I didn’t even know you could do this!

I got carried away playing with the picture I took of the spider’s web. Sorry. You can sort of see it.

I know it’s tacky virtue signaling to put heroic acts online, but some discoveries must be shared.

This morning I discovered something terrible: A spider had built a web from the fire escape leading from my flat and across the garden gate, meaning I couldn’t get out my gate to the shed. It was an impressive web too, with many circles of silver thread and many flies caught – including a number of mosquitoes, who are, quite frankly, bastards. I didn’t want to ruin this spider’s good work.

However, I needed to get my spade from the shed, so I tried to see if there was another way – leapfrog over the fence? No, will end in broken nose. Limbo under the web? No, I have no limbo skills and will only end up destroying it anyway. How about just moving one end of the web to the other side of the gate? A crazy idea, but it might just work!

So I moved my arm into the threads so that they caught on my hoody, lifted them and wrapped them around the other post of the gate. And they stayed! And they’re still there now! I didn’t even know that was possible! I’m practically a spider myself.

UPDATE…

Turns out it’s not possible.

When I went back later, the had web broken.

There’s still enough of it up that the spider should be able to salvage the flies that he’d caught, but he’ll have to build a whole new web.

I am no hero.

😔

A baby woodpecker!

So I was trundling along the path with my wheel barrow, when I saw some jays flapping around with a tufty looking bird nearby. I thought he might be a young jay, but he had a long beak, and after he turned around a few times, I saw there was a red tinge to his head and green to his body. He wasn’t fully colourful because he still had his young fluffy brown feathers, but I could see his shape was distinctively a woodpecker.

Woodpeckers are ace!

By now he had hopped a bit further on and was standing with his chest puffed out. I crept closer and took a photo. He didn’t fly away so I kept on creeping. My phone is shitty, so I knew the photos wouldn’t be great, but I kept on creeping up to see how close I could get. At one point Mike walked up from the opposite direction and saw me. He stopped where he was so he would scare my new fluffy friend away. Woody Woodpecker gave me a few more poses, hopping around before flying off.

Then I realised unfortunately that my new manager (my boss’s boss) was standing watching all this. Fortunately he thought it was hysterical to watch me sneaking up slow footstep by slow footstep, especially since from his point of view the bird was obscured and he thought I was creeping up on a tree.

‘I’m actually working very hard!’ I shouted over to him and he seemed to accept it.

Here is what the woodpecker will look like as an adult, you can see that proud pose already forming in the photo I took:

From Garden Bird

Rat cahoots

I worked with Mateo today and got to hear another strange story.

You know how a rat steals an egg? Because rats like eggs, but they can’t carry it in their paws and still walk. But I’ve seen it, what they do is get another rat. And one holds onto the egg and the other pulls him by his tail.

The image of little Edgar rat (no reason why a rat shouldn’t be called Edgar in my view) with his paws wrapped around an egg, while Bertrude rat pulls his tail over her shoulder and drags him along, is just great.

Gangster Foxes: Talbot and Reynard

When adorable foxes go bad…

After I posted about the cheeky fox at my work, Darnell and Calmgrove came up with the excellent fox names Talbot and Reynard. However it turns out that Shaily guessed where the story would go. Because the foxes (I found out there are two, conveniently since I have two names) have chosen a twisted path.

I was walking back from lunch and was surprised to see one of the foxes, Talbot I would guess, walking down the main path. Normally in daytime, when there are a fair few people about, the foxes are nowhere to be seen. Certainly not out in the sun. Then I saw that he was walking towards a toddler. Not quite stalking, but Talbot would stop every few steps and stare at the kid waddling about in a white jacket, then walk closer. This did not look right to me. Foxes don’t do that. It also didn’t look right to Jess and Mateo, who I saw were walking fast towards them.

Fox Talbot saw the two gardeners heading for him and did a few steps at a half-run, then stopped and stared at them. Then a couple more steps and then stood waiting. He didn’t seem afraid at all. When he did wander off, he sat a few metres away under a bush and had a bit of a roll around in the grass.

By now I’d made it over to the group and heard the child’s guardian explain what had been happening.

‘The foxes do come up to the kids sometimes. They’re not scared. Yesterday, one of them stole William’s ball. William chased after the fox to get it back, so the fox ran off. But then he came back with another fox, like he got reinforcements.’

I refuse to believe that Reynard and Talbot are bad foxes, they’re just misguided. But it does look like they might have set up an extortion business intimidating small children in order to take their toys.

What do we do now?

Fantastic Mr Fox

This little guy was hanging about at my work today. Excuse the crappy photos, hopefully you can still see he’s a character from an unwritten children’s illustrated book. Unfortunately Fantastic Mr Fox is already taken, so I’ll need a new title – if you’ve got any ideas??

Erk! Having looked it up to check, I’ve discovered that Fantastic Mr Fox got made into a film where the fox looks like a chewed slipper. My fox would do a way better job. Look at that quizzical smile, those bright eyes.

And here:

He’s winking!

Presumably at some point me and the fox will have a tea party together along with a cranky elf. We’ll go through a magic door, and then work out how to fly a rusty car abandoned in a field.

Tales of Bees and Blood

Bee on a string
Image from https://richardlomax.bandcamp.com/track/bee-on-a-string

Mateo doesn’t talk much, but occasionally he just won’t stop. Today was one of those days and I got to hear some great stories of life in the Basque country.

DON’T EVER DO THIS! But

…one of my favourites was about how when he was young, Mateo would get some extra thin fishing wire, tie it around a bumble bee, and the bee would fly along beside him on the end of the wire like a balloon or an upside down dog. Occasionally the bee would get tired and sit on his shoulder, but after a while he would flick it and it would fly up on the end of the wire again.

DON’T DO THIS EITHER

He also told us a story about his dad playing as a kid.

‘When my dad was eight, he and his friend didn’t have any toys. So his friend would swing around this thing.’ Mateo mimed something swinging round. ‘And my dad would jump over it.’

‘You mean a skipping rope?’ I suggested.

‘A stick? A pole?’ said Dan.

‘No you use it to cut corn,’ said Mateo. ‘And Death has one.’

‘A scythe? They’d jump over a scythe?’ asked Dan, slightly high-pitched, as we start to realise where this might be going.

‘Yes,’ said Mateo. ‘But then it went wrong and he didn’t jump at the right time. So the scythe went into his leg. And it was deep, you know. Like muscles and tendons cut, and blood everywhere. I saw the scar and it went half way round his leg. But this was during the Spanish civil war and there were no doctors around, so my dad went back to his dad. His dad got a load of vinegar and a load of salt and filled the hole in his leg and then sewed it up with a needle and thread.’

Me and Dan were wincing quite a lot by this point.

‘It was weird too, eh?’ went on Mateo. ‘Because if you get a cut that deep, and cut the tendons, it shouldn’t ever recover. Your leg is never ok again. But he was fine, all he had was the scar .’

Answering Socrates: Part 2

Shaily answered my questions! And the answers are ace. 🙂

A quote from it:

One of my frequent dream destinations is an ancient temple on a mountain. Not sure what deity or what religion…but it calls to me. It is dark, mysterious and beyond time. I only get to see it from a distance though. Every time, I spend all my time trying to reach it–walking up the mountain road, sometimes trying to persuade my companions that it is worth it but failing, sometimes stuck in the small colorful market that falls in the way wasting precious hours, and sometimes climbing up and down a maze of overpopulated stairs.

She also writes great short stories, sometimes sad, often beautiful, and posts fascinating nature from India, so have a wander through her blog. You won’t regret it.

For anyone else who fancies answering some questions about their writing, here they are:

Do your dreams ever give you inspiration for stories? If so can you describe one that has?

Do you feel comfortable writing characters of other races/ genders or with extreme experiences you’ve never had? What are your no go areas for characters?

Have you ever written anything that you wouldn’t write now? What was it and what’s changed?

How about a genre? Do you always stick to the same one? Is there a genre you’d like to work in, but don’t know how?

If you’ve written a novel, what was your method? did you plan it all out beforehand with flow charts and lists? Or did you have a vague idea of what would happen and just start writing?

Argh! Magical Death Weed SEEDLINGS!

Ok so, I think I’m pushing the scary-seed theme a bit beyond it’s ability to terrify, so this will be the last post on the subject until either a Triffid flower forms or it starts releasing toxic gas and I find lots of dead flies scattered around it.

For anyone who missed the hooha, here are my previous blogs on the subject:

Ahem. So the photo above shows the seedlings poking up from the mysterious Chinese seeds that I received. They look pretty much like normal seedlings. Those are just the seed leaves poking up, so I’ll have to wait a bit to see the true leaves and maybe work out what they are. No dead flies yet.

End of update! 🙂

Fighting the worry habit

Ever since I had that messed up accident a thousand bloody years ago I’ve had anxiety. I think it’s as much a habit now as anything. My body just acts like something terrible is happening, no matter how untrue that is. Even taking a rest, my back tenses up as if I’m about to lift weights. If my hands aren’t active, I’ll pick and bite at my fingers until they bleed. And much as I try, I can’t stop gritting my teeth. Ever.

At one point I caused a huge lump to appear on my jaw from clenching my teeth and until recently I had pretty much constant pain in my back/shoulders except for when working (I actually avoided time off because I’d wind up in too much pain.)

However, I’m not writing this to complain, I promise, more to share two things that have helped me recently, and might also be an answer to stress for some others out there. I’m not totally fixed, but they’ve definitely helped.

Yoga

The first is yoga, which I’ve tried many times before and never liked. I think the difference this time is:

  • doing it on my own so I’m not worrying about if I’m any good, instead just concentrating on my body and how it feels.
  • even doing yoga at home, I’d do it in a foolishly small space. Now I do it in a bigger room where I can actually spread out a bit (I do still end up hitting the sofa or kicking the wall quite often, but it’s a definite improvement.)
  • using videos of someone who doesn’t irritate me and deals specifically with the problems I have with my back. The videos are by Yogini Melbourne. She is soothing, detailed in what she says, and manages to give simple options for those of us who have a tendency to fall over. She also provides plenty of time to have a little rest, especially at the beginning of a video. When I don’t feel like doing anything active, I tell myself it’ll be an excuse to have a little lie down, which is a great incentive.

Fiddlesticks

The other thing I’ve started doing is playing with worry beads and it stops me biting my fingers, which means I no longer get so tense. I started with a broken bracelet a few weeks ago, putting it back together as a string (the bottom one in the photo.) Then today I made the top two. With the middle one I went all out and added a spring and then some different sized cogs and nuts that I had, which makes it a bit like a baby’s rattle, a step up from worry beads. I figure the top and bottom beads are for general distraction, but the rattle is for more complex thought. Like Sherlock and his three-pipe problems, I sometimes have worry-rattle problems.

Now these are intense times, so I hope none of you are too stressed. But if you get anxious what are your ways of dealing with it?

Magical Death Weed Seeds: new evidence?

Photo from this great article about the plant prop from Day of the Triffids

I’ve been a bit shoddy posting recently, and I’m sure that many of you have been wondering: What about those mysterious Chinese seeds? Did they turn out to be Triffids?

Well there have been a few new revelations about the seeds, so I’m going to put an article up for any of you who’ve been wondering. There have actually been a few articles posted, mostly saying OH MY GOD, WHAT ARE THESE! WHERE HAVE THEY COME FROM? WHAT DO THEY WANT? DON’T PLANT THEM, WHATEVER YOU DO! A few countries have received them now: Canada, US, Australia, Ireland and UK – all English speaking countries, no idea if that’s significant.

https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/government-identifies-some-of-the-mysterious-seeds-posted-from-china-1014055.html

One detail in the article is that the seeds come from Vanuatu as well as China, which aren’t two countries I think of as being connected. The article suggests we ‘avoid planting the seeds’ which is pleasantly mild, so I won’t set fire to the pot on my windowsill yet. It seems there are a few different species in the packets. Bamboo would have been nice and I like a Petunia, but I don’t think mine are either, so they may still be Triffids. It’s still unknown as to why the seeds have been sent – although the ‘brushing’ scam is mostly likely. Apparently the US are having an investigation and China are helping.

I will post more details, should any appear.