Entries to Win Afghan

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Winners are: 3rd place- e-book of your choice: Wendy Nystrom. 2nd place- book of your choice, paper or e-book: Sue Ann Crawford. Winner of the afghan: Elaine Hull.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Peony Surprise

I've apparently never showed you my peony before. That's not the surprise. It doesn't usually bloom.


In fact, in the 46 years we've lived on this property (and the peony was there when we moved in) it has only bloomed in the years I remembered to fertilize it just when the leaves were coming up. You know me well enough to guess that was not very often. I did pretty well the few years I worked hard at flower gardens, but that's not too recent.

The big surprise is that I did not fertilize it this year and got three blossoms anyway. Not bad for no effort.


That said, of all the peonies there are in the world, the double pink ones are my least favored. When I was a kid we had a long strip bed of them that were alternated white and deep red. That I liked. In fact, I went back to that house once between owners and "stole" a dark red one. Guess what. When it came up and bloomed it had reverted to pink. I didn't know they would do that. Needless to say, that was a bummer.

So, I played with the picture. This peony I could almost like.


If I ever get back to Ann Arbor at the right time of year, Nichols Arboretum has a spectacular peony garden. That would be a photo op, for sure.

See Single Peony
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Can Numitor Skip to Numenor?

OK, I'm just being silly with the title, but this little guy's name is Ancyloxpha numitor, and I need some way to help me remember. Of course, I can't think of anything that will help me with Ancyloxpha. I can't even find out what that means.

Anyway, this is the most common of the skipper butterflies, called least skipper or least skipperling. But it's not the one I got pictures of before. So this one is ordinary, but the picture is pretty good. I'll settle for that.

least skipper

Numitor?- a descendant of King Aeneas the Trojan, and grandfather of Romulus and Remus. Numenor?- one of Tolkein's mythical lands... probably an allusion to Atlantis.

Skippers are very small butterflies with big eyes, so it's pretty easy to say, "It's a skipper." But there are several thousand species if you want to get more specific. I'll be lucky to remember this common one. But it's not too hard. The underside is solid orange, and the top wing doesn't have as much of a point as other skippers. I had to look at quite a few pictures before I figured out what they were talking about, but now I get it.

Anyway, he's cute, and this seems to be a week for "bugs."

In other news, after I got my second wind after work, I packaged up a book order for 2 copies of North Country Cache, rode my bike to the post office, mowed the lawn (not by the road yet), went and got mower gas and stopped at the bank. The yard looks really nice from a distance. We won't talk about all the ground squirrel holes, the sprouting autumn olive, the broken aspen tree I can't trim by myself, the weeds and divots. I just plan to enjoy the cool greenness for now. Wonderful weather today. I'll take every cool summer day I can get.

mowed lawn

See Hesperiidae (another skipper)
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Good Day to Be Green

This seems to be the week for insects. If this little one hadn't been bright green and sitting on a blue trash can, I probably wouldn't even have seen it. Its body is only a little more than an quarter-inch long. But look at those antennae!

grasshopper with long antennae

It might be a young grasshopper, but with those antennae, it might also be a young katydid. Young for sure- no wings yet. It's a pretty good match for the picture of a fork-tailed bush katydid nymph. At any rate, it made me smile.

See a full grown katydid
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Monday, June 19, 2017

Young Fifteen-Spot Lady Beetle

Wow! Just before we started the hike yesterday, this guy landed on my arm. And thanks to finding an old fifteen spotted lady bug several years ago, I knew just what it was! I find that pretty amazing in itself. And no one else there had seen one before, so I got to look really smart (smug grin). Most of us call them lady bugs, but of course they are really beetles, Coleoptera.

fifteen-spot lady bug

Anatis labiculata. Here's the side view.

fifteen-spotted lady beetle

As they age, the backs of the wings get darker and darker until they are nearly black with no spots showing. That's what the first one I found was like.

It didn't want to be anywhere except on my skin, for some reason. We had quite a time getting it off and onto a natural surface so we could leave. That seemed pretty strange.

I believe these are a native lady bug (beetle), but I did notice that strange smell, like the Asian lady beetles have, on my hands afterwards. Not as strong, but definitely there.

In other news, the weather was gorgeous today! And the sky was wonderful. I know, sky pictures are a dime a dozen, but I enjoyed it.


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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Manistee National Forest Challenge Hike #4

After the horrible humidity of yesterday, I wasn't sure I was looking forward to a 10 mile hike today. However, there was a great breeze and it cooled down a little too. Seemed like a perfect afternoon! We started with 10 hikers, but finished with 12. Instead of having people dropping like flies we were manufacturing them!

hiker group

Since I'm the leader, I've been staying at the back of the group to be "sweep" (the person who makes sure no one loses the trail or has problems of some sort). That has worked out really well for me, because it turns out we have several really fast hikers in this group. They just want to move down the trail and never stop. As you probably know, one of the joys for me is seeing many of the interesting little beauties along the way. So, since I'm last, I can just stop and take pictures and then catch up to the last people. I don't think most of the hikers even saw some of these.

Today, I found two treats. These are the tiny pinwheel mushrooms. I like them a lot.

pinwheel mushrooms

And here's a flower that isn't really rare, but I don't see it very often. Racemed milkwort, Polygala polygama. It likes sandy soil.

racemed milkwort

The hike today was part of what I backpacked last fall. We passed this burned and downed tree again. I really like this tree. And it looks so different from the way it looked in October.

burned tree

Sue and Sophie were also on this hike. Sophie sure likes climbing trees. This was the second leaner she walked right to the top of. The first one was skinnier and higher, but I didn't get a good picture of that. She has to check for possible chipmunks, you know.

dog climbing tree

Here are Laura and Sue at Tank Creek. We have two people who regularly walk with us who are 10+ years older than I am. Laura is one of them. I think that's pretty remarkable.


A number of peaceful small wetlands dotted the final miles.


And I liked these cedar trees singing in harmony at Tank Creek.

cedar trees

And, a final parting shot at technology. Sue was using the Nike mapping app. Laura had RunKeeper, and I was using Map My Hike. There was a huge discrepancy in recorded mileages. Nike said 10.39 miles. RunKeeper was something in between, and Map My Hike said 11.93 miles. That's 10% error in one of them. NCT online maps say about 10.6, so that suggests Map My Hike was the most wrong. Not making me happy.

Anyway, here are most of us at the end, proving that everyone was still standing and smiling.


Got a picture of a really neat bug, too. And it's cuter than the last one. Saving that for another day.

North Country Trail, Newaygo County, 6 Mile Road north to Nichols Lake boat ramp.

See MNF Challenge Hike #3
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