Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Ocean Species?!!

I believe we many have found a new species of Cockle, perhaps an ee-REKT-us-dict-us. As you’re well aware cockles have distinctive rounded shells that are symmetrical, heart-shaped and hinged.

He was just hang'n out on the beach of Marco Island. Interesting little fella wouldn’t you agree?! It's remarkable how he blends into his surrounding. It was obvious that this dude took a good beating (in the surf), he was pretty limp. He twitched when we poked him but we were careful not to play with him since we didn't have protection with us. The water was cold that day for Florida; perhaps this is a reason for his smaller size.

Ah, the surprises one might find walking along the beach...

Random Florida Signs

Here are some signs that we photo'd while ambling about in Florida -




Saturday, August 30, 2008

Find the Insect VI

Can you find the insect in the above picture?

The Egg vs. Egg Beaters

Okay, the debate is: eggs, farm fresh eggs, versus Eggbeaters, one of the first (1972) engineered food products for cholesterol lowering?! The argument boils down to cholesterol.

My brother is a fan and eater of said Eggbeaters. Myself, I prefer the old fashion egg. After all we have three hens in the back yard so how could I not. Let me also tell you that you can NOT beat (no pun intended) a fresh laid egg; the grocery store eggs don't even come close...

One large egg has about 213 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol — all of which is found in the yolk. If you are healthy, it's recommended that you limit your dietary cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg a day. If you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes or high LDL (or "bad") cholesterol, you should limit your dietary cholesterol intake to less than 200 mg a day. Therefore, if you eat an egg on a given day, it's important to limit or avoid other sources of cholesterol for the rest of that day.

Some facts on cholesterol:

  • Cholesterol is vital to your body
  • Your body produces more cholesterol than you eat
  • High cholesterol levels protects against infection
  • High cholesterol levels makes you live longer
  • High cholesterol intake raises your testosterone levels

It’s always better to have high cholesterol levels than low cholesterol levels.

Eggs are a good source of nutrients. One egg contains 6 grams of protein and some healthful unsaturated fats. Eggs are also a good source of choline, which has been linked with preserving memory, and lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against vision loss. The yolk contains all the fat, all the vitamins (A,D,E) & half the protein. Eat the yolk.

Eggbeaters on the other hand have: No fat (0 g fat), No cholesterol (0 mg cholesterol), low in calories and a good source of protein, which are a thumbs up BUT they're rubbery and bland - yukky yuk yuk

Much of the above information and facts were compiled using Google and are from various sites.
I plan to continue enjoying and eating eggs. However, I pledge to make a serious effort to remove the Doritos, Cheetos, chips and Cheez-It® from my regular eating habits.
Please weigh in on this discussion...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Unbutton the Pants, A New Find!

Whilst vacationing in tropical storm riddled, sunny, windy, rainy Florida my brother introduced us to these fantastic Keebler Chips Deluxe Peanut Butter cups cookies and I'm now hooked! Got a bag, well a half eaten bag, in the frig right now...

They're delicious when kept in the refrigerator, mm mm good. They're even better when accompanied with a super cold (out of the freezer after a short stint) Miller Lite!


Find the Insect V

Can you find the insect in the above picture?

What a 'Mess'...

a 'mess' of tomato's that is...

We came home to a 'mess' of tomato's, (4) humongous zucchini's (two pictures above) and a handful of beans (not shown). There are plenty more tomato's on the verge of ripening, as well as a gazillion green ones.

While we were on vacation Vlad was kind enough to stop by one evening on his way home from work and pick a some tomato's so we wouldn't have a bunch of rotted ones - of course he was more than willing to make this kind offer. Based on his opinion and taste he claims these are some of the bestest tomato's he's ever had. He also commented on how beautiful and full the plants themselves are and said his plants (his wifes plants actually) pale in comparison, if you could even compare them and said his wife would love to know our secret.

The canning process will begin shortly...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Still Here...Part III - The End

We'll our vacation to Marco Island Florida has come to an end - the week went by fast, too fast. We arrived home last night safe and sound after an early start and flight out of Ft. Lauderdale. The trip home was uneventful, except for having to wait an additional 20+ minutes for the shuttle bus upon our arrival at Logan.

We had a great time, enjoyed the beach and pool, experienced a hurricane/tropical storm with ~20 hours without power - even being jarred out of bed at 4AM to mop up water from the bedroom floor, hunted for seashells and a nature ride through Alligator Alley on our way to Miami but most importantly we got to spend some LONG overdue time with my brother and his family!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Still Here...Part II

Well, after the rough start we finally made it down to Marco Island and are having a ball!

We survived hurricane or rather tropical storm Fay. Although, she's still hangin around with strong winds, cloudy skies and random rain showers that last longer than usual.

Stay tuned for updates as our adventures continue...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Still Here...Part I

Well, we're still in Boston this morning to begin our vacation. We've already had an interesting adventure at Boston's Logan airport yesterday/last night/early this AM and we haven't even gotten out of the vacation gate yet!

Our 7:50PM JetBlue scheduled flight was eventually 12:30AMish.

A whole lot of sitting and waiting and waiting and sitting, and waiting and waiting and oh, did I say waiting? - WAITING! Throughout all this sitting and waiting and waiting and sitting, and waiting and waiting we received few and vague updates from JetBlue. They dropped the ball BIG TIME (in my humble, frustrated, pissed and tired of sitting and waiting and waiting and sitting, and waiting and waiting opinion)!

We've been booked on another JetBlue flight departing this afternoon at 4:30PMish. However, we're flying into Ft. Myer versus Ft. Lauderdale, which messes up our original plans of driving through Alligator Alley on our way to Marco Island.

Stay tuned for updates as our adventures continue...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What is Alzheimer's?

I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal's Market Watch this afternoon and thought I'd pass along -

What is Alzheimer's?
Val Brickates Kennedy, MarketWatch

BOSTON (MarketWatch) -- Alzheimer's disease, the leading cause of dementia in older people, is brought on by the widespread destruction of brain cells called neurons over the span of several years...

To read the rest of the article, click here - "What is Alzheimer's" ...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Off to Florida for Vacation

We're heading down to Miami & Marco Island Florida to visit my brother and his family tomorrow. Not sure if I'll have access to a computer, if I do I’ll try to post one or two items. Perhaps, a bikini pic or two!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Joe-Pye Weed

Eupatorium purpureum also known as - Queen of the Meadow, gravel root, kidney root, mist-flower, snakeroot and purple boneset

This fragrant wild flower first appeared within our raspberries a couple years ago. It's an attractive flower that attracts an abundance of butterflies, bees and numerous other insects. It was named after a Native American herbalist, named Joe-Pye, cured fevers using the Eupatorium plant.

At first I didn't know what this plant was. Then I thought it was Asclepias Incarnata milkweed,‏ otherwise known as swamp milkweed, which looks very similar to Joe-Pye weed. However, one of the local newscasters does a piece on Sunday mornings called, "Dave's Garden Tips" and wouldn't you know it yesterday Joe-Pye was one of the three plants he talked about and had on display. After a little Google research I confirmed we're the happy owners of some Joe-Pye weed. I plan on transplant this dude come fall to get it out from the tangle of raspberries and into it's own space.

In the words of Mr. Paul Harvey, "and that's the rest of the story..."

Read more about, "Growing Joe-Pye Weed"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Visiting Fox

We had a Grey Fox in the back yard the other morning, just like the deer fawn twins we had visiting a couple weeks ago. This carnivorous mammal was stunning and quick, although his tail struck me as being shorter than normal.

Let me paint the picture for you - so, there I was fresh out of the shower and looking out the upstairs bathroom window wearing nothing but my new tighty-whities and brushing my teeth like I do every morning. When all of a sudden this grey fox darts out from the raspberries (which are behind the rear pool fencing and partially obscured from my vantage point) and makes a b-line towards the side yard and lunges at something as he hits the fence. I didn't see what he was after but he missed whatever it was. At this point he starts making his way towards the rear of our property (which has no fencing), stops for several seconds when the chickens begin to squawk and carry on, stares them down and then slowly slinks into the under brush and out of sight.

The entire episode happened so fast that there was simply no time to retrieve the camera, so once again I've drawn a picture that's pretty darn close to what this fox looked like.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What the Phlox...

These are pictures of the (3) different Phlox plants that we have in our yard. These flowers smell wonderful and are considered butterfly magnets - bunblebees, moths and numerous other insect are attracted to these flowers also.

The first pic, we wrapped the plant with the wire you see. Otherwise it would have fallen victim to the wild rabbits and woodchucks that did a number on this plant last season.

The second pic - this plant resides where it was originally planted several years ago. It's not the ideal spot only because it gets lost amongst the ferns and black-eyed Susan's. I plan on transplanting this one somewhere within the pool area once the flower pass.

The third pic - this one fell victim to some critter, again either a wild rabbit, woodchuck or deer. I didn't think it was going to flower at all this season simply because it was eaten almost all the way to the ground. However, it came back strong and doesn't look too bad. It too kinda gets lost amongst the taller 'Uncle Tommy', black-eyed Susan's and chives.

Find the Insect III

Can you find the insect in the above picture?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Drunk Arrest

A female officer arrests a drunk. She warns him, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be held against you.”

The drunk replies, “Boobs.”

Monday, August 04, 2008

Shedding of Skin (Ecdysis)

Common Garter Snake

A snake about to shed is referred to as being "in the blue."

A healthy snake will shed on a regular basis - generally around once a month.

This dude will be shedding soon. You can tell this by his blue eyes. At this stage he can not see very well and is vulnerable and nervous, rather unpredictable and sometimes aggressive, which is why he was hiding under a sheet of metal when I found him. He darted around blindly for a short time trying to get away but when he realized he couldn't he curled up and started acting tough and began lunging in my direction.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Lema daturaphila

Lema daturaphila - Three-Lined Potato Beetle

Here are some pictures I took recently of the 3-lined potato beetle. These little fellers happen to be residing on my dads eggplants. We have them in our yard too only residing on the potato plants we have growing. Not only do they prefer eggplant and potato plants but also tomato plants and can be pretty destructive.

In the picture below you can see the damage they do and it doesn't take long. They were just starting to dine on the eggplant below -

They lay their eggs on the underside of leaves in clusters. The larva hatch and immediately begin feeding and causing damage.

The larva of these beetles protect themselves by carrying it's own chemically noxious feces, or poop for the lay person and frass for the entomological gifted person, on it's back. Just like the Red Lilly Leaf beetle and many others in the insect world - yuk!

To read more on this behavior click "Getting the Poop on Beetle Defense".

Here is one method to organically control the beetle's and is something that my dad taught us as yutes. Although we used this method for Japanese Beetle it will work with most beetles. Here's how to do it:
  1. Fill a jar with soapy water.
  2. Hold the jar under any beetles that you see.
  3. If you bring your hand close to a beetle, it will have a natural flight response of dropping to the ground--or in this case, into your jar.
  4. Once they fall into the soapy water, they lose the ability to fly and quickly sink to the bottom; in 5-10 minutes, you can rid yourself of dozens of these pests.
  5. Then feed to the chickens (if you have any) they love em!

The other method, which I use in a "pinch" is to catch them by hand and pinch their heads offs. It's messy but just as effective as method one above.

Reference Calendar

I scored this 365 Flowers, Gardens & Trees calendar yesterday! It was given to me as a gift. Did I mention that it's a 1992 calendar? If not, it's a 1992 calendar...

Friday, August 01, 2008

Find the Insect II

Can you find the insect in the above picture?


Great Spangled Fritillary, Speryeria cybele
This little lady has been visiting and spending her time dining on the purple cone flowers we have in our pool area. She is one of the many visitors enjoying the summer bounty. The Yellow Gold Finch's have returned also.

The Great Spangled is the largest of all Fritillaries in North America, with its wingspan nearing 4”. This butterfly is found throughout the northern United States and into Canada. The wings are a common blend of oranges, sienna, and burnt umbers, and its forewings are marked with black spots.

Host plants: Violets, Thistle, Milkweed, Asters, Cosmos, Lantana, Pentas, Daisy, Red Clover and Zinnia to name a few.