Entries to Win Afghan

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Winners are: 3rd place- e-book of your choice: Wendy Nystrom. 2nd place- book of your choice, paper or e-book: Sue Ann Crawford. Winner of the afghan: Elaine Hull.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Lepidoptera Day

The day was actually Saturday, but I saw too many interesting things on that walk to put them all in one post.

Sometimes a dead butterfly is, well... not a good butterfly... but it does help one learn identification. This is definitely a clouded sulphur, but it's pretty much impossible to get a picture like this if it's alive, because they always land with their wings closed. But when it's flying, this is what you see- the black band edging both the fore and hind wings.

clouded sulphur butterfly

Here's the clincher: same butterfly, double spot on the hind wing, no orange.

clouded sulphur butterfly

I had to look this one up from scratch. It looks like a wooly bear without the black band. It is related. It's also extremely variable, Estigmene acrea. And the odd thing is, the common name is Salt Marsh Caterpillar/Moth, which would make you think it should be found in ocean coastal areas, right? It's found all over the country and the caterpillars are common in the fall. So have I not been looking, or are there more this year? You've probably seen the moth- the wings are all white with black spots and the body has yellow stripes. Very common and noticeable because it is white.

salt marsh caterpillar

Now for the find of the day! Sadly, it was dead and somewhat damaged, but I was really happy to be able to get a closeup look. This is another of the hummingbird or hawk moths. This one is called the Clearwing Hummingbird Moth, Hemaris thysbe. You can see how big it is in my hand. The wings are beautiful with the chestnut bands and clear "windows."

clearwing hummingbird moth

The underside was interesting too, with those furry legs.

clearwing hummingbird moth

Finally, just because it completes the cycle with the adult Monarch butterfly also seen on Saturday, here's a Monarch caterpillar. I've shown you many of these before. We have lots of milkweed here, so they are usually pretty happy.

monarch caterpillar

Today was non-stop busy, and tomorrow will be more of the same, but it's all good!

See White Lined Hummingbird Moth
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Monday, August 21, 2017

The Non-Event of the Day

I was really torn between two options today. I like science and astronomical events, but I hate jumping on the bandwagon with 30 million other people.

As it turned out, today's partial solar eclipse at my house was no great shakes.

cloudy eclipse

It didn't even get very dark.

cloudy eclipse

I have to say that the partial eclipse in 1994 was a much bigger deal to me. For one thing, there just wasn't very much hype. This was before the internet was a huge thing. I was at grad school, and I knew there was going to be a partial eclipse, but I didn't pay a lot of attention because I expected it to be pretty much like today turned out to be.

1994 eclipse line
Image from NASA, public domain

However, it just so happened that I didn't have classes that day and I took myself for a walk in the woods. That turned out to be momentarily spooky, because I did forget the eclipse was going to happen. It started to get quite dark under the trees- like late dusk. All the rustling of animals ceased and the birds stopped singing. It took me a minute to remember there was going to be a partial eclipse. Just for a bit I think I felt like ancient peoples must have felt before eclipses could be predicted. There happened to be a bench near where I was. I sat down and contemplated the workings of the solar system and the Creator.

That was much more of an event for me than today. Maybe I'll still be around for the next one on April 8, 2024. Actually, that would be sort of numerically significant. I was supposed to be born on April 8, didn't show up till the 24th. And I'll be 24 years (and those extra days) shy of 100.

My big news of the day is that I finished another chapter in Dead Mule Swamp Druggist.

See Blood Moon
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Manistee Riverwalk Again

I had some things to do in Manistee this afternoon, and was glad I had time to also do the Riverwalk. If you walk all the way to the end of the channel and back (I did), it's about 3.5 miles.

Manistee Riverwalk

The day was overcast, so there is no sparkly blue water, but it's still very nice to walk beside the Manistee River, through the city, to where it meets Lake Michigan. The Manistee Lighthouse is on the other side of the channel.

Manistee Lighthouse

After I headed back toward town, I took this picture of the western end of the river, past where most businesses are. It looks quite natural in this section.

Manistee Riverwalk

The boardwalk is also less complex, but more quiet and calm.

Manistee Riverwalk

When I was back at my car, I took a picture of the River Street Bridge. I thought it was going to open- it's a drawbridge- because there were all kinds of bells and horns going off, but it didn't. Not sure why, unless the Washington Street Bridge opened (downstream) and the sounds all bounced around because of buildings and the riverbanks and sounded closer. Anyway... no picture of it open.

Manistee Riverwalk

If you want to see more Riverwalk pictures on brighter days, follow the links below.

See Riverwalk Walk
See Riverwalk Details
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Saturday, August 19, 2017

"My" Road Loop- Plus the Wetland

Just strolled around my 3-mile loop, plus I added a mile to get a current picture of the large wetland.

I always think it will be the "same old walk," but there are always beautiful things to be found.

Monarch butterfly on Boneset.


Trumpet Vine, which owns this piece of the highway right of way.

trumpet vine

The bypass pond where I see wood ducks in the spring, and once, the northern shoveler duck. The bright light made the surface look white, but it's solid green with duckweed.


I even saw something new today. I'd never noticed there is a white birch near that pond.

white birch

Silky dogwood berries- not edible, but the birds love them.

silky dogwood berries

And, I reached the wetland. Not terribly picturesque this time of year. Maturing cattails, pretty much a monoculture except around the edges. But I've taken an interest in this spot, and will probably continue to bring you pictures from time to time.


I did find a couple more interesting things, but they deserve their own blog post.

See Johnson Road Wetland
See Northern Shoveler
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Friday, August 18, 2017

Peach Cobbler

Are you coming to work tonight? If so, this is coming with me. That is all. Gotta scoot

peach cobbler

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Clouded Sulphur?

These little yellow butterflies are so pretty, but they are really tricky to identify. There are three main choices where I live. I think this is a Clouded Sulphur, Colias philodice, but I'm open to correction by anyone who really knows these little guys (and girls). I'm strictly amateur when it comes to Lepidoptera.

This one has really pink wing edges, but it does have spots along the edges of the hind wings. So, that rules out a Pink-edged Sulphur. Those have no edge spots. Clouded Sulphurs usually have a double central wing spot. But that isn't definitive. It's probably not an Orange Sulphur because they have to show at least a little bit of orange somewhere.

clouded sulphur butterfly

And just in case you weren't confused enough, they can interbreed.

Anyway, they are cute little yellow butterflies with big green eyes and pink legs, and there are always a lot of them in August.

See Cabbage and Sulphur Butterflies for more examples
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Smell of Orange

Here's what's left of a bar of Fast Orange soap. It's got pumice in it, and is supposed to be as good as Lava. In case you are wondering, I think not.

Fast Orange soap

However, I ended up buying a bar in a week when apparently every store was out of Lava. "You'll like it, the salesman said." Nope. You can see that I'll soon get to buy a new bar of something. Hopefully, Lava. But the strangest thing I noticed was that the orange soap smelled just like something else. Something not at all related to soap.

Fast Orange soap

This story actually begins in second grade. But it became a critical mass today... enough to set off a blog post.

Over Thanksgiving Break, in second grade, I had my tonsils out. I remember having to eat tomato soup instead of turkey. I wasn't happy about that. But I did get to chew gum in class for a couple of weeks after going back to school. That would be Aspergum, orange flavor. It didn't taste like oranges, and it didn't taste like aspirin. But it had a distinctive odor. Some scents have stuck with me my entire life. This is one of them.

The package of medicinal gum looks disturbingly like the soap wrapper! Actually, this hasn't been made since 2006, but another company bought the brand, so it could come back. The soap and the gum smell just the same.


Just a few days ago, I realized that the Ibubrofen caplets, which are also orange (but not the dark red tablets), smell this way too.


I think this odor must be due to the orange dye. And today, my scent sensors were set off again. The soap dispenser at work is empty, so I used the bottle of cheap dish soap by the sink to wash up with. It's orange. It smells exactly the same!!!

This is a little eerie. Two medications and two soaps. All orange. Has to be the dye. It's not a pleasant or unpleasant odor, but it's distinctive. The smell of orange.

See Maggie Says, "More Orange, Mom!"
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Kayaking the South Branch

I promised you a paddle event, and today was the day! This was a semi-impromptu get-together of people who have been doing the Challenge hikes. Eight of us met at Laura's house, and with only about 4 miles of driving could put in at Washington Bridge and take out at Anthony Bridge with 2.5 hours on the river. The river is the South Branch of the Pere Marquette. No permits or time limits like on the main branch.

kayaking the South Branch of the Pere Marquette

A lot of my pictures really aren't very good. The water was a little low at this time of year so almost always there were rapids or rocks or trees to steer around. I couldn't keep the camera out of its plastic bag very long at a time or I was getting turned sideways to the current or pushed into a tree. And all the most interesting pictures would have been at the places where I needed both hands on the paddle.

kayaking the South Branch of the Pere Marquette

Sue and Sophie were there. Sophie not only hikes, she canoes!

kayaking the South Branch of the Pere Marquette

Actually, they both took a dunking. There was one rapids where you had to go through the "chute" (we're not talking serious rapids, ok), and then make a sharp left turn to stay in the current and not hit a gravel bar. Somehow, Sue was already through it, and flip! over they went. I have to tell you this because it leads to the funniest image. Sophie quickly swam for the rest of us who were waiting at the edge to be sure everyone made it. Her life vest has a handle on the top. So Michael plucked her out of the water by the handle, and she kept paddling like crazy all through the air as he lifted her into his kayak!

Gary and Sue righted her canoe. And Gary got his butt dunked doing that.

kayaking the South Branch of the Pere Marquette

I have no pictures to prove it, but Michael was the winner. He went in the drink twice. He and Gary borrowed sit-on-top kayaks. It may just be the brand, or the fact that they are both pretty big guys, but they sure didn't like those kayaks. They both said the boats were very tippy.

Here we all are at the end, the same number of people we started with, but with a little digital magic, we completed the trip with two of Sophie.

kayaking the South Branch of the Pere Marquette

And how about my Sea Wings? They work great. The kayak feels much more secure. But it's still annoying to tie all those straps and ropes.

kayak on car

See Kicking Back- Awesome Day
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Monday, August 14, 2017

How Do Plants Make You Feel?

These plant pictures have all been taken in the past month. I present them to you without identification (exhibiting great restraint), just to let you react. Tell me how they make you feel.

scouring rush

big bluestem grass

hematite hillside

basswood flower


scouring rush

I got a lot done today! Laundry, mowed grass, worked at the paper because they were short-handed, stripped more paint off the trailer, did some housework, did some computer work. Wish I could get this much done every day! Tomorrow it's back to work, but I have some fun planned for later in the day.

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