Morels in the yard

We have morels!

I just found them yesterday, in an area of the yard we call Mikey’s Garden, where I know they’ve never been before, and from what I’ve read about them (see the great links, below) they’ll probably come back year after year now. So excited!

I didn’t see the little spider on the morel in the photo below until I looked at it later. I love how she blends in, and I’ll certainly be careful to try not to disturb her when we pick these.

Click here for some good info about identifying morels and even more important, identifying false morels, because those can hurt you.

Click here for an article on hunting for morels with a list of great mushroom-hunting tips.


More Fungus Amungus

We have so many different varieties of fungi in our woods that it boggles my brain, and they’re all beautiful. It’s on my list to get serious about learning to identify them, and harvesting and eating the non-poisonous ones.



Do you see the little black ant on the lower right part of the mushroom up there? He was completely unfazed by the huge clumsy creature lying on the ground taking pictures. He was on a mission.







Ever since I spontaneously named a previous blog post “A Fungus Amungus,” the phrase has been rolling around in the back of my mind. I remembered it from early childhood, but no details with it. Interwebs to the rescue: I traced it as far back as 1958, when Terry Noland released a song by that name. It was covered by another band in 1962. Click here to listen to Terry Noland’s 1958 version of the song – if you dare.


Bright blessings,
CJ & Kay

Visit from a Green Tree Frog

How cute is this little guy? Kay found him this morning on our porch, hiding in a box of stuff waiting to be donated until she helped him find his way out. Pretty sure he was happy to get out of the crapola giveaway box and up on to the wall.

peeper 1
I love his racing stripes!

He’s an American green treefrog, also known as a Carolina tree frog or a green treefrog, and his scientific name is hyla cinerea. I know he’s a he because of that wrinkly pouch you can just barely see on his throat. That’s his vocal sac, and it swells up with air when he sings.

We have lots of these little treefrogs in our woods, and love hearing them sing – it’s a much more musical sound than, say, cicadas. These little green peepers come up on the porch like this every so often.

peeper 2

This guy was about the size of a quarter, but they can get up to 2-1/2 inches long. Most of our visitors are this guy’s size, some a bit smaller.

We get visited by quite a few grey tree frogs, too, like the one shown below – I wrote about him here, at our first wordpress blog.

gray tree frog Collage

As always, we welcome your thoughts, questions, and ideas, so feel free to leave them in the comments, below.

Bright blessings,
CJ & Kay

Blanche the Luna Moth, Part 2

If there’s a Part One, there has to be a Part Two, ergo this somewhat reluctant blog post, because it’s also The End, for Blanche’s babies, anyway – Blanche herself took off like a thief in the night right after she laid her eggs, the hussy.

So, sad news, I fear: none of Blanche’s offspring survived. Not one. I had the best of intentions, which for some irrational reason included being there at the moment of hatching, and transferring the little critters immediately after they ate their way through their egg casings to my big white pyrex bowl filled with sweetgum leaves.

That’s not at all how it happened, of course. I said goodnight to happy little eggs three nights ago, and the next morning, I found only empty egg casings, with a whole bunch of little itty bitty cute green caterpillars underneath who were not only merely dead but really most sincerely dead. Every. Single. One.

So I really suck as a caterpillar mom, and to think not long ago I accused Blanche of the very same thing.

I did identify this gorgeous moth, though, which is a frequent visitor to our porch – it’s a tulip-tree beauty moth. The close-up of the picture isn’t very good, but it was before the sun came up and I was holding my arms up over my head to get a shot. tulip tree beauty moth

mothra both

Unidentified buddy, a bit more up-close and personal.

itty mothra

Here’s a better picture, taken when a tulip-tree beauty moth posed on a necklace we had out on the porch not too long ago, inspiring a blog post you can view by clicking here.

Tulip-tree beauty moth posing with a vintage butterfly necklace
Tulip-tree beauty moth posing with a vintage butterfly necklace

Tulip-tree beauty moths are named because of their expertise at camoflauge, on tulip trees and other trees as well – they appear flat and blend in with the bark almost perfectly.

We’ll keep on enjoying the moths that visit, and if another Blanche should happen along and leave eggs and then flee into the night, we’ll come up with a better plan.

Bright blessings,
CJ & Kay

Blanche the Luna Moth, Part 1

So this has happened…luna moth 7

Yesterday, this gorgeous luna moth chose a little section of our side porch, on a pair of doors, to open her own maternity ward. We’re honored, but it does seem like she might’ve chosen one of our sweetgum trees, or one of the many hickory trees or white oaks, over doors made of wood and glass with lots of near-constant activity and noise around them.

luna moth 5

This, to me, begs the question: Is Blanche a first-time mother? Because this was really not the best decision for her offspring.

luna moth

The doors are old, but they’re really clean, because Daughter of the House just high-pressure-washed them a day before all this went down. So maybe Blanche had some kind of My Maternity Ward Must Be Clean thing going on in her head, and I can empathize with that more than I’d like to admit – you can go completely batshit a little bit crazy right before you give birth, and I most assuredly speak with the voice of experience – but she really should’ve gone for one of the trees. When the caterpillars hatch, they’ll eat their own egg casings first, but then they’ll be immediately ready to start seriously chowing down on some sweetgum or white oak or hickory leaves. Not laying the eggs on a host food was a serious mistake in terms of making sure her caterpillars survive.

luna moth with eggs

And this, my friends, is why we named her Blanche. She is absolutely and irrevocably relying on the kindness of strangers, and that would be us.

Our luna moth’s namesake, Blanche Dubois, from Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, as channeled by Vivien Leigh

Blanche laid multiple eggs in four different areas of the doors. The caterpillars will hatch in 10 days, if they make it, and we’re going to be ready for them. We’ll be building a cage for them and tracking their progress, so stay tuned 😉 It’s really exciting to think that we might get to have a small part in helping!

Bright blessings,
CJ & Kay

A Fungus Amungus

I couldn’t resist saying fungus amungus, but I don’t really know what this is – I just know it caught my eye yesterday morning on our walk. If you know what it is, leave me a comment, would you? It’s beautiful.

funky fungus collage 2
Closeups of the funky fungi


This busy little argiope caught my eye as well. I love them, and they’re always welcome here.

Bright blessings,
CJ & Kay

Gypsum Moon Mine: Strawberry Quartz


One of the things we enjoy most on our early morning walks, away from our active digging areas, is watching the big quartz chunks that are gradually emerging from the earth. Often, after a good hard rain, a piece that was mostly buried one day will be ready to excavate the next, so we usually try to wait till Mother Nature’s done at least some of the work before we finish digging them out.

There’s one particular big piece of quartz that had us really intrigued, though, because we could see hints of the most extraordinary shade of reddish pink and all kinds of other major sparkles – red and silver and gold, oh my! – as well. A couple of weeks ago, Kay couldn’t hold out any longer, and we began digging. We finished excavating it about an hour later, then headed for home to clean it up and see what it was all about.

strawberry 3
Kay holding the strawberry quartz right after we dug it out.
strawberry 2

This is what it looked like in the late afternoon sun after we had hosed it down a bit at home. The quartz is smooth in some places, and there are crystals visible throughout. Takes your breath away, yes?

Almost 12 full pounds of gorgeous strawberry quartz

So what, exactly, makes this particular chunk of quartz so vibrantly pink, as opposed to the other chunks that we regularly get from Gypsum Moon Mine, which range from clear to milky to pink to yellow to blue-gray? The presence of several other minerals, including:

  • Brookite, silvery grey rutile crystals scattered on the outside as well as embedded in the quartz itself.
  • Black magnetite which has oxidized to hematite, forming thin black or red crystals visible on the surface.
  • Limonite, a mineral mixture which can be found in the vugs and cracks and can be washed away, leaving behind some of the most interesting yellow, pink and clear crystals.
  • Lepidocrocite, exquisitely tiny red crystals, almost impossible to see individually without magnification.

Gypsum Moon Mine 2 Gypsum Moon Mine 1

Gypsum Moon Mine 3 Gypsum Moon Mine 4 Gypsum Moon Mine 6 Gypsum Moon Mine 7 Gypsum Moon Rocks 5

They don’t photograph well, but there are also plenty of tiny gold sparkles that can be seen glistening in the light, a beautiful shade of sunlight yellow. Not enough gold to make us rich, but still fun to find. We often think about the biggest gold nugget ever found in NC, which was found from right down the creek from us, over in Cabarrus County, in 1799. If you click here you’ll be able to read a complete history of the North Carolina gold rush – and there’s a timeline, with clickable links, so I really had a complete geek-out when I found it 😉

We love to hear from you, so feel free to post a comment or question – or joke, or recipe, whatever – below  🙂

Bright blessings,
CJ & Kay