What to do with that pile of magazines?

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Shred some colorful magazine pages and weave the strips together. I had fun making greeting cards yesterday out of slightly heavy weight, glossy pages. If you have any ideas about shredding, weaving and gluing techniques, please share!

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I particularly like looking at them from a distance. They sort of start to look like real art!

I know it’s out of focus but check out that color!

Flower henbit

Henbit is an early spring-blooming edible member of the mint family. Members of the mint family have square stems. (Feel them!) The flowers look like fairy orchids. Hens love them. They also provide urgently needed nectar and pollen to early arriving hummingbirds and honeybees.  I will get a better photo. They often grow near chickweed and are regularly confused with dead-nettles.

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Dead-nettles are also members of the mint family. Their blossoms peak out from under fuzzy, edible leaves.  The leaves turn reddish-purple as the season progresses. It’s Greek name, Lamium purpureum, means “the purple monster’. Sometimes they cover a plowed field, turning it completely purple. Watch along the road as you drive through farmland.

Flower Creeping Charlie

No, it’s not a Johnny-Jump-Up! Too early for violets here but not too early for Creeping Charlie. Often called ground-ivy because of the way it covers the ground, this edible member of the mint family has many names: Creeping Charlie, gill-over-the-ground, alehoof, tunhoof, cat’s foot, field balm and run-away-robin.  It was among the first herb and edible plants brought to North America by early settlers.

58 degrees and buggy! Winter took the day off.

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58 degrees and buggy! Winter took the day off! I tried unsuccessfully to identify the bugs that follow but think they are all in “fly” family. Never noticed legs like that one above before. And only saw the unusual legs because camera acts like a magnifying glass.

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Silhouettes are fun! High fashion bug!

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They all have long legs, long antennae, thin bodies, wings longer than bodies and wings folded over body when at rest. That bug looks similar to a mosquito.

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I wonder if all the tiny dots are the bug’s dinner. I couldn’t see them with my naked eyes.

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These were the only bugs inside the house. They were tiny and there were a lot of them. Actually there was another bug inside, a wasp, captured and released before I thought about taking photos.

First wildflowers for me in 2017

On a rainy Sunday morning I went for a walk, wondering what I would find for my blog. All of a sudden I noticed red swamp maple blossoms scattered on the road like tiny Valentines! Be warned. The sniffles you have may be the start of your annual tree allergies! flowers-swamp-maple

I thought the blossom tips fell when caterpillars nibbled on the tender branches. So much for that concept. At least I don’t think there are any caterpillars out yet. Reminder: Winter fireflies were out 01/01/17…

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Then I noticed tiny white blossoms on delicious winter cress carpeting the road’s edge! Are we skipping winter in southern Maryland this year?

Indigo Girls

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“Indigo Girls” is a guaranteed hook! I know my daughter won’t miss this! Last night I photographed my blue jeans by mistake. Then I couldn’t stop! Camera phones create instant magic!

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Indigo waves!

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The heft of fabric folds!

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Don’t forget your camera phone is also a pocket microscope! Enlargements offer new perspectives. My camera phone is one of my favorite playmates!

Beetle-kill wood? The Beetle Kill Trade Association? My heart skipped a beat!

 

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The bottom  of a dead tree trunk full of beetle holes caught my eye and I wondered how to share it on my blog.  An hour later, while innocently reading the Sunday New York Times, I encountered an article with a good hook:”Small Colorado Resort Goes Big With a $700 Lift Ticket”. The price included a pair of skis or a snowboard made of beetle-kill wood. Beetle-kill wood?!?! Bingo!

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According to Google, “The mountain pine beetle has killed large numbers of the lodgepole pine trees in the northern mountains of the US state of Colorado. Chemical prevention is effective but too costly for large-scale use. If not removed the dead trees increase the incidence of wildfires, and may contribute to climate change as they decay. Uses have been found for the dead wood including composting and in construction, and potentially to make biochar.”

 

“Beetle kill wood is also being used in local projects. Multiple housing complexes are beginning to use beetle kill wood to replace sidings of houses, like a condo complex at Copper Mountain which is replacing old siding with blue-stain wood, which is named for the dark color in the wood that is caused by fungus carried by the pine beetle. Snowboards, skis and guitars are also being crafted from beetle kill pine.[1]

The Beetle Kill Trade Association has been established to “to unite and align the self interests of business invested in or interested in the removal and recycling of standing beetle killed lodgepole pines in order to remove obstacles to the creation of a viable, vibrant and sustainable market for products utilizing beetle kill pines as raw material.””

What about southern Maryland beetle-kill wood? The emerald ash borer has devastated most of our lovely ash trees. Photos of dead tree and bark follow.

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The beetle exit holes are supposed to be sort of “D” shaped. Look closely. Some of the beetles made their “D”s backward. Local guitar designers seeking beetle-kill wood are encouraged to contact me.

Quick before it’s gone! Living in the moment is a full time job.

Quick before it’s gone! Living in the moment is a full time job. My Girl Scout granddaughter wrapped tinder around a stick and created a torch. Fire soon became a dancing ribbon of smoke. This morning we awoke to a winter wonderland. Because I waited for daylight before photographing the Chinese fir, the snow’s softness was already collapsing into ice crystals.  Today my focus is on moments, brushing a tooth rather than brushing teeth. First moments, last moments, each moment, every moment. flower-peace-lily

‘Apologies to Robyn!’, ‘Belly up to the bar!’ or ‘Duck!’ Name this photo.

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Could this be a Forage Looper, Robyn?  This moth was on the outside of my kitchen window on the morning of 1/26/17. Still dark. Approximately 39 degrees fahrenheit. Gone before sunrise so I didn’t get a top view.

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Or is this a Forage Looper? Inside, after sunrise but no idea of temperature. HELP!

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Notice how different the antennae and legs are, and how each moth holds its wings when at rest. Suddenly we’re face to face with moth ID clues!  I’m not sure  I’m up to the challenge, knowing that 11,000 kinds of moths have been recorded in the United States and Canada…

Pellet or Poo?

On our morning walk, my husband watched me pause to examine a series of small brown blobs in the road before hurrying to catch up with him. “Aren’t you going to take a picture of the poop?” he challenged. So back I went, camera in one hand, stick in another. He was right. I shouldn’t let my blog followers down.

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I poked the blob apart. It was mostly fur with other bits I couldn’t identify and possibly a bone. Google recommended microwaving pellets before examining them… Maybe next time… and with a microscope! Bet you can’t wait!

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Enlargement didn’t help. Our suspicion was they are red shouldered hawk pellets. FYI, pellets are regurgitated, ie. they come out of a bird’s beak instead of its butt.

A pellet, in ornithology, is the mass of undigested parts of a bird’s food that some bird species occasionally regurgitate. The contents of a bird’s pellet depend on its diet, but can include the exoskeletons of insects, indigestible plant matter, bones, fur, feathers, bills, claws, and teeth. In falconry, the pellet is called a casting.

The passing of pellets allows a bird to remove indigestible material from its proventriculus, or glandular stomach. In birds of prey, the regurgitation of pellets serves the bird’s health in another way, by “scouring” parts of the digestive tract, including the gullet. Pellets are formed within six to ten hours of a meal in the bird’s gizzard (muscular stomach).

The pellets weren’t in the road at 3:30 PM yesterday. So dinner was later. Maybe it’s an owl pellet! Google says American hawks don’t hunt at night. We found the pellets at 9:30 AM.

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The artistic pink creation above is herring gull scat (poop). Trying to ID the seeds. I learned that autumn olive seeds turn raccoon scat pink but I don’t recall ever seeing pink raccoon scat. Maybe it’s winter grape? Or maybe magnolia seeds, though I don’t think they’re the right shape. Do you see the red skin bits that encased the seeds? Since scat varies according to animal’s diet, any guidance is appreciated!