Harvestman – Looks Like a Spider, But Isn’t

We always called these daddy longleg spiders, but they aren’t spiders! Arachnids – yes. Spiders – no. I only figured this out today when I did the research for this post.

They aren’t even the only critters that are called daddy longlegs – cellar spiders and craneflies are called that too.

Bug Bits
Name:  Harvestman
Species:  Phalangium opilio
Native to:  Found in most terrestrial habitats.
Date Seen:  October 2011; August 2013
Location:  North of Calgary, Alberta
Notes:  These arachnids have eight long slender legs and short globular bodies. They don’t have antennae. They don’t spin webs, and they are not venomous.

Eurasian Collared-Dove

The Feather Files
Name:  Eurasian Collared-Dove
Species:  Streptopelia decaocto
Native to and Migration:  In North America – most of the United States; SW Canada, Mexico; non-migratory.
Date Seen:  May 2017; March 2016
Location:  North of Calgary, Alberta; north of Fountain Hills, Arizona
Notes:  These birds are now native to Europe and Asia, though they were originally from India. They were introduced into North America in 1974, when about 50 of them escaped captivity in Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas – then moved to Florida.

These doves typically breed close to human habitation where food resources are abundant and there are trees for nesting. They can produce three or four broods a year, which helps to explain their successful colonization of such a large part of the world.

They are a valuable food source for owls, eagles, hawks and falcons.

The dove’s monotonous coo – coo – coo can be incredibly annoying because it is repeated over and over and over – for hours. If the bird (or birds) are sitting on the top of the fireplace chimney, the sound is amplified and even more annoying… A flock of doves on the roof of your house is a very messy affair.

Lady’s Slipper Orchids – No Match for the Mower

Yellow Lady’s Slipper Orchids growing in the ditch opposite us. You can see our trees at the top of the photo. At the far right of the photo is the stalk of a flowering Meadow Rue.

I’ve blogged about the Lady’s Slipper Orchids several times:  Lady’s Slipper Orchid – Surprise in the Ditch and Lady’s Slipper Orchid Mimics the Old Masters. In that post, I mentioned the fate of the orchids when the county mower bears down on them.

This year the mower arrived earlier in the season than normal and chopped off the Orchid flowers before they had a chance to go to seed. It would be an understatement to say this made me very sad. I had been visiting them and taking pictures of them every morning when I went for my walk. It was while I was photographing them that I discovered the delicate flowers of a meadow rue nearby. (Also a plastic lid and a red straw, which I’ll remove once I don’t need them to accurately mark the location of the now decapitated flowers…)

I first found the Lady’s Slipper in 2011, and while I would have loved to have one growing on my property, I contented myself with visiting them in the ditch (especially since they have established a dozen or so new clumps so close to our place.) The mower changed all that. I’m going to research the probability of success if I transplant one or two of the plants onto my property…

As for the Meadow Rue – turns out I have hundreds of them in our woods, now that I know what to look for!

Plant Profile
Common Name:  Lady’s Slipper Orchid (yellow)
Scientific Name:  Cypripedium parviflorum
Hardiness:  Zones 3-7 – found in many parts of Canada and the United States. It is a hardy plant.
Growth:  A Perennial that varies in height depending on location. In the north it can often be found in open locations with full sun. In other locations it will be found in cool rich woods.
Blooms:   Large deep-yellow flowers with long yellow-to-brown corkscrew lateral petals. Blooms over a 2 to 3 week period in early to mid spring.

Chaos in the Garden

This is one of my flower beds. It has been over 20 years in the making. In that time, a small tree grew – casting more and more deep shade. The plants that liked sun weren’t so happy about this. Some died – I thought. So I planted others, only to have the dead sometimes reappear (yes, tulips, I’m talking about you and your splashes of red in a bed that once was yellow, blue and purple!)

This year I gave up on order and accepted plant Chaos. Even chaos will take time, though. There are bare spots where some things, like my bleeding hearts, all died this past winter. As George W. Bush said:

Topaz Studio filter “Ghost Town”

What George Bush actually said was “…And, you know, it’ll take time to restore chaos and order – order out of chaos. But we will.” Some media outlets shortened the quote to “It will take time to restore chaos” which triggered the usual crowd to make fun of him – but I think the shortened quote perfectly describes my new gardening mantra.

Topaz Studio filter “HDR”

Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.
– Henry Adams –

Topaz Studio filter “Rock”

Chaos is roving through the system and able to undo, at any point, the best laid plans.
– Terence McKenna –

Topaz Studio filter “3D Sketch”

Chaos is not the lack of order, it is merely the absence of order, that the observer is used to.
– Mamur Mustapha –

Topaz Studio filter “Abstract”

All of these photos were altered with Topaz Studio filters.

What say you – which photo is most chaotic?

Anise Swallowtail Butterfly

Bug Bits
Name: Anise Swallowtail Butterfly
Species: Papilio zelicaon
Native to: Western North America
Date Seen: May 2012
Location: Southern Alberta
Notes: A large butterfly – 52 to 80 mm (2.0 to 3.1 in) similar in color to the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly – except quite different when you look more carefully!

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

The Feather Files
Name: Red-breasted Nuthatch
Species: Sitta canadensis
Native to and Migration: Found throughout much of Canada and the United States. Can be resident or a short-distance migrant.
Date Seen: September 2016
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta
Notes: These birds wander up, down and sideways along trunks and branches of trees. They eat mainly insects, but in fall and winter they will eat conifer seeds. We call them and other small birds like them, hoover birds. Flocks of them hop across the patio and lawn picking up the spruce seeds that our forest sheds all over our property.

Topaz Studio Filter that emphasizes the feathers
Another Topaz Studio Filter

Ghost in Landscape Mode

A Special Report from our ‘Rover’ reporter, Ghost the Dog:

hi peoplekind!

this photo shows me thinking.   it might look like sleeping.   but you can see I have one eye open.   i do my best thinking.   when I’m in ‘landscape mode’.   what better place to stretch out.   than on a people couch!

right now, I’m thinking about what the gramma dog (owner of this blog but not owner of me) meant.   she told me politicians are sometimes kind of whackadoodle.   it’s an election year and gramma dog tells me all sorts of things.    when we go for a walk.   i don’t think anyone else.   wants to listen to her anymore.   a wackadoodle.   all i’ve come up with so far is that it must be a kind of poodle cross.   that I’ve not seen  at the dog park.

i’m not that impressed with poodles, really.   our ancestor was a prehistoric wolf!   i see a lot of wolf in me.   but a poodle – well let’s just say they developed.   along a branch that should have been lopped off.   before it got as far as it did.

the gramma dog  tells me that because I am a dog.   i don’t see as many colours as some people.   i don’t really remember.   what issue we were discussing.   when we got onto this topic.   i’m red-green colour blind.   grandpa car guy is colour blind too.   so we have that in common.

when I visit their house i am the shop dog.   i don’t get to go into the house.   i thought when I quit piddling a lot,   i might get a house pass.   sadly no.   the Grandma dog says if I could leave my coat outside.   she’d let me in.   i shed a lot… plus, she says I can’t chew sticks in the house.   and I can’t knock stuff off shelves with my tail.   that would be a lot to give up.   just to see if her couch is comfortable.

that’s if for now.   i really have to go to sleep.   but if you want to read more about me, click on the tag below.   with my name in it.   gHosT.

Mountain Bluebird – Attracting Bluebirds (Video)

Male Mountain Bluebird, Arches National Park
Female Mountain Bluebird, Alberta
Male Mountain Bluebird, Alberta
Male Mountain Bluebird, Alberta

The Feather Files
Name: Mountain Bluebird
Species: Sialia currucoides
Native to and Migration: Mountain Bluebirds breed in western North America as far north as Alaska. They winter as far south as central Mexico
Date Seen:  May 2016;  May 2017
Location: Arches National Park, Utah, USA;  North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Notes:  Mountain Bluebirds will use man made birdhouses if the location is to their liking.

Lighter Side of Canadian Governments

That Good Looking Bullshitter in a Suit

Justin (Trudeau) looks more and more like a regression to the mean, a nice guy with influential friends but still just another ordinary good-looking bullshitter in a suit.
– Crawford Kilian, The Tyee –


Background to the cartoon: Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has threatened to sue Conservative Party Leader Scheer over Scheer’s statements that Trudeau interfered with the prosecution of Montreal firm SNC-Lavalin and lied to Canadians about it. This  ‘scandal’ has led to two resignations: Trudeau’s Principal Secretary, G. Butts and Michael Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council (who is also head of the federal public service). Trudeau also ousted two members of his party because they criticized his behavior.

It’s Just Other People’s Money

As Margaret Thatcher once pointed out, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

In 2016, under the left wing NDP government, Alberta’s capital city, Edmonton, lost roughly 15,000 private-sector jobs, but it gained 14,000 provincial public-sector ones. The debt and deficit increased as did government intervention in the form of income redistribution and regulation. Albertans recently said, enough is enough – and elected a more fiscally Conservative government.

Two Ways to Deal with a Coyote

In British Columbia (perhaps):
The Premier is jogging with his or her dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks the Premier’s dog, then bites the Premier.
The Premier starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie “Bambi” and then realizes he should stop because the coyote is only doing what is natural. He calls animal control. Animal Control captures the coyote and bills the province $200 for testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.
The Premier goes to hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for diseases from the coyote and to get his bite wound bandaged.
The running trail gets shut down for 6 months while Fish and Game conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is now free of dangerous animals.
The Premier spends $50,000 in provincial funds implementing a “coyote awareness program” for residents of the area. The provincial legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.
The Premier’s security agent is fired for not stopping the attack. The Province spends $150,000 to hire and train a new agent with additional special training re: the nature of coyotes.
PETA protests the coyote’s relocation and files a $5 million suit against the province.

In Alberta:
The Premier is jogging with his or her dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks the dog.
The Premier’s security agent shoots the coyote, drags it into the bushes and keeps jogging.
The Premier has spent $0.50 on a cartridge.
The crows eat the dead coyote.

Trudeau Goes to India

Justin Trudeau’s India visit has proved one thing. He has more Indian outfits than all the men in my family combined!
– Anu Menon @ExLolaKutty –

Budgets Balance Themselves

Trudeau says that we need to “rethink concepts as basic as space and time.” Intelligent people say “we need to rethink Trudeau.”
– David Jacobs @DrJacobsRad –

The Liberal Party campaigned on a pledge to run short-term deficits in order to stimulate the economy and return to balance before the 2019 federal election. That didn’t happen because what Mr. Trudeau really meant was “the commitment is to grow the economy and the budget will balance itself.” Unfortunately, budgets aren’t self balancing. Finance Canada now predicts the deficit could be erased by 2045.

Not Enough Parachutes

A small plane had 4 passengers on board…
the Russian President Vladimir Putin,
the American President Donald Trump,
the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,
and a boy scout.

All of a sudden, the engine caught fire.The pilot explained to the passengers that the plane was gliding but losing altitude… it would crash in 6 minutes. Another problem was that there were 5 people on board, but only 4 parachutes.

The Russian president suddenly exclaimed “We are the best country in the world” – he grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.

The American president exclaimed “We are the most powerful country in the world” – he grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.

The Canadian Prime Minister exclaimed “I’m the brains of Canada” and he grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.

The pilot turned to the boy scout and said “Well son, there’s 2 of us left and only 1 parachute.” The boy scout looked at the pilot and said “No worries… the brains of Canada just took my backpack.”