29 July, 2018

Belize in November and London in July

Back in November, when Barnie was still an only dog, the 2 of us went on a walk along our seaside jungle path.
Barnie, running ahead of me.
We came across a patch of intersting mushrooms called stinkhorns in the genus Phallus - you can see where that name came from.  They are called stinkhorns because, depending on the species, they smell strongly or subtly of carrion to attract insects.
The cap, called the gleba, is covered with spore-filled grayish-green slime.  The beautiful lacy skirt is called the indusium.  The indusium of this specimen is a little torn.
 I'm not sure which species this is, it may be P. indusiatus.  
Perhaps this P. indusiatus, although the skirt looks more delicate than what is shown in online photos.

Most of the spore-filled slime has been eaten off this particular stinkhorn.

Quite a few ants going for these spores and a fly is waiting nearby to have its share.
These stinkhorns are pretty ephemeral, lasting for only a day or 2.  I was glad that I spotted them while they were still fresh looking.  You can learn more about stinkhorns here.

I also spotted a very pretty earthstar mushroom in the genus Geastrum.  They are little puff balls and emit a cloud of powdery spores when hit by raindrops or a curious finger.
Geastrum - stars on earth. 
Oddly, Barnie shows very little interest in mushrooms.  ;-)

And now for something completely different.

More recently, I was in the UK for a 2 week holiday in July with my 2 sisters, their husbands, and my brother.  Dennis was not able to join us; he stayed home with Barnie and Clove while I was off gallivanting with my family.  We started off in London for 2+ days and stayed at ABC Hyde Park Hotel in Paddington.
The garden area in front of the hotel.
The modest hotel had clean rooms and included a generous breakfast selection. Not really a place where you would hang out except to sleep and bathe, but located quite near Paddington Station and walking distance to good restaurants and pubs.
Green space near the hotel.
The first full day, we went to Kew Gardens for a large part of the day and then to St. Martin's in the Field for dinner in the Crypt followed by the main event of the evening - a delightful concert.

Kew Gardens was fantastic, although the grounds were a bit dry - we noticed the dryness and the heat during our entire trip.  But I could have kicked myself because I hadn't checked to make sure my new camera was fully charged.  It must have gotten turned on while I was packing it and that drained the battery.  So for Kew, I had to use my little Ipod camera.  But the images below give a hint of the beauty.
A tempting glimpse inside the newly renovated Temperate House.
One of the main objectives at Kew was to see the Temperate House.  It did not disappoint.
Classic design.

Display of bold coleus plants.

Fabulous leaf color.  Who needs flowers?

View from the catwalk.

Tree fern from above.

Delightful waterfall and pool.
We also did the Tree Top Boardwalk, gift shops, and had a tasty lunch at one of the cafes.  We could have spent days exploring, but alas, we had to get back to the hotel before setting out on the evening's adventures at St. Martin's andTrafalgar Square.  And I got to retrieve my now fully-charged new camera.

First, we cruised past the National Gallery.
Walking up the steps to the gallery.
And spent a few minutes in Trafalgar Square.

Behind Nelson in the square.
 And on to St. Martin's for dinner in the Crypt before the concert.
Street scene with street artist sketching 2 young boys in the foreground, school-age tour group with red backpacks, and St. Martin's in the background.
The interior of the church is very lovely and we had terrific seats for the concert - The Festive Orchestra of London performing Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi by candlelight.
Architectural detail over the altar.
The music was amazing , transporting the audience away from the sweltering heat. After the concert, we spent a few more moments enjoying Trafalgar Square at dusk.
National Gallery at dusk from Trafalgar Square.
Another item high on my list of things to see were the lions around the base of Nelson's column.
Stately animal. 
On relaxed guard.

And so our first full day ended with a stop at a pub on our way back to the hotel.

24 July, 2018

Return From Sabbatical

Wow - almost 9 months since I last posted in my blog.  Finally I am ready to start again after that long, self-imposed sabbatical.  Regarding my last post, Bill got it right; I was in Dallas for cataract surgery.  I figured the photo of the big eye in downtown Dallas was a good image for the location and for the occasion.  The surgery went very well.  I chose to have the surgery performed by Dr. Robert Bowman at the University of Texas SouthWest Medical Center because of his extensive experience with implanting a relatively new kind of lens (Restor Multifocal, for those who are interested) for which I hoped I would be a good candidate.  For many people, the lenses eliminate the need for corrective glasses except for super close work like threading needles or such.  Since Dr. Bowman had also successfully performed cataract surgery on a gorilla at the Dallas Zoo, I figured he could cope with me just fine.  And he did.  I am so pleased with the results.  I only need non-prescription reading glasses with fine print in dim light or for high resolution photo-editing on the computer. 

So much to catch up on since last October, including but not limited to following topics:

Plants In Our Garden.  A good year for the passion fruits, which make a delicious juice.

Construction and Maintenance Projects.  We screened in the lower level and put new cane up for the "flow-through" walls.

Wild Life Observations.  This poor little hermit crab was using a plastic bottle lid for a home.  I supplied a shell and it made the switch to a new, more appropriate home.

Visits with Friends and Family.  Dennis and Melanie preparing to toast with our passion fruit flavored sparkling Pinot Grigio.

The New Puppy.  Clove, a little rescue puppy, on day 2.  At only 4 lbs, she was mostly skin, bones, worms, and mange mites.

Clove.  Growing fast.

Clove meets Barnie - love at first sight.

Progression Through the Seasons.  Winter Sunrise.

Holiday with Family.  Organ pipes in St. Martins in the Field, London.

More Family Holiday.  Trafalgar Square at dusk.
The last 2 shots were taken with my new camera; more about it later, too.

I am happy to be blogging again and I hope a few readers are still hanging around.