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Sunday, April 13, 2014

"Did you have a nice time?"

As long as I've fished, the most common question one local fisherman asks another has been, "Have you done any good?"  As I was leaving the Patapsco River downstream from Daniels Friday, I passed another fisherman who was just arriving, and he asked, "Did you have a good time?"

The only other person who often asks that question after I've been fishing is my wife.  It could be that I was sullen long ago after an unsuccessful outing and responded angrily to an innocent inquiry as to whether I caught anything, and she decided asking if I had a good time was safer.

At any rate, it's a better question and yes, I done good.  Caught a nice rainbow trout on a yellow crystal bugger.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Greg in concert

He moves too fast for a slow shutter available light shot.  His band, Burning Shadows, sounded good tonight at the University of Maryland.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Insect Order Plecoptera

Commonly called stoneflies, these aquatic insects spend most of their lives underwater in what's called the nymph stage.  To undergo their metamorphosis to the adult stage, they make their way out of the water onto rocks or trees where they sprout wings.  For mating, the males make a drumming noise (the beat goes on) by pressing their abdomens against the leaf or ground or whatever they're standing on in order to attract a female.

However, sometimes they find themselves perched not on a rock or a leaf but a fisherman who is standing in a stream near the shore in search of trout.  Such was my situation on Friday on the Little Patuxent.  The momentary annoyance about having a bug crawling on my chin was offset by the realization that this stonefly hatch would be of interest to hungry trout, and sure enough I soon spotted a rising fish feeding on them. 

I've caught trout on this and other streams in early Spring in exactly these circumstances, but not this trip.  I tried three or four casts to the spot before the fish stopped rising and I had to head for the car to travel home to get ready to go out on the town with my wife.   Even though I didn't catch anything, it was worthwhile to witness again this natural cycle.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Last snow of the season?

Hope so.  Hell, it's supposed to be Spring.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A black wooly bugger

That's what I used to catch two trout on the upper Patuxent yesterday.  Started the day going downstream from Howard's Chapel Road, but got caught in the rain without my rain gear.  Walked back to the car to get the rain gear and eat lunch and decided to drive further upstream to Hipsley Mill Road.  Both fish were brown trout, one six and the other nine inches long.

Water level was 2.5 at the Unity measuring station.

The confluence of two streams

The Little Patuxent is on the left and the Middle Patuxent on the right.  I took this picture on a hike Thursday.  On my doctor's recommendation, I try to walk at least a half hour daily.  Because of bad weather I've missed some days recently, so I got in a lot of walking that day to make up for the missed days.

Monday, March 17, 2014

First fishing trip of 2014

On Saturday, Col. Andy, otherwise known as Ski, and I booked a trip with our friend Capt. Mike Starrett for some cold weather fishing on the Potomac River just downstream from the Nation's Capital.

The main catch were blue catfish:

But we also caught a few rockfish:
Here's the big guy,  Andy, pulling in the best fish of the day, a 40 pound catfish:
We got in the trip just in time because it snowed again  Sunday night.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Positive end to a frustrating basketball season

Watched Maryland end 61 years in the ACC with a win over Virginia who was ranked number five in the nation.

Before the game, some of the big names in Terp basketball history were available to sign autographs, but we didn't feel like standing in the long line.  However, I did sneak through to get a shot of Gary Williams:

I was happy for the victory and also that the students finally got an excuse to storm the court when the overtime ended because they had been waiting for a big win all season.  I didn't wait around to get a picture though, because we were eager to eat.
We're all expecting more wins like this next year.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tiefest 2014

Coming to the end of a long, hard winter, I'm looking forward to warmer weather and fishing.  One annual break from cabin fever is the local fly fishermen get-together, Tiefest.

Fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh is always a big draw.  I've watched his casting demonstrations many times but never tire of them and always learn something.

He often remarks that women are much easier to teach than men.  "I can teach a woman to cast in about a third the time it takes to teach a man," he says.  Then he adds, "As long as it's a woman I'm not married to."  At 89 years old, he's truly amazing.

 Lefty's especially eager to introduce children into the joys of fishing:

Another celebrity in the fly fishing world is Bob Clouser who invented the famous Clouser Minow:

Most artificial flies are tied not as exact imitations of natural foods but as impressionistic depictions that fool the fish because of their life-like appearance and behavior in the water.  These salt water flies depict baitfish:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I'm tired of snow pictures...

...I say as I post some more.

This main purpose of this blog has always been as a journal of what I do (and sometimes what I think), and snow has been dominant in my life for the past few months. Ironically, last year I realized that in documenting the looks of the house and yard in various seasons I was lacking in snow scenes.  In response, I made certain to get out and take some photos the next time it snowed because it may be our only snow off the winter.   Well, we had a few other minor snows that winter, and each of them was diligently recorded.
This year has been quite different.  I've lost track of the number of snows and have felt no such responsibility to photograph them since the blog no longer lacks snow scenes.  Nevertheless, snow has been what I see, so inevitably snow has been what I photograph lately.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

So much for Spring...

It has snowed off and on all day but there really wasn't any accumulation... I took a walk in the park.                     

Sunday, February 23, 2014

First Sign of Spring?

Crocuses in our yard:



 (Croci is also acceptable as the plural form.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow again

About 10-12 inches Wednesday night and then a few more last night.

Went for walk and surprised a deer in the woods.
Of course, I really didn't need to walk to the park to see deer.  A few of them have been hanging out in the side yard lately.
Not too visible in that picture, so here's a closer look at one of them:
We're supposed to get a little more snow tonight.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cold Winter

Temperature hasn't been above freezing since Monday, and most nights have been in the single digits.  Still walking in the park every day though.

In the center of the picture above, the Canada Geese are swimming in a circular area of unfrozen water.  Below is a better view of that area.  A few days ago the surface was completely frozen over, and I'm uncertain about what caused this part to open up.  It hasn't been because of any warming trend because there hasn't been one.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Golden Age of TV

Lately it seems I've noticed a number of articles using this term. From what I gather, the idea is that the success of The Sopranos has brought in a wave of evening adult dramas which like afternoon soap operas have an on-going story rather than standard series 1/2 hour and full hour plot.

We weren't getting The Sopranos when it first showed because we didn't have HBO, but we got the DVDs from the video store (remember them?) and did what is now called binge watching. I liked it very much and watch the reruns more often than I should on HBO which we now get.

We are big fans of Mad Men and look forward to every new season.  Breaking Bad, of course, was widely acclaimed by just about everyone it seems, but we didn't watch it. I caught many episodes a few week ago when the network ran them consecutively, and I understand the popularity.  I like Boardwalk Empire and think it's especially good visually, but Pam doesn't watch because of the violence. Same goes for Sons of Anarchy which I watch once in a while.  So far, I like this new series, True Detective, and Pam also watches.

I don't know whether this is TV's Golden Age or not. For me the Golden Age may have been in the late 50's and early 60's when there were a ton of Westerns. At the time, they suited me fine.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Neil Young looks back

A cliché about the 1960's is that if you remember them you weren't there.  This always struck me as not only untrue but confusing because it implies that the notorious substance use of that decade would have wrecked the memories of the participants.  Maybe so if the substance was alcohol, but the dominant drugs of the sixties were marijuana and LSD.  Like a lot of us, Neil Young discovered marijuana in the sixties, and he continued using it until recently yet remembers most everything.

His memoir is casually conversational, and at times he speaks directly to the reader in a stream-of-conscious manner.  He mentions once that the sequence of the songs on any of his albums is important to him, so I assume the sequence that he recounts his life is likewise deliberate.  It certainly isn't chronological.  It probably also isn't an oversight that he doesn't furnish an index, something I find useful in any nonfiction, but he may have decided an index might encourage picking and reading subjects at will when he wants to reader to go through the book in order.  My initial reading was slow because I sometimes put it aside to do some reading for my classes, not because it was ponderous.  Indeed, it was a fun read, and when I completed it I went back to the beginning and skimmed back through it.

Neil Young strikes me as a sincere man who is honest about his faults. When he tells about first driving from his native Canada to California with a small group of young men and women, he describes deciding with another traveler to abandon the rest of group without warning.  He doesn't express any guilt over this, but a few pages later he recounts a conversation with fellow musician Stephen Stills years later in which they discussed the concept of loyalty and the conflict with the drive to be continually moving forward.  He also admits to avoiding confrontation many times in his life.

Young's life has not been entirely one long hippie joy ride.  Since childhood, he has been beset with serious health issues, and the health issues he has had to deal with regarding two of his sons have been daunting.  By many accounts other than his own, he has faced these issues with courage and persistence and has been a loyal and loving father and husband for over thirty years.  He continually expresses love and praise for his friends and family and has very few negative things to say about anyone.

The reader hears a lot of detail about things of importance to Young:  guitars, model trains, cars, but ultimately it's the music, always there in the background when it isn't the dominant subject.  I think I'll listen to some Neil right now.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Decorating and un-decorating Christmas Trees

I like decorating Christmas trees, not just because I like the look but because it means the beginning of the holiday season.  Like last year, Lucy found her way into the annual tree photo. It seemed like all the cats enjoyed hanging out beneath the tree, more so than in the past.

Although I don't look forward to taking the tree down, I know they tend to start looking pathetic if you keep them up very far into January and this knowledge provides incentive.  This year, I decided the sadness of taking it down can be further offset by considering the un-decorating of the tree as the completion of the holiday ritual.  Just like the Olympics, we have both an opening and a closing ceremony.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holidays and Death

Shortly before Christmas I met for drinks three guys who I had once worked with.  Although I hadn't seen most of them in at least five years, we easily re-established our rapport, and laughter and banter flowed as readily as the beer we drank. 

A somber note arose as the recent death of another co-worker was discussed.  None of us knew his age, but we estimated it as late 50's or early 60's.  As the conversation continued, the others mentioned their ages which ranged from the late 40's to the mid 50's, and as they did I realized that I hadn't known their exact ages until then although I could have guessed each one fairly accurately.  Other names were mentioned of co-workers who had died because even in death they were part of the same bond. One of the guys also mentioned that he had recently lost his mother.

As we parted everyone said they had a good time, and it was suggested that we get together more often.  As I drove home, however, I reflected back and thought there was a certain sadness in the gathering.  This could be a misinterpretation, I realized, because unlike myself the others were still working and were busy, successful people who may have just been understandably tired or weighed down by their responsibilities at work and home.

The event has caused me to muse about the end of year holiday period and death, and it seems like an obvious time for people to think about mortality even though it is out of sorts with the jovial seasonal expectations.  After my brother died one mid-December, someone mentioned that a death so close to Christmas was especially difficult, but it was hard for me to think another time of year would have softened the blow.   For me, anniversaries of deaths are not necessarily significant because grief can hit anytime, sometimes long afterwards.  Yet I do think there's something about the end of year that causes many of us to remember those no longer with us.   After all, the traditional New Years song, "Auld Lang Syne", suggests recalling past times with old acquaintances, and these could be both living and dead.

That evening I reread the James Joyce story "The Dead" from The Dubliners, and I decided Joyce had reason to set the story at Christmastime:

"There are always in gatherings such as this sadder thoughts that will recur to our minds: thoughts of the past, of youth, of changes, of absent faces that we miss here to-night. Our path through life is strewn with many such sad memories: and were we to brood upon them always we could not find the heart to go on bravely with our work among the living. We have all of us living duties and living affections which claim, and rightly claim, our strenuous endeavours."

However, just a few hours after the main character speaks these words, he discovers that a song has rekindled a memory of a lost love for his wife which she cannot escape brooding upon.  As he gazes out the hotel window at the falling snow, he ponders not just the death many years before of this young man but of all of the dead both before and after.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Only the Dead Know Brooklyn

"...Duh poor guy! Say, I’ve got to laugh, at dat, when I t’ink about him! Maybe he’s found out by now dat he’ll neveh live long enough to know duh whole of Brooklyn. It’d take a guy a lifetime to know Brooklyn t’roo an’ t’roo. An’ even den, yuh wouldn’t know it all."

This weekend we made our third trip to Brooklyn in the past two years. I don't hear that accent anymore that Thomas Wolfe caught in his short story written in the 1930's that is quoted above.

My daughter Rebecca met us at Pennsylvania Station in the snow, and we walked along the Highline on the Westside of Manhattan to Chelsea to visit her husband Sean at work before having lunch in the West Village. Then the three of us took the subway to Brooklyn where my daughter and SIL live in the Crown Heights neighborhood. We stopped so that Pam and I could check into our hotel in downtown Brooklyn. The first two visits we stayed with them, but that apartment becomes a bit crowded with four adults and two cats.  It was nice and cozy, though, for hanging out Saturday afternoon watching the snow and waiting for my SIL to get off work to go out to dinner.

Below is Rebecca, Sean, and Pam in front of the Brooklyn Art Museum where we went on Sunday after brunch:
The facial features on the people in the museum exhibit are actually digital projections, so they blink and change expressions, and some of them speak.  A video would have captured this.
   Then Pam and I got on the subway back to Manhattan. At home I studied on-line maps to get a sense of the new places we saw which are just a small chunk of the big area that is Brooklyn.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The woods are a winter wonderland

Alliterative title although not completely original.



Friday, December 6, 2013

Between Poetry and Science

When outdoors I'm not inclined to quantify.  I often say about catching fish that I lose count after three, and although said jokingly it's generally true and comes from this disinclination.  Since most of my fishing is catch and release, counting and measuring fish to comply with laws is generally not an issue.  When I plan to retain my catch it's usually on someone else's boat on the Bay, and because captains are conscientious about fishing regulations they keep track of size and number of fish without depending on the anglers.

In the business world where I worked for about 40 years, I quantified in order to make and justify decisions.  Time, money, output and other variables were tracked and analyzed constantly.  Doing so was an ingrained habit for me at work, but outdoors I behave differently. If I were a scientist systematically expanding our knowledge of nature, I wouldn't have this freedom.  A book I recently read, Why Birds Sing by David Rothenberg, contains a passage which describes this difference:

"The response of nineteenth-century naturalists to bird song falls somewhere in the valley between science and poetry.  A  naturalist spends long hours paying complete attention to nature, not to conduct experiments or derive a satisfaction in certainty, but for the sheer pleasure of awareness.  To look, listen, and learn, and to come home with that kind of knowledge that is closer to acquaintance, to gain a familiarity with the world of birds, to share in their experience, not necessarily to explain it."

Between a scientist and a poet seems like a comfortable place whether the focus is birds or fish or anything else in nature.  One accumulates data to test a hypothesis, and the other obtains inspiration for his art.  Those of us in the middle are free to experience the Now.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Martin Scorsese's first movie

We stayed up late watching this last night, and it was worth going well past our normal bedtime.  I hadn't heard of it, so what I know I've learned since we saw it.

The movie began as a college project, and Scorsese continued adding and editing over about three years before it was released in 1967.  Featuring student actors, it stars Harvey Keitel who is the only one recognizable to me.  The story centers around a young Italian-American man and his friends in New York City.  The setting, the style, and many of the themes reminded me of Scorsese's Mean Streets which was the director's first movie to be widely released, but unlike the later movie, Who's that Knocking at my Door? was shot in black and white. The movie changed in content and title over the years of production but has been in its present form for some time.

As in his other movies, Scorsese selects the accompanying music carefully.  The title song is one of a number of doo-wop numbers he uses that I don't remember although many of the other songs are well-known such as "The End" by The Doors and "Shotgun" by Junior Walker.  This one I hadn't heard for 50 years, I bet, but I recognized it instantly from its opening notes:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Beat Goes On

Rhythms surround us and are within us.  Near the ocean I become very conscious of the rhythms of the tides going in and out.  On those visits I often say that I want to get in tune with those rhythms, probably from some vague sense that if the gravitational pull of the moon and sun has such dramatic effect on the ocean, then it probably can also affect my body which is mostly water.  That thinking can lead to pondering about the rhythms of the rotations of the moon around the earth and the earth around the sun, one forming our month and the other our year.  It all marks time.

Our internal rhythm comes from our hearts beating approximately 60 times a minute.  Humans can maintain rhythms somewhat faster and somewhat slower than that pulse, but if we try to keep up a beat much faster or slower it breaks down. Whales, many times larger than a human, can maintain a rhythm as slow as every two minutes as they sing while the sounds of small insects like crickets and cicadas display very speedy, complex rhythms. And there is another, much slower rhythm associated with some cicadas in North America: the 17 year cycle of their emergence from the longest gestation period of any animal.

Author David Rothenberg has written a trilogy of books concerning animal noises which he considers from a musical stand point.  His book on insects, Bug Music, How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise, I read and reread because of its emphasis on rhythm.  He believes early man learned rhythm by listening to the insects of the forest sing at night.  You could consider this is as the origin of music if you view music as essentially rhythm, as did the poet Ezra Pound who Rothenberg quotes:  "Music is pure rhythm, pure rhythm and nothing else, for the variations in pitches is the variation of rhythms of the individual notes, and harmony is nothing but the blending of these individual rhythms."  Rothenberg comments, "This far-reaching poet got the insight that frequency is also rhythm, the point at which a vibration eases from steady tone to rapid beat is a key moment in the perception of the highest value of sound."

What is merely insect noise to many people is music to Rothenberg, "Bug music is the most ancient and the most primal music, the emergence of great rhythmic complexity from the minds of creatures who have no conception whatsoever what they are in the midst of.  Dance, song, evolution, transformation-really, do you need to know any of it to grasp the power of the beat?  Of course not."

The power of the beat.  Reading Rothenberg's book drove me to pull from my book shelf Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart's Drumming at the Edge of Magic, a Journey into the Spirit of Percussion.  His experiences of falling into a groove with his fellow musicians from the power of the beat, he came to understand as an example of entrainment, the inevitability of similar rhythms in close proximity to  synchronize.  The Law of Entrainment was first recognized in 1665 by the Dutch scientist Christian Huygens who noticed when two clocks were place next to each other they would soon begin ticking in perfect synchrony.  Both Hart and Rothenberg believe that entrainment has wide implications, that humans entrain with each other and the surrounding rhythms of the natural world.

I've come to believe that this is a way to look at our lives, that we are a part of these various pulses and vibrations.  Somehow, I feel like this awareness of the importance of rhythms brings us into closer harmony with our  bodies and our surroundings, closer to the universal beat.  And the beat goes on.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Two parks in Autumn

There was construction in much of Brookside Gardens today, but the other sections of the park looked just fine.

I think I photographed the same scenes in MLK park a previous autumn.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Moo Cup 2013

Missed the fishing this year but not the food and drink afterwards.  For the third consecutive year, Tom, second from the right, caught the biggest fish thus retaining the coveted trophy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Back to the beach

Spent the weekend with friends Margaret and George.  Not much activity this time of year in downtown Bethany Beach even on a Saturday night.


In the rain we drove down to Bishopsville, Maryland, near Ocean City for an excellent dinner.  Sunday was a beautiful day to walk on the beach.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fishing with Capt. Dave on Saturday

It was my fourth trip down to Dave's house on the Rivah and, as usual, I had a good time. He was serving as mate on Capt. Billy's "Liquid Assets" so there were seven of us fishing, and for six hours I don't think there was a time when someone didn't have a fish on his line. They were mostly blues but there were rockfish too. Although there were small craft warnings for the Chesapeake that day, the boat weathered the conditions well.

Three of the other anglers I hadn't fished with before, but like Dave's other friends they were easy to get along with. Two of them were UVA sports fans, and since Maryland and Virginia were playing that day there was the usual good natured trash-talking aimed at me. I listened to the end of the game on the radio while driving home.

Sunday I smoked the bluefish:

Friday, October 4, 2013

Back to Upper Monocacy

Had a good day on my second trip to the stretch of river east of Thurmont.  Caught some small bass and large fallfish (one of them was probably the largest I've ever caught) and many bream.  Hooked a very large smallmouth bass who threw the hook on his third jump.  I frequently laugh aloud when a fish jumps, and I did so each time for this one.  He was only about eight feet away when he got free, so it was almost as if I landed him.  Used a B&B fly for all these.  Switched to a bullet-head darter and hooked another smallie who jumped once and then got off.  Put on a bead head marabou streamer and got more bream and fallfish.

Unseasonably warm.  Water levels 1.71 at Bridgeport ad 1.26 at Frederick.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

My stage debut

I'm taking a course in the English department which is described as rehearsed table reads of British plays.  After the rehearsals, the plays are publically performed on stage pretty much like a standard play except the actors can read from their scripts.  They aren't expected to memorize their lines, and sets and props are minimal.

I've never acted in my life, but I took on a role in a 2007 play by Nicholas Wright titled The Reporter which we put on yesterday.  Mine wasn't a starring role, but it was significant- I played the reporter's boss, a BCC executive.  The action is in the 1960's, and since men's clothing doesn't change very much my costume was business wear from my closet.

Pam was in the audience and said she enjoyed it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Early Autumn in the Park

We get regular visits from Green Herons.  The days remaining for the water lilies are few.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Last Potomac smallmouth trip of season (?)

Probably.  Air and water temperatures were still acceptable when I went to the Mouth of the Monocacy on Friday but won't continue to be for much longer.  Grasses still there.  Fishing was subpar with no bass and mostly smallish bream.  Water levels 1.51 at Point of Rocks and 2.8 at Little Falls.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Good weekend for Maryland sports. Bad one for DC.

Watched University of Maryland Football team beat West Virginia yesterday in the rain at the Ravens' stadium in Baltimore.  First time at the M & T Bank stadium and was impressed.  Ravens won today while the Redskins lost, and I'm more of a Ravens fan.  Big Nats fan and they lost.  Their hopes of making the play-offs are becoming dimmer.  Orioles also lost but I have less emotional ties to them, so it doesn't diminish much the state's sports weekend for me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm out of practice at trout fishing

I was surrounded by rising fish today on the Gunpowder River, but I didn't succeed in catching any.  Tried a lot of flies:  dry caddis flies and emergers, mayflies, midges, etc.  Haven't done any stream fishing for trout in over a year, so I should take my lack of success as incentive to go more often.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

At the Park again

Saw another egret, or the same one returned.

Here he's in stalking mode:

Couldn't resist another wildflower shot: