far-west-texas

I know I might be getting a little over-enthusiastic this month but….this month means a lot to me. Growing up most of life in west Texas, I’ve experienced a lot of first hand homophobia, both internalized and societal. I hated myself for who I was for a good majority of my adolescent life. Living in the far west parts of Texas, was never good for the mental health of a young closeted lesbian teenage girl. I honest to god believed something was sick and wrong about me for how I would think about women. I would wake up after having wet dreams about me and other girls and see myself as perverted and malicious. This was even after I accepted my sexuality.

I never thought I would live long enough to see an entire month dedicated to people like me showing pride in themselves. I am so so lucky to experience this in my life, especially so early in my life. I am not even 20 yet and I had witnessed a movie telling the story of two homosexual men win best picture in the fucking oscars. I can’t believe how amazing that is, how lucky I am to be alive today to witness that. Every day more and more LGBT people come out and accept who they are and I think that’s beautiful.

At this point in my life I have lost both of my parents and live with my sister. I never had enough time to tell either of them the truth about my sexuality, but I believe that in whatever afterlife they currently reside, they know about who I am. And I think that they accept me for who I am, for who I love. And I do too.

I’m getting emotional again, but I’d just like to say thank you. Thank you to people like Laverne Cox, to Jaden Smith, to the directors of Moonlight and Carol. People who are openly supporting, identifying and spreading the love for LGBT people. To help LGBT youth accept who they are and love themselves for it. Thank you to my loving beautiful girlfriend, Finnegan, who has stood by my side every second even after my dads passing. Thank you to the LGBT community as a whole for everything you’ve done for eachother. Happy pride month.

Peppermint Stripe Corn Snake

The corn snake is a species of rat snake that subdues its small prey by constriction, the pink peppermint stripe is a common morph to the naturally orange and checkered pattern species. Adults can grow to be 2-6ft and live in the wild 6-8years and in captivity up to 23 years. Wild corn snakes prefer overgrown fields, forest openings, trees, palmetto flat woods and abandoned buildings. They can be found in the southeaster US, ranging from New Jersey to the Florida Keys and as far west as Texas. 

5 x 7 inches
Acrylic on paper
Aimee Lusty, December 1, 2015.

-Available $75-

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7/4/2016                         Southern Black Widow

                                       A Beautiful Southern Belle !

Class Arachnida (Arachnids)
Order Araneae (Spiders)
Infraorder Araneomorphae (True Spiders)
No Taxon (Entelegynes )
Family Theridiidae (Cobweb Spiders)
Genus Latrodectus (Widow Spiders)
Species mactans (Southern Black Widow)
Other Common Names
Black Widow - The L. mactans is often considered the original “Black Widow”.
“The Hourglass Spider” because of the red hourglass shaped mark on the female’s abdomen.
“The Shoe Button Spider” due to the form of the spider’s jet-black abdomen.
Pronunciation
lat"ro-dek’t[schwa]s mac'·tans
Explanation of Names
See the Latrodectus guide page for the etymology of Latrodectus.
Size
Adult Female:
    Approximately 8-13 mm (~½ inch) in body length.
    With legs extended, the female measures about 25-35 mm (1 inch - 1 ½ inches).

Adult Male:
    Approximately half the size of the female, around 4-6 mm (¼ inch) in body length.
    With legs extended, the male measures 12-18 mm (½ inch - 2/3 inch).Identification
The southern black widow is one of the most common of the native widow spiders. It is the epitome of the classic widow spider, occurring in all the normal widow spider habitats. Female: The adult female black widow spider has a glossy jet black color all over, including body and legs. The only red marks are the bright red hourglass mark on the underside of the abdomen, and a red spot just behind and above the spinnerets. The hourglass marking consists of two connected red triangles on the underside. Note, however, that the hourglass color may range from yellowish to various shades of orange or red. If the hourglass marking is not connected (e.g. - two distinct, non-touching triangles), it is most likely the northern cousin (L. variolus) of the southern black widow (L. mactans).Males: Adult males are harmless, is 3-5 mm long with an elongated abdomen. The male’s legs are larger than the female’s and each joint is orange brown in the middle and black on the ends. On the sides of the male’s abdomen there are four pairs of red and white stripes. Immatures: Newly hatched spiderlings are predominately white or yellowish-white, gradually acquiring more black and varying amounts of red and white with each molt. Juveniles of both sexes resemble the male and are harmless.Web
The web is typically a 3-dimensional, unorganized mass of silk spun in a dark crevice or corner. The web is sticky, and very strong. If the web is active (in use), the female will be in or very near the web.
Range
It ranges as far north as southern New York, as far south as Florida, and as far west as Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. (L. mactans has been found in California, possibly indicating that it can be found in any southern state.) The Southern black widow spider also occurs throughout all four deserts of the American southwest. In addition, Latrodectus mactans has been found in parts of southern Canada.
Habitat
Outdoors, black widow spider webs are usually built in woodpiles, rubble piles, under stones, in hollow stumps, and in rodent burrows. These spiders commonly occur in outbuildings such as privies, sheds, and garages. Indoors, they prefer undisturbed, cluttered areas in basements and crawl spaces. It is also associated with littered areas, with dumps of large cities, with garages, and storage sheds.
Food
They typically prey on a variety of insects, but occasionally they do feed upon wood lice, diplopods, chilopods and other arachnids. When the prey is entangled by the web, L. mactans quickly comes out of its retreat, punctures and poisons its prey(1) The poison takes about 10 minutes to take effect, meanwhile the prey is held tight by the spider(1). When movements of the prey cease, digestive enzymes are released into the wound(1). The black widow spider then carries its prey back to its retreat before feeding(1). Latrodectus mactans is exclusively carnivorous and antagonistic. Ordinarily it feeds on insects; however, it also consumes wood lice, diplopods, chilopods and other arachnids. Usually, the black widow spider enswathes prey caught in its snare, bites it, and later drags it to its hub, or retreat, to be eaten. Latrodectus mactans inflicts a small wound on its prey, uses its cheliceral teeth to mash it up, pours digestive enzymes on the prey; and sucks up the resulting food. The whole digestion process takes place outside the spider’s body.
Life Cycle
Mating takes place in spring or summer. Black widow spiders reproduce sexually where the male inserts his palpus into the female’s spermathecal openings. The notion that female always eat the male after mating is incorrect! Females have been observed killing and eating the male after mating; however, a large majority of males do escape, especially when he doesn’t remain around the web after mating, and the female is already well-fed.The female lays eggs onto a web where they are camouflaged and guarded. A female black widow spider can produce nine egg sacs in one summer, each containing about 400 eggs . Usually, eggs incubate for 20-30 days, but more than 12 rarely survive through this process, due to cannibalism. It takes two to four months for black widow spiders to mature. The female live on for 180 days after maturing, while a male only lives on for another 90 days. Copulation among Latrodectus mactans is unique. A mature male spins a small “sperm web” and deposits a small quantity of semen on it. He then charges his palps with the sperm, abandons his habitat, and spends considerable effort to locate a female of his species. Once the female black widow spider has been located, courtship begins. The male vibrates the threads of the female’s snare to be sure she is the right species, for her to recognize him as a mate, and to make her receptive to mating. Mating takes place when the male inserts his papal organs into the spermathecal openings of the female. The spermatozoa are released onto the eggs. The female black widow spider’s egg sac is globular shaped (pear-shaped), and are about 1/3 to ½-inch diameter. Sacs are white at first, later turning tan or gray. The eggs are laid onto a small web and are covered with more silk until they are completely surrounded by an egg sac or cocoon. This egg sac is then camouflaged, guarded (while suspended in the web), or carried by the female. Within the egg sac, the eggs hatch and spiderlings (juveniles) emerge. The spiderlings hatch and molt (shed their skin) one time while inside the egg sac. They then disperse by ballooning—extruding silk threads and being transported by air currents. Their growth to maturity requires 2 to 4 months depending on the availability of prey. Spiderlings molt several times before reaching maturity. In addition, the female Latrodectus mactans can store a lifetime supply of sperm to fertilize all the eggs she will ever produce.

I don’t want to die and go on off to paradise
There are more fun places here that I can patronize
And you my friend aren’t born again
You’re dead already

If I can’t go to heaven let me go to LA
Or the far West Texas desert or an Oregon summer day
If we build a Utopia will you come and stay?
Shangri-La La La La La La La La La…

-Yacht

Los Angeles will always be the most beautiful place in the world to me. #home