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Confirmed entries to date: 4

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Moses-in-the-Boat

 
This plant was given to me by Shelly last summer. It has pretty leaves, and it just bloomed! I set off on an internet quest to learn more about it.

Moses in the boat houseplant

For starters, it's a Tradescantia, Tradescantia discolor to be exact. That means it's related to the common garden plant, spiderwort. However, I didn't previously realize it, because I think of Tradescantia as having a rather off-balance growth pattern. I guess that's not typical of all the species.

Moses in the boat houseplant

It has several common names. The Moses-in-the-Boat comes from the white blossoms in the boat-shaped cradle of bracts, looking like baby Moses set adrift in the Nile. It's also called Boatlily. I think that's obvious after the previous explanation. I have no idea why it's called Oyster Plant. Of course there is a very different plant with that common name.

Moses in the boat houseplant

The three bold parts to the blossom should have been a clue to the genus, but I didn't catch on before looking it up.

In fact, this is a common garden plant in tropical areas, including south California and Florida. It's actually considered invasive in Florida. I also learned that the sap is extremely irritating to the skin. I think I'll be very careful when I move or repot it, since I'm so allergic to poison ivy. I read that it's very problematic to dogs where it grows outdoors. It causes rashes and sores that don't heal without trips to the vet.

I'll happily keep mine as a houseplant, and in the north there is no danger of putting it outside. It shouldn't be overwatered... not a danger for any of my houseplants!

I have another Tradescantia houseplant, and you can see it at Spring in the Kitchen. It's never bloomed since that post.

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday's Finds

 
Wonderful walk today. The temperature was in the 50s and the sun was shining. I walked about seven miles. I saw and heard red-wing blackbirds, and heard the first frogs of the year. In one lawn there were three chickens, all reddish with some gray feathers, strutting around hunting for a snack. In the very next lawn were three robins with their red breast and gray backs, strutting around hunting for a snack. It was as if the chickens suddenly shrank and became smooth and neat!

Of course I picked up empty cans. In Michigan, they are worth a dime apiece if they aren't smashed. Even if they are flat or too damaged, the aluminum can be sold for scrap. I came home with a whole garbage bag!

bag of aluminum cans

But, the best find of the day was in the morning. We walked out back and almost immediately noticed a piece of orange plastic caught in some shrubs.

radio weather balloon

We walked closer, and it looked like an orange parachute with a wad of white fabric underneath it.

radio weather balloon

The white stuff wasn't fabric at all, but heavy white latex. I followed the squiggly string attached to it.

radio weather balloon

At the other end we found a small carton.

radio weather balloon

It's a weather balloon! There is a postage-paid mailer inside and a message about how it's not dangerous, but to please return it for research purposes. I've always wanted to be the finder of one of these, and now one came down in my own back yard! I only wish I might have seen it drift in.


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Friday, March 29, 2013

Buttons, We Have Lots and Lots of Buttons

 
I have yet to determine when one gets enough seniority to do much of anything at work, but it definitely can be measured in the number of buttons you might be allowed to push. Meet some buttons.

control panel

The big red one is the first button everyone becomes acquainted with. It's the STOP button. Every station has one. If anyone in the room yells "STOP" anyone who is anywhere near a button hits it. The point is, shut the machine down NOW. Some paper jams shut down automatically, but a lot of problems don't, so we all get really comfortable with the STOP button.

The toggle switch with the arrow is a feeder switch. I'm now trusted to turn the feeder switches on and off when told, and sometimes the detector switches. This station doesn't have one, but they are usually in the slot that is empty on this station.

Here's the main control station.

control panel

You don't see any arrows to those buttons. That's because I haven't been allowed to touch any of those yet. The green button starts the whole machine. The counter (at 0 in this picture) shows how many papers per minute are being stuffed when its running. We generally run between 60-75. Of course, that's only when the machine is actually on.

Here's an ominous button.

control panel

This is the main power switch for the whole machine. It actually turns off all the motors with one pull. I've been instructed to pull it twice. No one pulls that unless the big boss says so!

Today, I got to push a new button! I like it. It's the green one.


control panel

That button turns on the conveyor that takes papers from the stuffer to the stacker, and from the stacker to the strapper. I feel very honored.

My real goal? To be allowed to drive the forklift. I've learned that one other girl is allowed, so there is hope for me. There's a lot of gender bias in general.


See The Stacker
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Speckled Alder

 
We finally had a sunny day today. This clump of trees looked so red, I had to stop and see what they were. It's a speckled alder, Alnus rugosa. I'm familiar with it, but don't recall the catkins looking so red.

Speckled Alder

It grows in clumps, usually in the sun. It doesn't like shade.

Speckled Alder

It gets the name "speckled" from the light-colored lenticels on the bark.

Speckled Alder

It must just be the timing. The male catkins (the long skinny ones) are very red! The small "pine cone" shaped structures higher on the twig are the female flowers.

Speckled Alder

They like to grow in damp areas, but will also grow where it is drier.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Just a Little Dinner

 
Since Om and I don't get our act together to eat together very often, that's my quality event of the day. Nothing fancy- fish, potatoes, green beans, and some low-everything chocolate pudding that tastes amazingly good anyway. We found the recipe after he had his heart attack five years ago.

dinner

See Easter and Birthday
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Raccoon and Rabbit

 
This is one of our most common mammals, the raccoon, Procyon lotor. They are most often seen dead in the road (sorry about that). They are mostly, although not exclusively, nocturnal. Raccoons are extremely smart, and have dextrous front paws. Anyone who has tried to keep them out of garbage cans knows all about that! Their American cousins are animals like coatis, kinkajous, and ringtails. The raccoon is the only one in North America. It's easily recognizable with its black mask and striped tail.

raccoon

This one was exploring the dirt road. I'm not sure what it was finding, but it kept walking back and forth. They are very curious.

raccoon

Raccoons walk on the soles of their feet, like humans and bears. It's easy to see in these two pictures. That means they have good balance to stand on their hind legs. I just learned that the word for walking on the sole of the foot is plantigrade.

raccoon

They can't run very fast, and always look awkward to me. Just an interesting rear view.

raccoon
And the rabbit? Did you find it in yesterday's puzzle? I only saw it because the next thing it did was hop away!

rabbit in weeds

See Ellen and Joan Ride for a baby raccoon
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Hunting for Spring

 
There is a patch of bare grass outside my kitchen window. The rest of "my kingdom" is snow-covered. That bare patch has been highly popular with the locals today.

"Hey, who are you looking at? This is my spot."

deer

This one is a puzzle. You can click it to make it larger. There is a second mammal in this picture. Can you find it?

photo label

"People are so annoying. I'm outa here."

deer

See A Dear Visitor Under the Apple Tree
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

"I'm Handsome and I Know It"

 
One of my favorite birds is the ring-necked pheasant. They aren't native to the US, but were introduced for hunting so many years ago (in the 1800s), that they are completely naturalized.

The males are extremely showy, and the females have a more subtle beauty. Actually, "ring-necked" is applied to a lot of subspecies as well. This species seems to be "Common Pheasant," Phasianus colchicus.

This particular one sure is strutting his stuff!

male ring-necked pheasant

You can see a female at Hen Pheasant.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Beauty in the Most Drab Places

 
March is not my favorite month. In fact, it's on the bottom of the dozen. Even so, on a walk today I saw lace in the most unlikely places. First, a rotting snowbank.

rotting snowbank

But a lacy landscape in close.

lacy edge of melting snow

Even less likely is this clod of frozen mud.

frozen mud clod

But it's the most beautiful!

frozen mud clod

I think I'm ready for some spring-like views.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Philadelphia Flower Show 2013- Kalanchoe

 
This is not your grocery store Kalanchoe. I like this one a whole lot. It's Kalanchoe Rhombopilosa, common name Pies From Heaven. I'd never heard of it. It comes from Madagascar. This one is going on my wish list.

Kalanchoe Rhombopilosa

You can see a picture of the Kalanchoe Rhombopilosa blossom

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