Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Thankful Thursday: New Office, Old Friends

Amelia came to school Sunday and helped put my new office together. I have been moved, thank goodness, so now I'm not so isolated and am in the middle of the action. I no longer have a classroom; just an office. But this office is mine, unlike last year. No sharing. No copier machine. Nobody else's stuff. Only my stuff. Plus, I found my complete set of Sir Cumference books that I have not seen for four years! I finished unpacking and arranging things on Wednesday. 😎

Jody, Amelia, Anna and I spent one virtual night last week trolling Twitter and sharing hedgehog pics. I decided I had to have a hedgehog village. So Jody surprised me with a starter home and two companions for the hedgehog.  πŸ’–  

My hedgehog starter home.

My hedgehog companions.

Unfortunately, the dinosaurs from last year's fossil class escaped. . .

Oh, nooo!

Not to worry; all are happy and well. I'm going to ask some kids to make a backdrop and forest floor for the cubby where these are being showcased.

These are the things I am so thankful for this week. 
I am blessed.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Wordless Wednesday: The First Day of School

I stop here at the store for breakfast.

And around the corner, there's my school!

Welcome back!

My new hedgehog starter home, 
a gift from Jody.

It was a great day!

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Happy Tuesday: Hello!

Twice a day, at meals, Nelly would say hello to Oliver.
It got pretty embarrassing! But Oliver never cared. 


Monday, August 29, 2022

Monday Sparks: The Bear in the Woods

I am in the northeast corner of Vermont, near the Canadian border. We are the largest, yet the least populated, county of Vermont. There are few stores, few jobs, and bitter winters. And every child grows up knowing about bears in the woods. They are frequently sighted. Behind my house is Barton Mountain with cliffs and caves where bears, bobcats, and even lynx will stay. I am extremely careful about the bears and never go deep into the woods alone. 

Black cherry trees are the most populous tree in the northeast of the US, and I have plenty. I also have chokecherry, pin cherry, and an apple orchard. These are all the fruits bears love to fatten up on for their winter hibernation. Here are photos of bears enjoying cherries. They often just plop down on their rear, like in cartoons, with their big bellies popping out, and just pull the tree branches down to them and strip them of fruit. 

What does this all do with Monday Sparks

Every year we are required to read up-to-date research on social emotional health for our children at school. We are a trauma-centered day treatment private school that works closely with the public school districts. We have been doing trauma-centered care for at least ten years. In fact, all Vermont schools now train for trauma-centered care and are more or less familiar with this information. But we have to repeat and repeat for it to become internalized and second nature to us all and to be better for our kids. This year, we are watching for the bear not being in the woods, but coming inside with the children and with us. Monday Sparks allows me to review and digest the information and to hear feedback from you. 

"Living with the Bear: The Long-Term Impact of Childhood Difficulties"  is an article that I can refer to when days overwhelm me and I need to renew. Perhaps you can use it, too.

Thank you and have a blessed week.

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Awww Monday: 2020

I found this video that iPhone made me reviewing 2020. My husband had died only six months before and I was in complete lockdown alone. The internet saved me — most of us — and my children and I talked all day long, cooked together, had challenges together, gossiped, watch parties, played games, and shared everything together. Here you will see only my son, the only man in the video. You'll see my house, my road, my animals, Lucy and me kissing, my bugs, me shooting bugs with JF, my virtual schoolroom, a student for Halloween, cats visiting my virtual classroom, my cooking fails. It brought tears to my eyes.  Because school starts tomorrow and I have so much cooking, planning, writing, and photo editing to do, I was going to pass on today's post. But once I found this video, I had to share. iPhone chose all the images and the music.  Thank you for watching.
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Sunday, August 28, 2022

Photo Sunday: Oliver in the Shadows

Every winter, I would put Cat TV on the computer for Oliver to watch the things he loved: mice and birds in the trees. He would sit next to me in the shadows and watch and talk to the computer screen.

He also enjoyed watching Chopped at bedtime.

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Friday, August 26, 2022

Feline Friday: Confession

August 12, 2020

Dearest Jody,

We had a near catastrophe this morning. But you would not understand because I have not told all the truth to you. You brought me four swallowtail larvae: two late instars, a tiny first instar, and one in the middle. I never told you that the tiny one and the one huge one disappeared. Amelia and I searched and searched but could not find them in the enclosure or in the house (I have had caterpillars run on me before, especially Monarchs). You went to a lot of trouble for these little guys and are so deeply invested that I did not want to disappoint you. 

I continued the search over the next few days for a  chrysalis, hoping the big one ran away and pupated under a table, or in a dark corner somewhere. It did. I found it today. I went into the kitchen to make breakfast (which seldom happens) and Nelly the Naughty Cat was leaping about the windows trying to catch a bug. It was your butterfly! He had to have pupated yesterday because he was totally dry and ready to leave.

And it's a boy! 

But I couldn't get a camera and save the butterfly, too.

I had to yell at Nelly, which brought Lucy racing down to the kitchen to help me. Lucy is a great cat wrangler and loves the times that they are naughty. Nelly ran into the basement. I went for the camera, which was charging, because I lost that spare battery, so I had to reload the battery. By that time, Nelly had returned to slaughter the butterfly. But one word to Lucy and Nelly was in the basement again. I took the photos. I got him on my finger to pose a bit. But I had to release him because he was beating his wings on the window and destroying his scales. 

You have never met Nelly in real life before. Here she is this morning trying to take the lens cover off of the camera. She has her sweet moments. But she is a killer and I am grateful for her mousing capabilities. 

All other larvae (except the tiny one) are accounted for (1 infant, 1 last instar, 1 chrysalis). Three to go. 

Forgive me, Jody. πŸ˜‡  I try.

December 10, 2020
Dearest Jody,

I found the chrysalis. That caterpillar crawled 20 feet across the kitchen and up a post  and under a cast iron skillet hanging there.

Forgive me?

If not? Here is the photo I took of your Tiger this summer . . . 

He is well-behaved.

More Felines here!


Pet Photo Fail: Nellie, Of Course

The last shot is just to remind us of what Grumpy Nell looks like.


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Flashback Friday: Swallowtail Videos

August, 2018
Black Swallowtail - Hodges#4159 (Papilio polyxenes)

For the past few years, JF and I have been raising butterflies (and occasionally moths and ladybugs) that she finds in her garden. Five years ago, we had a lot of Black Swallowtail caterpillars that JF collected and I raised. These are my first ever iPhone videos. I was thrilled with the results at that time. We have a lot of great memories that were funny, embarrassing, and sad with these caterpillars. There was much caterpillar misbehavior! There were runaways, cats trying to steal them away, and reluctant eclosers (not a real word).  I love watching "the cats" actually chewing up the parsley. The butterflies are excellent pollinators. This species loves parsley, dill, and plants from the carrot family. 

I hope you all have joyous memories today. 

Here is a female black swallowtail butterfly:

And here is a male that JF held while photographing it:

You can easily see the sexual dimorphism shown here.

Have a peaceful weekend!

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Thursday, August 25, 2022

Nature Friday: Sexual Dimorphism


Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia)


Sexual dimorphism means that the two sexes of a species are different from each other. This dragonfly differs with wing pattern and body color. The male is flashier than the female. I've waited all summer to get both sexes photographed, and it finally happened on Thursday afternoon. The female landed in front of me five times!  

More Nature!


Skywatch Friday: Four Days Left

This was the only cloud in the sky over Barton Mountain late Friday afternoon. Lucy and I managed to get outside even after a fruitless day of trying to get my new office at school organized for next Tuesday. It was frustrating not being able to get anything done! It was a perfect summer day, the kind of day we should have had all summer long. Even the insects were slower today; perhaps they can tell that time is almost over.  Grab the rest of your summer. Make memories!
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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Thankful Thursday: Goofy Bumble Bees

This is the time of year when the jewelweed blooms and the bumbles crawl into a blossom and hang there while they gather nectar and pollen. 

I always chuckle when I see them through my lens.
All you see are two fuzzy, pollen-studded legs hanging out.
I'm thankful to be able to see and enjoy this.

Any day now, the hummingbirds will come through on their migration and stop for the jewelweed and phlox, also.

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Wordless Wednesday: Ethan Allen Furniture

Orleans Village, Barton, Vermont
Ethan Allen Furniture
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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Happy Tuesday: Supervised Visits

When I look at my blog archive, I see that I basically took a ten year blogging break. I had gotten married, life was busy, and I focused on Facebook. Facebook is over for me now for several reasons; the biggest of which is that I'm uncomfortable grieving and reminiscing there and reviewing my memories as I try to make a new life for myself. The memories are not always painful for me anymore (even though some still are), and this blog is a good memoir of my life. Not much is going on with my life now, but plenty went on before. I want to remember those days. Happiness may be within reach. 

In the video above, puppy Dori was not permitted to visit Rosie, a special needs kitty of Amelia's. But the time finally came for a supervised visit. Rosie and Dori did excellent (but are still always supervised)!

Dori is now a year old (but basically the same size), and when she was very young, we closely supervised her visits with Lucy. Not because of Lucy, because she is a patient Lab. But Dori didn't know doggie boundaries. Here, Lucy basically smooshes her to the ground to show her boundaries. Dori never listened too well!

Thank you to all for visiting and listening.

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Happy Tuesday


Monday, August 22, 2022

Nature Notes: Buzz Pollination

Last week, I spent a lot of time watching two species of bumble bees on the few blossoms of Rosa rugosa that were left. They seemed to be in a frenzy inside the blossom. In the past when I have seen this, it looked like they were rolling in the pollen in ecstasy, much like our dogs roll happily in vile things in the woods. But on this day, I saw that their high speed movement had deceived me. They seem to be gathering pollen, but in greater quantities than they would individually need.

R. rugosa does not have nectar so it may not be particularly enticing to insects. It is self-pollinating, but it needs cross-pollination by insects to set fruit, which are the rose hips with which we are familiar. Rugosa is also called the beach rose. It is not native, but is extensively used to prevent erosion on beaches and dunes in the eastern United States. It creates many nostalgic memories for those of us who grew up on the Atlantic shoreline or visiting it often.

Pollen is the sperm of flowers. It is on the anthers. The anthers may have the pollen on the outside, easily available to insects, or it may be trapped inside the anther. Bumbles eat pollen as adults, but most importantly, they feed it to the bee larvae in the hive. Rose pollen is highly favored by bees because it's rich in nutrients. But the pollen in R. rugosa is trapped inside the anthers, so the bumbles need to get that pollen outside of the anthers so they can collect it for the baby bees. 

Rugosa, as a genus, can be pollinated in one of or more of three different ways and all three methods can be used with R. rugosa:
1. Automatic or insect-mediated selfing within one flower (autogamy) 
2. Pollen transfer from flower to flower on the same plant (geitenogamy)
3. Cross-pollination (xenogamy) results when pollen is transferred from the anthers of one plant to the stigmas of the flowers of another.
When you see a bumble inside a blossom, making a loud buzz sound, perhaps even "rolling around," it is collecting the pollen from inside the anthers. The bee (only female bumbles can collect pollen) uses her flight muscles — not to fly, but to vibrate her entire body, and the vibrations release the pollen. While her body vibrates rapidly, creating that buzzing, she bites the tip of the anther to release the pollen. After the release, the bee collects it in the sacks on her legs. This entire process is called buzz pollination.

Because the activity in my videos, below, happens so fast, I have added this slide show of still photos of the activity at one R. rugosa blossom.

Buzz pollination is also required for tomatoes, potatoes, and blueberries (all New World foods). And honeybees cannot do it, only our native bumble bees can. JF says that she also sees this activity on mullein and hydrangea.

In the videos below, that I made as part of my practice of making nature videos, you will see Common Eastern Bumble Bees (Bombus impatiens) and one Tricolored Bumble Bee (Bombus ternarius) buzz collecting pollen from R. rugosa. The tricolored bee has the orange band. Unfortunately, I deleted the sound. The buzzing is much louder than you normally hear, and it reminded me of angry bees. But they were not angry, they were simply in "overdrive."

The bees, though different species, did not seem to mind sharing a blossom with others. One bumble here or there would run off (especially the Common Eastern Bumble). On the other hand, it also did not look as if they enjoyed each other's company. Sometimes there was a slight tussle when another bee entered the flower. Sometimes there was not.


Monday Sparks: Doing Our Best

Sunset over Barton Mountain

The directors of our schools are licensed clinical therapists. One director that we had said something that I will never forgotten.

"Children, whatever they are doing, 
are always doing their best."

Whenever I am frustrated, or want to walk away from behaviors, I remember this. If a child is cursing at me, screaming, or throwing things: that is her best. That is her strategy to survive a moment. Right or wrong, the strategy has served her well in her past. Something triggered the outburst, and as the trained professional, I need to honor that without letting her think it is acceptable. I need to help her learn new strategies and help her feel safe.

If you mumble this to yourself often enough, you begin to live it. You stop arguing with children and you have options: back off until the tension is less volatile, talk to the child . . . there are numerous ways to deal with these situations. You begin to have choices and stop reacting. 

As a personal note, I am now applying it to all interactions: with family members, strangers in a store, even my cat and dog. We all are doing our best, whether it is misguided or not. Hopefully, with somebody else's compassion, we can all learn new strategies to deal more successfully with life events. 

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