Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Me & my baby view the eclipse

We got up early to view the lunar eclipse. Clouds came and went, and there was a bit of fog, but overall it was a nice show.

When it was gone, baby it was gone. Zero, zip, total darkness.

Captivating corona.

By the dark of the moon.


I've been wanting to use that headline for such a long time. (It's the title of a book I've been meaning to read. It's only been 16 years -- maybe I'll get to it soon.)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ironweed gathering

Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor

I stopped to take a picture of this butterfly flittering over New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis).

Then I started noticing just how many other bugs were enjoying the only non-wilted plant within eyesight.

Female Eastern Amberwing, Perithemis tenera

I could swear she was smiling at me.

Ailanthus Webworm Moth, Atteva punctella.

Ready for Halloween.

Then there was this bee. Or fly. Or bee-fly. He was lovely but I got trapped in a bee/fly-mire when trying to identify him.

Same with this skipper.

There were at least 3 or 4 other insects too small or too fast to capture. Even tinier bees. Ants. A white moth.


Please feel free to suggest IDs if you know them!

Friday, August 24, 2007

I vant to be left alone

Both the Muscovy (above) and the Runner duck had to be chased off their nests. They weren't happy being forced to abandon their eggs, rotten and stinking though they were.

That poor Muscovy. She keeps trying to nest and having no luck. I think the only thing she did wrong this time was to pick the period with the record number of consecutive 100°+ days. She's not much of a weather forecaster I guess.


Friday Ark.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


The cat who's trying to adopt us.

I should say, the wild tomcat who's trying to adopt us.

The wary cat who won't let us near him, but who will handle all the food we might happen to leave lying around.

The wily cat who really needs to go to the vet but can't (so far) be caught.

Fresh from a recent Odd Couple viewing, Hubby named him Oscar.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Nothing much has been happening. Work, work, work. Hot, hot, hot. Dry, dry, dry. That's about it.

We went to Mom's over the weekend. While everyone else worked on birthday-present-oddjobs, I played with my nieces.

It was of course very borrrrring for children to be stuck in a house full of old people and no computers.

My old Johnny West horses.

Ye olde styrofoam watering hole.

Elvis thought it was all very childish.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ginger Lemonade

Ugh. That's 43°C outside, 26°C inside.

Healthy Chef Alex's Sweet Ginger Lemonade (Serves 4)

4 cups filtered water
4 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed ginger juice
2 Tbsp. raw honey

You're supposed to make the ginger juice by grating fresh ginger and squeezing the pulp with your hand. Then you're supposed to simmer everything together until the honey is melted. Of course this makes warm lemonade, and if you want cool lemonade like most rational people, you have to wait for it to chill.

I'm glad to have gotten the recipe from Healthy Chef Alex, but this is how I really make it:

Karen's Quick and Dirty Ginger Lemonade (Serves 1)
(When you're in a hurry and don't have time to worry with all that)

2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice
2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 cup tap water
Small amount (to taste) bottled minced ginger

Stir it all up, and plunk in a few ice cubes. No waiting.

The amount of ginger you have to use is miniscule. The ginger I linked to is so fine that it practically dissolves.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

No show

We didn't have much luck viewing the meteors. (We never do, we don't stay up that late.)

So I played around with the camera a while. I call this an artistic amount of blurriness.

That's not really a street sign, it says "old fisherman crossing". I would've taken it down, but Hubby likes it.

Birmingham, or Centerpoint at least, is in the direction of that glow in the sky.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Duckspeak 101

"Stay away from my nest."


Last Friday's Ark is here.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

In summer when the days were long

Fairy dreams of green-wood fern

Feather from the wing of time

Summer's nimble mansion

Berries harsh and crude

My stem was fair, my bud was green

Bloom I strove to raise

Hidden secret of eternal bliss


In summer
Fairy Feather
Summer's Berries
My Bloom Hidden

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Fallen Sycamore leaf. (Platanus occidentalis.)

They seem to take the drought stress worse than most other trees here.

I walked out of a meeting last night and felt like I was stepping into a sauna. It's hot, it's been hot, it will be hot... but you really don't expect 90°F at 9:00 PM. (That's 32°C, for those of you in the metric world.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Snake doctors

Dragonflies are tough. I can't make this one exactly fit any of the pictures on BugGuide or Giff Beaton's site. I think it's one of the Libellula species but I'm not even sure of that.

Possibly a Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta). (!)
Or Bar-winged Skimmer (Libellula axilena).
Or Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans).
Or I'm just fixated on Skimmers and it's not actually one of those. None of them look quite right.

I think this one is a female Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia).


WikiThings I learned while trying to ID these dragonflies (sometimes called Snake Doctors here in the south):

The fossil record shows a Permian-period dragonfly with a whopping wingspan of almost 30 inches (76 cm).

The largest modern-day dragonfly has a wingspan of 7.5 inches (19 cm), and the smallest reaches only .75 inch (20 mm).

They are the world's fastest insects.

They have nearly a 360° range of vision.

Libellula was also the name of some prototype aircraft with odd wing designs.


If anyone knows what the first one is, please leave a comment or email me.


Nuthatch has given me a positive ID: female Slaty Skimmer. And a new word: pruinose! (Having a whitish, waxy, powdery covering or bloom on the surface.) Thanks Nuthatch.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Baby bluebirds

We have two bluebird boxes that get a lot of use, though never at the same time. This was the second brood this year.

I tried getting closer but they're all too skittish for that. The pictures are greatly magnified, so the quality isn't wonderful. But you can sense the cuteness.

I love that little patch of blue on the tail.

There are three or four fledglings... they won't hold still long enough to count. The parents are still feeding them.

Eastern Bluebird, Sialia sialis


Friday Ark

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Tasty, if not beautiful

I don't know where my husband comes up with some of his ideas. He somehow got it into his head that he had to make bread. Or rather, that we had to make bread.

One of the scary things about getting older is some of the things that just pop out of your mouth, like "It has been 25 years since I made bread." The first time I said such an old-person thing I really shocked myself.

But it's true. Back then I was living alone for the first time, in that apartment with no air conditioning across from Vulcan's bare backside. Back before the internets. Before VCRs, or at least before most people could afford them. Due to scheduling mixups I wound up with a lot of free time that quarter. And that's the only time I've ever made bread.

To tell you the truth, it was a lot easier than I remembered. It's also very forgiving. We had an afternoon full of recipe-misreading and recriminations, punctuated with fits of hysterical laughter.

That means another 3 cups of flour, not the original 3 cups!
You said 125°, not 115°!
That's not what I'd call kneading!

When it was done it was delicious. I gorged myself. I ate so much bread that I gave myself a stomachache.


Well I was a bit embarrassed to have such a fine baker as Susan see our less-than-perfect loaves, but I think she's just happy to know that folks are baking bread. Go check out one of her special projects, A Year in Bread.

Linking up

Things you should check out:

Festival of the Trees
Circus of the Spineless