Happy THIRD of July!

3 July, 2016           Happy THIRD of July! 

The original title of this post was “Mostly pictures, redux.” Neither title is attention-grabbing, oh well. 

I put up a blog post in December of 2012 called “Mostly pictures.” In high school in the late 1970’s I read a 1971 book by John Updike called Rabbit Redux. Here’s a great explanation of the word from the Wikipedia entry about Rabbit Redux


Meaning and use of ‘redux’[edit]

Redux means “brought back, restored” (from the Latin reducere – bring back).[4] […] 

The book’s popularity resulted in a rise in the use of the word “redux” in popular discourse. In Rabbit at Rest, Rabbit notices: a story…in the Sarasota paper a week or so ago, headlined Circus Redux. He hates that word, you see it everywhere, and he doesn’t know how to pronounce it. Like arbitrageur and perestroika.[5]

Updike pronounced the word “ray-dooks.”


So if, like me, you don’t know how to pronounce that word, take heart – we’re not alone.

First of the “mostly pictures” for this week. I know I’ve posted a lot of gardenia pictures recently, I hope you haven’t tired of them. Before this year I was at one time aware of and ignorant of gardenias. If you have one thriving next to your front stoop, you will be ignorant no more. When it comes to flowers that smell good, there are gardenias, and then every other good smelling flower. Lilacs, peonies, hyacinths, roses – they all smell wonderful and they’re all my favorite, but they simply are not even in the conversation with a gardenia when it comes to fragrance. Or elegant good looks. No less important is the fact I took this picture today – that’s a flower blooming in Richmond in July. Evelyn’s put a lot of hard work into this:

There is not a plant in this world as fragrant as a gardenia

There is not a plant in this world as fragrant as a gardenia

She also has these delicious (they’re edible and faintly peppery tasting) nasturtiums glowing cheerfully within a camera-strap’s length of the gardenia; this picture also taken today:

Beautiful and delicious!

Beautiful and delicious!

My dad’s favorite color – he would have loved nasturtiums. He probably already did; I just don’t recall talking with him about them. 

She has our hydrangeas in full bloom, and brought some in to brighten our home (it’s dreary outside!):

July is the best time of year

July is the best time of year

Ditto for our roses!

It's amazing all this actually comes from our yard.

It’s amazing all this actually comes from our yard.

I was fortunate to spend some time outdoors this week (all time I spend outdoors is fortunate) and of course photographed the ospreys near West End Assembly of God (WEAG). There’s a lot of activity around the nest, including two adults and at least one juvenile. The juvenile won’t be juvenile much longer. I’m not certain when they head south; I wasn’t as aware last year. Always something new to learn.

I believe this is the female perched to the right of the nest. See between her “shoulder blades” that sort of sunken dark area in her breast? That’s her “crop,” where raptors (and some other birds) store food before they digest it. If it was full, it would look like she’d swallowed a tennis ball. I see it all the time. But she’s hungry; that sunken chest is the body shape of every hungry raptor. Woe to an unsuspecting fish very soon:

Makes me hungry just looking at her. She'll be eating soon.

Makes me hungry just looking at her. She’ll be eating soon.

This is zoomed back a bit; one of her offspring is sitting on the nest. There may be more than one but I never saw two at once so I can’t say for certain:

An osprey parent (right) and a young osprey (on the nest)

An osprey parent (right) and a young osprey (on the nest)

The male was very active and came in for a visit. Here’s the power line with him on the left and her on the right with the nest in the middle:

Ospreys left, right, and in middle (hidden by nest)

Ospreys left, right, and in middle (hidden by nest)

Evelyn and I also went out to eat this week at Perly’s, a downtown Richmond treasure. We headed over to the Virginia War Memorial after dinner. The War Memorial sits on a hill looking east down the river:

Beautiful view looking east past downtown Richmond

Beautiful view looking east past downtown Richmond

Summer clouds are the prettiest; these big puffy shapes won’t form in a winter sky. The photo above was taken facing east, toward Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. I rotated almost precisely 90º left and photographed these puffy white bulges of cumulus piling up in the north. If you’re interested in weather at all (even if you’re not), we don’t get bad weather from the north or the west here in Richmond. When the weather is coming unraveled in our area, it’s blowing up from the south or coming in from the east:

Every bit as beautiful as a gardenia, just w/o the lovely smell. And less symmetry.

Every bit as beautiful as a gardenia, just w/o the lovely smell. And with less symmetry.

In 2015 I was fastidious cataloging “Every living thing” at Pony Pasture. You can click on that “Every living thing” link; I did relatively well, photographing about fifty different species each of Pony Pasture Flora and Pony Pasture Fauna. But I never identified this dragonfly! I’ll figure it out this week; the people at BugGuide.Net are a treasure. And they’re so friendly and helpful it’s like having a really smart neighbor who will correctly answer any insect-related question you can think of, at any time of the day, on any day of the year. I know libraries and bookstores and books are really superb – very few people enjoy reading more than I do; I don’t even own a television – but BugGuide.net is unbeatable. For this week, just enjoy:

Every dragonfly is gorgeous.

Every dragonfly is gorgeous.

I stumbled across two more pictures I can’t resist using. This mockingbird enjoyed the evening at the War Memorial with us: 

A French speaker might say a mockingbird has a certain "je ne sais quoi"

A French speaker might say a mockingbird has a certain “je ne sais quoi”

The other I thought was a Blue-fronted Dancer (Argia apicalis) but again I’ve lost my certainty! A year ago I knew all of these! How quickly we (I) forget. The background’s not beautiful here; tree bark or paw paw leaves are much more attractive. Please add a comment (or email or facebook message) with a correct identification of this lovely animal: 

Possibly a Blue-fronted Dancer

Possibly a Blue-fronted Dancer

I’m coming up with more ideas to write about every day, and more structure. But talk is cheap! Hopefully next week. Two local authors have given me feedback; all I need to do is write! I had dinner last night with Evie’s and my friend Joel Elston, author of The Bench. Later this summer I’m getting together with my friend Weldon Bradshaw, author of My Dance with Grace. Next week…

Have a Happy Independence Day! Or if you’re not from the U.S.A., have an excellent Fourth of July anyway!

All best,


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, People, Pony Pasture, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Happy THIRD of July!

  1. Alex says:

    Love the dragonflys Jay! Actually the whole post 🙂

    • Hi Alex! Sorry about the long-delayed reply – thank you for the note! I’d forgotten how much you love dragonflies. I had some near misses on my most recent post (Owls yawn) but I hope to get some better dragonflies next week (July 24). Thanks again for the note! Have a great day,


      PS Today I went to the river with Mackey, Turner, Yuki, Lola and Luna. BIG pack! I’ll have all five again next week too, maybe I’ll get some pictures. Today was too wild.

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