Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Hitch-hiker

As I worked in the garden a while back, a gulf fritillary butterfly came and landed on my pants leg. I stood very still and took a picture or two. After a while, I decided to go on with my work.


To my surprise, it hung on…

100_2102and on!


It stayed with me (on me) for over 10 minutes while I walked around picking beans and cutting flowers. A nice encounter!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mailbox Monday: Sea Turtles AND Wild Horses


Say what??? 

(Maybe it’s a his-and-hers kinda mailbox.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hot, Hot, Hot!

These garden colors are like the summer temperatures: hot, hot, hot!





Notice the little critter legs coming around the right side of the last marigold.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Better Than a Shot in the Dark

B has been an insulin-dependent diabetic since 1982. He takes two shots a day. That is 730 shots a year.  Just this week, he was preparing an injection, when he made an interesting discovery. The syringe he had just unwrapped had no needle.


That is the first and only defect he has ever found in the thousands of needles he has used. Not a bad record for the syringe producer!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Covey of One

On a Sunday drive recently, we flushed a covey of quail.

Well, a covey of one, anyway.

We had earlier flushed some very young ones. This one was alone and walked down the road a bit before finally stepping into the weedy cover along the side. 




Thursday, August 26, 2010

The One That Got Away

Carolina wrens will nest in just about anything here, including the pocket of a raincoat left to dry. (Been there, done that.) They love to nest in wreaths on our door and hanging baskets, even the newspaper box. This sad little impatiens  used to be beautiful. You can see the empty nest in the middle. You can also see the defoliation. This was not done by the birds. Wrens, like all birds, bring  food to their babies. This defoliation is the result of one live caterpillar that did not get eaten and instead ate up the impatiens plant.


Once it had eaten most of the leaves, its cover would have been very limited. I wonder if it was finally discovered and eaten before the babies fledged.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Painful Encounter With Zorro

B had an encounter with a rosebush named Zorro.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beautiful Bee With the Aug-word Names

I was picking flowers in our garden when I noticed this stunning metallic green insect. It is on the large, white zinnia.


Shall we take a closer look?


And then I made the mistake of exhaling, and it fell off, not to bee found in the green vegetation beeneath. Apparently, it was so still beecause it was dead!

I sent the pictures to my resource at UF who referred it to a bee/wasp specialist. He/she bee-lieves it to bee a halictid bee; it could be a female Agapostemon, or either sex of Augochlora, Augochloropsis, or Augochlorella. At any rate, the more common name is sweat bee.

The family Halictidae is divided into more than 2000 species. They vary quite a bit in colors and patterns. They are pollen feeders and may play a significant role in pollination. A few species are attracted to sweat, and will sometimes sting if disturbed, though the sting is reportedly not very painful

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Grasshoppers Gorging on Zinnias

This is all that I found of the grasshopper that has been doing damage to our zinnias.




I said it had eaten so much that it popped!

(Of course, it had actually grown and shed this skin.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Go, Go Gopher Tortoise!

We were going for a Sunday drive through the woods, when B  slammed on the brakes! We had come upon this very large gopher tortoise, smack-dab in the middle of the road. We got out to take a closer look and a couple of pictures.



Tell me that’s not a sweet face!


And I love all the texture. Its legs remind me of the black beach stones in Oregon.

As we were not in the truck, but in my low-riding car, (not to be confused with a low-rider!) we needed to move the tortoise in order to continue.  There is no way my car would have cleared it. As B encouraged it off the road, it hissed and hissed but eventually went far enough so that we could drive on.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gorging on Grasshoppers

This banana spider has made a web near the crinum lilies. This week, B saw it was dining on a grasshopper. Since grasshoppers leave unsightly holes in the long crinum leaves, we were not too unhappy to see that there would be one fewer grasshoppers to do the damage.


The following day, there was no sign of the grasshopper, but I was thinking the spider looks rather well-fed in both pictures.


I might have even heard a tiny burp.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tree Frog: Stuck Inside on a Beautiful Day

Come on, buddy, you need to be outside! There isn’t enough for you to eat in the screen room.


(He’s out now.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not Likely, But Possum-able

Recently, we caught a small possum in our squirrel trap. On Friday night there was one the same size in there. This one did not have the same personality as the previous. The first was quite laid back about the experience; this one was showing its pointy teeth and claws.


Just in case it was the first one that had returned to us, we took this one a little further from our home. This road, though recently black-topped, goes practically nowhere and has lots of woods, fields and swamps on both sides so the possum should be able to find suitable habitat in there somewhere.

Here was the parting shot:


Pretty funny picture!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sharing Tree

Someone came up with the brilliant idea of creating a network for collecting discarded materials to be reused in classrooms in our school district. It is located in a building at the vo-tech center. Businesses and individuals donate books, paper, notebooks, equipment, art supplies, and many, many other items. These are displayed in three rooms and made available to teachers at specific times. Items are priced at something like garage sale prices. Each teacher is allowed to spend $20 per visit in a voucher and then is asked to pay cash for additional items.


I visited on Thursday and found it extremely popular.

TREE stands for Teachers Reusing Everything for Education.

As I said, it is a brilliant idea.


Teachers are officially back as of Monday, though many of us have been in and out of our classrooms all summer. Now it is time to hit the ground running!

And we’re off!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mailbox Monday: Hydrant For Hot Mail



Apparently, the hydrant leaks.

Either that or there was some really hot mail in the box. Doesn’t the other box look a little scorched?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pray Tell, Can I Clean Your Windshield?

This praying mantis crawled up the hood and onto the truck windshield as we drove out of our neighborhood. It just kept going onto the roof until it was out of sight. 


Listen, buddy!  Car surfing is dangerous!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gray Day, Gray Concrete, Gray Rat Snake

B opened the front door one gray evening and quickly closed it while saying, “Quick, get your camera!” While I was grabbing the camera, I said, “What am I going to see?”

Here is the answer.

A small gray rat snake with a nice “dotted line” pattern.


I got only this one shot before it was gone behind some flower pots. We decided, even with it so close to the front door, just to leave it alone. Stay alert, froggies!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Darth, In Living Color

The beautiful bug on our bean vine is a nymph of a predaceous stink bug.  According to my source at UF, it most likely is Alcaeorrhynchus grandis, the giant strong-nosed stink bug.

The good news-bad news is that it preys on other insects, especially butterfly and moth larvae. Yes, we like butterflies, but it is also cutworms and hornworms that are destroying some of our food plants.


The adult of this true bug sheds its flashy colors of youth for a plain, brown suit. The females are larger and may be up to 25 mm (or about 1 inch) in length. This is a very large stink bug, hence the name “grandis.”

Can you see the face on its back?


darth Kinda, sorta a Darth, I think.

Or maybe an alien?

Thursday, August 12, 2010


This hornworm seems to have a taste for the spicy. It had done a lot of damage to this jalapeno pepper plant before we discovered it. Perhaps you can see it actually had its head in the pepper.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What Do You Know About Millipedes?



This millipede and another were on our screen porch when I realized that I didn’t really know much about them.  So I took a couple of pictures and did a little Googling and here is what I came up with.

Millipedes (Diplopoda) are not insects but, like insects, spiders, and crustaceans are members of the arthropod phylum. They have two main body parts: a head with antennae and a body, which is segmented and has legs attached to each segment. As the millipede grows, it molts, and with each molt, a new segment with more legs is grown until it finally reaches maturity. 100_2246While millipede means “thousand legs,” the average has a mere 80 to 750 legs, varying by species ---and there are estimated to be 10,000 species. (I’d definitely be tripping over my own feet!) Millipedes live all around the world but in the southern hemisphere they may reach a length of 40 centimeters, which is about 15.7 inches! (That is downright Jurassic, don’t you think?)  Some of the bigger ones are sold as pets. (Really? Those are probably the same people that buy those giant hissing cockroaches from Madagascar.)Pill bugs, often collected by children, are a kind of millipede.


Millipedes are mostly nocturnal and feed on detritus. They are eaten by centipedes, spiders, insects, birds, small mammals and rodents. They lay eggs--- up to 1,000 at a time, but usually only 500.  (Doesn’t that make you tired to think about it!)

Millipedes do not have a poisonous bite, but may protect themselves by offensive odors produced by stink glands; some produce highly irritating compounds that can injure the skin or eyes of attackers; and some can roll up into a ball or spiral for protection.

So now you know what I know about millipedes.


The end!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

You Laugh Now, But….

This laughing gull at St. Mark’s Lighthouse appeared to be illegally parked. There was evidence that it may park here regularly.


That might change if the legal eagles in the nest down the road catch it. That would be no laughing matter.

However, it might then qualify for the permit!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mailbox Monday: Going Postal

Words fail me for this mailbox.

gun mailbox

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Windows AND My Soul

This is the cornerstone of my hometown church.


The church buildings are filled with windows.The eyes may be “the windows of your soul,” but these windows have seen the development of my soul.


These windows on the sides of the sanctuary are huge and are of stained glass with  protective windows on the outside.


100_1941 In the photos below, you can get an idea of the beauty of the these windows from the inside.



Of course with stained glass, it is all about the light and how it deepens or fades the colors.



Installed in 1925, the windows are memorials to family members by church members, .


This loved one had died in 1914.


This window is in the door in the narthex.

Through the narthex door

The rose window is over the altar.


Those last two windows were not original to the 1925 building.

These windows below are in the Sunday school rooms in the back of the church sanctuary. There is nothing special about the way they look. However, the first time I ever went in a church, I stayed as a newborn in the nursery inside one of those rooms-- more than half a century ago.


Windows have been added through the years as new additions were made to accommodate the elevator and new social hall. 100_1939


This is the place where I learned the words of my faith in the form of prayers, creeds, hymns and scripture. I learned the history of our denomination as well as some of the history of the Church, with a capital “C”. I learned the actions of faith, including praise and service. Eventually, it was where I came to know my faith as a personal commitment. I was baptized and officially joined that congregation as a teen.  My sister was married in that church. Most members of our family have sung in the choir and served on committees, including the church council and trustees and women’s organizations and youth groups. I tell this not to brag, but rather to show how much a part of our lives this church has been. This church has certainly been more than a building to us.

I grew up and moved away and attend my own church now but my parents have remained members for over 55 years. Whenever I have brought my own family “home” we have usually attended services there. This alone spans over 30 years.

In the past decade, this church has been sent a sad series of ministers that rather than uplifting the congregation, divided it in a number of ways and ran off members who were good, hard-working, active participants. Attendance declined. As with most churches in the area, the annual influx and exit of the winter residents has an impact. This is not new and churches learn to accommodate it. All that church needed to recover was a good minister who was guided by the Holy Spirit. My family refused to leave….until now.

When I took these pictures, this sign was tacked to the front door.


The District office made the decision that the church should join with the Davenport one and that both would go together to build a new church up on the busy highway. A minister was sent to lobby hard for this. Finally, it was put to a vote on a Saturday morning with no absentee ballots permitted. It passed by less than a handful of votes by each church. As of that vote, our church ceased to exist.

Our family is heartbroken.  We struggle not to be bitter.

Until my mother fell and broke her leg, she and my brother had been visiting other churches of the same denomination in the area. I went with them the first Sunday;  one of the things we all noticed about the building was the complete lack of windows. It was surprising how claustrophobic it felt.

Matthew 6:6  American King James Version says:
But you, when you pray, enter into your closet…

Maybe they took that literally there.


I am confident that our souls will be fine, thanks to God’s grace,


what will become of our beautiful windows?