Saturday, September 28, 2013

ACT FINISH! Then Start Up....Again!

Our Project at ACT wrapped up this Friday!  YEAH!  Nothing beats the feeling of finishing a project and a job well done.  Like crossing the finish line after a long, harsh Marathon.  The pride, sense of accomplishment, and even the knowledge that, in some small way, your efforts made a difference in the overall scheme of things.

Then, we do it all over again. 

On Monday, we begin out training and qualification for the next project.  Another project. Another set of standards. Another Qualification set.  Another chance for failure.  Another obstacle to overcome!   All this doom and gloom makes me think it is less like a marathon and more like a rat race!  You know the kind,  one where you are put in an endless loop and forced to run around in circles.  Well,  this might be one of the symptoms of being self employed for all those years.  Being vividly aware of the round robin type of feeling you get with a "job".   ( sigh)

In other news, stockings are kicking up and we would LOVE to get them going in the best way possible.   Ah but the time....  we need money and time to make it all happen.   I'm sure it will all work out eventually.  Like the season finale of Exosquad!  ( anime reference)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Adventures With Ethan, Cheryl, and the White Lined Sphinx Moth

I have been seeing daytime moths for the last several weeks, but could not get a good look at them.  Other than the fact that I know they are moths, (They fly like hummingbirds and sip nectar like hummers,  But the fly ever so different.  I used to watch them for hours at my college.)
Anyway, I have been thinking that they might be the White Lined Sphinx Moth, but after finding the Tomato Horn Worm on our walk,  I was convinced that I had been seeing the Five Spotted Hawk Moth.  Both fly during the day and sip nectar.  And with all of the tomato vines around here, I though it was the obvious choice.

But then today Cheryl finds another large green worm crawling out of the soybean fields.  It has a horn, is large, green, and has spots along its back.  I note that I think this one is different from the Tomato Horn Worm.  Luckily, I pick it up and carry it the three miles along our walk and bring him home.  He was quite the little passenger!

We released him in the tomato plants, because, well...there are way too many vines around here.   With the two worms side by side, it was easy to see the difference!    We had managed to find the larvae of the White Lined Sphinx Moth. 

Tomato Hornworm,  Five-Spotted Hawk Moth  NOT White-lined Sphinx Moth larvae

Now if you are not a crazy Lepidopterist ( Moth and butterfly enthusiast), You may be asking," What is a White Lined Sphinx Moth?"  Well,  think about one of the cutest, prettiest moths that flies during the day and looks like a hummingbird while drinking nectar.  They Look like hummingbirds, but are NOT the hummingbird moth...( which looks like a bumble bee)   Confused?   You should be! Unless you are a crazy fanatic  who stays up late at night blogging about such things.  Well,  here are some pictures:

The good news is that the larvae feeds off of weeds and NOT soybeans or corn.  So rest assured farmers, that they are not a pest. ( I happen to think that Tomato Horn Worms are might not be as bad as some people think. Then again, I'm being overrun by tomatoes at the moment! )    In fact, they MAY be beneficial to farmers with pollination and weed control.   But getting insects to eat the right weed at the right time is usually impossible.  Insects just seem to have a mind of their own.  If we could some how tap into that simple programing like Mother Nature, we could possibly do away with insecticide and herbicides....but that may be asking for too much. 

Anyway,  another adventure with Ethan and Cheryl!  Finding another hidden world here in Wellman Iowa. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Very Own Tomato Horn Worm!

I'm very excited!  On our walk today, in the middle of a bunch of corn fields, Cheryl finds a Tomato Horn Worm.  Or better: The larvae of the Five-Spotted Hawk Moth!  I love these guys!  Seriously!  So much so that I, without even a second thought, reached down and saved this little guy from certain death.  I have the perfect place for him to live out the remainder of his brief childhood.   My Very Own Overgrown Tomato Patch!

Now I know there are people out there that think I'm being sarcastic, Or funny,  Or even Crazy Serious!  But the truth is,  I love butterflies and moths.  I love all of God's creatures great and small...( Well, maybe not Mosquitoes....) And it is not like I want to horde all of the tomatoes for myself.   In fact,  I have been frantically giving them away as quickly as I am able!  My tomato plants have produced so many that I have already past my quota for the year and have been urged by Cheryl not to eat any more.  So why not share the bounty?

It's not like they eat a tremendous amount after all.  It's simply a small caterpillar. I have been suspicious for a while that I already had one or two on the plants from the small amounts of leaf loss.  I also have a variable locust storm of crickets and grasshoppers that hang out in my tomato patch.  The crickets are the worst because they actually eat the tomatoes!  ( Along with slugs, fruit flies, small rodents, and any number of other hosts helping themselves to my bounty!)   What is one more worm going to do?

Besides all that,  it has become a race against time for the Hawk Moth.   The tomatoes are turning yellow with the changing season.  If I suddenly had a plague of horn worms that ate my entire patch, it is not like they would be doing much in the over all scheme of things.  The Plants are going to be turning color and dying anyway.  Like I mentioned before, I have already reaped all the tomatoes I need and then some.  The plants are like a conveyer belt and continue to produce more tomatoes than I know what to do with.  If the caterpillar can reap one last meal before transformation time, more power to him. 

As we released this guy into out vast wilderness of twisted tomato vines, I finally found one resident that was about to turn into a chrysalis.  Believe it or not, he is still alive and moving!  I have actually hatched one of these guys out to an adult and the chrysalis is actually pretty cool looking.  Anyway,  I'm happy I could help out  a cool moth, much to the dismay of my tomato growing neighbors, I'm sure.  Then again, they have also had so many tomatoes that they have been
offering them to anyone that passes then in the street! I'm sure they won't even notice if a few leaves from their plants are missing next year. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Windy Storm In Iowa

It happens often that you simply do not believe the weather man.  You know,  you want listen to the news,  talk to your friends,  Even download an app that helps you keep up to date on the weather.   But that love affair with the weather predictions are a one way street.   So much so, that here in Iowa, the weather is usually ...WRONG!   They say cooler temps, and then it hits upper 90's!   They say rain, and you get nothing!  I know that the winds on the plain states blows from all directions, but, like the boy who cries wolf, sooner or later you are going to take everything with a grain of salt. 
So it was when Cheryl and I went out for a walk yesterday.   They predicted rain all day, and yet...sunny skies from morning to afternoon.  They said cooler temps, and was hot!   They have been wrong all day,  why should that effect our normal routine of going for a walk in the country after work.    I'll admit  I noticed the darker clouds coming up.   But the sun was still bright and shining.   We should easily get in our walk before those clouds become a problem.
As with everything in life.  Predictability is never a sure thing.  For once, the weather man was...almost right.   We get one third of the way  on our walk and decide that those clouds might become a problem if we didn't turn back then.  We walk...briskly, even though it is still hot.  Then Cheryl turns around.
The clouds that looked fairly distant are suddenly upon us.   The wind picks up and starts to gust.   Cheryl, who never runs,  suddenly urges us to hurry to the edge of town.  wind begins kicking up loose corn stalks that fly across the road.   and we are being pushed from behind.  What fun!  If not a little scary.  
I was more concerned about the rain.  It never really rained much.   Only after we got home and safe did the storm blow over and the rain finally trickle.  they promised thunderstorms, but that never really happened.  All in all, we survived..and Cheryl ran....For the first time in I can't remember.  It was fun in a way, but I'm not too eager to repeat that again.  If

only the Iowa weather were a little more trustworthy. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Being Not as Dumb as You Thought is a Great Place to Be!

In other words:  Success!   I managed, somehow, to pass another ACT English Test Qualification.  Which only means I'm capable to putting scores on these test and not messing up most of the time. Or, put better,  ACT deems My English skills  worthy enough to score 9th grade English Writing.  YEAH!

Well, it all worked out, somehow.  I managed to be in the group with Cheryl, so now we can come and go together instead of playing chat on the internet during lunch break.  I still have to stay on my toes, as I didn't do so well on the second qualification, but that was ok.  I managed to pass the first qual, and that is what mattered. 

Of coarse, my origami will now have to take a back seat.  Putting 8 hours a day into scoring takes a lot out of your brain.  I barely have energy to think, let along fold something complicated.   And then there will be stockings to think about.....

But in the end, I'm just happy I can go back to work with Cheryl.  I prefer to work at home.   ( i.e. stockings. )  But for now,  this will allow our coffers to fill a bit and be ready for buying felt and shipping stockings.  YEAH!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Origami Therapy for the ACT Scorer.

Why do I feel so nervous before a new project at ACT?   It is just scoring after all.  How difficult can it really be?  Oh!  Right.  I failed to qualify the last time.   Cheryl urges me that I should not worry about it and just accept that I'm stupid and be grateful that ACT is giving me another opportunity to try out.  Who knows?   I may even guess right this time and pass the thing!  It could happen!

All jokes aside,  failing to qualify did shake me up a bit last time.   I'm a little more nervous about this next project....which is English...AGAIN!   You would think if nothing else, I would sign up for something a little more "me" and get a couple of projects I'm actually "good" at.  Build up my confidence levels a bit before stampeding into another English Scoring Prompt.  But, as mentioned before, I'm a "slow learner".  Not to mention that stockings are kicking up lately and there is this new threat that our Christmas season may be falling behind in readiness. 

With all these things swirling around,  It's no wonder I'm feeling anxious all the time lately.  You know:  Heart palpitations,   jittery leg, eye twitches, hot flashes, cold flashes, Irritability, and my favorite; "Sudden Shadow Startled Syndrome"!  The only cure I have found so far is walking 4 miles around the corn fields...and Alcohol.   ( not much, one glass of wine puts me right to sleep.)

And, as always, Origami.  I have been folding every other day lately.   It seems I just cant dredge up enough creativity to be a full time origami artist.  Meaning:  On odd days, I can't seem to fold anything passable. Sometimes I don't even try!   I just fool around with the cats, clean the house  etc.  However,  there are those days when I'm a folding Machine and everything turns out pretty good.  Ah, If only those days were more....

In the mean time,   as blogging has not been my strong suite lately,  Here are some of the origami Projects I have been up to.  Some beg to be explored more.   So  Enjoy the pics.  and hopefully I will have better news tomorrow.  We shall see...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

ACT, Freedom, And more Origami

As my weeks of freedom come to a close, I have been trying to fold as much as possible.  That is a tough one to totally explain.

  You see,  there are days when I just fail to fold anything worth while.  It is like the artistic river is suddenly dry.   Then, like today, we hit a flood stage.   It's crazy, but I managed to fold more today than I have over the past several.  It doesn't matter in the over all theme of things.  The best case scenario is when you fold at least a little something everyday. 

That way you are able to budget you time and abilities so there should always be some water left in the well.   That is great in theory, but that has never held true for me much.  I'm a feast or famine kind of guy.  And is that really all that bad?  I mean...the world needs grasshoppers as well as ants right?

At any rate,  I'll be joining the ACT crew once again,  barring any unfortunate missteps by myself.   And ( more specifically) That I qualify this time.  We need the money for felt  I must tell myself.   and it is nice that the project is, once again, an English prompt.   Perhaps this time, my native tongue will be strong enough to pull me through.  We shall see. 

In the mean time,  More origami!    As mentioned before, I have been folding.  noting groundbreaking perhaps, but  at least it is good enough ( mostly) to put in the shop.   I'll see if I can list some butterflies this time.  there is no shortage of butterflies on Etsy, but I may as well join the fray.   We shall see. For now, Enjoy the pictures...and wish me luck on qualifying. 


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