Waving Hello to Summer

Yesterday was the first day of summer here, and Squiddy and The Elf stopped by to show us one of the local inhabitants that had chosen to help us to greet its arrival. It’s a walking stick, belonging to the order Phasmatodea, and it seemed to be waving an eager hello. I can heartily second the motion!

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Frequent Flier

I’ve been in our New Zealand home for a little over a month now, and I’m (once again) long overdue for a report, however brief. We’re still unpacking boxes and trying to find the room to stow the t00-much stuff we’ve brought with us. Meanwhile, we are settling in a bit more each day and enjoying the good weather that has blessed us. We have a few abutilon trees outside our kitchen window, and we are delighted to see the birds that visit it for the nectar in their flowers. Among them are the Silvereyes, which are very fast, about the size of small wrens, and very hard to catch with the camera. But the most frequent are the Tui, which are just slightly larger than American robins, and they take more time with their foraging. I managed to catch this one through the window a few days ago.

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Serenity Sunday: Fall Fading

The autumn is fading rapidly. I have had several days of gorgeous weather, but there have been two freezing nights and blustery winds, and today it’s very cold and rainy. All of these have contributed to steady loss of the glorious foliage, and the general feeling is one of combined serenity and melancholy. Leo and I are keeping each other company and waiting out the next two weeks, after which I will join the rest of my wonderful family in the New Zealand springtime. Meanwhile, here’s an image that I made a few days ago, while the weather was still ideal. I’ve always loved milkweed pods…

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Serenity Sunday: Back again

Hello again! I see that it’s been more than a quarter of a year since my last post, and this is surely my longest hiatus. I’m tempted to apologize, but I’ve really been that busy. We have sold our house in Omaha and divided our stuff between a 40-foot container that we shipped to our new house in New Zealand and several truck- and cargo-van trips to our cabin in northern Minnesota. We will now be in NZ for around seven months of each year and in Minnesota for the other five.

One of the things that has been occupying my “free” time is trying to comply with the (truly) incredible list of hoops that I have to jump through to bring our cat, Leo, with us to NZ. I have been working on it for the better part of a year, and have forked out something in the range of US $5,000 so far. Needless to say, he is worth it.

I intended to do a post for the eclipse, but clouds thwarted my photo attempts. I also intended to do a post for the transition from summer to autumn, and yet another for my birthday the day before yesterday, but cat-import requirements got in the way yet again. Yesterday I completed the next-to-last step in Leo’s import, and I’m happier for that than I can begin to describe.

Finally, it’s been an absolutely gorgeous day and I took advantage of it to take a hike on the trail that I’ve forged here. Here’s an image from today—at long last, and there are more to come. It’s good to be back with you!

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Menagerie Monday (8): Leggy Lurker

Just a little over a week ago I found this harvestman (order Opilones) resting on one of our white cone flowers (Echinacea sp.) and the breeze was kind enough to pause a few times while I focused in. I am always tempted to present new images of these little folk in a Webnesday post but, of course, they are not spiders, nor do they construct webs. Yes, they do have eight legs, but only one body segment (spiders have two) and only two eyes (most spiders have eight but some have six). Further, whereas the chelicerae of spiders support the fangs, those of harvestmen end in pincers. The eyes are those two tiny dots mounted up high, like a small saddle on an elephant. I find it really amazing that their vision is acute enough to permit them to walk around with confidence, among flowers and grasses and the like, with those extremely long and spindly legs. Much study has been devoted to the amazing eyes of jumping spiders but a quick internet search turned up no similar ones for those of the harvestmen. I did, however, find a Scientific American article that reported fossilized prehistoric intermediate versions that had four eyes (https://www.livescience.com/44740-daddy-longlegs-fossil-images.html).

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About Face (5a)

A couple of my blogging friends commented that the faces that I was seeing in our milkweed flowers and that I brought you in my last post were not that easy to pick out, so I went back out this morning with my newly-calibrated camera so I could try to make them more apparent. I made it there just before the wind picked up and hope these are clearer!

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About Face (5)

It’s been the better part of a year since I did an About Face post, and I’m happy to be able to present another. This afternoon CD asked me to make some photos of her hollyhocks and, when I was through, I kept looking around our garden and I wound up having a really close look at the milkweed, which is just coming into full flower. Has anyone else out there ever noticed that there are faces in the flowers if you look at them from the side rather than from above? I remember having noted this in the past, but only in passing, and having made a mental note to pursue the resemblance further, but seem not to have acted on it–until now. My workhorse camera is in the shop for calibration, so I took my new(ish) little Olympus out to see what we could do together. May this bring you a smile today!

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