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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: