Friday, July 31, 2015

Morning boat ride on the Sea Walker

My co-worker, Corey, kindly took us on a boat ride from the South Freeport Harbor. We left the dock at around 6:30 am and returned at 8:20 am. The morning was sunny, cool, and calm. The water was glassy smooth, and just perfect for a jaunt around the harbor and the nearby bay.
Captain Corey and the Sea Walker. We had such a great time, and were happy that the water was so calm as we haven't been on a motorboat in 17 years. We are not what are known as seafaring people;-)
Our journey began as the sun was rising over the islands. The morning light cast warm tones over the harbor as we journeyed toward the bay.
I love wood trim on boats. It gives them a timeless look. The bottom two photos are of a Canadian designed fishing boat. In Canada, taxes are levied for the square footage of the amount of your boat that comes in contact with the water. So, boats have been designed to maximize space and to minimize contact with the water! We saw lots of beautiful scenery on our trip, including many interesting boats in a couple of different harbors.
And, no harbor is complete without the Marine Patrol keeping an eye on things. These guys have a super fast boat. Check out the dual 225 hp engines, which can propel the boat at upwards of 75 mph! Also, in Freeport, we saw a castle! Well, only the tower is left of the Casco Castle, which was built as a tourist attraction/hotel in 1903. It now stands on private property.
Gorgeous rocky islands and birds galore!
There were lots of islands dotting the seascape, as well as bird life. We saw Common Eider ducks (which you can see in these photos.) This is a flock of females. "The Common Eider is the second most common nesting bird on the islands of Maine (after the Herring Gull)." "The Common Eider is our largest duck, about 25 inches long, and is a diving duck living largely on blue mussels swallowed whole. It also eats other small shellfish, crabs, shrimp, urchins, and some fish." (Kidwell, Al. Maine Geographic Coastal Birds: A Guide to Birds of Maine’s Beautiful Coastline. Freeport, ME: DeLorme Mapping Company, 1983. Print.) 

Harbor Seals

Small, exposed rocks are perfect for a morning snooze. We were boating at low tide and the seals were taking full advantage of their rock. The island was no longer visible on the incoming tide. 
Snoozing space is at a premium.
There was lots of chatter as the seals vied for their tanning beds.
There were lots of seals swimming all around the rock
and the harbor. They were popping up all over the place!
Harbor Seals are plentiful along the Maine coast, and they breed here from May through June. They return to Canadian waters in the fall. You can find them basking in the sun, on rocky outcroppings of islands in protected bays, like Maquoit Bay, in harbors, like that of South Freeport, and even on sandy beaches. I think that one of my favorite characteristics of the harbor seal is their variability in coloration. They sure are pretty beasties!

We can't thank Corey enough for treating us to the boat ride. It was wonderful, and we are hoping to do it again soon! We had such a pleasurable morning, and I must say that this is the highlight of our summer.

Please note that we didn't get too close to the rock. I used my 70-200 mm lens to shoot the photos. The seals went about their business even with us nearby.

A Grand Day Out on the Sea Walker



This is a short video of some clips from our trip. Fun!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Maiden Voyage of the "EV Colossal"



We took the "EV Colossal" (Ha!) out for its maiden voyage this afternoon. First, Drew and I went out together. Then, Neighbor Carla joined me for a short cruise across the pond and back. We actually came upon a flock of 8 mallard chicks who were just paddling along nearby. They did not seem to be bothered by us at all.

The motor is battery powered, and is quiet as can be. It has good speed at full throttle, and cruises along nicely at 1st speed. We went forward and backward with ease. And, I docked the boat as smoothly as if I had been a pro. Unfortunately, we don't have any video evidence of my steering prowess;-) Fun, fun, fun!

By the way, we are trying to come up with a good name for the boat. If you think of one, shoot us an e-mail;-)

Wicked Bad Thunderstorm cycle



We are in an afternoon thunderstorm cycle at the moment. Yesterday, I was hoping to go boating after returning home from summer school, but alas, my favorite custodian, Moe, was right. We got one heck of a thunderstorm, which hit around 2:30 pm, and lasted until 3:30 pm. We had hail, wind, and driving rain.

The storm took out many of my gorgeous gladioli flower stems, of which three are now residing in a vase. A big maple tree snapped off and downed Neighbor Ernie's mailbox, and we spent some time helping him to remove the tree and set the box up to be somewhat usable until Ernie does his magic on it.

We also lost power until 6 pm. It is ironic that we haven't had refrigeration for 15 days (due to unfortunate circumstances), and just got the fridge repaired yesterday. We got it running for about 3 hours before losing power. Geez... But, all is well now and we actually have food in the darned thing. Life is back to "normal" whatever "normal" is;-)

3:45 pm Refrigerator Update: Grrrr....the fridge side is not cooling down properly and we just went grocery shopping...Grrrr......Back to square one with a call to the repair service. Darn. We should have known better than to have bought food to be refrigerated...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Boat is registered and is ready to launch!

Boat is registered and is ready to be put into the water. Hopefully, this will occur on Thursday sometime. Geez...it is taking forever...

Quick Lift Boat Dolly in action



One of the last crucial steps in getting our boat into the water was the arrival of the Quick Lift Boat Dolly from smallwatersports.com.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Quick Lift Boat Dolly

Drew assembled the dolly very easily, and it works great!
We are slowly getting set to launch the boat. We received the Quick Lift Boat Dolly today, which Drew assembled, and did a trial run with in the front yard.
The dolly fits into the groove along the middle of the boat bottom.
Drew made handles for each end of the boat.
Thanks to Neighbor Ernie for the idea!

Wet and cool temps lead to fresh scents

Lately, our outdoor temps have been cool...in the 60's during the day and 50's during the night. It drizzled most of yesterday, and I took a short walk down our much neglected, woodsy path into the back woods. I was overwhelmed with the heady scent of pine, specifically that of Eastern hemlock. The woods directly behind our house are filled with beech, maple, and hemlock trees. The hemlocks prefer moist, cool sites, and we have a lot of drainage from the road, so their roots are damp all the time. Then, as I headed back to the house, I passed our big, overgrown raspberry patch. It has lots of berries and also yielded a sweet berry scent as I passed by, and I realized that it is now time to pick some big, juicy red berries. Ahhh...Maine...I love this place!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The many moods of a Fritillary Butterfly

I only have a couple of Fritillary butterflies flitting about the gardens, whereas 15 years ago I felt as if I was in a scene of Fantasia, every day, as there were butterflies and bees galore. (Click on any photo for a larger, more detailed view.)
I took the opportunity to photograph one of the Fritillaries as it was feeding on the Echinacea (which they seem to be greatly attracted to.)
Check out the proboscis (drinking straw-like structure.)
"The proboscis is made up of 2 parts (each is a galea) that zip together after the adult emerges from the pupa. You may have seen this on the monarch. When it emerges, the proboscis consists of 2 strands, but it soon begins to coil and uncoil these and the two parts fuse into 1. Each galea has a groove, that when the 2 are fused, the groove forms the food canal (the central hole in your photo). Inside each galea there is a trachea (the smaller tube in your photo) as well as a nerve and muscles.

Butterflies and moths can only feed on liquids or liquids containing particles small enough to fit through the food canal. Zebra Heliconians are unusual in that they can feed on pollen by gathering a ball of pollen on the tip the proboscis and reguritating digestive juices that break down the pollen enough to ingest it. Other butterflies may also spit and slurp such as the Gulf Fritillary feeding on the dead deer. Butterflies will often squirt water from the rear end onto the sand, mud, or bird droppings, and sip up the minerals. Apparently, the digestive tract removes the minerals while water etc goes through the rear." 
(Marc Minno) And, see Butterfly Fun Facts and Shady Oak Butterfly Farm for lots of cool butterflies and information!



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Our New Boat

Our Uncle Buck's 8' Pond Prowler arrived today. Drew assembled the seats and mounted them into the boat. Then, Neighbor Ernie came over and gave us some advice as he has had a 10' Pond Prowler for many years. He and Drew discussed the Minn Kota trolling motor and the gel cell battery. It is nice to get advice from someone who is an experienced boater and a good jury rigger.

This will be such a different boating experience. No longer will I be able to get into the tight spaces I used to wedge my kayak into, but then again, I won't have to figure out how to get myself out of these situations, either;-) We'll see what I can do with this boat. Time will tell... the maiden voyage will be on Sunday!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

More Bees, if you please...


Upper Left: Bumblebee.    Upper Right: Honeybee with pollen cone.   
Lower Left: Honeybee in flight.
We need more bees. Plain and simple... There are hardly any bees buzzing around anymore, and I feel lucky to see one or two per day. This is so depressing considering that the most abundant flying insect of late is the Japanese beetle and the mosquito.

Robin Chicks to fledglings



A pair of robins built a nest in our magnolia tree during springtime. We left them alone until the week before fledging. I videotaped them on June 29th, and again on July 4th. In the video, you can see both the female (lighter colored breast) and the male (darker colored breast) feeding the chicks. After feeding the chicks, the parents poke around at the chicks' rear ends so that they poop. Then, the adults either eat the fecal sac, or take it away to drop it elsewhere. The fecal sac does contain nutrients. Yuck!

On the 4th of July, all the chicks had fledged the nest except for he who shall be called "Junior." Junior took his time. Mama flew in with one last grub for Junior to munch on, and then it was time for him to test his wings. Unfortunately, the camera's battery ran down before the fledging occurred. But, surely you can use your imagination to see a young robin fly from the nest. Bon voyage fledglings...

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Daylilies of my gardens-Catalog of varieties

SET # 1 - Up Left: South facing woods
Up Center and Upper Right: East end of lily line
Lower Left: Sunny Garden left of center; Lower Right: 2nd Stump
I am cataloging the daylilies as I will need to know where each of the different types of daylilies are so that we can dig them up in springtime for transplanting, if necessary.
SET # 2 - Up Left: Sunny Garden right of center; Up Center: Middle of lily line;
Up Right: Main Stump Garden north of peony
Lower Left: Sunny Garden; Lower Right: South facing woods right of hydrangea.

SET # 3 - Up Left: Sunny Garden; Up Center: West End Lily Line;
Up Right: Middle of lily Line - Tertiary stump and in Sunny garden-front;
Lower Left: Stump #2; Lower Right: Huge Peach Daylily in Lily Line center
SET # 4 - Up Left: Stump Garden; Up Center: Sunny Garden far left
Up Right: South facing side garden next to peony;
Lower Left: Sunny Garden middle back next to Arctic Hibiscus
Lower Right: East end of Lily Line / Center of lily line

Friday, July 17, 2015

Random Flowers in the gardens


Upper L-Echinacea; Lower L-Asiatic Lily; R-Glamini Gladiola
Here are a few random perennials in the gardens. I was finally able to capture a half-way decent photo of my Asiatic lilies. They were difficult to photograph a few days ago because the flowers were all facing downward. The gladiolus pot on the front stump is showing yellow flowers soon to open. This will be such a pretty pot with purple petunias around the base of the glads.

Bluet Damselfly

I think this is a Circumpolar Bluet Damselfly. I have seen the damselflies more frequently in the front flower gardens. They are so striking with their bright blue striping. 

How do damselflies differ from dragonflies? Well, I'm glad you asked. When looking at a damselfly, you will notice that they have big, bulging eyes on the side of their head. And, their wings are held vertically toward the rear of their bodies. In the case of bluets, they are in the Family Coenagrionidae, the narrow-winged damselflies. Oh yes, and as far as dragonflies go, their eyes practically cover the top of their heads, and their wings "are extended out to the sides horizontally." The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1980. Print.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Friendship Flowers

Friendship Flowers from Mary and Meg
Friendship Flowers from Pat
Three more of my wonderful friends gifted me with bulbs and flowers after the loss of my sister. Some of the flowers were bulbs which are now flowering, and one was a cute little vine. What I love about perennials is that they resurface and bloom, year after year, and serve as a reminder of friendship. Thank you Mary, Meg, and Pat for these lovely flowers...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New dock is installed at Caesar Pond

Ahhh Haaaa....We have a new dock in the water! Dale dismantled the old dock, and Drew helped haul it onto the bank. Then, the new dock was adjusted for the depth of the water, and slid into place lickety split! Awesome... 

Thank you, Dale, for your inventive craftsmanship. At the moment, there are only two of these wicked good docks in existence on Earth, and they are both on Caesar Pond! But wait, there's more... Check out Craig's List, for the roll-in boat dock, if you want Dale to build you one! Well, what are you waiting for? Order one today;-)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Dock

Dale and the new roll-in dock. See the slight arch to the dock wood? 
That was done to put it under tension to strengthen the structure. Genius!
We have a new dock! Yahooooo!!! Neighbor Dale, a master craftsman, built the wheels/substructure by hand, by pounding out the metal (cool stuff), and created spokes out of pieces of rebar. He finished the assembly today. It took him about 10 hours to build this masterpiece. Thank you, Dale!
Wicked cool wheels. See the bolts on each of the vertical posts? 
When loosened, they allow the poles to slide up and down, to level the dock,
after it has settled into the pond bottom. Genius!
Tomorrow afternoon is launch time! Then, once we see that all is well, we'll buy the boat and all the accessories. Very soon, I will be mobile on the water once again. 

Ahhhhhhhhh...I have missed the pond so much...but she and I will be reunited, and life should be much calmer. My soul will be somewhat soothed...

Virginia Ctenucha Moth (Ctenucha virginica)

Yay! Here is another new moth to add to my list. I don't think that I have ever seen a Ctenucha moth before. They are diurnal, so you'd think I'd have witnessed one flying around over the years. They are common in the northeast US and southern Canada, so Maine is a perfect habitat for them. The iridescent blue coloration, on the first segment of the thorax, alerted me to this moth's presence on the black-eyed Susan flower.

Cucumbers are go!

Yahoo! There are bumblebees pollinating the cucumber flowers, and the cukes are growing larger by the day. Ummm...I kinda, sorta think I may have planted too many cucumber plants (8) for this sized container. There is a lot of competition for space;-)

Asiatic Lily


Neighbor Carla has the most gorgeous Asiatic Lily in her gardens. And, yes, I must photograph it every year. I never tire of its beauty. Of course, it was a breezy day, and I took forever to photograph it in all its glory. Here are a few of the more successful photos I captured. Enjoy!
You might wonder why it takes so long to photograph a flower on a windy day. Why not just snap a photo? Well, when doing macrophotography, you must have absolute stillness or you get a blurry photo. So, I wait patiently, continually focusing on the flower, until I see it stop moving, then I snap a few photos as fast as I can (which, in order to get more depth of field, takes several seconds per photo as the shutter does its thing.) Any movement that occurs during that time yields a blurry photo. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Books in Boothbay & Pat Lammers' book, "The Praying Mantis"

Neighbor Carla and I went to the Books in Boothbay: Maine's Summer Book Fair to peruse books written by Maine authors. We attended the morning session that specialized in children's books. We were there for an entire hour, chatting with the authors/illustrators, and buying book, after book, after book! Each book was autographed, and some had nice notes written to the receiver. I bought books for several of my friends' kids and had a blast!
One of the major reasons for attending the Book Fair was to support our friend, Pat Lammers, who had previously been interviewed on Channel 6's "207" show, about her first book titled, "The Praying Mantis." The book was illustrated by the extremely talented Ben Bishop, and is a fun (and factual) look at the life of the Praying Mantis. It would be great for the elementary school classroom to add a bit of sciencey fun. I bought the book, did you? Subliminal message: Buy the book, buy the book, buy the book... you'll love it! I know I do;-)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Red Squirrel Pup

It is that time of year when the baby squirrels start bee bopping around on their own. We usually have 3 or 4 baby squirrels frolicking around the trees and stumps, but this year there is only one baby. But, he/she sure is a cute one!

Glamini Gladiolus

I planted Glamini Gladiolus bulbs, Dutch gladioli that only grow to about 24" tall, and do not need staking, in pots that I put on the various stumps around the front yard.  I have been patiently waiting for signs that they are going to bloom, and I am happy to say that the front stump glads all have flower stalks. Yahoo!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Dianthus

I have a love affair with all things pink! Dianthus are some of my favorite flowers, especially the pinks that I have planted in the primary stump garden, atop the stump. They are perennials that bloom most of the summer season, and they add so much color to the stump.

Black-eyed Susan

I adore Black-eyed Susan flowers. I love watching large groupings of them change from tightly closed flower buds to fully formed flowers. It has been interesting to watch them as they have transported themselves from one garden to the next. For the last seven years they have populated the secondary stump garden, yet this year there are clumps of Black-eyed Susans throughout the main stump garden, where they are thriving. I guess they needed a few more hours of daily sunshine.

Roses are red...

I love roses. Unfortunately, we just don't get enough light into our yard for roses to bloom. So, over the last few years, I have been transplanting my rose bushes into Neighbor Ernie and Carla's yard. At least I can visit them and revel in the glory of their beauty and scent. I still have three more rose bushes/stems to move, and that will occur next year. As for now...enjoy!

Cucumber Plants

Up Left-Female Flower                            Up Right-Cucumber
Low Left-Pistil on Female            Low Right-Stamen on Male
I am worried that there isn't enough insect activity to properly pollinate the female cucumber flowers, as I am not seeing any growth of the tiny cukes. Thus far, my largest cucumber measures 2.3 cm long (just shy of an inch.) I think I will have to get my trusty pollinating paint brush out to assist with the process. The Gardening Know How website has more information on hand pollinating cucumber flowers. (Click on the photo for a larger view.)

Common St. John's Wort

I found this plant growing in the middle of my sunny garden, along with my day lilies, balloon flowers, echinacea, etc. Common St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is so distinctive with the black dots along the edges of the flower petals. You will find this plant "along trails, roads, and in fields or open woods." Dwelley, Marilyn  J. Summer & Fall Wildflowers of New England. Camden, Maine: Down East Books, 2004. Print.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Patio Vegetable Garden - Cucumber Blossoms

We have cucumbers!
There will soon be flowers on all the plants with cucumbers situated behind the flowers.

Okay, maybe they are tiny at about 2cm long,but they are cukes! Yahooo!