Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)
After our Sunday visit with Cathy’s mom we went to the Sandy Spring Friends Meeting House and parked. We thought we’d take a walk south from there into the fields around the Sandy Spring. We ran into someone who asked if we wanted a tour of the meeting house, so we did that. My great great grandparents met there sometime before November 20, 1852 (since that’s when they got married).
After that we walked to the Maryland state champion white ash tree (Fraxinus americana) and then on to the spring. On the way back I got a few pictures of bluebirds (Sialia sialis) and a house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) and this shot of what I believe is a palm warbler (Setophaga palmarum).
Cathy On The Potomac River
We drove to Pennyfield Lock today and walked up stream past Blockhouse Point. We took a few detours off the towpath, heading down to the river. First we went around one of the artificial ponds between the canal and the river that were built, I believe, in the early part of the 20th century. We got off the towpath again north of Blockhouse point and that’s where this pictures was taken, sitting on the rocks on the side of the river. The river is quite low, even for this time of year, but I suspect we’ll start getting rain again soon and it will be back up.
C&O Canal, Widewater
Cathy and I went to Great Falls this afternoon and had a lovely walk. We went out to the Olmsted Island overlook and I got a few nice pictures of the river, which was quite low. Across the river at the Virginia Great Falls overlook we could see a couple have wedding pictures taken, with the woman wearing her wedding dress and the two of them on the rocks overlooking the falls.
We walked down the towpath as far as widewater, that section of the canal that’s in a more natural channel with rock sides. It’s a beautiful stretch of the canal and was especially so with the fall color coming on. The water there was low, as well.
Seth, Silas, Tsai-Hong, Iris, Eloise, Kaien, Dot, Cathy, Dorothy, and Henry
We had a beautiful day at the farm with most of the family. The weather was amazing and it was really nice to be together. We walked to the big oak tree. Our neighbors named it the General Omar Bradley and we’ve adopted that name ourselves. We don’t know how old it is but it’s almost certainly over 200. The three kids each enjoyed sawing firewood (not from the oak) and we had a nice meal. We also walked in the orchard to see all the clearing work that’s been done.
We took a brief trip to the Agricultural History Farm Park today. After wondering through the Master Gardeners demonstration garden and taking a few pictures, we went to the dahlia garden. We were fortunate enough to run into Nick Weber, who grows both dahlias and roses. It was great to see him and get caught up on things that are going on.
This is an anemone from the Master Gardeners garden, and I think they are beautiful. We haven’t had a lot of success with them, but I keep trying.
Proverbs and Idioms Puzzle
We finished another puzzle in the last few days. This one is another with illustrations of proverbs and idioms and at 1505 pieces, it took us a while. Although areas of bright color are sometimes the easiest to work on, there are times when I get concentrated on things like the sky and for this puzzle, once we had a lot of the easier bits done, I tackled the sky, working primarily with shapes and fine gradations of color. It’s challenging and part of what makes puzzles interesting. The other ‘rule’ we have is we don’t look at the box. That’s cheating, in our book, and it also serves to make the puzzle more interesting, especially with something like this where you have no idea of the overall design ahead of time.
This puzzle is, as you might notice, missing one piece. We actually found that piece after we took it apart to pit it back in its box, so that’s fine. More curious than that, though, is that there was an extra piece that clearly isn’t from this puzzle at all. We’ve no idea where that came from.
Dorothy and her friend Rachel had a little art show the evening in the first Rat Gallery exhibit. Getting down to the gallery on O Street NW was not enjoyable, but we got there eventually and found a parking space without any trouble. The even was in full swing by the time we got there and it got even busier while we were there. I’d say for a first opening it was a success. I chatted briefly with Rachel’s parents, who had come down from New Jersey for the show. I also enjoyed talking with Katharine, our host and Dorothy’s friend from yoga teacher training. All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening.
Theodore Roosevelt Statue, by Paul Manship
Early this afternoon we took Jim to the airport. We had enjoyed his visit and I know his mom enjoyed seeing him. It was a wet day but we decided to stop at Teddy Roosevelt Island (or, more properly, Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial). This island was bought by the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association in 1931 and owned by the federal government since 1932.
When I was young, we used to put the jon boat into the river near here and my earliest memories of the island include seeing the large, wooden crate with Roosevelt’s hand emerging from the top. The statue, by American sculptor Paul Manship (December 24, 1885 – January 28, 1966), was officially dedicated (out of the crate, in 1967.
We really enjoyed our walk, although the rain turned quit heavy about half way through it and we were pretty well soaked by the time we got back to the car. I especially like the marsh at the southern end of the island, with its baldcypress trees.
Margaret’s 97th Birthday
Jim came for his and Cathy’s mom’s 97th birthday. We decided the best thing to do would be to bring a feast to her room. So, I made qaubili pilau, an Afghan rice dish (where the French got the word pilaf). It’s traditionally served with lamb but Margaret has never been crazy anout lamb. She usually made it with chicken but, again, she gets a lot of chicken where she is. So, I made flank steak. Not traditional but really good. I also made my fist ever flan, which if I say so myself, was pretty darned good.
Jim’s Daughter, Abba, had planned to come but she couldn’t at the last minute. She and her sister, Hannah are planning to come in November, though.
Tags: Birthday, Family
Nannopterum auritum (Double-crested Cormorant)
Cathy and I drove to Meadowside Nature Center today and walked from there to Lake Frank. Crossing the meadow alongside North Branch Rock Creek, the weeds were quite tall and the path less obvious than usual. We also saw poison ivy a few times and since Cathy was wearing shorts, I carried her twice on my back. We had a hard time finding the trail that leads from there up over the ridge but eventually made our way to it. Down on the other side was saw this juvenile double-crested cormorant (Nannopterum auritum) on a log in the lake. I was able to get fairly close it order to get a good photo, although the lighting was a little rough.
Heron Sculpture, Parklawn Cemetery
We went to Parklawn Cemetery today to put flowers on the graves of Cathy’s dad and of the good family friend, Karo (Karabet). It’s been a few years since we’ve been there and the ‘neighborhood’ has changed a bit. Jim’s grave has had another right next to it but now there’s a relatively new grave on the other side. In the past we could look for two markers together but having a third threw us off a bit.
After putting those flowers out, we took some pictures to fulfill requests on Find-A-Grave. We found two of the requested markers and I got photos as well as GPS coordinates. It turns out someone had beat me to it, but it was a good exercise, anyway. While we were doing that I took a few pictures of this Heron sculpture. There were requests for other pictures but it’s such a huge cemetery, without some idea where the graves are, they’re going to be impossible to find. We’d need to go to the cemetery office to get locations and it was too hot to do that today. We may go back, however.
We finished another puzzle this week. It was sent to us by our good friends, Brian and Lisa. We really enjoyed hiking with their dogs when we were in Alaska in June. Sadly, one of them is gone now, but Ayla and Lucky made the move with them to Oregon. This was a slightly easier puzzle than some we’ve done lately, being only 500 pieces, but we enjoyed it, nonetheless. We’re hoping to have Brian, Lisa, Ayla, and Lucky visit us this fall. This photo isn’t as good as some of the puzzle pictures I’ve been able to take, but it gives you a pretty good idea of what it looked like. Of course, we never know, in any detail, what a puzzle will look like while we’re putting it together. Looking at the box would be cheating.
The New Dock
Cathy and I went up to see Dorothy today, stopping for a while at Wonder Book in Frederick, where I bought quite a large stack of ‘new’ (used) books. You never want your to-read pile to get too low. When we got to the farm, Dorothy was finishing up a painting she was doing on commission for a friend. The repairs to dam are finished and the new overflow drain had been installed. The new dock, with it’s seats on the side, as you can see, is also finished. Now all we need is rain (and snow in the winter) to fill the pond back up. At this point it doesn’t look like the dock goes out nearly enough, but when full, the water level should be just about where the upper support posts are. We’re looking forward to the pond being full again after quite a few years when it never really filled up.
Bird House Puzzle
We started this puzzle at the beach. It’s a used puzzle that mom bought. Buying a used puzzle is always a bit of a risk because a missing piece can be so frustrating. As it turned out, there was one piece missing, but of course we didn’t know that until the rest of the puzzle was done.
Last year at the beach we got two large sheets of felt. We put the puzzle together on one of them and when our week at the beach was up we put the other piece of felt over the partially complete puzzle, rolled it up, and put it in a heavy, cardboard tube. That works reasonably well and we unrolled it here without too much fixing to be done. This puzzle in particular was poorly made and the pieces didn’t really stay together very well, but that had more to do with the puzzle than with rolling it up. I’d also put the puzzle on the yellow felt instead of black in the future, because the black made it hard to see where pieces had not been placed. At home, we have a large (4′ by 4′) piece of MDF that sits on a card table and the beige color is generally good as a background.
Another issue with this puzzle, especially while we were at the beach, was that there wasn’t room to put most of the pieces out on the table. So, about half the pieces were still in the box, meaning we’d rifle through the pieces in the box looking for a particular piece. Not idea. Once we got it home, we were able to lay out the other pieces and eventually we finished it.
Andrew, Rachel, Anna, and Dorothy
Dorothy’s friends Andrew and Rachel, two of the three friends who have been roughing it with her in Pennsylvania, have bought a house. It’s just under 5 miles by road (and about 4.4 miles as the crow flies) from the farm. They settled yesterday and began moving in. Cathy and I went up to see them today and to help with some cleanup work in and around the house. They pulled up the carpeting in the living room and one bedroom, which was a good idea in the long run but resulted in some additional work in the short run. Nevertheless, it’s a cute little house and, especially compared to where they’ve been living for about two months, it’s luxurious, with actual electricity and running water! There was no refrigerator, but they’ve ordered one and it should be delivered in two days. That, alone, will be a big treat. There isn’t central air conditioning but a window unit keeps the downstairs reasonably comfortable. And, there’s a really nice swing set in the yard.
Henry on ‘Horse Rock’
I went up to Pennsylvania today to meet with an engineer fro the local electrical coop to talk about getting power to the cabin. I knew it was going to cost a lot. Even so, I was a bit blown away by the estimated cost. With the cable costing upwards of $30 a foot, it was going to be a LOT!
The work on the dam is underway, though, and that’s encouraging. The old, damaged drain pipe, which was preventing the pond from filling up, has been removed and the new pipe will go in shortly.
Dorothy and I took a walk through what we call the Christmas Tree Field to the Wet Field. Neither of them can—by any stretch of the imagination—be described as a field, but that’s what we call them. I can remember when they were fields, but now it’s hard to tell where the field ends and the woods begin.
At the northeast end of the Wet Field there are three large boulders. The one I’m sitting on here (photo taken on my phone by Dorothy) is called—by me, anyway—Horse Rock.
Tags: Dam, Pond
Tony, Thea, Anna, and Andrew
Dorothy organized a work day today at the farm. If you haven’t heard about the farm, then you should know that, although we call it that, it’s probably not what you are picturing. My parents bought the property almost 59 years ago and it had been part of a working farm, with five fields. Since them, however, although we’ve continued to call it the farm, it’s never really been one. Three of the fields have entirely grown up with trees. Two of them are filled with trees specifically planted by my parents, including Japanese larch, white pine, and Norway spruce. One field was my dad’s ‘orchard’ and even that title may be misleading. In this part of the country there are orchards all around. But those have rows upon rows of trees. Dad’s orchard had a little of everything, with half a dozen apple trees, a few peaches, plums, pears, and various other fruit trees and shrubs. He also planted nut trees, including Turkish and American hazelnuts (Corylus colurna and C. americana, Persian walnut (Juglans regia), and Chestnuts (both Chinese, Castanea mollissima and hybrid Chinese and American, Castanea dentata). Since dad’s passing, the orchard has become significantly overgrown. The final field, which we usually call the picnic field, is still mostly clear but dad planted specimen trees of various sorts.
Today’s work day was focused mostly on clearing the orchard and we made a really good start. There were ‘weed trees’ four or five inches in diameter that needed to be cut down, along with lots of vines, multiflora roses, and Elaeagnus. We did our best to cut back the hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta), keeping much of it but not wanting it growing up into other trees. While this was going on, we had a tree guy cutting a few larger trees, including one large maple tree that was leaning over the cabin.
The first picture here is of the pond with the cabin in the background. The second is four of the 36 or so people we had working here today.
Tags: Farm, Pond
American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
We made one last visit to ‘Alligator Pond’ today and got a nice, very close-up view of an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). We also enjoyed seeing a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) and across the water a flock of wood storks (Mycteria americana). It was quite hot today, probably the hottest day of the week and with rain in the morning, it was very humid. It’s our last day at the beach and we have a longish drive home ahead of us tomorrow. So, nice to take it easy today.
Cathy and I went to Brookgreen Gardens today (https://www.brookgreen.org/). We’ve been before, of course, but it’s been six years. We decided to see if we could go on their Creek Excursion but, as luck would have it, it wasn’t operating today because they were being inspected by the Coast Guard. We were able to get to the Lowcountry Center in time to get on the 11:30 Oaks Excursion. We visited a plantation cemetery as well as the sites of some of the plantation buildings, which no longer exist. It was an interesting excursion, although I think I would have enjoyed the creek trip more. Maybe next time.
We wandered around the gardens, which of course is the main thing there. The two shots presented here are more of the trees than of the sculpture and they are quite majestic. I enjoy both the sculpture and the gardens in about equal measure. Although it was hot, I’d say it wasn’t as hot as some years we’ve been. We also went to the Lowcountry Zoo and enjoyed the animals. They have a new exhibit with red wolves (Canis rufus) that only opened in the last week.
Green Heron (Butorides virescens)
After our walk in the Green Swamp we drove to the Twin Ponds overlook. We affectionately call it Alligator Pond because that’s what we generally go to see. The boardwalk style viewing platform is officially call the Carl Bazemore Bird Walk. There are also birds there, and today we saw this green heron (Butorides virescens) in the shallows. In years past the view has been obscured by rank growth between the viewing platform and the pond. Sometime since last year that has been cut down, making the viewing considerably better. We did see an alligator there today, but I think my best photo from the visit was this one of the heron.