What’s bugging me – second attempt

Besides Mary threatening an extended hiatus from blogging, aphids are bugging me. I hate the little suckers! There’s almost no other insect that I would say that about, but I wholeheartedly hate aphids. I think it stems from my beginning days as a gardener. Of all the things to start with I chose roses. I bought lots of beautiful old garden roses and some beautiful David Austin roses that I coddled and crooned over. Even then I knew better than to spray them with pesticides, so I devised many creative and non-lethal ways of eradicating these nasty bugs – none of which worked at all. Eventually I got to the point that I would just run two fingers down each stem of my rosebushes, squishing the bas*ards along the way – with my bare hands – yuck!

I’m too squeamish to attempt that now – especially since there are so darn many of them on each plant. I don’t have roses anymore, but they’re feasting on my milkweed plants instead. They’re really not harming anything, but they look so ugly and make me squirm.

Something mysterious is also bugging my new Sour Gum tree. I first noticed ants crawling on the ends of the branches and they led me to find aphids, or some other aphid-like insect, that’s feeding on the new growth. They didn’t seem to do any real damage and they’ve since more or less disappeared. Instead I’m seeing these roundish holes cut into a lot of the leaves now, but I don’t know enough about insect pests to be able to identify the culprit. My guess would be some type of leaf-cutting bee, but who knows? My Dirr manual says that the most common diseases and pests are canker, leaf spots, rust, scale, and the tupelo leaf miner but none of those seem likely. I wonder if any of you plant geeks have any ideas? There’s also a cute little spider that’s made a web on the shady side of the tree; I’ve tried identifying the bugs it’s catching, but the mummified corpses in the web give no clue either.

So what’s bugging you? Or your garden?

I can add to my list of things that are bugging me – Blogger! It’s gone all wonky again and I fear that this post will show up multiple times, if it shows up at all!

Just kidding, Mary!

Pretty Peeper

It was a year ago today that Peeper showed up homeless on my doorstep. Happy Gotcha Day, Peeper! Do you remember how worried I was that she was pregnant? How I complained about how hormonal she was? Good grief – I’m glad those times are behind us!

She no longer peeps at me like a little lost bird – that’s how I first named her Peeper. She doesn’t often sit at the window watching the cars go by like she used to (a peeper in another sense) – so really her name no longer fits her. Growler would suit her better to be honest! She’s a sweet girl, but will always be a bit on the wild side, I imagine. Like children, those formative months at the start of a bunny’s life often set the tone for a lifetime of relationships. She didn’t learn early to trust and so she lives in a place of suspicion in her relations with people. She’s ferocious with any of the other bunnies who come by to visit as well.

I love her just the same and hope that as time goes on she’ll come to more easily accept affection and attention. She makes her own joy – digging endlessly in any dark place she can roam in and flopping contentedly on her side when ushered back to her cage when I’ve had enough of her scratching at floors and walls. She likes to play like a cat and will lunge at a hand dragged back and forth on the carpet in front of her – if that hand reaches around then to poke her on the bottom she dances happily away and turns around in midair to pounce again. That she’s learned to play at all is proof of her coming around, I think. I think the best thing for her would be for me to move her out onto the porch with the other bunnies so she’d have more company and the opportunity to see the others interact with me in a positive way – that might quell some of her fear. So far there’s no room for her out there and she wouldn’t get enough time out of her cage anyway. Maybe someday. Until then she shares my office and keeps me company while I blog and do schoolwork.

Red, white and BLUE

My husband and I walked into the Honda dealership today, signed a few papers and came home with a shiny new CR-V. It seems kind of odd that it should be so easy to spend twenty grand. In reality, it wasn’t that easy as I’ve been fussing over it for months – spending that much money makes me very nervous!

I decided on a lease and am trying to figure out if I got a good deal or not. My monthly payments will be the same on this car as on the Civic that I financed 8 years ago. I put more than half down on that car, but this one cost a few thousand more, so I can’t quite get how the payments are the same. I know I didn’t get enough for the trade in of my Civic, but I haggled as much as I could stand to.

Anyway, I like it! I had planned on getting it in a nice sagey green, but the blue was all that was available on the lot. Most importantly, my husband fits comfortably inside and I won’t have to watch him folding himself up into the front seat like he had to do with the Civic.

Boats at sunset

Fireworks were tonight, but we didn’t have our usual invite to the ritzy house on the river to see them. Darn! Instead my husband and I drove into town and planted ourselves on lawn chairs in the middle of the police department parking lot! The view was nice enough, but the atmosphere just wasn’t the same, as you can imagine.

I love seeing fireworks over the water. One of these days I’ll get out in a boat and see them on the river that way. In our town growing up, the display was set in a dirt field; I can remember crying through it every year because I hated the noise so much. I must have spoiled it for everyone within earshot.

I’m looking forward to the day off tomorrow and have nothing planned!

Too much of a good thing

Everything in the pond is growing out of control! The mint that grows along the rock edge is spilling over and sending roots into the pond. The water lettuce and hyacinths that we bought in early May are reproducing at a frightening rate. We bought three of each and must have at least 50 of each now just two months later! It’s no wonder those two are considered noxious weeds in tropical climates. I’ll have to find friends with ponds who might like a few dozen floating plants. Maybe I can throw in a dozen baby fish for free? Having some shade and cover for the fish is important, but you can see from this pic that more than 2/3 of the pond surface is covered by plants – that’s too much – and may lead to problems with the oxygen level in the pond. Anyone want some free plants?

Home is…

wherever you make your nest!
Ospreys seem to have oddball nesting preferences, don’t they? At Sandy Hook a few pairs choose chimneys of the out-of-commission officer’s buildings rather than the available salt marsh nesting platforms. I’ve seen them nest on channel markers, cell towers, and once in the top of an old dead tree – imagine that! Are there any oddball nests in your neighborhood?

Storm-swept beach

“The wild wind raves, the tide runs high, as up and down the beach we flit, one little sandpiper and I.”
–Celia Laighton Thaxter
NJ beaches don’t look like this the weekend before the 4th of July. There’s little solitude now and very little protection for beach nesting birds. Despite the efforts of many to keep them safe, piping plovers face a multitude of dangers. Here’s the story of one of those dangers.