ANYTHING BUT SPIDERS

I’m afraid of spiders. Not because they are dangerous, though some are. Not because they are poisonous. I’m afraid of spiders because they make my skin crawl. They scare me half to death and it doesn’t have to be a particularly malevolent member of the species. Under the right circumstance — like when I’m sleeping and wake up to find a spider on me — I can actually levitate from fear. Rise right up off the mattress, screaming. Wake everyone in the house.

A friend of mine was attacked by a wolf spider while sun bathing on her patio in Arizona. The thing was the size of a small dinner plate (dessert plate?) and landed on her breast, then proceeded to take a chunk out of her. The pain was one thing. The fear was so intense she promptly sold her house and moved to a place where there are no wolf spiders. I’m with her.

Giant forest scorpian (heterometrus laoticus)

Giant forest scorpion (heterometrus laoticus)

I lived in Israel and did not deal well with scorpions. I am not physically brave. I will take emotional and professional risks, no problem. One garden spider will unglue me.

Do I remember the last time this happened? No. There have been so many times. The best thing about a mindless phobia? You only have to imagine there’s a spider nearby to get your heart pounding, your blood rushing in your ears. It could turn be a bit of dust or dog hair brushing your leg. Or an ant.

It’s the thought that counts.


Fight or Flight – Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

A WORLD FULL OF FRIENDS

Daily Prompt: Cut Off – When was the last time you felt really, truly lonely?


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Until this morning when I saw this prompt, I was feeling pretty good about the friends and relationships I’ve formed during the past three years of blogging. Now why would you go and ask this question? The people who write these prompts must be very young. They are forever bringing up depressing topics that are real downers. Only the young think it’s fun to explore bad times.

But here’s a real, no kidding, response. Because Garry and I were talking about this very thing last night before bed.


Years ago, when I moved to Israel, I was suddenly a single mother in a new country with no friends, or acquaintances. Most people spoke English only a little and the customs were different. Emigrating to another country and culture is hard, but that’s what I signed up for. I wanted culture shock. I wanted something different, new. I wanted to tough it out and discover I could do it on my own. I was just 30 and I was ready to take on the world.

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It has been a long time since I felt that way. Nothing I could do in my native land and language, could match or exceed the isolation of being on my own on foreign soil.

Of course I felt lonely and isolated. I really was isolated. It wasn’t a mood I was in, or a feeling. It was reality, even though it was in a place I had chosen. With all its perils, change is healthy.

I am not lonely anymore. Being physically challenged, if this were even 25 years ago, I probably would be. The Internet lets me reach out and find friends all over the world. You — yes, you with your pot of tea and crumpets — have rocked my world. You are my friends, my support. How can I be lonely with wonderful friends like you?

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Across continents and oceans, from every corner and culture around the globe, you are my friends. I have a whole world full of friends. What a wonder this blogging thing has turned out to be!

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

Ice and snow still covers our land. It snowed several inches overnight. But it’s warmer today. Above freezing for the first time in weeks. I believe this is the first day of the great melting. Everything is dripping.

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I opened my window. I was able to pull off the sheath of ice which has clung to the window frame for weeks. I looked below and saw that birds had gathered.

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This land is home for many creatures, humans being the only primate. Some years, a bobcat lived here. Those years, we had few small animals. Our local bobcats are about the size of a large house cat, but powerful for their size, with a voracious appetite for squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits.

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We have birds. Buntings, woodpeckers, chickadee, robins, cardinals, jays, crows, hawks, American eagles. Big red-winged hawks who like to chow down in our driveway. It isn’t a charming sight. I’m always grateful when the big birds leave and take their leftovers with them.

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Coyotes are always nearby, as are fishers, raccoon, and skunk. Opossum, snakes, chipmunk. Our greatly reduced squirrel and rabbit population hasn’t quite rebounded from several years of depredations by bobcats. The cats have moved on to other hunting grounds. I hope our squirrels and bunnies will be back.

I hear owls, though have never see them. There are deer in the woods. Garry sees them from time to time. I’ve caught glimpses, but never a clear view.

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This morning, the birds were camped out in the frosty forsythia hedge. It must provide something they can eat. While I watched, a dark furry shape slunk by. Fisher? Fishers have returned to the valley after having been hunted to near extinction. Now, they vie with human for space to hang out in the sun … and being rather bad-tempered and sharp-clawed, usually take the field. One of them takes over our back yard on warm summer days. He likes napping in the sunny areas and does not (apparently) want human company.

The birds are not afraid of the fisher. Their perches on the forsythia put them above the fisher. He cannot get them. He knows it. They know it. He moved on, hoping for an unwary chipmunk or a juicy rat. Pickings have been lean for prey and predator on this  land, this winter.

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I like our land as it is. We use a bit for the house, a bit more for two small yards, front and back, and a driveway. The rest of our acreage belongs to the wild things.


A Plot of Earth – You’re given a plot of land and have the financial resources to do what you please. What’s the plan?

EEK, ICK, YUK

Wolf Spider (Virginia, USA)

Wolf Spider (Photo: Wikipedia)

I’m afraid of spiders. Not because they are dangerous, though some are. Not because of the potential toxicity. I’m afraid of spiders because they are creepy, make my skin crawl, and make me scream like a little girl.

EEK, I shriek and jump straight out of my chair with my heart pounding like a trip hammer. The loudness of my EEK and the hysterical pounding in my chest is in direct proportion to the blackness and largeness of the spider. Bigger is scarier. Big, black and hairy might actually kill me from sheer panic and irrational terror.

A friend of mine was attacked by a wolf spider while sun bathing on her patio in Arizona. The thing was the size of a dessert plate. It landed on her breast and proceeded to take a chunk out of her. The pain was minor compared to the fear. Her terror was so intense she sold her house and moved to a place where there are no wolf spiders.

I’m with her.

But today, I am a warrior. I am a woman of power and pride.

I went into my bedroom to change my clothing this afternoon. There, in the middle of my white blanketed bed was a medium-sized black garden spider. Did I scream in panic? Did I even go EEK?

I rallied my womanly strength, balled up my clean pink tee-shirt I had just taken from my cupboard and squished it. Kept at it until it was nothing but a black smear of used-to-be-a-spider. Then, I put the tee-shirt on.

I went and told my husband. He gave me a proud thumb’s up.

I wear dead spider proudly. I am woman. Hear me roar.

IT’S NATIONAL SQUIRREL DAY! MEET PROJECT SQUIRREL!

Become a Citizen Scientist. Click the link to read about Project Squirrel and to tell us about squirrels near you. Project Squirrel has been operating since 1997. During this time, over 1000 people have offered their knowledge, provided observations, and filled out the forms. We have been able to learn a great deal about these squirrels, particularly in the Chicago Metropolitan Region. Observations from other parts of the country have also been welcome and interesting.

Source: www.projectsquirrel.org

In honor of National Squirrel Day …. What, you didn’t know? Well, today is National Squirrel Day. Project Squirrel gives you the opportunity to participate in … well … watching squirrels. Taking pictures of squirrels. And sharing your squirrel stuff with other squirrelly people.

Happy National Squirrel Day!

See on Scoop.itForty Two: Life and Other Important Things

SNOW FALLING WITH PAW PRINTS

For once, our weather forecasts were dead on. They predicted a little bit of snow. Less than an inch. I’m always suspicious because so often, they predict “a little bit of snow” and I wake up in the morning and we are buried under two or more feet of white stuff.

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But this time, Wunderground predicted snow would start falling around 9 in the morning and end an hour or two later.

Indeed it did. When I got up at eight, it was overcast, but nothing was on the ground nor was anything falling. I went back to bed. I got up an hour later. It was snowing. I grabbed a camera, took a few pictures. Always trying to capture the falling snow. It’s easier to see the flakes at night than it is during the day, but you can judge for yourself whether or not I succeeded.

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Bonnie thought I was offering her a rare opportunity to explore the deck and had to go out and poke around, so her paw prints are all over at least one picture.

Bonnie was a Christmas puppy and her natural habitat is snow. I remember housebreaking Bonnie during one of the snowiest winters we ever had. Up to my hips in snow, with more of it falling and the wind blowing. It was dark and so cold. There I was, saying “Bonnie, please just go already.”

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And Bonnie was playing with the snow, making tunnels. Bounding through drifts. Rolling and digging. Never mind poor mom who needed to go inside to defrost.

She still loves the snow, although these days she is equally happy with piles of leaves that drop from the oaks every autumn. Anything in which she can dig and tunnel. Terriers. Earth dogs indeed. But also, snow dogs.

THE ASS END OF LIFE – CREATION, DESTRUCTION, AND A CAT

Patricia was a silver-tipped Persian cat. Although she was not an outdoor cat, she managed to slip past us where her fans, the local toms, were eagerly waiting for her. She was unspayed because I had hoped to breed her. She apparently harbored the same hope, but had her own ideas about who would father the next generation.

On local roads ...

Not surprisingly, Patricia (she was so patrician) showed up pregnant. It was not the first unplanned pregnancy among our felines, nor would it be the last. Fortunately, we had plenty of friends who were more than happy to adopt one of Patricia’s progeny, purebred or not. When her day came, it turned out she was carrying only one enormous kitten who barely survived delivery. Breathing, yes. But that was all. Too weak to nurse and likely doomed. Patricia was fine, but utterly uninterested in the entire business.

A friend and his girlfriend were visiting at the time. She and I were fussing over the kitten, trying to convince it to nurse, or take a little formula from a doll-sized bottle. It wasn’t going well. Patricia was ignoring her kitten, a sure sign she did not believe her offspring could live.

Bob commented: “That kitten is going to die. Don’t get all weepy about this. Death is just the ass end of life.”

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It’s so many years later I can’t even count the decades, but that really stuck in my head. “Death is the ass end of life.” Not very romantic, but then again, there’s nothing romantic about death. It’s the final part of the cycle of life. Beginnings, endings, and there’s some stuff in the middle.

I have not died yet (what, you didn’t notice?) but I fully expect the day will come. Maybe sooner rather than later. I always hope for the best, but you can only play dodge’em with Death so many times until he outwits you.

Meanwhile, a few observations.

It’s not just that every creature born will die. It is that everything ever created — by nature or man — will eventually disintegrate. End. Stop working. Disappear. Need replacement. From your expensive kitchen appliances, to the even more expensive car you drive, to the pyramids in the Nile Valley. The trees and the flowers in the garden. From the day of creation onward, everyone and everything is marching to a final destruction.

Let’s not worry about the future so much. Despite what happens along our individual paths, our end will be the same regardless. The ass end of life awaits. I plan to have as many laughs as I can on the way.


CREATION AND DESTRUCTION – The Blacklight Candelabra

For the inaugural writing prompt, I am challenging you to discuss the interrelatedness of creation and destruction.

These are prompts for those of us who would appreciate prompts which are more of a challenge than those offered by WordPress. This is the first of what I hope will be many!

NO ONE WILL NOTICE

No one will notice.

Our cat, Big Guy, was a very smart feline. Beautiful, sweet, funny. We lived in Boston back then and he was not allowed outside. Between the traffic, disease, and stray dogs, it was not a world to which I would expose our gentle boy. Of course Big Guy wanted out. I could not blame him, but there was no way he was setting paws onto those mean streets.

Big Guy

Big Guy

Yet, every once in a while, we would have the door open, bringing in packages, or coming, or going. Big Guy, tail at full mast, would walk out the door towards the street. No running. Measured steps.

No one will notice,” he must have thought. “I’ll just casually stroll out and inspect the neighborhood.” Of course we noticed. When his attention was called, he looked at us as if to say, “What? Don’t I do this every day?”

Then there are the dogs. Bishop, the size of a small, but extremely furry pony, calmly walking out the back door. Like it’s an everyday occurrence.

Or Bonnie, with her long black claws clacking down the hallway, in her ongoing attempt to get into the laundry basket,  or Nan, trying to steal the mouse from my computer. They are sure no one will notice.

Last night we were watching Castle. The bad guys were trying to kill them. The last of the good guys had been shot and was in the hospital. Castle and Beckett decide to interview the guy — secretly, in his hospital room. Except … you mean … no one will notice this famous author and his cop partner going into the room of a heavily guarded near-victim?

Beckett and Castle were working under the same fundamental belief as Big Guy. No one will notice. We’ll just casually stroll into the hospital room, no problem.

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Sure enough. When the scriptwriter is on your side, anything is possible. Of course, it got the guy killed, but he was merely a guest star, so it didn’t matter.

In real life, everyone notices. I have never successfully snuck anyplace without someone hailing me, asking for my identification, or deciding they need to chat about something. Maybe it’s me. I do not seem to have a stealthy bone in my body.

Sad, but true. Despite the premise in so many television shows and the belief of my dogs that no one will notice whatever they do … not even that big furry butt skulking towards the forbidden exit … I never get away with anything. Ever.

Probably it’s time for me to give up my plans of becoming the next great international spy. You think?