Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Trip to Mackinaw City, Michigan, September 10, 2012

When Tom and I learned that my sister and her husband were moving from Michigan to Florida, we decided to make a quick trip up to see them. The trip to Michigan is less than six hours, the trip to Florida will be about fourteen hours.  We had a good visit on Sunday evening.

On Monday, my sister had to work but her husband was free so he, Tom and I traveled another hundred miles north to Mackinaw City.

Tom and I visited the area in 1964, shortly before our daughter was born. My sister, then a teenager, babysat with our son at Mother and Dad's house. (Mother told me later that my sister paid her ten cents to change Ray's poopy diapers.)

The bridge was completed in 1957, the year Tom graduated from high school.  Dad was still talking about the tremendous feat in 1964. From shoreline to shoreline it is five miles (8.0 km) long, and is still the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere. In 1964, we drove across the bridge but this year we stayed on "our" side.

In 1964, Tom and I camped in the back of our station wagon. We had a little half-tent that enclosed the area of the extended tailgate and sleeping bags laid on the bed of the station wagon. This year we drove back to Houghton Lake and stayed in a motel.

The motel was rather nondescript but the view out the dining area windows in the morning was spectacular.

When we returned home, Tom discovered he had taken a photograph of the bridge much like the one he took this year. He had also taken one of the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's house.

Below is this year's photo. When I downloaded the photo, I noticed that the flag was at half-mast. I expect that was in memory of the Americans killed in the Libyan embassy attack and of 9-11 which was the next day.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sean

Every time I see this photo, I remember the beautiful toast you gave at Ray and Gretchen's wedding last year. We are lucky you are part of our family. I hope you had a good day today.

                                           Lots of love,

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Here Comes the Band...and the Band...and the Band, Band Invitationals

We have gone to Band Invitationals the last two weekends. They are another addition to our social calendar because we have grandchildren, grandchildren who play in the Troy High School Band. This year Eric is our only band member.  And here he is. The clue is...he is one of those playing a  trumpet.  :)  We have trouble finding him, too.

We began going to the Band Invitationals when our granddaughter who graduated from high school five years ago joined the Troy Band Auxiliary. This is a group who do choreographed performances with the band. Here are some of the Auxiliary groups from the Troy Invitational.

Percussion groups are spotlighted.

And individual band members play solos.

The bands range in size from small...

to large.

Each band is judged on multiple factors, including whether they stay within their allotted time span. One band tears down and exits as another band enters and sets up.

The fifteen minute programs are based on themes chosen by the music departments. They range from Little Shop of Horrors to Dreamscapes to The Game of Life. Troy's show title is Vegas.

The bands like the trophies presented at the Invitationals but what they want most is a ONE, a superior rating because that means they are eligible to compete in the OMEA (Ohio Music Education Association) Finals which are usually in the first part of November.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Butterfly Survey, September 16, 2 PM to 3:30 PM

Ruth brought in this beautiful Black Swallowtail caterpillar. (Papilio polyxenes) It is on Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) which is one of the members of the carrot family which it feeds on. When she touched it a bit to irritate it, the caterpillar extended its normally hidden  osmeterium which is a protrudable forked scent gland which emits a foul odor. I had trouble getting a photo with my little camera and eventually the caterpillar was so irritated by Ruth that it emitted the foul odor. Ruth says the smell reminds her a bit of citrus.

We walked the survey route in the afternoon because mornings have been below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Butterflies are more likely to be flying if the temperatures are above 70. We debated about continuing the survey into October which is the official last month and decided we would wait and see what kind of weather October brings. We saw more Pearl Crescents, Cabbage Whites, and Sulphurs than any others. We did see one Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma). Yvonne got a good look at the comma-like silver spot on its ventral side (below). We saw a skipper which we couldn't identify even using the field guide. 

Skippers get their name from their characteristic rapid darting flight. They are generally distinguished from butterflies by their larger bodies in comparison to their wings, their relatively small angular wings and antennae ending in a thin extension. Butterfly antennae have more of a club-like end. Both Yvonne and I took photos. I hope Yvonne's were better than mine.


I did get a decent photo of an Eastern Tailed-Blue (Everes comyntas).

We noticed lots of small moths flying about. One stopped long enough on Ruth's arm for me to get this photo.

 If you click on the photo, it will enlarge so you can get a better view of its antennae. The "fuzzy " antennae are a distinguishing characteristic of many moths. I hesitate to say "always" because there is very little that is "always" or "never" in the natural world.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Butterfly Survey, September 8, 2012

Saturday was cool, less than 70 degrees Farenheit, when we started off on our regular route about 11 AM. Butterflies like temperatures a bit warmer. I had seen a couple Cabbage Whites (Pieris rapae) as Tom drove our van up Brukner's lane so I was hopeful that we would see at least a few since the day was warming up. But Tom took more photos of insects other than butterflies as we walked the route.

If you click on the photos, you will see them in a larger format.

A Wheel Bug,(Arilus cristatus), named for the wheel-like protusion on its back. It is a member of the order, Hemiptera, commonly called "True Bugs". It belongs to the family, Reduviidae, or Assassin bugs and Ambush bugs. They kill and eat other insects.

One of the Katydids, (family Tettigoniidae) also called longhorned grasshoppers. One genus makes a "katydid, katydidn't" call.

I'm guessing this is a variety of True bug, but it might belong to a different order entirely. Do you have a guess? Or do you know?

Here's a Cabbage White. And below is an Orange Sulphur. (Colias eurytheme). This is often called the Alfalfa Butterfly because it is common in alfalfa fields.   Tom took the Dorsal (above) view and the Ventral (below) view.  Afterward, Ruth released it.

As you can see in the above photos  butterflies look different from above with their wings spread, and from the side or bottom when their wings are closed. Thanks to Yvonne, I learned about a butterfly I didn't know about which has to be identified from the side or bottom. Here is the Pearl Crescent. (Phyciodes tharos)  which I did know.

She told us there is a similar butterfly called the Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis) which is  very similar and most easily identified by looking at the ventral.  She said she had been seeing them in her garden. We didn't find any. Maybe next week.

We did see Silverspotted Skippers. (Epargyreus clarus).

We got a nice long look at a Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) with its wings closed so it was easy to identify. Unfortunately, it flew before Tom was in position to get a unobstructed photo.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

August 5, Painting with Sarah

We painted from this shelterhouse. The temperature was close to 90 degrees but there was a pleasant light breeze and we were in the shade. The day was overcast. There were a few sprinkles of rain as I was driving home about 4:30 PM. The shelterhouse is in the middle of a large mowed field.

The last time I was at Stillwater Prairie was during the Hug the Earth Festival. There were about a thousand elementary children here, the Banana Slug String Band and lots of action. Today was peaceful and still except for the fall insects calling, a few birds singing, and the distant sound of a riding mower. I painted my version of this scene across the field.

Here are three photos of the painting in process. I still want to play around with the right side and lighten the tree behind the Red Cedar, the little oval evergreen about in the center. Probably will do a few other odds and ends as well.

This is Sarah's painting as she progressed. I noticed this morning that I didn't have the entire painting in the picture when I took the third photo. I'm sorry because all of the painting is important.

We both painted on 300 weight cold-pressed Arches. Both paintings are 10 inches by 8 inches.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Working on a New Grandchildren Mat

Those of you who have visited us know that I have these photos of our grandchildren hanging in the hall.

The top one displays photos from 2004. The bottom one displays photos from 2007 and 2008.

When Ray and Gretchen married last June two more grandchildren became part of our family. In the past, the mat, MY GRANDKIDS contained the eleven openings so each child had one. This year I am filling a mat, GRANDCHILDREN, since there are 13 openings, one for each grandchild. 

It is still a work in process. I will go back through the wedding photographer's pictures to find good ones of Ray's boys.  I don't have newer photos of the three older ones.  I do have 2012 photos of Stephen but I know he will want a picture of himself in his tuxedo since that is what his brothers will be wearing. Colin's photo is from the wedding, too.  

Graylyn was beautiful as her mother's  maid of honor, but,  I like the photo I took of Graylyn when she, Ray, and Gretchen stopped here last September.  I usually like everyday photos the best.  She was on her way to New York City for an internship with NBC.

It usually takes me about a week to resize photos and choose exactly the pose I want of each grandchild. I have eight chosen though I will redo two of them because they are not exactly what I want. Then I will go back through the wedding photos. Since Treven was sick and couldn't visit this summer, I will make do with a photo from last year.

I am eager to get back to painting but, first, I want to finish this mat and do a little more sorting and dumping in the basement. I am happy that Sarah and I are painting en plein air at Stillwater Prairie Reserve tomorrow. I will post the result. Sarah and I haven't painted together for over a year. She finally has a job with a schedule that she can rely on to remain the same week after week.

I hope all of you have a wonderful day.

P.S. For those of you who might be interested in acquiring specialty mats, I bought mine from friends who you can reach by going to their website.