Saturday, September 27, 2008

How life works in the garden

Picking green beans a little past their slender prime this morning, I had to give a wide berth to a humungous spider. Humunguous enough to see greenish-yellow stripes on its underside, and fine hairs on its long legs. A small yellow jacket got too close and landed in the web. The spider was on it in a flash, throwing out silk and rapidly rolling its helpless prey. Done. The yellow jacket wiggled a little in its spidery straitjacket. Then the webmaster approached and bit, letting out venom to paralyze the prey. Spiders, it seems, grow more common at the end of season. I should be grateful for their help in keeping down the insect population. In looking to understand what I saw, I read that spiders are nature's physicists in how accurately they construct their webs. This science major was an argiope (rhymes with calliope) spider.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Oprah picks Shakespeare

The new book club pick The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is inspired by Hamlet. And it's 576 pages. I can't wait.

Monday, September 08, 2008

O's kickoff

I use a sports metaphor because she opened her 23rd season with the American athletes from the recently concluded Beijing Olympics in one of Chicago's very nicest settings, Millennium Park in the city's downtown. Mayor Daley (shown in the audience, at his first Oprah taping) must have loved (enough) the idea of showcasing Chicago as the welcoming and world-class host for the 2016 Summer Olympics. You can't pay Oprah to endorse what she doesn't want to endorse, but her home city is one of her favorite things, presumably. All those cheering people and a big balloon drop made me think of two other crowds of people and balloon drops I've seen in the past two weeks, namely, the party conventions. O's audience was the one that truly put country first. Unlike the partisan shows, Team USA brought us together.