Peculiarities – Sea Marbles

Tuesday’s with Laurie, A WordPress blog I follow, was my inspiration for this post. Laurie’s title is intriguing: Losing Your Marbles. I immediately thought of all the marbles I find around the house and all the strange places they turn up in. One of my favorite marbles was found on a beach; I’m sure you can pick out the sea glass marble amid the pieces of pottery shard sea glass and a cobalt blue vase top.

I found an article on how marbles find their way into the ocean. The West Coast Sea Glass blog devoted a whole post to the answers. Sea Glass Marbles – How Do Marbles End Up on a Beach. One possibility I liked was the combination of slingshots, young children, and floating driftwood as a target. Since I’m a grandmother I can easily imagine that scenario. Thanks Laurie for being my inspiration for this post. Check out Laurie’s excellent blog: Tuesdays with Laurie.

My cobalt blue vase and the vivid orange-red of the marble will be my entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge for this week.

Peculiarities – Twists and Turtles

Today while I was searching for flowers and foliage to press I came upon a twisted swirl of yellow. A twist so unique and perfect for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge I raced back home to get my camera hoping my subject would be true to its nature and not move away too quickly.

He was still in place when I came back with my camera in hand. Although he glared an unfriendly warning at me with his orange eye, I took several good photos.

Even more peculiar was the sight of one of his woodsy pals crossing the road (To get to the other side I wonder???) when I returned home. I took a photo of him too before I helped him across, out of the way of oncoming cars.

I see Eastern box turtles at least once a season, but it is rare to see more than one on the same day. When I came home I found a four leaf clover in the yard. Some luck! All in all I think this post is perfect for Cee’s Oddball Challenge.

Peculiarities – Art in Strange Places

I’m reposting these beautiful pieces of artificial reef because they could be considered a companion to yesterday’s Wheaton Arts post.

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When I stroll ocean beachfront, I always search for seaglass. The bays of my area also yield up bits of this treasure, but rarely a piece so perfectly frosted as those polished by the ocean.

Some of these pieces come from decades-old blown glass. Glassblowing was once a major business in my area of New Jersey. You can read the history of glassblowing in South Jersey here: South Jersey Glass Blowing History.

The cast-offs and waste, known as culls, were often dumped as “fill” for construction or used in combination with concrete as artificial reefs to curb what was even then a problem…beach erosion. Pieces of this glass can be found today in a few areas.

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I like the enormous concrete and fused glass slabs that have become home to mussels and other bay animals.

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My best guess on how these huge pieces of artificial reef were fashioned is that culls and discarded molten glass, still warm enough to be semi-liquid, were covered with concrete and then dumped along the shoreline of the bays. I like the enormous concrete and fused glass slabs that have become home to mussels and other bay animals. Tons of glass was likely mixed with concrete as moorings for homes. new year's day 027 In the above photo you can see an example of a bed of mussels making their home on a large piece of concrete-fused glass. I find these pieces of unintentional art, combined with the natural environment of tides and animal life, breathtaking in appearance. When I recently photographed them scattered on a hurricane-damaged beachfront something within my spirit responded to their undefined beauty. new year's day 023 I have included almost every picture I took of these strange artistic fusions of glass and concrete. A bit self-indulgent perhaps, but I know that the next time I visit they will most likely be gone. Unappreciated by most, they will be plowed under again and encased in new layers of concrete, forever hidden. Hopefully, their images will have a long life in the archives of this blog. new year's day 024 new year's day 028 new year's day 029 new year's day 030 new year's day 031 new year's day 032
 
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Peculiarities – Cat Snack

Sunday, I was getting myself ready to go to church and enjoy the Easter cantata, when I noticed my cat behaving oddly. He was crouched near my fireplace, intently studying something on the floor. I watched his odd behavior for a moment or two, then noticed, whatever he was watching, he was also eating. The clue is the small speck of beige on the big blue pillow.

Did you guess? Yes! My praying mantis pod hatched on Palm Sunday.

I was lucky to notice before I left for church and took the pod outdoors to my porch. At this point in time, it seems only a couple dozen or so of the mantis babies escaped the cat and are roaming the house. I have let these mantis go about their business on my walls all day, and they have darkened up in color, and most seem to be okay. Since I’m not squeamish about non-biting, benign insects, I will wait until tomorrow and then give them a ride outside on a sheet of paper. To try and handle their fragile bodies would crush them.

Most of the remaining mantis babies were born outdoors on the back porch. Thankfully, the weather has shifted, and the coming week is going to be warm and without heavy rains. They have a good chance to survive if they can find smaller insects to consume. If not, they will find each other, and it will be a matter of survival of the fittest.

By the time I arrived home from church, most of the mantis babies seemed to have disappeared. I’m hoping they are in the yard already. I know that their small size allows them to slip through the mesh of the screening.

There are still a few lingering on the pussy willow branches, but by tomorrow they will probably have found their way into the great outdoors.

Peculiarities – Snow Squalls

We had a quick snow squall blow through yesterday; brilliant sunshine preceded and followed the showers of white. I grabbed my camera and ran for the path in the woods. The last few weeks of winter photos have all looked the same, a photo in flying snow would be something new. Before I could reach the broken tree stump where I take the photo each week, the snow stopped, the sun emerged, and my desire for capturing the snow squall with my camera was denied. But wait…dazzling in the brilliant sunshine, snowflakes, gathered on old spider webs strung between barren twigs, resembled blossoms of Queen Anne’s Lace.

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The blue sky with the snow-laden spider web was the perfect choice for the Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola/Sky Blue challenge. It also worked out well for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Looking Up At Things.

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The moral of my tale: When things don’t go the way you hoped, look around, there might be a blessing, somewhere close by, in disguise.

Peculiarities & Place – The Atlantus and Cape May Diamonds

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Sunset Beach in Cape May, New Jersey, has two unique draws: The Atlantus and Cape May Diamonds. The Atlantus is a concrete ship sunk here in June of 1926. Slowly, the ship is being claimed by the sea.

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Cape May Diamonds are quartz pebbles polished to a diamond-like clarity by their passage down the Delaware River. The man in the photograph must be a serious beachcomber; he brought along a small rake to search for Cape May Diamonds.

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I enjoy sorting through all the beautiful pebbles. Most are polished to a lovely smoothness.

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I didn’t come home empty-handed. Here are a few of the ‘diamonds’ I found on a piece of moonshell. For us, a visit to Cape May always includes a quick stop-over at Sunset Beach.

Peculiarities – The Difference a Day Makes

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Yesterday was so warm I went outdoors and weeded one of my gardens without a coat or jacket. The only winter apparel I wore was a brimmed hat, and that was to keep the brilliant sun out of my eyes. I’m amazed by the tough arugula still growing. They self-seeded in the Autumn from plants I neglected, and are growing strong.

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This is the same patch of arugula today. We are in the beginning stages of a strong Nor’easter.

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The bright snow is the perfect foil for the cardinals visiting my yard.

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The strong winds ruffle even the most demure little lady-bird’s feathers. I’m glad I’m inside, but I’m sure around noontime, after hours of birds feeding, I will brave the storm and go out to refill the feeders.

 

Phascination & Peculiarities – Supermoon

 

img_3982Over the past few days, I’ve been watching the moon’s position in the sky through late daylight and early evening hours. I’ve enjoyed the nightly broadening of the moon’s surface into a brilliant Supermoon. The trees in my backyard often obscure my early evening view of the moon, so I begin scanning the sky as soon as the sun begins to wane. The photo of the moon was taken Sunday evening, November 13th, near 7:00 Eastern Standard Time.

This is the closest Full Moon since 1948. There won’t be another one this close, or closer, until 2034.

Peculiarities – Graveyard

I am reblogging this post from 2013, one because it still amuses me when I remember our first sight of this graveyard decor, and second, the graveyard itself is in a beautiful setting in Belleplain. Third, it is the perfect entry in Jennifer Nichole Wells – Halloween Challenge.

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This angelic shelf on a tree gave us quite a laugh…especially since it was mounted on a tree bordering a graveyard!

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Peculiarities – He’s Back!

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Last summer I published a post on “Featherless Cardinals.” This Spring found all our cardinals  sporting a full head of feathers once more. As soon as the weather grew hot enough to enable feather mites to thrive…oh my…our cardinal from last year seemed afflicted once again. Several of his lady friends are also displaying, or should I say are minus, a few head-feathers too. The condition doesn’t seem to bother them though, and they are a unique sight in the backyard trees.

Peculiarities – Strange Nests

One morning this week, the sun shone warm and bright; a perfect day to go to the park and feed the birds. The ducks, a few adults and several ducklings, were appreciative of the bread and stale cereal we fed them. Afterwards, we walked the few hundred feet to the playground. As my grandchildren climbed aboard the ladders and slides I spied something odd in the scene.

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At first glance I thought it was  a snapping turtle, but noticed the smooth shell and markings of its head and underbelly, the turtle was the painted variety, not the dangerous snapper.

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The turtle was about the length of half a football field from the lake. She lay in a depression in the dirt digging with her hind feet. I zoomed in with my camera and spotted an egg being laid.

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She seemed quite oblivious to the close proximity and commotion created by the children, and lay several eggs while the children played. I was thrilled to be able to see her laying eggs in person. Usually that type of an experience is only available through wildlife channels on television.

The Painted Turtle

“The painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) is the most widespread native turtle of North America. It lives in slow-moving fresh waters, from southern Canada to Louisiana and northern Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The turtle is the only species of the genus Chrysemys, which is part of the pond turtle family Emydidae. Fossils show that the painted turtle existed 15 million years ago. Four regionally based subspecies (the eastern, midland, southern, and western) evolved during the last ice age.” ~ Wikipedia

 

Peculiarities – Throwback Thursday/Player Piano

“A player piano (also known as pianola) is a self-playing piano, containing a pneumatic or electro-mechanical mechanism that operates the piano action via pre-programmed music recorded on perforated paper, or in rare instances, metallic rolls, with more modern implementations using MIDI encoded music stored on floppy disks or CDs. The rise of the player piano grew with the rise of the mass-produced piano for the home in the late 19th and early 20th century.”

I recall seeing, and listening to, player pianos when I was a child. The sample video I’ve included in the post, shows how the piano was pumped with a person’s feet. What is that tune? “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” was the favorite song of my dear grandparents. Enjoy!

Peculiarities – Featherless Cardinals

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Last year, I was surprised to see a male cardinal with a patch of feathers missing atop his head. The exposed skin resembled a “flattop” haircut. This year the same bird seems to have returned, or another with the same condition, showing a head completely bare of any trace of feathers. My sister thought she saw the same bird in her yard, but it had a jaunty feather still attached like an ornery cowlick. I researched the condition and found an article on the phenomenon of cardinals losing their head feathers.

“Seasonally, a few birds are attacked by feather mites, tiny arthropods whose feeding destroys feather shafts. Normally, the birds would divest themselves of these mites by preening, but birds cannot effectively preen their own heads. Once the mites have destroyed their food source on the birds’ heads, they must either move on to a new victim or place themselves in jeopardy on another area of their host’s body.”
~Buffalo News

There is so much to see and discover in the amazing world God has created. Take a walk, sit and swing, look out a window today and enjoy the wonder of nature all around you. You might even spot a cardinal with a flattop haircut. 😀

Peculiarities – Ambergris

A few years ago my son took a trip to Hawaii. Knowing my love for rocks, he brought me home two pieces. One turned out to be a piece of coral, but the other was odd, and had a funny texture when we held it in our hands. I can’t remember when the waxy feel of the rock joggled the little snippet of memory I had on ambergris, but it did, and I suddenly realized the texture pointed to the rock being ambergris. I did a bit of research, and yes, it had a definite ocean smell. It also had bits and pieces of squid beak and sand mixed in…yes, I had a real piece of ambergris. I was elated.

How to Identify Ambergris

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“Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales.
Freshly produced ambergris has a marine, fecal odor. However, as it ages, it acquires a sweet, earthy scent commonly likened to the fragrance of rubbing alcohol without the vaporous chemical astringency. Although ambergris was formerly highly valued by perfumers as a fixative (allowing the scent to last much longer), it has now largely been replaced by synthetics.” ~ Wikipedia

 

As with any treasure, the quest was on to find more, and I did. The next piece of Ambergris was found in the opposite ocean, a piece of ambergris floated to me on a bed of seaweed, this time a gift from God. This piece is greyer in texture, not as aged and sweet as the first, but still a welcome find. It also has pieces of Squid beak embedded within it.

As you can see, my pieces of Ambergris have been cut in half. The other halves are with my nephew now, who was so intrigued by my treasures I was happy to give him pieces of them. I loved the fact that when I shared the piece from Hawaii, the resulting half resembled a heart. Somehow, in the sharing, the piece became even more special to me.

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If you find a piece of “funky” stone on a beach and don’t know whether it is ambergris or just something yucky and gross, do the hot needle test on it. An example of how to perform this test can be found in the following Youtube video. Happy Ambergris hunting…who knows…you might find the biggest piece ever!

Peculiarities – Horseshoe Crabs

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Horseshoe crabs are becoming a common sight once more along the beaches of the Delaware Bay. At one point in time they were severely endangered due to being used as fertilizer and bait for eels and whelks.

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A female lays between 60,000 to 120,000 eggs in a season. These eggs are important not only to further the population of horseshoe crabs, but also to provide food for endangered migratory shore birds.

Horseshoe crabs breed in shallow waters and lay their eggs along the beach. They easily upturn in the surf and it is not an uncommon sight to see dozens on their backs along the shoreline. Volunteers gather during mating season to turn the horseshoe crabs right side up again. You can read about their efforts here: Volunteers Saving Horseshoe Crabs

Although we weren’t part of a group, last year my cousin and I flipped all the upturned crabs we found back on their feet, or would that be legs…or claws? Anyway, we turned them right side up again. Unfortunately, several flipped onto their backs again with the next incoming wave. Still, I’m sure a few survived because of our efforts.

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We were really hungry after our rescue mission, and went to a terrific little bayside cafe called “The Landing.”

Peculiarities – Verbing Anyone?

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Does the photograph above have anything to do with the title of this post. Well, yes, it does. The next photograph might be explanation enough of my moment of “Verbing.

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“I just “smithereened” that plastic egg,” I mumbled as my shoe encountered and “smithereened” yet another Easter Egg. The grandchildren and I have had a good time with plastic Easter Eggs. Usually they are scattered all over the floor. The little ones like to open and shut them. The older boys enjoy using them for an egg toss game. Next week I will gather up every Easter Egg, take them outdoors, and with the grandchildren “bomb” the front yard with a rainbow of eggs. Flinging the eggs and letting them stay where they land creates a random and dare I say, “natural” look to the arrangement of eggs on the lawn. In the meantime I will try to tread softly and not “smithereen” anymore eggs to bits.

Here is a terrific explanation on the ins and outs of verbing: What is Verbing?

Place, Peculiarities & Phun- Block Island Mud on Clayhead Beach

Block Island 2013 278 One of our very favorite beaches on Block Island, Rhode Island, is Clayhead Beach. The bluffs on this beach are one of the first sights you see when you approach on the Point Judith Ferry. Within these bluffs is a clay that gives the beach its name. Those who pass by often take a handful of the clay and spread it on their bodies. Clay packs draw out toxins and are beneficial to your body. These girls were so sweet and allowed me to photograph them as they applied the clay. Block Island 2013 279

Here are the girls again before their walk back up the shoreline to Mansion Beach. Cute!

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Here is a bit of information about Clayhead Beach and Preserve: Clayhead Beach and Preserve

Peculiarities – In Love with Bugs/Dragonflies, Hoverflies and Bumblebees

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Dragonfly on Stick

I’ll admit I’ve always been in love with bugs. They are fascinating. Many of the ones I’ve included in this post are beneficial to have in your yard. Dragonflies, beyond their amazing beauty, are voracious mosquito-eaters. Hoverflies, besides sipping nectar from flowers, are a predator of aphids. Bumblebees, in their velvety jackets, are amazing pollinators.

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