Sunday, 18 July 2010

Macro Monday - Messy

Believe it or not, this post is not about me. Yes, we all know that I am lazy and OK, I can be a little messy too (except for the insides of my cupboards, but we don't need to talk about that now, do we?). But today's messy macro subject is this little guy here:

This is a flower longhorn, a beetle belonging to the family Cerambycidae. It is known as a longhorn due to its extremely long antennae - duh - but it is also known as a round headed borer, due to the larval form that spends its time chomping away through the wood of trees, leaving lovely, perfectly round tunnels.

I am not sure exactly what species of longhorn this is - there are over 20,000 described species you know, and although I am an entomologist, I am apparently not a very good one. So, I don't know if this little guy was the downfall of some beautiful tree nearby or merely helping in the process of breaking down the wood of a tree that is already dead. Some longhorn species can be quite serious pests, killing trees or damaging untreated lumber, but most are quite harmless and even beneficial. You can see that this one is absolutely covered in pollen and as he moves from one shasta daisy to the next, he will be transferring that pollen and ensuring the next generation of delightful flowers that I can then photograph and share with you.

Now, my contractor, who is supposed to be renovating my house, but is MIA at the moment - something about kids and holidays - claims to have been bitten by one of these guys. Far be it for me to suggest that he might be lying, but really, these guys are highly unlikely to cause any damage to human flesh, they just like wood, and pollen and nectar. You can see this one chowing down on the pollen from this flower here, quite happy to let me photograph him without a trip to the fridge first.


FYI - I myself might be MIA for the next couple of weeks, for I am off in search of something hairy and scary. No, we are not talking about my legs - I am going to deal with them tonight - but of something much larger, if not as scary - grizzly bears in Alaska. So, I might be starting a Telephoto Tuesday when I get back.........

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Macro Mystery #6 - Can You See What It Is Yet?

The challenge has been made, the gloves are off and the macro lenses are on.

OK, OK, so I admit it, I can be just a little bit competitive, so when I got the email from that shining star of wonderful gorgeousness that is English Mum informing me of a little bit of Macro Madness emanating from Tara, over at Sticky Fingers, how could I possibly resist!?!

So, off I go, camera in hand, hunting high and low for a good subject. Now, I am not usually short of an idea or two for my normal Macro Monday shot, as hosted by Lisa, over at Lisa's Chaos. There are always beautiful blooms in the garden or creepy crawlies beckoning me with their waving antennae. Something cute, something furry or perhaps a fine feathered friend. Flora and fauna are my usual suspects. But this challenge requires a photo of some everyday object - not my normal photographic stomping grounds. And I found it surprisingly difficult to find something to photograph that was not too big or too small, something that you could get a good macro shot of but still have enough detail to give people a good chance of guessing what it is.

So here it is, the fruits of my labour:

What, you haven't got a clue? Well, if no one gets it soon, I will come back and give you one.

Just in case the first photo is too easy, what about this one?

I could go on.............

OK, so here is the first photo, the one that nearly everyone guessed correctly as a toothbrush.

And here are a few photos of the second from further back - well done to Cortes and OwainDodo for their excellent guesses.

Since I seem to have a spare $20, I am off for an iced caramel macchiato - cheerio!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Macro Monday - Lazy

I think that I may have mentioned, at some point, perhaps more than once, that I can be a tad lazy. Well, just to substantiate this claim, I decided to head out into my garden with my camera and macro lens, plop myself down in a chair on my patio and only take photos from that one, sitting rather comfortably, position. You really can't get much lazier than that, can you? I took a few photos - not too many, mind, since that might require too much effort, and then headed back inside for a much earned nap. Sometime later, I downloaded my photos and lo and behold, look at what I got. All credit goes to my camera and my beautiful, gorgeous, absolutely perfect subjects, the shasta daisies and the geranium.

There are other photos, but they will have to wait for another day, since I feel a nap coming on........

For more Macro Monday, go here.

By the way, if you are really disappointed by the lack of a Macro Mystery this week (as I am sure you all are), never fear and come back on Wednesday. Tara, of Sticky Fingers, is hosting a little Macro Mystery Medley and I shall be a proud participant. I have been working very hard to find the most fiendish of all Macro Mysteries to test you all to your limits and to drive you all crazy ....... insert evil laugh here......... Oh, hang on, that might not be the best way to get you to come back to visit on Wednesday, is it? Sorry, it really won't be that hard, honest.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Cats Are Not Helping!

I sometimes have to wonder why I do some of the things I do. Why on earth am I spending ridiculous amounts of time crocheting a baby blanket? Why don’t I just pop into Babies are Us, grab a readymade and pre-packaged blanket, with the only effort required on my part being to try to prise my credit card out of my purse and then suffer the anguish and mental exertion required to recall my PIN? Well, the obvious answer is that I love my brother Moon and his lovely wife M and I want to pour that love, through my nimble fingers, into a beautiful, handmade and personal gift. I want that precious little baby to be wrapped in its warmth and softness, to cuddle him in a way that I cannot, to feel my love across the miles that separate us. But is that really the whole truth?

Obviously not.

You see, I am the kind of person that needs to know that I can do something if I want to. It’s not that I really want to be able to crochet, more that I want to be able to say, yep, I can do that. It’s not that I want to sit around all day, like some little old lady, crocheting bright orange and brown squares to make a crocheted blanket that I can then leave to my great grand nieces and nephews, it is not that I want to be able to crochet a tea cosy that I can then give to my senile old neighbour who can then walk around with it on her head, since she seems to think that it is a hat. Oh no, nothing like that. I just need to be able to prove to myself that I can do it. One of my lasting memories as a child was the time spent with my Auntie Gert as she tried to teach me how to crochet. Now, I was a very patient child, willing to sit for long periods of time, to not give up on something just because I couldn’t get it straight away. Generally speaking, I could pick up new skills pretty quickly, but crochet (and knitting, if I am honest), appeared to be beyond me. Why, oh why could not I not get the hang of it!?! Ah yes, the old cackhandedness strikes again. Trust me, if you are left handed, don’t try to learn how to knit or crochet from someone who is right handed. It just doesn’t work.

So, did I just give up? To be honest, yes. That is, until the first child appeared in my extended family. Now, the challenge was back. I needed to make something, I couldn’t just buy something. So, how did I finally conquer my crochet nemesis? With a mirror, of course! I just went and bought a how to crochet book, propped it up in front of a mirror to get a left handed view and, voila! I knew I could do it. And once I have proved to myself that I can do something, I never need do it again. Take Sudoku. Mr. DBM likes to challenge his brain on a continual basis. Me? I just like to show that I have a functioning brain once in a while. So, once that fiendish Sudoku was done, so was I, and I have never done one since. Why bother? I know I can, if I want to. The challenge is gone. The same is true for the Travel IQ Challenge. I should warn you NOT to go to this site if you are the competitive, addictive type, unless you have hours to waste! Once I conquered all the levels, that was it, I was done. Now the same would probably be true of the crochet, if it wasn’t for the fact that relatives keep having babies............

So, the project – one baby blanket.

Things did not start well – apparently, if you buy wool in skeins, the first thing you have to do is wind it into a ball. Why on earth not just sell it as a ball to being with? Why on earth didn’t someone tell me!?! If you don’t, you end up with one mahoosive, convoluted, tangle of wool and it will take you the rest of the evening to untangle it. Now, I could have just said “Sod it!” I could have just chucked that ball out and started again. But no, I could not be defeated by a ball of wool. But no, I had to prove to myself that I could untangle it. What is wrong with me!?! Who really cares if I am the master untangler of all things tangled? Why oh why can’t I just give up on something that really isn’t important?

Anyhoo, I did untangle it, eventually, despite the facts that my cats were not helping - do they ever? And now, the blanket is started – when is that baby due again?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Macro Mystery #5

I have the blahs this week. Is it because I am always cold? Is it because England got knocked out of the World Cup? Is it because I have an almost continuous headache due to all the spray foam insulation that they are putting into my house? Is it because I have no sink? Or is it just because I am so very lazy? Who really knows, but it does mean that I am going to give you another Macro Mystery, since then you have to do the work and I don't have to. So, here it is:

I suspect that it is very easy, but that it is OK - why should I expect you to work hard if I don't have to?

For more Macro Monday, go here.

PS If you have seen this photo via my Facebook page, please don't pretend that you are a smartarse that has worked it out. I will know and I will tell everyone what a cheat you are.

The answer:

OK, all you cleverclogs out there - feather it is! I suspect that it is from a crow, since I just picked it up in my garden. Sorry about the rather shabby nature of the feather - my cats decided that it was actually a cat toy and have been playing with it all week.

Here is another really macro shot, much closer to the base of the feather.