I had to go to the bank today, so while I was out I did a lap around my usual lunchtime walk. The silver maple in front of the Holiday Inn was in full bloom:

Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)


It’s not a very spectacular flower, but I like it anyhow.

Yesterday I noticed that a crocus near my office had bloomed. I was on my way to the grocery store to get a pie for Pi Day when I noticed it, but I didn’t have my camera. I swung by today with the camera, but the flower had closed. Oh well.

When I set out for the pie, I thought I might try the bakery downstairs from my office. I asked the lady there if they had pie, and she said no – but lots of cake. Then she asked, “Does it have to be a pie?” Since I was getting it for Pi Day (March 14, or 3-14, as in pi ~= 3.14), I said, “Yes, it has to be a pie.” Then she surprised me by asking, “Is this for that Pi Day thing?” Wow. I guess Pi Day is famouser and famouser now.

Just in time for me to embrace tau (which is two times pi, and a much better number). There is a manifesto, but I will spare you. Suffice it to say that I think a lot of people would be less confused if we used tau (the ratio of a circle’s circumference over its radius) instead of pi (circumference over diameter).

Tonight was Chess Night again, so I took David to the community center for that. He won all his games tonight. Va took him to the library for chess on Monday, and he played a two-hour game against a guy, ending in a draw. He has still not been defeated.

While he played chess, I did a little shopping. I bought three gallons of wood glue, some cheapo paint brushes, a large sheet of plastic, some paint buckets, and some masking tape. This is, of course, all for the Pathfinders’ cardboard boat. I hauled a bunch of cardboard from the office to the church on the way home. Construction begins on Sunday.

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Here are some photos I took last weekend. Since I don’t have a lot of things to say this evening, I thought I’d let the pictures do the talking instead.

Unidentified, but very red mushroom

Unidentified, but very red mushroom


Unidentified mushroom

Unidentified mushroom


I like the way this one reminds me of a fan – you know – the type kids make by folding paper.
Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)

Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)


I liked the color on this leaf.
Western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis)

Western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis)


After I took this photo (and many others) Beth and I captured this bug. I have identified it as a western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis), and I think that’s probably correct. It eats pine sap, so we added some very resinous pine cones to the jar we put it in. It has now survived in captivity for six days and is showing no signs of flagging.

The jar itself is a one-pint mason jar, but instead of using the metal disk in the lid, we are using a couple of folds of paper towel. The bug can’t get out of that, and it lets air go though easily enough. I like that setup.

It snowed here last night – we got about an inch. It’s mostly gone now, but the deck is still covered with slush. I didn’t get any photos though, because I didn’t wake up until it was time to leave the house. Then we had to rush Beth through the morning routine, leap into the car, and get moving. She was only two minutes late for school, so I guess that wasn’t too bad.

We are supposed to get another six inches of snow tomorrow evening. We still have plenty of foliage on the trees too, and the weather predictors are saying that’s not a good thing. More leaves mean more wet, heavy snow will be caught by the trees. They are expecting lots of tree damage (and power outages) as a result.

I will surely get some photos of the snow if it comes.

On Monday a friend and I spent part of the day replacing some trees at the church. We had bought eight trees last September – four red maples, and four red/silver hybrids. I dunno if we have McCarthyites around us or not, but it seems like “better dead than red” was the rule of the day. None of the red maples survived.

Luckily, the trees were guaranteed for a year, but that year was almost over. So we hustled over there, got a refund, and bought some replacement trees. This time they are all red/silver hybrids.

The plan is to have an iron fence about five feet from the tree line, between the trees and the road. Somebody else had already dug about 20 fence post holes. I don’t know who it was, but it was done several weeks ago. The reason I bring it up is because each and every hole now has exactly one Argiope spider living in it.

Argiope trifasciata

Argiope trifasciata


Argiope autantia

Argiope autantia


I didn’t have my camera on Monday when we planted the trees, but I did have it today, so I took several shots. These are the best I was able to do (though I think I could do better).

These spiders are huge. Their bodies are pushing two inches. Add in the legs, and they are easily four inches long. Big as they are, they are also perfectly harmless.

I do not yet have a positive id on them. I’ll post to Bugguide later for that. But in the meantime, you can enjoy these.

I have detected three plant species in bloom today. The crocuses I’ve already written about, so that’s one. The grape hyacinths (that I thought might be another variety of crocus) have not opened yet, so those don’t count. It only counts if the flower can be pollinated, and for that to happen, the blossom must open.

The second one I found was the infamous Taraxacum officianale, more commonly known as the Dandelion, and the third was Acer saccharinum, or what we naturalists call, the Silver Maple. I was somehow expecting the Red Maples (Acer rubrus) to bloom before the silvers, but didn’t really have a good reason for that. I didn’t catch the beginning of either’s bloom season last year, noticing that they had been in bloom well after they both started. Sugar Maples should come after both though. Those are hard to miss if you know what to look for. Sugar Maples have green flowers (not many plants do), so unless you’re paying attention, you could easily mistake them for leaves.

I found these while I was out for a walk today after eating my fourth-to-the-last Veggie Patty. I also saw what I expect is going to turn out to be some daffodils, but like the hyacinths, they have not yet opened, so they do not count. I logged all the “counting” ones at the Bloom Clock, but I have not detected anyone else there doing the same yet. Maybe it’s a dying project, I dunno. I haven’t heard a peep from the principal investigator yet either. So if any of my readers want to join in the fun, I implore you to do so.

I really enjoy identifying the plants, and logging the blooms gives me something to look for when I go for a walk. More than that, it gets me out of my chair more often than I otherwise would, and that’s good for my health. Walking good. (In moderation.) Sitting bad. (In excess.)