Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Proud Mama

Oak Treehopper on a twig of California Black Oak.

Monday, September 7, 2015

"It ain't over 'til it's over."

An Ambush Bug triumvirate is still going strong while the Tansy seems to have lost its mojo.

Inside of a dog....

No posts in over a year, so this blog is among the living dead.  I got tired of seeing my copulating bugs when the page opens, so here's a change.  A stimulus maybe?  My daughter's new puppy reminded me of a statement attributed to the late, great Groucho Marx: "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend; inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

He's one of us?

On my drive into Quincy each day as I return from teaching at the college or exploring the forest for interesting creatures, I can't help but juxtapose images that float through my mind.  Today, I was reminded of an incident on a nature hike I was leading a week ago.  One never knows what insects will show themselves on any given day, so I was introducing my companions to the great fragrances given off by certain plants.  The first, on the Tollgate Creek Trail, was Pennyroyal.  Before they bloom, they are (to most people) a fairly non-descript little plant that blends in with other green vegetation.  I ask people to grab a handful of leaves and take a whiff. The fragrance of Pennyroyal never fails to delight.  Now that I have their attention, I lead my guests to a patch of Mugwort.  Another patch of non-descript greens at the side of the trail, Mugwort is in the same genus as Sagebrush, Artemesia.  As we approached, I was silently reminiscing on a visit to this same spot a couple of years ago when I took the above photo of a pair of Western Bloodsucking Conenose's mating!  I didn't mention this because I thought there was no chance I'd see them again.  But I did!  Another pair, mating.  Of course, no one believes this is their real name.  So, today, when I saw the political sign that says "He's one of us" I got viscerally uncomfortable.  The presumptuous statement is offensive to me.  There's no way I am part of the particular "us" he's referring to.  So, I wish the great name, Bloodsucking Conenose, hadn't already been assigned to this neat bug by entomologists.
So, on the four-month anniversary of the last post on this blog, I share my scrambled thoughts about a bloodsucking congressman and a beautiful bug.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Our poor neglected Blog needs some input so here is a piece from my current project.  "For America and Me: the Rosebud Chronicles"

This is first draft stuff but comments are welcome as usual....Mike



Washington DC

 A gray winter day greeted the early risers in the Nation’s Capital.  No promise of spring was in the January sky just cold and gray threatening snow clouds driven by the raw wind.  Michael walked across the mall just below the Washington Monument.  He stood on the hill watching the flags that decorated the boundary of the monument snapping in the brisk east wind.  One of his pleasures, now that he was back in DC, was enjoying the beauty of the world-class display of the historic monuments of America.  From this point on the National Mall, he could see the Capital, the White House, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.  He turned back northeast and continued his walk, into the wind, across the mall toward his office in the Reagan Building.
Michael sat at his desk scanning his computer’s inbox for important or least over-due issues.  He hated e-mail more then he hated carrying a pager in the old days.  He preferred to just talk to people face to face or at least get a hand written snail mail note that one could touch and feel and ponder about before you took up your pen and composed an answer.  And besides envelopes had neat stamps from far away places.  His office was on the sixth floor in the middle of a square section of sub office space with no windows. At least they did not have to worry about acoustical ease droppers listening at the windows or snipers. The suite included two small-interconnected conference rooms, an entrance foyer with a receptionist, his two-room office suite and ten additional 12 by 12 offices for his staff.  By Washington standards the office was good space.  The Reagan Building was a prime locution at 1300 Pennsylvanian Ave NE with easy Metro access, walking distance to the White House, the Old Executive Office building or the Capital, underground parking and lots of great nearby restaurants. This office had  all the perks.
The phone on Michael’s desk buzzed with an intercom call from the receptionist’s desk.
“Yes Arlene.  Good morning and I am here what do you need?
“Good Morning Michael. Are we having a staff meeting today?” Arlene asked.
“Yes, Arlene we have a staff meeting every morning.  How about reminding everyone.  We will meet in Conference Room 2 in about an hour.  Say 9:15 or so”
“And do we have any agenda items?”
“Yes, Marshall has a report on the new militia group he has been tracking. And at 10 two guests from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will join us to give us more background on the same militia group. They will call from Security and you can go down and accompany them to our office for the meeting. I will bring you the agenda.”
  Michael walked out to the Arlene’s desk and handed her a stack of papers.  “ And here is the agenda.  You can set up the room.  Maybe get some water and some cups if you can find any.  Also is Alexis in yet?”
“You and I both know Alex T. is sitting in his favorite coffee shop reading the morning papers on his iPad.” She replied.
“And so call his cell and tell him about the Staff meeting and the meeting with DHS.   
“Alex shows up when he wants to and no one can change his habits.” She said.
“Yes I know but tell him about the meeting with DHS. He will come in early for that.  And you look great today you must have a date for lunch.” Michael said.
“I wish but thanks for noticing, Boss.”
“Hold my calls I am going to prep for the DHS meeting and if Alex comes in send him to my office.  Okay?”
“Will do.”  She said as Michael headed back to his desk. 
Michael back in his office opened his secure safe and removed a filed marked NFFS.  The top page was stamped “Secret”.  He read the report the night before in the preparation for the meeting today with DHS staffers.  Michael was the leader of a multi-agency task force (DMATF) that tracked emerging home grown domestic groups thought to be a potential threat for national security or national stability. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Poetry on Oak

I thought it was about time to change the image.  These little creatures are providing a major part of my enjoyment of fall, which doesn't actually begin until tomorrow. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Nature Literature in America

 Check out this new class at FRC, English 180, Nature Literature in America.  Taught by Dr. Joan Parkin and Joe Willis, Wednesday afternoons, 1:00 to 3:30, the class will include an historical survey of nature writing and other literature heavily influenced by authors greatly influenced by nature.  There will also be periodic nature walks on local trails and along stream banks during which we will practice nature journaling.  For further information about the class, email Joe at or Joan at  Class begins next week, August 21, somewhere on the FRC campus.