Thinking about making my own spider silk

Last week I read an article on the Wired blog about an astounding silk tapestry exhibit that has recently opened at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The intricate golden fabric — woven entirely from undyed silk milked from over a million Golden Orb spiders of Madagascar — is a work of art to behold. (Click here to see the museum’s page and a terrific video about the tapestry.)

The article reminded me of the Golden Orb spiders that used to spin their glorious webs around our apartment in Knoxville, TN, and it made me wonder why I hadn’t seen any of these lovelies here in Georgia. So, imagine my glee when friend and neighbor Louise stopped by the house today with news of a spider sighting. “Grab your camera, Cory,” she said. “I think you’re going to want this for your blog!”

She was right.

After the rains — mushrooms!

After last weekend’s deluge of 20 inches of rain — and then a couple more yesterday — we’re finally starting to dry out here. Today was gorgeous — sunny, 70’s and dry —  and perfect for capturing the different mushrooms that have appeared in the back yard. We’ve been here 10 years and I’ve never seen yellow mushrooms sprout in all that time. There must have been some special ingredient in the storms that blew through.

More bugs and butterflies

Yesterday I was standing at my kitchen sink, lost in thought over a print project I’m designing right now, placing my thrice-filled-and-drained coffee cup in the basin, peering up at the gray skies, and down at the drenched grass, when I caught a flash of orange flitting in and around the buddleia bush. I grabbed the camera and dashed out before the skies opened up with a torrent again. I think this captivating creature is a Fritillary. If anyone else knows otherwise, please post in the comments.

I have also uploaded some new Magnolia seed pod images on Flickr. Click here to see my photo stream or click on the Flickr sidebar to the right.

Just for giggles, I’m throwing in a Soldier Bug image, too. I love these guys! This one was out front on my magnolia tree. Its giant seed pods are beginning to burst.

Just for giggles, I'm throwing in a Soldier Bug image, too. I love these guys! This one was out front on my magnolia tree. It's giant seed pods are beginning to burst.

More garden guests

I freely admit my penchant for the critters that show up in the garden. Now, I suppose, I’m reveling in it! Soldier bug and Swallowtail. Both are welcome in my yard any time.

Soldier Bug on Cinnamon Bark Crepe Myrtle.

Soldier Bug on Cinnamon Bark Crepe Myrtle.

Swallowtail on Obedient Plant

Swallowtail on Obedient Plant

Swallowtail on Obedient Plant

Swallowtail on Obedient Plant

Goldfinch garden brunch

I had my Sunday morning coffee on the front porch, new Canon camera (love it!) in hand. With the coneflowers fading, and their seeds ripening, it’s the best time to watch the goldfinches, whose yellow plumes are extraordinary right now. They’re shy and speedy, though. Not at all obliging like my lizard friend. Nonetheless, a pretty portrait:

The lizard king

OK, OK. I know! I’m too enamored with the critters that visit my garden. I need a 12-step program! But, really, how cool is this lizard? He was soooo patient with me as I clicked off 30 or so photos. Maybe I’ve watched too many Geico Gecko commercials, but this little guy almost spoke to me with a British accent. “How ’bout you snap me on the pole, here and here?” “How ’bout here in the Veronica, with me showing you my stuff?”

Rafting Colorado’s Blue River

Slowly but surely I’m uploading the images from my recent Colorado trip. Today’s addition: the rafting pix from our half-day trip down the Blue River. (We also spent a full day on the Arkansas River — running the Narrows and Brown’s Canyon — but the pictures the rafting company offered on those runs weren’t nearly as good as these!) The rivers were running high and fast during our visit due to lots of snow melt and rain and completely full reservoirs. When the reservoirs are full there’s no place for the water to go but into the rivers. More fun for us! I have to say, there’s something about 45 degree (F) water and a slew of Class 3 and 4 rapids that makes one feel fully alive … If you have any plans to raft in the Summit County area, I can highly recommend Kodi Rafting for their excellent service and great guides.

A watery rollercoaster amidst gorgeous scenery.

A watery rollercoaster amidst gorgeous scenery.

A calm start. Here I am with my sisters Ahni and Lisa, our guide Adam, and Evan and Juanita from Perth, Australia.

A calm start. Here I am with my sisters Ahni and Lisa, our guide Adam, and boat mates Evan and Juanita from Perth, Australia.

The water turned white pretty quickly.

The water turned white pretty quickly.

Heading into the churn.

Heading into the churn.

Here we go!

Here we go!

A little bit of screaming on this drop.

A little bit of screaming on this drop.

And ... there we are.

And ... there we are. Lisa wanted to "get drenched rafting" for her 50th. We accomplished it!