White Admiral Butterfly

The Flutter Files
Name: White Admiral Butterfly or possibly Western White Admiral
Species: Limenitis arthemis
Native to: Much of Canada, with the Western White Admiral in Alaska and western Canada
Date Seen: June 2017
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Notes: Black or deep brown body with wide white band.

Lady’s Slipper Orchids

I’m not really finished my ‘Time Off Break’ – I just forgot that this post was scheduled. The timing is good though. These orchids, which grow in a rural ditch, were ready to bloom in the next few days – but the county mower came through yesterday and chopped off their heads.

I know it is probably not the best time of year to transplant them, but I picked out two small clumps and dug them out of the ditch. Hopefully they will survive in my yard! If yes, I’ll post pictures!

Photo altered with an HDR filter in Topaz Studio
Photo altered with a Fine Wine filter in Topaz Studio
Photo altered with a Contrast filter in Topaz Studio

My Story about these Alberta wildflowers is at Lady’s Slipper Orchid – No Match for the Mower

Face Masks – When and Where to Wear (‘Rona #23)

Wearing a Face Mask. This is still a matter of choice in many parts of the world, though there are places that have made it mandatory under certain circumstances. There does seem to be agreement that home made masks will not block the entry of a virus. These masks might, however, reduce virus spread by asymptomatic carriers. The effectiveness depends on the mask material, how well it fits, and the competence of the user. Social distancing is still considered to be the best way to prevent the virus from spreading.

The best article I have found to date, that discusses masks, is this one: Understanding Health Canada’s advice about Wearing Masks in Public. (Read the Author’s About page if you would like to know Blair King’s credentials.) He discusses Conscientious Mask Wearers, Conscientious Non-Mask Wearers, and Non-Conscientious Mask Wearers.

Wear a mask when you can’t social distance but when in public at a safe social distance it is just as safe to not wear masks. To be clear, if you see me on a bus; I will be wearing a mask. If the store asks me to wear a mask; I will wear a mask because that is store policy. But in situations where I can safely social distance, I will follow our health professionals’ advice and keep my hands to myself while keeping a safe social distance and not wear a mask.
– Blair King, Understanding Health Canada’s advice about wearing masks in public

Of course, this is one man’s opinion and it might not mesh with everything you have read in your preferred mass media or what your friends tell you on social media. So be it. Mask wearing is still a choice in most situations. It is not the right or responsibility for any of us to comment on or shame others for the choice they have made. (This topic is discussed at ‘Behind the Mask’ at the blog ‘A Life Well Lived’.)

I’ll end this with a story that shows how hard it is to know what to believe these days – even when you get information ‘straight from the horses mouth’!

When we were getting ready to drive from Arizona to Alberta, I read mass media stories about states closing their borders. So I researched the entry/exit rules for the three states we would be driving through – Utah, Idaho and Montana. Each state website talked about 14 day quarantines if you entered the state, but that didn’t apply to visitors who were only going to drive through the state. Overnight stays were allowed too, as long as they weren’t in parks that had been closed. We were good to go for that part of the trip.

Then there was the Canadian website (returning Canadians without symptoms section). It said “You must wear a non-medical mask or face covering while traveling to the place you will quarantine (self-isolate). Go directly to your place of quarantine, without stopping anywhere, and stay there for 14 days.”

Hmmm. We had our own vehicle, we had masks… but why would we need to wear them in our car for a 4 hour drive? What if we needed gas or a bathroom break?

Fortunately, the people who write these things aren’t the people who greet you at the border and let you into the country. It was a normal border crossing, with a short discussion about Covid and some questions about where we were going to stay during quarantine. Last, but not least, we were told we MUST put on a mask IF we had to stop before we got home.

So, which mask type are you?

All My Virus Posts (and lots of funny things) are here: The Lighter Side of Covid-19.

Red Lily Beetle Invades Alberta

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Red Lily Beetle

I normally do not use pesticides at my place. I’m fairly tolerant of anything Mother Nature invites into my back yard. So, in 2011, when some pretty, bright red, unspotted beetles showed up on my lilies, I welcomed them. There was no question that their intent was to eat the lily leaves, but I had lots of lilies, so I was content to let them graze. I was confident Mother Nature would send in some troops to keep the beetles in check. That was the first year.

The second year, the beetle numbers had multiplied. Their offspring were disgusting, gooey things. By the time my lilies started to bloom, there was not much left of them to bloom. I searched the internet, and discovered unsettling information about this red lily beetle. It is very hardy, isn’t bothered much by chemical warfare, and has no natural enemies in my part of the world.

Many gardeners have apparently torn out their lily beds, rather than try to control the beetle. I decided to embark on a process of elimination, armed with a bucket of soapy water, a pair of forceps, and a stiff sheet of white paper. I started as soon as my lilies poked their heads out of the ground. Every morning I would inspect the leaves carefully. When I found a beetle, I would capture it and throw it in the bucket of soapy water. I’d read that the beetle is a very strong flier, but can’t swim. I have confirmed the swimming part of this information. Not a single one of the beetles survived.

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Orange Lily

You are probably wondering what I used the forceps and the paper for. The forceps were very handy for plucking the beetle out of hard to reach places. The paper was to foil one of the beetles other skills – invisibility. When the beetle senses danger, it drops off  the plant onto the ground. It lands on its back, where it lies quite still. The underside of its body is dirt color… so I would position the sheet of paper under the plant so that the beetle would drop on the paper instead of the dirt. The beetle was no longer invisible!

02-red-lily-beetle2During the height of the beetle season, before they started to lay eggs, I increased my lily inspection to two or three times a day. Eventually I ran out of bugs to catch, and I did not see a single one of the disgusting larvae. I was cautiously optimistic that there were no more red lily beetles in my yard – for that year, anyway. I had every reason to expect a glorious display of lily blooms that year. And I would have if the hail hadn’t got them…

The Lily Beetles returned. In the spring of 2015 I gave up the fight. I started to remove all my lilies except one – the White Trumpet Lily.

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White Trumpet Lily

Removing some types of lilies is as difficult a task as removing the Lily Beetle. The orange lilies produce lots of little bulblets that are easy to overlook when the parent bulbs are removed. In other words, the lilies keep coming back, no matter how often I remove them. I’ve given up trying. If the lilies and the lily beetle can reach some sort of détente, who am I to interfere?

Detente – isn’t that what a farmer has with his turkey – until Thanksgiving?
– Ronald Reagan –

Another Moose

I told my niece that I saw a moose on the way to work this morning
She said, “How do you know he was on his way to work?”
– Author Unknown –


Not so long ago, a pair of Moose ambled across the field behind our house. The moose (not meese or mooses) stopped for a short while, contemplated something, then moved on. (This was the best I could do, photo wise. The light was not great, nor was the weather…)

Fast forward to last week. I was at our local Canadian Tire store, and what do you think I saw? A moose – and not just any moose. A genuine Canadian moose dressed in red Trooper’s Hat, plaid shirt and a sporty scarf – with a Rudolph Nose!

Portrait of a Moose

Showing great restraint, I didn’t buy the moose. I did buy two strings of Christmas lights, though. Two days later, I realized I needed one more string of lights… and guess what? Apparently I needed a moose too, because there it was, right where I had left it in the store. Waiting patiently, glassy eyes sparkling, red nose acting like a beacon as it drew me down the aisle of this, that and a bunch of other stuff I didn’t need or want.

Moose with an HDR filter

Did I need a moose? No, of course not. Did I want something that makes me smile every time I look at it? Well, maybe. Did I have a vehicle in the parking lot big enough to carry a small moose? Well, yes I did. Was The Car Guy willing to carry the beast through the store and out into the parking lot? Well, yes he said he would.

Moose with a cartoonish filter

Does red plaid clash with my decor? Not at all.
Going, going, gone – another Canadian Tire Moose gets a home!

Moose needs a name. I’m thinking ‘Bruce’. What would you name this moose?

Bald-faced Hornet

Alberta
Nest under construction

Alberta

Completed nest

Bug Bits
Common Name: Bald-faced Hornet
Scientific Name: Dolichovespula maculata Linnaeus
Native to: Throughout North America
Date Seen: August 2013
Location: North East of Calgary, Alberta
Notes: This is not a true hornet – it is more closely related to yellow jackets. They have striking black and white markings and are a large size. They kill significant numbers of flies and occasionally yellow jackets. They make large, football-shaped paper nests that can be up to 14 inches (35 cm) in diameter and 23 inches (60 cm) in length. They are aggressive if they feel threatened and will sting repeatedly.

They built this nest in a lilac bush near our house. Fortunately, we were able to coexist without causing each other any harm…

Crane Fly

Bug Bits
Name: Crane Fly
Family: Tipulidae
Native to: Crane Flies are found throughout the world, though individual species may have a limited range.
Date Seen: July 2016
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Notes: A Crane Fly has a pair of membranous wings, large compound eyes, and very long legs. Many types of Crane Flies do not eat when in their adult stage.

They look like oversized mosquitoes…

Bee Fly – a Pollinator and a Predator

Did you know that over 925,000 species of insects have been identified? Entomologists believe this is only 20% of the total number of insect species in the world. While all insects play in important role in the life cycle of something, the most prolific ones seem to be the ones that are simply a pain to have around. Ants, fleas, hornets, mosquitoes, cockroaches – you can probably add to this list with the ones that invade your home or garden!

Some flies and gnats were sitting on my paper and this disturbed me; I breathed on them to make them go, then blew harder and harder, but it did no good. The tiny beasts lowered their behinds, made themselves heavy, and struggled against the wind until their thin legs were bent. They were absolutely not going to leave the place. They would always find something to get hold of, bracing their heels against a comma or an unevenness in the paper, and they intended to stay exactly where they were until they themselves decided it was the right time to go.
– Knut Hamsun, Hunger –

The Bee Fly is one of those insects that has a good side and a bad side – it is a Pollinator but it is also a Bee Predator.

This Bee Fly was drinking nectar from the flowers of a Spiraea Bush. From a distance, it was just a small black fly. The story changed with the macro lens – two tone wings and big buggy eyes!

Bug Bits
Name:  Bee Fly
Family:  Bombyliidae
Native to:  The Bombyliidae Family of insects are found throughout much of the world. Little is known about them due to lack of research. They are flower pollinators.
Date Seen:  June 2019
Location:  North of Calgary, Alberta
Notes:  Bee Flies have two membrane-like wings, often with interesting patterns on them. They spread their wings out when they rest. Their bodies are usually covered with fine gray, yellow, brown and/or black hairs. The dark side of it’s life cycle is – bee fly eggs are laid in underground bee nests. The resulting larva feeds on bee stored pollen and also eat bee larvae.

Digital Magic
I ran the Bee Fly through Topaz Studio filters and this is what I got:

Topaz Studio Cartoon Filter
Topaz Studio Kaleidoscope Filter
Topaz Studio Painter filter
Topaz Studio Telb014 filter

What is your tolerance level for insects when a fly lands on your kitchen counter, an ant tries to make off with a crumb from your picnic plate, a mosquito makes a withdrawal from your blood bank or a flea makes your dog itch?

Green and Yellow with a Blanket of White

We had 10 inches (25 cm) of early season snow last week. The best thing about this is that it is the wake-up call for what is going to come when winter arrives for good.

Winter Morning Poem – By Ogden Nash

Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That’s the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue!
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing.
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.

Ten inches of snow looked like this:

Topaz Studio HDR filter
Abstraction filter
Telbarion Filter
Impasto filter

Frederic Ogden Nash (August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971) was an American poet who wrote over 500 pieces of light verse. He used unconventional rhyming schemes and was declared the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry!

Do you know any other Ogden Nash poems?

Canadian Snowbird Stories

The fountain in Fountain Hills Arizona – on St Patrick’s Day. the water is tinted green.

I’ve edited the following popular Snowbird joke that circulates in emails. I made it an Alberta/Arizona joke instead of Minneapolis/Florida (though it is rather far fetched to think someone would choose to honeymoon in Arizona…)

An Alberta couple decided to go to Arizona to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Calgary and flew to Phoenix on Thursday. His wife would fly down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an e-mail to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her e-mail address, and without realizing his error, sent the e-mail.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her e-mail since she was expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I’ve Arrived
Date: November 18, 2004

I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send e-mails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.
PS. Sure is freaking hot down here.
– Original Author Unknown –

Now, here is a real Canadian Snowbird story.  If you are going to run out of a prescription drug before you can get back to Canada, there could be a way you can get it refilled.

Take the remaining medication to a local Urgent Care (Primary Care Walk-in) Centre (we used the one nearest  to us, in Fountain Hills Arizona). Be sure the medication is in the original container with the label from the pharmacy that filled your prescription.

The Doctors or Nurse Practitioners will give you a similar check-up to what your doctor at home would do before renewing your prescription. There will, of course, be a fee for this service.

The prescription will be sent to a pharmacy of your choice for pick-up the next day.