Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Another Arrowhead Arrowhead

This late-blooming Arrowhead was found on a floating mat at the end of September. It belongs to the water-plantain family.

It looks as if this is the Grassy, or Grass-leaved, Arrowhead, Sagittaria graminea, which is the Arrowhead that doesn't have arrowhead-shaped leaves! This one can sometimes be referred to as the Slender Arrowhead.

So delicate, with papery thin petals.

Monday, October 30, 2023


We found this stripped-like-spaghetti mushroom in the yard last week - I wonder who went to all the trouble of splitting the stem, and to what end?

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Floating Islands

We have some interesting landscapes and habitats on Lake Arrowhead. One of the habitats that I find fascinating: floating islands. These are peculiarities of nature - it's a drifting, buoyant mat of vegetation roots, mud and peat floating on the water; there is no connection to land beneath. The interconnected, horizontal nature of the vegetation's creeping stems help bind it together as one mass.

The interface of water and matted roots is one of the best places to explore, since they host a unique and diverse selection of plants. Many have an abundance of sphagnum moss as groundcover. I've found cotton grasses, bulrushes, sedges, cranberries, sheep laurel, sweet gale, leatherleaf, sundews, false foxgloves, rose pogonias, St. John's worts, pipeworts, and bladderworts - to name but a few (!) - hiding in all the rich, intricate places.


There might be a few stunted fibrous-rooted trees, but tap-rooted plants don't do well here. As you can see, the trees remain small.

They are sometimes called bog mats or quaking bogs. These areas provide very sheltered and safe areas for wildlife. I've seen a lot of beaver, muskrat and duck activity on these floating islands, with well worn paths and runnels through the vegetation. When I try to put my weight on it though, it slowly sinks.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Scavenger Hunt

Clue: The only place where today comes before yesterday ... 

This was a fun activity prepared for my recovery after I complained of feeling bored - a scavenger hunt of clues around the house (my only domain). One of the tasks was to call up one of my daughter's friends (after unscrambling her name from a bunch of letters), and ask her for the next clue, not exactly the same as the 'phone a friend' lifeline on the TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire, but a novel concept that resulted in a delightful catch-up. 

Some clues were tucked away in the exact location I'd looked already, but just very well hidden. It kept me busy, made me bend and contort, as I focused on something other than counting specific knee exercises and repeats for a few days.

While I was busy having fun, my expert home "nurses" catered to all my needs and frivolous whims: re-arranging pillows, plugging in extension cords and cables for my devices depending on where I chose to sit, refilling my ice-cuff, fetching blankets, refilling my meds, bringing me tea, picking up the debris I always leave behind after vacating a spot, finding novel ways to make me laugh, and encouraging Dallas to cuddle with me!


Friday, October 27, 2023

Radiant Radiata, Part 2

A specimen of Utricularia radiata I'd collected for comparative interest, showed signs of beginning a new float and flower, so I tried to photograph it each day through its development, over a period of 8 days.

The floats start off pretty much folded inward, and slowly spread open to allow the flower to float to the surface.


We eventually released it gently back into the wild after appreciating its uniqueness.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Radiant Radiata, Part 1

This magnificent specimen of a native Floating Bladderwort really brings home how much more refined it is compared to the grotesquely huge Swollen Bladderwort. 

Those floats holding up the flower stem are only about 3" across, from end to end. Very delicate, and absolutely radiant in the fall sunshine. 

It's sometimes hard to spot because of its small size, but the way it breaks the surface tension of the water surface is a tell tale sign that something needs a closer look.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Muted Splendor

 What a fantastic view to heal by ...

.. but muted, because I feel so useless despite making good progress. I don't have the energy level I'm used to, and I'm tired of putting my feet up (whoever complained about such a luxury?), and sleeping on a bed isn't that easy to do. I want to do things, but still feel limited.

Post-op visit this week was great and very encouraging. Onward, ho!

Monday, October 23, 2023

Guess Again

I challenge you to figure out what this pic is ...

 Tomorrow all shall be revealed ...

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Moss Castle

Appreciation of mosses - this beautiful piece of art and resilience awed me when I encountered it.

Robin Wall Kimmerer points out in her amazing book Gathering Moss that mosses are an extremely resilient plant, having endured every climate change that has ever happened.  

They are amazing and incredibly adaptable - "A moss can lose up to 98% of its moisture and still survive to restore itself once the supply of water is restored. Even after 40 years of dehydration in a musty specimen cabinet, mosses have been fully revived after a quick dunk in a Petri dish." Moss

Friday, October 20, 2023

Fall, though a Web

The dewy mornings of fall show where all the spiders are hanging out

  I took a lot of pictures before I got one that focused on the drops of dew - I was almost ready to give up.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

A Pet Peeve

I just loathe having to lift scatter rugs and bath mats to sweep, vacuum or Swiffer the floors. Yes, I'm very lazy when it comes to household chores, but give me an aquatic plant to take apart and I'll spend as much time and energy as is needed to get down to the nitty-gritty.

Okay, back to the peeve at hand - I usually do the lazy thing of sweeping around and in between mats, or vacuuming all of it, WITHOUT lifting the floor coverings. When I finally DO lift them all to put them in the washing machine, I'm faced with this horrible debris - so much fluff, grit and hair lurking! How embarrassing (and then I go and share it!!! What a knuckle-head 😞)

And no this is not a chore being done with a new knee, this was part of prepping the house beforehand.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

A Simple Solution

A combination of factors precluded me from venturing far in my kayak for much of this past summer - 

1. a knee problem, which made it difficult to haul and transport my kayak to distant locations, and launch on my own

2. a small car, that is shorter than my kayak (I didn't want to ruin yet another windshield)

3. having the closest area of my lake treated with herbicides, resulting in no plants to look at close to home this year (boring)

I just HAD to venture further afield, but it would take 45 mins (or more) to paddle to my chosen location, and after spending 3-4 hours surveying and recording, the 45 minute paddle home was daunting. I was feeling frustrated.

We hit on a simple solution to almost all the hurdles - travel with the kayak sticking out the back of the car, with the trunk tied down, and use a tarpaulin shield inside the back opening to mitigate the dust explosion from our untarred roads. 

And this ... using our wood cart to transport my kayak from car to shore without help! Oh joy, what a happy girl this made me. Such independence and freedom was gained from some minor adjustments!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Fall, Framed

I had this artsy view of the fall splendor through the bulrushes - Dale claims it's what Moses also saw!

Bulrushes aside

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Saturday, October 14, 2023

A Matter of Scale

Here is a comparison between two mature bladderworts that have similar structures and habitat. The diminutive one on the left is the delicate native, Utricularia radiata, while the one on the right is not native to the Northeast - it's Utricularia inflata, the robust Swollen Bladderwort.

Since finding the invasive Swollen Bladderwort on Lake Arrowhead in 2021, this is the first occasion on which I've seen both species in flower at the same time (it's the very end of U. radiata's bloom time, and the beginning of U. inflata's.)

As you can see by having the scale in the photo, the radial floats of the native are only 2-3 inches across the diameter, while the non-native boasts a diameter of almost 8 inches. The radial floats (specialized leaves) are much more fleshy and sturdy on the newcomer, and they are also tapered (pinched) towards the central flower stalk.

Quite a difference!

Friday, October 13, 2023

Volcanic Island


I know I'm being dramatic, but I thought this emerging, jagged stump looked like a volcanic island (in miniature) emerging from the sea.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Triggering the Kraken

The Kraken inside me erupted during the night of 10/10 - 10/11, I'm ashamed to say. 

After my knee replacement, they woke me up! So rude - I just wanted to sleep. Anyway, the late hour of the day, my nausea, and low blood pressure necessitated an overnight stay, which I wasn't too happy about.

Did I have a sense of foreboding, perhaps? What they call their 'short stay bay' is a series of tents side by side, in my opinion. It's mostly a curtain, with just enough wall to accommodate their machines that need plugging in. No sound blocking or dampening attempted. 

I came equipped for sleeping in a strange place though - headphones, earplugs, eye mask, CPAP machine, and a meditation download. BUT none of it helped! The meditation was 3 hours long, full of calming thoughts and images and cosmic sounds but it was useless. Nobody in 'tent city' was considerate enough to lower their voices, or try not slam metal cabinets shut, or respond to beeping machines. It overwhelmed the calming, even voice of the meditation. 

Then around 1 a.m. the woman in the next door 'tent' decided she was ready to try her walker up and down the walkway in between our curtains. So it was scraped across the floor, unfolded and placed down emphatically to ensure it was fully unfolded, then she thought it was time to share her family history with the nurse on her back-and-forth travels. Her decibel level alerted me that she might be deaf, so the nurse was also talking loudly in order that she was heard. There was absolutely no attempt to talk in hushed tones - I think they thought they were going for an afternoon stroll after tea to catch up. 

I lost it. I pulled the assistive devices off my face and shouted, "How is anyone expected to get any sleep in here?" No response, no change.

I started listening to my audiobook, but still the noises came punching through - a person being checked in next to my bay had to answer a ton of  questions, the beeping machines had to get hooked up and multiple plastic bags opened, metal tools were placed on tables, cabinets were opening and shutting. Aaargh. In the meanwhile the old dear next door was still connecting with her nurse and the man down the hall couldn't stop coughing.

My nurse came in to give me some pain meds and a Kraken arose from within. It was ugly. I asked why people couldn't be more considerate - didn't they realize this was a glorified tent city, and they were disturbing everyone. Plus it was way after 1 in the morning - when was it going to stop? I showed her how I was doing my part by trying to cover all bases and orifices in my head - what more could I do? I said I'd a good mind to call my husband to come and take me home (and I'd still get more sleep than I was now after the traveling). 

Oh man, that Kraken had been stewing for a while, and was full of poison. When the nurse asked what she could do (why did I have to do the problem-solving, the Kraken thought), I said she could simply point out that they were being inconsiderate and could try talking in hushed tones instead.

I must have fallen asleep briefly sometime after that, because I recall waking and thinking it was probably 6:30am, but horrors, it was 3:30am on the same day! So here I am writing it all down instead of sleeping. 

Here's what the leg looks like, (they 'had to' shave part of my leg) and it's been walked on already! 

But now that's behind me. I'm walking again and home, where I want to be.


Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Bristly Nuts

 Beech Nuts cases kept getting caught in my acorn picker-upper

Their outer cases are pretty bristly looking

They project a monstrous shadow!

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Crest on a Pileum


The reason why this noisy, clucking bird has the name Pileated is - it has a crest on its pileum (the area between a bird's beak and nape of its neck), just in case you were wondering!

Monday, October 9, 2023

B is for Bladderwort

Bladderwort beauty: 

Whorls resemble a birdcage,

Leaves tipped with bladders

Buoyant and bobbing,

Brilliant in the sun's beam,

Rooted base absent

Bristles get triggered,

Blitzing bugs into their bags

To break down and eat

Badass bladderworts!

Preying on beasts and helping

Lake and benthic health. 

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Reading Nature's Stories

Not everything is expressed in words on a page. The physical world around us tells us stories and provides visual information every day. We often forget to read what is there, or have lost the ability to read or understand what is being communicated. 

This is the sad reality of our civilization that has lost its connection to nature and our part of it. We are not stewards to lord it all over the world, but an intricate part, one of the equal teeth on a cog, that helps it function.

We are a part of nature, not above, or in control of, it. Learn to read and understand the stories that are laid out right in front of us.