Friday, July 8, 2011

Where to Start?

It's been a while since I've posted, and my thoughts are all scattered.  I'm sitting at the Toyota dealer, car getting a full checkup, and I have plenty of time to post.  I just can't decide what to do.  So, I suppose we'll just start going through photos.

Okay, here we go.  

First, I want to start with a very special thank you, going out to the wonderful ladies of Newcomb's Mountain Quilters.  I came home from work the other day to find a package on my porch.  When I opened it, it was this lovely friendship quilt made (and signed) by my quilting friends back "home." How sweet is that?!?


Some new flowers are blooming along the roads where Toby and I walk.  Here is night-flowering catchfly, a non-native plant, but one that is blooming quite profusely right now.

 There are a couple plants blooming right now that to the casual eye look a lot like bladder campion, and this catchfly is one of them.  The flowers, however are a bit smaller, and the "bladder" (the green pouch behind the petals, made from the sepals) is long and slender, whereas on bladder campion it is a bulging bladder (hence the name).

Meanwhile, back at work, the leaf-legged bug eggs hatched!  

Unfortunately, no one was there to feed, water or release them, so they perished in the jar.  Still, I was able to photograph them.  What lovely babies they are.

And this,

is a fossilized mollusk I found while putting in the veg gardens at home.  I'm not sure what species it is/was, so I am hoping some fossil enthusiast out there might have a lead for me.  This part of the country was all underwater a few thousand years ago - Lake Michigan, which preceeded the current Lake Michigan and was larger than all the Great Lakes combined.  

Yellow goatsbeard is going to seed.  These seedheads are about the size of a baseball.

And they make amazing subjects for a nature photographer!

Just down the road from me, in any direction, actually, is state land.  In this particular direction (north), we have some great habitat.  Indigo buntings nest here, and at night the air is filled with the calls of whip-poor-wills.  This particular evening, though, the light hitting this tree caught my eye.  The golden glowing is the sun lighting up the flowers.

And what is it?  Basswood!  I've seen the tree plenty of times before, but I've never seen it in bloom, so this was a pleasant surprise.  I've heard stories of how the bees love it, how it fills the air with its sweet scent, and that it makes great honey.  I'm not a connoisseur of honey, and only use it for baking, so I'm the wrong one to make declarations on the virtues of basswood honey.

Here's another bladder campion look-alike for those not in the know:  bouncing bet.  This is a fun plant , even though not a native one.  Bouncing bet is also called soapwort, and the name is well-earned, for this plant, when its leaves are crushed and mixed with water, forms a very gentle soap, which was terrifically valued in the middle ages by those in the fabric business.

And "bouncing bet" as a name?  Well, Bet was a popular nickname for Beth, Betsy, Elizabeth, and one that might've been common.  Picture a washing woman  named Bet, bending over the wash tub, scrubbing away at a load of laundry, and her skirts and underskirts bouncing away as she scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed.  It's said that this flower looks like her bouncing skirts.


  1. Love basswood honey! Lovely photos!

  2. You must be a good friend yourself to have such thoughtful friends to send you that quilt.

    Too bad about the insect eggs, I've had that problem before and know how disspointing it can be but I see that you have made the most of the sad situation by showing us.

    I'm sure you are going to find many more fossils and am looking forward to learning them along with you.

  3. Love that your friends sent you a wonderful quilt that they made special for you. I got one like that about 7 years ago and really treasure it. So, does that mean that you are a quilter too or is it just that those friends are quilters? Don't think I have ever seen you mention quilting in your blog.

  4. Hello Ellen:

    I am a bio prof at SUNY Potsdam looking for local hops (I home brew and want to grow everything myself). Your website came up in a Google search for Adirondack hops. Would you please tell me where you get your native hops?

    The "mollusc" BTW is a brachiopod - way cooler. Not so common now, they were in the Paleozoic and are often found with trilobites, esp in the Black River deposits near Watertown. They have a dorsal-ventral shell. Bivalve molluscs have lateral shells with the hinge on their dorsal surface.

  5. The fossil is a brachiopod of the spirifer(id) persuasion, but that's as close as I can get you, I'm afraid! They're "sorta" like clams, but actually very different, and have their own phylum, largely extinct.

    I like this "pieces" post, like a quilt!

  6. That quilt is gorgeous! What a wonderful surprise to have waiting for you!

  7. The fossilized mollusk is beyond cool. What a great find! And I love the closeup shot of the goatsbeard.

    Hope the car checkup went okay.

  8. That quilt is amazing and how touching a gift! They sure are remarkable friends! Love the closeup photo of the goatsbeard seed ball.

  9. Thanks, Sally and "Conleywj" for the info on my fossil! I will now go look it up on-line and see what info I can discover.

  10. Thanks for showing me around my old home state, Ellen. I wait for your posts to see what new things you have found. What beautiful little bugs! Sorry for your loss.

    That quilt is certainly a treasure. Why don't you do a post showing us some of the masterworks you have created? You showed me photos once, and I was astounded by their beauty and craftsmanship.