Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rules to live by.

Identify what you're eating. That's the golden rule isn't it. When you're foraging for wild mushrooms, herbs and berries, don't stick anything in your mouth, no matter how appetising it looks, until you are sure it isn't poisonous. Good advice that. Note to self--remember it.

I ate some soap on Christmas day. Not on purpose, just in case you were wondering. If an image just flashed into your head (as it did into mine) of me skipping through a sun-baked meadow, basket in hand, stopping every now and then to pick blackberries, crab apples, and soap sprigs passing themselves off as edible fungi, well, it wasn't quite like that. Sadly. I didn't have to travel very far to find the soap. It was on my thumb. I thought it was yogurt, so I licked it up. 

In my own defence, I was dispersing yogurt through my muesli at the time, so it was an easy mistake to make. And my judgement was impaired by my pre-caffeination status, so everything was a bit blurry. Could've happened to anybody, right? At least, that's what I will continue to tell myself. 

Yogurt and soap actually look quite similar. From a distance. Don't taste the same though. Obviously, the distance decreased somewhat as I moved my thumb towards my face to ingest, but I still didn't pause to make a positive ID. Hmmmm. 

At least when people ask me what I got for Christmas, I can say, "my mouth washed out with soap."  That oughta catch them off guard. I can picture the raised eyebrows already.

Technically, one could argue that I got my mouth washed out with water to try and remove the soap that I stoopidly put into it, but I doubt the conversation will continue that far. If it does, I will report back.

The delightful creature in the above photograph is, I believe, a magpie moth, a grown up version of the shopping mall wriggler I mentioned in an earlier post. He/she was very camera shy, so tis lucky I managed to get any shots. Check out those cool belly stripes;

Assuming I have made a positive ID in this instance (please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), the stripes of this NZ native are horizontal in the moth and vertical in the caterpillar. How neat is that.

Here are some more pictures of a magpie moth caterpillar that I took ages ago. Yet another bug that knows how to colour coordinate. I spotted this fellow about two weeks after I bought the stranded caterpillar home, so I did wonder if it was the same one, just chubbier, as would be expected, but he was quite a distance from where I put him;

He was motoring along though, so you never know... He did, after all, somehow hitch a ride into the middle of a shopping mall;

I thought he may have been frantically looking for food, so I offered him a smorgasbord of tasty morsels from the garden, but all of my suggestions were rejected. I now know they have a very selective diet. They clearly follow that "identify what you're eating" rule. Sensible fellows;

They don't seem to be quite so fond of the "look before you leap" rule though. But then, I'm not very good at applying that one either. Maybe they have velcro feet too, like the stickys. (You were waiting for me to mention them, weren't you.). Or poor eyesight, so they can't see that it's a looong way down. That ignorance is bliss thing;

He didn't fall though. Just in case you were wondering. Phew. Maybe he found a lucky clover;

It doesn't work, btw. That washing ones mouth out with soap thing. But I'm running Windows 2000 on my computer. I reckon that's enough to make anyone cuss...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Gymnasts in my garden.

Based on my own obsessive observations, I must conclude that the private lives of stick insects are far more energetic than we are led to believe. So far on this blog I have provided photographic evidence that they spend rather  a lot of time canoodling, that they are happy to strut their stuff for photo shoots, and they even dance with their own shadows. I strongly suspect that they are also in touch with their inner gymnasts. This sticky is clearly practising her ribbon routine;

And this lass looks like she's about to spiral down the flax pole, gracefully twirling her convolvulus ribbon, maybe finishing her performance with a double flip, or perhaps the splits;

As soon as my back was turned, I reckon this sticky resumed his trapeze act--swinging round and round the flax leaf. I hope he didn't make himself dizzy; 

And here we have another sticky doing star jumps. Or trying to;

Check out his back right foot. Looks like a bit of an awkward pose, doesn't it. His bottom resembles a musical instrument, imo. An in-built flute. Not sure what kind of tune it would play though...

This sticky is shedding its skin. And doing it in style--performing a balancing act in mid air. Don't know about you, but I'm impressed;


Can only speculate about the gymnastic content of this liaison. Look at all those legs;

And finally for today, let's have an RFP, or Random Fern Photo, not to be confused with an RFP, or Random Flower Photo, because they are, of course, two entirely different things.

This fern is clearly an interspecies hybrid--Fernis Elephantis;

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Baby Bug Bounty

It's baby bug season! Hoorah!

My camera isn't posh enough to get a good close up of anything teeny weeny, but I still think these stickys are post worthy;

Easy does it, sticky. It's a long way down;

Just to prove that my obsession with stick insects has not dampened my adoration of other bugs, let's pause to  admire a newborn spider montage created in the corner of my lounge window;

But we can still go back to adoring stickys, whenever we feel the urge. There's no need to deprive ourselves;

I wonder how much they weigh...not very much, I'd say...

Tiny, delicate, and perfectly formed, just like the leaves they are showcasing themselves on;

And unbelievably photogenic, too. (As if I needed to say that out loud);

Perfection poised amongst the petioles;

They definitely deserve their place in the spotlight;

But back to other bugs...

I almost missed my photo opportunity here because this little fellow was a total speed freak. Caterpillars can really hoof it when they want to. Who would've thought;

Which reminds me...I was wandering through a shopping mall about a year ago when I just happened to look down, and what did I spy on the the middle of the walkway...but a caterpillar. True story. It looked just like this one. It's a miracle I spotted him as he was the same colour as the floor. I guess his enthusiastic wriggling caught my eye.

At the risk of sounding anthropomorphic, I'd have to say Mr Caterpillar looked a little troubled by his alien surroundings. I, for one, would really like to know his back story. How on earth did he get there? I didn't have time to ask though. With a herd of school children stampeding towards him, I had to take drastic action. I dropped to all fours and formed a protective cocoon around the first time shopper. (It was my first time in the mall too, coincidentally.)

It's quite possible that the people who stared at the strange woman who was kneeling down in the middle of a thoroughfare, had no idea my hands were cupped around a caterpillar. It's also quite possible they may have thought I was more of a freak if they had known what I was doing. I've learned to accept these things. I expect the mall security peeps watching me on camera may have also been perplexed--concerned even--by my activities. 

Anyway, trying to--safely--pick up a squirming caterpillar from the floor of a teeming shopping mall is not for the faint hearted. He resisted my rescue attempts. Eventually I managed to persuade him that my plan made more sense than his did. 

When we finally made it back out into the sunshine, a new problem revealed itself. My efforts to find him suitable accommodation nearby, failed. I had no choice but to bring him home with me. 

A nice woman in a shop found me a plastic cup to put him in for the bus ride, which was a relief. It's not easy extracting ones bus fare--or doing anything else, for that matter--when you're nursing a feisty caterpillar in the palm of your hand. I put a piece of paper over the cup, and secured it with a rubber band. 

Whenever I leave the house now I take a BRR--a Bug Relocation Receptacle--with me. (One of those cylindrical cotton bud containers, minus the cotton buds, in case you were wondering. Works a treat. As long as you don't forget to take it with you.)

I wonder if the fellow in this photo is one of Mr Caterpillar's descendants...

And just to show how unpredictable I can be, let's finish today's little nature excursion with something other than a sticky picky...introducing a shiny new feature of this blog, the RFP, or Random Flower Photo. 

A pansy in the process of unwrapping its gift to the world;

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Thing in my Basement

I don't have any dodgy connections. Other than my faulty dial-up modem, of course.

Perhaps you could argue that some of the synapses in my brain don't fire in a satisfactory way. And the follow on effect of synaptic sluggishness is that the brain--mouth connection sometimes goes pear-shaped.

But I'm derailing myself again, aren't I.

Before we get back on track, let's have an RBP, because every blog post should have one, and because this sticky is just soooo adorable, I cannot withhold its picture any longer;

Isn't she a cutie...

Now, what I was trying to say is that my only connection to the criminal underworld is that I keep moving into flats thugs have previously resided in. Not on purpose, just in case you were wondering. I just seem to have a talent for it.

Not the best skill to possess, admittedly. And while I'm happy to be a bug-magnet, unfortunately my spindly weakling/runt of the litter status has always made me a thug-magnet as well. Oh yay. Bullies are just drawn to me. I'm like some sort of homing beacon. They have a habit of moving in next door to me too. What fun.

And part of the problem is that because I got the shit kicked out of me while in the protective womb of the state school system (shin pads should be standard issue for all the short geeky kids on their first day, I reckon), I'm now soooo over bullies. I don't scare easily. I've noticed that bullies don't like it when they snarl at me like a rabid dog, and I respond with one of my deadpan, Is that all ya got? expressions. It makes them look a bit silly.

Probably a bit silly of me not to be afraid of them though, all things considered... I wonder if there's a name for that disorder... oh wait, I think I may have mentioned that I was born without a sense of self-preservation...

Waffle Interruptus;

Speaking of consequences, as a writer I know I'm always supposed to be on the lookout for morsels of information that can spawn my next story. I get that. I admit to it. I'm nosy. And imaginative.

But "inquisitive" and "creative" tis a dangerous combination. And when it comes to personal experiences with Thugs Incorporated, I've already got plenty of material to work with, thanks. I really, really don't need any more.

By now, you're probably thinking--if you haven't hit the back button yet--what on earth is this mad woman waffling on about? Where is all this leading?

Down into my basement, of course.

When I moved in I sort of poked my nose under there, but didn't look properly, because I can't see in the dark. I'm not sure eating more carrots would help. It's pitch black under there, folks. My groovy solar powered torch, bless it, just doesn't illuminate the landscape anymore. You could say it has synaptic issues of its own.

So what did I do then? Absolutely nothing. Even when the nice peeps at the power company sent me a free torch a few months later, I still didn't launch a basement expedition.

Not scared of the bogeyman or anything, or worried that the hawks might get me on route (haven't seen them for a while, actually), I just didn't need to go down there. Having dumped most of my possessions to get out of the swamp--formally known as Christchurch--it's not as if I'm desperate for storage space.

I did ask my landlord if there was anything interesting under there and she said no, and like the gullible fool that I am, I believed her. Every now and then the thought crossed my mind that I probably should take a peek, since it's my basement and all, but...well...I didn't.

Waffle interruptus;

In my own defence, the door to the basement sticks, and the bolt is rusty, and the only time I did prise it open I injured my thumb on it. Ouch. Not much of an incentive to repeat the performance.

And I know the neighbour's cat would follow me down there cos he's nosy too. It would be a mission to coax him out again. Cats are like that.

But curiosity got the better of me. Man, I hate it when that happens. It never ends well.

I finally ventured down into the basement the other day. Brave little me. I wore gardening gloves, a simple, and I'm pleased to report, effective way to protect my accident prone appendages. (The neighbour's cat was inside, just in case you were wondering.)

My new torch revealed an assortment of boxes and building maintenance paraphernalia...and something else. Something untoward. Something you would prefer not to see. Trust me. I saw the outline and thought, "Ooooh, if it's pretty, I might be able to use it upstairs." Then I shone my torch on it.  

OMFG. Pretty, it is not.

I can't tell you what it is. Sorry about that. I'd like to. Honest. Hell, I'd love to show ya all a picture. I'd love to tell ya what I'd really like to do with it, but it would be very, very unwise for me to elaborate. Google is just way too clever. If I told you, then google might tell someone else.

I feel mean withholding such vital details, but I guess I must have a smidgin of self-preservation, after all.

Anyway, now that I know The Thing is in my basement, I can't unknow it. Damn it. I can see it there. In my mind's eye. Directly below where I am currently sitting. It makes me think of Mr Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. Not exactly an identical scenario, but my mind has made the association, and that's all there is to it. Who am I to argue.

Just get rid of it then, I hear you say. Ah, if only it were that easy. It's a tricky thing to dispose of. Very tricky indeed. Too heavy for my spindly little arms. And that's all I will say on the matter.

Curiously enough, I got some very odd looks from the proliferation of workmen who ventured down into the basement--with their heavy duty torches--recently. I reckon I know why now. They didn't look at me funny beforehand. OMFG, they probably thought "The Thing" belongs to me. I am, after all, the tenant who rents the flat that is attached to the basement.
The Thing isn't actually illegal, or dangerous, not directly, anyway, and I have mentioned it to the police (and no, I didn't have a laughing fit on the phone, just in case you were wondering), but it does indicate that someone who is dangerous, and who does illegal things, used to live here. Yippee.

The inevitable question is--does the thug brigade still have a key to this flat?

Given that my homing beacon appears to be in perfect working order--no synaptic sluggishness there--then the answer to that question is most likely affirmative.

After discovering that the previous--dodgy--tenants at my last abode took off, leaving the door wide open and the key in the lock, I decided not to bother changing the locks, which turned out to be a mistake. Hmmmm.

The moral of this story, a.k.a. Holly's Helpful Hint for the Week is; when you move into a new (but technically, secondhand) house, don't fart about, go and look in the basement, if it has one, straight away. Or better still, inspect the basement, before you sign a lease.

Either that, or make a conscious decision never to look. That works too. Ignorance is bliss as they say. I wish I had never gone down there.

And on that note, I think it's time for a morale the form of, you guessed it, another sticky picky!

Three cheers for my fantastic photogenic Phasmid family! They really know how to colour coordinate themselves, don't they;

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Those with spines...and those without....

These spiny stickys don't live in my garden, but in someone elses. Yes, I have been loitering...outside stranger's houses...talking to their bushes...

Of course, it's not the bushes I am conversing with, but the stickys in them, but other humans might not realise this important distinction.

Rest assured that if I spot a human approaching, I button my lips and just stand there smiling stoopidly, like I'm waiting for a bus, until they have passed by. A technique sure to allay any suspicion. Unless they notice that there is no actual bus stop...

Perhaps I should prepare an explanation just in case someone alerts the local constabulary to my presence. Neighbourhood watch in action. That would be funny. Not.

And because it wouldn't be funny, I'm sure a giggle would escape and we all know what happens when that happens (scroll down to my Stuck on Stickys post if you need to get up to speed on this.) It would get messy, for sure.

Uh oh. Do you realise what I have just gone and done? I have put the idea in my own head--why oh why do I have to be so impressionable--that I'm going to have one of my uncontrollable laughing fits in front of a police officer. Which means the next time I see a police officer, whether there are any stickys in the vicinity or not, I will start smirking. How suspicious will that look...

And it won't end there. A gigglefest will ensue. I won't be able to pause long enough to convince the agent of law enforcement that I'm not on drugs. What do you think the outcome of that will be? Yikes. Especially if the cop thinks I'm laughing at him... Double yikes...

And just to reiterate, my laughing fits are quite dramatic. I ain't kiddin'. My limbs go all floppy and I collapse in a disheveled heap, regardless of whether or not it is an appropriate social environment for me to do so.

And I start...sort of...well...squeaking. That too. A most peculiar sound, even if I do say so myself. It isn't the sort of noise you would expect human vocal cords to produce. (Freaked me out the first time I heard it.) People stare. Sometimes they snigger at my squeaking--if they're not too uptight--which is nice. Means I have zero chance of regaining my composure if others join in though, but hey. The world needs more laughter, right?

Oh, and I reckon my speculation about the police response to supernatural predators in my last post, would mean that if I actually did manage to compose myself enough to string together a coherent sentence, chances are I would say something I shouldn't, like; "So tell tasers work on zombies?"

And then I would just laugh, and squeak, some more. What would the police officer do, I wonder...

As luck would have it, the other day when I was crossing the road, what should be waiting to turn the corner, but a cop car. And what was my reaction to seeing it there? To start smirking, of course.

I actually had to look away from the vehicle. Sure sign of guilt that, avoiding eye contact. And they were probably/hopefully watching me, because I was a pedestrian, and they were probably/hopefully focused on trying not to run me over. 

I think it's safe to say that more than enough evidence has been tabled via this blog that I am indeed guilty...of being a doofus...

I shall interrupt myself there, and throw in another RBP. There is a sticky in this photo, honest;

Maybe I should see if I can get me one of those medical alert bracelets that states something along the lines of;

"This person has a tendency to express behavioural patterns that might suggest intoxication despite the absence of alcohol or drug consumption."  

Although I guess there might be some more commonly used terms for that, ones easily understood by those without a medical background, like;  

"This person is a bit nuts." 


Finally, an emerald maiden basking in the sun;

And now I must, regrettably, instigate a change in tone.

While the world needs more laughter, it also needs more compassion.

I wasn't sure if I could publish this post, as these pictures now just make me sad. I went to take more photos of these stick insects recently, only to discover that at least four of them had been lined up in a row, and squashed on the footpath. Couldn't see any other adults left alive on the bush, and there had been quite a few in residence.

I think it's probably best if I censor myself, and leave the final comment to Blake;

The tree which moves some to tears of joy, is in the eyes of others only a Green thing that stands in the way.   

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Hawks Are Circling

A couple of hawks have moved into my neighbourhood. Actually, I haven't been here long, so you could say I have moved into theirs. Anyway, they are impressive. They look really staunch. And they look like they know they look really staunch. I confess they make me tremble a little.

I'm not worried that they will swoop down and pluck me off of the verandah or anything. My concern stems from my former mausmaid stint. So far I have resisted the urge to cup my hands together and yell, "run little mousies, run!" whenever the hawks are circling. that I think about it, running might be a bad idea...perhaps, "hide little mousies, hide!" would be better advice...or, "sit still, little mousies, sit very very still, don't even twitch a whisker!"... Given that hawks are known for their eagle to speak... now that I've put the idea in my own head (it doesn't take much) I'm wondering that if they actually did swoop down and pluck me off of the verandah, what would they do with their bounty? Hypothetically speaking, of course... Would they consider my flesh worthy of feeding to their offspring? Or would they, on closer inspection, turn up their noses and release their talons, discarding my scrawny body into the bay? I expect the water would be rather chilly this time of year. The air certainly is.

Not worried about it though, just so you know...  Neither the abduction bit, nor the rejection aspect. I'm not nervously scouring the skies every time I trek the short distance to the letterbox...even though I am somewhat deficient in the swimming skills department...and can't concentrate on doing anything when my feet are cold...which I expect they would be, very much so, if I were to be dropped into the ocean, in the middle of a southern winter...

But I realise how improbable such an event would be...don't worry that I'm worrying...cos I'm not...honest... besides, it's a very short sprint from the verandah to my front door...unless the door slams shut in the wind...that does happen quite a bit...brisk sea breeze and all that...I really must get around to burying a spare key in the garden...gotta make purchasing some slippers a priority too...before toe hypothermia sets in...

But, back to being snatched from the safety of my possibly not-so-safe-after-all verandah by a bloodthirsty creature... It would spawn some catchy headlines, "Spindly lass plucked from doorstep by airborne assailant." Or, "Hawk lunches on verandah." How about,  "Pasty looking chick demoted from dinner to leftovers in one fowl swoop..." And one more for good measure, "Rescuers unable to decipher incoherent babble of woman with cold feet."

Incidentally, a character in one of my possibly-never-to-be-published-after-all novels did find himself dangling from the talons of a dragon, so it's not surprising my fantasy world would occasionally bleed into the real(ish) one. (He wasn't on a verandah at the time though, just in case you were wondering.)

But anyway, I don't really think the hawks are gonna get me. Thoughts of such an occurrence don't occur very often... I'm just letting my mind wander...

The main reason why my mind wanders in this sort of direction--other than the obvious fact that I have no control over what it gets up to most of the time--is that I often find myself thinking about the struggle little critters face, every day.

I have been feeding the sparrows on the verandah and they are seriously paranoid. Always looking over their shoulders. They even freaked when I put a millet spray out for them. Not the kind of response I had been hoping for. I get the feeling they thought it was a trap. Some sort of lethal seed sausage. Took them a whole day to come to their senses. I'm pleased to report that the little munchkins have now stripped it bare. Finally.

But then, I guess they have to be vigilant. They live with the constant threat that another bigger, or just stronger critter, will come along and gobble them up. Tis the way the food chain works. Bugs get preyed on by other bugs. Or birds. Birds get preyed on by cats. Cats get preyed on by dogs. Dogs get preyed on by bigger dogs, or dog control officers.

I'm thinking suburbia here, obviously, but step out into the wild, and the number of homicidal assailants coveting ones flesh must skyrocket. Everybody's out to get you. (Let's hope the hawks don't turn my sparrow feeding station into their sparrow feeding station. Eek.)

Imagine if every time you walked down to the supermarket, you ran the risk of being shredded alive by an airborne killing machine. I'm sure that would help a lot of people curb their cravings. And stick to their budgets. Would that expedition to purchase a chocolate bar really be worth the risk? Even if the chocolate was peppermint? (My favourite. Yum...none left sadly...but I shan't be going out to get any now, even though I feel a craving coming on...drat...and no, it's not the fear of hawks that will stop me from venturing feet wouldn't be the only appendages to freeze solid in the Arctic-like night air, and the shops ain't open at 12.42am in this neck of the woods there...)

On a more serious note, obviously many people around the world have their personal safety threatened all of the time by bombs and weapons, and other man-made threats. Thugs included. And depending on where you live, you may be at risk from poisonous spiders and other insects, but I am talking specifically about the food chain.

Here in little ole New Zealand, natural predators of man, the kind that would tear us limb from limb, are few and far between. There are no wild bears, crocodiles or jungle cats in these parts. Haven't spotted any vampires, zombies or werewolves lurking around the bus stop either.

Not that I've actually been looking...too busy daydreaming...and they could so easily sneak up on me when I'm sticky stalking...nothing else gets my attention then...but I'm sure they would've gobbled me up by now while my guard was down if they have a taste for airheads or bus patrons. The bus driver might've got a bit suspicious by now too... What...? No passengers...? Again...? And another large red smear on the footpath...? I'd better alert the authorities...

I have my doubts though that the police in NZ could take on the supernatural. (No offence to any policepersons who may be reading this.) It's just that I don't think our officers are issued with stakes, silver bullets, and whatever implements one would require to stop zombies dead in their tracks, kind of a specialist field really, but you know what they say about curiosity... I'll make some enquiries and get back to you...

But just occurred to me that if our cops did have such weapons at their disposal, they wouldn't tell us, would they...cos then we'd know that the creatures of darkness really do exist and we'd all get super paranoid and they'd have to build graveyards for the redundant buses...and there'd be a national garlic shortage... I wonder if it's an offence for members of the public to carry a stake... I'll make some enquiries and get back to you...

Anyway, in summary, we are probably not on anyone's menu. I've heard rumours about sharks, but, well, if you're gonna go a-paddling in their pool...

We do actually have carnivorous snails in NZ (true story), but I reckon even though I'm unco, I could still out run them. More about those delightful creatures another time...

I think there was some point I was trying to make with this post, but I have no idea what it is. It seems I have derailed myself. Again. If I remember it, and if it is worth remembering, I'll get back to you...

No hawk photos to upload, sadly. They are nowhere near as sedentary as stick insects. Tis another situation where you will have to imagine how splendid they look. Or you can google hawk, there is that.

Let's have a photo of a stick insect instead then, shall we. Just for variety's sake. I was toying with the idea of exhibiting an incredible amount of restraint by not mentioning stick insects once in this post, but then I thought, what would be the point of that? Oh, and I see that I have already mentioned them briefly in the above paragraph anyway. Ha.

This cutie was loitering about on the verandah stairs. I like the way it has its bottom in the air;

I figure my only chance of getting a picture of the hawks is if I happen to be holding my camera at the precise moment that I find myself suspended beneath their formidable undercarriage. Although, realistically, I think my unco tendencies would surface, a fumbling incident would occur, and the camera would end up in the drink before I do. Shame. Would be a post-worthy snapshot, I reckon. Not that I would be in a position to post it, if the sharks were also circling...

Again, not to worry...I'm not worrying...honest. You don't need to fret that I have developed a FOBABABOP disorder--a Fear of Being Abducted By a Bird of Prey, just in case you've never come across that one before.

The OCSOSID diagnosis still stands though, which is why I don't have enough restraint to post only one photo;

Or two, even... No censorship required with this pair--they censored themselves. Hilarious;

This photo required editing, out of respect for bug privacy. The way the female is looking at the person taking the picture does tend to suggest though that a privacy violation has already occurred. Oops, sorry, Mademoiselle Sticky;

I must say...I'm surprised to see them still's pretty cold out...middle of a southern winter, as aforementioned... Not just the hawks that are staunch...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stuck on Stickys

I think I may have an obsessive compulsive spying on stick insects disorder. OCSOSID, for short. I don't believe any intervention by professionals will be required, it's a relatively harmless addiction, imo. The only danger is that other people will think I'm bonkers...but...well...might be a bit late to pretend otherwise...

Anyhow, the reason I suspect I am stuck on stickys is because I was sitting in a hospital waiting room the other day and I found myself scanning the limbs of the nearby pot plants for them. Not that likely that I would spot any in such a sterile environment. Especially since the plants were plastic. Oh dear.

It wouldn't be such a concern if I had stopped searching for them once I realised the greenery was man made, but I confess I took a second look. Possibly a third. Maybe even more than that. Eek.

I was waiting quite a while though, so it's hardly surprising my imaginative mind would search for something more stimulating than the women's gossip magazines on offer. At least, that's what I will continue to tell myself.

Also, a lot of the pretend leaves on the pretend plants had fallen off, which is just plain weird. It confused me a bit. Maybe that was all part of the attempt at authenticity. Make them look half dead like they would be if they were real, cos what plants could survive in a hospital waiting room? It's just a given that no one would remember to water them. Not with water, anyway.

My internal dialogue went something like this;

Man, I hate much longer is this gonna take...why isn't there a clock in here...probably cos they don't want us to know how long they are making us wait...this decor doesn't really do it for me...why are there red stickers on all of the paintings...kinda makes ya look at the sticker, not the dumb is that...
Perhaps they're identification they can keep an inventory of all the paintings that get people steal art from hospitals...if you can call it art...surely the stickers aren't price tags...maybe one of the doctors is painting portraits as a sideline...maybe he's painting one now...that would explain the loooong delay...

Is that or is that not a dollar sign then...can't quite see from here...shall I get up to look...nah...oops, I just stared at that woman again...she's gonna notice I keep looking at her soon...then we will have to exchange awkward smiles... quick, look away, look away...I wonder if there are any stickys on the pot plants...


Only trouble was, I couldn't stop smirking, thinking about what a dork I am. Predictably, a giggle escaped. They have a habit of doing that. Little stirrers. Always trying to get me into trouble.

Another woman a few seats away glanced in my direction. Not an overly friendly glance, I have to say. More of a scornful, "You can find something to laugh about in a hospital waiting room?," kind of look.

I contemplated explaining the reason behind my random outburst, but got the impression it was probably wiser not to. Attempting to alert others to the humorous nature of my internal musings usually just results in a prolonged gigglefest (where I am the only one laughing) littered with poorly structured, often monosyllabic sentences, ie, incoherent babble. It gets messy. The look of social discomfort on other people's faces just makes me laugh harder.

Most bystanders assume--incorrectly--that I must be on drugs. Or completely mad. Given my location, I decided it would be sensible not to encourage such speculation. I don't know where the psych ward is, and I would prefer to keep it that way. The safest option was to loiter in the plastic-plant-free corridor instead.

But of course, a post about stickys with no pickys of the little darlings would not be a very nourishing post at all, now would it;

Not sure why the top one has its foot on the bottom ones head...doesn't look like a malevolent gesture to me though, but I could be a smidgin biased...

The stickys seem to be rather obsessed themselves...with canoodling...I have seen a lot of stickys stuck on other stickys of late...good grief...I had no idea they were so amorous...the frisky fellows...

I know I said in an earlier post that bugs have a right to privacy too...this next photo is, I hope, a reasonable compromise;

Just in case you doubt my obsession status, I actually had a dream the other night with a giant stick insect in it. Way cool. He/she is welcome to frequent my nocturnal escapades anytime. Hopefully I will have a flying dream where I am soaring through the air in formation with winged stick marvellous would that be...can hardly wait...

Of course, google is helping fuel my obsession. I'm curious to see what stick insects in other countries look like. In case you haven't yet indulged, here are a couple of good starting points--gardenguests (You soooo should check out the frog photos on that site too, there's one of a jilted frog scowling at his rival who got the girl. It's a classic.)

Stickys are canoodling across the tasman too--peonyden

PS: Yup. It's official. I'm obsessed. OCSOSID it is. I know how much doctors hate it when patients self-diagnose, but the clinical evidence is overwhelming. I was awoken from my slumber early the other morning by strong winds and rain. Naturally my first thought was,"OMG! I hope the stickys haven't come unstuck!"

Hopefully they have velcro feet so they can cling to the branches when the weather is grim...That might be my next task for google....investigating what the soles of stick insect's tootsies look like. If you find a link before I do, feel free to draw my attention to it.

But wait...don't go anywhere just yet...I have more photos...

These two are still in the "let's get to know each other a bit better" phase, so no censorship is required. But ain't they cute...They actually fell off the flax leaf just after I took this snap, which casts doubt on my velcro theory, but they landed on their feet, so to speak, and have picked up where they left off;

And I can't resist posting another photo of the same pair, cos that's what obsessed people do;

Terribly romantic, isn't it...when two become one...

And don't they just have the coolest legs? 

(Oops, this post seems to have grown legs of its wasn't meant to be this long...honest...reckon I better edit my "about me" to include "seasoned waffler.")

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Walking Stick Waltz

Have I mentioned yet that I really like shadows? They are one of my favourite things. Combine them with bugs, and I am a happy camper. Especially when bugs are dancing with their own

Tis a shame I don't have a video camera so you could see how elegantly this fellow was swaying with his dance partner...He didn't once step on his companion's toes...

I'm not quite sure what the little guy was up to, other than maybe hoping some passing females would stop to admire his dance moves. My advice to him though would be to practice his techniques a bit closer to home. Where there is more foot traffic. Like in a tree. Where the women folk are congregating. I confess I know very little about the visual acuity of stick insects, but I reckon they would struggle to spot him at that distance. Especially since they would need to be able to see around corners. 

While his wooing strategy may have been slightly flawed, he did at least have the smarts to warm-up first. Here he is doing his stretching exercises--star jumps sticky style;

Someone did appreciate his performance though...

On the subject of performing bugs, scroll down to check out this extrovert and the other charming stick impersonators residing in my garden, a.k.a. Stick Insect Metropolis.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bug Bonanza.

Turns out I wasn't exaggerating after all. My garden is brimming with stick insects. Tis a bug fancier's dream come true. All colours and sizes. I've seen way more than twenty in the last few days. And yes, I have more photos. And yes, I'm going to make you look at them.

They're not quite as animated as the extrovert I met the other day, but some of them clearly have more important things on their minds than entertaining the resident human. Like this happy couple, for instance;

Interesting size difference, I have to say...

I confess I'm a little concerned though that some of them may not be using their natural camouflage skills to their best advantage. If I can spot them from my verandah, three metres away, I reckon so can the birds. And most of them are at hedgehog height. Eek. I know hedgys are visually impaired, but they might be able to sniff them out. Best not to think about that, really;

This one is a little more discreet;

This one, not so much;

And this guy just looks hungover;

You'll be pleased to know he has perked up somewhat. Guess he just had a rough night. I assumed at first that he hadn't moved for days, as that appears to be his spot, but then I realised how presumptuous it was of me to think such things. Who knows what kind of wild adventures stick insects have when darkness falls and there are no humans lurking about spying on them. I feel a little guilty, actually. A bit voyeuristic, even...but, having said that, if I had a night vision camera...

Of course, sticky may not have been off colour at all. He could've just been practicing for when the surf's up...

But anyway, a spider declared he wanted in on the photo shoot, so who am I to deny him his five minutes of fame. He was playing footsie with the hungover sticky. Don't know what that was all about, but rest assured, it was amusing, from my perspective, at least;

And a front on view of another sticky (note the second one just below);

As you can see, their friendship is progressing;

Hopefully this young lass will find a companion soon. The odds are in her favour, I reckon;

Is it just me, or do they look a bit like alligators? With longer legs?  And minus the teeth and personality issues? Not that I've met any alligators in the flesh. I'm sure they probably have a gentle they show to those individuals who don't make them salivate.

Finally--for today, at least--just in case you have always wondered what a stick insect's belly button looks like;