Friday, June 19, 2009

Daylily garden

I knew, in a theoretical kind of way, that there were a lot of varieties of Daylilies. It didn't really prevent my non-stop gaping at a Daylily garden, though.

One of our wildflower group couples gave us a tour of their garden this week.

Their main focus is Daylilies -- they have hundreds of them.

I doubt I'll ever be as dedicated a gardener.

But I'm lucky to have friends who are.

All the types were labeled, but non-dedicated non-gardener that I am, I didn't take down any names.

If you're dying to know about any particular one, I can probably find out.


Daylilies are Hemerocallis sp. The name in Greek is a combination of Hemera (day) and Kallos (beautiful).

I wrote about words using Kallos before, when talking about Beautyberry. Every time I come across it in a botanical name, I still crack up, remembering that comment about a track team and their cry of "Callipygious!"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bird's Nest fungus

I know I'm living up to the most common descriptive written in my old yearbooks ("weird") when my first reaction to finding Bird's Nest fungus is, "Oh, I've been wanting to see those!"

But it's true. If I'd had a Most Wanted list for fungi, this one would've been near the top. I should have prepped myself a bit better though - I didn't realize that they were so tiny. (That green towering thing on the left is an onion.)

It's apparently very much a fungus of bark or wood mulch. The "eggs" contain the spores, which are splashed out by rain. So I'm thinking that our mulch probably already contained the spores when we bought it.


Key to the Bird's Nest fungi. I believe this one is Cyathus striatus.

Other Most Wanted?
Dead Man's fingers!
Any variety of Stinkhorn fungus!


Hmm, there's a blog carnival/festival/circus for everything else in the world, but not one for fungi? Or am I just missing it?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Soap meeting

I always have so much fun at our Alabama Soapmaker meetings, and this was our largest ever: 101 attendees. At least a third of them were from out of state this year. There were so many new people that I didn't get to meet them all.

To inspire creativity, we participate in swaps. This year I signed up for the lotion bar swap, figuring that it would force me to work on my formulating. (I've made them before, but hadn't really ever been happy with them.)

Mine was still a bit greasier than what I was aiming for, but it sure worked well on softening my rough elbows. So I called it "Elbow Grease". It still needs some tinkering.

After I see all the swap goodies, I usually end up wishing I'd entered two or three more. This year it was the Shampoo Bar swap that I was especially envious of. Dianne always has such adorable packaging, and her treatment of the swap items was no different.

Cute, huh?

Shopping is one of my favorite parts of the meeting, and this year we had more vendors than ever.

This is one of those times I wish for smell-o-vision.

We also have table space for members' garage-sale items. If you're lucky, you can pay for your meeting expenses this way.

We usually have a mixture of lectures and demonstrations. Carol demonstrated her company's cutter, and Darlene (who's really from Georgia, but we claim her as an honorary Alabamian) showed us how to make sugarcube scrubbies.

There's a camera showing the up-close action during demos. This is Alison's lotion-making class. (Click to enlarge.)

But sometimes you just have to get up close in person.

Theda showed us how to make liquid soap.

Tammy is the "Mud Queen" and sells all manner of Dead Sea salts and mud products. Here she is demonstrating the proper use of gloves and goggles.

That evening, she had a mud party in her room, and I was able to take many incriminating photographs.

I'm hoping my blackmail money will start arriving any minute now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Weevil party at the nearest daisy, pass it on...

I think these weevils are in the tribe Madopterini. Though I might just be leaning towards that conclusion since I like the name so much.

I wasn't even aware that there were such things as tribes, taxonomically speaking, until I started trying to look up bugs. Just as species can be further divided into subspecies, families are sometimes further divided into subfamily, tribe, and subtribe.

Madopterini: More likely to march on Rome, or to perform straightjacket escapes while upside down and underwater?

All zoological tribes end in -ini, apparently. (I would not have been able to resist naming several of them after Italian operatic composers.)


A professor at the University of Florida has a nice series of pages about writing scientific papers. They include sections on species name formation, Greek and Latin words adopted into English, pronunciation of scientific names, and several other interesting topics.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Prickly pear

I was surprised the first time I saw cactus growing in the wild here in the southeast. Outside of cactus gardens, it's not the kind of plant you tend to find in the suburbs. But it's a native in most eastern states.

This is Opuntia humifusa. The upright tall version is Opuntia stricta. There are three other prickly pears in Alabama: Opuntia austrina, Opuntia pusilla, and Opuntia monacantha. But only humifusa is in Blount county, and it's the only member of the cactus family that's native here.

My book says it grows in sandstone outcrops, limestone glades, and open, thin-soiled woods.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Zygodactyl Coccyzus & the cut direct

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus).

Giving me...

The cut direct.


Cuckoos are zygodactyl, like woodpeckers. Click that link for further bird-foot edification.

Friday Ark.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

New chickens

The newer chickens never seem in the mood for portraiture.

We came up on the losing end of the chicken lottery this time. Out of eight mystery chick picks, five were cockerels (males), and only three were pullets (females).

What kind of homesteading woman am I, if I couldn't watch what had to happen?

The squeamish kind, I guess.

Hubby is just as content to do it all himself, I think, to avoid having me standing over his shoulder. "Offering suggestions," as I see it... "Bossing me around," according to him. "And stressing me out."

We made the rookie mistake (according the the Backyard Chicken Forum) of cooking them without letting them rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours, so they were a little tough.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Why are my blackberries not getting ripe?

A friend told me this story tonight, and I figured I'd post it here to help blackberry-less internet wanderers.

My friend's blackberry bushes seemed to be on track for a banner year. Tons of blossoms. Scads of little berries forming. But never any ripe fruit.

What was going on? She searched the internet high and low, finding no likely answers. She became increasingly frustrated. Why were her #$%^&*@ blackberries not getting ripe?! It didn't make sense.

Then she found the answer by accident, when she arrived home in time to catch her husband lurking near the garden. He was eating all the ripe berries directly off the vine, and had been doing so for the last two weeks.

"That answer wasn't on the internet," she said.

Now it is.

Monday, June 01, 2009


The Blount county bloggers met at Annie's over the weekend! Her job may be a pain, but it has made Annie Linda-Hamilton-buff.

I'm so jealous. I'd do anything to look like Annie. (Except eat well and get a lot of exercise.) If I'm found dead next week, it'll be due to Annie killing me for showing this. But the light was so nice, I couldn't resist.

Also present were CPP and TCE. We should have taken a pic of all our feet together or something, but of course I had that idea on the way home. Maybe next time, when I hope that MM can join us too.

These photos were all taken on our "weed walk" at Annie's place.

Pink phlox. I can't provide scientific names for most plants blooming after April, since they all seem to have 50 look-alikes that vary only in the slightest details.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) on Blanket Flower.

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia).

Collection of colored glass from Arkansas.

Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis).

Mexican Hat. This and the Blanket flower aren't natives here, but are good plants for butterflies and quail. Update: I think I was wrong about them not being natives.

One of the skullcaps, possibly Hairy skullcap (Scutellaria elliptica).

A daylily I can't remember the name of.

Possibly a summer bluet? I'm not familiar with this plant and can't find a picture that matches well.

A fern I couldn't identify.

The lovely Lika.

The lovely Grendel.

Thanks for having us over, Annie! It was great to meet you, TCE and CPP!