Monday, September 16, 2013

Conditioned responses*

I was having a discussion on Facebook today. It started out about spiders and morphed into snakes -- two creatures people (especially women) are afraid of.  Just a glance, a thought, and they're shuddering.


I understand many spiders and snakes are poisonous, so I imagine we humans have discouraged hanging out with the creatures as a safety issue since Neanderthal days.  Still, we have brains don't we?  Why can't we reason?  "Wolf spiders are harmless and, in fact, are actually beneficial to have around."  Or, "Garter snakes are warm, smooth and harmless and are even kind of pretty."

Why does a photo like this of a Wolf Spider taking good care of her babies make most folks want to run screaming:

When a photo like this, of a duck mama doing exactly the same thing elicit "Awwww... how sweet" responses?

Isn't it a shame that we can't break free from this conditioned response?  Isn't it too bad that so many folks can't see past the outside of something in order to see that they're really not so bad?

It goes further than bugs. 

This animal is frequently feared and vilified:

Whereas we see a dog like my puppy, and everyone assumes she's a sweetheart:

And it's about people, too.  We look and see a kid with a Mohawk and tats and think the worst.  We judge based on size, clothes, race...

For some reason, hearing the folks hating on spiders and snakes really made me sad today.  So I felt the need to share.

Thursday, May 02, 2013


This morning, I received a call my SILwith a plea.  You see, she's starting a bee hive on her property and had ordered bees which had arrived at our local post office.  They were not overly happy to have the bees in their building, especially since 5 - 10 had gotten loose (they were clinging to the side of the screen, but I can understand how that can be disconcerting.

They know me well there, I'm in a couple times a week either checking mail or mailing out books and prizes for LASR and Goddess Fish, so when I walked in, they greeted me by name.  When I said, "I'm here to pick up some bees." the man nearly jumped for joy.  "THANK GOD!!!" and he disappeared.  I'd expected to have to provide some kind of information, but I suppose the fact I even knew there were bees there was ID enough.

He was wearing gloves as he brought them to me.  I had none, but figured honeybees aren't typically aggressive and grabbed hold of the little wood bars between the two boxes (3 lbs of bees and a queen on one side, 2 lbs of bees on the other).  I got a LOT of strange looks as I walked to my car ... that many bees aren't quiet... just listen...

I'm really fascinated by this whole project of hers ... so as she moves forward, I'll try to keep you updated as well. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

This is One Improperly Named Plant!*

Yesterday, I dug up a 4x4 plot of my butterfly garden.  Last year, I'd let the "Obedient Plant" grow (normally I pull it up, you'll understand why shortly) because it's just lovely, and the butterflies and bees really love the flowers.

However, as I was edging grass, I discovered obedient plant roots.  So, thought I'd edge it back from the garden a bit.  When I jabbed the shovel in -- I discovered a carpet of roots!  The entire garden was now filled with obedient plant, to the exclusion of all else.

The obedient plant is MASSIVELY invasive and, while lovely, certainly doesn't belong in a garden that is limited in size.  I ruthlessly dug and pull out roots and more roots and more roots ... in fact, I filled up my five-gallon bucket THREE times and had piles of roots left over.

And, worse, I'm sure I've missed some.  So, this year, I'll make a point of weeding any and all obedient plant out of my butterfly garden.  I'll plant liatris instead.

Now I just have to pray I didn't destroy any milkweed roots that might have been in there...

Spring has sprung!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tour of Lake Winnipesaukee*

This past weekend, we spent at a little camp on Lake Winnipesaukee.  It's a lovely lake, very quiet and peaceful (this time of year -- don't go up on the Fourth of July, and avoid the hot spots like Weirs Beach and Ellacoya State Park if you want quiet).

It was also Bike Week, so we didn't leave the lake except to drive home.

Okay .... the pictorial tour -- these were taken on my phone, so I couldn't zoom as much as I would have liked on some.

Sunrise -- I was sitting on the dock as the sun peeked over the horizon:

There are ENORMOUS dock spiders here.  Even I, who am not spider phobic, have been taken aback by their size.  THIS is actually not the spider, but the skin he just shed.  The spider was hiding down below and I couldn't get a good picture.  They're about the size of the palm of my hand (including their legs).

A bald eagle nest on Blueberry Island. We saw the male flying quite a bit as the island is near where we were staying. In this picture, the female is hanging out with the kids.

Some folks who own property on the lake actually stay all summer without going home. Hence the need for a post office on the island.

Dakota loved riding on the boat, except when it got choppy -- then she climbed into my lap (and yes, she fits... just barely).

Where the rich folk live: Governor's Island.

You could buy your own place there -- this house is for sale.  It's only $12 million!

I love all the little islands -- most with one house on them.

And thus ends our boat tour of Lake Winnipesaukee.  I suspect you'll see more photos from up there, as we'll be spending a good part of our summer in that neck of the woods.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Today is a big day for the kidlet... she's advancing out of eighth grade and moving on to high school.  She's excited, nervous, sad, stressed.... I must have been hugged fifty times last night.

It's hard to believe that this is graduating from 8th grade:

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Garden

I decided to try something a little different with my veggie garden this year.  You  see, my garden never has enough room, and after digging up the area for the strawberries this year I was out of steam and had little desire to expand the veggie garden.

It's pretty big, but not enough if I want to plant enough to can and freeze:

So, I took some of the plants that don't grow much in width and planted them elsewhere... in my flower gardens.

I used this place:

To plant six eggplants:

And here along the front of the house I planted beets (which I forgot to take pictures of -- but which have lovely red/green foliage):

And here where I have mostly flowering ground cover, I planted six peppers:

That was a few weeks ago.  So far?  I've lost two beet plants and three eggplants and I have no idea why.  More, the rest of the eggplants and beet plants aren't really growing much.  One pepper got smothered by grass clippings when my DH mowed (for thirteen years, I've asked him to NOT mow clippings into my garden... he still doesn't listen) and may not make it, but the others are going strong and most have actually flowered.

Next year, I'll try something else in the circle garden.  I'm not sure if the sprinklers killed the ones that died or if they weren't getting enough sun.

In my main garden, I keep finding plants "topped". I had two tomatoes that looked like they were broken off.  The first time, I figured it for a chipmunk, the second time I was ready to cry.  I started digged the plants up to make room for new ones (which I realized was a bad move -- tomatoes will come back from being topped), and as I dug, I found a cut worm.  BAD (and now deceased) bug.

So, a week later, when one of my cucumbers suffered the same fate, I dug around the roots and sure enough, I found a cut worm.  I've never really had a problem with them before, so am frustrated.  I do NOT want to treat the place with pesticides, but alternatively, I'd sure like to have some plants survive.

My admiration for the pilgrims grows every year I try to garden out here.