Sunday, June 30, 2019

Scene in my June Garden

The big news in my June garden has been the appearance of twin(?) fawns. They are delightful to watch and wow, can they run fast. This makes them quite difficult to photograph as you might imagine. But this morning I happened to notice the twins out back - they have not yet figured out that I like them to pose for my camera and invariably are standing 20' apart and facing in opposite directions. Above we see one twin on the front lawn this morning - and once you get all the way to the end of this post you'll get to see mama deer and twin #2.
 Now as delightful as it  might be to see the deer family guess what else they do. They eat things in my garden. This week we had a big thunderstorm predicted for Thursday night so I went outside to be sure all my tomato plants were tied up and secured for the expected storm. But what I found instead sent me scurrying back inside for some tea and cake.
 I have seven tomato plants growing well but every single one had been pruned. This one above had the worst damage - the entire main stem taken out. It was an heirloom plant by the name of German Johnson which I had not tried before. Maybe I'm not going to try it this year either. sigh.
 While I am in no way an expert on clouds I do like looking up at them. This was an interesting (to me) view of the clouds the night a severe thunderstorm was predicted (Thursday) but did not end up hitting us. See the seahorse on the lower right?
 This sweet 100 tomato plant has got some fruit beginning to develop. This is a variety of cherry tomato that I have been planting now for, oh maybe the last ten years and I really like them.
 The hosta along the side of the deck and breakfast room is at peak. Shortly bugs will start to eat holes and the deer will start to eat the flowers if I am not scrupulous about spraying the "liquid fence" deer repellent.
 The main feature in my June garden are the coneflowers. This year the "purple" ones are absolutely dominant although in other years the white ones win out.
 On Friday, the night after the storm that missed us, it was our turn to get a drenching downpour right at rush hour traffic time between 5pm and 6pm. The unpredicted storm stalled right overhead but by sundown time (about 8.35pm) we had this interesting sky.
 Ten days or so ago the garden received it's annual session of edge trimming and mulch. There is always some collateral damage to plants and this year a number of coneflower stems got knocked askew. Wanting to savor them for just a few more days I cut the blooms and carried them inside to enjoy. It was fun to spend some time with my camera recording them.
 In the back garden there are four bird houses. Although there is always interest in them each year it is very seldom that birds stay long enough to lay eggs and raise chicks. This year this house did seem to have success.
 Salvia at sundown on the solstice. In my front gardens this year I have settled on a pink, blue and white theme. One of the beds is featuring blue this season and on June 21st, the solstice that marks the beginning of summer, I wandered around during the sunset hour just to enjoy the garden.
 The wildflower yarrow that I encourage in the garden has been making quite the backdrop for many flowers and photos this season.
 A visit from a hawk earlier in June.
Congratulations, you reached the end of this long post. Here's a view of momma deer encouraging twin #2 to cross the road and see what is on the other side. Don't worry, twin #1 from the opening photo ran after them right away. But they'll be back to the salad bar tomorrow.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Pretty Sky Day at the Smithsonian's Udvar Hazy Center National Air and Space Museum

This past Saturday, June 15, was the annual Innovations in Flight Day at the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy National Air and Space Museum.
 For those who are not local the Udvar-Hazy Center is unusual for a Smithsonian Museum in that it is not located in central Washington DC but rather it is on the southern edge of Dulles International Airport in Chantilly VA. It is an amazing place chock full of real full-sized pieces of aviation history.
 Once a year they have this event which is sponsored by United Airlines. United brought in a 767-400 which was open for a walk-through creating the longest line of visitors on the day.
 The choice piece of equipment on display however was this F-22 Raptor  belonging to the United States Air Force. It was not available for walk-throughs (can you imagine why?) and was kept behind a barrier and heavily guarded. Anyone know how the pilot gets into the cockpit?
 In addition to a wide variety of aircraft there was also a small number of vintage road vehicles. These two are owned by the Freedom Museum in Manassas and represented the Korean War era (note the appropriate 48 star flag)
 The Freedom Museum also brings this nose cone from a B-25 Bomber built at the end of WWII on tour to bring living history to the local community. Featured in the movie "Forever Young" starring Mel Gibson and Jamie Lee Curtis I had a chuckle at the symbols for what it had taken out...
 The United States Marine Corps flew in one of their V-22 Osprey's - a fascinating aircraft that has vertical takeoff and landing ability and is used for troop movement into tight locations.
 This 1939 Woody got my eye as it had been the subject of a superb restoration. The Lincoln Zephyr (Ford) had an amazing paint job on it that was very appropriate for the times.
 And here is something owned by folk with a great sense of humor (zoom in to see the uber sign front center of the windscreen).The 1911 Stanley Steam car #5217 model 63 was the subject of a three year accurate restoration completed in 2014 by the renown Alan Kelso.
 But getting back to the aircraft...the United Sates Airforce also flew in this C-17 which was also popular for walk through tours. Check out the sky - isn't it amazing?
 Visitors were treated to a display by the US Airforce Drill Team who performed against the backdrop of the Raptor.
 After the display the members were available to pose for photographs and answer questions. I had an interesting chat with the fellow 2nd from right and asked about the insignia on their neckscarves (plain navy means they are newer members of the team while the crossed rifles of the front airman signifies that he is one of the top four on the drill team).
 The US Customs and Border Protection department brought along this P - 3 Orion which features the airborne early warning system.
To round out our day we retreated back inside to visit the James S. McDonnell Space Hanger which features the Space Shuttle Discovery.

All in all, this is one of the most fascinating of the Smithsonian's museums and well worth the visit if you are anywhere in the vicinity. Special days like this past Saturday's Innovation in Flight day bring an added level of enjoyment to a visit. However a regular daytrip allows for a much more leisurely look at a plethora of aircraft all hanging out waiting for you. Want to see an AirFrance Concorde? The Enola Gay? SR-71 Blackbird? There's so many amazing sights to see there.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Upperville Horse Show

Today I was very excited to accept the invitation of a friend to go to the Upperville Colt and Horse Show - said to be the oldest horse show still operating in the USA since beginning in 1853. Neither of us know anything much about competitive horse jumping but we wanted to improve our photography skills. It was a great day to go as the weather was not blisteringly hot and humid and the crowds in the late morning/early afternoon were light. We had a great day out.
 Here we can get the full introduction painted on one of the jumps in the main jumper ring.
 But we started off watching the action in the main hunter ring. It took this photographer a little while to get up to speed in getting the shot - first I lost the horse's head, next to go were the feet followed by the tail but finally I achieved success with all body parts visible!
 The happy grin of success after a good round.
 The show is in a spectacular location here in Virginia in the heart of "horse country" with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a back drop.
 Over and down, a successful jump in the jumper ring.
 I caught sight of this horse and loved the "hairdo". Despite hanging around for a while I could not seem to get a clear shot without that man on the golf cart in the background. But I really liked the look of this horse.

 Waiting to enter the main ring. Notice the small dog in the lower left corner. It was clearly a "dog friendly" event as we saw many well-behaved quiet dogs.

Up and over - another successful jump.

 A treat from the rider to her horse.
 We went back over to the hunter rings hoping to see some of the younger riders. Here was one heading off to compete.
 It's shower time - a refreshing reward after the big event.
 Hanging out in the temporary quarters - looks like it has been a successful event for this horse.
 Another of those shots where the photographer muses that it would have been so much better without the cars there and if the white horse could have backed up somewhat and...oh well, just take the shot!
We concluded our lovely day out with a late lunch at the Hunters Head further down the road on the other side of Upperville. I give thanks to my friend for extending the invitation and hope you, the viewer, enjoyed sharing our trip to the Upperville Horse show.