I found out yesterday that Beth and the neighbor kids have been catching frogs and keeping them in a 14 gallon tote out in the yard. They’ve been feeding them bugs. I went and had a look, and saw that the largest of them (a green frog, Rana clamitans) was not the picture of health:

R. clamitans with a diseased foot

R. clamitans with a diseased foot


Maybe I should call that a gangrene frog. I questioned her and found that they’ve had these frogs incarcerated for about a week. I told her that was not good for the frogs and pointed to this one as a prime example. After I took its portrait (fit more for an amphibian medical journal than for a blog), we took them the the catchment pond where they were captured and set them free.

They had three species in there, or maybe four. R. clamitans cell mates included a couple of American toads (Bufo americanus), two spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), and perhaps a bullfrog – I couldn’t tell if they were bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) or green frogs, because they were pretty young and hadn’t developed ridges yet.

So it looks like the frogs are making a come back at my pond now that I don’t have neighbors draining it out on me or hiring pest companies to poison my yard. And I’ve told Beth I don’t mind if they catch frogs as long as they don’t keep them incarcerated over night. Catch and release girls!

Check out Va’s hydrangeas:

Hydrangea

Hydrangea


I don’t usually photograph cultivated plants, but these are so blue this year, I couldn’t resist.

After church today Beth and I stayed behind to help two of the girls in my Pathfinder Club. They had not finished all their classwork before the year ended, so I helped them finish it up. All they need to do now is memorize the books of the Old Testament, and they will have earned the Friend rank.

When Beth and I were almost home, we met David and Penny on the road. David recognized us, but Penny did not. I tried to be inconspicuous in case David did not want Penny to chase us excitedly down the road the the house. But I guess David did want her to do that, because he told her “It’s Dad!” and Penny knows exactly what that means. She practically dragged David down the road to the house.

Beth and I changed clothes, and we joined David and Penny for a walk to Sandogardy Pond. Beth swam. David threw sticks for Penny, and I went looking for blooms. I happened to notice a couple with a teenage boy walking along the beach and staring intently into the woods. The dad looked like he was taking notes. I kept an eye on them. Shortly, the mom and the teen ducked into the woods – right where I know a geocache to be located. I approached the Dad and asked, “Looking for a geocache?” He answered with a definite “Yup!”

I told him that the cache they were after was the first one I had ever found. Pretty soon the conversation turned to fish, and from there to plants. He said that plant identification is a new hobby for him, and that he was particularly interested in edible wild plants.

He also told me that he had been looking for wintergreen for an eternity, and when he finally found out what it was, he realized that it had been staring him in the face for a long time. It’s everywhere around here (and a few have begun to bloom this week).

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbnes)

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbnes)


Then he asked if I knew where to find Indian cucumber root. Indeed, I did! The biggest patch I know of was less than a hundred yards away, and they had just walked past it. We headed back into the woods and I showed it to him.

I dug one up and handed him the tuber. He broke a piece off for himself and for his son, and then handed me the remainder. It wasn’t very big at all – just a taste really. He asked for a small piece back again so he could give it to his wife (she did not follow us into the woods). They were very nice people!

After they left, I went back to the dock and saw some bullfrogs.

Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)

Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)


This was the biggest one of them, and it was not all that big. The others were probably less than a year old (and a lot harder to get close to).

On the way back to the house, I noticed an uncommon milkweed:

Tall milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)

Tall milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)


This species of milkweed is a new one to me, and the id is tentative. I believe there’s another like it growing next to my mailbox, and I was sure I had tagged it in my photo manager with its species name in the past – but the only milkweed in my list is the common milkweed.

So not only did I meet some fellow geocachers and another edible wild plant enthusiast, I got to see a new plant too!

The pastor came over this evening and talked with us (mostly Beth) for about an hour. She has a green light for her baptism on August 1, yay!

It has rained most of the day. Normally, that doesn’t stop me from going outside, but today, I guess maybe it did. Well, actually there were other things that kept me indoors today. I worked through lunch so I could come home early and help get the house straightened for our visit. And then when I got home, I helped straighten. So no ventures out, and no photos today.

I’ve been going through the photos I took over the past couple of days though. There is some sort of lobelia we have growing in our yard, and there’s more of it down at Sandogardy. It’s difficult to photograph because it’s tall and narrow, so the camera doesn’t seem to “see” it, and focusses on something behind it. I could do a manual focus I guess, but I’m not very good at that. Sometimes I’ll put my hand in the scene so it can focus on that, then move it out of the way for the photo. I get mixed results with that approach. Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll make a concerted effort to take a picture of that lobelia so I can send it off to Mr Smarty Plants and get an id. I think it might be Lobelia spicata, but I’m not sure. I’d post a pic tonight, but… none of them are any good!

The other thing I noticed while going through my photos was that I had a bullfrog in the catchement pond last week. There were three frogs in there all at once, and two of them were green frogs. Since that’s what we always have in there, I assumed all three were, but one was definitely a bullfrog. I retagged the photo. Here he is:

Bullfrog (Rana catesebiana)

Bullfrog (Rana catesebiana)


Looks like a male to me. Otherwise, I guess we’d hafta call it a cowfrog? (Sorry!)

Tonight after dinner, Va wanted to mop the floors. That means Penny has to be evacuated from the house for about 90 minutes while she does that (allowing time for the floor to dry). So I took her and the camera down to Sandogardy. I also brought my big tripod.

I was just down there Saturday, so I wasn’t expecting anything new. I set up and took several shots of some Spotted Water Hemlock (Cicuta Maculata).

Spotted Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata)

Spotted Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata)


This shot came out semi-OK. I was having difficulty because the light was a little on the low side and it was a bit windy. Low light dictates slow shutter times, and wind causes motion which dictates fast shutter times. I did the best I could. I guess.

While I was doing that a couple of guys came down the hill dragging a john boat. They asked what I was taking pictures of and I told them. I also noted that this was probably the most toxic plant native to North America. That piqued their interest! This stuff can kill a full grown cow in as little as 15 minutes. It can kill people too, and sometimes it does when it is mistaken for wild parsnips or wild carrots. That’s not a mistake a person is likely to repeat, as it is generally fatal.

After I showed them the plant, they thanked me, got in the boat, and went fishing. I headed down the beach looking for more blooms. I found this huge bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana).

Huge Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)

Huge Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)


This guy was about six inches long, head to tail. I guess he’d have been a foot long if he had stretched out his legs. The size is one way to tell these from Green Frogs (Rana clamitans), which are a lot more common around here. But young Bullfrogs can be the same size as Greens. You can still tell them apart by observing the two ridges that originate behind the eyes. In the Green Frog, these run down the length of the back. In Bullfrogs, they wrap around the tympanic membrane (that large circular thing behind the eye). That’s actually the frog’s eardrum. In females, the timpanic membrane is about the same size as the eye, but in the male, it’s much bigger. So I guess we have a male here. This is the only frog species in which I can distinguish male from female.

The other thing I did tonight is read a transcript of the Apollo 11 landing. As an engineer, I find this stuff pretty fascinating. The computers they had on the lander were very primitive compared to what we have available to us today, but I have actually worked with some systems that were bound by similar constraints: almost no memory; slow clock rates; primitive user interface; programmed in assembly. Yup. I’ve worked on those before, but even the ones I worked with were vastly more powerful than the Apollo 11 equipment. Still, it gives me an insight that I think most software engineers today lack. You had to be careful with resources!