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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.

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:


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.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Winter ground cover

A patch of green like this in the winter woods in Patuxent State Park catches the eye.

I call it ground cover, but actually I have no idea how big these plants get.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Music of the Mind

I recently finished the most provocative book I've read in years, Music of the Mind by Darryl Reanney. The scope is wide with the major points following in logical sequence, and any attempts by me to summarize them wouldn't do them justice. Instead, I'll describe some of the thoughts which particularly resonated with me. (The author would find my use of the word "resonated" as notable.)

Previously (12/6/13, and 10/22/14), I have written of my discomfort with the split I often note between the sciences and the humanities, and beginning with the introduction Music of the Mind holds that this divide is both unnecessary and damaging, that science and the humanities are not just consistent but are interrelated. Throughout the book quotations and foot-noted references appear from literary and religious as well as scientific writings.

Music and especially rhythm has always been of interest to me, and in recent years I have learned and written about the importance of rhythm in the universe in everything from the heart beats of humans and other animals to the orbits of planets. (11/9/13 and 8/26/14) Reanney writes on page 90, "Music is the most alchemic force of all, for the resonances it sets up can vibrate in tune with the inner logic of the universe. This is because the universe is rhythmic at root..."

The beginnings of this universe of ours are described in the early pages of Music of the Mind as the author explains the interconnection of all of us to everything else over the past 15 billion years since the Big Bang. He observes that the carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen of our bodies owe their creation to this 15 billion year old event so that "we are the children of the stars." Astronaut Edgar Mitchell who died a year ago has spoken of this realization while in space:
In a story he retold through the years, Mitchell described a moment during the return trip to Earth, as he gazed out the window of the spacecraft and saw the sun, moon, Earth and stars.
“Suddenly I realized that the molecules of my body and the molecules of the spacecraft and the molecules in the body of my partners were prototyped and manufactured in some ancient generation of stars,” he said in an interview for “In the Shadow of the Moon,” a 2007 documentary.
“And that was an overwhelming sense of oneness, of connectedness. It wasn’t them and us, it was, ‘That’s me. That’s all of it. It’s one thing.’ And it was accompanied by an ecstasy, a sense of -- ‘Oh my god, wow, yes’ -- an insight, an epiphany.”
Mystics from different religions and people with near death experiences often speak of this "oneness" in similar words as astronaut Mitchell. Reanney doesn't use the word pantheism, that God resides in everything, but that concept could be an interpretation. The author doesn't enter the realm of religion directly, and his references to God are few and often are quotes by others. Instead, he states that all atoms in the universe contain a "memory" that they were all together in the brightness preceding the Big Bang and desire to be reunited; that this desire is what we call gravity.
Music of the Mind's explanation of human consciousness and thoughts are complex, and although the author develops these explanations patiently, as I mentioned earlier, I would not attempt to summarize them here. This section of the book did, however, provide me with some insight as to why human communication is so difficult, a subject that I often pondered during my working years. Once I was one of the principle managers of a business and reported to the owner. Two or more times a week he would call me into his office to discuss general concepts he wanted me to put into practice in my organization. These concepts often sounded simple and obvious which would cause me to wonder why we were going over the same ground on multiple meetings. Then suddenly through a change in phrasing, or more likely an experience, I would finally grasp the full meaning of what he had been attempting to make me understand.
Darryl Reanney would describe this breakthrough as "knowing", a collapse of " the wave function of the relevant quantum ripple yielding a 'sharp-edged thing'-a word or a particle." No, I'm not going to try to explain what I just wrote even though I could follow it as I read along through Music of the Mind. As I read I often argued with specific points or phrasing and, although I doubt the author is right about everything he says, I found it stimulating reading. It will stay with me for a long time.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Saturday, January 7, 2017

First snow of the year

An inch or two. The geese adjust.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Thinking ahead to next season's fishing

A couple of days ago Pam and I drove to Annapolis for the annual ritual of getting my new fishing license at Angler's Sports Shop. I dislike being without a valid license at the start of the new year ever since a New Year's Day some years ago when the temperature was in the 70's, and most of us fishermen yearned to take advantage of the weather by wetting a line. This was before you could get a license on-line, so there wasn't any way I could legally fish since I hadn't taken action beforehand. I still prefer getting the license at a tackle store rather than using the internet, and afterwards we traditionally drive to Mike's Crab House in Riva for fried oysters.

Taking an inventory of my flies, I decided there were five types I needed to tie in preparation for next season, about a half dozen of each type.

1. Marabou bead-head- Consisting of only a marabou wing and a bead on a hook, it's about as simple as a fly can be. Nevertheless, it is effective for trout and pan fish. Marabou are fluffy feathers whose name comes from the marabou stork. Since those storks are now a protected species, fly-tying marabou generally comes from turkeys and chickens. The fluffy feathers present a life-like movement like a small baitfish as the fly travels through water. Flies that imitate other fish are called "streamers".
2. Crystal bugger- This fly is a variation of the popular wooly bugger which in turn came from the wooly worm which was popular when I first began fly fishing 40 years ago but is seldom mentioned these days. The basic design for these flies may go back centuries. I learned the crystal bugger as well as the marabou bead-head from books by Joe Bruce, a Maryland fishing legend. The marabou tail of the crystal bugger dominates the picture below:

3. Black and bluegill- Another simple fly which I learned about from a magazine article. As the name implies, it was designed by a tier who lives in North Carolina to catch bluegills, but it also is effective on smallmouth bass, and some use it for trout. What makes a fish bite this fly is a mystery to us humans because it doesn't seem to look like anything a fish would eat. We call flies like this "attractors".
4. Bend-back flies- Unlike the first three, I haven't yet used this style steamer, but I was inspired to try it because the design allows it to go through heavy aquatic vegetation without getting hung up. There are places I've been fishing lately that this feature would be beneficial.
5. Soft hackle wet flies- A few years ago, I read article about using the feathers of starlings to tie these. I tried some with success and would like to get back to using them on trout streams like the Gunpowder River. Wet flies imitate a subsurface stage of aquatic insects.

Christmas 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Visiting Brookside Gardens and thinking about Capability Brown

Looking over the rolling landscape created at Brookside, I thought about an article I recently read about Capability Brown, 18th century British landscape architect. Throughout Britain, he created gardens that appeared natural but actually were thoroughly artificial, and his style influenced landscape architecture since. Prior to Brown, the wealthy landowners favored for their country estates formal gardens with geometrically straight lines, a style popular in France and Italy. Brown replaced these with pastoral fields, ponds, and woodlands. This style of landscaping is now common in the U.S. and can be seen in Central Park in New York City as well as most golf courses.

After walking around the park, I checked out the indoor exhibit where another visitor called by attention to the angel trumpet plants:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Goose population today

If anything, I think yesterday's estimate of 120-130 is conservative. Couldn't get an angle to get all of them in the picture.

Existentialism and personal identity

Just over two years ago I wrote about my thoughts concerning a character in a Richard Ford novel and his concept of a "default self", that a person's identity is defined by what they do. This concept came back to me this semester in college during a philosophy course where among the readings was a selection from Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness.

Ford's character's default self is very similar to Sartre's idea of "facticity", a person's essential nature. Sartre believed humans could transcend their essential nature by their own decisions about their actions. An example would be a shy person who chose to become a public speaker. Choices such as this give humans what Sartre calls "radical freedom." I suspect Ford was familiar with these ideas because he stresses that the default self is a person's own creation. His character's musings seem a slightly different slant on Sartre's concept of transcending facticity. I remember Sartre's plays, novels, and writings on existentialism as popular when I reached my early teens. I read a little Sartre, but I think I was too young to fully understand what he was saying. Being a little older, Ford may have gotten it better.

Both Sartre and Ford were looking at personal identity, a subject of interest to me especially when I look back to when I was younger. The philosophy instructor is a young man who recalled that when he first left home for college people advised him to "be yourself, Andrew", but he didn't know what they meant. I understand his confusion. Many young people resolve their questions of personal identity by joining a group which gives them an identity and sense of belonging. Jock, nerds, sorority girls are all groups which provide roles and identities. The large identity group when I was young were the hippies, although we more commonly referred to ourselves as freaks, and everyone else was the straight world. After college when I began working jobs which required wearing suits and ties I felt a clash with my established identity.

By the late 1970's, some college-educated people I knew began referring to themselves as professionals which seemed to have a broader definition than the traditional one of doctor or lawyer, and young, urban, professional became "yuppie". I suspected this group self identity served to set them apart from those who were not college-educated.

I never completely understood the "hipster" identity of my children's generation, but I believe it's some combination of hippie and yuppie although maybe I'm wrong about that. I'm often wrong or fail to completely understand things about young people now that I'm old.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Current goose population

Counted 120-130 the last two days, yesterday in the fields and today on the pond. It will be interesting to see how many remain after the winter.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Still icy in the afternoon

The waters:

The Woods:

Icy Morning

 Out the front window:
From the deck looking down:

On the deck:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Terps now 11-1

So far, I've seen four games this season. College basketball is great.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Maryland against Howard

I think this is the third basketball game I've gone to this year, and Maryland has won them all.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Seaton Street NW, Washington, DC

Walked around the Dupont Circle area while Pam was getting her hair done and thought this street was colorful:

Words and images

A course I took a few years ago entitled "Why Poetry Matters" made me think about how much poetry surrounds us in the way of song lyrics. Most of it is bad poetry, I would admit, but it's poetry nevertheless. In addition to song lyrics, we are bombarded with words constantly from radio and TV in addition to from people in our work and personal lives. Regarding written communication, the internet has added a huge amount on top of traditional newspapers, magazines, and books.

In a similar fashion, the art history course I'm currently taking makes me muse about how many images modern humans see daily. Movies, television, publications and, once again, the internet give our eyes a constant stream of images. With a few keyboard strokes, people can view images of the paintings of the great masters that once were available only to the select few owners and their friends.

I have read that it's been estimated that about 80 billion humans have lived on earth. That estimate depends on, among other factors, the length of time Homo Sapiens have existed, but I believe the current generally accepted figure is 250,000 years. What is certain is that for most of those years the amount of words and images available to humans was infinitely smaller than what it is today. The images drawn on the walls of caves in Lascaux 17,000 years ago and in Chauvet 30,000 years ago must have been regarded as precious to those who saw them. The number of animals in the Lascaux paintings have been speculated to represent either past hunting experiences or rituals to bring about the success of future hunts. Words were scarce as well since it's been just a few thousand years that they have been stored in writing. Oral story-telling was valued, and I envision extended families huddling around a fire at night listening to a practiced speaker recounting old tales of valor. This is how the Homeric epics were handed down.

So now we're comparatively wealthy in words and images, but maybe that abundance has cheapened the product. Here, I'm thinking of the internet again. Anyone with a computer can throw words out there, and a great deal of that content is simply false while much of the rest is cruel, crude or both. (I'm not oblivious that I'm adding to the total.) Images flood us as well, both still and motion, but the value of certain iconic images gets diminished in that flood. A few weeks ago in the art history class, we were analyzing Di Vinci's "Mona Lisa", and I realized the masterpiece has been reproduced and parodied so often in my lifetime that studying it as a painting was difficult for me.

Being provided with so many words and images makes us not spend time on any one of them. Often I hear complaints that people don't fully read e-mails and miss important points. The average museum visitor spends about 17 seconds on each work of art they view. We feel we have to hurry through all these words and images, so we have trouble adjusting to the ones that deserve plenty of time. The professor of the poetry class recommended letting a poem "flow over you" without getting too hung up on trying to figure out the meaning of each line and then going back for analysis. The art history professor had us study an established six step process: look, observe, see, describe, analyze, and interpret, with each of those steps explained.

Maybe the rule should be to devote the time to taking in an image or a written or oral statement as appropriate to how much time was expended in the creation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Rainy Autumn Day

Today during my walk in the park.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Son and daughter, Thanksgiving 2016

Greg and Rebecca photographed by Pam. The kitchen is in Dave and Jane Powell's house where we traditionally have Thanksgiving dinner.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Ornamental grasses changing color

This plant was across the street in the park, probably less than 60 feet from our yard, and  almost certainly it came from one of our plants. Nature doesn't recognize property boundaries.

The bottom picture is a nearby plant seated closely to a maple tree in our yard. It may or may not have been the parent.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fourty-seven years ago this past Tuesday

Saturday morning I got off the DC Metro train at the Archives Station and walked the few blocks down 7th Street to the National Gallery of Art. Noting that I was early for the designated time for my art history class, I walked around to the Mall entrance, just as a change from the closer side and back entrances I usually use. As soon as I reached the steps, I had a strong memory flash to a November day much like this one but many years ago. This is where we gathered for the March on Washington to protest the Viet Nam War in 1969.

The weather was remarkably similar that day, sunny with a bright blue sky and air temperatures in the 60's. I remember being comfortable in the light wool shirt jacket I wore that day and still own, I believe. I also remember the small 35mm camera I used to photograph the event but have no idea what happened to the slides.

The actual March I have little specific memories of. We proceeded, I believe, to the Washington Monument grounds, 500,000 strong, to listen to speakers and music. Crowds sometimes bring about a sense of claustrophobia in me, so I tend to skirt the edges rather than immerse myself in the middle. I'm like that now, and I was that was then. Staying on the move gave me more photo opportunities, and although the pictures are gone some of the images remain in my head.

When those memories came rushing back to me Saturday, I wondered if the date was the actual anniversary of the March. Later I checked and it was close because the anniversary was November 15th which was Tuesday. It was the largest of Viet Nam protests, but the war dragged on for, how many years? Three? Four? Five? How many more deaths? In the thousands, certainly. I sometimes wonder if we did any good.

Monday, November 14, 2016

This caught my eye today...

The light autumn leaves against the dark green background was the most visually interesting sight on my walk today.


Pam took this shot. Clarence likes to bury himself under quilts.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

This afternoon at the Upper Patuxent


Election night jazz

Rather than watch the coverage of the election results on TV Tuesday night, I decided to attend the chamber jazz concert at the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Maryland.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Autumn in Patuxent State Park

Yesterday was a beautiful day in the woods, however, with temperatures a very unseasonable 80 degrees I wished I'd had more water and fewer clothes.