Summer Off / Autumn On

Though according to the calendar, Fall starts later this month, the meteorogical begin is September 1. This is the first time I’ve ever observed such a drastic change of weather here. Our August was unusually warm, all the way to the end, and just as if someone had pushed a button, from September 1 and onward we’ve been at about 55 degrees, mostly gray, with some rain and nighttime temperatures are beginning to endanger my tomatoes. I’m not complaining about the weather though, in fact, I’ve gone into autumn mode and yesterday, actually began to use some of our apples in a Tarte Normande Aux Pommes (a fancy way of saying a Normandy Cake with Apples).

It is baked in multiple stages – first the shell is half-baked, then the apples, having been tossed with cinnamon and sugar are partially baked, then a custard-like mixture is poured over them and it is returned to the oven. 10 minutes before the end, it is generously sprinkled with powdered sugar (which I then caramelized with my culinary torch once the cake was done).


The story featuring yours truly in the county newspaper was reprinted in the local (town) newspaper and I am now reluctant to leave the house, in fear of being recognised as the crazy butterfly lady. πŸ˜‰


Yes, I’ve been knitting, too. I’ll do a separate post about that, there have been projects throughout.


Last but not least, a shoutout to Jen for sending me this lovely ceramic coaster out of the clear blue. I love it!

Musings

I’ve been very occupied with the state of things in the world recently, more so than usual, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the hurricane victims in Texas and Florida and to those in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, where over a thousand have died. People who are on the wrong side of climate change need not speak to me these days. Don’t even get me started about everything else that’s going on.

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
(RIP Heather Heyer and God bless her amazing Mom.)


That outdoor surveillance camera I bought has been interesting. I check the videos in the morning, hoping to see something interesting, but for the most, it has been cats, sometimes even two at the same time, seemingly hunting for mice. I was hoping for maybe a fox or a marten – maybe in time I’ll see something else. For now, it’s an interesting pasttime. And perhaps I should rest easy, knowing that there are no hordes of moose stomping through here in the night, trampling my flowers.*


At the beginning of the week, I mailed a photo of a freshly hatched swallowtail to the local newspaper, and a reporter came and interviewed me about all things caterpillars, butterflies, and the dropping numbers of their population. This morning, there was a half-page article about it in the newspaper – with pictures. I’m blushing at an alarming rate here.

Though glad that the butterflies are getting a bit more press πŸ™‚


Anyhow, trying to get back into the “good” parts of the internet and will be checking everyone’s blogs this weekend. I’ve been much too distracted by current events recently. Apologies.


*There are no moose here. Just trying to be funny. It’s a wonderful picture in my head, moose trampling through πŸ™‚

Things in the Night

Per chance, I came across a relatively game trail camera and purchased it. We have lots of sensor-activated outdoor lights in the garden and often, late in the evening, I notice them going on and off.

Whether it be cats, hedgehogs, foxes, martens – I’ve always been curious as to what creatures come through under cover of darkness.

The first two nights, the camera recorded nothing – just me setting it up and it getting taken down again in the morning.

Last night, it took some video footage and while viewing it, had me scratching my head. Only after watching it a few times I finally saw the mouse that appears to jump out of the flowerpot in the right of the frame and dash across the lawn.

Just a mouse, but it’s a start. Kind of see-through though. Maybe it’s not a mouse, just leaves.

I’ll stay on it.

 

A Small Gift From Mother Nature

Things were bad last year in terms of the butterfly population, but seem a bit better this year. This cheered me up quite a bit, seeing that nature keeps fighting inspite of all the herbicides andΒ neonicotinoids. Our insekt population is way, way down. Decades ago, after a short drive, your windshield would be full of dead insects. Today, I believe you could drive from here to Hamburg on a warm summer evening and have close to none. As a side note, this is also why I feed the birds year-round – they need help.

Anyhow, a few weeks ago, I noticed a swallowtail butterfly in the yard, sauntering lazily from plant to plant, as they tend to do. A few days later I checked the dill that we keep planted precisely for this purpose, and discovered two freshly deposited butterfly eggs.

I removed the dill to which they were attached and gently bedded them in a bowl with a lid. I checked them twice daily, as if they hatch and have nothing to eat, things will get dicey, and they hatched after only about four to five days. Now, about 12 days later, one has attached itself to the side of the “butterfly box” and is now a pupa, while the other is still merrily eating fresh dill and growing just a bit more.

Why did I not leave them to grow and prosper in the wild? Because of parasitoid wasps, which like to inject their eggs into these caterpillars. The egg then hatches inside the caterpillar, and the resulting wasp larva feeds on the inside of the caterpillar, eventually killing it. Some types of wasp larvae actually make it to the pupa stage. I collected about 52 caterpillars (swallowtail) in the wild years ago, cared for them until they transitioned to pupa. The following spring, more than half of the pupa hatched wasps instead of butterflies – it was devastating to me.

Oh

Ooops, it’s really been a while. I’ve been off doing summer stuff, and mostly worrying about someone who is now doing much better, thank goodness.

I have also spent time walking through the woods, looking for mushrooms, but not finding any, probably because we have had little to no rain this summer, and the ground is just too dry for any mushrooms to sprout.

The forest, however, is beautiful as always, even if there is something missing from this picture.

Memorabilia

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it on this blog, but in my youth, somewhere around the ages of 12-15, I was a huge Beatles fan and refused to listen to anything else ever – for a number of years.

Now, I keep receiving unexpected things in the mail – recently, I received this which catapulted me back to the days of my youth:

It’s a paper card that when opened:

A wonderful and amazingly collapsible yellow submarine made of paper pops up:

And if that weren’t enough, this morning I received four bags of little bitty parts that I was forced to assemble without any instructions being included, so I am not quite sure if I did it properly.

Quite amazing and just made my day! Thank you!

Sequoias

For the first time ever, I got to see a sequoia tree yesterday:

It and three others were planted in a little town on the edge of Lake Constance, which I visited yesterday, to visit a dear cousin and one of my aunts, who is visiting her.

The Best Weeks of the Year

No, I haven’t drowned in that little pool. It’s spent some time in the basement, in fact, as the heatwave ended (and started again yesterday, so it’s back up).

It’s been a bit busy around here, and in between, I’ve been living La Dolce Vita, realizing that it is strawberry season and that these weeks are the best weeks of the summer. So, I’ve concentrated on LIVING them and ENJOING them to the fullest.

First, we had to get rid of a rather large pine tree that was infested by bark beetles and was dying. To do this, we hired a professional “tree climber”.

I’ve also been doing some of this:

…and enjoying the bounties of the season by having buttered tagliatelli with fresh truffles*….

..and making crepes and filling them with a homemade strawberry filling and garnishing them with fresh strawberries and cream:

 

*I was gifted a truffle slicer some 15 years ago and always use it to slice garlic. This year, I finally used it to slice real truffles. ‘Bout time.

Heatwave

We are being subjected to a heatwave of some length at the moment, and as our summer temps don’t usually get up to the high 80s and low 90s, normal homes do not have A/C. As a result, when the high temperatures are sustained for more than a few days, it’s a bit uncomfortable – especially the sleeping part.

I knew this weather was coming, and as I contemplated how to best deal with it, I had a brilliant idea.

I’m one of those mean adults who always envies the little kids that get to splash in their little pools in the summer. So, I went online to look and see if there isn’t something affordable and doable that is available for adults. I found something for under 40 €, and ordered it.

The discussion (or objections) by the folks surrounding this little pool, as it was on its merry way to being delivered, were exhausting.

“It’s a silly idea.”

“You’re going to ruin the lawn.”

“You’ll need 2 cubic meters of water just to fill it.” (In Germany, cubic meters is a common measure of volume – 1 cbm is 1000 liters)

“It will take the water three days to warm up enough for anyone to go in it.”

“Where on earth will you put it?”

“No one is going to use it.”

“Leaves and dirt will soil it.”

“Stop being a child.”

It got here yesterday. The’ve all shut up now and think it’s great.

*rolls eyes*

Ravings of a Sane Lunatic

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