Environment (being green)

Please read this post by virtual farmgirl

The kids at our school are getting head injuries because of their blacktop playground. The whole school community volunteers time, funds and energy to get a new play area. This group is especially committed. virtual farmgirl’s post See this adorable video here!  Both of my kids are in this “sun”.  


Makes me ill

I can’t get the gulf out of my mind.  That pelican photo is so horrible words can’t explain.  What can I do, what can I do to help?   I saw this blog today that told me what I can do.  I’m gonna shoot for a couple of these things.  I’m also going to call my salon and let them know.  I know you are losing sleep over this as well.  Do something.  It’ll make us all feel better.  Here are some of their recommendations:

  1. adopt a pelican
  2. write your congressman
  3. donate your hair, pet hair (only head hair)
  4. send a condolance card to families of the workers who died
  5. donate to audobon society
  6. tweet about the national wildlife federation

Death and the Mantises

If finding a praying mantis alive is good luck, I am forever plagued by bad karma.  I was so excited a month ago to finally get the praying mantis egg case from insect lore.  This had been a gift for one of our kids last year as an experiential learning opportunity.  In secret though, this was going to be a good time for me.  Last year, however, when I went to order the case they were all out of them for the season.  I had to wait almost a full year to get my case.  In April we did get the case.  We finally put together their little pagoda and mesh home.  I had to tape the little pagoda inside because it wouldn’t stay together.  Not that the mantis would have minded, but I thought it best to kept he pagoda intact. 

Mesh case Praying Mantis Pagoda

The mantis egg case hung in our mesh container for nearly 4 weeks.  I began to believe that they would never hatch.  This weekend, I didn’t have a chance to really observe them to see how things we progressing.  Sleepy sand eyed on Sunday morning, I noticed that there were hatchlings all over the inside of this mesh container. 

tiny cute hatchlings

I woke the kids up, my daughter was thrilled and son couldn’t have cared less.  I remembered from the instruction booklet that they should be separated pretty soon after hatching to avoid them eating each other.  Not knowing if they had hatched Friday, Saturday or Sunday, I decided, better safe than sorry….I needed to separate them now and set them free.

Lessons learned while releasing praying mantis:

  1. Mantises hold on to the inside of the mesh container.  They do not WANT to come out.  Shaking them with all of your might will get them out, maybe legless and shocked, but on the ground at least.  Once on the ground, the ant population of the world will really appreciate your efforts.  Tribes of ants will gather to carry off mantis body parts.  The mantis head being carted away by the ants is an image I will never quite get out of my head.  (so sorry Manny)

    Ant food

  2. The information sheets say that fruit flies are an ideal food for the hatchlings.  Online information says that the food has to be smaller than the head of the mantis.  Well, either I have extra tiny mantis or Precambrian fruit flies because my fruit flies are 10 times bigger than the head of the mantis.
  3. Flightless fruit flies are available at Petco.  Call before you go and ask if the containers they have actually have LIVE fruit flies or your trip will be a waste of time. 
  4. The cute little pagoda that you taped has become a death trap for 2 mantises that no longer have their legs…thank you very much.
  5. Tiny spiders while food to the grown mantis are actually killers to the hatchlings.
  6. To stop the ant buffet in the backyard, I took my remaining 20 – 30 mantis to the backyard with a bunch of Tupperware containers (holes punched in the lids)  I decided to put in each container, 1 – 2 mantis, 3 fruit flies + fruit so that they could multiply if necessary, and some leaves.  I got the flies and the fruit into the containers just fine.  Again, the struggle was getting the mantis in there.  Finally got them in when a big wind picks up and blows the containers.  When I pick them up the mantis are flattened and stuck to the fruit. 
  7. Put them away for the night and fill the whole thing up with fruit flies and when you wake in the morning it will be a carpet of tiny dead mantis on the floor stuck to the goo of the banana and the carcasses of fruit flies that didn’t make it.
  8. Don’t get excited that you may have saved 3 because when you wake in the morning, the three will have become 1. 

 I am resigned that this experiment was a failure.  I secretly pray that some of the 100 or so that I let go of actually lived, there is always a chance I guess.  I plan to write to insect lore to inform them of my grim reaper status and ask for forgiveness and advice for next year.  I need to redeem myself.  I really wanted a mantis.  Can you believe Sears sells egg cases?

Tip and Paddle

My last post triggered a trip down memory lane to earlier athletic endeavors.  The summer before my sophomore year of high school I talked my girlfriend N into signing up for a boundary water canoe trip through our church camp outside of Ely, Minnesota.  The humor in this is that no matter what N and I did together while growing up, we ALWAYS got into trouble.   My mother adored her, but would cringe at the thought of us together because we lost all sense of sound decision-making.  Memories of this have faded over the years, but here are a few: 

  • I believe we canoed over 70 miles that trip.  
  • We drank, swam and bathed from the same water. 
  • N and I often went together to the pine box so that we could sneak cigarettes. 
  • All of the food was dehydrated and it tasted like it was dehydrated. 
  • A camper brought a bottle of Freon (good GOD what was he thinking…there goes the ozone) so that we could have ice in our drinks a couple of times during the trip. 
  • We took communion with pita bread and grape Kool Aid. 
  • We had to carry these gargantuan backpacks stuffed with all of our crap, they had to fit in the canoes. 
  • The one time N and I set up our own tent, it rained that night and we woke up in a puddle, (cigarettes drenched)
  • Not one fellow camper wanted to get in the canoe with me, cause, I tended to tip it over.  (cigarettes drenched)
  • On an especially windy day, I remember shouting to the world while slapping the lake with my paddle “Lake Agnes is a Bitch”  The fellow Christain campers and counselors chuckled despite the profanity!   Here is a topo map of the dear Lake Agnes in case you ever want to experience her windy wavy freezing hell. 

Here is a topographic map of the area that includes Lake Agnes.

I recently looked at the Indiana United Methodist Church camps, looks like you can still register to go back up to the area.

Mantis and the Butterfly lessons

I was looking forward through my calendar when I saw a February entry that said “order preying mantis”.  I chuckled because I bought my daughter a preying mantis habitat to hatch eggs and watch them grow.    By the time I ordered the habitat, the eggs weren’t available.  I have a coupon to order them later this month. 

There are all sorts of rules about when to order, how many to keep in the cage at a time, there is some rule about the number of mantis that allowed in the cage at a time.  I’ll study a little more before we reach the date. 

Last spring I ordered caterpillars to raise and release as butterflies.   The kids loved the experience and were thrilled when they saw how much the worms grew each day.  When they turned to chrysalis it was so cool and then to actually watch the butterflies hatch was wonderful.  We decided to make a big deal about releasing them and do it on my birthday.  The weather was on the warm side and it seemed the perfect day to let our new winged friends go.  My kids and some other neighborhood children watched as we let the first of them go.  Up, Up, Up, she flew.  We watched as she made her ascent.  All of a sudden from the park across the street came a red breasted robin who chased and chomped that butterfly in one bite.  The shrieks from the children and adults were heard through the entire neighborhood.  Releasing the rest of the butterflies was more of a fearful act after that.  To this day when my daughter sees a robin, she points him out and says, “Mommy, that bwird over dere, he ate my butterfwy.”

Hmmm, I wonder what we’ll see the mantises eat?

Ever the environmentalist, the birds thank me

On my way to work yesterday I got to the top of the stairs from the el blue line.  As I was walking down the street I saw this little bitty bird hopping along.  I don’t usually stop for birds, but I rarely see infant birds on the street downtown.  This one, while not actually cute, looked so out of place and scared.  I watched it as many people passed us by.  Each time he tried to hop into the street, I would shoo him back.  I had a dilema, I couldn’t leave the bird to hop into rush hour traffic, but this looked like a rare bird.  Like maybe a falcon baby.  There are falcon nests in that area of the loop.  Peplexed I was thrilled when a young woman stopped and remarked on my rare baby bird find.  “Wow, you don’t see that every day” she said.  “I know, I know, but I don’t know what to do!”  I expained that there are many people at my work who would know exactly what to do with a baby falcon like this.  If she would wait on the sidewalk and make sure the baby didn’t go into the road, I would run to work, get a box and figure out what to do.  She agreed, halfheartedly and asked me to hurry.  So this big breasted baby bird saver environmental freak ran at top speed to work.  I took the elevator to the 16th floor and frantically began the search for a fellow bird saver.  I found a box and found a guy who knew the phone number of a bird rescue place.  I asked him to call it while I returned to the scene.  I rushed through the lobby, out the doors and around the corner only to find a new man, a hippy dude dressed a bit like Steve Erwin used to dress.  He is talking on the cell phone as I proudly display my cardboard box for the falcon baby.  After a few minutes on the phone, he gets off and with a tiny smirk says, “the baby pigeon thanks you.”

The pigeon population of America increases again…thanks to me.

For those of you curious, a baby pigeon looks nothing like a grown pigeon, though I am told nothing like a baby hawk either.  Here is a photo of a baby pigeon.