Sunday, August 27, 2006

Nature in the yard and the dirty laundry

This morning, while doing the laundry, I uncovered this beastie. I wasn't sure at first if it was real or rubber (it was on it's back and we have rubber bugs, and it was in the dirty laundry - it could have been accidentally picked up with the socks or something) but when I saw a leg wave I had the answer. Ain't no bugs on me. I think it's a kind of scarab beetle. I have a Peterson Beetle book, but there are thousands of different kinds of beetles, and none of them match this one exactly in the book. This is the second one of these in my house. A couple of weeks ago, I was paying the bills at my desk when one of these did a fly by and I dropped to the floor (I'm afraid of giant cockroaches and better safe than sorry) and waited it for it to land. It landed in the bill basket and I put it in a bug tent and sent it off to school with Chicky and the beetle book the next day.


I've seen a beautiful spider web covered in dew the past two mornings. I had to play with the camera...


Yesterday I went and fetched our new resident, a hatchling cornsnake. We got her from a dear friend and amazing teacher, Sarah Tichnor, and I'm letting the children name it. We used to have a cornsnake at KIN (Bob), he was very sweet, gentle, and we had to give him away due to new health regulations for child care programs. However, at my house, reptiles are fine. Sexing a cornsnake is difficult (and not so important to us) so I have dubbed it a girl. She still rattles her tail defensively when handled (only at first) and I have read conflicting articles on when and how often to hold her. Right now I'm letting her get used to her new home. Tomorrow the children come home and I'm thinking about the ground rules.

baby corn snake

Nature abounds.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

In Bob We Trust

In a much deserved tribute to Bob Dylan (a.k.a. The Man) I am joining the Cult of Bob. I admit my youth and cannot claim to be a High Priestess of Bob at this point in my life, but I do consider myself an Acolyte, for sure. I aspire to High Priestessness at some point on my earthy journey.

I came to know Bob in a personal way fairly recently. Mostly, when I thought of him what came to mind were various people doing parodies of his vocal style. My parents were not Dylan fans, so what I knew of him I learned from the radio or covers that other people did. I remember when Guns 'n Roses had a hit with Knockin' on Heaven's Door and my brother (who was a huge G'nR fan) said to me, "Yea, isn't that song great! Axel wrote that." I made my you-are-so-fuckin'-wrong face at him and said, "He so did not write that song, Wade. Bob Dylan wrote that, like, a decade ago!" and he didn't believe me.

While I was a nanny in Minneapolis, the people I worked for had a greatest hits album of Bob's and I liked it. Sometimes when I clean I like to have music on to inspire me, but I couldn't clean while listening to Bob. He commanded my full attention to listen to the lyrics. This was during the late 80's and I am chagrined to say I was usually listening to some crappy fly-by-night pop music that I can't remember now, or won't admit to because it would lower my cool factor.

Bob was revealed in the fullness and power of his glory to me by my ex-brother-in-law, Frank. I adore The Band (ex-husband liked them) and had a very obsessive Robbie Robertson phase (I can still tell you more than you want to know of his musical loveliness). Since Frank knew and shared that musical fondness, he gave me Bob Dylan and The Band's double album Before the Flood and The Band's double album Rock of Ages for Christmas one year. Those albums totally floored me and I listened to them incessantly. The force of Bob Dylan was pretty clear to me then. Soon after that I rented the old documentary Don't Look Back and was amazed to watch him sitting at a typewriter just churning out songs and handing them to Joan Baez. "Here's another one." It was incredible, he was like a musical channel from the other side or something.

Last weekend I had the amazing fortune to be GIVEN tickets to see The Man. Jimmy Vaughn opened for him (Jimmy is a very good guitar player, but it must be hard to have had a younger brother who could play rhythm, lead guitar, AND sing all at the same time. Jimmy can't sing and play at the same time. He may be able to, but I didn't see it.) When Bob came out in his black pants with the white pinstripe, black shirt, white jacket with the sparkly doo-dads, and the cowboy hat, I was a gonner. I hooted, I hollared, I danced in my little spot, I jumped up and down with joy. He started out with Maggie's Farm and went on to do some of my favorites: Masters of War, It's all Right Ma (I'm only bleeding), Don't Think Twice, Shelter From the Storm, Boots of Spanish Leather, All Along the Watchtower... it was and hour and a half of pure, unadulterated BOB DYLAN, people. He played keyboards, his band was tight and watched him like a hawk. He was clearly the Bandleader and they knew it.

He didn't chitchat at all. No little comments before the songs, just playing and pausing to wipe the sweat from his sacred, legendary brow. He didn't look out at the audience once (I'm pretty glad about this because it was a shame how few people were at the ballpark in Winston-Salem. Very embarrassing. Where were you guys?)

I tend not to get into commercial icons. All my tattoos are symbols that are relevant to me: tao, Haida frog, labyrinth, and a cool South American tribute to the sun god Ra. Right now though, as a tribute to The Man, I'm thinkin' about the crowned eye insignia of Bob's somewhere on my body. The question is, where?

When I was a kid, one of my father's favorite games was, Guess Who Wrote that Song? The answer most of the time was Hank Williams, which was part of his schtick. Now that I know more of Dylan's repertoire, I could have The Bob Dylan Version.

Bob's new album Modern Times is now available. He's in a swing and crooning phase in addition to his kick-ass rockin' style - consider yourself warned, but it's still good.

May Bob be with you.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A sphinx and Koigu

This week I found a honkin' caterpillar hanging out on some grapevine in one of my forsythia bushes. It is a beautiful eumorpha pandorus sphinx. Here it has scrunched it's head up because it is rather annoyed. I think the third instar is kind of like caterpillar PMS, something is going on in it's body and it doesn't totally get it, but it's all moody and slightly pissed off in general. I've never had a caterpillar try and bite me, but this one did. I was out of fresh grapevine in the house and it wandered in the night. After almost a full day of looking for it, I found it on the underside of the tablecloth (I looked under the table at least six times already, how I missed it I have no idea) and as I was trying to put it on some fresh leaves it came after my finger with some pretty fierce mandibles. It got my fingernail and I could hear the scraping. So glad that wasn't my skin.

pandorus sphinx

On a more gentle and predictible note, here is a very lovely monarch. I thought I remembered hearing a few years ago that they were harder to see these days (probably due to pesticides) so when I first saw it I thought it was one of those almost-monarch-looking butterflies. Nope, it's the real deal.


And, in the world of knitting... I've finally started the chevron scarf from the Purl knitting book. It is supposed to be 78" long, so maybe I'll be done by Christmas. It's made of the very lovely Koigu Premium Painter's Pallette Merino (KPPPM) in a blue and green. I am really liking the color changes.

chevron pattern

Friday, August 11, 2006

Dry spell (on a couple fronts)

Do I know my NC summers or what? The gardens are severly bummed...birdhouse gourd vines - dying, zucchini - dying, tomotoes - sun-dried on the vine. Sigh. Since our gardens are new this year, and this being the land of red clay, our dry gardens aren't surviving well with only a morning watering. The not-so-worked clay has hardened and when I water in the morning it merely runs off and barely soaks the soil. A friend and lanscaper has recommended Perma-till which I plan to use to help counteract the clay issue. I've also had a compost pile and a leaf mould pile that I hope will help for next year. Chicky's garden of sunflowers has made the Goldfinches very happy. There are two pairs that are regular feeders. When the wind is blowing it looks like an amusement park ride for birds. The little darlings hold on to the stems while they bob and sway and when the wind dies down a bit they snack on a few seeds. I haven't been able to get close enough for a good photo op, but I'm trying.

Knitting lull over here. Several projects, not much time. The kids are back in school and now that I have custody on week nights we spend all our time doing routine life stuff. Actually, it feels like I spend all my time in the kitchen, either preparing food or cleaning up from the most recent dining experience. On occassion, I let the kids help with either end of the process, but having a galley size kitchen is a hinderance.

I have been reading before I konk out at night, though. I just finished John Irving's novel Until I Find You. I really adore that man's writing. He doesn't write wholly likeable characters, but that's a lot like life, right? This one had a more somber tone with less comic relief than most of his other work, but I must confess, I didn't want it to end. By the end of the eight hundred and some pages I wanted to know what else happened to Jack Burns.

Right now I'm reading William Least Heat Moon's book Blue Highways. This was recommeded to my dad by a friend, and my dad mentioned it to me, and I mentioned it to another friend who read and enjoyed it, and now it's my turn. Part on the road adventure, part history, it's a great wandering through the back roads of the US in the late 70's.