pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Ooof. Well, I voted in the Hugos, in the nick of time. I had actually, in the course of trying to keep up with the field, already read almost all of the legitimate nominees. I made an earnest attempt to read the others, and even got right through a number of the shorter ones, just in case there was a hidden gem, or a trick ending to a drearily predictable beginning. Alas, there was not. I didn't vote in a number of categories, including the dramatic presentations, short and long, because I didn't have enough information. I read quite a bit in the Related Work category but was not much enlightened. I'm glad that's over.

I'm still working on setting up the Patreon. I hope it won't be too much longer. There's a myriad of tiny decisions that are surprisingly difficult to make.

The weather has been wild and not altogether predictable; though the overall implications are grim, I love looking at the Scientific Forecaster Discussion on Weather Underground and seeing remarks like "The models have not been notably helpful in determining convection" and similar sentiments. I actually feel for the forecasters quite a bit. In any case, the effect on me so far has been mild compared to tornadoes, dangerous straight-line winds, repeated flooding, the loss of trees, the death of campers in the BWCA, and damage to buildings, cars, and people in both northern and southern Minnesota. Mostly it's meant that scheduling hiking has been difficult. Raphael and I did make it to Hyland Park Reserve two or weeks ago and to William O'Brien State Park last week.

Hland had a resonable number of dragonflies, notably widow skimmers; also swallows feeding their young in snags sticking out of a pond, a young bullfrog making its rubber-band noise where you could actually see it, an osprey and one youngster on the osprey platform, and a space of emergent vegetation cut down almost to the waterline, which I thought at first must be the work of park staff getting rid of unwanted plants, but turned out to be the work of a very assiduous muskrat. The muskrat was closely focussed on its task, so we got the closest view of one that either of us has ever had. It shied once at something we weren't sure about, unless it was alow-flying skimmer; and again when we walked around to its other side. But it soon returned, nibbling away and letting us admire its little blunt face and tucked-in ears and even its long flexible tail. The meadows were full of wildflowers, wild bergamot, coneflowers, butterfly weed, a tiny white flower I can never recall the name of, some leadplant, anise hyssop, and more.

At O'Brien we saw more widow skimmers, a twelve-spotted skimmer or two, an Eastern amberwings or two out over the water, a stray Hallowe'en pennant or so, many blue dashers, and some powdered dancers and meadowhawks. Both the lake and the river were very high, so that the sandy verges we can usually walk upon were under water. We decamped to the prairie sooner than usual; it was abundantly flowery, with wild bergamot in greatest numbers, but also gray- and green-headed coneflowers, black-eyed Susan, purple prairie clover, leadplant, horsemint (a very weird plant indeed), and much more. Goldfinches were calling everywhere; the thistle has begun to go to seed, so it's their nesting time, and their "potato-chip, tato-chip, chip-chip-chip" was everywhere. Once or twice we saw them swoop by, but mostly we just heard them. On the upland prairie trail we stopped by a group of five or six dead trees, one live tree, and a dense growth of bushes. It was full of birds: a cedar waxwing, a nuthatch, two elusive woodpeckery birds that were not flickers but were probably sapsuckers, a brilliant and enormous robin. We heard Eastern wood peewees but never saw one; the same with wrens, except that Raphael was pretty sure of one wren sighting. Swallowtail butterflies were also abundant, including a giant swallowtail that ws very impressive indeed. There were the usual bluebirds and tree swallows on the lower prairie and around the parking lot where the birdhouses are.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
First, thank you with all my heart to everybody who's commented on my previous post about starting a Patreon. I'm working on setting it up now.

Second, as I keep a wary eye on the weather reports, waiting for an Active Advisory or a Special Weather Statement to suddenly pop up, I thought I'd tell a couple of cat stories from last Tuesday, when thunderstorms battered and flooded parts of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities.

The weather report mentioned hail, torrential downpours, and wind gusts of up to 80 mph. Raphael and I decided that as the storms approached, we would box up the upstairs cats and put them in the upstairs hallway, with doors shut to make it safe from any broken windows that the storm might cause. If there were any sign of tornadoes, we'd have to rethink this, but we thought it would do to go on with. We painstakingly lowered all the warped cranky ancient storm windows, a ritual usually reserved for some cold autumn day. A little before five, I gave the cats their daily dental treats, which they recognize as Entirely Splendid Food rather than a treatment for tartar. Then Raphael and I stood conferring earnestly in the cat-sitting room for a little while, and then I got out the carriers. Saffron immediately went into one of them, so we shut the door on her. Raphael bent to scoop up Cassie, who is soft and round and winsome-looking, but she is no slouch -- she ran at incredible speed under my bed and refused to come out. We thought the nightstand would protect her from broken glass if necessary; and later she scooted down the hall like a furry fat snake and went under Raphael's bed, which is much sturdier. We put Saffron's carrier in the hall. She emitted one protestation and then went to sleep.

We got a few gusts of wind and some very hard rain and some minor hail, but the power didn't even go out. (I am not complaining.) In time the storm passed. I took Saffron's carrier back to the cat-sitting room and opened the door. She came right out, saw Cassie's carrier standing open, and promptly went into that carrier. After a moment she apparently thought, "Nah. The other one's better," and returned to her own box.

Cassie stayed under the bed. She is extremely fond of her food, but she would not come out for wet food or for additional treats. She did come out for dry food at the end of the day. But the next afternoon right around treat time, Raphael and I happened to be standing in the cat-sitting room talking about something in earnest tones, and Cass went down on her belly and galloped into my office and refused to come out for treats. She made a very careful appearance for wet food later on. We have agreed that we should avoid having earnest conversations in the cat-sitting room around five p.m.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
The snowdrops came up all of a piece, leaves and drooping white flowers, three or four days ago. The purple snow crocuses are blooming in the front flower bed. The peony on the south side of the house is showing red shoots, as is the evil but beguiling Japanese knotweed. The bleeding-heart in the front flower bed has put up red-and-green shoots, already frilled with proto-leaves, right out of its mulch. The blue-and-yellow thug irises are putting up leaves, as is the burgundy one that hasn't bloomed much in recent years. I should feed that one.

The dames' rocket and the motherwort have greened up. The daylilies are four to eight inches high, depending on where they are. The bare earth of the south side yard is filling up with tiny violet leaves, a bit of periwinkle, and the aforementioned Japanese knotweed. The grass is greening up. There are small leaves on both mock-orange bushes, and on the neighbors' peabush hedge. I really ought to rake the leaves off the remaining plants, but I have a deep conviction that we are going to pay for this weather with sub-zero temperatures and a raging blizzard, pretty much ANY TIME NOW. So I walk around in bemusement instead.

Ari and I saw a morning-cloak butterfly a few days ago, sunning itself on the back of a lawn chair. I've also seen various small flies and beetles, but no queen bumblebees yet, and no green darners.

Juncoes are still here, and there are so many I think they may be either passing through or preparing to leave. We have a pair of cardinals, which is always cheering. The chickadees and house sparrows and house finches are singing in their various ways, and crows are rattling.

In a rash frenzy, I ordered a bunch of plants from the Lake Country School just down the street. They used to send out six-year-olds with forms to go door to door, and you never knew exactly what you would get when you went to pick up your plants. But now everything is online. I confidently expect that the edited manuscript of my book, with a short deadline for return, will land on me on the weekend I am supposed to pick up the plants.

The mint hasn't come back yet, which concerns me. If it doesn't, I had better buy three plants of it and put them in different locations. This is a good recipe for disaster, but maybe the mint can fight back the Japanese knotweed.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
The snowdrops came up all of a piece, leaves and drooping white flowers, three or four days ago. The purple snow crocuses are blooming in the front flower bed. The peony on the south side of the house is showing red shoots, as is the evil but beguiling Japanese knotweed. The bleeding-heart in the front flower bed has put up red-and-green shoots, already frilled with proto-leaves, right out of its mulch. The blue-and-yellow thug irises are putting up leaves, as is the burgundy one that hasn't bloomed much in recent years. I should feed that one.

The dames' rocket and the motherwort have greened up. The daylilies are four to eight inches high, depending on where they are. The bare earth of the south side yard is filling up with tiny violet leaves, a bit of periwinkle, and the aforementioned Japanese knotweed. The grass is greening up. There are small leaves on both mock-orange bushes, and on the neighbors' peabush hedge. I really ought to rake the leaves off the remaining plants, but I have a deep conviction that we are going to pay for this weather with sub-zero temperatures and a raging blizzard, pretty much ANY TIME NOW. So I walk around in bemusement instead.

Ari and I saw a morning-cloak butterfly a few days ago, sunning itself on the back of a lawn chair. I've also seen various small flies and beetles, but no queen bumblebees yet, and no green darners.

Juncoes are still here, and there are so many I think they may be either passing through or preparing to leave. We have a pair of cardinals, which is always cheering. The chickadees and house sparrows and house finches are singing in their various ways, and crows are rattling.

In a rash frenzy, I ordered a bunch of plants from the Lake Country School just down the street. They used to send out six-year-olds with forms to go door to door, and you never knew exactly what you would get when you went to pick up your plants. But now everything is online. I confidently expect that the edited manuscript of my book, with a short deadline for return, will land on me on the weekend I am supposed to pick up the plants.

The mint hasn't come back yet, which concerns me. If it doesn't, I had better buy three plants of it and put them in different locations. This is a good recipe for disaster, but maybe the mint can fight back the Japanese knotweed.

Pamela

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