Habits of the Unwatched Bee

Like many a gardener, my appreciation for insects was transformed when I began spending time around plants. I’m downright proud that so many plants in my yard have bees buzzing around them all day.

My impression has always been that the bees browse and linger over their meals.

But I’ve never tried to photograph them before.

Turns out they move all over the damn place.

My mad plan to photograph bees at a variety of flowers began while out for a walk this morning. A distant neighbor has a spectacular hedge of Matilija poppies (a southern California native plant), which tower ten feet tall, invade for a few weeks each year, then disappear. But I digress.

Anyway, I liked this bee. See it? On the yellow globe center of that Matilija bloom:

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So then I wanted more photos of flowers with bees. I kept my camera/phone ready, but for the rest of my walk, I saw nothing but yards devoid of bees. Why would bees ignore all those flowers? Perhaps those yards use pesticides?

(If only someone would invent something like the internet so I could investigate such questions.)

Back home, there were plenty of bees around my plants but. They. Would. Not. Hold Still.

I took a whole lotta photos and got two that sort of included bees. Can you spot the bee butt near the bottom of this photo?

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Zoom in he’s going to land no, wait, ahhh, there he goes…

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Perhaps my next photo project should involve snails.

(The WP Photo Challenge is Partners.)

Improv/Stage Review: Improvised Shakespeare Company

I’m not good with live theater. I watch with underlying tension – afraid the actors will commit some bigtime flub that they won’t be able to rescue.

No, I have never witnessed such an event – although I have witnessed actors exchanging meaningful subtle glances — doesn’t that sound terrifying?

No, I don’t know why I care – but I do care, and have for years. It’s like being afraid that someone else will dream he’s back in high school and can’t remember his locker combination.

Perversely and/or because of all this, there is one stage event that I attend as often as I can: performances of The Improvised Shakespeare Company (ISC).

Every ISC show starts the same. Five guys walk onto a bare stage, the audience shouts phrases, the troop’s founder selects one of those phrases and it becomes the play’s title: the five guys make up a 1.5-2 hour play, using the style, themes, locales, situations of Shakespeare. No props, no costumes, no intermissions. And as the founder promises, they make up characters on the spot, they learn no lines, “… and if ever you are wondering where the story is going, so are we.”

During a show, the ISC wordplay and inventiveness are staggering. Also, I love the way the troop enjoys what the other guys come up with. And the ways they extricate from the jams they get into (for example, they each play multiple characters, and sometimes they have to play scenes with themselves). I’m impressed at how convincing their settings and characters can be. They play girls, old coots, servants, nobility, soldiers, merchants; in castles, on rivers, on turrets, in town squares.

They are frequently raunchy, which most in the audience seem to prefer. Sometimes that raunch gets a little easy/obvious, but you never know where they will take an idea. As might have been predicted, “As You Lick It” got pretty dirty, yet “Brothello” had an innocent sweetness, while “Straight Outta Venice” was just plain goofy (beware the suspended pickle jars).

ISC is a stand-up comedy troop from Chicago (although some of their players live and work in Los Angeles). Lucky for me, they perform monthly at Largo-at-the-Coronet, a small wonderful venue where I’m a regular. When I visited Chicago, I saw the Chicago troop perform and – based on that single night – I prefer the Los Angeles troop, but who knows where another night may have led.

ISC tours, and seems to be expanding those tours. They play frequently in New York. Watch for them. Go see them. You can read reviews and you can watch You-Tube videos but none of that will capture the essence of the live show.

If you do get to see them, let me know what you think! You might react like my daughter, who was put off by the audience’s enthusiasm and overall couldn’t get into it: “I can see they’re geniuses and all but – meh.” Or you might react like me, and line up your tickets months in advance.

I am grateful to The Improvised Shakespeare Company. They make me laugh out loud, repeatedly; such laughter is one of the great treats of being alive.

In addition, ISC has inspired me to write improvisationally. I’ve got a new piece of fiction, DDsE, that I am writing by adapting their stage constraints: 300 words per day, don’t plan it, don’t rework it, just write and keep going. I don’t know where it is headed or what eventual format it will be (novella? scripted video? comic book?) but, some 50 segments into it, I am jazzed about the results. More about DDsE soon…

 

 

Would We Call That A Cowgoyle?

Good luck all around: I got to spend a week in New York and the weather was mostly beautiful. I must have walked 100 miles!

Headed south along the Hudson River in midtown, New Jersey looked picturesque:

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In Manhattan I’ve always got tourist neck from walking with my head thrown back to take in the architecture. New York’s buildings of a certain age are loaded with decorative frills such as carvings, cornices, balustrades. (I’m confident I know what one of those words means.) There is even the occasional gargoyle.

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On my walk along the Hudson, I discovered a yard for old building decor. Mammoth stone pieces lay scattered behind chicken wire fence.

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There was even a cow’s head. Or, apparently, two.

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Such pieces were built to last, so I couldn’t tell how long they’d been sitting there.

Certainly, there was a whole lotta building going on nearby.

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I’m hoping the decor yard is a storeyard, not a junkyard. But it’s been a long time since construction trends in the U.S. favored such ornamentation.

Perhaps the pieces can be repurposed in a cemetery with really large mausoleums.

(The WP Photo Challenge was Ornate.)

Attempted Break Out From Daily Patterns

Walk-wise, I’m in a rut. Every afternoon for weeks I’ve made the same trek up and across a hill near my house. The incline is steep enough that I feel virtuous and the view is swell.

All of which has nothing to do with this post.

Somewhere there is a list called Ten Things To Never Do On Your Blog. Wonder what number it is on the list: Never Open With An Aside.

If I open with two asides do they cancel each other out?

Anyway.

I walk the same walk every day, so I was amazed to discover that, from one day to the next, my neighbors erected a wood fence, then weathered it, distressed it, and rusted it, to create wonderful textured patterns:

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Alternatively, I’ve walked the same walk every day for weeks without noticing this fence before now. There is a slight chance that that is the explanation. I am someone who walks down the hall of the house where she has lived for a decade and reacts wow! never noticed that wall sconce before.

As I’ve mentioned here recently, I am trying to, struggling to learn how to live in each moment. I’ve lived most of my life inside my head and I’d like to try somewhere new.

(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge was On The Way.)

Confirmation of Feline Underpinnings

I’m not much for housework, but have always especially hated vacuuming. In fact, once as a kid, to avoid using the vacuum I picked up crud from the carpet in my room with tape. That only took 150 times longer.

Pop math quiz: assume the room was 10 feet by 10 feet, the tape was 1/2 inch wide, and I didn’t clean under my bed. How much tape did I squander that day?

Answer: no one has an answer. No one wants to do math on a frigging blog.

Anyway. Now that I’m a grownup, I live in a carpet-free house. Even without a carpet, I did need a Shop Vac in the kids’ room when they were small. I came to recognize the distinct sounds of common objects as they got sucked up the tube: the clatter of a track cleat, the rattle of a marble, the thunk-ffffff of a sock.

I believe my hatred of vacuums confirms that in a previous life I was a cat. I don’t know what I did wrong, that merited my returning as a lower life form this time.

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I wish I could credit the creator of this famous and oft-posted cartoon. Does anyone know the cartoonist’s name beyond Je-something Be-something? An admittedly casual search yields only the pages that have posted this classic.

This post responds to a WP Daily Prompt.