Monday, July 31, 2006


We finally got rain over the weekend, but the water table is still well below normal. I can't remember seeing the trees so stressed.

It's not really fall yet.

The sycamores in particular seem to be adopting this strategy.

While walking in the woods, we came across these fruits that I thought at first were wild grapes.

But they're not. When I saw the caps I realized that they were actually persimmons! Really, really undersized persimmons.

When I broke one open, they were wormy inside too.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Cat pile

Doesn't look that comfortable to me.

Ginger is the cat who likes to hide his face. He's always trying to burrow under, squeeze behind, or tunnel through something. One night this week I caught him rooting into the back of a chair. There was a crease in the fabric that evidently resembled a secret passageway.


Time for the Friday Ark again!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My garden helpers

I've been noticing a lot of Indigo Buntings (Passerina cyanea) in the garden lately. I'm a bird nut, but I'll admit to a little fist-shaking at first... hey, those tomatoes didn't get pecked all by themselves, you know.

But it finally dawned on me that the birds were eating bugs. Especially (I think) those stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs who'd been ruining the peas. Hubby yanked up the peas last weekend (they were about done anyway), but the bugs had been hanging around still - looking to try their luck with the okra, probably.

Earlier a Phoebe was hanging out too. I believe he's the Tomato Hornworm guard. We found the ends of a few stems eaten off, and hornworm frass underneath, but no severe damage.

Thanks guys! Feel free to peck a few tomatoes. We've got plenty!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Happy amphibians

My first try at a video blog. Actually it's just for the sound, but you get to see me moving the camera around slightly.

These are the voices of Fowler's Toads (Bufo fowleri). (I think. Click on the link and listen to see if you agree.) After our recent rains, the dry swamp has some water in it again, and all is right in the amphibian world.

List of more Alabama frogs and toads here.

Upload your videos to YouTube!

Please let me know if the video doesn't work for you.

Updated: I had second thoughts on my ID. I believe they may be Fowler's Toads rather than Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toads.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Odd bugs

I started out composing this post by whining about how I couldn't identify these bugs, even with the aid of BugGuide. Then I remembered to search on the plant name too, and voilĂ ! Jagged Ambush bug, Phymata erosa.

These individuals weren't too happy about being observed, and crawled away to the underside of the flower when I tried to get closer.

More pics from

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Vegetable graffiti

My tomato greets you.

(Just in case you didn't catch that.)

Updated! Check out the eerie coincidence that Maktaaq reported.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Spending time with celebrities

This morning a tv show (Today, I think) had a segment where they asked people which celebrity couple they'd prefer to spend the weekend with. Most of the respondents chose actors (Angelina & Brad, Tom & Katie, Will & Jada, Vince & Jennifer, etc). A few chose political figures.

My husband wondered aloud which ones would be the best at mowing grass.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Zen dentistry

While being tortured prepared for my ill-fitting temporary crown the other day, I had a sudden moment of astonishing clarity and realization. I developed a brilliantly insightful theory concerning the substantial benefits of being a Buddhist when you're at the dentist.

Unfortunately when they turned off the Nitrous Oxide I forgot what it was.

It's Friday

Visit the Friday Ark for crittery goodness.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bottlebrush buckeye

If I had a totem tree, this would be it.

When had our first glimpse of the land we now live on, it was the Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) that made my heart go pitter-patter. The view of the beautiful white blooms cascading over the creek bank was what initially caused me to think, "We should live here."

The Bottlebrush (technically more of a totem shrub, I suppose) is one of those plants that are "rare but locally abundant". And yet it will grow almost anywhere. It's not that picky about soil type, sun/shade considerations, etc.

Weather conditions have not been ideal for the garden this year, but the Buckeyes sure have loved it... though now past their peak, the blooms have been amazing.

They're not known for setting a lot of seed. But with the profusion of blooms this year, I'm hopeful.

Monday, July 17, 2006


My everyday lemon pie (awaiting topping)

During the news, I sometimes can't resist telling my husband, "I read about that on a blog already!" Although they are obviously just one person's viewpoint, I do enjoy having the opportunity that blogs provide, of getting some news unfiltered. Directly from the source. So I spent some time over the weekend looking at blogs from Israel and Lebanon.

The majority of Middle Eastern blogs are about politics. You can find any number of round-ups of what people there think about this outrage or that. But that's the same stuff that's on tv.

What I was really curious about was how the everyday lives of everyday people were changing. If you are too, you might want to read about...

Haifa's lost dogs

Sightseeing the war

Cleaning out the bomb shelter

Watching them watch you

and of course, there's always time for pizza.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Puff Catty

Georgie, after using her outdoor time to tangle with a bee.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

(Non) hay bale gardening

Hubby wanted to try hay-bale gardening after reading a newspaper article about a man who'd had great luck with it. But this is the kind of luck we had.

I don't even think that's an edible type.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


It probably wouldn't have worked out anyway.

The snappers have bred so successfully, that the minute his little webbed feet touched the pond, this duckling would've become turtle food. We think they were even behind the recent demise of the tweed duck, the largest of our Runners.

Indian Runner ducks aren't supposed to go broody. But this one did, and sat on a great many eggs. I didn't figure she would stick to it... after all, this is the home of the Muscovy duck who thinks she only has to sit on her eggs at night, and the hens who play musical nests when trying to brood.

This gal turned out to be amazingly fierce when protecting her eggs. Only this baby hatched, though. Oh, he was so cute! The first time I saw him, I'd leaned over to question her (in the proud tradition of prospective grandmothers everywhere), "Why haven't you had any babies yet?" And there he was, standing on her back.

There is not much in this world cuter than a duckling. Quick, run get the camera! By the time I'd returned, the baby was in this position, trying to take a little nap by her side. I had to use the zoom - she didn't want us anywhere near him.

He died three days later, of unknown causes.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Vegetable season

For the first year since we've moved here, our garden has worked well enough to have several home-grown veggies. I bought the cantaloupe at the local farmer's market, but we grew the pink-eyed peas, tomatoes, eggplant, and okra. (I forgot to put the cucumbers and peppers on the plate before taking the picture.)

This is the first time I've tried growing edible flowers for salads. They are more for color than taste, but I'm happy with the results. These are bachelor's buttons, calendula, and borage, all from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. (I also had good luck with the nasturtiums and chamomile.)

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Little animals follow me everywhere.

Even a bad hotel on the water has benefits... A Little Blue heron (Egretta caerulea) fishing near the shore went a long way to assuage my irritation at being refused an extra pillow.

Reason for the trip.

The happy couple: Hubby's brother and our new sister-in-law.

And a very sweet new niece in the bargain.

I didn't know exactly how formal the wedding would be, and was afraid to take my camera, which is not exactly slip-into-the-purse size. Turns out it would have been fine, and I ended up wishing I'd had it. We really need to get one of those tiny ones you can take anywhere.

We drove all the way back in one day, which in retrospect may have been insane. (Any day that includes all three meals on the road is officially too much driving.) Near Talladega the dashboard light said we were nearly out of gas.

So we stopped where we normally would not, and thus were spared being on the road during some freakishly high winds that blew in out of nowhere. I retreated to the back of the store and practiced what I was going to say to the news cameras, when they came to interview me as the only survivor... "They just wouldn't come away from the windows!"

The worst part of storm eventually passed over, but we were a little shaken and had to eat some ice cream to get over it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Beach grackles

After minor hotel wrangling - and learning that free wireless internet sometimes means $6 an hour if you actually use it wireless internet - we spent the night in Savannah.

The next day we drove to Melbourne. (The one on the Atlantic side of Florida, obviously, not the other one.)

Seaweed littered the beach. I'm not sure if that was due to a storm at sea, or if it's always like that.

Rather than the shorebirds I'm used to seeing on the Gulf Coast (sanderlings, willets, turnstones, etc), there were a great number of... grackles!

They hunted in the surf just like sanderlings.

They also dug around in the seaweed a lot. To great comic effect!


Other critters can be seen at the Friday Ark.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Marching through Georgia

When my husband suggested that we detour and add an extra hour onto a 700-mile drive, I was not enthusiastic. But it turned out to be a good idea. From Atlanta, we followed, more or less, Sherman's March to the Sea. (Only without quite so much of a scorched-earth policy.)

And arrived in Savannah.

Spanish moss

Oleanders in bloom


Tourist boat

Waving girl

Savannah River Bridge

I think, "Colorful shop entrance."
Hubby thinks, "Copper drainpipe, you don't see that much anymore."

Giant pineapple

Red boy, green hat

I only wish we'd had more time there.


Near the beginning of the route we took from Atlanta, five generations and 142 years ago, one of my ancestors was captured at the Battle of Jonesborough and sent to Camp Douglas.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

By request

Quoting FC:

I was thinking about you the other Walmart. I saw the game cameras and it made me wonder about your sneaky game camera. Are y'all still using it?
Since it's triggered by body heat, it doesn't work so well in the summer. Not in Alabama, anyway. We have taken pictures mostly of ourselves going to check the camera. The only other thing was this, in late April:

Chupacabra, maybe?

...and what has Jasmine been up to?
In this time of fireworks, she's been hiding most thoroughly. Deer nibbled the garden last night.

...and how are those baby catfish doing?

Happy 4th!

Monday, July 03, 2006

What's the story

Morning glories.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Weekend food post

Some fresh veggies from our garden. Those are lemon cucumbers. When I first heard of them I thought they'd taste like lemons - but the name just refers to the shape.

A simple appetizer: Bread, tomato, cheese, basil.

What to do with too much okra: make gumbo.

Festival of the Trees

The first Festival of the Trees is up over at Via Negativa.

A fun way to find more blogs you might enjoy!