Thursday, July 9, 2009

Free Fun in the Woods

Yesterday evening I was ready to head out to a movie, but was suddenly hit with an urge to do something different for a change, especially since we are basically broke right now. I remembered reading a really wonderful blog post from The Natural Capital about a trail near the Burnt Mills dam, which is on Route 29 about halfway between Four Corners and White Oak, and decided it was time to go check it out.

Burnt Mills is on the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River and was originally a grain processing facility which then became a water filtration plant which was the "first of its kind in the world." If you would like to know more, just click on the picture below.

There is a lovely trail there that you can take all the way to Brookside Gardens and it also continues in the other direction to somewhere in PG county. The trail is not rugged at all and is very clearly marked.

We decided to make it a short little hike because we wanted to get back to our car before it got dark. It was for the most part a rather serene and peaceful outing.

But then, as darkness approached, it suddenly began to get a little creepy out there. The monsters of the woods began to present themselves. The first one to appear was the Evil Root Monster:

Next we saw the slightly cross-eyed, rather angry looking Log Monster:

Around this time the Hairy-Legged Spider Monster began to emerge from the depths of the Northwest Branch:

But somehow we managed to emerge from the woods unharmed. I was a little disappointed that I didn't see the legendary ghost deer on our walk. I will definitely be going back for another look. One thing that we encountered that was a source of complete delight was an area that was full of the sound of singing birds (and mosquitoes). I decided to take a video just so that you could hear a small segment of their singing.

And since I'm a total music geek with no life apparently, I decided to transcribe the song of the main bird on the video below so that all of you music buffs can follow along. These are the actual notes the bird sang. The notation actually starts about 5 seconds in, immediately after the mosquito introduction which seems quite reminiscent of the Theme from Charlie's Angels. The meter for the main bird call is in 7/4 meter (my favorite!) and you can hear the other birds keeping the beat in the background with various answering figures. I was especially impressed by the fact that although the main bird was a beat late with his pattern in bar 3, he managed to get right back on track with the four 16th notes on beat four. Maybe he was just backphrasing in that one measure. The tempo is very slow - only about 56 beats per minute.

So all in all it turned out to be a wonderful alternative form of entertainment. And best of all, it was FREE!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fun Fourth

I thought my 4th of July was going to be a little on the rinky-dink side, but it turned out to be quite fun. We found a new beach on the Chesapeake that is absolutely delightful and then we went to Doug's concert with the Junkyard Saints in Easton.

Afterwords we did a little driving around to look at the beautiful old houses there and started our trip back over the Bay Bridge at a little after nine. And that was perfect timing to see from the distance about fifteen different fireworks displays all up and down the Chesapeake on both sides. Even though it was nothing like sitting there underneath them it was still pretty cool to be able to see so many different ones all at the same time.

As we continued west on Route 50 we had an excellent view of the downtown Annapolis fireworks for about ten minutes. Then we saw a few more as we headed past Davidsonville and Bowie and several more as we got closer to the Beltway. When we got to Greenbelt there was a display practically right next to the road and it was a good one. I couldn't take it any more so I got off at the next exit and was able to park with everyone else on Kenilworth Avenue. We saw the grand finale and it was spectacular, or at least good enough for me. And so easy too! All in all we saw about 30 different fireworks displays during our ride home.

Sorry, my fireworks video skills are not the greatest.....

Friday, July 3, 2009

what I did on my summer far

It finally feels like summer is here. It's about time! Most of the rest of this summer will be spent working on our house. Maybe by September we will finally be able to move back in.

If you'd like to read about our progress, just visit which is my somewhat sarcastic name for our extremely unrealistic housebuilding adventure. Doesn't that name sound kind of porn-ish? It's not - our house is made out of structural insulated panels, also called foam core panels. They are super insulating and as soon as we get back in there it will cost us very little for heating and cooling, which is great because we'll need that money for interest payments instead.

Today we drove down to Smoot Lumber to pick up a replacement cabinet for one that had been sent in the wrong size. We were in Doug's car and I wasn't driving for a change. So of course I was snapping pictures of every little thing that entertained or amused me. People were certainly making excellent use of their pickup trucks today:

On the way back from Smoot we decided to take the scenic route to try and avoid all of the early rush hour traffic on 495, so we took Memorial Bridge across and then drove up through Rock Creek Park.
Memorial Bridge Statue
(and in case you were wondering that's a foot under that horse)
We stopped at Peirce Mill Dam for a minute and saw this lovely duck:

After crossing East West Highway we stopped at the roadside stand there and picked up some fresh squash, romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes, blueberries, and blackberries. Later we had them all for dinner, along with some brown rice and vanilla ice cream. In appropriate combinations of course. But that would come later.

We continued on our way and when we got to Glenmont I saw that the "Glenmont Artist" for lack of a better description was still working on her most recent project. For the past three days she's been working in front of this sad little house at the corner of Randolph and Georgia which is due to be demolished sometime soon I guess. Previously I'd seen her doing the Glenmont water tower. I sort of want to stop sometime and talk to her so I can see what her deal is. We obviously share a mutual attraction for the various types of scenery that you might see in beautiful downtown Glenmont.
When we finally got to our house we worked for several hours. Doug immediately installed the new cabinet that we had just gotten and that made me very happy. While I was sanding and painting a bunch of pieces of moulding he put up the rest of the trim around the little windows in the pass through. He did a really nice job.

Then we went home and had our oh so fresh and fabulous, delicious and nutritious dinner. Tomorrow I'm going to mow the grass and then take Saturday and Sunday off for a change. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Harvest Moon?

Did anyone see the moon this morning at around 1:30 AM? I was heading over to my real house to do some painting when I saw it sitting kind of low in the sky. It was amazing - it looked like a huge red blob and was about 3 times its normal size. Considering that it's July, it's probably not a harvest moon but I wonder if it has some other name particular name when it looks like that. So now it's 4AM and I'm just heading off to bed. That's what I get for drinking coffee at 6PM. It works!