Stormy Weather

Saturday, right in the middle of Memorial Day weekend, there were storms in Oklahoma. Seems like there are always storms in Oklahoma on Memorial Day weekend. I’ve spent more than one night on a cold hard cement floor in the designated storm shelter at a state park. Fortunately we always returned to a wind-blown camp site, safe and sound and ready to ski another day.

But this Memorial Day weekend I was home and I stepped outside to see how soon, or if, the storms to the south might arrive. This is the sky I saw out my backdoor.

1 Storm to the southOriginally I thought the streaks were gusts of wind rushing into the storm.

2 Storm Moving In

The sun was getting low but up in the clouds there was light for me to capture the moving sky. When I looked straight up I realized I had it backwards.

3 Storm Leading Edge

It was the front edge of the storm as it was building to the north.

4 Storm Front

It was a pretty busy sky and the clouds were moving fast.  It was just a few minutes before the leading edge was beyond the roof line and out of sight.

6 Storm tops from afar

Through the trees I could see the storms continue to grow. Those white fluffy clouds can spell disaster down below, and on TV inside there was “wall-to-wall” storm coverage on the local news stations.  A lot of campers were being advised to head for storm shelters across south central Oklahoma. The campgrounds at Turner Falls home of Oklahoma’s largest waterfalls, were full. And just to the east the same was true of campgrounds at the Lake of the Arbuckles.

5 Storm Tops

Here’s the storm report from NOAA for that day.

Storms-170527_rpts

That cluster of black and red and blue and green in the south central part of Oklahoma is what went on beneath those white fluffy clouds.

There was a lot of rain, hail, flooding, and a couple of tornadoes so there was storm damage, but for the most part, we survived intact.

The storms continued well into the night, so the sunshine didn’t return until Sunday morning. And Sunday afternoon when I stepped out on the patio there was a double rainbow to the east.

Rainbow 1

In spite of a neighbor’s tree the entire span was visible.

Rainbow 3

I could almost follow it to the pot of gold at the end.

Rainbow 2

I really wish I had a better camera. The sky was so clear I could see the individual colors of the prism arch across the sky.

Rainbow 4

While you can look online and find thousands of Oklahoma weather pictures, it’s rare to get something interesting in the middle of town. The really good weather shots are usually taken out on the wide open plains that the winds come sweeping down. So it was fun to have just a part of this weather event put on  little show in my backyard.

What do you do when there’s stormy weather on the horizon?  Do you head for shelter or grab your camera and go out to look for it?

 

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Hen and Chicks Spring 2017

These little succulents fascinate me. This is my second time to post pictures of them. I’m drawn to the perfect circles of petals that grow out from the center. These hens were pulled out of a crowded pot a last fall. We didn’t have a place for them,  so I sat them in a shallow plastic frozen food container. There was just a little scrabble of dirt for them to sit in.

10 October 2016 e (2)

I moved them to a large clay pot a few months ago and this is what they look like now. They are spreading out to fill the space available. Even the little chicks are bigger than they are in the crowded pots.

Hen and Chicks May 2017 CottonmouthCreek

These are very tolerant plants. This was from January during our one ice storm this year. The plants on top of my little patio table were totally engulfed in ice.

01 January 2017 i (2)

And this is in January two weeks later.

01Jan29 2017 (e2)I like taking pictures under different light conditions. This small one below was taken at the same time as the shot above. But it’s underneath a patio table and out of the direct sunlight. The light is bright, but flat without the hard contrast of direct light.

01Jan29 2017 (2)

I’ve noticed the edges of the leaves are shaded dark red in the winter. The petals are also tighter in the winter. Maybe huddled together to stay warm.

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The shot below was also in January. There is just a smidge of direct sunlight hitting the petals on the left. I intended to take this with natural light, but the shade was just dark enough to set off the automatic flash.  That’s OK because it lit up the petals that aren’t open yet in the center.

DSCN0293 (2)

These plants were lovingly neglected at my grandmother’s farm for years. I don’t know how many Mom has given away over the years. I think I’m going to harvest all the babies out of one of the pots and see how big one of these might get over the course of the summer if it has a pot all to itself.

Hen and Chicks May2017a (2)

Of course that means I need to find homes for all of these babies, or a good spot to put them in the yard. Two summers ago there were some in the yard and my cat liked to curl up on one patch and the dog laid on the other one.

Pets – 2, Hen and chicks – 0.

I don’t know if that will happen again, but I’ll keep you posted.

Jan

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Hen and Chicks

Hen and Chicks love my mom’s back patio.

jans-nikon-pix-004

Hen and Chicks in August

I think this colony originally came from Grandma’s farm near Lexington, Oklahoma. (The farm was also loaded with rose rocks, the state rock of Oklahoma. But that’s a different set of photos.)

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Hen and Chicks in October

I’ve noticed the green of this succulent deepens and the tips of the leaves turn a dark reddish color when it gets cold. This variety is tolerant of Oklahoma winters, even including a layer of ice.

Hen and Chicks in January on Cottonmouth Creek

Hen and Chicks in January

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Baby Garden Snake

I came through the gate yesterday and saw a pale little snake perched on a vine at the top of the fence. He was keeping an eye on me.

Pale Little Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

Pale Little Snake

By the time I returned with my camera he was gone. But he was so small. I knew he couldn’t get far. I looked at the tangle of leaves from every which way and finally caught sight of his slender light-colored body.

When I first saw him he looked almost clear in the shade of the late afternoon light. However, the green popped out in the light of the flash. Seems to be a baby green garden snake.

Pale Little Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

He was curled around the vine, not at all interested in posing for pictures.

Pale Little Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

When I moved a leaf out of the way for a better look he got mad at me.

Pale Little Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

He curled up ready to strike. And then he did, opening his little mouth to bite me. He wanted to be sure I knew he meant business.

It was pretty darn cute

Pale Little Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

He was maybe ten inches long,  if he would let you measure from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.

And he was so slender. More slender than a number two pencil.

Pale Little Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

You can see how small he is compared to the chain link fence in the foreground.

I wonder how long it will take him to grow into the long neon green garden snake I’ve already met.

Any interesting critters in your backyard?

 

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A Neon Green Snake-in-a-Tree

This might be a Smooth Green Snake or a Rough Green Snake.

Green Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

Is this snake smooth or rough?

According to Wikipedia the Smooth Green Snake has smooth dorsal scales and the Rough Green Snake has keeled dorsal scales, which evidently is rough to the touch. The smooth adult is 14 to 20 inches. The Rough Green Snake grows up to 45 inches and is very thin.

They are commonly called grass snakes and are not poisonous. They are docile, non-aggressive and rarely bite. They live in a moist habitat near water, and next door there is a small backyard garden pond right below the tangle of grapevines where this guy was hanging out.

Green grass snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

Peek a boo!

They are bright green snakes with a lighter, yellowish belly, perfect for camouflage in the trees. They eat insects and spiders.

Next time I come across one I’ll have to touch it to see for sure if it’s rough or smooth…. or not.

It was longer than 20 inches so I think it’s the rough green snake. But but it really doesn’t matter. I just wish it ate more ants.

Anyone else have a snake-in-a-tree or maybe a snake-in-the-grass story or picture to share?

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Blue

Seemed like something wasn’t quite right with Blue a couple of weeks ago and today she’s gone.

Blue on Cottonmouth CreekShe absolutely adored me.

BlueShe can’t keep from wagging her tail.

I wish I could have done a better job for her. She was just three years old. I will miss her.

Jan

 

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Asian Lady Beetle, I think

Oklahoma weather will always give you something to talk about.

Tornado season was late this year. Nothing until late May and then we had two “big ones” before the month was out. A two-year drought was broken in places with fifteen inches of rain in some places.

Temps of 100° have been scarce and then it rained three days last week in the middle of July. With all that wet, mold allergens are off the chart, and tree and grass pollens are also spiking when they’d usually be settling down this time of the summer.

IMG_8528.JPGHere’s one of a bundle of rare July mushrooms that popped up this morning in my yard. Evidence of the blooming fungi that’s causing a run on allergy meds.

It’s also playing havoc with the bugs in my yard—way too many mosquitoes—and introducing me to some new characters. IMG_8455.JPGI’ve never seen this one before. It was on the underside of a pecan leaf.

IMG_8454.JPGIt was early morning so the light is kind of flat.

IMG_8453.JPGHe didn’t seem inclined to fly away or run off so I plucked the leaf off the tree and brought him to my “studio” for a better look.

IMG_8456.JPGI googled “yellow and black spiky bug” and checked out the images.  With “lady beetle” in his common name, I wonder if he’s related to lady bugs. I found him on bugguide.net called the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis).

IMG_8457.JPGHe’s about a half-inch long, and never budged while I shot these pix. No idea what those little tiny rice-like pellets are on the leaf.

I found him when I took a look at the young pecan tree out back. I found these clumps on the leaves and evidence something is snacking on them.

Spiky Yellow Bug on Cottonmouth CreekWhen I turned the leaves over to see what might be related to these clumps I found my spiky friend. I haven’t noticed these clods before so I don’t know if they’ll cause problems for the tree or not.

Other never-seen-before-bugs in my yard have decimated my Sweet Autumn Clematis and I don’t expect to enjoy that wonderful fragrance this year.

**Sigh**

I’ll share that sad story in another post.

Have you noticed any unusual bugs or other critters in your yard this year?

 

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