Month: June 2014

In the very center of things

In the center of the flower

lies a sequence of events,

a sequence

that was found

by a man

named Fibonacci.

echinacea
echinacea

It is said that in

the late 1100’s

he captured Indian numbers

and spent his life

finding rhythms and patterns in them.

black eyed susan
black eyed susan

Of course

we know that

the bee cares naught about

numbers

and even less

about a man named Fibonacci.

yummmmmmmm
yummmmmmmm

 

 

church

This is my

church,

this path by the river,

where the birds are my choir

and the

deer

squirrels

mosquitoes

and two very wet

golden retrievers

are my

congregation.

wet and happy
wet and happy

 

Taken at the Daniel’s area of the Patapsco River State Park in Maryland. This is my favorite walk by the river, no sounds of civilization except for the occasional freight train across the water and plenty of places for a golden retriever to get into trouble. It has a very spiritual vibe to it and I always feel regenerated (and happily tired) when I leave it.

fritillary

Fritillary.

It sort of rolls

off the tongue

in a

silly

hilarious

way

which belies the

serious beauty

of this

butterfly

seen in my garden

yesterday.

My only regret

was

not being able to photograph

the underside of

this gorgeous creature

before it fluttered off

to find other food

that was served

without the audience.

Great Spangled Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
aka Speyeria cybele
aka Speyeria cybele on the coreopsis grandiflora (tickseed)

 

Fritillary:  any of numerous nymphalid butterflies (Argynnis, Speyeria,and related genera) that usually are orange with black spots on the upper side of both wings and silver spotted on the underside of the hind wing

Merriam-Webster dictionary

buzz

The differences are

plentiful

the similarities are

striking

but

it remains obvious

that

one is a bumblebee

and one

isn’t.

bumblebee
bumblebee
bee-like fly
bee-like fly

Okay, so, thanks to my friend Melinda, I was corrected about my post on the honey bee. Since then I have found out all sorts of interesting things about bees and non-bees that I never knew.

1. Not every big, round flying insect with yellow and black stripes is a bumblebee or honeybee.

2. Bumblebees and honeybees have “elbowed antennae”. In other words, their antennae are longer and have a joint in the middle so that that they bend back down toward the head. The flies usually have very little antennae at all with no bend in it.

3. Bees have four wings, two on each side. Flies have only two wings. I have noticed, but am not sure how common this is, that the bee folds its wings down totally while drinking while the flies wings stay spread out away from the body. (As an aside, this is how you can tell the difference between dragonflies and damselflies too. Dragonflies keep their wings out and damselflies point them up to the sky while resting.)

For more info on spotting the differences between bees and flies check out:

http://beespotter.mste.illinois.edu/topics/mimics/

http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek110701.html

Despite the differences, the one similarity is that both bees and flies are great pollinators. Bee populations are definitely declining, I have only seen a couple of the big guys on my flowers this year (so far). It is also apparent that pesticides are causing a huge decrease in the population. This is an article about a “bee-kill” in Oregon that fellow blogger Just Another Nature Enthusiast told me about this morning. Evidently a company sprayed some linden trees to control the aphid population and ended up killing 1,000 bees. There had been serious limitations put on this pesticide in Oregon after a similar incident last year. The company that sprayed has had their license suspended.

It reminds me of how the pesticides almost decimated the osprey years ago. This was finally turned around by banning the pesticide in this country. Hopefully we can do this for the bee killing one. I’m not gonna hold my breath.

J.A.N.E. has also let me know that this past week was “Pollinator’s Week”. Hooray for pollinators everywhere!!!

 

reward

My reward

for cleaning

bird poop

owl pellets

mouse guts

and other

unmentionables

from the cages

of the

owls

vultures

and hawks

was to

hold

the kestrel

for the first time.

Pavlov

would be proud.

holding the kestrel
holding the kestrel

Yes, this is the same kestrel that I took pictures of during the Washington Photo Safari a couple of weeks ago. (see below) That was before I started volunteering and getting much more intimate with these wonderful birds.

throughout the branches
through the branches
shyness abounds
shyness abounds

beeeeeeeeeeeeee

The neighbor’s

honey bee

is gorging itself

on

my flowers.

I have a jar

of honey

in my kitchen

in exchange.

I’m pretty sure

I got the better deal.

IMG_1751

UPDATE:

one of my naturalist friends has alerted me that this is NOT a honey bee but a bee-like fly. I am leaving the post because it humors me, but I am aware that it is biologically incorrect. I will be doing more research and may write a post about it in the future. Or not.

Thanks Melinda.

the horses are on the track

Dad’s ride to the OTB

Chapter 2. (For chapter one, click here)

Dad had no trouble getting into my car, despite it being an SUV. (Actually, I think it’s almost easier for him because it does not require him to bend his knees at all, he just slides his butt into it.) He even put on his seatbelt which in some ways says more about his dementia than anything else. He has spent a good portion of his life flaunting this law because it was “uncomfortable”. I told him that we didn’t need the wheelchair because he was not getting out of the car until we got back to the nursing home.

Anyhoo, there we were, on the road up to Hillsdale NY, on Rte. 41. This is a typical New England road, hilly, twisty and quite scenic. At one point you pass by “Hairy coos” otherwise known as Highland cows. As we were driving, dad got out his wallet and started counting his money. After he finished he sat there quietly in the passenger seat. Then he asked me, “Do you have any cash?”

“I don’t know, I’d have to look.”

A pause.

“How much you got?”

“Well dad, I probably don’t have much right now, maybe about $20.”

“Well fork it over.”

I’m trying not to giggle too hard at this as I ask him,

“Wait, I’m supposed to supply you with cash for your gambling?”

“Yes.”

“Huh”, I said, continuing to giggle.

A longer pause this time before he says,

“What other type of money do you have.”

Snorting out loud I said,

“Uh, dad, I am soooooo not giving you my credit card.”

He was quietly miffed at this.

When we made it to the OTB, which resides in a strip mall, all the spaces close to the door were taken. This did not stop my dad from telling me to park in that spot in front of the door, “The one with the yellow X.”

“Dad, I am not parking in a no-parking zone.”

“Yes, just park there and I will go in and place my bet and you can stay in the car.”

Classic George Vincent style…rules were made for everyone but him.

He was not happy when I told him he was not getting out of the car, that I would go in and make his bet for him. We spent about 15 minutes figuring out what he was going to bet and this is where I saw some of the real effects of the dementia. The man who could make bets blindfolded had difficulty remembering what he had said two minutes previously. BUT, he managed to come up with two bets, one for $20 on the number 5 horse and one for $20 on the number 10. (Neither one was California Chrome, my dad never was into betting the favorite, especially a horse going off at 4-5.)

I then took his money and went in and made his bets for him. I gave him his tickets which he stashed away in his shirt pocket and we drove back down the line to the nursing home. He had no problems getting out of the car, and I had him wheeled back up to his room for a nap before dinner.

For those of you who want to know, dad didn’t win a dime that day. In fact he wasn’t even really sure of what was pre-race fluff and what was the actual race. But that didn’t really matter. What mattered is that I gave him another chance to go do something that was a part of his psyche. Something that gave him pleasure (and disgust when he lost) for so many years. I am grateful I didn’t turn him down, and I am grateful for the nurses for encouraging me to take him for a drive. I’m sorry that the $20 the nurse put on California Chrome didn’t pay off…both for her sake and for the fact that it would have been exciting to see another Triple Crown. But that’s horse racing for you…sometimes it’s the anticipation that is the best part.

Dad (and me) in his racing heyday
Dad with the green tie and me in the red shirt in the winner’s circle for his horse in 1985.