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Monday, September 22, 2008

"Come into my parlor," said the spider to the fly

Last month we were graced with a nightly visitor, a nocturnal orb weaver. Each night, as darkness began to fall, she would begin her work. First she would sweep down from the porch roof to the side of the house, laying her first thread. Then she would begin spinning and weaving: up and down and around, back and forth she would go. When she was finished she had spun a massive web several feet wide and deep.
She would then sit in the center of her creation and wait patiently for some unsuspecting insect to fly into her lair. Then she would pounce, first immobilizing her visitor then wrapping her prey in silk. Sometimes she would leave him suspended and return to her waiting and watching. Sometimes she would devour him on the spot. Every morning, both she and the web would be gone, only to reappear again at dusk. Until one night a couple of weeks ago, as the evenings became cool, she came out, but didn’t weave as usual. Her web was only a few strands, suspended in a haphazard crescent from the middle of the porch roof, and she looked much fatter- I suspect she had an egg sac. I think that small web was her farewell gesture, as that was the last we saw of her. I suppose the mosquitoes and no-see-ums are happy that they can now flit about freely in the moonlight. But I miss her.

I tried several times to get a close-up pic of her and did manage to get a photo of her in her web, but she was too high for me. Fortunately, my son got a good close-up shot of her to share. I’ve googled to find out exactly what kind of orb weaver she was, but haven’t found a picture or description that fits her. If you'd like to learn more about these fascinating critters, the Bug Guide has a lot of info on and photos of orb weavers.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Purely Political Post

Sam is a feisty rooster, and he has taught me well. So I have decided to be feisty in my own way, and comment on political stuff—something I have avoided until now.
First off- let me confess to my political biases: (1)I am a liberal/progressive. (2)I don’t generally like to be privy to information of a personal/sexual nature concerning other people, including political candidates, unless it directly impacts me or national security. BUT…when candidates campaign or tout themselves as advocates of Christian or other “family values” and attempt to convince the rest of us that they are “right” in espousing values, then I expect something more than lip service from them. Maybe I expect too much, but that's what I expect.
So , when news came out today about Sarah Palin’s unwed teen-age daughter’s pregnancy, I tended to agree with Obama when he said that, “We don't go after people's families. We don't get them involved in the politics. It's not appropriate and it's not relevant. Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be. And if I ever thought there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they'd be fired,"
Obama also said: "This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as a governor or potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories."
He’s right. Up to a point. And I'm not in his campaign, so he can't fire me and he is in no way responsible for my views.
I believe that while private family dynamics may have nothing to do with a potential candidate’s ability to perform well in a particular capacity, it does say something about something. I haven’t quite figured out what that something is yet, but…
It’s kind of like when I’m in the grocery store parking lot and somebody has their bumper emblazoned with “What would Jesus do?” signs and such. When they unload their groceries, then abandon their grocery cart instead of returning it to a corral, and drive off, unconcerned, I tend to get slightly more upset when it slams into my car than I would have if it had been abandoned by an obvious heathen like me who was observed loading six-packs of beer into the trunk of his or her car. This may be unreasonable on my part, but there it is- it's how I feel.
I guess I feel that if you’re going to put yourself forward as a paragon of virtue with a particular set of values that you try to foist off on the rest of us, then you had better make sure your words and your actions are in sync. I hold you to a higher standard than the rest of us mere mortals. I am going to question and hold you responsible for a lot of what you say. If you publicly and vehemently espouse “family values” I expect you to be one of those rare people who has everything under control and on-board in his or her own family. I remember (yes, I am old enough, unfortunately) that when Adlai Stevenson (one of my very favorite political figures) ran against Eisenhower, his divorce became an issue: “If he can’t hold his own marriage together, how can he hold the country together?” It may not have been a valid question, but it did hurt him, politically. In this day and age, with candidates spouting off moral imperatives, it may be a valid and relevant question for candidates who have chosen to run based on those moral imperatives. So with all due respect to Sen. Obama’s statement, I submit that Governor Palin opened the door, and we, the people, have a right to enter, to question and to receive answers.