Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bug of the Hour

I had a day off Friday, which meant I had to do laundry, but also that I had the leisure to walk to the grocery store, instead of driving, for a bottle of bleach. And that, in turn, meant that I was a scarce hundred yards from my apartment when I came upon what was left of a Great Purple Hairstreak cast away by the side of the road. Folks, the advertising is partly false on these. I would not argue with the great, at all, but "purple," is a stretch of the imagination. The bits I could see of the tops of the stiffening wings were close on the most beautiful royal blue that I ever saw. Being as it was a bleach-purchasing expedition, I hadn't taken taken the camera, but somebody on BugGuide has a decent picture of a still-living, if battered, specimen with the wings open. The last time I saw colours like that on a butterfly was in the rainforest exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium; according to Wikipedia, the Great Purple Hairstreak is "a common gossamer-winged butterfly species in parts of the United States." Common, says you? I repeat, that was the first one I had a good look at, though I had been hoarding the suspicion that I caught a glimpse of one on the wing a year or two back. Their host plant is, of all things, mistletoe. As I said to one of my kinfolk earlier this evening, that does leave one with the impression that poor, beautiful Baldr had the last laugh after all.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Couple of Sweet Tunes

Some slow marches from Jenna Reid and her fiddle, because I like slow marches, and if I didn't, I expect this rendition would cure me. The first tune is "Hey, Tutti Tattie" (or "Scots Wha Hae," if you learned your piping out of the Green Book); the second is the track title, "Johnny in the Nether Mains."

Friday, August 15, 2014

Not An Unexpected Topic. . .Entirely

The qualifiers that were shown for the World Pipe Band Championships this morning were most enjoyable to watch and to hear. On the watching end of things, I was particularly taken with the logos that the New Zealand Police Pipe Band and the Canterbury Caledonian Society Pipe Band wear: both incorporate Scottish elements with the New Zealand fern, which is clever, but more than that, they're just very pleasing to the eye. (The logos in question, of course, can be seen in the headers of the respective websites of the two bands.) Most importantly, both bands turned out impressive performances, Canterbury winning through to tomorrow's final.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

And Here It Comes Again

Yes, the World Pipe Band Championships are this week. The format has changed yet again, now with the qualifier on Friday and the playoffs on Saturday morning. This page shows you where you can tune in.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

All the News Here

We were taking a water break during an outdoor rehearsal this evening when something glinted in the scrubby lawn. "If that were only a beetle," I thought, astounded by the impossibility of the colours. I looked again and, wonder of wonders, it was a beetle, and a quite a beauty for these parts, something called a Figeater Beetle (Cotinis mutabilis). I had no way to get a picture at the time, but here's one from BugGuide, which has a gallery of good shots. The interesting part about watching one of these on a lawn was, as brilliant as the green elytra look in the picture, they are actually. . .well, what I'd classify on a guitar as a "matte finish," not glossy. So between those and the stripes of beige at the edges, the creature would have blended in perfectly with a California high school lawn in the depths of summer, were it not for the gleaming of its emerald undercarriage. I thought it one of the loveliest things I had seen in a long while.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day

Here are the Commodores, the US Navy's own jazz ensemble, with the Stars and Stripes Forever.