Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge: My favorite things, verse 2

We came late to Cee’s “My Favorite Things” challenge, catching it in verse 2.  While taking down the outside Christmas decoration a few weekends ago,  we were delighted to see that the folds of a big velveteen bow had become home for one of our favorite insects: the ladybug. Twice a year, they appear by the dozens inside the house and outside, scores of them cover the warm sidewalks and walls. They are generally beneficial insects, chowing down on aphids, but have also been known to consume monarch larvae. Read more about the multicolored Asian lady beetle: http://www.uark.edu/ua/arthmuse/asian.html.

ladybugs
We’re suckers for ladybugs!

 

Weekly photo challenge: Serenity

Finding serenity any time is a challenge, and this week it IS the challenge.  For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to capture the latest comet Lovejoy in pixels. Tonight’s effort was flustered by clouds, but one shot — a test shot setting up — seemed to hit all the right notes.  The soft light in the cloud,  the familiar pinpoints of starlight and the warm glow coming from the house next door all seemed to be a little bit of serenity.

1-19 NightSkyTrees

Other bits of serenity from this week’s challenge:

Things you didn’t know you had

The downtime between Christmas and New Year provides temporal space to start cleaning those things that may not merit daily attention, but languish in that to-do list priority category just above “limbo” or “someday.” Today it was a handful of glassware reserved for celebratory use and a compact flash card that somehow found a hiding place in the LowePro backpack.  Among the findings from the latter:

July 12, 2014, supermoon
Supermoon framed by pine trees. Taken July 12, 2014.
Indigo bunting in tree.
Indigo bunting preening. Taken July 13, 2014.
Upside down butterfly.
Butterfly hanging on the underside of an azalea branch outside the office window.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Warmth

This week’s photo challenge is all about warmth.

The sun, peeking out from under a cloud deck, gave the illusion of warmth on a morning with wind chills in the 20s. The shake on this hand-held seven-second exposure (shivering?) gave this an almost flame-like effect.

New Year's Eve sunrise.
New Year’s Eve sunrise.
Sunrise
What the sunrise looked like without the zoom and the camera shake.

Other eye warming entries:

Fall gallery

Gadzooks! We’ve been off WordPress for a month? Here’s a gallery for a little catching up on some of October’s sights.

Tarantula hawk

Tarantula hawks are both beautiful and gruesome. Their black bodies have a mesmerizing blue iridescence visible in bright sunlight, yet their curled antennae and orange wings make them seem somewhat cartoonish. Make no mistake, these wasps, while docile, have a sting that is described as “blinding, fierce [and] shockingly electric.” Their mode of reproducing rather ghoulish as well, with larvae eating its live tarantula host from the inside out until it emerges as an adult.

Tarantula Hawk wasp.
BOTTOMS UP — Tarantula hawk wasp worked hard to get every drop of nectar from this snakeroot plant.

Weekly photo challenge: Silhouette

Silhouette” has come up again as a theme for the weekly photo challenge. (The last time was in October 2012.) And again, we turn to our nearest neighbor, using its light to throw other objects in silhouette.

 

Setting moon obscured by clouds.
Narrow clouds in silhouette against the setting super moon of Aug. 10.

 

Almost bookends

We’ve seen a bit of unsettled weather in Arkansas over the last two days. Not ideal for meteor or Super Moon watching, but the sunrises and sunsets have been spectacular. These two are bookends for the last 48 hours.

Black silhouetted trees against cobalt and orange sky.
Sunrise on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014.
Black silhouetted trees against cobalt and orange sky.
Sunset on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014.