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Mole Cricket

I always get mixed reactions when I post pictures of creepy-crawlies.  Some of you are quite squeamish! 🙂   I must admit, I am not particularly brave with critters that have six legs, especially if they’re the jumping, flying, leaping-about kind, but I do think they have as much right to be here as anyone else does, and they are all quite fascinating in their own way.  Creepy, but fascinating.

Take, for example, Mr Mole Cricket.  A fairly ugly son-of-a-gun, let’s face it.  But look at those little moley-mole front legs!  They use them for burrowing, of course, and do so in gardens across Western Australia (but they are found all over the world).  They have a loud, shrill song which many people confuse with the chirping of frogs.  The males even make special burrows to amplify their song, to attract the ladeez.

One of the more unattractive traits that mole crickets posses is that they can (and quite happily do) squirt a stinky brown fluid at potential predators.  If you’ve ever dealt with anal glands of any species (and I have, having been a vet nurse for ten years in my younger days) you want to avoid this happening.  Don’t pick up a mole cricket unless you have to.  And I really don’t know why you would ever HAVE to.

They’re not very jumpy so they don’t tend to leap out or suddenly land on you while you’re minding your own business.  They are, by all accounts, pretty pathetic at jumping.  Which makes other crickets and grasshoppers look scornfully at them and snub them at parties.  These guys are not winning any popularity contests or prizes for athleticism.

They are a reasonably large insect – this one I photographed was about 5-6cm long – and can cause damage to people’s lawns, with their constant burrowing.  They eat roots and leaf matter, and some are also predatory, consuming grubs and worms and other squishy delicacies.  I apologise I don’t know which type this one was…I’m gonna go ahead and say he was a vegetarian.  He was also sitting on a bike path so he may well have become quite squishy himself shortly.  I wasn’t going to move him…y’know, the anal gland thing.

I see lots of different critters on my walks.  Mr Moley is probably not the prettiest of them all, but he deserves a spot in my blog as much as a beautiful swan or dainty duck.

Hope I didn’t freak you out too much 🙂

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Mis-Beehaving

My Mum has a gorgeous garden.  She keeps it looking lovely, but also endeavours to make it as water-saving and bee/bird-friendly as possible.  She has lots of natives combined with more traditional, cottage garden plants.  It’s not easy having a nice garden in WA.  The Summers are so hot and even in the “wetter” months things can dry out. A couple of years ago, Mum got a landscaper in to help her design an eco-friendly (but still beautiful) garden that she could maintain herself and continue to work on.  She’s only a pensioner, my Mum, so it was all done on a strict budget, saving money where possible (the landscaper was brilliant).

What she ended up with is a low-maintenance garden that is pretty all year round and makes the most of every season.  It is also very welcoming to native birds and bees and the odd frog or two.  Mum’s been very keen on attracting the native Blue Banded Bee, a cute little species of bee that lives a solitary life, with the females building their nests in singular burrows, in mud or soft mortar (or you can build them a little house, like THESE).  They don’t create large stores of honey, so they are not suitable for honey production.  BBBs don’t mind having close neighbours, in fact they will often build their nests right next door to another bee, although they still do not behave in a “colony” kind of way.

They are excellent pollinators, using the “buzz” method, which means they grasp the flower and basically give it a good shake, by shivering their flight muscles, or banging their head on the flower (yes, really).  This releases the pollen, which is hidden in tiny capsules.  Many flowers require this type of pollination, so blue banded bees are very necessary to the continuation of several plant species.

While they do have a mild sting, BBBs are not very aggressive.  They move very quickly and can hover, unlike most other bees.  They are a total pain to photograph (ha ha) because they don’t stay still for long, and move at a much faster pace than regular bees, zipping around in a blur that causes the photographer (ie me) to swear a lot and dance around the garden, yelling “Keep still, dammit!”

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If you look VERY closely, you can just see the bee, hovering about, in the centre of the photo.

They are attracted primarily to white or blue flowers (possibly because it is better for camouflage) and are particularly good at pollinating tomatoes, eggplants and kiwifruit apparently.  So much so, there are plans to use them as greenhouse bees for large-scale tomato production.

BBBs are small critters, about 11mm in length, and have bands of iridescent pale blue-almost white on their abdomens.  When they fly, they look like a little flash of blue.
At night, the males cling to  plant stems, like tiny little chickens roosting for the night 🙂

Bees, in general, are so important to the well-being of the planet.  We should look after them and give them happy habitats and clean environments.   I personally love the little critters (probably because I have never been stung!) and enjoy watching them and their behaviour.  I find if you just let them get on with their business, they will stay out of yours.  Blue Banded Bees are really nice to watch and because they are not aggressive, you can get up close and personal with them, plus there is no risk of being attacked by a swarm!

You can find out more info about the Blue Banded Bee HERE

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Finally – a perfect shot!  It took me probably an hour to get this little guy to stay still long enough for me to take his photo.  Look at those amazing antennae and perfect stripes!
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Quote for the Day : Bees

“… the world is really one big bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places: don’t be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you. Still, don’t be an idiot… If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates, while whistling melts a bee’s temper… Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved…”

— Sue Monk Kidd : The Secret Life of Bees

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Kings Park – Everlastings

Kings Park – Everlastings

It is Wildflower Season here in Western Australia and there are some gorgeous blooms popping up everywhere.  On a recent outing to the Botanic Gardens at Kings Park, with our visitor from the UK, we were treated to carpets of glorious Everlasting flowers in every shade of pink, yellow and orange. They are just beautiful, epitomising Spring and all its joyful, sunshiney goodness.  They are such happy flowers, with their papery petals and luscious hues.  Just look at the colours here – a small sample of the beauties on display:

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Pretty princess pink!

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The bees love them too 🙂

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Like a fiery sunset!

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This one reminds me of Coconut Ice…

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More pinks…

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Love this little bee.  Look at him!  So greedy!  Look at all that pollen he’s collected!  He certainly is the bee’s knees! 🙂

We saw so many beautiful flowers and plants on this chilly, but sunny, Spring day.  More pics to follow in upcoming posts.  I really must get some crafting done but I haven’t been in the mood, plus I have barely been spending any time at home anyway.  I had rent inspection this week, so I had to tidy up and get cleaning – after that I don’t want to make a mess ha ha.  It won’t take long until chaos reigns supreme again though, knowing me.  I am hopeless.  It’s why you love me, right?

Hope your day has been bright and sunshiney 🙂

Butterfly (It’s like love, apparently)

Butterfly (It’s like love, apparently)

Happy Monday everyone!  I wouldn’t often say those words because, ugh, Mondays!  Normally a pretty rotten day and not exactly joy-filled.  But today is a public holiday so I’m not at work.  Instead, I am procrastinating and getting nothing done in the house.  Nothing new there, right?  I have yet another rent inspection this week so I am supposed to be sorting stuff out and getting thing tidy, but I’m not.  So far today I have done one load of laundry, put away two items of clothing and watered my plants.  That’s pretty much it.  Sigh.  I have chronic slacker’s syndrome today.

I am also very much behind with regards to posting any blog stuff.  Sorry about that.  No excuses – just been busy and also a bit down in the dumps.  I try not to post when I am crabby or sad or mopey.  It doesn’t make for good writing.  I have also been away for the last few days (more on that later).  But, really, no valid excuses.

I was going to write a post about my weekend trip away but then I got distracted (as is my wont) and took some photos of a lovely little butterfly in my garden.  I’m sure he is some sort of succulent-ravaging beastie, but I think he is cute.  Look at those eyes!  And the jaunty way he holds himself!  I don’t know what kind of butterfly he is – lepidoptery isn’t exactly my forte.  But he is cute and made me smile, so that will have to do.

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I’ve had the song “Love is like a Butterfly”  in my head for the past couple of hours now.  If you don’t know the song (because you’re not old like me), here’s a couple of links to people singing it :

Dolly Parton Check out the outfit! 🙂

Clare Torry Theme song version from the show “Butterflies”

And the lyrics if you’re so inclined to sing along ;

Love is like a butterfly
As soft and gentle as a sigh
The multicoloured moods of love are like it’s satin wings

Love makes your heart feel strange inside
It flutters like soft wings in flight
Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing
I feel it when you’re with me
It happens when you kiss me
That rare and gentle feeling that I feel inside
Your touch is soft and gentle
Your kiss is warm and tender
Whenever I am with you I think of butterflies

Love is like a butterfly
The multicoloured moods of love are like it’s satin wings
Love makes your heart feel strange inside
It flutters like soft wings in flight
Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing

Your laughter brings me sunshine
Everyday is spring time
And I am only happy when you are by my side
How precious is this love we share
How very precious, sweet and rare
Together we belong like daffodils and butterflies

Love is like a butterfly
As soft and gentle as a sigh
The multicolored moods of love are like it’s satin wings
Love makes your heart feel strange inside
It flutters like soft wings in flight
Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing

Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing

So that’s my silly post for today.  I will try and do better next time, I promise 🙂

Have a great week x

My Week in Pictures (July)

My Week in Pictures (July)

How did it get to be Sunday already?  Where did the week go?  Did I sleep through it?  Why am I asking so many questions?

I’ve had a busy week, despite having three days off (not due to illness or anything medical, for once.  Just needed a few days off to prepare my house for rent inspection – which was cancelled! Gah!  I did housework for nothing!!!)  and being quite lazy and un-motivated.  My desk at work had so much stuff piled up on it but the time I came back from my mini-break, that it looked as though I would be staying back every day for the next three years in order to get through it all and catch up.
But I ploughed through it on Friday and am now back to just being regular busy, instead of frenzied busy.

I did go for a couple of walks during my lunch breaks, just to force myself to get off my bottom and get some fresh air.  It is not unusual for me to spend 3 or 4 hours at my desk without getting up at all and that’s pretty bad, not just for my waistline and backside but for my general health and mental state, not to mention my eyes and back.  I had been told there was an op-shop down the road from our work place but had, as yet, not visited it (shame!).  I toddled down there one day last week and, boy-oh-boy, had I been missing out!  This place was huge with lots of lovely things to browse through.  They had a huge shoe collection – check out these “classy” numbers:

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I was good and didn’t buy anything (mostly because I had not taken my purse with me…) but I will return again another day!  Next door was the “Book Bazaar” which was also a dangerous place to visit.  Sooooo many books!  Everything from craft to language books, fiction to gardening…will be back there soon…

On my walks I took the opportunity to take a few snaps of the various pretty flowers, plants and foliage around my work.  As there is lots of bushland there are often wildflowers in bloom, but on this occasion it was mostly weeds and introduced species:

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I think these flowers are African Daisies…(but don’t quote me on that!)…

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These too…

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…A pretty little vignette designed by nature 🙂

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…even weeds can be pretty…(a type of oxalis)…

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…bee butt!  I can’t help myself…if you are a bee and you’re butt is poking out of a flower, watch out!
This little guy would NOT keep still, but eventually he found this Soursop (another type of oxalis) flower enticing enough to be worth lingering on…

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…soursop foliage…

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…even the sky was beautiful on this day (though those clouds brought rain later on…)

The weather this week has been alternating between blue skies and sunshine (though still cold), to freakish winds and thunderstorms.  At any rate, it has been too cold for me and I long for Summer.  I am tired of dressing like I live in the Antarctic.  I feel fat and lumpy, pale, bulky and sad in the cooler months.  I wish there was a giant beanie than would not just cover my head but my entire body in wooly warmth.

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I helped my brother run a stall at a local toy and collector’s fair last week.  My soon-to-be-ex normally gives him a hand but was unable to, due to being on holiday overseas ( will not bitch, I will not bitch) so I said I would be his assistant for the day.  We did pretty well – there wasn’t a big crowd but we made steady sales (my brother sells model kits and figurines).  I had dinner with my brother’s family that night and got to hang out with my little nieces and nephews, including this cutie (whose smiles and happy face is enough to cure any Winter blues I might be experiencing) :

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Yesterday, I bought a couch.  I went out to buy toilet paper, took a bit of a detour and bought a couch.  As you do.  I have been putting it off forever and I finally bit the bullet and ordered one.  No photos as yet as they have to make the couch to order.  I have to wait 4-6 weeks which seems like an age but I have heard that some people wait 3 months, so I won’t complain.  I want my lounge room to be inviting and cosy, as well as slightly quirky and stylish.  My brother and his partner were getting rid of an old mirror and I grabbed it before it got put out onto the verge collection.  I’ve put it up in my lounge room behind my twiggy tree, along with my squirrel ornament and metal crow.  When the tree is lit up with the tiny fairy lights I got at Christmas, and it all reflects off the mirror, it is so pretty and pleasing to the eye.  Well, my eye anyway, and I guess that’s what is important.

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Today I slept in (I’ve been so tired lately – I think it’s just a bit of sadness weighing me down) and then faffed about until mid afternoon when I went out to the movies with my friend K from work.  The day was bright and crisp, with blue skies and a gentle breeze.  The pretty Autumn leaves on all the trees were such gorgeous combinations of colour…

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The movie we saw was the French film, “Belle & Sebastian“.  So lovely.  The scenery in the movie was beautiful and the story itself (though a little bit cutesy and Lassie-ish) was compelling and tear-jerking.  Mind you, all the snow and ice in the movie left me feeling absolutely freezing and it was nice to get into a nice warm car and drive home to my PJs and Ugg boots 🙂

I had some nice news this week – my kidney function has increased to 49%!  I am so happy about that and also grateful and surprised.  Every percent is an absolute gift.  I am still praying I get to 50% but am very content with 49!

Hope you have had a good weekend xxx

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