Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Critter Camouflage

Critters of all shapes and sizes, whether hunter or prey, can really blend in. Many critters have developed coloring that mimics the coloring of at least some portion of their surroundings so they can escape prying eyes. The female mallard duck blends into her nesting site. Many butterflies have undersides of wings that mimic leaves or dappled shade so that they “disappear” when they are resting with wings closed. I was surprised one evening last month to find out how well a raccoon’s coloration allowed it to blend into the dappled shade on the trunk of the pear tree that my dog had chased it into.

I did a double take recently when passing by an unused planter of mine. A Texas spiny lizard matched the contour and coloring of the coconut husk and mulch so well that I almost jumped with surprise when I realized how close I was to this camouflaged critter that I had not managed to see until I was practically on top of it. It is examples like these that make me wonder how many of nature’s wonders I pass by with absolutely no clue.

A camouflage expert that I have to be vigilant looking for in my garden is the tomato hornworm. These critters use their camouflage skills to avoid being seen by predators and gardeners alike so they can hang out and enjoy a good meal of pepper and tomato plants and fruit alike. Often I will see their frass to alert me to their presence before I see the caterpillars.

Share your observations of critter camo in the comments section.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Resistor Earrings for the Tech Geek

I'm excited to introduce a new geekery item to my EclecticSkeptic shop. The science, technology or computer geek will enjoy these novelty earrings made from resistors otherwise destined for the landfill. (The green angle to these earrings is an added plus.) I just happened to stumble on a lot of resistors that had been culled and would have been trash if someone hadn't understood that they could become components for jewelry making or other non-functional (electrically speaking) projects.

Two of the three basic colors of resistors that I have available are shown in this post. (tan and light blue) The third base color (gray) can be seen in my resistor earring listing in my EclecticSkeptic Etsy shop. I’m still playing with different styles and methods of combining the resistors with other materials. Each of the three examples is very different. Which is your favorite?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pond Bridge Replacement – Part 2

In this second installment of our bridge installation, I will pick up from where I left off in part 1. (While the bridge was out of the way I had reset some rocks that were supposed to line the edge of the pond that had been dislodged by critters over time. The prep work for the footings was complete and the support frame for the bridge was assembled and placed on its footings.)

Now it was time to assemble the rest of the bridge. While the frame was relatively easy to move on and off the footings, the completed bridge would have proved difficult due to its weight, so we put the rest of it together in place. First, we screwed down the planks. We had test fit them to the frame while it was inside so that we could place the first one with the proper overhang to allow for the same overhang on the other end once the last plank was screwed in place. The holes were predrilled at the factory through the planks and all but two screws, as we moved from one end of the bridge to the other, went in easily. One of the predrilled holes lined up with a knot in the frame. After predrilling that spot on the frame, the screw readily went in. However the second screw, that would not go in all of the way, seemed to strike a piece of metal buried in the frame. I was unable to drill this spot to accept a screw so I moved over and tried a new pilot hole. Luckily the problem that I had nearby was not persistent. With the planks in place, it was time to assemble the railings.

First we located the center posts in the center of the bridge. Then we attached the end posts such that the horizontal railings slipped into the inset of the posts and their predrilled holes lined up in the center of the posts. One “little” oops occurred as I got ready to place the last end post. While the bridge frame and planks just fit between large rocks on either side of the bridge, part of the posts sit on the outside of the frame and screw into it. It just happened that this last post was on top of a large piece of sandstone that kept it from sliding past the side of the frame. Luckily we have some large masonry bits and this sandstone boulder was somewhat soft so I was able to make a notch in the boulder, to accommodate the post, using my drill. Once this post was in place, we screwed in the rails.

The kit also included pieces of wood meant to go vertically between the frame and the bottom horizontal rail, evenly spaced along the bridge. As we were test fitting these decorative elements, we decided that they blocked more of the view and made the bridge feel more closed in than we wanted, so we left them off. The only thing remaining was to install the decorative elements at the top of each post.

Our completed bridge is very sturdy. I am glad that I spent the extra time on the prep work for the footings. It also was a great idea to assemble the remainder of the bridge in place once we had the frame placed properly on the footings. This is one heavy and solid bridge. I’m betting it lasts longer than the last one.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thanks for the Treasuries - August 2013

Four different Etsians let me know that they had featured one of my items in a treasury during August. Five August Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one of my creations. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic that were featured during August. (Click on the collage to see a larger view.)

I really appreciate being featured by the treasury makers. To thank them, I have listed below (in alphabetical order) links to the 3 Etsy sellers that let me know that they featured one of my items, as well as an item from their shop that I like. (The fourth Etsian that featured one of my items does not have a shop.)

Enjoy window shopping and please click on the shop links of anything that catches your eye.

This talented Etsian knits and crochets scarves, cowls, capes, shawls, neck warmers, mittens, hats & jackets. That's not all though, she felts and makes leather bracelets and brooches, semiprecious stone necklaces and bracelets.

This shop owner makes unique and one of a kind gemstone, crystal and shell jewelry with bronze, silver, gold and copper.

Great gift ideas in the form of greeting cards, earrings, rings & necklaces are found here.