Friday, August 22, 2008

Posting lull

Sorry for the inactivity this week but I'm swimming in projects at the moment.I'm moving my ponies over to our neighbor's farm, having finally sealed a deal to rent eight acres of fenced pasture from her. There's a bit of work that will need to be done before everything is ready. And on top of that I'm helping another neighbor exercise her drop-dead gorgeous Haflinger pony.  A new school year is about to begin so there's curriculum to decide on, projects to plan, etc. and so on. Oh, and of course I'm still busy with paying work so there's little free time these days for anything else. The only thing I am making time for are my daily thee-mile walks. 

I hope to have a nice update on...something...with photos sometime at the beginning of the week!

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Friday, August 15, 2008

This is so gay...

I really don't understand men one bit. Take my husband as a shining example.

He knows I write erotica, and has even read some of it. What he hasn't read I've talked about. And in my dubious line of work I sometimes show him other stuff that I consider highly erotic, like some YouTube videos I found awhile back of a British show called Sugar Rush that doesn't play in the states. For those of you unaware of the series, it's about a young lesbian girl coming of age in a highly dysfunctional family. It's pretty graphic, very hot and I'm just heartsick that I can't rent it to watch here.

Larry was cool with the Sugar Rush videos, so of course I was puzzled when he was rifling through my desk the other day and flipped out when he came across some gay erotica. Gay male erotica.

Let me interrupt by saying that no one - and I do mean no one - should rifle through my desk unless they want to be shocked. If you pick up something off my desk and start reading, that's just asking for it. It'd be like waking through a field of land mines and then acting all indignant when your legs get blown off.

But the next thing I know there's Larry, mouth agape as he leafs through some the homoerotic Harry Potter fan-fiction my friend April had given me.

I guess there's no accounting for taste, huh? And I forgave him for not having any, because while I'm no fan of Snape/Harry, Draco/Harry, Dumbledore/Ron or any of the other possible pairings, some of it is really well written. And this was some of the hottest erotica, - gay, straight or sideways - that I'd ever read.

"What is this? Why do you have this?" he asked.

I shrugged. "It's hot," I said.

"No it's not!" he said. "This is sick!"

I snatched it out of his hand. "Well don't look at it, then!" Geesh. That's the advice I give to anyone who objects to porn. You'd think my husband would have sense enough to know that already. But whatever.

OK, so fast forward to today. My friend April is super, super nice to me. Not only does she copy gay porn she thinks I'll like and give it to me as a gift, but she also gives me advice whenever my goats are sick. If there was ever an all-around good and useful friend, it's April.

So when I decided to make my own foray into fan-fiction, she sprang to mind. Like me, she loves Harry Potter. Actually, I think she loves him even more. So I thought, why not do a gay parody video and dedicate it to her?

Here's the premise: Harry Potter enters Hogwarts unaware that the place is just run amuck with gayness. Right away everyone starts hitting on him, from the professors to fellow students like Draco Malfoy. All this is quite confusing to Harry; he wants to fit in, after all. Then Snape comes to his room one night and suggests Harry spy on Neville Longbottom who is not only totally gay but totally comfortable with it. So does Harry leave, or is he inspired by Neville to stay and become the school's next Gay Superstar? You'll have to watch to find out.

Here's the video, and I think it's a damn fine first attempt if I do say so myself. And funny, too. Or maybe that's just me.

I couldn't wait to show Larry when he got home. Of course, he was like, "Did you do anything else today?"

Well, duh. I also wrote some porn. He can be so ridiculous at times. Of course paying porn comes before the parody. Everybody knows that.

He watched the video and frowned. "What's wrong with you?" he asked me, even though he knows I get sick of people asking me that all the time. "What's with you and this gay stuff?"

"You mean like Sugar Rush?" I asked. "You didn't seem to mind Sugar Rush. You thought it was hot."

"That's different," he said. "This is turning the tables."

Exsqueeze me?

I pointed out that some people would consider lesbian or gay porn to be turning the tables - on heterosexuality. But it seems that for men, the only acceptable gayness is between two hot chicks.

But no matter, different strokes for different folks, I guess. Maybe there is something wrong with me, but at least I don't discriminate.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008

Not much to report..

..but I figured give that it's already Friday I'd throw something up along with my wish for everyone to have a wonderful weekend. 

I've been busy with a writing project, but am still taking time to get out of doors at every opportunity. Yesterday I spotted this osprey by a pond near my house. By the looks of the bird, it's a female. With birds of prey, females are about a third larger than males and this is an exceptionally big osprey even accounting for her gender.

Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures, but I had to shoot her from afar with my zoom lens. One of these days I hope to get a stronger one for difficult subjects like this osprey, which emitted a shrill call when she spotted me on the other side of the pond.

And then she was gone, but at least I got a clear enough shot for you to see the dramatically hooked beak and talons so perfectly suited for snagging and tearing up fish.

It was nice to see her, even though ospreys are my least favorite raptors to work with. They're skittish and fickle. It's nearly impossible to get a single one to eat in captivity. And because they only eat fish cleaning up after them is less than pleasant. I won't elaborate; just take my word for it.

In other news, Larry started leveling the dirt he had hauled in for the greenhouse expansion. I'm not thrilled about the project, but what can I say? We both drive each other crazy with our projects and I just had my turn a few months back when I brought home that herd of dairy goats. 

Six-year-old Lucas is totally on board with the expansion because leveling the dirt means he gets to ride on the tractor with his daddy. I just love this shot of them, and also wanted to include it so Thimscool could see the banana trees in the background. Some of the larger plants should be fruiting soon and I'll try to post pictures when they do.

Monday, August 04, 2008

My Wild Weekend

I could probably split this up into two posts, but seeing how I've got a big work project lined up this week I figured I'd go ahead and put everything in this one.

I had a great weekend. Very exciting. Well, very exciting if you like snakes and spiders. Yesterday Larry, Lucas and Alex and I went over to my friend April's farm for a spider hunt featured in the short video at the top of this page.

Readers of my blog may remember this photo tribute I did to my buddy April's farm just after Easter. I just love April, and have more fun with her than I could ever relate here. Like me, April has lots of critters. And in the summer that includes an enviable population of Golden Silk spiders - enviable enough to share with her spider-loving friend. This huge female was by her mom's house and had about five males in the web with her.

OK. So maybe it sounds crazy but I did not take this particular Nephila home, although I dearly wanted to. I picked up major Queen vibes from her and felt like it would be an affront to her arachnid dignity to relocate her and her court. No need to invoke Bad Spider Karma. So the Queen and her suitors stayed put.

But as you can see from the video I collected plenty of others, and Alex caught a few herself! After we got back home we relocated them all around our yard. Some went in the banana grove, some on the kiwi vines out back, some in the tall pines by the barn and some in the Lady Banks rose by the house. Later today Lucas and Alex and I shall go on another spider hunt to see if we can spot their golden webs.

Yes, the spider hunt was exciting. But not quite as exciting as the unplanned snake hunt the day before. Larry was outside at around 10 a.m. on Saturday when our sheepdog Nikki began barking like mad. Nikki is a very reasonable dog and doesn't bark unless something is bark-worthy. When Larry walked over to where she was standing by the building he found she'd hemmed in this 4-1/2 foot canebrake rattlesnake.

Larry caught her with the snake tongs and put her in a cage, where she'll stay until we can take her down to the game lands and release her. The snake was pissed, but you'd be pissed too if you were pregnant and had your rat dinner interrupted by an abduction. The new accommodations didn't thrill her either. But the close quarters gave me a chance to show you all what an aroused rattler looks like before it strikes. If you see one in this position, best back away because that's exactly what you're being advised to do.

I stopped photographing her after she struck at me, not because I was afraid but because I didn't want her to hurt herself striking the glass front of the cage. But in this following photo I did get a cool shot of the venom running down the glass. You might want to click on it to get the best view.

This isn't the biggest snake Larry has caught on the property. A couple of years ago Larry caught this big male out by the dog pen:

I probably need to digress a moment to say that while I have nothing against Meterosexual Males, they are completely useless if you've got giant rattlesnakes in your yard. That kind of dilemma calls for a Real Man. And Larry is about as real as they get. Did I mention he makes his own bullets, too? Well he does. What a guy.

I think Lucas might want to be like him. After coming outside for the obligatory viewing of the snake and a Don't-Touch-These-If-You-See-Them-In-The-Yard speech, Lucas practiced his skills with the snake tongs. That's my boy...

Arachno-Update: Lucas rushed in earlier to inform me that he found the Nephila we released in the kiwi vines and that she'd molted and was being bred. (Don't freak out; such talk is common for farm kids.) I went outside, camera in hand and he was exactly right. Maximize the picture to see the little male on the female. The molt is hanging underneath her in the web. She's doubled in size!

Another Nephila has staked out a place in the barn, right in the corner of Luna's stall. Right now she's hanging out in some old barn spider webbing but she looks busy so I'm optimistic that she'll set up one of her own. She sure won't lack for food; I just hope Minerva won't be too upset about the competition.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Welcome to my parlor...

I've picked up some new readers lately, thanks to folks like Lu'. And it occurs to me that these newcomers may not be aware of my Spider Fetish.

I just love spiders. I love the way they silently descend on their gossamer threads to appear right beside you in the garden as if to say, "Hi! I'm an inch from your nose!" I love their work ethic -  how they construct their webs anew each day, and finish just in time for the morning dew to glint off the strands. I love the way they hunt, whether it's the ambush method of the ground-dwelling wolf-spider or the savage determination of the orb-weaver as it throws strands of silk over prey twice its size before moving in to deliver the fatal bite.

If any of this this creeps you out then you are free to leave now, brushing imaginary creepy crawlies from your arms as you go. In fact, its advisable. For arachnophobes, this post is only going to get worse for you. Cross my heart.

At the top of the page is a picture of Minerva, and of all the garden spiders we have this year - and they are bountiful - she is the smartest because she knows the top rule of Spider Real Estate: Location, location, location. (You'll want to click on the pictures to fully appreciate the detail of how the web is constructed.)

A few weeks ago, when she was just a half-inch across, she built her web in the corner of the stall we've fashioned into a milking parlor. Barns are great places for webs, and this particular stall is a favorite destination of flies. Minerva's presence keeps them down considerably, which is good for me. I hate flies.

Yes, garden spiders are cool. But they aren't as cool as Golden Silk Spiders. In the late summer of 2006, I began chronicling  in painstaking detail the life of Octavia, a golden silk spider that I brought home from the local arboretum. 

Octavia was a warrior - beautiful, brutal and fearless. She wove massive golden webs, tackled prey three or four times her size and even cannibalized another golden silk spider that made the mistake of wandering into her web.

I fell head over heels in love with her.

I probably shot over a thousand photos of that spider. In October of that year when I found her shrunken, lifeless body I cried like a baby. Sad but true. I try to be practical about nature and knew she wouldn't live through the fall, but I really had grown terribly fond of her. 

We made the mistake of leaving her egg sac in the greenhouse, where it hatched early before the last frost. The babies proceeded to sneak out and did not survive. So the following year we brought home more golden silk spiders. Some laid egg sacs but we've found no babies here. Well, not yet, anyway although I suspect they may be in the tall pines. 

But we keep trying. Larry brought me home a few golden silk spiders last week. None are as big or impressive as Octavia, but I have high hopes for a particularly industrious one that had the foresight to set up her web near the dog kennel. 

This weekend I hope to return to the arboretum to see if I can find some larger golden silk spiders, and the spindly little males which always emerge later in the season. I don't imagine I'll find anything to rival Octavia, but who knows. I may get lucky. If I do, I'll let you know. And in lurid detail. Cross my heart.

Cooler weather always means death to the spiders, which makes me sad. I've often fantasized of finding some way to prolong their life, but after seeing this video I was reminded of the dangers of experimenting with nature. So if you're not yet sick of spiders, do watch this video. It's highly educational. ;-)