Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Invasion of the stick bugs

I like bugs - I know I'm odd - but there it is. So, it takes a lot to make me gasp and jump.  I noticed the first giant walking sticks crawling along in the grass, trying to disguise themselves with a nice shade of green.

The next "sticks" I saw were clinging to the side of the house, then the roof of the porch, then noticed the trees and bushes were swarming with amorous couples trying their darnedest to make MORE of the awkward moving critters. What once was a novelty quickly became a nuisance.

One of them even took a ride all the way into town to the hardware store, clinging to the fender-well of my car with it's tiny little pointy feet. It was observed the following day on the trunk of the car by two ladies in a parking log. "Oh my goodness, look at what's on your car! I've never seen a bug that big!!"

The creature had migrated around to the driver's side mirror by the time I got to Walmart and rode there all the way home. We finally dislodged it later in the day, before we left the house again, so it's still somewhere on the property, probably planning it's next trip. Or, maybe she's waiting for the UPS delivery man. He said they ride all over the place on his truck. He said he's finally gotten used to having passengers, though he found it a bit unnerving at first.

The giant walking sticks eat leaves, so they aren't exactly a personal threat, just weird, but combine the influx of stick bugs with the explosion of katydids we've had at the same time and I begin to feel a bit outnumbered. The katydids look like giant leaves when they are green.

In their rusty-red clothes, look a little like a wilted flower. Local folks often call them "leaf bugs". They are chubby compared to the walking sticks, and have long graceful antennae. They make their "song" by rubbing their wings together. I can't testify exactly to the mechanics of the whole procedure, but I can see their wings wiggle as they cling to the roof of the porch and do whatever it is they are doing when they make all that noise. For every stick bug there seem to be at least three katydids, all perched around under the eves of the house and in the trees, "singing" their little hearts out.

Their song is really more of a raspy screech. The sound is noticeable during the day, and deafening at night. Here's a nice little video of the critters so you can enjoy the symphony too. We drove home from the kids' house the other night with the windows down and you could hear them in the woods all the way home. It's about a 7 mile drive, and I can't begin how many katydids it takes to fill up 7 miles of roadside and make that kind of noise. The volume never wavered.

So much for "quiet" in the country, and the cicadas haven't even gotten started yet! I found one cicada on the back porch yesterday, so they could start up any day now. It seems like every year it's a different bug that takes over, so maybe this is the year for "sticks" and "leaves" and we won't hear from the cicadas this year. I hope that's the case - I may go deaf if they all decide to sing at once! Thank heavens the fire-flies are quiet! I wish we had more of them!

Such was our welcome home from the jaunt to California. We stayed away quite awhile longer than we'd planned, and so we're scurrying around to get work done on the porch, yard, etc. before we leave for the summer. It's hard to get moving some days, though. I think we're still a bit melancholy, to use an old fashioned term.

Our beloved Bud, Steve's father, passed away on May 15, at age 84. It was on his and Daphna's 64th wedding anniversary. Steve will be going back for the memorial service on June 2. He just noticed the other day that they've named the first hurricane of the season Bud - fitting! He always did like to stir up a little activity one way or another! He was quite feisty in his younger days, but calmed down considerably in his later years.

Bud with a state of the art camera
One of Bud’s favorite activities consisted of organizing everyone so he could take a photo, though he seldom stopped at one. Bud's legacy includes crates and barrels full of photos, photo albums, and newspaper clippings.

I was often included in these family photo sessions, even long before I married his son. I remember well the confused shuffle as he attempted to organize the group, the painful, quivering cheek muscles, and the cramped knees as we obeyed his command to “smile!”, and then waited…and waited… and waited…for him to snap the photo. We often had to wait for the flash to recharge, or for Bud to replace the flash bulb, or for him to reposition someone, all the while we were saying “enough!” and complaining about how long it was taking. Many years ago I actually had the temerity to make him a T-shirt, with giant sequined letters so all the world would know he was “Flash Worsham” the fastest photographer in the West! He seemed to take it, and the ribbing we gave him every time he said, "just one more,” with his usual sense of humor.

Now, after so many years have passed, we are extremely grateful to have all those photos. He really loved capturing every family moment on film, and all those photos represent memories not only of the events and other family members, but of Bud himself, who taught us all the importance of family and family history.
A friend of Bud's from his newspaper days wrote and really nice piece on him, and Dale, Steve's brother, is putting together some material for the service that I'll link to later if possible.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Goodby to a friend

She came to us as a tiny little ball of black and white fur. Tossed over someone's front yard fence, barely 8 weeks old, she was the only stray brought into the police department that Steve was ever tempted to bring home. Kendra and I had been in a minor car accident the day before and, feeling slightly battered, this tiny little puppy was the perfect cure.

Molly, as we named her grew quickly into a loving dog, protective of her family and a great explorer. Her favorite perch when she was young was a planter wheelbarrow, where she'd relax and survey "her" yard as she watched for invaders.

She got along with pretty much everybody, including the cat Murphy that was her best friend for years. Any cat that didn't run was her friend too, but if they ran, look out! The cattle dog instinct took over and when she was "inspired" she was fast!

Molly never really liked riding in a vehicle, but happily hopped in when a camping trip was at the other end. As soon as she saw us packing the rig she was ready to go.

She attended every Duck training camp too, but was a bit too shy of strangers to make it to the tailgate parties at games.

We logged many miles on back trails, and the only time I ever saw her startled was when an owl swooped out, low and very large, as it crossed the trail in front of us. She slowed down a bit in her later years, but her heart was always ready to go.

Molly has been staying with our daughter and her husband while we're in California, and yesterday she suddenly became quite ill. Kendra took her to the vet yesterday and this morning we got the diagnosis - a fast growing liver tumor. No treatment was really possible, so the tough decision was made to put her to sleep.

We'll miss her so much - she hasn't missed a camping trip in 16 years! Molly has convinced me. .  I truly believe, all dogs go to heaven.... I can't imagine it without them.

More photos in Molly's Album.