In 2011, Sara was old enough for taking her to her first Independence Day parade. It was very warm the whole weekend. But we were prepared. Plenty of water, sunscreen and sitting in the shade helped tremendously. Katelynn and Sara both enjoyed the parade’s colors and candy. There were parrots, pirates, landmarks, Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty, the Fire Department & Police Department, and so many flags. It was a wonderful event to see people from the community celebrating 4th of July.
The gangly Double-crested Cormorant is a prehistoric-looking, matte-black fishing bird with yellow-orange facial skin. Though they look like a combination of a goose and a loon, they are relatives of frigatebirds and boobies and are a common sight around fresh and salt water across North America—perhaps attracting the most attention when they stand on docks, rocky islands, and channel markers, their wings spread out to dry. These solid, heavy-boned birds are experts at diving to catch small fish.
1) Pumpkin Blossom; 2) Black Raspberries; 3) Morning Raindrops;
4) Pokeweed Raindrops; 5) Black Swallowtail Caterpillars; 6) Eastern Carpenter Bee pollinates Motherwort Blossoms; 7) Gooseneck Loosestrife; 8) Turkeytail Mushrooms; 9) Honeysuckle Berries
Usually, when I go into the bathroom I always peek out the window in the morning. This is the time, when wildlife is very active on our property. I looked around the backyard. And sure enough, I saw the rearend of a White-tailed Deer. I put my shoes on, grabbed my camera and tried to be as quiet as possible walking out the patio door. When I looked at the spot, the deer was gone. Then I turned right and saw her standing in the fern eating tree and shrub leaves. I’ve couldn’t got a better surrounding as a picture frame with her. The doe kept eating breakfast for another couple of minutes, before she had enough and jumped back towards the forest. But first, she turned around to say “goodbye” for the day. Isn’t she beautiful?
Midway Geyser Basin: Exelsior Geyser Crater – Grand Prismatic Spring
The next stop was Midway Geyser Basin at the Firehole River. The Midway Geyser Basin is very famous for being the home of the Grand Prismatic Spring. The Grand Prismatic Spring is famous for its size and colors. With being deeper than a 10-story building and larger than a football field, it is the thrid largest hot spring in the world. The Grand Prismatic Spring gets its rainbow colors from the bacteria that lives in progressively cooler water. And the water scatters the blue wavelenght of light, and therefore the center reflects blue back to our eyes.
The Excelsior Geyser Crater is a dormant geyser, but a steamy blue spring. It is so hot, that the runoff water is still boiling, when it hits the surface of the Firehole River. The last time the geyser erupted about 80 feet (25 meters) high for two days was in 1985. Back in the 1800s it could reach a height up to 300 feet (90 meters).
When we visited, we also could see wildlife and wildflowers across the river. We’ve seen a big male bison grassing in the meadow, a relaxing female elk, a couple of ravens, and a big Flame Skimmer dragonfly. There were also wild roses and beautiful pine trees in the area. After the Midway Geyser basin visit, Kevin and I called it a day. We all were hungry and tired for walking around. Sara needed a small nap, before we had dinner at the camp ground. That night, we went to bed early to have an early start the following morning.
… to be continued …
Since I’m chronically anemic, I need an Iron IV booster every so often. Especially when I had blood loss due to my Portal Vein Thrombosis and bleeding from my esophagus and stomach last Autumn. With being on a blood thinner and anxiety medication, I can’t take regular supplemental iron. It just hurts my stomach. A month ago, my hematologist’s APRN ordered an Iron IV Treatment which will be four rounds. Now, once a week I have to visit my hematologist’s office and get an Iron IV. Thank goodness, we have that on schedule. I hope I will feel much better in about 6 – 8 weeks after the first treatment, today.
The background story blog:
Sara and I are so excited, we are raising our first set of Black Swallowtail caterpillars in the greenhouse. First, we had the dill in small pots outside. Then we saw five caterpillars on the plants and decided to plant the dill, where the birds have it harder to get to them. Right now, the Black Swallowtails are still small. But when they are nice, big and juicy, they are fair game for cardinals, jays, robins, … etc. to feed their offspring. Soon, we have to get some netting for the caterpillars. Once they become chrysalis, we can relax again. When they emerge from the chrysalis, Sara and I will name and release them with best wishes into the wild.
Our banana peppers, bell peppers, basil, celery, eggplant, lavender and tomato plants are doing very well. Our eggplant has shown a lot of growth in the last few days. Sara found Karmo, the toad, in the greenhouse again. He loves his daily intake of bugs. I mentioned to Sara, we need to build him a toad house where he can hide from the warm sun during the day. Right now, he stays cool by burring himself into the moist soil and comes back out in the evening hours. I’m glad we have finally built the greenhouse. It grows amazing food and attracts beautiful wildlife.
Ozzy is not a big fan of these big trees we have in our yard. They are too tall for him. And it seems he gets easily scared of heights. But we also have an apple tree, he recently started to explore. From there he can watch the birds and see what I’m doing inside the greenhouse. After he climbed the tree, he jumped into the tall grass and ended up on the English Yew branches. He was stuck for a moment and Kevin had to help him out of that cluster. Minutes later, he was back in the tree watching chipmunks on the ground. It never gets boring with Ozzy.
Common Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
Well, with owning a house, there are also lots of responsibilities to keep a house in shape, so it won’t fall apart over time. We bought our house in 2005. At that time, it was already 27 years old. It was maintained okay by the pre-owner. But it had signs of age. In 2009, we exchanged the older windows for newer, more energy-efficient windows. And in 2011, we fixed the foundation at one corner of our house, what you can see here. The workers dug up holes under the house, so they can push these 10″ pillars into the ground all the way until they hit bed rock. Once the pillars are in place, they use a concrete stone, which can sit on the pillars. When the space between the house and the concrete rocks starting to get tight, they place metal plates in to keep the foundation of the house straight. And this went all down with men power and a small compressor. Since Texas has lots of clay soil, and it shrinks and expends due to drought and rain, house foundations can be in trouble in a short period of time. We also have to remember, many moons ago, this area was all ocean, before it became prairie land.
This is a nice rain relief; we have been getting it since last night. The temperatures have been much cooler for the last couple of days. We turned off the air conditioner and opened the windows. This is a nice little break, before the Summer’s heat turns on again. The weather is supposed to be in the upper 70s to mid 80s (25℃ – 30℃) for the rest of the week.
The ‘Larus delawarensis’ is the most common and widespread gull in North America, especially inland, and numbers are probably still increasing. These gulls are sociable in all seasons; concentrations at nesting colonies or at winter feeding sites may run into the tens of thousands. The Ring-bill has adapted thoroughly to civilization. Flocks are often seen resting in parking lots, scavenging for scraps around fast-food restaurants, or swarming over landfills.
This evening, I walked in my yard and something jumped on my pant leg. First, I thought, a toad must have mixed me up with a tree again. But by closer inspection I saw a Wood Frog in the grass. He sat there very quietly for me to capture a photo of him. But when I tried to catch him, he leaped right under the Hosta leaves and was out of sight. His name is Bubba, and he is a good tenant catching mosquitoes.
From the Norris Geyser Basin, we’ve traveled up to the Lower Geyser Basin, which is inside the Caldera Boundary and the largest geyser basin in the area of Yellowstone National Park. There we looked at the beautiful Silex Spring, the Fountain Paint Pot and watched the Great Fountain Geyser erupt. It was windy in that basin. so, we felt the water from the geyser hitting us like raindrops. Katelynn seemed to enjoy it. Along the walk from the car to the boardwalk we noticed some beautiful flowers like Variable Groundsel and Blue Penstemon.
… to be continued …
Kevin and I went for a small hike at Echo Lake Park after dinner. He’s still recovering from last week’s trip to Dallas. The jetlag is real. The best way to get rid of it is moving around and staying hydrated. We did our little walk behind the lake. Back there we’ve met the King/Queen of Echo Lake, a nice big beaver. He/she was working on its beautiful water mansion, getting small tree branches from the lake dam. It was quite interesting watching the beaver swimming with the branch across the lake. A family across the lake was fishing. Once they saw the beaver, they were quite fascinated by the strength of the beaver as well.
My neighbor, Lisa, always gives me these beautiful plants for my garden. Lisa works for a garden nursery. And once the season is over, she gets all the plants she chooses for free. They usually still last throughout the whole Summer into early Autumn. Who knows? I might be able to extend the season all the way until the first freeze, in the greenhouse. So far, our tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, herbs and flowers do well. It’s not too hot for them. Sara can’t wait for me getting more raised beds and plants into the greenhouse. She enjoys hanging out there. Especially, when it rains, she still can sit in the greenhouse and watch the raindrops hitting the roof while she plays with toads. And our cats would be in ‘heaven’.
Happy Summer Solstice ~ Blessed Litha!
Blessed Litha! Sacred fire!
Magical sunrise stirs a desire
Queen of Heaven and of Earth
We celebrate your bright rebirth
We see your first blessed rays
In these magical solstice days
Ascending cycle to fulfill
Dancing on the silver hill.
Lilies burn with your desire
Intoxicating spirit fire
As oak and myrrh and mugwort burn
Elder, chamomile, and fern
The sacred serpent eats the Spring
Then brings Autumn on the wing
Burning wreaths of sweet vervain
The Goddess will return again.
Kevin and I visited the Little Pond Boardwalk Trail at the White Memorial Conservation Center back in March. Since it is not far from our house and an easy hike, we decided to take the girls and Christian there for a walk, last Sunday. Instead of snow and ice, everything is green and in bloom now. We walked by a lot of wildflowers. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a lot of wildlife. It was a nice 1.7-mile hike around the loop and back to the car.
If I could find the perfect words
I’d write them ‘cross the sky
In lots of shiny colors
With letters ten feet high.
Then everyone could read about
The man that I call dad
And how he’s always there for me
In good times or in bad.
I need to let you know dad
Cause sometimes it’s hard to say
But I have always loved you
And in my heart, you’ll always stay.
Thank you for just being you
I’m so proud you are my dad
You truly are my hero
And the best friend I’ll ever have.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Last Friday, Kevin and I decided to take the girls and Christian to Kent Falls State Park. We wanted to make sure, while Christian is here, he had the chance to see a few places in Connecticut. While Kevin, Sara, Katelynn and Chris hiked for a little bit, I stayed down and captured some photos at the bottom of the falls.
A couple of weeks ago, I went with our local photography group to shoot long exposure photos at the High Five Interchange in Dallas (Interstate 635/US Highway 75). Opening the shutter for almost half-minute, it will leave a nice car light trail. Using the higher Aperture (ƒ-setting), the street light will show a starburst. And putting the ISO low, won’t over-expose the photo with too much light.
This is something I learned at a carnival over two years ago. I’d always shoot photos in “automatic”. But one night, at the American Heroes Festival in The Colony, a fellow photographer from the group showed me, how to shoot my photos in “manual” with the right Shutter Speed/Aperture/ISO. What an amazing discovery it was for me. From that night forward, I never captured my photos in “automatic”. I always shoot in “manual”. And I love it!
Here are some of the images, I’ve captured at the High Five Interchange in Dallas, Texas on February 7, while having fun photographing with the group further south of the Interchange.
The mournful cooing of the Mourning Dove is one of our most familiar bird sounds. From southern Canada to central Mexico, this is one of our most common birds, often abundant in open country and along roadsides. European settlement of the continent, with its opening of the forest, probably helped this species to increase. It also helps itself, by breeding prolifically: in warm climates, Mourning Doves may raise up to six broods per year, more than any other native bird.
When Kevin, Katelynn, Sara and I left the Mammoth Hot Springs, we passed the Antler Peak to get to the Norris Geyser Basin. At the Norris Geyser we saw Steamboat Geyser and Emerald Spring. Unfortunately, we missed out on the Artist’s Paint Pots, Monument Geyser Basin and Beryl Spring. This means we need to go back to Yellowstone National Park again. 😉
Steamboat Geyser is the world’s tallest active geyser. It’s located in the Norris Back Basin. It has unpredictable, infrequent major eruptions of more than 300 feet, and frequent minor eruptions of 10 to 40 feet. As comparison, Old Faithful can vary in heights from 100 – 180 feet.
… to be continued …
“One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, one nation evermore!”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Happy Flag Day!
I swear, driving Katelynn to her first day of kindergarten was just yesterday. And today, ‘Little Texas’ (Katelynn’s nickname from other high school students, because she’s petite and from big Texas) graduated from High School. Where went the last 13 years? Katelynn grew from a little girl into a grown-up woman. This weekend she spent her time loading her car. Tomorrow, Katelynn and Christian will be traveling back to Dallas, Texas. It is tough for Kevin and me to have empty nest syndrome. Sara will miss her older sister very much. Today, I had to drink a German Hefeweizen beer to stay sane. *sigh*
This week, Kevin and Christian (Katelynn’s boyfriend) worked on the greenhouse. The roof still needed to be done. And it was a perfect time to have a man-to-man talk with each other. Both also installed my windows. Now, all that is left are more reinforcement beams and the door. The door I properly can build and install it myself. And when Kevin is back from Dallas, he can help me with those beams. The tomatoes and peppers are very happy so far.
Joshua met a new friend named Karmo today. Karmo is an Eastern American Toad. While Karmo leaped in the yard, Joshua kept an eye on that toad. Sara was concerned that Joshua might take Karmo in the mouth. Before it could happen, she just picked up the toad and sat it on Joshua’s back. Karmo leaped up to Joshua’s head, so he could see better. And Joshua was very gentle with Karmo. The cat let the toad sit there for quite some time. Later, we sat Karmo in the greenhouse, where he could catch some bugs.
Narrow-leaf Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)
January 18th, 2017
A couple of years ago, I saw a cooper’s hawk landing in our tree, to watch some small birds eating their seeds. I was very impressed by the size of this bird. After I did some research, I found out that little birds are the main diet of this hawk. So, by filling up the bird feeders I attracted the little birds, and therefore I attracted the cooper’s hawk. Back then I could capture a couple of photos of this beautiful animal, before it flew away.
Today, I had the same scenario: I filled up the feeders for the little birds. Some mourning doves, a common starling, and about a dozen house sparrows were munching those seeds away, when a cooper’s hawk landed in one of the trees in our yard. It observed the birds. But when it saw me, it flew off into the neighbor’s tree.
Cooper’s hawks are beautiful, but very shy birds. I also read a lot of reports about cooper hawks visiting the yards around this time of the year. And today was my lucky moment, again.
Bright red with a pointed head crest and black bib, male cardinals are always a welcome sight at bird feeders. Cardinals are year-round residents in the eastern two-thirds of Texas. They prefer thick underbrush for nesting. Cardinals have been expanding their range northward.
Both male and female cardinals sing almost year-round. Common calls include “cheer cheer cheer”, “whit-chew whit-chew whit-chew” and “purty purty purty”. Cardinals eat seeds, fruit, and insects, and are easily attracted to bird feeders, especially those containing sunflower seeds.
Male cardinals vigorously defend their territory. They have been known to attack their reflections in mirrors, windows and chrome. Sometimes they will even attack small red objects they mistake for other males. Females usually sing after males establish territory but before nesting starts. A cardinal’s nest consists of a tightly woven cup of roots, stems and twigs lined with fine grass and hair.
Cardinals are colorful, tolerant of people, have pleasant calls, and are easily attracted to bird feeders. That has made them a favorite of backyard birdwatchers all over the eastern half of the U.S. Cardinals may form winter flocks of 60-70 birds. Their bright plumage brings color to our yards during the winter when many other species have flown south.
This morning I planted my bell peppers, banana peppers, beef steak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sun gold tomatoes, basil, and eggplant in the greenhouse raised bed. Some peppers and eggplant show some fruit on their vines. With the rest, we still have to wait a little bit longer. I’m so excited, I’m growing my first garden in New England.
Once Kevin, the girls, and I crossed the state border back into Wyoming, our next destination was the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces. There are some interesting facts about the springs:
At Yellowstone each year, the rain and melted snow seep into the earth. Cold, to begin with, the water is quickly warmed by heat radiating from a partially molten magma chamber deep underground, the remnant of a cataclysmic volcanic explosion that occurred 600,000 years ago.
After moving through this underwater “plumbing” system, the hot water rises up through a system of small fissures. Here it also interacts with hot gases charged with carbon dioxide rising up from the magma chamber. As some carbon dioxide is dissolved in hot water, a weak, carbonic acid solution is formed.
In the Mammoth area, the hot, acidic solution dissolves large quantities of limestone on its way up through the rock layers to the hot springs on the surface. Above ground and exposed to the air, some of the carbon dioxides escape from the solution. Without it, the dissolved limestone can’t remain in the solution, so it reforms into a solid mineral. This white, chalky mineral is deposited as the travertine that forms the terraces.
… to be continued …
While Kevin and I are still working on the roof frame, I began to build one raised bed in the greenhouse this afternoon. I built the cinderblock wall, so I could fill it with soil and start planting. First, I made sure we had barriers against the wooden frame, so the soil cannot seep out when it is wet. Next, I used fire wood, small branches, our old Christmas tree needles and some leaves, I still found in the yard from last Autumn. And then I filled the bed with
- 5 bags of raised bed soil
- 5 bags of all-purpose sand
- 2 bags of cow manure
- 20 bags of topsoil
Now, I let it saddle overnight. And tomorrow, I’ll begin to plant some peppers and tomatoes in the morning. We are supposed to have a rain storm tomorrow evening. This will be a good time to get those plants nicely watered.
When we can’t go to the beach,
We will bring the beach home to us.
This is not the first time I’ve noticed a reddish dot in my waxing crescent Moon photos. My guess, I just caught one of the Luna orbiting satellites just at the right moment, when the sunrays or the earthshine reflect the satellite panels.
Today, Kevin and I worked on the upper level a little bit on the roof frame of the greenhouse. While Kevin installed the frames, I got all the smaller and more detailed work done to prepare the framework to go up in its place. Tons of screws and bolds had to be untightened in the framework and crossbeams had to be connected on the ground first to make it easier for installment.
While Kevin and I spent most of the day outside, we had the chance to see three Lockheed C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft flying over our property. If you are familiar with the Navy Blue Angels airplanes, the “Fat Albert” is also in the C-130 family. It was very cool to see this flyby.
Joshua is exhausted from watching Kevin and me building the greenhouse. I believe he had a picture of a greenhouse full with fresh catnip, grass and endless chicken meat with mashed potatoes on his mind. Not forgetting the place is full of life mice, shrews, and chipmunks to hunt and catch before he takes a nap on his cat hammock. Keep dreaming, Joshua! 😉
Clasping Venus’ Looking Glass (Triodanis perfoliata)
Since it is Summer time, it’s also vacation time. My family and I use to travel a lot all over the U.S. But we can’t always make it to the beach. Therefore, I make sure, we have a little bit of beach flair in our house during Summer Break. The shells come out of the boxes, and I start to be “artsy & crafty”. With some flower pots, candles, paint, shells & glue a lot of cool beach designs can be done. Here are a couple of ideas I had in the past. And Mr. Pelican approves it.
December 17, 2019
Benjamin is a 15 months old Norwegian Forest cat; we’ve adopted from our local shelter today. This is our third pet, we adopted in 2019; he’s our third Maine Coon next to Joshua and Chewbacca; and now we have six pets in the house. By city ordinance we are officially at our maximum limit.
Sara loves to call him Benny. Benny is still a bit shy, and tippy toes around the house, when he’s not hiding in his “safe place”, behind the Christmas tree. Katelynn lured him out with a toy wand. She loves how affectionate Benjamin can be around her. He rubbed his sides against her, and purred at her. Hopefully, he will be more comfortable around us in the next days to come. We gave him the best Christmas present what a pet could think of: a furever home.
The Mediterranean House Gecko is a relatively small, 4 – 5 in (10 – 13 cm), species that has become ubiquitous in certain areas of the United States. Unlike any native lizard, geckos have sticky toe pads, vertical pupils, and their large eyes lack eyelids. These geckos are generally light gray or almost white in color, but may have some darker mottling. This species is most easily distinguished from the similar Indo-pacific gecko by its bumpy (warty) skin. The Mediterranean House Gecko can usually be found praying on insects near external houselights or other forms of lighting on warm nights.
Like most other invasive species, the Mediterranean House Gecko breeds rapidly. Females are capable of laying multiple clutches of two eggs each throughout the summer. These eggs are laid in cracks and crevices in trees or man-made structures including buildings. Like rodents, the Mediterranean House Gecko has been aided by human development. It is very common to see the geckos on the sides of buildings under lights catching insects on a summer night.
It is uncertain how the Mediterranean House Gecko first made its way to the United States. It was first reported in Key West, Florida 1915. It is thought that this gecko was probably a stowaway on a ship from the Mediterranean area. Mediterranean House Geckos are quite common in the pet trade, which has no doubt led to its spread across the United States. Currently, this species has high numbers in Florida, and has established breeding populations all along Southern states.
Birds just waking up to sing
as nighttime slips away,
Dewdrops sparkling in the Sun
too great a brand-new day,
Fireflies lighting dusky skies
and strolls beneath the Moon —
What could be more perfect
than the lovely
Month of June.