“Pain In The Neck”

August 17, 2014 · 7 comments

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“How you doin?”

Bare with me as I take a quick jog down nerd boulevard to examine one of the stranger activities performed by the damselfly.

Damselfly Schematic

Before mating damselflies spend a considerable amount of time ‘checking each other out’ through close physical contact.

The selection of a suitable mate comes down to (as I have learned) the mesothoracic plates on the anterior surface of the females mesothorax, and how well the male bits (cerci) fit with these plates.

Here is a close up of the male’s abdominal fiddly bits,

ebriumFemaleThoraxthat interface with the top of the female’s thorax:

 http://www.enallagma.com/cerci/damselflyMating.html

 DSC07046I found these two with their lock and key mechanism fully engaged in my stock tank. It is believed this interlocking system allows each sex to assess the species identity and suitability as a mate.  Coupled together in this fashion they can fly perfectly in tandem.

Here is a video of the entire life cycle of these beneficial mosquito-eating insects:

Talking of stock tanks.

I use this one to catch rainwater from one of my gutters for hand watering purposes.

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I flip it over when it is nearly drained and invariable perform an impromptu, non-adjudicated

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after encountering the scurrying beasties that are always lurking underneath it.

I have recently got into the habit of jumping back when I flip it,

green_snakejust to be on the safe side.

This time under the tank my mystery prize was…

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Two huge writhing mounds of Greenhouse Millipedes,

Oxidus gracilis

 

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I know they are nothing like the African Giant Black Millipede Bear, and yes, feel free!

Moving Along:

As the Texas heat rises to August temperatures,

DSC07075 copythis artemesia ‘Silver King’ snow drift helps to cool things down.

As does the silvery-’blue ice’ cypress…(must not focus on the grape vine…

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must not focus on the grape vine…

Grape Vine

Grape Vine2…argh!)

…oh who am I kidding? It is just hot.

The blooms on this Pride of Barbados adequately sum up August in Austin.

DSC07073I have quite a few of these around the Patch but this particular plant, in the least favorable of soils in my Hell-Strip, is by far the most vibrant.

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Moy Grande Hibiscus also packs some summer heat.

Still, as far as summers go, this one has been relatively lenient, feeling shorter than usual with our late rains.

DSC07041Plants are still full with no additional watering to date (apart from plants in containers) but more miraculously…I haven’t tied a single iced-turban this year, not one!

As for future winter attire?

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After attending the Hill Country Weavers knitting and loom Camp she has it covered.

Happy 7th young assassin.

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Finally:

A few before and after renderings of a design I recently generated for a Georgetown residence:

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Stay Tuned For:

“Wail of a Weekend

 

hqdefaultAll material © 2014 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

 

“Oh Drupes!”

July 29, 2014 · 5 comments

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“My, grandma…what a big nose you have!”

“And my, grandma, that is some serious halitosis you have going on!”

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“All the better for smelling out stinky dead things and rolling-in / eating them.”

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Oh yes with this decapitated little snake (rough earth snake, perhaps a Texas blind snake, I don’t know?)

I had them on their toes wielding dustpans…

…they were totally disturbed as I danced toward them shouting “its goin’ doon yer back…

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…and “the wee beastie is goin tae land on yer noggin’.”

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…in my really bad Billy Connolly accent.

I have never seen them move faster.

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It has been a week of odd findings.

I found three clusters of drupes at the base of this needle palm, yes I said drupes, drupes.

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Needless to say (ahem)

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I got sufficiently punished for taking this macro.

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The needles on this palm are virtually impossible to see among the debris and they are extremely sharp.

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For anyone remotely interested here is drupelet split open to reveal the kernel.

DSC07009This cypress tree contained in my pond has also set some large fruit,

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all it needs are some wings…a quidditch field, a lick of gold paint, some wizard folk on broomsticks, ability to fly…etc.

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Staying in this pond for a moment,

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this Florida native swamp lily,

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Crinum americanum


is putting on a fine show.

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Another super white bloom has taken over two other places in the patch.

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I vaguely remember collecting and planting some seeds from the datura mother-plant last fall.

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I have tried planting the seed before without much success.

But not this year. This year the story is quite different.

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I now have enough Devil’s snare to keep a small army of tribal Shamans in psychotropic trances for a very long time.

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Inland sea oats are on the turn, greens turning to browns as fall encroaches.

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I allow them to spread where they want to toward the back of my property,

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as I do with this beach vitex…at least for now.

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Finally:

How about this for an agave bloom:

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This one is the tallest I have ever seen.

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Stay Tuned For:

Pain In The Neck”

 

All material © 2014 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

 

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Dragonfly wings,

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buried in the sand?

It could mean only one thing,

we were off on vacation,

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and we had survived the “6 Harry Potters” worth of car-time to get there.

The 12 hour journey was accompanied by the repeatedly repeated phrases from the parental units trying desperately to hold it together…“If you do that again you will loose the iPad for one Harry, do you understand?” and at every gas station: “Did you go to the restroom…did you go to the restroom?

And “stop that humming!”

followed by the final blow

…”you have lost the iPad for a Harry”.

Oh yes, if it wasn’t for the sporadic in-car reading (courtesy of my wife) of the poaching exploits of

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I think we all would have all permanently lost it.

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We had arrived at Gulf Shores, Alabama.

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They jumped out of the car and were on the beach before you could say sunscreen.

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I was not far behind them with my fishing rod.

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A couple of pompano on my second cast (really it was) caught the attention of this Great Blue Heron down the beach:

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I released the fish back into the water but only one made it back to the deep, the other was gracefully harpooned by a formidable beak.

The heron never left my side after this.

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It was like the evil penguin on Wallace & Gromit.

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Always looming.

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This Remora Shark Sucker fish did escape the beak.  These funny looking fish have a sucker pad on top of their head that is used to attach themselves to Shark, Snapper, Cobia etc…they are cleaner fish.

If I had known this at the time I may have attached a couple of these fish to the seat-belt-smudged tattoo that ended up EVERYWHERE.

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The tattoo apparently lasts a month!

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Her hidden agenda at the beach naturally involved lots of these:

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and precisely seven of these:

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Time to get some refreshment at our favorite hangout…

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Let me guess, something to do with Minecraft and American Girl Dolls?

DSC06731Every so often a buzzer would sound and this would happen which was good as it was noticeably fading the tattoo smudges.

resultFinal day blues.

Thank you D&J, we had the best time.

We decided to break up the return journey and splurge with an evening in New Orleans at the

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In the heart of the French Quarter.

Lets just say it made a dramatic change to the Best Westerns we were accustomed to.

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Jaws dropped entering the foyer, and off to the side was the amazing

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Carousel Bar & Lounge where patrons circumnavigate at one revolution every 15 minutes.

The biggest hit was the mandavilla lined rooftop pool

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followed by fresh dressing gowns and chocolates that were found on the bed.

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Next morning it was Beignets at Cafe Du Monde,

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and a walk through Jackson Square with its specimen multi-trunked Mediterranean Fan Palms.

Chamaerops humilis

 

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Hmm, I think I may not have given mine quite enough space – good job they are slow growing.

Are those…it can’t be…

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…Oleanders…the size of trees!

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This is not what we looked like after the drive back to Austin.

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Stay Tuned For:

“Oh Drupes!

 

Jungle Babies

All material © 2014 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

June 20, 2014

“The Normandy Phase”

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This week get to witness what the ‘Normandy phase’ of an installation looks like on a front garden in South Austin. I take a quick trip down memory lane and highlight a couple of plants that have waged war on me.

Continue reading... 4 comments
May 26, 2014

“Oh Frass!”

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This week I discover a new word and use it way too much. Best put your food down to read this latest splattering from the Patch.

Continue reading... 8 comments
May 18, 2014

“Uncle Wiggily wants his Ovaltine”

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Munching and hoarding insects, wizard wands and buried treasure this week in the ESPatch.

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