Tag Archives: Bees

The State of Joe at 56

We had the flag out for Labor Day weekend today, not for Joe BDay season. But it could have been. Redbud tree casts shadow on flag in later afternoon image.

We had the flag out for Labor Day weekend today, not for Joe BDay season. But it could have been. Redbud tree casts shadow on flag in late afternoon image.

I just checked—a line of severe thunderstorms is headed my way and may hit before I get done writing this blog post.

And yet, the thing that makes me most anxious is not that a tornado may swoop down, but that it’s 10:03 and I have not started watching “Project Runway” yet and I want to get it watched tonight before I go to bed.

So I’ll have to make this quick. Because, you know, either tornado or Heidi. You decide which is the bigger factor.

What is the state of Joe at 56?

Well, busy. Labor Day weekend comes just as fall semester starts taking off—and after just four days of classes, I have a lot of grading. Labor Day will mostly be a day of labor, because so far this weekend, I’m proud to say, I’ve done virtually nothing school related (unless you count piano practice, but I don’t suppose I should).

Busy native bees on flowers. I shot this as I was getting ready to mow the lawn on my birthday. I mowed, cut back some dead parts of a bush and planted some grass seed. I like spending time outside, so it was a good way to use part of my day.

Busy native bees on flowers. I shot this as I was getting ready to mow the lawn on my birthday. I mowed, cut back some dead parts of a bush and planted some grass seed. I like spending time outside, so it was a good way to use part of my day.

Friday I went to my first MMU track meet, which was a bit of unexpected fun. When my kids were in junior high track, a track meet meant hours of dull unexcitement in a cold and damp stadium in some featureless small town. The Mustang Gallop, however, was hanging out in a county park—and waiting for just two races, which started and ended very quickly. That’s not a bad way to have a track meet.

Saturday I had a bike ride with my wife. It was 23 miles, which is a substantial, but not very long, ride for me. Since she is not a biker, it was a big commitment to my birthday wishes on her part.

Then again, she goes to the gym a lot more than I do. She didn’t suffer any ill consequences, as far as I know. She did announce a desire to own biking shorts, which I think would be a good move.

I also mowed and planted some grass seed. Tonight’s storm may do some good.

Physically, I’m doing well. I’ve bounced back, I think, from my RAGBRAI exhaustion. My weight is not down, but not up. The struggle to control it, and thus keep my blood pressure down, is more important in my 56th year, but then again, I’m about 10 pounds lighter than my peak, so I’ve slowly started to lose some pounds.

Work is a mixed bag. I love being a professor and am thrilled with the reaction to the World War I series. On the other hand, I sure wish I had more PR and journalism students, and a newspaper editor would be nice.

So I guess the state of Joe is not too bad. And it only took me 10 minutes to write this. My birthday celebration got an early start Friday when a daughter was confused at the date and called me a day early. One of my sons was also confused and called me a day late. So, I guess that means my birthday this year was a 3-day season.

That is fine with me. Not a bad way to turn 56.

Wife is in the lead as we round the north end of Cedar Lake on our Saturday bike ride. Later, there was ice cream. It was a very nice ride.

Wife is in the lead as we round the north end of Cedar Lake on our Saturday bike ride. Later, there was ice cream. It was a very nice ride.

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The Bee’s Knees On Coneflowers

Bee looking at you on coneflower.

Bright-eyed native bee getting a drink of coneflower nectar.

I saw a butterfly on a coneflower today, and grabbed my good camera. I thought it might be a monarch, but couldn’t tell from the house—but when I got outside, it was gone.

What was still hanging around were some medium sized native bees. They make me slightly nervous because they’ll buzz at you and fly at you, and I just am not wild about being buzzed by a bee.

Hey, I'm not a butterfly, why are you taking my photo?

Hey, I’m not a butterfly, why are you taking my photo?

But I do like the coneflowers. I’ve tried planting other colors for variety, but so far only these purple ones have done well. I’d like to get a few other colors going, but honestly don’t mind that these spread. The side garden east of the house is full of blooms right now, and looks very nice.

Coneflowers are a bit prickly, but pretty, and also nice since they draw in so many butterflies and bees.

Bee with flowers

Showing a few more coneflowers.

I’ve tried collecting the seeds of this native plant to get a few started at the edge of the woods behind the house, with no success so far. Too much garlic mustard back there, I suppose.

But coneflowers looks pretty now, and will even be decorative over the winter when the stalks dry (which is one reason, besides laziness, why I don’t clean the gardens until late winter).

Bee flies away.

I’m out of here. Just be glad I’m not headed your way!

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Chasing the Bright, Elusive Butterflies and Bees


Morning shoot found few critters, but stalking the back yard was the neighbor's cat.

As we were getting ready for Amanda’s Baby Shower on Saturday, I snuck out for a while to photograph the gardens.

My idea was to capture some bugs on the flowers—we have cone flowers and butterfly bushes that attract a lot of visitors.

New gnome

New little gnome, gift from sister for watering her gardens during her trip to Boston. I plan for this little fern to be in the Times office at MMU, so new gnome won't get quite as weathered as many of his garden pals. Does gnome count as garden creature?

The bugs were not so interested. I got some nice flower photos, and cute pictures of granddaughter Lizzie playing in water on the back deck, but few bugs.

Well, it was a cool morning. Later that same day, after the shower, there was more bug life to see. Got some new monarch photos, a moth on the neighbor’s wall and some bees.

Cool. Good pictures come to those who wait. I’ve photographed monarchs before, but had the longer lens on the Nikon, and I think I got some better pictures. Besides those flickr images, here are more on Facebook.


Monarch on butterfly bush. More on Flickr in link at end of narrative blog post.


On neighbor's house, a month. Not the cat neighbor, other side.

And a bee ...

Final image, a bee.

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A Lily and a Bee for Father’s Day.

Bee in the back

Bee on hedge type bushes in back


First lily blooming in my garden for Father's Day.

My daddy was a gardener, but more into vegetables than I am. Still, his last garden at the final house he and mama owned in Muscatine was pretty heavy into rose bushes and other flowers.

Today, part of what I did to celebrate Father’s Day involved a quick photo tour of my gardens to see what’s blooming or about to bloom. Below are the results.

And, if you want to learn more about my daddy, see another memory note on my biking blog.









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A Bee In My Viewfinder


Amelia holds up her hand, zoom lens picked it out from 8 feet away.

Well, my new Nikon camera is making me feel young again, in a way. I’m re-discovering the joys of SLR photography.

On June 11, I started to play more with the “second” lens, a 55-200 mm zoom lens. One of the powers that photography has is to freeze a moment, another is to draw attention to a part of a scene, something that you see, but don’t notice. That power is magnified with a lens that magnifies, and I think my fingers photo of young Amelia makes that point.

Tristan and Wyatt

Tristan and Wyatt react to something the "balloon man" was doing at Marion farmers market.

I also like how I caught dad Wyatt and grandson Tristan with the same expressions.


Bee approaches flower of shrub near my house.

In the “freeze-action” category is the bee photo.

Spent peony.

Not a really pretty peony--obviously past it's prime, but I still like this image.

Well, it’s always fun to look at the world in a new way, and I hope these images are a bit interesting. I suppose I went way too far on the video—not being choosey enough with photos. I’ll try to edit more in the future, but today I was just playing to play.

Finally, I don’t have any Kodachrome film—it’s been taken away by digital photography. But, like Paul Simon, I do have a Nikon camera and I love to take a photograph! Video of that classic song.


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Of Course, It All Begins With Bees

Dr. Adam Ebert

Dr. Adam Ebert speaks about roots of "animal rights" movements March 16 at MMU.

19th Century England was an interesting place—the land of Lewis Carroll and Charles Dickens, a century that began with a powerful agrarian naval power vying with France for dominance and ended with an industrial giant that, for a brief time, ruled the world.

Into that interesting century entered one Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts, second richest woman in Europe (behind Queen Victoria). In her long life, which, like the queen’s spanned much of the 19th Century and into the early 20th, Angela funded many philanthropies, among them early animal rights groups.

Now, I’m not always a fan of the concept of “animal rights.” Human rights, at least in a political sense, exist so humans can self govern—animals don’t have that issue. Animals don’t take many steps to try to protect endangered humans.

(But, a smart person would interject, we’re in the middle of a species die-off as extensive and extreme as the one that wiped out dinosaurs, only the asteroid is us. Too true, but not my point here).

On the other hand, I’m not so species-centric to say that we have no obligations to animals.

But, I’m getting bogged down in my own conflicted attitudes to our finny, feathery and furry neighbors. Back to our story.

Dr. Adam Ebert, Associate Professor at MMU, gave an interesting lecture today as part of the university’s global issues series on “The Ethical Treatment of Animals in Western Culture.” Besides an interesting and very rich British lady who could fund many efforts that promoted animal welfare, changes paralleled other attitude shifts—such as the outlawing of slavery.

Dr. Ebert speaks about bees.

You lift the hive and gas the bees. Well, glad we have better ways to get the goods from these insects nowadays.

But it all began, Ebert said, with bees as “everything does.” Bit of an inside joke there, as Ebert is a bee keeper, but the 19th century practice of gassing a bee colony to collect honey was one of the first practices the new animal rights movement tackled.

Horses, too, were a symbol of the movement.

What did I learn, besides a cool new British name? Well, more than I’ll write here, but the connections and different attitudes of other times are always interesting.

As Ebert noted, we have our own frame of reference for how we think of the world. In a time when there was the suggestion that animals have rights, animals could also be charged with crimes.

He shows a drawing of a sow being hung for killing a baby. I suggested that other pigs in the area should have been gathered and forced to watch, except they might have decided, on the whole, that hanging wasn’t so different from having your throat cut for Bacon, and nasty old Mrs. Porker got to eat a baby in the bargain, too.

Well, while there are those Christians who like to cite scripture that gives humans “dominion,” let’s not forget that scripture also talks a lot about stewardship.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask that perhaps we can work a bit harder to show some respect for creatures whose DNA is not so different from our own—and, maybe, to wish that someday we can stop being the asteroid without some cataclysm having to happen to us first.


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