Cute Little pups … or are they?

A view back near the shed

A view back near the shed
As usual, click the image to see a doublesize version.

One of my friends in Fairfax, VA noticed the cutest little pups hanging around their shed – until they realized it was 3 coyote pups that apparently had a den under their shed – and then they realized where the neighborhood cats might have gone!

Its expected to see pictures of them living out west, but VERY intriguing seeing these guys less than 30 minutes from the White House or the Capitol!

Azalea season is here!

It was just starting to sprinkle when I went out to feed the goldfish tonight –
you can see them skimming the food off the surface if you click the photo below.
Its also the start of the azaleas blooming – for a brief 2 week period we get the most amazing show of colours. The picture on the left below shows the current temp arrangement of the pond with the new waterfall filter box in place (but not yet covered with slate/rocks) and the water-tubing laying on the surface – no reason to bury the plumbing until everything is in place and finalized. The phot on the right was shot from an upstairs window (note the screen) looking out over the backyard April 25, 2001 – our first spring in the house. Note all the overgrown corners. Also note the pond isn’t there yet – I hadn’t discovered it yet – its still buried!
Click to enlarge! Click to enlarge!

Pond Panic!

The weather has changed to cold and rainy on Friday – and we had more of the same today – what a change from the warm spell that peaked in the low 80’s on Thursday. So, its early Saturday morning, I grab a cuppa and go to sit by the pond – and … the upper pond is almost empty – the pump isn’t running! Its been a year since I bought the Beckett pond kit with the little 200 gph (gallons per hour) pump – but I’d hoped it would last longer than this. I’d just ordered a biofalls and filter box to give filtering – its due mid-week and I planned to redo the “plumbing” next weekend – but I guess I don’t get the chance. So, I read up on specs – figuring that the pond has a capacity of 1500 gallons MAX, decided the 200 gph pump wasn’t near enough. After a Saturday morning trip to Home Despot (something I usually avoid like the plague), I came home with a new 800 gph Beckett pump – and promptly found out that my existing buried hose is way to small for that flow rate! Another trip to Home Despot and I returned with a quick connect flange and 20 foot of reinforced 1inch ID clear tubing. This is big, stiff stuff! I just hope the filter box thats on the way is big enough to house this pump. I dropped the pump into an old mesh waterplant box, lowered it into the pond, and laid the hose on the ground and place it between some bricks in the slate pile that was
the old waterfall. I plugged the pump in, and … WOW … we now have RAPIDS running down the upper pond. Much louder splashing and gurgling … I sure the flow slows a bit once I put the biofalls and its filter-media in place … But the goldfish will like the higher flow rate – they really like having a current to swim against – its big fun for them! Its ugly now, with the big hose laying on the ground, but it makes no sense to dig a trench and bury the hose until I have all the new parts and can lay it out properly. I’ll take pictures once its all settled in.

Awesome Magnolias

The Magnolia down the block that looked so sad last week with snow all over the buds bloomed this week. It’s impossible to get the sense of what this large 50 foot tree looks like covered in giant flowers the size of a head of lettuce, but these pictures hint at the outrageous spectacle.
photo of the whole tree   closeup of the blooms, click to enlarge

Weather Extremis!

Very odd doings outside. All week long it has been unseasonably warm, reaching 72-74 degrees by mid-day! Daffodils are on blooming everywhere, there are yellow slashes of Forsythia all over the neighborhood, its been a wonderful, optimistic time, even with the war news downtown.
Friday after work we bought 3 large rhodedendrons at Home Despot, and planted them before sunset. It was hot work in shorts and Tshirt.
Saturday we cleaned gardens, got rid of the leaves that fell in the winter to let the sprouting hastas and bulbs break free. Emma gave everything a good scoop of compost, and I raked most of the paths in the yard down to the mulch I spread last year. 4 big bags and 3 trashcans full of yard waste … another “hot” day, but dark clouds blew over by 5, a cold front from Canada. It rained overnight, and continued this morning as Emma left for Richmond. It was colder, too.
About 20 minutes ago it started snowing – SNOWING! As if we haven’t had enough white stuff this year. The big magnolia at the end of the block is ready to bloom in outrageous splendor, and we get this freaky snowstorm!
Ahh … I LOVE my D40Zoom Olympus digital camera …
Sunday closeup of the magnolia tree, buds covered with snow!   Weeping blooms
Friday closeup of the magnolia tree, ready to bloom!
As usual – click to enlarge …


Its much better than shovelling snow, and its nice and warm, remarkably so for March! I started around 8AM today and spent the day pulling out the old ivy and spreading cedar mulch around the pond. But this is just an excuse to take pictures with the new camera! the original is in SuperHQ mode – thats a 2.5meg JPG – but I crunched it down from the original 2288 x 1712 size to a more reasonable 600×800 and the usual 300×400 thumbnail below. Its a bit overcast today.
March 23rd image of pond area

If you have the bandwidth –
click here
to see one of the unedited JPGs right out of the camera!
Warning – its 2.28Megs in size … but you’ll see what the camera can do!

New Camera

I’ve been a fan of the Olympus Digital cameras for over 4 years now. I started with the 320, got a warrantee upgrade to the 400 model and then got a C-2000Z.
All the pictures in the blog are from the C2000 – a very nice, if slightly bulky 2 MegaPixel (2 MP) camera … see My Digicam Page for more history specifics.
Anyway, I noticed in the paper last week that Olympus has come out with a new 5 MP clamshell pocket camera, the C50. It has an all metal body, but they finally made some changes from all the previous models. The C50 uses a new proprietary battery and a new xD memory card. They’ve also done away with the top status panel. I did some extensive reading of reviews and commentary and it seems that a number of folks really like the previous model – the D40. Some even said its better than the new C50. Its nearly as small as the C50, had a number of nice presets, used 2 AA batteries (I’ve got 8 AA Nickel-Metal Halide batteries and a charger already), takes the old smartMedia cards (I’ve got a number of them). I even went to the local Circuit City and checked out the new C50 model – and yes, it IS compact – like a thick deck of cards!
So – I did the good thing – I shopped Ebay for the D40 – and got one for just over $300 – should be able to call in my VISA info tomorrow and maybe get it before the weekend! Thank goodness for my tax refund!
photo of the D40 Camera

Spring (yard) Cleaning

What a day – I am exhausted …!
Spent most of the day raking the leaves that fell since we last raked in the fall …

that the fun of living in the forests of Fairfax – cool and shady in the summer – but payback time comes often! So I raked into pileds, ground it up with the lawn mower, then used the wheelbarrow to haul it to the compost pile. I even cleaned around the pond some, tho I want to raise the surrounding ground to the level of the pond’s edge. Once thats done, I can border the pond with slate
and give it a really cute look. Anyway – contrast this with the shot below from Feb!
Here’s a picture from 5pm – just after I fed the fish!
(Click to enlarge)
Fish in the pond

pond on a sunny afternoon

Winter’s gone AWAY

Its amazing but we’ve had a string of days this week that felt like temperature got into the 70s! I was out raking leaves in shorts and a tank top after work yesterday (just before the rain) and was quite comfortable. The pond has finally thawed and it looks like there are a dozen or so large goldfish swimming around in there! They survived all that snow and ice!
I’ll get out there with my camera this weekend and get some current pictures!

Here’s a picture from Feb 7, 2003 – all Snowed In!

(Click to enlarge)