Friday, September 23, 2016

Almost, Maine by John Cariani Presented by the Troy Civic Theatre

Almost, Maine.  The set...the stars are in the sky and the snow is on the ground.  The stage crew were pleased with the opportunity to try out the brick painting skills they learned at the Ohio Community Theatres Convention in Cleveland over the Labor Day Weekend.  There is a door to the left as well as to the right.  The set was perfect for expressing love in its many aspects in a little crossroads inhabited by people who are like people everywhere.

The play consists of eight skits plus a prologue, Interlogue, and Epilogue.  The last three are parts of one complete skit but also sum up the theme of the entire play.

There are plenty of opportunities for gentle laughs, for remembering when we have our own problems with this thing called love.  Sometimes the skits caused me to think, "I know where this one is going."  Sometimes I was right.  Sometimes I was surprised.  Some of the questions explored are "How  do you measure the size of love?"  "How does hope affect us?"  " How can something be sad and glad at the same time? "  "How does a person know whether something hurts?"  "How do we know if we are actually seeing what is in front of us?"

There is a bit of almost magic woven into the community of Almost, Maine.  Sometimes things are a bit different than real life.  But they are only a little different.

My daughter called this "an actors' play" because each cast member has an opportunity to portray several characters with varied personalities.  The play can be performed by as many as nineteen individuals or as few as four.  The Troy Civic Theatre's version has a cast of  nine.

Almost, Maine is a relatively new play, first performed in 2004.  It only played in an Off-Broadway theatre for a month but has steadily increased in popularity.  All types of theatre groups from high school to professional produce it.  For many years it has been one of the top ten plays performed in high schools.

If you choose to see Almost Maine, you will leave the theatre with happiness in your heart and perhaps, a rueful smile.  It takes us so long to learn about love and there is always more to learn.

The cast for Troy's production includes...

Beth Shrake as Glory/ Rhonda and Steve Dietrich as East/ Phil/ Dave

Jennifer Kaufman as Marvalyn/ Hope and Sydney Edington as Ginette/ Waitress

Jenny McClain as Sandrine/ Deena and Doug Lowe as Jimmy/ Lendall/ Man

Braden Stafford as Pete/ Steve

Niccole SueAnn Wallace as Marci

Tina Hayes as Gayle/ Shelly

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Brukner Nature Center Butterfly Transit, September 11, 2016

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) Wingspan 1.75-2.40 inches (4.4-6.1 cm)

Thank you, Jim for this photo.

When I looked at my photos I realized I had not taken one photo of a Silver-spotted Skipper.  I could not believe it.  There were so many Silver-spotted Skippers that I didn't think of taking a photo of one.  It didn't seem important.  There would always be one more.  And then I entirely forgot to get that one photo.

"Oh, well, Phil probably took a photo."

But, no, he didn't.

There were lots of Silver-spotted Skippers the week of  September 3, and also the week of  August 28. But on September 11 there were so many that we were overwhelmed by their numbers.  The final number decided on for these skippers was approximately 127.  There could have been many more.  Every time anyone moved a few steps along the lane, he or she would report, "Another Silver-spotted Skipper, No, there are four, five, six."When a vehicle was driven up or down the lane, the skippers rose in uncountable  numbers from the vegetation.

Though we saw a multitude of Silver-spotted skippers, we saw only one of each of the following.

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) Wingspan 2.25-3.0 inches (5.7-7.6 cm)

The butterfly is named for the two tiny silver markings on the underside of its hind wing, a curve and a dot.

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)  Wingspan 2.0-2.4 inches (5.1-6.1 cm)

The comma has a commar shaped silver line on the underside of its hind wing.

American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) Wingspan 1.75-2.40 inches (4.4-6.1 cm)

This is a butterfly we rarely see.  I think it is the first one we've seen this year.  Ruth circled the distinguishing dot on the underside of the front wing.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)  Wingspan 3.5-4.0 inches 8.9-10.2 cm)

We are beginning to see a few Monarchs in the area.  They are arriving a little later than usual.

Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis) Wingspan 1.4-2.0 inches (3.6-5.1 cm)

This was a new butterfly to me when I started helping on the Butterfly Transit.  Its habits are similar to those of the Pearl Crescent (below) and looks much like it.  However the Pearl Crescent doesn't have the white spot surrounded by white on the hind wing.  Ruth marked the spot witrh an arrow.

Pearl Crescent(Phyciodes tharos) Wingspan 1.25-1.6 inches (3.2-4.1 cm)

This Pearl Crescent has a shadow across its hind wings but it is clear that it doesn't have the white spot encircled by black as the Silvery Checkerspot does in the photo above this one.  The Pearl Crescent is much more common in our area than the Silvery Checkerspot.  We saw 6.

We saw 2 Gray Hairstreaks.  We don't see them often and often we  see only 1.

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) Wingspan 1.0-1.5 inches (2.5-3.8 cm)

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) Wingspan 1.5-2.0 inches (3.8-5.1 cm)

This is a butterfly we often see in the fields and on fallow land as we drive by.

Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta) Wingspan 0.80-1.25 inches (2.0-3.2 cm)

Our final count...
   Silver-spotted skipper...approximately 127
   Pearl Crescent...6
   Summer azure...2
   Silvery checkerspot...1
   Gray hairstreak...2
   Eastern comma...1
   Question mark...1
   Clouded sulphur...3
   Cabbage white...3
   American Painted Lady...1

We three photographers managed to get at least one photo of each one except for the Clouded sulphur.  I am pleased.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Walking the Brukner Nature Center Butterfly Transit with Steve, September 4, 2016

I didn't feel up to walking the Butterfly Transit on Saturday with the Brukner group.  Instead, Steve and I did our own Butterfly Transit walk on Sunday afternoon.  I gave Steve the notepad and pen to record the butterfly species and I concentrated on getting photos.

We looked hard for caterpillars and insect eggs as well as for adult butterflies.  We found the cluster of eggs below on a common milkweed plant near the Interpretative Center front doors.  We were primarily looking for Monarch butterfly eggs but they don't lay their eggs in clusters.  I don't know what these eggs will hatch into.

We found a tiny yellow lump.

It seemed to be a tiny insect.  One of the great advantages of the new cameras, even a relatively simple one like my Olympic Tough is their ability to magnify tiny objects.

An anglewing flew past, not stopping so we could identify it as a Hackberry or a Tawny Emperer.  Probably it was a Hackberry because we usually see them near the front of the Interpretative Center.

We were hoping to find butterfly caterpillars.  We didn't find any but we found other things, a  ladybug...

and  a black and white and tan spider.

We found webworms on a redbud tree.

Near the log house , Steve spotted this  Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar.

Steve used his pen to point out an interesting bug.  I have seen them before but I'll have to go through my insect field guides and see if I can find a similar one.  It has an interesting light and dark pattern around its abdomen.

This butterfly teased us at Catface Pond.  We thought we were seeing one of the dark swallowtails but when I enlarged it on my camera we could see that it didn't have any tails.  It was a Red-spotted Purple.  It had no tails and the blue pattern on its wings with the black line across matched the photo in the butterfly field guide.

We saw the first Pearl Crescent of the day along the pond shore also.  We saw 15 total on the Butterfly transit.

Our first "gold mine" of butterflies was on the land bridge between Catface Pond and the meadow.
We saw at least 20 Silver-spotted Skippers as well as 3 Hummingbird Moths And a Hummingbird.  All of them were feeding on tall thistles.  A ragged Great Spangled Fritillary flitted past also.

Just as we were about to walk on toward the meadow, Steve found this fierce fly.  Look at those big eyes and pointy mouth.  It's a robber fly which flies out, stabs passing flying insects and inserts a chemical which paralyzes the insects and turns their insides to liquid.  He can then find a resting spot so he can sit and sip his meal.  Most robber flies have a hump behind their head and large eyes with a dip between them.

We found Pearl Crescents, Cabbage Whites and 1 Tiger Swallowtail in the meadow.  We also saw quite a few more Silver-spotted Skippers.

On the Hickory Ridge section of the Transit we found this caterpillar which is probably a moth caterpillar since it is hairy.  In the overgrown prairie patch we found more Silver-spotted Skippers and a few Pearl Crescents.

It was along the paved lane as we walked back to the Center that we found what really pleased us...5 Monarchs.  Here are photos of two of them.  Notice the Silver-spotted Skipper in the second photo. We saw huge numbers of them along the lane.  I'm sure we didn't count all of them.

One sat on my wrist.

Then it flew to Steve where it stopped a moment on his pants.  The skipper was gone by the time I
turned to take that photo.

It was along the lane that we found a third caterpillar, fuzzy so it, too, was most likely a moth larva.

At the Butterfly garden, we saw more Pearl Crescents and also a little blue butterfly, either a Eastern Tailed-blue or a Summer Azure.  It flew into a tangle of flowers and leaves before we got a good look at it.

We also saw a lot of honeybees and bumblebees on the flowers.  Steve especially likes bees so I took pictures of them, too.

We tallied our finds when we returned to the van.  We discovered that we had counted at least 56 Silver-spotted Skippers.

We were amazed by the huge numbers of Silver-spotted Skippers but we were happiest to see the Monarchs.  We haven't seen many this summer.

Our "official count" was
   Silver-spotted Skippers...56
   Tiger Swallowtail...1
   Red-spotted Purple...1
   Pearl Crescent...15
   Cabbage White...10
   Blue (Azure or Eastern Tailed-blue...1
   Hackberry Emperor...1
   Friterllary (probably Great Spangled)...1

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Silver-spotted Skippers Everywhere...Brukner Nature Center Butterfly Transit, August 28, 2016

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) Wingspan 1.75-2.40 inches (4.4-6.1 cm)

This is one of the over 83 individual Silver-spotted Skippers that Ruth, Joanie, Molly, and I saw on the walk on August 28. None of us have ever seen so many on one walk.  (The following weekend, September 3,  the group counted at least 110.)  To me, this seems to prove the saying, "No matter what kind of weather a year brings, it is perfect for some creature or plant."

Thanks to Molly, I can now identify a Pipevine Swallowtail.  Identifying the mostly black butterflies has always been a problem for me.  I am still in the process of memorizing the various distinguishing markings.  The blue on the body I will remember.

 Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)  Wingspan 2.75-4.00 inches (7.0-10.2 cm)

The day was hot, 90 degrees Fahrenheit, (32.2222 C)  The day was humid as well. Sweat ran down my face and into my eyes.  But the butterflies made the day perfect. Our count for the day follows:

Clouded sulphur...5
Cabbage white...9
Silver-spotted skipper...83+
Pearl Crescent...19
Pipevine swallowtail...1
Eastern Tailed Blue...11
Summer Azure...6

Eastern Tailed-Blue (Everes comyntas) Wingspan 0.75-1.00 inches (1.9-2.5 cm)

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) Wingspan 1.25-1.60 inches (3.2-4.1 cm)

I just now looked again at the Pearl Crescent information in Butterflies of Indiana, A Field Guide by Jeffrey E. Belth.  He points out that there is a crescent on the underside of the hind wing of Pearl Crescents.  And I see one in this photo.  Something else new I've learned.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Change Number Two--A New Door for the Computer Room

This project was more involved than the vanity project.

We went to Menards for the supplies that we needed...a prehung door and lumber for the door frame.

Our friend, Mark, brought the materials home for us in his truck.

We were already in the process of making changes when I took this photo.  Mark had removed the old woodwork and the door and cut the doorway six inches wider.  

Looking into the computer room.

Looking out from the computer room.

I was standing in the doorway to the computer room when I took this photo.  As you can imagine, the three doorways being so close and yet not exactly opposite one another made it difficult to manuveur with a scooter or power chair.

Back to work.

The width of the readymade door jamb was too narrow so Tom cut a piece fill the space. That piece is leaning against the wall.  At the moment he and Mark are checking to be sure the jamb is in plumb (straight up and down).

Tom holds the jamb in place as Mark hammers.

Most hinges hold a door in such a way that the door extends into the opening as this door does.

The hinges which Mark put on the computer room door enable the door to move out of the doorway.  Tom calls these off-set hinges.  The additional width they give the doorway makes life a lot easier for him.

An ordinary door hinge.

An Offset door hinge.

Completed new entrance to the computer room...thirty-six inches wide and much easier to enter from either direction.  We are happy.