Busy Little… Spider?

This is Charlotte. Charlotte is a garden spider (Argiope aurantia) who annually makes our home her home. Though of course it isn’t the same spider year to year, we always call her Charlotte. She used to always make her web on or beside the back porch, but she has moved to a sunny spot in a corner over the past couple of years.

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Each year, female garden spiders lay eggs, which they enclose in durable webbing sacs to protect them through the winter. Then, in the spring, these eggs hatch, and tiny spider hatchlings come out to make their own webs or fly away on bits of thread to find new homes – just like at the end of Charlotte’s Web.

Normally, you see one big brown egg sac on Charlotte’s web every fall. This year she’s been especially busy, however. Not one, not two, but three egg sacs adorn Charlotte’s web. We may have a whole family of Charlottes next spring!

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Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun

The light is getting that mellow, golden quality, the smell of dry leaves fills the air, the weather gets cooler (some days)… And the dogs want to go outside and gallop around playing. Of course Jake couldn’t resist joining in. Florence is even getting into the fall spirit with a festive bandana!

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Snow Days

Over the past week some much-publicized snow storms have blown across the country, bringing thick blankets of fluffy white snow to cover the land. Here, we were at the outskirts of the storms coming across Kentucky and Tennessee, so we missed the majority of the snow, but still got enough to leave us snowed in for a couple of days.

Walter, of course, loved having everyone shut up in the house with him for much of the week. He thrives on companionship and, given the choice, would require it at all times, with the possible exception of during his late morning-noontime nap. He was perfectly content to just look out the window; the couple of times he was given the opportunity to get out in the snow, he was actually afraid of it, and turned tail and ran back inside as soon as he got the chance.

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There was certainly plenty to see outside, though. The snow and cold brought out all manner of wildlife. The bird feeders are always popular, but during the snow they were absolutely covered. Though they are less immediately recognizable in their winter plumage, the goldfinches were out in full force. I don’t think I have ever seen so many in any one place at one time. That’s right: all of those round beige splotches in the tree will soon be gloriously dressed in bright yellow.

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Even though it isn’t much snow volume wise, it was enough to make roads icy and close schools. I almost slid down twice in one trip walking the dogs, and Florence actually did slip and fall on her walk. Needless to say, there isn’t a whole lot to do besides stay inside. We’ve perfected the art of relaxing; it’s going to be a shock when the world starts going again.

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Cat Portraits

It is painfully obvious that I have been absent from posting in quite a long while. It is sadly very easy to get caught up in all of the business of life and drop the things that aren’t absolutely essential. However, it seems quite a shame to drop something that I enjoyed as much as I did running my humble little blog here. Therefore, I have returned! Hopefully I will be able to keep things up better in the future.

To atone for my absence, behold, a truly stunning collection of cat portraits.

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Little Tom, the old man of the family, is not usually the biggest fan of having his picture taken, but he submitted to a photography session.

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Walter is the model of the group. He’s photogenic and he knows it, and can always be counted on to show up for a good photo op.

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Here is a moody profile shot of Jake, which his a bit ironic, considering that he is the least moody cat around.

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And Myrtle? Myrtle doesn’t do press appearances.

Midnight Rendevous

As I was lying in my bed, about to go to sleep, I heard a rustling somewhere in my room. I froze, the first thought in my head being, “Oh no, a rat!” I have a great fear of a rat jumping on me in my sleep, despite this never having actually happened, in fact never even coming close to happening. I turned on my light, and the rustling sound stopped. After a moment, I turned the light back off, thinking that it was most likely just some sound from outside, or from the air turning on and moving a sack or something. However, when the light went back off, the sound started up again. I turned the light back on, and it stopped.

After going back and forth with the light on and off for a while, I decided to just work up my courage and investigate. I turned the light on. I cautiously put my feet on the floor and tiptoed over to the corner that the sound was coming from.

I discovered that I wasn’t imagining things, and the sound wasn’t coming from outside.

I saw the culprit.

20131020-221856.jpgSomehow, this frog got into the house and upstairs into my room. He was jumping against the closed door, trying to find a way out. I obliged by opening the door for him, but my presence apparently frightened him, because he ran (or, I suppose, hopped) into the corner. I stood staring at him in confusion for a minute, then recognized the fact that I needed to catch him and put him back outside. At this point, he started running up the wall.

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I tried to shoo him onto a box below him, but then he jumped over to the door! When I tried to catch him over there, he jumped back to the wall.

He managed to run all the way up the door and perch on the top.

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He seemed pretty happy there, so I decided to just leave him to his own devices. It’s not like he was a rat or something.

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Farewell to Summer

Although it has technically been fall for a while now, this is Tennessee, which means that the start of fall doesn’t mean the end of summer weather. I couldn’t resist one more day of summer clothes last week just before the weather turned. Since that seems to have happened this rainy afternoon, I thought I would post a final couple of summery pictures for the year.

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It was a nice day for a walk with Walter. With the edge taken off of the heat, it was even cool enough for a light sweater! You can see the first fall leaves on the ground. The change in the seasons starts slowly, but it doesn’t take long after that.

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Bovine Baby Newborn

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On my way home from riding the other day, I saw this brand new baby calf. It obviously hadn’t been in the world long. I didn’t want to disturb the happy family, so I didn’t get a very close picture, but trust me on the newness and adorableness of this little calf! It was still a little wet, and its hair was quite curly!