Friday, May 26, 2023

 Time to revive the blog, and I've found just the guy to get me back to it.  I've been, attracting moths last summer and again this spring.  A UV light at the window to the balcony and a white sheet over a shelf outside, and voila!  here they come.  Dozens of them, hundreds even.  I haven't finished processing all the photos from last year so don't know the count of species, but this year I process and upload to iNaturalist as soon as I get them downloaded.  This started in April and as of today I have 130 species, give or take a few due to errors or omissions in my recording

Last year I was lamenting that I didn't see a single Luna Moth, I usually see at least 2 or 3 per summer.  On May 22, 2023, at around 2:00 a.m., there he was, in all his splendid lime green with purple shoulder highlights, sitting ever so quietly on the windowsill.  I was nearly dancing across the balcony for joy.

The caterpillars have the same beautiful green colour with spots of red/magenta, and are as large as my thumb.  A number of years ago I was transplanting some trilliums and dug up a large cocoon.  I put the cocoon in a plant pot, covered it loosely with soil and leaves, put in a stick for "whatever it was" to crawl up on, kept it moist, had it on my desk,  and waited.  A couple of weeks later I was working at the computer when I heard a rustling sound, and was started when "this thing" ran around on the leaves and up the stick.  A luna!  I was going to see a luna emerge!  I took a series of photos (somewhere in my archives) as the wings enlarged and hardened.  It was a lovely female.  I build a cage out of a big cardboard box with some screens taped to it, and set that out on the balcony the next night.  Sure enough it attracted a male, and I was able to coax them out onto a log for photos (also buried in the archives).  After they warmed up they flew off into the trees.  One of my most memorable encounters with these beautiful insects.

Most people don't pay attention to moths, first thing that comes to mind are the annoying caterpillars that get into one's closet or pantry, or explode in population like the tent caterpillars and spongy moth caterpillars.  Being nocturnal also prevents most people from noticing them.  But if you're lucky enough to live like me in an area with lots of woods, away from neighbouring houses, there are plenty to see if you know how to draw them out.  There is an incredible variety of shapes, sizes, and colours, once you get interested in finding them it becomes an addiction.

A Variable Carpet Moth.  One of the moths with plain colours but a very interesting pattern.  I would love to knit a shawl or sweater with some of these patterns.  The caterpillar feeds on raspberry and prairie rose, both of which I have on my property.

A Night Wandering Dagger.  Another wonderful pattern that would be nice for a sweater.  Food plants include poplar, I have those around.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

 Now that the summer is over, I have the notion to start the RASC's Explore the Universe  project.  I had started a couple of times before but through circumstances and responsibilities and various interruptions was unable to follow through with it.  And now I am motivated to try again.

The initial step is to print off the 10 pages listing the required observations, planets, constellations, moon phases, etc. , as well as the sheets for the recording of those observations.  This I have done and placed them in one of these plastic notebooks with the clear plastic sleeves.  Thursday night was clear but a happy camper had come in for the weekend and came to visit for the evening, and seeing as how my social opportunities will soon be greatly lessened I decided to put off the initializing of observing.  Friday night was too cloudy for the targets I had planned on the southern horizon, and I was tired from running the chainsaw cutting firewood.  Last night we had a bit of a celebration for my nephew, steak dinner for 5 of us, a certain ordeal that has been ongoing for the past 5 years is finally over, and he and his girlfriend can finally make plans to begin their lives anew on a positive note.  Today it is raining and tonight will be cloudy, so now I have to wait until Monday evening when conditions are predicted for clear skies.  The moon is also at waning crescent, so hopefully I will have a couple of clear nights to get started.

We had a miserable hot summer.  MISERABLE.  Lost a family member, middle of June it got brutally hot and stayed miserably hot until the week before Labour Day, so damned hot that I simply couldn't work outdoors and get many of the little jobs done that badly needed doing.  There were also a number of things going wrong.  The lake pump died, I got stung in the face due to a yellow jacket's nest at the far cottage, my brakes failed when some nitwit in a huge pickup truck pulled into my lane and we missed having a head-on collision by mere seconds, and inches, the small lawn mower won't start, there were leaks that had to be fixed, the list goes on.  All of this during the covid pandemic, that alone causing enough stress for everyone.  First big issue to deal with was when half the big pine tree beside the garage came down in early spring and ripped the power lines right off the pole.  The first 3 weeks of May were as cold as the summer was hot, while cutting firewood one afternoon heavy snow came falling down and I had to yank a tarp over the wood and head indoors to the stove.  Delays, delays, delays, then with the heat and the grief it was impossible to work on most things.  I have learned over the years that when you get a run of difficulties, just hunker down and deal with things.  It was not merely day to day, it was hour to hour.  Problems were solved, and things seem to be lightening up lately.  I keep telling myself not to focus on the growing list of problems, but be happy that most of them have been resolved, I have prevailed, be proud of being able to overcome.  I don't know who came up with the saying of "that which does not kill you makes you stronger".  True to some degree perhaps, but dammittohell it wears on you and you get tired of having to put forth effort to overcome unnecessary obstacles.  There are things I would rather be doing, like enjoying astronomy.  Going fishing.  Taking photos.  Today is raining, an opportunity to spend time in the basement cleaning out crap that has accumulated.  In the meantime a nice little lunch should perk me up.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Where does the time get to.......

Been over a year since I last put a post on this blog, gotta get back into it.  The older ya get, the faster time flies.  Need to get back into my photography.  Too many hafta-dos interferin' wid the wanna-dos.  At least I got out to see the Perseids, not the best show I've seen but there were a few good meteors.  Lasted until 2:30 a.m.  Frustration sets in when the camera is pointed in one direction and the meteors fly *just* out of field of view, still haven't downloaded so don't know how many I actually caught.  It seems that time is flying by almost as quickly as these meteors, and time for fun is just as fleeting.  At least we've had good weather this summer, at times a bit too hot, but come mid January I'll be wishing I were back in the warm lake.  I'm making sure I'm in swimming at least once every day, good exercise.  Lost a few pounds and want to keep up the momentum with the diet/exercise routine, get a good start before firewood gathering season which is always guaranteed to trim a bit off the ol' bod.

Looks like I'll get a bit of exercise chasing this rotton little mosquito.  I was just telling people that the mosquitoes haven't been too bad this year while we were sitting out on the deck, then a swarm came along as if to dispute my claims.  Bad enough that the little pestilences torment you with their bites, now they've joined in a conspiracy to ruin your credibility as well.  But try as they might they  were unable to spoil the enjoyment of good company.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Redwing blackbird with 4 bands

Yesterday was a nice sunny day, so decided to take a paddle down the lake and back.  On the way back saw some grackles on the shore, drifted over and took some pictures of them.  A redwing blackbird flew in, I  took a couple shots of it, and noticed something shiny.  Looking closer I could see that it had 4 leg bands.  So I tried to get as close to possible to it.  Moving canoe, moving bird, good luck with that.  I managed to get a few shots.  Having shot raw files I was able to enlarge quite a bit, converting to 1000 dpi I even managed to get some of the markings on the numbered band.  Now, not the clearest shots, but I'm hoping that if I find out who's doing the banding on the birds maybe they'll at least be interested in where one of them is currently located.  Seems unusual to have 4 bands on a redwing.  Can't quite make out the markings on the band but hey, as small as it is from about 20 feet away, at least it's something.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I had been happily painting away, enjoying my art class, then got interrupted by a miserable head cold and a few other little "emergencies".  One of the things I did find time to work on was our present subject, leaves, and started this exercise from a photo I had taken a few years ago of autumn leaves on lichen-covered rocks.  I drew the leaves, transferred to watercolour paper, started painting, all was going well.  In fact I was rather pleased with how well the leaves were turning out.  Then I tried to lay in the background of rocks and lichens.  The idea was to put down the colour, use "back splats" to create some clear spots to paint in the lichens, throw on a little salt to make some little spots.  Well I got splats all right.  And pooled up areas that dried into lines that I didn't want.  The more I try to fix it the worse it gets.  I think I'll just start over.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


We were continuing with leaves, I was piddling around with techniques we had learned and got thinking of cattail leaves, so tried a study on cattails.  I'm realizing that cattail heads are more "hotdog" shaped when in their prime, they only start to deteriorate into the fat-batten shapes in winter when the seeds are fluffing out.  I was just happily drawing in leaves and heads, this is where I  need to pay more attention to details in  reference and specimens.  Or...I can just use the ol' standby excuse of "artistic license"....yeah, let's go with that.  ;-)

I need more practice on the leaves, gotta work those greens, and don't like that one that divides the composition in the middle, but it's good practise and I like it.  Going to do some more of these.


On to specific flowers.  Tulips are fun to draw and paint.  I like the simple form and clean lines, although "simple" isn't always the word to use when depicting them.

This one I'm happy with, going to cut  a matte and frame it and put it on my wall.  All these classes over the years, gotta put something on the walls to show for it.