Earlier his week while I was walking around the church yard, I spotted a common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) in bloom. Michael (a youngster in our congregation) was tagging along, and he spotted this goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia) on the plant before I did.

Goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia)

Goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia)


These spiders have the ability to change their color from white to yellow, and all shades in between. They will typically match the color of the petals, but I have seen them match the color of a flower’s styles as well. Tricky little beasts they are!

Here are some other shots I have taken this week.

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)


Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum)

Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum)


Yet Another Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Yet Another Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)


Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata)

Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata)


St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)

St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)


My week has been a little off. On Sunday we took Beth up to Maine for summer camp. We haven’t heard from her since then, which feels pretty weird. I have enjoyed the quiet, but I have missed my little girl! I will go fetch her on Sunday.

I’ve been riding my bicycle some this week. Wednesday I got it out and turned left out of my driveway to ride straight up a long, steep hill. It goes up and up and up for about a mile. That will take the wind out of any guy with too much tummy. The ride down was over in an instant though.

One of the things I want to be able to do is ride my bike into Franklin and then back. Not that there’s anything so great about Franklin – it’s just a destination.

When I got home I looked at some topographic maps with the idea that if I had turned right (downhill) out of my driveway instead of left (uphill), and then hung two more rights, I would be on Oak Hill Road, which also goes to Franklin, but it is closer to the river. I figure that since it’s closer to the river, it should have less in the way of hills. The topo confirmed this.

So on Thursday, I figured go I’d try going that route, although not all the way to Franklin. Instead, I was planning to do a circuit. The problem is that Oak Hill is connected to Shaw Rd (where I live) by Gile Rd, and that road climbs 60 meters in about a kilometer – 200 ft in a half mile. That is one steep, hill. It’s basically the sum of the hill I went up on Wednesday, plus the hill I’d go down leaving my driveway. But I did it anyhow. That climb was brutal. The circuit was 8.3 miles, which is pretty much all I can do when there are 10% uphill grades involved.

I did it again today.

I think when Beth gets back, we may have to try the trip to Franklin. If we stick to Oak Hill Rd, I think we can manage it. Especially if we stop for ice cream when we get to Franklin.

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I spent most of Sunday installing roof vents for the upstairs bathroom fans. When the house was built, they vented the fans out the soffits. That’s “standard practice” but that’s not the same as “good practice.” The problem is that when the warm steamy air is exhausted out the soffit, the next thing it wants to do is rise. So it does, and gets sucked right back into the attic via the soffit vents. This is exactly the same as venting the fans straight into the attic, and that will lead to a moldy attic. Which is what I have.

So I installed some vents in the roof which will solve that problem. When the steamy air exits the roof vents is rises into the sky rather than into the attic.

I didn’t take any pictures of that process. I was far more concerned with not falling off the roof, thank you. I did make a nice rope harness for myself and looped it over a vent pipe just in case. I didn’t end up needing it, but if I had, it would be a good thing to have.

Today I went into the attic and sprayed the moldy OSB with vinegar. That’s what the EPA seems to recommend. I should have waited one more day, because it’s raining now, and I wanted to check for leaks. Now there’s no way to tell rainwater from vinegar (I doused it pretty good).

Now on to more interesting things – wildflowers! These shots were all taken yesterday when I took a walk during lunch, or after I got home. We’ll start with this massive mullein.

Great mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Great mullein (Verbascum thapsus)


This was about three feet tall. They often get a lot taller than that when they send up their flowering spike, but this one hasn’t done that yet. This is all rosette, and I just haven’t ever seen a rosette this size.

Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)


Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is blooming all over the place here now. The genus name Achillea comes from Achilles, who purportedly carried a large supply of this herb with him into battle because of its healing properties. I can’t vouch for its healing power, but I will say it’s delightful to behold.

Rabbitfoot clover (Trifolium arvense)

Rabbitfoot clover (Trifolium arvense)


Rabbitfoot clover is not native to North America, but was imported as fodder for livestock. It is invasive in some areas, but it doesn’t seem like much of a problem where I see it.

Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)

Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)


This one is always delightful. The flowers are edible too, and I ate one of them (maybe this one!) before I left the area.

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp)

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp)


There’s a very long row of these along the railroad tracks. It is a hawthorn, but I don’t know which species. There are lots to choose from.

Some sorta sumac (Rhus spp)

Some sorta sumac (Rhus spp)


I have it in my head that this is staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), but I don’t know why (or if that’s accurate). I looked briefly at smooth sumac too, and haven’t ruled it out. It would probably be easy to tell if I went back with a field guide. Instead, we have to settle for guesswork.

Same sumac

Same sumac


This shot is from the same tree if not the very same blossom. Maybe we can tell from that.

Blue toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis)

Blue toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis)


I have no idea how this got the name “toadflax”. Apparently that’s also a common name for “butter and eggs” which we will see later in the summer (I promise!) – they are in the same family, and the blue toadflax was until recently considered to be in the same genus (Linaria) as B&E’s. I didn’t know any of that until this evening (thank you Wikipedia).

Now here’s one that I read was in bloom on someone else’s blog (don’t remember who!) so I went looking for it yesterday when I got home. Yup. Mine is just starting too.

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)


This is one of my favorites. I would have taken more time to set up the tripod and get a really nice shot, but the threaded insert I put in my tripod mount has popped out (taking with it a lot of camera body). I don’t know if I will ever manage a decent repair for that. Sigh.

When I came out of the woods I was surprised to find some whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia).

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)

Whorled loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia)


This is one of the first wildflowers I learned when I set out to learn all the flowering plants on my property. I remembered that the name Lysimachia was interesting, but I couldn’t remember why. So I looked in a book I started a few years ago (I really need to finish writing that) and found this:

It is named after Lysimachus, one of Alexander the Great’s generals. He was said to have fed a member of the genus to a bull to calm it down. The colonists must have heard this legend, because they used to feed this plant to their oxen to make them work together peacefully.

All I need now are some oxen.