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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

Jack-in-the-pulpit

 
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

Fallingwater


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.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Spring is arriving on campus



The weeping willows come in early and are always welcome when they do.

Big 10 Basketball Tournament


Yesterday Stan and I took the subway down to the Verizon Center for the opening day of the tournament, and the two games were Nebraska against Penn State and Rutgers against Ohio State. These were the weakest teams in the conference, so attendance was sparse. Even so, it's a great atmosphere that we had the privilege of taking in from the lofty press box. Free food too.

At half time we went down to the court to thank Stan's friend who works for the conference and was responsible for our free tickets. The Big 10 Network commentators were broadcasting their analysis of the play so far.


It was fun walking around the arena because fans from all the conference teams were attending, and most were showing the colors of their favorite schools.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The fly fishing literary tradition

It's a tradition that is centuries old. Fly fishing is not normally the most efficient method of fishing, so maybe the periods of not catching fish lead to musing about the activity. Then, with the thought processes already going, when success comes it leads to other musings about why. Whatever the reasons, fly fishers write about their avocation. I can think of only two who are accomplished painters but many who are writers, and some of these writers are well known and respected literary figures.

I'm thinking about fly fishing and literature because of a book, Teaching Trout to Talk- the zen of small stream fly fishing, by Stuart Bartow, a professor of writing and literature at State University of New York. In 172 pages Bartow includes quotations from the following:

Yeats
Emerson
Melville
Rilke
Thoreau

He also quotes from William Humphrey, Rick Bass, and Richard Brautigan who all wrote fishing pieces as well as novels. Then there are Harold Blasdell, George Harvey, and Izaak Walton who are known only for their fishing writings, as far as I know. And finally, Bartow quotes from The Odyssey, The Old Testament, Dr. Suess, and a number of Asian Buddhist writers and poets.

With all those literary references, one may wonder if the author has room left to include much about actual fishing, but he does and what he has to say is honest and accurate.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Saturday's rainbow

In the late afternoon I got out of the shower and noticed rain and sunshine out the bathroom window. "Got to be a rainbow around somewhere, " I thought and went for a closer look, and sure enough there was a beautiful rainbow spanning the sky to the east. As I threw on some clothes I called out to Pam, but she was already on the deck taking photos. I took some too, but hers were better:



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Late Winter Flowers

This whole month has seemed more like March than February. It's not just the unseasonably warm days that we've had, like today and predicted for tomorrow; it's the whole look and feel of the outdoors, even on the cold days.

The crocuses have been blooming for about a week and a half, but today was the first day I've gotten out to photograph them in the yard:


I can't resist taking these pictures every year. I managed to get a shot of a bee on this group of flowers. He's on the lower left:

 
Unlike the crocuses which are wild, the last picture is one of the hellebores Pam has planted:
 
 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Warm weather subtractive gardening

The uprooted tree that took out a large bedding area two years ago gave us the opportunity to add plants in the back yard last season. Other than annuals, there hasn't been such opportunities to plant in recent years since much of the yard is full, and gardening activity has mostly been cutting back and taking out. Truthfully, we haven't done either as much as we should, and many gardeners would describe our plot as over-grown.

Yesterday and the day before, the temperatures got over 70 degrees, and I took advantage of the warmth to work in the yard. Much of the time was spent digging up ornamental grasses which have become too numerous. We like the looks of these grasses, especially as they sway in the wind during the colder months, but those same winds also messily blow the dead stalks throughout the lawn. Adding to the labor of constantly picking up those stalks is the necessity of cutting the stalks back in the early Spring to allow for the new growth to emerge.

I've become increasingly aware of how easily ornamental grasses can spread by noting their increase in the wooded parkland across the street. Those plants almost certainly spread from ours, but upkeep of them I don't consider my responsibility. Although the woodland plants seem to do alright on their own, during the Spring growth I wouldn't be satisfied with the appearance of those which have spread in our yard, so they have added to the maintenance burden.


The poor dwarf spruce tree on the left of the picture above has had much of its foliage die off because of crowding-out by ornamental grasses that spread into that area. I dug out most of them in hopes of giving the tree opportunity to recover. Others, I simply cut back to reduce the work I'll have later when I'll cut them all.

We had some very cold days earlier this Winter. but the recent warming has fooled some plants and animals into thinking Spring is here. Some of the grasses I cut or removed had new growth on them which I normally wouldn't see in early February, and Pam and I have both seen forsythia blooming. Some of the Canada geese in the park seem to be pairing off in preparation for mating season, and I think that is earlier than usual. Humans, however, shouldn't be fooled because there could be cold and snow ahead since we're just half-way through Winter. Chances, are, however, that I'll still have time for more subtractive gardening before Spring when the lure of fishing distracts me from work in the yard.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Women's Basketball

For a number of years I've been saying that I really should attend a Maryland Women's game to support what is always one of the best teams in the country. This year I've finally made it to two games so far. The first was against Connecticut which has a winning streak of about 90 straight games. I figured we'd probably lose, but I knew it would be a great experience to be there if our team managed to break that winning streak. We lost, but I'm glad I went. It's our only loss at this point.

On Thursday along with Stan and two other guys I went to the Michigan game.

 
The plan was to go attend the women's game which began at 6 while Stan taped the Men's away game which began at 7. After the Maryland Women's win, we picked up a pizza and went to Stan's house to watch the Men's game which had already ended. Since Stan fast-forwarded through the commercials and time-outs, it only took about an hour to watch the whole game; the whole game up to 53 seconds, that is, because that's when the screen went blank. Uncharacteristically, Stan had screwed up setting the timer. Up to then all four of us had been good about not checking our smart phones to see what the final score was, but we certainly immediately went to them at that point. Maryland was ahead by about 3 or 4 points when the image died, and with that lead with that little time left the team ahead would win the majority of times. But certainly not every time, so we had a few seconds anxiety before finding out the men also won.