Archives for October 2010
Joy! My next-door neighbors discovered a magnificent dragonfly on a hanging plant. It was kind of upside down and very still. I ran for my camera, and was able to get several good pictures. It never moved, although two of us and our cameras surrounded the poor little thing. Later, my neighbor moved the plant, and off it went. My guess is that this little guy was near the end of his adult stage, as he was more blue than pink, and was very lethargic. I'm pretty sure my dragonfly is a Roseate Skimmer: The Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) is a common southern dragonfly. The male of the species has a rose pink and red/maroon colored abdomen. Females of the species have orange-brown abdomens with clear orangish veins and a brownish thorax with a light stripe down back. The young have a bright pinkish or purple abdomen and when they are mature adults their thorax will develop a pale bluish tint. Wikipedia: It is characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and an elongated body. Dragonflies are similar to damselflies, but the adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most dragonflies are held away from, and perpendicular to, the body when at rest. Dragonflies possess six legs (like any other insect), but most of them cannot walk well. Dragonflies, says Wikipedia, are valuable predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants, and very rarely butterflies. They are usually found around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands because their larvae, known as "nymphs," are aquatic. Wikipedia continues: The larval stage of large dragonflies may last as long as five years. In smaller species, this stage may last between two months and three years. When the larva is ready to metamorphose into an adult, it climbs up a reed or other emergent plant. Exposure to air causes the larva to begin breathing. The skin splits at a weak spot behind the head and the adult dragonfly crawls out of its old larval skin, pumps up its wings, and flies off to feed on midges and flies. In flight the adult dragonfly can propel itself in six directions; upward, downward, forward, back, and side to side. The adult stage of larger species of dragonfly can last as long as five or six months. Wikipedia continues: The wings are normally clear except for the narrow brown tips at the edges. The juveniles are brown initially in both sexes with pale stripes as well as the abdomen being uniformly brown. A compound eye is a visual organ found in certain arthropods. The compound eye consists of between 12 and 1,000 ommatidia, little dark/bright sensors. The image perceived by the arthropod is "recalculated" from the numerous ommatidia which point in slightly different directions. In contrast to other eye types, there is no central lens or retina. Though the resulting image is poor in resolution, it can detect quick movements and, in some cases, the polarization of light. Dragonflies have about 30,000 facets to their compound eyes, giving them nearly a 360° field of vision.
Slideshow of pictures by my brother, David Crook
Jack Vorfeld had presence. It seems like only yesterday that a group of us stood around Jack's bed in a hospice facility and said goodbye. Although he'd been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on October 7, he had been sick a couple of months, and no one could seem to determine what was wrong. We were just about to order a CT scan when my brother David and I had to rush him to the ER, and it was there that they discovered what was wrong. If we had known he had less than two weeks to live, we would have asked all the family to get here. We knew it wouldn't be long, but the doctors said he could live for six weeks or possibly more. Most of the family was able to say goodbye, and some of our dear friends, but again, we didn't realize the limited time he had left. He had the ability to love unconditionally, and he lavished love and kindness his entire life. This is what I remember the most. Every one of his family and friends knew where they stood with him. And neighbors. And strangers. He came home about five years before he died after having helped a woman whose vehicle had broken down somewhere in the Phoenix area. She gave us the most stunning bookends made of polished rock. The picture at the top of the page was taken by David as a small group of family got into Ted's boat and went out beyond Kona to lay Jack to rest in the ocean he so loved. His sons, Ted and Peter, carefully dropped a beautiful disc containing his ashes, and the rest of us dropped tiny white orchids and plumeria blossoms. The disc was biodegradable, and it rapidly disintegrated and disappeared. What a strange, bittersweet experience. There's a more about Jack on my personal website. Thanks for letting me share.