….aaaaand more photos.

There was car juggling today, since Kevin’s car was in the shop, so I wound up kicking around Raleigh for a few hours after getting my taxes done so that I could give him a ride home. I went to the Arboretum with my shiny new camera.

Now, let me say off the bat that I KNOW everybody on earth takes a bizillion macro photos of bugs when they first get a really awesome camera, and I am aware that it is cliche, and that mine look pretty much like all the others, because while I know many people who are artists with a camera, I myself am an artist who OWNS a camera. That’s fine. It’s more the delighted amateur naturalist at work than the artist–I don’t get an urge to paint these guys, I get an urge to ID ’em. My tendency is for crisp, in focus, and usually centered. I photograph like somebody taking reference material, not like Ansel Adams.

That said, if you see any of these you’d really dearly love a print of, I can manage 5 x 7 of most of ’em, and 8 x 10’s of a few, so give a yell, and if you’d like to use any of these as reference material for art, feel free, just drop a credit if you copy really closely or anything.

I put up a few on DeviantArt, but rather than overwhelm the gallery there with OMG bugs, I just knuckled under and got a Flickr account at last.

Green Lynx Spider (WARNING: GIANT CLOSEUP OF ARACHNID. DO NOT CLICK IF PHOBIC.)
Bee Closeup (oh god, the details!)
Canna Heart

Red Wombat Photostream (lots more bugs!) 

New Camera

OMG OMG OMG 

It’s so…so…SHINY!

It was too dark to be taking photos, so these are pretty dark, but dude! Dude!

  Look at the detail on these green jellybean tomatoes! I mean, clicky through and LOOK. Dude! And that’s not even the full size of the file! I can see the little hairs, man! THE HAIRS!

Okay. I’m okay. I just haven’t had a good camera in…um…well, ever, actually. Many, MANY thanks to Graydon of Dubious Prospects for patiently laying out all the pros and cons in exhaustive detail and then taking pity of me and effectively saying "Buy this one." 

This is what one third of my garden bed looks like, in the gloom. Or gloaming. I wish I could gloam.

It’s got black-eyed susans, some texas sage, that’s a pink pepperbush (mostly shot) in the background, a little late season dianthus around the base of the birdbath, some french lavender behind that, some chocolate snakeroot and confederate jasmine in the background, and random liatris throughout. That’s a rather battered Water Wiggler in the birdbath to keep the mosquito larvae from taking hold, and it’s slumped to one side in the torrential rain of the last few weeks, but I’m not gonna bother to prop it back up until it dries out a little.

Oh, and it’s a Pentax K2000 SLR digital camera. With, um, lenses. And stuff. And it was more money than I was going to spend, but…well…it’s a business expense, and…uh…god, so SHINY….

Feeling almost hungover today…long day yesterday, and even though I’m not at all sleep deprived, my brain doesn’t believe me. There are tiger swallowtails and hummingbirds all over the garden, but the clouds are closing in and it looks like rain. Probably the increasingly grey light isn’t helping my energy. Also, I’m finally getting my taxes done tomorrow, and there’s a certain associated dread….

Weird doodle
Weird doodle on pastel paper

When I get this third Dragonbreath done, I get to take out my new camera and try and figure out how it works…

I am tired.

It was a very long day. It started very early, because Kevin lost his license yesterday, although not in the way that normal people lose their licenses. Instead, he was a passenger in a car that was in a minor accident,* and when the nice police officer came and ran everybody’s IDs, she dropped his between her seat and the center island in her car and couldn’t get it out again. She was very, very apologetic, and wrote him out a receipt for it, but the long and the short of it was that he was now devoid of ID, and we spent the morning locating the one DMV in North America where you can still get a picture ID while you wait, rather than a piece of paper, because we had kinda hoped to go to a club this weekend, and they weren’t going to take a no-really-I-promise-I-have-an-ID piece of paper at the door.

I can’t help but feel a little responsible for this. I have a friend who got a bizarre form of pneumonia awhile back–something about fungal spores in reptile droppings, very obscure–and she blamed me for it. When I protested that my droppings were (probably) free of reptile-related fungus, she pointed out with ruthless logic that a year prior, she would have simply gotten normal human bronchitis, and it was because of our friendship and the influence of my personal Weirdness Vortex that she had suffered this fascinating ailment. Fair enough. So now I must wonder whether Kevin would, prior to our relationship, have lived a life where the police could drop his ID into an unretreivable crack in the seat, or whether he’s suffering Vortex Effect.

I like to think it’s worth it, but some day, when he’s mauled by a rogue elephant seal at Sea World…well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Musing on this, I drove home from random errands, whereupon my car alarm, which has been a little hair-triggered lately, finally broke completely and proceeded to go off ten times in two hours. The last four times were in the parking lot of the local mechanic, who are awesome people and probably would have worked me in anyway, but let me tell you, they get you on the lift pretty damn quick when a grim-faced woman is retrieving her keys from the desk, stalking outside, deactivating the alarm and returning in silence once every ten minutes.

I would have been happy if they’d just cut a wire somewhere–it’s a ’97 Altima, it’s a great car for ME, but as my buddy Otter says, "When you step on the gas, the tiny snails on treadmills do their very best, but it’s just not enough. And you drive on highways."–and theft is not high on my list of concerns, but they pointed out that the car alarm circuit was undoubtedly closelyinvolved with things like my ignition, as part of that whole preventing-theft thing, and so a very nice mechanic spent quite awhile playing musical circuits with the main electrical relays until he found the combination that left me without a car alarm, but with exciting tidbits like "brakes" and "air conditioning." But now it’s home, and not going off, and all is right with the world.

At least until the elephant seals attack.

ETA: Also, I am reminded that just to put the final fillip on our quest, as we were driving down the road, we saw feral (?) chickens on the side of the road. I stopped. We nearly got out to go rescue them, if they indeed needed rescue, but Kevin needed to get to work sometime today, and I didn’t really want feral chickens loose in the back of the car while we were at the DMV, and anyway, we were near Bynum, and they can be expected to have feral chickens.

They were white leghorns. I still feel a little guilty.

*He was fine, thank god, and I had a few minutes of deep horror when I discovered that the other car had, in fact, hit the passenger side door. Fortunately they were turning from a dead stop and thus damage was limited, but jesus christ. 

I tell ya, Ben never does anything small.

I take him into the vet, who says "Hmm, sounds like ear mites…let’s check…" and does an ear swab. Armed with a goopy swab, she leaves the room, while the vet tech and I converse about how awesome God of War 2 was.

After a few minutes, during which Ben is VERY grumpy–mean people poking his ears! Bastards!–the vet tech goes to see what’s taking so long. It doesn’t take long to confirm ear mites, you wipe the goop on a slide and look at it. As procedures go, it’s pretty straightforward.

Tech vanishes. Time passes. I pet Ben. Ben grumbles.

"Sorry," said the vet, finally returning, "we had to get everybody to come look. I’ve never seen that many mites on a slide! The microscope was practically shaking!"

"Oh god," I said. "That’s horrible! That’s vile! That’s…can I see?"

"Yeah, come look!"

And yup, it was pretty horrible and vile and fascinating. Mites…urgh. "Still," said the tech, in an effort to make me feel better about the fact that these things were packed by the zillions in my beloved cat’s ears…ears that I scratch and cuddle and make stupid noises into…"we’ve got lots of mites too. Eyelash mites…"

"Eyebrow mites…" I agreed, not sure if that was helping.

"Absolutely!"

I returned to Ben. "You!" I said. "You never do anything by halves, do you? You have to get all your teeth out. You don’t just get ear mites, you get a whole…whole…ear-mite…"

I groped for a word. "Civilization," said the vet helpfully.

"Thank you, yes." 

Ben endured a full flush of his ears, including a complicated procedure with a little pinchy steel probe that fitted through the ear-exam device. "If I can just break up some of the crust…god it’s like an iceberg…" muttered the vet, while the tech pinned Ben and he hammered out a furious rhythym on the table with a hind leg. Finally escaping, he began to shake.

We hit the deck. Black crusts flew from his ears, bouncing across the exam table and splattering the walls.

"My forehead!" cried the tech.

"My eye!" cried the vet.

I, unhampered by professional ethics, simply dove under the table.

"I think he’s done for the day," muttered the vet, fishing Ben ear-crust out of her cornea.

So, he’s been flushed out and treated. And now I have goop to treat…eight…bloody…cats, because you have to do everybody in the house ‘cos they’ve all got it.

Pure. Excitement.

Blarrgh. Persistent hangover today, whether from the allergy attack or the Benadryl, I don’t know. It’s not that I’m in any pain, it’s just that there’s a fractional mental echo on everything, as if I’m shouting my thoughts down a short hallway. (I’ve been in states where it was a very loooong hallway, and occasionally off the edge of a canyon–this isn’t that bad.) Still, it’s vaguely aggravating and shoots my decisiveness in the foot completely. Good day to play not terribly complex computer games, bad day to do anything productive.

Hopefully tomorrow will be back to normal. I have to take Ben into the vet, he’s shaking his head a lot and has started acting a little weird at his food, which says "ear infection" to me or possibly a problem with one of his few remaining teeth. (Swear to god, for a cat that’s sixteen pounds of attitude, he has a more delicate constitution…)

Yesterday was a good day. Went to Chapel Hill for breakfast with Carlota, wandered around with Kevin, bought the world’s most hippie belt, then went over to his folks’ place for dinner, hot tub, and general debauchery. Unfortunately, the incessant rain and uber-high humidity of the last week has brought out something that’s affecting my sinuses, so I wound up with a full blown allergy attack by the time we got home (the kind where you’re sneezing violently and discovering later that despite your best efforts at containment, your shirt looks like a Jackson Pollock composition.)

So, once home, I drugged myself insensate with Benadryl, applied Afrin, and settled down with the second half of a documentary on Siberian wildlife, by the end of which I was sliding rapidly into unconsciousness.

I’m a little snorfly this morning, but not bad…we’ll see if I can get through the day or if I’m going to be a friend of Benadryl for the next few days…