Spiders and Lizards and Toads, OH MY

So one of the goals that SSH and I have set for our house is to not use herbicides or pesticides unless absolutely necessary. (Fire ant piles are one of the few things so far that’s been necessary) We use neem oil, baking soda, and other preventative measures with our plants, plus a mulching lawnmower to keep the grass nice. And a trowel and some elbow grease to remove weeds that get big enough to look particularly icky.

One of the benefits of this treatment is the healthy, thriving ecosystem in our yard. We have lots of beneficial insects, including wasps, dragonflies, and assassin bugs, plus honeybees in the bee garden. And we also have a ton of native critters.

Brown earth snakes and garter snakes hang around, especially in the gardens. We’ve had a snapping turtle take up residence under the tomato plants. And the lizards. Holy crap, so many lizards. When you open any of the doors, herds of baby lizards go streaking across the sidewalk. I’m always afraid I’m going to step on one. The anoles get bigger than any I’ve seen before too – some are close to 6 inches.

In the last week I have seen six separate toads. I am reasonably sure they are actually six DIFFERENT toads, and not the same toad six times. Some in the gardens, some around the potted plants, one hanging out on the front porch. Cute, fat toads.

And now that it’s getting to be fall, the jewel-back spiders are out again.

I was thinking about this today, and I realized it sounds a little like a wicked witch lives here. We’re actively cultivating a yard with a snake, toad, lizard, and spider population.

But then I also have a garden specifically for bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, so I guess that balances out.

Bouncy Desk Chair

Inspired by Tami, I’ve decided that I would give a try to this whole exercise-ball-as-desk-chair thing. I feel a little silly for taking this long to try it out, given that my exercise ball has sat in my office next to the desk chair for months. Especially if you consider how much of a pain in the butt my desk chair has been. It’s supposedly a “nice” desk chair, and it wasn’t cheap, but it makes my elbows hurt and I have to use an extra lumbar support pillow that requires constant readjusting.

So I pumped a little extra air into my big blue exercise ball this morning and opted to give it a go.

So far I’ve noticed a few things:

  • My lower back is having to work on keeping me stabilized, so the muscles are getting tired. This isn’t a huge deal, but will take some adjusting.
  • My butt is cold. The ball doesn’t retain heat like a regular chair. I’m going to try draping it with a blanket and seeing if that helps.
  • My cat has nowhere to sit. Charlie (spazcat) likes nothing better than to camp out on the back of my chair while I’m on the computer. He’s not sure what’s up.
  • My posture is better. I CAN slouch, but it takes conscious effort.

Also? My inner child is pleased.

*boing boing boing*


House and Home

Three years ago this week, SSH and I started looking for our house. We knew we needed to move, as Hurricane Ike had well demonstrated the struggles our more coastal area would have with any kind of tropical storm, and we knew that around the first of the year we’d be able to start really looking for a home. It was a learning time for both of us, filled with books about houses, phone calls to family members, internet house listings and house-hunting programs on TV.

Something I didn’t expect to be so significant about being in a house, versus an apartment, was the level of “ours-ness” that would come about as we both added our own style to the house and as we changed with it through the seasons. I can’t speak for SSH, but setting up the house for the holidays this year brought back memories of our last two holiday seasons here, and how things are so different for us now than they were three years ago, or two years ago, or even last year.

The more memories we have here, and the more time we spend, plus the work we’ve put into making this place ours – the house feels more and more like a reflection of us. The gardens, especially, make me feel plugged into this little chunk of land with our house on it.

Decorating for the holidays, I realized that there are some decorations that no longer fit anymore, and others that I may not have put out in the past that seem to fit better now.

The out of place things stick out more than they used to, since I feel so settled in.

I am, at my core, a homebody. I enjoy traveling to new places, but I don’t have the wanderlust, the sense of adventure that some of my other family members seem to have. I like my home, and being able to return to that home is one of the highlights of a long trip. The safety and security of my own place is something that I treasure, especially during the winter months.

Seeing the house decorated for the winter holidays only reinforces how much at home I feel here, and how thankful I am to have it.


Home Repair, part 2

After installing a dishwasher, we decided to install a new faucet in our prep sink as well. Which sounds like there was one before. There wasn’t. It went bad about 2 months ago, we just hadn’t replaced it yet.

Of course, I’m headed in to work today.

Let’s see if the faucet is going to be the same kind of dramatic experience that installing the dishwasher was…