Thursday, June 30, 2011

Farewell to June; also, an ENORMOUS beetle is plotting our destruction

What a glorious send-off for June here in southern Vermont. A stunning, stunning day.
I did my Reiki shift at the hospital, and then met up with a friend and ran some errands with her. Giving her a ride home apparently entitled me to plunder and pillage in her strawberry patch, for gas money. Or at least I tried to plunder and pillage. She yelled at me and made me be more methodical in my strawberry picking, even going so far as to have me pick the gross, mildewed berries for her chickens. The nerve.
I didn’t have my camera with me at the time, so this is an after-the-fact snapshot of part of my haul. Tomorrow: I’m pretty sure strawberry rhubarb pie will happen, assuming I still have some chopped up rhubarb lurking somewhere in the freezer.
No flower pictures! Instead, scary beetle pictures!
I think this might be Prionus laticollis and…yes! according to the same guru who helped me out with my previous requests on, it is! What mad skills I have! I am able to look at one picture…and say that it looks similar to another picture!
OK, so Prionus laticollis is the broad-necked root borer. The larvae eat rotting wood.
P1100710 b
I wonder if all that business in the beetle’s back end is egg-laying equipment. Meaning what, she thinks our front steps are rotting? Hey, wait just one minute there, little lady!
Her face looks like it’s covered in spider web.
It also looks like it’s been bashed in.
OK, so not only do we have a beetle that is attempting to destroy our front steps, we have a ginormous spider capable of beating the hell out of a two-inch long beetle.
I’m not sure I’m going to sleep tonight.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

baby snapper and a handful of new wildflowers

Why did the baby snapping turtle cross the road? Apparently not to get to the other side, because he kept changing his mind. Last I saw him, he was resolutely headed toward the big bay doors – closed – of the fire substation at the entrance to our private drive. What is it with turtles and garage doors? You can see how tiny he (she?) is, as those are half-inch long spruce needles on its back.
I ventured slightly farther afield today, in search of new species. Oh yeah, baby, lots of new stuff to show you. First up: I’ve been tracking a plant along the shared driveway that I thought might be red baneberry. I also thought at one point it might be ginseng, but to hedge my bets, I’ve tagged it in my files with a question mark. Well, today I am happy to report it is NOT red baneberry.
This is red baneberry:
Not all of them are ripe.
I found what looked like a dogbane – opposite leaves, flowers at the ends in a loose cluster – but I haven’t been able to identify it in Newcomb’s. Anyone out there have an idea of what this might be?
P1100603P1100611 P1100605
five petals, in a tube.P1100609
sorry for blurriness. Flowers seem to be stalked.
There was so much false solomon’s seal, it made me contemplate weeping.
One lone brown-eyed susan. I know, I know, it’s black-eyed susan; I just like brown-eyed better. Reminds me of the Van Morrison song.
New Species!!
Probably Bird's Foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) [edited later after perusing another blog and rechecking my guide...]
Yellow false indigo (Baptisia tinctoria)
This stuff is growing wild all over the place at our county dump, for what it’s worth. But I didn’t get a chance to photograph it til today, just around the corner from here.
A cinquefoil (Potentilla recta). It has these awesome pot leaves.
Another indigo – this time, white false indigo (Baptisia leucantha). This stuff is on stalks taller than I am, which isn’t saying much, but still. That’s tall, for a flower, innit?
But wait! There’s more! You also get the slicer dicer attachment at no extra charge!
Or, in this case, hop clover (Trifolium agrarium).
Next up, how’s about some Spotted Common St. Johnswort (Hypericum punctatum perforatum)? [Her Royal Highness the editor (me) realized the next day I was wrong.]
AND, last but not least, Herb Robert.
Really, that’s its name. Geranium robertianum

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

cluster bombs and flammable bathtubs

Today has been occupied by two projects: coming up with my own names for grasses and sedges, and adding things to the communal burn pile out in the meadow.
I’ve decided to learn about grasses.
grass book The guide I’m using promises that I won’t need a hand lens or much experience with botany to identify species.  It will be a while before I manage to ID anything.

For now, my tactic is just to discern what the different species ARE, and to give them homemade names, so that I can recognize them from day to day.

I call this one “chevron”, because of the herringbone pattern of the flower bits.
You know how you can buy a Christmas tree that’s been tightly wrapped in mesh, and you bring it home and clip the mesh off, and then the branches relax away from the trunk?
This one’s “honey bunches of oats”. My question is, is it the same thing as chevron, but it’s been around a bit longer and it’s relaxed? Or is it a different species?
What about this one? It seems like the middle point of chevron and honey bunches of oats.

Hm. I only just got started and already, I have no clue. Yay! The cognitive dissonance that is necessary for learning and growth! I alternate between being annoyed, and being delighted. Much like life itself. Let’s move on, shall we?
Here’s green chevron – not an imaginative name, but hey.
Here’s one that I think I actually may have correctly identified – I’ve posted about it before – Timothy grass (Phleum pratense)

Here’s golden christmas tree. I don’t think it’s the same as honey bunches of oats.
This delicate one is pretty distinctive.
Oh! Here’s one that I may have ID’d – barberpole sedge (Scirpus rubrotinctus). I prefer my name for it: cluster bomb.
Backing up for a broader view, check out the proliferation of cluster bomb in the picture below:
Interestingly, not 30 feet away, the species composition of the unmowed part of the meadow we’re in is totally different: ferns and milkweed.
Earlier, Charlie helped me read the intro to my new book.
On to the other project du jour.
Today I crossed the line from just blithely observing and appreciating Nature’s Bounty, to deciding to kill stuff. Enough is enough with the one-seeded bur cucumber. ‘Tis a vine, whose primary purpose in life seems to be to take over the universe, or at least, the hillside along our driveway – the scene of all the siberian iris, ferns, playtex tampon applicator flowers, spiderwort, wild madder, jack-in-the-pulpit, raspberry, black raspberry, and wild rose. 
I filled up the back of the Escape TWICE with great mounds of this stuff. I dumped it in the burn pile out in the meadow, which is very close to just looking like an impromptu junkyard. What with there being a bathtub in it, and all. I’m not sure how flammable that thing’s going to be.

Monday, June 27, 2011

how I know the economy is recovering

alternate title: how I know the economy is in even more trouble than I thought. I received a credit card offer today. Yes, me: Ms. No Discernible Income. Wastrel that I am, AmericanExpress wants me. Wants me bad.
In other news, according to the Garmin, and a calories-burned website, I burned about 1,800 calories today – not including the 1,800 or so I burned just Being Alive. My training run today was an hour and forty minutes, and involved eleven sets of 1/2 mile ‘sprints’ (with lots of walking bits and warm up and cool down jogging). And then…then there’s the lawn mowing out at my dad’s house.
I was one tired puppy. Kevin took over at the very end – that’s him in the background, against Barn #2.
What’s not to love about lupine?
Bee (presumably) (lots of bee-like things ain’t bees!) coming in for a landing.
Lower down, some of the flowers have already set up shop.
World’s Most Fantastic Silver Maple
I’ll know the economy has recovered when someone buys this house.
There was more blue sky than is implied by this photograph. I love these windmills: they tell me that yes, we are capable of figuring out sustainable options. They pissed my dad off, though. “Left-wing hippies” I believe he was probably thinking.
Oh wow: the iPod – which is on global shuffle – just started playing “You’re a mean one…Mr. Grinch”. It’s my dad! scolding me from the other side! (Happy smile.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

nap faeries: 1 me: 0; also, raspberry flower development

Yesterday’s b-day party for The Dude, Who Abideth, was lovely. It rained, and thus we all crammed inside the magic portable screened in porch. What is the ideal number of chairs for a party? Let x = number of guests. Answer? x – 1. There was much hilarity and merriment, and then everybody went home, except for my old friend Jake, who crashed in the batcave Reiki room cat napping room and left this morning.
This afternoon the nap faeries sucker-punched me and I was out for three hours.
I dragged myself outside in the late afternoon – force of habit. Here’s the report:
Foxglove (Digitalis) struggling under the watchful eye of the black raspberries and bur cucumber invaders.
More fun with emerging spiderworts. Isn’t he a handsome fellow?
And now: raspberry flowers. I find these astonishing. Some of these are blurrier than I would like, but because the overall narrative is SO FREAKING cool you’re just going to have to put up with it.
The flowers start off as grumbly little burs.
They start to open up.
These white-ish things are…I’m pretty sure, at any rate, the anthers. Disclaimer: I’m no botanist. But let’s go with anthers for right now. They gradually pull away from the center, revealing…
…the stigma, in the center. This one’s blurry, sorry! Also, the petal color hasn’t actually changed that much. I’ve found that on overcast days, my camera washes out certain colors. Haven’t debugged that yet.
OK, skipping forward, by now the petals have fallen off completely. Those white triangles are the sepals that used to enclose the whole package – they’re still all prickly on the reverse side. The stamens have turned purple, which is insane.
And here, we can see that many of the stigma – the bits in the center – have been fertilized, cause you can see the very beginnings of tasty fruit forming.