Bumble bees – Pollinators at Work

Bees shouldn’t be so nice and fuzzy.
– Cynthia Copeland Lewis –

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My new Macro lens has been working as hard as the insects in the yard! Particularly busy are the Bumblebees. These are wild, native bees that form small colonies underground. They are very efficient pollinators in our part of the world.  In the fall all but the fertilized queens will die.

Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.
– Mary Kay Ash –

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This is another type of Bumblebee,  not nearly as colorful as the one with the orange band on its rump!

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I’m looking forward to looking for more bugs now that I can take portraits of them! Apparently our Province has about 20,000 species of insects – I wonder how many I will find in my backyard! However many there are, there is an interesting ebb and flow of populations which I can see in the insect damage done to some trees and plants.

What kind of insects are the pollinators in your yard? Do you plant anything special that they like?

Utah and Washington – A Definition of Fall includes Fall Down

FALL – a word with quite a few meanings, and even more idioms! I’ve chosen three photos, all taken in the season we call Fall or Autumn, but demonstrating the direction ‘down’.

waterfallThis Water Fall is in the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington State.

cabinHere is a cabin on Whidbey Island that is starting to Fall Down.

fall leavesMost of the leaves had Fallen Off the trees in Zion Park in Utah.

THE QUOTES:

A man should be judged by what he stands for, also by what he falls for.
– Mark Twain –

We have to learn to be our own best friends because we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies.
– Roderick Thorp –

Someone once asked Paul Harvey, the journalist and radio commentator, to reveal the secret of his success. “I get up when I fall down,” said Harvey.
– Bits & Pieces, March 3, 1994 –

What do you think of when you hear the word Fall?  What is the most significant Fall  you have ever experienced?

Networking – Awards and Challenges

Networking is not about hunting. It is about farming. It’s about cultivating relationships.
– Dr. Ivan Misner –

Networks – how many do you belong to?  I have many, built over the years in response to what I was doing. My most recent network is because of my interest in blogging. A Blogging network  isn’t just about who comes to my blog. It is also about which blogs I follow.

One of the ways bloggers build this network is by passing along Awards and Challenges. Not every blogger is interested in cultivating their relationship garden by taking part in these, which I understand. But I don’t mind them, even though I bend the rules a bit because I really don’t have an unending inventory of fellow bloggers to pass the Awards and Challenges on to!

THE VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD

This was recently passed on to me by k8edid, a delightful Middle Aged Mumbling Madwoman. I only recently discovered her blog, but I already know we share many interests and ideas.

My list of Seven things about me – I’m going to cheat here and send you back to the post I did the first time I got this award: The Versatile Blogger Award.  The only thing that has changed since I made that list is that I took my Christmas tree down in July… In that post I introduced you to Six Bone Marrow Transplant or Cancer Survivors, and I’ve added another one to that list.

SEVEN LINKS CHALLENGE

Amy nominated me for the Seven Links Challenge. See the world through Amy’s eyes at The World is a Book. I know you won’t want to leave her blog once you get there and start exploring, but it would be nice if you came back here for a few minutes.

The Seven Links Challenge has two rules.  The first is that I must publish the links to seven of my own posts for the categories below.  The second is to pass the Seven Links Challenge on to five to seven bloggers. (Or three, if you are up to your ass in alligators and that is about the best you can do for now…)

1.  Most Beautiful Post: Christmas Peace – The Christmas Season, according to the marketing world, will arrive shortly after Thanksgiving. I don’t think, then, that I am too early in suggesting some ways to tone down the nonsense of the holiday!
2.  Most Popular Post: Induction Cooking – Pots and Pans – This post got the most views, and there is not a single bit of humour in it…
3.  Most Controversial: What Dressing Like a Slut says – There are times and places where looking like a hooker might be a bit dangerous, and these are usually places where you wouldn’t leave your car unlocked either…
4.  Most Helpful: Grandma’s Doilies – turns out a lot of people wonder what to do with all those lacy bits that Grandma made with her own two hands.
5.  Most Surprisingly Successful: Using a Barnes and Noble nook in Canada – it turns out there are a lot of us who were given a bit of misleading information about the connectivity of a nook once out of the USA.
6.  Post That Didn’t Get the Attention It Deserved: Self-Indulgence –  a cautionary tale about spending what you don’t have
7.  Post I Am Most Proud Of: Actually, I am happy with each and every post I’ve written. But Self Control and Marshmallows was pretty good, and only 10 people ever read it.

Here are several bloggers who might be interested in taking up the Seven Links Challenge, but if not, I still want to tell you about them:

Before Morning Breaks – I just recently found Barb’s blog, and all I can say is that she sure has an interesting way of looking at life through the eyes of a person from Oregon.

Ramblings – Pegoleg is a witty, interesting, tell it like it is (or like you think it should be) kind of gal. Her blog is fun, as are the comments she leaves at other blogs.

Now it is your turn to talk about Networking: What is the most significant Award you have ever received?

Dandelion – Common Weed with Beautiful Seeds

Roses are red,
Violets are blue;
But they don’t get around
Like the dandelions do.
– Slim Acres –

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The Common Dandelion. Would you be surprised to know it is part of the Daisy family? And that at one time in Europe it was carefully cultivated because it was edible? That is why it was brought to North America by our forefathers. It was a  source of food!

The leaves can be cooked or used in salads and are high in Vitamins A, C and K. The roots can be dried and used as a coffee substitute.  The flowers can be made into wine. The seed heads are  food for some birds.

At least, that is what I’ve read about dandelions. I’ve never actually tasted dandelion, until today. I found a few nice healthy plants in my flower beds – not too big, unblemished dark green leaves. I picked a few leaves, took them inside, washed them well, and bit off a mouthful… Ugh – quite bitter, really. Maybe that is because it is late in the season. I’ll try again in the spring.

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Today, we think of the dandelion as a weed. How did it sink into such disgrace? I think we can blame the popularity of lush, green, lawns for that! Lawns without a single weed in them. Clearly not my grassy areas, mind you…

Now it is your turn to talk about plants we think of as weeds – Have you eaten dandelion? What are the common weeds in your part of the world that could be a good source of food?

Pansies – Flowers of Many Faces

If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?
– Abraham Lincoln –

The Pansy Family of flowers! They are fairly easy to grow and are fragrant and edible. And they have delightful faces – each and every one of them is unique! What more can you ask for in your garden?

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The reason there are so few female politicians is that it is too much trouble to put makeup on two faces.
– Maureen Murphy –

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Face.

Ladybugs – Macro Lens for Micro Photography

I learned a lot about lenses recently. I went to a camera store and told the salesman I wanted a lens that would let me take better pictures of Ladybugs. Apparently he gets lots of requests like that, because he said he had just the lens I wanted. Did you know that you have to have a Macro (meaning very large in scale) lens to take pictures of Micro (meaning very small in scale) things? Seems counter intuitive.

The salesman put one on a camera, and showed me how to use it. I played around with it for a while, pretending that the words on a magazine cover were ladybugs.

I wasn’t ready to buy one yet though, because I was shopping, not buying. To me these are two different activities. But The Car Guy was with me, and to him, shopping and buying are one and the same thing. So he said to the salesman, “We’ll take it.” He didn’t even ask the price. He didn’t go to another store to compare prices. He just bought it. We were in and out of the store so fast that the parking meter had barely begun to count down the time. The Car Guy is exciting to shop with!

We took the lens home, and I went outside looking for Ladybugs.

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Photo 1: This is a picture of a ladybug taken with the old lens – an 18 to 55 zoom lens. Let’s call this ladybug Larry. Ladybugs can be male or female, and it is pretty hard to tell one gender from another.

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Photo 2: This is a picture of a ladybug with the new  60mm 2.8 macro lens. Let’s call her Lucy. See how much bigger Lucy appears than Larry? I should mention here that neither Larry nor Lucy caused the damage you see on the leaves. That was from the hail storm.

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Photo 3: This is Larry, the ladybug in Photo 1, after I cropped the photo.

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Photo 4: Here is Lucy, the ladybug from Photo 2, after I have cropped the photo. See how much clearer the resolution is than Photo 3?

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Photo 5: A side view of another Ladybug, Linda. This photo was cropped as well. Linda is hoovering things off the top of this surface, I think. They are very beneficial bugs to have in the garden!

It is very hard to take these really close up pictures. The Ladybugs get quite skittish when a big black lens starts closing in on them and it tends to make them head for the under side of the leaf they are sitting on. Rest assured, though, that no Ladybugs were actually harmed in the making of these photos! Scared a bit, maybe, but not harmed.

How brave a ladybug must be!
Each drop of rain is big as she.
Can you imagine what you’d do,
If raindrops fell as big as you?
– Aileen Fisher –

Which bug is the superpower of the bug world where you live?

Good News for Seniors – Not Everything about Aging is Bad

We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.
– Will Rogers –

The Crabby Lady from the Complaints Department was in my office when I arrived this morning. “It’s a conspiracy!” she cried. “They are trying to kill us all by scaring us to death! Look at this headline in today’s news!” I looked at the paper she had shoved under my nose (The Paranoid Times). The headline read, “The Dangers of Breathing for Seniors“.

“It’s part of their series called “A Danger a Day”, and I tell you, they want to scare us to death so that the Government doesn’t have to pay out Seniors Benefits. Yes, the Government and the Media are in this together…” Before I could duck, she had slapped another yellow stickie on my forehead, and stomped off.

I peeled off her note and read: “Give me some good news about aging. I’m tired of all the negative crap.”

This jolted me out of my happy world of Sunshine, Daffodils, Paddling Ducks, and Hawks that swoop down and pluck up Gophers. Good News for Seniors. That wasn’t going to be easy when the whole world seemed to be heading into group hysteria over the perceived catastrophe of  Baby Boomers entering seniorhood.

After a lot of research, I came up with these three positive stories:

–  Scientists are finding more and more correlation between Heart Disease and the many forms of Dementia. Medications and lifestyle changes that have been used to promote heart health may actually protect brain health as well.  One study has even shown that treating high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s in people already starting to show signs of memory problems!

The Quippery– A three year study of 3200 Germans aged 75+, showed that seniors that drank a glass of wine or a pint of beer a day were less likely to develop Dementia and Alzheimers.

– Exercise continues to be of importance to Seniors. The good news is, the exercise doesn’t have to be at all strenuous. Being “active” can include physical activities such as housework, yard work, child care and just about any activity that requires standing up and moving around.

Now, it’s your turn to be crabby: There is no question that most of us will just keep getting older – what would you change in your life, family or country to make being a senior better?

Blogging Balance – Writing and Reading

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say.
– Sharon O’Brien –

I try to leave out the parts that people skip.
– Elmore Leonard –

My blog is like a book, and each post is a chapter. I write – you read.
Some of you readers are commenters. You write – I read.
Many of you readers are also bloggers. You write – I read.
I visit your blogs and leave comments. I write – you read.
That is what makes blogging so interesting – all these two way conversations!

The QuipperyThis all takes time, and though I enjoy every bit of it, I’m going to have to make some choices as to how many blogs I follow and how many comments I make. I need to find a better balance between being a writer and being a reader.

So perhaps all you readers and writers could give me some ideas about how you have found your balance:

1 – How many blogs do you follow, and how do you choose them?

2 – Do you respond to each and every comment left on your blog or do you only respond to a few?

3 – The second largest number of views on my blog comes from subscribers to Google RSS Feed Reader (according to my referrer stats). I have alternated between full and summary view. Which do you prefer as a reader? Which do you prefer as a writer?

Readers – I value each and every one of you. It has taken me several years to find you! (I have never had the exposure of being Freshly Pressed). I have had to attract many of you by leaving a bread trail of word crumbs around the internet! Thanks to all of you for following that trail!

Easy reading is damn hard writing.
– Nathaniel Hawthorne –

Washington – Texture and Sand in Deception Pass

We had a quicksand box in our backyard. I was an only child, eventually.
– Stephen Wright –

sand rocks bird feet tracksI took this photo on a beach near Deception Pass in Washington. Can’t you just feel the grittiness of the sand and the smooth texture of the rocks? You might also feel the warmth of the sun, except there was a mighty wind blowing in off the water – it was actually quite chilly!