Miscellaneous

Widewater, C&O Canal

C&O Canal, Widewater

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.

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Proverbs and Idioms Puzzle

Proverbs and Idioms Puzzle

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.

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Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial

Theodore Roosevelt Statue, by Paul Manship

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.

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Heron Sculpture, Parklawn Cemetery

Heron Sculpture, Parklawn Cemetery

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.

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Dog Puzzle

Dog Puzzle

Dog Puzzle

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.

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New Dock on the Pond

The New Dock

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.

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Bird House Puzzle

Bird House Puzzle

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.

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Dam Repairs

Dam Repairs

Dam Repairs

Henry on 'Horse Rock'

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.

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Street Repaving

Street Repaving

Street Repaving

If you recall, on Wednesday, July 5 the folks from W.S.S.C. came to repair the pipe leading to our house from the local water main. They dug two large holes, both more than six feet deep in the road. By the time they were done, the holes were filled and topped with fresh asphalt. The next day a crew came and paved them more cleanly, rolling the asphalt. Well, now, less than two weeks later, a third crew came and milled about 50 yards of the road and going about the same distance up the court leading off of it. Once it was milled, the put down new paving. It certainly looks a lot better and takes care of other seams and cracks in the pavement that have accumulated over the years. This is the milling machine, grinding up the top two or three inches of the existing pavement. It’s definitely a small version, only taking up about four feet width of pavement at a time. Nothing compared to those that will mill a full lane of roadway, but it’s more suitable to a suburban street, I suppose.

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Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Mom and I came home from North Carolina today, after yesterday’s reunion. Cathy had been to church and was visiting her mom when I got home. We drove to the Ag. History Farm Park where there were a few dahlias in bloom and we walked through the garden to see them and then through the demonstration garden. In the sun it was really hot and the humidity was stifling. Sitting in the shade where there was a slight breeze was bearable, but even that was quite warm. We moved to the other parking area and walked down to the trail by the stream, walking through the woods. We were out of the sun, although the air was quite still. We saw a great blue heron, but only as it flew away. I took a few pictures, but not many. By the time we got back to the car we were drenched in sweat. This monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) was in the meadow as we returned to the car.

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New Cabin Steps

New Cabin Steps

New Cabin Steps

I went up to our Pennsylvania property today to meet with Dorothy and her friends. We had two things on the agenda for the visit. First, we put up the new steps on the front porch. The stringers had finally rotted so I a made new set, using one of the old as a pattern template. I made them with treated 2x12s and they fit pretty well. If they last as long as the first set I’ll be very pleased. The stair treads are untreated lumber and, as you can see, they are entirely un-weathered. They will turn grey over the next year and won’t be so stark. We actually plan to replace the decking on the porch, also, but that’s not a rush. There is a pile of 2x4s in the loft, so we’ll use those.

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Water Main Repairs

Water Main Repairs

Water Main Repairs

Dorothy mentioned, when we were in Alaska, that there was a small amount of water coming out the joint where our driveway meets the road. I asked her to call the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) to let them know. When we got home nothing had been done and the water was still flowing, although it wasn’t a huge flow.

This morning the workmen showed up and dug up the road, trying to find the break. They started on our side, since that’s where the water was reaching the surface. They found the pipe that left the main and supplies water to our house but the leak wasn’t in that part of the pipe. So, they repeated to digging on the other side, being careful of the gas pipe running down the middle of the street.

They eventually found the leak almost directly under the gas line between the two holes. They replaced that length of pipe and filled in both holes. Another crew should come to out down proper pavement but we have water again now. All is well.

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Rock Balancing

Brian and Henry, Balancing Rocks

Brian and Henry, Balancing Rocks

As you might guess, although I take most of the pictures with my camera, Cathy took this shot. We had driven to the end of the road and then walked to the shore just past Echo Cove. This is as far as you can drive from downtown Juneau. It was sunny and hot, which is unusual for Juneau, but we enjoyed being out. Cathy and Lisa were down near the water and Brian and I sat higher on the rocky beach and started balancing stones. It’s a fiddly thing but soothing in its own way. We each managed to get a respectable cairn built and Cathy took a few pictures as we worked on our final stones. The horse flies started to bother us, so we headed back to the car and back to town for the evening.

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Sea–Tac Airport

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

A few months ago Cathy and I bought tickets to fly to Juneau, Alaska. The plan was to leave here on June 17 and return July 3, allowing us to have a free day on July 4 to recover before returning to work on July 6.

Our outbound flight left Dulles Airport at 5:00 PM and we had an uneventful five and a half hour flight to Sea-Tac (Seattle–Tacoma International Airport). As is often the case on travel days, I didn’t take many photographs. I don’t think I’ll be giving too much away when I say that I took almost 2,500 photos during our trip, however, so the posts following this one will give you a very brief glimpse of what we saw and did.

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Ship Puzzle

Ship Puzzle

Ship Puzzle

It’s time for another installment of Henry and Cathy’s puzzle collection. This one looked nice so I bought it and we finished putting it together a couple days ago. The water in the foreground and the sky were the most challenging parts, which isn’t too surprising. The stern of the ship and parts of the rigging were done first (after the edges, of course, which are almost always finished before much else has been done.

We don’t absolutely always have a puzzle going, but lately we’ve tried to. We’re running out of them, though, with only a few more on hand, so I’m not sure what we’ll do after that. We also like crossword puzzles, sometimes doing them together but more often, separately. We have crossword puzzle books, published by Simon and Schuster and The New York Times. For quite a while now, my mom has saved the puzzles from the Washington Post and gives them to me, so I work through those. They are generally a bit easier than the other two sources and I actually do them in pen (and sometimes without actually making mistakes, although certainly not all the time).

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Venice Puzzle

Venice Puzzle

Venice Puzzle

Our most recent puzzle adventure was this scene from Venice. As you might imagine, the clouds and sky were the most difficult part, and took us a while after the buildings had been completed and the water in the foreground got filled in. But, as it usually the case, giving it a little attention each day, finding one piece now and then, eventually it got finished. We have two more puzzles on-deck and will start the first of those shortly. We find it mentally stimulating and something we can easily do easily while chatting.

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Bible Puzzle

Bible Puzzle

Bible Puzzle

We completed another puzzle this week. I’m not sure where we got this one—illustrating “Great Events of the Bible”—but it’s been in our basement a while without ever being put together. It was a relatively easy puzzle, compared to others we’ve done lately. That’s partly because there is text scattered around and any piece with text on it is easy to orient. With some puzzles it’s very difficult to know which way many of the pieces sit. There also are no large areas of similar color in this one, as there are with images with large amounts of sky, etc. Still, it was fun putting it together. Next we will work on puzzle with a view of Venice, Italy.

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Lamprocapnos spectabilis (Bleeding Heart)

Lamprocapnos spectabilis (Bleeding Heart)

Lamprocapnos spectabilis (Bleeding Heart)

Cathy and I went to the airport this morning to pick up Dorothy and then dropped her off in Bethesda, where she had left her car. Although it’s a little early for most azaleas, we decided to visit McCrillis Gardens, since we were near by. A few azaleas and rhododendrons were in bloom and there were other things to see. Fern fiddleheads were unrolling, there was quite a bit of Solomon seal (Polygonatum species). In the middle of the yard, under a large tree, there is a huge mound of bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis). It’s quite pretty and we probably should plant some, if for no other reason than that it would fill in some of the gap between the early bulbs and the later spring blooms.

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Proverbidioms Puzzle

Proverbidioms Puzzle

Proverbidioms Puzzle

We finished another puzzle in the last couple days. This one was much, much easier than the previous couple. That’s not to say it was simple, but nothing like the Dahlia, Mandala Stone, or especially the William Morris, “Garden of Delight” puzzle. Some of the proverbs or idioms in the puzzle are obvious. Others are either obscure or were unfamiliar to us. Nevertheless, we enjoyed trying to make sense of the illustrations. As is usual in a large puzzle, the large areas of sky with little to differentiate them was the last to get finished. Next up is a scene of Venice, which will be a little more challenging than this one, I think.

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My Office Building Lobby

My Office Building Lobby

My Office Building Lobby

The building my office is in has a somewhat dated look. It’s exterior is red brick and glass and is even referred to at my company as ‘RB’, which stands for ‘Red Brick’. The lobby had a red brick floor and built-in red brick planters along the front windows and on the interior walls. It wasn’t beautiful but the large plants were pretty nice, as that sort of thing goes. With a two storey height, the fiddle-leaf figs (Ficus lyrata) were especially impressive. For what seems like an eternity, it’s been undergoing a makeover. The new, modern lobby is nearing completion and I can’t say I’m overly impressed. As you can see, there are some plants in containers against the far windows. I assume those will be placed around the lobby once it’s done. But it’s fairly stark, in my view.

Uptate: They added some furniture, so it isn’t quite so empty now. But it feels very artificial and not somewhere I’d go to sit and chat. Time will tell, I suppose.

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Great Falls, Maryland (from Virginia)

Great Falls, Maryland (from Virginia)

Great Falls, Maryland (from Virginia)

We met our good friend Jean today and went to the Virginia side of Great Falls (which are in Maryland, because the state boundary is the Virginia shore line). It was a chilly day but beautifully clear. Most photos were taken with my long lens, including one of a heron across the river and an immature bald eagle flying overhead. I almost got a good photo of a turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) fairly close overhead but it’s only about 60% in the frame. Tracking and focusing such a large, heavy lens on a moving subject is still more than I can do reliably. I switched to my 100mm, which I carried in a pouch on my belt, for two sets of images that I stitched into panoramas. This is one of those two, which I’ve also cropped down and will use as my site’s banner image for a while. The previous banner, of Portland Head Light in Maine has been the banner since late 2015 so I thought it was time for a change.

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Another Puzzle

“Garden of Delight” Puzzle

“Garden of Delight” Puzzle

As mentioned, we’ve been doing puzzles recently. We started one with a photo of succulent plants while at the beach last summer and finally got around to unrolling it and finishing it early this year. The next one, the 1,000 piece Dahlia Puzzle (Friday, January 20, 2023) was considerably harder. Then we did the larger, 1,500 piece Mandala Stone Puzzle (Monday, February 6, 2023). We didn’t exactly plan for each puzzle to be harder than the one before but this one, although only 1,000 pieces, was considerably harder than any of the preceding three. It’s a photo of a tapestry called “Garden of Delight” made by William Morris (March 24, 1834 – October 3, 1896). He was, according to the bio on the box, “a British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist.” There were times when we despaired of ever finishing it, but, eventually we did. There were times when I basically picked up every piece and tried it in every available spot until I found where it went or put it aside and went on to the next piece, starting over once I had been through all the pieces. In that way, eventually, it came together.

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Glenstone Museum

Glenstone Museum

Glenstone Museum

Dorothy’s friend Tony got five tickets to the Glenstone Museum (https://www.glenstone.org/) for today asked Dorothy if she wanted to be one of the five. She said she did and asked if I could be the fifth. They’ve both been a few times before but this was my first trip to the museum. It’s on a 51.9 acre property on Glen Road in Potomac, Maryland. As art goes, I can’t say that I was particularly impressed. The landscape is very nice, even now, before spring has come, it’s quite lovely. The ‘Pavilions’ (sic) is an interesting building but not at all my style, except for the water-filled courtyard, which I like quite a lot. This room, however, room 7, appropriately called the Viewing Gallery, is very nice. Not so much for the room itself but for the view. The front wall and a portion of the wall on the left is filled with a single, very clean pane of glass. In the room is a lovely, curved wooden bench that is wonderful. I could sit there for a long while. Overall, the landscaping is fairly young but nice and it will improve as it ages. I’d love to go in summer and see how different it is. Again, not so much for the art, which I can take or leave (and would probably leave). But for the outdoor areas. Regardless, I enjoyed myself and I’m quite thankful for being included.

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Mandala Stone Puzzle

Mandala Stone Puzzle

Mandala Stone Puzzle

After the Dahlia puzzle (see Friday, January 20, 2023) we decided to put out a new one. This time it’s a picture of painted mandala stones. At a glance Cathy and I thought they were Murano (Venetian) Glass Paperweights but looking a little closer, they clearly are not glass. Ravensburger’s title for the 1,500 piece puzzle is simply “One Dot at a Time.” This turned out to be even harder than the Dahlia puzzle. We’d go for long stretches without finding any pieces and then we’d get a bunch all together. Each stone became a separate entity, although a few of them were similar enough that it was sometimes hard to know to which a certain piece belonged. Especially without the box to look at (because that would be cheating).

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Dahlia Puzzle

Dahlia Puzzle

Dahlia Puzzle

Cathy, Dorothy, and I have been putting together puzzles lately. The first one we’ve done recently was started at the beach over the summer but wasn’t completed. We rolled it up then and it’s been in that state since then. We finished that a while back and put out this as our next. I was pretty challenging. Nevertheless, we made continual progress on it and finally finished it this evening. It’s a 1,000 piece puzzle.

Our family is in the “you don’t look at the box” camp. Yes, that makes the puzzle somewhat harder (and sometimes considerably harder). But it also gives more satisfaction and gratification when the puzzle is eventually completed. I know we were all pretty pleased with ourselves when we finished this one. We have put it away and put out our next one, which promises to be at least as hard. It’s also larger, with 1,500 pieces.

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Rooster

Ayam Kampung Rooster

Ayam Kampung Rooster

Chickens are thought to have originally been domesticated from the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) native to multiple regions of southeast Asia. The Ayam Kampung chicken is a breed from Indonesia and Malaysia. It is a dual-purpose breed, raised for both meat and eggs. They are considered poor performers in terms of their egg laying ability, providing somewhere under 100 eggs per year. Of course, this one, a male (rooster) won’t lay any eggs at all. He’s a handsome bird, though, I think you’ll admit.

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Woodland Detritus

Woodland Detritus

Woodland Detritus

We’ve walked the Kengla Trail a few times, always in the winter. We took this trail from Muncaster Mill Road (MD 115), under the Intercounty Connector (a.k.a. the ICC, MD 200) and then up towards Norbeck Meadows Neighborhood Park. There isn’t a lot to see, honestly, although I wish I had brought my long lens, because we had a flock of bluebirds in the trees just in front of us for a little ways, moving further ahead as we got closer. I took a few photos but nothing of outstanding beauty, I’m afraid. I do like the patterns in these fallen branches. There is one point north of the ICC where the trail crosses a side stream where the steam goes between two very large sycamore trees whose roots have grown into a solid mass of wood. I’ve taken photos of Cathy there on each occasion but decided to go with this photo instead this year. We really should come back and walk this trail in the summer, though.

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View of Venice (Detail)

View of Venice (Detail)

View of Venice (Detail)

Dorothy and I went to the National Gallery of Art today. We’ve been enough ties we generally know our way around but there are always small changes to what’s on display. This year’s big surprise was a woodcut that represents a view of Venice. I took a few detail shots but somehow managed to miss getting an overall shot but there’s a very good image on Wikipedia. The sign for this work read as follows:

Jacopo de’ Barbari
Venetian, (c. 1460/1470 – 1516)

View of Venice
1500
woodcut on six sheets of laid paper

National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald Collection

View of Venice was unprecedented in scale and ambition. To make his drawings, Jacopo de’ Barbari relied upon the work of surveyors, who likely took sightings from bell towers across Venice. They borrowed tools from other trades: compasses and astrolabes were used for navigation, and instructions for measuring angles and distances existed in treatises on gunnery. De’ Barbari’s genius lay in being able to integrate these views to form both an overview perspective and a city map. Master woodcarvers then used his drawings to create blocks for printing. The project took three years to complete.

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Freezer Thaw

Freezer, Pre-Thaw

Freezer, Pre-Thaw

Freezer, Post-Thaw

Freezer, Post-Thaw

The freezer that we have in our garage has been frosting up slowly over the years and I’ve been meaning to empty it and get it cleaned up. Recently, the door didn’t get shut properly, partly because of that same ice buildup, and the inside became even more choked with ice. Two days ago I emptied it into two coolers (it’s below freezing outside so I wasn’t worried about losing my food) and moved the freezer out of the garage onto the driveway. I put pans of boiling water in it, replacing them as they cooled, until all the ice was gone. As you can see from the before and after photos, that did the job quite nicely.

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Seneca Creek Bluffs Trail

Cathy on Seneca Bluffs Trail

Cathy on Seneca Bluffs Trail

We decided to take a walk on the Seneca Bluffs Trail today, heading downstream from where Seneca Creek goes under Maryland Route 28 (Darnestown Road). We walked about 2.3 miles each way, which was farther than I expected we’d go. For the most part this section of trail is not near the creek. At a few points you can see out into the fields that are on Sugarland Road. The trail has some ups and downs, reaching an elevation of just under 300 feet above sea level, from a low point about 90 feet lower. At one point the trail goes through a stand of eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), which is quite different to the surrounding deciduous oak, hickory, and tulip poplar. I’m not sure I’d do this section again unless I made plans to go all the way to Rocklands Farm, another eight tenths of a mile from where we got. If we had a car at both ends then that would have been very nice.

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Great Falls, Virginia

Great Falls, Virginia

Great Falls, Virginia

After church and also after running a few errands today we drove to McLean, Virginia and took a nice walk at Riverbend Park. We went northwest on the Potomac Heritage Trail about a mile and a quarter. The view of the river isn’t all that good for most of the way, but there were a few good spots for seeing out of the trees. There is a nice bit of trail where it climbs about 50 feet over a knoll into a beech and oak wood before coming back down to the river.

From there we drove to Great Falls Park and walked to overlooks 2 and 3 (where this photo was taken). Because I now have a lifetime senior pass, short trips to parks that we would normally not do to avoid the $20 entrance fee are basically free. As you can see in this photo, the river is quite low right now. We’ve seen it when most of the rocks in this photo are totally covered.

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Jack-O’-Lantern

Jack-O'-Lantern

Jack-O’-Lantern

Did you know that in 17th century Britain jack o’lantern was a name for lantern-carrying night watchmen? That’s what Webster says, anyway. Reading there I also found out that the first known use of jack-o’lantern in print is in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, The Great Carbuncle (1837), which I happened to read earlier this year. Note that the carbuncle in the story is a deep red gemstone, not an abscess. Anyway, this pumpkin was carved by one of Anna and Greg’s sons and was greeting folks outside their front door. I think it’s a pretty well executed jack-o’lantern.

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Crane Outside My Office

Crane Outside My Office

Crane Outside My Office

The building my office is in needs a new heating and air conditioning system and the replacement was lifted onto the roof today. The back door to the building, which I normally use to get in, was blocked off and this crane was in the back parking lot, lifting the heavy equipment up onto the roof. This picture wasn’t actually taken out my windows, because I look out on the end of the building, so I went to a few different offices to take pictures. I admit it, I’m a sucker for heavy machinery. I’ve been told it’s a guy thing but I think it’s just certain people, both male and female.

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U.S. Capitol Dome

U.S. Capitol Dome

U.S. Capitol Dome

We were at an event at the American Pharmacists Association building this evening where a friend of ours was honored by a non-profit that he’s worked with for about 40 years. The initial reception for our friend (and another honoree) was on the ground-floor terrace. Then we moved up to the rooftop (The Potomac View Terrace) for the main event, which was a benefit and fund-raising reception. The view from there was pretty nice, especially as the sun was setting and lit up the U.S. Capitol dome. The smaller dome on the right is above the National Statuary Hall, also part of the Capitol building. Between those two is the dome of the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History bisected by a flag pole on the roof of the FRB Federal Credit Union building, two blocks from where I was.

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Sunfish Pond

Sunfish Pond

Sunfish Pond

We walked in the park this evening, getting as far as Sunfish Pond before turning around and heading back. It was a pretty afternoon and it was really good to get out into the woods. The sun was low in the sky as we approach the equinox but from this side of the pond, the lighting wasn’t a problem. People fish in the pond and with a name like Sunfish Pond, I have to think there might be sunfish in it, but I’ve never actually tried. Maybe I will one day.

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Dot’s Quilt

Dot's Quilt

Dot’s Quilt

I went over to mom’s this afternoon to take photos of a few quilts that she’s made. One was a fairly old quilt, made in 1996, which was patterned after a photo of Iris and Steve in a hammock. She is giving a talk on that quilt and needed a good picture of it. While I was there I also photographed two other quilts. One of those two is made up of 12 rectangles, each made by a different person. Mom took a photograph and cut it up into 12 equal pieces and enlarged them to the size she wanted the quilt pieces to be. Then each person in the quilt group got one and made their section with the only real requirement being the overall size. Mom combined them to make the completed quilt. The final one was the unfinished quilt shown here. It doesn’t have a name yet (or if it does, I don’t know it). But it’s quite nice, I think.

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Evening Light

Evening Light

Evening Light

We were out at Anna’s for an evening of singing. The light was beautiful as it filtered through the trees onto the lovely, stone building. I was afraid the dynamic range would be too much but this photo captures it pretty well, I think. It lasted about five minutes and then was gone. The structure was built circa 1817 but by 1940, only a stone shell remained. It was rehabilitated in the 1940s for residential use and that’s when the current doors, wi11dows, hardware, etc. were installed. It was built as the Seneca Baptist Church and is one of the oldest Baptist Churches in Montgomery County.

In addition to Dorothy, Adam, Michael, and Andrew came and played while we all sang into the evening. A good time was had by all. At least I think so. I certainly enjoyed myself.

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Euptoieta claudia (Variegated Fritillary)

Euptoieta claudia (Variegated Fritillary)

Euptoieta claudia (Variegated Fritillary)

Late this spring we were given a box of dahlia roots by our friend Anna. I planted a bunch of them in what was originally my vegetable garden. That garden transitioned from vegetables to herbs a few years ago and has since been overrun by oregano. I dug out over half of the oregano, which won’t slow it down all that much, to plant the dahlias. We have our first buds and I took a few pictures this afternoon. Then I noticed this variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) in the yard and was able to get one good picture before it flew away.

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A Grand Day Out

Cathy and Margaret at Rio

Cathy and Margaret at Rio

Cathy and I took her mom out for lunch today, taking her to Rio where we could see lots of people. It was a lovely day and there were plenty of people walking around the pond, playing on the playground, and riding in the paddle boats. The boardwalk wasn’t the smoothest thing to push the wheelchair on, but it wasn’t terrible. We had a really nice lunch at Silver Diner. This little girl (whose mother is just out of the frame) was interested in what we were doing.

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Letter Beads

Letter Beads

Letter Beads

We’re back in Lancaster, Pennsylvania today and have a wedding reception to go to later on. We spent the morning getting breakfast and then wandering around downtown. We happened to see this bead store the last time we were here and both Cathy and Dorothy wanted to see if there was anything interesting. They decided that there was. I have to admit the shear variety of beads and the extensive range of colors was really something. I didn’t take as many photos as I might have, but I did take some while the girls went through all the displays and picked out a collection of beads, both for themselves and as specific gifts.

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Fourth Pres. Sanctuary Renovation

Fourth Pres. Sanctuary Renovation

Fourth Pres. Sanctuary Renovation

When I started posting a photo a day, back in 2011, I only posted one photo a day to my regular blog (and that’s all I’ve moved here from that first year). I had a second collection called Project 365 Extra that occasionally had additional photos. Since then I’ve been less strict about it and would post multiple photos for any given day, sometimes as a single post with multiple photos and sometimes as separate posts. This is my third and final post for today. We went to the Fourth Presbyterian Church evening service for a hymn sing. Getting there a little early, I got permission to take a few photos of the sanctuary renovation in progress.

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My Office

My Office

My Office

Like many folks whose work is mostly on a computer, starting in March of 2020 and for about a year I worked entirely from home. Then I started going back into the office a little. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been in more often but still generally only two days a week. If the situation were different at home I’d probably go in more, possibly even going back to full time in the office. Instead, I connect to up to three different workstations from my home computer, switching back and forth between them to get various things done. I’ve had two of them for a long time but the third I just recently got to do some benchmarking on. I won’t have that long term. Anyway. I took a picture of the set up, which also shows some of the photographs I have up on the walls. At the top is Nick Weber’s rose garden, then a nearly 360° panorama taken late in the day at White Sands, New Mexico. Below that is Great Falls of the Potomac.

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Sanctuary, Pre-Renovation

Sanctuary, Pre-Renovation

Sanctuary, Pre-Renovation

We went to the evening service at Fourth Presbyterian today. There were a few reasons we wanted to go. First, Dorothy was singing in the service. Second, David Frerichs was preaching. And third, this was to be the last service in the sanctuary before renovations begin, first thing tomorrow. We came a little early and I took a few photos of the sanctuary as a set of “before” pictures. There are others, taken over the years, including our wedding photos, which were taken almost 38 years ago but in which the room looks very much like it does here. I don’t know many details of the plans for the renovation except that the stained glass windows is being replaced. I believe the existing window will be installed somewhere else in the building, but I don’t know where. Anyway, it’s going to be a while before services are back in this room.

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Easter Sunrise Service

Easter Sunrise Service

Easter Sunrise Service

In 2020 there was not Easter Sunrise Service, cancelled because of the lockdowns in response to the Wohan Flu. In 2021 we went to an outdoor service but not at sunrise. This year, things have progressed to something approximating how it was in the past. The sunrise service was at the regular 6:00 AM time and we had a breakfast afterward in the Upper Room. It was a wonderfully beautiful day (although Cathy was a bit cold when we first arrived). I had really missed this the last two years and it was great to be back. As usual, I took a few pictures, which I try to do unobtrusively toward the end of the service.

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An Empty Storage Locker

An Empty Storage Locker

An Empty Storage Locker

I have been working on getting things out of one of our two storage lockers for quite a while now. We started with just one in the spring of 2018 but it became clear that wasn’t going to be enough. By the end of the year, those two were both pretty well filled up. We’ve been slowly moving things out and dealing with them, some going to family, others being dealt with in different ways. Today I loaded a few things into the van and moved a few more from this storage unit to the other, which is as full as ever and was able to shut this one down. It will be even better when we get rid of the first one, but today was a day of triumph.

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Craftsman Radial Arm Saw

Craftsman Radial Arm Saw

Craftsman Radial Arm Saw

I bought this Craftsman radial arm saw yesterday off of Craig’s list. I already actually have the radial arm saw my dad bought in the 1960s but we had a small plumbing problem which caused rain to fall in our basement, soaking the saw. Unfortunately I didn’t tend to it in time and two parts of it seized up. One was the column which no longer lets me raise or lower the saw, which is pretty significant. The other is the motor itself, which is even more significant. So, I bought another. While my dad’s was a 10″ saw, this is a 12″, which is a nice upgrade. The downside is that it runs on 220 volts, so I need to have a little electrical work done, but I’m planning to put the kiln near this and they can run on the same circuit, although not at the same time. I’m looking forward to having it working.

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Late Snow

Snow on Maple Flowers

Snow on Maple Flowers

March can be very spring like but can and usually does return to winter conditions again before it’s done. We’ve had some wonderful weather but then we just got a pretty decent snowfall and blustery conditions. Cathy and I went for a walk in the neighborhood and enjoyed the blowing snow and I took a few pictures, including this one of the snow on maple flowers around the corner from our house. It won’t do the tree any harm and it’s actually quite pretty. Within a few days the snow will very likely be gone and we’ll could be back into spring like temperatures.

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C&O Canal, near White’s Ford

C&O Canal, near White's Ford

C&O Canal, near White’s Ford

We took an outing to a new stretch of the C&O Canal today. Not that it’s really new and we’ve actually been there before but it’s been a long time. White’s Ford is a little ways upstream from White’s Ferry. We found out way to the parking area and walked downstream on the tow path, stopping to enjoy the large, old maple tree growing at Lock 26. We also ran into a coworker (and her husband) that Cathy knows. We headed off of the towpath and down to the river shortly after passing the marker for White’s Ford. We saw two barred owls (Strix varia), one of whom flew from tree to tree and gave us a really nice view. This photo is the view of the C&O Canal looking upstream from the bridge near the parking area.

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Adjustable Bed

Cathy in Our New Adjustable Bed

Cathy in Our New Adjustable Bed

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.

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Ice

Ice

Ice

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.

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Music Pavilion, at the Rio

Music Pavilion, at the Rio

Music Pavilion, at the Rio

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.

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Frederick, Maryland

FCB Bank building near the corner of Market and Patrick streets, Frederick, Maryland

FCB Bank building near the corner of Market and Patrick streets, Frederick, Maryland

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.

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Footprints

Footprints

Footprints

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?

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Neighborhood Snow Man

Neighborhood Snow Man

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.

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Snow

Our Back Yard in Snow

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.

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Christmas

Christmas

Christmas

It’s Christmas. This year, like last year, Christmas has been attacked by Covid-19 (a.k.a. the Wuhan Flu). Last year was really quite bad, with our larger family get-together being replaced by a Zoom meeting. It really wasn’t what it should be. This year things are at least a little better, although they are worse than they looked like they would be even a month ago. With what appears to be a much more easily transmitted (although apparently much less severe) strain on the loose, we decided we should all self-administer antigen tests before we got together. Thankfully we were 16 for 16 negatives and no one had to stay home. Annoying but much better than last year.

As usual, we had our immediate family Christmas (just Cathy, her mom, Dorothy, and me) at our house. That included a large breakfast and then some presents from under the tree. Then we went to Dorothy’s house for the extended gathering. All of her housemates were out of town, so we were able to enjoy their large house and it all worked out quite well. Hectic but nice. And certainly better than last year.

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Ice Runes

Ice Runes

Ice Runes

Although it’s winter and in spite of the fact that there is ice on this sheltered spot on the creek, it was in the 60s today. Very mild and a great day for a walk in the woods. I love these ice crystals. I’m reading a book of essays written by (actually, talks given by) J. R. R. Tolkien. They are to a large extent, about language and if you know anything about him you won’t be surprised that they dealt a fair amount with Old English (a.k.a. Anglo-Saxon). These ice crystals made me think about ancient runes and that may be in part because of the book. I really don’t know.

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Francis Scott Key Bridge

Francis Scott Key Bridge

Francis Scott Key Bridge

I drove to White Marsh, north of Baltimore this morning on an extended errand. Cathy was working all morning so I thought I’d add a little photography to my return trip. I stopped at North Point State Park with it’s stone breakwater extending well out into the Chesapeake Bay. I also walked part of the wetland trail but it was pretty quiet, without even many birds. I might return in the spring or summer and walk their Black Marsh Trail, which looks promising. Then I drove across the Francis Scott Key Bridge and found a good vantage for photographs at Fort Armistead Park (which doesn’t have much to recommend it, frankly). The FSK isn’t the biggest or most impressive bridge in the area, but it’s a pretty big thing.

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Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery

Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery

Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery

As mentioned in yesterday’s post of Rehoboth Beach, we were here for a funeral. We came out yesterday and went to the viewing and spent the evening with our friend and some other family members and friends. The funeral itself was late this morning and we went from the funeral home to the cemetery, about a half hour away. I’ve been in funeral processions before but this was a bit different, with multiple vehicles with flashing lights zooming ahead to stop traffic at four-way stops and lights and then, after we were past, zooming past again for the next location. Clearly they’ve done this before. The interment was at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear, Delaware. Since Veterans’ Day was last week, there were flags on all the graves. After the short program there, Cathy and I walked around the cemetery briefly and I took a few photographs.

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Fall Color, Lake Churchill

Fall Color, Lake Churchill

Fall Color, Lake Churchill

We met some friends in Germantown this afternoon and walked with them around Lake Churchill. It was a pretty fall day, a little breezy and with the sun in and out from behind clouds in an otherwise lovely blue sky. The fall color is quite nice and I took a very few photos of trees showing off their finery. For the first part of the walk I mostly talked with Peter and Cathy with Kristen. We talked about the things we’re reading. He’s going through Dante’s Divine Comedy which I finished last year. I’m in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History. We also talked about the books we’ve read recently and what we’re doing to push ourselves to read more. After taking a short break at a bench along the way, we talked more as a group and then visited with them in their home for a little while longer. We really should get together with them more often. It was a lovely afternoon and great to get caught up on each others’ lives.

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RVFD 100th Anniversary

Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, Engine 32

Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, Engine 32

The Rockville Volunteer Fire Department was celebrating their 100th anniversary today. There was a parade of fire and rescue vehicles and then they all gathered in the parking lot in front of the old Carver High School (the George Washington Carver High School and Junior College, 1951-1960, now the administrative offices for the Montgomery County Public Schools). I happened to be near by and decided to stop and take a few photos of fire trucks and other vehicles. This is Rockville’s Engine 32, and 1935 Mack BG-6S, a 350 gallon per minute Pumper with a crew capacity of six. In 1936 it cost $6,692. Another favorite was a 1960 Buick ambulance. Classic. There were also a few very old pieces of equipment, some dating back to the 1890s.

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You Are Enogh

You Are Enogh

You Are Enogh

Cathy, Dorothy, and I visited my mom for lunch today. Mom presented Dorothy with a quilt she’s been working on for a while and we all agreed, it’s one of her very best, which is saying something, because she’s made so many that were amazing. After lunch we went for a walk around a pair of ponds and we happened to see this painted stone, which I’m sure was meant to be an encouragement but which we found slightly humorous. I mean, the U is missing, but it’s ‘you’ that is enough. So, maybe it’s meant to be irony. Either way, we laughed.

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Celosia At Sunset

Amaranth

Celosia

We went out to Rocklands this evening and I took a few late-day photos in the garden. I really enjoyed the light and I’m pretty happy with this photo, which I assume is celosia, commonly called woolflowers. Celosia is a genus of plants in the amaranth family. The name is from the Greek word κήλεος (kḗleos), meaning “burning” and refers to the flame-like flower heads. These are growing in Anna’s garden for use in flower arrangements. They certainly are lovely. A little later we met Dorothy and some of her friends and had a nice time eating, drinking, and talking.

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Rocklands Winery

Rocklands Winery

Rocklands Winery

We went to Rocklands Winery this evening with a couple friends, Krystal and Mike. I took a few pictures of them but they aren’t crazy about having their pictures taken and even though they turned out well, I decided not to post them here. We ran into two young women that knew Krystal from her days as a first grade teacher and I took pictures of her with each of them. We were also fortunate enough to have Greg the Elder join us for a bottle of wine and a wonderful evening of laughter and reminiscing. If you’ve never been to Rocklands, I can recommend it quite highly.

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Chardonel Grapes

Chardonel Grapes

Chardonel Grapes

I spent some time in the Rocklands Farm vineyard this morning, as well as having a meat photo shoot with Dorothy for their livestock business. Harvest is underway and it appears it will be a good one. These are Chardonel Grapes, which are the result of the cross, ‘Seyval’ x ‘Chardonnay’, made in 1953. It is “distinguished by its superior wine quality combined with high productivity and cold hardiness superior to its acclaimed parent” (i.e. ‘Chardonnay’).

I came early in the day hoping to get pictures with the sun as a low angle. Sadly it was cloudy when I got here. Also, if I had come about a half hour earlier I would have been treated to a wonderful sunrise but I was too late for that. After the meat photo shoot the clouds were gone. The sun was much higher in the sky but the light on the grapes was good and I spent another hour or so in the vineyard. If you haven’t been to Rocklands, I recommend it, both for the wine and for the atmosphere. Tell ‘em Henry sent you.

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Backyard Bric-a-brac

Backyard Bric-a-brac

Backyard Bric-a-brac

When we bought our house, the outside portion of our air conditioner was on the back patio. I’m not sure who would ever think that was a good idea. Someone who never sits on the patio, I guess. When we replaced the furnace and air conditioner, we had it moved to the end of the house so we could actually sit outside in the summer and hear each other talk. The concrete plinth that the unit used to sit on is still there and is a sort of stage for assorted bric-a-brac. Rocks, shells, bones, and antlers make up the bulk of the collection.

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Eloise’s First Birthday Party

Seth, Iris, Eloise, and Silas

Seth, Iris, Eloise, and Silas

We celebrated Eloise’s first birthday today with a family gathering. It’s been great to meet together in person again, finally. Eloise is walking, which is very exciting. I took quite a few pictures but I particularly like this family shot of Iris and Seth with their two little ones. Iris made a Very Hungry Caterpillar cake, a la Eric Carle’s book of the same name. The cake in this photo was the secondary cake, made especially so that Eloise could eat it with her hands. The primary cake is just out of the frame. A good time was, I believe, had by all. Certainly by us.

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Papilio troilus (Spicebush Swallowtail)

Papilio troilus (Spicebush Swallowtail)

Papilio troilus (Spicebush Swallowtail)

This spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus) was making the rounds in our front garden today. It didn’t really stay still and was a challenge to photograph. The wings were going the whole time, even when it sort of landed on the flowers and it didn’t stay on any one flower for long. Getting a picture where it was in profile was hard and any time I got too close, it would move to the other side of the garden. They’re pretty butterflies and I love to see them in addition to the more common tiger swallowtails (Papilio glaucus).

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Menkapalooza

Menkis Works

Menkis Works

Menkis Works

Menkis Works

Little Cellar Shop

Little Cellar Shop

Little Cellar Shop

Little Cellar Shop

Sewn & Thrown

Sewn & Thrown

Sewn & Thrown

Sewn & Thrown

We visited the home of some friends today. Three of their four sons and the three sons’ wives had a craft sale today, which we dubbed the Menkapalooza. They each had a booth showing their wares, starting with Brian and Naomi. Their company is called Menkis Works and as you can see, they specialize in hand crafted pottery. Then comes the Little Cellar Shop, run by Jon and Meg. They specialize in handmade candles and carved wooden utensils, as well as various other items. Finally, there is Carol and Joseph with Sewn & Thrown. As the name implies, there are fabric good and ceramics.

All three couples make lovely things and we bought a few. I’m sure they’d love to have you drop in on their respective web sites, linked above. If you do, let them know you saw this here.

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Rocklands In The Shade

Dot, Margaret, and Cathy

Dot, Margaret, and Cathy

We didn’t do a lot yesterday for Independence Day but we had the day off today so got to go out. It was a typical, hot, muggy July day. Yesterday was actually not as bad as today, when the temperature got up above 90°F. Nevertheless, we got our two moms out and enjoyed sitting outside in the shade, where the temperature was not so bad. Dorothy called while we were there, so it was nice for all of us to be able to talk with her. She and Renee got to Juneau on Saturday evening so were there for their Fourth of July parade.

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Rainstorm

Rainstorm

Rainstorm

I generally enjoy summer storms. I’m glad, of course, that we don’t live in a place with common tornadoes. I wouldn’t be very psyched about those coming through even occasionally. We had one here, actually, back in June of 2013 but as tornadoes go, it wasn’t terribly serious. Quite a few trees down including some that did extensive damage to houses. Anyway, today’s storm was nothing like that. Just heavy rain for a little while and then before too long, a blue sky replaced the clouds. This is the sort of storm I particularly like, with or without a little wind.

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The Big Train

Walter Perry Johnson Statue

Walter Perry Johnson Statue

Cathy and I spent a good part of the day running errands. Between two of them, I happened to turn on Monroe Street. A few blocks south of the County Courthouse there is a circular piece of land with apartment buildings on it, with Monroe Street going around it. It’s sort of odd and even odder that the circle has been there for quite a long while—it shows up on the 1923 USGS Topographical map. I’ve not found any explanation for the circular road, but I assume someone had property and the road went around it. As I say, it’s an apartment complex now.

At the south end of Monroe Street is Dogwood Park, owned by the City of Rockville. I didn’t know the park was there and I was also surprised to find this wooden statue of Walter Perry Johnson (November 6, 1887 – December 10, 1946), also known as “The Big Train”. I’ve taken and posted photos of his grave stone in Rockville Cemetery. I also went to Walter Johnson High School. But I was surprised by finding this statue.

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New Blinds

New Blinds

New Blinds

Dorothy ordered blinds for her the windows in her new room and I went over to install them today. It’s not exactly rocket surgery, but it’s significantly easier after the first one. If you’re ordering blinds, I can sat that it’s a little easier if you make them about a quarter inch shorter (side to side) than what it measures. Every one I’ve put up (one at home and three here) were just a little too long. The plastic end pieces come off and that shortens them just enough, but they’d be better with those still in place.

I also brought over a wall mirror for one of the others in the house, but forgot to bring the mounting pieces, so that will need to wait for another visit. Finally, they had just bought a used refrigerator and have put that in the basement. The doors open the wrong way and I started to switch them to have the hinges on the left instead of the right but some of the screws were just too tight for me to get out with the tools I had on hand. They are square drive screws and I only had the bits for my drill, which are not as strong as those in the Greenlee drivers I have at home. I’m hoping that between those and a little penetrating oil, I’ll be able to get them out.

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Rocklands Garden and House

Rocklands Garden and House

Rocklands Garden and House

It was a hot and humid day today. After church, we were home for a while but then decided to drive to Rocklands Winery for the late afternoon. I’ve been asked to take some photos for them, so we wandered around a bit and I took a few of the back of the sandstone house. We enjoyed a beautiful, if somewhat sticky evening before returning home. It’s supposed to cool off in a few days, so we may go back next week. If you’ve never been, I can recommend it. https://www.rocklandsfarmmd.com/

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Mini Art Gallery

Mini Art Gallery

Mini Art Gallery

We were over at Dorothy’s this evening and enjoyed dinner and a short visit. I only took a few pictures, because it wasn’t really a picture sort of evening but I did take a few. She has put up a fair amount of art in the bathroom nearest her bedroom. This picture doesn’t really do it justice and I’m not sure any would, unless I did a 360 panorama. And even that would be tough. As you can see, it’s a fairly eclectic collection of things, from a key chain to a partially painted deer skull, with various prints and photographs as well. I’ve been to a few art galleries that were more like this, with a wide variety of things on the walls, not just one painting after another, evenly spaced and all at the ideal height. The old Barnes museum, before it moved into downtown Philadelphia was something like that, although it’s collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings are clearly in a class of their own. Nevertheless, it uses a lot more wall space than in a more traditional gallery. I have no idea if the new location has preserved that look and feel, but I would assume so.

Another gallery with the walls more crammed with things is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. This is one of my favorite museums and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Boston, unless of course you don’t care for art. But I love it. Of course, I’m not saying Dorothy’s bathroom reaches the level of the Barnes or the Gardner. But it has that same feel to it.

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Phyciodes tharos (Pearl Crescent)

Phyciodes tharos (Pearl Crescent)

Phyciodes tharos (Pearl Crescent)

Our outdoor church service has been moved forward from 10:45 to 9:30 because of the heat. After church we decided to go for a walk on the Blue Mash Trail on Zion Road, behind the Oaks Landfill. We enjoyed being out, although it was a warm day, close to 90°F. Thankfully there’s a fair amount of shade. In addition to this daisy, there was a purple flowered vetch (Vicia species) and a few other wildflowers showing off for the insects. After our walk we stopped at Johnson’s because Cathy wanted to get some black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’). They didn’t have any. Then we had a picnic lunch at Olney Manor Park with sandwiches from Jersey Mike’s before coming home.

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Seneca Bluffs

Seneca Bluffs

Seneca Bluffs

As mentioned in today’s earlier photo, we walked on the east side of Seneca Creek today, on the Seneca Greenway Trail from Seneca Road to a little ways past Berryville Road. Actually, we went off the main trail shortly after Berryville Road and walked along a smaller trail just beside the creek. That’s where the photo of Rob, Susie, and Cathy was taken and also where this photo of the Seneca Bluffs was taken. There is what appears to be a wier or the remains of a small dam across the creek a little below where this shot was taken. You can see the Canadian hemlocks on the bluff, which doesn’t look nearly as high as it did from the top.

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Meadowside Spring

Meadowside Spring

Meadowside Spring

Cathy and I went for a walk near Meadowside Nature Center this afternoon, heading upstream on North Branch Rock Creek. On the west side of the creek, back into the hillside a little, is this spring. I have no idea how long it’s been enclosed in stone but it has the look of something done quite a few years ago. For all we know, it predates the nature center and was built when there were homes or farms along the creek. There wasn’t a lot of water coming out but there was some, possibly enough for a small home if you work it right.

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Lake Wiles

Lake Wiles, Isaak Walton League

Lake Wiles, Isaak Walton League

On the first of January we stopped at this little park owned by the Lake Wiles, Isaak Walton League. We came here again today with Dorothy and walked around the pond again. It was raining both times we visited but I suspect we’ll come again on a nice spring or summer day and it will be a little different. The island in the pond has a sign that says “Lake Wiles”. It’s a pretty place and the trail connects with the Muddy Branch Trail, which goes all the way to the Potomac, apparently.

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Ice

Ice

Ice

We went for a walk today and I took a very few photographs, including a few of ice along side the path. It’s melting and everything is very wet and cold but there are already signs of spring. Snow drops are coming up and before long there will be witch-hazels (Hamamelis) in bloom. Winter won’t be over for a while yet but the first signs of spring are already staring to appear.

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Rocklands Meat Photo Shoot

Fresh Eggs

Fresh Eggs

Dorothy is working on the web site for Rocklands Lifestock Company, the meat and egg business of Rocklands Farm. One thing she needed was product photos. I took the day off work and met her at the farm and we took a nice assortment of photographs. Food photography isn’t necessarily my thing, but I’m reasonably pleased with how they turned out. We’ll have to do some more, but it was a good start. And I love any chance to be out at the farm. It’s beautiful even in winter and of course, being in the country is almost always better than being in suburbia.

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February Snow

February Snow

February Snow

Still catching up on old photos from the winter. It seems weird to be posting pictures of snow when it was nearly 90°F yesterday, but that’s the way it goes. This past winter was pretty mild and we didn’t really have a lot of snow. Writing this in the first week of May, I know how the rest of the winter went and it did seem more like winter in February and and March than it had in December and January. We even had a freeze in the second half of April, although it didn’t do as much damage as the late frost last year, which was even later.

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C&O Canal Rocks

C&O Canal Rocks

C&O Canal Rocks

These rocks are south of Pennyfield Lock on the C&O Canal. The photo was taken on the same walk as the previous one of the great blue heron. It’s an HDR composite photo made from three images taken with different exposures. This allows the camera to capture more detail in the shadows and highlights than it would normally be able to do. As amazing as our modern digital cameras are, they still have a ways to go before they can handle the extremes of light that we take for granted.

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Bird Tracks

Bird Tracks In The Snow

Bird Tracks In The Snow

We had snow overnight and today and this evening there were lots of bird tracks on our back patio. It was getting dark when I took this, so it’s not as nice as it might have been, but there you are. Also, it feels strange posting this almost three months late, with temperatures in the upper 80s this week. But, it was cold when I took the picture and that’s life. I have ore than 30 pictures to post before I’m caught up.

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Patuxent River

Patuxent River

Patuxent River

We went up county today and to the border with Howard County. This photo is of reflections in the Patuxent River, which here is the boundary between Montgomery and Howard Counties (taken from the Montgomery County side). We were on Annapolis Rock Road and stopped where it crosses the Patuxent. A little further along we found the parking area for Annapolis Rocks, which we’ll return to at some point. It’s a really pretty area and one we’ve never been to before.

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Rusty Gears

Rusty Gears

Rusty Gears

Cathy and I went for a walk at the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park today. There’s an area with old farming machinery on either side of the road and I took a few photos there. I’ve always liked machinery and sometimes think mechanical engineering would have been a good career choice for me. If I had been a better student when I was a student, it might have been possible, even. There’s not much use playing the What If game, though, I suppose.

Note, I generally try to post photographs at least reasonably close to when thy were taken. In mid January I ran out of space on one of my hard drives and it’s taken me until mid April to get the new one installed (laziness, mostly). It’s finally up and running and I’ll see what I can do about getting caught up. Thanks for your patience.

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Sandy Spring

Sandy Spring

Sandy Spring

We went out for a walk this morning, going somewhere new, but it turned out that W.S.S.C. property requires a paid permit. The signage was very ambiguous, giving regulations for walking on the trails but then with big “No Trespassing” signs, but without an explanation of what constitutes trespassing. We decided to walk to Sandy Spring and enjoyed the walk very much. There is a champion white ash (Fraxinus americana) on the route, as well, which is a very handsome tree. There were other people out but no so many that it really affected our walk. The last time we came here we walked from Woodlawn Manor on the Underground Railroad Trail.

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Our New Roof

Our New Roof

Our New Roof

The roofers finished late enough yesterday that it was a bit dark to get a good photo of the front of our house, which faces eash-northeast in any case. So, here’s a photo of the front of our house taken this morning and without anything in the driveway. Getting a new roof is one of those things you don’t notice unless you’re specifically looking for it. Or I suppose if the old roof was leaking and now it’s dry inside when it rains. But when we bought the house the inspector told us the roof was pretty warn and we should plan on replacing it pretty soon. Soon became 14 years, but we beat the odds and haven’t had any significant problems. And now we should be good for a long while.

I compared this photo to one taken when we bought the house and the two holly trees, one by the driveway and the other at the left corner of the house, are much larger than they were then. Otherwise, the house doesn’t really look at that different.

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Roofer Madness, Day Two

Roofer Madness, Day Two

Roofer Madness, Day Two

Continuing with our ongoing roof replacement, the contractors were back this morning to handle the “bump” and the garage. Some of the houses in the neighborhood have a one story piece between the main part of the house and the garage and others—like ours— have a two story section. We call the two-story version a “bump”. Anyway, the roofing went on that and the garage today. The garage roof needed more repairs to the plywood but the joists were sound, anyway. Once they finished they spent quite a while on clean up. There’s a fair amount of debris, although they put drop cloths down, it didn’t catch everything. They also went around with a magnet picking up nails and staples. Tomorrow I’ll show you the finished product.

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Roofer Madness, Day One

Roofer Madness, Day One

Roofer Madness, Day One

As mentioned yesterday, we are having our roof replaced. The materials were delivered yesterday and the crew showed up this morning and got to work. Of course, getting the old roofing material off is a big part of the job and we had two layers of shingles that had to be removed. The plywood on the front half of the roof was in pretty good shape although there were a couple places on the back that needed to be repaired with new plywood. We also had them remove the chimney from our furnace, which is no longer being used, so that’s one less opening in the shingles to worry about going forward. It’s a noisy business, especially when they are tacking down the underlayment. Then they start up their compressor for their nail guns and it’s blam, blam, blam, for the rest of the afternoon.

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New Roof Rising

Roofing Materials Being Delivered

Roofing Materials Being Delivered

The kid in me still loves big trucks and heavy machinery. Put a crane on a truck and lift pallets of shingles onto a roof, and I’ll watch. Needless to say, I enjoyed the process of preparing for our roof to be replace tomorrow. The truck needed a surprising amount of space, because it has seriously long outriggers so they can reach the crane out to the side as far as this, positioning the materials as close as possible to where they will be needed. We had work done on our chimney in December, so we’re all set to have the roof replaced now.

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Burke Lake

Burke Lake

Burke Lake

We met our good friend Jean at Burke Lake this afternoon. We’ve never been there before but it was quite nice. There were a lot of folks there but we walked along the shore on a trail that was less used and it was very nice. The wind coming across the lake was fairly cool but the sun was shining and there were birds and it was lovely. Of course the main thing was seeing Jean, and that would have been nice anywhere, but it’s always better to be outdoors, if you can (unless the weather is really nasty, and then it’s great to be somewhere cozy, instead).

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Rain

Rain

Rain

It was a rainy day today, a quiet way to usher in the new year. In spite of the rain, though, we wanted to get outdoors. We went to a small park owned by the Isaak Walton League and walked around their pond and into the woods for a while. There were hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) on the pond and I got a few photos of them, good enough to identify them conclusively but not really that great. One of these days I’ll get a long lens but today is not that day. We also saw a hawk of some kind, which flew away from us in the woods. We’ll probably come back here in the spring or at least when it isn’t raining.

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Deer In The Yard

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

Cathy called me from the basement this morning as I was finishing up my breakfast. She had looked out the back window and seen these two white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) that appear to have spent the night in the pachysandra at the back of our garden. I took a few photos from inside through our not-so-clean windows and then risked opening the kitchen door to see if I could get any without the extra glass in the way. They looked at me as I opened the door and continued as I walked out onto the patio. They didn’t actually get up until I moved out into the lawn and even then they didn’t seem too concerned.

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Stuff

Stuff

Stuff

This is the top of a small hutch in our dining room. Most of the things on the shelf have appeared on the blog at one time or another but I thought I’d post a photo of the whole collection (or this shelf’s worth, anyway). On the right is a nurse that my grandmother made the clothes for and that was in a store window during the war as part of a display about collecting for the community. In front of her are three matryoshka sets including a traditional one on the left, one with Russian political figures in the middle (that’s Leonid Brezhnev), and a east Asian one on the right. The wine bottle was found in what is now the ghost town where my grandfather was born. Next to that is a figurine that Cathy got from her family of a baby sucking on its thumb.

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C&O Canal

C&O Canal, between Violets Lock to Blockhouse Point

C&O Canal, between Violets Lock to Blockhouse Point

Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Violet’s Lock on the C&O Canal today and walked south past Blockhouse Point. The river was fairly high and very wild looking. It was fairly cold and there were icicles hanging from the rocks on the other side of the canal. We happened to see two adult bald eagles in a tree about where we turned around and then saw two more eagles—one adult and one juvenile—flying overhead. I took quite a few photos and enjoy this one quite a bit. It was a pretty day and nice to be out, although also nice to get warm again afterwards (not that I wore a heavy coat, mind you).

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Post Christmas

Post Christmas Gift Wrap

Post Christmas Gift Wrap

At Cathy’s parents house, there was a step down to get to their front door. As packages were unwrapped, the scrunched up paper was thrown into that area. Generally at least one photo would be taken of that pile of paper, often with a child, a dog, or even a parrot hiding in with the papers. We don’t have as good a spot for that and there really wasn’t enough wrapping paper this year to justify trying. Nevertheless, in honor of that tradition, I’m posting this photo of a bag full of balled up wrapping paper. Happy Christmas, everyone.

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Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

I think I mentioned a while back that we put up our Christmas tree earlier this year than normal. We put it up on the weekend after Thanksgiving, which for a lot of folks is traditional. For us, we generally would cut a tree and putting it up that early is asking for a lot of needles to be down by Christmas. For the last three Christmases we’ve used this artificial tree, so that’s really not an issue. The plan is to keep it up a little while longer, but of course, it won’t have the wrapped presents under it after tomorrow.

We may have gotten the tree up early but we didn’t really do as well buying gifts this year as we generally do. There are a lot of packages under the tree but a lot of them are food gifts. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but we generally try to do better. Still, we’re together and looking forward to our two Christmas meals (breakfast and dinner with enough to eat that we won’t be hungry between them). We also plan on having video calls with our two families tomorrow.

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Knicknacks

Knicknacks

Knicknacks

I’m nearing the completian of ten years taking at least one photo every day. As you know if you’ve been following me far any length of time, I started this on January 1, 2011, posting the photos on Facebook. I started this blog with my second year (and have posted some, but not all of that first year’s photos, as well). I’m pretty sure that I will stop taking a photo a day at the end of the year. I’ll still take plenty of pictures but perhaps you won’t be subjected to pictures of knicknacks quite so often.

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Potomac River from Turkey Run Park

Potomac River from Turkey Run Park

Potomac River from Turkey Run Park

As I think I’ve mentioned, we’ve been looking for new trails to walk on lately. What with working from home and not being able to go to church or to visit friends much, we really like getting outdoors. Turkey Run Park, on the George Washington Parkway in northern Virginia is one that I’ve seen signs for over the years but we’ve never actually been there. The walk was about 2 miles in total but felt like more than that. Parts of the trail were a bit muddy and slick and there were a few places where we had to scramble over rocks (scramble may be too strong a term, but you had to watch what you were doing, anyway). There were two places where we had to cross a stream on rocks. And coming from the river back up to the Turkey Run Park parking areas was quite a climb. There are wooden stairs where we made that ascent, which helped quite a bit, but it’s fairly steep. Anyway, we had a nice time being out and seeing the river.

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Tiny Nativity

Tiny Nativity

Tiny Nativity

A days ago I posted a picture of a somewhat odd, folk art Christmas carol singing figurine (see Friday, December 11, 2020). In that post I said that I’d post a photo of a nativity scene that Margaret’s housekeeper made for her quite a few years ago. Well, here it is. As you can see, most of the people in the scene are made from peanuts, although one is made differently to the rest. The sheep are made with pumpkin seeds and toothpicks. They look a little like pigs to me, but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, because this is an scene in Bethlehem and pigs would be out of place. The angel (on the left) is a Hershey’s kiss.

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A Leaf In The Snow

A Leaf In The Snow

A Leaf In The Snow

As usual when it snows around here, I took pictures of the snow. They really aren’t all that interesting and I know it’s cliche, but there you are.

I did like this leaf, peaking out from the snow, so that’s what you get for today. Not exciting, but again, there you are. I do remember a friend in high school telling me that shadows are blue. You can see that here, in the shade of the house.

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The Year’s First Snow

The Year's First Snow

The Year’s First Snow

We had what the new media breathlessly called “the most significant snow in three years.” Since we haven’t had more than an inch or so in that time, it didn’t take much to make their prediction come true. We got maybe three inches of very wet snow. Not exactly what you’d call a blizzard. We’ve been working from home since March, so it really didn’t affect us at all. We did get a small package delivered that I didn’t find right away because it got covered, but it was in a plastic envelope so that wasn’t a problem. I think the snow was lovely and I’m mostly a winter person, in any case (I didn’t bother putting shoes on to get the mail, for instance).

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Another Strange Ornament

Carol Singer

Carol Singer

We don’t remember where this little Christmas ornament came from. Cathy thought it was made by the woman who cleaned her mom’s house for so many years but the things she made were more homespun. This is different. Just about as strange but different. It’s a Christmas caroler and it’s one we put out every year, but we don’t really know much else.

It’s a funny little thing but as one person commented on Instagram in reference to the Strange Little Ornament post (see Tuesday, December 01, 2020), our house “is a haven for strange little things.” I think perhaps she was including us in the “strange little thing” category, but I can’t be sure.

I’ll post a photo of a nativity scene that Margaret’s housekeeper did make in a few days. I think you’ll agree that they, along with this, qualifies as folk art.

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Painted Box

Painted Box

Painted Box

I don’t really know anything about this painted box. We assume it’s Persian but don’t know if it was bought in Afghanistan or Iran (Cathy’s family lived in both). It has some writing around the top edge (not seen here) and if I can find someone familiar with the languages, perhaps we can get it translated and that will tell us more. It was difficult to get a good picture of this, because it has a high gloss finish and getting a picture with a large area of reflection was tricky. This one turned put pretty well, though.

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Strange Little Ornament

Strange Little Ornament

Strange Little Ornament

This strange little ornament is one of our favorites. I don’t know much about it. It seems to be made of wool and it’s clearly a man riding on an animal. Beyond that it’s all conjecture. Is he riding on a horse? Who can say? Is there some significance to his pointed hat? What about the stripes on the hat and on his other garments? Is he meant to be someone in particular? We have more questions than answers. Nevertheless, he has a certain appeal.

We have many more ornaments than we can possibly display at once. If we had a huge house with four or five large Christmas trees, then perhaps we could use them all. But unless and until that happens, most of them will languish in boxes. But this funny, little man will always find a place on out tree.

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Nativity Scene

Nativity Scene

Nativity Scene

We don’t typically get our Christmas decorations up quite as early as we have done this year. I know some people are good about regularly getting things set up the weekend after Thanksgiving. We aren’t that prompt and sometimes things don’t get set up until the week of Christmas itself. This year, with less ‘out of house’ activities, we put our tree up and started decorating on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Dorothy set up the traditional nativity scene on the piano. As usual, all are welcome at the manger and Dorothy makes sure there are many representatives from various places.

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Mill Creek

Mill Creek

Mill Creek

We walked down Mill Creek this afternoon, from where it goes under Redland Road to Lake Needwood and then along the shore of the lake as far as Needwood Road. It’s a nice walk and we didn’t see anyone else on the trail. We saw a few white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and at least two pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus). The woodpeckers were far enough away that my photos of them aren’t worth sharing, but it was nice to watch them tap, tap, tapping on a tree.

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Potomac River from Blockhouse Point

Potomac River from Blockhouse Point

Potomac River from Blockhouse Point

I took the day off today and spent the morning reading (Rumours of War, by Allan Mallinson). Dorothy is home for Thanksgiving but both she and Cathy worked this morning. In the afternoon we drove to River Road and walked out to Blockhouse Point. It’s a nice walk pretty much any time of year and particularly with the leaves off the trees the view is really nice. We didn’t really have time to walk down the trail to the level of the canal but we will plan on doing that next time.

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Alta Vista Elementary School, 1935 to 1976

Alta Vista Elementary School, 1935 to 1976

Alta Vista Elementary School, 1935 to 1976

In 1976 I was in high school. The school I went to from Kindergarten through sixth grade, though, Alta Vista Elementary School, was being closed by the county. Demographics change and the need for schools in particular neighborhoods change along with them. Alta Vista was a small school, I think and my memories of it have faded quite a bit but still, it was my first alma mater. My mom was part of a group of parents that tried to save the school. Except for in Hallmark movies, these things never really amount to much and the chances of success here were pretty slim. The school closed and my younger brothers finished their elementary school years at a different school.

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Snakeplant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Snakeplant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Snakeplant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Dorothy’s former second grade teacher gave me this snakeplant (Sansevieria trifasciata, also known as viper’s bowstring hemp) when she and her husband moved to Florida a year after Dorothy had her as a teacher. So, I guess I’ve had it about fifteen years. It was in my office most of that time. Then, in March when we all started working from home, I sort of assumed it would die. I happened to go into the office ten weeks into that and was surprised by how healthy it was, although the pot was bone dry. I brought it home, along with a Natal lily (Clivia miniata) and a spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), both of which were also hanging on. All three have recovered nicely and I brought this and the clivia back in for the winter. As you can see, it’s got a few issues, but all things considered, I’m just happy it’s still with us.

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The Pond

The Pond

The Pond

Cathy and I drove up to Pennsylvania today to replace the locks on the cabin. Over the years, the existing locks have been treated pretty shamefully by those wanting (and generally succeeding) to get in. It was bad enough that they had become loose but recently they got so bent that the door couldn’t be opened properly. Anyway, it was nice to get out into the country for a little while and it was a pretty day. We didn’t stay long but we walked around a bit and I took some pictures, such as this one of reflections on the pond.

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Afghan Wedding Shoes

Afghan Wedding Shoes

Afghan Wedding Shoes

These embroidered shoes were in a box in Cathy’s parents house and along with a lot of other things, they made their way to our garage. We think they are Afghan wedding shoes. They are definitely shoes and they are Afghan. Beyond that, we don’t really know much. They don’t really look comfortable but then wedding clothes aren’t designed primarily for comfort. They would be more comfortable than Afghan pizors (see Wednesday, March 28, 2018), but that’s not saying much. On the other hand, the pizors are pretty durable. The embroidery on these shoes is nice and they certainly are festive.

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Stones

Stones

Stones

Sometimes when you travel, you pick up souvenirs. You might buy a post card and you’re almost certain to take a few (or a lot of) photographs, which for most of us really help to keep memories alive. We can look at the photographs and remember what it was like wherever we happened to have been. Or we might buy a small object in a store or at a market to remember the trip by. In our family, we sometimes pick up stones. Sometimes they are selected because they’re a particularly pretty color or have a nice pattern on them. Other times, it’s their shape or the smoothness of the surface. Some here—the green one at the top and the bluish green one on the right—are from the Nevada ghost town where my grandfather was born, 135 years ago.

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Election, 2020

Voting by Mail

Voting by Mail

I’m posting this a week after the fact, on Monday, November 9. We voted today (November 2) and dropped out mail in ballots at our local voting location (which isn’t our normal location, but everything is off this year, as you might have noticed). This is generally a non-partisan blog and I try to keep my politics to myself, so I won’t say anything about how we voted. Of course, in Maryland, it’s sometimes tempting to think it doesn’t really matter, regardless of which side you’re on. Unofficially, as of November 9, the vote was nearly two to one: 1,590,324 vs. 861,861.

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Linsey-woolsey

Linsey-woolsey

Linsey Woolsey is a fabric made with a linen warp and a woollen weft. This is a piece that my mother got as a wedding present from her grandmother’s sister, her great aunt Mattie. It was made either by Aunt Mattie’s mother Eliza Ann (1840 – 1896) or grandmother Elizabeth (1807 to 1855) so it was fairly old by the time mom got it in the 1950s. It would have been made on a relatively narrow homemade loom and the strips sewn together to make a wider fabric. It’s not known for its looks but valued rather for its warmth and durability. It was, however, forbidden to the Hebrews per Leviticus 19:19b, “neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee” (and Deuteronomy 22:11). I find the pattern a bit mesmerizing and a little hard to look at.

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Sand Art

Sand Art

Sand Art

I was working in the garage this evening and had my camera with me, thinking I might find a few interesting things to photograph. We’ve still working our way through some boxes of things from my in-laws’ house and I ended up taking a few photos. This is a small bottle with some sand painting in it. It’s the smaller but nicer of two sand art bottles. The other one has sand that I believe came from Petra, although I’m not sure how you verify that. This one, as far as I know, is nothing special. That is to say, it’s pretty, but we have no idea who made it or where it came from. It’s certainly better than anything I could do but that’s not really saying much.

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Saint Mary’s Church and Graveyard

Saint Mary's Church and Graveyard

Saint Mary’s Church and Graveyard

We had some free time this afternoon so we drove to downtown Rockville and wondered around the St. Mary’s Church graveyard for a while. I took a picture of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s grave marker (and their daughter, Francis Scott Fitzgerald Smith). It’s a pretty little graveyard, if you like that sort of thing. We do. I took some pictures of the church reflected in the mostly glass building at Jefferson Plaza across the pike. I also took some general views of the graveyard. I figured for my post, however, I’d use this one, showing both the older church building—now known as the Chapel of Our Lady—and the new domed building, dating from the 1960s. The parish was established in 1813 with the land being bought for $300 and the initial church building costing about $4,000. It has obviously seen a few changes over the years. The old church building was scheduled for demolition but was saved and became the chapel that it is today. I’m glad it was saved, as it’s a pretty, little church.

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Orchids on Singapore Dollar Note

Orchids on Singapore Dollar Note

Orchids on Singapore Dollar Note

From 1967 through 1972, the Singapore one dollar note featured the Orchid Vanda ‘Janet Kaneali’. I really don’t know much about that particular orchid but the genus has about 80 species. They are mostly epiphytic (Per Mirriam Webster, “a plant that derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and grows usually on another plant”). I was a little stumped for what to take a photo of today. I’ve done pretty well getting outdoors most of the year since the Covidian miasma set it, but it didn’t happen today. It won’t be long before it’s dark when I get off work, so this will get harder going forward.

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The Cabin

The Cabin

The Cabin

In 1964 my parents bought some property in rural Pennsylvania. We’d go there either for the day or camp overnight. Then, in 1974 we built the porch that you see here. Two years later we spent virtually the entire summer there building the cabin. It’s had a new roof put on since then but otherwise, it’s pretty much unchanged. There’s no electricity or running water and the walls have no insulation, so it’s not currently somewhere you’d want to live long term. Still, it’s a great family retreat. Cathy and I don’t officially get Columbus Day off but we took annual leave and went there with Dorothy and six of her friends. It was a bit damp and cool, but really nice to be away from home for a little while.

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Fire

Fire

Fire

I released some stored carbon back into the atmosphere this evening. It’s been cool for a while and I’ve been meaning to have a fire, so today seemed like the perfect opportunity. Also, I’ve been accumulating papers that need to be destroyed rather than just thrown away or recycled (i.e. things that have Social Security Numbers, bank account info, etc.). So, I took this opportunity to burn a box of papers, as well. When I was done with the papers, though, I just enjoyed the fire, watching the wood burn, watching the dancing flames, smelling the wood smoke in the cool, autumn air. It was lovely.

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Crystal City

Crystal City

Crystal City

I went to National Airport this morning (a.k.a. Reagan Airport) to pick up Dorothy. Because I had no idea what traffic would be like I left a bit early and pulled off in the Roaches Run parking area, just past 395 and the Pentagon. It’s billed as Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary and while that’s technically correct, it’s a bit misleading. You sort of expect some sort of viewing area or at least a trail or two. It’s just a parking area near some water. There is one “interpretive” sign, but that’s it. I think it’s mostly used by Uber and Lyft drivers waiting for business from the airport. For that, it’s well suited. Anyway, this is a panorama of the buildings in Crystal City across Roaches Run.

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Church Steeple

Church Steeple

Church Steeple

In mid-March, like most churches, our church began broadcasting its services electronically, through Facebook and with BoxCast. Even when they started having outdoor services in the parking lot, we decided to stay home because we’re a somewhat high-risk household. We continued to watch the services on BoxCast through a Roku device attached through a few adapters into our 1986 console television. Nevertheless, we missed seeing people and of course, the service, especially the music, isn’t really the same when watched on TV.

This week the church leadership decided to celebrate communion and Cathy and I decided we would attend in person. We sat in the shade of a small maple tree along with others scattered around the parking lot, some in the sun, some in shade. It was a gloriously beautiful day and we’re really glad we went. We still couldn’t really great people the way we would have and talking with masks is always a bit annoying, but it was very nice to see people in 3D.

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Internet Outage

Internet Outage

Internet Outage

I ran an errand today, going to pick up the trailer from the shop where it was getting new lights. When I got home Cathy told me our internet connection was down. I did a fair amount of checking, since it’s usually something on this end but this time I’m pretty sure it’s Verizon’s fault. We have business FIOS and it’s pretty reliable, I have to say. In fact, since we got that here in 2006 I don’t think I’ve had more than a few small outages until today. I spent a good while on the phone with them and by the end of that I thought the problem was in the wire leading from their box on the outside of the house into our computer room. That turned out not to be the problem, but not until I’d drilled another hold through our exterior (brick) wall. By the time I’m posting this, of course, out internet has been back up for a week, but it was out from Thursday shortly after mid-day until Saturday in the middle of the afternoon.

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Rainy Day

Bird Bath on a Rainy Day

Bird Bath on a Rainy Day

The forecast has been for rain for a few days and as usual, the forecasts were not very good. Today we had rain, however, and it rained pretty hard for a while. This is one of two bird baths on our back patio, surrounded by black-eyed Susans and with sedum growing on the surface of the patio in front of it. The pink elephant watering can adds a nice bit of color. I didn’t really go out into the rain today, standing on the kitchen steps and just under the eaves to get this and a few other photos.

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Spigelia marilandica (Indian Pink)

Spigelia marilandica (Indian Pink)

Spigelia marilandica (Indian Pink)

Here’s a second photo for the day. After our walk in the park, we went to the Agricultural Farm Park and walked through their demonstration garden. It’s really changed since we were here last, about two months ago. There was one plant in bloom that really caught our collective eye. It’s a Maryland native commonly called Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica). What a beautiful flower. This is something I’d really like to get. I’ve done some searching and it seems like finding seeds will be difficult. There are a few mail order places that have the plant but most of them ship in the fall. Hopefully I’ll remember to order some then.

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Dorothy’s Quilt For The Yorks

Dorothy's Quilt For The Yorks

Dorothy’s Quilt For The Yorks

Dorothy and three of the folks she’s living with came down for a three day visit. It was really nice to have them here and we had a really good time with them. They left this morning and stopped to see friends in two different places on the way home. One of those stops was to see Andrew and Rachel. Dorothy had made this quilt as a wedding present for them and wanted me to take a few pictures of it before she gave it to them, so we’d have a record of it. I think it turned out quite nicely and of course they loved it. I took one picture with Dorothy looking over the top of it, but we decided to feature just the quilt today. I also took pictures of Dorothy with Peter, Marissa, and Renee before they left (I know you’re shocked that I’d do that).

Beyond simply having them here, which was really, really nice, I really enjoyed our trip to Pennsylvania. It was a lot of fun and yet quite poignant. Memories.

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Day Lily Leaves

Day Lily Leaves With Rain Droplets

Day Lily Leaves With Rain Droplets

We had rain today. I have no complaints as we could use the rain. I didn’t go out much, though, so only got a few photos today, taken at about 8:20 PM as it was getting on towards dusk. The droplets of rain on leaves are a favorite subject of mine and today’s are on day lily leaves, right outside our back door. I took others, including some on tiger lilies in the front yard, but those didn’t turn out very well.

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Rose ‘Dr. W. Van Fleet’

Rose 'Dr. W. Van Fleet'

Rose ‘Dr. W. Van Fleet’

Last year my second cousin, Lyn, gave me a cutting of a climbing rose he has growing behind his house in North Carolina. It’s been in a pot since then but I finally got it planted this weekend.

Lyn said that the rose this came from was it turn taken from a rose that was given to his mother by Virginia, the wife of my grandfather’s (and Lyn’s grandmother’s) first cousin, Archie.

I’m pretty sure this is the rose ‘Dr. W. Van Fleet’, a repeat flowering sport of which became ‘New Dawn’ and was the first plant to receive a patent (i.e. plant patent ID #1). Interestingly, another rose on his property, one which has been there since it was his grandparents’ house, is almost certainly ‘American Pillar’, a rambling rose bred in the first years of the twentieth century by Dr. William Van Fleet (in Glendale, Maryland).

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Woodwardia Frond

Woodwardia Frond

Woodwardia Frond

I’ve had a few fern photos this spring but here’s another. This is a Woodwardia of some type but I’m not sure which. It’s growing in our shade garden at the north end of our front yard and is quite happy there. We went to the garden center today and I bought a royal fern (Osmunda regalis) to plant in this part of the garden. My thought is to move the Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) to the front of the bed, because it’s too short to be seen well where it is. The royal fern should be plenty tall so that will be nice. It’s something I’ve wanted a while.

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Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells)

Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells)

Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells)

Like most folks, we’re mostly confined to our house and to walks in the neighborhood. We figured that we could go for a drive so yesterday we went out and about. One place we went was the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park on Muncaster Road. I didn’t take my camera with me, which is pretty unusual, so we went back there today with my camera this time. There were a few others there but everyone kept their distance from one another.

They have a small, woodland garden that is particularly nice right now, with mostly early spring blooms. These Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are just starting to open and are so lovely.

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Water Droplets

Water Droplets

Water Droplets

We had another rainy day today, to end March. It’s been so warm and sunny lately that it was a bit of a shock to stay indoors all day. I did get outside long enough to take a handful of pictures, but really not much more than that. These are daylily (Hemerocallis) leaves with rain on them, and the rain continued to fall while I was taking it. I probably should have spent the time to get a tripod and really focus carefully, but I just needed to get a picture. Maybe next time. Sorry.

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Rainy Day

Rainy Day

Rainy Day

After a week of mostly beautiful weather, today was grey and rainy. It was nice to be home from the office, meaning I didn’t go into the basement much, but mostly I just read and dozed and did this and that all day. I did go out in the evening to take a few pictures but there wasn’t much to see and I didn’t feel like walking around in the wet to find something more interesting. This is the view to the southeast from the front of our house, looking past a few large oaks to more trees at the end of the block. The maples are mostly in bloom, which accounts for the rusty red shades. The oaks will be out soon, adding a bit of yellow and then everything will be dusted heavily with pollen.

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Dried Amaryllis Flower

Dried Amaryllis Flower

Dried Amaryllis Flower

This is the same amaryllis flower that I posted a photo of a week an a half ago (see Thursday, March 12, 2020). As you can see, it’s dried out but interestingly has retained some of it’s color. Since taking this photo, I’ve cut the stem so we won’t get any seeds. They are so easily available in bulb form late in the year that we buy one most years. This one came back into bloom, a little later than expected but without much of any attention having been paid to it in the meantime.

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Spiraea prunifolia

Spiraea prunifolia (Bridal Wreath Spiraea)

Spiraea prunifolia (Bridal Wreath Spiraea)

Our spiraea is in bloom and it’s really pretty as a background plant. It’s flowers are small but borne in a profusion of white. There are little bits of green in the flowers, but that can really only be seen close up. Spiraea prunifolia, bridal wreath spiraea, is a native of China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan and has been introduced in much of eastern North America. Interestingly, this double-flowered plant has the species name while the single-flowered variety, discovered later, is classified as a variety or form of the species. The name of the genus Spiraea comes from the Greek word speira meaning wreath.

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Log Cabin

Log Cabin

Log Cabin

It was such a beautiful day that after church we decided to stop at Meadowside Nature Center and take a walk. Shortly after we parked we heard a hawk call out and saw it land in a tree overhead. I was able to get a few photos of it—either a Cooper’s or sharp-shinned—but they were from such a low angle they aren’t really all that good. We continued down past the pond to the Pioneer Homestead, where this photo was taken. There are two log cabins, a smoke house, and a corn crib. From there we walked down to Lake Frank and saw one of the eagles on their nest, which was cool. All in all, a very nice outing.

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Cut Tulip Flower

Cut Tulip Flower

Cut Tulip Flower

Cathy bought some tulips at the grocery store over the weekend and we have them in a vase on our dining room table. The stems were a bit long and the flowers drooped a bit. She was looking for deep red flowers but they didn’t have any that were just right so she settled for these very pale pinks. I think they’re quite beautiful and a flower here or there and now and then is worth the cost. Daffodils are starting to bloom around my office building and one or two are about to be blooming in the yard but the tulips are a litter further behind. Spring it on its way, however, and we’re looking forward to working in the yard.

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Bobble Head Dogs

Bobble Head Dogs

Bobble Head Dogs

Not much to brag about today, in terms of my photographic exploits. There are days I just struggle and even when I find something to photograph, it’s only worth posting so I can keep up my photo-a-day thing. This is day 3,344 and this photograph is number 174,241, which is an accomplishment, anyway. We used to have a small collection of these dogs in white, brown, and black. They were in the back window of a car but eventually they went the way of all things, returning to the dust from which they were made (or they’re in the process of that, anyway).

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Linda’s Retirement

Linda's Retirement

Linda’s Retirement

A co-worker is retiring and we had a party for her this afternoon. Not everyone rates a party but she’s been here a third of a century and certainly deserves one. In spite of all the years and although we have the same supervisor, I’ve never actually worked with her, but we’ve seen each other from time to time and we have quite a few friends in common. I changed supervisors in the last year when my previous boss retired and we’ve only had the same supervisor since then, so it’s perhaps less surprising than it might be. Anyway, this is Linda (I’ll let you guess which one she is) with five of our co-workers, including our shared supervisor, Bryan (second from the right). I’ve worked quite a bit with Terry, on the far right and he asked if I’d come and take pictures, which I did and which is why this is my photo of the day.

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Tear Catcher

Tear Catcher

Tear Catcher

The story is that this is a tear catcher or tear bottle, used to collect the tears of mourners in Persia (i.e. Iran and Afghanistan). According to tradition, bottles like this (and in other shapes and from other places) were used to catch the tears and the more tears the more regret over losing the loved one. The shape of the opening, theoretically, is meant to fit over the eye, although it doesn’t really fit very well and I can think of much better designs if that’s really what it’s about.

I’ve never been terribly comfortable believing that they were ever actually used for this, but that’s the story. I’ve never found any convincing proof that they were actually used for this purpose. Interestingly, the Wikipedia page on them has very inconclusive and even somewhat conflicting statements about them and most of the statements are tagged as needing a citation, so even those are pretty suspect (not to mention that nearly everything you find there is suspect).

I don’t think this bottle is terribly old. If it is, it’s in terrifically good shape. It is, however, a remarkably beautiful, cobalt blue and regardless of the veracity of it’s origin and original use, it’s a beautiful example of the glass blower’s art.

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Leica 35mm Rangefinder Camera

Leica 35mm Rangefinder Camera

Leica 35mm Rangefinder Camera

I generally try not to repeat the exact same subject in photographs. That’s not to say that once I’ve posted a photo of a sunset, for instance, I’ll try not to post any more. But things like this camera, I try to post only once. I posted one of this same camera in January of last year, I’m afraid so I have to break my unwritten rule (not for the first time, I fear). I mentioned it recently in a post about a Uniflex twin-lens reflex camera. It is a Leica IIIc, which was made from 1940 to 1951.

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Portrait Print

Print, 'Henry', by Dorothy

Print, ‘Henry’, by Dorothy

Dorothy gave me a set of four prints for Christmas. Three of them are portraits of the three of us, herself, Cathy, and me. The fourth was also of her so technically a portrait but it’s her walking and not facing the viewer. Anyway, she asked me to take photos of them for her and I did. She also said I could use one of those as my photo for the day. So, while I took this photograph, the actual content isn’t mine.

Of course the actual content of most of my photographs isn’t mine. I just photograph what I see. Sometimes it’s a man-made object and sometimes it’s something found in nature. Rarely is it a me-made object and even then, I only make things with materials that already exist. I like these prints and I think I like the one of me the best, which sounds egotistical but I think it’s the best of the three technically and I just like the way it looks.

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Topaz

Topaz Crystals

Topaz Crystals

In 1974 we took a trip out west as a family. We drove first to Denver where Ralph and our dad met us, flying out a few days after we left so Ralph could finish a class he was taking in summer school (if I remember correctly). We had also stopped in Kansas City because George’s braces broke and he needed to be seen by an orthodontist. Anyway, after we were all together we stopped at a place called Topaz Mountain but now I don’t know if it’s the one in Utah (southwest of Salt Lake City) or in Colorado (southwest of Denver). My memory says Utah but the Colorado site is more likely based on the route we took. I know we went to Mesa Verde and then Four Corners and it would have been on our route out of Denver. Anyway, we spent a good while searching for topaz in the stream beds and these are the nicer crystals that I found. None of them, really, are very suitable for jewelry, although I made a tie-pin out of one but it’s just out of the photograph at the top. I like them, anyway.

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Advertising Thermometers

Advertising Thermometers

Advertising Thermometers

Cathy has a small collection of advertising thermometers and they are on the wall in our front hall (you can see the bottom of our doorbell in the upper left). They have been collected over the years from various antique shops and generally have been bought for under $10 or so. We’ve seen some that didn’t really fit the pattern and that we passed on. Just being an advertisement isn’t really enough. It needs to have a photo or illustration and preferably that should be mostly unrelated to the company being advertised. So, for instance, a thermometer in a bottle shaped frame with a Coca Cola logo would not qualify. From left to right (roughly), we have Quina & Miller Co. (furniture), B and B Milk Transportation, Santoni Furniture and Salvage Co., R.M. Pile & Sons (manufacturer of concrete septic tanks!), Geo. D. Deoudes Co., Inc (commission merchants), Randolph Market, and Dr. Beegle’s Chiropractic Health Offices.

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Uniflex II

Uniflex II

Uniflex II

This is one of the first cameras I used, back in the early 1970s. It wasn’t new then, as Uniflex cameras were made between 1947 and 1950. It has an aluminum body and a pair of 75mm lenses. I learned to develop the black and white film I used with the camera, winding it onto a reel that goes into the developing tank. I honestly don’t know if any of the photos I took back then are still around. Even if they are, I doubt many are worth looking at. But you have to start somewhere and this is where I started. We had a few old cameras available to use, as my grandfather had upgraded to a Leica and my parents had used both a Canon rangefinder and then a Minolta SLR.

Not surprisingly, I moved to 35mm and in 1979 bought the first of quite a few cameras. It was a Canon A-1. A few years later I got an F-1. That was my workhorse for quite a few years and went around the world with us in 1988. I bought a Nikon body so I could share lenses with my father-in-law. When it came time to move to autofocus and then digital, I went back to Canon and that’s where I am now, having started this “picture-a-day” thing right after getting my current camera, an EOS 60D.

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Van Go

1997 Dodge Grand Caravan

1997 Dodge Grand Caravan

I cleaned out the old Dodge Grand Caravan today and took off the license plates, which I plan to return to the Motor Vehicle Administration on Monday. Before I did that, I took one final load of trash to the dump (well, the transfer station, actually). I had a few things of my own in the back but I drove over to Iris and Seth’s house and got the rest of the rubbish that we found under the stairs and loaded that up. That load included recyclables—paper/cardboard, rigid plastic, and metal—along with all the trash. The van has been a really good utility vehicle.

272,000 Miles

272,000 Miles

As I was driving home I notice that I was approaching an even thousand on the odometer so I drove just a little extra to get it to 272,000 just before I backed into the driveway. We bought it from our mechanic in March, 2006 after he bought it from some mutual friends of ours replaced the transmission. I’d say we got our $5,000 worth out of the van (not to say we haven’t spent that much again on repairs over the years). This is the highest mileage of any car I’ve ever owned. The Chrysler Town & Country that died in Chicago last summer was just a little short.

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Going Wireless

Going Wireless

I know wireless is here to stay, but it just feels weird

I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while. The idea isn’t completely original. I saw a cartoon something like this a while ago (at least a couple years, I’m pretty sure) but I’ve never gotten around to getting a good picture of birds on wires that I could use for it. I think the caption in the cartoon was something like “I know but it’s just felt weird ever since we went wireless.” That’s the caption I was going to use but I thought I’d change it just a little. Obviously this photo has been digitally manipulated slightly.

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Metal Embroidery

Metal Embroidery

Metal Embroidery

This is a detail of a piece of cloth with a sort of metal embroidery on it. The metal is actually wrapped in tight curls around some sort of thick thread which is then sewn into the cloth. There are also clear and blue glass beads, as you can see, and metal sequins. It’s quite intricate, with the small curls of wire being less than a 16th of an inch in diameter. It came from Afghanistan but I don’t know how old it is or much of anything about it, really. The entire piece is about 8 inches across. It sort of looks like it’s meant to be used as a trivet but I don’t think I’d want to do that. It really should be displayed, framed in some way.

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Bolt Cutters

Bolt Cutters

Bolt Cutters

I mentioned that Iris and Seth bought a house. There is a shed in the back yard and the sellers left it empty and with the doors unfastened, but with a locked padlock on the door. It would have been nice for them to take the lock off or leave a key for it, but perhaps they had lost the key and couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it. I took my bolt cutter and chopped it off this week and thought I’d post a photo of this handy tool. It’s the sort of thing you only need once in a while but it sure is handy when that time comes. This pair has seen some heavy use and the cutters are nicked pretty badly but when cutting things like padlocks (and bolts, of course), pretty isn’t generally a consideration. It came from my grandfather’s and I worked for him two summers when I was in high school. We did the bulk of the maintenance of the small rental properties he ran in his retirement. I learned a lot those two summers and as much as I didn’t enjoy crawling under a house in the mud to find a plumbing leak, I learned a lot that’s been useful to me in later life.

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Hidden “Treasure”

Hidden 'Treasure'

Hidden “Treasure”

Iris and Seth have recently bought a house and are getting ready to move in before too long. I was over there with Seth a week ago to talk about things that should be done and things they will want to do but that are less of a rush. While we were looking around I realized that there was an area under the stairs that is closed in from all sides. I suggested that could be opened up, either from the family room side or the unfinished basement side to make a nice closet. Today they happened to cut a hole in the wall to see what it looked like in side. They were surprised to find that it wasn’t empty. Most of what was there had been taken out before I took this picture, but there was a lot of stuff. It included more than a few boxes of china as well as kitchen wares, a box of canned goods, and quite a bit of rubbish (things the mice have been at over the years). I seems to have been there for nearly 40 years and the house has changed hands a few times since then. We were hoping to find gold and jewels worth the purchase price of the house (or even just the mortgage balance) but no such luck.

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January’s Books

January's Books

January’s Books

I’ve been busy with my reading list lately, getting through some books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while now. I started reading Anna Karenin, by Leo Tolstoy, just before Christmas and finished it in early January. I enjoyed it quite a bit, although some of the characters were more likeable than others. After that I tackled The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It isn’t an easy book to read but I think it’s an important book, all the more so as we have politicians who clearly admire the Soviet Union at or near the top of a presidential race. This is only the first of three volumes and I have put off volume two for a little while, but it’s waiting for me when I can handle it. I took a little break by reading Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh, which is an enjoyable book and justly popular. I’m currently working my way into Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, which looks to be a bit harder and will certainly take me into February.

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The Old House

The Old House

The Old House

Cathy and I happened to be in my old neighborhood this afternoon and for the first time since my mom sold the house and moved out we drove past the house I grew up in. It looks basically the same, with the obvious exception to the purple shutters. That certainly is eye catching. The wreaths are nice, as well. They’ve painted the woodwork around the windows and the front door, which is definitely a good thing. The shrubbery was all trimmed heavily before the house went on the market and looks different to what I’m used to, but that was us, not them. Hopefully they are enjoying the house.

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Peruvian Mountain Harp

Peruvian Mountain Harp

Peruvian Mountain Harp

Cathy’s grandmother lived in Peru for more than 20 years, running the guest house in Lima for the Summer Institute of Linguistics. She sent and brought home many things over the years, from birds, reptiles, and small mammals to arts and crafts. One thing she brought for Cathy was this Peruvian harp. The harp, in one form or another, has existed as an instrument for more than 5,000 years. They were introduced into South America by the Spanish in the 16th century and have integrated into Andean culture. The Peruvian or Andean harp has a fairly large soundboard.

This one is not in playable condition, due to a large crack in the neck. I’d be very nervous about tightening the strings enough that they could be played. There is also a long crack in the soundboard, between two pieces of wood. Whether or not it can be repaired adequately is an open question. We certainly don’t know. Dorothy asked her college piano teacher if he would be interested in having the harp and he said he would, so today it left with Dorothy for New England and its new home. I took a bunch of pictures of it before loading it in her van.

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Frost

Frost

Frost

There was frost on the ground and on the car this morning and I thought the ice crystals were pretty enough that I took the time to get a few pictures before heading off to work. These are on the roof of the car and are so delicate. I started the car so it would be a little warmed up by the time I got in, then put my bag in the trunk and took a handful of photos of ice crystals. I realized after taking them that the camera was set to manual mode because I had taken flash photos most recently. Fortunately they were pretty close to a proper exposure, so that worked out well.

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Pussy Willow (Salix)

Pussy Willow (Salix)

Pussy Willow (Salix)

In addition to the Ranunculus that Dorothy bought for our dining room table, she got some pussy willow stems. Pussy willow is the a common name for various Salix species and Salix discolor in particular, referring to their furry catkins, as seen in this photo. These plants are dioecious, meaning the male and female catkins are on separate plants. In general, it’s the male catkins that are used ornamentally as they are generally the more attractive of the two. They are very soft, like a kitten’s paw.

Winter is, in general, a good time of year for bringing flowers into the home. The outdoors is much more monochrome in the winter, with browns and grey predominating. So, adding a little bit of color to the dining room table it a real plus. One nice thing about pussy willows is they last a good, long while in a vase with water. They make you think of spring, which is still a little ways off in mid-January. So, if you’re feeling the winter-time blues, grab yourself a bunch of pearly grey pussy willow stems and brighten up your day.

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Jigsaw Puzzle

Jigsaw Puzzle

Jigsaw Puzzle

We started working on a puzzle this evening. Cathy had pulled one out to work on over the Christmas break and we finished that in reasonably short order. That one had 500 pieces and was a pretty straightforward task. I bought this one as a Christmas present for Cathy and it promises to be a bit more challenging. It has a scene from Venice, Italy and is cut up into 1,000 pieces. Until the puzzle is nearly done, that’s too big for our card table so I brought up a four foot square piece of wood and put that on top of the table. That’s just about enough room to get all the pieces laid out in a single layer and turned right side up with enough extra space to start putting the sides together.

I happened to read something recently that compared some task with trying to do a puzzle without the aid of the photo on the box. That made me laugh, because that’s the rule in our house. Looking at the box is considered cheating so once a puzzle is put out, the box is put away and not looked at again until it’s all done. You don’t have to follow that rule, if you’d rather not, but that’s the way we work things.

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Abstract – Water

Abstract - Water

Abstract – Water

Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Great Falls today, along with half of the county population. It wasn’t really as bad as that but there were quite a few folks there. Also, the National Park Service, in their wisdom, has not only quadrupled the entrance fee to $20 per vehicle, but they no longer accept what is otherwise considered “legal tender for all deebts, public and private.” This, of course, slows entrance to the park considerably,

It was a lovely, cool, sunny day and we enjoyed walking about 4.5 miles round trip down the C&O Canal past Widewater to the Angler’s Bridge. I took quite a few photographs, including a good number of a great blue heron. We also saw ducks and cormorants and a belted kingfisher. This photo is of reflections in the canal of rocks and trees on the far bank and I really like it’s abstract quality. Dorothy said it reminds her of works by Chuck Close, and I certainly see the similarities.

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Pecking Chicken Toy

Pecking Chicken Toy

Pecking Chicken Toy

Today I’ afraid it’s going to be another “I have to find something to photograph” type day. At a little after 10:00 PM, I picked up my camera and starting looking around for things to photograph. Dorothy asked me to document the various pieces of the large nativity scene that’s set up on the piano and I did that, but I’ve posted a photo of that already, so I didn’t want to repeat it, even from a different angle. I photographed this little pecking chicken toy that’s been out since Cathy’s brother and nephew were here, so that’s what you get.

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Nativity Scene

Nativity Scene

Nativity Scene

This is a close-up of the nativity scene on our piano. The more traditional figures, Joseph, Mary, Jesus, and in this case a llama, are from Peru. Cathy’s grandmother lived in Lima for many years so it’s not surprising that her family had things from there. The “barn” for this set is home made, with sticks fashioned into a sort of timber frame and with a woven mat for the floor, the back wall, and the roof. When Dorothy put this up, she augmented the attendants somewhat and I’m not sure of the authenticity of all the characters represented. The parrot fits with the South American theme, but I think the little Chinese boy may be a bit out of place. Also, when Mary asked Joseph about the tree in the background, he told her it was a Christmas tree. She asked what Christmas was and he said, “I have no idea.”

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Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning

Christmas morning, otherwise known as the calm before the storm, was nice this year. Santa obviously came and left a lot of things under the tree. He also seems to have finished the puzzle that we were working on. I guess he must have been ahead of schedule and wanted to take a break. It was mostly the sky that was left for him to do, which was the hardest part of the puzzle. Naturally he ate the cookies that Darius left out for him and he the pieces of carrot that were left for his reindeer were also gone, so they seem to have gotten their treat. As you can see, in addition to all the presents under and around the tree, there was one that Dorothy “wrapped” that’s hanging on the wall. Needless to say, this didn’t stay looking like this for too long. But we did have breakfast before diving into all the gifts.

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Santa’s Pre-Visit

Santa's Pre-Visit

Santa’s Pre-Visit

In our neighborhood, Santa makes a pre-Christmas visit, just to be sure he knows where everyone lives. For all I know he does this everywhere, but we don’t live everywhere, so we only know about here. He doesn’t keep as low a profile on this visit as he does on Christmas eve and morning. In fact, he makes a fair amount of noise, with Christmas music blasting from speakers on his ‘sleigh’ and an occasional “ho, ho, ho“ thrown in for good measure. He and his helpers had bags of goodies for the children in the neighborhood, as well and a good time was had by all. Now, to wait for his second visit in a few day’s time.

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Frost

Frost

Frost

There was a heavy frost this morning and I took the time before going to work to get some photos. That meant lying on the ground which was a bit cold and decidedly damp, but I knew I’d dry out before I got to work, so I wasn’t worried. I think ice crystals are pretty cool (no pun intended) and these are pretty nice. I’d like to have gotten closer but I didn’t have the time to get out the ultra-close-up equipment, so this was about as good as I could get.

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Our Christmas Tree

Our Christmas Tree

Our Christmas Tree

We put our Christmas tree up this evening. I know a lot of folks have a tradition of putting their tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving and I have no problem with such a tradition. Nevertheless, we’re not quite so organized and in any case, the tree was in the storage unit and I didn’t get it until early December. It’s been in the back of my car for a while and this afternoon I brought it in and we set it up. Dorothy and Cathy brought up some boxes of decorations and began decorating the tree, although it isn’t done yet. There are a few boxes that were in storage and I will need to stop there and pick them up before we can consider it finished. Nevertheless, the living room is finally starting to look a lot like christmas. The large nativity scene will also need to be set up, probably on the top of the piano. Dorothy is also planning to make a wreath to hang on the front door. Note that in the past, our tree has stayed up until it really begins to lose needles. Now that we’re using an artificial tree that we brought from Margaret’s, that’s not an issue any more. We’ll probably take it down in early January, anyway. Note in this photo, the traditional peanut butter in front of the tree.

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Peanut Creche

Peanut Creche

Peanut Creche

This little creche is made with bits and pieces from the kitchen. Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus are peanuts with Halos made from Cheerios. The magi—or maybe those are angels, it’s in some dispute—are made from Hershey’s kisses. The sheep are pumpkin seeds with broken toothpicks for legs. I’m not entirely sure what is in the foreground. Perhaps that’s food for the animals (and the baby didn’t fit in this manger so he’s next to it instead. The yarn person, which is perhaps a shepherd, is not to scale but is definitely part of the composition. The frog, however, is almost certainly apocryphal.

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X-Ray Screened

X-Ray Screened

X-Ray Screened

Dorothy ordered something from India and it came recently. From “Rupsa, Near Fish Market Hatiadiha, Barhampur, 756028 Balasore, India” to be more precise. On the package was this orange label saying it was X-Ray Screened. It took me a little while to figure out what that shape was to the left of the text. It’s the tail of an airplane with a sunburst pattern on it. Anyway, I liked the label and took some pictures of it this evening. Not, perhaps, the most interesting subject for a photograph but I was fairly busy the rest of the day and it was something that caught my eye.

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Dancers in Mourning

Dancers in Mourning

Dancers in Mourning

With apologies for Margery Allingham (whose book was the inspiration for the title of my post), this is art work in a cemetery near where we live. I went to a burial there today, followed by a memorial service in Clarksburg. I didn’t really know the woman who died but I’ve known her husband for over 45 years. We’ve lost touch a bit but we’d run into one another occasionally. Nevertheless, he’s one of a small number of men who influenced me pretty significantly in my early life. After the service, I drove back to the cemetery and wandered around a bit and took some pictures. This art is in a Jewish section of the cemetery and I really like it. There was another similarly designed piece with Moses parting the waters of the Red Sea. I’m assuming that this is Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, who:

…took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”

(Exodus 15:20–21)

She was not mourning, of course, but as this artwork is decorating a cemetery, I thought that title might fit well.

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History Books

History Books

History Books

When I was in school, both K through 12 and in college, I was not much of a reader. It wasn’t that I couldn’t read. But I was a slow reader and it took me a long time to get through anything of substance. I don’t think it was because I had a short attention span. It was probably as short as that of many boys but I could focus if I wanted to. The problem was that I didn’t want to. History, among a few other subjects, simply didn’t interest me. Now, things are different. I love history and although I still read slowly, I’m much more likely to be reading history of one sort or another that almost anything else. When I set up my library in the basement I organized my books mostly by subject but there are a few groups of books that are grouped together for other reasons. In the case of these books, they are both historical in nature and unified by their common publisher. To their left (outside this photo) are most of my Modern Library books, also grouped together.

A side note, four of these books, The Song of Roland and the three part Dante series, were all translated by Dorothy Sayers (13 June 1893 – 17 December 1957), famed for her mystery stories.

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Letters

Letters

Letters

When was the last time you wrote a letter? For me, I know it’s been a while. I’ve sent a few business letters, generally accompanying a check or something of that sort. But a real, honest to goodness, hand-written letter? It’s been a while. I wrote one to a friend who ended up in prison for a little while but that was hard. I’ve probably only written one or two others in the last five years or more. I’m not sure what that means for the future. I guess in one sense it means “less stuff” and maybe that’s a good thing. But it’s sometimes fun to see old letters that were written by our parents or grandparents (or even earlier) back in the day. That’s what these are.

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Mugs

Mugs

Mugs

This is one of those photos that’s here just to fill they day. We have a blue hutch in our kitchen, brought from my mother-in-law’s kitchen. On that are two shelves where we keep mugs and these are some of them. The mug on the right holds dry-erase markers that we use to update the calendar on the wall nearby. In the back is a mug I made (the light brown one) back in 1979 or thereabouts. It’s a pretty decent mug, if I say so myself. In front of that and to the left is one that Dorothy got for being in the York’s wedding. And back over to the right is one that dad got at NIH at some point. I think of him whenever I use it (and other times, too).

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Redbud Pods

Redbud Pods

Redbud Pods

I got out of my office and into the woods for a little while today. I took some pictures of oak leaves, which I fine quite beautiful this time of year. I also took some photos of the stream that flows through the woods next to my office. There was a small oily patch that looked like miniature ice bergs and I thought about posting one of those. In the end, I decided I liked this photo of two redbud seedpods better. It’s a simple picture but I like the lines.

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Stuff

Metal Deer In a Metal Bowl

Metal Deer In a Metal Bowl

This is one of those times where I was looking for something to photograph and what I found may or may not be of interest. But it’s a photograph. We have some things that were not gotten rid of during the emptying of our two family homes in 2018. Maybe some of them we should have but for now, they are in our house (with other things being in one of three storage units, which is another story all together). I’m not sure how to describe these two items. The first is a deer, made out of metal with small, orange enamel drops and swirls of wire to represent fur. The second is a small, heart shaped bowl, also made of metal, with a subtle pattern on it. It’s pretty tarnished, so perhaps it’s made of silver, but I’m really not sure.

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Frost

Frost

Frost

It’s turned cold, with morning temperatures in the mid 20s. We had our first hard freeze yesterday and today there was frost on the windscreen of my car. So, naturally I pulled out my camera and took a few pictures. These little ice crystals are pretty delicate and once I turned on the car, they melted pretty quickly (and I ran the windshield washer, which took care of them completely). As many of you know, I don’t mind cold weather too much. I wore a jacket a few times during our ten days in Juneau but that was as much for the rain as anything else. I’ll generally not bother unless it’s below about 15°F or I’m going to be outdoors for an extended period.

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Bananagram Tiles

Bananagram Tiles

Bananagram Tiles

I bought a book from Ikea today. Sorry, the joke isn’t original but very few of them really are. I was looking around for something to photograph this evening and saw this Bananagrams set and thought I could use them to illustrate the joke. Not the funniest joke I’ve every told but certainly not the worst, either. Am I known for telling “dad jokes”? Yes, I suppose I am. It goes along with my “dad bod”, which I prefer to describe as a “father figure”.

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Everlastings

Everlastings

Everlastings

I’ve published a photo of these everlastings (Xerochrysum bracteatum ‘Sundaze Golden Beauty’) before. See Wednesday, June 06, 2018. They aren’t quite as fresh as they were then, but if you can find another flower that looks this good after five months in your back garden, with birds, bugs, and the summer heat, I’ll be surprised. Yellow flowers seem to fool the computer in my camera (a Canon EOS 60D) and they come out with way too much blue. It’s easy enough to adjust them back to the original yellow but it’s a bit funny how strongly it wants them to be blue.

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Samovar Lamp and Ceramic Dog

Samovar Lamp and Ceramic Dog

Samovar Lamp and Ceramic Dog

a few of Dorothy’s friends are passing through the area and asked if they could spend the night here tomorrow night. Naturally we’re happy to have them and I was cleaning up the guest room, which we have used as something of a store room for things we don’t know what to do with. I was in there this evening and this do caught my eye. I don’t know why but I think the composition with the dog in front of the samovar lamp just works. It’s all I have for today, so I guess it has to.

As I mentioned a few days ago, with the shorter days, if I don’t get out during work and if there doesn’t happen to be a nice sunrise or sunset, I have a hard time getting an outdoor photo this time of year (and for the next few months). Because of that, I’m afraid you’re going to have to put up with this sort of photograph. This happens every year and I really should look back at previous years and see if there is anything I did that I might do again now, to deal with this issue.

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Bald Eagles in Lemon Creek

Bald Eagles in Lemon Creek

Bald Eagles in Lemon Creek

Well, we landed in Juneau after a long day of flights and layovers in Los Angeles and Seattle. We slept well and didn’t worry about getting up early (although I woke up at 7:00 anyway). We took a walk with the dogs in Lemon Creek, where Dorothy is living with our good friends, Brian and Lisa. The dogs, Kippen and Ayla, are border collies and are a lot of fun. The walk in Lemon Creek is surprisingly pretty for something so close to their house and it was nice to get out. The air was cool and it was raining very lightly but we knew what to expect and were ready for it. I got one photo with three bald eagles in it but I think this one is better. You can see the one at the top of the tree pretty easily but there is a second that’s not quite so obvious a little ways down on the right side of the same tree.

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Hard Drives

Hard Drives

Hard Drives

I’ve worked my way through quite a few hard drives over the years. When I bought my first computer, a NEC APC. I had the option to buy a 10MB drive for about $5,000. I opted not to spend that much for a hard drive that was only 10 times the capacity of the 8″ floppies it used. My phone now has a 128GB micro SD card that can be bought for $20. That’s roughly 13,000 times the capacity for 1/250th the price or about 3.25 million times the storage per dollar. I have two 5TB and two 6TB drives in my main work computer that cost a little over $100 each, more than 20 million times the storage per dollar. What I really need to do it make sure there is nothing left on any of these drives that I need and then destroy them. But like so much of what needs to be done, it takes time.

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Sweat Bee

Sweat Bee

Sweat Bee

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.

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Reflections

Reflections

Reflections

Cathy and I went to Trader Joe’s after work and then stopped at the Rio for a bit. We walked around the pond and I took some photos, mostly of the reflections in the water. This is the Launch Workplaces building near the western end of the pond. I thought the reflections were nice. There was a gaggle of (probably middle school) girls on the bridge posing for group pictures on their phones and we heard the dad of one of them say something like, “Well, we’re eating now. You can take pictures or you can eat.” The girls didn’t seem interested in eating.

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Oxford Athletic Medal

Oxford Athletic Club Medal

Oxford Athletic Club Medal

My grandfather and his brother were both Rhodes scholars. My grandfather, the older of the two, was at Exeter College from October, 1907 through July, 1910. His younger brother, Ralph, was at St Johns and received a B.A. degree in 1912 and a B.Sc. degree in 1913. They both competed in athletics, and we have this medal that Ralph won in a competition in 1911. It was for second place in the high jump and his height was 5 feet, 3½ inches. That wasn’t close to any sort of record. The world record in 1912 (the first world record in the men’s high jump was recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federations) was 6′ 6¾”. The current record is 8′ ½” (2.45 meters).

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Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Staghorn Sumac (<em>Rhus typhina</em>)

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

I had hoped to get outside yesterday but didn’t. Today I did, walking up the road and onto the empty lot next to my building. The vernal drainage pool is nearly dry. The small areas with water are interesting because there is something in the water that’s not happy to be quite so crowded. If it rains soon, they may be saved. The fall color has only just started to be in evidence but a few things tend to turn early and they stand out. This staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is an example. They are also crowned with their bright red, annual, pyramidal fruiting clusters.

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Old Wrench

Old Wrench

Old Wrench

I had hoped to get pictures outside today but it didn’t happen. I was moving a few things in the basement this evening and I noticed this old wrench and thought it might be an interesting thing for a photograph. Well, maybe not all that interesting but that’s all I have, so that’s all you get. This was one of the tools I got when we cleaned out my grandfather’s work shop back in the early 1980s. I don’t know how old it is, but it’s almost certainly older than I am, anyway. I see similar items listed on web sites specializing in antiques calling this an antique. That may be stretching things a bit, but it’s oldish, anyway.

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10,000 Afghani Note

10,000 Afghani Note

10,000 Afghani Note

I’ve recently been going through some scanned photographs and putting labels on them. These were taken by my father-in-law in the 1950s and early 1960s in Afghanistan, a place many people could not have found on a map until the last 20 years or so. I’ve gotten so I have a pretty good idea where the different photographs were taken and I recognize some of the important personages, such as King Mohammed Zahir Shah, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran, Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin of the USSR, and Vice President Richard M. Nixon. I also have gotten familiar with many of the landmarks. On this 10,000 Afghani note (sadly not worth much) is a detail of the Great Mosque of Herat. On the reverse is the Arch of Qala-e-Bost, outside Lashkar Gah.

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Resistance is Futile

Resistance is Futile

Resistance is Futile

“Resistance is Futile. You will be assimilated.” So spoke the Borg when meeting other species. Scott Adams used a variation—“It’s useless to be a resistor”, if memory serves— in one of his Dilbert strips. There are t-shirts with the phrase “Resistance is Futile (if < 1 ohm)” (with some variation in the actual number of ohms required for resistance to be futile). Those, I believe, are aimed at the intersection between Star Trek fans and electrical engineers (or whatever the category would be that will get the electronics reference). Anyway, this is a multi-meter showing a hair over 50 ohms of resistance.

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“New” Car

Our 'New' Car

Our “New” Car

It’s been a busy season for us in terms of cars. We’ve been dealing with our aging fleet for some time. In July, Dorothy left with her cousin in what was meant to be the final journey for our 2000 Chrysler Town and Country. The plan was for them to drive via Chicago to Albuquerque and the car would then be sold for scrap. They made it to Chicago and that’s where it died (the brakes failed completely). They made the rest of the trip in a rental car. We replaced that with a 2007 Town and Country, bought from the parents of a coworker. We also need to unload the Mercury Villager that belongs to Cathy’s mom. It’s ready to go. Well, my brother George came to our rescue by offering us his 2006 Honda Accord. It’s in really good shape and it’s our first sedan of any description for quite some time. I got it registered today, so I figured I’d take a few pictures.

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Shady Grove Church Picnic

Shady Grove Church Picnic

Shady Grove Church Picnic

Our church’s annual fall picnic was today and we couldn’t have asked for much nicer weather. I suppose a few degrees cooler wouldn’t have hurt, but it was very, very nice. We ate a great picnic lunch with burgers, hot dogs, and smoked pork shoulder (thanks, Ben!) as well as a wider variety of side dishes than I’ve seen in a long time. After the meal, we had our “regular” church service. Well, it was a bit different because we were outdoors. But otherwise, it was pretty much what we’re used to. It was great to see an old friend (she’s not all that old, but we’ve known her for a while) and I think a good time was had by all, or certainly most.

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Rose In The Rain

Rose 'Perle d’Or' In The Rain

Rose ‘Perle d’Or’ In The Rain

It’s been pretty dry lately. Not drought dry, but normal August in the DC area dry, which is dry enough for me. I’ve never been attracted to deserts and am happy when rain comes (within reason). We had a good rain today. Not the all-day soaking rain we’re more likely to get starting in September but a good rain, nonetheless. When it had mostly stopped, I took a few pictures of water droplets on leaves, starting with the leaves of this rose. It’s the China rose ‘Perle d’Or’ just outside our front door and it’s happily blooming and doing very well after being killed back a little last winter.

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Shady Grove Adventist Hospital

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital

No, I’m not in the hospital, at least not as a patient. I met Cathy’s mom there early this evening and then Cathy joined us a little later. As I write this, four days after the fact, Margaret is home and the stay at the hospital is just a memory. At the time, of course, it’s a lot of waiting around punctuated by brief visits from the doctor and slightly more frequent visits from the nurse. We were in the emergency room and everyone was very nice. The sounds of an ER are not exactly conducive to rest. At about 11:30 they decided to admit her to the hospital and the nurse sent us home with a promise to call and let us know what room she has been moved to. I had taken a few pictures on my phone in the ER but took this photo as we left at about 11:45 PM.

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Our Own Mound of Butter

Our Own Mound of Butter

Our Own Mound of Butter

For a while now I’ve bought butter in two-pound rolls. It’s a bit cheaper and we go through it quickly enough. In fact, I try to have one roll in the freezer that I take out (and replace) when the one in the fridge runs out. When Cathy’s niece Abba was here last year she took a photo on her phone of my two-pound roll on the counter. Sometime later She posted a photo of this painting on Instagram, titled “Our Own Mound of Butter.” I asked if I could buy it and now it’s hanging in our dining room.

I wasn’t able to get out into the garden to take any photos today. After going to the Motor Vehicle Administration (my favorite place) to register a new old car we bought my back started bothering me. By 1:00 in the afternoon I was having a really hard time. I got on the floor and did my “Say Goodbye To Back Pain” exercises. I went home shortly after 2:00 and spent the rest of the day on an ice pack. Late in the evening I got up and took a few pictures, including this one. I hope you enjoy it.

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Gasteracantha cancriformis (Spinybacked Orbweaver)

Gasteracantha cancriformis (Spinybacked Orbweaver)

Gasteracantha cancriformis (Spinybacked Orbweaver)

Cathy and I drove to the east end of Ocean Isle this morning and walked on the beach, looking for shells and coral and I took a few pictures. The other day we had noticed a boardwalk going into the scrub off of one of the back streets and we decided to see where it led. from the corner of e 4 sup th /sup and winston-salem streets we followed a combination of boardwalks (over wet areas) and sandy trails that go as far as Charlotte Street (although we didn’t actually go all the way to the end). We saw three species of spider. There were lots of these spinybacked orbweavers (Gasteracantha cancriformis). We also saw a golden-silk orbweaver (Nephila clavipes) and a black-and-yellow argiope (Argiope aurantia). I also got a pretty nice photo of a slant-faced grasshopper (Subfamily Gomphocerinae). It was hot but there were occasional breezes and it was mostly shady, so we enjoyed it pretty well.

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Water Droplets

Water Droplets

Water Droplets

I went out into the empty lot next to my building today but didn’t get a lot of pictures to show for it. There was a small depression in the ground, it looked like it might have been a deer footprint, with a small spider web in it. The spider web had water droplets on it, and that’s what you see here. The web itself is practically invisible so it just looks like water droplets floating in air. Very cool, I think. I didn’t have a tripod and even if I did, getting this close to the ground is a problem. I have a new (used) tripod with legs that spread far enough to get me pretty low but the central post is too long for that to make a difference. In any case, just the tripod head is too tall in this case. A bean bag would have been better, but I didn’t have that, either.

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Danaus plexippus (Monarch)

Danaus plexippus (Monarch)

Danaus plexippus (Monarch)

As I’ve mentioned, the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is the most plentiful, large butterfly in our yard all summer. They are followed by the monarch (Danaus plexippus) in a distant second place. They generally are harder to photograph than the swallowtails but this one let me get close and I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s perched on Verbena bonariensis growing in our front yard, near where the Colorado spruce used to be.

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2007 Town and Country

2007 Town and Country

2007 Town and Country

We bought a new car today. It’s new to us, anyway, although it’s a 2007, so not really new. The timing is pretty great, coming as it does shortly after the old 2000 Town and Country gave up the ghost in Chicago, as Dorothy and Abba were driving to Albuquerque. I happened to mention Dorothy’s woes to a few coworkers and one of them said her parents were going to sell their car—also a Town and Country—because they are moving to Florida and already have cars there. We made the transaction today but still need to get it registered, but it’s here. The new pride of the fleet.

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Moon Landing 50th Anniversary

Moon Landing 50th Anniversary

Moon Landing 50th Anniversary

We hadn’t planned on going downtown today. It was about 100°F late this afternoon and we had not real interest in being out any more than necessary. However, we drove Cathy’s mom to a wedding in Rosslyn so we were pretty close. We went across the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge and parked just off of Constitution Avenue and then walked each to 14th street.

After getting dinner from a food truck and eating it in a pretty, little patio garden next to the African American Museum, we found our viewing spot for the show. I won’t say I remember it like it was yesterday but I definitely remember watching and being excited by the Apollo 11 moon launch and landing. For the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, a Saturn V rocket image was projected onto the side of the Washington Monument, starting at about 9:00 PM.

Then at 9:30, a show began, where they “constructed” the rocket on the launch pad and then it took off. We watched the stages separate and then the command and service modules, with the LEM attached, headed off to the moon, carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. It was very hot and of course there were lots of people. Nevertheless, we were absolutely glad we went and really enjoyed the show.

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Salt and Pepper Shakers

Salt and Pepper Shakers

Salt and Pepper Shakers

In going through things at Cathy’s mom’s house, there was a box of salt and pepper shakers. Unless you collect them, salt and pepper shakers are the sort of things you only need a few of but which you often end up with lots of. They aren’t expensive and they don’t take up a lot of space. And occasionally they are decorative and interesting on their own. These are kind of nice and we assume they are from Thailand, but don’t really know anything about them beyond that. They are quite small and not really very practical, but again, they don’t take up a lot of space.

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Quartz Arrowhead

Quartz Arrowhead

Quartz Arrowhead

One of my great uncles had a small collection of sharks teeth that somehow managed to find its way into our household. I’ve posted a photo of a sharks tooth from that collection in the past. This quartz arrowhead was in the same box. I don’t know where it was found although my guess would be North Carolina. I don’t even know for sure that it was found by him, but I assume it was. It’s a beautiful little thing. I’ve never really tried my hand at knapping stone but I would guess that quartz is not the easiest material to shape. If it’s all you have, however, I guess you’d learn and obviously someone did.

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Little Things

Little Things

Little Things

Dorothy spent much of the day organizing her things. It’s been a few years since all her things were in one place and she’s taking the opportunity to go through everything and decide what she can get rid of. When I got home today and needed something to photograph she suggested I could take some pictures in her room. Out of the two dozen or so that I took, this one is my favorite. It’s a little shell with an even smaller figurine in it, a mouse (I think), and a metal box with enamel, all sitting on a small Afghan carpet square that she’s using as a table cover.

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White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

We were in the dining room finishing up dinner this evening. Dorothy has gotten home and I fixed Thai curry for her (and all of us). Dorothy noticed this deer walking across the back yard and I grabbed my camera. I figured that when I opened the back door she would run off but she only seemed mildly interested in my presence. At first she was behind a big bush but she wondered out and I was able to get a few pictures. Then she sauntered back across the lawn and into the neighbor’s yard.

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270,000 Miles

270,000 Miles

270,000 Miles

Years ago we bought a Dodge Grand Caravan from our mechanic. He had bought it from a couple that we happen to know when they decided not to pay for a new transmission. Eddie put in a new transmission and then sold the van to us. At the time it had about 115,000 miles. As you can see, it now has 270,000 isn’t bad on that second transmission. That’s not to say we haven’t put more into it, of course. In fact, it’s getting pretty near the time when it’s casting too much to keep going. Pretty son we’ll need to replace it. But I’m happy t have reached this “milestone.”

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Beaver Attacks Woman

Beaver Attacks Woman

Beaver Attacks Woman

We spent most of the day on the road today, driving up to Massachusetts to visit Dorothy for the weekend and see her senior art exhibit tomorrow evening. It was four of us, Cathy, me, and our two moms (Dorothy’s grandmas). We didn’t have traffic problems to speak of until we got onto Interstate 95 around Boston. Then it took us two hours to go 25 miles. We met up with Dorothy and went to the art building where the final preparations are under way. I’ll post a picture of Dorothy’s art tomorrow. Today, here’s Dorothy pointing out an article about a woman being attacked by a beaver.

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Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley

The lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is starting to bloom. This is a great, little ground cover once it gets itself established. That can take a little while and they aren’t cheap when you buy them from the garden center a few pips at a time. They also have a tendency to “migrate” in the garden. In our back yard they are around the two smaller maple trees that we still have. Over the time we’ve been here they have expanded and died out in the central part of the bed. I wish you could make it “turn around” and head in the other direction but short of digging it up and physically turning it around, that’s not really possible.

The flowers don’t last very long but while they are blooming they are really pretty. Note that all parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cardiac glycosides, so don’t try to use them as a salad green. I don’t think that’s something I’d have thought to try anyway.

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Tulipa acuminata

Tulipa acuminata

Tulipa acuminata

The fireflame tulips (Tulipa acuminata) are coming into bloom. These interesting tulips are listed as species but they are not actually known in the wild and are probably some very old hybrid whose origin is lost in the mists of time. Either way, they are quite beautiful, with the pointed petals. They generally have mostly red petals with yellow towards the base but this variety, from McLure and Zimmerman, are almost entirely yellow with a little green running down the spine of the petals. Every year I wonder if they will come up and so far, they’ve not let me down.

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My Friend Jack

Colorado Spruce Stump

Colorado Spruce Stump

Have you met my friend, Jack? That’s him in this photo, in the yellow. He’s a stouthearted lad with a lot of strength. Getting this stump out of the ground was not going to be easy, no matter what. Cathy said I should pay someone to do it and maybe she was right. I had dug all around it a few weeks ago and cut the major roots a little way from the trunk. In years past I demonstrated simple machines to second graders, showing them the brilliance of levers and pulleys. It would have been silly of me to try to get this stump out using brute strength (to say nothing of the fact that I don’t have anything like enough brute strength for the job).

On Saturday I went back to work on it, working smarter and not harder. I dug a hole under the largest root and put my hydraulic jack under it. With various pieces of stump under the jack, I was able to work that end up. Then I started moving around. This evening I got the last side up and sawed the last of the roots that was holding it down. The whole thing is pretty heavy but I was able to get it up on its side. I couldn’t have done it without my good friend, Jack.

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Opera Glasses

Opera Glasses

Opera Glasses

I don’t know for sure but I think these old opera glasses belonged to my Uncle Ralph and his wife, Aunt Florence. Technically my great uncle and aunt, because he was my grandfather’s brother. Assuming that’s where they came from, I have to assume also that they went to the theatre from time to time. I can’t say that I knew them well. They lived in New Jersey and he died when I was only ten years old. He grew up in the west, having been born in what is now a ghost town in a mining area of Nevada. After earning an undergraduate degree in Utah, he went to St Johns College in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar where he earned a B.A. degree and a year later a B.Sc. degree.

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Rockville Cemetery

Rockville Cemetery

Rockville Cemetery

I stopped at Rockville Cemetery on the way home today. With the weather turning warmer (relatively) and the sun out, it’s very tempting to be outdoors as much as possible. My job, of course, keeps me inside most of the time and it’s been fairly busy lately, with lots of revisions and bug fixes. That’s meant that I haven’t been out during the day too often. With the time change it’s light later in the day and that gives me more of a chance to get out after work.

Rockville Cemetery, on Old Baltimore Road, is a nice, relatively quiet place. The eponym of my high school alma mater is buried there. The graves of Walter Johnson and his wife Hazel are in a very shady spot under a pair of mature spruce trees. Generally it’s hard to get a good picture of them because it’s so shady but when I was there today the sun was slanting under the trees’ lower branches and lighting up the grave markers. This photo is from another part of the cemetery, though. I really love big, old, white oaks (Quercus alba) and this is a nice specimen.

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Embroidered Robe

Embroidered Robe

Embroidered Robe

On Saturday we stopped at the storage locker and brought some things home to go through. That included a clothes rack and one of the items on that rack was a large, hooded robe all covered with embroidery. This photo is a part of that embroidery. Neither Cathy nor her mom know where it’s from but probably Cathy’s dad bought it somewhere. It’s in pretty new condition but it’s too long for either Cathy or her mom to wear (and not really their style, in any case). The embroidery is pretty, with flowers and plants in orange, yellow, and pale green.

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Old Phone

Old Telephone

Old Telephone

I’m not going to pretend that most of my followers have never seen one of these before, because it hasn’t actually been that long since there were rotary phones in every house. In the 1960s, mom took Ralph and me to the New York World’s Fair and we got to time ourselves dialing our home phone number on both a rotary dial phone and a touch tone phone. Needless to say, the difference was pretty significant. I remember how you hated having to dial numbers with a lot of 9s or 0s in them. We also talked to each other from different booths on a video phone. That took a little longer to pan out, but now, that’s here, as well. The phone pictured here is probably from the 1950s or possibly the 40s. On the other hand, I suspect it still works.

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Camel Pendant

Camel Pendant

Camel Pendant

There was a lot of stuff in Cathy’s mom’s house, including a surprising number of things that Cathy had never seen. The jaguar skin that I posted a picture of recently was one example. This gold pendant in the shape of a camel is another. Specifically, this is a dromedary, the one-humped camel (Camelus dromedarius), currently existing only as a domestic or feral animal, having been first domesticated in Somalia or the Arabian Peninsula about 4,000 years ago. There are two species of two-humped camels, the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) and the wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus), which until recently was assumed to have descended from feral domesticated Bactrian camels. Genetic studies have shown it to be a separate species.

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Dorothy

Dorothy

Dorothy

Dorothy drove down for spring break with five of her friends, arriving around 11:00 last night. Today we drove up to Pennsylvania for the day. When this trip was planned they talked about camping but as the date approached it was clear that wasn’t going to be realistic. When we got there, there was about six inches of snow on the ground. We were able to get a fire going and cleared off the log benches so we could sit around it. We took a few short walks but mostly stayed close. It was cool but the sky was clear and there was no wind to speak of so it was very pleasant. Dorothy set out a beach chair and did some reading. This isn’t the stereotypical spring break but everyone seemed to have a good time.

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Waltham Crescent Street Watch

Waltham Crescent Street Watch

Waltham Crescent Street Watch

We got this watch out of the safe deposit box recently to show Cathy’s cousin and his wife. It belonged to Cathy’s grandfather, Benje’s great grandfather. It was made by the Waltham Watch Company and is a Model 1892. This is the second version of the model, with the serial number next to the barrel bridge. It’s not in perfect condition but it’s still very nice and we keep it in the safe as much to keep it from being knocked around as anything else. I believe this watch was manufactured in or around 1896, based on the serial number. Because it was made as early as that, when D. B. was only 12 years old, it may have belonged to his father before him or of course he could have bought it used.

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American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

I took a few pictures as I walked across campus to a meeting early this afternoon and then a few more on the way back. On the way over I saw a flock of native sparrows bopping around in the underbrush and took a few pictures but really they were too far away to get anything worth posting. I also took some pictures of the ripples on the stream that flows through the property. On the way back I looked for the sparrows but they seem to have moved on. There were, however, a few American robins (Turdus migratorius) pulling worms out of the grass. Although they are migratory, we have them year round here, with those that migrate from New England and Canada only making it this far south for the winter.

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A Little Light Snow

A Little Light Snow

A Little Light Snow

There was snow in the forecast for this afternoon and this evening and we got it. Someone had said that we’d be getting two feet of snow, but nothing approaching that was ever in any official forecast that I saw. We got somewhere under a half inch and that only on grassy areas. The roadways we were on never had any accumulation. It’s also supposed to be colder this week, with temperatures in the mid 20s or even down into the teens one or two nights this week. The forecasters on the radio are breathlessly telling us about the “bitter cold“ weather we can expect. I’m sorry but I can’t get too exercised about temperatures around 20°F. I wouldn’t describe that as warm, of course. It’s cold, but definitely not “bitter cold.“ I’m happy with anything below zero being described as bitter. I might even grant “bitter“ status to single digit temperatures. But not low to mid twenties. Sorry.

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House Closing

House Closing

House Closing

It’s hard to believe the day has finally arrived. Well, actually it hasn’t. The day is tomorrow but I went over to my mother-in-law’s house today to get the very last thing out (a dehumidifier from the basement) and to take one last set of pictures. I could always stop out front and take pictures but it won’t be the same. As of noon tomorrow this house will belong to new owners. We don’t know a lot about them but they sound like a nice family and they seem really excited to be moving into this house. I certainly served Cathy’s family well and was a good home for 50 years. But time marches on and things change. We’re glad it’s going to a young family and we wish them every happiness. While change can be hard, and getting to this day has been a struggle, this particular change is a blessed relief.

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That Can’t Be Right

Flat Tire

Flat Tire

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I met some friends from work at Uncle Julio’s for happy hour. It hadn’t been a particularly happy day and I decided I would benefit from socializing as opposed to coming home and reading or more likely dwelling on my frustrations. Shortly after everyone got there my phone rang. It was Cathy saying she had a flat tire. She ended up taking an Uber to where she was going and I picked her up from there a little later.

We went to work together today and I attached a pump to the flat tire to see if it would hold air at all. Almost immediately I notice the head of a screw in the treads and figured it wasn’t worth the effort. It wasn’t going to hold air. Around lunchtime I went over to her building and put on the spare. I would normally joke that the tire was only flat on the bottom but as you can see, it held its shape pretty well. This was taken with the tire in the back of the van. I was happy to find that the spare had air.

Just one of those things.

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Rio Pond

Rio Pond

Rio Pond

I’m not really a big Happy Hour celebrant and I don’t do a lot with people from work outside of work hours. Nevertheless, I went out with eight others from work today and enjoyed myself. It had been a particularly rough day, with a problem on a system I’m developing that I could not figure out. It made no sense and nothing I did seemed to make any difference. Finally I gave up and figured I’d have better success looking at it again in the morning. Then I went out and took some pictures, including this one, before meeting my friends in Uncle Julio’s for an hour or so. I’m pretty pleased with this picture, showing the pond at the Rio as well as Copper Canyon Grill and various other buildings behind it.

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Frowny Face

Frowny Face

Frowny Face

This is part of the pattern on a jaguar skin that we found in my in-laws’ basement. It was in a barrel that had been sealed and managed to survive in reasonable condition. We figure that it’s been there since the mid 1960s and have no idea how long before that it was actually brought here. Cathy’s grandmother lived in Peru for many years and brought quite a few animals back as well as some furs. Among other things, she had a pet ocelot, a coatimundi, and a vicuña as well as many birds. The Coati ended up in the National Zoo, I believe. We have the skin from Perla, her pet vicu&#xn1;a. Obviously a jaguar is a whole other matter and as best we know, she never had one as a pet. I certainly isn’t something we expected to find and we’re not sure what to do with it. Since it was brought here, quite a few laws have been enacted prohibiting or limiting sale of such items. Probably most significant is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which was passed in 1973. It is “an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.” It also limits the sale of animal parts owned prior to implementation. Not that we want to sell this and it’s not really in top condition, in any case. As you can see from this picture, trade in furs of endangered species makes jaguars sad.

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Storage Locker

Storage Locker

Storage Locker

We have two storage lockers with things from Cathy’s mom’s house. This is the first of the two and it’s a bit disorganized. That being said, there’s a lot of stuff in there and organizing it would be a pretty big job, probably an all day job. At one point I pulled a bunch of stuff out into the hallway and put together two sets of shelves along the right hand wall. That helped because there are things that can’t really be stacked on top of and the shelf space is much more efficient for those things. That’s not to say that everything that should be on the shelves go move, of course. The boxes in the middle of this photo have books (towards the bottom) and china and other kitchen and dining ware (towards the top). There are also a few slides in boxes through the ten by ten foot room. You can see some of them in the plastic bins and also the Kodak carousels against the back wall.

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50 Watt LED

50 Watt LED

50 Watt LED

I mentioned recently that I’m planning to attempt to retrofit a Kodak Carousel slide projector into a slide digitizer. I’ve begun to make purchases towards that end. I already have a few projectors. The most complicated parts, which are anything to do with electronics, will be replacing the light source. The 300 watt halogen bulb is very bright and very hot. LEDs generate some heat, as well, but not as much. This is the light source I have picked. It’s 50 watts and should give me a nice, even illumination. I’ll put some pearled glass between it and the slide, to further even things out. I also bought a heat sink with an attached fan and a driver for the light that runs on household current.

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Snow

Snow

Snow

The forecast was for snow and freezing rain overnight and the local school systems had already cancelled classes for today as early as yesterday evening. Nothing was coming down when we went to bed, just after midnight. When I got up this morning there was maybe as much as half an inch on the ground. I took a few pictures then out the front door. A little later, just before 9:00 AM, I took more pictures out the back door, including this one. By that point there was maybe a little more than two inches on the ground. By the time I’m actually posting this, about 2:00 PM, the snow has stopped falling and there is about five inches. I’m fortunate in that I can work from home without any trouble. I’d much rather take a day off and go for a walk in the snow, but they like me to work for my pay, so I work.

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Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood

This fairly large chunk of petrified wood was used for many years as a door stop at my grandparents house in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and I can still see it there. When we cleaned out their house in the early 1980s, my mom took it and when we cleaned out her house last year, I did. For now, it’s on a shelf in our upstairs office, which is mostly a storage room for various things at present. We’ve slowly but surely (well, slowly, anyway) going through things and reducing the amount of stuff and this room is in pretty bad shape. If I can get my slide digitizer built and working, perhaps I can eliminate a significant amount of stuff in that room, which has all my photographs from when I bought my first camera in 1979 or so to when I switched to digital in 2003. There are also notebooks of slides from my grandfather, various boxes of negatives, and miscellaneous other items to be scanned. It isn’t going to be finished anytime soon.

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Water

Water

Water

I really enjoy being around water. I especially like moving water but a still pond can also be wonderful. Moving water, though, has so much to offer. There is the texture of the surface, which is moving and yet the patterns are nearly still, frozen in shape by the rocks or logs over which it moves. There are also colors, which are sometimes quite subtle, that dance in the slight shifts of the water’s surface. And of course, there are the sounds. I love the sound of running water, which can say “cool and calm” when the stream is small, like this one, but can roar with power and fury when a larger stream or river drops over an edge. This is the small stream that passes my office building and although its bed has been altered to fit the development, the water and its movement is undiminished.

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Ice On My Car Window

The View Through Ice On My Car's Window

The View Through Ice On My Car’s Window

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, it rained pretty much all day yesterday after there was freezing rain the night before. Overnight the water on my car’s windows formed quite large ice crystals. They were hard to get a good picture of but I tried, anyway. The problems is the lack of contrast in the crystals. Thus picture doesn’t actually show much detail in the ice but I like the way the wet ice crystals make the view beyond the window into a somewhat abstract image.

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Ice

Ice

Ice

We had a bit of freezing rain overnight and the trees and bushes were covered with a thin layer of ice in the morning. The local school system had a two hour delay this morning and that meant our commute was that much easier. In spite of the ice on branches and the school delay, the roads were wet but not icy. I took this photo of ice on an Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) twig next to where I parked at work. It rained pretty much all day.

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Beech Woods and Stream

Beech Woods and Stream

Beech Woods and Stream

It was cool but nice out today but we were indoors for most of the day. In the late afternoon I really wanted to get outdoors, at least for a little,and take a picture or two. We often walk around the block but I didn’t really want to do that. There generally isn’t much to photograph, especially this time of year, unless I’m willing to walk up into peoples’ yards and possibly lie on the ground. That’s not really my style. I suggested we drive to the other end of the neighborhood, park at the park, and walk a little ways in the woods. We went down stream to where there are two bridges crossing the streams and then back up the other side. The woods are mostly American beech (Fagus grandifolia), various species of oak (Quercus species), tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), and a few maple species (Acer species). This time of year, the beeches are the most obvious because they still have leaves on them, although they are dry and pale, golden brown.

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Post Office Desk and Knicknacks