Monday, July 19, 2010

Butterfly Bonanza!

Between getting my wisdom teeth removed, having the huge tree taken down, and our 2nd housewarming; this past week has been crazy!  I still need to sort through all the photos of the tree removal, so I'm not ready to post about that quite yet.  So instead, I'll post a bunch of pretty pictures of the butterflies.  I've managed to research their names too for you.  I also have some new flowers blooming.

Trumpet Lilies

Rose of Sharon and Easter Lilies

Lilies and Gladiolus

Some type of weed berry and my raspberries are actually blackberries!

At first I thought this little fellow was a very strange baby hummingbird, but it turns out that he is a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth.  He is about the size of a large bumblebee, but is as fast as a hummingbird.  You'll see him better if you click on the pictures.

Can you see his curly tongue, antennae, and his almost transparent wings?

I think he looks like some type of flying shrimp in the middle picture.
It was difficult to take pictures of him.  He wouldn't stay still, and my camera is blah.  I need to get a better digital camera.

Here are pictures of an actual hummingbird.  He was super zippy as well.
He was too fast, and my camera was too slow.

Now for the Butterfly Bonanza that was promised! :)

Common Wood Nymph
He was too shy to open his wings for you.

The Great Spangled Fritillary

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

Female Tiger Swallowtail

Spicebush Swallowtail?

I photo-shopped this last pic to use as my desktop background.
I just now noticed there is a bee on the same flower as my butterfly.  ^_^

Monarch Butterfly
I discovered the difference between the Monarch and Viceroy, so now I can say with certainty that these are indeed Monarchs.

I was also lucky to get some shots with multiple butterflies in them.

These 2 Tiger Swallowtails look like they are synchronized fluttering.

Tiger Swallowtails and a Common Wood Nymph

A Monarch Butterfly with 2 Tiger Swallowtails

Well, I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I do.  I'll keep working through the tree take-down pics.  My mother-in-law has some pics on her camera that I need to get from her, so it still might be a little while.
I hope everyone is staying cool in this heat!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Lightning Round

Amanda and I were sitting around the fire pit chatting last weekend. It was a pleasant evening, and we were enjoying the elaborate colors of dusk over smores. It is easy to admire the glow and twinkle of the fireflies during twilight, especially when they illuminate the fields like some sort of pixelated star chart.

I tend to see green when lightning bugs get energized, but Amanda assures me that they are in fact yellow not green. Amanda is almost always right; although, we thought perhaps the blog community could clear up the matter for us. Take a moment to vote below, and let us know.

What color is a lightning bug?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Poem

I wrote this poem for an assignment during my Creative Writing class and thought it seemed appropriate for this blog.  We were still house hunting at the time I wrote this. Yes, I know "ain't" is not a real word; I used it for effect.  Enjoy!
"Grocery List"
New shingles for the roof that needs repair,
Nails to nail down that squeak in the stair,
New paint to put up on the walls
To replace that vile wallpaper down the hall,
New hardwood floors in the house throughout;
This carpeting is atrocious--there ain't no doubt.
New windows, new doors with the energy efficient label,
And while I'm out, might as well get a new kitchen table,
New gutters, new appliances, new lighting, new walkway--
And don't forget the basement filled with mold and decay,
New vinyl, new fencing--Hurry!  Hurry! Don't dawdle!
The kitchen and both bathrooms could use a remodel.
That is all the groceries my house asks for, I think
It wants everything but a new kitchen sink.
The sink is perfect.

lol.  I hope you didn't laugh at it too hard.  ^_^*
Kind of funny that it turned out to be vase shaped.  That was totally unintentional. 

Trouble with Trees

As I have previously posted, Jim and I have been looking into having some of our trees removed.  I never did receive the email estimate from the 2nd arborist, and the 3rd one was a no-show.  We got a tip to look into a 4th tree service guy.  He did come out and gave us a great estimate ($1,600), but he wasn't going to use a crane to remove the huge silver maple.  This didn't sit well with us, so we ended up chosing the first guy that had come out.  We called him to set up an appt time to meet to go over details and sign a contract.  We got a call a few days later saying that he had to cancel because his crane just broke and he wasn't sure when or even if it could be fixed.  He sounded so dejected on the phone.  Well, that put us back to square one.  We have since looked into other arborists, and have decided to go with Davey Tree Service.  
He came out last Friday for a free estimate.  We told him what we wanted, and he gave us some good info about some of the other trees on our property.  It turns out that we have quite a variety of trees.  We have silver maples, red maples, red oak, white oak, green ash, and black walnut.  We also have various pines, but we didn't ask him about those.  He gave us an estimate that turned out to be less than the guy we were originally going to use, plus he is going to do a little extra stuff.  So, in the end, it works out for us that we had to look elsewhere.  He told us that he'd have a huge crew of workers come in, and  that they can remove the huge silver maple in one day!  I think we'll have to see that to believe it.  We were standing in the drive just chatting with him when we found out that he was recently the consulting arborist for the White House.  He told us stories of  the secret service shooing the arborists out of the trees whenever Obama was returning to the White House from a trip and  also of playing with Obama's dog.  That is kinda cool.  We're glad he waited to tell us this until after he gave us an estimate or we would have been worrying about just how expensive he was going to be.  lol.  I mean, if he was good enough for the White House...

In other news, Jim and I have finally gotten around to chopping down the 2 trees that were small enough for us to handle on our own.  My dad loaned us his pole saw, and Jim practiced using it on my dead stick bush.
  Good thing he practiced.  lol.
After gaining experience points, Jim moved on to the first tree...the mulberry tree in our backyard.  This tree was too close to our foundation as well as our well.  Why the previous owners planted it there, I have no idea.  If they didn't plant it there, why the heck did they let it continue to grow?!
Anyhoo, here are some pictures of the process.

This is during...
I think Jim had fun.

And to give you faithful readers a good idea of what we did, here are the before and after pics.


I think it looks a lot better without the tree.  I wish the tree had been somewhere else on the property because it was a cool looking tree.  The leaves were quite interesting.

After the mulberry tree was taken care of, we moved onto the dogwood in the front yard.  This was a beautiful tree as well, but it was unfortunately too close to the foundation.

Here are some pics during the unfortunate murder.
Blame the previous owners, poor tree, for planting you too close to the house.

Here are the before and after pics.


We were laughing at the poor confused squirrels the next day because they used both the mulberry tree and the dogwood to go back and forth.  We had just essentially destroyed their main highway between the front and back yards.  Whoopsie!

However, I did feel a smidge sorry for this little guy.  He sat on our front stoop this morning and mournfully squeaked at the dogwood stump.  He sat there for at least 5 minutes squeaking.  It was as if he was giving the dogwood's eulogy or something.  He didn't stop until Jim opened the window to try to get a better picture.
 I call the first pic, "The Chipmunk's Lament".  :p

That's about it for now.

A Bushel of Bushes

Woo!  Cutting down bushes is hard work, and I haven't even tried pulling out the stumps yet!
I have decided that I don't like how my backyard is divided in 2 by a line of bushes and flowerbeds.  It is quite deceiving because my yard looks smaller than it actually is. (Yes, bad grammar.) Some people didn't even realize that our yard extends beyond the flowerbeds!  I want to change this by getting rid of the bushes and some of the flowers.  Over the holiday weekend, I was able to finish cutting down the forsythia bush and another bush I call the burning bush because it bloomed red in the spring.  Both of these bushes were extremely overgrown.

Here is a picture what is left of the forsythia bush.
It put up quite a fight, and I have a lot of scratches on my arms to prove it.  It makes me look like I own a cat that needs declawed.  : p   Now that the forsythia bush is gone, we can actually see the white oak that was hidden behind it.
I was so pumped after cutting down the forsythia bush, that I started on the burning bush that same day.  If I had known just how tedious and frustrating the burning bush was going to be, I might have procrastinated.  I had thought that the forsythia bush was a pain, but this other bush was worse.  It had no main trunk, but was made up of individual smaller trunks that were all interwined.  It took me a good 2 days to get it cut down.

Here is a pic after Day 1's efforts.
Believe it or not, this bush was twice as big before I started.

Here is what it looks like now.
We didn't even know that tree was there until after I started cutting down the bush!

About a week or two ago, I was working on the forsythia bush when Jim came up to me and told me he was going to look around the house to formulate a plan for cleaning the 2nd story gutters.  I didn't think much of it and continued my trimming.  Next thing I know, I look up to see this!
Jim with a ladder precariously perched on my craft room roof!
I of course scolded him and told him to wait for me to help him.  We spent the rest of that afternoon cleaning gutters.  They were pretty stuffed with maple seeds, so it was good that we cleaned them before the recent storms came through.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Flora & Fauna of Our Backyard

My yard is teeming with butterflies!  I have never seen so many different species of butterflies out in the wild before.  I even saw a bright yellow and black one that was the size of my palm (no joking).  Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me and it fluttered away before I could get it.  I have managed though to take pictures of 3 of the butterflies.

The Regal Monarch Butterfly
or maybe he is the Viceroy...not sure which.

A pale yellow and black butterfly
(*Edit* These are Great Spangled Fritillary)

Black and Orange Butterflies
(*Edit* These are Red Admirals.)
They seemed to pose for the camera, unlike the camera-shy Monarch.

While I was taking pictures of the butterflies, this fellow came zooming in.
I've seen him taking a drink at my bee balm flowers.

We now also have a baby bunny that lives somewhere in the front yard.
He is a little tricky to see in the first picture.

More flowers have also bloomed.
First up is a mystery flower and my red bee balm.
(*Edit*  The mystery flowers are phlox.)

Next are my black eyed susans and daisies.

My grapes seem to be coming along, and the butterflies love these white flowers.
(*Edit* The white flowers are goosenecks.)

I keep forgetting what these dark purple/black flowers are called.  I also have some of these reddish-orange lilies. (*Edit* The flowers on the left are hollyhocks.)

The fireflies are also numerous out here.  I love watching the butterflies during the day and the fireflies at night.