The Spider And Her Web


One of the photos I took when I saw the spider and her web

The wild oregano is blooming in the pastures.  I got low to the ground to take a picture of the sheep through it.

That’s how I saw the spider web.

I thought I’d try to take a picture through it, but just as I got close,  the tiny orange insect with long wings land in it.

I watched as the spider hurried from the top of the web to the middle where the insect was and begin to spin it round and round wrapping it in her spider’s silk.  When she was done the spider carried the insect to the edge of her web.

Then she retreated to the flower of a stalk of grass the web was attached to.

In another moment an even smaller insect landed in the web and the spider raced toward it.  While the spider was busy, the orange insect unraveled itself freeing its wings.  But it was still stuck in the silk.

My first thought was to help it get away, but as I was considering the spider without a meal, she was back on the insect, wrapping it up again.

This time it worked.

The spider spent more time with the insect.   I imagine she was injecting it with her paralyzing venom.

The web was only about 4 inches round and the spider herself a quarter of an inch.  With all the rain we’ve been getting here are lots of bugs around.  And in the morning when the sun lights them up, I can see there are lots of spider webs too.

I did get the video below of the spider wrapping up the insect the second time…

Powers Out

Fate cooling off in the flooded marsh

I was working on the Last quilt for Ellen when we lost power. I’m glad Jon is on his way to his cardiologist because the house will heat up quickly without the air conditioning.

Hopefully we’ll have power back before he gets home.  But if not we’re fortunate to have a generator.  I don’t know how that will work with air conditioning. But I imagine we’ll be able to cool at least one room.

It’s too hot to stack wood so I’ll probably continue blogging from my iPhone.
Times like these I think of Lena, one  of our Amish neighbors sewing on her treadle sewing machine.


Jon’s Foot Is Healed, Walking Again, Beginning Again

Jon and I did some gardening today.

He dug up some of the flowers from his garden to plant the two new ones I bought for him on the way home from his foot surgeon.  Then I dug up the iris’ that no longer bloom and half the spiderwort that is taking over my Back Porch Garden. I put them in our unmowed front lawn and planted Jon’s zinnia, Gerber daisies, and peonies in their place.

We were celebrating by digging in the earth.

After years of problems with Jon’s toe, including amputation and infection, his foot is finally healed.  He can wear regular shoes and walk all he wants.  After a couple of months of not being able to shower for fear of his toe getting infected, he can shower every day again.

It’s not like flipping a switch.

We didn’t completely believe it was over just because Dr. Daly said it was healed. It takes some processing to get used to the idea. To believe that I no longer have to put a bandage on Jon’s toe every morning.  To believe it’s really over.

We’ll still keep an eye on it.  For another month I’ll put vitamin E on the scar from Jon’s amputation.  And after that, we’ll make sure nothing else goes wrong with his feet and if it does we’ll get help right away.

And although we may not quite believe it yet, I’ve seen the change in Jon.  It began on Tuesday when he went to The Mansion for his Meditation class. He’s walking so much more easily, has more stamina and his overall energy is different.

He just feels more like himself to me.

I don’t usually garden during the week.  And I wanted to get into my studio to work on my quilt.  But gardening with Jon this morning felt not only important but necessary.

Like part of the transition, we’re both going through.  To get from years of doubt and worry to beginning again.

Belly Dancing At The Pride Parade In Bennington Vermont On Sunday

From our last performance at The Bennington Museum.  Upfront and going left are Trish, Emily, Callie, Jula, and me.

A few nights ago I had a dream that I was in a room full of people.  I wanted to get their attention, but they weren’t listening to me.

So I banged on the floor with my foot, which make a sound like glass breaking.  Then I said, “Listen to me.  I have something important to say and you need to hear this.”

I work up before I could say anything more, but the people in the room did stop talking and paid attention to me.

I’m going to remember this dream when I perform with the Bennington Beledi Bellydancers at the Pride Parade in Bennington Vermont this Sunday.  If nothing else it will make me smile, which is half the battle for me, remembering to smile.

Although for some reason,  I have a feeling that I’m going to enjoy this performance more than any so far.  I feel like I’m finally really ready for it.

We will be marching Sunday in the parade which begins at 12 noon On Main Street in Downtown Bennington, Vermont.   And we will be performing on School Street at 1pm. 

If you live close by come see us!

Letting Go At The Solstice Fire

The long thick spines of the cactus glowed hot orange as the body turned a charred black.    I watched it burn but I wanted to pull it out of the fire, to rescue it.

It hurt to see it there.

That’s right, I thought, it hurts. Let it hurt, feel the pain, don’t run from it.  Then let it go.

I’ve had the cactus for more than forty-five years.

It moved with me eight times, growing tall thick, and woody.  A few years ago it flowered for the first and only time.  Last summer it got a fungus.  Over the winter I tried to scrape it off,  spray it with neem oil and prune it.

Nothing worked.  The fungus kept coming back.

I finally gave up, but couldn’t bear to throw the cactus in the garbage. I didn’t want to compost it thinking the fungus might spread.  I decided to burn it at our Summer Solstice fire.

Because I have Bellydancing Class tonight we had our Solstice fire a day early.  Last night as I watched my cactus burn and felt the pain of letting it go, I also felt that I was letting a part of my past go.  I thought of the fourteen-year-old me riding my bicycle back from the flea market after buying the cactus small enough to fit in a plastic cup and felt grateful for the life I have now.

So I let the pain burn through me as I watched my cactus glow and darken then fall through the branches it was perched on and into the ashes below.

I still have a few pots with that cactus’ offspring.  This summer I will prune and repot them all, continuing the ritual and giving them a chance to begin again too.

Ordinary Grass

I was just about to pluck the tall grass that sprung up in my garden.   I do it all the time without a second thought.

Then I looked closer and saw the dangling seeds jiggling together just from the movement of my body being near them.  I got an even closer look with my iPhone camera.

Above is the wonder I saw.

I didn’t “weed” it from my garden.

Good Bye Hammer Toe

The drawing I did while waiting for Jon to have the tendon in his toe snipped.

I could see past the gray vinal shield that Dr Daly swung between Jon and her.  I couldn’t see the bloody details, but I did see the look of strain on Dr Daly’s face as she pulled and pushed at Jon’s toe.

It was a struggle for sure, with lots of muscle,  there was nothing delicate about it.

I was glad I wasn’t on the other side of his toe to see her pulling the tendon which was so tight it cured the digit into a “hammer toe”.

It’s just a small incision she told us. And once it’s cut the toe will pop out straight allowing the blister that put Jon in the hospital with an infection to heal.

But Jon said even though his foot was numb from a local anesthesia he could feel the effects of her pulling and snipping the tendon throughout his body.  He said It was a kind of tightening that traveled from his foot up through his torso.

The whole procedure didn’t take long, but I’d never seen anything like it. Even the surgical scenes I’ve ever seen on TV or in the movies (and I haven’t watched any in the past 20 years or so) never made the surgery look so “physical.”

I was relieved to see Dr Daly pull out the curved needle ( like the upholstery needles I have in my studio) with the almost invisible thread and start to sew up the incision.  There was something weirdly calming about it.

Maybe because it was so familiar.

“We know you heal well,” Dr Daly said before leaving the room to get to her next patient, “This is a structural issue, so it should work.”

I watched as she bandaged Jon’s foot in case it came off in the night, as it has in the past, and I had to put another one on.

The appointment was an early one so we stopped for breakfast on the way home. Then Jon picked up a couple of more plants from the Hand Farmstand for his garden.  Back in Cambridge I hit the Senior Center Thrift Shop and got two bags (fill a bag for $5)  of used clothes for my quilts.

We’ve been visiting Dr Daly’s office for over three years, sometimes every other week and know most of the nurses and receptionists by now.  It helps that Jon always brings them Amish cake and cookies.

But we actually have a good time when we go there, even on a day like today.

Jon may be the patient, but his curiosity and interest in the people around him, allow him to get to know them as people and they see him as an individual too.

He’s good at that and I’ve seen him do it again and again, since his open-heart surgery in 2014.

Jon’s foot was still numb and as we drove home we talked about how he needed to rest it.  But I didn’t even try to stop him from planting his new flowers and taking pictures of his garden.

Resting is important, but I admire the way Jon wants to get back to his work as quickly as he can.  And I know for me there is nothing as healing as digging in the dirt.

Watching Jon deal with multiple medical issues gracefully has been helpful to me.  I wouldn’t say he is stoic, although he is uncomplaining.  Because he also tries to be honest and aware of the range of emotions that go along with it all.  He’s thoughtful, not only about himself but how it all affects me too.

There are many ways to grow old and deal with illness, but I like what I see Jon doing best.  I hope I can do as well.

Jon working in his garden this morning.

“The Path I Slip and Slide On”

a moth on my studio window

Jon and I have been listening to the new Paul Simon album, Seven Psalms when we wake in the night.  It’s a dreamy 30 minutes of music and words that loop back to a refrain of Simon finding god in the world around him.

The line “The path I slip and slide on” has stuck with me.

It’s the most simple and complete description of life I can remember hearing.  And when I think of it, when I say it in my head like a mantra, it comforts me.  It makes me feel like I’m okay, like I’m living my life the best I can.

Today and Tomorrow

my drawing from the waiting room this morning

Jon and I were back at Jon’s foot surgeon this morning.   It was his first check-up since getting out of the hospital on Saturday. Next week we’ll go back for a procedure that will straighten out his toe so it can heal properly.

So it’s not over yet, but we’re headed in the right direction.

We got home with just enough time for me to have a quick lunch before I had to head back out to a dentist appointment.

I was very happy when I heard Dr Merriman (that is his name and is a kind and merry man) say “good, good” as he looked at my xrays.

Before going home I stopped at a shop a few doors down the street and picked up a gift for Jon.   We’ll be married (lucky) 13 years in a few days and we’re going to our favorite Inn in Vermont to celebrate.

It’s the same Inn we went to when we first met, then honeymooned at.   The Inn with the wonderful food, claw foot tub, and nothing much to do.

It’s changed some over the years but is the kind of place where we can both relax as soon as we walk through the door. Familiar enough to be comfortable but far enough away to make us forget about work and home while we’re there.

I treated myself to an ice cream cone at The Ice Cream Man,(they make their own) on the way home from the dentist and was only a little late feeding the animals. Then Fate and Zinnia and I went for a short but restorative walk in the woods.

I didn’t get into my studio, but I’ll be ready for it Monday Morning.  I have no plans for the whole day except to start working on something new.

Smoke On The Rain

Jon brought the chicken back from the village market after his Meditation class at The Mansion.  “I think it is a cold,” he said to me on the phone.  That’s when I told him I’d make chicken soup if he picked up the chicken.

An hour later, after lunch, I chopped the onion and my eyes didn’t sting until put them in the pot.

The light coming into the house has been strange all day.  This morning it glowed orange on the bookshelf, now there’s a yellowish-gray cast over the farm.  My neighbors, the mountains, are pale ghosts of the haze.

I can’t help but wonder if my eyes still sting from the smoky cloud that reached our town from Canada early this morning.

“I think I can smell smoke on my sweatshirt,” I said to Jon putting my nose to my sleeve. Can you smell that or am I imagining it?

Jon smelled it too even though he’s congested.  Maybe his cold isn’t a cold, but the effects of the tainted air. The weather channel warned against going outside if you have certain health conditions, heart disease being one of them.

It’s been dry here.  Not like in some places thankfully,  but a small thunder shower a few nights ago is all the rain we’ve had in a long time.

Last spring and summer, when so much of the country was in drought or flooding, we got the perfect amount of rain.  Enough to keep the grass green through September without it being too much.

I worry it’s our turn, the grass in the pastures is already mostly yellow.  “It’s just dormant,” Suzy texted me, “protecting itself till it rains again.”

I know I’m fortunate to only be concerned about having enough grass and hay for the animals, and not about wildfires.

We’re promised a thunderstorm, but I don’t trust it even though the air is beginning to remind me of the color of the chicken soup simmering on the stove.

When the rain does come, it smells like a campfire and doesn’t last as long as the thunder.   The ground under the big maples is bone dry, but still,  I’m grateful for what we got.

It feels hopeful.

Jon says that dogs know hope.  The way Fate will always run to the door when I put my shoes on, hoping to go to the sheep no matter how many times she’s disappointed.

Maybe the grass knows something like hope too.  Like the potential of dew. Just enough to not give up.

Full Moon Fiber Art