Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Good Day Despite the News

We were fortunate to have our good friends Robin and Dave to visit for a couple of days. Yesterday we drove down to Assateague Island to see the wild ponies and the seashore. This trip we first drove to Chincoteague which is on the Virginia side of the island. We saw this lone pony in a marsh alongside the road. There were other ponies but they were mostly in the trees and very hard to see. This pony seems to be enjoying some down time now that the summer population has gone home and there are just a few campers and visitors.

In this picture you can see the Atlantic from the Visitors' Center. The sky looks a little ominous here but that is how it has been for a few days now. Perhaps a reflections of the grim news in the financial world.

It was then onto a brief visit of the Assateague Island Light House. It was commission by Congress in 1855. It is going through some much needed renovation. When I near one of these old sentinels my mind sets to wondering about the days when these beacons were manned. There had to be some amazing stories. We went from here back into the town of Chincoteague and had a late lunch at a place call Bill's. We all thought that appropriate.

Then it was time to go and see if we could find some ponies on the Maryland side of the island. That trip is over 20 miles because there is no through access on the island. When we were last here there were lots of folks taking in the nature trails and just walking the beach. This time there were few in trails area, more on bicycles and lots of campers in the designated areas along the beach. It was getting on in the afternoon and we had still not clearly seen a group of ponies. We drove clear around the National Park Area and missed the trail area we spied ponies in during our last visit. Mind you, we saw lots of evidence ponies had left behind but still not seen a group of real live horses. We drove through the park and back around and with the gracious assistance of the ranger at the entry station we got to trail the we had sought. We parked the car and started out on the trail down to the marsh. We dodged evidence all the way but it was worth it because some of the ponies were right next to the wooden walk.

I had the longer lens on the camera by this time so the horse in this picture looks closer than it was. The three guys on the opposite side of the water were trying to net something.

You can see in this picture how close these ponies were to the boardwalk. I think there were three more horses in the group that are not in this picture.

While on our last trip to Assateague, Bill's grand-niece Rebecca adopted a pony named Rosie. It is a pinto and looks much like this one. I need to research this a little and see if this might be Rosie. The next couple of pictures are some close-ups that could not have been taken if I had not been so close to the ponies. We were close enough to touch them which is illegal to do. It was awesome to be that close.

It was very enjoyable making this trip down the coast and sharing it with such good friends.

The marsh as the sun is taking its position in the late afternoon sky.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Smart Idea or Not?

Yesterday, I had an appointment in Salisbury, Maryland. It is an interesting drive through the countryside and the fringes of some of the towns along the way. Throughout the summer and fall there is farm stand every few miles. This time of year there is an abundance of winter squash and gourds, tons of pumpkins and pot after pot of mums. I am always tempted to stop and get more than I can possibly use. It was my intention to stop at a farm/nursery place yesterday but the appointment went longer than anticipated. So, I came home empty handed. But, I did come across something that was a puzzlement.

I turned onto the "major" street before the street where I was going and found this interesting layout. First glance was that it was rather attractive, the curved outcroppings alternating perfectly from one side of the street to the other (see the marked in pink on either side). The freshly painted double yellow line matched the curve of curbing perfectly (middle pink marking). This configuration goes on for little more than three blocks. These pictures were taken on my way back. Since traffic was an issue and there was no place to pull over I was not able to capture the full impact of the configuration. It is like a flat and short contrived Lombard Street in San Francisco.

The first picture was taken at the start of the configuration and has a four-way stop warning. The next picture is of the warning sign that further announces the configuration. "Traffic Calmed" my eye! Note, the speed limit is 25 which is excessive unless you can drive straight down the street. No, the camera is not distorting the waves.

Here is a better picture of the street. It is an older neighborhood bordering on commercial areas. You can see that some trees are starting to show fall color but mostly you notice the road itself. I sure hope someone doesn't try to plant trees in those areas. That wavy line is for real and it is a pain to drive. I got a little dizzy weaving from one side to the next.

And, here we are at the end of the "Traffic Calmed" area and back to regular traffic hassles.

The short trip also provided some glimpses of what is happening in the local fields. The above image is of soybeans as they near harvest time.

Many of the corn fields are being plowed down. Here is one with the dry stalks standing in the wind. They look cold and foretell of the coming season.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Some Good News

The past few days and weeks have held some pretty grim news on the economy and then with natural disasters. I think it is about time to share some items of good news.

From Texas

My brother Jack and sister-in-law Linda evacuated their home for the second time in three years last week. They live in Lake Jackson, Texas and the area was to receive the full force of Hurricane Ike. They returned home Monday to find minor damage to their house. They spent that afternoon and yesterday cleaning debris from their property and helping their neighbors do the same. They had purchased a generator earlier in the month and set it to run while they were away. When they returned home, the items in their freezer were still frozen and the items in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator were starting to thaw. So, they cooked it all up and shared with the neighbors. As Jack said, "We were blessed."

From Washington State

I received an email yesterday from one of my dear friends in Spokane. She was emailing with an article she knew I would be very interested in reading. It was about another friend receiving a prestigious award. My old friend Gary received the NIH Senior Scientist Award (article is linked here). WOW! How cool is that? This guy is the spouse of one of my sorority sisters. He was named the sorority sweetheart when were all at Idaho State University. Actually, Gary was kind of a sorority brother. He was and remains one of the smartest people I have ever met. He also has always been one of the hardest working, least pretentious and devoted people I have ever met. And, he is one of the funniest, no probably the funniest person I have ever met.

In the world of higher education there is all too often an elitism that curdles my stomach. What a breath of fresh air Gary brings with his dedication to his research, his researchers, his friends and his family. To him it is not the initials after the name that are important. It is that progress can be made. And, this he has done.

Academic, scientist, devoted family man, funnyman and FRIEND – Congratulations, you are truly deserving.

From Virginia and Delaware

This is a picture of a just completed project I have been working on for most of the summer. This tiny little sweater and cap are for our first grandchild who is scheduled to arrive the first week of December. Now that I have finished knitting the sweater set, I think I will move on to making some swaddling blankets. They will not take as long and will fit for a longer time.

Erica and Geoff have started putting together many of the required items now that they have settled in their first house. They are both very happy becoming parents and have opted to have the gender be a surprise. Of course, Bill and I are elated and try to be cool about it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Hanna Who? A Good Weekend Anyway

These flowers at Mount Vernon obviously like the sunshine that came Sunday after Saturday's deluge from tropical storm Hanna. Since I had an appointment in Baltimore on Friday we checked with Erica and Geoff to see if we could impose on them for the weekend. The original plan for Saturday was for the four of us to take the dogs and go to the distillery at Mount Vernon. However, the rainy weather on Saturday made us decide that that would not be a good idea. The rain started somewhere between 10:00 p.m. and midnight on Friday and continued through 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. At times it fell in what seemed like steady streams. The wind was not much of a factor but my oh my was it ever wet outside.

Deciding not to call the whole day a loss, Erica, Bill and I went to see Afghanistan Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul at the National Gallery of Art. The exhibition has been in Washington since May 25 and was closing on Sunday. The National Gallery of Art is always a wonderful place to visit. I love to visit the tower where the Henri Matisse Cutouts are displayed. The color and simplicity make me happy, especially in a tropical downpour. From there we went to the Afghanistan exhibit. What a thought provoking and beautiful exhibition this was to see. I do not have photos. There are several websites that show some of the items and tell of the bold steps to preserve the culture of the country.

Sunday was a beautiful day so Bill and I headed for Mount Vernon. We decided to take in some the exhibits on the way to the mansion even though we planned not to visit the mansion. The estate still is a working farm. There are sheep, cows (these are the animals I have seen so far), gardens and some small field crops. The sites we took in on this visit included some slave quarters, the shoe makers shop, the "archeology and restoration" museum, the back porch of the mansion and a couple of the gardens. In the scheme of things it was not a lot but being able to go at my slow pace and enjoy the scenes was wonderful. Of course, we will return and take in yet more of the estate.

This restoration of the "Dove of Peace" weathervane on the mansion was in the "archeology and restoration" museum. I am such a fan of representations of the dove. The museum was small but had some very interesting items including how the columns of the mansion are painted to appear as they are made of stone. This was a money saving effort ordered by Washington.

This picture was taken from my favorite (to date) spot on the estate. The first time I visited Mount Vernon was in 1999 when Geoff took me on Columbus Day. We had just been through the mansion and came outside to sit on the chairs situated on the back veranda. There one has views as this one. When Bill and I visited yesterday we came to an open pathway and sign that indicated we might be able to get to the porch without going through the mansion. This is but one of the pictures I took from the chair I sat in yesterday. Bill, who has visited the mansion before but had not come onto the this area before was delighted with the views.

It was hard to leave that spot on the Potomac but we had to proceed with our trek however slowly. We somehow managed to miss an upper entrance, if there is one, to the garden we had chosen to visit. So, we backtracked a bit. Some of the plants were showing signs of the fading summer and torrential rains of the previous day. There still were some beautiful flowers to be seen along with butterflies, bees and the like. Here are some more of the 170+ unedited pictures I took last weekend.

Capturing the images of this butterfly was the highlight of the day.

That is until I was able to get one of a bee.

I love the red of this plant.

Another butterfly. I must research to identify.

This one flew rapidly from flower to flower.

Another butterfly.

…gossamer wings.

Sheep seeking relief in the shade and enjoying a friendly pat.

It was a good weekend.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Summer is Winding Down

It is still officially summer and that is what it feels like outside. It isn't that it is so warm (high 80's), it's that it is just soupy. I truly do not care this. So, I am really looking forward to the autumn. I can honestly say that I miss cool nights and mornings. With all of that aside, however, it has been a pretty reasonable summer. Sure, we have had some very warm days but we have also had very pleasant days as well. There were fewer of those mornings with heavy, steamy fog than last year. For that we are grateful. We haven't been out and about as much this summer as last but we have enjoyed the concerts in the park and being involved with some of the Milton Lions Club activities. This picture is of several of the members at the end of a busy day on August 23. Running the Milton Clipper Express is a favorite activity. That day the club also sold funnel cakes and had a car raffle table set up in the park for one of the annual town activities, Bargains on the Broadkill.

There will be two more concerts and then we put the train away until May. I love projects like this because of the camaraderie of the members and most of all for the joy that they bring to young and old. The Carousel in Missoula, MT was also such a project.

Update: On a sadder note, our lovely nest of three beautiful blue eggs was abandoned. I am pretty sure that they are robin eggs and it was about the time of that post when I last saw any robins in our vicinity. The nest and the eggs appeared very late in the season. There would not have been much time for little ones to mature.