Twofer Tuesday: Ladybug edition

I had mixed feelings posting this image because I wouldn’t want my most intimate actions put on display. That said, I was fascinated by these two as they trundled up and down the mulch and twigs, staying joined the entire time.

How many of us would procreate if it required hill climbing while carrying partners on our backs?

Today’s special guest

Our guest next to Zippy’s hand for scale.

I spent the afternoon working in the yard in preparation for the winter storm and below-freezing temperatures on the way. I cut back perennials and chopped up greens to add to our two compost tumblers and standing bin. Zippy joined me after his bike ride and made the plants from his vegetable garden compost-ready. As he stood over the bin and chopped up tomato plants, he discovered a guest he’d been dreading all summer: a tomato hornworm.

He showed me and said his friend had told him that hornworms turned into swallowtail butterflies. That didn’t sound right so I checked. In fact, tomato hornworms turn into the five-spotted hawkmoth. Either way, that’s quite the transformation. (I do think it’s kinda too bad the horn gets lost along the way.)

Visiting Denver Botanic Gardens

Today I met a friend at the Denver Botanic Gardens. She has a membership and treated me (for the umpteenth time) to a guest pass. Here’s one of the dazzling flower and plant displays at the entrance:

There were many plants I recognized and many more I did not. For instance, what is this?

In my photo file I labeled it “Poky Plant,” but I’m nearly 100% sure that’s not the right name.

Then there’s the Dragon Arum otherwise known as Dracunculus vulgaris. When I showed this photo to Zebu he said the exact same thing my friend had remarked: “Dracunculus vulgaris is a Harry Potter spell.”

It was a lovely couple hours at the gardens and now I’m back home in front of my computer, getting psyched up to tackle my revisions. 

May my thoughts stay still longer than the water spiders in that last photo.

When stuff works as intended

Soon after starting my vermicomposting bins, I also began using fly catchers. Bell jars with a couple inches of red wine and a funnel duct-taped in the opening. One downstairs next to the worms and one upstairs on the kitchen counter. Fly activity has been low and the wine developed a layer of mold that I thought would make for a trippy photo. I took it outside to photograph it and as I aimed the camera at the jar, sudden movement caught my eye.

A fly was running across the mold. It got up next to the glass and pawed at it as if trying to find a way out. I felt really, really bad. As soon as I’d finished taking the pictures, I released the fly from the trap.

Outside, of course.

What do you see?

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Today I choose to see an insect that inspires awe and a little bit of fear every time I look into its bulgy eyes as it slowly and hypnotically waves its front legs.

Is there anything trippier than a praying mantis?

Thankful Thursday: trail run edition

Today I’m thankful for these awesome shoes that carried me over the rocky and uneven trails this afternoon:

I’m also thankful I had the trails 100% to myself as I ran, never seeing another human during those 35 minutes, not once, not even off in the distance.

I am thankful for the company of the 80 million grasshoppers, the occasional butterfly, the what-I-hope-was-a-hummingbird-and-not-an-enormous-insect buzzing in my ear, the one bunny that allowed me a glimpse before disappearing into the rabbit brush, the sunshine, and the unidentified bird with the black tail.

I’m thankful for the strength in my legs, the power in my lungs, and the lack of ego that allowed me to walk when I felt like it.

Finally, I’m thankful that the rain didn’t fall until I was already home.

Twofer Tuesday: Monarch Butterfly edition

When I was in Florida visiting my mother last October, we took many walks around her community. On one of those walks, I spotted the familiar orange-and-black-and-white markings of a Monarch Butterfly. It was completely intact but no longer of this world. I gently cupped it in one hand for the rest of the walk and, when back at my mom’s, carefully wrapped the body in a tissue and tucked it inside an empty medication bottle.

I forgot about my little treasure until today.

monarch-at-rest

While we have lovely butterflies in Colorado (lots and lots of Swallowtails), I have never seen a Monarch here. I know they’re struggling as a species, and that hurts my heart. It’s strange to have lived a childhood filled with these beauties feeding on milkweed plants, and then exist without them.

I was very happy to find this one on our walk, even if was no longer in flight. Nothing else looks like a Monarch.

extreme-closeup

 

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Stand tall, y’all

When I searched my photos to see what image spoke to me today, I decided to use this picture from two months ago:
praying-mantis-on-screen

And as I looked at that slightly freaky, somewhat off-putting creature, I pondered the connection for today. Clinging? Holding on for dear life? Prayer? None of those resonated with me so I did an online search for “praying mantis facts,” and found my answer:

Instead of running away from a threat it will stay put and try to look bigger. It will raise its wings and raptory arms and try to stand as tall as possible. Maybe even rocking from left to right to seem more intimidating. Does it work? Actually, it does! Animals that are not particularly interested in eating the mantis or have not yet experienced this are a bit suspicious of a prey that does not run away.

In light of the current political freak show and our soon-to-be bully-in-chief, aka the Circus Peanut, I think we should all take a page from the praying mantis.

No running away!
Stand as tall as possible!
No running away!

And, if necessary, rip the bastards’ heads off and devour them.

 

 

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Seeing Things and Doing Things

Saw this beauty sunning itself on deck rail and captured with telephoto lens:
Doves + Maple leaves + Christmas cactus 002

The maple leaves are turning and I leaned over deck rail for a close-up look:
Doves + Maple leaves + Christmas cactus 009

The Christmas cactus sits next to the window so I zoomed in on its delicate beauty:
Doves + Maple leaves + Christmas cactus 015

Haven’t only been looking at lovely stuff, but am keeping my oath and making great progress on the final scenes of my YA. The End is in sight!

Backyard Photographic Safari

We just had a gentle rainfall and then the sun came out
so I ventured into the backyard with my camera,
searching for some images.

Here’s the untouched documentation (you may click photos to enlarge):

Bumblebee and Lamb's Ear

Bumblebee and Lamb’s Ear

Valerian and Moonshine Yarrow

Valerian and Moonshine Yarrow

Wild Rose

Wild Rose

Apache Plume

Apache Plume

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything
else in the universe.  ~  John Muir