Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How she got her name

Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

Ms. Snappy was in search of a place to lay her eggs, when she was detained by a barking dog and a human with a blog.

The business end, a.k.a. how she got her name.

The other end. The gait reminds me of a toddler.

If you've got your sound turned on, you can hear an Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) in the background of both videos.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Camera stuff

My camera is starting to act up. I want to replace it but can't decide what I want/need.

The camera I have now is a Sony Mavica CD-1000, bought about 7 years ago. It's not an SLR but was touted as "SLR-like". (You can change the aperature and shutter speed.) My camera before that was a film camera, a Nikon 6006.

The new cameras I'm considering are:
Nikon D80 or D200
Canon XTi or 30D

I'm leaning towards the D200 because I think it will use (and meter and AF) my old Nikon lenses, which would be a big plus. I would love to get the VR/IS lenses at a later date but they are fairly pricy.

If anyone has any ideas/thoughts on these cameras (or others) please add a comment or email me. I want this to be a camera that I can be happy with for a long time.

Things I have loved about my current camera:
The built-in zoom lens, a 37 - 370mm.
Image stabilization
Built-in 3cm macro
Spot metering
It uses small CDs as storage media. (About 250 pics each at $1 per disk.)
Can compose picture through the LCD screen
Will take short movies

What I haven't liked about my current camera:
Only 2 megapixels
Slow to power up, slow to store pictures, slow between pictures
Lag between click and shutter
No spot focus mode and poor autofocus capabilities at close range
Uses battery power very quickly

Friday, May 25, 2007

Gnome bug zapper

Why do so many people have garden gnomes? Because they allegedly help in the garden at night.

I was a skeptic, until one of ours started attracting and killing the faux lady bugs, a.k.a. Asian lady beetles (Harmonia axyridis).


Visit the Friday Ark.


Updated: See the comments, where the shallow depth of my bug knowledge is tragically revealed.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Confused news

Brian Williams, on NBC Nightly News tonight:

"The fighting between the Lesbian.. uh, Lebanese army and the Islamic militants..."


Actually he caught himself before he said the entire incorrect word, but it was close.

It was bound to happen sooner or later.


He said "moment of zen" near the end of the broadcast though, and was thus redeemed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pretty poison

Poison Ivy flowers
Toxicodendron radicans

I like the former Latin name Rhus toxicodendron better, because there was always the possibility of referring to urushiol - the oil in Poison Ivy that makes you itch - as Rhus juice.*

This FDA site on Poison Ivy isn't bad, but it should really emphasize the fact that many suburban yards are full of Poison Ivy roots, as my sister rediscovers every spring. Poison Ivy: not just in the woods!

Plus, the more you are exposed to it, the more sensitized you seem to become. (Soon my poor sister will break out just thinking about the plant.)

And any site on Poison Ivy should point out that you should never, ever, ever burn it. Tiny urushiol oil droplets are carried in the smoke, and as much as you don't want that smoke blanketing your skin, you really don't want it slithering into your lungs.


*Most people use that term for the "lemonade" made from Staghorn Sumac, I know, but it's not nearly as funny.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Stop thief!

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Chicken food thief!

Actually I don't begrudge the blackbirds or grackles a little chicken feed. But I have started to wonder about the possibility of melamine in the layer ration.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The secret life of roots

By ashen roots the (fire pinks) blow

Tough roots among the rocks

The parable of the sower

The (gradual) disintegration of the persistence of memory

The dim tangled roots of things

Erosion, so they say, is the root of all evil today. (This is often misquoted.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Strange weather, again

When I stepped outside Tuesday morning, it smelled as if a fire were burning nearby. I worried that the fire in the next county had spread. But that fire was 30 miles away, last I heard. Surely it wasn't that.

No, it wasn't... it was smoke from the south Georgia/north Florida fires... over 300 miles away!

Every air pollution monitor in two counties was in the danger zone. Unreal.

Wednesday a cold front came through and put an end to all that nonsense. We got a whole 1/8 inch of rain. Which was welcome, but... is that all we get? How are my eight types of squash going to thrive on that?

We did finally get most of the garden planted over the weekend. With every seed, I kept thinking, "I'll bet KFarmer has laid her garden by already. I'll bet KFarmer is eating ripe tomatoes by now!" (She's really not, but still I've placated myself by imagining that she is so far south in Georgia that she might as well be in Florida.)

But if I'd been on my toes and planted as early as KFarmer, it would all have frozen at Easter anyway. The county agent says we had the worst late freeze since 1955. Excepting strawberries, there are NO commercial fruits left in Blount county. All were destroyed.

And the people who tried to protect their strawberries by putting water on them lost everything too. Only the people who used row covers saved them.

Anyway. So we're really late getting the garden planted this year. Our healthiest looking plant is actually something that's coming up in the compost pile. I think it's a zuchhini.

Because of course I really needed nine types of squash!

It's a squash experimentation year, and natural forces are playing along.


County agent also says that a lot of the damage done to larger plants and trees won't show up until later in the summer, when everything starts getting stressed by the heat.


The nicest recent strange weather event though, the one that made me really smile? It was the rainbow in my sink just after the recent rain. Yep, in my sink!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Baby Blues

I only snuck a quick peek, only took one picture.

By the time I realized the shot was not exactly in focus, and tried for another, the baby bluebirds had already fledged.

Their father, keeping an eye on the nest.

Monday, May 14, 2007

At Mom's

Somehow we started talking about the dogs we'd had growing up.

The confusion started with my mother calling a Boston Terrier a Boston Bulldog.

Mom: Didn't we have a Boston Bulldog here?

Me: You mean Boston Terrier.

Mom (not sounding convinced): OK.

Me: We had PeeWee, but that was at the old house. He ran away. Supposedly.

Mom: But we had another one here besides Joe Lee.

Sis: Howie.

Me: Yeah, Howie. He supposedly ran away while we were on vacation, but I always suspected that Dad just had him removed while we were gone. (I'd brought Howie home without asking.)

(Mom looks confused. Not sure if Dad really didn't do that, or he just didn't tell her.)

Sis: And there was Pockets of course.

Mom: The shepherd.

Me: No, he was a poodle!

Mom: We had a poodle?

Sis: Yeah, he was mine, we got him from the B-----s, remember?

Me: And he got poisoned.

Sis: What?

Me: He got poisoned twice, that's why we had to give him away.

Sis: No, he bit the mailman, that's why he had to go.

Me: No! Poisoned. I remember clearly. The first time the vet thought he might not live. The second time wasn't so bad.

Sis: But they told me he'd bitten the mailman!

(Nobody else remembers the mailman story. Joe Lee did start nipping at repairmen's heels in her old age though.)

Me: He went to live with Dad's friend who had a place in the country.

Mom: No, we gave him to a lady at church. I remember her telling me when he died.

Me: I might be thinking about the chicks instead. I know we gave them to W---- out in the country.

Niece: You had chicks?!

Hubby: Maybe it was Little Buns.

Me: I think we gave him Little Buns too. (That was a rabbit.)

Niece: Can we get some chicks?!

Me: Later on we realized that it probably wasn't a person poisoning the neighborhood animals deliberately -- it was pesticide runoff from peoples' yards.

Mom: Yes, Mr Y----'s dog died. The shepherd.

Sis: No, it was one of those miniature collies. A Shetland Sheepdog.

(Mom looks confused.)

Brother-in-law: Are you sure you all grew up in the same house?


Current crazy dog, a Great Pyrenees named Jasmine.

Friday Ark

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Saturday, May 12, 2007

No mow

Oxeye daisies and clover

The advantages of (1) not using weedkillers, and (2) not being able to mow for a while.

Hubby is outside mowing it all down as I type. While I sit inside and "play blog," as he says. I saved several of the daisies for a vase though.

Evening primroses and more clover.

The primroses are mostly pink in real life, but the camera has a hard time picking it up.

As far as I can tell "evening" primroses are actually open 24 hours a day. But I haven't gotten up at 3am to check that.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Strange cat sleeping positions #142

On top of another cat.

(Visit the Friday Ark for more critters.)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Musical flowers

Bigleaf Snowbell, Styrax grandifolius

We encountered this beautiful shrub on a wildflower rescue. It's a tricky area. On one hand, it's very near a creek so houses are probably not going to be built directly on top of it. On the other hand, (1) you never know, and (2) high amounts of soil runoff might kill everything here anyway. So we are just taking some of the plants.

The shrub was near this little stream. The water goes underground around the middle of the picture, and reemerges just out of the shot on the right.

I'm 98% certain that this is Bradbury's Bergamot, Monarda bradburiana. (It's not in flower yet, so I can't be 100% sure.)

A few more shots of the Bigleaf Snowbell:

Gorgeous! I got such a charge when I first spotted this plant. ("Come look! What is it, what is it, what is it?!")

The flowers look as though they should be wonderfully fragrant... they had a light scent but I wouldn't exactly call it pleasant.

A similar shrub is American Snowbell (Styrax americanus). That plant has smaller leaves and fewer flowers per raceme.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, or into the inky depths of The Devil's Urn. I've just been busy.

After the craft show at Homestead Hollow this weekend things should settle down a bit.

I was quite a bit more cranky than usual around tax time. On one particular no good, horrible, really bad day, I felt an overpowering urge to punch something. (I did in fact actually kick something, which is not really my usual style.)

But I stopped at the mailbox on my way into town, and my bad mood fizzled away.

Because I got a present.

Ah... Better than a Margarita. Perfect timing.

Thanks Tom! (That's a link to his blog The Art and Farm Report, which he doesn't update a lot, so you'll probably have to depend on El of Fast Grow the Weeds for the actual Farm Report part.) Click here for pictures of Tom's art at the Foley Gallery.