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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Silas and Iris

Silas and Iris

Silas and Iris

We had a family dinner night ahead of going to the beach. Since Iris, Seth, and Silas won’t be at the beach with us, it was good to get together with them. Silas is growing like a weed, as children do at this age. His cousin, Kaien, is also growing and I have aome pictures of him, as well. But as I post this, we’re back from the beach and I know that I took pictures of him at the beach.

It’s really nice having a baby and a toddler around at family gatherings. They are both wonderfully cute. Of course it’s a bitter sweet joy, as it really makes me miss my brother (and I don’t really need a lot of help on that front). Nevertheless, if I’m going to miss him (and I am) there might as well be two beautiful grandchildren to help offset it. And at least for now, they are in town and we get to see them somewhat regularly.

 

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Fred and Lucy

Fred and Lucy

Fred and Lucy

On November 23, 1886, Cathy’s great grandparents, Fred and Lucy, were married in Sullivan County, New York. This was during the industrial revolution and before the area because known as the Borscht Belt in the early twentieth century. Fred and Lucy moved west. Cathy’s grandfather, Albert, lived in a suburb of Chicago and became a wholesale butcher. Because of that, Cathy’s father, born shortly before the stock market crash of 1929 and Roosevelt’s great depression, grew up with meat on the table. Years ago Cathy and I visited Sullivan County and found what we believe was the family farm, although all that was left was a collapsed barn.

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Furniture Moving

China Cabinet

China Cabinet

We moved a bunch of furniture today. After work, Cathy and I picked up a rental truck and she followed me to her mom’s house. A half dozen guys came and helped load two china cabinets, a dining room table and chairs, various chests and other furniture into the truck. As we were on our way to the house it poured rain but by the time we were loading the truck it was mostly finished, which was good because most of the furniture was wood. Once we had it all loaded we all drove to our house and the same guys helped unload it and get it set up here. We’re replacing our current dining room table and chairs with the one we brought over and we’ve put two china cabinets in our dining room. The one shown here is the larger of the two, a fairly heavy piece that just fit in the height of the room. These two cabinets along with a glass front cabinet that we have been using (the so-called Uncle Ralph cabinet), there’s probably too much furniture in the room now, but we’ll deal with that when we have the time. I was really grateful for the help we received this evening and it was good to see folks, as well.

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Malachite and Azurite

Malachite and Azurite

Malachite and Azurite

I think I mentioned before that my great grandfather was a miner in Nevada in the late 19th century. He mined two forms of copper ore, green malachite and blue azurite, copper carbonates with formulas Cu2CO3(OH)2 and Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2 respectively. For some reason, our family collects rocks. These were gathered on the mountain where my great grandfather lived and where my grandfather and his two siblings were born and raised. We have recently thrown away a lot of rocks that were in my mom’s basement but we kept a few that were particularly nice. Cathy put some in this bowl and they are outside our front door, where the bowl has filled with rain water, which I think makes it especially nice.

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Rocklands Bakery

Rocklands Bakery

Rocklands Bakery

We drove home from Massachusetts today. I don’t like driving through New York City and the traffic westbound towards the George Washington Bridge is generally ridiculous. Going by way of the Merritt Parkway and across the Tappan Zee Bridge is my preference, even if it’s a little longer. At least we’re moving the whole time. This was our first time crossing the new bridge, which has officially been named the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. We’ll see if that sticks. I know what I’ll be calling it. We also stop at Rocklands Bakery in Nanuet and pick up a couple hot out of the oven bagels. There are plenty of other styles of bread from which to choose, of course.

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Dorothy and Abba

Dorothy and Abba

Dorothy and Abba

We drove up to Canterbury Shaker Village today to see Dorothy’s cousin Abba. She has been there all week in their first resident artists program. The program was a success and they plan to repeat it regularly. Abba was chosen as one of only five artists (and one of two painters). We enjoyed seeing her work as well as wandering around the historic, Shaker buildings. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, only occasionally disrupted by the sounds of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway just over a mile to the east (if you go on a non-race day, you won’t have that issue). We wandered around the gardens and down to the ponds on the eastern part of the property.

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Gloucester Harbor

Gloucester Harbor

Gloucester Harbor

We had a pretty busy day again today. We went out to Eastern Point Lighthouse and walked out onto the jetty to Dog Bar Lighthouse. There were cormorants diving in the water next to the jetty and we enjoyed watching them, as well as gulls and ducks. From there we went to Rockport and when we came upon a parking spot we took it and walked a while. I took pictures of Motif #1 and thought about posting a photo of that but decided to go with this somewhat abstract photo of reflections taken a short walk from our airbnb as the sun was setting.

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Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dorothy thought she had to work from 4:00 to 9:00 PM today but she got a text just after 11:00 saying she was on from 11:00 to 4:00. Fortunately, we were just driving through campus as she got that, so we were there within minutes. Cathy and I enjoyed a walk around Coy Pond and I took a bunch of pictures, including of water lilies, a great blue heron, and this dragonfly. Later we went to the garden at Long Hall and I took more pictures. That was a nice garden with an interesting collection of trees, shrubs, and perennials. Recommended. We had dinner at La Victoria, a trendy but decent taco place just off of Cabot Street in Beverly.

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Annisquam Lighthouse

Annisquam Lighthouse

Annisquam Lighthouse

Dorothy came out and we had breakfast together in Gloucester this morning. Then we spent a little time on the waterfront, enjoying the same flowers I mentioned two days ago. After that we drove around Cape Ann, ending up at a little private beach south of Annisquam Lighthouse, pictured here. We got permission to hang out there for a little while and enjoyed the cooler weather after yesterday’s sweltering heat. Cathy and Dorothy went for a swim and I sat in the shade of a few white oak trees.

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