Compare and Contrast

I took this photo on June 27, 2020.

Local cornfield.

And these photos on July 31, 2020. Same corn field!

Tried to get same tree perspective for your comparison!
What a grass!

Other things have been growing, too. I have never tried to grow a Hibiscus, but some around here do. One person had a ditch full of pink, white and red ones! This is one Lucky and I found while walking the street.

And another

I think the red is my favorite!

Remember this photo of the milkweed from May 14th?

Look at it today! The tall ones in the back are about 5’8″!

Big guys in the back!

Has your spirit grown and prospered so far this year? Are you feeding upon the Word of God?

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,  but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.

1 Peter 1:24-25 (NIV2011)

Strange Summer

Besides the obvious corona virus restrictions and civil unrest, the Cicadas have been singing even though the large scale emergence is not expected here until next year. We have had sweltering heat and humidity. Frequent air quality alerts with ozone levels on the rise. Even the shrubs and trees look wilted. Then we had almost 3 inches of rain in 24 hours.

One particular evening a strange rain storm swept through where entire sky looked yellow. No storm sirens blaring or weather alerts, just so strange. Our cameras could not capture the tones we saw with our eyes. I was able to adjust the color somewhat.

Teeming rain and some wind

The only other time I have seen a sky similar to this was in Lexington, Kentucky years ago when a tornado was close by.

Weird and fascinating. I prefer those blue skies with white puffy clouds and low humidity!!

See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong. Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind, like a driving rain and a flooding downpour, he will throw it forcefully to the ground.

Isaiah 28:2 NIV 2011

For I know that the LORD is great; our Lord is above all gods.  Whatever the LORD pleases he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.  He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth; he makes lightnings for the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.  

Psalm 135:5-7 NRSV

Euchaetes egle

Yeah that is what I thought too when I read the name! We have been awaiting the emergence of monarch caterpillars. Recently while inspecting the milkweed plants I saw piles of tiny black poop on some leaves. A telltale sign of caterpillar activity. Imagine my shock when I found these instead!

Looking online for more information I found …

The furry milkweed tussock moth caterpillar looks like a tiny teddy bear covered in tufts of black, orange, and white. In their first three instars, milkweed tussock moth caterpillars feed gregariously, so you may find entire leaves of milkweed covered in caterpillars. Milkweed tussock moth caterpillars can defoliate a stand of milkweed in a matter of days.

The adult moth occasionally is observed on milkweed or dogbane, although you might not be impressed enough to notice it. The milkweed tussock moth has mouse gray wings and a yellow abdomen with black spots.

Mouse gray and yellow my foot! These ugly monsters are literally defoliating many plants and I am angry! Then Bob reminded me we have seen these before. Oh. I guess there is enough milkweed to provide for all of them. But WHERE are the monarch caterpillars?

Evidently, not here. Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillar U G L Y

Meanwhile, the corn is fine and growing quickly!

Unexpected

Have you ever done a tedious job that you might have to repeat? Then you dread doing it the next time? Recently our wireless internet connection went down and we needed to get the wireless printer reset to operate again. If you have had that pleasure, you press one button and then hold in the WPS button on the router down. It did not work.

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But while holding in the button I looked to the left, out the office window and beheld a wonder! A Scarlet Tanager, right under our feeder! And then in the branches of our maple tree. Nope! I could not grab a camera (holding in the stupid button) and even if I had run for a camera I might have missed the grandeur of that lovely startling bird. I have only seen one at our house once or twice before! Here is a photo from online.

Be still my heart!! Yes, eventually Bob and I figured it out together and all things wireless are working, for now!

“Human beings must always be on the watch for the coming of wonders.”

E. B. White

A few days later Bob and I took on another rather tedious job. Our office windows look out at the front yard and sun all day long. The window seals eventually rotted from all that sun. Bob connected with the building supply company who connected with the window company which eventually found the seals. He picked them up in northern Kentucky and then we played window installers and put the seals in. Yikes. I was grateful for my crochet and sewing experience! We had to feed this tiny plastic edge into a tiny plastic slot and get it to lock in. Had to make certain the corners were cut on an angle that would match the window. More than once we had to take it out. All the while the windows in question were open and the summer heat was pouring in vigorously.

Poof! While holding an edge of the window I looked down at my cactus garden tray. The tips of one succulent were amazing. Right there! Just then!

Right there in the midst of the tedium a wondrous sight! Oh, that appreciation made the job much easier.

There are treasures galore around us if we will just stay aware. May the blessings of your day astound you!

More from the Walk

I recently posted about a walk with Lucky at Sycamore Park in Batavia. I never finished posting all the photos! Here is yellow Jewelweed, also known as Touch-Me-Nots. When the seed pods form if you touch them the seedpod springs open and scatters the seed! Fun for kids 🙂 like me.

Notice the water drops from rain and subsequent humidity. Yep, I was soaked from humidity when we finished the walk.

This is the base of a sycamore tree. Makes me want to write a kids story about who might live in there. Oh! Maybe that is where Pooh goes!

I started to write that this was thistle, but when I looked it up I was corrected that it is actually a Teasel.

http://www.botanicalaccuracy.com/2014/01/teasels-tousled-with-thistles.html “The problem is the teasels (Dipsacus) are not too far away from thistles, but certainly not true thistles, but they look a bit like them and get confused with them a lot.  Teasels also have large heads of small flowers and are plants that look ferocious with spines.  The teasel itself got its name from that the flower heads were used to tease out the wool before spinning (carding). Several teasels are invasive in the United States and you often see them along highways in ditches and on road banks. Their flowering heads dry beautifully into gorgeous botanical stalks for flower arrangements.”

For comparison “So, can you tell teasels and thistles apart? Thistles have many (involucral) bracts below the flower head that form a cup below the flowers.  In teasels, there are just a few long bracts that stick out below the flower head.  The teasels have lots of sharp parts in the actual flower head, so the flower head looks like a spiny ball the whole season. In thistles, the bracts below the flower stays, but there are no persistent spiny parts inside among the flowers themselves.  The fruits, which are little nut-like, single-seeded achenes have a feathery pappus for wind-dispersal in thistles, but are naked in teasels. “

So much to learn!

Summer Walk

When I took Lucky for a walk at Sycamore Park (see Playing Michael Q. Powell) I made certain we went near the water. She was not interested in swimming, though I did put her feet in at one point. Discovered a flower or two I was not familiar with. Bob and I recently discussed Matthew 6:28 “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow…” Some translations read flowers or wildflowers. These plants remind me not to be anxious. My Heavenly Father knows all things that I need. He wants me focused on His Kingdom and His righteousness before all things. Seems this plant might be called Wild Petunia?

Wikipedia teaches that common chicory is also known as blue daisy, blue dandelion, blue sailors, blue weed, Bunk, coffeeweed, cornflower, hendibeh, horseweed, ragged sailors, succory, wild bachelor’s buttons, and wild endive. This is where we get the term describing someone’s eyes as cornflower blue. This plant is in the dandelion family!

Cornflower with a busy bee!

Growing along the sides of the road this always announces summer to me. I remember my mother teaching us that people used to roast the roots and use them to extend their coffee supply. It is caffeine free, but is supposed to taste like coffee. Can’t say I have tried it. It is still used and often known as New Orleans coffee.

Saw this thing below and thought, “What in the world?” Before I could look it up on the internet, I noticed a similar growth in my front flower bed.

Last spring I had some garlic in the kitchen that was beginning to sprout leaves. I decided to plant it where I could watch it. A friend had told me that if I plant it in the fall I could harvest my own garlic the next year. Granted, I chose a different time of year because the garlic presented itself ready to grow. Learned from Leslie Land at https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/gardening/advice/a18057/growing-garlic-460709/

“I spent most of my gardening life cutting off the flowering scapes of hardneck garlic so they wouldn’t draw energy from the bulbs. Then I read a story about a garlic growing guru who said it didn’t matter a whit. Well, it isn’t really much bother. Tender young scapes are delicious and older, curly ones look wonderful in the vase.” I never knew ANY of this! Perhaps I should have picked that “scape” at the park? Nah, leave it for someone else to notice and wonder about.

Keep looking around! Never know what you might discover in plain sight!

Bursting With Activity

The side garden is a busy place right now. It does not matter if I visit at morning, noon or evening, the milkweed is cluttered with bees, beetles, ants and aphids.

This photo only shows a portion of the milkweed. The fragrance is heady this time of year. Early evening carries one of those “knock you down” perfumes. We have seen a few monarchs flitting about. Have found no evidence of caterpillars yet. There seem to be tiny white/cream eggs on the underside of the leaves. They hatch so tiny that until I see actual holes in the leaves I cannot be certain we have newborns.

Until then, I enjoy the busy pollinators.

Even the bachelor buttons are humming with bees. Made me wonder how much pollen these plants produce? Do the bees run out after a few days? Seemingly not.

Looking this idea up on the internet I found these facts! “Very fond of milkweed blossoms, bees will desert other flowers when these are available. The plants provide a good nectar flow. Bees discard the pollen.  Assuming enough plants are available, milkweeds can bring a good crop of honey.” says https://www.beeculture.com/milkweeds-honey-plants/ Oops. I was only thinking pollen not nectar. Our bees are mixing it up between those two plants!

Will keep you posted as the milkweed gets taller and taller. Bob says it is taking over the garden. Jumps the rock border and tries growing out in the yard, where it is promptly mowed down. We started the seeds several years ago and have been rewarded with caterpillar feeding, raising and releasing after chrysalis.

Playing Michael Q. Powell

Walking the dog on a trail I had only taken once before on a night walk, I was startled and delighted to see an Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly, I think! I have been following Mr. Powell’s site for quite some time. His photography is amazing.

This photo was taken with my iPhone 8+ and the new dog on a leash in the other hand. I was delighted to capture this. And I immediately thought, “I am playing Mike Powell!”

Then I spotted one I could not photograph as it was too jumpy. It was a delightful almost turquoise. Have no idea what kind of damsel or dragonfly it was. Wished someone else was with me to capture the image.

We left that area and headed back to the car. And voila! There was another sort!

And another shot of same one. I even captured the shadow of it’s wings 🙂

Mike! Come help me in Ohio!!! Absolutely NO idea what this one is. I was walking near the east fork of the Little Miami river. It was a humid morning and the dog kindly cooperated while I took photos. What a champ!!

If you are interested in dragonflies and damselflies I cannot recommend a better site than https://michaelqpowell.com. He is a terrific photographer who also writes well. He is quite fun to follow. At least until he gets to the snakes.

Sweet Peas

Why are these important to me? First of all, my husband had this stone wall built to make it easier to garden on this portion of our hill. As you can see it is quite steep. Before we had the wall built I had started sweet peas from seed. I was delighted when they sprouted and bloomed for a couple years. When the men came to build the wall I asked if they might be able to save the sweet peas. They said yes. I failed to tell them where I wanted them to transplant the vine. Turns out they placed it smack dab in the center of the garden. As you can see the vines came back just fine! This year I decided instead of trying to train it I would just let it go over the wall.

But why is this flower memorable to me? Well, a dear friend told me about them. When I spotted them growing along a portion of the road we travel to get home I decided to try my hand at growing them.

Becky Sommer was my friend at school from at least 1959 (when we are pictured next to each other in the class photo). She is a highly talented artist whom I have always admired. Her parents were Dwight and Maria.

Dwight and Maria were married for 69 years before she passed at age 93. Her family was Russian and she was one of 8 children. She bore 6 children to Dwight. “Her creativity was expressed in her artwork and poetry, participation in Cincinnati’s Green Thumb Garden Club and All Saints Episcopal Church’s Altar Guild, flower arranging, and bringing style and warmth to her home and family.”

Dwight was music teacher at my cousins’ elementary school! He passed at age 98. “He was a gifted and beloved music educator at Elmwood Place School until his retirement in 1976. Dwight was so well loved and revered that 21 years after his retirement, the music room was dedicated to him. He continued to teach, mentor and follow the musical careers of many of his students until well into his 80’s.”

So besides being Becky’s parents why were these folks so meaningful to me? First off, Dwight drove me to high school along with Becky and maybe one or two others for years. Our high school was on his way to work. By playing our local classical radio station on the way to school he introduced me to a broad array of classical music!

When I joined the Episcopal church in 1965 who did I find there but the Sommer family! I had an immediate feeling of connection.

Maria once told me that when she and Dwight were dating he brought her bouquet of sweet peas. Evidently, he picked them on his way to see her. So growing them seemed like something I wanted to try. I know she had some flowers in her backyard, but don’t remember her growing them. I also remember she had terrible arthritis in her hands in her later years. I remember visiting once and being shocked to see braces on her wrists.

Still, why this strong connection to my friend’s parents? Well, when my family of origin blew up in 1968 I needed a place to live for a few months until my classes began at the University of Cincinnati. The Sommer family took me in. Maria had a huge old gas stove with a side drawer. Times I was upset she would sit me down for tea. Pulling out the crackers she stored in that drawer (being always warm the drawer kept them dry), she would fix me jelly on warm crackers to go with the tea. Then she would let me talk if I wanted to talk or just sit and compose myself. Cannot remember a better example of Christ’s love and compassion in my entire life, except maybe Mary Dirkse. She is another story for a different time.

I think Maria would approve of these vines hanging down from the stone wall, especially when the humidity leaves huge drops of dew on the flowers and leaves. Wish I had a nifty drawer to keep my crackers dry!

I know these folks are worshiping God on high. I pray their children and their children’s children follow Christ as closely as they did while here on earth! May I, too, live out their example while I walk the earth!

Lucky Dog!

Okay, so it turns out they had to pull eleven of her teeth when they brought her to Ohio. She evidently had tried to chew her way out of her “coop” for years. Just now she is able to be given crunchy kibble. We are still wetting it with some water for her and mixing with canned food. Eventually we will serve it dry with a little canned food and then, hopefully, just dry.

So the name debate has been “Sweetie” because everyone says she is a sweetie. But Bob doesn’t want to go to the door and holler, “Sweetie!” Then we moved to Lucky. Thought about Gummy Bear since she gums her food (though she has molars). Seemed a little mean. Bob thought up Chewbacca and called her Chewy. Grandgirl #1 taught us that Chewbacca was a male. So we have been tossing around Lucky and Chewy for a day or so. I think Lucky is the winner.

There is just nothing quite like watching TV with a soft beagle ear on your leg!

Robert has bordered on pet portrait here, don’t you think? She is starting to like him best. If he goes out to empty the compost she cries at the door. If he doesn’t come back soon enough she howls!

When we kenneled her recently to go the store together we could hear her barking in the house. When we returned she about flipped her tail off completely she wagged so hard!

She was bored the other day and brought me her leash out of the basket by the door. Yes, I took her for a walk. She can be beagle stubborn. If she does not want to go inside I have had to pick her up and carry her a ways. This old lady is getting a work out, not only increasing my daily steps, but lifting 20+ pounds with some regularity. Sometimes I just scoop her up to remind her she is mine and I want a cuddle.

Yep, I am a happy camper with this lovely beagle. Even though it means I swelter outside in nasty humid, hot Ohio summer weather. Oh well, I own plenty of dry clothes!

As my sister-in-law said even after you pick a name there will be pet names that might change day to day. So Lucky is a sweetie who may never know her name exactly, but she is learning some commands. In just one week she has gained our trust and grown our love exponentially. She is a keeper