Posts Categorized: nature + environment

Homesteading Spiders!

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Living in SoCal also means living with lots of spiders. If you have arachnophobia, it can be a problem or you get used to screaming and using Raid. I happen to not mind spiders, esp. if they will do their job and eat insects.
My general attitude towards spiders is as follows:
1) Only Daddy Long Legs allowed in the house. All others must exit or face death.
2) All Daddy Long Legs must homestead their 144 sq. inches properly. To prove their claim, they must catch and eat at least 4 insects per week, preferrabley of the flying variety or the ant variety. If there are more than 3 homesteaders per room or if they go beyond their allowed 144sq. inches (one foot by one foot), they and their webs will get vacuumed up.
3) All other spiders must live in the great outdoors. If you are a black widow, do not make a nest or hidey hole in my gardening gloves, as I will stamp on you thoroughly before I put them on.
In the summer, there is a certain species of spider (see pics) that is about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide/thick that makes very beautiful, intricate and large webs in between trees or across walkways. These spiders tend to do it at night and I usually walk right into the web and have a good scream as I scrape the web off and hope the spider is not on me.

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The she spider, featured in these photos I took today, decided about four weeks ago or so to take up residence and thus nesting & laying of her two egg sacs on the front of the regular trash bin (as opposed to the recycling bin or green bin). I am sure she thought she was being smart, no humans or pets walking through her web, ruining her next or hurting her eggs. But every Tuesday for the last four weeks, she and her egg sacs have gotten to trundle down the driveway, sit out on the curb for 12+ hours, get picked up by the trash truck automatic lever, lifted in the air, all contents (except what is attached to the web) dumped upside down in to the trash truck, set down by the lever not so lovingly and then trundled back up the bumpy driveway.
Out of pure, shear fascination, I have not swept the spider, her web or egg sacks away, because I am very curious how many weeks of the Tuesday Trash Adventure she is will to endure before she realizes that the trash can is a bad place to homestead.

The Evolution of Personal Livestock!

CNN.com had the following intriguing headline today in the Science and Space section:
‘Lousy’ genes show clothes are 70,000 years old

Adam and Eve may have put on fig leaves while still in the Garden of Eden but a study that looked at the most intimate of pests — body lice — suggests that humans started wearing clothes 70,000 years ago, scientists said on Monday.

The genetic study of the lice strongly suggests they — and clothing — arose soon after modern Homo sapiens began moving out of Africa and into the cooler regions of Europe.

In my opinion, one of the true marks of a highly civilized and technological society is not electronics or cars or space flight, but the wonders of being lice and flea free. Ok free of personal livestock as long you don’t rub heads with an infected five year old or get too drunk and go home with somebody you don’t know at a show and rub other parts with them…. Just say no to substitute teaching and drunk bar patrons!

Evening Walk at Bolsa Chica

Evening walk at Bolsa Chica

Tonight around 7:25 pm, I decided to go for a walk down at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands Reserve. I arrived at 7:52pm, when all the signage has the reserve closing at 8pm. Most folks were leaving as I arrived, which left the walking paths all to little ole me. The sun set and the Bolsa Chica State Beach bonfire smoke lilted over PCH and the water to me as I was walking.
Most of the shore and water birds took no notice of me and became very active. The best part was a black & white stilt who decided I was a threat and barked at me. It sounded like a small yapping poodle.
As I neared the bluff, about 7 night herons were hanging out on the walking path. I watched them for a bit and then turned around to go back to the car. It was a delightful walk, cool, alone, and evening.

Evening walk at Bolsa Chica

The Kitchen Side Garden – August Update

Wildflowers in Ms. Jen's Garden

The California Wildflower Seed Mix that I planted in the Kitchen/Driveway Side Garden back in May is finally flowering. July had the first poppies, now in August we are getting white with crimson flowers, blue-violet flowers, black and purple – vertitable profusion of Calif. natives. Yeah!

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On the World’s Tallest Basil note: Vivian Hernandez told me last Thursday night, after seeing the picture of my basil, that her’s was taller. When I have planted basil in pots in the past, I have never had them grow taller than 12″. To hear that Vivian has basil in excess of 30″ and mine is now at least 34″ this week, I guess that planting one’s basil in the ground with good amended soil and lots of sun makes all the difference.

The World’s Tallest Basil

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Ok, maybe it really isn’t the world’s tallest basil, but the tallest one in my kitchen herb garden is at 29 inches tall. Just over two feet, dwarfing the usually out of control sorrel, thyme and lavender.
Time to have a pesto party.

First Poppy Pops

First Calif. Poppy of July

The California Wild Flower seeds that I planted in my driveway side yard garden have spent two months growing into a large thatch of unruly greenery, of which I despaired of ever seeing one of the many CA poppies actually flower. I was afraid that I planted the seed mix too late in the spring and with all of the hot weather, it would be a no go for the poppies.
I left for church, late as usual, and there were no little orange/yellow blooms. But when I returned, one brave poppy soul had popped into a bloom. Yeah!

Crop Circle in Orange, CA

Most amusing the brave little orange flower decided to bloom right next to my official “Crop Circle“. The “crop circle” started as a small 6 inch oval of flower greenery laying down on Wed. or Thurs. morning. I thought I needed to water with the heat and all. I watered several times over the last few days, and the “circle” just got bigger.
Is it California Wild Seed fairies or a mini-UFO??? Or just a neighborhood cat trying to reclaim its former outdoor litterbox? Or has the lawn and elm tree fungi decided to claim the side yard as well? Inquiring minds want to know…

More on DDT: The Fertility of Women and Men is Effected

More from the LA Times on Legacy of DDT:

Women who were exposed while still in the womb to the pesticide DDT are more likely to experience delays in getting pregnant, according to a study of California mothers and daughters published today in an international medical journal.

The report by the Public Health Institute in Berkeley is the first scientific evidence that DDT that collects in women’s bodies can affect their female offspring many years later, when they reach adulthood and attempt to reproduce.

The findings support a controversial theory that pesticides and other environmental contaminants that mimic sex hormones are altering human fertility and health.

At the end of the LA Times articles:

Another study recently reported that men exposed to pesticides have as much as a 30-fold reduction in sperm quality.

From the Global Programme for Action website, reporting on the effects to human male fertility:

In a study in India, a group of men who worked with DDT was found to have decreased fertility, and a significant increase in still births, neonatal deaths and congenital defects among their children. Israeli men with unexplained fertility problem were also found to have high blood levels if DDT.

More links on this subject:
BBC: Health Pesticides ‘reduce male fertility’
The Lancet Journal