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Ever since I got a digital pentax slr I've had my eye on a particular macro lens. It's not even made by pentax, but it is prohibitively expensive: in the four to five hundred dollar range on Amazon, whenever I check. I checked eBay randomly a week ago, and found it for $275. I thought about what I really like to take pictures of--bugs and mushrroms--and how I've spent a lot of time and money trying to find a reasonably priced way to do it. I bought the lens. Here is the first photo I took with it, a strawberry in our garden.
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It's nice to realize that there are still unseen places to discover in a city as small as Boston; I've lived here since August of 1987. This is a chunk of the Stonybrook Reservation that at least one community group would like to see renovated and converted into a dog park.
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All-white gilled mushrooms coming directly from dead wood? Oyster mushroom, you have to say. But not exactly--this one gets associated with the oyster group because of its similarities, but has some important differences. This mushroom with its all-white almost translucent flesh always feeds on dead conifers. (True oyster mushrooms will grow on almost anything--I grew some on my junk mail.)
These beauties are more accurately called "angel wings" Pleurocybella porrigens. Like the oyster mushroom, these have been collected as food for ages--plus they are easy to identify and hard to confuse with much else. Unfortunately, it turns out they are toxic, containing a cytotoxic fatty acid. There have been fatalities, mostly of elderly people in Japan who happened to also have pre-existing kidney problems.
Younger people with healthy kidneys may be able to eat moderate amounts of angel wings without health problems--but modern field guides play it safe, listing this formerly "edible" species as "poisonous."
"Pleuro-" means side, and "porrigens" means extending forward, both refer to the way the mushroom emerges straight out from the side of its substrate. The -cybella part is a bit of mystery. The spelling is close to Cybele, an ancient mother/nature goddess, but the pronunciation suggested puts it closer to "sibella," a Greek word meaning "prophetess."
Jim surprised me by going belly-up for Diana Ross. This is how he usually greets Maggie, as an appeasement gesture.
Alexis looks fetching in her Jonathan Coulton t-shirt and Fiona Apple sun hat.
Fiona is shocked and honored that Jim is approaching her with his ball--he tends to bark at new people until he likes them. This is good stuff, him asking her to play with him.
Alexis is my go-to dragonfly identifier. She's studied the book, and has a good grasp of where to look on these things to tell them apart from one another. She was able to tell at a glance that this was probably a young male meadowhawk. Meadowhawks (genus Sympetrum*) are smallish dragons that are often found in fields (and suburban yards) far from water. Adult males are bright red, but females and young males are less colorful.
She was able to determine very quickly that this was one of the meadowhawks that represents a trio of species that are nearly impossible to tell apart, without a dissecting microscope aimed at their ... abdominal appendages. There is some thought that at least two of the three species are only one species previously described as two. We will content ourselves by saying that this is either Sympetrum internum**, S. obtrusa***, or S. rubicundulum****.
* "With rock" possibly referring to being found in habitats far from water
** "Interior" -- an anatomical descriptor?
*** "Sticking out" probably a reference to the white face of the adult male of this species
**** "Miniature ruby"
We had a brief one night engagement with Calvin, a nervous goofy dog a little older than our usual fosters. Charlie got along with him pretty well, but Maggie took an instant dislike to him.
After several hours of solicitous play bowing, Maggie decided she liked him and wanted to play with him. After his real foster picked him up, Maggie was looking for him and acting like she wanted to play.