In many species, including most mammals and birds, it is the male that is larger and showier that the female of the species. In spiders and insects the opposite it true. I had a very up close and personal encounter with sexual dimorphism in the argiope spider ( orb weaver) on a lunch time walk close to my office last week.
I actually spied this gorgeous lady spider the week before and took a few pictures of her. She was a little nervous and moved away from the center of the web too quickly for me to snap a shot of her sprawled out. Perhaps she was already lying in wait for her courtesan.
The next visit she was laying very still at the hub of her web and I managed to approach her very quietly without disturbing any of the threads of the web. I took a few pictures from the front but I didn't like the lack of contrast so I approached her from the side. That is when I spotted the little spiderman.
Here it is very advantageous to be tiny and nimble. The male must approach the web from it's edge and crawl across it without disturbing the web, otherwise she will think him to be lunch and he will have to fall make a very speedy descent of be eaten. Sexual cannibalism is also prominent in the spider world. He crawls very silently and slowly on the opposite side of the web until he reaches the hub where she lies waiting. The act occurs there and then she may eat him or he may escape by jumping away.
I hope to visit this dramatic "web site" over the next few weeks to see if it was a success. I will look for evidence of an egg sac and if nature is kind and the spiderlings are able to hatch I will try to catch some pictures for you.
Here is few pictures of a card I made for a dear friend and some flowers just in case you don't really want to be thinking about spiders for the remainder of the day. If you are fascinated by the subject though i would highly recommend the "green porno" series of short films by Isabella Rossellini. Especially the segment where she portrays the little spider man. In an interview for Scientific American , when asked why she focused on insects, she said,
"Mammals would look too pornographic. With the bugs, they’re so strange and far out, they’re comical. If a human being behaved like a bug, he or she would be arrested. Also, when I was little, I always said I should have been born in Africa or been like Jane Goodall. That was my dream. And then when I moved to live in the country, I discovered all these bugs in my backyard. I discovered you can do your own safari. Animals are everywhere. Some are more romantic, like tigers and elephants and chimpanzees, and some are less romantic, like earthworms, but they are just as interesting."
But it has now been proven by researchers at the University of Michigan that walking in nature makes you smarter. They compared taking walks in urban and natural environments and found a statistically significant difference. I heard this on the radio this morning and when I left for lunch time walk in happy valley I told Lisa I was going for a smart walk.
I am not sure it made me smarter but it did improve my alertness for the afternoon.The evening was spent at the side of the soccer pitch for the season opener. Team Ireland, Deborah's team won 11-2.
I guess you can see I was doing a little embroidery while I watched the action.
Don't just go with the flow. Settle down on the crust. Imagine a world without any crust. There would be no pies, just goopy filling, no bread, no hamburger buns, and no you or me. That's right. You, and every living thing we know of, live on or in the Earth's crust. BILL NYE ( the science guy)
Of course the rocks and minerals are a very important universal part of that crust. In that way they connect us all. I guess that must be why I love holding them in my hands and creating with them. Some are covered, some works in progress and some are naked.
Happy family day ( a somewhat new holiday tradition in Ontario)!!! But really isn't everyday family day.
Those are a few new covered stones with images I am experimenting with this weekend. Soon I hope to have enough for a little spring etsy shop update.
I was playing around photographing the mushrooms and making spore prints last weekend when I made this picture.
I used some vintage sheet music I had found at a rummage sale last spring. I thought it especially funny how it said animato and at least one of the mushrooms above that bar is an amanita. Okay, maybe only I see the humour in that.
What this photograph reminded me of was an article I had read about how yeast cells sing. The cell walls (plants, fungi and yeast cells have those) vibrate at a frequency of about 1000 times per second and that equates to a sound about two octaves above middle C. It is not audible to the human ear (thank goodness) unless amplified greatly. What did you think of that little audio clip of the singing yeast cell? It reminds me of outer space or the deep ocean.
So do you think different mushroom cells vibrate at different frequencies and those sing in harmony? I will let you ponder that question as I show you some more members of the forest symphonic choir.
That was the barbershop quartet.
The Von Mushroomtrappe family singers.
This post isn't finished until the big coral fungi sings and announces the winner of the "too cute" post giveaway of a crochet covered stone.
The winner is Maiz . I want to thank each and everyone of you who took the time to leave a comment. They have recharged me in so many ways. When ever I have any self doubt about what I am trying to do here and I am sure there will be days I will I can always come here. I wish I could send stones to you all. I can give you this, a most amazing stone I found on the weekend on a trail I don't often walk. I took a picture of it and then left just where it was.
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." Martin Luther King
This photograph of a quince blossom lying on a mountain of salt sums up how i felt just over a month ago when I found out my dear friend Elsita and her daughter had to cancel their trip to visit me this month for reasons beyond their control. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I felt like the air with all its life sustaining ability had been suddenly squeezed from me. I felt tired, uncreative and more uncommunicative than usual. I felt if I stayed in this place for very long I would soon be become desiccated just like this blossom if it stayed on the bed of salt.
Nature brought me back from this temporary void.
Nature also inspired me to create a special stone, a gift to elsita, to show how we are joined in time and space even though we have never actually met. I know that with the infinite hope spoken of at the beginning of this post , it will happen.
Without Elsita , her encouragement, endless talent and creativity, humour , humility and kindness resurrection fern and all that has unfurled from it would not exist. And if none of this existed it would mean i would never have had the great pleasure of "meeting" so many of you amazing people. Wouldn't it be wonderful for as many of us as possible to meet some day.
I had been planning to write this post for a while now but was really prompted to complete it this evening after picking up a very special parcel from California at the post office today. I will share the contents of that after i have come down from the clouds.
Note to self: shouldn't you actually mail that special stone to your friend now :)
There are times in my creative life where I just drop everything I need to do or have to finish and I start a new project on a whim. Yesterday I had just such a time. Obviously the current swine flu situation has been occupying both my professional and personal life as it has for most of us over the past week. Things have reached a cacophony of anxiety and fear. We sit on the brink of the WHO's pronouncement of level 6 pandemic alert and read the most recent statistics -- As of 18:00 GMT, 4 May 2009, 21 countries have officially reported 1085 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection .
It is not the pigs that are to blame for the present situation but "us". It was interesting that a day after I created this little softie on a whim I read an article on line by Mark Henderson, science editor for the times UK which concluded with the following paragraph.
"While a swine flu pandemic remains the greatest danger, a threat that passes will carry grave risks of its own. If it promotes misguided suspicion that surveillance, public health plans and antiviral stockpiles are a waste of time and money, it will leave us ill-prepared the next time around. And there will be a next time: pigs will fly before influenza stops mutating. Our pandemic defences should not stop at flu: we also need to guard against flu fatigue. It can be almost as hazardous as the virus itself."
Edgar was napping beside me as I embroidered these wings enjoying the warmth and fresh spring air out on the porch yesterday.
Edgar tried the wings on for size before they were sewn onto the little hand knitted piglet.
This was just sent to me with the line: Don't do this and you should be okay.
We visited the Natural History and Science Museum of Vienna and were blown away by their rocks and minerals, many of which were displayed in row after row of oak cabinets. There were so many specimens gathered from all over the world. Some even came from Ontario. I am sure you wouldn't be surprised to hear that I spent a great deal of time there and took oh so many photographs.
I can only share a small portion of those with you so here you will see my absolute favorites.
So many of these looked so organic it was hard to believe that they were actually inorganic rocks and minerals. Doesn't the one above look like something you would see in a coral garden. This next one really reminded me of Geninne and that was even before she made her feather stamp making video.
The colors in the next two also reminded me of Geninne's art. Don't they look like they were painted?
The last one looks like birch trees reflected in the water and the one above it has such a south west feel to it.
What does this one remind you of??
Natural crochet covered stones otherwise known as siderastrea.
The last one to twinkle over you as you sleep tonight is pentacrinus scalaris.
What makes the leaves so colorful at this time of year? They were always colorful it is just that the dominant pigment in spring and summer was chlorophyll which is green and this masked the other colors . Now the greens have faded revealing the underlying yellows, oranges , browns and reds. The weather has been perfect to enhance the beauty of the colorful leaves this October. Warm days followed by cool dry weather is what determines the intensity of the display. I wanted to share some of this beauty with you because next week it could all be gone. The temperatures are dipping around the zero mark the next few nights and it might even snow a little north and west of here this weekend. In Canada we know that you have to appreciate the color while it is here because tomorrow it could be all grey or white. >b>
I hope you have a colorful weekend. I am thinking of starting a few project and finishing up a few I have already started but so many other things are happening this weekend so it will be interesting to see how much I accomplish. I also need to get out and experience the color before it is all gone. I am kind of hoping it snows before all the color has disappeared :)