Nursery Web Spider

If you’ve never known one, you could easily rearrange the words with sufficient meaning.  Web Spider Nursery and  Spider Web Nursery give you a hint.  Web Nursery Spider is almost meaningless.  What am I talking about?  Pictured below is a shot of the female Nursery Web Spider carrying her egg sac. 


The Nursery Web Spider carries the eggs using her mouth and two extra appendages (called “pedipalps”)until they are almost ready to hatch.  Then she weaves a web of silk, attaches it to leaves, and deposits the egg sac within.  She stands guard until the eggs hatch.  If you get close enough (I’m not sure I want to!) you may be able to identify the Nursery Web Spider by its eyes.  Like most other spiders it has eight eyes.  The Nursery Web Spider eyes are arranged in two rows of 4 and the eyes in the top row may be slightly farther apart than those in the bottom row.  Frankly, looking at spider eyes on the web makes me shudder, so I’ll leave closer identification to you!

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City Life vs. Country Life

Some readers will accuse me of painting a caricature in this column.  I agree.  The opinions I have formed are based on my interactions with a small number of people.  However, all of my life interactions are usually with a small number of people, so this may not be merely a caricature.  You decide.

Caricature 1:  City life is fast paced and danger lurks around every corner. 

I first recognized this as a college student from Columbus when I travelled to New York City.  My New York host instructed me strongly, “don’t look anyone in the eye and don’t talk to anyone.”  I tried to comply, but as I stood on Fifth Avenue and watched people rush by, I wondered where they were all going and why they were in such a great hurry.  You can’t discern people’s reasons without looking into their eyes at some point.  Violating my host’s instructions bore no consequences.  I observed, people hurried by, and life went on.  That is, until my second violation. 

Later that day, I rested on a bench in one of the city’s many parks to observe my surroundings.  People raced down the sidewalk to their destination and a few took a shortcut through the park.  Other people, arrayed in colorful garments, habited the park benches.  They were lounging or sleeping as though the park was their living room, and it was afternoon nap time.  I had never seen anything like this and I pulled out my camera to take a picture.  That’s when the city reared its ugly head.  Some of the loungers yelled that I was a spy for the CIA.  I shook my head to deny it but there was no dissuading the shouters.  I recognized the irrationality of this accusation because the CIA was empowered only to act outside of the USA, but I did not believe these people would listen to a reasonable argument.  I envisioned being mobbed on my first day in New York.  My host would not be pleased.  I hugged my belongings, my bag and my camera, close to me and considered my options.  There were about seven loungers and newly awakened sleepers and only one of me and not one of the passers-by was paying any attention.  I imagined the vagrants rising from their benches to surround and attack me.  Moving cautiously, I rose and strode toward the stream of fast walkers on the nearby sidewalk.  Before I reached them, I glanced over my shoulder to see if the bench-sitters were following, but they must have been content to scare that naive college girl.   I entered the stream and moved on, wiser in the ways of the city.    

Caricature 2--Country life is slow and everyone wants to be your friend.   

In the last year I have discovered that country people like to stop and talk.  Relationship takes priority over business, or perhaps alongside business.  I hired someone to mow my tall grass.  When he had finished, he came to the door for payment.  Or so I thought.  I opened the door and held out the cash.  He ignored the money in my hand, walked into the house, plopped down into the comfortable chair next to the sofa where my husband was adjusting the television, and began to talk.  We spoke about life and work and politics and his business and whatever came to mind.  He did take the cash when he left, but relationship preceded business.  And it has been that way for most of the people I meet.  When I drop into a nearby retail garden center, the owners and workers stop to talk to me about subjects that interest them and ones that interest me.  I enjoy the conversation but feel guilty for interrupting their work; It doesn’t seem to bother them.  I assuage my guilt by purchasing things I may not need.

Early this spring, I stopped by the garden center to ask a question, and the owners took me on a tour of their new “green” greenhouse, the cistern for recycling water, and new benches from The Netherlands.  If I walked into a city nursery or greenhouse under construction I would be told to leave, not given a tour.  This is as much of a shock as I experienced in New York, but a pleasant shock. And more shocks keep coming.  Country business people don’t worry about contracts; It’s all done on a handshake.  That’s somewhat disquieting to me with my background in law and certainty.  And forget about quick service.  In the city, it’s all about speed and convenience.  “Same Day Service.”  “Open 24 Hours.”  In the country, I hear “maybe in two or three weeks” or “when the creek level drops.”  Most stores are closed Sundays.  There’s something refreshing about knowing that whoever you hire is not rushing to get the next dollar. 

What do you think?  Have I portrayed these caricatures rightly? Which life do you live? 

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Rainy Days

I live for rainy days.  Other people think I’m crazy.  “Isn’t it a beautiful day!” They say on those bright sunny days that make me want to cover my eyes against the glare and retreat to some dark cave.  “What’s beautiful about it?” I want to say, but don’t.  No one else loves rainy days like I do and why should I cast my dark shadows on their pleasure?

Why do I like rainy days?  Have you ever smelled a wet dog?  Rainy days give me the perfect excuse not to walk my dog.  I use those hours I snatch on the rainy day to think, pray, concentrate, read, and write.  Time to be.  And so much better than wet dog odor.

Why do I like rainy days?  The roar of city traffic is muted by rain.   Spring, summer, and fall rains make me feel like I am no longer in the city, but in the woods where I prefer to be.  The patter of raindrops hitting the green leaves,  and the drip, drip, drip, from the gutters are more pleasurable sounds than automobile engines.  Even the sound of a splash as I walk through a puddle is lovely sound. E.e. cummings had it right when he called it “puddle-wonderful.”

Along with the sounds, the view changes in rain.  I leaned long ago in a photography class that light has color temperatures (measured in degrees Kelvin for the person who discovered this phenomenon).  These temperatures are a measure of the amount of heat applied to the perfect black radiator which absorbs all color.  As the temperature is raised or lowered that black object radiates back different colors of light.  Changes in color temperature make some colors “pop”.  For example, the color temperature of sunlight is around 5500 degrees Kelvin.  At that color temperature, to our eyes, everything looks normal.  But lower that temperature to about 3200 degrees (incandescent light) and objects and people appear yellow, not necessarily to our eyes which tend to adjust for changes in light and color, but a camera will will convey the warmer tint unless you white balance or use a flash to simulate sunlight.  During rain, the daylight color temperature rises from the 5500 degree sunlit temperature to 6000-10,000 degrees where colors have a cooler, bluish tint.  “Cooler” is the operative word for me.  I love cool colors and overcast skies and rain give those to me.  That’s why greens appear greener on those overcast rainy days.

Why do I live for rainy days?  Free time to accomplish great things, quieter sounds and cooler colors that suit me, and  most of all, to have a change from the bright hot loooong days of summer when so much is expected of me.  So take some time to listen to the drips and drops, relax in the greens and blues, and take time to reflect.  Maybe someday one of you will join me in relishing the rainy day and together we can say aloud to the sun-lovers “What’s beautiful about your sunny day?”

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Risk-Taking: Do It Anyway

Do you live safe or do you take risks?  Do you try to keep others in your care safe or do you allow them to take risks?  Life is all about risk.  No, not the kind of risk where you jump out of an airplane without checking your parachute or the kind of risk that has you climbing Mt. Everest or bungee jumping off the Verrazano Bridge.  I’m speaking about everyday risks, risks that only you can determine.  Do you give money to the beggar at the corner?  Do you risk it being misspent?  Do you order the largest burger?  Do you risk your health?  What about your job?  Do take a risk by suggesting actions to those above you?  What about your money?  What type of risks do you take with it?

I define risk as not maintaining a status quo.  The status quo despises risk-taking.  Indeed, it despises any change, something like the sloth which can hang from the same tree for years, moving so slowly that it needs little food. Risk is the food of life. Risk is doing what is right, not disregarding the consequences, but fully aware of the consequences and doing it anyway.  Martina McBride’s song “Anyway” resonates with me.  Do it anyway. 

When the recession hit, I had to cut expenses.  Typically businesses cut employees and advertising. I increased my spending.  What did I cut?  A yearly payment to Microsoft that’s about equal to one month of advertising expenses.  I also cut my usual new technology splurges.  Most businesses hold their money tightly in the face of decreasing income; I borrowed money to invest in foreclosed real estate.  Am I a fool?  To some people.  To others, I am a risk taker, taking a risk to invest some funds in a depressed community where the real estate is located and from which I may never see a profit.  Do it anyway. 

There are a few pieces of wisdom I hold onto.  First, when there’s something I don’t want to do, I remember what a wise counselor told me, “Would it hurt you to do that?”  Then I ask myself, how much would it hurt me?  Maybe it won’t hurt at all.  Especially if it’s just a small risk of time or money.  Do it anyway.  Second, I ask myself if it is sin.  If God has said “no” it’s not a risk; it’s a stupid, foolish action.  Finally, I hold onto the fact that I can’t often know the outcome of my risk-taking decisions.  Am I helping someone who didn’t deserve to be helped?  I can’t make that determination.  Only God can.  Am I wasting my money?  Only God knows.  Not knowing all potential outcomes frees me to make risky decisions.  I do it anyway.

Risk involves trust.  After making a considered decision, you must trust that the decision is correct.  And no, even as a person who follows Jesus and stays closely connected to God through his Spirit, it seems like half the time I have no clue whether I am doing is the right thing or if I have totally messed up.  But I do it anyway.  And that’s what makes me a risk taker.  Have you thought about being a risk taker?  What would it take to move you in that direction?  As you finish reading this, consider what sort of risk you might normally avoid.  Then do it anyway!


And if you’d like to read a book that helped me consider my risk taking, read The Crime of Living Cautiously by Luci Shaw.

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Renovating the Vacation House—Part 1

I purchased a FNMA foreclosure which needed some work, but I had a plan. Everyone tells you to leave an extra 10-20% for contingencies, but I decided I would just over-estimate my expenses and that would cover contingencies. I’ll let you in on the first of three secrets.

You already know I research everything.  Even with all my research, the first contractor I choose is invariably the least competent one. It doesn’t matter how many or how good the references are, or how long they have been in business, or how great their website is.  For me, the first is the worst.  Suffice it to say that I started out by hiring a probably wonderful builder, but a bad building inspector. I knew it when he showed up with no ladder or tools and was not dressed to crawl into the crawl space. He told me a least one thing I didn’t know, so I counted it as a successful experience at the time. I wasn’t worried because I was already in contract, so no matter what the inspector found, I would move forward.

My husband was worried about my security and  friends of ours near Laurelville had been visited by burglars until they installed a gate, so my first step was to install a farm gate at the road. I found the gate at a local store and they gave me the name of someone who could install it, but that person never returned my calls (contractor #1). I found another contractor and he successfully installed it. 

A gate needs a lock and my search for the toughest lock led me to one with a strange sounding name.  New York Fahgettaboudit.  This is a lock used to secure motorcycles and bicycles in New York City, so it would be fine for my country gate.  It uses a type of lock technology that makes it virtually impossible to pick or fabricate a duplicate key.  These locks are known as rotating disk locks and when the key is inserted and turned, disks, like tumblers in a safe lock, rotate to the desired position.

With the gate in place and locked, it was time to start working on the inside.  Everything had been painted horrible colors (pink, bright blue) and all other surfaces were pink wallboard patterned with tiny flowers.  The kitchen countertop was white and stained.  I primered everything and painted the walls in forest shades and painted the counter in wheat. (Note: this was a paint and leave immediately situation—counter paint smells horrid).  I don’t purchase paint like others do.  I purchase mis-tints at greatly reduced prices ($5 to $10), then mix them to get my desired shade, not always with the best results.  I painted the two largest rooms twice, just to get the correct color—one that was pleasant to look at.  And when I ran out of my special mix in the middle of painting a room, I discovered how hard it is to match my mixes.  When I mix paints, I mix glosses and flats and semi-glosses and different paint brands.  When you have paint matched at the store, they ask you what brand it is.  Different brands must have different characteristics.  I created a challenge for the paint department with my custom mixes.  It took them several tries and they never did get the exact color, but it was close enough.  I am not a good painter and it took about a year to finish the last bit of wall.   

After I’d paint a room I would start ripping out the carpet.  This is smart because you can use the carpet as a drop cloth.  Unfortunately for the floors, ripping out carpet was quicker than painting on the first two rooms, so I decided to rip first and paint later.  Unfortunate because when we painted, we spilled and entire tray of primer on the bare subfloor in the main room which I had wanted to stain.  (I say we, because I had acquired a younger, stronger, helper.  Oh, well, Plan B. 

Who installs carpet and then builds walls over it? In one room, that is how the carpet was secured.  Staples, tack strips, and fastened beneath the wall.   The carpets were cheap and ugly and I had no intention of using carpet anywhere.  I used a linoleum cutter to rip carpet and pad to manageable size.  We used brute force to pull it from beneath the walls.  You can still see the shoe prints where we braced against the wall to pull it out.  Then I used a pry bar to pull nails and tacking strips and a scissors to trim what remained under the wall. I did this in the three largest rooms and it took a long time and much effort.  I had to cut the carpet pieces small enough to fit in my compact car, so I could haul them home and dispose of them.  For a number of months, I worked with rolled up carpet in a queue, waiting to be driven home and trashed.

My gate installation contractor was ready to start on the bathrooms.  He would be replacing subfloor, installing a shower, and replacing two vanities.  I  had hoped to use a prefabricated shower from Lowes, but the salesman pointed out to me that it would not fit through the doorway.  So I bought shower walls and base and fixtures, a refrigerator, and  bathroom vanities and sinks, all of which Lowes delivered for my contractor’s use. 

Stay tuned for the next installment where I discuss my second secret and how I worked around the disaster that lay ahead.

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Backup Options

Backup.  Backup.  Backup.  If you have important data on your computer (and who doesn’t?) you must backup.  There are several ways to backup your data.  The easiest is online using Carbonite or Acronis, or Norton 360.  Both of these programs will automatically backup your data to an off-site server location.  It’s easy and once setup you need do nothing.  The downside is that if you need to restore the data due to a hard drive crash or for some other reason, it is extremely slow.  A normal amount of data may take 12 hours or more to restore.  In addition, off-site does not mean always accessible as a small error by an Amazon employee proved recently.  An employee error during a normal process brought businesses to a halt as their data became inaccessible. 

A slightly less simple alternative is to backup to an external hard drive. External hard drives are available at office supply and electronics stores and generally run in the $70 range and up.  Although many of them come with backup software, the software is only accessible from the external hard drive and if that software becomes corrupt there may be no way to fix it and no way to retrieve your backup.  So, again I recommend Acronis or Norton 360 to perform the backup, because you can set them to backup to the external drive automatically.  Once set,they will perform incremental backups. And because they are installed on your computer, as long as you have a computer available you can reinstall and retrieve your backup.  Another note:  You should remove your hard drive to an offsite location on a regular basis or whenever your office or home will be unattended.

Some people have only a few files they want to back up and they want high portability for those files.  For them a flash drive is the best option.  Small and durable it can fit in a pocket, on a key ring, or anywhere else you might put it.  Cheaper flash drives require you to copy the files manually to the drive which is more difficult than using an automatic system.  The U3 operating system which is sold on some higher-priced flash drives allows you to run backup programs from the flash drive.  One manufacturer, SanDisk, sells drives with backup software, and they are the brand I use and recommend.  This type of backup is most suitable for documents because documents take up far less space than pictures, videos, or music, and fit well on these miniature drives.

What do I use?  I use Norton 360 and Acronis to backup to an external hard drive with redundant disks.  I keep important information on a flash drive.  And I have another computer on which I load data that is essential to my life.  Few need the amount of backup I use, but you do need something.  If you are not currently backing up your data, please consider doing so immediately.  

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When Do You Need to Call For Help?

Just like any appliance, a computer can become finicky with age.  At some point, you will ask yourself “Do I need a new one or should I have the present one repaired?”  One way to avoid this question is a monthly, quarterly or yearly checkup.  A monthly checkup is recommended if you are dependent on proper computer function in a high-paced workplace.  A quarterly checkup is recommended if your workplace computer needs are slower paced.  And finally, a yearly checkup is recommended if you are a home user.

What does a checkup include?  During a normal one-hour checkup (longer if problems are found), we examine your computer to ensure that all software applications are up to date.  These include Windows, office programs, Java, Adobe, your internet security, your web browser, and other miscellaneous programs.  Out of date programs can slow your computer and create security problems.  We also check your computer’s memory to ensure that you have sufficient to see you through the foreseeable future and we check hard drive space for the same reason.  Finally, if we suspect hard drive problems, we examine the drive itself using software tools. 

After our checkup we will present you with our findings and make recommendations based on your situation.  When we ask you questions, it is because we try to determine if you are a person who leans toward the next new thing or whether you prefer to make things last as long as possible, or whether you fall somewhere between those two extremes.  We have entered situations where the person was ready to purchase a new computer no matter what we found, other situations where the person wanted the computer fixed despite the fact that a new computer might have been less expensive.  Whatever options we present, we cannot foresee the future and no one can tell you how long any part of your computer may last.

So, whether it’s monthly, quarterly, or yearly, make your computer decisions wisely, based on sound information.  And if you’re behind on your checkup, give us a call now at 614-329-6671.

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Adventures in Buying a Vacation Home

The first step to owning a vacation home starts with research.  Research to see what’s available.  Research to find more or less desirable areas.  Research, research, research.  I love research and learning new things and exploring ideas and alternatives. I spent about 3 years doing research for this cabin, research that ultimately led me to refine my search.  I researched the state of Ohio using aerial maps and driving here and there, and subsequently restricted my search to areas in southern Ohio because there are many more public lands to enjoy. I looked for something small, within 1 hour 30 minutes to Columbus, priced at $50,000 or less (we did not want to incur debt), hilly wooded acreage, close to a lake for swimming, easy access to major highways, proximity to grocery and other amenities of a city, and close to hiking trails and lakes. I looked at Hocking, Athens, Vinton, Fairfield, Ross, Pike, and Highland counties. I frequently searched online at Trulia, FNMA, HUD, and others. I checked out sheriff’s sale lists and individual local realtor sites and auction sites like Williams & Williams, Bid4Assets, and

My husband and I physically viewed some properties from a too small cabin on too little land too far away to a cabin with a huge commercial light mounted next to the front door, bars on the doors and windows and half underground, leaking and moldy. We saw land that was too far away and too expensive and land that was in a good location but with poor roads, neighbors, and utilities. My dream continually returned me to the website of a one-room streamside cabin where I imagined myself writing and reading and lounging by the side of the stream, but that cabin was overpriced, far away, with no utilities and my practical side kicked in and finally turned me away from that one. I often despaired at finding my dream. When I did find well-priced land with utilities and buildings, they were useless buildings that would need to be removed (a Quonset hut and a leaky, tiny, no longer mobile (on blocks) mobile home.  I watched a couple of auctions and wondered at people who paid top dollar at auction for properties needing extensive structural repair.  

I had included raw land in my search and considered the idea of building later because land is more affordable, but, because building is very expensive, my search eventually narrowed to include only properties that already had a building.  In addition to the structure, water and septic can be a problem.  Water wells are hit and miss in hilly areas. Even though there is sufficient rain, much of the rainfall runs off the hills into streams and rivers and very little soaks into the ground. Unlike the 30-foot well at my primary residence, where the ground is flat and permeable, and which yields a strong flow of good quality water, wells in hilly areas are at least 100 feet deep or deeper, with poor water quality and weak flow.  The hilly terrain also causes a problem for septic systems.  The soil in these areas tends to be impermeable clay and rock,  so it is often difficult to get a septic system approved. I wanted someone else to have already dealt with the septic and water for anything I purchased.  In addition, I found it to be far less work and expense to purchase something that is already constructed, rather than to build new.

I finally found what I was looking for, or close to it. And while I couldn’t find everything on my list, I did find wooded hilly land, a building the right size, in my price range, with septic and water,  close to the Buckeye Trail, across from state forest land, close to a major highway and city amenities.  This was a Fannie Mae financed house which gave me some comfort because FNMA has standards for houses which it finances. 

I did not know how greatly Fannie Mae’s foreclosure process differed from other foreclosures and differed from purchasing from any other seller, but I soon learned.  FNMA requires all houses to go to bid and these bids must be submitted to FNMA by FNMA approved realtors.  You cannot submit a bid to FNMA unless you show the realtor proof of your ability to pay the amount bid, such as bank statements or a pre-approved loan.  These are blind bids; you do know know how much the other potential buyers are bidding.  I decided to bid full price.  The realtor suggested I could go lower, but did tell me there were other parties bidding.  A full price offer was a reasonable amount to pay, so I submitted the bid and expected a response within 24 hours as is normal in other transactions.

I soon discovered that FNMA looks at each bid submitted each day or over a period of days and chooses the one that will give FNMA the greater net proceeds.  In most real estate purchase transactions the purchaser makes an offer that is a contract.  Not FNMA.  It was several days before I received word that FNMA had accepted my bid, but I did not receive FNMA’s contract until much later and I asked that it be faxed to my real estate attorney for a quick review.  Most residential real estate purchase contracts are a page or two.  My attorney called me after receiving the contract and that’s when I found out FNMA’s contract contained thirteen pages.   My attorney was pressed for time, so he addressed his concerns with me, and I addressed mine with him as I drove I drove to Chillicothe to give the realtor my deposit and submit the contract. 

I felt almost sure about this purchase, but it was a sufficiently large expenditure to drain our savings, my husband was not completely happy about it, and I wanted to be as absolutely sure as I could that this was a right thing to do.  FNMA, being a large government agency, does not negotiate changes to their contract. Nevertheless, there were parts of the contract made me uncomfortable so I made changes before I submitted the contract to FNMA.  I do not believe in trying to put God in a situation where it seems like I am forcing him to act.  After all, who can control God?  It seems presumptive to even think about trying to force his hand.  But this one time, I asked him to let FNMA do what they always do and not accept my changes if he wanted me to back off from the cabin.  I told him that if FNMA rejected the contract, I would not move forward and that would be the end of it.  I fully expected that to be the end of it because I know government agencies are adverse to change.  And it wasn’t like mine was the only bid; the next closest bid was only $100 less than mine.

It took days for a response from FNMA.  Days when I wrestled with what the loss of a dream would mean.  Days when I felt alternately calm then sad at the loss I was sure to experience.   And yet it felt good.  It felt right.  I have often jumped into situations which may not have been the best choice.  There are people in my life today who believe that some of my current decisions are wrong.   Sometimes it’s difficult to know who to listen to.  Voices from good friends can give opposing advice.  Even God doesn’t usually tell me what is right.  There are clear principals and guidelines found in the Bible, but they may not cover every situation.  Sometimes the Spirit nudges me in a certain direction.  But usually I make a decision with no clear guidance, only desperate prayer that what I am doing is right.  I think that’s what makes me a risk-taker and business owner and it may inform some of my other decisions.

How do you decide who to marry?  Sure, you have your list and you have your feelings, but what if the person who matches your list and shares your feelings says no?  How do you decide what car to buy?  You have a list and you have a price, but what if the car that matches your list and price turns out to be a lemon?  How about your house?  Which is most important:  location, style, fixtures, price?  And when you finally do choose, is it really the right one?

This brings up the subject of cognitive dissonance.  It’s a psych-based marketing term that means when you make a decision to acquire something costly and actually do acquire it, you have feelings of doubt that you did the right thing.  We all have those feelings when we make a large purchase and auto companies, electronics companies and other high-ticket manufacturers do not spend their advertising dollars merely to sell us their product.  No!  Watch a commercial for the brand you own.  Does it make you feel better about purchasing it?  Of course it does.  The advertisers market to you before the sale and diminish cognitive dissonance after the sale, so we will feel good about the product we have purchased.  Think about that the next time you see a television or YouTube commercial or see an ad on the web or in a publication.  We also try to diminish our own cognitive dissonance by extolling the virtues of our purchase. 

Enough of this digression.  I’m sure you are wondering what happened to the FNMA contract and my  changes. 

I’ll tell you in the next installment. 

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Luna Moth



This Luna moth surprised me outside the door of my cabin yesterday afternoon.  I left the porch light on and it must have been attracted to the relative brightness on that sunny day.  Luna moths lay their eggs in leaf litter under trees (a reason not to rake leaves) or on the underside of low growing leaves.  They emerge from their cocoon and wait a couple of hours for their wings to harden before flying off.  Their usual life span is seven days, during which they must emerge, harden their wings, mate and lay eggs for future caterpillars.  They are in the same family as the silk moths and, while their cocoon is silky, there are so few Luna caterpillars that it is both impractical and unwise to harvest their cocoons for silk. 

I am thankful for the variety of trees and plants around the cabin which give me the opportunity to see beautiful creatures that cities have cast out.

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Luna Moth



This Luna moth surprised me outside the door of my cabin yesterday afternoon.  I left the porch light on and it must have been attracted to the relative brightness on that sunny day.  Luna moths lay their eggs in leaf litter under trees (a reason not to rake leaves) or on the underside of low growing leaves.  They emerge from their cocoon and wait a couple of hours for their leaves to harden before flying off.  Their usual life span is seven days, during which they must emerge, harden their wings, mate and lay eggs for future caterpillars.  They are in the same family as the silk moths and, while their cocoon is silky, there are so few Luna caterpillars that it is both impractical and unwise to harvest their cocoons for silk. 

I am thankful for the variety of trees and plants around the cabin which give me the opportunity to see beautiful creatures that cities have cast out.

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Why Did I Buy A Cabin?

I believe this is a question that circles the penumbra of the minds of people who know me.  My husband still thinks me crazy (Am I crazy because I think many people think I’m crazy?) for spending every bit I earn and then some.  I’m not always good at articulating all my reasons and I’m not sure I have the complete answer but here goes!

I have always felt compelled to give to poorer areas.  However, I have little income and some years ago my husband who rarely tells me not to do something, put the stop to my plan to give an extra 5-10% each year until I reached a 90% give rate with our income.  So I dropped back to 10-15% and looked for other ways to contribute. 

Studies have shown that 80% of funds spent in a community directly benefit the people in that community.  So, the amount that I spend on the cabin, for the utilities, the appliances, the contractors, the furnishings, the security system, the landscape, and everything else benefit Chillicothe and Waverly and Ross and Pike counties and the people who live there. 

Think about it.  When you pay money to a retailer, some of what you pay goes to taxes which benefit the city/village and county, some to employ people who now can spend money at retailers which benefits the city/village, the county, and more people.  And when you pay money to a local contractor, they usually spend it in the area in which they live.  So when I pay the plumbers and other contractors, I know where that money will likely stay:  in Pike and Ross counties.  

There’s another reason I wanted a cabin.  For a several years we vacationed at a state park cabin.  I enjoyed the scenery, the trails, the lake, but the bed was very uncomfortable and the second bedroom had space only for bunk beds so our married friends would have difficulty staying with us.  The first two years we slept on the floor on an air mattress because the bed was so uncomfortable.  With the light from the sidewalk shining in and the sounds of cars coming and going in the parking lot and people walking outside our door and past our cabin, it was difficult to sleep which is one of my primary goals for a vacation.

The final year we stayed at the state park, we removed the mattress, leaned it against the bedroom wall and put our air mattress on the bed.  That year, the people in the next cabin, whose deck was directly across from our bedroom window, brought their radio outside and and sang along loudly and out of tune as we tried to sleep.  In the evenings before bedtime, I would gaze at the walls of the cabin and dream of repainting and adding artwork.  A cabin we owned would compensates for the defects of the state park cabin.  Two full bedrooms with the same mattresses we use at home, no cars pulling in, no one walking by at night, no one singing out of tune,  We can sleep and dream.

Finally, I don’t like to pay taxes.  We are in a low tax bracket but I would would still  prefer to send as little money as possible to our wasteful out-of-control government.  I asked an accountant how I could lessen our taxes.  The only viable solution was to purchase a building and move my business there or start another business.  I did not want a building for my business and one business takes most of my time; another business was out of the question.  But what about a vacation rental?  I love real estate and I could have a vacation place to enjoy for a couple of weeks each year and rent it in the interim.  That’s a business that would provide personal  benefits and still give me a tax deduction.  How has it worked out, you ask?  The first year has been difficult and costly, but we did get a small tax refund for the first time in years.  Never an organizer or a bookkeeper, the cabin had added more organization and bookkeeping to my life.  But it’s also a joy.  There’s work now but later I can hike and write and most of our pre-vacation planning is gone.  We don’t have to plan ahead for aone or two day vacation and if I ever get to take an entire week, there’s very little planning involved.  And for right now, I enjoy the quiet every time I am there to work.

Should you buy a vacation rental second home?  Stay tuned and I’ll tell you more to help you make that decision.

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