Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Encounters with nature.

This week you get to hear all about some crafting projects I've been working on, as well as a thrilling adventure I had with a surprise guest in my garden!

Lately, circumstances have been such that I have taken hardly any photographs. I'm still going through a wide variety of adjustments and settling in, and the hobby has simply slipped to the side. I've been trying to go strong on my phone though so that I have at least a slight documentation of my goings-on! Most of my energy lately has been dedicated to blog endeavors and ideas (exciting things in the works!), as well as crafting! I've always enjoyed minor crafting, sewing and the like, but lately I've decided to really kick it into higher gear.

I know I've mentioned Weird Little Monsters, which has been inspiring and fun and is largely responsible for my diving headfirst into more creative projects. I've taken my interest in sewing to a new level by working freehand and confidently to great, successful effect! For instance, Andrew and I are huge Harry Potter fans and wouldn't object to owning some awesome cloaks. So, I decided to make a tiny practice cloak for one of the Monsters.

A button closure and everything!

My next step is continued practice via making cloaks for my niece and nephew! They'll make excellent Christmas gifts. Before too long Andrew and I should be sweeping about the city in our own cloaks, and maybe even one day I'll make actual clothing. So many things to look forward to.

In other exciting sewing news, I decided to make a Koopa shell for my nephew. The little cutie (soon to be four years old!) is a big Mario fan (just like his auntie! haha) and is going to be Mario for Halloween. I immediately thought of how great it would be to make something to go with his costume. I miss him a bunch and want to gift him thoughtful items that will remind him of me. We've bonded over Mario a few times before, so this seemed like a great idea. My first thought was to make a 1-up mushroom, but Andrew suggested a Koopa shell.

It proved to be more complicated than I anticipated (and I wish I had taken in-progress photos!) but ultimately it came together very well and I'm really proud of it.

A video of me showing off all aspects of the shell's construction.
Also, I'm watching Friends in the background :D

The newest addition to my crafting interests rests in working with paper. Unfortunately, everything that I've done so far have been gifts and so I can't post them here! Once the recipients have received the items then I will gladly post the photos for your viewing pleasure! I'm feeling really good about what I've made so I am very anxious to share them with everyone.

And now it is time for the real meat of today's post! Lizard encounters in the garden!!

'Sup, ladies?

It all started innocently enough, like any other day really. I ventured out to the back patio and into the sun, urged by Andrew to take a break from inside things and to tend to my garden. I observed my cucumber plant with a sigh and a frown. What was once a full, lush and bountiful plant had been reduced to shrivels and brown leaves, positively ravished to near death by ferocious aphids. For a few weeks I've been attempting to keep the beasts at bay, but to not avail. The black spots continue to take over.

I haven't seen any new cucumbers since the last harvest that is currently being converted to pickles. It's disappointing, but I'm trying to stay positive at Andrew's reminders that we did yield a fair amount of veggies. I'm not ready to give up on the plant. I was so psyched when it started to grow, I have a sentimental attachment to it now!

A few weeks ago that thin, weak looking cucumber arm
was a flourishing plant that covered every inch of the
square of garden plot. So sad.

Anywho, I set to deadheading the plant, hoping that the one burst of aphid-free leaves left on the plant might thrive. I started to pull weeds and turn the dirt, being ever vigilant for spiders and horrifying centipedes. There are so many more bugs in California than Washington. It is not cool.

I worked my way toward the mystery three foot tall flowers near the corner. Actually, they're no longer a mystery thanks to Andrew's aunt! I sent her photos and she directed me toward a website that revealed they are amaranthus, specifically the "love lies bleeding" kind. Kind of an emo-tastic name for a plant if you ask me, but once they're done blooming they're going to look rather amazing!

The tufty pink thing at the top of the plant is going to get 
super long and drape down toward the ground soon!

At the base of the amaranthus there lives another flower plant. They're kind of like tulips and they're white. Very pretty! They're done blooming for now though. When I started the garden initially it was filled with rocks and broken bits of brick (in addition to the weeds and grass) and I piled all of these stone-type-things near the base of this white flowering plant. Many weeds and grass clumps have thrust up, so I began to pull at them. Suddenly something largeish and hyper fast jumped out and landed on the bricks next to me. I let out a shriek before realizing what it was.

Where I was when I was accosted by the mystery wildlife.

Turns out it was a lizard! And what a cute one as well. Just a tiny, itty-bitty thing.

See?! Tiny!

I called out for Andrew, who came to investigate. We marveled at how small and cute it was before he decided he was going to try and catch it. He chased it around the back patio for a bit, attempting to trap it so we could look at it for longer. The lizard proved to be a formidable opponent and ultimately evaded capture. I followed it around the patio, attempting to keep a safe distance so it wouldn't dart away too quickly for me to be able to follow. Andrew went into the house to get the camera while I continued to inspect the little fellow.

It travelled far and wide to find a new hiding spot.

I had a blast photographing the tiny thing. I really wanted to use the 50mm so I could get some up close, super detailed shots of him, but there was no way I'd be able to get that close to him. I opted for the zoom lens so I could keep a safe distance and began to snap-snap away. He darted around a little bit, and a spider even came into play a bit. I found myself feeling pleasantly annoyed at the spider's presence, as opposed to terrified, because it was interfering with my picture taking opportunity!

At one point the lizard ducked down under a ledge of the garden and I poked him with a blade of grass to get him visible again. After I grabbed myself a few good photos he decided he was done with being famous and took a quick dive down the wall. With that, he was gone. I wasn't yet done taking his photo so I felt a little sad. Andrew suggested I bring the camera out with me whenever I garden because, as I said, there are a lot more wild things out in California!

These are cropped in super tight, which means I can't print them large,
but they reveal all of his beautiful, scaly detailing! 

I'll end this post with a little story from my childhood.

As a young girl of around ten years old I desperately wanted a pet gecko. When I was nine my mom, sister and I went on a vacation to Hawaii where we visited some family. While there I saw many-a wild gecko and found them fascinating and fun. This is where the interest started. I pestered my mom, who took me to the pet store to get acquainted with them in person before committing to the "unusual" pet. The woman working there took a gecko out of the terrarium and I held it, comfortably letting it skitter around and enjoying its presence. We took this as a sign to proceed, and I received a gecko as a gift.

I was excited beyond belief, and the gecko was soon set up and living in my room with me. I was anxious to take it out and hold it, play with it. My ten year old self was certain, ready and determined. The lid of the terrarium was opened.

And then.

I screamed. In the comfort of my own home the gecko terrified me. I tried to touch it, but as it ran wildly around the terrarium I just shrieked more. The lighting fast reptile darted out of its glass home and into the depths of my bedroom. I jumped and danced and continued to wail while my mom exasperatedly and angrily barricaded my bedroom door and we set out on the great gecko hunt of the decade. 

This happened on more than one occasion and I only grew to be more terrified of the innocent little thing. Feeding it crickets once a week became an anxiety ridden, gut-clenching, dread filled day for me.  The gecko, who I named Sam, always made mad breaks for the opened lid. On one such occasion of his great escape my mom had had just about enough of my terror and tears over this creature that I begged and begged her for. We had cornered the lizard; it sat green and quivering, ready to run. My mom yelled at me to pick it up. I hesitated, irrationally terrified, and my mom yelled again for me to pick it up. I reach down and snatched it up by the tail.

Now, I'm sure that anyone reading this entry is perfectly aware of what will happen to a lizard when it is picked up by its tail. You don't know? Well let me tell you: the tail will fall the fuck off.  

As a ten year old with minimal knowledge and interaction with lizards, I did not know this. Upon holding the lizard up in the air, it promptly shed its tail and dropped to the ground, leaving little me to stare in absolute horror at the still moving tail in my hand. My tiny mind snapped, confused and afraid, and I began to scream. Repeatedly. Loudly. Unstopping.

My mother very nearly had to slap me in order to get me to stop shrieking. Sam was returned to his tank, and I learned a very valuable lesson about lizards. Over time his stump of a tail grew back, a constant reminder of that fateful day. After a few months Sam grew ill and passed away to the great lizard beyond, forever scarring my psyche. 



Cassidy said...

busting up laughing the ENTIRE time!!! i loved this post, moe. *applause*

MJ said...

I'm glad you liked it! :D I had a lot of fun writing it.

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