Two brown thrashers just walked up the driveway to the yard.

Despite having wings, and being described as a skulking, inconspicuous bird in the literature, they just strolled straight down the driveway, apparently sight-seeing. "Ooh, garden! Ooh, bird-feeder! Look at all that bindweed, tsk."

They were clearly a couple. One of them hopped up into the low branches of a tree, and the other bird looked over and waited, pacing around the driveway, muttering about whether it would kill me to give the house a good power washing, and glancing at the tree until he came scrambling out of it. (Thrashers, in my experience, are much like cats–they fall off things with a great deal of flailing, do a flip, and land neatly on their feet.) 

"Come on, idiot," muttered the first thrasher. "It’s just a tree."

"It was a great tree!" said the second one enthusiastically. "It had LEAVES and BRANCHES and BARK and ooh! ooh! I think I saw a worm!"

"Worms don’t live in trees," said the first one, wondering why she hadn’t gone off with that sexy mockingbird from Siler City when she had the chance.

"…it might have been a tree worm. Maybe."

They kept walking, until they passed out of my line of sight. Whether they will stick around the area, regardless of tree worms or their lack, remains to be seen.

Nature continues apace! (So does work on Book 3, which I’m calling Wurstbreath at the moment, although the title will hopefully be "Dragonbreath: Curse of the Were-Wurst" or something akin to it.)

A spicebush swallowtail cruised around the flowerbed this afternoon, sipping nectar from the scabiosa*. Another one showed up, and they chased one another around the yard, although whether they were fighting or exchanging contact information, I couldn’t tell you. I am pleased that we have spicebush swallowtails–I planted four spicebush shrubs (three of which are still incredibly dinky, mind you) and I’m hoping that eventually they’ll host a crop of caterpillars. (They also have fruit which birds love, but since all of them failed to flower this year, presumably owing to size, or lack thereof, that’ll have to wait a few years.) The homestead verbena is kickin’ butt, the French lavender, which I didn’t really want, but got free in a mail-order purchase, is putting up flowers and generally trying to ingratiate itself. (FINE, Lavender! You can stay–for now–but don’t get uppity!)

On the downside, the accursed bindweed put tendrils around my deciduous holly, which could not be allowed to stand. Out I went, ripping up vast quantities of the stuff and grumbling. Then I spotted wisteria–god, not wisteria!–and IT had to die as well.

I’m still not sure what to do about the discovery that all those flowering shrubs along the driveway are invasive autumn olive. Blargh. I’ll have to destroy them eventually, but some of the big ones may require a saw. It’s going to be a long weekend project, I suspect, and will require coating myself in DEET.

The holly seems undamaged by its brief assault. The male is flowering already. The females aren’t yet, so I’m hoping the male has staying power–I realize that "several weeks" is asking quite a lot of male stamina, but it’s rugged. (The male holly bushes that you get to fertilize the females all have variety names like "Apollo" and "Don Juan" so it’s not like they’re not setting up for it.)

The wild cranesbill that’s growing through the verge and over the gravel is starting to flower. I’m curious to see the flowers, because that’ll let me determine the species–if it’s Carolina cranesbill, or a relative, it can stay. If it’s a European invasive…well…maybe after I get to the autumn olive.

This post took about ten times as long to type as I intended, because Angus is feeling the luuuuuv and decided to sit on my lap and purr, wander about the desk and purr, and generally be loveable and in the way. Booting him from the lap works for about five seconds, and then he returns to go "I LOVE YOUPURRPURRPURR."

*Non-native, but butterflies love it, and it’s pretty and (most importantly!) non-invasive.

Summer Strikes Back

It’s summer.

Theoretically it’s still spring, but it’s suddenly hit the mid-eighties, and it smells like summer, the smell of sun and cut grass rather than rain. The light through the trees is the hot gold light of summer. The blackberries are flowering, the verge is spangled with daisies, it can’t be summer already, but there it is.

Everything is flowering, or growing and thinking about flowering. The Virginia sweetspire has tightly furled flower spikes, the indigo is putting up stalks, the catmint has blue spires of flowers and I can see the green buds starting on the gaillardia. I startled a small brown frog while watering the other day, who was cozying up around the spicebush. Tiger swallowtails and mourning cloaks are flittering around the yard, and the boggy areas hatched a crop of dragonflies, one of which is the size of a small plane and keeps buzzing the studio window.

Two months early, absurdly early, but still…it feels like summer here.

Busy weekend (aren’t they always?)

The new website has been put together, and I’m in the grim stage of uploading art and putting in "Buy now" buttons on everything. (God, I am too prolific.) But it looks like we’ve got everything up and running, and now it’s just up to grunt work on my part and a few random visual tweaks. No immediate ETA on the site going live, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

On Saturday we went to a burlesque show! I’ve never been to one before. It was held at a lesbian bar. I’ve never been to one of those, either. It was cool–very short, and the bar hadn’t been set up for it, so line of sight and lighting was poor. Still, what I could see was cool. Proof again, as my buddy Mur (who was craning her neck next to me) said, that it’s all about attitude rather than physique. One of the best dancers had big hips, small boobs and definite stomach flab, all of which is fairly well counter to our current standard of beauty, and can’t be terribly well disguised in that little clothing–and she was sexy as hell. The crowd went completely nuts. It was awesome.

Also, Mur has a science blue Star Trek corset. I am terribly envious.

All the beasties are doing well. Angus keeps climbing into my lap and purring ecstatically while I try to work. Tank is doing well–Goby Bob may not have found it hospitable, but I’ve somehow found the sweet spot for zoanthid reproduction–the 8-polyp colony I got a month ago is now 16 polyps, and even a frag with a mere two polyps I picked up last Thursday has three buds on it (more of a testament to the fish store than to me, I suspect, but still.)

The rest of the weekend, when not working or burlesque-watching, was spent playing that relic of my childhood, Dungeon Master, which I found a port of, and am determined to FINALLY defeat.

Oh, and painting this.

Phalloi in Flight

Phalloi – non DA link

Kevin is an awesome boyfriend.

By awesome, I mean that this morning, having just woken up, he stood on a stool in my studio, bareass-naked*, with a flashlight, peering into the back chambers of my Nanocube to see if he could spot Goby Bob, which I couldn’t. As neither of us can find Goby Bob, and he’s been MIA for two days, I suspect that he has gone to the great reef in the sky. (He appeared to have a touch of ich, but he was eating voraciously and displayed no signs of ill health, and gobies generally aren’t that susceptible.) Still, he’s a lurker, so all hope is not yet lost. About all I can do, without completely dismantling my rockwork, is keep checking water quality to make sure he’s not decaying somewhere and nuking the tank. However, both Tonga Bob and Crab Bob are designed specifically for this job, and so far, the water quality hasn’t changed a bit.

Nevertheless, you have to appreciate the dedication of the man in pursuit of a missing fish. (While Kevin loves all living things with a broad and indiscriminate love, there’s a difference between that and leaning over with your dangly bits within six inches of a live torch coral. I, uh, may have chosen not to mention the stinging tentacles until AFTER he was off the stool.) 

I suspect that this will make it into Stage 4 of his "Stages of Intimacy" columns, but for now, Stage 3 is live. (He also has to work in the "Checking Your Significant Other’s Urine For Gravel" achievement, which I unlocked last month, rather to my chagrin.) They’re always a fun read.

And now I’m noticing that his spellchecker made absolute hash of "Balinese." Bloody proper nouns…

(All the Stages of Intimacy columns can be found here)

*Both our robes are in the laundry at the moment. You never realize the utility of a bathrobe until it’s dirty…