Fans of Bugs!

Bug Day at the Randall Museum. Such an event pre-selects its attendees - those who do not like bugs of course steer clear. Thus, all those who joined were huge bug enthusiasts, and were intrigued to hold bug friends such as the Eastern Lubber Grasshopper, Giant Millipede and Giant Thorny Phasmid. These invertebrates were guests of the museum courtesy of The Randall people asked me to capture the expressions of kids holding bugs, but none that I saw made a Completely Astounded face. All were very excited by calm and curious, treating the bugs with great respect and with a gentle touch.

Whew. It's tough finding the time to blog; it seems most every moment is filled - with being a Mom or squeezing in a bit of computer editing photo work. There is always something to clean up... maybe it's procrastination of cleaning right now that has pushed me to add a blog entry!  I am thoroughly enjoying my time with my toddler these days, and am happy to forego pushing my photo biz in favor of spending days touring city playgrounds, exploring farmer's markets and singing kid songs for her. I can get back to photos any time; toddlerhood doesn't come back.

AnimalPalooza - Bringing Nature To You!

Are you the Bug Lady? Small children would ask as I crossed the playground, lugging two large duffel bags. Ripples of excitement punctuated with delighted shrieks spread from hopscotchers to kick ballers. The Bug Lady Is Here! I felt like a minor celebrity, and perhaps Pied Piper as children ran alongside, trying to peek into my bags.

Children love bugs. In my pre-Momma life I taught for using live insects for Insect Discovery Lab. Preschoolers and kindergardeners had no misconceptions, no prejudices. They loved to watch, to touch, to hold, the Giant Millipede. The Hissing Cockroach. The Australian Walking Stick. First and Second graders bubbled with uncontainable excitement, hands shot into the air and curiosity tumbled forth, even before meeting the insects. Where do they live? What do they eat? How long do they live? My bugs inspired Pure Wonder - the kind that only kids experience - that’s what I loved about my job. One particular second grader enthused to Norm Gershenz, the director of This is the best day of my life.

This is why I think all San Francisco parents of wee ones need to know about:
AnimalPalooza. This Saturday September 24, 11am to 5pm at Fort Mason.
“Get closer to nature than ever before with hands-on encounters with wild animals.”
Much more than bugs. It’s not every day that you meet a Lemur. Hedgehog. Skink. Ocelot. Fennec Fox. Brought to you by and featuring your favorite Bay Area non-profit conservation groups and education organizations.

Love and Respect for Nature. It was at the top of a mental list of Values I Want To Impart Upon My Daughter that I made while gazing down at my burgeoning belly, right after Fondness for Ultimate Frisbee. Hikes at Mount Tam. Turning over rocks near Stowe Lake. Swinging by the Cal Academy. David Attenborough documentaries. And every so often, an event like AnimalPalooza for an up close and personal encounter with animals we don’t see everyday. That ought to do it.

Circulation 3.1 Million

Article. Detail. Cover (note: tiny pic at top center of cover)
Little things that brighten my day. Like finding that my photo (photo Taken by me, not photo Of me) has been published in and on the COVER of TIME magazine (for kids). I'd totally forgotten about this! This article is about non-oprofit, my other job wherein I teach kids with big bugs about insect adaptation and conservation. The bigger picture is that we raise $$ to buy up valuable (in a biodiversity way) natural habitat around the world.

That's my bug boss, with the Giant African Millipede. If you squint really hard in the above photo you can see my photo credit in miniscule font along the right edge of the pic. The original photo is to the left. Compare and contrast. They took out the background, and hark, they changed his shirt color! What's wrong with light purple? And then someone got a little carried away plastering vector ants, resulting in an uncomfortably composed article page - it's very bottom-left heavy, you know? Clip art, if one must resort to clip art, should not be an afterthought, but included in the composition. Same thing with a signature on a drawing. But I digress.

Next time you note the tiny microscopic print crediting a photographer on the side of a photo, know that one person somewhere is doing mental cartwheels over that less than 0.25 inches squared of print space.

If you want to read the article (or my photo credit), if you click on the top pic it should expand.

Bugs, Veggies and Hot Dogs

Meet the Giant African Millipede! Two pair of legs per segment (you might be able to see that in the pic, even) as opposed to one pair, like the Centipede. Feels like a walking toothbrush, we say.

Organic, Veggie and Vegan hot dogs for sale by Underdog, SF's environmentally responsible hot dog mini-restaurant! They've got a place in Inner Sunset, between 18th and 17th on Irving. The best non-meat dogs I've had. I chatted with the owner. He had a vision for eco-friendly food, yet the kind of food he wanted to eat. He has several adopted cats and dogs. Go to Underdog for a great hot dog!

It took some coaxing to get kids to get kids to partake in produce sculpture, but once seated and presented with the possibilities, the kids loved it.

Hmm, maybe I should back up. This is the Children's Harvest Festival, hosted by It happened on Saturday, the same day that the Blue Angels were burning up piles of fuel. CHF was tucked up some uninviting looking stairs. Our signage was lacking, so we sent some savenature people down to the street to recruit families. You know how when people try to advertise to you on the street, you're likely to (a) avoid eye contact and act like the advertiser has a contagious disease (b) politely say no-thanks - well. that could have been us, with the contagious disease. However, armed with LIVE BUGS, people FLOCKED to our reps on the sidewalk. We didn't let them touch the bugs on the street, but lured by the promise of touchable bugs upstairs, people actually attended our event!

I really think very few people would have come otherwise. The people that did looked like they were really enjoying themselves.

Remember when I said I was going to advertise with postcards offering a donation to savenature for every session booked thru my CHF ad? Didn't work. My little postcard display was right next to the bug table and quite frankly, anything that wasn't a live bug on the bug table vicinity was Not Noticed in the Least! Oh well.

Farm Fresh To You, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) org, had a table at CHF, and I signed up. Just received our first box of locally grown, seasonal produce today! Very pleased.

The Giant Thorny Walking Stick (Phasmid) female is about 7 inches long and 2 inches at her widest. The males are brown, smaller, and friskier. About 12 of them were hanging upside down to the mesh lid on their terrarium. Previously, when given a demo of how to handle these bugs, the demo giver flipped the lid over so the clinging bugs were right side up, and placed the lid on the table. The walking sticks calmly sat there.

Later, I asked if I could do the same thing so that I could try photographing a few. So I flipped the lid over, and this time, the walking sticks all started, well, walking. out of the tank, off the lid... one even made it onto the legs of a desk chair. Every time I caught one, another had escaped, and I barely had time to take any photos before I spotted another sneaking off. I spent a good 10 minutes herding walking sticks.

Should you have the opportunity to meet a GTWS, know that they are vegetarian. They can be picked up by sliding an open palm under their body and lifted upwards; their little feet will eventually let go. If they're in a bad mood though, they'll press their hindmost pair of legs into your hand. The legs are adorned with thorn-like spikes (bigger than those on its head) and they pinch. I held a grouchy one today.

With some help, everyone was back in the tank except for this lady. I could finally put my 100mm f/2.8 macro to proper use. It wasn't the brightest room, and the auto focus had some trouble figuring out what to focus on (whereas cameras seem programmed to recognize and focus on a human face, they don't do the same for insect faces), so these are manually focused.

I have a new part-time job, and that is to take lovely bugs like this one out to schools and to teach kids about biodiversity. I'm still in the training stages though.