Monday, December 31, 2018

Yuletide visitor

This tiny plains garter snake showed up in our basement kitchen a couple of days before Christmas. Ellie named him Steve—after Steve Irwin, I assumed, but no; apparently, "he just looks like a Steve."

We kept him in a terrarium, safe from the cat, for a day or two and then, on a warm afternoon, slipped him into the brushpile of Christmas trees past where we have seen so many other garters.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Postcard from Annapolis

A decidedly belated post—we were there in October...

A few snapshots from Maryland's capital city. Photos by Jessa and myself.

The most prominent building in Annapolis is the Maryland State House. (Please don't call it the "capitol building"; we don't, though it serves that purpose.) The dome, which features on the Maryland twenty-five cent piece issued in 2000, was built of cypress wood—and without nails.


Also on the grounds of the State House is the Old Treasury Building; the oldest public building in Annapolis, it pre-dates the current State House by three and a half decades.

The flags at State Circle are displayed properly, with a cross bottony at the top of the pole. Maryland is the only state that prescribes a specific ornament for the flagpole.

This cannon once defended Maryland's first capital city, St. Mary's, which was settled in 1634. Annapolis (originally called Providence) was founded by Puritan settlers in 1642 but did not become the capital until 1694 (at which point, after several previous changes of name, it also became Annapolis).

Maryland was founded by the Calverts, also known as the Lords Baltimore. Accordingly, the Maryland arms are the Calvert family arms. The motto, Fatti maschii, parole femine, is Italian rather than Latin, and means "Manly deeds, womanly words", though the state has gone with a more politically-correct translation: "Strong deeds, gentle words". (Incidentally, although there is a town called Baltimore in County Cork, the Lords Baltimore were associated with Baltimore Manor in County Longford—the same county from which the Farrells originally hail.)

Right next to State Circle is Church Circle. Maryland was conceived as a Catholic colony with a policy of religious tolerance, though it took a while (thanks in large part to the aforementioned Puritans) for that vision to be realised. The majority Church of England was also influential in Maryland history. I've mentioned before, I think, that the Anglicans are known for pretty churches, and St. Anne's is certainly one.

Okay, enough history for now. The photos that follow, though they are framed in such a way that they don't show much, nevertheless give a hint of the Old World feel of the town's historic neighbourhoods. (And Jessa is a big fan of the interior shutters.)

Annapolis is, of course, a port city as well, site of the United States Naval Academy (though we didn't visit the Academy) and unofficially "America's sailing capital".

Plus, squirrels!

But here's the real reason we were in town. Below, yours truly with newlyweds Erich & Laura Mair. Laura, née Grammer, is my cousin. She and Erich fell in love in Annapolis, so what better place for their wedding?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Peachblossom Meetinghouse

Just as I've always admired St. John's in the Valley [here and here] for its Gothic loveliness, I've always appreciated Peachblossom Meetinghouse for its elegant simplicity.

This little hexagonal structure was built on the banks of Peachblossom Creek near Easton, Maryland, in 1880 to serve as a meetinghouse for four local congregations: Swedenborg, Lutheran, Methodist, and Church of the Brethren. It has been known by several names: Union Meetinghouse for its multi-denominational origins, Peachblossom Meetinghouse for its location, and Round Top Meetinghouse for its shape. The four congregations initially shared the space, each laying primary claim one Sunday a month, but by 1903 they had all built, purchased, or leased buildings more conveniently located, and Round Top (now owned exclusively by the Brethren) fell into disuse.

Disuse, fortunately, did not mean neglect. The Brethren have kept up on routine maintenance and repairs, both before and after the meetinghouse's relocation in 1940 to accommodate the construction of US Highway 50, the Eastern Shore's main arterial highway. A cast-iron marker notes its place in Maryland history, and the Brethren once again hold services here on special occasions.

[Photos by Mark & Jessa.]

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A day at the lake

My girl catches fish...

...and I do okay too.

All fish caught on this particular day were on flies tied by yours truly: an orange-floss fox-squirrel streamer, a green-floss Serama beadhead soft-hackle, and a red peacock nymph. Each fly accounted for both bluegills and rainbows.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Red-sided garter snake

Okay, so it took a while...

Back in the first year of this blog, I posted some photos of a plains garter snake from the garden...and promised to follow up with red-sided garter snake pictures. I didn't expect it to be ten years before I had both snake and camera at the same time and place, but so it was. These were taken while fishing with Jessa and Ellie at Fremont Lakes last week; as I hinted last time, I only ever see red-sideds near water.

Meet Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

More of land and sea

This, our final post from the Cinque Terre, is a collection of leftover photos a celebration of land and sea. Thanks for joining us here on the Ligurian coast. We'll be back to our regular programming shortly.

Oh, and thanks as well to our boat captain, Alessandro, as well as first mate Samuel, for hospitality, valuable information, and making so many of our recent photos possible. When I say they gave us perspective on the Cinque Terre, I mean that both literally and figuratively.

And thanks, as always, to Jessa, my partner in travel, photography, and everything else. È stato davvero un buon viaggio.