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Monday, August 31, 2015

Frost's Bolete, Confirmed

Mushrooms are funny things. The pretty part you see above the ground and take pictures of is just the fruiting body. The real heart of the organism is underground in the mycelium. It just bides its time until conditions are right and then it pops those interesting and colorful shapes through the ground, produces spores to reproduce, and then melts into a puddle of slime.

I don't recall ever seeing these mushrooms before. Certainly I've never taken their picture or tried to identify them. This year, they are everywhere in the forest. You may recall I tentatively identified them as Frost's Bolete.

Yesterday, I found dozens more of them in all stages of fruiting from little buds poking through the leaves to dark brown-red slimy messes of decay. But I did remember to look at the underside. Definitely non-gilled, and porous. Convex (bulging). Turning yellow at the edges.

Frost's Bolete

Then I did another test the field guide suggested. Break the surface and the flesh should turn blue almost immediately. Yup.

Frost's Bolete

Says it is common in oak woods. That was certainly true this year. Lots of oaks where we did the archaeology test holes, and at Cadillac Pathway where I saw them yesterday.

I think I'll remember this one. Wonder if I'll see another "bloom" of them in my lifetime.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Hikes

Sorry for missing a couple of days. I got lots of extra work hours Thursday and Friday night, and was just zonked out afterwards. Today I recovered and went exploring several trails in the Cadillac area. You'll be seeing more of my discoveries as the week goes on, I think. Today... just a sense of the trails I sampled.

At Mitchell State Park, there is a nature loop that is almost all through wetlands. There's a spur trail with observation platform that extends into the open center (filling with emergent plants). This was a different ecosystem than any of the other trails and had lots of diversity of plant life.

Mitchell State Park nature trail

Next, I checked out two paved trails very near downtown Cadillac. The Keith McKellop Walkway is paved, and does not even allow bicycles. So walkers can stroll for a little more than a mile without needing to watch out for faster users. It's right beside Lake Cadillac. I just liked the gulls coming in for a landing. The day was really lovely. Just a little hazy, but it sort of gave the picture texture.

gulls landing

Heading north from that is another paved trail called the Clam River Greenway. This trail was a community effort to reclaim some nasty real estate where the river had become little more than a drainage ditch. It's not a large river, and not hugely attractive, but walking beside water from downtown out to the area sports complex was pleasant.

Clam River

After these hikes I was seriously hungry, so I treated myself to a burger. Yum. Next I headed east from town to hike part of the Cadillac Pathway trail system. This is for hiking, cycling, and skiing in the winter. All natural surfaces. I hiked almost five miles of it. There's lots more. The ecoystem was our common dry, upland mixed hardwoods. Very pleasant, but mostly bracken, blueberry, wintergreen and partridge berry on the ground.

Cadillac Pathway

The day was winding down, but I really wanted to sample the MacKenzie Pathway, west of town. This is also a series of loops for hiking, cycling and skiing. This one is in the Manistee National Forest, while the previous one is part of the Pere Marquette State Forest. Interestingly enough this area was quite a bit wetter and richer than the Cadillac Pathway. This could be a good place to find wildflowers in the spring. I had just enough light left to do a quick mile in and then back out.

MacKenzie Pathway

Total miles hiked for the day, about eleven. Not bad at all. All these trails are in Wexford County.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Frost's Bolete

Let me continue to emphasize that I am NOT a mushroom expert. However, I think with the netted stalk and shiny dark red top, this is Frost's Bolete.

Frost's Bolete

Did I look at the underside to see if it has pores instead of gills? No. You'd think I would learn sometime.

But it is attractive. Edibility not recommended.

But I don't recall ever seeing this kind before, so something new is always good!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Where Are the Treats?!

Oh! Hello. It's a human we don't know. That's ok, maybe it has treats.


How about treats for my brother?


Treats for my cute little sister?


What do you mean, you didn't bring any?


I'm serious, strange human, WHERE ARE THE TREATS?


See A Goat of Every Color
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

All that's Missing...

I drive by this wetland really often. It's right on the main road. But there is one thing missing.


It looks to me like perfect habitat for a... moose. But we don't have any here, sad to say.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

White Leafhopper

Here's a cute little guy that showed up on my porch. Keep in mind the picture is much larger than the real insect is. The leafhopper was probably 3/8 inch long total. Actually larger than a lot of them I see. But I'd never seen a white one. I mostly see green or brownish ones.


Leafhoppers are true bugs, Hemiptera, in the family Cicadellidae. They used to have their own order Homoptera, but that order has been split up and placed within others. Some species can be real pests of food crops when present in large numbers. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts and will suck the sap from leaves.

They jump so fast you could almost believe they can disappear. You'll be looking at one, and then it will be gone without seeing it go!

I found information about two white ones, but both of those have translucent wings, which this does not. One lives out west and is called the White Apple Leafhopper. It does a lot of damage. One that is found in the east is the Grape Leafhopper, but it too has translucent wings. There are over 20,000 species of leafhoppers that have been described... let alone ones that might not have been named yet.

I will just continue to think it's cute until forced to consider it as bad.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Narrowleaf Meadowsweet

Some of you know that one of my favorite things is when I discover a plant that is new to me. Here's one, just a couple of miles from home. I passed it on my most common roadwalk. Took a look at it and said "meadowsweet."

narrowleaf meadowsweet

Then I went over and looked carefully at it, and those narrow leaves threw me for a loop. I said, "huh... goldenrod leaves, not meadowsweet." Of course it's growing right in the middle of a patch of goldenrod. There is a white goldenrod (called silverrod), but this isn't it.

narrowleaf meadowsweet

Then I looked closely at the flowers. Five petals. Lots of stamens. That says Rosaceae, rose family. Huh.

narrowleaf meadowsweet

Interesting seed pods, too.

narrowleaf meadowsweet

So I came home and looked up meadowsweet, Spiraea latifolia. Just as I thought, it has wider leaves. Like this... found at Nordhouse Dunes last summer.


Looked at a bunch of other things with white spikes, easily eliminating the ones I know for sure. Still stuck on those flowers that screamed "Rosaceae." Kept looking... Aha! Narrowleaf meadowsweet. Spiraea alba.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Beautiful but Sad

Took an evening road walk. Anyone who drives has a good idea of the number of bugs that meet their maker on windshields and bumpers. However, it's sad when those are beautiful dragonflies.

The first one I found was still alive (probably too injured to recover) but every time I tried to pick it up it curled so I laid it back on the ground to take the picture. That certainly demonstrates how camouflaged it is, despite the bright blue and green colors. I'm pretty sure this one is a common green darner. Those big ones that look like helicopters as they hover over ponds.


Less than a mile later I found a different one. This one was dead, so I can provide a slightly better background for viewing. I think this might be a shadow darner. I have a basic identification book, but I don't know enough yet to really look for details other than the basic pattern. I should have taken pictures of the abdomen, eyes, etc. But this one was only a little smaller than the first one.


They are such amazing and lovely insects. They don't bite or sting (unless of course, you are a smaller insect they can eat!), so even a live one won't hurt you.

See Yellow Legged Meadowhawk
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Friday, August 21, 2015

An Answer and More Pictures

Remember the day I accidentally caught them removing a turbine cover at the pumped storage project? (See Open Wide and Say Ah

Last week there was an article in the paper about what is being done. Over the course of six years all six turbines are being rebuilt. The cost of this will be $800 million. The plant will then be the second largest in the U.S. and the fourth largest in the world. The manager is quoted as saying, "It was originally designed in the time of slide rules." Computer power will result in more efficient power generation.

Pumped storage project

When I drove by this week, there were large parts displayed near the turbine covers. The picture above is one of the new turbines. See the curved and angled blades on the side? Yes, the paper says they were built by Toshiba.

Pumped storage project

The news article explained that the new turbines have nine blades instead of six, and the primary block is one piece instead of two as the old ones were. They were brought to the site on barges. Much of the installation process and many small parts are custom made and hand fitted. It takes ten months to rebuild each turbine.

Whereas the plant used to be able to generate 7 megawatts of power for every 10 expended to pump water to the reservoir, after the rebuild they will get 7.7. Of course, these generation plants aren't perpetual motion machines. You can't get more out than you put in, but narrowing the gap means there is more profit margin. The point is to generate electricity when it is needed, during the day.

Another amazing fact is that these kinds of facilities are extremely fast to come on line. If there is a request for more electricity, they can be providing it to the grid in three minutes! Additionally, the plant can do what is called a "black start." This means it doesn't need power from the grid to start up (I'm guessing because if there's water in the reservoir it only takes gravity to get things going- and they must be able to open a gate manually).

The new turbines have an estimated 30-year lifespan- better than wind turbines at 20 years.

If you'd rather just look at pretty pictures of the lake, here's an interesting one of how the sand bars have shifted near the site recently.

Pumped storage project

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Evening Hike

A friend of mine, Cathy, leads a hike at the State Park every week in the summer. I haven't made one yet! Tonight I decided to go for it. Had to go in my work clothes and eat dinner in the car, but I made it on time.

There was actually a good sized group. Here are just four of the ladies who came. Cathy is on the right.


And, did I remember to take a picture while we were in the woods on nice narrow trail? Nope. I just took one on the wide road/trail that leads to the lighthouse (we were going the other way)


But I did catch a picture of Lake Michigan. Talk about changing weather. We've dropped from 90+ to the 60s, with a wind that is really pushing in those waves.

Lake Michigan

A nice little walk, and the group I went with did a good pace (although we walked). Cathy and another lady ran almost 5 miles, while we walked 3. Another group had a baby and stroller, and did a more leisurely pace on paved trail. Each week they begin with a short devotional, and then they walk.

See Thanksgiving 2012 for Cathy again.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Door to (of) the Past

I was out doing cases this afternoon and one of them was a large Craftsman bungalow like the one I grew up in.

So I walked up and rang the bell. No one was home, which is fine. I can still take my pictures. While I was waiting I realized that the door had the same molding as the house I grew up in.

Craftsman door molding

These pictures are taken through a glass storm door so they have some reflections, but you can see the beautiful design. And I know that design well. My dad, as I've mentioned, did things THE RIGHT WAY. So when he decided to refinish the door he stripped and cleaned every single one of those little crevices by hand before re-sealing the wood.

Craftsman door molding

It was a nice memory. There are so many details of the house I grew up in that I wish I had pictures of. But no one thinks of those kinds of things when they are a kid. For instance, I don't think there is even a photo of my bedroom that shows what the room really looked like.

A lot of quality in a little bit of door molding.

And now... I know it's early, but for some reason I couldn't sleep last night, so now I am fighting to stay awake. I'm giving up the battle very shortly. My reports are done and sleep sounds really good.

See Trail Work Day
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