Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Eek Update

The Follow By Email (Feedburner) feature on my blog is going away 😖

The Feedburner team released a system update announcement that the email subscription service will be discontinued in July 2021.

After July 2021, my blog will still continue to work and can be accessed here 
but the automated emails to my subscribers will no longer be supported.

This is a disappointment and I'm sorry to see this feature disappear.


Two exquisite sedges growing on my shoreline
Carex intumescens

Carex lurida
This wet inflorescence reminds me of sundew!


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Food is Yummy!

What a yummy lunch I was fortunate in having at home today. Too much fruit, maybe, but there's nothing artificial or processed here - it's all roughage, and no artificial sugar either. No wonder I'm overweight - I put too much on my plate, healthy food or not!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Fuzzy Nuts


Look at the beautiful soft fuzz on these hazelnuts - they're growing so well in my woods this year. These are the beaked hazelnuts we spotted blooming earlier in the spring.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Same, but Different

The simplicity and grace of these little flowers, known as whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia), is worth appreciating. It's such a lovely, prolific and yet overlooked native.

And then there's swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris). The flowers look the same, but also have a distinct difference in the way they're arranged on the stem. Swamp candles have an inflorescence of flowers above and separate from the leafy section, while whorled loosestrife presents its flowers at each leaf layer.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Skeletons in the Lake

This was a soggy exoskeleton floating in the lake when I picked it up. Once dried out, it looked a whole lot better, though it's still pretty papery and fragile. I believed this to be an exoskeleton from one of our mayflies (which don't only come out in May), but have since found out that the 2 pronged 'tail' distinguishes it more specifically as a stonefly instead. (Mayfly naiads generally have 3 prongs). Stoneflies are intolerant of water pollution, so can be a good indicator of water quality. 


Friday, June 25, 2021


I wasn't quite sure what these hatchlings were, on the underside of my beaked hazelnut. Google lens pegged them as aphids, but closer delving steered us to the spined soldier bug, a kind of stink bug. There appear to be eggs, little round ladybug-like creatures, and spidery looking creatures as well, each being a different stage of development.

I love being a nature sleuth-nerd - it's so satisfying!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Indian Cucumber Root

This gorgeously delicate native (Medeola virginiana) stuns! The flowers are subtly hidden beneath the umbrella of large leaves.

And when you look from below, it looks as if the plant has false eyelashes
(but what would I know about such things ... ?)

These are growing naturally in my wooded area, and I'm so proud!


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Potent Quote


The potent quote that Sadiqua Johnson has included at the beginning of her book "The Yellow Wife" underscores her story perfectly - it hovered in my mind throughout the unfolding of events. To me, it succinctly encapsulated the thread of her novel, and resounded constantly and powerfully as I read.

The narrative is commanding, intense and tragic. It's difficult to read about the nitty gritty of man's inhumanity to man, but shockingly, is a necessary evil in order to KNOW and feel what is right, lest we forget and become blasé. I felt pretty raw after reading it, but highly recommend it for its grounding and humbling experience.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” 

William Wilberforce

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Slimey Story


This brilliantly colored yellow 'bloom' appeared overnight on a decomposing tree stump in my yard, catching my eye with its bold appearance. It used to be known as a slime mold, but it's now considered to be a ... plastid (not a fungus, plant, animal or bacteria), which consumes fungi and bacteria. Intriguing.

This particular plastid is called Fuligo septica (ergh! shudder) and has a worldwide distribution. Interestingly, the common names from different cultures all seem to describe it as something icky:

dog vomit slime mold

scrambled egg slime

witch's butter (Dutch, heksenboter)

witch's spit (Latvian)

vomit of troll cats (Scandinavian)

When you look at it up close, it also looks a bit like yellow cauliflower, which I think is much more complimentary! Also, the French botanist who first discovered it in 1727 referred to it as 'fleur de tan' which is basically 'flower of the bark' which is much more respectful!

Believe it or not, these organisms tend to 'move' in an amoeba-like fashion (about a millimeter per hour) as they gravitate towards more microorganisms they can break down.

This is how it looked the next day:

I found the interesting info about it on these pages

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Longest Day

How else does one celebrate the longest day??

 The perfection of a summery solstice evening. The best day is the longest day.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Mini Stars


My beautiful mountain laurel is happy and preparing to bloom. 
They look like mini stars to me

Saturday, June 19, 2021


These incredibly bold blotches on a red maple leaf turned me into a sleuth - what were they? What had made them? They look like eyes staring at me!

Turns out it's from the Maple Eyespot Gall Midge, a mosquito-like fly that lays its eggs exclusively in red maple leaves. The larvae (maggots) feed on the leaf tissue, secreting a hormone-like substance that causes the pigment around each gall to change color. 

They then drop to the ground, where they pupate and emerge as adults the following spring, to fly around, mate and lay more eggs. It spends a lot of its life in the ground, metamorphosing.

I love investigating!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Ducking Around

I had the good fortune to have front row seats to a pair of mallards coupling in the water, as I lay in my hammock last week. It was a hot, steamy day, and any movement, even sitting on the lawn weeding, seemed to bring on a sweat! I decided to lie in my cool new hammock in the shade instead, listening to an audiobook. I felt completely enclosed in a cocoon of green (trees and fabric), and decided to peep out over the side when I heard a lonesome 'quack.' 

A male, with his deep green iridescent head, and a female, were swimming towards each other, as if at a pre-arranged time and location - in front of me! She lowered her head, elongating her neck just along the surface of the water, in a very suggestive pose (for a mallard, I guess). He knew exactly how to respond, stretching his neck out in the same way. She was still, almost as if stalking something, when he climbed onto her back and waggled his tail back and forth a few times. I think her lowering her head and extending her neck stretched her body out and down to an easy height for him to mount. It wasn't ungainly at all, and it didn't look as if he was trying to drown her either!

They swam off together into the shade on the other side of the cove. The male got out and rested on the earth bank while the female continued swimming and foraging in the water. They stayed together for quite some time, as a couple relaxing together.

A few days later, we watched a mallard pair waddle like stiff wooden floats up our lawn, surveying 'their' domain, when a mother duck came onto the scene with her 7 ducklings. The male and female stopped moving, watching and waiting while the family did their exploration, unchallenged. The male had gone down low into the grass, resting on his body, while the female stood upright, her legs visible, but still. They only moved again when the mom and her babies had returned to the water's edge. I imagined it was a little like the "women and children first," code of conduct.


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Good Morning!

Only thing missing from this breakfast tranquility is a cup of coffee!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Glider Bench

Our glider bench has this gorgeous view of our cove - lush, ferny and golden with light in late afternoon. The muskrats have picked a beautiful spot to raise a family, and they're so busy lining their home with grasses and other greenery that we frequently see them at their task from here. I love my life!


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Toothy Leaf

I like the look of this leaf - a bigtoothed aspen - so thought I'd share it. The frilly edges and light glowing through it attracted me to it. The Latin name is Populus grandidentata, but its common names are many and varied:

American Aspen
Canadian poplar,
white poplar,
large-tooth aspen,

According to Wikipedia, the tree only begins making seeds for reproduction when it's about 10 years old, and then the seeds are only viable for approximately 2 weeks. To make up for these shortcomings, the tree produces huge numbers of seeds (over 1 million) in a season.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Velcro Feet

Oh dear! My heels! They've been getting more and more exposure to the earth and sun lately, without socks, and have started getting velcro-y. I notice it when I pull my polyester gym pants off at the end of the day - they hook and scrape on my heels making it sound and feel as if I'm undoing a velcro closing. (shiver ... maybe it's not too discreet or genteel to talk about these bodily things that we all try to hide, but I say "let's get real"!)

Friday, June 11, 2021

Dragonfly and Columbine

I was starting off on a short walk around the block, when I noticed this dragonfly attached to my wild columbine. It was so intent on what it was doing that I was able to get up really close for these photos. It was fascinating to see this level of concentration and focus.

It had disappeared by the time I returned from my walk.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Spying on Muskrats


I was very excited to have the opportunity of watching our resident muskrat bring vegetation to its nest in our cove from a close vantage point. I have a glider bench reasonably close to the water's edge, and the pair have been swimming back and forth from there, diving right under the twigs and branches collected previously by a beaver.

I was intrigued to see that it also gathered floating milfoil fragments that were near the nest, and took them inside, too. I had previously only watched it harvest grass from my shoreline.

That brown 'log' is a muskrat with milfoil in front of its mouth

A few days prior, I had got really close by standing behind a tree where they harvest the grass. It had no idea I was there, but my pics of it were obscured by moving grass tufts.

 The dark brown blob with coarse hair and tail laying on the leaves is a muskrat

And the latest activity they've been up to, is swimming up to a stand of pickerelweed, and then diving down and gnawing one off (you can see the selected plant quivering at the surface as they work). They then resurface and swim back to their nest with it, one stalk at a time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Sitting Quietly

There's always something new to discover, I've found, when you sit down quietly and spend time BEING. I was able to notice a small, mostly white caterpillar in the grass today, and though it seemed intent to keep moving, I was able to take a few photos. It wasn't in my field guide (😒), but Google lens was able to help narrow it down. It's a caterpillar of the Canadian owlet moth (Calyptra canadensis), which feeds exclusively on meadow rues, which I have in my NATIVE yard (Yay, me, I have loads of those!).

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Cottony Fluff

Frothy, fluffy wafts

Of floating cottonwood seeds

A coating of 'snow'!


Like a fungal growth 'round plants

Incredibly soft.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Toad Still

An American toad (Bufo [Anaxyrus] americanus) enjoying my natives with me! I'm so pleased it allowed me to get so close.

In, fact, I'd got so close to focus on it, that I realized I'd turn into a shrieking mess if it happened to hop while I was in such close proximity!


Sunday, June 6, 2021

Surface Sheen

White surface sheen on lake from all the floating and accumulating cotton fluff blowing around. Interesting, for sure.


Saturday, June 5, 2021

Nature's Paradise

Blue heron struts by

Regal and graceful hunter

Cruising the shoreline.


Muskrat comes to shore

Harvests grass to line its nest

Swims off, greens aloft.

Eerie shrieks, high pitched

Incessant, make my skin crawl

Broad winged hawks mating.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Wild Columbine

Aquilegia canadensis, an exquisite native beauty, seen here coated with cottonwood fluff

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Foamflower Magnificence


Tiarella cordifolia is an amazing native: it grows easily and spreads voluntarily, creating a fantastic, full display of tiny, foamy fireworks.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Glossy Green

I'm thrilled to have taken the time to look carefully at these magnificent leaves closely enough to be rewarded with a definitive identification - Betula populifolia or gray birch. It's a nurse tree, providing habitat and foliage for other, slower-growing and longer-lasting trees to thrive. 

It seems SO easy and obvious once you've looked at it - it can't be mistaken for anything else. Its leaves are exquisite, shapely and glossy. Superb!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Our Laptop ...

Dale and I wrote and sent out this missive to our colleagues in the Computer Services Division of Natal University 30 years ago:

"Our little laptop, weighing 3.58kg and measuring 52cm, was delivered to us in Germany on 1 June 1991. At the time of writing he is 2½ months old. He came without a manual, so we are not sure of his BIOS, and most books here have been written in a different language. We are still searching for Xy Write way to handle him. Every time we get an 'abort, retry, fail' message, only 'retry' seems to work!

We reboot him frequently to keep his hard drive spinning and then he has a good DOS (between 3.3 and 4.01 hours). During the last two weeks, however, we have found it unnecessary to reboot during the night, as his power supply maintains him for longer periods. However, we have found this form of demand run extremely exhausting and frequently feel we need a parity check ourselves! It is often difficult to debug him after rebooting - sometimes we encounter lost clusters either through corruption of his FAT or perhaps a virus. We then have to clear up his hard drive, usually with a complete reformat. Sometimes we have to refresh his whole spreadsheet. As with all babies, he cannot communicate his problems to us as he uses a different protocol/hand shaking, so we are often in despair when he gets into an endless loop of crying. We keep resending packets of information in the hope that something will get through. Hopefully his CPU will be able to process the information and archive it for future reference.

With regard to housekeeping, we are using disposable disk sleeves as we find them the most practical - they have to be changed so frequently!

Now that he keeps his flashing cursors open for longer periods, he needs to be entertained and this has resulted in ASCII number 1 being displayed on his VDU (☺). He is also beginning to support his own hardware at last.

What a trial these first few months have been - computers are much easier to understand... but don't give as much pleasure!"

Explanatory Notes:
BIOS - Basic Input/Output System
Xy Write - word processer for DOS and Windows
DOS - the Afrikaans word for sleep, and computer terminology for Disk Operating System
Demand run - to process data as needed
parity check - to detect errors to maintain the integrity of data
to debug - to find out what's wring and fix it
lost clusters - when a hard drive loses track of stored data files
FAT - File Allocation Table, a directory of where files are kept
hand shaking - an exchange of information that allows 2 machines to communicate
endless loop - a programming error resulting in no functional solution
CPU - Central Processing Unit
ASCII number 1 - a standard code for information interchange, the smiley face being number 1
VDU - Video Display Unit/screen