Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Today it’s about animals of one sort or another.

I had another middle of the night wake-up early Monday AM when I heard a series of deep roars from outside. The moment the first set began, all the dogs in the immediate area broke the silence and began to bark in alarm. All in all, there were three sets of these deep, rugged, upward roars.

In the morning, Fritz and I traded notes; it didn’t sound like a coyote in any way, so that was off the table. Fritz suggested a moose giving mating calls, this being close to the time when moose in our area begin to mate, and we’ve identified moose tracks on the property in the past.

The other, perhaps stronger possibility is a bear They’re everywhere now in the southern part of the state. Even if we’ve never actually seen one ourselves, friends and friends of friends have had them on their properties not very far from here. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a moonlit night so I wasn’t able to go to the window and see the source of the sound, but it was close and it was loud. Interestingly, Starr takes these deep night animal sounds in her stride.


On a slightly gentler animal topic, we’ve noticed for a couple of years a fairly large, hovering creature working Fritz’s butterfly bush. I say creature because neither of us, and nobody who saw it with us, had any idea even what species it was.

It looked and flew for all the world like a humming bird and was exactly the right size. But it didn’t dart away the way humming birds do when you approach, and there were these ANTENNAE. Humming birds just don’t have insect-like antennae. So was this pretty and benign little nectar gatherer some kind of mutant humming bird? And what about an opinion from Fritz’s office manager that it was a kind of moth? The deadlock was broken this last weekend by one of the guys who came up for the monthly Sweat Lodge gathering—it’s both, at least as far as it’s name is concerned. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce:

The Humming Bird Moth

HBM’s are part of a moth subset known as clear wing moths because their wings are transparent like a bee’s. They hover and sip nectar from flowers just like a humming bird, but they’re definitely insects. They’re also not spooked by human activity in their general area, allowing for close observation and good in-flight photo opportunities.

Birds mate and stay together for some period of time, of course; I have no idea whether moths do, or whether this type does, but two of them do show up together a lot, and we always look forward to seeing them. Doug Taron, can you fill me in here?


After neglecting the guest room which Starr took over (causing good friends of mine to dub the guest room The Starr Chamber) for more pressing jobs, I went in last week to get it ready for a houseguest who will be here next weekend.

The neatly folded acrylic blanket at the foot of the bed was covered with cat hair, so it had to be laundered. I made up the bed, put a lightweight India print spread on it, took the stacked pillows, cleaning the cat hair off the one on top, and arranged them at the head of the bed. I had, of course, completely upset the lovely soft and warm little world Starr had for herself there.

Her response wasn't long in coming. Denied her upstairs lair, she moved onto one surface in which she’d never shown much previous interest—the seat of my chair at the kitchen table. And, she occupied it for most of the rest of that day. Not, mind you, Fritz’s chair that actually has a softer, nicer corduroy-covered pad, but my chair with the thin, worn-out pad (I will be making new pads, for the whole set of chairs, in the near future).

I pointed this out to Fritz but he did as he always does at moments like this and says I’m just projecting. Fritz is more of a dog person; he loves those sweet, enthusiastic, lovable but dim animals and knows little of the intelligent and infinitely devious ways of the cat. But I knew. I knew I was being put in my place--which was away from my place, just as I had put her out of HER place. I do so love cats.

We finaqlly made amends--and I got my chair back--when I took a beat up old pillow that really should be tossed out and put it where the blanket used to be:


Installation of the photovoltaic panel system has begun. Here’s the frame in its early construction phase—it was finished yesterday. We thought the guys would be back today to finish the job but nobody showed up. Since the panels are extremely heavy, we assume they have to wait until they get a complete crew, not just the single man who’s done all the work until now.


The Wit and Wisdom of George W. Bush

We cannot let terrorists hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile.

Are you 100% positive sure that it wasn't Fritz and his mating call?
The Starr Chamber

I love it! Not much of a cat person, particularly with my cat allergies, but that's a great name for the room! :)
moose or bear sound exciting, but i would choose the bear.
Interesting about the hummingbird moth. Up here they call the hummingbird a "oiseau-mouche" or bird-fly.

Still waiting for that sweat invite....
I'm with Lewis on this one. Regardless, you should learn to make the sound yourself before your next sweat lodge gathering.
Nice hummingbird moth photos. Most insects do not form any sort of pair bond. In many cases, it's mate, lay eggs and die fairly soon thereafter. Males often perish very shortly after mating. On the other hand, mating itself is often much more prolonged than it is for other organisms such as ourselves. Many butterflies and moths will remain coupled for many hours, sometimes even a full day. Now that's endurance.
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