Saturday, February 25, 2017

Another Spidery Tale

Yesterday's spider adventure reminded me of a childhood spider 'friend'.

My parents had a similar, if not even more relaxed, attitude to spiders to me and so, when a huntsman spider of about the same size as my visitor yesterday moved in, they were happy for it to stay. It turned out to be a rather curious little creature and we often found it where we were presumably watching us. It became so much a part of the household that we named it Oscar.

For more than a year Oscar lived happily with us. He had a few narrow escapes from enthusiastic kitties who thought he should be killed or chased out of the house and once he misjudged a leap and landed on the hot stove top where Mum was cooking. She quickly scooped him up and put him in the sink where his feet could cool down and he recovered fully after a few days.

All was fine until the day my grandmother opened the toilet door to discover hundreds of tiny grey spiders. They were all over the toilet, on the walls, even on the ceiling. Oscar, it turned out, was a girl. She was unceremoniously collected in a dustpan with as many of her babies as could be swept up and dumped outside and then the room was sprayed to mop up any remaining critters.

For some reason Mum and Dad never welcomed a huntsman spider back into the house. I can't think why.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Odd Sort of Day

It started off with my noticing "something" black on the wall up near the ceiling. Got the ladder to have a closer look and discovered it was a spider with its legs tucked in and that meant it was about the size of a 50 cent piece. Eek!

Now I don't mind sharing my house with the odd spider - as long as it's not poisonous I hasten to add - because they help deal with any stray insects that get inside since we don't like using insecticides unless it's absolutely unavoidable. But there are limits and this was one of those times. I had to act.

What to do? My usual go to is to take an envelope, manoeuvre whatever beastie I'm trying to remove into it, hold the envelope tightly closed and take it outside. This works for all sorts of little critters - spiders, little skinks and geckos for example - as long as I'm fairly sure I'll be able to contain them because I really don't fancy having any of them run up my arm. But this spider obviously a) wouldn't fit in an envelope and b) probably wouldn't cooperate in going into one even if I tried to make it go in. I was going to need help.

So I called Pisces to be ready to open the door, armed myself with a dust pan and brush and headed back up the ladder. Turns out the spider wasn't all that keen on being held down by a brush - can't understand why. Anyway it crawled around and hid on the back of the pan where it stayed while I took it outside and found it a nice place to live.

Then a little while later I went out to get the mail and over the road there were four police officers wandering around the front yard opposite, three in uniform and the other apparently a detective as I heard them say something about 'he must have got in here because footprints'. No idea what it was all about but I'm certainly making sure every security measure we have is in place.

And the final thing - my cat, who has never done this before, nipped me and I have absolutely no idea why. The good thing is he only left a small scratch and apparently I'm forgiven for whatever he thinks I did because he's back in his usual place on the end of my bed. And, no, he's not forgiven by me yet.


Monday, February 20, 2017

2016 Aurealis Awards Shortlist.

Yes, it's out and it's lovely to see so many of the books I enjoyed in 2016 are shortlisted.

The complete list is here and the award winners will be announced during Swancon in Perth at Easter.

And now I'm off to get hold of some of the books I missed last year.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


There's a naked lady dancing in my garden. See.

It's a belladonna lily (Amaryllis belladonna if you want to be formal) and it gets the name of 'naked lady' from the way the flower spike seems to appear out of bare ground. Actually it grows from a bulb which doesn't put out leaves until it has flowered.

When I said it was dancing I wasn't joking. Getting the photo was quite a challenge because we've been having strong wind gusts that meant the first umpteen photos were blurred. Finally, though, I got this one which is just about clear. I love the way the centre of the blossom positively glows in the sunlight.

These lilies are often called Easter lilies here because they used to appear at about then. Now that our weather has changed so much - we've just had the second wettest day on record (over a hundred mms in twenty four hours) and the coldest February day on record (a maximum of 17.4 C) at a time of the year when we'd usually be expecting dry and hot (mid thirties) -  the poor lilies are totally confused and so we have them flowering early in February.

Lovely as they are, they do have a dark secret. The sap and bulb are both toxic so if you have young children visiting your garden you need to be watchful to make sure they don't chew on it or come in contact with the sap.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

A Little Something From My Vegetable Garden

Before I got sick - and it''s now more than two and a half months since I got the original infection - I had planted the summer vegetable garden. In fact I was already picking the first of the vegetables before I ended up in hospital. This has meant that, although I haven't been able to do much to keep up repeat plantings, we have been able to harvest regularly getting most of our vegetables from the garden. At present we are harvesting tomatoes, zucchini, burpless and Lebanese cucumbers, silver beet, rainbow chard, nasturtiums, capsicums, beetroot and spring onions as well as onion chives, garlic chives, flat leaved and Afro parsley and several kinds of basil.

This morning I went out to water and while I was there I took a few photos. Here they are.

This pretty little thing is the flower of the snake bean. These are the most successful beans I grow and they are prolific.

These lovely golden blossoms are zucchini
flowers. Spectacular, aren't they - and 
they're good to eat, too

And finally here is some stunning purple basil, which also tastes as good as it looks.