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 & 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 – 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!