The locals got together for a family brunch early this afternoon and then went to mom’s apartment to visit for a while and to enjoy watching her great grandchildren play. Since I saw him last, Silas has begun to walk. He’s not walking all the time yet, but he’s taken multiple, intentional steps. It’s been fun watching him progress and I look forward to continuing. His older cousin was there, as well, and I got pictures of him, too. I probably should keep track and try to balance out who gets their picture posted but I frankly can’t be bothered. They’re both adorable little boys and I enjoy them both.
I went out to photograph flowers this evening but came across this metallic wood boring beetle (family Buprestidae) on a black-eyed Susan. There are twelve dozen species of Acmaeodera in our area and one of the experts at BugGuide.net identified it as Acmaeodera pulchella, sometimes known as the flat-headed bald cypress borer. We’re not really in bald cypress country but they feed on a pretty wide variety of trees, so that’s not really an issue.
The blackberry lilies (Iris domestica and formerly Belamcanda chinensis) have started to bloom in the garden. We originally got this when I collected some seeds and planted them at our old house. We brought some here with us in 2006 and they have really taken hold. We sprinkle the seeds around and let them grow where they will. They aren’t nearly so aggressive as to be a problem and they are so pretty. I had a picture of the buds recently but this is the flower. They open in the morning and each individual flower only lasts a day, but they are born in profusion and soon we’ll have dozens of them in bloom, scattered around the yard.
As you may remember, we spent much of 2018 cleaning out Cathy’s mom’s house and getting it ready to sell. It went on the market the first week of September and we had a contract a couple months later. There were some delays going to closing but we got there on March 1 of this year and I think everyone was satisfied with the deal. The buyers, Ugo and Jennifer, were very nice and invited us to an Independence Day cookout. There was some rain but that didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. The smaller kids certainly didn’t mind, as they were playing in the inflatable water slide that Ugo and Jennifer had set up in the side yard. Before we left, they posed with Margaret for a few pictures. We had a good time talking with a few different people and of course it’s hard to go wrong with burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, and barbecued chicken.
I happened to be upstairs today and my friend and coworker Katie told me that she was going to pick up her daughter from art camp and bringing her back to the office for the rest of the day. I asked if she would mind if I took some pictures. I’ve done that off and on for years and it’s fun to look back through them and see how she’s grown. Today’s picture is with another friend and coworker, Kasia. I think this one turned out quite well. I don’t take a lot of pictures at work, as that’s not really something that’s done, but occasionally I do and I appreciate having at least some photographic record of people I’ve worked with.
One of my great uncles had a small collection of sharks teeth that somehow managed to find its way into our household. I’ve posted a photo of a sharks tooth from that collection in the past. This quartz arrowhead was in the same box. I don’t know where it was found although my guess would be North Carolina. I don’t even know for sure that it was found by him, but I assume it was. It’s a beautiful little thing. I’ve never really tried my hand at knapping stone but I would guess that quartz is not the easiest material to shape. If it’s all you have, however, I guess you’d learn and obviously someone did.
I know I’ve posted a picture of a similar dragonfly recently, but I didn’t get a lot of great pictures today so this is what I have. This is also, I think, a better picture than the one previously posted. I had originally labeled that one as a calico pennant (Celithemis elisa) but I’ve rethought that and have relabeled it as a Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina), the same as this one. It’s a handsome dragonfly, whatever it is. I had tough time getting close enough for this picture, so I’m relatively pleased with it.
We’re in that in between time, after the spring and early summer bloomers have finished up but before the late summer flowers have really started in earnest. There are a few things in bloom, including the day lilies and the buddleia are starting to bloom and attract bees and butterflies. The gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) has been blooming but doesn’t add a lot of color, having white flowers. Also, I don’t care how desperate you are for blooms, I don’t recommend you put this anywhere near your garden, unless that’s all you want. Pretty soon these buds will begin to open. They are Iris domestica, the blackberry lily, which until recently also went by the name Belamcanda chinensis and sometimes known as leopard lily. These have self-seeded around the yard but are well within the limits of what’s easy to control, if they come up where you don’t want them. I highly recommend them for any sunny garden.
When I was little we bounced on this hobby horse, made with a truck leaf spring to provide the bounce. Technically it isn’t 100% the same as the one we bounced on, as the spring has been replaced. It broke when an adult who shall remain nameless bounced on it, somewhere around 30 years ago. Although she doesn’t really have room for it there, mom has it in her apartment. Silas isn’t old enough to hold on and bounce on his own but he really enjoyed bouncing on it with his mom holding him. He’s a happy kid, in general, and smiles a lot, but watching his face while being bounced on the horse was so precious. Silas continues growing apace and although he’s not quite walking as of today, it’s definitely in the any-day-now category.
Steve and his family were out of town for the weekend so it was a smaller group for dinner this evening, but a really nice time.
There are quite a few really amazing coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) varieties now and if I had the space and the time and the money, I’d consider a collection of the as one aspect of a large garden. They vary in color from the “standard” pinkish-purple bracts and with orange spikes, as seen here, to all sort of oranges, yellow, and darker purples. They flower shapes vary, as well, and they are all lovely. Sadly, there are enough plant-eating insects that enjoy them that they don’t often last in pristine condition. Photographing them in their prime means getting them when the flowers first open, because the bracts get holes in them almost immediately. Still, they provide color in a time when not a lot is blooming.
The American robins (Turdus migratorius) nesting outside our front door are back to raise a second clutch. There were three in the first batch and another three now, although this photo only shows one. I don’t stay out to take pictures for very long, as that tends to keep the parents away. On the other hand, they built a next in a high traffic area and we’re not going to stop using our front door for them. They grow quite quickly and we watched the last set fledge and these three will be out before you know it. I’m thinking about doing putting something on this ledge to keep them from building another nest here next year, though. There are plenty of other nesting sites for them to use.
We went to the annual Erick’s Hope (http://erickshope.org/) benefit this evening and it was good to see people that we don’t see nearly often enough. That’s our fault, of course, we just get busy and forget to schedule anything and time goes by and it doesn’t happen. When something is on the calendar and we go, it reminds us and we try to do a little better, but life seems to be pretty crowded these days. Of course today we had Dorothy and Abba with us, who leave tomorrow on their cross-country adventure, so we didn’t want to stay out too late. But we didn’t want to miss it, either. Two of the people we always enjoy seeing are Amy and Melanie, who we can generally count on seeing as they manage the silent auction.
We had a nice sunset this evening. It’s become summer with highs in the 90s this week and doesn’t promise anything nicer for a while. There will be thunderstorms, I’m sure and we actually could use some rain. A good, day-long soaking rain would not be unappreciated, but we’re unlikely to get that any time soon. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the sunset this evening, which progressed from mild coloring in a few wispy clouds to this deep colored sky to the northwest just before it got dark.
I went out to the vacant lot next to my office today. It was quite warm but the weather patterns promise hotter weather ahead. I got a few pictures of an orbweaver spider (Leucauge venusta) but since I posted one of those recently, I’ve decided to go with this pennant, probably a calico pennant (Celithemis elisa). I also got one, not so good photo of a tailed blue, but I’m holding out for a better picture before I post one of those.
Note: I labeled this as a calico pennant (Celithemis elisa) without paying close attention to detail. I’m relabeling it as a Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina).
After helping Jean pack up all the paraphernalia from yesterday’s wedding and reception and then a quick trip into town for breakfast (since the resort punted on supplying the complementary breakfast they had promised), Cathy, Dorothy and I went for a walk to some stone ruins on the property. When we got to the ruins, Cathy (I think) said something about it being a good place for snakes. Sure enough, there was a mid-sized eastern ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) sunning itself in a crack in the wall. A few minutes later, when Cathy screamed, Dorothy and I assumed it was another snake but it was this eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus), just a little closer than Cathy had been prepared for. I was able to get a few good pictures before it darted away. This is a male, evidenced by the blue patch just visible on the lower part of the neck. It also has a pretty significant infestation of orange mites or some other sort of pathogen.
As mentioned yesterday, we went to southern Virginia for a wedding. This is one of the pictures I took at the wedding, with Maria and Evan, now husband and wife, recessing after the ceremony. The weather was pretty good. A little warm for my taste but then, if I was comfortable, most everyone else would have been shivering. There was the threat of rain but it held off and everything went beautifully. Maria was even more lovely than ever and the wedding went off with only one hitch (they got hitched). Here’s to the happy couple.
Our good friend Maria is getting married tomorrow and we drove to southern Virginia this afternoon. We offered to transport a few things so we stopped in northern Virginia to pick up two corn hole games, a croquet set, four trash cans, and 14 plants, plus a few other odds and ends. We had hoped to have my mom’s Toyota minivan but alternator trouble meant we went in the Mercury Villager, instead, which is a bit smaller. We managed to get everything in, although Dorothy had a mandevilla on the end of the back seat with her.
This firefly, a beetle in family Lampyridae, probably in the genus Photinus, was on a weed in the back of our garden this evening. According to BugGuide.net there are 34 described species in this genus and identification of a single specimen by morphology alone is often impossible. So, I’m not even going to try. It’s a firefly and that’s good enough. One interesting fact about fireflies is that females in the genus Photuris are known to lure in males of Photinus species and eat them in order to obtain a defensive, steroid-like compound that they contain.
I went out looking for pictures as usual this afternoon, when I got home from work. There is Campanula in bloom in the yard, and I took some pictures of those flowers. They don’t tend to come out the same color in photographs as they are in real life. Not entirely sure why. Then I moved over to the gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides), which is a real attraction to the bees. It’s quite invasive and I really would recommend against planting it in the strongest language, but if you already have it, you might as well enjoy the bees. There were a few honey bees but mostly it was the common eastern bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) that were moving quickly from flower to flower.
I was in the back yard photographing a few different insects this afternoon. I started with a little, green sweat bee on a weed by the patio, but those didn’t turn out very well. Simply not enough light to get a short enough exposure. Then I got down on the ground and took a bunch of pictures of some little leaf hoppers (Family Cicadellidae). Those turned out well enough, although the little critters are pretty small so it’s hard to get a good, sharp photo with the equipment that I have. Also, they were somewhat back lit, so getting the proper exposure was tricky.
Then Dorothy and I were over near the gooseberry bush and while Dorothy was picking gooseberries for some individual pies for dessert, I was able to get close to this little, baby eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus). It’s hard to get the scale from this picture but the little bunny could easily fit on the palm of my hand. At first he was underneath the leaves of the wild violets that are everywhere in the yard. Then slowly he came out and I was able to get a bunch of good pictures from fairly close range.