Monday, April 27, 2009

Acoustic Cafe

Yellow Bearded Iris

My wildflower buddies and I made another visit to the Acoustic Cafe Amphitheater.

Steve Masterson

Steve very graciously took us on another guided tour. Most of my flower photos didn't turn out well (it was too sunny) - the ones from last year are here.

Mabel and the formerly perfectly fine soaker hose.

Mabel's the new pup on the block, and she's very friendly. She's still at the chewing stage though, and will probably be on vacation during the upcoming festival, so as to save tent ropes and such.

Sadly, the lovable Buster passed away since last year. Lucy is as aloof as ever.


Tadpole walked with us. Her sister (Sarah) joined us briefly, but was skittish of the camera. Katy the calico slept through the whole thing.

Fiery Searcher

On our walk, we spotted a Fiery Searcher, Calosoma scrutator. They're also known as Caterpillar Hunters.

Another view

So brilliant in the sun! If not the most beautiful beetle, he's at least in the top ten. He was large, as beetles go, and very fast.

Take off your shoes

Also new since last year, this exquisite hardwood floor (Ash).

There are some wonderfully worked details. I didn't forget to photograph them, but I did forget to remove the lens hood. (The lens hood is great for reducing flare when you're taking pictures in the sun. When using the flash, it causes horrible shadows. Duh.)

Skull tree

The skull tree. Still wishing I'd thought of that. Now that we have Jasmine the bone-stealing dog, we don't find the number of skulls that we once did. But I'll remember Steve's advice for cleaning such things: stick them in an ant bed. Reeeeally wish I'd known that before the antler incident.

The Acoustic Cafe is all about String music, and this is its museum. (Click for a larger version.)

It includes:
John Hartford's bowler hat,
Sam Bush's whiskey bottle,
Vassar Clements' pipe, and
Duke Bardwell's photos of playing with Elvis.

Now, Steve knows that while my friends and I do enjoy string music, we are pretty much totally ignorant about it. "You may not know his name," he said, speaking of John Hartford, "but you know his song, Gentle on My Mind."

I didn't realize though, til just now when looking up his links, that I did know John Hartford. He was on the PBS special Songs of the Civil War, that I had taped years ago, and watched dozens of times.

Here he is singing my favorite version of my favorite Civil-War-era song, Lorena:


Just lovely.

I looked for another song I remembered from the show, Sweet Honey in the Rock's rendition of Climbing Jacob's Ladder. Couldn't find the video, but I believe this contains the audio:


OK, one more. Another favorite from that show was Hard Times Come Again No More, sung by Kate and Anna McGarrigle and their families. I found this somewhat later version by them that I actually like better, and it has the added bonus of Emmylou Harris:


Rufus Wainwright is in both versions. Here's a link to the original, with a much younger Rufus and Martha.

Waiting to greet you at the Acoustic Cafe Amphitheater...

Friday, April 10, 2009


I didn't get a better photo before he noticed us. He slithered away so fast I could hardly believe it.

I am really, really glad that venomous snakes don't tend to move that fast, or at least, not that fast towards you. (I have seen Copperheads move fairly quickly, but away.)

Anyway, this is a Water Snake, I think the Brown Water Snake (Nerodia taxispilota).

They supposedly have poor dispositions (they'll bite if you pick them up), but if you ask me, any snake that runs away from me has a disposition that I enjoy.


Submitted to the Friday Ark.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Goo to you

Big spring rains = orange goo.

This year we had an overabundance of the Cedar-quince rust (gooey bits seen here) and not so much Cedar-apple rust (noodly orange meatballs).

Sporulation, my new favorite word.


These photos are really from about 3 weeks ago - I forgot to post them earlier. I have been forgetting a lot of things lately.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Conflict of interests

By coincidence, the state meetings of both the Alabama Master Gardeners and the Alabama Wildflower Society were held in Huntsville this past weekend.

I had a conflict of interests!

Actually it wasn't too bad, except for half a day on Saturday, when the AMG was winding down and the AWS was beginning.

We did not get as much time at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens as we would have liked.

This is their 115+ year old dogwood.

A trillium that doesn't know how to count. (It's supposed to have only three petals.)

A quadrillium...?

At a garden we toured, my favorite feature was this granite wall that the owner had built out of free scraps.

I didn't take my "good" camera due to forecasts for lousy weather, and of course ended up wishing I'd had it.

Especially when we hiked the Monte Sano sinks trail. I saw Squawroot for the first time...

...I didn't realize it was so big!

One night the banquet hall was late opening up, so I wandered the neighborhood and photographed enchanted medieval castles. (Or possibly it was just a backlit church with swirling clouds.)

I had a wonderful time, but boy are my feet tired.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

With parakeet accompaniment

It was more spectacular before I thought to grab the camera, of course.

I grew up hearing this called sheet lightning or heat lightning, but to be correct I think it's actually called intra-cloud lightning.

I didn't realize, until playing it back, how loudly the frogs out in the pond were singing. And inside, you can hear Beaker (our parakeet, aka budgie) squawking, whistling, and talking. At around 11-12 seconds he says, "crazy bird". You'll have to have your ears pricked and the sound turned up to hear it.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Chick flick

After a week, we moved the chicks to a much larger container. Wow, were they happy about that. They started a sort of fighting almost right away. I believe they are establishing pecking order.

You can see them doing it in this short video. It brings to mind that chest-bumping thing that boys do, doesn't it?!

I don't remember our previous chicks doing this when they were so young, but it's been a while, so I may be wrong.

I hope it's not just the males doing this. That would mean we have 6 or 7 males out of 8 chickens. Eep.


Please excuse the ratty-looking board the waterer is sitting on. We're recycling!


The reason we had to give so much information when buying chicks, was, I suspect, the whole NAIS thing. It's basically so the government can track livestock.

In the case of chickens, it's so that they can come kill all your chickens if the Avian flu ever hits here.