Tag Archives: outdoors

Sooo, Today Was The First Day Of Spring. Uh huh.

The 1st Day of Spring was not very spring-like. *Sigh*

I don’t think this crabapple bush with snow all over its branches and buds was real thrilled with the first day of spring. I certainly wasn’t.

Everything covered in snow.


And the wind blew so hard it coated the sides of the trees as well.

The snow weighted the tree branches down to the ground. But it made a cozy hideaway under the pines.

There was one person, however, who was just lovin’ the snow. 

Happy belated 1st Day of Spring!

Household Helper

As you know, I always have a story for getting into odd things. So about last night…

I sat down on the toilet and went to rest my arms on my thighs when a sharp shooting pain went into my elbow.  OW! It felt like I’d been stung. I swiped at my elbow and something came off! I didn’t have my glasses on so I didn’t see what went flying, but we’ve been having warm spells and I wondered if a small bee, like a sweat bee, got into the house. It burned for a little while and I got a little red bump.

Later, I watched my cat Rose patting at something on the rug, but it didn’t move so she left.  And right after she left, I watched a small spider scurry across the floor to my linen closet.  I have watched this scenario many times. But not right after being ‘stung’.  Hmmm, I thought, these spiders are common in houses and I’ve never had any trouble with them, but could they bite hard enough to hurt?

Meet Cheiracanthium mildei, otherwise know as the Yellow Sac Spider, Yellow House Spider, or Black Footed Spider.

This little, most probably, lady is sitting on a clip-on fan in my bathroom. To give you an idea of size, the space she is sitting in is 3/8’s of an inch.

These little spiders normally live outside in your trees, bushes, garden, and leaf piles.  But come winter, if they can find some place nice and warm (your house), they’ll move in and set up shop.  C. mildei hunt by sight and eat other spiders bigger than they are, insects, and their eggs. Very handy if you have gnats living in your houseplants or silverfish in your closets!

Those little cocoons you see them living in up along the edges and corners of your ceilings are made fresh every dawn (they prefer to hunt at night) and take about 10 minutes to make.

These guys normally mate once in summer and the female can produce up to 5 egg sacs with about 40 eggs in each sac.  Outside they overwinter as spiderlings. Unless, of course, they make it inside your house where they can keep growing!

Side view. She didn’t even run away when I got within an inch of her to take the pic.

And can they bite?  Yep!  These guys will bite if provoked and in self-defense.  Like when I nearly squished her. 🙂  The symptoms are similar to a bee sting.  I was bump free and healed in a day, but if your are sensitive to the venom it could take several days. And, no, you won’t die!

On a personal note, I think these little spiders ‘learn’ from their environment.  This lady doesn’t consider me a threat and goes about her business as though I weren’t there.  Let Rose, my bug eating maniac, show up and she pulls her legs up against her body and refuses to move even when Rose pats her with a paw and huffs at her. And she waits to move until Rose hits the bathroom door. Interesting, too, is the fact that Rose won’t eat this spider as she does all the others.  I’m guessing she got a nasty surprise at one point! 🙂

If want to read more, I really enjoyed the articles at these sites : spiderbytes  and Arthropod Ecology.

In the meantime I’ll be checking the toilet paper roll and hand towels to make sure she doesn’t land on me again! 😀

A Treat With A Sadness


What the? That’s what I woke up to a few mornings back. Waaay too early. I sat up to figure out what I heard and there was MORE crashing and banging. I lunged out of bed to see the back of my son turning the corner to the kitchen.  YIKES! It must be bad if it woke him up! BANG AND SCRAPE! And then I was in the kitchen looking at my son holding a punched out window screen.

“What’s going on?” I asked. “Rose had her head stuck in the screen and was fighting to get it out,” he replied.  “She went through the screen???” “Yep.” (Thank heavens I had the windows cranked almost closed or there would have been a one story drop for her to the ground.) “Do you know why?” “Nope, maybe it has to do with that moth or something that just flew by.” My son wears glasses and without them everything is fuzzy.

We put the screen back in its frame and then back in the window.  “Well, aren’t you going to go see what it is?” he asked.  “What do you mean?” “It’s over by the kitchen window.”  I had “ass-sumed” that flying by meant the window so I walked over to look out the window and promptly got smacked in the face. By a BIRD flying around IN the house.  Not outside. CRAP. I immediately started blocking and attempting to catch the bird.  The last thing I needed was to get into a smack down with my three cats and my dog over that bird. I was successful, but that poor bird was panting and stressed to the max.  Poor thing! But I confess I was thrilled to be able to hold it.  I adore birds and it was a treat to have it nestled in my hand.

See how tiny? It’s a wren. So what happened was that the wren was scoping out the window frame for bugs and spiders. They do this all the time.  It must have come inside between the screen and window.  I have a cat perch in the window and it was evidently too much for Rose and she launched her tubby self straight at the bird and ripped the screen from its frame. What we didn’t know until later was that Rose had actually caught that poor bird and run off with it. It had managed to escape. How did I find out? Three cats and a dog sniffing the crap out of a spot in the hall. Here’s what I found:

Tiny tail feathers. They’re about two inches long. I was crushed beyond belief. I had “ass-sumed” the bird had been scared into the house when the screen went.  I didn’t look very closely at it because it was flying around and no blood was dripping. I wanted to get it out of the house as quickly as possible. Stress can literally cause a bird to have a heart attack and die. I can only hope there was no fatal damage. 😦

My son grabbed the camera as I took the bird outside. He was able to get the following shot because the wren didn’t fly away immediately when I opened my hand.

Notice how few tail feathers are hanging down from my hand. After seeing this picture it amazes me that it could fly at all. Poor, poor wren! 😦

This incident solved one problem for me.  I have been sorely missing my feathered friends in the morning since my old lady maple fell. I have been trying to figure out a way to put a feeder off the window sill (like a window flower box) that would still enable me to open the windows (crank-outs suck). But I will just have to do without. I don’t want my cat launching herself through a window one story up nor do I want her attacking the birds.  *Sigh*

And on a side note – it wasn’t the cat that woke me and my son up initially.  It was his phone falling, scraping and rattling down between the wall and the headboard of his bed. I’d have been on my own otherwise, I’m sure. 🙂


The Toughest Fern Out There

I forgot to water this poor fern – not once – but TWICE!  But since it didn’t turn brown or feel crispy, I put it in the dog dish to water it and see what might survive.

It took 3 days the first time and 2 days the second time, but this little fern survived my neglect.

Say hello to the Heart Fern (hemionitis arifolia). This cute little fern is a native to southeast Asia.  It grows both in the soil AND on trees!  Hemionitis arifolia needs moist, well draining soil and high humidity. Heart Fern is a tiny beauty at only 6 – 8 inches tall.  AND, of course, can handle a little neglect! 😀

Time for me to pick a pot and get this sweetie in a proper home!

Le Tour De France or Don’t Talk To Me In July

July 1st is THE day! Yep, it’s that time of year again!  YAY!

Le Tour de France.  The toughest bike race in the world.  Twenty-one days of racing in 21 different places, 22 teams, 198 riders risking their various body parts 4-6 hours every day on the flat and in the Pyrenees and the Alps, averaging 23 – 54 kph (14.3-33.6 mph) depending on terrain, 3,540 km (2,199.65 miles) total,  and just 2 rest days. For 3 weeks I will be watching online mesmerized by one of sports most breathtaking and grueling spectacles.  I love it!

My dad got me hooked on the Tour de France as a child.  Every July, every day, we looked for news of “Le Tour”.  It was the only bike race covered on the news channels in the U.S. at that time.  And all we got were the highlights.  Later came cable.  But that got way too expensive.  And then one year I found out you could get it online.  Swoon!   Every summer I pay to watch Le Tour de France online.  Live and on demand so I don’t miss a thing.  So don’t talk to me in July.  July is for “Le Tour”!

Here are some numbers:  There will be 4,500 people making this happen, 500 hotels in four countries (Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France), 635 cities visited, 17 medical personnel, 7 ambulances, 2 medical cars and a radiology truck,  7  planes (some passenger, some signal relay), with 2000 journalists providing 6,300 hours of coverage for 190 countries.

Fun Fact:  There is a Caravan of advertisers that precedes the race start by 2 hours. Think Macy’s Parade for the whole length of the stage. That’s around 200 km (124.2 miles) a day.  170 tricked out vehicles that are spread out over 12km (7.5 miles). Over the 21 days 14 million goodies tossed to 10 – 12 million spectators.

But what’s really fun? (Not so much actually.)  These vehicles have to be stripped down to street legal every day for the road trip to the next day’s start and then reassembled.  So, too, all the media booths, awards stages, advertising booths, and staging areas for the race.  Every single day.

So there’s virtually a small army moving around the country of France for 3 weeks every year. Have I mentioned how much I love this race? 😀

Here’s video showing the ambiance! Enjoy!

Let “Le Tour” begin!

Feasting On A Maple Seed Bonanza

I was so consumed with our downed tree I didn’t notice the bumper crop of maple seeds on one of our trees. These showed up in the picture of the cat on the old maple. Now picture the whole tree covered in seeds.  That’s a lot of seeds!

Two weeks later – can you see who is enjoying the bonanza?

That’s a fox squirrel balancing on the little branches to reach the feast. Birds and rodents will help themselves as well.

Curiosity got the cat, and I went googling to see if these were edible for humans.  They are!  This tree still has yet to ripen its seeds.  When the seeds get a wee bit bigger (before they’re dry and bitter), I’m going to give them a try!


A Charming Visitor

A rare visitor to our yard, the Indigo Bunting is a welcome spot of color in the spring.

I surprised this little guy at our feeder. He flitted off into the weeds to look around for a bit.

Poor Squirrelie!

This poor beat up guy was eating alone in the rain.

He doesn’t look to bad like this, though there’s hair missing by his eye.

But then he leans forward and you can see all the naked spots on his shoulder and the tip of his hind leg. I wonder who he tangled with?



More Spring Flowers

My hyacinths are up.  A little straggly because of the heat, but smell wonderful anyway!

Lovely blues.

And some pinks.

And those barely there ones are actually yellow.





I Was NOT Amused!

While I love cats and have three of my own, this situation is NOT amusing!

One of our neighbors’ cats sitting one story up in our tree next to the bird feeder. Yes, I went out and chased the cat out of the tree.  It’s bad enough they poop in my yard, keeping me from letting my dog loose by himself  in his own yard because he eats the poop.  Which also makes for a lovely surprise for my hands as I’m gardening.  But they also sit by the tree and bird baths scaring the birds away.  I do not need them UP in the tree as well!  And, OH!, did I mention the dead bird bodies lying in the yard? Not good for the bird populations!  And that also means I can never go bare foot in my own back yard. Cats should be kept at home!