Monday, May 19, 2014

Moth, Bean Teepee, and Pizza in a Pan

I walked out of the office last week and found this polyphemus moth in the parking lot, laying right behind my car.  Why the poor thing chose the dirty parking lot in the middle of town as a resting place, I can't imagine, but I appreciate that it allowed me to have a few moments of bug photography at the end of a long office day.  

These photos don't really demonstrate how big this moth was.  The wingspan was at least six inches, and the body was quite heavy.  I read that the big fuzzy antenna are used by males to detect the pheromones of unmated females, their mouth parts are not functioning so they can't eat, and that they only live for a week as moths.  This moth had huge antenna, so my guess is that this was a male.  He was still alive and uninjured but he didn't seem to have the will to fly, which makes me think his allotted one week of mating was at it's end, and he had exhausted himself and was giving it up, right there in the parking lot.  Of course, if human males only had one week to live and mate, I would probably find them passed out in the parking lot after exhausting themselves at the downtown bars all the time, so maybe it wasn't so strange to find this male there after all!  

After our brief photo shoot I placed him in the bush honeysuckle hedge so at least he could die with a background of green, even if it was an invasive exotic species instead of a majestic oak, or some other forest plant.   I probably inadvertently fed him to the starlings, feral cats, or house finches, so I hope he wasn't just taking a nap when I disturbed him.

I'm surprised that I didn't find more insects and wildlife in the massive tangle of green that is the wisteria on our back porch.  It was so overgrown that I would not have been surprised expected to find a variety of beasties living in it.  Brandon and I managed to chop, saw, hack, and snip it into a temporary submission this weekend.  I was waiting to prune it until after it bloomed, but I think our late cold spell must have ruined it's buds early, because I only saw a few blooms.    

Not only did we tame the wild wisteria, we also got serious about cutting back a silver maple tree on the back fence that likes to drop leaves in my swimming pool.  That big patch of sky in the photo above wasn't there before Brandon wielded the chainsaw and reclaimed it.  We cut the big limb behind his head in the photo too, which really opens things up and improves airflow.  The light has returned, hooray!!  This maple tree is one that seeded itself at the base of the fence about five or six years ago, which I allowed to grow so it could provide a privacy screen.  It's amazing how fast a silver maple tree can grow!  From seed to massive chore in just a few years.  I did learn that if Brandon cuts a large limb, and I am supposed to be directing it's fall with a rope and it starts to fall toward him before he realizes, I shouldn't just squeal "Oo! oo! oo!", because he doesn't understand that I mean RUN!!  Now I know to be more explicit.    

Doing dangerous things with the chainsaw was the fun part of this chore. The hard part was figuring out what to do with all the debris we generated.  After lopping off all the small limbs, we were left with several very big sticks and a massive pile of leaves and twigs.  The sticks were inspiration to to build a teepee for a green bean trellis.  With a scrap of twine, Brandon created a lovely teepee in the corner of the garden in the place of last summers tangle of morning glory vines.  I hope to prevent the morning glory take over this summer, but if they defeat me once again, at least they will have something fun to climb.   

Underneath the teepee, I spread the small limbs, twigs, and leaves, with the hope that they will act as mulch, and smother the weeds.  I think I can poke bean seeds into the soil through the leaves and twigs, and the beans will climb out and up the teepee.    

To fuel our tree trimming and teepee building muscles, we baked pizza's for dinner.  Perfect pizza's.  I'm not trying to brag (at least not more than usual) but if you are like me and have tried every kind of pan to bake your pizza's in, like flimsy cookie sheets, special "airbake" pizza pans that let crust crumbles fall all over the counter, and even heavy pizza stones which are impossible to store conveniently or wash without straining your wrists, you may like to know that our new favorite way to bake a pizza is in a cast iron skillet.  Our skillets get a lot of use these days, so they are well seasoned, but pizza's baked in these skillets turn out perfect every time (ten minutes at 500 degrees).  And because they are personal pan sized, we don't even have to agree about the toppings!  So long, pizza stone.  

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