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[personal profile] connexionssouth posting in [community profile] connexions_so
 We only have a few people voting for the October event so far so we're going to keep it open until Monday night at 7:00 p.m. and then we'll declare what we're going to watch at the October Fandom Friday event. We will be showing the winning fandom on October 6 at 7:00 p.m. using Rabb.it.

https://goo.gl/forms/UM8g58agn5UudfII3

New Xena Vid: Airplane

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:11 pm
frayadjacent: Xena and Gab walking/riding away together, text says "Journeys" (Xena: Journey)
[personal profile] frayadjacent posting in [community profile] vidding
Title: Airplane
Fandom: Xena Warrior Princess
Vidder: [personal profile] frayadjacent 
Song: Airplane (edited for length) by The Indigo Girls
Characters: Gabrielle, Argo, Xena
Summary: Travelling with Xena is hard

Download and streaming at my journal

typographer: Me on a car in the middle of nowhere, eastern Colorado, age four (Default)
[personal profile] typographer
It's the fourth Friday in September. The last Friday that I will be my current age. September, that blesséd month, which brings us extraordinary babies.

I'm not sure whether we haven't quite recovered from last week's illnesses, or if all the rain has made plants go extra crazy with the pollen and just making my hay fever worse, but we have both been a bit out of it all week.

Anyway, here are the links I gathered this week, sorted into categories as accurately as I could.

Links of the Week



Jimmy Kimmel vs. Graham-Cassidy, Lying Liars, and the "Death to America" Crowd (That Would Be Today's GOP. And Yesterday's GOP. And Tomorrow's GOP.).

MY YEAR INSIDE THE INTERNATIONAL ALT-RIGHT.

This Teenager Saved Numerous People During Hurricane Harvey Using An Air Mattress.

The Week in Bisexual Awareness



7 Ridiculous Things NOT to Say to Bisexual Folks.

Science!



Celebrating and Mourning Cassini in Its Finale at Saturn.

Cassini’s own discoveries were its demise.

Glowing Red Eye: Cosmic Bubble Surrounds Odd 'Carbon Star'.

Archaeologists Discover Something Truly Bizarre in an Isolated Medieval Graveyard.

Hubble discovers a unique type of object in the Solar System.

Glowing slinky-like 'creature' is actually a mass of eggs.

This Extinct Frog Probably Ate Crocodiles and Dinosaurs.

Narcissistic Parents Are Literally Incapable Of Loving Their Children.

Octlantis is a just-discovered underwater city engineered by octopuses .

This Week in Natural Disaster



Mexico Earthquake: More Than 200 Dead as Buildings Collapse.

Nancy Reagan Visited Mexico After the Earthquake of 1985, and She Brought a Check.

Puerto Rico entirely without power as Hurricane Maria hammers island with force not seen in ‘modern history’.

Death toll climbs as volunteers join search for Mexico earthquake survivors.

Maria kills 15 in Dominica, leaves Puerto Rico dark for months.

Hurricane Maria leaves Puerto Rico powerless, at least 15 dead on Dominica.

This week in awful news



Male entitlement in action: Why the Texas shooting is a gender issue: Our culture still teaches men that women owe them affection — and that can have deadly consequences.

This week in awful people



White Campus Security Guard Shoots Himself, Then Blames Black Man Who Doesn’t Exist to Cover It Up.

News for queers and our allies:



Students Stage Mass Protest After High School Fails to Punish Transphobic Football Players.

This week in Writing



A Writing Punch List Can Keep You Focused as You Edit Your Manuscript.

This Week in Tech



World Wide Web Consortium abandons consensus, standardizes DRM with 58.4% support, EFF resigns.

YouTube has “no idea” why queer gaming videos are being barred from monetisation.

Culture war news:



Episode of an Animated Children's Show Gets Pulled From Netflix For Dick Drawing.

This week in the Resistance:



Pepe the Frog’s Creator Goes Legally Nuclear Against the Alt-Right.

This Week Regarding the Lying Liar:



Angry Right-Wingers Turn On Trump, Burn Their ‘Make America Great Again’ Hats.

Still no charity money from leftover Trump inaugural funds.

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Trump wants crude anti-LGBTQ activist as pick for federal judge.

News about the Fascist Regime:



Border Patrol Arrests Near Safe Zones Worry Immigrant Advocates.

This week in Politics:



Republican Leaders Defy Bipartisan Opposition to Health Law Repeal.

Republicans' new repeal bill would probably leave millions more uninsured, new analyses suggest.

Democrats' Unsolvable Media Problem.

This Week in Racists, White Nationalists, and other deplorables:



Undercover With the Alt-Right.

‘It’s gonna end with concentration camps’: Alt-right executive boasts of a future Europe with Hitler on their money.

Milo Yiannopoulos’ “censored” Berkeley event smells like a massive troll .

KUOW Interviewed That Nazi Who Got Punched and People Hate It.

This Week in Foreign Enemies



Facebook’s Heading Toward a Bruising Run-In With the Russia Probe.

Facebook Enabled Advertisers to Reach ‘Jew Haters’: After being contacted by ProPublica, Facebook removed several anti-Semitic ad categories and promised to improve monitoring.

Facebook to Share 3,000+ Russian-linked Ads with Congress.

Farewells:



The Tao of Harry Dean Stanton: Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Knowing “You’re Nothing”.

Harry Dean Stanton, ‘Big Love,’ ‘Twin Peaks’ Star, Dies at 91.

Bernie Casey (1939 – 2017), artist, actor, and athlete.

Boxing Legend Jake LaMotta, Real-Life ‘Raging Bull,’ Dead At 95.

Things I wrote:



Weekend Update 9/17/2017: Juggalos, Hillary book signing both outnumber Trump “mother of all rallies”.

A writer writes!

Angry men on buses — not all violence is equal.

Don’t try to obscure hate and violence with your false equivalence.

Defining one’s self vs being defined — adventures in dictionaries.

Videos!



Wonder Woman - Etta Candy Reminisces About Diana:



(If embedding doesn't work, click here.)

White Wedding (metal cover by Leo Moracchioli):



(If embedding doesn't work, click here.)

Toto - Africa (metal cover by Leo Moracchioli feat. Rabea & Hannah):



(If embedding doesn't work, click here.)

Sam Smith - Too Good At Goodbyes (Official Video):



(If embedding doesn't work, click here.)
typographer: Me on a car in the middle of nowhere, eastern Colorado, age four (Default)
[personal profile] typographer
It is Bisexual Visibility Week, but this post shouldn’t be about me. Because I’m not bisexual. But I happen to be married to a bisexual man and our social circle includes a lot of bisexual people. Bi-erasure is a real thing that I am at least adjacent to (and sometimes find myself really irritated about). But it is also something which I am guilty of contributing to...

(The rest of the Bi Visibility Week post is at FontFolly.Net.)

A sudden understanding

Sep. 21st, 2017 06:20 pm
maureenlycaon_dw: a thorn for the holy ones (Default)
[personal profile] maureenlycaon_dw

1m19s in. (Spoilers up the ass, watch out.)

Illidan's words gave me a long-overdue flash of insight. Over the course of six expansions, Blizzard has killed off most of the original lore characters that existed when Warcraft 3 finished -- the ones that led and helped us as well as the Big Bads. How does it plan to deal with this? What powerful NPC's will act to defend Azeroth now?

We now have the power to challenge gods and titans. And so this is what Blizzard has done, through Illidan's words: "From this day forward, the defense of our world -- of all we hold dear -- rests with you."

The dragonflights, the titans, even the naaru -- all have been pushed aside. They are no longer the guardians of the multiverse. We are, tawdry murderhoboes though we are. We no longer have immortal and supernatural beings to help. We no longer need them.

Now it’s up to us.
maureenlycaon_dw: a thorn for the holy ones (Default)
[personal profile] maureenlycaon_dw
After the election, most of them did something I would never have predicted: they seem to have drunk the Republican kool-aid.

Where once John Michael Greer, Jason Hepenstall, and their colleagues discussed the ongoing collapse, history, and advice, now they devote themselves to excoriating liberals, trans, and gay people, and doing amateur psycho-analysis of "Trump-haters". Curiously, they feel no need to defend Trump at all, or explain why they find all criticism of him to be a sign of mental illness. They do not even seem to be aware that they've undergone a sudden personality change. It's been heartbreaking, terrifying, and surreal.

From what I can glean of their motivations, one thing they consistently complain about is "identity politics" (a right-wing code word for the attempts of groups considered roughly subhuman in Western culture -- women, people of color, gays, and so on -- to fight for basic human rights). Greer has even railed against "social justice warriors" (he doesn't usually contract it to SJW's as members of the alt-right do). On the rare occasions when they sort-of clarify what they mean, they speak specifically of those who spend time and attention on rights for gays and especially trans people. Since few of these bloggers were especially homophobic before, this looks particularly bizarre.

Over the past few weeks, I think I have begun to understand what is going on.

Keep in mind that in their eyes, rights for a "small minority" is not an important matter. The grand sweep of civilization's ongoing slow collapse is.

To their minds, the most important and useful thing that the Democrats could push for would be to de-complexify -- drop those rules and regulations that keep people from living more simply on a lower energy supply, while demilitarizing, removing subsidies for fossil fuels and private automobiles, and above all reducing carbon emissions. The other big project that they think would actually help would be a gradual return of manufacturing to the US, restoring the economy of the Midwest and the Rust Belt -- which they think would also win back the former blue-collar workers to the Democratic Party. (Remember that these people have become vicious homophobes, racists, and stigginit Trump supporters. In the eyes of the collapsitarians this is a perfectly understandable response to being ignored by the Powers That Be. Greer in particular has always idealized the "working class" to an unrealistic degree.)

The Republicans, obviously, are not going to do this. Thus, these bloggers mostly complain that the Democrats aren't doing it. The view they seem to have adopted is that if only the Democrats in Congress hadn't gotten distracted and thrown their limited energy into human rights instead, it would have happened already.

I'm sure you can point out reasons why this just isn't so -- the former blue-collar workers have become rabidly evil and will not change their minds regardless of what is done for them; human rights are not a zero-sum game; the Democrats are as thoroughly captured by big business as the Republicans are (even if they're less brazen about it); and so on.*

So instead, I'll point out the fallacy of these bloggers in their own terms.

Greer, at least, should know better. He's written in the past of what happens to governments as collapse proceeds: they become increasingly paralyzed and ossified, either completely unable to react because they have fallen into competing, mutually warring factions that have lost sight of what is going on in the real world, or they do things that seem to make sense in the short term in the sense of preserving Business As Usual, but which speed up collapse in the long term. Greer has stated in the past that it is futile for us to expect government to prevent collapse. Now, he is bitter at government for not doing so and instead pursueing the easier course of campaigning on human rights. This is exactly according to his own words, and those of other collapsitarians. Did he not quite believe his own words earlier? Why was he surprised when it happened just as he predicted? That's still a mystery to me.


*(Keep in mind that for most Democratic candidates, losing an election is not a life-and-death matter, but simply of having less power than they would otherwise have. They see no emergency, so don't have much motivation to take risks to stop Donald Trump and his odious alt-right allies. They are in no danger of losing their health care, or being worked to death, or losing access to birth control or abortion, or any of the other things that are taking a toll of human lives among the peasants. This is why "it was Hillary's turn" was more important to them than fielding a truly viable candidate in 2016.)
typographer: Me on a car in the middle of nowhere, eastern Colorado, age four (Default)
[personal profile] typographer
Since I wrote about the Nazi getting punched yesterday, I thought I was through, but a lot of people have been sharing a tweet that says, “I want to live in a world where people wearing Nazi symbols and people wearing rainbows can do so without being attacked.” And oh, I have so many responses to this. The first is that this is the mother of all false equivalents. When queer people and their allies where rainbows, they are saying “everyone deserves to live free of unfair discrimination no matter their sexual orientation and gender identity.” That is it. When a person wears a swastika...

(The rest of this post is at FontFolly.Net.)

Using the Mic

Sep. 21st, 2017 02:12 am
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[personal profile] sasha_feather posting in [community profile] access_fandom
What you're Saying when You Say "I Don't Need the Mic"
By Erika A. Hewitt
August 31, 2017

https://www.uua.org/worship/lab/what-youre-saying-when-you-say-i-dont-need-mic

This is directed at a Unitarian Universalist audience, but can apply to any group or event.

“When a mic is being used at a meeting and someone looks at it and says, ‘Do we really need this?’ I feel outright anger. That person just asked if people like me really exist and demanded that we defend ourselves.”

Anti-procrastination Wednesday!

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:26 pm
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[personal profile] peaceful_sands posting in [community profile] bitesizedcleaning
Sorry, I missed yesterday to make an anti-procrastination post.

So what will it be today? What's your task that must not be avoided? How are you going to make your life better by doing that one thing?

Are you setting a timer to make headway or is it something straightforward that can be completed if you just give it your attention?

Are you in need of a challenge for the day? My challenge to you is to give a sink of your choosing a clean. Maybe your kitchen sink needs a washing up bowl taking out and giving a clean and having a scrub at the surfaces underneath. Maybe it's the plug and drainer that need the clean. It might be the taps (faucet?) that need a little TLC. Instead you might decide to take a little time to spruce up a sink in the bathroom and check out those taps, or any subtly lingering toothpaste marks. The choice is yours!

Good luck all, with whatever you decide to tackle today. Remember you can do it!
maureenlycaon_dw: a thorn for the holy ones (Default)
[personal profile] maureenlycaon_dw
This morning, I discovered a "trash" box on my living room floor that had never been opened. Puzzled, I opened it up just now.

Inside it was a 250-gig SSD, brand and shiny new.

I do not recall ever ordering it.

Well, now I have a big spare hard drive. :)
reviews_and_ramblings: (Default)
[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
Tal Bauer Enemy Within (The Executive Office #3)
Gay - Contemporary Romance
Series: The Executive Office (Book 3)
Paperback: 483 pages
Publisher: Independently published (March 27, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1520907931
ISBN-13: 978-1520907932
Amazon: Tal Bauer Enemy Within (The Executive Office #3)

The White House, infiltrated. The president, running for his life. A traitorous general, intent on burning the world to the ground. When everything falls apart, who do you trust? President Jack Spiers fled Washington DC on the heels of a devastating attack on CIA headquarters, masterminded by one of America’s own, former General Porter Madigan. While the world believes Jack was killed in the bombing, he embarks on a wild infiltration mission, smuggling himself into occupied Russia to rescue the love of his life: former Secret Service Agent and First Gentleman Ethan Reichenbach. Reunited, Jack, Ethan, and deposed Russian president Sergey Puchkov, along with President Elizabeth Wall—the only person left in Washington DC who Jack trusts—must work together. They piece together a desperate plan, hunting Madigan to the ends of the earth and the bitter frigidity of the Arctic, where Madigan’s world-shattering doomsday plan comes together. Outnumbered, outmaneuvered, and outgunned, Jack, Ethan, Sergey, and the rest of the team struggle to put a stop to Madigan and his army. In the desolate extremes of the Arctic, their resolve, their strength, and even their love is tested, pushed to the absolute limits as choices must be made: choices that pit the fate of the world against the love in their hearts, and the loves of their life. As the world crumbles around them, Jack and Ethan find themselves waging a war on two fronts—against an enemy they can see, and another, hiding within their ranks. Who can be trusted when the enemy is within you?
reviews_and_ramblings: (Default)
[personal profile] reviews_and_ramblings
Tal Bauer Hush
Gay - Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 460 pages
Publisher: Independently published (July 28, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1521946493
ISBN-13: 978-1521946497
Amazon: Tal Bauer Hush

A federal judge running from the truth. A U.S. marshal running from his past. A trial that can plunge the world into war. Federal Judge Tom Brewer is finally putting the pieces of his life back together. In the closet for twenty-five long years, he’s climbing out slowly, and, with the hope of finding a special relationship with the stunning Mike Lucciano, U.S. Marshal assigned to his D.C. courthouse. He wants to be out and proud, but he can’t erase his own past, and the lessons he learned long ago. But a devastating terrorist attack in the heart of DC, and the subsequent capture and arrest of the terrorist, leads to a trial that threatens to expose the dark underbelly of America’s national security. As Russia beats the drums of war, intent on seeking revenge, and the United States struggles to contain the storm before it races out of control, secrets and lies, past and present, collide in Judge Tom Brewer’s courtroom. With the world’s attention fixed on Tom and this case, he suddenly discovers he may be the only person who can put everything together in time to stop the spark of a new world war.

Shell Shocked - free story

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:45 pm
charlie_cochrane: (Default)
[personal profile] charlie_cochrane
"Shell Shocked" - a shifter story with a twist - is available to download free and gratis from my free stories page.

The lights, the recording equipment, the lairy looking rozzer.
I’ve never experienced anything like this before, never been in trouble with the police. Honest Billy, that’s me, always kept my nose clean; I even declare every one of my tips on my tax form. So, what’s Mrs. Zanderson’s best boy doing being formally interviewed under caution?
Doing his best to explain just how he’d got into this mess in the first place, only I can’t tell them the whole truth, for reasons that will become apparent.
“How and when did you meet Jonny Telfer?”
“A couple of months ago, in a bar. The Happy Return.”
“Had you gone there to pick up a fare?”
“No. It was pleasure, not business.”
And what a pleasure it had turned out to be, at least at first...

Read more
naraht: (Default)
[personal profile] naraht
nothing gold can stay (2628 words) by Naraht
Chapters: 1/?
Fandom: Yuri!!! on Ice (Anime)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Yuri Plisetsky & Victor Nikiforov, Yuri Plisetsky & Yakov Feltsman, Lilia Baranovskaya/Yakov Feltsman
Characters: Yuri Plisetsky, Victor Nikiforov, Yakov Feltsman, Lilia Baranovskaya
Additional Tags: Rivals, Post-Canon, Growing Up, Coming of Age, growth spurt, Injury, 2018 Winter Olympics, Aging
Summary: Yuri Plisetsky will never step out of Victor's shadow. Not if Victor has anything to do with it.

Or, the epic Nikiforov/Plisetsky rivalry in the run-up to the 2018 Games.



Here it is, the long one. The first chapter of the long one, at least.

A friend tells me that 'rage-filled teenage boy athlete' is not my usual aesthetic – probably an understatement! But it's a refreshing change in writing terms, and it's good to stretch yourself... right?
pameladean: (Default)
[personal profile] pameladean

This is very long and detailed, so I’m going to try to put in a cut tag.

All right, I can't get that to work, not if it was ever so. I'm sorry.

 

On Tuesday Raphael and I went to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. The forecast was for a sunny, almost windless day with a high of 87. The air quality was moderate. I complained about this the day before and Raphael asked if I'd prefer not to go. But Sherburne is actually a good place to go on a less than perfect day, because there's a seven-mile wildlife drive with stopping points for viewing whoever happens to be around; also a tiny oak savanna (1/10-mile loop) trail and a prairie trail with an oak grove in the middle with a bench (1/2-mile loop). And it's September; hiking season will be over at some point.

We got a late start but arrived with about five hours of daylight ahead of us. Sherburne is near Sand Dunes National Forest, and its soil is also sandy. It's a lightly rolling landscape full of marshes, pools, and prairie, broken by lines and clumps of trees. You drive through a short stretch of mature restored prairie to reach the actual wildlife drive. It was awash in blooming goldenrod and blue and white asters and rich brown grasses.

 We stopped at the Oak Savanna Trail and had a sandwich, read the list of plants presently blooming (six kinds of goldenrod, four kinds of white aster, two kinds of blue aster, rough blazing star, and boneset) and then walked out on the tiny boardwalk. We examined what looked like an abandoned bald eagle's nest through one of the spotting scopes provided, and then started looking at spreadwings (yet another kind of damselfly) in the tall grass that the boardwalk runs through.

 Here is an image of a spreadwing that one might see in Minnesota, though I don’t know if that’s what we did see.

 http://museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/Odonata/lere.html

 A flicker of motion in the distance caught my attention, and I looked up to see three sandhill cranes landing across the prairie near the road we'd come on. "A family," said Raphael, looking through the binoculars. "See the juvenile?" I did see the juvenile, which did not have all its red in yet but was almost as large as its parents. The cranes started walking through the grass, not unlike herons stalking through shallow water; occasionally they would bend their long necks down and poke around in the grass roots, and occasionally one of them would make a sharp dart and come up with food and swallow it.

It was hard to decide whether the cranes were more awesome through binoculars or just as tall shapes against the pale road and prairie, bending and straightening, wandering apart and together again. If you didn't look through binoculars you could also see meadowhawks darting around, the spreadwings rising to catch tiny insects and settling again to eat them, the unexpected wind shaking the oak leaves and the grass and the asters. From time to time a darner moved across the larger prairie, veering after prey or just powering along.

At last a truck came fairly fast along the road, raising a cloud of dust, and the cranes paused, considered, opened their huge wings and rose up, gawky but graceful, and flew away low over the grasses. We went back to looking at smaller wildlife

I was trying to spot a spreadwing through the binoculars when I saw what looked like an animated tangle of brown grass. I said to Raphael, “There’s some kind of mantis there!” and when Raphael expressed astonishment, I added, “It’s very stick-y,” which allowed Raphael to come up with the actual name: It was a stick insect. It took a few moments for me to describe its location and for Raphael to see it, and then I had trouble finding it again through the binoculars, but it was busy clambering around against the wind, so we did both get a good look at it. It was only the second stick insect I’d seen in Minnesota. The other was at Wild River State Park. That one was much larger and was rummaging around in a pile of leaves at the edge of the parking lot. This one was fascinating because its camouflage was so great, and yet it did have to move around, so you could differentiate it from the grass if you worked at it.

We’d arrived in the deep of the afternoon when smaller birds are quiet. We heard a few goldfinches murmuring, and a phoebe carrying on, and a chickadee. We left the boardwalk, admiring the asters waving in the non-foreseen but welcome breeze, and walked around the oak savanna loop. The little oak saplings tangled among the other shrubbery were already starting to turn red. White asters poked their flowerheads through leaves belonging to other plants, to startling effect. Autumn meadowhawks floated and hovered and darted, snatching up gnats from the clouds around them. We had seen a monarch butterfly in the asters while we were eating our lunch, and also a dark-phase swallowtail wandering over the grass; now we saw a painted lady butterfly.

We made an attempt to leave, but a darner landed on a drooping dead branch of an oak tree right in front of the car. The sun was behind it and we couldn’t get a good look without tramping heedlessly into the prairie, so we didn’t, but its silhouette was lovely against the brilliant sky.

 We drove on, past tall browning and reddening grasses, clumps of goldenrod, clouds of asters. Darners flew up from the sides of the road and zoomed away. We found at the turning that the refuge had reversed the direction of the wildlife drive since we were there last, which was momentarily confusing; but we found our way, and stopped at the Prairie Trail. I pointed out some thoroughly spent plants of spotted horsemint. We’d seen it in bloom, if you can call it that, at William O’Brien. It’s a very weird-looking plant. Here’s a photo:

 https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/spotted-horsemint

 This observation continued my inability to accurately provide the names of things; I’d just called it horsemint and Raphael reminded me that that particular weird plant was spotted horsemint. There are other horsemints, but they don’t look so strange. As we stood looking over the rise and fall of the little prairie, with folds of alder and sumac, and lines and whorls of different grasses and goldenrod, all truly starred with the blue and white asters, I said that I loved how big the sky was at Sherburne. Raphael noted that it was a slate-blue just now; we assumed that was the haze of the wildfire smoke all the way from the west coast, a somber reminder of far too many things.

 We took the grassy path, startling small grasshoppers out of our way and stirring up meadowhawks from the tall plants and shrubs. We saw a monarch; we saw a painted lady. Passing through a little grove of young alders, on almost every tip of the dead trees intermingled with the living there was a meadowhawk perched. They swept upwards, snatched a gnat or fly, landed to eat again. Raphael showed me how to identify a female autumn meadowhawk: they have a definite bulge just below the thorax, which was easy to see against the sky. Darners zipped past from time to time. If it was a green darner we could usually tell even from just a glance. The others were mosaic darners, but harder to identify in passing.

 I think it was as we approached the oak grove that we started seriously trying to identify the grasses. We’d known big bluestem, aka turkey-tail, for years. After seeing it labelled repeatedly here and there, I could pick out the charming clumps of little bluestem, just knee-high, with their pale fluffy flowers lined up and catching the light. We’d looked at an informational sign at the trailhead, but its drawings of Indian grass and switch grass didn’t look right. Raphael pulled up the photo of the sign about grasses at the visitor center at Wild River, which had struck both of us at the time as much more informative than other attempts to depict native grasses; and we could suddenly identify Indian grass after all. It has a long, narrow rich brown seed head with varying degrees of spikiness; some are quite streamlined and others are tufty and look as if they need combing. And we felt more confident about the switch grass with its airy spreading seed heads.

 Raphael pointed out a beetle on the path, maybe a Virginia leatherwing, and then realized that it looked like a moth. A little research when we reached the oak grove and sat down showed that it was a net-winged beetle, and the entry even mentioned that it looked quite a bit like a leatherwing.

 The bench we were sitting on was made from boards of recycled plastic. At some point Raphael had had enough sitting and went ahead a little way just to see what was there. I’d noticed when I sat down that there were verses from the Bible printed on the back of the bench in some kind of marker. On the left was the passage from Matthew that begins, “Come unto me you who are weary and heavy-laden,” and on the right the passage from John that begins, “For God so loved the world.” These might have been written in different hands. But the passage in the middle was definitely in a different hand, and began, “We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine.” The ending of the passage was a bit smeared and I couldn’t read all of it, but at the bottom the name “hunter s. thompson” was clear enough. I followed Raphael and relayed the beginning of the passage. “Hunter s. thompson!” said Raphael, going back to the bench with me. “It’s from <i>Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas</i>.” Raphael looked this up too, and showed me the unsmeared passage on the cellphone.

 Giggling a bit, we went on our way. We were now well around the loop and into the straight stretch back to the car. From the other side I’d pointed out a lovely layering of grasses, goldenrod, a narrow cleft of willow scrub, and a candy-red line of sumac. Now we came to the sumac from the other side. On the path in front of us was a butterfly. “What is that?” said Raphael. “It’s a Red Admiral,” I said confidently, but it wasn’t. It was another Painted Lady. Raphael consolingly told me that they were both Vanessa, very closely related, but the Red Admiral is very common in Minnesota and I was chagrined that I’d misidentified something else as that.

 We came to a little stretch of boardwalk over a marshy area. On a shrub was a shimmery amber-tinged odonate. I pointed it out to Raphael. It turned out to be another autumn meadowhawk, though it looked as if it ought to be an Eastern Amberwing, or at least a Band-Winged Meadowhawk. It had perched on a bit of red-stemmed dogwood, just to be extra-cooperative. We went on through the cattails and willow, past a minute patch of open water and up onto the grassy path again. Raphael pointed out that where the path climbed back out of the tiny marsh there was a nice view over the rest of the open water and the winding marsh with more willow, and cattails, and a shrub we should have known but didn’t. (I briefly misidentified it as more red-stemmed dogwood, because it was my day to misidentify everything; but it had deep purple stems and leaves just starting to turn reddish.)

 On our right for the end of our walk was the brilliant sumac and the cleft of alder saplings, all their leaves fluttering and twinkling in the wind and sunlight; on the left a long slope of prairie grasses interrupted by goldenrod and asters. More darners sailed by. The sky had lost its smoky cast and was a fine late-summer deep blue. We came back to the car and Raphael began to drive away, but I exclaimed at the sight of a big clump of stiff goldenrod covered with pollinators. We didn’t get out, but looked our fill from the car. Big bumblebees, a Ctenucha moth, beetles, ambush bugs. Once Raphael started reading it, I had to edit this entry to correct the Ctenucha moth's name and type, so have another link, since they are very handsome:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ctenucha_virginica
 
There’s one more trail you can actually walk along, near the end of the wildlife drive, but there was a sign at the beginning saying that it was flooded. Before that we drove past long stretches of marsh, open water, and rolling prairie, all patched with clumps of trees. From time to time there would be a wider spot in the road, sometimes a formal space big enough for three or four cars, with a bench or two, or a platform over a low spot with spotting scopes and some informational signs about the wildlife; others just a metal platform with railings, where you could stand and look over the water. We tentatively identified the spot where we’d once common moorhens, which are not so common that we weren’t deeply excited. We’ve also seen muskrats and various ducks in these locations, and once there was a gigantic cloud of mosaic darners all brown and yellow – I seem to recall that some of them were lance-tipped darners, but I may be wrong. This time we heard water birds making a ruckus, but couldn’t see them. Darners came by in about the density that they had been all the while. Over one platform we saw what turned out to be a northern harrier; these guys have an amazing acrobatic flight, and they’re reddish on the underside and bluish on the back. I excitedly called this one a kestrel, which would be smaller and have the colors reversed: bluish on the underside and red on the back. We also very clearly saw a nighthawk with its white wing bars, though the sun was still up.

 We also saw some cedar waxwings fly-catching from a tree with a dead top, and heard a yellow warbler.

 At last we came to a stretch of water, islands, and snags so large that it had two separate viewing-spots. From the first we saw several groups of large white birds. I thought the first were swans, but they were white pelicans. There were also some swans, however. We came finally around a curve of the gravel road to an observation station in a little oak grove, overlooking the far side of this large sheet of water. This is where most of the dead trees are, and here, to our delight, we saw as we’ve seen before several times a very large number of cormorants. The sun was setting by then, off to our right. The sky was pink and the water reflected it. Many cormorants were roosting already, but some were still coming out of the water; they would land on a branch, sometimes settling and sometimes glancing off several different trees before finding one that suited them, or one in which the other cormorants accepted them. It was hard to be sure. Then they would spread their wings out to dry, looking as if they were practicing to be bats for Halloween.

 We found the swans and pelicans we’d seen from the other viewing station, though it was getting pretty dark by then. Cormorants still flew up into the trees and spread their wings. Through binoculars you could see the ones that had folded their wings now preening their breast feathers. Some of them had pale necks and brown fronts rather than being entirely black. I mentioned this to Raphael, who looked it up in Sibley and confirmed that those were juvenile cormorants.

 It was getting quite dark by then and the mosquitoes were starting to think about biting us in earnest. We drove past two more pools; beside one two groups of people we’d seen pass earlier, a third car I didn’t recognize from before, and a man using a wheelchair were standing and gesticulating. We pulled up and got out. The water and trees were lovely in the twilight, but we didn’t see any wildlife. The solitary man went away in his wheelchair, the unfamiliar car left, and we followed, watching the varied texture of the grass and flowers fade away into the dark.

 

Pamela

September 2017

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