Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tarantula Hawk Wasp and Dinner

The tarantula hawk is a large wasp (about 2 inches long) that hunts tarantulas. The wasps don't actually eat the spiders, but they feed them to their larvae. Only the females hunt, so I'm supposing this is a mom.

We watched this one spend most of a day hunting down this fairly small tarantula -- well, it was small for a tarantula, but still bigger than the wasp, about three inches or so.  Once she got it and had it under control, she dragged it all the way across our yard, across the driveway, across the sidewalk, and out of view.

She didn't do a lot of flying, but then I guess her victim was a little heavy. The tarantula was still alive during all this, and struggling to get away, but apparently the tarantula hawk's sting is one of the most powerful stings around, so the spider didn't really have a chance. And although they're supposed to be pretty docile, the wasps have been known to sting humans when they think the human is threatening. Needless to say, THIS human stayed well away from the hawk and the spider, and used her telephoto to grab these shots.

(Click on photos to enlarge. Sorry that the lightbox feature doesn't seem to be working on these. Blogger moves in mysterious ways.)

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Day for Flags

M put out our flag this morning, for Armistice/Veterans/Remembrance Day. There's very little breeze today, so the flag isn't so much flying as drooping. But I think that's actually fitting, what with the dreary weather we're having today. An arctic front blew through the Hill Country this morning or last night, and the outside temp is only in the 40s right now. Much too chilly for this time of year.

I guess winter really is on its way. 


Monday, November 10, 2014

Blue Monday: Miscellaneous Blues

Blue Monday is hosted weekly by Smiling Sally.
To see more offerings, or to participate yourself, please head on over to her blog.

OK, first of all -- here's a shot from a few days ago. It's a photo of a Western Scrub-Jay in a tree across the way from our property. We've had bunches of them around here this year, and they can make an awful racket. But they're really very pretty birds. I've been trying to get some pictures of them for a long time, but they don't stay still very long. They really are a lovely blue, but they're also kind of nasty critters.

Blue Bird of Happiness?
I'm a little disoriented this morning. I keep thinking I've forgotten something. Today is shaping up to be pretty quiet around here. For the last month or so we've been unbelievably busy with medical and dental adventures, household chores and just general everyday chaos.  For some reason, we managed to get all sorts of STUFF planned for October and early November. And all that PLANNED stuff added to the UNEXPECTED STUFF that came up -- well, it left us with very little free time. So it's sort of nice to have a whole day with NO plans.

But, even though I don't have anything planned for today, I AM waiting for something -- and here's a hint:

It's a case for an iPad Mini-3 -- I've got the case, but not the pad yet!

I know it's a little hard to tell, but this case is a very dark blue. The color is a little easier to see on the inside:

The case is made of really soft leather, and it's waiting to be filled by the new iPad Mini I'm expecting to arrive later today. It's sort of an early Christmas gift from me to me. We bought one of the original iPads back when they first came out, and it's been great. But it's very heavy and doesn't have all the nifty bells and whistles the new models have, so I decided to splurge a bit.

(The hubby just checked on the tracking, and it's out for delivery. Very exciting!)

OK, that's about it for today. Just one more blue thingie. We've actually had some pretty substantial rain lately -- not quite enough to break the drought here in central Texas, but great for the lawns and gardens anyway. And right after a good rain, we usually find a bunch of these have sprung up everywhere:

Not sure what they are -- probably some sort of noxious weed that we should be pulling up as soon as it shows. But they look very sweet around the patio, and they usually only last a day. They come and go with the rain.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Unconscious Mutterings: Week 615

Time for some muttering. Here we go with Week 615. LunaNiña says: and I think....

1. Fencing :: Hamlet, Errol Flynn, Tom Sawyer

2. Mediocre :: bland, sub-par, middlin'
3. 19th :: Nervous Breakdown
4. Candy :: chocolate, Terry Southern
5. Scorch :: cooking, ironing (the way I do them, anyway)
6. Allergies :: I got 'em
7. Swirl :: Dairy Queen
8. Level up :: ???? (Nothing comes to mind.)
9. Modern :: Mid-Century
10. Tasty :: Dairy Queen

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Costco Invaded by Bears!

Click on photo to enlarge

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Blue Monday: New Doll Blues

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To see more offerings, or to participate yourself, please head on over to her blog.

Last weekend the Austin Doll Collectors Society held their annual show and sale, and M and I managed to get ourselves together in time to get there for an hour or so, on Saturday afternoon. October has been an incredibly busy month for us and I thought we might have to give it a miss this year. But somehow we found the time, and I'm really glad we did because I found this little sweetie to bring home with me:

8 inches of cuteness!

She's an 8-inch compo Vogue Doll (an early version of what would later become the Ginny doll), probably from the mid- to late 1940s. A little before my time -- the dolls I remember from my childhood were all hard plastic -- and a very welcome addition to my Ginny collection, as I don't have very many of these earlier dolls.

Here's a shot of her from the back:

Flip side also cute

She seems to be mostly original -- no obvious repainting, and the wig doesn't appear to be a replacement.  Her outfit (which is a lovely blue and white) looks original too, although it's not tagged (it's not uncommon for the clothing from this period to be untagged) and is just beginning to show its age. But it's clean and seems to be holding up pretty well.

The composition is in pretty good shape, too. She has a few minor cracks and a bit of crazing, but only about as much as you usually find in dolls from this era.  Here's a closeup:

She said "Take me home with you."

Isn't she a pretty girl?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Unconscious Mutterings - Week 613

Thought today might be a good day for some mutterings, so here we go with Week number 613 from LunaNiña:
  1. Family :: Manson (Looks like I've been watching way too much true crime TV!)
  2. Leather :: Joan Jett
  3. Chunky :: Bridgett Jones
  4. Shaking :: Elvis
  5. Suffering :: Johnnie Ray (Yeah, he was before MY time, too. Really.)

  6. Pockets :: Captain Kangaroo
  7. Loose :: a goose; ...lips sink ships; Fabian Forte

  8. Show :: biz
  9. Vest :: cousins (Vest is one of my family names.)
  10. Finale :: all she wrote

Monday, September 22, 2014

Blue Monday: Butterfly Watch

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To see more offerings, or to participate yourself, please head on over to her blog.

Wow, can you believe September is almost over? I find that very hard to accept. Not that it's my favorite month -- it definitely is not that. I'm not really fond of the month. Probably because it's my birth month (yet another year older, sigh), but also because it marks the official end of my favorite time of year and the official beginning of autumn. Not that I don't like the fall; but if fall is here, that also means winter is right around the corner. And that's something I don't even like to think about. Especially after the winter we had last year. Brrrrrr!

OK, enough of that. How did I get off on winter? What I really meant to say is: Wow, we actually had some rain last week! And over the weekend, we were inundated with just about every kind of insect you can think of. Including dozens of butterflies! For a while on Saturday I was playing hide-and-seek with a huge Tiger Swallowtail that was flitting around our sage bushes. Every time I managed to get the camera aimed and focused, the lovely butterfly would flutter off to another branch, and I'd end up with another blurry peekaboo shot much like this:

Hiding in the blossoms

But after many tries, I finally managed to get a couple of decent shots. This isn't the best, but it does allow you to see the lovely blue spots on its lower wings:

I believe the blue spots mean this was a female

And this was my favorite: wings spread, with a bright blue Texas sky in the background:

Tiger Swallowtail in Texas Sage bush

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Capturing the Roadrunner

We have a roadrunner living nearby. Probably more than one, of course -- but we only ever see one at a time. He (she?) likes to hunt for insects in our yard, and now and then comes right up onto our front porch to look around. Up close, he's really lovely to look at. I've been trying to get a photo for months now, but he's just too fast for me (I feel a little like Wile E. Coyote in the old Looney Tune cartoons). This is as close as I've come, so far. If you enlarge the photo and look closely, you can see the giant grasshopper in his beak.

(Click on photo to enlarge)

I snapped this with my iPhone, but I'm determined to get a really good shot with an actual camera (remember those?) one of these days. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Biker Dog

(Click on photo to enlarge)

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Unconscious Mutterings: Week 607

Haven't been keeping up with my mutterings for a while now. So here we go with Number 607 from LunaNiña:
  1. Men :: women -- OK, that was inevitable, right?
  2. Partial :: dentists (I've spent way too much time with mine)
  3. Expenses :: dentists again
  4. Notification :: for some reason, this makes me think of draft notices ("Greetings...")
  5. Bubble wrap :: hmmmm...the only thing that comes to mind is bubble wrap
  6. Speech :: my favorite subject in school
  7. Rumble :: West Side Story (When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way!)
  8. Sounds :: noise
  9. Sweaty :: summertime (love summer, but hate to sweat - go figure)
  10. Mud :: river, swamps, pies, facials, chocolate (actually, most things make me think of chocolate!)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Blue Monday: Christmas in July

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No, I'm not going to be posting any photos of Santa or tinsel-laden fir trees. That post title just refers to how I spent my weekend: finally put away the last of the Christmas stuff! I like to save all the cards we get each year, so I can refer back to them when I'm getting out next year's batch. And it always takes me a month or so to get them all stored away -- for some reason, I can't seem to do that when we're clearing out all the other Christmas paraphernalia. I've waited as late as March in past years, but this year was definitely a record.

But "Christmas in July" also refers to my shopping experience over the weekend. Did some shopping on Saturday, looking for summer duds. Silly me, to think I could actually shop for summer clothing in the summer. Of course, the shops are all getting ready for autumn -- or that first ice storm, by the looks of the floor displays.

Finally found a few appropriate items at the local mall, and snapped an accidental selfie in the dressing room. I ended up buying both the blue shirt and the pants which are a dark navy blue -- fetching, don't you think? (The pants legs are rolled up so I could see how they'd look cropped -- even though I really, really don't care for the cropped look. Why do you suppose all clothing designers suddenly think the average middle-aged American woman wants to go around looking like Huck Finn?)

Hmmmm.  I actually look pretty good, headless. Might do a series of these.

Anyhoo -- if you're looking to replace sandals, swimsuits, or straw hats, you'd best hit the shops immediately! Otherwise, it's overcoats and snow boots from now til 2015.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Still Here

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Can't believe it's been three months since I posted anything on this blog!  I was deliberately taking a little break from blogging, but really didn't intend it to go that long.  Lots has happened during the past few months, and the time just seems to be flying by.  Now we've had the July 4th holiday, and Wimbledon fortnight -- two major time markers for me; I always feel it's not really summer until those two events have come and gone.

So I guess summer is definitely here. 

Another seasonal marker -- the hubby seems to be constantly outside mowing, trimming, and weed-whacking (and watering, when the rules allow it).  Recently he hasn't been able to do as much of all that as he'd like, because of a foot injury.  But he's on the mend now, and even spent part of July 4th hanging out with his weed-whacker.  Here's a shot of him with the flag flying, and an almost blue sky in the background.

Some of those "clouds" are actually dust all the way from Africa!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Blue Monday: The Obligatory Bluebonnet Post

Blue Monday is hosted weekly by Smiling Sally.
To see more offerings, or to participate yourself, please head on over to her blog.

I'm back!  Betcha didn't know I'd been gone, huh?  Well, I haven't, really -- I've been right here all along, but it's been more than a month since I posted anything here at JOYSWEB.  Actually, I've been giving serious thought to just letting the blog die a natural death, since I never really have much time for it anymore -- keeping up with my book blog (A Little Reading) generally takes first priority, and even that's becoming harder to do.  Real life just keeps gettin' in the way, y'know?

OK -- enough of that.  Spring is here!  And that makes me soooo HAPPY!  I was really beginning to believe winter was here to stay.  Of course, we really don't have much spring here in central Texas -- we usually go seamlessly from deepest winter to the midst of summer's deadly heat and humidity.  But this year we're actually getting some really lovely springy days, and yesterday was one of the nicest so far.  In fact, it was so gorgeous, the hubby and I decided to take a little Sunday drive and get a peek at the bluebonnets that are blooming now.  (Yep, we were those old geezers in the SUV, slowing down traffic right up ahead.)

Bluebonnets have been the Texas state flower since 1901
I've always loved our state flower, and I really missed them all those years I lived out of state.  This year's crop is supposed to be less impressive than most years -- not enough rain at just the right point in their development.  At least here in the Hill Country, they're supposed to be less plentiful than usual, not as blue, and not as tall.  Well, we found plenty of bluebonnets during our drive -- in fact, there were masses of them along every road we traveled.  In some areas, there were bluebonnets as far as the eye could see.  Like a river of flowers.  Really lovely.

A carpet of bluebonnets somewhere near Bertram TX

Hard to get photos, of course, because the shoulder on a busy highway really isn't a great place to stop and explore.  But we did manage to find a couple of places to pull over and get a few snaps.

This display was seen on Hwy 281 near Marble Falls

At one stop, we found a little Texas flag someone had crumpled and abandoned.

So we shook it out and set it up.  Cute, huh?  (And for you eagle-eyed native Texans: Yes, I think it IS upside down -- the white stripe should be on top.  Probably not made in Texas.)

Not so cute -- someone also left another memento among the blooms. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm a little tired of all those valentine hearts and all the red and pink we get for Valentine's Day.  So here's a bouquet of my favorite flowers - yellow roses.  Hope you have a happy day, together with your special sweetie!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Unconscious Mutterings: Week 574

This week's mutterings from LunaNiña:

1. Vex :: miff, rile, peeve

2. Ghost :: Patrick Swayze (sexiest ghost ever)

3. Detail :: the small stuff

4. Furthers :: adds to, aids

5. Foxy :: Patrick Swayze (do I see a theme developing here?)

6. Hybrid :: combo, mongrel, vehicle

7. Maximum :: most, utmost, ultimate

8. Wonderful :: my wonderful Hubby (you thought I was gonna say Patrick Swayze again, now didn't you?)

9. Munch :: Richard Belzer (actually, I think he's pretty foxy, too)

10. Organize :: my main goal for 2014 -- should be written ORGANIZE!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Our World: Must Be Winter!

It's VERY cold today here in the Texas Hill Country.  It was very cold yesterday, too; I'm pretty sure it didn't get much above freezing all day. And I believe it's supposed to be even colder tomorrow.  Brrrrrrr!!!!!

I know that the whole country is having a really bad winter this year, with blizzards in the north and out west, and frigid conditions along the eastern seaboard.  And, of course, it's nowhere near that bad here. But in this part of the world, we're ill prepared for this kind of cold lasting as long as it has this winter - December was colder than normal, too.  It's turning out to be the coldest winter we've had in 20 years.  When we were shopping at HEB the other day, the young man checking us out said he couldn't remember it ever being this cold this long, and I'm sure what he said was true. A whole generation of kids have grown up here, not knowing what a real winter is like.

The Austin area power companies have been issuing warnings about using too much energy at certain times of the day, and say we should turn the thermostat down to 68 or lower at night. We've been keeping ours around 70, so I guess we'll need to do some adjusting.  The hubs has taken to wearing woolly socks and the heavy sweaters he thought he'd never wear again, once we moved back to Texas.  And I've ordered some flannel nighties from LL Bean.  Flannel nighties!!!

Needless to say, I stayed in all day yesterday - well-known weather wimp that I am.  Except for about a minute during the evening when I wrapped up and ran outside to take some photos of the frozen water in our birdbath.  These were the best shots, but it's still a little hard to see - those bubbles are frozen under the ice.  (Oh, and those are decorative birdies - not frozen real ones!)

I do worry about the animals and birds in this kind of weather.  Fortunately, it's not likely to last too long - the sun will melt all that ice, and we'll all feel a lot better.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blue Monday: Just One More

Blue Monday is hosted weekly by Smiling Sally.
To see more offerings, or to participate yourself, please head on over to her blog.

OK, I promise this is the LAST post about Christmas!  I know, I know....Christmas is over and the New Year is already a week old.  Isn't that amazing?  Tempus sure does fugit.

Anyway, we've got nearly all the holiday decorations cleared out and stored away now.  Just about the last reminders are my Christmas bears that I put out every year.  They always get to stay around a little longer than all the other ornaments because they're just so cute I can't bear (did I really say that?) to part with them.

The two Paddington Bears are wearing their bright blue duffle coats, perfect for this frigid winter we're having.  They're both Salvation Army adoptees (like most of my bear collection).  I've written about Kringle Bear before.  He's almost thirty years old now!  But the years have been kind to him.  Unlike my little childhood teddy (I've written about him too) - he definitely shows all the love he's received over the years. But he still has his lovely blue button eyes, and this year he's sporting a nice blue necktie.

Generally, he lives in a box in my closet, all wrapped up in acid-free tissue. But I thought this year he should get to come out and take his place with all the other bears in his new home.  He likes the company.  And it's really COLD in that closet.