Tiny garden visitors offer unlikely beauty

Written by Doug Oster on .

INSTA blog super tight mothAThis cabbage looper butterfly posed for a portrait while sitting on 'Suncatcher' tulip. Photos by Doug Oster

blog tulips wideACan you see the butterfly?

The morning sun filters through the new leaves of maples and other trees waking up for spring.

I've been infatuated with these 'Suncatcher' tulips from Longfield Gardens, the weather has been perfect to keep them happy. While working in the garden, I noticed a cabbage looper butterfly on one of the blooms. It was still cold enough for the insect to happily sit for a portrait.

This is the butterfly which lays eggs on members of the brassica family. Cabbage, broccoli, kale, collards and others are the host plant for the butterfly. The larval stage is the green cabbage worm which does plenty of damage to the plants. To prevent it, I always cover plants from that family with a floating row cover. Here's a video showing how it's done.

But even though this butterfly makes cabbage worms, isn't it beautiful? You can't blame the pest for trying to perpetuate the species. There are plenty of ways to share the garden successfully with them. The key for me is to specifically target a pest or disease and try to prevent the problem without disrupting the balance of nature.

blog nice tight pollenA

While cutting some white tulips for a vase, I discovered this little bug covered in pollen down in the yellow throat of the flower. I have no idea what it is, but it looks cool.

BLOG first toadA

The first toad of the garden frantically hopped out of my path as I walked around the perennial garden. When the little guy finally found a place to sun, I got close for a picture. Not everyone thinks toads are beautiful, but I do. They eat lots of pests too, one of their favorites is slugs. They are the ultimate organic control for the pests. They just need to keep their eye out for snakes, who would love to make a meal out of the toad.

blog double suncatcherAEven though 'Suncatcher' is a single tulip, this stem formed two buds, which is unusual.

blog pretty dandelionsA

There's no doubt dandelions are beautiful, right? There's good for you too, but it's too late to pick the greens. If you're interested in trying them, wait until they are done flowering (although the flowers are edible too), and cut the greens to the ground. What comes up next will be pretty tasty. I like to through them in a salad with other spring greens.

insta ostergruss radishA

I had to grow 'Ostergruss' radish. It's my namesake, but actually means Easter greeting in German. Radishes love cool weather, these were planted a few weeks ago and can already be harvested. I'm going to wait until they get a little bigger. If some of your radishes don't head up, let them continue growing, flower and go to seed. The young seed pods are tasty and you'll get a lot of them.

BLOG insta unfurlingA

There's an area I call "The Fern Room" in my garden. The floor of the forest there is filled with these hay scented ferns. I've got an old garden chair sitting out there with another to put my feet up on. I don't get to sit there very often, but when I do, it's relaxing to sit and watch the chipmunks run from place to place not knowing I'm there.


Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Empty Netter Assists - Shero joins Devils - 05-05-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Former Penguins general manager Ray Shero (above) heads to New Jersey.

-What could Shero's hiring by the Devils mean to the Penguins this offseason?

-“I'm sure people will ask that based upon our working together in the past and having some success or winning the Cup together. That's nothing that I have any preconceived notion on at all. I believe Dan is a really good coach. He'll be a head coach again in the National Hockey League, but I've got to do what's best for the Devils and Dan's got to do what's best for him and if that leads us a certain way, so be it.” - Shero on potentially hiring former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma as the Devils' next coach.

-The Penguins will participate in a prospect tournament at London, Ont. in September.

-The Penguins and Blue Jackets are trying to sort out territorial television rights in Eastern Ohio.

-“He’s a little bit of a heavy player. When the physicality picks up, he can affect a team with his physicality. You add a player like that, and his goal-scoring ability, it’s a good mix.” - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach John Hynes on Scott Wilson (right).

-The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins recalled defensemen Harrison Ruopp, Clark Seymour and goaltender Eric Hartzell from the Wheeling Nailers and signed forward Sahir Gill to a professional tryout contract.

-Former Penguins goaltender Andy Chiodo has joined HC Innsbruck of Austria's EBEL.

-Happy 42nd birthday to former Penguins goaltender Johan Hedberg. Acquired at the 2001 trade deadline along with Bobby Dollas in exchange for Jeff Norton, "The Moose" spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins. After finishing the 2000-01 season with a 7-1-1 record, 2.64 goals against average and .905 save percentage in nine games, Hedberg emerged as a suprise playoff starter for the Penguins. In 18 postseason games that spring, Hedberg was 9-9 with a 2.30 goals against average, .911 save percentage and two shutouts. In 2001-02, Hedberg appeared in 66 games and had a 25-34-7 record with a 2.75 goals against average, a .904 save percentage and six shutouts. His loss total led the NHL and remains a franchise record. During 2002-03, he saw action in 41 games and went 14-22-4 with a 3.14 goals against average .895 save percentage and one shutout. The following offseason, Hedberg was traded to the Canucks for a draft pick. In 116 games with the Penguins, Hedberg went 46-57-12 with a 2.88 goals against average, .901 save percentage and seven shutouts.

-Happy 49th birthday to former Penguins forward Mike Stapleton. A free agent signing in the 1992 offseason, Stapleton spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. In 78 games in the 1992-93 campaign, Stapleton recorded 13 points and helped the Penguins win their first Presidents' Trophy. He appeared in four postseason game that spring and did not record a point. The following seasons saw him appear in 58 games and record 11 points. Midway through that season, he was claimed off waivers by the Oilers. In 136 games with the Penguins, Stapleton recorded 24 points. He is currently a scout with the Ducks.

-Happy 50th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Grant Jennings (right). The least celebrated player acquired in the Penguins' legendary 1991 trade deadline deal which brought him to Pittsburgh along with Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson in exchange for John Cullen, Jeff Parker and Zarley Zalapski, Jennings spent parts of five seasons with the Penguins. Hardly an offensive dynamo, Jennings recorded four points in 13 games for the Penguins down the stretch of the 1990-91 season and recorded two points in 13 postseason games that spring as the Penguins won their first Stanley Cup title. Jennings' first full season in Pittsburgh was 1991-92 and he appeared in 53 games while scoring nine points. He appeared in 10 postseason games that spring and failed to record a point but helped the team defend successfully defend the Cup. In 1992-93, Jennings saw action in 58 games and recorded five assists. He played in 12 postseason games that spring and did not record a point. During 1993-94, Jennings played in 61 games and scored six points. He was limited to three postseason games that season and failed to record a point. After 25 games and four assists in 1994-95, Jennings was dealt to the Maple Leafs in exchange for Drake Berehowsky at the trade deadline. In 210 regular season games with the Penguins, Jennings recorded 28 points. In 38 postseason games, he scored two points.

-Happy 64th birthday to former Penguins forward Willy Lindstrom. Claimed off waivers from the Oilers prior to the start of the 1985-86 season, "The Wisp" spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins and was the first player in NHL history to play with both Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. His first season in Pittsburgh saw him play in 71 games and record 31 points. He spent one more campaign in the NHL with the Penguins and recorded 23 points in 60 games. After leaving the sport for one season entirely, Lindstrom joined Brynas IF Gavle in Sweden for the 1988-89 season. In 131 regular season games with the Penguins, Lindstrom scored 54 points.

Happy 43rd birthday to former Penguins forward Zigmund Palffy. A free agent signing in the 2005 offseason, Palffy spent part of one season with the Penguins and recorded 42 points in 42 games in 2005-06. Midway through that campaign, Palffy announced his retirement and left the NHL. His biggest claim to fame with the Penguins was that he scored the 10,000th goal in franchise history in the second period of a 6-3 home loss to the Flyers, Nov. 19.

IIHF World Championship

-Sidney Crosby had a goal for Canada which beat the Czech Republic, 6-3, in a preliminary round game. Panthers forward and former Penguins captain Jaromir Jagr had an assist for the Czech Republic.

-Happy times for Crosby and company:

-Czech Republic defenseman Jan Hejda seemed genuinely surprised by the presence of Crosby:

-Jagr and Czech Republic goaltender Ondrej Pavelec had a moment:

-Happy times for the Czech Republic:

-A good look at the lid of Canada goaltender Mike Smith:

-Evgeni Malkin was held without a point for Russia which lost to the United States, 4-2. Malkin had 18:22 of ice time on 24 shifts.

-Malkin roamed the ice:

-Russia forward Vladimir Tarasenko shielded Coyotes defenseman John Moore from this puck:

-United Staes and Devils forward Stefan Matteau will miss the rest of the tournament due to a broken finger.

-Bruins forward Loui Eriksson had a hat trick for Sweden in an 8-1 rout of Latvia.

-Sweden forward Joel Lundqvist and Latvia forward Janis Sprukts were each focused on this faceoff:

-Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne made 20 saves for Finland in a 5-0 shutout of Norway. Panthers forward and former Penguin Jussi Jokinen had a goal and an assist for Finland.

-Happy times for Finland. Not so much for Norway forward Martin Røymark:

-Rinne kept an eye on this puck:

-Norway forward Patrick Thoresen and Finland forward Joonas Kemppainen battled for this puck:

-Norway goaltender Lars Volden had issues with this puck:

-After the Jump: The Capitals takes a 2-1 series lead on the Rangers.

Playoff Stuff
Rangers - Canadiens

-Goaltender Braden Holtby made 30 saves for the Capitals in a 1-0 shutout of the Rangers in Game 3. Washington leads the series, 2-1.

-Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stoned Capitals captain/forward Alex Ovechkin here:

-Fluky Goal of the Night: Capitals forward Jay Beagle scored the game's only goal by banking a puck from behind the net:

-Capitals defenseman and former Penguin Brooks Orpik was shaken up after this unpenalized hit by Rangers forward Rick Nash:

-The Capitals' crease was crowded:

-Happy times for the Capitals. Not so much for Rangers forward Derick Brassard:

-Lundqvist seemed indifferent towards the gentlemen cleaning the near near his crease:

-Holtby was all over this puck:

-Capitals coach Barry Trotz had words with forwards Nicklas Backstrom (left) and Beagle:

-“It’s hard to get a shot. We can’t shoot it through.” - Rangers forward Martin St. Louis on the Capitals' defense.

-The Capitals recalled defenseman Nate Schmidt from Hershey of the AHL.

Canadiens - Lightning

-Canadiens forward David Desharnais did not travel with his team to Tampa due to an illness.

-“We understand we’re in a tough position. It’s not a perfect scenario and it’s not what we anticipated. But all season we showed a lot of character, we’ve dealt with a lot of adversity. I like the way [the team has] responded the right way.” - Canadiens coach Michel Therrien on his team being in a 0-2 series deficit.

-Did Canadiens forward Brandon Prust hurt himself and his team by going public with what referee Brad Watson allegedly said to him during Game 2?

-EN Says: The comments from former referee Kerry Fraser about how current officials operate is pretty damning towards the NHL. Basically, Fraser confirms officials carry grudges against certain players and teams. The fact that the NHL's management allows this "zebra mafia" to operate with little oversight is disgusting.

Blackhawks - Wild

-“We’re down 0-2, but we’re down 0-2 because we didn’t play well. We played our game for two periods out of the six.” - Wild forward Thomas Vanek (right).

-“I don’t think we should just assume that because we’re coming back home that all will be right in the world. [Chicago is] a good team, and I’m expecting them to come in with a real strong effort, and I’m expecting a hard game.’’ - Wild coach Mike Yeo on Game 3 at the Xcel Energy Center.

Ducks - Flames

-Presuming he plays in Game 3, Flames rookie forward Sam Bennett will participate in his ninth game of the season and will activate the first season of his entry-level contract.

-“We’re not here to say how good they are. We’re here to beat them. They beat us in the first two games — good for them. Now they’re in our rink. And we’re going to be ready for business.” - Flames coach Bob Hartley on the Ducks.

Non-Playoff Stuff
Central Division

-The Jets will move their AHL affiliate from St. John's, Newfoundland to their own MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The franchise will be take on its former name, the Manitoba Moose.

Pacific Division

-Marta Varlamova, wife of Kings defneseman Slava Voynov, agreed to take part in domestic violence counseling in order to avoid a charge of criminal contempt. Varlamova was offered counseling as after she declined to testify against her husband who is facing domestic violence charges after he allegedly assaulted here in October. Voynov is currently suspended by the NHL.

(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, Alex Brandon/Associated Press, Matej Divizna/Getty Images, Kirk Irwin/Getty Images, Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images, Martin Rose/Getty Images, Patrick Smith/Getty Images and Penguins Hockey Cards)

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.


Written by Rob Rogers on .

The problems in Baltimore are the result of centuries of institutional racism that have created a massive disparity in wealth, education and mobility. These are deeply rooted problems that can't be solved by simply giving better training to police. But that's a start. 

050515 Avengers

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Devils hire Shero as general manager - 05-04-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Ray Shero (right), the general manager who oversaw the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup championship, has been hired as the general manager of the New Jersey Devils.

Shero will replace Lou Lamoriello who will be promoted to team president. Lamorello, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, has been the Devils' general manager since 1987.

Hired by the Penguins in 2006 to replace Craig Patrick, another member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Shero directed the Penguins for eight seasons. During Shero's tenure with the Penguins, the franchise had a 373-193-56 record in the regular season. In addition to the Stanley Cup championship in 2009, Shero saw the Penguins win the Eastern Conference in 2008, his second season with the team.

Shero's final five seasons saw the Penguins fall short of matching that success. With the team never advancing past the conference final round, Shero was fired in the 2014 offseason with two years remaining on his contract.

After sitting out the 2014-15 NHL season, Shero, who did some scouting work for USA hockey, was hired by the Devils today.

Shero will take over a Devils organization which has struggled in recent seasons. While the Devils did reach the Stanley Cup final in 2012, they have failed to qualify for the postseason in four out of the past five seasons.

Much like he did with Patrick, Shero faces the task of replacing a legendary general manager in Lamoriello in hopes of changing the course of a once-proud organization.

Shero won't have the benefit of high-end draft picks however. There isn't a Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Marc-Andre Fleury in the organization. The Devils have more aging veterans on their last legs than high-end prospects.

Shero's first job will be to find a new head coach. The obvious connection to Shero is former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma who has one year remaining on his contract with the team.


-EN Says: For the Penguins, the biggest benefit from Shero's hiring is that it frees them from the year remaining on his contract and spares them from having to pay him several millions of dollars. It could potentially free them from the year remaining on Bylsma's contract if Shero tries to hire him too.

For an organization which had to hustle to sell tickets this season and saw the financial benefit of only two home playoff games this season, lopping off of at least one big front office contract from the payroll would be substantial for a variety of reasons including how it may operate with regards to potential buyouts of player contracts.

It could also lead to an exodus of sorts from the Penguins' front office. Associate general manager Jason Botterill, assistant general managers Bill Guerin, Tom Fitzgerald and virtually the entire scouting department were hired by Shero. Fitzgerald, who primarily oversee the team's prospects, is particularly close to Shero. More than a few faces from the team's front office could head to Newark to join Shero.

What the Penguins won't get is a compensatory draft pick from the Devils for hiring Shero with a year remaining on his contract. According to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, the Penguins declined to pursue the pick.

It will be interesting to see how much freedom Shero truly has to operate with in New Jersey. While Lamoriello is stepping away as general manager, he will still have a looming presence as president. As one of the NHL's biggest control freaks, it's hard to see him truly turning over the Devils, a team completely constructed in his image, to someone else. While it's ludicrous to suggest Shero would take on the job to be a puppet, it's naive to think Lamoriello won't have a dominant voice in many of the Devils' operations.

Regardless of who is pushing the Devils' buttons, this won't be a quick turnaround. The Devils have seen their once impressive depth erode over the years due to a variety of factors. At one time, the Devils were one of the NHL's best in terms of drafting and developing talent. In recent years, high-end prospects such as Adam Larsson and Jacob Josefson have not panned out. And while Northern New Jersey was never a glamor destination, the Devils have not had success in luring or retaining free agent players outside of aging veterans hoping for one last payday.

Regardless of how much autonomy he truly has, Shero has a tall task in front of him with the floundering Devils.


Update: A few quotes from the Devils' conference call with Lamoriello and Shero:

Shero on being hired by the Devils:

"I received a call from Lou [Lamoriello] after he reached to Pittsburgh for permission to talk to me. And having sat down with him numerous times in conversations with him and Josh Harris and David Blitzer, so for me, I looked at the situation from talking to Lou and getting to meet Josh and David and [seeing] their commitment to the Devils and winning. Of course, I've followed Lou since playing against him college. I was playing at St. Lawrence, he was coaching Providence. Part of the attraction was well before Lou was there [with the Devils], my father [Fred Shero] was actually the color analyst back when the team started [in New Jersey]. Max McNab was the [general manager]. I hung around there quite a bit when I was in college. The opportunity for me to work with a Lou Lamoriello who is in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a veteran, one of the most respected general managers in the history of the game, is certainly an opportunity that I was not going to turn down. I'm really looking forward to it."

On the past year after being fired by the Penguins:

"This past year has actually been fantastic for me. …. I was working with USA Hockey spending some time in Ann Arbour (Mich.) with the [Under-18] team. Going to the World Junior Championships. ... But mostly I spent time with my kids and my family and my wife. My one boy is up in Boston playing hockey, going to Boston College next year. The other boy is boy is in prep school … in New Hampshire. Spent a lot of time up there and was certainly was able to catch games whether it was NHL, college games. Kept busy but at the same time took advantage of the opportunity with family. So it was a very productive year both professionally and personally."

On difference in style between him and Lamoriello:

"That's a big question. I don't think anybody is like anybody else, especially when it comes to be a general manager in the National Hockey League. That was one of the things Lou and I talked about early in our conversations, how he may do things might be different from me and vice versa. It doesn't mean it's good or bad. It's just different. … I've said this to both Josh Harris and David Blitzer that this is what I'm like so you know in terms of how I am. I'm different than Lou. No one's like Lou. No one's like me."

On his time with the Penguins:

"We had great success the first few years and the last five years, in terms of the expectations to get back to win a [Stanley] Cup, we never got back tot he Finals to win it. So that responsibility lies with me. That's the accountability of the job you have. Over the course of the year, it's been a good time for me to spend time asking a lot questions. … Talking to [general managers], talking to coaches. How they do things, in terms of whether it's scouting, whether it's player decisions. You're interacting with coaching. You're interacting with ownership. I think you can learn a lot from that. Like with anything in life, hopefully you can make yourself better from it and you can benefit down the line and hopefully that's the case here with New Jersey."

Lamoriello on hiring Shero:

"I think the decision was to get maybe someone who has had experiences in different organizations but also has had the backround in winning. Know what it is to win. Has experience winning. I think that's what's extremely important in anything you do. There is a difference. The timing as something that came about of the people potentially available. Ray and I spent some time together for a period of time. It wans't something that was rushed. It wasn't something that had to be done. But I think and felt it was the right decision at that time and it was my recommendation that we go forward in this direction and feel very comfortable with it."

Again on hiring Shero:

"It's the right thing. I think we have to be realistic in life in different areas and I think we have to be honest. And I think right now this is a perfect time. We've got a person at a perfect age with great experience, that's been in a couple of different organizations. Has had a year off. Has a chance to take a step back. What when wrong where? What went right? What would I do different. And I think we're going to be the beneficiary of it as an organization. I think the one thing that is consistent within this organization and was certainly consistent with every conversation I had with Ray is the humility that he has. And he has no ego and he knows that that logo is the most important thing. And it's not one individual. And when you get that, you get a good feeling. And I think this is a very positive thing today."

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Vanity Fair's Star Wars cover

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

Vanity Fair has a behind-the-scenes report from the new “Star Wars” movie from contributing editor Bruce Handy and with photos by Annie Leibovitz. 
It’s the cover of the June issue, available as a digital edition on Thursday, May 7, and on newsstands nationwide on Tuesday, May 12.  The website provides a taste of the report, including this about J.J. Abrams
Sitting in an edit bay at his Bad Robot production office and pointing to a frame of  “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Abrams told Vanity Fair contributing editor Bruce Handy, “I have a thought about putting Jar Jar Binks’s bones in the desert there. I’m serious! Only three people will notice, but they’ll love it.”
Abrams also said Harrison Ford “was excited to get back in those shoes again, which was really interesting because I thought he hadn’t been a fan. I kept hearing those rumors when I was a kid.” Abrams did have one specific note for the veteran actor: “I knew that he had done in some movies a kind of more growly thing, and I didn’t want Han to be growly.” Whatever Abrams said must have worked because, as the director himself put it, “There was a fire in his eyes that you see in the movie. ...”
As for Abrams, well, he credits another one of those practical effects for his youthful zeal. “I mean, walking onto the Millennium Falcon set? To be on it, it’s insane. There were people who literally cried when they walked onto that set. It’s a strange thing, the effect it has.” If the crew was crying, imagine what the audiences will do.
The website promises more behind-the-scenes Star Wars secrets courtesy of Abrams, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, and others. Here's a taste:

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.