Archive for June, 2013

Fossils and More

You wouldn’t believe some of the things I have laying around my house. In this case, it’s fossils.

My husband used to be the bow mechanic for a sporting goods store for 15 years. A man from Florida came up occasionally to visit his family. He’d come in for my husband to work on his bow. He hunted for whale fossils. Ron told him his wife really liked fossils, and he brought me whale bone fossils the next time he came to Illinois.

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This piece of a bone measures 10 inches long.

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and this one is 7 inches tall, 6 wide,

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and 5″  front to back. Both bones are heavy.

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The rest of these fossils came from Alaska. My son has a good friend in Anchorage that he met on ebay. Craig buys exotic woods, stabilizes them, cuts them into blocks and scales, then sells them on ebay. He sent me the rest of the fossils in the blog. The one above is a walrus ivory.

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Any guesses on this one? It’s a whale vertebra and measures almost 6 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.

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I find it odd that the underside is smooth, but what do I know.

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This is a fossilized claw — don’t know what from.

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This is an oosik bone. Anyone wanting to know what that is can research online.

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And this …. this is a fossil and an artifact! Craig found it on the beach near Nome. It’s called a bola. The men would go off hunting. The women stayed behind and were responsible for getting birds. A weight, like this bola, was tied on “rope” of sinew or animal skin. It was swung in a circle overhead and and thrown at birds in flight.

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Since I mentioned Craig, I wanted to show you some of the knives my son, Davis, has made with Craig wood, mammoth tooth and ivory.

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These 3 knives have damascus blades, each have ivory too. The bolster on the middle one is mammoth tooth. The black and white on the handle of the one on the right is ebony and ivory.

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Davis also makes bow grips with Craig wood too. This makes it look like he uses ivory quite often. He doesn’t, it only rarely.

Craig sells his scales and blocks on his ebay page: craigstevensstudio.

He doesn’t list all the time, so if you might be interested in his wood, just check every now and then.














Oh What a Night!

It all started about 8:30 p.m. when a storm quickly came through (Wednesday).

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Buffy and I went out at 9, like we usually do to take orb pictures.  There were almost no orbs, and then I noticed all the in-cloud lightning all around us. I decided we’d better get in the house. We weren’t in 2 minutes before a heavy rain began falling.

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If it’s raining outside, I have 2 doors and 3 windows I take pictures out of. It’s according to the direction of the wind.

I was then busy until almost 11. Then I realized that lightning still flashed in all directions. Since I have night blindness, I asked my husband to drive me down to what we call the “landfill road” a couple miles south of the house.

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Ron backed the truck in a parking area just off the highway and parked facing south toward the storm. Lightning flashed, lots of lightning flashed all around us. Constant flashing. We watched in-cloud lightning, cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning, all flashing almost constantly. My first picture shows my excitement over the experience and no notice of camera angle. IMG_2777 red

I held my camera out the window with the button part way down and tried to get pictures when flashes occured. The horizontal colored bars are on a semi.

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Well, I just happened to push the shutter button just as a bolt of lightning went from cloud to ground. The camera was on the low-light setting, and this resulted.

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The lightning looked much more impressive in person than in these pictures. The storm continued on its way south.

So, basically, the storm/lightning lasted from 8:30 p.m. until almost midnight. Must have been a lot of purification and energizing for the Earth and atmosphere going on! It was the most amazing experience, and I hope you enjoyed it too. 



Unexpected Color


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The leaves are bristle-tipped, which tells me this tree is in the black oak family.

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The young oak grows in the corner of the weedpatch in our backyard.

(It’s obvious that years of neglect produced a jungle. It can be a hub of activity.)

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The pink of the new leaves caught me off guard.

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Even the leaves at the top of the tree were pink.



Yard Walk About

My day isn’t complete without a walk-about the backyard every evening.

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Green darner dragonflies are common.  IMG_1234 crop red

Not all spiders spin a flat web.

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She will lay her eggs toward the back  and stay near the opening to protect them. 

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I realize this isn’t the best picture of this small plume moth. It was the first one I’ve ever seen, and it only allowed time for one picture. 


Immature Ladybug Beetles

  I was weeding in one of my the gardens. 

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I lifted a triangular rock, and there was a ladybug nest.  They hurried into the nearest tunnels. Finding a nest was  first for me.

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Back up here! These were ladybugs, but were too small. I ended up on the Enchanted Learning website. During the nymph stage the ladybugs are gray with a segmented body and legs. These were ladybugs in their pupal stage, which lasts 5-7 days. Near the middle on the left is a cavity with a rolypoly in it. It shows just how small these ladybug pupae were. Then right below the rolypoly is a ladybug pupa that for some reason has a white head and thorax.

There wasn’t a ladybug in sight when I checked the next day.


What are the Odds!

I wonder what the odds are of walking around the weedpatch,

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  seeing a silvery checkerspot,

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and turning the corner and finding a pearl cresent?

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Silvery checkerspots are double-brooded, and the early ones lay their eggs on winged crownbeard.

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Pearl crescents lay their eggs on asters.

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I’m sure there’s plenty of asters growing in my weed patch for the pearl crescents. 

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Winged crownbeard and wingstem are “cousins. ” The crownbeard blooms later in the summer.



A SHORT Morning Hike

Buffy and I headed out early for a short hike because of the forecast for heat in the 90’s. Rain yesterday dramatically increased the humidity.  I drove through the country so I could take my time and enjoy the views.

Growth was high along the one-lane road into my place. Camp hadn’t been mowed, and I wasn’t about to wade out into that “thicket.” I realized real soon that mosquitoes were a problem, as were a few biting flies. Buffy wasn’t used to the heat. She kept eating greens and panting.

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This was view to the south of my pull-in.

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Winged crownbeard bloomed to the north.

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A wide patch of it used to grow in a low part of the barrens. I stood at the edge of it one time drawing. I stooped down to take a picture. The whole patch transformed into a wide patch of brillant yellow. An indigo bunting (a bright blue bird) landed on a flower stalk near the opposite side of the patch.

That was an important lesson for me. I stooped often for a different perspective after that.

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  A crab spider rested on the back flower of this daisy fleabane.

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These ox-eye daisies were past their prime and the stalks hung over.

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A silvery checkerspot fed at this black-eyed susan. They lay eggs on the winged crownbeard.

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This mourning cloak butterfly basked in the sun. They are one of the butterfly species in our area (southern Illinois) that overwinter as adults.


 Not bad for 20 minutes of sweating and swatting.


Looks Uncomfortable

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I used to like the flower called faerie wand.

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Not any more.  It has underground runners that have taken over almost 3/4 of my butterfly garden. Armed with my poacher’s spade, I attacked the unwanted patch last night.

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The white of the spider’s egg sac caught my attention.

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That sure looks like an uncomfortable way to spend the day.

The spiderlings will hatch and remain in the cocoon until they are able to run about.



Asked Politely

Weather has allowed for yard work lately. A cream-colored moth has occasionally landed on the grass near me.

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  Today, I figured it was asking to be the prominent feature in one of my blogs. Even with my permission to take its picture, I still had to sneak up on it.

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It seemed odd that everytime I’ve seen it, it’s landed in the grass where it was anything but camouflaged.


I identified the moth as a Least-marked Euchlanena. They fly here in southern Illinois late May into June. The caterpillars are inchworms and feed on oaks and sugar maples.

Yard Update

A furry family lives under the barn.  It’s not the foxes that were here earlier.

I posted a blog about the foxes denning under the barn, and that was the last day I saw them.

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This is the last picture I took on that day.

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The picture of them nursing remains my favorite picture from last summer.

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Then recently an eastern phoebe family nested in the barn.

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The fledgings left the nest in 16 days, and the parents are now nesting again. I’m not documenting this nesting because of the ka-zillions of mites in the area of the nest (ground and all).

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Apparently the groundhogs have a den in the strip pit hills behind us.

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