And on the other hand...

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Week 3 of Batty Observations

For more than three weeks I've been watching Charlotte in her web.  I concluded that it is "Charlotte" because the Wizard observed, "It's probably female...males are tiny, and she's probably eaten her mate by now."
Charlotte, decorating for the season.
The seemingly fragile rigging she inhabits is still well intact.  I knew the silk was strong, but it really does have a tensile strength equal to steel.  When I searched for this info, of course I found all manner of Halloween costume ideas based on spiders and their webs. So in a way, I consider my lanai decorated for the holiday.  If I add a real pumpkin, I can consider it a totally natural decor. All I need is a bat to complete the look.  I wasn't sure there were bats in Hawaii, but indeed there are.  This one looks like a leaf.
Hawaiian Hoary Bat
More than 30 years ago, my son's first Halloween costume request was to "be a bat." It was a cute costume, created with wicker ribs and the black plastic you use in gardens.  (Next year, he wanted to be a flying squirrel. It seemed unimaginative and repetitive, if inspired, and I expected him to grow up to be a glider pilot. Which he didn't.) It was with some delight that I enjoyed a humanoid bat flying around in the upper reaches of the stage at Die Fledermaus, which we went to see a couple Fridays ago.  The Wizard thought it was tacky, but it took me back to a time when helping a small child pretend to be a bat was the greatest joy of my life.

In the meantime, Charlotte can continue to enjoy the view from her place on my balcony.  Gives a whole new meaning to hanging out and enjoying the sunset.

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Moon Fever

At least twice today I have received messages about tonight's new perfectly astronomical announcement on Public Radio about rising and falling and what stars will be visible and the upcoming Orionids meteor shower, but also, courtesy of Deng Ming-dao, more poetically, that "Today is the first day of the ninth lunar month—called the Chrysanthemum Moon—and the beginning of the seventeenth solar term, Cold Dew. The God of the Southern Pole Star (Shouxing), descends to earth for a day. The Double Nine Festival takes place on the ninth day of this month."

I hope he doesn't mind my sharing his commentary that "Tang poet, Bai Juyi (772–846), wrote this poem, "Song of Sunset on the River" for the first three days of this moon. "
The sun sets straight away into the water.
Half the river trembles; half the river turns red.
How we cherish the first three nights of the ninth moon:
the dew like pearls, the moon like a bow.
It seems like I ought to post moon stuff on my Yin blog, but as the new moon is the beginning of a yang increase, moon-wise, I share this here.

Maybe I'll look for that new moon and stars tonight, while sharing the lanai space with my new pet:

I am caught in a web of intrigue by this creature...Charlotte or Charles...who has been a constant presence for some time now, its well-rigged net securely attached like the cables of a suspension bridge to the fairy lights on my lanai.  It is getting bigger, which suggests to me that it is a Charlotte -- and since it is not a cane spider, big guys who live free of nets and like to invade cars and closets, I am more tolerant.  It seems to know its territory.  And it is very sensitive.  I was observing it closely, patterns on its body, stripes on its legs, and I sighed.  It must have been like a gale force wind; the spider ran to the edge of its web.  Sometimes I don't see it when the sun is bright; it must seek shade among my houseplants.  But then it's back every morning, just waiting for what flys into its web.   

If I can figure out the macro settings on my camera, maybe I can get a good closeup.  This has been an exercise in tolerance and overcoming aversion.  I never thought I might miss a spider.  And what a pleasure is a pet that feeds itself, makes no messes, needs no walking, and provides a useful pest-control service.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hanging In There

The harvest moon of a few days ago was quite perfect; I did manage to view it at around 3 a.m. as it sailed like a grand glowing pearl against the luminous brocade of a mackerel sky.  I did not have the presence of mind or patience to photograph it, although in the morning I did capture it, along with the near horizon and the industrious spider that has staked out some serious arachnid acreage on my balcony.  That was one of the reasons I didn't gaze too long in the middle of the night.  Where was this tenant?  I'm not fond of spiders, but I am trying to tolerate the efforts of this guy as he maintains a square yard of web.
Depth of field is hard to control with a point-and-shoot
when you're trying to capture the moon while avoiding the spider in your face.
He has been growing.  I noticed him a couple of weeks ago, just a little speck, but over the course of half a moon, he has increased in size greatly.  I'm not fond of spiders, but as Deng Ming-dao has pointed out, they are the perfect creatures of Tao. 
Mind in the center
Radiates to eight legs,
Creating a supreme web
A spider is a perfect creature of Tao. Its body is an elegant
expression of its mind: It spins beautiful threads, and its legs are
exactly suited to create and walk its web. From its center, a spider
radiates its world out with a spare economy.

A spider's posture in regard to Tao is to set up a pattern. Its
mind determines this pattern. It realizes the flow of Tao and does
nothing to interfere with it. It simply creates its pattern and waits
for Tao to bring it sustenance. That which comes to it, it accepts. That
which does not come to it is not its concern.

Once its web is established, a spider does not think of expanding
unnaturally. It does not make war upon its neighbors, it does not go for
adventures in other countries, it does not try to fly to the moon, it
does not build factories, it does not try to enslave others, it does not
try to be intellectual. It is simply who it is and is content with that.

365 Tao: Daily Meditations
Deng Ming-Dao
ISBN 0-06-250223-9
So I'm trying to tolerate him (or her, who knows).  The last time I actively tried to address my distaste for spiders, I wound up befriending a black widow. But at some point, I think it will be just too much. I am hoping a strong wind will carry him off to the trees or the noisy neighbor's lanai.

A lot of bloggers and FB friends have been posting pictures of spiders lately: tarantulas and dinner-plate sized tree-dwellers of Hong Kong.  This is my contribution to the trend.  Nothing special, but he is interesting to watch; not as sweet as the kolea, but nontheless, nature in action.
Eight-legged tight-rope stalker.
On my morning coummute a couple weeks ago, when I still had a radio, I was attracted to the low hanging Chinese-style misty clouds on the mauka side of the freeway.  I once had an idea that I might try painting traditional Chinese ink style of contemporary scenes.  But you know, I don't think the cars and power poles add much to the scene.