Our good friends and neighbors have been generously inviting us to visit their home on the shore of Lake Michigan every summer for the last many years. It is a beautiful, relaxing place in a small town where people know each other for generations. For non-adventurous people like Dan and I, the main entertainment is preparing meals and sharing them with a cast of characters we have grown to know and love - then watching the sun set in the west as we digest.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
My mom had a couple of strokes last fall. She is better except for the permanent loss of 25% of her vision and because of this cannot drive. She has been going through her things for the past few months, trying to get rid of as much as possible so she can more easily move into an apartment with senior services.
She found this forgotten photograph, dated April 1960, during her sorting. Dad must have taken it. Mom was 25 years old here, with three children. She is folding my brother James' cloth diapers. She looks so young and happy.
I remember everything about that kitchen. I lived in that house with my parents and four siblings from the time I was born (2 years later) until I moved away to medical school. It's hard to believe we all fit in that house, but it never seemed cramped to me.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
One of the reasons I like native plants is that they are much more difficult to kill. Many of them spread nicely, too, which appeals to my cheap side. This native fits the bill on both counts. It needs a little more moisture than my yard normally provides, but I found a nice little spot for it within reach of my neighbors sprinkler system, where it has lived happily ever after. This plant was featured at our local research forum on the Oak Openings region. The researcher found that when the population is small the plant makes flowers with only female parts. I must have a small population. The carpel is towards the top of the flower. There are no stamens!
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Dans parents dog has been staying at our house for a few days. He's an energetic, happy-go-lucky kind of guy - except when it comes to other dogs. He tends to go berserk when he sees another dog on a leash. Maybe the leash is the key to his behavior.
These are some phone shots of him playing with my neighbors dogs. Molly (the blur on the left) is a few months old Chihuahua mix and Uno an elderly Pomeranian. They are never on leashes and ran up before Finnegan or I knew what was happening. They played together all the way around the block, two evening in a row. Go figure!
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
He may be cute, but I'm not so sure there's much going on in his little noggin. He (or she?) has been hanging around in Hudson's territory for the last few days. I do not relish the task of removing a bunny carcass from Hudson's jaws, so I have been trying to scare him away every time I see him (after taking advantage of his poor instinct to take this photo - I was about 2 feet away). We have Great Horned Owls, Fox, and Coyote in our neighborhood. I would rather have one of them reap the nutritious rewards.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Monarch butterflies lay eggs on Common Milkweed near our patio as early as April, when the shoots are barely 2 inches tall. This year, until today, no caterpillars. Why is any one's guess.
It was reported in March, 2010 that the overwintering Mexican population, devastated by storms, had decreased by as much as 60%. That summer, frustrated by my inability to find a Monarch chrysalis in the yard, despite seeing Monarchs everywhere, I purchased a butterfly house (basically a 2 1/2' by 1 1/2' net bag) so I could see the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. I was soon overwhelmed. The milkweed I brought in had so many eggs attached I was unable to keep up with the emerging caterpillars (I ended up harvesting milkweed from the abandoned railroad track nearby). Friends with milkweed gardens reported similar experiences, both last year and this.
A quick search of the "monarch tracker" on www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch shows nothing amiss for this year. I'm not taking any chances - this little guy is safe in the butterfly house!
Saturday, August 6, 2011
This doesn't look too appetizing to me, but apparently it is quite a delicacy to a certain wiry terrier around here. Hudson had to stand on his tip toes to nab one off the side wall of the turnpike bridge during our walk this morning. Dead or alive, it takes him only two crunches to down the little critters. The cicadas have been here for several weeks. They seem to get louder when the temperature rises. An old wives tale says there are only six weeks from the time cicadas start to sing to the first frost. That would put it around a week or two from now!
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
The Lesser Purple Fringed Orchid (Platanthera psycodes) is a state threatened species in Ohio. It is such a pretty Orchid, we try not to attract attention to ourselves when we check on it - for fear someone will dig it up. Our native Orchids are finicky plants and rarely survive once moved. This plant is flowering later than usual, almost certainly due to the drought we had earlier this summer. There were three plants in this ditch last year, but so far, this is the only bloom. We plan on (stealthily) checking for the other plants over the next several weeks in hopes of another bloom!