Monday, June 28, 2010

Grasshopper Weather

I was sitting on the porch when I heard a sound exactly like a softball hitting the ground. I looked at some rustling in the grass, expecting to see a wounded bird or something, and instead spotted this:

I've seen a lot of grasshoppers in my day, but this one had really cool colors and patterns on his outside. He was also gigantic. I looked around for something I could use for scale, but all I had were my guy's size 9 flipflops. When I put one down next to the bug, he was nice enough to crawl over it:

His legs were unbelievably long, too. Here's a snap where they're stretched out:

Now I'm trying to find out what kind of grasshopper he is. After looking through a bunch of photo sites I think he might be a variety of Southern Lubber (Romalea guttata), which is supposed to be pretty common in my region.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Filter Tricks

I've been scouting various spider webs around the yard for a crazy quilt I'm designing. Here's the model for my center block:

To create an embroidery pattern from a photo like this where the contrast is poor, first I filter the image to make a negative of it:

To make a better tracing pattern for my light table, I then use the photocopy filter on the negative image:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Morning Scroungers

Scrounging for bugs in my backyard this morning:

These two live in my neighborhood but haven't stopped by in a while; I think the pup makes them wary.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In Plain Sight

When I take the pup out at night I turn on flood lights to help me see any critters that might be prowling on the property. Sometimes, though, that doesn't always help me see everything:

Fortunately my guy warned me that the night spinners -- spiders who build webs in strange places after dark and then take them back down before dawn -- were back, and when I turned off the outside lights, sure enough:

I had to take a shot from the side in order to get the web to show up, and I didn't try to get too close, so you can't really see how huge this particular web was. I figure it was almost as tall as me, about four feet wide, and had anchoring threads that ran thirty feet from a nearby tree to our walkway plants:

Careful where you walk at night.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Golden Spinner

I found this tiny beauty basking in the sun in our old oak tree:

She and her web gleamed like they were made of glass.

Sometimes the littlest things just blow me away.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How Do You Play This?

It's hard for a 15 year old to sit in sweltering heat for hours in a packed stadium to watch her brother graduate, so I didn't object to Kat bringing a video game along to keep herself entertained. She ended up giving it to a bored little boy sitting in front of us and spent almost two hours helping him play the game.

And people say teenagers have no patience. Ha.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Elusive Lady

You might remember how back in March I finally got a photo of Red, a cardinal who has been visiting my place for the last four years. Red's elusiveness is only surpassed by that of his lady, who rarely comes anywhere near the feeders. Until today I've only managed to snap this blurry shot of her:

Recently a friend told me cardinals are crazy for black sunflower seeds, so I started putting out a wild bird seed mix that had some in it, and today it finally paid off:

Still a bit blurry, as I had to snap these shots fast, and this next one is also lightened so you can see her colors a little better. She's brown and orange, not red, but she has the sweetest little face:

I think I'm turning into a bird stalker, ha.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Snake by Snake

The pup and I found this four-foot-long black racer about six feet from the porch, and fortunately my daughter and her friends were nearby to take this zoom shot for me, because the pup wanted to eat the racer and it was all I could do to hang onto his leash.

Black racers are good snakes, non-venomous, and eat pretty much anything including small dead things, which is an important part of the food chain and helps keep our property tidy. They're also extremely shy, dislike noise and avoid humans, so we rarely see them this close to the house.

Although the racer wasn't behaving as if it were agitated, I still warned the girls not to get too close (racers will bite if they feel cornered or threatened.) Once the girls went inside with the pup I returned to see if I could get another shot. And then saw that our racer had a much bigger friend with him:

I didn't get a clear shot before they took off, but I'd say his friend was at least six feet long.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

'Twas brillig . . .

. . . and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree.
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came wiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

-- poem by Lewis Carroll

-- poetry cake by PBW, Kat & friends