Book of the Black Bass

Book of the Black Bass

Book of the Black Bass

The Book of the Black Bass, by James A. Henshall, M.D., was first published in 1881. The Preface to the 1881 edition includes begins as follows:

This book owes its origin to a long-cherished desire on the part of the author, to give to the Black Bass its proper place among game fishes, and to create among anglers, and the public generally, an interest in a fish that has never been so fully appreciated as its merits deserve, because of the want of suitable tackle for its capture, on the one hand, and a lack of information regarding its habits and economic value on the other.

Cathy came across this 1904 edition in her parents’ basement and we decided to keep it, as much for its lovely cover as for it’s fascinating contents. Although this is the 1904 edition, it’s actually from the eighth printing, in 1915. It details, of course, the largemouth and smallmouth bass, Micropterus Salmoides and Micropterus dolomieu, respectively. According to Britanica, there are “about six species” in the genus while Wikipedia claims 14 recognized species. Regardless, it’s the largemouth bass that I’m most familiar with, having them in our pond in Pennsylvania. I’ve only caught smallmouth bass when traveling, most notably in the lakes of east central Ontario.

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Horseshoe and Spikes

Horseshoe and Spikes

Horseshoe and Spikes

At the top of our driveway Cathy had a few potted plants. Well, I say a few but there are quite a lot, really. It’s actually a nice garden and since we aren’t going to be putting our car in the garage in any case, it doesn’t really matter that it’s blocking them out. On occasion I’ve had to move a few plants just to get something large in or out but generally there’s enough of a path for that. In addition to the plants there are a few “ornaments” of one kind or another. I don’t recall where this horseshoe came from, or the iron spikes, for that matter. I particularly like their color when they are wet from the rain.

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Honey Bee on Rudbekia

Honey Bee on Rudbekia Flower

Honey Bee on Rudbekia Flower

As I’ve mentioned before, the garden is somewhat overrun with Rudbekia (a.k.a. black-eyed Susan) flowers. The bees don’t mind. There are, actually, other things in bloom, but none nearly as obvious. The mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum), for instance, is very popular with the bees of all sorts. But their flowers are much less showy. This afternoon I took a bunch of pictures of various bees on the black-eye Susan flowers. This one is a western honey bee, Apis mellifera. Contrary to popular belief, they are in no real danger of all dying out. You can, to a large degree, thank capitalism for that, although I think the danger was considerably exagerated, in any case.

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Kai

Kai

Kai

We had a family dinner night this evening at mom’s new apartment and dining hall. I don’t want to give the impression that I only enjoy these get togethers because of the two grand nephews (and it isn’t strictly speaking even true). Nevertheless, I do enjoy seeing them. Kai is such a cute little boy. He wouldn’t smile for me until his mom said, “Kai, can you cry for Uncle Henry?” This is the grin we got from that request. It’s when he smile that he reminds me most of Ralph, which is good, but also hard. I love this little guy. He’s his own person, obviously, and he has a lot of his mom in his looks, but there are moments when he looks just like his grandpa at that age. Not that I remember his grandpa at that age. When Ralph was Kai’s age I wasn’t quite two months old. But there are pictures.

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Purple Coneflowers

Purple Coneflower

Purple Coneflower

Cathy brought some coneflowers in this evening to put in a vase in or dining room. Actually, they got knocked over when she was cutting the grass so she figured we might as well enjoy them as they die. I think they look really nice against the rich brown of this china cabinet. As you might be able to tell, the china cabinet is empty. We’ll put things in it but we haven’t gotten around to it yet. For now, the things that could go in it are in boxes and taking up space that could be used in better ways. But finding them and figuring out what we want where is a bit too much for us right now.

We don’t bring flowers in very often but I’m always glad when we do. One of the nicest photos I’ve taken, actually, is a vase of flowers, mostly roses, that Cathy arranged. It was sitting on our kitchen table and the late afternoon sun was coming in and lighting it from the side so the background went fairly dark and the flowers glowed nicely. I’ve made a few prints of that one, taken in 2010, and it’s been fairly popular. I don’t think this one will win any awards but I do like the colors and it’s a relaxing picture, to me.

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I’d Rather Be Fishing, Part 2

Fishing Lure Hooks

Fishing Lure Hooks

The other day I posted a picture of dad’s jon boat on the roof of my van. These are the hooks of some fishing lures, also my dads. When mom and I were cleaning out the garage I came across dad’s old fishing vest. The mice or squirrels had gotten to it first and much of it was shredded. There were some lures in the pockets, though, and a few weights. I took them before putting the remains of the vest into the garbage. This evening I was looking at them and remembering fishing with my dad. I didn’t really have the patience for fishing that he had but I think I’ve gained some over the years. The thought of sitting by a lake or river or sitting in a boat with nothing going on except the occasional cast and even more occasional bite sounds really good now.

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Karlee and Patrick

Karlee and Patrick

Karlee and Patrick

It was great catching up with our dear friend Karlee this evening. It was also nice meeting her boyfriend, Patrick. Whether he’s good enough for Karlee remains to be seen, although he seems nice enough. It’s always hard when someone you know well and care about meets someone and you don’t know them. It’s probably natural to be suspicious or doubt that they are good enough. We really enjoyed dinner and being with them. It’s too bad we have to brave the Beltway and the American Legion Bridge during an evening rush hour to see Karlee, but it’s worth it.

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I’d Rather Be Fishing

Jon Boat On The Van

Jon Boat On The Van

There have been many loads of things taken from my mom’s house over the last couple months. Most of them went by minivan, either hers or mine, with the exception of her actual move, when things went in a moving truck. There are two things that can’t be fit into our vans, however. One of them is a small, utility trailer. I plan to put the tiller on that so although that’s two items, it will be moved as a unit. I hope to tackle that in a week or so. The other item is this Sears, aluminum jon boat. I don’t remember when dad bought it but it’s been at least 50 years, probably closer to 55. It’s a bit battered and the wooden transom is rotting out. But it’s sea worthy (or at least pond worthy) and I wouldn’t mind taking it out for a weekend and just fishing for a while. for me, the part of fishing from a boat that I don’t like is being out in the sun, so maybe I’ll wait for an overcast day. That or cooler weather, anyway. I haven’t fished in years and I think it’s time I did. I also have a few of dad’s rods, reels, and various other accoutrements. All I need is a license and a day off. Soon. Very soon. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, that’s not my real license plate number.

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Rudbekia

Rudbekia

Rudbekia

Here’s another photo of the black-eyed Susans in our back yard. After work today I sat in the back yard for a while. I decided it was time I cut my hair so I got the clippers out and did it. It was very hot and the hair stuck all over me but it’s done. While I was sitting after getting my hair cut, I enjoyed the black-eyed Susans that surround our patio. They have gotten somewhat out of control but they are lovely and if anything is going to go wild, it might as well be pretty. This is a time of the summer when there isn’t a lot else in bloom and the Rudbekia are quite welcome. Maybe next year we’ll have time to fight them back a little but for now, we’ll just enjoy their abundance.

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Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

After work I met my mom at her house and we emptied the garage. I have a few pictures of it, showing how it’s leaning, particularly at the back. We loaded trash into her van to take to the county transfer station and I took a few things to give away or otherwise deal with. When I got home and was unloading my van I noticed this praying mantis on the roof of Margaret’s car. I believe but am not sure that it is a Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis). I think it is not fully grown, as it was only about two inches long. Like true bugs, grasshoppers, cockroaches, and crickets (to name a few), the mantises undergo what is known as incomplete metamorphosis. That is, instead of larval and pupal stages, the emerge from their eggs as nymphs and grow through a series of instars, where they shed their exoskeletons as they grow.

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Purple Coneflower

Purple Coneflower

Purple Coneflower

It’s been a good year for the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) in our yard. Of course, it’s been an even better year for the weeds. With most weekends at least partly devoted to dealing with one or both of our mom’s houses, we’ve spent a lot less time in the garden this year. There is bindweed (Convolvulus species) everywhere and it’s running riot. In particular, along the back fence and the garden along the south end of the house are both totally out of control. There is significant pokeweed, goldenrod, various thistles, and even a few trees (zelkova, elm, maple, and ash). But there are some blooms that were intended, as well, including this coneflower.

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Family Beach Week

Henry, Dot, Danna, Kai, Maya, Steve, George, Carmela, Cathy, Dorothy, Jacob, and Kendra

Henry, Dot, Danna, Kai, Maya, Steve, George, Carmela, Cathy, Dorothy, Jacob, and Kendra

Our week at the beach has come to an end and we leave tomorrow morning. The southern North Carolina beaches are great and I like Ocean Isle in particular. Partly that’s just a matter of familiarity, of course, and people who go to other beaches year after year almost certainly feel the same way. But one thing I don’t particularly care for is the drive home. It’s about 425 miles and the traffic between Richmond and DC is never good, especially on a summer weekend. But, drive it we must. First, however, we took time for a family photo out on the deck. As you can see, we’re sort of looking into the setting sun, so there’s a bit of squinting going on. From left to right: Henry, Dot, Danna, Kai, Maya, Steve, George, Carmela, Cathy, Dorothy, Jacob, and Kendra.

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Nephila clavipes (Golden Silk Orbweaver)

Nephila clavipes (Golden Silk Orbweaver)

Nephila clavipes (Golden Silk Orbweaver)

I know that for many people, the phrase, “one of my favorite spiders” is not even a thing. Nevertheless, this is one of my favorite spiders. The Golden Silk Orbweaver (Nephila clavipes) is quite large. Nothing like a tarantula and only hairy at the leg joints, but still pretty good sized. The body of females grow up to almost 2 inches. This on is about an inch and a half. The male, seen at the top of the picture, is considerably smaller. North Carolina is about as far north as this spider is found but it is fairly common in the marshy woods here. Because of their size, they are fairly easy to spot. That’s just as well because you probably won’t be happy when you walk into the web as you go through the woods.

The silk from this spider is a golden color. Scientists have analyzed the dragline silk of this spider’s web and attempted to reproduce its proteins artificially for use in high-strength fabrics.

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Grackle Eating a Clam

Grackle Eating a Clam

Grackle Eating a Clam

We went swimming early this afternoon and then I dug in the sand and made a drip castle. After showering, Cathy and I walked on the beach. I was surprised that the castle was still there. The tide hadn’t come in yet but no one had stepped on it. On our walk we saw a few common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) just above the surf pulling up clams after each wave. It’s not really surprising that they’ve learned to enjoy clams. It’s just that we don’t think of grackles as shore birds, skipping around at the top of the surf along with willets and sand pipers.

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Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Cathy, Dorothy, and I went for a drive this afternoon, going to a pond near Sunset Beach where we’ve seen alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). There was one close to the shore and I got a few pictures of it along with some water turtles. Then we drove back onto the island and to the east end, where I got some nice pictures of this great egret (Ardea alba) wading in the tidal marsh and finding fish in the shallows. We also walked on the beach at that end of the island and enjoyed the wind and the deeply colored, wine dark sea.

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Ocean Isle Water Tower at Sunset

Ocean Isle Water Tower at Sunset

Ocean Isle Water Tower at Sunset

We were preparing to go to the Whites’ house, just a little way down the beach, when the sun was setting. There were a couple guys working on the top of the water tower near where we were staying and as the clouds were moving past, there were occasional flashes of lightning and distant thunder. None of is was closer than three or four miles but if it were me up there it would have made me a bit nervous. Anyway, I took some pictures of the water tower with the sunset color in the clouds behind it. It was pretty impressive. Of course, if I had gotten a picture of lightning striking the tower it would have been both amazing and tragic. Fortunately for those guys, it didn’t happen.

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Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

We had a bit of rain this morning but it cleared up later and we went swimming. Late in the day I went for a little drive to find somewhere to take pictures. On the mainland near the east end of the island is a boat ramp. There used to be a ferry across to the island there and it’s a pretty place. I took some pictures of marsh grass growing on the banks of the channel and also got a nice photo of a tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). From there I drove to the Shallotte River inlet and took some pictures of this brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) perched on a pole out in the water.

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Ocean Isle Beach

Ocean Isle Beach

Ocean Isle Beach

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, the family reunion we went to was on our way to a week at the beach. Work has been pretty crazy lately. On the one hand, I really need to be there to get some things done. On the other hand, I really needed this break and I’m looking forward to not really thinking about work all week. This is the view from the deck half way to the beach from the cottage where we’re staying. It’s an older house, smaller than most, but adequate to our needs. This picture was taken around high tide and it’s a rainy morning so not a lot of activity on the beach. As the tide went out and the sun started to shine, the beach filled with people (as you would expect).

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The Cousins

Catherine, Dot, Mary Ellen, Anne, LaClaire, and Glenn

Catherine, Dot, Mary Ellen, Anne, LaClaire, and Glenn

On the way to the beach in southern North Carolina we stopped in northern North Carolina for our annual family reunion. As usual there was good food and great fellowship. We also took our annual photos. Some years we do generational photos. This year we did families, based on “The Siblings”, none of whom are with us any longer. Except we always take a picture of “The Cousins”. Of the eleven first cousins, five are still with us and are pictured here (along with Catherine, Clinton’s widow). We also took a picture with the other spouses but I like this picture and decided to go with it. We also took a large group picture of the 58 people who were still there at the time it was taken.

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Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

The 25 or so Rudbekia species are all native to North America and Rudbeckia hirta is the state flower of Maryland. We actually have two related varieties of black-eyed Susans in our yard and I don’t know if they are different species or different varieties of the same species. This is by far the more aggressive of the two and left to itself would probably take over the entire yard. In fact, even with some efforts to contain it, it’s taking over the entire yard. On the other hand, there isn’t a lot else blooming right now and if you look into our back yard, it’s filled with yellow, so I can’t really complain. This year, the garden has pretty much had to find for itself. Hopefully we’ll be able to do something with it next year.

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