The Hungry Caterpillar

This was a huge leaf on a grapevine and this little guy has made quick work of it.


But I think eating is all caterpillars do. And then they make a cocoon and become a butterfly or a moth.


I can’t tell you what kind this one is right now. I’m determined to post something on one of my blogs every day, even if the day runs past midnight, so I’m not doing the research I’d normally do for my critter pix.

These were taken with my old Olympus and as a point-and-shoot automatic thing it was very hard to get the focal point where I wanted it.  I have no idea how many images I trashed to find these two that are still only middling to fair.


Hope you enjoy.


PS – my other blogs are  When I’m not taking pictures I’m sewing or crocheting or crafting something and that’s where I share those things. is my family history. It’s very random, but I’m doing my best to share with my family what I’m learning about our ancestors.  We were some of the first settlers of the New World all along the eastern seaboard. No one is interested right now, but I expect someday somebody will wonder where we came from.  

Posted in Bugs | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Stunning Scarlet Lilies

These lilies bloomed in early May. The scarlet color is stunning.

Stunning Scarlet Lilies on Cottonmouth Creek

There are five or six in an old-fashioned concrete planter. They’ve been there a few years.

Stunning Scarlet Lilies on Cottonmouth Creek

They usually grow about 18–20 inches tall, but this year they barely made it a foot. I think they need more space and fresh dirt.

Stunning Scarlet Lilies on Cottonmouth Creek

This is one of about four different kinds of lilies in the yard.

Stunning Scarlet Lilies on Cottonmouth Creek

I’ve discovered lilies really like full sun. I have some in the front that are shaded by the eaves of the house part of the day. They grow at about a 45 degree angle, reaching for the sun.

Stunning Scarlet Lilies on Cottonmouth Creek

When the weather cools off I’m going to dig up all the lilies and cluster them together for a more dramatic presentation.  They bloom on a different schedule so we should have lilies from early May through the summer.

Stunning Scarlet Lilies on Cottonmouth Creek

I want to find a place so we can see them from inside. There’s a big patch of monkey grass that’s in a good spot. However, the dogs and cat have decided it’s a nice cool place to lay in the heat of the day. Monkey grass is not easy to kill, but the middle is turning yellow and dying.

Stunning Scarlet Lilies on Cottonmouth Creek

That would be the perfect place for a patch of lilies. Then there’s a chance the pets won’t care and plop right down on top of them too. Maybe I’ll put one of each out there and see how they fare and put the rest of them someplace safer.

I’ll keep you posted. With pictures, of course.






Posted in Flowers, Plants, Summer | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Bad Cat!

The trouble with cats is that many of them can not ignore a pretty bird. Or even just a regular old backyard bird who gets too close.


While this mockingbird did not fall victim, others have not been so lucky.

Bird Feathers Cottonmouth Creek

So sad.

Although, to be fair, those feathers belonged to the victim of a hawk, not my cat.

Sundance 1

Last summer Sundance discovered the joys of bird hunting and I began to find bird feathers and other bird parts around the patio and in the yard.

Sundance 2

While Sundance is a sweetheart, he is deadly to naive little birds who forage too close to his hiding place.

He was killing a bird almost every day.

The first thing I did was to trim all the undergrowth around the shrubs he hangs out under.

Then I added bells to his collar.

But to no avail. Almost every day  I was still picking up bird parts and putting them in the trash.

His partner in crime is Zeus, this little Chihuahua.


Zeus does his best to dispose of the evidence. and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t play a part in the murder, although I never caught him in the act.

But Zeus is not quiet enough or stealthy enough to do the deed.  That’s all on Sundance.

With his golden gray tabby coat, Sundance is perfectly colored to slink really close to his prey and I wondered if it would help if I put a bright colorful collar on him.


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I did some research on “How to stop cats from killing birds” and came across that very kind of contraption. It’s called Birdbesafe and they’ve done research on how successful it is.

I didn’t have time to order something, birds were “falling like flies” on a daily basis. I do, however, have a lot of bright fabric. A piece of yellow cotton was handy so I got busy and cut it into strips to make a big fluffy collar.

Sundance with Collar

Sundance is a huge cat, and with his long hair, he looks even bigger. I had to make a collar that would be bigger than his fluffy coat.

And lo and behold, it works.

Sundance 4

Immediately I stopped finding dead birds.

Sundance on the prowl

He can look, but he can’t get there before the birds see him and fly to safety.

Sundance 3

Evidently bird’s eyes are made to see bright colors in low light conditions so by adding bright to my dark cat the birds can see him coming.

After a few months the collar gets dingy and loses its fullness. I was concerned it might not do the job and I was right.

One morning I found a bird on the patio. And before I could make a replacement there was a second bird to dispose of.

Sundance 6

So now I know to keep his collar fresh and bright.

Bright collar = no dead birds. This is 100% effective on my cat.

I know it would be best for the birds, and the cat, to keep him inside, but that’s not possible right now. And I don’t know his history, he just showed up and adopted me one day, but he likes to be outside. He’s closed in the garage at night with the dogs, and spends much of the day sprawled on a metal patio chair since his hiding place isn’t such a secret anymore.

Anyone else have killer cats?





Posted in Birds, Pets | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

A Yellow Flower and a Tiny Bee

Yellow Flower July 2017 on

Yellow Flower July 2017 by Jan Miller Stratton 16a

Yellow Flower July 2017 on

Yellow Flower July 2017 on

Yellow Flower July 2017 on


Yellow Flower July 2017 on

Yellow Flower July 2017 on

The End

Yellow Flower July 2017 on


Posted in Flowers, Plants | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Orange Lily May 2017

For the record, these are not Tiger Lilies.



Orange Lily, May 2017 Photo by Jan Miller Stratton

Tiger Lilies have spots on them–which is weird now that I think about it, tigers have stripes. Tiger Lilies should be called leopard lilies because leopards are the orange cats with spots.


Orange Lily, May 2017 Photo by Jan Miller Stratton

Oh well.  The scientists can explain that. In the meantime, these lilies are in my front yard.


Orange Lily, May 2017 Photo by Jan Miller Stratton

This year they bloomed before I noticed so I only got pictures of the last one.


Orange Lily, May 2017 Photo by Jan Miller Stratton

I’m going to move them this year. They’re sun lovers and the roof line shades them part of the day so they grow on the diagonal, stretching toward the full sun.


Orange Lily, May 2017 Photo by Jan Miller Stratton

I’ll move them to the front edge of the garden and cluster them with another lily that also grows diagonally toward the sun.

Hope you like them.


Posted in Flowers | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

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.


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?


Posted in Weather | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

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.

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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.


Posted in Plants | Tagged , | 3 Comments