Saturday, May 31, 2008

New Flowers

Poppy ^

Globe Flower^
Cool, overcast day, the first of a three-day weekend for me, so I went to the garden center and brought home stuff to plant: a globe flower, trollius chinensis "Golden Queen," (which is about four and a half feet tall) and an Icelandic poppy, papaver nudiaule "Champagne Bubbles" are two things I bought which I've never tried to grow. They came home with me because they met the qualifications of being "yellow" and "white" and "something new." Also along for the ride home were the more usual suspects: ageratum, verbena, lobelia, and these little pink-and-green-leaved plants, what are they again? Vinca, I think. Variegated vinca. Whatever it is, I got it and everything else in the ground just before the rain came down and the thunder rolled.


When my sister asks you if you want a drink, just say "yes," because she knows what she's doing. Chilled glasses? Colored sugar? Check, and check. It's not just a drink, it's a cocktail.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Littlest Predator

At least, it's smaller than the last predator I wrote about. And it has six more legs! I noticed this fierce little guy on the window screen and figured he was so busy with his lunch he wouldn't mind me taking a few pictures. He's a jumping spider. Quite scary-looking now that I get a good squiz. I was letting the lens do all the brave stuff; I was an arm's length away, naturally. A distant appreciation's what I crave here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Italian Wall Lizards

I have at least three Italian immigrants living in my backyard. At least, that's as many as I've seen at once. They're quick as lightning, so they're hard to count. But as the sun grows stronger, they come out to bask, and although technically they're an invasive species, so far they cause no harm, carry no parasites, and oh, BTW, they eat my aphids so they're ok by me.
As I say, they're quick, and awfully shy, so you'll have to zoom in on these to get a good look.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Morning Yoga

Still quite limber for a girl who'll be thirteen this August, Fiona practices her yoga in the garden every fine morning. This particular position is a favorite of hers, one she likes to follow up with a good long stretch and a snack of raw, unprocessed ornamental grasses.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Recipe For Disaster

You can't believe everything you read on the safety seal of your mayonnaise jar. Let me save you all a lot of disappointment by telling you now that a shatterproof jar, while it is indeed convenient, does NOT, in fact, make a great salad.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Something Pretty

I don't know about you, but all that avian activity has worn me out. Let's kick back with a couple more relaxing, ain't-that-purdy shots of spring flowers. Here's the durable, dependable, poisonous-but-lovely lily-of-the-valley. It's been blooming for weeks now, and when the flowers fade they'll be replaced by bright red berries, which will contrast nicely with the by-then-yellowed foliage. As perennials go, it has quite a long showtime.
Thanks to my Canon's indispensable Vari-Angle display screen (still can't understand why THAT was discontinued) the sweet pink and yellow insides of these low-growing darlin's are revealed to living things that happen to be more than two inches tall.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Make Way for Ducklings

In this case, make way for just one duckling, the only one observed so far this season along the route I usually take. The duck and her lone young'un were grazing and splashing in the same spot yesterday and today, followed all the while by two drakes who would try time and again to get close, only to have the mama lower her head and charge at one or the other until they backed off. (As you can see here in this video.) But after a bit, they'd be trying again. Drakes don't care what mama don't allow, gonna follow 'round mama anyhow...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Spring Migration

The migratory path of the plastic garden flamingo (flamingus suburbanus petroleumus) begins here, in a dark cave in Garagistan, where they have hibernated peacefully all through the long, cold winter. The unique position of the cave's only opening admits no light until the earth's axis tilts just so, and the first rays of the spring sun shine through it and awaken the salmon-colored slumberers from their seasonal nap. As their eyes become accustomed to the crepuscular light and they survey their surroundings, they experience an urge to undertake a migratory journey, spurred on by the slowly dawning realization that they are sharing this cave with a cat. And, they are...birds. So it is they ready themselves for their yearly trek, which will take them many thousands of inches away from here. Their journey begins.

Danger Along the Way

"No, Bob! Don't move!! It's quicksand!!!"
The oasis had seemed a welcoming place, as oases are wont to do. Filled with grasses and fruits and not-too-stagnant pools of water, it beckoned to the road-weary three, who fed and refreshed themselves, capering joyously about, just having a bit of fun....when suddenly, disaster struck!
Too late the travelers realized the hidden danger, as Bob made a near-fatal misstep and was quickly sucked into the deathgrip of a quicksand patch! He struggled for just a moment and was up to his feathers before regaining control of his natural reflex to flail about in panicked terror.
Thankfully, his intrepid companions' ridiculously long, thin legs came in quite handy, as they bravely risked their own exquisitely graceful necks to extend him a helping limb, and pull him to safety.
"Bob, you reckless feathersack!" they scolded him when it was clear he was out of danger. "Don't you ever scare us like that again!"

Safe Arrival

Even though they managed to overcome many hurdles and solve many survival-related problems during this time, f. suburbanus remains a none-too-bright species, and upon arriving at their summer home, they managed to get into one last pickle.
Still somewhat disoriented from their short but arduous journey, the trio flocked to the nearest tree and perched awkwardly in its branches, apparently unaware this is inappropriate behavior for waterfowl. It will be a few days before their peabrains adjust to their new surroundings, and they settle in a more suitable location. Such is the lot of the beautiful-but-dim.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Easy Come, Easy Go

We haven't received our "economic stimulus" check yet, but yesterday's mail did cough up a lil' sumthin' sumthin' in the way of a Federal tax refund. And, oh harsh coincidence, DH noticed the refund check was for almost exactly the amount of the credit card bill that arrived in the same day's mail. Hmmmm.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Where Have You Been All My Life?

If anyone could tell me, it's you, TomTom.

I'm not in the habit of endorsing commercial products here, and I have no other GPS device to compare this one with. TomTom might not be the best, but it's inexpensive and portable and seems to be simple to set up and use. All I know is, having a GPS in my car might just change my life. Like, for the better. Like, I won't be calling you out of the blue to say "Listen, I was trying to find Bay Park, but now I don't know where I am...I think I'm still in Oceanside...I'm near some railroad tracks..." Yeah. I'm like that. So I have hopes, people. High ones. So far, I've only been in a car while it was on, not actually driving the car. So we'll see. I'll be trying this out. Where should I go? (Polite responses only, please.)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What Now?

I think I have some kind of bark beetle. Well, not me personally, but the pine tree in back. Its foliage has been yellowing for a few years now, though it gets new growth every year. Then last week I noticed these holes. They could be from insects, or just from woodpeckers or sapsuckers (who would be going after...umm...insects. Shoot.) It will be sad if we lose this one, planted as it was from a wee sapling some thirty-odd years ago by either my brother or my sis. (Two were planted, one survived, we're not sure which.) The holes aren't random, they're kind of in a straight line, ringed around the trunk. A couple of hapless ants are immortalized in the sap droplets. Apart from the holes, I don't see any tunneling along the inner layers, under the bark (which has always, to my memory, peeled a lot, so that might be normal. I don't know what kind of tree it is exactly.) So, I'm hoping it's birds, as maybe that would mean the grubs are gone and the tree can recover. It's putting out new growth at the tips as usual, so for now I will fight the invaders with organic weapons like insults and regular watering.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Jamaican Wildlife Tour

Yesterday we found ourselves with an hour to kill before starting our evening shifts at the library, and it was such a beautiful day, the DH and I decided to walk up to Captain Tilly Park, on Highland Avenue, next to Jamaica High School. It's a badly-littered nine acres of water, greenery, and playground equipment that nevertheless serves parents and children, lunchers (like the chap in grey above), and even a few runners seeking a breath of air and a place to stretch their legs. The pond needs an aerator to keep down the algae, and unfortunatly, that piece of equipment is, for some reason, moored by two ugly, broken-down, red plastic barrels with the word "danger" unevenly hand-lettered on them in white paint. Despite its visual flaws, the park has a lot of what wildlife wants: water and fallen, rotting tree trunks offering food and shelter. Of course, we brought cameras. (The photo of the monument was taken by Ken.)

Together, We Can...

...all share this log. Yes! The spirit of reptilian brotherhood allows four to bask on a submerged log that might fit only two less cooperative individuals. Or so goes some such anthropomorphic nonsensical imagining on my part as I snap these red-ear sliders basking in Goose Pond. Great name for the pond, by the way. Took a lot of imagination, that did: "Yeah, we can't get rid of these Canada geese no way, no how. They've completely taken over! Might as well name the durned pond after 'em!"

Take A Gander At THESE Babies!

Midway through spring, and it's time to make way for goslings. Canada geese are year-round residents of our cities now, and these were hatched in the park. Still too young to be far from the gimlet eye of their parents, they're already quite sizable, except for comically short wings.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Procrastination Rewarded

Sometimes, it's good not to be on top of the weeding right from the start; sometimes the uninvited, left unpulled, are the most beautiful of all.