Saturday, October 01, 2005

Saturday Walk, with Idiosyncracies

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Some sights encountered on a four-mile jaunt, plus a handful of quirkiness....

I now know to take extra batteries with me when I gallivant with the camera. I also know that I should take sunscreen, too, because one never knows when a walk in the heat of day will expand in scope. I'm not feeling any pain, but I half expect a gaggle of raccoons to rush toward me any moment now, screaming Mommy, mommy!

And thanks to wearing a French-cut tee (a style I almost never wear, preferring crew necks), my pecs are now tie-dyed.

When I next take a walk, I will be careful.

Twyla has tagged me to list five of my idiosyncracies, which lets me off very lightly. I won't even count looking like a raccoon as one of them.

Neither will I count just now taking a picture of Mary cutting into our wrinkled canteloupe. She came into the studio initially wanting me to photograph the mold on the bottom (we do a good job of being idiosyncratic together). Then she turned it over and sliced into the top, exposing perfectly good-looking seeds; and I leapt out of my chair, grabbed the camera again, and whooped, "Brain surgery!" Stay tuned.

*cough* Where was I?

1. Oh yes. Squeamishness. To the point where it's embarrassing. Somehow I can watch well-presented surgery on TV, the kind that looks fascinating because everyone speaks in such dry, soothing tones. I'm terrible with Hollywood blood but I can usually watch it when it's real. And yet I fainted when my mother showed me how to administer her insulin shots -- as she practiced by sticking a needle into an orange. Fortunately I got over that part well enough to give Mary her allergy shots decades later and to help get a lady pregnant. (Her husband was out working late and she needed someone to inject her with a fertility drug in a place she couldn't reach.)

When I got a CT scan to make sure I had migraines and not a brain tumor, I was next in line behind a man in his 80s to whom a nurse was administering intravenous dye. I forget what I was reading, but as she walked him through the procedure ("Oh, that looks like a good vein. Let's try that one...") I started seeing more and more white dots floating before my eyes and felt more and more nauseous. Nobody was touching me. No one was near me. Pretty soon the book was on the floor, my head was between my knees, and I was gulping air. The octogenarian, pulling along his metal stand with its dripping plastic bag, held the door open for me and asked me if I was all right. I had nothing -- no punctures, no pain, no nuthin', and at the time I was not much more than a quarter his age. I smiled at him graciously, ready to die.

2. I eat one food at a time. I do not take a bite of salad and then a bite of broccoli and then a bite of chicken and then go back to the salad. I have the whole bowl of salad, followed by the whole serving of broccoli and then the whole serving of chicken. Fortunately I do not need my plate to be divided into sections with little raised walls. But I have eaten this way since childhood and to interrupt one category of food to eat another just feels wrong.

When eating out with friends I do show flexibility for the "Would you like a taste of mine?" ritual because that's all entrees. I can mix entrees.

3. I break into spontaneous song, usually a parody -- unless I'm singing to the cats because at those times I do not, to my knowledge, employ any human language. I haven't kept track of how often I launch into these, but it's probably at least once a day, and often (not always) it involves bad puns. Mary is equally skilled in this, and a recent parody of hers is the one that immediately comes to mind, where after the discovery of a potential tenth planet she belted out, "Return to Sedna!" (to the tune of Elvis's "Return to Sender"). It was one of those "you hadda be there" things; I howled with laughter. She doesn't sing to the cats, though.

Also, if Mary or I say something that fits the rhythm of "Camptown Races" (e.g., "There's a robin on the lawn," "Have you seen the TV Guide?" "Drop the laundry on the floor," etc.) I will usually deadpan, "doo-dah, doo-dah," afterwards.

4. I call many creatures, including insects, and including insects that scare me, "Sweetie." If they really scare me I give them names. I also talk to trees and the sky. ("Well, aren't you gorgeous today!") And the moon, and stars, and planets. My a cappella scat singing started when I wanted to thank the woods I was hiking in and decided I couldn't give anything material that was appropriate, so I offered up an improvised song. I hugged a house once when I was a kid.

5. Once in a great while I write letters to my future self when I need advice and feel I should keep my own counsel. For a while I wrote them to Elissa 2000; when I became her I started writing to Elissa 2025. (My most recent letter dates from 5/4/03, less than two months after moving here: "Did we/are we doing what we love? Has our plumbing held out? Did we get off the Pill/stay on the Pill, and did we make the right choice? Are you still alive?" And ending, "Help me, luv. Help me keep focused on our purpose. Please guide me. I pray that I am listening.") In 1984 I wrote letters back to my 1977 self, to let her know I was okay....

Tag to anyone who'd like to join in!

Today's selected pictures:

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This looks like the caterpillar here, submitted by someone in South Carolina. The folks at BugGuide.Net found several similar species to that one but no exact match.

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A black widow has set up her web inside one of our outdoor water containers (fed by our rainbarrels), so we fill our watering can carefully. Of the two poisonous spiders said to live in this area, we see widows quite frequently but have not yet spotted a brown recluse.

Male and juvenile widows have white markings and are not poisonous, but the one here is definitely an adult female. Normally they hang in their webs belly-up so that one can see their characteristic red hourglass marking; this one had other ideas. "Despite its reputation," says our Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders, "this spider often attempts to escape rather than bite, unless it is guarding an egg mass."

The egg case, we were told a while back, is not perfectly round but is a white ball with spikes. We see plenty of those so know what to look for. If one appears in this particular water container we'll likely turn to our other reservoirs for a while.

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One of the sights that awed me when I first came here was a group of turkey vultures filling the sky. Mary and I had seen some riding the updrafts when we had climbed to the summit of Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire some years ago, but that had been a one-day affair. Down here the "Florida buzzards" rule the sky in winter. Their six-foot wingspan is almost as large as an eagle's. More and more of them will show up as fall progresses.

This one (and the one up top) were circling around the same retention pond at which we'd heard the extraordinary frog chorus chronicled here.

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This is a common plant around here but I don't know what it is. I haven't found it in my field guides and am still looking.

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Eastern tiger swallowtail is my guess. I was thrilled to photograph this butterfly from across the street in an incidence of pure luck.

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We came upon some shed tire tread that I thought looked interesting enough to shoot.

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In hindsight I realize that I could have done a couple of things to get a clearer picture; my camera warned me repeatedly that I was out of focus. I went ahead anyway -- can always say the power pole was shimmering in the heat.


Blogger twila said...

Heh. I KNEW your idios would be interesting! BTW, I eat one thing at a time, too. As did my Dad, as does my son. It just feels right.

I love the way you talk/sing to nature and animals.

Writing a letter to your future self - wow, I've never heard of doing that. Interesting...

10:18 AM  

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