Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Second Look--May 25, 2016

or A Check in before I go away for a few days.

 It's official. I heard that we've had one of rainiest seasons on record, but so far today--no rain. Yea! Next it's out to cut grass before the darkening skies decide to open up. Actually, I'll let Ward start so I can finish this post before I leave. I will be visiting my mother for a few days and may not post again until next week. It just depends on internet availability.

A couple of updates:

--The baby birds are out of the nest. As far as I can tell, all five of them made it.

--I asked What's That Bug to help me identify the white slug I saw last week. Basically, they said it is not a ghost slub. Here is their response:

We cannot say for certain that this is or is not a white variation or an albino individual of a species that was already locally established in your area, but we are pretty certain it is NOT the Ghost Slug pictured on Wikipedia and the National Museum Wales site.  According to the National Museum Wales:  "The bizarre Ghost Slug made headlines in 2008 when described as a new species from a Cardiff garden. When the first specimens were found, very little was known about this animal."  The site continues that to:  "ensure that your slug is a true Ghost Slug (Selenochlamys ysbryda). This can be done by looking at the mantle and the eyes. The mantle ... looks like a layer of skin through which the breathing hole is often visible.  This Ghost Slug has a tiny, disc-shaped mantle at the rear end of its body. It has no eye spots on its tentacles ... .  Other white or pale slug species have a large, cloak-like mantle over their “shoulders” near the front of their body. They have black eye spots at the tips of two of their tentacles."  Your individual has both the mantle and the eyespots which indicates it is NOT a Ghost Slug.   

Since I saw the first slug, I have seen more so the rain must be bringing them out. I'm guessing that I have a white variation of a locally established slug.

Here are a few things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Three new colors of bearded iris bloomed this week.








Blue jays


Purple sage


Red-winged black birds are common in the area, but are new to our yard. Recently, we saw our first one but it had a white patch on its wing instead of a red one. We finally saw one exposing the classic red patch.



Monday, May 23, 2016

Kaleidoscopes

or How to Have Fun on a Rainy Day

Another weekend of heavy rain, so Ward and I decided that since we couldn't get to our outside chores, we shouldn't do the inside ones either. (Like our logic?) So off we went to see an exhibit of kaleidoscopes. The exhibit was celebrating the 200th anniversary of when Sir David Brewster first displayed one.

The exhibit was held in an old mansion and featured major kaleidoscope artists from around the world. The pieces were beautiful from both the inside and on the outside. As well as the kaleidoscopes themselves, we saw paintings and quilts with kaleidoscope themes. Below are some pictures of what we saw. I tried to take photos of what we saw through the eyepieces with limited success, but you'll see a few of those anyway.


The design in each square of this quilt was made by individual pieces that were pieced with amazing precision.


These were made from gourds.



This was a kaleidoscope wagon with a big kaleidoscope in the middle and other ones around.


Ward checking out the view in the wagon. 


The majority of the works were for sale and ranged in price from $95 to $28,000. But you could still pickup most of them and look inside.





Look closely to see what this picture is made up of.














There was only a light rain, so we also walked around the grounds of the mansion.


A sculpture dedicated to the arts.


And how lucky are we that this whole afternoon was free.



Sunday, May 22, 2016

Thankful Sunday--May 22, 2016


I am thankful for nature's miracles.

Friday was sunny all day for the first time in a long time. So after work, I scurried outside to soak up the sun and do a little yard work. While pulling weeds, I pulled up a new oak tree with an acorn still attached. I am always amazed that plants can come from such small seeds and am delighted when I find the remnants of one. So for the warm sun and recently sprouted oak I found, I am thankful.

(Can't let this post go by without the saying, "Mighty oaks from the little acorns grow")

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Second Look--May 18, 2016

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record. We've had more rain. If you look closely, you may notice rain drops on some of the pictures. About half of them were taken when there was a break in the rain yesterday--meaning I took them when it was only sprinkling instead of pouring. While I didn't get out as much as I wanted last week, the plants were very happy. The emerald green everywhere is proof of that.

We put up another bird feeder near our back doors and we're all enjoying the view--especially the cats. While various birds have come by, it is visited mostly by house finches and goldfinches. And among all of the birds, we have seen more than one fight going on over feeder rights. They look so sweet, but these birds are no pushovers.

Here are some things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Cranesbill


If you look carefully, you can see a sunflower seed in the house finch's mouth.


Even though it was raining, the bumble bees were visiting the rhododendron. 


I haven't seen a lot of rabbits this spring. I don't know if that is by chance or that the foxes had a good winter and there are plenty of them around to prey on the rabbits.


Goldfinch


The first purple sage is blooming.


I'm not sure what this is except some kind of snail or slug. I was struck by its white color because I usually associate brown and grey with these creatures. I have no idea if this true, but for a little while I imagined that I was seeing an albino creepy-crawly. 



Buttercups


The squirrels are enjoying the fallout from the new feeder.


The bearded iris have joined the Japanese iris that started blooming last week.


The baby bluebirds have gotten so big that they all don't fit in the picture. Compare this week's picture to last week's. Both were taken from the same distance above the nest.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Kinetic Sculpture Race

or How to Have a Really Fun Day

Last weekend, Ward and I went to the Kinetic Sculpture Race in Baltimore. It's an annual race that's been on our list of things to do for several years and we finally made it happen. It lived up to it's reputation of a really fun thing and I think this will become an annual thing for us.

For those of you who aren't familiar with a kinetic sculpture race (like I wasn't until a few years ago), it's a race using human powered works of art. The race we saw was 14 miles long and went up and down steep hills, into the Chesapeake Bay, and through sand pits and mud pits. There were a variety of participants from middle school students to work groups to civic groups.

Below are pictures from our really fun day.


We gathered with the racers and other crowd at the AmericanVisionary Arts Museum which sponsored the race. The contestants were putting finishing touches on their vehicles and there was an air of excitement and fun in the crowd. You see two of the contestants in this picture (FiFi, the Poodlecorn Unicorn and Monsters of a Middle School Brain.)


Each entry had to go through a safety check to show that their brakes worked by stopping on a "dime". This Monsters, Inc. entry passed.


The Chicken is the mascot of the race and Chickens are everywhere along the race helping.


This entry, Leg Power, was the first to break down and they were not able to finish the race. However, they made it further than the one entry that didn't make it out of the starting gate because of bad brakes.


Crowd participation was encouraged with costumes and ride-alongs like this outhouse and ghost buster. The outhouse had a dog in the bottom who seemed to be enjoying itself.


We watched the first part of the race on a hill with a great view of Baltimore's Inner Harbor. If you look carefully, you will see a couple of the racers in the far lane of the street.


Next we joined the race at the waterfront where the sculptures had to enter the water down a boat ramp and make their way around the dock and up the ramp on the other side. This sculpture, Tick Tock the Croc, was so long it had to swing much wider to make the turn than the other entries.


This entry, Flying Phoenix, was in the ACE class which meant that he had to get out of the water by himself.


However, others (Stumti the Tremendous Stork) were pulled out with the help of their pit crew.


The OMHS Scorpion, separated into two pieces and dumped the pilots into the water. However, they were still able to make it out and rejoin their entry together on dry land to continue the race.


This is the mud pit crew waiting for the first contestant. The pit was particularly difficult because there was a speed bump getting in and getting out of it.


It didn't matter if you had a large vehicle ( Golden Eyedra)...


or a small vehicle (Hydra), they all had a difficult time. This one fell over and the pilot took a dive into the mud.

After the mud pit, we headed back home after a full day of fun and amazement. We missed the awards ceremony, so we didn't know who won until a couple of days later.
Below are some of the winners.

Grand Mediocre ChampionThe Bee's Knees, 

Engineering: Birdie, The Sculpture Vulture (Birdie was made mostly from milk jugs.)


Art: King Bal-Tut-More


Best Bribes:  Wheel of Misfortune


Want to know more:

I've just barely scraped the surface of this event. You can go to the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture website to learn more.