Another wonderful month is almost over. Now, we’ll get from the vacation season into the harvest season. The school will be back in session, soon. Everything will be back to normal and on schedule. It’s time to say goodbye to July and welcome the new month of August.
Happy World Ranger Day!
This morning Kevin and I went on another hike at the White Memorial Conservation Center. The Apple Hill Trail has an elevation gain of nearly 500 feet and is 3.3 miles roundtrip. Along this trail, there are quite a few tree roots and stones and a marsh boardwalk to get to the observation deck. The Observation deck is a wooden platform with a staircase. From there we had a good view over a field, Bantam Lake, and the surrounding mountains. The wind was very refreshing in this humidity. It got warmer, and we made our way back to the car across the Marsh Point Road entrance.
Happy International Tiger Day!
Scarlet Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea)
Happy Adoption Anniversary, Luis!
Happy National Waterpark Day! Stay cool, my friends!
Several years back I told Kevin I would go to The Colony Shoreline Trail to look for some deer. Someone tipped me off about a certain area, where I would find some deer activity at sundown. On that night in mid-July, I wanted to see for myself and capture some photos. On the way out, I said: “Honey, I will hunt for deer tonight!” Kevin laughed: “Yeah, shooting with your camera?” “Yep, exactly”, I replied.
At the trail, I looked for some evidence. It didn’t take long until I found deer tracks. I hid behind a bush several feet away from the deer tracks and waited … and waited … and waited. The sun was setting, and I didn’t want to give it too much longer. It felt a little bit spooky, being out there by myself. All of a sudden, I heard something and saw a bush moving across from the creek. I tried to stay as calm as I could to keep my breath low. And then there she was: a doe was standing right in the open. Of course, the wind was blowing in her direction. It was too easy to spot me. Mrs. Doe looked at me for a little while, long enough that I could capture a few photos. And then she jumped back behind the secure bushes. That was it. But I’ve got what I wanted that night. Another night I found out why she was so hesitant. She had two fawns with her.
Arriving back at home, Kevin was resting on the couch. “Honey, I shot a deer tonight.” He looked surprised at me: “You’ve got that deer?” “Yep, I did get it,” I answered proudly. “Wow! First night out and caught it, huh?!” he said. I sat down on the couch and looked at the pictures with him.
Happy Adoption Anniversary, Zoey!
Happy New Jersey Day!
The most common rabbit species in Texas is the Eastern cottontail, identifiable by its two- to three-pound body, brown or gray coat, white belly, and distinctive white tail. They are widespread in brushy areas from southern Canada to South America, predominantly east of the Rocky Mountains.
Cottontails feed at night, subsisting on a variety of green plants, barks, buds, and grasses. Unlike the jackrabbit, which is actually a member of the hare family, cottontails are true rabbits. This distinction is important, as hares are born virtually self-sufficient, whereas rabbits are born hairless, blind, and helpless. In addition, hares tend to be larger and more muscular than rabbits.
The cottontail is an essential element of the food chain, serving as prime prey for many predators. As a result, cottontail life expectancy is extremely short — one year or less — requiring the prolific reproduction so often attributed to rabbit species. In addition to their reproductive strategy, cottontails thrive because they are swift-moving and can jump distances of up to eight feet at a time when pursued, making split-second changes in direction to frustrate and elude predators.
Cottontails are somewhat difficult to view, due to their swift and elusive nature. Viewing opportunities are best in brushy areas near ponds, marshes, and streams, particularly along the Texas coast.
by Shannon Blackburn in Wild Texas Travel Guide
The vine tomatoes and peppers begin to ripen in the greenhouse. And the seedlings emerge from the soil. So far, I have borage, bush beans, cucumbers, and sunflowers as seedlings. I believe that once it is a little bit cooler, some more plants will pop out of the raised beds. Due to last night’s rain, it was cooler today. This might help with seed germination. I also have a greenhouse helper: Button, the spider. She makes sure our plants stay bug-free. I haven’t seen Karmo (toad) in a while. He’s probably camouflaged or hiding in the soil.
It was time to leave Yellowstone National Park. We still had quite a way to drive to South Dakota. But in the meantime, we enjoyed the landscape along US Hwy 14. There were some cool mountain peaks and stone formations. We passed the Buffalo Bill Reservoir before we arrived in Cody. Cody had only one room left, due to a famous rodeo in that area. But we were not willing to pay over $200 for a tiny room. So, we had dinner and moved on. We made it through the Bighorn National Forest before we got into a motel close to Sheridan.
The following morning, we all cleaned up, had breakfast, and were ready to drive the next leg to South Dakota. All these years, I still wish we made it to the Devils Tower. But due to a time crunch, it was either the Devils Tower in Wyoming or Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. We chose the latter. It’s another reason to visit Wyoming again. 😉
… to be continued …
🦋 🦋 🦋
1) Tiger Swallowtail; 2) Gallium Sphinx; 3) Common Whitetail Skimmer
Chewbacca and Ozzy have their morning routine: First breakfast and bathroom before they like to go out in the yard and do some bird watching and basking in the morning sun. When the cats see me in the greenhouse, they both pay a visit for some fresh catmint. When it is too warm, Chewbacca and Ozzy come back into the house after two hours. But in Autumn, they all will hang out on the property for most of the day.
1) Red Bell Pepper; 2) Bush Beans; 3) Sunflower; 4) Banana Pepper;
5) Cherry Tomato; 6) Yellow Summer Squash; 7) Firecracker Plant
Golden Princes’ Plume (Stanleya pinnata)
Blinded Sphinx Moth (Paonias excaecatus)
Hiking along the creek and water reservoir in The Colony, Texas
Happy National Pennsylvania Day!
Today is the 53rd Anniversary of Apollo 11 landing with three Astronauts aboard, the Moon. On July 20, 1969, at 11:00 PM EST, Neil Armstrong announced, that he would make “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Mockingbirds are one of the most commonly noticed birds in the state of Texas. They are either applauded for their audaciousness or cursed for their persistence in nocturnal singing or in the defense of their territory. Insects, fruit, crustaceans, and small vertebrates make up the mockingbird’s diet. The fact that they enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables hasn’t exactly made them gardeners’ friends either, although they do eat lots of insects.
Mockingbirds are found in just about every habitat type in the state. The males’ territoriality and constant singing and displaying during the breeding season make them the most noticeable bird in Texas. Often this territoriality takes the form of early morning singing sessions or diving attacks on other animals or people!
Unmated male mockingbirds sing more than mated ones, and only unmated males sing at night. Both sexes sing in the fall to claim winter feeding territories. These areas are often different than their spring breeding territories. Mockingbirds mimic 50 other bird songs. They have also been known to imitate other sounds they hear such as rusty hinges, whistling, cackling hens, and dogs barking so expertly that even an electronic analysis could not tell the difference between the mockingbird and the original. Scientists have found that female mockingbirds are attracted to males that can make the most different sounds.
Once we left the campgrounds, we were on our way to drive along Yellowstone Lake and Yellowstone River. It was pretty smoky in some areas due to the fact of a wildfire in the park. The helicopters were frantically working on keeping the fire under control. However, it wasn’t bad enough that we had to evacuate Yellowstone National Park. Before we arrived at the Upper Falls of Yellowstone River, we saw lots of bison in the meadows and close to these vent holes. These bison are used for the sulfur stench. As long as they are warm, they didn’t seem to mind the smell of “rotten eggs”.
The Upper Falls are very interesting. But the famous Lower Falls don’t disappoint with a height of 308 feet (94 meters), while the Upper Falls are only a third as high with 109 feet (33 meters). The Lower Falls are nearly twice as high as Niagara Falls in New York/Ontario. Since the Yellowstone River bends in this area, the Upper and Lower Falls can not be viewed on the ground at the same time. Katelynn didn’t mind “modeling” in front of the Lower Falls back then. Now, she’s happy she has photos to show of her trip to Yellowstone National Park.
When Kevin turned around to exit the park at the East Entrance, we still could see a lot of wildlife: more bison, elk, ravens, and a young grizzly bear. We didn’t know, if the bear was already old enough to be on its own or Momma Bear is hiding out behind the treeline. Nope! I didn’t want to chance it. I told Kevin to keep his window up, and I photograph through the glass. In the early evening, we finally exited Yellowstone and drove US Highway 14 towards Cody, Wyoming.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_Falls: Video of the Lower Falls 2019
… to be continued …
We had rain all day, today. And it came down quite a bit. The rain was so needed. The plants and the animals appreciate the fresh water from the sky. Everyone and everything was thirsty; except for Zoey. She decided she could wait to potty. And she rather chose the home office to do her business. I told her, this is not the business we do in that room. Zoey knew she did something wrong. She lowered her head, the ears went down and she trotted off to take a nap in Katelynn’s room. The joy of owning a pet. I definitely could tell, she was embarrassed and sorry.
After Kevin and I were done with the greenhouse, he noticed some rustling on the hill, yesterday. Since this area is overgrown with grass and wildflowers, he couldn’t see what made that noise until a turkey came into sight. He whispered to me to come here. From my point, I could see a couple more turkeys in the high grass. And then we saw little turkeys following the bigger ones. The first turkey wanted to guide the family downhill where we were standing, but then it decided to take the route up the hill, crossing the street and trotting through the neighbor’s yard.
This morning, we saw the turkey family again. Two adults were in the yard. Another one was checking out the forest before it made some noise that everything was clear. The Jake’s and Jenny’s (young male and female turkeys) flew down from our Norway Maple into the yard. Sara pointed out the lookout turkey high in another tree. This means every turkey has a job in raising the young. One is on watch duty, while the other adults are babysitting the little ones.
This evening, Kevin and I worked on the other two raised beds in the greenhouse. After I positioned the cinder blocks in place, we filled in the beds with wood branches and dirt. Now, we let the soil set for a couple of days, before I begin to plant and sow more vegetables and some flowers in these raised beds. There is still so much Summer left in Connecticut. Time to make use of it.
World Snake Day aims to increase awareness regarding the over 3,500 snake species that exist across the world. Not all of them are as scary or venomous as we believe them to be. The fascinating reptiles are often not given the recognition they deserve just because of the bad reputation they have earned over the years. The day aims to change the negative perception surrounding snakes and promote the love for all living beings — even the ones we fear.
Happy World Snake Day!
Ozzy watched a bird for a while this afternoon. The bird must have been resting in our McIntosh apple tree. Since Ozzy climbs only smaller trees, this was the perfect opportunity to jump in the apple tree. First Ozzy tried to chat with the bird, but couldn’t see it. And eventually, it flew away.
Last week, I ordered more seeds from Botanical Interests for my greenhouse garden. And today, the package has arrived. The company always puts so much L.O.V.E. in its packages. Since it is only mid-July, there can still be so much done in a New England garden. Some of these plants can handle low temperatures, once they have established their roots in the ground. In the meantime, I want to enjoy some yellow, orange, and red colors inside the greenhouse in Autumn.
Woolly Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja foliolosa)
A hike along the creek in The Colony, Texas
Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Hay Moon, Blessing Moon, Meadow Moon
The herbs grow tall in the forests and along the river beds. The male deer regrow their antlers as Summer peeks and matures. The Summer weather rolls across the landscape as it encourages nature to grow and produce. As the Moon waxes, we draw in the expensive energy of adventure and exploration. We spend time in the woods and at the beach. We hike and work in our gardens. As the Moon wanes, we release any judgment we may have about enjoying the playful spirit of Summer. But we also balance that with dream work, meditation, and slow gentle walks.
This evening, before the sunset we had some clouds moving in. By the time it was dark, the clouds were gone and didn’t obscure the view of the Full Buck Supermoon.
In Summer 2017 coming from Philadelphia, we reached Delaware (State #33). Being on I-95 it is not a wise idea to blink, or you’ll miss the State of Delaware … LOL. We stopped at a rest area to get a bite to eat. I loved, that they served a mix of European/American-style sandwiches. The Turkey-Brie-Apple Ciabatta-Sandwich I had for lunch was very delicious. The lady at the counter warmed it for a minute, which made the cheese melt a little bit. I also had a Danish as a dessert. It was good, very good! Half of the sandwich, I kept for later on the road. Because it was very filling. And that was our time traveling through Delaware.
Happy National Delaware Day!
The Pickerel Frog is common in Connecticut. Its skin is light brown with distinct, blocky, darker brown spots. Pickerel frogs are never green. Their bellies are white and the skin under their legs is orangey-yellow. This is believed to be a warning of their unpalatability. Pickerel frogs can be 2 to 3 1/2 inches long. Northern Leopard Frogs and Pickerel Frogs are sometimes confused. A pickerel frog is never green. It has orange-yellow skin under its legs. Its spots are squarish. A leopard frog can be green or brown. The skin under its legs is white. Its spots are rounded.
When we came back to the campground, Kevin and I were discussing the situation about the cooler nights in the Rockies. He didn’t want to spend another night with Sara in the car because it goes below freezing. For a 9-month-old, this is just too cold. And she always keeps pushing herself out of the warm sleeping back. So, we decided, we call this trip in Yellowstone done and move on to the Mount Rushmore Memorial in South Dakota. But until late afternoon, we can spend still some time in the National Park. Said, done! We packed our belongings, while Sara took a nap in her play bin. Katelynn helped get the pillows and the blankets in the Grand Cherokee. And once Sara was awake, fed, and had a diaper change, we moved on to see more sights.
Two days prior, Kevin and I had no idea that there was a geyser basin within walking distance from the Grant Village Campground. And we almost skipped it, but then decided to visit it anyway. And it turned out to be my favorite place in the whole park: The West Thumb Geyser Basin.
West Thumb Geyser Basin is one of the smallest, yet most concentrated, geyser basins in Yellowstone, but its location along the shore of Yellowstone Lake ranks it as the most scenic. The 1870 Washburn Expedition gave West Thumb its name because of the thumb-like projection of Yellowstone Lake. The trail begins from the parking area and is a short figure-eight-shaped boardwalk looping through the basin and along the shore of the lake. Fishing Cone is one of the basin’s most popular features; its location on the shoreline and its symmetrical cone was popularized by early stories of “boiled trout.” Abyss Pool-the deepest in Yellowstone- is noted for its color and depth. https://www.yellowstonenationalpark.com/hikingwestthumb.htm
… to be continued …
We have some growth in the greenhouse. The sun-gold tomatoes begin to ripen, the celery has recovered from the Black Swallowtail caterpillars, there are more bell peppers, and the bush beans sprouted in the raised bed soil. My Buddha statue was weathered and cracked. The top piece fractured just the right way so that I could place the face and portion of the upper body in the soil.
1) Pokeweed; 2) Wild Blackberries; 3) Bittersweet Nightshade; 4) Hosta
Finley was an extraordinary cat. He listened to his name and followed us like a dog. Even, when we said to him to walk into a particular room, he just walked right into it. He was remarkable. In three days, it will be five days since he crossed the rainbow bridge.
We always wonder, where his adventures lead him now. Katelynn has a beautiful story about Finley: “Finley is traveling the Seven Seas in a small sailboat with his newspaper hat, which he uses as his Captain hat. He has so many stories to tell from his adventures in the Caribbean, sailing around South America to get to Australia. Finley loves to hang out in New Zealand in January and February, because of the beautiful Summer weather. He’s stargazing and watches the aurora australis before he gets his boat ready to sail to Japan. There he enjoys sushi and sake with his Siamese friend 道 (Tao), who was born in Taiwan. Finley and Tao always talk about their personal adventures and do some business together, before it is time for Fin to sail to the Bering Sea. By that time, it’s early Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. There, he crosses the Arctic Sea to set sail to Europe. And this is why Finley doesn’t come home. He’s too busy sailing all over the world.” This story always helped her to cope with Finley’s death. I always asked her, where Finley was at that moment. “He must be in Copenhagen in Denmark. The Scandinavians have a lot of fresh fish from the Baltic Sea. You know Finley. He loves fresh fish”, she replied.
Now, that it is Summer Lisa has a lot of work done in her garden. She has a wonderful vegetable garden, with all kinds of goodies: eggplants, banana peppers, poblano peppers, tiger-striped bush zucchinis, all sorts of tomatoes, and tons of herbs. In the back, Lisa planted a lot of flowers for a colorful Summer. Her garden looks so beautiful. And Trixie, Lisa’s cat, agrees with me.
Claret Cup Cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus)
Liberty By The Lake 2011
In these photos are some of my plants: eggplant, Golden Sun tomatoes, McIntosh apple, and Mandevilla blossom. Today I’ve also been sowing borage, Bush beans, Italian Flat parsley, marigolds, Mesclun lettuce, Purple Hull Peas, and sunflowers for companion planting; Common Buckwheat and Crimson Clover for improving the soil with nitrogen and attracting beneficial insects.
The Green Lynx Spider is a bright-green spider usually found on green plants. It is the largest North American species in the family Oxyopidae. This spider is common in the southern U.S., Mexico, Central America, and many West Indie islands, especially Jamaica. The species name, viridans, is Latin for “becoming green”. It should not be confused with either Peucetia viridana, a species that occurs only in India and Myanmar, or Peucetia viridis from Spain and Africa.
1) Oriental Beetle (Anomala orientalis); 2) Forage Looper (Caenurgina erechtea); 3) Eastern Carpenter Bee; 4) Northern Paper Wasp;
5) Common Green Bottle Fly; 6) Oriental Beetle (Anomala orientalis);
7) Eastern Carpenter Bee
Old Faithful Geyser at the Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone National Park has approximately half of the world’s geysers—and most of them are located in the Upper Geyser Basin. One square mile contains at least 150 of these hydrothermal wonders, making this area the most densely concentrated geyser region in the world. Five major geysers—Old Faithful, Grand, Castle, Daisy, and Riverside are located here.
At the time, when we visited the Upper Geyser Basin. The National Park was building the new Old Faithful Visitor and Education Center. It is a museum with a store where educational exhibits such as volcanic geology are on display. There is also a big glass window, where visitors can see the eruption of Old Faithful and look over the Upper Geyser Basin on a rainy day. I just wouldn’t recommend visiting this area from 12 – 6 pm, due to tour buses being full of tourists. It reminds me of the very first episode of Spongebob Squarepants, where the tourist anchovies run into the Krusty Krab, making a lot of ruckuses until Spongebob has every single anchovy served with a Krabby Patty. We went to the Upper Geyser Basin in the morning. So, it was comfortable to walk with a stroller.
… to be continued …
Happy 4th of July!
We are all set and ready to celebrate the world of imagination and madness on Alice in Wonderland Day on July 4. The amazing fictional world, created by Lewis Carroll in 1865, is the telling of a young girl who faces worldly obstacles at a tender age. More than a century later, the book continues to enjoy popularity amongst the masses not only for its original story and characters but also because of the subsequent movies that have been made of it. People also enjoy other adaptations like theater performances as well as the numerous types of Alice in Wonderland merchandise available today. Apart from all the superb details related to the story, did you know that the titular character is based on a real-life person?