Strange Spore Shows Its Innards

September 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

Remember the strange spore pod I ran into six years ago? (Sidenote: SIX years! Wow. Time sure flies.)

Well, now I know what it is and what’s inside:

Spore Pod Fall 2016

I found this pod in the yard, more or less in the same spot where I found the previous one. It looks a little like a chestnut inside.

However, it’s not a nut or a seed pod at all. It’s the nursery (or gall) of a type of wasp. Oak apple gall wasp looks the likeliest, but I don’t properly care to find out for sure. We definitely do have oaks around, as well as many types of wasps, even I can tell that. The solid spot in the middle is where the (one) larva lives – this one looks like it was opened and eaten by a predator.

Brrr! I hate wasps.

Summer 2016 Recap

September 7, 2016 § Leave a comment

Whoo boy, what a summer we had! Mr. E, especially, was incredibly busy with a book project, but mostly it was the weather that we were dealing with. It was sunny and dry. Very sunny, very hot, and very dry. It felt like I was barely outside all summer from staying away from the worst of the heat so often.

Apparently both July and August broke heat records around here, and there was so little rain that we got three (or four? I’ve lost track) town notifications about first curbing and then forbidding outdoor water use. In our seven years in this town I can’t remember that many restrictions. Already in July, the grass was brown and the rest of the plants droopy, and the August proceeded to be equally bad. I’m so glad it’s fall now, both for cooler temps and (hopefully!) more rain.

Mr. E did careful early morning hand-watering (which was still allowed by our town) in his garden, and we were lucky to get decent crops, considering. The very first handful of potato, below, wasn’t big, but we got more afterwards.

Very First Potato Handful 2016

The tomatoes still continue to produce nicely:

September Tomato Vine w Fruit and Flower

Yum! There’s not only green tomatoes ripening, there are more flowers!

The non-homegrown food was good, too, with a lot of homemade dishes from local ingredients both sweet and savory:

Summer Strawberry Cake 2016

This summer we’ve had three to four turkey hens hanging around on and off. Here are two of them perching on the high-bush blueberry enclosures:

Two Turkeys on Blueberry Enclosure 2016

The really funny thing about the turkeys is that this summer they seemed to have had something against the potato patch. We saw more than once a turkey go to the patch and start pecking and pulling a potato plant until she got it all the way out of the ground. And then they’d just leave it there! We’ve never seen or heard of this kind of turkey behavior. We started shooing them off away from the patch after a few potato attacks, and that did the trick. Phew.

In other mysterious but great news, the ant colony that’s been pestering us for the past few years seems finally to have moved elsewhere. WO-HOO!

In not so great news, I suffered a fatal computer crash with all the headache that entails. I’ve been back up and running for just over two months now (let’s hear it for regular data backups!) and have more or less learned the basics of the replacement software I didn’t have before.

We also rearranged our basement in a big way (following the installation of the new lolly post) which affected the kitchen, and built a bit more storage. I’ll post about that later, though.

A Ground Woodpecker Sighted

June 13, 2016 § Leave a comment

The other day, we saw a medium-sized bird sitting on our lawn and industriously pecking away at something on the ground. The shape was very woodpecker-like, and the coloring was a little similar, too, but on the ground…? Out came the bird book.

Flickr Rodney Campbell Northern Flicker

Northern flicker by Rodney Campbell.

(The photo above by Rodney Campbell.)

Lo and behold. It is indeed a kind of woodpecker, a northern flicker to be exact (Colaptes auratus; Fin kultatikka). It’s unquestionably the bird we saw. The distinctive chest marking and the little red neck decoration plus the spots on the sides match.

Apparently they eat ants and other insects. We surely have more than enough ants to go round; feel free to stay, friend!

New Growth

June 2, 2016 § 2 Comments

Mr. E has planted a small garden again. This year we’re getting, among other things, potatos. And not just accidental potatos either; these guys are planned.

Early Potato Sprouts

The photo above was taken three weeks ago or so. Since, they’ve definitely spurted:

Potato Sprouts Growing

The last week of May turned out to be quite hot, but so far everything in the garden is doing fine.

Volunteer Strawberry

May 24, 2016 § Leave a comment

Last year, Mr. E planted strawberries. We didn’t get any – critters got to them before us – but the plants are blossoming again. There’s even one that’s somehow gotten outside the patch:

Volunteer Strawberry

This one was among the first to have flowers; the rest have caught up in the last day or two. Here’s hoping we’ll get to enjoy some this year!

Short April Recap

May 9, 2016 § Leave a comment

End of April was busy. We had a houseguest from home for three weeks…

Finn Visit

…and, correspondingly, a lot of laundry. One day I ran out of drying rack space. Since it was sunny, I hung the two pairs of still-damp wool socks on the curtain rail to finish drying:

Socks Drying Sunny Window

Well, why not! 🙂

Apart from visits to area attractions, there was also out-of-state training, movies and eating out. We also played board and card games. And Mr. E got fantastic non-job-related news, plus a promising job-related lead. Life is good in that sense.

The weather has been surprisingly uneven, though. We had cool, even cold days for April (see the wool socks above!). Then the temps swung in the other direction and it was marvelously warm and sunny. Flowers have been out for weeks already, but the grass took time coming. Here are a few clumps of dandelions on a dry patch of the lawn.

Dandelions Dry Patch Mashup

I’ve never been terribly fond of dandelions, but this spring they were very welcome – that dry patch has been looking so desolate. Plenty of rain showers at the end of April and early May did the trick, though; it’s much greener now. (But it’s colder again, brr. This past weekend we were 10 degrees F / about 6 degrees C below average for early May.)

How was your April?

Takatalvi

April 4, 2016 § Leave a comment

Ha! Just after saying we’re not likely to get snow anymore, the forecast changed into…

April 2016 Snow Forecast

…snow yesterday, snow today and some night frosts ahead. Last week it was so nice and spring-like: budding leaves, first flowers and spring birds. Yesterday, it was still the same – except with a layer of snow. Here’s a view from yesterday morning:

April 2016 takatalvi

In Finland, we call this kind of return of winter takatalvi. Word-for-word it translates back winter or maybe after winter. The concept doesn’t seem to exist in English, so I can’t translate it any better.

Well, after today, it really, truly seems to be it for the winter. Let’s hope. 🙂

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