Monthly Archives: July 2009

Woodstock — Forty Years Ago? Wow….

Woodstock Poster

Woodstock Poster

 

My friend Kathy and I took a photography class in a Wichita, Kansas, high school during the summer of 1969.  Mark, one of the other students, told us about an outdoor three-day music concert he was going to in New York state after the end of classes.Woodstock album  He was sketchy on the details, but it sounded like they’d have to sit on the ground. No chairs!

Always practical, I asked him:  “Where are you going to stay?” 

He shrugged.  “We’re going to sleep on the ground, I guess.”

“That doesn’t sound like much fun,” I said.  This is why I miss out on a lot of cool stuff. 

Of course, afterward I was one of the millions who bought the album and watched the movie and lived the experience vicariously in my warm, mud-free living room. 

Decades later, my friend Anita, who lived in upstate New York at the time, and I visited the city of Woodstock, a charming little town, where we tried to imagine what it would have been like to make the journey in 1969 and be a part of rock n’ roll history.  

History of Woodstock Festival.

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Filed under Entertainment, History, Life, Movies, Music, Personal

Malcolm Meets Rupert

Malcolm (orange) meets Rupert (gray), the newest member of our family.  We found Rupert in the discount bin, something Malcolm could probably identify with if he could think past yesterday.  Rupert's primary job is picking up after Malcolm, whose glorious red (or ginger) hair is all over the place.   Like Malcolm, Rupert needs a lot of grooming.

Malcolm (orange) meets Rupert (gray), the newest member of our family. We found Rupert in the discount bin, something Malcolm could probably identify with if he could think beyond naptime and Captain's Choice. Rupert's primary job is picking up after Malcolm, whose glorious orange (or ginger) hair is all over the place. Rupert needs a lot of grooming after roaming the floor. I think Malcolm is jealous.

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Filed under Cats, Family, Humor, Life, Personal, Pets

Kansas – The Nation’s Breadbasket

For years I've seen these signs along the highways in Kansas.  This sign is along Interstate 70.

For years I've seen these signs along the highways in Kansas. I convinced my husband to stop as we were speeding by the third one I'd seen, and I ran through the thick plant growth and took this photograph. This sign is along Interstate 70.

I was born in Virginia, but I’ve spent most of my life in Kansas.   Even though I’ve always lived in cities, I’ve never been far from fields of wheat, soybeans and corn. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture , Kansas is the top wheat producer in the United States.  (We’re number one!  We’re number one!)  This year, Kansas farmers harvested an estimated 360.8 million bushels, up from 356 million bushels last year.  Kansas farmers harvested 8.8. million acres this season, about 100,000 fewer acres than a year ago but achieving an average of one more bushel an acre in yield this year. 

Hurrah for the Kansas farmer and for Mother Nature for glorious weather!  Hurrah for farmers everywhere.

This wheat field  is in the city limits of Overland Park, Kansas, the largest city in Kansas, and part of the metropolitan Kansas City area.  It's surrounded by commercial development and is for sale, so eventually, you'll see cars here instead of crops. Too bad. I like seeing farm fields.  Last year, it was planted in soybeans.

This wheat field is in the city limits of Overland Park, Kansas, which is the second-most populous city in Kansas, and part of the metropolitan Kansas City area. It's surrounded by commercial development and is for sale, so eventually, you'll see cars here instead of crops. Too bad. I like seeing farm fields. Last year, it was planted in soybeans.


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Filed under Agriculture, Food, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Personal

Assassin in the Garden

A Wheel Bug hangs out on a bronze fennel, which is the home of one of his favorite meals, the soft bodies of Black Swallowtail Caterpillars.

A Wheel Bug, an assassin bug, hangs out on a bronze fennel, which is the home of one of his favorite meals -- Black Swallowtail Caterpillars. This is a young Wheel Bug, which hasn't yet formed the characteristic wheel protrusion on its back.

Every day, I watch the progress of the Black Swallowtail (BST) caterpillars on my huge bronze fennel plant, which is home to a lot of other insects, including this character (see photo) who seemed to be hanging out and doing nothing while sitting on a fennel flower.  Very suspicious.  I thought he was up to no good.  He gave me this look that said:  “Hey, Lady, Don’t look at me.  I’m just minding my own business.”  Yes, exactly. What was his business?  What did he eat?  He wasn’t sipping flower nectar like the bees and wasps and occasional butterfly.  I confess after a couple of days, I gave the fennel a shake and this bug tumbled to the earth.  The next day I saw him slowly making his way back to the top.  I don’t know how much I should interfere to protect “my” BST caterpillars. Was this a “good” bug or a “bad” bug?

I emailed Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas about this bug.  Jim Lovett replied: “Looks like an immature wheel bug to me (Order: Hemiptera; Family: Reduviidae)…if you’re not familiar with this bug be sure to check out some images of the adult. It’s a neat little critter that always captures people’s attention – “little” of course is relative; adults wheel bugs can be 1.5 inches long. They use that piercing/sucking beak to puncture their prey (and can inflict a painful “bite” on us humans if mishandled). FYI – all hemipterans (the “true bugs”) have piercing/sucking mouthparts.”

I asked whether this bug would eat a BST caterpillar.

 Jim’s answer:  “Yes, it would. It is a common predator on caterpillars (and other soft-bodied insects) of all sorts.”

Here’s a link Jim suggested: Wheel Bug.  The Wheel Bug is the largest member of the Assassin Bug family and is related to stink bugs.  Mean and smelly!  But useful, too, because they eat a lot of damaging caterpillars.

 The next day, the Wheel Bug disappeared and so did a few of my smaller BST caterpillars.  I hope Mr. Wheely didn’t eat my caterpillars! 

To learn more about butterflies and caterpillars, click on Monarch Watch.   My most recent post on raising BST and Monarch caterpillars is here:  Survivor — Caterpillar Version.

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Filed under Animals, Biology, Butterflies, Entomology, Environment, Gardening, Humor, Insects, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Natural History, Nature, Photography, Science, University of Kansas

Survivor — Caterpillar Version

My garden is full tasty plants to tempt butterflies to lay their eggs.  Finally, a black swallowtail butterfly slipped in and laid a few eggs on a bronze fennel.  I've been following their progress since before the caterpillars hatched, fretting over these gorgeous creatures and wondering how much I should interfere to keep away crab spiders, dragonflies and other predators.

My garden is full of tasty plants to tempt butterflies to lay their eggs. Finally, a black swallowtail butterfly slipped in and laid a few eggs on a bronze fennel. I've been following their progress since before the caterpillars hatched, fretting over these gorgeous creatures and wondering how much I should interfere to keep away crab spiders, dragonflies and other predators.

If you plant it, will they come?  Over the past two years, I’ve planted many kinds of coneflowers and milkweed.  I’ve planted bronze fennel, parsley, bee balm, butterfly bush, autumn sedum and more.  It’s a buffet for Black Swallowtail and Monarch butterflies and others.  But where are they?  I’m not getting much business.  Friends say that the butterflies will come, but it seems a slow year. Maybe a watched garden never produces.  Everything is lush and green, the flowers are blooming, come and get it!

I jumpstarted the process in May when I bought a Monarch caterpillar at the Monarch Watch open house in Lawrence, Kansas, where I also bought three kinds of milkweed.    “Reggie” (from the Latin rex, regis,  for king, a monarch…yes, it’s corny) chewed away for a day and then disappeared.  I hope he successfully moved on to pupation.

A month later in June, I found another Monarch caterpillar, one I didn’t have to buy.  I was thrilled, even though he was voraciously chewing up the one-month planted milkweed, leaving only a stem. I did plant milkweed just for the caterpillars to eat, but do they have to eat so much!  He was almost ready to pupate when I discovered him, and he had the appetite of a teenager!  I said:  “Hey, leave some milkweed for the others!”  Soon, the caterpillar was gone, hopefully moving on to the next stage and not in the craw of a robin.  The milkweed struggled, but finally a few new shoots appeared, and then it began to flourish.  Apparently, milkweeds “know” how to cope.

A Monarch butterfly flitted in and briefly landed on several milkweed plants.  Later, I discovered many eggs, each one laid on the underside of a leaf of different plants.  I watched the progress as the eggs hatched.  Here are two very small caterpillars from July 15, 2009.  Today (July 16) when I checked I couldn't find any caterpillars, so I don't know whether they were hiding or had fallen prey to other creatures.  It's a dangerous world out there!

A Monarch butterfly flitted in and briefly landed on several milkweed plants. Later, I discovered many eggs, each one laid on the underside of a leaf of different plants. I watched the progress as the eggs hatched. Here are two very small caterpillars from July 15, 2009. Today (July 16) when I checked found only one caterpillar, so I don't know whether the other was hiding or had fallen prey to other creatures. It's a dangerous world out there!

Since then, I’ve found eggs on the under side of  the leaves of three of my milkweeds, wondering how they could all support so many caterpillars. Well, I didn’t have to worry about that, because most didn’t survive.   Most seemed to hatch, leaving a tiny hole in the leaf where they were laid, but each day there are fewer and fewer caterpillars.  Will any survive to adulthood? 

The irony is that decades ago when I wasn’t even aware of this wonderful world of caterpillars, I found seven black swallowtail caterpillars on some parsley in my garden. I didn’t know what they were.  I was so horrifed, because I had this revulsion to creepy crawlie things, that I clipped off the “infested” stems and threw them all in the trash. Now, I’d think I’d won the lottery if I found so many BST caterpillars. (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating…)  I’ve regretted that act of destruction ever since.  And who even needs parsley! 

Now I hover over “my” caterpillars, wondering how much I should interfere.  Should I chase away the crab spiders and dragon flies?

For more information about growing plants for caterpillars and butterflies go to Monarch Watch.  To read about J. G.’s beautiful garden, which is a Monarch Waystation, go to my post: Life and Death in the Garden.  For my story on the Monarch Watch Spring 2009  Open House, click here.  Click on the title of the posts, and the stories with photographs will pop up.  Use my search box to find my other stories about butterflies and caterpillars.

I didn't discover this Monarch caterpillar until it was almost ready to pupate.  It ate the leaves of this milkweed so quickly and voraciously that it left only a stem.  I thought: Hey, leave some for the other guys!  I didn't think the milkweed, which I had recently planted, would survive, but it slowly recovered and grew new shoots, ready for the next batch of hatchlings.

I didn't discover this Monarch caterpillar until it was almost ready to pupate. It ate the leaves of this milkweed so quickly and voraciously that it left only a stem. I thought: Hey, leave some for the other guys! I didn't think the milkweed, which I had recently planted, would survive, but it slowly recovered and grew new shoots, ready for the next batch of hatchlings.

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Filed under Animals, Butterflies, Entomology, Environment, Gardening, Insects, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Natural History, Nature, Personal, Photography, Science

Robert Plant receives Commander of the British Empire Honor

 

Robert Plant with Prince Charles.

Robert Plant with Prince Charles.

  

(Photo by Johnny Green)
Former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant , right, receives his CBE from Britain’s Prince Charles during the investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London  on Friday, July 10, 2009.
Robert Plant Receives Commander of the British Empire Award.

Robert Plant Receives Commander of the British Empire Award.

Associated Press, July 10, 2009 — Robert Plant received a royal honor from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace on Friday, putting the former Led Zeppelin front man one notch above his old band mate Jimmy Page.

But, Plant joked he and Page would not be fighting over rank, even though Plant’s new Commander of the British Empire is a higher honor than Page’s Order of the British Empire.

“If we can remember each other’s phone number at this time in life it’s a miracle,” he joked. “We’re still good friends, we both enjoy a rather dark sense of humor that comes, I think, from being from rather the wrong side of the tracks for all those wild years.”

Plant opted not to take part in a Led Zeppelin reunion tour last year, choosing instead to concentrate on his collaboration with American bluegrass singer Alison Krauss.

Also receiving the CBE on Friday was English actress Liz Smith, 87, who appeared on the British TV series “The Royle Family.”

Link to my earlier post on Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin, my favorite band.

Link to my earlier post on “Sir” Robert Plant.

 

 

Robert Plant with his children Logan, left, Carman and Jordan on the right.

Robert Plant with his children Logan, left, Carman and Jordan on the right.

Former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant with his son Logan, left, daughter Carman and son Jordan, right, pose for a photograph with his CBE which he received from Britain’s Prince Charles during the investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London on Friday, July 10, 2009

 

 

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Filed under Entertainment, History, Life, Music

Kansas City Skyline on July 4, 2009

Kansas City Downtown July 4, 2009, Evening.

Kansas City Downtown July 4, 2009, Evening.

 

Kansas City Downtown July 4, 2009, Night.

Kansas City Downtown July 4, 2009, Night.

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Filed under Kansas City, Life, Personal, Photography

Old Cowtown Museum Celebrates Independence Day

"Abraham Lincoln" visits Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, Kansas, to celebrate Independence Day.  Lincoln actually did visit Kansas once before he was elected president.

"Abraham Lincoln" visits Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, Kansas, to celebrate Independence Day. Lincoln visited Kansas in 1859, before he was elected president. Tom Leahy, a 4th grade teacher in Conway Springs, Kansas, portrayed Lincoln. See his comment below.

 A few decades ago, when I was a Girl Scout I spent a week during a couple of summers as a tour guide at a living history museum called Old Cowtown in Wichita, Kansas.  There were only a few buildings in those days, and it was hot and dusty, but I loved it! 

 This past weekend, I returned with my family to experience it as a tourist.  Old Cowtown Museum has grown and become even more of an Old West experience.  Now, instead of Girl Scouts, there are professional costumed re-enactors and guides.  The buildings are almost all authentic from the late 1800s and show what a midwestern cattle town was like.  The buildings are also now air-conditioned….so you can re-live the past more comfortably.

 Special events are planned throughout the year.  This past weekend, the museum celebrated Independence Day 1870s style.  “Abraham Lincoln” visited. Of course, he’s an anachronism, but he did visit Kansas once before he was elected president.  Brass bands played, there was an old-style baseball game — Lincoln played third base, gun fights between cowboys and ranchers, dance hall girls, pie-eating contests, watermelon spitting, a bucket brigade and wagon rides.  My nephews are champion pie-eaters.  We drank sarsaparilla (root beer) in the saloon.

We visited a homestead and saw a half-day-old calf in the barn.  The mother wasn’t too happy with our interest in her baby.  I never knew a moo could sound so threatening.   Every time I tried to focus my camera on the calf, the mother tried to head butt me.  Fortunately, the rail was in the way. 

In the grand finale, a couple of cow pokes placed two anvils together and blasted the top one with dynamite in the anvil shoot, which was one old-time way to celebrate before fireworks were available.  People do love to blow up things to celebrate!

There were so many activities, we didn’t get a chance to visit all of the buildings, including the Munger House, which was the home of Darius Munger, Wichita’s founder.  I was the tour guide for the Munger House as a Girl Scout, so now I have to return to Cowtown just to re-live my old guiding days.  New since my tour days is the home of the Marshall Murdock, who vigorously promoted the town through his newspaper. There are dozens of buildings, including two churches, a school house, many stores and professional buildings, a train depot, saloon and homes.

To see more of the experience, see my YouTube slide show below, which shows a lot of the action.  You can also click on Old Cowtown Museum.  Check out the map of the town on the Cowtown website.

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, Education, Entertainment, Family, Gardening, History, Kansas, Life, Personal, Presidents, Travel