A couple semi-interesting nature notes, starring no new animals (that we know of...):
1 - We had our first When Animals Attack moment! Solee was reading a book outside when a deadly ANT struck, impaling the tender flesh of her foot. The ensuing tremendous pain explained why our big dog Trooper always goes nuts when gets bit by an ant and spends hours limping and gnawing on his foot. The pain lasts a good long while, like most of a day! Researching this on the internet I learned several fun things: ants don't bite! They sting. They use their mandibles to grab on, then they jab with a stinger, and if you don't knock them away, they'll pivot around their jaw and continue stinging in a circle. Why sting? Because they are the same order of insects as bees and wasps, which makes sense if you think about how they look. I always thought ants bit, though. Recommended treatment: antihistamines, topical corticosteroids (like hydrocortisone, which we conveniently had), bee sting kits if you are allergic. The inflammation and pain can last up to 72 hours, and can cause the same anaphylactic shock that bee stings can cause (see, it's that family tree again!). It can be fatal if you are allergic! The most interesting thing was that 50% of people who live in the areas frequented by these beasts get bitten (and no place is more frequented than our yard). Good thing Solee got bit! I'm in the clear!
2 - Explain this one. We took a walk up our hill and on the rock at the top were a bunch of sticks. I found it odd. I was about to point it out to my wife when she said "the sticks? Yep! I wiped them off just yesterday too!" We proceeded to muse about how they got there, then wiped them off. The next day, more sticks. This is a creepy Blair Witch thing. There are nearby trees, but none actually overhanging the rock, and these are some solid sticks, not a bunch of leaves or something. The wind didn't drop them on this rock. If it was blowing that hard, it'd sweep them off the rock too! The only reasonable explanation is that a living being is placing them there. A large quantity of sticks, replenished daily. But what creature, and why? We have no answers, only greater mysteries. One day, science will conquer this, but until then, it is all superstition and fear. I would think it was teenagers, but we have an electric fence now. We'd hear them yelping.
So the discovery of #2 there led into a discussion of how The Blair Witch Project was a scary movie. In fact, it was the last
scary movie (the only?). Japanese horror movies are fairly unsettling, but they're not scary. American horror movies are funny and stupid, but they're not scary. No, The Blair Witch was it. After seeing that movie, you just kinda walk around a little nervous. Not even sure what you're nervous about, since you're not in the woods. It's just a general disquiet. A fear that maybe the world isn't as straightforward as it appears, that just maybe people could get taken away by an unseen force, or sticks could get deposited on your rock. Then you get over it and have a Moolatte.
Of course there was a massive backlash against that movie, and tons of people just thought it was stupid, boring, annoying, motion-sicknessing, and so on. Not us though. We found it scary. And yes, we know it isn't real!