Sunday, July 20, 2008


I have a new computer that's taking a little getting used to. The pros are obvious: My m and n keys are no longer worn out, the case isn't cracked at the seams, and boy, is it zippy fast.

Really the only con is that many things work differently. As an official old person, I think I'm obliged to resist change. Or whine about it a little, at least.

Photoshop Elements will do so much more than my old mini-featured generic program. I couldn't resist the urge to make my bug photo look like a cartoon, as you see. But the features aren't intuitively obvious, and they're not much like the old Photoshop 3 I used to know.

You people with wide-screen computers were so sweet not to tell me how off-kilter I've been. I like my new screen, but some things (mainly my blog header) appear centered incorrectly. I haven't figured out how to fix that yet.

The screen is also very bright. So I may have trouble getting the photo levels right for a while.

I have a spiffy new Bluetooth mouse. No cords, it's great! But it has a bit of a tendency to drift to the left all on its own when I use my usual sofa-pillow-as-mousepad.

I will figure it all out eventually.

Monday, July 14, 2008

More Zinnias

A mixture of Persian Carpet and
Old Mexico Zinnias (Zinnia haageana).

The catalog says that these make good cut flowers. And they do... but you'd better have a short vase. Most of the stems are only 3 - 4 inches long (8 - 10 cm).

I like these two types together. I had both last year, but made the mistake of planting them too close to something taller. They ended up in the shade half the day, and didn't produce well.

The catalog says 2" flowers (5 cm) and 2' plants (61 cm), but so far mine are about half of that.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I told people that I'd spent most of last week sticking my head out the window, yelling, "Inconceivable!" Storm after storm passed by, edging just to the north or just to the south.

How this line missed us, I have no idea. Storms here generally march from left to right, or rather, west to east. We are in the area outlined by the white box, yet once again, we didn't get a drop of rain. Inconceivable!

Friday, July 11, 2008


We planted the garden pretty late.

long skinny vegetables

So all we're getting now, in the way of vegetables, are long, skinny things.

Japanese Eggplant, Zephyr Squash, Cucumbers

Japanese Eggplant, Zephyr Squash, Cucumbers. No tomatoes yet.

embarraassing amount of cucumbers

The little cucumber that could. We bought what turned out to be an amazingly good plant, I think from the local Ace Hardware. Never bitter, despite my horribly uneven watering. And really, really prolific! This amount is from one day. (One plant.) I see cucumber-pushing in my future.


Don't forget the Friday Ark.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The size of things

When we had 20+ chickens, it was often impossible to tell who was laying what. I never was sure which individual was laying the pinkies in the egg picture above (in the the new header)1.

When you only have two chickens, it's easy to tell the difference in the eggs.

On the left is an egg from the Marans hen. They're supposed to be very dark eggs, but sometimes they turn out speckled. You don't find chickens advertised as laying spotted eggs, but most of our hatchery Marans did, from time to time.

On the right is an egg from the Easter Egger. They are usually green or blue. This one is such a pale green that it didn't come through well in the photo.

Common wisdom has it that chickens lay fewer, but larger, eggs as they age. I've found that to be true for all the types we've had except the Marans. Hers continue to be smallish, but she's laying more often now than ever. All our chickens' eggs have gotten lighter in color each successive season.


1That seems to be the picture that people remember most from the blog. (Every time I look at it, it bothers me that I didn't get them lined up a little straighter.) It was from my first month of blogging, so I suppose you could say it's been all downhill from there. Click here for the larger, right-side-up original version.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Surprise in the driveway

Timber rattlesnake! Crotalus horridus.

A big one.

His tail was raised but he never rattled it.

He was beautiful.

And a little scary.

I really wasn't that close - this is max telephoto zooming.

I didn't realize that snakes had eyebrows.

They make him look agressive, even though he wasn't.

Do snakes bristle their scales? It seemed like he was doing that.


They are sometimes called Canebreak rattlesnakes in south Alabama, but are apparently the same species.

There are six poisonous snakes in Alabama, but I've only encountered three of them. And this is only the third time I've ever seen a rattlesnake. (I've run across lots of Copperheads and Water Moccasins, a.k.a. Cottonmouths.)

I looked it up, and the eyebrow scale is called the supraocular scale.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Peppermint Stick Zinnia

We were late in planting the garden, so even the quick-starters are just starting to be productive. Last year, I wasted a lot of money on exotic seeds that never germinated. Since I couldn't be sure if it was the seeds or it was me at fault, I decided to keep the flower experiments simple until I had a clue about what I was doing.

Zinnias are easy. Zinnias truly are "Flowers for Dummies". So I bought almost every Zinnia mix that Johnny's offers.

The Peppermint Stick is supposed to be a "fully double bloom".

They're not exactly turning out like that, though. (Compare with the image in that last link.)

Maybe they need more water. I kind of like them this way, though.

One of the "small percentage of solid colors" they warn you about.

This one's trying to go for "double" I guess. Sometimes one of the petals is a solid color like this. I found that if I cut them at this point, those inner petals never unfurl. They seem to stay frozen in time at the moment of cutting.

Like all the other Zinnias, they have excellent staying power as a cut flower.

Monday, July 07, 2008

How to make it rain

Install drip irrigation.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Funny Bunny Sunday

I dreamed that I took my favorite photo ever, and decided that the definitive title for it would be Funny Bunny Sunday. My husband pointed out (in the dream) that the picture was of our cat Ginger, and not a rabbit. "It'll still work," I said.

I sat with camera in hand for at least an hour, obsessed with recreating my dream. I waited for Ginger to do anything remotely funny-bunnyish. But mostly he was just interested in sleeping.

"You are not putting that on the internet."*

Kind of bunny.

Kind of funny.

Ginger loves to crawl up my husband's chest, arch his back high in the air, then settle very, very close to the face. I tease him. "That cat looooves you."


*I was able to change his mind.


P.S. I forgot to add a link to the Circus of the Spineless earlier. Sorry, Doug!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Beaker and TV

Beaker has become pretty excited about television lately. Particularly about trying to out-voice it. If the TV's on, you can throw that "parakeets aren't loud birds" business out the window. It's a new habit, and I'm not sure what brought it on. Maybe he thinks we should read more.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Strange orange moth

My husband photographed this gigantic orange moth on a recent business trip. Thankfully, something this odd is usually pretty easy to identify on the internet. It didn't take long to find out that this is a Regal Moth, also known as Royal Walnut Moth, Citheronia regalis.

It would be odd enough if it were the size of a normal moth. But according to Wikipedia, this is the biggest moth north of Mexico. (That's weight, not wing span, though that's not shabby either.) In this lighter wide-angle view, you can compare him to the door hardware to see how large he is.

This was on the door of the hotel, so maybe he's a watch-moth. I know several people who would hesitate to open that door!


This one was found in Virginia, but they are at home anywhere in the east, I believe.

Submitted to the Friday Ark.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Pre-teen spirit

My cutie-pie niece, in the shirt she's not allowed to wear to school any more.

I can't remember if she was actually sent home, or just asked not to wear it again.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I got them at BestBug!

What strange little insects, that looked like miniature beetles with longish snouts. Turns out, that's more or less the definition of weevils.

These are in the subfamily Baridinae, probably Odontocorynus scutellumalbum. What a mouthful of a name! It may change though, because according to Wiki, "the higher classification of weevils is in a state of flux". I imagine it's an exciting time for entomologists.

Several were feeding on Rudbeckia. Not being familiar with weevils yet, I'd temporarily named the photo files "besbug" as shorthand for black-eyed-susan-bug. It started me thinking, what if people were as interested in insects as in electronics. When showing off your creepy-crawlies, you could tell your friends that you got a really good deal at BestBug.

Look twice

Anyway, I found another one on a daisy.

I didn't notice until processing the photos back home, that there was something sinister lurking below.

What lies beneath

Eek! I think that little weevil is in for a big surprise.

I wish I'd realized the whole picture when I was there. I wonder who came out alive. Who won Best Bug? In hopes of the preservation of local wildflowers, I think I'd have to root for the spider.


In case you've got a dark computer screen, let me lighten that last picture up for you.