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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Theme Day - Contrast

The first day of each month, the City Daily Photo Blog web site hosts a Theme Day, where participants can post photographs expressing their interpretation of a common theme. This month, the theme is Contrast. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

I had a surprisingly difficult time choosing a photo for this theme; I think that's a good thing. Makes me think a bit. I wandered downtown, to the site of our soon to be destroyed building called City Center. While fishing for ideas, I saw this claw resting in the shadow of the still standing building and it didn't dawn on me until I looked at it on the computer that this is a very contrasty photo. Brute force and ignorance on my part for this month's theme. I'll have to try thinking for next month!

Shelving Rock

This photo is over a week old. Not last Sunday, but the Sunday before that, I walked downtown to the Greenmarket. It's a gathering (for lack of a better word) of local farmers and food makers (jam, jelly, honey, muesli - that sort of thing). I got some local cheese (yum!), a bottle of Hudson-Chatham Winery's 2007 Riesling (dry, but fruity - the folks there are very happy to let you try a sample) and some muesli from the very nice lady from Mu Mu Muesli (another case where the sample sells the food!)

I probably bought more stuff but it's all eaten by now, so I can't remember it all. One thing I do remember is the music: a pair of musicians were set up under a canopy and they played some really great music. They call themselves Shelving Rock and I spent the better part of an hour in the front row listening to them. Bought a CD, too. They're very free-form, which is all too rare these days. Sometimes I couldn't tell who was riffing off of who. Too cool! Best of luck in everything you do, guys, and thanks for playing for us!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


There is some big construction near where I work. A new road is going in for the new NY State Trooper barracks being built. This dump truck was hauling gravel for the road and I managed an action shot as it was filling in the base of the road bed.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The last pepper

The very last hot pepper before it went into the pan. I fry them up with a little butter and olive oil and some onion. Goes great with just about everything - especially scambled eggs in the morning!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Skywatch Friday

On Friday, a group of photo bloggers post photos of their skies. It's called Skywatch Friday. Follow the link, have a look at what the sky is like elsewhere in the world...

Here, I awoke to almost clear skies but in less than an hour, dark clouds completely filled in from horizon to horizon. Well, almost completely.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Apple picking

We share the orchards with all manner of creatures. Some great and some small. One creature that is intimately associated with an orchard is the bee. In the spring they harvest the nectar and pollinate the flowers - they make the apples possible! In the autumn, when the apples are ripe and fall to the ground, the bees harvest the sweet apple itself.

All the local orchids have bee hives to help with the pollination and several harvest the honey and sell it. Apple blossom honey is wonderful!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Army Pfc. Jeremiah J. Monroe, RIP

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem so far away, but they aren't as far as I think.

Army Pfc. Jeremiah J. Monroe 31, of Niskayuna, N.Y.; assigned to the 7th Engineer Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Sept. 17 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.

Today, flags are being flown at half-staff here in Schenectady in his memory. This is the flag in Veteran's Park, at the foot of State Street Hill. I rarely put political messages in this blog and I hope this won't be seen as one. There's a web site I visit every day, to remember those lost. It's called Honor The Fallen.

Lest we forget.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn has arrived

Autumn is officially here, and these pumpkins are about the most official photo I could imagine to herald that day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Apple picking

Sunday was glorious, weather-wise. Warm but not hot, clear blue sky - not easy to find hereabouts at any time of the year, but on a mid-September weekend? We thought it a good day to go apple picking.

We don't normally go to Indian Ladder, but they have more than just orchards. They have animals, pony rides, a sand pit play area, the usual 'country store', wagon rides and... cider doughnuts!

The number of people standing in line to get a dozen (that was the limit!) fresh made cider doughnuts was astounding. I'd guess it was about a half an hour;s wait - there were at least 200 people in that line.

This photo is a bit less stressful. This is a view of the orchard looking toward the Helderberg Mountains. Although not tall by conventional standards (a bit more than 1000 feet above sea level) they are quite a bit higher than the valley here, and there are some beautiful overlooks up there.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Fridays, many people post photos of their skies. It's called Skywatch Friday. Thanks to Babooshka for getting me hooked :-) Click on the link to see the wondrous photographs from round the world.

This isn't from today and it isn't from Schenectady. Last weekend I was up on Mt Greylock, MA for a ham radio contest. Greylock is 3491 feet above sea level and we often see 'skies' like this one.

The structure here is the Veteran's War Memorial. Built on the highest point in Massachusetts in 1931-1932 as 'a tribute to courage, endurance, loyalty and self-sacrifice wherever these qualities have been shown by Massachusetts men and women in the uniform of the state or nation.' I'm standing about 200 paces from it here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Praying mantis

My youngest loves insects of all kinds; he certainly has a knack for finding them in their natural environment. This is a praying mantis, found in a field outside the city, photographed in his hand and released back unharmed into the wild.

He reports that it tickles when it walks up his arm.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


A late summer's day in the park, still water and a quiet moment.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Catch and release

Our 7-year old likes to go fishing. He's been experimenting with various bait; live and artificial. He caught several sunfish with crickets - he's convinced they're the best.

We practise catch and release fishing. After catching the fish, we unhook them and release them unharmed back into the water. He insisted that I show a photo of one of his catches swimming away but try as I might, I couldn't get an image of one swimming off - this was as close as I could get.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hoping for good weather

We planted a final crop in the raised no-dig beds, so we're hoping that September will stay warm. Lettuce, peas, onion in this one, spinach and kale in the other.

This is a no-dig bed, which is a cool way of saying 'we're making new soil here.' The medium is made by layering compost, manure and newspaper. At the end of the season, it will be rototilled into the ground and firmly mixed up, acting as a base for next year's additions. After a few years, it'll be very rich soil.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


This is what it looks like if you're a squirrel walking through the rows of corn. Big stalks, wide leaves and tasty ears of corn, just waiting to be nibbled on. The gardeners will lose maybe a dozen ears to the squirrels before harvesting the corn. It's really hard to keep the squirrels off the corn because the stalks will easily support a squirrel's weight.

These ears are all intact.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Corn tassels

In the US, we call this corn; my British relatives call it maize (which is what the Native Americans in the SW US call it).

This is in the community garden; several people planted corn. It's customarily planted in rows so it can self-pollinate. The part pictured here are the male 'flowers.' When the wind blows through them on a dry day, it disperses the pollen to the next row (and this one too, for that matter) landing on the silk. One grain of pollen will make one grain of corn.

Tomorrow: the ears of corn.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Another Skywatch Friday post. Visit all the other great photographers who share their skies every Friday!

This is our community garden at sunset. It's a pretty place with all those plants everywhere although the biting bugs seem to like it too. The street light has just come on - I'm pleasantly surprised at the low light capability of this old Nikon CoolPix 950.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


This isn't a giant Russian sunflower, it's one of the normal ones. We went to the garden to get some greens for dinner and it started to rain. Might as well take advantage of the situation!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Squirrel at my window

I was sitting at the computer wondering what to post for today when the answer presented itself in the form of this grey squirrel leaping up onto the window sill. They seem particularly active today; the weather has turned chilly and it seems to have stimulated their gathering instinct.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Milkweed seeds

I see this as the first sign of autumn. The milkweed plants have reached maturity and the seeds are being liberated to fly off to make new milkweeds for next year. They're so light and airy that even breathing on them will set the off on their journey.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lois McClure

Lake Champlain is a large lake that separates Vermont from New York up in the northern kingdom. It's a large lake, and steeped in history going all the way back to 1609 and its 'discovery' by Samuel de Champlain.

It's a big lake, and before the railroads, was a major transportation route. The forest is thick up there and the terrain has many changes in elevation - you're constantly climbing up or down. The rivers and lakes provided a much easier path for travel - even in the winter, when frozen solid!

With travel came trade, and for centuries, traders used Lake Champlain, the Richelieu River and the Hudson River to carry goods from the north country to New York City. In the 1800s, New York started digging canals to make that trade even easier. With canals, came canal boats; boats sized as large as possible to fit in the canals, and especially the locks that lifted and lowered boats as the elevation of the canal changed.

Lois McClure is a replica of the canal boats used in 1862. She's sized to just fit into the locks of the canals as they were at that time. She has one feature that makes her very rare - she has a sailing rig. Her sails enable her to travel Lake Champlain faster, and to be able to visit more ports there. Most canal boats were towed by mule team. The canals of that era were far too shallow to sail on - not deep enough for a keel or dagger board. Because Lois McClure was meant to sail the deep Champlain, she has a dagger board that can be dropped down to help steady her when under sail.

I spent a long time talking with the crew. They live aboard! Lois McClure was built and is operated by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Every person I spoke to was a wealth of information. If you're in the area, stop by and touch a piece of history. Ask how they found the plans to build her (scuba divers spent hundreds of hours on wrecks in Lake Champlain!) and the history of the wonderful little tug that accompanies her, C.L. Churchill, also of Burlington, VT.

You can tell I'm excited about this. Underwater archaeology is something I'd really like to do myself!

Oh, I almost forgot the photo! Silly me. The photo is the tiller wheel. This provides mechanical advantage when steering under sail. The wheel is attached to the wooden 'dowel' (for lack of a better term for a 10 inch diameter log); turning the wheel turns the dowel, which turns/pulls the line. The line goes in turn to blocks port and starboard and then to the forward end of the tiller arm which is directly attached to the rudder post. In the calm water where we were, my 7 year-old had no trouble at all moving the rudder from stop to stop with one hand. Simple and elegant.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Skywatch Friday

It's Friday, the day when many photobloggers post a photo of their skies for Skywatch Friday.

This is taken on the ridge to the west of Schenectady, looking northwest toward Gloversville, I guess. It wasn;t until I got home and looked at it that I noticed the dragonfly in the upper left.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cheddar cauliflower

We saw this at the local Greenmarket / Farmer's market and the 7 year-old wouldn't leave without getting one. I took this in natural light - it's really this colour!

The internet tells me that an orange cauliflower was discovered in the Bradford Marsh in Canada in 1970, then cross bred to make it tastier. Well kudos for that, farmers of Canada - it looks great and tastes good too!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Civil War monument

While remembering the start of WWII I was drawn to reflect on all the other conflicts that have passed through history. Schenectady has been fortunate in that we haven't had hostile action on our soil since the early settlement days in 1690 or so. But we've sent men off to the wars.

The city has set aside a small sliver of land at the base of State Street hill, at Lafayette St to remember those men. It's now called Veteran's Park There are monuments there for most of the conflicts the United States has been involved in. Arguably the worst was the Civil War - North against South, brother against brother.

This monument remembers a different Civil War battle on each face. I chose Gettysburg because of Lincoln's speech commemorating the Gettysburg cemetery.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

City Daily Photo theme day - Big

It's the first of the month, the day when many City Daily Photo bloggers participate in a common theme. This month, it's BIG. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

My photo was taken in the community garden. These monster sunflowers are at least 8 feet tall. I'm over 6 feet tall and these towered above me. I couldn't work out a way to see them all in a row - I can't back up far enough to get the row in the frame!

The speck on the flower is a bumblebee; my son pointed it out. It's big for a bee. Maybe I got the daily double...

Do visit the other participants; some of their interpretations are fantastic!
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