August 25, 2008

Summer endings

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:20 pm by czygyny

 

The sweetest of Springs has now past, a smokey Summer of freedom is passing away. Some blue-oak leaves are beginning to show drought-induced senescence, and the Canadian geese are starting to practice their migration flights, strengthening the wings of this year’s offspring to complete the long journey ahead.

The evenings are sneaking up earlier, and the nights are spangled with stars that have been veiled all summer. The symphony of crickets still fills the night air making me I wish I had access to a top notch recording setup to bottle up their song for silent, dark winter nights.

The garden has matured, looking a bit haggard by the insect invasion that attacks every leaf and stem. Pumpkins, melons and winter squash peek out from the broad leaves and the tiny winter veggie seedlings begin their little green lives under cover of row cloth to keep the melting sun at bay.

The luxury of sleeping in has passed, school comes around again, and its up at a dark 5:30 in the morning now, instead of 7 or 8. It is just as well, the days are still so hot it is better to be outside working in the early morning than to wait until it hits 90° or more.

I haven’t completed my list of things to do: I haven’t had my big yard sale, yet. My sheep haven’t been sold, no firewood provisions made, nor do I have hay in the barn. Where did the time go?

It’s been a great time of being home, life’s busy-making has filled in every niche and opening of time. But, money is getting tight enough to need to look ahead in a few months. Hopefully with the coming cold, dark and wet season, life will slow down to allow me to pick up the job search again.

But, lately I have let my worries get a hold of me when I look at the state of the world, today. We seem on the brink of disaster, our way of life has never seemed so tenuous. My thoughts turn to survival, not business-as-usual. The world’s weather seems to have become a foreign force, floods, fire, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes in various places and in ever larger magnitudes. Unrest in nations, the financial health of banks are suffering, the rock-solid investment in real estate has proven a foundation of sand.

I have a feeling that the next few years will be a testing time for all of us.

But, for now, the year turns on the downhill slide. Soon, blessed rain will fall, trees will bare their branches, birds will depart for warmer climes. The winter coats and mufflers will come out of storage, and the summer of abundance will pass its torch to the cleansing time of winter, with the brief and colorful interlude of fall as a prize to enjoy before darkness falls.

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“Yeah, but what about the photographs?”

Well of course, I have been taking pictures!

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Is this a bee, a wasp or a fly?

It is a wasp-mimic fly, as the large compound eyes that touch one another proves. Cute little guy.

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Now this is the real deal! This red ground-hunter wasp has the most unique smokey, irridescent wings that reflect the blue of the sky. She looks potent and I believe it! I fished her out of the pool, so I had the opportunity to take a series of images of her before she gathered enough strength to fly away.

A relative of hers, a larger, black and irridescent green ground-hunter proves too elusive to get a good picture. She recognizes me, too, unlike the other species who ignore me. When I draw close she hovers in front of my face menacingly, all 2 1/2 inches of black venom! Maybe I can share her later. I hear they really pack a whallop in the sting business.

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I don’t see these formations very often, lines and lines of cumulus undulatus. I more frequently see higher, smoother undulating clouds.

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This is a close up of one of my Astrophytus cacti. This star cactus has a wonderful shape and is covered with tiny dots of white. Close up makes for a good abstract image.

Thanks for dropping by!

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June 12, 2008

Hey, what’s bugging you?

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , at 10:41 pm by czygyny

 

I know most folks don’t care for the buggy world of insects. Insects are someting to ward off with screened windows, something that keeps a can of Raid under the sink and a can of OFF! close by during the summer as evening approaches. Insects are what we hang the glowing house of death, the bug-zapper for on our back porches to take secret fascination at the gruesome manner of death of a particularly large bug that is having a more difficult time of its bitter demise.

Insects are a monthly visit from the pest control fellow pumping brews so toxic that he wears a spiffy white suit to isolate himself from the exposure. Insects are creepy, crawly pests that ruin picnics and spoil the pantry. And what is it with the six legs, multiple eyes and exoskeleton thing going on?

Well, if you are part of that crowd, it might find this gallery a bit discomfiting, but give it a try…insects are fascinating creatures close-up, their ornamentation and color, from warning hazard yellow/black combos in the venomous wasps to the  baubled and bright color patterned infant katydid to the bee-mimic hoverfly with wings a-whir, flying with the kind of precision that anything man-made can only envy.

Even the wasps are different from each other, some are rusty-red and yellow, but most come in the yellow and black motif, the difference being the size, I show three different ones in these images, and even a tiny black bee dwarfed by its giant cousins. One even has big green eyes.

The little green fella is what I am assuming to be an instar katydid, they go through incomplete metamorphosis so they are small versions of the adults, sometimes with a great difference in ornamentation and color.

The hover-fly is a bit difficult to see in the image, taken as she flies motionless over the creek-bed stones. They are one of my favorite little bugs, they seem the epitome of joyful flight.

The wasp with the green ball in her mouth is a great example of the insect eating capabilities these creatures offer. That is a yummy, chewed up caterpillar in her mandibles. I do my best to make sure nests go undisturbed in areas with low traffic after seeing just how much these little powerhouses hunt! Some hunt infant grasshoppers (before they get large enough to devour your garden), some hunt spiders, others just crickets. They make their brood nests out of paper, out of mud, meticulously gathered dried grass, little circles of leaf cuttings; building them in holes, under eaves, in the ground, some even build minute small necked pots as if a tiny potter had been hard at work.

They nectar on some flowers that butterflies seem uninterested in visiting, like my carrots left gone to seed, and take up the slack in the pollinating game that the bees leave undone, but the greatest reason for keeping them near is their insect control.

I am very seldom stung, always from disturbing a hidden and unknown nest. Otherwise, they fly past me on their ramblings, I stick my camera lens right up on them without distress and they are usually quite tolerant of my presence around their nests.

If this gallery gives you the willies, just wait until I complete a spider gallery. We get some really BIG ones out here in the country, some so large that you can hear them running up the walls!