It Came from Under the Porch

Odd things happen around here, plants pop up in unexpected places and we let them grow just to find out what they are. This particular plant has us scratching our heads, though. It came up under the edge of the porch from seed -- where the seed came from is the mystery...

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

The vine is huge and the fruit is interesting. We'll let it stay and if it's something we like, we'll save the seed for next year.


A Taste of the City

Treebeard and I made a quick overnight trip to Raleigh to celebrate Flamebrain's birthday.  Can't believe that child is 26 - the same age I was when he was born.  It may be cliche, but time does fly.

Posted by Picasa
Treebeard gets some wiggly affection from our granddog, Grace.  She is a bundle of energy packed into 30 pounds of solid muscle.  Being blind and deaf doesn't slow her down at all.
Posted by Picasa
Since we were in the city celebrating, we went out to eat several times.  If you like Middle Eastern food and you find yourself in the Raleigh area, give Neomonde Bakery and Deli a try.  The food is authentic, fresh and tasty.  The staff is nice and they don't mind helping you out if you don't know what to order.

Another good place to eat, provided you like Indian cuisine, is Kadhai The Indian Wok.  The food is very good and the staff is very helpful.  They even make the distinction between "American" hot and "Indian" hot when you are ordering -- an important distinction if you aren't used to spicy food.  I love hot food but I know that "Indian" medium is right for me and I never order hot ;)

Need some Asian staples in your kitchen?  Might I recommend a trip to Grand Asia Market.  But be aware that it's the real deal -- very little English on any of the labels!  We love to go there and pick up a few odds and ends.  Of course we have to do some internet research when we get home to find out what we bought and how to prepare it!

Our trip was quick but fun - it was good to see our "baby" and the granddog.   Now you must excuse me, I have some internet research to do before suppertime...


Laying Low

It is hot, hot, hot outside. We topped 100 degrees F yesterday, but the weatherman tells us it will be "cooler" today with highs just in the upper 90s ;) Pretty outrageous temperatures for June. Our garden looks rough and there are some corn fields here in the county that we be a total loss if they don't get rain soon.  There are few beasties out and about during the heat of the day.  Most are seeking shade in sheltered spots.  The American toad in the photo had wallowed himself out a nice little hole in the cool gravel of the walkway at work.  He moved on to a cooler locale when the sun hit him.
Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa
The rabbits are still active despite the heat.  I have to shoo this little guy out of the driveway every morning.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of the rabbit at work on Wednesday.  It was stretched out flat on its belly in the relatively cool grass under the shade of a large tree.

On a totally unrelated note, were you aware that deer will eat bananas?  I placed a very ripe banana out in my butterfly garden to see what types of butterflies it might attract.  When I went to check on it a little later in the day it had completely disappeared, peel and all.  Judging by the tracks on the ground, a white-tailed deer had helped itself -- before wandering over to the parsley patch and freshening its breath.


Road Trip, the Final Act

After we left the campground, Treebeard and I headed out along a trail that was about a mile long. We kept our eyes open for anything that might be out and about. Here are a few of the photos we took along the trail...

A young garden spider waiting patiently for a snack to run into its web.
Posted by Picasa
A damselfly teased us by flying close and sitting just long enough for us to focus the camera before flying away.
Posted by Picasa
An empty shell of its former self, a cicada exuvia was perched on a leaf next to the trail.
Posted by Picasa
This swamp darner wasn't feeling up to snuff, I'm afraid.  We found it in the middle of the trail.  I transferred it to an upright stem in a shrub.  I hope it was able to recover and fly away -- swamp darners are one of my favorite dragons.
Posted by Picasa
This beauty teased us by flying just out of range of our cameras the first time we saw it.  Luckily, patience pays off when one is dealing with dragons.  We waited and this golden-winged skimmer finally cooperated for a photo.
Posted by Picasa
My favorite find of the day was this bagworm on sycamore.  These moths are really weird -- the female never leaves her little bag and never grows wings.  But boy can she eat!!

And that's the last of the photos from our road trip.  Thanks for sticking with me!

If you'd like to know more about Pettigrew State Park, please go to www.ncparks.gov


Road Trip, Part Deux

When last I left you, Treebeard and I were making our way from the picnic area down to the lake. And quite a lake it is - over 16,000 acres of natural lake, all rain-fed due to the fact that it sits higher than the surrounding land. I didn't bother taking a picture from the boat ramp out over the lake, but I did snap a quick shot of the nearest bit of shore.
It really is a quite remarkable body of water.  It is shallow throughout and since the water is clear you can see much of the sandy bottom.  You can also see loads of little fish, particularly near the boat ramp.
I'm not sure what any of these little guys are, but there were huge numbers of little fish all around the dock.

After we got tired of watching little fish swim here and there, we headed back to the picnic area.  Along the way we were treated to some very cooperative dragonflies.  The one below is a blue dasher.  He was obelisking.  When some species of dragonflies that live in open areas get too warm they will sit with their abdomens raised in the direction of the sun.  This reduces the amount of their surface area that is exposed to direct sunlight and allows them to cool off a bit.

Posted by Picasa

Apparently the female great blue skimmer pictured above did not feel the need to obelisk.  She was very cooperative and allowed me to get quite close.

Once we got to the picnic area we decided to keep on walking because it was still relatively early.  A little poking around along a fern bed revealed a northern rough green snake...

and a praying mantis, both hunting for an afternoon snack among the foliage.
As we strolled through the campground on our way to the trail, we couldn't help but notice the abundance of Virginia Creeper in bloom.  Virginia Creeper is one of those plants that folks tend to confuse with poison ivy.  It is actually related to grapes -- but you wouldn't want to eat the fruit it produces.

Another plant that was present in abundance was Beauty Berry, aka French Mulberry.  The pink flowers will give way to fruit of the most obnoxious shade of purple.  Most people think it is beautiful but I am definitely not one of those people.  As a matter of fact I usually refer to this shrub as "Ugly Berry."

At the edge of the campground sits a large old sycamore tree with an impressive hollow.  We have found bats roosting in this tree in the past so Treebeard stepped in to take a look.  He didn't see any bats, but he did see some nice big spider eyes staring back at him.  (I have been inside this tree with six other adults.)
We'll continue our adventure in another post. It's time now for Treebeard and me to go out and do our evening yard and garden prowl. Hope you're having a wonderful first day of summer/solstice!


Road Trip

On Friday Treebeard and I hit the road for a day trip. If you do much traveling in eastern NC, you're going to have to go over a lot of bridges. This particular bridge is the second longest in the state and crosses the Chowan River as it enters the Albemarle Sound.  We're on the middle in this photo.
Posted by Picasa

Our destination was a state park a little over an hour to our south where we planned to attend a retirement luncheon for a friend.  If you're going to have a retirement luncheon this is the kind of place to hold it.
Posted by Picasa
 See that sycamore tree with the hole near the base? Somewhere amongst the family photos there is a picture of me with my two sons inside that tree. Maybe one of these days I'll dig it out, scan it and post it for you.

Following the festivities we decided we had better take a walk to better digest the barbeque and ribs we had stuffed ourselves with -- not to mention the perfectly awesome cafe mocha brownies a co-worker had baked. OMG.

Of course, when Treebeard and I take a walk there is always a lot of stopping and poking about so I'm not too sure we accomplished much in the way of burning calories...but we enjoyed ourselves and that's what really matters.

But enough chatter...on to the photos:

Posted by Picasa
Somewhere under all those fennel leaves there is a caterpillar. It will grow up to become one of the emerald moths, but for now it is hoping you won't notice it.

Leaf-cutter bees were having a big time in the jewelweed. They had cut and carted off many a little circle of green leaf.
Posted by Picasa

Something slithered near my feet as we were walking along a canal. I stepped in a little closer to see what it was and surprised this black racer. He turned to dash away and landed himself in thick mud. Racers don't do mudding very well. We watched him to make sure he made it out of the muck. I guess we would have drawn straws to see who went in after him if he got too bogged down ;)
Posted by Picasa

A few yards down, where the canal empties into the lake, we got to see evidence of someone going in the mud after their dog...
Posted by Picasa

Don't you love the perfect butt print they left behind?
Posted by Picasa

We saw plenty of tracks in the mud. Whatever made these tracks fared much better than the person who went in after the dog ;)
Posted by Picasa

Yikes! I'll have to stop here and pick this back up tomorrow. It's nearly bedtime and I must get up early in the morning...oh, stop laughing - I know you checked the time stamp when I said it was nearly bedtime and saw that I posted this at quarter to 10. You have to understand that that's late for us...