Monday, September 28, 2009

If it's Sunday, I must be in Kansas.

Sunday morning I went out to see if anything was happening in the backyard...just this little skipper on the four-o'clocks. I went inside and got my camera and when I came out, she was still there so I took lots and lots of pictures. Lots. Because she was not moving for anything.

It was kind of breezy so at times she fluttered a little to stay in place but she was not going to give up that spot for any breeze or me.

After every commotion from me or the weather, it was back to flattening out on the four-o'clocks which by the way, had no blooms. They had already gone to seed. I'm not sure why she was so drawn to that spot.

Anyway, this little moth, butterfly, whatever skippers are, sure was patient with me....well, until my camera lens actually touched her and then she had enough and flew away.

It turned out that she was the only bug in the backyard. You know what that means......time to get in the car and head for Kansas to chase clouds and bugs with my camera.

Yes. This is more of what I'm used to. Somebody doing their best to get away from the camera.

This little leaf-footed bug sure has an interesting outfit with those polka-dotted pettipants and white go-go boots.

This long-jawed orb weaver was trying to hide from me in the web he built over the creek. While I tried getting a picture of him, I heard the plops of frogs escaping to hide under the rocks in the creek. At least I knew something was there. I had to look really hard just to find a bug. I guess I caught everyone between shifts because it was kind of late in the day but not late enough for the night bugs to start getting busy.

So I went walking in the woods. I found lots of isolated jack-in-the-pulpit berry pods. I thought that since they were probably ripe, I might as well help them along and plant some of the berries.

They have a rather interesting look when they're stripped of their berries.

I couldn't decide if they were weirdly pretty or just pretty weird.

With all this looking and planting, I eventually got off trail and got lost. I got stuck in a vine too. Hiking with a handbag is tough going.

At least it was still light out. And if I ever came back to this spot, or could find it again, if I ever left (it was getting a little Blair Witch because I could not find a trail out anywhere), I would like to look up at these trees again when they all change color in a couple weeks.

I don't know what this tree is but I'm just going to call it a shagbark hickory because what else could you call it?

I eventually found my way out. Gawd. What a walk. And that's when I found my discovery of the day. Notice how I was not joined by Aussie? Well, Miss Aussie Mueller had to stay indoors for the day because it had been requested by the person I met by the creek when I finally got myself out of the woods.

I had run into her when my car pulled up behind hers in the driveway. She's a portrait photographer who lives up the street. She felt horrible for being caught on the land but she had no idea who the new owner was and the previous owner had given her permission to use the land for her photography. Ha ha ha. I was going to say no to a middle-aged woman with a camera in the middle of nowhere when I was up to the exact same thing?

We walked around the property and she showed me all the good spots for taking pictures. One was a rock ledge over the creek near a gentle waterfall. I had to agree with her. That was one beautiful spot. She pointed to an area where the oak trees were and said that in about three weeks it was going to be absolutely glorious. I believe her. She invited me to her house and then showed me all the portrait photographs she had done in the last two years and where they were taken on the property. All very, very pretty.

I did feel bad about Aussie though. Apparently Aussie had to be prevented from her enthusiastic participation because that dog loves that creek too and frequently jumps in there, gets herself all muddy and then jumps out to join the fun....getting everyone involved in the camera shoot verrrrrry muddy.

This is the weird thing. Aussie lives across the street. That creek that is on my land is the creek that goes through her land. I don't think a gravel road separating us is going to make a dramatic difference in the geography. But play in her creek? No. Play in my creek? I think that happens several times a day. I should be miffed by all these different characters stomping on the land but for some reason, it's a nice feeling to have so many people and animals in love with the land too.

And that was my Sunday. I heard an owl hoo hoo-hoo hoo hooooooooooo and thought I better go. I never did find a good spot to take a photo on the road so I just clicked my camera at who knows what while I kept my eye on the road and drove all the way home.

It's always pretty out there, even when it's out of focus.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Looking for anything

Once again the day was full of clouds. Great big clouds. Clouds so big, they were stacked on top of each other, in front of each other, below each other...there just wasn't enough sky for all of those clouds.

When I was driving out to that land in Kansas last Sunday, every time I reached the top of a hill I scanned the side of the road to see if there was an area to stop the car so I could take a picture of the dramatically beautiful sky. Just never happened. There really aren't any good places to stop at the top of a hill. So down I went hoping there would be some place where I could stop, maybe the next hill might have some place to park.....uh, no. I kept driving, hoping, driving, hoping...and just going absolutely nuts when I crossed the Kansas River and saw what was going on above that.

When I finally got to Kansas and could find a place to safely park, this was the best I could do. A chain of clouds.

Chains of clouds all low to the horizon. Like they knew I could finally use my camera so they compressed themselves and sank low to the ground thinking I would not find them.

Those clouds were being as elusive as anything else I try to photograph. Witness the shyness of this one...

Oh, I knew it was behind that tree. I could still see it. Good grief.

So I continued on to my land and......oh my, it sure has changed since the last time I saw it just two weeks ago.

Fall really moved in fast. Aussie showed up even faster.

The giant ragweed was starting to dry out and fall over. It was still thick enough that poor Aussie could not cut through when she found me on the other side of it. If you look closely, you might be able to see a red blur of Aussie trying to push through (didn't happen, she had to walk around).

I was looking forward to seeing the sumacs turn bright red but if they did, I missed it because this was all I saw. Disappointing.

Then I realized there were absolutely no bugs around. No bugs. And........no spiders. None. And except for the blue lobelia, there wasn't anything in bloom either. What was I going to find to photograph? There was absolutely nothing out there but Aussie and me and the sound of infrequent cracks in the woods. I couldn't figure out what those sounds were until an acorn dropped in front of us. Good thing Aussie and I didn't get hit because they were really dropping.

I found a couple large downy feathers. I'm going to assume they came from the hawk that I've seen out there a couple times. Pretty, but not enough and I was starting to feel a little let down.

Smiley face.

Smiley face.

I saw this little skink scampering across the concrete. Since he was such a teeny thing, he wasn't hard to scoop up. Such sweetness.

And now I have a smiley face too. :-)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Once again. Stella's behavior was really, really bad...

...so I had to put a cork in it.

It only slowed things down for a couple minutes.

video

And then it was back to trying to throw every accessible ceramic and/or glassware piece off the kitchen shelf.

Try saying no to this...

And she's the cuddly bird in the family!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wherrrrrrre's Michael?

Cathy Jean is always in the same place in the morning as where I leave her the night before. She just has to cover her head and she goes right to bed.

But Michael Ray? Sometimes that requires a little effort to find him in the morning. Where he starts to go to sleep at night is not always where I will find him in the morning...and I think he's a sleepwalker too. So, before I put the two outside for the last of these pretty fall days, I need to search the house for Michael.

He's a creative turtle. Michael Ray hardly ever sleeps in the same place twice. Where did I find him recently? In the back bedroom's unfinished closet. He had to climb a step and move some paint cans and position himself at just the right angle on those carpet tack strips (good thing they're still wrapped in plastic so he couldn't hurt himself, not that that has every happened) but I could tell he was very happy with this newly discovered sleeping spot.

Turtles. Can't live with them. Can't live........with them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh, just some more entomologizing...

It's been fun learning to identify the country bugs because once you know their names, you've sort of been introduced so....you're almost friends, sort of...

Hello soldier beetle (soldier beetles get their name from their wings which make them look like they're in uniform).

See? It's like he already knows me because he knows how to scramble away from a camera.

Hello ladybug pupa. That's right. A pupa. They can't go anywhere until they're adults...which is probably a week from now. Ladybug pupas can still shake their heads if they want you to go away but this one didn't.

Hello........oh wait a minute....just how many wings are there in there? Five? Six? Oh that is just wrong. Wrong. Shame.......(I poked my finger at them but the three end-band net-wing beetles were locked together pretty tight. Eeeugh. Eeeugh. Eeeugh)!

Hello little flower eating fly (the BugGuide guys say it's a "tachinini" which is a pretty cute name for a fly)...

Hello......Franz?

Or are you Hans?

Good grief. Those are some big thighs. Apparently those big legs are used to kick other male leaflegged beetles but wouldn't you think they could just kick outwards?

I think those leaflegged beetles would probably look like a bunch of girlie men if you ever got the chance to watch them fight. >:-)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hyacinth beans and a bottle tree and an interesting bamboo fence

I have been driving past this fence for a couple months and I finally stopped to take pictures of it today. Speeding by in a car, I only saw the bamboo. I love bamboo in the garden. Doesn't matter if it's the actual plant or if it's used as a fence. I just like it. I had to know how this fence was made.

It's just bamboo poles woven around rebar tied up with wire. Love it. I especially like how it is able to follow the curve of the road nearby.

I'm glad I stopped because when I drive by I can't see the hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab) growing at the far end of the fence. Oh I've tried growing hyacinth bean many, many times but have never been successful because the only place to put them is against the fence behind the peonies and you know how that goes. I've tried all sorts of barriers...even trying to grow the hyacinth bean on the other side of the fence but those turtles are driven to keeping that area clear.

Isn't it pretty? I look forward to trying to grow it again..... in an area far, far away from turtles.

Another intriguing thing about this little garden is the bottle tree.

I think the things hanging from the branch are strings of old doorknobs. Ha!

I like the idea of glass in the garden too. I'm not sure if I'll come up with anything as exuberant as what was done with this tree but I'm sure I'll figure out something. :-)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Turtleheads

Last weekend I brought the turtleheads (Chelone lyonii) from my yard in Missouri to that other "yard" of mine in Kansas. I wanted to finally plant them since I have not bothered to plant them in the ground for years. Years. Why? Because it's a plant I love and it is the second plant to be taken down every year by the turtles. Once the peonies are completely stomped on, the turtles search out the turtleheads.

Several years ago I had the turtleheads planted in different areas in the backyard, thinking the turtles were only trying to stomp on a favorite spot where the turtleheads just happened to be planted...but that did not turn out to be the case. The turtles would find every one of the turtleheads and then flatten them. That's why my latest turtleheads have been in their plastic pots for years. If they stay in their pots, turtle feet cannot crush turtleheads.

Yes, there is a resemblance but one of these turtleheads is always good and the other one is consistently baaaaad.

Aussie helped me plant the turtleheads in an area where some blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) was growing in spots along the creek.

It really is that gorgeous blue.

Turtleheads like it when the soil is kind of damp so I planted them in the same area as the lobelia. And this should be a story of turtleheads living happily ever after because they have finally been returned to their native environment. That should be the end of the story but my garden helper was Aussie Mueller.

Apparently, when you do things with a dog, they have to get right in there with you to help, understand and supervise. The turtleheads were a bit stomped on by the time we were finished. Hopefully when I check on them next time I'm out there, they will have set themselves upright and have been able to get on with their plant lives, hopefully never to be stomped on by a four-footed something ever again.