Thursday, March 15, 2018

An Attempt To Catch Up!

We re-retired two weeks ago and boy has the time flown by. 

It is almost like going to work slows things down somehow. 

For Nicole, this couldn't have been more true.  It seemed that as Spring started to arrive in FLA no matter how early she left for work, she was always arriving late.

Here are a few reasons why...

Meet Reason #1...  Rhinella merianae

Cane Toad, Rhinella merianae (2)
                                                             A Cane Toad. 

Not only did pictures need to be taken, the front feet were deformed and assistance was given to help him to the grass.

Reason #2... The Grub named Cotinis nitida who will become the Green June Bug.

Reason #3... A caterpillar from the Sphingidae family - Most likely Virginia Creeper Sphinx (Darapsa myron)

This beauty, also in the Sphinx family was Reason #4... Xylophanes tersa

the Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar with its beautiful 'eyes'.

Probably the most interesting of the bunch is Reason #5...

Just hanging around on the YMCA fence... Oiketicus abbotii

This amazing worm builds its cocoon / permanent home by gathering up small twigs

or leaves and 'pasting' them onto it's back.

The Bagworm is a fascinating creature.  Although both male and female larvae form a bag as they feed, the females will never fully develop wings, fly or even leave the bag.  Male moths fly to the immobile female, mate and she lays the eggs inside the bag (up to 1000 of them) after which she either dies inside or falls out and dies on the ground nearby. 

You rarely see more than this much of the Abbot's Bagworm but what beautiful 'tiger-like' markings it has.

So, all in all, with more and more critters a crawlin' it is probably a good idea that Nicole left the Depot sooner rather than later.  And, since we've got new adventure plans in the works, Darlene figured she ought to increase her free time, as well.

We've been working on projects, sorting through what little possessions we have, visiting with family and just plain enjoying re-retirement.

Number Nine is still eating, pooping and growing.  Also, he just molted.... again! 

We have no idea what is going on with him other than he has not pupated.

Meanwhile, his seven pupated Spotted Oleander Moth siblings have emerged and been released back into the wilds of the Oleander Farm.

Also released is a total of three Armyworm Moths.  The first two Nicole identified as Sweet Potato Armyworm moths.

This latest one, although still determined to be in the armyworm family, she has not been able to positively ID.

Two of our armyworm cats passed away which leaves just one more recently pupated that we are awaiting the emergence of.

What was amazing about this fourth one was that it pupated right out in the open.

Final molted skin and this one is due to be a female.  Can you tell?

It was fascinating to witness as these usually pupate buried underground.

This out in the open pupating may indicate a problem though so only time will tell if it this one will emerge.

We've also been working on some Annie projects.  While Darlene gave her a full interior scrub down (which included removing the back panel of the fridge and eliminating six years of nasty on the fans and fins) Nicole took to replacing the passenger side window channels and beltlines. 

The original rubber channels and beltlines which are approaching 30 years of age come June had long ago begun to more resemble old plastic.  That didn't bother us so much as they were still functioning well enough.  However, back in 2015 we encountered a very strong hail storm in Wyoming which caused quite a bit of damage to many plastic parts of the van.

In the case of the window trims, the damage had brought about movement as the windows went up and down and in some locations the trim had completely separated from itself.  So, we decided it was time to order some new ones.

Woo Hoo!  Annie gets new parts for her Birthday!  Soft and flexible...

New felt on top and what used to be felt on the bottom.

A little leverage did the trick for most of it.  Although it was time consuming, it wasn't difficult.

Thousands of pieces piled up throughout the project.  The old stuff was super brittle.

Ignore the paint job.... Just look at that new window beltline rubber!

So, it wasn't an overly difficult job. 

The new channels went in with ease and having the vent window out made it easy to clean it and lube it up for easier opening. 

The most difficult part was fitting the beltlines which just didn't want to go in exactly as we would have liked but in the end all worked out and Annie's passenger window is now rolling up and down in style!  Got the driver's side to do yet still but all in all pleased with the result.

The project for today is to add some solar material to the back of our curtains.  First, they needed to be hand washed and hung to dry.

Boy was that long overdue!  We're pretty sure 30 years of dirt had kept the light from coming in.

But that's o.k. because we have some left over material that Nicole's cousin gave us that we'll line the back of them with.

This material reportedly reduces energy loss and keeps summer heat and winter chill out.

Although we could have just made new curtains out of the awesome paisley print we've grown quite pleased with our original classics.  So, we opted to just attached it to the back of our current panels and we're pretty psyched to see how it works. 

That about does it except for a three day visit from Nicole's brother that involved lots and lots of walking in the woods and many critter and creature encounters.  We'll get to that next time.

Until then...

                                                               Enjoy your day!