Monthly Archives: September 2010

Enter the Mantis

Three weeks ago, we got a praying mantis.

I’ve been seeing mantiiiii everywhere this summer; on trees, steps, stoops, and stumps.  “What an awesome bug,”  I’d think every time I saw one.  “Thanks,” it would think back, tilting its tiny head.  How to take my enthusiasm for the critter to the next level?

It turns out Megan had considered getting a mantis as a pet back in the dorms, and had done some research.  You can get a real fancy mantis online for about $30, and it’ll look like an orchid or a violin or something.  Pretty cool– but how far out of my way did I want to go to get one of these creatures.

It turns out I only had to open the front door.  I went out to do some errands a few weekends ago and a sweet kelly-green mantis with a copper belly was hanging out on the wall next to our door, poaching flies out of a spider’s web.  I went back in to check with the missus; and we got a spare glass aquarium ready to go.  I scooted the little mantis inside; she fluttered around in short hops before I eventually pinched her gently around the middle and was able to put her in the tank.  Later that day, we got her some dirt, twigs, and a water dish,  and her mantis pad was complete.

We tossed a number of names back and forth, but Barbacoa* was the one that finally stuck, for reasons I can’t explain.

So now we have a mantis!  We fed her mealworms for the first few days, and while we never saw her eat them, they would disappear.  But then the refrigerated mealworms started looking less and less appetizing, as the weeks went on.  Luckily, mantises have another favorite natural prey: cat food.

We put a little bit of cat food on the end of a toothpick.  Once it gets close to her face, she snatches the toothpick (she’s strong enough to almost yank it out of your fingers) and scours it clean with her awesome four-parted mouth.  The jury’s still out on whether she prefers  Chicken & Herring or Turkey & Salmon.

She’s a beast, and she’s a delight to have around.  More pictures, updates, and delightful tales to follow!

*The exotically named spicy beef at Chipotle.


Our latest "butter" container, complete with problematic curl

Everyone has their funny little quirks, their little habits that they perform without even understanding what they’re doing or why. Well, eventually you understand what you’re doing, but you have to be way more self-aware than I am to figure out the why as well. I am convinced we all have these quirks. I know I have several.

There’s one that Ben and I share which has sort of gone to extremes this week. It goes totally unsaid between the two of us, but we’re both totally complicit in it. I’m talking about our butter* curl.

Smart Balance comes in the little tubs (for baking, we use Earth Balance, which comes in sticks and is great for baking but tastes like plastic on bagels). When you first open a tub of butter**, you are greeted with this beautiful liquid surface, nice and smooth with a slight dome to the top. And sometimes, a little tiny curl in the center where it was poured in. Looking at this curl makes me happy, so the first few times I use the tub, I get my butter from the outside ring, leaving the curl undisturbed. Ben seems to be doing the same thing; we don’t discuss this, it’s not a plan. It just happens. Usually, by the time we’ve gotten everything on the top, one of us has taken the curl and we move on with our lives with the rest of the tub, spreading it like normal people.

Close up of the... problem.

Well, this tub has gotten ridiculous. It was a beautiful, towering curl. So we were able to avoid it more easily. We’re now halfway through the blasted thing, and there’s still this big curl in the middle! And neither of us will touch it. It’s just… there. Staring at me, not quite perfect anymore, but not going anywhere either. And we’ve gone this far; am I going to be the one to move it? To disturb it? I couldn’t. So… now what?

*Okay, yes I know it’s not butter. If you’d prefer, I can say “Smart Balance Buttery Spread Margarine” every time. Or you can just hush and go along with my little fiction and we can use a short 6-letter word instead. With me? Great. So, butter.

** Or buttery-flavor substitute.

Wallpaper: September 2010

So it’s not fully finished yet, but my new website is up. Part of what that means is that, since they’re a part of Pique and my graphics work, the new wallpapers will be on that site. So, September’s wallpapers are now up, and you can go visit and view them over there.