Saturday, July 30, 2011

Garden Update

I'm busy busy busy, so here's just a quick update on what's happening around the garden:
The new hydrangea is adjusting nicely, no longer drooping over terribly in the heat of the afternoon. Its blooms are so big and beautiful considering how small the shrub is yet. I think it is beginning to shift from blue to purple.

Ahhhh, the sunflowers.... so bright and cheerful :-)
There's about 8 of them and 3 have begun to bloom. They are getting about 4-5 feet tall now.

A nice, juicy cucumber in the front flowerbed. They sure are spiky when they're little! A few more tiny ones are under the leaves, but it looks like all the vine's energy is going into this particular cuke.

I've got corn sprouting in a couple 5-gallon buckets, and some watermelon vines and red peppers plants in the works, more pics later. Happy gardening!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Ok, not Mothra. But still....... a multitude of moths.
I see them around quite a lot and am amazed how many there are. It's pretty cool how they can blend in seamlessly to some surroundings but stand out radically in others.

I found a fat Spiny Oakworm Moth (Anisota stigma) hanging in the shrubs while I was pruning them. It did a very convincing job of looking like a dead leaf. But on a totally green, non-leafy plant.... yeah, that kinda stood out.

So fuzzy! I wanna rub rub rub that abdomen.

This Lesser Maple Spanworm Moth (Speranza pustularia) was on the side of the garage one morning. I love the delicate coloring, almost like inkblot stains of coffee on a piece of white paper.

This is a Large Lace- Border Moth (Scopula limboundata). It looked like an angel resting on the stonecrop in the front flowerbed.

The Clymene Moth (Haploa clymene), on the garage siding.
I see a sword, or an arrow, or a fleur de lis. Or maybe an ear of corn.

So, last night, while I was googling to id these moths, I lamented the fact that I had not yet seen one with (as I think of it) 'a curly butt'. This morning I was treated to one. Yay! On the side of the garage where there is usually one sort of moth or another, there it was - Spotted Apatelodes (Apatelodes torrefacta)

Love the wing structure and coloring, not to mention the curled-up tuchus!

Here's my very favorite view of this moth:

The legs!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In the Garden

I recently bought a lovely blue hydrangea shrub.
Hope it will stay blue, I know they are prone to changing based on soil pH. Over time I may have to try different stuff on it to adjust the color.

It was really difficult for me to plant because the location we agreed upon has the best grass in the lawn. It was literally paaaaainful for me to dig into that lush green carpet!
I separated and replanted plugs of the grass in some of the bare spots around the yard.

Then I had to prune back part of the Russian sage along the front walk. It was becoming huge, unruly, hanging into the pathway and is usually full of bees so that was sort of an obstacle course getting to the front door.

Shame to cut all these pretty little flowers, they smell nice, too. Still a lot left growing, though.
I'll have to try pruning it back earlier in the season next year to promote bushier growth as opposed to the current leggy state.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A death at the Townsend Wye

Monday morning we headed into Tremont for a hike. We finished the 8-mile-r/t to Indian Flats Falls and were back at the car by 11:45am. On the drive out, there was a mass of Search and Rescue vehicles, Fire Rescue, ambulances, Park Rangers, etc at the parking area of the Townsend Wye (a very popular swimming/tubing spot on the Little River).

Obviously a search was underway for a person in the water. We stopped and talked to a young couple sitting on the sidewalk in bathing suits, they'd been in the water when the event occurred but didn't see anything. They had heard from others that the search was on for a man who was tubing with a 2-year-old girl when the tube flipped and they both fell into the water. The child was said to have been recovered safely but the man was unaccounted for and reportedly could not swim. We heard this same story repeated a few times, including from one emergency responder guy (with fire?rescue?not sure) who said he'd heard the baby was ok.

All swimmers/tubers had been ordered from the river and a handful of swift-water rescue searchers were scouring the rocks, ledges and logs in the rushing waters downstream from the Wye (the intersection of Little River and Laurel Creek).

By now, scuba divers had suited up and entered this deeper pool upstream from the swift-water searchers, which was reportedly where the tube flipped and the last place the man was seen.

A swift-water searcher assists a weighted deep-water scuba diver to move back upstream in the Little River.

We left as the search appeared to be wrapping up, and as we drove into town we saw police had temporarily blocked southbound traffic heading into Cades Cove. A few minutes later an ambulance with lights, no sirens, passed us headed north toward Blount Memorial. Indeed, we checked the news via phone and saw the victim had been recovered and was being transported to the hospital. He was pronounced dead shortly after 1pm.

I've not read anything official mentioning the involvement of a child.

Here are some news links:

Such occurrences really underscore the uncertainty of life. One moment you can be having a wonderful time, and in the blink of an eye.... it's all gone.
Also important to think about is safety and preparedness. The man (reportedly) could not swim, yet participated in an activity that included both deep and rushing water. Tubes can be highly fickle and should not be considered life-safety devices. They tip over, they are easy to lose hold of or fall out from; they are heavy and awkward to move. River rocks are slippery, shift around and are difficult to walk on. It can be very hard to judge water depth. Please be very careful when tubing, especially with young children. If you can't swim, strongly consider wearing a life jacket or avoiding participation.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Abrams Falls, after "The Tornado"

We hiked out to Abrams Falls in Great Smoky Mtns on July 4th. Hadn't been out there since what we refer to as "the night of the tornadoes" on April 27, when over 50 tornadoes touched down in east Tennessee, including a confirmed EF4 tornado that ripped through the western half of the National Park, impacting (and closing) about 30 miles of trails west of Cades Cove.

Abrams Falls Trail was one of those closed trails (signage photo from our May 3 visit to the trailhead) and it was the first to be re-opened, as it is a massively popular summertime hike for tourists and locals.

If you hadn't hiked to the falls before the storm, the change might not look too impressive, but we could really tell the difference in a few places. Definitely a lot of trees were downed, but the workers did a great job shifting debris and filling in the trail beds.

Where some of the largest uprooted trees created hot tub-sized holes in the trail, log retaining walls were built for stabilization and prevention of erosion.

Looking to the opposite ridge from our trail, out across the river gorge, you can see a path of damage through the forest.

Despite the areas of damage, Abrams Falls Trail is still a fine hike with some pretty scenery.

The Falls were, as always, a beautiful sight.
We arrived at 8:30 am after the 2.5 mile-hike and were the second ones there. On the way back, between the Falls and the trailhead, we passed exactly 100 people.

Now, let me say this:

For the Love of All That is Holy, people..... Trash in, Trash OUT. Leave No Trace.
The amount (and kind) of garbage we found there was a disgrace. Litter seems to be getting worse in general around the park, but I was especially disgusted at the state of affairs on this holiday weekend. Just be glad I didn't pan down in that Falls photo.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Misty morning

On July 4th, we were up before dawn to head out for sunrise in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mtns. We haven't been in the Cove that early before, I'm not a morning person. It was well worth the effort. Not only did we see some wonderful misty sights, we also beat the heat and most of the crowds.

I imagine it was packed later in the day; we were out by 11:00 am (as always in the back half of the loop, we were stuck behind the ubiquitous Cove traffic-jammer, who drives 5mph and never pulls over).

The breaking of day was magical.

It was cool and quiet, we saw plenty of crows and a handful of deer, some playfully frolicking in the fields.

The road to Abrams Falls.

My next post will cover our hike to the falls and tornado damage.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Freaky Friday 7.1.11

Today's Freaky Friday comes from yesterday's hike in the Smokies, on trails out of Elkmont. Nice weather, lots of people out and about along the Little River. We went out to the Goshen Gate Bridge and I waded in the river; we saw a mink running along the opposite bank. Met a large group of young backpackers headed for bc #23 then up to the AT today.

On the way back, we diverted onto Huskey Gap Trail over to bc#21 (the new one) to see if anybody was there (spotted at least 1 tent). Along the HGT we passed what I guess is a timber rattlesnake chillin at the edge of the trail.

It was motionless, it never rattled or showed aggression. It was determined to be best to encourage it away from the trail with a long branch.

It was a big fat beauty, and I didn't know they came so dark - that's the only reason I noticed it.... the blackness stood out in the brown terrain. Steve Irwin over there with the stick was in heaven and lamenting the fact that he couldn't bring this snake home. *eyetwitch*

Also here's a freaky fungus. I'm going to be classy and say it looks like a heart.