Howard Chapel Cemetery

Howard Chapel Cemetery

Howard Chapel Cemetery

Cathy and I found the Howard Chapel Cemetery this afternoon. We had walked in Patuxent River State Park and knew of the cemetery but hadn’t walked to it. Today we drove there, north of Unity (which is just west of Sunshine on Damascus Road, a.k.a. MD 650), on Howard Chapel Road. The sign at the cemetery says, “The burial ground of the ancestors of the original African American community of Howard Chapel 1862” We walked around the cemetery and then across the road, where we found what we assume was the location of the associated chapel. The red blazed trail from Patuxent River State Park crosses Howard Chapel Road just north of the cemetery, so you can come that way, as well.

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Howard Chapel Cemetery

Tree Planting Outing

Cathy and Dorothy On Horse Rock

Cathy and Dorothy On Horse Rock

Cathy and I spent most of the day up in Pennsylvania today. I had 45 tree seedlings I wanted to plant and that took a good part of our time. I planted 25 Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) and 20 black gum (or tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica). I put six of the cedars in the picnic field with the hope that at least a few of them survive to maturity. I don’t expect them all to and honestly I might cut down all but three if more than that make it. The other were planted in the woods simply to add to the woodland environment. Both trees are native to the area, with the cedar being confined mostly to the states along the Atlantic and eastern gulf coast and the black gum more widespread as far west as Texas.

I planted about half of them in what we refer to as ‘the wet field’ but which is woods at this point. This large rock and a few others are along the edge of what was a field when my parents bought the property nearly 60 years ago.

Categories: People | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Tree Planting Outing

Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)

Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)

Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)

We stoped at the Agriculteral History Farm Park today and especially enjoyed their shade garden. The bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) was in bloom, along with other early spring ephemerals. The Master Gardener’s demonstration garden has only just started to come alive so there wasn’t much to see there, except a large frog on the stones by the little pool.

Wa walked over to see the chickens and I stipped a few times to get pictures of a phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) and another bird I’m not sure about. It was a lovely day and, as usual, we enjoyed being outdoors.

Categories: Flowers and Plants | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)

Saucer Magnolia

Saucer Magnolia

Saucer Magnolia

We were at Tsai-Hong’s house this afternoon and enjoyed some blooms in her garden. She has a lot of daffodils, which are wonderful, and the berries on her winterberry (Ilex verticillata) are wonderful. Nevertheless, the star of the show right now is the saucer magnolia. There are some great varieties of magnolia in the Little Girl series of hybrids developed at the National Arboretum in the mid-1950s from crosses between M. liliiflora and M. stellata. I don’t know if this is one of those or if it has M. denudata in it’s genetics, which is possible. Regardless, it’s lovely.

Categories: Flowers and Plants | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Saucer Magnolia

One Year Beard

Self-portrait with One Year Beard

Self-portrait with One Year Beard

A year ago I had a longish beard and mustache that had been growing since the previous Thanksgiving. At that point I decided to cut my beard short. I didn’t shave but using my trimmers cut it to about 1⁄8″. I didn’t cut my hair at that time. Then I let my beard grow again. The previous mustache had been a bit annoying so this time around I trimmed that occasionally. By Christmas my beard had gotten long enough—and it’s now white enough—that I got quite a few ‘Santa’ comments. You can see what it was like at the end of December in my annual 2023 Reading post. By February I was thinking it was time for it to go but since it was coming up on a year’s growth, I decided to give it until this week. I took this picture to record the longest beard I’ve ever had. I’m not making any promises but I suspect this will be the longest beard I’m ever going to have. It was fun while it lasted but I was ready for a change. Again, I have left my hair long, which is also probably the longest it has ever been.

Categories: People | Tags: , | Comments Off on One Year Beard

Seneca Bluffs

Seneca Bluffs

Seneca Bluffs

We walked out to Seneca Creek today. There were a few bluebells out but it’s a bit early for a really great show. I love the view across the creek to the bluffs where there is a grove of Canadian hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis). That’s the subject of this photo, which honestly doesn’t do it justice. I saw a animal of some sort that I think was in the weasel but I really didn’t see it well enough to know more than that. Mostly it was great to be out. The water was fairly high and we got stopped at a few side creeks where we can sometimes cross. You can also see how brown the water is. Normally it’s quite clear and a wonderful, green color.

Categories: Flowers and Plants | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Seneca Bluffs

Col. Paul Peck and Ruth Owens

Paul and Ruth Owens Grave Marker

Paul and Ruth Owens Grave Marker

We went for a walk in the rain near the Croyden Creek Nature Center today. In spite of the fact that we got pretty much soaked, we really enjoyed being outside. I carried my camera under my jacket and got a few pictures. After we got back to the car, we stopped at Rockville Cemetery, just to walk around (again, in the rain). We chatted for a while with the President of the Board of Directors of the Rockville Cemetery Association. She pointed out her family graves and also this marker for the graves of Col. Paul Peck (August 10, 1889 – September 11, 1912) and his wife, Ruth Owens (January 7, 1893 – April 5, 1912). He was an early pilot and set a speed record, flying 24 miles in 25 minutes (57.6 MPH). He died in a plane crash in Chicago, Illinois.

Categories: People | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Col. Paul Peck and Ruth Owens

American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)

American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)

American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)

We went to the C&O Canal today, walking from the Cabin John Aqueduct Bridge on MacArthur Boulevard down to the canal and then upstream to a point about half way between locks 8 and 9. We enjoyed being out but this is never going to be among our favorite walks, due to the traffic noise. Still, it’s good to be out. We saw a few American black ducks (Anas rubripes) on the canal, along with mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and a few turtles, but not much else. There were bluebells coming up, which is always a treat.

Categories: Creatures | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)

Dog Puzzle

Dog Puzzle

Dog Puzzle

Some puzzles are harder than others and all else being equal, the more pieces the harder a puzzle is. Most of the puzzles we’ve done lately have been 1,000 piece. So, this 500-piece puzzle was fairly simple. That doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy it. It was give to us by a friend and was in a plastic bag. So, while we never look at the picture on the box while doing a puzzle, we at least have some idea what the picture is of. In this case we had no idea whatsoever. Maureen said she thought there was a dog in it, but that’s all we had to go on.

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dog Puzzle

The Pond

The Pond

The Pond

Cathy and I went up to Pennsylvania for the day. We had a short visit with Dorothy but then she had to go to work. While she worked, we stopped at Ronn Palm’s Museum of Civil War Images (https://www.ronnpalmmuseum.com/) at 229 Baltimore Street in Gettysburg. Cathy asked specifically about the units her great, great grandfather and his eldest son were in during the U.S. Civil War but of course we all talked about more than that. We drove to Devil’s Den and a few other spots on the battlefield. When Dorothy was done working we picked her up and went to the farm. The pond is filling back up after being partially drained for repairs and has reached the lowest rung on the ladder on the side of the new dock.

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , | Comments Off on The Pond

Dot’s 93rd Birthday

Dot's 93rd Birthday

Dot’s 93rd Birthday

Tsai-Hong has originally planned to have us all over on Chinese (a.k.a. Lunar) New year on February 10. For a number of reasons, it got pushed back first to the 17th and then to the 24th. We did get together and celebrated mom’s 93rd birthday, as well. We don’t ever really need much of an excuse to get together and we should do it more often but of course everyone is busy and it’s hard to find a good date for everyone. As usual, mom made her own cake, her favorite angel food cake, which turned out marvelously. Tsai-Hong bought carry-out from Far East Restaurant and is was terrific.

Categories: People | Tags: , | Comments Off on Dot’s 93rd Birthday

State Birds and Flowers

State Birds and Flowers Puzzle

State Birds and Flowers Puzzle

We finished another puzzle. This one was a gift from our dear friends Brian and Lisa and it proved to be more challenging than expected. The fact that there was text on many of the pieces helped a bit, since that aided in piece orientation. Some of that text helped us know where in the country the piece went, as well, although it was a while before we had enough pieces in place that we could reliably situate many other pieces. The list of birds differs from what we believe are the proper birds. For example, I think seven states have the northern cardinal as their bird, but it only appears three times in the puzzle. But from the standpoint of the puzzle, that hardly matters. Also, at least one of the illustrations don’t seem right to me, but again, it’s a pretty puzzle and we enjoyed it quite a bit.

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on State Birds and Flowers

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

We went for a walk part of the way around Lake Needwood today. It was fairly cool out but a pretty day otherwise. There were assorted ducks out on the lake but mostly they were pretty far away. This hawk, however, was in a tree below the path so with the aid of the hill, I was just about on a level with him. I think it’s probably a Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) but it’s really hard to say for sure. Distinguishing between Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus) is very difficult and I tend to favor sharpies in identifications because I think they’re a bit more common. But that may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. In any case, it’s one of those two and it’s a lovely bird.

Categories: Creatures | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus)

We took a walk to Sandy Spring today after visiting Cathy’s mom. There wasn’t a lot to photograph but we did see this pair of hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) on a pond near Sandy Spring Friends School on a path off from the main trail. They’re pretty birds and fairly easily recognized. We’ve seen quite a few of them this winter, possible more than in past years, but that may be because we’re paying more attention, especially now that I have my long telephoto lens and can get much better photos of them.

Categories: Creatures | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Jed’s First Birthday

Aria, Evan, Jed, and Maria

Aria, Evan, Jed, and Maria

We attended the birthday party for little Jed’s first birthday today and had a very nice time visiting with his parents and extended family. We’ve known Maria since she was a little older than Aria is now and have been blessed to watch her grow into the beautiful young woman she is. He wedding to Evan in 2019 was a lot of fun. Sadly they live too far away for us to see her very often, but we are happy for opportunities like this to get together.

Categories: People | Tags: , | Comments Off on Jed’s First Birthday

Mendenhall Puzzle

Mendenhall Puzzle

Mendenhall Puzzle

On June 6, 2023, I posted a photo of a common merganser (Mergus merganser) with ducklings on her back. They were swimming on Mendenhall Lake and it was taken at from the glacier overlook. Cathy and I really enjoyed that visit and in addition to the mergansers we saw arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea). Later that same day we returned to the Glacier with our friends Brian and Lisa. The overcast sky had partially cleared and there was a beautiful mix of blue and white, both overhead and in the reflections on the water.

I had this 1000-piece puzzle made from a photograph I took that evening and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. The sky was the hardest part although the water in the foreground was only marginally easier. With our love of puzzles, I think I might make more. But we have a few more waiting to be done, including one Brian and Lisa sent us recently with state flowers and birds.

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mendenhall Puzzle

Hawk and Vulture

Juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)

Juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

As mentioned in the previous post, also from today, we stopped at the Izaak Walton League’s Lake Halcyon where I photographed three different duck species. From there we continued to the C&O Canal, parking at Violet’s Lock and walking down river past Blockhouse Point. We were treated right away to the first bird shown here, a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus). He was fairly easy to spot because there were folks with binoculars looking up into the tree where he was perched.

It was a lovely day to be out, very bright and comfortably cool. Around Blockhouse Point we saw a pair of black vulturex (Coragyps atratus) enjoying the warmth from the sun. They were across the canal from us and seemed to be unconcerned with our presence. This photograph, in particular, I like. As we were walking back towards Violet’s lock, a couple with binoculars pointed out a bald eagle on a tree on an island in the river. It was pretty far away, but easily identifiable. We saw quite a few smaller birds, as well, but I didn’t get any photos of them. We saw a few turtles, too. When we got back to the parking area, what we assume was the same sharpie was in a different tree but in the same area.

Categories: Creatures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hawk and Vulture

Margansers and Scaup

Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)

We decided to go to the canal today but on the way we were passing the national headquarters of the Izaak Walton League on Muddy Branch Road and decided to stop and walk around Lake Halcyon on that property. It’s a nice little pond with woods on three sides and it’s not uncommon to see ducks there. We were blessed with three duck species. First we saw a pair of hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus), which are fish-eating ducks. They were out in the middle of the pond but with my long lens I was able to get a decent shot of them. Then we saw a pair of lesser scaup (Aythya affinis), a type of diving duck. We also saw two pairs of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). There were eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) in the trees around the pond, as well.

We see mergansers reasonably often but this is the first time I’ve seen scaup, so I considered that to be a real treat.

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Margansers and Scaup

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

As the weather was so fine, we went for another walk today, this time at the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park. The winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) was blooming in the shade garden and we walked through the Master Gardener’s demonstration garden, though there isn’t so much to see this time of year. There is one witchhazel that was blooming and oddly had all it’s dried leaves from last year still on it.

Then we walked around a large field and saw quite a few birds. We rarely go there without seeing at least a few eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) like the one shown here. We also saw what we think was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Corthylio calendula) although the photographs are inconclusive. We saw a few woodpeckers and a hawk fly by.

Categories: Creatures | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

Pavonia multiflora (Brazilian Candle Plant)

Pavonia multiflora (Brazilian Candle Plant)

Pavonia multiflora (Brazilian Candle Plant)

We really needed to get out today. In the winter it’s not quite as easy to find growing things, but we are fortunate to live in an area where there are places to go on days like this. Brookside Gardens, described on the Montgomery Parks Web site as an “award-winning 50-acre public display garden within Wheaton Regional Park. Included in the gardens are several distinct areas: Aquatic Garden, Azalea Garden, Butterfly Garden, Children’s Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Style Garden, Trial Garden, Rain Garden, and the Woodland Walk. The Formal Gardens areas include a Perennial Garden, Yew Garden, the Maple Terrace, and Fragrance Garden. Brookside Gardens also features two conservatories for year-round enjoyment. Admission to the gardens is free.” We spent time both in the conservatories and walking through the grounds. This Brazilian candle plant (Pavonia multiflora) in the first conservatory has very interesting flowers.

In the outdoor gardens, most things are still dormant but we were happy to see different varieties of Chinese witchhazel (Hamamelis mollis) in bloom. The snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) were also in bloom. We went there specifically hoping to see both of those.

Categories: Flowers and Plants | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Pavonia multiflora (Brazilian Candle Plant)