Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Toad-ally Worth the Drive

Leaves are falling in great numbers now, and that means full gutters everywhere. We have mostly pine trees around our house, but my mother lives in a valley of deciduous trees and needed our help. So, one sunny afternoon, we made the drive to the small hollow where I grew up.

I remember great swatches of wild heather from my childhood. They made small, pretty bouquets.

My mother has the greenest thumb in the family, in a family full of green thumbs. She's notorious for bringing flowers back from the brink. She's revived an entire army of chrysanthemums.

Todd got to work on the roof...

...but quickly discovered that he wasn't alone there. Small tree frogs had jumped or fallen from the surrounding trees and gotten trapped in the gutters.

Indiana has two types of treefrogs: Cope's Grey and the Eastern Treefrog. This little fellow is the Eastern variety. He makes a very pleasing series of croaks and trills. Listen for yourself:


If you examine his toes, you'll notice bulbous knots at each end. This differentiates him from toads, which have smooth, tapering toes.

It didn't take long for me to find a toad to make the comparison!

Another big difference between frogs and toads is their skin. Frogs have smooth skin, while toads have a "warty" appearance. Those bumps aren't warts...they're glands that can secrete toxins when the toad is threatened.

The large bump behind the toad's ear is the paratoid gland, which also contains toxins. North American toads can't harm people, but some varieties can be harmful to pets, like dogs, that agitate them. Only the Cane Toad in Australia can harm humans. They secrete a milky white fluid that can cause serious problems if somehow ingested.

Toads are quite good to have in the garden, since they eat pests.

I also found a large assassin bug, which is one of my favorites. All assassin bugs have the long rostrum and segmented antennae, but this variety has a curved, spiky protrusion on its back. It's not for nothing that this insect is known as the "wheel bug."

Assassin bugs are wonderful to have in the garden, and they can add to the auditory pleasure, like crickets, by rubbing their rostrum against bony ridges on their chest.

It's always good to go to the country, but we had to return to the city and our responsibilities there. Bosewichte wanted out, to enjoy the last gasp of warm weather before the frost set in.

Another fall treat that tapers off in colder weather is our morning walks. A few times a week, we get up early and meander through the local park.

There are plenty of winding paths...

...and cheerful trees.
The squirrels are busy building ever-thickening nests in the trees. The dark bundles of leaves are called dreys, built (and inhabited) by a single squirrel for the purpose of winter shelter. Squirrels don't hibernate, but they can sleep for days at a time.

Sometimes that sounds nice to me, too, in the wintertime!

A kitten update...those little guys are growing quickly! They're five, almost six weeks old now. Still nursing...

...although Cookie looks like she's nearly had enough! They, en masse, are nearly her size!

They've learned that the litter box is a place for play, and, well, other things.

They're all playing now. Chewing on socks...

...on strings...

...or each other.

Kittens go through teething, just like babies, and love to nibble on anything and everything!

I love visiting the kittens every week, but I'm more confused than ever. Should I get the sweet, quiet tabby, or the rambunctious buff, or maybe the little black kitten that snuggles in my lap at every opportunity?

Stay tuned!

I got a delightful package in the mail this week from my Ravelry yarn swap partner. I love learning about different types of yarn, and this particular skein came from Solstice Yarn's etsy shop. It's called John Barleycorn and I am in love with the amazing fall colors and soft, squishy feel. I couldn't have picked a better yarn myself!

After two weeks of hard work and constant cabling, I finished Caulfield. However, it's (sob!) much too small for me. It's my own fault for not knitting a gauge swatch, which I typically don't do with hats (or anything else I can get away with). The pattern called for a US3 needle size, but for some unremembered reason, I chose a US2. Oh, well. I'm now nearly finished with my third attempt at a winter hat, Azul, which is much easier.

With the weather turning colder, I'm breaking out the bread molds! I absolutely love them. This particular one is Nordic Ware's Pumpkin Patch. Unfortunately, the recipe I used didn't produce a tasty bread, so I'll have to try again with a different recipe tomorrow. Different recipe...same cake mold!

With some cornbread miniature acorns scattered around the edges? I can't wait!

Have a great week!

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