Why ‘Spiders’?

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Hi!!!! It’s Friday, and for the second time in nearly two years, that means something to me again! Woot! I have ‘me time’ for one evening and two whole days!

I’m having blogging withdrawals, and Brushes withdrawals. I’ve been working on a version of Usyaka, but I’m nowhere near happy with it yet, so I won’t post it tonight.

I thought I’d return to the reason I started the blog: the writing! I miss it. Sometimes I didn’t really feel like writing, but once I started I was happier every time. Except for the long-ass post that got lost, that still irritates me.

Anyhoo, one of the things I’ve been meaning to write about is my blog name, and why I chose ‘spiders’ instead of any other creature when ‘dragons’ was taken.

I used to be afraid of spiders, like every kid is, or should be. It is way easier (and safer) to teach your child that all snakes and spiders are dangerous than to wait until they pick one up and then decide if it is venomous or not. That never really worked with me as regards snakes – I could and did catch any of them I could find. I got bitten by a wild snake once, and to this day I have no idea what kind of snake it was because the bite worked: I let go. It wasn’t poisonous, thankfully.

In any case this was Florida. We had loads of dangerous spiders: the black widow and the brown recluse being the two we all worried about. But when I was small, all spiders were bad and scary so ‘eww’ and/or ‘eek’ would have been my reaction to any and all of them.

Until I did a chore for my father.

When we moved to Florida, we built a garage on to the ‘new’ house, which was a red brick ranch. The builders left a bunch of bricks and concrete cinder blocks behind. Dad stacked them up neatly at the side of the house, and there they remained for nearly a decade. One day he decided they needed to be moved – I think when we bought a shed and needed a wider path to get it around the back of the house. I was old enough, and strong enough, and tomboy enough, to either be chosen for the job or told to do it. I’m bad with time sense, but I was younger than 12 and older than 9… I think.

Every damn brick I picked up had spiders living in the three holes, or between the bricks. Every damn brick had at least three arachnid residents. Any other insect, I would have been fascinated. The spiders kept creeping me out.

I eventually got sick and tired of saying ‘eww’ and started paying attention to them. I saw how they never even attempted to bite me. I saw how they were all sizes and body shapes and colours. Some were tiny and black with bright white spots and jumped instead of walked. Some had skinny, long legs and elongated bodies. Some were large and fat and a lovely grey shade with brown legs.

I found that I was beginning to like some of them, especially the grey ones. I caught some and kept them in jars. I would take them out and play with them – they were 2 inches long, or longer with their legs stretched out. They never bit, but they were fast! I always worried I would hurt one by accident. For all their size, they were soft and fragile.

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I just remembered this: a pencil drawing I did of my favourite grey spider when I was 13. I put the spider on the paper and drew points where her feet touched, so this is life-size.

I learned how to tell the males from females. I learned that if you blow a little puff of air on a spider, they freeze in their tracks. There goes the urban myth that spiders crawl into our mouths when we are asleep – I guarantee you they hate being breathed on!

Eventually I bought myself a tarantula. I named her Chrysanthemum the Tarantulum. She was incredible. Her feet were, to the naked eye, as round and smooth as a finger tip. But somehow they could hold on to you! You could feel the foot clinging. It was as if she and I were the opposite sides of Velcro. She was so strong, too – she peeled back the plastic lid on her massive pickle jar and held it open while she chewed through the screen to escape (found her in my closet). We obtained a terrarium.

My mother was fascinated with ‘Chrissy’ too. Her co-workers would catch crickets in the office for her to being home as food. If we had company over, mom would ask if they wanted to meet her. I’d put her on the kitchen table and we’d giggle as she turned her body sideways to go between the salt and pepper instead of going around or over. Then she’d put on a burst of speed and startle the hell out of all of us.

When I was 15, I learned how to give myself a tattoo. I sat on the couch and diligently branded my left hand with a spider tat. It was black ink but has been blue for decades because home-grown tattoos go too deep and the ink changes colour. But it still looks like a spider!

I don’t catch wild spiders to keep any more, and it is too cold here for me to want to get another tarantula. But I never kill them, and I always feel bad when Lokii gobbles one down.

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That blue blur at the bottom of the pic is my tattoo. It isn’t actually blurry, just a bad shot!

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38 responses »

  1. Interesting, Spiders! How you changed your fear for spiders into interest for them. I myself am terrified for spiders (and for some more animals), even the smallest freak me out. And I’m even too scared to smack them with a newspaper.

    It feels nice to write again, does it? 😉

    • Maybe I’ve helped a little with your fear? It does come from your parents trying to keep you safe, but it isn’t needed any more 🙂 I’m amazed how many Irish are scared of snakes, in a country famous for not having any- I don’t understand why they are afraid. Lack of knowledge, I suppose. I don’t like pigs or monkeys, and have a damn good reason for not liking to see a lot of big ants…another story! Yes, this was fun to write!

      • I’m not afraid of snakes at all! Maybe because they are only kept as a pet here, and are barely find in the wild. And yes! I think you did helped a little bit my fear, I as reading, how you turned your fear into interest for spiders, and I was like “If she can do it, I can do it!” Sadly, I haven’t found any spiders here in house yet. And Suki usually eats those spiders before I can actually kill them. 😮

        Pigs and Monkeys? 😮 Oh, god, Ants. Don’t even get me started. I also have a great fear for sharks. I don’t know why, but they really frighten me. I always skip the shark-part at the zoo, just like any shark shows on tv. I blame the movie Jaws.

  2. Spiders are very interesting – they kill annoying bugs like mosquitoes (anything that limits the mosquito population is my friend). So determined, such engineers, so busy…so many kinds. But ugh, I always poke bricks and roll them with a stick because of those holes – we have brown recluse and black widows, too. Great post

  3. I will never forget one day some years ago when there was a freaky spider crawling around at work and and from around the corner from another room in the office this rather tall good looking red head came out to Rescue the poor dear spider from us shrieking idiots. She expertly scooped up the fragile creature and insisted on carrying it all the way outside to safety. She was elegant and calm in her movements and we were all mesmerized by her. I fell in love that day. I am proud to call her Best Friend. Spider, you are magical. Your turn of phrase transports me like no other.

    (I LOVE that spider drawing!!!!!)

  4. I, too, love spiders and carefully rescue them if I find them in some situation, inside my house or out, where it is not okay for them to continue. I never went so far as to have a pet tarantula, but Madam Arachne fascinates me nonetheless. I think of her as the guardian of my house (even though I do check to see if a spider is one of those dangerous species).

    I once dated a fellow who hated all “bugs” and I remember smacking his arm up out of the way — with considerable force, don’t forget I throw big dumbbells around — when he moved to smack a spider dead. To this day I remember the stunned look on his face. I put the spider out into the shrubbery, where I always see webs.

    My Wicked Stepmother (only six months younger than I) grew up in Florida, and keeps snakes.
    http://sledpress.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/vacuums-with-snakes/

  5. Wow, this is just fascinating. And I flat-out ADORE the drawing. It is exquisite!! (and HUGE!) How amazing you had a tarantula, I just love your description of her little feet clinging. This is really extremely cool and totally puts another dimension on your blog. Thank you!

    We in Arkansas have quite the array of spideys too, though probably not as many as FL — were you following me when I posted this one, with a pic of a spider I was impressed with?

    http://catself.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/beauty-and-the-beast-or-vice-verse/

    Or how about this one, with the hole in the ground?

    http://catself.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/a-sense-of-safety/

    Would love your feedback on these . . . .

    • Ooo! No, I didn’t see these: sadly I seem to rarely have time to go backwards and play catch up! The funnel spider could be one of many, no help there! I don’t think I’ve seen the red-legged one either, but hard to say as I can’t tell how big she is. I bet you’d have a lot of the same beasties in AR. My grey spiders lived under the eaves, for the most part. They made smallish tunnel webs up there between the brick and the siding under the overhang. I can’t remember how I managed to tease them out for capture!

  6. I am so impressed by you. I mean it. look at it this way, when I was in the military, an Arm 20 year old, a great he man ( ya, all 120 pounds of me ) of the army. I couldn’t be assigned to clean the windows in the barracks common room because I would totally freak out if there was a spider. I was a guy who drove through East Germany with people in my van not knowing the route, I was the guy who was shot at in East Berlin and thought nothing of it, but I had to run to my roommate / lover to get rid of the nasty creepy spider things so I could clean the windows. My room mate just started to volunteer for the job to keep the snickering down. Hey lets make a deal, I will let you deal with all the spiders and I will deal with the thing that upsets you??? Deal ???? Thanks again, you are amazing. Hugs

        • Ha! Okay then. I was thinking of a little boy I knew who loved snakes. Every bit of string was a ‘nake!’ Then one day outside he found a REAL one. His mom was terrified that he would get bitten that she screamed and physically grabbed him away. I’m pretty sure it scarred the little boy for life! But I understand why – he was still too young to know better.

      • To be serious.. When I was very young, some of my first memories..remember I was an abused child.. was being left in dark places were things crawled on me and over me…plus the very first movie I can remember seeing was the one of the shrinking man that gets to small and has to fight a , to him huge spider.. and I developed a real fear and hatred of them.. that I am only trying to get over now. hugs

          • Ya, and so I was really scared of them, and my grand parents had farms and farms have lots of very ugly unhappy spiders… I never got over being afraid of them.
            Hugs

            • Maybe methane ..cow farts ?? I don’t know, maybe all the stray cats we had or even worse, maybe the farm was in a low rent district and they had to fight to keep their space, or maybe it was high rent and they couldn’t afford it in flies… Maybe they were executive spiders who did not get enough time off to go to the theater.???? I never learned to talk spider as I was all ways responding to their approach with eeeeekkkeekekekk shriek…shriek in a higher key… oh my god help me I have to get away….aggrreefg thump as I hit the barn door post… not had great eye sight back then..That is my story and I am web stuck to it… Hugs

            • I am trying to remind my self there is life still to live.. that what happened does not mean it all stops. Maybe, just maybe the greatest gift I have is my cats, both of them reminded me they loved me, but I still had a duty to the cat box cleaning and to the cat treat giving out and most important on the list is the Scottie lap time for each. complete with the mandatory rubs and combing. Yes thank you. Life for me has gone on ..this time .. by the luck of the draw…. I have so much at my finger tips but all my computers, all my stuff can’t stop one crazy shooter and can NOT bring back one of those young kids.. they were kids you know to me.. I am an old man.. and kids died. I know it is the way of life.. but Damned if I like it. Crying hugs.

            • It is hard, I have been hated before in childhood just for being..but I thought it was done and over.. I have lost jobs, been denied promotions when I scored the highest just because I was gay.. I took my lumps, but never did I face death just for my sexuality.. I have faced armed guns and I have been shot at for our country. But not because I was a gay man, it was because I was a US Army. I had a way to fight back.. how to fight back now..Today I think they only way to fight back is to live..yes live, live open live for each other.. Live and show and be seen. Fight for the rights we have and should have and fight to stand with every well wishing person who will stand with us. Our best weapon is ourselves. To show we are people, we are human, we are brothers and sisters, mother and fathers and we ARE HUMANS!!!! then maybe those who wish for a god will see having a human is so much better. many hugs and best wishes.

            • yes, very hard.. listening to 1970 and 1980 music to help sooth the part of me that rages at this. See a part of me wants to hate, wants to be angry, to destroy and tear things up.. but that is there way , not our, not mine. I will fight, but I will fight by being the best most honorable gay man in a same sex marriage I can ever be. Hugs

Thoughts? Gardening tips? Cocktail recipes? Don't just like and leave, please - I can talk for Ireland and would love to prove it!

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