Virginia.

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Three Birthdays

Johnnie, Pam, and Krystal

Johnnie, Pam, and Krystal

We got together to celebrate birthdays for three good friends this evening. Johnny, Pam, and Krystal either just had or are about to have a birthday and although we don’t really need an excuse to get together, we use it as one, anyway. We had a lovely meal and more importantly had a great time with one another. Krystal and Mike are nearing the end of a significant renovation to their home and it was great to see what’s going on with that. By the time we’re there again it should be all done.

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Rat Gallery DC #4

Ina Quadrio Curzio's Art at Rat Gallery

Ina Quadrio Curzio’s Art at Rat Gallery

Anna, Dorothy, and Katharine

Anna, Dorothy, and Katharine

This evening was the fourth Rat Gallery show at 52 O Street NW in Washington, D.C. I was impressed with quite a few of the pieces on display this evening and I think it was a successful event. I’ve picked a shot showing oil paintings by Ina Quadrio Curzio, an Italian-British artist who recently graduated from Georgetown University with a double major in Biology and Studio Art. From her artists statement, her subject matter “is centered around youthful environments, activities, and crowds. In my exploration, the figures undergo a purposeful deconstruction, their form intricately woven into a patchwork of brushstrokes that dissolve the boundaries between self and surroundings. This approach serves to dismantle youth culture into its chaotic essence of uncertainty and vitality. It invites viewers to contemplate the complexities of early adulthood and explore how our surroundings shape our individuality.”

I’ve also included a shot of three of the five Rat Gallery team. If you have any questions about Rat Gallery or would like your art to be considered for a future show, you should go to the Rat Gallery DC web site and contact the team.

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Catalpa ovata at Sunfish Pond

Catalpa ovata, Sunfish Pond

Catalpa ovata, Sunfish Pond

We took a walk in Flower Valley Park this evening. I took my camera but for the most part it was too dark in the woods to get any pictures. I took some at Sunfish Pond and this is one of those, with a catalpa (Catalpa ovata) in bloom. It’s a nice tree for a large scale landscape, probably too big for many smaller yards but at maturity it can be quite impressive. In the early 19990s we were looking at houses and saw one north of Boyds with a very large catalpa tree. It was an interesting property with an outbuilding built as an observatory. The roof slid on tracks to open up to the sky for the previous owner’s telescope.

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Echinacea ‘Marmalade’

Echinacea ‘Marmalade’

Echinacea ‘Marmalade’

We made our annual pilgrimage to Fehr’s Nursery this afternoon. Cathy buys her Mother’s Day present on this trip and while I often pick out one or two things, it’s mostly for her. I do enjoy the flowers and bring my camera to take some pictures. I really like this coneflower, even though it’s not in perfect shape. We didn’t buy this one but got a pretty good collection of plants, both annuals and a few more perennials.

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Pennsylvania Sunset

Pennsylvania Sunset

Pennsylvania Sunset

Cathy and I drove up to Pennsylvania late this morning to join Dorothy and some of her friends. Two of them had come up to work on their music bit and then after we came, they helped me plant four dawn redwoods (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) and ten Fraser fir (Abies fraseri). There is already one Metasequoia that dad planted something like 50 years ago and we planted the new trees in that same area to hopefully produce a small grove eventually. The firs are planted as Christmas trees and the plan it to plant ten or so every year for a while and then perhaps every other year after that so that we have a good, constant source for our own Christmas tree. These were little plugs, only measuring four inches or so above ground, so it will be a few years before any of them are ready to be used.

In the evening I built a fire and started cooking dinner only to have a rainstorm put out my fire. After the rain I was able to get the fire going again and then proceeded to overcook dinner. But we ate it anyway. And we got this sunset, which was pretty nice.

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Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)

Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)

Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)

We went for a walk by Sandy Spring today, heading to the spring itself and then taking a loop down to the woods below, around past the side trail to Sandy Spring Friends School and then back up to the Sandy Spring Friends Meetinghouse, where we had parked. I got a few bird pictures, including a Carolina chickadee (Poecile carolinensis), an eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) a gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), and this field sparrow (Spizella pusilla). I’m pretty sure this is my first actual photo of a field sparrow, although they are not uncommon.

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Archie McPhee Puzzle

Archie McPhee Glow Chamber Puzzle

Archie McPhee Glow Chamber Puzzle

Cathy’s brother Jim gave us this puzzle. We thought it was going to be glow-in-the-dark, but it’s just a regular photo of glow in the dark items. The puzzle itself doesn’t glow, which is a shame because that would have been awesome. Anyway, this was a really hard puzzle. Usually you find areas with patters or colors and you can sort of guess the general area where things go. With this, it was similarly colored items all surrounded by black. We had a lot of the individual items put together but it took quite a bit more work before we were able to start placing them in the overall outline. Looking at the box would definitely have helped and this illustrates why that’s cheating.

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National Capitol Columns

National Capitol Columns

National Capitol Columns

With how our spring has been going, I really didn’t expect to get to the National Arboretum this year. Yesterday I was nearing my wits’ end and when Cathy suggested we go, I was very happy to agree. It was an absolutely beautiful day. As we often do, we start by parking near the National Capital Columns—shown here—and walk from there to the National Herb Garden, which includes their roses. It was a little late for the peak rose viewing but since I didn’t expect to get there at all, I was definitely happy with what I got. We didn’t spend as much time in the Herb Garden oval as in some years. Then we went to Fern Valley, followed by the Asian Collections and finally back to the Azalea Collections, visiting the Lee Garden pond and the Morrison garden—which I think is my favorite space in the arboretum.

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Tradescantia virginiana (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia virginiana (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia virginiana (Spiderwort)

This is one of my favorite perennials. It’s commonly known as spiderwort and we have quite a few of them growing around the garden. There are varieties with lighter, more yellow leaves. There are varieties with pinker (less purple) flowers. I’ve even seen one with white flowers but so far haven’t found that one for sale anywhere. I’d definitely get one if I did. Each individual flower lasts only a short time but there are so many of them, the plant is constantly in bloom for a good while. This one is growing on our back patio and I’m not sure it’s even in a container. I think it was in a plastic grocery bag and got left there and now you’d think it was in the ground, it’s so happy. It probably should be moved into the ground, but I hat to mess with a good thing.

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Peony ‘Coral Sunset’

Peony ‘Coral Sunset’

Peony ‘Coral Sunset’

Our peonies are in bloom and once again, I couldn’t be happier with these amazing flowers. They don’t have a particularly long blooming period and in general, they take longer to become really well established than some other plants but it’s hard to argue with even a few flowers like this. When I first planted them they sent up leaves and then a single bud on each of the three plants. Now I’m getting multiple flowers per plant and it should only get better as the years go by. These are especially wonderful in the morning when they are in full sun. What’s not to like?

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Eastern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)

Eastern Copperhead (<em>Agkistrodon contortrix</em>)

Eastern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)

We went for a lovely walk along the creek below Croyden Creek Nature center this afternoon. I assume the creek is called Croyden Creek although I haven’t ever found that name on any map. Still, it stands to reason. I got some photos of robins (Turdus migratorius), an eastern towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus), a common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula), and a hairy woodpecker (Dryobates villosus), although none of them were great. Cathy spotted a luna moth (Actias luna), which was cool, and we found a fair amount of dwarf ginseng Panax trifolius. There was a lot of American cancer-root (Conopholis americana) blooming, which is a parasitic plant, living on the roots of oak trees. But the excitment was when Cathy came close to stepping on this eastern copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix). She reacted about as you’d expect and we’ve definitely grateful that she didn’t get bitten.

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Dogwood Blossoms

Dogwood Blossoms

Dogwood Blossoms

This is the third year I’ve taken basically this same picture. This circular window is in the front of our church and for a week or two each year the dogwoods on the hill outside give us a show. They bloomed earlier last year and my picture was from April 16. In 2022 it was on April 24. So although the blooms this year seem earlier than previous years, the dogwoods, at least, are not. It reminded me that last year (on May 7) we went to the National Arboretum and really enjoyed their dogwood collection. I don’t know if we’ll be able to make it there in the next week or two, but that would be nice.

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The Pond and Dock

The Pond and Dock

The Pond and Dock

I drove up to Pennsylvania today to deliver some papers to Dorothy (or more specifically to her house, as she was still in Massachusetts). After dropping those off for her, I stopped at our property to see how the pond was doing. It’s got more water in it than before the repairs were done last year and I think more water than it’s had in over ten years. I frankly didn’t expect it to fill as fast as it has, thinking it might not be full before this time next year. Now I think it will have reached the overflow by the fall if not sooner. I have to say, I’m very pleased. There’s just a little more than a foot to go.

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Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Great Blue Heron (<em>Ardea herodias</em>)

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

As mentioned in my previous post, we walked on the C&O Canal today. We saw this great blue heron (Ardea herodias) near the beginning of the walk and then again as we were returning. It was a good day for wildlife in general and we also saw (and I photographed) a hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus), a pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), a few mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), a small group of double-crested cormorants (Nannopterum auritum), a pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps), and a blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata). All in all, an enjoyable outing.

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Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

We walked on the canal this afternoon, starting at Old Angler’s Inn and heading downstream as far was where the towpath is closed for renovation (a little ways past the Marsden Footbridge). We saw at least three and possibly four muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) in the canal, which is more than we’ve ever seen on a single outing (and we normally see zero). A few of them were fairly close to our side of the canal and with my long lens I was able to get even closer. There were a lot of turtles out, enjoying the warmth from the sun. We saw wild geraniums, star chickweed (Stellaria pubera), and American cancer-root (Conopholis americana) as well.

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Rat Gallery DC #3

Caroline, Sara, and Justin

Caroline, Sara, and Justin

Andrew, Rachel, Katharine, Anna, and Dorothy

Andrew, Rachel, Katharine, Anna, and Dorothy

It was time for another Rat Gallery opening and Cathy and I were there. I don’t know that we can commit to being at every one but we’ve managed so far. This one was very well attended and was even listed on WTOP’s “What to do in DC” listing on their Instagram story. Pretty impressive. Art is quite a varied thing and something that one person loves, another person may hate. Sometimes art is meant to express feelings or emotions, other times it tries to tell a story. It can simply be decorative, of course, or it can consider shapes, colors, and various other aspects of the physical world. It’s quite common for any particular work of art to appeal to a limited audience.

I thought these porcelain cups were lovely and I especially liked the one in the upper right of this photo, with the salmon pink petals. There were a few others that I liked the colors of, including the one immediately below that with the darker interior. They were all really nice and they spoke to me. The other artists had their followers, as well and I think everyone had a lovely evening. It was also nice that it started before it got dark, so there was some natural light for a while.

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Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)

Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)

Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)

We went to the Agricultural History Farm Park today and walked around quite a bit. I got a few nice photos of eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) as well as some barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) but I was especially pleased with the shots I got of this palm warbler (Setophaga palmarum). It was a lovely day and we saw this species twice in different part of the property. It could have been the same bird, of course, but less likely. We are at the northern edge of their winter grounds and they breed far to the north, so now and in the fall are the best times to see them in our area.

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Partial Solar Eclipse

Partial Solar Eclipse

Partial Solar Eclipse

We had quite a few friends to traveled to various places on the path of totality to see the main event. We stayed home and took about 1.5 hours off from work to enjoy the partial solar eclipse. I set up my camera with my long lens zoomed out to 600mm and auto-focus turned off. I set the aperture to f/22 and the shutter speed to 1⁄8000 second. I wasn’t about to look through the camera at the sun, so turned on the LED screen to view the sun on that. Even with those settings, the sun was much too bright and I was unable to get even reasonably good photographs, except when light clouds darkened the sky enough. That happened early in the eclipse but by the time this photo was taken, the sky was clear. Even with only this small amount of the sun visible, it’s way too bright to look at unfiltered, even at those extreme camera settings.

By stacking two polarizing filters over the lens and turning them perpendicular to each other, I was able to reduce the light to an acceptable level. With the two filters perfectly perpendicular to one another, however, the image recorded was a deep blue color. By turning one of them ever so slightly the image turned white and that’s how it was set for this photo, taken a few minutes before the maximum solar coverage.

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Warrenton, Virginia

Old Town Warrenton, Virginia

Old Town Warrenton, Virginia

Warrenton Mural

Warrenton Mural

We visited a friend in Warrenton, Virginia today, spending most of the afternoon and evening with a larger group of good friends. We walked through downtown Warrenton, visiting a bunch of shops and basically enjoying being together. It was a cool, spring day and Warrenton seems like a nice town. It’s a bit of a hike from Rockville but once we were there we were glad to have gone.

After our walk through town we had a wonderful dinner and celebrated a birthday. After that we played a game called Codenames. Cathy and I aren’t particularly fond of games but we had a good time. I think we would have enjoyed simply talking with our friends more, but we understand that some people really like games of this sort.

We had been invited to spend the night there but wanted to be home Sunday morning so we left about 10:30 and had no trouble getting home in about an hour.

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