Saturday, July 31, 2021

Friday, July 30, 2021

Bryozoan Beauty

Jiggly, jelly-like
A colony of zooids
One bryozoan

I know that bryozoans are not very appealing to many, but if you look at them closely, and in the right light, there's a lot of beauty tucked in there.

They're a colony of animals living together in fresh water. They're filter feeders that consume suspended materials in the water, so they help maintain good water clarity. Nature IS amazing!

Up close, the textured surface is quite magnificent. I've just read that those rosette-like features are actually groups of 12-18 individual zooids. (

I think these little groups look like colorful stars in a tightly packed galaxy!

I picked this particular blob up because one side seemed to be smooth, and I could see the plant stem to which it had become attached. It intrigued me enough to overcome my hesitation, but I did have to wash slime off my hands afterwards.

It also seemed like it might break apart if I didn't support it fully and firmly. It was dense, heavy, globular and jelly-like.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Battered Breasts


Ouch! The title of this post sounds like how I feel after a mammogram, but it's something quite different. 

How would you feel about eating a dish called Battered Breasts? Would you? Could you?

I came across a video showing how to make what looked like a really easy and delicious chicken dish, but I couldn't seem to find what it was called. After watching it, I used the info I'd gleaned from the presentation - coating chicken breasts with batter before frying - to come up with my own name : Battered Breasts. Not very appealing, is it? I suppose Coated Breasts is less shocking, but it's oh so dull!

Before battering:

During battering

A tasty, battered breast for dinner ...


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

A Harvestman

A harvestman, or brown daddy-long-legs (that's the common name!), appreciating my butterflyweed with me. Since they feed on small insects and decaying organic matter, I'm guessing this one is lying in wait for prey, and not about to eat my plant.

These guys also congregate in my kayak, and emerge whilst I'm out on the water, tickling me lightly and annoyingly, I might add, as they crawl all over me. They're harmless, but the irritation of them on my skin makes me want to shoo them away. Problem is, they're quite delicate, and I try not to kill them when I brush them off, so they're soon back!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Weird Fruit


I've not watched my skunk cabbages this closely before, but being attentive has paid off. Look at what I found:

It's the fruit of the plant! It looks sort of hedgehoggy ... I like that it is so very unusual, almost otherworldly.

Monday, July 26, 2021


This beautiful insect has had its day 😟. I rescued it from the lake, thinking it would live, but I soon found out otherwise.

Adult mayflies only live up to 2 days, during which time they don't even feed! But their lovely bodies floating on the water's surface attracts other hungry creatures. I find them so attractive and delicate-looking - it's no wonder artificial fishing flies are modeled on these flimsy beauties.

The longest part of their lives is during their larval stage, which can be up to 2 years, and they're really beneficial - they feed on mosquito larvae.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Losing my Nuts!


I encountered this evidence of a nut thief on our boardwalk - those are MY hazelnuts! 

Those pesky gray squirrels. I was 'saving' those for myself, but picking them whilst green seemed a little premature. They'd be indigestible, I figured. Not so for the squirrels - they've managed to break through the shells of my beaked hazelnuts, and hollow out the 'meat' for themselves.


Oh well, the opportunist wins! And those fuzzy hairs on the outside? They embed into one's fingers like little caterpillar hairs, and sting for a short while - I know, I tried it!

Saturday, July 24, 2021

500 Days of ...


When I began isolating because of the pandemic in March last year, I kept a count of each day going by. Funnily enough, when COVID restrictions lifted, and I'd been vaccinated, I continued marking and counting up each day since March 12, 2020. And so this accumulation of days has become instead, 500 days of ...

... braless-ness! It's been freeing and so much more comfortable. BUT, I'm also aware that I subtly try to 'hide' the details of my chest with patterned blouses that detract from my nipples (😳) being the only thing showing on my chest. Perhaps the unevenness of a pattern also disguises the lopsided look which I've featured here? We all know that we each have one foot bigger than the other, so why should breasts be any different????

But then, why should I have to protect people from letting their eyes and minds see something other than a person in front of them? Am I their purity keeper? Shouldn't they be responsible for their own thoughts? Why are nipples so darn sexualized? Men have them too! They're just like little punctuation marks, a full stop at the end of a sentence. The operative word being STOP, as in stop looking ...

Oh dear, this has got me going ... time for a cup of tea!

Friday, July 23, 2021

Dawn Thrills


This photo of the lake was taken at 5:30 in the morning, so early that the sun hadn't spread the light that colors our world - it almost looks like a black and white pic!

What was I doing up this early? Not sleeping, that's what! I woke with a tummy ache and couldn't get back to sleep, so lay around for over an hour, reviewing in my head all the books I've read this year, contemplating restarting a regular exercise routine, thinking about writing about life in another country, and revisiting what moving is like ... those topics were interesting enough to make sure I stayed awake.

I decided that my best bet was to get up and go outside, and do some gardening in the cool, dewy garden. I found these delightful little dew-webs everywhere - fairy gossamer.

I soon cottoned on to the idea of going for a serene and peaceful paddle in my kayak before the boating activity got started. This was the view of spreading gold in our cove.

It gave me a chance to feel the sweet coolness that is morning. Plus, there were curls of mist floating above the lake as the sun rose, and the loons were warbling.


I made sure to use this time to drift through the shallow waters and look out for invasive plants since the light and conditions were perfect. The buttonbushes were showing off their exquisite blooms all along the undeveloped lakeshore. The good news is that I didn't find any invasives! 

What a wonderful start to the day (but by 1pm, it felt like 4pm).

Thursday, July 22, 2021


This bell mouth ram's horn snail is native to Maine - yay! - and we have them living in Lake Arrowhead. The shell is a flat spiral, as opposed to the ice cream swirl type of shell of the invasive Chinese mystery snail. It's an aquatic snail that breathes air and feeds on algae.

We also have a conically spiraled snail that breathes with gills, also living in our lake but it has been introduced. It gives birth to fully developed young snails that mysteriously and suddenly appear.


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Fungal Beauty

This little mushroom in my moss is so beautiful, I couldn't help but share it.


Tuesday, July 20, 2021



I have a Virginia creeper that I planted beside my deck despite many people, even those who support native plantings, warn me that it's pretty aggressive. It has grown up the side of the deck trellis onto the railing and I really like having it there next to our outdoor seating area. It has attracted an incredible variety of creatures for feeding, pollinating and housing - dragonflies, spiders, ants, wasps, hornets, flies, bees, birds. 

As you can see, something has woven a web net around these leaves to form a capsule for their offspring:

And something else has made this cocoon funnel

The flowers are teeny tiny, and are almost lost within the bold foliage. But they bring loads of pollinators:

Unfortunately, Japanese beetles love this plant too. I keep a pair of heavy rubbery flip flops on my deck railing nearby to combat their insurrection as much as possible. I had just read on a news feed that these pesky beetles had arrived, and I saw my first one that afternoon!

Monday, July 19, 2021


Banded net winged beetles doing their thing

 A hungry two-striped grasshopper (I think) enjoying my plants

This is a scorpionfly (they don't bite or sting) on my butterfly milkweed


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Stump Display

I had to walk through the shallowest, calmest section of my cove with my phone above my head to get to this stump and photograph the most beautiful dusky pink rose. It must have looked rather funny to onlookers. To me though, it was well worth negotiating the algal-covered, spidery roots of the stump it calls home, to get this close to our delicate, native swamp rose, Rosa palustris. I had no idea what was lurking beneath the dark buttresses of the stump, but I braved it for these pics - and I'm glad I did. 😀

I took these pics on July 7th, 2021. I happened to come across pics from last year's display, taken on July 8th, 2020!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Tricorn Methods


We bought 6 ears of corn when it was available at the unbelievable price of 5/$1.00. When I buy vegetables fresh like this, I like to use them up soon, so we've each had an ear of corn for the past 3 nights, and I realized that we'd cooked them differently (and successfully) each time!

The prep was the same - cut off the tasseled end, soak in water for 20 minutes whilst still in the husk, and then

1) cook on the grill for 15 minutes, turning occasionally

2) microwave on a plate, husks and all (6 minutes for two pieces)

3) bake in the oven in an ovenproof vessel for about 20 minutes.

Once cooked, in whichever of these ways you choose, cut off a section at its biggest point closest to the end, grab the silk end at the other end (much narrower) and squeeze hard (you may have to use oven mitts), just like squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out the tube until the corn slides out, unhusked and silk free (I learned this from my husband, so can't take credit).

Mmmm, mmmm, yummy! No butter needed.

Friday, July 16, 2021

More Fascinating Galls

Ew! For some reason, I find these spindle galls a little icky-looking. They remind me of thick worms or maggots, but they are just the 'homes' that mites have created for their offspring to develop in. It makes the leaves of my black cherry look deformed, but it doesn't mean the tree is diseased or sick at all. It's just another microworld of our world, and nothing needs to be done about it.



Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Flower Delights

 Here are two more wonderful natives blooming in my yard

Steeplebush, or Meadowsweet

Foxglove beardtongue

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Pick your Poison

I love weeding my garden. I love the peace and calm it brings me - it's slow paced, and yet I know the little changes I'm making make a difference over time. I regard the cove at the edge of my land as an extension of my garden, it's just that it's a water-garden. Every garden needs some TLC, and weeding, right?

In summer, I love wading through and weeding my cove. We have a problem with Variable Milfoil, an invasive, in our lake, and I work hard to keep it from getting a foothold in MY cove. It gives me a reason and purpose for investigating ALL sections of my lakefront where such plants may be hiding and thriving, and the water is refreshing in summer, which is a bonus. Some of the silt I walk through is a muddy substrate that can't take my weight, so when I feel solid ground beneath me I'm buried to mid-thigh in silt. The silt suspension is the thickest one can get and still be liquid - a little like walking through a Metamucil or Citrucel drink! It's cold down where my feet are, and there are many buried stones, branches and logs, which can hurt sometimes. 

And, if I stay in one position for long, it's really difficult to pull my legs out to walk elsewhere - there's a suction that threatens to split your body off at the knee if you don't fight back. Anyhow, this seems to be where leeches hang out too ... on my most recent foray, we found 9 tiny, light brown leeches feeding on me when I got out. I hadn't felt a thing. They were the color of freckles, but their tapered shape gave them away. They didn't hurt, and 3 days later, they were just small red spots, and hadn't even been itchy.

I think biting flies (deerflies, blackflies) and mosquitoes bother me more when I'm weeding on land than these leeches do! At least leeches are stealthy and quiet, and don't make a big noise about coming to feed on you! Flies and mosquitoes harass with their noisy buzzing before they feed.

It's when I do a combination of wading and swimming (see the photo below that Dale took) that I become bait for all manner of biting insects, aquatic and aerial. Here I was lying on a boogie board to suspend my body on the silt layer, so I could reach the shallower areas where milfoil was growing without throwing up clouds of silt that would mess with my visibility - this is prime leech, mosquito and biting fly territory (and opportunity): shady, and damp. It does mean I have to reach my hands deep down into the cold muck to loosen the roots, but it's less difficult than wading and being sucked down as the silt settles and covers your feet.

I love this work! I can't stop myself from doing this regularly, despite the irritations!

Monday, July 12, 2021

Calling all Nectar Lovers!

Ok, all you butterflies - I planted this for you, so come on down! This is my most prized butterflyweed, in the same family as milkweed (Asclepias). I recall wanting one of these plants many years ago when I lived in MA, and in my naiveté, I'd assumed butterflyweed and butterflybush were one and the same thing. I mean, bush, weed - neither is very disctinctive (okay, okay, I now KNOW that this is why it's best to use Latin names), so I went to a nursery AND BOUGHT BUTTERFLYBUSH! Argh, what a numbskull.

That was then, this is now ... I learned from my mistake, and have bought the native -weed for my Maine garden. It's a joy and delight, but a difficult one to photograph.


Sunday, July 11, 2021

Morning View

I started off the day with coffee on the dock - so peaceful and serene


Before I knew it, I was in the water, wading through weeds to take pictures,  carrying my phone above my head, just in case ...


Sheep laurel

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Elsa Sparks Inquiry

Elsa, the tropical storm, came to visit yesterday (with a vengeance; can it rain any harder?), so I decided to find something to do that was lake-related that could be done indoors ...

I had collected some aquatic plant samples from a kayaking survey the day before, and they needed some careful inspection, since the distinguishing characteristics aren't yet very obvious this early in the season. The samples were floating in a tray of water, waiting for investigation on a rainy day - how convenient! To me, this intense scrutiny with non-laboratory tools was preferable to vacuuming and cleaning whilst trapped indoors. So I set about pulling leaves off their stems with a scalpel, tweezers and a needle - I needed to view the leaf bases of the two different samples under magnification. Dale took this picture while I was busy - when one of my mentors saw my results, she described the sample as looking 'mangled' though the magnification was adequate!

One of the small leaf samples is visible on the pink plastic grid to my left, so you can appreciate how small a fragment I'm looking at. I must say though, that my 'results' didn't help me in the slightest!

I had fun anyway - it was challenging fun. But, sadly this activity didn't last all day, so I ended up cleaning the house after all. But we also opened a bottle of red wine to accompany the beef and roasted potatoes I made for dinner, so not a bad day at all. (I also thawed a blueberry streusel cake that made for a great dessert when accompanied by ice cream). Life is GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!