I am a member of species Phidippus audax (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phidippus_audax), also known as the bold jumping spider because I can leap a distance of up to 50 times my own body length!

Favorite pastimes include:

  • twirling around in circles in an eerily calculating, ratcheting fashion;
  • actively hunting prey during the day, since I do not rely on webs to collect food for myself; and
  • startling unwitting building residents who didn’t expect to find me at eye-level on the glass exterior door in midday!
    I love to hang out high up on flat vertical surfaces, since I can easily spot my next meal that way. I have stereoscopic (depth-perceiving) vision, just like you! Which means that we can both identify when we’re suddenly mere inches from each others’ faces!


Taco Tuesday, interrupted.

It’s rare for me to time a taco purchase with Taco Tuesday, but I did so today on the way home, and “set the table” on my front porch for dinner. Opened my styro takeout container and started inhaling tacos like I do, ladylike, nobody look at me, don’t make eye contact, and halfway into the last taco, something started buzzing around me. I ignored it for a moment, thinking it was a fly, until I saw it pause in flight — yellow jacket.

I have a severe venom allergy that likely includes yellow jackets, so I calmly rose from my chair as it whirred around me, closed the styro container to protect my treasured remaining half-taco, and stepped out of the immediate vicinity to give the bug time to finish his investigation and clear out.

Oh, but he was investigating my dinner. He made a beeline (yes) to the closed container, DIRECTLY TO THE LATCH, and shoved his volatile butt through the tiny, flimsy gap in the styro closing mechanism. So now, I had a container of forlorn taco + driven yellow jacket.

I pondered a moment, and weighed my options. Give up remaining half-taco. Or, OR — hear me out — put some big-girl panties on and gingerly unlatch the container and run like hell, then maybe eat half-taco? I mean, I was still hungry for tacos, so I opted for the latter. I’m not proud.

Except that when I leaned in to unlatch the thing, jiffy-pop noises started coming from the styro. Dude got mad. Maybe he doesn’t like carnitas? who does that? but welp, I wasn’t about to unleash him. So, um, I left the container there, figuring it would be even lamer to try to get assistance to rescue my remaining half-eaten taco so that I could just finish eating it in the presence of whomever i recruited to help rescue it, because what am I going to do, wipe the half-eaten taco off on my jeans and offer sharezies for a helper’s efforts in fending off an angry wasp?

And then I went to yoga class. The container was still popping then, 30 min later.

And it’s still out there, on the table.

He stopped popping by the time I got home, but I could still hear him motoring around. I don’t exactly have a special place in my heart for wasps out of all the stinging insects, but he just wanted taco tuesday, and I can’t really fault him there, I mean, look at me, weighing my life against eating those two bites (okay, who am I kidding, that ONE remaining bite) of taco. I guess corn tortillas have sugar, no? he has all the taco he wants until morning, and a pillowy pillow of carnitas to snooze on. I figure I’ll open/toss the container in the morning, leading up to trash day, or in the meantime, if a bear happens by my front porch in the dark of night, hey, free taco, and a wasp means nothing to a 250lb animal.

So anyway, what I’m saying is, if you’re my neighbor and you’re reading this, now you know what that styro container on my front porch is, and I mean, if you’re really hungry, you’re welcome to my half-eaten taco. but you’ve been warned.

It’s So Awkward When

you’re too tall to fit in the photo, so you have to yank your face down


but it’s a lovely day for tea, ah-ah-ah!



oh, and here’s what this looks like on a night-vision wildlife camera.  not that I ran through my neighbor’s yard at midnight or anything




p.s.:  i made sure to check the live feed before venturing out, to make sure i wouldn’t be sharing the stage with non-extinct species

p.p.s.:  turns out the costume creates a good amount of drag when trying to run full-tilt down the street, reached warp speed and almost got knocked backward.  would have been a soft-ish landing, tho’.

The Sidewalk Squirrel, One Year Later.

A year ago tomorrow,
my dear friend called to tell me that she had found what looked like a baby squirrel curled up in the middle of the sidewalk while walking her dog, who wanted to eat the little thing.  She told me that she was terrified of rodents, but didn’t want it to die, and said it didn’t look like it had much time.

I drove over to where she reported seeing the baby, and lo, in the smack middle of a concrete path with absolutely no cover to speak of, there lay a tiny lump of fur.

No sign or sound of mama or other babies nearby, I removed my sweater and gently scooped the baby up, turning him and running my fingers over him to check for injuries.  He was quiet, and cold, but breathing.

A postal-service truck pulled up to the curb near me as I held the little one, and a mailman hopped out.  There were two babies here yesterday, he said, watching.  One looked like he was able to climb better, and disappeared into this planter here.  I never saw a mother.

He wished me luck as he went on his way.

The best, wisest decision would have been to turn the baby over to a certified rehabber.
But I selfishly envisioned him living a grand life in my immediate neighborhood a mile away from where he was found, starting in the magnificent ficus and pepper tree “kingdom” in my apartment’s sideyard…
and backed with the experience and advice of my friend and coworker who has rehabbed squirrel babies, and the advice of GTers, too!, I instead took him in and named him Philip, after Philip “Pip” Pirrip, the protagonist of Great Expectations, who was a gentleman, and an orphan, too.

I got very lucky in how it turned out.



My neighbor kindly took over formula feedings when I had to be away, and once Phil started to wean, we both regularly went out and gathered local fruit, seeds, grasses, branches, and nuts for him to sample in addition to rodent block and veggies.  I started to take Phil outside in a smaller cage for hours at a time to (re-)familiarize him with outside sights, sounds and scents, and then, we camped out overnight.

Phil was with me for a month.  On the morning of April 6, I took his cage outside, opened it, picked Phil up, and launched him at the nearby pepper tree.

It has been the greatest gift that he has not only survived, and thrived, but has still visited from time to time.  He maintains wild wariness around everyone aside from an occasional close-range visit with me.

This is Phil today.  Being Philip.

I have uploaded many of my Phil videos to a public playlist on YouTube, organized chronologically starting on the night he came home:

After the rain.

A severe storm rolled through yesterday, with residual rain today.  The birds have been nonstop since 6:00 this morning; everybody’s excited to get back out there.

Especiallly the hummingbirds.






Sometimes, the girls (Anna’s and Allen’s) are good about sharing:


And sometimes, they aren’t:


And the studio setup:


Almost Like Winter

So, California’s finally getting rain.  A little.



And tonight, it’s been cold enough to hail.  A lot.



I made a hailman!  Well, more of a slushman by the time I got my mitts on some hail.  I had to form his eyesockets so gingerly so that his gravel eyeballs wouldn’t sink into his head.
He’s a happy guy, though.  He likes you   :beatheart



I’m out here feeding a visiting Phil walnuts at my table. I go inside to get another memory card for my camera, come back out and he’s running around. Okay!
So I sit and drink my coffee while I watch him. A few minutes of this and I happen to look down and see tiny coffee handprints leading away across the table and in his direction. So basically, I’ve been drinking squirrel-mitt-flavored coffee this morning.

The culprit: