Monday, June 11, 2007

Morning Ramble

I just came in from picking blueberries to go in my Kashi Heart To Heart cereal. The cereal comes loaded with wild blueberries, but those Yankee ones are so tiny, I can't help adding my own Pure Floridian berries to it. Out at the blueberry patch, it looked like the cardinals and squirrels had helped themselves while I was in St. Augustine, but there seems to be plenty to share.

On the way out to the blueberry patch, I passed the hurricane damaged dog kennel house which we used for Flounder and Feather when they were pups. It needs a roof repair, a good coat of stain, and a new puppy. Maybe if I do the first two items, the queen will agree on the third.
I borrowed the Marine motto for the kennel, because I think it applies to dogs (not cats) too. After I carved it, my brother was visiting and commented that I should have carved "Semper Fidolis" .... arrrghhh, a great suggestion too late!
The cluster of bamboo pieces hanging in the dog house entry is yet another of my mason bee houses. I have them all over now and each of them is being used as bee nest sites. I took one over to my Mom's for Mother's Day and it is being used also. Yesterday on her back porch, you could watch the little bees coming and going from it.

A couple of years ago, my Dad gave me a few aloe-looking plants he had pulled up from my Aunt's house. They are bigger than regular aloe and armored with spikes along the leaves. Since they arrived, they have just sat there, growing green beneath a live oak tree. The leaves are not as succulent as kitchen aloe, but really, really ferociously thorny. It is this thorniness that has made their existence here a tenuous one, as my wife does not like plants with thorns.
She does not like my wild orange (from a spit seed) tree growing by the porch because it has 3 inch thorns, she does not like the Hercules Club trees growing in our woods because they are totally thorny, and the Brazos blackberry vines growing by the walkway are plantae nongrata.
She really had it in for these aloes because they stuck her while she was stripping Virginia Creeper and wild grape vines out of our front yard planting. I was afraid for their safety and then ...
Voila! One of them turned red in the center and then began pushing up the amazing red flower spike over the course of a few weeks.
Suddenly, she's telling other people about this beautiful red aloe we have in our front yard.
Clever plant, I think it just saved itself from the compost pile.

I know this is way fuzzy. I shot it through the screen on my parent's back porch.
Birders, is that a purple finch or (as my Dad suggested) did a cardinal and a sparrow have a love affair?
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19 comments:

threecollie said...

I think it's a house finch.
Berries look succulent.
Aloe plant looks gorgeous.
Bees sound industrious.
Puppy sounds like FUN!
And we can tell now where you got that quirky sense of humor (mom) semper fidolis indeed! lol.

robin andrea said...

That spiky plant reminds me of a bromeliad. Quite a lovely flower on that one.

I can't tell if that's a purple finch. The color looks about right, but there's something about it that looks like a dark house finch too. Hard to tell.

Hope your test went well.

scott said...

House finch.

You better not bring home any bougainvilla. We inherited one with our current home. I cut it back one time and immediately made a decision in favor of Round-up.

Mark said...

Oh those blueberries look good! I was just reading this morning about blueberries and wondering if we could get them to grow on our parched little piece of land. We used to have rain here -- I understand that plants like that -- but apparently the rain has gone some other place.

Ericka said...

yummmm blueberries! i just stole the remaining wild strawberries from the wildlife over the weekend. they're SO sweet and good.

and that aloe is cool-looking. i like thorny plants, especially around the fence. it helps with my paranoid security delusions.

looks like a common house finch to me. but one never knows about those sparrrows... they're sneaky.

Alan said...

It would be anti-Floridian to remove the wild orange tree! Introduce her to mojo and all will be well.

.....Alan.

Deb said...

I concur with the others. House finch.

I was thinking "Fidolis" was some highbrow joke that only someone with an education in Latin would understand...then I finally got it! :)

SophieMae said...

Oh, man! My lowbushes, which I kept forgetting to water, look more like the yankee versions. But I re-discovered a huge tree - rabbiteyes maybe? - at the top of the woodsy path that's looking pretty good. Only the berries are still green.

Re the bird, I agree with the house finch crowd. Purple finches wouldn't have the brown belly streaks. And your thorny aloe does, indeed, look a lot like a bromeliad.

By now, you've aced your tests, so I'll go ahead and venture, on faith, sending congratulatory sentiments your way. 8-]

WrenaissanceWoman said...

Well, If I comment on blueberries or house finches, I'll sound like a blithering dittohead. So, tell me more about those bee houses ... cool idea, but I'd be afraid that if I put them up the wasps and yellow jackets would set up house instead.

I will ditto the good wishes on the day's tests, however.

Floridacracker said...

Okay house finchers, at first I thought you expert birders were confused, 'cause my Golden Guide Birds of North America showed a western distribution map for the house finch, but the tiny description did say it was increasing in the east especially at feeders. When you work in the book's copyright date of 1966, it's reasonable to assume the bird spent the last 41 years colonizing the east. That would get it to Pure Florida.
Geez, I may need to think about a new bird field guide.

ThreeCollie,
Quirkiness R Us :)
Those berries were excellent!

Robin,
Me too on the bromeliad possibility. That's actually what I think it is, but I went with groupthink in my post.

Scott,
But man are they pretty.

Mark,
We actually had some of this substance about 2 weeks ago. It fell from the sky and had a wetness about it, but then it went away again.

Ericka,
Welcome! I haven't had wild strawberries since I was a kid visiting my Pennsylvania relatives. They were wonderful. I will keep an eye on these sneaky sparrows.

Alan,
Oh she knows mojo.
She actually made a mojo chicken dish last week that I still need to post.

Deb,
It's pretty lowbrow around PF, no Phd needed to get the humor :)
Thanks for the bird ID, I knew you would know it.

Sophie,
I don't know if I aced them, but I think I survived. Get this, I won't get results until November. I think it's a bromeliad too.


Wren,
They are nothing more than a bundle of bamboo sticks bound together with zipties. The idea is to provide a nest site for orchard mason bees who lay an egg and plug the tube with mud. Apparently they are excellent pollinators. If you search this blog for the topic, there's a post or two about making them ... November 06 I think. So far no stinger type buzzers have been sighted near them.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

The red aloe is spectacular!!

And as for the red bird, when you can't be sure, the proper title is "Flitting Bird."

Doug Taron said...

House finches have gotten well into the Midwest and are a frequent visitor to my yard.

I'm very envious of your blueberries. I'll be getting raspberries in about a week- can't wait.

Juli said...

I'm quite envious of your berries. I've plucked about that many this whole season. :(

Off topic, I have a cocoon photo I'd like you to identify. The photo was taken at a friend's farm in Gainesville. Can I have your email address?

juli.davis@gmail.com

swamp4me said...

mmmmmm...Kashi...that's what I had for breakfast this morning - no blueberries though.

kathy a said...

terrific photos and story, as usual!

i am not showing my husband your blog. he would only use it as more evidence that we need a puppy. [he needs a puppy. i work at home, and do enough animal duty as is. plus, the younger dog with bad habits would take charge of training the puppy, which would be a Bad Thing.] i am to puppies as your wife is to thorny things.

Floridacracker said...

Hoss,
Lots of those Flitting birds about.

Doug,
We can't do raspberries here. Lucky you.

Juli,
Just sent it :)

Swampy,
Hey! That hippy cereal is pretty good :)

Kathy A,
Uh oh, surrogate puppy trainer.

Ava said...

Those berries look good!

Great pictures!

Floridacracker said...

Ava,
They were great!

Jason said...

are those southern highbush blueberries, or some other variety?