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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Caught a nice bass and hooked a snakehead

Fished yesterday evening with Capt Mike and Col. Ski at Mattawoman Creek off the Potomac River.
Although the water contains some excellent bass, Ski really wanted to catch a snakehead which have become for many a desirable game fish. In previous trips with Capt Mike he had hooked a few and landed one. He wasn't having much luck on this trip, but I caught two largemouth bass and hooked and lost a snakehead. Now I understand the appeal of snakehead fishing because the drama of the hit and the excitement of watching the fish leap was memorable.
Fortunately, Ski eventually hooked and landed a snakehead. 
Below is the larger of the two bass I caught.
We got rained on for about twenty minutes shortly after this picture was taken. Then he cleared up, but I drove through a violent thunderstorm for much of the way home.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

On recent walks

This is turning out to be the summer of taking photos of the pond. Here are two more from the past week.

This next one shows a sky similar to one I shot a few weeks ago.

A fishing lesson and an unusual drive home

The fishing lesson was from the charter captain, Capt. Pete, on a trip I took with him and my friend Col. Ski last Friday. There is a basic fishing technique called jigging which I've never felt I was doing right. One reason that I never learned it properly is that the situation comes up with me rarely. There were times Friday, however, when there were masses of rockfish right under the boat, a situation that clearly calls for jigging a lure straight down. Capt. Pete saw that I was allowing too much slack in the line which didn't allow me to detect a strike, and once I got the hang of that I started catching more fish. We caught a lot of fish that day, but they were all just below minimum size. Still, it was a good day.

On the way home from the marina on the South River, I drove into maybe the biggest downpour of my life. Many drivers along Route 50 pulled over to the side of the road because the visibility was so poor. Twice, I pulled over, but I decided I felt safer driving along at 20 mph rather than sitting along the side of the road. Just before the Capitol Beltway, however, I saw blue sky ahead, and when I reached the Beltway it was completely dry. It was dry as home as well. The next day the newspaper described that areas of DC flooded in the heavy rain, so the stormed apparently passed to the south of our home.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Queen Anne's Lace, Not Yarrow

Recently in our yard I mistakenly identified yarrow as Queen Anne's Lace, so when I saw similar plants in the park I wasn't sure which they were. Last night Pam went with me, and after looking closely at the plants she pronounced them as Queen Anne's Lace.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The pond on another summer evening

Last night from the same spot as a week before, on June 25. Nature's light always paints a different picture.

Friday, June 30, 2017

This week

Tuesday I went with my friend Kurt to the Food and Drug Administration building nearby in White Oak where our mutual friend Donovan has created a farmer's market for his fellow employees. Donovan took us on a tour of the facility where I took this picture:

Thursday I fished the Gunpowder River north of Baltimore. The river was low and clear which made fishing tough, but I was glad I went:

Today Stan and I took our regular Friday morning walk, this time along the Paint Branch Creek where I saw this log which spanned the stream. His son's dog, Copley, was with us, and Copley casually trotted across while I proceeded carefully. Stan took my picture.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The pond on a summer's evening

Winters family gathering and the completion of our travel triangle

Wednesday Pam and I drove to Gormania, West Virginia for the annual gathering of her cousins at her sister Kathy's house. The trip also completed our travel triangle since within the past month we also traveled to New York City and Bethany Beach. Pam took both pictures below.

From the top center and moving counter-clockwise are Cousin Nick, Cousin Dan's wife Sam, Cousin Dan resting his chin on his hand, Cousin Ted, me, Kathy's husband Bernie, Kathy, Kathy's granddaughter Annabel, Nick's wife Delores's foot, Ted's wife Bonnie, and Kathy's daughter Sara.

Kathy with granddaughter Nora.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Beach Week

Pam took this shot of Sean and Rebecca in the surf last week.

The above picture shows my basic beach equipment: umbrella, chair, and backpack which holds towel, sun lotion, reading matter, and keys to the beach house.

Below is the room in the beach house where we spent most the time. The table top in the foreground held our meals when we didn't go out. The table at right accommodated a 750 piece jig-saw puzzle that Pam, Rebecca, and Sean completed during the week.

On a couple of evenings, we watched a little TV in the living room. In the background are the steps to the two bed rooms upstairs.

The backyard in early June

The Park in early June

Based on what I saw on my walks the past two days, I'd say that the wildflower meadow peaked out a couple of weeks ago when I took this photo.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Another New York Weekend

We began with a visit to the September 11 Memorial in lower Manhattan on Friday, and here I am with daughter Rebecca:

The World Trade Transportation Hub, the Oculus, is a striking and controversial design which serves as a shopping mall as well as a train station. I liked it and so did Rebecca who said the light and openness contrasts with most of the city.

In addition to seeing Rebecca and Son-in-Law Sean, the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum was the highlight of the trip. Her painting of the New York skyline seems appropriate to include:
As well as a painter and feminist icon, O'Keefe was a popular model for photographers throughout her life. Here she playfully peers through a piece of cheese while sitting in a car.
The Dinner Party was a related exhibit honoring the feminine throughout pre and recorded history with each place-setting symbolizing something different, and the final setting is for Georgia O'Keefe as a symbol of women's creative expression. I failed to record the symbolism of this place-setting. I just liked the look.

Pam, Rebecca, Sean, and I walked to the nearby Brooklyn Botanical Gardens after leaving the museum. Here's the young couple:

Sunday morning I was attracted to the sunlight in the courtyard as viewed through the window screen of the Air B&B apartment we rented:

Before the trip I checked my notes on skyscrapers from the architectural history course I took a few semesters ago, and two items that I wanted to see were the lobbies of the Woolworth and Chrysler buildings. Neither were available for a thorough visit, but we were able to briefly get into both. In the Chrysler Building on Sunday, I was able to take a photo or two, and this one gives a sense of the appeal of these lobbies:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"Matewan" and Director John Sayles at AFI

Tuesday night I went to the American Film Institute theater in Silver Spring to see a screening of the 1987 movie based on attempts to unionize coal miners in West Virginia in 1920. I've long admired John Sayles who wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. His novel Union City I read and own, and he's also an actor who appears in small roles in some of his films.

Sayles is on the right of the three figures in front of the screen in the above picture. He generously answered questions from the audience after the movie was over. On screen is the actor Chris Cooper who was little-known at the time. David Strathairn also appeared, but James Earl Jones was probably the biggest name in the cast.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

My walks on Friday and Saturday

The individuality of trees is more obvious in the spring and autumn than winter with the absence of leaves and summer when the trees in the woods dissolve into a single green mass. Pam's experience in bee-keeping made me aware of the importance of the black locust trees for the mid-Atlantic area because the honey bees rely on them for early season nectar. I also like the looks of the black locust spring blooms, and decided to photograph one of these trees Friday.

Great-blue herons are frequent visitors to the pond. Most of them don't like people getting too close, so I tried to be careful today when I took this picture.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Peace and Friendship Garden at the University of Maryland

Still my favorite on a campus with many nice gardens.

Went fishing despite missing wading boots

Either I left them at the parking lot at the Daniels section of the Patapsco last October or they're somewhere here in the house. Both possibilities seem unlikely since I've searched the house and my habit is to throw the boots in the trunk when I remove my waders at the end of the fishing trip. I can't think of any other scenario.

Fortunately, I had a cheap pair that barely showed any use, and they proved serviceable for my trip on Tuesday. Coincidentally, I went to the same place on the Patapsco that I did at the end of last season when I last used the missing boots. No trout although the section was supposedly recently stocked, but the bluegills were willing. A nice spring day although windy. Water level at Hollofield was 1.65.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Backyard Wildflowers


Buttercups are all over the lawn, front and back. While their presence is an indication that our lawn is not a perfect, uniform spread of grass, I prefer the interest and beauty of imperfections like these.
It's also a good year for Star-of -Bethlehem.
When mowing I instinctively refrained from cutting down a group of weedy-looking plants behind the swing and was later rewarded by the blooms of this plant which Pam thought was called fleabane:
I now know that the proper name for fleabane is erigeron.

Monday, April 24, 2017


That's certainly a more colorful name for this woodland plant than arisaema triphyllum. I just read that it is poisonous and that the Indians used the poison against their enemies, but properly prepared they also used it as a food and medicine.

National Building Museum

For some time my old friend Larry has suggested that I visit this museum where he has been a docent since retiring as a librarian, so last Wednesday I took the Metro downtown with him. Getting off the train at the Judiciary Square stop, you see the building right in front of you as you get off the escalator. Built between 1882 and 1887, the building's brick exterior catches your eye, and I really should have gotten a picture of it.

However, I did photograph the interior atrium which they call the Great Hall and is spectacular:

The photo taken from the top floor doesn't really do the interior justice. The Great Hall is larger than a football field and appropriately has been used for many Presidential Inauguration Balls, the first for Grover Cleveland before the building was even completed.  The building was originally constructed to house the US Pension Bureau and has been used by other government departments before being restored to serve as a museum. The original architect/engineer was Montgomery Meigs who had been a general in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Hearing about one particular exhibit finally motivated me to make this visit. The exhibit showed the history of St. Elizabeth's insane asylum where my father worked for many years. I have memories of visits there when I was a child and he brought me to work with him for various reasons, and the exhibit brought back many of those memories. I also got a sampling of some of the other exhibits, enough of a sampling to make me want to return for another visit.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Claytonia virginica

More commonly known as Virginia Springbeauty, it is the pale pink flower in the above picture. Yesterday morning, which was Easter, I walked along the Paint Branch trail, and these wildflowers seemed to be present in all directions in the woods.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bamboo burn on Brantford Avenue

Tuesday afternoon I was reading and dozing when I heard repeating banging noises which I couldn't identify. Once I was satisfied the noises weren't gun shots, I quit worrying but still was curious. Soon came the sounds of sirens, and I noticed fire engines and police cars up the street. I walked up to check out the scene and discovered firemen fighting a fire in the backyard of a house which backed up to the parkland where there is a large stand of bamboo trees. Burning bamboo apparently produces the popping noises which everyone was hearing.

According to reliable reports from neighbors, the cause of the fire was arson, and the arsonist was a resident of the house where the backyard was burning. Yesterday afternoon I revisited the site from the park and took this photo of the damage:

Nobody was injured and other than the trees, which appeared to be mostly on the parkland, nothing else burned. It could have been much worse. Why would a person purposely set a fire so close to their own home? We live in crazy times.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

An almost full moon

Now that the days are getting longer, after-dinner strolls into the park are possible. I took such a walk on Sunday evening and took this picture.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

After an early Spring storm

Thundershowers, hail, and heavy winds this afternoon. Calm on the pond from a vantage point where I've taken many pictures.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Memento Mori

The title is a Latin reminder that we all die. Recently in an English Literature class, the professor presented a well-known A.E. Houseman poem as a Memento Mori poem. I memorized the poem when I was young, and here it from memory:

Loveliest of trees the cherry now
Is hung with blooms along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now of my three-score years and ten
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy Springs a score
Only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty Springs are little room,
So about the woodland I will go
To see the cherries hung with snow.

Being reminded of this poem just a month after my seventieth birthday added to my upset at turning this age. I've often said that turning another decade in age didn't bother me, possibly because I started thinking of myself as the age of my next birthday long before the actual date. If that was the trick, it didn't work this time. I've heard so many references to "our Biblical three-score years and ten" in my life that following my birthday I actually checked that the phrase really is in the Bible. Yes, it is but in context it's clearly not there as a limit or even an average in human years. I'm not religious, but sometimes religious-related beliefs stay with me in an almost superstitious fashion.

Today while walking I thought about the poem and had another thought which should have been obvious to me previously but wasn't. Very few of us, probably including the young narrator of the Houseman poem, knows when we're going to die, so we may as well just concentrate on enjoying whatever time we have on earth. Carpe diem, seize the day whether this is our last Spring or not. I think I've generally lived like that, but lately I've tended to forget.

So while I walk through the woodlands, I'm enjoying the bloom on the cherry trees in the park. The other day I stopped and photographed one:

Friday, March 24, 2017


Tuesday Pam and I drove up into Pennsylvania to see architect Frank Lloyd Wright's famous house that he designed for the Kaufman family of Pittsburg. The photo above is the shot which most tourists take and has become the standard representation.

The Kaufman family owned the mountain property and hired Wright to build them a
vacation home next to a stream. The stream, Bear Run, looked to me like a classic eastern trout stream as it tumbles down the hillside. Rather than blindly following his client's wishes, the architect proposed cantilevering the house over the water.

Looking downstream, this photo shows the stream as it passes under the house just before the water falls:

Although I have read about the house and seen the standard pictures, it really fits into the classification of things you have to see in person to appreciate. I recently took three semesters of the history of architecture, and more attention was paid to Frank Lloyd Wright than any other person. After visiting Fallingwater I have greater appreciation of his genius.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lefty Kreh- An American Hero

Well, he's a hero to me, at least. Lefty is probably the most well known fly fisherman in the world through his books, instructional videos, and TV appearances. Since he was born and has most of his life here in Maryland, I've been lucky to have met him many times, and the latest time was Saturday on Kent Island.

Saturday was the annual event originally called "TieFest" but recently renamed "Lefty Kreh's TieFest" in honor of him. Before he gave his usual fly casting instructional demonstration I had a few minutes to talk with him and ask about fishing with baseball Hall-of-Famer Ted Williams. I could have asked him about other celebrities because he's fished with many politicians, entertainers, and athletes, but I was curious about Williams who brought the same passion and intensity to fishing as he did baseball. Along with that intensity, he was known to be bombastic and opinionated, so I was curious on how well he got along with the easy-going Kreh.

Lefty said Williams was very pleasant to be with during the many fishing trips they took together. Although he's over ninety, in many ways Lefty is still a modest country boy, and I had to read into his account of his first meeting with Williams. He described how the big, strong Williams first showed off his fly casting ability and then watched Lefty cast. No one, then or now, casts a fly rod better than Lefty Kreh, so I'm guessing Williams immediately realized that he could learn from spending time with him. Williams applied fanatical dedication to anything that interested him whether it was hitting a baseball or fly casting, and he did not tolerate well anyone of lesser dedication. He probably saw in Lefty a man of similar devotion to excellence.

But his ability as a fisherman is not the only reason I describe Lefty Kreh as a hero. He was a WWII vet who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He clearly likes people and has a great sense of humor, and seems to radiate a pleasant aura. In turn, people adore him. You can see this adoration in the eyes of the crowd as people watch and listen to him explain the dos and don'ts of casting. Lefty has a way of bringing smiles to everyone's faces.

Finally, in an interview I read a few years ago he gave some of the most practical advice on marriage I've ever heard. His job may have been his passion, but writing and teaching about fishing required a lot of travel, and he described the tenderness he expressed to his wife before and during his many absences. They were married a long time, and I've also heard him describe the pain of her death a few years ago.

To Lefty I'm another familiar-looking face whose name he doesn't know, but to me he's a friend. I'm certain I'm only one of thousands who feel the same way.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Late Winter Snow

Only real snow of the season.

As Pam says, daffodils are hardy.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Trip to Southern Maryland for a sad occasion

Drove down yesterday to attend the funeral services for my friend Charlie Anderson's wife. It was one of those services that although I never actually met the deceased by the end I felt I had known her. She clearly was a remarkable woman who was successful in everything she got involved in- academics, career, politics, community affairs and, most importantly, family. The service was longer than most because so many people wanted to share their thoughts about her, but it certainly never got tedious.

The event took place in a Presbyterian church much like the church I grew up in. Although I haven't entered a Presbyterian church in about 40 years, everything was familiar. Two of the three hymns I knew well, and I remembered most of the words of the Apostle's Creed and the 23rd Psalm to recite with the rest of the congregation. Funny how things you learn when you're young stay with you.

I've gotten to know Charlie Anderson over the years from an internet message board called, for obscure reasons, the Moo Board. The common interest was fishing, but that subject plays a lesser role in current discussions than in the past. Periodically over the years, we gather together for lunch. I sat next to a member, Tom, at the church, and socialized over lunch with another, Fritz and his wife, at the reception afterwards.

Before driving home, I took the above picture outside of the restaurant where the reception was held. In the background is the Thomas Johnson Bridge over the lower Patuxent River. The church was just over the bridge on the St. Mary's County side of the river, and the reception was on Solomons Island on the Calvert County side. The weather was sunny but cold and windy.