Discover Challenge: Here and now and everywhere

It all began while we were eating the evening meal outside on the terrace. It was a cold meal, so nothing had to be kept warm: just some ham, salad and cheese, nothing fancy. I was sitting at my usual corner place, making it easier for me to leave the table if necessary. Mr. Swiss was next to me and my son opposite.

Nothing special, just a normal evening. It was a pleasant early evening and then it happened. Something caught my eye in the garden. It was actually on the other side of the garden, but the garden is not an estate and small enough to cross in less than a minute. It is often easy to oversee things in the garden. I did find an ants hill once, actually two ant hills, but that was a quick process. Just some boiling water and the hills disappeared as well as part of the lawn. No big tragedy, it has now fully recovered after half a year. The gardener said the next time all I have to do is sprinkle baking powder, it kills them at once. He was right, the boiling water kills the grass as well.

I am diverging. So there we were having a family conversation and I had one eye on the thing that was moving in the garden. Had it been a butterfly I would probably only  been half looking, but butterflies do not fly in the evening, they sleep. I have never seen a butterfly in flight during the evening, even the bees stop buzzing.

I was half way through my meal, actually we all were, and then I had to go. I stood up and left my seat.

“Where are you going”

“There is something interesting going on between the stalks over there.”

“You need your camera.”

“Of course.”

I suppose Mr. Swiss did find it strange that I had had suspended the biggest, heaviest camera with the macro lens around my neck. I approached the flower bed and sunk slightly to my knees. It was then that Mr. Swiss was rather nervous. It can happen if I sink too low, I have problems in standing up again. 70 year old ladies do not bend down in the garden with a DSLR camera around their necks, but my curiosity was aroused.

I had been watching the action for at least 10 minutes and now I wanted to fix it in my records. For me it was a moment in time, but for the subject of my observations, it was a matter of live or die. You cannot be a spider without a web, otherwise how can you make your lunch parcels in the web. Here is the reason for my meal interruption. There was a garden spider constructing his web. I had been observing his movements from my seat in the garden. A photograph had to be taken. I knew I would regret not savouring this moment if I did not.

Afterwards I returned to the table and finished the meal with a feeling of satisfaction. This was yesterday, today he was still hanging in the web and I was sure he wanted another photo taken, but I really did not want to cause any excitement at meal time – again.

Garden spider 14.09 (2)

Discover Challenge: Here and now and everywhere

Daily Prompt: Fear Factor

I have a déjà vue with this prompt somehow.

People are afraid of all kinds of things: spiders, the dark, or being enclosed in small spaces. Tell us about your greatest fear — rational or irrational.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us COURAGE.

St. Andrews Cross Spider

The spider posed for the photo about two months ago. She was quite proud having given birth to her spider sack. She waved and said what about a photo, so I obliged. In the meanwhile mummy spider has gone to the happy spider hunting grounds and left me with her developing brood. Mr. Swiss has been given orders not to brush the sack away. It is poised near the crack between the wall and ceiling above the garden cupboard. It seems that one day I will be confronted with over one hundred motherless spiders and I will have to take the responsibility of guiding them into their brave new world. Luckily the new world is a vast expanse of landscape, so they will spread, go forth and probably again multiply. Perhaps some might make a new home in the cupboard below, but I do not mind. They will most likely eat the smaller livestock that might be creeping and crawling in the darkness of the garden cupboard: everything has a purpose.

I am not the gladiator in this world, ignoring all dangers and risking my life every day to overcome my phobias. Do I have phobias? I do not think I have time for phobias. I just let everyone else suffer, whilst I disregard any dangers and predators that may want to eat me, poison me or make my life unhappy.

Mr. Swiss takes a breath of relief every time I return from a shopping trip or excursion on my own. He is sure I will fall somewhere and break a bone or dislocate an important limb. This has all been there before. I do not really think of these things and carry on regardless, otherwise I would never go anywhere on my own again. I let him do the worrying. I am so convinced that I will return safe and unharmed.

I do not worry about being attacked or even being kidnapped. That only seems to happen to those that are wealthy, young and blessed with good looks. I am not wealthy, am not young and good looks – I leave that for the others to judge, although my younger son once saidI am now at an interesting age. I camouflage myself with grey hair and glasses when I am let out, but to be quite honest I do not have a choice. At least I am a natural type.

I suppose my greatest fear is for my father. He is 98 years old, lives on his own and can no longer walk so well. He just manages a trip to the kitchen to thaw his lunch in the oven. His house has two floors and he can only  climb the stairs to his bedroom and toilet with difficulty. I dread that one day he will fall down the stairs and it will not be noticed. At the moment he is waiting for news that there will be a special apartment ready for him with extra care. This will now probably at the beginning of next year, so if I suddenly disappear for a week or so I will be in England helping him to move. This is a Damocles sword hanging over my head at the moment, as I will have to fly over to London and organise things and do not have a clue how. Luckily I have some family members that will be helping and supporting me.

I am a realist. Things that go bump in the night, hide under beds or make funny noises are more to be explored to get to the root of the trouble and not to shiver and shake under the sheets. Being afraid of the dark does not come into the question. Sometime in the early morning hours I have to make a trip for human relief. The apartment is dark, no lights, and I have to manage it all on my own, being careful not to fall over a possible sleeping cat on the way. No problem, I just feel my way. I do not even bother to open my eyes, not much point when everything is dark. I must admit I have made a wrong turn now and again and found myself on the opposite side of the bedroom, but now always have my faithful and trusty iPhone next to my bed. A quick push on the right button and the electric clock illuminates the bedroom. Oh, the wonders of modern science and a big thank you to Apple.

There is something I hate, find revolting and just yuck. That is maggots. How can an  animal be mother to such disgusting, squirming wriggling ugly children. “Hello mummy” said the maggot to the fly. “Oh what a beautiful child” answers mummy fly and they fly away together. Not quite, mummy fly leaves her offspring to deal with it all on their own, and I would too if I had babies looking like that.

In the meanwhile the egg sack is still hanging outside in the crack between the wall and ceiling. I hope to be present when the hatching sessions takes place with my special close up DSLR camera. Watch this space for the blog “The birth” probably in early Spring.

Daily Prompt: Fear Factor

Fearful Pingbacks

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Look what I found living on the porch

St. Andrews Cross Spider

Actually it was Mr. Swiss that drew my attention to our new neighbour. She decided to make a nest at the angle between the top of the cupboard door and the roof, so I really had to use the close up lens to take her photo. Of course, the next step was to discover her name. It seems she is the female species of the St. Andrews Cross spider, also known as the orb spider I believe.

She is sitting on her egg sack which probably has a couple of hundred babies inside. I read that they all hatch out some time in Autumn and stay nice and comfortable where they are until spring, although I am no expert. Actually I did once take a photo of some hatchlings, so am waiting for the birth. Mama seems quite happy at the moment so we have decided to leave her where she is.

Blogger Creative Challenge 260: Under the ……spider’s web

Spider web in the sun

At last I am finished, now that was a tough job spinning all those threads, hanging in the air. Do they clap, do they praise me, is everyone happy. An unthankful bunch those humans. You would think they would appreciate the craftsmanship, the aesthetic reflection of the sun’s rays on my pièce de resistence. No, they do not. They just shriek and scream, running in all directions: “A spider! Get him”, looking for something to knock me off my balance. I have enough trouble with the rain and wind destroying my silky threads. Just a few drops of rain and I have to do repair work in my houseweb.

There I sit, having a munch on a flying object that happened to turn in the wrong direction in the right place for me and now nicely spun in a lunch parcel, preserved for dinner for one and I have to suffer from such disturbances, enough to give me indigestion.

There is one human that seems to know what she is doing. I always give her a nice spider grin when she gets ready with the camera. She does not always have an easy job. These super DSLR cameras register every quiver and shake. A web is a delicate piece of work. We spiders are the Picassos of the insect world. Unfortunately our artistic vein is not recognised by all, but that is a spider’s life.

So thank you Mrs. Human for the photo. That was a difficult job, balancing on the sun bed to catch me at a right angle. Mrs. Human even spruced me up a bit in her photo programme, chopping out all the unnecessary diversions surrounding my web. She knows what is important in a spider’s life.  I am famous. Thousands of people all over the world, at least the blogging world, have seen me. I might be the star of one of those nice nature films and win an Oscar. The first spider in the world with an Oscar, you all know where the idea of the Spiderman film originated, and no it was not Walt Disney.

And there she sits, Mrs. Human,  giving me an appreciative glance now and again, under the spider’s web. I gave her a wave with four of my legs just to show what a lovable type I am.

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The Nursery Web Spider – a visitor in my garden

Nursery Web Spider with Egg Sack

She appeared one day sitting on her egg sack, and had spun a small nest in a leaf nearbye, her maternity station.

Nursery Web Spider with Egg Sack

She then disappeared for a while, sitting in the maternity ward and awaiting the birth. Of course she did not realise that her steps were being photographed.

Nursery Spider with babies

She did not seem to care what happened around her. It rained, it stormed, but she was there keeping an eye on her babies. They were still in the egg sack and she was waiting for the big day.

Nursery Spider with babies

The day arrived, the egg sack burst, and her babies entered the world. They were all staying together, wondering what would happen next.

Nursery Web Spider babies

Day by day they grow, not so fast and at the moment they take a walk now and again. Mama seems to have disappeared, probably because they now have to grow up on their own. At the moment they are growing fast. I do not know what will happen next, but here is the latest photo. More to come perhaps.

The babies have arrived - Nursery Spider Web

Weekly Writing Challenge: Clicking Through the Pages – Mother spider

Weekly Writing Challenge: Clicking Through the Pages

All photos were taken in my garden. The last photos were from last year, as the eggs have not yet hatched. I spotted the spider with her egg sack this week. I wish her success with her brood this year. Heavy storms are predicted for this evening, so I hope her fragile nest survives.

Three pages in the life of a female Nursery Web Spider

Nursery Web Spider Nest

What do we have here? Looks like a spider’s web. Is someone at home? If I get on my knees and gently lift the leaf I can see two long legs, obviously two of eight, belonging to mama spider. If I lift the leaf I could even take a photo of mama spider sitting on a large round white sack which contains her children. Not just one or two, but hundreds.

Some time ago she was sitting around wondering what happens next. Suddenly a food parcel, containing a nice large fat fly, was pushed over to her. She raised her many eyes, focussed, and saw the stately figure of a male spider. He pushed the food parcel and little closer with one of his many legs, and sent a message to say, “have a bite, that is my bride present and how would it be with us?” Perhaps the male spider just wanted to say “don’t eat me, but eat my nuptial present”.

Now what lady spider could resist such an invitation. The moment she had been waiting for had arrived. Showered with food parcels, she decided to take a chance and what happened afterwards is a private matter between Mr. and Mrs. Spider.

Montgomery and the Spider

The cat stood on its four legs, stretched its body and made a circle in preparation for sleep. First of all he looked around to see that his world was in order. Half way up on the bookshelves between the books History of India and History of Battles he felt secure. He preferred the ancient books, those bound in leather with yellowing pages. They had a good, safe smell, accumulated by the dust of ages gone past. Although he never actually looked inside the books, he knew he was in a safe place. Protected by the wall and the thick volumes surrounding him, with a bird’s eye view of all angles in the room he was satisfied. Before falling into a complete sleep he glanced upwards to the opposite corner between the ceiling and the top books. He was just making sure that the spider was there.

The spider had always lived there since the cat had made its favourite place between the books. The cat did not realise that it was not always the same spider. How many generations of this spider had lived in the top corner of the book shelves, not even the spider knew. There was just always a replacement when the spider’s life came to an end. The cat did not even wonder what the spider ate. There were no flies in this particular room of the book shop, nothing that would keep a spider alive. Of course if the cat had been interested, he might have noticed the spider scattering through a crack in the wall from time to time. That was when she made her way up to the roof to find something to eat.

What did the cat eat? Although the cat would not want to admit it, he did have a human that made sure his needs were attended to. Charles Worthington, the owner of the bookshop, took care of the cat’s life. Every morning and evening he would put a bowl of food on the ground. In the evening the cat would climb down from his perch and roam the book shop on its own, sniffing with its nose between the nooks and crannies. Sometimes he was surprised by smell, when a new delivery of books arrived. A hint of other humans, not those he saw from day to day in the shop, but from other places he did not know.

Charles Worthington would visit book auctions and bought those objects that might be a gem in the seekers’ eye. His shop was something special, clothed in old, solid wooden book shelves and situated in the older part of the town amongst the buildings ,where each one was built differently to the next; a curious shop in a curious corner of the town.

The cat even had a name. Charles’s wife brought the kitten home one day, and they called it Montgomery. No-one really knew why, it might have been a name from the war that was raging at the time. When his wife died Montgomery did not feel so much at home in the living quarters above the shop and he eventually found his favourite shelf in the shop and remained.

One day Montgomery the cat was having a cat snooze on the shelf, with one eye open of course. Nothing particular was happening, but he did sense a sort of tension in the air. As he looked down he saw a human, actually a potential customer, delving amongst the books. Although it was a warm, sunny day he was wearing a gabardine raincoat which seemed at least two sizes too big. Charles Worthington appeared and asked the man in the raincoat if he was searching for something in particular.

“Well, yes and no. I heard that you have some books from the Carrington estate. They were auctioned after Lord Carrington’s death.”

“Yes, I did buy a couple” answered Charles Worthington “you will have to search on the book case over there.”

At that moment the bell rang at the entrance door and Charles excused himself.

“I have another customer, but will leave you to have a look around” he said.

“No problem” was the stranger’s answer.

As soon as Charles left the room the stranger began studying the books from the Carrington estate and suddenly pounced on three of the books, hiding them under his raincoat where he had pouches prepared for the task.

Montgomery was not used to sudden movements and noise in his place of rest, and neither was the spider. The spider decided to have a look, perhaps there was something edible at last in the room and she would not have to go out to find her food. She lowered herself on a strong, silky thread and decided to stop just before the thief’s nose.

It might have been that the book thief did not like spiders. He may have even suffered from arachnophobia. He was startled. It was then that Montgomery decided to explore the disturbance in his sleeping quarters and leaped down from his perch between the history books, pulling two or three with him. Unfortunately these books landed on the thief’s head, knocking him out. Disturbed by the noise Charles Worthington rushed into the room to see what was happening. He was confronted by a stranger lying on the floor, unconscious, his raincoat open showing the books stacked away inside. Montgomery had already taken his position on the stranger’s body, sniffing at him to see what this was for a new smell in his room and there was a glimpse of a retreating spider climbing up his thread back to the safety of the corner between the ceiling and the two walls.

What more is there to explain? The thief was the disowned son of Lord Carrington who knew that his father had some very valuable books in his possession, first editions, and had decided to take what was not rightly his. He had discovered that Charles Worthington had auctioned the books. The attempt to steal them was now thwarted by the spider and Montgomery.

Montgomery received an extra ration of salmon for his meal that evening, but was not really impressed. It was just cat’s curiosity that made him descend from his comfortable, warm perch to see what the spider was doing.

And so life continued in Charles Worthington’s book shop. The wooden bookshelves remained with the old books. Montgomery the cat still slept between the history books and another new generation of the spider arrived.