Monday, August 31, 2009

Time For Another Insect Closeup

Look what I found on the tomato plants this evening! A tomato hornworm, parasitized by the cocoons of brachinid wasps. I've read about these, but this is the first time I've seen one in real life. He's a goner now; a luckier hornworm would have eaten all the tomatoes and tomato leaves he could hold, then metamorphosed into a sphinx moth. You can see from these photos that the tops of the little white cocoons are mostly all open, so I guess the wasps have emerged already, and all the excitement's over.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Olivia Does Key West, Part 1

Ken let Olivia drive the last leg of the trip into Key West. (I thought it set a bad example for the boys, what with her being unlicensed and all, but she brings out the scalawag in everybody!) He had to work the gas and brake, of course.
It turned out Olivia was well-know in the southernmost city; here, Ken and Alex give her a boost so she can pose next to her name on the street sign:

Well. I can't begin to tell you how excited Olivia was when we arrived in Key West to find out her name was all over town. She was pleased as punch to have so many photo ops, but I confess I didn't do a very good job of lighting her in the street scenes. Mea culpa, sweetheart. We'll shoot more in the daytime next trip.

Olivia Does The Keys, Part 2

Our pale-pigskinned beauty does not (perish the thought!) have a tanned hide, as you know, but the beach at Bahia Honda was so beautiful, Olivia couldn't resist a brief go at sunbathing:
She basked in the sunshine on Ken's T-shirt for a few glorious, golden moments, until the delicious aroma of bacon began to draw a crowd...
then everyone cooled off with a little snorkeling:
Sooner than we thought, it was time to head home.
Olivia kept the boys entertained with all sorts of rascally antics during the long drive back to the airport.
Despite a few diva-licious moments that I promised Olivia were forgiven and forgotten, she once again proved herself a hardy, adaptable little traveling companion who plays well with others.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shameless Huckstering

Come on out to the Vibe Lounge in Rockville Centre, this Friday night, that's the 28th, two days from now - and check out the newest blood on the rock and roll block. 60 N. Park Avenue. $10 cover.

Tell the guys at the door you're there to see Vacancy. They come on about nine.

You won't regret it!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Key West (Butterflies and Bird Edition)

A surprise hit with the teenagers: The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Myself, I never pass up one of these places. I was thrilled that everybody else liked it, too. This one had a lot going on in the nursery, where pupae and chrysali and whatnot were hanging and hatching and drying their wings in plain view. Not to mention, button quail chicks = so cute. But it was hard to take photos of that because of the glass and the lighting. (It's always some excuse with me, isn't it?) So no chrysalis photos, sorry.

Lunchtime. Overripe banana, anyone?
This very fancy finch fit right in. A few varieties of finches and Chinese Button Quail live in the huge aviary as well.
Recently hatched, wings now fully inflated and dried, this one was later brought outside to join the big boys.
Blue morphos, from South America, win my vote for Most Disneyfied Look, as they often fly in groups of three or more, following each other in an erratic, cartoon-y line through the air, right past your nose. At rest, they usually fold their wings to display the dull brown pattern of the underside. This one below, who's more than a little ragged, was quite lethargic, too tired maybe to fold up, so we were able to get a good look at its metallic blue coloring. So that's my recommendation: take the kids, even if they're old, jaded teenagers. I'll bet they like it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Key West (Floral Edition)

Key West in August is very warm, very humid indeed. On the bright side, everything's in bloom.
Ken took the shot above, the one below, and the one below that, the banana tree.
Look up there! Bananas!
I think this one of the fan palm is his, too.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Key West Chickens

Chickens were far more visible than cats last week in Key West. They were all over the streets near our inn. It seems unfathomable, I'm sure, that I never obtained the iconic crossing-the-road shot that would have made the whole trip worthwhile, but the chickens would all wait, quite cannily, until I let go of the camera and then they'd dart out! in front of us, into the road and on to the sidewalk across the street. Go ahead, ask the others if that didn't happen.
See those chickens? See that road? They crossed it, I swear. I just didn't get it down in pixels.
This one here is mocking me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Key West Cats (and one from Long Island)

While we made friends with the southernmost felines below, our own four-legged Fiona stayed up north, the royally-treated guest of my ever-patient brother. (With this, her second stay, Fiona reached "Purr-furred Guest" status at the Murphy Meow-iott. How exciting!)

This is Pumpkin, a member of the staff at the Westwinds Inn, Key West. He's most attentive during the poolside buffet breakfast. He sees you have too much cream cheese for that bagel, he'd be glad to clear it away for you.

These other two were just passersby in the streets, they didn't have much to say for themselves.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

You Got a License For That Tongue?

We were having coffee outside, and I was deadheading some flowers, when all of a sudden there was barking and pitiful yelping and a man shouting out front; I ran down the driveway to see this massive canine making a mouthful of a tiny dachshund. Armed with pruning shears, I ran over to help the guy, (my neighbor Mr. P) who also had another small dog on a leash. The dachshund got away, and I grabbed its leash and brought it into my garage, while Ken got hold of the big dog, who turned out to be a gigantic, slobbering sweetheart. The little dog seemed fine, (if half-drowned in drool) so Mr. P loaned us a leash, and Ken secured Cujo to the front railing. I set him up with water and some dry cat food, and the big softie ate and drank and sat on the steps whimpering like a three-year-old lost in the mall. I walked up and down the block showing his photo (thank you digital camera) to the neighbors, and was able to return the dog to its owner, who lived just a few houses away from the canines he'd terrorized.
Then, two sheriff's deputies in an unmarked vehicle stopped to ask if everything was all right; it seems they'd been on my block, serving a warrant on a house five doors down from me. What?! Um...yeah, one of the houses I'd knocked at, but had gotten no answer from. (Whew!)
The little dog is getting checked out by the vet, but he seemed uninjured and I don't anticipate any problems. On the bright side, I met a couple new doggies. The dachshund, Hunter, is an absolute doll, and that gentle, drooly giant above is Beamish. (On the dark side, what was that warrant for? Who are those neighbors? Should I worry?)
All's well that ends well, but that's enough excitement for one day, thanks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Now THAT'S Exfoliation

There are two praying-mantises around this year, I think. And from the looks of this molted skin, one of them just got a little bigger!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Grey Doily Of Death

From a lizard's perspective, it's quite a pretty tent, isn't it?
From here it's a ragged lace handkerchief thrown on the shrub.

From here it looks like an invitating oasis, a miniature landscape of frozen delights, with a cave you should probably not approach, if you know what's good for you.