Peculiarity – Lens Artist Challenge/Antique Planter

I’m taking part in the Lens Artist Challenge. It’s rare now for me to post twice in a day, but I have been waiting to use this macro photo and today the challenge seemed to present the right time to do so.

This is a cull/waste glass gathered from the earth after laying buried for well over a hundred years. Bits and pieces were dumped decades ago when the town was founded on a thriving glass industry. It is smaller than a dime. I posted more about this and where this piece, along with many others, lay in the ground: The Woods.

I collected this piece of glass a few months ago, studded with sand and bits of earth, and placed it in a plastic container with some mosses until I had time to create a terrarium. Two months later, I finally got around to the terrarium, and was surprised to find delicate lichens growing on the glass. Amazing.

Peculiarities – Seventeen Year Cicadas

Seventeen Year Cicada

The seventeen year cicadas are on their way back. They certainly are a novelty, if not a peculiarity. Strange thing though, although they are forecasted to emerge in my Mid-Atlantic area, they made a showing in 2013. I documented it here on my blog: Seventeen Year Cicadas.

I don’t recall seeing many in my town in 2013, just the ordinary thrumming bug that shows up each year. I decided the prediction of an emergence was a mistake. The prediction wasn’t in error, I was wrong; on a camping trip we found the area swarmed with the orange-dark green insects. The video was taken in Belleplain State Forest, which proves the point in the following link that cicadas are mainly found in wooded areas. “The Cicadas are Coming.”

The cicadas can damage new branch growth. They feed by sucking sap from tender twigs, while the nymphs in the ground feed by sucking juices from plant roots.

As I was trying to figure out how seventeen years have passed since 2013, I came upon an article that explained the phenomenon – Magical Early Cicadas. It seems there are different ‘broods’ of cicadas, hatching at different times. The article also explained that seventeen year cicadas that emerge ahead of schedule are called stragglers. I’ll be watching for them, and hopefully, as in the last brood that hatched, they will not visit my gardens, but stay in the forest where they belong.

Peculiarities & Phlutters – Strange Beginnings

A few days ago my husband called to me, “There’s a butterfly in the chipmunk trap.” When I looked inside the empty trap there sat a butterfly on the bottom grate. We’ve trapped several of the destructive chipmunks in the past few weeks, but a butterfly inside was quite a surprise. I opened the trap, offered my index finger, and the butterfly climbed aboard. I thought it would fly away, but instead it dropped to the ground. The butterfly seemed newly hatched. I let it climb onto my finger again and placed it on a bush, leaving it there to dry its wings.

I went back and checked the trap, turning it upside down. Attached to the roof was the remains of the chrysalis. I have no idea how it survived the chipmunks as they attempted to escape the trap.

I am assuming the lucky butterfly survived. A day later, I saw a black swallowtail flitting about the yard. Amazing! I think, last Autumn, when I was saving late season caterpillars, this one traveled from my porch into the garage. The chrysalis was there all winter inside the trap. A strange beginning for sure!

Psalm & Peculiarities – Sky Surprises

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” ~ Psalm 19:1

The sky was full of God’s glory this morning; the moon visible against the brilliant blue of the heavens.

The geese noisily serenaded the morning as they flew toward the local lake.

The birds perched on the pines and added their songs.

An odd sound whooshed into the morning chorus. A hot air balloon moved across the sky, probably on its way to programs at Rowan University, only a mile or two from my home.

The balloon flew close enough to zoom in on the people in the basket.

God bless you on this Sabbath Day.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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



Peculiarities – He’s Back!


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.


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 – The Mantis Whisperer


I spotted him first atop the vitex tree.


He let me get close…closer…closest…


…and even seemed to strike a few interesting poses.


When I offered him my thumb, he climbed aboard…


…and seemed quite amused when I placed him on a bright zinnia as a backdrop for a photograph. Did I say I love praying mantis? I do. 😀


Peculiarities – Featherless Cardinals


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 – Spring?

What lies beneath the blanket of snow? Pansies!
What lies beneath the blanket of snow? Pansies!


Persian Carpet Pansy
Persian Carpet Pansy

Fortunately, pansy plants and flowers are extremely hardy and won’t mind a day or two of snow. Brush the flakes away and there, pert as can be, are the whiskery faces of the flowers.

Persian Carpet Pansy
Persian Carpet Pansy

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


“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.


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!