Archive for August, 2011

Every day:

Apologies for the entirely nonintuitive focus of my dang iPhone. it finally sharpens up the last 10 seconds or so.

The inside of our garage door has been home to a brown widow spider and her various egg sacs for at least a year now. Most of the time when she senses movement she dives for her hiding place behind the door’s strut and hunkers down where she can barely be seen. But today as I was leaving for some errands she was out and about tending to her webnest and her would be babies so of course I got all up in her business with my iPhone and shot the following segment of video.

If you’re decidedly arachnophobic or perhaps just not in the least bit as fascinated and awestruck as I am by spiders I wouldn’t recommend clicking play.

Thought to have established themselves in California in 2000, brown widows are a non-native species and are spreading up the state and into neighboring states at a pretty rapid rate. Originally found primarily in San Diego and Los Angeles counties, the species has now been found in Santa Barbara County and as far north as Sacramento County, according to the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside. Opinions differ on the seriousness of a brown widow’s venom. Some say it’s twice as toxic as a black widow’s while others say a bite is minor unless the person bitten suffers an allergic reaction to the venom.

My timelapsing cam didn’t capture if the bee actually landed on the first sunflower to bloom, only this shot (click it for the bigger picture) of it approaching. In the entire three-hour span spent taking pictures every two seconds, this is the only frame wherein a bee came calling. Not a great start to this year’s involvement with the Great Sunflower Project, but at least the secret’s out… to this bee at least.

Well we finally have bloomage:

Of the eight sunflower seeds planted in the two boxes hung off the southside stairs in June, six have grown, with the first having started its reveal yesterday (above how it looks this morning; click it for the bigger picture). Now the question is if it can avoid decapitation by the squirels long enough to serve the bees.

It’s been interesting to see how each of the flowers have individually grown, with each of the six surviving seeds progressing at markedly different rates.  It’s a safe bet that of those four seeds planted in the left box, two were just entirely overpowered by the co-sewn basil (that grew like krazee!), and the two survivors were somewhat stunted. The flowers on the right went four for four I’d guess because the cilantro planted with them didn’t take off like the basil.

Not to get too skeptically analytical, but given how historically few have been the bees seen on this side of the house (compared to the north side), I have my doubts as to how many might find these blooms. But then again, nature has a way of finding a way.


At the Hollywood Bowl Wednesday night (to see Robert Cray, Keb’ Mo’ and Mavis Staples) Susan and I got there early enough to eat dinner at one of the picnic areas. Across from where we were sitting was a group of three people — two men and a woman — whose conversation and meal had been interrupted by a honeybee who took great interest in something that was on the lady’s plate.

She was having none of it, and stood up and away from the table. The younger of the two men had a worried look on his face, but it was no big deal to the older gent who just smiled and wondered what the big deal was. I couldn’t decide if the over reaction was the result of a full phobia or if an allergy was the issue.

A couple attempts were made to shroud the bee in a cloth napkin, whereupon they smashed at it but it managed to escape and buzz about a bit before returning to the plate. The younger fellow flailed a bit when the bee flew closely about his head, mentioning that he was stung in the eye as a child.


The bee eventually settled down on the plate again, the riveting center of attention to the frozen unspeaking trio, and I wondered why their instincts were to kill the creature. Why is it that so many people automatically default to death as a first resort in such matters. Because it’s just a bee. Just.

But you see to me, it’s never just anything. I don’t play the kill card off the top of the deck. I opt for a kinder, gentler option that recognizes  and respects a creature’s right to life. As such the solution isn’t destruction, but the simple removal the plate (and/or whatever it was the bee was  intent upon) from the table’s vicinity, like say to a trash can. The bee stays alive, and it stops bothering me. All is good. See how that works?

They didn’t. Wasn’t even an option.

But the irony is that after another half-minute of staring at the bee on the plate, that’s what happened. Well, not quite. The gent who suffered the eye sting as a boy, impatient at the continuing standoff, finally stood up with a plastic knife in hand, leaned across the table managing to pin the bee on the plate under its edge before turning the cutlery flat and smushing the life out of it.


The woman then dutifully removed the plate from the table and took it to the trash. As if nothing had happened.



Video streaming by Ustream

The following was brought to you by the Syncopated Dog Butt Drum Drillteam Association of Silver Lake — Occidental Boulevard Chapter. Where there’s a butt, there’s a beat!