Archive for July, 2009

After Susan got home last night she found the breakfast nook area rug bunched up and when she went to straighten it out she found a lizard’s tail underneath it. Curious and concerned as to whether the rest of the lizard was inside the house either intact or in separate parts, she soon found our best lizard-hunting cat Jiggy focusing his attention on a corner of the kitchen where the tail-less alligator lizard sat.

Leaving the lizard be, she fed the animals and then shuffled everyone into the study so she could wrangle without interruption the seemingly uninjured (or at least not additionally so) critter into a paper bag that she then put outside.

Before bed I moved the bag over next to the river rock pile and turned it over on its side so that it could mosey out at its leisure. But this morning the lizard was still in the bag, so not wanting to give Jig a chance to finish the job it started yesterday, I decided to put the reptile in with our other reptile, Buster the tortoise, to give it a chance to recuperate without risk of cat attacks.

Well dang if the laidback thing didn’t hunker down in its temporary digs and allow me this charming portrait of it among the wood chips, which makes it look quite snake-like (click image for the bigger picture):


Shortly thereafter Buster became quite curious and departed from her food to see what was going on. Something of a standoff ensued as the two reptiles regarded each other:


Eventually Buster bailed back to her breakfast, but before I left for work I did one last check and found Buster standing where the lizard had been and the lizard at the other end of the hutch. I may stop off at Petsmart on the way home and pick up something lizards might like to eat, but the plan will be to let it go most likely tonight or no later than tomorrow night.

UPDATE (7.31): Well, I came home last night with a “Can O’ Crickets” purchased from a Petco on the way, but a thorough search showed that while the hutch is tortoise escape-proof, apparently for lizards not so much. Still that’s a good sign that the critter is healthy. Let’s just hope its continued road to recovery doesn’t intersect with any more cats.

I was alerted to its presence by a scree’ing mockingbird in the vicinity, but it wasn’t until I looked into the boughs of the camphor laurel across the street that I spotted the predator — a juvenile Cooper’s hawk — clutching in its talons what remained of an unfortunate pigeon:


The heavily photoshopped image gets much bigger with a click, but not any better dangit. The light was low and diffused and behind the bird, and I was about 40 yards away handholding my SLR with its ungainly 70-300 lens. This was pretty much the best of the bunch I snapped until the hawk had enough of my intrusions flew northeasterly away.

Chances are what with the internut being what it is and all, I would have eventually stumbled across the video below. But because of the Blogfather Tony Pierce, who is always there to open a door for his readers and say “look inside and check this shit out now,” I got my day brightened that much quicker. Thank you, Tony:

You’ve probably figured out I can be a big manly man huff ‘n puff, stomp ‘n growl blowhard. What you may or may not now is I’m waaaaay in touch with my emotional side. As such before I was even a couple minutes into the vid I was shedding tears of joy over this, while simultaneously being envious at such wonderful creativity, and irrationally jealous at everyone who was a part of it either as a participant or spectator.

Sniffling afterwards, I even left the following comment on the vid’s YouTube page:

That was one of the most profoundly and beautifully celebratory things I’ve ever seen. Just miraculous and exuberant and unique and joyous and brilliant. BRAVO!

Your emotional connection may vary. But I’ll tell you what: If Susan and I ever renew our vows in a big church-set ceremony somewhere/time down the road some variation of this marvel is so on!

UPDATE (7.25): And yeah, prior to this video I never thought I’d ever be caught dead owning a Chris Brown tune, but now  I’m not ashamed to say this video made me purchase the single, “Forever,” off of iTunes — and I bet I’m not the only buyer. Brown oughta send the happy couple a wedding gift, for perhaps helping to revitalize his career.

UPDATE (7.27): Looks like embedding has been “disabled by request,” so if there’s trouble viewing it here, go here instead.


On my before-bed check of the flower patch last night I found this bee nestled and entirely still in the center of that newly bloomed lemon queen sunflower. As it was well after 10 p.m. and I’ve rarely — if ever — seen bees out after dark, I thought rather sentimentally  that it might have decided to camp out either for a little bit or perhaps the night. So doing my best not to disturb the scene, I pointed my flashlight and camera at it for the above snap (click for the bigger picture), and bid it goodnight.

After all, it looked entirely fine. But after sunrise this morning when I went out with the watering can and found the bee  still there and unmoved I realized the poor thing hadn’t stopped for a nap, it had stopped for good. Why? Who knows. Maybe it was old. Maybe it had been forced to use its stinger. Maybe it got bit by the crab spider next door but the effect of the tiny predator’s venom had been delayed.

Whatever the cause of its death, the bee looked as if it had been busy one moment and just gone the next.

While sprinkling water among the leaves and petals the bee was dislodged and it plummeted to the soil below where it will hopefully enrich the soil in its own little way for next year’s sunflowers.

When I told Susan, she summed up my sentiments perfectly: “What better place to go?”

This morning while doing my regular backyard waterings ‘n dogpoop scoops I found not only some early blooms on our neighbor’s San Pedro cactus, but in one of them a busy carpenter bee.

I managed somehow without falling or without to unsteady a hand to cantilever myself across the the tortoise hutch with my cam held at arm’s length and get a few seconds of footage of the find:

And on the San Pedro cactus tip, if you’re new (relatively or otherwise) to this blog or just wish to see them again, here’s the timelapses I got back in from August 2007 and August 2008 of one of the cactus’ famed nocturnal blooms:



She’s not the first to go. Others in the sunflower patch with petals clamped and far from unfurled have been decapitated before her, but she was the first to go in full and fantastic bloom. When I was confronted with this end result done last night no doubt by the neighborhood raccoon, I was at first saddened.

Reconstructing the theft I imagine the agile, dexterous animal scaled the fence and balanced upon it while reaching out to this the nearest available flower that it then pulled close enough to bite off its business end. A disturbance in the surface of the soil of the pot of basil growing below it, belied where the flower landed when the raccoon lost its grip on the thing. Climbing down it dug it out and made off with its prize.

But to where I knew not. A few few withered yellow petals lay on the ground and one more on the fence’s cross rail, but the trail quickly went cold after that. I suspect it climbed back up with the flower firmly in its jaws and made for thicker higher foliage.

Like I said at the top, this glummed me some. It was a beautiful flower in its prime — the second biggest of the bunch (and home to the crab spider I wrote about in yesterday’s post — who I thankfully found unharmed and camped out in the smaller blossom of the same plant). There was a lot of life left and a lot of stuff to keep the bees drawn and busy. Now it’s no more.

But then I realized the death wasn’t in vain. Just as the flower nourished and sustained  a variety of insects, now it has served another creature in the circle of life.

There’s some consolation in that.

Suffer yet another sunflower  post, won’t you? This time around, it’s not just something amazing about the flora I found, but rather the discovery of an opportunistic hunter making its home on one of the blooms. Behold the goldenrod crab spider (click for the bigger picture):


At first I was blown away considering the odds of such a specifically and perfectly camouflaged arachnid pairing up with our sunflowers, but then I found some fascinating facts from

The goldenrod crab spider is completely yellow when sitting on a goldenrod flower or sunflower, but can change its color to white when on a daisy. Its body is white, but the spider can produce a yellow liquid pigment in its skin when on a yellow flower to become nearly invisible. It can then excrete the pigment to return to a white color. It takes the spider twice as long to produce yellow pigment and turn yellow than it does for it to turn white. Other Crab spiders resemble tree bark, leaves, fruit, and even bird droppings. Another group of fascinating crab spiders has adapted to look like ants, presumably so they can get closer to their ant prey without being noticed.

The wonders of nature will never cease.