Monday, June 30, 2008

Argiope aurantia

It's summer - and spider season in Texas!

At this time every year, spiders invade our home and spin tiny little webs all over the place. It really freaked me out the first year, because I found these webs everywhere, appearing overnight - mostly along the floor where the floor meets the wall.

Though these spiders are harmless and just want a little space to fulfill their destinies, and have as much of a right to be in this space as I do, I embark each weekend on a mission to acquire bad karma and suck up large numbers of these little creatures with my vacuum cleaner.

However, I found this gorgeous spider outside our house last week with the most interesting design on her web - like Zorro with a stutter. She is Argiope aurantia or the Writing Spider, and is about 3" long, with pretty black and yellow markings.

I check on her each morning and evening, and marvel at how lovely she is.

This got me thinking ... I would definitely not vacuum up this beautiful spider. Then how come I don't think twice about sucking up with my vacuum cleaner, all her tinier relatives that live inside my home?

Do I discriminate based on size?? Are smaller spiders more expendable?

What is the lower limit on size for me, below which I wouldn't take extra care to not kill the creature??

Can I then honestly fault someone who thinks it's ok to shoot deer or hunt bears? Maybe their lower limit is just higher than my own?

Disturbing ...

Grumpy in the heat

It rained in Austin last night !!! After about a month of extremely hot weather with highs consistently in the high 90s, it was exciting to hear the drumming of raindrops on the roof.

I feel completely out of touch with the outdoors. Usually summer weekends are spent hiking and doing things outdoors. This year we are spending the summer in air-conditioned bubbles, some big (home, gym, work, stores), some small and moving (car), and try to spend as little time as possible outside.

Is this kind of living sustainable? Sensible? Healthy? Is it even "living"?!

The only reason people live in large numbers in these extremely hot and extremely cold places year-round is because of air-conditioning. We pretend this is normal, grow artificial green lawns in the middle of the desert and spend a lot of money, time and emotions trying to keep alive plants and grass that cannot naturally stay alive in these conditions.

For this life-style we consume SO MUCH energy!! Our carbon footprints are off the charts, so recycling etc seem like trivial efforts to "save the environment". We need to MOVE !!

One good thing is, I've been hang-drying my laundry out on a line. It dries in less than an hour! This is a microscopic attempt at putting a dent in the dirty energy producing process called coal mining.

I wish I had the patience to make vadaam - it would be a great way to put this heat to good use.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

One more ...

I'm currently reading Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Very interesting book, about agricultural practices in the US. He follows the "natural history of four meals", from a fast-food meal to a sustainably produced organic meal, and calculates the energy consumed to produce each of them. Am learning a lot ...

Corn seems to be in *everything* we eat. Not only that, I checked the composition of my cats' food today (Science Diet formula, which I thought was a good one). Corn. Lots of corn. Shadow was looking at me then, with his eyes half-closed, trusting that what I feed him is ok. I don't know what it's doing to him though!!

I'm now on the lookout for a cat food formula that's more natural.

Guilt also propelled me to get up early and head out to the farmer's market to buy local, sustainably grown, seasonal organic veggies and fruits. Me being not a morning person at all, this was a big achievement. Resolution is to do this every weekend. Let's see ...

Adding to the static ...

Over the past month I've been at home with nothing pressing to do, so have been checking out blogs of friends and reading some interesting material there. Didn't plan to start my own though, since I didn't think anyone would want to read what I have to say.

But I wanted some place to organize my thoughts and so thought this might just be the right format for that ... time will tell if I will keep this up - nobody's holding their breath, so nothing lost, nothing gained.